January 26, 2012

proof rum, adios January, Vol. 70

As we bid farewell to January, we leave you with this final ‘low-cal’ drink. Like us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

slim collins 1 oz proof rum • 1 oz lemon juice • 1/2 oz simple syrup • sparkling water • ¼ tsp grated ginger • lemon for garnish

Fill a glass with ice. Add proof rum, lemon juice, ginger and simple syrup. Stir, top with sparkling water and garnish with a lemon wedge. 
(88 calories)


Calorie breakdown proof rum | 64 calories, lemon juice | 8 calories | ginger | 0 calories, simple syrup | 16 calories, sparkling water | 0 calories

We took a trip to the grocery store to find some diet-coke alternatives. We came across these low-cal mixers. All calories are based on a 4 oz drink and some options are obviously healthier than others.

Bottle Green Sparkling Drinks, available in Ginger & Lemongrass, Cranberry & Orange, Elderflower, Pomegranate & Elderflower | 35 calories, President’s Choice Sparkling Fruit Juice, available in Peach Mango and Kiwi Berry | naturally sweetened 30 calories, Motts Garden Cocktail | 30 calories, Motts Clamato | 30 calories, V8 low sodium | 25 calories, Ocean Spray Diet Ruby-Pomegranate | sucralose 0 calories Vitaminwater 10, Fuze Shape | sucralose less than 5 calories, Nestea pouches | sucralose 2 1/2 calories, Crystal Light tea blends | sucralose 0 calories


Looking for a little reprieve from this crazy January weather? Southern California sure would be the perfect place to escape to. If it’s not in your budget, you can always drop into The Combine Eatery for lunch or dinner. It is one of the first restaurants in Toronto to offer a So-Cal menu, fresh enough to trick you into believing that you are in some cool Southern California city, like San Diego. 

Combine serves a combination of Canadian comfort foods like poutine, lobster fritters, burgers and BLT’s beside an extensive list of sunny so-cal items like, fish tacos (choose grilled or fried), burritos, chipotle grilled seafood and meats. 

They also have a good variety of salads and lighter fare to choose from. (if you are still trying to watch your calories) With friendly staff and awesome drinks, it’s a perfect place to hang on a chilly January day. And make sure to order a proof 'The Make Thyme' while you're there. It's on the menu. (www.thecombineeatery.com, 162 Danforth Ave., 416-792-8088)

Saturday: Scattered flurries and a high of 1 degree
Sunday: Sunny with scattered flurries and a high of -1 degree

January 19, 2012

proof rum, year of the dragon, Vol. 69

While we’re still on the topic of healthy drinks, and with Chinese New Year just around the corner, we are featuring a very relevant and antioxidant-rich drink today – green tea. Like us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

Dragonwell Mojito ½ oz fresh lime juice • 4 large mint leaves • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (1 1/2 tsp agave nectar or brown rice syrup) 
4 oz brewed green tea, chilled • 1 oz proof white rum

Muddle the lime juice, mint and sugar together in a glass until the leaves bruise lightly and the flavors are released. Fill glass with ice and pour in proof rum and green tea. Stir and garnish with mint.

Calorie breakdown: ½ oz fresh lime juice | 4 calories • 4 large mint leaves | 0 calories • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar | 24 calories or 1 1/2 tsp agave nectar or brown rice syrup (there are more calories in both agave and brown rice syrup - 45) • 4 oz brewed green tea, chilled | 0 calories • 1 oz proof white rum | 64 calories


TSAA Tea Shop We purchased our green tea at TSAA on the Danforth. Tsaa Tea Shop was created to promote tea drinking in a contemporary, yet relaxing ambience. They offer over 100 varieties of premium loose leaf tea, bubble tea, tea lattés, smoothies and fresh sandwiches. (412 Danforth Ave. Toronto, 647.347.8720) (Their website is down for maintenance www.tsaateashop.com)

They were very kind in helping us decide on which tea to purchase. We couldn’t choose between the Organic Dragonwell or the Moroccan Mint, so we selected some of each and sampled them both in the drink. Ding! Ding! Ding! ding! The Moroccan Mint was the clear winner. It simply added that extra layer of mint to an already fresh drink. It’s really good. When making the tea, use 1 tsp for each cup and let it steep for 1 minute. The Dragonwell was also good, but it’s flavour was a little less intense.           


Born in Nova Scotia, Ani Phyo was later raised in New York State and currently resides in LA. She is an Eco-Lifestylist, organic and raw-food chef and author of four award-winning cookbooks. (with number five on its way) (http://aniphyo.com)

Ani’s fourth cookbook, “Ani’s Raw Food Asia” offers flavour-packed recipes from Korea, China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and Hawaii. Ani includes special menus like, brunch from Korea, Indonesia, India and China. And our absolute favourite – a list of healthy cocktails and finger foods to serve at a rawkin’ rawktail party.

Her recipes are quick, simple and most require a short grocery list of ingredients.
Not only is the photography beautiful, the book is full of cultural information, green-living ideas for longevity and happiness drawn from Eastern culture and traditions. 


Ani’s Daily Happiness Tips:
“These are some of the things I strive to practice each day.”
Forgive No one is perfect, and mistakes are only mistakes when they aren’t given a chance to be corrected. Remember to also forgive ourselves. Compassion Treat others as you want to be treated, with love, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness.
Make amends The only person who suffers when we hold on to resentment and bitterness is us. Be generous With your time, and resources. Making time to help someone else is really rewarding. Be kind Mom always taught me to be kind, including to those I know and those I don’t know yet. Inner happiness Try not to be affected by what goes on around you, focus within yourself, do good around you, and create your own happy reality. Make a difference Give back and make a difference in your own neighbourhood and community without seeking money or financial gain. Faith, Hope, and Inspiration Find something to believe in.


Here is a sample recipe taken from Ani’s Raw Food Asia. She offers more recipes on her website (http://aniphyo.com)

Summer Rolls with Ginger "Peanut" Sauce - Vietnam
Fresh rolls of thinly sliced cucumber wrappers are filled with kelp noodles, sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, and chile then served with a ginger “peanut” dipping sauce. If you don’t have kelp noodles on hand, substitute with spiralized zucchini noodles or shredded carrots.
Filling 1 cup shredded Boston lettuce leaves • 1 cup kelp noodles, cut into 3-inch lengths • ½ cup mung bean sprouts, rinsed • 3 tablespoons mint leaves • 3 tablespoons basil or Thai basil leaves • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves • 1 teaspoon Thai hot pepper, serrano pepper, or other small hot chile pepper, seeded and julienned
Wrapper 2 cucumbers, sliced very thin lengthwise, using mandoline slicer
Sauce 1 batch Ginger “Peanut” Sauce (see below)

Place filling ingredients into bowls and arrange on your table or countertop.
To assemble rolls, place a strip of cucumber onto a flat surface, like a cutting board. Layer a scant 2 tablespoons lettuce and 2 tablespoons noodles at one end of the cucumber, followed by 1 tablespoon bean sprouts, 1 teaspoon mint leaves, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon cilantro, 2 pieces of pepper. Place four cucumber sticks to either side of your noodle, herb, and spice pile. Roll fillings up inside cucumber strip diagonally. Place in a container. Repeat.
To serve, transfer rolls onto a serving plate or four dishes. Serve with a side of Ginger “Peanut” Sauce for dipping.These are best eaten immediately, but they will keep in fridge for 1 day.

Ginger “Peanut” Sauce (makes 1 cup)
Raw peanuts don’t taste very good, so this sweet and savory Thai peanut sauce–inspired dip is made with almond butter, coconut water, ginger, and lime zest.
Sauce ¾ cup almond butter • ¼ cup lemon juice • 2 tablespoons Nama Shoyu • 2 tablespoons agave syrup • 1 teaspoon grated ginger • ½ teaspoon minced garlic • ½ cup coconut water, or filtered water, as desired
Garnish 2 tablespoons lightly chopped cilantro • 2 teaspoons lime zest

In blender, place all sauce ingredients. Blend smooth, adding just enough water for desired dipping consistency. To serve, scoop into small bowl. Sprinkle on cilantro and lime zest before serving. Will keep for 5 days in fridge.


As promised – here is your very own copy of our 60+ Thursty Thursday recipes to download. We kept the colour to a minimum for your printing convenience. Just click on Thursty Thursday Recipes to get to the pdf file.


We dedicate this Thursty Thursday to Alexandra and Mike. Happy New Year guys!

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Scattered flurries and a high of - 6 degrees.
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of - 6 degrees.

January 12, 2012

proof whisky, garden cocktails, Vol. 68

We’re sticking to our resolution of only drinking light and ‘healthy’ cocktails this month. How are you doing on yours? Today’s savoury little sipper has a few more calories than last week’s but it contains one whole serving of your daily veggies. Every bit counts :) Like us on Facebook  and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

skinny mary 1 oz proof whisky • 4 oz tomato juice • 1/4 oz lemon juice • 2 dashes each of  Worcestershire & Tabasco 
½ oz pickle juice  • lemon pepper to rim
Rim a highball glass with fresh lemon and lemon pepper. Fill the glass with ice and add 1 oz proof whisky, ½ oz. pickle juice, 2 dashes Worcestershire & Tabasco and the juice of 1/8 lemon. Top with 4 oz tomato juice and stir to mix. Garnish with a pickle skewer or pickled bean.

calorie breakdown 1 oz proof whisky | 64 cal, 4 oz tomato juice | 20 cal, 1/4 oz lemon juice | 2 cal, 2 dashes Worcestershire  
.25 cal, Tabasco | 0 cal, Pickle juice | 0 cal, Total: 86.25 cal


juicy gadgets Making your own juices allows you to be creative and to control your sodium levels and calories. We love our Cuisinart blender/dispenser. In the summertime we use it to make great blender drinks, and fruit and veggie juices in the wintertime. You can get a pretty fine drink from it. If you are in the market for a juicer, you can pick one up at several places, including: www.canadiantire.ca, www.kitchenstuffplus.com, www.costco.ca, www.crateandbarrel.com, www.zellers.com, www.bodum.com and most specialty kitchen stores. Our favourite juicer design is made by bodum. Check the pop-up bodum store in the Distillery for its availability. If this pop-up is gone, Bergo should have it around the corner.

All juiced-up with no place to go? Here are a few original vegetable recipes from the Martini Club. (www.martiniclub.com)

Garden Cocktails Bartenders have been inventing cocktails for hundreds of years, but in this modern age the melding of liquids and cuisine has brought new, exciting and distinctive cocktail variations to the forefront. Combinations of vegetables, herbs and spices, along with the global influence of unique ingredients, have changed the way we approach cooking, and the same can be said for our creations behind the bar. In this spirit we have raided the kitchen for five unexpected cocktail ingredients, then mixed each into flavourful libations that will surprise and delight your guests.

the cucumber cool To a cocktail shaker, add ¼ cup cucumber, peeled and diced, ¼ oz lemon juice, ¼ oz simple syrup and 1 stalk of mint, torn. Muddle or mash thoroughly. Fill the shaker with ice and add 2 oz Pimm’s. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with 3 to 4 oz ginger ale and stri to mix. Garnish with a sliced cucumber wheel. (TIP use diet ginger ale to save on calories)

the Mediterranean mary Fill a highball glass with ice. Add 1 oz proof vodka (if you can get your hands on a bottle), ½ oz dry sherry, the juice of 1/8 fresh lemon, 1 tsp finely chopped fresh dill, ¼ tsp hot sauce and 4 oz tomato juice. Stire well to mix. Add a pinch of salt and perpper and garnish with a stalk of fresh dill.

the carrot top In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 ½ oz proof vodka , ¼ oz lemon juice and 3 oz carrot juice. Shake and strain into a martini glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil or a carrot twist.

the avocado daiquiri To a blender, add 1 cup ice, 1 ½ oz proof rum, 1 oz lime juice, 1 oz simple syrup and ½ avocado, peeled and chopped. Bland and pour into a large coupette and garnish with an avocado and lime slice.

skinny bar snacks If you are trying to avoid unnecessary calories while enjoying your light cocktail try munching on a pickled vegetable. Although high in salt, most contain very few calories. Our favourites are edamame, various olives, pickled beans, asparagus and celery. Check the pickle section at your grocery store for a great variety.

Make sure to pop in next week, because we will be offering a free downloadable recipe book for your files. We have included all 60+ Thursty Thursday recipes to date!


Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -9 degrees.
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -9 degrees.

January 5, 2012

proof rum, lighten-up will you, Vol. 67

It’s day five of the New Year – have you been sticking to your resolution? We’re not trying to be party-poopers here – we’ve just got your back. After all of the holiday excess, you may want to shed those few extra pounds. Although we cannot necessarily help with your willpower, we can offer you a few relatively healthy ways to cut down on calories. For the month of January, we will be featuring ‘light’ cocktails, along with their calorie count. If you did not get your fill of ‘bubbles’ over the holidays, you will welcome this light and sparkly drink. 
Like us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

vanilla spritz 1 oz proof vanilla-infused rum* • 5 oz Lime Perrier • 5 raspberries (raspberries are 1 calorie each)
Muddle raspberries in the bottom of a highball glass. Add 3-5 ice cubes, proof vanilla-infused rum*, top with Lime Perrier and garnish with a lime curl. total: 70 calories | 0 carbs

TIP: If you do not like raspberry seeds you can strain your drink – the essence will remain. (we like to leave them in – toothpicks were invented for a reason)

*vanilla-infused proof rum To create proof vanilla-infused rum, add one vanilla bean to a bottle of proof rum. Leave the vanilla bean in for 2 - 3 days. The bean can be left in for up to two weeks. We like to use vanilla bean because it is a natural sweet fragrance, which can actually help in lowering cravings for high-fat foods. proof rum has a lot of citrus notes which work perfectly with the vanilla.

TIP: No vanilla bean handy? One drop of pure vanilla extract can do wonders in your glass.


homeade seltzers You may prefer making your own naturally-flavoured seltzers. The only equipment that you will need is a soda siphon or seltzer dispenser and chargers. You can purchase these at a variety of retail shops. We purchased our mesh siphon at William Sonoma (check out their SodaStream Penguin – cool!), and the vintage red siphon at Morba (www.morba.ca) on Queen West. Morba carries one of the best vintage siphon collections we have seen in the city. BYOB also on Queen may have what you need. (http://byobto.com). New ones are sold at a variety of kitchen and department stores. Check out: iQ Living (www.iqliving.com) and William Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.com). You can purchase two types of chargers at iQ Living for 10/$6.99-$8.99 (each charger produces 1 L of carbonated water)


If you are going to go through the trouble of making your own water, why not experiment with flavours. We normally keep pitchers of flavoured ice waters in the fridge. We use things like mint, lemon, lime, orange slices, cucumber, melon and rosemary to add subtle, but amazing flavours. What you can do is add your ingredient of choice to a pitcher of filtered watered. Let it sit overnight and then strain it into your siphon. Make sure to strain out all of the bits, because the siphon’s tube is very small and will easily get blocked.

A lot of people assume that a cocktail is higher in calories than a glass of wine or light beer. Depending on the type of mix used, this can definitely be the case. But if you choose a light mix in your drinks, a cocktail can actually contain less than half the calories of the others. Not only that, straight spirits contain zero carbs. 

Here is a listing of the calories & carbs in wine, spirits & beer:

 Vodka - 1 oz or 30 mL - 64 calories| 0 carbs
Whisky - 1 oz or 30 mL - 64 calories| 0 carbs
Rum - 1 oz or 30 mL - 65 calories| 0 carbs
Red wine - 5 oz or 150 mL - 127 calories | 5.5 carbs
White wine - 5 oz or 150 mL - 120 calories | 5.5 carbs
Sparkling wine - 4 oz or 118 mL - 78 calories | 1.2 carbs
Light beer - 12 oz or 355 mL - 102 calories | 5 carbs
Beer (5%) - 12 oz or 355 mL - 136 calories | 11.1 carbs

Here are 5 ways to keep your cocktails slim & trim (www.lcbo.com)
1 Mash or purée summerfresh fruit, mix with ice and spirits in a cocktail shaker then strain to create the ultimate fruity and fat-free cocktails.
2 Spritz your spirits with real lemon and lime juice. Their bright flavours pack lots of punch without packing on the sugar. In fact, they’re practically calorie-free.
3 Zap the sugar in cocktails with calorie-reduced juice and soft drink mixers. There’s plenty of choice, from cranberry and lemonade to soda and light ginger ale.
4 Tomato and mixed-vegetable juices make a healthy and satisfying cocktail experience. They also add a serving or two of veggies to your day.
5 Flavoured spirits add a subtle taste to cocktails at no extra calorie cost.


If you are also interested in changing the way you eat, we have collected some great recipe resources to choose from.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 4 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy with sunny breaks and a high of -1 degree