Summer always seems to hurry past. I try to stretch out the sunshine by sauntering around my city and exploring the festivals, concerts and events that it has to offer. Toronto comes alive when patio season starts. Tourists are taking picture in my front yard (okay it is also the CN Tower’s front yard), City Chasers are running around in red shirts and I’m holding onto every last, humid soaked second. Please summer, stay awhile.
With so much to enjoy outside, I feel less tempted to spend hours preparing complex meals in my kitchen (especially with the heat we’ve enjoyed this year). I’m not one for “fast food” but simple meals that can be made in mere moments are certainly central to my productivity. Alan Roettinger’s Speed Vegan hit the shelves a few months ago and hasn’t really received the hoop-la it deserves. Alan presented at Vegetarian Summerfest this year. I wasn’t able to attend his demo but jae raved about Alan’s food philosophy and his recipes. When I returned from Johnstown I took sometime to play with the creations in the salad chapter of Speed Vegan. I enjoyed:
The recipes in Speed Vegan are definitely fast and provide fabulously rich, vibrant flavours but sometimes, this vegan finds herself far from home and in desperate need of sustenance. I’m very lucky that Toronto’s restaurant scene continues to boast more and more veg-friendly eateries. A recent addition is Cruda Cafe. It is located in the lower level of the St Lawrence Market (South Building), a historic landmark in the city. Although the space is limited, Claudia and her crew create magic with raw, vegan ingredients. Last weekend I was wandering the market with my friend Nicole and we picked up a beautiful Market Salad. This combination of fresh figs, sprouts, greens, goji berries and edible flowers was incredible. The richness of the avocado made it a very filling meal.
On the rare occasion when I find myself at work without a packed lunch (like when one of my pregnant friends cancels our date due to humidity!) there is a lovely little salad place where you can create your own four topping combo for just $4.99. I picked beets, broccoli, avocado and asparagus on top of spinach and mesclun greens with a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette. For a plan-B meal, this was an A+.
On the topic of speed, I’m currently training for the Toronto Scotiabank half-marathon on September 26th as a part of the Toronto Vegetarian Team (if you feel like sponsoring us click here). To help with my motivation I decided to set a time goal for the first time. I’ve been increasing my speed interval training and trying to push the intensity in more of my weekly work-outs. With the heat and humidity in Toronto this has proven to be a difficult task. But I soldier on in the hopes that when things cool-off in September I will have increased my strength and endurance to zoom through the 21.1 km.
I’ve done a few races now and always feel a huge amount of gratitude for the volunteers who make those events not only possible but a wonderful experience. When I heard that there was a triathlon happening on Toronto Island this weekend I decided to volunteer, to give-back to a community that has supported me and to learn a little more about multi-sport competition. Today was there were 400 completing the try a tri and tomorrow we expect 600 to participate in the sprint distance.
The race took place on Toronto Island so I set my alarm for 4:30 am and spent twenty minutes making my way to the Ferry dock to meet my ride. You meet some interesting characters in the pre-dawn hours in this metropolis.
After helping to unload the trailer, I handed out t-shirts for a few hours. Everyone seemed pretty excited to participate in their first triathlon. There were some obvious nerves but generally the athletes just wanted to get into the water.
I took a quick look at the transition area to see how all the different athletes set up their spots.
Once the first waves were in the lake I ran over to the water station so I could hand out drinks along the run coarse. I loved this position most of all. I was able to cheer everyone on and encourage those who needed a smile and a few inspiring words. I even got to run a short distance with an amazing first-time triathlete who was competing alongside her daughter. That made my day.
Once the last competitor had completed the route I headed back over to help dole out the post-race nourishment. We cut-up lots of fruit and there were salads and bagels (for the non-vegans). Funny aside, I actual saw one of my vegan friends in the race. It was great to see that he was competing in a shirt that proudly displayed his “plant-powered” status.
I waited along with all the athletes, their friends and family to board a ferry back to the main-land. It took about an hour before I final managed to get a spot. Once the ship left the dock I felt really happy. It is always nice to get a new perspective on your home (and your life).