Memories at “Abbi’s Payfair”

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Me and the boss, dad.

We all have a story of how we came to our career choices. For some of us our careers found us, while for others we work hard day-in and day-out to work in a chosen field. The passion for becoming a nutrition expert came quite naturally to me, and I found myself on the path towards the career.

I distinctly remember being a young teenager and watching a woman speak on the national news. She was so poised and eloquently spoke about the increasing rates of Type II Diabetes and obesity among our First Nations population in Canada. And voila, that was it. That was the moment that would prescribe how I focused my academic time for the next several years.

But, you may ask, why?

Because something clicked for me in hearing what she had to say.

You see, my parents have operated a family grocery store, Abbi’s Payfair, in the Point Douglas area since 1997. We primarily service the First Nations community and plates of other ethnic minorities. The grocery store is a humble one with three aisles, a quaint produce aisle, and a very popular meat counter. Growing up, I spent my summers and some odd weekends working for parents. It was in this setting I began to observe what my ‘friends,’ our customers, were purchasing. I made the link: the kinds of foods we purchase and the way we do (or don’t) prepare meals directly influences our health and the health of our families. An aha moment!

Nita Sharda

CnC_Aisle

Perhaps some of the most valuable life lessons I’ve learned came from experiences within those three aisles. My parents taught us about hard work, discipline, and about earning respect by giving respect (especially as a small independent grocer) via leading as examples. My dad, affectionately known in the community as “Abbi,” can be seen at the grocery store seven days a week. Yes, you read that right, seven days a week! (Getting this guy to take a day off is like pulling teeth!). I guess that’s the beauty of it – running Abbi’s Payfair isn’t just a job, it’s his passion, it’s his life. And somehow in some awesome way it’s also a part of my life and helps create my story.


CnC_DadMeatCounter Chicken_smiling CnC_Family Hugs CnC_DadMom

There you have it folks! If you’re ever in the Point Douglas area and pop into the store, say hi to my papa!

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

GNI Feature: Minted Cranberry & Pecan Quinoa salad!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Just a little sweet but mostly fresh!

While many of us in Winnipeg (and elsewhere) are preparing for the fall season, I’m still planing to savor every bit that is left of summer. Over the next week, I’m hoping to wrap up the “girls night in” feature by sharing just a few more recipes. This particular quinoa salad is extremely simple to make and can easily be prepared the night before, allowing the flavors to mingle and marinade the quinoa. If you are hoping to prep this in advance, I highly suggest adding the pecans just before serving time.

Similar to when I shared the Almond Crusted Salmon recipe, this dish also makes use of an amazing sauce produced by my friend Peter Fehr of Gourmet Inspirations. I specifically used the Strawberry Balsamic with Basil sauce for this recipe and it added an extra richness and flavor to the end result. I don’t often source convenience food items, but when hosting calls for multitasking I’m all for local handcrafted food items that make little use of preservatives and this sauce fits the bill!

Okay, okay, enter drum-roll. The recipe below – and, a huge *thank you* to my friend Peter for contributing to my fun #gni!

Minted Quinoa & Cranberry Pecan Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • Garnish: handful of mint, chopped
  • Dressing:
  • Juice from 1 whole lime
  • ⅓ cup Gourmet Inspirations "Strawberry Balsamic with Basil" sauce
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa as directed ensuring you've rinsed the quinoa beforehand (rinsing your quinoa is a must!) and allow it to cool.
  2. Mix in pecan halves, cranberries, raisins and mint. Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing: Juice lime and add strawberry sauce.
  4. Season with onion powder and black pepper.
  5. Add desired amount of dressing to salad. Dressing will keep in fridge for up to 1 month.

 Here’s a few more snippets of my “girls night in” — photos captured by the amazingly talented team at Samba Joy Photo & Art.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeCnC_Quinoa_Saucep.s. If you haven’t already checked it out, this is a short snippet of what my #gni looked like. Enjoy!

 

 

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Carrots and Cake Hosts: Girls-Night-In #gni

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Well, I’ll toast to that! #gni

Well hello there!

With summer in full swing, our days are longer and the warmth of the sun flirts with us into the evening hours. In previous posts I’ve mentioned that summer is hands-down-no-questions-asked my favorite season. In my life, summer represents a time that allows for many family BBQs, weddings, baby showers, and of course, those coveted girls-night-in (infamously known as GNI).

There are many things I can confidently and sincerely say I’m lousy at (examples: ironing, making roti, and singing), but there are some things that I’m pretty darn great at. C’mon, I’m a self-proclaimed “chef” and boast myself as being the hostess with the mostess (believing it is half the battle, right?). It’s taken me years to hone my entertaining skills and, though I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest ways to ensure my guests have a certifiable ball. It isn’t always easy being that hostess with the mostess (aka trying to juggle a million balls at once and making it look like it’s no sweat), and I’ve learned that it’s a skill that will, like a good wine, mature with time (oh, did you see what I did there? That rhymes!). The best part is that entertaining can be (very) messy, it can be fun, soothing (dare I say therapeutic at times), but most importantly it can be incredibly rewarding. When my guests leave with happy bellies, nourished bodies, and warm memories, it gives me this real sense of fulfillment. I think it’s another trait I inherited from my mother as she would prepare food for our family. I guess this is another example of how I am completely my mother’s daughter.

So, getting back to that GNI…

A while ago I invited a few of my girlfriends over for a fun GNI that was, of course, filled with the latest celebrity gossip and sharing upcoming summer plans, all accompanied by excessive helpings of giggles. I prepared a menu that I knew they would all enjoy, and even handcrafted a yummy cocktail, which used herbs from my very own garden. Don’t worry, I’ll share more about the specific menu items and recipes so keep an eye out for them! But for now, how about you drool over this insanely adorable video that my friends at Samba Joy created for me (shout out to Marcello and Madalena!).

I’ll fix your favorite dishes
Hopin’ this good food will fill ya
Stand in kitchen alone, work my fingers to the bone
You better eat if it kills ya
Cause everybody eats when they come to my house”

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Planning on hosting Girls Night In? Check out these links for suggestions and recipes:

Jalapeno Spiced Hummus

Very Berry Pavlova

Almond Crusted Salmon

Raspberry Mojito

Minted Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Salad

Grown UP Party Snack Ideas

               – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

 

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Sharing Stories: Summer, with Ice Cream

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Just when you thought it might not come, it did. Summer came to Winnipeg.

I rang in the start of my favorite season by driving to a local grocer, picking up a pale of ice cream, chopping a few juicy strawberries and enjoying a modest portion of Cornell Crème’s Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream.  Yes people, I, Nita Sharda, Registered Dietitian eat full fat ice cream #aintnoshame.  For me, eating ice cream or any “treat” is a proclamation of how content I am with my physical body, and I’d also like to think it reflects the control I have over my personal health and well being.

You may not spot me licking ice cream on a daily basis, but when the occasion calls for it, I’m all in. I’ve bid farewell to the days of feeling “guilty” after inhaling a high-sugar high-fat food item. Instead of being bogged down by treats, I allow them to elevate me and remind myself that yes, I am in control. Besides, life is short and fine-tuning that balance is something we all struggle with as we work through life.

Okay, okay, I’m done with my venting.

What I’m really excited to share is some briefing notes from a cyber chit-chat I had with Lisa Dyck, owner of Cornell Crème ice cream which is taking over Manitoba. Similar to when I shared my personal food philosophy, Lisa feels it’s important to know where her food comes from, to become well versed in reading nutrition labels and to understand ingredient lists. As an ice cream producer herself, she admits that life is about balance: “eat a balanced diet; treat yourself in moderation”.

Nita Sharda Carrots and Cake

Lisa Dyck, Cornell Creme

Cornell Crème is sold across Manitoba with several retailers’ right in Winnipeg. For more information on where you can make your purchase, click here. Also keep your eyes open for Dan, the ‘Cornell Creme Bike Man’. He can be spotted at local jams, festivals and hot spots in the city. I’ve spotted him myself around Osbourne Village offering up a mini serving of ice cream to local folks. Here’s more from Lisa:

How did the birth of Cornell Crème come to be?
Cornell Creme evolved over time; from making a natural, good tasting ice cream at home for my family to wanting to develop a real-deal product made from our milk.

We wanted to make the best tasting ice cream from our farm’s milk. We support ethical ideals such as sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, Fair Trade, Non-GMO and Kosher. Every ingredient we use is sourced with thought and effort. We want to make sure we feel good about the product we are making as well as contributing to an ethically sound environment.

Do you promote the use of preservatives in your ice cream?  
No. I try to let our ingredient list speak for itself. All natural with no preservatives. This means we only use cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks and extracts that are either organic or kosher certified.

How do you raise your cows?
To a dairy farmer the health of his or her cows is number one.  Farmers work very hard to make sure their cows are fed top quality feed and that they receive the best care. We are very serious about our cows and their care, health and happiness comes first on our farm. Our cows are in a free-stall/free-roaming barn. They have access to nutritious feed three times a day with liters upon liters of fresh water. If the cows are happy, then farmer is happy.

Let’s talk about the flavors. Malty Ale Pale—how the heck did you dream of this one?
*insert giggles* A friend of mine who happens to be a chef suggested the beer flavor. We went with it and never looked back.

Where do you find inspiration for your flavors? They certainly are unique, not to mention mouth-watering.
Most flavor inspirations are derived from what goes on in my brain. I try to base selections on what I like and what is popular with consumers. My family, friends and fellow tweeters also offer up suggestions. If it will fit our production method, we consider it.

How is Cornell Crème Ice Cream different from those that are mass produced?
We use fresh milk straight from our farm to plant. We stick to the five basic ingredients. Being a local producer, we try our best to source local ingredients within our networks. Our ice cream also has a very low overrun. Overrun means the amount of air that is pumped into ice cream. So, if the overrun is high (lighter ice cream) you will be paying for more air in the product. You do get what you pay for but we believe when comparing prices you may actually be getting a little more than you are paying for with our ice cream.

We also went with high butterfat content because taste is carried through fat as the medium in (many) foods. When your body/palate craves “fat”, you can actually eat very little of our ice cream and your brain will register it has had enough. With lower fat ice cream you may need to eat more of the product to feel the satisfaction. Ice cream is meant to be a decadent treat not a meal replacement.

A part of being an entrepreneur is preparing yourself for more and more growth. How do you plan to grow Cornell Crème? Would you consider selling across to other provinces?
We make the ice cream at a CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) approved facility. This ultimately means we can sell nationally across Canada. If we move from our current plant (our plan this year) we have the opportunity to upscale production.  If we get sales in other provinces, yes, we will consider it! We are trying to grow one step at a time ensuring we are making the right decision for our family and for Cornell Crème. We certainly do not want to grow too big, too fast.

And for the grand finale, last question (enter drum roll): What is your favorite flavor?
Hands down, without a doubt: Vanilla Bean!

Thank you again, Lisa, for spending some time with Carrots and Cake. I’m humbled to have met you and wish you and Cornell Crème nothing but the best!

If you want get to know Cornell Crème a bit more, follow their blog here. You can also follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Nita Sharda

Lisa’s favorite, Natural Vanilla Bean

The opinions contained within this blog post are solely my own (unless otherwise stated) and are intended purely for educational and sharing purposes. The purpose of the above post is not to display advertisement. Carrots and Cake did not and will not accept reimbursement for the above post.

                                – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

 

 

 

Love Local, Love Manitoba

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m a huge advocate for supporting local producers. This statement means that much more when you live in Manitoba; a part of Canada that faces extreme temperature changes and a very short growing season. But when has bad weather ever stopped Manitobans from doing anything?

This spring & summer, look forward to fresh local produce at Famers’ Markets across the city.  In fact, one of Manitoba’s largest Farmers’ Market has announced their opening on May 24th, 2014. Drum-roll please… it’s none other than the amazing Le Marche St. Norbert Farmers’ Market. When you get the chance to check it out, make sure you meet the many local producers and growers that are happy to serve this fine province.

At Le Marché St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, everything within sight will have been made right here in Manitoba – you can talk to the person who grew your dinner-table veggies, cared for the produce, and carefully construct drool-worthy pies.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local. And that’s kind of the same thing.”

I personally like to go to the market slightly hungry; it allows me to munch on some fresh Kettle Popcorn, sample cookies, or a stalk of crunchy celery as I shop around and enjoy music from live entertainers.

The “go local” food movement is far beyond any trend or a temporary fad. It’s here to stay, folks. People all over Manitoba (and Canada) are becoming more skeptical about where their food comes from, how it’s cared for, and – more over – consumers want to know who is producing the food that nourishes their family’s bodies. When you buy local food, you vote with your food dollar for family farms, thriving communities, and nourishing food.

 Over the next few months, make it a goal—go local.
 For more information on steps you can take to source local foods, visit Buy Manitoba. For more about Farmers’ Markets across Manitoba, visit the Manitoba Farmers’ Market Website.

     – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas

More than any other type of cuisine, I must admit I adore Mexican inspired dishes. Perhaps in a previous life I was a Latin woman or this may all be thanks to a dear friend of mine, who happens to be part Mexican. Either way, it’s a win win situation.

I first discovered this recipe in the coveted Dietitians of Canada Cook! cookbook. I love that it’s a meatless dish and nicely pairs black beans and cheese, without it being too heavy.
Give the recipe a try and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Espero que tengas un buen día.

Carrots and Cake Nita ShardaI paired this dish with a simple guacamole and a side of corn tortilla chips proudly made in Manitoba (courtesy of La Cocina Foods). When time permits, it’s also very nice with a fresh salsa and chopped cilantro.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 5 - 6
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups chopped red bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp freshly group black pepper
  • 8 8" whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute red peppers and onion for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, chili powder and pepper.
  2. Divide bean mixture evenly among tortillas. Roll up burrito-style and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and sauté for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in broth and bring to a boil, whisking the entire time until thick—about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Pour sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Just drizzle…

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Never, ever, ever forget about the guacamole.

 

       – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda