My experience with HelloFresh

Disclaimer, I should start off by telling you I am a terrible cook. I burn rice, I overcook fish, don’t even ask me what sauté is. My go to meal is mac and cheese.  I am hopeless in the kitchen, or at least that is what I thought.

This year, I decided that even though I am no Gordon Ramsey I wanted to start to develop some basic cooking skills. With an upcoming wedding I wanted to start eating healthier, with a new house I wanted to save money by cooking at home, and with a fiancé that is a whiz in the kitchen I wanted to contribute more. It was time.

However I was off to a bad start when I realized how overwhelming the dark web can be. Millions of “simple” recipes that require dozens of ingredients and endless marinating hours. Just when I had accepted that Uber Eats would continue bankrupting me monthly I was told by a friend to check out HelloFresh.

Discovering HelloFresh

HelloFresh delivers “cook from scratch” fresh meal plans straight to your door. What I liked about the idea of their meals, is that they also provide you with easy-to-follow recipe cards. The cards have step by step instructions and all the delicious ingredients pre-portioned ready to go. I also loved that the meals were quick to make (the ones I chose took about 30 minutes), and you know everything that is going into your meal so you know that it is not just delicious but also healthy.

So many options to fit your needs 

After doing some more research I found out that there are so many different options with HelloFresh, so it is easy to find something that fits your food preferences and budget.  You can order the Pronto Plan, which provides you with 3-4 quick, easy, and delicious recipes for 2-4 people. For the vegetarians there is the Veggie Plan, which offers three amazing vegetarian recipes. The third option is one for the kids too, the Family Plan makes sure the little ones will enjoy their meals and maybe even want to help out in the kitchen. It offers 3-4 recipes for four people. 

I decided to give the Pronto Plan a try since I was planning to cook for just two people. Even though I don’t eat red meat, there was such a variety of options to chose from. Some of the options were a little outside of the box like the Roasted Veggie Tagine. Others, more simple like the Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti and Parmesan.  I ended up choosing these two along with the Chili Chicken with Green Bell Pepper and Basmati Cumin Rice.

A few days later there it was right on my doorstep, a HelloFresh box. Inside the box I found icepacks that were there to keep the food fresh as well as all three of my meals. Just as advertised it came with simple instructions and perfect food portions ready for cooking. 

The Experience 

Meal #1 Roasted Veggie Tagine 

The first meal that I decided to make was the Roasted Veggie Tagine with Nutty Couscous Pilaf. While the cooking level for this one is only a 1 it was such a unique dish with such amazing flavours. I can’t say that slow cooked stews are my go to in the kitchen so I loved that I had a chance to try something new. The combination of the sweet potatoes, homemade fig jam, and the nuts was so different but they all fit together so perfectly. The best part of it all was that the portions were so big I had left overs for days.

Meal #2 Chili Chicken 

Next up was the Chili Chicken with Green Bell Pepper and Basmati Cumin Rice. I knew I would love this dish because it was described as ‘a spicy food lovers dream’ and I sure love spice. This dish consisted of the perfect combination of fresh peppers, chicken, ginger, and garlic to add a little extra flavour. The homemade sauce was mouth watering and the best part when you break it down the actual cooking time was only about 10 minutes.

Meal #3 Classic Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti and Parmesan

Last up was the Classic Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti and Parmesan. I loved the twist on this traditional meal. As I had mentioned one of my main goals was to start eating healthier and so by switching up the ground beef meatballs for turkey ones I could enjoy the pasta guilt free. The homemade tomato sauce was simple yet delicious.

I absolutely loved cooking with HelloFresh. Not only did it help keep my busy life a little less busy by delivering the food right to my door and providing me with easy and fast recipes, but the food was also delicious. I never thought I would be able to make a tasty Tagine dish, but thanks to the easy to follow directions of HelloFresh and their ever changing unique menu options I now feel like a bit of a whiz in the kitchen.

For more information and to check out some of the delicious recipes make sure to visit their website at HelloFresh.ca

Happy cooking my friends,

xo

Mia

A three day itinerary in Cranbook B.C.

I am so lucky that I have had the chance lately to explore more of the beautiful province of B.C. My most recent trip took me out to Cranbrook. Cranbrook is located on the west side of the Kootenay River. It is nestled in the open valley between the beautiful Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. Basically, you are surrounded by towering, beautiful mountain ranges.

The beauty of Cranbrook was evident before I even landed on the ground. I could see the peaks of the mountains through the clouds from the airplane. I landed at the Canadian Rockies International Airport, a short 20 minute drive to downtown Cranbrook and just minutes from Powder Highway. Powder Highway has become famous because of how it makes so many large ski resorts easily accessible.

I had three days exploring the beauty of this small city, learning about the local culture, and tasting some of the delicious food and local brews. I really fell in love with Cranbrook and wanted to share my trip itinerary with you so that hopefully you too will have a chance to fall in love with this beautiful spot.

A weekend itinerary in Cranbrook 

Day 1: Cultural learning experiences and brewery tours

 

Ktunuxa Learning Centre

Once I landed in Cranbrook it was straight to St. Eugene’s Resort and Casino. As we pulled up to the building I was mesmerized by the beautiful red brick contrasting with the deep brown tree vines that hugged it from all angles.

Inside we had a delicious lunch, and then I had a chance to meet with Margoret and Jared, who run the Ktunuxa Learning Centre. I had the chance to learn their Creation Story, look over old artifacts, and even learn how to make moccasins.

What impressed me the most though, was hearing the story of the Residential Schools. Margoret actually attended the school that was once here when she was younger. She told me about some of the terrible stories, but also told me the reason they didn’t want to destroy the building was because they wanted to turn the negative experience of the school into a positive place.

Hideout 

After our time at St. Eugene it was already time for dinner. We made our way to downtown Cranbrook. A very quaint spot with some local bars and restaurants that lined the street. We made our way to the Hideout. The Hideout is the local brewery that is also home to fresh food and ales made right in the Kootenay’s. I love that the brewery doesn’t sell the beer outside of the city, which makes it a true destination spot.

We had a tour of the brewery and found out what makes the beer here so unique. We had a few tasters and even got a flight of some of their season brews (which were so tasty). We then sat down for dinner.

I loved the variety. The restaurant offered everything from bar food to more creative fine dining plates. As someone who loves Indian food, I loved that one of their top chefs, Raj, used his upbringing as inspiration for several dishes. I tried the Masala Poutine and it was to die for.

Day 2: coffees and skiing 

Hotshots 

I started the day at Hotshots. This quaint coffee shop has an amazing selection of coffees and breakfast options. I loved the community feel of the restaurant and their breakfast hash was delicious.

Skiing in Fernie 

After breakfast we drove about an hour outside of town to Fernie Alpine Resort. Fernie is nestled deep in the Canadian Rockies. I have always wanted to visit this spot because of the amazing snow pack it gets year after year. In fact, Fernie regularly tops the list for deepest snow pack in the Canadian Rockies.

The views from the top of the mountain were stunning, the snow was incredible, and there were so many different options for ski runs. It was an amazing experience.

Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap

We then made our way to dinner at Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap for dinner. This is one of the newest downtown spots. It is actually located in a 1929 heritage building that is a former fire hall. I loved the old charm of the building, complete with roll up truck doors and even a fire pole and bell.

Aside from the adorable building look, this family friendly pub had an amazing food options and delicious craft beers. I loved the fact that their flights came in ladders and their fish and chips were incredible.

Day 3: Heritage tours and bike rides 

Fort Steele Historic Site 

We started the day with some delicious warm cinnabons at Fort Steele Heritage Site. Fort Steele is a living history museum. Many of the buildings here are from the 1800s. The museum offers horse drawn wagon rides around town. We got to explore the beautiful and colourful buildings. We had a chance to step inside the newly renovated hotel, where you can actually stay.

We also had a chance to visit some of the farm animals and take in the beautiful views of both the Rocky and Purcell Mountains. I loved learning about the history and seeing all the beauty of this spot.

Fat biking 

After Fort Steele we made our way over the forests to learn more about fat biking in Cranbrook. Last winter the entire town came together for a crowdfunding project to raise money for a trail groomer. Thanks to that funding, the city of Cranbrook was able to create more than 40km of beautiful groomed trails.

I loved learning how to ride a fat bike, and it was such gorgeous terrain. The perfect way to enjoy the beauty of Cranbrook while getting some exercise.

Cranbrook History Centre 

The last stop of the trip was to the Cranbrook History Centre. The museum is a collection 0f 28 railway cars, and you can actually tour 13 of them. We had a chance to see the 1929 Trans Canada Limited train as well as the executive car “Strathcona”, which housed gusts like Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.

Where to stay?

Cranbrook is a very quaint town, and I liked the fact that there weren’t hotels on every corner, however there are definitely some hidden gems in the city.

During my trip I stayed at the Elizabeth Lake Lodge. This alpine style hotel had a full kitchen and the most comfortable beds.

I also loved that the hotel room backed on to Elizabeth Lake Bird Sanctuary. I was able to go on some hikes and walks with the beautiful Rockies as my backdrop

I fell in love with this adorable town, from the beauty of the mountains to the incredible history, to the amazing outdoor adventures Crambrook is a must visit. It is the perfect escape for a weekend away.

Here are a few more shots from my getaway too Cranbrook.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Tofino should be on your winter to do list

I have written a few blogs now sharing my love for Tofino. It is the perfect escape, quaint and quiet and absolutely beautiful. The village is located on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island. Since it is nestled in the Clayoquot Sound, it is the prime summer destination for surfing and beach time. 

However, thanks to the help of Tourism Tofino, I quickly realized Tofino isn’t just for the summer, but it is the perfect winter getaway as well. I spent two days exploring the beautiful island town and getting to see a very different side of Tofino that I wanted to share with you. 

Day 1: Storm watching and surfing

I started the day with breakfast and a coffee in the Great Room of the Long Beach Lodge. The Long Beach Lodge is a stunning resort located right on Cox Bay Beach. In fact I woke up to the sounds of the waves crashing right outside my window. 

The Great Room offers award winning cuisine and large windows that let you see the stunning views of the water. The perfect spot to watch the waves crash against the rocks during the storm watching season. 

Speaking of storm watching, that is one of the things that make winter so special in Tofino. Because of the open waters, we tend to see gale force winds, giant swells, and lashing waves. Waves can crash right up to the shore and can reach more than 9 meters high. 

What I loved about storm watching is that there are so many ways to enjoy nature at work. You could sit by the fire inside with a book listening to the power of the waves, or you could go outside and experience it up close and personal, just make sure you are in safe areas. 

After being memorized throughout breakfast watching and listening to the waves smashing on the rocks, it was time to actually get in the water and experience it first hand. 

I have tried surfing in the summer, but the waves are much larger during the winter months. Of course, you wear a full and thick wetsuit because the water is freezing, but being able to feel the power of the waves is incredible. 

Of course, it is important to stay safe and know the conditions ahead of time. If you aren’t experienced you should talk to some of the local surf shops and maybe sign up for a lesson. 

After surfing, I was in need of some food so we made our way to Pai. Pai is a newer food truck tucked away behind the main strip. They serve delicious fusion asian and Thai food. In fact, some of the chefs there even went to Thailand to get their training. The seasoning and food was absolutely incredible and it was very affordable. 

Then it was back to our ocean front room at the Long Beach Lodge to get a good night sleep before the next day of our adventure

Day 2: Brunch with a view and whiskey samples 

To start our second day, we made our way over the Wickaninnish Inn, another perfect storm watching spot. WE got a tour of the beautiful property. We were able to meet with the owner Charles McDiarmid to find out how he started to market storm watching season as a tourist opportunity over a delicious brunch. 

After watching the waves crashing up against the rocks, we made our way into town and did a little bit of shopping. 

I decided to finally purchase my very own Roy Henry Vickers piece of art. He is known for limited addition first nations beautiful pieces. 

After a bit of shopping, I made my way over to The Distillery, a brand new distillery in Tofino and tried samples of their West Coast Gin and delicious Jalapeno Vodka. 

A few drinks in it was time for some fresh air. We took a little walk along Chesterman beach and through the beautiful forests in the area. Even though the rain was falling down, it felt so good to be outside among these giants and breathing in the fresh air. Seeing these ancient trees up close and personal make you so appreciate to live in a place like BC. 

The night finished off at my favourite restaurant in the area, Shelter. It is the perfect date night spot in Tofino with a quaint fire place and romantic feel. Plus every single item on their menu is both fresh and delicious. I always try and sneak in some BC wild Salmon. 

Tofino winter vacation tips 

I have fallen in love with the amazing town of Tofino and will be sure to visit again soon in summer or winter. Just a few tips if you are planning a winter getaway 

  • Check the weather forecast ahead of time especially if you are hoping to see storms. We unfortunately didn’t see any crazy waves on our trip but still had an amazing time. If you are hoping for an intense storm make sure the forecast calls for it ahead of time. 
  • Bring an umbrella and waterproof clothes: What I loved about a lot of the hotels we visited in the area is that they really embrace storm watching. They offered umbrellas and raincoats for guests at both Long Beach Lodge and Wickanninsh Inn, but you might want to check with the hotel ahead of time to see if you need to bring your own. 
  • Look for some sweet deals ahead of time: While tourism is definitely on the rise, it is still considered the off season and so a lot of hotels will offer some pretty sweet deals. Make sure you search for them if you are thinking of booking a trip! 
  • Be ready to relax. I am the kind of person that loves adventure, and while Tofino does have a lot of outdoor activities, it is a really small town. It is the perfect place to go if you are looking for a relaxing weekend getaway 

Happy traveling my friends 

xo 

Mia 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A foodies guide to Santorini

 

20768226_10213680891592521_4542167224932255520_n-2Santorini is known for its romantic sunsets, blue domed homes, and breathtaking views of the Caldera. But what some may not associate with this small Greek island, is its incredible food scene. From seaside feasts, to grab and go gyros, Santorini offers a variety of delicious meals and today I am sharing some of the places I fell in love with.

Best for a Romantic Setting: The Red Bicycle 

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Santorini is known for its romance, and a lot of restaurants in the area feed off of that, but the Red Bicycle really set the tone. The restaurant looks quaint from the outside. An adorable sign complete with a red bicycle hangs on top a couple of stairs. Once you walk through the doors however, you are transformed to one of those views that looks like it was painted in the sky. The giant veranda extends over to views of the Mediterranean and the deep red rock of the Caldera in the distance. As the sun sinks down, the colours ignite the sky. Bright pinks and purples light up your table. Views aside, the food is what you truly come here for. Chef Gikas Xenakis not only produces beautiful looking dishes but also beautiful tasting combinations. From the eggplant puree, to the famous lamb shoulder, you cannot go wrong. It is the best spot in Santorini to grab a glass of wine and take in the sunset with your loved one.

Best View : Sunset Ammoudi Tavern

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Santorini is famous for its sunsets, so why not grab yourself a front row seat to watch the magic unfold. Sunset Ammoudi is located down the winding stairs of Ammoudi Bay. The restaurant itself is carved into the red volcanic rock, and because of its locations, it offers the clearest view to the west. Try and arrive early to get a seat right on the water. The restaurant was opened by a local fisherman, so their speciality is the fresh seafood. Try the lobster pasta and then sit back, relax, and watch the sunset unfold in front of your eyes.

Best Sharing Menu : Melitini 

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This little tapas restaurant in the heart of Oia came highly recommended by the locals, so you know it has to be delicious. This was actually the first tapas that served traditional Greek food in the town. All of the food and drinks are local and fresh. Despite the tasty treats, you also have a stunning view. Their upstairs patio looks directly onto the Caldera. The sharing portions are the perfect sign and the best part is the food isn’t just traditional but also affordable.

Best “Off the Beaten Path” Restaurant: Vineyart

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This restaurant is the perfect spot if you are looking for something a little different. While most restaurants in Santorini focus on romance, this one has more of a funky feel. No view of the Caldera, instead you get to truly explore local art and food. It is located off the main road, tucked away in a quaint corner of Oia. While the menu is small, everything is sourced locally from Santorini from their food items to their wine. Try their traditional Greek salad, topped with hand made olive oil while exploring their exterior decoration. Santorini vines take over the walls and tables. Once you have finished your meal, stop into their downstairs art gallery where local artists work hangs from the wall.

Want to see more of Santorini? Well here you go

Mia Goes M.I.A. The Amalfi Coast

20840616_10213699571099497_4873159854700485860_nThis summer I had the chance to visit the Amalfi Coast, a magical coastline in south Italy. It is hard to put into words just how beautiful the Amalfi Coast truly is but I will try my best. Close your eyes and imagine a place filled with colour, colourful homes and buildings that climb up into the green mountains. Then imagine below the cliffs is the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, so clean, and clear, and welcoming. Now picture quaint little coffee shops and restaurants that line a narrow road, the only road that gets you in and out of the small towns. Let’s focus on that road for a second, so many twists and turns that unveil a new part of the coast that was just as beautiful as the last. Yes, the Amalfi Coast is truly beautiful and it is a must see. While I only spent two days in the area (which is not nearly enough), I had a chance to see, discover, and do so much and here are just a few of my recommendations when in the Amalfi Coast.

Drive 

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We arrived in Naples and from there we rented a car to drive to Positano, the town along the coast that we decided to stay in. To be honest with you the drive was a little scary. The roads are so narrow and with so many twists and turns, you never know what is behind the next corner, but it offers some insanely beautiful views. I am glad I didn’t gave to get behind the wheel, but if you are a confident drive and ok with navigating tight squeezes, then I definitely recommend driving the coast. As I mentioned the views on the side of the cliff of the villages and the ocean along the way are spectacular. Just make sure to rent a small car!

A Day Trip to Capri 

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We decided to take a boat trip out to Capri with Blue Star Positano and we really had an amazing experience. Now as I said this is a day trip and takes several hours, but it is so worth it. We started the day heading out to Capri with a stop at the White and Green grotto. Our captain, Pepe, was so informative telling us about each stop and showing us what makes each grotto unique. We then stopped for a little swim break and Pepe served us some prosecco and wine. Once at Capri, we had some free time to explore the island It was a little expensive for my taste but worth a stop.

On the way back I was a little disappointed because the line to the famous Blue Grotto was more than an hour wait, but our captain Pepe was to the rescue. He took us to his “secret” blue Grotto where you don’t wait or pay a dime. It was a beautiful hidden gem. Once back on the boat, our trip was capped off with some homemade limoncello.

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Relax on the Beach 

The beach in Positano can get quite crowded but it is worth checking out the local shops and markets that surround the area. However, there are a few more private beaches that are less crowded near by.

We decided to walk down to the beach at dusk on our first night in town. As it turns out it was actually a national holiday and we were treated to an amazing firework show.

 

Mamma Mia, Indulge in some Pizza 

Naples, which is just a short hour drive from Positano happens to be the birth place of pizza. Because of the close proximity, and the fact that you are in Italy after all, there are some delicious homemade pizza spots in the area. We decided to make it our mission to eat as much local pizza as possible. My favourite spot was this restaurant called Il Capitano. It is a family owned restaurant that offers some incredible views of Positano and some incredibly fresh and delicious pizzas.

Take a Hike 

Make sure to bring some walking shoes when you visit the area because there are plenty of stairs to climb. But the most spectacular walk of all happens to be the Path of the Gods. This hike takes you  to the highest summit of the Sorrento Peninsula known as the “Sant’Angelo a Tre Pizzi.” Along the way you will find spectacular views of the cliffs and the water below.

Fun fact: The path is still used by farmers and shepherds as it reaches old vineyards on the mountain.

Even if you don’t make it to this hike, just talking a walk around town will guarantee you some amazing views and some instagram worthy pictures.

 

Treat Yourself 

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It is not every day that you get to visit a Michelin Star restaurant, so we decided to treat ourselves. We visited Zass, about a 20-minute drive from Positano. The overall experience was incredible. From the service, to the food, to the views, it exceeded all expectations. It was an amazing way to finish our trip.

The Amalfi Coast is a magical and beautiful place that you need to see to believe. It is filled with towns to explore, beaches to uncover, and pizza to eat. I hope that some of my recommendations helps ensure you have the perfect trip to this perfect place.