I try to support local food as much as I can with an emphasis on "as much I can." No one is perfect. I go to the farmer's market sometimes, check where produce is from at the grocery store and read labels. Then there are times when my husband is working nights and I want to eat chicken fingers and watch episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Little did I know that I could somehow do both things. I received some coupons to try some free products by Life Choices Natural Foods and Rolling Meadow Dairy products. The coupons took me all the way to Whole Foods where I observed the hyperlocal trend at its most extreme. To be honest, convenience meat products are something I would not normally buy. I can definitely see the appeal if you have kids and want to whip up a quick dinner they will like. At least I knew with the Life Choices products that I could feel good that the meat was from pasture raised animals.
I picked up a bag of the Life Choices breaded fish fillets made with a sprouted grain coating and whole fish fillets. I served it with "Mexican cauliflower rice" and some Rolling Meadows dairy 2% plain yoghurt. The dairy products are made from grass fed, pasture raised cows. According to Rolling Meadow Dairy, grass fed products have a better taste because grass fed cow's milk has more than a 300 per cent improvement in the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids versus conventional milk. Plain yoghurt is definitely something I use all the time, so I was glad to try a different kind. In terms of the taste, the yoghurt had a little bit of a creamier, less tangy taste than other plain yoghurts I have had. Although the fish sticks were convenient to make, the grain coating made them taste a bit too dry for my liking.
I much preferred the Life Choices multigrain breaded chicken strips to the fish fillets. The next night, I had them with some broccoli, pita and tzatziki sauce made with the even richer Rolling Meadow Dairy 3.25% plain yoghurt. I actually really liked the chicken strips. They also had the multigrain coating that seemed to taste better with chicken than fish. It seems kind of weird when stepping out of my food comfort zone involves eating chicken fingers and fish sticks. If you want to eat them or need to eat them out of convenience or on the go, then eating grass fed is probably a good way to go.
Speaking of on the go, you know those vacations that aren't quite vacations? Like the week or two you take off to get things done, go on a staycation or visit family? I had one of those a few weeks ago. Since I live in Ottawa now, my husband and I try to go back to the Southwestern Ontario region a few times a year where we used to live to visit family and friends; it's like a reunion of sorts. That also means taking time off to travel to see people, and not necessarily things, which is good sometimes. Google+ actually put together a neat "collection" of the photos from my phone from that week, which you can see here.
The first leg of the journey was from Ottawa to Guelph on the Saturday. We arrived just in time for a private block party on the street where my husband's parents live. The court gets together each year for a street party and decided this year to hire a "pizza food truck." Those Pizza Guys in Guelph are a new business starting out that drives around with a wood fire oven for private events. The dough is made from scratch and rolled out at the venue, and then cooked in the wood oven with the toppings.
Everyone paid a set amount to get all the pizza you could eat from four different flavours, like "Green, no eggs, no ham" (mozzarella, shallots, roasted tomatoes and pesto) and "The Queen" (Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil). I ate way too much pizza and sat out in the sun way too long and it was so worth it. It reminded me of the street parties we used to have on my street growing up.
On Monday, we headed down to London, Ontario for a few hours to visit some friends. We moved from London to Ottawa, so we wanted to go back to visit after not having gone back there since we moved last year. It is always so hard when you're only there for a few hours to see everyone you want to see and do everything you want to do.
We had dinner out and then hung out at The Cardboard Cafe, which is a new board game cafe in town. I can't resist a board game cafe (seriously, I love those places) and it was a great way to catch up with friends. If you're looking for a fun game, somewhat easy going game, for a lot of people, then try Camel Up (pictured below).
Near the end of the week, we headed to Toronto for the day to meet up with my parents and my Uncle and cousin. My relatives fly from England to Toronto for the weekend to see the final Rush concert. They are die-hard Rush fans, and to come all the way from England to see the band play is dedication right there. We met everyone for lunch downtown and then afterwards went to Ripley's Aquarium.
I know it is a complete tourist trap and somewhat overpriced. I have to admit, it was pretty cool though. We were there for about 3 hours looking at all of the different galleries, exhibits, fishes and sharks. There is one point of the aquarium where the glass is a 360 degree view of the fish and they all swim over your head. I had a good time even though it seems primarily geared towards children. The efforts they put in to conserve the fish and their habitats is neat to see. Plus, you can take all sorts of "selfies" with the fish.
After a week of traveling--and not quite a week of relaxation--it was back to Ottawa. It still had some of the features of a regular vacation, such as food. Food is always the focus of any vacation. A change of scenery is always nice for a little while to get yourself out of a busy cycle of life. Sometimes, it's nice to take a road trip and see old and new things, as well as familiar people.
Disclosure: I received free product coupons for review purposes. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my own experience.