Right now it's winter and flu season, and everyone including travellers are feeling the sting of both.
Everyone loves to eat at restaurants in Toronto or get take-out; though we can't do it all the time and especially not when we're sick.
How can someone living the fast-paced life in Toronto survive on take-out food in flu season?
1. Eat more salads.
Eat a salad at least once a day, with a variety of vegetables and proteins in it. We recommend Starbucks salads and Freshii.
Important: Throw away the dressing. Nearly every salad dressing is full of sugar and processed oils; the very things we're trying to avoid.
2. Get the sauce on the side.
Not only salads come with sauce. Sauce-covered foods seem impossible to escape in Toronto dining-out cuisine. Politely ask for it on the side. Then we can decide whether we want to put it in our bodies.
3. Cut down on oils.
We are avoiding vegetable oils, trans fats, hydrogenated fats, basically all cheap forms of oil which includes soy, peanut, vegetable and canola. Choose foods not prepared by methods using oil such as fried or deep-fried foods. Some examples of food not cooked in oil are baked potatoes, and roasted chicken.
4. Don't be fooled by added sugar.
Many of the carbohydrate heavy foods served at restaurants have added sugar that we wouldn't normally add sugar to at home. An example is added sugar in rice at sushi restaurants. A simple way to avoid this is to order sashimi. Also, take advantage of the wonderful salads available at sushi places, a few of which are the avocado salad, or the house salad.
Important: Ask for salad dressing on the side. It is often laden with sugar and the salad will taste better and do more good without it.
5. Juice is life.
At all the good convenience stores there is a selection of juices in small glass bottles. The one that we found proved to do the most good was a 2-inch tall miniature glass bottle with pure ginger juice inside.
Ginger is a must-have when sick and we went through about 2 bottles a day for 2 days.
At home, we boil ginger in water to make ginger tea, but buying ginger juice in a bottle is an extremely convenient option.
This brings us to the ideal treatment for illnesses that may spread to the chest: ginger, garlic and chillies.
These three things offer the fastest relief to ease breathing.
Vitamins: Health stores in Kensington and the Junction are confirmed to carry liposmal vitamins for maximum absorption. Very handy for emergency situations from tooth-ache, fever to flu. Also convnenient wrapped in dosage size. A little bit expensive, but worth having it when you need it. Product catalogue
Mexican food. Specifically tacos at La Tortilla. Carnitas pork doesn't need oil to be cooked. Mexicans used mixelated corn, making tortillas one of the least harmful bread you can get. Cilantro is an incredibly important herb. They have a green dipping sauce and a red one, they are both fantastic and pretty close to our home made sauce, and also appear to be sugar free.
As mentioned above, baked potatoes and roasted chicken. Some restaurants may use harmful oils in cooking these, so watch out for that and try to limit exposure as much as possible.
Szechuan. This one is a bit of a minefield, as sugar and MSG are used in almost all restaurants. At the good places you can ask if they use sugar or msg, and if they do, you can request it not be added. We found Sichuan Garden to be very helpful in this way, but what they can do is limited by the dish ordered. This means breaded meat dishes are off the menu. Hot and Sour soup proved to be beneficial and we were told does not have sugar.
Salads. Toronto is embracing salads like never before. Freshii has it pretty much down to an art - the salad has variety of foods with protein and greens and veg. We usually prefer Starbucks salads, which are just as balanced as Freshii's with meat and veg and variety of greens. Watch out for "trick items" though. Dressing often has honey or maple syrup added, or harmful oils or harmful preservative chemicals. Other "trick items" are wheat based products sometimes offered in a salad.
Starbucks: Let's talk coffee. Here is where we pay $2 including tax for a tall-in-a-venti, and end up with what loks like a liter f cffee. With free refills, it's the best deal possible for rabid coffee-drinkers. When drinking that much coffee, it's imprtant to keep a few things in mind: Sugar added to coffee and tea adds up quickly. It's best not to add any, and instead add extra cream. After a few days of doing this, we could taste the natural sugars in the cream and the true flavour of the coffee. There's a fair amount of nutrition in cream, which we take with our coffee.