Author: Jacky


Finally able to put my Molecular Gastronomy set to use and channel my inner Michelin star chef. Going through my molecular recipe book, I noticed that there were a handful of gourmet ingredients that were needed. All of which I have never heard of before, let alone know to where to even buy them!

I was lucky enough to be introduced to Qualifirst, a gourmet and niche ingredient company based in Toronto with their mission to help Canadians find gourmet ingredients at affordable prices. Qualifirst has made finding the world’s best specialty foods its number 1 mission for more than 50 years. Their customers and clients are true foodies—people who share a passion for world-class ingredients, cutting-edge techniques, and exquisite presentation.

To help with my molecular gastronomy journey, I received 6 of their gourmet molecular ingredients which include Gum Agar, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Alginate, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Chloride, and Calcium Lactate Gluconate.

If there is a niche/gourmet ingredient you are looking for, more than likely Qualifirst will have it in their line of over 3000 products! Just visit their website to browse their catalog and place an order! It's as simple as that.

Lick Your Plate!

For home cooks of all skill levels, the Lick Your Plate cookbook is a must have for anyone looking to brush up on their culinary expertise and add some new delicious recipes to their arsenal. The fun loving authors of Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat are sisters and provide us with 160 easy to follow recipes from appetizers, to soups, fish, meats, brunch, desserts and so much more!

My favourite part of this cookbook is going through the pages upon pages of vibrant, colourful pictures of the food itself so you will know exactly what you will be cooking (and hopefully exactly what your finished dish should turn out to look like). If you're not going to take my word on this, Lick Your Plate has also been highly praised by celebrities within and outside of the food industry such as Jon Bon Jovi, Chris Hadfield, Gail Simmons, Jason Alexander, Chef Michael Smith, and Meghan Markle. This cookbook is a must have on everyone's bookshelf at home and as the title suggests, after you go through a few of their delectable recipes, you will no doubt find yourself licking your plate.

Village Juicery - Cold Pressed Juices Review

By now you may all have heard about this juicing trend that has really caught on with the masses, especially those who are health conscious and want to live a clean and healthy lifestyle. The concept of juicing has been around for ages so that is nothing new. If not yourself, you probably know a handful of people who owns their very own juicer at home; a fun do-it-yourself kitchen appliance where you throw in your fruits and vegetables into the machine and within minutes out comes a cup of freshly squeezed juice. 

Over the past few years, the concept of “cold pressed” juices has spread like wild fire. Traditionally, juices that are not considered cold pressed (basically the old school way of juicing) utilizes a fast spinning blade within the machine to separate the juice from flesh through what is called centrifugal force (a motion tending to move away from the centre). The problem with utilizing this fast spinning blade is as it spins, it generates heat. This heat destroys some of the enzymes in the fruits and vegetables you are juicing causing some of the nutrients to be destroyed as well. 

So what does “cold pressed” actually mean? Well as the name suggests, the juicing process does not generate any heat to maximize on all the nutrients it can extract from the fruits and vegetables. It extracts juice by using hydraulic pressure crushing, squeezing, and pressing the fruit and vegetables for the highest nutritional yield having very little exposure to oxygen. Since the fruits and vegetables are literally being crushed the living day lights out of them using sheer force, heat does not get generated and more of the fresh ingredient’s nutrients stay in tact. 

One of the companies in Toronto on the forefront of this cold pressed movement is Village Juicery who call their juicing community their “Villagers”. Village Juicery believes in increasing access to raw, plant-based nutrition and a focus on keeping everything local, from their produce suppliers, industry suppliers, and the charitable organizations they support. In fact, it is almost hard not to notice just how local their business is. On every one of their bottles, a sticker is firmly placed on its cap that says “Made in Toronto.” As a loyal admirer of my city I grew up in my entire life, I can truly appreciate how much love and devotion Village Juicery has on this great city. 

Now onto the good stuff, the actual juices! The Village Juicery delivered to my very own door step their line of 100% organic cold pressed juices. I received 7 of their cold pressed juices and 1 of their handmade nut milks in my package. Once you open the cardboard box, you will see that each glass bottle is neatly compartmentalized by dividers to ensure that the glass does not shatter as it gets delivered to your door. 


The one thing I love when I received all the juices is on each of its bottles, it prints out on the front all the ingredients so you know at a quick glance exactly what you will be consuming. On the back of each bottle also comes with a fun description of that specific cold pressed juice which gives you a better understanding of the different nutrients and benefits it has. At the very bottom on the back of the bottle also shares with you a breakdown of “What’s Inside” as each cold pressed juice has 3 types of ingredients, fruit, root, and green. The percentage by weight of each ingredient is shown so some of the cold pressed juices will be more fruit centric, where others will have a higher percentage of vegetables mixed in. 

Here is a breakdown of all the Cold Pressed Juices I tried.


Be Active

60% Fruit; 40% Root; 0% Leaf

Although there is a high concentration of juice in this one, I found this juice to be the toughest for me to drink. The taste of ginger is extremely strong and leaves a burning sensation in your mouth. I’m not a fan of ginger to begin with which makes Be Active my least favourite out of all the cold pressed juices I tried. I know ginger is supposed to be really healthy for you, but I think I’ll move on to the next one…

Be Radiant

20% Fruit; 80% Root; 0% Leaf

Although the ingredients in this one is 80% root, there is no ginger in this one which is fine by me. The vivid orange colour to this juice comes from the carrot and sweet potato. Carrot was the strongest flavour throughout with a settle hint of apple in it. I liked it but didn’t love it. 

Be Calm

20% Fruit; 0% Root; 80% Leaf

Being that I have rarely juiced before, especially with using vegetables, I was a little bit hesitant to try this just because I was afraid that with the majority of the drink being composed of leaf type ingredients it may be too overpowering to drink. I was completely wrong and it became one of my favourites. The pineapple counteracted the taste of just pure vegetables perfectly. The combination of pineapple, fennel, and mint really created a soothing effect within my body as I drank it. 

Be Nourished

50% Fruit; 0% Root; 50% Leaf

The perfect balance between fruits and vegetables giving you an even nourishment on both sides. This is a gentle introduction to anyone who is not a fan of green juices as the two types of apples prevalent in this juice gives it a sweet and fruity flavour, while you are still consuming equal amounts of vegetables with every sip. I would definitely recommend this one. 

Be Strong

30% Fruit; 10% Root; 60% Leaf

The most unique tasting juice of the bunch for me. The red cabbage is definitely the star of the show in this juice with its dominant flavour profile. You would think that the taste of cabbage may be unpleasant, but it wasn’t hard to drink at all. The familiarity of apple juice is present as well which makes this juice just as easy to stomach as the others. 

Be Clean

10% Fruit; 0% Root; 90% Leaf

My favourite cold pressed juice of them all which surprised me since the majority of the ingredients in this one is vegetables with very little fruit. The vegetables chosen in this juice is not overpowering as the likes of celery, kale, and lettuce all have a very subtle taste to begin with. The splash of apple mixed in made this juice very pleasant to drink and the fact that I enjoyed a juice dominated by vegetables makes this one a home run for me. 

Apple Cider

The classic apple juice, cold pressed edition. Nothing hard at all about drinking this one if you’re a fan of just good ole’ apple juice. With the apples being cold pressed, you get even more nutrients in this one, not to mention its also unfiltered with no added sugars. 

The Handmade Nut Milk which I treated it like a dessert. 

Be Happy

What a perfect name to this drink. It truly was a joy to drink because it tasted so damn good. It’s a sweet, creamy, decadent drink with the primary flavour of this being cashews and a hint of maple syrup. The only thing bad about this drink was that the bottle was so small! If I could drink this everyday for the rest of my life I totally would. 

Many other cold pressed juice companies use a technique called HPP (High Pressure Processing) which is a cold pasteurization technique where products are subjected to a high level of isostatic pressure. This pressure will extend the shelf life by 10 times, but in doing so killing bad and good bacteria along the way. As seen on every bottle, Village Juicery firmly believes this is not a viable solution for our well-being as bacteria plays a critical role in digestion and are needed to support proper nutrition. That is why they will never use HPP and their cold pressed juices are best consumed within 3 to 5 days of pressing to ensure maximum nutrition. 

Also keep in mind that if you keep the glass bottles after you finish the juice, you can return the rinsed bottle to a Village Juicery store for a discount at your next purchase! Myself, I’m keeping several of them at home for future use. My only qualm with it was that the fonts used on the bottles are all stickers so with a little water on it, sometimes the stickers would start to peel off leaving a slightly sticky residue on the bottle. 

All in all I’ve had a wonderful experience with the cold pressed juices from Village Juicery. As a food blogger, often times I am eating tons of fatty, greasy foods for the sake of a picture so being given the opportunity to cleanse my body and re-fuel it with organic, nutritious ingredients was certainly welcomed with open arms. 

If you think you are ready to go outside of your comfort zone and try some of these cold pressed juices, you can visit their flagship store in Toronto in the heart of Little Italy (540 College Street). Many other retailers across this city also carries their cold pressed juices which you can find their locations here. Thanks to Village Juicery I’m feeling rejuvenated, healthy, and ready to take on anything that comes my way. I am definitely proud to be considered now as one of their Villagers. 

Tea of the People - Organic Barrel Aged Tea

Ever since moving out on my own I have developed a strange addiction with teas, so at my house right now I probably have over $100 worth of different tea flavours from various companies. Even at work I have a large box of teas that I drink daily. The second I arrive at my desk I make sure that I have a hot cup of tea ready to carry me through the day. With all the tea that I consume, I thought I knew it all, but with thanks to Joshua Caplan, Founder & Chief Activist Officer of Tea of the People, he introduced me to his own tea company and its one of a kind organic barrel aged tea. 

Tea of the People is a Toronto-based loose-leaf tea company that is on a mission to drive the tea space in a healthier, more socially conscious direction. In a tea market where options are almost endless, there’s a unique opportunity to elevate both the quality and authenticity of tea. This is where Tea of the People come in as they have proudly developed Canada’s first barrel aged organic tea! 

The barrel aging process consists of hand-blending organic, single estate tea, fruits, herbs and spices together and placing the blend into charred white oak wood barrels to age in a wine cellar for 3-5 months. The result is a rich, complex tea with a hint of oak unlike any other. 

However, I think the most distinguishable part of Tea of the People from all the other tea companies out there is how they are trying to do some good in this world, to make a change and a difference in people’s lives. Tea of the People is about Joshua’s mission to demonstrate that business can be used as a tool for good. Each month Tea of the People donates 5% of its profits to a new entrepreneur or non-profit that is leveraging scalable technologies with regard to solving issues in poverty alleviation, education, public health and climate change. Notably, through Watsi, a healthcare crowd-funding platform, Tea of the People funded a 12 year-old girl’s ear surgery. Paid for with a portion of their profits, Chantha, a sweet heart of a kid from Cambodia, will keep her ability to hear. Now this is the kind of company I can get behind! 

Below are two of the teas I was very excited to try. They both have a very earthy taste to them thanks to its organic ingredients and its barrel aging process. The ingredients used are of the utmost quality resulting in a refined cup of tea every time you drink it. 

1) Organic Barrel Aged Madagascar Cocoa x Mint Rooibos

2) Organic Barrel Aged Silk Road Chai


Tea of the People has now been picked up by Loblaws at select Ontario locations (click here to find out which Loblaws location is closest to you). If you are not in Ontario or close to a Loblaws to pick these teas up, please visit their website to place your order as they currently have 8 different offerings right now for you to choose from. 

I would like to invite you all to come join this tea revolution where their innovative teas are always made with a higher purpose: to make the world a better place. When you drink Tea of the People - you empower the people! Get yours today! 



Calling all Toronto foodies! Do you like good food? How about good food while dining out at some of your favourite local restaurants? Or how about getting an incentive to try out new restaurants that you may not have heard or tasted before? Do you also like to save money? How about saving lots and lots of money, maybe somewhere in the region of $400? If you said yes to all or even some of that, this product the “Epicurious Toronto Dining Deck” is for you!

For only $20 you get access to save $400 spread over 40 restaurants across this great city! Some of these restaurants include city hot spots like Mildred’s Temple KitchenParts & LabourGeraldineEast Thirty-Six, and Cheesewerks, just to name a few. A full list of restaurants can be found here

How To Use:

1. Pick a card

2. Spend $25 or more (before tax and gratuities) at that restaurant

3. Receive $10 off your final bill

This deck literally pays for itself just after two uses. I can’t believe this product hasn’t blown up yet, but I’m sure it will very soon. If you are not a foodie yourself, this is a perfect gift to give to someone that is. Or better yet, give this as a gift to a person who you know will bring you out to dine at all of these restaurants. I got all your bases covered on this! 

Along with the 40 “coupons” you get in this $20 dining deck, you also receive 10 Food Tour Cards that give you a discount to various food tours organized by Culinary Adventure Co

Also conveniently enough, on each card has a description of the restaurant and its cuisine, their address, phone number, website, their social media accounts, and also if they serve lunch/brunch, dinner, or both. 

If $20 is out of your budget or if you think visiting 40 restaurants is too much, the $10 Mini Deck has also just been launched recently. For only $10, you will get 10 restaurant cards and one tour card all randomly selected from the standard deck. 

If you do not live in Toronto or frequent Toronto restaurants, these same great deals are coming to other cities across Ontario as well including Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Burlington, and Barrie. Visit here and enter your email address to subscribe for updates until it launches! 

Please note that these restaurant cards all expire at the end of the year so it is best to buy it as soon as possible to give yourself the most time to enjoy all the restaurant possibilities. 

Click here to place your order now for the Epicurious Toronto Standard $20 Dining Deck or the $10 Mini Deck!