Rave: Food Delivery Services

Even in a city like Toronto, with its abundance of farmer’s markets and organic butchers, it can still be difficult to make healthy food choices. For every organic juice bar there are a hundred fast food shops. When you’re pressed for time and have an empty fridge, grabbing a burger or a frozen pizza from the supermarket can seem like the quickest and easiest option. Enter food delivery services! These businesses make accessing healthy or organic as easy as possible. 

Organic Food Delivery

There are an abundance of organic food delivery services available to residents of South Western Ontario. While each service differs slightly (we’ll get to that in a minute), they do share a few common traits: online ordering, weekly delivery and a focus on organic produce. Most services allow you to customize what items are in your box (though, often for an extra fee), and many allow you to specify things you never want delivered. When you sign up, you can choose what size box you’d like – single, couple, family and so on. We’ve tried out Mama Earth Organics and they were great at letting you switch box sizes or skip a week if you were going to be away. 

The bounty of nature, right on your doorstep.

It’s important to remember that “organic” does not mean the produce is local or seasonal. However, there are a few services that operate a bit differently; working with local farms to secure their produce. Plan B Organic Farms operates on a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) system, wherein you buy “shares” of a harvest from a local farm. You pay for the produce at the beginning of the growing season, which gives farmers the capital to pay for seeds, supplies, etc instead of relying on bank loans. Pretty cool, right? The only thing we’re bummed about is that they don’t deliver to Toronto…. yet. For us city dwellers, Front Door Organics has a Go Ontario! Fresh Box option which is available seasonally. 

Prices vary according to service provider, box size and level of customization. By no means are we saying these services are “cheap”. Organic produce is more expensive than non-organic; that’s just the state of affairs right now. But the pay-off of knowing that your food wasn’t doused in harmful chemicals justifies the expenditure. For us, at least. 

Meat Shares

While organic produce can stretch your wallet, organic meat can often times break the bank. Again, we feel that knowing that our meat came from an animal who led a “happy,” artificial hormone-free life makes it worthwhile. There are a number of butchers in the city who get their meat from local farms (our favourites being Sanagans Meat Locker and The Healthy Butcher) but meat-lovers can also buy their protein CSA-style, as offered by Stoddart Family Farm

Living the good life till it’s time to be eaten.

One share from Stoddart is equivalent to a monthly delivery of 10 pounds of meat. Shares are sold in four- and sixth-month increments. Each delivery comes frozen and includes a range of meat (beef, pork, lamb, poultry) depending on what is available that month. Each order also contains a mix of ground, stew, chops, roasts, sausages and sometimes bacon or ham. As with produce deliveries, for an additional fee you can specify if there’s a particular type of meat you never want to receive.  

Meal Delivery

Now, for those of you who aren’t adept in the kitchen or are looking for a quick, healthy meal when they’re too busy to cook, there are a number of great meal delivery services in Toronto. Recognizing this need, celebrated nutritionist and caterer, Rose Reisman created Personal Gourmet, a daily food delivery service. Intended to complement a person’s lifestyle, Personal Gourmet meals are offered both fresh and frozen, and in both “healthy living” or “weight loss” programs. Another bonus? There’s a family-sized option for easy weeknight dinners. 

Everything is more delicious when delivered by bike.

Another option is newcomer Lilly’s Lunches. This service delivers homemade sandwiches by bicycle to downtown Toronto residents. Paired with a side or sweet (or both!), the food is made with carefully considered ingredients and, the most important of all components, love. To order lunch, you need to commit to four lunches – one a week, on the same weekday, for four consecutive weeks. Imagine how jealous your co-workers will be when you’re enjoying your fresh, delicious sandwich without leaving your desk? 

Rave: Best Skin Seminar – Summer Radiance

The lovely folks at Consonant Skincare regularly hold Best Skin Seminars out of their store (2479 Yonge St.), since education is such a huge part of their mandate. Along with producing innovative products, they strive to contribute to their patrons’ overall well-being. Held on what felt like the year’s first really sunny Monday, their latest seminar was aptly titled “Summer Radiance”. The seminar featured two experts — Marina Cortese (www.nour-ish.ca), a holistic nutritionist and Donna Bishop (www.greenbeauty.ca), a green beauty expert and founder of Bamboo Magazine — each of whom applied their area of expertise to the theme of “summer radiance”. We’ve decided to share the knowledge with our faithful readers. 

Healthy Eating for Healthy Skin

With warmer weather comes the return of delicious, in-season produce. For many of us, this means that our diets naturally tend to integrate more raw foods. Raw foods are rich in enzymes, which are a great source of fibre, water and skin-beautifying vitamins and minerals, all of which are fantastic for your skin. 

Raw, delicious food. 

Hot weather also means our beverage consumption increases (and no, we aren’t talking about cocktails!). We’re sure you’ve heard it before, but water is your #1 beauty food. It makes up 75% of our body, and keeps skin and organs healthy by flushing out toxins. As the body’s largest detoxifying organ, water is supremely important to our skin and in the summer months it is essential to keep hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your weight in water (for example, 150 lbs = 75 ounces of water) daily.

Alongside water, you should be drinking lots of fresh juices*. Juicing is a great way to deliver vitamins and minerals directly to your body, helping to energize you and support your body in cleansing. Think of it as a heroin injection of antioxidants. The combinations are endless, but the juice Marina brought was especially delicious: cucumber, celery, green apple, mint and lemon (she called it the “green zinger”, one sip and we could see why). 

Elixir of beautiful skin. 

To close out the seminar, Marina left us with her “Top 10 Food Beauty Tips”:
– Hydrate
– Chew your food (should be paste-like, to decrease the work for your digestive system)
– A juice a day keeps the doctor away
– Listen to your body
– Eat a variety of foods and rotate (don’t eat the same thing everyday)
– Eat organic, “happy” foods (think of meat as a treat, not an everyday staple)
– Eat nutrient-dense food
– Do some spring-cleaning
– Quit your bad habits
– Have fun and never feel guilty!

*We are not talking about Tropicana here. Juice means fresh-squeezed, no sugar added or from concentrate nonsense. And juice doesn’t just mean fruit – veggies are an amazing juice ingredient, too.

Healthy Makeup and Skin Care

Before launching into summer skin care, Donna gave us an overview of the cosmetics industry and, damn, is it a terrifying landscape. Donna compared it to the “wild west” — impurities and by-products don’t need to be listed on product labels, there’s no standardized testing of products before going to market, and companies often hide behind the guise of “proprietary information”. If we weren’t sold on organic products before, we certainly are now. 

Moving on to summer-specific skin care, Donna’s guidance was fairly straightforward — sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen. The sun is the #1 cause of skin damage, with 80% of damage happening before the age of 18. Yikes. She also gave us a general rule of thumb as to the difference between UVA and UVB rays: UVA rays age us, while UVB rays burn us. 

Lotion up!

During the summer months, especially with more of our bodies being exposed to the sun, we should always be wearing sunscreen. Donna suggests applying it after your shower as part of your morning routine to ensure you don’t forget. Curious as to how much you should use? A good guideline is using a shot glass full per adult. And steer clear of spray or powder sunscreens, as you end up inhaling just as much as goes on your body. Gross. 

Organic sunscreens get a bad rap. They tend to have difficulty blending into the skin and end up looking like you’re slathering a white paste all over. However, there are brands making great strides to be both good for you and easy to use. Donna’s tried-and-trusted favourite organic brands include Devita, Original Sprout and UV Natural

Donna’s favourite organic sunscreen.

When applying sunscreen this summer, try to put it on 30 minutes before going into the sun to allow time for it to absorb properly. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your forearms and hands daily. We tend to focus on our faces, while forgetting that our hands often belie our age first.  Finally, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by high SPFs. Studies show that anything above a 30 SPF offers only marginally more protection than a 30 SPF, so you should still reapply every 1-2 hours you’re in the direct sun.

Interested in learning more about your best skin? Upcoming Best Skin Seminars as as follows:June
4, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Healthy Aging

June 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Summer Radiance
July 96:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Healthy Eating for
Healthy Skin (Advanced Course)

July 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Healthy
Eating for Healthy Skin (Advanced Course)*

For more information, please call Consonant Skincare at 416.925.2855.

*tentative date, subject to change.

City Living: Allergy-Survival and Diet-Friendly Hot Spots

Some of us on the fourth floor have allergies and particular dietary needs, so we’re always grateful when we can dine at restaurants that are able to accommodate us. We love good food and luckily, we’ve found some Toronto restos that allow us to safely indulge in tasty dishes without sacrificing flavour or variety (you can only eat so many salads). Here are our top allergy and vegan/vegetarian-friendly spots in the city.
Chipotle’s Mexican Grill has two locations on Yonge Street at both the Eglinton Avenue and Dundas Street East intersections. With the option of staying in or taking your food to go, the menu includes several toppings and meals that are gluten-, soy- and lactose-free. We especially like the corn tortillas with black beans, guacamole and spicy tomato salsa. Yum.

Le Commensal is a buffet-style restaurant at Bay and Elm, specializing in vegan and vegetarian foods. It features a wide selection of hot dishes, a salad and dessert bar, and freshly squeezed and blended juices. The eggplant in ginger sauce is a must-try!

Image source.

Magic Oven is a pizzeria that can be found throughout downtown Toronto. Along with its pizzas, it offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free soups and salads with organic ingredients. They also have vegan and lactose-free cheeses, and offer specialty and organic wines and beers. Umm…yum.

Image source.
Hibiscus Organics is a café in Kensington Market that specializes in organic, vegan and dairy-, gluten- and egg-free meals. Our mouths are watering already at the thought of safely enjoying their variety of crepes, salads, pastas and desserts!

Image source.
The most well known of the bunch,  Fresh Restaurant supports a vegan, vegetarian and organic lifestyle at all three of its Bloor Street, Spadina Avenue and Crawford Street locations.We can’t get enough of their juices, salads, fresh rice bowls, black bean burrito and mushroom onion burger. If you’re new to veggie or vegan meals, definitely give Fresh a try.

Image via BlogTO.
Boom Breakfast & Co. is a breakfast and lunch eatery with locations on Eglinton Avenue, St. Clair Avenue and College Street. The menu includes smoothies made with soy milk, a plethora of salads and healthy omelettes with a nice fresh fruit garnish served on the side. A great place for friends and family, their tasty selections can be enjoyed indoors or on the patio. From Monday to Friday, they have a $4.99 special of two eggs, toast, boom frites (so good) and coffee. A great deal. Like most brunch spots in Toronto, be prepared for a wait during prime brunch time. 

What restaurants are forgiving of your diets and allergies? Tweet us your allergy-survival and diet-friendly hot spots @rockitpromo.