Carré Confiseries & Vegan Candies

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Jelly Bellies at Carre Confiseries

A little-known fact about me is that I am a candy expert. Weird, huh? The reason for my extensive candy knowledge is that I worked at a candy store all through my college years. I was known as a “candy girl” and I loved it. What I loved most about working in a candy shop is that everyone who walked in was happy as can be. Candy reminds you of childhood fun and that is really what it’s all about. Personally, even as a health oriented person, I believe that we all have to indulge from time to time.  That being said, there are a lot of ingredients in candy that are not so vegetarian friendly. I figured I would use my candy knowledge to demystify veg & vegan candies truths while highlighting my absolute favourite candy shop in Montreal: Carré Confiseries.

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Carre Confiseries store front.

Carré Confiseries is a delightful candy store located at on Bleury next to Place des Arts metro & Quartier des Spectacle. They specialize in everything candy related and chances are if you are looking for a treat that you used to eat at 5 years old, you’ll find it there. The staff is friendly, helpful and they really know candy. They can tell you if your candy is kosher, veg-friendly or peanut-free so it’s a great place to go for people who have special dietary needs. They even have sugar-free candies!

My favourite part about Carre Confiseriesis that it is owned by Melissa, a young entrepreneur who set up shop about two years ago. This is not a massive candy chain but a local business in the heart of Montreal. I interviewed Melissa about her store and this is what she had to say.

Tell me about Carre Confiseries, what is your mission?

“Carre Confiseries is a full service candy store which specializes bulk candy, imports and gifts as well as delivery.  Our mission is to give people a happy pause in their otherwise busy lives.”

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All the flavours of Jelly Bellies

What type of products do you carry?

“We have a large variety of bulk candy and chocolates, as well as childhood favourites and imports.”

What are you best sellers? 

“Bulk gummy candies are our best sellers.”

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Find specialty items like salt water taffy.

What is your favourite part of owning a candy shop?

“Getting to serve happy customers.  It’s all about sharing in a happy moment.”

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Candy bars and more!

Do you offer a lot of a vegetarian and vegan friendly products?

“Yes, we have many candies and chocolates that are vegetarian and vegan friendly and they are clearly marked in the store.”

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Helpful staff

What makes a candy vegan?

“A candy is vegan if it’s make without the use of any animal products or bi-products.”

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Buy a vintage jar and fill it with candy for a great gift.

Do you have a lot of people who ask for vegan candies?

“A fair amount, but more vegetarian than vegan.”

 Is it important to offer vegan alternatives? If so, why?

“Yes, I believe so.  Everyone should be able to come into a candy store and find their favourites, or make new favourites.”

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Cone bags make fun party favours for kids or adults.

If someone walks into your store tomorrow, what is the first thing they should do?

“Smile and get ready for a happy time!”

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Chocolate wall.

Non-Veg Candy Ingredients:

So what makes a candy not vegetarian?

Gelatin:

Wiki definition: Gelatin or gelatine is a translucent, colourless, brittle, flavourless foodstuff, derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products.

You’ll find gelatin in gummy candies, jello and even certain mousse cakes.

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Ideas for the candy bowl

Carmine:

Although very rarely found in North American candy brands, cochineal, carmine, or carminic acid is a red dye derived from crushed beetles. Red #40 dye on the other hand is totally vegan!

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My favourite candy idea is a vintage teacup filled with candy and wrapped in cellophane. A great gift! Eat the candy and then keep the cup.

Non-Vegan Candy Ingredients:

Dairy:

Dairy is a pretty straight forward ingredient that is found in most chocolates. Not a problem if you are a vegetarian but if you are on a strict vegan diet, you’ll likely want to stick to dark or specialty chocolates.

So that is about the gist of it, if you want to buy vegan candies for a vegan friend or simply prefer to eat treats with no animal by-products, check out Carre Confiseries. You can also check out the great list that Peta published on vegan candy selections. 

Finally, if you are looking for a great local treat that is veggie-friendly and delicious, go for maple candies! Another perk about Carre Confiseries is they carry a variety of maple candies and maple syrups. These make excellent gifts when you travel or when you are receiving visitors but around the world. Maple is our point of pride –  we do produce more of it in quebec than anywhere in the world.

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Maple lollies for your foreign friends.

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Maple sirop in a maple leaf jar.

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Check out the store, tell me what you think!

Happy candy shopping!

 Carre Confiseries

1502 Rue de Bleury, Montréal, QC H3A 2J2
(514) 507-7377

http://www.carreconfiseries.com

-M

RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE BALLS

vegan-chocolate-balls

 

I’m not really a big dessert lover but I do enjoy chocolate. In the famous words of Charles M. Schulz: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” For me, a rich  and chocolatey dessert like these chocolate balls is just perfect. It’s sweet but not too sweet and I especially love how very easy it is to prepare. Another part of being a non-dessert person means that I’m a terrible baker so raw desserts are just the way to go! Not only are raw dessert healthier, they don’t require any pastry baking skills. Yesss!

Video Recipe:

Learn how to make these balls with my short video recipe:

Natural Delight Medjool Dates

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If you follow health oriented food blogs, you may have noticed a dessert trend where dates are used instead of sugar. When I first heard about desserts made entirely from dates, I was skeptical. Boy oh boy was I ever wrong! Dates are a perfect sweetener because they are quite easily masked by many flavours, especially chocolate. They are high in vitamins, fibre and potassium. With fresh Medjool dates, a little goes a long way. Medjool dates are moist and chewy so they sweeten while binding ingredients. Natural Delight Medjool dates are a very popular brand available at most grocers. Natural Delights produces high quality dates that are perfect for these types of recipes. I highly recommend!

Some of the key advantages of this dessert:

  • Raw food, gives you more energy
  • No added sugar
  • Gluten-Free
  • Totally vegan
  • Very high in fibre
  • Easy to prepare
  • Gluten-Free

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates
  • 1.5 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup cacao
  • 5.5 oz or (one small can) of coconut milk
  • 4 dried figs
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon ( optional)

Note: As you probably know, quality ingredients  render quality results so try to use only fair trade high quality dates, cacao and coconut milk. One small can of coconut milk is pretty much the perfect amount for this recipe.

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 Directions:

  1. Add walnuts to food processor and chop them down to small pieces.
  2. Add dates and dried figs and pulse until ground.
  3. Once dates, figs and walnuts are ground, add cacao and pulse to mix it in.
  4. Finally add coconut milk, cinnamon and vanilla and process on the low setting.
    • Remove the cover and mix the ingredients with a spatula from time to time so that you do not over-stress your food processor.
  5. Once all ingredients and well ground and incorporated, spoon the mixture into a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes to harden.
  6. Remove mixture from the freezer, roll into balls (about .75″ in diameter.) then roll balls into shredded coconut.

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Serve them chilled.

Store in an air sealed container in the fridge or freezer. They will last up to two weeks.

Ps. Cats don’t really like dates so don’t worry about them eating them up but they may leave their hair behind so beware!

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So there you have it! Tell me what you think in the comments below. I’d be happy to have your feedback.

Bon appétit!

-M

 

Basil Marinara, my kitchen staple.

Basil Marinara MTL VEG

Not only is pasta my ultimate comfort food but making pasta sauce is a therapeutic ritual for me. Taking few hours to myself with a glass of red wine and the smell of olive oil and onions in the air is just heavenly. I remember making sauce with my dad as a little girl, we’d spend painstaking hours rolling out meatballs and crushing tomatoes with our bare hands. I don’t eat meatballs anymore but a really great marinara is a tomatoey bliss that doesn’t really require a lot of extras. My marinara recipe is great on it’s own with pasta or wild rice, on a pizza, on eggplant parmesan or incorporated into a cream based sauce. I make a vegan rose sauce with this tomato sauce and cashew cream which very yummy and soon to be up online.  However you use your marinara, it’s a delicious kitchen staple for just about anyone and everyone.

Basil Marinara MTLVEG Montreal Vegetarian

The recipe will make about 2.5 litres of sauce (2 large 36 oz and 1 small 16oz mason jars full).

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 – 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 5 cans of whole tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

*The quality of tomatoes will make a big difference. Buy tomatoes that are soaked in tomato juice rather than water. The cheaper brands are cheap for a reason and their tomatoes often taste watery and plain. I typically go for pastene tomatoes which can come out to about $3.00 per can – ouch! If you want to save money, buy half of the cheaper prices and half of the choice grade tomatoes. Just don’t cheap out too much or your sauce will suffer!

Directions:

  1. Pre-crush tomatoes in their juice one of two ways:
    • Pour 5 can tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with hands, keep juice from can.
    • Using a hand blender, blend each can of tomatoes (the lazy method or in my case the I have tendonitis in my hands so blender is my friend metion).
  2. Heat olive oil is a large pot over low-medium heat, add onion and cook until tender ( 5 – 10 mins).
  3. Once onions are tender, add garlic, dried basil, oregano and cook for 10 mins, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil, stir throughly and raise heat slightly.
  5. Allow sauce to come to a boil then lower heat quickly to avoid burning the bottom of yours sauce.
  6. Add salt & pepper to taste and simmer sauce on medium-low heat for about 1 – 2 hours, stir often. Sauce will slowly thickens.  *The time required to cook the sauce will depend on the type of tomatoes that you use. Lower grade tomatoes are more watery which means more time on the stove. Allowing sauce to cook for longer will give better results.
  7. Once sauce reaches a thick consistency and there is no more water floating to the top, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Mason jars are the best storage method. They will last a long time in the fridge, I usually keep mine for up to a month before I run out.

And that’s all! Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Enjoy!

-M

Costa Rica: a vegetarian paradise

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Returning home from Costa Rica is rough, especially when you factor in the ridiculously cold weather that hit Montreal this January.  Typically when I get home from vacay, I’ll comfort myself with the familiar and delicious vegetarian foods that I have been deprived of on my trip, but not this time. The food in CR was so good and so veg that I didn’t even have “favourite food withdrawal”.  Veggie fajitas, chia seed smoothies, breakfast burritos, fresh falafels among other amazing new discoveries were some of the dishes that I feasted on in CR. Best of all, vegetarian food was so accessible that I think I may have put on a few extra pounds despite all the excurisions and hikes. If you are a foodie with a taste for adventure (no pun intended), then I’d definitely recommend Costa Rica. I’ve included some food highlights below, take a look.

Santa Teresa Beach

Costa Rica is a touristy place. Very touristy. So try to go during low season to avoid the hoards of beach bums. That being said, I went during New Year’s Eve when all hostels were at complete capacity and I still had loads of fun.

NYE on Santa Teresa Beach

NYE on Santa Teresa Beach

Santa Teresa beach is a hippie-esque surfer spot with laid back drop dead gorgerous people who come from all around the world to surf, do yoga and mellow out. The main strip is lined with numerous cafes and eateries which are mostly owned by ex-pats, offering an array of vegan and vegetarian options. Some of my highlights were:

Yummy Smoothies at Ginger Cafe

Falafel burger and live music at Zulu

Coconut curry and chic nighttime ambience at Kantana 

Breakfast Burrito and funky art at Zwarts Cafe 

Enormous pizzas and delicious iced coffees from The Bakery

Zwart Cafe

Zwart Cafe

Best Breakfast Burrito at Zwart Cafe

Best Breakfast Burrito at Zwart Cafe

I also enjoyed an amazing meal in neighbouring beach town of Montezuma. Montezuma is a great place to visit with it’s popular waterfalls that offer a free thrill with steep hikes, big jumps and a tarzan swing over water. After we were done playing around in what is basically a natural water park, we went down to Cocolores restaurant to have dinner on the beach. This place has an amazing beer selection and fabulous veggie fajitas – I was in heaven!

Veggie Fajitas at Cocolores

Veggie Fajitas at Cocolores – Montezuma

Monteverde

Monteverde was a nice change of pace from the buzzing beach towns. It is a great place to explore a plethora of National Parks, zip line and get some wildlife photos. The town area is cute but I must warn you, the food ain’t cheap. We cooked more and ate out less but still discovered some yummy finds:

Giant pizza & funky ambience at Treehouse Cafe

Freaking Delicious Tacos & Burritos at Taco Taco

Best coffee in Costa Rica at Beso Espresso

Treehouse Cafe

Coffee at Treehouse Cafe

El Castillo – Essence Arenal

My last few days in Costa Rica were incredible partly because of my stay Essence Arenal. Fresh mouth air, great views, loads of wildlife and delicious vegetarian meals – just about everything that makes me happy inside.

The Views and Essence Arenal

The Views and Essence Arenal

Essence Arenal was located on an organic farm with loads of plants and trees to admire and taste which made the food to die for. The fun part is that they also invite you to help prepare the dinner meals which was somewhat educational and made for good vibes. The dinners are a little more pricy at about 15$ a pop but the breakfasts and lunches are a steal at only about $5! It’s also an excellent spot to explore the Arenal volcano and enjoy a dip in the hot springs!  I would definitely recommend it!

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Traditional Costa Rican Dinner night @ Essence Arenal

Making Fresh Tortillas at Essence Arenal

Making Fresh Tortillas at Essence Arenal

A Traditional Tico meal at Essence Arenal

A Traditional Tico meal at Essence Arenal

Making Fresh Tortillas at Essence Arenal

Making Fresh Tortillas at Essence Arenal

Homemade falafels at Essence Arenal

Homemade falafels at Essence Arenal

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Desayuno Tipico

Another highlight was the desayuno tipico which you can find everywhere. Totally veg-friendly, just ask if there is pork fat in the rice and beans (incase). This breakfast got me through many long days of hiking.

Desayuno Tipico

Desayuno Tipico, Pico de Gallo, cream, plantains, tortillas and eggs with fresh coffee. Available everywhere!

Despite the hoards of tourists, I still really enjoyed Costa Rica.  There are definitely ways to get off the beaten track a bit more which I would do next time. Two weeks did not feel like enough time. You could spend weeks there and only scratch the surface. Since we were there during the holidays, a real highlight for me was being able to interact with lots of Ticos who were staying in the same hostels.  Costa Rican people are very warm and welcoming, especially when they are vacationing. If you’ve ever been there then you’ve definitely heard the phrase: “Pura Vida,” meaning the pure life. They use it for everything from greetings to thank yous to farewells. At face value, I thought of pura vida meaning that you live pure: eat well, take care of your body and mind. After more time there, I came to think of it more in terms of karma, you live the pure life by passing pure and kind gestures forward. At least that is how I came to understand it from my interactions with the locals. Although the meaning to Costa Ricans may be more profound, I felt that the words really did encapsulate the experience for me: A vast and natural land where good-natured people were plentiful. Mind you, we often get inspired while traveling, in any case PURA VIDA!

Sucré Santé: Healthy Holiday Treats

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The holiday season is wonderful in many ways but incredibly bad for your waist line and your wallet. I don’t even like sweets all that much but if I had a dollar for every cookie, cake or candy that I’ve eaten this month, I’d probably have a hundred bucks. I’m not really into gift giving but I always loved the idea of preparing care packages for my loved ones. This year instead of baking the usual cookies, I’ve opted for a number of healthier options that will still entice the sweeties.

Sucré Santé: my list of healthy dessert recipes for the Holidays

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Natural Sweeteners and no sugar added (with exception of chocolate chips).

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Raw brownies, nutty granola bars and energy balls made with dates, nuts and seeds are just a few of the goodies that I’ve prepared for my sucre sante packages. As I mentioned, I am not a big “sweets” person so these recipes are not my own creations but rather a compilation recipes that are tried, tested and true. They are all from well established (mostly vegan) food blogs. The links to the recipes are included in the list below, ENJOY!

 

Raw Chocolate Brownies

Blog: Oh She Glows

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Raw Chocolate Chipotle Brownies

Blog: Rawmazing

For raw brownies with a spicy twist.

Easy 5 Ingredient Granola Bars

Blog: Minimalist Baker

Simple, filling and really really easy!

Chocolate Peanutbutter Energy Balls

Blog: Gimme Some Oven

Also incredibly easy and a little more on the sweet side.

Or try the Pistachio Cranberry balls for fruitier festive spin on things.

Chickpea blondies

Blog: Ambitious Kitchen

The only actual baked dessert, these blondies are delicious gooey goodness without the flour.

Happy Holidays Everybody!

-Melodie