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Reliving the Weekend

Remember when it was the weekend??

Le sigh.

While Toronto may be a go-go-go city throughout the week, I love the pace it takes on over the weekend. Families emerge in their neighbourhoods with a more friendly and relaxed manner.

Let us bask in the weekend once more with a Sunday recap, shall we?

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Breaking News:

Sister Sara and I are doing a half marathon together!! Completing a half marathon was actually one of my 2010 goals. But it got sidelined once I decided to move halfway across the country. Now it will be accomplished in May 2011 with my big sis at my side! I think it’s the perfect goal for both of us to have right now and will be a fun bonding experience :)

We spent 4-ish miles chatting about our future half marathon and other things while running along my favourite lakefront trail Sunday morning. We’re lucky enough to pace similarly and are currently maintaining the same mileage base. Should be a fun adventure!

After working up an appetite running, Sara, my mom, roommie and I all hit up a local joint for Sunday brunch.

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Pulp Kitchen has been on my “to-visit list” forrrever! They’re a vegan/vegetarian restaurant with a juice bar.

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That waitress totally called us out for being East Coasters for talking about Joel Plaskett and Jill Barber. Ha!
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I treated myself to a Chunky Monkey shake made with chocolate soymilk, banana and espresso.

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Roommie Megan got the Cocoa Berry shake with chocolate soymilk, strawberries, banana and ginko biloba.

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Megan’s was awesome, but I enjoyed the caffeine boost in mine!

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Megan got the scrambled tofu wrap which looked really good.

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Mom got the PK sandwich with crispy tofu, avocado and cilantro dijon mayo. She said she enjoyed the bread and crispy mayo.

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Sara got the blueberry waffles. I tried a bit, but we all agreed mine are better ;)

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Finally, I got the stewed beans and bangers with homemade vegan baked beans and veggie sausage. This was so filling! I appreciated that the beans were made in house and not canned, but now I totally want to try making this at home. 

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After brunch we wandered around the ‘hood poking our heads into all the antique and vintage clothing stores. I also brought Sara to get the best cinnamon buns in Toronto. I’m not joking here folks. And I’m something of a “connoisseur” on the subject.

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These come from Sweet Bliss Baking Company on Queen St East. I first tried one in August and it was love at first bite. I held off on this day though. Instead I had a few bites of the blueberry scone which was also nothing short of amazing.

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The other great thing about weekends is that people bring their dogs out!! You do not want to be around me when a dog is in the vicinity. I start to get weepy and ask if I can take photos of them.IMG_2991

I want one so bad! Someday… When I’m no longer a vagabond…

Sunday finished off with a wonderful dinner at my aunt Heather’s place. She made a chicken chili (breast, not ground, yum!) topped with sour cream and an amazing olive bread. I had way more bread than pictured. Holymoly.

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Cousins!

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My mom’s mom, aka my Nana, had several siblings. Thus, my mother has even more cousins. All of which she is very close with. I’m not sure if her cousins are technically “aunts” and “uncles” by definition. But they’re as good as that to me!

 

Ahh… the weekend seems so far away now. But even after working 15 hours today (yes, I did) I was still able to find just as many joys. Here’s to a fabulous work week!

 

Question of the Day: What is your favourite weekend activity? I love exercising on the weekends then treating myself to a big meal (or beer!) after. And of course, exploring new spots in this city of mine :)

Food Matters

Hello friends!! Hope everyone had a great start to the week! Mine has been pretty darn good. A full day of great training clients, then seeing one of my favourite chefs/authors in person!!

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Mark Bittman, first and foremost, is the author of several of my favourite Runner’s World columns. He’s also the man behind The Minimalist. Always my favourite food column in the New York Times.

Ohyeah, and he’s got a bunch of those things… books?? :P

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Tonight, he spoke mostly about the content in his Food Matters book to promote the new Food Matters Cookbook. It’s all about eating consciously. I’m actually more familiar with How To Cook Everything, which is one of his awesomely simple and easy to follow cookbooks.

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I went in armed with not only my camera and foodie excitement, but also my trusty notebook. I’m an old journalist after all, I can’t help but take notes! Here are some of my favourite points from the Q&A:

  • Americans spend only 7% of their income on food. A very low percentage representing how many are living off cheap processed food.
  • “Pay the farmer, not the hospital.”
  • Ideally, our diets would consist of 90% plants with 10% coming from everything else (meat, processed food, and “junk”). An alarming number of people take in the reverse percentages. Bittman says we don’t have to be perfect – we just need to “seesaw” to get those numbers closer together. i.e. More plants, less of everything else.
  • Bittman thinks veganism is the highest form of conscious eating, but admitted  he personally will never get there. Instead he does a vegan diet until 6pm every day, then might have animal products with dinner. He said it doesn’t matter if you are a vegan, so long as you take steps in that direction.
  • Drew several comparisons between cigarettes and processed foods. Mentioned that only a few people quit smoking when the surgeon general’s warning against it came out in 1964. It took mass coercion and enforcement to see a big change in the number of people smoking. He used this to demonstrate that warning about the health risks of processed foods may not be enough. Also pointed out that much like cigarettes are linked to cancer, some foods are linked to diabetes.
  • “Cooking is not a spectator sport.” Bittman is not a huge fan of the Food Network, saying, “People are too busy watching other people cook on television.” Touché.

Overall it was a fun Q&A! I raised my hand to ask him about how running changed his perception of food, but my hand was never picked. I will say he’s exactly how I pictured him. Brutally honest, funny, self-deprecating and personable all in one.

 

Now how about I start showing you some food!

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I’ve had a few stellar food combinations recently. Beginning with this bowl of spicy oats.

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1/2 cup rolled oats cooked with water, a pinch of salt, bacon, and a scoop of cream cheese. Topped with two soft-fried eggs and Frank’s hot sauce.

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The cream cheese made the oats just that – creamy and cheesy! Runny yolks on hot oats is something you must try if you’re in to that sort of thing. It’s dreamy!

I’ve also been mixing cream cheese into salsa.

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Makes it something a little reminiscent of that neon-orange Tostitos con queso dip and awesome with carrots!

I paired this combo with a ham + swiss sandwich. Except I added a little kick with fresh herbs.

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In this case, a oregano under the melted cheese. I remember Leah posting about keeping fresh herbs on hand so I’ve been giving it a go. Wow! They make everything taste a million times better!

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Just like that, with a little cream cheese and oregano, my dinner turned from blah to extraordinary :)

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Dessert lately hasn’t been too classy.

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Some days I crave the fancy dark 80-whatever chocolate. Other days I just want some old-school Jersey Milk.

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Hits the spot. Reminds me of childhood when I only ate milk chocolate.

 

Another childhood favourite is sloppy joes paired with corn. I don’t know why my mother always made this particular combo, but now every time I eat sloppy joes, corn needs to be had. I polished off the lentil-based Snobby Joes the way they were meant to be eaten… on a bun. 

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Much better warm on a bun as opposed to cold on a pita like I’d been eating it.

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With the corn and green beans! Perfection.

There happens to be a fruit and vegetable stand a block away from the running store I work at. Their baskets are brimming with local Ontario apples and I can’t help but snatch some up every time I pass!

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Including this GINORMOUS honeycrisp. I put it in front of this crappy DVD for size comparison, but I realize you’re not getting the width of it here, which was very respectable indeed.

I ate it all.

Last, but not least, I’ve been snacking on Scottish treats!

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And by “snack” I mean I came home tonight and completely demolished the rest of the traditional Scottish oatcakes. Left side topped with PB + fluff, right side with almond butter + chocolate chips. Too bad I don’t have any jam in the house – it would be perfect! Guess I’ll just have to make more ;)

 

**If you’ve got a few seconds**
 pleasepleaseplease click here to vote for my Taste of Scotland post for the Project Food Blog contest!

And thank you if you already have! I just worked out a really fun concept for the third dinner party challenge and I really want to share it!

 

Question of the Day: What famous chef would you like to meet? Obviously my pick here is Alton Brown. I <3 that man!

Kombucha vs. Beer

Some great suggestions on how to save moulah at the grocery store in my last post! Ironic, because I definitely spent a lot of money on food today. But let’s start at the beginning…

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Ever have those mornings when you just can’t decide what to put on your toast?

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One piece was smothered with Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams + Marshmallow Fluff.

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The other piece had a slice of bacon and a fried egg.

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Sweet + savoury, gotta love it!

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Plus some fresh figs for good measure. These are definitely ripe, but still bland. I’m thinking they’re just sub-par figs? Anyone in Italy wanna send me some? :P

Kept the theme of fresh fruit going for my mid-morning snackage.

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Cottage cheese, almond butter, cinnamon, maple syrup, blueberries. Amazing combo.

No workout today, I like to give my body a break every 3-4 days. I still went to the gym though – but for work!! How weird is that? I love it. I’m training my first client on Monday and I’m pumped. Also, I got a call today for a second interview at Starbucks! Pretty excited for that too, as I genuinely love hawking lattes for people. If all goes well, work shouldn’t feel like too much work ;)

I’d gotten a few recommendations to check out the restaurant Kale, so I decided to hit it up for lunch while I was in the ‘hood.

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Kale is a vegan & organic buffet where you pay by the weight of your plate.

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When I first walked in, I was a little disappointed by the lack of choice. Usually these types of places have sooooo much to choose from.

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I tried to go small with my servings, but my plate still came to $12!

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Let’s see… there was a cabbage salad, dill and avocado salad (didn’t realize the avocado until I sat down, risked it and didn’t die… yay!)

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sweet potato stew… 

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shephard’s pie made with lentils…

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…soba noodle salad and curried tofu. I’d say my favourite thing on the plate was the above pasta salad. I really liked the parsley in it. I was disappointed with the shephard’s pie, which is too bad because it had so much potential! I probably won’t be going back based on the price for what you get, luckily there are tons of other great places nearby :)

Including a store dedicated solely to organization.

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I couldn’t help but walk in. It’s full of plastic bins and shelving, little trinkets and gadgets, it was fascinating. I walked out with a closet organizer I convinced myself I needed. Remind me never to go back in this store :P

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By the time I made it home, I was hot, sweaty, and in need of refreshment. I pulled out the kombucha I had chilling in the fridge. For those of you that don’t know, kombucha is fermented tea. That means it’s regular tea that has sat fermenting with a hunk of of yeast and bacteria in it. Averie has been making it at home and the whole process fascinates me.

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I’m all for a little healthy bacteria in my life, but this stuff scares me. I thought the peach flavour would mask any grossness (a proper word according to my Windows Live Writer), but it kind of tasted like vinegar. Expensive peach-flavoured vinegar. I think I will stick to my yogurt and fermented soy :)

By this time, my vegan lunch three hours prior had left me hungry again, and the kombucha left me still thirsty. There are only two remedies in circumstances such as these.

Beer + Burgers.

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Let it be known that I only ordered a 12oz draught of PBR, but ended up drinking two. My friends each ordered their own pitcher and the waitress said she couldn’t serve one table that much liquor at once!! Baahahaha. This is what happens when you get a group of Maritime journalists together.

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Chris + Nick on the left are visiting from Fredericton. That’s my roommie Billy on the right, aka “Marshal” ;)

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Me and Meg! She’s my other roommie/soon-to-be biking partner.

Don’t worry about all this beer you are seeing though, I balanced it out by going bun-less ;)

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Beef burger on bib lettuce with beets, chipotle ketchup, French’s mustard and pickles. W Burger Bar is one of those restaurants where you choose your patty, bun, and then toppings for no additional cost. Thumbs up!!!

The Maritime journalists continued on, while I hopped on the streetcar home. I had tofu to attend to.

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The main ingredient for the dish I’m bringing to a blogger potluck picnic tomorrow. You’ll have to wait and see what it is!

Now, if you don’t mind, I have to go pick the tofu out of my hair :P

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