Adventures in Food - Aviva Allen's Blog

Adventures in Food

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What's New in Health Food

This past weekend, I visited the CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) trade show and had an opportunity to learn about some exciting new products heading our way.  I also had a chance to sample some other goodies that you may or may not have tried yet. Here are some of the highlights:



Love Grown Foods - Power O's: A breakfast cereal made with beans and lentils! They offer a few flavours, and although I'm not a fan of sweetened cereal, the original box is a healthier, unsweetened alternative to traditionally made "O" shaped cereals with a high amount of fibre and protein. (



The Good Bean - roasted chickpea snacks: Chickpeas are soaked and then roasted with sea salt to make a tasty and crunchy snack. I don't love the ingredients in all of their flavours but the Sea Salt variety I would definitely recommend.  They make a nice alternative to nuts that you can send to school.  My 3 year old is definitely NOT a bean lover and these are his new favourite snack.  Also a great source of protein and fibre. (


Way Better Snacks - Simply Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips: These gluten-free chips contain sweet potato, sprouted quinoa and chia seeds along with the more traditional corn.  A good amount of fibre, iron and protein compared to ordinary tortilla chips.  WARNING: These chips are very addictive. (


Gluten Free Pasta:


Tolerant foods bean/lentil pastas: One ingredient organic pastas that are gluten-free and high in protein, fibre and iron.  Available in red lentil or black bean varieties that include Fettuccine, penne and rotini shapes.  I didn't care for the black bean pasta but we all enjoyed the lentil fettuccine, including the kids. The pasta contains 13g fibre and 21g protein per serving! The downside is they are VERY expensive.  You can, however, order them online from the company directly and save when you order in bulk as well as through (


Dairy-free Yogurt:


So Delicious coconut milk yogurt: This dairy free product will soon be available in Canada in two new unsweetened varieties - Plain and Vanilla.  I had a chance to taste them at the show and they both had a smooth/creamy consistency and the vanilla added a nice hint of sweetness.  (


Frozen Treats:


Frozen Coconut: An unpasteurized non-dairy ice cream made with fair trade, organic raw coconut milk and 100% raw agave nectar.  Coming soon to Ontario. (


Coconut Bliss: Two new items to watch for... A new ice cream flavour: Chocolate Walnut Brownie and their popular Salted Caramel flavour will soon be available in an ice cream bar! "Delicious caramel with a hint of salt, dipped in organic fair trade chocolate" (


Deebee's Organic TeaPops: Organic tea and fresh fruit popsicles. These tasty treats contain no refined sugar and use only fair trade teas, including 3 caffeine free flavours. The products were created by Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker, a mom AND doctor who has completed years of study into the effects of chemicals on fetal development, so you know there will only be the best ingredients in these popsicles! (

Plant-based Milks and Other Beverages:



Isola Bio:
This company offers a variety of organic plant-based milks, but the one that stood out for me was their Rice-Coconut blend.  Not as thick as straight coconut milk and the addition of the rice milk adds a natural sweetness without added sugar. No added oils or carrageenan. (


So Nice Organic almond milk: This almond milk is available in original or unsweetened and you can find it in the refrigerated aisle.  It is organic AND made without carrageenan. I had a chance to taste them and the unsweetened variety was probably the best packaged almond milks I've tasted so far. (

Coming Soon...



Seva 100% Pure Maple Water: Pure organic maple sap straight out of the Laurentian Forest maple trees in Quebec. Think of it like coconut water...but LOCAL. Similar to coconut water, maple sap is full of minerals, antioxidants and electrolytes. I really loved this product! It was so refreshing. (


Earth's Own Cashew Fresh: This new product will become available in early 2015.  It will come in original or unsweetened and will not contain carrageenan. This was pretty delicious.


Earth's Choice Canned organic coconut milk will soon be sporting a BPA-free label (

So Delicious is currently working on a carrageenan-free coconut milk.  It will likely become available in the US market first, but eventually will make its way up north. FINALLY!! (

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Healthy Options at the CNE


While most of us have come to accept that the food building at CNE is not a destination for healthy eating, this year you will find a few pleasant surprises.  You will still find old favourites like Tiny Tom's Mini Donuts, celebrate over 50 years at the CNE.  You will, of course, find standard fare including pizza, fish and chips and poutine.  You will also find a number of newer innovations including a Bacon Wrapped Deep Fried Mars Bar, The Krispy Kreme Donut Burger and "The Behemoth" - not just one, but TWO grilled cheese sandwiches with a burger, bacon and more cheese in the middle. There is even The Chocolate Spread - a whole booth dedicated to food involving Nutella, which is apparent by the display of multiple 5kg jars. 



The CNE has become well-known for these over the top creations, but amidst all of the trans fat, there were a few spots that were a welcomed contrast:

Wild Child's Kitchen: This was certainly not something I expected to see in the CNE Food Building.  Fresh Smoothies and juices made with (some) organic ingredients, raw vegan "cheese"cake bites, salads and wraps and tacos/nachos with cashew "sour cream".  Vegan and gluten-free!

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Ghazale: Middle Eastern food with a nice selection of fresh salads and vegetarian dishes.  This booth had one of the most vibrant and colourful displays of food in the building.

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Eative: Offering sugar-free and dairy-free sorbet, Eative uses only one ingredient in their products: Fruit.  They puree their own fruit and then add this "fruit juice" to an electric mixer where it is combined with liquid nitrogen and immediately freezes.  The sorbet was so tasty, I unfortunately ate it all before realizing I didn't get a picture of it.

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Mama's Pizza: For those on a dairy-free diet, you can still enjoy a slice of pizza at the Ex!  Mama's Pizza has a vegan pizza option made with Daiya Cheese.

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What I also enjoyed seeing was the food directory where you could search for foods by category but there were also helpful symbols indicating which booths offered alternatives such as vegan, nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free options.


If you are planning to head down to the Ex this year, I encourage you to support these businesses and perhaps we will see more like these in the future.  I don't think that the over-indulgent items will disappear, but it would be nice to balance that out with some healthier choices and options for those with dietary restrictions.

Hits: 10039


The most well-known food of the Jewish holiday, Purim, is the Hamentashen: a three-cornered cookie made with a variety of sweet fillings. Typically, a hamentashen is made with white flour and filled with a sugary poppy seed, cherry, apricot or prune filling.  This healthier version is made with whole grain spelt and brown rice flours and naturally sweet fillings that contain no added sugar.

These photos are from last Purim.  It was my boys' first time making hamentashen.  As you can see, they are not all perfect triangles, but they did create something new of their own...the hamen-taco!

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Yield: 2-3 dozen






1 Tbsp. LEMON ZEST (1 Lemon)

1/2 tsp. SEA SALT




(Plus 1/2 cup WHOLE SPELT FLOUR for rolling out the dough)



1 cup PRUNES

2 cups HOT WATER


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

  2. To prepare filling, place each dried fruit in a separate glass bowl or measuring cup.  Add hot water to cover (approximately 1 cup each) and let soak for 10 minutes.

  3. Drain and reserve the liquid.  Place one of the dried fruits into a food processor with 1 Tbsp. reserve liquid.  Process until a paste has formed, adding more reserve liquid as needed. Remove and set aside.  Repeat procedure with other dried fruit.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and maple syrup.  Add eggs, apple sauce, vanilla and lemon zest and continue whisking until smooth.

  5. In a medium bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients.  Slowly pour dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and mix well until a ball of dough is formed.

  6. Taking 1/4 of the dough at a time, use a rolling pin and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of approximately 1/8". Use the rim of glass or mug to cut circles in the dough.  Dough scraps can be combined and rolled out to make more hamentashen.

  7. Fill each circle with 1 1⁄2 tsp. of filling and press into three-cornered cookies. (Press two sides together and pinch the corner that is formed. Then fold the third side over and pinch together the other two corners.)

  8. Place hamentashen on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.


* Apricot and prune can be substituted with other dried fruits, according to preference.


Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.

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Pomegranates are packed with nutrients, including antioxidants and vitamin C. Many people do not buy them simply because they are unsure how to get the seeds out or find it too messy.

There is actually a secret to getting out the pomegranate seeds in a quick and mess-free way...

Step 1: Cut the pomegranate into quarters.

Step 2: Place the pomegranate into a large bowl filled with water.

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Step 3: Gently pull apart the pomegranate while keeping it submerged in water.  Use your thumbs to pop the seeds out of the membrane.

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Step 4: Once all of the seeds have been removed, you will notice that the membrane pieces float to the top of the bowl, and the seeds sink to the bottom.  Carefully pour some of the water out along with the membrane (or you can use your hands or a slotted spoon).  Pour the remaining water and pomegranate seed in a fine mesh strainer along over the sink.


Step 5: Enjoy!  If you want to save them for later use, store in the refrigerator.


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Since my oldest son is sensitive to gluten, I am always on the look out for gluten-free products that both of us are happy with.  For my son, this means it needs to look and taste good, while for me, it is important that it meets the nutritional standards I look for as a nutritionist.  This is often a challenge when it come to bread products.  They are typically full of many undesirable ingredients in their attempt to mimic the wonderful sensory experience of "real" bread that we all love so much. And then there is the issue of taste...or lack there of. 

So today, I was staring at a leftover turkey burger in my fridge when it occurred to me...Why not make the burger INTO the bun!  So after lightly reheating the turkey burger in the toaster oven, I cut it in half, lengthwise.  I spread some mustard onto the inner sides of each burger slice and then placed slices of avocado, tomato and our homegrown/homemade pickles in the middle.  Brilliant!! 

Whether you are gluten sensitive, trying to limit your carbs, following a Paleo diet or just looking to put a new spin on your traditional style burger, you must give this a try!

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Check out this handy guide to nuts...and seeds too!


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You MUST try these super delicious treats.  I created these this week while experimenting in the kitchen with my sister and they were a HUGE hit.  They are so easy to make and the recipe contains only 2 ingredients!  It is also a great activity to do with kids of all ages.  They will have a blast mashing the dates and rolling them into balls.  Try them and let me know what you think...


Almond Date Rolls

Yield: Approximately 25



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place 1 cup of the almonds onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until centre of almond is golden in colour.  Let almonds cool completely, then roughly chop and set aside.
  3. Remove pits from dates then place into medium bowl.  Mash dates well with a fork or with your hands.
  4. Grind remaining 1 cup of almonds in a food processor.  Remove ground almonds and add to bowl of dates and mix well.
  5. Using a teaspoon, take a heaping scoopful of the date/almond mixture and roll in your hands to form a ball.
  6. Roll each ball into the chopped toasted almonds until it is well coated.
  7. Refrigerate until serving and enjoy!

For more delicious recipes, visit

Would you like a free ticket to the Green Living Show coming up April 12-14?

Use this link before April 1 to receive your FREE admission:

Come visit me at the show...I will have a booth in the EcoParent Village and will be presenting a workshop - Sunday at 1pm - on Greening your Kids' Lunchboxes.  Pre-register for my workshop and you will have a chance to win a Litterless Lunch Pack including Lunchbots, Neat-O’s, Wean Green & Klean Kanteen, valued at $80!



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After 5 great years working at Pande Family Wellness Centre, I am sad to be leaving, but it is time for me to move on to new opportunities.

I am excited to announce that as of April 2013, my nutrition practice will be moving to Thrive Natural Family Health located at 110 Eglinton Avenue East.  

I look forward to seeing you there!


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There have been many reports in the news lately regarding a maple syrup shortage.  Is this an exaggeration, or should we start hoarding?

The early arrival of warm weather this year has certainly impacted the maple syrup industry.  Some producers in Ontario and the US have reported 20-50% lower yields than normal and have already closed their taps.  There are, however, maple syrup producers in northern regions of Quebec who are still producing sap.

In addition, the federation representing approximately 7400 producers across Quebec has over 36 million pounds of maple syrup in storage.  Even if 2012 turns out to be a lower yield season, the surplus syrup from previous years is enough to prevent a shortage.

Long-term, a trend of increasing temperatures could definitely affect the supply, but for now at least, you can enjoy your pure maple syrup as usual!

Try this recipe for Maple-Miso Salmon