9 Reasons Yoga is a Better Workout Than the Gym

You might associate the word ‘yoga’ with fit, flexible young women in tight clothes. Contrary to what you might believe, it’s not just an activity for bendy 20-somethings. Here are some of the reasons you should give yoga a shot!

  1. It helps you set goals. Many yoga teachers ask you to set an intention for either the yoga class itself or another aspect of life. Simply telling yourself “I’ll respect my body for one hour by doing only what I feel like” can have surprising long-term effects.
  2. It boosts confidence. On top of the uplifting spiritual values, meditation can release mental tension and form an internal connection with yourself.
  3. It increases flexibility. “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” is 100% untrue. No matter how tight your muscles may be, yoga will stretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a safe way to increase mobility.
  4. Relieve stress. Yoga goes beyond training your body to reframing your mind. It allows you to see the bigger picture, unplug from distractions, and connect with your body and various sensations.
  5. Refresh your spine. Gentle spinal twists help to loosen up the many joints that compose your spine. In addition to improving your tennis game and golf swing, a healthy spine is critical for a long, salubrious life. This may promote detoxification and good digestion. Backbends, forward bends, and twists provide spinal disks with movement to keep them supple.
  6. Prevent injuries. Yoga reminds you to honour your body’s needs and limits, which change week-to-week, day-to-day, and even by the hour. In every yoga practice, it is important to do a mental scan of your body and take note of how you feel physically and emotionally. Exercises such as running involve rapid, high-force movements, which involve an imbalance of opposing muscle groups. Yoga focuses on balancing the body by honing in on muscle groups and engaging them in a safe, healthy way.
  7. Improve concentration. Clearing some room in your jam-packed schedule for a yoga class can help you slow down and take a moment to tame that endless stream of thoughts. Yoga offers the ability to be present, notice only the sensations that are happening, and develop the sense of calmness.
  8. Tone muscles. Yoga ditches barbells and machines to build strength using your own body weight – think squats, planks, leg lifts, and pushups. Because a yoga practice progresses from one series to another, different parts of the body are strengthened and lengthened without putting too much stress on specific muscle groups.
  9. It can be as easy or as hard as you want. For challenging classes, find one titled ‘Power’, ‘Vinyasa’, or ‘Flow’. Gentle, relaxing yoga classes include ‘Restorative’ and ‘Yin’.

Marvelous Minerals

Remember my post about vitamins a while back? Here’s la part deux!

Iron

  • Why it’s important: transports oxygen
  • There are two types: heme iron from animal sources (beef, pork, etc.) and non-heme iron from plants (beans, nuts, seeds, raisins, spinach)
  • Heme iron is absorbed better than non-heme iron
  • Iron is best absorbed when paired with Vitamin C from bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and citrus

 

Calcium

  • Why it’s important: healthy bones, muscle function, blood pressure regulation
  • Where to find it: milk, yogurt, cheese, green vegetables, seafood, beans, fruit, fortified drinks

 

Potassium

  • Why it’s important: regulates blood pressure, important for heart health
  • Where to find it: dark leafy greens, potatoes, squash, yogurt, dish, avocados, mushrooms, bananas

 

Magnesium

  • Why it’s important: regulates blood sugar, heart health
  • Where to find it: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, fruit, dark chocolate

 

Trace Minerals

  • Chromium, copper, iodine, selenium, and zinc are minerals that you only need a small amount of every day

 

Antioxidants

  • Many different chemicals: Vitamins C and E
  • Prevent harmful substances called “free radicals” from damaging healthy cells
  • Prevent cancer, heart disease, and other diseases
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Return of the Pretty Oats

I’ve started making my oatmeal look pretty again!

I guess it’s time to update the Oatmeal page, too.

I recently bought a little carton (is that the right word? Clamshell?) of blackberries on discount, and those little guys made their way into every oatmeal bowl.

Another day I went grocery shopping at Whole Foods and could not resist their hot bar… again.

Fried rice was also made and enjoyed along with the beautiful twinkly view of downtown Toronto. And yes, that’s a sweet potato with yogurt, granola, and peanut butter for dessert – truly a la Cassie!

Tsujiri’s is a Japanese dessert store that specializes in matcha desserts. I had the famous Tsujiri sundae to see what all the hype was about! Creamy, flavourful, and delicate, this sundae was balanced with crunchy rice puffs, chestnut, mocha, and a sakura-blossom cookie. Rachel, if you ever come to Toronto, this is the place for you!

Another day I devoured a chocolate almond croissant while walking around. I originally bought it for a breakfast treat, but it was fresh out of the oven and I couldn’t resist “just one bite” until I was left with just crumbs. This rocked my whole weekend.

This is the atrium, a beautiful mall-office hybrid next to my work building! I come here to drop off the mail once in a while.

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I had some bok choy and other Asian veggies to use up, so they were all sautéed into this quinoa stir-fry with egg, edamame, and mixed veggies. It was delicious with a soy sauce/sesame oil/sriracha/maple syrup sauce.

I’ve been craving banana baked goodies recently and made this batch of healthy squares. Made in the blender with only a few ingredients, these are nutritious, dense, and loaded with amazing banana flavour.

Blender Coconut Flour Banana Squares

Serves: 9 squares

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 pan.
  2. Blend all ingredients well in the blender. Allow batter to sit for 10 mins.
  3. Pour into square pan for 40 minutes, or until top is golden and knife comes out clean.
  4. Remove and cool for 1 hour before cutting. Cut and enjoy!

They also make a delicious oatmeal topping! Don’t be fooled by the pics – I definitely had seconds and thirds of those squares. 🙂

Ice cream was also devoured. This was from Fugo’s, a specialty ice cream shop across the street from my work. Dangerous, I know. This is why I can’t bring my wallet with me to work! This scoop had Skor bits, brownie chunks, and a caramel swirl.

So my biggest revelation this week was that I am actually a gelato girl. This incredible cup was loaded with coconut gelato and black sesame gelato from Millie Creperie/Creamery. I could NOT get enough of this and will be going back ASAP. The coconut one makes me drool just thinking about it. I wish I could show you how flavourful and tasty it is!

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Sweet potato oatmeal topped with a crumbled blueberry buckwheat muffin. YUM!

The view from my place on the 31st floor. Whoa.

After silks another day, I headed to Gloria Cafe for this amazing meal. It was very unlike me to order plain tomato + cheese toast, but this sammie blew my mind. Freshly-baked bread, salt and pepper, slices of tomato, butter, and creamy cheese were whipped into this incredible panini that I’m still daydreaming about. Will definitely be going back to Gloria Cafe for more of this deliciousness. Almond tart for dessert.

Scrambled eggs with spinach and cheddar are so simple, but dead delicious.

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I believe that’s it for the day! Have a gorgeous Wednesday everyone 🙂

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Throwback to Waterloo

This is a post I wrote about a MONTH ago but never posted, because… who knows? I don’t.

Let’s start of with memes, because… memes.

I really, really want to see the new Disney movie Moana. She is so beautiful, and I’m loving the movie’s message and the freaking theme song. Amazing tune, incredible vocals, and gorgeous animation scenery. I’m such a Disney aficionado. Do you like Disney? Have you seen Moana?

True.

How has 2017 been treating you so far?

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I’ve also been trying to sell these textbooks. It’s been going okay, but a little stressful. The worst is when people see your message and don’t answer. GRR.

The other day I went down to the Kitchener Market. It was so hectic, but fun to walk around and see all of the vendors.

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Working on my first aerial silks routine. I’m thinking of performing to the song Life of the Party by Shawn Mendes. It’s been one of my favourite songs for a long time, and for a good reason! What a beautiful, empowering song by a brilliant and super-talented artist. Do you know that song? If so, thoughts? These are some of the bits of choreography that I’d like to do before getting on the silks.

Kinda late, but cool.

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2 eggs and a ripe banana made some tasty crepes!

Oooh check out this pasta!

I had leftover ricotta, and the blobs of ricotta on top made this extra AMAZING. Used a mix of penne and bow ties because I wanted to use up both.

I was featured in my school’s newsletter!

And one day I made Thai curried fried rice.

Can you figure out this riddle? What number should be where the parked car is? Trust me, it’s not as hard as it seems and there’s no math involved…

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Last week of Waterloo also involved searching for the perfect leotard! I have a hard time with tank tops and t-shirts at aerial silks, because they always seem to catch and get ripped in all directions. I needed something tight and wouldn’t ride up and give me belly burns!

New website plans?!

Sleep like a baby is my favourite one 😀

More of that fried rice. Yay for peas. They are so good.

Leftover pasta! Mmmm that ricotta.

Really ugly toast that I was going to delete, but I remember it tasting really good. PBJ on one slide, and chocolate-almond butter on the other.

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Glad the winter is 2/3 over! Fingers crossed.

Great recipe that I made and love. I froze all of these and brought them to Toronto. Still eating them!

Buckwheat Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 1/4 cups blueberries, coated in some flour
Mix and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Muffin tins will be very full.
 I also made these vegan banana muffins that I enjoyed a LOT!
Vegan Banana Muffins
Serves 10-12
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed until chunky
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
Mix and bake at 375 for 17-22 minutes.
 Y’all should try this soup, too. I enjoyed it for DAYS! Tastes like its from a fancy cafe 🙂
Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 4 cups no-salt added vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)
  • 1/2 heaping tsp salt (I used vegetable salt)
  • 14 oz bag frozen broccoli, or 1 large head of broccoli, steamed and chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch cayenne, optional
  • Italian seasoning to taste (I used a sprinkle of basil)

Instructions

  1. Add chicken broth and salt in a large pot. Stir and cover. Boil and reduce to simmer.
  2. Cook frozen broccoli by steaming or microwaving for 5-7 mins. Add to simmering broth.
  3. Measure flour into a large bowl or jar. Add milk and put on the lid. Shake it around until flour is well mixed into milk.
  4. Remove broccoli-broth from heat and add flour and evaporated milk mixture all at once. Return to medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, saving some for the topping. Season.
  6. Serve!

Okay, that’s it because I’m heading out now! Bye, guys! I promise I have a good post coming up. I know this was not the best 😦

The Wonderful World of Vitamins

Vitamins are tiny chemicals that your body uses in small amounts to grow and repair itself. They perform hundreds of important roles in the body, like strengthening bones, healing wounds, and making your immune system more powerful. They turn food into energy and repair damaged cells. If you do not eat enough vitamins, you may have a deficiency. If you eat too much of one vitamin, however, it is considered toxic. Vitamins come from plants and animals, so it is critical to eat a variety of foods.


Vitamin A

  • Why it’s important: healthy eyesight, night vision, developing healthy skin, and growth of strong bones and teeth
  • Where to find it: bright orange and green vegetables, like carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, and dark leafy greens

 

Vitamin B6

  • Why it’s important: maintains normal brain function, makes hormones, enzymes, and hemoglobin (protein molecule in a red blood cell), antibodies for immunity, and insulin
  • Where to find it: fortified cereals, beans, vegetables, bananas, eggs, meat

 

Vitamin B12

  • Why it’s important: makes hemoglobin, maintains healthy nerve cells, makes DNA
  • Where to find it: shellfish, fish, meat, dairy products

 

Folic Acid

  • Why it’s important: normal growth and maintenance of all cells, makes red blood cells and DNA
  • Where to find it: dark leafy greens, avocados, beets, broccoli, orange juice, strawberries

 

Vitamin C

  • Why it’s important: supports immune cell functions, makes collagen, maintains body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds
  • Where to find it: bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, brussels sprouts

 

Vitamin D

  • Why it’s important: helps absorb calcium, builds strong bones and teeth
  • Where to find it: sunshine, milk, fatty fish like wild salmon or sardines, liver, egg yolks, vitamin D-fortified foods

 

Vitamin E

  • Why it’s important: antioxidant that protects healthy cells from damage
  • Where to find it: vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, wheat germ

 

Vitamin K

  • Why it’s important: helps clot blood after injuries
  • Where to find it: broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, lettuce
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Cheesy Waffles, Coconut Flour Brownies, and Makeup (ʘ_ʘ)

Quickie post this morning because I have to go to TD Bank and deposit my first cheque! Yay for PAYDAY 🙂
On a completely different note, you should run to the store ASAP and pick up some chocolate chips and coconut flour, because these amazing paleo brownies need to be made. I was totally skeptical about coconut flour in brownies (haven’t had much luck with coco flour in the past), but these were spectacular.
Not only were they easy to make, but they also tasted SUPERB. Fudgy yet a bit cakey, and 100% chocolate deliciousness.
Coconut Flour Brownies
Serves: 9 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ heaping cup honey (you can also use 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar)
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8×8 nonstick pan or place parchment paper on it.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Add the chocolate chips, cocoa powder and honey. Stir the mixture until the chocolate chips start to melt, then remove the pan from the heat and stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is very smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together the almond milk, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  5. Sift the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes so that the coconut flour can absorb some of the liquid.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Not really a recipe: 2 eggs + 1 ripe banana in the blender with a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and some salt, then enough coconut flour and almond milk to make pancake-batter texture. Cooked in coconut oil and topped with almond butter and yogurt, these were filling, SO delicious, and hearty.

I made a massive batch of granola to take with me to Toronto. Not sure why I’m posting it now. This granola recipe is the one I always use, but this time I tripled the recipe!

First time making gnocchi was a success! I used fresh gnocchi from Vincenzo’s, the Italian grocery store, and added leftover pumpkin pasta sauce, mushrooms, and zucchini. Cheese on top is pecorino romano!

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Broccoli-cheddar soup was also made and enjoyed alongside avocado toast.

A couple weeks ago, I went from Waterloo to Toronto for my first training session at work. Since my work starts at 10:00, and I left Waterloo at 6:00 AM, I had plenty of time to stop at Lady Marmalade, a brunch restaurant in Toronto. There, I enjoyed these super cheesy spinach waffles with two poached eggs and a tomato-orange sauce. Avocado on top instead of bacon – the perfect touch 🙂

Oh! And a London Fog latte was also chugged. This was amazing!

Toronto is such a bright, diverse, colourful city. The Christmas-ized mall was lovely.

Have you make shakshuka before? This certainly wasn’t the most authentic, but I followed Minimalist Baker’s recipe, made a couple changes, and enjoyed this chickpea rendition. It was especially yummy on top of quinoa with a smattering of nutritional yeast.

1-Pot Chickpea Shakshuka
Serves: 2 cups (3 servings)
Ingredients
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • sea salt to taste (depends on whether your diced tomatoes are salted/unsalted)
  • 1 tsp smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch cardamom
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
FOR SERVING optional
  • Lemon wedges
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
Instructions
  1. Heat large metal skillet over medium heat. When hot, add oil, pepper, and garlic.
  2. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, coconut sugar, sea salt, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional), and cardamom (optional). Stir to combine.
  4. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Scoop 3/4 of the sauce into a blender and blend for a creamier result.
  6. Add chickpeas. Stir to combine. Simmer for 15-20 mins to allow the flavours to develop.
  7. Taste. Adjust seasonings.
  8. Serve with bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. Garnish with lemon juice or spices.
  9. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop until completely warmed through.

Waterloo was SO snowy! Good thing there isn’t a speck of snow in Toronto now.

On my last day in Waterloo, I went to Alexa Baker‘s lovely studio for a photoshoot. She has a great studio in Kitchener, where model Victoria did my makeup and helped me get used to the lights.

Here are some of the photos that emerged! We took the yoga shots today, and the silks photos are from a couple months ago 🙂

In honour of the two weeks that I lived completely alone in Waterloo ( 😥 ), here are some tips for things to do!

Things To Do When Home Alone

  1. Play music really loud
  2. Take a nap
  3. Read a good book
  4. Do a home spa treatment (I made homemade oil + brown sugar + baking soda exfoliator for my legs and feet, which get so dry in the winter!)
  5. Watch a movie
  6. Clean up (sad but I actually did this)
  7. Call a friend
  8. Talk to yourself
  9. Buy food
  10. Make food
  11. Eat the food
  12. Draw something pretty
 Bye for now!