I am a certified personal trainer (CSEP & CANFIT-Pro) and nutritional practitioner in your own Greater Toronto Area. I have been practicing both as a self-employed personal trainer on location in clients' homes as well as at various and health and wellness facilities for over 5 years.
I also continue to enjoy teaching my group classes including indoor cycling, muscle conditioning and cardio kickboxing.
Earlier this week we covered the top 3 healthy dine-in restaurants in the city. Today we tackle the world of take-out. Toronto is a city that is go go go all the time. Dine and dash, hit and run, in and out. There are endless take-out joints lining our streets or in many underground food courts. Here are 3 of my favorite clean eating options, covering different areas of the the city when you’re looking for a healthy alternative to traditional fast food.
With locations in Kensignton Market, The Eaton Center and College St. W, this is probably the best salad bar in the city. You choose a greens or grains base, 6 toppings, and one of their house dressings. Everything is prepped on site, and the staff are super helpful in offering suggestions. Look out for the baked goods though, just because they are organic & vegan doesn’t necessarily mean they’re healthy. While delicious- The Toronto Star discovered that the Sweet Potato Date muffin contains 38 grams of fat and 986 calories!
Eating out is fun- and when you live in a city as big as ours there are endless options for your daily cuisine.
The downside is most commercially prepared food is created to please your taste buds- which often means tons of additives such as unhealthy fats, sugar and/or salt. Thankfully the city also boasts a number of vegetarian, vegan, and health conscious omnivore restaurants. Whether your meal is raw, vegan or a high end Italian- the key is to be conscious of what is going into it.
Contrary to what we may think, a salad doesn’t always fit the bill as the healthiest option. What is in your salad? On one end of the spectrum, a bland iceberg lettuce salad may leave you hungry and lacking nutrients. On the other end, a salad filled with hidden fats or processed ingredients such as cheese, bacon, croutons and pre-packaged creamy dressing, will send the calories through the roof and your health down the drain! Meanwhile a burrito can actually be the better option. The deciding factor is the actual contents of your salad, burrito or soup or whatever you order. So be aware of what you’re eating, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or substitute healthier options to your meal. It’s okay to indulge every so often, but make sure you know when you are. The worst surprise is finding out that your go-to lunchtime choice is actually enough to feed 2 people or contains a days worth of sodium. A great place to start is by going to restaurants in the first place, which will offer healthy and filling meals, without sacrificing your taste buds. Here are 3 great dine-in restaurants to get you started. Stay tuned later this week for my top 3 take-out joint options.
Today’s workout involves exactly what the title reveals. A superset is essentially 2 exercises performed back to back, and in this case, for a given amount of time- 3 minutes. It is very simple in terms of space, as well as equipment.. because there is none needed! In terms of difficulty, it is up to you. It will be a VERY challenging full body workout… if… IF you push yourself at a solid pace for the full 3 minutes and with minimal break between the different supersets. A huge advantage of timed workouts is one can push themselves to their own abilities and at their own pace, making this an ideal method for groups of different fitness levels.
I find it baffling how many people are still intimidated by the idea of making their own healthy smoothies. They think it takes a special skill or knowledge base. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is really one of the simplest and best things you could do for yourself. Recipes are easy as 1, 2, 3.. and the result is an awesome nutritionally packed drink that can fuel your body for hours; not to mention, it will save you quite a bit of dough. So ditch the morning bagel or bottled processed juice and revitalize yourself right at home.. All you need is a blender, and some of your favourite ingredients!
A great base for any smoothie is a liquid (water, milk, juice), bananas and ice (for that rich texture). You can also omit the ice and use avocado instead of banana for a slightly less thick or sweet base, that’s also rich in healthy fats. If you are using a fruit juice as your base liquid- make sure it is fresh natural juice, and try cutting it with coconut water. Coconut water is a super hydrating, low calorie drink filled with electrolytes. So weather you’re craving a refreshing green juice, a post workout recovery drink, or a more decadent smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth, the possibilities are endless…
Here are three simple recipes to get you started. Think of these as guidelines- You can play around with amounts, ingredients, and add superfood supplements like spirulina, maca, matcha or chia seeds. (remember these from my (previous post on superfoods)
Power Green Smoothie
A great hydrating breakfast smoothie to wake you up!
- 1 1/2 cups apple juice
- 2 cups spinach or kale – stemmed and chopped
- 1 apple – unpeeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/2 avocado, chopped
- 1 TBSP Chia Seeds or Hemp Seeds (optional)
Let’s be real, there still remains a stigma revolving “protein shakes” – where we imagine gym rats chugging them back aiming to get big and muscular. Don’t get me wrong, active people relying on liquid nutrition isn’t completely off base- many gyms have juice bars and a solid plant-based smoothie can be an awesome recovery drink post-workout. Whether you are blending a frozen banana, berries and protein powder for a healthy shake or are juicing parsley, kale and cucumber to drink your vitamins- there is always a place for healthy beverages in your diet.
The trouble is most commercial juices and smoothies are filled with added sugars and preservatives. So we have two options- discern the best store-bought choices, or make our own. This week we’ll explore both options- starting with PART ONE- Taking it to go! Below I will cover menus from various locations in Toronto as an example, but even if you live elsewhere you will still be able to take away tips for what to look for when buying smoothies/fresh juices/shakes etc.. depending on what your specific nutritional objectives are.
This Toronto mainstay has one of the biggest Juice bars in the city- with four different locations. While Fresh is a Vegetarian restaurant that strives to be a healthy option- the liquid menu ranges from “lightly refreshing” to “more calories than you should eat in a meal” power shakes. Remember that ingredients like nut butters and coconut milk contain a lot of healthy fats and calories- and there may be hidden sweeteners in ingredients like Acai and Matcha powder.
Fresh’s base juices are all juiced to order- which gives you the power to switch out sugary fruit juices for a number of vegetable juices- and even mix and match. They also offer a number of high quality supplements to amplify the health benefits of your smoothie- like Spirulina and Chia seeds, which I’ve talked all about in my previous post. (Check it out here), Echinacea, Vitamin C, and protein powder. Fresh exclusively uses Vega protein- a plant based powder that is one of the best on the market, which we’ll look at a little closer in our next smoothie blog.
On to the menu.. The real nutritional powerhouses- containing just whole vegetables and fruits, lie in the “green smoothies” and “vegetable juices” sections. (The “All Green” and “Electrolyte Green” are two of my favorites)
If you’re looking for something more filling and energy packed- ideal for post-workout recovery, try their Power shakes. (The “Date Almond” and Chocolate Peanut Butter “Swoosh” are delicious) Add Vega Protein for an extra boost, and you may just have a healthy filling meal on the go. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that is the same as drinking a green juice. Each have their purpose and benefits.