EATING ALL THE THINGS IN NYC

I’ve been travelling a little lately.

I spent a while in a remote region of Northern Ontario. Took a brief but sweet trip to Ottawa. But most recently, I went on a somewhat impulsive trip to New York City.

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If you want a rundown of all the insanely delicious, allergy-free, vegetable-centric, healthy restaurants New York has to offer I highly suggest you check out these posts from Angela and Leanne. In the city that never sleeps, you have virtually round the clock access to clean, healthy eats. And I’m sure they are all fantastic…

However…that was not my New York food experience.

While my usual approach to menu-hunting involves assessing all options and choosing the thing that sounds the most healthful and vegetable-dense, this time I had the singular desire to DO and EAT all the BEST THINGS this new city had to offer me. A bit of a change in strategy, if you will. From best for me, to the straight up best…And I’d say I fared pretty well.

So…where did I go? (In order of appearance)

BAOHAUS

What: light as a feather steamed taiwanese buns filled with braised meat, cilantro, pickled radish, peanuts & red sugar. veg options include tempura broccoli & tofu.

Why: everything is delicious and the place is just cool. blaring hip hop, tiny space and stupid-cute pics of owner Eddie Huang’s grandparents playing mah-jongg hanging on the wall. 

Where: 137 Rivington St, Lower East Side

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Source: The L Mag

LOVELY DAY

What: Thai-ish mixed bag. Fusion style small plates. Mandatory noodles and curries. Fresh fish mains. 

Why: ill admit the food might not blow your mind. but candlelit tables, quirky music, swank cocktails & prime people people watching make this place somewhere i’d go again. also, the waitresses and clientele were notably babely. soooo….theres that. 

Where: 196 Elizabeth St, NoLIta

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SARAGHINA 

What: Naples-style pizza (maxing out at $15) with a selection of other homestyle salads, seafood, pasta and small plates. 

Why: Its pizza. In brooklyn. And the place looks like this. YOU WANT TO GO TO THERE. 

Where: 435 Halsey St. Bed-Stuy. (Brooklyn)

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Source: Gothamist

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And lastly…

MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

What: the compost cookie. a bizarrely satisfying blend of chocolate, butterscotch, graham crumbs, pretzels, potato chips, oats and coffee grinds. Sounds more like my kitchen floor after a particularly solitary Saturday night. Am I right, ladies? 

Why: The short answer is David Chang. And the shorter answer is justgoeathedamncookie. Or was that the long answer?

Where: Multiple locations. I wento 382 Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg. OBVI. 

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And there you have it. NYC in a chocolate covered, cheese drenched, pizza flavoured nutshell.

Ima go eat sum salad and fantasize about my next visit.

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Restaurant Redux: Fresh Macro Greens Bowl

Oh my gosh you guys, summer is totally happening right now. And you know what that means? Patios! Nights out! New 90s inspired crop tops! Aaaand so long rent cheque…

Seriously all these summer adventures add up and eating out can be the biggest culprit. So last night I did my best to recreate a dish from one of Toronto’s biggest vegetarian restaurant chains: Fresh.

Even if you don’t live in this city I’m sure you know of a place like Fresh. Its good but not amazing. Not expensive but not cheap either. Mainly it’s convenient and healthy enough to satisfy your midday kale craving.

The meal I decided to recreate was one of my regular orders: the Macro Greens bowl, which basically consists of a bunch of steamed greens, tomato and grilled sweet potato, topped in tofu and smothered in creamy dressing (and Cholula hotsauce if you’re like me). So yes it’s delicious but also stupid simple to make. Here was my take:

Macro Greens Bowl with Tahini Miso Dressing

Ingredients: 

For the bowl

  • 2 big handfuls of chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped bok choy
  • 1/4 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 block tofu
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup light miso
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic

Directions:

  1. Prep potato in advance by baking in the oven or microwave and cutting into round slices.
  2. Make dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processer and blending until smooth.
  3. Lightly steam veggies until the colours are bright and vibrant.
  4. Pan fry tofu cubes in sesame oil until lightly browned.
  5. Layer your bowl  with greens, potatoes, tofu and sauce.

Weekend Wanderings: Sparkles & Love!

Those two images pretty much sum up 90% of this past weekend and I consider it time well spent. Few things make me happier in this world than sifting through piles of bric-a-brac looking for gems. In the end I scored a yellow ombre vase, a big pile of art and design magazines from the 1930s AND a dress for my bestie’s wedding in July! And for just $46 before alterations it was really the ULTIMATE diamond in the rough.

An assortment of weekend nibbles:


Kombucha samples at Anice Jewellery Boutique.

Vegan lunch at Hibiscus

 

Summer Greens in Brown Butter Vinaigrette…

…And Tempura Tuna Rolls at Cafe Belong

A perfect mix of tasty, wholesome & indulgent. 

That’s really all I ask for in weekend meals.

Despite being in Monday denial I will give you a quickie update on my 6 x 6 plan. It’s still going strong with a nice balance of walks and yoga as well as some added strength training thanks to The Fitnessista. I haven’t been getting excited by the gym lately so I am enjoying these circuit workouts, which are totally doable at home. I did her Week 1 workout twice last week and it definitely kicked my butt even without all that expensive gear around. Always love that.

Hope your weekend was equally sparkly and lovely!

Let’s do our best to keep those feelings going all week long, whaddyasay? ;)

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.

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! :)

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.

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!

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

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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.

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A sugar induced gigglefest with the bestie soon followed…

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

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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! :)

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….

NO KITCHEN + INTERMITTENT INTERNET + EPIC PACKING = THE GROUCHY HIPSTER!

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?

On to Ottawa Road Trek

I’m on the road today for a short but sweet visit to Ottawa, that other Ontario city. First stop: greyhound station (downfall of being completely and utterly carless)20120315-151039.jpg
Some relatively healthy (making due) road food!

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Egg white & Smoked Ham On a Whole Wheat English Muffin from Tim Hortons…doesnt look too exciting but tasted super delicious to early morning me!
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Gigantic bag of celery, fennel and organic heirloom carrots I packed from home.
20120315-164007.jpgVegan, Gluten Free Protein Bar.
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Stevia sweetened Vitamin water. Not the best choice but it was super hydrating after a couple hours of recycled air and kept me from caving and buying a chemical laden Coke Zero (weakness…)

And for my mental fuel?20120315-152336.jpg
David Rakoff’s Fraud on audiobook…because 1) He is a clever, charming, snarky & a Canadian born New Yorker 2) I can’t read in a vehicle and 3) The man has the sultriest voice imaginable.

Are you taking any trips over March break? What are your favourite road snacks?

Springing Forward & Falling Back…

Waking up this morning I was shocked to realize that I actually slept in to a reasonable hour…Or at least I thought I slept in until I realized it was daylight savings time. Whatever, I was still pleased with myself for waking up past 8…even if it was just a technicality. Small victories, folks. ;)

I’ve got to admit though that despite all of this sunlight and springy weather, I’ve actually been falling back on some of my not-that-bad-but-still-not-great vices to get me through the past few stressful weeks….

Exhibit A: Trashy Reality Television

Downloading Legally purchasing multiple seasons of The Rachel Zoe Project during a period of high-stress is wickedly dangerous territory. This picture is an accurate portrayal of my life recently between the hours of 9pm and…ahem…  <—– infinity.

Exhibit B: Comforting Food

Scoff all you like but for me a piping hot mess of steel cut oats is comfort in a bowl. And during a stressful time I get weirdly fixated on eating the same thing at every meal. Instead of judging myself for this, I try to roll with my cravings and eat my oats at whatever time of day I darn well please….

I ate this as a snack somewhere between breakfast and lunch… Half bowl of oats + a mess of berries + pumpkin seeds with a poached egg and spinach on the side for protein and veggies. Worked for me

I’ve also been enjoying more than my fair share of restaurant meals… including this delicious brunch at The Junction Eatery.

Cornbread, blackened catfish, bacon, eggs & smokey baked beans. 

Chopped salad with chicken, fresh peas, cashews, avocado & apples

Not at all easy on the wallet but definitely low stress and comforting.

Exhibit C: (Discount) Shopping

I blame She Does The City for inviting me to this ridiculously adorable sale event at The Gap. I mean…25% their entire spring line? So dangerous for a bargain hunter like myself.

Liquoring us up with free pinotDownright lethal.

They were really hocking these coloured pants…even the DJ was wearing some (hidden under his macbook…hehe). I left with a pair of cropped black jeans that weren’t part of the sale but were already marked down 50%…. Pahaha. So predictable.

Exhibit D: Old faithful…

What addictions/habits/crutches do you fall back on when you’re feeling stressed?

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