Category Archives: Toronto

Work Life Balance

During a recent conversation with a client on work life balance, this client asked: ‘Vivian, you seem to work all the time and are still full of enthusiasm and energy, how you find the balance?’

I almost surprised myself when I answered my work life balance is completely tilted to fulfilling what I know is my life purpose of helping others to be their best through health and fitness. I have the energy to balance work, going to school for traditional Chinese medicine, family and friends, and staying fit myself, only by living my purpose which aligns with my spirit.

I made it a goal a couple years ago to teach more yoga to share the practice of meditation with more people-teaching is immensely fulfilling. I have benefitted so much from practicing yoga, it has opened so many doors of growth for me that I must pay it forward in helping bring others to the meditative space…so they may be closer to their truth, intuition and life purpose.

Work life balance is a challenging aspect of life that many people come across. I’m sharing my perspective of living life with purpose through work that I am hugely passionate about. It’s a life devoted to being of service. This may not be for everyone, however, every person has their unique gifts to contribute to our world for the better. I am sure the world can improve behind our imagination if every person is able to tap into their unique purpose. Those of us that know better need to do better, raise our vibration and those around us-making life good!

Veggies for Lunch: Kupfert and Kim Meatless and Wheatless

The meatless and wheatless tag line caught my attention when I walked through the First Canadian Place underground in December. I bought lunch at Kupfert and Kim this week. I ordered the First Canadian which was quinoa with shredded beets, kale, carrots, cabbage, radish, microgreens, tempeh, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds and maple dressing. I used a serving of hot sauce as well for flavour.

 

First Canadian Kupfert and Kim Meatless and Wheatless

First Canadian at Kupfert and Kim Meatless and Wheatless

The First Canadian with its blend of veggies and quinoa makes for a healthy, satisfying vegetarian lunch. It is a great way to enjoy a variety of veggies for a work day lunch. The dose of veggies is likely to help keep your energy levels up after lunch. The selection of sweets at Kupfert and Kim are good nutritional energy boosters-possible afternoon snacks. The breakfast selections look appealing, as they are breakfasts I would be likely to make and serve to guests myself.

 

 

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 www.madeleines.ca   Madeleine’s sour cherry pie came highly recommended by a new friend when we discussed Wanda’s Pie in the Sky

http://www.wandaspieinthesky.com/

 

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.

Healthy Yorkville Lunch: Mela Cafe

I am 8 years late in my discovery of Mela Cafe, Italian Vegetarian Magic at 7 Yorkville Avenue 416 916 0619. Perhaps its location where Wanda’s Pie in the Sky once was kept me from coming too close, as I missed Wanda’s very much. I came across Mela Cafe last week after buying DLish cupcakes and looked around the corner for some lunch. Yes, I got dessert before choosing a spot for lunch.

The chalkboard menu and glass display cases at Mela Cafe were very enticing. I tasted a certain magic in the food with the mixed veggie salad and sweet potato mash with rapini topped with homemade tomato sauce I had. I enjoyed my lunch so much that I went back the next day for beet risotto with greens, which was delicious. As was their signature eggplant sandwich, which I enjoyed another time.

Mela Cafe is a great little spot to have some lunch or get takeout for dinner. Their food is prepared with great care to a point where the chefs Roberto and Kim grow their own vegetables. They are real innovators here. The quality shows through in the delightful taste of the food. I highly recommend Mela Cafe for a healthy, delicious meal that inspires us to eat more veggies by showing us how tasty veggies can be. What an amazing accomplishment for Mela Cafe!

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!

www.dlishcupcakes.com

 

Vivian’s Picks at Foxley, Toronto

We had a special occasion to celebrate last night and our group of four friends had dinner at Foxley 207 Ossington Avenue, Toronto. Somehow I got carte blanche to do the majority of the ordering…I’m pleased to report all  four of us had a most inspired dining experience with all the amazing and unique flavours Tom Thai creates.

Here is what we ordered and shared. I highly recommend trying this list sometime. This is a top Asian fusion dining experience I have had and it won over three friends. Enjoy!

Blue Crab Avocado Salad

Seaweed salad with mango and herbs

Kale salad with pecorino cheese

Lamb and duck proscuitto dumplings

Oven steamed black cod with asian greens and truffle oil

Scallop ceviche with kumquat

Tempura oyster handroll

Lemongrass marinated grilled cornish hen

 

Momofuku Noodle Bar Toronto

I just had dinner with a friend at the Momofuku Noodle Bar in Toronto. I did not have patience to wait in line for the noodle bar in New York, but I did have dinner at Momofuku Tsam and a little dessert at the Milk Bar while I was there last year. My friend was recently at the Momofuku in New York and we were both interested to see what it was like in Toronto.

It’s a loud, bustling atmosphere with a modern dining room in Toronto. Momofuku noodle bar is very well executed fast food. We really saw that in action while sitting at the bar in front of where the food was being assembled. The shrimp fried rice looked pretty enticing as it was being put together. We did not get to try it, as our server forgot to tell us about the specials, because I distracted him with my questions about the short menu. Service was quite attentive and informed throughout the restaurant, which I really appreciated. Apparently they serve only Tito’s vodka here and in New York and the bartender handled my grumbling with grace. It was a pleasant experience to wait in the upstairs bar area and overlook the busy restaurant below.

The brilliance of the noodle bar is in its small menu. David Chang has created a great formula for flavourful asian food and trained the staff well to execute on a focused list of food. The famous pork buns are assembled in volume and are the same as they are in New York. These buns are a great fast food take on Peking duck with its combination of tasty animal fat, sweet sauce, scallion and cucumber in a bun.  The ramen comes in a broth that has flavour depth and an egg that is specially slow poached in the combi oven. Special egg poaching technique seems to be a current food trend. We tried a sous vide ‘poached’ duck egg at Peller Estates this summer where the egg texture was the same throughout the white and yolk.

The Momofuku brand has a lot of potential to expand further with its fun atmosphere and tasty food that can be replicated. The food here is more exciting than the UK chain Wagamama. However, my favourite asian influenced restaurants remain Mission Chinese in San Francisco for its amazingly spiced food and Foxley in Toronto for its bold and unique flavours.

 

Food Inspiration: Kensington Market Tour

Kensington Market is one of my favourite spots to shop for food in Toronto. There is no other area where I can find so many unique foods that I love. I make a trip there whenever I can spare a couple hours to wander around, check out the ever changing new eateries and gather up my growing list of favourite items. Here’s my tour:

Caribbean Corner (171 Baldwin Avenue) -I stop in here for fresh callaloo they get flown in from Jamaica, caribbean hot sauce, and/or jerk sauce, among all things caribbean.

Essence of Life (50 Kensington Avenue)-is the stop for any health food or supplement you can think of with great selection and prices.

Salamanca(204 Baldwin Avenue)-I have been buying nuts and other dry goods here for over 10 years.

La Tortilleria (198 Augusta Avenue)-makes fresh tortillas daily, with organic blue available on the weekends only.

Jumbo Empanadas (245 Augusta Avenue)-I have been stopping here for a bite of lunch for over 10 years. Their homemade salsa is unbelievable. The chicken empanada with the salsa and Chilean salad are absolutely delicious.

Perola’s (247 Augusta Avenue)-This is a shop I just started frequenting this summer, as I developed serious taco obsession when I missed out on eating at Rick Bayless’ Torta in the Chicago airport. Tacos seem to be the trend of the moment as well. This shop has all the authentic fixings you could want.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky (287 Augusta Avenue)-Sometimes I stop here first. Amazing dessert is required. This shop is even more fun here than it was when it was located in Yorkville. I love the dulche de leche coconut macaroons (gluten free) and the small fruit pies (which I cut into 4 pieces and share, maybe).

Seven Lives (69 Kensington Avenue)-My top pick for tacos in Toronto. There can be a bit of a wait, but service is quick and the tacos are incredibly flavourful and inventive.

 

ShockWave by IndoRow: Update

You saw it here first! I wrote about this class last week and here is a link complete with a video, so you can check it out:

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news%2Fhealth&id=8797536

Ps. Watch out for and join us for our small group training sessions including the water rowers in Toronto.

Eat Your Greens

Most of us would like to lose fat from our bodies in select areas (see hormone fat loss post). I generally find it far too difficult to deprive myself of any food or drink, so I look for other solutions, such as making small changes. The most positive and easy to accomplish is adding more variety of foods or drinks that I consume. One of our favourite fat loss tips that we suggest to our clients is to try eating at least one cup of cooked greens everyday. Cooked green vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, collard greens, kale, cabbage, spinach, rapini, swiss chard, asparagus, dandelion greens, watercress, callaloo, the list goes on.
Most of us including myself need to work at eating a variety of foods to obtain an adequate variety of nutrients. This point is very important especially with plant foods as they all have slightly different phytochemicals and antioxidants that are highly beneficial to our health. I have looked to professional chefs for inspiration with different ways to prepare and enjoy veggies, as they are the experts at making food taste and look good. I have shared a few sources of veggie inspiration in previous posts and I will continue to look for inspiration and encourage veggie consumption.
I was out for dinner twice this weekend and came across restaurants that had great tasting greens on their menu. I would not have eaten that amount of greens if I had not ordered these items. I was at Foxley (a perennial favourite Toronto restaurant) with a friend and we ordered both the green mango seaweed salad and the kale salad. Both were absolutely delicious and a substantial amount of greens. My friend and I both commented that we would not know how to prepare seaweed or kale in such a delicious way, but we were happy to eat it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also surprised to find great greens at Lil Baci last night. Their tuscan kale salad is exceptionally seasoned and their fresh fava and greens were well prepared and tasty. Again, items I would not have made myself, but I certainly enjoyed eating once on a plate before me. Look on the menu the next time you are out for a meal and see if there is a veggie you are willing to try. You may be surprised that it tastes good and you’re willing to try it again.