Given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) and the continued spread of the virus, Rooks to Cooks is making changes to our policies and procedures and enhancing our current regulations to reduce the risk of spreading any illness. We know this can be an anxious time, but we are positioned to work together to stay calm and collected, to ensure all our chefs and participants stay healthy.
The good news is that our environment is already optimal for superior hygiene due to the nature of our program. We consistently impose the following standards in all of our camps:
All our staff members must hold a food handler’s certificate which is earned through extensive training in food sanitation, food handling and personal hygiene.
This training and knowledge is passed on to our students. At the start of all programs and throughout the programs these sanitation and safety standards are strictly enforced.
We strictly enforce participants to regularly wash their hands with soap and water and to cover their mouths and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Finally, our class sizes are small and the facilities we operate out of are low traffic areas, meaning the risk of exposure and spread of infection is very low compared to other facilities.
Our team will remain vigilant in following proper hygiene etiquette as is the current advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Additionally, we have updated our program procedures in response to the virus, as follows:
Before camp procedures will now include:
Thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all objects and surfaces that are regularly touched (door handles, elevator buttons, counters, etc.) before families arrive on site.
Hand sanitizer will be stationed outside the main doors for parents and campers to sanitize their hands upon arrival prior to sign in.
All staff will be instructed to stay at home if they are exhibiting symptoms or have recently travelled to high-risk countries.
Campers or staff who are feeling unwell with symptoms of a fever or a cold will not be permitted to participate.
During camp procedures will now include:
On top of our typical sanitation and safety demonstrations, we will initiate an intensive sanitation overview for the campers. This will include how to cough and sneeze into elbows and general personal hygiene skills to use in the Rooks to Cooks environment and beyond.
We will have non-contact thermometers on site to verify temperatures of campers and staff daily. In the case that campers have a high temperature or are exhibiting any symptoms, parents must be prepared to pick up their child from the program.
Hand washing will be strictly enforced among the campers and staff at all times. This will include asking campers to wash their hands every time they touch their face or any of their personal belongings.
All dining utensils, plates, bowls, etc. will be washed and disinfected in an industrial dishwasher after each use.
In lieu of handshakes and hugs, we will be encouraging elbow bumps or a friendly hello at all of our programs.
After camp procedures will now include:
Thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all objects and surfaces that people touch regularly prior to the start of any program. All door handles, elevator buttons, counters, etc. will be sanitized before leaving each day.
Once again, we want all our families to know that we are taking all appropriate measures to ensure our camp facilities are safe. The health and well-being of our campers and staff is our top priority. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will provide ongoing updates as required.
Please feel free to contact us if you have further questions.
We’re entering the final stretch of the summer camp season and our tummies are just about ready to explode – but we have no doubt that it was all worth it! As the famous saying goes – “there’s always room for dessert” – and that’s why we saved some of the best desserts for the last weeks of summer.
This week, our young chefs are baking up a storm in our “Perfecting Pastries” program. Our young chefs got to work with a variety of doughs, batter, and custard fillings to prepare some of our very best sugar-filled treats. From apple fritters to savoury quiches to ooey-gooey peach pies, this week’s camp provided our chefs with skills and techniques that go way beyond the basics! Not to mention, I think most parents were pretty pleased to be heading home with a few containers full of treats to munch on after a long day at work.
From Day 1, our chefs were very excited to be baking – and their love for pastries only seemed to grow once they learned more and more about all the amazing things they could make with just a few simple pantry ingredients. The first day was all about learning some of the basics – how to prepare a pie dough, how to make traditional pate sucre, how to use a deep fryer, and how to make marshmallows from scratch (who knew they were so simple and so tasty!?). Considering we hadn’t yet made our peach pie filling, I decided to challenge our chefs to think of some tasty pie fillings they could use to pair with their pie dough. As always, I was surprised by their amazing ideas, and I definitely got a little inspiration for my weekend baking project! Check out the feedback from our young chefs:
Broccoli, corn, and cheese quiche
Blueberry, raspberry and chocolate pie
Apple blueberry pie
Strawberry s’mores pie (with dark chocolate)
Strawberry banana pie
Raspberry coconut pie
Chef Kenzie: Sweet potato pie with roasted pecans and walnuts!
YUM – what a nice little list filled with fruits, vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods (like dark chocolate), and healthy fats (like nuts, cheese, and coconut). Trying out some of these pies is a delicious way to incorporate a few more fruits into your daily dessert, plus, it adds the perfect tangy, fruity bite to a sweet and buttery pie!
Day 2 rolled
around and we finally had the chance to finish off the recipes that we started
on the first day of camp. Our young chefs prepared a delicious peach pie
filling, a lemon creme filling for their tarts, and they FINALLY got to taste
their ooey-gooey homemade marshmallows. On top of all that, they also had the
chance to start making their four-layer raspberry vanilla swirl cake. This
recipe was definitely a crowd favourite, as they got to add some bright
colours, sweet flavours, and essential nutrients to a basic vanilla cake! They
swirled around their batter, popped their cakes in the oven, and waited to see
the fun and colourful result.
For their next nutrition challenge, I was
inspired by the fun swirls of colours that made this dessert so pretty and
appealing. I decided to ask our chefs to think of some of their favourite
desserts that had AT LEAST three different colours in them. A simple rule of
thumb is the more colours that are on your plate, the more vitamins, minerals,
and nutrients you are feeding your body. Therefore, if you try to fill your
dinner and dessert plates with as many colours as possible, you’re most likely
providing your body with a wide variety of nutrients so you can function at
your best (as long as those “colours” aren’t just different shades of brown). Once
again, our young chefs didn’t fail to impress with their colourful and creative
ideas, and here are a few yummy desserts to try out this weekend:
Assorted fruit smoothie
Fruit salad with strawberries,
bananas, apple slices, oranges, melons, and watermelon
Triple berry salad
Lemon cake with strawberries and
Banana bread with strawberries and
homemade whipped cream
Homemade rainbow fruit sorbet
Watermelon “pizza” (round slice of
watermelon), topped with cream cheese and assorted fruits
Pancakes or crepes with fresh
Chef Rebecca: Homemade Neapolitan ice cream (strawberry, vanilla, and dark
chocolate) served with assorted fresh fruit
Chef Kenzie: Ricotta and honey tart topped with fresh fruit “rainbow”
(strawberries, mandarin oranges, peaches, bananas, kiwi, and blueberries)
YESSSS!! Summer is the perfect time to enjoy
fresh fruit and serving some of these desserts at your next BBQ get together
would definitely bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces (PLUS they’ll thank
you for the little nutritional boost!). Try these out this weekend or next and
let us know how you liked them!
Day 3 and 4 rolled around with even more delights – layered cake, babkas, pain au chocolat, croissants and sorbet!!! All of the recipes were crowd-pleasers, but the winning recipe was hands down the croissants! It may have taken a full day’s work to put together, but boy was it worth it! These flaky, buttery, light and flaky pastries were irresistible – and they were even BETTER with chocolate in the middle! It had me thinking – what else could you throw inside a croissant to make a tastier (and healthier) combo?? I decided to ask the real experts – our young chefs – for their opinions, and I was amazed!!
Raspberries and strawberries
Parmesan baked on top
Apple cinnamon stuffing
Cream cheese and strawberry
Peaches and honey (baked inside or
eaten as a “sandwich”)
Grilled pineapple “sandwich”
Spinach and feta filling
Ham and cheese filling
Dark chocolate, banana, and
Chef Kenzie: Dark chocolate, hazelnut and coconut filling (with maple drizzle on
I may have just learned how to make croissants
myself, but it looks like I have a few more recipes to try out. These really
are chef-quality ideas. The endless creativity and innovation from our chefs is
something that I am continuously amazed at – these kids have such incredible
ideas that are out of the box, yet genius!
Finally, Thursday’s recipes were preparation for pop-up and it was veggie time!! My favourite was our famous rich and creamy quiche – it’s so simple, so easy, so nutritious, and SUPER delicious!! Quiches can be made using so many different vegetables – spinach and feta; sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and chicken; peppers, onions, and broccoli (our amazing combo!); mushrooms, ham and onions; etc., etc. But, don’t be fooled, veggies aren’t only for savoury recipes – they can be snuck into many different sweet treats to boost the nutritional value and add to flavour! Some of our chef’s favourite veggie-inspired dishes are:
Zucchini banana bread
Celery with peanut butter and chocolate chips
Zucchini blossom with ricotta and honey
Cucumber and mint sorbet
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (try using honey or maple syrup to sweeten the cream cheese frosting instead of sugar!)
Apple rhubarb crumble
Sweet potato fries (maybe with drizzled peanut butter and dark chocolate!)
Chef Rebecca: Rhubarb pavlova
Chef Kenzie: Gluten-free sweet potato brownie with toasted pecans on top and avocado dark chocolate mousse!
I’ve certainly learned a lot from our young
chefs, and I can’t wait to continue to learn in the final weeks of camp. The
upcoming sessions of camp feature some famous contests such as Chopped, Iron
Chef America, and Cake Boss. During these friendly competitions, our young
chefs have a chance to display their culinary creativity and talent. Not to
mention, they will also learn some delicious and nutritious meals that they get
to indulge in for lunch throughout the week! This week was certainly sweet, but
we’re excited for the creativity and innovation that the next two weeks will
bring! Join us again at camp for some more culinary knowledge, tons of yummy
flavours and, of course, a whole lotta fun!
** If you have specific questions regarding
the nutritional information of a meal (or you would like to know how to make
substitutions for vegan, gluten-free, or other dietary restrictions), feel free
to reach out to me (Chef Kenzie) by sending an email to:
email@example.com. If you are interested in more general nutritional
information, head over to my personal blog at: thrivingonnature.wordpress.com
Special Contributor: Somia Zafeer, Marketing Intern at Rooks to Cooks
International Trails Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of June. In Ontario, we are so fortunate to have an abundance of natural trails that showcase the most glorious views. Hiking those trails is a great way to combine outdoor enjoyment and living a healthy lifestyle.
In order to explore nature, you need to hike for it. Hiking enables us to become immersed in nature by exploring turbulent rivers and meandering streams, hidden waterfalls, majestic trees and unbelievable wildlife! From the smallest birds that make the loudest chirp, nature has mysterious talents that are yet to be discovered. We believe that hiking is an amazing everyday routine that helps us relax, reflect upon life and rejuvenate ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to connect with nature and its’ hidden beauty.
Hiking provides us with many benefits! We are sharing our TOP 5 Reasons to Hit the Trails:
Great for your mental health! Walking down a trail with a river flowing beside you, helps soothe and clear the mind. Hiking has been proven to be a natural treatment for unclogging the mind with unnecessary stress by focusing on the bigger picture.
Improves Fitness Levels: Hiking allows an individual to become stronger by challenging yourself. Unconsciously, our body is burning calories from top to bottom through pumping our arms and continuous legs movements. Hikings is one of the best cardio workouts and burns lots of calories.
Social Activity: The experience of hiking is much more enjoyable and memorable with your friends and family. At the end of a busy week, parents can take time to go for hike with their children, enjoy nature and make their bond stronger.
Inexpensive: The best part about hiking is that it’s inexpensive. We are not buying nature’s beauty because its already given to us through locals trails. We would recommend that you purchase a pair of hiking boots to provide good grip, keep your feet dry and protect your feet from rocks and debris on the trail..
Enjoy the beauty of nature and explore beautiful landscapes. No matter how small the trail is, it’s the experience that counts.
If hiking is a new challenge, then we need to properly prepare ourselves. Here’s a few suggestions on How to Get Ready to Hike:
(a) First, prepare yourself physically. We will need to prepare our physical body by walking 2 to 3 times a day to bring up our heart rate. Small regular workout sessions like lunges, crunches, squats and cardio will help the hike become easier. The important thing about hiking is that it will help you to become stronger as you continue to challenge yourself on different trails and longer distances;
(b) The second step is to research the trails. It’s hard to prepare for a hike if you don’t know what to expect on the trail. Research guides, trails guides, internet are all the basic information to gain knowledge about trails. Hike Ontario has a Trail Finder that helps you locate trails in your area: http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails.
(c) The third step involves essential items to bring with you. This includes maps, extra food and water, flashlight, first aid kit and sun protection.
(d) To help you get started, some organizations offer Training Courses to learn to hike safely. We suggest that you check out Hike Ontario. You will also want to learn about hiking etiquette. For example, hikers going downhill yield to those hiking uphill, don’t feed the wildlife, never throw your garbage in the woods as this can harm the animals. Lastly, we hope you enjoy the hike!
This year, on June 1st, bring forth your families to celebrate International Trails Day by spending quality time connecting with nature and rejuvenating yourself. We found some great hiking challenges to try with your friends and family on Hike Ontario Website Trail Finder.So let’s go outside, get active and explore all of nature’s hidden treasures by going on a hike
One final recommendation … Bring along a container of our delicious Trail Mix to keep up your energy levels. Try this amazing Trail Mix recipe provided by Kenzie Osborne, Sous Chef at Rooks to Cooks!
Yield: 3 cups
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup nut of choice (peanuts, cashews, walnuts, or a mix of a few kinds)
1/2 cup seed of choice (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup dried coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 cup dried berries (raisins, dried cranberries, etc.)
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and honey or maple syrup.
Spread the mixture onto the baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes (or until oats, nuts, and seeds are slightly browned and toasted). If you are using coconut flakes, add them to the pan after 10 minutes (they only need about 5 minutes to toast!)
Take the pan out of the oven and let cool completely. Mix in the berries, fruit, and cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips. Store in a mason jar or air tight container and enjoy!
Happy Earth Day Everyone! Today, and Everyday, we need take the time to appreciate and respect this wonderful planet that we call home. Earth is where we live, work and play and we all must do our part to keep our home healthy for future generations. Let’s try our best to think locally and take conscious steps within your own family – such as conserve energy, recycle, try to eat sustainably. Every little bit helps to conserve our planet and protect our nature – plants, animals and environment.
For 2019, the Earth Day Network is inviting everyone to join their campaign entitled: “Protect our Species”. We can and we must work towards protecting the world’s threatened and endangered species! Their message is that we can slow the rate of extinctions and even enable the declining, threatened and endangered species to recover by joining together globally and taking immediate action. Check out their website for more information, Source: https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/earthday2019/
Let’s start within our own community! While there are many ways to respect our planet, we have some Earth Day ideas that will get you started right at home. “Lettuce” help get your whole family involved in these activities!
4 Earth-friendly Ideas for your family:
Buy local food to reduce the distance from farm to table:
Look for organic food to support farmers who practice organic farming that is free from toxic pesticides. Also purchase food from companies who use organic ingredients.
Compost your kitchen scraps. Use your green bins so that kitchen garbage is diverted from the landfill. Or use a backyard compost bin so you can turn waste into fertilizer for use in your garden.
Grow your own organic garden. If you have some space in your backyard garden, then think about growing some vegetables. Many vegetables can even be grown in containers, for example tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, peppers.
Since it is Earth Day, let’s also try to be more planet-friendly and eat food that comes primarily from plants. As we read in the new Canada’s Food Guide, we should strive to choose protein food that come from plants more often. But rather than a complete changeover to plant-based diet, we would suggest that you try to incorporate more plant-based meals into your current food plan. For example, you could try a meatless meal once a week as a way to introduce the concept to your family. We know change can be difficult so if you take small steps to introduce a variety of different options then that will be much easier for you and your family to succeed.
Here is a great list of Plant-based Protein options to get you and your family started. Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fibre and phytonutrients. Plant-based includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean you never eat meat or dairy, but you are choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
PLANT-BASED PROTEINS *
Here is a list of plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving:
Chickpeas and most bean varieties
Spelt and Teff
Blue-green algae (Spirulina)
Amaranth and Quinoa
Ezekiel Bread and Other Breads Made From Sprouted Grains
In this section, we asked Karen Gilman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, to provide valuable answers to our questions related to plant-based diet. We have also compiled a helpful Q&A below:
Q1. Within our own family, we can do our part by adopting a plant-based diet. We asked Karen to provide a few key benefits for our bodies when we switch to plant-based foods?
Karen: Plant-based foods have been linked to a number of health benefits among which is heart health. As plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, beans and legumes are rich in fibre and low in saturated fat they can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure thus reducing our risk of heart disease. The fibre and protein in these foods is also helpful in managing blood sugar levels. This helps keep us fuller long which may help with weight management. There is also some research that supports a plant-based diet may reduce your risk of some cancers.
Q2. Many people are concerned that they will not get all the protein and nutrients they need by eating plant-based. What types of plant-based foods do you recommend to get the most nutritional benefits?
Karen: One of the biggest concerns about plant-based diets is that it will be difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs. And most specifically there is a concern about protein. It is possible to get these nutrients when you follow a plant-based diet as long as you are eating a variety of foods. And fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes all have protein! However, there are a few nutrients like Vitamin D and B12 that are more difficult to get on a plant-based diet. You should make sure to discuss your dietary preferences with your healthcare provider so they can advise whether or not you should consider taking any supplements.
Additional info: If you are looking to add more plant-based proteins, but aren’t quite sure how, Karen offers a freeHealthy Veg Call so book some time to talk to her today! Telephone: 416-949-0164
#IWD2019 Happy International Women’s Day to all the talented, confident, strong, entrepreneurial, caring women in our lives. You are amazing and we admire and appreciate all of you just as you are!
On March 8th, women across the world come together to celebrate their accomplishments but there is still more to be achieved with regard to gender balance. This day is a call to action for businesses, government, media, employers and more … to truly make a difference to create a #BalanceforBetter!
At Rooks to Cooks, we applaud and appreciate all the hard-working women in the culinary field. Once predominantly a male career path, we see more and more female chefs in strong roles in the foodie world. So amazing to see women as chefs, restaurant owners, and educators across the country.
Chef Shai Mandel confidently and successfully chose to fulfill her goal of teaching cooking to the next generation of potential chefs by starting her own company, Rooks to Cooks. Shai is a chef and teacher and has been working in kitchens her whole life. Inspired by her passion for food and education, Shai’s goal is to teach today’s youth valuable cooking skills and life skills that they can use both in and out of the kitchen.
Let’s look at some other renowned female chefs that have made a mark in the culinary field. In Canada, we have our popular group of Food Network chefs: Lynn Crawford, Anna Olson, and Christine Cushing, to name a few. But we were also thrilled to see that the list of female chefs is steadily increasing at many of the top restaurants across the country.
Working together we can all make a positive difference and help build a gender-balanced world. Balance is an issue that’s important for our economy and for communities to succeed and prosper. #BalanceforBetter
We are so happy to see Canada’s revamped food guide finally reflect relevant themes around healthy eating and lifestyle! Although nutrition is highly dependent on one’s lifestyle and we consider this a guide, not a rule book, we believe this a great start and a very welcome change. Rooks to Cooks had the pleasure of connecting with Karen Gilman, a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist, and we asked for her key take aways to share with our readers. We thank Karen for her valuable and helpful commentary and suggestions! Link to Canada’s Food Guide:https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
Karen Gilman: As a holistic nutritionist I have never paid much attention to food guides choosing instead to work with clients and provide them with custom meal plans based on their individual needs. However, the recent launch of the new Canada’s Food Guide has been getting lots of press, so I decided to take a look and see what all the noise was about. I was pleased to see how well-rounded the new food guide is, and I am happy to share the TOP 4 things that really resonated with me:
1. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
As a holistic nutritionist with a special interest in vegetarian diets, I was pleasantly surprised with the addition of this recommendation. Yeah! I absolutely love this. Yes, as Michael Pollan said “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
As someone who has been following a mostly vegetarian diet for about 30 years now, plant-based proteins have always been the hero on my plate. However, most people think of animal-based options when it comes to protein. As a mom with a vegetarian daughter, I am always asked how she gets her protein and I always tell people there are so many options, even for those who say they hate tofu.
Things like beans, lentils, chickpeas are all great plant-based options you can incorporate into your meal or build your meal around. Nuts and seeds and even vegetables have protein. It really isn’t difficult to get enough protein following a plant-based diet but you don’t have to go plant-based all the way. Start with “Meatless Monday” and then add more plant-based meals as you become more comfortable and find options your family likes. Trying adapting family favourites and make tofu stir fry instead of chicken or make black bean tacos instead of meat tacos.
2. Have plenty of vegetables and fruits.
It may come as a surprise to lots of people that half their plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables. I think a lot of people have been following the old “protein, carbohydrate and a side of veggies” mantra for preparing meals with the traditional meat, potatoes and a side of veggies. This veggie half of your plate can be anything from a single vegetable, a mix of vegetables or even a green salad. Or make soups and stews with lots of different vegetables. Believe it or not but you don’t need as much protein as you think and vegetables have protein too!
3. Be mindful of your eating habits.
This was a really insightful addition to the Canada Food Guide. Not only is it important what you eat, but how and when are also important. Are we eating because we are hungry or are we eating because we are bored or even stressed or anxious? It is important to look for our internal cues, so we eat when we are hungry. And, of course, enjoy our food. Food should be savoured and not inhaled on the go. If we eat in a relaxed manner, our bodies will be able to digest our food properly and absorb all those amazing nutrients.
4. Cook from scratch.
Now here’s an idea! Cooking from scratch. I think our culture has moved away from the notion of cooking from scratch. It seems everyone is too busy to cook these days which is so unfortunate. We need to get back in the kitchen, not just for ourselves but for our kids. How are they going to be able to feed themselves? We don’t want them to eat a diet full of fast or processed food. That’s not going to help the ever-increasing rate of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Just basic skills like learning how to make an omelet or even boiling pasta will go a long way in helping them be self-sufficient when they move out on their own.
Rooks to Cooks offers our kids just this chance. Forget about all those YouTube food videos! Hands-on cooking is where it’s at. At Rooks to Cooks kids will not only learn how to cook but to become more comfortable and confident in the kitchen. Kids also gain the opportunity to expand their palate by trying new foods. How awesome is that?? Too many of our kids eat the same thing over and over again. At the Rooks to Cooks cooking classes, chef instructors take the time to explain about nutrition and how to safely navigate a kitchen. Kids will come away with a keen understanding on how important cooking really is and how easy and fun it can be.
About Karen Gilman: Karen is a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist who is passionate about supporting families with vegetarian children. Even if you don’t have vegetarian children, but are looking to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your family’s diet, Karen can provide you with some guidance.