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California Dreamin’

I arrived!

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I may have forgotten my credit card at home, had to remove my shoes at the airport (silly Americans) and have been awake now for nearing 24 hours. But all that really matters is that I made it to San Fran and am soaking up the California sunshine :)

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Thankfully, I landed at the same time as Diana so we travelled into the city together.

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The Bay area trains are much nicer than the Toronto subways.

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And the trolleys are a lot more quaint ;)

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I’m here in San Francisco until Monday for the Foodbuzz Festivala gathering of over 350 food bloggers. It’s being held at the Sir Francis Drake hotel on the legendary Powell street. Very cool!

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The themed hotel attendants are neat too ;)

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Once dropping our bags off, we suddenly became a small group of very hungry bloggers. The clear choice laid only a few blocks away, in Chinatown.

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We were on the hunt for dim sum and by chance a lady on the street started pointing to a place telling us we needed to go there. If the locals insist, it’s got to be good!

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It was take-out dim sum and nothing in English. So we just pointed to the dishes we wanted and hoped they were tasty! Luckily, I’ve been to dim sum before and had a vague idea of what to try.

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Started with a steamed pork bun. SO good.

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Some shrimp dumpling. Loved the chives in this. 

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Some pork thingy. For my meats ;)

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And sticky rice! 

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I haven’t had this before, but have heard lots about it. Diana said it was a must, so we split it. Nice surprise to open it up and find meat inside!

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Best of all, the whole meal cost two dollars. Cheapest filled belly I’ve ever had. And dare I say, better than in Toronto. 

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Dining partners – Allie, Diana, Heather. We ate on the steps in Chinatown. Classy joint. We realized sitting across the street that the place we went to was one of the highest rated on Yelp – Good Mang Kok Bakery. Go figure.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the mountains hills of San Francisco. People don’t exaggerate when they say it’s hilly!!

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Of course, I am here for a food blogging festival. So more eating and food photography soon followed.

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Millennium is a fancy vegetarian restaurant that hooked up 20 of us bloggers for dinner tonight. I heard nothing but rave reviews about this place.

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We had our own private room in the back!

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They even brought out appetizers on the house for us to try. All of which were equally delicious. My favourite being the breaded mushrooms.

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I ended up ordering an appetizer because of the price (mains were over $20). But also because I wasn’t that hungry after our Chinatown trip!

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After much back and forth, I ended up with the Black Bean Torte.

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It was good. Real good. And I’m not just saying that. The sweet starchy taste of the plantains went really well with the black beans. And the accompanying sauce and salsa were fantastic with it.

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Then, I was officially stuffed.

I think I may be leaving some of my heart in San Francisco

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Official Foodbuzz Festival activities commence tomorrow! This girl needs her beauty sleep! Hell, this girl needs any sleep. Night night!

Good Food, Bad Food, and a New Set of Monthly Goals

Hello friends!! Welcome to August :) This is going to be a good month, I can feel it! For the first time in a long time, I’m setting out some goals for myself this month. But we’ll have to wait till the end for those. I’ve got a plethora of food photos first!

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It’s been a while since I did a big food post, so some of these are a few days old. The other day I mixed up 30g chocolate whey powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp ground coffee, 2 tbsp egg whites and 2 tbsp plain yogurt.

You want to put this is a biiiiig mug. After 2-3 minutes in the microwave, it puffs up into beast.

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If you are a volume eater, this one’s for you. Sliced up into three sections and topped with a mix of marshmallow fluff, chocolate peanut butter, laughing cow cheese.

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I don’t know why I’ve never thought of a mocha protein cake before. This was freakin’ divine.

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Plus, the mid-day caffeine kick didn’t hurt ;)

Next up we have my first ever visit to Chipotle!

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Chipotle is a cafeteria-style Mexican restaurant with a focus on organic and ethical food.

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Their specialty are the burritos and tacos, but I was trying to keep it on the low-cal side, so I opted for a salad.

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I must say, I was a little disappointed by their salad options. Just a bit of romaine with sautéed veggies, a choice of two beans, three meats, four salsas and some cheese.

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I opted for the black beans, chicken and mild tomato salsa. No guac as I can’t eat it. The spices were right on and it was certainly filling. Buuuut, it was 9 bucks and I like a salad chock full of veggies.

Oh, and as a side note, while eating this on the patio I got recognized by a reader!! How cool is that? Hi Ashley, thanks for coming up to say hello :) I’d like to say I’m usually not that awkward in real life, but alas, that is not my reality.

Chugging right along here, I had yet another new-food experience in Toronto!

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My roommates were pretty horrified when they found out I’d never had dim sum before. Actually, I’d heard the term, but never really knew what it was. Billy took me to a restaurant called the Pearl Court in Chinatown East. For those of you who haven’t experienced it either, dim sum is Cantonese dining where the food comes in small portions. The restaurant workers came around yelling out dish names and we had to put our hands up if we wanted it. They marked it off on a little card and we paid at the end.

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The most confusing part is that they were yelling out the dishes in Cantonese, so I had no idea what was coming around! Thankfully, Billy knows his Chinese food.

The above are pork spring rolls. Very crispy.

Below are shrimp thingys in a wrapper thingy.

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Like my descriptions? :P Actually, I think these were shrimp dumplings.

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The above are some pork dumplings perhaps? They were quite good.

I am missing a picture of my favourite food! They were pot stickers with cabbage in them and lightly fried. Yumyum.
 
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Second favourite were these buns with a sweet pork filling and sticky glaze on top. I’ve seen similar buns many times on Sophia’s blog and can’t wait to try more varieties!

Least favourite dish from the meal were the chicken feet.

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OhyesIdid.

I’ve said many times that my food curiosity often gets the best of me!! These are actual chicken feet, cooked in a sort of barbecue sauce. You’re supposed to bite a piece off, suck off the skin, then spit out the bone.

I tried, I really tried. I can get past most “gross-out factors” when it comes to food. But these chicken feet defeated me. The skin was a lot more light and soft than I was expecting, otherwise, it was kinda of what you would expect scaly chicken feet to taste like :/

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Everything was chased down with some very delicious tasting tea. I think it was a green, but it didn’t taste quite so bitter. Billy told me the tea is served because it helps your body cut down on the grease.

In all, a wonderful first dim sum experience!! I ate just enough and despite it being a pretty greasy and heavy meal, I felt good after. It will be more fun to go back as I start to recognize the dishes and know what I like. Can’t say I’ll be getting the chicken feet again ;)

After an indulgent day yesterday, I’ve been trying to clean up my act today. Unfortunately, I was without groceries for half of it.

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An empty fridge and cupboard often leads to my more interesting food combinations. Today being no different.

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This would be a pita pizza of sorts with a base of tuna, cottage cheese, mustard, pickles and onions.

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That’s not mozzarella on top, but sauerkraut!

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I dunno, I saw the jar of sauerkraut in the fridge and went for it. I looooove sauerkraut and thought this was pretty tasty!

I kept with the cabbage theme for dinner after purchasing groceries.

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Browsing the internets today, I stumbled across a recipe for Mango Slaw With Cashews and Mint from Smitten Kitchen. I followed the recipe almost precisely, except I used regular green cabbage, added sesame oil for my oil, and traded in the cashews for soya nuts.

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The soya nuts were $5 cheaper than the cashews, and the nutritionals are 5x better.

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That’s better than most protein bars!!

I paired the mango slaw with some sweet & spicy chicken breast.

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I’m really happy with how the slaw turned out. It was a cinch to throw together and is the perfect flavour for summer.

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And finally, my goals for August.

1. Eat out twice a week, at no more than $15 a meal. This is going to be hard, as eating out is sooooo fun and easy in Toronto. But for the sake of my wallet and waistline, it needs to happen. I’m starting to get on a more regular work schedule, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the habit of preparing meals and snacks for when I’m not home.

2. Read more. Actually, I already have been reading more, to the tune of four books in July. But I’d like to keep it up!

3. Do at least one outdoor activity a week. Now that I’m working in a gym, it is so easy for me to just keep my workouts within the gym walls. But summer will be gone before I know it, so it’s important I get out in the fresh air! Already off to a good start with this one – put in an hour long bike ride along the waterfront this evening. Plus, I’ve got some more fun outdoor stuff in the works ;)

4. Look for part-time work and volunteer work. One, because I need the extra moulah, and two, because I want to get more involved in my new community.

5. Update my blog pages. They’re once again behind the times. I haven’t put any work into my blog since before I moved in May!

6. Lose weight. I know, when did this become a weight loss blog?? :P Truth of the matter is that I’m over my “happy weight,” thus not very happy with how I look and feel in my skin. It just means I’ll be a little more vigilant about my food and servings and probably stepping on a scale more often than I typically like.

 

There you have it! Will start checking in on these goals weekly to keep myself accountable. Now my question for you: what are your goals for August?? Write them down in the comments and we can check in together next week :)

A Waffleless Wednesday

Hello friends!! Another Waffle Wednesday without waffles! Boo! My Belgian waffle maker is actually in Ottawa right now with my sister. Long story, but I will be reunited with it once again in two weeks time :)

This time next Wednesday I’ll be landing in Calgary! Eeeee!!

Anyways, as always, I am getting ahead of myself again.

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This morning I brought back an old favourite – Oatmeal & Yogurt Parfait.

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I started with a base of rolled oats cooked with egg whites. Then topped with frozen berries.

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The layers continue with yogurt, fibre cereal and sliced almonds.

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First time having yogurt in over a month!!! It hasn’t changed much in a month ;) My belly digested it just fine!

I must also report that my family completely wrecked and demolished the pan of chocolate chip blondies in less than 24 hours.

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I played my part by having one as the pre-workout snack of champions. Blondie + apple. It was the perfect fuel!!

I dragged my mom to the gym with me today. We both wanted to do plyometrics and knew we’d need the moral support to get through it ;)

We started with 15 minutes on the elliptical to warm-up. The recommended warm-up time is only 3-5 minutes to get oxygen to your muscles. If you don’t warm-up, you demand too much of your body too quickly and you will tire out sooner. Obviously, my usual 15 minutes is above and beyond my muscular needs, but it’s just long enough to get my heart rate into a working zone. Personally, once it reaches that level through straight-up cardio, I can keep it pretty elevated during strength training. However, it doesn’t get that high with strength training alone. I just don’t have the muscular power yet to make my heart pump that much. Make sense? There’s a method to my madness!

Today’s workout had one upper-body move alternated with one plyometric move. It was brutal.

Back set:

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Two arm dumbbell row 3 12 20 lbs each
Squat jumps 3 24 bodyweight

Chest set:

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Push-up  3 10 bodyweight
Lunge kicks 3 30 sec each bodyweight

Shoulder set:

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Prone cuban snatch (on ball) 3 10 5 lbs each
Weighted jumping jacks 3 60 sec 5 lbs each

Ab set:

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Plank on bosu ball 3 45 sec bodyweight
Bosu ball russian twist  3 30 8 lbs

Triceps/Biceps:

Exercise Sets Reps Load
Cable pushdown  2 15 45 lbs
Cable curl 2 15 25 lbs

 

And then we collapsed into a sweaty mess :P No, it was an awesome workout and I’m glad I had my mommy to suffer through the squat jumps with me!

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I came home with images of meltycheesy pitas dancing in my head.

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Pepperoni + cheddar. Halfway through I remembered I forgot to put the mayo on and didn’t even miss it! Just goes to show that condiments aren’t always required.

Chocolate however is always a necessity.

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My mom and Nana are going to Newfoundland the day after I leave for Banff, so my mother gave me permission to polish off this box.

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I only just noticed today that it says “Newfoundland Wild Berries” on the box – no wonder they all had a hint of fruit!

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Apparently each box is different. I have no clue what kind this was or what kind of berry was in it. But I can tell you it was delicious ;)

I spent aaallll afternoon applying for jobs and getting life details sorted out. I found out yesterday that my subtenant in my old place isn’t moving in after all. She had some sort of falling out with my landlord, but still agreed to pay the remainder of my lease. Jeeze louise, what a headache!

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I took a break for a Honeybar Sweet & Salty bar. I lovelovelove this bar. It reminds me of those Nature Valley Sweet n’ Salty bars – but BETTER!

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Ingredients: Peanuts, honey, peanut butter, almonds, almond butter, crisp brown rice, kosher salt. Nutritional info here!

I had a special dinner date today – I got to see one of my best friends!!

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Meghan and I have been friends since the first grade and even lived together during part of our undergrad (oddly enough, one of my new TO roommies is named Megan too!) She’s living back at home doing fun things like working with monkeys and lemurs. 

Meghan is also a fabulous cook. I arrived to a beautifully set table.

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I want those placemats please.

Meg whipped up some General Tso’s chicken. I can’t remember all what was in the pan, but I recall garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chicken broth, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and probably magical fairy dust because it was freakin’ good.

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Paired with coconut lime rice.

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And a salad dressed with Newman’s Own sesame ginger dressing.

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SO delicious!! I miss living with Meghan!!! I miss our Lost nights and MSN-ing each other when we’re too lazy to get out of bed and speak face to face ;)

I was lucky enough to have a dining companion by the name of Simon.

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Simon’s name is pronounced in a British accent ;) Meg also works at an animal shelter, and this is one face she couldn’t let go. I don’t blame her!!

Dessert was the perfect end to the perfect meal.

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It went with the rice!
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With chamomile tea. It made me sleepy :)

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Check out Meghan’s Mom’s mug – Supernatural!!

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The other bestie Erika got me hooked on this show and I squealed like a schoolgirl when I saw this.

I regret typing that. These are some things I should just not admit to on the internet.

Simon is not the only cute kitty face I came across tonight.

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Meet Peter. His proper name pronunciation however is “Pedro.” Don’t forget to roll the R… Pedrrrroo.

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Simon suffered brain damage from smoke inhalation in the house fire he was rescued from. He’s a little slow, but in the most endearing of ways :)

 

Gosh, I have turned into a crazy cat and dog lady. But I need to get my fill – I’ll be without pets soon :(

 

Question of the day: What’s your favourite kind of Chinese food? I don’t have a lot of experience in either traditional or North American Chinese food. All I know is that I genuinely love the taste of fortune cookies ;)

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