Wellness

November always feels like a transitional month – from autumn to winter, from fallen leaves to snow, from Halloween to Christmas. Maybe it’s this feeling of transition and renewal that I’ve been focusing more on wellness this month. I’ve been exercising about five times a week, either going to the gym or attending a fitness class, reading more news articles, booking RMTs, listening to podcasts. There’s a lot of chatter about wellness nowadays – but really, in an age where you often don’t feel productive unless your calendar is booked from morning to night, it really is important to regularly take a step back to re-assess your own well-being.

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Here are some of the things that I’ve been doing in the theme of wellness

Hot Yoga

There is something about doing yoga in a sauna-like studio that I find calming – almost as though I’m sweating away all my stress and responsibilities.

Lavender (or other pleasant-smelling) creams

I recently bought a new cream from Lush called Sleepy, which is made of fresh ingredients including oatmeal infusion, almond oil, lavender water, and cocoa butter. I find the lavender smell extremely soothing, and the oatmeal components particularly beneficial for my dryer skin during this cold weather.

Mindful diet

I’m a firm believer that people should eat whatever makes them feel good without restriction, but at the same time, understanding and being aware of how their diet make them feel. For instance, I know that my body can’t take too much oil – if I eat too many fried foods in one day, I’ll become really tired or even nauseous. Focus your diet on foods that make you feel good and provide sustainable energy for the day.

Peppermint Tea

I started drinking peppermint tea because it was complimentary at my yoga studio, and found that the minty taste had a rather soothing effect on my state of mind and body. This is especially nice now that the weather has gotten much colder.

Re-focused wardrobe

I believe that feeling good stems from both the inside and the outside. If you feel good about the way you look, that in turn helps boost self-confidence, morale, and well-being. Spend time re-organizing your wardrobe, playing with different outfits, and shaping your personal style. I recently bought some fleece heat-tech turtlenecks at Uniqlo for $20 that are quite versatile (and warm!), as well as really good pair of high-waisted jeans (surprisingly, to be honest) at Brandy Melville for $50.

RMT (Massages)

Massages tend to be rather expensive, so I never did any until this year when I started working and was provided with insurance coverage for RMT. If your workplace has RMT coverage, USE IT! I know way too many people who don’t utilize their benefits enough. My favourite places in Toronto so far are H20 Float and Hot Stone at Step Up clinic. I like booking massages on Friday evenings as a way to de-stress at the end of a long week, or on Sunday evenings as a refresher for the week ahead.

Running

I never used to like running. When I was at school, I always found going to the gym a chore rather than something I actually wanted to do. However, now that I’ve started working and am sitting in a chair most of the day, I find myself wanting to go for a run after (or before) work. Even after a long day when I feel mentally exhausted, I find it surprisingly de-stressing to go for a run while jamming to some vigorous music.

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Dine LA at Erven

I used to love Toronto’s Winterlicious and Summerlicious, two culinary events where restaurants across the city offer a fixed price menu for a limited period of time, with prices ranging from $15-25 for lunch and $25-45 for dinner. I remember back in high school, my friends and I even had lunch at the CN Tower for $25 (lift included) during Winterlicious, an experience typically worth at least double that amount. Over the years, however, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with these culinary events. Rather than featuring their best dishes from their usual menus, restaurants started creating lower quality menus just for Winterlicious/Summerlicious. Portions seemed smaller and the ingredients of lower quality; my overall excitement for these annual events hence diminished.

That’s why when I heard about Dine LA, a similar event in Los Angeles where restaurants across the city offer fixed price menus for a limit\ed two-week period, I was skeptical. I skimmed Eater’s list of “Best Dine LA Dinner Restaurants” and found one, however, that I was quite interested in trying. Erven Restaurant in Santa Monica used to be a strictly vegan restaurant until just recently, when it added a few meat and dairy products to its menu.

I was also impressed that unlike most restaurants during Toronto’s Summerlicious, Erven’s menu for Dine LA featured items on its regular menu. In fact, the main courses on its Dine LA menu were typically worth more than $20 each – making the three-set course for $29 a great value. I booked a table for the last Friday of this culinary event.

I liked the vibe of Erven. It was a nice restaurant, yet didn’t seem pretentious. The waiter offered us complimentary white sangria upon our arrival, and promptly seated us to our table. The white sangria didn’t taste like typical sangria; it was sweeter yet lighter in the fruit taste. We liked it so much, we ordered a carafe to share ($12).

For starters, we ordered the beets with peas, pistachio, rose and strawberries, as well as the charred California avocado with macadamia tahini, chili-garlic salsa and pomegranate seed. The beet dish played a lot with temperature; there was this green foam that resembled frozen gelato.

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The charred avocado was amazing, and unlike any other avocado dish I had ever tasted. I normally don’t like avocado much, unless it’s in sushi, but the sear on this one was amazing. The tahini and pomegranate seeds paired with the avocado also contrasted well with its rich taste.

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For our mains, we got the salmon with chorizo, corn chowder, basil dumplings and smoky tomato, as well as the vegan Thai-style burrito. The salmon dish was one of the best-cooked fishes I’ve ever eaten, and that’s saying a lot about Erven, considering that it used to be a completely vegan restaurant.

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The Thai-style burrito was quite interesting; it was stuffed with fried rice, tempura sweet potato, lime cream, peanuts and tom yum gravy. My only criticism would be that the wrap itself was a bit too thick, almost overpowering the taste of its stuffing.

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I was already full by the time the two desserts came, but there’s no way I would have left them untouched. We had ordered the cheesecake with roasted plums, corn nut crunch and goat cheese ice cream, as well as the vegan chocolate bread pudding, made with peanut butter, fluff and banana.

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I’m not too big of a fan of savory ice creams, such as goat cheese ice cream, but it was interesting. The chocolate bread pudding contrasted with the rich peanut butter and light marshmallow fluff was absolutely delicious.

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I was highly impressed and satisfied with my Dine LA experience, and I would recommend it for those who are in Los Angeles in time for it!