Earlier this week I talked all about my mini weekend getaway to Banff, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. The experience was an amazing opportunity to get away from my usual routine, see all that Banff has to offer in terms of health and wellness, and I came back feeling far more energized and refreshed. What I left out of Monday’s post was all the food-related chat, and that’s exactly what’s on deck today.
There are heaps of places to eat in Banff, with everything from sushi to full-on Canadian fare. During my visit I had the opportunity to check out some tourist favourites, both at my hotel and downtown on Banff’s main strip. I also had some great conversations with some of the chefs, and this week’s featured recipe was graciously provided by one of them.
With Alberta being known for its meats, it didn’t surprise me that many of the restaurants I visited had a lot of beef, elk and duck entrees. Upon first glance at menus, you might think that there were only a small handful of vegan or vegetarian dishes. I soon learned that this was entirely not the case. In every restaurant I visited, the chefs were more than willing to accommodate for my own dietary requests (gluten and dairy-free) and their service was so great that not once did it feel like I was being “that girl” who causes a major inconvenience.
Within the 48 hours of my trip, here’s where I went:
The Primrose – This was where I had breakfast on my first morning at the Rimrock Resort Hotel. I didn’t want to eat a ton because the yoga class that Banff & Lake Louise Tourism lined up for me was less than an hour later, but the breakfast buffet at The Primrose was absolutely beautiful. My meal was a very fruit-based one with a bit of smoked salmon on the side (because I’m never one to turn it down) and if I’d had the chance to eat there again I would have definitely gone for the custom omelette station. There was also your expected weekend breakfast fare (think eggs, toast, etc), plus a muesli station with a bunch of dried fruits and nuts, and it all looked delicious.
Sleeping Buffalo Dining Room at The Buffalo Mountain Lodge – The Buffalo Mountain Lodge is located away from Banff’s main downtown strip, and guests stay in condo/cabin-like buildings with separate entrances. It’s just 5 minute drive from downtown, but has a bit more of a relaxing secluded feel and really pretty views. I sat down with Chef Kelly at the Sleeping Buffalo Dining Room to talk to him about the restaurant, its menu and his background. He told me all about how their ingredients are sourced locally where possible, and how his relationship with a nearby farm gives him confidence that the meats served come from animals raised in an ethical, hormone-free and antibiotic-free way.
Being mostly pescetarian and a sucker for anything salmon-related, I ordered the Sterling Salmon on seasonal roasted vegetables, and loved how the salmon was cooked – crisped on the outside, super moist and flaky on the inside.
The Maple Leaf Grill & Lounge – This was my lunch spot on my last day, and it absolutely didn’t disappoint. I ordered a Canadian Cobb Salad which came with delicious smoked turkey, a boiled egg, avocado and a ton of greens. The atmosphere felt really warm, friendly, and…. well, Canadian!
Wild Flour Bakery – This is very much a hot spot for runners and cyclists in Banff, with many people stopping in after their morning workouts for coffee, freshly-baked bread, eggs, homemade granola, and sandwiches. It wouldn’t be my top recommendation for my fellow gluten free friends, but if that’s not a dietary restriction for you I think you’ll love it. The staff are super friendly, there’s plenty of seats for weekend socializing, and the smells wafting out of the bakery in the back are divine.
Nourish Bistro – I’ve saved this one for last because it’s where today’s featured recipe comes from. Nourish is Banff’s only vegan, organic, gluten-free and non-GMO restaurant, and it’s very much a hot spot for meat eaters and veggie lovers alike. Interestingly, Nourish Bistro is sandwiched right between two very ‘meat-heavy’ restaurants, and every time I walked and drove past, it was just as busy as the others next door. Clearly, there’s plenty of demand for plant-based dining options in Banff.
I had a great chat with Alf, Nourish Bistro’s Executive Chef, while I ate lunch there on Saturday. He told me that the restaurant is the only one in the area that doesn’t have a walk-in fridge or freezer, which means that everything is super fresh. He orders his organic ingredients daily from Calgary (a little over an hour away), and changes the menu seasonally.
Alf says he gets creative with his dishes in order to ensure that absolutely nothing goes to waste, and strives to create meals that leave you with the energy to get outside and be active, rather than wanting to take a nap. He told me that the thing that makes him happiest is when he pokes his head out of the kitchen and sees a guest take their first bite, then insist that whoever they’re eating with have a taste because it’s that good. It was so evident that his passion for good, wholesome food is huge, and I had a ton of fun getting to know him.
As for my order, Nourish is known for BIG portions that serve 2-4 people. I wanted to try a few things, so I asked for mini portions of the Superfood Salad and the ‘Let Us RAP’ – lettuce wraps filled with rice noodles, veggies, lime, sesame, chilli and peanut sauce for dipping.
The lettuce wraps were good, but I really, really loved the Superfood Salad which was loaded with organic kale, fresh herbs, quinoa, avocado, spiralized zucchini ribbons, strawberries, carrots, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cucumber and mandarins. It’s pretty much an everything salad – tons of ingredients, tons of texture and tons of flavour.
I asked Alf about the most popular dishes on his menu, and aside from the 420 Burger (which many swear tastes just like a beef burger), he told me the Mac and Squeeze is a popular favourite. He generously gave me the recipe, which I made a couple of days ago and am excited to share with you!
Nourish Bistro’s Mac and Squeeze
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked gluten-free noodles of choice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 cup zucchini, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 3/4 cup yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup broccoli, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup white wine (I used low sodium vegetable broth)
- 1/2 tsp each ground thyme, oregano, coriander, and smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage, but you could use canned coconut milk for a richer sauce)
- 1/2 cup Daiya vegan cheese shreds
Cook the noodles on the stove according to package directions until al dente.
Mist a skillet with olive oil or coconut oil spray.
Sautee the garlic for 1 minute on medium heat, then add the zucchini, carrot, onion, broccoli and red pepper. Stir often for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Turn heat down to low. Add the white wine/vegetable broth, thyme, oregano, coriander and smoked paprika. Stir well, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and turn the heat back up to medium. Add the coconut oil and stir until melted, then mix in the coconut milk, Daiya cheese and cooked noodles. Continue stirring for another 2 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste, then garnish with parsley or fresh chives and serve.
[Tweet “Vegan comfort food: @NourishBistro’s Mac and Squeeze #recipe”]
So tell me…
- What’s the best meal you’ve ever had while away from home?
- What’s your favourite comfort food?