Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…


In an interesting turn of events, as we walked into the drugstore to get my little man a new toothbrush, he noticed and demanded to hold this tube of brightly coloured jelly beans. Once he was distracted by the toothbrushes I took a closer look and noticed my favourite line “no artificial colours or flavours” on the tube making it an official purchase “for baking” (as opposed to “for immediate stuffing in the mouth”). Upon even closer inspection it turns out that these beans are made in Ireland, and they somehow ended up on a random shelf in a Canadian drugstore, and to top off the weirdness of the situation, they scanned at 26 cents – ? I love finding new naturally coloured products and sharing the information about these progressive companies who “get it” and manage to create something fun and better for you. Take a minute to look at thejellybeanfactory.com and if a tube ends up in your or your little person’s hand, relish those lovely natural colours!

it can be done…

Wow, long time no post. I guess this is just what happens when you have a baby, and they take up more and more of your time as they grow. My son is 8.5 months now, and very demanding! Am taking the opportunity during nap time to tell you all that I am moving to the UK at the end of this month. We are going for a year and are excited and nervous about our big adventure. I had all these plans of blogging about what I’ll miss about Toronto, but that never came to pass. So, I am going to talk a bit about something I am NOT going to miss about Toronto, but that I look forward to in the UK – more foods made without artificial colours.

The other day I picked up some UK smarties (made without artificial colour) at a candy store and thought I would compare them to their North American counterparts, which use artificial colour.

Well, you tell me – is the difference so much that you or any kid you know is going to be heartbroken if they have to eat the ones coloured naturally? It’s crazy. I actually like the way some of the naturally coloured ones look better. And of course, the taste is the same, as far as I can tell.

So the big question is, why does Nestle in the UK make candy using natural colours, but cannot do the same thing in North America? Yes, I know the answer ($$$?), but I’d like to really know the answer they would give if I wrote a letter and asked them.

I feel lucky that I am going to be making my 1 year old’s first birthday cupcake in a country where I will have more options for going wild with the decorative toppings, along with my own naturally coloured frosting. Fun should not have to be artificial…

get your ABCs naturally at bulk barn

Bulk Barn is one of my favorite stores. What is not to like about a place where you can get all sorts of baking supplies, whole grains, organic ingredients and british candy all under one roof with the added benefit of buying in bulk? As I have mentioned before, my trips years ago to the Bulk Barn used to be all about the candy, and the rows of brightly coloured goodies are still mighty tempting, but now I see them in a different light. Most of the stuff is artificially coloured and flavoured, not to mention other yucky things like preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc. So, the other day I thought I’d see if I could find any candy that was relatively “natural” which I could use as fun toppings on my cupcakes. Well, the interesting thing was there was a small section of “natural” candies which were made with real fruit juice, but only ONE of the candies had ONLY natural colour and flavour – alphabet gummies. My only problem was after scooping out quite a few, I ended up with not a great variety of letters, much like a frustrating game of scrabble. I will have to go back and take a closer look at the letters in the bin – it would be nice to be able to spell something!

Oh and yes, they taste and feel like real gummy candies. Nice to know I can get something like this close to home rather than making the trek to a large natural foods store…

morning lemon – easy peasy green tea lemonade

Another successful copycat beverage – green tea lemonade. The natural foods store around the corner from me is having an awesome sale on Santa Cruz lemonade (regular and raspberry which is highly addictive) $1.99 a bottle – you should check your local natural store!

I brewed up green tea (I like Yogi brand) – 2 tea bags in approx 2 cups just-before-boiling water – and put into an empty lemonade bottle, which filled it up about halfway. I topped it up with lemonade, gave it a good shake and popped it in the fridge. A bit later over ice it was perfect.

almo(st) mochaccino

It was big news when Starbucks opened in my neighborhood, which is made up of mostly small independent shops and cafes. Of course it had to open near the end of my pregnancy, when I was desperately craving chocolatey/milky things daily. My husband and I got a bit too used to the 2 minute walk around the corner and also chose to ignore the significant amount of money flying out of our wallets. Well, now that baby is out, we have cut back significantly. A big reason for me besides spending too much is that too much dairy consumption by me noticeably affects my boy – in a spit up way! Not that it is causing him discomfort, but I was getting a bit sick of changing my/his clothes a couple of times a day.

Taking all this into account, I decided I still needed a daily treat (trust me, when you are taking care of a newborn, you need this) but I didn’t want to spend lots of money, and I didn’t want to have dairy or soymilk. So, I decided to invest in a thermo-cup and create my own version of a mochaccino – 1/2 instant coffee, 1/2 chocolate almond milk. Of course it doesn’t taste like a Starbucks mocha, but more money in the bank and less laundry makes it worth it. Besides, I love almond milk, and it does taste pretty dang good.

If you don’t like to have too much dairy and you have never tried almond milk, I highly recommend it. It has a nice consistency – thinner than soy milk but not as thin as rice milk, and it tastes great (not too almondy like you would think). I use the original unsweetened on cereal, have used the vanilla for baking (makes cupcakes extra moist!) and the chocolate is good straight up in a glass.

Stay tuned for another faux Starbucks drink attempt soon – green tea lemonade!

product newsflash – naturally coloured candy canes

candycanes.jpgI have to interrupt the silence of December views to let you know about a great product – naturally coloured and flavoured candy canes made by Pure Fun, who have made an appearance on this blog before. I took a special trip to Whole Foods the other day, and was rewarded when I turned the corner into the salad bar section and saw a huge display of these beauties. I was so excited to try them – they taste great. It’s so nice to know you can eat something fun and sweet this time of year and not worry about the artificial colouring. And the price is not bad – $2.99 for a pack of 12 is definitely worth it to me. So I thought I’d share this photo of cupcakes I made for our neighbours using the candy canes as a topping on peppermint frosting. Unfortunately I did not get to taste one of these lovelies this time around, but have been told they were yummy!

xmascups01.jpg

morning lemon – sweet sparkles

lemonadelabel1.jpgSo, being pregnant, I have a bit of an exaggerated sweet tooth. I try to keep it in check as best I can, but I figure, hey – I may only get this chance once so I might as well indulge a bit! Of course, even though I want something sweet, it doesn’t mean I want something loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives. At one of my favorite stores down the street Farmer’s Daughter, I often peek at/covet the elegant bottles of french lemonade. So the other day I thought – today’s the day I’m just going to let myself have one. There is good reason why I don’t indulge in these bottles more often, and it has nothing to do with the ingredients – it’s the price. The bottle I picked up was $7.25 (yikes) so if you ever see them anywhere for less than that, you’re getting a deal.

lemonadelabel2.jpgA short ingredient list – that’s what I love. Especially in these lemonades (I got the classic “french” style which is clear, but there is also a more lemony one, and pink, plus a few other interesting drinks in their product line) when all you’re looking at is carbonated water, beet sugar (as opposed to cane sugar) citric acid, and lemon aroma (which I’m assuming is from some sort of herb – maybe lemon balm?) The pink lemonade is coloured with elderberry concentrate – nice. As it clearly states on the bottle “contains no juice” – so it’s not a nutritional drink, it’s a treat. But a treat you can feel pretty good about instead of having a soda. I’m sure they would make a great mixer for alcoholic drinks at parties as well – I’ll have to get back to you about that sometime next year…