Meals with My Munchkin: More-ning McWraps at McDonald’s

17 Nov



I was excited to learn that McDonald’s Canada came out with the Kale and Feta More-ning McWrap, a  breakfast wrap that sounded like a great option for my vegetarian diet. As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, it’s hard to find good vegetarian options at quick service restaurants, so I couldn’t wait to try it. Yes, even we vegetarians want the experience of hitting the drive thru for breakfast! Right now my go-to breakfast item at McDonald’s is an Egg McMuffin, minus the ham but with tomato added. I love it and it’s one of things I crave but it’s the only thing I get right now. The thought of a new veggie option was exciting.

As a vegetarian married to a meat-eater, I’ve found over the years there are only a few quick service restaurants we can visit that have good options for both of us. Knowing my dietary preferences and my husband’s, McDonald’s challenged us to try the new More-ning McWraps and share our thoughts. Since McDonald’s also came out with a Sausage and Hash Brown More-ning McWrap, it was a good opportunity to grab my husband and my son for a Sunday morning breakfast outing. Our order – the new wraps for my husband and I and a Hotcakes Happy Meal for my toddler.


We got our order and started to dig in…per the McDonald’s website, the Kale and Feta More-ning McWrap contains scrambled eggs, baby kale, sliced tomato and feta cheese, all wrapped up in a soft tortilla. The wrap has 21 grams of protein, which is terrific as I’m always looking for on-the-go vegetarian options with protein. I took my first bite and I was happy to see that the wrap was generously filled with the ingredients. As I got deeper into the wrap, I was happy with how the ingredients interacted with one another. The scrambled eggs were moist and the addition of feta cheese gave the wrap a bit of a bite against the fresh veggies. I would have liked to have a little bit of spice in it but that’s just who I am, I always want spicy food. Overall, I really enjoyed it and I would get it again.


While I was chowing down, my husband dug into the Sausage and Hash Brown  More-ning McWrap. This wrap contains scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, a hash brown and a slice of cheddar cheese, all wrapped up in a soft tortilla. He took a few bites and he immediately said, “this is a whole McDonald’s breakfast in one bite! I like how the flavours are mixing together” – he actually liked it so much that he kept his head down and ate the whole thing without coming up for air. I was barely able to get a photo in. When he was done, he simply said, “Yeah, that was pretty good, I would get it again” – always a good sign : ) What’s great about both of these wraps is that McDonald’s is using ingredients from their other products and meals to create them, which I thought was really smart.

While we munched on our wraps, my son happily sat in his highchair with his cool McDonald’s bib, gobbled up his Hotcakes and ate the yogurt that came with his meal. I appreciate that every McDonald’s location has high chairs and bibs and that there are healthy options on the menu like yogurt and apple slices. Everyone was full and happy, especially my son who also enjoyed checking out the fish tank at our local restaurant : )


Thank you McDonald’s for creating another veggie option, hopefully there are more items to come! And that’s a “wrap” folks (pun intended).  Have you tried the new More-ning McWraps? If you have, please let me know what you thought of them!

Slow Cooker Cheesecake

22 Oct


Cheesecake is one of my favourite desserts in the whole world. A cold, smooth and creamy cheesecake with a tasty graham cracker crust…top that with chocolate, caramel, fruit…I’ll take it all. I enjoy baking my own cheesecake but it takes a lot of time to make it. Prep time, an hour in the oven, cooling time, you get the picture. I could buy one but where’s the fun in that!

I’ve been using my slow cooker a lot more lately, it’s great to be able to just “set it and forget it” especially since I can hide the slow cooker away from my toddler son. One of my new favourite recipes is a Slow Cooker Cheesecake recipe from Ricardo Cuisine. I love to try recipes where I can make my favourites in a new way and this recipe was a perfect example of that. The recipe was very easy to put together, it cooked fairly quickly and the portion sizes were perfect – two cheesecakes each for me and my husband! (Three for me if he only eats one, yeah!). It’s a great recipe and I hope you’ll give it a try. I’m planning on making it again very soon. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Cheesecake

I’ve included the original recipe below and I’ve added my own notes throughout. The link to the original recipe on the Ricardo site is given here (this recipe was shared with permission):

Ingredients – Cheesecake


1 package 8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar (Note: Next time I’ll reduce the sugar a little, I found it a bit too sweet)

1 egg

1/4 cup (60 ml) 35% cream

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

Ingredients – Graham Crumble Topping

1/2 cup (125 ml) graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup (60 ml) all­ purpose flour

2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted butter, softened

Ingredients – Strawberry Topping

1 cup (250 ml) diced strawberries

1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar



  1. Line the bottom of the slow cooker with a clean cloth (Note: I used a clean, folded dish cloth) to prevent the ramekins from vibrating.
  2. In a blender, purée all the ingredients until smooth. (Note: If you don’t have a blender handy, do what I did and use a hand mixer. Start off by beating the ingredients on low speed until combined and then switch to high speed to get a smooth texture). Divide the mixture among four 125 ml (1/2 cup) ramekins. Place the ramekins in the slow cooker (on top of the clean cloth) and pour hot water into the container halfway up the ramekins. (Note: I prepped a kettle of boiling water before I put the ingredients together. By the time everything was ready, the water was hot and at the right temperature).
  3. Cover and cook on low temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until they are firm and slightly puffy. Remove the ramekins from the slow cooker and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until completely chilled.

Graham Crumble Topping

  1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and add the butter. Combine until the mixture is crumbly. With your fingers, drop the dough into small pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring twice during baking. Let cool. (Note: I loved the crumble but found the quantity was too much for just 4 ramekins. Next time I will make half the amount).

Strawberry Topping

  1. Combine the strawberries and sugar. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  2. When ready to serve, top each ramekin with graham crumble and strawberries.

Overall, I LOVED the end result and I’ll definitely make it again. Per my notes, next time I would reduce the amount of sugar slightly (there was nothing wrong with the amount of sugar but it was a bit too sweet for me). I would also cut back on the quantity of crumble as I had quite a bit leftover. This makes for a great homemade dessert for a small group and can easily be done with ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t have strawberries at home, you can top the cheesecake with blueberries or any other fruit.









You could win a signed copy of Ricardo’s Slow Cooker Favourites cookbook, filled with more than 65 great slow cooker recipes, including vegetarian ones!

Earn entries by doing the following (you can enter using any or all of these methods):

Additional Info:

The contest begins on Thursday October 22, 2015 and will end on Thursday November 5, 2015 at 12 pm EST. The winner will be announced later that day.

You can enter via each method once per day until the end of the contest.

The contest is only open to Canadians with a Canadian shipping address. Ricardo will ship the cookbook directly to the winner’s home.

Good luck!

Mini Apple Cinnamon French Toasts

10 Sep


Disclosure: I was given samples of Ozery Pita Break’s Just Minis products to try along with some recipe ideas. I only share information about products I enjoy and this is one of them. I hope you’ll try them out too!  

Earlier this year I created a Fattoush Salad recipe using Ozery’s Pita Break’s Large Regular Pita so when they sent me a box with samples of their Just Minis pita products to try out I was excited to try them out.

My baby son is growing up so fast…he’s now a fast moving toddler which means that he can work up quite an appetite. Being a toddler also means that he wants to eat independently, so finding wholesome, great tasting foods that he can enjoy on his own means a lot to me. Bonus points if my husband and I can enjoy them too.  My son is obsessed with bread and one of his favourite ways to eat it is in French Toast. I used Ozery’s Pita Break’s Just Minis Apple Cinnamon flavour and they were delicious. My son was able to hold the mini pita in his little hands and just go for it….it’s always fun to watch him eat : ) He had them plain while my nephews (who are 6 and 13) enjoyed them after school with maple syrup. Overall, they were a hit, which I’ve learned is a big deal when it comes to kids!

Mini Apple Cinnamon French Toasts

Yield: 12 mini French toasts


  • 6 Apple Cinnamon Just Minis, split into halved rounds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk (Note: I increased the amount of milk to a ½ cup as I wanted the pitas to soak up a lot of the mixture. You may want to use more.)
  • 1 tbsp butter, divided


  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Maple syrup


In a large shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs and milk together. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg (if using). Immerse Apple Cinnamon Just Minis into milk and egg mixture. Turn to coat both sides. (Note: I let the pitas soak in the mixture for about 20 seconds).

Meanwhile, preheat large skillet with lid to medium-high heat, melt 1/2 tbsp butter. Place pita rounds into skillet, cover. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Turn, cover and cook 3 more minutes or until golden brown and slightly puffy. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon & sugar mixture (if using). Top with maple syrup (optional). Serve hot.

Note: I chose not to sprinkle the mini French toasts with the cinnamon/sugar mixture or add maple syrup for my son as I felt the apple cinnamon flavour was sweet enough for him (and for my husband and I). You may want to add the extras for older kids.

My husband and I have been trying to reduce the amount of bread we eat but these are a great solution for when we want to have a little for a snack or meal. What I love about Just Minis is that I can do a lot with them, especially since they freeze beautifully and can be ready quickly if I pop them in the toaster or toaster oven. They make a nice snack with some cheese and cut up carrots and celery for work or after school. We also top them with different spreads – baba ghanouj, peanut butter, jam, cream cheese etc., and we also serve them to our son with scrambled eggs.




To learn more about Ozery’s Pita Break, please visit:



Twitter: @OzeryBakery or

CONTEST: Enter to win an Ozery’s Pita Break “Back To School” prize pack!

This prize is valued at over $75 and it includes:

  • A lunch bag
  • Tupperware
  • Reusable snack bags
  • A toaster
  • A few other goodies!

You can earn entries by doing the following:

  • Leave a comment below this blog post and tell me how you would enjoy Ozery Pita Break’s Just Minis. What would you make with them? How would you eat them?
  • Follow both me, Sandy Avvari-Nayani @savvari and Ozery’s Pita Break @OzeryBakery on Twitter. Then, retweet my tweet about this blog post/contest from my Twitter feed at – the tweet will be pinned to the top of my Twitter feed.

Additional Info:

The contest begins on Thursday September 10, 2015 and will end on Thursday September 24, 2015 at 12 pm EST. The winner will be announced later that day.

You can enter via each method once per day until the end of the contest.

The contest is only open to Canadians with a Canadian shipping address. Ozery’s Pita Break will ship the prize package directly to the winner’s home.

Good luck!

Turning Frozen Fruit Into Healthy Desserts with Yonanas

1 Sep


Disclosure: I was given a Yonanas machine to try out and I thought it was pretty cool, so I thought I would tell you all about it. All opinions are my own.

I’m more than a little obsessed with kitchen appliances. If it does something new and different, I must have it, much to the dismay of my hubby who is trying to declutter our home while I clutter it up. One of the machines I’ve had my eyes on for some time is Yonanas, a frozen fruit dessert machine that lets you take any frozen fruit you have and turn it into a creamy, non-dairy soft serve dessert. I was already having high hopes for this machine…

The box arrived and I couldn’t wait to tear into it. The instructions were great and it was very easy to assemble, I had the machine up and running within minutes. I had some frozen banana and frozen blueberries that I wanted to try mixing first as this is one of my favourite fruit smoothie combinations. Per the instructions, I allowed the fruit to thaw for a few minutes before starting up the machine. I started with two frozen bananas and one cup of frozen blueberries. I read that banana needs to be placed into the machine first before adding any other fruit and sure enough, it was a good tip as the banana kicked things off and acted as a base. It was pretty amazing to see how quickly it turned my boring old fruit into a creamy looking frozen dessert. After tasting it, I was really happy….there was no added sugar and no additives, just the pure flavor of my own frozen fruit.





Since that first trial run, I mostly throw in whatever frozen fruit I have on hand along with frozen bananas, which we always have in the house. This machine is the perfect place to use up spotty bananas that are a bit past their prime to eat fresh. I find that I get the best texture when I use a mix of old and new bananas (ones that have been frozen recently) along with a few handfuls of my favourite fruits. If you’re not a fan of bananas, you can use any other frozen fruits that you have on hand, just remember to let them sit out and thaw for about 5 minutes for best results.

To me this is a great machine for families to have as it can please everyone…ice cream lovers, people who are lactose intolerant, vegans and anyone who wants to make their own healthy, frozen desserts. I’ve used it to introduce my son to different fruits and as an added bonus, the cold helps to relieve his teething discomfort. His favourite combo…mangoes and strawberries…yum! The possibilities are endless, I have only tried a handful of the recipes on the Yonanas site…there are still so many others I have to check out.

To learn more, visit for info about their products and tips and recipes for frozen fruit desserts made both with bananas and without them.

Here are a few of my favourite “no bananas” Yonanas recipes, taken from their website. Enjoy!


Strawberry Pineapple Sorbet

Ingredients: 1/2 cup frozen strawberries and 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Directions: 1. Slightly thaw your frozen fruit prior to putting through your yonanas maker. 2. Insert 1/4 cup frozen strawberries. 3. Insert 1/4 cup frozen pineapple. 4. Alternate remaining ingredients


Peach and Cherry Sorbet

Ingredients: 1/2 cup frozen peach slices and 1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries

Directions: 1. Slightly thaw your frozen fruit prior to putting through your yonanas maker. 2. Insert 1/4 cup frozen peach slices. 3. Insert 1/4 cup frozen pitted cherries. 4. Alternate remaining ingredients

Mini Vacation – Chicago, Illinois

18 Jun


Disclosure: I received a media rate from the Renaissance Chicago Downtown hotel. 

My maternity leave was about to end and I needed to take a trip before I headed back to work…really badly. We were still too nervous to fly with a very active Baby R (yes, that’s first time parents for you), so a driving trip to the U.S. sounded like it would be the next best thing. The plan…head to Chicago to explore a bit and then visit friends in Indiana.

We were only in Chicago for a day and a half, so we needed to make the most of it with baby in tow. Traveling with baby is certainly different but with the right stroller (yay for our City Mini Baby Jogger) and a bit of advanced planning, it’s definitely doable. Add in a great hotel and you’re all set. Here’s the best of Part 1 of our trip – Chicago, Illinois!

The hotel:

The Renaissance Chicago Downtown was smack dab in the middle of the city and within walking distance of tons of restaurants and shops. We really couldn’t have asked for a better location. Add to that the fact that the hotel just completed $27 million dollar renovation of their lobby and guest rooms and we couldn’t wait to check it out.

I don’t know what the lobby looked like before their renovations but it looked amazing after the renovation. High ceilings, great art and a bar with an open kitchen came together to create a great vibe. The lobby was lively and people seemed to be happy and having a good time, which was nice to see. They have an espresso machine and pastries available for purchase in the lobby, so we grabbed a snack on our way upstairs.



When we got to our room, we were greeted with a tasty welcome surprise from the hotel (yum!) and we were happy to see that Baby R had his own little bed in the form of a stylish Pack ‘n Play with nice bed sheets in it. For those non-parents who are reading this, it’s a portable crib/containment device, I mean play area, that’s perfect for use when traveling. Baby R didn’t feel like hanging out in his Pack ‘n Play, so he made himself right at home on the king-sized bed while I wandered around the room. The room was a great size for us and even with the Pack ‘n Play in it, we still had quite a bit of space for the three of us and the assortment of luggage and other paraphernalia needed to keep a baby fed and happy.



The room had been updated in the hotel’s recent renovation project and it looked fresh and modern. My husband and I both thought the decor was cool and contemporary and the artwork had a great city vibe to it. The king-sized bed was very comfortable for the both of us and we had more than enough room for my son to sleep in between us when he got fussy that night (phew!). IMG_6108



The hotel has a full service spa, fitness center and a pool, which hopefully I’ll have a chance to check out on a future visit. Guests we met in the lobby told us the pool was terrific but sadly we just didn’t have the time to enjoy it. Definitely a great reason for us to come back again!

Overall, we enjoyed our visit and we look forward to staying at the Renaissance hotel again next time. We definitely needed more than one night in this city! Between dealing with traffic, baby’s feeding/sleep times and a general desire to otherwise take it easy, we didn’t make it to too many places on this visit. Note: I am leaving out an unfortunate experience with an Asian restaurant…sadly, not all food is perfect in Chicago! Here are a few of our favourite shops and restaurants from our short visit:

Eataly Chicago

If there’s an Eataly in the city I’m visiting, you’ll bet that I’ll head there. After talking my hubby’s ear off about Eataly New York (which he hasn’t been to yet), I knew I had to take him to the Chicago location. With two floors of food goodness, this store can’t be explained in words or photos, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. We decided to have a late lunch there and enjoy their fresh pasta. Hubby had a pappardelle in a Bolognese sauce which he was swooning over and I had their spinach and ricotta ravioli in a lemon butter sauce with pistachios. The sauce was so delicious, I wanted to lick the plate. I took a photo of some chocolate chip cookies that looked incredible and I posted it to Facebook while I was in there. Several people then asked if they tasted as good as they looked but I didn’t buy one as I was trying to be “good”…but in the end, I caved in and I was so glad that I did, that cookie was one of the best I had ever had! I wish I had one right now actually…






Garrett Popcorn

Yes, I know what you might be thinking…popcorn? Why do I need to buy popcorn in Chicago? Garrett Popcorn is a hot spot in Chicago and it’s not just the tourists who are in line to buy from their shop, the locals go there too. The signature item is their Garrett Mix popcorn, a mix of their CaramelCrisp and their Cheesecorn popcorn flavours. It’s an interesting combination that is a bit of an acquired taste but once you try it, you’ll be addicted. My husband’s favourite flavour is the Cashew CaramelCrisp and I love their Almond CaramelCrisp. Both of these are specialty flavours, packed with whole nuts. They are absolutely delicious and we actually prefer them to the bestselling Garrett Mix (yup, we said it!). We were only in Chicago for a little over a day and we went to Garrett Popcorn twice….that’s how much we love it there : )





Eggy’s Diner

The breakfast places we wanted to go to all had HUGE lineups so I pulled out my trusty phone to see what our fends on Yelp had to say. Eggy’s Diner popped up and it was within walking distance so we decided to check it out. We were so glad we did! The restaurant had a funky, relaxed vibe and bonus points, they had a high chairs for Baby R!

We started off with some pancakes, because I always have to try the pancakes at a breakfast restaurant. The verdict….they were delish, so we knew we were in good hands. Next up, I had the Benedict Florentine, a toasted English muffin topped with sautéed spinach, two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, complete with a side of breakfast potatoes. I threw some hot sauce on that bad boy and I was in my happy place. Hubby had the Corned Beef Hash and he too was in his happy place. Baby R enjoyed a lovely breakfast of milk and bits of pancakes, so he gives the place a thumbs up too : ) We will definitely have breakfast here again next time we visit! P.S. They have really cute mugs for sale with their logo on it. We bought one and we know you’ll want one too.







Once again Chicago, we only visited you for a short time! Hoping for a longer visit next time around. Until we meet again…. : )



Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel

1 West Wacker Drive

Chicago, Illinois 60601 USA

Eataly Chicago

The Shops at North Bridge

43 E Ohio St.

Chicago, Illinois 60611 USA

Garrett Popcorn Shops

26 W Randolph St.

Chicago, Illinois 60601 USA

Eggy’s Diner

333 E Benton Pl

Unit #103

Chicago, Illinois 60601, USA

How a Strauss WaterBar Can Grow With Your Family  

4 May

Disclosure: Baby R and I were recently invited by Strauss Water to join their team for an afternoon of fun at the BabyTime Show in Toronto. Again, I’ll say that I only write about products/services I actually believe in and have tried on my own. This is one of them!


I recently had the chance to join Strauss Water at the BabyTime Show in Toronto, to learn about how their Strauss WaterBars can help families to consume and enjoy purified water – chilled, boiling or room temp – all at the touch of a button.

I’ve written about this product before but the more I learn about it, the more I can see the benefits of having one in our home. Since we are in a period of transition at the moment, it doesn’t make sense for us to purchase one just yet but hopefully we will very soon. (Hubby if you’re reading this, I think I might want an orange WaterBar now).


At this event at the BabyTime Show, Strauss Water focused on how their WaterBars can support families as they grow. The key points I took away were:

  • Water is ready for formula mixing – already purified and can be set to the perfect temp. It’s a small thing but one of the most annoying things my husband and I have experienced about making formula is the need to constantly boil and cool water, so having a machine that removes these steps from the process would be so useful.
  • The WaterBar is great for breastfeeding moms who need to make sure they are hydrated all the time as they can dispense various temperatures of water at the press of a button. No need to wait too long for a hot drink anymore! Who has time when a little person wants cuddles (or is screaming at you LOL)?!?!
  • As my son grows up, so will my nephews and I know that they would love it if we had a Strauss WaterBar because kids (and adults) love to use machines to pour themselves a drink. There’s something that makes it a bit more special than turning on a tap and if that gets all of us to drink more water (myself included because I’m always dehydrated) then so be it!


To learn more about Strauss WaterBars, head to:




Hashtag: #StraussWaterBar

Warming Up With Pastries at Starbucks

2 May

Disclosure: The lovely folks at Starbucks (where I pretty much live anyway) gave me a gift card to try La Boulange pastries and others that were introduced into their stores.

Note: Before I begin, I KNOW I’m more than a tad late on this, but hey, I’ve been soaking up the last few weeks of my maternity leave with Baby R (*sniff*)!


The team at Starbucks Canada recently offered to send me a gift card and asked if I would like to try the line of La Boulange warm pastries that they had released. The invite came at a bit of an odd time because my husband and I were trying to reduce the amount of sugar we were eating and we had told ourselves that we would cut out pastries and other treats from our diets. So what do you do when you get an invite like this one from one of your favourite coffee companies (hello Pike Place coffee on tap….yum!)….you strap your baby into his car seat, you make an exception and you head out to try things out anyway : )

So I’m a bit obsessed with pastries and I seek them out wherever I go in the world. I first visited a La Boulange shop when I visited San Francisco a few years ago and I loved their pastries (I ate there every day pretty much), so I was excited to see Starbucks Canada partnering with them to introduce a line of warm pastries to their stores.

My husband and I shared the Almond Croissant Blossom and the Single-Origin Chocolate Croissant. Hubby had his with an iced black tea lemonade and I had mine with their Pike’s Place coffee. Both pastries were tasty in my opinion but my husband and I both agreed that the Almond Croissant Blossom was the clear winner as it reminded us of a pastry we had tried when we were in Europe. It wasn’t too sweet, there was just the right amount of almond flavouring, the pastry was flaky and it went well with their coffee. It’s a nice addition to their pastry lineup and an item that isn’t easy to find in our area….actually I would say that it’s quite a challenge to find an almond pastry in anything but a specialty bakery.


The Single-Origin Chocolate Croissant was also good, hey, a girl needs some chocolate to get her day going sometimes : ) The pastry was decent but I wished that it had the light crunch that I associate with chocolate croissants a.k.a Pain Au Chocolat as it’s known in France. I think this might be due to having it warm, so I’ll have to try it at room temperature next time.


I also found out that they had updated some of their other items including their Banana Loaf. Their new Banana Loaf is moister, more pillowy and to me it has more of a true homemade banana bread taste than the older version. Warmed up, the new Banana Loaf is definitely one of my favourites. Another item I enjoyed warm is their Fruit and Oat Cookie, which a gentleman in line randomly told me that I “must have” a few months ago. He told me that he buys one 2-3 times a week, sometimes more!

Overall, I think the addition of warm pastry items and a revamp of some of their other baked goods was a good move for Starbucks Canada. Next up, I hope they can upgrade to a model where each store bakes at least some of their own pastries in-house. How lovely would it be to be greeted by the smell of fresh coffee AND baking when approaching a Starbucks location? Fingers crossed!

Why We’re In Love with the Strauss WaterBar

31 Mar

Disclosure: I received an invitation from Strauss Water to learn more about their Strauss WaterBars at the Green Living Show in Toronto. I only share info about products I think are cool. Let me know what you think!


My husband and I first saw the Strauss WaterBar at a food show in Toronto a few months ago and I can honestly say that we were smitten at first glance. I was drawn to it immediately because I love funky kitchen appliances in bold colours. At first, I thought it was a new type of espresso machine but I was surprised to find out that it was a water machine. Yes, a water machine…it can dispense cold, room temperate, hot and boiling water at the touch of a button.



After getting a small taste of what this clever little machine was all about, I was excited to have an opportunity to get a closer look at it at the Green Living Show, which took place a few days ago. The machine is more than just a pretty face, it takes the water through a triple-filtration and purification system that it is tapped directly into your main water line, so that there’s a continuous supply of water. The folks at Strauss say that once the water has been processed, the essential minerals stay in the water but bacteria and bad tasting chlorine is reduced by 99.9%. Since our son was born last year, we have always used filtered and boiled water for his formula and solid food, so the concept of having purified water available at all times with no effort on our part is very appealing. They currently sell two machines in Canada, the T6 and T7 and both are available in a ton of cool colours, with yellow being my favourite.


While Strauss Water has only been in Canada for a few years, as a company, they’ve been around for over 40 years. While we have been blessed with a decent water supply here in Canada, that’s not always the case in other countries. Water machines have been popular in Asia for a number of years now. The last time I was in India, I was surprised to see them in quite a few of my relatives’ houses. Water purification is a huge business there as water treatment varies from region to region. A number of my relatives had machines hooked up to their taps that would boil, cool, filter and dispense water in a range of temperatures from cold to boiling. They all swear that they can’t live without them.


So, you might be wondering why anyone living in North America would want a Strauss WaterBar. I mean, you’ve lived without one until now right? Well check this out….

  • Water is dispensed at the touch of a button, at the temperature you choose. The machines have an energy-saving sleep mode and an automatic wake-up mode, so you can wake up to water at the temp you need, even boiling. 
  • Instant boiling water for preparing food or your favourite hot beverages. Note: The hot and boiling water functions on a Strauss WaterBar are more energy-efficient than a kettle. I boil a lot of water for my son’s baby formula and his food. On average, we use our kettle at least three times a day, so there would be a savings for us. On a side note, parents (myself included) will be happy to find out that they have a child safety lock on the hot and boiling water functions of the machine.
  • Eco-friendly water consumption. The average family wastes 400-600 small plastic bottles every year (we are guilty of this!), not to mention the large plastic jugs some families use. Add to that the use of gas and carbon emissions from driving….
  • Innovative and funky design helps to encourage family members to drink more water. How gorgeous would that yellow one look on our kitchen counter? Right babe? (Husband’s read blogs too). The folks at Strauss say that not only do adults drink more water with a Strauss WaterBar in their kitchens but so do kids!

In all seriousness, I think it’s a great product and I want one in my home (and so does my husband) which is why I’m sharing this info with you. If the market for water machines in Europe and Asia is any indication, I think they will soon takeoff and be popular in North America too. On a side note, I spotted a version of the Strauss WaterBar that’s sold in other parts of the world that has a sparkling water function….fingers crossed that it makes its way to Canada soon!

To learn more about Strauss Water, head to:




Hashtag: #StraussWaterBar


Fattoush Salad

16 Mar


Disclosure: I received a gift card from Ozery’s Pita Break to purchase the ingredients for this recipe.

I’ve been in a salad rut for some time now and it was time to push myself out of the bad habit of making the same salads over and over again. One of the things I enjoy doing the most is trying to replicate my favourite restaurant dishes at home, especially the ones I spend the most money on : )

One salad I adore is a Middle Eastern one called Fattoush (the spelling varies). I often order it when I’m out and I knew that the ingredients were simple enough for me to make the salad at home. I got the little push that I needed to make it when the folks at Ozery’s Pita Break, an awesome company that started right here in Toronto, asked me if I would like to try and make a recipe with their pita products. Ozery’s produces a number of bread products including flatbreads, buns, pitas and crackers that are free of artificial preservatives, colours, flavours and additives. I live in a Jewish neighbourhood, so another point I wanted to share is that all of Ozery’s products are certified as kosher under the Orthodox KSA (Kashruth Supervision of America) organization. In other words, no dairy or animal products or by-products are used, making them great for vegetarians and vegans. Some of my favourite Ozery’s Pita Break products include:


















A search online will show that there are many ways to make a Fattoush Salad but I chose to make it the way I enjoy it the most, with basic ingredients and a lovely spice called sumac.

“Sumac is the berry of a shrub that grows in the Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East. It is little known in Western cuisine, but it is an essential ingredient in Arab and especially Lebanese cooking. It has a tart, fruity flavour, and is used to add acidity to food in the same way that lemon is used in Canada and tamarind is used in Asian countries.” (Source: The Silk Road Spice Merchant –

The recipe below is my creation and it’s a mashup of several recipes I reviewed online. You can add additional ingredients such as torn romaine lettuce, chopped green, yellow or red pepper, purslane, arugula, radish or use a creamy dressing….as you can see, there are tons of options. If you make your Fattoush Salad a different way, I would love to try it! Please leave a comment below the post or connect with me on Twitter @savvari. Enjoy!

Fattoush Salad

Creator: Sandy Avvari-Nayani –


Toasted Pita

2 tablespoons olive oil

One Ozery’s Pita Break Large Regular Pita, split in half to make two separate layers, then tear each layer into bite-sized pieces or cut the pita into 1-inch square pieces.


1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons sumac (found at most Middle Eastern grocery stores)

Salad Ingredients

3 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways, chopped (or a medium-sized English cucumber, halved lengthways, chopped)

½ a medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon sumac

Kosher salt (for seasoning)


Toast the pita: I used my toaster oven to toast the pita pieces. Line your baking tray with parchment paper. Place the pita pieces in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil. Spread the pita pieces onto the parchment-lined baking tray. Toast in the toaster oven until they are crunchy, likely about 3-4 minutes depending on the settings on your toaster. Watch carefully to make sure they brown but do not burn! Once ready, transfer pieces back to the bowl and set aside.

Make the salad dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar or other container with a tight fitting lid. Secure lid. Shake until well combined. Set aside.

Salad: Place tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, parsley and mint leaves in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with sumac. Drizzle with dressing. Toss gently to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt.

Add toasted pita pieces to the salad. Toss gently and serve. Taste again and add more kosher salt and lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately.

Sandy’s notes: I tried this salad with Ozery’s Organic Whole Wheat Pita as well and it was also delicious. In order to stay “true” to the original recipes for Fattoush Salad however, their plain pita is the best option.






To learn more about Ozery’s Pita Break, please visit:



Twitter: @OzeryBakery or


CONTEST: Enter to win an Ozery’s Pita Break prize pack!

This prize is valued at over $110 and it includes:

  • A range of Ozery’s Pita Break products
  • Toaster
  • Cutting Board
  • Bowl Dip Set

You can earn entries by doing the following:

  1. Leave a comment below this blog post and tell me what your favourite way to enjoy pita bread is. Do you like to dip it? Stuff it with toppings? Make a pizza? Maybe you’ll teach me something new!
  1. Follow both me Sandy Avvari-Nayani @savvari and Ozery’s Pita Break @OzeryBakery on Twitter. Then, retweet my tweet about this blog post/contest from my Twitter feed at

Additional Info:

The contest begins on March 16, 2015 and will end on Tuesday March 31, 2015 at 12 pm EST. The winner will be announced later that day.

You can enter via each method once per day until the end of the contest.

The contest is only open to Canadians with a Canadian shipping address. Ozery’s Pita Break will ship the prize package directly to the winner’s home.

Good luck!

Tasty bites at Dr.Laffa Restaurant

13 Mar


I recently had the opportunity to visit Dr. Laffa Restaurant in North York, Ontario for a family-style tasting session with a group of fellow food lovers. Like me, you’re probably wondering what this restaurant’s name is all about. Well, Yoram Gabay and his passionate team are serving up some tasty Israeli and Iraqi cuisine for their faithful customers, along with their delicious laffa bread, which is served alongside dishes or as a wrap.

Yoram came out from his busy kitchen to tell us a little bit about Dr.Laffa Restaurant. He wanted to create a restaurant in Toronto that featured the food and flavours he cherished the most back home. He tries to make everything as authentic as possible, going so far as to have spices specially delivered from his homeland every few weeks. He even designed his own laffa oven, so he could recreate his recipe perfectly.

After a warm welcome from the Dr.Laffa team, the share plates of dishes started to come out of the kitchen in a steady stream. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had quite a few vegetarian dishes on their menu, including a number of salads, dips, mains and sides. I love meals with lots of different things to try, so their cuisine was absolutely perfect for me.

Vegetarian Highlights:

Fresh laffa

This is why I wanted to visit Dr.Laffa Restaurant in the first place. I was dying to try this special bread that I kept reading about. Laffa is fresh chewy flatbread of medium thickness that to me tasted mostly like naan (an East Indian flatbread). Naan is fairly easy to tear and I found that the laffa bread didn’t necessarily tear easily, which is a good thing as it is widely used in sandwiches and wraps.


Fresh, hot laffa!

Salads, dips and sides

Marinated beets, roasted peppers, tabouli, baba ganouj, falafel, grilled eggplant with tahini….there were so many fresh and tasty choices at Dr.Laffa. If you’re having trouble choosing what to try, don’t worry too much, you can order a platter with a variety of different items on it.


Clockwise from top left: Hummus with fried eggplant, baba ghanouj, marinated beets, tabbouleh, roasted eggplant with tomato


Hummus with fried eggplant and tahini


Grilled eggplant with tahini


Fresh, piping hot french fries


I enjoyed these tasty potato fritters, they reminded me of pakoras, another type of fritter that’s common in East Indian cuisine. They were served with a sour mango sauce that one of the chefs said would take it to “the next level” and he was absolutely right! The sauce enhanced the flavours in the fritters and created a whole set of new flavours when everything was mixed together. They serve these fritters in a sandwich which they also call Sabich, so I found it a bit confusing! The sandwich contains these fritters, eggplant, hard boiled egg and your choice of toppings. Since we were tasting a ton of food as a group, we had the fritters straight up, but I’m looking forward to trying them in a sandwich on my next visit. They can also be purchased in the Sabich Plate, which includes the fritters and several salads.


Fresh, hot sabich. Have them with sour mango sauce and watch your tastebuds explode : )


My favourite dish of the night was their Shakshuka, an absolutely delicious piping hot skillet of stewed tomato sauce with poached eggs. I’ve had Shakshuka at a few restaurants in Toronto but this was my favourite version so far. Their tomato stew included small pieces of vegetables and beans along with a delicious mix of spices that I’ve never tasted before. It was so comforting… every bite just warmed up my tummy, the seasoning was perfect and the spices just took everything to another level. I can’t wait to bring my husband and son in sometime soon to share a skillet of Shakshuka with some fresh laffa.


My favourite dish of the night, Dr.Laffa’s Shakshuka. Hearty, piping hot and packed with flavour!

Many thanks to Yoram Gabay and the hardworking team at Dr. Laffa for introducing me to their food. Thank you Vicky @momwhoruns for the invitation! I’m already looking forward to my next visit, this time with my meat-loving husband, as I know he would enjoy their Shawarma Laffa, Dr. Laffa Hummus (with ground meat and pine nuts) and their Pasties Plate a.k.a Moroccan Cigars (phyllo rolls with a meat filling). All of these dishes were very popular with the others at the table, so I know he’ll love them too.

Restaurant Info:


This is a Kosher restaurant, so they are NOT open after sundown on Friday’s. They are also closed on Saturdays. Please call the restaurant before heading over there so you won’t be disappointed!

Dr. Laffa Restaurant

3027 Bathurst St

North York, Ontario

M6B 3B5

Tel: 647-352-9000 or 647-352-9001


Twitter: @DrLaffa

Instagram: @Dr.Laffa


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