Sheryl Jesin


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A work of art

I have a love hate relationship with Yorkdale Mall. I hate it because it is hard to go there without buying something that I really don’t need. Malls truly are an example of excess consumption. Nevertheless, I also love Yorkdale it because it can be a good place to walk and entertain the kids on brutally cold winter days or scorching hot summer days.

Last week I found myself checking out the new expansion at Yorkdale. There are a number of brand new stores, including the North Face, Kate Spade and Ann Taylor. There are also a number of stores that moved to new space in the expansion, including two of my favourites, Club Monaco and Lululemon.

I was really struck by Lululemon’s new facade. There are no windows and no mannequins. Instead, the entire facade is a 3D mosaic made out of 35,000 small wooden blocks, that when viewed together look like a maple leaf.

These wooden blocks come from over 20 different species of trees. They are leftovers from the workshop of Brothers Dessler, two Toronto woodworkers.

It is really not often that the facade of a store is worth talking about, but I really feel like this is something special to see.

The Brothers Dessler hope their mosaic creates a moment of reflection, rather than consumption. That is difficult to achieve in a mall, especially during the holiday season. I hope that it works for the many people who walk by the store in the upcoming weeks.

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Runmute

Today I experienced my first commuting run, or as I like to call it, a runmute. What does this mean, you ask? I commuted somewhere via running. I had to be downtown this morning for a few hours, so I took the subway there, and ran home. The distance was only 5k, but it was all uphill, which made it a challenge.

To accomplish this, I wore my running capris, t-shirt and jacket, and running shoes downtown to my appointment. It was chilly in the morning so I wore my winter coat and brought a backpack with that contained some snacks, water, my wallet and my phone.

I know I talk a lot about Lululemon, but one reason I love their gear so much is that it is functional, but also fashionable. So it all easily translated from appointment to running, looking and feeling appropriate for both.

When I was done my appointment, I stuffed my winter coat into my backpack and off I went!

It was such an amazingly gorgeous day today that I had to stop 1k into my run to take my (light weight) running jacket off. Yes, I ran in capris and a t shirt at the end of November. What a treat!!

I remember when I used to work downtown, I had a colleague who ran to work, and I thought he was crazy! Now I think back to those days and wish that I had joined him. It must have felt amazing to start a day of work after a refreshing run (rather than a smelly subway ride).

I plan on continuing my rumute, even as we move into winter. Just add another layer or two, and I am set!

Have you ever runmuted? Or commuted on a bike?

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Vegan food in a food court? Yes!

I was pleasantly surprised today when I decided to check out the new food court in the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. I tend not to expect much when I am at a food court. The offerings are usually greasy and full of meat, cheese, and gluten – all foods that I try to avoid when possible.

The new Urban Herbivore outlet in the Eaton Centre is raising the bar for healthy food court eating. I decided to order their vegan Moroccan stew, a delicious medley of chick peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery and onions, cooked in a delicious tomato based sauce, served on top of brown and black rice. On the side came a salad of mixed greens, topped with shredded beets. The stew was fragrant and filling and I didn’t leave a drop on my plate. The salad was fresh and the dressing was just right.

I love that in the new food court, your meal is served on real plates with real silverware. You can get a glass of water on the side. I can only imagine how much waste is diverted through this. Truly amazing.

Sadly, the line ups at the “regular” food court restaurants (McDonald’s, KFC, etc) were huge. I can’t imagine what I would feel like after eating a greasy meal of fries and fried chicken. I am honestly surprised people still eat that crap.

But let’s focus on the positive – that you can get high quality plant based food at a food court. Pretty impressive!

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Things I’m loving right now

A few weeks ago I purchased a Brisk Run Headband from Lululemon. I wanted something to keep my ears warm while running as the cooler weather approached.

I am really surprised how much I love this product! It keeps my ears toasty, but still allows excess heat to escape from my head as I run. It looks stylish and also keeps flyaway hairs away from my face. I love the Rulu fabric it is made from – it is super soft and stretchy. It molds to my head so nicely and never feels tight but also doesn’t move at all while I run.

I’ve started wearing it outside of running because I just love it so much. It is a great fall transition piece and a wonderful hat alternative – an added bonus is that you don’t get hat head from it.

I purchased it in a really pretty royal blue, which I’ve discovered looks great with almost every color. It was $26 well spent.

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A busy fall day

I know that winter and cold, dark days are on the way. So, when today presented itself as sunny, mild and lovely, I decided to spend the day outside with the boys.

We began with a run. I ran 4 glorious miles while pushing 75 lbs of kids and 30 lbs of stroller. It’s been a while since I’ve pushed both boys in the Chariot, and wow – it is a workout!!!

We then made our way over to the Brick Works farmers market. We had a bit of time to buy some delicious produce, and then spent some time playing outside. They have an amazing outdoor kids area, with little huts made out of branches, hills to run up and down, and even a campfire where they were cooking some yummy food. We had some chickpea rotis that were great.

Our last stop of the day was the park. The boys ran around for a couple of hours, and enjoyed the sunshine.

It was such a fun day. I hope to keep spending time outside, even during winter.

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Gluten free, dairy free, soy free banana chocolate chip muffins

I love baking healthy muffins, because they are such a quick and portable breakfast or snack.  I’ve been experimenting with gluten free versions for a while now.  Some are a real flop, and only I end up eating them.   Others are decent, and Benjamin and I will eat them.  I know that they are good when Dylan and Jake say that they like them.

My latest version of a banana muffin was a hit with everyone in the family.   I hope you try this recipe.  Let me know what you think!

Recipe – Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins – gluten free, dairy free, soy free (can be vegan)

Recipe modified from Smitten Kitchen’s Crackly Banana Bread

Ingredients

3 large over ripe bananas

1 large organic egg (for vegan version, substitute 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water)

1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, or olive oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup oat flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix wet ingredients in Vitamix until smooth (bananas, egg, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla).  [If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can mash the banana by hand with a fork, and mix well with other wet ingredients.]

Mix baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, flours, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Pour in wet mixture.  Mix until combined.

Grease muffin tins well with grapeseed oil.  Pour in mixture to fill cups.  This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

I think that these muffins are the most delicious warm from the oven, especially when the chocolate chips are melty and gooey – I devoured a few of these right after I made them.  These will keep well in an airtight container for 3-5 days (if they last that long!)


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Coconut oil at Costco

I’m really impressed by the amount of healthy items that Costco carries. I love that they have hemp hearts, quinoa, gluten free pasta and Lara Bars – we’ve been purchasing these items at Costco for a while now.

I was pleasantly surprised when I stopped by the store last week and found a giant container of coconut oil for sale! Yes, you can now buy 1.5kg of delicious coconut oil at Costco for the low price of $16.99. At any other store, you’d maybe get one third of that amount for the same price. While I will always love farmers markets and Whole Foods, I will certainly be purchasing coconut oil at Costco from now on.

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Meal planning

I’ve been meal planning on and off for the past year.  When I stick with it, it makes a huge difference in our lives.  It makes grocery shopping a breeze, and we throw out far less food.  We always have a delicious, home cooked meal on our table.  I tend to make dinners the night before, as there is very little time for cooking after I pick Dylan up from school.

I’ve tried out a few different meal plan templates, and this one is my favorite:  The Project Girl Meal Planner.   I’ve been using her second version, without separate squares for each meal, but I have been planning each meal of the day – breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  It might seem a bit anal to plan out breakfasts, but it saves precious brain power in the morning when I  no longer have to decide what to make that day!

What I love about this meal plan is that there is room on the same piece of paper for a shopping list.  I take the meal plan and the list with me when I go grocery shopping each Monday morning.  I’ve found it works best if I take the list with me in a plastic page protector, and keep it in there for the remainder of the week.  That way the meal plan and the list don’t get crumpled.  I save each week’s meal plan in a binder and often refer to them when I’m sitting down each Sunday night to make my meal plan and shopping list.

Do you meal plan?  Do you make grocery shopping lists?


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Sunday Brunch at Live Organic Food Bar

A few weeks ago, Jake and Dylan were out of town for the weekend. My mom, Benjamin and I decided to head down to Live Organic Food Bar on a Sunday morning for brunch. Two kids in a restaurant = hell. One kid = a fun outing.

We arrived right at 11 am to avoid any lines. The restaurant was empty when we got there. It slowly started to fill up as we ate, but we enjoyed having the place to ourselves for a while. The decor is modern, cool and clean. All of the food at Live is vegan, gluten free and sugar free. There are an array of raw and cooked dishes to choose from, in addition to a large selection of juices and smoothies.

I had french toast on a gluten free bun, made with almond butter and bananas. It was served with fresh berries, maple syrup, jam and coconut whipped cream. It was absolutely delicious. My only complaint is that it was quite small.

My mom had a sunshine wrap. This is a raw dish. It is made up of the following: sundried tomato wrap, sunflower sesame hummus, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, micro greens, and a balsamic reduction. It came with a side salad of mixed baby greens, micro greens and sprouts. My mom was nice enough to share half of her wrap with me. She tends to be not as starving as I always find myself to be. Half of her dish, along with mine, filled me up.

We shared a juice called Green Electricity. It is made from kale, apple, grapefruit juice, cilantro, ginger and lemon. It was refreshing and delicious. I liked that it wasn’t super sweet, as juices can be. Benjamin loved it! He also snacked on some of our food, and was quite happy to be there with us.

We were quite satisfied with our brunch. It was so nice for me to be able to go to a restaurant, and know that every choice on the menu was something that I can eat, and something that is healthy. My mom commented that she felt so good after eating – she felt light, rather than stuffed and bloated. I would recommend this restaurant to vegans and non-vegans alike. While the food is healthy, it is also delicious. The presentation of the food was also top notch, with carefully placed berries on each plate, and even an edible flower perched on my french toast. I wish more restaurants offered brunch like this. I can’t wait to go back to Live!