My Favourite Bakery: Babycakes NYC

It’s no big secret that I adore Babycakes in New York City.

I didn’t get to visit for some strange reason on my first trip, but absolutely made more than one stop on my second go round.

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What’s not to love about an adorable retro bakery that serves gluten free and vegan baked goods that are absolutely delicious?! Donuts and cinnamon buns and cupcakes, oh my!

I picked up the newest Babycakes cookbook when I was in New York and have been having fun making my own treats since I’ve been back. From adorable chocolate cupcakes that I may or may not have made for a boy because it was his birthday

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to sweet snickerdoodles

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and oatmeal cookies that my roommates went absolutely bonkers for

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So far the book hasn’t steered me wrong and those around me are thrilled at the prospect of delicious baked goods!! It’s a great way to cope until my next trip to NYC.

And I still want to make donuts someday soon. I just need to find an inexpensive donut pan.

Have you been to Babycakes? Do you have any favourite baking recipes?

Belmonte Raw aka My New Love

A few months ago I heard that there was going to be a new raw food place opening up in my neighborhood and I got pretty excited. Last weekend when I had brunch with Lisa and Carol that anticipation started to build as Carol told us more about the restaurant and then it grew even more so when I saw the Twitter updates of the doors being open.

On Saturday I finally got to visit and was blown away.

Belmonte Raw is everything that I hoped it would be and more, especially since it’s down the street from my house in the heart of Leslieville at 1022 Queen St E. The decor is simple and pretty and our server was positively delightful. The dine-in menu consists of mains that will rotate each week along with 2 daily salads plus an assortment of juices, smoothies and desserts with a commitment to local and organic produce.

I met up with Dani and Lisa by chance when I arrived, and both had opinions on what I should order. My meal got off to a lovely start with a Happiness juice

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which was an amazing mix of grapes, grapefruit and pear. It was all kinds of awesome. For my main, I opted for the burrito

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It was unbelievably good. A collard wrap with jicama, tomato, veggies and a nut-based taco filling served with dehydrated tortilla chips and 3 dips. The cheezy sauce that came with the chips was out of this world. Why bother eating cheese when you can have sauces that are cashew based and taste just as rich and creamy with so much depth of flavor?! The wrap was amazing too.

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I find that sometimes raw food can be way too heavy when it relies heavily on nuts and seeds to make it good. Belmonte Raw has found a great balance between food that is delicious, nutritious and going to keep you full. At the end I found myself dipping the collard wrap in the cheezy sauce because it was just that good.

Dani and Lisa told me that I had to try the chocolate, and who was I to argue?DSCN0651

It was like the best Reese Peanut Butter cup ever without the crap they put in Reese Peanut Butter cups, because it was entirely raw. I loved every single bite.

My meal was the perfect fuel for my crazy Saturday (pictures and video from the Ashleyx2 cabaret to come!) and I even grabbed a beet salad to take with me for later. I didn’t end up eating it for dinner, but the next day, and it was delicious as well.

I told Carol that I’m vying for her best customer award since it’s right down the street and an amazing option for healthy, scrumptious, take away food close to home.

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Found this great reminder to “live what you love” in the rest room and took that message to heart as I headed to my show!

Belmonte Raw, it’s official: we’re in love and there’s no turning back!

Guess What I’m Having For Breakfast Tomorrow…

Canadian vegans rejoice…

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Found coconut milk yogurt at the Big Carrot tonight!! Hopefully they’ll be quick in bringing the Greek style one too.

Seriously way too excited about this…

Something Rawlicious to Get Me Through a Crazy Week

I’ve sorta failed on the Vegan Mofo front this week… but it’s been non-stop rehearsals and a million things going on. Next week I will be better and I promise some SWEET content with NYC details and an ode to a bakery that I lurve. Promise.

One thing I did do this week was stop at Rawlicious before rehearsal on Monday and enjoy their seasonal menu whilst sitting at my favourite solo window seat in the Yorkville location

DSCN0641Holy jeeze yum. Stuffing and cranberries in a green wrap with side salad was the perfect mix of savory and sweet. Who says that raw food can’t be warming??

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Ended the meal with raw vanilla cardamom ice cream. It was divine. So divine, the full bowl pic didn’t even make it into my twitter stream

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They got the empty bowl while I was proofing the Ashleyx2 program for tomorrow’s cabaret! I hope to see you there! If not, we’ve got a videographer coming and will be posting lots of content from the show on youtube. Exciting!!

Just Your Average Saturday

Saturday was a crazy day a normal day in my life:

7-12:30 Weight Watchers

We had 3 awesome meetings and talked about Thanksgiving victories and learnings, setting your kitchen up for success and my awesome new (totally vegan) shoes. I think my meetings have a fashion show component to them sometimes…

12:45 – 2 Brunch with two awesome gals at Fresh

Was so happy to meet up with Lisa and Carol for brunch at Fresh. Carol got there early and managed to score us a table, which was amazing because brunch there is INSANE! The two of us started off with almond java smoothiesDSCN0623

It was oh-so-delicious and a perfect start to the meal!! I knew it was going to be a crazy day and I was kind of starving, so I opted for the pancake platter DSCN0624

Blueberry almond pancake, scrambled tofu and tempeh bacon made for a whole lot of deliciousness!! The scrambled tofu isn’t my favourite at Fresh, but the tempeh bacon and pancakes are pretty incredible. The gals and I had a great catch up, and Lisa and I expressed our excitement for Belmonte Raw’s restaurant/takeaway opening in Leslieville very very soon! It was the perfect brunch with amazing company and wonderful food.

2:30 – 5:30 Ashleyx2 rehearsal

Our show is just around the corner and we couldn’t be happier! We have a great set list and can’t wait to share our songs with an audience. Be sure to check out our latest promo video. We also just solidified that we’ll be having our after party at The Central which will be a lot of fun! Join us on Saturday!

6:30 onward Party errands, preparation and party…

We had a little party at our house in honour of Thanksgiving and Halloween. I wore this:

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And talked in a Minnesota accent all night, proclaiming my desire for world peace. It was all very Drop Dead Gorgeous and very very fun.

How was your weekend?

A New Musical Vegan Friend And Goodies From Louisiana

Back in September I caught a tweet from Lindsay at Cook Vegan Lover promoting her third annual care package swap. I jumped on board and a little while later received an email with details on my partner.

I was really excited when I checked Tanya’s blog and started to exchange messages with her learning that she was also a musician with a strong appreciation for kale! It was a lot of fun gathering goodies for her with a focus on vegan items that were from Canada. I sent her care package off, so you’ll have to wait and check out her blog to see what I got her! I was giddy when I arrived home to a giant box on Tuesday and then opened it up to find all of this:

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Lots of raw treats, some Louisiana goodness including swamp water tea and hot sauce, Tanya’s cd and an adorable music themed apron!! It was like vegan Christmas!

Thank you so much to Lindsay for organizing and Tanya for sending such a thoughtful bunch of goodies! I’m so excited to enjoy all of my treats. I love how many amazing vegans and friends the blog and twitter world have brought into my life!

Eating in the Eaton Centre Just Got A Lot Easier For Us Vegan Types…

I was really curious to see what the Eaton Centre would do with the sketchy foodcourt at the North end when they said they were renovating. Torontonians were promised the “urban eatery” with 900+ seats and sustainable practices including reusable dinnerware, glasses and cutlery.

I was even more excited when I heard that they were adding an Urban Herbivore. This meant that vegans had a great option right in the midst of the KFC, McDonalds and other random food court picks

I’ve now gone a couple times and I have had amazing service on both occasions. DSCN0527

I checked it out with the lovely Steph Belding (whose appearance in 50/50 I just saw on the weekend!! So awesome to see a familiar face in such a great film) around mid-September. Steph opted for the soup and I grabbed a curry bowl. We both enjoyed our meals and appreciated the reusable bowls (especially once we figured out where to put them once we were done!)

I went again last week with the lovely Lindsay for a lunch date and opted for a make your own bowl concoction. DSCN0596My bowl included brown rice, artichokes, tofu, snow peas, beets, cucumber salad and avocado. Our server was really great about letting me know what was gluten free vs. not (something I had asked less about the first time I had gone) and I found the bowl to be super filling and delicious! As Lindsay said, while all the components would be easy to make on their own, we generally wouldn’t make 6 different veg dishes to put on rice/quinoa, so it was brilliant to have so much variety all in one place.

DSCN0597All together now…

I love having such an easy vegan option right in the heart of the food court. I’m in the Eaton Centre at least once a week (for my Wednesday night Weight Watchers class) so it’s amazing to know that it’s there when I’m in a rush or just hungry! I’ve also found the staff to be more friendly than the location in Kensington and the portions to be more generous (that may change over time…) The price of a bowl is roughly $10 and they’ve also got juices, desserts and a soup of the day.

The new Urban Eatery also has a gelato place, complete with dairy-free gelato options. I chose peach-mango and pineapple

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While it’s no SOMA or Ed’s, it was pretty delicious and a perfect treat for a Friday afternoon. I’m pleased with the changes to the food court (although apparently we’re not supposed to be calling it that?) and happy to have such a great, local, vegan option.

Vegans – what do you do when you’re forced to eat in a mall food court?

There’s No Denying It…

There’s just something about Ashley…

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Thank you to the amazing Rich Burdett for the photos and our fabulous make up artist Claire McClelland for making us look so pretty. Our press release went out today and our show is less than 2 weeks away!

There's Just Something About Ashley Oct 22, 2011

There’s Just Something About Ashley
Saturday October 22, 2011
7:30pm

Annex Theatre
730 Bathurst St
Doors at 7pm

We’d love to have you there, and we’d also love for you to take a minute to ‘like’ our Ashleyx2 facebook page where you can stay up to date with everything we’re doing!

It’s so much fun to be an Ashley…

Gluten Free Vegan Thanksgiving, No ToFurkey In Sight

No offence to the tofurkey lovers out there, but I was never a big fan of turkey to begin with, so why would I want a faux version?

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The new Feist album kept me company in the kitchen… (it’s so good!)

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mmmm sweet potatoes and pecans = deliciousness

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Altogether now:

orange maple tempeh
sweet potato kugel
spinach salad with fennel & cranberries
(with an oil/vinegar/mustard/agave dressing)
steamed broccoli

there was also an unpictured apple / pear crumble

Lots of yumminess courtesy of my favourite nutritionista, Meghan Telpner (who just got a book deal!! So proud of you miss!) My copies of her recipes from her classes 2 years ago are so weathered and loved, I knew I was making great choices with this menu. I shared dinner with a (very happy) roommate who was also home and mention of my menu on the twitter actually garnered me a marriage proposal. It was definitely a little bit different than your traditional Thanksgiving fare, but it was delicious, nutritious and well loved.

It was a delicious meal and I really enjoyed the beautiful weather and the extra long weekend! I’m so thankful for all the wonderful things in my life: amazing friends, family, coworkers and blog readers, the opportunity to do what I love, a great place to live and my health!!

How was your thanksgiving weekend? What are you thankful for?

Because Everything is Better in an Owl Bowl

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Including easy peasy vegan chili

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Seriously, isn’t this bowl adorable? The chili is pretty wonderful too…

Easy Vegan Chilli

1 tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 zucchini, chopped
2 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder
pinch salt
pinch cayenne
2 cans of beans – your choice (I used chickpeas & mixed beans)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tsp oregano
1 c. corn (thawed if frozen)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp agave
juice of 1 lime

In a large pot, heat up the oil.

Add garlic, peppers, onion, carrot and zucchini and sauté until veggies are soft and smelling delicious (about 4-5 mins)

Add cumin, chili powder and salt, turn down heat and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and mix everything together. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serves 6

It was good when I first made the recipe 2 years ago, but the owls took it to a new level. I think this is the new coveted bowl in our house – I know it certainly makes me smile a lot!

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Sweet Chocolate Cherry Larabar Love

This morning this happened on the twitter:

larabar love

and then this happened in real life:

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a package arrived at my office from the gorgeous and thoughtful Dani with a chocolate chip cherry torte larabar of my own along with a sweet sweet note. It definitely brought a huge smile to my face!! Holy yummy treat and holy amazing friend. I’m such a lucky gal.

I don’t want to spread any rumours, but she’s been known to recreate larabars in the past

So much love!! xo

Food, Fitness, Friends and Follies on a Friday

TGIF took on a whole new meaning on my second day in NYC.  I started with a beginner class at Physique 57. I had read about Physique 57 on Gina’s blog and after doing a bit more research before my trip, decided that I really wanted to try it since it’s something that I’ve never seen offered in Toronto.

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Based on the Lottie Berk method, Physique 57 is a unique fitness experience that targets all your trouble zones through pilates, ballet and strength based movements. I traveled to the studio on Avenue of the Americas and felt instantly at home and zen in the studio. The class uses a variety of props including ballet barres, playground balls, free weights, bands and mats, and the studios are carpeted in the participants don’t wear shoes.

This class kicked my ass.

I loved the use of all the props and ballet bar. The instructor was motivating and encouraging and did a great job at giving all the gals in the class individualized attention and corrections. Outside of some of the alignment and use of props, the moves are not difficult to learn, but are done in repetition that get your muscles working! I loved the focus on areas that I feel need more work, like my hips, thighs and mid-section.
After climbing the 4 flights of stairs back to the hotel room (
remember when I said I knew this would be a bad idea at some point?) I walked down to the 3rd and 14th street to meet up with the lovely Sheryl!!

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We had such a blast the last time I was in NYC, I was so looking forward to hanging out again. We hopped on the MTA to make my first ever trip into Brooklyn. Sheryl wanted to take me to a vegan bar called the Pine Box Rock Shop, but when we arrived at 2pm we discovered that they didn’t open until 4 and weren’t even willing to make exceptions for two gorgeous vegan ladies. So, we changed our plans, and headed into Williamsburg to go to Champs.champs2

Champs was awesome. Super cute decor, huge vegan baked goods, and a delectable brunch menu. I opted for scrambled tofu with tempeh bacon, salad and home fries. champs1It was oh so good, especially after such an intense workout! Sheryl grabbed a giant vegan brownie

DSCN0316(she was still riding the high of her birth week) and the vegan french toast. Sheryl’s friend Amanda joined us for a little bit and I have to say that I drooled a bit over her giant cinnamon bun!!

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After Champs, we headed back into Manhattan for some shopping adventures at Sephora and Trader Joe’s, although didn’t make it into the store due to the massive pre-Irene insanity. I love our friendship and our hilarious conversations and adventures. I look forward to more to come!! I love that I managed to score a free hug…

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I did some wandering and shopping before heading up to Candle 79 for dinner. I’ve heard so much about Candle 79 and was incredibly excited to finally eat there! It was early, so I scored a sweet table by the window. I started with a delicious muddled berry juice to sip on along with some sparkling water.DSCN0331 It was really refreshing but was kind of disappointed that they hadn’t perfected their own version of the “hurricane” in honour of the upcoming storm before I ordered.

For my main, I chose the Moroccan spiced chickpea cake. 

DSCN0332I wanted more spice/Moroccan flavour from the chickpeas, but everything worked really well together and my body was happy to have the good green stuff. I loved the restaurant had a separate gluten free menu and my server was incredibly cognizant of my gfree needs. I asked for his expertise when deciding on dessert. He advised me to choose the brownie, and said that it was going to be the best brownie ever and it honestly did not disappoint!!

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Chewy, dense, chocolaty brownie with ice cream and deliciousness. It was like heaven!! I’m such a dessert gal and this was ah-mazing. I had such a great experience at Candle 79 and can’t wait to go back AND pick up their soon-to-be-released cookbook!

I had been waiting for 8pm on Friday night for weeks, as it meant that I was going to be entering the Marquis theatre to see one of my musical theatre idols, Bernadette Peters, sitting fourth row centre in Follies. I started tearing up while walking into the theatre. No joke.

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The show was amazing. Bernadette was unbelievable. She embodied the most magnificent performance of everything I’ve been taught about musical theatre and crushed my expectations and hopes for seeing her onstage. Seeing her sing Losing My Mind was breathtaking. The rest of the cast were phenomenal and I really enjoyed the story and of course all of Sondheim’s music. I knew many of the songs and was enthralled from start to finish. I can’t wait until the cast recording comes out so I can re-live all of the wonderfulness.

As if I needed to top the whole night off, I managed to discover the stage door and had the chance to briefly meet Bernadette and have her sign my program. DSCN0346There were many people around so I didn’t accost her for a photo. In real life she’s a teeny tiny person, but has such a wonderful presence onstage. It was unforgettable and worth the wait.

Seriously, delicious vegan eats, a great class, adventures with a gorgeous friend and seeing my musical theatre idol in a brilliant show - What more could you ask for in a Friday?!

How about a photo opp with a group of sailors with a combined age of about 29 in Times Square?

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Oh yes, that happened.