Zomato Meetup at The Good Son

22 Feb

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I haven’t had a fabulous vegetarian meal at a Toronto restaurant in long time. Now, I know that Toronto has a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants but I’m talking about great vegetarian dishes at “regular” restaurants, so I can enjoy a meal with my carnivore of a husband (I say that with love!). Just when I was about to give up hope, along came the amazing team at Zomato with an invitation to join them for a #ZomatoMeetup dinner at The Good Son. I quickly scanned the menu before heading downtown and I saw a few veggie dishes that sounded tasty, so I felt confident that there would be something for me to eat. Who knew that I was about to have a very exciting and memorable meal….

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I arrived to see that the Zomato group had reserved a large table near the Chef’s station…yippee! As soon as I saw that, I knew we were in for a treat. If you’ve never sat near the kitchen or at the “Chef’s Table” in a restaurant, make an effort to do so. You’ll be close to the action, you’ll get to hear all of those glorious kitchen sounds and you’ll often be surprised with off menu dishes and treats. To me, they are the best seats in the house. At the table were Zomato’s Toronto team, including Justin, Jimena and Pam and a group of fellow bloggers from a mix of food and lifestyle sites. Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant discovery platform and social food network, with presence in over 13 countries and 44 cities. They just upped their game and recently purchased Urbanspoon too!

I did some reading about Zomato before coming to the event and I found out that their team physically collects information from every single restaurant/cafe/bar in town (menus, photos, pricing, timings etc.) and they make sure this information is always up to date. Users of Zomato (which is free to join by the way!) have the unique opportunity to rate and review restaurants, follow other foodies and create a trusted network of people whose opinions they value, all based around one common love… food! They also have the opportunity to “wish list” restaurants, upload photos and tag their friends. It’s a really cool platform, so I do hope you’ll check it out. If you do join, please look me up under Sandy Avvari Nayani.

So why am I sharing this information? I wasn’t asked to share it, I want to share it, because the Zomato team is fiercely passionate about food and the work that they do and I don’t see people with that amount of passion very often. I’ve been using Zomato for a few weeks now and I can already see the benefits of it as I’m able to check out which restaurants my foodie friends have checked into and take a look at photos of the dishes they’ve had. It’s been a great resource so far.

So now onto the meal at The Good Son….oh and what a meal it was. There was a set menu for the evening and I was the only vegetarian at the table, so the restaurant made a special effort to provide me with dishes from their regular menu or vegetarian versions of dishes the rest of the group was having.

IMG_4469First course: Shishito peppers wrapped in potato. Crunchy, spicy goodness with a ton of flavour. I’ve never had anything like it. Oh yeah.

IMG_4464Second course: Watercress salad with poached pear, blue cheese and caramelized onion. It was my first watercress salad and it won’t be my last, the flavours were just incredible.

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Third course: Sweet potato soup with coconut milk. It was warm and comforting on a cold day. There was so much flavor in this soup, I could have eaten bowls of it.

IMG_4468Fourth course: Dupuy lentils with kale. It was so delicious I couldn’t even stand it. One of my favourite dishes of the evening. Where has this dish been all my life? Why haven’t I had Dupuy lentils before? So many questions….

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Fifth course: Spicy brussels sprouts. Another favourite of the evening. Sweet, spicy, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside…wow, wow, wow. Why haven’t I had them like this before? Mind blown.

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Sixth course: Rapini and roasted cauliflower with potato purée. A simple and delicious way to start winding down the meal.

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Seventh course: Poached pear with a Riesling sabayon, pear gelée and chocolate crunch. Lots of great textures, with a ton of flavour. A small but mighty dessert!

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Eighth course: We were all stuffed and happy and just when we thought the meal was over, out came this amazing dessert from Pastry Chef Sat Shastri – red velvet cake with chocolate mousse, cherries and meringue. It was huge and we easily could have shared the dessert and we all started to protest, but Chef Shastri insisted that we just dig in. It was not only beautiful to look at but also incredibly delicious to eat : ) Most of us managed to finish more than half of the dessert, myself included!

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While I was swooning over the creativity and care that went into my vegetarian meal, there were yelps and moans of foodie pleasure at the rest of the table, where my fellow food lovers were savoring their meat and seafood dishes. All in all, I felt that The Good Son did an amazing job at catering to everyone at the table, which to me is a huge feat. Huge thanks to Chef Vittorio Colacitti and the team at The Good Son for a fantastic vegetarian meal, the best I’ve had in a long time! Thank you Justin, Jimena and Pam from Zomato for creating an evening of great food and great people, I’m so thankful that I had a chance to enjoy a #ZomatoMeetup. If they are all this amazing, I would be happy to join again : ) See you again very soon Chef Colacitti! XO

Info:

Zomato – https://www.zomato.com

Zomato’s Toronto feed – https://www.zomato.com/toronto

The Good Son

1096 Queen Street West (at Dovercourt)

Toronto, ON M6J 1H9

Tel: 416-551-0589

Website: http://thegoodsontoronto.com

About Chef Vittorio Colacitti (from The Good Son’s website)

Born and raised in Toronto, Chef Colacitti, learned his culinary art from some of the best names in Toronto’s restaurant industry including: Lorenzo Loseto (George), Scot Woods (Lucien), and Didier Leroy who is a master Chef of France.  Chef Colacitti’s craft in the kitchen also draws from several years of international experience, having studied at the Thai & International Food Academy, staging in various regions across Italy and working as a stagiaire at Thomas Keller’s, Bouchon.

 

Mini Vacation – Monroeville and Grove City, Pennsylvania

13 Feb

Disclosure: We chose to stay at the Hampton Inn in Monroeville, Pennsylvania and we paid for our rooms. We also chose to visit Grove City Premium Outlets. This is not a sponsored post. 

Since I had baby Ronin last year, we’ve been on one family vacation and that was a road trip to Montreal. It was our first trip out with the baby and it went quite well, so we decided to be brave and head out to Pennsylvania with our whole family. The key reason was to visit the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, not only for our annual trip but also to conduct our son’s hair ceremony, an East Indian tradition where the baby’s first haircut takes place at the temple. The other great reason to visit the area….hitting one of our favourite outlet malls, Grove City Premium Outlets!

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I love to shop! Oh yes I do!

Since we were travelling with the whole family (all 11 of us!) we wanted a hotel that was near the temple and Grove City Premium Outlets. Bonus points if the hotel included breakfast and a pool. After some hunting, we chose the Hampton Inn Monroeville as it met all of our needs.

Hampton Inn – Monroeville, Pennsylvania

After a long drive, we arrived at the hotel and were promptly checked in by their friendly staff, who advised that there was complimentary coffee, tea and chocolate available near the front desk. They also had a popcorn machine and a basket of apples to welcome us. We were already off to a great start!

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We headed up to our rooms to settle in. Each room had complimentary bottles of water and packages of Oreo cookies, which I thought was a nice touch. I absolutely love it when hotels make an effort to make their guests feel welcome, it really seems to be a lost art. The beds looked comfy and inviting and my nephews promptly tested them out by jumping on them…we stopped them after a few jumps, don’t worry. Baby Ronin also settled in nicely on the bed, as you can see : )

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We were starving and it was late, so dinner was going to have to be delivery. We ordered pizza from Vocelli’s on a recommendation from the front desk and it was a good choice. We got their Spring Veggie pizza and their Deluxe Pizza and both pizzas were loaded with fresh toppings. The slices were large and the crust was nice and thin. We all enjoyed it and we agreed that we would order it again next time we were visiting.

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I had some time to explore the hotel after dinner so I headed down to the lobby. Along with a computer and printer for guests, next to the front desk was a small shop with a great selection of food, drinks and toiletries for purchase. I was impressed not only with the number of options they had but also that the prices for all items were very fair. Since they don’t have a restaurant in the hotel, it was great to see that they had something for guests who needed a snack or a meal in a pinch.

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We were up at the crack of dawn the next day as we had an early morning time slot at the temple for the hair cutting ceremony. Sadly, we weren’t going to have a chance to try the pool! Oh well, time to hit the breakfast buffet instead : )  I was happy to see that they had a pretty wide range of items, both hot and cold, including eggs, home fries, sausage (my hubby was quite happy about this!), a waffle maker and the usual suspects including a selection of breads, cereals, yogurt etc. There really was something for everyone and we all left with full tummies.

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Sri Venkateswara Temple – Monroeville, Pennsylvania

After breakfast, it was time to head to the Sri Venkateswara Temple, which according to their website is one of the earliest traditional Hindu Temples built in the U.S. My family has been making the trek to Monroeville, Pennsylvania to visit this temple for over 30 years and to this day, it still looks just as it did when I was a kid, all thanks to the staff who do an incredible job at maintaining the temple and the grounds. Everyone is welcome at this temple, so if you’re going to be in the area, please do make it a point to visit.

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Photo credit: Naveen A.

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Photo credit: Naveen A.

After the hair ceremony for my son was over it was time to head downstairs for one of my favourite parts of our annual visit…the food! The Sri Venkateswara Temple serves some of the best South Indian food I’ve ever had and the amazing part is that the flavours have been consistent for over 30 years. The dishes are packed in takeout containers, each costing $2 and they are filled with glorious South Indian delights such as pulihora (tamarind rice), perrugu annam (yogurt rice), sambar rice (a spicy vegetable stew mixed with rice), uppama (a polenta-like dish with vegetables), and pongal (a rice dish made with peppercorns and clarified butter). The temple is a busy place on weekends and the kitchen staff are constantly making new batches of each item, so you’re never waiting too long for the next batch to come out of the kitchen. I’m drooling as I’m writing this!

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We couldn’t leave Pennsylvania without visiting Grove City Premium Outlets. We’ve been shopping at this outlet mall every year since we got married and I’m so glad that I have a husband who takes shopping as seriously as I do! : ) We spent a few hours at the mall and guess what, I don’t have any photos….why you ask? Um, because I was shopping, there’s no time for photos! However, I do have a few tips to improve your shopping experience….

How to Improve Your Shopping Experience at Grove City Premium Outlets (Grove City, Pennsylvania): 

  • Take your passport with you as they have a special coupon booklet for visitors, with coupons for additional percentages off of your purchase etc. The staff at the desk are great and they are happy to let you take a look at the booklet before buying it.
  • A great meeting place is the food court. There’s only one and it’s pretty easy to find people there. While you’re there, be sure to take a break and have a snack and a drink in the middle of your shopping trip. Shopping requires energy!
  • Park at the “back” of the mall, there is more parking and you’ll have just as easy of a time accessing the stores.
  • Grab a copy of the mall map and circle the stores and locations of the stores before you head out to shop. If you’re on a schedule, this is the best thing to do to hit all of the stores you wish to visit. Otherwise, wandering around can take up quite a lot of time!

My “Go To” Stores at Grove City Premium Outlets (in no particular order):

  • Banana Republic
  • GAP
  • Adidas
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • J.Crew
  • Lucky Brand
  • The North Face
  • Nine West Outlet
  • Fossil

With a ton of bags from a successful shopping trip, we stopped in at the food court for a snack before heading out. I’m thankful that Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen continues to prepare tasty pizza slices and strombolis because the spinach and cheese stromboli with extra sauce is my favourite thing to eat whenever I’m there. The trip just wouldn’t be the same without it. See you soon Pennsylvania! Miss you already XO

o

Addresses:

Hampton Inn Pittsburgh/Monroeville

3000 Mosside Blvd., Monroeville, Pennsylvania, 15146

(412) 380-4000

http://www.hamptoninn.com

 

Vocelli Pizza of Monroeville

2644 Mosside Blvd., Monroeville, PA 15146

(412) 856-5000

http://www.vocellipizza.com/monroeville_pa

 

Sri Venkateswara Temple

1230 South McCully Drive, Penn Hills, PA 15235

(412) 373-3380

http://www.svtemple.org

 

Grove City Premium Outlets

1911 Leesburg Grove City Road

Grove City, PA 16127

(724) 748-4770

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=85

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spaghettini with Roasted Beet and Poppy Seed + a CONTEST!

4 Feb

 

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Disclosure: Italpasta provided me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients for this recipe.

I love pasta and I could eat it every day of the week if I had to. I’m serious. There are so many pasta shapes and so many ways to eat it that I’m sure I wouldn’t run out of options.

I was excited when Italpasta asked me to try a vegetarian recipe for pasta lovers, perfect for Valentine’s Day, featuring Italpasta Total Pasta Spaghettini. It’s a white pasta with the goodness of 10 grams of fibre packed into each serving, a great option for hubby and I because as much as we enjoy whole wheat and other “healthy” pastas, sometimes we just want (at least what looks like) the regular stuff!

This recipe features butter, spaghettini, beets and goat cheese and they all combine together to form a simple and tasty dish with a beautiful, vibrant beet red finish, perfect for Valentine’s Day or if you’re having guests over and want to impress them. At first I wasn’t sure about adding poppy seeds to the dish but they ended up adding a nice crunch. The texture of the spaghettini was perfect, I never would have known that I was eating a high fibre pasta. We’re adding this dish to our pasta rotation, that’s how much we both liked it! #win

I’ve added some of my own notes in the recipe below. If you make it and have any tips to share, please leave a comment below this post. Happy cooking!

P.S. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter my delicious Valentine’s Day contest to win an Italpasta “For Pasta Lovers” prize pack.

Italpasta’s Spaghettini with Roasted Beet and Poppy Seed

Link: http://www.italpasta.com/recipes-spaghettini-with-roasted-beet.php

Serves 2

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

½ pound      Italpasta Total Pasta Spaghettini         225 g

2                     small roasted red beets, peeled and cut into wedges (Sandy’s notes: You can save time by roasting the beets a few days before making this recipe).

2 tbsps          unsalted butter            30mL

1 tbsp             Italpasta Extra Virgin Olive Oil 15mL

1                      small shallot, minced  (Sandy’s notes: I used half of a small onion)

1 tbsp             poppy seeds   15mL

2                      sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped

salt and pepper

¼ cup              crumbled soft ripened goats cheese, for serving      60mL

(Sandy’s notes: I quickly roasted the beets by peeling them and cutting them into cubes. Then I tossed them in a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper and I spread them out on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. I roasted them at 425 F for 30 minutes. You may need longer depending on the size of the beets. While you have your beets in the oven, consider making some roasted potatoes or another dish to save on energy.)

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente or to your taste. Drain and reserve ½ cup pasta water.

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, brown the butter. Reduce the heat slightly, add extra-virgin olive oil, and stir to combine. Add minced shallot, and cook for 2 minutes, until softened, stir in poppy seeds. Toast the seeds for 1-2 minutes.

To the shallots and poppy seeds, add the chopped beets and thyme, stir for 1-2 minutes. Add ½ cup of pasta water to the skillet. Simmer the sauce over medium heat for 2 minutes. (Sandy’s notes: At this point, I added a ½ teaspoon of chili flakes to add a little spice to the dish).

(Sandy’s notes: This next step is key…stir quickly and constantly to cover all of your pasta with that beautiful red sauce otherwise it will be unevenly coloured.)

Transfer pasta to the skillet and cook for 1 minute until combined, stirring constantly. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning. Serve in warm pasta bowls and top with crumbled goat’s cheese.

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If you loved the look of this pasta, Italpasta has a second Valentine’s Day inspired pasta recipe – Red Wine Spaghetti: http://www.italpasta.com/recipes-red-wine-spaghetti.php

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If you’re looking for more ways to impress your loved one on Valentine’s Day, visit Italpasta’s special Pinterest board with tips on how to set the perfect table, host Valentine’s Day on a budget and of course, cook up some awesome pasta recipes here: http://www.pinterest.com/forpastalovers/valentine-s-is-for-pasta-lovers/

Get more tips and recipes from Italpasta here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ForPastaLovers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ItalpastaLimited

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/forpastalovers

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/forpastalovers/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ForPastaLovers

CONTEST – Enter to Win a Valentine’s Day Italpasta “For Pasta Lovers” prize pack!

Enter to win a prize pack valued at over $50. It will include:

  • A supply of Italpasta Tradizionale Pasta
  • Apron
  • Cheese Grater

To enter:

1) Follow me on Twitter @savvari or www.twitter.com/savvari

2) Follow Italpasta on Twitter at @forpastalovers or www.twitter.com/forpastalovers

3) Retweet my contest tweet OR tweet this message:

I want to win a #ValentinesDay prize pack from @savvari and Italpasta @forpastalovers http://bit.ly/1vszYbL #forpastalovers

Get a second chance to win by leaving a comment below this post. Tell me what your favourite pasta shape is and what your favourite way to prepare it is – macaroni with cheese? Linguine with alfredo sauce? If you have a great recipe, let me know! If you don’t use Twitter, this would be your method of entry.

You can enter on both Twitter and on the blog post once per day each until the end of the contest. Contest runs until Sunday February 15 at 5 pm EST, so get your entries in!

Additional info:

  • There is one (1) Italpasta prize pack to be won.
  • The winner will be announced by Monday February 15 at 5 pm EST.
  • The contest is open only to residents of Canada.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner. A Canadian shipping address must be provided.
  • Total value of the prize is $50

 

 

Persimon Pizza

17 Jan

Please enjoy this guest blog post from Kimberly Toureiro a.k.a @KitchenSprout. Have you ever had persimmons on pizza? After checking out this recipe that’s suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, I think you’ll want to give it a try!

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Behold! The rare jewels of Spain; precious Persimons! From Ribera del Xuquer their harvest commences in the fall, and are available in limited quantities and for a limited time, from October until January only. Persimon branded persimmons, like the tomato, are not properly considered to be “berries”, but in terms of botanical morphology, the fruit is in fact a berry. This fruit is of the “Diospyros” family, which is a genus of 700 species of evergreen trees, shrubs and small bushes. The word “Diospyros” comes from the ancient Greek words “dios” and “pyros” and when translated means “divine fruit” or “divine food” – on first bite I will attest to the accuracy of the description of this obscure gem!

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The characteristics of the “Persimon” from Ribera del Xuquer differ from other persimmon varieties. They are:

1) Bright orange and tend to be larger and longer

2) Are firm and ready to eat (unlike other persimmon varieties, which must be consumed when they are soft)

3) Are not astringent (bitter) thanks to a naturally occurring ripening process

4) Have a sweet, delicate flavour similar to a peach or a mango

Persimon del Xuquer were given the name, Persimon, intentionally spelled with one “m” and were given a registered trademark.  Persimon was also granted a “Denomination of Origin” designation by the Spanish government. This highly coveted quality seal is the only one existing in the world for a persimmon fruit variety and is recognized by the European Union.

I was requested to participate in a Persimon blogger program in late December, whereby I received a case of Persimons from Ribera del Xuquer. In the basket there were five simple and enticing recipes for me to choose from, varying from snacks, mains and dessert. I choose to have a Christmas gathering of six people and I decided to take my guests on a journey to “Espana Autentica” – this provided me with a platform to not only enlighten my guests about this “divine fruit” but to demonstrate the ease of creating any of these seductive dishes. The choice was Persimon and Chorizo Pizza; this particular recipe accommodates both meat eaters as well as vegetarians, as the chorizo can be replaced with soy-based pepperoni. Choosing the pizza ensured crowd involvement, so that each one them could modify their own pizza to their desired tastes. Needless to say everyone loves pizza! It has become an international staple for the young and old, and from culture to culture.

Admittedly the sumptuous persuasion to attempt this dish was predicated on the actual and exotic combination of flavors to be found therein. Trending with “social media” lingo for “foodies” it ranks high on the “foodporn” and “mouthgasm” scale. It possesses spicy, tangy, sweet and savory all in one sensual bite. Leonardo DaVinci was once quoted as saying “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Perhaps he had just indulged upon this very meal! Enough of the foreplay of this gastronomic adventure, let’s get to the ingredients and steps of creating this alluring pizza.

Ingredients:

500g        pizza dough

2              Persimons, thinly sliced crosswise

2 tbsp      lemon juice

1 cup       thinly sliced spicy chorizo or soy-based pepperoni

1/2 cup    shaved Manchego cheese

2 tsp        balsamic glaze

2 cups     baby arugula

1 tsp        olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425F

On a lightly oiled work surface divide dough in half.  Roll and stretch to form either rectangles or circles. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets.

Toss Persimon slices with lemon juice and arrange on dough, top with chorizo or soy-based pepperoni slices.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with shaved cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Toss arugula with oil, salt and pepper and scatter on pizzas just before serving.

Serves 4

PER SERVING (1/4 recipe or 1/2 pizza)

573 calories, 23g fat, 9g saturated fat, 46mg cholesterol, 1053mg sodium, 76g carbohydrates, 3g fibre, 12g sugars, 21g protein, %RDI: 20% calcium, 45% iron, 4% vitamin A, 60% vitamin C

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In closing, I am honored to have been selected to participate in the Persimon blogger program; not only was it the perfect kick-start to the Christmas season, but made for a very informative and taste perceptive venture.  My guests and myself, admittedly rookies, indulged in our first time making homemade pizza…scratch that one off the bucket list. The peppery arugula, once blended with the sweet Persimon, was a symphony for the taste buds, and then the music continued to play in the form of the tart balsamic, delicate cheese and spicy chorizo and soy-based pepperoni. Being a culinary writer, I am often approached as to where certain items are best prepared. Coincidentally last Saturday, I was asked which were my top 3 pizzas for 2014.  Without reflection I immediately articulated “my house!” – the “divine fruit” Persimon, with its sweet suasion invigorated in all of us the joyful art of pizza making.

Be sure to visit the Persimon website to enter to win a trip to Spain! Click here for more info – http://persimonsays.com/contest/

Links: 

Website: http://www.persimonsays.com

Twitter: @persimonsays

Hashtag: #persimonsays

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About Kimberly Toureiro @KitchenSprout

Guest blogger Kimberly Toureiro is an accomplished and accredited food writer and food enthusiast, published locally and internationally, who is passionate about all things culinary and wine related.

Raised in Newmarket, Ontario, Kimberly – better known as the Kitchen Sprout – has lived most of her life in the bustling and multi-cultural city of Toronto, having broadened her taste buds with international fare from an early age. Never having met a meal she didn’t appreciate or a bottle of wine she didn’t enjoy, Kimberly continues to explore the ever-changing world of food trends.

When not attending menu tastings or food-related events, Kimberly can be found at a local farmer’s market, selecting fresh ingredients for her next great at-home meal.

CONTEST: Enter to win a gift box from Nature’s Path!

4 Jan

Disclosure: I received a tasty box of Nature’s Path products from their fabulous team and I loved it so much that I want you to win one too : )

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Now that I’m a mom, I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I eat and what I feed my son. He’s only 7 months old and he just started eating solids but I know that in the next few years we will have a lot of choices to make, including deciding which cereals he’ll have for breakfast. A friend introduced me to Nature’s Path products a few years ago and I’ve enjoyed their cereals and waffles over the years, especially their Flax Plus Flakes and their frozen waffles (yum!). Receiving this box was great because I had the chance to try a range of Nature’s Path products and share them with my family on Christmas Eve.

The box was filled to the brim with tasty goodness and it included:

–          Love Crunch Gingerbread

–          Love Crunch Dark Chocolate

–          Sunrise Crunchy Maple Cereal

–          Whole O’s Cereal

–          Flax Plus Flakes

–          Pure Oats Fruit & Nut Granola

–          Chia Coconut Granola

–          Pumpkin Flax Granola

–          Qi’a Original

–          1 x product voucher valued at $5

I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t had a chance to try everything in the box yet. The folks at Nature’s Path were so generous that I ended up sharing the contents of the box with my whole family. Now I’ll just have to visit everyone to try it all before it’s gone! : )

CONTEST:

I’m happy to share that you too can win one of these awesome #FeelGoodHoliday boxes, packed with Nature’s Path products.

To enter:

If you’re on Twitter:

Follow me on Twitter @savvari or www.twitter.com/savvari

Follow Nature’s Path on Twitter at @naturespath or www.twitter.com/naturespath

Tweet:

I want to win a #FeelGoodHoliday box of goodies from @savvari and @naturespath – http://wp.me/p1yJez-uW #FeelGoodHoliday

Get an extra entry by leaving a comment below this post. Tell me who you would share this box of Nature’s Path goodies with! If you don’t have Twitter, this would be your method of entry.

You can enter on both Twitter and on the blog once per day each until the end of the contest.

Contest runs until Wed January 7 at 5 pm EST, so get your entries in!

Rules and Regs:

-There is one (1) Nature’s Path #FeelGoodHoliday box to be won.

-The winner will be announced by Thursday January 8 at 5 pm EST.

-The contest is open to Canadian and US residents only.

-Prize will be shipped directly to the winner. Winner’s prize will arrive within 15-20 business days from date of info received. US or Canadian shipping address must be provided.

-Total value of the box is $50

Get digital and social with Nature’s Path:

Website: http://ca-en.naturespath.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naturespath

Twitter: @NaturesPath or www.twitter.com/naturespath #FeelGoodHoliday

THE WINNER IS……Rachel Williams from Twitter! Thanks everyone for entering! 

 

 

Margherita Penne

27 Nov

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I love the Milk Calendar. I’ve been kind of obsessed with it since I was younger and I would read all of the recipes over and over again and ask my mom which ones we could try. Since we were vegetarian, there were only a few recipes we could try, so it was pretty easy to pick them out!

I was excited to get a copy of the 2015 Milk Calendar this year, even more so because I once again had the opportunity to try one of the recipes, with ingredients generously provided by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. The test recipe this time was Margherita Penne and I knew I would enjoy this dish as soon as I saw the ingredients list. Tomatoes, bocconcini, basil…..yum!

Margherita Penne

Link to the original recipe from the 2015 Milk Calendar recipe site (please note that I have not changed the original recipe, I’ve just included my own notes below) – http://www.dairygoodness.ca/recipes/margherita-penne

Course – Main Dishes

Prep. Time – 10 mins

Cooking Time – 13 mins

Yields – 4 to 6 Servings

This yummy pasta is based on the classic pizza margherita, which is topped with tomato sauce, cheese and fresh basil – sometimes the simplest things taste the best.

Sandy’s notes:

-The recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp of dried thyme but I’m not a huge fan of thyme in pasta dishes so I only added a 1/2 tsp. It was more than enough to flavor the dish nicely in my opinion. I think 1 tsp of dried oregano would be a great substitute as well.

-If you want to be able to see the bocconcini in the dish then add it in seconds before serving it, otherwise it will melt into the pasta.

-While I enjoyed this pasta hot, I enjoyed it even more after I reheated it the next day. I just needed to add a few tablespoons of water to get the sauce going again.

-See additional tips from the Dairy Farmers of Canada below the recipe.

Ingredients:

12       oz  (375 g) penne pasta

2          tbsp  (30 mL) butter

4          cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2  tsp       (7 mL) dried thyme

1/2     tsp       (2 mL) salt

1/4     tsp       (1 mL) hot pepper flakes

2          tbsp    (30 mL) all-purpose flour

2 1/2  cups    (625 mL) Milk

2          cups    (500 mL) cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2     cup      (125 mL) grated Canadian Parmesan

12       1-inch (2.5 cm) mini Canadian Bocconcini

1/2     cup      (125 mL) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Canadian Parmesan, for serving

Preparation:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for about 11 min or until al dente, or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, thyme, salt and hot pepper flakes. Cook 1 min. Sprinkle with flour; cook, whisking for 1 min. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Whisk for 3 to 5 min or until smooth and thickened. Stir in tomatoes and Parmesan.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour in sauce; toss, stirring 1 to 2 min over medium heat to coat pasta. Stir in Bocconcini, basil and salt to taste, if needed. Serve with grated Parmesan.

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Tips from the Dairy Farmers of Canada:

-Bocconcini come in different sizes, so if you need to cut the balls, the pieces should be about ¾-inch (2 cm) in size.

-Try cubes of Mozzarella instead of Bocconcini.

-Add some of your favourite pizza toppings to the sauce, such as pepperoni, olives or sun-dried tomatoes. Or use your favourite short pasta in place of penne.

To check out the rest of the recipes from the 2015 Milk Calendar, please visit – http://www.dairygoodness.ca/milk/my-milk-calendar/recipes/year/2015

 

Event Recap: Bindis and Bangles #TimeToHug

20 Nov

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I was pretty excited to be invited to attend Bindis and Bangles, a special South Asian themed baby shower hosted by my friends at Masalamommas and sponsored by Huggies Canada. The event was held at Swagat Banquet Hall and when I walked in I was touched by the amount of effort that was put in to decorate the room with South Asian flair. There was a bangle bar, a bindi bar, a candy bar and a photo booth where I got a great photo of my son and I with a funky Indian background.

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The event was hosted by national TV personality Karen Johnson and featured some terrific speakers. Nanny Robina, a leading Parenting Expert, shared her tips to help babies sleep and settle. As a new mom, one of the best tips I took away was to hold the baby close to you while doing squats, which is meant to help to settle a crying baby. I’ve tried it several times now and it’s been working like a charm!

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Rishma Malik Scott, Baby and Prenatal Yoga Instructor and Actress, conducted a prenatal/baby yoga demo and provided tips on making yoga work for anyone by sharing simple moves with the guests. She stressed the importance of being in the moment with your baby, something that seems simple in theory but difficult in practice.

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Lisa Caron, Postpartum and Birth Doula and Author spoke to moms about the importance of bonding in the first year with baby. She suggested that we take a few moments to look into our baby’s eyes every day to build a strong connection with our children. Overall, there was a strong theme that parents need to explore different ways to connect with your baby early on in the relationship. By being present and mindful, using yoga and meditation and really by just taking time to try to understand baby’s cries and cues, we could help to strengthen the bond and improve communication with our babies.

It wouldn’t have been a South Asian event without delicious food and drink. We were treated to a tasty buffet of hot snacks including vegetable and paneer pakoras, samosas, tikka and spring rolls, along with delicious chutneys.

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The fabulous folks from Lemon Lily tea gave us a chance to try their delicious teas at their tea bar. I tried their Canadian Maple and Peppermint Chai teas and I really loved them both. OMG the Canadian Maple tea….wow.

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A baby shower isn’t complete without a few games. There was a diaper changing competition where guests had to change as many diapers as possible within a time frame. The winner left with the perfect prize, a Diaper Genie.

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Each table featured a “diaper cake” center piece and the guests had to answer trivia questions to win one. Here are a few of the questions:

True or false – a baby’s weight should be double their birth weight by the time they are 6 months old. The answer = true!

What is the average cost of raising a child until their 18th birthday? $242,070

What is the average diaper changing speed for dads? 1 minute and 36 seconds for dads vs. 2 minutes and 5 seconds for moms!

Kudos to Masalamommas and Huggies Canada for hosting a fun event tailored to the South Asian community, it was clear that a lot of work was put into it. If you would like to check out more photos from the Bindis and Bangles event, please head to Huggies’ Time To Hug Facebook page at www.facebook.com/timetohug and while you’re there, upload a photo of yourself hugging someone special in your life with the hashtag #TimeToHug – for every photo uploaded to the page, Huggies will donate $1 to the South Asian Women’s Centre.

 

 

Win tickets to the VIP Preview Evening of the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

3 Nov

LogoDisclosure: I’ve received a pair of VIP Preview Evening tickets for the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo, for my own use.

The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is back in Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from Nov 20-23 and as usual it promises to be an exciting weekend of amazing food and wine. This year, the weekend will feature special appearances from Chef Lynn Crawford, Chef David Rocco and other great Canadian chefs, cheese seminars from Dairy Farmers of Canada and demos on the Food Network Canada stage, to mention a few of the many great reasons to attend the show.

I’m thrilled to share that I have TWO pairs of tickets to the VIP Preview Evening on Thursday November 20, 2014 to give away to the readers of Milk & Eggs and my friends on Twitter.

Here’s how you can enter:

1) Follow me on Twitter at @savvari

2) Retweet one of my tweets about the contest. One entry per person.

3) If you don’t use Twitter or wish to get an extra entry, leave a comment below this blog post and tell me why you want to go to the VIP Preview Evening. Please be sure to leave your Twitter handle, email address or Facebook page name in your post so I can reach you if you win. One entry per person.

The contest closes on Thursday November 13 at 12 noon EST. The winners will be chosen at random and will be announced on Thursday November 13, after the draw takes place, via my Twitter account @savvari

Each ticket is valued at $45 ($90 value for each of the two pairs).

Note: You can only win one pair of tickets.

Good luck and I hope to see you at the VIP Preview Evening!

Learn more about the upcoming Gourmet Food & Wine Expo:

Website: http://www.foodandwineexpo.ca/

Twitter: @GFWE Hashtag: #GFWE

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gourmetfoodandwine

Invitation: Bindis and Bangles – an event for new South Asian moms

23 Oct

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As a new mom and a member of Masalamommas, a community and online magazine for moms in South Asian families, I would like to invite the readers of Milk & Eggs to ‘Bindis and Bangles, A South Asian Baby Shower’ – an event for expecting moms and new moms (those with babies 6 months or younger). This event has been organized by Masalamommas and is being presented by Huggies.

Event info:

Date: Sunday November 16, 2014

Time: 11 am to 2 pm

Location: Swagat Banquet Hall, 6991 Millcreek Drive, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Lineup:

  • National on-air personality and host Karen Johnson
  • Baby & prenatal yoga instructor and actress RIshma Malik
  • Parenting expert Nanny Robina
  • Canadian Doula, Lisa Caron

Hashtag: #TimetoHug

To RSVP, please go to: http://bit.ly/1wuLdxR – This is a free event, however tickets are first come, first served.

The event promises to be a lot of fun, so I hope to see you there! Scroll down below for more information on the host and speakers for Bindis and Bangles.

Karen Johnson: Host for the Bindis and Bangles event

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Karen’s warm personality and introspective nature has helped her navigate a notoriously difficult industry to break into. After graduating from Humber College’s broadcast journalism program, The Shopping Channel gave Karen her first opportunity to showcase and hone her on-air skills. Karen’s enthusiasm and professionalism led to a reporting position for Omni’s news division, from there the station created a new entertainment show “Bollywood Blvd” featuring Karen as the host.

Karen then landed the Station’s premiere cooking show, The Veggie Table. The show gave her an unexpected opportunity to hone her skills in the kitchen, which blossomed into a full-blown love of cooking and into her spinoff cooking show currently in production, The South Asian Tasting Table.

The Veggie Table has aired nationally and internationally for over 13 years and continues to air in around the world in syndication. Karen is a sought after media personality, reporter, producer, news writer, speaker and emcee. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Karen’s notable career in front of and behind the camera began in 1993 and she has been an avid face in the media since. While Karen spent the bulk of her career as the face of Canada’s The Weather Network, Karen recently served as the on-call weather anchor for Canada’s most watched morning news show Canada AM.

Nanny Robina: Parenting expert will give moms sleep tips and more for newborn babies

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Nanny Robina is one of North America’s leading parenting experts. Born in Birmingham England, to a British mother and a Pakistani father, Nanny Robina was the seventh of nine children. She was raised with a solid foundation to respect all faiths and cultures and grew up in a very strict and disciplined family environment.

Her genuine love of children and international travel has shaped her solution-based expertise, helping parents with hot button issues like discipline, manners, playtime, mealtime, and sleep time. In fact, she has a 95% success rate with her strategy for putting babies to sleep–a skill that is in demand everywhere. But it is her mission to raise happy, healthy, and secure children that attracts parents to her parenting workshops, one-on-one consultations, speaking engagements, blogging and writing.

Equipped with several professional certificates: NNEB (National Nursery Examination Board) in 1982 from Garretts Green Technical College; MNT (Maternity and Nanny Training) for infant care in 1985 from South Birmingham College Hall Green; and Business for Women Entrepreneurs in 2003 from the Aurora Women’s Centre, Robina put her childcare passions to work.

A self-proclaimed “open book,” Nanny Robina’s expertise is honest, raw, and guided by her personal philosophy to “enjoy parenting, but stay true to yourself as a parent.” Whether a child is feeling isolated because of a new sibling, or a parent is overwhelmed, Nanny Robina offers advice that is appreciated and recognized by all who enlist her help. Currently Nanny Robina is the resident parenting expert for Canada’s #1 talk show Cityline (CityTV) and several magazines including Parents Canada, Chloe, and Edmonton Parent Child magazine. She is the go-to expert for Entertainment Tonight, NBC, City TV, Breakfast Television, The National Post, CHCH morning live, Save Us From Our House! and Till Debt Do Us Part.

Rishma Malik: Yoga instructor will do a prenatal/baby yoga demo for moms and provide tips on making yoga work for you.

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Inspired by a deep sense of purpose and passion for sharing yoga’s unifying, balancing, and transformational power, Rishma strives to share her firsthand knowledge and experience in the ancient philosophy of yoga together with modern cognitive psychology and Buddhism to provide students and clients with concrete mental, physical and spiritual tools for manifesting healthier lives and living their personal best.  Her classes are uplifting, engaging and energizing yet grounded in the calm soothing power of release and mindfulness.  Rishma Malik is a senior-level yoga instructor registered with the Yoga Alliance.

She is trained in the Himalayan Yoga tradition and received her formal 1000-hour Yoga Master certification at Sananda Devi Yoga in 2004.  She is also a registered kids yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance and holds 200-hour certification in kids yoga (E-RYCT), followed by yoga therapy and pre-natal certifications under the direction of many accomplished yoga teachers.  Rishma is also a professional actor, producer, singer, former Miss India-Canada and on-air journalist. She completed her BA in philosophy and communication studies at York University. Rishma also received extensive training in acting, movement and voice in NYC and Toronto for over 20 years and draws upon her in-depth knowledge of the body and mind in relation to the voice, self-confidence, mindfulness, openness and the 7 energy centers (Chakras). She knows what it’s like to be highly scheduled and understands the demands that come with juggling work, goals, family, aging parents and appointments.

Rishma is known for her specificity and innovation in constructing programs for healing for actors, producers, CEO’s, corporations, film sets, working parents, kids with special needs, kids with confidence issues, ADHD and autism. Rishma teaches Vinyasa Flow, Classical Hatha, Meditation, Kids Yoga, Yoga Therapy for Rehab and Chakra Yoga.

She is a senior level Yoga Alliance teacher (E-RYT & E-RCYT) and Reiki-Master and teaches hundreds of yoga classes a year locally and globally through Skype soul coaching and yoga programs for clients from England, Europe, India, and South America while juggling her professional career in the media arts. Rishma has been the lead yoga instructor for many yoga studios including ‘Soul Spa’ in Thornhill as well as the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto and has since built a bustling private practice.

Lisa Caron: Postpartum and birth doula and author will talk to moms about the importance of bonding in the first year with baby

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Lisa is the co-author of two books, Bearing Witness (2010) and Joyful Birth (2012). She has volunteered with St. Michael’s Hospital, Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, with pregnant teens living in a maternity home, in Guatemala and Mexico and has worked for INFACTCanada.ca.

To RSVP, please go to: http://bit.ly/1wuLdxR – This is a free event, however tickets are first come, first served.

See you there!

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Fab finds at Grocery Innovations Canada 2014

3 Oct

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A few days ago I had the opportunity to attend Grocery Innovations Canada, an industry conference and trade show hosted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. I love to learn about new products and I’m also obsessed with food packaging, so I look forward to this show every year. I should explain that grocery shopping is a huge passion of mine. One of my favourite post-work activities is wandering the aisles of grocery stores (yes, I’m serious). Even when I’m on vacation, I seek out local and chain grocery stores, just to check out their products. So when I got to the show, it was one of those scenarios where I walked in and I was so excited to be there that I didn’t know where to start : )

Warning – this is going to be a LONG post. Not long in words but long because of the number of products I’ll be talking about. Note: Some of the products pictured below aren’t new but the brands were showing them again as a reminder to retailers and media that they are available. Here we go….

For those who follow a gluten-free diet, there’s a gluten-free version of Cream of Rice in market. I didn’t get to sample it but I thought I would share this info for those who enjoy the product. Learn more here: http://www.creamofwheat.com/products/cream-of-rice/

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I love mushroom risotto and I’ve made it at home several times. It’s an easy dish to make but it’s just very time-consuming so I was happy to find out about In Cuisin’s Mushroom Risotto. I’ve seen it in the freezer section many times (often on sale) but I had never tried it. I had a hot sample of the risotto and it was delicious! There was an assortment of mushrooms in it and the rice was just the right texture. In my opinion, for a frozen dish it was as close to restaurant style as you could get. I’ll definitely be picking this up to keep in the freezer for a last-minute lunch or dinner. Learn more here: http://infoodsinc.com/en/products/in-cuisin-risotto/mushroom-risotto/

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Coffee + coconut water? Yes, it’s true. The fine folks at Vita Coco have combined coconut water with espresso and a splash of milk to create a mighty tasty drink. I was surprised by how good it was (Apologies for the poor photo!). Vita Coco was also showing their flavoured coconut waters – I enjoyed the mango and pineapple flavours the most. Learn more here: http://vitacoco.com/products/vita-coco-cafe/#cococafe
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Robin Hood showed some quick bread mixes with flavours including banana bread and lemon poppy seed bread. This looks like a great idea for those who wish to make quick breads at home without the effort of scratch baking. While they weren’t giving out samples of the baked breads to try, I did receive a coupon to try the product. I’m a huge fan of Robin Hood flour, it’s the only brand I’ll buy, so I’m sure this product meets the same standards. Learn more here: http://www.robinhood.ca/Products/Mixes

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Another packaged baking product I wanted to mention are Duncan Hines Strawberry Flavoured Cupcakes, this product comes with cream cheese icing and a piping bag. I’m very big on baking from scratch but I have to say that the cupcakes I sampled were quite tasty and weren’t too sweet. Definitely a good option for some easy home baking. http://www.duncanhines.ca/products/cupcakes/strawberry-flavoured-cupcakes/

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Rotkappchen De-alcoholized Sparkling Wine….wow, I loved the taste and I thought the packaging looked quite nice as well. It’s a great option for those who wish to have a non-alcoholic beverage but don’t want to feel like they are missing out on anything. Learn more here: http://www.therealbubbly.com/products.html

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I wanted something spicy after having the cupcakes and sparkling wine so I was so happy to spot No. 7 Hot Sauce’s display. They have a range of flavourful sauces with different levels of spice, so there was really something for everyone.  The best part, they are from Toronto! Learn more here: http://no7hotsauce.com

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This was big news for me….I love the Moroccan 9 Vegetable Soup that I can buy hot and ready at Loblaws and Longo’s. I found out that the supplier was Campbell’s and I was thinking of asking them to sell the soup in cans and voila…my wish was granted when I visited their display at the show! I bought a can of the soup after the show and I’m having it right now. While it is close to their Campbell’s FoodService version, it isn’t 100% the same. I’ll still keep a can or two in my cupboard to squash the cravings as needed though. Learn more here: http://www.campbellsoup.ca/en-ca/products/everyday-gourmet/campbells-everyday-gourmet-moroccan-spiced-eight-vegetable-chickpea

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Next up, Supereats Kale + Chia Chips. I enjoyed these, they were tasty, nice and crunchy and left me feeling satisfied. I’m look for these at my local health food store. Learn more here: http://www.supereats.com

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Another tasty chip, Luke’s Organic Protein Chips with blue corn and red lentils. Also really tasty, especially considering the fact that they are “healthy” chips. Another one to look out for in health food stores. Learn more here: http://www.lukesorganic.com

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Mmmm Wonderful Pistachios! These aren’t new but I love their variations on the humble little pistachio. I tried their Sweet Chili pistachios for the first time and I was kicking myself for not trying them earlier, they were so good! I also loved the salt and pepper flavour, it’s simple but oh so tasty. Can we just talk about their cute packaging for a minute? It’s eye-catching and very fresh. Go get some, now. Learn more here: http://getsnackin.ca

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I’m looking forward to trying the Blueapple, a product that was made to help keep fruits and vegetables fresher for longer in the fridge. Learn more here: http://www.thebluapple.com/how-it-works

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These aren’t new but I thought I would share since there is a huge slow cooker movement right now. These liners make cleanup easy, you just line the cooker, make your dish and then just pull the liner out and toss it after. Learn more here: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/products/slow-cooker-liners/

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KitchenAid was showing their new Produce Preserver, designed to help keep produce fresher for longer. I received a sample of this so I’m really looking forward to testing it out. Stay tuned! Learn more here: http://www.kitchenaid.ca/en_CA/shop/-%5BP1KG6S1B%5D-2104325/P1KG6S1B/

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Maple water. It was the first time I had heard of it and apparently it’s the next big thing. Surprisingly it contains protein, prebiotics and antioxidants and you know what, it tasted pretty good. Not too sweet, just a fresh clean taste. Bonus points, the company is Canadian! Learn more here: http://www.eauderableseva.com/en/

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Huge news…Tassimo and McDonald’s have partnered up to create McCafe t-discs for Tassimo machines. I adore my Tassimo machine and I can’t wait to try the McCafe discs. Learn more here: https://www.tassimo.ca/en/beverages/mccafe/

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Greek yogurt with chia mixed in from Olympic Dairy (they’re Canadian!). A great option for vegetarians who want to add more protein in their diets. Learn more here: http://www.olympicdairy.com/index.php

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Two more great products from Sol Cuisine – the first one is their Tangy Korean BBQ Meatless Chicken. I liked the flavours and the texture of the meatless chicken was great. Their Veggie Breakfast Sausages were great too, they would be perfect in a breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and tomato. (my favourite sandwich combo). I’ll definitely pick up both of these next time I’m at the grocery store. Learn more here: http://solcuisine.com/canadian-retail

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I loved these Korean filled pancakes (called Hotteok) from Arumi. I tried both the Hotteok Red Bean and Hotteok Brown Sugar, both were really tasty. The rep said these products are available at major Korean grocery stores in the Toronto area. The company doesn’t appear to have a website with these products on it…

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A few side items…Coca-Cola brought their “Share A Coke” machines to the show and I was able to finally get some cans made with my (full) name and my husband’s names on them. So cool! Learn more here: http://www.shareacoke.ca

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Lastly, not a product but a really cute giveaway at the show from McCain Foods. They were focusing on their frozen potato products so they handed out potato shaped stress balls. I just had to share : )

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The show was quite big, big enough that I’m sure that I missed some good finds. Luckily fellow blogger Vicky Weiss  attended as well, so please check out her blog to find out which products she loved at GIC at www.momwhoruns.com

Have you tried any of the above products? Are there any that you’re excited about?

 

 

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