Yum, Yum: Best snacks in the city

As common sufferers of food envy, we enjoy restaurants that take the pressure off ordering the perfect entree and encourage sharing a variety of nibbles. This tapas-style eating allows us to sample a bunch of menu items, plus we heard that food has no calories when shared with friends. Grab a few of your best pals and try out a few of our fave places below.

416 Snack Bar

The mini-Mac!

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include our favourite after-work hangout on this list. Besides being across the street from our office, 416 offers an ever-changing list of scrumptious small plates including scotch eggs, steamed pork buns and tacos. Our favourite item, the mini-Mac (think: a mini Big Mac), was taken off the permanent menu but makes an appearance on Sunday nights as the day’s “special thing”. We can’t think of a better way to end a weekend.

Yours Truly
 

Portugal meets Japan meets delicious.

Yours Truly is a relatively recent addition to the popular Ossington restaurant strip, but has quickly distinguished itself from the pack with creative cocktails and inventive food. While they do offer meat and vegetarian prix fixe menus, we highly recommend ordering off the snacks menu. The inari-wrapped salt cod and rice is a must-have, but our favourite touch is the chefs delivering the food to your table.  

Swirl

Looking for a cute place to meet your girlfriends for drinks? Then look no further than Leslieville’s Swirl. The tiny restaurant is a bit tricky to find (it’s on the second floor), but once you get there the pretty decor and reclaimed furniture have you hoping you’ll never have to leave. There’s no kitchen, so almost everything on the menu is served in mason jars. The menu includes duck rillettes, marinated olives and cheese, and charcuterie plates.

Guu

It’s never this empty.

Guu originated in Vancouver, opening five restaurants before bringing their concept of the izakaya to Toronto. Pairing traditional Japanese tapas, such as deep fried oysters, carbonara udon and seaweed salad, with a fun, energetic and boisterous atmosphere made Guu an instant hit when it opened on Church St. Their second location in the Annex is equally as popular and no less loud. Be prepared for the entire restaurant staff to yell greetings as you enter and leave.

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Yum, yum: Banana Muffins

Restaurants these days are offering gluten-free pastas, bakeries are making gluten-free baked goods, and gluten-free recipes are popping up everywhere. For those of us who try to avoid gluten, we say the more options the better. While some restaurants and bakeries have mastered this modified way of cooking and baking, in a lot of cases, the alternatives just do not compare. So we decided to take things into our own hands. 

After trying a few different recipes, our most successful gluten-free baking triumph happens to be one of our all-time greatest comfort foods: banana muffins.

 Image source.
Gluten-Free Banana Oat Muffins
Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups gluten-free oats (available at most health food stores)
1 cup almond flour (other gluten-free flours like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, or quinoa flour, etc. can be substituted)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 cups mashed banana (4-6 bananas, over ripe are best)
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preparation:
1.     Beat egg, banana and melted butter together in a small bowl until smooth.
2.     Add banana mixture to dry ingredients, stir until mixed.
3.     Fill greased muffin cups (almost full).
4.     Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched.


If your food allergies are not just limited to gluten, we’ve also used this recipe courtesy of the website My New Roots, that has no eggs, dairy, or sugar and it works with a variety of flours as well.
Ingredients:
1/4 cup milk of your choice (almond, hemp, goat, soy…)
6 Tbsp. olive oil, butter, ghee or coconut oil
6 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (approximately 5 medium bananas)
2 cups flour of your choice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup chopped nuts + seeds (walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (1 standard 100 g bar) – optional
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line an 8” x 8” cake pan or loaf pan with baking paper, or lightly oil and dust with flour, shaking out excess.
3. Put the milk, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and bananas in a blender and blend until smooth.
4. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add banana mixture and combine using as few stroked as possible. Fold in nuts and chocolate.
5. Pour into a cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time varies greatly according to oven – mine takes about an hour, but this recipe suggests only 30 minutes. Check periodically after the half hour mark.)
Gluten-free baking (well any baking really) is all about trial and error. Some flours will be too dry, others too moist. But if you’re willing to put in the time, it’s satisfying to find a healthy recipe that tastes great, and may even fool those who think they can taste the difference.