Monday, August 29, 2011

Quest Welcomes Clients to Grand Opening

As we approach the end of summer and we all begin to prepare ourselves for the fall, it has been my experience that there is a tendency for many of us to be filled with a sense of loss as we anticipate the onset of shorter days and rainy nights. Regardless of the inevitable weather shift, this upcoming fall is an exciting time here at Quest as we embark on a variety of new beginnings and exciting partnerships including the official grand opening of our new store at 611 East Hastings Street.

The staff at Quest are excited to have the opportunity to acknowledge the major gains that the opening of the new location signifies for both Quest as well as the community. Quest has invited several community partners to join us at the new location on August 31st in order to showcase the final result of our collaborative efforts.

The new store continues to promote Quest's underlining mantras of providing low-income communities with the means to access healthy and affordable food in an environment that promotes a culture of dignity and respect. Our clients may have, at times, had to receive food within a context that can be demeaning to service users. In our new location, there are large shelves stocked with grocery items like any other store, donated by the suppliers who help keep Quest providing food to those in need.There are coolers for dairy items, tables full of produce, freezers for proteins, as well as a shelves full of canned and dry good, vitamins, and other personal-hygiene products.

After 10am on August 31, 2011, all of our clients are invited to partake in coffee, tea and treats at the new store! We hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Peppers Will Put a Pep in Your Step

Another recipe post brought to you by Quest volunteer Kelsey.

For all of our blog followers out there who shop at our Dundas store location, I wanted to put the word out that we just received a shipment of fresh sweet red bell peppers that look so good they deserve their own blog post.

With their wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, sweet bell peppers are the adornment of the vegetable world with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior that comes in a wide array of vivid colors. However, their beauty is not only skin deep.

Bell peppers are packed with several nutrients. They are a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, betacarotene, and folic acid. Bell peppers also contain a large amount of phytochemicals that have exceptional antioxidant activity. Those phytochemicals include chlorogenic acid, zeaxanthin, and coumeric acid and additionally, when compared to the nutrient values of the different bell peppers, studies have shown that red bell peppers have significantly higher levels of nutrients than their green counterparts largely because they contain lycopene, which is a carotene that helps to protect against cancer and heart disease.

Need I say more? Red bell peppers are amazing! Below I have provided one of my own personal favourite recipes that I hope all of you try. It's tasty and easy to tailor to one’s ingredient availability and individual dietary needs. This recipe is bound to put a pep in your step!

Stuffed Peppers

• 6 bell peppers (any color you like, however we currently have an abundance of red ones)
• 1 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
• 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
• 2 teaspoons salt, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 1/2 pounds lean ground or chunked beef, turkey, chicken or tofu
• 1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice ( or try quinoa and up your nutritional value)
• shredded mild Cheddar cheese, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, optional
• Recipe for stuffed peppers serves 6.


Cut tops off peppers; remove seeds and membranes. Chop edible part of tops and set aside. Rinse peppers under cold water. Place peppers in a large pot; cover with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain peppers and set aside.
Heat olive oil and/or butter in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Sauté chopped pepper (from tops), chopped onion, and chopped celery for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, crushed garlic, oregano, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine egg with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir to blend; add ground meat or meat substitute of choice, cooked rice, and 1 cup of the tomato mixture. Mix well. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and place in a 3-quart baking dish. Pour remaining tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers. Bake at 350° for 55 to 65 minutes. If desired, top stuffed peppers with a little shredded Cheddar cheese just before peppers are done; broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lentils: Yummy and Environmentally Friendly

Here is another blog post from Quest volunteer Kathleen. Lentils are good for you and the environment too!

This is a good staple recipe that is very cheap to put together when you are
trying to stretch your dollars. Lentils are not only tasty and nutritious, but also
quicker and easier to prepare than other dried beans, because they don’t require
pre-soaking. Lentils are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps to lower
cholesterol and stabilize blood sugars. Lentils also provide a good source of
molybdenum, folate, iron, protein, thiamin, and potassium.
This recipe is good eaten as-is, but I often spice it up with any vegetables I have
in my crisper and more or less curry depending on my mood. Suggestions: carrot, celery, pepper, potato, yam, etc. It is also delicious with a spoonful or two of plain yogurt.

Indian Rice with Lentils

1 tbsp. butter (or vegetable oil)
2 ½ cups onions
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups quartered mushrooms
(or 1-2 small canned mushrooms)
1 cup rice
1 cup dry green lentils
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. curry
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 cloves garlic
fresh or dried parsley (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Melt butter and cook onions until tender and slightly browned.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine stock, mushrooms, rice, lentils, ginger,
curry, cinnamon and garlic. Bring to a boil and cover.
3. Simmer for 25 minutes (check to make sure lentils are done).
4. Stir in parsley and salt & pepper.
5. Top each dish with sautéed onions when serving.
6. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Up for a Sustainable Challenge?

This post has been brought to you by Quest volunteer Kelsey. Another good one!

August is an exciting month here in the Lower Mainland. The sun is finally shining and the city has a stack of outdoor activities, events and other awesome opportunities for people to get outside, and connect with their communities. We at Quest encourage you to get out there and enjoy it! Summer has been predicted to be short and sweet so there is no time to waste.

What better way to make use of what summer has to offer than by taking advantage of the wide variety of fresh local produce in BC? Now is the time when summer fruit and harvest vegetables forge together to create an abundance of local food. Subsequently what better time to commit to eating locally! If you are looking for an event that can help you do just that we encourage you to check out and participate in the Growing Chefs: Eat Local Challenge on August 14th to 20th. This fundraising event is hosted by one of our favorite community partners, the Growing Chefs Project, and has been put together in order to reach their goal of raising $4,000 to support their upcoming Growing Chefs Classroom Gardening Projects in classrooms in the fall.

Growing Chefs is a classroom gardening project with the goal of providing children and youth in our community with the opportunity to grow, cook, and eat their own food. The program aims to promote a culture of food sustainability through incorporating urban agriculture projects into the classroom while encouraging awareness amongst urban children and youth.

The challenge asks participants to commit to eating locally from August 14th to the 20th in a way that they consider to be “do-able” and conducive to their lifestyle (although the 100 Mile diet is recommended, it is not mandatory). The challenge asks participants to encourage their family, friends, and colleagues to support their efforts through pledging a donation on their online profile. However it should be noted that although participants are encouraged to fundraise it is not necessary in order to participate. A pledge of one dollar spreading the word about the program as well as the larger underlining focus of food sustainability is all you need to take part in this exciting event.

If you or someone you know are interested in participating in this fundraising event, check out the Growing Chefs: Going Local website. So get a head start and register online today!