Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal: Le Gourmet Restaurant Review

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“Raddy” is back! Raj and I recently returned from our one-week vacation at the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We had a blast with his family and we managed to dine at five of the several à-la-carte restaurants there. Although this resort seems very popular (I have several colleagues who have visited this resort and we met many fellow Torontonians there along with many other Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Australians), there were not many recent online reviews of the à-la-carte restaurants and their menus to help us decide which restaurants would best accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences. So Raj booked all the dinner reservations blindly prior to the trip, hoping there would be something for everyone on the menus.
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While I was there, I made sure to take pictures of all the menus and of everything I ordered at the à-la-carte restaurants, so I could share them restaurant-by-restaurant on this blog to help future visitors with specific dietary restrictions and preferences decide with which restaurants to book dinner reservations. Let us start with the French restaurant, Le Gourmet

Wonderful ambiance.

Wonderful ambiance.

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Menu for the first two courses.

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The apéritif was lightly sweet and refreshing. It was a great way to prep the palate for all the food that followed. I cannot remember what was in it exactly, but it was alcoholic. There was a non-alcoholic version, which was also sweet and refreshing.

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Like the apéritif, the amuse-bouche was also a pleasant surprise and not on the menu. The salad and sauces were refreshing and tasty, but the gelée was too bland.

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“Fresh Salmon Salad – with a crown of shrimp in a citric vinaigrette, caper mousse and a mango emulsion.” This was not what I was expecting based on the description. I was expecting a bed of leafy greens with either slices of smoked salmon or chunks of freshly cooked salmon. Instead, there were no leafy greens and the salmon tasted like canned salmon flakes mixed with mayonnaise. The salmon and mayonnaise mixture was sandwiched between slices of avocado and then topped with shrimp. I found this “salad” to be too creamy and heavy for a first course.

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“Cream of Almond Soup – with a Serrano ham brunoise.” Raj’s mom and I ordered this, because we have never heard of an almond soup before and we were so curious. It was very tasty and smooth. It almost tasted like a cream of cauliflower soup with fine granules of almond throughout. Although I enjoyed it, I regretted not ordering the Shellfish Bisque soup like Raj did. I tried his and it was way tastier. His bisque tasted like a very flavourful prawn broth with a richer consistency and texture. I made him swap bowls with me for a bit, because his bisque was just that good!

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Main course menu.

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“Garden Vegetable Millefeuille – vegetables layered in thin leaves of pastry with fresh coriander and a smooth tomato coulis.” Once again, Raj’s mom and I ordered the same menu item, because we both were not in the mood for meat that day. We were both very disappointed in this dish, because we were expecting much more pastry for a “millefeuille”, which translates to “a thousand layers” in English. Instead, there were just two small triangular sheets of phyllo. However, the vegetables were perfectly cooked (al dente) and the tomato coulis added a nice touch of tangy sweetness.

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I forgot to take a picture of the separate dessert menu, but I ordered the papaya tart. It was layers of very thin papaya slices, which were lightly soaked in some kind of sweet syrup. The papaya slices were layered over a very thin pie crust and this was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I did not have any of the vanilla ice cream, but the papaya tart was decent.

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My supplementation protocol was very different in Mexico. Instead of vitamin D being my must-have supplement as I was out under the sun so much, digestive enzymes were my must-have supplement with all the delicious food on the resort.

Even though I indulged more than usual at the resort, it was a vacation after all and, as you will see, I kept all my dinners at the à-la-carte restaurants on the lighter side. Digestive enzyme supplements were definitely crucial to surviving this vacation, but at least I got the majority of my vitamin D during this trip via sunlight instead of supplementation. 😛

Stay tuned for the other four à-la-carte restaurant reviews!

XOXO,

Addy

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Raddy Recipe: “Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

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Now that it is finally warmer and sunnier in Toronto, I have been craving fresh salads and coconut water lately. So I wanted to create a coconut-based salad to complement a nice, cold, refreshing glass of coconut water. I came up with this “Cuckoo for Coconut” salad and it was delicious! This vegan salad is high in fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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“Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons creamed coconut, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 baby bok choy, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

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  1. Mix everything together.
  2. Let set for 5 minutes to allow all the flavours to mix and mingle.
  3. Enjoy!

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We packaged this salad in Mason jars and brought them with us to Scarborough Bluffs Park. The salad tasted even better with the beautiful view of Lake Ontario and with some coconut water on the side. I hope you get to try this recipe and enjoy it outdoors in the beautiful weather this summer!

XOXO,

Addy

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Raddy Recipe: Raj’s Mom Shows How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds!

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Both my dad and Raj’s dad LOVE jackfruit and would list it as one of their favourite fruits. Thus, Raj and I both grew up eating this fruit and we love it too. To me, this sweet and fleshy fruit tastes like something between a mango and a lychee. While my family would devour the tasty flesh of this fruit and toss away the seeds, Raj’s family would save the seeds and make delicious dishes with them. With jackfruit season upon us, I thought I would share one of Raj’s mom’s delicious jackfruit seed recipes.

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Recently, my parents bought some beautifully ripe jackfruit for Raj and his parents. When his mom told me she was going to save the seeds and cook with them, I was skeptical at first, because the seeds tasted so bitter and unpleasant in their raw state. However, when she cooked them in a simple stir-fry, they tasted delicious (similar to a cooked potato)! Not only are these seeds edible and tasty when cooked, but they are also a good source of vegan protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, and some B vitamins! I will never toss out the seeds from a jackfruit again! Here is Raj’s mom’s simple stir-fry recipe for jackfruit seeds (sorry for the lack of precise measurements, but like many mothers who cook a lot, Raj’s mom usually just “eyeballs” her measurements and goes by taste)…

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Raj’s Mom’s “Do-NOT-Throw-Away-The-Jackfruit-Seeds” Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh jackfruit seeds, each one cut in half
  • water to boil the jackfruit seeds
  • 1/2 cup frozen “Chinese potato” pieces (found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • few cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

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  1. Boil the fresh jackfruit seeds for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Then, drain and set them aside.
  2. In a pan on medium high heat, sauté the diced red onion with coconut oil until the onion pieces turn slightly brown and caramelize a bit.
  3. Add the halved jackfruit seeds and “Chinese potato” pieces into the pan and sauté them until everything is heated through.
  4. Add chili powder and salt to taste.
  5. Transfer stir-fry to a serving dish and serve immediately or garnish with a few cilantro leaves just before serving. Enjoy!

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The next time you eat jackfruit, I hope you save the seeds and try cooking with them! They are so delicious and nutritious!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: 1 Larabar = 8 Deliciously Healthy Cookies!

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Larabar Fruit and Nut Energy Bars are simple (contain no more than nine whole-food ingredients), gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, low-sodium, and vegan. They are delicious right out of the wrapper, but since they are made with only such few pure and raw ingredients, I thought to myself, “Why not bake with them?” So I experimented with that thought and managed to turn one Larabar into eight delicious and nutritious cookies! It works with all the Larabar flavours, but I will be showing you how with my favourite flavour, Coconut Cream.

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The Coconut Cream flavour contains ONLY dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil.

1. Select your favourite Larabar flavour (mine is Coconut Cream) and preheat the oven to 150°F.

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2. Cut the Larabar into eight equally sized pieces (cut the bar into halves and then, cut each half into quarters).

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3. With the palms of your hands, flatten each piece as much as possible into thin, round cookies.

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4. Bake the cookies for about 30 minutes or until crispy.

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5. Let the cookies cool down completely to get even more crispy and then, enjoy!

These cookies are so delicious and nutritious (high in fibre and healthy fats) since the only ingredient is Larabar. Also, this recipe, which makes eight bite-sized cookies from one Larabar, is great for portion control. So the next time you are craving cookies, try this out!

XOXO,

Addy

How to Survive Wedding Gluttony!

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With the weather in Toronto getting warmer and with summer right around the corner, more and more weddings are taking place. My family receives about one wedding invite per year. Raj’s family, on the other hand, receives numerous wedding invites every year, especially during the spring and summer. Although all these wedding reception parties will differ in number of guests, catering, decor, time schedule and/or venue, one thing remains constant… There is always an excessive amount of indulgent foods! The first wedding of the year that Raj and I attended this past Saturday at Whistle Bear Golf Club was certainly no exception! Here are some tips I used to keep the eating at a wedding party clean and lean:

1. Have a healthy breakfast and a light lunch beforehand in order to not fill up on hors d’oeuvres and to avoid the fried and unhealthy ones.

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Greasy hors d’oeuvres I avoided (from top left, clockwise): samosas, breaded and deep fried calamari, deep fried risotto balls, beef satay.

 

2. Inform your server well beforehand of any food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, and/or avoidances you may have. Bring digestive enzymes if you are concerned about cross-contamination. I informed my server that I was lactose intolerant, so all of my courses and beverages were dairy-free. For instance, my salad came without any cheese, my soup was dairy-free, and my coffee was served with almond milk. I also got a healthier fruit sorbet for dessert instead of the cheesecake. Just in case though, I brought and took some digestive enzymes containing lactase before dinner commenced.

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Dairy-free menu options that were offered due to my lactose intolerance (from top left, clockwise): potato and leek soup with crispy potatoes and truffle oil, fruit sorbet with fresh berries, coffee with almond milk, young kale and arugula salad with currants, roasted almonds, and lemon vinaigrette (no parmesan).

 

3. Four your main course, opt for a lean protein with complex carbohydrates and lightly prepared vegetables. I chose the baked chicken breast instead of the prime rib, the roasted potatoes (with the skin on) instead of the potato gratin, and lightly sautéed seasonal vegetables.

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Instead of the roast prime rib entrée with yukon and sweet potato gratin, seasonal vegetables, and red wine jus, I chose the baked chicken breast entrée with skin-on roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and truffle jus.

 

4. Nine times out of ten, these weddings will have open bar service. I definitely enjoy this, but I enjoy in moderation. I use the open bar service at wedding receptions as an opportunity to try a variety of drinks without having to drink all of everything. For instance, I ordered four different drinks throughout the night, but I only drank about a quarter glass of each drink.

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I only drank about a quarter or less of each glass. So I got to taste everything I wanted without going overboard!

 

5. After dinner and dancing at wedding receptions, there is almost always a late-night snack table. If you are hungry then, choose the lighter and healthier menu options. It should not be too hard to resist the indulgent foods, if you had a well-balanced, healthy dinner earlier. At this wedding reception in particular, the late-night snack table had an assortment of fresh cookies, sliders, a make-your-own-poutine station, and a variety of fresh fruit. Figuring out which one of these four options was the healthiest was not rocket science.

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I passed on the sliders, the make-your-own-poutine station, and cookies. Instead, I went straight for the fresh fruit at the late-night snack table! Tip: fresh pineapple contains the protease enzyme, bromelain, which helps you to digest protein!

 

If you get invited to a lot of weddings like Raj and his family, I hope these tips help you enjoy and get through wedding season healthfully!

XOXO,

Addy

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What a blast at our first wedding of 2015!

 

welliBOX: a Box of Supplement Samples Delivered to Your Door!

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Are you familiar with “beauty box” companies like Luxe Box or Birchbox that deliver a box full of beauty samples and/or full-size beauty products to your door every month or every few months? Well now there is a company called welliBOX that delivers monthly “supplement boxes” right to your door for all you health product enthusiasts out there like myself! I love the idea and value of it, so I had to share!

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Just the full-sized CanPrev Magnesium Bisglycinate 200 and the full-sized Orange Naturals D3 Drops are worth almost $40!

 

From only $12.50 per month with free shipping across Canada, you will get delivered monthly a box containing 5-10 supplement samples, at least $25 in instant savings on their online shop, at least one full-sized sample, and more, depending on the renewal plan you select. You can select for yourself or gift to someone one of the following three renewal plans:

Renewal Plans
Month-toMonth 6-month 1-year
Monthly Price(with FREE shipping) $14.95 $13.33 $12.50
What You Get Each Month ·    5-10 supplement samples·    $25 in instant savings on their online shop·    In-store discounts ·    5-10 supplement samples·    $30 in instant savings on their online shop·    An e-book for healthy living ·    5-10 supplement samples·    $30 in instant savings on their online shop·    An e-book for healthy living·    Live phone consultation with a Certified Nutritionist
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I finally got to try the new Garden of Life Mangolicious Raw Protein flavour thanks to welliBOX and it is delicious!

 

welliBOX also offers three different types of boxes, which are a “her welliBOX” (for women), a “his welliBOX” (for men), and a unisex “welliBOX Xtreme” (for female and male fitness buffs). Although I do not consider myself a fitness buff, I believe I got a “welliBOX Xtreme”. This particular one included a full-sized CanPrev Magnesium Bisglycinate 200 (which helps with muscle relaxation and retails for around $25), a full-sized Orange Naturals Vitamin D3 Drops (which supports bone and teeth development and is a necessary daily supplement for everyone, especially Canadians), two Garden of Life Mangolicious Raw Protein samples, a Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts sample, and a reusable BioCore bag. Even for someone like me who is surrounded by all kinds of high-quality natural health supplements everyday at work, I was super impressed with their great selection of samples! You definitely get way more than your money’s worth! I highly recommend this as a monthly treat for yourself and as gifts for the people you love. For more information, you can check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: Healthiest and Tastiest Low-Fat Onion Rings!

I prefer these healthy onion rings over the battered and deep-fried ones! These are NON-fried, nutritious, low-fat, high-fibre, high-protein, vegan, cancer-fighting, and best of all, super tasty!

I prefer these healthy onion rings over the deep-fried ones! These are NON-fried, nutritious, low-fat, high-fibre, high-protein, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, cancer-fighting, and best of all, super tasty!

This is one of my favourite snack recipes I have ever created! Who knew onion rings could be LOW-FAT (no deep frying involved), VEGAN, EASY-TO-MAKE, and SUPER TASTY?! With my and Raj’s free lecture on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition” coming up next Thursday night at The Big Carrot, I thought I should share my cancer-preventing onion rings recipe, in which onions and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are the primary ingredients. Raw onion rings are generously coated in chickpea hummus and then placed in a dehydrator for hours until crispy. The flavonoids and sulfur compounds in onions have been shown to lower the risk of various cancers. Similarly, the antioxidants (manganese and various phytonutrients) in chickpeas also help protect against cancer. These non-fried and nutritious onion rings take a long time to make, but they are well worth the wait! I actually prefer them over the battered and deep-fried onion rings!

Sunflower Kitchen makes the most delicious flavoured hummus! Their HUMMUS + is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and preservative-free!

Sunflower Kitchen makes the most delicious flavoured hummus! Their HUMMUS + is vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and preservative-free! I tried their “Edamame with Sesame Roasted Carrots” flavour for this batch of onion rings, but my favourite flavour is the “Curry Lentil with Spicy Cilantro Chutney”.

What you will need:

  • 2 medium onions (preferably Vidalia onions, which are sweeter than yellow, white, and red onions, especially when raw)
  • 1 container of Sunflower Kitchen HUMMUS + (I used the “Edamame with Sesame Roasted Carrots” flavour) or about 300 grams of good quality store-bought hummus or about 1 1/4 cup of homemade hummus
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • mixing bowl
  • dehydrator
I set the dehydrator temperature very low at 110°F to keep the onions "raw" for raw foodists, who can also substitute the Sunflower Kitchen HUMMUS + with raw hummus. If you want to lower the dehydration time significantly from 24 hours, you can increase the temperature to 150°F-160°F and this should cut the time in half (about 12 hours).

I set the dehydrator temperature very low at 110°F to keep the onions “raw” for raw foodists, who can also substitute the Sunflower Kitchen HUMMUS + with raw hummus. If you want to reduce the dehydration time significantly from 24 hours to about 12 hours, you can increase the temperature to 150°F-160°F.

  1. Slice onions into 1-centimetre-thick rings and separate each layer of rings.
  2. In a mixing bowl, pour in the hummus, add in the onion rings, and generously coat each onion ring with hummus. (I like to use my hands as the only utensils for this step.)
  3. Lay out the hummus-coated onion rings on the dehydrator trays.
  4. Dehydrate them at 110°F for 24 hours or until crispy.
  5. Let the onion rings cool completely in the dehydrator before removing them and indulging in them. (They get even crispier as they cool down.)
So healthy and delicious!

So healthy and delicious!

Hopefully, you all can check out this recipe! You do not need a fancy dehydrator. Mine is by Salton and was well under $100 (I cannot remember the exact price). I hope you all can also check out our free lecture on “Staying Cancer-Free Through Nutrition” this coming Thursday, March 26th at 7pm! 🙂

XOXO,

Addy