Tag

food

Browsing

Canada Week with the Great Canadian Baking Show

Oh Canada!

It was baking week on the Great Canadian Baking Show, which meant lots of delicious, patriotic, treats!

The first challenge was a Tourtière, a French-Canadian meat pie. The bakers were asked to make a flaky pie crust with a meaty centre, and pair it with a condiment. I am a huge fan of Tourtière. My mother makes it for the family every Christmas Eve, pairing it with Russian gravy, so I know what goes into making this rich and decadent meal. Each baker used a different meat combination, with some airing on the lean side. Fat is necessary in order to keep the filling juicy and tender.

I have to admire James Hoyland and Verdana Jain for making a vegetarian pie instead. They stuck to their beliefs, regardless of the challenge, and shocked the judges with their delicious pies. James used beets to give the pie a meat-like colour while Verdana used cashews as a base.

**Also, I need the goggles James uses to cut onions!!

The technical challenge was a maple cookie. While many of the previous technical challenges have been foreign to the bakers, this one was well known to all. The only thing bakers struggled with was the amount of maple butter in between the cookies.

The showstopper challenge was donuts, which was a little odd considering this treat actually originates in the United States. Sure, Canadians enjoy a good donut with our double double, but that doesn’t mean it is a national treat. Bakers could have been asked to make butter tarts, nanaimo bars, blueberry grunt, or even a Made In Canada cake — all much more Canadian than a donut. Hopefully, these items will be included in other challenges.

The origins of the donut aside, there were some bakers who tried to “canadian-ize” their treats. Linda made some beautiful maple bacon and double-double flavoured donuts and Verdana used Saskatchewan berries as her inspiration. Julian created some fun canoe-shaped donuts and Sabrina made donut poutine! This was a challenge that allowed the bakers to be creative and have fun. It also made me want to try to make donuts!

I’m going to dedicate some time to talk about James — who I firmly believe is my spirit animal. The way he cooks is the way most of us amateur bakers cool: with a messy flare. At the end of the day, no matter how many bags explode on him or how many glazes bubble on to the stovetop, his food always tastes good (at least according to the judges), and that’s all that matters! I feel a weird connection to him as a messy baker myself. When I first started baking, nothing turned out right. I once served a neon orange pumpkin pie to friends. It tasted great…it just looks like something out of a cartoon. But, that’s the beauty of this show. While presentation is really important, at the end of the day it’s all about the taste.

I’ve mentioned the camaraderie of this show so many times, but it presented itself in a different way — goofiness!  So many puns, so much cookie stealing, and lots of fun in the rain. It gets harder to see bakers go home every week — but alas, that’s the reality of the show. This week James won star baker for his delicious vegetarian pie and his peach stuffed donuts (yay!) and the whimsical Jude Somers from Victoria, B.C., was asked to leave.

5 holiday desserts from around the world

What’s the best part of travelling? For me, it’s about the local culture, including the unique foods. This holiday season, you don’t need a passport to experience any of these international cultural traditions. North American holidays are known for turkey, stuffing and an assortment of sweet and sticky pies, but what are some other holiday desserts you can find around the globe?

Women’s Post showcases five unique and decadent international desserts from different cultures that are bound to impress guests at your next holiday party:

Phillipines- Pinoy Fruit Salad

Filipino food is amazing! While known for their glazed Christmas ham or desserts like halo-halo, during the Christmas season one of the most popular sweet treats is fruit salad. Yep, fruit salad, but this isn’t any random fruit salad. Normally, Filipino fruit salad, sometimes called Pinoy fruit salad, takes one can of fruit cocktail mixed with heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. You can also find versions with coconut meat, coconut milk, jello, tapioca pearls or added pineapple. Talk about easy, creamy and delicious.

France -Buche de Noel

This dessert might look familiar to some North American homes. Buche de Noel or Yule Log is a traditional sweet treat found in France and French-influenced countries during the Christmas holidays. It is made using a classic sponge cake coated in chocolate buttercream and rolled in chocolate shavings to resemble an actual log.

England- Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding, Christmas pudding ! What’s Christmas without some traditional Christmas pudding, especially if you’re from the U.K. Also known as plum pudding, this dessert is usually served after Christmas dinner and is made using a mixture of dried fruit,spices, molasses. There are no plums in the actual pudding, but lots of raisins. The pudding is often steamed for approximately three hours. Many people often soak the fruits before hand in Brandy  and once the pudding is done it is splashed with more alcohol. This helps to preserve the pudding for almost up to one year,

Guyana- Black Cake

Similar in look to the christmas pudding, this cake is made using minced dried fruits that have been soaked in cherry brandy or rum The fruits are mixed with flour, eggs and sugar, spices and molasses or browning. Once baked, the cakes are generously soaked in rum. This Christmas treat can be found in many Caribbean islands including Jamaica and Trinidad. Black Cake or Caribbean fruit cake are also popular at weddings and is said to bring prosperity and luck.

Australia- Pavlova

Even though it’s technically summer in Australia during the Christmas holidays, this doesn’t mean that Australians can’t indulge in a refreshing Christmas- summer dessert treat. This popular meringue- like dessert is named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova after she toured New Zealand and Australia in the 1920’s. Pavlova is made using egg whites, sugar, and cream, but it has a firm and crunchy exterior and a delicate inside. This dessert is usually served on Christmas day.

What are your favourite global holiday desserts? Comment and indulge!

How to make your own Instagram-worthy ice cream

Fancy ice cream sandwiches or crazy cones are all the rage, but the wait to get one of these trendy desserts can sometimes take all the fun out of eating them. Instead, try to make your own at home. Dust with fun ingredients and make these desserts as Instagram-worthy as those $20 cones from downtown Toronto!

The first step is, obviously, to create the ice cream. If you have an ice cream maker…well, you shouldn’t need to go out for ice cream to begin with. If you don’t, it’s quite easy to make using some items you find around the house.

First, stir together two cups of heavy cream and one can of condensed milk. Whip it until the cream creates peaks. Add in a flavour (cocoa powder, vanilla, strawberries, ect.) and fold in to the cream mixture. Put it in a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight. Use an ice cream scoop to get circular scoops.

If you want to go the old fashioned route, you can also make ice cream with Ziploc freezer bags. Fill one with half and half cream as well as a few tablespoons of sugar. Mix in your flavours and put these items in a medium size bag. Place the bag in the larger bag and fill the large bag with ice and table salt. Shake until it creates a ice cream consistency.

This process can take a while and is better performed with groups so that everyone has a turn shaking!

If you want to make a vegan alternative, try using coconut milk or almond milk as the base and add your sweetener. You can also create an ice cream by using puree banana and swirling in peanut butter and chocolate chips! No milk-base required.

Top your ice cream with chocolate sauce and fruit. If you want, you can melt chocolate chips in the microwave (or in a glass bowl on top of a pot on the stove) and dip your ice cream in it. Make sure your ice cream is really frozen so nothing slides off. Then, top with sprinkles, marshmallows, or cookies. Get creative and use whatever you have in the cupboard!

If you want to use a cone, make sure to do any “fancy-ing” to it before putting the ice cream on top. Fill the inside with melted chocolate and dip the ring in white chocolate. Stick some sprinkles, cotton candy, chopped nuts, or any other toping on the chocolate. Let dry – this only should take a few minutes.

The best part — once you have the ingredients, you can indulge in much more than a single ice cream cone!

5 natural immunity boosters to prevent sickness

Cold and flu season can be tough, especially during the change in seasons. Generally, our immune systems adapt to the extra exposure in the the environment, but some immune boosters can also help. Women’s Post recommends these five natural remedies to boost your immunity or help you battle a cold.

Ginger-Lemon Flu Shot

When you are feeling a little under the weather or you are just looking for a little booster, you can start your day off my making your own flu “shot”. No, this isn’t something you inject into yourself – instead think tequila, but healthier! Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and lemon is also known to help you build up your resistance to colds. Together these two make the perfect mix. Simple blend these ingredients together and add an extra touch of honey for taste.

 

Oil of Oregano

Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano plant and had been promoted in many health stores for the prevention of colds and flus. The oregano oil has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and can be used for many different things including your skin— but most importantly, a few drops is known to help ease a sore throat. Even if you are feeling stuffy, add a few drops to a vaporizer and inhale deeply. If you already have a cold, two drops, three times a day, can help reduce the duration and severity of your illness.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics — or the good bacteria often found in foods such as yogurts or kefir – help to strengthen the immune system. Diet and lifestyle is a major part of keeping our immune system healthy. While probiotics are often recommended to treat abdominal issues, a new study found that strains of the bacteria is also good against the common cold and flu virus.

 

Garlic

While this choice may not be so friendly on your breath, turns out garlic not only serves in keeping vampires away, but colds as well.  Eating a spoonful of raw garlic is said to knock a cold out in the beginning, but if you want a softer, yet still powerful option, boil three cloves of garlic in a medium saucepan with water. Lemon and honey can also be added to cover the smell and improve the taste. Garlic has a popular property called allicin, which is an antibacterial component found in fresh garlic before it is heated.

 

Vitamin D

While we are all familiar with using vitamin C to boost our immune system, studies have shown that vitamin D, is also good for fighting colds and flu. The vitamin D helps the immune cells in your body to make antibodies, to gear up for defence. The best and most natural source of Vitamin D is from the sunshine but it can also be found in milk, or vitamin drops.

 

Stay strong this winter and keep your immune system strong. Comment below if you have any other tips!

What a country’s national dish tells us about cultural identity

Does your country have a national dish? It is rumoured the government of India is set to announce the country’s official national food — Khichdi — at an upcoming international food event. This news has caused quite a debate on social media. Why would there be the need to do something like this now? Kaichdi can be found in different parts of India all with varying recipes. However, the dish is simple and considered a staple mean in the country.

Khichdi is an interesting choice for India. Westerner’s would probably expect it to be something like butter chicken or anything with tandoori, because these are the most popular dishes associated with the country. Khichdi is a wet stew made using lentils, rice, and spices, with some regions adding meat. The dish is well-known in India itself and almost every region of the country has a different version of the dish. And yet, Twitter experienced a firestorm from angry food lovers, with many tweeting their opinion on the possibility of this dish being slated as a national dish. What this debate is showing us is that there is a significant importance between a nation’s identity and food.

Originating from Southern India, this dish is considered easy to make, humble, and one of the first dishes that babies can be introduced to. India’s Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, clarifies that the recognition of Khichdi is happening because it will be put on record at the World Food India event, which is set to take place in the country’s capital. Because of this event and all the attention that Khichdi is getting, this makes the dish a sort of unofficial representation of Indian food. Because of its simplicity, there will be a world record attempt to cook 800 kilos of the dish.

With all the funny tweets aside, the most interesting part about the Khichdi debate makes me wonder about what really qualifies as a national dish for some countries? A national dish is an important title because it is a country’s food-related identity, speaking to that countries culture. Not everyone is going to universally love a food and some may be more popular than others. Women’s Post decided to research some other popular ‘national dishes.’ These may or may not cause another debate.

England- Fish & Chips

China- Fried rice

Jamaica- Jerk Chicken

Italy- Pizza

Phillipines- Adobo

Guyana- Pepperpot

Chile- Empanada

Vietnam- Pho

Japan- Sushi

Canada- Poutine, Butter Tarts, Nanaimo Bars…

United States- Hamburgers, Hot Dogs,….. Apple Pie, Chicken Wings ???? Literally everything

While this list can have many additions, there were some easy picks and some much harder, every country is diverse and mixed with different cultures so deciding on one staple dish is more of a difficult choice.

Let us know in the comments below where you are from and what you consider your country’s national dish.

 

Baking Minute: bread week with the Canadian Baking Show

The second episode of the Canadian Baking Show focused on one of my favourite things — bread! The bakers were challenged to make some of the most difficult and technical kinds of bread, while still including a unique and personal flare on their creations. I was excited to watch this episode as bread is, unfortunately, not something I have mastered.

The first challenge was to make Focaccia, a fluffy Italian flatbread seasoned with oil, herbs, and various vegetables, meats, or cheeses. It’s a delicate bread — the dough must have even air pockets and too many toppings can turn this dish into a pizza. I was enthralled with Julian D’Entremont’s baking this week. His use of Nova Scotian dulse, a kind of seaweed, was really inspiring and representative of his hometown of Halifax. I loved that other bakers were trying it out while their breads cooked. At the end of the day, I think the unofficial winner of this particular challenge was Sabrina Degni, whose Focaccia was inspired by her Italian grandmother, and Linda Longson, who used rosemary-infused oil and sea salt for an absolutely gorgeous and simply delicious bread.

The technical challenge was, of course, the Montreal-style bagel. I thought this challenge would be easier, but I’ve since learned that bagels are deceiving. First you have to kneed the dough, but not over-kneed it. Then boil it in honey water. Then dry it. And then FINALLY you cook it. There are so many ways it could go wrong, even the bakers from Quebec had a hard time. The judges wouldn’t even try James Hoyland’s bagel as it was raw. Poor guy.

The showstopper challenge was to create a bread centrepiece with a sweet filling. I have to say, there is a huge difference between how these bakers performed last week and this week. Maybe it took them a while to get used to the cameras being in their faces or to get used to the tent-in-a-field atmosphere, but the final products of this challenge were a lot more put together and clean than the cake challenge in the premiere.

What was even better than the final product was the reaction of the bakers. When the judges cut into the bread and they saw how it looked in the inside, whether a bunch of even layers of filling or swirls of fruit. They were so proud! While there were a lot of amazing creations, my personal favourite was Julian’s, who made some mouth-watering cinnamon buns with a Kraken in the middle. Oh, and he also had fried bread as tentacles!

There has been some criticism about the judging of the Canadian Baking Show, and I do agree that at times it can get repetitive, especially during the technical challenge where they just keep repeating the words “crispy”, “soft”, and “chewy”. But, I was rather impressed with the commentary in the Focaccia challenge. The judges gave advice to the bakers, patiently explaining what went wrong and what went right. I’m hoping the judging gets a bit more creative as more contestants leave and there is more television time for this part of the show.

The winner of bread week was Sabrina, who rocked all three challenges and created a really unique centrepiece with a weaved bread basket. The person who left this week was Sinclair Shuit of London Ont. (hometown of Winnipeg), whose centrepiece pear puff pastry wasn’t cooked enough to please the judges.

Next week is dessert week…God help me!

Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments below! In the meantime, I’m going to go and eat a muffin…or some french toast…or maybe just a whole loaf of bread.

Five unique desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth in Toronto

There are so many options when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth in Toronto. Thanks to a solid mix of culturally diverse and ethnically-diverse foods, Toronto is home to a global array of sweets. Women’s Post recommends these five unique desserts to try in the city.

Bubble Tea – Taiwan

I’m still amazed when I meet someone who has never tried Bubble Tea before. This magical treat comes in many versions and variations — from creamy iced milk-tea to fruity light teas, all with added tapioca (the bubbles) or substituted for chewy coconut or lychee jelly bits. At some places, there is the option of adding pudding or grass jelly. Bubble Tea originated in Taiwan and there are Taiwanese shops or specialty bubble tea stores almost on every street corner in Toronto. Try places like ChaTime or CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice.

Going for Chatime classics or the new twilight drink in the middle? #chatime #delicious

A post shared by Chatime USA (@chatime.usa) on

Halo Halo – Philippines 

After always hearing about this popular Filipino dessert, I finally got my hands on one this summer. Its principle is rather similar to a snow-cone, but this isn’t just any ordinary shaved ice treat. Traditional halo-halo comes with shaved ice, evaporated milk, various fruits, boiled sweet beans, shaved coconut pieces, custard, and a topping of ice cream. You can also get unique flavours like ube or mango. When I had my halo treat, I was lucky enough to get it from a Filipino food-truck called the Crane Express. But check out other Filipino restaurants in the city that may offer this treat as a dessert.

Austrian Cheese Bun- Austria

Austrian Cheese Buns are a speciality treat made of homemade bread often filled with a sweetened cream cheese. The Guschlbauer is a traditional Austrian brand that dates back to 1919 and they opened their first North American location in downtown Toronto this summer. The buns are made fresh daily and the cream cheese is imported from Australia and New Zealand. The buns take almost three hours to prepare as they are carefully crafted with five layers of melted cream cheese. It’s almost like a cheesecake infused in a soft pillowy bun. Try flavours like original, mango , strawberry, chocolate and even sweet potato.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXENSjngZ0F/?taken-by=guschlbauerto

Nitrogen Ice-cream- United States

Regular ice-cream is just so passe, (just kidding)  but if you are looking to try a unique take on ice cream , try some nitrogen ice cream. While Dippin’ Dots was once poised to be the future of ice-cream, many creative innovations have come along. This innovative way of preparing the dessert involves infusing the creamy ice cream base with liquid nitrogen to whip up your frozen treat in seconds. Try places like Lab Sense or Cool N2 Canada. You can get traditional flavours like mango, strawberry triple Oreo or try something wild like Super-Frozen Cheetos!

This is the taste of summer sunshine ☀️ #cooln2downtown #nitrogenicecream

A post shared by CoolN2(Nitrogen Ice Cream) (@cooln2canada) on

Uji Matcha Tiramisu- Japan

This tiramisu is a twist on the classic Italian dessert, but it’s sure to not disappoint. Essentially you’re trading your espresso for some matcha green tea. This matcha cake will combine layers and flavours you did not think possible. The Cheese Garden in North York offers traditional Japanese treats, and recently they launched the Uji Matcha Tiramisu to celebrate their one year anniversary. The tiramisu comes with a top dusting of matcha straight from Uji, then a layer of melted cream cheese followed by layers of matcha flavoured lady fingers. This creamy and cheesy treat will only be around for a limited time.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaaNk8nF02k/?taken-by=cheesegarden_ca

Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

5 must-have treats for your next Halloween party

If you’re planning a fun Halloween party this year and you’re looking to add some themed party bits to your food and drink menu, Women’s Post suggests these five treats that are bound to creep your friends out.

Creepy Cheesy Eyeballs

These sure do look gross, but these eyeballs taste amazing. Just take individual mini wheels of cheese, for instance, Babybel and place half of an olive right in the middle (you can use green or black). To make the veins of the eyeballs, take a toothpick dipped in red food colour and lightly carve in the red creepy veins around the olive stretching out to the ends of the cheese. You can fill in the middle of the olive with more food colour or another sliver of olive.

 

Image by Steve’s Kitchen

Dragon’s Blood Halloween Punch

This can be made with or without alcohol and the base is simple. In your punch bowl, combine cranberry juice, red fruit punch, apple juice, ginger-ale, ice and the optional berry vodka. To add some creepy-chunky texture add some crushed raspberries on top.

Image courtesy of The Food Network

Tangerine Pumpkins

This is is such a a classic and easy Halloween party snack to prepare. Peel small tangerines and leave them whole. Take one stalk of celery and cut into one-inch stems. Simply stick the stem into the tangerine and you have the cutest and juiciest pumpkins ever!

Image courtesy of Cooking Light

Bloody Cake

There are so many possibilities when designing a bloody cake or cupcakes. The best mix to use is red-velvet, so you have that deep red colour when you slice in. To decorate, cover the cake in white frosting and decorate with drops of red blood running down the sides, a bloody handprint, or even bloody claw marks.

Image by Butter Hearts Sugar

Bloody Shirley Temple

Who doesn’t love Shirley Temples? Add an extra bit of fun by putting the shot of Grenadine in a plastic syringe. Present your cup of sprite and leave it up to your willing subject to inject the bloody grenadine into their drink.

Image by This Grandma Is Fun

 

Happy Halloween and let us know what treats you have in mind! Comment below

Recipe: vegan apple crumble

Despite the sprinkling of snow this week, it’s still too early to call this season winter. That means there is still time to indulge in your favourite fall desserts. The smell of roasted squash, sweetened fruit, and perhaps a bit of pumpkin spice is too much to resist. I will literally follow that smell to the nearest bakery or coffee shop. There is something addictive about these flavours, and I’m not ready to give them up just yet!

My personal favourite is an apple crisp or an apple crumble. There is a great recipe for a vegan (with gluten-free options) version of this fantastic dessert, provided to Women’s Post by Avra Epstein, founder of Love Wild Live Free. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Recipe Apple Crumble Pie (gluten-free option)

Yield: 1 pie (9”) or 4 mini pies (4.5”)

Ingredients

Pie Dough:

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour (see notes below on making this gluten-free)

1/3 cup *cold* unrefined coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

4 tablespoon *ice cold* water

Filling:

4 apples (about 1 + 1/2 lbs), peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup coconut sugar (or other vegan sugar)

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon true cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

Crumble Topping:

1/2 tsp true cinnamon

1/2 cup rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour

1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar

1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, softened

The tiniest pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Optional finishing touch:

1 tbsp unsweetened plant-based milk (I used rice milk)

1 tsp turbinado cane sugar

(use organic ingredients)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

Prepare the Pie Crust:

  1. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or fork), cut in chunks of cold coconut oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add in water 1 tablespoon at a time and gently mix until dough comes together (not to worry if it doesn’t form right away, the dough should come together when it is kneaded).
  3. Use your hands to gently knead/form the dough and gather any loose scraps.
  4. Transfer to a well floured surface and form into a disk shape. If you’re making 4 mini pies, divide dough into 4 and form each portion into a disk shape.
  5. Lightly flour the top of the dough, as well as your rolling pin and roll into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer to your pie dish and form crust moving from the middle of the dish, outwards to the rim of the dish. Repeat if making 4 mini pies.

Note: This dough is very forgiving, it may break when you transfer it to the dish, but you can easily press it back together.

Prepare the Filling:

  1. Combine apple filling ingredients in a large bowl – you can use the same bowl that you made the crust in to save time on clean up! Add filling to the pie dish(es), make sure not to include any excess liquid.

Prepare the Crumble Topping:

  1. Combine crumble ingredients in a small bowl. Top the apple mixture in the pie dish(es) with the topping.

Final steps:

  1. Optional: Lightly brush plant-based milk on any exposed pie crust on the rim of the pie dish(es) and sprinkle a small amount of turbaned cane sugar on top.
  2. Place pie dish(es) onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Check after the first 20 minutes and keep an eye on the topping and crust thereafter to make sure that it doesn’t overcook.

Serve warm. Pairs well with a scoop of dairy-free ice cream or coconut whip cream.

A Note on making this Gluten Free

The flour: I have tested out a number of gluten-free flours over the years and I’ve found the best results with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (GMO-free). I like to avoid gluten-free flour mixes that contain conventional potato and corn starch. Be wary of non-organic potato and corn as these are are grown with pesticides and are commonly genetically modified.

The oats: Oats are gluten-free by nature, but are sometimes contaminated during processing or even in the field during production. If you are celiac or have a gluten sensitivity, be sure to select oats that have a “gluten-free” label on the packaging.

 

Avra Epstein publishes organic vegan lifestyle living resources on her blog lovewildlivefree.com where she shares everything from nutritious recipes, to health & wellness information, while showcasing the best of Toronto vegan businesses and local food along the way. Her meal-time inspiration, with an emphasis on healing foods, will make you feel good, inside and out! LoveWildLiveFree was recently featured on Blog TO’s list as one of “15 Instagram accounts for Toronto vegans to follow.”

Blue Diamond Growers put love into Almond Breeze

“The almond is a very versatile product.”

No one exudes passion for a nut quite like Mel Machado. Machado is the director of members relations at Blue Diamond Growers, and is as invested in the business as any almond grower.

A farmer himself, Machado says you either love it, or you don’t. “Farming is a system and by that, there are no independent actions that don’t have reactions somewhere else,” he said. “It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world. It takes vision and strength to be a good farmer.”

But the one thing about almond growing in California is that Blue Diamond values the input of every single one of the people working the fields — something that can’t be said about most companies.

Blue Diamond Almond Growers are part of one of the oldest cooperatives in the United States. It was created in 1910 with the intention of giving growers more power in the marketplace and improving the quality of the product. Today, there are over 3,000 growers in the cooperative and every single one of the farmers who market through Blue Diamond is considered an owner.

The important thing to remember about Blue Diamond is that quality is their number one priority. It’s an incredibly family-centric industry, meaning the almonds are grown with love and respect. Some of the growers come from three to four generations of farmers, and each one is invested in the cooperative. In fact, Machado makes a point to introduce the corporate members of Blue Diamond to these farmers so they understand all that goes into making such a delicious product.

In 2013, the cooperative opened the Blue Diamond Almond Innovation Centre, which is the world’s first and only research center dedicated to almond product innovation. It’s through this centre the company comes up with its new ideas. In fact, Almond Breeze, the dairy-free beverage, is a product of the cooperative’s Innovation Centre.  It’s there that different flavours and uses for the product are explored and tested. This includes beverages, snacks, crackers, and of course, traditionally flavoured nuts. Some of Machado’s favourite flavours (as well as his dog’s) are sweet thai chilli and wasabi soy.

The most popular products are, of course, the Almond Breeze beverages. Each one is smooth and creamy with a unique flavour that doesn’t overpower the delicious natural taste of almonds. It’s a great option for lactose-intolerant and vegan customers who still require a source of calcium and vitamins.

My personal favourite is the Unsweetened Almond Coconut drink! It has fewer calories than regular milk, contains the healthy fats and nutrients I need for my day, and tastes absolutely divine on my morning oatmeal!

You can find the Original and Vanilla Almond Breeze (sweetened and unsweetened) in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, but make sure to check the self-stable products on the shelves to find the chocolate and coconut flavours.

Wondering how to use your dairy-free beverages? Try a Key Lime Pie Smoothie:

For more recipes, go here!

Key Lime Pie Smoothie

Prep Time: 10 minutes                              Cook Time: 0 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Almond Breeze® Unsweetened Vanilla
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) lime zest
  • 5 ice cubes
  • Lime wedges (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Directions

In blender, combine Almond Breeze, avocado, spinach, maple syrup, lime juice, lime zest and ice; purée until smooth.

If desired, rim 2 glasses with fresh lime and dip into toasted coconut.

Nutrition Facts

Per 1/2 recipe: Calories 190, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Fibre 2g, Sugars 20g, Protein 2g