Monthly Archives: November 2010

Things I Learned: November Edition

A simple cone filter really does make the best coffee. Better than a French press!

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I need not be afraid of butter. It makes everything taste uh-mazing.

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Well, almost amazing. I also need to double and triple-check recipes. Adding twice the amount of butter to a bread recipe will leave you with a flat, dense, and crusty loaf.

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But there are always ways to redeem myself and turn a #bakingfail into a #bakingwin :)

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Ham & cheese can make anything taste good!

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Fish tacos, where have you been all my life??

Jack Russell Terriers may be small, but I think they can out-run me.

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Blog friends are the bestest.

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I agree with Janetha, we all need to move to an island together.

Do not drink a giant mug of coffee before a yoga class. And if you do, make sure you have access to a washroom close to the studio.

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Working at a running store has become a great way to unload unwanted sweets from my kitchen. Give a group of hungry runners 20 chocolate chip cookie dough balls, and they will have them demolished in less than two hours.

You can never have too many running shoes.

Especially when a pair of Saucony Progrid Ride 2 & Brooks Ghost 2 shoes only cost you $25 each. Did I mention I love my job?

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Turkey + cranberry + stuffing makes for an awesome sandwich filling…

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…but only when using real leftovers. Sliced turkey, mayonnaise and stuffing that isn’t my mom’s just doesn’t have the same flavour.

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Working 7 hours on your feet and walking a mile to work still doesn’t equal 10,000 steps.

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But little things, like walking to the grocery store and getting off the bus a stop early surprisingly add up!!

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Yoga, in my humble opinion, is one of the best ways to experience a new city. Better than a tour bus, and more relaxing too.

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Chinese food really is better on the West Coast.

Six months is too long to go without travelling home. I miss my hometown, no matter how small, ugly or boring it may be.

Toronto really does stink. I still haven’t adjusted to the air quality here and find running in the pollution much harder than expected. I miss the fresh air!

And I miss the snow. I wake up every morning hoping to see a white winterland outside. I had no idea I was so attached to the stuff!

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Finally, I learned that while I may not have left my heart in San Francisco, I definitely left it on the West Coast. This East Coast gal still has some exploring to do.

Question of the Day: What did you learn in November?

Don’t forget!!
**I’m accepting your favourite cookie recipes until Thursday for a special holiday cookie post. Leave yours here!
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Toronto’s “Best”: Sushi Marché

Seeing as I’m a foodie living in a city with 10,000 restaurants, I try to make a point of eating at one new place every week. I budget for one restaurant outing a week, but depending on the calibre of the restaurant even that can get expensive!

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by top-notch restaurants here in the East end of Toronto. Some of the city’s best are just a hop, skip and perhaps a roll away.

Including Sushi Marché.

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Sushi Marche is a take-out sushi spot located on Queen St E. It consistently gets stellar revues across the board. The head chef having even worked under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

You’d think I’d have been all over this place as soon as I landed here. I love sushi. But Sushi Marché is expensive. Especially for a take-out joint. Despite the rave revues and famous chef, I could just never bring myself to pay 30 bucks for a teeny serving of fish and rice, no matter how good. Y’all know I’m a cheapskate!

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Thankfully, the whole online “group coupon” thing is big in Toronto right now. Everyday, I get a dozen e-mails to my inbox offering half price for haircuts, manicures, exercise classes and of course restaurants. So when $15 for $30 worth of Sushi Marché popped up, I jumped on the chance!

I waited until Sunday evening to order my sushi feast. After a long weekend of working at the running store and an empty fridge at home, it was the perfect opportunity. I had to call an hour ahead because it usually takes 40-60 minutes to prepare. You can tell they put special care and attention into their food!

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I started with red tuna + salmon sashimi. I loooove sashimi for its rich taste and thick texture. But both kind fell a little flat to me. The tuna tasted bland.

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Next up was the eel/avocado inside-out roll with eel, avocado, cucumber, fish roe and spicy sauce. I ordered this because I am always getting recommendations to try the eel. Unfortunately the pieces of eel were a little too small to get the full flavour.

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Finally, the roll that gets the most rave reviews, kamikaze roll with tuna, tempura flakes, cucumber, fish roe and spicy sauce. Now this was amazing. The tempura flakes and spicy sauce had me salivating as I ate it. That is, until I got that inevitable citrus bite. Sushi Marché is known for using citrus in their rice, something that isn’t very traditional. I thought this meant “citrus scented.” Apparently it means “random hunks of citrus that make you pucker.” Totally ruined what could have been a stellar roll for me.

Verdict? Happy I finally got to try the famed Sushi Marché. Even happier I didn’t pay the full thirty bucks for this. Especially since I was still hungry enough to eat an apple after.

For me, sushi will always be something that is about the dining experience. Not about taking it home in a plastic bag to eat off my coffee table. The best sushi I’ve ever had was actually in Moncton, New Brunswick. Sharing a boat on my birthday with my mother as we bonded over magnificent food together.

I guess it’s not so much the chef, hype or jacked up prices. But rather the company you keep.

Mom, we are totally hitting up Pink Sushi again when I’m home :)

 

Question of the Day: What has been your biggest dining disappointment?

Food For Thought Sundays: Protein Powder

Hellohello! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Even better if it was a long weekend for you!

I am coming off a weekend of working Thu-Sun straight. Well, technically a week of Mon-Sun. But that is neither here nor there. I’m here to talk about food!

Well, in our case today, “food like substances.”

As a personal trainer, I get a lot of questions about protein powders. Should people be using them, what kinds to get, how to eat them.

I always respond by telling people that I’m a bit of a hippie in the sense that I think nutrients should come from unprocessed natural foods. Not in powder form!

Of course, I’m also realistic and realize the diet of the average person could use a little boost. Especially the average active person! Long-time readers of my blog will know I’m a regular user of protein powder. I just try to use it wisely and sparingly.

First and foremost protein powder will not make you gain weight. That is, if you swap it out with other foods in your diet. For example, you can’t eat your regular daily foods and add a 300 calorie protein shake on top of that. Then you will gain weight. Rather, swap out one of your meals or snacks with the shake and you’re replacing rather than adding calories.

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So why would someone want to use protein powder? A number of reasons. Some people like to drink a protein shake after weight lifting or intense activity to help in muscle repair. This just means the muscle tissues damaged during the workout build back up better, which helps you get that lean look you’re after. Some say it helps with soreness as well. Although, I personally have never noticed a difference.

Protein powder is also a way to get protein without additional fat or carbohydrates. It’s pretty easy to find a food that’s straight up carbohydrate (sugar) or fat (oil). But natural proteins usually come with additional macronutrients. Some are better than others, like egg whites or white fish, but protein powder is a way to get your protein straight-up!

There are tons of different kinds of protein powders out there. Here are the most common:

 

Whey

Whey protein is the most common kind. It’s a protein found in milk. It’s known as being quick digesting and best for right after a workout when you want protein asap.

 

Casein

Casein also comes from milk, but is a little slower digesting. People who use casein usually have it before bed to help muscle repair overnight (when breakdown of the muscles can occasionally occur). Casein is also a popular dairy allergen, so careful with this one if you have sensitivities!

 

Soy

The protein found in soy beans. This is a much finer powder and great for baking with. You can sub out some of the flour in a recipe with soy protein without too much of a texture difference. A lot of people are now careful of their soy consumption these days because of its estrogen content (which can mean breast cancer for women). I say take it in moderation just like anything else.

 

Hemp

Hemp is actually a whole protein, containing all the essential amino acids. One of the few vegan sources that does besides soy. Hemp is typically a very fine powder and has an “earthy” taste. Some people dig it, I think it takes some getting used to.

 

Brown Rice

I have honestly never tried brown rice protein. Mostly because the carb-protein ratio is close to equal on this stuff and I prefer a powder that’s mostly protein.

 

Egg Protein

Another powder I haven’t tried. Mostly because egg whites have a great percentage of protein to begin with, so I have no need for it isolated in powder form!

 

Speaking of isolation, that’s a word you will hear a lot. Protein isolate means that the protein has been isolated from the source so the powder is essentially pure protein. Protein concentrate means it’s still mixed with a little carb, fat and other ingredients.

 

Because there are so many brands and flavours out there, I’m not going to go through them all. Different people have different tastes. But here are some things to look for:

  • Sweetener. I try to use unflavoured powders or ones sweetened with stevia. Artificial sweeteners include sucralose or acesulfame potassium. I usually stay away from them because too much gives me digestive issues.
  • Serving size. Some powders list one scoop as 20g, others list one as 45g. Before you get excited about how many grams of protein there are, make sure you double check the calories and serving size that are listed as well.
  • Weird ingredients. The isolate/concentrate protein should be at the top, followed be a sweetener, perhaps a gum thickening agent, and a flavouring. Anything else is unnecessary.

 

The last question I get asked all the time is how do I use it?

Well, in smoothie form is most common. Usually with a juice or milk and some fruit. I personally don’t like to drink my calories, so I eat my protein powders in solid form! Here are some of my favourite recipes featuring protein powder:

Stove-top Chocolate Chip Breakfast Oatcakes
Dairy-Free(ish) Protein Pancakes
The Best Bowl of Oatmeal Ever
Black Bean Burgers
Protein Cakes
Apple Cinnamon Protein Bars
Homemade Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars

And my all-time favourite, chocolate “brownie batter”

So there you have it! The down-low on protein powders. Not necessary but a welcome addition to what used to be my carb-heavy diet. As an active person, my body loves the protein boost. As mentioned above, I do use protein powders sparingly and never have more than one serving a day. The hippie in me still wants real food that doesn’t come in powder form ;)

 

Question of the Day: Do you use protein powder? What kind?

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