Tag: Mexico

Foodie Swellness: Cocktails for Cinco de Mayo


While Cinco de Mayo is meant to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire, Google tells me it’s become more of a celebration in the U.S. than it is in Mexico, with a focus on Mexican-American culture. I have to admit: the only way I’ve celebrated it ever is here in Toronto and it has involved going out to enjoy Mexican cocktails and tacos.

And since I love any reason to celebrate those two things, and I’m betting a bunch of you do as well, I’m sharing a couple of the recipes I got to try recently at a dinner with Don Julio Tequila held at El Rey Mezcal Bar so that you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo this weekend in the best way. But you’ll be making these cocktails all season long. Trust.


The Don Julio Paloma is the cocktail we kicked off the evening with. Palomas are one of my go-to cocktail orders in the summer, and yet I’ve never made them at home. The last time I had one before this dinner at El Rey was when I was in Mexico City in December, so now I’ll always associate them with that incredible city, which I’m dying to get back to as I didn’t get to try nearly enough of the food or saw only a tiny fraction of the sights. Hope to get back there soon. In the meantime, I’ll drink this cocktail and reminisce about the amazing sights I did see (I wrote about it for VITA)!



1 ½ oz. Don Julio Blanco

½ oz. Grapefruit Juice

 ½ oz. Grapefruit Sherbet

½ oz. Lime Juice

1 ½ oz. Soda

Pink peppercorn

Strawberry and chilli salt


Combine all ingredients except for soda in a shaker tin, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a glass that’s been half-rimed with salt and filled with ice. Top with soda and a grapefruit half-moon.

Grapefruit Sherbet

  • Zest of 1 grapefruit
  • Juice of 1 grapefruit
  • Equivalent amount of sugar to grapefruit juice by volume
  • 10 pink peppercorns

Add all ingredient to a pot and heat until sugar dissolves.  Allow to cool complete, then fine strain and use.

Don Julio Jalisco Express

The second cocktail we had as we enjoyed the starters was the Don Julio Jalisco Express. I love pineapple and enjoyed how bright and refreshing this cocktail is. I admit I can pretty much guarantee I am too lazy to make this cordial to enjoy this cocktail if I’m just at home myself, but I’d make it if I were hosting a summer BBQ.



1 ½ oz. Don Julio Blanco

½ oz. Trinidad Pepper

½ oz. Lime

½ oz. Black Pepper Cordial

½ oz. Fresh Cucumber Juice

½ oz. Fresh Lime

1 ½ oz. Soda



Combine all ingredients except for soda in a shaker tin, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with a straw, a cucumber ribbon and a fresh mint tip.

Trinidad Pepper, Lime and Black Pepper Cordial

  • Zest of 3 limes
  • Juice of 3 lime
  • Equivalent amount of sugar to grapefruit juice by volume
  • 5 Black peppercorns
  • 2 Trinidad peppers

 Add all ingredient to a pot and heat until sugar dissolves.  Allow to cool complete, then fine strain and use.






Leave a Comment April 29, 2019

Travel Swellness: How to vacay without letting the all-inclusive buffet and open bar ruin your diet


All of the guacamole, tacos, ceviche and margaritas, por favor!

What? Don’t tell me those aren’t your plans when you hit up an all-inclusive in Mexico! As if. Yep, that’s definitely what came to mind when I booked into my calendar my upcoming Cancun getaway thanks to the folks from  Expedia.ca.

I’m off to Playa Mujeres after carefully selecting a vacation on Expedia.ca and as you know, all-inclusive resorts are all about that over-indulging life. I think we all fall victim to wanting to get your money’s worth, and become gluttonous fools when faced with open bar and a buffet. 


So how to not let the all-you-can-eat buffet ruin your typically healthy and reasonable diet? I try to stick to the M.O. I do at home:

Start by assessing what’s being served at the entire buffet. If you just start at one end of the buffet, adding to your plate as you walk along, you may end up with foods in your plate you don’t enjoy as much as other dishes you come across later on. A quick walk-through (including the dessert table so you know if you need to save room for that) will prevent this from happening.

Serve yourself small portions. I used to take what would be a typical serving of, say, potatoes. But I often just want a taste of a dish, so I now serve myself one or two baby potatoes (meticulously scooping up just two as though I eat like a bird when I so don’t) rather than a ladle-full. It doesn’t make for a good foodie Instagram, haha, and I know I probably look like the kind of person who counts precisely how many almonds for a serving (it’s 23 almonds btw, these are the things you learn when you cover health and food…) , but if you only want a small taste, just a spoonful is just right. Also, if you want more, you can always get seconds. Better to take less to start with rather than over serving yourself and having it end up either in your belly because you’re mindlessly eating or because you feel pressure to eat your plate clean, or in the garbage.

If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. You’ve taken something from the buffet that wasn’t as tasty as you thought it would be. And maybe you were brought up to eat all the food on your plate, or maybe you feel rude or guilty with the staff seeing food that’s barely been touched on your plate, but that’s something you have to get over. I suppose it’s a bit like the Marie Kondo decluttering method but for eating; if it’s not bringing you joy, get rid of it.

Be as picky about what and how much you drink as you are when it comes to, oh I don’t know, who you date. Unless you’re a dating machine who swipes right all the time. Well, just be selective when it comes to your drinks, OK? We all know that booze is empty calories. And I remember my first few all-inclusive vacations, I drank sugary, frozen neon cocktails (because those were the only cocktails served)  from morning til night even though I found them generically sweet with little actual flavour and quite unappealing. That same trip, we stopped into a chic boutique hotel where we sipped mojitos by the pool bar–a proper mojito with fresh mint and top-shelf rum–and it was so refreshing and delicious and such a difference from the cheap drinks I’d been downing. Quality over quantity. If your resort serves incredible cocktails, well, you can try the drink-water-every-other-cocktail trick to keep your sugar and calories lower than it’d be if you were steady drinking daiquiris.



You are on vacation, though. So don’t be so rigid with how you approach your meals and drinking hat it gets in the way of enjoying yourself. We all deserve a treat now and then. You know I believe in a healthy balance when it comes to most everything in life. Also, when I start to feel like I’ve been over-indulging, it’s just extra motivation to go to the gym before parking myself in a cause longue, or going for a long walk on the beach. And in the end it’s just a week; a week of relaxing when it comes to your diet won’t be the end of you.

And, besides, guac is made with avocados, which is loaded with healthy fats (but that doesn’t mean you can go ahead and eat a mountain-size serving! Remember, I said a taste or two that you truly enjoy.)

My Expedia.ca vacation is booked (check out my tips on how to find the right resort for you here) and, although I’ve flown into Cancun airport several times to go to Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres, it’s my first time staying in Cancun, and I’m looking forward to fun in the sun with one of my besties. Any Cancun recos? I’d love to hear about them, and about what your vacay plans are. 

Leave a Comment December 1, 2016

Travel Swellness: Booking the right all-inclusive resort for you


With what’s been an extra hectic year for me, I’m very much in need of some R&R . So when Expedia.ca asked if I’d be interested in going to Cancun, my answer was a resounding, “HELL YEAH!”

Even better, I got to choose where we’d stay so I chatted with my friend who’s coming with and we carefully went through all of the options on Expedia.ca. Here are some things you need to ask yourself when making your choice of an all-inclusive vacation so you can ensure you end up in the right place for you (as someone who’s been to many resorts in the Caribbean and often I’m the one tasked with doing the booking, I think I have a pretty good track record):

What’s the upper limit of your budget? You can have your realistic budget but decide whether you have more money you can pour into your vacation budget. In my experience, you truly get what you pay for, and since at an all-inclusive you’ll be spending more time on the resort than, say, when you’re in New York  City where you probably just sleep in your hotel suite, you want something that meets your needs since it’s more than just being a place to crash.

How many stars do you want in your resort’s rating? If all you want is some beach time and you want to get away on the cheap, you can look at, in my opinion, three stars if you’re watching your pennies. But if you’re not willing to risk it in terms of food quality, interior design, beach, service and ambiance, I think you need to limit your search to four- and five-star properties. I’ve been lucky enough to stay at some incredibly beautiful properties, and well, you get accustomed to that (even though most of the place I visit for work are way beyond my means) and my goal for this vacation was to stay at a five-star resort, if possible, but we were both open to a four-star resort. While I have stayed at budget-friendly spots, we had a decent budget we had agreed on. Just remind yourself to have realistic expectations; you won’t have five-star service when you spend half the amount on a three-star property.

What are your non-negotiables and your nice-to-have features? We started out our search for an AI resort hoping for something chic and modern, boutique size, and adults-only. But upon comparing the various properties, and including the other factors above, our search, and yours, was quickly whittled down to a small handful of properties.

Thankfully, with all of the different ways you can customize the search function on Expedia.ca, it becomes a lot easier to find the right vacation for you. If you’re somewhat flexible on your travel dates, and want to save money, I found the Lowest Price Finder chart that’s at the top of your page of results a great help.

After weighing all of our options, we booked a trip to Finest Playa Mujeres by Excellence Group. I’ve been to Isla Mujeres a few years ago but never Playa Mujeres, however I have seen and heard great things about Playa Mujeres, and this property looks stylish and chic and while it’s bigger in size and not adults-only (which was on our initial wish list), there are plenty of pools (a dozen!) and extra fun things like a tennis court (along with complimentary lessons!) that makes us pretty confident we booked the kind of vacay we want. And we’re counting down the days…

With the cold weather here (and it’s only getting colder), you might want to start exploring your options  on Expedia.ca for a sunny getaway now! It’s a simple but not a super quick process if you want to ensure you end up at a resort that’ll meet your needs. And if you’re curious about Finest Playa Mujeres, stay tuned to my Instagram and Twitter mid-December!


2 Comments November 28, 2016

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