9 Reasons Yoga is a Better Workout Than the Gym

You might associate the word ‘yoga’ with fit, flexible young women in tight clothes. Contrary to what you might believe, it’s not just an activity for bendy 20-somethings. Here are some of the reasons you should give yoga a shot!

  1. It helps you set goals. Many yoga teachers ask you to set an intention for either the yoga class itself or another aspect of life. Simply telling yourself “I’ll respect my body for one hour by doing only what I feel like” can have surprising long-term effects.
  2. It boosts confidence. On top of the uplifting spiritual values, meditation can release mental tension and form an internal connection with yourself.
  3. It increases flexibility. “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” is 100% untrue. No matter how tight your muscles may be, yoga will stretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a safe way to increase mobility.
  4. Relieve stress. Yoga goes beyond training your body to reframing your mind. It allows you to see the bigger picture, unplug from distractions, and connect with your body and various sensations.
  5. Refresh your spine. Gentle spinal twists help to loosen up the many joints that compose your spine. In addition to improving your tennis game and golf swing, a healthy spine is critical for a long, salubrious life. This may promote detoxification and good digestion. Backbends, forward bends, and twists provide spinal disks with movement to keep them supple.
  6. Prevent injuries. Yoga reminds you to honour your body’s needs and limits, which change week-to-week, day-to-day, and even by the hour. In every yoga practice, it is important to do a mental scan of your body and take note of how you feel physically and emotionally. Exercises such as running involve rapid, high-force movements, which involve an imbalance of opposing muscle groups. Yoga focuses on balancing the body by honing in on muscle groups and engaging them in a safe, healthy way.
  7. Improve concentration. Clearing some room in your jam-packed schedule for a yoga class can help you slow down and take a moment to tame that endless stream of thoughts. Yoga offers the ability to be present, notice only the sensations that are happening, and develop the sense of calmness.
  8. Tone muscles. Yoga ditches barbells and machines to build strength using your own body weight – think squats, planks, leg lifts, and pushups. Because a yoga practice progresses from one series to another, different parts of the body are strengthened and lengthened without putting too much stress on specific muscle groups.
  9. It can be as easy or as hard as you want. For challenging classes, find one titled ‘Power’, ‘Vinyasa’, or ‘Flow’. Gentle, relaxing yoga classes include ‘Restorative’ and ‘Yin’.

PB Mug Cakes, Yoga, and a Disappointing Cafe Experience

Happy new week, everyone!

I’m starting to fall in love with yoga the more and more I do it! I’ve been going to hot yoga every day since final exams ended and doing a teeny bit of practice by myself in the kitchen. Do you like yoga? What are some of your favourite poses? To you, is yoga more emotional, spiritual, or physical?

One afternoon I took a nice walk around Victoria Park in Kitchener. It’s been a while since I’ve seen rippling lakes and green grass!

Tea latte at Café 22, one of my favourite places in Uptown Waterloo. This was their small London Fog latte, which I highly recommend. So good. And I actually want one right now.

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We recently moved our dining table next to the window, so I get to look out the window and at my laptop while I eat. 🙂 Also, Arsalan (roomie’s BF) came home from Japan recently! He was so kind to give me two beautiful handmade ceramic teacups. Aren’t they pretty? Do you like handmade utensils or kitchenware?

I’ve also been volunteering at the Research Institute of Aging, where Professor Heather Keller, my nutrition professor, leads a team of students to create healthy recipes for seniors. Turns out a MASSIVE percentage of seniors in long-term care homes are malnourished, whether it’s because they don’t like the food, they don’t have an appetite, or they aren’t enjoying the mealtime experience.

Bloggers, I could use your help! Let’s brainstorm some ideas for recipes that are…

  1. Not labour-intensive: it needs to be easy for cooks to prepare
  2. Can be made in bulk
  3. Can be refrigerated or frozen
  4. Not expensive: we have nearly $8 PER DAY, PER PERSON, so that rules out coconut flour, quinoa, etc.
  5. “Traditional”: sorry, no hipster things like green juice, kombucha, kale, etc.
  6. Nut-free, because of allergies
  7. High in nutrients! For example, sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes
  8. Easy to chew and swallow: this rules out things like sticky date balls, crunchy nut clusters, etc.

Tricky, right? What are some of your ideas?

PS: our first idea was avocado pudding, but turns out one serving is 3 avocados, which is $9 in total. :O That idea had to be trashed, unfortunately.

Salmon fishcakes! They were simple: 2 eggs, 1 can salmon, and a bunch of spices.

When I didn’t have any baked goods for dessert, I just melted some chocolate and ate it with strawberries for a makeshift fondue.

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Vegan butternut squash pasta with a nutritional yeast sauce and spinach. I actually quite liked this, despite my LOVE for real, creamy cheese.

I bought some [expensive!] strawberries and they didn’t taste that good. 😦

More pasta, this time with brown butter and sage! Idea from a special commenter 🙂

Baked oatmeal…

… enjoyed two days in a row.

Went to My Thai, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo, with the roomies one day! Arsalan enjoyed vegan pad thai.

Madhulika and I enjoyed the amazing emerald curry with coconut sticky rice.

We shared banana spring rolls for dessert with vanilla ice cream! What a great end to the meal.

Leftover curry sauce turned into a delicious vegetable stir-fry the next day.

And then there was STILL leftover curry sauce, which became vegetable noodles! I was uncomfortably full after this. It doesn’t look like much, but I was stuffed!

Yeah, yeah… more pasta.

I don’t even have the effort to explain how good this was. Please make this.

Best-Ever Peanut Butter Mug Cake

  • 2 tbsp. spelt flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
Whisk together and microwave for 60 to 80 seconds.

This was one of my favourite meals of the week: quinoa with sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, spinach, roasted red peppers, and avocado on top with cayenne pepper and lemon juice. It was surprisingly filling!

More baked oats. Attractive, I know.

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Thoughts on warm salads? I used the last of my goat cheese here. So yummy!

Coconut and pineapple Thai-style fried rice was devoured another day. Seared tofu makes it really satiating, while pineapple provides a punch of flavour.

Roasted and shredded salmon on top of baked broccoli and yukon gold potatoes. They were all tossed with couscous and served with avocado and goat cheese. YUM!

And a simple oatmeal topped with a makeshift “crumble”, which was almond and coconut flour with nut butter, maple syrup, and some coconut oil.

More of the same 🙂

Spicy coconut-peanut noodles with tofu and shredded carrots and zucchini, and seared tofu.

I usually make two servings of whatever I have, so that a) it’s easier to make b) I’ll have another meal the next day.

These are some recent Mom meals: banana muffins, shrimp and chicken pasta, and some Chinese dishes. She also went on a cookie-baking rampage the other day and whipped up a whole table’s worth of COOKIES! What are your favourite dishes cooked by Mom? You know, the ones that simply cannot be replicated?!

This morning I took the bus to Pure Kitchen and Juice Bar after volunteering at the Grand River Hospital. I do patient registration, which is fun until there are 20 people in line, with two “Pats”, a “Jon” and a “Ron” and a “Don”, and a “Kryzhchevish”. My job is to take everyone’s name, record some health information, and call them up when their appointments are ready.

Anyways!

Pure Kitchen is located in the heart of downtown Kitchener. I had REALLY been looking forward to it for a long time, and when I got there, I was even more excited!

For my lunch, I decided on the small grain bowl, which came with brown rice, oven-roasted chicken, roasted sweet potato, chickpeas, spinach, sprouts (literally THREE sprouts, not satisfied), raw seeds, roasted mushrooms, and a spiced cranberry vinaigrette. Am I the only person who doesn’t like cold chicken? How do you guys feel about it?

Disappointment #1: For around the same price, you can have all of the ingredients placed into a whole wheat wrap. I asked for that option, grilled, but they were out of wraps. Um, you are a sandwich + soup cafe. You serve wraps. It’s 12:00, noon – how can you be out of wraps?

Disappointment #2: I asked for the meal to be served in a bowl, but they told me that they only provide these wasteful cardboard-paper box things.

Disappointment #3: Three sprouts in here.

Disappointment #4: Why was this cold? In fact, it was almost freezing. If the menu states “roasted chicken” and “roasted mushrooms” as well as “roasted sweet potato”, customers would assume that they are hot, or at least warm, right?!

Disappointment #5: Four massive leaves of spinach. Massive.

On the bright side, the rice was really good.

These were on the table for samplers, and they weren’t terrible. The green juice was a little bitter, and the granola was sticky, too chewy, and topped with a brown pineapple sorbet thing that never melted. I wouldn’t buy any of these.

I also ordered the Feel Good smoothie, which was made with maca, cacao, banana, almond butter, and almond milk. Sounds amazing, right?

WRONG. The $8 smoothie tasted “burned”. I have no other way of describing it. I couldn’t detect a hint of banana, almond butter, creamy almond milk, or even chocolate. The only flavour I could describe was a BURNED flavour.

Disappointment #where are we… oh #6: The smoothie tasted like a scorched tree branch or piece of firewood that had been blended with a scoop of ice.

I asked for the smoothie to be re-made after having half of it, and the lady did re-make it for me, this time it was so icy and not fully blended.

Disappointment #7: Smoothie #2 was 90% unblended ice.

The best part of the meal was the almond croissant that I enjoyed for dessert. It was truly amazing and almost redeeming. Have you ever had a croissant for dessert? Slightly heated up?! Oh my goodness, it’s gold.

On a totally different note…

How do you guys feel about running? If you’re a runner, what motivates you (ie. what do you THINK about when running?) If you aren’t a runner, what are some of your favourite ways to squeeze in some cardio?

Also, do you have to race to be a runner?

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Alright, that’s it for today! It’s 9:17 PM and I feel like I just ate dinner. Which, I kind of did. I always feel a little guilty for eating dinner after 8:00 PM, but unfortunately, I have commitments, I have things to do, and sometimes, it just isn’t realistic to have a beautifully-made dinner fresh on the table at 6.

Today, it was a lasagna that went from freezer to microwave at 8:30 PM because I got stranded at Goodlife Fitness because it started pouring (and thunderstorm-ing). 😦

Do you feel guilty when you end up eating later? Is there a certain time that you don’t “allow” yourself to eat? Back at home in BC, my mom was ADAMANT that after 6:30, no food allowed. For 18 years of my life, as soon as the clock ticked 6:31, it was “too late to eat”. This mentality really stuck with me and caused eating problems in my life. Thoughts?

PS: I just found out that I can click on all the tags that I want to add to this – I just added about 999 tags to this post, haha! 😀

Oomycota + Memorial Banquet

*Seline (sister) and I are talking on FaceTime*

Me: Seline, there was white, cottony mold all over the banana bread that I baked last week.

Seline: Zygomycota? No, no, it’s gotta be oomycota.

*She is studying fungus in Biology 11*

Me: Oomycota? That’s cool. I should call my new blog post that.

Seline: K.

*I name blog post “oomycota“*

You’ll see the moldy banana bread in just a bit…

(actually it’s at the very end. You know, for a grand finale)


Last Friday, I spoke at a memorial banquet for the families of the donors who gave their bodies to science. It was a little really intimidating to speak in front of ~80 crying family members who were close with the people I knew as cadavers. Overall, it was so rewarding and beautiful to be able to thank them for supporting the decisions of their loved ones.

Some friends sang; others played musical instruments. I had no idea my classmates were so incredibly talented!

At the reception, I had a Nanaimo bar and a very sweet marble-chocolate cake bar square thing, along with some kiwi, cantaloupe, and grapes.

Since we were all dressed up, lots of photos were taken in the beautiful garden that the students at Renison University College get to enjoy every day!

Madhulika made granola, and Mom did as well! Mom liked it 🙂 Speaking of the granola, I need to buy some more oats to make this!

Ever since exams ended, I’ve been going to hot yoga every day! After classes, the room is always empty to I get to play some more.

On Saturday morning, I went to downtown Kitchener’s cute little bakery, called the Golden Hearth Bakery. The 40-minute bus ride was soooooooo worth this crispy, gooey, sweet, nutty almond croissant. It was, dare I say, as good as the ones I enjoyed in Paris?!

The Kitchener Market is a lovely place, and so busy on Saturday mornings. I found myself wishing I hadn’t gone grocery shopping the day before!

One morning I had ZERO produce in the house so I had plain ricotta pancakes. Seriously plain. Sadly plain. Plain plain plain. But still quite filling!

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Are you guys drooling at this?! Baked rigatoni with gruyere, butternut squash, and crispy sage. Mmmm, and yes I had seconds, thirds, and then fourths. I think I ate 3/4 of the whole dish in one sitting. Fresh herbs make everything look more gourmet, in my opinion.

Do you like cooking with sage? What do you pair it with?

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This was probably my favourite meal of the week: warm couscous with shrimp, black beans and corn, shredded carrot, goat cheese, asparagus, and scallions. Warm salads = bomb.

This weird-looking thing was a French-toastified pita bread topped with the last of my cottage cheese and cinnamon. Simple, simple.

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The rest of my cottage cheese had gone into a lasagna that I made the night before, which had tons of mozzarella and gruyere on top. This vegetarian lasagna was made with zucchini and mushrooms.

Served with crunchy garlic asparagus.

Brie, zucchini, and pesto on toast was devoured after I tried to stop the fire alarm (silly oven).

And I had a tasty frittata made with all the veggies in the fridge + goat cheese.

Quesadillas another day, made with an awesome tortilla (okay, two) and black beans with corn and cheddar.

More frittata, this time enjoyed with too-toasted-toast and a side of FaceTime.

This oatmeal was gross. Yeah, I just called oatmeal disgusting. I made this out of an overly overripe pear, and it was so mushy and had a fermented alcohol taste. I picked out all the pear chunks and ate all the oats and yogurt though, then added more granola 🙂

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More pesto toasties! These were also topped with caramelized onion, brie, and butternut.

A simple banana oatmeal bake for breakfast one morning. Quick and easy.

More quesadillas…

And amazing banana-chocolate oatmeal.

Toasties again.

Two-ingredient sweet potato pancakes from the post that I reblogged a while ago – they turned out so well and I can’t wait to make them again.

Scrambled cheesy eggs with avocado toast. You’ve seen it before 😉

Ricotta chocolate oatmeal with pear and granola.

And another pasta bake, this time with sweet potato, green onion, broccoli, and cubed eggplant.

YUM!

This was yum, too.

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Fresh garlic-herb salmon on a bed of couscous with carrot and mushrooms. So simple, but super satisfying. I love simply-spiced salmon.

This oatmeal bowl was so photogenic! I miss fresh berries, but it’s hard for me to justify buying them because a little box is around $7 here. 😦

Oh yeah. That quiche.

Gooey brownies and a mess that I made. I’m good at making those. Messes.

And a banana bread. Yep, THAT banana bread. Before it got moldy, it was actually quite good with brown sugar, FOUR whole bananas, and cinnamon and vanilla.

Voila… gross.

This conversation made me laugh out loud!

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And… that is it for today! I’m going to do a little meal prep, clean my messy room, and maybe take a nap. Post-exam life is the absolute best! Take care, everyone 🙂

Compost

Do you compost?

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At my house, we compost every single day – any food waste goes in that green bin. But luckily there was no food waste from this dinner, which was pretty much perfect in my book 🙂

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Scrambled eggs with shrimp, mixed vegetable stir-fry, and a pork lotus patty. Really yummy on top of brown rice. I love the scallions in the pork lotus patties 🙂 This was such a classic Mom Dinner!

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On another day, I devoured these not-so-yummy thin buns, topped with a new peanut butter (just okay) and sliced banana with hemp hearts and maple syrup. Not the best lunch. 😦

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Sometimes I have plain ‘ole omelets with a little bit of filling. On the right is a plain mushroom omelet made with cheddar, two eggs, and sauteed mushrooms.

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Do you like omelets? Toast was sorely missed in this meal – I love two slices of buttered toast with every omelet. 🙂

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Dinner here was scrambled eggs with onions (I now HATE onions because I had a raw onion on top of a kiwi this morning by accident – the onion got stuck on the knife and landed on my kiwi), tilapia, steamed broccolette and carrots, and a little brown rice that I plopped on top later.

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I was not a really big fan of this dinner. 😦 There is a filet of pan-fried tilapia under that mound of onion. I really don’t like plain tilapia – it definitely needs more than salt and pepper. I’m thinking a coconut sauce next time, or maybe something Thai?

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This dinner, though monochromatic, was really tasty. Roasted baby potatoes, baked cauliflower, rice and Thai green curry with eggplants, and a fried egg. I just love runny eggs! My favourite meal in this post so far.

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This dinner was good because I absolutely LOVE Thai green curry sauce! There were eggplants cooked inside, and it was just so yummy with coconut milk and all those fragrant Thai spices, including lemongrass and ginger. You know, I loved that dish so much that I had leftovers the next day, mixed with rice.

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There’s no school today, and I think I’m going to do some hot yoga at 9:30 after I finish my homework. It’s a Hot Yoga Fit Sweat class, which means that we do much more vinyasa, or flow yoga.  In vinyasa, we don’t hold poses for as long, and spend more time doing “breath-synchronized movement.” Essentially, vinyasa is a series of poses that are done with smooth transitions and will make you think about when to inhale and exhale. I tried this class last week and really enjoyed it!

Yup, that’s all I have for you all today – my sis and I are off to aerial silks now!

Balanced Dinners Lately

Happy St-Patrick’s Day guys! How are you all?

I started this lovely Tuesday with a 5:20 AM alarm clock (okay, that part wasn’t lovely), gulped down some water, then headed to Goodlife Fitness Centre for a 6:00 AM hot yoga class! I had a new teacher this time; her name was Antonella and she was awesome. Totally committed, helpful, and gave great pointers for beginners like me. This was my fourth hot yoga class and I’m definitely finding it easier and easier every time. But still super hot. :mrgreen:

Here are some of the dinners we’ve had! Many of them are Mom Dinners <– haven’t updated that page in a while and I really should!

Party meal featuring Chinese chicken sesame salad, maple-soy salmon, roasted veggies, roasted potatoes with ketchup, and stir-fried vegetables. Plus two mounds of rice 🙂

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This fried rice was made with leftover maple-soy salmon and it was INCREDIBLE! The sweet soy sauce made the rice so addictive and tasty. We added an egg and some spinach to wilt before topping it all with toasted sesame seeds. You must try this if you have leftover fish – just flake it up and toss it into your fried rice at the last minute.

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Mom made a casserole the other day, with a homemade creamy bechamel sauce. I wasn’t too crazy about this dish but the chicken was really tender! Served with a hairbrush and some plastic containers on our messy living room table. Sorry.

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This was a Greek-inspired meal with garlicky yogurt-baked chicken, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes (yup, those whitish rectangular prisms that look pretty freaky), and some roasted broccoli. We love roasted potatoes + veggies here! Oh and I dipped my potatoes in tzatziki to complement the tasty Greek chicken drumsticks.

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Rotisserie chicken from Costco on top of quinoa with spinach, corn, and scallions. This is my go-to meal and I absolutely love it!

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A lighter lunch another day.  These were toasted multigrain flats smeared with mashed avocado and topped with shredded chicken breast and white cheddar. Broiled to melt the cheese and then devoured!

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This is great because it’s super fast and filling. I’m not a fan, however, of these multigrain rounds. They’re too chewy, even after you toast them. I wouldn’t recommend making this with 100-calorie rounds because they are really toothsome and simply aren’t substantial. Try it out with whole wheat bread, maybe. It would rock with feta cheese, eggs, and spinach too.

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This fancy-ish looking dinner was spaghetti in rose sauce from Costco (tomato and creamy mascarpone cheese). Whenever eating pasta, I try to add as many veggies as possible to improve the colour, nutrition, and filling-power of my plate. This was spiked with steamed broccolette, broccoli’s quiet little cousin, carrots, and chopped tomatoes.

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I can’t have pasta without tons of parmesan cheese. Believe me, I added heavy sprinkles of that salty, addictive stuff after these photos were taken 🙂 Freshly-ground black pepper is a must, too!

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I usually use a little plate (salad or dessert-sized) for scrumptious dinners like this, because I know I have a bit of a problem with overeating – especially when it comes to pasta, my kryptonite! Check out my plate (left) with my sister’s regular-sized plate devoid of veggies. 😥

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Aunt Mimi gave us a lemon meringue pie from Whole Foods, which we enjoyed. I loved the crust, but I’m not really a fan of lemony desserts. Am I the only one who feels like desserts = sweet = chocolate? I’d much rather have some creamy chocolate gelato or CAKE (bonus if it’s chocolate). But most of the time, it’s a couple bites a homemade, nutritious baked good. You can check out my faves here!

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More coconut chicken curry with spinach and peas, this time served on coconut basmati rice and with steamed broccolette on the side. By the way, we get our broccolette from Costco – it’s organic and really easy to cook. My mom boils it for 3 minutes to make it all tender (even the stem part, which I love!) No naan bread this time. 😦

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You know how I mentioned that quinoa + spinach + corn is my go-to dinner? It truly is! I have it again here, with the addition of mushrooms and scallions. A filet of pan-fried trout on the side, plus roasted cauliflower.

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If you ever get sick of a certain veggie, try roasting it! I promise you won’t regret it. The caramelized parts are my favourite!

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My aforementioned small-plate trick didn’t really work on this day! I was super hungry after volunteering at the Eagle Ridge Hospital, and Mom had whipped up this baked penne dish with zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, and chopped chicken breast. It was mixed up with my fave tomato sauce and then topped with three types of cheese, one of them being fresh mozzarella. YUM. Roasted broccoli on the side!

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I had four plates and ate until my stomach hurt. Gooey, melty cheese is definitely the best part of pasta, but it wasn’t worth the stomachache (on a side note, I used to call it a “stummyache” – stomach + tummy). Anyways, portion control is seriously hard for me, especially when it comes to cheesy, vegetable-filled pasta.

Leftovers made a great lunch the next day – luckily there was just one bowl left. 😉

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Party dinner with Chinese chicken salad, rice, steamed veggies, rouzao rice and egg, pesto shrimp pasta salad, and roasted potatoes. Honestly it seems like we have the same 8 dishes served at every party –> proof. 🙂

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Dinner the next day had stir-fried veggies, pan-fried tilapia and leftover pesto pasta.

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And pumpkin chicken soup with spinach! I had seconds. :mrgreen:

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Tomato scrambled eggs on brown rice, with steamed veggies. Love those flower-shaped carrots, Mom!

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I don’t think I have to explain this for the 50th time… 🙂

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More pasta in that rose sauce – this time with mushrooms and spinach.

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Mom’s fried rice is just so, so good! This bowl had scrambled eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and scallions. I wanted to add about 569 other vegetables, but Seline wouldn’t touch it if I did! So we collaborated 🙂

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And… dun dun dunnn… Check out this dinner that I made 100% by myself! I’m mostly proud about washing all the dishes and drying them, too. PS: Mom Dinners still taste better. What is it about Mom’s cooking that makes food ten times better?

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One afternoon, some wooden planks fell off my Dad’s pickup and hit him 1 cm below the eye (LUCKY!), and he drove home with one eye (yup). Mom took him to the hospital, and they waited for 7 hours in Emergency! I was stuck at home with Seline and whipped up this dinner for two.

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Roasted potatoes and broccoli with parmesan, plus pan-fried salmon and a lemon wedge for the photos 🙂 Dad is much better now – he had surgery last week, and has been staying at home + taking meds for the past few days.

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P-p-p-pasta! The best family dinner, because we can’t seem to find something that we all like. 🙂 I filled my small plate with lotsa veggies (and parmesan, of course!). I just noticed this while scrolling through my post, but I think I should branch out and eat more salads. In my family, we have a lot of cooked (I just wrote ‘cookies’) vegetables, but not too many salads. Should definitely get a mixture of both into our diets 🙂

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Thanks for reading about my delicious week of healthy, pretty balanced dinners – hope you all enjoy the rest of your spring break!