So Much To Do – So Little Time

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 Hey everyone!

How are you? I am in the greatest mood ever right now (some chocolate would put me in a better mood, though…), because:
a) I finished my last of six exams two hours ago. What a relief! I am so grateful that all the finals are done. I feel like such a big weight is finally lifted off my shoulders, and hopefully the subconscious-stress pimples that popped up over the last two weeks are going to disappear soon.
b) I will see my family in 15 hours! Okay, 20 hours for me because of the 5-hour flight. But still! It’s been four months and way too long.
c) Christmas is in just four days. WHAT!? Plus, Vancouver might have a white Christmas this year.

My list of things to do this winter holiday is basically a mile long, and I have only 2 short weeks to complete them all! Or, at least, I’ll try Thankfully, most of the things on the list are fun things that I am truly looking forward to. I put this list together in October (thanks to Mom for the idea). Back then, there were only a couple things on it, but as the weeks went on, I started adding more and more things to it, and before I knew it, I had to split it up into multiple sections. Take a look!


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Delicious frittata made with four eggs, asparagus, sweet potato slices, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, spinach, and honey goat cheese

Life-Related Goals

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Quinoa mixed with asparagus, peas, roasted cauliflower, coconut curried tofu, and topped with crushed cashews


Health-Related Goals
  • Get a better sleep schedule: bed before 11:00 and wake up at 7:00
  • Do 10 classes of hot yoga over the two weeks
  • Exercise in the morning
  • Practice cirque yoga moves on the new ball
  • Walk Arnie twice a day with Mom

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Quinoa mixed with butternut tomato sauce, spinach, zucchini, red peppers, squash chunks, mushrooms, and baked with cheddar and goat cheese, topped with pine nuts – served with study notes all about the FITT Principle, which was on my Kin 104 exam!


Things to Eat and People to Meet

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Apple oatmeal (grated in and chunks on top) with pumpkin muffin and hemp hearts


Blog-Related Things
  • Finish publishing all old WordPress drafts, so I can start clean in 2016
  • Manage all WordPress subscriptions so I don’t receive spam from random bloggers, but rather from the ones I know (virtually) and love
  • Write blog FAQs page
  • Add to blog ‘About Me’ page
  • Update oatmeal page
  • Email K.C. about guest posting on her lovely blog
  • Contact K.Y. about a guest post?
  • Contact B.D. about blog and Youtube channel: possible collaboration?

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More yummy quinoa mixed with asparagus, peas, roasted cauliflower, coconut curried tofu, and topped with crushed cashews


Real, Important Things that I Need to Get Done
  • Figure out my fitness schedule for the new semester, and register for the classes I want to participate in: yoga or ballet?
  • Update resume
  • Make a Linkedin account
  • Email E.O. about Mission Nutrition peer education team to find out about the schedule
  • Email H.K. about doing research with her in the lab
  • Finish presentation about Mediterranean Diet and send it to H.K. and T.N.
  • Take a look at medical school requirements and make a list
  • Write a list of reasons why I want to be a doctor
  • Write new article for Young Scholar
  • Email Susan about hospital volunteer hours and switching to another shift after April
  • Email A.N. about blogging about yoga
  • Contact Clair Hills Retirement Home about volunteering there in 2016
  • Fill out Global Experience Certification submission form and submit
  • Make a scrapbook for my summer in Paris with Seline using Mixtape or Artcow
  • Make plans for the summer: volunteer trip with Projects Abroad?
  • Apply for a yoga certification scholarship
  • Make some artwork (drawings or things to sell) for Balding for Cancer, for C.M.

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Lunch at Princess Cafe: curried cauliflower soup with a turkey and goat cheese sandwich with sundried tomato pesto, spinach, garlic aioli


 

BC Shopping List

  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4x dark chocolate bar (need for 4 recipes)
  • Coconut sugar
  • Applesauce
  • Peppermint extract
  • Almond meal
  • Coconut milk in a can
  • Raw almonds
  • Raw cashews
  • Raw walnuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Healthy graham crackers
  • 2x firm silken tofu (12 oz)
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • Dry brown (green) lentils
  • Celery
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne
  • Butternut squash (large, about 1.5 pounds)
  • Breadcrumbs (need for two recipes)
  • Fresh dill
  • Cavatappi pasta
  • 3/4 cup asiago cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese: mozzarella, parmesan, smoked provolone
  • Goat cheese
  • Cauliflower

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with peanut butter, chocolate chips, cashews, hemp hearts // whipped banana oatmeal with banana slices, yogurt, cashews, blackberries, hemp hearts


Back in BC, Mom made a big hot pot one night. Have you tried hotpot before? Do you like it?

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My doggie is always sleepy. I can’t wait to walk Arnie again!

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Seline and the homestay students played monopoly one evening, enjoyed a big roast beef with broccoli, and Mom baked brownies from a mix.

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Seline got her wisdom teeth out a couple days ago and is recovering beautifully. 🙂 That makes me happy as a clam!

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Speaking of brownies, I made these babies AGAIN! Honestly, my roomie and I just cannot get enough.

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I cut one square into 9 pieces and the other into 16.

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I enjoyed two fresh out of the oven (second one unpictured) with peanut butter and Greek yogurt. And as I type this right now, I’m eating another one. I think I’ve been having two of these per day since I discovered the recipe on one of my favourite blogs!

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Another morning I made Steph’s white chocolate blueberry pancakes, minus the white chocolate and topped with kiwi and chopped cashews. This was quite delish drizzled with maple syrup!

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One night I cooked up some fried rice with crispy tofu, plus some roasted sweet potato with aioli drizzle. It was such a dark day!

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See the tray of sweet potato? I ate the entire tray in this one meal, along with all that fried rice. Whoa. I guess I needed all that to power my brain through a long study session? 😛 I know, I’m totally justifying…

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Butternut squash soup and pita with apple, cheddar, goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey. I was so pleased with how this totally-random lunch turned out!

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Quinoa mixed with butternut squash tomato sauce and vegetables, topped with cheese and baked until delicious. This was so, so good and I will be repeating! My broccoli here was quite strange – it was spongy! The flavour was top-notch with garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, but the stalks had the weirdest texture, like there were air bubbles inside. Didn’t taste like broccoli at all – more like a funny eggplant. Has this ever happened to you?

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On Saturday afternoon, I met up with my Altitude mentor. We enjoyed lunch at the Yeti Cafe in downtown Kitchener.

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They sell all different kinds of bread and bagels. The circular wall decorations are actually slices of a log that have been painted and glitter-fied. The man and woman in line in front of me actually bought a couple of these colourful log slices! I wonder how much they cost.

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I started with something hot because it was snowing outside and -7 degrees. After I noted that I wasn’t a coffee drinker, my mentor Rezi recommended the London Fog latte, which I ordered because I love Earl Grey tea. Rezi used to be a barista and told me that she enjoys suggesting drinks to people based on their preferences. What an awesome recommendation – this was made with real vanilla beans and was served steaming hot, with just the right balance between tea and milk. I loved it and will definitely try making a London Fog at home: all you need is an Earl Grey tea bag, some almond or coconut milk, some sugar (maybe honey would work?) and vanilla extract. Mmmm, perfect for warming up on a cold winter day. Do you drink tea? What is your favourite kind of tea? Have you ever tried a tea latte?

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My sandwich was the Smokie: grilled halloumi with homemade smoked applesauce, caramelized onions, and greens in a big, fluffy, Portuguese-style bun! This sandwich was so filling. I gave up on the top bun halfway through but finished the rest – the halloumi was salty, smoky, and so delicious. The last time (also the first time) I had halloumi was at Nuba restaurant in Vancouver, when I had dinner with Rachel. One day, I’m going to buy some halloumi and make it into a quinoa salad topper or the star of a homemade grilled sandwich. Have you tried halloumi before?

Meanwhile, we discussed everything from the MCATs to her experience working and travelling around the world, her odd hospital shifts, and possible careers in medicine that don’t require 10+ years of school. It was a fantastic conversation and I can’t wait to meet with Rezi again in February.

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The Yeti also makes a whole bunch of desserts, and it sure took a lot of will power not to order one of each. The butter tarts actually look identical to the ones at Princess Cafe and I’m sure they get them in bulk from the same provider. These cinnamon croissant cake sticky bun swirly things with cream cheese glaze were calling my name, but I managed to ignore them. Until next time, cinnamon rolls!

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Here is their menu, if you are curious! Next time, I want to try their collard wrap. I was initially debating between the collard wrap (sweet potato, scrambled egg, turkey, kale slaw, greens, aioli) and the Smokie, but both guys at the counter declared that the Smokie was their recommendation, and I’m glad I ordered it. Someone in a table across from us decided on the collard wrap, and it was a monster the size of my head! I have no idea where they got leaves that big and how much they managed to jam in there.

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Cool! And that is it for today. I’m off to wash some dishes, Swiffer my floor (why sweep when you can Swiffer, right? Wise words from the Queen of Laziness AKA me), and then whip up some overnight oatmeal. My flight is at 9:00 AM tomorrow, so my ride is coming at 5:55 AM to pick me up. I’m sure the overnight oats will fill me up, but if no, I’ve also got a pumpkin muffin defrosting. 🙂 So excited to scrape all the little bits of PB out of the jar… on the plane. I wonder how many strange looks I’ll get! Have you ever had strange, or different, food in the public?

Since I’ve been out of yogurt since Tuesday – whoa, how did I manage a week without yogurt? – I’m going to make Oh She Glows’s vegan overnight oatmeal recipe. I made some adjustments based on the ingredients that I have and decreased the amount of oatmeal because I only have 1/3 cup left. 😦

Overnight Oatmeal

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 scant tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scant tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 scant tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
  • peanut butter jar that is almost empty
  1. In a small bowl, mash the banana until almost smooth. Now stir in the chia seeds and cinnamon until combined.
  2. Stir in the oats, almond milk, and vanilla (if using). Cover and refrigerate overnight, or a minimum of 2 hours.
  3. In the morning, stir the oat mixture to combine. If your Vegan Overnight Oats have a runny consistency even after they soak, simply stir in an additional 1 tablespoon chia seeds and place the mixture back in the fridge until it has thickened up. If the oat mixture is too thick, simply add a splash of milk and stir to combine.

And will let you know how it tastes soon! Have a beautiful, lovely Tuesday and I can’t wait to update you all with my exciting two weeks in BC. 🙂

This and That ☃ – with My New Journey

Hi everyone! How are you guys? I can’t believe it’s Friday already. Every day this week seemed endless, but now that I’m looking back on it – the week just flew! What do you think?

I am in a pretty good mood right now, after doing a de-stress yoga class last night and writing my second-last exam this morning. The exam was for my Kin 155 class: Introduction to Neuroscience. It was a difficult course, but the exam wasn’t too bad – I think it went well! That’s always worthy of being in a good mood 🙂

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My exam started at 9:00 and ended at noon, so I just got home and devoured a fantastic lunch: butternut squash soup and a pita with cheddar, sliced apple, goat cheese, and honey. An amazing combination, by the way! Also had some leftover chocolate banana cake squares, microwaved and topped with melty peanut butter. Yes, I made them AGAIN. The fourth time in less than a month – these babies are addictive! Madhulika and I just can’t get enough… stealthy healthy for the win. Still, I need an intervention.

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Later, I’ll be doing a little more studying for my last exam on Monday evening, before heading off to a Zumba class and then a cirque yoga class. Oh! And I’m going to make tofu with peanut sauce tonight. 🙂

By the way, this post is going to be RANDOM. So maybe click away if you don’t like totally random things. I just wanted to share some awesome moments and finds with you guys today!


I received some lovely comments and birthday wishes that made me smile on one of my recent posts, and they made me so happy. THANK you everyone, who sent me good-luck wishes for finals, virtual hugs, and birthday wishes. This message was one of the most special ones to me – it came from a new friend, Mary, who is in all my Kinesiology courses this semester. She sent this to me on Messenger and absolutely made my day! Honestly, this girl is one of the friendliest, most thoughtful people I know and always goes out of her way to help others.

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Another wonderful message – this was from my Grandpa. He started learning English when he was about 70 years old and is currently in his mid-80s. To him, you can never stop learning for as long as you live. He is such an inspiration to me.

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I volunteer every Sunday morning at the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener. I usually leave the house at 8:30 (unless I miss my bus, which hopefully doesn’t happen again!) and arrive at 8:50. My shift starts at 9:00 and ends at 12:00, and I spend all three hours in the Children’s Inpatient Clinic. This is where kids go if they are preparing for surgery or recovering from another medical procedure. Sometimes, there are as many as 20 kids on the unit, but other times there are just two. I love volunteering at the hospital but really miss the Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam, BC, where I used to volunteer. What I liked about the ERH was that there were lots of teens on each unit, and we got to talk with each other while doing paperwork and interact with the seniors.

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On the children’s department, it’s a little different – the parents are REQUIRED to be there with their children (under 17), so there isn’t much patient interaction. But I have done some awesome things like pick up a 3-day old baby, play with a 4-year old leukaemia patient, and do crafts with the sibling of a sick newborn. Most of the time, however, I’m doing paperwork, getting photocopies from the mail room, and decorating the unit. Last Sunday, I plastered 121 red socks and green trees all over the walls to bring some Christmas cheer into the children’s department!

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Sunny, but windy as usual.


Totally random: funny things I found on a Facebook page dedicated to hilarious (and occasionally wise!) things that UWaterloo professors say in lectures!

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And my favourite statement – this was from my Biology professor:

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How true is this?! It takes me a good 15 minutes to craft a well-written email to a professor, and the responses are typically “yes” or “sounds good”… sent from an iPhone. Does that happen to anyone else?

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ZUMBAAAA! Guys, I am in LOVE with Zumba now. I suck at it. I’m one of the worst dancers you will ever meet. You’ll probably throw up if you see me try to “shake it”, and if you watch me copy the instructor, you’ll wonder why I’m always 3 beats behind and so uncoordinated!

But Zumba is a ton of fun. It’s 50 minutes of full-out cardio but feels like 15 minutes of fun dancing (well, it kind of is). It’s incredible and I love sweating the stress away. Know what I mean?

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Hey students, does school stress you out? For me personally, I really enjoy school and don’t get stressed out by deadlines or exams or a busy schedule. However, when people around me start panicking, I feel anxious too. How about you?

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Wise and thought-provoking tidbits from around the ‘net:

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Both of these made me think…

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Does anyone follow Humans of New York on Facebook? Something huge happened recently as Brandon Stanton interviewed some refugees – President Obama commented in support of this refugee scientist. Amazing!

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Mom bought a fitness ball (what do you even call these things?) from Value Village last week and Seline has been having fun experimenting with it! I can’t wait to play on it when I get back in… OMG… 4 days!

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This is going to be me as soon as I land in the airport. I miss you guys so much – okay, I’m over it, where’s the sushi?

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I’ve been messaging Mom a lot recently. Most messages are photos of my daily oatmeal or her funny little comments.

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It’s funny because half the time, I have no idea what she’s trying to say. Do you get this woman? 😉

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Either way, things have been going very well back in BC.

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Mom’s meals are typically a mix of Chinese and Western food.

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Her breakfasts and lunches for our five homestay students are simple: bread with meat, PB, jam, egg, cheese, etc., and dinners are more elaborate.

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Arnie, my doggie who is now six and a half, is still as dopey as ever! Seline had fried chicken last night because she is getting her wisdom teeth out soon. Uh oh! I got lucky in that I didn’t need to get my wisdoms out – I had four teeth pulled out for braces.

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I always find it crazy how mature Seline looks – she’s always so put-together while I’m just going crazy. School comes so easily to Seline and she makes friends like a rabbit makes babies. Whoa, I am the WORST at analogies. Anyways, dressing up and looking nice at school is a breeze for her, but I just don’t put in that effort! Actually, I have a theory that the uglier I dress for an exam, the better I’ll do. No evidence here, just justifying the whole sweatpants and sweater mentality. I wish I had Seline’s patience and dedication to wearing makeup – the last time I touched makeup (okay, I didn’t even touch it) was for prom eight months ago! Oh man, prom was eight months ago?!

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These have absolutely nothing to do with anything but I just think they’re awesome and want them in my room. Now. Aren’t they CUTE? I am in love with ocean-y things and found these on Buzzfeed.

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Sometimes we all need a little reminder:

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My roommate’s boyfriend, yup – same guy who made the amazing pumpkin pie from scratch, is also the King of Meal Planning. He cooks lots of wild rice in a big rice cooker, makes a whole pot of mixed vegetables, and bakes up some lean chicken breast. He has lots of containers that he fills with these goodies, and his meals are always balanced and super-healthy. Don’t these look tasty? He usually cooks every Monday.

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Now Madhulika and Arsalan have lots of eggs and toast for breakfast. Sometimes, they spread avocado on it to make yummy avocado toast!

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 The exciting news?! In April, I will start a 200-hour yoga teacher training program with Pranalife Yoga!

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I’ve been thinking about becoming a yoga teacher for a long time. I taught figure skating for 3-4 years before moving to Ontario for university, and ever since I quit skating I felt like something was missing from my life. I’m going to do a longer post about this (hopefully before 2016), because I really want to share my skating story with you. 🙂 Anyways, I’ve been doing yoga regularly for over a year and really discovered a love for the practice of yoga. When I found out about this program, I was super interested and got in contact with the lovely Asia Nelson right away. Before I knew it, I was handing her the money order and receiving my confirmation! This means that next December, I will be a certified yoga teacher. I can’t wait and will definitely make a post on this as well.

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I am so thrilled to embark on this new journey in 2016.


In other news, my dad might be coming mid-winter to visit me in Waterloo! He’s essentially self-employed with a group of other renovators, and since the workload is much lighter in the winter, he’ll have some spare time to travel to Ontario. The best part? He’ll be studying with me.

Nah, what a joke… “you read, he watches movies”. LOL!

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Yup, that’s it for today. I’m off to do a little studying and cleaning around the house now. I hope you all have a delicious weekend and I can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to recently 🙂

Apple Almond Pancakes {Grain-Free}

Mmmm, pancakes.

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Let’s count the reasons why pancakes are one of the number one breakfasts in the world:

  • They are melt-in-your mouth tender and have a great texture that I can’t get enough of
  • You can top them with as many different kinds of nut butter as you want
  • Cinnamon and vanilla give these pancakes MASSIVE flavour. As soon as the batter started sizzling on the pan, my roomie’s boyfriend commented that these smelled amazing 🙂
  • They are loaded with protein from almond meal, or ground almonds
  • Even more protein from the egg – this recipe has TWO eggs to serve one: tripling up on the protein here!
  • They can be topped with berries and other sliced fruit
  • Chocolate chips melt on top of these hot cakes and become gooey 🙂
  • Yogurt blobs add creaminess and a little tanginess
  • A drizzle of maple syrup would be perfection here, but I didn’t feel like that was necessary

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Even better, these p-cakes are grain-free and made with simple ingredients – you’ll need vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder (optional), two eggs, applesauce, almond meal, coconut oil for frying them, and little salt. The almond milk is optional too, depending on the thickness of your batter.

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The first time I tried making these, I thought I’d replace one egg with a flax egg, hence the lonely egg in the photo above. Bad idea! This recipe is already very “wet” with applesauce, so you need both eggs to help them bind together. If you look at the blackberry-yogurt pancake photos above, you’ll see that they ripped a little as I tried to flip them. The batter just wasn’t sticky enough.

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Anyways, two eggs, some applesauce and almond meal make up your base, and the rest is up to you! I recommend cinnamon and vanilla, plus as many toppings as you like 🙂 I made this post last year with a big list of pancake toppings that you can try to give these even more flavour and nutrition. Perfect!


Apple Almond Pancakes {grain-free}

INGREDIENTS

Makes 5-6 medium pancakes, serves one person

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (I used one packaged applesauce cup)
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder, OPTIONAL (I made this twice, one time without the baking powder and the results were identical)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tbsp. maple syrup or honey, OPTIONAL
  • Coconut oil to cook
  • Fruit, chocolate chips, or other pancake toppings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk eggs in a bowl. Add applesauce, maple/honey, and vanilla. Whisk well.
  2. Add baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and mix well.
  3. Add almond meal and mix gently until combined.
  4. Heat skillet to medium-low and cook pancakes in coconut oil when fully heated.
  5. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side, or until firm enough to flip. Be careful – these pancakes bubble, but are still so tender and difficult to flip! Cook the second side for 4 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Serve with toasted nuts, nut butter, yogurt, jam, fresh fruits, chocolate chips, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

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The plain pancakes, without toppings, are just under 300 calories for the entire batch that serves one. You’ll be getting a whopping 4 grams of fiber (that’s 16% of your daily value!), as well as 16.2 grams of protein. This recipe is also high in Vitamin A, C, calcium and has 14% of the iron you need in a day. Even better, these pancakes are very low in sodium, high in a variety of minerals, including riboflavin and selenium, and are made with all real foods. Amazing.

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My favourite toppings are sliced fruit, nut butter, yogurt, berries, and sometimes, more maple syrup. Next time, I’m going to make a double-chocolate version and enjoy that with coconut and peanut butter. Mmmmm. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

If you’re looking for some other pancake recipes, you can check out my recipe page or take a look at some similar-but-different recipes below:

Have a beautiful day everyone 🙂

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Tell me:

  1. How often do you make pancakes for breakfast? Are they a weekend thing or an everyday thing?
  2. Anything exciting coming up for the weekend? We’re only two days away!
  3. How do you feel about Christmas being just eight days away?

Seven Shores Urban Market & Cafe

Good morning everyone! I hope you’re all having a delicious day so far. I have a great meal that I wanted to tell you about – I enjoyed lunch at Seven Shores Urban Market and Cafe in Uptown Waterloo last Thursday. 🙂 I normally always hate sharing iPhone photos because my iPhone 4 takes pictures no better than, say, a calculator. No, I’m not kidding. Take a look!

Regardless of the fact that these photos are crummy and that I’m forgetful enough to leave my camera at home (probably a good thing, considering the chances of me losing it are 50/50 here). I started off with their organic, house-made chocolate milk, which came in a cute jar. Things in jars make me happy. 🙂

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I think the chocolate milk was made in skim milk and the lady making it didn’t use quite enough cocoa powder, because this was a little bland and tasted like plain ‘ole milk. That might just be my taste buds, though, because I like things REALLY chocolatey, whether that’s chocolate cake squares, oatmeal, or a pot of straight up melted chocolate in Paris.

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My entree was the crepe, filled with spinach, goat cheese mousse, red peppers, and caramelized onions. The soup of the day was tomato-garlic. The caramelized onions in the crepe really made it special! This was a nice and light entree, but I was still so full afterwards.

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So full –> still need dessert, because who doesn’t have a second stomach for sweets? This square was their special carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

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It was such a big square, and I should’ve asked for it to be cut in half, but OOPS! It was amazing, though, and I savoured each and every bite. The creamy cheesy frosting was to die for.

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Yeah, don’t be fooled by my notes out here. I was “studying”, but not really studying – I mean, HOW can you focus on social stratification and the Thorstein-Veblen thesis (I was studying for my Sociology exam) when there’s a square of carrot cake in front of you?

That is it for today! I’m going to wash some dishes, clean my room a little bit, and in Jack’s wise words: do anything that’s not studying! 😉

One more thing – ONE WEEK until Christmas?! What is this? I’m not complaining – the holiday season always cheers me up, even if the weather doesn’t. I feel like just yesterday, I was scouring the shores of the Sunshine Coast for seashells and seals. Time really does fly. Anyways, enjoy the rest of your week and I will see you in my next post! 🙂

An Interesting Start to my 18th Year

This post was thisclose to being titled a bunch of other things: A Series of Unfortunate Events, A Surprise Birthday, The Best Birthday Present of All, Twists and Turns, or All’s Well That Ends Well.

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The Best Birthday Present of All would’ve been a pretty good title, actually. No, it wasn’t a new laptop or a new jar of nut butter. It wasn’t from a friend or a family member, or even my roommate…

The best birthday present I received was actually given to me by Customer Service at the Charles Street Bus Terminal in Kitchener. Long story – let’s start from the beginning.

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I had a lovely Friday night and Saturday leading up to my birthday on Sunday, December 13. I have three more exams (three down, woo!) and a little over a week until I can see my parents again. In the meantime, I’ve been studying by myself and with friends.

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On Friday night I made a massive tray of roasted cauliflower – that’s the entire HEAD of cauliflower – and ate over a third of the tray. Freshly-roasted cauliflower with salt and pepper is addictive, guys! Caramelizing veggies in the oven always takes them up a notch.

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I had more oatmeal. This bowl is one of my favourite combinations – chocolate banana base, with nut butter and pumpkin muffin on top! And chocolate chips. Can’t forget those 🙂

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On Saturday I made a plate of super-veggie quinoa topped with goat cheese and lots more roasted cauliflower with garlic, peas, and sweet potato aioli.

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We still haven’t gotten to the crazy birthday present story, by the way.

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Dessert was enjoyed – pumpkin ricotta muffin slice (I froze a whole bunch last time), microwaved with a square of chocolate on top and enjoyed with some peanut butter. Delicious.

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Butternut squash tomato pasta with asparagus, zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, and spinach, topped with pine nuts and parmesan. This pasta wasn’t bad, but could’ve used a little more zing.

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Sunday morning – my birthday morning – started with a big bowl of pumpkin oatmeal with all of my favourite toppings: cashews, hemp hearts, nut butter, chocolate chips, yogurt, and berries. It was so good! While I enjoyed this bowl, I typed out a new post and shared it with you guys before going to the hospital. Then things started going wrong – I missed my bus and had to walk 20 minutes, wait 15 before taking the next one. Once I got to the hospital, I had about 600 sheets of paperwork to clip and file and organize. Don’t ask me how I managed to do this, but I dropped the entire stack. Twice.

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Lunch was definitely on the simple side. I usually go to Princess Cafe after hospital shifts on Sunday, but I had a meeting with my study group so I thought I’d come home and have some eggs in a pita instead. These cheddar-spinach green onion eggs tasted so good in a whole wheat pita with avocado and pepper. Yum! Before I headed out to meet my friends on campus, I clipped my mailbox key onto my lanyard so I could check my mail. Grandpa emailed me earlier and told me that he’d sent a handwritten card, and I couldn’t wait to see it.

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So after studying with my study group and having leftovers for dinner, I found out that my cycling class was cancelled. Boooooo. 😦 I thought that was the worst part of the night, until another disastrous event happened.

So we studied a little longer, and then I decided to get on the bus and go home to study by myself. By now, it was 10:00 PM and my back was aching from carrying my laptop, textbooks, binder, and dinner containers. As soon as I got off the bus (a two-stop ride that takes only 10 minutes!) and walked into the unit, I reached into my pocket to grab my keys to the apartment – and realized they weren’t there. I left my keys, identification card, and shoe tag all on the lanyard, which was now on a bus going to downtown Kitchener. I was so frustrated because I ALWAYS zip my pocket, no matter what – except this one time.

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What do I do?! I paced around the “lobby” of my apartment for a minute (not even a lobby – it’s just a room with a mailbox and a heater). I didn’t have the keys to get into my apartment, and obviously couldn’t get into my unit or room either. My mailbox key was on the lanyard too, as well as my identification card which I needed to write final exams. Normally, I don’t panic in situations like this, but I think I was so overwhelmed by finals, and the anxiety my friends radiated was rubbing off on me subconsciously. Stress is contagious!

Anyways, I called GRT (Grand River Transit) and told them what happened, but the lost and found was closed. Then, I gave a quick call to my housing manager, who told me to wait 50 minutes while he drove over from Kitchener to unlock my doors. I waited, and waited, and waited – he didn’t arrive until 11:00 PM, and meanwhile I was so grateful that I didn’t lose my phone! Thankfully, his keys worked and he let me into my unit. I’d never been so happy to see my room! He charged me $50 for that, though. 😦

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The next morning (Monday morning, or yesterday), I called GRT several times with no luck. No one turned in my lanyard. I decided to call my housing manager again to see if I could get replacement keys, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to lock my doors – or unlock them!

Get this:

  • Replacement keys: $200
  • Replacement mailbox key (this was the only time I’ve EVER had my mailbox key on me): $60
  • Replacing my roommate’s key: ?? I didn’t want to know!
  • Replacing my University of Waterloo identification: $20
  • My shoe tag: $25
  • Grand total: over $300

My mom was NOT satisfied to hear that. While stressing over the $300 I might have to pay, as well as the missing identification card that I needed to write my final exam, I tried to study but kept getting distracted. 😦 At around 10:30, I gave GRT one final call – someone turned in my lanyard! It was safe and sound in the Charles Street Terminal, in downtown Kitchener. I cried happy tears a little bit a lot when I spoke to the man on the phone and he sounded super confused, so I explained that I had finals coming up and didn’t want to pay $300 for replacement keys, etc. He wished me luck on my final exams and told me to come pick them up anytime. 🙂

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I hopped on the next bus right away and had to pay the $3.00 fare that I usually don’t need to (students can just show bus drivers their ID for a free ride in Waterloo!) and settled down in the bus to read my notes for the fiftieth time during the half-hour ride downtown. Sure enough, my lanyard was there, with my keys, mailbox key, shoe tag, and ID on it. Since my room and unit door were unlocked, with all my belongings at home, I had to rush home to lock the door.

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My mailbox key was used immediately to check out what was in the Unit 11 box – cards! Grandpa did send me a card, and so did Mom, Dad, and Seline. The adorable Starbucks baggie had an iced snowman shortbread cookie inside. That was a kind gift from my friend Maddy last night. It was so kind of her to think of me and to buy me a dessert 🙂 Stephanie, it was the SAME shortbread snowman you shared in a previous post of yours!

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The new cards were taped onto the wall above my bed so I can be constantly reminded that my family won’t forget me! I love my room. 🙂

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It was starting to rain, and by now it was way past noon so I decided to celebrate by going to Princess Cafe for a belated lunch 🙂

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Their sweet potato and dill soup was fantastic – a little bit on the dilly side, but delicious nonetheless. As for the sandwich, I ordered the curried tuna with seasoned tomato and cheddar, on a multigrain bun. As usual, this baby did not disappoint! I enjoyed my meal with a side of cellular respiration.

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I asked for the sandwich to be pressed extra long, so it would be crispy and the cheese fully melted. Amazing! I can’t wait to try recreating this curried tuna sandwich at home.

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After the lunch, I tried to study but started getting sleepy. I didn’t get much sleep the night before with the missing lanyard on my mind. Anyways, I was getting sleepier and sleepier and wasn’t able to focus on boring cycles anymore – so I went up to the front counter to order some desserts. Sweets always wake me up! This coconut cream puff was a new addition to their menu, from a brand-new bakery. It was a massive round dessert, so I asked for it to be cut into thirds and have some packed up to go. I enjoyed a big third of this dessert along with some whipped cream and cinnamon. This coconut cream puff was one of the best desserts I’ve had – the shortbread base was buttery and fresh, the coconut cream layer rich and decadent. Coconut desserts are either delicious or disgusting in my book, but this was a solid 9/10 in the world of desserts! What a pleasant surprise 🙂

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Zumba, flow yoga, and studying were done after that, and I came home late – after 8:00! – and made a super-quick dinner of curried coconut tofu with spinach, asparagus, peas, and mushrooms, topped with cashews. Couscous cooked in veggie broth made a tasty base.

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I really enjoyed this dinner 🙂 It took just 10 minutes to make because I’d prepared the veggies, chopped the tofu, and had the sauce defrosting in the fridge.

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Madhulika and her boyfriend came back from Mississauga with a plant for me! And a beautiful card that she drew herself. And she brought some black bananas so chocolate banana cake squares will be made soon! 😉

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They are such lovely people.

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My weekend, and the Monday, sure were eventful – it’s Tuesday morning now and I’m going to wash my dishes, study a little bit, and then clean up around the house before heading off to write my Biology final exam. I can’t wait till that’s over – then there will only be two left 🙂

All’s well really does end well!

Have a lovely week, everyone, and make sure you zip those pockets.

Holiday Cooking + Baking Bucket List

Good morning everyone! I’m writing this quickie post as I eat a big bowl of oatmeal, before I hop on the bus to go to the hospital for another volunteer shift. The weather is so miserable right now and I’m so happy in my fuzzy penguin pyjamas with a big mug of Earl Grey… but I’m still excited to see what’s in store for me at the Grand River Hospital today. No two shifts are ever the same! After the hospital, I’m going to either have a curried tuna sandwich at Princess Cafe, or come home to make easy cheesy scrambled eggs and pita bread. Then I have plans to study in the afternoon before a cycling class at 8 pm. Sounds like a busy day 🙂

By the way… I’m 18 as of today! 😀


Anyways, here are some of the recipes that I am dying to make in 22-13 days! 🙂 I can’t believe exams will be over and I’ll be home in just nine days.

Vegan peanut butter cup pie – this recipe uses tofu, maple, coconut oil, and PB of course – with chocolate and graham crackers. Is this perfection or what? The idea of using tofu in a sweet dessert has always intimidated me, but this looks too creamy to resist. 🙂

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Creamy, No-Cream Tomato Basil Pasta would make a lovely, hearty, but not overly-rich dinner. This is one of several Oh She Glows’ recipes that I’m going to feature today. I checked out her cookbook in the mall one time and fell head over heels in love with her work.

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Flourless Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies were a family favourite last year and I want to make them for all the family gatherings this year. People are always stunned to find out that this recipe is not only flourless, but involves chickpeas!

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One blogger friend – shoutout to Jack! – recommended this recipe for lentil loaf with maple glaze. I’ve been thinking about it for the longest time and can’t wait to try it.

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Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie by Minimalist Baker: This recipe has only six ingredients and I’ve always wanted to try baking with tofu. Plus, that chocolate-date crust looks amazing!

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I’ve made cookie dough bites a couple times before, but I am sure none of them will compare to this one, which features almond meal, maple, coconut oil, and chocolate. Oh She Glows is a recipe genius – these peanut butter cookie dough bites will be my holiday addiction for sure.

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Coconut Butternut Squash Soup looks creamy, spicy, and so hearty. I had something similar at Princess Cafe and wanted to recreate it! 🙂

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With all the holiday indulgences I’m planning to go for, this banana-peanut butter milkshake green smoothie will help me get that iron, calcium, and countless nutrients into the body.

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Vegan, Gluten-free Meatballs are so intriguing, and these photographs are making me drool. Planning to give this a try ASAP!

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Gooey Pumpkin Spice Latte Chocolate Pudding Cake… how amazing does that sound? The only problem with this recipe is that I might accidentally inhale the entire tray of melted chocolate-pumpkin goodness.

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You guys know that I love tuna salad a lot (at home, or in cafes!), but this chickpea salad looks equally delicious. I am stoked to try this out with chopped bell peppers.

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Caramelized Sweet Potato, Garlic, and Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese: I have no words for this, except maybe O-M-G.

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This list wouldn’t be complete without cheesecake! This vegan peanut butter cup cheesecake caught my eye and I cannot get it off my mind. Another one to make as soon as I can!

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Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. Can I repeat that? Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. Holy moly.

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They’re Rolos – but they’re NOT! I am super excited to make these 5-ingredient vegan “Yolos” by Oh She Glows.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza has been on my mind for the longest time and I think it’s time to give it a try! This recipe has a special trick to it, and involves goat cheese – my favourite.

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I’m also itching to make an apple rose to top my morning oatmeal with!

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These Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles remind me of Larabars, which I love, in ball form! Even better – plus they are made with only 5 ingredients. Thank you again, Minimalist Baker!

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