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Storms, salads and soups


Storms, salads and soups

Val MacDonald

Living in the lower mainland of British Columbia, we experienced an amazing rain and windstorm on Labour Day weekend, which took down hundreds of trees and took out power in over 700,00 homes, including mine.

This came after an exceptionally hot and dry summer, which resulted in hundreds of forest fires to burn throughout the province; causing some people to lose their homes and many others to evacuate quickly, leaving their homes with only the shirts on their backs.

The dry earth of the summer caused the trees to uproot during the storm; many of them landing on houses; branches piercing through roofs and into rooms.

I am grateful that we don't live in the areas where there were fires, and I am grateful that we had no fallen trees.  Our family had to put up with no power for three days, which was inconvenient, but not life threatening.

And now that we have lived through this, I welcome a little normalcy; like the routine of fall.  I welcome moving from sandals to shoes, and from salads to soups.

I like to eat seasonally, eating food that complements the season; cool food in the hot weather, and hot food in the cool weather.  Salads are very cooling to the body, and also very cleansing; spring and summer are the ideal times to cool and cleanse the body.

Soups, stews, chili, curries, stir-fries and other hot foods are warming to the body and also building to the body's reserves; fall and winter are the ideal times to strengthen, build and warm the body. 

The other thing about eating seasonally, is that if we purchase the produce that is harvested locally, we can create dishes that are naturally best for our bodies.   Leafy greens, green beans, peppers, snap peas, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries, for example, all grow in the summer and make amazing salads. 

Potatoes, yams, squash, carrots, beets, garlic and turnips, for example, are all locally harvested in the fall and store well in the winter, and add exceptional food value to any soup, stew or roasted vegetable dish.  

Bone broth soups are a delicious way to deliver many health benefits, including fighting infections such as colds and flus (your mother and grandmother were right all along), reducing joint pain and inflammation (due to the glucosamine content), healing the mucosal lining of the gut and aiding in the digestion of nutrients, promoting sleep and calming the mind, and forming strong bones, hair and nails.  

Making bone broth is easy and inexpensive, and can be the cornerstone to all of your cold weather cooking.  Our family enjoys a roast chicken dinner once a week in the winter months, and I reserve the bones from three chicken dinners (in the freezer) to use to make my bone broth. (Alternatively, you can use one whole chicken) I then add a large onion, 2 carrots, 6 bay leaves, a Tbsp of black peppercorns, and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to the water.  (The vinegar actually pulls vital minerals out of the bones).  After boiling hard for half and hour, I lower the heat and simmer the stock for 5-6 hours.  You can also use a crock pot and simmer it overnight.  All that is left to do is discard the bones and strain the broth.

The broth can be used as soup stock or as a base for curry, stew, stir-fry, gravy, or any other dish that calls for chicken stock.  You can also just eat plain broth.  The broth can be stored in the fridge for five days or in the freezer for two months.

As the days get colder and we start to cocoon in our homes, let's pull out the bone broth and make a warm, comforting meal that nourishes our bodies and our souls.