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Macro Monday: Some good stuff - products & brands I enjoy

I've been slowly collecting links to products/companies that I want to show you guys, and today's the day that I arrange it all into one post.

BUT, seeing as how it's Monday, let's start the week off right... by laughing. Check out these culinary atrocities, and just be so, SO glad that you aren't eating them right now. And if you are...dude, seriously re-think.

Happy Macro Monday!

MM: Some Good Stuff - Dainty Pig Favourites

Frickin' Delights Donuts

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  • Okay, Edmonton friends, I've mentioned these amazing donuts before...but seriously, if you haven't tried them already, you gotta try them!
  • Mandy is a wonderful, inspiring woman, who who puts so much love into these wonderful treats.
  • They are vegan, and made with tons of fresh & healthy ingredients.
  • Check out her website here, and you can follow her on facebook, instagram, and twitter.
  • Also, she is now at the Strathcona Farmer's Market, so make sure to pay her a visit
  • AND, if it's just too much to leave the house for donuts, Mandy can even deliver them right to you. Go on, order them for all your friends, they'll love you for it (if you need to order outside the form, just call her: 587 338 8044!  <3

 

Earth's Herbal Teas

earth's herbal tea.jpg
  • Website link here.
  • This tea company is actually based here in Victoria (yay!).
  • Super cute and fun packaging
  • They have many medicinal, and just plain awesome tea blends
  • I've only ever gotten their teas from my local grocery store, but it looks like they have a link to an Etsy shop (it doesn't currently work, but perhaps will in the future).

Nezza Naturals (Body care and cleaning products)

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  • Website here.
  • Also based in Victoria, these guys make wonderful soaps, lotions, you name it
  • I really like that everything I have tried has not irritated my skin, and has smelled amazing!
  • I love all their kinds of soaps, but we recently tried this one and thought it was just amazing
  • You can bring in your empty containers for things like detergent, liquid soaps, etc. and get a discount by refilling it.

 

 

Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary

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  • They are all about wild, organic, plant medicine.
  • They provide nicely packaged superfoods, superfood blends, herbs, teas, seaweeds, medicinal mushrooms, ingredients for tonics & elixirs, essential oils & salves, and raw chocolate ingredients of all kinds.
  • My favourite so far is: the Super Power Blend...it's a wonderful mix of raw cacao powder, mesquite, lucuma, maca, and vanilla powder. This mix makes the best dang hot cocoa ever...love it :)
  • Check them out online here.

Japanese Artistry Bicycle Bell

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  • Yes, I get excited about things other than food too, haha :)
  • I have waited far to long to put a bell on my new bicycle, and I recently remedied that situation.
  • I got this beauty right here, but in silver, cause my bike is more of a silver and white gal...and it's awesome!
  • Of course, I'm partial to all things Japan, but it is a great bell, and it makes a really pretty sound.
  • If you're in need a new bell, I highly recommend it
  • You can check it out here at Manufactum

 

 

Trillium Soaps & Candles

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  • Another Victoria product - new to me!
  • All of their candles and creams smell SO good. Like ridiculously amazing.
  • My favourite scent is their apricot line, but their raspberry leaf along with the mango lime scents fall close behind.
  • They make awesome little mini creams which are great hand creams to throw in your bag.
  • Their candles are great, and last forever, making your house or office smell delicious for hours upon hours.
  • All their products are made using great ingredients.
  • You can check them out online here.

 

BOOM CHICKA POP

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  • Definitely the most delicious popcorn I've had (other than fresh homemade kettle corn, of course).
  • Pretty great ingredients...not very oily or salty
  • Tastes extremely fresh, for coming out of a bag
  • Seriously, I need to say it again: everybody I know who has tried agrees... it is SO GOOD.
  • TIP: COSTCO has this popcorn...so as per usual that means that it's the same price as the tiny bag you can buy at the natural foods shop, only you get 4X as much, and believe me, you'll want the extra.

 

 

 

Acure Organics Argan Oil Shampoo

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  • I really like the smell of this shampoo.
  • It works really well, as it does what it says!
  • It has pretty safe ingredients.
  • All the Acure Organics products have great packaging...especially their little face creams etc.
  • I buy their products on iHerb.
  • Some of my other favourite products by this company are their daycream, and their straight up argan oil

 

Okay friends, that's about it for this round.
I'll share some more soon :)

Also, if we haven't yet connected on facebook or instagram, come & follow along.
Dainty Pig Facebook and on instagram <3

Have a wonderful week!
xoxo Jess

MM: Macrobiotics, Victoria Style :)

One of the things I love the most about living in Victoria, are the many many MANY healthy eating options. There are just so many cafes, bakeries, healthy restaurants, and markets. Foodie heaven, for sure.

Macro Monday: Macrobiotics in Victoria

Restaurants & Cafes

I haven't even come close to trying all the Dainty Pig friendly places to eat...but here's a list of some of favourites so far. Rest assured there will be multiple followups to this post.

Kissako Green Tea Cafe
http://www.kissakogreenteacafe.com/

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  • A cute, small, family style cafe in Oak Bay. As the name suggests, you can get a mean cup of green tea here. I'm talking high quality Japanese Matcha, made properly...you know, so it isn't bitter, and froths perfectly.
  • The food is great: straight up Japanese Macrobiotic food. I've tried the kinpira, miso udon, age dashi tofu, and veggie gyoza. All were the best versions of those foods that both T & I have ever tried, anywhere...even in Japan.
  • They also have a substantial brown rice veggie sushi menu!
  • They also have lovely desserts like green tea roll cakes & daifuku...which, if you're a red bean dessert fan like me, will be your remedy for Japanese food homesickness.
  • Bonus: the place is very cute inside, and so are the owners -- they are very friendly!
  • Another bonus: priced very fairly.

Rebar Modern Food Cafe
http://rebarmodernfood.com/

Green veggie curry with tofu, lime &amp; peanuts :)

Green veggie curry with tofu, lime & peanuts :)

Barley Miso

Barley Miso

  • Right in the heart of downtown, in Bastion Square, Rebar is a Victoria classic. Rebar has it all: plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and macro friendly options.
  • I like it because you can get simple stuff like a basket of steamed veggies and brown rice with a side miso soup...or you can get all fancy with soba salads & green curries, or you can get your sweet comfort food like tempeh reubens and yam fries.
  • Their vegetarian dishes are really great (so I've heard), with some of the best veggie burgers and miso gravy fries in town.
  • They also have a great fresh juice selection, and they have chosen awesomely funny names for their juice creations - you'll have to visit to see for yourself.
  • The atmosphere inside is funky, and also relaxing & chill. The price is a bit more than others on my list, but it's worth it.

Green Cuisine
http://www.greencuisine.com/

Macro Takeout :)  

Macro Takeout :)
 

  • This gem is tucked away in the lower part of Market Square downtown.
  • They are basically a vegan self-serve buffet (but highly Macrobiotic)-- with eat in or takeout options.
  • The menu rotates daily (you can check before hand online) but there is always a couple of soups, cornbread, pickled veggies, salad options, steamed veggies, and tofu, seitan, or tempeh dishes. Often as well, are cold noodle salads like soba or Mediterranean pasta salads. There are usually stews and bean patties or falafels too. Toppings include gomaisho (sesame salt), and various oils like flax and olive oil, and seasonings like nutritional yeast and roasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Then of course, is my favourite part about this lovely place: the treats. SO MANY wonderful treats to choose from, all are vegan, and most are Macrobiotic. This is like finding a needle in a haystack. Seriously, so lucky to have this place here for when the sweet craving strikes and I don't wanna bake. There are daily cakes -- often cheesecakes or mousse cakes, and fruit crumbles. But my favourites are the baked goodies, like the brown rice peanut butter cookies, or the oat & hemp seed bars. Their spelt blackberry muffins are great. And if you want a really decadent treat, try their brownies or their "not nanaimo" bars.
  • Also a bonus, they make their own pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and amasake...you may have seen them before in larger chains like planet organic :)

Sakura Japanese Sushi & Restaurant

sakura brown rice sushi
  • A cute place tucked away on Yates street (right by The Market on Yates grocery store). It really reminds T & I of a homestyle country Japanese food.
  • The menu has lots of different brown rice veggie rolls (all delicious), and various bento boxes and donburis. Along with the rolls, the miso is fantastic, and one of my favourite things to get is the ginger tofu & veggies donburi. Super yummy!
  • Another bonus: free barley tea with your meal.

Sen Zushi
http://www.senzushi.com/

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  • Excellent, excellent Japanese food.
  • They have many macro friendly options, including brown rice & delicious udon (which they import from Ehime, the prefecture where I lived for 2 years) which you can order with natto! but in all reality, their specialty is sushi, and they do it amazingly well! Probably the best sushi I've ever had.
  • On the winter menu, you can order tofu veggie nabe (a wonderful hotpot) and it was so good!
  • This place gets BUSY FAST...so make a reservation

Be Love
http://beloverestaurant.ca/

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  • Right on Blanshard & Fort, downtown.
  • Be Love just opened up recently, and we've been quite a few times!
  • Really awesome space, cool design, friendly staff, and mouthwatering desserts.
  • I would say the restaurant is definitely slanted more to the raw foods lifestyle (lots of juices, raw crackers and raw breads), but they definitely do have enough cooked food options that I can't stop going back.
  • They have a macro bowl on the menu, made with quinoa, seaweed, lots of veggies, sauerkraut & flax oil -- it's delicious & I've also had an amazing polenta dish :)
  • Their desserts are pretty insane...raw cheesecakes like no others!
  • They also have some really neat drinks like Mu tea soda
  • The price is mid-range. Similar or a little less than Rebar.

Bakeries

Fry's Red Wheat Bread
http://www.frysbakery.com/

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  • Worth the trip out to Esquimalt in a heart beat, as it is definitely the best bread I've ever eaten. It doesn't hurt my belly...that's the most important thing...but it tastes phenomenal (also SUPER important!).
  • All of their breads are fermented naturally aka natural sourdough...and they do it right! They use whole grains and the red wheat is very tasty!
  • They have great special creations, like the time I was lucky enough to snag a wholegrain loaf that had kabocha in it!
  • They make great breakfast breads too, with hazelnuts & raisins
  • And for the treat lovers out there, their pastries look out of this world. Their german pretzels are soooo good too :)

Wildfire
http://www.wildfirebakery.ca/

Vegan Sandwich to go &lt;3

Vegan Sandwich to go <3

  • On Quadra street.
  • These guys also do all natural sourdough bread, and they have lots of SPELT flour sourdough breads, which is pretty cool
  • They have some awesome take-out sandwiches...or you can stay in and enjoy a coffee and a delicious vegan ginger blueberry spelt muffin or some toast made with your choice of bread.
  • There are many vegan goodies to choose from (just ask) & I've been told that their absolutely stunning vegan chocolate cake is to die for.
  • The granola they make is also super yum, with all turkish apricots, hazelnuts, and orange zest

Fol Epi
http://folepi.ca/

  • A really neat gem tucked away in Esquimalt
  • Awesome design, and delicious organic bread (well, the one time I've tried it - I should go back soon!).
  • They make some really good looking treats too - like macarons, & individual pastries and tarts.
  • I've heard they make really great pizza too!

Ingredients & Groceries

Ingredients Health Food & Apple Cafe
http://ingredientshealthfood.com/

  • I stumbled into this place my mistake one time, and sure am happy about it! It's right downtown along the water on Store street, and is the bulk store of your dreams, combined with a cute cafe and a space where people can teach small groups classes
  • The prices here are some of the best I've seen in the city!

Niagara Grocery
http://getfreshwithalocal.com/

  • On Niagara street (you guessed it), in James bay.
  • This was another lucky find on a walk a few months back.
  • They have a great selection of everything: natural pickles, tofu, beans, organic veggies, nut/seed butters, jams/honey, milk alternatives, they carry Wildfire Bakery bread and other good breads, local ice creams, local vegan goodies, and plenty of organic chocolate, coffee and tea.
  • They also have a coffeebar, and a few tables.

Local Neighbourhood Markets

  • There are so many Markets here, it's a huge delight.
  • In the summer & fall, I was visiting Moss Street Market every Saturday, and stocking up on GREAT veggies!
  • There are markets all throughout the city, such as one in James Bay, Bastion Square...seriously, all over :)

Sakura

  • Same place as listed above...they also have a small grocery store attached where you can buy natto, soba, green tea, seaweed, organic miso, and other Japanese items!

The Market on Yates
http://www.themarketstores.com/

  • This grocery store has a surprisingly large selection of everything...you just need to dig a bit to find everything amongst regular items.
  • You can find ume products, seaweed, and a large selection of tofu here.
  • Also, there is a great coffee / tea section, along with lots of local chocolate.
  • They also have a pretty good bulk selection, and many organic fruits and veggies.

Ottavio
http://www.ottaviovictoria.com/

  • This is an amazing Italian market / cafe in Oak Bay.
  • If you're from Edmonton and love/miss the Italian Centre...this is the closest I have yet to find something similar, here in Victoria.
  • This would be the place for anything like olives, goat cheeses, olive oil, good quality pasta, chesnuts!!!, dried mushrooms etc.
  • They also sell one of my favourite brands of tea: Kusmi tea.

Places On My Radar That I Plan to Check Out:

Futaba
http://www.futaba.ca/main.html

  • This Japanese restaurant supposedly offers brown rice sushi, and gets great reviews

Victoria Public Market
http://victoriapublicmarket.com/

  • This public market at the Hudson, is relatively new, as far as I understand, and is inspired by the year-long indoor market at Granville Island in Vancouver
  • I can't wait to check out the regular vendors, for veggies and other fantastic products.

Fuji ya
http://www.fujiya.ca/aboutFujiya/fujiyastores/victoria.asp

  • I was recommended to check here for many Japanese ingredients I have been searching for :)

 

***And also some places very worth noting that I plan to get some of photos of next time and do a write up for are: Soltice Cafe & Bliss Cafe <3

Any and all recommendations are much appreciated!

To your delicious dining when you visit this haven known as Victoria,
xo Jess



 

 

Life & Things & Stuff

On this lovely Macro Monday, I decided to simply do a long overdue post about how things are going here in Victoria, and the things I'm really happy about (because I didn't cook or bake anything new or exciting this week,  and also wanted a break from information dense posts).

I could talk to you endlessly about how much I love the ocean, whether it's sunny or foggy, stormy or calm, but words will not suffice. I could also tell you how excited I get by the giant squirrels, hummingbirds, and sea-creatures. Or how much I love it when it's so foggy, and it happens so quickly that I can actually watch it moving down my block. And I've already mentioned the amazing Jess-friendly restaurants and bakeries. But I thought instead, that I'd mention some more random things, that I perhaps haven't talked about before.

Things I'm Loving About Life in Victoria:

1. Markets, markets, markets! This little piggy went to market... :)

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So many fresh veggies & fruits, flowers, good bread, olives, sprouts, pottery, art, you name it. I'm in market heaven, pretty much everyday. Until this last week (as I missed the market on Saturday), I have had the good fortune of buying all my produce from markets. So tasty, and fun!

2. Vines & Plants & Flowers all over buildings <3

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This makes for beeeeeeeauuuutiful walks.

3. My new wheels.

I'd love this bicycle no matter where I was living, but being able to ride for hours with the ocean beside me the whole time is a pretty amazing feeling. 

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4. Japanese Food

The most delicious Japanese food I've had since I was in Japan, is here in Victoria, hands down. There are so many places to choose from (but Sen Zushi is the best!) and the menu options are the most like Japan I've experienced, outside of being in Japan. 

Brown rice veggie rolls. 

Brown rice veggie rolls. 

Natto Udon :) And the noodles were imported from the prefecture I lived in for 2 years.

Natto Udon :) And the noodles were imported from the prefecture I lived in for 2 years.

5. Stationery Heaven

If you're like me, you'll understand that September/Autumn means new stationery (and time for scarves and boots). Just like with the food, I have been able to find the nicest stationery supplies I've seen, since I was in Japan. T & I both missed the beautiful pens, paper & notebooks that were everywhere in Japan. But now we're doing okay :)  {sorry for all the Japan crushing, but it is such an amazing country, and T & I both get homesick for it at least a few times every year}.

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6. Halloween Spirit.

Okay, so I'm not a huge Halloween fan. I mean, I definitely have no problem with it, and enjoy it somewhat, but I'm not one of those people who goes nuts for it. But apparently lots of people here are, and it is pretty fun. I've had some interesting discoveries on walks, and this is the best one so far: 

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I think I'll leave it at that for now. I'll do another one later down the road :)

Have a great week everyone!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Macro Monday: All About Winter Squash

If you know me, you know I love pumpkin. And Kabocha. And pretty much all winter squash. I find them to be THE single most comforting whole food (other than oats, perhaps) out there. They are sweet & decadent and pair so well with cinnamon & nutmeg, but also taste great when made with savory spices, or dipped into a delicious tahini-lemon dressing. You can roast, steam, and mash them. Squash tastes amazing spread onto sandwiches, served with wholegrains, and cooked into soups and stews. Winter squash is very health-giving & nourishing during the cooler seasons, and every year around this time I start to crave it.

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In honour of the Autumn Equinox yesterday, on this Macrobiotic Monday, let's focus on everything to do with Winter Squash, including a recipe for my favourite way to cook it!

Different Kinds of Winter Squash:

  • Butternut - beige colour, and they come in many fun interesting shapes. A sweet, slightly dense squash.
  • Acorn - dark green skin, and shaped like an acorn (they have ridges). They are a bit watery and less dense.
  • Red Kuri - bright red and orange *look for a photo below
  • Kabocha - dark green with some orangey patches, and a sort of squashed-round shape. Very dense & sweet. *look for photo below
  • Pumpkins (and all other pie-making variety of pumpkins) - there are too many varieties of these big orange guys to count. You know the ones :)
  • Buttercup - like kabocha in colouring, but generally a bit more square-ish shaped, with higher edges with kind of a ridge. Similar to kabocha, but a bit more watery
  • Spaghetti Squash - large round & oval in shape, yellow in colour. Once it's cooked when you scrape the flesh, it comes off in strings like spaghetti. 

How to Choose a Good Squash

There might be nothing more disappointing than selecting what looks like a beauty of a squash at the store, and then getting home, cutting it open, and finding out that it's super watery or very light coloured on the inside with a spongy texture. Boo! 

Here's how to avoid this catastrophe: 

  • Get up close & personal with the squashes: pick them up, and feel their weight (I transfer them back and forth between my hands to get an idea of how much they weight). The heavier the better.  If you have 2 equally sized squashes, choose the heavier one. Always.  If a squash seems too light for it's size, place it back in the bin and keep looking. 
  • Smell your squash: if you get a whiff of mold, place it back. 
  • If you can, choose a squash with it's stem still in place

Best Places to Buy Squash

Kabocha &amp; Red Kuri Squash from the Pumpkin Guys on Moss Street

Kabocha & Red Kuri Squash from the Pumpkin Guys on Moss Street

My favourite place to buy squash is at markets or food stands. I find that the grocery store winter squashes are often hit or miss...and recently, they've been more of a miss (often moldy). Local farmers & gardeners have the best selection, and high quality.

This Saturday I was lucky enough to come across Winter Squash heaven. A beautiful table and buckets filled with all kinds of squashes, and a super cute sign at the end of the block. If you're in Victoria, I recommend checking out the Pumpkin Guys on Moss Street (between McKenzie & Fairfield Rd)! They'll be there every Saturday until the end of October!

If you look close, you can see a few ladies checking out the pumpkins halfway up the block :)&nbsp;

If you look close, you can see a few ladies checking out the pumpkins halfway up the block :) 

How to Cook Winter Squash

 Steamed

  • Wash & Scrub the outside of the squash
  • cut in half vertically  
  • Scrape out insides
  • peel if you like, then cut into 1" chunks
  • Place in a vegetable steamer over water, and steam for 7-10 minutes

Boiled 

  • Wash & scrub the outside of the squash
  • Peel & cut in half  
  • scoop out all the seeds and insides
  • dice into chunks
  • place in a pan with water and boil away until nice and soft (you can start with not so much water, and just add more as necessary) 
  • { you can boil spaghetti squash whole: pierce a few holes before with a knife on all sides before boiling. Boil for about 30 minutes in a large pot. Be very careful when removing from the pot - it will be really hot and will release steam when you cut it open}

Mashed 

  • Wash & Scrub the squash
  • Either boil, steam or bake the squash
  • Scoop out the cooked flesh, and using a potato masher, or a good fork, place in a bowl and mash away
  • Add in good quality oil and seasonings of choice. For savory I recommend some herbal sea salt, or perhaps some rosemary and sea salt. For a sweet treat, add in some maple syrup or honey and some cinnamon & nutmeg. 

 Roasted Squash Fries

  • Set oven to 400F
  • Wash & Scrub the squash
  • cut into half vertically, and scoop out the insides
  • Slice into 1/2" thick crescent moons (my fav), or sticks (like fries) or peel & dice  
  • Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and seasonings (i.e., rosemary, herbal salt, sage)  or if you prefer the sweet variety: your liquid sweetener of choice, some cinnamon & nutmeg
  • Spread out on a cookie sheet or baking dish and bake for 35-40 mins. 
  • *My favourite is to make this variety savory, using butternut squash. They make delicious fries! 

 ***My Favourite way: Steam Baked  (see directions below)

How to Bake A Squash Dainty Pig Style

  • Set oven to 350F
  • Wash/ scrub your squash
  • Cut it in half vertically
  • Scrape out all the seeds/guts with a sturdy spoon
Halved &amp; insides scooped out Red Kuri Squash, ready for the oven. 

Halved & insides scooped out Red Kuri Squash, ready for the oven. 

  • Rub a bit of sea salt on the flesh, with your fingers {optional, but for a delicious and richer taste, rub a bit of sesame or olive oil onto the flesh first, then rub in the salt}
  • Place halves flesh side down in a pyrex dish
  • Add in about 1" of water, making sure it goes inside the squash halves too (sometimes it can form a seal with the glass)
  • Bake for 30 minutes (optional, you can cover the whole squash & pan with foil)
  • Carefully take pan out, holding onto squash with oven mitts (it's hot!!), pour out the water
  • Flip the squash over, so they now rest flesh side up
  • Put them back in and bake for another 20-30 minutes uncovered
  • Remove from oven, and carefully slice or cut into chunks. Devour!
Red Kuri Squash Ready to Eat - from the Moss Street Pumpkin Guys {it was outta-this-world delicious, some of the best squash ever btw}

Red Kuri Squash Ready to Eat - from the Moss Street Pumpkin Guys {it was outta-this-world delicious, some of the best squash ever btw}

Leftover cooked squash can be frozen, or put into the refrigerator. One of my favourite things it to use the leftovers to make a pudding (puree it, add in some cinnamon and a tiny bit of sweetener), or to cook into my oatmeal.

Some Dainty Pig Recipes That Use Squash:

*And a fun fact about winter squash: You can eat the skin on most of them - I have, with kabocha, butternut & red kuri squash. It is full of good things for you, and has a nice texture. Just make sure you don't eat the parts of the skin that have some of those bumpy markings.

We enjoyed our red kuri squash with a big salad full of fresh market vegetables, and the most delicious baguette I have ever tasted in my life, dipped in some olive oil. So good :)

What's your favourite way to eat squash?? 

Happy Autumn Everyone! xoxo