May
31

Appleseed Cider Fest took place on Sunday May 29th at Wychwood Barns.

cider - two cups

I decided to stop by as I enjoy the occasional cider and love the venue. Plus I wanted to support this unique festival as that’s the way I roll. (It’s true).cider - wychwood

I had the chance to chat with the festival organizer, who told me that he use to run a beer festival in London, Ontario and now that he was living in Toronto  he wanted to continue to run festivals/events.

cider - aaron

Naturally I wanted to try some new ciders and this was the perfect venue to do that. There was no shortage of ciders. This is definitely a growing category!!

cider - list

I had 3 tickets and not a lot of time (story of my life).  Here’s the three ciders that I tried.

1. Ernest CiderThis cider has recently been launched and it’s not to  to sweet, nor too tart; Ernest Cider is a new, lightly filtered, hand-crafted hard cider. Not to mention, it has an alcohol content of 6.4 per cent and has two to three times less sugar than the mass-produced domestic or imported cider. #LOVEIT (plus I like their branding and I’m a total sucker for great marketing)
cider - ernest

2. Coffin Ridge – The Old Orchard Organic Seasonal cider that I sampled was also perfect. I asked where I could find it and the vendor mentioned that it was going to be available at a new cider bar. I replied “tell me more”.  He mentioned that it’s a new restaurant/cider bar called  Her Father’s Cider Bar and it’s at 119 Harbord. Can’t wait to visit this new concept!

cider - coffin

3. The last ticket was shared on two ciders (a little bit of each) that DID not appeal to me. (repeat; DID NOT APPEAL TO ME).  There’s very few items that I taste that I don’t like and I simply could NOT finish either cider. It was indeed funky!!

cider - funk

Congratulations to the organizer of this festival. Looking forward to attending the festival in 2017.!!

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May
29

Having it All


Have you ever wondered what it means to “Have it All”. Well, lately I’ve been thinking what that means.

When I was in my 20’s I was definitely “having it all”. I had a job a month after university, shared an apartment with a room mate, did some travelling and was enjoying living in Toronto.

I somewhere between 25 and 30 in this photo. I think. LOL

I somewhere between 25 and 30 in this photo. I think. LOL

In my 30’s, I continued to “have it all”. I was busy having kids, lived in a lovely house, and still managed to travel.

vicky - 35

In my 40’s I still had it all but “having” it all meant being more responsible with $$ seeing as the kids were growing and there were definitely more expenses.

vicky - 40

I’ve always been budget conscious but I was now paying more attention to my grocery bill, the cost of clothing etc. As for the car I drove – it was always second hand. I loved the idea of buying second hand so much so that I even owned a consignment store for 3 years.

“Having it all” is possible at any age but I really do believe it means being mindful of how much you spend and knowing what your priorities are.

At this stage in my life, (early 50’s), I continue to have the desire to travel and I’ve also added home renovations to that list.

vicky - 50
Seeing as I’m a food blogger, I entertain quite a bit. I love throwing small parties and having friends over for brunch or dinner. I  also love setting a nice table (see blog post here).

All of the above, requires more groceries which can add up. I try my best to create seasonal menus and cook/bake vs buying store bought dishes/desserts. Again, I’m aware that entertaining is an additional expense but it’s definitely important to me.
No question Food Basics knows what I mean by “having it all”  and offers their customers great value. I will continue to look at grocery prices so I can travel, entertain, renovate and save for a rainy day too!!

News alert: Beginning on June 3rd, Food Basics will be launching the I Want It All Event.
Here’s what you need to know:

Film a 5-15 second video answering the question: “If you won free groceries for an entire year, what would you do with the savings?” Upload the video to www.foodbasics.ca/videocontest for a chance to win one of three prizes of groceries for a year—$1,000 in Food Basics gift cards!

In-store teams will walk around with cameras to ask customers what “I want it all” means to them for additional chances to win

Share what having it all means to you on social media with the hashtags #iwantitall #foodbasics

Check out this video to learn more. Check out complete contest rules by clicking here.

Note: To be entered in the contest, videos must be uploaded to the web, sharing on social media won’t count as a contest entry.

Happy Grocery Shopping!

Website: www.foodbasics.ca

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post. 

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May
26

Long Weekend: Montreal – Part 2

I hadn’t been to Montreal since 2014 so I was due for a visit. When it comes to food, this city is right up there with New York, Vegas and Chicago. (in my humble opinion)

Day 1:

How could we not stop at the epic Gibeau Orange Julep (7700 Boulevard Décarie) . It was the perfect way to say “Hello Montreal. We have arrived!”

montreal -orange

Then we continued to Jean-Talon Market (7070 Avenue Henri Julien). I absolutely adore this market. It’s one of my favourites for so many reasons. I bought a new yogurt I had never seen, (which I hope we will see in Toronto one day) a cheese I had never tasted (Tahlia) goat cheese curds and a gorgeous mustard with black sesame seeds.

montreal - what i bought
Sadly I found out that the butter I use to buy is no longer available. I use to buy this butter on every visit and was so sad to hear that they went out of business. Sniff.

Then we went to the Montreal Biodome (4777 Avenue Pierre-Coubertin) to see something other than food!! We encountered an oasis of beautiful birds, penguins and more. So glad we included this in our itinerary. This special space is accurately described as an indoor zoo, an aquarium and a botanical garden wrapped into one space!

montreal - penguin

Naturally a trip to Montreal wouldn’t be complete without visiting Au Pied Du Cochon. (536 Avenue Duluth E). We couldn’t get reservations but showed up at 5 pm and scored a table on their outdoor patio.

montreal - au piedI already know what I’m ordering next time (I’m a planner – can you tell?) – this incredible looking hot chicken sandwich.

montreal - au pied next time

Day 2:

Woke up and headed directly to Patisserie Au Kouign Amann (322 Avenue du Mont-Royal E) for their incredible Kougin Amann which I was introduced to in 2012. (see blog post here). I’m almost grateful that I’ve never seen this pastry in Toronto!

montreal - kougan

Again, a trip to Montreal would not be complete without a trip to Schwartz’s Deli (3895 Boul St-Laurent).  The smoked meat sandwich I inhaled is the real deal.

montreal - shwartz

After lunch, we walked thru Old Montreal and the Port. My new Keen shoes were a pleasure to wear as we walked and walked and walked.

montreal - touring
Seriously, these Keen shoes saved me. By the way, if you haven’t seen this colour before it’s because this colour is one of their newest colours. #loveit

montreal - keens

On both days we were wiped and never made it out of the hotel after 8 pm. Just. Too. Tired.

Day 3:

Went for breakfast with a childhood friend at Maison Christian Faure(355 Place Royale).  This almond croissant is something else and the best part is that they are coming to Toronto in September.

montreal - maison

Last stop before heading on to the highway was La Diperie. (68 Avenue De Pins E) OH MY. OH MY. OH MY. This soft serve ice cream shop has 30 different dips (turtle, cookie dough, milk banana, baileys, espresso, cheese cake etc) and a variety of toppings (pretzels, pistachios, almonds, coconut etc).
I decided to order Becky’s Fave from their menu – which was soft serve vanilla ice cream dipped into ginger dark chocolate and topped with pistachios.

montreal - la dipperie
As for our hotel: We stayed at the beautiful Loft Hotel which was located at 338 Terrace St. Denis. Our room was just stunning and complete with a FULL kitchen i.e. dishwasher, pots and pans, etc etc. I couldn’t have been happier with the space and the location. Would stay there again in a heart beat.

montreal - hotelHope you get a chance to visit Montreal one day soon!

Please click here to find out more about Montreal attractions, festivals, events and more.

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May
24

I’ve tried hard over the years, to make it to the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. I decided to take Friday and Tuesday off of work and visit Ottawa AND Montreal. This particular blog post will be dedicated to the Ottawa segment of the trip.

As always, the first thing I did upon arriving in Ottawa was to stop at Golden Palace (2195 Carling Ave) for an egg roll (or two). Please google “best egg rolls in the world”,….guess what appears?

ottawa - eggroll

It also dawned on me that I hadn’t been to Perth for a while so on Saturday we headed to this charming city to visit their farmer’s market.

ottawa - perth river

Naturally I wanted to buy something and this product intrigued me. I’m thinking of putting it on a piece of salmon and then baking it. What do you think?

perth -jelly

I didnt’ buy this Loon Kombucha but I should have! #next time

perth - kombucha

After the farmers market we drove back to Ottawa and went directly to Dow’s Lake to visit the tulips. Please forgive me but I’m going to bore you with a few photos of some beautiful tulips.

ottawa - tulip pink

See what I mean? One flower is more stunning than the next one!

ottawa - tulips red

I can’t decide which photo I like best.

ottawa - tulips lots

I had a little bit of energy left to drop by Seed to Sausage (729 Gladstone) to pick up a bottle of this root beer syrup by Michael’s Dolce. I had been seeing this product on Instagram and was waiting to return to Ottawa to pick up a bottle, so I was thrilled that I have my hands on it!!

ottawa - rootbeer After our quick trip to Ottawa, we proceeded to Montreal.

Stay tuned for Long Weekend: Montreal – Part 2.

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May
20

Not Your Average Pasta


We all grew up with regular pasta, right? Then whole wheat pasta came along and now I’d like to introduce you to yet another type of pasta. It’s from Catelli and it’s called SuperGreens.

catelli - box

It’s rich in flavour and packed with veggie goodness. Think spinach, zucchini, broccoli and kale.

I’m not kidding. I’m a fan.

For dinner one night, I cut up some yellow and green zucchini and fried it up with some garlic and onions.

catelli - frying pan

I added it to the Catteli SuperGreens Pasta and before you know it – I had myself a pretty yummy dinner.

catelli - final2

This is the perfect dinner to make when you have almost nothing in the fridge. All you need is pasta (which I’m sure is in your pantry), a zucchini, onion and garlic. It couldn’t get easier.

While we are on the subject of pasta: I’m curious to know how many varieties of pasta are in your pantry? Please leave a comment and let me know. I’m really curious seeing as I’ve blogged about “How Many Cereals are in Your Pantry” and “How Many Mustards are in Your Fridge”. For the record: I’ve got 5 different boxes of pasta in my pantry. (spaghetti, penne, farfaile, macaroni, fusilli )

Disclosure: I was provided with product for this blog post, however all opinions are my own

 

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May
16

One of my foodie friends finally launched a personal blog (www.onmytabletoday.com) and to celebrate this occasion I decided to make the first recipe he posted!

It was easy to make and a huge hit with my guests.

Here’s the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with a Tahini Glaze (recipe from www.onmytabletoday.com)

Ingredients:

1 Cauliflower
4 Tbsp Olive oil
salt and pepper

For the glaze:
4 Tbsp Tahini
2 Tsp Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek (Spicy Sauce) – I chose not to make mine spicy
4 Tbsp Hot water (to adjust glaze’s consistency)

Instructions:

1. Take the largest pot you own and fill it with water. Add some salt and let it come to a boil.

2. Immerse the cauliflower in the salted boiling water for no longer than 6-7 minutes. (ps I got distracted and boiled the cauliflower to death and had to go out and buy another cauliflower). USE A TIMER.

3. Once you remove the cauliflower from the boiling water, massage  it all over with olive oil and salt and pepper.

4. Broil the cauliflower for 5 to 7 minutes. (use a timer as you don’t want to burn it). Check on it every once in a while!!

4. Prepare the glaze and then massage the glaze all over the cauliflower (this is the fun part)

6. Broil the cauliflower once again for another 6-7 minutes. (till it gets brown) USE A TIMER.

7. Top with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Naturally it was such a hit that I decided to buy another cauliflower and try another recipe that I found online.

cauliflower - pom

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Tahini Sauce – (original recipe from the Vegetarian Times)

1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 1 ½ lb.)
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 Tbs. tahini
1 Tbs. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Toss cauliflower with 2 tsp. olive oil, and season with salt. Spread on large cookie sheet, and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork-tender and slightly browned.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tsp. olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic in oil 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in tahini, lemon juice, 5 Tbs. water, and salt. Simmer over low heat 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Spoon over the cauliflower or broil for 5 minutes. You don’t have to put it back in the oven- but I did and it was delicious. Sprinkle with parsley and sesame seeds, and serve.

cauliflower - lemon

Happy Cooking!!

 

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May
12

The school year is coming to an end and I swear I’ve finally perfected the “what’s-going-into-the-lunch-box” syndrome.

lunch - full

Here’s the options:

a) FRUIT: This is the easiest part, as there’s always fruit hanging around. (apple, orange, banana, strawberries, blueberries etc). On the occasion, I will mix it up and include a kiwi or starfruit or something exotic.

lunch - fruit

b) VEGETABLES: Again  – kind of easy as there’s always veggies hanging around in the fridge (cucumber, red pepper, baby carrots)

c) THE MAIN COURSE: Seeing as my kitchen is dairy. I can’t send meat sandwiches to school. So I send: veggie hot dogs wrapped in a  tortilla, tuna sandwiches, smoked salmon/cream cheese on whole wheat bread, pasta in a thermos, rice/veggies in a thermos. For special occasions, I will send party sandwiches (which are always a hit)

d) YOGURT: These drinkable yogurts are bought on a regular basis.

lunch - iogo2

e) SNACKS: Lately I’ve been including Sabra Hummus in the lunchbox. This is a new addition to the lunch box and I’m all too happy to add it in there. No joke – my daughter can tell the difference between Sabra and other brands. Hands down, Sabra is her favourite brand. (specifically the hummus with roasted pine nuts)

lunch - hummus

True Story: I still remember that my mom put Frito’s in my lunch when I was a kid. I can’t remember what else was in my lunch bag but I remember those small bags of Frito’s.

For more information about Sabra and their wide range of products, , please click here.

Disclosure: I was provided with product, however all opinions are my own

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May
11

Did you know that May is Celiac Awareness Month? It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to learn what gluten and gluten sensitivities really are, and how they impact many Canadians.

Let’s start by defining Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health. (source: www.celiac.ca)

Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.

I once thought I was gluten sensitive but it turns out I was lactose intolerant instead. I’m not kidding, but I know MANY people who are one or the other!

As you know I’m a big fan of flavour and good quality products. Gluten avoidance should not mean compromising taste. Agreed?

A good example of a product that is Certified gluten-free by the Canadian Celiac Association is Crispy Minis Rice Chips. They are the perfect example of a gluten-free snack that comes in a variety of delicious flavours.

crispy

 

As a sales rep who is often in her car and looking for snacks during the day, Crispy Minis did the trick!

I would now like to share a brief interview with a long time childhood friend who suffers from Celiac Disease. Her name is Shirley Plant and she’s a nutritionist, speaker, writer, cookbook author, recipe creator and wellness activist.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

1. When were you diagnosed with Celiac Disease? I was diagnosed when I was 42 with Celiac Disease. This what quite a shock as I had been told to avoid wheat years earlier as allergy testing showed that I had a wheat intolerance. I was eating barley, rye and spelt,( they all contain gluten) it made sense why I was still sick and struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome, tummy issues and anxiety.

2. How did it make you feel when you got the diagnosis? I was really glad to know because I had been struggling with chronic illnes, chronic fatigue, anxiety, tummy problems and adrenal issues for years and depsite changing my diet, eating healthier, I still didn’t feel very well. It was a puzzle for sure and that was when I started to study nutrition and be my own activist

3. Has it effected your lifestyle? It certainly affected my lifestyle as I already was dealing with some food allergies and sensitivities so what I ate was limited. At that time I was not able to eat eggs, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, peppers, pork, chicken and apples. Add gluten to the list and it gets a bit more tricky and limited. Now that I have changed my diet and eaten a more whole foods diet I have been able to add back in organic apples, organic pork, organic chicken and tomatoes.

4. Whats the biggest challenge for those who have Celiac Disease? Making sure they do not get exposed to or ingest gluten.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that creates inflammation throughout the whole body so even ingesting a small amout of gluten can make someone with Celiac Disease very ill.

5. What advice would you give to someone who has been recently diagnosed with this disease? To know what they can and cannot eat. For me it’s about what I can eat. It’s important to know all the foods that may contain gluten like soy sauce, malt, hydrolyxed protein, modified starch.

Bonus Question: How will you be celebrating Celiac Month? By writing a blog post about how to avoid gluten and along with one of my yummy tasty gluten free recipes.
You can check out my blog about Celiac Awareness here https://www.deliciousalternatives.com/celiac-awareness-going-gluten-free-really-means/

For more information about Crispy Minis Rice Chips, please click hereYou can also follow them on twitter: @CrispyMinis

For more information about Celiac Awareness Month, please click here.

Here’s to snacking without compromising taste of quality!!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this blog post however all opinions are my own

 

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May
08

This week I had the opportunity  (and time) to visit two new restaurants and naturally I would like to share them with you.

Restaurant #1: The newly opened Caplansky’s at 156 Cumberland. Yes, The Deli King,….Zane Caplansky, has brought deli to Yorkville and this particular location is the launch of their first franchise!

The space is bright and colourful and has some fun features like a pickle on the front doors and pickle wall paper too.

caplansky - outside

As for the food: I sampled the Turkey Reuben (exclusive to this location),  BBQ Beef Brisket and a Smoked Meat Reubensque. Of course, I liked all of them! I wish I could tell you I liked one more than the other, but I can’t.

caplansky - my meal

The media event that I attended, also had some fun swag that was brilliant…Pickle Socks in a Mason Jar.

caplansky - swag

Restaurant #2: It’s called Toast and it’s a pop up restaurant that will be open every weekend throughout the month of May (9 am to 3 pm) in the Distillery District (45 Mill St).

You pick the type of bread and then pick either savour or sweet toppings. Easy Peasy and DELICIOUS

Sweet options include: Nutella Cheesecake Mousse, Birthday Cake Batter, Carrot Cake Whipped Ricotta, Salted Caramel Milk Jam, Ball Park Peanut Butter.

Savoury options include: Green Goddess Goat Cheese, Huevos Diablos, Pudina Cream Cheese, Hummus 2.0, Grilled Corn Mash.

One bread with one topping is $6 and well worth it. I couldn’t decide between the sweet or savoury so I decided to go half and half (Huevos Diablos and the Salted Caramel Milk Jam).

toast - my meal

Then you can sit down and enjoy your Toast!

toast - space

The three woman behind this concept use to work for The Steve and Chris Show (Joanne Lustead, Amrita Singh and Lindsay Agnew) and while travelling to San Francisco saw a similar concept. Oh how I love these types of stories.

toast - three

Congratulations to both restaurants. Hope to see you again soon!!

 

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May
04

Here’s a few ideas for you and I hope you like them. I really tried to be creative. #justsayin

1. Give mom the gift of a one-on -one computer lesson.

Here’s a photo of my mom using my old iPhone 5. Bye Bye Flip Phone! She had one on one lessons with a friend who specializes in teaching seniors how to use smartphones/facebook/tablets etc. BEST GIFT.

mom - phone

2. Give Mom a calendar with 12 of your favourite photos.

I’m in the process of doing this RIGHT now using the new Kodak App. Oh how I love technology.

mom - photos

3. Give mom a new appliance from Breville.

I’m in love with all my Breville appliances and she will be too!

mom - breville

4. Give mom the gift of Technology. Take a peek at what Samsung has to offer these days. See this wireless charger? I know I would be one happy mom if I got one of these. LOL

samsung charger

 

5.. Give mom a subscription: May I suggest a subscription to Netflix, or Texture? (I’m a fan of both)

6..  If you have old letters that she sent to you at camp…. bring them out and read them to her. Seriously, this is so much fun.

mom - letters

7. Head over to Etsy. There’s no shortage of unique gifts on this website.

Hope these ideas were useful and have a wonderful day.

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