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Top 5 Winter Canadian Foods You Must Try

 

Everyone has a favourite thing about winter. Even if your favourite thing is when it ends. But, even if the leaving of winter is what sparks joy in your heart, chances are you have another favourite part of winter… comfort food!

 

Warm, fragrant, comforting dishes, often with crispy golden crusts, melty cheese, aromatic spices, or sticky sweetness are one of the best parts of winter. Even better if you can enjoy it with people you love, or snuggled up on the couch with cozy socks and a whole lot of Netflix.

Here are the best Canadian Comfort Food Dishes to Get You Through the Winter

So without further ado, here are 5 foods to eat in a Canadian winter that’ll warm your heart, comfort your soul, or even bring loved ones together:

 

  • Swedish meatballs

    Swedish Meatballs

    Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

    Winters are typically cold, dry and dark in Sweden, but the Swedes are known for embracing the season by enjoying outdoor activities, chilly walks, and even commuting by bike year round. There is even a Swedish saying that “there is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes.” So they bundle up and head outdoors! But, they also fully embrace the coziness of being indoors on a frosty evening. While this is obviously not a Canadian dish, it’s one Canadians should really embrace… beyond the infinite walls of Ikea.

    Swedish meatballs are hearty, comforting and even a bit festive with a hint of allspice and nutmeg. Paired with a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce, it almost feels like Christmas dinner.

    The Recipe Critic has a fantastic, heartwarming recipe for Swedish meatballs. Although making meatballs from scratch instead of using frozen can be time consuming, these are totally worth it. You can even make them in large batches and freeze, then make the gravy on the day you plan to serve them.

    If you want to make a vegetarian (though not vegan) version, add a pinch of allspice to cooked or canned lentils, then make just the gravy for the meatballs and add in the lentils. Add a diced carrot and a few handfuls of fresh or frozen kale, simmer slowly until carrots are tender and serve over creamy mashed potatoes. Yum!


  • Butter tarts

    These classic Canadian cups of decadence are to die for with a cup of coffee or milky tea, or dare we say… a little spiced nog? Despite the name, they don’t have a whole lot of butter in the tart filling (plenty in the pastry though), but they do have a buttery, caramel-y yumminess that just seems to melt in your mouth.

    Adding chopped pecans to the filling is AMAZING. Raisins are optional, and if pecans are too pricey, chopped walnuts are great as well. Some recipes suggest chocolate chips, but as far as we’re concerned, that’s a big no-no. It just makes them overly sweet. So, if nut allergies are a concern, just leave out the nuts altogether. Sans nuts they’re still delicious and if you aren’t used to that nutty flavour, you probably won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

    The Food Network has a great roundup of 26 butter tart recipes with a few unique takes including butter tart squares, pinwheels, cheesecake (totally non-traditional, but very yum), bacon butter tarts (intriguing) and more.

    butter tart

    Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


  • French Canadian baked beans

    Not to be confused with Boston baked beans! Which are also good, but nothing beats slow cooked baked beans flavoured with maple syrup, thick sliced bacon (or not, for a veg version), molasses and brown sugar. Even better, beans are insanely nutritious, wallet-friendly, and as a cultivated crop they have a pretty low carbon footprint. What’s not to love?

    Traditionally, baked beans were simmered with chunks of fatty, salted pork to add flavour and much needed calories in those early days of our country’s colonization when food was about survival. Today, you can skip the pork without skipping on flavour. Just be sure to keep the maple syrup and molasses to get that hearty flavour unique to the French Canadian style of baked beans.

    Now, if you’ve had canned baked beans and you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well, trust us when we say they just don’t hold a slow cooking candle to homemade!

    This is a great recipe to try that includes a dash of worcestershire sauce to give a delicious depth of flavour. These are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, are amazing as a side to fried eggs, baked ham, tourtiere or even sauteed greens. They reheat amazingly and even freeze well. Enjoy!

    Baked Beans in Canada

    Photo by Jacob Stone on Unsplash


  • Beaver Tails

    Beaver Tails

    Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B45QBo_gPfq/

     This is the quintessential treat to eat outdoors (always outdoors!) during Canadian winters. If you’ve never had one, what it is is fried dough (roughly in the shape of a beaver’s tail) that’s been dipped in cinnamon sugar. Kind of like a fresh, flat doughnut, Beaver Tails have a crispy outside with a soft, doughy inside. Although they are fried, because they’re fried at a high heat, they aren’t super greasy. Instead, the light frying melts with the cinnamon sugar when you bite into it for pure deliciousness. But it’s not all crispy fried dough and sugary yums. Beaver Tails are classically made with whole wheat flour. So.. you know… fibre!

    There are now several permanent Beaver Tail kiosks around Montreal, but the very best are the pop up stands and food trucks you’ll often find around winter carnivals and skating rinks. On a crisp, cool afternoon, nothing beats grabbing a Beaver Tail along de la Commune in the Old Port and taking a tasty stroll through the old city. For a truly Canadian experience, grab your skates (or rent when you get there) and take yourself to Ottawa to skate along the Rideau while enjoying your Beaver Tail.

    Although getting Beaver Tails to-go is the classic way to enjoy them, if you have a deep fryer at home, you can also try making them yourself!

 


  • Indigenous Foods


    No winter table in Canada should be considered complete without honouring the indigenous people of this land who have known for thousands of years how to thrive during our harsh winters. Indigenous recipes have slowly been working their way into the mainstream spotlight and there is so much deliciousness and powerful history to discover within them.

    From caribou stew and bannock, to three sisters soup and wild rice with mushrooms, winter can be filled with warmth, comfort and discovery.

    Check out these recipes from the CBC for salmon with garlic and sage, wild rice stuffing, and apple, cranberry and wild sage crisp. Make a hearty three sisters soup and share the beautiful story and message of growing together with your family. Or try wild blueberry scones and invite a few close friends for coffee and a catch up.

     


What’s your favourite typically Canadian dish for winter? Please share it in the comments! Recipes are more than welcome ;-)

Looking to go to the outdoors this winter, make sure to check out Best winter shoes brands in Canada and the best winter jackets to keep you warm in a Canadian Winter.

Also here is some general advice on how to dress for winters in Canada.

Café Aunja

Spotlight: Café Aunja – A welcoming experience in the heart of downtown

 

Located on Sherbrooke between Bishop and Mackay, Café Aunja is a unique and welcoming spot to grab coffee or tea and a quick bite, or to spend a relaxing afternoon working, studying or spending time with good friends.

 

As an Iranian café and tea house, Aunja offers the coffee and coffee beverages you’d expect in most cafes, as well as a unique selection of fragrant teas and cold drinks. 

 

For cold drinks, the hibiscus sharbat made with hibiscus syrup and basil seeds is an absolute delight, and the homemade lemonade with fresh mint is so refreshing. If you want something a little more decadent, you can’t miss the persian fog – black tea with milk, saffron syrup and pistachio. 

 

For something hot to welcome the cold weather, try a pot of tea latte – spiced black tea with milk and vanilla. Or try the borage valerian with persian borage, valerian, dried lime and rock candy. The ginger tea is served with fresh thyme and honey and the mint jujube just has to be experienced for yourself.

 

You can also opt for an expertly made filtered coffee, kick things up a notch with the black eye – a double shot of espresso blended with filtered coffee – or try Aunja’s version of a london fog which includes a hint of lavender.

 

And for food? If you go for breakfast, you’ll love the barbari bread served with every plate – a thick and hearty Iranian flatbread. We loved the traditional Iranian brunch that features walnuts, feta cheese, thick wedges of warm bread and homemade jam. For lunch, there are a variety of filling and healthy sandwiches to choose from, as well as a daily soup. There are several vegetarian options on the menu and everything is made fresh and deliciously.

 

What we really enjoyed was how welcoming the cafe felt, and how every dish and beverage looked like a work of art. With the heavenly scent of spices and beautifully decorated atmosphere, we truly felt relaxed and could easily see spending a morning or afternoon working here.

 

Café Aunja is located at 1448 Sherbrooke West, a stone’s throw from the Museum of Fine Arts, and has free wifi for customers.

Montreal-Based Coach is Shaking Up Teams

Montreal Team Performance Coaching

The following is an interview between MontrealTips and Melissa Dawn, founder of CEO of Your Life. Melissa is a Montreal-based Leadership and Team Performance Coach. She works with individuals, teams and organizations to help them uncover their unique strengths and values and harness that innate power to take themselves to the next level. Her CEO of Your Life Coaching organization was recently named one of Hubspot’s top coaching services.


MTLTips: It’s great to have you with us today, Melissa!

Melissa Dawn: Thanks! It’s really great to be here.

What does a team Performance Coach do?

MTLTips: Now, you are a Leadership Coach, which I think many people are familiar with, but you’re also a Team Performance Coach and I think that’s new to a lot of people. Can you tell us what that means?

Melissa Dawn: So, to understand Team Performance Coaching, the first thing to understand is that teams – and in terms of my coaching I’m talking about business and corporate teams of all sizes, levels and industries – each team functions as a system. That system has its own values, strengths, challenges and unwritten rules that govern everything from how the team approaches problems, to how they view management, to how they interact with clients, and so on. The system is powerful and often the people within the system and those around them are not even fully aware of that system.

 

MTLTips: If they aren’t aware… I mean, when you say “system” are you not talking about documented processes or culture?

Melissa Dawn: Culture, yes, but “documented”, rarely. Or at least not entirely, and the undocumented aspects tend to be the most powerful. So what I mean by “system” is this almost living, breathing organism that evolves out of the combination of different personalities, the leadership styles and approaches, the overall working environment, the history of the team, how it came to be, how it fits into the organizational ecosystem, the challenges it faces now or has faced in the past… all of these elements come together to create the team system. So, what the team has encountered in the past, for example, is going to impact how they approach obstacles in the present, whether or not that approach is documented as an official process. 

MTLTips: In the articles you’ve published and on your website, you talk a lot about getting to the core, or the root of the team to solve problems. How does that work in relation to this system concept?

Melissa Dawn: When clients come to me they’re almost always in a sort of stuck feeling, or they feel like they’re running up against the same challenges over and over again. They want to move forward, but every new process they put in place or approach they try keeps butting up against the same issues and the status quo is maintained. Whatever those issues may be – lack of engagement, conflict within the team, people just not wanting to try new things, goals or objectives not clearly communicated or understood, negativity, lack of motivation… when you continually get held back by the same issue or assortment of issues, it actually comes down to the system. This is a characteristic of the system that has been learned and has grown with the team. It’s a part of the team. In this case, the issue can’t be fixed with a new process. We have to get to the root of how it’s thriving so we can cut off that negativity and grow the team in a stronger direction.

 

MTLTips: That makes a lot of sense, but also… what does that look like? What’s that process? I’m imagining group therapy sessions or something! (laughs)

Melissa Dawn: (laughs) Not quite, but there certainly is a level of introspection that takes place. Believe it or not, there are quantitative assessments involved. I really do believe that what gets measured, gets managed. That’s a fundamental aspect of Team Performance Coaching. The assessments I use have been designed and perfected over the years by top coaches, business leaders, coaching institutions and yes, even some input from therapists. We have to remember that, ultimately, we’re working with humans. Human emotions, human drives, human instincts. So there is a great deal of compassion involved in the process, but also, these assessments that take real measurements of the current status of the team – elements like productivity, engagement, employee satisfaction, leadership effectiveness, collaboration, etc. – these assessments are what start the deep dive into the coaching process. They give a clear picture of the current team system and a benchmark from which to measure progress. From there, we identify the main challenges of the team but, most importantly, we identify the unique strengths – strengths of the team itself and strengths of the individual members. These strengths give us something to grow from.

Growth in Team Performance

 

MTLTips: That’s the second time you’ve used the word “grow”. I take it growth is a big part of this process?

Melissa Dawn: A huge part! However the team functions today, it grew that way because certain things were fed – ideas, beliefs, habits, etc. Just as negative elements can be fueled and grown, positive elements can, too. So, a key aspect of Team Performance Coaching is identifying those amazing opportunities for growth. It’s not just about getting rid of the negativity or the undesirable habits. It’s about feeding the strengths of the team so that the best parts of the team become stronger, confidence and engagement grow, and collaboration and creative problem solving become a natural part of the evolving team system. Now, a lot of teams struggle with motivation. What motivates people more than seeing the best parts of themselves or their teams grow even stronger? We focus on growing these strengths because that’s where the greatest value lies, but also because it fuels motivation, engagement and productivity like nothing else.

 

MTLTips: That sounds amazing and inspirational almost, but how do you actually get people to do this? You mentioned before people not wanting to try new things. This all sounds… very new! Won’t people just sink back into old habits?

MD: There has to be a desire to change, for sure. But it doesn’t have to be big to start with. Another key element of Team Performance Coaching is guiding people to have the difficult conversations that need to be had. I think we can all relate to that. Those conversations that, if we were able to have them openly and without judgement, with everyone keeping their cool and speaking respectfully and compassionately, could really change things for the team and open up possibilities.

 

MTLTips: Oh yes, I can relate to that!

MD: But where do you even start, right? Like, how’s everyone going to react if I just open up this massive can of worms we’ve all been tiptoeing around?

MTLTips: Exactly!

Melissa Dawn: This is where the right coach can have a huge impact. Because having these conversations is not a skill most of us have. When it comes down to it, most of us just weren’t raised that way! We’re raised or conditioned in some way to avoid these conversations completely, but all that does is establish more and more bottlenecks. The right coach will help people learn techniques to approach and guide these conversations in a way that honours the human on the other side of the table, but also holds people accountable – not in a “this is your fault” way, but in a “let’s dig into this together” way. What I’ve found is that all you need is one person to take that first courageous step. One person to really embrace the techniques, embrace the mindset, embrace the challenge and step into it. When someone does that, it has this amazing domino effect! It’s like it suddenly gives other people permission to start speaking more openly and honestly. Really speaking from the heart.

MTLTips: So how does all of this impact performance? It’s called “Team Performance Coaching”, afterall. 

Melissa Dawn: When we think of a team system locked in negative or limiting habits, a lot of energy goes into that. Whether it’s trying to keep up appearances, to work around difficult personalities, avoiding speaking up, fear of change, conflict with other team members, lack of clarity on objectives… whatever it is, it takes a lot of energy from the people within your team. When a team can overcome those challenges and really start to grow its strengths, performance is just going to skyrocket. All of that energy previously wasted on unproductive areas can now be directed towards the real work of the team, and that’s working together to meet objectives, inspire innovation and overcome challenges. And, just as that one person taking that first step can have a domino effect on others, the team taking these steps together will have a domino effect on the overall organization. We mentioned culture earlier. This is about co-creating a culture of trust, respect and the courage to be open about things instead of letting them become roadblocks. When you can do that, either as a team, individual or an organization, performance just naturally reaches greater and greater heights. People feel good about what they’re doing and the environment they’re doing it in, they’re happier to be doing it, they feel challenged in the best way and they’re excited about what they can accomplish.

The Process of Team Performance Coaching

MTLTips: So this clearly isn’t something that happens overnight.

Melissa Dawn: No. This definitely takes dedication and perseverance, but the good news is that the first steps really start to open up your perspective. You start to see, right away, what’s possible and it’s an exciting thing, both on a personal and team level. And like I mentioned before, that’s quite powerful in terms of motivation. Those first steps fuel the next ones and so on. Now, I often give one-off workshops on this, which I really enjoy. It’s just amazing to see that ‘click’ in someone. That spark in their eye when they start to get it and get excited about their own potential. But what I really love is when I get to do either a full coaching program, or follow up coaching after a workshop because that’s when I get the opportunity to witness, and be an integral part of, real change. I’ve had a long career. Nearly two decades in different roles and industries in marketing and business development, including several years as VP of marketing. So I’ve experienced being a member of, or leading a variety of different teams. I know how a strong team can raise up a whole organization and I know how a struggling team can do the opposite. What’s truly exciting for me now is that I know how to help those that struggle and it’s so amazing to see the impact that has on the overall organization.

 

MTLTips: Well, I guess that leaves us with one final question… how can people work with you?

Melissa Dawn: That’s the easy part! All the information about the different workshops and coaching programs I offer is available on my website at ceoofyour.life. Most people use the contact form on my website to get more information or to ask about availability, but they can also reach me directly at [email protected]

 

MTLTips: Thank you very much, Melissa. It’s been great speaking with you and learning about Team Performance Coaching.

Melissa Dawn: Thank YOU! 

Marketing Program at Mcgill

Career Development: You Can’t Miss This McGill Certificate in Digital Content and Community Management!

 

Ready or not, here it… already is! Digital marketing is not the future. It’s the right now. It’s happening. We’re in it. Virtually every business can benefit from it and risks getting left behind (or already has) if they don’t catch up.

 

That’s great news for anyone looking to expand their career opportunities because adding digital marketing expertise to your CV is not that difficult. However, because we’re deep into the digital game, just knowing how to do it or being “really good at Instagram” isn’t always enough. Companies are looking for certifications. Genuine, professional training from reputable institutions.

 

Who’s teaching digital marketing? Well, McGill University for starters.

You can now get a Professional Development Certificate in Digital Content and Community Management from McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies.

 

This is a fantastic program to expand your opportunities, or if you own a business or lead a team and want to get your team members ramped up on digital marketing.

This program is designed to be accessible to students and professionals at a range of skill levels, even if you aren’t strong in marketing or digital. You don’t need 8+ years of marketing experience to understand the teachings, and you won’t need to be an expert in HTML either.

 

You do need a bachelor’s degree or at least two years of relevant work experience.

 

You also need to be ready to learn and ready to do the hands-on work to really build you skill set. After completing the certificate, you will understand how to:

 

  • Create and track digital content (blog posts, social media campaigns, newsletters, etc.)
  • Influence your company’s reputation and brand awareness
  • Influence public opinion and user/visitor behaviour 
  • Manage a corporate crisis online
  • Make measurable, data-driven marketing decisions
  • Create and read analytics reports
  • Build a successful online community

 

The courses are taught by knowledgeable professors as well as professionals with real world experience, including Montreal Tips own Tarek Riman.

 

How do you manage classes and a career? Professional development certificates are designed to be manageable on top of a full time job. Some of the course are in-class, but many are online so that you can attend from wherever you are.

 

Ready to ramp up your professional awesomeness? Check out the program here.

Ȋles-de-Boucherville: A family-friendly oasis 20 minutes from Montreal

 

Just a hop skip and a jump (a.k.a across the bridge) from Montreal’s bustling Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood is an island oasis you won’t believe is city-adjacent.

 

Parc National des Ȋles-de-Boucherville is a peaceful sanctuary of five small islands right in the middle of the Saint Lawrence known for its white tailed deer and kilometers of breathtaking nature trails, many which are bicycle-friendly, and some reserved exclusively for walking. 

We’ll get to the numerous activities available in a moment, but what makes Ȋles-de-Boucherville truly unique is that one of the islands – l’Ȋle Grosbois – is home to an archeological site and reconstructed Iroquoian village. The site is about a 45 minute hike, or 20 minute bike ride, from the main parking area, so plan for a trek, but it is well worth it.

 

Now, a lot of people visit the area to hike or bike, enjoy nature and have a peaceful picnic with (hopefully) some deer spotting. But there are actually a whole host of activities available year round including canoeing, kayaking, rabaska (those extra long canoes that fit 12-20 people), beach volleyball, standup paddling and more during the summer. In the winter, there is snowshoeing, skiing, kicksledding, winter hiking and even those awesome fatbikes that are designed for biking through snow or sand.

If you’re like many Montrealers, the thought of a tranquil lakeside vacation sounds like heaven. Battling traffic and hours of driving to get there… not so much. This is what makes Ȋles-de-Boucherville even better. There is a gorgeous, secluded campground where you can pitch your own tent, or reserve one of the ready-to-camp Huttopia tents. It’s riverside instead of lakeside, but if you spend most of the year alley-side… po-tay-to, po-tah-to, right? (Not really, but you know what we mean.) 

 

Do be aware that the campground is not accessible by car – only on foot or by bike – but that just adds to the tranquility of the place. No traffic noises!! You will also take a river shuttle to get there, which is about as charming as it gets.

If you’re bringing the family, Ȋles-de-Boucherville is incredibly family friendly. So, while you can’t bring everything your car can hold (since cars can’t get to the campsite), there are several necessities available on site including booster seats, highchairs, changing tables, strollers and trailers, playpens and even children’s dishes. Huttopia tents even come with microwaves. And everything for kids aged 17 and under is free.

 

If you’re the RV type of camper, there are a few RV spots available as well, but obviously in a different area. One that’s accessible not only by car, but by massive tenement on wheels.

 

Ready for an island escape? Check out the Ȋles-de-Boucherville site!