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.

5 Things to do in Hamilton

FullSizeRender(12)I recently went on an impromptu daytrip to Hamilton to discover some of the city’s latest and greatest restaurants, shops and attractions. The day spent there went by way to fast and I’m already itching to head back to discover even more gems in this booming town. Here are some of my recommendations from this quick trip.

1) Go for coffee – Hamilton has some of the best and coolest coffee shops I’ve seen in all of Canada. Everywhere you look, there’s a cute coffee shop nestled on a street corner, that is designed beautifully and that offers delicious beverages and snacks. Whether it would be Cannon Coffee Co., Relay Coffee Roasters, Smalls Coffee, Pinecone Coffee or my latest discovery Durand Coffee, you are sure to get your java fix while in the city.

IMG_8843FullSizeRender(4)2) Visit the James St. North District – This super cute area of Hamilton is the perfect place for a morning stroll. Stop by the many boutiques (like the incredibly cute White Elephant), grab a snack from Mulberry Street Coffeehouse or from Saint James Espresso Bar & Eatery. New businesses are popping up in this area every couple of weeks.

FullSizeRender(10)FullSizeRender(9)FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(8)FullSizeRender(11)3) Grab lunch at Butcher and the Vegan – Located in the Barton Village, this newly opened restaurant is a great spot for a mid-day break. All of the food they serve come from a 100km radius of Hamilton. Additionally, they serve a mix of meaty and vegan dishes that will surely please everyone’s taste buds. Their farm to table menu is fresh, tasty and original. Their “Every dish under the same roof.  Every dish made with love. Everyone together.” philosophy is one I can totally get behind.

FullSizeRender(1)FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender(2)4) Wander around Locke St. – This super cute street in Hamilton is located in a quiet area of the city. It’s the perfect place to go grab a fresh juice from the brand new Glow Juicery, or some cheese from the Cheese Shoppe. They also have a handful of restaurants, local specialty boutiques and even a whoopie pie shop. The row of houses converted into shops are what make the street even more unique and charming.

FullSizeRender(6)FullSizeRender(7)5) Snack on a Donut Monster. These local donuts are made fresh from scratch daily in small batches. You can find Donut Monster in more than a dozen retailers around Hamilton. They are some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. A must: their brown butter donut!

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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.

5 Food Discoveries in Palm Springs

FullSizeRender(1) - Copie1) Rooster and the Pig. You may have to wait up to 2hrs to get into this popular joint but this Vietnamese American bar and restaurant is worth the wait. The friendly atmosphere inside allows for a laid-back dinning experience. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and try something new while you are there. All of their dishes will definitely please your tastebuds!

FullSizeRender(10)FullSizeRender(11)FullSizeRender(12)2) Workshop Kitchen + Bar. Located in uptown Palm Springs, this minimalist and industrial-looking restaurant is one of the places to put on your dinner list. Heavily focused on local ingredients, this farm-to-table spot works with local farms in the Coachella Valley to provide a creative and varied menu. They have a plentiful selection of both vegetarian and meat dishes that are presented in a beautiful manner. The farmhouse-style table located in the middle of the restaurant makes the space super convivial.

FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(1)FullSizeRender(3)FullSizeRender(4)FullSizeRender(1)3) Norma’s. If you’re looking for an ultra hype and beautiful place to go for brunch while in Palm Springs, make sure you visit the The Parker Palm Springs. Not only is the hotel exquisite but the food at Norma’s is also topnotch. The colorful restaurant serves up your choice of healthy and hearty options including their James Beard Award-Winning Potato Pancake Recipe. You never know who you may rub shoulders with at this intimate and cozy hotspot. While you are there, make sure you spend time in their fireplace lounge or visiting their outdoor garden.

FullSizeRender(9)IMG_15964) Kings Highway. Located at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, this no-frills casual diner serves up good food and good vibes. The hotel partnered up with the same team that created the very popular L.A. Chapter to create a cool western and bohemian vibe. Jud Mongell and Ken Addington base their menu on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients while adding an imaginative twist to it. All late-night cravings will be satisfied at Kings Highway!

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(6)FullSizeRender(7)FullSizeRender(8)5) Chi Chi. The newly redesigned restaurant at the Avalon Hotel is all about celebrating California cuisine. The west coast is made a focal point on not only the menu but also on the pool-centric setting and space. Eating outdoors is a must for a romantic candlelit dinner.

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The Starter with Belmonte Raw

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Sometimes in life, you just have to press the reset button. A few weeks ago, I was fell off the wagon. After eating healthy consistently for the past couple of months, I had a seriously terrible week with food. I made bad decisions and ended up eating things that made me feel super crappy. This also coincided with some serious changes at work that made me feel not so stellar. Instead of going further down the rabbit hole, I knew I had to make a change quickly in order to get back on track. Since I’ve been working out so much, it is totally counterproductive to eat unhealthy.

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I immediately got in touch with Belmonte Raw and got set up for a 2-day reset cold-pressed juice and raw food diet. Having learned from previous experiences, I didn’t want to do a juice-only cleanse, as I wanted to make sure I had proper nutrition and energy to keep me going throughout the days and my workouts. What is great about Belmonte Raw’s different meal and juice programs is that they have something for everyone. I was particularly drawn to The Starter because it included 1 smoothie, 2 raw meals, 3 cold-pressed juices, 1 elixir and 1 tea. Another plus is that the meals they offer change daily, so you’re not eating the same thing day in and day out.

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As with all Belmonte Raw programs, all the juices and meals were delivered straight to my door the first morning of my cleanse. For the first day, I had a Hummus Wrap for lunch and a Veggie Lo Mein for dinner. On the second day, my meals consisted in the Madras Curry & Kale for lunch and the Dreams of Lebanon for dinner. The meals were all portioned well and also very tasty.

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With the delivery you also receive a little guide book with your daily food and juice schedule to make sure you space everything out properly. All of their juices are made with 100% organic ingredients. All of their meals are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and free of all animal products.

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After the 2-day reset, I felt a lot better about myself. I felt confident to keep eating healthy and stay on track. Sometimes just a little change in your diet or routine can make a huge difference in how you feel.

For more info on Belmonte Raw, go here.

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.