Cook’s Vanilla

It was so nice and refreshing to read the story of Cook’s Vanilla and the family behind the business. The Lochhead family business started way back in 1918! Angus Lochhead saw a great sales opportunity in vanilla and later built a factory to supply for both bakeries and dairies around the Midwest. This business survived through the factory burning to the ground, The Great Depression, and World War II. Thereafter, Angus’ son Raymond Lochhead studied mechanical and chemical engineering at Cal Tech, where he explored the chemistry of vanilla. Ray had placed extensive experimentation on perfecting his slow, cold, direct extraction method to produce the best vanilla. To take his dedication even further, he began to study bean quality and curing methods around the world, in places like Madagascar, Bali, Tonga, Fiji, India, and Maurtius. Ray then set up vanilla curing operations in Bali and Fiji and also developed long lasting relationships with Madagascar and Tonga. Since the innovative time of their father and grandfather, Ray’s daughter and son-in-law continue to expand their operations. Their daughter, Margaret has a chemistry degree that she puts to good use at the in-house lab, and their other daughter, Susannah, continues to source the finest quality vanilla from their foreign partners. There you have it! Four generations of vanilla lovers. Just when you thought their story couldn’t get more interesting, they were also amongst one of the first companies to to promote organic certification for vanilla growers in Tonga.

We are proud to support such an innovative and creative family business! We are currently stocking an array of extracts for your baking needs: almond, cinnamon, cookie vanilla, pure vanilla and maple. If you’re anything like me, vanilla is constantly flying out of your pantry, and the grocery store does not have a high quality vanilla option! No need to worry though, we can now buy from the vanilla curing pioneers.


What is Chaga?

Who ever thought that a chunk of charcoal looking mushrooms growing on a tree would be good for you? I know I sure didn’t. I heard of this mushroom while eating at a vegetarian/health food restaurant in Edmonton. My server was going on and how about its health benefits, so I decided to read up on it.

Here in the West, we tend to catch on to medicinal food trends much later on than East. The East has been consuming chaga for years, mainly as tea, and gaining from its immune-boosting ingredients and antioxidants. Nonetheless, it’s becoming more and more popular in the West and we finally have access! Now, at first glance, chaga doesn’t exactly look like the most appetizing mushroom – in fact, it doesn’t really look like a mushroom at all. However, this mushroom really packs a punch when it comes to health benefits. The good news for us Canadians is that these mushrooms typically grow on birch trees in colder climates across the Northern Hemisphere. Giddy Yoyo’s chaga has actually been hand picked from the Canadian boreal forest of Ontario and Quebec! How wonderful is that?

Now that we know where the mushroom lives, lets talk about why we want to eat this Canadian mushroom.

  1. Chaga supports the immune system in a big way. We all know of immune boosting foods, but what chaga does differently is that it actually balances the immune system. This means that not only does it boost the immune system, it will also slow it down when it is overactive.
  2. It is also known for its soothing properties, supporting the integrity of blood cells and aiding with irritation.
  3. Studies have shown that an ingredient called betulinic acid found in chaga is responsible for breaking down a bad cholesterol called LDL.
  4. Chaga is full of antioxidant properties. There are six ingredients that make chaga so healthy: Polysaccarides (provide energy, cardiovascular health, intestinal and liver health, promote healthy blood sugar levels); Beta-D-Glucans (modulate the immune system); Phytosterols (have a positive effect on viral compounds); melanin (gives chaga high antioxidant levels and gives it the highest ORAC score of any superfood); SODs – Super Oxide Dismutase (protects our body against the destructive effects of uncontrolled oxidation and free radicals). (1)

The suggested use, as per Giddy Yoyo’s instructions go a little like this..

Use 4 TBS GY CHAGA for every 1 litre of water; simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes to make a tonic, or up to 2 hours to make a concentrate, remembering to add water as necessary. You can brew your GY CHAGA up to 3 times or until the dark pigments no longer extract into the water. Store used GY CHAGA in the freezer in between batches. For variety add GY VANILLA BEAN POWDER, cinnamon, fresh ginger or other sweet & earthly spices to the brew. Add a spoonful of Coconut Oil before drinking. (2)


Recipe Review – Buttah Chicken

I’ve been waiting to try this recipe in the THM cookbook for a while now. Just so you know, before we head into this review, I am not your average white girl. I have a strong inner Indian girl, and it shows in almost everything I love – especially in cuisine! My best friend of ten years is Indian and I grew up having sleepovers at her place and eating her mom’s delicious food. She is the type of lady who loves to feed people, and I am the type of person who loves to eat, so you can only imagine how this relationship worked out! Needless to say, I have very high expectations of Indian food and I crave it on the daily. You can ask my husband, he will attest to this.

It is because of this love for Indian food that I both wanted to try the recipe, but at the same time had very little faith that it would live up to my expectations. However, I was very wrong! This recipe was to die for. It had a beautiful aroma, and the flavour was perfect – exactly the right amount of spice for both those who enjoy spice and those who cannot handle too much of it. There were a couple of things I did differently for this recipe. I did not have onion powder on hand, so I skipped out on that ingredient and I used coconut oil instead of butter. I was really worried that this would greatly affect the recipe, because, you know, what would Butter Chicken be without the butter? But it worked out extremely well. I would recommend this recipe to anyone. Those who have not tried Indian food, and also to Indian food lovers. Your home will smell like a spice market (my favourite part) and you will have a flavourful, healthy and satisfying meal. I ate mine with quinoa, but next time I would like to use some warm Joseph’s Lavash to dip into the sauce. Yum! Happy eating everyone!


Why New Zealand Whey?

I first discovered New Zealand Whey about six months ago at a health food seminar at my gym. Previous to this seminar, I had not heard of New Zealand Whey, and did not know what made it stand out in comparison to other protein powders out there. One thing I did know for sure is that there are a ton of protein powders that contain a whole lot of everything – everything meaning unhealthy and unnecessary fillers. I’m actually surprised that I didn’t chose to write about this sooner, because as soon as I came home I was going on and on to my husband about this protein that I heard was “the best”.

One of the main reasons that the New Zealand Whey Protein is held in such high regard is due to the fact that the dairies in New Zealand have some of the most stringent standards in the world. The government actually mandates that all of the dairy products produced must free of antibiotics, chemical residues and hormones. How amazing is that? Now my question is, why doesn’t every country have these regulations? The sad reality is that the hormones actually stimulate growth and milk production, making things a lot easier on the farmers’ end. On top of being free from antibiotics, residues and hormones, there are many other contributing factors that separate New Zealand Whey from all of the other protein powders out there. Things such as grazing practices, treatment of cattle, collections and storage methods, and processing all play an important role in safe and proper production.

Basically, the people of New Zealand really know how to farm their cattle. Their animals are healthy and live a life where they are free from supplemental grain. They roam the pastures and are able to pick up a wide variety of soil-based pathogens, which means that they will naturally develop more antibodies. The healthy green grass that they are exposed to also provides Vitamins, minerals and beneficial enzymes!

On the New Zealand Whey website, they pointed out that there are three main reasons why the presence of antibiotic residues in milk products (illegal in New Zealand) are problematic;

  1. In the production of fermented milks, antibiotic residues can slow or destroy the growth of the fermentation bacteria.
  2. From a human health point of view, some people are allergic to specific antibiotics, and their presence in food consumed can have severe consequences.
  3. Frequent exposure to low level antibiotics can cause microorganisms to become resistant to them, through mutation, so that they are ineffective when needed to fight a human infection.

Yuck! I’ll take the New Zealand Whey, please : )


Recipe Review: Bring on the Buttah Pancakes

Bring on the Buttah Pancakes!

You can find this recipe on page 262 of the new THM cookbook.

First off, I find that most of the recipes that state that the ingredients yield three pancakes, usually only make two and one half of a pancake. That was the case for this recipe. While I was mixing, I noticed that I wasn’t getting the consistency that I wanted, so I added a bit more almond milk. I recommend doing so, as it helped thin the mixture. Nonetheless, the pancakes were fairly tasty. They did not have any overpowering flavours, which one may assume they would, considering the ingredients that make up the baking blend. The texture of the pancakes were unlike your average glutenous pancake – they were soft, yet a little bit crumbly as opposed to fluffy. I would say that overall, these pancakes were good, but they were not a showstopper. They are not the type of pancake that one can simply eat alone – they need some sort of topper to sweeten them up and add a little more flavour. I put some natural peanut butter and hemp seeds on mine. Next time I would like to try them with some butter and homemade maple syrup! I think that would add a lot to the pancakes. I will continue my search to find the perfect healthy pancake, and I will let you all know when I find it!

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