“Waldorf” Berry Salad

11 Aug

Waldorf Berry Salad final

Disclosure: Dairy Farmers of Canada provided me with a basket of fresh ingredients so that I could try this recipe. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.

I haven’t posted to Milk & Eggs in a long time and there’s a very good reason for it, I had a baby (my first) in May and time has just flown by! As a new mom, I’m on the hunt for quick and tasty vegetarian recipes – bonus points if I can make it and store it in the fridge to have it the following day or days later. So I was quite excited to be asked by Dairy Farmers of Canada to try a recipe which would combine fresh local berries and real cream made from 100% Canadian milk. Dairy Farmers of Canada joined forces with chefs from across Canada to create new recipes that combine berries and cream, seriously one of life’s greatest combinations.

The recipe I chose was Chef Michael Allemeier’s “Waldorf” Berry Salad, as the combination of berries and the crunch of celery and walnuts sounded unusual and very interesting. The recipes from all of the chefs are featured on www.AnyDayMagic.ca – I can’t wait to try more of them before berry season is over for another year…

“Waldorf” Berry Salad

An exciting twist on a classic summer salad. Celery, toasted walnuts, apples, mixed berries, all tossed in a creamy dressing – using half and half cream, sour cream and Greek yogurt.

Ingredients

1/4 cup (60 mL) 10% half-and-half cream

3 tbsp (45 mL) sour cream

3 tbsp (45 mL) Greek yogurt

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced celery

1 cup (250 mL) toasted walnuts, lightly crushed, divided

1 red delicious apple, cored, quartered and diced (skin on)

1 2/3 cups (375 mL) assorted berries, (such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or quartered strawberries, if large)

Salt

Black pepper

8 – 10 whole butter lettuce leaves

10 – 12 celery leaves

Preparation

In a large bowl, stir together cream, sour cream, yogurt, and lemon juice. Stir in celery, ¾ cup (175 mL) of the walnuts and apples. Gently fold in berries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a bowl or on a serving platter, arrange lettuce leaves and gently spoon salad on top. Garnish with remaining walnuts and celery leaves.

Tips

For tender and sweeter celery, peel the back part of the celery rib with a vegetable peeler; this really changes the flavour and nature of celery!

Celery leaves can be found in the heart of the celery.

My notes

I made this salad twice, the first time with the celery, celery leaves and walnuts and the second time without these ingredients. I enjoyed the salad more without the above ingredients in it as I wasn’t fan of the textures they added. That said, removing these items really just makes this a creamy fruit salad but you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that at all! It was refreshing and a great way to get good dose of dairy, antioxidants and fibre, all in one dish!

Let me know if you end up trying the recipe and if you have any tips to share!

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Waldorf Berry Salad final

Vegetarian Delights at Bosk restaurant, Shangri-La hotel Toronto

10 Apr

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I was recently invited to a special dinner at Bosk restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel, Toronto, for a preview of their Signature & Spring Tasting Menu. I was beyond excited to be invited to this event as I had heard great things about the ambiance, food and service at Bosk. Upon receiving the invitation, I advised the host teams at the Shangri-La hotel and Do The Daniel (organizer of the event) that I follow a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and they were more than happy to accommodate my requests.

After weeks of anticipation, I arrived at Bosk a few minutes before our tour and dinner was set to begin, as I wanted to get settled and take in the atmosphere of the hotel and restaurant. The lobby was big and airy, with a fireplace and a group playing live music. I was greeted warmly by the staff and was directed to the meeting area for the #iheartbosk event where I was joined by an intimate group of food and lifestyle bloggers from Toronto.

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We started the evening off with a tour of the hotel’s new Garden Suite, a gorgeous space with a canopy bed and a private patio area. We sipped on the Shangri-La hotel’s signature Jasmine Tea while we learned about their afternoon tea service, complete with an in-house tea library containing over 75 teas. The hotel even has their very own Tea Sommelier!

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Shortly after, we headed downstairs to the Lobby Lounge where they had created two special Power Play Cocktails in celebration of the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs  – The Zamboni and The Hat-Trick Breakfast Cocktail. As I’m expecting my first baby soon, I had the non-alcoholic versions of both drinks and even without the alcoholic, I absolutely loved them. What’s in them you ask? I could tell you, but I think you should visit the Lobby Bar yourself to try them out : )

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Next, it was time for dinner! We were led to a private seating area with place settings for each of us, our names beautifully written on paper cranes. There were printed menus at each place setting, with a special vegetarian version of the menu for me which I thought was a beautiful touch.

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We were all chatting away about how we had already had a great experience so far but we knew that the best was yet to come…

SNACKS – nettle tree + lemon & pea + soda

The nettle tree came first, with tiny rolled up treats that reminded me of pappadums (an East Indian crispy snack). The lemon and pea came next in the form of a savoury macaron….delish! Lastly, we had a tasty rhubarb soda that was meant to get our palates ready for the start of the meal (sorry, I drank it all before I took a photo!)…

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SWEET PEPPER DONUT – crème fraiche, shallots, chives, parmesan

A bite of pure flavour. I was sad that I only had one!

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COMPRESSED CUCUMBER – radish, kohlrabi, finger lime, citrus snow

I loved this dish as it really woke up my taste buds. The citrus snow danced in my mouth and played well with the cucumber. I could have easily eaten two plates of this dish.

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BLACK TRUFFLE GNOCCHI – forest mushroom, tomato butter

This dish was absolutely delicious…it was so good I can still taste it and I can’t wait to have it again. I had never had anything like it and I thanked the chef for creating such a spectacular vegetarian dish.

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SPRING ASPARAGUS – quinoa, spring garlic, baby corn

The asparagus in this dish was hands down the best asparagus I’ve ever had. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and went beautifully with the other components in the dish.

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RICOTTA & LEEK AGNOLOTTI – peas, fava bean, morel, artichoke

This pasta dish was outstanding, I really enjoyed the combination of the peas, fava beans, morels and artichokes as I had never had them all on one plate before. It was one of the most interesting vegetarian dishes I had eaten in a long time.

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POACHED RHUBARB – almond, orange blossom, elderflower

A simple and refreshing end to an amazing meal!

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CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE + KISSES

The cherry blossom tree took my breath away, it was so whimsical and beautiful. Pillows of pink and white cotton candy were perched in the tree, ready to be plucked off and enjoyed.

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Everything about the meal was exquisite. That is a word I don’t use very often and in this case it’s the most fitting word for the experience I had. My vegetarian meal was spectacular, top to bottom. Every dish was made with a lot of love, care and precision. The ingredients were top notch and they truly shined in every dish I had. To top it all off, service was professional, attentive and most importantly it was filled with a warmth that I haven’t experienced in a long time.

I’ve had a number of dinners at upscale hotel restaurants and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt as  welcomed and at home as I did at Bosk. Warmth exuded from every Shangri-La hotel team member I came in contact with that evening and I believe that is what has guests coming back over and over again.

My heartfelt thanks to the teams at Bosk, the Lobby Lounge, Shangri-La hotel, Toronto and Do The Daniel for a spectacular evening of incredible food and great conversation.

For more information about the Shangri-La hotel, Toronto, please visit: http://www.shangri-la.com/toronto/

Twitter: @ShangriLaTO or www.twitter.com/ShangriLaTO

For more information about Bosk, the signature restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel, Toronto: http://www.shangri-la.com/toronto/shangrila/dining/restaurants/bosk/

Twitter: @BoskTO or www.twitter.com/BoskTO

 

 

Contest – Enter to Win High Tea for Two at the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto!

20 Mar

Shangri La Hotel Toronto Logo

On Tuesday March 25, 2014 I’ve been invited to attend a dinner event at Bosk, the signature restaurant at the fabulous Shangri-La hotel in Toronto to preview their new menu! I’ve heard great things about the cuisine and ambience at Bosk and I’m looking forward to trying their vegetarian options and sharing my experience on my blog.

Not only do I get to enjoy this experience but guess what….there’s a benefit for the readers of my blog too!  You’ll have a chance to enter to win a one of a kind High Tea experience at the Lobby Lounge in the Shangri-La hotel!

See the image below for everything you need to know about this special contest that will run ONLY on Tuesday March 25! Good luck and remember, you can only enter on Tuesday March 25 between 6 pm and 10 pm EST.

High Tea Contest

I can’t wait to visit the Shangri-La hotel and share my experience with all of you, it’s definitely going to be a fabulous evening!

For more information about the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto, please visit: http://www.shangri-la.com/toronto/

Twitter: @ShangriLaTO or www.twitter.com/ShangriLaTO

For more information about Bosk, the signature restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel, Toronto: http://www.shangri-la.com/toronto/shangrila/dining/restaurants/bosk/

Twitter: @BoskTO or www.twitter.com/BoskTO

Don’t forget, the official hashtag for the March 25 special event and contest is #iheartbosk

Good luck and don’t forget to follow my tweets at @savvari or www.twitter.com/savvari that evening to be able to enter to win the High Tea experience!

 

Review: Catelli Gluten Free pasta + win a case of pasta!

20 Dec
Catelli Gluten Free Fusilli

Catelli Gluten Free Fusilli

Disclosure: I received a free sample box of Catelli Gluten Free pasta, in order to try the product. I did not receive any financial compensation for this post.

Although I don’t follow a gluten-free diet, as a vegetarian I’ve always related to those who also follow restricted diets. Way back in 2005, I worked with a woman who told me she had Celiac disease and that she had to avoid foods with wheat in them. It sounded simple at first, until I learned just how many products had wheat in them, she even had to avoid certain sauces as they contained wheat ingredients. As Celiac disease wasn’t very common at that time, she rarely ate in restaurants and she used to order special cookies, crackers and special pastas from the U.S. I once tried a dish she had made with rice pasta and I was not impressed with the flavour or the texture. I loved pasta (I still do) and I felt sorry for her as the rice pasta just didn’t have the flavour or texture that regular pasta had.

Back then, she had a lot of difficulty finding tasty gluten-free alternatives. Thankfully, nowadays Celiac disease and the gluten-free lifestyle have come to the forefront in the past few years. I’ve seen quite a few restaurants offering gluten-free options and there are grocery store sections dedicated to gluten-free products!

I was recently contacted by a rep from Catelli about their new Catelli Gluten Free pasta. After my bad experience with rice pasta and my excellent experiences with Catelli’s regular pasta line, something told me that they would have come up with a great product. The box arrived the following day and since I’m a design and packaging geek (I used to work in the printing industry) I immediately noticed the bold and beautiful colours they used. According to Catelli, their gluten free pasta is a “Unique 4 natural grain blend is made with the finest quality white and brown rice, corn and quinoa blended for a delicious taste and smooth texture that will surprise and delight your entire family.” Also important to note – Catelli Gluten Free pasta is produced in a dedicated gluten free facility and is certified by the Canadian Celiac Association.

I was ready to banish the bad rice pasta memories, so I decided to toss the pasta with kale sautéed in garlic and onion, along with a crumbled and pan fried vegan sausage, one of my favourite combinations. The results: Absolutely delicious. The pasta had a nice flavour and a smooth texture to it. It wasn’t exactly like regular pasta but it was pretty close! The only thing I noticed was that it crumbled up a little more than regular pasta, but that was likely due to the composition of it. The pasta didn’t feel heavy in my stomach afterwards, which was terrific too.

Catelli Gluten Free pasta with kale, garlic, onion and vegan sausage

Was it love at first sight/bite? Yes, I would definitely buy this product again. Nicely done Catelli!

To learn more about Catelli Gluten Free pasta, visit: http://www.catelli.ca/pasta/gluten-free

COUPON: Here’s a link to a special coupon to save $1 off of a box of Catelli Gluten Free pasta. https://www.websaver.ca/en_ca/portal/catelli_gluten/

CONTEST:

The fine folks at Catelli want to give one reader of Milk & Eggs a case (12 boxes!) of Catelli Gluten Free pasta! That’s right, A WHOLE CASE!

TO ENTER:

Answer the following questions in the comments section, below this post:  What’s your favourite pasta shape? What’s your favourite way to eat it?  P.S. Don’t forget to include your Twitter handle or Facebook name or blog site address so I’ll know how to reach you!

OR

Tweet your answer on Twitter, using hashtag #CatelliGF and my Twitter handle @savvari

For example: Hey @savvari, the best pasta shape is spaghetti and I love it with tomato sauce #CatelliGF

You can enter twice per day if you do both of the above!

Contest closes on Friday Dec 27 at 5 pm. The winner will be announced later that evening.

Note: You must be a resident of Canada to win. The case of Catelli Gluten Free pasta can only be mailed to a Canadian address. Good luck!

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Congrats to Fiona Thom for winning this contest!

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Cooking with Fresh Canteen – Ancho Chocolate Chili with Dill & Green Bean Salad

31 Oct

Ancho Chocolate Chili with Dill & Green Bean Salada

Disclosure: I received a free recipe/ingredient delivery from Fresh Canteen. 

A few weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to try Fresh Canteen, a Toronto-based recipe and ingredient delivery service that helps to take the stress out of meal planning and grocery shopping. Ingredients and a recipe delivered to my home so my husband and I had dinner taken care of on a weekday night? Yes please!

Fresh Canteen’s concept is simple – choose recipes from their beautiful website, have the ingredients delivered to you and cook your own tasty meals. The folks at Fresh Canteen freely share their recipes and instructions on their website, giving customers a chance to see if they find the recipe appealing and suitable to their skill level. If you order by 11:59 pm on a Friday, you would receive your box with all ingredients and instructions from 12 pm to 8 pm the following Tuesday. When I advised the fine folks at Fresh Canteen that I was vegetarian, they suggested that I try their Ancho Chocolate Chili with Dill & Green Bean Salad. To be honest, my husband and I weren’t sure about it at first…chocolate in chili? However, we both decided to be good sports about it and give it a try.

The box was at my door when I got home on the Tuesday evening. I was excited to open it up and see what was inside. All of the ingredients were housed in an insulated package with a gel ice pack included, keeping everything fresh and cold. The first thing I pulled out was the recipe card and instructions, which came neatly packaged in a plastic sleeve for protection.

The recipe, all wrapped up in a bag

Next, I laid out all of my ingredients and was thrilled to see how well packaged and fresh everything was. In some cases, I knew that I had just the right amount for the recipe and in other cases, I knew I would have a little bit extra, so I could use it for something else (yay for extra fresh dill!).

The ingredients

Here we go….

Ancho Chocolate Chili with Dill & Green Bean Salad

Recipe link (courtesy of Fresh Canteen): http://www.freshcanteen.com/recipes/47-ancho-chocolate-chili

Ingredients:

1/2 can pinto or romano beans

1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp chopped garlic (2-3 cloves)

1/2 c sliced red onion

1/2 c sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup of canned corn (drained)

1/2 c zucchini

Swiss chard

1 can diced tomatoes

Green beans

Dill

Shallot

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Olive oil

1 cup of rice

Directions:

Step 1:

  • Wash & dry all fresh produce & have a quick read of the recipe
  • Put a small pot, large enough to hold your green beans, on to boil with a pinch of salt
  • Thinly slice the onion & mushrooms
  • Finely chop the shallot
  • Chop the zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Remove the stem from the Swiss chard & chop the stem in to 1/2 inch pieces, slice the leafy part in to ribbons
  • Finely chop the garlic
  • Grate the chocolate on a separate plate
  • Trim the green beans
  • Chop the dill
  • Open & rinse beans and open can of tomatoes

Fresh veggies

Step 2:

  • In a small bowl mix the chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon & salt

Spices

Step 3:

  • Rinse the rice under cold water, bring 2 c of water to a boil with a pinch of salt, add the rice return to boil cover & simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff rice when done & let sit
  • Boil your green beans until crunchy, 3-5 minutes, drain, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking & set aside in the fridge

Fluffy rice!

Step 4:

  • In a medium to large saucepan, heat over medium heat 2 Tbsp olive oil until shimmering, sauté garlic for 1 minute, add onion, chopped swiss chard stems & cook for 3-5 minutes longer
  • Add your mushrooms, corn, zucchini, swiss chard leaves & 1/4 c water
  • Cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Mix in your spice mixture, stir in the chocolate & tomatoes. Reduce heat & simmer, covered for 10 minutes, add the beans & cook covered for another 5

Ancho Chocolate Chili

Step 5:

  • Prepare your salad dressing
  • In a small jar with a tight lid or a Tupperware container mix:
  • 1 tsp Dijon, 1 1/2 tsp shallot, 1/2 tsp mayo, 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 3 Tbsp olive oil & shake to combine

Dressing for the Dill & Green Bean Salad

Step 6:

  • Dress your green beans (you may not need all the dressing) & add 2 Tbsp chopped dill (more if you like dill). Taste & season with salt & pepper
  • Plate a big bowl of chili with rice on the side & green beans. Perfect.

The verdict:

The Ancho Chocolate Chili was delicious! After worrying so much about putting chocolate in the chili, my husband and I both agreed that it gave a nice flavour to the dish. There were a ton of great vegetables in the recipe, which we both loved. The bonus? We had enough for lunch the following day.

I enjoyed the Dill & Green Bean Salad as well. Since my husband isn’t a big fan of dill, I left the dill out of the salad dressing recipe and simply topped mine with chopped dill afterward.

Being East Indian, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that it took this recipe test for me to finally make rice on the stove, as I’ve been a plug-in rice cooker girl all my life! The rice was so fluffy and delicious that I might be giving up my rice cooker soon (not yet, but soon!).

After trying the service, I would definitely recommend it to the following groups:

  • Busy singles, couples, families who want to have everything on hand to make a great meal, without the stress of meal planning and shopping
  • People who cannot go grocery shopping for themselves but want to be able to cook tasty meals at home
  • Those who want to learn how to cook in the privacy of their own home, as the instructions are fairly easy to follow
  • Lastly, for those who like to throw weeknight dinner parties, this service can provide everything you need for an appetizer and main dish. The recipes and suggested plating look quite swanky too!

On a recent visit to the site, I was able to order 4 dishes for 4 people and it came to a cost of $11.25 per person, per dish (Note: this depends on what meals are chosen of course). I thought that the cost was pretty reasonable, considering that it includes all ingredients, the recipes and home delivery. Overall, we had a great time testing out the service and enjoy our meal.

Thanks Fresh Canteen for the opportunity, I can’t wait to try your services again!

For more information, please visit: http://www.freshcanteen.com/. You can also reach them at hello [at] freshcanteen [dot] com or call 1 (855) 416 FRESH

Have you tried Fresh Canteen? What did you think? If not, what are you waiting for?!?!

Review: IÖGO 0% yogurt with stevia extract

29 Sep

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Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by IÖGO (Ultima Foods Inc). I’ve received a product sample and compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Last week, I received a delicious delivery at my doorstep. Inside a (cold) black shopping bag with a IÖGO logo was a package of IÖGO 0% yogurt with stevia extract. The flavours: raspberry, blueberry, vanilla and mango-passion fruit. As if the flavours didn’t sound tasty enough, I saw that there was no gelatin in this yogurt, like all IÖGO products! What’s gelatin you ask? It’s a common ingredient that is derived from the collagens of animals. Ew.

So no gelatin and no artificial flavours or colours? The folks at IÖGO had my attention. To top it all off, they sweetened this yogurt with what I think is one of the products of the moment, stevia extract.

Stevia extract is a 100% natural origin calorie-free sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has an intensely sweet taste and zero calories. When used in small quantities, stevia extract can replace some of the sugar generally used in food products.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with alternative natural sweeteners, so I couldn’t wait to try the product.  I set myself up with a little taste test station and to be fair, I tried each of the yogurts twice last week.

The verdict…

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Vanilla:  This was the first yogurt I tried and it took me few bites to really get into it. I’ve found that products sweetened with stevia need to coat your tongue first to allow you to appreciate the flavours. I would definitely enjoy the vanilla yogurt with some fresh fruit.

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Raspberry: I enjoyed this flavour and I could taste the raspberry in it, which I really appreciated. The colour of the yogurt was natural. I would definitely eat this again.

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Blueberry:  This flavour was also true to its name, with small pieces of blueberry in the yogurt. This tasted the most like other blueberry yogurts I’ve tried, so I would call this a “comforting” flavour if that makes sense!

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Mango-Passion Fruit: I was most intrigued by this flavour, as I’ve never had mango and passion fruit together. The result was a tangy yogurt that ends with sweetness. I would enjoy this flavour at the end of a heavy meal, as it would make for a light and tasty dessert.

Was it love at first sight/bite? Yes, I would definitely recommend IÖGO 0% yogurt with stevia extract to those who want to include a packaged fruit yogurt in their diet that is 0%, doesn’t contain any gelatin (yay!) and is flavoured by natural sources. I have a lot of respect for IÖGO as I like that they are working to bring fresh, new yogurt products to Canadians. This particular product retails for about $7.99 in grocery stores in Canada.

For more information, check out: http://www.iogoStevia.ca/

Have you tried IÖGO yogurt or others with stevia extract? What did you think?

Review: McDonald’s New Signature Veggie McWraps

16 Sep

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Disclaimer: I did receive compensation from McDonald’s Canada for this post, however all opinions expressed are those of myself, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and my friend. 

My husband and I are always on the go. We are often out and about and we do love the occasional road trip (Montreal anyone?). As a vegetarian married to a meat-eater, I’ve found that over the years there are only a few quick service a.k.a. fast food restaurants we can visit that have good meal options for both of us. When I say a few, I’m being generous, there are only two places that I can think of immediately and both have veggie burgers as their star vegetarian attractions. What about the salads you say? Please. Stop. I want a real meal and there really is a certain joy that comes from eating on the road out of a paper bag. Which brings me to a piece of research provided by McDonald’s Canada…

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So I pretty much jumped out of my chair when I heard McDonald’s Canada released two new Signature Veggie McWraps (new vegetarian items excite me, what can I say!). I ate meat until I was about 14 years old and I loved McDonald’s when I was growing up, actually I still do. To me, McDonald’s means happy times and fun moments, like the incredible birthday parties I used to have there (the little hats and the birthday cake with the M on it were the coolest!). Now my fun moments are with my nephews, watching their eyes light up while they have a Happy Meal. To know that I might have a chance to eat with them instead of just having a coffee was very exciting indeed.

Knowing that I’m vegetarian, McDonald’s Canada challenged me to try their new Signature Veggie McWraps. I learned that the Veggie McWraps had been customized to suit Canadian palettes by McDonalds’ Director of Menu Innovation, Anne Parks. For example, Canada is the first country to use a whole-wheat tortilla.

I’ll review them in the order that I tried them in, with additional comments from my sister-in-law (she also eats seafood), brother-in-law (he will eat anything!) and my friend (who eats chicken on occasion) just to give you all a few opinions. Really though, you’ll just have to try them!

Wrap #1 – The Santa Fe Veggie McWrap

Ingredients: This wrap contains fire-roasted corn, black beans, a blend of real cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomato, red onion, iceberg lettuce, crunchy tortilla strips, chili lime glaze and southwest sauce, served in a whole wheat flour tortilla.

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Was it love at first sight/bite?  Yes! I was immediately intrigued by the packaging (I started my career in printing and I’m obsessed with cool packaging). I loved how interactive the packaging was, asking me to tear around it to release the wrap. Cool concept. I took a peek inside the wrap and it was filled with good looking ingredients and lots of colours and textures.

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I dove in and I immediately liked the crunch of the veggies and tortilla strips. The chili lime glaze and southwest sauce kicked it all up a notch and I liked the light lingering heat that was left on my tongue. I think it’s spicy enough to satisfy those who want a little kick but not so much that it will turn people off. The tortilla held everything together nicely and I was able to taste that it was whole wheat, which was great. There was a good balance of flavour and I was able to enjoy the ingredients to the very last bite. I appreciated the fact that my last bite wasn’t just a mouthful of tortilla!

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I enjoyed the southwest sauce that was used in the wrap, it reminded me of the sauce used in a delicious McSkillet Burrito I had tried at the McDonald’s flagship restaurant in Chicago a few years ago. They were able to make that vegetarian and it was a flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, roasted red and green peppers, onions and salsa roja. Filling and delicious with a spicy kick. Yet another awesome menu item that we should have here….can you hear me McDonald’s Canada? : )

My Feedback:

If McDonald’s could give me an option to add sautéed or crispy tofu to this wrap, I definitely would. I really enjoyed the flavours in this wrap but adding a bit of extra protein would kick this up a notch for me. In terms of the packaging, I would like to see the bottom end of the packaging come up a bit higher, as I think too much of the wrap is exposed when you remove the top cover. I ended up having to support the wrap so all of the tasty toppings wouldn’t come out in my first few bites.

Would I eat it again?

Absolutely. There was a spicy kick in it that I really enjoyed. I’m looking forward to eating this again.

 

Wrap #2 – The Mediterranean Veggie McWrap

Ingredients:  This wrap includes two exciting ingredients that have never been on McDonald’s Canada’s menu before: hummus and real feta cheese. Yes, that’s right, I just said hummus! Other ingredients include tomato, cucumber, red onion, iceberg lettuce, crispy lemon-seasoned onions and a creamy Mediterranean sauce, all served in a whole wheat flour tortilla.

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Was it love at first sight/bite?  A few days after trying the Santa Fe, I went back to try the Mediterranean Veggie McWrap. Once again, I was really excited when I unwrapped the box and I realized that it was because it felt like I was opening a present….a vegetarian present : ) My first bite was filled with crunchy lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion and feta, one of my favourite combinations….yum!  As I went deeper into the wrap, I tasted the crispy onions and I really liked them. The sauce wasn’t overpowering and I could enjoy each ingredient, which I appreciated.

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My feedback: Again, an option to add sautéed or crispy tofu to this wrap would be great. Alternatively, throwing some chickpeas in for extra protein could work?

Thoughts from others on both the Santa Fe and Mediterranean Veggie McWraps:

Santa Fe:

Sudha (my sis-in-law) – “I felt that all of the ingredients were overpowered by the southwest sauce, which made the wrap a bit soggy as well! Perhaps I should try it with the sauce on the side?!”

Craig (my bro-in-law) – “I enjoyed it and would eat it again.”

Mediterranean:  

Kanika (friend) – “Good to see veggie options at McDonald’s. The Mediterranean Veggie McWrap was filled with fresh toppings and I thought it was full of flavour and healthy. I’m hoping to see more vegetarian options at McDonald’s soon!”

Sudha (my sis-in-law) – “I prefer the Mediterranean one over the Santa Fe! It was very refreshing and the best surprise was the addition of flavourful crispy onions!”

More comments from Sudha (my sis-in-law) – “How will they maintain consistency of the wrap? Would it taste the same every time? It is easier when a protein is involved as it is literally the “star”; with veggies, one has to make sure there is a balance!”

Craig (my bro-in-law) – “I enjoyed this one too and I would also eat it again. I actually enjoy all of the McWraps on offer.”

And that’s a “wrap” folks : ) (Pun fully intended).

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As an added bonus to the readers of Milk & Eggs, McDonald’s Canada shared a few original vegetarian recipes that were developed by their Director of Menu Management. These were a few of my favourites. Enjoy!

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Have you tried the new Veggie McWraps? If so, please let me know what you thought of them or if you have any vegetarian suggestions I can pass on to our friends at McDonald’s : )

Day Tripping: Peaches, Pizza and Preserving with Farmers Feed Cities

2 Sep

Peaches at Quiet Acres Farm

The most wonderful time of the year is almost over….peach season in Ontario is coming to an end! I’m obsessed with peaches and as soon as the season hits, I’m one of the first in line for delicious Ontario peaches. The peaches from our neighbouring country to the south are fine for baking or in pinch when I’m desperate for one in the middle of winter. Ontario peaches however are a thing of beauty. I didn’t always appreciate them and actually when I was growing up I preferred nectarines, since they didn’t have “furry skin” but that all changed when I met a beautifully ripe Ontario peach a few years ago and I haven’t looked back!

Last summer, I had the opportunity to join a wonderful organization, Farmers Feed Cities, on a farm and vineyard tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake with a group of food bloggers and journalists. Farmers Feed Cities is committed to supporting Ontario’s farmers and helping the public to understand their importance. The goal of this farm and vineyard tour was to give us “city folk” a chance to understand and appreciate the contributions made by Ontario farmers. We only experience the end product at our local grocery store but behind the scenes, there are so many people and processes involved to get product from the farm to the market and finally to our dining tables.

We started our day off visiting the fruit and vegetable growers at Quiet Acres Farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is just over an hour away from Toronto. Our first stop was a visit to their peach orchards and they looked like they went on for miles and miles. Rows and rows of peach trees with beautiful fruit hanging down, just ready to be picked. We sampled fresh peaches and cherries, straight from the trees and maybe it was the setting but they truly were the juiciest and most delicious fruits I had ever had!

We then took a tour of their peach processing facility, where all peaches are sized, sorted, washed and packaged for grocery stores. One thing I really admired was that no peaches go to waste. They are all sorted and graded and if they don’t make the cut because they rotted on the tree, they are put into piles around the orchard that compost down and get returned to the soil.

Next, we paid a visit to their garlic and potato barn. The owner opened the doors to a huge, dark barn and asked us to all look up. There, in an attic-type space were bundles of garlic! Down below, there were baskets of potatoes, covered up so that the light wouldn’t harm them. I had never seen anything like it and as much as I call myself a “vegetarian foodie” I realized just how little I knew about the growth and handling of some of my favourite fruits and veggies.

Garlic barn

Potatoes, potatoes, everywhere...

We ended our tour of Quiet Acres with a visit to their fruit and vegetable stand for a little shopping. Everything they sell is grown on-site, so you can imagine just how beautiful all of the produce is. If you can’t, don’t worry, I’ve included a few pictures : )

Our next stop was a visit to Southbrook Vineyards, a company that is close to my heart as I used to frequent their Richmond Hill location, where they had a pumpkin patch and sold fresh pies throughout the Fall season. Sadly, the Richmond Hill location is closing this year, but fear not, their beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake location is going strong! We had a great tour of the vineyard and ended off with a delicious outdoor luncheon with fresh salads, pizza and wine (of course!).

Wine at Southbrook Vineyards

Beautiful fresh salads at Southbrook Vineyards

Fresh pizzas at Southbrook Vineyards

A glorious lunch at Southbrook Vineyards

We ended the day with a lesson in canning and preserving the beautiful peaches and cherries we had tasted on our tour. Lynn Ogryzlo taught us all about how to can Ontario peaches and cherries so that we could enjoy these beautiful fruits and bring back memories of a sunny, warm day by opening up a jar of home-canned fruit, even in the middle of winter!

Preserving with Lynn Ogryzlo

If you’re reading this, please do support our Ontario farmers, they work so hard and they are a huge part of our economy. Even if you can’t visit a farm in person like I did, the next time you’re at your local farmer’s market, please take a few minutes to speak to the farmers and their staff. They’ll appreciate the effort and this simple act will deepen your connection to the food that you’re putting on your table. P.S. I’ll bet your food will taste even better too!

Frolicking in the vineyard at Southbrook Vineyards

Links:

Farmers Feed Cities – http://farmersfeedcities.com/

Quiet Acres Farm – http://www.qa.on.ca/

Southbrook Vineyards – http://www.southbrook.com/

Lynn Ogryzlo, The Ontario Table – http://www.ontariotable.com/about-lynn-ogryzlo/

Biting Into Summer with Fruttare + a contest!

24 Jul

Disclaimer: I received a free coupon to try a box of Fruttare Fruit & Milk Bars. I did not receive any compensation from Unilever Canada for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.  

It was a hot, sticky night last Wednesday when two of my favourite performers, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, were in town for their Legends of Summer tour. Between the heat, the crowds of people and the excitement, we left the concert desperately needing something cold and refreshing. All of a sudden, there they were….little Fruttare carts! After hearing so much about Fruttare Bars, I was looking forward to trying the Fruttare Fruit & Milk Bar in Banana & Milk and luckily, the cart I went to had the exact flavour I was looking for. I tore into the wrapper, took a bite and I was instantly happy. The flavour was exactly what I was looking for, in that it tasted like a cross between a ripe banana and banana pudding. It was cold, creamy and rich-tasting, which was perfectly fine because the bar was just the right size for me.

Fruttare_BananaI had a coupon for Fruttare at home that I hadn’t used, so the following day I decided to pick up a box of Fruttare Fruit & Juice Bars in the Mango flavour. Coming from an East Indian household, the word mango automatically equals awesome/must have, so I knew that my family would be interested in trying them. As soon as I bit into the bar, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bar did have a true mango flavour and wasn’t too sweet. How did they do that?! My husband thought it had just the right amount of sweetness as well. Overall, I considered our Fruttare taste test to be a success! I still need to try the Peach & Milk and Coconut & Milk flavours…so many flavours, so little of summer left…le sigh.

According to their Canadian website, Fruttare Bars come in two types:

Fruttare Fruit & Milk Bars

Flavours:

• Strawberry & Milk: Luscious pieces of strawberries blended with milk

• Banana & Milk: Bursting with the flavour of sweet bananas and milk

• Peach & Milk: The delicious taste of real peaches blended with milk

• Coconut & Milk: Transport yourself to the tropics with the taste of coconut and real milk

Fruttare Fruit & Juice Bars

Flavours:

• Strawberry: Made with real strawberries that you can see and taste

• Mango: Bursting with real fruit taste of delicious mango

You can find Fruttare bars in major Canadian grocery stores. Let me know if you have any flavour recommendations for me! If you haven’t tried Fruttare Bars and want to, I have a little contest for you….

CONTEST:

The fine folks at Fruttare want to give one reader of Milk & Eggs a set of four Fruttare coupons, to help keep your freezer stocked with tasty frozen treats!

TO ENTER:

Visit http://www.fruttare.ca/ to learn about all of the delicious flavours of Fruttare Bars. Then, leave a comment on this blog post and tell me which Fruttare flavor you want to try the most. It’s that easy!

P.S. Don’t forget to include your Twitter handle or Facebook/blog site address so I know how to reach you! You can enter once per day. Contest closes on Wednesday July 31 at 5 pm. Winner will be announced later that evening.

Note: You must be a resident of Canada to win. Coupons will only be mailed to a Canadian address. Good luck!

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This contest is now closed. Congrats to @kateplummer for winning!

 

Expedia’s Film Contest with NFFTY and How I Plan to “Find My Picnic in the Park in Paris”

30 Jun

I recently had the opportunity to attend the #TBEX Travel Blog Exchange conference in my hometown of Toronto. I was so blessed to live in the host city for the conference this year as all I had to do was take a short subway ride to be able to meet travel bloggers and companies from all over the world. Expedia was a great supporter of the conference and I’m thrilled to share their special “Find Yours” contest with all of you…

Since Expedia launched their “Find Yours” campaign last year at the TBEX blogger conference in Keystone, Colorado, they’ve told stories that illustrate the personal relevance and emotion of travel. Of all the possible ways you can tell a travel story, film is perhaps the most powerful. What travel blogger hasn’t been inspired by the great travel destinations seen in film?

Now one travel blogger will get the chance to star in his or her own travel short film! This spring marked the second year they’ve partnered with National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), the world’s largest youth film festival. They’ve partnered with NFFTY to determine five iconic cities often seen on the silver screen, including: Australia, Paris, Morocco, London, and Seattle. The Expedia Viewfinder Film Contest starts June 5 and the entry period will close on June 30, 2013 (only a few hours left!).

To enter the contest, travel bloggers must write a blog post on their own blog about how they would “find theirs” in one of the locations above if they were chosen for the star of a 2-3 minute film then share it on Expedia Viewfinder ™ by putting your blog post URL in the comments of this blog post – http://viewfinder.expedia.com/toronto/expedia-film-contest-with-nffty.  Entries and film suggestions can be fiction or non-fiction. After the entry period closes, a panel of judges will evaluate the entries based upon the following criteria before selecting and announcing the winner in July:

  • Incorporation of the contest elements (chosen destination and Find Yours)
  • Creativity
  • The Focus or theme of the entry (for example: culture, adventure, food/wine, family-friendly travel, budget-friendly travel, luxury travel, etc.).

One blogger, along with a NFFTY representative and an assigned NFFTY filmmaker, will win an all-expense paid trip for up to four nights to the winning destination to create a “Find Yours” video.

How I plan to “Find My Picnic In the Park in Paris”

Back in 2006, I had the pleasure of joining a few girlfriends on a quick 4-day trip to Paris. That trip changed my life, as I tried some of the most amazing food and beverages I had ever had and I finally came face to face with a piece of art that I had been obsessed with since I studied it in high school.

It’s considered to be a Paris tradition (or perhaps a tourist’s tradition?) to sit by the River Seine and have a “Paris picnic” of a baguette, cheese and a bottle of wine. My vision is a different one, I want to show the world how to create the perfect Parisian picnic and recreate the scene of my favourite painting, Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe [Luncheon on the Grass] in Paris.

Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l'herbe [Luncheon on the Grass] at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Photo credit (Musée d'Orsay): http://bit.ly/17aLE4Y

Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe [Luncheon on the Grass] at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Photo credit (Musée d’Orsay): http://bit.ly/17aLE4Y

Now, there is the slightly complicated matter of a lack of clothing on the female subject in the foreground of the painting, so to be safe, I’ll assume the role of the clothed woman in the background! Seriously, I want to recreate the scene in this painting in Paris and invite strangers to my very own “Déjeuner sur l’herbe” – surrounded by the delicious delights that Paris is famous for: macarons, baguettes, champagne, cheese and yogurt (yes, yogurt!). I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian (I enjoy dairy and eggs but I avoid all meat, poultry and seafood) and I love beautiful art, so this short film puts the best of my favourite worlds together into one.

My short film would start off at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, with me sitting on the cold floor, in front of my favourite piece of art. When I visited in 2006, I sat in front of Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe for over an hour, soaking in every detail. In broken French, I told the security guard where I was from and that this was my favourite painting of all time. He was so kind and suggested a spot where I could admire the painting and not be disturbed for some time.

The film would then cut to Paris’ food markets, such as Marché Rue Cler or Marchés Bastille et Popincourt where the journey to build the picnic would begin. Together we would collect beautiful fruits and vegetables (specifically tomatoes, as they were particularly amazing in Paris!).

Marchés Bastille et Popincourt. Photo credit (Paris Top Ten): http://bit.ly/159LkBl

Marchés Bastille et Popincourt. Photo credit (Paris Top Ten): http://bit.ly/159LkBl

We would then pop into a Franprix shop (this is a grocery chain in Paris) and pick up a few exotic flavours of yogurt. I had never seen as much yogurt as I had when I visited Paris, as apparently yogurt is a staple for dessert.

Amazing selection of yogurts in Paris! Photo credit (Hey, I'm Anna blog): http://bit.ly/167OqZ6

Amazing selection of yogurts in Paris! Photo credit (Hey, I’m Anna blog): http://bit.ly/167OqZ6

Next, we would visit a boulangerie or two to pick up a beautiful baguette and some croissants (particularly pain au chocolat, chocolate-filled croissants, one of the greatest culinary creations of our time!).

Then, we would visit a fromagerie and purchase a selection of cheeses, including Brie de Meaux, Camembert de Normandie, and even a few funky French cheeses such as Rocamadour and Saint-Nectaire, which I’ve only had there.

Next, we would take a quick train ride to Reims to visit the Champagne region, learn about the production process and pick up a bottle for our picnic.

Finally we would take viewers to Pierre Herme’s patisserie, where I tasted macarons for the first time. I bought a “Macaron Mogador” – chocolate passionfruit macaron. I stepped outside the busy shop and took a bite into it. The flavours travelled to the tips of my toes and my knees buckled, leaving me sitting on a sidewalk on a busy Paris street. I’ve been addicted ever since!

Macaron Mogador from Pierre Hermé Paris. Photo credit (Pierre Hermé Paris) – http://bit.ly/15WYnmE

I believe in budget travel with a luxury twist. Travel is meant to be enjoyed and I truly feel that you can scrimp on some things and splurge on other things while travelling (specifically food and drink!). Overall though, you must enjoy the best of what you can afford, who knows when you’ll be back in that place again right?

I can’t find the words to describe what it is like to finally see a piece of art I only read about in books and I can’t find the words to describe fresh, simple food that was so delicious that I can still taste it on my lips 7 years later. Expedia, I hope that you’ll help me to find the words and create my own “Déjeuner sur l’herbe” in Paris!

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