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restaurants, reviews, snacks, travel

The All American Vegan Diner

As we drove into Chicago the other day one of my travel buddies commented it was “the most American of American cities.” I’m still not entirely sure why that would be but I imagine for many its because of the city’s All-American baseball team, industrialization and industry or its towering skyline…

For me? I think the real test is the food. Thus began my search for delicious, healthy hipster approved All-American grub.

First stop on the Chicago food tour:

The Chicago Diner is an all vegetarian restaurant but don’t let that throw you. This ain’t no hippie health food restaurant. Sure you might find some epic salad bowls and kombucha tea on the menu…but you’ll also find a healthy hefty dose of for reals diner food like wings, fries, burgers & shakes.

We started off with the Veggie Wings which were doused in a deliciously smoky, spicy sauce but would have easily stood up on their own. They had that elusive mix of crispy outside and soft chewy inside that is hard to achieve even with actual chicken!

Next up were the heavy hitters (baseball metaphor…i’m in the spirit):

  • Seriously meaty seitan & tofu bacon burger
  • Blackened tofu Mexican quinoa bowl
  • And the piece de resistance…the vegan reuben sandwich
Did you just die a little? 
While I loved every bite of my burger and my sister demolished her tofu before anyone could try it (I’m still bitter) the dish I am most excited about recreating is this final sandwich. It looks the least appetizing but its smokey sour savoury deliciousness was beyond.
What is one classic diner dish you’d love to see veganized/healthified?
reflections, restaurants, reviews

Flexitarianism & A Raw Picnic Lunch

You may have noticed that I don’t often write about my “food philosophy” here on the blogginz. And the reason for that is pretty simple – I kinda don’t have one. Every day the food I eat looks a little different, and I have a hard time subscribing to any one one way  of eating.

Sure I have goals when it comes to eating healthy (obvz!), local & unprocessed foods. And I have LOADS of preferences (my friends would say a ridiculous about of them 😉 ) when it comes to the food I choose to eat and purchase. But nutrition, taste and availability as well as animal ethics and environmental concerns all dictate these choices to varying degrees on different days.

I tend to follow the lead of my ever-changeable heart and stomach, and I embrace my own inconsistencies. This is what I call my flexitarianism.

Today’s picnic lunch was a perfect example: 

A fresh market salad from one of my favourite restaurants The Cruda Cafe. I love the flavour profiles & the vibrant colours of the food always let me know it is perfectly fresh. Incidentally, this cafe also happens to be raw vegan.

Look how gorgeous! A fresh spinach base with sprouts, tomatoes, avocado, shredded beets & carrots paired with some energizing black mission figs and cranberries and topped off with nutrient packed vegan protein sources like sunflower seeds and almonds. And did I mention the coconut oil & agave dressing? Holyveganyummm…

BUT THEN….

I decided to pair my salad – perfect and complete in and of itself – with some additional protein in the form of this majorly delicious, ridiculously fresh tuna sashimi. Truth be told after this morning’s interval run and weight training session the protein monster was raging and I was more than happy to oblige.

So there you have it. Lunch. Flexitarian Style. 

I must admit though that I’m looking forward to getting back in the kitchen tomorrow…Weekends have been dominated by meals out since my weekdays have been so busy with work lately…But I’ve got some seriously delicious recipes on the horizon so start gettin jazzed!

Have you ever heard of flexitarianism? What factors dictate your food choices?

cities, restaurants, reviews

Do as the Romans Do: Summer Feasting at Enoteca Sociale


While I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy Toronto’s “fine dining” scene, my recent graduation gave me an excuse to stop into Enoteca Sociale, over on that oh-so-trendy stretch of Dundas West between Dovercourt and Landsdowne.

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the rules of “hipster geography” lemme break it down for you. A previously “sketchy” area urban neighborhood gets a halfway decent cafe, which mysteriously sends a beacon out to the starving artist crowd who subsequently move there & set up shop in previously low-rent, low-income housing. Rent goes up because of renewed interest, which then brings on some non-starving graphic designer/ad exec type “artists” who require a pretentious independent gallery or two in order to survive. And everyone needs something to wear so a vintage clothing store becomes mandatory…and suddenly…the area is subject to the G word – gentrification.

Enter: Enoteca Sociale.

The product of years of gradual gentrification in Toronto’s West End. But don’t hold that against it. 

The meals are served in an authentic Roman fashion with small plates emphasizing fresh vegetables, seafood & pasta dishes. There are also a wide variety of vegetarian options, including a delicious main dish that included lightly fried chickpea fritters served over earthy mushrooms and farro (shown above).

While I thoroughly enjoyed my vegetarian/pescatarian fare, I couldn’t help but snatch a bite of my dad’s gnocchi. A special of the day, this melt-in-your-mouth pasta dish was tossed in a light espresso based sauce. Umm…I KNOW. And according to pops the beef in this dish was also cooked to perfection.

While not to everyone’s taste, this squid & fava bean appetizer took me right back to my lazy days living in Northern Spain. The quickest way to this hipster’s heart.


What am I gesturing towards? Unclear...

Catch a spot on the patio on a summer evening and eat slow. There are loads of courses, delicious wine pairings & don’t forget to bring good company.

my popz and his charming gal

All in all this swanky bistro won me over. Definitely not what comes to mind when most people think “Italian Restaurant” (no unlimited bowls of soup, salad or breadsticks…ahem…) but creative flavour combos and locally sourced ingredients are certainly worth expanding your palette for.

coffee, community, reviews

Coffee of the Day

I am a coffee snob. No question about it. Growing up my mum owned a coffeehouse & I was pullin espresso before my 14th birthday. So when I say I know coffee you know its in my blood. And when I recommend good coffee, you best believe its time to listen up.

Though I was only in Halifax for a hot minute before I caught my flight home it was just enough time to pop into the newly renovated Seaport Farmer’s Market and snag some of my absolute favourite evaahhh Java Blend coffee.

Java Blend Coffee Roasters, Halifax NS, 1938

 

What’s so great about Java Blend?

 

  • Canadian & Independently Owned
  • Certified Fair Trade
  • Organic Options
  • Bike Delivered Beans!! (Halifax area)
  • Beautifully Bold & Richly Flavoured Coffee
I am currently luxuriating in my daily cups of  Dark Organic Aztec Blend. 

Java Blend Coffee Roasters, Halifax NS, 2011

…though the ones I make at home don’t seem quite as delicious as that first one I sipped, to the soundtrack of wind & gulls, on the Pier in Halifax.

To pick up a lb. for yourself, peruse their online shop. Here’s a link to my favourite blend.

Do you ever buy locally roasted coffee? How important is buying Fair Trade, Organic, etc. to you

 

 

 

gettin critical, reviews, snacks

Gettin’ Critical: Granola Bar Review!

At first I wanted to call my review section “UGGHH You Actually BOUGHT That?” Cause hipsters are judgey and hate everything, obvz. But since I figured its really easy to find awful products out there and much more difficult to find good ones, I might as well use this opportunity to share stuff I actually like with you. That’s funner anyhow, m i right?

HECK, LETS GET STARTED. I’ve already discussed my obsession with eating kid-food at the snack time. So it probably comes as no suprise to you that I’m a big fan of granola bars…well…kinda…

I do not love high fructose corn syrup or impossible to pronounce ingredients. I also do not love snacks that leave me famished 15 minutes after eating them.

So which grocery store granola bar is your best bet? 

In my opinion the Kashi TLC  Almond Flax Granola Bar is head and shoulders above the competition. Kashi products use a mix of  whole grains including wheat, rye, brown rice, barley, oats and (my fave) buckwheat.  But more than that the nutritionals on these bars are IMPRESSIVE. They are low in sugar, contain heart-healthy fats and omega 3s, are full of fibre and contain a decent amount of protein. In practical terms this means they are a very energizing & satisfying snack! Which is what you want in your food…Ahem…Duh.

For me there is no comparison between this bar and the classic Quaker chewy bar. Quaker bars are actually lower in calories but much higher in sugar (all of it refined), they also only have 1 gram of protein and 1.5 grams of fat (coming from oils, saturated fats, etc.) as well as a zillion types of preservatives. Quaker bars essentially give you all the carbs (energy!) with none of the protein or fat (staying power!!!) In other words, they will leave you feeling wicked hungry.

MY TAKE:

When it comes to mid-day on-the-go snacks, staying power is key and that means a balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat and fiber. So while I’d always prefer homemade unprocessed food over the grocery store aisle kind…Kashi TLC Almond Flax bars are definitely a snack in the right direction.

**Special Note: the healthy hipster is in no way associated with kashi, quaker or any other companies mentioned in this post. all of my reviews are purely based on my own tastes and opinions, to be read, deeply contemplated or ignored at your discretion.