• The Humble Saskatoon Berry

    Summer is here, and you know what that means? An over abundance of fruit - specifically, fresh berries. Berries are plentiful in the Summer months; blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, the list goes on... but there is a lesser known berry that often doesn't get the attention it deserves - the Saskatoon Berry.

    They don't just have one name, though. They are called by many things, such as the Pacific Serviceberry, Western Serviceberry, Western Juneberry, and in history they were called Pigeon Berries. I guess that's why the name changed, hmm? A Canadian city by the name of Saskatoon (located in the province of Saskatchewan) was even named after the berry of the same name!

    Just where would you find these berries, anyway? Actually, if you live in Western Canada or in the North Western U.S, they are quite a common Summer berry, and depending on where you are exactly, you can usually find them from the early to late Summer.

    But what do you do with them and what do they taste like? Well, their flavour is complicated to describe, but many describe them as sweet and slightly nutty and reminiscent of blueberries, dark cherries, and the nuttiness of almonds. You can eat them raw right off the plant, or you can use them in the same way as you would any other berry - pies, preserves, beverages, and if you find them dried, they can be used in cereals and trail mixes just like a dried cranberry or raisin!

    So if you're in the North West, keep a look out - these little berries pack a flavorful punch and should be on your list of interesting foods to try!
  • Easter's On It's Way!

    Easter is coming early this year, and when people think of Easter they often think of those store bought chocolate bunnies and plastic Easter eggs. But how about making your own Easter treats this year? Below are some of my favorite recipes!

    How about these adorable No-Bake Egg Nest cookies made by Chef In Training? They are made with chow mein noodles and chocolate and are super cute with the addition of Mini Eggs and Marshmallow Peeps.

    What about these uber sweet Bunny Ear cupcakes from Your Cup Of Cake made with marshmallows and pink sugar? These are just darling, aren't they? What a festive way to finish off any sort of cupcake!

    These Rainbow Bars by Bloom Designs are the perfect splash of soft pastel hues to brighten up your Easter! Made with Fruit Loops instead of Rice Krispies, they would definitely be a kid-friendly favorite!

    I am SO in love with these chocolate covered strawberries by Candiquik! Instead of dipping them in milk or dark chocolate, they've been dipped in orange chocolate to make them look like cute lil' carrots.

    What about you guys? What's your favorite Easter treat? Let me know in the comments below!
  • Time For Tea!

    If you're anything like me, you spend the majority of those cold and blustery Winter months sipping on a nice cup of tea. There is just something about it that's so comforting, and whether it's a cup of Orange Pekoe in the afternoon or a mug of Green Tea & Lemongrass at night, all tea is good tea.

    The types of tea are endless, though, but my old standby never lets me down. I'm talking a nice cup of Earl Grey. I'm set.

    What is Earl Grey exactly? Well, aside from being Jean Luc Picard's life blood, Earl Grey is simply a type of black tea with the addition of oil of bergamot - a type of fragrant citrus fruit. It's a delightful mix, really, and in the last few years you can even find varieties that feature Green and Oolong tea as opposed to Black tea.

    There are all sorts of variations! Some varieties, such as French Earl Grey, feature flowers such as rose petals. In Russian Earl Grey, you might find citrus peel or lemongrass. 

    Now, I like to add a touch of vanilla sugar and milk to my hot Earl Grey, but everyone has their own preferences. It's lovely to sip on a cold afternoon with some tea cookies, but it's also a wonderful addition to recipes, such as truffles, hot beverages, baked goods, and sauces.

    Have you ever had a London Fog? It's a hot beverage that tastes truly magical. When I worked as a barista, many people often called them a Fruit Loop, because it smelled very reminiscent of the cereal of the same name.

    Image credit: Gimme Some Oven
    Image Credit: Gimme Some Oven

    You take some steamed or heated milk, steep your Earl Grey tea bag in it, and then add a shot of vanilla syrup. Essentially, it is an Earl Grey Latte. Super simple, but oh-so good.

    How about some London Fog Shortbread?

    Image Credit: Oleander & Palm 
    Image credit: Oleander & Palm

    These shortbread cookies have Earl Grey tea leaves baked right into them! The tea leaves actually have a very delicate crunch to them - much like biting into poppy seeds. Definitely a must try!

    Are you a fan of Earl Grey? How do you like to drink it? If you aren't a fan, what's your favourite kind of tea to sip on? I'd love to hear.

  • The Mysterious Pomegranate

    One of my favorite parts about the cooler months of the year is finally being able to get my hands on a ripe and delicious pomegranate. Who doesn't love to grab a big ole handful of those ruby reds and shove them in their mouth, anyways?

    Pomegranates have a reputation for being exotic, juicy, and delicious, but do you know what they also have a reputation for? Being a little tedious.

    So how do you get the fruit out of the pomegranate? Turns out, it's as easy as getting yourself a nice heavy spoon, a paring knife, and a big bowl. Use a bigger bowl than you think you'll need to hold all that pomegranate. Trust me - or you'll be finding arils (the proper name for those tasty red jewels) in the nooks and crannies of your kitchen for weeks. Those suckers can really take flight!

    This video describes the process. And hey - what a great way to get out a little aggression from a long day. You show that pomegranate who's boss!

    Now, what can you do with all those juicy pomegranate arils? Well, you can just pop them in your mouth by the handful like I do - most people eat them whole, seeds and all, either crunching into the seeds or just swallowing those bits whole. Some people just eat the fruit and then spit out the seeds. It's all about personal preference, really!

    Try mixing them into your leafy green or fruit salads, throwing them into smoothies, sprinkling them over your oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, or using them as a classy garnish for cocktails! They add such a wonderful texture and touch of brilliant color to many dishes.

    All in all, enjoy them - because they aren't usually in season for long.
  • 'Tis The Season For Healthy Smoothies

    I hope you all have enjoyed the festivities that came with Christmas and New Years. Quite often, we all start the New Year wanting to change something for the better. While I'm not one to make New Years Resolutions, it never hurts to have some goals to better yourself! Even if it's something small.

    What's your goals for 2016? Me - Well, I'd personally like to eat a little healthier, and one of my favourite ways to get all those fruits and veggies into my diet is a good old smoothie. And that's how I like to start my mornings.

    There's nothing complicated about it, really. According to Yuri Elkaim on Your Tango, the perfect smoothie consists of 70% greens, 15% liquid, 10% fruit, and 5% booster.

    Image Credit: Yuri Elkaim at yourtango.com
    Image Credit: Yuri Elkaim at YourTango.com

    Keep it simple! Too often people add so many different things to their smoothies that their flavors become muddled. Try to keep your smoothies down to five ingredients so that each flavor that you add will really shine through.

    Try some of these delicious smoothies below!

    Instead of adding ice to your smoothies, try using frozen fruit! I always make sure to have some frozen berries and bananas on hand. And here's a frugal tip: You'll often see fruit for bargain prices when it's approaching it's peak ripeness. Why not freeze them! Wash and chop your ripened fruit and then spread in an even layer on a cookie sheet, then freeze. When they have frozen, just throw the fruit into a reusable container or zip top bag. Freezing the fruit prior to storing it in bags and containers makes certain that it stays in individual pieces and doesn't freeze into a giant fruit clump.

    My favorite smoothie? A few handfuls of spinach, half a frozen banana, and a half cup of frozen berries. I also like to add some protein like plain Greek yogurt or hemp seeds. For some extra zip, I might add some lemon juice or a chunk of fresh ginger. Then I top Another tip: Ginger freezes great! Buy it fresh, cut it into chunks, and freeze. When you're ready for a smoothie, you can simply throw in a chunk of ginger or grate some ginger into it before blending.

    My blender really isn't anything spectacular - just one of those Magic Bullets that I acquired from a friend of mine when they bought a Nutribullet. It gets the job done!

    I'd love to know - what's your favorite smoothie ingredient? Share below! Happy 2016, everyone!