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Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Tips for Eating Healthier this Summer

In Food on May 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

I’ve made great strides in eating healthier (and actually cooking!) since my time as a very broke university student. These days, my diet includes very little processed foods, primarily local/seasonal fruits and vegetables, and local/ethically-raised meat—a big step up from the frozen pizzas and take-out that I once relied so heavily on. Summer is my favourite season for cooking because its plentiful bounty and beautiful weather makes healthy eating much easier. (Also: BBQs. SO MANY BBQs.) So with that in mind, here are some tips on eating healthier during the warmer months.

Eat Local, Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Good things grow in Ontario (or, really, wherever it is you call home)! And the best things grow in the summer. Asparagus, beans, sweet corn, broccoli, peppers, spinach, berries, peaches, and tomatoes are all plentiful during the warmer months—which means they’re also at their cheapest. With so many delicious fruits and vegetables available this time of year, there’s no excuse not to shop local. Check out the Foodland Ontario Availability Guide to find out what’s available and when in Ontario. When it comes to pesticides, the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Dirty Dozen List is a helpful guide on which fruits and vegetables should be bought organic and which are safe to buy conventional.

Start a Backyard or Balcony Garden

Eating locally is a cinch when local = your backyard or balcony! Not to mention the convenience of having a vegetable garden just outside your door. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplant, and leafy greens are great plants for balconies and beginners. If you want to get creative with your garden, Apartment Therapy has some wonderful solutions.

Shop at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are a great way to shop for local, seasonal fruits and vegetables—not to mention one of the best ways to spend an afternoon! It’s important to know where your food is coming from, and farmers’ markets allow you to meet and chat with the people who grow and harvest it. It’s also a great opportunity to find food that you may not be able to at your local grocery store. Check out Farmers’ Markets Ontario for a list of markets happening across the province.

Cut Back on Genetically Modified Foods

Do a quick Google search of genetically modified foods (re: Monsanto) and you’ll discover some disturbing facts about our food system. What’s even scarier is that GMOs don’t require labeling in Canada, making it difficult to know exactly what you’re consuming. When it comes to GMOs, corn (field corn, not sweet corn), canola, and soy are the biggest culprits, and while avoiding them seems like an impossible task, it’s a task worth attempting. Eliminating processed foods from your diet (or at least cutting back on them) and buying organic are good first steps to avoiding GMOs. Though you won’t find the words “genetically modified” listed in product ingredients, if you see corn, soy, or canola, it’s safe to assume that product contains GMOs. Make a habit of checking labels for these ingredients—you’ll be surprised at just how prevalent they are.

Eat Better Meat and Less of It

I’m of the mentality that if you eat meat, it’s a good idea to eat meat that is raised ethically and locally because it’s better for the animal, the environment, and you. I also understand that buying local, organic and/or ethically-raised meat is expensive and not everyone can do it. But if you’re committed to eating better meat, there are ways to do it without breaking the bank.

  • Eat less meat and more vegetables. If you’re willing to pay more for meat, cutting back on your consumption can help make up the cost. Try out vegetarian versions of your favourite meat dishes and chances are, you’ll enjoy it just as much as the original. Websites like The Kitchn and Bon Appetit are great resources for recipes.
  • Learn how to butcher a whole chicken at home. It’s not as difficult as you would think and it will save you so much money! There are many how-to videos available on YouTube and butcher shops like The Healthy Butcher offer seminars and classes on learning the craft. If you’re not into home butchery, most butchers will happily cut up a chicken into parts for you for the same price as a whole bird. You can then freeze the parts for meals throughout the week.
  • Try out new cuts. Eating snout to tail may not be for everyone, but oftentimes, lesser-known and less-desired cuts of meat are just as tasty as (and much cheaper than) popular ones. If you’re adventurous, beef heart, tongue, and cheek are worth trying, and are all surprisingly delicious when cooked properly. For the more conventional, try beef flat iron steak, skirt steak, and pork shoulder (pulled pork!).

* Published on May 30, 2013 at She Does the City

The Killers take us back in time at the ACC

In Concert Reviews, Music on May 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

There are certain bands that came along at a very influential time in your life (your teenage years, most likely) that will forever hold a special place in your heart. The Killers are one of those bands for me.

I was 17-years-old when Hot Fuss came out and it changed everything for me. Up until that point, I was either listening to classic rock that my dad had introduced me to (the good) or emo (the bad). Then the Killers and their cohorts came along in a sort of indie revolution and I had all this new music to call my own. I can still remember driving with friends to the mall to buy Hot Fuss on CD and then blasting “All These Things That I’ve Done” as we drove home.

On Wednesday, the Killers played the Air Canada Centre in what was both a nod to their new album, Battle Born, and the songs that got them there – which meant that I got to relive 2004 in all its glory. The band opened the show (which had been rescheduled from a December date due to Brandon Flowers’ laryngitis) with “Mr. Brightside” and the house lights still on, bringing every person in the ACC to their feet. (Which meant it was nothing like their performance on The O.C. Remember this?) The rest of their hour-and-a-half show was played with the lights down (save for a few fireworks) and included songs from across all four of their albums plus covers of “Shadowplay” by Joy Division (one of the best I’ve heard), “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells, and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” by Bruce Cockburn.

The crowd favourites were the ones you would expect – “Smile Like You Mean It”, “Somebody Told Me”, “All These Things That I’ve Done”, and the encore of “When You Were Young” – but people were on their feet and singing along for every song. The band was obviously enjoying themselves and does arena rock well; Flowers as the charismatic frontman working the crowd while the rest of the band rocks out. Lines that resonated with me some eight years ago (“I got soul, but I’m not a soldier”) still do and when they’re accompanied by falling glitter, well, it’s a good night.

* Published on May 16, 2013 at She Does the City

We talk to Lovelife’s Lee Newell before the UK/NYC band plays Toronto

In Interview, Music on May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

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“Essentially, we’re a pop band. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a dirty word,” Lee Newell says through the phone from a parking lot somewhere in Boston. He is talking, of course, about his band Lovelife, who are currently touring across North America with Capital Cities and Gold Fields before joining The Neighbourhood.

Hailing from London, England, Newell and bandmate Ally Young (previously of Mirrors) moved to New York City last year to carve out a name for themselves. With their current tour in full swing and a recent appearance at SXSW, Lovelife is doing exactly that.

“We saved up what we had; the scraps from the sofa,” Newell says of the relocation. “It turned out to be the best thing we could have done.”

Lovelife chose NYC because of its vastness, but amidst the much-needed isolation, they also found new friends and a music scene much bigger than the one back home in the UK. “Everything is bigger in America,” Newell laughs. “The quality of the smaller up-and-coming bands is a lot better.”

Before forming Lovelife, Newell was a part of a somewhat up-and-coming band himself: Viva Brother, who received plenty of press both before and after their split in 2012. “It’s a natural thing; you shed your skin every so often,” he says of his evolution since then. Current bandmate Young was the catalyst for that evolution, for which he’s very grateful.

While Viva Brother was pure indie rock, Lovelife isn’t as easily defined. Synth-pop is what their music is commonly referred to as, but there’s certainly some R&B in there, too. Their lyrics often centre around failed relationships and a lack of love life—not unlike The Smiths who, along with ’90s pop music, Newell lists as influences. (He credits the latter—both “the really good songs and the horrible, horrible shit”—to growing up with Top 40-loving parents.) As for their musical process, Newell says that it varies song-to-song. The popular “Your New Beloved”, for example, was written in their Brooklyn apartment (while Hurricane Sandy was raging outside, no less) as a sort-of afternoon throwaway song.

Lovelife will be releasing their new EP Stateless next month which, as they’ve done with their previous EPs, is named after the place it was written – in this case, across several different states and continents over the past four months. (Their previous EP 4th Floor was written in their fourth floor apartment while El Regreso’s origin is in Brooklyn.)

“A platinum-selling, number one,” Newell jokes when I ask him what we can expect from the new EP. But with hype building and his band’s first full-length album on the horizon, he might not be far off.

Lovelife play the Virgin Mobile Mod Club next Monday, May 13 ($16 tickets are still available both online and at the door).

* Published on May 10, 2013 at She Does the City

5 Movies to Watch With Mom This Mother’s Day

In Arts, Life Stories on May 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

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For some serious mother-daughter bonding time this Mother’s Day, throw on one (or all five) of these movies!

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
This is hands-down my favourite mother-daughter movie! Ellen Burstyn and Sandra Bullock star as mother and daughter (respectively) who learn to overcome years of tension and distance with the help of Vivi Walker’s (Burstyn) eccentric childhood friends, the Ya-Yas. The movie is a bit of a tearjerker at times, and will definitely make you appreciate your mom so much more after watching it. (Bonus: it’s set in the beautiful bayou of Louisiana and features lovely southern accents.)

Stepmom
I watched this movie religiously during my tween years (and just realized that I haven’t watched it years so I’m totally digging it out this weekend). It tells the story of divorced couple Jackie and Luke Harrison (Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris) who are struggling to provide their children with a sense of normalcy following this big change. Jackie and the kids must also deal with Luke’s new, younger fashion photographer girlfriend Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Jackie’s terminal lymphoma. Amidst all the sadness, the family is able to bond and find peace with one another before Jackie’s death.

Little Women
I’m partial to the 1994 version but the 1933, 1949, and 1978 versions are all just as good. Like in Stepmom, Susan Sarandon plays the mother, so I think we can all agree that she’s one of the best on-screen moms ever. Based on the Louisa May Alcott novel of the same name, the film tells the story of the March sisters—Meg (Trini Alvarado), Jo (Winona Ryder), Beth (Claire Danes), and Amy (Kirsten Dunst)—growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during the American Civil War. With their father away fighting, the girls must rely on their mother for guidance as they deal with the struggles of becoming women.

Where The Heart Is
I love, love, love this movie. I can’t explain why, but I do. The movie starts with a pregnant, 17-year-old Novalee Nation being abandoned at Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma by her boyfriend. For six weeks, she secretly lives in the store before giving birth to her daughter Americus. While in the hospital, she befriends nurse Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd)—a single mother with four children by three different men—whose struggles are also chronicled throughout the movie. Novalee moves in with Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), a woman she previously met at Wal-Mart who becomes a sort of mother figure for her (her own mother abandoned her as a child). The movie ends with Novalee finding love and returning to the same Oklahoma Wal-Mart to get married.

Terms of Endearment
This movie may be from 1983, but it’s just as a relevant now as it was then. It covers 30 years of the mother-daughter relationship between Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma Greenway (Debra Winger) which, naturally, isn’t all smooth sailing. Aurora finds herself falling for ex-astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) while her free-spirited daughter struggles with a rocky marriage, an affair, and terminal cancer. Make sure you have lots of tissues on hand.

* Published on May 7, 2013 at She Does the City