Lately | March

I’ve been having such a busy week, full of classes and yoga and other fun activities in and around campus. Hence the shortest post I’ve ever written and a flashback repost.

So, finally, some original content whisked together in more than a few minutes. For breakfast this morning, I had two scrambled eggs, bulked up with sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, and eggplant. Topping of Gruyere cheese, one of my favourites.

After the eggs, I had yogurt with raspberries and honey-roasted cashews. I’m getting really into roasted nuts recently (I’ve always been a nut butter fanatic), and the crunch is everything!

Another day: sliced chicken thigh with cauliflower rice and veggies.

YUM! This looks like a mess, but it’s cauliflower rice with steamed squash, sliced chicken, and Asiago cheese. Asiago is another one of my favourites, for its sharp flavour and meltability. Is that a word?

As usual, dessert featuring Greek yogurt, honey-roasted cashews, plenty of blueberries, and a few squares of chocolate.

Last night, my housemate Jessica left some carrot patties for me. Her mom, my landlord, lives upstairs and made these tasty bites. I need a recipe for these, stat! They were perfectly sweet from the carrots, tender, with a blast of flavour from the green onions. I loved them!

On a completely different note, I’ve told myself for weeks months that I’m going to make ratatouille. I just keep procrastinating because it seems like a lot of effort. I will, I will, I will. Next time. 😉

We had a few sunny, but not too hot, days in Brisbane. One of those days, I walked home from campus. It’s normally a 40-minute walk, but I was wandering pretty slowly and it took me around an hour.

More cauliflower rice, more squash, and more halloumi. I think I have some kind of obsession with halloumi. I’ve been eating it daily, and I don’t think I will ever get sick of it.

Sliced cucumber with smoked salmon dip, and a lovely chicken pie.

This was definitely one of my most memorable meals – wholemeal bun, sliced and topped with the creamiest Brie I’ve ever encountered, plus deli turkey and sliced pear. The combination of turkey, Brie, and pear is divine. Perhaps my favourite sandwich trio of all time?

I know, more halloumi. I should stop taking pictures of it every day because it’s always the same! Dessert was a little different: yogurt with blueberries and a crumbled LARABAR.

After two decades, my clumsy fingers finally figured out how to braid my hair in a pseudo-French braid. This was definitely the success of the week 🙂 Also, some scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese, alongside leftover garlic naan bread, before yoga one morning.

Surprise – halloumi on cauliflower rice with squash and a fried egg. What a novelty. 😉 Dessert today involved a crushed peanut butter LARABAR, a way-too-expensive chopped garnet plum, and some milk chocolate.

One Thursday evening, I was tired, outside, hot, and too lazy to cook. I ended up going to Sushi Kiyo, where I ate seven plates of sushi. Each plate of sushi here is $2.50 and has a few pieces, so I had a little of everything. Plus dessert – a great piece of tiramisu that I’m still reminiscing.

  • 4 tuna aburi, 2 salmon aburi, 2 spicy salmon aburi, 2 hotate aburi, 2 king fish aburi, 2 pieces Spider Roll
  • 1 tiramisu cake

This was one of the best evenings ever – my housemate recommended taking a walk down the Brisbane river. There was a gorgeous pedestrian pathway, and it wasn’t too hot as the sun had started to set. The panorama photos are my favourite.

Every Sunday, I take an aerials class with Ben, an experienced straps artist and handbalancer. He inspires me so much, and I love how patient he is when I ask, for the millionth time, how to wrap my wrists. We are working on a back balance here.

Organic chicken thigh with taleggio polenta, prosciutto, creamed leeks, roasted garlic crumb. Does this need further explanation?! It was freaking delicious and definitely worth the 50-minute wait.

Dark chocolate tart with caramel ice cream, dates, creme fraiche. Better than I could’ve imagined. This may be one of the top five desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life. The pureed dates, rich caramel ice cream, and slightly sour creme fraiche paired beautifully with the caramel smear, crispy pearls, and decadent chocolate. I would go back to HARVEY’s in a heartbeat for this dessert.

Yoga! This reminds me that I haven’t posted on my yoga page for a pretty long time. But I’ve been getting back into yoga, mostly yin yoga, which is relaxing and restorative. I’m also heavily contemplating a new yoga mat, but these are just out of budget at the moment. My current mat was a $4 one from KMart, and it’s been serving me well in most classes – until I sweat and start slipping everywhere.

Finally, a mash of random veggies and chicken… and desserts galore. It doesn’t look like much, but it was awesome:

  • 1/4 peanut butter chocolate cheesecake (another one of my Top 5 desserts of all time! This had the richest chocolate peanut butter ganache to ever hit my taste buds.)
  • 1/4 strawberry hazelnut baked donut (vegan and gluten-free, but I would never be able to tell!)
  • 1/4 carrot cake loaf with cream cheese frosting (loved the citrus kick in the cream cheese frosting)

Finally, Indian food. Cassie (love the new blog look, by the way!), how lucky am I to have an incredible, inexpensive, Indian food place directly downstairs of my building?! They serve plenty of gluten-free and vegan options as well, and never cook with preservatives or MSG. I’ve lived in Brisbane for about a month, and have visited A Night in India three times. Each time, I order a large serving of the palak paneer, saffron rice, and garlic and cheese naan. It’s to die for. Seriously. I’d die for this spinach curry.

On a different note, I found this online (Facebook?) and it made me think. Sometimes, I don’t feel physical hunger in my stomach, but feel weak and need a blast of energy. I’d love to see some scientific studies done on hunger cues and hormones.

That’s it for this lovely Thursday, mes amis!

Peace out ✌️

Food, Face Mask, Flying Home

My last few days in Scarborough were snowy. Very snowy and up to -30 degrees at night.

On my last day of work, the team went to a restaurant called The Local, which is run by hospitality and cooking/pastry students at Centennial College. Here, the students learn to make sauce, stocks, bread, and more, while serving the public. It’s a special place with a connected cafe, open to everyone, and nothing is made from a box. In fact, all the ingredients is fresh, seasonal, local, and homemade. For example, the signature burger uses a homemade burger and bun – and homemade ketchup and a homemade pickle!

Below: plate one with creamy dill trout, Mediterranean pizza, Latin cheese puff, goddess salad, Asian green salad, rice with black beans

The menu switches up every three weeks. According to their news report, “choices are influenced by Scarborough and the school’s multicultural environment”, so everything is globally-inspired.

Below: plate two with Jamaican jerk chicken, more creamy dill trout, and spiced rice with black beans

Other cool things: there is free parking for community members who stop by for lunch/dinner, and there is no tipping! Food is served buffet-style, and there are always plenty of veggie options.

Below: dessert of white chocolate mousse with berries, salted caramel apple crumble, and raspberry chocolate mousse cake

Packing went much smoother than I’d expected, since I had fewer things. Before I knew it, both suitcases were packed and I was on my way home.

That night, I had plenty of extra oats and yogurt to use up, and I did.

“Chock full of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics (the healthy bacteria that aid digestion), there’s no doubt yogurt provides delicious benefits for your insides. But it can also do beauty wonders for your outsides as well, namely for your skin. Yogurt contains lactic acid that dissolves dead skin cells. This gentle exfoliation not only helps to create a natural glow and prevent breakouts, but works to diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles. When topically applied to the skin, a velvety yogurt face mask will help moisturize, fight acne, prevent premature aging, relieve sunburn, and reduce discoloration. It’s an all-around beauty multi-tasker.”

  • Honey: Softens and moisturizes skin, rich in antioxidants which prevent free radical damage. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Oatmeal: Great exfoliant. Nourishes skin and removes excess sebum and dirt from deep within skin pores.

This made me feel super fresh.

Yogurt Face Mask

  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp oats
  • OPTIONAL:
    • cinnamon
    • nutmeg
    • olive oil
    • mashed strawberries
    • lemon juice
    • mashed avocado
    • cocoa powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Wash your face, making sure hair is tied away from the face (or use headband).
  3. Optional: do a facial steam to open pores.
  4. Smooth yogurt all over face and neck. Use a thick coat.
  5. Keep on for 15 minutes, then rinse off, gently, with warm water.
  6. Splash cold water on your face to close pores.
  7. Pat dry with a soft towel.
  8. Moisturize.

How gorgeous is this? Flying over the Rocky Mountains is always such an honour, especially in the midmorning. Canada has so much to offer ❤

Exciting news: I purchased all my MCAT books and created a big study plan. I have 225 days until the MCAT that I’m planning to write on the first day of September. Let’s get studying! WOO!

Simple Guide to Nutritional Yeast

What is Nutritional Yeast?

  • a type of inactive yeast
  • flaky, powdery texture
  • has a savoury, cheesy flavour
  • vegan and gluten-free
  • can be found in most health-food stores

Why You Should Try “Nooch”

  • tastes like parmesan cheese, so it’s absolutely delicious
  • loaded with B vitamins
  • contains 6 grams of protein in each quarter cup
  • plenty of zinc and fibre

Creative Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast

  • add it to pasta
  • add to popcorn
  • use in Tex-Mex or Mexican dishes as a sub for cheddar
  • sprinkle some on buttered bread
  • use in lasagna
  • make an Alfredo sauce
  • topping for vegetarian chili
  • use in tofu stir-fries
  • sprinkle on salad
  • use to top salads or breadsticks
  • use in French toast batter to add richness
  • in place of cheddar in vegan broccoli-cheddar soup
  • use to make vegan omelettes or quiche
  • add to mashed cauliflower
  • use it to make cauliflower dishes
  • add to stuffed peppers
  • the easiest mac and cheese ever: 1/2 cup nutritional yeast with 1/4 cup warm water, oil, salt and pepper
  • mix into scrambled eggs for eggy flavour and great yellow hue
  • add to casseroles, whether they have rice or quinoa
  • toss it into the blender with cooked/canned beans, olive oil, and lemon for a great cheesy dip
  • add to burritos
  • sprinkle on shakshuka
  • add to scalloped potatoes
  • blitz to make a mock parmesan
  • mash into baked potato with garlic
  • blend to make creamy cheesy sauce
  • stir into pesto
  • top sautéed vegetables
  • use to top pizza or flatbread
  • use to make vegan hollandaise sauce
  • make a cheese spread with it, then use it for grilled cheese
  • stir it into vegan gravy
  • use to thicken stews, sauces, and soups
  • use in vegan mac and cheese recipes
  • whisked into salad dressing for thickness and unami flavour
  • use in vegan baking, like for savoury biscuits
  • add to scrambled eggs (adds a great sharp flavour, and enhances the yellow hue of your eggs)
  • stir into soups
  • add to curry mix
  • stir into risotto
  • sprinkle on chips, like kale chips
  • stir into sweet treats, like peanut butter cups, to add rich flavour (melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips OR cocoa powder with oil, then layer with a mixture of peanut butter and nutritional yeast, chill to set)
  • sprinkle on top of avocado toast
  • use in tofu cheesecakes, to add cream cheese flavour

My TEA-rrific Obsession

Good Thursday morning! How are you all doing this morning?

My week has been pretty hectic, with four midterms in the next four school days, on top of lab reports, essays, and assignments. The summer semester is a couple weeks shorter than others, so all of the content has been condensed. I started to feel a little behind in my classes a few days ago, having missed several classes for interviews. With co-op interviews, you are not allowed to miss any interview at any cost, or risk getting kicked out of the co-op program. 😥

But, onto something more important and much less stressful – tea!

Sometimes, I think of myself as a “bad” tea drinker, simply because of the fact that I struggle to savour each sip. x-OyjIemMy idea of a good tea is something sweet, milky, and whether or not its organic doesn’t matter to me. Am I the only one?

In April, a good friend from high school send me a Facebook message – she asked if I’d like to try some tea from a subscription package from Amoda Tea (@AmodaTea on Twitter). I don’t know, I thought initially, I’m really not the right person for this. Tea isn’t exactly my forte. Hey, did you know that “forte” is pronounced “fort”, not “fort-ay”? I learned that this morning.

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Back to the tea! Faye, my friend, works with Amoda, which is dedicated to connecting people with superfoods, particularly organic teas and matcha blends. They make beautiful subscription (I just typed prescription… too much time at the clinic!) boxes filled with all kinds of flavours.

My aunt once told me that I should “never drink boring, regular tea.” Her reason? Preservatives. Artificial flavours. Leaching. Added sweeteners. Now, I’m certainly not a health nut – well, not a health nut to the point where everything I ingest must be #lowcarb, #vegan, or #organic. I just like good, preferably-healthy food, you know?

Funny story: I was living in Toronto for my 4-month work term at the Toronto Health Centre at the time Faye messaged me, preparing to move back to Waterloo. When I sent her my address, however, I forgot to add my unit number. I live in a student housing complex with four floors and a dozen units – the tea ended up getting mailed BACK to BC. After about a month of flying, it finally made its way back to Waterloo.

The Monthly Tea Box is priced at $20. Shipping is included in this cost. This is a great price, because you are getting 4 packages x 4 cups of tea each, which will make you 16 glorious mugs of tea; each cup comes down to just $1.25. Compare that to Starbucks, where a venti (large) tea latte will set you back $4.65. If I wanted 16 of those? A shocking $74.40. My #studentbudget doesn’t have room for that, that’s for sure!

Best of all, an Amoda monthly tea box can be purchased as a monthly subscription or a gift subscription, and you can add selected add-ons which I detail below.

The subscription box came with:

  • 4 packages of tea leaves, each package able to make around 4 cups of tea (the teas have different amounts of caffeine, but there is also the option of ordering the ‘Low Caff’, where all teas are designed for light sleepers and are low in caffeine)
  • clear steeping instructionsIMG_8562
  • tasting notes for each tea
  • a cute postcard

Possible add-ons include:

  • $5 tea spoon (I want one!)
  • $5 natural, biodegradable tea filters (25 total)

Let’s get brewing!

Let me tell you all about my favourite of the four teas in the subscription package. I’m a black tea lover, so I found MANASLU from Nepali Tea Traders to be incredibly delicious.

  • made from Nepalese black tea
  • reminded me of the many cups of delicious black tea that I enjoyed while living in Kathmandu, Nepal, over the summer
  • high in caffeine
  • rich scent, with a pure, fresh flavour
  • the name reminds of of a Cirque du Soleil production, but Manaslu is actually one of the top 10 highest mountains in the world (part of the Nepalese Himalayas)

I noticed that I needed a packed heaping 1 tsp of tea leaves to make it flavourful; the package stated “1 heaping tsp”, and I was unsure as to whether or not I should pack it loosely or heavily. I found that 4-5 minutes of brewing time was ideal for my taste, and I liked my tea with a splash of milk and a swirl of honey. I can’t wait to have another mug tomorrow.

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This photo is much better than mine. Aren’t the postcards (and the box) pretty? I haven’t mailed mine out yet.

From their site:

The Amoda Monthly Box is a premium tea subscription box. The Amoda tasting team scours the shelves of independent tea companies across North America to find unique teas, delicious blends and fun flavours. The Monthly Box offer a way to discover the hidden gems of the tea world, support the up-and-coming tea companies and taste the very best they have to offer.

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* Do you have tepidophobia? That’s the fear of a terrible cup of tea. Interestingly, I actually LIKE my tea not-too-hot and not-too-bitter (i.e. I prefer mine with milk and sweetener). Tea purists are probably cringing so much right now.

Hope everyone has a pre-tea spectacular week, and tea lovers – don’t forget to check out Amoda’s website for some serious aesthetics and good deals on tea. Perhaps it’ll put you in that Alice in Wonderland tea party mood, like it did with me! Hypnotic GIFs. I know.

Have a blissful, tea-infused week, everyone!

Stretch That Dollar: 20 Money-Saving Techniques for Students

“One of the biggest mistakes young people make is spending money without any pre-planning. You map out your classes for the year, you map out your spring break road trip, you map out your outfit for that party on Friday night. Figure out how much money you have, what’s necessary, what’s a luxury, and then budget how much you need to stay afloat over the year.”

– Canadian Living

As a frugal foodie who also happens to be freaking lazy, these are tips that I’m looking forward to using in the spring semester.

  1. Buy or rent used textbooks
  2. Use library books
  3. Find PDFs of required textbooks
  4. Sell last semester’s textbooks
  5. Eat out once a week only (yikes)
  6. Use coupons for food, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and more!
  7. Walk or use public transit: this one is a breeze for me because a) I’m a terrible driver, and b) I don’t have a car!
  8. Shop at places where there are student discounts: Waterloo is such a student-oriented city that every single shop will offer student discounts. It’s the best!
  9. Price-compare for groceries: this is something I truly need to work on.
  10. Take shorter showers
  11. Get loyalty points like PC Plus Points: I found myself wondering the other day WHY I don’t have PC Plus Points yet. I grocery-shop at nearly all the PC shops. It’s like I’m giving money away!
  12. Use the school gym
  13. Meal prep!
  14. Sell old clothes, stationery, appliances, etc., that are no longer used
  15. Don’t buy unnecessary school supplies (oh no)
  16. Drink water instead of coffee, juice, etc.
  17. Use Spotify for free music
  18. Avoid buying brand-name items
  19. Set budget goals: Mom! Help!
  20. Do studies/surveys/questionnaires that give you money.

gen-y-savings-account-balance-increases

15 Reasons To Cook with Less Meat

  1. I’ll save you the spiel about animal justice and cruelty on factory farms. I am sure you are aware of the deprivation and torture that most animals experience before they reach your plate. This is not my #1 reason, however.
  2. It is better for the environment, helping to reduce pollution while saving energy.
  3. Reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis… the list goes on. Of course, these diseases are not primarily caused by diet (other factors certainly do play a role), but the reduced disease rate is food for thought. The nutrients in fruits and vegetables are excellent for warding off disease and can lead to longevity. In other words, your “five a day” are helping to fight aging! Interesting side note: the world’s longest-living people live in Okinawa, a group of over 150 Japanese islands. Okinawans have the world’s lowest rates of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and most of them die of natural causes. The average Okinawan woman lives to age 86 (compared to 79 in North America) and the average man to age 78 (72 in North America). A 25-year study was done to examine the Okinawan lifestyle. The results? Okinawans enjoy around seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day, along with seven grain servings, two servings of soy products, and fatty fish several times a week. They also eat few dairy products and a very small amount of meat. Okinawans also season their food with a variety of herbs and spices.
  4. Imagine if all the grains harvested to feed cattle were used to feed the starving people of our planet.
  5. The standard North American diet is high in processed food and low in fruits and vegetables. When you increase the amount of fresh produce consumed, weight loss is a common side effect.
  6. You will be more “regular” – more fibre is good for helping push waste from the body. Meat has minimal fibre!
  7. You will have more room for fresh produce in your diet, nourishing your body with more antioxidants, fiber, and lean protein like chickpeas and lentils. With less meat, you can eat in greater volumes (think of how 500 calories of broccoli is physically more food than 500 calories of beef) – and who doesn’t want to eat more?
  8. Good nutrition means more energy and a clearer mind. When you fuel your body with great ingredients, your body will reward you with liveliness, alertness, and a positive attitude, as well as better thinking. That being said, I am quite familiar with the 2:00 post-lunch slump and have been paying attention to which foods drain my energy.
  9. An estimated 95% of consumed pesticides come from meat, fish, and dairy – and they cannot be eliminated by cooking. I’m also not a fan of the hormones, steroids, and chemicals that are pumped into milk and meat, which is why I try to avoid them when I can.
  10. Colourful meals are so much more Instagram-worthy. Plus, the rich hues in fruits and vegetables indicate the presence naturally-occurring phytochemicals that fight disease and boost immunity.
  11. You’ll save money. Compare the cost of a can of beans to a package of chicken breasts. It all adds up, even if you go meatless a couple meals a week.
  12. I’m a little paranoid about raw meat and eggs. When you omit them, it takes the guesswork out of frying a chicken breast or baking a pork tenderloin. In other words, you can stress less about food-borne illness. Plus, you can lick the bowl of any vegan cookie dough or cake batter without worrying about salmonella from uncooked eggs.
  13. It’s more fulfilling to explore and experiment. There are already thousands of beef burger recipes online – why not play with creating a healthier, but equally tasty, patty out of legumes? Plant-based cooking opened up a whole new world of options for me, as well as countless opportunities to be creative with food.
  14. Without meat, your freezer will have more room for muffins, brownies, ice cream, frozen berries, and other goodies.
  15. It’s easy. These days, it requires zero effort to find delicious and nutritious vegetarian foods, whether you’re browsing the aisles of a grocery store or enjoying dinner at a new restaurant. For instant inspiration, bookstores often have large vegetarian cooking sections and the internet is your friend for culinary advice and incredible recipes. When you’re in a rush, fast casual restaurants and cafes also offer wholesome and creative salads, sandwiches, and entrees.

Of course, my #1 reason: an excuse to eat many more tablespoons of peanut butter. You know… for protein.

What do you think? Do you like meat? Do you like vegetarian meals as well?