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What's in Season Right Now? (Winter 2017)

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Seasonality of what you consume is more important than ever. Not only are restaurants adopting the practice of creating dishes that use ingredients that are in season, but many grocery stores are also beginning to do the same.

One of the most important things you can do is to arm yourself with the knowledge of what's in season during certain months so you can make the most out of the produce.

In-season produce not only tastes better, but you're also supporting the local farmers and eliminating your carbon footprint by minimizing orders for items that aren't available in your area, but are grown across the world and have to be shipped.

Here's what's in season during Winter 2017. Continue reading “What's in Season Right Now? (Winter 2017)” »

As It Turns Out, Coconut Oil Isn't That Good For You

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Coconut oil has been lauded as one of the most impressive health products for years now. From being a moisturizer to the preferred cooking oil, coconut oil boasts many benefits and reigns supreme as top health food. That is, until now.

In June, the American Heart Association (AHA) re-emphasized their long-standing recommendation to limit food sources of saturated fat, and in it, they specifically single out coconut oil as one of the worst sources. According to the statement, coconut oil is just as bad as beef fat and butter because it's mostly saturated fats.

Saturated fats are known to raise LDL cholesterol, which is the "bad" cholesterol that's often linked to animal plants. LDL is also found in tropical plant oils, such as coconut. Its makeup, according to the AHA, is about 82% saturated fat. Comparatively, butter is only 63% saturated fat and, perhaps even more surprising, beef is only 50%.

An even stranger statistic gathered by the AHA shows that about 72% of Americans believe that coconut oil is a healthy source of oil, whereas only 37% of nutritionists suggest so.

Of course, this raises the question as to how coconut oil gained its reputation. One important takeaway is to always research what the latest food trend is and rely on reputable sources like actual nutritionists as opposed to your favorite health guru on Instagram.

Read more on the American Heart Association's findings over at Huffington Post.

Everything You Need to Know About Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, has many names. Indian ginseng, padalsingh, and winter cherry are just a few of the titles that it also carries. As its most common moniker, Indian ginseng, implies, ashwagandha has certain rejuvenating properties that make it one of the most beloved herbs in the health world.
Continue reading “Everything You Need to Know About Ashwagandha” »

What's in Season Right Now? (Summer 2017)

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Seasonality of what you consume is more important than ever. Not only are restaurants adopting the practice of creating dishes that use ingredients that are in season, but many grocery stores are also beginning to do the same.

In-season produce not only tastes better, but you're also supporting the local farmers and eliminating your carbon footprint by minimizing orders for items that aren't available in your area, but are grown across the world and have to be shipped.

Here's what's in season during Summer 2017. Continue reading “What's in Season Right Now? (Summer 2017)” »

We Were on The Marilyn Denis Show!

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Earlier this week, the Urban Cultivator Residential made its debut on CTV's The Marilyn Denis Show. Featured as one of the household appliances that you should be investing in, Marlyn and Ramsin Khachi, renowned design-build contractor, the two explore the benefits of some of the best kitchen appliances in the game right now.

"This is the way of things to come," Khachi tells Marilyn in the segment. "The cost savings in this are just buying food—you're growing your own herbs for salads and meals. They're so efficient, growing from days to weeks."

Watch the clip over at The Marilyn Denis Show site!

From Marilyn
"Easily grow Fresh herbs and microgreens right in your kitchen in as little as 5 days. Requires no effort- automatic lights and watering makes the process easy and effortless. We provide the seed and everything you need to grow.

The Urban Cultivator Residential lets you control what you eat- grow fresh, nutrient dense, organic microgreens year round. Microgreens can be used in salads, smoothies, juices and cooking."

Teff is About to Become Your New Favorite Grain

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Earlier this week, the New York Times revealed their list of food prediction trends for 2017. Along with sorghum, spirulina, and whey, the publication also names teff as one of 2017's next big food. So, what is teff anyway?

Originating from Ethiopia, teff (or Eragrostis tef) is a tiny ancient grain that's high in protein and important minerals like iron. Evidently, it's been around for some time, but it didn't catch on in North America until about two years ago, when sales soared after there was a renewed interest in ancient grains.

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In addition to being low in fat and sodium, teff is a very nutrient dense food that contains eight essential amino acids, calcium, copper, aluminum, manganese, phosphorous, barium, thiamin, and of course, iron. It's also rich with vitamin C, which is not very common within grains.

Teff can also help to control blood sugar level with its relatively low glycemic index that can help diabetics better regulate their sugar levels and athletes like runners fuel up before a big race. As well, like flax before it, teff can help improve digestion by regulating bowel movements.

Perhaps most importantly, though, teff has actually shown to improve symptoms associated with celiac disease if it was eaten regularly enough as well as iron deficiencies.

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Health benefits aside, teff is an incredibly versatile grain that can be eaten in a variety of ways, from being eaten whole to being baked into cakes. Its nutty flavor can help add dimension to any dish, lending itself very well to such things as breads, pancakes, and much more.

Now that you know a little more about teff, try these recipes and start incorporating 2017's superfood into your diet!

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Banana bread with teff and chocolate

via Oldways Whole Grains Council

Ingredients
1 cup teff flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until well-blended, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, beating until blended.

Add the banana and vanilla, beating until blended. Beat in the water. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into an 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

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Teff brownies

via WildFlours gfg

Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut sugar or maple sugar
2 cups dark Teff Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbls cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch nutmeg
pinch cardamom
2/3 cup softened coconut oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
Topping Ingredients (optional):

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
1 Tbls coconut sugar
1-2 Tbls melted coconut oil

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a glass baking dish (9×9) or square cake pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix well. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients except the coconut sugar with a whisk. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil, applesauce pumpkin puree and coconut sugar until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat again. Stop and scrape down the sides.Then beat again until the dough thickens slightly.

Spread the dough into the prepared pan using a spatula. Even it out so that it is level and smooth. Sprinkle with prepared topping if using.

Bake for 20 minutes (do not over bake). Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Teff is just another thing to add to your diet so you can make 2017 your best year ever. A varied diet featuring microgreens and such grains will help you ace those goals.

And, considering the versatility of teff, adding it into your diet can be as easy as blending it into your morning microgreen smoothie!

Will you be trying teff out in 2017? Had it before and have a great recipe featuring it? Let us know in the comments section!

Here's Why the Health World is Crazy For Chlorella

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You may have heard of chlorella before—often used in smoothies and known to have major health benefits—but do you know what it actually is and what it can do for your body?

Chlorella is the latest superfood, an all-natural supplement that's native to Japan and Taiwan. It's an algae (similar to spirulina), and it boasts a number of benefits: boosting cardiovascular health, counter the negative effects of radiation, promoting normal hormonal function, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

It is rich in vitamin B, magnesium, amino acids, beta carotene, potassium, phosphorus, and perhaps its most important component, chlorophyll, which gives chlorella a deep green hue.

We've gone over the many benefits of including chlorophyll into one's diet, so here's a quick recap.

Chlorophyll's main nutrient is magnesium and has the ability to strengthen cells, cleanse the body and maintain functioning of circulatory and intestinal systems, and more.

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Now, back to chlorella. Just one ounce of chlorella has 16 grams of protein, and is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Per gram, it has more nutrients than greens such as spinach, kale, and new health world darling, broccoli. Yes, chlorella is even healthier than broccoli, which has cancer-fighting properties.

Chlorella's detoxifying properties is one of the biggest reasons as to why people have turned to the health food. Heavy metals, which you may carry in your body through vaccinations, fish, radiation exposure, or tooth fillings, can do damage to our bodies. But chlorella will wrap itself around such toxins, keeping them from being reabsorbed.

Studies have also shown that chlorella can boost one's immune system, promote weight loss, regulate hormones (which can benefit one's metabolism), and increase energy levels.

Chlorella also reduces oxidative stress that's most often caused by poor diets, stress, and pollution, the three of which can speed up the ageing process. High levels of vitamin A and C is also good for our skin. It also helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

Chlorella most commonly comes in pill and powder form. One tip: be sure to purchase cracked cell wall chlorella, as its exterior cellular walls are actually tough for humans to digest. Ironically, researchers believe that it's these walls that help to remove toxins from the human body.

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Of course, different people appear to react to chlorella differently. Some side effects have been reported, including indigestion, fatigue, vertigo, and lethargy.

The easiest way to introduce chlorella into your diet? Through a smoothie! Try this smoothie recipe out featuring chlorella, courtesy of Vega.

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Supercharged Blueberry Chlorella Smoothie

Ingredients
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ of a banana
1 tsp powdered chlorella
1 cup cold water
2 or 3 ice cubes (optional)

Method
Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Have you tried chlorella before? How do you like to consume it? Let us know in the comments section!

Financial Post Catches Up With Urban Cultivator

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Recently, Financial Post spoke to our CEO Tarren Wolfe as a part of a series that FP Entrepreneur is doing about what Dragons' Den alumni have been doing since signing their respective deals.

Needless to say, we were very excited to share our news due to the progress we've seen over the past five years. Since signing a deal with Arlene Dickinson, we've increased our international reach with dealers and distributors worldwide, installed units in Michelin-star restaurants, and opened our flagship Living Produce Aisle store.

Take a look at some of the highlights from Tarren's interview with Financial Post.

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On the current state of food and its delivery:
"Our food delivery system doesn’t make sense. Why are we shipping food all around the world, food that’s losing nutritional value by the hour, and wasting fuel to do that, when we can grow micro greens anywhere pretty easily?"

On our collaboration with Microsoft:
Urban Cultivator appliances are seen all across Microsoft campuses, growing microgreens to feed its employees. In addition to its presence at Microsoft, the company's engineers, who want to feed the hungry, are working with Urban Cultivator to develop a product that will address world hunger.

On Living Produce Aisle:
"We sell flats to restaurants and live cut smoothies, live cut micro green salads [...] The initial goal was to create a better showroom for potential buyers of the cultivator. It's great because it also enforces the education around why live food is better in general, and people can see it’s attainable. We developed a new consumables program that has expandable seed sheets. And we’re moving lots of cultivators out of it, too."

On our company's future plans:
"We're developing a machine that can operate completely self-sufficiently. So it can run on the streets of India or Africa to feed the poor."

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Read the Financial Post article in full over at their site. For immediately updates, sign up for Urban Cultivator's newsletter below, and follow UC on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

10 Fresh Salad Recipes to Celebrate the Best of Spring

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We're nearing the end of spring, one of the most exciting times of the year in terms of culinary gold. Of course, there are blooming flowers, lush, green trees, and an exciting energy in the air, but it's the fresh produce that really gets us going.

It's the best time to eat fresh with the abundance of awesome food after a winter of squash, squash, and more squash.

So, in an effort to celebrate all that is spring and what it has to offer, we've compiled some of the freshest salad recipes to help you celebrate the best of spring. Enjoy!

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Microgreen salad with garlic mustard vinaigrette

Let's start with the basics shall we? A fresh microgreen salad—packed with loads of nutrients, as we've learned—amped up with an incredibly flavorful garlic mustard vinaigrette is the best place to welcome spring.

Plus, if you grow in an Urban Cultivator, all you need to do is harvest your greens and whip up a quick vinaigrette.

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Asparagus and pea salad

This one is almost as good as the last, but utilizes two spring favorites: asparagus and delicious snap peas. Light and refreshing, it's easily a spring staple recipe.

Also calling for peashoots, fresh parsley, and chives, it's another dish that would make having an Urban Cultivator handy.

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Peashoot and baby artichoke salad with parmesan croutons

Fresh peashoots are crunchy and juicy—sounds paradoxical, doesn't it? With the addition of some tartness from the artichokes and that salty bite from the parmesan croutons, it's the perfect balance of flavors.

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Spring greens with quick pickled vegetables

Now, this recipe doesn't say that you need candy cane radishes, but come no—look at how gorgeous that salad is! Plus, those radishes are coveted during this time around, and it's obvious why.

This salad features a quick pickling recipe, which is something everyone should have memorized considering how fast and easy it is.

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Scandinavian starter

Can't make it to Scandinavia this spring? This recipe a la Jamie Oliver gives you a taste of all the fresh dishes the Scandinavians have to offer, featuring root vegetables and fresh herbs.

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Raw spring salad

Here's another beautifully bright and outrageously easy recipe that takes advantage of freshness of spring produce. Gather your greens and your asparagus for an incredible dish.

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Asian seafood salad with yuzu and sesame dressing

Add some seafood to your salad for a little more oomph. The best way to season your seafood? With Asian flavors! Yuzu is a lovely citrus that's hugely popular in Japan, and it's a great way to marinade your seafood, turning it into a ceviche-like dish.

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Meyer lemon spring salad with baby greens, herbs, almonds and goat cheese

This recipe asks you to harvest from your garden; there really is no better way to show your appreciation for spring! Add some more microgreens and you have yourself an incredibly nourishing salad.

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Mixed Asian salad with macadamia nuts

Another salad that borrows Asian flavors. Macadamia nuts add a nice crunch to a flavorful dish.

... And one dessert for good measure!

Mini strawberry chocolate tart with whipped goat cheese and basil microgreens

Alright, so this isn't necessarily a salad, but what's a meal without dessert?

Using fresh basil microgreens, this strawberry chocolate tart with whipped goat cheese is a brilliant mix of savory and sweet, fresh and decadent.

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Evidently, spring makes it easy for one to eat well. To make it even easier? Grow with an Urban Cultivator! This way, you no longer have to wait until spring to make these lovely, refreshing dishes.

Do you have any go-to spring recipes? Let us know in the comments section, and take advantage of what we have left in spring!

Send Your Loved Ones 'Gift-a-Green' So They Can Grow Their Own

Gift-a-Green

Gift-giving is a gift in itself. To convey the right sentiment with the right gift isn't an easy thing, especially now when there is a call to reduce waste and minimize materialism.

So, what do you send a loved one who's thousands of miles away when you want to say thank you?
Gift-a-Green has your answer! Continue reading “Send Your Loved Ones 'Gift-a-Green' So They Can Grow Their Own” »

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