A Food-Filled Weekend Getaway

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I train at C!RCA in Brisbane, which is located on the third floor of a contemporary arts and dance centre. It is a beautiful place, and I’m so honoured to train in the same space as world-famous acrobats.

Good morning! Hope you are all having a spectacular week so far.

 

It is now Tuesday, and I spent the morning in class, then meal-prepping. I made a massive, hearty vegetable stir-fry, and ate it with some random protein from the fridge (a cheesy omelet and falafel). Now, for some blogging before I start studying.

Last night, I went to aerials as usual. I’m currently working on a post for my Schulich Foundation media page on my journey with aerial straps.

But more importantly:

my friend and I spent the weekend at Byron Bay!

I mentioned this on a previous post, but my friend – Grace – and I planned a weekend getaway to Byron Bay, which is approximately two and a half hours from Brisbane. On Friday morning, I enjoyed a delicious homemade chai latte, some yogurt with nuts and banana bread, then packed up my backpack and a gym bag. Next, I cleaned up my room and the bathroom. I love coming home from a trip to a clean, cozy place.

Before I knew it, we were on the shuttle bus on our way to Byron!

Our hostel was the Byron Bay Beach Hostel, which was located conveniently in the city centre. We were fortunate to receive a free upgrade, and ended up with our own bathroom and a queen bed (as opposed to two twin beds and a shared bathroom for the entire floor).

This was my first time staying at a real hostel, and I was very pleasantly surprised. 🙂

After dropping off our things, we headed for lunch at Balcony, an oyster bar. I ordered the three-cheese crab mac and cheese, which was topped with garlicky breadcrumbs and plenty of hearty crab. I loved this meal! You guys know that I love anything served on a sizzling skillet. Our lunch was almost as good as our conversation. Grace is super easy to talk to!

After that, we spent Friday afternoon at Main Beach.

That night, there were two minor disappointments:

  1. There was a major power outage that hit Byron Bay just as we were leaving our dinner restaurant. We ended up walking home in the dark, without streetlights, and sitting around in the hostel without electricity. That night, fortunately, the power came back – and you could hear the cheers of everyone out on the beach town.
  2. Our snorkelling tour was cancelled due to the windy conditions. The water would be too choppy for snorkelling. I was so sad about this! Y’all know from my bucket list that I’ve always, always wanted to go snorkelling or scuba diving.

On the bright side, dinner was exquisite. We went to Treehouse, a twenty-five minute walk from the hostel. The venue was stylized to look like a treehouse, and musicians were performing live music. The atmosphere was truly unique, and I was elated to have had the opportunity to try their renowned pizza. The caramelized onions on top were my favourite part! Dessert, similarly, was divine – definitely one of the Top Five desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life.

  • 1/2 thin-crust pizza with béchamel sauce, garlic, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, basil, brie
  • 1/2 caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella
  • sticky date pudding topped with chocolate chunks, with homemade vanilla gelato

 

The next day was Saturday, and we were up early for kayaking. Our river kayaking trip was led by two experienced kayakers and nature lovers, who came to pick us up from the Byron Bay visitor centre (close to the hostel). We spent the morning on the water, watching the sun rise, and enjoying the company of Aussie wildlife. I particularly liked learning about the Aboriginal history of this region. It was also refreshing to meet other travellers: a pair from the UK, a group of friends from Sydney, and a new-to-Byron couple.

Thanks to all the excitement of kayaking, my stomach wanted some food! Fortunately, we stopped at a cafe, where we were treated to drinks. I ordered a chai latte (deliciously peppery, made with milk and honey) before we headed back to the city.

For brunch, Grace and I hit up Bayleaf Cafe, a consistent and well-known breakfast/lunch place. They are famous for their meals, which straddle the line between breakfast and lunch.

  • 1/2 mango, banana, berry, acai, coconut cream smoothie
  • sweet potato flatbread topped with kale, roasted beets and carrots, cauliflower puree, 2 garlic fried eggs

Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Mysteries.

Since our snorkelling trip was cancelled, we had plenty of time to explore. We walked to a number of places, including Tallows Beach, Captain Cook’s Lookout, Fisherman’s Lookout, and more. It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch the crystal-blue waves crash into the rocks, and see the ant-sized surfers ride the waves below. I could’ve stayed here for ages, enjoying the sunshine and warm breeze.

Also, I’m grateful for the selfie stick that Dad bought for me before I came to Australia! It might’ve looked silly, but it sure came in handy.

Next up, we walked over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse of Byron Bay is an absolute must-visit – you can’t come to Byron without walking over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse trail led us to a secluded beach called Little Watego’s Beach, and we also stood at the most easterly point of Australian mainland. That was awesome! And probably the closest I will be to my family for the next few months. :’)

I. Love. Sunsets.

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Another afternoon, another disappointment! I got a phone call that night (and an email shortly after) – our hot air ballooning trip was also cancelled. I was devastated about this, because, well… who doesn’t want to go on a hot air balloon?!

Luckily, we got the refund, but I’d rather be floating over Australia. Funny enough, this is the third time that I’ve planned to go on a hot air balloon. Once in Nepal, again in Cambodia, and now. All three times, it’s been cancelled due to inappropriate weather conditions. Is the universe telling me something?!

Dinner, however, was NOT a disappointment! In fact, it was the dead opposite of a disappointment. It was glorious. I made the reservation for St. Elmo’s Bar and Restaurant, which is known for Spanish tapas.

Grace and I shared the following.

  • seared scallops, charred leek and preserved lemon puree, romesco sauce, migas (I’m a big fan of scallops and loved the flavours, textures, and presentation of this dish.)
  • fried potatoes, salsa brava, garlic aioli, smoked paprika salt (had I been dining alone, I would’ve never ordered the potatoes. I’m glad we did, however, because they were hands-down some of the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted. Flavourful but not salty, these slightly-spicy, garlicky, rich potatoes were unforgettable.)
  • seared local cuttlefish, kipfler potato, olives, orange, mint, smoked paprika, saffron aioli (not a calamari fan, but these were quite soft and tender.)
  • slow-cooked lamb, butter-braised asparagus, homemade Greek yogurt sauce, pistachio dukkah (I haven’t had lamb for ages, but this melt-in-your-mouth dish tasted amazing with St. Elmo’s homemade labneh and contrasted with the crunchy pistachios.)

Finally, dessert:

  • hazelnut chocolate custard tart, vanilla crema catalan sauce, strawberry mousse, crispy hazelnut praline (ate this myself and loved each bite. Would 100% recommend, and order again!)

Before we knew it, it was already time to head back to Brisbane. We slept in (had three and a half hours of sleep the night before!) and had a lazy walk around the shops before settling on Dip Cafe for brunch.

I made quite a few substitutions on the Big Vegetarian Breakfast for an incredible customized brekkie. The smoked salmon was unbelievably tender, and the roast pumpkin extra flavourful. I also loved the creamy ricotta on organic sourdough toast, which was sprinkled with a generous amount of pecans and honey.

  • 1 chai tea latte with milk and honey (the best yet!)
  • 1 large breakfast plate with 3 (?) scrambled eggs, 2 pieces halloumi, smoked salmon, 2 pieces organic sourdough topped with ricotta, pecans, and honey, spiced baked beans, arugula with tomato salsa, roast pumpkins and roast tomatoes with wilted spinach
  • 1 scoop Nutella and peanut butter gelato (unpictured)

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Time to head back home! I fell asleep on the bus on the way back to Brisbane. Despite being the Commonwealth Games, our shuttle bus made it back on schedule.

Before coming to Australia, I never followed the Commonwealth Games. I don’t watch all the events, but follow my favourite athletes, including female Canadian artistic gymnasts. I was thrilled to find out about Daley and Goodfellow’s Commonwealth gold. With his outspoken nature, particularly towards athletic diversity and LGBT+ rights, Tom Daley is easily one of my favourite athletes.

Last night, I headed to a restaurant for dinner since I didn’t want to cook. I finally got to check Mu’ooz off of my restaurant bucket list. Mu’ooz is an Eritrean restaurant and social enterprise. As you may know, I adore supporting restaurants and spas with a good cause. I think it’s essential to support people by providing skills, rather than money – it’s more sustainable.

👆 I could write a dissertation on this.

Anyways! I devoured this meal, which was so spicy that I cried (I’m the world’s biggest spice wimp). The dessert was memorable: crispy freshly-fried Ethiopian donuts made with soy milk, flour, and sugar, with a hint of orange, topped with vanilla ice cream. More ice cream would’ve made this even better, but I was full and satisfied. 🙂

  • spicy Eritrean mushroom and red/green bell pepper stew, 2 large pieces sourdough injera, mixed green salad
  • 4 crispy African donuts, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

I wish you a delicious rest of the week!

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 😛

The Food-tastic Fortnight: A Must-See for Vancouver Foodies!

Happy Friday, friends!

Whew. How did that week go for you? Mine was a blur. I’ve been out and about, and in other words, I’ve returned to Waterloo, Ontario – with my dad! He will be here for 12 days in total. I’m so lucky to have him around for another week! On Monday morning, we rented a car from the local Enterprise, braved the cold a couple hundred times, bought essentials from Costco, had brunch…

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… enjoyed lattes and hot chocolate from Princess Cafe, bought a printer from Staples, and went grocery shopping at Sobeys. Dad stocked up on instant noodles, microwaveable chicken strips and fish strips, nacho chips, and croissants.

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Mom’s been a busy lady back in BC! One day, she made a roast beef with vegetables and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy. This was a popular meal, she reports 🙂 Another day, Mom made sauteed tofu with vegetables, chicken drumsticks, cucumber, and yellow turmeric rice. Dessert was cream puffs with berry, honey, and toasty coconut.

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Mom also hopped onto the baking bandwagon – here, she tried a new recipe for lemon berry muffins. These look so delicious! Wish I could try some, too.

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That’s just what’s been up lately! I didn’t post much during my winter break semi-hiatus, but I have definitely been eating. Here are some of the most memorable meals that I enjoyed out and about in Vancouver.


Lunch at Ajisai Sushi with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandma

Waterloo suffers from a serious sushi famine, hence my choice of Japanese food as my first meal off the plane! I originally wanted to enjoy a meal at Kishimoto Sushi on Commercial Drive, but they were closed for lunch. Instead, we lined up in Ajisai Sushi Bar for over half an hour. Poor Seline whose wisdom teeth had just been removed, skipped breakfast as usual and was one grumpy girl.

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The Seafood Salad is a very popular dish. The shrimp was my favourite part – chilled, fresh, with the perfect flavor. Cornflakes were sprinkled on top for texture, but I found this quite bizarre! The sushi was quite tasty as well. We ordered lots of California rolls for Seline!

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We also enjoyed some pressed sushi – salmon and eel, both of which were yummy. There was a hint of wasabi in the rice, which grossed Dad out. But the fish was top-notch and super fresh. The black cod was seared, and one of the most tender filets I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. The charred outsides were crispy and flavourful, but the interior was so soft and melted in my mouth. My family and I loved the black cod so much that we ordered a second one, even before finishing the first.

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Ajisai was great, but wasn’t worth the 30-minute wait. I much prefer Kishimoto Sushi for high-quality sushi and their much better presentation. 🙂


Lunch at Railtown Café with Hollie and Jia

The salad I ordered at Railtown Café was, without a doubt, the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. I had a dark hot chocolate and a roasted winter squash soup with that, but none of the sides even came close to the amazing salad.

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Hollie enjoyed the popular chicken club sandwich and a hot chocolate, while Jia nommed on the spinach salad with a peppermint mocha.

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My salad was a foodie’s dream: topped with avocado, sliced grilled chicken, pesto baby mozzarella, beets, feta, squash chips (delicious!), and toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette over a bed of arugula. I savoured every bite.

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My supposedly “dark” hot chocolate wasn’t very dark, and wasn’t very rich. Keep in mind, though, I do compare every hot chocolate to the rich l’Africaine (basically, a pot of melted chocolate) that my sister and I enjoyed in Angelina’s Tea Salon in Paris. I believe this one was made with water and dark chocolate powder, because the bottom of the cup was a little grainy and powdery. I finished the whole thing, though, and enjoyed it 🙂

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For dessert, we split a peanut butter crunch bar three ways and nibbled at pinches of this hazelnut chocolate muffin, which had an excellent muffin top and great cinnamon flavor. Hazelnut and chocolate was a beautiful flavor combination, and with cinnamon, this muffin was top-notch. The PB crunch bar was too yummy for words, and I kind of need an endless supply of these guys in my life.

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I will absolutely be back, hopefully with someone with a car who can drive us past the sketchy downtown Eastside 😉


Breakfast at Beaucoup Bakery with Mom

I think I have the world’s best Mom. Ever since visiting Beaucoup Bakery late last spring, I couldn’t get this amazing patisserie out of my mind. I honestly think this place creates croissants that rivals the best of Paris, France.

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On the table today: one almond croissant, one apple pie croissant, one hot chocolate for me, and a coffee for Mom. We asked for the croissants to be cut in equal halves so we could both try both. Mom is my food friend with food benefits. Does that make sense? 😉

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My hot chocolate was fairly thick, with a hint of sea salt that cut through the sweet richness of the cocoa powder and milk. It was a little foamy on top and had the cutest, um, heart (?) on top. The hot chocolate was absolutely amazing, but I need more of these croissants ASAP!

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Lunch at Joey with Natasha, Medha, and Sally

I can’t believe it’s been half a year since I’ve seen these girls! We’ve been friends throughout high school and went through so many highs and lows together – from crying in Calculus (seriously… multiple times. Mostly me.), to slicing shark reproductive organs and bouncing their eyeballs on the floor, to making dance videos in a locked bus on a July afternoon (AKA dying of heatstroke). We even spent prom night together. 🙂 Oh, good times.

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L to R: Natasha, Sally, Medha, me! 🙂

This was the Ahi Tuna Sashimi Salad, which my friend Vivian recommended. Vivian works full-time at Joey Coquitlam, where she specializes in desserts. I can’t believe Vivian is my age – she has 50 times the talent when it comes to creating beautiful and delicious food.

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My salad was fresh and much bigger than it looks. The greens were packed in here, there was an entire half avocado, and toppings were hearty with plenty of roasted salted peanuts, tomatoes, mangoes, and crispy noodles. The wasabi sauce was fresh and gave the seared fish lots of zing. I just wish the iceberg lettuce could have been replaced with arugula or spinach, and I found the salad slightly overdressed.

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One of their most famous desserts is the apple pie: hand-rolled pastry crust with caramelized apple, nuts, and maple ice cream. We asked for this to be cut into quarters to share, and that was just the right size. The maple ice cream had a prominent maple syrup flavour, and the buttery crust was the best part. With caramel sauce and melty ice cream on the pastry, this dessert was to die for.

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The chocolate cake was sweet, decadent, and rich to the maximum. This was also split into quarters at the table, and we divided the vanilla ice cream as well. The raspberries provided great contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The middle was gooey perfection and I’m still drooling just by looking at that picture. Mmmmm.

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Brunch at Wendel’s with Mom, Aunt Mimi, and Uncle Charles

Mimi and Charles have been telling me about Wendel’s for over a year, but since I spent the summer volunteering at the aquarium, visiting the Sunshine Coast with my family, and living in Paris with my sister, we never got the chance to go. They raved so much about the famous French onion soup and coziness of the place that I made this the #1 place to visit during my return to BC.

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Wendel’s is located in Fort Langley, the historic part of town. It’s on such a quaint street that reminds me of uptown Waterloo. Wendel’s is connected to its own little bookstore filled with all sorts of journals, colouring books, and novels. We arrived at 9:00, when it opened, and the seats were practically full already!

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Mom enjoyed a blueberry scone and coffee, and was kind enough to share parts of her scone with me. Warm and buttery, this was one of the best scone’s I’ve had. Charles ordered French onion soup with a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread.

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Mimi’s brunch was also French onion soup, with a grilled cheese with red peppers on multigrain. She shared some of her soup with me, and oh my goodness, I can see why it’s their signature dish. Creamy cheese, rich and dark onions with a flavourful broth, I absolutely loved this dish and will be ordering it next time for sure.

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My brunch dish of choice is almost always eggs benedict. See Case 1, Case 2, and Case 3. Just can’t get enough! Do you guys like eggs benedict for brunch? I ALWAYS order it because poached eggs and Hollandaise are something that intimidate me too much to make at home, and I have a serious soft spot for biscuits and gooey egg yolk. This one had smoked salmon and beautifully poached eggs on English muffin, with potatoes. I wish they served freshly-baked biscuits instead of English muffin for their bennies, but this was still quite yummy.

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Dessert time! Wendel’s has a massive selection of sweet treats, from decadent ones to desserts that are gluten-free and vegan. We ordered four for the four of us, and one of them was the lemon meringue in a jar which was exclusively for Charles. One time, he ate TWO jars in one sitting after lunch – that’s how popular and delicious these sweets are.

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L: Coffee chocolate ganache cake

M: Salted caramel chocolate brownie cheesecake – this was my favourite 🙂

R: Bee sting cake with Bavarian cream, vanilla sponge, honey, coconut and almond topping – the contrast between layers here was incredible. Would also order this again! Would be awesome with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

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I love Wendel’s, and so did everyone at our table. We are already making plans to return for lunch next time!


Lunch at Heirloom Vegetarian with Rachel

Do you guys know Rachel? She’s a food blogger extraordinaire, and my Vancouver food adventure buddy. We’ve enjoyed brunch together at Matchstick Coffee and Lebanese food at Nuba. I’m sure there’s another place we checked out together, but I can’t seem to remember it now! Anyways, you MUST take a look at Rachel’s blog at http://www.momentswithrae.com and be prepared to be WOWed by her stunning photography and editing skills.

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Heirloom has both a vegetarian menu and a vegan menu, and an extensive list of drinks. I started with the London Fog latte, which was unsweetened and served with a little cup of cane sugar. I was a little disappointed because although we arrived before noon, it wasn’t until 1:00 until our food came. Not a big deal, though, because we got lots of talking done!

Here’s is Rachel’s Heirloom Scramble, with organic Saskatchewan quinoa, green onion, leeks, oven roasted tomato, kale, artichoke hearts, rennet free goat cheese, topped with scrambled free range eggs tofu and salsa verde. She made a couple subs but apparently there were still bits of goat cheese in there. 😦 I tried some of her scrambled tofu and was pleasantly surprised. I have no idea how they got tofu to taste and feel “eggy”, but I’m sure nutritional yeast and turmeric were involved. Yummy!

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I was originally going for the Mushroom Hash, with caramelized onion, arugula, kale, scrambled tofu, bell peppers, and hash browns on a roasted leek puree. Unfortnately, they had just sold out and I settled on the California Hash, which came with organic Saskatchewan quinoa nut fritters, collard greens, yams, bell peppers, and hash browns, on creamy cilantro sauce, topped with seahorse dressing and pea sprouts.

“Settled on” would be the wrong words to describe this. After my first bite, I was completely blown away. Beautifully-cooked vegetables and fresh, flavourful sauce made a filling meal to remember. The quinoa nut fritters were like chewy falafels with a glorious crust, and reminded me of a cross between zucchini fritters from Paris and chickpea falafels from Thrive Energy lab. The green sauce underneath was made of cilantro and walnut, and the yellow spots are a vegan Hollandaise. I demolished this bowl and couldn’t get enough of those fritters, the sauce, and the yams. Mmmmm.

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The dessert of the day was underwhelming for me. It sounded great theoretically: vegan chocolate brownie with dates, walnuts, and almonds, and an avocado chocolate ganache served with berries. We asked for this square to be cut in half so we could share, but it turned out to be extremely filling. The “brownie” part itself was very chewy and firm, and the flavor seemed to be “off”. The avocado chocolate ganache was decent, though, and I was disappointed to see sliced apples on my plate instead of berries. I would not order this again and much, much prefer peanut butter-chocolate chip Larabars or black bean brownies for their texture and flavor.

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Thank you Rachel, for a delicious meal! What is our next destination? 😉


Dinner at The Flying Pig with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandpa

Have any of you seen Cirque du Soleil before? I saw one show in Montreal, Quebec in the summer of 2014 and another one right before this lovely dinner at The Flying Pig. Kooza was a funny and mega-entertaining show, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the performers and their incredible stunts. The sounds (live music!), costumes, and pure skill was unbelievable. I can’t even describe how good the show was – both this one, and the one I saw in Montreal. If you haven’t had the chance to watch Cirque du Soleil, I’m begging you to! What the human body can accomplish simply mesmerizes me every time.

Back to the food! Rachel introduced me to The Flying Pig and raved about the brunches she’s enjoyed here, so I knew that we had to stop by after the show. It certainly did not disappoint! My favourite bite was goat cheese + caramelized walnut + beet + arugula, but the seared cod was tender and equally delicious. I’m going to have to try brunch here next time!

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  1. Beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, candied walnuts
  2. Pulled pork poutine
  3. Chicken breast with asparagus and mashed potatoes
  4. Seared cod with spring vegetables

Lunch at Olive Garden Bellingham with Dad, Seline, Uncle Charles and Aunt Mimi

One of the highest-priority things on my “To-Do in BC” list was go to Trader Joe’s! And for one reason only – I wanted a jar of TJ’s SunButter. Thanks, Jack, for getting me totally addicted to the stuff! Sunflower butter is so dang delicious on bananas, in oatmeal, and on yogurt. So we drove to the states, shopped, bought clothes, got my precious jar of SunButter (which, unfortunately, had to STAY in BC because of airplane regulations), and enjoyed a meal at Olive Garden, the usual.

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I started with some chicken and gnocchi soup. Guys, I LOVE gnocchi! Have you tried it before? I’ve only ever had it a couple times from Olive Garden, and once from Wild Rice, and I enjoy ever single chewy, creamy, doughy bite. Next on my must-eat list = sweet potato gnocchi!

Dad had a customizable pasta bowl which included cavatappi pasta, crispy chicken, a spicy meat sauce, and parmesan.

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Mimi and I decided to go halfsies, and I ordered something from their “Lighter Fare” menu. Tilapia with shrimp and a butter, garlic, and white wine sauce with lots of herbs, served with broccoli. Mimi enjoyed the smoked mozzarella manicotti, and we shared. 🙂 The filling in her manicotti was delicious, and I loved my tilapia. The broccoli was really unsatisfying. Chopped into tiny florets and boiled for probably 10+ minutes, this broccoli was mushy hospital food at best. Still, broccoli is broccoli and I ate it all.

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Dessert was redeeming! Apple galette with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I really enjoyed the flaky, buttery pastry with the cool ice cream. Would definitely order this dessert again 🙂

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Going to TJs, the Bellis Fair mall, and Olive Garden is becoming a yearly tradition for our family! I love it. Do you have any family traditions? 🙂


And, because I have no idea when else to post this – here’s Seline’s favourite recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s super quick and easy to make, yet decadent and meets all the requirements for comfort food. For added nutrition, try adding some chopped non-hospital-mushy-like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, asparagus, or mushrooms. You could also go the Whole Foods route and add breadcrumbs to the top, then broiling until they become crispy. Yum!

Seline’s Classic Mac and Cheese

Serves two, or one hungry teenager after school

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz macaroni
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream OR ¾ cup half-and-half and ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (can use a mix)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil water, salt heavily, and cook macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour milk and cream gradually and stir constantly.
  5. Bring mixture to a light boil and cook, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until thickened.
  7. Add shredded cheddar cheese and whisk to melt. Simmer until all cheese is melted. Taste the sauce – you can add extra flavourings here: more salt, more pepper, some spices like paprika, garlic, or maybe some Dijon mustard.
  8. Add cooked macaroni noodles to the saucepan. Stir and toss to coat with cheese sauce.

That is definitely it for today, because I have LOTS of work to get done and things to prepare for next week. Dad and I have plans to tour Toronto for two days – tomorrow and Sunday! – so I need to get ahead with schoolwork. This semester is a busy one for me, as I have seven courses: human physiology, physics, psychology (my favourite course, surprisingly), anatomy + anatomy lab, a clinical practice lab, and French. 🙂

I hope your weekend will be filled with great moments and yummy food as well!

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!

Aroma Cafe: A Cozy Corner

Good morning beautiful people!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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