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”

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!

 

 

An Apple A Day

 

OK, so we know the drawn out dregs of January doesn’t exactly seem like an apple-ish time of year. After all, aren’t apples and all their crisp, honeyed glory an Autumn thing? This winter, we’ve been astounded by all the amazing apples cropping up. So – to prolong Fall’s fresh glory, and fight the winter blah’s with crunch, juice and flavour – we’re putting on a Spartan-tacular, Fuji-licious, Royal Gala of an apple sale.

What do you need to know?

There’ll be a different apple on sale every single day starting today, January 26th. What kind? You’ll have to check our social feeds or drop by for the delicious details.

Our store’ll be studded with other apple-tizing treats. Until February 1st, enjoy #SweetDeals on:

 

Applesnax Apple Sauce ($3.99 / 6x113g)- Canadian, organic and gluten-free 6-packs of snack-tacular apple sauce. The kids are gonna have to fight you for these.

 

Nutiva Chocolate Hazelnut Spread ($6.99 / 369g)- This organic spread is the perfect foil to Fujis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Meadow Yogurt and Daiya Greek Yogurt ($2.99/500g and $1.69/175g) – Whether you do dairy or you don’t, these yogurt (or no-gurt, as the case may be) sales, are the perfect excuse to make these Apple Pie Yogurt Parfaits from @aseasyasapplepie. This recipe includes a salted caramel drizzle. Need we say more?

 

Mornington Medium Goat Cheddar ($7.99/200g) – With outstanding depth of flavour, this certified organic, Canadian-made goat milk cheddar is complex and creamy, and perfectly paired with Braeburn or Fuji apples.

 

 

Pine River Caramelized Onion Cheddar ($5.49/180g) – Granny Smiths, Thornbury Golden Flax Bread and a slather of butter and you have yourself a grilled cheese worthy of center plate.

 

 

 

 

Bob’s Red Mill Oats ($7.99/907g) – The perfect excuse to try these Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats by @thatcleanlife – a recipe that’s even more delicious than it is easy. And it’s really, really easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know how they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away? It’s a thing! Read more about that here. Or just take our word for it. Whatever your reasons, you’ll want to get in-store and get some! Ready, set, apple!

Post-Holiday Recovery Guide

Imagine if the New Year came complete with an all expenses paid trip to a luxurious spa, at which your primary obligations are subjecting yourself to every possible detoxifying treatment whilst sipping smoothies. Not in the cards? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

These are our top 3 picks for post-holiday recovery. Whether you ate too many cookies, enjoyed too many toasts or caught your toddler’s bug… stop by our Natural Apothecary and we’ll get you sorted.

 

Himalaya Liver Care

These vegetarian capsules are formulated to support the healthy daily detoxification and cell regeneration of your liver. If your head still hurts from ringing in the New Year, you’ll be happy to know it also works to eliminate “acetaldehyde”, the toxic byproduct of alcohol intake.

 

 

Flora Elderberry Crystals for Children and Adults 

Elderberry can be used preventatively, or at the onset of a cold or flu to shorten its duration. It’s used in herbal medicine to help relieve symptoms like cough, sore throat and catarrh of the upper respiratory tract (mucus discharge and buildup). Try this kid-approved recipe for an Elder-Power Smoothie and toast to your health!

 

Elder-Power Smoothie

Makes 1 smoothie

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. Flora Flax Oil
4 tbsp. organic Greek yogurt
3 g Acerola Powder
5 g Elderberry Crystals
1 cup frozen blueberries or raspberries
1 small banana
1 cup almond or coconut milk
Combine all ingredients, blend until smooth

Original recipe can be found here.

 

Genuine Health Advanced Gut Health Probiotic

Chock full of probiotic strains – 15 of them to be exact – specifically chosen to mimic human gut flora, this probiotic aids in food intolerances, allergies, skin issues, bloating, weak digestion, low immunity and brain fog. With 60-80% of our immune system located in our guts (yup!), the state of our digestive system is a key factor in our overall health. These shelf-stable vegan capsules are great for travelling or if you are on-the-go. So go – with your gut, that is!

We are going on a food holiday…

If the holidays were happening on a desert island, these are the products we’d pack to be ready for anything, from surprise visits from Uncle Allan and Aunt Bonnie to setting a sweet holiday spread. If our island had a pantry (and a fridge, and a freezer, you get the picture), these are the essentials we’d stock them with.

 

Camino Hot Chocolate Mix

 

It’s like a hug in a mug, covered in chocolate! Camino’s Organic Fair Trade Hot Chocolate Mixes are on #SweetDeal for $2 off right now.

 

 

So Delicious Coconut Holiday Nog

 

Whoever thought to kick up already rich and creamy nog by making it coconut-based is seriously a genius. Bonus: your vegan friends will be chuffed! Try it this season at 2 for $7!  

 

Gardein Holiday Roasts

 

You know how many vegetarian recipes promise to be loved by vegetarians and meat eaters alike? Well, this one actually is. Definitely treat your plant-based guests to one of these, and stuff a few extra in your freezer. They’re wicked easy to cook up once the leftovers are long gone and you find yourself craving holiday flavours.

 

Fiasco Holiday Gelato – Cranberry and Pear Sorbetto, Egg Nog

 

Tart cranberries. Slow poached pears. Rich, indulgent, frozen dessert. Egg. Nog. Need we say more? Grab a spoon at our soup counter… at least one of these babies ain’t making it home.

 

Alvéole Honey Tasting Box

 

What if you could taste the terroir of Toronto’s Junction, Leslieville, Cabbagetown, and Rosedale ‘hoods? Alvéole’s flight of premium grade honeys is that opportunity, each jar flavoured with the flora of this sweet city. This is a gift you’ll want to keep for yourself, but you *should* really use to flaunt how simultaneously cultured and cool you are.

 

Sweet Potato Kitchen Holiday Cookies

 

Listen, if Santa can’t get through them all, you’ll just have to step up and devour our holiday cookies. For the sake of the children. On #SweetDeal (3 for $5!), they are sweet satisfaction (and frankly, survival). So stock up. For Santa. Yeah. Santa.

 

Real Sweets Apple Pie

 

If you neither competed on nor auditioned for The Great Canadian Baking Show, you’re going to want to have one of these pies on-hand. You may or may not have the time or talent to produce a pie of this calibre… we ain’t judging. We’re just sayin’… these locally made, all natural, all butter crust pies (made with simple Non-GMO and organic ingredients to boot) are unreal.

 

Aura Cacia Bath Salt Packets

 

Guests are gone. Bath is drawn. Relax. Detox. Bring either the gelato or the pie into the tub with you…

 

 

 

One With Nature Soaps

 

As if you needed more reasons to buy these triple milled, Non-GMO, cruelty-free Dead Sea soap bars… these Sweet Stocking Stuffers are #SweetDeal right now!

 

 

Natural Factors Vitamin D Softgels

 

What does vitamin D do? The nutritionists at our new Natural Apothecary know. And our moms know. It’s so important that mom nags us about it every winter, and stuffed our stockings with it. As grown ups, it’s our responsibility to carry on the tradition. Here’s to the things we know are good for us… but don’t quite know why. And here’s to $4.99/bottle on #SweetDeal, too!

 

Let’s Talk Turkey: To Brine or Not to Brine?

Let’s talk turkey.

 

Often the centrepiece of a big holiday meal, it’s kind of crucial. It’s also easy to overcook and/or underflavour. So what’s a cook to do? Brine the bird! Brining is your ticket to a moist, delicious turkey. Read on to learn the difference between wet and dry brining, and the pros and cons of each.

 

Option 1: Wet Brine

 

Advantages:

  • relatively easy
  • proven effective
  • relatively quick
  • communicates to nosy/snobby relatives that you’re working hard to make the best meal possible

 

Disadvantages:

  • requires a lot of space
  • cooling your large pot of brine outside in the city of trash pandas is risky business

 

Basically, wet brining (aka what almost everybody means when they talking about brining a bird) is the process of submerging the turkey in salted water for a few days. The bird stays moist and juicy during cooking, and is infused with the flavours of salt and whatever else you’ve added to the brine… and you don’t end up with a dry, bland turkey situation. In fact, for that extra turkey flavour, some people like to brine their turkey in turkey stock – so if you’re so inclined, you can pick up some fresh organic made in-house turkey stock and take things to the next level!

 

The trickiest part of a wet brine is finding a container big enough to contain the bird and the liquid, and then making sure you have enough room in your fridge for it. If you’ve got that sorted, you’re good to go!

 

  1. Place a cleaned (cleaned, dried, giblets removed) turkey into a pot big enough to hold it and 4 L of water.
  2. In another pot, warm 1 L of water and stir in 1 cup of kosher salt (or ¾ cup of table salt), until totally dissolved.
  3. When the water is cool enough to touch (you don’t want to scald the bird), pour it into the pot with the turkey. Add another 3 L of water, and any aromatics you want to include. We like to throw in a bunch of sage, black peppercorns, and a few bay leaves.
  4. Cover the pot (if the turkey is floating, weigh it down with a plate or something so it’s totally submerged), and leave it in the fridge for at least two and up to 24 hours.
  5. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it, and pat it dry.

 

Option 2: Dry Brine

 

Advantages:

  • a novel technique (impress your foodie friends)
  • takes up less space
  • doesn’t require any follow-up (is immediately ready to cook)

 

Disadvantages:

  • gives critical family something to pick on
  • involves leaving an uncovered raw turkey in your fridge for days – so if you have little kids who are old enough to open the fridge and grab things but not yet old enough to respect boundaries, you might have a problem

 

A dry brine is basically the same thing as a wet brine, only without the water! All you do is rub the salt and spices directly into the turkey, and then leave it in the fridge overnight or for up to three days.

 

  1. Clean and dry your bird. Remove the giblets.
  2. Mix together 3 tbsp salt, ¾ tbsp ground black pepper, and about another 1½ tsp dried spices (we like to go hard on sage and thyme, but you do you).
  3. Sprinkle 2 tsp of the salt mix into the cavity of the bird.
  4. If you’re feeling fancy, carefully lift the skin from the breast of the bird, and rub another 4 tsp of the salt mixture into the breasts (under the skin).
  5. Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture onto the skin of the bird, focusing on the breast and the legs.
  6. Place the turkey breast-side up on a baking sheet or roasting pan and leave it uncovered in the fridge for 12-72 hours.

 

After Brining:

 

Whichever technique you use, once you’re done with the brine you can cook your turkey as you usually would. Brining can often shorten cooking time (the salt helps to break down the muscle proteins, so the bird is less tough before it even goes into the oven), so we’d recommend checking for doneness (with a meat thermometer) about an hour earlier than you’d think.

 

In Conclusion:

 

These are both really good techniques, and I personally can’t wait until I have the opportunity to cook two turkeys simultaneously, so I can dry-brine one and wet-brine the other and decide for myself which is better.

 

Honestly though, one of the best things you can do is make sure you’re starting with a good, healthy animal. All of the turkeys we sell at The Sweet Potato are locally and humanely raised at Yorkshire Valley Farms, where they are pastured and raised without antibiotics or hormones (and eat GMO-Free feed). Combine a great organic bird with some good brining, and then serve it with some wild rice and quinoa stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, and sweet potato pie and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success any way you brine it!

Smoked Cheddar Recipe Roundup

Do you love smoked cheddar, and want to use it in everything? We’re with you! Which is why we prepared this Smoked Cheddar Recipe Roundup! Please help us by sharing your favourite recipes!

Smoked Cheddar Recipe Roundup

1. Smoked Cheddar Quesadillas: Smoked cheddar, chicken breast cooked, Mexican oregano, cumin and caramelized onion shine in this classy quesadilla. From @GeniusKitchen.

2. For a brunch worthy of celebration, whip up this Apple, Sausage and Smoked Cheddar Breakfast Casserole from @thekitchn.

smoked cheddar apple and sausage breakfast skillet
image by Laura Volo, via thekitchn.com

3. Twice-baked Potatoes with Smoked Cheddar and Thyme turn a simple side dish into a main attraction. From @RockRecipes.

4. What’s better than smoked cheddar and apples? Smoked Cheddar Apple Pie, of course! Check out this divine recipe from Queer in the Kitchen.

5. And for a trendy take on a retro recipe, try this Gluten-Free Smoked Cheddar and Beer Fondue by @Cheeky Kitchen for some divine dipping.

image via CheekyKitchen.com