Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Raspberry Vinaigrette

Increased awareness of how organic fruits are produced wasn't the only thing students took away from Hildebrand Farms last month. They purchased some organic black raspberries and as part of Growing Up Organic's Farm-Gate Café program, participated in a follow-up cooking workshop this week.

With the help of Jessica McLeod, a Registered Dietitian who works at the Seaway Valley Community Health Centre, students crafted their own healthy black raspberry vinaigrette.

Students were surprised to learn that the average Canadian takes in about 3400mg of sodium a day, equivalent to about 1.5 teaspoons of salt! Jessica explained that our bodies need sodium to function, but that too much may lead to high blood pressure – which is a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.

Jessica shared test tubes containing the adequate daily sodium intake of 1500mg (a half teaspoon) so students could see the difference between what we need, and what we're consuming – yikes!

Students identified processed foods as major source of sodium and together we reviewed the ingredients and nutrition facts of a commercially available raspberry vinaigrette. The sodium in one tablespoon of commercially available vinaigrette was 150mg. So students set to work creating their own vinaigrette. Students learned that by preparing your own vinaigrette you can incorporate more local organic ingredients into your diet as well as adjust the flavour to suit your individual preferences and dietary needs.

As a group, we found the amount of oil called for in the recipe too much, and after sampling, each group added more cider vinegar, to balance the extra virgin olive oil. Each group also customized their basic vinaigrette by adding chopped shallots, green onions, or garlic. Many students were accustomed to a commercial ranch or caesar dressing, and the vinaigrette was a new set of flavours for them – good for them for trying something new!

Want to make black raspberry vinaigrette at home or school? Here's the recipe we used (adjusted for the amount of vinegar most deemed to give the best oil to vinegar balance.)

Black Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup black raspberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or raspberry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 cup olive oil [if you prefer a lighter tasting vinaigrette, you may prefer to use a "light tasting" olive oil, rather than extra virgin olive oil]

Using a potato masher, mash black raspberries. Combine with water and vinegar and press through sieve to remove raspberry seeds. (If available, a blender may be used.)

Add remaining ingredients to strained mixture and whisk to combine. 

Sample and add optional flavourings such as finely chopped garlic, finely chopped green onions, finely chopped shallots. You could also vary the type of vinegar (for example, a red wine or balsamic vineger.)

* Recipe adapted from Raspberry Vinaigrette

Thank you to Jessica McLeod, for her help with this workshop! 

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