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How Do You Like Them Apples?

Listen. I’ve had enough.

I know y’all love your pumpkin. But my head is going to explode if I see one more pumpkin recipe.

I’m just being real yo!

Truth of the matter is, the mushy orange stuff makes me a little squeamish. I love me some cinnamon and nutmeg, but tasteless baby food from a can makes me gag a little. Just a little.

When it comes to fall flavours, I am all about the apples.

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I’ve been dreaming about homemade apple sauce ever since I made a batch around this time last year. When walking past a fruit stand on Saturday, I saw Ontario empire apples on sale for 99 cents a pound. I knew the time had come.

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I bought four pounds for four bucks. Last year, I went McIntosh, and the empires reminded me of a slightly crispier and less grainy version of them.

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Cored and chopped the apples until my pot was overflowing. No bother peeling them. The peels are the best part!

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I tossed in a cup of water and let the pot simmer for around half an hour. Until I noticed the apples getting mushy. That’s when I added one tablespoon cinnamon and got to mashing.

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I like my applesauce chunky, so I didn’t bother blending. No sugar either, these puppies are sweet enough as is!

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Learn from my mistakes and do not taste the sauce immediately. You will burn your tongue.

Instead, I incorporated some of the warm sauce into supper!

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Yup. Waffles for supper :) The usual protein waffle batter:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • pinch cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 2 stevia packets
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Along with the apple sauce, I added molasses and maple syrup.

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My oh my. That is fall flavours at their best ;)

 

Okay. Confession time. I’m not 100% against all things pumpkin.

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I’ll make exceptions when chocolate is involved ;) Like my roommie’s pumpkin brownies!

 

Q&As

How do you find the time to write such creative posts and still live life (and work/volunteer so much)?  How do you balance everything in your life without ‘burnout’?

 

This is a great question, because sometimes my biggest “balancing act” is finding time to write The Great Balancing Act!

First things first, I started my blog during my last year of an undergraduate degree. I was doing school full-time, working two part-time jobs and one unpaid internship. Apparently, I didn’t think I had enough on my plate ;)

Since then, I’ve continued my blog through working wonky hours as a broadcast journalist and the mind-numbing hours of an 8-5 desk drone. These days my hours are all over the place. I’m at the gym by 6:30am every day to train clients. I have anywhere from 4-6 clients a day, but don’t usually wrap up until 7pm. Because I live so far away from the gym, popping home in between isn’t really an option. So I’m away from my house at least 12 hours a day. I also have a retail job in a running store that will sometimes keep me working until 10pm, and of course every Saturday and Sunday. 7 days a week, 12+ hours a day. And yup, I do volunteering on top of that!

My number one trick recently has been bringing my laptop with me to work so when I get an hour or two of spare time, I can scoot to the nearest Starbucks to work on my blog. Blogging time (usually takes an hour) often gets pencilled into my day so it never gets put to the back burner. I often pre-write posts, which is the biggest benefit to not doing a “daily diary” type blog. For example, my Fitness Friday posts are rarely actually written on Friday, which gives me Friday off from writing!

Right now, I think what is keeping me from burning out is knowing that this is what I came to Toronto to do. In my old life back in Fredericton, my desk job was my only commitment over the course of the day. It was kind of soul crushing. Now I thrive off the zillion projects I have on the go and actually find energy in participating in so much!

With that said, I do carve out downtime as well. I make sure there is one day a week where I can stay in my pajamas until 3pm doing absolutely nothing. It’s what works for me to “recharge.”

Finally, blogging is how I prefer to spend my time! Writing is second nature to me and has never felt like work. On days I don’t feel like blogging, I don’t. But that doesn’t happen often because I always want to blog. Even after all this time! Some people watch TV or or play video games with whatever spare time they have. I blog :)

 

Question of the Day: What are your feelings on pumpkin? It’s like buying canned mashed potatoes.

Monthly Goal Check-In

Hiya! How was everyone’s Monday? Mine was surprisingly good! Despite missing my bedtime by almost two hours last night, I still found the energy to charge through another Monday. Getting up for a 6am spin class always helps though. I’ve learned my lesson – every Monday should begin with a spin class. Sweating buckets in a room full of people in padded cycling shorts just sets the week up right, ya know? :P

I also felt pretty legit walking in and out of the gym with my shmancy new gym bag.

Went straight to the office after class and got there at 7:45am! Gave me plenty time to dig into my packed breakfast of overnight oats.

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  • 1 40g package of spiced multigrain instant oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • healthy dose of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp cashews

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As far as overnight oats go, the yogurt/applesauce combo is definitely a winner for me. I specifically used cashews in there because I knew they’d get soft in the fridge overnight… mmm…

I never photograph it, but my at-work breakfasts always include a mug of iced coffee.

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I chug half a french press worth of iced coffee before the gym, then drink the rest after.

My snack was an un-homemade bar.

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These were $0.99 each at the grocery store this week, so I picked up a few. Did they change the Luna bar recipe in Canada?

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I could have sworn the old version of these had 180 calories, not 190, and less rolled oats. Also, it looked smaller. Or I’m going crazy, which is a likely possibility as well.

Lunch!

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Turkey pita with veggies and Olive & Feta Hummus. That odd-shaped fruit on the side is a ya pear. Another on-sale purchase. I find it tastes very similar to an Asian pear – super crunchy and mild in taste. Wikipedia says it’s a Chinese white pear with a taste similar to rose and pineapple. Either way, I prefer my bartletts.

My snack looks disgusting, which means it was really good!

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Ham and cheese. I ended up only eating one of the herb & cheddar cheese sticks because there was more ham in the bag than I thought. I wrapped the ham around the cheese and it made for a stellar high fat, high protein snack. Seriously yummy.

Work was busybusy today, but one of those good busy days. Lots of fun projects to putter away on. Then I came home my Secret Bloggie Valentine gift!!

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Eeeeee!!!! I was especially excited for this to arrive seeing as I’m a single gal this Valentine’s Day. I was even more excited when I saw who it was from – Adrien from Confessions of a Health Nut!! She’s one of the many new bloggers I’ve stumbled across lately, and I was super pumped to see a name and blog I recognized on the card :D

Ohyes, the goods!

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First, the Yogi Tea in lemon ginger, kombucha, peppermint and chai rooibos. Funny, because lately at work I’ve been saying I’m going to join the tea-drinker club. Everyone there chugs back tea all day but me! I’m totally bringing in my stash tomorrow. Also funny that she sent me romantic word magnets. My mom used to have these and we had so much fun coming up with hilarious and inappropriate combinations on her fridge. Something to do while I wait for my waffles to cook ;)

My mom stayed at my place all day painting my kitchen. How sweet is that? She’s been hard at work whipping my apartment into shape. I am so grateful she’s willing to do it! Anyways, my kitchen is full of wet paint, so I made us a cold dinner.

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On the beastly sandwich:

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I ate 1/4 of an avocado and didn’t die!!! Yessss!!! I did have slight tummy pains, but I also chewed a lot of gum today, which does that to me too. Regardless, a successful Fatty February experiment :)

Dessert was, what else, chocolate from Adrien!

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Being the foodie nerd that I am, I noticed this was organic chocolate from BC, close to where Adrien is. So I checked out the Denman Island Chocolate website, and was really really impressed by it. They sound like a wonderful company, manufacturing natural food in a beautiful part of the world. Oh, and the chocolate was delicious. Although, my mom insisted it had hemp in it, but she just thinks people in BC are hippies :P 

 

Monthly Goal Check-In!

Okay, so I usually do this on Sundays. But hey, better late than never? Let’s see how I’m doing with my monthly goals after a week…

1. Work out no more than 6 hours a week. I worked out five times at 5 hours and 25 minutes. Perfection! My body was challenged, but not overworked. I almost worked out a sixth time, but listened to my body and slept in instead. That extra day off was just what I needed to finally combat the cold I had.

2. Say yes more. Yes, yes, and yes. Went out for some jazz and drinks last week, and I’m going on a trip this weekend!

3. Make more leftovers. I made a recipe last week from an actual cookbook. I got four meals out of my Spinach and Ham Ricotta Pie, and an addition 52 meals out of the ham I bought for the recipe. (that’s exaggeration btw, it was more like 38)

4. Eat more fat. Yesss!! I’ve been tracking my calories on and off and I’m getting about 30% of my calories from fat these days. That’s around 60g of fat a day – triple what I was eating before! I’ve been doing just little things like adding a dash of oil or butter here and there, switching to full fat cheese, and even eating avocado and dark chicken meat like I did for dinner today.

 

I also have a couple more updates. Remember one of my monthly goals in November was to get more sleep? I wrote “This is an ongoing issue that I think is more than just scheduling and bad time management. There are reasons I can’t sleep, and it’s time to get to the bottom of it.”

Well I’m happy to report that my sleeping patterns are back to normal!! For some reason, at the end of 2008, going into my lat semester of university, I just stopped being able to sleep. I used to be the girl who could sleep 10 hours a night, no problem. I blamed it on aging and stress from school, but it never went away. I graduated, worked a job I didn’t like, and it continued.

I made that goal on November 1, two days after I quit my job. The sleeping got a little better after that. I stopped naturally waking up at 5am everyday at least. But now with a more regular schedule, and a few more life changes (ie less things to worry about and weigh me down) I feel relaxed enough to be able to sleep the whole night through – 8 hours plus!!

However, it’s not all good news.

Remember the awful rash on my legs?

Well, my mom and I have been sharing a bed these past few nights. And she says she woke up last night to the sound of me furiously scratching my legs. I had a suspicion I was doing this in my sleep, but she said it was pretty bad last night. I think it has something to do with my anxiety disorder, I used to grind my teeth when I was a teenager. Anyways, I have no clue how to train myself to stop doing this. The obvious solution is to wear gloves to bed. But it would be really nice to get to the heart of the issue so I don’t have to worry about it at all. My mom says I need 1) massage, and 2) to get out of my unhappy living environment. I couldn’t agree more.

 

Last but not least I am going to Halifax this weekend! This means two things:

1. I am looking for three guest posts for those days. E-mail me at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com if you’re interested, first come first serve!

2. Blogger meet-up!!! I’ve already been in contact with some wonderful Halifax ladies, and we’re planning on meeting for lunch on Sunday. If you want to join in on the Maritime bloggie fun, send me an e-mail! thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com :D

 

Question of the Day: How are you doing with you February goals? Fatty February? Let me know!

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Goals For February

Erm, Happy Monday? Or Tuesday, if that’s when you’re reading this. Then I’m sorry, because Tuesdays suck more than Mondays. Is it Waffle Wednesday yet??

So I’m not 100% better today. My body is still producing snot at a high rate. But the rest of me feels okay, so I got up in the minus million celsius weather to go to spin class this morning. Not gonna lie, it was hard to do with a cold! There were a few other people blowing their noses and hacking up gross stuff along with me. I kinda felt like we had a secret hardcore bond, and felt each other’s pain after each brutal hill climb. I also burned 499 calories in 60 minutes. What’s up with that?

Showered at the gym and went straight to work. Got there at 7:50 am!! I kinda like the quiet hours before everyone arrives. I get to enjoy a quiet breakfast and take my time preparing for the day ahead.

Breakfast was another go at overnight oats. Well, kinda.

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  • 200g plain yogurt (3/4 cup?)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • lots and lots of cinnamon
  • raisins
  • 1/2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup coconut chia granola

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The applesauce helped and made the consistency much better! Still didn’t keep me full though.

 

Luckily, I had a PB&J homemade granola bar to keep me going till lunch.

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These are TAS-TEE. But the consistency is off. The jam added more moisture than I anticipated so they’re a little on the gooey side.

Lunch was as boring as boring gets.

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 Tuna salad (with capers) in a pita and a naval orange. Snore.

I was hungry again soon after and dug into my next snack early.

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Yoplait Source muesli yogurt cup and a Kashi blackberry cereal bar.

And a touch of snobbery.

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Although, I guess the classiness is brought down by the fact that I drank it out of a can.

This snack powered me through the next four hours! Not bad eh? I couldn’t help it, I got lost in the aisles of the grocery store after work. Happens every time. Came home to a quick dinner featuring this:

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Turned into this…

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I just mixed it with some tomato sauce, adzuki beans, broccoli, mushrooms and chili powder. Super simple, pretty tasty!

My evening snack was another bar (I try to limit myself to one a day), but I just had to try this new flavour!

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Okay, the Kashi Dark Mocha Almond chewy granola bar is a “new to me” flavour.

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I really liked it! I could smell the coffee flavour as soon as I opened the package (which is saying a lot, as I’m really stuffed up). It was still kinda bland like all the chewy bars are, but hey, you can never go wrong with chocolate and coffee. Except when there’s chocolate chips on top. They always fall off and melt in the most unfortunate of places.

I also just realized that of the six meals I ate today, only two of them didn’t contain oats. At least I’m getting lots of grains?

 

Goals For February

So this is something I used to do every month, but took January off. My goal for January was just to start my new job and “survive” the month. Besides a few close calls, I’d say I did that :) So what’s in store for February you ask??

1. Work out no more than 6 hours a week. You see, I have a bad habit of doing long ass workouts every single day. Then I get run down and sick and have to take a whole weekend off doing nothing to recover (ahemlastweekend). So my goal for this month is to find a balance between reaching my fitness goals and accidentally overtraining.

2. Say yes more. I’m awful for making up lame excuses to get out of doing things. This month, I’m going to say yes more when people ask me to do something. Hopefully I’ll get some new wonderful experiences out of it!

3. Make more leftovers. I have a tendency to make a lot of single-serving meals. Now that I have a microwave at work, it would be pretty sweet to just grab leftovers instead of making a big lunch every night.

4. Eat more fat. This is a big one and I’m going to dedicate a whole post to it tomorrow. A lot of people mentioned in my last post that they too need more fat in their diets. Well Emily and I have decided to initiate a little challenge to make it a Fatty February ;) Our hair and skin will all be shining by the end of it!

 

There ya go. Not really ground breaking goals compared to some of my old ones. But I know I can accomplish every single one of these. And they’re all important in making the next month not only run more seamlessly, but be more fun!!

 

Question of the Day: What are your goals for the month? Big or small, write them down. I’ll be checking in every Sunday!

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