BLOG 2017-04-24T11:59:37+00:00

Up for a #NUChallenge?

2017 has been good to us at NU, and we hope that 2018 will be even better! There is so much that we want to accomplish, from developing our business to growing the zero waste movement in Ottawa and beyond. Our wish is that 2018 be full of joy and positive change!

Positive change is everyone’s responsibility. Your choices matter. When you buy a sustainable product, you send a message to the market that the environment is important to you. You reward businesses that act responsibly and penalize those who don’t, hence creating an incentive for them to change their practices.

We invite you to make 2018 a year of good choices. More specifically, make 2018 your zero waste year! To help you along the way, we are launching the #NUChallenge. This month, we will challenge you to make small zero waste changes and share them with our community on social media.

We published our first challenge today, January 1st: this week, we challenge you not to waste food. Statistics tell us that Canadians throw away 30% of the food they buy. Isn’t that crazy? But YOU are not one of them  !

So tell us what you do with your leftover food. Post a picture or tell us a story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and enter a draw to win one of three $20 NU gift cards. Use the hashtag #NUChallenge and tag your friends!

Every other day, we will publish a new challenge. Each challenge is a chance for you to make little steps towards zero waste and celebrate those steps. We will be cheering!


Got mylk?

We explained and practiced MYLK-making during last week’s workshop.

Got it! Over the past months many of you have asked us to carry non-dairy milk alternatives at the store. The reality is we could, but the shelf life would be extremely short – only up to 3 days – which, we are afraid, would lead to unnecessary food waste. So instead, we encourage you to take matters in your hands (literally) and mylk away!

With the right tool, making your own plant-based milk is super easy. The right tool is a set of Got it! nut milk bags that you can find in our store or online.

But first, why make your own mylk?

It is healthier. The store-bought non-dairy milk has various additives (carrageenan, natural flavors, added vegetable oils, vegetable gums, etc. ) which are easily avoidable when you make it at home. It is affordable. Buy your ingredients in bulk and the rest is free! It is super easy. Just follow the steps below. And of course, it is zero waste. No Tetra Paks and plastic bottles!

What can you mylk?

You can make mylks from pretty much any nuts, seeds, grains and beans. Most common mylks are made of almonds, cashews, soy, rice, oats, flax seeds, hemp seeds, coconut or hazelnut.  All you need is one of these ingredients, water, a blender and a nut milk bag (like this one).

The general rule is to soak your ingredient (nuts / grains / beans / seeds) overnight, drain it, add water, blend it for a minute or two, gently filter with the nut milk bag, mix in a sweetener (optional), transfer to a bottle for storage, enjoy… and use the pulp! Proportions, soaking time, calories and cost vary depending on the choice of ingredient. Here are some of our favorites!


Makes 500 ml of mylk

Proportions: 1 cup raw almonds (before soaking) to 2 cups water
Soaking time: 12+ hours
Calories: 8oo kcal
Cost: around $3.36
Pulp: Dry almond pulp to use in recipes asking for almond flour or almond meal. Mix it into your breakfast for added fiber. Add to smoothies. Make crackers or protein energy balls!

Tips: Add more water for a thinner mylk. Add dates, maple syrup or agave syrup as a sweetener.


Makes 1 liter of mylk

Proportions: 1 cup raw cashews (before soaking) to 4 cups water
Soaking time: 12+ hours
Calories: 6oo kcal
Cost: around $5.39
Pulp: Freeze the pulp and use in recipes asking for cashews (like that yummy raw vegan cheesecake you’ve been meaning to make!). Mix it into your breakfast for added fiber or protein. Add to smoothies. Make protein energy balls.

Tips: Cashews make a very rich and creamy mylk, so add more water for a thinner mylk. Enjoy it chilled!


Makes 750ml of mylk

Proportions: 1 cup raw oats to 3 cups water
Soaking time: 5 minutes (or no soaking at all!)
Calories: 3oo kcal
Cost: around $0.42
Pulp: Keep the pulp to add fiber to your baking. Make oat crackers or dog treats.

Tips: Use any type of oats (quick or large flakes) with the same result. We love to add dark maple syrup to this one!


Makes 1 liter of mylk

Proportions: 1 cup dry soy beans (before soaking) to 5 cup water
Soaking time: 12+ hours (or up to 2 days)
Calories: 83o kcal
Cost: around $0.88
Pulp: Use the pulp (aka ‘okara’) to make vegan soy burger patties: mix one boiled potato with one cup of okara, add salt and your favorite spices (mine are chili flakes) to taste, get creative with other ingredients like finely chopped sauteed onion, mushrooms and spring onions. Make round-shaped patties and shallow-fry them. Freeze a batch for those busy-day quick dinners 😉

Tip #1: Add an extra step of simmering the mylk for anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes to minimize the bean-y and bitter notes in your mylk.

Tip #2: Alternatively, pre-boil your soy beans for 2 minutes instead of soaking overnight, and after blending and filtering, simmer the mylk for only 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

And there you go! Easy, quick and delicious mylk recipes. Want a more hands-on mylk-making experience? Keep an eye out for our future workshops!

Till then,

Sia & Dariya

This year, give the gift of Zero Waste!

December is well on its way, and so are all of our preparations for the holidays! This past weekend we hosted two workshops in-store, presenting a few easy-to-make, zero-waste gift ideas, as well as the different, and environmentally sustainable ways to wrap our gifts.

Madeleine (left) and Julie (right) during our Saturday Zero Waste Gift Ideas workshop.

For those that weren’t able to make it out on Saturday, or for those that were there and want to know our secrets, we’ve put together the recipes of gifts we made during the workshop, and a few more.

Consumable Gifts

Consumable or edible gifts combine thought with convenience. They add a personal touch and are made with ingredients you either have in your cupboard or can find in-store, at NU for example! Here are our three favourites.



1. Chai Spice Simple Syrup 

1 cup white sugar / 1 cup water / 4 cardamom pods / 1 cinnamon stick / 4 whole cloves / ½ tsp black peppercorns / 1 star anise

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the star anise. Bring up to a boil over medium/high heat and then reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the star anise for the last 5 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a sieve, and pour into a jar or bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

We suggest that..

The syrup be used in cocktails, or in place of other sweeteners in coffee or tea, on pancakes, oatmeal, and more! Or, add hot milk for a caffeine-free chai latte! 

Other infusion ideas: dried lavender, earl grey tea, chamomile, rosemary. 

Chai Spice Cocktail

1 oz Chai spice syrup / 1.5 oz alcohol of choice (we recommend bourbon!) / soda water to taste / ice / orange slice

Mix the first four ingredients in a glass. Stir, and garnish with the orange slice. Enjoy!

2. Marbled Fruit & Nut Bark

Had to be quick to snap this picture… those slabs were an instant hit!

Makes ~20 servings (1 piece/serving)

200g white chocolate / 200g dark chocolate / 1 cup roasted almonds (divided in half) / ½ cup dried cranberries (divided in half) / 2 tbsp medium flaked coconut

Melt the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls over pans of simmering water. Remove from heat when the chocolate is almost melted, and stir until fully melted. Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds, leaving some pieces bigger than others. Add half of the almonds and half of the cranberries to each bowl and stir.

Drop spoonfuls of each chocolate mixture in an alternating (checkerboard) pattern onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Swirl gently with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with the coconut and refrigerate for one hour to firm. Then, break into pieces and serve.

Other bark ingredients: whole coffee beans, pecans and dried apricot, cashews and dried cherries, candied ginger, sea salt

3. Spicy Mixed Nuts

Makes 4 cups

2 tablespoons (25 mL) unsalted butter or canola oil / 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder / 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cumin / ½ teaspoon (2 mL) paprika / ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) cayenne pepper / 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt / 1 cup (250 mL) almonds / 1 cup (250 mL) walnuts / 1 cup (250 mL) raw or dry-roasted cashews / 1 cup (250 mL) pecans

Preheat the oven to 350℉ (180℃)

Melt butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spices and cook 30 seconds. Stir in the nuts, toss to coat well. Spread the nuts in 1 layer on the sheet. Bake 8 minutes, Remove from oven and cool completely. Put in tin or jar, keeps for up to two-three weeks.

We suggest that…

You switch up the spice ratios for your preference! Want something spicier? Add more cayenne! Something with more of a ‘BBQ’ taste? Swap out the paprika for a smoked paprika!

Body Care 

Help those you love, show themselves some love! These are our two easiest, most affordable, and easy to adapt recipes for a body scrub and face mask.

1. Coconut Oil and Coffee Ground Scrub

¼ cup of ground coffee / ½ cup of coconut oil

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Once the oil is in liquid form, combine with coffee grounds in separate bowl. Mix oil and grounds together and spoon into jar/bottle. Leave to cool.

*Can also be used as a anti-acne facial scrub by adding either cinnamon, or turmeric (for sensitive skin).

2. Turmeric and Chickpea Flour Facial Scrub

1 part ground turmeric / 1 part chickpea flour

Whisk the ground turmeric and chickpea flour together in a bowl, until the mixture is one uniform colour.  Transfer the mixture to a container or jar.

When ready to use, pour about 2 tsp of the mixture into the palm of your hand. With the fingers of your other hand, drip water onto the mixture, until it can be mixed into a paste. Apply the paste to your face, and exfoliate in a circular motion for 5-10 mins. Rinse with warm water.

Well, that’s all we have for now!

For those of us that might not be in the mood to do-it-ourselves, don’t worry – there are endless ways to give gifts that create zero-waste.  Sticking to anything handmade, or locally-sourced are terrific starting points for more sustainable gift-giving.

My favourite zero-waste gift is giving the gift of an experience. Anything from tickets to a play or sporting event, enrolment in a workshop, a membership at a studio or a pass to a museum – giving an experience creates zero waste, and is an easy, enjoyable, and personal gift.

Even as we are all embarking on our zero-waste journeys, we need to remember that consciously approaching Christmas doesn’t mean not giving presents. Rather, just thinking about what we’re giving, and where it will end up after it is unwrapped.

While doing so will involve a little more time for thought, it adds so much more personality to gifts and thoughtfulness to the busy-mess that can be the holiday season.

Happy gifting!

Julie Lopez

Take a virtual tour

Haven’t been to the store yet? There’s no better time to visit than now, because we’re adding products every day. In the meantime, take a virtual tour!

Take part in our #NoExcuseForSingleUse campaign!

In 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. WE WILL NOT LET THAT HAPPEN!

This month, we’ve decided to wage a war against single-use plastic items. So every second day, a Team NU member will take on ONE single-use plastic item to show that in most cases, there is simply no excuse for single use. Watch out for these 25 second clips posted on our social media accounts!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @nugrocery and help us spread the message. Like, share, comment, tweet, retweet, post and repost so this campaign reaches people who are not yet “users of reusables”.

We also want to hear from you! Share your favourite reusable and tell us your stories using the hashtag #NoExcuseForSingleUse.

This week, we’re taking on some of the most prevalent single-use items: the plastic bag, the to go coffee cup and the plastic water bottle. The numbers are staggering. Worldwide, we throw away one million plastic bags a minute. Estimates for single-use coffee cups in landfills are in the hundreds of billions per year. Only 20% of the 480 billion plastic drinking bottles that are produced every year make it to recycling – the rest ends up in landfills, incinerators, or our oceans.

The sad part is that all this waste is easy to prevent. Three magic letters: BYO. Bring your own reusable bag, cup, or bottle. Options are available. Every supermarket or department store sells reusable bags, cups and bottles. We do too, of course, and invite you to check out the “on the go” section of our online store. 🙂

There truly is #NoExcuseForSingleUse.


Can Halloween be Zero-Waste?

It’s Halloween! Gaggles of trick-or-treating kids in shiny costumes will soon roam our streets. We will stock up on wrapped candies and decorate our doorsteps with carved pumpkins and scary props. These traditions are loads of fun, but create a scary amount of waste. In the US for example, 33 million pounds of costume waste will be sent to landfill this year alone.

Breaking traditions and reinventing habits can be challenging, and truth be told, the only zero-waste Halloween is one that isn’t celebrated. Since that isn’t any fun, instead of opting out of Halloween, we’re opting for a less wasteful Halloween.


Providing zero-waste treats asks for more thoughtful purchasing because, for valid safety reasons, Health Canada recommends that we either refuse or throw out anything that is homemade or that isn’t commercially wrapped. That means that our great zero-waste idea of buying candy in bulk and putting them into small paper bags is thrown out the window. Our treats would probably end up in the garbage.

Thankfully, we do have a few sustainable options for our trick or treaters. Opting for candies that are packaged in boxes (Smarties, Dots, Nerds, Reese’s Pieces, Junior Mints, etc.) or those wrapped in foil (Hershey’s Kisses, Chocolate Coins, Chocolate pumpkins, etc.) make it possible to tap into the fourth R, and recycle our packaging.

The second R, reduce, shouldn’t be overlooked either. After all, you are in control of the amount of candies you give out. Pace yourself! Reduce waste by simply giving out less.

Costumes and Decorations

Zero-waste costumes and decorations are a little easier to approach than treats, and are the time for our creativity to shine while tuning into the first and second Rs, which are to refuse and reuse.

Wearing what we already have or borrowing from others is the ideal way to dress up, but if we’re short on options, buying second-hand is another way to consciously approach Halloween costumes. Whether it be from second-hand, thrift or vintage shops, this kind of purchasing will get our creative juices flowing and give a second life to our clothes.

We might have purchased plastic or synthetic decorations in the past, but reducing our waste doesn’t mean we throw those away! Using the second R, we will be reusing our old decorations.

If we don’t have decorations already, opting for real pumpkins, or using leaves, twigs and grasses are easy, inexpensive and less wasteful ways to decorate. Using compostable items to decorate means that after the 31st we can take our pumpkins to use in our kitchen, or let them rot in the compost with the rest.

Let’s all do our part and put a sustainable twist on traditions!

For other zero-waste ideas, check out these blogs:

What About Halloween, Bea Johnson.

Go Ghoulishly Green,  Leigh.

Zero Waste Holiday: Tips for a Green Halloween, Catherine.


Julie Lopez



Halloween Food Safety, Health Canada.