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restaurants, travel

NYC

New York City gives me the same feeling I get when I’m standing in front of an ocean.

I feel insignificant, in a powerful way. My life feels small. My struggle feels relative. That feeling is a comfort.

There’s no shortage of New York City Guides out there written by honest to goodness New Yorkers. I’m not that. I pack 2 flannel shirts, a muttonhead toque & a pair of blundstones everywhere I go “just in case.” I could not be more Canadian. But I also know how it feels to travel to a big city without a plan. Without pals to show you around. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite places and moments from my latest trip to New York, in case anything strikes your fancy.

Morning in Bushwick: 

Wake up early, grab a quick snack of sliced mangoes and fresh coconut at Fine Fare Supermarket in Bushwick, a grocery store that looks like a bargain basement from the outside and a whole-foods-of-your-dreams inside. With the edge taken off, wander over to Little Skips for a coffee and some pretty people watching. Grab one of their Norwegian open-faced avocado, goat cheese and salmon sandwiches before heading out for the day.

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Afternoon in Fort Greene: 

Get your fill of overpriced yuppie antique goods and (to console yourself when you can’t afford anything) Dough Brooklyn’s Hibiscus doughnuts at the Brooklyn Flea.

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Happy Hour in Manhattan

I’ll admit I typically spend the majority of my New York visits in Brooklyn. Would you expect any less from a self-professed hipster? But there are obviously loads of places I like to go in New York City proper. Babe-watching in Washington Square Park. Vintage shops in like Edith Machinist in the Lower East Side. Eating my weight in smoked fish at Russ and Daughters. And my recent favourite find was Happy Hour Oysters at Fish (6 blue point oysters plus a glass of Chardonnay, Merlot or PBR for $8). For an more upscale oyster experience you may also want to try Maison Premier in Williamsburg. Heaven.

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Nightlife in Brooklyn

Happyfun Hideaway has cheap drinks and nice people with a queer-friendly backyard party feel. The Narrows for a David-Lynchy vibe with especially flattering lighting. Late-night tacos are non-optional. These tasty ones from Santa Ana Deli made life worth living.

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Let me know if you’ve been to any of these spots or if you have any suggestions for me. And if you feel the need to mock me for how bushwick-centric this post is…I’ll take the hit. 😉

snacks, travel

Music Festival Snack Guide

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Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re going to a music festival this summer. And I don’t blame you. There’s something undeniably appealing about 3 straight days of pure, unadulterated summer fun. The perfect blend of escapism and nostalgia.

But if you’re anything like me you also value things like healthy food, quiet time, running water, self-respect, etc. Classic adulthood conundrum.

In an effort to address one of those concerns I thought I would share my shopping list for Wayhome this weekend. I still anticipate buying a few overpriced tacos on-site, but my goal was to cover snacks, breakfasts and lunches. My shopping list includes a mix of whole grains and fruit to keep you energized (for dancing), healthy fats to keep you satisfied (for long treks between your campsite and each show), and some protein to keep your blood sugar in balance (so your friends don’t hate you by the end of the weekend). I’ve included a couple of quick recipes as well. Hope you enjoy!

My shopping list

– Trail mix*
– Vegan Banana Granola Bars*
– Jerky
– Fruit
– Coconut water
– Popcorn
– Rice cakes
– Nut butter
– Canned tuna
– Avocado
– Chickpeas
– Mini-cucumbers

Easy Meal ideas:
– Avocado “toast” on rice cakes
– Chickpea and tuna salad
– Apple and almond butter sandwich

Recipes:

FAVOURITE TRAIL MIX

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– 2 cups pumpkin seeds
– 1 cup coconut flakes
– 1.5 cups chopped figs

VEGAN BANANA GRANOLA BARS

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– 2 bananas, mashed thoroughly
– 1/4 cup applesauce
– 2 cups oats
– 1/2 cup chopped dates
– 1/3 cup chocolate chips
– 2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Stir to combine. Press down in a lined 8 x 8 baking sheet. Bake at 350 for approx 30 mins.

reflections, travel

You, elsewhere

As an adult, I am very into being rooted. I love my city. My neighborhood. My coffee shop. My people.

However, looking back I notice that my greatest leaps of personal development in life have always taken place far away from the “community” I hold so dear. It has only been in leaving home that I have learned (and re-learned) my most essential life lesson, which is that I am actually the architect of my community.  I source, connect and build the creative-generous-feminist-coffee-slinging-kale-eating-dance-party-having-drake-obsessed community of my dreams wherever I go. It’s in me.

That is a hard lesson for people – for me – to remember because unless you’re evolved as fuck, you get attached to things. And people. You get reliant. You forget that you were the one who found those people, those places, all that stuff in the first place.

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Back in February I was going through some tough times, lacking inspiration and suffering through the thick of winter in Canada. So I planned a trip West Texas and started counting down the days.

IMG_1475.JPGI have no illusions about what travelling can offer me. I know it’s not a solution to my problems. I know my fears, anxieties and insecurities will always be my oversized carry-ons.

IMG_1496.JPGBut travel is about so much more than escapism. It’s about challenging yourself to be uncomfortable for a little while. To live without your stuff, your people, your places. To see the same world, through the same eyes, but a new perspective.

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On this particular trip I learned that even though I didn’t know it, I was desperately in need of a hammock, a dear friend, 16 hours in a hot car, a plate of barbeque, a Steve Earle concert and bright orange trailer lovingly referred to as “Sparton Manor.”

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gettin critical, reflections, restaurants, travel

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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guest post, travel

Guest Post: Gillian’s Tips for the Gluten-Free Globetrotter


I’ve got a special treat for you this morning! A guest post from the impossibly lovely Gillian from Battle of the Bites. I bonded with Gillian earlier this year at a Chobani blogger event where we became fast friends over glasses of pinot, chatting about our mutual love of travel, healthy eats & Lena Dunham. The twenty-something trifecta.
😉

Today Gillian will be writing about a topic that affects many of us, gluten-free or not, traveling with food allergies. With the holiday/vacation season quickly approaching (hello winter in Canada!) it seemed like a great time to chat about some of the ways you can satisfy your wanderlust without cheating on your happy belly! Enjoy! 

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Meet Gillian.

I have a travel addiction and a gluten-allergy.

These things do not necessarily go well together. When travelling, we’re constantly being thrown into new situations, trying different kinds of food, and risking what I love to call “getting glutened”.

When I have gluten, in any small amount, my stomach blows up like I’m pregnant, I get sick to my stomach, suffer from terrible cramps and sometimes end up bed ridden. As anyone with a gluten allergy knows, it’s not fun, and it’s not smart to “cheat”.

Luckily the world is becoming more friendly to Celiacs and the gluten intolerant. Even Paris, my favourite bread and pastry loving city, is opening up gems like Helmut Newcake, a high end patisserie devoted solely to gluten-free goods and dishes.

When I was in Berlin this summer I went out for Thai food and was handed an entire gluten-free menu. I was so happy I could cry. I wanted to go back to the same restaurant every day.

When I’m not so lucky to stumble upon a miracle like this, the following tips are always helpful:

1. Booking your flight – most flights offer a gluten-free option. I often book
through expedia which doesn’t provide meal options and choose to bring my
own food (also for the sake of health and taste). I’ve learned that I can easily
get through airport security when flying to Europe with my big boxed salad
from Whole Foods.

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2. Packing snacks and staples – this is an obvious but important note. I tend
to pack a ton of protein bars, nuts, protein powder, and some chocolate.
The protein bars are great for layovers or when you’re wandering around
a city lost and unsure of your meal options. If I’m going somewhere for an
extended time I’ll sometimes pack gluten-free flour or my favourite pancake
mix.

3. Language barriers and eating out– if you don’t speak the language, explaining
your allergy at a restaurant can be complicated (I tried in German, “Nein
gluten?!”) Gluten-free restaurant cards can be very helpful in getting
your point across clearly– there are 54 languages available (http://
www.celiactravel.com/cards/). If you speak the language, it’s always a good
idea to call ahead and warn them of your allergy.

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4. Finding a place to stay – If your allergy is very serious there is even a gluten

free hotel guide – http://www.glutenfreehotelsguide.com/ – for hotels
that will cater to your gluten sensitive desires. Personally, I like to rent
apartments through Air BnB where I have access to a kitchen. If I’m staying
in a regular hotel I’ll ask that the mini bar be emptied so that I can fill it with
snacks and fresh produce.

5. To the market we go – one of my favourite things about eating gluten-free
Is that it can mean eating more real food. I like to go to markets and stock
up on fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, olives, wine…whatever the local
delicacies (without wheat) are, I have to try it. Hunting down an organic
store also tends to be helpful in finding a great array of gluten-free products.

With these tips I’ve managed to travel with a happy belly through many cities.

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I have a whole chapter on eating gluten-free in Paris in my upcoming book, so stay tuned on more info on how to eat crêpes and éclairs in the city of love (and pastries)!

Gillian’s current book The Guiltless Gourmet is available for purchase here and it is full to the brim with swoon-worthy gluten-free, whole food based recipes. The perfect Holiday gift for the G-Free folks in your life. Enjoy! 

coffee, cooking tips, culture, photojournal, travel

Recovery Food & Ottawa Roundup

While the last week of my life brought a whole new meaning to the phrase Spring Fever I seem to have finally made it through. Hooray!

As I was recovering, I received some lovely emails wishing me well (you’re all so sweet!) as well as a few asking me to post about my nutrition choices while recovering from an illness. I’m not sure if I follow any hard fast rules, I usually just give myself what I crave. This week that meant a lot of green smoothies, soups (lentil, butternut squash, tomato, etc.) and Ezekiel Toast Sandwiches with either almond butter, banana and honey or avocado and egg. I definitely favour starchy vegetables like carrots and potatoes and I can’t seem to get enough of oranges and kiwis (which also happen to be extremely high in Vitamin C).

Here’s a little cheat sheet:

In celebration of feeling a zillion times better, I am (finally) sharing some lovely shots from last weekend’s road trip…Broken down by category of things I love.

1) COFFEE. Bridgehead. Mandatory in Ottawa.

2) VEGAN EATS. 3 Course Lunch @ Zen Kitchen. I’m obsessed.

Butternut Squash Soup with Pepitas

Organic Greens

Vegan Reuben with smoked tempeh, house fermented sauerkraut & thousand island dressing on rye bread. Side of house made frites. 

3) CHEAP MANICURES.

4) Shopping BROWSING JEWELLERY.

5) DANCE PARTY!

Primping ensued… (We kept it real classy with beer cups….)

NDMA Live @ Fall Down Gallery (Accompanied by Live Model Body Painting)

Rafter Brews…

Hot date.

I don’t know why but something about this trip got me excited about summer and more summertime road trips…Look out Montreal 😉

photojournal, restaurants, travel

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…)

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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?

cities, community, inspiration, markets, travel

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?

breakfast, fitness, recipes, snacks, travel

The Green Smoothie Morning: Finding Balance in a Sea of Breakfast Tacos

Good Morning, Austin.

While every day spent here in Austin has been different from the last, my mornings have been pretty consistent. I wake up, do some work (yes I’m working from home even while I’m on “vacation”…thats what you get for going out of town right after the holidays right?) and of course I start each day off with big healthy breakfasts. And what signifies healthy start to the day more than a green smoothie? Drinking one of these bad boys before 8am makes you feel like a superhero not only because of the sense of accomplishment you feel chugging down something so strange looking….but because all those B vitamins provide you with the energy you need to deal with whatever your day/night might have in store for you (even if that includes a whole lot of tequila & tacos…)

Simple Green Smoothie

  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop raw vegan protein powder (optional)
  • cinnamon, vanilla & honey

And because I am not a “smoothie for breakfast” type of girl (aka. give me complex carbs in the morning or suffer the consequences) I rounded out my morning meal with 1.5 slices of Ezekiel toast topped with almond butter, mashed banana & cinnamon.

Another thing I’ve been doing since arriving here in Austin is trying my best to squeeze in some type of physical activity before noon. Nothing too strenuous since I want to save my energy for adventuring around the city, but at least a little something. So far I have enjoyed strolls around the neighborhood, light yoga and (on this particularly ambitious morning) a short run to and from the local park.


On this day I went through my favourite interval run. Its a pyramid style workout that is perfect for the outdoors because you can tailor speeds and intensity to match your environment and energy level. It looks something like:

5 minute warm up
30 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
45 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
1 min quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
90 seconds quick run
1 min brisk walk or jog
Repeat this series in reverse (Run 1 min, then 45 seconds, etc.)
5 min cool down

Enjoyed some local scenery along the way….


I love how the residential areas in Austin have a bit of a country vibe to them. Maybe its all the succulents in their landscaping? The lawn flamingos? Random windowpanes hanging everywhere? Whatever it is I like it.

Following up that morning activity with some tasty eats at home (making sure to leave some room for my ritual mid-day taco feast)…

Mixed greens & Kale topped with diced red peppers, zucchini, crunchy edamame, almond cheese (my new obsession…more on that later), 1 leftover slice of organic turkey breast & roasted kabocha squash. Plus a side of my favourite ginger kombucha. 🙂

Have a lovely Monday, folks!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Free Music Week & the Austin Farmers Market (SWOON!)