Category Archives: product review

Favourite Non Dairy Beverages: Coconut Dream and Pacific Hazelnut

I regularly use a non dairy beverages to help create vegan meals. I have tried many different types of non dairy beverages and one test I have is to see if a carton actually gets finished. My favourite remains Coconut Dream Original for the taste. Interestingly, this product is fortified with calcium, vitamin A, D and B12 in the version sold in the US, but not in Canada. The easily metabolized medium chain fatty acids from coconut are a nutritional benefit in addition to the taste.

Another non dairy beverage I discovered recently and really enjoyed the taste of is Pacific Hazelnut Original non dairy beverage. I found this product in a grocery store on Kauai. The colour is not the most appealing. However, the taste excellent, perhaps from its slightly higher sugar content.

If you regularly use non dairy beverages, give Coconut Dream or Pacific Hazelnut a try to add variety to your diet.

Recipe: Cucumber and Sea Asparagus Salad

This is a recipe I put together over the holidays in Hawaii. Sea asparagus or samphire is a veggie (or succulent herb) that grows between salt water and fresh water. It has a natural saltiness and crunch that lends itself well to a simple salad like this one. Sea asparagus is an excellent natural source of iodine. Sea asparagus in available seasonally, when harvested wild in Canada and Europe. Fresh sea asparagus is cultivated year round on the north shore of Oahu and is available at farmers markets throughout the island and at Foodland.

Fresh sea asparagus grown on the north shore of oahu

Fresh sea asparagus grown on the north shore of oahu-the best sea asparagus for taste and texture

1 japanese cucumber, chopped

1 cup fresh sea asparagus, rinsed and roughly chopped

1/4 maui onion, finely chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

fresh lime juice to taste

1 tablespoon Pele’s Fire chili infused macadamia oil (or any other oil you like, spice is adds great flavour to the salad)

chopped fresh cilantro to taste, or chopped shiso for those that don’t like cilantro (thank you Sharon S.)

In a bowl, toss together cucumber, sea asparagus, onion, tomato, and chili oil. Season with lime juice to taste. Top with chopped cilantro or shiso. Enjoy any time with breakfast, lunch or dinner.




Making Life Good-Chocolate Finds

Chocolate can be a healthy food with its antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, minerals (potassium, magnesium, zinc) and feel good effects that most people experience. Dark chocolate is a better choice with its higher content of cocoa and lower sugar content. It takes some taste testing to find one that you like, so enjoy the process.

Years ago, I was introduced to Purdys chocolate in Calgary. They have the best freshly dipped icecream bars. They are dipped in chocolate and rolled in fresh nuts right before your eyes-yum! And they are a reasonable portion size. Purdys makes the best ‘turtle’ (chocolate, caramel and pecan) confection, called Sweet Georgia Browns. Just popping in yesterday, I found their new single origin dark chocolate Peru, made with TCHO chocolate (which I came across during a run in San Francisco). In addition, their Goji Berry dark chocolate bar with cocoa nibs is delicious and slightly addictive. Purdys is a proud Canadian business with high quality product and service


delicious and healthy choices from Purdys

TCHO chocolate is a nicely packaged, delicious product with innovative business practices for the world of chocolate making from bean to finished product. I discovered their product on a run by their Pier 17 location. I like the Pure Notes ‘chocolatey’ bar and it was a great stocking stuffer with its mini CD like packaging-chocolate music:

My pick of TCHO

Food Inspiration Moments of 2012

Here are some of my favourite moments of food inspiration in 2012 in no particular order:

Callaloo: A great tasting, super nutritious green veggie that I enjoyed and  learned about on the South Coast of Jamaica this year. There was nothing better than being shown where and what the plant looks like growing wild.

Sea Asparagus Pesto: Another highly nutritious, delicious and naturally salty veggie made into a unique delicious pesto product that I discovered in Hawaii.

Blue Hawaii Acai Bowl: This antioxidant packed sorbet like treat topped with granola and fruit was delicious in addition to the energetic boost it provided. I nicknamed the acai bowl ‘superjuice’, as I felt superjuiced after I ate it.

Galerie au Chocolat, Fire: The heat really builds up from the chili in this chocolate. I amused myself just a little by having various friends sample the chocolate and watching their reaction to the heat.

Minisyrup: This unsweetened flavouring was a surprise discovery that led to further inspiration in the idea of adding flavour to club soda and water to create your own beverage. Adding flavour to water is common practice in the UK. I was reminded of Ribena (available at Sobeys), a sweet, blackcurrant concentrate syrup in production since 1938 that I enjoyed as a child. What’s old is new and water flavouring will reach new heights here.

Beer and Cheese: Who knew? However, someone seated beside me at the Gabardine had a plate of beer battered cheese and I had to order it as well. Very tasty.

I was convinced to sample Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale along with some cheese at the LCBO and found the crisp, slightly fruity beer to be a great complement to the cheese. Very tasty and very smooth combination.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: A most inspirational and beautiful film about one man’s passion in his work, his creation of sushi.

Societe Orignal Churned Seashore Honey: This honey is the best ever with its fluffy texture that tastes of caramel, marshmallows and a hint of flowers all at once.

Salted Caramel Icecream: I had amazing salted caramel icecream at BiRite Creamery in San Francisco. XocoCava (1560 Yonge Street) has an outstanding salted caramel hazelnut icecream. One young hipster told me she is so over salted caramel…and I still love it.


Ps. The best salted caramel macaron is at Petite Thuet

Vinamit Chips: These are the most amazing fruit and vegetable chips that are made through dehydration and are sold at T&T. My brother introduced them to me and I am hooked. Mixing together one bag of the mixed fruit and jackfruit chips are the perfect combination.

All things Austrian: Are up and coming as spotted by the eagle eyes of the man behind Making Life Good…thank you JK.

Happy Christmas!


Workout Gear with Style: Adidas by Stella McCartney

As the year comes to an end, a review of the year seems natural. As someone that is in workout gear 6 days of the week, I would like to share my pick of 2012 for style, quality and function,  Adidas by Stella McCartney. They made some inspired designs this year. I have 2 pairs of the 3/4 tights in orange (found in Hong Kong) and bright yellow, which I purchased at the adidas store in Toronto. My Adidas by Stella McCartney yellow pants, have brought myself and those around me a burst of sunshine this past year in addition to being well designed and highly functional-an outstanding achievement for workout gear.

Find Adidas by Stella McCartney apparel at:


Chocolate Inspiration: Galerie au Chocolat Fire/Feu

Galerie au Chocolat Fire is a taste sensation that was mentioned to me in April and introduced to me at Whole Foods in October. I have consumed a couple bars myself and have introduced many friends to the product as well.

Fire like the name suggests is a dark chocolate that is spicy. It is a rich, fine dark chocolate that has a little kick of heat that builds up slowly. Galerie au Chocolat Fire is my favourite chocolate with chili I have tried so far.

The intense flavour itself provides portion control is what some friends have observed. They feel one square of this chocolate is enough. This is so true-enjoying food with highly satisfying flavour and texture is a built in form of portion control.

If you don’t like chocolate with chili, the other types of Galerie au Chocolat are also great



Favourite Pie in Toronto









Pie, lunch and cocoa. My happy priorities in selecting a meal expressed on a chalkboard outside of Madeleine’s Cherry Pie and Icecream at 1087 Bathurst Street   Madeleine’s sour cherry pie came highly recommended by a new friend when we discussed Wanda’s Pie in the Sky


I procured sour cherry pie from both Madeleine’s and Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and ran a little taste test…

My favourite pie is still Wanda’s (their apricot pie is my absolute favourite). I prefer the Wanda’s Pie in the Sky crust and the reason seems to be the taste of butter. Wanda’s pie crust is made with 2/3 butter and 1/3 non hydrogenated trans fat free shortening. Madeleine’s pie crust is 100% non hydrogenated trans fat free shortening (more vegetarian friendly). The Madeleine’s sour cherry filling does have a slight edge over the Wanda’s sour cherry filling. So, both sour cherry pies are outstanding, as they are both made by amazing pie makers.

Pie is not an everyday food. It is a special treat to be shared and enjoyed with love.

The Holy Trinity of Junk Food: Chips, Pop and Chocolate Bars…

I refer to chips, pop and chocolate bars as the holy trinity of junk food. I made up this term to help people become more aware that these three ‘foods’ feed upon each other and can cause overeating. Chips can be addictive on their own with their salty crunch in small pieces you eat by the handful. Take a sip of sweet tasting pop with a touch of acidity in between and your taste buds reset for more salt, which is satisfied by more chips. Then, you want a little sweetness, so you reach for a chocolate bar. A person could easily cycle through the chips, pop and chocolate bar several times and barely register feeling full, as you are moving from one taste sensation to another. These are foods we like to eat for the taste and texture sensation they provide. The salty crunch of the chips, the effervescence of the pop and the creamy, sweetness of the chocolate bar.

Perhaps you do or do not eat the holy trinity of junk food together. I will confess here that I love potato chips, a bubbly drink and chocolate, but I don’t tend to eat all three of  them in the holy trinity format at once. I prefer to enjoy each of these foods separately. Sometimes, I have flavoured club soda with chips. My recommendation is to have high quality, real food that satisfies all the taste and texture sensations mentioned above.

Here is my recommendation list for the holy trinity of junk food, real food options:

For Chips: Try ‘fresh’ chips  (which have a short shelf life) such as the handcut potato chips at Leah’s 621 St Clair Avenue West or the brown bag potato chips at the Whole Foods sandwich counter. Any freshly made chip you can get your hands on is a good choice.

For Pop: Try sparkling water with added flavour. A squeeze of lemon, lime or orange works well in bubbly water. For an extra burst of flavour try Minisyrup, an unsweetened, natural flavouring product on its own or in addition to the squeeze of lemon, lime or orange for a healthy calorie free soda or pop. Natural minisyrup flavours are: grape, lemon, mango, pear, orange, raspberry, strawberry kiwi. Many testers have really enjoyed a mango lime soda just for the taste. ‘It’s like pop!’ has been the response and they have been pleasantly surprised that it was calorie free with no (artificial) sweetener.

Mixing a little real fruit juice with bubbly water also makes a great pop alternative. The San Pellegrino sodas are also a good choice, as they contain fruit juice and sugar. I discovered Bottlegreen soda while in the UK

They are a delicious lower sugar soda. Their cordials mixed with bubbly water would also be a great pop alternative.

For chocolate: Try dark chocolate, which has less sugar. Stick with milk chocolate if that is what you prefer. I love Gallerie au Chocolat, which is available at Whole Foods. Green and Blacks, Cocoa Camino are also great organic chocolate bars with interesting flavours. Lindt has a good variety of dark chocolate and is widely available.

You may find that you will be naturally inclined to eat less chips and chocolate if you have a less processed real food version. The lower sugar pop alternatives are also helpful in guiding your appetite. Please thoroughly enjoy your holy trinity of junk food in moderation, free of guilt.


DLish Cupcakes

I discovered DLish cupcakes shortly after the shop opened on Queen Street West. I became particularly enamoured with their red velvet cupcake. I quite enjoyed the rotating flavours with the days of the week (it keeps you going back!) and I did eventually try most of the flavours.

I was in New York and San Francisco in the fall of 2011 and tried some other red velvet cupcakes. I must say the DLish red velvet cupcake with its perfect size, moistness and proportion of great icing to delicious cake, stands out as my favourite even in comparison to the red velvet cupcake at Magnolia in New York.

It was with great delight that I bought and enjoyed some cupcakes with friends last week from the second location of DLish at Yonge and Yorkville. Red velvet, salted caramel and apple caramel were my picks. Apple caramel being a great new flavour! It was great to see the same store concept and quality of cupcakes replicated with such consistency.

Of course, this is a question I am asked often: ‘You’re a fitness trainer and/or nutritionist-You eat cupcakes!? ‘

My answer is a resounding yes. I love food and I love to enjoy good food. I was encouraging people to try DLish cupcakes this weekend (yes, I bought people cupcakes). They are delicious and made with great care. A huge component of good nutrition, health and well being is enjoying life, which includes truly enjoying what you want to eat. Enjoying a cupcake is most certainly a part of Making Life Good!


Healthy Drink Recipe: Mango Lime Soda with Minisyrup

This is a delicious, natural, calorie free beverage recipe that has a great story behind its origin. I was introduced to Minisyrup through a chance encounter at the Chicago airport earlier this year. Minisyrup is best described as a burst of flavour or a flavour enhancer, similar in concept to vanilla extract. Minisyrup flavours beverages with natural, concentrated flavour without any sugar or sweetener.

The recipe inspiration starts with the discovery of the summer drink of choice-grey goose orange and soda with lime…

With fresh lime juice as the key ingredient, I recalled how I learned about the incredible flavour this drink ingredient adds many years ago in my classic Mr Boston guide to cocktails.  This concept was brought back to me in the creation of the grey goose orange and soda with lime. Lime was the secret ingredient again, when a guest and I added Mango minisyrup to a vodka soda with lime, and created another great new drink . Vodka soda with lime and mango minisyrup was an outstanding cocktail, on par with the grey goose orange and soda with lime.  However, as much I as enjoy a cocktail, I saw great inspiration in the mango minisyrup as it packs so much flavour, and I saw many healthy applications for the product…

Club soda or sparkling water is a non alcoholic beverage that I tend to prefer over plain water at home or in restaurants. It seems like more fun than water with the bubbles.  A good friend and I had some club soda with lime and mango minisyrup with our final outdoor lunch of the season last week and found it to be a superb non alcoholic beverage. We felt this was a great discovery, as she is always looking for an enticing drink to serve her teen children when she is pouring wine or cocktails for the adults. We tested the mango lime soda on her teens and they loved it!

Here is the recipe, complete with photo inspiration from my young friend Francesca.

Fill a tall glass with club soda and ice. Add a squeeze of fresh lime and 2 pumps of Mango minisyrup. Enjoy!

Find and order Mango minisyrup at