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restaurants, travel

Thrifted Duds & Vegan Grub in Austin’s North Loop

The past few days have been all about getting my bearings in Austin. And (no surprises here) the first thing a gal notices when she’s making her way through this city is its sheer size. After visiting Chicago last summer, I knew what it meant to be in a car city. But this, my friends, is a truck city. Massive 4-5 lane streets plow through every inch of the urban landscape, even the downtown core. Yesterday my cab got on the freeway for a minute as a shortcut… I barely even noticed a difference.

The upside to all this size and space is that when you hit a new neighborhood it feels as if you’ve stumbled upon an oasis of cool in the middle of a truckstop. It feels special and all your own somehow. Or maybe that’s just Austin in general?

The North Loop seems to exemplify this experience best of all. From afar the shops in this area don’t look like much. For the most part they’re just tucked away on the side of the road.

But upon further investigation you’ll find a treasure trove of thrift stores, cafes & of course the long awaited (by me) Austin food truck.

We started our afternoon off with a little thrifting. Snagged a great chair for my friends place at Hog Wild for just $45 (and they deliver!)

And obviously I couldn’t help but try on a few clothing items as well. Basically if it had fringe or a Southwestern print I wanted to wear it. Sadly didn’t snag anything that fit but you better believe I’ll get something before I go. So much turquoise & suede!

And then came the real good stuff…VEGAN FOOD TRUCK! I had heard about Counter Culture before arriving here but had no idea where it was. But apparently I had traveler’s luck on my side because we just happened to stumble across it in our wanderings! I suppose I just hang in areas where the vegan food trucks gravitate…ahem…

Obviously the whole menu was amazing and it was super difficult to make a decision…All healthy comfort food inspired vegan dishes with some healthy raw food options mixed in for good measure.

My choices? Once my friend talked me down from ordering the Almond Butter and Pickle sandwich (you always have my back, Cait) I think I made the perfect choices: BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich with a side of PacMan Kale Salad & a donut hole for dessert.

Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich with PacMan Kale Salad


No seriously there were PacMen in my salad.

Never having had jackfruit before I must say I was pleasantly suprised. The texture was a lot like a mushroom and really worked with the smokey barbeque flavours. Plus it came with pickles…so I got my fix after all. The kale salad was simple but flavourful and offered a nice savoury balance to the sweetness of the sandwich.

Oh yeah and then this …

Raw vegan “donut hole” made of almonds, dates & coconut. Definitely had the crumbly texture and even the flavour of a Tim Horton’s timbit. I might be the first one to make that comparison though seeing as we are in the middle of texas.

Then we ended the day with a stop into Epoch, a 24/7 coffee place that was jam packed with people even in the middle of the day. But it was obvious why as they served up some seriously tasty espresso as well as offering free wifi & outlets literally hanging from the ceiling for plugging in. Oh yeah and they had almond milk for my americano. Best way to close out the day.

That’s all the updates for now! I’m off to catch a random vinyasa yoga class then maybe do some gallery hopping.

Basically my dream Sunday. 🙂

reflections, restaurants, travel

Austin, Tacos…I mean Texas.

When somebody asks me about countries I’ve lived in or traveled to the United States will probably be the last place I mention. Not because I haven’t enjoyed my travels there but because, as a Canadian, a trip to the States just doesn’t feel very adventurous. I mean its a domestic flight for goodness sakes.

Still, when I really consider all the notches I’ve racked up on my US State bedpost – California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina – I realize that I have had some honest to goodness (mis)adventures across the border. And now that I’m here in Austin, experiencing Texas for the first time? Well there’s no question about it, I am not in Canada anymore.

War history makes me feel all kinds of wrong but even I gotta give it up to the Texans at the Battle of Gonzales
Why couldn’t Canadians have come up with a catch phrase when they stormed Vimy Ridge?

As for my daily eats? Tacos.

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Like all day every day….

Corn tortillas come standard here as do delicious toppings like the tequila marinated shrimps, freshly made guacamole and perfectly spiced salsa pictured above. I’m sure you’ll see many more incarnations of this in the days ahead…

And because I’m saving my pennies I’ve also been eating at home once or twice a day, a nice balance for my “out” meals.

This salad consisted of some locally raised roast turkey, crunchy edamame, roasted squash, apples, red onion, zucchini, greens & carrots. Plus a poached egg and some Dijon balsamic dressing.

I intend on hitting up the North Loop, the farmers market and terribly trendy South Congress in the coming days… Can’t wait to share more of my Southwestern adventures with ya!

guest post, recipes, travel

Guest Post, Y’all: Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Muffins

Mornin Y’all!

The Healthy Hipster is on the road today…heading to AUSTIN, TEXAS of all places! A little while back one of my closest friends was going through some hard times and rather than let herself get any lower she decided to make a change. She packed up her books and a few sparce belongings and moved to a brand new city, in a brand new country to pursue a new kind of life for herself. While I’ve missed her terribly, I find it so dang inspiring that she did it in the first place I just can’t help but be supportive. And now I’m lucky enough to see her again while visiting a pretty cool city along the way…

Oh and just for fun Urban Dictionary defines the Austin Hipster as:

n. A pretentious, self-ironizing, cool person found in certain areas of Austin, Texas. The Austin hipster can be seen prancing around with a morose, pensive look on his face, while he’s secretly enjoying the urban experience. Aside from corrupting the music scene with his mere presence, this Central Texan herbivore also enjoys lounging around in coffee shops and writing poetry. This retro dork conceals the pride he has for whatever hipster shirt he’s sporting at the moment. While he considers himself a liberal, he’s actually supporting the system with his commercialized non-conformity.
Pahahaha. Enjoyable.
In the meantime, you have not been abandoned. My incredibly talented baking bestie Meg is back again! You may remember some of her delicious gluten-free baked goods from previous guest posts including these peanut butter cookies & this grain free bread (one of the most popular recipes on the blog!) This week she was kind enough to take the blogger reigns and share another one of her magical Gluten-Free, Vegan & Refined Sugar Free recipes with ya. She describes them as somewhere between a muffin and a scone. Since I trust her entirely with all things oven-related so I hope you will give these a whirl!
Mixed Berry Buckwheat Breakfast Scones (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)
Ingredients:Dry
2 cups light buckwheat flour (Or you can make your own by grinding raw buckwheat groats in a coffee grinder!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon saltWet
1 mashed banana
2 tbls ground flax seed
1 tbls ground chia seed
1/2 cup water
1 cup almond milk
3 tbls maple syrup
1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2- 2 cups frozen mixed berries *

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. grease a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. In a smaller bowl mash the banana and whisk together with the remaining wet ingredients.
  5. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, do not over-mix.
  6. Fold in frozen mixed berries.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking time may vary depending on the size of your muffin tin, for smaller muffins bake only 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm with your favorite spread (almond butter anyone?)
yield: 6 large muffins or 12 small/medium muffins
*frozen berries better maintain their shape and consistency better than fresh when baked.

Can’t wait to update on all my Austin adventures!
…srsly though can a girl survive on tacos, bbq and brunch alone?
90s, fitness, inspiration, travel

Non-Boring Cardio at the Summerside Wellness Centre

This morning I was up with my grandparents at 630am (which is 930am in Senior’s Standard Time) and by actual 930am I was already fed, showered, on my second coffee and out the door to join them on their daily trip to the Wellness Health and Fitness Centre in Summerside PEI.

20111108-120835.jpgMorning Coffee & Paper. Apparently The Guardian newspaper “covers Prince Edward Island like the dew.” Amazing.

The Wellness Centre is a massive building with loads of natural light and I loved how it drew such a mixed crowd of people there for all sorts of reasons. From the morning coffee & conversation crowd…20111108-120919.jpg

To the folks on the track, which is clearly a hotspot at the Centre. I swear, only Canadians could get that excited about circling repeatedly around an ice cold, unused hockey arena. But I don’t know that I’ve never encountered a happier, chattier bunch.

And then of course there were the friendly gals (not a lot of bros in the room…a nice change for me) in the fitness room. 20111108-120946.jpg

The decor was slightly hilarious…full of Clip-Art style decals that kept making me giggle…I kept expecting the couple from Body Break (ahem…Hal Johnson and Joanne Mcleod) to jump out from beside the treadmills and give me pointers.

NON-BORING CARDIO ROUTINE!

I have been pretty light on the cardio lately…just haven’t been feeling it as much but after reading this Step Up Workout from the lovely Angela at Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat I totally got inspired. She is a fitness instructor and always posts seriously awesome workouts, but once I saw this one I got super jazzed. I only modified it a little bit but I thought it was very unique and ramped up in a way that was totally fun and kept me on my toes. My slightly modified version looked like:

  • 5 min slow warm up
  • 3 min at a steady moderate pace followed by 1 min walking (x2)
  • 2 min at a steady fast pace followed by 1 min walking (x2)
  • 1 min at a very fast pace followed by 1 min walking (x4)
  • 5 min slow cool down

You can do this on a treadmill, bike machine, outside, inside, wherever you like! Its guaranteed to cover you in sweat like the dew on PEI….sorry couldn’t help myself…gross.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my recipe for tonight’s dinner – a super delicious & budget friendly casserole dish that was a total throw back to old school comfort food. Get excited…

coffee, travel

Coffee of the Day, Island Style

Well somehow I’ve managed to find myself on Prince Edward Island once again…

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It’s a wonder to me how much the Island manages to stay the same after all these years of back and forth, leaving and returning.

One new addition however was Samuel’s Coffeehouse, a cozy little cafe serving top notch espresso right at the foot of Summerside’s scenic ocean boardwalk. 20111107-121840.jpg

The music was surprisingly delightful (Feist’s The Reminder followed by the new Fleet Foxes record) and the space felt warm and welcoming, flooded with natural light and exposed brick. I was particularly excited about their stack of magazines as well… Flipping through them with my grandmother was the perfect way to start my day.

inspiration, reflections, travel

Striking a Balance this November

I hope everyone has enjoyed their extra hour this morning. Maybe you spent it doing something ultra luxurious like sleeping in, cuddling, drinking an extra cup of coffee, watching Coronation Street (doesn’t everyone do that on Sunday mornings?), whatever makes you happiest.

As for me I was up at 5:30am to hop a flight east to Prince Edward Island. As you might have seen in earlier posts I am terribly enamored with this tiny province on Canada’s east coast and I often spend time there hiking, reading, cooking and swimming in the ocean during the summer months. This visit will be a little bit different. I will be spending the whole week helping my grandparents pack their belongings for a big trans-canada move.

the view from the sky over montreal

And since nothing makes me more self-reflective than air travel I thought i’d share with you my simple life goal for the month of November.

BALANCE

I know it sounds super Oprah-fied and self-help junky but when I talk about finding balance I just mean keeping my life as varied as possible. Think: Not putting all your eggs in one basket. Creating balance = weaving lots of other baskets. (Fun with metaphors!)

Of course this is easier said than done for me as I am a very type A personality and when I get excited about something I tend to go FULL FORCE with it until I completely burn out.

I have done this before with loads of things in my life including (but not limited to):

  • School: While writing my Masters Thesis I would have to force myself to go outside, even just for a walk or fresh air
  • Relationships: More specifically, new relationships. BEST BIGGEST LIFE DISTRACTION EVER.
  • Friendships: “OMG isn’t ________ being such a _________ ?” Lets talk about it forever.
  • Work: “No seriously guys, if I don’t spend all night prepping for this class I have to teach, the world will fall to pieces and my students will die. I’m basically 100% sure.”
  • Fashion: “Don’t believe anything my already caving-in wardrobe says, I swear I really do need this sackdress/pair of leggings/pair of wedge heels.”
  • Fitness: Exercise > Life.
  • Food: Eating Organic/Local/Whole-Grain/Healthy Food > Not sounding like a total wang all the time.

What I have discovered is that when I am able to spread my attention and energy evenly between all of the different things and people I care about, it is easier to cope when something falls out of line. End result: I stay sane and happy.

So….Here’s to a happy, balanced and RUT-FREE November!

How do you plan on finding balance this month?

dinner, photojournal, restaurants, travel

Untraditional Holidays & A Harvest Meal

As the Thanksgiving long weekend approaches here in Canada I’m sure many of you are getting ready to head home for the holidays.

Well for me, this is not always a straightforward endeavor…To be honest my family is less than traditional (remember a few posts back when I mentioned I grew up on a hippie organic farm? You get the idea…) This year I decided to do my trip “home” the week before Thanksgiving, visiting my mum and her fella (the Backwoods Ranger) for a little hiking, camping and general adventuring in the North. Then on Sunday I will have my “traditional” Turkey day meal with the folks I like to think of as my friend-family (or my family of choice). While I appreciate tradition as much as the next gal, I kind of love my plan this year because it works for me and the people I love.

I was also glad I chose to go North when I did because the leaves are right in the middle of changing and the colours were breathtaking.

One night I was invited over for dinner at our family friends Jim and Carolyn’s cabin home in Massey, Ontario.
We sipped Chardonnay on the porch as the sun went down.
 I roasted up some fennel, onion & asparagus…Plus some unpictured buttercup squash.

Carolyn showed off her new quilting fabrics to Mama Hipster.The Backwoods Ranger (+ his brother Jim…who is…also a ranger) fired up the BBQThen we feasted on a delicious pre-holiday Harvest Meal. (Those squash seeds were roasted up using this delicious recipe)The next day we woke up early to go for a hike. We grabbed an on-the-go breakfast from Tim Horton’s. I opted for plain mixed berry oatmeal with a side of peanut butter mixed in and a plain egg patty on the side for some added protein.

Not to get down on the ol’ Canadian maple…but I think birch trees are my favourite.

Oh yeah that wasn’t terrifying…

I’m back in the city today and so excited to spend the holidays with my friends here. But I can still smell the campfire on my clothes….and that’ll definitely keep me smiling all weekend long. 😉

breakfast, dinner, photojournal, travel

Bits and Bites from North Country

After a brief but memorable 5 hours on the greyhound I arrived safe and sound to the teeny town of Lively, Ontario.

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I was greeted by chilly sweater weather, lots of hugs and a warm bowl of turkey chili I layered over some fresh spinach. If I can pry this recipe from my mum I will share it cause it’s a keeper! So far all she’s shared is “fresh veggies, no garlic.” A mysterious creature my mother is…

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Breakfast the next morning was entirely non-optional. Mum wanted poached eggs. I obliged.

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Followed up with some tea on the porch…

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Now all thats left to do is lace up my boots and hit the trails.

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coffee, travel

Tim Hortons of the Day

Hope you folks liked the last guest post as much as I did cause you’re about to see a whole lot more of Northern Ontario in the days to come.

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Tim Horton’s Pumpkin Spice tea, enjoyed on the road along the Trans Canada Highway, en route to visit my fam in the teeny town of Lively, Ontario.

I’ve already seen fall colours, made some peculiar friends on the greyhound bus and caught my first glimpse of a canoe (if you look closely you can see it behind my timmys cup).

Bring on the canadiana…

guest post, inspiration, photojournal, travel

Guest Post: Mama Hipster’s Guide to Canoe “Tripping” in the Near North

The following is a guest post from one of the healthiest, hippest chicks I know….Oh, and she also happens to be my mother! A few years back Mama Hipster moved from urban/suburban Ontario to middle-of-nowhere Northern Ontario to be with her love (a happy-go-lucky backcountry ranger) and pursue her dreams of becoming an educator. These are her reflections on some recent experiences camping and canoeing in the Canadian wilderness. 

A dry bag, a compression bag, a Gerber tool, quick dry clothing, water purification; these were just a few of the things I needed to learn about when I decided to canoe and camp out to the middle of God’s country nowhere.

Glorious does not express what it was like on the River. The weather from the moment I left home until I returned was blue skies, hot summer sun in the day and fresh autumn air at night. The sounds were of paddles moving through water, wind rustling trees, loons, and Canadian geese flying 20 feet overhead in V’s, whippoorwills and chickadees waking me in the morning with their chirping. The smells were of earth, fire, food, coffee and fresh air. I only learned enough this summer about ‘tripping’ to go out for short periods at a time and it took a lot for this urban princess to get that far; but it was something I have dreamed about doing my whole life. The sensation of being alone in the wilderness, prepared to handle the elements is, I believe, not meant to be described. It is meant to be lived, cherished and let go of.

 

Some tips from my experiences:

1) PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

I became aware that planning the route to your destination is crucial. One or two short portages are manageable, but if your packs are too heavy or not packed properly they can make a trip miserable and potentially unsafe for those not physically able to manage. Paddling in places where there are no portages is called a ‘floater’ trip; I highly recommend this when challenging yourself against the elements is not one of your goals.

TIP: ‘floater’ means no need to carry your packs and canoe over land because in this 50km section of the Spanish River there is no water that can’t be traversed (assuming you have at least one experienced paddler). Bottom line, easier and more fresh food can be taken along for your dining pleasure.

2) FOOD

For meals:

I pre-cooked chicken and beef, packed the first day’s lunch in its own ‘clear dry sack’ separate from the other food, I placed food into plastic ‘lock-n-locks’ to take up as little space as possible and it all went into a barrel that seals and floats if your canoe dumps. Our dinner menus included Chicken stir fry for day one, Beef Fajitas for day two, veggie enhanced KD for day three with lots of salad fixings on the side.

For snacks:

We took eggs, ham, yogurt, cheese, crackers, pepperoni sticks, smoked almonds, ‘GORP’ – Good Old Raisins and Peanuts (and don’t forget to throw in some M&M’s) tuna, pickles and cracker thins to.

And to drink:

I (like my daughter) can’t survive anywhere without a good cup of coffee. So I took along pre-ground beans to brew in the camp percolator. I also brought along some tea which was a delight when we pulled off the river for the day and some exquisite Red and White cartons of Ontario wine that made our dinner time meals very civilized.


When I said to my partner Mike, “I wish I didn’t have to leave,” he says “the wilderness is not a place to go to escape from civilization.” The back country gave me a chance this summer to find solace in the simplicity of just existing; each day was unique and long like those I remember from childhood. I think we all live in two interconnected ‘wild worlds’ – a bustling urban landscape and an untouched wilderness.

Surviving the crash of these two worlds is not always comfy but it is thrilling.