“Spilling the beans”, get it? Haha. I’m so pun-ny! Anyways, while I was visiting my brother in Cochrane over the summer, I had the pleasure of connecting with fellow hippie, foodie and entrepreneur, Susan Hoy of Flora Food Co. The more Susan and I spoke about her vision for Flora Foods, the more I felt compelled to share it with you! Not only because I support her vision, but because I hope to inspire others to create more successful, sustainable and conscientious businesses like hers!
Susan is classically trained (Red Seal and Canadian Chef de Cuisine) under Swiss & German masters in the hotel industry, and has more than 17 years experience in all aspects of the industry including high end bistros, cruise ships, private catering and personal chef services. But the part that really sets Susan (and Flora Foods) apart is that Susan is also an Agrologist! What the heck is that? Well, essentially Agrologist’s are soil, vegetation and water specialists. Which brings me to my next point..
what makes Flora Foods co unique?
Connecting to food in this way gives Susan a unique understanding of nutrition and the link between healthy soil and personal health. And as a vegetarian with a passion for gardening, I can tell you it makes a world of difference in the quality of meals they produce. The Flora Food team focuses on delicious, satisfying meals made with whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Plant-based foods are often healthier, less expensive and kinder to the environment.
Another one of my favourite things about Flora Foods; they are passionate about making our world a better place to be. They have implemented zero-waste practices in their business model and have committed to reusing, repurposing, composting + recycling as much as possible. (I’d wager 95% of their meals and food products are sent to customers in reusable glassware containers.)
Flora likes to support fellow nearby small businesses and local growers. In fact, I got to meet one of the growers from Fog Farms when they dropped off an order of micro greens. And I love how down-to-earth small businesses can be, don’t you? They really get to know their customers, and add a personal touch to almost everything they do.
And lastly, although they are technically plant-based, what I love most is that Flora Foods creates incredible dishes that everyone will love! (Whether they are an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, etc.) In fact, I shared my Eggless Salad with friends and family (ninja style, without telling them it was vegan) and they were stunned when I said it was actually chickpeas instead of egg!
What About the food?
Ok, so I may have lucked out a little bit. Not only did I get to share a delicious Flora Foods family style lunch with Susan, Sheryl and the rest of the team as they prepped meals for the week – I got to take home my very own Flora Food Co cooler bag full of plant-based goodies! (Thank God, because I was pretty much drooling as I sampled and watched them make everything from scratch.) Here’s a list of everything I had the opportunity to try (just in case you’re looking to spice things up and order your very own cooler bag full of plant-based goodies):
Spanish Stuffed Pepper with Quinoa and Butter Beans
Can I tell you a secret? I’d never eaten a butter bean before. But stuffed into a pepper with quinoa and roasted veg? Delicious!
Plant-Based Spinach Ricotta Lasagna
I’m Italian, so I can be hard to please when it comes to lasagna… But Susan did not disappoint! What really made the difference was including extra sauce. I feel like prepped lasagna can get a little dry when you reheat it, but because of the added sauce – it was perfect!
Grilled Hawaiian Bowl
Grilled pineapple. Enough said.
‘Eggless’ Egg Salad
A fast favourite. I felt like this was such a versatile staple to have in the fridge. Need a side? Eggless salad. Feeling snacky? Eggless salad. Breakfast time? Eggless salad on a slice of toast.
Strawberry Chia Pudding Parfait
Heaven. In. A. Jar. I wish I could eat one of these every morning. You’d never know it was dairy free, and that Strawberry compote was unforgettable.
Green Bean Artichoke Salad (with extra dressing)
I’ll be honest – not a huge fan of green beans. But you know what made me finish this dish? The freaking dressing! (And artichokes – yum.) It was magical. Sweet (but not too sweet) with a little bit of tang.
Ok, I’m gonna sound like a pig.. But I ate both of these on the first day. They reminded me of apple crisp. Just a really warm, comforting dessert that gives you all the feels.
White ‘Chickenless’ Chili
I was pretty excited to try this one out… How does someone make “chickenless” chili? Jackfruit! That’s how! Had the same texture as pulled, roasted chicken which was a nice textural experience to have. (I’m not that skilled in the kitchen just yet, so there’s a lot of roasting and sautéing.)
Couscous Greek Salad
This one made question everything I knew about tofu. Like, flipped my world upside down. Tofu that tasted like (and had the texture of) feta cheese. That was probably the moment I knew I needed to opening up to the idea of using different vegan proteins. To be honest, I had preconceived notions about the texture of tofu, and what it could taste like. Susan blew that all away with this one!
how WE CAN support Flora Foods
If you’re in the Cochrane / Calgary, Alberta area, the obvious (and most delicious) way to support Flora Foods Co is to order from them. They offer the convenience of ordering online, and offer free pickup from Two Pharmacy in Cochrane.
If you’re not in the area, but you’d like to support a small plant-based business trying to do some good in the world… You can share them with friends or family that live in their service area, or by engaging with them on social media! Follow them, like their posts, drop a comment or two, engage with their stories. Won’t take you more than 5 minutes!
I’ve been a vegetarian (and aspiring plant-based eater) for almost 2 years. There was a 3 month period where I exclusively ate a plant-based diet, and I can confidently tell you that Flora Foods has some serious skills in the kitchen. I highly, highly recommend you try them out if you live in the Cochrane, Airdrie or Calgary, AB area. Even if you’re just getting bored and looking for a little inspiration, at a minimum, I would recommend following them on social media! They’re active on both Instagram and Facebook. Happy eating, hippies!
Amber Roy is the founder of The CTRL Lab, a Digital Delegation agency that empowers small business owners and helps them grow a successful business, while promoting a sustainable work/life balance.
She currently lives abroad in southern Italy with her partner, Stefano, where together they continue to build a sustainable life that is rich in Italian culture.