The Starter with Belmonte Raw

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Sometimes in life, you just have to press the reset button. A few weeks ago, I was fell off the wagon. After eating healthy consistently for the past couple of months, I had a seriously terrible week with food. I made bad decisions and ended up eating things that made me feel super crappy. This also coincided with some serious changes at work that made me feel not so stellar. Instead of going further down the rabbit hole, I knew I had to make a change quickly in order to get back on track. Since I’ve been working out so much, it is totally counterproductive to eat unhealthy.

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I immediately got in touch with Belmonte Raw and got set up for a 2-day reset cold-pressed juice and raw food diet. Having learned from previous experiences, I didn’t want to do a juice-only cleanse, as I wanted to make sure I had proper nutrition and energy to keep me going throughout the days and my workouts. What is great about Belmonte Raw’s different meal and juice programs is that they have something for everyone. I was particularly drawn to The Starter because it included 1 smoothie, 2 raw meals, 3 cold-pressed juices, 1 elixir and 1 tea. Another plus is that the meals they offer change daily, so you’re not eating the same thing day in and day out.

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As with all Belmonte Raw programs, all the juices and meals were delivered straight to my door the first morning of my cleanse. For the first day, I had a Hummus Wrap for lunch and a Veggie Lo Mein for dinner. On the second day, my meals consisted in the Madras Curry & Kale for lunch and the Dreams of Lebanon for dinner. The meals were all portioned well and also very tasty.

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With the delivery you also receive a little guide book with your daily food and juice schedule to make sure you space everything out properly. All of their juices are made with 100% organic ingredients. All of their meals are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and free of all animal products.

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After the 2-day reset, I felt a lot better about myself. I felt confident to keep eating healthy and stay on track. Sometimes just a little change in your diet or routine can make a huge difference in how you feel.

For more info on Belmonte Raw, go here.

Kupfert & Kim

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Healthy and clean eating is so important to me. I’ve been a vegetarian (almost vegan… the only thing I have yet to forego completely is cheese!) for over thirteen years now and I can honestly say that it’s had such a positive impact on my life. Additionally, making sure I’m eating a not processed and clean diet, especially now that I’m more active than ever, has been key to my training success.

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I’m always on the lookout for healthy vegetarian and vegan places to eat at in the city and am thrilled that Kupfert & Kim recently opened up a brand new location right in downtown. Their food is not only beautiful to look at but also nutritional and healthy. I had the chance to sit down with Mark Kupfert, one of the co-owners of Kupfert & Kim last week, who told me a little more about their mission and what they offer:

What inspired you to open up this place? 

It’s a few things. One of them was that we ate this way and we found that it was difficult to find places that were doing it in a quick and dynamic way.

There’s also the backward story that my partner and I were actually in a band together in Montreal in the mid 2000s. We did some tours across the States and the healthiest thing you could eat on the road was Subway, which was full of processed stuff. We had this idea but we separated for a while and then he came back here to work as a lawyer in Toronto and he told me that he thought the idea we had would work in Toronto. So, I came to Toronto to visit and we decided to give it a shot. It was the perfect moment in our lives. We gave it a shot, the first one opened in the PATH and we were surprised by how much crossover there was. It wasn’t just appealing to the more progressive aggressive healthy, it was food that wasn’t just for the vegan demographic but for everyone because the world needs it.

That’s the other thing about it is, it was a bit of an environmental mission. We cannot feed the planet sustainably using animal protein.

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Cauliflower Tahiti

What was your initial goal? 

We wanted something that wasn’t so hippy granola, we wanted something that was appealing to people that are scared of this food. The huge thing was to get people from across the board. We were looking for something that was elegant but fun, some kind of black and white, wood, stone and steal. It’s fun yet contemporary, a little bit graphic and hip.

What can people find on the menu?

A lot of it was inspired by the food that I had at AUX Vivres in Montreal, they had some great grain bowls and salads. In the beginning when we opened, we just had four dishes, four bowls. We went with a rainbow type bowl, then the Oaxaca bowl, which is one of our most popular dishes, which is an elevated burrito bowl. The idea was that it would be more accessible then tempeh. Black beans are something that people already understand, Chipotle made it happen, so let’s just add organic kale, hemp seeds, organic tortilla chips and daikon to make it a bit more interesting. We also had one more Asian inspired bowl and one super salad. It was just about trying to create variety but also to keep it simple, heavy colors, super fresh and not try to make vegan food that’s not trying to be vegan food. Let’s appreciate the food for what it is.

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Oaxaca

How has Toronto received Kupfert & Kim?

We were blown away. We thought that when the first place opened up that we’d do ok but that it’d still be very niche but we were impressed by how quickly people were ready for this. I think people like FRESH, made the groundwork in Toronto and we appreciate it. We also welcome other places to open up because we think humans shouldn’t be eating meat three times a day. There just aren’t that many options out there, the market is still throwing conspicuous consumption of meat all the time. Yes, there are better practices for ethically raising meat but at the end of the day, you’re still eating animals and those practices are still extremely energy intensive. It’s just about there being more options and this becoming the norm. 

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K&K Waffle & Ice Cream

Mark’s recommendation for a good post-workout boost:

Add sprouted rice protein in a smoothie after a workout, it’s an excellent form of protein, it can go in any smoothie or any smoothie bowl. 

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Blueberry Smoothie

To find out more about Kupfert & Kim, go here. Check out their brand new location at Richmond & Spadina in Toronto.

Friday Faves

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1) Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon – The most delicious and healthiest mock bacon I’ve ever had. Hands down, the thing that tastes the closest to bacon I’ve tasted in my 12 years of being a vegetarian. Even my boyfriend agreed that the taste was pretty darn close. I found this amazing snack at Fiesta Farms in Toronto. It’s vegan and also gluten free. It’s perfect on salads, quinoa, sandwiches, burgers, etc. Adds crunch and flavor!

2) Filsinger’s Organic Apple Butter – I also found this product at Fiesta Farms in Toronto (hands down the raddest grocery store in the city for organic products!). Whenever I see apple butter, it automatically reminds me of Stowe, Vermont and Cold Hollow Cider Mill, the cutest and yummiest local apple product producer. My mom would always buy us apple butter for our toast in the morning when we’d stop in Stowe. Though the taste isn’t exactly the same, it’s just as delicious! Not only is it great on toast, it’s also perfect with yogurtfruit or just on its own!

3) Shasha Co. Spelt Lemon Snaps – Picked these up the other day at Metro and they’ve become a great dessert that isn’t too sweet or that isn’t filled with bad ingredients. They’re an all organic, vegan, non-gmo snack. Shasha Co. have what seems to be a great line of organic snacks, breads and baked goods. I’m excited to try more of their tasty treats in the future!

5 Food Discoveries in Los Angeles

Here’s the first of a series of blogs I’ll be posting on my recent trip to Los Angeles. The theme for this blog is FOOD! If you’ve ever traveled to Los Angeles before, you know that there are always new restaurants opening up in every part of the city. One of the things I love most about traveling is trying out new restaurants everywhere I go. I’ve been vegetarian for over 12 years now and contrary to what most people think, I can eat just about everywhere (especially when traveling to California, where there are so many vegetarian-friendly dishes on all the menus!). I’d definitely say I’m an epicurean vegetarian! Here are 5 food discoveries I made while in LA earlier this month:

1) Fōnuts. Yes, there’s no typo here, fōnuts and not donuts. Fōnuts are donuts but better! Here’s why: they’re not fried, they are baked and/or steamed and come in so many incredible flavors, many of which are gluten-free and vegan. I first heard of fōnuts through Instagram and have been obsessively following their feed for the last couple of months, promising myself I’d check them out next time in LA. And that I did… not only once… or even twice, but three times! And boy was I not disappointed. I’d say, I became mildly obsessed with their baked goods while I was there. The thing I love most about them is that they use fresh and natural ingredients in every fōnut and they are made in-house daily. I love the “cake-like” taste & texture and the clever combination of flavors. They’re also not too filling as a result of not being fried and have a very different texture. Hands down my two favorites were the “Blueberry Earl Grey” and “Peanut Butter Chocolate“. A must if you’re in the Hollywood area. They’re located on West 3rd street, just at the corner of S. Crescent Heights Blvd.

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2) Gracias Madre. I had been meaning to go to Gracias Madre last summer and then on my trips since but each time, I ended up somewhere else. Gracias Madre’s is all about serving local, organic and vegan food. Three key words that totally attracted my attention when I had first heard of this amazing restaurant. Added bonus: it’s all Mexican food!! But not any kind of Mexican food, Mexican food done with a modern and clever twist. All of the food we ate at Gracias Madre was so incredibly fresh and flavourful! It was just the right amount of spice and all the dishes were very well balanced. The drinks were also so incredibly tasty. I highly recommend sharing a bunch of plates. My favorite appetizer: “Gorditas“, which are potato cakes accompanied by avocado and cashew cream. My favorite main: “El Plato” a dish with butternut squash, cashew cheese and chorizo mushrooms. My favorite dessert: their incredibly yummy “Fudge Brownie” made with salted mezcal caramel. One of the best parts about eating at Gracias Madre, was being on their incredibly beautiful outdoor terrace. It’s decorated with an outdoor fire place, beautiful lights, lanterns and is in the middle of trees and plants. Super romantic! You can make reservations through OpenTable, just make sure you reserve a little while in advance, the place is always busy.

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3) Sqirl. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a better brunch than the one I ate at Sqirl. Sqirl is a small cafe located in the Los Feliz area of LA. It’s packed with young hipsters, businessmen, actors, etc. who all come for their morning coffee, meetings or to just enjoy the incredible food their serve there. They’ve got a few seats inside but also have a great little alcove on the side of their restaurant with a bunch of chairs and tables. What makes Sqirl awesome is not only that everything is made from scratch in-house, including their jams, their almond milk, their hot sauce, etc., it’s also more than just a little cafe. They have an extensive breakfast/brunch and lunch menu that they make fresh in front of your eyes. Everything I tasted there was absolutely to die for! Things you NEED to try when you go to Sqirl: their vanilla bean lemonade, unreal! Also their open faced brioche with kale, tomatillo puree and fried egg. And finally for “dessert” their brioche with homemade jam and freshly milled almond hazelnut butter, WHA?! Take me back now!!

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4) Fig & Olive. A discovery that Offner made while looking for new restaurants to check out in LA. The restaurant has definitely become a city hotspot over the last little while. Located on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, Fig & Olive is a beautiful and classy restaurant. The decoration is sophisticated and so are the people that eat there (or they at least seem to be!). They’ve got a great selection of wine and an interesting choice of plates for dinner. Though a little bit more on the pricier side, the food is delicious, tasty and worth dishing out the extra cash. The fish “Paella del mar” seems to be a favorite among customers, including Offner himself. The thing that I also loved, was their incredibly well presented desert. Good times!

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5) Commissary. You’ll find this little oasis at The Line Hotel, located in Koreatown. The Line Hotel has only been open since the beginning of 2014 and is already attracting people from all over the world and incredibly hype (I will tell you more about the hotel itself on another upcoming blog!). Commissary is located in a greenhouse and is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their entire menu revolves around fruits and vegetables. Though not exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, there are definitely many veggie-friendly dishes. You can either sit at the bar or at one of their beautifully presented tables. The drink menu is original and savoury and so is the food. Another thing that’s super unique about this place, their menu contains no words, just pictures! A clever idea by the one and only chef Roy Choi (founder of the LA Kogi food truck!)! Yup! He’s the one responsible for the remarkably creative menu & space. Totally worth checking out!

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