Friday, July 14, 2017

Making White Peach Sangria with Polar Ice Ontario Peach Vodka

The Spring and Summer seasons in Ontario are most definitely my favourite for more than just the beautiful weather, but for the incredible abundance of fresh and local produce available. Ontario produces some pretty spectacular fruits and vegetables during our warm months, but the one item that I look forward to more than anything is Ontario peaches. 

If you've ever had a ripe and juicy Ontario peach in August, you know that we make some of the best! Insanely sweet and flavourful, with juices that run down your chin, Ontario peaches are a treat in themselves, and an ingredient that I love to take advantage of in both sweet and savoury applications. 

With a few more weeks to go before I can get my hands on some Ontario peaches, I was delighted to get to try Polar Ice Vodka's new Ontario Peach Vodka! Made with 100% Ontario-grown peaches, and quadruple distilled and triple-filtered for a pure and smooth taste, this vodka is delicious on its own with some soda water and ice, but is taken to new heights when made into a fresh summer cocktail. 

On a beautiful summer day there is no beverage that I crave more than sangria! I love how refreshing and easy-drinking sangria can be (particularly for someone like me who doesn't drink a whole lot!), and I love catering the flavours in my sangria to the season. Polar Ice was kind enough to also provide me with a few recipes for using their new peach vodka this summer, and low and behold, they included a White Peach Sangria recipe! 

The most recent long weekend was the perfect opportunity to try the recipe out with some friends on my balcony in the sun. With Ontario peaches still a few months away, I chose to use frozen peaches for this batch, as well as some other berries that I had on hand in my fridge. I also added a little bit of ginger to give the sangria a bit of a zing, and some mint from my balcony garden for more freshness. The sangria turned out absolutely delicious! I loved how the Ontario peach flavour shone through the cocktail, making me even more excited for peach season. 

I will definitely be making this sangria again and again throughout the summer, but am also looking forward to playing around with different cocktails using Polar Ice Peach Vodka. I love the idea of adding a shot of peach vodka to a peach or ginger kombucha for a lil' kombuchatail, or making a boozier version of a bellini by adding both the peach vodka and Prosecco to peach nectar. As someone who's not a big drinker, Polar Ice Peach Vodka was a great option for me! I loved the smooth taste and the natural peach flavour, as I think we all know (and hate!) when an infused liquor has that awful artificial taste to it. This product is a limited edition flavour, sold exclusively in Ontario, with a limited number of bottles produced, so get your hands on it while you can and let me know what you think in the comments below. I would love to hear your suggestions for what other cocktails I can make with it! 

White Peach Sangria
fresh or frozen peaches (and any other fruit you have on hand that you may want to add)
2 Tsp. fresh ginger, grated (optional)
a handful of fresh mint leaves (optional)
1 cup Polar Ice Ontario Peach
1 750 mL bottle of Pinot Grigio
1 L ginger ale

  1. In a large pitcher/vessel, gently muddle the fruit with the ginger and mint (optional).
  2. Add Polar Ice Ontario Peach, Pinot Grigio, and ginger ale. Stir, add ice, and enjoy in the sun! 
Listening To:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Snack Hacking with Nosh & Co. and Devin Connell

Snacking and food hacking are two things that I have a lot of experience in. As you may know, a couple years ago I was Kraft Canada's Official Food Hacker for their Food Hacks campaign, which meant scouring the internet for every possible food hack I could find. I learned so many different food hacks during that time, some good, some not so good, and it was clear to see that the best food hacks were those that were simple, convenient, and made cooking more enjoyable. Having ended the Food Hacks campaign a couple years ago, I still love coming across new food hacks that I haven't yet discovered.

I was super pumped to have the opportunity to add a few more hacks up my sleeve, when I was invited by Rexall Canada and Nosh & Co. to join TV personality, entrepreneur, and recipe developer Devin Connell as she led a mini cooking demo on her favourite snack hacks. What I loved about Devin's snack hacks was that they were not about utilizing gimmicky methods or kitchen tools just to be "hacky." Devin's type of hacks were about real life tips and tricks that make healthy and guilt-free snacking easy! 
The first recipe that Devin led us through was how to make the dry mix for her Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed Banana Bread. The banana bread, which Devin baked into mini, individual loaves (perfect for those snack cravings!), allowed us to understand how we can utilize other healthy ingredients in our kitchen to sweeten up and add flavour to healthy treats. The banana bread contained zero added sugar, allowing the natural sweetness from the overly-ripe bananas to sweetened the loaves. The addition of Nosh & Co. Unsalted Roasted Shelled Sunflower Seeds and Roasted & Salted Pumpkin seeds added a fantastic crunchy texture to the loaves, with the pumpkin seeds adding just a hint of saltiness. 
The second recipe that Devin led us through was how to make her Fruit & Nut Mix Power Balls. Not only were the Power Balls insanely simple to prepare, they were also delicious, and actually very filling! This was definitely my favourite hack of the day, and one that I can see myself using all the time! I've been turning to those Power Balls ever since the event, as my new favourite late-afternoon treat to sustain my appetite before dinner. 
The final hack of the day allowed us guests to prepare our own signature trail mix using a selection of Nosh & Co. nuts and trail mixes, as well as some other healthy and tasty ingredients. Devin loves to layer her ingredients into a mason jar, shake it up to disperse, and keep the jar in her car for snacking emergencies. More than just sweet ingredients, Devin also gave us the great idea of creating our own savoury trail mixes. With ingredient such as spiced chickpeas, shredded seaweed, and salty pumpkin seeds available, the savoury trail mixes were just as satisfying as the sweet ones! 

I had such an awesome time at this event, and more importantly, I really loved the tips and tricks I learned from Devin that I can actually see myself applying to my daily routine! I have included the recipes for you below and encourage you to try them! Let me know what you think in the comments! 
Pumpkin & Sunflower Seed Banana Bread
Dry Mix: This mixture can be kept in an air-tight container at room-temperature for up to one-month. Double or triple the recipe to have some on hand for last-minute muffins
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup Nosh & Co. Unsalted Roasted Shelled Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Nosh & Co. Roasted & Salted Pumpkin Seeds
Wet Mix:
4 very ripe bananas (like really ugly and brown)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing the tin
2 extra large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease loaf pan or muffin tins with melted coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Push any remaining kosher salt through the sieve. Stir in sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash bananas very well with a fork until very soft and almost liquidy. Whisk in coconut oil and eggs until well incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir with a large spoon until just mixed together. Do not over mix.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan or muffin tins until 3/4 full.
  6. Bake 45-minutes for the loaf or 20-minutes for muffins. 
Fruit & Nut Mix Power Balls
1/2 cup Nosh & Co. Raw Fruit & Nut Mix
1/2 cup dried coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (may sub almond butter)
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup rolled oats

  1. In a food processor, combine the fruit & nut mix, dried coconut, sunflower seed butter, honey and water. Periodically stop the machine, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Once blended, the mixture should not be chunky, but still have some texture to it.
  3. Place the mixture into a large bowl. With a large spoon, mix in the chia seeds and oats. The mixture will resemble a loose crumble.
  4. Grab about 2-Tbsp. of mixture and, using your hands, form into a ball. Continue with remaining mixture. Power balls can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. 
Listening To: