October | Sky-High Carrot Cake

Hello! Short post today, because I have a couple emails to write and some schoolwork to catch up on. It is really crazy how quickly my courses are progressing, now that I’m in a number of upper-level kinesiology courses. I’ve learned so much in the three-ish weeks of school that we’ve had so far.

  • AWESOME pic that one of my friends shared on FB. Credit to the artist; unfortunately I couldn’t find his or her name. I like this piece because it shows which animals the poses are named for. I particularly like the peacock and the locust.
  • Bubble tea at CoCo is on sale until the end of November, so I will have to make sure my sister and I get some!
  • Mom made Caprese salad at home in BC, because she bought some new balsamic vinegar. It looks so good! I love that combo of flavours.
  • Campus on a sunny afternoon
  • Images from Nutrition in Disguise, one of the research groups that I’m involved with
  • And more…

Seline and I had a meal at Symposium last Sunday. It was my first time at Symposium Cafe, but I’ve heard too many good things about their cake to miss out. I devoured the whole thick slice of SKY-HIGH CARROT CAKE, and Seline had the triple chocolate cake. After this lovely meal, I went to my friend’s house for a potluck.

Symposium Cafe Mediterranean salad with salmon // sky-high carrot cake

Another day, Sal and I went to Red House. Red House is one of my favourite Waterloo spots. They have phenomenal salads, soups, pastas, and entrees. Their desserts are always seasonal, and really unique. This time, I had the butternut squash and coconut soup, followed by fried polenta cubes with a beet and goat cheese salad. For dessert, Seline and I shared two: apple crisp with sharp cheddar ice cream and a unique white chocolate cheesecake with Oreo crust and stewed strawberries and figs.

Ennio’s noodles with gorgonzola sauce, seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic (unpictured, but quite tasty) // bread pudding with Nutella, vanilla ice cream

Hands-down the BEST bread pudding I have ever eaten in my life.

I had a midterm last week, and a few more coming up. A lot of studying needs to be done!

The Halloween showcase at Brass Butterflies aerial studio is coming up, and I have been procrastinating on practicing. I need to get back into working on improving my endurance.

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A quick video from aerials:

And some pics that Seline helped me take for my Instagram. I made an Instagram for my job, because I’m working as a Waterloo Warriors Recreation Ambassador this term. So if you’re reading this, you can follow me too. 😉 _cindywei

Things that scare me but I’m doing them anyways this term:

  • research
  • starting a club
  • presenting in front of lecture halls of first-year students
  • aerial performance
  • skating competition
  • teaching a yoga class

Random meal from recently:

  1. Seline’s steak with potatoes, sautéed green beans, and onions
  2. Veggie bean chili with cheddar and fig goat cheese
  3. Vegetable cheddar enchiladas with roasted delicata squash
  4. Quiche with sautéed green beans

More randomness:

  1. Saw this stunning image of rice paddies on Twitter (or Reddit?), and it made me think of the time that I took a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, riding past miles of rice paddies. Absolutely incredible, and even more so in person.
  2. A bitmoji that Seline made for me. It’s now my Twitter pic. I’m really a loser, as you can see.
  3. Seline and I went to Menchies the other day because we had a 2-for-1 discount coupon from the mail. My Menchies bowl included chocolate brownie, cheesecake pieces, peanut butter crisp, a malted chocolate ball, cereal, and more. I’m all about the toppings ^_^
  4. Sometimes, between classes, I find Seline and we spend a few hours relaxing, “studying”, and chatting at an on-campus cafe. The other day, I was SO. TIRED. that I slept with my head right on the table.

We made quite a special meal the other day!

Thai green curry with broccoli, onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, yellow bell pepper // rotisserie chicken breast // rice cooked with butter, chicken broth, truffle salt // garlic sautéed green beans

Now, I just have a bunch of recipes for things I baked recently:

Chai-spiced Applesauce Prune Baked Oats

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • drizzle honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 3 chai tea bags
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 15 prunes, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease pan – 8 x 10 up to 10 x 10 are perfect sizes.
  3. Bring milk to a simmer. Cut open tea bags, and allow tea to simmer in the milk for 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves.
  4. Mix all ingredients and pour into pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Oat Bars

  • tasted good, but need to add more condensed milk and a splash of oil to the chocolate filling
  • more butter in the crumble
  • double the crumble next time!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (will increase to 2 cups next time)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (will increase to 1 cup next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (will increase to 1 tsp next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (will increase to 1 tsp next time)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (will increase to 1/2 tsp next time)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (will increase to 1.5 cups next time)
  • 1/4 cup oil (will increase to 1/2 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (will increase to 2 tsp next time)
  • 1 egg (will increase to 2 eggs next time)
  • 2 tbsp quick oats (will increase to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 2 tbsp softened butter (will increase to 1/4 cup next time)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat chocolate chips and milk in 1-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; set aside. Heat oven to 350°. Line a square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix flour, oats, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; set aside. Stir brown sugar, oil, vanilla and egg in medium bowl with fork until smooth; stir into flour mixture until blended. Reserve 1/2 cup dough in small bowl for topping.
  3. Pat remaining dough in pan (lightly flour fingers if dough is sticky). Spread chocolate mixture over dough. Add 2 tablespoons oats and the butter to reserved dough; mix with pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Drop small spoonfuls of oat mixture evenly over chocolate mixture.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden and firm. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

Brownies, inspired by Allrecipes

Makes 36 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cups butter
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour large square pans.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla.
  5. Whisk in cocoa, cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  6. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins. Do not overcook. Cut.

Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Snack Bread

Serves 12 squares

Blender Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium bananas, ripe
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp PB2
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • large sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Blend all ingredients from the “Blender Ingredients” section.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Let cool overnight before cutting, or it will be too tender to hold form. Store cooled leftovers in a covered container for up to several days, though best when fresh. Slice and freeze for longer term storage.

I Walked More Than 20,000 Steps a Day for a Week

Good morning!

I got this idea from Cassie over at Super Fit Babe, who, man, inspires me so much. I was pretty curious about how many steps I could take, and ended up purchasing my own Fitbit. I love it, and find it more reliable and versatile than my cellphone’s health app.

So let’s take a look at my progressively-lazier notes!

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DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY

  • great weather, quite humid, and very sunny
  • walked to the farmer’s market in the city, shopped at the market, then walked home
  • came home to a very distinct tan line!
  • walked home from school in the evening
  • I took two showers today
  • felt limited flexibility in my hip flexors and adductors in yoga today
  • left ankle, the one I sprained as a kid, felt a little ‘off’ (not discomfort or pain, just different – maybe tightness?)

DAY 2 – THURSDAY

  • rained in the morning, didn’t feel like walking in the morning so I did a slow yoga class instead
  • during the yin yoga class, I noticed that I was less flexible in the hips like yesterday
  • rained sporadically in the afternoon, cutting my walk a little shorter
  • walked at a slower pace than normal
  • bottoms of feet were a little sore at the end of the afternoon
  • it was difficult for me to push to 20,000 steps today
  • I wanted to eat all the carbs on Earth today, and did end up having an extra pumpkin and spinach scone, plus a brownie for dessert (amazing)
  • not yet 20,000 at night, so I paced around the house until I reached 20,000 then went to bed

DAY 3 – FRIDAY

  • cleaning in the morning took up a lot of steps
  • felt hungry in the afternoon
  • ate lots of carbs at lunch again, and loved every bite
  • easy to hit 20,000 steps, though the bottoms of my feet were a little sore
  • needed to take sitting breaks during my afternoon outing

DAY 4 – SATURDAY

  • felt energetic today
  • good weather
  • got to roll out my feet with a spiky massage ball at the end of the day, which felt very nice
  • this is the most I’ve walked in a day so far in the challenge
  • didn’t actually feel HUNGRY, but once I started eating, I couldn’t stop eating
  • fell asleep every quickly at night (writing this on Sunday morning)
  • forgot sunscreen in the morning

DAY 5 – SUNDAY

  • woke up at 6:45, feeling pretty energetic
  • great weather just a little windy
  • felt like I had a lot of energy throughout the day and wanted to walk
  • increased pace in the evening since the temperature was just right

DAY 6 – MONDAY

  • ton of energy today
  • very, incredibly hot
  • when I get tired and feet get sore, I walk even faster so that I can get home sooner and relax

DAY 7 – TUESDAY

  • so tired
  • groggy
  • not really that much to say

I like how my notes eventually got shorter and shorter out of laziness.

PROS

  1. I slept really well. Normally, I fall asleep after a few minutes of lying in bed, but this time, I felt like I fell asleep even FASTER. Even if I wasn’t sleepy, my body was overall a good level of ‘tired’, and I needed that sleep. On top of that, I ended up waking up (naturally), later than usual. While I typically roll out of bed around 6:45 or 7:00, I found myself lying in bed until 7:30 or 7:45 most mornings.
  2. Walking is almost meditative. I don’t spend much time (AKA I don’t spend any time) meditating, or doing something simple like visualizing/listening to music. However, when I walked, I got to play some of my favourite tunes and focus on the beat and the lyrics. I think this was quite beneficial for my mental health, as I came back to studying feeling a greater sense of concentration.
  3. I felt refreshed. I loved the feeling of wind in my face, and being able to see the river. Since Brisbane has beautiful pedestrian walkways right next to the Brisbane river, I felt so lucky to get some great scenery while walking.
  4. I got a tan! A pretty bad tan, to be fair, complete with some strange tank-top tan lines, but I’ve always wanted to be a little golden.
  5. Vitamin D from all the sunshine!
  6. Made me appreciate music.
  7. A sense of pride and accomplishment.

CONS

  1. It’s not as easy as it looks!
  2. It is quite time-consuming. I felt as if I didn’t have sufficient time to do other tasks, like
  3. Easy, free, transportation.
  4. Less time and desire to do resistance exercises.
  5. Decreased flexibility in my hips.

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Overall, I enjoyed the walking and learned a bit about my mind and body. Now that classes have resumed, however, I don’t see myself continuously reaching 20,000 steps a day anymore. It was a great experiment to dabble in, and I feel more aware, more conscious, of the mild cardiorespiratory activity that I should take part in, on a regular basis. 

Walk on, everyone!

What I Do in a Day

Good morning! Here’s what a typical day in the life of me looks like:

6:30-6:45: wake up, wash my face and brush my teeth, boil water

6:45-7:00: wash dishes from yesterday’s lunch, make the bed, wipe counters and make a cup of tea (English breakfast, most of the time, with a scoop of honey and milk)

7:00-7:30: drink tea while studying

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Will my desk ever be neat?!

7:30-8:30: cook and decorate oatmeal (or eggs/pancakes/other breakfasts!), then eat oatmeal while reading the news, checking social media, and possibly creating a new blog post

8:30-9:00: wash dishes, prepare tomorrow’s backpack, brush my teeth, change clothes and brush hair, then clean my room quickly

9:00-9:30: walk to school, or take the bus if it is cold/rainy

9:30-11:30: lab time! I have a lab for human physiology, where we measure variables like heart rate, blood pressure, and maximal oxygen consumption. We always have lengthy lab write-ups for this course – my last report was 12 pages!

11:30-3:00: classes, including Statistics, Physiology, Biomechanics, Sociology of Physical Activity, English, and French. Not all in the same day, fortunately! I have my lunch in class, and always bring snacks to enjoy. Sometimes, I have to leave class early or show up late, because of mandatory co-op interviews at my school’s career centre.

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Lunch is asparagus-broccoli stir-fry on top of quinoa, with avocado and an oven-baked “falafel pancake”

3:15-4:15: volunteer at the university’s Well-Fit program, which is similar to personal training for patients undergoing cancer treatment. I teach exercises and spot participants as they perform various strengthening and stretching exercises.

4:15-5:30: study with friends at the Starbucks in my school’s health building, where most of my classes are. Sometimes, I study on my own.

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5:30-6:30: French tutorial, where we watch videos and practice conversations

6:30-7:00: study a little, check social media for the 400th time, and microwave my packaged dinner. Eat and be lazy.

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Messages with my sister…

7:00-7:30: take the bus for 7 minutes to the mall bus terminal, then walk for around 20 minutes from the terminal to Brass Butterflies, a pole and aerial studio that I am a member of.

7:30-8:30: Mixed Aerials class! I love this class because there are so many different apparatuses (hoop, trapeze, silks, hammock), and people of all levels. I practice the hoop or the silks, and I feel exhausted after the conditioning.

8:30-9:30: Flight & Flexy class! We stretch and do various exercises for strength and stability.

9:30-10:00: walk for 20ish minutes back to the bus terminal in the mall, then take the bus back home.

10:00-10:30: shower, throw on my pyjamas, make hot chocolate, unpack my backpack, get ready to study

10:30-11:45: study, do assignments/quizzes, or write lab report

11:45-12:00: brush my teeth, quickly prepare tomorrow’s backpack, and sleep!

6.5 hours of glorious sleep, and repeat!

Study Motivation: Finding Joy in Little Things

10 Ways to Find Happiness While Studying

  1. Great-smelling candles or lotions
  2. Notebooks (I just typed nootbokes?) that are cute, colourful, sleek, modern, or whatever YOUR aesthetic is.
  3. An open window
  4. Simple snacks like fruit, nut butter, and yogurt
  5. Finding the right time of day to study. I love mornings, but I might be in the minority with that one!
  6. An energetic study buddy
  7. Big, beautiful study tables or calendars
  8. Essential oils like peppermint or citrus for energy
  9. Plants or some kind of greenery
  10. Relaxing music in the background. I always turn to Celtic music.

Speaking of academics, my sister recently received a $750 award for writing a great essay. She attended a brunch and conference to receive the award.

Meanwhile, I made an enchilada casserole! This was made with green chili sauce, lots of onion and garlic, roasted sweet potato (the best part) and delicious yellow corn tortillas. Broccoli and salsa on the side.

Another day I made a random dinner with couscous, a fried egg, salad with honey mustard dressing and nutritional yeast, and fried garlic broccoli. So good.

Friday afternoon is my Princess Cafe day. On Friday, I had the most delicious panini filled with roasted sweet potato, Sriracha mayo, spinach, black bean salsa, and lots of gooey cheddar cheese. The multigrain bun was perfectly crispy and tasted incredible next to broccoli-potato soup.

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Busy week ahead – happy Monday, everyone!

Kill Your To-Do List in 10 Steps

Studyblr. It’s one of those things that I love, adore, and admire – but simultaneously hate like nothing else. Mostly because I’m jealous.

How beautiful are these study notes?

As I work on this post, a creamy “golden milk” turmeric latte in my hand, I can’t help but be excited for the next couple of weeks of this semester!

Anyways, I’m probably the only person fazed my inspirational study quotes and dazzling study notes. So this blog post is more of a reminder to myself, when I’m struggling with some tricky courses, that I. Can. Do. It.

10 Steps to Kill Your To-Do List

  1. Make a list. Can’t kill something you don’t have! Try to make ONE list. I have the tendency to be scatterbrained and want to do 4059 things at once, so it helps a lot to smash them all together into one ‘master list’ and check off items from there. It definitely looks more intimidating, but is way more effective for me.
  2. In the mornings, visualize yourself doing what you need to do. Imagine yourself, as vividly as you can, sorting through your laundry, working through that annoying chart from that annoying class, or finishing your dishes. In the mind, in the body!
  3. Set a timer. My roommate once introduced me to Pomodoro studying, where you set timers for 25-minute study segments and STOP when the timer goes off, take a break, and come back. It keeps me refreshed, and the only downside is not being able to get back to work. Regardless, having a timer makes me more productive. Likewise, countdowns can be great. Which leads me to…
  4. Write down all the dates. It also helps if you draw tiny bubbles with numbers inside to indicate how many weeks, months, or even days (!) you have left until a certain deadline/exam.
  5. Stay hydrated! How are you going to be energetic, bright, cheerful, enthusiastic, and productive when your throat is parched? It’s practically impossible. I need to give myself constant reminders to drink, drink, drink – instead of going for hours without water and then chugging my whole water bottle. Along the same lines, take deep breaths of fresh air to renew your mind and body.
  6. Get inspired. For me, that might mean a beautiful new notebook, fresh air from an open window, or sleek highlighters.
  7. Journal and track your progress.
  8. Reward yourself. For some reason, face masks and exfoliation are some things that I truly look forward to. Perhaps you could buy a new mug after that exam. Or have a relaxing day out with a friend after a productive week of studying. I’m all about the positive reinforcement for your hard work.
  9. Calendars, planners, tape, pens, and other stationery make studying a lot easier. You need the right materials to do what you’ve gotta do.
  10. Get to work! 😉

Too beautiful for words. If only my own study notes were this neat! They’re not.

What do you think? Do you like your notes to be written perfectly, with all kinds of calligraphic fonts, or do you prefer scrawling it down quick and easy?

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl Banana Muffins

I can’t believe that there are less than three days until Christmas. This semester seemed to fly by, and the holidays really snuck up on me.

I have a delicious muffin recipe to share with you guys today. It involves powdered peanut butter, chocolate and bananas, so we really can’t go wrong here. I know I shared a recipe just yesterday, but… chocolate.

Mmmm. These froze exceptionally well and made a perfect yogurt/oatmeal topping.

 Give it a try!
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl Banana Muffins
Serves: 9
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 medium bananas, ripe
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ cup milk (I used almond, but coconut, cows, or soy would work)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup spelt flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
  • 3 tablespoons PB2
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Line nine muffin tins with paper/foil liners, or grease a nonstick muffin tin. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mash bananas with a fork.
  4. Add oil, egg, milk, and vanilla. Whisk well.
  5. Add flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda and stir until just combined.
  6. Add oats and stir.
  7. Melt chocolate chips in microwave safe measuring cup for 30-45 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  8. Cool slightly, then add ½ of batter to measuring cup and stir until combined.
  9. Add PB2 to the remaining batter and mix well.
  10. Scoop 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of PB2 batter and 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of chocolate batter in a lined muffin tin.
  11. Swirl batters together with a toothpick.
  12. Repeat for remaining batter.
  13. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
178 calories, 19g sugar, 3.2g protein
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It’s been frosty recently! The roads have all been iced over.

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And a hot chocolate at Princess Cafe with my friend Lily! This was taken before our final exams ended.

And a potluck dinner enjoyed with fellow volunteers at school. Highlights include that incredible thyme sweet potato hash and great, creamy mac and cheese.

I even bought a new notebook a couple weeks ago, hoping it would motivate me to study.

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SO glad finals are over! Now I don’t need to serve my meals with a side of biochemistry or physiology.

Here’s that quinoa veggie casserole again. I always devour this!

Mmmmm. Perfectly comforting, satisfying, and warm in my belly.

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At home in BC, Mom made my brownie recipe! She said that the family devoured it. Wish I was there to have some. Mom’s baking always looks fantastic.

Relatable.

I found some old Nepal pictures on the Volunteering Solutions Instagram page. I lived in Nepal throughout the month of August and it was a spectacular experience. Blows my mind to think that, six months ago, I was one of those little flying paragliding dots.

Since we’re nearing the end of 2016, it’s almost time to buy a new planner! Planners are my love. I could search for ages for the perfect planner, and have plans to go to Staples this morning to check ’em out.

Hope y’all have the loveliest rest of the week!