Partying Alongside Peppers, Corn, and Beans – A Spotlight on the Best Shrimp Burritos at Burrito Boyz!

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I’ve come to the realization that I just love seafood tacos and burritos (and veggie ones!) more than I love ones that have poultry or red meat in them.  I daydream about having seared ahi tuna tacos, flaky white fish on corn tortillas with seafood sauce (or tartar sauce) and guacamole, fish with tons of beans and corn and peppers, and finally, the shrimp burritos and quesadillas from Burrito Boyz!  Although I have a mega soft spot for the mind-blowingly delicious pulled pork taquitos from Tequila Sunrise just down the street on Adelaide St. West, I can’t get over how delightful the seafood burritos and quesadillas are at BB, especially the shrimp ones.

If you love seafood and if you enjoy noshing on big burritos of amazing quality, you need to eat and savour the shrimp here.  I love shrimp and it’s the honest to goodness truth when I say that I haver never had shrimp that tasted this wonderful, not even in dim sum!  Shrimp in dim sum is heavenly, but the shrimp burritos at Burrito Boyz?  Out of this world and over the moon.  The burritos (shrimp ones are $7.08 for a small and $7.96 for a large) are stuffed with jumbo shrimps that are soft, juicy, and plump and, given how all the prices at Burrito Boyz are under $10, you really appreciate the quantity and quality of food.  A large burrito could easily feed me for two meals and during my very first Burrito Boyz meal two and a half years ago, even my small veggie burrito rewarded me with leftovers to eat on the bus ride home at the end of the day!

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It was my lucky day – Burrito Boyz wise – the day I had this fabulous shrimp burrito because if you’re familiar with the popular eatery or if you remember the first post I made about them back in July, you’d know that crowds line up out the door for the great food here.  There must have been a guardian angel looking out for me because for the first time in two and a half years, I passed by the famous T.O. burrito hole-in-the-wall, glanced through the front window, and saw several empty seats beckoning at me like blinking radars.

I could not believe my eyes.  There were spots to sit?!  There wasn’t a line curving around the ordering and waiting area and up the stairs, out the front door?!  People weren’t shouting orders at the top of their lungs so they could be heard over the chatter of the hungry?!  I didn’t have to stand outside right at 11am and run inside to snag a spot?!  Well, colour me shocked and ecstatic!  Opportunities like this didn’t come easy (or at all, really) so I pounced and had myself one of the most delicious lunches ever.

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You have free reign when it comes to toppings – if you don’t like it, don’t pick it!  Along with refried beans and rice, and sour cream on the side (I love dunking stuff in or spooning it on myself), I chose black beans, corn, lettuce, green peppers, green onions, guacamole, and burrito sauce to party-harty alongside the juicy, scrumptious shrimps.  The combination of toppings was fantastic and I can say with absolute certainty that THIS is my favourite burrito from here!  It took a few tries to hit the nail on the head, but the process leading up to uncovering my ultimate favourite was incredibly yummy and enjoyable.  If every process was like this, we’d be smooth sailing.

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Burrito Boyz is located at 218 Adelaide St. West, west of Simcoe St. and east of Duncan St.  They have a number of locations in Toronto and the GTA, including Bramption, Mississauga, Streetsville, and Waterloo.  Their 2nd Toronto location resides in the neighbourhood of Little Italy at 575 College St. West, just west of Manning Ave. in between Bathurst St. and Ossington Ave.  For more info on their menu and other locations, click here.

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“Let’s Enjoy Food” – The Joy of Freshii

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If you recognize this photo, it’s because I have it posted in my “For the Love of Food” page up on my menu bar 🙂  This photo was taken at my favourite Freshii restaurant location (Yonge St. and St. Clair) and it epitomizes everything I feel food should be about.  Food is about enjoyment, relaxing, and nourishing every part of you and because of our hectic day-to-day lives, I don’t think we take that time for ourselves enough.  You take things to go and rush off to your next appointment, you eat and work at the same time.  Heck, sometimes you may even skip a meal because you’re “too busy”. 

I love Freshii to death and it was about a year and a half ago when I first discovered it.  My boyfriend and I were taking a leisurely stroll around the Yonge & St. Clair neighbourhood two Hallowe’ens ago and I was intrigued by the bright green Freshii sign and the spiffy little menu screen outside the door.  I quickly scanned a few menu items and picked out a few words and phrases: “brown rice”, “spinach”, “burritos”, “lemongrass soup”, etc. etc.  I instantly thought, “good god, I need to eat here”.  And so we did.  And we’ve been happily squeeing over our Freshii food ever since.  And I mean squeeing.  I hug my warm little rice box and lay my cheek on it and sigh with contentment.  I am not embarrassed by my show of affection; it makes me happy 😀

Freshii is fantastic in terms of options.  It’s wholesome good food that’s healthy and energizing.  Think brown rice bowls, fresh mixed green salads (spinach, romaine, spring mix), soups in steaming chicken or lemongrass broth, burritos and wraps made with whole wheat tortillas, rice noodles, a gazillion fruits, vegetables, beans, and protein-rich add-ons for every meal, and frozen yogurt.  Even though I marked Freshii as a “veggie eat”, rest assured for those of you who enjoy meat, there’s plenty of meat options here too!  Freshii is all about customizing meals to fit your diet, your lifestyle, and your nutritional needs.  There are meals on the menu board for you to choose from, and you can also customize your meal by choosing a dish (for example, brown nice, salad, or soup) and checking off all the toppings and ingredients you want in it.  And this is where the fun part comes in!

The mini clipboard with menu paper and pencil!  Although I absolutely LOVE their “Bliss” bowl (brown rice with lots of yummilicious things which I will blog about another time), I also get so giddy creating my own meal, choosing all my own ingredients and toppings, and anticipating with glee how awesomely delicious it will be when it’s made.  Basically, you start off with either a salad, a bowl, wrap/burrito, or soup at the starting price.  Then you let yourself go NUTS with the ingredients!  There is a very long list of fruits, vegetables, and beans that you can choose without any extra charge and then you go about deciding what kind of  dressing or sauce you want (if applicable).  If you want other options such as meat and cheeses or extra sauce and dressing, you just add the extra charge designated by those lists.  Easy peasy!  So, what did I choose for this time?  Look below and you will see.

I was in conniptions over how delicious this was!  Not that I’ve ever eaten anything here that I haven’t loved, but I was just nom, nom, noming up the wall.  I had myself a brown rice bowl with black beans, sweet corn, roasted red peppers, spinach (I replaced the tomatoes I had initially checked off; totally worth it), mushrooms, cilantro, added avocado and blue cheese, and had it all dressed in extra virgin olive oil.  OH.MY.GOD.  I scarfed this heavenly box of brown rice, veggies, beans, and cheese down faster than my boyfriend did. 

I was hungry, it was so yummy, and I felt SO GOOD after.  The kind of good that makes you feel strong, energized, and ready to run a marathon.  Okay, maybe not a marathon, but I certainly could have flown up several sets of stairs Rocky-style.  And it blows my mind because it’s rice and, if you’ll recall from Monday’s post about Mela, rice and pasta and starches are filling and they can unfortunately lead to sluggishness and overall discomfort during the day with digestion and all.  Not with Mela and not with Freshii either.  It lives up to its name.  So fresh and so good.

Whenever I eat at Freshii, I have such a sense of contentment.  I sit down with my box of rice and enjoy my meal.  No rush.  No crowdedness.  Not to knock other locations, but I’m telling you, the most enjoyable spot to eat is the St. Clair one.  For one, there’s more than  just a bench bar to eat at.  For another, there are windows up at the front for nice sunlight to stream in (I’m not entirely fond of food courts and being stuffy indoors with lackluster lighting.  And yes, this partially has to do with my pickiness about pictures!).  It’s a great place to eat if you’re looking for healthy options that can be molded to your needs, and I’d say that most meals are under $10.  If you go wild with things like cheese and meat, you’ll probably exceed that price point, but if you’re solely vegetarian or vegan, you can definitely do a meal for about $6 or $7. 

As well, Freshii is environmentally conscious, providing recycling bins, biodegradable containers (you can bring in your own bowl too!) and providing food that is sustainable and environmenally responsible in its growth and harvesting methods.  It’s food with a conscience, a mission, and a statement and it tastes damn good.  I can’t wait to do more Freshii posts and share more photos and combinations with you guys.  I love it that much 😀

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Freshii in Toronto serves 11 locations in the city with one also serving Mississauga.  Click here for a list and map of specific locations, as well as more information on Freshii’s menu, goals, and mission statement.  The Yonge and St.Clair Freshii is located at 1560 Yonge St., just north of St. Clair Ave. on the west side of Yonge.

Because I Love Black Beans and Avocado That Much! A Black Bean Burrito My Way

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Following from yesterday’s Fresh post, I’m going to continue declaring my love for black beans!  I loved my black bean burrito dish from Fresh SO much that I wanted to create my own version.  And oh my goodness was this ever delicious and satisfying.  We had a bunch of whole wheat tortillas left over from a previous tortilla night (you know, those nights when you make a batch of chicken or ground beef, make some salsa, chop up a bunch vegetables, that kind of thing) and I had a great idea: make bean burrito filling to go with it!  

It was really fun preparing for this meal just because it felt like it was coming more from me than it was from my mum who does the cooking in the house, you know?  From the grocery shopping to the black bean mashing with my potato masher, it felt good to see a meal from start to finish.  Not to mention that even though my family isn’t vegetarian, it’s been so cool seeing them embrace more vegetarian meals and foods.  Even my carnivore of a brother loves the soy cheese I bought!  😀  He was little weirded out by my meat-less meal, but hey, if I can get him to really like soy cheese, I’ll eventually be able to get him to eat a meal without meat one day!  The black beans were from President’s Blue Menu and they were really good.  A few rinses in the colander and they were good to go.  I had myself a field day with this meal: lots of baby spinach, a handful of alfalfa sprouts, mashed black beans, wedges of avocado with freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkling of green onions.  SO YUMMY.  Dinner is served! 😀

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Vegan Chili to Warm Up the Winter

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On winter days, after a grueling day at work or school, waiting out in the cold for the bus, and shovelling the never ending heaps of snow off your driveway, you crave warmth and comfort.  Something you can curl up with on the couch with a blanket in front of the television.  Maybe a bowl of soup, or a warm bowl of rice or noodles in broth…or maybe chili.  I’ll be honest, I was never the biggest fan of chili.  Between soup and chili, I would choose soup any day.  But I’m very pleased to say The Grad Lounge gave me a newfound appreciation for it, and I think I know why.  I hate meat chili.  Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word, but it makes me go “blech”.  And The Grad Lounge’s chili is vegan with enough vegetables to cover a corn field and it SO hearty and juicy and yummy and GOOD.  It’s the kind of food where each spoonful is just as enjoyable as the last and you can’t seem to get yourself to eating it.  THAT GOOD.

Now, I may cancel out the vegan and make mine simply vegetarian by adding a dollop of sour cream (because I love sour cream the same way I love cream cheese!  Wow, what a dairy whore I am), but the chili on its own is accompanied by a roll or corn muffin, and comprised of chopped green and red bell peppers, onions, celery, and jalapeño peppers, as well as plenty of red kidney beans, green lentils, black beans, crushed plum tomatoes, and corn.  The vegan chili is seasoned with Mexcian chili pepper oregano, ground cumin and coriander, and sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper.  This is a Grad Lounge staple; it’s available every day, hot and fresh and by far the best chili ever! 😀  This owns meat chili any day and I’m so glad this bowl of awesomeness brought me over to the other side of the pond!  This item has quite the faithful following and fanbase.  It should have an appreciation club.  I’d totally be a member.

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  And just a reminder that The Grad Lounge and GSA are hosting a Dinner & Dialogue event tomorrow in the Grad Café from 5:30pm-7:30pm.  Free movie screening (Spike Lee’s ”4 Little Girls”) and free food with some thoughtful discussion about the movie afterward.  All grad students are welcome!  And thank you again to Mike and Paul for helping me out with the ingredients, I really appreciate it!