Blitz Facial Bar

L99A1943I recently had the opportunity to visit Blitz Facial Bar in Toronto for the very first time. Blitz Facial Bar is the extension of the renown Body Blitz Spa that has been around for a decade in Toronto. They now bring the same philosphy of beauty and wellness to treatments for the face. They currently have two locations in Toronto (Leslieville and Trinity-Bellwoods) and are opening a brand new location today in Roncesvalles.

L99A2253One of the reasons I like this place is because all of the products they use for their treatments contain pure essential oils and are free of parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates and artificial colours. Everything is derived from natural sources and they keep their packaging to a minimum.

L99A1845_1Blitz Facial Bar offers a variety of facial treatments raging from 30-60 minutes in length. I was able to try “The Works“, which combined the classic blitz + glow treatment (cleanse, exfoliate, mask, tone, argan serum massage and hydration) with an added extraction, microdermabrasion and a facial lymphatic massage for the full blitz experience. It was without a doubt the most luxurious facial I have ever had in my entire life. My skin was left feeling incredibly soft, refreshed and healthy.

2015-07-19-BFB-19In addition to their facial menu you can also get a variety of booster shots that can be added to your treatment.

Everyone that works at Blitz Facial Bar is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly and the environment at the bar is very relaxing and soothing. It was a perfect post-work treat!

For those wanting to check out one of their locations for the very first time, Blitz Facial Bar offering for a limited time $40Facial Thursdays” for their blitz + glow facial. For more info, go here.

5 New Restaurants to Check Out in Toronto This Spring

 pic34With spring being in full swing, there’s no better time to explore Toronto’s hot new restaurants. Because there are always so many to choose from, Expedia.ca asked me to compile my top 5 restaurant recommendations for the season.

These are restaurants that are not only new and exciting but that also offer a great selection of vegetarian dishes. Having been vegetarian for over 13 years, I am always on the lookout for great meatless offerings around the city. Luckily, Toronto is very vegetarian-friendly so it is not hard to find some great dishes for those wanting to pass on the meat. These restaurants will be the perfect addition to your list of must-try dining options in Toronto.

My first recommendation is Antler Kitchen & Bar. This “forest to table” restaurant located in Little Portugal opened up right before the end of 2015. Head Chef and co-owner Michael Hunter’s hotspot focuses on game and foraged goods.  The menu is rustic and though offers plenty of meaty selections, also proposes a handful of hearty vegetarian plates such as his signature Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin, Sweet Potato Gyoza and the Spring Onion and Potato Gnocchi. The exposed brick and wood, the mounted antlers and buck skull (that the head chef hunted himself) as well as a series of Hunter’s framed photos of morels and log piles, give the restaurant the ultimate forest vibe.

pic1pic3pic4pic2pic6pic5picpic8pic9pic10Athlete’s Kitchen is a small grab and go counter located in Liberty Village that opened up in January. Prior to opening up the shop, founder Oscar Naziri was offering meal delivery services in the GTA. Both their in-store and online menu offer a variety of pure and natural foods that are balanced perfectly and that offer all the nutrients one might need. Naziri started serving vegan meals a few months ago such as the Essential Healthy Vegan and the Lean Machine. They also offer pre and post-workout vegan, paleo and gluten-free treats, smoothies, acai bowls and more.

pic11pic12pic14pic16pic17pic18Located across the AGO, Provo FoodBar is the newest restaurant to open up in the area. Owned by John LaGamba, this eatery draws inspiration from French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. All the dishes found on the menu pack a lot of flavour and are perfect for sharing. Vegetarians will find lot’s to try such as the Beet & Pear Tatin, Arancini (as pictured at the top of the article), the Mushroom & Artichoke Crostini, the Winter Garden Salad and more. Make sure you also taste their delicious drinks and desserts.

pic26pic28pic27pic32pic31pic33pic35El Arepazo is a small spot in Kensington Market that is dedicated to the Venezuelan arepa – the round, gluten-free cornbread sandwich that is stuffed with all sorts of amazing vegetables, cheeses, salsas and more. This unique restaurant serves up recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation and that incorporate locally sourced and fresh products.  Some must-try vegetarian dishes are the Tostones, Yuca, Veggie That Works Arepa and their Chicha drink. Everything on the menu will leave you craving for more.

pic20pic21pic24pic22pic23pic25There is a lot of talk around the city about Ufficio, the new Italian joint located in Little Portugal. What sets them apart from other Italian restaurants is that they only offer a pescatarian and vegetarian menu. Their menu features local and sustainable ingredients. The place itself is beautifully designed and is the perfect balance between casual and high-end dining. Some vegetarian highlights include the Ontario Burrata, Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia, Gnocchi Pomodoro and the Cavolfiore Arrosto.

pic36pic37pic39pic42pic43pic44This post was written in collaboration with Expedia.ca but all restaurant choices are my own.

Aga Khan Museum

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The architecture of this place is what had me wanting to go for a visit for quite some time now. The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto is something else. I couldn’t believe that such a unique place was located just north of downtown. When you visit the Aga Khan Museum you feel like you’ve been transported in a completely different world, a futurist world that is. I love the shape of the building, its clean lines as well as white and grey stones. I hope I’ll get to return to this magical place in the near future.

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Geox D NEBULA (get them here), Bench knit sweater.

Toronto Waterfront 10

TW10_logo-TWToronto is getting a brand new 10k run this summer. Called the Toronto Waterfront 10, this new race evolved from the well-known Toronto Yonge Street 10k that usually took place in April of ever year. Now set to take place on Satuday June 25th 2016, this brand new race will showcase some of Toronto’s best running views.

The race will start at Queen and University and similar to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, will head down to lakeshore. The route will then take participants west before returning east along the water. Runners will be able to run along the scenic waterfront for most of the run.

Over 7000 people are expected to race and those who register can also help support any of the three featured charities: the Canadian Olympic Foundation, Second Harvest of Red Door family shelter by fundraising during their training.

On May 12th, the organizers of the #Waterfront10 in collaboration with the RunTOBeer group will be hosting a friendly beer training run that will be starting at the Amsterdamn BrewHouse and that will take runners on some of the actual course route from the Toronto Waterfront 10. The run is open to everyone and will feature 10k, 5k and 3k routes. Once the run complete, the participants will get an exclusive first look at the brand new finishers’ medal for the #Waterfront10. They will also be greeted with a pint of beer and have the chance to meet the pacers, representing the different run clubs in the city, who will be pacing the race on June 25th.

To celebrate this brand new race in Toronto, I am giving away 2 things:

1 free entry into the Toronto Waterfront 10 race

1 free entry to the RunTOBeer event happening on May 12th

For your chance to win, all you have to do is – Follow @melsays on Instagram + comment what event you want to win a spot to below the photo I posted today April 27th 2016 at 12pm talking about the race. I will announce the two winners on Instagram on Sunday May 1st.

See you at the starting line on June 25th!

Riviera Petit Pot Recipe

FullSizeRender(2)I recently discovered these lovely Petit Pot yogourts from Riviera. Being a fan of goat cheese and goat feta, I was curious to try goat yogourt for the very first time.

I love having a yogourt as a snack, for breakfast with fruit and granola or as a post-workout treat. What I like about these yogourts is that they come in reusable glass containers, they are made from all-natural ingredients, they are produced artisanally and are made locally in Canada. I also like the fact that Riviera draws influence from France and the French culture for their products.

In addition to these goat yogourts, Riviera also recently came out with a line of organic regular milk yogourts and offer a variety of cheddar cheeses, rustic butters, milks, creams and so on.

FullSizeRender(7)I love making recipes when trying out a new product so I used these yogourts to make my favorite chocolate chip banana bread recipe. Did you know that putting yogourt in your breads or muffins can add a lot of moisture?

What you’ll need:

3 very ripe frozen organic bananas
1/4 cup of honey
1 1/4 cup of Riviera’s Petit Pot Goat Yogourt Vanilla
2 tsp of coconut oil
1 1/2 cups of flour (I used organic spelt flour)
2 tsp of baking soda
3/4 cup of organic chocolate chips
1/2 tsp of salt

FullSizeRender(3)Pre-heat the oven at 350 F. Lightly grease a 4-inch x 8-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the honey, yogourt and coconut oil. Mix with a spoon to combine. Gently fold the flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips into the banana mixture until combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.

FullSizeRender(4)FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(6)For more information on Riviera’s Petit Pot, go here.

Driving Mindfully with the Ford Edge

12991094_1719719268246182_7594874660587216206_nApril being Stress Awareness Month, I partnered up with Ford Canada to learn more about being mindful behind the wheel. Mindfulness is one of the subject matters that I’ve been exploring a lot more as of late. I have been trying a bunch of different apps and challenges to become more mindful in all aspects of my life.

With the help of the brand new 2016 Ford Edge, I went on a mindfulness adventure last weekend to explore some of the gems in and out of the city.

FullSizeRender(12)13055455_1720087844875991_8976517641422716414_nThere are a ton of great features on the car that make you feel a lot more at ease while driving. Some of my favorite features include the 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat, that allows you to sit the most comfortably, the Voice-Activated Navigation and Entertainment System that allows you to stay focused on the road and keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times without having to lean over, Heated and Air Conditioned Fronts Seats, Front 180-Degree Camera and Rear View Camera for maximum security and the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert that lends an extra hand while driving.

FullSizeRender(6)FullSizeRender(10)FullSizeRender(17)FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(1)FullSizeRender(15)FullSizeRender(14)For this mindfulness weekend, I was also able to get a one on one session with Toronto yoga-instructor YuMee Chung, who gave me some helpful tips on how to stay calm, mindful and comfortable behind the wheel. Some of her tips are:

Tip 1Take Time To Stretch Before You Drive – either by doing the Triangle Pose or other stretches that are familiar to you. It will loosen up your muscles.

Tip 2Sit With Care – using the 10-Way Power Driver’s Seat you can find the perfect seating position to provide low back support. You can also use the heated seat to soothe lower back pain.

Tip 3Set Your Shoulders – Sit tall and roll your shoulders back to avoid slouching. You can also avoid “tech neck” by bringing your chin back until your earlobes hover over your shoulders.

Tip 4Get A Grip – Avoid clenching your fists when driving. At a stop light, you can rotate your wrists and give your hands a good shake.

Tip 5Slow Breath In, Deep Breath Out – It helps you destress, clear the mind and energize your body.

FullSizeRender(11)FullSizeRender(4)With these new tips in hand, I took the Ford Edge to Cheltenham for a picnic and a hike at the Cheltenham Badlands. The drive in the countryside was incredibly peaceful. I made sure to take deep breaths and enjoy the relaxing drive and the present moment. Leaving the city, even if just for a few hours always makes me feel so energized and inspired.

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(9)On Sunday, I took the car with me to the stunning Aga Khan Museum in North York and to the Scarborough Bluffs. I rarely get to go that far north or east since I don’t own a car so I was thankful to have the opportunity to visit these two beautiful locations.

FullSizeRender(19)FullSizeRender(20)I really enjoyed driving in the Ford Edge throughout the weekend. With the sunroof open, the sun shining, light music playing and open roads in front of me, it was hard not to be mindful and enjoy the present moment. The car made me feel at ease, made me feel secure and offered me all the little extras to made my mindfulness adventure the most memorable.

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Running During Allergy Season

Reactine7Spring is without a doubt my favourite time of year to run in Toronto. It is the ideal temperature for longer and more frequent runs. Some of my favourite places to go for longer runs in the city in the spring are on the Martin Goodman Trail, the Don River Trail and the Eastern Beaches Trail, just to name a few.

Reactine8Reactine11Alternatively, if you’re looking for great outdoor tracks, there is one located at Lansdowne and Lumbervale Ave. that is rarely occupied. The Eugene Melnyk Sports Field located right next to the St-Clair West subway station also has an outdoor track. Another option is the Queens Park loop, though not quite a track it is still a great place to work on speed and shorter distances.

Reactine2Reactine1With spring come longer days, warmer weather and blooming flowers. That also coincidentally means the return of pollen as well as allergies for many. Pollen and allergies definitely don’t mix and can make running or just being outdoors extremely difficult.

There are several ways to reduce the effects of allergies on your runs.

The first is by carefully choosing when to go out for a run, as pollen levels vary throughout the day. Early morning and end of day is usually when pollen count is the lowest. Furthermore, pollen count is often the lowest after a big downpour or on less windy days. Be aware of your local pollen forecast by following @ReactineCA on Twitter.

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Reactine9Another thing that can help is what you wear as pollen tends to stick to your hair, your face and your clothes. Wearing big sunglasses that cover up your face as well as tying your hair back can help. Furthermore, changing your clothes and showering immediately after you get back from your run can be helpful.

Additionally, REACTINE®’s NaturEase all natural nasal spray can offer extra help when nasal symptoms are the worst, helping not only to reduce symptoms of a dry, irritated nose but also maintaining healthy sinuses. NatureEase helps clear irritants from the nasal passage, soothes against irritation and helps support natural defenses. This nasal saline spray does not replace allergy medicine but can be used as a complement to REACTINE® pills as part of your defense toolkit.

Reactine3Running has undeniably become an essential part of my life. Because I often travel, running has allowed me to stay fit while on the road and also get to know cities a whole lot better. I spent 8 weeks on a tour bus traveling across 13 Canadian cities in the fall and running helped me stay focused and healthy throughout. Running has also helped me get to know my own city a whole lot better.

My first race of the year is just under a month away, so I have a lot of running to do from now until then. I hope you will also be inspired to bring out your running shoes this spring and go running, no matter where you may be!

For more information on REACTINE, please consult www.reactine.ca and follow @ReactineCA on Twitter for the daily pollen forecasts.

This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®.  All opinions are true and are my own.

Four Seasons Whistler

FullSizeRender(1)Whistler is such a great destination to travel to no matter the time of year. This was my second visit to Whistler and I discovered so many new things about this amazing destination on this latest trip. One of my great discoveries was the Four Seasons Resort and Residences.

The Four Seaons is the perfect place to call home while you’re in the city. Nestled in the mountains, right next the city’s multi-use trail, the hotel’s location gives you all the peace and quiet you need while also just being a few steps away from the village.

IMG_8630FullSizeRender(11)The resort’s design is inspired by its surrounding landscape, bringing the outdoors indoors. The use of timber, stone and glass gives a warm and inviting feel throughout. Staying at this hotel is like staying in a luxurious European-styled lodge, which I loved.

IMG_8381The 273 guest rooms each offer a private balcony that open up to beautiful Whistler views. Each room is spacious yet also cozy. The rooms are all equiped with first-rate amenities, including a walk-in closet, a fireplace, a marble bathroom and shower and a deep-soak tub. The hotel provides complimentary wifi as well as twice-daily housekeeping and evening turn down service.

FullSizeRender(5)FullSizeRender(12)FullSizeRender(10)The hotel staff was splendid offering to help set up activities for us in the area as well as organizing complimentary rides using the resort’s car service. We also received the sweetest welcome gift and note from the hotel following our rock-climbing expedition, which the staff had graciously organized for us.

IMG_8489FullSizeRender(6)While at the Four Seasons, we made sure to enjoy their fitness room, outdoor heated pool and three hot spring-style whirlpools. Additionally, we cozied up by the fireplace at the Sidecut Bar prior to endulging in a delicious meal.

FullSizeRender(7)Sidecut is a great place for a romantic dinner after skiing or spending the day exploring the many outdoor activities Whistler has to offer. The restaurant’s earthy tones and open fire provide a relaxing ambiance. The steakhouse, led by Executive Chef, Chef Eren, offers a whole lot more than just steak. To my surprise, they even had an entire vegetarian menu for those who are looking for different dining options. The dinner service was excellent, all the dishes were refined and savoury.

FullSizeRender(9)FullSizeRender(4)FullSizeRender(2)FullSizeRender(3)It is the attention to the finer details and the five-star service that separates a hotel like the Four Seasons to others in the area. When you stay at their resort you feel right at home and feel all of your needs and wants are taken care of. I can’t think of another place I would want to stay at from here on out when I travel to Whistler.

For more information on the Four Seasons Whistler, go here.

Nike Free Revolution

DUE_1702I am always looking for ways to switch up my training routine, to keep things interesting and to keep myself motivated/challenged. Last Thursday, I got to train with Canada Athletic’s Head Coach, Jeff Huntoon, who had designed a super unique workout that really put my fitness capacities and endurance to the test.

DUE_0799DUE_0812During the workout, we also got to try the brand new Nike Free‘s for both running and training. Their new geometric auxetic midsole is designed to enable an athlete’s natural motion and develop strength, whether they are running or training. It was great to put these new shoes to the test right away to really get a feel for them.

0A0A8626Our workout was broken up into two parts. We started off with NTC-inspired cross-training with weights, TRX and props and followed that up with a running workout that combined a series of drills and speed work.

DUE_1224DUE_1751The Nike Free Transform Flyknit gave me lot of support and grip for the training portion of the workout. I felt very stable and felt like the shoe was absorbing the higher-impact moves really well.

DUE_1130The Nike Free RN Flyknit were super light on my feet and responded well to speed. I really felt that it adapted well to my stride. The sock-like fit (similar to the Lunar Epic) made it easy to put the shoes on and also mold my feet properly.

0A0A91670A0A92100A0A92520A0A9329It was great to get Jeff’s insight on the importance of not only running but also training, how both are complimentary and necessary to become the best athlete possible. I loved the idea of breaking up a 1hr workout into two distinct portions: half NTC and half NRC.

0A0A95250A0A95360A0A9418I enjoyed the workout so much that I signed up for another similar workout yesterday at the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto. It was one of the hardest workouts I’ve done in a while but also one of the most fun.

The special NTC x NRC workouts at the Steam Whistle Brewery will continue for the next 8 weeks. To sign up and find out more about the NRC+NTC Free Revolution workouts, go to: Nike.com/Toronto.

Photos by: Charlie Lindsay and Due Pinlac

Greens + EXTRA ENERGY Smoothie

FullSizeRenderI recently discovered Genuine Health‘s product called Greens + EXTRA ENERGY. In a very short period of time, it has become an important part of my daily nutrition routine.

For a while, I had been looking for an extra source of energy but had never found a product that would not only be good for my energy and vitality but that would also be clean. In addition to giving me that extra kick, the Greens + EXTRA ENERGY also contains superfoods and helps with digestion, balancing pH levels, etc. Another reason why I like this green food powder is because it is cafeine and sugar-free plus it is Non-GMO. Being a no-coffee kind of gal, this powder has provided me with that extra boost of energy I need pre/post-workout and after a short night of sleep.

Some of the amazing things you can find in the Greens + EXTRA ENERGY are: Spirulina (most nutrient-rich of any blue-green algae, a superfood and great source of beta-carotene), Royal jelly (supports immune functions and increase energy), Siberian ginseng root extract (anti-fatigue and anti-stress herb), Japanese green tea leaf extract (assists digestion and the proliferation of “friendly bacteria” in the intestine), Chlorella (source of protein, vitamins and minerals, helps detoxify the body), just to name a few.

I have been taking Greens + EXTRA ENERGY for two months now and have felt a huge difference in my energy levels. I feel a lot more focused and also feel a lot more awake in the morning and throughout the day.

The product comes in 2 flavours: orange and mocha. Every morning, I either make a cold-pressed juice (orange, grapefruit and ginger is my favorite combination) and add a scoop of orange Greens + in it or put a scoop of mocha Greens + in some organic almond milk. I’ve also started making smoothies after my runs and workouts using the green powder and wanted to share with today you my go-to recipe.

1What you’ll need:

2 frozen organic bananas
1-2 spoonfuls of all-natural organic peanut butter
4 organic pitted dates
1 spoonful of ground chia seeds
1 scoop of Greens + EXTRA ENERGY
1 cup of organic almond milk

Throw all of the ingredients in a blender for a few minutes and top the drink off with some organic coconut chips (if you like!). It’s my favorite healthy and energizing post-workout treat!

FullSizeRender(1)There are lot’s of other ways you can incorporate the product in recipes, juices and smoothies. For more information on Genuine Health’s Greens+ EXTRA ENERGY, go here.