Recently, I had the privilege of joining up with Canola Eat Well for their “I Heart Canola Farmers” Farm Tour to learn all about the benefits of Canola oil as well as discovery some amazing local farms. And being the first official day of Fall, it was the perfect timing for such an adventure!
Taking a short bus ride from downtown Toronto up to Applewood Farms in Stouffville, we started the day by doing some apple picking! Honeycrisp were in season and ripe for the picking. There is just something so magical about Fall and going to pick apples!
The grounds there are beautiful and complete for a family day outing with some barn animals, play structures and of course, APPLES! They also have their own winery onsite where they sell an assortment of fruit wines and spreads, which is the perfect way to end off the day (for the adults).
We hopped back onto the bus and headed to South Pond Farms in Pontypool (about an hour northeast of Toronto). While we driving there, we had a chance to learn more about Canola and how it’s farmed directly from a Canadian farmer Will Bergmann. It’s so interesting to learn about the process of farming: knowing not only where our food comes from, but hearing the stories from the farmers themselves.
Once at South Pond, it’s easy to forget about the rest of the world and try to soak up every minute of tranquility in this gorgeous setting. Owner Danielle is such a delightful person and had a lovely spread of fresh cut flowers from her garden for us to make our own flower arrangements to take home!
After flower arranging came the best part: EATING! We were joined by Mairlyn Smith, cookbook author and professional home economist, who actually prepared and set up a picnic for all us to partake in! This was truly the highlight of the day for me, as we were able to TASTE the incredible recipes that can be made using canola oil, while sitting against this gorgeous backdrop of nature. And pairing this amazing feast with wines from Del Gatto made for the perfect afternoon picnic!
All of the food that Mairlyn prepared for us are in her new cookbook “Homegrown” which celebrates Canadian Foods that are grown, raised and produce right here in Canada. Not only that, but everything we had that day was made with canola oil. To be totally honest, I didn’t know a ton about canola oil, so it was really great to learn about all the benefits cooking with canola can have. It’s a good source of vitamins E and K as well as it’s packed with omega 3 fats, which can help protect again heart attack and stroke. Did you also know that it has half the saturated fats of olive oil?! It’s also fantastic for baking because it doesn’t have an overwhelming powerful taste and perfect for cooking because of it’s high smoke point!
While all of the food was absolutely amazing that we tried, there was one item that stood out for me, that I still think about to this day! It’s the SALAD DRESSING! There’s only been one other salad dressing in my life that has affected my life in such a way (I’ll share that one with you another time). But seriously, this dressing was TO DIE FOR! So with Mairlyn’s permission, I’m going to share it with you!
- 1 tbsp Canola Oil
- 1 tbsp Ice Syrup
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- Whisk together the soil, ice syrup, vinegar, mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Store dressing in fridge for 4 to 7 days.
- Excerpted from Homegrown, Celebrating the Canadian foods we grow, raise and produce by Mairlyn Smith PHEc with recipes from the Ontario Home Economics Association Reprinted with permission of Whitecap Books, 2015.
There are so many other phenomenal recipes in this cookbook that it’s really worth getting and learning more about cooking with Canadian foods! It’s even been shortlisted for a Taste Canada Award!
The final activity of the day came when we did the “Canola Crush.” This is a process that the farmers use to tell the quality of the harvest. Out of 100 seeds, you want less than two green seeds. Green seeds means that the seeds are immature and therefore won’t yield as good a harvest. By using a roller, you are able to crush the seeds and examine the insides of each seed to see how many are yellow and how many are green!
It was such a fun day, getting to not only meet some amazing people but learning about an oil that I never really knew much about. Not only is Canola Oil such a versatile and healthy oil, it makes me proud that it is a Canadian product that we can all enjoy, for generations to come!
Note: All pictures courtesy of Jeffrey Chan Photography.