Vegan and Vegetarian News: Acorn Brownie Bites

Raw Tibicos / Fizz Kitchen, at 25 Keefer Road in St Catharines, is in the middle of Ontario’s Greenbelt!   The greenbelt was set up to protect some of Canada’s best growing areas; those famous vineyards and peach trees are on our doorstep, so close that I can almost reach out of my office window and pick a peach . . . !  All credit to the farmers here, we have a front-row seat for seeing first-hand how hard farmers work, and how many supplements are necessary, to grow healthy peaches and grapes in this area.   

A big part of what we do, is to develop products that use raw ingredients that can be grown in this area, with less, or no chemical inputs — not only to give the farmers a break — but perhaps more importantly —  to give the environment —  the soil microorganisms, insects, worms, and all those essential players —  a break from agricultural chemicals.  Acorns are a star performer in this category —  here in the middle of the Carolinian forest zone, Raw Tibicos / Fizz Kitchen consciously use as many ingredients as possible, from what could be our natural environment.  Please read the link below, for more about this wonderful, and beautiful, feature of nature, Ontario’s Carolinian forest.

The most recent addition to our “tastes of the Carolinian Forest” team, is a definite MVP:   Acorn Brownie Bites.  I was aware that acorns had been a much-loved staple of the First People in North America, and, as food designer, I was very interested in including acorns in our modern fast (healthy, delicious) food.  It took me a little over half a year of experimenting to come up with a process that worked in a commercial facility, to leach the tannins out of the acorns.  

Once that was accomplished, how to use the acorn flour?  My first desire was to use the flour in wraps, however, at this time, we cannot source enough acorns to supply traps!  Working with limits on acorn supply, and the innate nature of the flour, what emerged from the Raw Tibicos / (test) Fizz Kitchen is a moist, dense, chocolaty, European-level sweet.  So far —  so familiar —  however — there is a difference — as one might expect — when a minimally-processed acorn nut is used as a base — rather than processed-and-bleached white flour.  Here is how the acorn-flour brownie bite differs from a traditional brownie:  the acorn brownie has a tremendously clean mouth feel.  There is no feeling of a coating clinging to one’s teeth, and no soapy aftertaste.  Plus, since our processing method leaves the natural oil in the acorn flour, not only there no need for added fat, but also, the resulting batter tastes richer and “fattier” at a lower fat and calorie ratio than normal brownies —  all in a vegan, gluten-free package.

Please do come by, or call for delivery, to try the Acorn Brownie Bites. When biting into it, I hope that you feel part of the natural world, and most especially, by eating this, we are taking the first step on a road to a more sustainable agriculture.  Additionally, we are joining a millennia-long tradition of ecologically-friendly acorn-eating.  How often can we say that, when eating dessert?  As mentioned, these Acorn Brownie Bites have the added benefit of being vegan, and gluten-free.

Unlike our other menu items, which are either every-day, or on a five-week rotation, Acorn Browne Bites availability is based on our ability to source either intact acorns, or acorn flour.  Please do call (905) 646-1110, or email order@tibib.ca, to check for availability of this item.  A weekly email is available, which gives discounts, specials, and the week’s special menu items.   God bless, and God speed, in all you do!

chocolate-covered brownie bites made with acorn flour, pictured with glasses, for scale, and a Raw Tibicos customer loyalty card
Dark chocolate covered Acorn Brownie Bites, a healthy, sustainable-agriculture (semi-) sweet treat

Vegan and Vegetarian News: Spotlight on Hearty Lentil Grain Bowl

Those of you who buy our take-home, litre containers, know that (for food) we have a two-week expiration from date of preparation.  People don’t know that I, (and many who work at Raw Tibicos/ Fizz Kitchen), take the product home after expiration, to eat, enjoy, and of course, quality check!   Last week, Hearty Lentil Sarrasin Bowl was on the menu; this week, that’s what is on my menu —  as I was heating and eating —  it occurred to me that this particular menu item could use a little explanation.    

Traditionally, food was divided into taste categories:  

  • sweet
  • sour
  • salty
  • savoury
  • bitter.  

These are the taste palates that chef’s work with; how the tastes are combined, turns out to be strongly influenced by culture and history.   Throughout most of history, chefs aimed to have each of these tastes in every bite.   Desserts would stress sweet — of course — but salty, sour, savoury and bitter should be there, too.  For example, think of a lovely pound cake flavoured with lemon peel, and topped with fruit.  The generous amount of butter provides savoury, sour comes from the fruit — hopefully the chef didn’t skimp on salt — and the lemon peel provides just that extra oomph of bitter — everything wrapped up in a delicious wash of sugar!  

For some reason historians have not identified, Western cuisine turned away from the ideal of many tastes in one bite, to single flavours, intensified and showcased.  The revolution began in France, where chefs began to take a food, such as roast duck, and intensify the duck flavours by using drippings, organ meats, and perhaps bones, to make sauces that intensified the duck flavour.  Duck, stuffed with fruits and spices, served with a bitter, salty, relish, came to stand for “grandpa’s” meal; sophisticated diners demanded a slice of duck, separate from fruit, in a gravy of duck.  I think this style of eating is familiar to most of us today, as the French concept took Western culture by storm!

As food designer at Raw Tibicos/ Fizz Kitchen, I appreciate both food traditions; both the all-in-one, and the single flavour; however, I have noticed that in the world of single flavours, one flavour is hard to isolate and eat alone:  bitter.  We can eat sweet alone —  savoury and salty, certainly —  sour, in small quantities, is delightful — but a mouthful of pure bitter is —  honestly —  bitter!  What a shame this is!  Bitter flavours are famous for waking up, and balancing our immune systems, and doing the same for digestion.    No one ever ate too many calories of a food with bitter in it; however, when the stomach is a little off —   when one is thinking about junk food —  rather than healthy — bitter is a hero.   Some may find calling bitter a hero an exaggeration —  for those few, I suggest, when you are feeling slightly “off”, try bitter’s brawny, virile, rugged style, and see how you feel now! 

Therefore, after a very long introduction, I present:  Hearty Lentil Sarrasin Bowl.   This lentil, sarrasin and olive oil meal is turned into a hero, with the addition of grapefruit peel.  The green lentils, sarrasin and olive oil provide a rich, savoury, salty taste, with a satisfying, almost meat-like mouth feel.   Flashing in-and-out, like sunshine sparkling on the lake, is the light, fresh bitter taste of grapefruit peel, giving that extra twinkle that makes it all beautiful.  Paired with our water kefir/ Tibicos drink, one has the sweet and sour flavours that are missing from the Hearty Lentil Bowl:  and what does a meal with all five flavours equal?  Correct!    Feeling full and oh-so-satisfied, on less calories.  Delicious!

Hearty Lentil Sarrasin Bowl is one of our rotating feature menu items.  Fifteen menu items are on a five-week rotating schedule of three in each week.   For a weekly emailed update of which items are on the menu each week, please subscribe to our one-a-week email, at order@tibib.ca, or call (905) 646-1110.  We look forward to seeing you, at our facility at 25 Keefer Road, St. Catharines, ON, Canada, or delivering to you,  in the Niagara Region.  God bless, and God speed in all you do!

Lentils and Sarrasin, in a bowl, with a topping of candied ginger
Hearty Lentil Sarrasin Bowl, topped with Candied Ginger .  Sarrasin is a starchy seed, and is gluten-free.