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Drinking More Water – it’s all about baby steps!

20 May

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This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and the Nestlé Pure Life #RethinkYourDrink sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

Although my son is almost 2 years old now, I still consider myself to be a new mom….yes, that’s right I still feel “new” and I don’t think I’ll ever feel like the expert some people assume I am by now. Once my maternity leave ended, I joined the ranks of many others before me and found myself with two jobs  –  my day job and my all day/all night job as Mom of cutie pie Baby R. On top of still feeling “new,” my husband and I soon found our lives turning into a bit of a chaotic mess, involving a lot of scheduling, wrangling (I can’t believe how strong my son is!) and the sprint that is dinner/bath/bedtime every night.

In doing our best to take care of Baby R., we forgot about taking care of ourselves. Fast food and desserts washed down by wine and pop became the norm, all quick ways to treat ourselves either during the workday or after work and we both knew that these bad habits would catch up with us quickly. To top it all off, I found myself going back to my old bad habit of not drinking enough water. I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t be able to get rid of the bad stuff easily and that I would have to take baby steps to get healthier. Over the past few months, we’ve taken steps at home to reduce our fast food consumption and I’ve been trying to increase my water intake.

It was going okay but I knew I could do better, so Nestlé’s invitation to join their “Wellness Week Challenge” featuring Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Water couldn’t have come at a better time. For 7 days, they challenged me to “rethink my drink”with one of their Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling products (each containing 0 calories and 0 sugar) in an effort to show everyone how easy it is to get more water into their diets. They sent me a beautiful tote bag with a few of their sparkling water products to get rolling, making it very easy for me to say yes (that’s right, that’s one less trip to the grocery store with a toddler, SCORE!).

I received three products in my kit – one bottle each of their Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Original and Lemon flavours and a case of 12 cans of their Raspberry-Lime flavoured sparkling water. In the fridge at home and work they went….

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For the next 7 days, I tried each of the beverages straight up and in my favourite, sparkling drink recipes (see below), replacing my lunch or dinner beverage with sparkling water. My favourite flavour overall was the lemon one,  I found the flavour to be clean and light enough that it wasn’t overpowering. While I was pregnant, I reduced the amount of sugary beverages I was consuming as I knew they would be terrible for Baby R., and for my health. The drink recipes below certainly came in handy for those days when I wanted to have something a little different. They were perfect for this challenge as they both dress up sparkling water quite nicely.

Sugarless Mock Mojito

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One of my favourite non-alcoholic beverages….simple and delicious.

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 lime

2 springs of mint (washed)

1 bottle of Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Original, chilled

1 tall glass

Ice (if desired, I didn’t use any)

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half into your glass. Tear the mint leaves from one sprig of mint and put them into the glass along with the lime juice. Use a spoon to mash the mint leaves into the lime juice.  Add some ice at this point if you would like some, and then top your drink off with some chilled Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Original. Drop in the sprig of mint, garnish your glass with a slice of lime and enjoy!

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Sugarless Nimbu Pani

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Nimbu pani is a thirst quenching Indian drink that my family introduced me to on my last trip to India.

Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients:

1 lime

1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt or rock salt (if you want a more pronounced salty taste, use ¼ teaspoon or more to taste)

1 bottle of Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Lemon or Original, chilled

1 tall glass

Ice (if desired, I didn’t use any)

Pour the 1/8 teaspoon of salt in the glass. Cut the lime in half and the juice from half of a lime into the glass. Mix well. Add some ice at this point if you would like some. Top your drink off with some chilled Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Original. Garnish your glass with a slice of lime and enjoy!

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Taking the challenge forced me to drink more water and I’m so glad it did. Habit change is so much easier to achieve by setting smaller daily goals and adding one more glass of water a day was an easy change to make. I’ve now upped that amount and I’ve added 2 additional glasses of water per day and I find myself feeling less hungry and sluggish which is fantastic. Taking Nestlé’s challenge reminded me that healthy hydration is key to keeping my mind alert and body functioning at its best and it’s as simple as adding more water to my diet. As my son gets taller, faster and stronger I will need to be on my game even more than ever as I try to stop each and every impending disaster!

Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling is available in a variety of tasty formats and flavours including:

  • Recyclable 1L bottles in Lemon, Lime, Mandarin Orange, Black Cherry and Original.
  • 355 ml cans in three flavours – Lemon-Lime, Raspberry-Lime and Mango- Peach-Pineapple

If you end up taking the challenge, be sure to let me know and share your wisdom about sparkling water using hashtag #RethinkYourDrink – good luck!

Want the easiest challenge you’ll ever take and maybe win a trip in the process?

It’s time to Rethink Your Drink! Register online at Sparkling7DayChallenge.ca and pledge to switch out one of your regular drink choices for a Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling water once a day for seven days.

 Not only will you receive a coupon to save $3 off a case of Nestlé Pure Life Sparkling Water, six Canadians will have the chance to win a luxurious weekend away in Toronto.

It’s time to add some sparkle to your life. Register now.

 

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Stuffing Our Faces with St-Hubert’s Poutine Bites

21 Dec

Disclosure:  This post has been sponsored by Group St-Hubert, Retail Division and I’ve been compensated with product and pay. As always, I only write about what I actually like. I think you’ll like this product too!    

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Poutine is one of my favourite dishes, yes, that’s right I said poutine. You’re probably wondering why or how that could be since it has gravy in it…well, there are a few wonderful Canadian poutine hawkers who make delicious vegetarian gravy, including a food truck in the Toronto area. I consider myself to be a vegetarian poutine aficionado so I was thrilled to be invited to try a new product from St-Hubert, Poutine Bites. The taste of poutine, made at home and all in one bite? This I had to try.

I received two boxes of the product and I couldn’t wait to try them out. On my first attempt at baking the Poutine Bites I ended up overcooking them as I thought the longer I put them in, the crunchier they would be. Sadly, after over 10 minutes in the oven the Poutine Balls started to pop on me, oozing out their precious filling! It didn’t matter because they were still so tasty. My second attempt at baking them was far more successful as I left them in the oven for the recommended 8 minutes and they were perfect. Crunchy potato balls filled with oozing St-Hubert gravy, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, all in one bite. My parents were visiting, so my husband and I joined them in polishing off both boxes. I should note that the box looks small and so do the bites when you open up the packaging. What’s inside is flavourful and rich, so after just a few Poutine Bites I actually started to feel full. They are definitely easy to eat, I couldn’t stop after having just one : )

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The folks at St-Hubert say that Poutine Bites are perfect for “Appy Hour” or Appetizer Hour. With a toddler at home, we haven’t been having many “soirees” in our house lately so our version of “Appy Hour” usually takes place right after work when we want a snack before dinner. Right now since it’s almost Christmas, snacks that keep us going while we wrap Christmas presents are key and these hit the spot. We aren’t big drinkers so the Poutine Bites were perfect with a glass of sparkling water or sparkling water plus juice for flavour.

Great job St-Hubert, looking forward to seeing what else you’ll come up with next!

Learn more about St-Hubert’s Poutine Bites here: http://bit.ly/1U1fNZn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

17 Nov

 

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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.

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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.

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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 : )

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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!

Turning Frozen Fruit Into Healthy Desserts with Yonanas

1 Sep

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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.

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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 http://yonanas.com/ 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!

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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

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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

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!

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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).

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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!

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To learn more about Strauss WaterBars, head to:

Website: http://www.strauss-water.ca

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StraussWaterCA

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*)!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

Website: http://www.strauss-water.ca

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StraussWaterCA

Hashtag: #StraussWaterBar

 

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

20 Dec
Catelli Gluten Free Fusilli

Catelli Gluten Free Fusilli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTEST:

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

TO ENTER:

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

OR

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

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

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

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

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

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Congrats to Fiona Thom for winning this contest!

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

31 Oct

Ancho Chocolate Chili with Dill & Green Bean Salada

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

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

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

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

The recipe, all wrapped up in a bag

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

The ingredients

Here we go….

Ancho Chocolate Chili with Dill & Green Bean Salad

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

Ingredients:

1/2 can pinto or romano beans

1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp chopped garlic (2-3 cloves)

1/2 c sliced red onion

1/2 c sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup of canned corn (drained)

1/2 c zucchini

Swiss chard

1 can diced tomatoes

Green beans

Dill

Shallot

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Olive oil

1 cup of rice

Directions:

Step 1:

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

Fresh veggies

Step 2:

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

Spices

Step 3:

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

Fluffy rice!

Step 4:

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

Ancho Chocolate Chili

Step 5:

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

Dressing for the Dill & Green Bean Salad

Step 6:

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

The verdict:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: IÖGO 0% yogurt with stevia extract

29 Sep

Iogo stevia - all flavours 2

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

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

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

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

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

The verdict…

Iogo vanilla 2

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

Iogo raspberry 1

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

Iogo blueberry 1

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

Iogo mango passion 1

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

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

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

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

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