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

Feature: Zengarry Raw Vegan Nut Cheese

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http://www.zengarry.com/

My thoughts on Vegan Cheese:

How can it be cheese if it’s vegan? By definition cheese is a milk product… A lot of my friends (mostly non-vegans) have pointed out that although they enjoy vegan cheeses, they don’t like the fact that these products are “parading” as something they are not. I understand this sentiment, but I argue that we ultimately live in a “meat-centric” world and need to name food items after their animal based brother for people to really understand. For example soy milk is really a soy beverage but we understand it much better with the name milk. I just prefaced with this because vegan cheese is not real cheese and it really will never be. I’m not a strict vegan so I do eat cheese as well. This Zengarry vegan cheese is super delicious BUT if you are too hung up on wanting it to taste exactly like the REAL thing then you may be disappointed. Don’t get fixated on name, think of it more like a stand alone product – that’s my two cents on vegan cheese.

Zengarry Cheese:

First-off, I love these products. I went to the Montreal Vegan Festival back in September and went around sampling the various exhibitors. I stopped at Zengarry and was practically salivating over their vegan nut cheeses. I picked up a cumin gruyere and my roommate grabbed the sun-dried tomato. I just want to mention that my roommate is from France which may seem irrelevant but you know how the French love their cheese, right?  I’ll admit stereotyping is bad in most cases but my non-vegan French roomie buying the cheese was a auto seal of approval to me. It’s kind of like when you go to a Chinese restaurant and see Chinese people sitting inside, you know? You assume it’s good…no? C’mon everyone does that.

Anyways, the cheeses were about 8 – 10 $ each. It isn’t cheap but it’s hand made, organic and in most cases the main ingredient is cashews which are an expensive nut.

Coincidentally about  a week after the Vegan Festival, I was contacted by Zengarry to try some samples for MTL VEG. Obviously I was over the moon for these free goodies that I already love!

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They gave me three products and I had the fourth remaining from the festival. The products lasted for about 2 weeks and there were lots so I invited friends over to get their remarks, here is what I’ve concluded:

1 – Raw Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Cashew Cheese

This product is absolutely delicious and fairly addictive. Everyone loved this one and although I had tons of it from the week before, I did not get sick of it. Great with crackers, baguette, on a sandwich, added to a pasta dish and more. Yum, yum, yum!

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2 – Gruyere with Cumin Seed

This cheese was probably my second or third favourite but it was not as much of a crowd pleaser. Cumin is not everyone’s cup of tea and the coconut oil in the cheese did not go down so well with everyone. Coconut and cumin are both distinct flavours which were quite subtle in the cheese but not subtle enough for everyone. If you like cumin, you’ll love it. If not, maybe steer clear.

3 – Raw Garlic and Fine Herb Cashew Cheese

In terms of crowd pleasers, this one take second place. It is reminiscent of a boursin with the garlic and herb aromas. It is quite good when added to pasta for a creamy texture, in a wrap, salad dressing or spread over a baguette.

4- Holiday Brie

This lavish nut cheese with pistachios and cranberry is a good for gatherings. It makes a lot of sense to grab one of these for the holidays but it would a little less practical for adding to day to day dishes. I could see it added to a salad but other than that, I see this more as a stand alone product to enjoy with cracker or bread. I  enjoyed all the Zengarry cheeses but the brie was probably my least favourite over all.

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In conclusion, try these cheeses. They really are quite good, I promise. Start with the Sun Dried Tomato and Basil or Garlic and Fine Herb and take it from there. You can find them at a number of health food stores in Montreal including one of my go-to shops: Bio-Terre.

Here are the places that sell them: http://www.zengarry.com/find-us.html

Well that’s all for now, have a lovely weekly y’all!

Mel

Feature: Vegan Cuts Snack Box

What is the Vegan Cuts Snack Box?

Bear in mind, I’m not a big snacker so when Vegan Cuts offered to send me a box of snack foods, I was a bit skeptical. I  wondered if there would be treats that I’d truly enjoy but I was eager to get the goods.

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My Snack Box contents

Once I received the package, I unpacked it in excitement.

It contained the following:

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I’ve been munching on the goodies over the past couple weeks. Much to my surprise, I did enjoy almost all the products, some more than others.

My Favs:

The Ocho Candy – Seriously so delicious, I devoured it in one bite!

The Vigilant Eats oat based cereal – A little on the sweet side but a great breakfast fix for a busy day.

The Explore Asian noodle soup – A great quick lunch for those busy weeks.

The Earnest Eats granola bar – One of the tastiest granola bars I’ve had.

I’ll have to admit, even though I am not a snacker, it was nice to have quick and easy food in the house. I happened to receive the box during a very busy month and was thankful to have options to grab on my way out the door. Vegans don’t often have a lot of healthy “on the go” choices, so I was digging that aspect the most. I’m not a full fledged vegan but if I were, I would definitely look forward to some quick and easy solutions to lighten the burden of cooking.

I think for $20 a month, it’s a reasonable expense and totally worth trying. You’re paying way less than retail for any of those products, and you get to try different things. I do feel though, if you are a little picky about salty-sweet, you may not love all the items. For example, I didn’t touch the root beer, I just don’t have much of the sweet tooth for that stuff. If you are on the picky side, I would share the box with a friend, lover, roommate etc.

I should also mention that for Canadians, it is actually $28 a month with shipping. Why do we Canadians always have to pay more, eh? Never the less, still worth trying at least once.

More than anything, I think the Vegan Cuts snack box makes an EXCELLENT gift for a vegan friend. You can send it directly to them and it’s an awesome thoughtful alternative to the average flowers/candies type gifts. The neat part is that they can order the items individually afterwards, depending on what they liked.

Thanks again to Vegan Cuts for sending me the goodies! Next up, I’ll have to try the vegan beauty box.

To find out more about Vegan Cuts snack box, check it out here.

Got hemp? An ingredient feature.

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Every time I tell my friends that I’m drinking hemp, they make doobie smoking gestures and say something along the lines of, “Hemp? That’s groovy dude.”  As I’ve vocalized at many parties, “THC is not for me!”  The only buzz that I get from a hemp smoothie is the buzz of health and vitality. Yes, I’m fairly square, and proud of it! And no, eating hemp will not get you high.

I discovered hemp a few years ago when I was looking for a complete protein supplement. I’ve always disliked the taste of soy protein, and for a while it seemed like the only veg protein source out there. That’s why hemp was such an exciting discovery for me.  Hemp seeds are very high in protein and contain all nine of the essential amino acids —something uncommon in plant proteins, making it the perfect supplement for vegetarian or vegan diets. The omega fatty acids are also abundant in hemp seeds and they come in a balanced ratio. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, potassium, fibre and vitamins E, D, A. It has antioxidant qualities, it’s a cancer fighter, a brain builder and promotes good digestive health. It’s also good for your skin, hair, nails, and has been rumoured to treat skin ailments when applied topically (although I wouldn’t suggest this without further research).

It won’t make you bloat like some other protein supplements *cough* soy.  It also slows down digestion, which prevents spikes in blood sugar so your energy is sustained and your appetite is suppressed. I can actually vouch for this personally – I have an epic appetite and I was blown away when a hemp smoothie filled me up. That means it’s fantastic if you want to shed a few pounds too. Basically, it’s freaking awesome.

Hemp has been especially popularized in the last two years along with the other SUPER FOODS (chia, flax, quinoa). There are quite a few hemp products on the market now and tons of hemp supplements. I can’t really say that I’ve tried everything available but I can share with you the hemp products that I use regularly.

Shelled raw hemp

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These soft shelled organic hemp seeds may also be referred to as hemp hearts. They’ve essentially removed the outer shell of the seed to make it soft and easy to eat. This reduces the fibre content and changes the taste and texture completely. Hemp hearts are soft, fatty and subtle in flavour. It’s a live food so it’s mega healthy, especially if you eat it raw on a salad or in a smoothie. They are also excellent in a home made veggie paté, patties and burgers. Since they are raw seeds, they should be refrigerated- I store mine in a mason jar.

Hemp protein powder

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This is probably the hemp product that I use the most. I discovered Ruth’s brand after some extensive research online. I went a little wacko trying to find the BEST protein supplement out there. My research led me to this brand and I haven’t tried any others yet. You can order it on Amazon but I found mine for $19 at my all time favourite store – Branche D’olivier.  

I’ll be totally honest, this stuff is not delicious. I personally love the taste but I’ve always liked “earthy flavours.” It kind of tastes like dirt. If you aren’t into the taste, you’ll have to just add a touch to your smoothies. The good thing is that 1 tbsp has 7g of protein, so a little goes a long way. I sometimes add it  to a glass of water and drink it straight. Like I said, I love the taste but I’m not too sure others would.

Drinking my morning Kale-Mango-Hemp smoothie on the bus.

Please remember that I’m not a nutrition specialist but my advice with a supplement like this is to remember that just 1 tbsp has 60 calories. It’s pretty hearty stuff! My morning green hemp smoothie (500ml) is about 300 calories. You shouldn’t have a hemp smoothie on top of your regular meal portion because you’ll be doubling your calorie intake for the day. Rather, I like to have a hemp smoothie as a meal replacement or a mid-day snack before the gym. The great thing is that it really does fill you up. If you mix it with the right fruits and veggies, you’ve got a well balance meal.

Toasted hemp seeds

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Whole toasted hemp seeds are a fantastic snacking food. They’re really yummy especially when salted or flavoured.  They’ve got a nutty taste and crunchy texture. I have the Ecoideas brand at home but you can really try any brand of toasted seeds.  It’s not as healthy as the raw seeds or protein powder but a hell of a lot tastier. Eat them plain, as a snack, or toss some on a green salad. Yum!

You can find these at the health food store, or you can order them online. Oddly enough, I found mine at Winners. 

Hemp seed oil

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This cold pressed oil is not meant for cooking and it should be kept refrigerated in order to preserved the omega fatty acids. I use hemp oil where I would normally use oil olive – sauces, drizzles, salad dressings.  If you cook with it, you’ll loose the health benefits, which sort of defeats the purpose.

A lot of people take hemp oil as an omega 3, 6 supplement since it has the an ideal 3:1 balance ratio. The Manitoba Harvest brand seem to be the big guys in Canadian hemp products and they offer a hemp oil capsule. You can order it online, otherwise you’ll probably find it at your local health food store. I’ve never taken them personally but I think it’s definitely worth looking into as a humane alternative to fish oils.

The info provided for this post was based on a few years my personal research.  I would like to credit all my research sources but that would be impossible. Instead I’ll credit a few below, which you can consult for more information.

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/beverage1/a/what-are-hemp-seeds.htm

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-hemp-2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp