Digestion 101: Biochemistry Basics


Don’t let the word ‘biochemistry’ scare you away.
Easier said than done, I know – biochemistry scares me all the time. You know what else scares me? My bank account, disappearing spiders, and that feeling of dread when there’s no toilet paper left. But that’s not the point of this post. Back to biochem! I am going to try my absolute best to explain a couple processes of digestion in simple, easy-to-understand terms. After all, why say “resynthesized into triglycerides” when I can tell you that we’re “making fat again”? Here we go.
Let’s take a look at how we digest carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are mainly found in starch. If I ate a bowl of oatmeal right now (mmm, oatmeal), digestion actually begins in my mouth. Chewing helps break the food into smaller pieces, which is good because the increased surface area means more space for enzymes to break down the oats. My spit contains salivary amylase, an enzyme that helps to break down the carbohydrates in my oatmeal. When they enter the body, they are broken down into single sugars inside our guts and on the surface of cells in our small intestine. Cells in our small intestines have a lot of surface area, so it is easy for them to make enzymes and absorb nutrients. Small intestine cells absorb these simple sugars using special cell transporters.
Fats are a bit more confusing, but still cool!
The problem with fats is that they are “hard” to digest. Fats hate water, which is unfortunate because our whole bodies are largely made of water. Fats are also compact and have little surface area, which means they must be mixed up. An enzyme called lipase interacts with the fats and water. Because our internal body temperatures are hot enough to “melt” the fats, solid fat particles become liquid. Once melted, the fats are mixed up. Our stomach squeezes together to push the mixture into our small intestine.
Our liver and gallbladder, two special organs, produce bile salts that cause the mixture to become smaller bundles. A bile salt is a molecule of cholesterol with extra polar groups, causing these bundles to love and hate water. Some parts of the bundle love water, so they are displayed on the outside, where they are exposed to water. Other parts of the bundle are scared of water, so they hide inside, and interact with the fat that we are trying to digest.
Lipase, the aforementioned enzyme, cuts each fat particle into a “head” part and three long “tails”. In scientific terms, each triacylglycerol molecule becomes a monoacylglycerol and three fatty acids. This is done because it is easier on our small intestines.  An analogy of this would be moving a dresser into different room. The dresser itself is too big to fit through the door, so you have to remove the drawers and parts of the dresser itself. Then, you can pass through the door and put the dresser together again. The long tails are absorbed into the intestinal cells instantly. However, the small intestine cells need to make these “heads” whole again (even though they were just broken). Special structures made of protein surround these reformed fats. The inside of this structure is not exposed to water, because the inner membrane, as well as the fats that they are carrying, hate water. This is similar to putting the drawers back into the dresser.
Finally, we will absorb the fat with one last step. These round structures enter our lymph system for filtration and finally into our blood in a duct named the thoracic duct. Proteins and carbohydrates never enter our lymph systems, and flow straight into our bloodstreams. Fats use a different duct (not the one our regular circulation goes through) to bypass the liver, which would spend too much time breaking down the fats. The goal of this is filtration.
In the world of babies…
Babies have specialized GI tracts that help them digest milk. Their stomachs are less acidic, and there are fewer protein-cutting proteins. Mothers can transfer antibodies and proteins directly into their unborn babies through unformed gap junctions. This is often called a “leaky gut”. In the neonatal gut, there is increased activity in three different enzymes:
  1. Rennin: rennin turns curds out of milk protein (casein, which some people are allergic to).
  2. Lactase: lactase breaks down lactose (from milk) into simple sugars: glucose and galactose.
  3. Salivary lipase: salivary lipase helps break down fats. Breast milk is very high in fats, rather than protein.


From Thanksgiving to Healthy Blueberry “Buttermilk” Pancakes

Happy belated Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends!

I hope you all had an incredible day full of great food, laughter, and special moments with family and friends. I’m writing this as I enjoy my breakfast – whole wheat pita bread with a ton of melted butter, scrambled eggs with cheddar and spinach, and yogurt with peanut butter, raspberries, granola, and some chocolate banana bread. I always tend to go a little overboard with breakfast on days that I don’t have school. Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, students at the University of Waterloo also get Tuesday and Wednesday off to make a full “reading week”. I’m planning to spend the next couple of days just relaxing!


Mom made a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner that involved bone broth, pumpkin pie from Superstore, two pizzas and Church’s chicken, and a big, beautiful salad. Those crackers look kind of interesting, too.

At my friend Mary’s house, the table was set beautifully. I loved the cornucopia centrepiece and fall-accented tablecloth.

This was my first plate! I definitely had seconds. Moving clockwise from 12:00 – mashed acorn “pepper” squash, roasted turkey breast, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, apple and butternut squash hash, roasted sweet potatoes, raw carrot and green beans, the best celery-bacon-bread stuffing I’ve ever tasted, and strawberry jello with pineapple. The stuffing and squash mashes were incredible. What did you enjoy for Thanksgiving dinner?


We’re kind of moving back in time here, but a couple days ago I enjoyed chocolate oatmeal with peanut butter and a serving of yogurt with fruit for breakfast.

I had my first Skype interview! It was done in a big room with six cubicles. All the interviewees got to wear headsets with microphones to speak to the hiring managers. My interview was around 30 minutes long, and I loved getting to meet my potential boss and some of her colleagues. It was a cool experience, but I didn’t like how the camera was much higher than the screen. It made “eye contact” a little awkward! Have you ever done a Skype interview?

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to snap photos of my oatmeal on my bed? Pumpkin oats are finally IN now!

Another day I had whole wheat bread with smashed avocado, a delicious filet of spicy salmon, and some roasted brown sugar squash. An amazing lunch!

LASAGNA! ❤ This vegetarian lasagna was made with heaps of zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers, along with a whole box of spinach and fresh ricotta cheese and a ball of mozzarella. I had this two days in a row and froze the rest. YUM.

And pumpkin baked oatmeal was made and enjoyed for a couple days! This recipe serves 2, and you can use either rolled oats or quick oats. I found a vegan recipe since I was out of eggs and was pleased by how tasty this was.

Simple Vegan Pumpin Baked Oatmeal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking dish.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients and mix well. Fold in raisins or nuts, if desired.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

My sister’s best friend, Brianna, delivered a tray full of banana bread and pumpkin sugar cookies to Seline. They loved these, and it inspired me to bake something with the rest of my ripe bananas!


I made my go-to recipe for chocolate banana squares. I still have a hard time believing this amazing vegan recipe is low-sugar, oil/butter-free, and made with whole wheat flour. Granola was also made, this time using quick oats, maple syrup and coconut oil, and walnuts. I love, love, love this granola recipe.

Some of it was jarred and given to the Zach family (Mary’s family). I told you, we’re going in a weird order today… reverse chronological?!

Needless to say, I had a ton of dishes to wash afterwards, so I enjoyed washing them while watching Mockingjay Part II on my laptop. Have you guys seen that movie? Thoughts? PS: watching something while doing dishes makes it much less of a chore 🙂


Another day, I thought I would take a nap at 6:00 PM, wake up in an hour, and then cook a delicious salmon filet. I must have been incredibly tired because I didn’t wake up until 9:00 PM, and it was so dark outside! Oops. Instead, I rolled groggily out of bed and felt instantly refreshed once I smelled this simple red curry with eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, and red pepper cooking… in the microwave. I also thanked past Cindy for making this!

A couple days ago, I tried a new recipe for pancakes. I made the following changes:
– halved the recipe
– replaced banana with a whole egg (instead of half an egg)
– greased pan with butter
– added a pinch of salt
– used frozen blueberries
– used oat flour instead of whole oats, since I don’t have a blender
– used just a sprinkle of cinnamon
– enjoyed with maple syrup

Next time, I will add more blueberries since it was easy to flip. I will also add more cinnamon next time.

It tasted like a buttermilk pancake in flavour, but the texture was a bit creamier, gummier, and was fragrant like oats. I loved it and will be making this recipe again. I highly recommend it if you’re a pancake lover like me! Next time, I might also experiment with other fruit like raspberries or even chocolate chips.


Next time, I will add more blueberries since it was easy to flip. I will also add more cinnamon next time. It tasted like a buttermilk pancake in flavour, but the texture was a bit creamier, gummier, and was fragrant like oats. I loved it and will be making this recipe again. I highly recommend it if you’re a pancake lover like me! Next time, I might also experiment with other fruit like raspberries or even chocolate chips.

Still, absolutely 100% deliciousness.

A different recipe this time, but still using oat flour. I think I may have cooked these too long or over-mixed the batter, because it was quite firm and hard to chew. The flavour was excellent though, so I think the recipe just needs a bit of tweaking.

Last Friday, I went to downtown Toronto for my interview at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The best part of the day was going to Rahier in the morning for an earl grey tea latte and an almond croissant.

I was walking down the street to the hospital when I noticed another bakery – Patisserie LaCigogne, so I HAD to indulge in another croissant. Yup, I had two decadent chocolate almond croissants in less than an hour. It was a sweet day, literally and figuratively.

Mom Meals! Does anything catch your eye here? For me, it’s the MUFFINS and that kabocha soup! It’s crazy how much you can do with kabocha. Here in Waterloo, it’s called “buttercup squash”. I’ve made curries and pancakes out of kabocha, but there are a million other uses that you can read about here. Yes, kabocha pudding is a thing – and leave it to Miss SuperFitBabe to invent that!

I don’t know why I love these photos so much. It’s crazy what good-ish lighting can do for a food shot! I made a red eggplant curry with spinach and served it on quinoa, with lots of peanuts. Yummy.

Dessert was arguably yummier, with raspberries, peanut butter yogurt, granola, and a square of chocolate banana bread.


More squash and more salmon – I ended up standing over the sink, stuffing squash into my mouth before I had to head out the door! These were ADDICTIVE.

Skies are cool.


On a different note, I wrote an article a while back about my time in Nepal, and how doing yoga there was different from yoga here in North America. This was for a Yoga Teacher Training assignment, and I was lucky to have my article actually published by both Yoga Today, Yoga Anonymous, and Gaiam! For some reason, I’m super proud of that 🙂

This infographic was neat!

And something punny that I found on Facebook 🙂


That’s it for today! Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. Can’t believe the weekend is already here!

PS: check out the world’s most random tags that I used for this post 😛

You Know You’re Lazy When…

You Know You’re Lazy When you are too lazy to take your camera off the shelf so you take pictures with your iPhone for a week. Seriously.

#foodbloggerfailure #embarrassment #worstbloggeraward #dontknowhowtousehashtags

Hey, at least I can make decent pancakes? These were made with almond flour, eggs, and applesauce. You can check out the awesome grain-free single-serving recipe here.


Uptown Waterloo on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

And a new bag that I got for FREE with a $150 purchase at Bench! I needed a light-yet-warm spring jacket, so getting this sweet versatile travel bag was a double win. What should I use it for?

Also I have no idea why I wanted to show you this picture. Just a regular ‘ole lecture. Just a couple more to go until finals!


Recently, Mom made some pretty awesome meals. I always feel like her meals are restaurant-quality and do miss living at home so I didn’t have to worry about washing dishes cooking delicious and nutritious food for myself. Her roasted sweet potatoes looked so tasty and inspired me to make my own, which you’ll see in just a bit.

And can we all take a moment to admire that tablecloth? Thank you, Value Village 😉

Mom’s sweet potatoes looked so tasty that I made my own one day! This plate was a layered plate of goodness. The base was made of quinoa cooked in chicken broth, and that was topped with roasted cayenne + cinnamon sweet potatoes, curried cauliflower with peas and spinach, then pan-fried shrimp. Tasty!

Baked banana oatmeal made an appearance! I tried a new recipe this time, using leftover coconut milk and topping 1/2 the batch with frozen and microwaved blueberries, maple syrup, and a thick and delicious mixture of SunButter and Icelandic-style yogurt. Cashews on top for extra texture!

If you’re a baked oatmeal lover like me, this recipe will be right up your alley. Try it out!

Banana Coconut Baked Oats

Serves 2

  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (can scale back to 1 tsp)
  • 1/8 heaping tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 heaping tsp salt
  • 1 heaping tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 133 mL coconut milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the inside of a 2-3 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and shredded coconut until evenly combined. Add the coconut milk and whisk until smooth again. Add the rolled oats and stir with a spoon until combined.
  3. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to eat. Pairs well with cold milk poured over top.

Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes walking in -10C weather to go to Goodlife Fitness for a morning hot yoga session. Unfortunately, since it was Good Friday and I assume everyone wanted a nice morning relaxation session, all the passes were gone by the time I arrived. The studio had reached its capacity of 50 people – 15 minutes before the session started! Needless to say, I was disappointed but walked back home and did some… kitchen yoga.

My ears were still defrosting in this picture because 40 minutes of walking in the wind is pretty painful. 😦

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Seline (my lazy + crazy 16 year-old McNugget-addict sister, if you’re a new reader) and I have been FaceTiming like CRAZY! We probably talk to each other for 5+ hours a day now that she is on her spring break. It seems like we just have so much to talk about recently! Most of the time that we are talking involves her teasing me, me scoffing at her, all while I do the dishes and she lies in bed. And we’ve been reliving memories of Paris so much recently. More on that in a bit…


Once, I made enchiladas! I used white corn tortillas and a green tomatillo sauce. These were filled with black beans, butternut squash, corn, mushrooms, and yellow pepper. With loads of cheddar cheese! This was so, so yummy and I will be repeating! I also ate way more than what you see on the plate, despite how filling each enchilada was. 🙂 The entire casserole dish was devoured in 3 meals.

Last night, I did a biology quiz. I made so many mind maps, labelled diagrams, and detailed explanations of cellular processes before the online quiz and was really disappointed to answer 4 questions incorrectly. We had 15 minutes for 20 questions, and I ended up with less than 75%. 😦 Oh well, there are a couple more quizzes to come!

Day 2 of that amazing baked banana oatmeal, this time topped with some simple almond butter and served with maple cream tea.

Another day, I came home to make roasted mini potatoes, spicy salmon, and garlic green beans. This was so delicious and pretty classic!

Chocolate oatmeal has my heart forever and ever. The topping was a chocolate-almond coconut muffin that I made, which turned out well but a little too crumbly (hence the oatmeal-topping).


One day after yoga, I was feeling so yoga-ish that I laid my mat out in the living room for more yoga! I am so proud of the forward fold picture. Just 6-ish months ago, my fingertips wouldn’t even touch the ground. Changes in your body aren’t visible on a day-to-day basis (I wish!), but the long-term changes are so evident. I am working on my eight-angle pose (bottom right) which is quite tricky and involves lots of arm strength that I don’t have. 😛 Regardless, yoga is about the journey, not the destination.

Okay. Guys. This is going to sound like the stupidest stupid thing ever, but Seline and I are obsessed with a new thing. And I have to tell you all about it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


It’s called Miraculous, and it’s a French-Japanese-American animated TV show that unites action with romance, friendship, suspense, magic, COMEDY, and unique superheroes. The story takes place in beautiful, modern Paris.

The clumsy yet kindhearted 15 year-old Marinette has a crush on a cute boy in her class, Adrien, who is a shy and reserved supermodel for his father’s fashion line (hey, it’s Paris!). When the evil villain Hawkmoth, “Le Papillon” in French, controls the minds of innocent Parisians to do wicked things, Marinette becomes her alter-ego, the agile and confident super heroine Ladybug, who has the power of luck. Her superhero partner is the cunning and charismatic (and overwhelmingly flirty) Chat Noir, who happens to be her crush Adrien. The crazy part? Chat Noir (AKA Adrien) has a crush on Ladybug (Marinette) – but they don’t know each other’s true identities! And it’s so much more intense than that. Adrien’s mom disappeared years ago. His father won’t let Adrien see his friends. And there are three other magical stones that have yet to be claimed… It’s just beautifully created, so cute, freaking hilarious, and super sweet.

Plus the puns. Puns 24/7. Every 1 in 5 sentences has a pun in it. And THAT LOVE SQUARE. It’s all about that love square. And at one point, one other girl got involved – love pentagon. Whoa.


And did I mention that the entire show is in French (I’m trying to watch it without English subs to improve my French!) and the animation is some of the most amazing animation I’ve ever seen in my life?

  • Me ever since a friend told me about this show: (♥‿♥)
  • Me right now: (♥‿♥)
  • Me at 2:00 AM tonight while FaceTiming Seline AKA HawkDaddy: (♥‿♥)

Okay, I’m done. Back to the food.

Potatoes (and salmon) were repeated here in a big stir-fry. Wow, I really can’t get worse than using iPhone photos and not editing or rotating them.


Madhulika, the world’s best roommate who makes a killer pumpkin pie, and I are so obsessed with lattes. I found a milk frother (no, autocorrect, NOT brother) from Teavana that was 40% off, and was so curious that I had to buy it! Honestly, our lives have been revolutionized by that little thing. I now have a delicious London Fog latte every morning made with a tea bag, 1 cup boiling water + 1/2 cup milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla extract. Life-changing stuff.

Coconut almond noodles with spinach, carrot, peppers, and shrimp. Delicious! See HERE for the recipe and don’t miss out the lime or coconut milk! I also like adding some fish sauce and sesame oil for even more punch.

There was a Celebration of Success banquet at my school for people in the faculty of Applied Health Sciences. I received my certificate for the Schulich Leaders Scholarship and something called the University of Waterloo President’s Award of Distinction.

My friends, Catherine (left), and Loretta (middle) also received certificates. Then we had free food before I had to dash off to a Physics tutorial. After a big slice of cheesecake, 100 pieces of cheese, a bunch of crackers, and… yeah.


Oh guys, you are gonna love this! Because it’s chocolate and anything chocolate is… chocolate. I don’t even know what my point was, there, with that last sentence. Just make it.

Single-Serving Chocolate Vegan Lava Cake

Serves 1


  • 1.5 tbsp spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tbsp yogurt (can sub applesauce or mashed banana, but flavour + microwave time will change)
  • 1.4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp almond milk


  1. Grease a mug or ramekin with coconut oil.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk well.
  3. Pour milk in, and add yogurt. Whisk until just combined.
  4. Combine chocolate chips and 1/2 tbsp almond milk in a small bowl and microwave 45 seconds until melted. Stir.
  5. Pour half the batter into mug. Make an indent and pour melted chocolate inside. Top with remaining batter.
  6. Microwave for 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes. Mine took 1 minute and 45 seconds. You could also bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Devour.

My school has standing desks in the library! This was a new discovery for me and I love it because I’m on my butt for most of the day (unfortunately). Standing up while doing notes and typing things up = a nice change!


I haven’t had pancakes made with “real” flour for a while, mostly because I have almond flour and have blossomed a huge obsession with coconut flour. These were classic floury banana pancakes made with spelt flour and topped with caramelized (AKA mushy) bananas, chocolate chips, and big smears of nut butter.

You also know you’re lazy when you don’t even want to hit two buttons to rotate the picture because you’ve already inserted them into the post.

WHOA. Seline sent me these pictures of her room and I was stunned! Her room used to be OUR room, which had been painted sky blue and had drawings plastered all over the wall. Our room used to be functional (hooks, hangers, mirrors, and shelves everywhere) but is now fabulous and fashionable. I love the Parisian touch that Seline added to it – with images we bought from touristy stands in Montmartre last summer. WHOA, flashback to the mating flies we saw there. :O Also, those Christmas lights add such a nice touch. I’m so jealous!

Last weekend I had lunch at a nice cafe called Cafe 22, which is in Uptown Waterloo. I’ve been there before (early in the school year), when I enjoyed a wrap. This time, I had their popular focaccia sandwich which was stuffed with pesto, arugula, brie cheese, roasted garlic mayonnaise, and pan-fried chicken breast. This tasted so fresh and filled me up all afternoon. A London Fog latte was also enjoyed. 🙂

My mom wants you guys to know that she made rice, broccoli, and the rest was from Costco. GO MOM! Go Costco!

C’est ça pour cette post! Hope your long weekend was long and restful. 🙂

Tell me – what’s the laziest thing YOU’VE ever done?

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.


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!


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.

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.


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.


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


50 Things I Learned from my Roommate

What comes with a full heart and a full stomach?

An empty wallet.

Haha. That’s my idea of a joke – and yes, my jokes are always lame and fail to make any sense. But in my defense, it’s partially true! The first week of my winter break, back home in BC, has been nothing less than indulgent, relaxing, and full of laughter and fun moments with family and friends. But a constantly-exploding belly and lots of extra sleep are making me into one happy girl! I’ve done quite a few things on my winter to-do list already, which is satisfying. Well, I’ve done the exciting things. Not the boring ones.

How is your winter holiday so far? Have you done anything memorable with friends and family?

Before I move on to the epic compilation of things my roommate and her boyfriend taught me in the past four months, I wanted to tell you a teeny, kind-of-pointless story about what I did today.

My morning started with a spinach-banana-peanut butter-cocoa-date smoothie, a chickpea blondie, and a relaxing hot yoga class. Then, I met up with my good friends Jia (who my mom calls “Chia”) and Hollie. We’ve known each other for years and were thrilled to reunite and spend the afternoon together. Jia studies English in UBC’s arts program, and Hollie is in Science with a scholarship to SFU. We met up before noon and zipped downtown for some lunch, after a 15-minute walk down Vancouver’s sketchiest street.

The menu at Railtown Café is quite elaborate, at least in my opinion. 🙂 I had a massive internal debate about whether I should order the sandwich or the salad, but ended up with a build-your-own salad which you’ll see in a couple scrolls. Check out their menu and all those delectable salad combinations and sandwich ideas!

By the way, I took photos on my normal camera but was too lazy to upload them for the post, hence the not-so-nice photos below. I snapped these with my phone in a rush to dig in, but anyways, behold the iPhone photos.

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Lesson of the day: it’s a bad idea to order a big drink, a squash-based soup, and a salad topped with about 79 different things.

I had the roasted winter vegetable soup with pumpkin seeds on top, as well as a dark hot chocolate that tasted just like regular hot chocolate. It was a little powdery and grainy in the end, so I wouldn’t recommend the drink. My salad was so deluxe and I’ll write down some of the toppings below:

  • Arugula base
  • Sliced grilled chicken breast – was debating about getting the poached salmon, but their chicken looked really juicy and yummy 🙂
  • Sliced avocado
  • Beets
  • Roasted yams
  • Pesto chickpeas
  • Pesto mozzarella slices
  • Feta cheese
  • Squash chips (the BEST part!)
  • Toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette

Check out their menu for a ton of salad topping ideas: http://railtowncafe.ca/see-our-menu/

YUM. A lovely combination of freshness, saltiness, texture, acidity, richness, sweetness, and bitterness. I told my friends that I wanted to eat this salad every day for the rest of my life.


For dessert, I ordered a peanut butter crunch bar and a chocolate-hazelnut muffin. Both were fantastic and we split them mostly 3 ways.


The muffin was soft, very cinnamon-y, and had great flavor from the hazelnuts. The exterior was perfectly crisp and I would definitely order this tender, delicious muffin again. The peanut butter crunch bar had four distinct layers and was a truly amazing dessert. This peanut butter masterpiece was composed of:

  1. Chewy peanut butter cookie with real peanut chunks embedded throughout (bottom)
  2. Crispy chocolate layer, like a thinner, crispier Rice Crispy with no rice flavor
  3. Peanut butter custard that was not too sweet nor salty
  4. Chocolate ganache, most likely milk chocolate (top)

Peanut butter haters, this thing will convert you.

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We talked lots about our “new” lives in university, and Jia’s busy second year. I was also so happy to hear that my friends are secret readers of the blog 😉 We had some fun and memorable conversations, including this one:

Me: So I have a house-mate. We share a bathroom and kitchen but have our own rooms. She graduated and is now working in the area, so she’s a little older, a LOT more mature, and super nice.

Hollie: Oh yeah! I saw that on your blog.

Jia: She made a pumpkin pie! (she was referring to THIS pumpkin pie, that they made from scratch around Thanksgiving).

Hollie: You’re so lucky. That’s awesome.

And she is absolutely right. 🙂 Madhulika and her boyfriend Arsalan are wonderful and wise people with lots of tricks and tips and life hacks. Here we go!

One more thing before the ultimate list – check this out. My friend shared it on Facebook and I have to agree with quite a few of these points. What do you think?


Anyways, here is the list:

  1. Drink water slowly. Take little sips as you work to increase absorption.
  2. Make a Linkedin account to network with people as soon as possible.
  3. Broil open-faced sandwiches for melty, bubbly cheese
  4. Spread peanut butter with a spoon and eat it on a napkin to save dishes.
  5. Eat baked salmon with a little pad of butter on top
  6. Paprika and cajun spices work with anything!
  7. Make a big lasagna and freeze individual-sized portions to reheat whenever you need a quick meal
  8. While you’re at it, don’t add too much tomato sauce, or it might overpower the pasta, cheese, and vegetables
  9. Adding some chicken broth to ground chicken makes it nice and saucy
  10. Ground chicken works as a perfect sub for ground beef, for a fraction of the fat and just as much flavour
  11. Goat cheese works with anything. Sandwiches, salads, lasagna – whatever it is, goat cheese can be crumbled on top for maximum deliciousness.
  12. Speaking of goat cheese, you can never have enough. Ever.
  13. Always check the weather before you go out – it can be a beautiful sunny day that’s freezing cold!
  14. Princess Cafe can, and absolutely should, be a weekly thing. Get the curried tuna. And the soup. And the bean salad.
  15. Turn off the lights to conserve energy if you aren’t using them
  16. If you realize you’re full in the middle of your meal, stop, wrap up the leftover food, and save it for another meal rather than stuffing yourself and feeling uncomfortable afterwards
  17. Don’t leave things lying around – watches, cameras, pencil boxes – keep them safe in your room: I’m SO bad with this and always leave little things on the counter
  18. Cutting and chopping veggies ahead of time will save time on busy weekdays
  19. Butternut squash soup is the most filling thing ever
  20. A pinch of cayenne adds zest to anything
  21. The bigger and sharper your knife, the more you’ll enjoy chopping veggies
  22. Marinate and bake chicken breast chunks in rose pasta sauce as a low-sugar substitute for barbecue sauce
  23. Morning showers are really refreshing!
  24. The vegetable water left over from cooking vegetables is actually delicious: carrots make it a little sweet!
  25. Potatoes take freaking forever. Plan ahead!
  26. Washing fluffy towels with your best pants is a bad idea. Lint overload!
  27. When adding spices to food, ALWAYS pour a little palmful of the spice into one palm and use fingers from the other hand to pinch and sprinkle. Then taste as you go!
  28. Check your freezer to make sure you aren’t forgetting about any food you stored in there previously 🙂
  29. Boil sweet potatoes before roasting them. You can check to see when they are ready by sticking a fork inside – if the potato chunk slides down by gravity, you’re ready to bake!
  30. Make a big batch of veggies, chicken, and rice for lots of meals. You’ll be thankful on busy afternoons!
  31. Roast all kinds of squash with the cut side down. That way, the flesh is enclosed and it will steam itself and cook faster
  32. Buy good-quality rainboots and use them for five years rather than picking up a cheaper but non-waterproof pair.
  33. Splurge on a good, high-quality blender.
  34. Don’t try to balance a mixing board on a cutting board – if it falls and knocks over a glass (not your own!) that’s gonna shatter on the ground… that’s bad. Trust me, I know this one from experience.
  35. Add something spicy to mac and cheese! Cayenne or jalapeños are cool… well, never mind, they’re actually hot. Put breadcrumbs on top and bake it.
  36. Speaking of mac and cheese, you don’t even need butter to make a roux. Just cook a mixture of flour and milk before adding cheddar!
  37. There are two types of pumpkins: carving pumpkins and pie pumpkins. The two types of pumpkins can both be used for pie. If you have a carving pumpkin, remember that it is more watery and will require extra cooking time (also, they’re massive).
  38. It’s so much more fun to work out with EARPHONES and music!
  39. If you deal with raw meat or fish, spray down the counter surface afterwards just to be safe.
  40. Make sandwiches on a paper towel so you don’t have to wash another plate
  41. Add coconut milk at the very end of cooking something because coconut flavour will disappear with too much heat. Basically, add some coconut milk when making curries, then add the majority of it at the very end.
  42. Cook spices with a little oil for more flavour
  43. Everything is good with butter, pecans, butternut, and garlic
  44. Wash your dishes while cooking, waiting for things to boil, etc. It makes time go by faster and saves dishwashing time and space afterwards!
  45. Winter boots are so important. Buy ones with good traction!
  46. Do not dump a bunch of pepper on your food.
  47. Wear oven mitts all the time. And don’t touch boiling hot casserole dishes that just emerged from the oven… ouch.
  48. Chicken Cordon Bleu can be made easy with a butter and flour roux mixed with ham, with cooked chicken, chopped pickles and Dijon mustard stirred in. With gruyere or harvarti cheese grated in, top this mixture on sliced baguette and sprinkle with more cheese before broiling. Voila – easy, mess-free, no-roll, easy to cook and eat cordon bleu. Fancy but simple!
  49. Dice your own tomatoes for pasta sauce, and mix them with garlic and caramelized onions, plus spices like thyme and oregano. You can also stir in some ricotta. This pasta sauce is so much better than canned.
  50. If you laugh while drinking tea, you’ll probably spill it on your lap and bedsheets, and make it look like you peed your pants!

Love these!

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I love cheesy things. Literal and figurative cheesy things.

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One more thing – I want to make this Asian noodle bowl and some vegan parmesan cheese. I know how random this is, but I stumbled upon them online and really want to give ’em both a try soon 🙂

That is it for today – I have an EARLY 6:00 AM hot yoga session tomorrow morning as well as a fun spin class, so I’m off to bed. Have a great evening!

Aroma Cafe: A Cozy Corner

Good morning beautiful people!

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I have some quotes to share with you today. These ones really spoke to me and I hope they will inspire you, or at the very least, make you think a little bit. 🙂

  • You can’t start the next chapter if you keep re-reading the last one
  • When nothing goes right, turn left
  • Time heals everything. Give the time some time.
  • If Plan A fails, there are 25 letters left.
  • If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If the egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins. Great things happen from the inside.
  • Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil your present.

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Last week, I had a relaxing lunch for one at Aroma Cafe, which is located on Erb Street in Uptown Waterloo. It’s located in the middle of a beautiful atrium surrounded by other shops.

Their menu is quite elaborate and features things like smoked salmon croissants (made in-house), sweet potato sandwiches, and hormone-free meats in their paninis. They make a fresh soup every morning and serve homemade baked goods. There’s a new salad every day, and the desserts are deluxe and switch regularly. The best part? All their breads are made from scratch in-house!

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I settled down in one corner after ordering the “half” turkey panini with harvarti cheese, tomato, avocado (substituted for bacon), and garlic aioli. Can you believe this is the half-portion? It was ridiculously filling and made with lots of love and care. The soup of the day was zucchini-butternut with herbs.

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My sandwich was warm and toasty. The bread was my favourite part: chewy, warm, and tasted so fresh and homemade.


Dessert was a gluten-free hazelnut mocha torte. This was fantastic as well. I asked for it to be cut in half so I could save some for later. It was really yummy, and quite rich and dense being gluten-free. The coconut on top added great texture and the chocolate ganache layer was my favourite.


Time to do some research (on cafes to visit during my 2 weeks in BC!) before helping Mom with dinner and maybe baking some dessert. Hope your Christmas was the merriest and I will update you a couple more times before 2016. 🙂