Phew! I came back to Toronto this week with the intentions of resting up, packing up, and tying up some loose ends. Instead, the last seven days have turned into one big Torontonian feast. I have two days before my next doctor’s appointment in Ottawa and I’m officially stuffed.
I’ve been trying my best to get in some face time with my Toronto friends before I leave for good at the end of the month. Thing is, ALL of these dates involve food. That’s what I get for being a foodie who mostly associates with other foodies.
My best foodie friends of course, are my fellow Toronto bloggers.
Friday night I took a break from my Toronto restaurant bucket list for a dinner party at Morgan’s with Kristin. I mean, for people who claim to love cooking so much, we don’t actually do a lot of it when we get together. So it was a fun way to break away from the ordinary!
I’ve had to forbid myself from heavy duty cooking or baking. I did a number on my right and only good hand last week making banana bread. Because my left arm is in a cast, I get overuse pains in my right hand very easily. I had trouble lifting glasses of water for two days after the banana bread incident. So I have to be extra careful with it.
Thus, I brought store-bought hummus. Albeit, made in store at the Leslieville Cheese Market. It was kinda awesome and not that expensive.
Homemade crackers have been on my “to-bake” list forever. But I had to resist and instead bought a package of locally made crackers. These were very expensive.
Kristin brought her Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad.
And Morgan made a Mexican casserole which I ate top of tortilla chips (Que Pasa, the best) with lotsa cheese.
Oh yeah, and shortbread cookies for dessert! It was a fun and relaxing evening hanging out with two blog-world friends turned real-world friends. The best part is gossiping about the things that don’t make the blog ;)
Monday night we decided to venture out. I know I proclaimed to rarely eat at the same place twice. But by now I hope you’ve realized I’m a filthy liar.
Many discussions between Callie and I have revolved around self-serve froyo. It’s the nature of our relationship. Toronto (and Canada!) has distinctly lacked such places until recently. We made a date to visit Menchie’s Monday night and realized a real meal first would probably be appropriate. Morgan joined us, as she too couldn’t turn down a solid vegetarian meal.
Fresh, an all vegetarian restaurant, is conveniently located just down the street on Bloor. In the nine months I’ve lived in Toronto, I’ve been here six times. Just goes to show how much I love this place. Not only are the dishes creative and tasty, but they’re also all healthy. I can eat here any day of the week and not feel like I’ve gone of course with my healthy eating.
I ordered the Tangled Thai Salad: shredded carrot & yellow beets, jicama, napa cabbage, chopped peanuts, cilantro, cucumber & our high protein, omega rich * salad topper with peanut lime dressing
and crispy tofu cubes.
The salad itself was delicious with the spiralized veggies and a crunchy salad topper made up of puffed quinoa, goji berries, currants, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds & sea salt. Divine. My only complaint is the bowl was too small and made the tangled salad incredibly messy to eat. I lost a lot of it to the table and do not eat off the table in restaurants!!
The salad also left plenty of room for what was arguably the main course.
Of the dozen or so frozen yogurt flavours “on tap,” I went for the nonfat frozen hot chocolate. I taste tested a lot of flavours before committing to this one. It was just slightly more mild than the regular chocolate. There were even more toppings to choose from, including a hot and cold station. I opted to go for a “s’mores” theme, topping with graham crumbs, marshmallows, brownie bits, cookie dough bits and chocolate sprinkles. My only regret is that I forgot chocolate sauce.
Callie opted for a “banana split on crack.”
All I can say is, it’s probably a good thing I’m moving far away from this froyo place ;)
Morgan, Callie and I ended up sitting here for a couple hours laughing our faces off (Morgan being brought to tears at one point) and admiring the “celebs” on the wall.
It’s funny thinking back to the hot days of summer when I first moved to Toronto and was meeting up with these ladies for the very first time. My other friends in town would tease me for going out on these blogger blind dates. Like the first time I met Kristin, or the time I met Morgan on the brink of hangover death. Then of course, I got to know Callie pretty well during our 16-hour car ride together to Chicago and back.
Turns out I ended up with some pretty great friends. The best kind really, who understand my need to agonize over froyo flavours and appreciate a good tub of hummus.
Yup, “blogger friends” rank pretty high on the list of things I’ll miss about Toronto.
Because I now work mostly in the afternoons and evenings, I find myself doing all my food preparation in the mornings. Things that I can quickly zap when I get home, or will carry well in a tupperware container to work with me.
Even though it’s the dead of winter, I find myself cravings salads. The kind that get better after a day of sitting in the fridge. Even better, the kind that can be frantically eaten cold in between training clients or my second job.
Because I am the Queen of Wasting Time on the Internet, I went through 101 chicken recipes on the Cooking Light Website. Yes, this is how I make use of my not-so-spare time.
Of all 101 recipes, this Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh recipe was one of the few that really stuck out.
Grains, protein, vitamin-packed parsley and feta for a little kick. Perfection.
Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh
from Cooking Light
- 3/4 cup uncooked bulgur
- 1 cup boiling water
2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast2 chicken breasts, boiled in water to cook 1 cup chopped plum tomato4 regular tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped English cucumber
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup finely chopped
green onionssweet onion 1/4 cup chopped fresh mintomitted because I couldn’t find any!
- 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon
bottledminced garlic 1/4 teaspoon salt
/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Place bulgur in a medium bowl; cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. (I always cook bulgur like I do rice – add to boiling water then let simmer covered until cooked. The above method never works for me!)
2. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.
It looks like I made a lot of changes to the recipe, but I actually kept the key steps intact. It’s got the perfect amount of parsley and feta so that it doesn’t overpower everything. And it’s got way less oil than most tabbouleh recipes, without feeling like it could have used more.
I of course ate it on top of a giant bed of spinach, as I do with most leftovers. Plumps up the dish to make me feel like I’m eating a lot more!
For my next salad, I was inspired by this mango slaw I made over the summer. Except this time I really want to bring out the “Asian” flavours.
Pork & Mango Slaw
- 3 small boneless pork chops (around 8-9 oz)
- 2 small mangoes (or 1 large one), cut into thin strips
- 1 bag coleslaw mix (they’re all the same size, right?)
- 1/4 cup slivered red onion
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Braggs (or soy sauce of your liking)
Cook the pork chops in a frying pan until no longer pink in the centre (they’ll turn white as they get more cooked). Be sure not to overcook them – they cook quickly and dry out easily! Meanwhile, assemble everything else in a big bowl. Chop up cooked pork into little pieces and toss together. Tastes best after sitting in the fridge overnight.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I make really good coleslaws. Or maybe I just really love coleslaws. You can’t go wrong with this flavour combo, and it was a total cinch to make at 10am!
Yup, I even eat my coleslaw on top of spinach. Gotta build up those Popeye biceps.
Even though my meals have been cold lately, I’ve been keeping toasty with lots of warm drinks!
Warming up in coffee shops with friends!
Plus, y’all know I can be suckered with the promise of handsome employees ;)
They roast they’re own coffee here. A neat concept to me as back home local roasters are hard to come by.
I ordered what they call a “Flat White.” A long espresso with a dash of steamed milk and foam.
As I told Morgan, I like to judge the quality of espresso based on how much sugar I want to put in it. Good espresso is rich and caramelly and doesn’t need a hint of additional sweetness. And this stuff went down smooooth. Thumbs UP!
By the bye, Morgan is hosting a Vegan For A Week challenge next week. Click here to read all about it and even join the facebook page. I won’t be participating fully as I’m traveling to Ottawa next week. BUT I will be featuring some stellar vegan recipes just to show that you don’t need animals to make a healthy, satisfying meal. And FYI: most beers are vegan too ;)
Question of the Day: What’s your favourite thing to order in a cafe? I think I’ve asked this question before, but I want to know again! I always love long espressos or espresso macchiatos. I don’t have an espresso machine at home so it’s always a treat!
First and foremost thank you to everyone out there who took the time to comment, e-mail, Facebook and message birthday wishes to me. I definitely felt very loved yesterday and lucky to have so many wonderful people around who care! Even though I’m a quarter century now, I like to think that I haven’t peaked just yet ;)
Not only did I get to celebrate with my Maritime friends here in Toronto, but with my local blogger friends too!
I have to admit, that when I heard Morgan was planning a big TO meet-up, I asked her to push it to this past weekend to give us an excuse to celebrate. Morgan happened to choose Commensal, a vegetarian buffet. They also give you a free lunch or dinner on your birthday. Morgan hooked me up and I didn’t have to pay for my meal – score!!
Commensal is actually a chain, I’ve been to their Quebec City location before. That was back when I was a vegetarian living in a small city. Going to a restaurant where I could eat everything was a big deal. Not to mention, seeing all the unique ways they assembled meat-free food.
These days, my meat-eating self is not the biggest fan of pay-by-weight places. I find they’re overpriced and your food is always cold by the time you sit down. But I still managed to scrap up some good stuff ;)
Let’s see if I can remember it all… My favourite item was by far the apple and beet salad. Lightly dressed and refreshing. Above is also the oriental seitan. Sweet, the way I like it, and the seitan was a nice change from the usual tofu.
I have no idea what that pastry roll is. Tasted like an herbed bread thing in the centre.
The bottom slice with the squigly lines is smoked tofu. I was the most disappointed by this. Flavourless and wrapping it up caused a weird texture. On top of that is veggie pate. I ate this on top of a slice of pita bread. I stocked up on this because I love veggie pate and never make it at home. But, it wasn’t as good as my mom’s ;)
To the left is some curried tofu with couscous. Again, just alright. The tofu was bland. Like they didn’t marinate it or anything. To the right is the seitan bourguignon. I honestly don’t remember what this tasted like. So I guess that says something. Finally, there was also some deeeelicious roasted sweet potato and steamed kale to round it out.
Really though, it’s not like I was paying much attention to the food. I had people to talk to!!
- Claire from Claire Loves
- Preena from A Teaspoon Of Tumeric
- Lisa from Vegan Culinary Crusade
- Angela from Eat Spin Run Repeat
- Therese from Life’s Tasty Adventures
- Callie from Callieflower Kitchen
Me and Callie, reunited!! We bonded over 16 hours in the car together when we drove to Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit. She’s back in the Tee Dot!! Yayyy!! Don’t we look like we could be sisters?
Then there’s my CanFitPro study buddy, Angela. We did our Nutrition & Wellness courses at the same time. She’s a spin instructor and I’m counting on her helping me out with group instructor training ;)
More lovely faces!! A lot of good running conversations happening here.
- Tracy from Commit To Fit
- Candice from Twitter Fame
- Samantha from Health Happiness & Skinny Jeans
- Sara from They Call It Gumption
My table! (that’s my clean plate in the front)
- Dani from Body By Nature
- Lily from A Salted Life
- Kristin from Cook Bake Nibble
- Nancy from Spiffy Kerms
I was pretty excited to finally meet Nancy. We’ve been following each other’s blogs since I started my triathlon training blog two years ago. She’s an East Coaster like me (Newfoundland!) and I knew we were long-lost friends. Except she’s got better style and make-up know-how than me. And a cuter East Coast accent ;)
Somehow I missed capturing close-ups of Morgan from Life After Bagels and Meghan from Making Love in the Kitchen. But they were there too! Thank you again to Morgan for organizing the meet-up between school assignments. And for being all around awesome.
I feel so lucky that I’m in a centre with so many amazing bloggers around to socialize with. You know, people I can talk WordPress with (Kristin!) and gush about cupcakes with. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of my favourite bloggers over this past year, and I naively think I’ll get to meet everyone I’ve connected with through my blog someday. Yes, even you Australians. For the longest time I thought I was painfully awkward when meeting new people. Turns out I was just meeting the wrong people. Because I stayed chatting with these lovely women for three hours in the restaurant :)
Question of the Day: What blogger are you dying to have lunch with? I’m still waiting for the day I can go to Scotland and eat haggis with Ellie!