Basil Box – Tasty, Fast & Fresh

I had the opportunity to go to The Basil Box for the first time this week, and I really liked it. I checked out their website in advance and noticed they had a bunch of great looking vegan sauces, and a tasty looking tofu option – I was really happy to see how easy it was to order a vegan meal with them. Everything is clearly labelled V for vegan-friendly, and everything is gluten free by default. It was quick and easy to order and I think it would be a decent option for our whole family (toddler included). First you chose a base – which can be brown rice, jasmine white rice, rice noodles, mixed greens or a mix of a couple different bases. When I was ordering I went with the long grain jasmine rice, but for my next bowl I would probably do rice and mixed greens. Next you pick two veggies (all of the options are vegan by default) so there are sauteed peppers, roasted onions and peas, lemongrass corn, roasted edamame, and charred sweet potato. I was tempted by that sweet potato, but went with edamame and sauteed peppers for a colourful mix. They have one main vegan protein option – a coconut curry tofu, which is a nice pressed extra firm tofu marinated in one of their own Basil Box made curry pastes and coconut milk. The owner mentioned they are testing a couple other vegan protein options, so there might be more in…

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Stratford, Ontario – The Planet Diner

We spent the day at Cedar Row‘s annual Summer of Peace event and it was beautiful as always but on the way home, we were wondering where we could go for a bite to eat. I asked around, and a friend  suggested we visit The Planet Diner in Stratford, Ontario, so off we went to check it out. The Planet Diner opened only a few months ago and it looks great. There is an outside patio, indoor diner style seating (complete with puffy red booths), and a fun kitschy decor. It features casual comfort food. They serve a primarily vegan menu, with a few meat-containing options available. It seems like they are generally dairy-free but if you have allergies, of course it’s best to double check (I didn’t ask). They have coffee, tea, cold drinks, juice, alcohol, and virgin cocktails too. You can take a peek at their menus on their website – they’ve got lots of options for everyone, including stuff for the gluten free crowd. We rolled in around 4ish, and there was street parking available nearby, there is also a green P around a block away. Their brunch menu looks delicious, but ends at 3, so we picked off the regular menu. We started off sharing the fries and gravy (default vegan) and a couple of drinks – I had a soy cappuccino (which was excellent) and JC got the virgin Caesar which was spicy and wonderful (I might have stolen a few/several sips.)   I had the…

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Smash Juice Bar – Grand Opening – April 20th

JC and I decided to check out Smash Juice Bar for lunch on their grand opening today. Along with raw, gluten-free and mostly vegan (one item has honey in it) packaged foods (everything is well labelled), they’ve also got a nice variety of juices, kombucha, non-dairy milks, and cold press coffee. It is a nice addition to the area that’s becoming increasingly vegan friendly (with spots like Kupfert & Kim, IQ Food Co, Superfood Eateries, etc) which I couldn’t have said with much enthusiasm a few years ago. Transit accessible, walkable, and it shares the space with the newest location of Rose City Kitchen (which is vegan friendly too – hello falafel) and Clockwork Coffee (which made me an excellent soy latte today.) JC and I shared the Mediterranean Wrap and the Zucchini Linguini, plus a couple of drinks, a Refreshing Smoothie for JC, and a Cherry Chia Kombucha for me. I was pleasantly surprised by how light the Mediterranean wrap was, and the wrap balanced being strong enough to contain all the veggies and hummus, with being light enough to be easy to bite into. Ingredients: Carrots, ground flax, tomatoes, hummus, cabbage, kale, sea salt, spices  I liked the mediterranean wrap, but my favourite in terms of lively flavours was the zucchini linguini. It was well seasoned, the noodles were fresh and everything came together wonderfully. We’re generally not “raw food” folks, but you can almost never go wrong with zucchini noodles. Ingredients: zucchini, tomatoes, hemp hearts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh herbs,…

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Cardinal Rule – Vegan Friendly Brunch in Roncevalles

Cardinal Rule has been open since May 2011, and in that relatively short time they’ve won awards a plenty, and shown up on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here. I’ve been to Cardinal Rule twice. Once for brunch, once for a late lunch. I ended up ordering the same thing both times, and it was interesting to find how dramatically different those two times were. The first time gave me a really positive impression of the place. The server was really nice, seemed to like it there, and was knowledgeable about the menu. Second time around the traditional Parkdale attitude showed up in the form of a different server, unhelpful, and indifferent. So that’s something to consider. If the latter had been my first impression, I’d probably end up going somewhere else in the future. I wondered why it had taken me so long to actually go in, but it’s mostly because from the outside, it just looks like a greasy spoon kitchen with nothing to offer me food-wise but once you walk through the door it looks like a fun little diner. The tables are a cacophony of photos of vintage and wannabe vintage images (I mean this in a good way – I think.) The menu is colour coded with vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, gluten-free designated by symbols. There is probably something there for everyone which is a plus if you have non-vegan in laws that don’t want to eat vegetarian food. On the first visit I had the phish and chips, it’s crispy…

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Tori’s Bakeshop – Vegan & Glutenfree Friendly Bakery

So like I mentioned yesterday I was really excited about Tori’s Bakeshop (2188 Queen St. East, Toronto) opening. A gluten-free friendly vegan bakery that opened yesterday in The Beaches. The gluten-free aspect isn’t really relevant to me, but the vegan part is. And sure, it’s premature to really review this place, since the first day isn’t indicative of what it’ll be like on the everyday. BUT, that said, I thought their first day was great. I sat at work all day looking forward to finally trying something Tori’s Bakeshop. I didn’t care what, I just wanted to try something. And try stuff I did. They were running low on treats, because of an unexpectedly large amount of customers (sure, they made three day’s worth of food, but come on, vegans, foodies, gluten free people – three groups that love to eat when they actually can.)

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Once upon a Valentine’s Day – with help from Bunners and Cafe Belong.

So, I’m just going to brag. I had a really fantastic Valentine’s Day this year, and JC made it happen. I’ve always been a fan of the pink and red holiday. Even while most of my social group was decrying the horrors of commercialism, and the absurd expectations that are put on people on Valentine’s day,  I love the idea of a day devoted to celebrating love. Because sure, you can celebrate love everyday – but (most) people don’t! I think The Oatmeal really sums up my feeling on the worst thing about Valentines Day with this Comic. I sent people ridiculous little handmade cards this year. And picked up tickets to Avenue Q at the Lower Ossington Theatre for Mr.JC, despite my hatred of musicals (and to some extent – puppets.) But that doesn’t really compare to the nice series of surprises that were in store for me. Apparently JC had ordered some flowers, and they were supposed to be hand delivered to my office that day. Unfortunately, the building I work in had received a bomb threat for Valentines Day, so they weren’t accepting any packages from anyone. So a very enraged (so I hear) Purolator courier driver was turned away, with a big box of flowers and a teddy bear. Teaching me it really is the thought that counts, because despite this security kerfuffle, it was an absolutely sweet start to the day. (we did pick them up the day after and they were still lovely.) After an otherwise boring,…

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