Thursday, 23 May 2013

My Favorite Gluten-Free Chocolate Granola Recipe

This recipe is by far one of my favorites. The reason I love it so much is because first of all, it is SO easy to make and secondly, it is so good! When I eat it, it makes me feel like I'm cheating - like I'm having a candy bar - but I'm not! I got this amazingly tasty recipe from my 'can't live without' Naturopath, Jen Newell. She is always sharing amazing recipes with me (I'm so lucky!). Well.. here it is!


 Gluten-Free Chocolate Granola

Ingredients:
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the over to 250°C
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
Then spread the mixture out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Bake in the over for 35 - 40 minutes or until the granola is dry and crunchy
Let it cool and then store in a sealed container


Tip 1: I use the Only Oats brand of gluten-free oats. I featured this product in a previous blog post. I buy it at BulkBarn - that is where I have found it to be the cheapest and they always seem to have it in stock. You can most likely find it at any health food store. 

Tip 2: I find the unsweetened, shredded coconut at Whole Foods in the bulk aisle. I really find that buying the unsweetened variety makes a big difference in this recipe. If you were to use a sweetened coconut, the granola would be way too sweet and the coconut would just overpower the chocolate. I would stick with an unsweetened brand.

Tip 3: I don't buy chopped almonds - I just take whole almonds, throw them in my Magic Bullet and give them a good grinding. If you would like to have larger chunks of almonds in your granola, don't grind them then and just break them into smaller pieces. 

Tip 4: The type of honey you use can really make a big difference in how sweet the granola turns out. This is just something that you have to try out for yourself to see which kind you like best. I've settled on using the President's Choice (Canadian brand) regular honey. When it comes to honey, just make sure that you're using an organic, natural honey that has no additional sugar added. **I recently started replacing the honey with organic maple syrup and I love it!

Tip 5: When it comes to baking time, this all depends on whether you want your granola to be soft and gooey or hard and crunchy. If you want it softer, don't leave it in as long. The longer you leave it in, the harder it will get.

I usually find myself making at least one batch of this granola each week. I use it as cereal (just add milk.. well, almond milk for me!), I pack it as a snack when I'm on the road, and it really helps whenever I'm having a chocolate craving or just need something sweet. I guarantee that if you have kids, they will love this! 

You can always feel free to add any other ingredients that you want! Maybe some other kind of nuts, raisins or dried fruit. You really can't mess this up.. it's always good!

Enjoy!


Check out more recipe's from Jen and more information about her services at www.newellnd.ca

Thursday, 16 May 2013

5 Ways to Repurpose a Vintage Pallet

Last year, we decided to renovate our backyard and it was my job to search for some furniture. As I left my home one early morning on my way to a meeting, I noticed a rough but beautifully vintage pallet sitting at the end of one of my neighbours driveways. I had no idea what I would do with it, but I knew I had to have it. I quickly called my boyfriend and told him to get out there with the truck and pick it up! Thankfully he did...
 
When I finally got a look at it, I realized that it was a great old pallet from the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada. It was rugged and a little rough around the edges, but that's why I liked it. I decided that it would be our coffee table. We quickly grabbed four casters and placed them on the bottom of the pallet... and well, we had a coffee table! We really didn't do another thing - it was that easy!
 
 
 
I'm determined to find a new (and maybe more challenging) pallet project for this summer. Pallets are great to work with - you can find them almost everywhere, they are pretty sturdy and they are usually free! Here are 5 great pallet projects that you can try this summer!
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Tips for How to Host a Successful Vintage Display

This weekend, I had the enormous pleasure to be a vendor at the Binbrook Country Home & Garden Show in the lovely small town of Binbrook - just west of Hamilton, Ontario. This was a two day show which also featured great home d├ęcor, lawn and garden care, craft and food vendors. It was a very successful weekend and I had the opportunity to meet so many vintage collectors and admirers.
My display at this weekend's show! I had stuff everywhere!!

My success really came down to a few key tips that I'd like to share with you:

1 - If you don't have it, you can find it: A great part of being a vintage curator is that you get to bring amazing items to people who appreciate them and will give them a new life. Unfortunately, I may not always have what they are looking for. So, instead of simply saying "sorry, I don't have that", I take that opportunity to ask them to write down their name and contact information and I let them know that I will keep my eye out for that item and will contact them when and if I am able to find it. I keep this list with me (as it gets bigger and bigger!) and always keep my eye out for those special items that my customers are looking for. Customers will appreciate that you're taking the extra time to search for a special item that is important to them.

2 - Variety is the key: My shop is made up of so many different items and when I attend a show, I always try to bring items that I think will suit the customers I expect to see. For example, this weekend's show featured an antique car show and swap meet, so I made sure to bring any car related items I had and a whole lot of tools and industrial pieces. Those sold like hot cakes! The key is that I didn't just stick to those - I made sure to bring a lot of other unique items like kitchen pieces, books, furniture and even some kids toys. It is important to know who your audience will be and to make sure that you bring a lot of what they will like, but don't forget to keep a good variety!

3 - Go from a seller to a picker: I see a lot of customers who really appreciate all of the vintage pieces in the shop and explain that they have many of the same in their home. I never miss this opportunity to let them know that not only do I sell, but I buy vintage as well. I give them my card and encourage them to think of me if they ever decide to downsize or sell some of their pieces. Although not all customers may be buyers, quite a few may be sellers who can add some amazing items to your shop!

These are just a few of my tips - I hope that you find them helpful!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Gluten-Free Marketplace

This past Sunday, my gluten-free bestie Megan and I went to the Gluten-Free Garage at the beautiful and rustic Artscape Wychwood Barns in downtown Toronto – one of my favorite venues in the city! This former streetcar facility is filled with rustic charm and industrial accents. It is one of the most unique venues in the city and I love it.

This marketplace event was put together by the wonderful crew at Gluten-Free Garage. The marketplace featured dozens of local gluten-free and vegan shops, bakeries and restaurants. Let me tell you, it was a good thing that I showed up hungry because everyone was handing out samples and they were soooo good! When you are gluten-free, it can sometimes be hard to find new and yummy foods, so having this many vendors in one space was really exciting for us!
We met some amazing vendors who offered some very tasty gluten-free options including soups, cakes, spices, dressings, crackers and yes… even a cinnamon bun!! Of course, I HAD to have one and man, was it ever good.
 
I thought I would share with you some of our favorite vendors from this event!
 

1) Tonica – Kombucha Juice
For many of us who are gluten-free, we suffer from digestive issues which can keep us from enjoying many delicious foods. A year ago, my brilliant naturopath suggested that I try drinking Kombucha juice – a raw, organic drink - as a way to strengthen my digestive system. It has now become a daily drink for me and one which I crave because it taste so good! Megan and I both tried Tonica’s Mango Passion Kombucha drink and loved it! You can find this refreshing drink at many health food stores across Canada.

 
2) Mad Mexican – Fresh Salsa
Megan and I recently took a girls vacation to Mexico. Almost every day we found ourselves pigging out on fresh salsa – made that morning with fresh tomatoes, onions and of course, a whole lot of cilantro and lime juice. We have been craving it since we came home and find that the jar varieties just aren’t as good. Once we tried the Mad Mexican’s salsa which is all natural, handmade, preservative free and of course, gluten-free, we were immediately brought back to Mexico and just had to buy some. I promise you won’t regret this purchase! Mad Mexican salsa can be found at many health food stores in Southern Ontario or at their location in downtown Toronto.
 
3) Bunner’s – Breads & Goodies
When we walked up to this booth, all Megan and I could say to each other was “there is no way all of these treats can be gluten-free”. We were convinced that the gewwy, sticky, icing lathered, mouth watering cinnamon buns HAD to be made with wheat and the icing with milk. Well, I was so happy when they said that they were 100% gluten and dairy free (O-M-G). This stop made the whole trip worthwhile – yes, that is how good this cinnamon bun was – as you can see in the picture above as I’m stuffing it in my mouth. Bunner’s is a 100% vegan and gluten-free bakery in Toronto. You must try it!
 
The list could go on for a while! This was a great event and a great opportunity to feature some amazing gluten-free foodies from across Toronto! Now... I just have to get my hands on more of those cinnamon buns...