The art of writing an introduction to blog posts… Still don’t have it down, but let’s begin!
I quickly mentioned in my last post that I went to a health food expo, Expo manger santé, here in Quebec last weekend. It was a great event promoting healthy foods and raisin awareness of healthy eating habits and lifestyles. It was really an interesting thing to attend! There were culinary demos, seminars held by health experts, as well as hundreds of booths promoting their products.
I was really excited to walk around and see what the vendors had to offer, as well as find some new products to try out! It was very crowded at one point, so getting some quality time in to talk to the vendors about their products was kind of tricky, but I did manage to discover some new products and brands that suit my allergies and requirements, as well as talking to some of the vendors from my favourite brands.
Here are a few of the booths that I got the chance to talk to some of the vendors. Just as an FYI, there were many more booths that I stopped by with my girlfriend, but I couldn’t enjoy their product because of my allergies, therefore she did for me. Each of the brands has their site hyperlinked, so feel free to click on their names to visit their pages. I am not sponsored to do so, but this was a great chance for me to learn about new brands, and I want to be able to share these with you!
For the coffee lovers out there, I’m always looking for great coffee to satisfy my kind of obsessional need of caffeine. I usually get my coffee in Ottawa at Ideal Coffee, a small independent roaster, on Dalhousie, in the Byward Market. I’m actually surprised that my bag I brought home back in the beginning of March is still half full (I make on average 3 cups of coffee a day, 2 for me, 1 for my lovely girlfriend), however after last weekend, I’m definitely going to get my hands on some coffee roasted by Santropol, all organic and fair trade. We got the chance to taste some of their coffees while walking about the expo, and I’m hooked! I like my coffee dark and strong, so I tried their Colombie Noir, which has citrus and dark chocolate notes, and my girlfriend tried the Guatemala Noir (tart and bracing), allongé, which I have learnt is a little different and more of a trend here in Quebec, but basically a longer shot of espresso…think of your Americano at Starbucks. They have multiple different kinds, so take a look at their website to see what they stock and where they sell!
Now that we have coffee covered, let’s move on to what follows that first cup of joe in the morning, breakfast! Now, I have been jonesing for a grilled cheese sandwich for over a year now, but I can never find a bread that I can actually buy at the grocery store, or make without crumbling or being a complete fail. I discovered Maison Cannelle, a company that makes gluten-free dishes, breads and desserts, that are also lactose-free. The even better thing about this, is that they have a few breads that don’t have eggs! I was pretty much jumping with joy. They do make products with nuts and eggs, so I would caution to be careful when purchasing their products, always read labels, and if in doubt, they are pretty fast with their emails (I’ve contacted them this week). Carting a loaf of bread was kind of out of the option for me on Sunday, since the girlfriend was already carrying the swag bag, coats, and sometimes my purse, I decided that I’d buy their egg substitute (click here) that I will be testing out this following week! In many of my older posts, I’ve talked about ways to substitute eggs in recipes by using ingredients already on hand, such as milk, yogurt, chia and flax eggs, apple sauce, etc. This time, I thought I’d try out a “real” egg substitute. Keep an eye out for the trial recipe in the following weeks!
When I was looking at the list of booths that were going to be there, I made it clear to my dad (the Wallet that came up to visit for the expo) and my girlfriend that I needed to go to GoGo Quinoa’s booth. Honestly, this brand has been one of my all time favourite brands since I went gluten-free. I used to eat quinoa before, but since cutting out gluten completely, I found that not only GoGo Quinoa makes quinoa flours (check out my Chaï Tea Quinoa Muffins), quinoa flakes (great in crumbles and anything with oats), pasta, pilafs, cookies (their chocolate chip cookies are definitely the best out there), etc. I could probably go on for ages about their products, but I’ll save that for another day! I’ve tried many of their products, and have blogged about them quite often. So when I went up to their booth, I practically did a happy dance for them to express my love of their products. I had a nice chat with two girls manning the booth, telling them all about my blog and allergies, and how I was trying to make a difference in the lives of those that have allergies and intolerances. The girls were so amazing that they offered me two products that I had never tried, so I could test and blog about them!!! I picked up a pancake mix (ya’ll know my love for pancakes) and a new product they just released the week before, Tex Mex Burger mix! I have a post coming up this weekend about their pancake mix (MUST TRY); their burger mix will wait a little, since I’m still working on the frozen batch of black bean burgers I made last week.
A big big big thank you to the girls that were at the booth on Sunday in Quebec City. You girls truly made my day, and receiving free swag to be able to share with you my recipes for healthy eats makes me the happiest girl. I am not sponsored, but I really mean it when I say go try their products. They have a big social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and they share recipes and have contests for their prodcuts from time to time.
I’ve tried keeping this post relatively short, but I am not succeeding.
Next up, popcorn! I cannot say no to popcorn, and recently I’ve been really let down by my popcorn popper. Or well, I thought it was my air popper that was the problem. Inari, a company that specialized in organic products, had an air popper at their booth and were giving out free popcorn. I finally got the chance to try something without fear of an allergic reaction, and to give a break to my girlfriend who had by that point tested too many weird combos. I was surprised by the lack of unpopped kernels and the amazing fresh taste of this popcorn! I talked briefly to the rep at the booth, who I think was the regional rep in Quebec, and asked him about my lackluster popcorn. He said that the problem wasn’t my popper, but the grains! I’ve been purchasing No Name and Orville kernels to pop, and it’s usually a ration of 1 popped to 5 unpopped. He handed me a bag of popcorn and told me that the difference is in the quality of the kernel and that I should try organic kernels. I bought a bag (500g for 3$), which was a little less expensive than what you’d find at the grocery store, and gave it a try last night. O-M-G. There were 6 unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bowl, and it tasted so good that you practically don’t need any butter! I am definitely sold! As I type this, I’m realizing that this popcorn would be perfect for my White Chocolate and Popcorn cookies (recipe posted in December).
So, if you yourself are having problems with your air popper, try switching kernels!
Lastly, staying in the stream of desserts and snacks, we found Mother Hen / Mère Poule’s booth, a maker of organic sorbets that are dairy free, gluten free, nut and peanut free, and egg free! Finding a dessert for a sweet tooth, that is relatively healthy, as well as certified organic, is hard, but fret not, we taste tested and approved of this brand! We tried the mango and strawberry sorbets, and we were both satisfied and wanting more! Fresh, light and healthy, who wouldn’t be satisfied?! If you see these in your organic/bio isle in the frozen section, I definitely recommend picking up a tub! They have pear, mango, strawberry, raspberry, tropical, and fieldberry flavours, and they all look delicious!!!
I understand that I failed at the whole “brief description of my weekend outing”, but I really wanted to share with you my finds! If you’ve made it this far, congrats! I’m also going to add a list of other brands that are worth checking out, that I’ve personally tried and would buy for myself.
I would also like to write a little disclaimer before I sign off. Yes I am a student, and yes, I still get funding from The Wallet (my dad) and my mom, but it still means that I live on a student budget. When it comes to grocery shopping, I’ve had many friends tell me that I spend way more money on foods than they do, and it’s because I’m slightly snobbing the products and only buying organic and bio.
I want to make a point here: NO, I’m not a snob. I stay out of the processed food isles at the groceries, since I can’t eat 3/4 of what is sold because of my allergies.
I’m not always happy, nor do I agree, with some of the packaging and pricing techniques used by some brands, when it comes to food alternatives that are safe for me, but I don’t really have a choice.
When you have an allergy that is fairly easy to avoid, such as nuts and peanuts, it’s easy to navigate and find products that are safe, mostly because companies are aware of these allergies and make a point of catering to them. However, when you are faced with several allergies, that combined eliminate many of the common brands, you’re stuck having to go to the pricier alternative. And sometimes these alternatives are even healthier than the “regular” ones.
All that to say that, yes I do spend more money on my food, but it’s by choice and also by necessity. Those of you who are faced with this reality will understand, and for those that are lucky enough to be able to eat whatever you choose, I’m writing this for you, so you can understand and maybe help out those around you that are not as fortunate in the food department.
Alright, I am done! Have an amazing weekend lovelies!
List of interesting brands to check out
Covered Bridge (for your sweet potato chip cravings)
Giddy Yoyo (for your organic food products and chocolates, gluten, nut, and egg free)
Natur-a (for your soy/almond/rice beverages)
SOS Cuisine ( membership based meal planning, grocery list builder, recipe database and more)
Soyummi (organic, lactose free, soy and coconu milk based smoothies, puddings, and other desserts)
Le Vieux Balsamique (Quebec aged and embellished balsamic vinegar)
Trois Fois Par Jour ( Quebecois blogger that has amazing recipes and resources)