Well, what do you know! The Keen Kitchen is portable and on the move. I have been in Toronto visiting my sister since last Saturday. I put off this trip for awhile and was admittedly quite bratty about it. It’s just hard to cough up the money for a $500 plane ticket and still be in cold, wet Canada! I must say though, it has been great being with my sister and I am quite impressed with the food thus far.
Being from the West Coast, I guess I had a notion that Vancouver, birthplace of Lululemon and Daiya, was more health-conscious than Toronto. I think I stand corrected. Maybe it’s just because it’s a bigger city, but I haven’t really had to look hard for vegan dining options on the go. I have been able to find something in every area I have visited. Healthy options are super trendy and available here. Pretty awesome.
I have to come clean and admit that I have not been eating gluten-free while being here. I am not allergic to wheat, or anything for that matter, and when I am on vacation I don’t limit my diet as much as I do when I cook at home.
My first eye-opener was at the ginormous Eaton Centre mall and its swanky new food court. It is metallic and shiny and even the usual food court suspects, like KFC, look fancy. In the centre is a beautiful oasis in the form of Urban Herbivore. Seriously? Healthy vegan food in a food court? There were gluten-free options, but I opted for a BBQ tofu sandwich on spelt bread. I couldn’t resist adding avocado and am glad I did. Avocado makes everything better. Not that this sandwich needed it! It was super moist thanks to a yummy tahini sauce. It was also warm after being toasted in a panini press. I hate cold sandwiches, so I was pretty pleased about that. An amazing sandwich, all in all. It also came with a side salad. Kiera had a moroccan stew with quinoa. Something fun about the food court: everything is served in reusable dishes. If you ask for water, it comes in a real glass! Take that, Vancouver.
Another day, my sister and I braved the rain and trekked to Kensington Market. Loved it there. It is what Vancouver’s Commercial Drive aspires to be. It also, despite the cold rain, felt a little like Mexico with its narrow streets, brightly coloured houses and plethora of latin grocery stores. So, it is fitting that we decided to go to Hot Beans for lunch.
Hot Beans serves up delicious vegan Mexican food. Obviously, I had to go there. The burrito-meister told me the TVP Burrito was the best. I am so glad I listened to him! I was pretty much in heaven during every bite. Until I neared the end, that is, and couldn’t finish it. This rarely happens to me, but this thing was massive. You could work your biceps using only the bag that held our two TVP burritos. I am not joking. Share one, okay? Then you will have room for one of their vegan doughnuts. Anyway, this was the closest I have ever come to having a steak burrito, I think. It was super meaty and saucy, as I added guacamole and their nacho “cheese”. I am not sure what the cheese is made of, but it was freaking amazing. Also, they have Valentina’s hot sauce on hand, which is always a plus. This could have been gluten-free of I made it a bowl, and they have brown rice available. Sometimes, you just want a big fat burrito though, right? This baby came to $10 even. Worth it. So much protein.
After Hot Beans, we wandered over to Moonbean Coffee. I was too full for anything but an espresso shot, but it was pretty tasty and had good crema. I noticed that they had a really good selection of vegan baked goods. Their loaves looked particularly tasty. Also, they had soy milk near the sugar etc. which I really appreciate.
Speaking of delicious hot beverages, the Mayan Hot Chocolate at Soma in the Distillery District is a must-drink. It is vegan if you get it as a shot, or made with hot water as I did. It is spicy and rich with just the right amount of kick. Soul-warming on a chilly fall day, and it went really well with the vegan gluten-free ginger molasses cookie that I found at The Sweet Escape Pâtisserie.
Another quickie vegan option I found was a burrito bowl at Chipotle. I had never been there before, but am always willing to try a new Mexican fast food joint. Chipotle has nicely laid out nutritional information on their website, which I checked out before going. I was pleased to see that the only dairy they serve is in the cheese and sour cream. I added guacamole to my bowl, which at $2 extra is a little steep, but it was a pretty huge scoop of it. The cilantro lime rice was really tasty. Chipotle was not the best ever or anything, but was tasty, fast and healthy (besides the fat from the obscene amount of guac I guess).
Oh, I also have been cooking, but I have been using an unfamiliar kitchen and the results have been good, but not 100% blog-worthy.
So, that concludes part one of Vegan Toronto! Part two will have more photos, I promise. I got over my embarrassment about whipping out my camera every time food was brought to me, like a good little blogger.
Until then, readers, stay warm, dry and well-fed!