Get Great Toronto Chocolates this Valentines Day.

By Emma Stirling

Happy Valentines Day! Chocolate has long been considered a food of desire and people around the world love it. It is the perfect treat for Valentines, no matter who you are shopping for. Toronto has excellent options when it comes to chocolate, and they are available all around the city. Here are the top picks for Toronto’s chocolate this Valentine’s day. 



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Soma Chocolate


Soma is well known throughout the city, especially for their hot chocolate during the Winter. However, there is much more to find at Soma than hot drinks. They have chocolates just for Valentines, with affordable options like the Raspberry Bar for $7.50.



Locations: 443 King St W, Toronto, 32 Tank House Lane


Online: https://www.somachocolate.com

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Stubbe Chocolates & Pastry


Stubbe Chocolates & Pastry follows the German style of chocolate making, with owner Chef Daniel Stubbe being a 6th-generation konditor from Meppen, Germany. This Valentines, you can buy a Painted Heart for $14.75, or Stubbe Valentine Bonon

Selection for $10.00. 



Location: 653 Dupont St, Toronto


Online:http://www.stubbechocolates.com



Avoca Chocolates

Along with their ice cream and gelato, Avoca Chocolates is known for great chocolate. Their diverse arr options come with your choice of dark or milk chocolate. You can try a Chocolate Orange Peel for $4.50, or Chocolate Marshmallows for $3.25.



Locations: 176 Hampton Avenue, and 850 Millwood Road.


Online:https://www.avocachocolates.com

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Godiva Chocolatier

Godiva Chocolatier specializes in Belgian style chocolate, and with some great treats for Valentine. While a bit pricier than the other listed options, you can get the high-quality Cupcake Inspired Chocolate Gift for $29.95. When buying your chocolate, you can personalize many of the options for the person you love.


Locations: Yorkdale Shopping Centre, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, 200 Bay St, Toronto, 300 Borough Dr.

Scarborough in Indigo, and CF Fairview Mall.


Online: https://www.godiva.com



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CXBO Chocolates

In the hip Kensington Market, you will find the equally cool CXBO. Dedicated to all kinds of chocolate, you can find many different bars for $9, such as The Kensington Bar with Apricot, Choli and Coffee. If you want to buy a Valentine’s Day special, try The Glowing Hearts Collection Limited Edition for $22.50. 



Location: 193 Baldwin St, Toronto


Online: https://www.cxbo.ca



No matter who you are buying for, we hope that you find some great chocolate this Valentine’s day. Enjoy!!

Where To Dine Warm, Healthy Food In Toronto's Winter?

By: Sanjeev

Old Man Winter has arrived and you’re asking yourself where to dine to stay warm in the winter while eating healthy. There’s a lot of options to try something different for your culinary taste buds. This list will help you combat the cold, try new foods (if that was your New Years resolution), and to eat healthy.   

Images courtesy of Unsplash.com

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Sanjeev

Sanjeev Wignarajah is a Toronto-based photographer who specializes in street and portrait photography. Sanjeev graduated in the journalism program at Centennial College in 2017. While studying journalism, he was passionate about photography and it changed his life. He started collaborating with his friends on film sets and co-created a magazine on Toronto’s photography scene with his classmates.

Sanjeev has shot for Centennial College for a few events and the 2017 Taste of The Danforth. He even took over CBC Radio’s Metro Morning’s Instagram account in 2016. He has made a lot of connections in the Toronto Instagram photography community. His inspiration for photography comes from watching movies on how the director and cinematographer

Sanjeev dreams of travelling like Anthony Bourdain and to write for Exclaim!, CBC Music and CBC Arts, and to freelance with Roads & Kingdoms.

You can find Sanjeev’s photography work on Instagram @sanjay28w.

Warm Up Your Winter With Quick & Classic Minestrone Soup!

Melissa Perdigão

As the wintery weather arrives we tend to skip the cold salads in favor for something piping hot and ultra-filling! This minestrone soup is super easy to make and will satisfy that winter comfort food craving! The best part is you can sub out any veggies and herbs you might be missing in favor of what’s hanging out in your pantry. Minestrone is all about packing in hearty ingredients that will meld together and create a flavor-packed broth!

INGREDIENTS:

Photo: Melissa Perdigão

Photo: Melissa Perdigão

  • 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes

  • 2 14-ounce cans of beans, rinsed (kidney, cannellini beans, chickpeas or even a mix all work great here)

  • 6 cups of homemade or store bought vegetable or chicken broth)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 medium carrot, diced

  • 3 celery stalks, diced

  • Half a sweet potato, diced finely

  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and parsley

  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs such as oregano and basil

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 cup small dried pasta (macaroni or orecchiette work great here)

  • 4 ounces of green beans, chopped

  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped

  • Half a head of black kale or swiss chard, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Set a large pot to medium-high heat and add olive oil. When the oil has warmed up, add onion and cook until translucent. Add carrots, sweet potato and celery (adding one at a time) and cook on medium heat until slightly softened, about five minutes.

2. Add dried herbs and garlic, and continue to cook until fragrant. If the ingredients seem to be sticking to the pan add a little bit of olive oil.

3. Add diced tomatoes, fresh herbs and broth, a pinch of salt and pepper (be careful of adding salt if you are not using low-sodium broth) and bring to a boil. Set the heat to low and simmer for 10-20 minutes (the longer you simmer the more flavorful your broth will be).

4. Add your dried pasta, beans, and remaining vegetables and simmer for ten minutes, until your pasta is al dente.

5. Serve with extra fresh herbs if desired, a drizzle of olive oil, a crack of black pepper and heaps of parmesan cheese. Enjoy your minestrone soup!

Photo: Taylor Kiser (@foodfaithfit)/Unsplash

Photo: Taylor Kiser (@foodfaithfit)/Unsplash

Are there any actual benefits to consuming Activated Charcoal?

By: Isabella Figliano            

Image courtesy of Unsplash.com

Image courtesy of Unsplash.com

Activated charcoal has become a new trend for many influencers and social media users.  Many people like the aesthetic of posting a photo of their “black” ice cream or lemonade.  In addition, activated charcoal supplements are also increasingly popular, but is there really any positive impact on our bodies?  Like any other food trend, there are various studies that try to convince society of the benefits or negatives of said trend. 

What is this trend?

So why is activated charcoal so popular amongst the social media generation?  "The charcoal came right after the unicorn rainbow trend and people were like, we're done with the whole rainbow thing. We want black," said Laura Athuil of Choux Bakery.  There are so many different types of “black” charcoal foods such as breads, burgers, ice creams, waffles, juices, and even teeth whitening solutions and supplements exist.  Bibi Chia, a dietitian at Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre states that "Apart from aesthetics, food manufacturers and cafes claim that it has some health benefits such as ‘detox’ effects.  These statements are not supported by research and very much likely to be a fad."

Are there any health benefits?

It has been claimed that activated charcoal helps to remove everyday toxins from our bodies (like alcohol), it should help to relieve someone from gas and bloating, improve heart health and has anti-aging properties.  However, contrary to popular belief, studies show that  activated charcoal actually provides none of those benefits.  In short, activated charcoal is a way for medical professionals to rid our bodies from toxins caused by a medication overdose, for example.  There is not enough concrete research that provides proof that activated charcoal provides any positive benefits to our bodies. 

Negative side effects?

Although you are not going to be eating activated charcoal treats on an everyday basis, it is recommended that you do not take it as a supplement either.  According to an article on Channel News Asia, activated charcoal can interfere with your body’s absorption of nutrients, “especially when you consume it together with food, or close to meal times. This also means that whatever Vitamin C you think you may be getting from the charcoal lemonade may not be absorbed by your body.”  Your body also may react negatively to the activated charcoal that can be found in these trendy foods, some side effects include vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain and bowel obstruction if not taken sparsely.

In short, activated charcoal is a fun way to enjoy foods, and sharing the experience of eating these unusual foods on social media is increasingly popular.  Although there are no true life-threatening symptoms to eating activated charcoal, too much of anything is bad for our bodies so try not to make eating these trendy foods an everyday habit.

Eating Bugs

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Eat Bugs – It’s the new super food. But, is it really?
Crickets?  
Meal worms? Why are we eating the creepy crawlies?

A quick Google search will reveal a few places where you can find bugs to eat. But, what you'll also find is a 2013 UN report Edible Insects: Food and Feed Security that states that eating bugs is a healthier bet than eating red meat. As per the report two billion people in the world already consume bugs and that there are about 1,900 species of edible insects.

Several communities in Mexico, China, Africa and India already consume bugs as they are part of the environment. “Some cultures consume insects because they have them in abundance. It’s like ‘eat whatever you can hunt’. I’m trying to get Westerners to eat bugs since the 80s and they are finally responding,” says David George Gordon, popularly known as The Bug Chef. Apart from this, farming is a Western concept. In several regions, it's difficult to farm either due to lack of resources or shortage of water. 

In Toronto, owner and chef Natalia of Colombian Street Food at Dundas West, fries Cricket Empanadas and packs up a Cricket Brittle. She says that crickets are rich in protein and simple to cook. Martinez began cooking with crickets when Future Food Salon, a group she is part of, began making people aware about the benefits of eating insects. Martinez whipped up a seven-course meal made with insects and served it to adventurous guests who were hungry not just for a good meal, but also seeked some knowledge on the affair of eating bugs. 

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The benefits of eating bugs though, are several. The UN report states that consuming insects helps save water. Cricket farmer Jarrod Goldin of Entomo Farms in Norwood, Ontario explains, "Crickets have a lot of protein and so does a steak. But, farming cattle is much harder.” It takes 22,000 litres of water and 10,000 grams of feed to rear cattle. Chicken requires 2,300 litres of water and 2,500 grams of feed to be reared. While in comparison, crickets use less than a litre of water and 1,700 grams of feed is sufficient for them. Goldin adds that if a family of four began consuming crickets once a week for a year, they would save the world 650,000 litres of water.

What's more?

Insects also feed on waste materials. Jakub Dzamba, who farms crickets in his basement-level garage, feeds chicken stock to his crickets. Dzamba who had previously built a counter-top reactor so that people could farm crickets on their kitchen counter-tops, has fed any kind of food waste generated from the kitchen. Insects can be consumed by humans for food and also by animals that humans raise for food. And, as insect farming is a type of farming that requires fewer resources and almost zero labour, it can be carried out as an alternative means of farming by women in the family.

The benefits of eating insects aren't simply limited to improving the environment. Several reports indicate that if rural communities are encouraged to eat insects more than they already consume, this could perhaps help solve food hunger.

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One such example was reported by BBC. In Burkina Faso in Africa, where the Shea Caterpillar is consumed for nutrition, as malnourishment and starvation is prevalent. Kahitouo Hien who lives in Ouagadougou is an agrochemist and an entrepreneur; and now is the CEO of Faso Pro. His company has organized people in rural areas to collect these caterpillars which are high in protein, vitamin and iron.  

Despite the benefits, Dzamba says, "once people can afford meats like chicken, fish or beef, they stop consuming bugs. It's been studied that this is because of status as consuming bugs is considered for the poor.” While Gordon is also of the same view, his cooking workshops have helped make 'eating bugs' trendy. Martinez too has read through several recipes by Gordon, who cooks with scorpions, beetles and whatnot, but she has limited herself to cooking with crickets, grasshoppers and meal worms. 

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As more people crave for the crawly superfoods, chefs are experimenting. You'll find cricket chips, cookies made with cricket flour, Bolognese sauce made with meal worms, hot dogs and tacos topped with crunchy crickets and fried grasshoppers as bar snacks. Gordon says that most of these generally taste nutty and it's hard not to get addicted to them. Western chefs are also coming up with foods that their clients can ease into like cricket granola bars, chocolate-dipped mealworms and more.