What a Dietitian Eats at Ribfest

This past long weekend I headed to my parents’ house to spend the last hurrah of summer with my family. My sister and her boyfriend recently moved back here from England, so we’ve been catching up on missed time! On our agenda for the weekend, like every Labour Day weekend, was Burlington’s Ribfest.

burlington-ribfest-2

Burlington actually has the largest Ribfest in the country, so it brings in some of the top “ribbers” (apparently that’s what they’re called?) in Canada serving up beastly racks of ribs along with other barbecue fare.

Barbecue can be a difficult cuisine to navigate when looking to make healthy choices. Between the fatty meats, sugar laden beans, fried side options, and coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, there isn’t really much fresh fare. So what does a dietitian eat at a rib fest?

Ribs, duh. And some pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread too. Oh and a few pieces of a blooming onion.

burlington-ribfest

I mean, you could maybe order more healthily by getting the BBQ chicken and removing the skin before eating, draining the excess dressing off the coleslaw, and bringing your own vegetables to round out the meal. Or you could not go to the ribfest at all, and opt to stay in rather than spending time with your friends or family.  That’s probably what some health magazines would tell  you to do.

But as a dietitian, I wouldn’t go for either of those options and I wouldn’t expect my clients to either. Life is about so much more than the pursuit of the ultimate healthy diet.  And frankly it really doesn’t matter what you eat on special occasions and once-a-year events like Ribfest – what’s important is how you eat the majority of the time in your day to day life. So enjoy your social life and eat some crap from time to time!

Your turn: What’s your approach to eating at events like Ribfest? What does balance look like to you?

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My First Trip to NYC

For someone who has never lived in a big city before, I really do love them. I think it has something to do with my introverted nature. I feel like big cities balance out my personality or something. So I like to head into Toronto frequently, which is the closest big city to me. But New York City is in a league of its own. I literally could not wrap my head around how big – and tall – it was!

NYC skyline

There was so much I wanted to see on my first trip to NYC that we ended up making a pretty packed itinerary for ourselves. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw some of my posts about our trip, but today I want to relive it on the blog by chatting about what I ate, did, and drank!

NYC-eat

I’ll start with one of my favourite parts of the trip – the food, duh. For me this trip was as much about the restaurants as it was about the sightseeing. And it’s not just because I like to eat (true as that might be), it’s also because I feel like I get such a good grasp on the culture of a city through its food.

H&H Midtown Bagels East

So naturally we started with its bagels. For our first lunch we hit up H&H Midtown Bagels East, which had a fantastic selection of fillings, although I wasn’t crazy about the bagels themselves (I’ve yet to have a bagel better than JC’s Bagels in my hometown!).

New York pizza was also an iconic meal we knew we had to partake in. So on our third morning after seeing the 9/11 memorial site and the Statue of Liberty, we took a quick jaunt over to Brooklyn for a meal at Grimaldi’s thanks to recommendations from friends and family. We had a custom pizza which ended up being overpriced IMO, but it was still pretty tasty and a relatively cheap meal for NYC.

grimaldis-pizza-NYC

But the standout meal of the trip for both me and John was Lafayette where I had the most mindblowingly delicious duck bolognese pasta. If there was every a meal that would cause me to go reenact When Harry Met Sally (you know the scene I’m talking about) in a restaurant, this would be it.

Lafayette Grand Cafe: Duck bolognese pasta with fried rosemary

Other notable eats were crostini at Fig & Olive, this insane plate of potatoes and vegetables covered in cheese at Raclette, huevos rancheros at The Smith (although thumbs down to their imposter French toast), and an acai bowl at Two Hands. I also had my first nut-free ice cream parlour experience at A La Mode Shoppe. For most kids, going out for ice cream is just your average Friday night. For me, it was non-existent because of my allergies. So yeah, this experience was a pretty big deal to me! And a delicious one, my goodness.

A La Mode Shoppe ice cream

NYC-do

We did more than just eat in NYC though – we also spent a ton of time walking everywhere. By the end of each day our feet were so tender we could barely drag ourselves back to our hotel room. And then we woke up and did it all over the next day. Honestly I had such a blast just walking through the neighbourhoods and soaking them in.

me-and-john-nyc

But we also hit up some hot spots like the Chelsea Market, a smorgasbord of restaurants and food stands offering everything from lobster to noodles to doughnuts. I grabbed some grub at Los Tacos No. 1 as well as a chocolate ganache cupcake from the nut-free bakery Eleni’s.

los-tacos-no-1

To get to the market, we walked the High Line, a stretch of old railway converted into a walkway above the city. It was lined with greenery and had gorgeous views of the city on the one side and the Hudson River on the other. If you love walking with good views, I also recommend walking the Battery Park City Esplanade along the Hudson River.

High Line, New York City

Thanks to John’s parents we also had tickets to see Wicked, which I really enjoyed. The music wasn’t all that catchy to me, but I loved the storyline and seeing how it was woven into the story of The Wizard of Oz. For a lower key evening the previous night we had reservations at the Comedy Cellar. This came highly recommended to us and it didn’t disappoint!

To escape the city for a while, we spent the better part of an afternoon wandering Central Park, which is so much bigger than I imagined! And I quickly learned that just because shoes are comfortable for an hour of walking, it doesn’t mean they’re comfortable for 20km of walking. Womp womp. Luckily we found a pharmacy close by to the park to stock up on band aids!

central-park-fountain

And of course I probably can’t talk about what to do in NYC without mentioning shopping! We found a lot of great spots from 5th Avenue to Soho to the Meatpacking District to Bleeker Street. Yep, we did a lot of shopping (well, I did). Tip: If your men are getting tired, drop them off at the cafe at Bloomingdales for a beer while you spend hours getting lost in their shoes!

NYC-drink

It’s not a vacation without a little bit of imbibing (bonus if it’s day drinking)! On our second day in the city I saw one of the most beautiful patios I’ve ever seen at The Standard Grill, which was reason enough to stop for a post-lunch drink. I just had a riesling, but I wish I’d ordered John’s lime and basil cocktail.

We were also lucky enough to get reservations on our last evening at PDT, although they weren’t easy to come by – John had to call them 53 times (not even joking) at the designated time before he actually got through! It was worth it for sure though – I think the special Pimm’s cocktail the bartender whipped up for me was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had.

the-standard-grill-patio

NYC, you were grand. Until next time!

Have you ever been to NYC? Have you been to any of these places? What were your favourite things to do, eat, and drink there?

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5 Reasons You Should Cook With Friends

It kind of feels strange to not be posting a recipe for once… but inspiration hit me, so I’m running with it. But it’s still about cooking because I’m not really much of an expert on anything else. Except for salamanders… let’s just say I was a dorky child.

Anyways today I want to chat about cooking with friends. A few years ago my default for hanging out with friends was to go out for a meal. But that gets expensive real fast. Also, sushi stops being healthy when you start going out for all-you-can-eat three times a week. True story.

So then I started to cook with friends at home instead. And while we sometimes had flops (one particular porridgey amaranth pilaf comes to mind), those times are now some of my most cherished memories.

So if you tend to be more of a solo cook like I used to be, take a peak at these 5 reasons you should cook with friends too:

In a cooking rut? Check out my 5 reasons you should cook with friends!

1. Cooking is more fun with another person

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying cooking alone can’t be a good time. But while cooking alone is more relaxing, cooking with a friend can be fun! Break out your favourite bottle of wine, crank up those tunes, and bust out your best Spice Girls impression while singing into a spoon. It’s a lot less weird when you’re doing it with someone.

Enchiladas

Chicken and bean enchiladas made with Andrea from Dietetic Directions

2. Cooking with friends can save money

Have you ever spent $3 on a bunch of herbs only to to fish it out of your vegetable bin 2 weeks later and throw it in the trash? Or bought a special kind of vinegar for one single recipe and never used it again? Cooking with friends means you can divvy up the ingredients and split the cost of them.

Also, cooking in is usually much cheaper than eating out, especially when you factor in point #5!

3. It can make you a better cook

It can be hard to find the motivation to spend a lot of time preparing meals when you’re just cooking for yourself and/or your family. Cooking sessions with friends are a great time to bust out a more complicated dish that you’ve maybe been intimidated by, like pasta from scratch. In this way, cooking sessions with friends can definitely help you become a better cook over time!

Tofu sofritas

Tofu sofritas bowls made with two of my other dietitian friends

4. It splits up the work

Who here hates prep work like chopping vegetables for a recipe? *raises hand* Cooking with a friend means you can split that tedious part of cooking so that you can get to the good stuff (ie. eating) faster!

5. You can make enough food for leftovers

Since there’s two (or more) of you cooking, it’s way easier to make meals in bulk so that you can each go home with some ready made lunches or dinners for the week. Double or triple the recipe, and make sure everyone brings their own containers to take some of the meal home!

Freekeh pancake with egg

Freekeh pancakes with Swiss chard and crispy eggs made with Andrea again!

Convinced to start cooking with friends? Check out my past post about 5 tips for starting a supper club with friends!

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