What I Eat in a Week – Meal Inspiration!

What I Eat in a Week – Meal Inspiration!

Hey everyone!

So recently, I’ve been getting lots of questions about my weekly diet. As I’ve been creating more fitness & nutrition content, a lot of you are interested in the foods that I eat! All week, I’ve been filming my meals for a “WHAT I EAT IN A WEEK” video. Since it’s tough to get through a handful of recipes in a YouTube video, I thought I’d publish them here.

Enjoy – and happy eating!


BREAKFAST

Overnight Oats

IMG_0113

I’ve already blogged my recipe for Overnight Oats – you can find it here!

Morning Scrambled Eggs

IMG_0002

The key to a great egg breakfast are your scrambled eggs! To get the perfect breakfast, beat 2-3 eggs in a bowl, and add to a medium-high skillet. Begin moving the eggs around after 4-5 seconds, and continue to move the eggs until completed. After 20 seconds or so, take the skillet off the heat and continue to move the eggs around. After 10 seconds, place the skillet back on the heat, and cook for another 20 seconds. Your eggs should be perfect! Next, slice a naval orange to get your Vitamin-C. Fry up a slice or two of turkey bacon, and serve with coffee!

Avocado Toast with Poached Egg

AVOCADO_TOAST

I start by preparing my poached egg. Simply get yourself a zip-lock sandwich bag, and spray a small amount of oil into one corner. Crack the egg into the oiled corner, and air-close the bag. Place in a shallow pot of boiling water for 6 minutes. Next, mash 1/2 an avocado with 1 tsp of honey. Spread on a toasted slice of rye bread, and place poached egg on top. Serve with coffee.

Banana Oat Pancakes

BANANA_PANCAKES

I’ve already blogged my recipe for banana oat pancakes – you can find it here!


LUNCH

My Healthy Cobb Salad

IMG_9956

Here are my ingredients for the salad:

  • Base: Baby Spinach
  • Dressing: Balsamic vinegar with olive oil
  • Toppings: Turkey bacon bits, 1 egg, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, and low-fat cheddar cheese

Vegan Toasted Sandwich

RED_PEPPER_SANDWICH

Start by roasting 5-7 slices of red peppers in the oven at 450F for 20 minutes. Next, cook 1/4 of a white onion and a handful of sliced cremona mushrooms in a skillet until the onion is translucent. Toast a couple slices of rye bread, and spread a tbsp of salsa on top. Stack your cooked vegetables, and enjoy!

Open Face Veggie Burger

IMG_9995

  • Base: 1 slice of whole wheat bread, toasted, with ketchup
  • Patty: 1 veggie burger slice
  • Cheese: low-fat cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: Caramelized onions, salsa, ketchup, and mustard, cooked on a low heat for 10 minutes

Dumplings with Light Salad

IMG_0007

Salad: Start with a handful of baby spinach in a bowl. Add carrots, cucumbers, and any other desired vegetables. Mix in a light dressing (I used balsamic vinaigrette), and your side is complete!

Dumplings: I used shrimp & pork dumplings, with a side of soy sauce. These are store bought.


DINNER

Vegan Chili

VEGAN_CHILI

love my vegan chili recipe! Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a large pot with 2 tbsp of olive oil, mix 1 chopped onion, green pepper, and mushrooms until soft.
  2. Add 1 can of tomatoes, and stir until hot.
  3. Add 1 cup of white beans, 1 cup of kidney beans, and 1 cup of corn.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup of mustard, and 1/4 cup of ketchup, and stir until incorporated.
  5. Add 1 tbsp of chili powder, and 1/2 tbsp of paprika.
  6. Add 2 cups of water, and bring back to a boil. Cook for 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
  7. Serve with white rice.

Quarter Chicken Dinner

IMG_9960

This is my go-to dinner! It’s super simple to make, and will ensure you spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. Here’s how to make each section:

Chicken Quarters: In a freezer bag, marinate chicken with your desired spices & 1 tbsp of olive oil. Bake in a 425F oven for 45 minutes (I’ve tested the chicken multiple times, and 45 minutes is my sweet spot!).

Potato Wedges: Peel the potatoes to your desire (or don’t peel at all!), and cut into wedges. Mix the wedges with a sprinkle of salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Bake at 425F for 30 minutes. To align with chicken quarters, place in oven 15 minutes after the chicken goes in.

Corn: Mix 1 cup of cooked corn with 1/2 tsp of honey, and a sprinkle of salt.

Beef Pot Roast

IMG_9980

I’ve already blogged my recipe for Beef Pot Roast – you can find it here!

Protein-Packed Pasta

IMG_9988

Growing up, my mom would cook our tomato sauce with beans to help bulk up the protein. Here’s my version:

  1. Begin cooking pasta, with lightly salted boiling water. Follow individual cooking instructions.
  2. (while the pasta is cooking) In a lightly oiled skillet, cook diced onions until relatively soft. Add white beans, and continue to soften for another 8 minutes or so. Add minced garlic, and stir for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, and stir until hot.
  3. Add pasta to sauce, stir, enjoy!

SNACKS

Sweet Potato Fries

FRIES

While this specific platter of fries was from frozen, I often make my sweet potato fries from scratch! Here’s my recipe for the from scratch version (consider 1 sweet potato as 1 serving):

  1. Peel 1 medium to large sweet potato until all skin is removed. Rinse before cutting.
  2. Cut the sweet potato in half *vertically*, then continue to cut strips out of each half. If the strips are too wide, cut each strip vertically again to reach desired shape.
  3. Place the uncooked strips in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
  4. Cook in a 425F oven for 25 – 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  5. Enjoy with chipotle mayo (chipotle flakes + mayo) or metchup (ketchup + mayo)!

My Jazzed Up Protein Shake

PROTEIN_SHAKE

Water + protein powder is boring, so here’s a jazzed up version that’ll get you excited about extra protein!

  1. To a blender, add 1 frozen banana, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp peanut butter, 1 cup of almond milk, and ice.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Enjoy immediately!

Pro tip: Brands like Silk make an amazing unsweetened vanilla almond milk, that’s just 30 calories/serving! A GREAT replacement for cow’s milk.

// michael rizzi


Michael Rizzi is a 23-year-old YouTuber & blogger from Toronto, Canada. Follow his blog to stay up-to-date on fresh content!

Why Instagram “pods” are a waste of everyone’s time

Why Instagram “pods” are a waste of everyone’s time

Last week, I published a blog titled “Why it’s important to talk about fake social media followers…” –  and a lot of you really enjoyed my insight into the topic, being a recent grad in Communication Studies. I thought I’d write about a similar issue that’s been a hot topic on Instagram over the last year: Instagram pods.

What are Instagram pods, you might ask?! Simply put, an Instagram pod is a group of influencers that agree to engage with their fellow members’ Instagram content. This takes place in the form of likes, comments, and follow-backs. Many Instagram pods communicate via Instagram’s direct-message platform, but many have shifted to WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Before we get into things, let’s establish what led to the popularity of Instagram pods. In 2017, Instagram stopped displaying content in chronological order, which angered a lot of users. As a chronological platform, all Instagrammers we’re given an equal opportunity to achieve engagement. If Influencer A uploaded a picture at 12:00pm EST, and Influencer B uploaded a picture at 12:03pm EST, Influencer A would appear after Influencer B. Everyone felt that their content had a fair shot to receive engagement.

As a replacement, Instagram opted for an algorithm-based platform that displays content with an interest-based approach. This came at no surprise, with platforms such as YouTube & Twitter already opting for an algorithmic approach. With an algorithm at the forefront of content dissemination, engagement became key. Suddenly, flashy follower counts were reprioritized to the background, and engagement was king.

As such, Instagram pods are essentially a big F-U to the algorithm’s dissemination. Influencers joined pods to increase their ‘organic’ engagement (I use this term very lightly), in order to be prioritized by the algorithm. Think of the algorithm like a mediator; if the mediator sees a wealth of engagement upon upload of an Instagram picture, it increase your chances of ending up on the explore page.

I’d like to take a moment to say that I’m not part of an Instagram pod. However, I’ve been contacted by a few different pods to get me to join their groups. In one instance, the pod solicitor cited their “500 members…with 400k+ followers” to entice my interest to join. The pod solicitor even attached a well-produced video, highlighting the pod rules and perks. The pod rules included “liking all members’ posts” and “only quality comments! 4 words + emoji!” Yikes. That seems like a lot of work for extra engagement…

img_1720.png

Let me be clear: this situation is not the exact same thing as purchasing fake followers. The likes, comments, and overall attention is real. There are real people liking and commenting on each other’s posts, which appears harmless and unified! But let’s talk about where this situation enters the grey zone of ethics. Let’s say TV Network X is selling commercial space to prospective advertisers. The advertisers are informed on TV Network X’s demographics, including its main audience’s age, gender, and location. What the advertisers don’t know is that 30% of TV Network X’s viewers are other advertisers, who are primarily concerned with advertising their own set of products and services. Would it be ethical for TV Network X to continue along this path? I would argue not.

Instagram pods, much like TV Network X, are contributing to inflated engagement. As such, advertisers are painted a picture that isn’t entirely true. An advertiser might spend X% of their marketing budget on an influencer campaign, only to receive a fraction of the authentic engagement they were purchasing. While members of an Instagram pod might argue that their arrangement is simply “artists supporting other artists,” the fact is that inflated engagement numbers really screw with advertisers’ view of Instagram.

Here’s where the story gets unfortunate: there’s no real way to tell if an Instagram account is utilizing inflated engagement, since the comments and likes appear natural. This means that brands and agencies have to rely on both quantitative and qualitative aspects of an influencer’s advertising worth, which can be very tricky. The only indicator of a pod member might be their comments section, which would be filled with engagement from other influencers. This isn’t the best metric for measuring, as one might argue that comments from other influencers are simply “friends engaging with friends.”

So if we can’t properly tell which Instagram account is part of a pod, what can we do? Sometimes the hard truth can be the best medicine. If you’re part of an Instagram pod, you are wholeheartedly wasting your time. You’re spending hours daily, engaging with other Instagrammers in hopes of receiving similar attention. Instead, you could spend those hours drafting unique ideas that help build your brand from the ground up. Now, it might take a bit longer to receive the desired engagement, but you’ll be assured that your time was not well wasted.

Travel host & producer, Gunnarolla, once tweeted, “Are you really an “influencer” when all of your engagement comes from other “influencers”? Trying to wrap my head around this…”. I remember when he tweeted this last year, but I didn’t fully understand it until I started learning about Instagram pods. The core of the word is influence – the ability to persuade an audience towards your lifestyle or brand.  If the only people you’re able to influence are other people trying to influence, the process of influencing becomes meaningless and arbitrary.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 7.10.32 PM

There’s no shortcut to success as a creative. Whether you’re a writer, video creator, or photographer, the key to fulfillment is creating content. Turning content creation into a numbers game ruins it for the rest of us. When you work hard, act as ethically as possible, and create content that you’re proud of, the audience will follow.

// michael rizzi

Michael Rizzi is a YouTuber and blogger from Toronto, Canada. Follow his blog for up-to-date posts that will brighten your day. 

50 songs that will ELEVATE your workout!

50 songs that will ELEVATE your workout!

Having a solid foundation for anything you do in life is vital. You wouldn’t go skiing without getting the proper equipment to glide your way down the mountain. So why would you head the gym without a solid playlist full of bops?! Search no further! Here is my master list of gym-pumping songs that will take your workout from zero to hero. Download links for the Spotify and Apple Music playlists will be available down below!

WORKOUT_GIF

Work It – Missy Elliot

This BOP from Missy Elliott’s 2002 album, Under Construction, will teleport your workout to hip-hop heaven. Try Work It during your next weight lifting session or light run!

Get Ur Freak On – Missy Elliot

Hate sprinting? Think again. You’ll be freakin’ your way through an intense cardio session with this 2001 hit.

BRITNEY_GIF

Toxic – Britney Spears

Arguably the best pop song of all time, Toxic is a Britney song that NEEDS to be on your workout playlist. The catchy chorus is perfect for dreadful cardio exercises, or weight workouts with a lot of repetition.

Viva La Vida – Coldplay

Not your average workout song, but the deep orchestra-like sound will help drown out the noise from any gym.

The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

By far my favourite song from January 2018. A *must have* on your cardio playlist. The chorus is deep & full of sound.

NICKI_GIF

Run Up – Major Lazer ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR & Nicki Minaj

Pro tip: I sometimes hear versions on the radio without Nicki’s track, don’t bother with those. Nicki MAKES this song a bop.

Timber – Pitbull ft. Ke$ha

I’m not the biggest Pitbull fan, but him & Kesha knocked this one out of the park. 

Bartier Cardi ft. 21 Savage

Not the best song for running or jogging, but the *deep* bass of this hit will elevate ANY weight exercise.

YEARS AND YEARS_GIF

King – Years & Years

Being Years & Years’ most successful song, “King” pops up during every one of my workouts. The harmony is dense with upbeat sound, making it interchangeable for any kind of workout.

Casanova – Allie X ft. Vérité

It’s a bit light on the harmony, making it a tough choice for cardio. However, I love listening to Casanova during high intensity, low movement workouts, such as shoulder press or bicep curl.

My My My! – Troye Sivan

THIS IS *THE* BOP OF 2018. THAT IS ALL.

CRJ_GIF

E•MO•TION – Carly Rae Jepsen

While she may have been robbed from awards & recognition in the past, don’t rob her of a spot on your workout playlist. She deserves better than that.

Primadonna – Marina and the Diamonds

The heavy bass of this pop masterpiece will jazz up any workout!

Sex Yeah – Marina and the Diamonds

This one’s a bit more underrated, but an incredible song nonetheless. It’ll even have you feeling sexier during your workout. 🙂

Tell Me You Love Me – Demi Lovato (NOTD Remix)

While the original isn’t the best song for the gym, the NOTD Remix adds a faster tempo that will crush any workout.

DEMI_LUIS_GIF

Échame la Culpa – Luis Fonsi & Demi Lovato

Move over, Despacito! Luis Fonsi is back with another smash hit alongside Demi Lovato. This smooth & upbeat hit is a must have in your workout playlist.

Knock You Down – Keri Hilson

Keri Hilson’s 2009 bop is often forgotten amongst the vast number of hits over the last decade – BUT LET US NOT FORGET. Knock You Down is a masterful pop hit that is necessary to anyone’s workout playlist.

Raise Your Glass – P!nk

Need a little spunk in your workout? Try this.

One, Two Step – Ciara ft. Missy Elliot

Arguably one of Ciara’s best hits, this bop will glide you through any cardio routine.

LM_GIF

Salute – Little Mix

This uplifting bop has female empowerment written all over it! It’s been on my workout playlist for well over a year, so I *highly* recommend it.

LMCNCO_GIF

Reggaetón Lento – Little Mix & CNCO

Two incredible pop groups, one amazing song for your workout! PS- it’s a bit sexy, which makes me feel sexy during my workout (always a plus).

Black Magic – Little Mix

This song is SO upbeat! Perfect for a dull cardio workout that needs a little something something.

Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani

B-A-N-A-N-A-S. That is all.

SOS – Rihanna

Try listening to SOS during your HIIT sprint minute, which I wrote a blog about a few weeks ago.

ALLIEX_GIF

PRIME – Allie X 

This retro pop hit will jazz up your repetitive weight exercises! I’ve been known to play this song exclusively during workouts… 🙂 

Feeling Myself – Nicki Minaj ft. Beyoncé

When you’re feeling’ yourself at the gym, there’s no better song. Not the best cardio song, but hella good for those days when you need an emotional lift.

Boys Boys Boys – Lady Gaga

This is for all my gays!! When you see that cute boy working out, play this song!! (you’re welcome)

GAGA_GIF

Hair – Lady Gaga

The heavy pop-rock sound of this song makes it the perfect bop to drown out background noise.

Swine – Lady Gaga

Probably my favourite song to sprint to. While it wasn’t everyone’s favourite song from ARTPOP, the ultra-heavy electronic sound is perfect for running/sprinting.

Scheibe – Lady Gaga

FINE. My last Gaga song. Just listen to it at the gym, it’s amazing.

When Love Takes Over – David Guetta ft. Kelly Rowland

Such a classic hit! Especially if you grew up with this bop, the nostalgia train will glide you straight through your workout. 🙂

KESHA_GIF

My First Kiss – 30H!3 ft. Ke$ha

When you need that extra kick of energy, this song is perfect! Feels very rebellious and kick-ass. 

I Like It – Enrique Iglesias

This song is super auto-tuned, but it’s a fun beat that’ll uplift any dull mood.

Your Love Is My Drug

Such a classic Kesha hit. It’s positive & uplifting, which is a necessity while exercising.

JB_GIF

Cold Water – Major Lazer ft. Justin Beiber & MØ

It’s one of those ultra-catchy songs that you’ll end up playing 50 times while at the gym.

Cheap Thrills – Sia ft. Sean Paul

I LOVE the repetitive beat of this song! It’s perfect for a repetitive exercise like the Stairmaster or elliptical.

Where Are Ü Now – Skrillex & Diplo, with Justin Bieber

What I like most about this song is the full & dense sound. Helps block out background noise & distractions.

KELLY_GIF

Commander – Kelly Rowland ft. David Guetta

This song makes you feel like HOT SHIT. Trust me. You’ll be feeling like an award-winning model, strutting their way down the catwalk. Or just lifting weight, whatever comes first. 🙂

Into You – Ariana Grande

If you’re into running long distances, this is such a great song to have on repeat. Super catchy.

JOE_GIF

Cake By The Ocean – DNCE

DNCE knows how to create a BOP. 

Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey (Cedric Gervais Remix)

Cedric Gervais takes this song from “crying in my room after a breakup” to “revenge body, bitches!!”

Swalla – Jason Derulo ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign

Probably one of the most catchiest songs of 2017 – a must have on your workout playlist!!

Bitch I’m Madonna – Madonna ft. Nicki Minaj

It’ll make you feel like YOU’RE Madonna. Boom.

MADONNA_GIF

Girl Gone Wild – Madonna

This is one of Madonna’s most underrated, but deserving, songs. Pro tip: watch the music video before taking it to the gym. SO WORTH IT.

Livin’ It Up – Ciara

First off, Ciara is such an underrated singer and performer. Secondly, add this song to your playlist – you won’t regret it!

Get Outta My Way – Kylie Minogue

All hail Kween Minogue! Such an underrated bop.

TandS_GIF

Closer – Teagan and Sara

Probably one of the best songs from Canada’s own Teagan and Sara. The music video is super LGBT+ inclusive, which makes it a bit more personal for some of us.

Feel It In My Bones – Test ft. Teagan and Sara

A powerful classic! This is a really great cardio song. I always get lost in the catchy harmony.

LUCIUS_GIF

Born Again Teen – Lucius

A pop anthem that needs to be on your playlist NOW!! I first started listening to Lucius after seeing them live at Wayhome 2016. Been obsessed ever since!

Something About You – Lucius

Once again, a really great song for repetitive exercises such as Stairmaster or elliptical.

WORKOUT_GIF.gif

There you have it! 50 songs to elevate your gym routine! Be sure to check out these songs on my Spotify Playlist and Apple Music Playlist!!

Have any other songs to recommend? Leave them in the comments section below!

-MR

 

Why it’s important to talk about fake social media followers

Why it’s important to talk about fake social media followers

We need to have a chat about fake followers, and why they’ve been a negative addition to a positive social media landscape. While fake followers aren’t anything new, there’s recently been a flurry of conversations around it, as reported by the New York Times and the BBC.

Super briefly, here’s an explanation of the different ways people achieve fake followers:

  1. They directly purchase a specific number of accounts to “follow” their social media page from a third party
  2. They directly purchase a specific number of accounts to “like” their social media content from a third party
  3. They do a combination of 1 & 2
  4. They use specialized apps that follow a large number of people, in hopes of receiving a “follow back” from a % – then unfollow those people & repeat (while this isn’t purchasing followers, it’s not the most ethical)

I started making video content on YouTube in January of 2012 when I was in my last year of high school. Do the math: that makes it 6 years on social media. Every time I think of that number, it still amazes me. 6 years. 312 weeks2,190 days. No other hobby or career path has ever lasted that long in my life.

When I first started posting videos online, I just had an itch to create something. Follower counts were cool at most, but not a living necessity. I’ve celebrated at the 1k / 10k / and 100k mark, but that’s about it. The bigger celebrations have been after uploading a video that I was immensely proud of. Some that come to mind are my interviews with HIV+ individuals, my travel to Spain, and my laser hair removal experience. I’m proud to say that whenever I’ve been excited about my career, it’s rooted in the content I’ve made.

MONTREAL_CAMERA_SELFIE

Before we talk about why fake followers are bad, it’s important to understand that the creator space (YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, etc.) has become a pretty big deal. In 2016, Neilson reported that 18+ adults spend about 6-7 hours a week on social media, on average. With that in mind, we need to understand that the attention towards traditional media outlets, such as television, are becoming equally as dispersed as social media.

So what happens when eyeballs shift from a TV network to a YouTube channel? Brands shift, and take their budgets with them. In theory, this is really great for digital creators, because it places a higher monetary value on their “art” (i.e. videos, photography, think pieces, etc.). I’m so proud of the travel content I created in Spain, but none of that would have been possible without Contiki funding my travels. The same goes with my HIV+ interviews – none of that would have been possible without Bell Media providing the studio space.

Before we get into the negatives, let’s figure out why purchasing fake followers may be perceived as positive. Let’s be real: the image of a content creator (or sometimes referred to as influencer) is romanticized. We see content creators being recognized by big name brands, and that might be a dream for someone looking to “make it big.” In their eyes, all they need to do is spend some money on followers, and the rest is roses, right? For anyone out there that’s actually built a following, they know too well that’s far from true.

Now let’s talk about why purchasing fake followers is bad. When a person engages in sourcing inauthentic followers, they’re contributing to a mentality that follower count = value. Let me tell you, if you haven’t been told this before, it doesn’t. Now, someone’s follower count can be an incredible demonstration of their value and quality as a creator. Some creators that come to mind are ASAP Science, David Dobrik, and Casey Neistat. These creators have immense follower counts, but their value is rooted in the quality of their content.

MONTREAL_PICTURE_TAKING

As a smaller size creator, I’ve always been proud that my audience shows strong engagement – it’s the reason why I wake up every morning and try to create something! When someone purchases fake followers, or racks up a bunch of “follow backs”, they’re going to have low low low engagement. The reasoning for this is obvious, because if your followers are fake, or don’t follow you out of interest, they’re not going to engage. The engagement that’s purchased is purely artificial. As such, fake followers exist as an artificial face to success and quality.

As a Communication Studies major, I have a lot of care for emerging media industries. I’ve always supported the growth of the “creator class” because it gives young people the opportunity to be their own boss. Instead of graduating university and needing to work at a big production company to create valuable content, they can do it themselves. Think about how powerful that can be for a young person; to be able to start their own talk show on YouTube, or display their travel photography on Instagram. Content creation is freedom, and freedom is a very liberating thing.

With that said, inauthentic followers dilute the value of an independent creator to a popularity contest of numbers. Those numbers, by the way, get noticed by brands and agencies, and unknowingly re-route their hard earned budgets to a scam-like practice. On top of that, it creates an illusion that smaller creators with quality content don’t fit in today’s “creator class”, and I think that’s a shame.

So why should YOU care about whether or not you follow an account that has fake followers? Here’s why: if you’re following them, they’re probably not too concerned with your entertainment, but rather with popularity and making a quick buck. If someone is buying fake followers, they want to leverage those metrics towards brands that will sponsor their content. Sponsorship isn’t the bad bone here, because most creators engage in some level of sponsorship (myself included!). However, the purpose of sponsorship should always be to allow creators to continue to create their quality, organic content. I think that’s a concept that most people can get behind.

In order for the “creator class” to prosper, there can’t be a way for people to cheat their way to the top (or rather, their view of the top). I want independent creators to succeed, because I’ve seen some of the most original and entertaining content from platforms like YouTube and Instagram – and I know you have too! But let’s not ruin it with people who only care about popularity and a quick buck. You & your 6-7 hours a week on social media deserve a lot better than that.

Remember: numbers ≠ success.

-MR

PS- Neilson, you crazy. I spend WAY more than 7 hours a week on social media… 🙂

5 Appetizers Using Ingredients You Already Have!

5 Appetizers Using Ingredients You Already Have!

As I enter my mid-twenties, I’m starting to do something I used to never do… host actual dinner parties. Growing up, my parents would invite their adult friends to our house, stress about all the food they had to cook, talk about boring adult things with them, and then do it all over again a few weeks later.

Don’t listen to anyone that will tell you otherwise – dinner parties are the epitome of adulthood. BUT THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE BORING. I mean, they sound quite boring. But they don’t have to be!

This week, I’ve complied five different appetizers that will take you no time to whip up. Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen, or a complete beginner, these recipes will take your hosting abilities from zero to hero!

APPS_BLOG_POST

APPETIZER #1: Raspberry & Cucumber Bites

IMG_9732

Probably the simplest appetizer of this post, these Raspberry & Cucumber bites will take you less than 5 minutes to whip up. Inspired by Martha Stuart’s Cucumber Feta Toasts, I’ve created a more accessible appetizer that’s tangy, fresh, and can be made with ingredients already in your fridge.

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 tbsp of tzatziki (or plain yogurt + lemon juice + dill)
  • A handful of fresh raspberries

Mix up a few raspberries into the tzatziki. Place a dollop of the raspberry tzatziki onto thickly cut cucumber slices. Garnish with 1/2 raspberry. Enjoy! While it seems simple, the sweetness of the raspberries pairs perfectly with the tangy taste of the plain yogurt in the tzatziki.

APPETIZER #2: Sweet Potato Triangles

IMG_9736

really like these, because they work great as both an appetizer & day-to-day snack. My recipe calls for pita triangles as the base, but feel free to elevate the appetizer with an artisan cracker. But I figured most people have a bag of pitas in their pantry!

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Pita triangles
  • 2 tbsp hummus (or mashed chick peas)
  • Cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Start by coating the sweet potato cubes in 1 tsp of olive oil, and bake in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes. Spread a generous amount of hummus or mashed chick peas onto pita triangles. Place 3-4 sweet potato cubes on top. Bake the triangles for another 5 minutes in the oven. Pour a few drops of balsamic vinegar onto the hot triangles. Serve immediately!

APPETIZER #3: Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini-Mushrooms

IMG_9745

Inspired by Martha Stuarts’ recipe, I decided to break down her ingredients & make a more accessible version. These little guys are incredible, and SO easy to prepare. They’re a great appetizer before a  meal with steak or fish, or eat them all on their own with a glass of red wine!

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Mini Cremini Mushrooms, with the stems removed
  • 3 tbsp of plain, reduced fat goat cheese
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper, roasted
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic purée
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Start by roasting the bell pepper in a 400F oven for 15 minutes. Remove the stems from the mushrooms while your pepper is roasting. Once cooled, dice the roasted red pepper. In a bowl, mix the goat cheese with the diced red pepper, and add garlic, salt, and pepper. Stuff 1/2 tbsp of goat cheese into each mushroom. Roast in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

APPETIZER #4Apple & Pecan Dream Bites

IMG_9741

I call these dream bites because you’ll be dreaming of them for days after just one bite! They’re so simple to make, and will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. They take a little longer to make, but are SO worth it!

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 1 apple, peeled & cubed
  • Handful of chopped pecans
  • 3 tbsp of maple butter
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Thin artisan crackers

Start by adding & stirring together your apple cubes, cinnamon, honey, and water into a small pot. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until the water is absorbed (this should take about 10 minutes). Remove the softened apple cubes & place them aside in a bowl. Spread a generous amount of maple butter onto each artisan cracker. I found a roasted pecan variety at my grocery store, but any cracker will work! Place your apple cubes on top of each maple buttered cracker, and garnish with chopped pecans. Serve warm.

APPETIZER #5: Pizza Rounds

IMG_9735

Literally everyone likes pizza. So let’s say you have friends coming over in a half hour – make them these! BECAUSE EVERYONE LIKES PIZZA (it’s a rule, look it up).

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Pita rounds
  • 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of tomato sauce
  • 8-10 slices of pepperoni
  • 1/4 green bell pepper, minced

Place your pita rounds on a clean surface. Add sauce (tip: try using a marinade brush to keep things clean!). Add pepperoni. Add cheese. Add green peppers. Bake in a 400F oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

After thinking about it, this may have just been an excuse to make mini pizzas for lunch… 🙂

As always, I encourage you to try these recipes out! If you do, make sure to snap a pic & tag @mikerizzi on social media. Happy appetiz-ing.

– MR

My SIMPLE Banana-Oat Pancakes

My SIMPLE Banana-Oat Pancakes

Happy New Year!!

As you might have realized, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. So I thought, what better way to kick-off 2018 on the blog than with another breakfast recipe! In fact, a lot of readers have sent me pictures of their version of Overnight Oats after I published my recipe, which is amazing.

This time around, I wanted to share my simple recipe for banana-oat pancakes! They’re a healthy, delicious, and sustainable way to start your day – and it only requires a few ingredients.

IMG_1132

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup of quick oats
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder

Step 1: Start by mashing the bananas in a large bowl until they’re clumpy, but not completely smooth. If you don’t have ripe bananas, it’ll be difficult to get the right consistency.

IMG_7021

Step 2: In a small bowl, beat 3 eggs. Add egg mixture to the mashed bananas. Don’t shortcut this step by mixing the eggs in the mashed banana bowl – you want to ensure that the egg white & yolk have fully incorporated each other.

IMG_1136

Step 3: Add 1 cup of quick oats and mix thoroughly. Depending on the brand of quick oats you’re using, some might be more absorbent than others. In the case where your batter is too thin, add 1/2 tbsp of flour.

IMG_1141

Step 4: Split the batter into two bowls. Mix 1/2 tsp of cinnamon in the first bowl, and 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder in the second. Right before cooking, carefully & lightly blend the two mixtures. This way, you’ll get a marble effect, and get full bites of cinnamon and cocoa!

IMG_1164IMG_5763

Step 5: Heat a non-stick skillet to medium. Cook pancakes for 3-4 minutes on each side.

IMG_1172

Step 6: EAT & ENJOY! Each serving of two pancakes is packed with 5g of protein, 3g of dietary fibre, and only 2g of fat. Enjoy your breakfast with maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, or even plain yogurt!

IMG_1175

If you feel inspired to make my banana-oat pancakes for breakfast, make sure to snap a picture & post it to social media! Tag @mikerizzi on Twitter and Instagram.

– MR

Michael Rizzi is a YouTuber & Blogger from Toronto, Canada. Follow his blog to get up-to-date alerts on fresh content.

Holiday Recipe: Candy Cane Cereal Bars

Holiday Recipe: Candy Cane Cereal Bars

This year for the holidays, I wanted to start creating some of my own festive recipes for when my friends stop by. Something quick and easy, but entertaining enough to impress. In past years, my parents did all the cooking and baking, but now it’s time to increase my adulting a few levels!

In this blog post, I’m going to show you how I make Candy Cane Cereal Bars. They’re chocolatey, minty, and very crunchy – a perfect holiday snack that’ll be sure to satisfy any sweet tooth! There are a lot of chocolate cereal bar recipes online, but most of them involve marshmallows, corn syrup, and (a lot of) butter. My recipe is a slightly healthier version, so that you can always enjoy a few more bites.

IMG_8226

Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • 3 cups of Shreddies Cereal (or a similar variety)
  • 1 cup of Holiday Rice Crispies Cereal
  • 5-6 candy canes, crushed
  • 1 candy cane, whole
  • 4 tbsp of peanut butter *
  • 5 tbsp of honey *
  • 5 tbsp of margarine or butter
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips

* Peanut Butter and Honey are substitute for Marshmallows in this recipe

IMG_0528IMG_0532

Before you start! Get your chocolate and crushed candy canes ready.

IMG_0535

Since chocolate melts quick, prepping these first ensures that your baking will be effortless!

Step 1: Heat margarine, honey, and peanut butter on a medium-heat pot until melted. Once melted, leave mixture on burner, but turn the burner off. Add 1 candy cane to the mixture, and let it sit while you work on the dark chocolate.

IMG_0540

Step 2: Create a bain-marie, which is a bowl that sits on top of a pot of boiling water. Start by melting the dark chocolate in your bain-marie. Once it’s fully melting, carefully add your mixture from step 1. Mix until fully incorporated. Turn the heat of the pot to low while you prep your cereal.

IMG_0542IMG_0544

Step 3: In a large bowl, mix the Shreddies and Rice Crispies. Place the large bowl into another bain-marie. While your bowl currently has dry ingredients, the bain-marie will ensure that the chocolate doesn’t dry too quickly when mixed.

IMG_0534

Step 4: Pour your chocolatey mixture into the large cereal bowl and mix until incorporated. Carefully pour the cereal mixture into shallow pans, and press until fairly compressed. It’s important that you press the mixture into the pans so that the bars are dense.

IMG_0546

Step 5: Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie, exactly as you melted the dark chocolate in step 4. Once melted, carefully pour over the top of your compressed cereal tray. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the melted white chocolate.

Step 6: Place your pan in the fridge for 1 hour, or the freezer for 40 minutes. Cut into bars. The bitter dark chocolate goes perfectly with the sweet and minty candy canes. Enjoy!

IMG_8237

 

Optional: Add some leftover crushed candy canes and instant hot chocolate powder to a mug, add boiling water. Now you’ve got candy cane hot chocolate to enjoy with your treats!

IMG_0559

Try this holiday recipe and post it on Instagram! Be sure to take @mikerizzi.

-MR

Follow my blog to be notified each time I publish a new post!

How I Transformed My Cardio Workout

How I Transformed My Cardio Workout

In late 2012, I made a YouTube video announcing my decision to begin working out. That sentence still makes me giggle… just the fact that I created a YouTube video to keep my promises accountably by my audience. Working out and getting fit was my new year’s resolution at the time, so it was a big deal for me! 5 years later it’s become a huge part of my life.

Now, I’m a very go-go-go kind of person, so lengthy cardio workouts were never my thing. I would try to hop on the treadmill and run for 30 minutes, but I’d usually call it quits early. Let’s be real, typical cardio isn’t exciting for anyone.

Being 18-years-old when I started, my metabolism was pretty good, so cardio took a backseat. I mean, I used to go straight to the dessert section at my university cafeteria and still fit into my high school jeans (what a life!!!). 5 years later, and I have a slightly slower metabolism. Essentially, I can’t eat whatever I want, and I need to integrate cardio into my fitness routine. So how did I do it?

I want to outline how my cardio routine has grown in the last year. If you’re a beginner to cardio or exercising, no fear – I have workouts that you will LOVE.

IMG_0383

Starting as a beginner – INCLINE WALKING!

I hate running for long periods of time. I feel like I’m galloping, panting, and hating every aspect of my life (relatable?). So instead of running for 30 minutes, I would speed walk – with an incline!

Now, I’m a bit of a paranoid gym-goer, especially when I first started. I would think that everyone was watching every move I made, so I was careful to not look like an idiot. There’s no worse place to feel that feeling than a treadmill – people to your left, people to your right, all eyes on you! Incline walking was a perfect way to start my cardio regimen because it was something I was familiar with, something that made me feel at peace.

Incline walking is an amazing way to raise your heart rate and burn calories. I like to call incline walking, “mindless exercise”, because it’s easy to get lost in your music. It’s a simple concept, but essentially you’re setting the speed on the treadmill to a quick walk, and sharply raising the incline. After 30-40 minutes of incline walking, you’ll be in a heated sweat, trust me! Try my recommendations for speed and incline, depending on your fitness level.

Absolute Beginner: 3.8 Speed, 8.0 Incline

Comfortable Beginner: 4.0 Speed, 10.0 Incline

Moderate: 4.1 – 4.2 Speed, 13.5 Incline

Ready for a Challenge?: 4.3 – 4.4 Speed, 15.0 Incline

Once you reach the moderate or challenging level, you’ll be able to burn 400 – 600 calories per 30 – 40 minute workout! Get yourself a solid playlist, and cardio just became a lot more exciting.

You’ll see solid results with incline walking for about 2-3 months until you hit your plateau.

Hitting your plateau – RUN OUTSIDE!

Everyone reaches this point – a plateau. A plateau is a point in your fitness journey where you won’t see anymore noticeable results. This occurs because your body is smart, and it learns how much energy to store for any given activity. After 2-3 months of incline walking, your body understands how much energy to store for a typical cardio workout. This means that you’re not challenging your body anymore, even though you’re still burning calories. If you’re happy with your fitness results, this is a great workout to sustain longterm! If you’re looking for further results, you’ll have to change and adapt.

Now that you’ve been doing cardio for a few months, you probably feel a bit more comfortable running outside of the gym. “Outside of the gym” can be around your neighbourhood block, or even at the track inside your local community centre!

When you run on ground, roughly three times your body weight runs through your leg muscles (this weight is absorbed by the treadmill at the gym). Essentially, be prepared to last less time outside than you would at the gym. It’s important to become comfortable with running, because it’s the most effective way to get your heart rate up.

Pro tip: pending you live in a save environment, running at night can be a great way to introduce yourself to outdoor cardio! At least in my experience, running at night calmed my nerves that every driver or pedestrian was watching me. I know I might sound paranoid, but until you’ve ran outside you don’t know the feeling! I would slowly start pulling back my outdoor runs until I was running during daylight hours. At that point, I had lost a few pounds and became a lot more comfortable with cardio and running.

Time for a challenge – HIIT Workouts

You’ve mastered the incline speed walk, and you’re a comfortable runner. Now it’s time to merge those two together and get back to a treadmill for the most effective cardio routine – High Intensive Interval Training (HIIT).

First off, let’s explain what HIIT is exactly. Remember a few paragraphs ago when I talked about how our bodies learn how much energy to store? HIIT’s primary responsibility is to continuously confuse our body, stopping it from learning how much energy to store. In this way, you’re constantly challenging your body. In my opinion, HIIT is the only long-term cardio workout that you can adapt and avoid the plateau.

A classic HIIT workout should only last between 15 – 30 minutes. So while you might think you have to increase your cardio as time goes on, you’re actually doing the opposite. Here’s an example of a starter HIIT workout:

Workout Time: 15 minutes

Minute #1: Walking speed, 3.4 – 3.7

  • The purpose of the first minute is to set up your “resting period” – ensure that you’re not challenging yourself during this time

Minute #2: Light run, 5.2 – 5.7

  • The purpose of the second minute is to tire yourself out before your sprint

Minute #3: All out sprint, 7.5 – 11.0

  • The purpose of the third minute is to utilize all energy you have left and sharply raise your heart rate; while I call this a “sprint”, it should be whatever speed feels the most doable AND challenging to you

Perform this FIVE times, for a total of 15 minutes

Trust me, after 15 minutes you’ll be in a heavy sweat, and your heart rate will be at a great level to burn increased calories throughout the day. By adjusting your speed every 60 seconds, your body will have no time to store energy. There are some days where I hit the gym for 15 minutes and only do a HIIT routine. It’s short and effective!

IMG_0370

Getting bored? Mix up your HIIT Workout!

This is the point where I’m currently at! I’ve been performing the classic HIIT workout for about 2 months, and I’m starting to integrate different exercises to keep things interesting. I might replace the sprint in round #3 and #5 to a slightly different exercise. See below for a few ideas:

Start & Rest & Start & Rest: Instead of a simple 1 minute sprint, try slowing your legs down until your 3/4 of the way down the treadmill (imagine you’re about to fall off – but don’t!!), then sprint your way back to the front. This routine requires a lot of hand-eye-leg coordination, so be careful with a workout like this! However, it’s been an amazing addition to my HIIT routine, and helped keep things interesting and new.

Side-to-Side Shifts: After your 1 minute light run, replace the sprint with side-to-side shifts. Start by facing the left of the treadmill, and shift your legs side-to-side while keeping your legs slightly bent. After 30 seconds on each side, your legs will feel the burn. I recommend doing this during your 4th or 5th cycle.

IMG_4666

Increase Incline: This one is simple, but effective! If your HIIT routine becomes slightly easier, but you’re not ready to go faster, try adding 2.0 to your incline until you feel challenged.

IMG_0382

That’s just about it, at least for now. I’m at the point where I’m mixing up my HIIT routine to keep things interesting. It’s taken me about 12 months to get to this point, so don’t worry if you’re stuck at the incline walk stage, or running outside – you’ll get there!

I truly hope this blog post helped you get excited about cardio, and maybe even set your own new year’s resolution!

-MR

My Winter Skincare Review

My Winter Skincare Review

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of YouTube comments or social media messages regarding my skincare routine. Currently, I’ve been using Cetaphil to cleanse, and a facial oil by Peoni to deeply moisturize. Throughout the summer and fall, it’s worked very well for my skin. However, I’ve been looking to change up my skincare routine for the colder months, and find products that help with chapped, red skin.

If your a guy looking to find a new skincare routine, it’s important to know that there’s a difference between men’s & women’s skin. Compared to women’s skin, men’s skin is about 25% thicker, the texture is rougher, and can be oilier due to increased sweat.

BLOG - Skincare Review - WIDE

Origins Canada offered to gift me some of their skincare products from their new Mega-Mushroom line! I’ve never tried Origins skincare products before, so this is going to be my first impressions review of their new line. Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored, nor do I have an obligation to write it. I’m simply reviewing products that were gifted to me, so that you might find a product that works for your skin!

IMG_0321

The key ingredient in their new line are Reishi Mushrooms. Origins Canada says that their key ingredient will help “calm sensitivity, irritation, and reduce visible redness.” So let’s put their words to the test!

Product #1: Mega-Mushroom CleanserIMG_0327

My first impressions? I’ve been through a number of cleansers in my life, but I’ve never tried one that didn’t require a thorough facial wash afterwards. Most of my cleaners require circular massaging motions to work the product into my pores. Interestingly, the Origins Mega-Mushroom Cleanser asks that you saturate a cotton pad with the product, and brush the face clean – no wash required!

The product itself is very light on the face, and doesn’t irritate my skin – which is a HUGE plus! Like I mentioned, the winter months usually leave my skin feeling chapped and red; I felt like the product was able to clean my face without being too harsh on my sensitivity.

It is a great product for men’s skin? Absolutely! I really liked that the product is a micellar cleanser, which means that it has tiny oil-fighting molecules that are attracted to dirt. If you’re fussy with your skincare routine and want something quick, effective, and doesn’t dry out your skin, this is an ideal product for you.

Product #2: Mega-Mushroom Face MaskIMG_0331

If you know me, then you’ll know that I love face masks because they help elevate my getting-ready routine. Especially when I have an important event to go to, applying a face mask helps me get brighter and cleaner skin, instantly. However, not all face masks are right for your skin, especially if you have sensitivity like me!

My first impressions? The product is perfect for reddish skin! That’s its star power. If you’re someone looking for a product that will not only reduce, but remove redness from your skin, this is it!

The product is all function, though! So it doesn’t have a satisfyingly matte application to the face, nor does it dry and give your skin a super tight feeling. You kind of just have to trust that it’s working. After having the face mask on for 10 minutes, the product mainly appeared translucent, rather than opaque. Bottom line – buy this product if you have unwanted red tones on your face, not if you want to have a relaxing face mask night (yes, I have those nights).

Product #3: Mega-Mushroom Soothing Treatment LotionIMG_0329

My first impressions? It’s essentially a really good toner. I use it right after I cleanse my face, and I noticed that it calmed my skin quite a bit! It’s supposed to create a defensive barrier to sustain moisture on your face, so it’s a perfect product for the cold winter months. Whenever you step outside and experience the sharp cold wind on your face, your skin disperses oil to keep moisturized – with this product, your skin is able to hold onto its essential oils.

Definitely a great product if you have dry skin! However, make sure to apply a good quality moisturizer after using a product like this. Speaking of which…

Product #4: Mega-Mushroom Face CreamIMG_2093

My first impressions? I’m not too fussy with my moisterizer. I have two main standards: don’t make my face greasy, and be potent. This product did both of those things very well! You don’t need a lot of cream to get a good level of moisture on your face. I usually just dab my finger into the cream and apply the excess! It dries quite quickly and kept my face feeling soft all day.

At this point in my skincare routine, any redness has already been taken care of – but that’s probably because my skin isn’t severely red. If you deal with rosacea or any kind of severe redness to the skin, this moisturizer will further assist to regulate your facial tones.

Closing thought? Overall, I give this skincare line 9/10! Each product retails between $34 – $66, so it’s reasonably affordable. Especially if you’re looking for a skincare line that specifically targets reddish skin, you can’t go wrong with that price point.

-MR

I Recreated 4 Popular Cocktails

I Recreated 4 Popular Cocktails

We’ve all been there. “I’m going to get something different this time,” you say to yourself, as you walk through the aisles of the liquor store. Plot twist: no you won’t. Instead, you’ll grab a bottle of alcohol and soda, and call it a cocktail. I know this far far far too well. Any time there was a party or an event that called for a pre-game, I always told myself that I’d try something new. Unfortunately, I never got around to it.

This past week, a friend of my partner and I – Jeremy – kindly gave us a housewarming gift: a 4-set of Grey Goose’s top vodkas. Free alcohol! Woo! The gift got my creative juices flowing, so I decided to recreate four classic and popular cocktails to broaden my drinking horizon. Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored by Grey Goose.

IMG_0229

Personally, I’m quite tired of the same old drink. I’m tired of looking at drinking as a “means to get tipsy… then drunk”. I’d rather develop a few cocktail recipes that are easy and crowd-pleasing – and only require a few ingredients to make!

ALSO. All the mixer-ingredients only cost $16 in total. So in addition to being 4 tasty cocktails, they’re also inexpensive. Woo!

IMG_0234

Kids – start your shakers, and may the best mixer… win! (just kidding, we’re drinking… everyone’s a winner!).

DRINK #1: Classic Vodka Soda, with a Blueberry Twist

Vodka Flavour: Regular

Vodka sodas are my classic bar order! They’re simple, low in calories, and reasonably inexpensive. The great thing about making vodka sodas at home is that you can personalize them. When I have the time, I like to pop a handful of frozen blueberries into mine. It keeps the drink ice cold, gives it a beautiful purple tint, and adds just enough berry flavour! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 3.5 oz. club soda
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • Handful of frozen blueberries
  • Lemon wedge, for garnish

IMG_0237

Add your vodka & lemon juice first. Then pour over the club soda. Then carefully, drop your frozen blueberries into the drink and wait for them to fall to the bottom. Give your drink 10-15 minutes in the fridge to release some blueberry juice. Happy drinking!

IMG_0241

How does it taste? Honestly, it tastes like a vodka soda with a slight blueberry flavour – no surprise there! However, the colour of this drink is superb. If you need a simple & no-fuss drink to serve to your friends, this one is hard to beat!

DRINK #2: Pineapple & Orange Vodka Soda

Vodka Flavour: Orange

Now that we’ve mastered the classic vodka soda, let’s move onto a slightly sweeter version! This drink is a total crowd pleaser, as the sweet citrus flavours cut the sharp taste of the vodka. Even the biggest vodka-hater will love this drink! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz. orange vodka
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. club soda
  • 0.5 oz. lime juice
  • Orange wedge, for garnish

IMG_0245

Same deal as the first vodka soda: add your vodka and pineapple juice first, then club soda, then lime juice. You want the most integrated ingredients to be added first, such as the vodka or pineapple juice. Make sure to add the lime juice last so you have a tart lime flavour swirling around the drink!

IMG_0248

How does it taste? The citrus flavours from the pineapple juice, as well as the orange vodka, truly compliment each other. While you still get a classic vodka aftertaste, it’s not overpowering! It’s a bit sweet, so one of these will be enough for me, but definitely worth a try to mix things up.

DRINK #3: Classic Cherry Cosmo

Vodka Flavour: Black Cherry

While I might not be the biggest cosmopolitan fan, I am a fan of simple drinks. With only 3 ingredients, this drink is an easy pick for a gays-night-in. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz. black cherry vodka
  • 1.5 oz. cranberry juice
  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice

IMG_0253

For this recipe, it’s best to have a shaker handy. Pour all your ingredients into an ice-filled shaker, and shake-shake-shake! The final result is a chilly, tart, and satisfyingly cherry cosmopolitan.

IMG_0256

IMG_0263

How does it taste? I regretted not having a classic cosmo ingredient – triple sec – for this recipe. However, the cherry vodka is truly the star of this drink. The black cherry flavour comes through so smoothly, and compliments the tart flavour of the cranberry juice. With only 3 ingredients, you’ll even have time to cook up an appetizer 😉

DRINK #4: My Booze-y Rosemary Lemonade

Vodka Flavour: Lemon

This past summer, I was at a bar in West Hollywood where they were serving a lemon-based vodka drink with a rosemary garnish. Since then, I’ve been dying to recreate it. While this is more of a spring / summer drink, I couldn’t resist giving it a try! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz. lemon vodka
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 2.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 – 3 tbsp of honey
  • Fresh rosemary

IMG_0258

Add your lemon vodka, juice, and water to a mason jar. Next, stir in 2 – 3 tbsp of honey (this might take a minute to fully integrate). Pop-in your rosemary and a straw… voila! Serve this drink while dreaming of warmer weather and cute boys… 🙂

IMG_0259

How does it taste? Even though I call this a lemonade, it’s by no means sweet. The lemon vodka & juice are quite tart, which is why I add a few tbsp of honey to balance the flavours. While the rosemary is placed into the drink, the flavour doesn’t really integrate; instead, the fragrance of the herb amplifies the sweet & tart notes.

There you have it! Four classic and popular cocktails, Mike Rizzi style. If you’re like me, and you still have mix-matching glasses in your cupboard, feel free to mix & match to fit each drink. While the cosmo sort of demands a cocktail glass, your vodka sodas can be poured into anything, and the booze-y lemonade looks so stinkin’ cute in a mason jar.

IMG_0230

GG Vodka Blog Post - WIDE

If you make any of these cocktails, make sure to share it on Instagram or Twitter & tag @MikeRizzi. Can’t wait to see how your’s turns out! Happy (legal) drinking!

-MR