Breakfast tofu scramble

I think I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Now that I’ve gone overseas for the first time, I’m just dying to get away again! France is at the top of my travel bucket list (is it sad that French food is 90% of the reason I want to go there? … don’t answer that), along with Italy and California.

I think I’ve been wanting to visit California ever since the Parent Trap remake with Lindsay Lohan came out and I fell in love with the scenery of the wine country and hiking trails. These days I follow lots of California bloggers and instagrammers who never fail to make me jealous of their amazing farmers markets, beaches, and fresh food cafes.

Breakfast tofu scramble -- vegan and gluten free

This sunny breakfast tofu scramble is inspired by California. I imagine if I lived there I would eat it while sitting in a little breakfast nook overlooking the beach with a freshly squeezed orange juice from the farmers market… instead I ate it on an unseasonably cold summer day and while staring at my computer screen. Oh well, a girl can dream!

Breakfast tofu scramble -- vegan and gluten free

Breakfast tofu scramble | Gluten free, nut free, vegan

Serves 3-4

2 tsp olive oil
1.5 green onions, sliced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 block of tofu (350 g)
1.5 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper

Heat up the olive oil in a pan, and saute the onions, red pepper, and garlic over low medium heat, taking care not to burn the garlic. When the pepper has softened (about 3 minutes), use your hands to crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the turmeric, nutritional yeast, and a few good shakes of salt and pepper, and stir well to combine. Cook for another couple of minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

Breakfast tofu scramble -- vegan and gluten free

Where do you want to travel to next?

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5 tips for starting a supper club with friends

Do you guys ever get in cooking ruts?

I do. All the time. I’ll go to the farmers market and buy the same vegetables as always, and then make the same boring stir fry (ok, it’s not boring, it’s actually really good – but isn’t there a saying that “variety is the spice of life”?) three times in a week. There are tons of new foods to try at the farmers markets, and tons of recipes at my finger tips on Pinterest, but yet I don’t take advantage of them because I feel too busy or overwhelmed to plan to try a new recipe.

But recently I’ve found a solution: a starting a supper club with my friend Tracey (who just so happens to have recently started a blog – check it out!).

She loves cooking and trying out new recipes as much as I do, so it’s the perfect set up. We’ve done our supper club twice so far (check out our first dinner here) and I think we’re aiming to do it monthly because there are so many perks, like:

  • Splitting the effort of cooking labour intensive recipes
  • Sharing ingredients so that you don’t have to spend as much
  • Lots of leftovers to ease the burden of cooking for the rest of the week
  • Getting to enjoy a delicious meal with friend(s)!

Last week we got together for our second supper club:

We started with a cabbage hemp salad from Kris Carr’s cookbook Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It had avocado, cilantro, and lime in it, which is always a great flavour combination.

Supper club

For our main course we made these lentil beanball subs with sauteed kale marinara from Veggies Don’t Bite. They were pretty time consuming since we had to make both the beanballs and the marinara (thank goodness we precooked the lentils, or else it would have taken us even longer!), but the effort turned out to be well worth it because they were really good!

Supper club

We finished off with Oh She Glowssummer stone fruit crisp, which we both really enjoyed but felt could have used a pinch more salt in the topping to bring out the flavour of the coconut. That would just be a small improvement on an already delicious dessert though!

Supper club

Are you interested in starting your own supper club? Here are my tips based on my experience so far:

5 tips for starting a supper club with friends

1. Before starting a supper club: Choose a person or group of people who are on the same page as you. Are you an adventurous eater? Make sure they are too. Do you want to try lots of ethnic dishes? Make sure that’s what they want to do too. Do you want to make budget dishes that won’t break the bank? Make sure they’re on board with that too. It’s also a good idea to make sure all dietary preferences and allergies are known.

2. Create a Pinterest board for your supper club: This is a great way to share recipe ideas for menu planning. And also a great excuse to waste way too much time browsing Pinterest.

3. Make a shareable grocery list: Write up a grocery list with all the ingredients and amounts needed, then send it to all members of the supper club (or share it on Google Docs) so that everyone can fill in what ingredients they already have at home or volunteer to buy ingredients that need to be bought. This also acts as a good resource in case someone forgets one of the cookbooks you need to cook from, which I totally didn’t do (except, I did – luckily this list allowed us to make the recipe without it though!).

4. Read the recipes first: To make sure that the recipes are doable within a few hours and to find out what cooking equipment and appliances are needed. We write all the cooking equipment and appliances that will be needed directly on the grocery list so that the host can make sure that he/she has them in their kitchen. Because grating carrots is pretty hard without a grater! This happened to me once at a friend’s house… let’s just say we ended up with a very crunchy carrot cake.

5. Cook a double or triple batch of the recipes: If you’ve got the capacity to do this, it’s definitely worth it so that everyone can have some leftovers for the week!

Have you ever done a supper club with friends? Any other tips?

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Chelsea lately

In the few weeks that I’ve been back from England I’ve posted about all of my adventures (here, here, and here). So now that those are out of the way, I can get back to my regular posting.

I’ve got lots of updates today, so settle down with cup of tea (I’m drinking my English breakfast tea that I picked up at Fortnum & Mason in London – it makes me feel slightly British!) and let’s get caught up, shall we?

Last week I went out for dinner with an old friend from elementary school who I reconnected with through social media. We checked out Burlington’s new pizzeria Son of a Peach, which has been getting rave reviews ever since it opened. We split the Fig & Prosciutto pizza and the Pig & Peach pizza – both were delicious! The combination of peach and bacon was unexpected, but surprisingly good.

Son of a Peach pizza

I also recently went out for drinks with some of my high school friends who I only see occasionally. As I was sitting there I looked around at everyone and it suddenly hit me how much time has passed since high school. Some have jobs, some live and work overseas, some are in serious relationships… it’s like we’re adults or something. Scary.

I still haven’t found a job as a Registered Dietitian though. I’ve applied to a few positions that interested me, but I haven’t even heard back from one of them. And not only is it frustrating, but it’s also a bit of a blow to the self esteem. I’m just trying to stay positive by telling myself that I’m probably competing with people who have loads more experience than I do, and that the right job will come along soon.

And I guess one of the perks of being unemployed is having tons of time to play in the kitchen. One day when I had an entire afternoon free I decided to make homemade rosemary focaccia (I used this recipe and added rosemary). It turned out beautifully and was the perfect accompaniment to Jamie Oliver’s lentil soup.

rosemary focaccia

I’ve also been loving that I have the time to go to the farmers market so often. In the past week I’ve gone twice! Most of the first loot was used to cook dinner with my friend, and the eggplant I used to make this fantastic open faced sandwich with olive relish.

Burlington mall farmers market

But when I’m not job hunting, making bread, or going to the farmers market, I’ve been helping my parents with the basement. Burlington had some nasty flooding while I was in England, and our basement got about 4 inches of water (which is better than the 8 feet that some houses got – I can’t imagine what a nightmare they must be going through). We have to tear up most of it, and also get rid of a lot of stuff, so it’s been busy!

What has been going on lately with you?

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Things to do when visiting London

On my recent trip to the UK, my sister and I spent 7 full days in London, so you bet we did a lot of exploring. And I mean a lot! We walked so much that we actually had to take a day off just to recover because our legs and feet were hurting so much. Since I already talked about where to eat in London, in this post I’m going to focus things to do when visiting London.

Soho – Soho is a neighbourhood that’s a great place to go if you want to escape the hoards of tourists for a while. It’s part of the theatre district, and it also has a lot of great restaurants (check out 10 Greek Street, Bibimbap, Lick, and The Pudding Bar from this post), bars, and shopping. You’ll find stores like Diesel, Miss Sixty, and MAC, as well as independent boutiques and the department story Liberty.

Carnaby Street Soho

Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel – I saw this posted on Khushboo’s blog and I immediately added it to our itinerary. It was such a fun experience! First they let you choose your tea from a set of samples on the table, and they bring it out to you in adorable pots with paper crowns.

Sanderson Hotel afternoon tea

Then the feast comes… there were finger sandwiches (ham and grainy mustard on sun dried tomato bread was my favourite), scones, and of course pastries and desserts. The matcha mousse in an edible chocolate cup and the Victoria sponge cake were probably my top two favourites.

Sanderson Hotel afternoon tea

That wasn’t even it though – there was also a carrot meringue with filling, marshmallow mushrooms, and a “drink me” potion. The presentation of everything was seriously amazing, and it all tasted as good as it looked. I highly recommend this to everyone!

Sanderson Hotel afternoon tea

Borough Market – this farmers market is a foodie’s heaven. There are all sorts of vendors with produce, oil and vinegars, mushrooms, meat, and best of all, cheese. We must have sampled cheese from at least 5 or 6 different stalls.

Borough Market

There were also a million places with desserts like meringue and pastries, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any nut allergy friendly places except for Flaxjacks, which had a line of totally nut free granola bars. I went for the date bar, which was fantastic. There are also lots of stands with ready-to-eat foods like sausage on a bun, Indian food, grilled cheese, and Japanese. We split the gyoza and rice noodles with chicken – both were delicious.

Borough Market Japanese food

See a play/musical - we were lucky enough to get somewhat last minute tickets to see Matilda at Cambridge Theatre on my second Saturday night there. We had a hard time deciding amongst all the great theatre options: Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mamma Mia, The Lion King, The Commitments, etc. But I’m glad we went for Matilda – it was great to see one of my favourite childhood books/movies on stage. And the male actor playing Miss Trunchbull was spot on hilarious!

Matilda the musical

Hyde Park – I literally had no concept of the enormity of this park until I saw it. It is massive! On my last day in London we enjoyed a picnic lunch of focaccia, cured meats, and cheese one from Whole Foods, then went for a bike ride on rented bikes throughout the park.

Hyde Park

Portobello Market – This is a huge market that runs down Portobello Road in Notting Hill. There was everything from jewellery to vintage clothing to antique dishware to souvenirs. And of course there was tons of street food and baked goods as well.

Portobello market

Department stores – London has some seriously cool department stores. Harrods is the famous one, but personally I found it overcrowded with a confusing layout. I much preferred browsing the designer clothes and accessories at Liberty and Selfridges. Bonus: Selfridges has an awesome chocolate section!

Museums - I didn’t know this beforehand, but all museums in London are free, so they’re a great way to amuse yourself cheaply. We checked out the Science Museum (great exhibit on medicine through history), Victoria and Albert Museum (very cool “Disobedient Objects” exhibit and jewellery gallery), British Museum (loved the ancient Grecian sculpture), and my favourite: The National Gallery. I took a class on art history once, and it’s fascinated me ever since. It was awesome to see some of the paintings I’d studied in real life! I also highly recommend renting the headset for only a few pounds – getting to learn about the context and interpretations of the paintings really adds to the experience.

Crouching Venus

Historical sites and monuments - This is kind of a given, but I figured I’d throw it in here at the end. The Tower of London is a really neat site – but unlike what we thought, it’s not just a tower; it’s an entire fortress. So you definitely need to devote a good 2+ hours to this site. I also recommend buying the audio guide to learn more about its history.

Tower of London

We also made sure to visit the other famous sites like Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the Parliament buildings, the Marble Arch, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. They were cool to see, but definitely not something you have to plan your entire day around. Most of the time we just walked by and snapped a picture so we could say we’d been there!

londonlandmarks

So that wraps up my long, but not exhaustive list of things to do when visiting London as a tourist!

Anything I forgot to include in this list?

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Best London restaurants

I originally planned on writing one big post about restaurants, shopping, and sightseeing in London but I quickly realized that would be a massive post! And I know no one likes to read those, so I decided to break it up. After all, the topic of the best London restaurants could probably take up a whole blog on its own, let alone just a post.

So I’m just going to cover the best London restaurants and dessert shops in this post – stay tuned for another post about other great food from London’s markets and afternoon teas!

10 Greek Street – this is a small restaurant in Soho that I decided was a must-try after seeing it recommended on multiple websites. And it definitely lived up to its recommendations. Hayley and I shared some small plates, which were all good but the highlight was the bruschetta with burrata, onion, pine nuts, and broad beans. We are great at sharing except when it comes to dessert, so we decided to get our own. And I’m glad we did because there is no way I would have wanted to share my apricot and almond tart!

10 Greek Street

Bibimbap – To be honest I’ve never actually had bibimbap from a restaurant before, so I don’t have anything to compare this restaurant to, but I really enjoyed it and it seems to be popular since there was a 10-15 minute wait to get a table on a week night!

Bibimbap

C Lidgate – okay this place isn’t actually a restaurant: it’s a butcher shop that apparently has the best meat pies in all of London. After hearing this we of course had to try one, so one evening we picked ourselves up a coq au vin pie and took it back to Marlow to bake it. The verdict? Pretty delicious! The pastry was perfection, but I actually prefer my own coq au vin recipe.

C Lidgate coq au vin pie

Lick – This was actually my first time trying gelato! Usually gelato is a no-go for me because of my nut allergies, but the person at the counter reassured me that they take measures to prevent cross-contamination at Lick. Hayley and I shared the honeycomb flavour, which we both really enjoyed.

Lick gelato

Mildred’s – if you’re a vegetarian or vegan travelling in London, it has no shortage of restaurants for you! We tried out Mildred’s, which was a seriously hopping place so we knew it must be good. We split the pan fried halloumi, cherry tomato and wilted spinach with balsamic glaze to start, and we both loved it. I was craving vegetables after not eating many for the past few days, so I ordered their organic energizing detox salad with beets, carrots, fennel, sprouting beans, sultanas, coriander and toasted seeds with an apple ginger dressing and tofu for my main. It was good, but I wish I’d ordered something else like Hayley’s risotto cake with grape mustard cream sauce or the vegetarian burrito with guacamole.

Mildred's

The Pudding Bar – I’m so glad I was in London when I went or else I might have missed this pop up shop that is only open for a few months. The name might mean explaining though… because it’s not a bar devoted entirely to pudding! “Pudding” is actually what they call dessert in the UK. Hayley and I split two choices: the s’more cheesecake with clotted cream ice cream and the strawberry Eton mess. So delicious!

The Pudding Bar

Polpo – this is a small plates style restaurant that serves Venetian cuisine. There are a couple locations in London, but we went to the one in Notting Hill. We had the spicy pork and fennel meatballs; prosciutto, smoked mozzarella and rocket pizzette; and zucchini with Parmesan and basil. Everything was great, and I was really impressed with how they managed to make zucchini (a very boring vegetable in my opinion) so delicious.

polpo

Recipease – this is Jamie Oliver’s food and kitchen shop that offers a selection of prepared foods, pantry foods, kitchen equipment, cooking classes, and a cafe serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks. Hayley and I stopped here for tea on our first day in London and we made sure to return for a meal before the end of my trip. I had two small plates: Smoked salmon with potato and radish salad and horseradish creme fraiche and smashed spicy avocado on sourdough toast. Both were fantastic and exactly the style of fresh, simple cooking I would expect from Jamie’s restaurant.

Recipease

Sticks n’ Sushi – Hayley declared she was craving sushi one day and of course I was on board (when do I not want sushi?), so she did a quick search and found this winner. On top of beautiful decor it also has great service and a really intriguing menu. The only downside is its prices. Luckily I wasn’t feeling too hungry so I didn’t have to order much, but my tatami roll (avocado, cucumber, salmon, dengaku miso, chives, red onion, and fresh ginger) and seaweed salad still came to over £16 (that’s about $30 in Canadian dollars)!

Sticks n Sushi

We clearly found a lot of great restaurants in London, but I wish I had another few months there to eat my way through the city!

Have you ever been to London? What’s your favourite restaurant there?

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Things to do in Marlow

Hi again everyone! I’m back from my trip to the UK – and it was amazing! I feel like I’m bursting with things I want to post about. But I’m going to take it one topic at a time, and start with my stay in Marlow, which is a small town about a 30 minute drive from London.

Things to do in Marlow

Hayley is nannying for a family who lives there, so that’s where I stayed, and we just made the trip into London most days. There were about 3 days total we spent in Marlow though so I got a pretty good feel for it. Here are some of my highlights from my time there and my suggestions for things to do in Marlow:

Food

Fego Cafe is a cute cafe on High Street that serves breakfast and lunch. I went there a handful of times and always enjoyed my meal. My favourite was their “Mediterranean Brunch”, which was grilled halloumi, avocado, peppers, tomato, spinach, and mushrooms on toasted poppy & rye sourdough topped with a poached egg, pesto, and rocket.

Things to do in Marlow

I also had Fego Cafe’s full English breakfast on my last morning there because I felt it was an English experience I needed to partake in (pictured below, plus toast). It was good, but seriously filling – I wasn’t hungry until 10 hours later!

Things to do in Marlow

We also went to The Cedar Coffee Shop for lunch one day. It has a Mediterranean inspired menu with sandwiches, wraps, and salads, but I got that day’s special of chili con carne stuffed sweet potato topped with crème fraîche. It was delicious!

Things to do in Marlow

Marlow is also the home of a two Michelin star restaurant The Hand and Flowers – it is actually the only pub in the world to be awarded Michelin stars. We went there one night on a whim and got a seat at the bar because tables are often booked months in advance.

I started with the potted artichokes with cured pork, summer truffle, trompette, and rye cracker. Unfortunately I found this dish pretty bland and unimpressive. My main was the fillet of sea bass with roast tomato fondue, peppers, and aubergine “provençal”, thyme salt, and French olive oil. I enjoyed this plate, especially the flavour of the aubergine, but the fish needed salt. I ordered the chocolate ale cake with salted caramel and muscovado ice cream for dessert, which again was lacking in flavour. Overall the meal was not what I would expect from a Michelin star restaurant. For the price we paid, which was about $330 total (including alcohol), it wasn’t worth it to me.

The Hand and Flowers

Things to do

Marlow is on the Thames River, and it has an amazing trail that runs along it and throughout the nearby fields. Hayley and I took a long walk one evening by the river, along fields of sheep, and down a path lined with tons of blackberry bushes that anyone can pick. The scenery almost made me feel like I was in Pride and Prejudice!

Things to do in Marlow

It’s also a great place for boating. On nice weekends you’ll see plenty of locals out on their boats enjoying the weather. There are also boating tours for visitors that will take you down the river to nearby towns and attractions. I never did one of those tours, but I did join in with Hayley’s kayak and canoe club one Sunday for their weekly excursion up the river to a little tea shop.

Things to do in Marlow

On my second day there we spent time exploring the town and shopping. Marlow has plenty of shops with English brands like The White Company, Whistles, Jigsaw, Cath Kidston, and Sweaty Betty.

One day we also took a day trip out to Windsor Castle, which is one of the Queen’s castles and is just a short drive away from Marlow. It was my first time visiting a real historical castle – I was in such awe of how big and grand it is! You can just tour the castle on your own, but we decided to do the audio tour which was really informative and taught us a lot about its history.

Windsor Castle

That’s a wrap for things to do in Marlow, but I’ve got some posts about my food and sight-seeing adventures in London coming up next!

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A day trip to Niagara Falls

Remember back in May when JZ surprised me with the best birthday present ever? Well it was his birthday recently, so I gave myself the mission of creating an equally awesome day for him. I think I succeeded…

First there was breakfast in bed followed by a couples massage at Sanctuary Day Spa, since he’s always mentioning how he wants to go for a massage. It was a really elegant spa with a great ambiance and friendly staff, but I think our massages fell a bit short of our expectations. Still… any massage is better than no massage!

Sanctuary Day Spa Burlington

My next planned activity was a picnic – only I hadn’t planned exactly where to do it. JZ had the great idea to stop at Port Dalhousie, which was just a short detour off the highway on our way to Niagara Falls. Apparently this beach town is undergoing some construction right now, but it looks like it will be a cute place to spend the day when it’s done! We just went to a park by the beach to enjoy our picnic of baguette, meat, cheese, veggies and dip, and cantaloupe.

Picnic in the park

Afterwards we hit the road for our day trip to Niagara Falls. We started out with a walk along the Falls – it was jam packed with tourists so it wasn’t quite the relaxing stroll I had in mind! Also it was stinking hot out so we didn’t last long before we wanted to find somewhere indoors and/or shady to go.

26July3

We ended up walking up Clifton Hill, which is a street full of tourist stores, family-friendly restaurants, and activities like haunted houses and mini putt. But we opted for a break first and stopped at Antica Pizzeria for a drink. My glass of Megalomaniac Riesling was just the refreshing drink I needed.

Next on the agenda was Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, which we both thought looked pretty cool. We were both unimpressed though – it was pretty boring at times! Definitely not worth the $27 combined entrance fee. I did get to sit in the chair of the world’s tallest man though!

We headed to Casino Niagara afterwards – my first casino experience! Unfortunately my beginner’s luck did not kick in and we lost all the $20 that we gambled on the slots. I don’t get how people can lose so much money gambling. After losing that $20, I didn’t have any desire to gamble more!

At this point we left Niagara Falls and made the 10 minute drive to our dinner destination: Casa Mia Ristorante, which was recommended by a family friend who has worked in a few amazing restaurants himself.

We started with a complimentary straciatella soup, which was a chicken broth based soup with orzo and egg. It was good, but probably not something I would order on my own because I prefer Italian soups like minestrone with more textures and flavours. We were also given bread served with butter, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Casa Mia Ristorante soup

For my starter I had the insalata della casa, which was mixed greens with cucumber, tomato, carrots, chickpeas, and fried potato sticks with a balsamic vinaigrette. I didn’t really love this salad because I found the balsamic in the dressing was much too strong and acidic. It would have been good with a different dressing and some more exciting flavours added in, such as cheese.

Casa Mia Ristorante salad

I loved my entree though! I had the ricotta ravioli with fresh tomato and basil sauce, and it was perfect! Perfect flavours, perfect softness, and perfect seasoning. I’m almost positive it was all handmade, although their website doesn’t say so.

Casa Mia Ristorante ravioli

The dessert menu looked good too, but we had some of my homemade Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream waiting for us at home, so we passed on the desserts and headed home. All in all a good day!

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What did you do there?

Casa Mia Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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I’m off to England!

Hi everyone!

Today I’m boarding a plane at 8:55 am for my first ever trip overseas. My sister is an au pair in England for the year and she has some time off, so we’re going to be spending the next 12 days frolicking around England.

london Picture credit to Henri1407 via pixabay.com

I have some posts scheduled to go up during this time, but otherwise I won’t be online much.

See you back on the 12th!

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10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

Farmers market season is in full swing here in Ontario – and I am loving it! But navigating the market can be confusing and overwhelming – sometimes it’s hard to know what to buy, where to spend your money, and how to make the most of your farmers market experience.  So today I’m sharing my top 10 tips for shopping at farmers markets:

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

1. Shop around

Walk around and visit all the vendors before deciding what to buy. This way you can be sure to get the best deals and the best quality. Last time I was at the market I bought the first raspberries I saw, but after buying them I realized they were mushy! There were much better looking berries at other stalls, so I wish I’d shopped around first.

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

2. Bring your own bags and containers

You probably already bring your own reusable tote with you, but have you thought about bringing your own containers? I like to bring tupperware with lids for my berries and cherry tomatoes so that they stay protected in my bag. I will also bring old plastic bags from the grocery store for things that I don’t want to put directly in my tote, like beets that still have some dirt on them. Vendors like it when you do this because it means they can keep their containers and reuse them, and save money on buying bags!

3. Talk to the vendors

Talking to the vendors is a great way to learn more about your produce and even pick up some cooking or recipe tips. They may even cut you some deals. One time I complimented a vendor on her gorgeous beets, and she gave me 50 cents off the price – she’s now my go-to person when I need beets. Another time I asked a vendor about a variety of apple I wasn’t familiar with, and he gave me a few free ones to sample!

4. Question the source

I don’t know about other farmers markets, but at mine there are some vendors that sell their produce directly from the food terminal. Even though much of this produce is still local, I prefer to buy my produce from the farmers themselves. So ask questions to find out where your food is coming from! Or just use your judgement: if you see blueberries at a farmers market in Ontario in June, chances are they are not local. If you’re not sure when a crop is available here in Ontario, check out this handy guide from Foodland Ontario.

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

5. Go early

I know some people say to go late so that you can get the best deals, but by the afternoon on a summer’s day, most vegetables are looking pretty sad and limp. Not to mention some hot selling items like early season berries might already be sold out. I much prefer to go first thing in the morning to get my pick of the freshest produce!

6. Don’t go in with a plan

So this is the opposite of what I usually tell people. When shopping at the grocery store, it’s always a good idea to have a plan and stick to it so that you don’t overbuy. But when it comes to farmers markets, you never know what is going to be there or what will be the freshest. I like to just go in without a plan and buy what looks the best to me. I find the best meal inspiration comes from the farmers market!

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

7. Connect online and on social media

Find out if the vendors at your market have websites and/or social media accounts and connect with them to be in-the-know about their crops, their favourite recipes, special deals, etc.

8. Be picky

Don’t be shy about making sure you get the best quality produce. Ask the vendor if you can take a quick peak at all the tomatoes in a basket to make sure they are fresh and not damaged; open a carton of farm-fresh eggs to look for cracks; give zucchini a quick squeeze to make sure they are firm. It’s okay to make sure you are paying for the best quality! Another tip is to ask the vendors when something was picked. Some things like beets and potatoes are good for longer periods of time, but if berries and leafy greens weren’t picked that morning, I would find another place to buy them!

10 tips for shopping at farmers markets

9. Ask if you can customize

Often when I’m shopping at farmers markets, I’m just buying for one person. So I may not need 4 zucchinis at a time or a whole basket of potatoes. And most of the time when I ask the vendor if I can buy half, they are happy to accommodate.

10. Enjoy it!

Set aside a chunk of time to go to the farmers market so that you don’t feel rushed. Chat, sample, dawdle, and enjoy the experience!

Do you shop at a farmers market? What are your tips?

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Wheat berry salad with tomatoes and basil

It seems like ever since I finished my dietetic internship a week and a half ago, all I’ve been doing is eating out at restaurants!

Last Monday I drove to London to get lunch with Sam. We went to The Church Key, which is a bistro-pub on Richmond Row that gets great reviews. My open faced steak sandwich with sauteed peppers & onions and buttermilk ranch mornay sauce definitely got my approval. And so did the company – we had a great time catching up!

The Church Key Bistro-Pub

The next day I went to the an LCBO cooking class and four course meal. You can read about my experience in this post!

Wednesday I had plans to go on a walk and grab dinner at Lettuce Love Cafe with my friend – I got the Power Bowl with quinoa, braised kale, sweet potatoes, black beans, sauteed mushrooms, avocado, tempeh, and tahini sauce. I get this bowl all the time and love it!

Lettuce Love Cafe Power Bowl

Thursday was a mother-daughter shopping day in Toronto, and we decided to take advantage of Summerlicious to get a 3 course meal at Sassafraz for only $25. It’s such a steal! My gazpacho starter was good, but the real highlight was this BC chinook salmon with parsnip and fennel hash, green beans, and Bearnaise sauce. For dessert mom and I shared a cheese plate with a raisin compote and berries.

Sassafraz

I also ate out over the weekend, although it was less gourmet and more along the lines of 2 am pizza and a greasy Sunday breakfast. Hey, it happens.

But after all that eating out, I’ve been craving fresh, homemade food this week! Enter this salad. I based it off a salad I’ve had at the Whole Foods salad bar, and it turned out great. With local tomatoes and basil straight from my garden, you can’t really get any fresher!

Wheat berry salad with tomatoes and basil

Wheat berry salad with tomatoes and basil | Nut free and vegan

Serves 4

1 cup wheat berries
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2/3 cup diced cucumber
2/3 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine wheat berries with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil in a covered pot. Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour. When they are done, drain them and rinse under cold water.

Shake in colander to get rid of excess water, then combine wheat berries with the tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, celery, onion, and basil.

Then in a small dish combine the oil and vinegar. Mix the dressing into the salad and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be stingy with the salt – it really helps bring out the flavours! Top with more basil for garnish.

Wheat berry salad with tomatoes and basil

What’s your favourite thing from the Whole Foods salad bar?

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