The first time I ever went to a frat party, someone asked me where I was from. Confidently, I smiled and said “Toronto.”
Then, he asked me where I was from… again! So I said “Toronto.”
He leaned in- way too close for my taste in comfort if I must say – and said “WHERE?!” So I replied…. Yet again… “TORONTO!”
For a second there, I thought he had finally understood me. But life is always full of disappointments. He responded by saying, “Ohhh! That’s in Illinois right?”
I shook my head and walked away. Partly confused, partly frustrated, and just plain in shock.
As a Canadian studying in the states, it’s quite absurd seeing the amount of people who truly don’t know ANYTHING about their cold, Northern neighbour. And I know you’re probably sitting there thinking, that’s not true! Of course we know about Canada. But please, tell that to the guy who asked me the other day how I enjoyed living in snow all year round…
Yes our winters are cold (very cold) and the winter season is long (too long), but we also have a lot of things going for us too. For one: hockey capital 101. Look left, look right, we’re all about that puck. We’re also very VERY apologetic… and a little too nice for our own good. Not to mention we also have our own and superior form of Dunkin Donuts called Tim Horton’s, serving up the best iced cappuccinos and timbits you’ll ever taste!
But what also makes us truly Canadian are our delicious and mouthwatering classic dishes!
So in the spirit of embracing my Canadian side and keeping true to my love of health, here are:
5 (lightened-up) ehhh-mazing Canadian classic dishes
Rosemary Garlic Poutine
You truly have NOT experienced Canada without having savored this delicious classic!
Poutine is a French-Canadian specialty of crisp, crunchy French fries and melted gooey cheese curds, all smothered in a rich brown gravy sauce. This lightened up version will give you all the benefits of these rich flavours, without that added Canadian beer-belly look. Serve it as an appetizer or simply dig into it with some friends and Netflix. This warm, crunchy dish will not disappoint!
- 3 large potatoes of your choice
- ¼ cup of finely chopped onion
- 2 tbsps of margarine
- 2 tbsps of all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups of sodium-reduced mushroom broth
- 2 cups of cubed low-fat fresh mozzarella cheese
- A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsps of rosemary
- 2 tsps of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a medium-sized cutting board, wash, peel, and then cut the potatoes into rectangular slices about ½ an inch thick.
- Place the potato fries on a medium-sized lined baking tray. Drizzle the olive oil over top and sprinkle the rosemary, garlic powder, and the pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Place the seasoned fries in the oven. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until the potatoes have developed a golden brown colour. Make sure to flip the fries over halfway through cooking.
- While the fries are cooking, sauté the onions in a small sauce pan with the margarine until they have caramelized. Add in the flour slowly and stir the mixture over medium heat until it becomes a rich brown colour.
- Carefully and gradually add in the mushroom broth. Cook the mixture for 8-10 minutes or until it begins to thicken to resemble a gravy-like consistency. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- When the fries are ready, place them into a circular oven dish. Top the fries with the cubed fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Place the dish into the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble but is not fully melted yet.
- Pull the fries out of the oven and drizzle the gravy over top. Serve warm, gooey, and oh so delicious!
Better For You Butter Tart
Butter tarts are another classic Canadian traditional dish!
They are one of Canada’s quintessential desserts, and trust me when I say that they won’t ever leave you disappointed or unsatisfied!
With their flaky pastry crust and rich, gooey caramel center that oozes with every bite, what is there possibly not to love?
- 2 cups of pure rolled oats
- 1 cup of brown rice flour
- A pinch of sea salt
- 4 ½ tbsp. of melted coconut oil
- 5 tbsp of brown rice syrup
- ½ cup of brown rice syrup
- ¼ cup of barley malt
- 2 tbsp of arrowroot powder
- 2 tbsp of melted coconut oil
- 1 scraped vanilla bean
- ¼ tsp of baking powder
- A pinch of sea salt
- 1/3 cup of organic raisins (optional but a very traditional touch)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- To make the pie crust:
- Place the rolled oats into a medium-sized food processor and blend on high until they become a flour-like consistency.
- Combine this “flour” with the brown-rice flour and the salt in a mixing bowl. Pour the melted coconut oil, as well as the brown rice syrup over the dry ingredients and mix them together until everything has been incorporated (use your hands to knead the dough)
- In a muffin or cupcake pan, place about a golf scoop of the dough into each individual hole. Using your fingers, press down to mold the dough to fit perfectly into each hole. Note: the thinner the dough is, the flakier the pastry shell will turn out.
- Bake the dough shells in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until the crusts are a slight light golden colour around the edges. Be careful to not over bake them.
- To make the filling:
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the filling ingredients except for the raisins. Mix the ingredients until it develops a smooth consistency. Fold in the raisins to the mixture.
- Spoon the filling into each baked pastry shell. Make sure to place just enough so that the shell is filled just below the rim of the crust. Place the filled shells into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the filling begins to bubble and turns brown along the edges.
- Once the butter tarts have baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 10-15 minutes. Place them in the refrigerator until they have chilled and firmed.
- Remove the tarts from the ramekins. Store at room temperature, or heat up, serve warm, and enjoy the oozing goodness of a Canadian delicacy!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Wait… how is mac and cheese Canadian?
Believe it or not, Kraft Dinner is actually a Canadian brand. Sorry Americans, but this cheesy dish has our name written all over it. In fact, no Canadian had a full, loving childhood without there being a bowl of warm, creamy, and oh so cheesy, Kraft dinner waiting on the dinner table after a long day of school!
Here is a lightened up classic using butternut squash for an added dimension of rich and creaminess.
- 1 package of cooked whole wheat macaroni
- 1 ½ cups of boiled, pureed butternut squash
- 1 cup of milk of your choice (low-fat, almond, soy)
- 1 tbsp of margarine or melted coconut oil
- 3 tbsp of non-fat plain greek yogurt
- 1 cup of low-fat grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup of grated gruyere cheese
- A pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large pan, combine the butternut squash puree, the milk, the butter/coconut oil, and the yogurt. Cook over medium-high heat and stir the contents until everything is incorporated and it develops into a rich, smooth consistency.
- When the mixture begins to simmer, slowly and gradually add in the cheddar and Gruyere cheese. Mix the contents until the sauce begins to thicken. Season it with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (Make sure to save some cheese to top the pasta later!)
- Gradually, stir in the cooked macaroni pasta with the sauce. Once all the pasta has been incorporated, transfer the mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish.
- Top the dish with the leftover cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the dish has turned a golden colour and the cheese has begun to bubble.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy a warm, cheesy and creamy delight!
Orange Fennel Maple Glazed Bacon
Real Maple Syrup + Bacon?
Can you get any MORE Canadian?
This spin on a breakfast classic combines the two ingredients Canadians are known for: bacon and real maple syrup. This fancy, lightened up version will have everyone raving and wanting more!
- 12 slices of reduced-fat turkey bacon
- 3 tbsp of real organic maple syrup
- 1 tbsp of fresh orange zest
- 1 tsp of fennel seeds
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the bacon strips across the baking sheet.
- Brush the maple syrup over the bacon. Sprinkle the fennel seeds and top it all off with the fresh orange zest.
- Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the bacon is fully cooked through and has a dark golden brown colour.
- Remove the sheet from the oven when the bacon is fully cooked and let it cool for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve warm, and enjoy this flavorsome-elevated crunch of the true north!
Crisp Autumn Apple Pie
Although Apple pie is a staple dessert for many places around the world, no one does apple pies quite like the Canadians do!
When pie season comes rolling around in the spring and autumn season, you can bet to see a warm, freshly baked apple pie in the windowsill of most Canadian families!
For pie crust (makes 2: bottom and top layer):
- 3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
- A pinch of salt
- ½ cup of melted coconut oil
- 1 cup of milk of your choice (low fat, almond, soy)
For pie filling:
- 7-9 cups of thinly sliced peeled granny smith apples
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp of nutmeg
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp of stevia
- 1tbsp of whole wheat flour
- 1 egg white
- For the pie crust:
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour and the salt. Gradually pour in the milk and oil. Stir the mixture until a dough consistency is reached.
- Shape the dough into two flat balls, wrap each it in plastic wrap, and let them cool in the fridge for approximately 30-40 minutes.
- Once the dough has chilled, place the two balls on top of a flour-sprinkled surface. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough balls as well. Using a rolling pin, roll each of the dough balls out until it has reached the desired size of the pie dish.
- Transfer one of the two rolled-out dough balls onto a nonstick pie dish. Press the dough all around so that there are no air gaps. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the dough. Note: if there is excess dough around the rim, use a knife to cut and level it out.
- Set the second rolled out dough ball to the side. This piece will be used to cover the pie mixture later on.
- For the pie:
- In a medium-sized bowl, pour the lemon juice on top of the sliced apple and add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and stevia. Toss the apples to carefully mix all the components.
- In a large cooking pot, place the apples and cook over medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the apples are tender (this step will prevent the apples from not fully cooking and staying raw when the pie is baked).
- Once the apples are cooked, add in the whole-wheat pastry flour, combine, and let the mixture cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Place the apple mixture into the pie dish. Cover the mixture with the second rolled out pie dough. Using a fork, press down on the dough along the edges to seal the crust and create a fork imprinted design. Make sure to also add in some fork pricks along the top as well.
- Brush the top layer with the egg whites and sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg over top. Bake the pie for 40-45 minutes or until it appears golden brown.
- Let the pie rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve this delicious classic warm and oozing with autumn flavours!
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