Hot Chocolat

Don’t worry! The ‘e’ is not missing from Chocolate. It’s the French pronunciation or the name of a movie. Or both.

So it’s winter. Dark, frosty, slushy, cold. You know what warms me up? A big cup of hot chocolate. With the occasional marshmallow.

In this blog post I want to review my fave hot chocolate brand and compare it with another brand I recently bought.

Duff roll please!

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What I love about Green and Black’s hot chocolate is 1) It’s fair trade. As in farmers who grow and process the cocoa are paid a premium for their labour. It’s the way business should be done!

2) Not so sweet but a lot more chocolatey: Unlike regular hot chocolates like Cadbury or the other brand I’m reviewing (Camino), there is no excessive sugar or sweetness. Rather you would have to add the amount of sugar you want. That’s what I like about my food. That I can control the amount of sugar (or salt) I put into it and Green and Black’s allows me that option.

Here are the ingredients: Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Fat-Reduced Cocoa Powder, Organic Dark Chocolate Powder (Organic Chocolate Liquor, Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, (Emulsifier), Organic Vanilla Extract.

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One set back is that you might need to use an extra tablespoon of hot chocolate than the regular brands to get that extra sweet kick but that’s a personal preference for me. I still prefer it above other brands because it makes the milk so chocolatey!

Price: Sorry to say I lost the receipt (at least I’m being transparent) but I think a 600 g hot chocolate jar fairs around $7-8 (from memory).

Sadly, the only place I could find this brand was in Whole Foods.

Camino 

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The other time I couldn’t find my regular G&B in Whole Foods was when we decided to try another brand. Camino milk hot chocolate.

Perks?

1. Fair trade: Like I said, the way business should be done!

2. Does cute packaging count? Its all purpley.

A family member who tried it liked it. I accidentally heaped in two tablespoons in my milk because I was still thinking in terms of G&B sweetness – as in relatively lower sweet content. I was blown away. This hot chocolate is really sweet! I’m not even sure how sweet it would taste with even 1 tbsp of chocolate powder. I felt like the taste was not as rich and chocolatey goodness as G&B.

Take a look at the ingredients list:  golden cane sugar°*, skim milk powder°, cocoa powder°*, guar gum°, sea salt, carob bean gum°, vanilla powder°. °Certified Organic. *FAIRTRADE CERTIFIED

So comparing the ingredients from G&B and Camino, I found the G&B ingredients a lot more unrefined and wholesome. The Camino milk hot chocolate powder barely has any cocoa butter or mass. However, compared to other brands like Hershey’s, Camino is a healthier option if you want fair trade and organic without loads of packed preservatives and unreadable ingredients.

Price: 6.99 at Highland Farms and Loblaws. Whole Foods always hikes up prices, which is one thing I abhor about Whole Foods. You don’t have a monopoly on organic and natural!

 Let me know of your favorite hot chocolate brand in the comments section below.

Enjoy!

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Review time! Zaytoun Grill

Hello fellow travellers,

Today I had the opportunity of dining at Zaytoun Grill and Restaurant located in the heart of Mississauga with a group of wonderful friends. I thought I would review it for my readers who would love to try out a new place (or for those who have already been to Zaytoun but want to try something new)

Zaytoun means olive in Arabic. However, Zaytoun’s menu goes beyond the famous Mediterranean olive and serves up a lot more scrumptious dishes. All items on the menu are 100% halal. Yay!

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We arrived around 15 minutes after opening so the place was, as expected, empty. Strategic of us! We were a crowd of seven and were seated right away. I’ve been here before on busier nights and unfortunately service is, as expected, a lot slower. I went to Zaytoun on New Years and found the wait terrible for our food but the server made up for it by giving us a slice of cheesecake on the house. I thought that was nice. Anyways, getting back to today. The restaurant was lit up and clean. My friends particularly liked the ambience.

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The view from our table

 Then it came to ordering. Since it was the first time for the rest of the company it took us 10 minutes to decide our order but the server checked up on us frequently.

We finally decided on the Philly cheesesteak with yam fries and regular fries and chicken penne arabiata. Both excellent choices.

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Chicken Penne Arabiata

The pasta was ordered by another friend in the group and she loved it so much she ordered a takeout box for her family at home (per their request :p). The penne is tossed in grilled chicken, fresh garlic, ricotta cheese, and spicy tomato sauce. Honestly, the chicken was so soft and juicy. The sauce with hints of garlic and spices complimented the ensemble.

The portion may look small but once you start digging to the bottom of the bowl you realize that there is enough pasta for three people!

I give this dish a 4.5 out of 5 forks.

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Philly Cheesesteak with yam fries and some tasty chipotle mayo sauce

I am and always will be a Philly cheesesteak gal! I love Zaytoun’s cheesesteak and I usually order this just to get a side of yam fries and the sauce. Which are in their own right pretty awesome.

The cheesesteak is made with new york cut steak mixed with sautéed caramelized onions and cheese served on a French baguette. Today the sandwich tasted a bit dry but when I dipped it into the mayo chipotle I was in food heaven! Every bite was juicy and oh so cheesy goodness.

I love the yam fries that go on side with the sauce but my only problem is that they get soggy rather quickly if they become cold. So they’re best eaten hot.

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Are you hungry yet?

Philly cheesesteak with regular fries

So surprisingly, I liked the regular fries better today than yam fries. They were a lot crispier and had some sort of garlic seasoning on them that paired amazingly with the chipotle sauce.

Philly Cheesesteak with fries and sauce – 4.0 out of 5 forks

Now down to pricing – Zaytoun dishes are a bit pricey. Most of the main course meals are above $10. This is one of those once in a while restaurants I like to visit to get my cheesesteak fix.

Overall, we had a wonderful time at Zaytoun Grill. There is nothing better than good company and good food to keep the palate happy.

Zaytoun grill is located on:4230 Sherwoodtowne Blvd.
Mississauga , Ontario, Canada
L4Z 2G6905.272.5357

Vanilla Bean Scones

Hello fellow travellers,

This was my first time using vanilla bean pods so it was quite an experience. Unfortunately, the pods had become quite tough so slicing through them was difficult but I persisted and was able to scrape a good amount of vanilla out. The aroma of the vanilla is unparalleled. It doesn’t even compare to the vanilla extract that we ordinarily use. However, if you cannot find vanilla beans then just substitute with vanilla extract.

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“Eat me! Eat me!”

These scones pair amazingly with tea – I had Madagascar vanilla black tea with a heaping teaspoon of honey and a scone on side. Perfect breakfast!

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Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside.

I adapted the recipe from Laura Vitale but decided to make mine whole-wheat blend with organic ingredients. I’d like to think these are a very healthy treat (in moderation of course) since the sugar is not in excess and one portion is quite filling.

Ingredients

½ cup Heavy Cream

1 Vanilla Pod, seeds scraped

1 cup whole wheat flour + 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup of organic cane sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder (preferably aluminium free)

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 egg

Egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water)

Coconut sugar, for sprinkling

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup heavy cream (35% for Canadians) and scraped vanilla bean seeds. Mix lightly and leave aside for 5 minutes. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt till well combined. Add this into standing mixer (with paddle attachment) and mix for 10-15 seconds (reassurance that everything is well combined!)
  3. Add butter and mix till the butter is combined throughly (the butter cubes should be roughly the size of a pea and spread around). You can also use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour.
  4.  Add one egg to the vanilla heavy cream mixture and whisk till combined. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and combine till you have a soft dough.
  5. Lightly flour your work surface and make a square disc shape out of the dough about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into square (4 pieces) then diagonally from both corners (you will have 8 triangular pieces)
  6. Transfer the scones onto baking sheet. Whisk one egg with 1  tbsp of water and use as egg wash to spread over the scones. Use coconut sugar (or coarse sugar) and sprinkle over the scones. Bake for 15-16 minutes but keep an eye out at the 14 minute mark because these can burn easily.

Simple and easy to make. You can whip these up the day before a lunch party because they taste so much better the day after! Impress all your family and friends with this awesome scone recipe. Enjoy!

GF: Buttermilk Blueberry Sorghum flour Pancakes

Hello fellow travellers,

I do realize the name for this recipe is rather a mouthful! But so are these wholesome pancakes. Delicious, light, and gluten free.

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Stack o’ Pancakes

I was just experimenting with gluten free flour and decided to whip up a batch of these to see how it would go. They were not as fluffy (though they were soft and moist) as I wanted but I think that might be because of the baking soda I put in. Anyways, I’m kind of obsessed these days with pancakes for breakfast. These are amazing with a healthy dolop of maple syrup (I would suggest Shady Maple Farms syrup because its organic and 100% maple – none of that Aunt Jemima high fructose corn syrup stuff).

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Bite o’ pancake

Recipe

1 cup buttermilk (I made my own – I used a little less than a cup of milk and 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice)

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup Sorghum flour +  a little more

2 tsp coconut sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup blueberries

How to assemble:

  1. To make the buttermilk, add almost one cup of milk in a large bowl and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Leave for 5 minutes. Whisk in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Incorporate flour slowly into egg/butter milk mixture. Fold in blueberries or you can also just add them into the top of the pancake while on the griddle.
  3. Heat griddle on medium heat and add butter/coconut oil (around 1 tbsp or so). Scoop pancake batter with 1/4 cup and place on griddle. Cook for few minutes each side. You will know when to flip when you see bubbles appear on the top side.

Note: Initially the batter got a bit thin on me so I had to add a little bit more sorghum flour. Make sure the batter is not thin and soupy otherwise you will get crepes. It should be a nice firm batter that is pourable.

Edit: Thanks to some reviewers who caught the typo with the baking soda. It is supposed to be baking powder!

You can serve with many things: maple syrup, honey, fruits, or whip cream. Enjoy!

GFR: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Hello my fellow travellers!

What is GFR?

Grain-free and gluten-free!

Not sure if this will become another segment on my blog but I thought I would share with you my doublexGF recipe of these delicious, homemade, wholesome pancakes.

I’m not big on grain-free/gluten free but whenever I can make something GF, I do. Grain-free flours include coconut flour, almond meal/flour, etc.

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Look how cute they are!

Recipe

These make about 4-5 medium sized pancakes.

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk + a litte more to make batter thinner

2 tsp organic cane sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4-1/2 cup gluten-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life! brand)

Instructions

  1. Whisk eggs in bowl and slowly incorporate flour. You might get a thick, sticky batter, which is when you add the milk slowly till you get a nice thin batter (it won’t be soupy but neither should it be clumpy)
  2. Add sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Heat griddle on medium heat and drop 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil till griddle is well covered. Scoop pancake batter with a 1/4 cup and cook on griddle. You should see bubbles form on the top of the pancake, meaning its ready to flip.

Note: Coconut flour has a higher fiber content than wheat flour and absorbs liquids faster, which is why the batter may not seem as runny as ordinary wheat pancake batter.

Another note on pancake flipping. I’ve had instances where I thought the pancake was ready to flip and it broke up on me. It also depends on how thick your batter is. I like to use a large spatula and small straight spatula to flip without breaking.

Finally, this recipe can be enjoyed with virtually anything. Fresh fruits, whip cream, or a glass of milk. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Spinachy-Chicken Pasta

Hello world!

Here’s the truth. I’ve never been a huge fan of pasta. Pasta is the kind of food you can throw in the pot, boil, drain, and add sauce too. Simple but bland.

However, after trying my hand and experimenting with different flavours I could add to my pasta dish, I have to say this chicken spinach pasta is delicious!

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This is my second time making this particular dish. The first time I scooped it all into a 9×13 baking dish and added cheese on top. This time I decided to keep it simple.

Ingredients

1 package whole wheat pasta

1/2 – 1 cup spinach

1 boneless chicken breast, cubed

3-4 tbsp coconut oil (you can use any oil you want)

1 onion, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tsp salt

1/2-1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 tbsp oregano

1/2-3/4 a jar of pasta sauce (1 jar is 737 ml)

Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil with salt. Boil pasta according to instructions on package on preferred tenderness. Add spinach to boiling pasta 2-3 minutes before switching stove off.
  2. On medium-high heat fry onions in coconut oil till light brown. Add chicken and fry for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through. Add garlic a 3-4 minutes after adding chicken. Add pasta sauce and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
  3. Lower heat to medium and in the pasta sauce add salt, chilli powder, oregano, and coriander powder. After an additional minute of cooking add pasta and mix well. Turn heat to low and place lid on top. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and place to cool. Enjoy!