2B or not 2B

My phone lock screen was my school schedule, but it’s been ten weeks so I don’t think I should be using the schedule anymore. My memory isn’t that bad… I hope. This semester, my 2B semester, is pretty insane.

New wallpaper = Mom’s buttered toast.

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A new ice cream truck opened in Uptown Waterloo (ice cream in uptown FINALLY!), so I had to stop by to try some! I had a scoop of Grammy’s Cupboard (vanilla with cookie dough, peanut butter cups, and brownie chunks – OMFG I know), and one scoop of chocolate caramel swirl with cashews. This tasted amazing, was a bit on the sweeter side, but I don’t think I would buy it again, considering the 2 half-scoops (= 1 full) was $5.00.

 

Here’s what it looks like! The person who served me was very gracious and kind.

 

Before the hearty ice cream, I had a glorious meal at Princess Cafe. The sandwich was my all-time favourite: grilled cheese with harvarti, goat cheese, walnuts, rosemary butter, and honey. The soup of the day was vegan tomato ale, which I was extremely skeptical about, but it tasted incredible. I am officially a fan of tomato soup! I enjoyed every drop of the soup and savoured every bite of the rich, crispy, cheesy, crusty sandwich.

 

For breakfast (don’t ask me why I am moving in reverse chronological order) – I enjoyed a bowl of plain oatmeal topped with a banana and tons of peanut butter. Yes, there is more underneath the massive scoop. Hemp hearts and cinnamon also made an appearance.

 

Then, the oats became granola, the bowl became a jar, and my nice messy desk at home became the bus stop bench on a sunny day. That sounded kind of poetic… or maybe I just have very low standards for poetry. This was so yummy – PB on anything!

 

Jars, because they save my lazy butt from washing dishes 😉

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So colourful! The natural lighting at the window makes for some lovely photos of my lunch and snacks. I wish I could say that I made those falafel, but I didn’t – everything else is homemade!

 

This frittata was also homemade, and I can’t wait to make another one. Eggs, spinach, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and garlic goat cheese came together to make a tasty breakfast that I enjoyed with a nectarine and some yogurt with granola.

 

I’m cleaning out my room and found these pictures that I drew two years ago! Drawing is so much fun. I used to love drawing so much, but now have no time to draw waste all my time doing other things.

 

Have an incredible week, friends!

Before I Came Home

Before I came home, Mom sent me lots of pictures of little Arnie. He’s not really little anymore – this guy is now almost 7 years old! I can’t believe he’s been living with us since I was in Grade 7.

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Before I came home, I went to a yoga workshop in downtown Kitchener. I was lucky enough to have a friend drive me, so I gobbled down this dinner of rice, spicy falafels, avocado, and spinach beforehand.

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Before I came home, I had two more days of yoga teacher training before we broke off for the summer. On our last day, one of my fellow yoga teachers in-training brought a salted caramel cake. And veggies for those wanting to be healthy. 😉

The same day, I had this Egyptian menouli stuffed with feta cheese and spinach.

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Mom made a big heart coffee cake with nuts 🙂

And I did some yoga at the park. It was beautiful during my last couple of days.

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Played a LOT of 8192, AKA the new 2048. I love it.

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And I had a lovely meal with a good yoga friend before coming home! This meal was from Red House. I loved every bite of this eggplant and tempeh moussaka. Dessert involved salted butter almond gelato and peanut butter cookie gelato. Mmmm. Definitely a good end to my first year!

Leaving for Nepal tonight at 2 AM and I have a ridiculous story to tell… see you soon!

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! 😀

New Favourite Recipes: You MUST Try!

Alright! I’ve got a super long post today, but I promise it’s worth reading because I’m going to share some of my new recipe obsessions 🙂 Keep scrollin’ on!

You have probably already seen the recipe for my healthy tuna pasta bake. I swear this recipe is irresistible and such a go-to! I added lots more veggies this time, including celery, mushrooms, and carrots.

This dinner took longer than expected: chicken broth quinoa with TONS of sautéed vegetables and baked spicy salmon. I made the salmon with garlic, cayenne and paprika, with some butter on top of maximum deliciousness.

Scrambled eggs are a go-to. This meal was dairy-free because I ditched the cheese for nutritional yeast. Some nutritional yeast whisked into eggs adds a nice parmesan-like flavor, and, well, lots of nutrition. 🙂 Roasted red pepper hummus on my toast. Delicious! This was a lunch because I’m always cooking oats for breakfast.

Tuna salad made with a mashed avocado and cheddar cheese, grilled until toasty. I enjoyed this lunch while waiting for my granola to bake, and while talking to Mom on FaceTime.

Cottage cheese pancakes that failed miserably in terms of appearance. Thankfully they did not taste bad! Cottage cheese makes pancakes heavy and hard to flip, in my opinion.

Falafel, spinach, hummus, and couscous with kabocha squash that was roasted… and burned.

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Better pancakes made with coconut flour and egg. these were a little too eggy for my taste, which from my experience is quite normal for coconut flour recipes. They were good nonetheless, topped with nut butter, coconut, maple, and chocolate yogurt blobs.

This was the kabocha that I made after a day at Niagara Falls. I baked it for 40 minutes instead of 20 (smart Cindy) and they were definitely overbaked. Still delicious, though, with couscous, spinach, and shrimp.

Then I needed cheese the next day! 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (you’ll see why in just a second!) scrambled with spinach, and two pieces of toast with avocado. One with harvarti and the other topped with brie, these toasts were a simple dinner.

The egg white went into this amazing coconut flour cocoa mug cake. This was one of the BEST things I’ve ever made in a microwave. Here’s how I made it:

Coconut Flour Mug Cake
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  1. Grease coffee mug with coconut oil.
  2. Mix all wet ingredients and whisk well.
  3. Add baking soda and baking powder. Whisk well again.
  4. Add cocoa powder and coconut flour. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour batter (it is liquidy!) into the mug and microwave for 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy with Greek yogurt and peanut butter for HEAVEN!

Try making pear oatmeal with coconut milk. No recipe needed – just make basic oats, throw in a chopped pear, and add a big splash of creamy coconut milk. This bowl is so filling, so delicious, and tastes like a decadent dessert. Topped with granola and muffin for me 🙂

Here’s that salmon I was talking about earlier. Just top with cayenne, paprika, garlic, and some butter. Don’t skimp on the butter here, guys. Salmon is naturally buttery, but a little extra doesn’t hurt anyone 😉 Plus it adds a richness that offsets the fishiness of the fish. Salt and pepper, too!

  • Garlic, minced or crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Butter
  • Easy as that! Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet. This took 13 minutes.

I don’t think I need to give you a recipe for toast! Plain whole wheat bread topped with my new kale pesto and some brie. Bake until crisp, then broil to melt the cheese. Heavenly.

Here it is, along with some sautéed vegetables. The best comforting dinner.

Why not grill some avocado and throw it in a sandwich with harvarti, roasted red pepper, and avocado with hummus? This sandwich was phenomenal.

I made a lasagna one afternoon using cottage cheese and a bunch of chopped vegetables, with butternut squash sauce and cubed butternut squash. Sounds pretty gourmet (actually, not really) but it was really just the leftover veggies I had in the fridge, along with leftover cheese and some frozen butternut squash. It turned out dang delicious, though. I ate this square but could’ve easily downed another.

Thai green coconut curried tofu with vegetables, brown rice, and crushed cashews made an easy lunch.

More of that pasta bake!

This plate of food isn’t the most photogenic, but I can’t get over how good the veggie + tuna + cheddar combination is.

And, more curry. This time with frozen edamame because all my tofu was gone. 😛 Don’t you guys feel like edamame is “the forgotten protein”? Everyone refers to nuts, beans and lentils, tofu, and eggs for vegetarian proteins – but edamame is delicious and rich in protein as well. Eat up!

Leftover cottage cheese from my lasagna went into stuffed French toast, with a sliced pear, almond butter, and cinnamon. I would highly recommend making French toast with cottage cheese! It’s delectable.

A ton of veggies: 1/2 a head of cauliflower roasted and chopped, sautéed with spinach and served with a poached egg and avocado toast.

Avocado on a multigrain pita with an omelet.

Brie cheese on a burned pita with pesto, sweet potato, and cauliflower. What do you do when you burn an entire plate of food because you forget that you hit the “broil” button? Well, if you’re me, you plate it all, photograph it, and eat it all because charred food is actually kinda good.

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This looks like a ton of pancakes (well, it is. 8 of ’em!), but it is just one recipe. Super simple: two eggs, almond flour, and 1/4 cup of applesauce make up the base. Toppings are yours to choose from, but I made a simple sunflower butter chocolate sauce out of maple syrup, sunflower butter, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and salt. Microwave and spread to your heart’s content!

I always have my breakfast with some Earl Grey tea, or if I’m feeling a little fancy, I make myself some London Fog latte. This is the recipe I use every time 🙂 I don’t have a milk frother so it isn’t super cafe-like, but tastes absolutely amazing and always warms me up.


 Cindy’s Favourite Homemade London Fog Latte

Serves one lucky person

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 Earl Grey tea bag
  • 1/2 cup milk or almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1-3 tsp sugar (I use one heaping tsp of coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place tea bag in water for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bag.
  3. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  4. Microwave milk or almond milk for 50 seconds to a minute until warm-hot and nearly simmering. You can whisk it here if you would like it to be foamy, but I personally don’t like foam.
  5. Stir the milk into the latte.
  6. Add the optional vanilla extract.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Broccoli, parmesan, and a little soup before class.

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Are you getting sick of my Thai curry yet? This batch had sweet potato in it. My favourite curry addition!

This was a multigrain pita with banana and chocolate sunflower butter, pan-fried until crispy and absolutely glorious.

I really liked this dinner of couscous with broccoli, shrimp, goat cheese, and butternut squash. It is my go-to dinner because it takes 10 minutes to whip up when everything is chopped up in the fridge.

Tomato scrambled eggs that because a big plate of mush.

Pear oatmeal is a whole new world of delicious. I love these photos!

And… pasta!

I love the combination of pasta with squash, garlic, and cheese. Once, I made a super yummy butternut squash and ricotta bake, but for some reason, I can’t seem to find the photos! They must be hidden somewhere in my computer. 😦 Does that ever happen to you? Oh well, maybe this is a fitting place to share the recipe!


Butternut Squash Ricotta Pasta Bake

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 bowl chopped butternut squash (flexible – to your taste)
  • canola oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Dried basil
  • 200g diced tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • 250g dried penne (I used whole wheat)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 250 mL chicken broth
  • 100g mozzarella ball
  • Fresh sage, leaves picked
  • Butter for cooking sage

Instructions

  1. My squash was frozen so I popped it in the microwave for a minute with some water. Otherwise, roast it, or use leftover squash.
  2. Pour a couple of lugs of olive oil into a large frying pan, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add your tomatoes to the pan, breaking them up with a wooden spoon and bring to the boil. Drop in the squash, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook for a couple of minutes less than it says on the packet. Drain, then toss with the sauce.
  4. Sprinkle sauce with dried basil and sprinkle into the pan with some salt and pepper. Stir in the ricotta and the stock, then bring back to the boil.
  5. Rub a large baking tray, ovenproof pan with olive oil and spoon in all the pasta and sauce. Tear over the ball of mozzarella.
  6. Pop it into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. I broiled it for about 10 minutes on low. Lightly fry sage in butter and sprinkle on top.

Dang, I really wish I had pictures for you! Just believe me that it was super yummy, okay? 😉

Icicles!

 Yesssss to randomnessssssss. Okay, that was weird. I swear I’m not usually that annoying.

I want this taped on my wall! Or printed on my phone case! Or tattooed on my back! Or on a shower curtain! Or – oh my goodness – as a yoga mat! What are some of your favourite ways to take a break?!

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Whew! Was that a long post or what?!

Happy Friday (tomorrow) guys!

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

 

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.

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

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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?

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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!