3 Restaurants in Winnipeg That Make Cutting Meat Out of your Diet Easy : Part Three

Today marks 29 days meat free! It has been surprisingly easy for me to stay faithful to this lifestyle. I was afraid that when I went on my cruise last week (which I will be writing a post about this week), that I would have no options and would be tempted with all the food around me. Everyday we ate buffet style for pretty much every meal so there were always lots of vegetarian options for me to enjoy. The day before I left for my trip, Pascal, his parents and I, went to a restaurant that was actually recommended to me by a fellow blogger, kiracanadiangirl. It is Taiwanese-Chinese vegetarian restaurant called Affinity Garden.

About Affinity Garden

Affinity Garden was unlike any vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been too. I find that all too often, vegetarian restaurants just offer salads and veggie burgers. Not Affinity Garden. They offer all your favourite Chinese style foods, just as a veggie option. They have been in downtown Winnipeg since May of 2001 and I’m surprised I haven’t heard of them sooner. They guarantee that all their products are MSG free, they only use purified water, and they pride themselves in their great tea that is specially delivered from Taiwan.

Green Tea

The Menu

There were so many options to choose from, the only problem was that we had no idea what anything was. So we decided the best way to get to try a little bit of everything was to buy the dinner for four and share. It said dinner for four but honestly with the amount of food brought to the table, we easily could have fed 5 or 6. First they start you off with a soup, either hot & sour or wonton (we all chose wonton). After that they start bringing all the dishes to the table, one by one and spread out in time to give you a chance to finish what your eating and to make room on the table for more. The combo we got included spring rolls, garden special chow mein, sweet & sour soyapork, colorful bean curd layers, assorted mushrooms with seasonal greens, and white rice. My personal favourite was the sweet & sour soyapork, although no one else seemed to overly enjoy it. As you can guess from the name, it’s a vegetarian version of sweet and sour pork. The sauce was phenomenal and the added sweet bell peppers made a nice touch. We also ordered a side of both steamed dumplings and pan-fried dumplings. They were probably my second favourite thing we had for supper (I enjoyed the pan fried ones slightly more than the steamed).  For dessert, we were each served a green tea jello that was surprisingly tasty (we also ordered green tea to drink with our meal, equally as tasty).

The Atmosphere

Affinity Garden was EXTREMELY quiet for a restaurant. There was one other family there when we were there and there was no music playing so it felt like everyone could hear everything you were saying. I really enjoyed the artwork on the walls though and the staff were very friendly. When we were paying for our bill, we all took some candy from their candy dish and then the lady who runs the place went through her bag of candies to find us her favourite one that she wanted us to try (very sweet lady).

art

Although the food was anything too special or out of this world, it was definitely nice to see a different take on vegetarian options. I suggest everyone trying it at least once, if nothing more than for the experience (please try the sweet & sour soyapork and tell me I’m not the only one who loved it). If anyone has anymore vegetarian restaurant options, I would love to hear them! Or if you have any of your own recipes that you wouldn’t mind sharing, drop them below. Thanks for reading, I can’t wait to share my cruise experience with you all!

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3 Restaurants in Winnipeg That Make Cutting Meat Out of Your Diet Easy : Part Two

Last week I shared my experience about trying to cut meat out of my diet. I decided that I would share the journey with you by sharing three restaurants that I tried that would make it easy to drop meat from your diet. On Easter Monday Pascal and I went to Stella’s, the Provencher Blvd location to see what their veggie selection looked like.

About Stella’s

Stella’s has been around since 1999, with the first location opening up in Osborne Village. They pride themselves on offering quality simple, healthy food choices. They bake all their own breads and focus on soups, salads and sandwiches. Two of the original four founders still own the company. They currently have 8 locations, all in Winnipeg, with plans to continue expanding.

reading menu

The Menu

I decided to try something completely new to me, ratatouille. I’m going to be honest, I always thought ratatouille was some kind of creamy pasta. I was pleasantly surprised. It consisted of oven roasted zucchini, eggplant, tomato, peppers, onion, garlic and fresh herbs all served over quinoa. Drizzled over top was a balsamic reduction (my favorite type of reduction). It was AMAZING! I will definitely be going back to have it again. For my side I had a potato salad, but it was nothing special in comparison to my main dish. Pascal tried the grilled vegetable sandwich and had a side caesar salad. He really liked how fresh and nicely roasted everything in the sandwich tasted. He also tried the “Go Green” smoothie, which I helped myself to as well. I’m usually not a fan of green smoothies but the greens didn’t overpower the taste in this smoothie. I will be buying one for myself next time I return as well.

The Atmosphere

My favorite things about this Stella’s location is their outside sitting area. Although it was much too cold to sit outside this time, summer is fast approaching and I can’t wait to enjoy some Stella’s breakfast outside in the sunshine. There is also a lot of sitting room inside which is great as the waiting list fills up quickly on the weekends. They are usually pretty good with moving everyone along and we have never had to wait too long for a table. All the hosts and servers are always so friendly, great service for sure.

Although Stella’s isn’t a strictly vegetarian restaurant, they have lots vegetarian friendly options. They even mark their vegetarian options with a green “v” on the menu to help you when choosing.

This Saturday I will be trying restaurant #3 and will try to have the blog post up before I leave for my cruise on Sunday. If you have any more suggestions for restaurants to try, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

5 Thing to do in Winnipeg in the Winter : Part Four

I know, I know. I said I was going to get better at giving myself time to write but it’s been a month. Life got crazy busy, between me studying and also planning a baby shower for my friend. But no more excuses! I enjoy writing so I need to give myself more time to do the things I enjoy. I know that winter is technically over already, but let’s be honest. It still feels like winter in Winnipeg and probably will for a while. While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, why not try a new recipe.

Savory Ricotta Scones
Fresh out of the oven.

Recently I became interested in baking my own scones. It went really well the first time so I’ve just continued to collect scone recipes from Pinterest and test them out. The first one I made was a toffee and chocolate scone and the second was a jalapeno and cheddar scone. The one I’m going to be talking about today is the last one I tried making, savoury ricotta scones.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 3/4 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter (cut into tiny cubes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup of milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 egg beaten with a teaspoon of water (for egg wash)
  • black pepper and paprika for topping

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  3. Add the butter. The recipe suggested using a pastry blender but I don’t own one of those yet so I used 2 knives instead and just chopped around until the mixture was coarse. The knives worked just fine!
  4. Stir in green onions and ricotta cheese.
  5. Add milk and stir until a shaggy dough forms.
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a ball.
  7. Once all combined, pat down ball into a 1 inch thick circle and cut in 8 triangles.
  8. Carefully transfer triangles onto ungreased cookie sheet, making sure you leave a bit of space between each one.
  9. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with black pepper and paprika. (I almost forgot this very important step!)
  10. Bake 15-20 minutes or until scones are golden brown and puffy.
  11. Remove from oven. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. (This is the hardest part for me as I just want to eat them right away.)

Pinterest is a great place to get inspired to try new recipes! The link for this recipe is http://www.girlversusdough.com/2013/02/14/savory-ricotta-scallion-scones/ .

Scones are a lot easier to make than I thought they would be and there is so many variations you can do. Pretty much anything can be added to a scone, both sweet or savoury. I think the next one I want to try is a salted caramel and apple scone. If you try this recipe or have other scone recipes that you think I should try, leave me a comment and let me know!

 

 

5 Things to do in Winnipeg in the Winter : Part Three

Living in the city can be very exhausting, both mentally and physically. It always feels like everyone is in a rush to get somewhere. I am very much a small town girl so my next suggestion for the winter is to leave the city and enjoy the great outdoors. I did this by learning how to ski and going on a ski trip.When you think Winnipeg and Manitoba, you picture the boring, flat prairies. And although Manitoba is flat for the most part, there is some valleys and hills that make for a change of scenery and a great start if you’re a beginner at skiing like me.

skis at springhill

Learning the Basics at Springhill:

I had been skiing twice before this year and the most recent time was 6 years ago. From my memory of skiing, it didn’t go too well. I remember having 1 instructor trying to teach 20 plus of us the basic. I lasted about 2 or 3 tries down the bunny hill both times and then ditched skiing to go hang out with my friends inside for the rest of the day. This time though, I was determined and motivated to learn. I booked a one on one lesson at Springhill which is in Oakbank, right outside the perimeter. It really isn’t much of a ski hill, with just one ski lift and 3 slopes but it was perfect for me to learn how to go down the hill and not die (which was my ultimate goal). I went on a Sunday and it wasn’t too busy. My instructor was very friendly and patient with me, even when it took me a couple of minutes to grab onto the tug rope because I argued that it was moving way too fast (it really wasn’t). For the whole day at Springhill I paid $59 which included the 1 hour ski lesson, lift pass and ski rentals. It was extremely cold on the day that we went, so we didn’t stay too much longer after my lesson. I made it through the lesson without falling down so I was feeling pretty confident and ready to take on Asessippi the next weekend. If only I had known how many times I was about to fall down on day 1 of Asessippi.

ski lift

Asessippi ; Day One :

We stayed in a hotel in Russell, which is about 15 minutes outside of Asessippi. We arrived on Sunday evening and just spent the evening relaxing, preparing ourselves for our first day at the slopes. On Monday we headed there around 9:30am which is when the lifts open. It took us about an hour of waiting in line ups until we finally had all our equipment on and ready to go. There is one line up to pay, another line up for rentals and then another line up to get fitted for boots and skis. We all started off together doing the 2 of the easy trails. One of the easy trails however, was not so easy at the bottom. It got much steeper and I fell down every time I tried to do it. I tried doing the “pizza” technique to slow myself down but even that didn’t work and I ended up on my behind once again. I was getting more frustrated than I’d like to admit and was close to giving up within my first hour there. I was wearing my prescription glasses under my goggles, and my glasses were fogging up. I made the decision to ski with just my goggles on because I couldn’t see anything with my glasses fogging up. As long as I aimed for the white and avoided any other blobs of colors, I was fine. After that, I started to feel a lot better about skiing and enjoyed myself. Me and Julianne stayed together on the easy trails and let Pascal and Cole some of the harder ones, including some black diamonds. We stayed on the slopes until sometime around 3pm when we decided to head back to hotel and get some rest for the next day.

Asessippi ; Day Two

On Tuesday we avoided the line ups by paying for our ski rentals and lift passes the day before and just taking all our equipment back to the hotel with us Monday night. Highly recommend this if you are going to be renting for more than one day as it’ll save you a ton of time. We hit the slopes around 10am and Julianne and I stayed on the easy trails again but this time feeling a lot more confident than the day before. I did a couple different trails including one called “the plunge”. “The plunge” starts off really steep but you only go fast for about 5-10 seconds before slowing down on the flat part of the trail. It was really fun to experience and get used to the feeling of going faster. I downloaded a ski trekking app for Tuesday just for fun to see how fast I could go and how far we skied. My max speed was 31 km/hr and we skied a total of 10 km (2 1/2 hours). The best skier in our group went 69km/hr so I still have a long ways to go.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a black diamond skier but I’m willing to keep going back and learning. Who knows, maybe next winter I’ll end up in Banff. One thing that they don’t supply with the ski rentals is goggles so I recommend purchasing some before going or burrowing some from a friend like I did. They not only help with snow glare but help keep your face warm as well. You can also purchase anti-fogging ones, like these, which I would highly recommend as I found out skiing with fogged up glasses is not a fun time! Let me know in the comment section your skiing stories, your favorite ski hill and if you prefer skiing or snowboarding!

5 Things to do in Winnipeg in the Winter : Part Two

Last week I talked about something that you can do inside in the winter. Today’s post is going to be geared towards those of you who like to spend time outdoors and are also looking for ways to stay fit in the winter. My second recommendation ( & my favorite place in Winnipeg) is to visit “The Forks”.

 

 

ice castles

The Ice Castles:

The Forks is a great place to hang out anytime of the year and is personally my favorite place in all of Winnipeg. I’ve spent a lot of time at The Forks since I moved to Winnipeg in 2014, both in the Winter and Summer. The thing that made this Winter different than others was the addition of the ice castles. Me and Pascal were doing respite last month with two individuals (one who loves the movie “Frozen”) and we asked their caregiver if we could take them to the ice castles. We both really wanted to go and thought they would enjoy it as well. She thought it was a great idea so put on all our Winter gear (I recommend not going when its -30), and off we went. During the daytime on the weekends the have Elsa and Anna from “Frozen” there to greet you. The girl with us loved getting to meet them and even got to get her photo with them. I highly recommend going during the day on Saturday or Sunday between 1-4:30pm if you have kids (or you yourself) that love “Frozen”. Once inside, you are on your own, free to explore. There are lots of picture taking opportunities inside as well if you’re looking for the perfect Winter backdrop. Unfortunately I only took one picture that didn’t have the kids in it as this day was about them. Inside the ice castle there is 2 ice slides that you can ride. They provide you with a crazy carpet at the top to sit on. It’s a short slide but you can ride it as many times as you want. Once you’re in the castle you can stay as long as you want that day but once you leave you can’t re-enter. The ice castle is a really cool concept, especially when you think about all the work that went into building it. I would love to go back at night as they have fire performances Fridays and Saturdays, 7-10pm and the castle is lit up with multi-colored lights. I would also recommend buying your tickets online as you save $4.05 general admission and $3.05 for child 4-11 (0-3 is free). If you buy online, you don’t have to wait in line to buy there which is another added bonus! I would love to hear your experience if you went at night, leave a comment below!

trail conditions

The Red River Mutual Trail:

A few weeks later, me and Pascal decided to go back to The Forks and skate the river. We both are fairly good skaters but if you’re not and you want to learn, The Forks is a great place to do so. They have red chairs on the river that your can use to help you skate or you can rent something similar inside The Forks at Iceland (they also do skate rentals if you don’t own any or just aren’t ready to commit to buying any before learning). When you enter the trail from the dockside, you can either go left and skate on the Red River or go right and skate on the Assiniboine River. We decided to go left. Along the trail there are markers for when you hit each kilometer. I found this really motivating to see how far I skated in such a short amount of time. The complete trail is 3km each way meaning we skated 6km total. It was a great workout and alot more fun than being at the gym. It was extremely cold when we went so there wasn’t as many skaters on the trail as usual. Also, the trail wasn’t in the best condition but we managed to not fall down once (but it’s fine if you do, it’s all part of learning!)

 

The Warming Huts:

One of my favorite parts of skating at The Forks is getting to see the new warming huts each year. The warming huts started in 2009 and is a competition that welcomes designers around the world to summit their creations and than those selected come to Winnipeg and construct their art. Once completed they get put on display on the river for skaters and walkers to interact with or go inside to warm up. My favorite that was on display this year (I’m not sure if it was from this year’s competition or a previous year) was the bubble beach.

If you don’t like spending time outside in the winter, The Forks is still a great place to visit with lots to do inside. There is many unique local shops with a wide range of products (all of which are pretty cool). Also, with them now having “The Commons” you can stay inside, have a bite to eat and grab a drink. There are so many different types of restaurants inside, you’ll never get tired of eating there. So go ahead and try something new, whether it be learning how to skate or trying a new beer at The Commons. I would love to hear about your favorite things to do at The Forks and your favorite place to eat while there. Leave me a comment!

BONUS: Teeyah’s

I decided I’m going to throw in a bonus place to try in Winnipeg because we went there after visiting The Forks as it’s close by and I only recently discovered them. It’s a candy shop located on Graham Avenue. They’ve only been open about a year and only recently started selling ice cream as well. The make unique themed ice cream cones called “lengenDAIRY” cones. I ordered one and told her she could do whatever she wanted with it. For $10.50 I got 3 scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone, another cone on top of that, cotton candy, 3 lollipops, and lots of small candies on top. Definitely worth checking them out if you love ice cream as much as me. Who says ice cream should only be enjoyed in the Summer? Leave a comment and let me know what you think of them!

5 Things to do in Winnipeg in the Winter : Part One

I am constantly hearing people say that there is nothing to do in the winter. That is far from the truth, especially in Winnipeg! Although our winters may feel unbearable most days, there are lots of things to do inside during the colder days and adventures to be had outside during the slightly warmer days. I decided to do a 5 part series, with each post focusing on something I took the time to try. First up, try a local restaurant you’ve never tried before.

glass

The Restaurant :

Pascal decided to surprise me and just drive to a restaurant. Since I still do not know the layout of the city very good, I had no idea where we were. He picked “The Merchant Kitchen”. He had been there once before when they were still fairly new and remembered them having exceptional fried chicken. “The Merchant Kitchen” is located  downtown Winnipeg. Their food is inspired by cities and countries across the globe and is served family style, which was a great way to get to taste a couple different dishes.

The Food & Drinks:

When choosing a drink, I had some troubles because all the drinks were so new and different to me. I asked the server for a recommendation for something fruity and he suggested the “Kamakura”. The “Kamakura” consists of belvedere vodka, junmai sake, agave, mango, fresh lemon, and rose. It wasn’t as fruity as I was hoping for but delicious nonetheless. We then decided to start off with some yuca fries. If you’re like me and have no idea what yuca is, it is the edible starchy root of a woody shrub called “Manihot Esculenta”. The fries were kind of plain but they were served with a tasty spicy asian ketchup that had just the right amount of zing. Seeing that the fried chicken is the reason that brought us there, we decided to get a half order and also try the spicy thai fried rice. The order of fried chicken came with 5 chicken thighs and was served with a side of soy syrup and garlic chilli sauce for dipping. The chicken alone was phenomenal but paired with the sauces it just made it that much better. As for the rice, it tasted a little burnt but was still enjoyable. It wasn’t overly spicy and the shrimp and egg mixed into it made for a perfect pair.

The Service:

We were seated very quickly and got a seat by the window so I could people watch (yes I’m that person). The server was very quick with coming to greet us and take our orders and was very laid back in a friendly way. He made sure that we were satisfied and taken care of. When we asked for suggestion or questions regarding the food he was very knowledgeable. You can tell that their staff take pride in their service. The restaurant also had tvs over the bar playing sports so if people watching isn’t your thing you could catch up on the current game. Overall it was a great experience and we would definitely dine there again. I also just started following their instagram account (@themerchantkitchen) and saw that they are participating in Winnipeg’s fried chicken week until January 28. They are featuring their Korean fried chicken in a chicken bowl and it look AMAZING so if you’re interested in trying their food, now is a great time!

drinks
Kamakura

I would love to hear everyone’s local restaurant recommendations and what your favorite thing on the menu is. Also, if you happen to try “The Merchant Kitchen” fried chicken bowl for fried chicken week, please let me know if it’s as good as it looks!