There are some people I’m always happy to see: my kiddos at the end of a long day, my hubby not long after I’ve seen my kiddos at the end of of a long day (ha!), and the mail man with a delivery, preferably in a large box (hold the bills). Because when the mail man arrives with a package, it’s almost always a good thing. Except maybe when it’s an enormous flower arrangement and a fruit bouquet you’re meant to hold for your neighbour. Then it’s just sad. Well happy for your neighbour, but sad for you. (And by “you” I mean “me”, since I’ve babysat more bouquets than I care to remember.) But happy days are here again! Last week my girlfriend Renee sent me the most thoughtful box of goodies for my birthday, and the week before that Canada Post delivered a “Tasting Box” of treats made in small batches in kitchens across Canada. It’s one of 50 such boxes curated monthly by FoodiePages, a kind of online farmer’s market based in Toronto. I’m going to be reviewing some of their products over the next couple of months (tough gig, I know), so let’s get started!
What do we have in the Tasting Box? Well, typically it’s a mix of 5 to 7 products (some full-sized, some sample-sized) for $14.95 plus shipping. Think spreads, condiments, jams, honeys, syrups, cooking sauces, oils, vinegars, salts, spices, seasonings, baking ingredients and/or snacks. All of the products are free from artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, sweeteners and other questionable ingredients (i.e. MSG). Each box comes with a succinct tasting guide (a card that lists the origin of each products and some suggested ways to enjoy it). FoodiePages posts the contents of the Tasting Box at the beginning of each month on its Web site and the boxes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Usually I stay clear of granola because it has like a zillion calories in a child-sized portion, but the Cinnaberry Granola above from Toronto’s Clean Eats is well worth the splurge. The 50-gram single serving is nutty, fruity and filling, with 4 grams of fibre, 7 grams of protein and a reasonable (at least for granola) 10 grams of sugar. From the tasting guide: Clean Eats offers a range of delicious handmade clean eating snacks. All products are also paleo, vegan, gluten free, and free of refined sugars! Great for breakfast with a splash of almond milk or a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh berries. My favourite product in the box!
Next, the Tandoori BBQ Rub from Edmonton’s Mini Kitchen: A quintessential North Indian spice blend. Mix with lime juice and marinate poulty, fish or shrimp. A fantastic spice for butter chicken, butter paneer, tikka masala and other curries. Low in sodium, so taste before marinating. I mixed two tablespoons with a container of tzatziki I had in the fridge and it made a fantastic marinade for chicken drumsticks. They were juicy, fragrant and perfectly spiced for my taste.
Wild Blueberry Maple Pepper Jelly from PepperHead in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia: Enjoy on a gourmet burger with bacon and blue cheese, pair with a baked brie or old fashioned crackers and cheese, add to vinaigrette, mix in tart shells with goat cheese and prosciutto, or use as a condiment with hearty grain salads! I’m not a fan of hot peppers and spicy food in general, so I asked my hubby to review it. He said the jelly had a good consistency, a nice kick and might be interesting to try on ice cream. A winner!
Chocolate Goji Berry Bar from Inner-J (Toronto): This naturally made raw protein bar is suited for a quick, nutritionally balanced bite on the go — a healthy snack between meals, for breakfast, pre/post workout, or whenever you feel hungry. I have to say, it wasn’t love at first bite. I tried half on one occasion and the other half yesterday and found it much better on second tasting. I like the prune base, the 13 grams of protein (no need to worry about the sugar highs and lows you get with some similar bars) and the pea (rather than soy) protein. It’s not my favourite protein bar, but I’d try it again. Maybe another flavour.
And finally for this box, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Ottawa’s own Ilias and Sons. The Giannakos Family has been producing Greek olive oils for over five generations, and now calls both Canada and Greece their home. A unique blend of Athinolia and Koroneiki olives Handpicked. Early Harvest. Cold Pressed. Unrefined. Low Acidity. A mild, light olive oil. We swirled our Swiss Chalet dinner rolls in it tonight and thought it would be also delicious in a Greek salad or drizzled on a bocconcini salad.
Overall, I enjoyed my introduction to FoodiePages’ products and particularly appreciated the tasting guide’s serving suggestions. I can’t wait for my next delivery!
FoodiePages sent me the Tasting Box in exchange for a review.