Revive Organics: The Ultimate Smoothie Subscription

Do you ever feel like you should start getting more nutrients in your diet but you don’t have the time or the desire to shop for fruits and veggies you probably won’t end up finishing? It seems wasteful to buy a whole pineapple and papaya, a bunch of kale, a bag of nuts and seeds and a jar of ground turmeric to make a smoothie you found online you’re not even sure you’ll enjoy. Or how about the weeks where you simply don’t have the time to meal prep and need something healthy on-the-go? For you smoothie lovers out there, this one is especially for you. (Keep reading for a special discount code!)

It’s become known that fresh isn’t actually best, and that when whole, organic foods are frozen shortly after being harvested, they retain the most of their nutrient content and antioxidants. The fruits and vegetables we buy at the market aren’t all organically grown, but they’ve also been sitting out for days, gradually losing their nutritional value.

Revive Organics is Canada’s very own subscription-based organic ready-to-blend superfood smoothies service that balances the taste-to-nutrition ratio perfectly and delivers the goods right to your door. They ensure that each ingredient is “flash frozen” within a mere few hours of being plucked, guaranteeing that they’re rich in nutrients and remain that way until they reach your freezer.

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So how does a smoothie subscription work?When you set up your account with Revive Organics, you make a few selections that fit your needs. First, you choose your box size and how often you want it delivered:

  1. Frequency: You choose whether you want weekly or monthly deliveries.
  2. Quantity: You choose how many smoothie cups you want for each delivery.

Once you’ve chosen your box, you can customize it by choosing your smoothie flavours. Currently, Revive Organics has ten flavours available, eight of which are vegan! (The other two contain collagen). All of them are unique and exotic, and I bet there’s at least one you’ve never ever tasted before.

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Lastly, you select your delivery date. Your box can be delivered either on Tuesday’s or Friday’s, but don’t worry. You don’t need to be there when they arrive. They’ll remain frozen in their dry ice package before you arrive home. But remember to store them in your freezer as soon as you do!

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When you’re ready for your nutritional snack, grab your high-speed blender and either your favourite plant-based milk, juice or water – but trust me when I say you can never go wrong with soy, almond or cashew mylk. Combine your preferred liquid with your Revive Organics ingredients and #justblend! Pour it all back into your cup and enjoy with your customized R|O reusable metal straw!

If you’re wanting to give these ultimate smoothie packs a try, use my code LAUREN50 for 50% your first order!

A Week at Vidanta Riviera Maya

Nothing beats a luxurious stay in a tropical destination at virtually no cost, and this September I got to book a week in a 3200 sqft 3-bedroom spa suite at one of the most luxurious and grandest resorts in Mexico with eight of my friends for an affordable rate.

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Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya is one of five resorts residing in the Vidanta resort property near Playa del Carmen. The other four are The Bliss, the Grand Bliss, the Grand Mayan and the Mayan Palace. Each one of these resorts is different from the other and has certain exclusivities but they all have communal areas, pools and restaurants. The Grand Luxxe was especially higher end with its four spa towers consisting of abundantly spacial multiple-bedroom suites, along with other perks! Okay, so you’re probably wondering how we managed to stay at such a resort. Here’s how…

The ‘How’

My mom’s timeshare/property ownership with the Wilderness Club allows access to the Registry Collection, a collection of hotels and resorts around the world that owners can book by exchanging points that they receive when they book a week at their own timeshare/property. In this case, my mom had a bunch of points that were expiring at the end of 2018 with no one else using them, so I jumped on them and grabbed whatever I could with those points! There are fees tied to the booking of any trip, including an exchange fee as well as a guest certificate since we traveled without the owner (i.e. Mom), but that divided by 9 people was a steal! All other trip expenses, including food, flights and excursions we paid in full.

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The Suite

The suite was definitely big enough for the nine of us. It has a kitchen, dining room/living room, two master rooms each with a king-size bed, a connected master bathroom (walk-in shower, jetted bathtub, two sinks, closet and all that jazz) and wall-to-ceiling sliding doors that open to the balcony; the third bedroom is larger with two queens and its own full bathroom (just no jetted tub). The main master room is connected to a massage room built for private massages and the balcony doors open straight to the plunge pool. Yes, there is a plunge pool on the balcony!

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The Amenities

I usually get turned off by hotels/resorts that don’t provide free high-speed wifi, although most high-end accommodations charge extra for it. So I was particularly excited that my free wifi needs were met at Vidanta! I can often tell how bougee a place is by the fact that the room is made twice daily, and yes, the lovely housekeepers made our rooms and cleaned our communal areas twice every day!

Grand Luxxe has access to three different pools. It has its own exclusive pool as well as a fantastic beach view burger restaurant right by the pool. All the resorts have access to the massive Mayan Palace pool, open 24 hours, and its two pool bars. This one has tons of seating and cabanas all around. The last and nicest pool is The Beach Club for guests and residents at the Grand Bliss and Grand Luxxe. When you arrive at the pool, there’s a beautiful granite reception area where they reserve seating/a cabana for you and your group, which can be curtained off for some privacy. The Beach Club is showcased in the pool photos above and the one below!

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As you might assume, all guests have access to the fitness centre, spa, beach, massive golf course and almost all the restaurants, lounges and bars. At the property’s main lobby, there is a massive parking lot as well as a car rental place (yes, you can rent a car from within the resort property!)

Vidanta’s Riviera Maya location is well known for its permanent Cirque du Soleil show, Joyà, and its iconic flower-like theatre building. Just another great reason to stay at the resort!

The Restaurants

Since we had a kitchen, we didn’t eat out at the resort as much as other guests might have. We were able to be privately driven to and from the Wal-mart in Playa del Carmen for groceries and have our groceries be delivered to our suite, and the resort’s boutique has a food item aisle to buy a few cooking essentials as well so it was extremely easy to make our own food. But the times we dined out on the property were amazing. There are 27 restaurants and bars so more than you could choose from! Each place has different price points, food styles, opening hours and needs for reservation. The breakfast buffet at the Restaurante del Lago as well as the Custom Made burger restaurant for Grand Luxxe guests are ones that I highly recommend trying!

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The Overlookable Downsides

Unfortunately, we don’t get full access to everything on the resort, for example the swimming pools. Some fantastic pools including the Mayan Sanctuary pool (see photo below) and the Grand Mayan Infinity pool are only accessible to guests of those resorts. Some of the restaurants are exclusive as well. However, this is also an advantage for guests who enjoy more privacy, vacancy and exclusivity.

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Although the Internet is high-speed and free for all devices in the suite, only three devices have wifi access everywhere on the resort property outside of the room at one time. So unless you’re comfortable booting your suite-mates off the server and they’re okay with it, you’re likely going to want to switch your data on if you have a severe attachment to your phone and social media life.

Walking around the resort can be nice and peaceful on the walkways, but the property can start to become overwhelmingly massive. Most spots on the property are better to get to by buggy but the buggies don’t always run on time. Sometimes you’ll find yourself making a run for it, but often you’ll be waiting for it. So be prepared and give yourself tons of time to get to your destinations! Especially to the central lobby if you’re on your way out of the resort and have a tour bus to catch.

The Final Rating

I can’t stress on this more but Vidanta met my expectations and then some. It was the most luxurious stay I’ve had without my family and I can’t wait to go back or to visit their Nuevo Vallarta location. The group and I had the time of our lives and I see us booking another trip with Vidanta very soon!

If you’d like to book with Vidanta Group, I suggest checking out some vacation home rental websites such as HomeAway and Airbnb and bringing as many people along for the ride. The Grand Luxxe even has 4-bedroom suites, villas and lofts at their Nuevo Vallarta location, which can fit a sizable party. You could be looking at your next affordable luxury vacay in no time!

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Disclosure: This post is in no way sponsored by any of the mentioned brands and it is strictly a review of my experience. All photos, with exception to the last, are owned by Grupo Vidanta with all rights reserved.

Coconut Cashew Honey Energy Bites

Energy bites are one of the easiest to throw together with remaining ingredients you have in your kitchen. All you need is a nut or seed butter of some kind, or a paste (such as from dates), a sweetener, and toppings like more seeds and nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit, etc.

Leftover homemade cashew butter was the reason for creating this simple recipe. Almost all the other ingredients were ones I wanted to finish using as well.

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I love starting with a nut butter base along with either oats or milled flaxseed for some extra fiber. Seeds and nuts are then put in for some healthy fats but mostly for the added crunch factor.

Flavouring often depends on what combinations you’re going for but my go-to’s are generally, cinnamon powder, cacao powder, shredded coconut, matcha powder and espresso powder – a pinch of salt may be needed as well in your recipe. The espresso and matcha powders are your best friends if you’re aiming to give your bites more caffeine. Flavour is also greatly dependent on the sweetener you use. This recipe is one of many where I use Drizzle Honey, a local raw honey company with an amazing collection of Superfood infused honey and a classic collection that tastes true and natural. If you don’t have raw honey lying around or want to use a vegan option, maple syrup, coconut nectar or a date paste are your best bet.

Lastly, you can also add in your favourite adaptogens to the mix. You want to make sure that you aren’t consuming more than what your body needs, or that the adaptogens you use are actually something you need at all. Pay close attention to how your body reacts to different types of adaptogens that you are taking to make sure that they are a right fit for you. If you haven’t already tried any but are looking to add some to your diet, two great starters are maca powder and ashwagandha powder. Collagen is also a great protein to add some health to your bites.

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Total time: 15-30 minutes
Makes 16-20 bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashew butter
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup milled flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp maca powder
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until even.
  2. Roll bit-size amounts (about 1.5 tablespoons) into balls.
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour and serve immediately, or store in refrigerator up to two weeks.

Note: If the mixture appears dry and does not stick together, add 1 tablespoon of water or 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add more as needed.

 

My Top Picks For Hikes Near YYC

In an effort to share with all of you my favourite hikes near the Calgary area, I split them up by level of difficulty. This was mostly to break some close ties but also to ensure that I was indeed comparing apples to apples. I’ve attempted to describe the trails as accurately as I can, but please note that all of these hikes are favourable in the summer, some are only open during certain times of the year, and your experiences on these hikes might differ (tremendously) from mine.

If you’ve been on any of these, please comment down below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

TOP 3 EASY HIKES

#3 Johnston Canyon

Elevation Gain: 335 m + 115 m elevation loss
Total Distance: 11.8 km
Location: Banff National Park near Castle Junction

Johnston Canyon is a fairly stroller- and dog-friendly trail that is well paved and provides barriers/handrails as the path is situated at the edge of the canyon. Towards the lower falls, the path is met with a short stretch of stairs and you’ll want to take some time to enter the cave and see the falls close up. But the trail doesn’t end here! You can continue to the upper falls viewpoint and keep going up (and down) to the Inkpots which are seven pools of blue-green water in the meadow above Johnston Creek. You’ll find yourself in the midst of other beautiful mountains.

 

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#2 Rawson Lake

Elevation Gain: 305 m
Total Distance: 7.8 km
Location: Kananaskis

The Rawson Lake trail starts at Upper Kananaskis Lake and ends at Rawson Lake which sits within the base of Mount Sarrail. The path is wide and flat most of the way and is in a forested area with sightings of the Sarrail Falls. This hike has a continuation once you reach the trailhead call the Sarrail Ridge which is listed below. The lake is definitely the highlight of this trek but the trek itself is far from boring.

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#1 Grassi Lakes

Elevation Gain: 175 m
Total Distance: 3.2 km
Location: Canmore

Grassi Lakes is my go-to peaceful trek in the fall/winter (closes in November) and in the spring/summer (opens in May) because the views in all four seasons are spectacular. The emerald-like pools of water are the main attraction of this trail as well as the high viewpoint of Canmore. If you’re an avid outdoor rock climber, I’m betting you’ll very much enjoy this spot because of the high mountainous wall by the lakes. Grassi Lakes has two trails: one easy, perfect for families with young ones and older folks, and one more difficult. The trail works in a loop form but I have yet to take the hard way up or down. If you’ve tried it out, let me know what you’ve seen and how much you enjoyed it!

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TOP 3 MODERATE HIKES

#3 Sulphur Mountain

Elevation Gain: 745 m
Total Distance: 10.1 km
Location: Banff

Sulphur Mountain is probably the most iconic mountain in Banff as the ridge allows you to see miles and miles of the Rockies. The mountain’s gondola receives such heavy traffic notably in the summer, and the ridge has an entire station, restaurant and shop(s) constructed for all the tourists. The hike itself does not have tremendous feats with its alpine switchback pathway, but the view is incredibly worth the somewhat boring hike. The first time we hiked, the top of the gondola was under construction; but now that it’s all complete with an entire walkway that extends along the ridge, I would highly recommend hiking up the mountain and taking the gondola down – it’s a $30 fee but free in the winter months after 7 pm!

 

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#2 Barrier Lake Lookout/Prairie View

Elevation Gain: 625 m
Total Distance: 15 km (full loop) or 10.8 km (out & back)
Location:

As one of my favourite hikes of all time, the Barrier Lake lookout features a beautiful, fluorescent lake at the base and a breathtaking view of it at the trailhead. The hike starts off with a wide pathway with little shade (it can get really hot in the dead of summer) and ends with some steep climbing over rocks as you reach the top. It’s a short distance up the trail so those of us with low endurance can actually enjoy it. What I love about the top of the hike is how open it is and the ability to have a lunch without falling off the mountain or freezing your hands off (unlike high peaks and narrow ridges that experience strong winds). The top also has rocky ledges you can sit or stand on to get a better view if you so dare. Once you’re ready to climb back down, you can either double back and head the same way you came from or walk down the longer path through the forested and streamy area which leads to an open meadow and back to the gravel path around the lake. I’d say take the time to walk the long way, it’s well worth it in my opinion.

 

 

#1 Bear’s Hump

Elevation Gain: 240 m
Total Distance: 2.8 km
Location: Waterton

Anyone else love short but strenuous hikes with rewarding views? I do! This one is my top pick for this category because even though you might have to climb hard for 30 minutes, it’s well worth it once you reach the top. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves on this one as the hike is so short you’ll forget all about it when you get to the trailhead. The drive to Waterton from Calgary is amazing as well (or from Waterton back north it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful if you catch the sunset). Just watch out for those little prairie dogs! They like to stand in the middle of the road.

 

TOP 4 DIFFICULT HIKES

#4 Mount Yamnuska/ John Laurie

Elevation Gain: 900 m
Total Distance: 11 km
Location: Canmore in Bow Valley Provincial Park

Mount Yamnuska is hands down the most challenging I’ve ever done and I hope to change that by achieving much more difficult climbs, but in the meantime it holds the record for most difficult. The hike up wasn’t so bad. It was quite tiring but there were many spots to stop and have a lookout as the forested area of the hike does not full cover your view out to the other mountains. Once you reach the rocky area and leave the stable dirt ground after an hour of hiking, careful footwork is necessary (you would need gloves to protect your hands from scrambling through the boulders). There are three challenging phases of this trail: the chimney (which I just briefly described), the chain and the scree. The chimney was a little freaky and I had to make sure I didn’t look back or my irrational fear of falling would get the best of me. The chain, surprisingly, was easy physically and mentally. The chain is bolted into the rock face to help you walk on a narrow ledge about 30 m high from hard ground. So long as you’re not foolishly hanging from the chain, you’ll be fine. After completion of the second challenge, there’s another 300 m before you reach the rocky and windy summit of Mount Yamnuska which has a beautiful view of the mountains around it. And lastly the scree… Once you walk down the ridge and around to the other side of the mountain, you’ll find that the face of the mountain consists of long and steep screes back down to the forested region. It’s hard to spot the scree that you’ll need to run down so an experienced hiker might be best to have tag along. Now this was beyond the worst section for me. The stretch of scree is tremendous and again quick footwork is needed to make it down. I found myself caught in the boulders and tumbling down and every time I’d try to get back on my feet, the momentum would bring me back down and I’d be rolling. Not fun, to say the least. You can seriously injure yourself so know your limits! I should stress this for every hike you go on but this one requires more attention. All in all, a challenging experience I’ll never forget and I hope to soon defeat that scree.

 

#3 Ha Ling Peak/ Mount Lawrence Grassi

Elevation Gain: 740 m
Total Distance: 6 km
Location: Canmore in Bow Valley Provincial Park

Ha Ling Peak was my very first strenuous hike and I have to say that the cardio exercise you get on this one is pretty hard to get on another. The majority of the trail is forested with little to no breeze on a hot summer’s day, and the top part consists of scree and the rocky peak. The peak is extremely windy so be prepared to bring a sweater even if it’s hot. I highly recommend wearing pants or bringing a pair to wear once you reach the scree. The peak really is as sharp as they get and you can overlook the other side of the mountain when you sit at the top of the rock. It’s scary and exhilarating to be sitting on the edge of this mountain.

 

#2 Mount Sarrail

Elevation Gain: 625 m
Total Distance: 11.8 km (incl. trail to Rawson Lake)
Location: Kananaskis

The climb on Mount Sarrail begins at Rawson Lake and is incredibly steep and open to hot sun. I would recommend waiting until the summer months as patches of snow and ice are still found on the steep slopes of the trail, and using poles to help get you up the incline. The view on the ridge of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes and Rawson Lake on the other side are un-beat-a-ble. The frustrating trek up and down was WELL worth it.
Also, watch our for grizzlies as there are reported sightings of the bears and a bear den on this hike.

 

#1 Mount Lady McDonald Teahouse

Elevation Gain: 1010 m (1200 m to true summit)
Total Distance: 9.8 km
Location: Canmore

Mount Lady McDonald is the highest gain I have ever climbed. The large portion of the hike requires stamina but trail is well worn out and free of complications. The top is rocky and scrambling is needed to get through this section. There is an abandoned teahouse and helipad at the false summit of this mountain where most people (including myself) would stop in unfavourable conditions. The strong winds and often icy path to the narrow ridge and true summit might make you turn back at this point as the view from the helipad is well beyond gratifying. But if you are daring enough to conquer the summit and ridge, you are one heck of a hiker.

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Photo credits for the photos of me: Jason Meng Visuals and Esther Choi

Homemade Dark Chocolate

Here’s a simple and easy recipe to make your own vegan/organic chocolate at home, with little-to-no equipment!

My love for chocolate is probably first on my list of things to satisfy on a daily basis (terrible habit, I know). But I thought I’d nourish my cravings in a cheaper and healthier way by using ingredients straight out of my pantry (no extra costs) and by knowing that the ingredients going into the making of this chocolate are pure,  sugar-free and my cocoa essentials are even locally sourced from the Dominican Republic.

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I had no idea that chocolate could be made from simply mixing cocoa butter and cocoa powder. All it takes is to heat up the butter, whisk in the powder, and freeze it to achieve a solid consistency. Now, some recipes I read substitute the cocoa butter with coconut oil which is more affordable and easily found at any grocery store. But I chose to make my chocolate as chocolate-y as possible by jam packing everything cocoa I had. And doing half/half cocoa butter and coconut oil.

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The process took a little longer to evenly whisk the honey and the cocoa powder to ensure that the sweetness level was equal throughout and that the chocolate didn’t have a grainy texture. I would suggest using a sweetener in liquid form to facilitate the mixing process. Perhaps Drizzle Honey will be next on my list to use in my chocolate making?

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You’ll know that your chocolate mix is ready for pouring when it looks like this: not too liquid and not to viscous. Add more powder if it’s too runny or add more oil or sweetener if the mixture is too thick. Then give it a taste to see if it meets your expectations. The worst thing to have happen is to completely finish a batch of goodies and realize that it tastes awful . There’s no rush to pouring the chocolate so take your time and add whatever else you need to make it taste fantastic.

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Total time: 2-3 hours
Makes 20-25 small chocolates

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup honey (can use any sweetener of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil over low heat.
  2. Once the oils are fully melted, add the honey and vanilla extract and start whisking.
  3. Slowly add the cocoa powder (two tablespoons at a time) and continue whisking the mixture.
  4. Once all the cocoa powder is in the mix, sprinkle the sea salt and finish stirring.
  5. The consistency should be pourable but not too runny. Grab a small spoon and start pouring the mixture into your preferred molds. (You can find the ones I used on Amazon.)
  6. Place your filled molds in the freezer for at least an hour. You can check the solidity of your chocolates by feel.
  7. Keep them refrigerated so they don’t melt!

 

Cocoa Date Energy Bites

When you have a ton of ingredients that might soon reach their best-before dates, what better way to use them in some energy bites?

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This is one of my favourite recipes that I’ve ever created as all the sweetness comes directly from the dates, and the cocoa powder gives an extraordinary chocolate taste but the bitterness is not overpowering at all. This is also my first batch using my collagen powder from Neocell which is a top-rated collagen brand and that I personally love.

_MG_1569If you don’t know what hydrolyzed collagen is, it is produced from the collagen found in the skin, bones and connective tissues of animals in the meat industry. Collagen in our own bodies is the main structural protein that keeps our skin elastic, our nails and hair from breaking, and our bones, tendons and ligaments strong. Supplemental collagen absorption is said to boost and maintain the health of all of these tissues, especially as we age and our bodies start to decrease the production of collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen also serves as a protein source.

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Total time: 15-30 minutes
Makes 20-25 bites

Ingredients:

  • 23-¾ cup homemade date purée
  • 13 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dried coconut
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup milled flaxseed
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 2 scoops Neocell Super collagen
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp maca powder

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl with a spoon or fork.
  2. Continue mixing with your hands to ensure consistency is achieved and then start rolling your bite-sized balls!

Notes:

  1. If the consistency is too liquid, add more flaxseed and coconut. If the consistency is too dry, add more almond butter or date purée depending on preference.
  2. Note that collagen isn’t vegan as it is an animal by-product. To maintain a plant-based recipe, forego the collagen.

Butternut Squash Soup

T’is the season for soup!

It’s been a cold start to the year, especially if you live in or near Calgary, where the temperature at the end of December reached past -30°C. So on the days that you feel like cozying up at home and having some hot, homemade soup, here is the #1 recipe that I recommend you try.

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Butternut squash soup is hands down my favourite puréed soup, as it has the perfect combination of sweet and savoury, and the creamy, nutty essence of the fruit itself. Little did I know, my friend Gwen (check out her blog here!) has been making her own recipe for a while now, and I jumped on the first opportunity to have a duo soup making day (i.e. where Gwen cooks and I eat).

 

Unfortunately, butternut squash harvesting days are over this time of year, so we only found one at the grocery store and had to use acorn squash to satisfy our squash quota. We do not recommend using acorn squash unless you are an expert squash peeler. Seriously, those things are hard to cut! (I watched as Gwen struggled.) Regardless, it still tasted AH-MA-ZINGGGG!

 


Total time: 1-1.5 hours
Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 butternut squashes (or 1 butternut, 1 acorn)
  • 2 small russet potatoes
  • 2 celery stocks (including leaves)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 apple (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1.5 tbsp of butter for flavour (substitute with coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup of pecans: chopped and roasted
  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 1 tbsp of parsley flakes (or fresh parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp of Mrs. Dash: Extra Spicy
  • 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of saffron (optional)
  • pinch of chili powder
  • pinch of dill
  • about 1L of organic chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • water
  • 1 bouillon cube, no MSG

Equipment You’ll Need:

  • large, deep frying pan with cover
  • small frying pan
  • deep pot with cover
  • hand blender
  • measuring devices (if needed)

Instructions:

  1. Peel and chop the squash, fruit and vegetables into suitable cubes (no more than 1 cubic inch).
  2. Set your stove to medium-high for your large frying pan, add your cooking oil of choice, then place your chopped squash into the pan. After 2 minutes add the potatoes and sliced onion. Stir, add oil as needed, and cover.
  3. Wait about 5 minutes before adding the carrots, followed by another few minutes before adding the apple (if desired) and celery. Stir and cover.
  4. On the side, chop your pecans and roast them on the small frying pan. When they are roasted to preference, add them to the main pan.
  5. Keep stirring the main pan and then add butter or a vegan substitute for flavour.
  6. Add the ginger, nutmeg, Mrs. Dash, salt, and pepper to the pan. Stir and cover.
  7. When all appears cooked, transfer the ingredients from the pan to a deep pot and set the stove to medium-low heat.
  8. Add the remaining spices and pour the chicken or vegetable broth into the pot until the solids are fully submerged. Pour more broth as needed, top the pot up with water and add the bouillon cube.
  9. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes in the pot, then check the density of the vegetables to see if they are ready to be blended.
  10. Grab your hand blender and start blending! Remember to keep the blender near the bottom of the pot as to not make a mess and to ensure all is blended to the same consistency.
  11. Add salt, pepper and your favourite spices to taste then blend again for good measure.
  12. Serve with a splash of cream and soy sauce and your best decorative toppings, and voilà!

Butternut squash soup à la Gwen is served!

Photos were taken by none other than Miss Gwen Roebuck.