Foodie Swellness: Zwilling Pro Smart Chef’s Knife

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With more than 30 trips out of town last year, I cooked at home less than often than usual, for sure, but whenever I was home, I did try to prep quick meals and if home for a week or longer I always cook proper meal or two from scratch as I can.

The first time I heard about the Zwilling Pro Smart Chef’s Knife 8″, it was at a media preview where a professional chef was showing how easy it is to use; the special feature of this knife is the raised ridge that helps prevent whatever you’re chopping from sticking to the knife.

I always thought this was only an issue I had when chopping. I always have had to pause and slide carrots or onion off of the blade before continuing to slice. The demo, well, it did seem to work well but watching the chef use it, though, didn’t actually say much to me, because he’s great at chopping precisely and super quickly and without the ingredients staying on the blade because he’s a professional.

But then I got my hands on the knife at home (I’m a Zwilling ambassador) and put on my apron and pretended I was Ina preparing some wonderful meal to welcome Jeffrey home and put this knife to use on some vegetables. First off, wow, it’s so great to have a sharp knife. Definitely made me realize how dull my current regular knife was. (Now I just need to make sure I  keep it sharp!)

This Zwilling Pro Smart Chef’s Knife  is a pleasant weight and feels right in my hand, so much so that I don’t have to steady it with my pointer finger like I usually do when chopping. I know it’s not the proper way to hold a knife but I’ve always found it made chopping easier. But this knife is designed such that I find I can hold it as one should and it totally works like a dream at preventing ingredients sticking onto the blade. My prep time has been cut down and I no longer dread recipes that call for a lot of chopping. I’ve made a lots since receiving it but recent dishes include chicken gnocchi soup and a Bolognese sauce, and dicing the veggies, a task I used to find a chore, was fun. OK almost fun — as much as I enjoy cooking, it’s nice to have meals cooked for you, too, haha!

I think the Pro Smart Chef’s Knife is a great choice if you’re looking for one knife for your kitchen to meet your general slicing and dicing needs (my other must is my bread knife — I use my Staub cocotte to bake no-knead bread). (Oh and btw, did you know there’s a new Zwilling store in Toronto?I have not been yet, but next time I’m in that mall, I’m definitely popping in!)

Leave a Comment January 5, 2017

Healthy Swellness: Rethink Tires this year as you resolve to get fit!

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As someone who hasn’t owned a car for quite a while, I must admit I haven’t given much thought as to what happens to used car tires when they are thrown away. When it was brought to my attention that just disposing of them means that thousands of tires are just ending up in landfills, it was scary to think about. I feel I’m pretty aware of how much garbage I create in terms of packaging, clothing and the like, but tires, that’s a significant level of waste, to put it mildly.

Knowing this, I was happy to learn about the good work of Ontario Tire Stewardship; since 2009, their Used Tires Program has diverted close to 100 million tires from landfills! How does it work? Well, when you have old tires to get rid of, rather than dropping them at the dump or tossing them with the trash, you bring them to a registered collector and they’ll have your tires hauled so they can be responsibly recycled into new products.

I didn’t realize that tires can be made into other useful items, such as surfacing for playgrounds and flooring for gyms – which you know speaks to me! I had the opportunity to test out recycled rubber flooring in a gym I worked out in recently. The flooring is super soft underfoot and provides a lot of cushioning, it’s easy to keep clean, and it’s slip resistant.

And that cushioning is great not only for any high impact exercises you may do, but also, say, if you drop a heavy dumbbell (which my weak arms have been very close to doing more than once) It’s also a budget-friendly option, so I’d definitely want this in my home gym, if I were to have the space at home.

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With winter here (and perhaps you’ve made some fitness New Year’s resolutions), you may be wanting to do more of your workouts indoors. Consider looking into the repurposed rubber flooring option  and remember, you typically don’t need much space to get in a good workout. So carving out a corner where you can get Zen or do some strength training using your own body weight won’t call for much flooring.

Many of the other ways the tires are repurposed are for the outdoors such as rubber landscape tiles and rubber mulch, which I didn’t even know existed but plan to try in my potted plants in the nicer weather. It can also be used for landscaping bricks, paving, planters and roofing shakes – something to keep in mind for spring when you decide to do some renos or updates. I’m also thinking these tiles would be an easy way for me to spruce up my downtown balcony floor, which I’ve left as the builder made it: plain and grey. A soft rubber flooring would be much more inviting.

So enough daydreaming about the nice weather… and back to the resolutions. In addition to hitting the gym in 2017, remember to Rethink Tires and ways that repurposed tire products can be used in your life. You’ll be doing the planet some good, which is a great way to make 2017 even better than last year.  

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Leave a Comment January 4, 2017

Travel Swellness: Road tripping in the Rocky Mountain Foothills with Buick Envision

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When I was invited to drive a 2017 Buick Envision over two days in the beautiful Rocky Mountain Foothills in Alberta, you bet I replied as quickly as my fingers could type YES and hit send. My first one-day visit to Banff in 2014, along with my much longer trip exploring the area spring 2015 (when I was out west to run the Calgary Marathon) — these trips remain high, very high on my list of  my most favourite. Ever. Even just typing this I feel breathless just thinking of the gorgeous mountains and lakes.

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This trip with Buick Envision had us based in Priddis, Alberta, which is just outside of Calgary, staying at Azuridge Estate Hotel. This property feels remote (even though it’s not far from the city), and the fresh mountain air, along with the deer we spotted on our drive to the property, well, it was all very idyllic.

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Hitting the road with the Buick Envision was of course the main priority. While city driving often stresses me out, the quiet open roads around Priddis I actually love navigating (well, with the GPS keeping us on track), and the Envision was a smooth drive. And I’ll be honest with you; Buick is not a car brand I’d normally gravitate to, and while I’m not personally in the market for a car right now, I was impressed with how refined the car felt (and I liked how spacious it felt, and yet it wasn’t so overwhelming that I thought “I’ll never be able to park this thing!”). I’ve driven other compact SUVs and I can’t say the same about them. I spent more of my time inside the car than admiring it from the outside, and I think they have achieved making it feel luxe from the inside out.

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Another reason it was a smooth drive (as I learned from Buick)? They’ve developed quiet tuning so that your drives are peaceful. Things like acoustic absorbers for the door system to engine compartments have all been incorporated, as well as acoustic laminated windshield and front side glass. Which made for a very peaceful way to take in the incredible scenery of Alberta.

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On the first day, we set out with a route to check out the views with a few stops along the way. We visited Leighton Art Centre, where there’s the work of local artists (with a focus on landscapes), a lovely greenhouse-type room full of plants in this heritage home and a wide open view of fields with the mountains in the distance. I could’ve stayed all afternoon just taking in that view.

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No visit to the area is complete without a pit stop at Longview Jerky Shop, where the jerky is award-winning. We picked up two varieties, and then popped into the cute gas station across the road (where we couldn’t resist getting an ice cream cone — guess we were ready for dessert after that jerky!).

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The smooth drive as the sun set was peaceful and relaxing, and I got a chance to use the car’s wifi since my partner for the day of adventures was behind the wheel. Although I’ve been in vehicles with wifi before, when I thought about it more thoroughly, I wasn’t clear as to what the advantage is over using one’s data plan. But here’s the thing: you can get a wifi plan for the car as a one-off purchase, and say you’re on a road trip. Everyone in the car can use the wifi (well, up to seven devices); if you have kids, they can stream movies; and if you have teens (or um, if you’re me and always online) you can update social media and check emails using that wifi plan. And I know I’ve been on road trips where my smartphone can’t get a signal. This didn’t happen to me when using the Buick Envision’s wifi. And rates for a one-time data plan starts at $5 for 250MB for 24 hours with OnStar.

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The next morning, I chose to set off for Canmore, and I was paired up with two auto editors so it was refreshing to get a bit of their expert input on the technical side of things when it came to the car (and I impressed them with my knowledge of car brands I didn’t realize were no longer in production…I guess I only remember important things like what’s Justin Bieber’s latest haircut…). I’d chosen to drive to Canmore as I’d been earlier this year, as I mentioned, and I can’t get enough of mountains. Like, I think I need to buy one of those paintings with some inspirational mountain saying, that’s how much I love them. “Take me to the mountains.”

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We drove the Envision and our first stop was Verde Day Spa, where I got a massage; always appreciated but honestly, I was just so happy and stress-free already thanks to being in Canmore. The drive up there seemed effortless — and because I was a passenger this time (I was driving the first time I went to Canmore in the spring), I got to take in the mountain views to my heart’s content. But this is actually  the type of driving I love so I’d have been happy to be the driver for the day; the roads weren’t crowded, there are views that knock your socks off, and we had the spacious and comfortable Envision — but I happily Snapchatted and took photos for the trek. Post-spa, we had a delicious lunch at Crazyweed Kitchen (which I highly recommend if you’re in Canmore). I had a very good fried chicken sandwich, and started with a velvety soup of the day.

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After lunch it was sadly time to head off to the Calgary airport where we handed back the keys to the sleek ride (and now whenever I see the ad of the hot dad driving his baby around to help him fall asleep I am reminded of these sweet couple of days of driving it in the Rocky Mountain Foothills). Psst: there’s also a cute ad for the Envision featuring Schmidt (well, of actor Max Greenfield) from New Girl — oh, he makes me laugh.

Leave a Comment January 3, 2017

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