Active Living, Food, How-to, Student Life

Eat yam. An idea worth spreading

My idea: EAT YAM.  Brilliant.

On December 6th, I was one of 100 lucky attendees of Tedx Hart House: “The Future of Food.” TED, (Technology, Entertainment, and Design), is a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” The evening focused on how the food choices we make today affect our future and what we can do to make our food production system more sustainable.

For those of you who weren’t there, here are two videos that we watched, in addition to the talks given by the five experts: Dan Donovan, Jason Qu, Lauren Baker, Jeff Crump, and Bettina Schormann.

First, Dan Barber explains how he fell in love with a fish. And Carolyn Steel shows how food shapes our cities.

I also learned about, and was inspired by, some of the U of T student-led initiatives working to help protect the future of our food, our health, and our planet.  Jason Qu, coordinator for the U of T  campus agriculture program, told us about various student-run projects on campus. Have you heard of the Hot Yam? Well, it’s a cooking collective that serves mostly local, mostly organic, mostly vegan lunches on Thursdays at the International Student Centre. And it only costs $4!!! He also told us about the Sky Garden, a rooftop garden that grows organic vegetables for the U of T community.

With all these fresh ideas, it was Bettina Schormann and Jeff Crump, authors of the book From Earth to Table, and chefs at the Ancaster Mill, who inspired my brilliant yam idea. They encouraged everyone to “pick one thing:” one food item to buy only from local, organic sources. That’s how they got started. They picked chicken.  And at first, chicken was the only local item on their menu. Their customers loved the taste of so much that they decided to add other local foods, like pork and beef to their menu. They also started growing their own vegetables. It was a gradual progression, but now, nearly everything they serve is fresh, in season, and locally-produced.

I started with yam.

I bought it at the St. Lawrence Market from a local farmer. I didn’t really know what to do with it, so I just cut it up into wedges and baked it. Delicious. And healthy!

The next week, I went back and bought another yam, onions, peppers, and some apples. Before I took the simple step of “picking one thing,” I thought that eating locally grown food was too expensive. But I spent only $3- less than I’ve been spending lately on coffee! And while local food is a little pricier than buying bulk at the supermarket, it is much tastier, and better for me and the Earth. And it has motivated me to cook- a great way to take a break from exam studying and paper writing!! It’s also been helping me eat healthier than I normally do during exams. Usually, my weaknesses are sour ju jubes and M&M peanuts. But this year, my relationship with yam has given me a bit more self-control!

Your “one thing” doesn’t have to be yam…but if it is, here is a recipe to help you get started. Good luck!

Yam Curry Soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 large yam (approx. 3 lbs.)
1 tbsp. curry powder or to taste
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup water

Methods:

Peel yam.

Peel yam.

Chop Yam.

Chop Yam.

Boil yam until soft.

Boil yam until soft.

Drain water from sweet potatos, but keep it to add to soup later on!

Drain water from yam, but keep it to add to soup later on!

Blend yam until nice and smooth!

Sauté onion and garlic until soften, then add stock, curry, cilantro, ginger

Sauté onion and garlic until soft, then add stock, curry, cilantro, ginger

Simmer about 30 min, stirring occassionally

Add yam and simmer about 30 min, stirring occasionally.Add water to desire consistency. Then serve and enjoy!

Believe me, I know how hard it is to eat healthy food during exams. But I’ve found taking the time out to do a bit of cooking really therapeutic!

Readers, mark it in your calendars! A great event coming up next term to help you get on track with healthy eating and exercise is Winter Warm-Up. It’s happening on January 13th at the Varsity Centre. Bring your friends- it’s all about sampling some of the best food on campus at affordable prices ($3-$5/plate). You’ll also get to try out adifferent physical activities like skating, playing dodgeball, golf, ultimate frisbee and doing Zumba and hip-hop.

Until then, I’ll have to warm myself up with some yummy yam curry soup. Readers, have any of you been cooking during the exam break? Some holiday baking, perhaps? Please, share your recipes so I can try them out over the holidays!