Eating out on weekends: 80/20 Redux

For most city dwellers eating at restaurants is a daily practice. Most people don’t want to rush out of the house in the morning lugging a bpa-free Tupperware of lentil salad with pockets full of cashews and a bamboo fork in their purse. For me, these things are a comfort. I love feeling prepared for my day and a big part of that is knowing that my nutrition is covered and I don’t have to rely on others for healthy, inexpensive food.

That said, on the weekends I think it’s important to release my micromanaging tendencies and let someone else do the cooking for a change.

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There are so many benefits to eating out now and again, either at a friends house or your favourite neighborhood takeout spot. There’s nothing like taking a bite into something you didn’t prepare and having the flavours be a complete suprise to your palette. It’s also a great way to enhance the meals you eat day to day, by inspiring you to enjoy new ingredients and combinations. Mostly its good for your mental health and happiness to vary your routine now and then. After all, diversity is the tastiest spice.

This past weekend I had the chance to try a few spots in Roncesvalles -one of my favourite Toronto neighborhoods. The first was La Cubana, a sweet Cuban restaurant with a 50s diner vibe and the best lighting in the city. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a grapefruit and avocado salad with a side of coconut shrimp. Heaven. Next time I definitely want to try one of the platters with rice beans slaw and spicy fish.

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I also got to try one of Toronto’s best polish restaurants called Cafe Polonez. Apparently this place is so good it’s attracted the likes of Anthony Bordain. Obviously I ordered the Borscht, which was served ice cold on a hot day with an egg on top and baked potato on the side. Filling, delicious and hot pink.

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While some people may believe in the 80/20 rule when it comes to healthy eating, I’m not totally convinced. I’d prefer not to label food as good or bad unless it’s past it’s expiry date. But I think it’s a great approach to eating out! Making the majority of your meals in your own kitchen is cheap, rewarding and delicious, but grabbing tacos with a pal on a Saturday afternoon is a simple luxury that you well deserve.

PROUD.

Every year Toronto hosts a pretty spectacular pride parade (I posted about it here way back in 2011) but this year we were given the task of hosting World Pride and let me tell you this city has been AMPED. This morning I drank my breakfast and booked it across town to participate in a little of what the day had to offer.

Green apple, spinach, cucumber smoothie topped with homemade cashew coconut granola.

Green apple, spinach, cucumber smoothie topped with homemade cashew coconut granola.

By all accounts, taking our already momentous parade “global,” shouldn’t have been that big a deal. It mostly meant jamming our subways, bars & beer gardens criminally over capacity & hearing maybe 6 or 7 global languages whilst walking down the street rather than the usual say 4 or 5. But  it has been a big deal.

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I’m going to venture a guess and say that pride isn’t something folks outside the queer community think about very often. And, when it does come up, it’s probably thought of as a vice not a virtue. Humbleness is just more acceptable in our culture than pridefulness. We are constantly enabling each other to deprecate, deny and devalue ourselves in fear of public scrutiny.

 

World pride this year has meant a lot of things to a lot of different people, but I think for a lot of people it’s meant the chance to not just witness Pride but to actually appreciate the purpose behind the events, and the value of appreciating oneself – of feeling worthy, loved and accepted.

So today’s healthy tidbit isn’t the recipe for my smoothie (I promise I’ll post that someday soon), it’s that little piece of advice. Take a moment to be proud of yourself, your assets and your accomplishments in any way you like. Treat yourself. Spend the night in flipping through old photos (without judgement). Dedicate your freakin yoga practice to yourself, I don’t care. But feel proud, baby because YOU. ARE. FABULOUS. 

 

 

Healthy Hipster Holiday Gift Guide 2012

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It’s no secret that holiday shopping can be stressful no matter who you’re buying for. But when you’re hunting for hipster-friendly fare this process can become downright panic-attack-inducing…

“They already judge me so harshly,” you will cry. “Will they be able to mask their disdain if I buy them something lame?”

And I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the answer is no.

Upon receiving that edition of Sh&% Girls Say: The Book or that package of magnetic poetry or that Instagram-Filter-Shaped Picture Frame you found at urban outfitters and thought was SO THEM, they will be absolutely incapable of acting like a normal grateful human being. They will say or do something douchey. Guaranteed.

So…in order to avoid such catastrophic Christmas mornings….To give both you and your Ativan a break…Here goes my list of suggestions for the Healthy Hipster in your life.

Unique & Non-Lame Gift Ideas for the Hip and Healthy Urbanite

Things in a stocking

Wool Socks
Loose Leaf Tea & a Bodum Mug

Bottlehook Key Chain

DIY Things

Stamps and Ink
Yarn and Knitting Needles
Cross Stitch Patterns

Tasty Things

High percentage dark chocolate
Whole nuts with a metal cracker
Preserves (check your local farmers market!)

Things they can wear

Moccasins
Black North Face Fleece
Geometric Jewellery

Tshirts or other swag from local businesses in their neighborhood (check out bars/restaurants/coffee shops/libraries)

Things you can make for cheap (and probably put in a mason jar!)

DIY Terrarium Gift Kit



Homemade Granola

Whipped Coconut Body Butter

Hope you enjoy the tips, pals!
Any additions? What’s on your list this year?

Garden Parties & Gallivanting

I wasn’t sure how I to begin talking about the beauty I experienced this long weekend. How rejuvenated and inspired I feel this evening, in the afterglow. How happy I was to spend it with old friends & new. I was so overcome with happiness and joy I was just going to avoid posting about it at altogether, but instead chose to share just a few of the things I did…in black & white…because things always look more special and important that way.

I ate al fresco on my rooftop & enjoyed meals with friends.


Got creative in the kitchen with this spelt berry & watermelon salad I’ll be sharing the recipe for tomorrow.

Got up to no good in the nighttime and walked home giggling with my neighborhood pals in the early hours of the next morning.

To celebrate Canada Day I attended a Garden party at the Spadina Historical House.


There was fresh ice cream being churned…

And homemade pie to match.

My friends and I spent hours slowly make our way through the grounds…”moseying” I think we called it, or perhaps we were “lollygagging”?

At the end of the afternoon we were told to make one of these bird ornaments to hang from a tree as we left – with a single wish written on the side. This is what I wrote…

Here’s hoping your weekend – long or short – left you joyful and happy as well.

July always feels rich with possibilities and I for one am eager to see where the month will lead!

Love Muffins

It’s no secret that I’m a breakfast person. Almost compulsively so. I jump out of bed in the morning and usually have a piece of banana or a fistful of cereal in my mouth before my iphone alarm has finished its first strum.

But I realized a few days back though that while I’m always posting ideas for 5 minute breakfasts like my gluten-free egg and avocado wraps, tofu scrambles, green smoothies and oatmeal bowls, I virtually never mention my favourite grab and go morning meal: MUFFINS!

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Back in university I was all about the bagel and cream cheese breakfast but these days when I want to grab something on the run reach for a vegan, high fibre, whole grain muffin smeared with earth balance or almond butter. It’s basically cake-for-breakfast but in like a socially acceptable grown-up way.

So when I had the opportunity a few weeks back to taste a whole range of vegan baked goods prepared by Lesley Black, owner of the Love Muffin Bakery, I was more than a little excited.

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The Love Muffin Bakery delivers vegan and gluten free baked goods made with high quality, healthful ingredients right to your doorstep (free delivery in many areas within the downtown Toronto core). Vegan muffins are prepared using almond milk and applesauce to cut down on processed oils and lightly sweetened with agave.  

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Lesley is the cute-as-a-button baker putting the Love into Love Muffins.

I had the chance to try the gluten free apple cinnamon muffins, peanut butter squares, double chocolate oatmeal cookies and a banana chocolate chip muffin loaf.

The verdict?

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While I enjoyed all of the goodies, for me the vegan banana chocolate chip loaf was the superstar of the bunch. It was moist like banana bread and fluffy like a muffin, with an ingredient list so simple it made me wonder whether or not Lesley might dabble in the dark arts. If you’re craving something small and decadent, the double chocolate chip oatmeal cookies were also a delicious alternative to those highly processed, sugar-laden cake pops or two-bite brownies. The only treat that got mixed reviews was the gluten-free apple muffin which I asked a few of my wheat-sensitive pals to taste test for quality control. We all enjoyed the flavor but found the texture a little crumbly when compared to the perfection of the banana chocolate loaf. So I’d definitely suggest sticking with the standard muffins if you aren’t strictly gluten-free.

Thanks so much to Lesley for letting me try her stuff! If you live in the Toronto area I highly recommend you make an order and try out these treats for yourself. I’d love to hear what you think. Order online at The Love Muffin Bakery.Com

Are you a young chef/baker/fitness expert/artist/entrepreneur who’d like your business featured on The Healthy Hipster? Get in touch on twitter @healthy_hipster or by email at healthyhipster@gmail.com.

Get to Know a Healthy Hipster (Couples Edition): Alexis & Zane

You are so lucky to get this extra special edition of G2KaHH highlighting some lovely friends of mine from back in my days living in Eastern Canada. Alexis is a fellow blogger over at Domestic Bliss and trust me when I say homegirl knows how to homemake. As for Zane he recently turned his passion for coffee-slinging into his livelihood when he opened his cafe Two if By Sea!
Photo by Ted Power
Names: Alexis & Zane
Location: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
How would you describe your style of eating?
We try to eat as much WHOLE local foods possible. Nothing gets us more excited than eating seasonally, and thankfully Nova Scotian farmers produce some incredible fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat. The local food movement is pretty strong here so it’s quite easy to do most of my grocery shopping at our farmers markets. We also love gardening and try to grow as much of our own produce as possible.

What are some of the must haves in your fridge/pantry?
Brown rice, quinoa, lots of seeds and nuts, goat cheese, my favourite local cheese “Old Growler” by That Dutchman, leafy greens, lemons, an assortment of oils and vinegars, and homemade preserves.
Alexis’ Homemade Oatcakes

Favourite local bar?
Alexis: Well I’m currently about 7 months pregnant so a club soda mixed with bitters or rhubarb syrup is as wild as I get right now, but usually I would indulge in some of Jeff Van Horne’s cocktails at the Bicycle Thief or tuesday nights at Untitled Eats. Obladee is another favourite which I still enjoy because of their fantastic cheese and charcuterie selection.

You’re on death row, whats your last supper?
Alexis: Can we assume Zane is cooking? If so, maybe some pork chops, risotto and seasonal vegetables. Or maybe his famous baked ziti.
Most played song on your ipod?
Probably something Motown.

Life goals and aspirations for this soon-to-be family of three?

Two if by Sea Cafe is currently being considered for an entrepreneurship award that would allow them to expand and open an ethical roastery right in Nova Scotia! Check out this video to hear all about their plans and then click here to vote for the project!

Hipsters with ambition? They may be a rare breed but they’re out there so show your support!

The Urban Locavore: Austin Farmers Do it Right

When people ask me why I identify as a flexitarian my first response is usually to say I have commitment issues. Then I laugh and follow up by adding that, in general, I find a diet that emphasizes option and choice far more appealing than one that focuses on restriction and intolerance.

That said, on my recent visit to the Austin Farmer’s Market I was dying for ways to narrow down my options because I was utterly spoiled for choice. Everything I saw – from the dark chocolate covered cacao beans to the honeydew kombucha – seemed to jive perfectly with my food politics. Organic? Sure. Sustainable? Yup. Affordable? Uh-huh. Ethically produced? Why even ask.

The real kicker for me was that on top of all that, everything was local. More often than not this is determining factor for me and the fact that everyone here just took it for granted blew me away. I mean its the middle of January and for a Canadian gal like me local produce in the winter is a total novelty (unless you’re really into burdock root and turnips…) So when I saw this local produce tasting table I knew I was up for something really special.

Once I’d had my fill of free tastes (and more pickled beets than I’d like to admit) I moved on to the prepared food stands because it was 11 o’clock and obviously time for my favourite meal of the day…Second breakfast.

The first stand that caught my eye was Dai Due.

I was immediately drawn to their locavore philosophy:

Dai Due was created to reconsider what “our” food is and will be.  By using  ingredients that are present in our region, we are able to serve foods that are fresher, buy food that is produced in a fair and equitable way, pay homage to the local culinary traditions, and support farmers and ranchers who are striving to improve the quality of our food.

And of course the food looked incredible…

Did I mention that Dai Due also offers seasonal hunting schools (including one geared specifically to women – !!!) in case you want to seriously walk the walk when it comes to the business of eating locally sourced, ethical meat.

Since they were out of many of their breakfast items I moseyed along and ended up choosing 2 unique sounding vegan dishes to curb my mid-morning appetite: a BBQ Tempeh Breakfast Taco and a spicy cactus tamale.

My BBQ Tempeh Breakfast Taco (left) & Cactus Tamale (right) alongside two mandatory varieties of hot sauce

I may never eat another tamale again for fear it would taint the memory of this masa.

Obviously I am so glad I got to check this market out while I was here in Austin. I left feeling happy, inspired and…ahem…totally stuffed. 😉

What are the factors that influence your food choices (local, organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, animal-free, etc.)?  Are you more influenced by what you do want to eat or what you don’t?

Savoury Apple Dijon & Kale Cornbread

As we are currently enjoying in the last days of autumn here in Southern Ontario the farmers markets have been packed to the brim with harvest vegetables. As a result I have been subsisting on almost entirely on skillets full of leafy greens, beets, winter squash, sweet potatoes and apple…probably with some kind of poached egg on top.

So today I figured why not harness some of these autumn flavours and make the transition from skillet-full-of-delicious to baked-good-full-of-delicious? Which brings me to this slightly unconventional cornbread….

Apple Dijon & Kale Cornbread (Gluten-Free)

A play on this recipe from the Edible Perspective

Do not be afraid of the different flours in this mix. Masa harina is inexpensive and readily available at Latin American grocery stores or in the international foods section of  major chains (I found my bag at Wal-Mart…wait…forget I told you that). And you can swap the buckwheat flour for whole wheat if you like.

  • 1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour, ground in a coffee grinder from raw buckwheat groats (can sub for whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup masa harina or corn flour
  • 1 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened nut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp  fine grain sea salt (I used seasoned herbamare)
  • 1 tbsp mixed herb salt-free spice (like spike, mrs. dash, etc., or use your own combination of savoury herbs)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1.5 cups finely shredded kale leaves (cut from stems)
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir until mixed thoroughly.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry bowl and mix with a large spoon until just combined.  The dough will be thick.
  5. Scrape the dough out into a well greased 9  inch pan or cast iron skillet. Push dough to the edges with spatula.
  6. Bake for 30-35min, and test with a toothpick. The top should be golden brown + cracked, which the edges being slightly darker.
  7. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely (30 mins or so) before cutting.  The cornbread will have the best texture once fully cooled.
Enjoy it with a piping hot bowl of chili, squash soup or (my personal fave) toasted up under two perfectly poached eggs.

PARTY LOCAL.

Hey folks –

Sorry for the mini hiatus but it was birthday week in these parts and I have been busy PARTYING MY FACE OFF.

whatever maybe that was me partying my face off when I was 4…

Here’s a rundown of what the party really looked like this year…as I celebrated my 25th:

  • Bought 2 grey autumn sweaters with my mum (this and this)
  • Picked up an incredible pair of hiking boots at Mountain Equipment Co-Op – courtesy of the backwoods ranger (aka. my mom’s partner in crime)
  • Drank a few too many whisky sodas at the Holy Oak, one of my favourite little cafe/bar combos out on Bloor St. West

Photo Source: Blog TO

  • Ate delicious trail mix birthday cookies from Cool Hand of a Girl thanks to the Magical Megginz
  • Enjoyed a locally sourced birthday dinner at the Keriwa Cafe. I will review this restaurant soon but let’s just say it couldn’t have been more Healthy Hipster approved. They had birch on the walls and bannock bread on the menu. It was simply beyond.

Photo Credit: Toronto Life

MacIvor still gives me chills.

It was a show called His Greatness, about Tennessee Williams living in 1980s Vancouver. These tickets were courtesy of my pops, whattaguy!

A Young Tennessee Williams: Sass & Swagger

  • I also got to enjoy a delicious birthday brunch at Zocalo, a foodie hotspot in the Junction Triangle I’ve been meaning to try for ages. (A friend tried to explain where precisely the J.T. is but don’t ask me to explain…I let him lead the way. I like the feeling of not knowing where to go until I get there)

Photo Source: Blog TO

In Sum: I spent the day with the friends and family I love, supporting the businesses, restaurants and artists that make my community so wonderful. Sure I do these things every day, but on my birthday it felt special. Simple. But it suited me.
How do you like to celebrate your birthday? Home Cooking or Restaurants? Do you like to go adventuring or do you enjoy staying local?  

EAT/ART/REPEAT

Today was one of those Saturdays when I left the house with no plan at all, but by the end of the day I realized I spent it doing just what I wanted.

Grabbed lunch at one of my favourite West end haunts, Cafe Bernate.

My standard order...Bernate Salad with chicken and a side of crusty bread

Dark roast coffee + steamed almond milk + REFILLS. Bad news.

Then I made my way further west to Trinity Bellwoods Park to check out the events of the day which just happened to be the…

Lucky me!

The park served as the perfect canvas for all the lovely art pieces on display, with a bright blue sky and autumn leaves as far as the eye could see.

Everyone was lying around being stupidly adorable…And there were babies and puppies galore!

I didn’t want to be that guy taking photos of all the art, but I couldn’t help snapping a shot of these adorable little terrariums by local artist Jessie Trott.

Stopped in for some more caffeine and sustenance at a little organic food stand school bus.

munched on one of these baseball-sized banana apricot oat cookies. Wholesome sugar free nommm...

Sometimes nothing beats an adventure in your very own neighborhood to start the weekend off right!