Category: Occasion

A Holiday for Everyone

There’s something special about the meals associated with winter holidays. Something about a set and laden table, with the cold dark just outside the windows – it makes things feel particularly comfy, and wholesome, and welcoming.

And with that spirit in mind, we want to make sure that our holiday meals are open and accessible to everyone, not just folks who share our personal preferences for what to eat and drink. We try hard to accommodate different diets and lifestyles, so that everyone we love can come together and be thankful in joy and deliciousness:

First, there’s always our perfect roast turkey recipe and delicious cranberry sauce. In addition to that, and the many yummy veggie dishes, we always like to have at least one more hearty main dish that isn’t meat based. We love the sound of this vegan meatloaf, but in a pinch we might just grab one of the frozen Vegan Roasts we sell at the store.

Like a lot of other of people, we like to cook our stuffing outside the bird – this allows the bird to cook more quickly and evenly, makes sure the stuffing itself is cooked properly, and most importantly lets us make several different kids of stuffing, including ones for our friends who are vegan and paleo or keto.

Many of our favourite veggie dishes are already totally vegan-friendly, like our Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Shitaaki Miso Gravy, Roasted Maple Delicata Squash, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes; others can be made so with just one or two easy substitutions, like our Crispy Brussel Sprouts, made with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan, and our beloved Grean Beans with Garlicky Pine Nuts, in which we just omit the butter.

For dessert, we like to serve a variety of fresh fruit, as well as our vegan-friendly Peach Sorbet; this year we’re planning on making a paleo-AND-keto friendly avocado ice cream!

As well as food, though, it’s always important to us that our place be really accessible and inviting – both physically and emotionally. That is very much an ongoing process, and it starts by asking some simple questions about what we can do to help our guests (including the ones we don’t know yet!) navigate our space with ease and comfort. While this article is more concerned with having a large dance-type party, the questions it asks and points it raises are a great starting point to help you throw parties for everyone. Which is the goal, really – because aren’t good times even better when they’re shared?  

Happy holidays!

What’s YOUR Turkey?

Image by Flickr user Joyocity

Food means so much to us, in part because it’s delicious and in part because it’s so intimately connected to memory. That said, it’s also where we do some of our most delicious experimentation! In the spirit of the holidays, we love a roast turkey, but we also wanted to know what the alternatives are (especially because we might have so many guests that we can’t cook all the turkeys in our oven) – so here’s a few cool different ways to cook a bird:

 

  1. The traditional oven-roasted bird.
  2. Spatch-cocked. We’ve never done this, but our amazing butcher at The Sweet Potato will always happily spatchcock a bird for anyone, so we’re strongly considering it.
  3. Smoked. You don’t need an official smoker for this, you can do it on any bbq big enough to hold the bird (even a propane grill!)
  4. Deep fried. I know that sounds pretty extreme, but I have family who do this every year – they just set up outside with a big pot on a propane burner (like this one), and basically just sit around, enjoying a seasonal beverage, until it’s done.
  5. Poached! It might sound funny, but it’s guaranteed juicy, nearly impossible to overcook, and it’s a tremendously convenient way cook a second-turkey without a second oven.

If you try any of these, or you have your own atypical bird-cooking technique, we’d love to hear about it!  Let us know in the comments, below!

The Sweet Potato Toronto - school lunches from around the world - a sampling of what's eaten for lunch in Japan

School Lunches Around the World

School Lunches Around the World

The Sweet Potato Toronto - school lunches from around the world - a sample menu from France

Image via Karen LeBillon

Isn’t it interesting that there’s no such thing as ‘kid food’ in much of the world? And how different countries treat the “public school lunch” is fascinating. The effects of a quality national school lunch program have broad positive implications for overall health and happiness for years to come. Canada could totally learn something from these three countries. 

France

The Sweet Potato Toronto - sample monthly school lunch menu in France

Image via Karen Le Billon. Learn more about school lunches in France at her site

Renowned for their fine cuisine, France’s lunch game is strong. Starting in their preschool program all the way through elementary that ends at age 12, it’s a four course meal that begins with a salad (beet, or grated carrot), followed by a protein served with a side of grains or veggies, a cheese course and finally dessert. Of course there’s fresh baguette served with every meal too. And this is all by design: the French curriculum, where lunch is concerned, includes “developing the palate” as well as developing social skills – table manners, conversational skills – necessary to a successful life.  

 

Japan

The Sweet Potato Toronto - school lunches from around the world - a sampling of what's eaten for lunch in Japan

Image via Domo Daruma

In Japan, early childhood education emphasizes healthy eating and all that goes along with preparing and consuming meals. Students take turns serving up the hot meals to their teachers and peers each week, and in many jurisdictions, there are no janitorial staff to do the day-to-day tidying. Students are responsible for keeping the classroom, and school at large, in order.

 

Lunches are also not rushed and loud. It’s a sacred time where students are encouraged to take their time savouring their meal. Lunches are served in classrooms – most elementary schools don’t have cafeterias. So it’s a cozier setting already.

Brazil

The Sweet Potato Toronto - school lunches from around the world, a sample of a lunch in Brazil

Image via Huffington Post

Brazil’s Zero Hunger Program, administered through their public schools feeds over 42 million students every year. Not only has it been instrumental in decreasing malnutrition rates, and working healthy eating into the curriculum, it’s also groundbreaking in the way it supports local farmers. Thirty per cent (30%) of ingredients for school lunches must come from local family farms. Brazil is a growing country, with an emerging economy, but it, above others, has done much better in its bid to eradicate extreme poverty. Their national school lunch program is both reason and example of how. Brazil’s school feeding program is considered one of the best in the world.

 

With all these international models, it’s a shame we don’t do better at school lunches in our own backyard. Food is political, food is fun, food is how we socialize and celebrate, access to whole foods is necessary for good health. Food literacy is something we should be including in our curriculum. Here’s hoping we move in that direction.

Looking for more back to school Content?

After School Snack Ideas to Keep Hangriness At Bay

Top Tips to Make this the Best Year Ever

The Next Most Important Meal of the Day

What rivals breakfast as the most important meal of the day? Ask any parent of school-aged kids and they’ll all answer “after school snack”. Yup, post-school pick up is prime hangry time. Those kids have been holding it together all day, working really hard, and that school bell can release a lot of tension. One way to help manage after-school energy dips is with a favourite nutrient-dense snack. Try these quick and fun ideas!

After School Snacks: The Tried and True

It doesn’t need to be IG-worthy or a pin from Pinterest. Some crackers, cubed cheese and fruit will be devoured in moments. Or if your kids want to go the sweet route, their fave yogurt, a dollop of jam, topped with granola and berries will feel like dessert before dinner.

Avocado Boats

Image via Super Healthy Kids. Full recipe here.

If you want to win silly points for almost no effort, smash some avocado, dress it however your kids will eat it, put it back in the rind, surround with waves of tortillas. Avocado Boat. Done.

 

After School Snacks: On the Go

Fruit and Veggie Loaves

The sweet Potato Toronto - Sweet Potato Kitchen's daily fresh-baked banana bread

Banana bread, zucchinni muffins, pumpkin chocolate loaf – this is the season to hide fruit and veg in delish baked goods. Packed with fibre and protein, baked goods are a great way to pack a nutritional punch on the go.  Don’t feel like baking? The Sweet Potato kitchen has freshly baked banana bread every day. And oh is it good. Like really, really, really good.

Energy Balls

The Sweet Potato Toronto, after school snack ideas - energy balls

Image via Amy Gorin Nutrition. Recipe for Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites here.

Protein balls are all the rage right now and with good reason. These gooey little spheres pack a real nutritional punch and are super quick to whip up. With no-bake recipes that include ingredients like nut butters, oats, seeds, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and dates they are pretty tasty to boot. Kids love ’em and they’re a super choice if you want to level blood sugars and fill tummies enough to get you through to dinner hour.

After School Snack: Frosty Treats

Remember last September here in Toronto when the summer weather finally arrived…in September? September and October are such transitional months here and it can be nice to have snacks on hand that mind the weather. 

Frozen grapes dipped in yogurt

The Sweet Potato Toronto after school snack ideas - frozen grapes dipped in yogurt

Image via Super Healthy Kids. Visit site for full instructions

Here’s a cool idea (literally), freeze grapes, then dip them in yogurt, then freeze them again to set. Easy-peasy, and an instant kid classic for sure.

Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana Bites

The Sweet Potato Toronto , after school snack ideas - thekitchn.com recipe for banana bites

Image via the kitchn. Full recipe here.

Not exactly a healthy balanced snack. But points for both wow and yum factor. Plus I’m pretty sure science agrees, chocolate’s got loads of health-promoting properties. 

Looking for more Back-to-School Ideas? Check out these posts!

Quick and Fun After-School Snack Ideas to Keep the Hangries at Bay

School Lunches Around the World

 

5 tips for starting the school year off right

Kiddo starting school for the first time this year? Make this the best school year ever with these simple tips.

 

  1. The Lunch Gear

Many TDSB schools are eco-school certified and committed to zero waste lunches. That means if you’re sending lunches and snacks to school in disposable packaging, you can expect garbage, recyclables and compost to boomerang back home.

New lunch gear makes it easier than ever to pack exciting foods your kids will actually eat while cutting down on packaging waste. Our family is partial to the bento style lunch boxes where we can divide foods up. It’s nice to keep the wet away from the crispy, while also ensuring green foods never touch red, obvi.

James, our in-house butcher and Red Seal Chef, packs his kids’ gorgeous charcuterie platters with these lunch kits. While my beigetarians enjoy yogurt with fruit for dipping and hummus with crackers and veggies for dipping in theirs. Boring, but nutricious! 

  1. Practice Makes Perfect

If you’ve got youngins just starting kindie or grade one, now’s the perfect time to get those water bottles, bento boxes, lunch bags and containers. Lunch hour’s bedlam. Truly, it’s unbridled chaos. Make sure your kids are pros at twisting open that thermos, inserting that straw, and opening and resealing that container. They may not have help when they need it (and ensuring they know how to pack up the leftovers, means less of a leaky mess for you when it comes home).

  1. Allergy Safe

The Sweet Potato Toronto - look for this logo when looking for certified peanut free foods for schoolsAll TDSB schools are nut-free zones. So as quintessential as PB and J are, they should be reserved for after school and weekends. In fact, if a classmate’s allergy is severe enough, families may be instructed to wash hands and brush teeth if they absolutely must consume nuts in the morning so as to best limit possible exposure in class. Some classrooms will have to ban other ingredients too for the safety of their students. Look for a notice at the beginning of the year from your budding scholar’s teacher. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school. 

  1. Handwashing

The Sweet Potato Toronto - handwashing social story for kindergarteners

The start of the school year, very much means the start of cold and flu season. If this is your youngin’s first year at school, be prepared for the kindergarten plague. Our eldest kiddo’s first year, we were sick ALL. YEAR. LONG. To limit the spread of germs now’s a really good time to brush up on good handwashing skills (15 seconds, lots of suds, get between fingers and don’t forget the nail beds.). My kindie aged kids and I sing the ABCs as we wash up. And tucking a travel-sized hand sanitizer into backpacks is a good idea too.

  1. Setting an intention before bed

Not every student is excited for September. Even those A-achieving social butterflies, get butterflies at the thought of school a new school year. Simple mindfulness activities before bed can help tame jitters and make the next morning a teensy bit easier. And it’s never too early to empower kids with the understanding that they can control their inner monologue.

6. The Eye Test!

The Sweet Potato Toronto - get your kids eyes tested before back to school. It's OHIP covered

Aaaaand, a bonus tip? Get kiddo’s eyes checked before the school year! Annual eye exams for kids are OHIP covered, and if your kindie-aged kiddo needs specs, there’s a free program for that too!

You’ve got this kiddo! You too, parentals!

Looking for more Back-to-School ideas? Check out these posts!

School Lunches Around the World

Quick After-School  Snacks to Keep the Hangries at Bay

Make No Missed-Steak

These sweet steaks’ll have you coming back for second cuts… and second helpings!

As you gear up for your BBQ season grill-stravaganza, we implore you not to overlook cuts like flank, skirt and flat iron steak. Striploin and ribeye are nice, but second cuts are where it’s at for deep, bold beefy flavours, heavy marbling and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. As our Master Butcher and Red Seal Chef James Tober says: “Second cuts are the first cuts of flavour.” Continue reading “Make No Missed-Steak”

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!