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.

How to Overcome FOMO with Quinoa

I think my entire generation suffers from a malignant case of FOMO. And I’m no exception.

It’s nearly impossible for me to commit to plans. When my friends text me about their breakup I’m back and forth with them for hours, but when they message me on a Friday night my response is usually 10 minute long “…” followed by 2 hours of silence.

So it’s not a suprise that this past weekend it took everything I had to escape Toronto’s busy social calendar (we pack a lot into these two months of sunshine) and head for the country.

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It was worth it.

Despite all that my city has to offer, a lot can be said for a little sometimes.

So often we are overcome by stress and anxiety  simply because we try to do and feel all the things, to be everywhere all at once. Paring down – on your to-do list, your social calendar, even what’s on your plate – can be just what you need to pull yourself back together.

Simple Quinoa Bowl. 

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Ingredients:
(serves 2)

Mixed organic greens
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 large chopped raw beet
1/4 cup hummus
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
balsamic and olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:

1. Fill 2 bowls with greens followed by 1/2 cup chickpeas and quinoa
2. Top with chopped and a dollop of hummus (store bought or homemade)
3. Drizzle with dressing and a sprinkle of salt
4. Enjoy.

 

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WHY BOTHER TO “DIY”?: LIFE SKILLS, YOU DUMMY!

As Jane Eyre once said, “the the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I couldn’t agree more.

Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane Eyre in 1996

Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane Eyre in 1996

The benefits “doing it yourself” (aka DIY) go far beyond the 90s grunge/punk aesthetic (although that may have been what got me interested in the first place), it is positively life affirming.

WHY SHOULD YOU BOTHER WITH DIY? 

  1. You provide for yourself.
    As a young Gen-Y urbanite, we are constantly confronted with our lack of life skills. But being brought up in a world of coddling and convenience makes providing for ourselves all the more satisfying. Enter every young hipster male’s obsession with curing meats & fermenting or hipster female’s affection for knitting circles and terrarium maintenance.
  2. You get creative. Okay, that novel you wrote in grade 12 might not be so great after all. And your career as a freelance photographer has turned out to be more weddings and bar mitzvahs than artsy analog collages. But you gotta eat. So you might as well channel some of that pent up creative energy to a place where it will finally be appreciated…your belly.
  3. It’s meditative. Nothing says “quiet mind” like rolling out tiny balls of healthy cookie dough.
  4. It’s cheap. Nothing grinds my gears more than overpaying for granola I could have whipped up in the kitchen in 20 minutes. And the store bought stuff won’t make your kitchen smell like honey and coconut.
  5. It’s proactive. You can make decisions about what you WANT to put in your body rather than focusing on what you’d rather avoid. No dairy? Low sodium? Sugar-free? Gluten-free? Suddenly those terms melt away and all that’s left is the foods you can enjoy and the incredible things you can do with those ingredients.

All of this brings me to the main point which is…this garlic scape pesto.

Now you know who makes a good pesto? President’s Choice. (<— Canadian grocery store brand). You know who else makes even better pesto? The local, organic farmer’s co-op near my house. Vegan kale pesto in fact. It’s not even that expensive. But this week I took the time to use seasonal ingredients to make something delicious and healthy for myself. And the results were pretty perfect.

Glowing Green Garlic Scape Pesto (V) 
Adapted from here

Garlic Scape Pesto

INGREDIENTS

1 cup finely chopped garlic scapes (or 2/3 cup finely chopped chives, plus 1/3 cup finely chopped garlic)
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Pulse garlic scapes, oil, nutritional yeast, and cashews in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.

Yield: about 1.5 cups. If you like, freeze half the batch in an ice cube tray so you can use it to add flavour to your sauces, pastas and salads all summer long

 

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. 

 

 

Another day, another bowl of oatmeal.

I’m not sure about you, but I think I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m no longer settling on my morning bowl oatmeal. It’s what I truly crave. And I’m okay with that.

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Of course I knew my days of corn pops, toaster strudels and nutella spoons for breakfast were long gone. I was comfortable letting that go. But so too are my days of the greasy hangover breakfasts. Pardon me if my eggs these days are poached, not fried. I’m not afraid who knows it. And while we’re on the subject of all things poached, has anyone else started feeling like brunch lines these are just too arduous to bear? And rarely worth the effort? “I’ll make my eggs at home, thank you very much. And mine will have a perfect yolk every time.”

So yes today is just another day. But it’s also the day I encourage you to wake up and smell the French Press, in the kitchen you no longer have to apologize for when people walk in your apartment. Today is the day to own your adulthood. To stop apologizing for being “lame” or “old” just because you’ve mastered the art of taking care of yourself.

Simple Summer Oats: 

1/2 cup oats
1/2 sliced banana
tbsp of each: coconut, goji berries & chia seeds
drizzle of almond butter & raw honey
dollop of greek yogurt 

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So yes…I am eating oatmeal for breakfast. And not because I’m on a “health kick” or a “detox.” For no reason other than that I woke up jonesing for it.

Loving Lately: November Edition

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Feeling curmudgeonly? Got a case of the post-halloween, pre-christmas blues?

Well never fear…Here’s a bunch of awesome stuff to help ease your early onset winter blahs.

1) THIS BACON: Vegan, coconut-based, gluten-free and generally mind blowing with its double whammy of delicious good-for-you-ness. If this is available in your hood I highly suggest buying it and adding it to everything you eat.

2) THIS INSTAGRAM: Okay maybe some of you already read @deliciouslyella but I’m obvz late to the party. While her blog is very lovely, I was totally inspired by her instagram feed full of these super tasty looking rainbow bowls. Since I almost exclusively eat my meals in thrown together bowl-form, I often forget about how important it is to appreciate each ingredient separately. Ever since seeing these beauty’s on Ella’s site, I’ve been putting in just a little extra time with my meal prep and the results have been glorious!

RAINBOW BOWL OF HEAVEN

3) MORE READS, LESS SCREENS. My new favourite thing is abandoning my phone and computer in the living room and keeping my room as a lady-cave of blankets, tea and solitude. Keeping me company right now is this fantastic new book by Dave Eggers.

4) MUSIC ALL THE TIME. My good pal turned me onto RDIO and I’m obsessed. Its basically Netflix for music so I can listen to new streaming music all the time without feeling like a bad person. Currently blaring: Haim, Arcade Fire, Lorde and FKA TWIGS, July Talk and DIANA.

5) THIS TOQUE. Note: not a “beanie.”

I’m obsessed with it and wear it everyday so I don’t have to brush my hair til spring basically. Yeee! :)

That’s all for the moment…what are y’all lovin lately?

 

 

Everyday Self Care

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to best take care of myself. I honestly have no idea whether or not Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts me, but as I get older I almost always contract a case of Weather-Related-Bailing-Disorder. Otherwise known as spinster hibernation.

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Anyways I was reading this article by Kris Carr the other day and one paragraph really stood out to me. She said that every time she found herself not knowing what to do in a situation this is what she would think about:

…Brian, my sweet hubby. I put him in the situation I’m facing, and think of what advice I’d give him. Say it’s 2pm, I have a few deadlines that I absolutely have to meet still to go, but I’m beat. There’s no gas left in the tank. If Brian told me this, I’d say, “take a 20-minute nap, and when you wake up I’ll make you some tea.” Voila, my action plan is born!

So first of all I thought this was great advice and second of all I was mildly horrified. I want to be caring and compassionate as a partner, friend and caregiver but I don’t want to forget how to take care of myself first. And I think it’s important that you remember how to take care of yourself on a daily basis, when you’re in need and even when you just want a little treat.

So I made some lists. Working drafts. Of ways I’d like to take care of myself. The advice I am giving myself in advance.

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Okay I know this is a bit goofy. But it felt really great to write down. And I know teeth brushing seems like an odd one but its such a small and manageable form of self-care that I like to include it. :)

What would you put on your lists?

Autumn Eats

 

I’m already nostalgic for fall.

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I’ve always said October is the greatest (my birthday, pumpkin pie AND halloween all in one month? no competition!) and this year was no exception. So far I’ve traveled to rural Pennsylvania to catch my first college football game (y’all are crazy), spent some time in the wilderness hiking through the changing leaves and even flew to NYC for a weekend of art, food and moderate debauchery…more on that soon.

Anyhow in honour of my tender feelings towards my very favourite month I thought I would post a recipe starring the official ingredient of autumn…PUMPKIN!

This simple recipe is perfect to whip up on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy for lunches or quick dinners throughout week.

Turkey, white bean and pumpkin stew

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium diced white onion
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 diced celery stalks
  • 1 package lean ground turkey (could sub for 1 block of  tempeh, grated)
  • 1.5 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • sage and thyme 
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Sautee onions, garlic and celery in olive oil on medium heat until just soft.
  2. Add ground turkey and cook until just brown, draining if necessary.
  3. Add in beans, pumpkin, spices and veggie broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmering.
  4. Simmer everything together for about 30 minutes or until the broth is thick.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Enjoy!

Seedy Sunflower Hummus

In my opinion, the ideal Sunday is spent wasted entirely.

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Today was almost perfectly that. It was a sleep in, watch Coronation Street, wear wooly socks for the first time all season, drink 3 cups of green tea, chat with my grandmother, listen to Sarah McLachlan, read my own tarot and make my own chickpea-spread kind of day. The dream, no? And while I can’t share with you the joys of my day…I can share the fruits of my labour.

Seedy Sunflower Hummus

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked from scratch
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp tamari 
  • 1 tbsp olive or flax oil

Directions

  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor til smooth and creamy.
  2. Add water if you need to until you reach the right consistency.
  3. Eat it with a spoon. Repeat all week.

Oh…and in case your wondering…the chariot signifies mastery and triumph which i choose to interpret as my success in hummus and in life.

September Circuit Workout

Jeez, pals. Is it September already? Time sure flies when you’re working full time, taking care of house and home (aka. the dumpy rental that you take way too much pride in), managing your waning late-20′s attempt at a social life and striving to continue living that enviably healthful life you used to blog about.

Well needless to say, keeping it all together has been…well… a challenge.

But it’s the new school year (#illnevergrowup) and I’m sure – like me – you’re hoping to kick it off right. No impossible to manage workout regime, no detox plan, just whole foods, consistent workouts and (if you can manage it) some positive self-talk.

Looking for a little inspiration today? Check out my first CIRCUIT WORKOUT of the month. I find circuits to be super manageable and empowering. They are bodyweight focused, whole body workouts and only take about a half hour to complete. Feel free to adapt and modify it to suit your needs and let me know how you like it!

HERE GOES…

September Circuit Workout

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