In January, the New Year is spread before us like a blank canvas, making it a great time to start healthier habits. But, let’s be honest: changing your eating habits is difficult. We all lead busy lives, and often, as we try to accomplish a thousand daily tasks, we lose track of what and when we eat.
That said, modifying your diet doesn’t have to be overwhelming; try starting with one healthy meal a day. And if you’re feeling harried or too pressed for time to make it yourself, Toronto is home to a myriad of healthy eateries, raw food boutiques, and juice bars to step in and help.
In Leslieville, one of these healthy-eating supporters is Belmonte Raw. Located at 1022 Queen Street East, just east of Boston Ave., this take-out bar for organic, vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free raw food is the concept of Carol Belmonte, who launched the business in 2009. What started with Carol bringing salads on a bicycle to hungry office workers, has - two years later - blossomed into Belmonte Raw. Situated on busltling Queen Street East in hip and happening Leslieville, Belmote Raw - the only business of its kind in the city - is thriving!
For many, the words "vegan", "sugar-free", or "dairy-free" can be somewhat intimidating; for others, they represent a way of life, or even a medical necessity. As we all know, once we're accustomed to a particular diet, it’s difficult to change our habits. That’s why Belmonte Raw offers a variety of options that can assist in the transition toward healthier eating. Whether you’re looking for a daily supplement, a delicious meal, or a seasonal reboot, they’ve got you covered!
At Belmonte Raw, you will be able to pick up anything from a morning smoothie to a fresh salad or a wrap to a variety of tasty sweet treats. For those interested in committing to cleansing their body of built up waste and toxins accumulated over the winter months, Belmonte Raw offers cold-pressed and organic juice packages designed specifically to help your body detox. The cold-pressed juices are made daily (and can be delivered directly to your home or office!)
I stopped by one afternoon to satisfy a craving for a fresh salad and perhaps a sweet reward for dessert. It was late in the day but luckily there were a few bowls left to choose from. The salads are made daily, on site, and filled with nutritious goodness. I picked up a bowl of 'Spaghetti & Neatballs'. The salad is a raw-food version of spaghetti and meatballs that is not only clever but delicious! The Neatballs are made of sunflower seeds, parsley, cilantro, garlic, and onion power, with tamarind, lemon juice and cayenne. These little morsels rest on a bed of spinach, arugula, almonds, dried zucchini, squash and hemp seeds. But what is spaghetti without the sauce? Belmonte took care of that with a creamy pesto made from cashews, lemon juice, Himalayan salt, sunflower pesto, and sun-dried tomato.
The Sicilian Green Bean salad is another popular choice. it’s filled with delicious ingredients like spinach, arugula, green beans, sun-dried tomato, olives, red pepper and red onion, sprouted beans and lentils, hemps seeds, and pea shoots, all topped with a sunflower pesto. As you can tell, these are not the standard mixed-greens salads you may expect; a lot of work and creativity is put into these flavourful bowls. But if you came by looking to crush a chocolate craving, Belmonte offers chocolate "thimbles" made of cacao, cashews and carob. If you’re a fan of peanut butter and chocolate together, you’ll love these. Actually, they go well with a glass of non-dairy milk!
The biggest draw, however, might be the refrigerator case filled with bottled juices. Belmonte developed the recipes herself, favouring the more savoury blends. A handy tip if you're not sure what to get, the juices tend to run from mildest/sweetest at the top of the case to more intense blends at the bottom. Refresh is a sweet, spicy and tangy juice thanks to invigorating ingredients like carrot, apple, beet, lemon and ginger. The dairy-free milk is great option, as well. The milks are nut and seed based, lightly sweetened with dates and flavoured to perfection. Refreshing addition to your morning routine or anytime when you crave something soothing. My favourite is the Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed milk. It’s sweet and creamy and slightly rich- altogether a flavourful balance.
Given the quality and the work that is put into all the options on the menu, all the items are very reasonably priced. Even if you’re someone who would rather choose a hearty hot dish over a salad or a smoothie, you will be surprise how flavourful and filling these dishes are. I’m not a raw foodie or a vegan but I enjoy eating healthy. Let’s face it, in Toronto over the last few years our food choices have narrowed to burgers, sandwiches and thin-crust pizzas. Although I love all of these options, I also enjoy fruits and vegetables. Not particularly for health reasons, but simply because they taste really good. So it’s nice to know that there are eateries in Toronto that offer healthy options and put as much thought into the vegan dishes as chefs do to a charcuterie platter. So as a New Year's resolution, instead of counting calories, let’s choose food that provides our bodies with more energy and vitality!
1022 Queen Street East
Monday - Friday: 7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Weekends - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Along with our faves like Te Aro Cafe or Delica Kitchen, Belmonte Raw is yet another fabulous spot to discover in Leslieville. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have this healthy food boutique only steps from your home? Check out this urban-cool residence offered for sale for $690,000 and what we call —> Contemporary Contentment On Carlaw In Leslieville
Have we piqued your interest in this neighbourhood or any of the other great Toronto neighbourhoods we specialize in? We welcome hearing from you!
~ The Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage
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