My experience eating raw

If you’ve read my previous post on juicing, you know I’ve been dealing with some energy and digestive issues. As cooked carbs made me extra sleepy after eating them, I turned to raw foods to see if it would change anything. Well, it did!

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Now, let me tell you my backstory with raw foods. I have a friend who is completely hooked on raw foods. I mean, she does juice cleanses, grows her own sprouts and eats mainly raw all year round. She has been an inspiration, and I’ve learned a lot by talking and cooking with her. As much as I admire her, I always thought that her eating raw was a bit extreme, that it couldn’t be possible for her to get all the nutrients she needed, and that she would sooner or later hit a health problem because of it. I thought all of that despite the fact that I’ve known her for years, and that she is the banner girl of health. All that to say, I was a bit skeptic as to raw foods. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try as cooked vegan food seemed to have betrayed me.

I started by switching my morning oatmeal to green smoothies. I was so sad to say goodbye to my beloved oats, but I had to admit that only after a few days, my energy levels in the morning were great. No more morning naps! That was a huge improvement.

After this success, I went on a search for more raw recipes and stumbled upon Kate Fruit Flowers’ Freedom Foods ebook. I bought the ebook, and was glad to see that all her recipes were simple enough and didn’t require funky, impossible to find ingredients.

Now, if you are doubtful that raw foods can be good, you must try out some of her recipes! I’ve never had a cookbook where every recipe is delicious! I’m completely hooked!

Now, the recipes are delicious, but how does eating raw make me feel?

G-R-E-A-T!

My energy levels are consistently high throughout the day: no more naps! My digestion is easy: no more bloating! But, most of all, I don’t feel like I’m starving! With Kate’s ebook I’ve discovered great recipes that keep me full and energized enough to work, train and do everything else I have to do. Another great advantage of going raw is that I feel like everything I eat tastes better: I’m enjoying my fresh fruits and vegetables so much more.

I’m enjoying raw foods so much, especially now that it is summer. As everything is in season and delicious, it’s been fairly easy to find great produce for cheap. I’m looking for any tips you might have for eating raw in the winter, so don’t hesitate to comment below!

What I’ve been eating for the last 2 months!

When I work on my blog, I like to experiment with new recipes, try out new products, invent new ways to eat ordinary foods. This worked for me for the last year or so. However, about two months ago, I started craving the same dish. Over and over again. So much in fact, that it’s starting to be a running gag in our house. My boyfriend will come home from work and say things like: “Can’t wait for my quinoa-tofu-broccoli tonight!” Yeah. That’s what I have been craving every day for two months now. Not chocolate cake (although I’ve had my days), not fancy and exotic fruits, not my mom’s food. Nope. Just quinoa, tofu and some kind of grilled veggies (it’s not my fault broccoli is so cheap), or salad greens if I want something fresh.

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Now, here’s the issue. I have been feeling completely satisfied eating those quinoa bowls every day. There is something reassuring and structuring in preparing big batches of food and just having to plate your daily servings. No fuss, no rush. However, it’s difficult to blog about the exact same bowl you’ve been having. Now that the temperatures have been going up (finally), I’m hoping to crave something else and to hopefully have some variety back in my kitchen. I’m sure grilled broccoli, tofu and quinoa will stay in my heart for long though! Here’s a few tips if you are stuck in the same rut as me.

For your grilled veggies:

  1. I’ve been loving using infused olive oils to add an extra kick of flavour. Try lemon or rosemary infused oils for a fresh taste, or go for the classic chili oil. I usually rub about 1 tbs onto the vegetables before placing them in the oven. Yum!
  2. I’ve also like sprinkling some freshly ground pepper on the baked veggies. I know, it’s nothing groundbreaking (you see what I’ve done here, right?), but it’s a classic for a reason. Why not go crazy and try different types of peppers? I love white pepper for its spiciness, but pink pepper brings a whole different range of flavours. Experiment with kitchen staples!
  3. Add some lemon juice and lemon zest! Fresh lemon zest gives such a nice aroma to the most simple dishes. Plus, it makes me feel like a fancy chef when I zest lemons. You zest have to try it out!

For your tofu:

  1. Vary the type and bite size: I tend to go for extra firm tofu because I like how it crips up when you pan fry it. The smaller the pieces, the crispier they will be. If you feel like having some bacon, you can cut your tofu into small cubes and add a few drops of liquid smoke to your marinade or sauce. Soft tofu can also be a great option to mix things up a little. I love to gently cooking soft tofu in some soy sauce. Very simple, but so good.
  2. If you really don’t feel like cooking, you can simple cube your firm tofu and mix it with the vegetables. Put everything in the oven, and that’s it! Bing, bang, boom.
  3. If you really, really don’t feel like cooking, you can also substitute the tofu for canned beans. Rinse them well, and they are ready to go, but you can also cook them in some tomato sauce or curry spices for something a bit more elaborate.

For your quinoa:

  1. Make sure that you cook it in enough water. I usually use 4.5 cups of water for 2 cups of quinoa. I place everything in a pot on high heat. I then reduce the heat to medium once it starts boiling. I put a lid on the pot and let everything simmer for 15 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and let it sit until you are ready to eat. The result: light and fluffy quinoa! Yum.
  2. Add some stuff: I like adding some corn, chopped carrots or peas to the quinoa as it is cooking. It adds some bite to it and makes it extra yummy. Plus it adds a touch of colour to the mix.
  3. Make sure that you don’t add salt to the cooking water as it will harden the quinoa.

That’s it! This is perfect for meal prepping because you can prepare big quantities of everything and save your food in the fridge. It’s so quick to plate up and makes for great lunches to bring at work. Plus, you can add fresh veggies or sauces according to your daily cravings. So, yeah, that’s what has been going on in my kitchen lately. And guess what? I’m now heating up some quinoa, broccoli and tofu for lunch. Cannot wait!

2016/2017 Tag!

I few weeks ago, I was tagged by Jen from the blog GypsyBus28 to do the 2016-2017 tag. How fun! Go check out her blog for beautiful recipes and fun reviews. I have to say this tag asks really hard questions, but I guess that makes it a useful reflection tool.

The tag was created by David from The Guy Who Said Always No.

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Questions:

1. DESCRIBE YOUR 2016 IN 3 WORDS.

Busy, change, priorities

2. WRITE THE NAME OF 2 PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHARACTERIZED YOUR 2016.

Well, I can’t pinpoint two people, but I can pinpoint two categories of people. I think that’s okay! I really relied on these people for moral support and also inspiration and courage. As 2016 was a real transition year, I really needed that!

My support system: my boyfriend and my parents

My inspiration: Anna,  from The Anna Edit as my favourite blogger/youtuber and Angelia Trinidad, founder of The Passion Planner.

3. WRITE ABOUT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE YOU’VE VISITED IN 2016 AND WHY YOU LIKED IT SO MUCH.

Last February, my boyfriend treated us to a week-end in Sutton, Québec. We got to stay in a pod in the middle of the trees. The setting was magical.

4. WRITE THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD YOU’VE TASTED IN 2016.

Hum, that’s a really hard question! I think I’ll have to go with a new food discovery that I did last summer at the market with iceplant.

5. WRITE THE EVENT WHICH HAS MARKED YOU MORE OF THIS IN 2016 (EVEN GLOBAL EVENT).

Deciding to take a break from teaching was definitively the most important event of my year. I’m still dealing with this. I’m still not sure where I’m headed, but I think it was a good decision.

6. WRITE THE FINEST PURCHASE YOU’VE MADE IN THIS 2016, AND IF YOU WANT, LINK A PHOTO.

My essential oil diffuser! I love this object so much because it enables me to change the atmosphere of any room instantly. It was really handy over the holidays to create a Christmasy feel, and I use it daily to freshen the air in my office. Completely in love with this!

7. WRITE 3 GOOD INTENTIONS FOR THIS 2017.

  1. Sleep more
  2. Create more
  3. Spend more time with my friends and family

8. WRITE 1 PLACE YOU WANT TO VISIT IN 2017.

I would love to go to Italy or Iceland.

9. WRITE 1 PLATE/FOOD YOU WANT TO EAT IN 2017. 

I don’t have anything specific, but I really hope to discover new variety of fruits and vegetables to try out this year.

The wonderful people I would like to tag are:

Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag: The Guy Who Said Always No.
  • Use the image that you find in this article
  • Mention the blogger who has chosen you: Jen, from GypsyBus28
  • Answer the questions
  • Mention 9 bloggers/friends and let them know through a comment on their blog.

Vegan Fest Montreal 2016 + blog announcement // Festival végane de Montréal et nouvel horaire de blog

(Version française plus bas!)

I’m super excited to let you know that Montreal’s vegan festival is coming back this week-end at the Marché Bonsecours in the Old Port. Last year I had a lot of fun perusing the different stands and came back home with quite a lot of spices and an excellent book. I wasn’t too happy about the long queue I had to endure to get in, but this year, they are extending the festival to two days instead of just one, so it should be much better. How exciting!

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This year’s schedule is quite extensive! At the festival, you can find all vegan foods from restaurants, farmers, and specialty products. There will also be quite a lot of very exciting guest speakers and food demos to learn new techniques! You will also be able to get in touch with animal protection associations and like-minded people. I really hope you’ll have a chance to go check this FREE festival out. See you there!

I also wanted to let you know about the blog’s new schedule. I really want to bring you with the best content possible, but it takes me a lot of time to come up with recipes, try them out, take pictures and write down the posts. As I also need to work, I’m changing the daily posting schedule to a Monday, Wednesday and Friday posting schedule. That way I’ll be able to bring you high quality content and still buy food… Cheers to that!


Je suis super excitée de vous annoncer que le Festival végane de Motréal débarque en ville cette fin de semaine au Marché Bonsecours du Vieux Port de Montréal! L’année dernière j’avais adoré me promener parmis les stands et j’étais repartie avec une tonne d’épices et un excellent livre. Je n’avais pas trop aimé la langue file que j’avais du faire pour rentrer, mais cette année le festival est étendu sur deux jours, ce qui devrait le rendre beaucoup plus agréable! C’est tellement chouette!

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L’horaire de cette année est encore bien chargé avec des stands de bouffe à visiter et pleins de conférences et de démos culinaires pour en apprendre toujours plus! Il sera également possible de rencontrer différentes organisation de protection des animaux. Bref, une belle fin de semaine en perspective! Surtout que le festival est GRATUIT! On se voit sur place!

J’en profites aussi pour vous annoncer que je change l’horaire de publication des billets pour le blog. Parce que je veux vous offrir un contenu de qualité, mais que ca prend pas mal de temps à produire, je vais maintenant publier des articles le lundi, le mercredi et le vendredi. En passant, je suis déjà dans le mood de Noel alors préparez-vous!

 

 

Food Prep: avoid waste, save time + money!

Sometimes I feel like I spend my entire days in the kitchen either preparing something for the blog or something for lunches or dinner. It can be annoying to realize how much time you have to spend daily in the kitchen! A simple trick that I love is to food prep on Sunday afternoons. It really helps with avoiding food waste, with the cooking of the week, and it reduces food waste: if everything is ready to be eaten, you’ll eat it up! At first, you’ll think that spending an entire afternoon in the kitchen is really long, but it’s actually much more efficient and when you realize that you can spend about 5 minutes in the kitchen on busy weeknights, you’ll be convinced! It’s also a gentle transition from the weekend into the week. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed if you know that there is food already ready in your fridge come Monday. Here is what I do on Sunday afternoons.

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  1. Prepare your vegetables: Cut, wash, cook!
    • I love grating carrots and beets in big batches that I keep in my fridge. I can then add some to salads, stir fries, fancy bowls or smoothies. It’s much more simple to have them ready to go in the fridge then having to grate one carrot at a time as I need it. I do the same with lettuce, kale and any other veggie that I want to keep on hand. This makes eating healthier so much easier!
    • I also cook vegetables ahead of time. Onions, broccoli, asparagus, zucchinis, and potatoes will go in the oven before they find a home in containers. It’s much more efficient to cut everything up and to place everything at once in the oven time and energy wise. You can also batch-boil vegetables reusing the same boiling water. It is super practical: toss your veggies with some rice and you practically have a complete meal ready any day of the week!
    • I usually wash any vegetables that I’ll eat raw during the week. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this. Just place them in an air-tight container with some paper towel at the bottom to absorb extra water and they’re ready to go!
  2. Get your proteins ready: Marinate, broil, cook!
    • I like to marinate tofu ahead of time as it really makes it so much tastier. I like to cut my tofu up and prepare a few marinades in containers. I toss the tofu in, stir it up, and forget about it in the fridge. This is perfect because it will be ready to go for stir-fries or anything else I might be needing it for during the week. I also like to throw some in the oven and roast it so that my proteins for the first few meals of the week are ready. You can do the same thing with canned legumes.
    • If you are using dried legumes and beans, this is the perfect time to cook them up! I usually like to let them soak in water from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, cook them up and then freeze them in individual portions. That way, it’s just like using canned beans!
  3. Take care of sauces: mix it up!
    • Sauces are an easy way to make simple vegetables more exciting or the key to creating fancy vegan bowls. It’s also really fun to have a few alternatives ready to make each meal different. In air tight container, I find that most sauces or salad dressing will keep longer than a week, so you’re safe to go!

I hope these tips help you out! I really like putting some Gilmore Girls on (am I the only one who is crazy excited about the upcoming season?) and prepping everything up. Let me know what you like to prepare weekly and how you organize your food in your home! Oh, and don’t forget to participate in my super giveaway!

 

 

Deliciously Colorful Root Salad

Beets! Beets! Beets! They are so beautiful, and they are just coming in season in Montreal. They are so wonderfully sweet and crunchy; they are the best addition to any salad! I love that I can find different colors to add some ‘wow’ to simple dishes. Beets are not only beautiful, they are also very nutritious and packed with vitamins and minerals to get you running around. I can’t get over how beautiful they are with their little bull’s eye pattern in the inside. So cute!

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This salad also features carrot ribbons. Now, if you don’t make out ribbons out of your carrots, you are missing out! I love preparing raw carrots this way because they are crunchy without being too hard, and they add an amazing splash of colour. They are also very quick to prepare, so why not?

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Here is what you need:

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbs pumpkin seed oil
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbs hemp seed hearts
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

For the salad:

  • 1/2 head chicory lettuce
  • 6 small beetroots of various colours
  • 6 carrots of various colours
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds

Here is what you do:

  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Using you potato peeler, peel the carrots (if you prefer) and continue peeling the entire root to make ribbons. Set aside.
  3. Peel the beetroots (if you like), and cut them into thin slices width-wise. You can use a mandolin or a knife for this. Set aside.
  4. Roughly cut your chicory and toss in a salad bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together until well covered in the dressing. Enjoy!

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I ate that salad with some remaining turmeric pancakes, and it was amazing! The perfect balance of sweet, savory and hot while being a feast for your eyes.

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It’s a breeze to prepare, but it’s so beautiful to look at and delicious to eat! It’s the perfect addition to your next picnic or BBQ! Let me know if you try it out!

Sprouts: a few tips

Sprouts are a great way to add flavour and texture to salads, soups, sandwiches and snacks. They are also a great source of nutrients and vitamins, so why not grow them yourself? Well, before you start, there are a few things you need to consider. I hope these tips are useful, and inspire you to start your own sprouts!

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From left to right: radish, buckwheat, alfalfa.

  1. Do you need fancy equipment?
    • No! I use glass jars that I close with cheesecloth. I find that jars are easy to use, simple to store and also cheap. You can always buy fancy, specialized multi-level “sprouters”, but really, a jar is all you need to get started.
  2. Will it take time?
    • Sprouts need attention: you will need to wash them twice a day while they are sprouting to avoid parasites or molds, but also to supply the seeds with their required moisture. Also, the sprouting time will depend on the seeds you are using, but generally speaking, sprouts take about a week to be done.
  3. What seeds can I use?
    • There is a great variety of sprouting seeds available in health food stores and online. I buy mine in a bulk store. I usually go for unmixed bags, but you can try out already made mixes of seeds to get you started and to give you an idea of what seeds you like best. My favourites are alfalfa, daikon, radish, watercress, chickpeas, lentils and fennel.
  4. Are all seeds the same when it comes to sprouting?
    • No! Each seed is different. First, the bigger  the seed, the longer it will take it to start sprouting. Also, some seeds are mucilaginous (like watercress, chia seeds, and flax seeds), so you’ll have to take some precautions while sprouting them. Finally, all sprouts have a different flavour and texture, so it is super fun to experiment and explore cooking with these new ingredients.
  5. How do I sprout seeds?
    • For non-mucilaginous seeds like daikon, chickpeas, lentils and fennel, place two tablespoons of seeds in a jar and let soak in water overnight. Rinse, drain and place in the jar that you keep in a tilted position. I usually use my plate dryer rack to keep my jars stay at an angle. This will help give more seeds access to air and light. Close the jar using a few layers of cheesecloth: the idea is to make sure that air passes, but not insects. Rinse and drain delicately twice a day for a week, or until the sprout is out. You can eat the sprouts when they are just out, or wait for the first leaves (cotyledon) to come out. You can also place your seeds in the sun for the last few days, and they will develop a little green.
    • For mucilaginous seeds like radish and watercress, place one tablespoon of seeds and one tablespoon of alfalfa seeds in the jar. I like using alfalfa seeds because they have a very mild flavour that lets the other seed’s flavour shine. Their role in this sprouting is to absorb the water that constitute the mucilage which will help the seed start sprouting. The rest of the process is the same as mentioned above.
  6. How do I keep these once they are sprouted?
    • I usually keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for about a week.
  7. Where can I use them in recipes?
    • EVERYWHERE!

I hope these tips are helpful and will encourage you to grow your own sprouts. They make for a really fun kitchen project with kids, and also add some life to your cooking. Let me know if you try it out, or what your favourite seeds are!

Summer is coming!

With the warm weather coming back, I have but one thing on my mind: TRAVEL! Every time I hop in the car or on the bus, I feel like shouting, “To infinity and beyond!”

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However, as we don’t have any trips planned for this summer, I’m starting to think that exploring our province would be a good alternative. To help me in my quest for the perfect outing, I have selected four books. I hope they might inspire you to check out your piece of map a little this summer too!

  1. Prenez le champ! by Julie Aubé: This is a new one coming out this week. I was so intrigued by this book that I decided to go check out the book release and bought it there on Monday night. I really didn’t feel too cool with my bright orange raincoat while everyone else was cruising along with drinks in their hands, but the book is amazing! It is filled with itineraries regrouping different farms and local producers. I’m really excited to go explore Québec’s countryside, coasting from food stop farm to farm. The book in itself is also really well made with hand-drawn maps, amazing pictures and descriptions that really make you want to leave right away to go taste Mr Poncelet’s asparagus or go wine tasting on Orleans Island.
  2. Le Montréal Gourmand de Philippe Mollé, Ulysse: Philippe Mollé used to have a cooking show that I would religiously watch with my mom. Our excitement when meeting him last winter at the Salon des Métiers d’Art, where he was selling a really nice maple syrup, was just ridiculous. He was charming, and so we bought maple syrup, and I took out this book again. Filled with restaurant and café recommendations all in Montreal, this is a great companion for those week-ends when you don’t feel like going out too far. Some suggestions are even vegan!
  3. Escapades au Québec, La Presse: This is a really beautiful book filled with amazing pictures of the nicest places to visit in the province. There’s something for everyone: lovers, kids, hermits (traveling separately), beach enthusiasts, foodies and more. I wish I had enough time to visit each one of these wonderful spots!
  4. Randonnée pédestre au Québec, Ulysse: Because I will probably double in size this summer (I blame the incredible food all the other books are promoting), I want to select some hikes too. Québec has a great variety of landscapes ranging from fields to beaches, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of the great outdoors during the summer! This book is really well put together with tips, maps and difficulty levels for each hike.

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I feel like it will be impossible to choose from the amazing selection these books bring forward! I’m really excited to skim through them and to discover new favourites. Let me know if you have any recommendations, or if you have fun travel plans for the summer!

Sweet Potato Nori Roll

I love purple sweet potatoes! I also really like nori sheets, so why not combine the two? Add a few little things, and BAM! You have a nice, filling, fresh, and colourful meal that you can customize to your liking (or to your fridge’s content)!

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Here is what you need for each roll:

  • 1 Nori sheet (I get my Nori sheets here because it is a lot less expensive than what I find locally)
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (I used purple, but you can go with orange if you like)
  • 1/4 avocado in strips or mashed
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1/3 cup flat parsley leaves
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds

Here is what you do:

  1. With your fingers or a wet spoon, spread the mashed potato on the nori sheet.
  2. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds
  3. Add the avocado, carrots, parsley and sprouts.
  4. Using your fingers, lift one side of the nori sheet while holding the fillings in and roll it up! You can use a little bit of water to glue the end of the paper. Press gently on the roll to help it stay in place (sushi roll style).
  5. Cut in half to serve.

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Since these rolls are pretty big and the mash I used was cold, I didn’t feel the need to use a rolling mat. The rolls were easy to make and so delicious! They are also very quick if you prepare the ingredients ahead of time. We ate this with some tamari sauce mixed with a little sriracha sauce, and it was amazingly good! I think tomato slices, cilantro, cucumber and kale could also make a great roll!

Let me know if you try it out and how you like it!

 

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Blanc de Gris, or how to have a mushroom farm in the city

Last summer I had the chance to visit the urban farm Blanc de Gris which specializes in growing mushrooms. After being a little bit confused by the very urban setting (the farm is in fact situated in an old warehouse), Dominique, one of the co-founder took us around a tour of the “farm”. One word: wow! I was really impressed by the installations, the ingenuity of their project (they up-cycle coffee grinds and beer grains) , their technique, and their fresh enthusiasm for a really original and awesome project.

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Lysiane, the other co-founder in one of their growing chambers. Look at those mushrooms!

Today however, I was even more excited because their farm was open to the public (hey, that’s me!) since their oyster mushroom production just exploded! We got to buy some fresh mushrooms. Will you just look at them? They are so perfect!

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We were really happy to meet with Lysiane, who is the other co-founder of Blanc de Gris. She was very friendly and gave us amazing mushrooms to bring back home. Her passion for her job was palpable and so refreshing. She told us that they were really happy with their production and that things were really starting to grow. While they are still working with high-end restaurants of the city, they are now looking into creating their own line of transformed mushrooms products.

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This is a really fun new venture for this young farm as it would make their production shine outside of its current clientele, while also making the entire production of mushrooms valuable. I am very curious to see what products they will be working on, but I’m quite sure that it will be done with the same care, integrity and excellence that you can witness when visiting Blanc de Gris. Their business is truly an asset for the city of Montreal, as well as for the foodies and urban farmers alike.

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I really can’t wait to cook these amazing mushrooms; there’s also a little bit of pressure on my shoulders! I really encourage you to like their Facebook page as they announce when they organize flash sales or visits. You wouldn’t want to miss that, right? Also stay tuned for a mushroom-filled recipe!