30-Minute Comfort Food Dinner

Who doesn’t love pasta? No one, that’s who. Because this pasta is seriously delicious and loaded with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and… cheese.

I announced (yes, it’s a big deal because it’s pasta) in a post earlier this week that I’d post a recipe soon. Voila – a delicious cheesy tuna penne pasta bake made with pantry ingredients.

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Sharp white cheddar, to be exact! It’s my all-time favourite for snacking, in eggs, and in pasta. I love bringing a little rectangle of cheddar to class to nibble with crackers, and grating it right into omelets or scrambles. What else is in here? Some tuna, lots of spinach, frozen peas and butternut squash, and roasted red peppers.

This awesome dinner was made up on the fly after a Power Yoga class with my new yoga friends, and since it was a Friday, I didn’t have much in the fridge. This is made entirely of pantry staples and turned out so well.

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I can’t wait to make this again! 🙂

Easy Breezy Tuna Pasta Bake

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • minced garlic, to taste
  • dijon mustard, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped green onions
  • cubed butternut squash (I used frozen —> thawed in microwave)
  • around 1/4 cup peas (I used frozen —> thawed in microwave)
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • spinach, as much as you’d like (I used three big handfuls)
  • 1/2 can tuna
  • 2 single-serving blocks of cheddar cheese (around 1/3 cup shredded)
  • more cheese for the top (I used goat cheese mozzarella)
  • breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top: OPTIONAL
  • uncooked pasta, I used whole wheat penne (enough for 2 servings)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Cook pasta according to instructions. Use salted water. Drain.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan.
  3. Cook green onions until soft over medium heat.
  4. Whisk flour and milk together.
  5. Slowly drizzle flour and milk mixture into the butter. Cook over medium heat until thickened.
  6. Add garlic, mustard, salt, pepper. Taste and adjust.
  7. Add squash, peas, roasted red pepper, spinach, and tuna.
  8. Stir in the cheddar. Add the pasta.
  9. Mix well.
  10. Pour into baking dish and top with additional cheese and optional breadcrumbs.
  11. Broil until golden and crispy on the outside.
  12. Serve with parmesan cheese and freshly-ground black pepper.

Leftover pasta keeps well in my opinion. I don’t mind microwaving it the next day. This makes fabulous leftovers, but let’s face it… there wasn’t much left over. 😉

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Makes two hearty and delicious servings but can easily be doubled and modified – add the veggies you like and remove the ones you don’t like or don’t have. This is my new go-to dinner for busy nights!

Lots happening lately, including soup by Mom at home in BC, henna with lotion (!), and Aunt Mimi’s wings night out. And Seline’s messages about what beauty is in 2016. She cracks me up!

Also, I found my photos featured on Princess Cafe’s Instagram page! Man, I really should make an Instagram…

And last but not least, Mission Nutrition! I’m part of this peer health education team that is responsible for lots of booths, fundraisers, and game nights for health and nutrition. I met some great people by joining this team. 🙂

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That is it for today, guys, because I have loads of studying to do! Three midterms on Tuesday, two on Thursday, and another one the week after that. Oh my!

PS: I love blogging and meal-prepping as an excuse to procrastinate 😉 But my “Clinically Oriented Integrated Anatomy” textbook is calling my name, so I’ll see you in my next post!

Scholar’s Dinner Banquet

Good morning everyone! I have a couple of meals to share with you guys today. These are actually pretty old photos that were taken in early June! This was a dinner I enjoyed – leftover quinoa mixed with coconut curry sauce, chickpeas, spinach, and chicken breast. This was served on steamed broccoli.

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This Mexican-inspired lunch also involved quinoa – as well as sautéed corn and scallions, canned black beans, half an avocado, freshly-grated white cheddar, and a big scoop of salsa. These are all my favourite Mexican toppings. What a filling and delicious lunch. I love how there’s an emphasis on lean protein and healthy fats here.

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Breakfast one morning was pumpkin oatmeal topped with berries and sliced figs, as well as hemp hearts. According to Seline, this looked “like some biological cell”. She thought it looked bizarre with the rows of fruit! Well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and I happen to think oatmeal is super pretty. 😉 Do you like figs?

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We had dinner one night at the school. Our chef and his team of culinary students cooked up a yummy dinner. The counsellors, administrators, and leadership student volunteers helped to set up many large tables for families and gold scholars.

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Everyone was dressed up in suits and dresses. This was our first graduation-related event, and it was so exciting!

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Dinner was buffet-style. I scooped up some salad with ranch, potato salad (spicy with paprika), rice and shrimp in a jambalaya-style dish, a lemon-herb chicken drumstick, and some of the best parmesan penne pasta with vegetables.

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My favourite bites here were definitely the spiced rice with shrimp and the pasta with zucchini and broccoli in cream sauce.

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There was also dessert – my sister and I LOVED the crumbly graham chocolate square, and I also enjoyed the mixed chocolate brownie. It tasted like a truffle bar. Both desserts were incredible! I wish I could find the recipe for the graham chocolate.

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Breakfast the next morning was pancakes. I tried a new recipe, using homemade buttermilk (almond milk + lemon juice). This banana-less recipe didn’t get thick and fluffy, but had great flavor from the acidic lemon. I’ll need to make this recipe a couple of times to make it 100% the way I like it – then I’ll update it onto my Recipe page. 🙂

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Topped with fruit, hemp hearts, and maple syrup, pancakes are always my weekend go-to breakfast.

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Oatmeal comes as a close second when it comes to my favourite brekkie. This shell bowl was topped with chopped cherries, toasted coconut chips, and crumbled chocolate espresso muffin. I love cherry oatmeal, especially when it’s made with fragrant vanilla almond milk.

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A similar but different bowl – adorned with halved cherries, coconut chips, and a scattering of hemp hearts. 🙂 Such a filling and energizing breakfast. You can make it even more satiating with a scoop of almond butter. Have you tried cherry oatmeal?

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That’s it for today! We just spent two nights in Madeira Park, near Sechelt. It’s 7:04 AM and I’m typing this on our little patio, with five, yes, FIVE muffins in front of me! I can’t wait to show you guys all the things I’ve been eating and doing here on she Sunshine Coast. I have some awesome photos to share with you guys in a couple weeks – stay tuned 🙂

Creative Blogger Award

Hey everyone!

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So happy to share with you all that I was nominated by the lovely Cassie of Super Fit Babe to write five things about myself and nominate five other bloggers to do the same. 🙂

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^ That’s a Mom Dinner by the way, featuring soy-sauced chicken breasts on sautéed onions, veggie stir-fry, pan-fried tofu with shiitake mushrooms and green onions, and brown rice.

Here I go!

1: I hate running and going to the gym. Honestly I just can’t stand it and I can’t do it. Physically it isn’t horrible, but there is just so much going through my mind when I do it – almost like there is no pleasure in exercising! When I go to the gym, all I can think about is calories, calories, calories. It’s as if nothing else matters! I’d much rather do a more enjoyable form of exercise – daily walks with Mom and our cutie dog, morning figure skating practices, aerial silks, dancing in the living room, jumping on the trampoline… the list goes on!

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2: I have a super long torso – I got it from my dad and it’s messed up! My sister is blessed with a pair of long, perfect legs and I get the long torso. Sweet.

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3: I have dessert. Every. Single. Day. Whether it’s muffin or nut butter on yogurt (or all three!), I try to make it at least a little nutritious with the addition of flax, chia, coconut, or fruit. Life is too short to deny yourself dessert – have sweets, but don’t gorge on huge slices of Dairy Queen cake or ice cream on a daily basis. If it’s just a quarter of a muffin with some blackberries, go for it IMO!

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4: I never eat protein powder and never plan to. I don’t believe in it. Why have powdered nutrients when you can enjoy perfectly “whole” versions of protein from real protein sources, like eggs, fish, nuts, and quinoa? There are countless other sources of protein out there – protein powder just seems unnecessary to me. I prefer to get my nutrients from real food.

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5: I love school! I actually look forward to it. My favourite class last semester was Biology, and this semester I’m loving Chem – even though I took both Bio and Chem, both semesters. The one class I absolutely DETEST, on the other hand: calculus. Couldn’t do it… and still can’t.

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But I CAN eat omelet! Like this one. Try whisking your eggs with pesto before cooking them into an omelet – it adds a ton of flavour.

 

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This was filled with grated cheddar cheese and served with a slice of Earth-Balanced whole wheat toast. Next time, I want to stuff some chopped roasted veggies inside.

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Mom made turkey bolognese another day. This meat sauce is truly special because it has a fraction of the fat you would get if you made it from regular ground beef. We also bolstered the sauce with mushrooms, chopped peppers, and a TON of spinach. Topped with parmesan cheese, this dish was ADDICTIVE!

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I had seconds and always go heavy on the parmesan cheese. Do you like good old bolognese sauce?

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For the Creative Blogger Award, these are the 5 bloggers I nominate (and you should check their blogs out, too!)

Jessica from New Girl, New City: what I love about Jessica is that her blog is REALISTIC. So much of the time, the photos on “professional” blogs are so contrived, as if they’ve been styled for hours and photographed with perfect lighting rods and flash screens. Luckily Jessica’s photos are fantastic, but natural. Amateur photographers unite?! Anyways her food is awesome and I just love her attitude.

Rachel from Moments with Rae: she’s super healthy, super sweet, and meticulous when it comes to blog writing. And did you know she’s only 16? Her recipes are quick, simple, yet nutritious and absolutely delicious. She also writes thoughtful restaurant reviews and is a fellow oatmeal lover and Vancouverite 🙂

Cynthia from EatMunchLove: another Vancouver girl! She has a fabulous blog with tons of great recipes, and sounds like the nicest person ever. Check out her super well-developed blog!

Hmmmm… you know what, I think 3 bloggers is enough for now. I’ve got a busy weekend planned. Hope everyone has a wonderful Saturday 🙂

 

 

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!

The Most Beautiful Thing on Earth…

Are probably food-related, in my world! Like this bowl of pumpkin oatmeal topped with peanut butter, cinnamon, and chopped pecans.

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That white background? This is what it actually looked like! AKA a piece of scrap paper.

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Had scrambled eggs another day, with spinach and topped with my favourite white cheddar cheese. This was yummy on top of rice and the perfect blend of all the food groups.

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I seriously loved this dinner: shrimp pasta with zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach. Cooked in the best buttery, garlicky oil and topped with parmesan cheese. One of my new #1 dinners of all time!

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I had the leftovers for lunch the next day. And did I mention that I LOVE penne?

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Strange-ish dinner – scrambled eggs with spinach and feta cheese with roasted sweet potato.

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I don’t think words can explain how much I love sweet potatoes! Especially when they’re roasted and caramelized.

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And one of my favourite breakfasts of all time: fudgy chocolate-banana oatmeal topped with peanut butter.

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I didn’t need muffin or granola or fruit or nuts on this bowl – plain and simple was perfect. With my books and binder in the background! Beautiful, I know.

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Mom dinner here! Wow, haven’t posted a Mom dinner for quite a while. This plate features ‘ou bing’, a pattie made of ground pork, scallions, rice, and lotus root. Sounds strange, but it is really, really tasty. 🙂

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With some sauteed krill and cabbage, tofu with scallion oil, rouzao rice, and half a hard-boiled egg.

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This made a delicious next-day lunch as well. I love Mom Meals!

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Almost even more than I love grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

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These are just so delicious! Cooked in coconut oil as usual.

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Scrambled eggs with spinach (obviously I can’t get enough of this!) with spicy pepper jack cheese underneath. Focaccia bread from Inno bakery is one of the best breads I’ve ever had.

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I love melty, spicy cheese. 🙂

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I sure love a lot of things!

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This was another Mom Meal. Shrimp and broccoli stir-fry, quinoa, caramelized sweet potato, and a corn + edamame sautee.

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So, so, so delicious. Go Mom!

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I tried hot yoga this morning with Mom! It wasn’t too bad. I’ve done a two-hour session before, and this one was much better (1 hour lesson, cooler room, easier moves) and I actually enjoyed it a lot! Will try to squeeze this into my schedule at least once a month. Mom liked it as well, for the first twenty minutes! What a tough workout.

Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be going to Bandidas Taquerias with Mom and Seline for brunch. I am so excited! Peace out everyone ☺

I ♥ Whole Foods

Dare I say… best lunch ever?

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It’s no secret that I adore Whole Foods. Aren’t I lucky to have an awesome Mama who takes me to Whole Foods almost every Pro-D Day! Yeah! 🙂

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The Whole Foods hot bar is loaded with tons of goodies. There is really something there for everyone! There are lots of tofu selections (YUM!) and I’ve even had tempeh. All the ingredients are uber fresh, local, and *mostly* healthy. There are tons of different flavours and textures, and you can get as little or as much of anything as you want. Oh yeah, and the sandwiches! The sandwiches are seriously incredible. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see a turkey-apple-brie sandwich from Whole Foods. Gooey, melty cheese and a variety of other fillings – all enveloped by crispy bread. Oh-so-yummy. There are only two drawbacks about going for lunch at Whole Foods.
1) It’s insanely expensive. One bowl that {generously} serves one person = $22? Holy cow.
2) Sometimes the food is cold! I don’t know why, but roasted vegetables just aren’t the same when they’re chilled. 😦

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Okay, third reason:
3) It may be Whole Foods, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Sure, the kale salad and quinoa pilaf are totally nutritious, but what about the macaroni and cheese? Obs and gobs of butter, cheese, and pasta might taste delicious, but just because it’s from WF doesn’t mean it’s low-calorie. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat it, though! It is amazing. Just watch your portions!

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Here we have tons of delicious thingies… let’s start with my Mediterranean corner! I have a spinach pakora, which I’m pretty sure is fried. But it’s a little spicy and has great texture. Topped with hummus and baba ghanoush, an eggplant dip. I also have a falafel patty. Two cubes of marinated feta cheese (OMG) and spicy olive-y Mediterranean relish add flavour. I also added a little scoop of white beans.

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Sweet potato, kale salad, beets, and Greek salad. I also see some tomato chickpeas and herby tomato brown rice! There is also swiss chard with creamy cashew dressing (that’s the green veggie with red stems). I also had a delicious piece of tofu, some parsley noodles, and more tofu on the right hand side. It’s curried tofu, with raisins and almonds. Under that is a big piece of stewed zucchini. So tender!

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In the middle, you see some macaroni and cheese. One of the best parts! WF also makes an incredible smoked mozzarella salad. It’s got penne, spinach, roasted red peppers, and of course, creamy and sharp smoked mozza. Another pasta salad {poppyseed penne pasta salad} has penne and creamy poppyseed dressing, with red onions and more spinach. I love it!

I can also see mashed potatoes and some Thai quinoa salad with carrots. Once, I even had mashed cauliflower at Whole Foods… ummmm, #totallynotpotatoes. Not even close.

What I’ve listed above isn’t everything we ate – there was TONS more underneath that we can’t see. 😦

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Mom and I also shared a super yummy big chicken and arugula sandwich. That’s crunchy ciabatta bread stuffed with roasted chicken, proscuitto, goat cheese, and mixed greens. The sundried tomato aioli truly makes the sandwich. Just like last time!

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Dessert was some sweet petites!

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A raspberry white chocolate cheesecake tart – my favourite! I have one of these every time. They are sweet, and so rich. They’re pretty small, but you won’t need any more. Love the crust, too. They are really satisfying. 9.8/10! 😉 Yum!

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A chocolate mousse fruit cup – so good! I’m not really into mousse, and those Kinder eggs aren’t my thing. But the berries in creamy chocolate was amazing. I liked this and I’d say… 6/10? I’m picky about my desserts!

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A Nanaimo bar – these are amazing. The middle layer is literally sweetened coconut + powdered sugar. I had only a quarter of this – didn’t need more! 7/10. I would NOT be able to eat the whole thing – it’s much bigger than it looks.

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Love Whole Foods – can’t wait to go again soon! ❤

Have you been to Whole Foods? Do you like it there?