Muhamarra

A few years ago when I was in school taking studying Holistic Nutrition, I met a beautiful chef who shared the same love of food as I do (albeit not vegan food but I adore her nonetheless).  Her name is Christina and among many other things she is a Red Seal chef, Holistic Nutritionist and operates a gorgeous blog  www.honeyandvanilla.com

Throughout my time at CSNN she introduced me to several simple and delicious recipes. I had never experienced Muhamarra before she passed on the recipe and I was over the moon excited once I tried it. This dip works with anything- cucumbers, baked sweet potato medallions, crackers, bread, whatever!

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Pomegranates are a fruit that contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help to improve the skin, bone quality, digestion, cardiovascular health and much more!!!

I have used this spread numerous times for different types of get togethers or holiday parties and it is perfect for this time of year. What screams HOLIDAYS more than pomegranate?…aside from a spiced rum and holly nog 😉

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So please do not skip out on the pomegranate molasses. If you don’t know already it has so many uses and tastes delicious. Buy the large bottle (stick with me) and I will help you figure out how to use it!

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Muhamarra

Created by HoneyandVanilla.com

1.5 cups walnuts (lightly roasted)

12oz jar roasted red pepper (or if roasting yourself then use 2 bell peppers)

1/4 cup EVOO

2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp honey

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried chili flakes

salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt. Allow  to rest in fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Cut up you favorite veggies or pita bread and serve on the side.

Quick Tip: Scoop muhamarra dip into a large Ziploc bag and then cut a small opening in one corner to create a piping bag!

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To create the sweet potato medallions I used a thin sweet potato to start, peeled it and then cut into equal slices. Lay them on a baking sheet coated with a small amount of olive oil and bake at 350 for approx. 20-25 mins (turning half way through)

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Also great served simply as a dip for raw veggies…

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Eating…Vacation-style!

Greetings from Tofino!

I feel like this is more of a postcard than a blog post but lets just run with it 😉

We have been here almost two weeks and life is darn good on this side of the our beautiful country. The weather has been slowly improving however I am just about done with having to suit up 2 kids in wetsuits (somehow they miraculously turn into jellyfish when I try to push through their limbs…arghhh). However any complaints out here is better than a great day elsewhere!

I have had alot of free time in the evenings to indulge in fun things (other than being in the kitchen) and I love to share things that I think are awesome! I finished this book, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, you must read. I finished the entire season of Netflix’s newest show Orange Is The New Black, you must watch…but be advised this is not for minors…or prudes 🙂 I also discovered one of the most fantastic food blogs EVER, Thug Kitchen www.thugkitchen.com…you must check it out. Again not for children since every post is laced with “bad” words but totally hilarious and full of great information.

For this trip we have been staying at a house on Chesterman Beach and the kitchen set up is pretty fantastic considering I have slightly high standards in that department.  I realized that I really enjoy stocking up a new kitchen, determining the essentials and then creating dishes from the basics.  Every morning I bike into the closest market and pick up a few fresh items like avocados or cilantro for the days meals.  It’s a way of life I could get used too 🙂

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Most mornings have started with the most amazing bread ever, from 600 Degree Bakery, along with avocado slices and a flax milk tea latte. The kids are finding their own way around the kitchen and grabbing fruit or raisin toast for breakfast when they are ready. We seem to be splitting our time between the ocean and our new favorite hot spot, Kennedy Lake.  So packing beach lunches into a mini cooler has become a routine this past week.  I have been making everything from smoked tofu rice wraps, tortillas stuffed with avocado, rice and hummus to carrot & apple coleslaw with chick peas.

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Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest I have stumbled upon a super easy and tasty substitution for pasta that I have made for dinner a few times. Sweet potato “noodles” are quicker to make than regular noodles, are totally gluten-free and look WAY prettier 😉 The cooking instructions are simple: using a vegetable peeler (or a julienne peeler of you have one handy) peel sweet potato, heat a small amount of oil/butter in a large frying pan (I used Earth Balance), toss the potato and some sea salt into the pan and sauté for approximately 5-10 mins depending on the thickness of your sweet potato pieces.  Done.  You can eat just as it is (which is the way the kids prefer) or add a tomato sauce. You’re welcome!

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But I do not want to mislead you to think that I have been making ALL of our food on my vacation! We have been eating out plenty…more than we ever do in our regular life. My new favorite eating spot in Tofino, Sobo. I have read numerous article about their delicious approach to sophisticated flavours in a very laid back setting and as it turns out everything I read was true!  Their lentil burger with kale chips was out of this world good and the polenta fries were inspiring. My favorite dish so far  is the Cold Noodle salad which is a combination of Soba noodle, peanut Thai dressing, fresh veggies and a gorgeous greens blend that they refer to as the “Nanoose Edibles”. But an honourable mention to their Tofu pockets with Shiitake  mushrooms. Yum!

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The things coming out of their kitchen should be available to everyone, in any city, and any country. Local, seasonal, whole foods converted into delicious combinations by clearly talented people…what a clever idea!

I can’t forget to mention another new obsession here in Tofino and that is the newly opened juice and smoothie joint, The Juicery. Located just steps away from the Tacofino truck, The Juicery offers amazing fruit and veggie juices and totally delicious smoothies. The bonus is the options. You can substitute coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk or add Vega One protein powder, spirulina or even bee pollen. If you are here then you need to pay them a visit.

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So as my love affair with Tofino continues, I shall be heading home this week to the one place I love more than anywhere…my kitchen!

See you next week.

Emily

Tofino Food & Wine Festival

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It has taken me a few days to even bring my feet back down to reality from my Tofino trip.  I now understand that I probably drank too much wine, didn’t eat enough food (go figure) and could have used a bit more sleep. So basically what I am saying is that I had a wonderful time 🙂

I could not even begin to explain all of the interesting people that I met, whether at the festival, the market or just grabbing my morning tea latte. Each of them full of unique experiences that individually brought them to Tofino either for the weekend, for the short-term or for their lifetime. Tofino is ultimately a destination for complete and total relaxation. The locals live it everyday and the transients wish they could take a piece of it home with them when they leave. At times Tofino feels like it is completely cut off from the rest of the world, with a constant vibe of being exactly where you are supposed to be. You cannot go much further west in Canada and perhaps Mother Nature saves the very best for those brave enough to venture to the “edge” if you will…this is a road trip not for the faint of heart (a mini “Road to Hanna” if you know what I mean)! Although I have been told the way to get into Tofino is by plane, you cannot discount the incredible scenery seen only from your car window that organically brings you back to Nature. Before I get into my indulgences of the Food & Wine Festival, I would be doing Tofino an injustice if I neglected to explain the shear beauty that is their landscape. The endless beaches, the enormous forested trails, the raging ocean and the tranquil inlets are unlike any other place you have ever been. True story.

An early morning on Chesterman Beach

An early morning on Chesterman Beach

The 11th Annual Tofino Food & Wine Festival  was hosted by the Tofino Botanical Gardens. Having been lucky enough to visit the gardens on lasts year’s summer vacation, I already knew of its endless paths & boardwalks and its magical fusion of nature, art and whimsy. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see how the 12 acres of garden, forest and shoreline graciously lent itself as the backdrop to the hundreds of guests that showed up to indulge in the local fare and spectacular wines.

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Kira and her team put together an event that is so well organized and inviting. Strolling outdoors down winding paths, you didn’t have to go very far between steps to get a wine sample or be entertained by either the people, the music, or the laid back atmosphere. Around every corner of the garden there were men and women talking, laughing, eating…and yes, drinking!

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One of the favourite hangouts of the afternoon seemed to be down by the abandoned fishing boat “Evian”, where DJ Kevin lured the masses with his awesome beats.  And to spite the fact that dancing midday atop a fishing boat, drink in hand and soaking up the sunshine, is not my regular routine, I did so happily! After all it was my intent to experience all parts of the festival 😉

Myself (L) and my new friend Camille (R) partaking in the festivities

Myself (L) and my new friend Camille (R) partaking in the festivities

Lastly I want to give a HUGE shout out to Schooner’s Restaurant! Mare, her family and her staff worked tirelessly before, during and after the festival to host the Cocktail Show, The BBQ and fill our bellies with some amazing food. As well as keeping the party going long after the tents of the festival were brought down! Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

Leaving Tofino on Sunday was not easy, the tug of “reality” pulling me back down the winding road. But not before I got a few photos, tasted some incredible food & wine and met a handful of memorable characters that made my weekend what it was…awesome!

I cannot wait until next year.

Here are a few of my Tofino MUSTS:

  • Tofino Vacation Rentals– there are definitely a few wonderful hotel options in Tofino but once you experience one of TVR’s luxury rental homes, its hard to go back! Michele and the rest of the team, make it so effortless and relaxing to slip into your vacation. I would totally recommend their services.
  • Tof Cycles– There is no greater way to explore Tofino than on a bike. The bike paths are fantastic and the downtown core is packed full of places to park your bike while you walk around. Riding a cruiser bike along the shoreline is an experience you don’t want to miss. Marc and his wife Adi are so lovely and will deliver your bikes right to where you are staying.
  • Tacofino- You don’t need to hear this from me (they already have a large reputation) but no one travels to Tofino in the summer without getting in line to enjoy the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G tacos and burritos from this food truck. Although they have now ventured into Vancouver with a restaurant and food truck, nothing comes close to biking over after a full day at the beach to grab your grub while still in your bathing suit!
  • Tofino Public Market– Every Saturday local vendors gather in the park for you to enjoy the unique goods that Tofino has to offer. In particular, you must stop in to see Kate Koreski and her incredible handmade jewelry. So beautiful and one-of-a-kind. Also if you like bread, Six Hundred Degrees bakery creates some incredible baked goods using ancient grains and using traditional techniques that separates them from everyone else. SO yummy!
  • Green Soul Organics– this tiny local grocery store has all the familiar products that big commercial grocery stores don’t. Anyone that has a dairy-free, gluten-free or meat-free lifestyle will love the selection here. Plus, they have tonnes of fresh organic produce and make awesome smoothies.

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Don’t forget to checkout the Tofino Food & Wine Festival on Facebook to see more great photos!

I will be back on Sunday with another Simple Summer Recipe