Lately: Favourite Ways to Add Protein

Hey friends! Good Thursday morning. I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. I’ve got a couple of cool new (to me) recipes to share with you while I devour this morning’s bowl of chocolate pear oatmeal.

I baked this almond raspberry cake yesterday, and I’m actually eating a big square of this right now crumbled over my oats. Unlike normal cakes made with dense white flour and refined white sugar, this recipe uses almond meal (ground almonds) and maple syrup/honey.

Can you believe that 1 cup of almond meal has 24 grams of protein? I just googled it and was pretty shocked. I used 1 egg + 1 flax egg because my carton was nearly empty, but if you do use 2 eggs, that pumps up the protein even more.

This cake is super delicious and reminds me of a sturdy, not-overwhelmingly-sweet almond croissant.

Gluten-Free Paleo Almond Cake with Raspberries
Serves: 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup almond meal, firmly packed into measuring cups
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp ground flax + 2.5 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Make flax egg by combining flax with water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In the same bowl, beat egg, maple, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Whisk well.
  4. Finally, add almond meal. Mix until just combined. Decorate with raspberries if desired.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
  6. I like mine served with a scoop of yogurt. Store in the refrigerator.

Another snack I’ve been having is tea! I usually steep English breakfast tea or Earl Grey tea in boiling water and then add half a cup of milk. The milk adds creaminess, a little sweetness, and 4 grams of satisfying protein. This snack warms me up and fills my belly in the best possible way.

If you’re a tea addict, I highly recommend purchasing a milk frother! It’s a life changer.

Of all the ways to add protein to my diet, nuts would have to be my all-time favourite way. They are epitome of a healthy snack! I always sprinkle toasted walnuts and pecans on my yogurt and oatmeal. They add sweetness, crunch, and, um… nuttiness.

Doesn’t this brownie look amazing? It tasted pretty dang amazing too. Plus… it’s vegan! You would never guess that it’s free of butter and eggs. I encourage you to give this recipe a try, especially if you’re a little fearful of black bean brownies.

Vegan Brownies
Serves: 9 brownies
Ingredients
  • flax eggs (2 Tbsp (14 g) flaxseed meal + 5 Tbsp (75 ml) water)
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) melted vegan butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup (96 g) coconut sugar (or organic cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup 48 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup (27.5 g) almond meal
  • optional: 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and lightly grease an 8×8-inch (or similar size) baking dish with coconut oil, then line with parchment paper (the oil helps the parchment paper stick to the sides).
  2. Prepare flax eggs in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. To a large mixing bowl add melted vegan butter or coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk thoroughly to combine and start dissolving the coconut sugar.
  4. Add flax eggs and whisk once more until combined. Then add baking powder, sea salt, and cocoa powder and whisk.
  5. Add gluten free flour blend and almond meal and fold with a spatula until just mixed. Then add desired add-ins (optional), such as vegan chocolate chips or nuts.
  6. Add the batter to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer with a rubber spatula. Add a few additional toppings if desired, such as chocolate chips and nuts (optional).
  7. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the edges appear dry and slightly fluffy and the center is no longer wet or sticky.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, preferably 45 minutes – 1 hour (the longer they cool, the less tender they will be). Then gently lift out of pan and use a sharp knife to cut into desired number of squares (I went for 9).
  9. Store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to a few days. Will keep in the freezer up to 1 month.

Sometimes I like topping my yogurt with almond butter and crumbled cookie. 1/2 tbsp of almond butter not only tastes amazing but adds a bit more protein to the plate. Also, Greek yogurt is a protein God when it comes to vegetarian snacking. I always go for 2% plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it myself with a little maple syrup and cinnamon.

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What is this odd concoction? I actually had this for breakfast, but it would totally work as a snack as well. I mixed 2 eggs with some applesauce and tried to make pancakes, but they turned into a scramble that I topped with 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, hemp hearts, and way too much nut butter. This kept me full for HOURS.

Yum! Sliced apple with brie cheese. Brie is probably not the highest protein cheese, but it sure tastes good with gala apple slices. I wish I had some white cheddar for this – yum.

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Last but not least for high-protein snacks – a tasty oatmeal pancake made with egg and topped with nut butter. This recipe was inspired by Kate! https://thedomestikatedlife.com

So for a couple more tips on nuts and stuff like that, check out Nuts.com. You can also take a look at this like to see some nutritious high-protein snacks. It was fun to look at those snack ideas and then put this post together because a) I eat and photograph nuts all the time anyways, and b) they shared this cool graphic with me!

Check it out:

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So, why all the hype about protein? You might already know it as the macronutrient that helps you build muscle, but what else? Here are some of my favourite reasons.

  1. Protein is satisfying and can help to reduce appetite.
  2. It is great for bones.
  3. It promotes heart health.
  4. Protein stabilizes blood sugar levels.
  5. It can also help to improve your mood!
  6. It reduces cravings and the temptation to engage in late-night snacking.
  7. It can boost metabolism and help burn fat.
  8. Protein can help your body repair itself after a tricky workout.
  9. You don’t need too much of it (definitely not as much as the media hypes it up to be)
  10. It can be found in most foods (some are nonintuitive – like peas!)

Now, onto something that is completely unrelated, my crow pose!

And a little flow that I like to do. One of my favourite yoga instructors suggested trying chaturangas on one foot!

It’s been rainy the past couple of days, so I’m really missing this sunny day when I could do yoga in the parking lot in the morning. Still working on that headstand, though. 😛

Check out this recipe for coconut flour banana bread. I made it a couple weeks ago and really like it! Coconut flour is loaded with fibre, and the almond butter adds extra protein (yup). Plus, who doesn’t like banana bread – especially with chocolate chips?

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Banana Squares (gluten-free, paleo)

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8×4 inch or 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine bananas, vanilla and almond butter; mix until well combined, smooth and creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time and mix on medium speed until combined. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; mix again until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then carefully invert, remove bread from pan and place back on wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 12 slices.

Perfect on oatmeal! With peanut butter, of course.

Changing the topic again…

Yay for school being over!

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That means more time to go out to cafes and enjoy sandwiches,

more time for yummy dessert like this coconut cream puff,

and more time to cook veggie pasta with goat cheese, pesto, and parmesan.

It also means more time in the morning to bake… brownies for breakfast? For real.

Brownie Batter Breakfast Bake
Yields: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 2 Tbsp. almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, to taste
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp mini chocolate chips, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and lightly coat an individual sized ramekin or oven-safe bowl with coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients (use 1 tsp chocolate chips). Fold in chocolate chips, reserving a few to sprinkle on the top.
  3. Transfer batter to your greased ramekin, topping with reserved 1 tsp chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on desired consistency.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before adding any additional toppings and digging in!
  5. Serve with yogurt, crushed nuts, and nut butter. Enjoy hot or warm!

More time to decorate my oatmeal…

And maybe not if I’m feeling lazy.

It’s kind of ridiculous how many eggs I’ve devoured in the past week. Eggs + spinach + cheese and whole wheat pita/bread is my favourite quick and easy lunch of all time.

More oats with a side of Physics, taken before the exam. 😛

Quinoa topped with cheddar and a poached egg.

Granola oatmeal, because why not top oats with oats?

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This was roasted sweet potato with quinoa and a delicious salmon in red curry with peas and spinach. Mmmmm dinner dreams.

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I’m so boring with breakfast, I know.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty boring for all my meals.

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Amen.

And again. Wow, I really don’t get sick of the same stuff!

Okay, finally something different! Mashed ripe banana in cocoa oatmeal with almond butter swirl.

Okay, back to boring.

One day I bought a couple desserts to split with the roomies! Our favourite was the vanilla bean cheesecake.

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When you run out of toppings you can improvise with… chocolate.

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C’est tout for today! Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week.

The Final Stretch!

Did you get the pun? I told Seline about it and she thought it was the most idiotic thing.  But I think it makes sense!

  • Final stretch = the last part of a long or difficult activity
  • Finals = 7 exams in 10 days happening now… wonderful
  • Stretch = yoga stuff!

Speaking of yoga, I didn’t go to yoga teacher training on Sunday. The Saturday session was a bit of a blur because of how “out-of-it” I was, so I thought it would be a good idea to take a [study] break on the Sunday. Isn’t it so great when people understand the #studentstruggle?

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The last couple of days, I’ve been taking my mat out to this lovely, private spot outside (AKA back of the parking lot) for short morning practices after having tea. It’s just too beautiful out.

My favourite yoga flow is the classic “vinyasa“, going from down dogs to chaturangas to upward-facing dogs. Yesterday, a guy came to mow the lawn behind the parking lot so I had to pack up my mat after just 5 minutes 😦

The day before that was a beautiful Sunday, so I had a little more time to experiment with new (to me!) poses like the wheel pose.

Still working on straightening my arms in the crow pose. 😦

Sunday was a blur of studying. I had three Kin exams on Thursday and Friday, and a Psychology exam on Saturday night. Needless to say, Sunday was full of cramming for Monday morning’s physiology final! My school’s Applied Health Sciences lounge has countless study resources from whiteboards to skeletons to an exam bank where you can take a look at former tests.

We studied from 10:30 to 3:30, then I had lunch at 4:00 (which is very unlike me, but it’s exam season – what can you do?) and we regrouped at 5:30 to study until 8:30. I had a late dinner, and then an early bedtime so I could have a fresh mind on the exam 🙂

Also, I have no idea how and why my writing can become so tilted when writing on a whiteboard. Everything written perfectly horizontal here? Definitely written by Eddy, not me!

After the Physiology exam, it was time for a de-stressor! A group of friends and I took a scenic walk around Waterloo Park where we got to see deer and a miniature waterfall. Waterloo Park may not be as calendar-picturesque as the Sunshine Coast, but it does have its charm 🙂

The walk to Uptown Waterloo from campus took only 25 minutes. We went to The Works for burgers. The atmosphere here was very casual, friendly, and great for a group gathering.

  • Left to right: Emily, Alex, Jackie, Mary, Emily, me, Ijay
  • Unpictured but supposed-to-be-here: Travis, Shatrice (feel better, girl!), and Athena

These people are so fun to be around – we discussed everything from religion to the internet (and it’s many uses 😉 ) to music. It’s amazing when a group of people can get together and state their opinions, defend them, and express their questions + concerns about the opinions of others.

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Measuring cup cups? Creative – I like it!

We all ordered different burgers. The Works is great in that you can choose from one of NINE patties, one of 8-ish sides, any bun you’d like, and a couple of toppings from a list of a billion.

One funny thing: they sell a TRUDEAU burger, which is, according to the menu:

A good-looking burger new to the menu and comes topped with peppers, POUTINE, and a side of weed…s (Cindy note: this is a side salad!). Are you ready for it? Make us an offer!

My burger was topped with Beechhouse sauce (garlic mayo with vegetables), peppers, avocado, and harvarti cheese. I asked for my multigrain bun on the side and had salad with it. My turkey burger was surprisingly VERY moist and incredibly filling. Still, I have to admit that I am just not a big meat/burger person!

And… more food. The day after burgers, we had to celebrate again by going out for Italian! 271west is an Italian restaurant in downtown Kitchener with excellent reviews, a lovely atmosphere, and great service! Plus, wait till you see the food 😀

  • Left to right: Eddy, me, Mary, Hannah

I actually love this pic! We all look so happy now that we’re [finally!!] about to eat.

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Eddy and Mary ordered the same thing, chicken and grilled shrimp linguine: grilled jumbo shrimp and chicken breast with garlic, tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms in a basil tomato sauce.

PS: no idea who took this photo (Eddy? Mary?) but it’s GREAT! Thanks!

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Hannah raved about the 271west vegetarian spaghetti, which came with fresh broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms and onions served in your choice of tomato or cream sauce.

Also, Hannah, if you’re reading this, your photography skills are top-notch 🙂

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I dove into a big plate of ricotta gnocchi, with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and cambazola cream sauce; this is a house speciality. I cannot get over how delicious this was! The garlic bread was wonderfully bready and satisfying, the pasta cooked flawlessly, and the toppings just right. The mushrooms were cooked really nicely, and the sauce was truly special. I love the fluffy, comforting, cloud-like texture of gnocchi. I thought I was going to be able to finish it, but it was surprisingly filling! I devoured around half of it before getting full. Hannah and Mary helped by eating two gnocchis each before I needed Eddy’s help to finish the rest. Thanks guys!

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While waiting for dessert, we experimented with “natural” shots on my camera, all of which turned out pretty awkward but will be posted anyways…

Dessert came, and for ONCE, I was too excited to dig in before taking pictures. Hannah and Mary shared a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. Eddy ordered one of those as well, and I enjoyed a fruity cheesecake. The two of us went half-half so we could try a bit of each – they were all AMAZING! Still kind of drooling about it right now. Especially that brownie. And the ice cream… and the cheesecake. Basically everything.

  • signature cheesecake: slow baked with fresh fruit
  • boca negra: flourless chocolate cake with a raspberry compote

Also,check these out! I love that marbled one – reminds me of chocolate marble bread!

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Yesterday my blog post was shared by UWaterloo Life on Twitter, which made me feel super honoured. If you didn’t get to see the post, check it out here!

https://cookiesnchem.com/2016/04/11/eating-well-during-exams/

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I can’t believe my first year is basically… done. I say this in practically every other post, but the days are looonnnnng but the months are just too fast. I’m going to miss this whole group of anatomy nerds. 😦

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Have a beautiful rest of the week, everyone!

Taking Time to Save Time: 10 Meal-Prep Tips

Hey everyone!

I had one final exam yesterday morning and have two today, and one tomorrow and one on Monday before a four-day break – and then two more! One down, six to go 🙂

Messages with Seline + goose that symbolizes how we all feel during finals season…

Spent yesterday in the anatomy lab with my friends Athena, Eddy, Alyssa, Shatrice, and our lab demonstrator Jeremy. We’ve been spending many, many hours in the lab recently – I think I’ve been in there for an average of three hours a day over the past week.

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I can’t wait till this whole finals thing is over so I can REALLY catch up on sleep! 6-7 hours just isn’t enough, apparently.

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And onto the foodie tips! Let’s take a look at how to make cooking a fast + easy process regardless of how much is going on in your life. 🙂

Cook a big batch of grains to store in the fridge: quinoa, pasta, brown rice, couscous, etc. I especially like cooking grains in chicken broth or water + a bit of butter + a pinch of salt. This keeps for a week. Or try some healthy muffin recipes!

Chop, wash, and pat dry veggies, then store them in a plastic container in the fridge. Here are some veggies that store well washed and chopped. Make sure to dry them well!

  • asparagus: boiled is awesome!
  • mushrooms
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • zucchini
  • fennel
  • sweet potato: roasted or raw, both work well
  • green onions, sliced or chopped
  • peppers
  • broccoli: I usually boil broccoli and put it into airtight containers
  • squash, especially spaghetti squash
  • beets
  • green beans
  • kale
  • radicchio
  • cauliflower

Lots of veggie ideas on this post 🙂 Plus an awesome coconut-almond sauce for noodles.

Make sauce! Tomato sauce is so versatile, as is pesto or peanut sauce. Keep it in an airtight jar for maximum freshness.

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Cook protein, let it cool, and store it in the fridge. You can top salads with them, stir them into soup, or microwave and eat with a grain and a veggie for a well-balanced meal.

  • chicken breast
  • fish (tuna, salmon, tilapia, etc.)
  • lentils
  • tofu
  • beans (black beans, chickpeas, etc.)

Cook a hearty stew that includes a protein and a veggie. Grains can be stirred in before serving or served on the side. I like squash soup with shredded chicken stirred in, or tomato soup with beans. I always stir some cooked quinoa into the soup to make it even more substantial.

Prepare healthy snack options to grab-and-go throughout the week. You can wash and dry grapes and put them into individual containers or slice up raw veggies like cucumbers, carrots, or celery.

Prepare a big dinner with multiple “parts” on Sunday. The leftovers can be incorporated into lunches throughout the week. Roasted vegetables, casseroles, taco meat… the list goes on!

Make chicken salad, tuna salad, or egg salad. Simply mix up a protein with some mayonnaise and herbs/spices to give it a kick. I love grapes with chicken salad, celery with tuna salad, and paprika and black pepper with egg salad. For all three options, you could also add some Dijon mustard and lemon juice for freshness.

Breakfasts can also be made ahead of time. Try overnight oatmeal (yogurt + milk + oats) with any other fillers you like, including chia and flax seeds, coconut, mashed banana, etc. Overnight oatmeal is my other huge secret! 🙂 Try out this baked banana oatmeal, which is my all-time favourite. Not a banana fan? Pumpkin pie baked oatmeal and apple-cherry baked oats are gonna be favourites. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh berries, try this recipe for berry baked oatmeal. 🙂

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Prepare single-serving “pancake packs”, or homemade pancake mix! Mix all of your pancake’s dry ingredients together. For me, I use 1/4 cup spelt flour with 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp baking soda, as well as a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Toss these dry ingredients together and store in a Ziploc baggie. On busy mornings, simply mix with an egg + mashed banana, a drizzle of milk if needed, and cook on the stovetop for delicious and fluffy pancakes.

Make smoothie packs for the freezer! Freeze up the ingredients you would normally put into a smoothie. This saves lots of washing and chopping time in the morning. Try banana with blueberries and strawberries, or add pineapple or mango for a tropical twist.

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Do you do meal prep? What are some of your favourite tips?

Eating Well During Exams

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It’s exam time. Your desk is buried under piles of notes and empty coffee cups – and balanced meals are the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, this scenario is one that most students are all too familiar with. Even though nutritional choices play a major role in energy, memory, and overall academic performance, university students are likely to ditch healthy cooking in favour of extra studying or a bit more sleep during these stressful times. It’s no wonder that the average university student will gain nearly 3 kg during his or her first year! It might seem like convenient meals are inevitable during finals week, but with these five easy tips, keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape will be a piece of cake fruit.

  1. Beware portion distortion. The bagel you pick up for breakfast every morning is actually four servings of grains, and the entire box of mac and cheese houses 67% of the grains you need for the entire day. Perhaps even more surprising, a foot-long sub is equal to six slices of bread! Listen to your stomach rather than the size of the package. You can also save on more than just the bill by sharing food with a friend when dining out, or taking half of the meal before digging in for a fuss-free meal the next day.
  2. Be food safe. 25% of Canadians get food poisoning every year. To avoid being part of this scary statistic, thaw frozen food on the bottom shelf of the fridge instead of the counter. Be extra careful about cooked food, or dairy products, that have been left at room temperature for over two hours. It is also a good idea to have several cutting boards: some for raw food and others for ready-to-eat food.
  3. Keep your belly – and your wallet – full. Cook at home as often as possible. Did you know that a coffee and a bagel adds up to $75 a month? That’s $900 a year for an unsatisfying and repetitive breakfast void of nutrition. Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy, convenient, and economical. You can also reach for store brands, because they have the same taste and quality but cost much less. In addition to swapping meat for beans, eggs, canned fish, and peanut butter, buy in bulk for baking ingredients, grains, nuts, and spices. Be aware that you pay more for ready-to-eat food (ie. Pre-washed greens, grated cheese, pre-cooked chicken), but these options will still cost less than eating out.
  4. Snack your way to success. Believe it or not, snacking is arguably one of the key components of a healthy diet. Eating a meal or balanced snack every 3-4 hours is critical for preventing dips in blood sugar – in other words, to keep energy levels up and prevent overeating later on. Try healthier nibbles that combine protein with carbohydrates to fuel your brain: trail mix and milk, yogurt and fruit with granola, crackers with hummus, peanut butter and a banana, popcorn and a hard-boiled egg, or veggies and roasted chickpeas. You probably already know that chips and chocolate bars are best in moderation, but be aware of seemingly-healthy snacks. That carrot muffin is actually 500 calories, so why not use just a quarter as a yogurt topping, or split it with a couple friends?
  5. Be sugar smart and fill up with fiber. A 20 oz bottle of pop houses over 5 tbsp of sugar. For good digestion and regularity, as well as disease prevention and weight maintenance, aim for 25-35 grams of fiber daily. Keeping the skin on a potato or apple will increase its fiber by 50%, or try adding dried fruits, nuts, and seeds to yogurt and salads. Beans and lentils can be thrown into soups, chili, tacos, burritos, and wraps.

Contrary to popular belief, healthy food is certainly not equivalent to boring, flavourless, or time-consuming. In fact, it can be quite the opposite! Try some of these simple meal ideas for ultimate deliciousness and loads of brain fuel. Top a whole wheat pita with pasta sauce or pesto, chopped meat, veggies, and cheese, then bake until cheese melts. Cook vegetables, pour whisked eggs on top, and sprinkle with cheese before baking until the frittata is solid. Mix pasta with canned tuna and vegetables (frozen work beautifully!), top with cheese, and broil.

Most importantly, have fun with food and savour each and every bite – even if your plate is sitting in a sea of textbooks!

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One Post, Two Chocolate Recipes

Good Saturday morning, guys! I can’t believe it’s the weekend already. The whole week went by way to quickly, and for one obvious reason – lectures are over! Woohoo!

This calls for a celebration.

A big plate of chocolatey, fudgy, gooey, goodness is my favourite way to celebrate! I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you guys. These are the simplest banana squares ever, but are free of refined sugars/syrups, made without grains, but studded with delicious chocolate chips and taste incredible.

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The ingredients couldn’t be simpler: bananas, eggs, vanilla, some flour and good cocoa powder, plus your usual baking stuff. Did I mention that this recipe is paleo? The paleo diet is one that focuses on food eaten by early humans (you might know it as the “caveman diet”). People following a paleo diet eat primarily meat, fish, veggies, and fruit – omitting refined food, dairy, and grains.

I am not paleo – uh, live without yogurt? No thanks – but I love this recipe because it:

a) Is sweetened only by bananas – four super ripe ones, to be exact!

b) Involves coconut flour and almond flour, both of which add lots of moistness and a wonderful crumb

c) Can be made in ONE BOWL! :O This has nothing to do with being paleo, but still. One bowl?! So worth it.

d) Check out the recipe – there’s not a drop of oil in here! Instead, the two special flours give it so much moisture. Not to mention the four big old bananas in here! Basically, if you eat 3 squares at once (pssshhh, not something I would do at all 😉 ), that’s basically eating a whole banana. In your dessert. With chocolate. Sweet!


Here’s my new favourite recipe!

Double Chocolate Paleo Banana Bread Bars
Makes 12
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup packed coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup high-quality cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon: optional
  • 1/3 cup  chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8×8 baking pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. Mash bananas very well.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla. Whisk until very well combined.
  4. Add baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk.
  5. Add cocoa powder and mix well.
  6. Add almond flour and mix.
  7. Add coconut flour and mix.
  8. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  9. Spread batter into pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting.
  10. Enjoy!

If you don’t like paleo recipes for whatever reason, or aren’t lucky enough to have coconut flour and almond flour sitting on the counter, don’t try to substitute them. Coconut flour is extremely absorbent (hence the 1/3 cup used here), so it is very tricky to substitute with good results.

Instead, why not try one of my other banana cake square recipes?

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As promised, I have another chocolatey recipe for you today! These are vegan muffins that I whipped up one day after class for an amazing dessert and snack. They could even pass for breakfast – check out the ingredients. 🙂

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This recipe makes 12 generous chocolate muffins that freeze very well – I popped five or six into the freezer as soon as they cooled down.

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The rest were devoured in subsequent days. They keep well at room temperature for around 3 days, and you could also store them in the fridge.

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I’m not vegan either, but sometimes I forget to buy eggs and resort to recipes like this one when I need a chocolate fix 🙂


 

Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 flax eggs: 2 tbsp flax + generous 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Make flax egg by combining flax and water. Set aside until thickened and egg-like.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease 12 muffin holes.
  3. Add applesauce, maple, sugar, sea salt, baking soda, melted oil, and almond milk. Whisk until well-combined.
  4. Add cocoa powder and mix.
  5. Add spelt flour and mix carefully. Be sure not to overmix. When there are still some white flour streaks, add most of the chocolate chips. Combine until just mixed.
  6. Divide between 12 muffin holes. Top with remaining chocolate.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
  8. Keep at room temperature for 3-4 days. They also freeze well.

Take a bite and let me know what you think!

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The last couple of days have been pretty busy. I did an acro-yoga class and made some new friends here – the guy at the bottom of our triple plank did a bunch of pushups in this position! Whoa. :O

I’ve been waking up early this past week (around 6:00) and having tea while I study anatomy or physiology, then making a bowl of oatmeal at around 7:30. It’s a great way to start the day.

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During finals season, there are few things better than lasagna from the freezer. I found myself thanking myself for making this, haha!

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I hope “second winter” is almost over. 😦

Coffee shops were visited…

Multiple times. This quiche was freaking amazing. I enjoyed this French-ish meal at Sablétine Pastries near Vincenzo’s in Uptown Waterloo.

Don’t be fooled by the notes – I definitely wasn’t studying while devouring the amazing wheat berry salad, baked potato soup, and zucchini + feta quiche. YUM.

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And I think that’s it for today! I’m meeting with some friends in around half an hour at school to study, and then I plan to do a cycling class at noon. After that, I will likely go to a café for lunch before studying in the afternoon (ehh… hopefully).

Have a great afternoon!

De-Stressing April

Is it April already? My brain and my calendar are telling me yes, but my eyes (and, apparently, the weather gods of Waterloo) are saying NO.

I can’t believe we’re into the spring and have highs of ZERO with about 15 cm of snow outside. Exactly what I wanted during finals season. 😥

Gratefulness, Cindy, gratefulness!

On a much happier note, Saturday + Sunday were my first days of yoga teacher training. You’ve seen me do yoga before, and maybe you read my big spiel about why I want to become a yoga instructor – but now it’s actually REAL.

From 9:00 to 4:00 every other weekend with Waterloo’s yoga QUEEN, Asia Nelson, the mastermind behind Pranalife Yoga. And I finally got to wear that blue-green T-shirt that I got a couple weeks ago! Wearing my favourite colour makes me so happy.

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We did some legal stuff, contracts, and agreements, and spent some time doing a standing sequence on Sunday. We’ve also been discussing a LOT of anatomy, which is good review since I’m taking a couple anatomy courses right now. You’d think that Asia was a Kinesiology major by the way she describes anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics. Wow!

Only downside was my sore butt sit bones ischial tuberosities after sitting on the hard studio floor for 6 hours. I kept on shifting from my knees to my butt and sitting in all different positions on the pillow. It was kind of like sitting through 3 elementary school assemblies in a row! We did get to take walks/mini naps during break times, though. 🙂

And we had to take the classic traditional first-day selfie. No idea how this lady managed to fit 20 people into one shot. She’s a goddess, I tell you.

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Sometimes I feel like I’ve been absolutely everywhere, but that is probably the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself. Have you tried using My Travel Map on Facebook? Really opened my eyes – the world is MASSIVE and there is so much more that I have to see!

I’ve been to Disneyworld and Disneyland in California and Florida (as a kiddo) and lived in Taiwan and China for a couple weeks. Two summers ago, I lived in Quebec and spent last summer with my sister in France (BEST. SUMMER. EVER). We’ve also visited the lovely Sunshine Coast before I moved to Waterloo, Ontario. This summer I’ll be able to add to this map because I will be living in Nepal!

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Delicious, dessert-like oatmeal (my love) – recipe coming in just a couple scrolls. Is this divine or what?

Breakfast for dinner really hits the spot sometimes. Two mediocre whole wheat thins (bleh, I like “thicker” carbs), reheated sweet potatoes, and a super cheesy spinach and mushroom omelet.

Here’s that oatmeal recipe! Pear, dates, and coconut milk make an exquisite combination that is quite fancy in my opinion! Chia and flax are totally optional, so leave ’em out if you don’t have them. Salt is a must, in my opinion because it enhances the natural oat-y flavour and makes the sweetness of cinnamon and vanilla pop.


Coconut Pear Oatmeal

Serves 1
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 date chopped small
  • 1 scoop coconut milk, optional
  • 1/2 pear, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp chia
  • 1 tsp flax
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine oats, almond milk, chopped date, salt, chia, flax, and cinnamon in a pot over medium heat. Cook until thickened.
  2. Stir in pear cubes and coconut milk.
  3. Cook until desired consistency.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Serve with toppings!

For some reason, some chocolate banana bars appeared on top of my oats! I have no idea how they got there, but they didn’t last long 😉

Fresh lasagna… from the freezer. Totally good. I don’t think there’s anything better than a microwave dinner that you KNOW is good for you – even though it’s made with cheese, carbs, and layers of deliciousness. Steamed broccoli and parmesan is my new favourite side.

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Baked oatmeal, a spin off of THIS HEAVENLY BANANA BAKED OATMEAL RECIPE (sorry for the caps – just too excited about it!) with bananas, with blueberries – devoured on a busy morning. Tastes like a big muffin. 🙂

Quick but nutritious lunch that involved butternut squash soup and more of those plain whole wheat thin buns topped with egg, spinach, and cheddar.

Oatmeal pizza cookie! Wait, what? Yes, you just read those three words in a sentence. And it turned out pretty well, so I’m gonna share the recipe with you.

The icing is definitely the best part (as for all cakes/cupcakes/bars), but the base is nutritious, flavourful, and easy to make. This was a fun breakfast because I love switching things up! Oh – and don’t miss the crushed nuts on top. Adds lots more texture!


Super simple and definitely one of those things that you can make many of, and then freeze!

Oatmeal Blueberry Breakfast Pizza Cookie

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 flax egg: 1 tbsp ground flax with 1.5 tbsp water, let sit for 5 mins
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp yogurt (I used Greek)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • pinch cinnamon
  • splash vanilla
  • maple syrup to taste
  • 1 banana
  • crushed nuts, berries, or any toppings you desire.
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with foil and sprinkle with oat flour.
  2. Make flax egg.
  3. Add maple, applesauce, and vanilla. Whisk well.
  4. Add cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add flour and mix. Roll into a ball. Wet your hands beforehand to prevent sticking.
  6. Press the dough ball into a circle.
  7. Bake for 18-ish minutes.
  8. While baking, mix yogurt, PB, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple for topping. Slice banana.
  9. Decorate pizza cookie with toppings.
  10. Enjoy!

Have a bite! The texture is a little hard to describe. It’s chewy, yet has crispiness and denseness. Like a real pizza or a tasty salad, it’s the toppings that make the “vehicle” so delicious. If you’re ever feeling brave, this is the recipe to try!

Hummus on pita with an omelet… again.

I don’t know how many times I have to eat curry in a month. You probably see photos of my curry in every post, whether that’s an indian curry or a Thai-style green/red curry.

Apple almond pancakes made another appearance. This is now one of the only recipes I use – super simple, absolutely delicious, and crazy healthy. The blueberry syrup is simply maple + frozen blueberries popped into the microwave until it becomes compote-like. And hemp hearts always add a bit of that magical look, right?

Inspired to practice some yoga at home when the sun was still out and it looked like spring!

And more on another day. I’m still working on holding my crow pose for a couple more breaths, and I hope to get my feet down on the wheel pose. That’s always a pose that I have to practice after lots of stretching – backbends, like Asia taught us, can be risky. Now I’ll definitely be more careful about this and ask myself WHY I want to do the wheel so badly. Am I gonna launch out of bed in a wheel shape? Would I grab something off the floor by bending backwards? No. So why risk injuring one of the most precious parts of the body – just because it looks cool and feels satisfying? Do I WANT to be able to do a perfect wheel or a flying compass – at the expense of needing a hip replacement or suffering from a slipped disk in the future? Is it worth it? I don’t know.

Sorry. Rant over.

Check this out! TOTALLY relevant for April, which happens to be de-stress month and the glorious month of final exams. Take a look at this infographic. Do you take naps? How do you feel about them? I personally don’t, because I know that a 20-minute nap will turn into a 2-hour nap, which will inevitably lead to me staying up even LATER that night.

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One more thing – Monday was our last day of classes! This selfie was taken with our beloved French teacher. I’m going to miss having her as my prof because she was always so enthusiastic and great at explaining + simplifying things. (PS: just realized she totally looks like a student. Leslie the French teacher is the one on the very left!)

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That’s it for today! Have a great week 🙂

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