Starstruck: 2017 Schulich Leader Scholarship Get-Together

Saturday was SLxON, a special networking event for Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients across Ontario. It took place, like last year, at the MaRS Discovery Centre in downtown Toronto. This year, it was extra-special because the event was Canada-wide.

A post from the 2016 SLxON can be found here!

Here are some photos from the event.

We had a great time, especially during the Instagram challenge.

How does SLxON make you feel? Wish I had thought of the word starstruck. These people amaze me.

SLXCA… with our bodies! The floor was pretty comfortable.

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There were some fantastic speakers and a wonderful presentation by Dr. Julielynn Wong, who was incredibly passionate and inspiring.

Selfie!

❤ ❤ ❤

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More ❤ ❤ ❤ at the post-event, at Prenup Pub where we had snacks and drinks.

Then it was off to Scarborough for a restful night at home!

5 Birthday-Brightening Gestures

Last Tuesday, the 13th, was my birthday! I’m now 19 years old 🙂 It was a pretty bad time to have a birthday, with important final exams happening on the 14th, 16th, and 17th! Thankfully, those exams are all over now.

5 Birthday-Brightening Gestures

  1. My beautiful, talented friend from aerial silks gave me a ride home on Tuesday night. It was 10:00 PM, dark, snowy, and -15 degrees. Even though she lived in the opposite direction (Kitchener), she offered to drive me HOME, instead of the nearby mall. Thank you, Leah!
  2. My friend Lily from school gave me a high-quality, warm, and classic pair of leg warmers from Roots. I love them! I put them on shortly after and couldn’t stop thinking about how comfy they were. Looks like I will be having a warm winter 🙂 If you check out my aerial silks page, you’ll see that I’ve been really loving the leg warmers!
  3. My friend Jasmine made a MEME of me. If you guys know me, you’ll know that I am a meme lover. My life probably revolves around memes. Anyways, she found a hideous picture of me and made a meme out of it. Had me laughing for a good five minutes.
  4. Roommates Madhulika and Arsalan bought me a white chocolate vanilla bean cheesecake from Vincenzo’s, the local Italian grocery store. They knew it’s my favourite cheesecake, and they plated it, put candles in it, and surprised me when I got home. It was so sweet of them (literally) to buy that for me. Look how surprised and happy I was in the picture below. I got home at around 10:00 PM on the Tuesday, and they surprised me the minute I walked in – hence the big winter jacket, messy hair, and sweat on my face 🙂
  5. My 16 year-old sister Seline, in BC, wrote a little poem for me! You can read it here. It’s called Rotations and is quite a unique piece of writing. Seline’s poetry-writing skills are much better than mine. Definitely check out her corner of the internetfor some thought-provoking poetry, incredible images, and muses from a mature high-schooler.

Needless to say, it was a much birthday than my 18th, when I lost my ID AND KEYS the day before my biology final exam. 😉 To be fair, it makes a pretty funny story now that I think about it.

Next up – a hot chocolate recipe! Friends, you need to make this. I’ve done it before with almond milk and Enjoy Life chocolate chips for a vegan version and it is equally delicious.

Favourite Easy Hot Chocolate from Scratch
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar, or regular sugar
  • pinch cinnamon, optional
Instructions
  1. Alternatively, add milk to a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once milk is warm, add cocoa powder, chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon and whisk to combine.
  3. Continue cooking on stove top until completely combined and has reached your preferred temperature.
  4. Serve with a blanket, a movie, a group of friends, and in front of a fireplace. Just kidding. If you’re suffering through #finalexams (you know, #studentlife), enjoy the hot cocoa with a side of notebooks, stress, and calculators. 😉

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When I’m studying:
  • Where is my white-out?
  • Let me check my email.
  • How many more days until Christmas?
  • My foot is falling asleep.
  • What time is it?
  • I’m thirsty.
  • Where’s that sheet? I swear it was important.
  • I need to pee.
  • Why can’t I focus?
  • I’m thirsty again.
  • I wonder what Mom is doing.
  • What is that sound?
  • I’m cold.
  • Should I do my laundry?
  • I really want to look at memes.
  • What should I make for dinner?
  • Let me check my email again.
  • What is the minimum mark I need to get on this final to do well in the course?
  • I want to do yoga.
  • I don’t understand this.
  • Can I go another day without washing my hair?
  • It’s kinda cold in the house!
  • Where is my eraser?

My math final exam was on Friday. We are allowed a double-sided “cheat sheet” with ANYTHING we want on it, and this was mine:

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Looking at math makes me shudder now. Linear algebra is the worst because it doesn’t exist in the BC curriculum – so coming to Ontario was a shock because my friends had tons of linear algebra experience.


Creamy Vegetable Quinoa Casserole

Makes 3 Servings
Ingredients
  • as much quinoa as you like, around enough for 3 servings (cooked – rice works as well)
  • as many veggies as you like (I used broccoli, zucchini, frozen peas, and mushrooms)
  • 215 mL milk
  • 1.5 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • pinch cayenne, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, plus a little more to top
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to broil setting.
  2. Stir-fry veggies in butter or oil. I use medium heat.
  3. When soft, add most of the milk.
  4. Whisk flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne, nutritional yeast, and Dijon mustard with the remaining milk.
  5. When the milk bubbles, add the milk/flour mixture.
  6. Stir well.
  7. When the mixture thickens, add cheddar. Stir to melt.
  8. Add quinoa. Mix and season.
  9. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted.
For one out of three servings, the SAUCE has 140 calories, 9 grams of protein, and is high in calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.

I put crushed crackers on top and broiled it for a super crispy top. It was dreamy.


My birthday cake was this mug cake after lunch! It’s my new favourite recipe, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too 🙂 It’s super fluffy and spongy thanks to the egg.

1-Minute Chocolate Peanut Butter Sponge Cake

Makes: 1 serving

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water or almond milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until well combined. Transfer to a microwave-safe ramekin, mug or bowl.
  2. Microwave for 55 seconds. Remember, microwave power levels very dramatically. The first time making a microwave cake, keep a close eye as to not over-cook the cake.
  3. Serve with extra chocolate chips and a big scoop of peanut butter.

I filled mine with a generous scoop of chocolate chips. It’s the size of a muffin and quite filling! Amazing quick dessert 🙂

Eggs, veggies, and avocado toast are my favourite quickie meal.

Can you tell I have a lot of whole wheat bread at home? PB and banana sandwiches never fail me, especially toasted. Mmmmm.

Yummy cheese and broccoli quesadilla made with a kamut tortilla from the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market…

… and my new hair crush – the fictional Daenerys from Game of Thrones. Being cursed blessed born with straight, flat, plain black hair, I’ve always been super envious of those who have perfect curls and waves. I’m also huge fan of braids. So, I don’t really know why I’m posting these, except for the fact that I. LOVE. Her. Hair.

It’s cold outside! Last Thursday, we had -25 degrees with the wind chill. The snow is also getting higher and higher – check out how it goes over my boots! Uh oh.

My doggie Arnie, a funny pic, and the special poster in my room 🙂

That’s it for today, guys! I have lots of fun stuff planned now that my final exams are over. Can’t wait to get going on finishing that end-of-2016 list of things to do!

Top 100 Awesome Things in Everyday Life

#1 – the GIFs I used in this post and the featured image of my last post.

Okay, I’m joking. But life is pretty awesome. You know the saying “the best things in life are free”? I’m not sure if I agree with it 100%, but there are some dang amazing things in life that are simpler than you might expect.

Writing this list really made me think. How awesome would my life be if I could just be a couple thousand dollars richer? How much better would my life become if my grades were just a little higher? Or if I had a couple more clothes and shoes? While those things would make life pretty sweet, I think some of the greatest moments, feelings, and actions are some of the most underrated. Whether that’s making someone smile or watching people use “your” and “you’re” correctly, I fully believe that there are some fantastic things in life that I need to appreciate more often.

Here are a couple (okay, 100) examples of super neat things in life that should happen more often. 🙂


My Top 100 Awesome Things in Everyday Life
  1. Getting a seat in the bus.
  2. Gliding scissors through wrapping paper.
  3. The smell of new books.
  4. Tea that’s not to hot, not too cold.
  5. Watching the Olympics.
  6. When public washrooms have amazing toilet paper.
  7. Laughing because someone else is laughing.
  8. Finishing something that you started a long time ago.
  9. Ice cream from street vendors.
  10. Being the first table to be called to the dinner buffet at formal events.
  11. Finding money that you didn’t even know you lost.
  12. Eating things after their expiring date.
  13. Pretty doilies.
  14. Freshly-cleaned sheets.
  15. Showing old people how to use technology.
  16. Pinky swears.
  17. When someone comments on your blog. 😉
  18. Finally getting that piece of food out of your teeth.
  19. Making it through airplane security no-problem.
  20. Practicing your signature to make it more adult-like.
  21. Making wishes.
  22. The feeling you get after flossing.
  23. Melted cheese.
  24. Learning – and remembering – a cool fact.
  25. Having oily hair and then going into the rain, because no one will know how greasy your hair is.
  26. Living with people who don’t mind killing spiders.
  27. The smell of bakeries.
  28. Canoeing or kayaking.
  29. Walking through a pile of crispy, crackly fall leaves.
  30. Live music.
  31. Seeing pictures of your parents when they were teens.
  32. Old-school video games.
  33. White peacocks.
  34. Finding out that you and your new friend have a mutual friend.
  35. Walking under a bridge on a rainy day.
  36. Bubble wrap.
  37. Peeling fresh plastic off of something you just purchased.
  38. Scratch cards.
  39. Waking up randomly in the middle of the night.
  40. Gift shops.
  41. Getting eyelashes out of your eye.
  42. Finishing your last exam.
  43. Goodie bags.
  44. When someone calls you and your phone isn’t on silent – and you have time to chat.
  45. Meeting someone who has the asme name as you.
  46. Reading a book that you’ve read before, but forgot how it ended.
  47. Fixing a clogged photocopier.
  48. Kicking dandelions.
  49. When you wear rainboots and it actually rains.
  50. When your idea works.
  51. Watching people on the sidewalk from a cafe.
  52. The sound of blades hitting the ice.
  53. Telling funny stories about your experiences – or listening to stories from a friend!
  54. The first days of snow.
  55. Pull-through parking spots – or as my sister calls them, “easy in, easy out”.
  56. The perfect hair days.
  57. Coming up with harmless pranks.
  58. Optical illusions.
  59. Feeding ducks, geese, or – let’s face it, any animal.
  60. Uniquely-coloured foods like purple carrots and orange cauliflower.
  61. Mailing something via snail mail.
  62. When you become instant friends with someone because you both dislike the same person.
  63. Getting no cavities.
  64. Listening to people speak quickly in a foreign language.
  65. Water fountains.
  66. The first shower after haircut.
  67. Perfectly cracking an eggs in half.
  68. Family barbecues.
  69. When someone stops an elevator for you.
  70. Dropping someone breakable and it doesn’t break.
  71. Playing footsie.
  72. Getting desserts heated up and served with ice cream.
  73. Actually seeing a constellation in the stars.
  74. Cool dreams.
  75. When washrooms have super powerful hand dryers.
  76. Saying something at the same time as your friend or sibling.
  77. When chopsticks come apart perfectly.
  78. When the person scratching your back finds that itchy spot.
  79. Free samples.
  80. When you finally understand a concept in school.
  81. Admiring a clean room.
  82. When people tag you in a meme on Facebook.
  83. Taking out my ponytail.
  84. When cool air hits you for the first time when walking into an air-conditioned building on a hot day.
  85. New toothbrushes.
  86. Clean glasses.
  87. That moment when you look at a clock and it looks like the time isn’t moving.
  88. Guessing the actor who voices a character.
  89. Sandwiches cut in triangles.
  90. Relaxing outside on a hot day.
  91. When a really good song comes on just as you’re getting ready to get out of the car.
  92. Hors d’oeuvres.
  93. Waking up at the right time without an alarm.
  94. Figuring out how you got to a topic.
  95. Correctly guessing old passwords.
  96. Hold music that’s actually really good.
  97. Babies.
  98. Finishing an eraser (okay, that’s never happened to me but I’m sure it’s 100% awesome).
  99. Gabbing a tissue last-second before sneezing.
  100. Trampolines.

What do you think? Would you agree with my list?

What are some of the most amazing (simple!) things in life that you can think of?

Share it with me in the comments!

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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 😛

Satisfying Summer Stuff

Long time no talk blog! I feel bad because I haven’t even been busy – just kind of lazy. 🙂 But still productive… kind of.

Summer funnies: TAN lines, summer expectations vs. reality, more tan stuff, and relatable minions.

And… back to the food. A quesadilla that wouldn’t fold, topped with egg, broccoli, cheese, and salsa.

Cinnamon bun muffins were made and enjoyed. These paleo muffins were made with a whole cup of almond flour, maple syrup instead of sugar, and other goodies.

Any guesses what this is? Hmm…

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Fried eggs have been SO “in” recently. I love them with avocado toast and veggies.

Baked oatmeal with berries, yogurt, and nut butter. Chocolate baked oatmeal is so good.

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Pancakes that failed to flip, made with ricotta and oats, topped with smashed banana and nut butter.

My roomie took this photo, and all I can say is that this chocolate mug cake looks SEDUCTIVE. Is there another way to describe this photo?

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Pear baked oatmeal, using my normal banana baked oatmeal recipe but swapping mashed banana for a cubed pear. Yummy.

Roomie made tuna melts in her special tuna-melt panini press. These look so crispy and perfect!

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Pear pancakes were enjoyed another morning.

I also made fried rice one day! Egg on top, this time, rather than scrambled in.

And I baked chocolate banana brownie cake squares! They were freaking delicious, as usual. A little too yummy, because the three of us finished 16 servings in 2 days.

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Broccoli-cheddar frittata with buttered flax buns.

Baked garlic-herb salmon, potatoes, and veggies! I had seconds and thirds of this meal and ended up so full that I could barely stand. :O

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Baked banana oatmeal, which you’ve seen about 12093 times already.

Pear oats made on the stovetop with a side of yogurt, granola, and banana bread.

More pancakes, this time topped with banana and served with yummy yogurt and granola.

Lebanese food at Arabesque Cafe was enjoyed last night! I had the vegetarian plate which came with deep-fried zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, and lots of hummus. The fried veggies were quite tasty, but too greasy. 😦

For dessert, the roomies and I enjoyed Menchie’s! I haven’t had Menchie’s before, but was so happy to see that they had crushed Reese’s PB cups and cubed cheesecake. OMG. I think I like frozen yogurt even MORE than ice cream because of the toppings.

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Mom’s cooking looks lovely, too… and she got a haircut! 🙂 I can’t wait to be back in BC next month.

Also, it’s been so nice outside recently so the UW Acro Yoga club has been meeting at Waterloo Park. These are some of the new poses that we tried, with the help of Google and these squishy blue mats that we couldn’t live without. Have you tried acro yoga before?

Above: counter balance and flying high bird

Acro is my favourite form of yoga and I think next year, I’d love to attend some acro workshops in Toronto and possibly get a certification in acro.

Above: floating paschi and flag pose

Check out these new pages on the blog:

ACRO YOGA

AERIAL SILKS

YOGA PHOTO JOURNAL


That’s it for today, everyone! Hope your weekend is AWESOME!

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