Zucchini Salmon Fritters

In my first trimester of pregnancy, I needed to eat every hour or two to keep my blood sugar level

Zucchini-Salmon Fritters (photo from taste.com)

Zucchini-Salmon Fritters
(photo from taste.com)

and keep nausea at bay. I did have some hilarious food cravings (celery and of course the stereotypical dill pickles). But, I was also aiming to stick to my usual conscious, careful, diet while upping certain nutrients for baby-growing. These fritters satisfied my winter need for more oil, AND they contain easy to digest vegetables (I have yet to have a client who is sensitive to zucchini!) and omega-3-rich protein that can be stored in the pantry. Win-win-win. I ate them with pickles, naturally.

Make up a big batch and grab them for snacks/lunch/dinner. Pregnant or not, they make a nice, nutritious change from the usual dinner options.

Adapted from Gluten Free Gigi


Recipe type: Main Dish, Fish

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  6 mins

Total time:  16 mins

Serves: 3-4


This recipe is free from gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts. It is also toddler-friendly, a novel way of using up the garden’s zucchini abundance, and a great way of making canned fish (and good omega 3 fatty acids) exciting.



  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (6-ounce) can wild caught salmon, drained
  • 1/3-1/2 cup tapioca flour or cooked quinoa (or sub almond flour for paleo version, but then not nut-free)
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained and minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill (or use 1-2 teaspoons fresh dill, if you have some on hand)
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder (add a couple tablespoons minced fresh onion, if you prefer)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (use ½ – 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic, if you prefer)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Oil for greasing skillet
  • Lemon wedges and fresh parsley, optional garnish


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine zucchini, eggs and tapioca flour/quinoa.
  2. Break salmon apart with a fork and add to the bowl, along with remaining ingredients.
  3. Stir to combine, making sure ingredients are well-mixed. (Mixture will look a bit liquid-y, but that’s okay.)
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and grease lightly.
  5. Once the skillet is hot (but not smoking), use about a heaping ⅓ cup of the mixture for each patty/fritter. (You can make these as small or large as you like, of course. I fit 3 larger fritters in the skillet at a time).
  6. Cook patties 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crisp on the outside.
  7. Serve immediately.


Great paired with Parsley-Radicchio Salad, and homemade sauerkraut. And, especially if you are pregnant, kosher-style dill pickles.


Bring on Spring / Lettuce is Boring Radicchio & Parsley Salad

In keeping with the seasons, I don’t eat much in the way of raw salad-type vegetables in the winter.parsley-bunch This salad was an exception last winter, during the first trimester of my pregnancy. It is a great break from boxed mixed greens, and is packed full of fresh flavour and fantastic nutrition. Also, it answers the eternal question of what to do with the rest of the bunch of parsley when you use 1 tbsp in a recipe. Now you know: make salad!

If you haven’t used radicchio before, it is the pretty little purple hued vegetable in the lettuce radicchiosection of the produce store. It is classified as a bitter (but i think it sweet as well), making it an excellent ally to digestion and liver function.

This salad is: Liver Loving, Energizing, Detox-supporting, Cleanse-friendly, Nutrient-dense, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free (it is a salad!), Nightshade Free (if you omit the red pepper), Nut-free, and most importantly, Tasty.




½ a head of radicchio, chopped

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

1 bunch/bag of spinach, stemmed (optional)

½ an English cucumber, sliced or cubed

1 red pepper, chopped



Juice of ~1 lemon

Olive oil ~1/3 cup

Celtic Sea Salt ~1 tsp

Optional: 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard; 1 clove garlic, pressed


Wash all vegetables well. Add the first two or three ingredients to a salad bowl and mix. Top with cucumber and pepper.


Mix dressing ingredients in small jar, close lid and shake to blend. Dressing ratio should be approx. 2/3 lemon juice to 1/3 oil, or half and half if you prefer a less acidic dressing. Adjust ingredients to taste.


Pour dressing over salad, toss, serve.


This salad is a great accompaniment to zucchini-salmon fritters or beef & lamb koftas.

Kitchen Herbalism: Red Raspberry Leaf Vinegar

Red raspberry leaf in spring

Herbal Vinegar in Mason Jar

Herbal Vinegar in Mason Jar

Wildcrafting note:

Raspberry is abundant in wild and semi-wild spaces throughout temperate North America and Europe, and perhaps can be found in your own yard or a local abandoned lot. Ideally harvest the leaves for use before the fruits appear. In the Toronto area, this means later June or early July.

NB: Always be sure to confirm the identity of a plant before harvesting or consuming.

What you’ll need: 

  • Red Raspberry Leaves (fresh or dried)
  • Organic Vinegar (apple cider, wine, or rice)
  • Mason Jar

What to do:

  1. If using fresh leaves, let them wilt and dry out a little before starting and make sure there is no additional moisture (water drops etc) on your leaves.
  2. Fill your clean, DRY jar with raspberry leaves.
  3. Warm vinegar in a non-reactive pot. Pour warmed vinegar of your choice over the leaves, submerging them completely and filling the jar with liquid.
  4. Seal the jar and place in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks.
  5. Strain the vinegar through a cheese cloth or a clean, white cotton cloth.
  6. Rebottle your vinegar (keep bottle out of direct sunlight).
  7. Enjoy! As part of dressing for green, bean, or grain salads or as an aperitif to aid digestion (1 TBSP in a cup of water before meals)

WHY red raspberry vinegar:
Vinegar is especially valuable for extracting alkaloids, vitamins, and minerals from plants. Vinegar is a good choice for tonic remedies that are intended for regular use over a long period of time to strengthen and build the system. Vinegar extractions can be used by children and are a good choice for adults who avoid alcohol. One tablespoon of this vinegar extract provides about 150-200mg of calcium. And…it’s delicious!

Read here for more about using Red Raspberry Leaf as medicine.


Pregnancy Tonic Tea: nettle & raspberry edition


Red Raspberry & Nettle Pregnancy Tonic Tea

Red Raspberry & Nettle Pregnancy Tonic Tea

Starting at 20 weeks or so:

  • Place ¼ cup (8 g) dried red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) and 1 cup (8-9 g) dried nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) in a large French press (eg Bodum) or sturdy jar. Add (~1 – 1.5 L) boiling water.
  • Let steep 4 hours or up to overnight.
  • Strain and enjoy at room temp or chilled.
  • Drink within 24-36 hours. So, 3-4 cups daily.

For extra calming and nerve nourishment: consider adding 1-2 tbsp of oatstraw (Avena sativa).

For extra digestive support (especially for gas and bloating), consider adding 1 tsp fennel seeds.
Benefits: see Red Raspberry Monograph for the specifics of this wonderful herbal ally in pregnancy. Nettle is another highly nutritive herb supporting a healthy gestation. Additionally, it is a natural anti-histamine, and can help with allergies. 

urban herbalism: nettle joy

Mahalia Freed, ND

I live in the city.

10 minutes by public transit and I am in the downtown core. There is a highway very close to my house. And also, there are green spaces, and there are wild plants. Medicinal, weedy, wild plants. The blessing of using medicine from the earth, the beauty of it, is that the medicines we need are very often right in our (metaphorical) backyards.

Today I harvested wild nettles. I truly love nettles. They are not only a medicine I prescribe often – for everything from seasonal allergies to low iron – but they are delicious and nutritious as food. Allergic to spring pollens? Nettle tea to the rescue! Pregnant? Nourish with nettles! Gathering this particular weed, then, brings me great joy.

Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle)


By their sting, nettles teach us to be fully present, fully aware of our bodies in space. If your mind wanders, and your shirtsleeve doesn’t entirely cover your forearm, nettle will bring you back with a sting that lasts and lasts. I was reminded. Thank you, nettle. If you are thinking about gathering nettles yourself: wear long sleeves, long pants, and gardening gloves, and make sure to pull the gloves up over your sleeves!


Because I was harvesting near home in a well-used public park, I happily engaged in quite a bit of impromptu herbal education. I answered people’s friendly queries as to why I was choosing to pick a stinging weed with musings on potential recipes I could choose for dinner, and I expanded on some of nettle’s uses in addressing inflammation, seasonal allergies, pregnancy, and more. I learned from one woman passing by that she grew up eating nettles in India (different species, same idea), and another couple paused their workout to tell me about a raw nettle eating competition in England (don’t do it. Remember, it stings!)


transporting the urban nettle harvest


Wildcrafting guidelines teach that one should never harvest things that are endangered or rare in the area in question. Pick plants that grow abundantly, and then take no more than 30% of the stand in that place. But please, harvest only what you will use. Depending on the plant, a little may go a long way. Lucky for me and the other urban harvesters, nettle is prolific. I harvested nearly the maximum I could fit in my bike’s panniers, which in this patch was maybe 2%.



Drying Nettle

A Wildcrafting ND’s Office

While in the past I have preferred to dry herbs spread out on a screen, our current space doesn’t allow for this. Hanging herbs in bunches is another easy, reliable way to dry them in any (indoor, ventilated) space. I strung some twine across the bay window in my treatment room, and tied bunches of 5-9 stalks across it. When that row was full, I moved onto the hallway.


Prep Tip

Gather any loose leaves and put them aside for dinner. If the loose leaves don’t add up to enough for your pesto or soup or frittata or sauté plans, keep some stalks aside. Wearing your gloves (you always wear gloves when handling raw nettles!), grasp the stalk near the top and strip off the leaves from top to bottom. They should come off easily this way. Strip as many stalks as you & your crisper drawer need. If you aren’t using them all right away, store fresh nettles in the fridge in a plastic bag, like most produce.


Wild Nettle Pesto with Rice Linguini


  • ~5 cups fresh raw nettles
  • 2-4 cloves raw garlic, finely chopped or pressed (4 was intensely garlicky)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup walnuts or pine nuts (or sunflower seeds or almonds)
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt, or to taste
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • Pasta of choice (I used organic brown rice “linguini-style” noodles, and made enough for two generous servings of pasta. We have pesto leftover)



Nettle Pesto

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Wearing gloves, add your nettles to the water to blanch them. Simmer 1-3 minutes, then remove and drain off excess water. Reserve the nettle-blanching water to cook the pasta. Add pasta to the boiling water. While pasta is cooking, roughly chop your squeezed out nettles and measure them. You should have about 2 cups now. If not, adjust other ingredients as needed. Dump nettles into a food processor along with pressed garlic, olive oil, sea salt and nuts/seeds. Process until smooth-ish. Add lemon juice and process again. Taste it. Isn’t it delicious? Adjust seasonings as desired. I ran out of olive oil so I increased the nuts, and then had to add salt to balance out the bitterness in the walnuts. Delicious results, though!


Dump cooked, drained pasta into a big bowl, and toss with pesto to generously coat. Add more pesto. People never use enough pesto.

Top with whatever you fancy and have on hand.

Nettle Pesto Linguini with Grilled Chicken & Sun-dried Tomatoes


My choice today: chopped leftover grilled organic chicken breast and sliced sundried tomatoes. Would also work with other leftover meat, grilled veggies, marinated tofu.


I gathered weeds instead of going grocery shopping today, and I had a delightful day. I highly recommend taking a week-day afternoon off from your to-do list, and getting to know a local weed. And your neighbours 🙂


Sesame Broccoli with Arame & Daikon

(Mahalia’s Recipe)

This recipe is a simple “side” that integrates a sea vegetable, Arame.  With the classic Japanese flavors of toasted sesame with soy sauce, this broccoli dish will disappear fast. Perfect to accompany broiled/roasted tempeh, fish or chicken with ginger-tamari marinade, this dish is fancy enough for a party and easy enough to be part of a weekday meal.


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Backyard Medicine: Eating Weeds

The Wild Spinach Edition

Budget eating, with all the locavore/organic/foodie brownie points you care to collect.

Do People Know About This??

wildspinach2I just discovered that one of the most common garden weeds is also known as Wild Spinach, and indeed, it is edible and delicious. With a deeper & more robust flavor than spinach, and without that squeaky teeth feeling, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before. I figured if I, as a weed-loving naturopathic doctor didn’t know about this weed, you might not, either.

So, introducing Chenopodium album – Lambs quarters, aka Pigweed aka Wild Spinach. Why the multiple names? Well, more than one plant is referred to as both lamb’s quarters and as pigweed, and this one is actually related to spinach, so the latter name is more functional. The former name is more common, however, so I am presenting you with options.

Nutritional information: good for you! Rich in magnesium and potassium, more fibre, beta carotene (pro-vitamin A), vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese than domestic spinach. Domestic spinach has more iron and folic acid. (From Edible Wild Plants”: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate, by John Kallas, PhD)

In my garden, wild spinach colonized the garlic patch and was happily taking up all the space between the garlic plants. I was waiting for them to get big, and then one day I realized they were starting to shade my garlic. This won’t do, I thought. I must weed. And then I must be an adventurous weed-lover, and cook the weeds for dinner!

I pulled the wild spinach out by the roots, as I couldn’t have it shading my garlic, but you can also selectively harvest to allow your plants to keep producing throughout the summer.

Top reasons to eat weeds:

1)    They are free

2)    They are nutrient dense

3)    They are tasty

4)    You get points for being a locavore and slow foodist

5)    You feel virtuous for being a locavore & slow foodist, as well as for eating really healthy food for cheap.

6)    You get to meet the neighbors (when they ask you what you are doing over in the abandoned lot with your kitchen scissors and colander)


1)    Step away from your screens, and go outside.

2)    Bring scissors and a large bowl/basket/bag for collecting your greens.

3)    Let go of getting things done. Harvesting and prepping plants for dinner is contemplative and slow.

4)    Always first confirm the identity of the plants you are planning to eat! Consult books and people who know these things.

5)    Make sure the patch you are harvesting from is growing in uncontaminated soil. Ideally, this means it is in your yard, or your friend’s yard, or a green space whose history you know (ie, not a green space that was created over a massive garbage dump or industrial waste site!)

6)    If it is sunny, wear a hat. And sunglasses. Best sun protection there is.

7)    Harvest your greens. If the weed patch is on your property, it is up to you whether you level the whole patch for spanakopita, or save some for sesame-greens next week. If it is a public patch, the general rule for wildcrafting is never remove more than 30% of an area’s growth of that plant. This is a super-common weed, so you shouldn’t have any trouble abiding by these happy harvesting guidelines.

8)    You can cut individual stems, pile them up and do the prep (of removing leaves from stems and setting aside stems for composting) in the kitchen, or you can snip leaves off individually and leave the stems growing.

Now what??

Here’s a simple greens recipe to get you going:

Garlicky-Sesame Greens

One overflowing colander full of wild spinach, washed, big stems removed (or any other greens)

1-4 cloves garlic, minced or chopped

1-3 tbsp Toasted sesame oil

1-3 tbsp Tamari (wheat-free natural soy sauce)

1-2 tbsp Olive oil

3 tbsp Sesame seeds, toasted in a hot, dry pan

½ tsp Sea Salt, or to taste

Water for sautéing

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan, add garlic and stir for a minute or so. Add greens, stirring as you can. Sprinkle with sea salt, and sauté, adding water and putting a lid on the pan if necessary to wilt & cook the greens. Just before they seem done, add tamari and stir to mix through. Remove from heat. Garnish with toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds. Serve with grilled fish/tempeh/chicken etc.

Feel smug and healthy.

Happy Soup (aka Nettle & Fiddlehead Soup)

Happy Soup

Seriously, this is the happiest soup I’ve ever made or had the pleasure of consuming. There is no other way to describe it. Perhaps it is partially the virtuousness I feel, eating local, wildcrafted herbs & greens in season. Mostly, though, it is just a great, simple soup. Click here to learn more about nettles (and allergies), and here for more about fiddleheads.


(Based on the suggestion of the Friendly Happy Guy from Forbes Wild Foods at Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market)


  • 1/2 pound fresh local fiddleheads, soaked and rinsed in a bowl of water several times, ends cut off.
  • 1 heaping, packed colander full of fresh wild stinging nettles, stems removed (remember to wear your gloves to avoid the sting!). (Sorry, didn’t weigh the nettles)
  • 2 onions, chopped (plus green onion, or the green shoots growing off an old onion if that happens in your house)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2-4 cups stock (I used veggie stock)
  • Water
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper


Saute onions & garlic in olive oil until tender. Add water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add cleaned fiddleheads and continue sauteing. Add a bit of stock. Wait a minute or few. Add nettles. Pour stock over nettles, and add water to just barely cover the greens. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, swirling/stirring to make sure nettles get wilted. About 10 minutes in, add the green onion. Add sea salt and maybe pepper. Blend. (I use a handblender, right into the hot soup in the pot).

Enjoy Happy Soup!

PS: some internet recipes for nettle soup swirl in cream at the end, but i really think this soup needs no enhancement.

Spice Things Up Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Cilantro Pesto

Vegan, gluten-free

This salad is build around a spicy cilantro pesto recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Lorna Sass’ Complete Vegetarian Kitchen. Thank you, Lorna, for the many tasty meals you have contributed to since I bought this book in 1999! Find her book here: http://lornasass.com/cookbooks/complete-vegetarian-kitchen It is a valuable kitchen resource for tasty and wholesome vegan meal ideas, or for a primer on how to cook beans or grains, or how to assemble an awesome salad, every time.

  • 1 batch Cilantro Pesto (recipe below)
  • 1 can black beans (Eden is BPA-free) or 2 cups cooked black beans (about 1 cup soaked and simmered)
  • 1 cup raw quinoa, cooked in 2 cups water
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk broccoli, cut into bite size florets/pieces and steamed
  • sprouts if you have some on hand
  • avocado if you have some on hand
  • whatever other veggie you are inspired to add

Cook quinoa in 2 cups of water with a bit of salt. While quinoa is cooking, chop veggies and put into salad bowl, leaving the avocado aside. Make the pesto. Remember that quinoa cooks faster than rice and take it off the heat when it is done (about 15-20 minutes)! Letting it sit with the lid on for a few minutes helps make it fluffy. Combine all ingredients (except avocado) and toss. Add avocado to individual bowls.

Serve warm for a 1-bowl week-night dinner, and pack up leftovers for a delicious – if garlicky – lunch.

“Coriander Pesto”

From Lorna Sass’ Complete Vegetarian Kitchen

Cilantro is not only delicious, and cleanse-friendly, it also supports detoxification as it nourishes.

Note from Lorna: Great served over plain boiled beans or grains, or on bean and grain salads.

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, approximately
  • 1 cup tightly packed minced fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts or sunflower seeds, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove minced fresh garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  1. In a food processor or jar, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Use immediately or store in a well-sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  3. Makes 1/3 cup

Shiitakes & Greens Sauté

This quick, simple dish is flavourful, and deeply nourishing.

If you have shied away from Shiitake mushrooms in the past, now is a chance to enjoy them. Their rich flavor provides an ideal counterpoint to the bitter freshness of Dandelions. Shiitakes are immune-enhancing and antiviral. For more about Dandelions, see http://www.drmahaliafreed.com/weeds-as-nourishing-spring-food-dandelion-greens/ .


  • 1/2 lb or so of fresh Shiitake mushrooms, sliced (can use dried – soak in just-boiled water first)
  • 1 large bunch dandelion greens, washed and chopped (or substitute kale or collard greens)
  • 1 large onion or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste


Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Sauté onions, garlic and ginger in oil, adding water as needed, until onions are very soft. Add salt, shiitakes, with more water if needed, and let simmer at medium heat, covered, for about 8 minutes. Add dandelion greens/kale/collards and more water if needed, cover, and continue saute/simmering until greens are cooked (about 5 min).