Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Daily Shop

Here's another installment of "What did Amy buy with her $13 volunteer voucher today?"
  • 4 hefty celery bunches
  • 8 green bell peppers
  • An enormous bag of baby carrots
  • 3 yellow zucchini
  • A box of hummus
  • A package of sfogliatine, a tasty Italian puff pastry
  • A loaf of raisin-cinnamon swirl bread
  • A loaf of Irish soda bread
  • A bottle of ranch dressing

To note, all of these items actually fell a bit short of $13. My rabbits will be pleased with all of the vegetables I was able to secure for them, but since I also discovered some ranch dressing, I figure they won't mind if I borrow some celery, carrots, and green bell peppers for some healthy snacking this week. The hummus would definitely go well with the above, too.

Other items in-store today which I could have easily picked up instead included some nutrient-rich fennel, lots of honey mandarin oranges and baby Brussels sprouts, bags of bread flour, bananas, many packages of medium-smooth tofu, huge bags of spinach and iceberg lettuce, and a delicious-looking trifle dessert (which I did my best to stay away from, hence, the sfogliatine).

Don't know what to do with some of the produce you can find in-store? Here are a few recipe ideas:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Comfort Food Recipes

Aromatic Veggie Chowder


2 tbsp Cooking oil
1 litre Sweet corn soup
1 Small head of cauliflower
1 Small head of cabbage
1/2 Red onion or fresh fennel
1 Medium white onion
2 tbsp Tarragon
4 cloves of Chopped garlic
3 tbsp Hummus mix
1 Bay leaf
1/4 tsp Caraway seed
1/4 tsp Cumin
1 Lime, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

(Serves 3-4 adults as a meal)


1. Core and chop cauliflower and cabbage
2. Dice onions and garlic
3. Saute above ingredients until slightly browned
4. Add cumin, salt, sage, and caraway
5. Reduce heat and add corn soup, bay leaf, tarragon and pepper. Simmer for 1/2 hour with the lid on
6. Add hummus mix and be sure to mix well
7. Add lime juice and simmer for 5 minutes
8. Serve!


Beet Soup


1 litre Veggie stock
2 tbsp Cooking oil
6 Medium beets
1 Small head of cabbage
1 Medium onion
2 tbsp Dill
4 cloves of Chopped garlic
1 head of Chopped fresh fennel
1/2 tsp Salt and pepper


1. Heat oil on medium heat
2. Peel and chop beets into half-inch pieces
3. Chop onions, cabbage, garlic, and fennel
4. Saute all vegetables
5. Reduce heat -- then add stock, salt, pepper
6. Simmer till beets are cooked
7. Add dill, and let stand for 5 minutes
8. Serve!

Other Notes

*Add sour cream if desired

Another Shopping Experience at Quest

Ever the delightful surprise when I do my volunteer voucher-shopping at Quest, last week I was able to pick out the following: a round of fresh Italian focaccia bread (can't wait to have it for dinner with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip); 2 generously-sized mangoes; 2 lovely celery bunches; seaweed ramen noodles; a bag each of chicken skewers and barbeque chicken wings; a Polish sausage roll; a bottle of ketchup; sour cream and onion rice chips as well as cheese pizza chips; cheddar cheese snack crackers; a carton of beef broth; and because breakfast hadn't quite filled me up, a passionfruit soda and a bag of apple-cream danishes for lunch.

When I did my shopping earlier in the week (I volunteer twice a week), items such as green peppers, carrots, bok choy, and bananas filled my shopping bag and provided me with a number of healthy lunches and dinners. Although I ended up with fewer produce items today, I feel there's absolutely no reason I can't enjoy a nice and nutritious dinner of chicken and whole wheat pasta (which I always have on hand) with focaccia bread to start. Yum.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shopping Experience at Quest

As a recent recruit to the Quest volunteer team, I feel constantly both thrilled and fortunate to be able to spend a $13 voucher in exchange for working a 4 hour shift. Shortly after taking photos of the day's produce at our 2020 Dundas Street location, I typically do my shopping. Today I was able to pick up the following with my total falling just short of $13: a French baguette, naan bread, and a package of 6 pizza shells; a package of rice crackers that I know for a fact are 3 times the price at my local grocery store; an head of cabbage; 5 bunches of dandelion greens which my rabbits will enjoy thoroughly; 2 hefty and healthy-looking celery bunches; some crispy kale; a bottle of marinated herbed garlic cloves; packages of firm and medium tofu; and 2 bottles of mango fruit smoothie.

Needless to say, I can deal with the ever-changing in-store supply - for instance, last week I was able to find some great cherry tomatoes, a 4 litre jug of milk, and Greek yogurt, items which I'd never seen in stock before - especially when my voucher allows me to feel much more comfortable about my own food situation and security, granting me that piece of mind which not surprisingly often comes with real and good food.

Amy Tran,
Quest Volunteer

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cam and Gardein

It was great meeting the staff from Garden Protein International, GPI, at our 2020 Dundas Street location on Friday January 29, 2011. They are very nice folks who really care about helping others. I’m glad they got a chance to work with their own products and to hear some feedback about how their products are helping people here at Quest.

During their time here I was able to explain how the Gardein products benefit Quest’s members. For example, I have often spoken with Quest members about the nutritional value of the Gardein brand protein burgers and how they are a lower cost, protein rich alternative to feed to their children. Many of these members were not aware of the product or the advantages to its use.

I was so impressed with the Garden Protein International staffs’ enthusiasm for their products and for helping Quest members and staff understand their products. I look forward to the ongoing positive relationship between Garden Protein International and Quest Food Exchange.

Cameron Imayoshi
Store Manager 2020/346
Quest Food Exchange

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gardein Protein International Employees Experience “Goodness Growing” at Quest

Several employees from Vancouver’s Gardein Protein International, makers of Gardein, had an opportunity to volunteer at Quest Food Exchange on Friday, January 28.

Here’s what they had to say about the experience:

“Volunteering at Quest was a great experience for all of us—especially me,” says Pamela Singh, logistics and warehouse administrator at Garden Protein International. “Working within Garden Protein’s logistics department, I assist with the regular pickups of our donated foods and see first-hand the local organizations we help in our community.”

“Having the opportunity to volunteer onsite at Quest was so inspiring. All of our volunteers witnessed how our foods benefit local citizens and experienced the hard work and effort that goes into ensuring people have access to quality food including meatless options from Gardein,” adds Pam.

At Garden Protein, we are committed to helping our community on many levels, including food donations and volunteering at organizations that truly make a difference in our community.

Our company “THANKS” all the members at Quest Outreach Society for their continued support and all the goodness they provide to the local Vancouver community.

Together, we’ll keep “goodness growing!”

The Psychology of Quest: A Shopping Experiment

As the food security project is beginning to get underway, trying to convince almost 400 social service agencies that it would be easy, healthy, very cost-effective and just plain smart for them and their clients to use Quest’s food programs, I thought I should really begin to see, and feel, how the programs work for myself. So, faced with the challenge of buying groceries for ourselves for a two week period with only $50 each, my co-intern, John-Michael, and I headed to the Quest low-cost grocery store to see if we could each honestly pass this test.

I have to admit that I had a few doubts quietly resting in the back of my mind as we walked through the door. I am a salmon eating vegan with a soy allergy and to top it off I’m a bit of an obsessed label reader; I’m always making sure that I am getting enough fibre, iron and protein without getting too much saturated fat or sugar. I am a sincere pain. However, once I began the shop-a-thon I realized that even I, with my confusing, picky and contradictory diet, could buy just about everything I buy in my regular weekly shop at a big grocery store chain. Here is what I achieved:

 3 lbs of salmon for $8.55
 8 pears $1.65
 8 apples $0.60
 5 tomatoes $1.18
 1 onion $.25
 1 large squash $1.40
 2 heads of cauliflower (I love it!) $1.20
 1 head of cabbage $.60
 1 head of lettuce $.60
 1 yellow pepper $.35
 2 containers of hummus $3
 Happy Planet juice (946 ml) $.75
 1 litre vegetable soup broth $.50
 Mustard (250ml) $.60
 Case (12) of 1 litre containers of organic sweet potato soup (deal of the day!) $4
 Porridge oats $1.75
 Bran Flakes cereal $2.10
 Oatmeal muffin mix $1
 Gypsy Love tea $1

 Seven grain bread $.80

…and the grand total is…. $30.88

Unbelievable! I could easily buy what I normally buy for about 80% cheaper! My resting doubts have definitely been ousted and absolute support and confidence in Quest’s programs have taken their place. Not only is the food inexpensive, but I felt happy during the experience and had a few laughs with other shoppers along the way too. If I can shop at the low-cost grocery store and find everything I need then everybody can.
Until next time!

Julie Petrynko
Marketing Representative Intern
Quest Food Exchange
Reducing Hunger with Dignity, Building Community, Saving the Environment.

We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat
can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.

-Adelle Davis (born February 25, 1904, was an American author and pioneer
nutritionist. She advocated whole unprocessed foods, criticized food additives, and claimed that dietary supplements and other nutrients play a dominant role in maintaining health, preventing disease, and restoring health after the onset of disease (wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelle_Davis).