Monthly Archives

April 2012

cooking tips, recipes

Honey Lemon Tahini Dressing (Aka. Everything Sauce)

I don’t know what it is but I have been obsessed with this dressing lately…and it’s one you’ll have to trust me on. I threw it together one day when a particularly bland meal was begging me for flavour with little regard for the sad state of my fridge contents/condiments. However, I was beyond pleased and found myself recreating this dressing time and time again, dubbing it “Everything Sauce” or…because some people like to know what they’re eating…

Honey Lemon Tahini Dressing


  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (Use fresh or Lakewood Pure Lemon)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey (OR 1-2 tbsp agave OR 1/8 tsp stevia)
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular almond milk with a couple drops of vanilla extract added)


Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree on high until smooth and well combined. Store in a glass jar or plastic container for up to a week. Note: dressing may thicken over time, but you can always thin it out again with a little extra almond milk.

Serving Suggestions

This dressing is absolutely delicious on salads, with tofu and greens in a rice bowl, massaged into raw kale (for about a minute or two until softened) or served as a tangy sauce over chicken or fish. It can also be stirred into a scoop of all natural mayonaise or veganaise then used as a sandwich spread…

Starting to get the “everything” angle?

Do you make your own dressings from scratch?
Is there one you love could eat on everything/possibly by the spoonful? 

budgeting, cities, dinner, restaurants, reviews

TRENDING: Singapore Streetfood at Hawker Bar

If you live in the west end of Toronto and have a pulse you’ve  probably heard some kind of buzz about Hawker Bar, a new addition to the Ossington strip where you can pull up a salvaged wood stool and enjoy Singapore-style street food at reasonable prices while listening to Little Dragon. I know, I know. I had you at salvaged wood.

We chose to order a bunch of things off the menu and share but I was pleasantly suprised that all the portions were a perfectly reasonable size, so you could also opt for a single $12 dish and be totally satisfied.

As we took our sweet time deciding on the perfect order our server offered us some complimentary ginger tea. They’re still working out their liquor licence so it’s all mocktails and tea for the moment, but this didn’t bother me or my date one bit. I mean…cocktails don’t come in teacups this cute.

After a verbal tennis match of possible sharing combinations me and my ladyfriend decided on the vegan laksa, 2 sides of soy broccoli & the sea bream special (who doesn’t love a whole fish on a plate?).

The laksa was pitch perfect in my books, filled with rice noodles, veggies & puffed tofu flavoured with a rich coconut cream (not too much coriander) and enough spice to break an early evening sweat. The sea bream, however, was what really shone for me. It was flaky and tender inside with crispy skin and paired perfectly with the delicious sweet soy sauce that accompanied it. I also asked for a side of sriracha and was pleasantly suprised with a homemade garlic chili sauce that should really come standard with the dish.

I must admit that unlike some of the Toronto foodie hotspots popping up in Roncesvalles lately (which seem to me to be 70% hype 20% inflated prices & 10% hollandaise) this spot actually lived up. Definitely worth checking out during this brief but precious interrum after the peak of Ossington strip fever but before the Queen West Gentrification/Condo Monster has fully taken hold. Get it while you can.

coffee, cooking tips, EAT MORE, restaurants, snacks

Lovely Lunching

I must admit that when it comes to meals, I always pick favourites and breakfast typically wins out.

But for some reason this week I’ve been all about eating/packing/buying big, elaborate lunches.

Happiness is the soup & salad combo at Hibiscus.

The trick for me is that on any given day I crave a massive-bowl-of-salad more than just about anything but even I can find that tiresome after a while. So I’ve been using a few strategies to continue enjoying my salad bowl while also making my midday meal just that little bit more exciting. Here are some of the tactics I’ve come up with so far:

Kale salad with roasted carrots and broccoli, marinated tempeh cubes, toasted pepitas and about 1/2 cup cooked millet. Topped with a simple dressing of tahini, lemon, agave and tamari.

1) Switch up your greens.

Used to light, crunchy romaine? Swap out for a heartier green like collards or kale. Bored of bland spinach? Top it off with a handful of peppery arugula. Personally I’ve been enjoying kale salads like its nobody’s business. The trick with kale is that you need to rub your dressing right onto the leaves with your fingers before eating. Sounds weird but it works!

2) Roast your veggies.

I always forget that I can use roasted veggies in a salad but I never regret it when I do. It’s as easy as making a double (or triple) batch of roasted zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, fennel, broccoli or cauliflower the night before. Then just toss with a little olive or flax oil and seasonings and refrigerate for use the next day.

3) Pump up the flavour of your protein.

Whether you’re topping your salad with tofu, tempeh, tuna, eggs or chicken remember that lean protein sources like these tend to lack in the flavour department…but that’s where you come in! Tandoori Tofu? Barbeque Tempeh? Curried Egg Salad? The options are endless.

4) Don’t skimp on the toppings.

Sure it’s easy to dig into a salad once you’ve got the bare bones together but topping off a salad with toasted nuts and seeds, chopped up fruit, a handful of edamame et. al. will enhance the flavours of the whole meal not to mention adding healthy fats and fibre-loaded fruits that will keep you feeling full and satisfied!

Extra tips: 

  • Always pair with a delicious beverage aka. tasty kombucha or…say…an almond milk misto courtesy of Capitol Espressso

  • Don’t forget a hot lunch date…

Clearly my bestie knows his way around a smoothie…
And yes. There are two pink straws in that strawberry mango masterpiece cause we’re adorable.

And there you have it! The perfect recipe for a happy, healthy midday meal! 🙂

coffee, fitness, gettin critical, reviews

Fitness Apps: Help or Hindrance?

What a beautiful morning it is here in downtown T.O! The sun is shining brightly, the skies are a vibrant blue & I am double fisting coffee and kombucha like a post-rehabed, pre-weirdfaced Lindsay Lohan.

Peculiar beverage combinations aside, I wanted to take today to nerd out a little and discuss Fitness Apps. 


For a good long while I thought that using applications on your phone to track fitness goals was a waste of time for someone like me, considering I am not in training for anything in particular nor do I have a desire for either weight loss or a substantial amount of weight/muscle gain. However I realized over time that certain apps actually would make my life a little easier and (just like everything in the health/finess world) I could take advantage of those good helpful bits and ignore the other stuff.

So I’ve compiled a little list of the apps I really do use on a regular basisand the ones I haven’t found so useful…

First up…THE HELPS

1) Standard Stopwatch.

No downloads necessary. Just use the straight-up stopwatch that comes with your phone to measure cardio, interval or strength excersizes that go by time as opposed to reps.

2) RunKeeper

Don’t be scared off by the name, I use this free app all the time even though I’m not a “runner” because it has some really useful functions including:

  • GPS to map your runs or walks when and if you do run outside.
  • Detailed information about your distance and speed (much more accurate than you’d get on a treadmill)

  • And (my personal favourite): The  Coaching function. It lets you set interval workouts  in advance, then gives you verbal cues about when to switch as you go. I use this for indoor and outdoor cardio as well as during strength training as an easy a hands-free timer!

3) Fitness Pro

I recently discovered this app but so far I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s totally free and has a massive library of exercise suggestions AND instructions so you can put together a customized plan that works for you. Customization is crucial because your workouts will vary a lot based on what equipment you do (or don’t) have access to.

It also has a whole anatomy section where you can choose which muscle groups you want to work and it will provide you with suggestions for what to incorporate into your routine. Very informative. A great way to break out of a workout rut and mix things up a bit!


1) Calorie Counting Apps. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Food tracking is a slippery slope and one that I don’t recommend for anyone, even those with weight loss goals. I genuinely believe food restriction is an addiction and one that we are all highly susceptible to. Becoming mindful of serving sizes and enjoying balanced meals and snacks made with unprocessed foods is a much healthier and infinitely more sustainable approach…And sadly there ain’t no app for that.

2) One Size Fits All Workout Apps. 

These include things like the Women’s Health Magazine app, the Nike Fit App & basically anything preset. In my experience the suggestions are good but too rigid and don’t take into account what your personal needs are. Plus you usually pay for workout apps like this and there are typically a limited number of workouts to choose from. And you guessed it….new workouts come at a cost! Better to find your workout inspiration online (for free!) then manually input it to a customizable app.

So…what do you think about fitness apps?

Do you have any faves? Would you consider trying one of these?
Or is the whole thing just too nerdy and not worth the effort? 


Some Sunday Staples.

Hey folks!

Considering how intermittent my cooking abilities have been lately I thought it would be the perfect time for another product roundup, a little like what I did back in this vlog (when my hair was long and crazy!). I’ve been relying on prepared and on-the-go foods more than usual lately and it’s given me the opportunity to try lots of new things, some of which I’ll definitely keep buying even after my kitchen is back in working order.

I’m not messing around today so let’s get right to it, going clockwise from the top…

1. Gypsy Cookies from Bunner’s Bakery. 

These bad boys are vegan, gluten-free & the perfect snack for getting past a midday slump. They have a brown rice flour and oat base but are chock full of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, cranberries, vegan chocolate chips & just enough cane sugar and molasses to sweeten them up perfectly. I’m obsessed and you should be too. If you live in Toronto they are available directly from Bunners (and can be shipped!) or at many cafes around the city including Te Aro, Crafted & Crema.

2. Simply Bars.

I’ve talked about these before on the blog but they continue to be my go-to protein/snack bar so they were worth a second mention. At about 2 bucks a pop they are definitely pricier than a granola bar but much more satisfying as a mid-morning or after work snack. I opt for the low sugar versions (about 3 grams a bar) like lemon coconut & cinnamon pecan.

3. Lakewood Pure Organic Lemon Juice. 

Just some lemon juice I’ve been adding to my water in the morning as a natural detoxifer & pick me up. Simple. Tasty.

4. Sprouted Grain Bread. 

For a while there I was in this headspace where bread was unofficially officially off limits. I still ate loads of grains just avoided them as processed flours and generally cut down on my gluten intake. In hindsight I think this had more to do with what I was hearing in the media and from friends than my own body’s needs. So while I’m glad to be a more conscientiousness consumer, nowadays I happily eat whole grain bread products on a regular basis. Seriously you guys bread is crazy convenient, not to mention delicious! When it comes to the loaves I buy at home, I opt for sprouted grain varieties because they incorporate a broader range of grains and legumes than your run of the mill grocery store brands and (because they been minimally processed) maintain more of the healthful benefits that whole grains have to offer. So enjoy your toast. Moving on…

5. Sun Warrior Blend Protein Powder.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Sun Warrior is the jam and their new blended varieties are perfect for protein powder newbies & skeptics. They are subtle in flavour (vanilla or chocolate), easy to digest and don’t contain any creepy sounding ingredients. I enjoy a half or whole scoop of sun warrior in a smoothie, mixed up with almond butter as a high protein spread for toast or stirred into a bowl of oatmeal. A Monday-Friday staple.

6. Soynut Butter.

Why soynut butter? It’s higher in protein and lower in fat than peanut butter, yes. It’s allergy-free, sure. But the real reason I got turned onto this stuff? It was on sale. But what a pleasant suprise! It’s really tasty and I’d definitely buy it again. Plus it’s a great option for little kid lunches in peanut-free schools.

7. Oats/Almond Milk/Yogurt (Aka. Overnight Oats in the Making). 

I’ve started to work really early mornings and this combo is a no fail, no brainer breakfast that I rely on more often than not. This week I bought 2% greek yogurt because the store was out of both soy and coconut varieties…Dairy and me aren’t close friends but now and then I still give it  a shot, for old time’s sake. I’m definitely enjoying the texture of real yogurt without all the starches, gums and fillers present in non-dairy varieties. Really delicious.

  Have you tried any of these products?

What staples have you been leaning on lately to get through these busy Springtime days? 

brown baggin it, cities, recipes, restaurants

Tibetan Food & My Take on Deep Fried Tofu

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time getting acclimated in my new neighborhood…which for me involves a whole lot of eating.

Exhibit A)

My first taste of the Tibetan food that is ubiquitous in this area of town.

Dumplings & Veggies & Silken Tofu OH MY! 

And did I mention that whole plate cost SIX DOLLARS. So good.

After enjoying that plate of yum I was inspired to whip a batch of silken tofu at home, just for a little variety from the firm stuff. The recipe itself was very simple and involved only 3 steps…

Wannabe-Deep-Fried Silken Tofu

1) Slice silken tofu into blocks and quickly pan fry on a dry nonstick or lightly oiled pan until just browned.

2) Dip silken tofu pieces in a marinade of: 

  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tbsp low sodium tamari
  • 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
Then dredge soaked tofu in a second mixture of
  • coconut flour
  • salt and pepper
 3) Pan fry again!
Serve with remaining marinade for dipping! 
This tofu is making a special appearance in my lunch box today as well…
Gotta love leftovers 😉
Off to work! Hope you’re all having a lovely week.
breakfast, restaurants

Treats & Tulips!

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! And to those who don’t…Happy excuse-to-eat-Cadbury-mini-eggs Day!

I woke up this morning after spending the second night in my quirky, delightful new apartment to see these beauties staring back at me!


Such a treat that they seemed to bloom all at once. It was the perfect backdrop for my delicious Sunday morning breakfast…


Mocha frozen yogurt with strawberries, chocolate sauce, toasted coconut, carob chips & cashews.

…Don’t believe me? Then you’re a smart little gluten-free cookie! 😉 That was actually my dessert last night & my first time checking out one of those self serve froyo places I’d heard so much about! Menchie’s to be exact.

I kinda had a field day with the testers but finally settled on Mocha.


A sugar induced gigglefest with the bestie soon followed…


As for actual Breakkie this morning, it was microwaved oats topped with blueberries and chia with a side of green protein smoothie.


Not bad…but no froyo. And I’m so sick of no-cook microwave meals. Definitely cant wait to have a functional kitchen again! I have so many recipes in this turban covered head of mine so stay tuned this week as the pots and pans come out of their boxes and I hit the ground running with fresh, springtime foodie fare! 🙂

dinner, photojournal, restaurants, snacks

Hello April!

Spring is really, truly here and I can’t help but get inspired by the pops of colour filling the streets. And no…I don’t mean the tulips on the ground or the premature magnolias blooming in the trees.

Now bikes on trees? There’s something really special…I am totally in love with the idea of this suspended makeshift bike rack.

Not to mention all things neon

And of course I love colour on my plate too. As many colours as I can fit into one bowl is really my ideal scenario…

Where else would I go but my beloved Hibiscus for the dreamiest bowl of rainbow coloured food heaven. (And in case you’re wondering…that’s sweet potato, broccoli, beets & tofu topped with kelp noodles. YU-UHMM!)

Unfortunately my own kitchen is very sparse right now as I am smack dab in the middle of moving week so I’ve been making due with a single pot and a boxed up pantry all week….


But as usual I’m making due amongst the chaos…Tonight’s dinner? Taco salad! Served in a stainless steel mixing bowl of course…

In the (mixing) bowl: 

  • Romaine
  • Sweet Orange Bell Pepper
  • Black Beans
  • “Baked” Sweet Potato (prepared in the microwave)
  • “Scrambled” Egg whites (also prepared in the microwave – 3 minutes or so at 70% power)
  • Chipotle Salsa & Greek Yogurt
Did the trick! 😉

What are your favourite no-cook meals? 

And how do you feel about moving? Do you love the change or hate the hassle?