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Good Things Grow in Ontario!

Sue smiling and holding two strawberries as earrings in strawberry field




















This post reflects my learnings after attending a sponsored event, hosted by Farm and Food Care OntarioGreenBeltMore than a Migrant WorkerOntario Apple GrowersOntario Berries and the Ontario Produce Marketing Association. All opinions are my own.

When I was a kid, I remember singing the tune ‘Good things grow in Ontario!’ And that lyric still holds true today.

I was recently invited to a farm tour in beautiful Norfolk County, sponsored by Farm Food Care Ontario where we had the chance to learn more about food and agriculture!

First stop: Strawberry Tyme Farms

Dalton and John Cooper standing in a high tunnel strawberry field

Meet Dalton Cooper, a 4th generation berry farmer and his dad John. Originally an apple farm since 1939, the family now grows berries using innovative varieties and growing techniques. Traditionally, strawberries harvest in June but a new ‘day-neutral’ strawberry fruits for 5-6 months, extending the typical strawberry season from June / July well into October.

John gave us a little strawberry physiology lesson to understand how this works. ‘June strawberries’ are named as such because they fruit in June. These berries are planted in the Fall when the days are short, and bear fruit in June when the days are long. On the other hand, ‘day-neutral’ strawberries are an annual variety planted in the spring with berries ready to pick about 12 weeks later. The berries continue fruiting regardless of the length of the day, which is why they’re called ‘day-neutral’!

The strawberries are grown on table tops in high tunnels which protect the berries from damaging heavy rains and maintains a moderate temperature. Not to mention, it’s much easier to pick these berries! The Cooper family also grows long cane raspberries, a growing technique where the berries are grown in pots and produce fruit in their second year.

Fun facts: There are 675 farms across Ontario which grow strawberries. Ontario growers produce between 6,000-7,000 tonnes of strawberries each year!


Next stop: Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden with their family of Jamaican workers

Image: Facebook Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden Dooney have owned the Suncrest Orchards since 2019 and work with a wonderful Jamaican family of eight employees including Raymond and George.  They’re seasonal agricultural workers who come up to the farm as early as March and stay until the end of October or longer. The farm grows and harvests seven different varieties of apples: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Sunrise, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Royal Gala and Ambrosia.

Red gala apples growing on a bush

At lunch, we had the wonderful opportunity to chat with some of the workers. Amanda says, “We have huge respect and appreciation for the sacrifice they make to come up and help with our orchard.”  Livian, (pictured front left below), for example, has worked seasonally on farms for 25 years and is proud to have supported his four kids through university. Indeed, let’s all give our thanks to the amazing farmers and seasonal agricultural workers who work so hard to grow delicious and nutritious food!

Are you hosting an educational tour? Contact me to cover the event and share highlights!



Apple Pie Overnight Oats


4 jars of apple pie overnight oats with apples and flowers in the background

Apple Pie Overnight Oats

This delicious breakfast features nutritious oats and the cozy flavours of apple pie. It's all made ahead of time so you can go ahead and hit that snooze button!
Course Breakfast
Servings 1


  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  • In a microwave-safe bowl, toss apples with maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook in the microwave for 45-60 seconds.
  • In a container or jar, add oats, milk, yogurt, maple syrup and cinnamon. Stir well to combine.
  • Spoon cooked apple on top of the oat mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight. Stir before eating.
Keyword apple pie overnight oats, apples, breakfast, breakfast ideas, breakfast recipes, easy breakfast recipe, oats, overnight oats

Easy Apple Strudel Recipe

Apple strudel on a white platter with two white dessert dishes and forks in the background










This easy and delicious Apple Strudel is made with flaky phyllo pastry.

The trick to working with phyllo pastry is to brush each layer with melted butter (or oil). If the phyllo pastry happens to tear, just press it back together.

Watch the recipe video here on YouTube


  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick (Royal Gala, Macintosh, or  Granny Smith)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 T flour
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough (9 x 14-inch sheets) , thawed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 T turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, add apples. Sprinkle in 1/3 cup sugar and toss to combine.
  • Mix in cinnamon and walnuts. Toss to combine. Add in flour and mix everything together with a spoon.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the parchment paper. Brush lightly with some of the melted butter.
  • Keep remaining phyllo sheets covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. Add another phyllo sheet, brushing with melted butter until you have a total of 8 phyllo sheets.
  • Spread apple mixture over the middle of the phyllo (about 3 inches wide), leaving about 2 inches along each short end of the phyllo sheets.
  • Fold the short edges of the phyllo sheets over the filling. Roll up the long ends of the phyllo sheets to make the strudel shape.
  • Brush with remaining melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  • Cut 6-8 diagonal slits in top of strudel. This will make it easier to slice the strudel after baking.
  • Bake in the middle rack of the oven, until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Serve warm and enjoy! Perfect for afternoon tea or dessert!

Makes 6-8 servings.



By:  Sue Mah, Registered Dietitian

How to Make the Perfect Apple Pie

slice of apple pie with ice cream on a plate






It’s apple season and the perfect time to make an apple pie!

Last week, I was invited to a virtual pie making class with the University of Toronto – University College Alumni and Chef Umie from Le Dolci bakery. What fun! Here’s their recipe for the Perfect Apple Pie, plus some tips and tricks to know before you get started.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Keep everything cold, including your hands.
  2. Use a cheese grater to cut the cold butter into pieces. (Remember tip #1 above. Your warm hands may accidentally soften the butter.)
  3. Avoid overworking the dough. Friction is your number one enemy. The less you touch the dough, the better. If you re-roll dough too many times, it becomes tough, and who wants a tough pie crust, right?
  4. Use a combination of shortening and butter for the flakiest crust ever.
  5. Bake your pie in simple aluminum pie plate since it conducts heat the best. Ceramic pie plates are the prettiest, but they’re thick and take a long time to heat as well as a long time to cool – this could dry out your pie.
  6. Choose tart apples such as Spy, Gala, Russet, Cortland or Macintosh.
  7. When baking, it’s most precise to measure out ingredients by weight. A simple kitchen scale will do the job! I’ve included the approximate equivalent cup measures.

Pie Crust


375 g all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)

160 g cold butter (about 2/3 cup), cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or grated with a cheese grater)

125 g vegetable shortening ( about 2/3 cup), cut into 1/2 inch pieces

100 g cold water(about 6-7 Tbsp), (keep it in the fridge until you need it so that it stays cold)

5 g salt (about 1 tsp)

15 g brown sugar (optional)


  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the shortening and rub into flour.
  2. Grate the cold butter into the flour. Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like pea-sized crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle cold water over the flour mixture and gently stir until it just comes together and the dough colour is creamy, not white. Always use less water instead of more. Remember, friction is your number one enemy.
  4. Transfer dough to a floured counter, shape / squish the dough into a thick disc. Avoid kneading the dough. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap (in a “T”-shape, i.e. fold the plastic wrap one way around the dough, and then fold another piece of plastic wrap in the other direction around the dough). Allow dough to rest in fridge for at least 15-20 minutes before rolling. While the dough is resting, prepare the apple pie filling.
  5. Roll out the dough on floured counter. Flour your rolling pin. Roll any dough scraps under a piece of fresh dough to prevent overworking the dough. Roll dough to about 2-3 mm thickness. Cut out about half of the dough to form the bottom pie crust. Be sure to allow about 1/2 inch extra dough around circumference of the pie plate.
  6. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and carefully unroll it onto the pie plate.
  7. Gently press the edges of the pie crust into the pie plate.
  8. Roll out the remaining dough into about 10 thin ribbons.
Sue rolling the pastry dough

Keep your rolling pin and surface well floured!






Apple Pie Filling


5-6 cups tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces (about 4 apples)

1/2 cup sugar

2-3 Tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 Tbsp butter (optional for dotting on top of the filling before clsoing the pie)

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp cold water (egg wash)

1 Tbsp sugar (for sprinkling)


  1. In a large bowl, mix together apples, sugar, cornstarch, lemon, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Pour into the crust, leaving room around the edges to seal. Add in butter in small chunks (optional).
  3. Create a lattice pattern with the ribbons of dough.
  4. Brush the lattice with egg wash just before baking and sprinkle with sugar (optional).
  5. Bake the pie or freeze to bake it another day.
  6. If baking immediately: Bake in a 375 F preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for an additional 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the centre of the pie is bubbling.
  7. If baking from frozen: Bake from frozen in a 375 F preheated oven for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for another 60 minutes.
Sue pouring apple filling into pie

The cinnamon and nutmeg are the stars in the apple filling!









Sue showing her unbaked pie

Ready for the freezer! Can be baked from frozen.









My favourite way to enjoy apple pie is warm with a scoop of ice cream! How about you?

apple pie with ice cream on a plate

2011 Nutrition Recap

Looking back on the year, here are just a few of my favourite nutrition news and trends from home and abroad.

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