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Samantha Osaduke

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Prince Edward County Wine Tour with the iYellow Wine Club

On July 7th, I joined iYellow Wine Club for their Summer Wine Escapes: Prince Edward County Wine Tour to Casa Dea Estates, Huff Estates and Karlo Estates. Due to inclement weather, the planned Beach Day at Sandbanks Provincial Park was omitted and promptly replaced with Casa Dea Estates. I was impressed by their ability to adapt to the weather conditions.

The group met at a Starbucks downtown and left Toronto at 9:30 am on the luxury coach. Everyone was given a bag with snacks, water, Wine County information and a Wine Tour Map. There were washroom stops planned. There were six new people including myself who had never been to the iYellow Wine Club before and one woman who has been since 2005. Angela Aiello, the Founder of iYellow Wine Club planned an informative Wine County talk for the group of 21. She was very knowledgeable. I learned that the wine’s colour comes from the contact with the skins. I also learned that too much rain dilutes the wine and every cluster of grapes produces one bottle. Prince Edward County is known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir since the producers are putting a lot of money into their premium wines. The wineries are spread out so you have to be willing to drive around.

The group arrived in the quaint Prince Edward County at Casa Dea Estates, the largest winery which had a country feel. The group sampled the 2010 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir before going into the cellar. I really liked the Pinot Gris and that Casa Dea Estates gave a pamphlet where I could checkmark the wines I tried. Angela was very knowledgeable and asked interesting questions at the wineries. Our group had lunch which consisted of salad with balsamic dressing, bread with olive oil and balsamic, pasta with tomato sauce, and red or white wine followed by coffee. I decided to have the 2009 Riesling, but the 2010 Gamay was also offered. The lunch at Cucina Italiana was delicious and provided a good base for the rest of the day. Casa Dea Estates has a gorgeous wedding area.

On the way to the Huff Estates, Angela served iYellow Cabernet Merlot on the bus and had the first of two giveaways for two wine glasses. Huff Estates has their own guest rooms if you want to stay overnight. I tried the 2007 Cuveé Peter F. Huff Sparkling, 2010 South Bay Vineyards Rosé, 2010 Cuveé Janine Sparkling Rosé, and my personal favorite, the 2010 South Bay Vineyards Merlot which was oaked. I had never tried red wine until this wine tour. They also had an indoor and outdoor Oeno art gallery which I enjoyed.

The last winery was Karlo Estates. Angela Aiello said that they are “the most innovative winery in Ontario”. The group tried Pinot Gris paired with olive, Chardonnay Choa with chips, Lake On The Mountain Riesling with cheese, Frontenac Gris Rosé with spicy sausage, Pinot Noir with tamari covered almonds, Cabernet Franc with asiago, Merlot with brie, Quintus with Balderson cheddar, Petit Verdot, White Port with pecan, and Red Port with walnut. My favorites included Chardonnay Choa which was smooth like butter, Merlot, White Port, and Red Port which I had two glasses since I liked it so much.

Overall, I had an amazing day at three great wineries which were very distinct and I learned a lot. Don’t worry if you’re not a wine aficionado, they will teach you the steps to drinking wine and it’s very approachable. Casa Dea Estates had a casual country atmosphere, Huff Estates was very modern, and Karlo Estates was an upbeat barn. Angela ensured that everyone had a great time throughout the trip. The group arrived back in Toronto around 8:30 pm and a Hailo Cab voucher was provided.

They still have their Niagara Wine Country By Night to Jackson-Triggs, TBA, and Flat Rock Cellars on August 17 which will include a barbecue and campfire.

 

 

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Detoxify your body

This spring, I have decided to try a detox from May 13th to May 22nd. Not a vegetarian or vegan and always on the go, I look forward to cutting out some meat from my diet, but I think I will have the hardest time letting go of cheese.

Prior to my first detox, I was able to talk to a Certified and Registered Nutritionist (CNP, RNCP) who is overseeing the first BarreNourish Detox at Barreworks. At the moment they have just under 20 people who have signed up, but are expecting 10-20 more people.

“It is all online-based, other than picking up the detox kit, and the teleseminars are live and recorded for convenience,” she explains. “I kept the Barreworks client in mind. It isn’t too extreme and I don’t restrict on calories. They’re energizing foods with a restriction of foods that drain energy and all processed foods. There is an emphasis on the reset button. It’s about resetting your habits. There is cooking and buying healthy ingredients while thinking ahead on meal planning. “
They also decided not limit portion sizes. “Restricting portion sizes and calories is exhausting on a person’s body. I did a survey ahead of time and there was a concern that they would not being able to exercise,” she says.

In addition, she added substitutes for common food allergies. “Most are taken out including wheat and dairy, but nuts in a lot of meals. Ninety percent could be replaced with seeds. There are recommended suggestions and you can choose other meals. There are 15-16 recipes and I have provided 25. You can substitute for another recipe.”

Although this is a mild detox and all whole-food based, it is not without side effects. The largest is cravings as well as headaches, fatigue, bloating and skin eruptions that last a day. In order to prevent them, participants can use a dry brush, drink more water, go to an infrared sauna and exercise to increase the elimination.

The most common cravings include caffeine, sugar, wheat and meat, although meat is not usually a strong craving. “Healthy snacks, especially deliciously sweet dates and raw white chocolate, are good for sugar. It is important to increase portion sizes and eat enough to decrease cravings,” she says. “It is hardest during the first three to four days and then you feel amazing.”

My nutritionist assures me that there are numerous benefits. They include weight loss, clear skin and increased energy. You will be more focused and creative.

Join me as I go through the BarreNourish 10-Day Detox.  Visit again soon to hear about my experiences as I go through the detox process.

Book review: Where Chefs Eat

4/5 stars

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide To Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants is the ultimate foodie reference guidebook and is perfect for traveling. It is an easy read and very organized. You can read the book front to back or search a specific city. I prefer front to back since I discovered Morton’s The Steakhouse listed under Shanghai, but if you can’t travel, you can always find it in Toronto and use the recommendation.

The chefs are introduced with a brief biography and you are told the meaning of specific categories. For example, they define the budget for you. The chefs are well-known and established. They include Marcus Samuelsson, Daniel Boulud, Hugh Acheson, and many more. The book itself is divided by continent and a map is provided for each section. Every restaurant says who recommended it and they specify the area in the city for ease. In addition, they always provide the website and a reservation e-mail if it is needed. Each page contains a quote from the chef and mouth-watering food descriptions. The restaurants are not all well known and allow readers to discover hidden gems in their own city or abroad. Where Chefs Eat also comes with a yellow bookmark, which is a nice addition.

Although I was very impressed with this book, I wish that every restaurant had quotes from the chef and a brief description of the atmosphere, dishes and chefs. I feel that more detail would have improved the book.

Where Chefs Eat also has an iPhone and iPad app that was released in May. If you prefer to have your smartphone while traveling rather than carrying a book, this is a very practical idea. This is one of the few books that has an app.

Overall, I thought that this was a great book. At 643 pages, it is massive and features varied cuisine that is sure to fulfill any taste bud or craving while traveling. Instead of relying on internet reviews, the chefs have authority in the industry and recommend restaurants for any budget. They even include restaurants that the chefs wish they’d opened. This is the perfect travel companion for summer.

Getting fit by shaking my booty

I am not athletic, but I am trying to branch out. So I decided to try a fitness class and found myself at the Danforth Booty Camp Fitness.

“Working out should never be boring,” states Susan Chung, an Elite Drill Instructor at the fitness centre. Her workout approach is to have fun. “Without fun, there is no motivation or drive to keep moving.”

“For the most part, it’s all about having fun at camp and working towards similar fitness goals.  The recruits love getting their kick-booty sessions – a mix of cardio, high or low intensity muscle conditioning work with options for all levels of fitness, and HIIT (high intensity interval training). We get our sweat on,” says Chung.

Chung started the class with a light jog. I struggled with the rock climbing leg movement. They did leg lunges, which I really enjoyed, followed by burpies, which are sort of similar to jumping. In addition, we did the traditional sit ups, crunches and push-ups. The class also did Booty Camp Wars, which was really fun, and a series of leg exercises followed by ‘The Britney’, a leg and arm movement which is very hard to describe. Chung ended with some stretching to ease the muscle tension.

Chung was searching the Internet one day and was attracted to the website with the pink colours. “I thought that having an all women’s boot camp around the city was incredibly empowering. I’ve never seen that before,” she says. “To share the love of fitness and to share it with so many amazing women each day is gratifying. I am blessed.”

Overall, I found the class to be very supportive and personal. If you were slacking or doing something wrong, Chung or a peer would correct you, which was nice and a motivator. The workout itself was fun but intense and there were water breaks. Chung is also very flexible with the class times for her recruits.

One of the perks includes a healthy cookbook called Eat Right Made Simple, which the recruits adore. Kennedy has a blog with delicious recipes on her website, and she shares them on a weekly basis via social media. I tried the Banana Mousse, Barbecue Chicken, and Sunshine Rice, all of which were simple, tasty and guilt-free.

If you’re looking for a medium to high intensity workout with supportive women and a cookbook, Booty Camp Fitness may be right for you.

REVIEW: Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender

I heard about the Williams-Sonoma Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender in my Occupational Health & Safety class and I knew that I had to try it. It is the quietest blender in its class with a 7 year warranty. This blender makes sorbet, peanut butter, and butter from scratch. It can handle ice cubes for frozen daiquiris and boiling liquids such as soup.

The Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender is also a juicer. In addition, it can process cooked and raw meat for making patties and meatballs. The unique thing about this blender is that it only requires one blade to do all of these various things. All you have to do is change the settings and you never have to remove a blade or a part. It also has an easy cleaning process where it self-cleans for you by simply touching a button.

I couldn’t do a fair review without testing the Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender. The first thing I noticed was the that the seal is excellent and the motor is super strong. I made mango sorbet which had a good consistency and it was creamy. My smoothies have improved tremendously since using this blender. My morning smoothies were creamy and the ingredients were pulverized so there were no seeds.

I tried a variety of different fruits in my smoothies. I also decided to make citrus butter which was chunky, yet creamy. The citrus fruit was broken into small pieces for an added kick to the butter. Also, I made thai pumpkin soup. The soup was rich without any chunks and the consistency was good. All of these occurred in seconds. Lastly, I chopped an onion.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender. If you use your blender on a regular basis, it is a worthwhile investment. Although it is expensive, you’ll find yourself using this blender on a daily basis for sorbets and anything delicious that you make using a blender. This is a must have appliance for any kitchen.

 

 

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EdgeWalk: The experience of a lifetime

On June 24th, I had a once in a lifetime experience at the CN Tower EdgeWalk during its third season. As someone who loves heights, this was a dream come true. I have had several friends who have done EdgeWalk, but as someone from Toronto, I have never actually tried it.

My journey began at Basecamp where the group of six people had to wait for a passing storm before going on a walk at 356 metres high on the CN Tower’s main pod. You could tell that safety is the number one priority and you won’t be disappointed. I was excited and nervous, but was far more excited.

My first impression was that the view was spectacular and it was windy. It was more windy than I anticipated and it was humid when the EdgeWalk began. The cars down below resembled toys cars, although the buildings vary in height. Everyone in my group was very supportive of each other. My EdgeWalk guide Boris made us comfortable throughout the experience and he was funny. He was well-informed about Toronto and pointed out various landmarks including Billy Bishop Airport, Union Station, the AGO, CBC, Casa Loma, and the BMO building. The experience was enhanced by information about Toronto for both tourists and individuals who live in Toronto. I learned that Toronto has two gold buildings which actually contain some real gold. I even looked down on an airplane landing at the airport which was an interesting experience.

Of course, the EdgeWalk wasn’t complete without personal challenges. My group and I successfully completed ‘Toes in Toronto’, ‘Lean Forward’ and ‘Lean Back’. Boris demonstrated each of them and my group proceeded to take turns completing the various challenges. I was overly enthusiast and confident with ‘Toes in Toronto’. I was told to step back a bit when I placed my feet too far over the edge. ‘Lean Forward’ is reminiscent of the Titanic pose. I found ‘Lean Back’ to be the hardest and I had to readjust three times on my first try. It’s awkward sitting down with a harness, prior to standing up and leaning back. Although the sensation feels weird, it is the ideal pose for amazing photos.

During the half hour walk around the CN Tower, I gra0dually became more comfortable even though I trusted the equipment when I first began. Instead of relying on the harness, I walked hands free or with one hand. I wish the walk would have lasted longer since I could have walked around more, but I left feeling satisfied with this amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I would highly recommend CN Tower EdgeWalk to both tourists and anyone from Toronto. If you’re visiting Toronto, it is worth spending the money since you will never experience the largest tower walk again. If you’re from Toronto, you have to try EdgeWalk at least once. It is a brand new way to see your city and have an amazing experience. The view is incredible and the CN Tower staff are nice and professional. There is really no better way to live life on the edge.

REVIEW: Shakespeare’s Nigga


3.8/5 stars

Shakespeare’s Nigga is a modern, contemporary drama of Shakespeare by Joseph Jomo Pierre. The play features Othello, Aaron from Titus Andronicus, Tyrus who is an older slave, The Bard, and Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith on a Southern Plantain. The creator meets the iconic figures that he wrote and it is The Bard revamped. The play begins with the reader riveted into a dream.
I enjoyed the literary and script references that were used by the playwright. He effectively utilized the canon, plots, and Shakespeare’s famous sonnets in a unique way. He was successful in integrating some of Shakespeare’s stylistic features with ease while creating his own point of view. Similar to Shakespeare, there are monologues, sorcery, marriage and tragedy. He creates an ongoing tension throughout the play between Othello and Aaron. Othello is haunted by his former lover Desdemona.

The play had less detail than many plays I’ve read before with minimal setting and props. I understand that from Jomo Pierre’s perspective, it allows more creativity for the director to envision the play. Plays are ideally meant to be seen on a stage, rather than read for the full dramatic effect.

Although I understood the play and the context, I do believe that readers who have never read Othello or Titus Andronicus, may have some difficulty following the book. Readers will have a greater appreciation if they have read Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets prior to reading the contemporary version. They may not understand Aaron’s aggression or the reference to ‘The Dark Lady’. If they do understand, they may not grasp the references.

I really liked the new non-Shakespearian character, Tyrus, but I felt he was underutilized in the play. He has the most depth and provided advice to the other slaves. I wish he appeared in more scenes, especially in the beginning.

Of course, Jomo Pierre’s attempt is no comparison to The Bard himself, but he make a unique play with Shakespeare’s legacy. He was able to take compelling characters and place them in a new environment. If you are a Shakespeare fan, this play is worth a read. Shakespeare’s Niggaappeared at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace in Toronto this year.

Book review: The Happy Baker

4.6/5 stars

My first impression of The Happy Baker: A Dater’s Guide to Emotional Baking was that it was a very approachable book for a non-baker. Erin Bolger begins with a memorable disclaimer quote that states, “If any of my recipes are low-fat I’m sorry, it was unintentional.”

She has cute names for her baking recipes and beautiful photographs. Some recipe names include ‘Who Needs a Man on Valentine’s Day Biscotti’ and ‘You Can Kiss My Triple Decker Carrot Cake Goodbye’. The names certainly aren’t boring. Erin has separated her book into four distinct chapters. Throughout The Happy Baker, she has chick lit stories followed by a recipe that relates to the story. There are illustrations of her and her past dates or boyfriends relating to the story. The stories cover speed dating, breakups over text or e-mail, the first kiss, and many more. Erin’s personality shines through.

In order to fairly evaluate The Happy Baker, I had to get into the kitchen and bake. Her recipes are easy and most of the ingredients are found in your home (you may have to buy one or two ingredients). I decided to make ‘Erin’s Go-To Cookie’, ‘Goodbye Men, Hello Dolly Squares’ and ‘My Eggs Are Not Getting Any Younger Crème Brûlée’. Each of the recipes that I made provided me with a large quantity so the time and the effort are well worth it.

The crème brûlée was rich and creamy. The cookies and dolly squares were buttery and greasy, but delicious. They were so popular that when I opened the covered plate laying on the counter, they were all gone. I ended up eating some of the cookies and dolly squares from the freezer and they were just as good cold. Don’t hesitate to put some of Erin’s recipes in the freezer, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

I found that the recipes were simple, easy, decadent and, of course, delicious. The Happy Baker is killer comfort food. Erin was honest and upfront when she said these recipes were unhealthy. As a non-baker myself, I was able to bake recipes that I probably wouldn’t have ever made.

This is not your average cookbook since it is filled with unique stories and recipes. She has even provided a few non-bake recipes.

If you’re ever in Bayfield, Ontario be sure to check out Erin’s new business, The Pink Flamingo Bakery and Boutique.

Spring detox day 8-10

I found the last three days to be the hardest of the detox since the food was limited. There were some restaurant quality dishes including the red lentil coconut curry, lentil chickpea sunshine salad, chocolate avocado pudding, and the poppy seed dressing, which was the star of the kale salad with grapes, avocados and almonds. I found these recipes to be the most flavourful. I will start incorporating my own fruit smoothies into my daily breakfast routine.

On May 20th, I had tomato soup for brunch and red lentil coconut curry for dinner. Throughout the day, I had almond milk and coconut milk. I’ll admit that the holiday was hard since I was out of routine and I did give in to three tiny pieces of california roll sushi with soy sauce. Although I did cheat a bit, I didn’t feel too bad since I feel as though I was slowly easing back into my regular diet. It was more of a slow transition.

May 21st was my ninth day on the detox. I decided to make my own cherry and unsweetened cocoa powder smoothie for breakfast and I had the red lentil coconut curry for lunch. For dinner, I had lentil chickpea sunshine salad. During the day, I had rice milk and coconut milk. Prior to class, my friend offered me skittles and I had two since I couldn’t resist. This is much less than I normally would have eaten.

On the last day of the detox, May 22nd, I had tomato soup for brunch and curried quinoa with raisins for dinner. My dessert after dinner was chocolate avocado pudding. Throughout the day, I had coconut milk and almond milk. There was the last teleseminar where the nutritionist talked about “what’s next” and how to keep your eating habits serving you for the long term. I made my own peach smoothie for tomorrow morning.
As I end the detox, I need to start incorporating all of the foods have been eliminated back into my diet. I certainly won’t have a huge cheesy pizza and chocolate cake, but I want to gradually go back to my regular, healthy diet. I will continue using my favorite recipes from the detox and it was great with the abundance of vegetables in every meal. Thanks for joining me through my BarreNourish 10-Day Detox series.

Spring detox day 4-7

The past few days on the detox were a success. The Chlorella supplements are taken in conjunction with the smoothies and two tablets at night with lots of water. In addition, the nutritionist has incorporated early sleep, meditation, and exercise. A great way to incorporate exercise is to watch Youtube fitness videos. They’re free and you can make your own personalized workout daily for some variety.

Ideally, participants get up at 6 a.m. and they are in bed by 10 p.m. The timing is hard since I’m not a morning person, but I’m continuing to get eight hours of sleep or more. The day typically starts with a 10-minute meditation, but I try to do mine at night instead. In order to detoxify the body, it is necessary to exercise and use the dry brush. Participants are also encouraged to drink eight cups of water daily and mix flax seed into water at night. I admit that the lifestyle component has been harder than the food for me.

On Thursday, May 16th, my fourth day of the detox, I awake to a green-a-colada smoothie followed by curried quinoa for lunch. I fall slightly off the wagon and succumb to a veggie burger for dinner. I don’t think that’s too far off track and I’ll be back to my green smoothie tomorrow morning. Throughout the day, I have coconut milk, cinnamon apple tea, orange juice, detox tea, and chocolate avocado pudding. The pudding is rich and decadent.

On the fifth day, I have a classic green smoothie for breakfast and lentil chickpea sunshine salad. Dinner consists of sweet and sour stuffed peppers with cauliflower mashed potatoes. During the day, I have orange juice, honey lemon tea, chickpea snackers, coconut milk and almond milk. I come up with my own snack, banana dipped in almond butter. I also have my second teleseminar where the nutritionist talked about cravings, overeating, and how to start identifying your story and relationship with food.

During the sixth day, May 18th, I get creative and make my own strawberry banana smoothie before heading to Fresh for lunch where I have a nepalese split pea soup. I have california greens and white beans for dinner. My snacks and drinks consist of cashews, rice milk, and chocolate avocado pudding.

My seventh day of the detox, I have quinoa power porridge for brunch and the buddha barre bowl for dinner. I don’t like broccoli so I replace it with arugula instead. I also have chocolate avocado pudding, orange juice, almond milk, and bananas dipped in almond butter.

Visit again in a few days to hear about my experiences as I participate in the detox process.