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The Cat, The ‘Hood and The Goals

Remember that elusive cat I mentioned in yesterday’s post? Well, I went to bed armed with my camera last night ready for when he made his appearance.

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He’s fast, getting this shot was not easy. 

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You see, my roommates and I have been cat-sitting for a couple weeks now. Mew Mew (the furry one’s given name) has thus far taken refuge in my roommate’s bedroom. But they are both out of town this weekend, which brought Mew Mew wandering into mine.

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Mew Mew does not cuddle or purr. No. He will walk right up to you and aggressively start head-butting you in the face.

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Do not be fooled. This is not “cute.” That is one thick-skulled feline. At one point my eyes starting watering because he conked me right in the nose.

Jerk.

I love all of God’s creatures, but dogs totally rule ;)

Before being attacked, I was reading my current book of choice:

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The first in the Stieg Larsson series, thanks to the several recommendations I got for it in this post. (psst, click on that link and read the comments for tons of great summer books to read!)

Woke up after a glorious 8 hours of sleep with flapjacks on my mind, it’s Pancake Sunday after all ;)

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My protein pancake batter consisted of:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

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For my dipping sauce, I mixed sugar-free syrup with mixed berry jam. Omg. Why don’t I do this more often??

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I really want to make a pun using the word “berry” right now, but I will refrain. Instead, I will just tell you to try this :)

All big plans I had for the day went out the window once it started raining. That paired with it being a Sunday made me want to stay in and tackle some chores!

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When my family visited a few weeks ago, they brought all my stuff from New Brunswick (I only arrived in Toronto with three suitcases). The stuff has been piled in my closets untouched since then. Today, I created rightful spots for everything and my room is beginning to feel a whole lot “roomier.”

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Broke for some Bbq Chicken Pita Pizza. Aka bbq marinated chicken breast on top of a pita with sauce, veggies, cheese, and stuck in the toaster oven for 15 minutes.

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Fact: I have not used the oven since moving to Toronto. It’s too damn hot.

I started to get a little stir crazy after a while and wanted to do something after the rain cleared. In this ginormous new city of mine, that can mean a million things. Out of all the parts of the city I’ve so far explored, ironically I haven’t spent much time in my own neighbourhood!

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I took a couple hours wandering up and down Queen Street East poking my head into antique shops, clothing shops, ice cream shops (not buying, but ya know, scoping out the goods), butchers, cheese shops and bakeries.

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I found this one cute little bakery just off Queen on Logan Ave called Brick Street Bread. They had a million different kinds of artisan loaves, as well as some tasty looking sweets. They are expensive – $5 to $6 per loaf. But they provided samples for many so I knew what I was getting into first. Plus, why can’t a gal treat herself to a loaf of carbs once in a while? ;)

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The girl at the counter said their Organic Basil & Parsley bread is their best seller – but I tried a taste of this Organic European Rye and knew it was mine.

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I lovelovelove rye bread, especially with some good cheese and meat. Sliced it up into quarters and froze it when I got home. That way I can defrost it just a bit at a time.

I stumbled into a cheese shop, but I just could not open my wallet to the high-end prices. I did however find some good sausage.

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Rowe Farms has tons of local, organic, free-from-all-the-bad-stuff meat. Most of it was horrendously priced, but if you looked hard enough, you could find something decent. These four Italian sausages cost me $5.

I continued on to the grocery store where I found my favourite kind of deal…

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Expires on August 19?? Pfft, no problem ;)

I came home hungry after exploring my ‘hood all afternoon, so I whipped up something quick.

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Into a frying pan went:

  • 1 chopped Italian sausage
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1/4 head of green cabbage
  • sliced onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 a zucchini
  • 2 tbsp pizza sauce
  • oregano, basil, parsley

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All topped with cheddar cheese. Solid meal. Loved the sausage.

 

Weekly Goal Check-In!

Ahhh, yes, ‘tis that time of the week already. Let’s see how I’m doing one week into this month’s goals…

1. Eat out twice a week, at no more than $15 a meal. Technically, I only ate out twice. I spent $9 on a Freshii salad on Friday and $14 at the Greek fair on Saturday. However, I also spent $5 on a beer on Thursday and $5 on frozen yogurt on Friday. Does beer and dessert count? I sure hope not :P

2. Read more. I spent close to two hours reading a day this week. I spend a lot of time on public transit reading, then always for a bit before bed. Making progress on that Larsson book!

3. Do at least one outdoor activity a week. All I’ve done is tons of walking, which I’m going to say counts. A few times, I ditched the streetcar or bus and just took the extra 20-30 minutes to walk where I was going.

4. Look for part-time work and volunteer work. Thumbs down!! This week, promise!

5. Update my blog pages. Nope :( But I did get catch up on getting my content up on Healthbuzz.

6. Lose weight. I am by no means back normal, but I’m starting to feel better in skin. Progress. Honestly, I think this past week was my first week in two months where I didn’t eat a meal out every day. That alone made me feel a lot less puffy and better in my clothes. However, the battle still rages on! :P

 

You’re turn!! How did everyone else do on their goals this week??

Working Girl

Before we even get into things, I have to address several comments I got in my last post that deeply concerned me.

Some of you do not know what marshmallow fluff is!!

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Marshmallow fluff my friends, is made up of sugary pillows sent straight from the heavens.

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In all reality, it’s a lot like spreadable marshmallows. Fabulous with anything peanut butter or chocolate related.

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I typically only ever use a tablespoon at a time, which only sets me back 24 calories.

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So there you have it! I typically don’t allow sweets like cookies or pastries in my pantry, but dark chocolate and marshmallow fluff are the two exceptions that must always be made :)

 

You may have noticed that I was MIA again yesterday – and with good reason! I’ve been working! After 2.5 months of being unemployed “between opportunities,” it’s nice to get up and have a job to go to. My days have a sense of purpose again. Plus, I was starting run out of things to complain about ;)

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Monday had a late start, so I took my time preparing my new protein waffle/pancake recipe.

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • several shakes cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/3 cup skim milk (it seems skim milk produces a different consistency than almond, before I used 1/2 cup almond milk)

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These weren’t any ordinary pancakes, ohno.

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I also added a tablespoon each of flaked coconut, walnut pieces and chopped dates.

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Made better only by the presence of iced coffee.

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In these troubling humid times, iced coffee is a must.

Now, y’all know I am not about fancy or complicated recipes. To me, the idea of simple food pairings is tasty enough. On Monday, I got to put together a pairing I’ve been dyyyying to try.

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Watermelon + feta cheese. It was delightful!! I love pairing berries with cottage cheese, or apples with cheddar cheese, and this combo was just as tasty. Watermelon is very sweet and juicy, which paired wonderfully with the saltiness of the feta. Thumbs up!!

I then proceeded to spend the rest of the day training clients at the gym! My very first client that I trained last week was back in and said she already felt a giant increase in energy and gained a ton of confidence at work. After a week! I was brimming with pride for her :D

T’was close to my bedtime by the time I made it home, so I opted for a light and simple dinner.

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A small chunky salad tossed in cottage cheese, feta & hummus. Looks gross, but I assure you, it was awesome.

Before I knew it, my alarm was blaring at 4:30am to get up and ready to hit the gym once again. It was eerily familiar to the days when I worked the morning shift as a radio newscaster.

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My years of getting up at 4am have turned me into a pro for these early mornings. I had these overnight oats and iced coffee waiting for me in the fridge. For the oats, I just mixed up some yogurt with a dash of milk, scoop of oats, raisins, fresh apricot, cinnamon, maple syrup and a dollop of almond butter. The measurements here don’t seem to matter, as I’ve noticed the outcome is always different for everyone. Experiment! :)

Today, I was shadowing one of our best trainers at the gym. He specializes in functional training, something I’m not overly familiar with, so it was really fun and interesting to watch! It’s not something I can see myself specializing in, but I really appreciate aspects of it, and would love to start incorporating more of it into my programs.

Even though I kinda wanted to go back home and pass out, I stuck around the gym for a workout of my own. Full-body:

Straight set x1:
One arm dumbbell snatch 12 x 20 lbs

Alternating sets x3:
One arm dumbbell row 12 x 25 lbs
Plie squat 12 x 25 lbs

Straight set x1:
Alternating Step-up w/ forward knee lift for 1 min
Alternating Step-up w/ back leg lift for 1 min

Alternating sets x3:
Standing one arm cable chest press 12 x 25 lbs
Bulgarian split squat 12 x 10 lbs

Straight set x1:
Mountain climber for 1 min

Alternating sets x3:
Barbell upright row 12 x 30 lbs
Good morning 12 x 45 lbs

Straight set x1:
Reverse lunge w/ forward kick 20 each leg

Alternating sets x2:
Skull crusher 12 x 30 lbs
Barbell curl 12 x 30 lbs

Straight sets x 2:
Plank 60 sec

Whole thing with 15 minutes warm-up on the treadmill and 5 minutes cool-down stretching took me 65 minutes and burned 450 calories. It also left me unable to run up and down the stairs in the subway station without my legs wobbling ;)

After the workout, I was ready to come home and nap. I closed my eyes and fell asleep for what felt like an hour, only to find 10 minutes had passed. I claimed defeat and made lunch.

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Giant kale salad topped with shrimp, egg whites, and a dressing made of pesto/laughing cow/lemon juice. The egg whites were an afterthought, and a delicious one at that! I just zapped half a cup in the microwave and added the bits to the salad. Such an easy and delicious way to add protein.

I also polished off this Chakra Bar that I hate half of on Monday.

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I purposely left the price tag on because $2.99 is pretty frickin’ steep for a granola bar. But if you look closely, there are two servings, which sort of justifies it. And in all honesty, the full bar is kinda huge (110g).

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Not gonna lie, I was attracted to this bar because of the ingredients:

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See that?? The first ingredient is love!! Not any kind of love, but organic love!! I’m such a sucker.

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The spirulina is what makes it green. According to the Chakra Bar website, spirulina  is “a blue-green algae and is known as a green "superfood". It has over 60% digestible vegetable protein, is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals and is a great source of chlorophyll (antioxidant).”

Taste-wise it had that “grassy green” taste to it, but I don’t mind it. It was a little sticky from the syrup, but I liked the additions of the seeds. I probably won’t buy it again because it’s $$$. But it was fun to try!

It is approximately here where I dropped off the face of the planet for three hours.

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I read the final Harry Potter book when it first came out, and forgot completely what happened!! It was like reading a new book all over again. But now I’m depressed it’s all over. Anyone else ever suffer from post-book depression? I think I may stick with this theme and re-read the final books in the Twilight and Golden Compass series. I love children’s fantasy novels, I cannot deny it. Plus, it is summertime and I want something that won’t make me think too hard ;)

I did eventually stumble out of my room, disoriented, to make a quick dinner.

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That would be grilled pork in a mesquite flavouring with a microwaved sweet potato slathered in Heinz BBQ beans. Classy :)

 

Now it is time to get my things ready for another 4am wake-up call. But I’m excited for my morning client. He wants to bulk up, which means some old-school heavy weightlifting, my favourite!!

 

Question of the Day: What’s on your summer reading list? Any recommendations for the class? As Holly would say, sharing is caring!!

A Blogging Fiesta

Hellooo!! How was everyone’s weekend?? Everyone watch the soccer match? Don’t care? I’m indifferent, it’s Tour de France season people!!! :P

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I have this bad habit of walking into bakeries, not to buy anything, but just to drool over the things they have on display. I found one not too far from my new place that had some Toronto-style bagels (as opposed to Montreal style). I asked the clerk what made them Toronto style and she had no idea. Thanks.

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I had one for breakfast on Saturday topped with laughing cow cheese and egg whites.

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I don’t care what style of bagel this is, it was delicious. Getting things fresh from a bakery makes a world of difference. A million times better than any bagged stuff at the grocery store!!

After blogging yesterday, I really did drag my sorry butt to the gym. I told myself I’d take it easy, and that’s just what I did. 35 minutes of sprint intervals on the elliptical, 10 minutes on the rowing machine, and 15 minutes of torture on the stepmill. Amazing how good an hour at the gym can make you feel for the rest of the day!!

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Popped the rest of the tempeh in the toaster oven with chopped onion and bbq sauce. Stuffed it in a pita with feta, tomatoes and romaine.

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I perhaps owe my first born to Lori for introducing me to the bbq-feta combo. SO good!! I still enjoyed the tempeh, however be forewarned, it’s not for everyone. I’ve heard it get compared to stinky feet before.

For dinner I went in the opposite direction. Traded in my vegetarian protein for some animal protein.

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Went to the grocery store and found these pork loins on sale. I then made up the following combination in my head as I browsed the grocery store aisles. Most of my dinners are created that way!

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Seared the chops on either side first, then cut them up and added white kidney beans, whole mushrooms and pesto to the pan.

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Meanwhile, I prepared a salad of simple garden veggies, including beets and olives because they rock my socks.

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You know what happened next…

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Haha, you can see the difference between the low light in my kitchen and the natural light in my living room. Anyways, the pork-bean-mushroom-pesto combo was amazing. Another great grocery store brainwave!!

And would you believe it if I said I was in bed before midnight last night? Yup! My body needed it as it’s still trying to fight off a stupid cold.

I woke up 9 hours later and immediately threw on my running gear for what ended up being a very hot 4-4.5 miles. I’d had intentions of being out earlier to run before the heat set in, but I slept too long!! It actually wasn’t that bad for being my first run in almost two weeks. But I am so happy I didn’t sign up for a half-marathon this year. I can’t imagine training in this heat. I’ll take the stepmill in my air conditioned gym anytime ;)

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I was still sweating even after taking a cold shower. I’d dreamed of thick and fluffy oatmeal pancakes but somewhere something went horribly wrong.

I made my usual protein pancake recipe (with 1/3 cup measurements) and didn’t bother blending it. They stuck to the pan!! I ended up with what looked like scrambled oatmeal.

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Some people may have thrown them out, but not I. Instead, I slathered them in almond butter.

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Then topped with yogurt, strawberries, blackberries and sugar-free syrup.

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And you know what? They tasted fantastic!!

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Best scrambled oatmeal ever. I’d actually make this again and again it was that good.

I made sure not to fill up on too many pancakes though, I had to save my appetite!!

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Suddenly, I don’t feel so strange for taking pictures of my food ;)

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Angela and I decided that a big healthy-living blogger fiesta was in order once I arrived in the city. She picked Calico Cafe based on their yummy looking vegan brunch menu and their ability to take large reservations! SO happy so many people could make it.

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Angela, Jess, Jenn, Therese, Callie

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Jenn, Kristin, Angela, Laura.  

Seriously you guys, how freakin’ lucky am I to be surrounded by so many fabulous women?? Also, anyone else ever notice that healthy living bloggers are always gorgeous and well dressed?? Just sayin!

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I ordered a chai iced tea to drink. Picture on the left was taken with my stock Canon Rebel lens, picture on the right was taken with Callie’s 50mm lens. Apparently they’re only 150 bucks or so and take stunning food photographs! I want one.

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Like many vegan restaurants, the menu at Calico Cafe is very unique. I ended up with a vegan omelette: creamy seitan filling, with potatoes, salad, toast + jam.

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The waiter told me the omelette was a mix of tofu and cornbread, but wouldn’t reveal anything else ;) This was my first time trying seitan and I really enjoyed it. It had a similar texture to tofu and was perfectly spiced in this dish.

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Thank you for coming out everyone!! I had a blast gabbing with them about everything from photography to seaweed to yoga. Next Sunday we’re doing a blogger potluck picnic, so if you couldn’t make it this time, e-mail me at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com for details!! :)

While delicious, my meal wasn’t very filling. I was hungry again by the time I got home.

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Angela was sweet enough to bring Glo Bars for everyone. I pretty much tore into mine the second I bust through the door.

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Impressed by the nutrition stats!

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I really enjoyed the taste of this bar. The peanut butter really stuck out, and the huge chunks of cranberry were nice. I also really dig the incredibly gooey and crispy texture. Thank you Angela!! Hopefully I’ll get to see you in Oakville soon ;)

 

On that note, I am going to wrap up this incredibly long post and leave you to the rest of your day. I’m off to read a book. Don’t be fooled by how smart that statement sounds, I’m reading Harry Potter for the gazillionth time ;)

 

Question of the Day: What was the best thing you ate all weekend?? I love asking this question because I always get such great answers!! Mine was the above “oatmeal scramble.” Kitchen disaster turned kitchen fluke!

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