Chocolate Day + Scarborough Tour!

My flight back to BC is already booked for December 16th! I can’t wait.

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That being said, I absolutely l-o-v-e it here.

This is my new bedroom. It’s more spacious than I’d expected, and I love all the shelves. These photos were taken on my first night, but now everything is cleaned up and sorted out.

My kitchen looking simple. Not bad for a basement suite!

House!

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On my first night in Scarborough, I had dinner at Fratelli Pizzeria, where I enjoyed the most delicious ravioli I’ve ever had in my life. Portobello mushroom ravioli with rapini and gorgonzola cream sauce, to be exact. Dessert was a homemade tiramisu, which was much larger than it appears in this martini cup.

After this mouthwatering meal, I’ve had to resist the urge to walk to Fratelli (it’s a 15-minute walk from my house) every night. I can’t wait to try their oven-fired pizzas.

Dad and Mom on the left, and my landlord and myself on the right. I locked myself out of my room by closing the door too hard, and she had to come rescue me.

This is my office at Centennial College, where I’m working as an Anatomy and Physiology Tutor.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon in downtown Toronto (about 40-minute drive or 1 hour + 10-minute bus/subway). I had a snack of spinach and feta borek, which is like a phyllo pastry, and my #1 favourite London Fog – both at Moonbean Café in Kensington Market.

This is my favourite London Fog. Ever.

On Sunday night, I heated up some store-bought cabbage roll and boiled some broccoli, which I then sauteed with salt and pepper. The cabbage roll was really tasty! The meal was followed up with a great dessert that I also purchased from Pusateri’s.

Frittata ❤ With fresh zucchini. Surprisingly, I made this in the rice cooker!

This is my “usual breakfast” – pumpkin puree stirred into oatmeal, with nut butter, chopped prunes, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon. It tastes like fall to me.

Today was National Chocolate Day! This morning, I stirred in 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and added extra honey. This bowl was extra decadent and incredible, especially with that salty sunflower butter.

My new backyard looks like a campground.

On my walk to work. Isn’t this beautiful?

My office again. 🙂

Notes and things:

Plus there’s a Farmer’s Market! I bought curried butternut squash soup, Thai green curry paste, three scones, a zucchini, and a quiche. Can’t wait to feast tonight ❤

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Budgeting FAQs

Good Sunday morning, everyone! How has your week been? We’ve had the sunniest weather ever here in Waterloo, and it was 30 degrees yesterday evening when I walked home from school. Yay for summer!

Today I am going to share a couple of budgeting tips with you. I wrote these tips back in April, for a lady called Ms. Cornell, a journalist writing for the Star, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail. She contacted me during finals season and I was more than happy to procrastinate and answer some of her questions. My budgeting mistakes and tips are possibly on Toronto Star’s Colleges and Universities supplement at the moment, but I wanted to post ’em on the blog nonetheless!

Canadian money

Did you struggle in budgeting?
I was lucky in that I didn’t struggle too much with budgeting. My parents are quite understanding, and in my family, we never had strict rules about exactly how much to spend. My parents always encourage “mindful” spending, which means I can buy whatever I need and will put to good use. I always think carefully before purchasing the essentials and usually reach for the discounted items or no-name brands. Also, I love the dollar store for things like scissors, boxes, and organizers!
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Did you live in residence?
I didn’t live in residence. I knew at the start that I wanted a kitchen, and I wasn’t very fond of the idea that I would have to share a bathroom with an entire floor of boys and girls if I lived on residence. There are some residences on campus that do have kitchens, but my odds of scoring one of those were basically zero because I didn’t have anyone to sign up with! Instead, my mom helped me find a nice apartment just ten minutes from the school. Now that it’s beautiful outside, I can walk to school in less than 15 minutes!
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Did you have a meal plan?
I don’t have a meal plan, but many of my friends do, and find it quite frustrating because they underestimated the number of meals they’d be enjoying off-campus. Campus food is ridiculously overpriced – $1.50 per banana? Nope! At the food court in the student hub, it costs around $18 for an average lunch: a drink, a fruit cup, and a chicken pita wrap. Definitely not worth it, in my opinion.
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Did you find that adequate, or did you find yourself spending too much money on extras? What kind of extras?
Because I don’t have a meal plan and live off-campus, I do spend quite a bit on groceries  and other essentials. I purchase groceries once a week, which usually costs me $40 to $80. Huge range, I know!
Laundry costs $7 a week for washing and drying, since I usually do two loads – one for clothes and one for towels. Every week or so, I also see my physics tutor who charges $20/hour. I treat myself to special lunches in local cafés once a week, which costs around $15 a meal. As for the extras, I occasionally splurge on tea lattes, notebooks and binders, or clothes/shoes if I truly need them.
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What was the result (ie. had you run out of money by mid-year or month?)
Fortunately, I don’t have that problem! I tend to buy only things that I NEED and will definitely USE, rather than pretty things or things that I think will come in handy.
Do you have a weakness for chai lattes, or anything else that is a regular budget item for you?
I actually had an obsession with London Fog lattes, and I would purchase them once or twice a week from the local coffee shop. Then I discovered a milk frother for discount at Teavana, which I purchased instantly. Now, I make all kinds of homemade, healthier tea lattes in the morning for a fraction of the price!
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Was it an adjustment to live on a set budget? How did it differ from the way you lived when in your parents’ home?
For me, the only difference in living alone was that there are no voices telling me to buy something – or not to buy something! With my parents, I would always have recommendations and thoughtful suggestions, so I’m learning to make rational decisions about purchases without them.
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Can you tell me a story about your biggest budget issue and how you resolved it?
Before the harsh Waterloo winter hit, I spent $250 on a super warm, long, fuzzy winter coat and another $200 on high-quality winter boots. On the same day, I purchased around $80s worth of groceries, and my debit card was rejected by grocery store! It was a little embarrassing, with the entire line watching me frantically punch in my PIN number multiple times before realizing that my debit card would only allow $500 to be spent each day. I asked to sprint to the bank, but of course, it had closed five minutes ago. Since I didn’t have any cash on me (silly mistake!), I had to sheepishly put away my yogurt, squash, and some other non-essentials so that I could swipe the last $50 on my debit card. Lesson learned: plan what you are going to buy before buying it, know how much it will cost, and make sure it doesn’t exceed your budget – literally.
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What tips would you have for other students in terms of budgeting?
  1. Record finances on your phone. Every dollar you spend – make a note of it. I use the “Notes” app on my iPhone to keep track of how much I am spending, then make a monthly total. It really helps to see how much I’ve spent recently, where I can save a little more, and “when” I am doing the most spending (eg. weekends vs. weekdays).
  2. If you need it, buy it. If you don’t, don’t. If you aren’t sure, don’t buy it. If it’s still on your mind after a couple of days, buy it!
  3. I always go for cheap-o household materials like cloths, sponges, swiffer sheets, etc., because they get dirty, worn, and need to be thrown out anyways!
  4. Forgive yourself – being a student is tricky enough, and you are doing a great job balancing it all!
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Thanks for reading!
Tell me in the comments below:
  1. Do you have a budget? How do you keep track of how much you are spending?
  2. Have you ever had budget problems?
  3. What is your #1 tip for saving money?

The Cheapest Thing I’ve Ever Made

Good evening, friends! I’m not feeling the best right now. You know the post-dinner end-of-the-week slump where you just want to eat ten scoops of peanut butter and then lie down and sleep for 12 hours?

That’s me right now.

Pancakes one morning! Pics coming up.

Thick and Hearty Paleo Banana Pancakes

Serves 1: makes 2 pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 small overripe banana, or half large
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp. almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. coconut flour
  • coconut oil for frying
  • desired toppings
Instructions
  1. Mash banana. Add egg, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Whisk well.
  2. Add almond flour and coconut flour, whisking until combined.
  3. Heat coconut oil over medium-low heat and fry two pancakes. When golden brown, flip and cook the other side. If the pancakes get too brown, lower the heat.
  4. Serve immediately with toppings, and enjoy!

Brown sugar and soy sauce salmon with a rice vinegar marinade. Turned out quite tasty over leftover fried rice.

This breakfast was SO filling! Oats topped with two chopped kiwis, a square of banana bread, yogurt, and granola. Whew.

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PEANUT STEW! This was the cheapest thing EVER. Spinach, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, rice. Does it get any more inexpensive than that?! Also, it was freaking delicious. It was so good that I made two batches in a week, each batch serving three.

In other words, I ate this exact same peanut stew six times in seven days. The toasted peanuts on top are perfection.

Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
SERVES: 3
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • Brown Rice to serve
  • Peanuts, lightly toasted
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot. Add onions and saute for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onions are fragrant. Stir in garlic and ginger, continuing to cook for two more minutes.
  2. Stir in pepper, salt, cayenne, and cumin. Start on the low end of the cayenne pepper and add more only if you want it spicier. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes until spices are fragrant.
  3. Next add in sweet potatoes, carrots, veggie broth, and honey. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer over low heat. Stir in peanut butter and let stew cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, stir in spinach and continue to cook until spinach has wilted. Serve with over brown rice if desired and top with toasted peanuts.

Mac and cheese was devoured. This vegan mac and cheese (which I topped with real dairy cheddar… I know) was made with kabocha squash! Ahhhh-mazing.

Last week I shared some cinnamon bun muffins with you guys! Here is the recipe, copied and pasted from a paleo recipe site. Hence the links to all the ingredients below.

Cinnamon Bun Muffins
Serves: 9 muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. To make the muffins, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl
  2. In a large bowl blend together oil, agave, eggs, and vanilla
  3. Blend dry ingredients into wet and scoop a scant ¼ cup at a time into lined muffin cups
  4. To make cinnamon topping, combine agave, cinnamon, and oil in a small bowl
  5. Spoon topping onto muffins
  6. Bake muffins for 8-12 minutes at 350°.

Another day, another dessert…

Strawberry Banana Crumble

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • handful berries
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 110 mL quick oats (7.5 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice bananas into a bowl. Toss with berries.
  3. Place fruit in baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tsp maple syrup. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Make crumble layer by mixing remaining ingredients (including remaining 2 tsp maple syrup), except coconut oil and cinnamon.
  5. Melt coconut oil in the microwave, then add cinnamon and pour into bowl. Mix all ingredients together.
  6. Once fruit has cooked for 10 minutes, remove baking dish from oven. Spread crumble layer on top. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown.

And mac and cheese, of course.

Vegan squash sauce is irresistible, but you can take it up a notch with extra veggies, caramelized onions, and yup, broiled cheddar on top.

So good.

Quesadilla with avocado, egg, salsa, and cheddar. Classic and so delicious.

This sweet potato and ricotta tart filled with chopped spinach turned out okay.

It looked beautiful, but I think something was missing in terms of flavour. I might add goat cheese, scallions, and mushrooms next time.

Sometimes, messy food can be the most delicious. I probably had egg yolk on every single finger after devouring this tasty sandwich!

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Pancakes were also enjoyed a second time. New recipe!

Oatmeal Ricotta Pancakes

Makes 3 pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 tsp ground flax
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. ricotta cheese
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Cover, let batter rest overnight in the fridge to soften oats.
  2. Heat nonstick pan over medium-low heat and cook 3 pancakes. Flip when golden-brown and cook opposite side.
  3. Enjoy with Greek yogurt and other desired toppings. I like berries and maple syrup!

That’s it for today, everyone! Make sure you check out some of my brand-new PAGES: Acro Yoga, Aerial Silks, and Yoga Photo Journal. 🙂 I will update them regularly!

Have an awesome weekend.

PS: did you know that if you click furiously on the words under the TAG section, you can add as many tags as you want?! Now I have 239408 tags for this post…

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! 😀

The Final Stretch!

Did you get the pun? I told Seline about it and she thought it was the most idiotic thing.  But I think it makes sense!

  • Final stretch = the last part of a long or difficult activity
  • Finals = 7 exams in 10 days happening now… wonderful
  • Stretch = yoga stuff!

Speaking of yoga, I didn’t go to yoga teacher training on Sunday. The Saturday session was a bit of a blur because of how “out-of-it” I was, so I thought it would be a good idea to take a [study] break on the Sunday. Isn’t it so great when people understand the #studentstruggle?

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The last couple of days, I’ve been taking my mat out to this lovely, private spot outside (AKA back of the parking lot) for short morning practices after having tea. It’s just too beautiful out.

My favourite yoga flow is the classic “vinyasa“, going from down dogs to chaturangas to upward-facing dogs. Yesterday, a guy came to mow the lawn behind the parking lot so I had to pack up my mat after just 5 minutes 😦

The day before that was a beautiful Sunday, so I had a little more time to experiment with new (to me!) poses like the wheel pose.

Still working on straightening my arms in the crow pose. 😦

Sunday was a blur of studying. I had three Kin exams on Thursday and Friday, and a Psychology exam on Saturday night. Needless to say, Sunday was full of cramming for Monday morning’s physiology final! My school’s Applied Health Sciences lounge has countless study resources from whiteboards to skeletons to an exam bank where you can take a look at former tests.

We studied from 10:30 to 3:30, then I had lunch at 4:00 (which is very unlike me, but it’s exam season – what can you do?) and we regrouped at 5:30 to study until 8:30. I had a late dinner, and then an early bedtime so I could have a fresh mind on the exam 🙂

Also, I have no idea how and why my writing can become so tilted when writing on a whiteboard. Everything written perfectly horizontal here? Definitely written by Eddy, not me!

After the Physiology exam, it was time for a de-stressor! A group of friends and I took a scenic walk around Waterloo Park where we got to see deer and a miniature waterfall. Waterloo Park may not be as calendar-picturesque as the Sunshine Coast, but it does have its charm 🙂

The walk to Uptown Waterloo from campus took only 25 minutes. We went to The Works for burgers. The atmosphere here was very casual, friendly, and great for a group gathering.

  • Left to right: Emily, Alex, Jackie, Mary, Emily, me, Ijay
  • Unpictured but supposed-to-be-here: Travis, Shatrice (feel better, girl!), and Athena

These people are so fun to be around – we discussed everything from religion to the internet (and it’s many uses 😉 ) to music. It’s amazing when a group of people can get together and state their opinions, defend them, and express their questions + concerns about the opinions of others.

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Measuring cup cups? Creative – I like it!

We all ordered different burgers. The Works is great in that you can choose from one of NINE patties, one of 8-ish sides, any bun you’d like, and a couple of toppings from a list of a billion.

One funny thing: they sell a TRUDEAU burger, which is, according to the menu:

A good-looking burger new to the menu and comes topped with peppers, POUTINE, and a side of weed…s (Cindy note: this is a side salad!). Are you ready for it? Make us an offer!

My burger was topped with Beechhouse sauce (garlic mayo with vegetables), peppers, avocado, and harvarti cheese. I asked for my multigrain bun on the side and had salad with it. My turkey burger was surprisingly VERY moist and incredibly filling. Still, I have to admit that I am just not a big meat/burger person!

And… more food. The day after burgers, we had to celebrate again by going out for Italian! 271west is an Italian restaurant in downtown Kitchener with excellent reviews, a lovely atmosphere, and great service! Plus, wait till you see the food 😀

  • Left to right: Eddy, me, Mary, Hannah

I actually love this pic! We all look so happy now that we’re [finally!!] about to eat.

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Eddy and Mary ordered the same thing, chicken and grilled shrimp linguine: grilled jumbo shrimp and chicken breast with garlic, tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms in a basil tomato sauce.

PS: no idea who took this photo (Eddy? Mary?) but it’s GREAT! Thanks!

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Hannah raved about the 271west vegetarian spaghetti, which came with fresh broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms and onions served in your choice of tomato or cream sauce.

Also, Hannah, if you’re reading this, your photography skills are top-notch 🙂

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I dove into a big plate of ricotta gnocchi, with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and cambazola cream sauce; this is a house speciality. I cannot get over how delicious this was! The garlic bread was wonderfully bready and satisfying, the pasta cooked flawlessly, and the toppings just right. The mushrooms were cooked really nicely, and the sauce was truly special. I love the fluffy, comforting, cloud-like texture of gnocchi. I thought I was going to be able to finish it, but it was surprisingly filling! I devoured around half of it before getting full. Hannah and Mary helped by eating two gnocchis each before I needed Eddy’s help to finish the rest. Thanks guys!

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While waiting for dessert, we experimented with “natural” shots on my camera, all of which turned out pretty awkward but will be posted anyways…

Dessert came, and for ONCE, I was too excited to dig in before taking pictures. Hannah and Mary shared a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. Eddy ordered one of those as well, and I enjoyed a fruity cheesecake. The two of us went half-half so we could try a bit of each – they were all AMAZING! Still kind of drooling about it right now. Especially that brownie. And the ice cream… and the cheesecake. Basically everything.

  • signature cheesecake: slow baked with fresh fruit
  • boca negra: flourless chocolate cake with a raspberry compote

Also,check these out! I love that marbled one – reminds me of chocolate marble bread!

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Yesterday my blog post was shared by UWaterloo Life on Twitter, which made me feel super honoured. If you didn’t get to see the post, check it out here!

https://cookiesnchem.com/2016/04/11/eating-well-during-exams/

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I can’t believe my first year is basically… done. I say this in practically every other post, but the days are looonnnnng but the months are just too fast. I’m going to miss this whole group of anatomy nerds. 😦

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Have a beautiful rest of the week, everyone!

You Know You’re Lazy When…

You Know You’re Lazy When you are too lazy to take your camera off the shelf so you take pictures with your iPhone for a week. Seriously.

#foodbloggerfailure #embarrassment #worstbloggeraward #dontknowhowtousehashtags

Hey, at least I can make decent pancakes? These were made with almond flour, eggs, and applesauce. You can check out the awesome grain-free single-serving recipe here.

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Uptown Waterloo on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

And a new bag that I got for FREE with a $150 purchase at Bench! I needed a light-yet-warm spring jacket, so getting this sweet versatile travel bag was a double win. What should I use it for?

Also I have no idea why I wanted to show you this picture. Just a regular ‘ole lecture. Just a couple more to go until finals!

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Recently, Mom made some pretty awesome meals. I always feel like her meals are restaurant-quality and do miss living at home so I didn’t have to worry about washing dishes cooking delicious and nutritious food for myself. Her roasted sweet potatoes looked so tasty and inspired me to make my own, which you’ll see in just a bit.

And can we all take a moment to admire that tablecloth? Thank you, Value Village 😉

Mom’s sweet potatoes looked so tasty that I made my own one day! This plate was a layered plate of goodness. The base was made of quinoa cooked in chicken broth, and that was topped with roasted cayenne + cinnamon sweet potatoes, curried cauliflower with peas and spinach, then pan-fried shrimp. Tasty!

Baked banana oatmeal made an appearance! I tried a new recipe this time, using leftover coconut milk and topping 1/2 the batch with frozen and microwaved blueberries, maple syrup, and a thick and delicious mixture of SunButter and Icelandic-style yogurt. Cashews on top for extra texture!

If you’re a baked oatmeal lover like me, this recipe will be right up your alley. Try it out!

Banana Coconut Baked Oats

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (can scale back to 1 tsp)
  • 1/8 heaping tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 heaping tsp salt
  • 1 heaping tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 133 mL coconut milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the inside of a 2-3 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and shredded coconut until evenly combined. Add the coconut milk and whisk until smooth again. Add the rolled oats and stir with a spoon until combined.
  3. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to eat. Pairs well with cold milk poured over top.

Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes walking in -10C weather to go to Goodlife Fitness for a morning hot yoga session. Unfortunately, since it was Good Friday and I assume everyone wanted a nice morning relaxation session, all the passes were gone by the time I arrived. The studio had reached its capacity of 50 people – 15 minutes before the session started! Needless to say, I was disappointed but walked back home and did some… kitchen yoga.

My ears were still defrosting in this picture because 40 minutes of walking in the wind is pretty painful. 😦

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Seline (my lazy + crazy 16 year-old McNugget-addict sister, if you’re a new reader) and I have been FaceTiming like CRAZY! We probably talk to each other for 5+ hours a day now that she is on her spring break. It seems like we just have so much to talk about recently! Most of the time that we are talking involves her teasing me, me scoffing at her, all while I do the dishes and she lies in bed. And we’ve been reliving memories of Paris so much recently. More on that in a bit…

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Once, I made enchiladas! I used white corn tortillas and a green tomatillo sauce. These were filled with black beans, butternut squash, corn, mushrooms, and yellow pepper. With loads of cheddar cheese! This was so, so yummy and I will be repeating! I also ate way more than what you see on the plate, despite how filling each enchilada was. 🙂 The entire casserole dish was devoured in 3 meals.

Last night, I did a biology quiz. I made so many mind maps, labelled diagrams, and detailed explanations of cellular processes before the online quiz and was really disappointed to answer 4 questions incorrectly. We had 15 minutes for 20 questions, and I ended up with less than 75%. 😦 Oh well, there are a couple more quizzes to come!

Day 2 of that amazing baked banana oatmeal, this time topped with some simple almond butter and served with maple cream tea.

Another day, I came home to make roasted mini potatoes, spicy salmon, and garlic green beans. This was so delicious and pretty classic!

Chocolate oatmeal has my heart forever and ever. The topping was a chocolate-almond coconut muffin that I made, which turned out well but a little too crumbly (hence the oatmeal-topping).

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One day after yoga, I was feeling so yoga-ish that I laid my mat out in the living room for more yoga! I am so proud of the forward fold picture. Just 6-ish months ago, my fingertips wouldn’t even touch the ground. Changes in your body aren’t visible on a day-to-day basis (I wish!), but the long-term changes are so evident. I am working on my eight-angle pose (bottom right) which is quite tricky and involves lots of arm strength that I don’t have. 😛 Regardless, yoga is about the journey, not the destination.

Okay. Guys. This is going to sound like the stupidest stupid thing ever, but Seline and I are obsessed with a new thing. And I have to tell you all about it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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It’s called Miraculous, and it’s a French-Japanese-American animated TV show that unites action with romance, friendship, suspense, magic, COMEDY, and unique superheroes. The story takes place in beautiful, modern Paris.

The clumsy yet kindhearted 15 year-old Marinette has a crush on a cute boy in her class, Adrien, who is a shy and reserved supermodel for his father’s fashion line (hey, it’s Paris!). When the evil villain Hawkmoth, “Le Papillon” in French, controls the minds of innocent Parisians to do wicked things, Marinette becomes her alter-ego, the agile and confident super heroine Ladybug, who has the power of luck. Her superhero partner is the cunning and charismatic (and overwhelmingly flirty) Chat Noir, who happens to be her crush Adrien. The crazy part? Chat Noir (AKA Adrien) has a crush on Ladybug (Marinette) – but they don’t know each other’s true identities! And it’s so much more intense than that. Adrien’s mom disappeared years ago. His father won’t let Adrien see his friends. And there are three other magical stones that have yet to be claimed… It’s just beautifully created, so cute, freaking hilarious, and super sweet.

Plus the puns. Puns 24/7. Every 1 in 5 sentences has a pun in it. And THAT LOVE SQUARE. It’s all about that love square. And at one point, one other girl got involved – love pentagon. Whoa.

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And did I mention that the entire show is in French (I’m trying to watch it without English subs to improve my French!) and the animation is some of the most amazing animation I’ve ever seen in my life?

  • Me ever since a friend told me about this show: (♥‿♥)
  • Me right now: (♥‿♥)
  • Me at 2:00 AM tonight while FaceTiming Seline AKA HawkDaddy: (♥‿♥)

Okay, I’m done. Back to the food.

Potatoes (and salmon) were repeated here in a big stir-fry. Wow, I really can’t get worse than using iPhone photos and not editing or rotating them.

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Madhulika, the world’s best roommate who makes a killer pumpkin pie, and I are so obsessed with lattes. I found a milk frother (no, autocorrect, NOT brother) from Teavana that was 40% off, and was so curious that I had to buy it! Honestly, our lives have been revolutionized by that little thing. I now have a delicious London Fog latte every morning made with a tea bag, 1 cup boiling water + 1/2 cup milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla extract. Life-changing stuff.

Coconut almond noodles with spinach, carrot, peppers, and shrimp. Delicious! See HERE for the recipe and don’t miss out the lime or coconut milk! I also like adding some fish sauce and sesame oil for even more punch.

There was a Celebration of Success banquet at my school for people in the faculty of Applied Health Sciences. I received my certificate for the Schulich Leaders Scholarship and something called the University of Waterloo President’s Award of Distinction.

My friends, Catherine (left), and Loretta (middle) also received certificates. Then we had free food before I had to dash off to a Physics tutorial. After a big slice of cheesecake, 100 pieces of cheese, a bunch of crackers, and… yeah.

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Oh guys, you are gonna love this! Because it’s chocolate and anything chocolate is… chocolate. I don’t even know what my point was, there, with that last sentence. Just make it.

Single-Serving Chocolate Vegan Lava Cake

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 tbsp spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tbsp yogurt (can sub applesauce or mashed banana, but flavour + microwave time will change)
  • 1.4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp almond milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Grease a mug or ramekin with coconut oil.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk well.
  3. Pour milk in, and add yogurt. Whisk until just combined.
  4. Combine chocolate chips and 1/2 tbsp almond milk in a small bowl and microwave 45 seconds until melted. Stir.
  5. Pour half the batter into mug. Make an indent and pour melted chocolate inside. Top with remaining batter.
  6. Microwave for 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes. Mine took 1 minute and 45 seconds. You could also bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Devour.

My school has standing desks in the library! This was a new discovery for me and I love it because I’m on my butt for most of the day (unfortunately). Standing up while doing notes and typing things up = a nice change!

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I haven’t had pancakes made with “real” flour for a while, mostly because I have almond flour and have blossomed a huge obsession with coconut flour. These were classic floury banana pancakes made with spelt flour and topped with caramelized (AKA mushy) bananas, chocolate chips, and big smears of nut butter.

You also know you’re lazy when you don’t even want to hit two buttons to rotate the picture because you’ve already inserted them into the post.

WHOA. Seline sent me these pictures of her room and I was stunned! Her room used to be OUR room, which had been painted sky blue and had drawings plastered all over the wall. Our room used to be functional (hooks, hangers, mirrors, and shelves everywhere) but is now fabulous and fashionable. I love the Parisian touch that Seline added to it – with images we bought from touristy stands in Montmartre last summer. WHOA, flashback to the mating flies we saw there. :O Also, those Christmas lights add such a nice touch. I’m so jealous!

Last weekend I had lunch at a nice cafe called Cafe 22, which is in Uptown Waterloo. I’ve been there before (early in the school year), when I enjoyed a wrap. This time, I had their popular focaccia sandwich which was stuffed with pesto, arugula, brie cheese, roasted garlic mayonnaise, and pan-fried chicken breast. This tasted so fresh and filled me up all afternoon. A London Fog latte was also enjoyed. 🙂

My mom wants you guys to know that she made rice, broccoli, and the rest was from Costco. GO MOM! Go Costco!

C’est ça pour cette post! Hope your long weekend was long and restful. 🙂

Tell me – what’s the laziest thing YOU’VE ever done?