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Healthy Hipster Q&A + A Long Weekend Roundup

Good morning everyone! And those of you living in Ontario Happy Family Day! Is that the worst name for a civic holiday of all time? Possibly. But I have a long weekend in February so who’s complaining?

First up, some exciting news! The Healthy Hipster was featured by Toronto-based sassfactory & pilates instructor extraordinaire Brittany on her blog Fine Tune Pilates. So if you want to hear me rant about exercise trends, scrawny hipsters, the fine art of gym fashion & songs I can’t stop listening to….Read the interview here.

I haven’t spent much time at home over the long weekend so my eats have been extremely grab and go. Reheated steel cut oats, almond butter & jam sandwiches, crackers, baby carrots & fennel, heaps of hummus & about 3 bars of dark chocolate have been my main sources of sustenance. Since these don’t sound like pretty pictures to me, I figured I would dedicate today to a photo journal of the things I officially deemed more important than elaborate meals this weekend.

Stuff I bought:

Tickets for two shows I am crazy excited for in March.

This almond milk cortado @ Capitol Espresso in Parkdale.

New jewellery. I saw this in a little vintage store and immediately exclaimed “IS THAT AN EAR CUFF!? ” Clearly it is now MY ear cuff.

Stuff I did:

Stopped into one of my favourite bars up on Bloor St. West The Piston…Don’t let the all black paint job or the lack of sign fool ya, it’s a friendly little spot that also happens to host some great live music shows. Thursday was no exception as one of my absolute favourite Halifax import bands The Taste tore the place down with swoonworthy Harry Nilsson style pop jams.

The Piston. Source: BlogTO

I also popped into Nobody Writes to the Colonel to wish a happy birthday to my good pal Graham Wright. I’d never been to this spot before but it’s warm, cozy atmosphere put everyone in a particularly adorable mood I think.

[Cute, fuzzy red pics courtesy of Spencer MacEachern]

Friday was a big ol’ Motown dance party called The Big Sound, featuring a local Toronto indie bands singin nothin but the hits. It. Was. Amazing. Don’t believe me? Watch this.

And you guessed it, I’m off again to enjoy this last day of long weekend freedom! Although I must say I’m looking forward to posting some new recipes this week as domestic self is feeling rather abandoned at the  moment and the kitchen is calling my name!

blogs, cities, culture


London-based, Nigerian-born designer Duro Olowu serves up a visual feast of West African, 70s inspired print. [TMagazine]

Fashion how-to: defrumping oversized sweaters.  [Refinery 29]

A visual history of Toronto’s yuppie-laden Liberty Village before all the loft conversions. [BlogTO]

Au Revoir Simone stole Miu Miu’s glasses…allegedly. Sweet melodies be damned, I always knew those girls were trouble. [NylonMag]

More reasons to love David Lynch. [Guardian]

Montreal electro-pop singer Grimes loves Mariah Carey & Tumblr. Displays passive aggressive disdain for Lykke Li. [Pitchfork]

Science still doesn’t understand female orgasms, but wants you to have more of them. [Women’s Health]

Happy Saturday Procrastination Day!

blogs, cities, guest post

Healthy Living in an Urban Context

Good morning! How’s everyone managing with their emotional hangovers after Valentine’s Day? A little too much intensity maybe? Some high highs? Some low lows? Hours of self-contemplative processing with friends or partners?

Well it’s a new day and you can take comfort in the fact that all your drama does not have to get sorted out right now. Sure, decisions will need to be made but that will happen naturally in time and all this social pressure won’t help things along. So I suggest a February 15th emotional detox.

Read a magazine. Watch Downton Abbey. Return to that pile of abandoned knitting. Give that brain of yours the distractions it craves and your emotional well-being will thank you.

My contribution to your day of distraction? Go check out my guest post over at The Balance Project as part of the Canadian Healthy Living Blogger Series. I was honoured to participate in this series although I was pretty intimidated by the task of single-handedly representing Toronto. But I tried my best to write from my own experience while providing some helpful tips for cityfolks in general…I really hope you enjoy it!

Here’s a link to my post focusing on…

The Top 3 Obstacles to Healthy Living in An Urban Context (And How to Overcome Them!)

So far there have been posts from Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario & Yellowknife – you can check them all out here!

cities, restaurants

Friday Round-Up: A Week of Highs & Lows

This week my life has sort of mirrored the weather…as in…I’ve seen some pretty crazy ups and downs…

1) HIGH: Went to my very first NHL hockey game!

It was amazing and the fact that I chugged a gigantic grey goose caesar right before the game only improved matters…

And yes that is a piece of pepperoni in my beverage. Ha! Gross/mazing. My dad thoroughly enjoyed snacking on it before the game. 

2) HIGH: Mac & Cheese at the Hogtown Vegan

In a recent conversation with my sister we got to talking about the holy grail of vegan dining: the perfect Mac & Cheese. There are loads of recipes out there involving all the usual vegan suspects like daiya cheese, earth balance, cashews and nutritional yeast as well as some less conventional additions like butternut squash. But we both agreed that whatever the combination, it is seriously tricky to emulate the creamy comfort food magic of mac & cheese…Unless of course you’re a chef at The Hogtown Vegan.

Source: BlogTO

To say I was impressed would be an understatement, I was utterly befuddled. Normally when I go to a vegan restaurant I am secretly plotting how I could recreate the dish at home but with this baked platter of goodness I had no idea whatsoever how I would go about making it…Which was probably the same reason I liked it so much. It was pure pleasure. Ignorant bliss. I paired it with a lovely dinner salad they had on the menu that came loaded up with marinated tofu, a scoop of the best guacamole I’ve had in years, sunflower seeds and fresh crispy vegetables. Sadly my own pics didn’t turn out very well due to the low lighting…But now I just have another reason to go back 🙂


On Monday one of the worst car accidents in Ontario history resulted in the deaths of 11 migrant farm workers from Peru who were on their way home from working at a poultry farm just North of Toronto. While this was, on the surface, just a very tragic accident, it has caused many to rethink the current treatment of migrant workers in this country.

As someone who consciously supports Canadian farmers by purchasing local fruits, vegetables and meats, this accident served as a wakeup call and a tragic reminder that “local” does not always mean “ethical.

I thought immediately of the families of these individuals living in Peru who not only lost their loved ones but their livelihood. Migrant workers in North America often send large portions of their wages back to their native countries to support friends and famlilies there (this money is called remittances). While this process occurs informally, it often serves as the primary income for many families in developing countries.

The Real Price of Sending Money Home from on Vimeo.

What I did about it: 

Bundled up in my long johns and woolies and got my butt out to the local farmer’s market. I figured there must be others like me who wanted to support for the families of these workers, so why not give them the opportunity? The response was incredible. I raised about $300 in 3hrs (it is a teeny tiny market, so this is a SERIOUS chunk of change) plus I handed out a zillion donation cards to folks who didn’t have money on them but wanted to donate online.

And that’s all for now, folks.

Care to share your highs and lows from the week? What are you looking forward to this weekend? 

cities, culture, inspiration

Sunshine & Avant/Garde Inspiration

I am not in the kitchen today. Or the gym. I am in the sunshine. It’s 7 degrees in February and all I want to do is play outside.

So instead of a standard post I am sharing an assortment of things that have been inspiring me over the last week.

Memories of this fantastic production of Cruel and Tender by Canadian director Atom Egoyan.

While the play itself had some interesting thematic content I was completely enamoured with the cinematic quality of the staging. Visually stunning.

Photo Credit: Torontoist

Going to live theatre makes me feel just as giddy and excited as I did as a little kid. And I still HAVE to save my ticket stub and program.

A few snapshots of design details I fell in love with at the Interior Design Show. For some reason I keep returning to these ones.

Woodland Playchair.

Faux Cowhide Alphabet Rug.

Porcelain Tiles.

Water & Wood Dining Table.

Crystal Accents.

Neon Canadiana.

I also can’t stop falling in love with this digital portrait series called The Avant/Garde Diaries. I especially love this one on Rosmarie Köckenberger’s post-industrial cafe/urban garden in Berlin.

Hidden in a 600 square meter big garden in Berlins’ neighborhood Kreuzberg, Rosmarie Köckenberger welcomes her guests, friends and residents to have a coffee and a warm chat in her KJOSK. An almost 50 year old, white painted double-decker bus is used as a mom-and-pop store where people can play Super Mario together, eat local sausages and have a after work beer. Rosmarie offers with her KJOSK a special place, overgrown with greens, to settle back from the bustle of a big city in a familiar atmosphere.

Off to enjoy the day! Hope you’re finding inspiration in unexpected places on this Monday afternoon…

cities, inspiration, profile

Get to Know a Healthy Hipster: Shawna

Today I’ll be starting a new profile series here on the blog. In it, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Healthy Hipsters from different cities and all walks of life. I’m really excited to get rolling but first a brief word of explanation…

I started The Healthy Hipster because I felt really happy and positive about the changes I’d made in my life but I also felt a little…alone. I still considered myself to be an artist, an activist, an academic and even a bit of a scene queen, but I no longer identified with the lifestyle of the Pabst-swilling trustafarians rolling their eyes through indie rockshows and ironic bingo games every night of the week. That said, I certainly didn’t feel at home with the manicured/pedicured yoga moms at my Sunday morning bikram class either. So I branched out. I started writing. And what I found was a community of inspiring, supportive, likeminded people who couldn’t wait to share their lives with me! Sometimes I found that these people were right in front of me all along…

So while you get a chance to see the elements that comprise my definition of a healthy lifestyle every day, I thought it was about time I put the folks who inspire me in the spotlight too.

And who better to start with than a gal who has literally inspired me since the day I was born? That’s right, the gorgeous woman you’re about to meet also happens to be my big sister.

Name: Shawna
Occupation: PhD Student
Location: Portland, Oregon

How would you describe your style of eating?
What are some of the must haves in your fridge/pantry?
Oatmeal, almond milk, almond butter, apples, chia seeds, avocados, bananas, quinoa, beans, tofu, hummus, tahini, Ezekiel bread, Mary’s crackers, kale, garlic, lemons, limes, buckwheat soba noodles, apple cider vinegar, bragg’s, sriracha.
Best local bar/venue/party to go to on a night off?
Central, Holocene, The Sweet Hereafter

Ratatat @ Holocene in Portland, OR

Favourite ways to get active?

  • Core Power Yoga
  • Eliptical Machine
  • Lifting Weights
  • Going for Walks
Who were you in high school? (Cool kid? Art freak? Raver? D & D Master?)
A bit like the Breakfast Club all mixed together…Priss + Freak+ Nerd (Minus the Jock)
Best place to caffeinate/hydrate?
Greatest hero of fiction?
Hamlet (**Did I mention my sister’s doing a PhD in English Lit? 😉 )
Style Icons:
Kate Lanphear, Isabella Blow, Little Edie, Louise Brooks

Little Edie’s derelict debutante style in Grey Gardens

source: Who What Wear

You’re on death row, what’s your last supper?
Coconut Bliss Malted Milkshake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Cheesecake and a Pumpkin Pie.
Most played song on your ipod?
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Are you a Healthy Hipster? Or do you know someone who is?
Send your story to and I might just feature you in a future post!
cities, gettin critical, reviews

The Right Demographic

A word of warning…if you could care less about shopping or interior design feel free to breeze on past this post.

Alright so you know how sometimes a new film/product/store comes out that is so transparently targeted to your demographic its embarrassing? If you’re struggling to think of an example, just look at the the following ad campaign produced by everybody’s favourite Soybean Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup-based mayonnaise alternative…Miracle Whip:

 Jeez Miracle Whip is so much like me! I mean when I’m in a panini or crostini…you definitely know it! Ahem…

The only thing more embarrassing than a failed attempt at capturing the hearts and minds of young people (or, more specifically, hipsters) is when it totally works. When your advanced liberal arts degree makes you completely aware of the marketing ploys being used to capture your attention, but you still can’t help becoming obsessed with it? Like how I felt about that movie Garden State back when I was in college, or Miranda July movies now. American Apparel Henleys. The New Yorker App for Ipads. Fjällräven Backpacks. Portlandia. Jason Schwartzman…just generally.

Well this afternoon I had the opportunity to check out CB2, the DJ-on-the-weekends-but-mostly-just-freelancing younger brother store of the Crate & Barrel franchise and the newest addition to Toronto’s Queen St. West neighborhood.

The building was recently converted from a dirty bar we used to call The Big Bop.





Suffice it to say this store had my number.

Allow me to demonstrate using this visual checklist of Stuff Toronto Hipsters Like. Starting with (of course)…

Vegan Food

Ironic T-Shirts 

Vintage Toronto Nostalgia AND Dirty Bars (2 for 1!) 
That’s right, they preserved the original Big Bop sign and displayed it in-store.

Canadiana, Racially Insensitive “Native” Themed

Canadiana, Sports & Mountie Themed.

Needless to say I’ll be returning to this place as soon as I have the money/time/space/patience to redecorate. So basically when I’m in my 30s and no longer find this stuff cute. Siggggh.

Does interior design make you drool or do you still store your records and clothes in milkcrates?
Are there any products/marketing campaigns you hate to buy into…but just can’t resist

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?

cities, restaurants, reviews

I’ll Have What She’s Having…Dressing on the Side: High Maintenance Foodies

My sister asked me yesterday if I considered myself high maintenance. I thought about her question for a minute and then replied, “Well…not in relationships. But definitely when it comes to food.”

Allow me explain.

Am I a “picky” eater?
Not at all. I love to experiment with crazy foods and new flavours, which is a real bonus in a city like Toronto because fusion cuisine is everywhere right now (korean tacos anyone?)

Am I a health food junkie?
Not even! In fact I find that even with my healthy foodie/flexitarian preferences I can almost always find something I enjoy at restaurants, family functions and friend dinners. Plus I never stress about it because my fridge is always loaded and I am more than happy to supplement my meals with extra protein and veggies when I get home. Easy peasy.

Here’s the thing…
I’m cheap.
And not in an “I refuse to ever eat at a restaurant or only eat fast food” kind of way. I’m happy to pay for quality restaurant fare. Its just that I hate overpaying for food and beverages that are either subpar or not at all what I expected. When this happens a bubbling rage begins to burn inside me and trust…its not a pretty sight.

So here’s the high maintenance part…I tend to be very…particular…about my choices when I order. I ask for things on the side, siracha on top, my eggs poached rather than fried, an additional sweet potato here, a few crispy shallots there…whatever it is…if I’m really craving it and I see it on the menu I am never afraid to ask. Of course it is the perogative of the cooks and service staff whether they wish to accomodate, and I definitely don’t push my luck during a breakfast or lunch rush, but I figure why not ask? The worst they can say is no and I’m always perfectly accepting of that response also. As long as I ask for what I want, no matter what they say, I avoid the dreaded menu remorse and remain happily rage-free.

All of this to say, its the holidays. I have houseguests. And I’ve been eating out a lot. However, I seem to be mastering the art of the perfect order because I’ve been more than satisfied with all my choices. Here are two highlights from the past week:

1) Monster Salad Bowl from Urban Herbivore.

The Specs: 
Spinach and arugula base
Roasted potatoes and root veggies
Shredded raw carrots & beets
Sauteed Mushrooms
Marinated tofu cubes
Pumpkin seeds
Tahini/Lemon Dressing 

Why it was the best: 
A good balance of protein, starchy carbs, healthy fat and fibre-licious veggies kept me full. No messing around.

2) Korean BBQ Bibimbap at Bi Bim Bap Stonebowl Riceteria.

The Specs
Brown rice base (crisp and caramelized on the bottom due to the heat from the hot stone bowl)
Korean Radish
Bean Sprouts
Shredded Carrots & Zucchini
Sweet Potato Stems
Dried Seaweed & Sesame Seeds
Marinated Korean BBQ Chicken
Fried Egg
Hot Sauce & Soy Ginger Sauce

Why it was the best
See above.
Seriously though these toppings alone made the meal well worth it since I would never have so many specialty ingredients at home. Not to mention Korean food is so darn tasty what with all of its sauces and marinades not to mention the mother of all condiments (kimchi!!) Oh yeah and remember that part where I said it was made with brown freakin rice. I remember. This place was the best. 

So…are you a high maintenance patron or do you just roll with restaurant punches?


blogs, cities

Happy Hipsters: December Street Style.

A few weeks ago me and my terribly stylish pal Rob were spotted for a December Street Style feature in the Toronto-based art/fashion/design/culture rag CONTRA.

They caption the image “Happy Hipsters” which is a total contradiction if you ask me. I mean…we hipsters don’t display enthusiasm, right? That goofy grin on my face is probably just a reaction to the blaring winter sun. Or maybe – halfway through a discussion of the new Lars von Trier film – we both simultaneously scoffed at the idea that his new work could ever live up to the Danish Europa Trilogy. Come to think of it, I can be certain we weren’t smiling because since Bored to Death got cancelled on HBO & Louis CK isn’t funny-ha-ha there is literally nothing in the world we’re allowed to laugh at.

Okay, okay so maybe I’m being a tad facicous. 😉

In all seriousness…Happy HipsterPretty darn close!