Finals ➳ Furniture ➳ Fries ➳ French

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. The last week or so was quite hectic – last Friday was the last day of my final exams. We wrote the exam in the physical activities complex, which is currently being demolished to make way for a brand-new athletic facility.

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After the exams, I started taking photos of furniture to sell. The hardest part was clearing all of my things from the drawers and figuring out whether I wanted to sell, store, or take them home.

I also had to remove some of my beloved photographs and collages from the wall, unfortunately tearing out some paint. At least now I will have a souvenir to take home? I guess this is why I paid deposit. 😦

Things were packed, sold, and stored.

I also had to take these lovely cards from the wall and take pictures of them before I threw them away. I love these cards and wish I could keep them forever.

The room was a disaster once the furniture was moved out of the way. Look at all of the dust and hair! It was highly satisfying to sweep it all up with my dollar store Swiffer. Many trips to the dumpster were also made.

On Friday, all of my furniture was cleaned and a very kind man, his wife, and his brother-in-law came to take the furniture away. They are furnishing an unfurnished house in Waterloo and actually needed all the furniture. Moving was so much easier with some extra hands. Fourth floor, no stairs – no problem!

From left to right:

  1. New high score? Seline would not be proud. Her current score is over 1200!
  2. I posted on Twitter about my moving sale items, which were cross-posted initially on Kijiji. Princess Cafe responded to my tweet. I am going to miss them, too 😥
  3. Can you believe the small dots in this picture are all grey? This one still shakes me. Seeing is believing… until it’s not.
  4. Theatre Arcturus was founded by my new aerial coach, Lindsay. She retweeted me! That made my day.

I saw a hilarious series of finger twisting tricks online and wanted to give it a try. I could only do this easy one, but some of the others were mind-blowing. It would be neat to have double-jointed fingers and be able to freak everyone out.

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So, with all my furniture moved out, including my nice mattress, I’m left with five nights and a whole lot of floor. The first night was pretty uncomfortable and I woke up a few times throughout the night, but last night I felt alright. It was mostly my tailbone that didn’t like being pressed into the ground.

Lunch yesterday was lovely. Went to Timeless Cafe and Bakery with four friends: Christina, Victor, Daniel, and Danielle. I had the open-faced trout melt with parmesan and artichoke soup. Both were amazing, especially the creamy heap of trout salad and sharp cheddar on homemade seed bread. For dessert, we savoured some brown butter cherry loaf, raspberry and white chocolate scone, coconut and chocolate macaron, and a great salted hazelnut chocolate brownie.

Breakfast this morning was scrumptious. I made banana bread a while ago, using Greek yogurt and no honey/maple syrup because I ran out. The bread was a little dry, and not very sweet, so I Frenched it up with 1/2 mashed banana and a whisked egg, then fried it up in butter before topping it all with coconut chips, granola, chopped prunes, peanut butter, and blobs of yogurt. This is my new favourite breakfast!

My walk to a cafe was was wonderful this morning. I’m writing this now in the comfort of Balzac’s, which smells like roasted coffee beans and fresh muffins. I just had the best London Fog tea latte 🙂

This breakfast was so good that I actually had it two days in a row! Have you ever made French toast out of an “untraditional” loaf – like zucchini bread or carrot cake?

Dinner last night had all my favourites. Broccoli and peas sautéed with couscous, sweet potato fries (cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon + S/P make the best seasoning) and garlic aioli, plus garlic-butter salmon.

I could eat this every day! In fact, I will make it again for dinner tonight 🙂

A few days ago, scrambled tofu made an appearance with zucchini, peas, and mushrooms. The poached egg on top turned out very well – I boiled water, turned it down to a simmer, then carefully cracked an egg into swirling water. Then, I removed the pot from the heat, covered it for exactly 4 minutes, and voila, runny poached eggs. Also, that isn’t some plain ‘ol pita – it’s fried up with cheddar inside to make a pseudo grilled cheese!

That’s it for today, and I better get studying. My French final exam is on Tuesday evening and there is a lot of culture and vocabulary that I’ve yet to look at.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Holy Cannoli

Mattachioni is an Italian restaurant in the Junction. I ordered this tasty pizza for one, which had the crispiest, doughiest, freshest-tasting crust I’ve had. It was topped with fresh mozzarella, stracciatella (like burrata), basil, arugula, and marinated tomato. It was a “pizza bianca”, which means that instead of tomato sauce, it was dressed with a mild white sauce.

Dessert was two pieces of this cannoli. It was my first time trying cannoli, and I’m in love. Crisp, cookie-like, with a citrusy sweet ricotta filling, these were hearty and the perfect way to end my meal.

Is this true or what?

I found these charts quite helpful, especially the one about marinating times. How about you? Do you like infographics like this one?

My class schedule is out! Yay! These are my courses for the spring/summer term, which goes from May 1 to mid-August. I really like my schedule, especially the Friday 😉

I’m so excited about this roti that I can’t type anymore. Creamy, spinach-y, and loaded with flavour. Saag paneer (spinach and paneer cheese) is my all-time favourite indian dish. This was so filling and I was dying halfway through but powered through the whole thing. Worth it!

My grandma is the most thoughtful, content, candid, and funny person I know. I was lucky to FaceTime with her on Saturday afternoon.

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Some recent meals cooked by Mom back home in BC.

And two quinoa flour recipes! Again, I don’t have any pictures (Best Food Blogger of 2017… I know) because I love baking after dinner. And sadly, there’s never any natural light by then!

Quinoa Flour Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional but recommended

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. Place all ingredients except quinoa flour in blender. Blend well.
  3. Add quinoa flour and mix to combine. Add chocolate chips. Stir.
  4. Spread batter into pan.
  5. Bake 55 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool and enjoy!

Healthy Quinoa Flour Carrot Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and/or line pan with coconut oil.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (almond flour to sea salt)
  3. Mix wet ingredients together (melted coconut oil to grated carrots). Mix until smooth.
  4. Add dry to wet, whisking after each addition.
  5. Pour batter in prepared pan, tapping on the counter to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool 20 mins. Flip over and release when cool. Cool completely before slicing.

That’s it! I have an 8-page report due TOMORROW and I’ve only written one, so I should go now!

PB Mug Cakes, Yoga, and a Disappointing Cafe Experience

Happy new week, everyone!

I’m starting to fall in love with yoga the more and more I do it! I’ve been going to hot yoga every day since final exams ended and doing a teeny bit of practice by myself in the kitchen. Do you like yoga? What are some of your favourite poses? To you, is yoga more emotional, spiritual, or physical?

One afternoon I took a nice walk around Victoria Park in Kitchener. It’s been a while since I’ve seen rippling lakes and green grass!

Tea latte at Café 22, one of my favourite places in Uptown Waterloo. This was their small London Fog latte, which I highly recommend. So good. And I actually want one right now.

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We recently moved our dining table next to the window, so I get to look out the window and at my laptop while I eat. 🙂 Also, Arsalan (roomie’s BF) came home from Japan recently! He was so kind to give me two beautiful handmade ceramic teacups. Aren’t they pretty? Do you like handmade utensils or kitchenware?

I’ve also been volunteering at the Research Institute of Aging, where Professor Heather Keller, my nutrition professor, leads a team of students to create healthy recipes for seniors. Turns out a MASSIVE percentage of seniors in long-term care homes are malnourished, whether it’s because they don’t like the food, they don’t have an appetite, or they aren’t enjoying the mealtime experience.

Bloggers, I could use your help! Let’s brainstorm some ideas for recipes that are…

  1. Not labour-intensive: it needs to be easy for cooks to prepare
  2. Can be made in bulk
  3. Can be refrigerated or frozen
  4. Not expensive: we have nearly $8 PER DAY, PER PERSON, so that rules out coconut flour, quinoa, etc.
  5. “Traditional”: sorry, no hipster things like green juice, kombucha, kale, etc.
  6. Nut-free, because of allergies
  7. High in nutrients! For example, sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes
  8. Easy to chew and swallow: this rules out things like sticky date balls, crunchy nut clusters, etc.

Tricky, right? What are some of your ideas?

PS: our first idea was avocado pudding, but turns out one serving is 3 avocados, which is $9 in total. :O That idea had to be trashed, unfortunately.

Salmon fishcakes! They were simple: 2 eggs, 1 can salmon, and a bunch of spices.

When I didn’t have any baked goods for dessert, I just melted some chocolate and ate it with strawberries for a makeshift fondue.

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Vegan butternut squash pasta with a nutritional yeast sauce and spinach. I actually quite liked this, despite my LOVE for real, creamy cheese.

I bought some [expensive!] strawberries and they didn’t taste that good. 😦

More pasta, this time with brown butter and sage! Idea from a special commenter 🙂

Baked oatmeal…

… enjoyed two days in a row.

Went to My Thai, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo, with the roomies one day! Arsalan enjoyed vegan pad thai.

Madhulika and I enjoyed the amazing emerald curry with coconut sticky rice.

We shared banana spring rolls for dessert with vanilla ice cream! What a great end to the meal.

Leftover curry sauce turned into a delicious vegetable stir-fry the next day.

And then there was STILL leftover curry sauce, which became vegetable noodles! I was uncomfortably full after this. It doesn’t look like much, but I was stuffed!

Yeah, yeah… more pasta.

I don’t even have the effort to explain how good this was. Please make this.

Best-Ever Peanut Butter Mug Cake

  • 2 tbsp. spelt flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
Whisk together and microwave for 60 to 80 seconds.

This was one of my favourite meals of the week: quinoa with sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, spinach, roasted red peppers, and avocado on top with cayenne pepper and lemon juice. It was surprisingly filling!

More baked oats. Attractive, I know.

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Thoughts on warm salads? I used the last of my goat cheese here. So yummy!

Coconut and pineapple Thai-style fried rice was devoured another day. Seared tofu makes it really satiating, while pineapple provides a punch of flavour.

Roasted and shredded salmon on top of baked broccoli and yukon gold potatoes. They were all tossed with couscous and served with avocado and goat cheese. YUM!

And a simple oatmeal topped with a makeshift “crumble”, which was almond and coconut flour with nut butter, maple syrup, and some coconut oil.

More of the same 🙂

Spicy coconut-peanut noodles with tofu and shredded carrots and zucchini, and seared tofu.

I usually make two servings of whatever I have, so that a) it’s easier to make b) I’ll have another meal the next day.

These are some recent Mom meals: banana muffins, shrimp and chicken pasta, and some Chinese dishes. She also went on a cookie-baking rampage the other day and whipped up a whole table’s worth of COOKIES! What are your favourite dishes cooked by Mom? You know, the ones that simply cannot be replicated?!

This morning I took the bus to Pure Kitchen and Juice Bar after volunteering at the Grand River Hospital. I do patient registration, which is fun until there are 20 people in line, with two “Pats”, a “Jon” and a “Ron” and a “Don”, and a “Kryzhchevish”. My job is to take everyone’s name, record some health information, and call them up when their appointments are ready.

Anyways!

Pure Kitchen is located in the heart of downtown Kitchener. I had REALLY been looking forward to it for a long time, and when I got there, I was even more excited!

For my lunch, I decided on the small grain bowl, which came with brown rice, oven-roasted chicken, roasted sweet potato, chickpeas, spinach, sprouts (literally THREE sprouts, not satisfied), raw seeds, roasted mushrooms, and a spiced cranberry vinaigrette. Am I the only person who doesn’t like cold chicken? How do you guys feel about it?

Disappointment #1: For around the same price, you can have all of the ingredients placed into a whole wheat wrap. I asked for that option, grilled, but they were out of wraps. Um, you are a sandwich + soup cafe. You serve wraps. It’s 12:00, noon – how can you be out of wraps?

Disappointment #2: I asked for the meal to be served in a bowl, but they told me that they only provide these wasteful cardboard-paper box things.

Disappointment #3: Three sprouts in here.

Disappointment #4: Why was this cold? In fact, it was almost freezing. If the menu states “roasted chicken” and “roasted mushrooms” as well as “roasted sweet potato”, customers would assume that they are hot, or at least warm, right?!

Disappointment #5: Four massive leaves of spinach. Massive.

On the bright side, the rice was really good.

These were on the table for samplers, and they weren’t terrible. The green juice was a little bitter, and the granola was sticky, too chewy, and topped with a brown pineapple sorbet thing that never melted. I wouldn’t buy any of these.

I also ordered the Feel Good smoothie, which was made with maca, cacao, banana, almond butter, and almond milk. Sounds amazing, right?

WRONG. The $8 smoothie tasted “burned”. I have no other way of describing it. I couldn’t detect a hint of banana, almond butter, creamy almond milk, or even chocolate. The only flavour I could describe was a BURNED flavour.

Disappointment #where are we… oh #6: The smoothie tasted like a scorched tree branch or piece of firewood that had been blended with a scoop of ice.

I asked for the smoothie to be re-made after having half of it, and the lady did re-make it for me, this time it was so icy and not fully blended.

Disappointment #7: Smoothie #2 was 90% unblended ice.

The best part of the meal was the almond croissant that I enjoyed for dessert. It was truly amazing and almost redeeming. Have you ever had a croissant for dessert? Slightly heated up?! Oh my goodness, it’s gold.

On a totally different note…

How do you guys feel about running? If you’re a runner, what motivates you (ie. what do you THINK about when running?) If you aren’t a runner, what are some of your favourite ways to squeeze in some cardio?

Also, do you have to race to be a runner?

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Alright, that’s it for today! It’s 9:17 PM and I feel like I just ate dinner. Which, I kind of did. I always feel a little guilty for eating dinner after 8:00 PM, but unfortunately, I have commitments, I have things to do, and sometimes, it just isn’t realistic to have a beautifully-made dinner fresh on the table at 6.

Today, it was a lasagna that went from freezer to microwave at 8:30 PM because I got stranded at Goodlife Fitness because it started pouring (and thunderstorm-ing). 😦

Do you feel guilty when you end up eating later? Is there a certain time that you don’t “allow” yourself to eat? Back at home in BC, my mom was ADAMANT that after 6:30, no food allowed. For 18 years of my life, as soon as the clock ticked 6:31, it was “too late to eat”. This mentality really stuck with me and caused eating problems in my life. Thoughts?

PS: I just found out that I can click on all the tags that I want to add to this – I just added about 999 tags to this post, haha! 😀

Healthified PureBread Chocolate Banana Bottom Recipe

This recipe was from a loooooonnnng time ago. Like, a year ago. And by that, I don’t mean December 2015… I’m talking February 2015.

But it’s better late than never, right?

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Especially if it involves bananas and chocolate.

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This recipe was inspired by a dessert that I enjoyed from PureBread Bakery in downtown Vancouver. After my first bite, I knew the dessert was delicious but could be made 10x better at home with more bananas, less sugar, and some sour cream for moistness. This is what I came up with, and I found it even better than their famous chocolate banana bottom!

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Healthified PureBread Chocolate Banana Bottom

INGREDIENTS
  • 160g coconut sugar, light brown sugar, or sweetened coconut chips
  • 115g melted coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g sour cream
  • 2 medium overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 170g spelt flour, divided into 95g and 75g
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 35g semisweet chocolate chips for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 square baking pan.
  2. If you are using coconut chips, place them into the blender to grind into sugar. Add melted coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Blend until thick and creamy.
  3. Mash bananas until slightly chunky (mostly smooth!) and stir into wet mixture.
  4. Add baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt into wet ingredients.
  5. Pour half of the wet ingredients into a separate bowl. Now you have two bowls with equal amounts of the banana-sour cream mixture.
  6. Add 95g spelt flour into one bowl. Stir to just combine. Do not overmix.
  7. Add 75g spelt flour and 20g cocoa powder into the other bowl. Stir to just combine. Do not overmix.
  8. Pour chocolate batter into the bottom of the square pan. Spread, shake, and tap on the counter to allow the batter to cover the bottom. Pour the plain banana batter on top. Spread carefully. Do not mix the two layers!
  9. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the chocolate-banana bottom for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 16 squares and serve!

9 servings (106 g each) = 332 calories, 18g fat, 23g sugar, 5g protein
16 servings (60 g each) = 187 calories, 10g fat, 13g sugar, 3g protein
20g serving = 62 calories, 3g fat, 4g sugar, 1g protein
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These babies are rich, moist, and fluffy all at the same time. I enjoyed slices with peanut butter, and others au naturel.
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Definitely on the fussier side for a recipe, but so worth it. 🙂 This is my mom’s favourite banana bread recipe!
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Let me know if you give this a try!

Mom’s Favourite Almond Cake + Flourless Banana Bread Muffins

Good afternoon, guys!

After having Nao Sushi with the family in Burnaby on Saturday, we went to Fondway Cafe for some dessert and drinks. The sushi we enjoyed before this was so yummy that I couldn’t even pause to take pictures! We ordered six rolls for four people, and lunch boxes and soup for the other four. Since it was my last time having sushi before six months in the sushi-deprived province of Ontario, I STUFFED myself on way too many pieces to count. Worth it – sushi for life.

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Anyways, Fondway Cafe is a cute place hidden in Burnaby. It’s fairly new and specializes in Taiwanese-influenced coffee drinks and “Westernized” Asian desserts. Or, perhaps “Asianized” Western classics.

Address4462 Beresford St, Burnaby, BC V5H 2Y8
Open 10 AM to 9 PM every day

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Dad had the honey lemon coffee, and Uncle Charles enjoyed a lychee coffee, their specialty. I love how the coffees were served – all the layers were separated for some reason. I have no clue how they did this, but it sure looked neat!

I wanted to try an almond butter croissant, or maybe a chocolate almond croissant (I know, I have a problem). But instead, we settled on their berry almond tart, which I found to be just average.

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This home-baked almond cake with berries and stone fruit on top, though, knocks that one completely out of the park. With a moist crumb, a mild nutty flavour and richness from almonds and some butter, this fruity almond cake is perfect for dessert with a mug of coffee or hot chocolate.

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I used spelt flour, but you can easily replace that with all-purpose or gluten-free flour with the same results. Any fruit would work beautifully on top – I had some blackberries in the fridge and peaches in the freezer, so those two lucky fruit made it onto the top of my cake. 🙂 I think a raspberry and white chocolate version would be delicious, as would one with blueberries in the summer. Caramelized apples? Sliced banana and nuts? Chopped cherries? Yes, yes, and yes.

Did I mention how EASY this is to make? Essentially, all you have to do is toss a bunch of ingredients into a KitchenAid mixer and watch the magic happen. But if you aren’t as lucky as I was to have a KitchenAid at your fingertips (I don’t anymore, now that I’m back in Waterloo!), a big bowl and a handheld electric whisk works just as well.

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We brought this to a family gathering, and even though we sliced it into twenty-four teeny slivers, each one was devoured. While playing cards with my dad’s coworker’s children, I was called to the adult table in the middle of a came of Mao (have you guys played that game?! Most. Addictive. Card. Game. Ever.) to explain what was in the cake! The adults just couldn’t figure out what made it have that unique nutty flavour and soft, melt-in-your mouth texture.

The secret? Almond meal! Get your hands on some and get those hands dirty… make this cake. 🙂

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Mom is probably the biggest fan of this baby, so I named it after her 😉 Behold, the recipe for Mom’s Favourite Almond Cake – perfect for parties, get-togethers, or maybe a one-person-cake-eating celebration.


Mom’s Favourite Almond Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 175 g (3/4 cup) softened butter
  • 175 g (1 cup) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 175 g (1 ¼ cups) spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Big handful of blackberries, raspberries, cherries, or blueberries
  • Sliced peach or nectarine (I used frozen peaches that I defrosted in the microwave)
  • 2 tbsp sugar for sprinkling (OPTIONAL)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan (we used coconut oil) or line with parchment paper. Using a springform pan works very well, we found!
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and very fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the ground almonds, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add flour and stir gently. The mixture will be very stiff. That’s perfect!
  7. Spread the cake batter into the cake pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula or spoon.
  8. Decorate with fruit and press the fruit into the cake. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  9. Bake for one hour, or until a knife comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before placing it onto a cooling rack.
  10. Cut into slices before serving and enjoy! Best eaten the day baked.

Check out how perfect the crispy crust is! I regret not doubling tripling the recipe – I could’ve eaten much, much more and wish I stashed some in the freezer. 🙂

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On a totally different note, I made these nutty, flourless muffins before flying to Waterloo. They’re all hidden in the freezer because, well, I hoard muffins. Especially ones made with all my favourite ingredients: nut butter, bananas, cinnamon and oats. These muffins taste just like banana bread, minus the effort – they were made in less than ten minutes in Mom’s Vita-Mix. Which is why I had to make them back home in BC and carry them in my backpack to Waterloo. Gosh, having a blender is such a blessing.

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This recipe is almost (just wrote almond) too good to be true. Next time, I’m adding chocolate chips and chopped nuts! Please give this one a try – you won’t regret having a big batch of healthy, energizing muffins at your fingertips. So let those bananas rot and get baking!

PS: if you aren’t a fan of almond butter/almond meal, or simply don’t have them – check out some of my other banana recipes by clicking on the links below:


Flourless Banana Bread Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup (128g) almond butter
  • 4 overripe medium or large bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup rolled or quick oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or another 1/2 cup rolled or quick oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying 12 cavities with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until oats are broken down and batter is smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before removing. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week – if they last that long!

That’s it for today! Today was my first day of classes and I have a couple readings to do before tomorrow’s class – still sticking to those New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂

Have a yummy week and I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I did!

10 Ways Food Blogging Ruined My Life

 Welcome to my first post of 2016…
  • Becoming a foodie abolished my inability to realize that I will never be a perfect eater, exerciser, or writer. I’m never going to throw my hair into a perfect messy bun and complete a 5-mile run before dawn, then come home for an organic kale-goji-maca-spirulina (what even IS spirulina?) smoothie. I will never master the art of photography or write flawless blog posts. And that’s okay. It’s fine if I feel sore one day and skip a workout. It’s not a problem if I “accidentally” have two extra scoops of nut butter after my morning oatmeal (this happens regularly!). Food-blogging has helped me understand that the most I can do is my best, and that I should always shoot for the moon knowing that I will land among the stars if I miss.

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Quinoa tossed with roasted zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and white cheddar

 

  • It took away all of my laziness and lack of creativity – because I love playing with food. Honestly, oatmeal artwork seems like a pretty trivial and ridiculous hobby, but it’s so therapeutic. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of devouring a big bowl that’s been decorated in a way that makes you happy. I’ve mentioned this before, but a bowl of cooked rolled oats is essentially a blank canvas for any ingredient you wish: you can let your imagination run wild with oatmeal and do some very, very innovative designs on those oats.

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Green smoothie bowl made with one frozen banana, 2 tbsp peanut butter, almond milk, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, pinch of salt, some cinnamon, and lots of spinach – topped with berries and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It smashed my fear of travelling alone, or doing things by myself. Because food is the motivation for 99% of my adventures (no kidding here, I went to Paris solely for the croissants), I know that I will never get tired, afraid, or worried along the way. Food is always on my mind and inspires me to be brave and walk just a little further. The craziest thing I’ve ever done for food was probably ride the Metro for two hours in Quebec last summer, then walk for a good half hour just for the shredded duck and fig jam sandwich in Montreal. Totally worth it.

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Whole Foods hot bar buffet lunch: favourites included the chicken tomato stew, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, and mashed yams

 

  • Becoming a foodie took away any shyness and anxiety I had previously, towards interacting with people my age. Knowing about food and being able to talk about it made me a much more outgoing person. Now, when I meet new people, it’s so easy to strike up a conversation and keep it going, especially if one of us has food involved. I just have so, so much to say about food!

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with crumbled hazelnut chocolate muffin, blackberries, and sunflower butter with crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It vanquished my ability to criticize other people or judge them without knowing them. How can I point out other people’s weaknesses without first analyzing my own? Reading about the lives of other food bloggers has really opened my eyes about countless other factors in their lives: most of the time, it’s not all about food. I’ve learned so much about their underlying fears and problems, and I can relate to so many of them. Now, it’s hard for me to make a negative pre-assessment of someone without understanding their past or celebrating their strengths at the same time.

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Tea time at Aunt Mimi’s: Whole Foods cheesecake, Whole Foods apricot and blueberry coffee cake, with some dark roast coffee with brown sugar and whole milk

 

  • It completely destroyed any desire I had to be average, “okay”, or normal. Why should you be mediocre when you can be innovative? Inspiring?  Encouraging? Original? Food blogging, cooking and baking, and even talking about food have helped me discover my “voice” and passion for health.
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Get-together at family friend’s house: stir-fried vegetables with shrimp, eggs with radish, tofu, pan-fried fish

 

  • It shut down all my frustration and inability to cope with “uh-oh” situations. There isn’t much you can do when the beautifully-ripened avocado turns out to have mushy brown flesh, when you find bugs in your spinach, or when your sister accidentally gobbles up the famous Parisian macaron you were planning to enjoy. Now, I’m realizing these little things are really not the big deal I hyped them up to be at the time. These little things just aren’t worth stressing over.

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Get-together with Dad’s coworkers and their families: fruit, asparagus + scallops, eggs + leeks, stir-fried udon and vegetables, cantaloupe, and purple yam + taro tapioca soup with coconut milk for dessert

 

  • It screwed up any dread or anxiety I felt before addressing adults. Speaking to my elders has always been a forte, but I’ve refined this skill so much that I actually look forward to interviews and answering tricky questions. When I used to volunteer at the Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam, it was terrifying to think that I had to spend several hours a week engaging in conversation with sick and injured people aged 70 and above, many with physical and cognitive disabilities. The challenging thing was knowing that I shouldn’t talk to them about clothing (they have to wear hospital gowns), their significant others (may or may not still be with them), their illness or injury (no one wants to talk about this!), or their hospital room (many of them were bitter about their rooms and roommates). Initially, I felt like there was absolutely nothing to chat about with these elderly patients – until I realized that most of them loved sharing stories about their hometowns and the food they enjoyed there. Sometimes, patients told me about their beloved recipes, childhood meals – which, gosh, are SO different from today’s salmon-and-quinoa dinner – cooking hacks, and more. One time, a lady called Maria from Greece described how she made tzatziki based on her grandmother’s recipe. The secrets include a pinch of white pepper and salting and wringing out the grated cucumber to prevent it from diluting the yogurt.

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Curry-yogurt chicken drumstick, quinoa with roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini // vegan pumpkin spice latte chocolate pudding cake with maple yogurt and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It drained any chances I had of missing out on getting to know countless supportive and inspirational people, many of whom are dietitians-to-be or share my passion for food. The network of foodies, online and offline, is truly amazing. I wasn’t intending on naming some of them, but now I feel like sharing their wonderful blogs with you guys – please do check out some of my absolute favourite people on the Internet: the supportive and hilarious Stephanie from Mindful Eats and Treats, the sweet, down-to-earth domestic goddess Kate of The Domestikated Life, the sophisticated and talented photographer Jack of Jack’s Balancing Act, the crazy-creative and thoughtful Cassie at SuperFitBabe, and Cora of My Little Tablespoon, who is not only a brilliant writer, but also a recipe queen. You guys inspire me with each and every blog post, and I know that I will always be in store for a treat whenever you publish something new. Thank you for that.

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Carrot cake oatmeal with mashed banana, chia and flax, topped with crumbled banana almond muffin and sunflower butter

 

  • It destroyed my fear of food. Not much else needs to be said here.

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Tofu fried rice with vegetables // spinach and ricotta ravioli with roasted red pepper and parmesan

 

I know that there might be some negative habits and behaviours involved with being a healthy food blogger, but for the most part, they certainly don’t. In fact, the compassionate comments and words of encouragement far outweigh the dark side of being a foodie! Blogging about food and life has encouraged me to gradually mature into the well-rounded and accomplished adult I hope to become, armed with all the skills and assets I need to tackle personal and professional situations in the future.

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Whole wheat pita topped with sweet potato slices, spinach scrambled eggs, goat cheese, and sweet potato aioli // quinoa with butternut squash and tomato sauce, pine nuts, veggies

 

Cheers to the delicious life: a life filled with friendship, laughter, cake, cheese and chocolate.

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Classic Mom dinner: lotus root patties, taro and chicken stew, stir-fried vegetables with sesame