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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Spices for Love, Love your Spices!

Did you know cardamom, ginger, nutmeg & saffron are known for the aphrodisiac  properties in them? They also have a variety of other health benefits too (digestive aids, antioxidant properties,  cardiovasular protection to name a few). Saffron and cardamom are the most expensive spices - but you only need a little bit for the huge price of love!

The saying "a way to a man's heart is through his stomach" may hold true for some of us over Valentines. Roses, chocolates, strawberries, champagne are all popular gift choices too.

If you're like me and think Valentine's Day romance can be a little contrived, here are some alternative reasons for your heart to celebrate the day.

Roses, rose water, rose essence are uplifting for the heart.
Chocolate is actually scientifically proven to be good for the heart and mood!
Strawberries are one of the superfoods rich in antioxidant and cardiovascular protective properties.
Champagne, believe it or not, is also claimed to be good for the heart and in preventing strokes according to studies in the UK.

What's even better is that all of these ingredients pair really well  with my favourite spice of all, cardamom! Needless to say, I needed no more motive to get my creative hat on and create an all in one V-day recipe: Jelly Amore! A great dessert incorporating roses, strawberries, sparkling wine/cava/champagne, chocolate & cardamom. Indulgent yet light and still healthy!

Our limited edition Spices for Love Gift Set comes with all of the following:

 A Spice Sanctuary recipe
 This is a dessert using rose, sparkling wine, strawberries & spices, an all in one aphrodisiac! Gluten Free &  Dairy Free! Comes with dried rose petals for the recipe.

'Love' Tea
Organic, hint of rose & lavender and just perfect for after that romantic meal!
Spiced Chocolates
Delicious chocolates inspired by Indian sweets!

Love Stencil Set

Valentine's Day is just one day of the year but making a fuss of the one you love should be done everyday. I recently came across a great accessory for doing just this! 

All you need is our Sweet Booster Spice Blend and a love stencil. Place the stencil over your hot beverage, sprinkle the spice blend, lift the stencil away & serve! What a lovely & healthy way to say good morning to your love everyday!

Spice for Love Gift Set $21 (incl. GST) and Love Stencil Set $12.50 (incl. GST). 
To purchase, contact us at

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

The key ingredients for the jerk marinade is allspice and scotch bonnet chilis. The latter isone of the hottest variety of chilis. Allspice is a stand alone spice with the taste and aroma of other spices such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg and black pepper. It is native and in its superior grade when from Jamaica. Between the allspice, scotch bonnet chilis, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, this seasoning offers huge antioxidants as well as cardiovascular protective properties, blood sugar control and brain health benefits.

4-8         Scotch bonnet or jalepeno chilis
5             Green onions, chopped finely
1             small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp    Ginger, grated
4             Garlic cloves, minced
50 ml    White Wine vinegar
2 Tbsp    Soy Sauce (or Liquid Soy for gluten free option)
2 Tbsp    Grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp    Dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp    Allspice, ground
2 Tsp      Dried thyme
1/2 Tsp   Cinnamon powder
1/2 Tsp   Nutmeg, ground
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Add the chilies, green onions, onion, ginger, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce and oil to a food processor and process until smooth and well combined. 
2. Turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, thyme and spices. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

You're now ready to marinade. This pairs particularly well with chicken or pork. 

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Learnings from London

My recent working vacation to London over the Christmas period was my chance to seek out  inspiration from restaurants and all that London has to offer in the food scene.  The two things that immediately struck me was the amount of consumer choice available and competitive pricing on groceries and food treats. This is probably driven by simple supply and demand economics and population numbers. Both of these features are integral to two particular items of food for thought (pardon the pun!)

Supper Clubs & Tasting Menus

In the wake of a recession, the secret world of supper clubs have emerged in the heart of London. Ordinary people make delicious gourmet food and serve it to the public in their home and accept donations as recompense. One or two have even got the likes of Jamie Oliver hooked.

I am not aware of the health and safety intricacies of these clubs and am sure that this would not be easily done in Canada but there is an interesting idea to take away from this and the key is in the word "donation". The concept goes a long way to introducing different dishes and choice to people at affordable prices. . While in London, people are making money from it, they are donating choice to people. What a great fundraising  or launch idea this would be for budding chefs or restaurants.

Tasting menus are huge in the London restaurant scene. Previously associated with high end restaurants, this is now becoming a popular way to draw customers in to try a range of dishes the restaurant offers and often at very reasonable prices. Trishna restaurant (sadly not quite named after me!) is offering a 5 course tasting menu with matching wine for  
£25 or C$40. This will be my final dinner out next week.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Apart from being a great inspiration read by Susan Jeffers, this motto is exactly what I witnessed when dining out in London. Every restaurant I went to was at full capacity, the demographics varied widely and the food was always affordable but very good. First was the Wolesely for afternoon tea. From business meetings to ladies catching up, this was a very popular food option indeed! Then there was Bangalore Express, a modern Indian tapas style restaurant. Normally, if you see Indians in an Indian restaurant, it is a sure sign it is good and there were a few there (including me of course) but there were students & seniors there too. The tapas nature of this eatery meant the menu choice was huge! Finally and probably the most enlightening was Vanilla Black. A pure vegetarian restaurant recently awarded the AA 2 rosette award and Michelin nominated. Innovative use of vegetables in every dish, excellent presentation and yes, you guessed it, packed! Families, Indians, Asians, English, people in jeans, suits & dresses. I am pretty sure that the majority of people in that restaurant were not 100% vegetarian but they were there to try it or came back because they loved it before.

This experience was the epitomy of two of the quotes on the Spice Sanctuary website:

"Food is our common ground, a univeral experience" James Beard
"Food is for every person, whatever age, gender or creed"

So, don't be afraid to try something new: at worst you'll never have it again and best you've just treated your taste buds to something fabulous!

As I re-read this post to write a conclusion, I realize that the words "choice"and "affordable" recur and are the two very concepts that Spice Sanctuary offers. So I guess you can take me out of London but can't take London out of me!

p.s. how are those new year resolutions going? :)