Recent Eats and Things: Meatball Cookies?

Good morning!

Let’s start with pancakes! Everyone in the Wei family back in BC is crazy for Mom’s brown sugar pancakes. She always makes a massive batch when she has time, and they are so popular. Go Mom!

One morning I switched it up from the norm (oatmeal) to this tasty yogurt + crumbled oatmeal cookie + banana bowl, with a grilled pita stuffed with mashed banana, sunflower butter, and chocolate chips.

This was gooooood. What a memorable breakfast! Will be repeating soon.

This pad thai-style noodle dish was great with shrimp, bok toy, carrots, peppers, and cashews on top. I ran out of coconut milk, but this dish is wonderful even if you omit it. I used water instead to thin out the sauce.

Spicy Spinach Coconut Noodles

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 oz noodles
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (eg. Sriracha)
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat coconut milk, almond butter, lime juice, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce in a skillet over low heat.
  3. Simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until reduced.
  4. Add spinach. Cook for 2 minutes until tender.
  5. Add cooked noodles and half the cashews.
  6. Fold everything together and stir well to coat with sauce.
  7. Divide between two plates and top with remaining cashews. Serve with a little lime juice and soy sauce.

Cocoa-banana oatmeal, sunflower butter, raspberries and cashews.

Mmmm! Pumpkin oat cake with almond butter, granola, yogurt, cinnamon, and raspberries.

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Fried rice with edamame, bok choy, peppers, mushrooms, peas, and sesame seeds on top.

My granola addiction is severe! In fact, I am eating a big bowl right now (my second bowl!)

This interesting creation was born out of desperation! Sweet potato, pesto, and mushrooms on pita “pizza” with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top. This lunch was unintentionally vegan. It’s always nice to switch things up!

More amazing cocoa-banana oatmeal. This is one of my #1 breakfasts.

As you can see. 😉

More sweet potato! This time topped with dip and served with fried rice.

Leftover Thai green curry with broccoli, spinach, tofu, mushrooms, and quinoa. Cashews on top for texture.

More curry, more tofu, more quinoa. Quinoa is something I make once a week in a big batch to last me at least five-six days.

Creamy, beautiful banana oatmeal topped with granola.

More simple oatmeal, this time with blackberries as well 🙂

Spaghetti squash, chicken meatballs, spinach, asparagus, parmesan and a butternut tomato sauce.

Pumpkin oatmeal and some pumpkin applesauce cake on the side, with granola and chocolate chips. Dessert for breakfast 🙂

Here’s the recipe I used for the fat-free, super-moist pumpkin applesauce cake:

Pumpkin Applesauce Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 heaping cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9×5 bread pan with cooking spray.
  2. For the bread: Mix the dry ingredients (flour through salt) together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (eggs through vanilla) and combine well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  5. Pour into prepared bread pan and run a spoon over the top to smooth it out.
  6. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Deluxe dinner one night involved roasted potatoes, quinoa, and sautéed Thai vegetables with spicy salmon – which always breaks when I take it off the tray!

Can never go wrong with grilled peanut butter and banana, in my opinion.

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More pumpkin oatmeal, this time topped with a crumbly vegan cookie and blackberries.

Healthy Vegan Gluten-Free Breakfast Cookies
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • flax eggs (2 Tbsp (14 g) flax seed meal + 5 Tbsp (60 ml) water)
  • 1 medium to large ripe banana, mashed (~1/2 cup mashed)
  • 1/3 cup (82 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (128 g) almond butter or peanut butter (I mixed both 1/2 + 1/2)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (135 g) gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) almond meal (finely ground from raw almonds)
  • 1/2 cup (45 g) gluten free oat flour (finely ground from gluten free oats)
  • 3 Tbsp (25 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup (80 g)  raisins* (or other dried fruit), plus more for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
  2. In a large bowl combine flaxseed meal and water and let rest for 5 minutes to achieve “eggy” texture.
  3. Mash in the bananas until well combined, then add applesauce and whisk thoroughly to combine.
  4. Add peanut butter or almond butter, vanilla, melted coconut oil, maple syrup or agave nectar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and whisk thoroughly.
  5. Add oats, almond meal and oat flour and mix well until just combined. The batter will look a little wet and sticky – that’s good!
  6. Add walnuts and raisins and stir until just combined (see photo). Refrigerate batter for 5 minutes to harden and lightly grease a baking sheet (because there are 24 cookies, you’ll need to bake in two batches).
  7. Use a Tablespoon, small spoon, or cookie scoop to scoop batter onto your baking sheet, then press down slightly with your fingers to spread out a little. They won’t expand much, so you can put the cookies pretty close together. Top with a few more raisins (optional) and press gently to adhere.
  8. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden brown on the edges.
  9. Let rest on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. After completely cooled, store in an air-tight container to keep fresh for up to a few days. Will keep in the freezer up to 1 month.

Check these out…

I tried to make meatballs, realized I didn’t have breadcrumbs, and used rolled oats instead. They baked out kind of dome-like instead of spherical, hence the meatball cookie nickname. These were bland and not the best. 😦 Meat is hard to cook! Back to lentils and beans for me!

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C’est tout for today! It was such a short post, I know… but I do have some new recipes coming – including one for baked oatmeal and one for vegan coconut French toast. 🙂

It’s 7:54 now, and I have to finish cleaning my desk, packing my bag, and washing my dishes before I head out to meet some friends at school this morning.

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Happy Friday, everyone!

Oatmeal Extravaganza

Let’s look at oats today!

My Valentine’s Day started with this creative bowl: 1/2 a mashed banana cooked with three pureed beets, sunflower butter, chocolate chips (A LOT), shredded coconut, and cashews. I love decorating my oatmeal to be extra special on holidays. Do you remember my Halloween oatmeal?

Chocolate oatmeal made with mashed banana and topped with coconut, yogurt, cashews, and sunflower butter. There were some frozen cherries in here, too. This was meant to be just like a black forest cake. 🙂

I’m not quite sure if this was a failure or a success! I meant to make a bruleed banana oatmeal bake, but there were some technical problems. In other words, Stupid Cindy thought it would be a good idea to use the kettle AND the toaster oven… simultaneously. The power went out and my bake was only half-done, so I just broiled it until the sides were golden brown. Then, Stupid Cindy decided that she didn’t want to eat it inside the glass baking dish, and inverted it onto the plate instead. Being only half-done, half of the oats were still stuck to the dish! Oh well, smothered in crunchy peanut butter and hemp hearts, this was still 100% delicious.

This batch was so good that I made it two days in a row! Banana oatmeal with raspberries, cashews, hemp hearts, and a big blob of sunflower butter. That stuff is addictive and life-changing!

Get your hands on some sunflower butter, my friends! 🙂

More dark chocolate oatmeal with chopped cherries. Do you like adding frozen fruit to your oatmeal?

Plain oatmeal with almond butter and a bunch of fruit on top – raspberries and banana, with some hemp hearts. 🙂

Truly the best breakfast of all time.

Whew, that was a quick post! I’m going to quickly do my dishes and then try to get some work done – though we all know that means look at Buzzfeed, message my friends, FaceTime my mom and sister, and nibble on dessert. Hey, at least my textbook is open? 😉

Thank goodness for reading week!

Tell me in the comments below because I need want to know:

  1. What is a CRAZY oatmeal combination that you’ve done? I’ve done carrot (totally normal in the foodie world but elicits the weirdest expressions from most people, IMO), zucchini, spinach, cheese (all kinds!) and now, beets! How about you?
  2. Would you be interested in reading about what I’m doing in my classes? I am taking 6 courses + a lab, and was wondering if my friends on the blogosphere would be curious  about some of the things I’m learning and doing academically. 🙂
  3. Do you have reading week at school? What did/do/are you doing during reading week?

10 Ways Food Blogging Ruined My Life

 Welcome to my first post of 2016…
  • Becoming a foodie abolished my inability to realize that I will never be a perfect eater, exerciser, or writer. I’m never going to throw my hair into a perfect messy bun and complete a 5-mile run before dawn, then come home for an organic kale-goji-maca-spirulina (what even IS spirulina?) smoothie. I will never master the art of photography or write flawless blog posts. And that’s okay. It’s fine if I feel sore one day and skip a workout. It’s not a problem if I “accidentally” have two extra scoops of nut butter after my morning oatmeal (this happens regularly!). Food-blogging has helped me understand that the most I can do is my best, and that I should always shoot for the moon knowing that I will land among the stars if I miss.

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Quinoa tossed with roasted zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and white cheddar

 

  • It took away all of my laziness and lack of creativity – because I love playing with food. Honestly, oatmeal artwork seems like a pretty trivial and ridiculous hobby, but it’s so therapeutic. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of devouring a big bowl that’s been decorated in a way that makes you happy. I’ve mentioned this before, but a bowl of cooked rolled oats is essentially a blank canvas for any ingredient you wish: you can let your imagination run wild with oatmeal and do some very, very innovative designs on those oats.

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Green smoothie bowl made with one frozen banana, 2 tbsp peanut butter, almond milk, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, pinch of salt, some cinnamon, and lots of spinach – topped with berries and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It smashed my fear of travelling alone, or doing things by myself. Because food is the motivation for 99% of my adventures (no kidding here, I went to Paris solely for the croissants), I know that I will never get tired, afraid, or worried along the way. Food is always on my mind and inspires me to be brave and walk just a little further. The craziest thing I’ve ever done for food was probably ride the Metro for two hours in Quebec last summer, then walk for a good half hour just for the shredded duck and fig jam sandwich in Montreal. Totally worth it.

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Whole Foods hot bar buffet lunch: favourites included the chicken tomato stew, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, and mashed yams

 

  • Becoming a foodie took away any shyness and anxiety I had previously, towards interacting with people my age. Knowing about food and being able to talk about it made me a much more outgoing person. Now, when I meet new people, it’s so easy to strike up a conversation and keep it going, especially if one of us has food involved. I just have so, so much to say about food!

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with crumbled hazelnut chocolate muffin, blackberries, and sunflower butter with crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It vanquished my ability to criticize other people or judge them without knowing them. How can I point out other people’s weaknesses without first analyzing my own? Reading about the lives of other food bloggers has really opened my eyes about countless other factors in their lives: most of the time, it’s not all about food. I’ve learned so much about their underlying fears and problems, and I can relate to so many of them. Now, it’s hard for me to make a negative pre-assessment of someone without understanding their past or celebrating their strengths at the same time.

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Tea time at Aunt Mimi’s: Whole Foods cheesecake, Whole Foods apricot and blueberry coffee cake, with some dark roast coffee with brown sugar and whole milk

 

  • It completely destroyed any desire I had to be average, “okay”, or normal. Why should you be mediocre when you can be innovative? Inspiring?  Encouraging? Original? Food blogging, cooking and baking, and even talking about food have helped me discover my “voice” and passion for health.
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Get-together at family friend’s house: stir-fried vegetables with shrimp, eggs with radish, tofu, pan-fried fish

 

  • It shut down all my frustration and inability to cope with “uh-oh” situations. There isn’t much you can do when the beautifully-ripened avocado turns out to have mushy brown flesh, when you find bugs in your spinach, or when your sister accidentally gobbles up the famous Parisian macaron you were planning to enjoy. Now, I’m realizing these little things are really not the big deal I hyped them up to be at the time. These little things just aren’t worth stressing over.

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Get-together with Dad’s coworkers and their families: fruit, asparagus + scallops, eggs + leeks, stir-fried udon and vegetables, cantaloupe, and purple yam + taro tapioca soup with coconut milk for dessert

 

  • It screwed up any dread or anxiety I felt before addressing adults. Speaking to my elders has always been a forte, but I’ve refined this skill so much that I actually look forward to interviews and answering tricky questions. When I used to volunteer at the Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Coquitlam, it was terrifying to think that I had to spend several hours a week engaging in conversation with sick and injured people aged 70 and above, many with physical and cognitive disabilities. The challenging thing was knowing that I shouldn’t talk to them about clothing (they have to wear hospital gowns), their significant others (may or may not still be with them), their illness or injury (no one wants to talk about this!), or their hospital room (many of them were bitter about their rooms and roommates). Initially, I felt like there was absolutely nothing to chat about with these elderly patients – until I realized that most of them loved sharing stories about their hometowns and the food they enjoyed there. Sometimes, patients told me about their beloved recipes, childhood meals – which, gosh, are SO different from today’s salmon-and-quinoa dinner – cooking hacks, and more. One time, a lady called Maria from Greece described how she made tzatziki based on her grandmother’s recipe. The secrets include a pinch of white pepper and salting and wringing out the grated cucumber to prevent it from diluting the yogurt.

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Curry-yogurt chicken drumstick, quinoa with roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini // vegan pumpkin spice latte chocolate pudding cake with maple yogurt and crushed coconut cashews

 

  • It drained any chances I had of missing out on getting to know countless supportive and inspirational people, many of whom are dietitians-to-be or share my passion for food. The network of foodies, online and offline, is truly amazing. I wasn’t intending on naming some of them, but now I feel like sharing their wonderful blogs with you guys – please do check out some of my absolute favourite people on the Internet: the supportive and hilarious Stephanie from Mindful Eats and Treats, the sweet, down-to-earth domestic goddess Kate of The Domestikated Life, the sophisticated and talented photographer Jack of Jack’s Balancing Act, the crazy-creative and thoughtful Cassie at SuperFitBabe, and Cora of My Little Tablespoon, who is not only a brilliant writer, but also a recipe queen. You guys inspire me with each and every blog post, and I know that I will always be in store for a treat whenever you publish something new. Thank you for that.

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Carrot cake oatmeal with mashed banana, chia and flax, topped with crumbled banana almond muffin and sunflower butter

 

  • It destroyed my fear of food. Not much else needs to be said here.

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Tofu fried rice with vegetables // spinach and ricotta ravioli with roasted red pepper and parmesan

 

I know that there might be some negative habits and behaviours involved with being a healthy food blogger, but for the most part, they certainly don’t. In fact, the compassionate comments and words of encouragement far outweigh the dark side of being a foodie! Blogging about food and life has encouraged me to gradually mature into the well-rounded and accomplished adult I hope to become, armed with all the skills and assets I need to tackle personal and professional situations in the future.

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Whole wheat pita topped with sweet potato slices, spinach scrambled eggs, goat cheese, and sweet potato aioli // quinoa with butternut squash and tomato sauce, pine nuts, veggies

 

Cheers to the delicious life: a life filled with friendship, laughter, cake, cheese and chocolate.

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Classic Mom dinner: lotus root patties, taro and chicken stew, stir-fried vegetables with sesame

 

50 Things I Learned from my Roommate

What comes with a full heart and a full stomach?

An empty wallet.

Haha. That’s my idea of a joke – and yes, my jokes are always lame and fail to make any sense. But in my defense, it’s partially true! The first week of my winter break, back home in BC, has been nothing less than indulgent, relaxing, and full of laughter and fun moments with family and friends. But a constantly-exploding belly and lots of extra sleep are making me into one happy girl! I’ve done quite a few things on my winter to-do list already, which is satisfying. Well, I’ve done the exciting things. Not the boring ones.

How is your winter holiday so far? Have you done anything memorable with friends and family?

Before I move on to the epic compilation of things my roommate and her boyfriend taught me in the past four months, I wanted to tell you a teeny, kind-of-pointless story about what I did today.

My morning started with a spinach-banana-peanut butter-cocoa-date smoothie, a chickpea blondie, and a relaxing hot yoga class. Then, I met up with my good friends Jia (who my mom calls “Chia”) and Hollie. We’ve known each other for years and were thrilled to reunite and spend the afternoon together. Jia studies English in UBC’s arts program, and Hollie is in Science with a scholarship to SFU. We met up before noon and zipped downtown for some lunch, after a 15-minute walk down Vancouver’s sketchiest street.

The menu at Railtown Café is quite elaborate, at least in my opinion. 🙂 I had a massive internal debate about whether I should order the sandwich or the salad, but ended up with a build-your-own salad which you’ll see in a couple scrolls. Check out their menu and all those delectable salad combinations and sandwich ideas!

By the way, I took photos on my normal camera but was too lazy to upload them for the post, hence the not-so-nice photos below. I snapped these with my phone in a rush to dig in, but anyways, behold the iPhone photos.

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Lesson of the day: it’s a bad idea to order a big drink, a squash-based soup, and a salad topped with about 79 different things.

I had the roasted winter vegetable soup with pumpkin seeds on top, as well as a dark hot chocolate that tasted just like regular hot chocolate. It was a little powdery and grainy in the end, so I wouldn’t recommend the drink. My salad was so deluxe and I’ll write down some of the toppings below:

  • Arugula base
  • Sliced grilled chicken breast – was debating about getting the poached salmon, but their chicken looked really juicy and yummy 🙂
  • Sliced avocado
  • Beets
  • Roasted yams
  • Pesto chickpeas
  • Pesto mozzarella slices
  • Feta cheese
  • Squash chips (the BEST part!)
  • Toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette

Check out their menu for a ton of salad topping ideas: http://railtowncafe.ca/see-our-menu/

YUM. A lovely combination of freshness, saltiness, texture, acidity, richness, sweetness, and bitterness. I told my friends that I wanted to eat this salad every day for the rest of my life.

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For dessert, I ordered a peanut butter crunch bar and a chocolate-hazelnut muffin. Both were fantastic and we split them mostly 3 ways.

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The muffin was soft, very cinnamon-y, and had great flavor from the hazelnuts. The exterior was perfectly crisp and I would definitely order this tender, delicious muffin again. The peanut butter crunch bar had four distinct layers and was a truly amazing dessert. This peanut butter masterpiece was composed of:

  1. Chewy peanut butter cookie with real peanut chunks embedded throughout (bottom)
  2. Crispy chocolate layer, like a thinner, crispier Rice Crispy with no rice flavor
  3. Peanut butter custard that was not too sweet nor salty
  4. Chocolate ganache, most likely milk chocolate (top)

Peanut butter haters, this thing will convert you.

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We talked lots about our “new” lives in university, and Jia’s busy second year. I was also so happy to hear that my friends are secret readers of the blog 😉 We had some fun and memorable conversations, including this one:

Me: So I have a house-mate. We share a bathroom and kitchen but have our own rooms. She graduated and is now working in the area, so she’s a little older, a LOT more mature, and super nice.

Hollie: Oh yeah! I saw that on your blog.

Jia: She made a pumpkin pie! (she was referring to THIS pumpkin pie, that they made from scratch around Thanksgiving).

Hollie: You’re so lucky. That’s awesome.

And she is absolutely right. 🙂 Madhulika and her boyfriend Arsalan are wonderful and wise people with lots of tricks and tips and life hacks. Here we go!


One more thing before the ultimate list – check this out. My friend shared it on Facebook and I have to agree with quite a few of these points. What do you think?

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Anyways, here is the list:

  1. Drink water slowly. Take little sips as you work to increase absorption.
  2. Make a Linkedin account to network with people as soon as possible.
  3. Broil open-faced sandwiches for melty, bubbly cheese
  4. Spread peanut butter with a spoon and eat it on a napkin to save dishes.
  5. Eat baked salmon with a little pad of butter on top
  6. Paprika and cajun spices work with anything!
  7. Make a big lasagna and freeze individual-sized portions to reheat whenever you need a quick meal
  8. While you’re at it, don’t add too much tomato sauce, or it might overpower the pasta, cheese, and vegetables
  9. Adding some chicken broth to ground chicken makes it nice and saucy
  10. Ground chicken works as a perfect sub for ground beef, for a fraction of the fat and just as much flavour
  11. Goat cheese works with anything. Sandwiches, salads, lasagna – whatever it is, goat cheese can be crumbled on top for maximum deliciousness.
  12. Speaking of goat cheese, you can never have enough. Ever.
  13. Always check the weather before you go out – it can be a beautiful sunny day that’s freezing cold!
  14. Princess Cafe can, and absolutely should, be a weekly thing. Get the curried tuna. And the soup. And the bean salad.
  15. Turn off the lights to conserve energy if you aren’t using them
  16. If you realize you’re full in the middle of your meal, stop, wrap up the leftover food, and save it for another meal rather than stuffing yourself and feeling uncomfortable afterwards
  17. Don’t leave things lying around – watches, cameras, pencil boxes – keep them safe in your room: I’m SO bad with this and always leave little things on the counter
  18. Cutting and chopping veggies ahead of time will save time on busy weekdays
  19. Butternut squash soup is the most filling thing ever
  20. A pinch of cayenne adds zest to anything
  21. The bigger and sharper your knife, the more you’ll enjoy chopping veggies
  22. Marinate and bake chicken breast chunks in rose pasta sauce as a low-sugar substitute for barbecue sauce
  23. Morning showers are really refreshing!
  24. The vegetable water left over from cooking vegetables is actually delicious: carrots make it a little sweet!
  25. Potatoes take freaking forever. Plan ahead!
  26. Washing fluffy towels with your best pants is a bad idea. Lint overload!
  27. When adding spices to food, ALWAYS pour a little palmful of the spice into one palm and use fingers from the other hand to pinch and sprinkle. Then taste as you go!
  28. Check your freezer to make sure you aren’t forgetting about any food you stored in there previously 🙂
  29. Boil sweet potatoes before roasting them. You can check to see when they are ready by sticking a fork inside – if the potato chunk slides down by gravity, you’re ready to bake!
  30. Make a big batch of veggies, chicken, and rice for lots of meals. You’ll be thankful on busy afternoons!
  31. Roast all kinds of squash with the cut side down. That way, the flesh is enclosed and it will steam itself and cook faster
  32. Buy good-quality rainboots and use them for five years rather than picking up a cheaper but non-waterproof pair.
  33. Splurge on a good, high-quality blender.
  34. Don’t try to balance a mixing board on a cutting board – if it falls and knocks over a glass (not your own!) that’s gonna shatter on the ground… that’s bad. Trust me, I know this one from experience.
  35. Add something spicy to mac and cheese! Cayenne or jalapeños are cool… well, never mind, they’re actually hot. Put breadcrumbs on top and bake it.
  36. Speaking of mac and cheese, you don’t even need butter to make a roux. Just cook a mixture of flour and milk before adding cheddar!
  37. There are two types of pumpkins: carving pumpkins and pie pumpkins. The two types of pumpkins can both be used for pie. If you have a carving pumpkin, remember that it is more watery and will require extra cooking time (also, they’re massive).
  38. It’s so much more fun to work out with EARPHONES and music!
  39. If you deal with raw meat or fish, spray down the counter surface afterwards just to be safe.
  40. Make sandwiches on a paper towel so you don’t have to wash another plate
  41. Add coconut milk at the very end of cooking something because coconut flavour will disappear with too much heat. Basically, add some coconut milk when making curries, then add the majority of it at the very end.
  42. Cook spices with a little oil for more flavour
  43. Everything is good with butter, pecans, butternut, and garlic
  44. Wash your dishes while cooking, waiting for things to boil, etc. It makes time go by faster and saves dishwashing time and space afterwards!
  45. Winter boots are so important. Buy ones with good traction!
  46. Do not dump a bunch of pepper on your food.
  47. Wear oven mitts all the time. And don’t touch boiling hot casserole dishes that just emerged from the oven… ouch.
  48. Chicken Cordon Bleu can be made easy with a butter and flour roux mixed with ham, with cooked chicken, chopped pickles and Dijon mustard stirred in. With gruyere or harvarti cheese grated in, top this mixture on sliced baguette and sprinkle with more cheese before broiling. Voila – easy, mess-free, no-roll, easy to cook and eat cordon bleu. Fancy but simple!
  49. Dice your own tomatoes for pasta sauce, and mix them with garlic and caramelized onions, plus spices like thyme and oregano. You can also stir in some ricotta. This pasta sauce is so much better than canned.
  50. If you laugh while drinking tea, you’ll probably spill it on your lap and bedsheets, and make it look like you peed your pants!

Love these!

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I love cheesy things. Literal and figurative cheesy things.

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One more thing – I want to make this Asian noodle bowl and some vegan parmesan cheese. I know how random this is, but I stumbled upon them online and really want to give ’em both a try soon 🙂

That is it for today – I have an EARLY 6:00 AM hot yoga session tomorrow morning as well as a fun spin class, so I’m off to bed. Have a great evening!

Aroma Cafe: A Cozy Corner

Good morning beautiful people!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Much To Do – So Little Time

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 Hey everyone!

How are you? I am in the greatest mood ever right now (some chocolate would put me in a better mood, though…), because:
a) I finished my last of six exams two hours ago. What a relief! I am so grateful that all the finals are done. I feel like such a big weight is finally lifted off my shoulders, and hopefully the subconscious-stress pimples that popped up over the last two weeks are going to disappear soon.
b) I will see my family in 15 hours! Okay, 20 hours for me because of the 5-hour flight. But still! It’s been four months and way too long.
c) Christmas is in just four days. WHAT!? Plus, Vancouver might have a white Christmas this year.

My list of things to do this winter holiday is basically a mile long, and I have only 2 short weeks to complete them all! Or, at least, I’ll try Thankfully, most of the things on the list are fun things that I am truly looking forward to. I put this list together in October (thanks to Mom for the idea). Back then, there were only a couple things on it, but as the weeks went on, I started adding more and more things to it, and before I knew it, I had to split it up into multiple sections. Take a look!


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Delicious frittata made with four eggs, asparagus, sweet potato slices, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, spinach, and honey goat cheese

Life-Related Goals

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Quinoa mixed with asparagus, peas, roasted cauliflower, coconut curried tofu, and topped with crushed cashews


Health-Related Goals
  • Get a better sleep schedule: bed before 11:00 and wake up at 7:00
  • Do 10 classes of hot yoga over the two weeks
  • Exercise in the morning
  • Practice cirque yoga moves on the new ball
  • Walk Arnie twice a day with Mom

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Quinoa mixed with butternut tomato sauce, spinach, zucchini, red peppers, squash chunks, mushrooms, and baked with cheddar and goat cheese, topped with pine nuts – served with study notes all about the FITT Principle, which was on my Kin 104 exam!


Things to Eat and People to Meet

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Apple oatmeal (grated in and chunks on top) with pumpkin muffin and hemp hearts


Blog-Related Things
  • Finish publishing all old WordPress drafts, so I can start clean in 2016
  • Manage all WordPress subscriptions so I don’t receive spam from random bloggers, but rather from the ones I know (virtually) and love
  • Write blog FAQs page
  • Add to blog ‘About Me’ page
  • Update oatmeal page
  • Email K.C. about guest posting on her lovely blog
  • Contact K.Y. about a guest post?
  • Contact B.D. about blog and Youtube channel: possible collaboration?

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More yummy quinoa mixed with asparagus, peas, roasted cauliflower, coconut curried tofu, and topped with crushed cashews


Real, Important Things that I Need to Get Done
  • Figure out my fitness schedule for the new semester, and register for the classes I want to participate in: yoga or ballet?
  • Update resume
  • Make a Linkedin account
  • Email E.O. about Mission Nutrition peer education team to find out about the schedule
  • Email H.K. about doing research with her in the lab
  • Finish presentation about Mediterranean Diet and send it to H.K. and T.N.
  • Take a look at medical school requirements and make a list
  • Write a list of reasons why I want to be a doctor
  • Write new article for Young Scholar
  • Email Susan about hospital volunteer hours and switching to another shift after April
  • Email A.N. about blogging about yoga
  • Contact Clair Hills Retirement Home about volunteering there in 2016
  • Fill out Global Experience Certification submission form and submit
  • Make a scrapbook for my summer in Paris with Seline using Mixtape or Artcow
  • Make plans for the summer: volunteer trip with Projects Abroad?
  • Apply for a yoga certification scholarship
  • Make some artwork (drawings or things to sell) for Balding for Cancer, for C.M.

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Lunch at Princess Cafe: curried cauliflower soup with a turkey and goat cheese sandwich with sundried tomato pesto, spinach, garlic aioli


 

BC Shopping List

  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4x dark chocolate bar (need for 4 recipes)
  • Coconut sugar
  • Applesauce
  • Peppermint extract
  • Almond meal
  • Coconut milk in a can
  • Raw almonds
  • Raw cashews
  • Raw walnuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Healthy graham crackers
  • 2x firm silken tofu (12 oz)
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • Dry brown (green) lentils
  • Celery
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne
  • Butternut squash (large, about 1.5 pounds)
  • Breadcrumbs (need for two recipes)
  • Fresh dill
  • Cavatappi pasta
  • 3/4 cup asiago cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese: mozzarella, parmesan, smoked provolone
  • Goat cheese
  • Cauliflower

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with peanut butter, chocolate chips, cashews, hemp hearts // whipped banana oatmeal with banana slices, yogurt, cashews, blackberries, hemp hearts


Back in BC, Mom made a big hot pot one night. Have you tried hotpot before? Do you like it?

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My doggie is always sleepy. I can’t wait to walk Arnie again!

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Seline and the homestay students played monopoly one evening, enjoyed a big roast beef with broccoli, and Mom baked brownies from a mix.

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Seline got her wisdom teeth out a couple days ago and is recovering beautifully. 🙂 That makes me happy as a clam!

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Speaking of brownies, I made these babies AGAIN! Honestly, my roomie and I just cannot get enough.

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I cut one square into 9 pieces and the other into 16.

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I enjoyed two fresh out of the oven (second one unpictured) with peanut butter and Greek yogurt. And as I type this right now, I’m eating another one. I think I’ve been having two of these per day since I discovered the recipe on one of my favourite blogs!

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Another morning I made Steph’s white chocolate blueberry pancakes, minus the white chocolate and topped with kiwi and chopped cashews. This was quite delish drizzled with maple syrup!

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One night I cooked up some fried rice with crispy tofu, plus some roasted sweet potato with aioli drizzle. It was such a dark day!

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See the tray of sweet potato? I ate the entire tray in this one meal, along with all that fried rice. Whoa. I guess I needed all that to power my brain through a long study session? 😛 I know, I’m totally justifying…

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Butternut squash soup and pita with apple, cheddar, goat cheese, and a drizzle of honey. I was so pleased with how this totally-random lunch turned out!

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Quinoa mixed with butternut squash tomato sauce and vegetables, topped with cheese and baked until delicious. This was so, so good and I will be repeating! My broccoli here was quite strange – it was spongy! The flavour was top-notch with garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, but the stalks had the weirdest texture, like there were air bubbles inside. Didn’t taste like broccoli at all – more like a funny eggplant. Has this ever happened to you?

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On Saturday afternoon, I met up with my Altitude mentor. We enjoyed lunch at the Yeti Cafe in downtown Kitchener.

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They sell all different kinds of bread and bagels. The circular wall decorations are actually slices of a log that have been painted and glitter-fied. The man and woman in line in front of me actually bought a couple of these colourful log slices! I wonder how much they cost.

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I started with something hot because it was snowing outside and -7 degrees. After I noted that I wasn’t a coffee drinker, my mentor Rezi recommended the London Fog latte, which I ordered because I love Earl Grey tea. Rezi used to be a barista and told me that she enjoys suggesting drinks to people based on their preferences. What an awesome recommendation – this was made with real vanilla beans and was served steaming hot, with just the right balance between tea and milk. I loved it and will definitely try making a London Fog at home: all you need is an Earl Grey tea bag, some almond or coconut milk, some sugar (maybe honey would work?) and vanilla extract. Mmmm, perfect for warming up on a cold winter day. Do you drink tea? What is your favourite kind of tea? Have you ever tried a tea latte?

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My sandwich was the Smokie: grilled halloumi with homemade smoked applesauce, caramelized onions, and greens in a big, fluffy, Portuguese-style bun! This sandwich was so filling. I gave up on the top bun halfway through but finished the rest – the halloumi was salty, smoky, and so delicious. The last time (also the first time) I had halloumi was at Nuba restaurant in Vancouver, when I had dinner with Rachel. One day, I’m going to buy some halloumi and make it into a quinoa salad topper or the star of a homemade grilled sandwich. Have you tried halloumi before?

Meanwhile, we discussed everything from the MCATs to her experience working and travelling around the world, her odd hospital shifts, and possible careers in medicine that don’t require 10+ years of school. It was a fantastic conversation and I can’t wait to meet with Rezi again in February.

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The Yeti also makes a whole bunch of desserts, and it sure took a lot of will power not to order one of each. The butter tarts actually look identical to the ones at Princess Cafe and I’m sure they get them in bulk from the same provider. These cinnamon croissant cake sticky bun swirly things with cream cheese glaze were calling my name, but I managed to ignore them. Until next time, cinnamon rolls!

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Here is their menu, if you are curious! Next time, I want to try their collard wrap. I was initially debating between the collard wrap (sweet potato, scrambled egg, turkey, kale slaw, greens, aioli) and the Smokie, but both guys at the counter declared that the Smokie was their recommendation, and I’m glad I ordered it. Someone in a table across from us decided on the collard wrap, and it was a monster the size of my head! I have no idea where they got leaves that big and how much they managed to jam in there.

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Cool! And that is it for today. I’m off to wash some dishes, Swiffer my floor (why sweep when you can Swiffer, right? Wise words from the Queen of Laziness AKA me), and then whip up some overnight oatmeal. My flight is at 9:00 AM tomorrow, so my ride is coming at 5:55 AM to pick me up. I’m sure the overnight oats will fill me up, but if no, I’ve also got a pumpkin muffin defrosting. 🙂 So excited to scrape all the little bits of PB out of the jar… on the plane. I wonder how many strange looks I’ll get! Have you ever had strange, or different, food in the public?

Since I’ve been out of yogurt since Tuesday – whoa, how did I manage a week without yogurt? – I’m going to make Oh She Glows’s vegan overnight oatmeal recipe. I made some adjustments based on the ingredients that I have and decreased the amount of oatmeal because I only have 1/3 cup left. 😦

Overnight Oatmeal

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 scant tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scant tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 scant tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
  • peanut butter jar that is almost empty
  1. In a small bowl, mash the banana until almost smooth. Now stir in the chia seeds and cinnamon until combined.
  2. Stir in the oats, almond milk, and vanilla (if using). Cover and refrigerate overnight, or a minimum of 2 hours.
  3. In the morning, stir the oat mixture to combine. If your Vegan Overnight Oats have a runny consistency even after they soak, simply stir in an additional 1 tablespoon chia seeds and place the mixture back in the fridge until it has thickened up. If the oat mixture is too thick, simply add a splash of milk and stir to combine.

And will let you know how it tastes soon! Have a beautiful, lovely Tuesday and I can’t wait to update you all with my exciting two weeks in BC. 🙂