Review: MissFresh Food Subscription Box

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Working a full-time job, balancing a social life, and trying to eat healthy is no easy task – so when the concept of ready-to-cook food subscription boxes started popping up everywhere recently, it definitely peaked my interest! The idea behind a food subscription box is that you can choose a meal from a list of options, and you’ll be sent all the ingredients you need (in the precise proportions) to cook a quick, healthy meal at home.

Montreal based company MissFresh recently reached out to me, offering me the chance to test out their service and some of their recipes. The menu changes each week, and offers a range of different cuisines and dishes to suit your individual tastes. All of the ingredients come in an insulated box (so they don’t spoil while being shipped to you), and are accompanied by a recipe card with the instructions on how to cook each meal.

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A funny (mostly sad) story about my experience – the fridge in my home broke the day after I received my shipment! I was able to cook the first meal without a problem, but unfortunately lost the meat and dairy components of the second and third dishes. I picked up what I could of what was missing from the grocery store, and I think the recipes still turned out quite well. Of course this detracted from the convenience of it all, but I still wanted to see the dishes through and to test the recipes out.

Read my review of each dish below, as well as the MissFresh service as a whole!

Recipe 1: Lemony Rapini and Sausages

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This meal was tasty and easy to make, however I noticed immediately that the instruction cards that come with the ingredients aren’t as in depth as I’d like them to be. I found myself wondering what heat to have the pan at during some stages, and ended up Googling at times to compensate for the recipe. That being said, I’m definitely a novice chef, and I think more experienced cooks would have an easier time. I ended up overcooking the veggies a bit, sacrificing some of the texture of the meal. The dish had quite a tart finish (from the lemon juice), but the sausage meat added a flavourful punch against the slightly bitter rapini.

Recipe 2: Creamy Leek Polenta

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This was the most difficult dish of the three to make. Again, I felt the instructions on the card could have been more clear (especially since I’ve never made polenta before!) and I ended up with a bit of a hard, lumpy mess instead of the creamy texture that it was supposed to be. Oh well, you live and you learn! The dish still had good flavour, and was definitely filling, but unfortunately I struggled on execution.

Recipe 3: Calamari Whole Wheat Pasta

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My favourite of the three recipes, this surprisingly hearty dish hit the perfect balance with wine, garlic, and tender calamari. The instructions were easy to follow, and the portions were generous. The recipe called for raisins, but I ended up leaving them out as they’re not my favourite ingredient to use.

Overall I was pretty happy with my experience, although I did notice some of the ingredients that were sent weren’t the best quality. For example the rapini that arrived had already started to go bad in parts, and I ended up having to toss half. If I had paid full price for the service, I’m not sure it would have been worth it. However I do love the idea of being able to create healthy meals at home, under 30 minutes – especially with a busy schedule. Skipping the line at the grocery store is definitely super convenient!

There are a number of food box subscriptions on the market now that often offer a discount on the first order of the service. If you struggle with meal planning and have difficulty finding the time to cook for yourself, I definitely recommend you look into the different companies out there!

Do you have experience with food subscription boxes? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

 

The Best Brunch Spots in Toronto

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If I had to choose my favourite meal, it would hands down be brunch. It’s the perfect time to indulge in something sweet, something savoury, or a little bit of both. It’s also socially acceptable to have an alcoholic beverage before 2pm, which is okay in my books!

There was a period of time where you would find me brunching every weekend – and I mean every weekend. I’ve since cut back, after realizing a weekly eggs benny isn’t the most practical for your wallet (or your waistline)! However I did determine a few of my favourite brunch spots in Toronto after trying many of the popular restaurants in the city.

Here are my favourite spots for brunch in Toronto:

Wish 3 Charles St E

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Wish wins the award for the most instagramable and aesthetically pleasing brunch spot in the city. Make sure to book a reservation (and cross your fingers that you’ll land a spot on the adorable patio), because this place gets slam packed on weekends. The service can be hit or miss, and the crowd can be snooty, but the food is definitely tasty. I recommend the classic eggs benny, angus burger, or avocado toast!

The Good Fork2432 Bloor St W

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This is my pick for the most delicious, all-around menu. While I’m more of a savoury than sweet girl myself, there’s a great selection here and something for everybody. I can personally vouch for the ‘Daisy’ Benny and their take on Huevos Rancheros, but have also heard amazing things about their Red Velvet Pancakes. This is another spot that gets super packed on weekends, but unfortunately they don’t take reservations. I recommend visiting during off-peak hours so you’re not waiting around forever – however they do text you when your table is ready, which is a nice touch. It’s a bit out of the way in the West end, but definitely worth the journey!

The Starving Artist multiple locations

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If eggs benny is your brunch go-to, you’ll love this hip spot with three locations in the city. The ‘B. Benny’ is my spirit animal in benny form – poached eggs and caramalized bacon served on potato waffles. Yes, savoury waffles made from potatoes – my dream vehicle for receiving egg-y, bacon-y, deliciousness. I’ve visited their St Clair location which is a big, bright space with artwork from local artists hung on the walls. The music was a bit too intense the day I visited, but it was still an enjoyable experience. The Starving Artist is cash only, so come prepared!

Smith553 Church St

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Smith is a super cool spot in the Village with upper and lower dining rooms, as well as a patio space. The brunch rush is always hopping, which is a great sign when it comes to food. They serve up generous portions of delicious dishes (the brisket hash is my pick!), and the atmosphere is trendy and inviting. I have yet to be seated on their cute little patio, but will definitely be making it a priority this summer once the weather warms up!

Cafe Neon1024 Queen St W

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The Queen West outfit of this hip eatery (its other location in the Junction) is somewhat unassuming – the first time I walked by, it blended in with the local coffee shops. However upon closer inspection, I realized that the cafe actually had a larger dining room towards the back and I stopped in for brunch. Though the menu is quite small, it definitely hits all the brunch classics – pancakes, omelettes, and the usual fare. I was pleasantly surprised by their version of eggs benny, which included succulent pulled pork. The portions were large and everything was super yummy!

Barque Smokehouse299 Roncesvalles Ave

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Smoked. Duck. Pancakes. This is what first drew me to Barque – and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. If you’re into barbeque, you’ll love this restaurant. They offer a unique take on traditional brunch staples, all featuring their delicious barbeque – pulled pork, ribs, brisket and more. Their smoked duck panacakes come in a heaping portion smothered with a sweet blueberry compote and rich whipped goat cheese. I’m still dreaming about this meal. Barque is another place that gets super busy, but they do take reservations. Book ahead to avoid the wait!

I know what you’re thinking – where’s Mildred’s Temple Kitchen? Where’s Portland Variety? Sadly I haven’t yet made it out to some of the city’s most talked about brunch spots – simply because of the lines! It’s definitely on my bucket list for the next year to try out more places so I can fully assess and nail down my list of top spots. For now, these are my tried and true recommendations for some tasty brunch eats.

Let me know where your favourite place to brunch is in the comments below!

Baddies Toronto

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Baddies is a hip little eatery located at 679 Lansdowne Ave in Toronto, serving up breakfast, brunch and lunch items Monday through Sunday. After seeing swoon-worthy snaps of this cafe on Instagram, I had to go check it out for myself!

When I first arrived at Baddies, I was surprised by how small the space actually was. The cafe runs on a “seat yourself” concept, with tables for around eight parties set up. If the restaurant is full when you arrive, you can choose to sit on the “bleachers” located at the back of the cafe until a table frees up, or you can even order your food to eat there. Food is ordered at the main counter where you pay ahead, and a server will bring it out to you when it’s ready.

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The atmosphere is quite casual and noisy (since the space is so small), but beautifully decorated with exposed white brick, marble accents, surf-themed wallpaper, and hints of greenery. I also loved how much natural light came into the cafe!

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I had the smashed avocado (with heirloom beet labneh, seasonal greens, sunflower seed, pickled beet, roasted persimmons on Prairie Boy sourdough) and added a fried egg as well as a side of bacon. For avotoast to really be a “wow” dish, it has to be executed well – and this version was delicious. The meal was filling and full of bold flavours and interesting textures.

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I paired my smashed avo with a matcha latte, which was equally tasty!

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My friend got the brekky roll (with cumbraes dbl smoked bacon, sunny egg, chimmichurri, tomato relish, and blood brothers IPA BBQ sauce), which she also enjoyed!

The menu offered some yummy sounding sweet options as well, but my friend and I both lean towards more savoury dishes. We laughed about how we wished one of us liked sweets so we could get a better picture! Overall I enjoyed my experience at Baddies and would return – just be prepared to wait for a table if you’re visiting on a busy Saturday like I did.

Winterlicious 2017 at Pukka

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I have mixed feelings about Toronto’s annual winter culinary event, Winterlicious. Each year I find myself debating whether or not the three-course prix fixe menus are worth it, or if I’d be better off just ordering off the restaurant’s regular menu. However I always do end up making it out to try a few restaurants. I wouldn’t normally order three different dishes for myself, and Winterlicious is a good way to sample more of the menu than I typically would.

This year’s event took place from January 27th – February 9th, and I did have time to visit a couple of places for their Winterlicious menus. The standout for me was Pukka, a modern Indian gem tucked away on St. Clair West. At $28, their dinner menu fell within the lowest of three price tiers offered through Winterlicious. I had previously visited Pukka with a friend and enjoyed my experience, but had not had a chance to sample any of their entrees.

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To start, I had the Pukka Chaat, a vegetarian dish I would say is similar to a salad, comprised of vegetable strings, rice crisps, pomegranate, green apples, mango, chutneys and yogurt. This was such a bright, fresh and delicious dish – the perfect start to a meal. According to Google, “Chaat” is a term used to describe savoury snacks served at food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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For my main, I had the Lamb Shank Xacuti, with coconut, red chili and fennel seeds. The dish came with basmati rice, but I also ordered some naan on the side. The lamb itself was extremely tender and fell off the bone, and the sauce that accompanied provided wonderful flavour with just the right amount of heat and a hint of ginger. This was an extremely large portion for the price point.

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I chose the Mango Mousse to end the meal, which was velvety, rich and full of sweet mango flavour. By this time I was absolutely stuffed, but could not stop spooning up mouthfuls of this dessert!

The atmosphere at Pukka is intimate, with candles and dim lighting throughout. Our server was super friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. If you’re thinking of trying it out, I’d recommend the restaurant for date night or visiting with a group of friends, as many of the dishes are great for sharing. What I loved most about the food at this place were the bold flavours – every bite was interesting and had me going back for more. I had an awesome Winterlicious experience at Pukka and will definitely return!

 

3 Easy & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

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One of my favourite things to do on the weekend is to spend some time in the morning trying out healthy breakfast recipes. It’s easy to gravitate towards unhealthy choices for breakfast, but there are so many easy, healthier options out there that are as delicious as they are good for you.

Here are three easy ideas I love that are easy to make and will give you energy to take on your day:

Smoothie Bowl

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • Toppings of choice

Smoothie bowls are great if you’re someone who craves something sweet in the morning. You can often make them by throwing together whatever you have on hand!

To make the version above, simply blend the mixed berries, banana, almond milk, strawberries, and chia seeds together until smooth. You can top your smoothie bowl with whatever you like – I added chopped pistachios, whole chia seeds, strawberry slices, sunflower seeds and oats to mine. Fresh fruit is also an amazing addition!

Banana Oat Pancakes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Maple syrup & powdered sugar to serve (optional)

These banana oat pancakes are seriously yummy and a healthier take on the classic pancake. I halved this recipe by Simply Delicious, which made enough for a filling breakfast for one.

To make the pancakes, blend the banana, eggs, oats, baking powder and salt until smooth. Let the batter stand for 10-20 mins to thicken, and then fry in a non-stick pan over medium heat until golden brown. I used a 1/4 cup measure to spoon out the perfect amount of batter for each pancake.

Serve your pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup, powdered sugar or fresh fruit!

(Not so Boring) Toast

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Toast is a breakfast staple, and there are so many more ways to have it than just the classic butter or jam. My favourite variations are avocado toast (recipe below) for a savoury option, and almond butter (or peanut butter) and banana slices for something more sweet. Whole wheat and whole grain bread are a healthy choice and also provide great texture.

Ingredients for avocado spread:

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Splash of hot sauce
  • Chili flakes to serve (optional)

Remove the skin and pit from the avocado and mash with a fork until smooth. Add lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and hot sauce and combine. Serve over toast and sprinkle with chili flakes!

What are some of your favourite healthy breakfast options? Leave a comment below!