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! 😀

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?

My Favourite Healthy Dinner {in 15 minutes!}

There are no words to describe how much I love this meal – it’s a go-to for busy weeknights. Inspired by one of my favourite bloggers, Iowa Girl Eats (see http://iowagirleats.com/2011/05/31/under-15-minute-meal-for-one for her version!), this is fresh and summery dinner literally takes fifteen minutes to prepare! ♥

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My rendition stars pan-fried trout from Costco, a weekly staple in my family. It’s hard to believe how fresh Costco seafood is. A friend of my father’s works at a chicken slaughterhouse (is there a nicer way to put that?) and his chickens are always delivered straight to Costco. High demand = super fresh!

We always chop the trout into single-serving sections, scrape off the scales under cold running water, freeze some, and marinate/season some for dinner that night. You don’t need fancy spices or flavoured oils to make trout taste amazing – sea salt and pepper is perfect. To pan-fry trout, I just splash a few drops of oil onto a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. I LOVE the skin, and I need it to be super crispy, so the skin goes down first. It’ll cook for a few minutes, releasing tons of scrumptiously seafood-y oil into the skillet. Once the skin is crusty and the filet is cooked halfway through, flip the trout with a spatula (or chopsticks if you’re my mom). If you’re weird and don’t like skin, peel it off here. It’s so much easier peeling it off now than it is when the trout is uncooked! Cover it up, turn the heat down, and cook it to your desired doneness! I don’t like my fish tough – I’d rather have it melt-in-your-mouth and… medium rare? Drizzle with lemon. Fish – done!

The quinoa pilaf can be made in three minutes if you have cooled, leftover quinoa. I like cooking my quinoa in chicken broth and a pinch of sea salt, because it adds a new layer of delicious, savory flavour. It keeps really well in the fridge, too. Fresh quinoa works well also – just make sure that you’re using a scant amount of liquid (2:1 ratio liquid to water) so that it’s not mushy. We ALWAYS cook our quinoa in the steamer; you don’t have to worry about it in there, whereas in a pot, you have to time it, remove it from the heat, etc. If you have a steamer, I highly recommend cooking grains in there! Works perfectly every time with zero effort.

By the way, in the picture I’m using an ancient grains mix. There’s red and beige quinoa in there, as well as steel cut oats (oats!), couscous, and barley. Yum! The texture is amazing. Casbah brand, in case you were wondering!

Anyways! Toss a few drops of oil (I usually use olive oil) into a skillet over medium heat. Add frozen corn – ours is from Costco. It’s organic and tastes unbelievably fresh and sweet. Love it! I like my corn almost charred. Pale, mushy corn has no place on my plate! When the corn is brown and uber-fragrant, add frozen peas and stir until slightly softened. I also added sugar peas because they were hanging out in the fridge. If I had some, I would’ve thrown in some baby spinach or kale to wilt. When the veggies are 95% cooked, toss in the quinoa and stir, letting it heat up.

Turn off the heat, season heartily with freshly-ground black pepper (a kitchen ingredient that makes you look a lot better at cooking than you actually are!) and a big drizzle of lemon juice. Toss it all around, throw it on a plate, and top it with the pan-fried trout.

That’s roasted broccoli on the side. Simple recipe, but its 10:00 now and I want to go to bed. Next time!

Sweet corn, savory quinoa, a veggie punch from the greens. Let’s not forget the juicy trout. I always drizzle the fish oil on top of the fish, and then eat the skin in one bite (really is better than greasy potato chips!).

Oh, and I always drizzle everything in lemon and churn some black peppah over everything. Seasoning in layers is what makes restaurant food so flavourful.

Hope you guys enjoy this healthy and quick weeknight dinner!

QUESTION OF THE DAY!
What is your go-to healthy weeknight meal? You know, for the days that you’ve got tons on your To-Do list but can’t bear to down a bowl of Cheerios? Let me know in the comments! ☺

Mine is definitely this here. Or… maybe an egg, cheese, and spinach omelette. Hard to choose!