Page Usage Notes
Drinking fluids when one is thirsty is important for the healthy individual, although the often stated 8 glasses of 8 oz of water daily has not been proven to be a necessity except with very exerting exercise and/or in very hot temperatures. The water content of foods and other beverages (which are, in turn, mostly water) are used by the body for its normal fluid requirements.R Kitty's history of urinary tract infections and the 2003 episode with a kidney stone are particularly important reasons for her to keep her fluid intake high. These are also reasons why Kitty's enjoyment of lemon in all her beverages (in regard to tea see below) is both important and fortunate. Kitty's overall drinking habits have changed quite a bit since joining Paul. Although she still prefers cold - if not iced - water at her meals and finds it the best beverage of all to quench her thirst, she has learned to enjoy various teas, something she rarely drank prior to 2000.
Many years ago (before we even met), both of us found that drinking liquids would ease hunger for awhile. Paul made it a regular practice when hungry late at night before going to sleep to just drink a glass of water; he knew from experience that he slept better if he had very little food in his stomach. Before joining with Paul, Kitty however often would nibble before bedtime to relieve the gnawings of an empty stomach. Since getting together, and early on both purposely seeking to optimize our nutritional intake while keeping our calories at a level to reach (mostly for Kitty) and maintain our body weights at a BMI level just below 20, we have made use of increased fluid intake to help increase satiety - feeling of gastric fullness - and reduce hunger.
Updated 12/20/10 Teas - Black, Green & Rooibos with hibiscus (plus some ginger & gogi berries), Sage
Originally, our beverage of choice during the day was tea mainly for the taste and the benefits we knew at the time, chiefly in inhibiting atherosclerosis.R Paul preferred that the first cup of the day be either a combination of half green, half black (Earl Gray or English Breakfast) or just the black loose tea steeped either in our corning wear pot in Ontario (where we lived at the time half the year after Fall of 2002, fulltime for Paul prior to that) or the thermos carafe we used in Arizona. This he enjoyed in the English fashion, with milk. Kitty prefers any tea with a generous amount of lemon; neither of us uses sugar (Paul had weaned himself from that in the 1980s).
More recently, after moving from Toronto to rural NE Ontario in May 2005, we purchased both green and black tea loose from Harvest Moon Health Foods in Bancroft Ontario, and would take a quantity of the black with us to Arizona for our stays there since bulk sources seem non-existent in that area. The green tea being carried by Harvest Moon has chrysanthemums in it, which we had found, when dining in a Toronto Chinese restaurant, to add a pleasant taste. (The 5 pounds we purchased from the manager in January 2005 had since run out.) Our supply of green tea in Arizona was the 750 Jasmine tea bags we have purchased twice from the Chinese Gourmet Buffet in Chandler. We have added loose dried chrysanthemums from the only large Chinese market we've located in the Phoenix area (99 Ranch Market). When we ran out of the Jasmine green tea bags we bought a bag of loose tea with chrysanthemums from the same market until we were able to make a third purchase in February 2007 from the buffet restaurant. This last purchase, however, was disappointing due to the large number of tea bags that appear to be cut - possibly a poor manufacturing process - and leak out very fine tea leaf powder. It was with great pleasure then that we discovered a new (to us) oriental market, Lee Lee Oriental Supermart, at the NE corner of Dobson and Warner, and its enormous array of Asian and many other ethnic foods. We bought a 5 pound bag of loose Jasmine tea for only $15 - this is less than we paid the restaurant manager in Toronto back in January 2005. We're now set with green tea for a couple years ;>)
The health benefits of green tea have been the subject of numerous studies and papers in the past several years.R1 R2 For this reason Paul decided in mid-2006 to eliminate the black tea that he was only drinking once daily in combination with green. In mid-November 2007, Paul read in his feed of Science Daily of the recent studies that amounts of catechins available from green tea are likely increased when citrus, as well as other certain other substances, is added rather than when the tea is consumed plain. The study was done in vitro, still "[t]hese data provide evidence that tea consumption practices and formulation factors likely impact catechin digestive recovery and may result in diverse physiological profiles".R
In early 2006 we experimented by brewing a pot of green and rooibos teas in a ratio of 3:2. Rooibos, south African red bush leaves, contains a large amount of flavonoids and acts as a potent antioxidant.R This combination was so good tasting, even improved by increasing the ratio to 3:3 when Paul eliminated his black/green tea, that it has become our standard drink during the day. Paul drinks it plain but Kitty still likes to add fresh lemon juice. More recent studies have shown additional potential benefits from this very pleasant herbR which adds a slight sweet taste moderating any harshness of the green tea.
As of November 2007, an addition to all of our green-rooibos tea is hibiscus sabdariffa primarily for its inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). (See thread including abstracts at sci.life-extension.) Beverages using hibiscus sabdariffa are widely consumed in Mexico and by many ethnic Mexicans in the USA and elsewhere. (A September 2007 published study suggests that hibiscus sabdariffa flower beverage intake "in the Mexican diet may contribute around 166 and 165 mg/per serving to the intake of dietary fiber and polyphenols, respectively. The health benefits from consumption of Hibiscus beverage could be of considerable benefit to the whole population.") Since early in 2006 we have purchased, for Paul's periodic smoothie use, the F-Diaz brand of Jamaica Extract (hibiscus flower). After reading of its benefits, Kitty began to add 1/2 tsp to most of her mugs of tea in addition to her regular lemon - Paul was not quite so regular in his usage of the Jamaica extract in his tea. Once we received our order of dried hibiscus, we began adding it to the pots of brewed tea. The flavor of the green-rooibos tea is further enhanced in Kitty's estimation with the hibiscus. Paul's view, however, was that this tea is just "different" and not as thirst quenching as the plain green/rooibos after his one large daily meal, so the purpose of its usage is the deciding factor.
In November 2008, we added yerba mate, simply because the bag Kitty was given when we lived in Toronto had just been sitting; we found it a bit strange by itself but a good addition to our combo tea and we will keep it in the recipe. We also added dried lemongrass, having been interested by seeing it as a fresh produce item in Lee Lee's Market in Chandler Az. However, Kitty still adds a bit of fresh lemon to each cup.
In March 2010, after finding papers on teas pointing out that the phenolic contents and beneficial effects of unfermented herbal teas in general and green rooibos in particular were superior to fermented herbal teas, we procured a good supply of green rooibos and have been switching over to that as we use up our previous supply of red rooibos. Although red rooibos is the form most people use because of its superior taste (and the only form that was previously known by us), it is fermented. Fortunately with all the other ingredients this change has not negatively affected the taste of the blend. By this time also we had used up our old bag of yerba mate and found Lee Lee's market a good place to purchase another. We currently use a yerba mate with added lemon and this has the benefit of making the whole blend a little more lemony acidic tasting which is enough for Paul's taste but still not enough for Kitty who continues to add extra freshly squeezed lemon to her cups of tea.
In December 2010, as result of a study on Yerba Mate posted to sci.life-extension we decided to double the amount of yerba mate in our tea blend. Therefore, as of December 2010, we have settled on having a pot of tea (using our ~12 cup stoneware pot in Arizona and a similar sized pyrex coffee pot when we are in Ontario) brewed as follows for double strength:
We dilute a half mug of the brewed tea with water and warm it up in the microwave as we want throught out the day. This provides Paul with plenty of thirst quenching and still gives us benefits from hibiscus and so just this one tea blend is now made, rather than the 2 types we started with several years previously.
Our setup for tea making in Arizona in November 2008. In Fall 2009 we replaced tea ball - it had become too small :) - with a purchased cloth bag for same purpose.
Paul does not find plain water to be a particularly satisfying drink except when he is very thirsty and/or hot from physical exertion.
Although Paul became aware of the benefits of sage tea in October 2006 via a post on sci.life-extension, we did not then make it a regular beverage. The paper's abstract closes with "its [Salvia officinalis L.] effects on fasting glucose levels in normal animals and its metformin-like effects on rat hepatocytes suggest that sage may be useful as a food supplement in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by lowering the plasma glucose of individuals at risk".R Starting in November 2007 we have begun to make the last mug of tea each night one of sage tea, brewed from sage leaves - ~2 tsp in 6 cups of water. Paul drinks his plain, while Kitty adds lemon as she does for all her tea. In March 2008 we started adding a teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to the sage.
Paul did a fair amount of research in response to a March 2005 MoreLife Yahoo reader's comments about our tea brewing practices. The full response - with numerous PubMed citations - for why we only modified our practice to keep short the length of time for heating the steeping pot can be seen in MoreLife Yahoo message#902.
In previous years we simply drank rooibos tea in combination with green tea during the day, and then periodically brewed a rooibos fruit tea mixed with various additional items such as rosehips, rhubarb, elderberry, lemon grass, and other fruit combinations in the evenings. We found the latter especially nice to serve when we had visitors who were not regular green or herb tea drinkers. There are also premixed loose fruit "tea" combinations, to which we add straight rooibos, that are really delicious. Prior to brewing green/rooibos tea, we typically made 1 pot of fruit-rooibos tea (grounds saved for Paul's alternate smoothie) for every 2 pots of caffeine containing tea.
We have found that sometimes premixed fruit teas are not available - such as in all the stores we've searched so far in AZ. A very reasonable substitute can be made from the following:
Finely cut using mixed dry fruit can be substituted for the individual fruit items above.
Cut all dried fruit, lemon pieces and cranberries into small pieces (scissors are easier to use, except on the frozen cranberries) and place into a 4C teapot along with rosehips, vanilla and rooibos. Add boiling water, cover and let steep for minimum of 10 minutes. Pour through a fine screen strainer into cup before serving. The "grounds" are reserved for Paul's alternate smoothie
See photo for set-up and ingredients we use in AZ.
Kitty found early on that she particularly enjoyed the combination of approximately 1/2 the homemade fruit tea above with the remainder of the green-black tea when we were brewing it without rooibos. Paul admitted that the unique taste of this blend was very pleasant. That was the start of our current practice to brew green and rooibos together.
We discovered the pleasure of cold - or at least room temperature - fruit teas in the summer of 2002. They are a pleasant taste alternative to iced water on warm days when an increased body temperature is definitely undesirable.
Water, Juices & Wine
Neither of us was ever been much of a soda pop drinker, though Kitty did in years past (before meeting Paul) occasionally have diet colas. Kitty's drink of choice for thirst quenching is plain cold water - Paul doesn't drink as much water for thirst quenching but when he does he prefers it with a sizable twist of lemon, when available. Many years before Kitty joined him, Paul began using a reverse osmosis system because he considered the Toronto water quality less than desirable. We have continued to do this in Arizona by bringing the filter (containing also a separate carbon filter) with us each Fall. At the cottage our drinking water comes from a community spring. We discussed this subject of water filtration at MoreLife Yahoo in March 2008. (Water is all we drink when we dance - our major strenuous physical activity when we lived in Toronto and at those events and clubs we find suitable in central Arizona).
We have acquired the taste for our drinks without added sugar thereby keeping minimal the number of calories we drink. This permits us to be a bit more liberal with our solid food eating. (As Kitty puts it, "It's just more enjoyable to chew calories.") We make it a practice not to ingest non-nutritional additives, ie. artificial sweeteners (or fake "fats"), that do not have specific life-enhancing or extending value. Instead of using these sugar replacements, we just learned to enjoy our beverages without the sugar or the substitute.
In the summer of 2004, we added pomegranate juice to our daily intake after finally finding a source in Toronto. This rich very pleasant tasting juice has been found in recent years to be extremely high in polyphenol antioxidants,R1 R2 (possibly moreso than any other juice) with highly beneficial effects.R Paul enjoys his pomegranate juice (~4 oz) best diluted with just cold water or sometimes with grape juice (the *not* from concentrated unfiltered version used in Paul's (Tom's) Smoothie). Kitty will often use this last dilution method but also finds half and half with the cold fruit tea is refreshing.
USers can get pomegranate juice both 100% and as a blend with blueberry, pineapple and blackberry juice concentrates (both without any sugar added) at Trader Joe's. We purchased the blend and find it a very pleasant juice while the 100% pomegranate has a more "wine-like" taste. We frequently share a wine glass full of pomegranate juice with our third meal giving this small repast a bit of flair. To date (5/8/05), the best pomegranate juice we have tasted - and we've sampled several brands - is what we obtain in Toronto under the MiraPak label, imported from Azerbaijan by ROSCAZ (416-602-2829; website). We purchased it by the case direct from the importer, but saw it selling in several health food stores, right next to much higher priced pomegranate juices from the US.
Currently we get the benefits of pomegranate juice with a minimum of its naturally high sugar content by using LEF's Pomegranate Extract and Pomegranate Juice Concentrate, this last added to Paul's smoothie.
Another flavorful cool drink in the summer is Concord grape juice diluted about 1/3 with water, and an equal amount of pineapple juice. A variation replaces the pineapple juice with more water and half of a lemon. Both are delicious and very refreshing.
In early 2006, we found aronia berry juice for sale in Trader Joe's (their own brand, as is the pomegranate juice we were buying when in Arizona). Paul had read several abstracts in the previous few years on its remarkably high antioxidant activity and high total phenolic content R1 R2 R3 but we'd not found any for sale locally in Ontario or Arizona. Upon finding this source - at least for our Arizona months each year - Paul began adding it to his smoothie and has reduced some of the grape juice he has been using since the aronia (also called chokeberry) is much lower in sugar than other unsweetened juices (Trader Joe's concord grape and pomegranate both 39 grams/8oz(240ml) while aronia has only 12 grams for same volume) and has even shown hypoglycemic activity in diabetics.R (No studies found so far on similar activity in non-diabetics.) In addition, we have added a combination aronia, pomegranate and pineapple juice cocktail (2 oz of the first two and 1 oz of the last) mixed to start off our dinner. While in AZ, 1 oz of fresh aloe vera gel, harvested from our many plants, is also part of the mix.
In late February 2008, we failed to find any aronia juice in the Tempe Trader Joe store and were told by the manager that it had been discontinued. After verbally registering our strong disagreement with this decision, Kitty also emailed this view to Trader Joe's management. At this point, all we have received is email from Trader Joe's Customer Relations, "However, we have forwarded your comments and a request to the Category Leader for reconsideration." In the meantime, we had found a source of European imported aronia juice, a case of which we had shipped to us from Sophia Foods in Brooklyn NY. Unfortunately we discovered upon receipt that these bottles contained added sugar, making it an aronia drink, not a true juice. (This aronia product contains 32g in 240 ml vs 12 g in the Trader Joe's product. Our dissatisfaction with the product was registered with Sohpia Foods.) As it is now, we can find no source of true aronia juice in the US. We urge those, like us, who want the benefits of aronia juice to contact Trader Joe's (the previous largest supplier to our knowledge) to request that aronia juice be reinstituted as a regularly sold item. Unless we can locate a supply of aronia juice in Ontario, we will not have its benefits there either, although a small amount is contained in the Cocoa Gold product we take daily.
After developing a kidney stone in January 2003, Kitty has made it a point to drink a minimum of 1.5 liters (1500ml, ~48oz) of liquid daily, which includes water, the teas and juices she enjoys, and the tomato juice-based meal cocktails. With signs of a low-grade urinary tract infection being present in the spring of 2004, she increased the quantity of liquids to 1800 to 2000 ml daily and with fresh lemon juice squeezed into each glass of water to increase the acidity of her urine. She is rarely found without a container of some naturally very low calorie liquid.
For many years Paul did not find evidence that drinking wine or other alcohol would add any benefits for those who were already consuming an excellent diet, one containing large amounts of polyphenols from various sources, as well as taking many supplements. In the past year his readings have lead him to conclude that indeed, small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis may be beneficial even for those eating nutritionally well and in good health. Since red wines have both alcohol and beneficial polyphenols (and have shown the best general health benefit), starting in March 2007 we began experimenting with inexpensive red wines, consuming approximately 2 ounces daily. Paul mixes the wine with various juices - concord grape, aronia, cherry, pineapple and aloe vera - for a delicious wine cooler which we enjoy at the end of our single daily meal. Since the early Fall of 2007 we have settled on a fairly regular recipe for our wine coolers which is a delightful addition to our meal:
The hibiscus extract is our latest addition and adds a tang to the sweetness of the grape juice which makes the whole far better tasting, in our estimation, than any of the wines by themselves.
Being on calorie restriction does not mean that we do not eat desserts nor dine out in restaurants.
Desserts are a regular part of our current single daily meal taken with a cup of tea, sometimes relaxing in our living room, watching a DVD, or even working on the computer. An original favorite dessert of bread pudding when Kitty first joined Paul in 2000 just stopped being the same delight - too much bread. When we were purchasing it, we ate it either plain or topped with plain yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, or apple sauce (unsweetened, of course). We were buying it at the specialty deli/bakery of a Loblaws supermarket in Toronto just before closing when they were 2 for 1. Being good calorie restrictors, we rationed ourselves to 1/6 of one piece each (~60g) and thus the 2 lasted us 6 cycles or 1 week (our previous 28 hour day schedule).
Currently with our single meal, we have provided ourselves with dessert choices at home:
More on ice cream - Before we moved from Toronto, we started purchasing an occasional 2 liter container of ice cream (equivalent to half-gallon in the US); vanilla with some chocolate is what we did settle for in the Toronto supermarkets, but more choices are available in AZ and even rural Ontario where we spend the warm months. In the past while in Arizona we have found that small servings - every few days - of Blue Bunny's Bunny Tracks or a good Dreyers or Breyers flavor from the supermarket (over strawberry slices) can be done without being piggish and gaining weight. More recently we have found that Fry's own brand of ice cream (Private Selection) is very good tasting. Our favorites are their Double Vanilla (or Natural Vanilla), Moose Tracks, and Blackberry Chocolate. While we often have a container of each of these in the freezer, our servings are small and they last the better portion of a month (unless we've had visitors who joined us for our meal). When we don't have fresh berries, Paul really enjoys the vanilla ice cream with one of the bottled fruit pulps we purchase (strawberry, guava or mango) and a dash of pineapple juice. Kitty often has her vanilla ice cream just plain or with some slivers of Paul's chocolate. But after trying it with crushed blackberries (which we picked ourselves in the areas near our Ontario home), she finds that a great combination and with nutritional value as a plus.
On a rare occasion we will treat ourselves to a good size ice cream cone that is shared. Moose Tracks is our favorite flavor for a cone when we can find it in ice cream shops in Ontario, outside of Toronto. We never did find anyplace selling it within Toronto. However, Kawartha Dairy, which produces it in Ontario sells it and other brands in ice cream shops in our area of "cottage country".
Muffins - On Christmas morning 2001, we experimented and made oat bran-rye-fruit muffins. The recipe went like this:
Combine dry ingredients; add combined liquid ingredients. Spoon into buttered muffin pan approximately 3/4 full. Bake 15-17 mins. at 425F. Makes 1 dozen.
We ate our first plain and warm from the oven. We've also made a couple batches with applesauce added to the liquid ingredients and putting that portion through the blender before adding to the dry; a pinch of salt improved the taste too. Adding some whole raisins and a bit of nuts also worked well. This is a recipe that can take lots of turns and twists.
Super Muffins, a variation on the Super Nutritious Blueberry Pancakes, make a terrific dessert, plain or with various spreadable toppings or fruit or a bit of ice cream.
In August of 2002 after experiencing the delight of an Italian limone gelato in Milan, we treated ourselves to a pint of rainbow sherbet (no lemon was available). Unfortunately it was so terribly sweet that after trying a little, we left it in the freezer not knowing quite what to do with it. Squeezing lemon juice over it helped but what a way to use good lemons. On return from our next trip to the cottage, Paul discovered that the last remaining bag of milk (it's commonly sold in 3 bags/4 liters in Ontario) had just started to curdle when used for tea or coffee. He immediately thought that he might "kill two birds with one stone" by using the milk to dilute the sickly sweet of the sherbet and at the same time make it more ice cream like. A little experimentation with the blender produced acceptable result, and with the full amount of both in the blender he added a couple of scoops of vanilla whey powder in addition. We then had a very flavorful refreshing protein slush dessert. Since we eat only small portions of any desert at one time, the bulk of it had to be placed back in the freezer. As we proceeded to eat it out of the container we found that the it had separated during the freezing process so that the bottom portion was mainly fruit sherbet again. Reblending it with a little more milk solved the problem - and the remainder in the container was then little enough that it did not have time to separate as it froze. Someday we may investigate ice cream making without any artificial sweeteners or sugar additional to that within the fruit.
In June 2004 (after reminiscing about tart treats from our earlier years) we decided to make a combination of rhubarb and raisins. We cooked them together (as we do the cranberry-raisin sauce) with just a scant amount of water. We didn't measure or weigh but estimate that the raisins were only ~1/8 the volume of the cut-up rhubarb stems. We cut the raisins with kitchen shears into small pieces and added to the rhubarb which had cooked gently for only about 10 minutes. Originally we thought we might have to add some honey but found that we got sufficient sweetness with just the raisins. (We did adjust the quantity up by tasting.) Later that same night we treated ourselves to some of the chilled mixture topped with a couple spoonfuls of kefir - delicious. Kitty had hers over some crumbled graham crackers in the bottom of her bowl. We haven't tried this recipe since but may do so again in the future when the mood strikes.
Desserts are part of our eating out, but we do so judiciously and most often share our selection (or selections if we've eaten at a buffet). Early in our days together in living in the Bloor/Spadina area of Toronto when we dined out nearby, we often enjoyed the enormous selection of decadent deserts at The Future Bakery and took great delight in deciding on which to share. However, in 2004 our choice was almost always just a single large raisin oatmeal cookie made to last through 2 cups of coffee for each of us.
When we were living 28 hour cycles, we were awake 19 to 20 hours resulting in the 3 main meals 6 to 8 hours apart. Snacks, then taken fairly regularly 3 to 4 hours after a meal consisted of a combination of protein and nutritious carbohydrates. However, when we returned to a 24-hour schedule both in Ontario and in Arizona AND ate only 2 meals daily, snacks were rarely taken between those meals.
Kitty would often be too full after our dinner (second) meal to immediately enjoy a dessert. Both of us found that delaying dessert for another few hours (often till immediately after our late evening dance exercise) makes it more enjoyable while still providing 12 hours fast until the next day's breakfast. "Dessert" is used loosely and may actually just be one of the many snacks below, though often some of these are combined and included with a "supper-like" meal for a change of pace 2nd meal.
Currently with eating one extended meal on 2 days out of 3 (and for the 18 months prior to July 2 2008 when eating only once each day), the eating period extends over 7 to 8 hours so that a full range of foods can be eaten to provide the best nutrition according to our studies - and we can eat sufficient quantity. Snacks, which most people think of consuming between meals, are instead a part this meal - our "snack course", which precedes our more formal "dessert". On occasion, especially if the weather is warm, some are used in combination as a major part of the main course.
These are some of our favorites:
Just as with desserts, restricting one's calories intelligently does not mean that dining out in a restaurant or at the home of friends must be forsaken.
We select meals based on what we think we will enjoy taste-wise, but not forgetting good nutrition. Currently with eating only one extended meal on 2 days out of 3 and therefore ready to eat heartily when that first meal after fasting comes around and in anticipation of the next full day fast, we don't give much thought to calorie considerations. However, we do not idly fill ourselves with wasted calories - such as munching on more than a few chips brought to the table with salsa at Mexican restaurants. We do much what we did when we were eating two meals daily (and even before that with 3 meals on a 28 hour day). When going to a regular restaurant, we choose 2 meals that we then divide between us (often eating from each other's plate). The only difference now with one meal daily is that we generally consume the smoothie and cereal courses prior to the restaurant meal so that we have the benefit of the nutrients included in those foods. At the restaurant we share a single appetizer, soup and/or dessert, if there are ones worth the extra charge.
Of course, all leftovers are taken home, to be eaten at another meal. In fact, in many restaurants the portions served are far larger than one person should ever eat, unless that meal is all they are eating for the day. When we were eating more than once daily, we divided our individual servings and ate only half, taking the remainder home. Many is the time we had sufficient amount from the left-overs - with some fresh vegetables added - to make an entire lunch 2 days later. We also frequently take home the bread that is served with a restaurant meal when it's something unique.
Prior to our change to eating only once a day in January 2007, we rarely went to buffet restaurants because the amount we would eat was rather small. We were in essence subsidizing the enormous meals of others paying the same fee. Since then however, we do eat occasionally at a buffet with a wide selection, taking at least 2 hours to consume what then is the major part of our lone meal 2 days out of 3. We take along some reading material and enjoy some good discussion along with the relaxed atmosphere of grazing the food bars. Originally on these occasions we did not consume our smoothie and cereal courses, but, since berries are non-existent on the menus of buffets (at least the ones we've been at), this meant that our diet for that day was lacking in these highly desirable items. We soon found that it was not at all inconvenient to take a single meal's worth of smoothie and cocoa yogurt in a cooler - along with the premixed meal cocktails - and consume the smoothie and cocoa yogurt (together with starting on our pills and meal cocktail) jointly prior to entering the restaurant. In rural Ontario where our choices do not include buffets, we consume these items in the selected local restaurant while waiting to be served. (We sometimes give a brief explanation for our practice, but mostly just proceed.) This way we do not miss out on the beneficial ingredients in Paul's smoothie and the cocoa yogurt on any dine out occasion. We also take along the fruit-berry mix and generally eat this with trail mix later, in the car between shopping stops or other errands or even before dancing when that is part of the schedule for that day.
Dining out was a favorite pastime in Toronto where there are thousands of restaurants, dozens of which are within a 6 block radius of the apartment we then had in the middle of the city. Ethnic cooking among our favorites there were Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Italian, Greek, and Hungarian but we were always interested in trying something new. We were always looking for a restaurant in Toronto serving good roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding; it appears that all the authentic ones closed up shop within the last few years before Kitty joined Paul.
Kitty has enjoyed Mexican food since she moved to Arizona from New Jersey in 1975; she introduced Paul to her favorite low-cost source, Filiberto's, on their first joint stay in Arizona in October 2002. He agrees that this chain has great quality, selection and service at bargain prices; while the breakfast burrito was originally his favorite and the mixed a close second, he's now decided the fish burrito is the best of the three. The breading is very light and the deep-frying is in sufficiently hot oil that very little appears to be absorbed. Kitty, who had never tried one in years past, agrees with his top choice. We enjoy a few meals at the Casa Grande location with every stay in Arizona.
Chinese buffets virtually dot the landscape in Arizona, but we find the Chinese Gourmet Buffet on Alma School Road in Chandler especially good with their wide variety of entrees, stir-fry bar, and good salad makings, all for an excellent price.
One might not expect good Ethiopian food in central Arizona, but we are happy to report that Tina's Ethiopian Cafe in Chandler (in the southeast portion of the greater Phoenix area) is a pleasure. In addition to having properly sour-tasting Injera (as opposed to what we were served at Tempe's Cafe Lalibela), the flat bread on which virtually all Ethiopian food is served, Tina's preparation of menu items is delicious and the atmosphere is very relaxed. Husband Dan and their two young children are a frequent sight in the homey restaurant that often surprises a new guest. Kitty learned from Tina on our first visit in Fall of 2005 that the sour quality of the Injera is obtained by using more teff rather than predominantly, or even all wheat flour. Kitty has been distracted on later visits to Tina's and still has not asked her what the proportion is that she uses to get the proper taste of Injera. Of course there is also Tina's cookbook available either at the restaurant at Tina's website. We had another delightful meal at Tina's in January 2007 sharing a homey area with a stranger, Matthew Bruce (an engineer on a business trip in the area from his home in Oregon) and conversing the entire time. Tina took a picture of us (as she frequently does of her customers) and put it on her website. She's recently moved from still shots to taking a video clip when customers consent. (In order to see us clearly, hit the pause button shortly after the clip starts.)
A favorite that we indulge in 2 or 3 times a year is a mushroom cheeseburger platter (w/ french fries, of course) and a separate fried cheese and hearty chef salad (the tomato salad plate at Mel's in Toronto was terrific). We share the two and are pleasantly filled at the completion. A good source of these (and other items) for us now is Chompie's Deli Restaurant in Tempe AZ (well prepared food and very generous servings), 5&Diner in Chandler AZ (and other locations), and the Craftsman Restaurant, south west of Bancroft ON on Hwy 28, just into Paudash.
Back when we were eating more than once daily, a "dining out" snack that we enjoyed very much when living in Toronto, especially when the weather was cool, were the soups made at Momo's Middle Eastern restaurant on Harbord St at Robert along our walking route to Kensington Market. The different varieties we've eaten - lentil, black bean, carrot, and mixed vegetable - are *so* good that we could never decide which we liked best. We would order two different ones which are thickly pureed and served with lemon - yumm! - and share one pita. (If we were less hungry, we'd just share one soup and one pita.) Definitely worthy of bowl licking - or at least wiping clean with pita pieces! Another nearby restaurant, By the Way Cafe on Bloor, also makes good soups; we especially enjoyed their butternut squash; and the rye sourdough bread pieces with seasoned butter on the side - delicious! A Hungarian deli, also on Bloor, has inexpensive, filling and nutritious offerings that we enjoyed as a shared 3rd meal when we were on a 28 hour day; we liked their goulash soup and cabbage rolls, 1 serving sufficient for both of us.
Our previous home in the University of Toronto area, also provided us with some great pizza places. One which makes terrific combinations, typically sold by the piece, is on Spadina near the corner at Harbord; a single piece cut in half was sufficient for both of us as a large snack. A meal at home was made of 2 slices and a large salad. Our only difficulty was deciding on which of the many pizza choices our slice(s) would be. Now at least once during our 6 months in rural Ontario we enjoy a pizza and salad meal at PizzaPizza in Bancroft. They have an option of multi-grain crust with many topping choices, generous amounts of tomato sauce (not the case in some other local restaurants) and romaine lettuce is a regular option in their garden salads. Altogether a nice change, nutritious and good buy when we have a coupon ;>)
The second thing we miss most with our move out of Toronto is the large variety of reasonably priced restaurants serving delicious food. (The first thing is the comparatively small amount of high energy dancing that still exists there since hip/hop gained in popularity.) It took us some time, but we finally found a restaurant in the Bancroft area worth recommending to others. The fellow who did the window replacement work on our cottage suggested that we try the Craftsman Restaurant, southwest on Hwy 28, just into Paudash. The food selection, while not vast is sufficient and the quality and quantity is great (like the cheeseburger mentioned above). The last couple of months before the end of October 2006, we included a meal there on our every 2 weeks errands in Bancroft. We have made this restaurant one of our regular choices among the few available when we do our every 2 weeks shopping in Bancroft.