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Another Fabulous Sunday in the City + Those Goals

Ahhh, another weekend, another two days of amazing adventures in Toronto!!

I was a good girl and in bed sober and early last night. Set my alarm for 8am and was up and ready before it even went off!

I was excited for what I had planned this morning – free yoga at Lululemon!

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Most Lululemon locations offer free yoga classes on Sunday mornings. Something I’ve never been to as New Brunswick doesn’t have a Lululemon retail location yet.

I was a little nervous about what I would be walking into. I went to the Eaton Centre, expecting to be surrounded by yoga experts dressed to the nines in Lululemon gear. So not the case! There were about 15 of us in the cleared-out showroom. The instructor led us through 50 minutes of Baptiste Power Yoga. A style I’ve been apprehensive to try, but it really wasn’t that hard! I’m strong enough now that vinyasa doesn’t tire me out like it used to and I’m starting to move through it more quickly.

After two months of no yoga is was SO nice to do it again. My body absolutely loves it. I’m realizing it’s an important activity to include in my workout mix, so I suspect I will take advantage of many more free classes until I get the funds to join a studio :)

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I had some time to kill afterwards before a very important date downtown. I decided to wander up to Yonge/Dundas Square. The great thing about Toronto is that it’s guaranteed something will be happening there on any given weekend.

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Today I happened to stumble across the Live Green Toronto Festival. How ‘bout that!

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There wasn’t much going on though. I poked around at some of the vendors then wandered across the street to something that was a lot more eye catching:

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Forever 21. A clothing store I’ve heard manymany people rave about but have never been to. It was pretty cheap! I was thisclose to buying a dress I probably don’t need, until I looked at my watch and realized I was about to be late for my very important date!

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With a food blogger of course! ;) Jessica was in town visiting her family this weekend. Always on the lookout for a dining partner, I told her we had to get together to eat.

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We opted for The Queen Mother, a cute place on Queen West  known for good vegetarian fare (although not a vegetarian restaurant).

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Both Jessica and I took a quick look at the menu and decided on the same thing right away. I’m typically a fast decision maker (maybe sometimes too fast!) and appreciate eating out with people who are too!

We went for The Q.M. Burger: a high protein vegetarian patty of grains, nuts, herbs and mushrooms, covered in melted cheese and served in a whole wheat pita with our own special sauce, romaine lettuce and tomato.

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You had me at “pita.”

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What I wasn’t expecting was for the burger to be delicious. Dare I say… the second best veggie burger I’ve ever had?? Yes, I think so. I loved the combination seedy and soft texture, with chunks of whole peanuts. It was spiced perfectly. Their sauce of ketchup + something creamy paired with it wonderfully.

If you’re wondering, my favourite veggie burger still comes from Calactus in Moncton, New Brunswick. That will be hard to trump. I’ve got that burger on a pedestal.

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Me and Jessica! I had a lot of fun chatting and enjoying good food with her today. I have yet to meet a fellow food/healthy living blogger I don’t click with. What is it about us that makes us all so friendly and easy to get along with each other? Anyways, she totally convinced me that I need to take the train to Montreal some time. Soon!!

Just as I started getting settled back at home, this tweet happened :

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Don’t need to tell me twice.

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The bake sale was going on outside the Ceili Cottage, a wonderful Irish restaurant/pub in my neighbourhood. I originally went for the sticky toffee pudding, which I hear is amazing.

Then I saw this.

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It was love at first sight.

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I’m not sure if y’all know how much  I love cinnamon buns. Cinnamon rolls are great. But the white, doughy, fluffy, sweet n’ sticky bun is where it’s at. Perhaps Holly can tell you about how I drool at the mere sight of them. She watched me do this in every bakery we visited in Alberta :P

The above heavenly treat comes from a Leslieville bakery I’ve been meaning to try – Sweet Bliss Baking Company. Just another reason to snatch one up. They’re what Toronto Life calls the “best cinnamon buns in the city.” Fret not, in the spirit of moderation, I only ate the outer layer. The sticky center is now wrapped up and hiding in the cupboard. I can hear its muffled cries from here.

 

After missing a couple weeks, I do believe it is time for the second and final check-in on my Monthly Goals For August.  

1. Eat out twice a week, at no more than $15 a meal. Surprisingly, I did pretty good with this one!! I know I typically only blog about my meals out, but I brought all my food to work with me and often ate at home before going out. Even in Chicago, I only ate out once!

2. Read more. Finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which was good. Slow to start but turned out pretty scandalous. Love the main characters in it, which is the number one thing I look for in a book. Currently half-way through Generation A by Douglas Coupland. It’s a look into the not-so-distant future where bees are extinct. Until five different people around the world are stung. Told through the eyes of each of the sting-ees. In typical Coupland style, the unusual and impossible occasionally happens out of nowhere, but a good criticism on how we treat our planet.

3. Do at least one outdoor activity a week. Walkwalkwalk. Walking to the next subway stop instead of the closest one, getting off the streetcar early to walk the rest of the way home, choosing a part of the city to explore on foot… I did a lot of walking this month because that’s the only outdoor activity I can think of that doesn’t cost money and won’t kill me in the heat.

4. Look for part-time work and volunteer work. Spent some time with Simply Bar yesterday and paperwork is out for another volunteer opportunity! I may or may not have a really cool part-time job interview lined up for this week, but I’m not talking about any of that until I get a job offer. No jinxing!!

5. Update my blog pages. Changed the page names, including a new “The Girl Behind The Blog” section. Not the overhaul I wanted to do, but something is better than nothing.

6. Lose weight. Ugh. I’m tired of devoting mental energy to this. I was doing well, then went to Chicago and now feel unchanged. I’m playing around with my eating patterns and exercise schedule. As I wrote about in this post, I’m having difficulty adjusting to certain areas of my new life. I don’t want losing weight to top my list of priorities anymore. It’s tough when I’m looked to for fitness and nutrition inspiration and feel like I don’t look the part. I just want to eat well, be active, and enjoy doing all of it. It seems I’m happiest in my body when I’m not thinking about it too much. So this goal was not achieved, nor will I be setting it again.

 

And with that, I’m back to the Emmys!

Question of the Day: How did you do on your August goals?

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 :)

When You’re Smiling

Hellohello! How is everyone’s work week chugging along? Or are you like me and unemployed? ;) I do have a job interview lined up for when I get to Toronto in a couple weeks… but I’ll spill the beans on that when the time comes. Of course, I also have to drop off a few resumes at Lululemon. Livin’ the dreeeeam people!! ;)

Moving on!

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I was sonothappy to be awake this morning. Ask my sister, I was a grump. Best way to cure a case of the grumps?

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Chocolate. Cooked up a pot of rolled oats with soy protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, banana and almond butter. Paired with a french press of coffee, the world suddenly becomes a better place :)

I got some interesting comments on my last post about my 20-minute meditation challenge, and my use of an alarm to signal when it’s time to come-to. I decided to set the alarm because I had a feeling that 5 minutes would pass, it would feel like 20, and then I’d start opening my eyes and obsessively checking the clock. I told Leah that maybe next week I’ll try just meditating with no time goal and seeing how it goes.

Well today, something interesting happened.

Instead of doing a body scan during my meditation, I instead focused on showing love towards various family members. You see, someone close in our family is going for a serious medical procedure, and there’s been a lot of stress, worry and sadness surrounding it. As I was sitting there, I began to feel very anxious and unsettled. My breath got shallow and I felt like I just needed out. I decided to screw the alarm, opened my eyes and grabbed the phone. The second I picked up the phone, the 20 minute alarm went off. Weird, eh?

Hopefully tomorrow I won’t get so anxious. I thought it was supposed to have the opposite effect!

I eventually made it to the gym for a full-body workout. My sister lives about 15-20 minutes walking from the gym. Since I ran yesterday, I just walked briskly for my warm-up, then went straight to the weight room at the gym.

 

Exercise Load Reps Sets Target
One arm dumbbell snatch  20 lbs 8-12 3 Quads, Glutes, Shoulders
Wide-grip lat pulldown  60 lbs 8-12 3 Back
Single leg squat  10 lbs 8-12 3 Glutes, Thighs
Dumbbell bench press  20 ea 8-12 3 Chest, Front shoulders
Single leg romanian deadlift  10 ea 8-12 3 Hamstrings, Glutes, Hips
Dumbbell upright row 12.5 ea 8-12 3 Top shoulder
Curtsy lunge  12.5 ea 8-12 3 Quads
Dumbbell one arm extension 10 lbs 8-12 3 Triceps
Twisting dumbbell curl 10 lbs 8-12 3 Biceps
Cable horizontal woodchop  25 lbs 8-12 3 Obliques
Cable crunch 85 lbs 8-12 3 Abs

Colour coded!! Matching colours are alternating sets. I like to alternate upper body with lower body stuff so I can blast through it with little rest. Tis me! I can already tell you my triceps are going to be sore tomorrow…

Lunch featured another fabulous fridge find.

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Contemporary Cuisine is a wholesale food company based out of Ottawa. I will tell you straight up – this stuff is fabulous. Wonderful flavour, but it’s all in the texture. It’s fluffy. How do they get hummus to go fluffy??

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Paired with pita chips that I made by sticking pita bread in the toaster oven.

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Pipsi
(dried arctic char) and baby carrots.

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T’was a fun dippy lunch!!

Another difference between my sister and I is that she’s a “natural vegetarian.” What I mean by this is she’s drawn to meat-free foods, and functions best on plants. While I initially planned bison burgers for dinner, I thought Sara may appreciate a homemade black bean patty instead.

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I made up the recipe as I went along, and I am really impressed by how they turned out!

  • 1 can no-salt added black beans
  • 1 scoop (30g) unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 a small red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 a small green pepper finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne

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They were a little goopy, so I fried them in olive oil like savoury pancakes ;)

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You couldn’t taste the soy protein powder at all! Impressive!!

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Eaten with baked sweet potato crisps (aka cheetahs).

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…and kale chips.

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Solid meal!! I mixed up mayo and dijon mustard for our dipping sauce. I feel like I must specify that I exclusively use Hellman’s Olive Oil mayonnaise now. I used to buy that light crap, but my mother got me hooked on the good stuff while I was living at home. Now Sara is hooked too. Once you have the Olive Oil, you never go back. You’ve been warned.

After this lovely dinner, Sara and I went to an Intro Ashtanga class at the nearby yoga studio. Third yoga class in three days!! LOVE it. The intro class was really helpful too. The instructor went through and explained all the modified options for many of the more advanced postures in the Ashtanga series. I also learned how much farther I can fold forward when I engage my legs. The workings of the body never ceases to amaze me.

We came back feeling calm and refreshed. I had a hankering for the greek yogurt I splurged on today.

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Paired with crunchy almond butter. Nut butter in regular yogurt is gross. But in greek yogurt it gets really rich and creamy.

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Also added a packet of stevia, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

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Heavenly!!

 

Goal for June

Remember my goal for June?? I set out wanting to accomplish only one thing this month…

to smile.

Clearly there were plenty smiles in Banff, although we’ll forget the tears shed when I left home. I’ll be spending the rest of the month here in Ottawa, and I think I need a reminder to spread my lips wide and show off those gums of mine!!

 

Question of the Day: How are you doing on your goals for this month??

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