FEAST Restaurant Review + A Love Letter to My Favourite Gypsy

Restaurant Review, Toronto

In the hustle and bustle of prepping for my trip to Bald Head Island, I had the bittersweet experience of saying a temporary goodbye to Saar, who has just departed on another stretch of world travelling. She has had a pretty huge impact on my life in the two years that I’ve known her, and even though she just left, I already can’t wait for our next reunion. Who knows where it will be… Bali, Thailand… I’m sure it will be one of her favourite places somewhere in this beautiful world, and she can give me the grand tour!

Ever since Saar included it in her ‘5 Musts for August‘ post I’ve been dying to try out FEAST (Fabulous Eats for the Allergic and Sensitive Types). This being our last get-together for the next little while, it seemed only appropriate that we pop in. We took a lovely stroll down Crawford, through Trinity Bellwoods Park, to West Queen West, where you’ll find Feast.

FEAST: Fabulous Eats for the Allergic and Sensitive Types

"'Best pastry I have ever had gluten-free or otherwise. Thank you for existing.' Savoury pocket pies, vegan donuts, come in and taste what everyone is talking about."

When you first walk in, you’ll notice that Feast is more like a specialty grocery store than a sit down eatery. Along one wall are shelves stocked with chocolates, oils, and other tasty-looking goodies, all blessedly free of common allergens. There are a few bar stools and a counter looking out the front window. The space is light and airy. We were quickly offered samples of the store’s housemade coconut butter – which tastes pretty close to real butter, actually – and nut butters (chocolate sunflower butter! What, what?). 

Store menus: "What's brewing" "What's in the pantry" "What's in store"

In the glass case by the front counter were an assortment of pocket pies: Jerk Chicken, The Beefeater, and Vegan Curried Black Bean. I went with the black bean pocket pie this time. The pastry was perfect (tender, chewy, and totally convincing for those who are still a bit leery of gluten-free flours) but the filling left a little bit to be desired… a bit more spice or a dipping sauce would have been a lovely addition here. 

Vegan Curried Black Bean pocket pies in display case

In a cooler next to the counter are some interesting beverages, including Toronto-based Vams’ kefir water and kombucha. 

Vams Kombuch & Kefir Water (lime + turmeric, beach, ginger, spirulina + lime)

We sat down in the bar stools by the window, and smiled at everyone who walked by. It was great.

A tender and flaky vegetarian pocket pie ready to be devoured.

For dessert, I picked up a pair of coconut caramels, which were sooooo yummy. Up in front is their Tropical Caramel (coconut and pineapple, sprinkled with sea salt), and in the back is one of Feast’s Chocolate Krispies (cacao nibs and puffed rice cereal). 

Dairy-free vegan coconut caramels

After lunch, we explored some of the surrounding stores. Next door to Feast is “Type”, a beautifully curated bookshop. It was perfect for vegging out in with a satisfied tummy. Saar and I grabbed seats in the children’s section at the back and read picture books to one another. 

Type Bookshop (view of fiction section and displays from the back of the store)

Before long, we headed back out into the sunshine to check out some more of the neighbourhood (a very pretty and trendy neighbourhood at the moment) and to grab some green juice.

"She's an explorer, a daydreamer, and never turns down an excuse to wear flowers in her hair. She believes in magic, likes the challenge in finding the perfect dress, and always mixes in her favourite vintage tee with a dash of delicate sequins. There's no problem a swipe of lipstick can't fix, and she's always up for a midnight adventure."Floating books display

While at Feast, I had also grabbed one of their Triple Chocolate Love donuts. We plopped down under an oak tree in Trinity Bell Woods park so I could dig in. Also very yummy, but really more cake-like, if I remember correctly, than any donut I’ve ever had.

Me and My DoughnutLove you, buddy. <3 (Saar. Not the donut. Okay, also the donut.) 

Toronto Coconut Festival

Personal, Photo Diary, Toronto

In a few days I’ll be leaving for a much needed vacation in North Carolina. Until then, I’m going to be pretty busy with work, prepping, and packing, so I thought I would leave you with a quick photo re-cap of last weekend.

Saar and I went on yet another health excursion to the Toronto Coconut Festival, which was really fun and, obviously, very tasty. The night before, she made me the wicked dinner you see pictured below (roasted veggies with turmeric mustard dipping sauce, + a yumtastic salad).

The next day, we were revved up and ready to go. So off we went. 

Roasted veggies and a side salad

Seeds for "planting" your own veggie sausage or veggie burger

Mason jar soup kits (everything you need to make your own homemade soup!)

A pretty and colourful chalk sign for Gelato Goodness non-dairy gelato

A pretty vegetable and flower garden at Wychwood Barns

Saar, pointing her camera. She's taking a picture of me taking a picture of her.

Energy balls made at Marni Wasserman's coconut demo

Bags of vegan coconut bacon. So delicious and convincing!

Samples of vegan coconut bacon

Tasty looking cupcakes. Looks like vanilla frosting!

Tasty treats at Spirit Bird Bakery. Definitely, the highlight of my day was sampling one of their raw vegan nanaimo bars!

Thumbprint cookies filled with chia jam!

Another pretty chalkboard sign for non-dairy ice cream. It's obvious why these signs are so popular. They're adorable!

Assortment of very pretty garden stuff (bird cages, terrariums, airplants...) by Perfectly Planted

Some of Perfectly Planted's pretty plants

Jars of cocoa beans, and a box of apple chips, by Zenergie

My lunch! A curry platter featuring a split pea curry, a sweet potato curry, and a red cabbage slaw. Yum....

Saar took a picture of me in photographer mode, taking a picture at the Zenergie display.

A reflection of the Chicago skyline in the kidney bean

Chicago Photo Diary

Personal, Photo Diary, Restaurant Review, Travel

A few weeks ago, I attended a yoga intensive (run by Eat Breathe Thrive, definitely worth checking out!) in Chicago with my beloved buddy, Saar. We had a wicked time, so I put together this photo diary to share some of the adventures we got up to!

Since we were to spend our trip trapped inside for the better part of the weekend, we made sure to dedicate Friday to wandering the city. We took the Metra into downtown Chicago on Friday morning, and immediately set off in search of food (two foodies/nutritionists, what do you expect?).

The Metra pulling into Lake Forest Station

Star-shaped detailing over a freeway in downtown Chicago

the Union Station sign in downtown Chicago

Before we left, I had done a search of healthy food options in the city, and it wasn’t long before we happened across one of them – ‘Protein Bar’, where I picked up a ‘Millenium Perk’ (chocolate protein, espresso protein, choice of milk, and house-made cocoa malt) to tide me over while we explored.

IMG_7064

Millennium Perk (Chocolate protein, espresso protein, choice of milk, and house-made cocoa malt)

The elevated Chicago transit system, criss-crossing through the downtown streetsI fell a bit in love with Chicago’s public transit system, particularly its somewhat industrial appearance. The L tracks crisscross all over the city, looking super cool. We traipsed through Millenium Park where we briefly listened to some majestic orchestral music (I think there may have been an orchestra practicing for an upcoming performance), tripped in and around the giant mirrored kidney bean (AKA. The Bean, or Cloud Gate), and slowly grew ravenous.

An adorable little vintage-looking van. It sold doughnuts!

An alley filled with fire escapes. Everywhere!

This giant red sculpture...Looks kind of like an abstract dinosaur

Highlights some of Chicago's beautiful skyline

The huge mirrored kidney bean in Millenium Park

I'm bent over backwards for an upsidedown reflection in the kidney bean!

The super cool and slightly hallucinogenic reflections underneath Cloud Gate

A reflection of the Chicago skyline in the kidney bean

The Chicago skyline reflected in the mirrored kidney bean; looks like it is in a raindrop!

Huge and beautiful magenta flowers

Saar was practically falling over when we decided to find some lunch. Pretty much everyone we encountered over the course of the day were so friendly and we were soon directed to another one of the restaurants I had looked up that morning, a vegan joint called Native Foods. We both loved it there. I had a spicy tortilla soup, a huge glass of lavender lemonade (I have to try to recreate this…it was SO good), and a giant refreshing ‘Ensalada Azteca Salad’ which was jam-packed with cilantro (my kryptonite). After lunch, we did a bit more wandering through the city before hopping back on the Metra to attend the first night of the intensive.

The entrance to Native Foods

A bowl of tortilla soup garnished with strips of tortilla bread and cilantro

Fresh avocado, jicama and cucumber salsa atop quinoa, romaine and our award winning mango-lime vinaigrette. Topped with currants, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro

Our way home at the end of the weekend was another adventure all on it’s own; a misadventure, shall we call it? As we were heading through Michigan, the area was hit with a major rainstorm and consequently crazy flooding. They began closing off all the major freeways in the area, and this eventually led to us spending 24 hours in a car.

Water starts pouring over concrete barrier on the side of the highway

Flooding beneath an overpass

We exited the freeway in Detroit and spent about 4 hours in a grocery store parking lot wolfing down our few remaining road trip snacks (popcorn, an avocado stuffed with the last of our salsa), and watching the hilarious documentary ‘Kumaré’. At some point in the middle of the night, after unsuccessfully trying to get some sleep, we figured out a route to get us to freeways that had cleared up and got back on the road. Although Saar doesn’t drive, she was fully committed to staying up with me and keeping me awake and alive. What a trooper. I got home very early that morning and was too wired to stay asleep for very long, and for some reason felt compelled to go to a yoga class. This was a goofy decision; I spent most of the class deliriously giggling at everything my instructor said.

Anyway, I think that’s all for now. I’m sending tons of love to those communities affected by the flooding. I hope that they are well on their way to rebuilding their homes and their lives.

More soon, xx.

My Raw Food Birthday

Food Philosophy, Personal, Restaurant Review

Over this weekend, I celebrated my twenty-third birthday. Repeatedly. And it was splendid. There were many inspiring conversations, tasty eats, and whopping love hugs. I got to spend the day with two of my best buds: Saar – one of my favourite Europeans and fellow nutritionists – and Erik, the beloved boyfriend. We spent some time in the sunshine and had lunch at Raw Aura in Port Credit. Raw Aura’s menu is gluten-free, vegan, and completely raw with nothing being heated above 43C, although there are a few menu items that are served hot. I’ve always admired raw vegans for their inventiveness in the kitchen, especially in the dessert department!

Raw Aura's menus for smoothies, wines and spirits, desserts, and main courses.

What Makes Raw Food So Great?

The majority of people can definitely use more raw veggies and fruit in their diet. Here’s why:

  • Greater nutrient density: Many vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and folate are heat-sensitive and are damaged by cooking. Including more raw food in your diet means eating food with a greater nutrient density.
  • Enzymes: Raw fruits and vegetables are rich in enzymes that aid in digestion by helping to break down nutrients. Like the vitamins mentioned above, enzymes are also easily damaged by heat and as a result, are easily destroyed in the cooking process.
  • You can fill up without feeling bloated: Feel free to fill up on as much non-starchy raw vegetables as you want. You’ll be doing your body a solid! The majority of my salads take place in a mixing bowl bigger than my head, and I never feel bloated, icky, or guilty afterwards.
  • Increased regularity: Another reason why you’ll be feeling less bloated? By filling up on fruit and veg, you’ll be getting an awful lot of fibre in your diet. This is a good thing! We should be aiming for at least 30 grams per day of insoluble fibre which will help keep your digestive system chugging along nicely. Which means a lot less poop hanging out in your intestines and contributing to that distended tummy look. Is it okay for me to say ‘poop’ here? Duh, I’m a nutritionist. I can comfortably talk about poop whenever the heck I want. 
  • Less packaging: Replacing the packaged foods in your diet with more produce will dramatically decrease your contribution to the world’s landfills, which we can all do a little more of!

I’ve been to this restaurant a handful of times in the past, but I always end up getting the same thing: the Cinnamon Toast Crunch smoothie (which actually tastes just like the cereal of it’s namesake), and the Burstin’ Burrito.

My meal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Smoothie (almond butter, dates, banana, cinnamon, and maca), and the Burstin' Burrito (raw soft sun-dried tomato and carrot tortilla stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, guacamole, and refried pumpkin seed beans, garnished with cashew sour cream and side salsa)

The smoothie was a blend of almond butter, dates, banana, cinnamon, and maca. While I normally love this smoothie, it is very decadent and was probably not an optimal choice after a few days of indulgence! I think that I usually get it without the dates, and I forgot to make that request on this particular occasion…

Another shot of my smoothie with my friend, Saar, sipping on green juice (kale, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, parsley, lemon and ginger) in the background

Saar also ordered the burrito which was it’s usual scrumptious self. Check out the drool-worthy description they had on their menu: “A soft sun-dried tomato and carrot tortilla stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, guacamole, and refried pumpkin seed beans, garnished with cashew sour cream and side salsa.”

Another shot of my raw vegan burrito, slathered in cashew cream and garnished with a side salad

Erik had the felafel wrap which contained some sprouted chickpea felafels in a collard green wrap with tzatziki and other vegetable goodies.

Erik's sprouted chickpea felafel wrap in collard greens

I finished lunch off with a bright and energizing green juice (kale, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, parsley, lemon and ginger – could have used some cilantro!) before Saar handed me an incredibly sweet birthday letter that she had written me. My eyes were burning and I was trying not to cry at the table. We headed outside where she handed me a large and mysterious cardboard box.

The giant mystery cardboard box containing my birthday present from Saar

My birthday present from Saar: vanilla whey protein powder from Genuine Health, and homemade gluten-free vegan pepernoten (a Dutch Christmas treat!)

Little bundles of Dutch pepernoten (wrapped in brightly coloured foil)

Inside was a container of Genuine Health Proteins+ vanilla whey protein powder which I can’t wait to try! I always buy chocolate protein powders, so it will be fun to get some variety into my green smoothies. She had also baked me three different kinds of vegan pepernoten, this spicy Dutch cookie which they normally have at Christmas. Don’t worry Saar, I promise I’ve been sharing a little bit!

A close-up of spicy Dutch pepernoten. Great with tea!

Saar and I in a giant whopping love hug

When I got home from lunch, I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and hanging out with my family. My mom and younger sister, Abbey, made a beautiful dinner of curried salmon steaks, a giant salad, and roasted asparagus.

My birthday feast (roasted asparagus, salad with tons of cucumber, curried salmon steaks)

After dinner my youngest sister, Allaina, presented me with this naughty chocolate caramel apple! I cut it up into slices and shared it with everyone for dessert. I will never tire of the fresh fruit and chocolate combination. If you’re going to indulge, make sure you do it in style!

Birthday dessert from my baby sister, Allaina: an enormous chocolate caramel apple with rainbow sprinkles. Don't worry, I  shared.

Anyway, that’s all for now. If you’re Canadian, like me, I hope you had a lovely long weekend. Happy Canada Day! Anne xxoo

Killer Crispy Kale Chips

Recipe

Bowl of crispy kale chips in a decorative glass bowl, sitting in the sunshine

Homemade Kale Chips are one of life’s great joys. They’re a healthy and delicious alternative to potato chips, and you’d be surprised by how easily an entire head of kale can disappear when consumed in the crispy, crunchy, bite-sized form that is the kale chip. There are endless combinations to how you can dress them, and seasoning can be whatever you feel like putting on them. Here are a few of the many reasons why kale is killer:

  • 1 cup of kale only has 36 calories, and 5 grams of fibre
  • Kale is an amazing vegetable for supporting the body’s detoxification pathways, it is rich in antioxidant phytonutrients, is anti-inflammatory, and can even help to lower cholesterol levels
  • High in iron: Iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, liver function and more. Per calorie, kale contains more iron than beef!
  • Great source of calcium: Calcium is needed for preventing bone loss which helps to prevent osteoporosis, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk!
  • Rich in vitamins A, C, and K 

Uncooked massaged kale tossed with applewood smoked sea salt and nutritional yeast, spread out on parchment paper

Overhead view of oven fresh kale chips, in a decorative class bowl

This particular take on kale chips was probably the yummiest I’ve ever had. Ever. Erik and I were spoiled this Christmas by our family in North Carolina, who supplied us with some gourmet goodies from their local shops. They gave us two different infused olive oils (Basil, and Wild Mushroom and Sage) and three kinds of sea salt (they come in a bunch of funky colours, and each one has its own very unique flavour) which I’ve had quite a lot of fun experimenting with. They’re also a great way to jazz up any dish, ranging from salads, to soups, to whatever! For the splendiferous kale chips pictured here, I massaged them with basil-infused olive oil, and sprinkled them with some applewood smoked sea salt and a ton of nutritional yeast. Ugh, to die for.

All the ingredients I used for these kale chips: basil-infused olive oil, applewood smoked sea salt, nutritional yeast, and a head of kale torn into bite-sized pieces

Killer Crispy Kale Chips
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 bunch of curly kale (can be red or green, you decide)
  2. 1 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil
  3. Sea salt, to taste
  4. Seasoning of your choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Tear kale up into chip-sized pieces and place them in a large bowl.
  3. If using olive oil, drizzle the olive oil over the kale and massage it into each leaf. If using coconut oil, the oil will melt from the heat of your fingers as you massage it into the kale.
  4. Sprinkle sea salt and other toppings over the kale chips and toss them in.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the kale chips in a single layer on the parchment paper. Do not put more kale on the baking sheet than will fit in a single layer as they won't cook through properly. You can save the remaining kale for another time, or bake a second batch.
  6. Bake the kale chips for 12 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't get too crispy (by which I mean burnt :P).
Other amazing combos
  1. Sea salt and vinegar
  2. Nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper
  3. Homemade cashew cheese and chives
Annemarie Dixon http://annemariedixon.com/