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The Food I Brought Home

Happy Monday! Or, I hope it was a happy one for you :) I didn’t mention this on the blog last week, but after returning from California, I was bed ridden for two days with a fever. I had to cancel all my clients on Thursday and call in sick to the running store. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in a nutrition course aaaallll weekend as I felt like junk. But today I woke up feeling mysteriously better! And I worked out for the first time in five days. Good times. Depending on your perspective.

In all of my San Francisco recaps, I spoke a lot about the food I ate in San Francisco. But I have yet to talk about the food I brought back from San Fran!

Remember this photo of me elated inside of a Trader Joe’s?

Well here are the goods:

 

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Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (crunchy & salted) + Sunflower Seed Butter (aka sunflower seed crack)

I’ve been eating these by using one of my favourite ways to eat nut butter… on oatmeal!

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Cathy was gracious enough to send me to California with samples of Simply Bars. Including their new protein oatmeal. Instant oatmeal with a light strawberry flavouring, bulked up with their signature protein-packed puffed soy.

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First I ate it hot. With yogurt stirred in and topped with TJ’s almond butter and maple syrup.

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I must say, I do not like this almond butter as much as Naturally More. It can do better.

Next up is the sunflower seed butter.

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I ate this with the Simply Bar raw oatmeal, stirred in with cold yogurt, cinnamon and grapes.

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My heart will always belong to TJs sunflower seed butter. So smooth and creamy, with the perfect amount of salt and sweet to cut off the bitter edge of sunflower seeds. Yumm-o.

Next up, I got some 21 Seasoning Salute per the recommendations of Janetha and Danica.

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I roasted a chicken last week, seasoned with this stuff, as well as sprinkling it on the roast veggies.

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A picture of how I utilized some of the leftovers – in a pita of course!

For fun, I added another TJs goody to the sandwich.

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I love this salsa! Because of my pineapple allergy, I can’t eat a lot of fruit salsas. But this stuff is pineapple-free. I’ve been eating it with carrots too, and the sweet undertones of the salsa pair perfectly with the sweet raw carrots.

I of course had to pick up a couple of my favourite bars ever.

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Yup, Clif Mojo in Peanut Butter Pretzel is my favourite tasting bar ever!

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I used to be addicted to those “Sweet n’ Salty” bars. Well this is like those, but a million times better. Real hunks of pretzel, peanut butter chips and peanut chunks to make the flavour pop. The texture is the perfect mix of crispy and chewy. I’m glad I only bought two of these, as I’m pretty sure I could find an excuse to eat one with every meal :P

Speaking of which…

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Don’t buy these.

Peanut butter filled pretzels are no good.

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And by “no good” I mean “so delicious” that you won’t be able to stop eating them until the bag is gone. Ohmy. You’ve been warned.

I didn’t leave San Francisco with just Trader Joe’s goodies! My bloggie friends hooked me up too!

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At Friday night’s welcoming reception, we all participated in a foodie gift exchange. I totally copped out by giving away a jar of maple butter. I immediately felt bad once I was paired up with a local San Franciscan who hooked me up.

Peet’s Coffee holiday blend because Peet’s started in San Fran.

Then a cone and filters to make my coffee with!

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Easiest process of making coffee yet. All you gotta do is heat water until just boiling. Add your coffee to the paper filter, and pour the water over top to let it drain through.

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Voila. Delicious coffee almost instantly. Apparently this is the best way to have it. I can’t judge yet because the Peet’s coffee is so much better than the cheap stuff I usually buy!

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My roommies in San Fran were also quite generous. Janetha brought us all homemade trail mix including her mom’s homemade dried apples. Also included almonds, cranberries, rolled dates and dark chocolate chips.

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I gobbled this up. Such a good mix and flavour combo! Props to Momma B for her dehydrating skillz ;)

We also got some reeeeally good dried fruit in our swag bags.

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I didn’t quite get why everyone was raving about the Frog Hollow pears that were available all weekend. But these dried peaches are top notch. A million times better than any ole’ dried apricot.

Of course, I returned back to Canada with pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate.

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I’m a pretty faithful Lindt or Ritter Sport girl, but this Luxe Milk Almond may convert me.

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I have half a square left. I think I have to eat it after looking at this picture.

Danica hooked me up with a plethora of Annie’s goodies. I haven’t come close to eating my way through them yet, but I am really enjoying them! We don’t get a lot of Annie’s products here.

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I’m a candy fiend, so these Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks are perfectly portioned to nip that sweet tooth, without all the crummy ingredients of the other stuff.

Was most excited to try the Annie’s Shells.

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Their take on Kraft Dinner. Which Kraft just calls “Macaroni & Cheese” in the States. Weird. Anyways, while I’m not a huge pasta fan, I grew up eating Kraft Dinner and will always have a soft spot for this comfort food!

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I cooked it using almond milk. Plumped it up with a couple cans of tuna and frozen veggies. As well as a small handful of shredded mozzarella for added cheesiness.

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LOVED. Plain and simple. The end.

 

I do believe that is enough food for one evening. If you don’t mind, there’s a half square of Ghirardelli in the fridge calling my name ;)

 

Question of the Day: What is your most favourite recent food buy? Pretty sure all of mine are displayed here :)

A New Sense of Balance

The following is a ramble interlaced with various photos of food I’ve been enjoying recently. Finished off with none other than a beat-yourself-up chest/triceps workout. I do believe I break several of my writing rules in this post. But please, do indulge me ;)

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When I started this blog over one year ago, I was at a loss for a name. I’d been blogging over at Trying For A Tri and didn’t know what I wanted my new blog to encapsulate.

I have Ellie to thank for The Great Balancing Act. She must have seen something in me that I didn’t at the time. Her suggestion of “Balancing Act” struck a chord with me. I’ve always seen my life as this pendulum that swings back and forth. I’m always pushing it one way or another, trying to get it to stick in the center.

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I in no way could have predicted how much my life would eventually reflect the blog name that chronicles it. Exactly seven months ago I wrote a post also named The Great Balancing Act. It was after Christmas, after my birthday. I was on my third job in just two months. I gained weight, was unhappy with my body, struggling and grasping at some sense of normalcy and balance.

Sound familiar?

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Let it be known that I am a million times happier and more content where I am today than when I wrote that post seven months ago. Unfortunately, my current circumstances are eerily familiar. This time, I am in a new city, but still adjusting to a new work and life schedule.

Adjusting. Always. Adapting.

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Trying to find a sense of balance between indulgence and having fun with doing what’s best for my mind and body.

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I am not sure if perfect balance is something that can be achieved. In a balancing act, you are always teetering, ready to stumble to either side. The “balancing act” is more the action of trying to get back to the center again. Even when you realize staying there for long is impossible.

So what does this all mean?

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Let’s face it, I’ve partied hardy since stepping off my mother’s doorstep at the beginning of June. I’ve travelled, hiked, laughed, ATE, drank, disregarded sleep, and have had some of the most memorable months I’ve had in years.

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But at the end of the day, I still feel out of whack. Off balance. I think it’s time to step away from my little pendulum and find a new sense of balance. What worked in the past won’t work anymore. Again, it’s all about adapting, finding new routines. Of course, routines where laughter is still welcome ;)

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In terms of real life, this is what’s going through my head in a handy-dandy bullet-point list:

  • I am hungry all the time. Some of it is real hunger, some of it is emotional.
  • I’m bored with my workouts and don’t look forward to them like I used to.
  • I either sleep way too much or way too little.
  • I have a lot of responsibilities I am ignoring.
  • I’m still 5lbs over my happy weight and am less than happy about it. I wish I could pretend like this isn’t a big deal, but not fitting into jeans from last summer sucksbigtime.

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What am I going to do about it?

  • Take some time away from exercise while coming up with a new workout plan. I hate plans, but maybe it’s what I need right now?
  • Cook more and try out meal planning. I’m not into planning my meals either, but it may be the food structure I need.
  • Get better at keeping a sleeping schedule. Some nights I’m in bed by 10pm, others I’m up till 4am. I need a little more consistency to feel well-rested!
  • Get the to-do lists out of my head and on to paper.

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Anyone else feel like the summer is catching up with them? For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to autumn. I’m ready for the seasons to change.

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As a side note, you can’t get this flavour Luna in Canada. I hear it’s a lot of people’s favourites. It’s good, but no Chocolate Raspberry ;)

 

Now that the food and rambles are in, here is that killer workout I promised. This is chest/triceps workout I designed for an advanced exerciser looking to put on some muscle. I’m contemplating starting a split routine myself…

Warm-up:        
Treadmill 1 mile 10 min 6.0 mph 1.0 incline
Set Type Set # Exercise Weight Reps
Straight 1 Barbell bench press  45 lbs 15
  2   55 lbs 10
  3   65 lbs 6
  4   45 lbs 15
Straight 1 Incline chest fly  10 lbs 15
  2   15 lbs 10
  3   20 lbs 6
  4   10 lbs 15

 

Treadmill: Time Speed (mph)
1.0 incline :00-:30 6.0
  :30-1:00 7.0
  1:00-1:30 8.0
  1:30-2:00 6.0
  2:00-2:30 7.0
  2:30-3:00 8.0
  3:00-3:30 6.0
  3:30-4:00 7.0
  4:00-4:30 8.0
  4:30-5:00 6.0

 

Set Type Sets Exercise Reps
Alternating 2 Push-up  20
  2 Narrow-grip push-up 10

**Followed by 5 minutes on the treadmill – same interval routine as shown above.

Set Type Sets Exercise Weight Reps
Alternating 2 Bench dip n/a 12
  2 Skull crusher  20-30 lbs 12

 

Total time = 60 minutes on the nose. Hey, I never said my programs were easy!

 

Thank you for indulging me this evening. I had to get that off my chest (pun only slightly intended).

I may actually workout tomorrow. But if I do, it will be so I can watch the Food Network on the treadmill ;)

 

Question of the Day: How would you rate your current state of balance? How do you get centred when you feel out of whack? I thrive on down-time. I get so worked up about experiencing everything I can, that I sometimes forget I need to experience peace and quiet too :)

Markets and Bars

Hellohello! Hope everyone had a fantabulous weekend! I sure did…

karaoke

Thank gawd this cellphone photo is the only evidence of my busting out Moondance at karaoke last night. Also very happy that Billy chose not to take a picture of me awkwardly dancing during the musical interlude. Don’t ever let me do this again, mmmkay? :P

Anyways, I am not here to talk about how much whiskey it took me to do that, or the fact that I woke up at noon today. Ohno, today it’s about the food.

First things first, I’ve been eating a lot of bars. My cupboard is overflowing with all the bars I acquired in the U.S. last weekend!

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I was really excited to try my second Clif Mojo flavour after declaring Peanut Butter Pretzel my favourite bar ever.

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Mountain Mix had the same sweet & salty theme with almonds, peanuts, raisins and chocolate, among many other goodies. I did not dig the dried fruit in the mix. PB Pretzel still has a hold on my tastebuds!

Saturday morning I was up early (read: 8am and not noon) to attend what could be my last ever Les Mills step class. A very sad occasion, but I can’t afford to keep up my gym membership when I already have access at another gym for free!

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I fuelled up for step with this Clif Z Bar in Chocolate Chip as I’ve heard they make for a good snack before running as well.

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Not a big fan of this one. In general, I don’t really care for baked bars unless crumbled over top of something. It did at least sit well in my tummy while I jumped over a step for 60 minutes :)

Lastly, I reached for another Clif bar while working on the blog today. This time for one of the new Luna Protein bars in Chocolate Cherry Almond that came in my Healthy Living Summit swag bag.

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For 180 calories, it was small….

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And only 12g protein (compared to a regular Luna, which has 10g anyways)

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Taste was just okay, I’m picky with my fruit-chocolate flavour combos. The texture however was great. Similar to certain flavours of Atkins or ISO Femme protein bars.

When not drinking whiskey and eating protein bars (killer combo, no?) I was eating some of the best food Toronto has to offer!!

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I finally made my way down to Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. It’s a combination indoor-outdoor market district.

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I explored mostly the indoor markets as it was raining outside. They looked like your typical market set-up…

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In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of farmer’s markets. I know it’s a great way to support local farmers, but the crowds aren’t that great for my anxiety, and I find the food is often too expensive for my tight purse strings. 

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However, I am never one to turn down free food ;) LOVE the free samples at markets. The above photo is a table with a gazillion different flavours of mustard – my favourite being the maple mustard. 

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I asked Kristin for some market recommendations as I now consider her my expert resource on all things related to the St. Lawrence Market ;) Her first suggestion was to get a peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel Bakery.

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A quick Google search led me to discover the sandwich is world famous, touted by celebrities such as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.

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I showed up starving after Saturday’s step class and this sandwich hit. the. spot. Wowza.

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I ordered the regular peameal sandwich, with just the meat, cheese, on a amazingly soft and flaky bun. The bun is totally what made the sandwich, but I was impressed by how much meat they put on it too!!

After much wandering around, I decided it was time for some of the Freshly Squeezed juice Kristin also said I had to try.

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I went for a carrot + apple + ginger juice made right in front of me!

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Loved it. I’m always a little weary of vegetable juices, but carrots are so sweet and the ginger gave it a wonderful kick.

While sipping on my juice, I stumbled across this place…

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I was actually in search of dessert when I saw this, but remembered that Kristin also said the perogies were a must-try. I LOVE well-made perogies. So I ditched dessert for something more savoury.

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I ordered three potato and cheese perogies and three veal. Only cost $2.50 and they threw in an extra one! Even better, I had my camera around my neck when they handed me the perogies. The guy at the counter opened the container and asked if I wanted to snap a photo of them. How did he know?? :P

A lot of wonderful looking produce at the market, but again, much of it I passed up. Except for these little babies…

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Those would be fresh dates. I’ve never seen fresh dates before!! The girl selling them said to keep them out for 3-4 weeks until they get wrinkly like the one in the top of the picture. That’s when they get good enough to eat. Can’t wait!

Finally, I had one more stop.

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Just the other day I was reading about the best place to get a bagel in Toronto (because that’s apparently how I spend my free time) and St. Urbain Bagel was listed among them.

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I picked up a couple whole wheat sesame bagels and brought them home for later.

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And by “later” I mean it was the first thing I ate when I jumped rolled out of bed this morning afternoon.

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Toasted and topped with laughing cow cheese, eggs and chicken bacon. Damn, this bagel was good. The perfect mix of soft, chewy and puffy. I may have to go back for these!

I also passed several meat stalls at the market. I so badly wanted to stop and pick something up, but I kept reminding myself that I actually live close to one of the best sausage shops in the city!

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I picked up a strawberry spinach chicken sausage on my way home Saturday. Ate it for supper that night on top of lettuce, tomato and onions with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut and Trader Joe’s corn salsa. No doubt the sausage was fresh, however I don’t think the fruitier flavours are for me. I guess my inner German prefers a more savoury sausage ;)

 

Ahhhh, another weekend, another three days of wonderful foodie adventures :) I’m kinda lovin’ this city!!

Also, if you’re taking it easy tonight like me, feel free to check out my updated pages: The Girl Behind The Blog, and Links I Love. I read so many blogs, I know I forgot to add some to my new blogroll. Don’t be shy, let me know if you think you belong on that list! Blog updates are still a work in progress, more to come in the following days!

 

Question of the Day: What would be your karaoke song??

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