Peanut Soup

Peanut Soup

Peanut Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1 bunch hearty greens of your choice (kale or collards work well), ribs removed and chopped into 1″ strips
  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  •  hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, sweet potato, and salt. Cook on medium for 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium sized, heat-resistant cooking bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste. Transfer 1-2 cups of the broth to the bowl, and whisk the mixture together until it’s smooth. Pour the peanut mixture back into the pot and stir well.
  3. Stir in the greens, and season the soup to taste with hot sauce. Simmer for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.
  4. Serve over quinoa or a grain of your choice if desired, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

Recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate

How Vine is (getting) Better than Dundas for the World!

Well, it’s been seven months since we moved into our swanky new digs at Vine Ave, and while it’s quite obvious how much prettier than our old location our new Vine Ave. location is,what may be less obvious is all the ways we’ve tried to make our Vine Ave location better for the world as part of our commitment to environmental stewardship.

In honour of Earth Day, we’re documented the top five ways we’re living out our environmental values:

  1. More environmentally responsible equipment
    • The ORCA! Seriously, this guy is amazing. The ORCA is a made-in-Toronto innovation that sustainably processes food waste. A bunch of times a day, we feed the ORCA most organic waste materials we have – like peelings and stems, floor found bulk, and old bread – and it rapidly composts them, turns them into liquid (!!!), and sends the liquid into the sewage system. This whale of a machine diverts food waste disposal from landfills AND reduces methane gas production.
    • Our fridge system. We love our fridge system. We’ve told you about it before. But seriously, it’s the best. It’s giant, looks like it comes from a science fiction movie, and micromanages all of our fridges and freezers, recycling hot and cold water from the massive refrigeration system to help keep the store cool in the summer and comfy in the winter! Energy efficiency is sexy.
    • LED and recycled lights. All the light fixtures on the retail floor are LED, and all the ones in the back are recycled lights. We hope to get our back rooms lit by LED soon, too!
    • And more! Moving meant upgrading all kinds of equipment, and we really tried to make it all waaaaay more efficient. Highlights include: new kitchen equipment that lets us heat things up in ten minutes that at Dundas took us two hours (cringe); our swanky energy-efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system; and our sweet new cash systems.

 

  1. Way less packaging – one of the cool things about being bigger is that we can be pickier about packaging due to increased selection. Our two fave examples of this are:
    • Our fish and meat counter.  Before the advent of our beloved counter, all meat had tobe individually packed in plastic. Now, we wrap everything in paper – to your request, and so use way less packaging.
    • Our bulk department (which has grown 400%!) now encourages taring – for tips on how to shop litterless in the bulk aisle, check out this blog post.

 

  1. Reducing food waste and addressing food insecurity – No waste. No hunger. 
    • We’ve always been committed to addressing both environmental and social problems in our city by donating food to Sistering – a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed – most days of the week.
    • Because we’re so much bigger now, we’ve recently added Second Harvest’s Food Rescue program to our list of partners, so we can make sure as much of our food waste as possible goes to humans not landfills.

 

  1. Supporting our staff to reduce their carbon footprint.
    • We love our staff. They’ve always been a big part of living our values, but at Vine we’re trying harder than ever to support and encourage them to do their part for the environment. How do you get to work? It’s one of the easiest ways you can affect environmental change. At Vine, we not only have indoor bicycle parking, but we also have a bike-to-work incentive for our staff. If you bike to work a certain number of days (or kilometres) per month, you get cash to use towards bike repairs or purchases. 14% percent of our staff are using this program, and we’re already hearing from them that we need waaaay more bike parking!

 

  1. Using our influence – one of the biggest ways we can affect environmental change now more than ever is through our purchasing power. As we buy and sell more, we have more influence in asking companies and farmers to produce and sell more organic products.

 

And this is just where we are right now. We are far from perfect! We know there’s tons more we can do – from adding solar panels to our roof, to going 80% paperless in our back room, to putting UV/Heating control tint on our windows, to adding daylight-sensitive dimming powers to lights, to getting an e-truck to transport our produce purchases. Reducing our carbon footprint is a messy, complex, and long-term project. But we’re committed to it, we’re working on it, and we sure do think we’re going in the right direction.

Be Prepared to Spring Into Allergy Season

We want you to breathe easy and be prepared for the upcoming allergy season, so we assembled this list of tips. Different things work for different bodies, and we’ve had successes with:

 

  • Limiting foods that are mucus forming: dairy based products, refined flours, and processed foods
  • Drinking nettle and/or feverfew tea to support your immune system and reduce headaches commonly associated with allergies
  • Increasing your Vitamin C intake – foods like bell peppers, lemons, broccoli, and parsley are great additions to your diet
  • Supplementing with Quercetin, a bioflavonoid antioxidant found in citrus fruits. Take 1000-3000 mg daily as a natural antihistamine.
  • Getting and using a Neti Pot  – it helps to clear nasal passageways for pressure relief and congestion
  • Taking 1 tsp of black seed oil daily to reduce allergy-related symptoms. Black seed oil (or Black Cumin seed oil) is an antioxidant which has anti-bacterial and viral properties. Daily usage can help fight off infections of the respiratory tract. Its rich Omega 7 content hydrates the mucus membranes in your respiratory system and (bonus!) it doubles as a beauty product for hair and skin!
  • Using natural herbal and homeopathic products at the beginning of allergy season to reduce symptoms such as Deep Immune by St. Francis, Allergy Relief by A.Vogel and Sabalia by Boiron!
  • Adding Aromatherapy to your Allergy Arsenal!  Steam inhalation reduces sinus congestion and pressure headaches. Add essential oils such as family friendly Ravinsara (safe for children 6 months+), Eucalyptus and Camphor to hot water. (Note: do not boil the water to reduce the risk of injury.) Be sure to drape a towel over your head, close your eyes, and breathe deeply through your nose.

Continue reading “Be Prepared to Spring Into Allergy Season”

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup Nuts To You Nut Butter (Hazelnut or Almond Hazelnut)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla flavour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • Crofter’s Raspberry Premium Spread for filling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to about 325°F
  2. Cream Butter
  3. Add sugar and egg yolks to butter gradually, continuing to cream. Mix in Nuts to You Butter and vanilla flavour.
  4. In a separate bowl mix baking powder into all-purpose flour. Add to the creamy mixture.
  5. With your hands knead into a smooth dough.
  6. Shape dough into balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Make sure there is enough space between the dough balls. With the end of a wooden cooking spoon, poke a hole into the centre of each ball and fill with Crofter’s Raspberry Spread. Using a reusable piping bag is recommended.
  8. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Put on a metal rack to cool off before storing them in a cookie tin.

Delectable Brisket & Marinade Recipe

Name any Jewish holiday, and people will tell you they ate brisket. We could go so far as to say brisket is a dish no Jewish feast is complete without, the Holy Grail of Jewish food.

Traditionally, brisket was considered an undesirable piece of meat, because it’s tough and requires a long time to cook. This inexpensive cut was embraced by the Jewish population of Eastern Europe, many of them itinerant labourers and peasant farmers. Large enough to feed a family, this slow-cooked meal has become synonymous with Jewish holidays.

Brisket is also popular throughout the Southwestern United States, where butchers who emigrated from Germany and Czechoslovakia turned a “tough sell” into a dry rubbed, spicy, smoky delicacy.

Whether you’re die-hard for your bubbe’s brisket recipe, a Texas style smoked brisket aficionado, or a brisket neophyte, you will no doubt agree that this old-fashioned pot roast, braised for hours with browned onions, carrots, celery and tomato, is the ultimate comfort food. Full-flavoured, fork-tender meat in a broth so rich it threatens to steal the show… this one’s a doozy.

Whether you are celebrating Passover or enjoying a relaxed Sunday supper, you’ll want to bookmark this bubbe-approved recipe – classic, convenient, and comforting.

Chag Sameach! Happy Passover!

Easy Overnight Marinade

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients together, and pour the mixture over your brisket. Leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge, turning occasionally (when convenient, or when you remember).

If you want to keep the marinade, it will be still good for about a week in the fridge – so you can totally use it again to make other things delicious!

Beautiful Braised Brisket

Ingredients

  • 1 beef brisket (around 2lbs)
  • 2 large white onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery ribs
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (796mL) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup wine or beer
  • 3 tbsp canola oil

Directions

  1. Prepare your vegetables: chop the onion, the carrots, and the celery. Aim for 1″ pieces.
  2. Set the rack in your oven to the lower third, and heat your oven to 350°.
  3. In a large, oven-safe pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it gets shimmery. Rub both sides of the brisket with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of each), and brown it in the pot, turning it once. Remove the browned brisket to a plate.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pot and cook them until they turn golden-brown (about 12-15 min). Add in the carrots, celery, and garlic, and cook for another 10-12 min, stirring occasionally. Add the wine or beer, stirring well and scraping up the yummy bits from the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes, and bring the pot to a simmer.
  6. Return the brisket to the pot (the liquid almost certainly won’t completely cover the brisket. Don’t worry, it’s not supposed to). Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, stick it in the oven, and braise it for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours (until it’s fork tender).

We’ve come a long way, baby!

WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!

 

As we prepare to celebrate our 10 year anniversary with a party like no other, we can’t help but get nostalgic as – digging through old boxes – we find pics that really bring us back.

 

Do you remember how we started? We were a bunch of kids when we opened the High Park Organic Market – learning to buy and sell produce, teaching ourselves how to build displays, and working a full week in three days. We’d start just after dawn, working through the weather, and busting butt the way that only young people can. We don’t have a ton of photos from back then; nobody really expected things to go the way they did, so we weren’t preoccupied with documenting things.

 

After a few years, our customers convinced us to open a year-round store – you probably know how this part goes. Some of you might even remember how it looked in those early days: we had handmade wooden shelves, and the front of the store was occupied with our short-lived smoothie bar!

 

Remember this?

One lesson we learned early on was to pay attention to what our customers wanted, and be unafraid of change.

 

Post smoothie bar, we used the space at the front of the store for what we lovingly called the “Chip Cave”: cases of potato chips, stacked floor to ceiling. We had a little seating area at the front, which folks really appreciated, although at least one person seemed to think that chairs were only an impediment to real relaxation!

Around that time we started to really grow and specialize, hiring new managers and expanding our offering. Word got around that The Sweet Potato was on the up and up and we won Now magazine’s Best Of Toronto in the Organic Grocery category!

 

 

 

We’ve always been pretty involved and invested in the Junction neighborhood, and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to step up our community game. Every year, we donate hundreds of pumpkins to the Junction Pumpkinfest – the local pumpkin carving event for kids and families – and every year it’s a treat for our staff to dress up, head out, and spend the day reveling in the mad energy of kids wielding sharps in service of their creativity!

 

“Let ME do it!”

 

At a certain point, we started to think it was time we got serious about our branding, and so we put our heads together and came up with a pretty great slogan (if we do say so ourselves):

 

 

 

Our team expanded to include some great design talent, and we started expressing our sweet attitude visually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ran a Body Care Blitz through the summer of 2017, and had SUCH a good time designing a new themed ad every week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with the opportunity to sponsor a local roller-derby team came an opportunity to build an ad that was too good to pass up!

 

 

 

 

Our flyer also went through a bunch of changes over the years… do you remember shopping this sweet design exactly five years ago?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, we kept on growing and improving. We got fancy new fixtures, and a great new fridge, and added a bunch of freezers, and had the great idea of dispensing free fruit to kids… and then there was that one summer when we got written up in two different Japanese culture magazines!

 

We’re pretty big in Japan.

 

When we had grown as much as we could at our original Dundas Street West location, we started planning to move to Vine Ave. We got the word out, and gave out free ice cream every Sunday during the summer to help folks find their way to the future site of our new store!

 

 

We learned a new lesson during this time: moving an existing store and setting up a new store should – by rights – take a lot longer than a few days, or even a week. No matter; our awesome team worked round the clock to miraculously open the doors of 108 Vine Ave just in time for our  Grand Opening Party on September 24th, 2017.

 

 

We’ve been at our new location for over five months now and it’s amazing how quickly we’ve adjusted. Even more amazing: how our customers have welcomed us once more to this community we’ve been so proud and privileged to call home.

 

You – our customers – have been the source of not just our survival, but also our growth and evolution. You asked for a year-round place to buy organic and local produce in the company of the weird and wacky folk like the few who started the High Park Organic Market; we opened our Dundas West store.

 

You asked for aisles wide enough to push full-sized shopping carts and strollers (heck, both!) through, an apothecary where you could stock up on vitamins and supplements, an expanded product selection, a sweet community space to eat and catch your breath… the list goes on. And to you, we say a resounding and enthusiastic: YES! Because every day as you shop our (now spacious) aisles, you give us the humbling, overwhelming gift of being able to be our fun and quirky selves, obsessed with bringing you the most incredible and exciting selection of products we can get our hands on at the sweetest prices. You let us do what we love. And we love doing it for you. 

 

Happy 10 years! Thank you!