Thursday Coast Post: Brunch, A Tart, and My Favourite Cheesecake EVER

Hello everyone! Just demolished a bowl of flax-chia oatmeal with caramelized banana, blueberries, and hemp hearts, and I’m going to try to squeeze in this quick blog post before heading off to spin class. In the afternoon, I’ll be getting a haircut and then helping Mom prepare food for our BBQ party with family friends. 🙂 It’s going to be a busy and fun day!

On another note, I just uploaded all recent photos to my computer and updated this post with photos of the casserole we made and enjoyed. It’s down at the bottom of the post and features a recipe, too. 🙂 Who doesn’t love warm, cheesy, and HEALTHY casseroles?

Anyways, this is my fourth Sunshine Coast post. You can read all of the others here, or click on the individual links here – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

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We started the morning by driving to Edie Rae’s Cafe, which is about ten minutes into Powell River. The cafe itself is located inside the Old Courthouse Inn, which is a lovely little hotel with a vintage feel. We were the first people in the brunch place, and the perky waitress was happy to serve us drinks and food. I started with some hot water.

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I didn’t have a hard time deciding what I wanted from the menu – I almost always order eggs benedict when at restaurants for brunch – and today was no different!

Louie’s Smoked Salmon Bene: Two poached eggs, fresh biscuit with herbed cream cheese, smoked lox, Hollandaise, hash browns

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YUM! I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, and hash browns in particular, so I donated most of the taters to my dad. My bene, however, was INCREDIBLE. Rich, flavourful hollandaise sauce, perfectly-cooked eggs with runny yolk, and massive chunks of smoked salmon. They actually smoke their own salmon in-house, and I could definitely taste the difference. This was so, so fresh and didn’t have a “bagged” taste at all. They also whip up their own cream cheese, which is flavoured with herbs. I was so impressed! Everything tasted awesome together, and I absolutely LOVED the biscuit (not a fan of benedicts made with English muffins). 🙂

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Seline decided on a three-egg omelet with her fillings of choice. She thought this was quite yummy and smothered it in ketchup.

Yvonne’s Omelette: Three eggs, choice of 3 toppings (mushrooms, cheese, bacon), hash browns, choice of bread

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Dad ordered the classic breakfast, which came with eggs, bacon, sausage, and two big pancakes, as well as a good serving of hash browns. He raved about the crispy potatoes and loved how they were topped with scallions. Apparently that’s some kind of revolution for him (the fact that you can top potatoes with scallions). The downside to his meal were the sausages, which were cooked for a bit too long and were quite chewy and firm.

Millworkers’ Breakfast: Two eggs any style, 3 bacon, 1 ham, 3 sausage patties, 2 medium buttermilk pancakes, hash browns

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Mom enjoyed her single benny made with avocado and tomatoes. Unfortunately, her avocado was a bit brown on the edges, as if it had been saran-wrapped and then cut straight out of the refrigerator. But the sauce, egg, and biscuit were flawless!

Powell Riviera Bene (half order): Two poached eggs, fresh biscuit, avocado, fried tomato, Hollandaise, hash browns

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Since I gave Dad most of my potatoes, he let me try some of his buttermilk pancake. Bleh! I didn’t like this at all. It tasted like some kind of Bisquick or Aunt Jemima pancake mix. While it was fluffy and airy, there was no buttermilk flavour. Actually, there was no flavour at all here! I much prefer my own banana pancakes or pumpkin pancakes. The blackberry jam was alright. There was nothing memorable about that! And whoa… check out that runny yolk. ❤

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Before heading on another ferry to the Courtenay // Comox region, Mom and I visited the Rocky Mountain Bakery, which has pretty great reviews. I was disappointed though – to see just mediocre croissants and danishes. Mom noted that the cinnamon buns were very expensive.

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We arrived in Courtenay at around 1:30 and drove a little bit to find the Atlas Cafe, where we had lunch. It was super busy at that time, and we had to wait for about half an hour. There was a line up that streamed outside – and quite a few people were here to take out their meals.

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By the time we were finally seated, well after 2:15, I knew I wanted to order the famed goat cheese tart! This plate was truly unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. The crust! THE CRUST! It was so flaky and buttery. I thought egg tart crusts were good until I tried this one. Better than any crust I’ve ever eaten. Anyways, that incredible crust was filled with caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, and flavoured with plenty of herbs. It was surrounded with a tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, pesto oil, and garnished with a handful of mixed greens. The goat cheese was heaped generously between the mixed greens and the filling, and tasted amazing with the crust (YUM!) and slightly acidic tomato coulis.

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GOAT CHEESE TART: sweet chili yams, fennel & caramelized onions with herb oil, tomato coulis & mixed greens

Yams + crust + balsamic + goat cheese + onions = my favourite bite!

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Seline decided on a chicken souvlaki roll. The wrap could be made with a curry wrap or a whole wheat wrap, and Seline chose curry. She also selected the Caesar salad for the side. She really enjoyed her roll because of the garlicky tzatziki, but I wasn’t the biggest fan. I find rolls so difficult to eat because they fall apart and you have to use your hands. I hate gulping down my food super quickly because it’s going to get messy (eg. wraps, hot dogs, burgers, etc).

CHICKEN SOUVLAKI ROLL: sautéed chicken breast, roma tomatoes, caramelized onions, tzatziki & mixed greens with side salad

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Dad had something similar for himself. His curry wrap had chicken breast with peanut sauce and tomatoes. I tried some and enjoyed the peanut sauce with chicken, but found it, again, too messy! I don’t think there were any pieces of grilled eggplant in here, though.

CHICKEN SATAY ROLL: sautéed chicken breast, peanut sauce, grilled eggplant, caramelized onions, tomatoes & mixed greens with side salad

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Time for DESSERT! Seline already knew she wanted the warm brownie with ice cream. She loved how beautifully it was presented and appreciated the fact that we were served TWO scoops of ice cream rather than one, like most places.

HOT FUDGE BROWNIE: a traditional atlas favourite served with toasted almonds and ice cream

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I knew I wanted the chocolate cheesecake. Because, well… it’s chocolate and cheesecake. My two favourites! This was also garnished with a huge chocolate “sheet” (is that what you call it?), whipped cream, and drizzles of chocolate and caramel.

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I kind of fainted after my first bite. This was incredible, you guys! First, you taste the rich ganache, which has such a lovely, deep chocolate flavour. Next up – creamy, slightly tangy chocolate cheesecake. This section was my favourite – rich and chocolatey, yet a little sour from the cream cheese. It had the perfect sweetness, too. The crust was made of almonds and cocoa powder, rather than the usual butter + graham cracker crumbs. So unique, and it went very well with the rest of this chocolatey dessert. I think I ate 3/4 of this slice on my own!

BELGIAN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE: with chocolate almond crust and chocolate ganache

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If I had to say one negative thing about this dessert, it would be that I wish there was no whipped cream. It simply wasn’t necessary. A fruity compote, on the other hand, or a dollop of creme fraiche, would be perfect. Either way, this was definitely in the TOP THREE desserts I’ve had in my life. And one of the top two of my Sunshine Coast vacation! By the time we finished the dessert and paid, it was around 4:00 in the afternoon. Talk about a late lunch! What is the latest time you’ve ever had lunch?

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While walking around downtown Courtenay, we came to a special Whole Foods Market called Edible Island. It was just like Whole Foods on Cambie Street in Vancouver! Except a lot smaller. A LOT smaller.

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Sweet Surprise Bakery is a famous Courtenay bakery – they sell only gluten free goodies. It was quite late in the afternoon when we arrived, and they were starting to saran-wrap their muffins to close the shop.

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Isn’t it such a lovely little place? With the perky chandelier and cozy decor, I thought Sweet Surprise Bakery was the cutest place ever. It is opened by a mother and her daughter, and they sell nothing but GF treats. Everything looked amazing!

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That’s it for today! Have the tastiest weekend ever. Lots of recipes coming up – stay tuned!

Wednesday Coast Post: New #1 Dessert and Buffet!

Hi everyone! Just came back from the orthodontist, and before that: a circuit class, an hour of spinning (indoor cycling), and an hour and fifteen minutes of hatha yoga. I had a massive breakfast this morning and just ate a huge lunch of avocado toast with two scrambled eggs with cheddar, zucchini, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and scallions. Delicious!

Moving on – here is the third post in my Sunshine Coast Series! You can read Monday here, and Tuesday here. 🙂 Let’s get started!


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Leftover muffins from The Bakery in Sechelt: lemon poppyseed, blueberry scone, raspberry mango oatmeal muffin, savoury scone, gluten-free apple cinnamon muffin

Mom and I polished off the last of these delicious baked goods for breakfast on Wednesday morning. You can read about what we thought of these muffins here, on my Tuesday Coast Post.

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Dad had leftover chicken wings from Monday with smoked salmon pasta from Tuesday, and Seline got a McDonald’s egg McMuffin with bacon.

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In Powell River, we spotted two famous eateries: the Tree Frog Bistro and Little Hut Curry. I wanted to have Little Hut Curry SO badly – they are the highest-rated restaurant in the Sunshine Coast and serve authentic Indian dishes, but were closed on Canada Day. 😥

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We went to the Coastal Cookery instead! The restaurant was decorated with mirrors, paintings, and unique lights. This place reminded me a lot of Cactus Club.

Pow Town Poutine: Fresh cut fries, porter and beef gravy, fresh cheese curds

My first impression of this dish? WOW, that’s a huge serving. This wasn’t a regular salad-sized, or even dinner-sized plate – it was a full serving plate, heaping with fries, gravy, and cheese. Despite the large serving, my family wasn’t crazy about this poutine. Seline thought the fries were done in an odd way, and didn’t like the fries themselves. Mom declared that overall, the poutine was too salty for her taste. With fries, gravy, and cheese – I’d agree! Even though I didn’t try this 😛

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BBQ Buttermilk Chicken Bites: Buttermilk soaked and seasoned Vancouver Island chicken, homemade BBQ sauce, fresh cucumber, crispy onions

“Pretty good.” That’s all Dad could say about this dish, even though he rated the restaurant, and all the food in general a solid 4.6 out of 5.

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Ling cod: local ling cod, rich lemon buerre blanc, roasted seasonal vegetables, herbed vegetable rice

I ordered this for myself and Mom to share. First of all, the cod was extremely flavourful – but only on top. In fact, the top layer was overly salty, garlicky, and peppery, while the “inside flesh” was underseasoned (which I prefer!). I also thought the fish was a bit too firm – it might’ve been seared for too long, or perhaps cod is naturally a firmer fish. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of veggies here. Roasted season vegetables? My expectations were high until I saw five sad little spears of asparagus. The asparagus was sprinkled with sea salt, making it quite salty, but the overall texture was nice. I really enjoyed the rice, as I always do at restaurants. While the menu read “herbed vegetable rice”, I couldn’t detect a trace of veggies in the pilaf. There were pinches of oregano and thyme (I think!) combined with the rice, but not one vegetable. 😥 The lemon butter, which was probably spiked with white wine, tasted pretty nice with the rice, fish and asparagus. I’d say that my dish was decent, but not super delicious or special at all.

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Buerre Blanc Mac and Cheese: Not your grandma’s Mac and Cheese. Smoked gouda, aged cheddar, white wine butter sauce, crispy pancetta, fried sage

Seline ADORED this lunch. “Really, really good,” she kept telling me between mouthfuls. “It’s the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.” She hasn’t had much mac and cheese before (other than Kraft Dinner and the time I made mac and cheese from scratch and gave her diarrhea – seriously). But this one, made with two types of cheese, savoury wine and butter sauce, and topped with crunchy Italian bacon, was incredible. I tried a couple of bites, and it was so rich. The fried sage, like Cactus Club (fried sage on butternut mascarpone ravioli), provided a nice contrast to the cheesy goodness of the pasta. This was truly comfort food at it’s finest! I would agree that this is one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had – dare I say better than Whole Foods’s version?!

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Bourbon Pecan Galette: Fresh puff pastry, pecan almond butter, bourbon maple sauce, vanilla bean gelato

Okay, excuse me if I freak out: THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE DESSERT EVER! Definitely, without a doubt, one of the TOP TWO I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! Sorry for all the caps – I’m just so excited about this dessert! And I’m kind of drooling right now.

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The buttery and flaky pastry shattered in my mouth, and there was a thick layer of almond paste (like the creamy sweet stuff in my favourite almond croissants). The almond paste was topped with the best crunchy candied pecans, which was adorned with a big scoop of vanilla bean gelato and drizzled with maple sauce. Every ingredient paired well with another, and we couldn’t keep our forks away. I was thistles to licking the bowl. Seline enjoyed the ice cream, Dad loved the maple sauce, Mom was a huge fan of the pastry, and I… basically just savoured every part of this dessert (okay, especially the almond paste). AMAZING!

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I saw the sign for a Farmer’s Market, but it was already 2:00 by then. 😥 Probably a good thing, too, because I could shop at farmer’s markets for HOURS, while my dad and sister despise them. Instead, we visited the Larry Gouthro Park for a Canada Day Celebration. Safeway provided a massive cake for all the participants!

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There was also freshly-made pizza. Some people made the dough right there and then, and others fired up the wood grill. Some people were in charge of scattering the toppings, and one person made change. 🙂 These looked so fresh and yummy – to bad we’d just had lunch!

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In the afternoon, Mom and I took a short walk to the Pacific Point Market. It was an 8-minute walk from our resort. What a nice organic market! It was spacious and newly-renovated, too. I saw a big spice rack that I fell in love with!

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For dinner, we drove 40 minutes to the Laughing Oyster, by the town of Lund. The Laughing Oyster is famous for their big buffets (only served on Wednesdays), live music, and incredible, fresh seafood. We were surprised to find this restaurant, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere! There wasn’t a single car near us as we drove the winding, rural road up to Lund. When we arrived, we drove through a forest (yes, we literally drove on a trail in the woods!) to get to this beautiful seaside restaurant.

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We were so glad we made a reservation – the place was quite busy, with lots of people in line for the buffet. We were lucky enough to score a patio spot (though we didn’t get the full ocean view 😥 ). There was an older gentleman on the other patio, singing and playing his guitar and filling the entire restaurant with lovely music.

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Seriously amazing, right? Counterclockwise from the top right, we have:

Salad with balsamic dressing, blue cheese and pecan spinach salad, sautéed cabbage, roasted cauliflower, zucchini, and peppers, roasted and glazed carrot sticks, saffron and turmeric spiced rice, seafood linguine with salmon and mussels, lemon wedge for oyster, fried oyster with aioli and tzatziki

Middle: roasted salmon with wasabi and balsamic reduction drizzle, salmon and Monterey Jack burrito with spicy creme

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The pan-fried oysters, with the remoulade (French condiment, like aioli), were a highlight of my dinner. I didn’t even know I liked oysters! I also loved the roasted carrots and spiced rice. I found the salad somewhat overdressed, however, and the cabbage nothing special. Their roasted vegetables were a bit on the oily side.

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Everyone in my family raved about this dinner!

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All of our plates looked different. Mom, Dad, and Seline adored the linguini and encouraged me to get some for myself during the second round. My second plate is on the right in the photo above – I couldn’t resist getting another pan-fried oyster, some more rice and carrots, and more of the amazing roasted salmon. The two drizzles are a mayonnaise and wasabi mixture and a balsamic reduction. Oh – and the blob on top? Crispy fried cod!

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Their version of fish and chips, this cod was the freshest I’ve ever had. It had a flavourful tempura-style batter around it, and was so incredible. I wanted more!

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For dessert, I was dying to order the Pate Brisse Cheesecake Terrine with rolled short bread crust and wild blackberry sauce. Unfortunately, Dad didn’t want cheesecake (he thought it wasn’t special…?) and Seline hates berry compotes. Instead, as recommended by our waitress, we ordered the Chocolate Chocolate Crazy Crazy. It was a chocolate mousse cake with a layer of chocolate ganache and chocolate drizzle, with whipped cream and dulce de leche on top.

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Strangely, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this dessert. I think it’s because I prefer my chocolate desserts to be thick, rich, and dense (like black bean brownies!) rather than airy, like mousse. The ganache layer, which is covered by the drizzle, caramel and whip cream, was my favourite part. Still, this dessert was quite far from being memorable. Either way, it was demolished and Seline wanted to lick the plate!

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As we waddled back to the car, Dad found some berry bushes! Not sure if these are blackberries or unripe blackberries, or what. I’m always nervous around wild berries and mushrooms because I think they’ll be poison 😉


l have a driving lesson in half an hour (Canada’s Worst Driver here, guys!), then Mom and I will be cooking a Skinny Broccoli-Cheddar Chicken casserole for dinner with friends tonight. If it’s a success, I’d love to share the recipe with you guys. Yesterday, we bought some Goddess dressing and Roasted Red Pepper dressing on discount yesterday (both organic, 2 for $6!), so we’ll probably incorporate a yummy salad into our dinner as well. Will update you on that soon!


EDIT: the casserole was a huge hit! Six of us, all GIRLS, devoured casserole dish meant for EIGHT people. We also enjoyed a lovely salad made with Goddess dressing (lemon, garlic, herbs, sesame), smoked salmon, and cashews on mixed greens. It was sooo tasty and I couldn’t stop! Thankfully it was salad. 😉

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The casserole, on the other hand, was equally addictive! Creamy, cheesy, flavoured with mushrooms and scallions, this dish was amazing. With brown rice and an entire head of broccoli for the eight of us, it’s hard to believe this is full of filling fibre (and lean protein from the chicken). I loved it – especially the crusty cheese bites with broccoli. Hope you give this a try! Here’s the recipe, which I adapted from Iowa Girl Eats.

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Skinny Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice Casserole

Serves 4 (I halved the recipe for the blog)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 4 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 40 mL light sour cream
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

 Directions

  1. Boil broccoli in lightly-salted water for 2.5 minutes. Rinse under cold water to blanch.
  2. Season chicken breast pieces with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat olive oil over high heat and saute until no longer pink. Remove to a plate.
  3. Use medium heat now. Add butter to skillet and cook green onions. Add mushrooms.
  4. Stir flour into 1/4 cup milk. Pour mixture into skillet when mushrooms and scallions are golden brown. Add remaining 3/4 cup milk. Cook mixture and stir constantly until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add chicken and allow the mixture to boil (medium heat). Remove skillet from heat.
  5. Add 3/4 of shredded cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir until smooth.
  6. Add broccoli and rice. Stir until everything is combined.
  7. Scoop mixture into a greased ovenproof casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  8. Let casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Have an awesome week guys! My sister and I are going to a cafe downtown tomorrow for lunch as “practice” for our trip to Paris in three weeks – wish me luck 😛

A++ Meals

Hi there!
How are you doing? I feel like I haven’t posted in a loooong time, but really it was just two days ago. :mrgreen:
So A LOT has been going on for me right now. Finals are coming, my first SATs are in three days (eeek), and I will be going to Montreal this summer.
Okay, it’s not 100% decided yet, because the YMCA Student Exchange Program still has to look at my references and do a criminal record check. But there is a 99% chance that I will be flying across the country in only three weeks. Talk about short notice! The interviewer came to our house on Sunday, interviewed my family and me, and then toured our house. He even asked me three questions in French!
The program is offered to 16-17 year-old students in Vancouver and Montreal. We’ll switch lives for a summer (6 weeks), and I’ll be working there while living in the house of a teenage French-Canadian girl. She’ll live in my house (homestay) and work here. I’m excited, but super nervous. My mind is swirling with those classic what-ifs.
What if I feel sick on the plane?
What if I get lost?
What if I miss my family and want to come home?
What if I suddenly forget all of the French I’ve learned at school?
What if my homestay parents offer only roast beef burgers and poutines for dinner?
What if…

AHH!
I’ll update you on this later, as I have to make a portfolio and a resume (en francais!).

Back to ze food!

Fantastic trip to Whole Foods with ma mere. I was starving, so I went a little crazy at the hot bar. This is a little bit of everything! I especially loved the tomato-ey brown rice with tofu chili, and of course the mac and cheese. Go Whole Foods! Too bad Montreal doesn’t have a Whole Foods OR a Trader Joe’s. 😥

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But then again, that might be a good thing… I’d probably go broke on my second day. 😉 Oh, and we had a big sandwich! Turkey-apple-brie. I had 2/3 of this beauty. So yummy – the melty brie was the best part!

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Sweet petites, as usual. Chocolate Turtle ganache on the left, and coconut cream pie on the right. I loved both. The chocolate ganache was rich and deep, but the coconut tart was sweet and coconutty. Again, I loved both! Bonus marks to the coconut cream pie for having shredded coconut in the crust. Yum…

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Top notch oatmeal! Topped with berries (blueberries + blackberries), sliced banana, and a big blob of my favourite almond butter. This was so, so, so good. My favourite summery, light oatmeal for sure!

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Tuna melt for lunch. I made this up on the spot. 😛 I just mashed up a can of tuna with some sundried tomatoes for flavour, plus a little mayo, lemon juice, and mustard. Then I toasted some focaccia bread and spread the mixture on top. Lastly, I shredded up some sharp white cheddar on top and broiled it. This was really good! Crispy focaccia bread can make shoe leather taste food. Black pepper on top, of course!

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I liked this a lot. I think next time I’ll use a bit more cheddar. This kept me full for hours!

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O-M-G. This oatmeal.

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These oats are the equivalent of loaded nachos or an everything pizza. Seriously – ALL possible oatmeal toppings are on here! Crumbled lemon-poppyseed muffin, berries, toasted nuts, almond butter, and banana (cooked into the oatmeal). I added some yogurt after taking these photos, too! This kept me full for HOURS. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – oatmeal is boring; toppings are not. Toppings will make oatmeal exciting + delicious AND keep you full. Plus, you’ll never run out of possible combinations.

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Like I mentioned on this post, Mom bought dungeness crab ravioli. Here, I topped it with crumbled goat cheese and black pepper. Served on a bed of baby spinach. This was a fun alternative to having a side salad! The ravioli were okay. They weren’t my faves – I prefer the spinach-ricotta ravioli from Costco, or even the portobello mushroom ravioli.

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My weakness = pancakes. My favourite breakfast (well, for today at least. Oatmeal and pancakes are always battling for top spot.) 😉

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These babies were made according to my healthy pancake substitutions, then topped with honey Greek yogurt and chia. There’s a mashed banana in here, plus a tablespoon of ground flax. A couple of blackberries for decor. 😉 Oh! And nut butter, of course. Barney Butter, sunflower, peanut, and almond.

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Here they are posing with my math homework… and half-eaten with maple syrup for dipping. I rotate my plate every few bites, by the way!

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Mom Meal: early dinner because I had to go to a hospital orientation. Steamed eggs, beef + broccoli, lentil stir-fry with frozen corn/peas/carrots, and a spicy onion + pork stir-fry. Not my favourite Mom Meal, but I really liked the beef + broccoli.

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Lunch! Whole Foods sandwich with grapes. I love grapes… until the skins get stuck in my braces and take half an hour to pick ’em out.

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Same ‘ole oatmeal topped with blueberries, crumbled lemon poppyseed muffin, and almond buttah. This is one of my #1 oatmeals EVER! Obviously anything with AB, muffins + berries I love.

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Same thing, sorta! This was for dessert – there’s honey Greek yogurt under there.

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Okie, I guess that’s it for now. I have to do some homework, study for my math test on permutations (Friday), and work on a resume in French. Luckily there’s no school on Thursday, thanks to the teacher strike. Random, but my teeth hurt. 😥 Just got my braces tightened, and now I have to wear elastics. Boo! Also random, but OMG – it’s already June! Where did the spring go?

Oh – one more thing! Check out my updated Mom Meals page and my revised Oatmeal page. I added all of the new ones from the past three posts. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have an AWESOME Wednesday, everyone. 🙂