Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Winter is Coming

Even I will admit, this past Sunday was COLD in Toronto. The sudden drop in temperature and bitter wind was a sad reminder that summer is over, or for all you Game of Thrones fans “winter is coming”.  Cold weather, dark mornings, and lack of sunshine can make anyone want to curl up and hibernate for the winter. It’s much harder to tell yourself ‘let’s go for a run’ when you step outside and are immediately freezing. However, bad weather should never be an excuse for being lazy, but dressing inappropriately for the weather is. To get you ready for Fall fitness here are some tips.

Dress Warm. The MEC store on King Street is one of my favourite places to shop downtown. They have EVERYTHING you need to stay fit and active under all weather circumstances. I managed to go for a long bike ride Sunday, with a little help from my neck warmer, fleece lined vest and winter biking gloves from there. Without these items, there’s no way I would have ever left my cozy apartment. If you go and feel lost in the sea of overwhelming products, snag a staff member ASAP as they are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. My latest find? An awesome front light for my bike that is USB rechargeable, great now that the days are getting shorter.

Prepare yourself mentally. This may sound a little silly but seriously, telling yourself ‘you can do it’ and setting a fitness goal pre-workout (ie. I will bike for one hour or run 5 miles) can help you stay on track and forget about the fact you can no longer feel the tips of your fingers.

Be safe! Coming from experience, there are countless ways you can injure yourself biking in this city. If you are new to cycling and unsure of how to navigate within the city, here are two super nerdy but helpful links from the City of Toronto listed below. The first one talks about general bike safety in the city, and I personally wish I had read the part about crossing street tracks before I wiped out and destroyed my elbow this summer. The other is a cycling map of bike friendly routes and location of bike lanes in the city. You can also use the bike route function on Google maps to find bike friendly roads and planned routes when inputting directions. Guess you no longer have an excuse to drive that car huh??

Safe and happy workouts :)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A Girl's Gotta Eat: Toronto Edition

I officially survived my first week of medical school. And although I already feel completely overwhelmed, I also feel a calming sense of knowing that I made the right decision. I feel right at home with my classmates and can’t wait to start learning more and more about naturopathic medicine. It’s hard work, but I know all this information will be of great benefit to my patients one day. While I’ve been living in Toronto since May, a lot of my classmates have moved here for the first time. Since I LOVE exploring and try new restaurants and food, I though a blog post on some of the best hole in the wall and hidden treasures would be a great choice.

Best sushi lunch special- Sushi on Bloor
This is not my own opinion, but the opinion of several other blogs and critic reviews online. There is a reason Sushi on Bloor has a line up at lunch every day. Their sushi is cheap, fast, good quality and incredibly delicious. My fav, #S7, hold the spicy mayo. There are vegetarian option as well.

Best dine-in sushi- To-ne Sushi
To-Ne Sushi on Queen west is the place to visit for sushi downtown. The restaurant (and bathrooms) are clean and nicely decorated, the staff friendly and the green tea is always hot and comforting. They have a good menu with lots of interesting roll combinations and appetizers. I love their seaweed salad, always beautifully presented and twice the size of most other restaurants. Prices are slightly higher, but 100% worth it for the quality and portion sizes. Try the Blue Jay Roll or Boston roll.

Best Korean- Ka Chi (St. Andrew Street location) 
This little restaurant is both the best Korean and my favorite restaurant to visit with my special guy. We discovered it walking around Kensington one afternoon, and now make weekly visits to the friendly staff at Ka Chi. The prices are ridiculously cheap; we still don’t understand how they can serve such good quality filling meals at small prices. Unlike some Asian restaurants that are rice (read carb) heavy, their dish actually contain huge quantities of fresh and flavorful vegetables, meat and seafood. I love the grilled mackerel and spicy stew combo, and the spicy stir-fried squid with vegetables. Be adventurous and try all the side dishes as well.

Best Indian- Mt. Everest
Mt. Everest on Bloor makes me feel like I’m back in Nepal whenever I visit. Their food is cooked from scratch and they will modify menu items (ie. no added cream) if you ask. The service is slow, but the food is worth the wait. My favorite is their lamb vindaloo, perfectly tender cooked lamb and great spice. The Himalayan Hunting platter is also great for sharing and one order of rice is PLENTY for two people.

Best Vegetarian- Fresh
Fresh has two convenient locations in Toronto, one at Bloor and Spadina and one at Spadina and Richmond. They have an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu that even true meat eaters will enjoy. Their ace of kales salad, and soup, salad, cornbread combo are two of my favorite items. They have tons of GF options, and really interesting combinations of veggies and sauces. Try their sweet potato fries for a yummy indulgence.

Best GF friendly lunch spot
Arepa Café located on Queen west is a celiac’s haven. Their sandwiches are all made on grilled cornbread, and they offer a variety of meat and vegetarian fillings. The meat is fantastic and the sandwiches are huge enough to fill you up for the afternoon.

Best Dessert
Menchies in the Annex beats out all other fro-yo places in the city. Their frozen yogurt simply has more flavor, and they have tons of different healthy (fruit, nuts) and less healthy (chocolate, candies) toppings to choose from.

Still to try
There are two restaurants in Kensington market that are on my radar. Hibiscus Café is vegetarian and GF friendly, offering huge buckwheat crepes with sweet and savory fillings. Seven Lives apparently has amazing tacos with creative fillings and long line-ups to match.