Nutrition Tips from Francis to Help You with Your Summer Bod!

As the summer season rolls around, achieving your summer body and fitness goals might be difficult with all the temptations lurking around. Not to worry, with these tips you can still stay on track to achieve your fitness and nutritional goals!

11326960_10153097235213052_1205787420_nHello! My name is Francis Tungcol, a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer who just recently graduated with a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Toronto. For as long as I could remember, I have always been passionate about living an active and healthy lifestyle. I’m an avid gym goer, dragon boat athlete, and a fitness junkie. I am also an advocate of prescribing exercise and physical activity into one’s daily life as it poses many benefits.

I’m excited to be a guest blogger here, to share my insights on fitness and nutrition. I hope that this post will help you understand the importance of being physically active at the same time give you tips on how to achieve your summer fitness goals through diet and nutrition.

As mentioned, being physically active is beneficial when incorporated into your lifestyle. I enjoy being physically active because I want to reap all the many health benefits it poses. These benefits include: improved physical and mental health, reduced risks of diseases, and increased chances of living longer. Exercise is also a great way to be social. However, exercise is just one part of the equation. Food and nutrition also plays a role.

Food is our source of energy. This energy is broken down into the macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Each serves a function in fuelling our bodies to move. Think of food as gasoline for a car. You have to fill the car with the proper gas in order for it to move and maintain the engine. Thus, food plays an important role in living an active lifestyle. Exercise and proper nutrition goes hand in hand in being physically healthy.

As for my diet, I tend to stick with familiar and staple food items (i.e. Food that are familiar and works well for my body). However, don’t get me wrong, I also like to venture out and try a variety of food. These staple food items include complex carbs and high-quality protein. Proper nutrition and diet allows me to perform in my sports, recover from activities, and fend off illnesses.

As the weather gets better, and we get invited to eat out, barbecues, and food festivals. Here are my tips to keep you on track as you venture out with food this summer.

  • Eat Complex Carbs

Complex carbs such as vegetables, brown rice, beans, and whole-wheat products are highly nutritious, contains lots of fiber and limits insulin response.

  • Eat High-Quality Protein

High protein diet helps maintain and/or builds muscle mass. High-quality protein sources mainly come from animal sources such as eggs, chicken, fish, and beef.

  • Stay Hydrated

Drink adequate amounts of water. Limit sugary drinks such as pop, juice, and sports drinks. Tea and coffee can be consumed moderately as they pose health benefits.

  • Portions

Eat a well-balanced diet and control your portions to prevent over-consumption and excess caloric intake. Consume the amount of calories needed to support your lifestyle.

  • Variety

Variety is the spice of life! Eat a variety of food sources from all the food groups. Remember different foods provide different types and amounts of nutrients.

  • Moderation

At the end of the day, everything comes down to moderation. Eat until you are satisfied and satiated instead of over-consuming and starving yourself.

By no means am I an expert nutritionist and a dietitian. These are my tips and recommendation on how to stay on track to accomplish your fitness goals or to change your diet. I hope these tips are helpful and enjoy your summer of food!

-Francis Tungcol

BKin, NSCA-CPT

11268341_10153097234563052_1148100425_nThank you Francis for your tips! I have exciting news everyone! Francis has a Youtube channel for those interested in getting more fitness and exercise tips AND he has been chosen to represent Canada in the U24 Open and Mix National Dragon Boat Team to compete at the 2015 IDBF World Nationals Championships in Welland, Ontario this August! If you can, please help out Francis get to World by following the link below. Thank you so much for your consideration! Let’s help another great athlete reach his dreams!

GoFundMe: http://www.gofundme.com/vuv3n4c

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8eP4Gun5RJasribWTHj23Q

Grilled Tofu Sandwiches

After eating at Bloomer’s a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to come up with my own spin on grilled tofu sandwiches. I came up with two easy recipes! If you haven’t cooked with tofu before, don’t worry! It’s very easy to cook and you can get it at most if not all grocery stores. I used an extra firm fresh tofu to make sure that it doesn’t break easily on the grill.

For the first recipe, I used an Asian style marinade with garlic, ginger, dried chili flakes, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, salt & pepper, brown sugar and lime juice.

Procedure:

  1. Using mortar and pestle, I crushed the garlic, ginger and dried chili flakes
  2. Then I squeezed half a lime into the mixture and used the pestle I mixed all of the ingredients together
  3. I then added the rest of the ingredients (soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, salt & pepper and brown sugar) in the mortar and used the pestle to combine the ingredients together
  4. Now because I didn’t need to marinade a lot of tofu, I didn’t get another bowl to mix the liquid ingredients with the garlic, ginger and dried chili flakes but if you will be using this recipe for a larger volume transfer the ingredients from the mortar into a larger bowl
  5. Slice the tofu into half an inch slices before adding the marinade.
  6. In a container, place the tofu then pour in the marinade. For this recipe, you don’t need to marinade the tofu overnight, just wait and let the tofu soak up the marinade for an hour or two
  7. After taking out the marinade, grill the tofu slices

IMG_4823For the second recipe, I used a dry rub with cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, cinnamon, cayenne powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper.

Procedure:

  1. I used equal amounts of spices for each spice/herb listed above with the exception of the garlic powder, and cayenne powder, approximately ¼ teaspoon. For the garlic powder, I added ½ teaspoon while a pinch of cayenne powder was enough for me. However, if you would like to make your rub spicier you can definitely add a little more into the mix.
  2. Mix all of the spices/herb together to make the dry rub
  3. Slice the tofu into half an inch slices
  4. Then sprinkle or lightly rub the dry rub on to the tofu slices without crumbling them
  5. Again, wait for a few hours to let the tofu absorb the flavours from the dry rub before grilling
  6. After waiting for an hour or two, grill the tofu slices.

For both sandwiches, I used my roasted garlic-sriracha mayo as a spread (mix together mayo, sriracha, lime juice (just use a wedge), pinch of salt and pepper using the mortar and pestle). With the marinated tofu, I added kale and quick pickle tofu in the sandwich. Meanwhile with the dry rubbed tofu, I added a cucumber slice and more of the quick pickle onion. You can definitely add different toppings in your sandwiches. For example, I used spring salad mix and roasted bell peppers with the Asian style marinated tofu before, or perhaps trying some sauerkraut.

Try out different flavour combination and let me know what you used by commenting below.

Enjoy!

Always,

K

Get out of your back-to-school funk!

Like most students, I am definitely not pleased that school is starting (…because 4 months of summer was NOT enough!). Granted this year will be the last year of my university experience, it’s also bittersweet. I’ve made some awesome friends and began my journey of self- discovery.

Here is a list of prep I try to do before school starts. Yes, I know it’s going to suck the first couple of weeks…let’s be realistic, the first month. So, hopefully this will ease the pain.

  1. Get a calendar if you don’t have one. Calendars or agendas are a great way of keeping track of your timetable, due dates, contact information and of course, the things that you actually need to do to pass your courses.
  2. Edit your music playlist. There’s something about good music that always seems to get you in the mood regardless of how tedious and annoying your chore may be. I always play music when I do laundry or even wash the dishes. It makes time go by so much faster, especially during your commute to school! You can even make a homework playlist or study list to make studying for tolerable!
  3. Pack your lunch. This is something that your mom probably told you, taught you to do or is doing for you until now (there’s no shame on the latter! Everyone’s gotta eat!). Bad circumstances seems to get worse than they actually are when you’re HUNGRY. Oh I’m sorry, HANGRY (hungry + angry)!
  4. Now, while you have the ball rolling, see if you can do a little breakfast prep while packing your lunch too! Because I already know, you’re not going to sleep early and of course wake up on time. Cut up some fruits for a quick fruit salad or smoothie in the morning. You may also have some pre-cooked oatmeal in a bowl or something totally easy, boil some eggs for a few hard boiled eggs to munch on your way to the bus stop.
  5. Set THREE different alarms. Why 3? Because you know you’ll sleep through the first alarm, the second will somewhat wake you up and the third you’ll get annoyed of the sound enough to get up. So instead of keeping on hitting the snooze button, just have 3. If this doesn’t work, place your alarm (in my case my phone) far away from your bedside. It will force you to get up to turn the alarm off.
  6. Turn the radio on as you’re getting dressed/ready. This is so simple but very enjoyable. I take about an hour to take a shower, get dressed, do my make up and pack my bag. As I do these things, the radio is blasting away with morning mixes, traffic updates and commercials here and there. Besides, morning DJ’s are hilarious!

Enjoy the your first day, week and month of school! The faster you get into your groove and follow a routine the faster you’ll get to enjoy school again with your friends, classes, or sports teams.

Always,

K

If you haven’t alread, check out my previous post on a list of basic kitchen essentials! Can you survive without mom around?

//

HIBISCUS CAFÉ

hibiscus2

Do you fancy vegan cuisine and around the Kensington Market area at Toronto? If so, this is an awesome little place for you! Emphasis on the little because it is a pretty small space. From what I can recall there’s only about 9-10 tables. Worry not, you can order ahead and come over for pick up.

hibiscus11

My friend and I ate right beside the giant window of the café. It was quite a beautiful sunny day so of course the sun lit up the whole café with ease. The whole place felt light, airy and simply quaint. They also had an awesome display at the front of the café behind the cashier. These shelves had an eclectic mix of vintage cameras, jars, rocks and candles. Aside from the charming and cozy ambience that the café had, they served great vegan dishes even meat lovers like myself would appreciate.

hibiscus4   hibiscus3

I had the pleasure of trying one of their savoury crepes with some vegan cheddar cheese, spinach, mango chutney, chopped pecans and poached pear. As you can imagine, I was quite hesitant tasting the ‘vegan cheddar’ considering I wouldn’t know exactly what the ‘cheese’ is made of, or whether you can qualify it as a cheese without the dairy aspect. Also, cheddar anything with some kind of chutney was definitely an odd mix. Initially thinking of the sharpness in cheddar cheese and how it may compliment sweet-spicy-tangy chutney? Well friends, all of the components got along together quite well. The vegan cheddar was not as sharp as I though it would be and it definitely had that oowy-goowy melted cheddar texture that blanketed the inner surface of the crepe. Although for me, the star of this dish was the mango chutney. It harmonized the components together as it has sweeter notes to compliment the pear, spicy notes to compliment the vegan cheddar and tangy notes to compliment the spinach. To give the crepe more body, I would suggest incorporating some avocado slices inside as well, instead of just using it as a garnish. I think avocadoes’ creamy texture would go well with the crunchy pecans and sooth the spiciness of the chutney.

hibiscus5

In addition, I forgot to mention that this restaurant is gluten-free! They used a vegan buckwheat batter for the crepe itself. Of course it doesn’t taste like your regular crepe batter. In fact, the crepe had a distinct, yet subtle buckwheat flavour. So, what does buckwheat even taste like? It tastes like a deep nutty flavour; some may also say it has earthy accents. This taste accentuated the pecans well.

For dessert, they offer a variety of sweet crepes as well as some vegan ice cream. Now, I make this kind of a habit. I usually ask the wait staff taking my order to pick a dessert for me consciously knowing that he/she may order me the most expensive dessert. Fortunately, no one has done that to me yet. That being said, I did ask for our waiter to choose between the ice cream flavours for me. So, he decided to scoop me some of his favourites, almond butter chocolate chip and pistachio ice cream. Boy was I glad I let him do that! I was going to pick something completely out there like earl grey ice cream. Both were filled with pistachio pieces and almond pieces. I immediately understood why he said his favourite was the almond butter chocolate chip. It wasn’t too sweet like some regular chocolate ice cream. It tasted more like mild dark chocolate almond ice cream. The sweetness was coming from both the nuts and the chocolate. Meanwhile, this pistachio ice cream was not green! Ordinarily, every time I would get some pistachio ice cream it has a light creamy green colour. There’s did not. I would imagine that they used coconut milk/cream instead of regular milk/cream. And so, this kind of competed with the pistachio flavour, almost to the point that it balanced it out. Yet it was distinctly a pistachio ice cream because of the myriad of crushed pistachios found in every bite. So it literally tasted like I was eating some pistachio nuts instead of an ice cream.

hibiscus6

Because this is a review, there are a couple of minor negative aspects. For instance, this place needs to expand. There’s just not enough room for diners, which was probably why they take orders for pick-up. Being in the heart of Kensington Market, I anticipate that their rent is a little high and so there needs to be some compromises made. I would suggest using the open space at the front of the restaurant for extra seating. Also, sturdier furniture would be appreciated. The ambience was great and all but it resembled more of a picnic indoors instead of a café. See, I’m not suggesting on buying uber expensive furniture, just something that doesn’t feel like it would easily fold or turnover with a heavy plate. I should also mention that their crepes are on the pricey side, about $10 or so per plate. But I think it is understandable with the ingredients that they chose to put in. Needless to say, the price may be a deterrent to some people.

Overall, it was a pleasurable experience. The service was pretty good and I would say that they have some daring flavour combinations. I would recommend this for people out and about looking for an awesome alternative lunch option.

 

 

Best,

-K

 

P.S. Here is a sample of their menu online: http://hibiscuscafe.ca

The name of the restaurant tickled my interest. References suggested that the hibiscus flower had multiple meanings but is commonly symbolized for ‘delicate beauty’. I think that speaks volumes about the restaurant once you’ve experienced dining there! Check them out and tell me what you think! J