During the month of February Food Matters Manitoba got the chance to gather with manoomin (wild rice) harvesters, teachers, cooks and community members from Wabaseemoong First Nation, along with the Natural Resources Institute and Human Nutritional Sciences from the University of Manitoba.
The event was organized for the group to come together and perfect two manoomin granola recipes. This was an opportunity to experiment with manoomin in a non-traditional way, and once again connect with the Wabaseemoong manoomin harvesters that took us along on a harvest in the fall of 2016.
As we walked into the nutritional science lab at the university there was a strong scent of popped manoomin throughout the building; a smell the harvesters recognized right away. Manoomin had been popped prior to us arriving because it was going to be used in a variety of granola recipes.
Everyone split into three groups and each group was given a designated recipe which was to either be made “as is” or designed into something new. The goal of testing these granola recipes was to create a new healthy snack, with local ingredients, to be prepared and served to students during the breakfast program at Mizhakiiwetung Memorial School. Manoomin is a traditional dish that is common in many of the homes in Wabaseemoong because it can be harvested locally, though it is not always a favourite among the younger generation. Including manoomin in the breakfast program is a way to continue to pass on the stories of manoomin harvesting and increase knowledge about traditional diets.
Cooking with manoomin that everyone worked hard at harvesting in the fall was a very rewarding experience. There is no better way of creating connections than cooking together in the kitchen. Taste testing the different recipes was the best part of the granola experiment; but the final mark will be determined by the students in the breakfast program.