Janet Podleski & I.

On the weekend of Oct 3rd – 5th 2014, I had the pleasure of being involved with What’s Cooking Bracebridge – a three day culinary event in the heart of Muskoka.

Cooking demos, gala dinners, celebrity chefs, keynotes, screenings of Julie & Julia, cookbook signings, celebrity chef hosted brunches, family cupcake decorating and more!  It was a huge three day success for Bracebridge, and I was lucky enough (and honoured) to be part of What’s Cooking Bracebridge – The Great Muskoka Cookbook Adventure since (almost) its conception.

Our committee took on various roles during the weekend to bring What’s Cooking Bracebridge to the “table”.  We all spent the weekend sporting our favourite aprons at events across Bracebridge – it was awesome!  A dedicated and hard working team of people I was (and still am) thrilled to be a part of.

One of the many roles I took on for the weekend was preparing almost 100 boxed lunches for Janet Podleski’s keynote: “Eat, Shrink & Be Merry.”

My boxed lunch included:

*Whole Grain Wrap with Pumpkin Hummus, Roasted Turkey, Grated Carrot, Muskoka Four Season Greens & Dried Bala Cranberries

*Chocolate Coconut Chia Energy Truffle

*Rosemary Citrus Candied Nuts

*Ontario McIntosh Apple.

Although I have cooked for literally thousands of people in my almost two decades working in the food industry, I can safely say, this may have been one of the most satisfying.  You see, one of the reasons why I truly enjoy cooking for people is because I am the type of person who needs reassurance.  With cooking, you know instantly if you were/are good enough.  As the boxed lunches went out, and my nerves set in, within seconds I heard the moaning and groaning I long for as a chef.  “They like it!” I squealed inside, as a massive grin took over my face.  Folks were putting down their napkins only a few bites in, and getting up from their seats to tell me how much they loved the boxed lunch.

Nothing in this world brings me more joy than feeding people.  It is something I have loved to do since I was ten.  If you know me personally, you will know how truly blessed I feel to do what I love.  The real icing on the cake, not for my ego, but for my soul – is having people love, appreciate and be inspired by what I do.


Just some of the many boxed lunches – ready to be gobbled up.

Here are two of the recipes from the boxed lunch that I have been asked for.

From my Happy, Healthy Kitchen to Yours, Enjoy!

Chocolate Coconut Chia Energy Truffles 

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these good-for-you and easy to prepare bites.

1 cup (250 mL) each; raw unsalted almonds; large flake sweetened coconut and dark (or semi sweet) chocolate chips

1/2 cup (125 mL) large flake rolled oats OR quinoa flakes

3 tbsp (45 mL) each; chia seeds; hemp seeds and ground flax seed

1/2 cup (125 mL) liquid honey

2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pure coconut extract

*extra shredded coconut and almonds for garnish

Place almonds, coconut, chocolate and oats in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixture comes together and starts to form a ball.  Roll mixture evenly into balls – just a bit smaller than a golf ball (should yield approx 16 “truffles”).  Roll each truffle in shredded coconut to coat and gently press an almond in the top of each.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Pumpkin Hummus

Enjoy all the festive flavours of autumn with this tasty and healthy dip.

1 can (540 mL/19 oz) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup (250 mL) pure pumpkin puree (*not pumpkin pie filling)

2 tsp (10 mL) each; minced garlic and minced fresh ginger

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice

1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil

*dried cranberries and green pumpkin seeds for garnish

Place beans in bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped. Add pumpkin puree, garlic, ginger, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pulse until mixture is well combined, scraping down sides of bowl when needed. With motor running, drizzle in orange juice and olive oil and pulse until very smooth. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To serve; place hummus in serving dish (*for a festive flare: hollow out a very small pie pumpkin and use as a serving “dish”) and garnish with chopped cranberries and pumpkin seeds.  Serve with crackers, toasted pita wedges and veggie sticks. *Makes a delicious leftover turkey sandwich spread also.

Makes 3 cups (750 mL).

All recipes written and developed by: Charmaine Broughton www.charmainebroughton.com

Here are some of my favourite highlights from What’s Cooking Bracebridge – The Great Muskoka Cookbook Adventure:


Some of the fabulous attendees enjoying my boxed lunch.


Only one word to describe Anna Olsen: delightful!


So proud of both my boys for helping out! Tyler & I sporting aprons and smiles at What’s Cooking Bracebridge Foodie Fair.


Colgan got right into the What’s Cooking Bracebridge cookbook fun also, his favourite of the weekend: The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie. If you don’t own this book, you should!


Canada’s hottest culinary couple: Stefano Faita & I
#IWish ;)