Fusing Flavours with Canola

_JCH2561I had the pleasure of taking part in a great interactive workshop last week in Toronto. I love cooking and love knowing where my food comes from so I couldn’t refuse this invitation. The workshop organized by Canola Eat Well, gave us the opportunity to cook with one of Toronto’s top chefs, Dailo‘s Chef Nick Liu. He taught us how to make some of his famous wontons, which were inspired by his grand-ma’s recipe. It was great to get some of his cooking tips and also get him to show us the steps of the recipe.

_JCH2356_JCH2555_JCH2637_JCH2685We also learned a whole lot about cooking with canola oil. Some of the Canadian farmers that produce canola were present to teach us about how they harvest the seed, how to differentiate good from bad seeds, etc. It was great to get their perspective and find out exactly what the process behind making canola oil is all about.

_JCH2970_JCH2977_JCH3002_JCH3003I truly believe in the importance of knowing where our food comes from and educating ourselves on what we eat. Talking to the farmers themselves taught me a lot about the product and got me excited to try cooking with canola oil at home.

_JCH2227_JCH3148_JCH3123_JCH3218We finished off the evening with a great and important discussion about educating the new generation of kids on food and ingredients. I always try to share any knowledge that I have learned about food, eating healthy and buying local as much as possible so it was great to be surrounded by a room full of like-minded individuals.

_JCH3257_JCH3345For more information on Canola Eat Well, please go here.

All photos by: Jeffrey Chan

Taste of Toronto

10321591_554927434676762_5852993278947369256_oOne of my favorite food events in Toronto is coming up in just a few weeks. The annual Taste of Toronto will be taking place at the Garrison Common at Fort York from June 23rd-26th 2016.

There are many amazing chefs taking part in this year’s festivities including fan-favorite Chuck Hughes and local chefs Michael Hunter from Antler Kitchen & Bar, Ted Corrado from The Drake, Victor Barry from Piano Piano and Rob Bragagnolo from Carver, just to name a few.

Chris Kalisperas_MamakasChris Kalisperas, the chef at Toronto’s finest greek restaurant Mamakas Taverna will also be showcasing some of his cuisine later this month. He shared what it means to him to be a part of the event this year.

We are thrilled to be included in a world-class event alongside some of Toronto’s most accomplished chefs and coveted restaurants. Taste of Toronto is the perfect place for us to showcase our modern approach to classic Aegean Cuisine,” says Chef Kalisperas.

As for how this showcase differs from other events, the chef explains that “Taste of Toronto brings a high level of professional culinary execution to the food festival scene. They are able to secure a diversity of the best restaurants and vendors the city has to offer, in it’s ever-booming landscape.”

People in attendance will be able to taste some of the chef’s amazing dishes. “We are planning on offering a small sample of our authentic Greek menu from mezze to dessert: this includes our potato feta croquettse, lamb kontosouvli and finally baklava soft serve ice cream. Our hope is to invite guests to experience a small window into our Ossington Taverna.

As for the current food scene in Toronto, Chef Kalisperas had nothing but great things to say about The 6 “Toronto is a great hub for multicultural cuisine whereby chefs are able to create menus that represent and reflect their heritage. We offer a high level of consistency in food execution,” he concludes.

For more information on the Taste of Toronto and to obtain tickets, go here.

Baklava Bites

FullSizeRender(4)I love making healthy homemade post-workout snacks. They are the pefect thing to eat in the morning after an intense sweat session. There are so many varieties of bites you can easily make at home with ingredients from you pantry.

I was excited to make Baklava Bites with fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ for the very first time this week. I love Greece and love their food. I’m a big fan of baklava so I figured I would give this recipe a shot.

What I like about the recipe is that in includes a scoop of the fermented proteins from Genuine Health. Not only are the bites yummy, but they are also healthy and contain a lot of protein (25 grams of fully fermented protein to be exact), which is key for someone that leads an active lifestyle.

Since I don’t use many milk products, it is important to me that the milk used in the new fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ is sourced from clean, grass-fed California dairy farms that are committed to ethical and sustainable practices. Moreover, the product is Non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free as well as hormone and antibiotic-free.

FullSizeRenderHere’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

1 scoop of fermented Greek yogurt proteins+
3 cups of organic walnuts, ground
2 tsp of cinnamon
2 tbsp of ground flax seed
2 tbsp of vegan or grass-fed organic butter (melted)
2 tbsp of organic honey
2 tbsp of water
1/2 cup of organic lemon, juiced

For the “phyllo” almond coating:

1 cup of ground organic almonds
1 tbsp of vegan or grass-fed organic butter (melted)
 A dash of cinnamon

FullSizeRender(1)1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and combine thoroughly.

2. Add in softened butter and remaining wet ingredients. Mix well until a sticky dough consistency is reached.

3. Roll into bite-size balls.

FullSizeRender(2)4. Create “phyllo” almond coating by roasting ground almonds with butter in a frying pan until golden brown. Make sure you stir often to avoid burning. Add a dash of cinnamon.

5. Roll each bite into the “phyllo” almond coating.

6. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before serving.

FullSizeRender(3)For more info on this product and retail locations, visit www.genuinehealth.com.

This post was written in collaboration with Genuine Health but all opinions are my own.

OPA! Fermented Greek Yogurt Proteins+

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For a while I had been looking for good post-workout protein supplements but never found a product that I liked until I discovered Genuine Health. For the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to try a handful of their products and their latest innovation, the fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ has become of my favourites.

People take protein supplements for a variety of reasons. It can help support the immune system, facilitate physical performance, promote lean muscles, balance blood sugar and reduce sugar cravings, amongst other things. I wanted to make sure that with all the working out I’ve been doing and with my vegetarian diet, that I was giving my body the amount of proteins it really needs.

That said, I also recently learned that too much protein is not necessarily the answer either. Just because you are consuming 25 grams of protein in supplements does not mean that your body is absorbing all of it. It is all about the state of your gut and how effectively the protein can be digested and absorbed by your body. This is why Genuine Health has released its brand new fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ supplement.

The reason why fermentation is so important is because it helps amplify the nutritional profile in foods so they become more potent and bioavailable. Fermentation is what unlocks critical amino acids for optimal absorption, providing overall digestive health and healthy gut bacteria that can help with digestion and also support the immune system.

This form of protein also feeds the good bacteria that is necessary for good gut ecology. I also learned that your gut is often referred to as your “second brain” because it can help make neurotransmitters that is important for mental health and well being. In addition, good digestion also equals better energy.

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The milk that is used in the new fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ is sourced from clean, grass-fed California dairy farms that are committed to ethical and sustainable practices. Additionally, artisanal techniques are used to ensure that optimal fermentation is achieved. Moreover, the product is Non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free as well as hormone and antibiotic-free. Another benefit of this protein supplement is that it has 6x the calcium of whey protein. It does not produce any acid whey and therefore the product is environmentally friendly.

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The fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ comes in two formats, protein powder or bars. The protein powder provides 25 grams of fully fermented protein and comes in vanilla or plain & unsweetened flavours. The protein bars provide 15 grams of protein and come in either cinnamon pecan or cherry almond vanilla flavours.

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I have been using the powder post-workout in either plain water or with cashew milk. It is also a good way to beat your mid-afternoon slump. By adding half a scoop into your water as a snack, you can stop your sugar and coffee cravings. Additionally, proteins will keep you full longer as they take 3-5 hrs to digest.

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The bars are perfect for on-the-go either when I travel or in the morning, I just put one in my bag for after my workout or even as a snack during the day.

I’ll be posting a new recipe using the fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ powder in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

For more info on this product and retail locations, visit www.genuinehealth.com.

This post was written in collaboration with Genuine Health but all opinions are my own.

5 New Restaurants to Check Out in Toronto This Spring

 pic34With spring being in full swing, there’s no better time to explore Toronto’s hot new restaurants. Because there are always so many to choose from, Expedia.ca asked me to compile my top 5 restaurant recommendations for the season.

These are restaurants that are not only new and exciting but that also offer a great selection of vegetarian dishes. Having been vegetarian for over 13 years, I am always on the lookout for great meatless offerings around the city. Luckily, Toronto is very vegetarian-friendly so it is not hard to find some great dishes for those wanting to pass on the meat. These restaurants will be the perfect addition to your list of must-try dining options in Toronto.

My first recommendation is Antler Kitchen & Bar. This “forest to table” restaurant located in Little Portugal opened up right before the end of 2015. Head Chef and co-owner Michael Hunter’s hotspot focuses on game and foraged goods.  The menu is rustic and though offers plenty of meaty selections, also proposes a handful of hearty vegetarian plates such as his signature Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin, Sweet Potato Gyoza and the Spring Onion and Potato Gnocchi. The exposed brick and wood, the mounted antlers and buck skull (that the head chef hunted himself) as well as a series of Hunter’s framed photos of morels and log piles, give the restaurant the ultimate forest vibe.

pic1pic3pic4pic2pic6pic5picpic8pic9pic10Athlete’s Kitchen is a small grab and go counter located in Liberty Village that opened up in January. Prior to opening up the shop, founder Oscar Naziri was offering meal delivery services in the GTA. Both their in-store and online menu offer a variety of pure and natural foods that are balanced perfectly and that offer all the nutrients one might need. Naziri started serving vegan meals a few months ago such as the Essential Healthy Vegan and the Lean Machine. They also offer pre and post-workout vegan, paleo and gluten-free treats, smoothies, acai bowls and more.

pic11pic12pic14pic16pic17pic18Located across the AGO, Provo FoodBar is the newest restaurant to open up in the area. Owned by John LaGamba, this eatery draws inspiration from French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. All the dishes found on the menu pack a lot of flavour and are perfect for sharing. Vegetarians will find lot’s to try such as the Beet & Pear Tatin, Arancini (as pictured at the top of the article), the Mushroom & Artichoke Crostini, the Winter Garden Salad and more. Make sure you also taste their delicious drinks and desserts.

pic26pic28pic27pic32pic31pic33pic35El Arepazo is a small spot in Kensington Market that is dedicated to the Venezuelan arepa – the round, gluten-free cornbread sandwich that is stuffed with all sorts of amazing vegetables, cheeses, salsas and more. This unique restaurant serves up recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation and that incorporate locally sourced and fresh products.  Some must-try vegetarian dishes are the Tostones, Yuca, Veggie That Works Arepa and their Chicha drink. Everything on the menu will leave you craving for more.

pic20pic21pic24pic22pic23pic25There is a lot of talk around the city about Ufficio, the new Italian joint located in Little Portugal. What sets them apart from other Italian restaurants is that they only offer a pescatarian and vegetarian menu. Their menu features local and sustainable ingredients. The place itself is beautifully designed and is the perfect balance between casual and high-end dining. Some vegetarian highlights include the Ontario Burrata, Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia, Gnocchi Pomodoro and the Cavolfiore Arrosto.

pic36pic37pic39pic42pic43pic44This post was written in collaboration with Expedia.ca but all restaurant choices are my own.

Riviera Petit Pot Recipe

FullSizeRender(2)I recently discovered these lovely Petit Pot yogourts from Riviera. Being a fan of goat cheese and goat feta, I was curious to try goat yogourt for the very first time.

I love having a yogourt as a snack, for breakfast with fruit and granola or as a post-workout treat. What I like about these yogourts is that they come in reusable glass containers, they are made from all-natural ingredients, they are produced artisanally and are made locally in Canada. I also like the fact that Riviera draws influence from France and the French culture for their products.

In addition to these goat yogourts, Riviera also recently came out with a line of organic regular milk yogourts and offer a variety of cheddar cheeses, rustic butters, milks, creams and so on.

FullSizeRender(7)I love making recipes when trying out a new product so I used these yogourts to make my favorite chocolate chip banana bread recipe. Did you know that putting yogourt in your breads or muffins can add a lot of moisture?

What you’ll need:

3 very ripe frozen organic bananas
1/4 cup of honey
1 1/4 cup of Riviera’s Petit Pot Goat Yogourt Vanilla
2 tsp of coconut oil
1 1/2 cups of flour (I used organic spelt flour)
2 tsp of baking soda
3/4 cup of organic chocolate chips
1/2 tsp of salt

FullSizeRender(3)Pre-heat the oven at 350 F. Lightly grease a 4-inch x 8-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the honey, yogourt and coconut oil. Mix with a spoon to combine. Gently fold the flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips into the banana mixture until combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.

FullSizeRender(4)FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(6)For more information on Riviera’s Petit Pot, go here.

Greens + EXTRA ENERGY Smoothie

FullSizeRenderI recently discovered Genuine Health‘s product called Greens + EXTRA ENERGY. In a very short period of time, it has become an important part of my daily nutrition routine.

For a while, I had been looking for an extra source of energy but had never found a product that would not only be good for my energy and vitality but that would also be clean. In addition to giving me that extra kick, the Greens + EXTRA ENERGY also contains superfoods and helps with digestion, balancing pH levels, etc. Another reason why I like this green food powder is because it is cafeine and sugar-free plus it is Non-GMO. Being a no-coffee kind of gal, this powder has provided me with that extra boost of energy I need pre/post-workout and after a short night of sleep.

Some of the amazing things you can find in the Greens + EXTRA ENERGY are: Spirulina (most nutrient-rich of any blue-green algae, a superfood and great source of beta-carotene), Royal jelly (supports immune functions and increase energy), Siberian ginseng root extract (anti-fatigue and anti-stress herb), Japanese green tea leaf extract (assists digestion and the proliferation of “friendly bacteria” in the intestine), Chlorella (source of protein, vitamins and minerals, helps detoxify the body), just to name a few.

I have been taking Greens + EXTRA ENERGY for two months now and have felt a huge difference in my energy levels. I feel a lot more focused and also feel a lot more awake in the morning and throughout the day.

The product comes in 2 flavours: orange and mocha. Every morning, I either make a cold-pressed juice (orange, grapefruit and ginger is my favorite combination) and add a scoop of orange Greens + in it or put a scoop of mocha Greens + in some organic almond milk. I’ve also started making smoothies after my runs and workouts using the green powder and wanted to share with today you my go-to recipe.

1What you’ll need:

2 frozen organic bananas
1-2 spoonfuls of all-natural organic peanut butter
4 organic pitted dates
1 spoonful of ground chia seeds
1 scoop of Greens + EXTRA ENERGY
1 cup of organic almond milk

Throw all of the ingredients in a blender for a few minutes and top the drink off with some organic coconut chips (if you like!). It’s my favorite healthy and energizing post-workout treat!

FullSizeRender(1)There are lot’s of other ways you can incorporate the product in recipes, juices and smoothies. For more information on Genuine Health’s Greens+ EXTRA ENERGY, go here.

Chef’s Plate

IMG_6421I love cooking and I love food. Cooking is very meditative for me. It’s one of the only times during the day that I am not in front of a screen and that I devote 100% of my attention to. Cooking also clears my mind and is super relaxing.

That said, having a busy schedule and traveling a lot, it’s sometimes hard to find new and interesting things to cook, let alone have the time to go get all the ingredients for a specific recipe and to make something completely from scratch.

FullSizeRender(1)Rather than resorting to already pre-made meals or takeout, I tried out Chef’s Plate for the first time. How does it work? You pick an item off their menu that you’d like to make and they deliver all the fresh ingredients needed to make it and the recipe straight to your door.

What drew me to Chef’s Plate is that they only provide you with the best and freshest ingredients. They work with local family-run farms so that you cook farm to table style. Additionally, if you’re someone that wants to make a dish with meat, they offer locally raised meat without antibiotics and the fish they offer is sustainably sourced. And added bonus, all of their recipes are balanced and nutritious.

FullSizeRender(3)I was happy to find some vegetarian options available for those wanting to cook without meat.

FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(4)I made the Hand-Pulled Mediterranean Pizza for dinner this week and it was a hit! I came home to a cute box filled with all the ingredients necessary for the recipe. Additionally, the recipe card was very clear, indicated its level of difficulty, the approximate time it would take to make and also the amount of calories per serving. It was quick and simple to make and the outcome was delicious!

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(6)So if you’re looking for new recipes to make and don’t have quite enough time to get everything yourself, Chef’s Plate has got you covered. Check their website for more information: http://www.chefsplate.com/.

Nutcracker High Tea at Shangri-La Toronto

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If you’re looking for something unique to do during the holidays, make sure you head over to the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto for a special high tea service inspired by the classic Nutcracker ballet.

Taking place in the Shangri-La’s luxurious lobby lounge, the Nutcracker high tea is an enchanting way to spend a couple of hours with either a loved one, family, a business partner or friends.

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You will be seated either fireside or close to the grand piano and be able to relax and enjoy some lovely holiday classics interpreted live right before your eyes. The atmosphere is welcoming and also very homey.

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The Shangri-La offers a selection of 75 teas to choose from for their high tea ceremony, the biggest collection of any hotel in the city.

There are three different versions of the menu available; their regular menu, a vegetarian menu and also a special menu for children.

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Featured in this special Nutcracker themed menu, you will find their delicious selection of finger sandwiches, special festival marzipan stollen as well as their scrumptious warm candied ginger and traditional scones that are accompanied by house made jam, clotted cream and honey from their own “B-wall” that they cultivate in the hotel.

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The selection of pastries they offer are inspired by the dances in Act II of the Nutcracker ballet. You will be offered four pastries: the Spanish Dance (a dark chocolate cinnamon crèmeux), the Arabian Dance (coffee cardamon crème diplomat), the Chinese Dance (Imperial Dragon well tea cream) and the Russian Dance (Russian style gingerbread). The ingredients they use for these pastries are directly influenced by the dance’s country of origin.

The Shangri-La’s beautifully dressed staff will make sure you feel at home and take care of everything you need during the service. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself staying longer than expected to enjoy the magical ambiance.

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The Nutcracker high tea is being offered at the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto from 2-5pm daily until January 3rd 2016. To make a reservation or for more info, go here.

Maman Toronto

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I couldn’t resist posting about this wonderful new French bakery & café called MAMAN that just opened up in Toronto. The reason being: it’s a little piece of French heaven! I first stopped in before the weekend to get a first look at this cute place that just opened up on the Mezzanine Level of First Canadian Place. I’m always curious to check out anything France-related so I was enchanted when I got to MAMAN. Not only did the decor remind me of beautiful Southern France and La Provence, the food and drink menu seemed just as dreamy.

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MAMAN is a collaboration between five partners including Armand Arnal, head chef at Michelin star restaurant La Chassagnette in the South of France. They serve breakfast, lunch and are also open for cinq-à-sept or cocktail hour from 5-7pm from Monday to Friday. Their menu consists in a variety of yummy quiches, savoury tarts, sandwiches, salads and a ton of delicious baked goods. Everything is made fresh in-house. I was delighted to see some traditional French items like Madeleines, Financiers, Croques, etc. I also like that they added their own unique twist to some classic French items, making them even more special.

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The atmosphere inside the place is very serene and beautiful. They have two beautiful communal tables, a small bar area and also a decent sized patio outside. Though it’s not an area I typically hang out in, with organized Bingo nights soon coming and my constant search for yummy French food in the city, you may catch me there pretty often!

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