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Food For Thought Sundays: Sardines

Wait! Don’t click away yet! I know a lot of people get the heebie-jeebies from sardines. But you must hear me out ;)

You actually have Kristin to thank this week’s Food For Thought topic. We were discussing sardines today whilst eating the world’s best pancakes. Alas, the pancakes will have to wait for another day. I’m doing this for your own good.

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First, let’s go over why they’re so awesome. Sardines are one of the best foods out there for Omega 3 fatty acids (behind flax, walnuts and salmon).

Fast facts about Omega 3:

  • It’s an essential fatty acid, meaning our body requires it but can only get it through nutrition.
  • Helps sweep cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death in North America, so nothing to be taken lightly.

Sardines also have as much calcium as yogurt along with a hefty dose of Vitamin D to naturally help absorption.

Sardines are also a fantastic source of Vitamin B12. The most important function of B12 is its role in the formation of red blood cells. It’s found mostly in meats and many vegetarians are deficient in it. Not good.

Now, let’s talk about how you can eat it!

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I am partial to Brunswick Sardines because they come in fun flavours, but also my home province!

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You should be able to find these in many grocery stores around the world – they have a fairly wide distribution.

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One whole can is only 140 calories, 7g fat, 16g protein. This particular one is high in sodium because of the flavouring. Keep an eye out for water-packed cans, they should be lower in sodium.

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It’s also important to know most brands of sardines don’t come with the heads. Just wanted to make that clear, as some people think they do! If that were the case, then I would agree that they’re gross.

I usually mash the fish up right away in the can. You honestly can’t detect any hint of scales or bones when you mash it up. And it’s important to keep those bones in to get the calcium!

My favourite way to eat the tomato sardines is as a base for pita pizzas.

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Melt cheese on anything, and it immediately becomes delicious.

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Like the above plain sardine melt with oregano, chives, mushrooms and mozzarella.

Brunswick also carries a mustard flavour. It makes for a great spread on crackers with some capers and green onion.

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Or with tomato and hummus on a bun…

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My favourite way to eat sardines? Mashed with cream cheese and used as a spread on a sandwich with turkey.

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It adds an amazing dimension of rich flavour to an otherwise boring poultry sandwich.

Sardines are also low in mercury, so they make for a great tuna replacement. Canned sardines are of course the most available, but they’re great fresh too!

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Like topped in pickled onions and pine nuts. Much milder than the canned variety.

So there you have it! A bunch of reasons to give sardines a try if you aren’t already. Remember, sometimes it isn’t about removing stuff from your diet, but rather adding some better stuff in ;)

Question of the Day: Do you eat sardines? What’s your favourite way to have them?

Flashback Friday – One Year as a University Grad

Archie fun fact of the day: he crosses his paws like a lady.

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He looks so pathetic in this picture. He’s just playing it up for the camera ;)

Those protein cookies I had last night were fabbity fab.

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Mixed up 2 tbsp chocolate whey powder, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, packet stevia, vanilla extract and a touch of water. I stuck them in the freezer for about 10 minutes and was left with chocolate-y gooey cookies. Ohmy.

Went to the campus gym again today! The cardio machines suck and the weight area is old school. Big metal dumbbells that clink and rickety old cables. I don’t know why, but I love that. Makes weight lifting feel more hardcore ;)

Today really was an upper body day because my legs hate me lately. Started off with 20 minutes sprint intervals on the elliptical (which by the way, made a high pitched scraping noise with each turn).

Exercise Weight Reps Sets Muscle
Straight sets:        
Assisted pull-up  74 lbs 8-12 3 Back
Alternating sets:        
Romanian deadlift to row  50 lbs 8-12 3 Back, Hamstrings
Arnold press  15 lbs (ea) 8-12 3 Shoulders
Straight set:        
Lunge 15 lbs (ea) 50 1 Quads, Glutes
Alternating sets:        
Dumbbell fly  15 lbs (ea) 8-12 3 Chest, Front deltoid
Incline dumbbell shoulder press  20 lbs (ea) 8-12 3 Shoulder
Straight set:        
Lunge 15 lbs (ea) 50 1 Quads, Glutes
Alternating sets:        
Incline curl  10 lbs (ea) 8-12 3 Biceps
Tricep extension  20 lbs 8-12 3 Triceps

Then hopped on the rowing machine for 5 minutes, finishing off with an ab circuit:

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Working out with students in the weight area is SO funny. At my usual gym, the weight area is filled with people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Most people don’t look twice at you if you do something funny. Dudes at the university gym though are so scared of girls in the weight area. All I got were looks of apprehension. I also watched two guys do nothing but bicep curls for 45 minutes, and have very inappropriate conversations for a public setting!!

Work was kinda slow today – I only have one week left! Crazy. I’m going to be sad to go :(

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Lunch was leftovers from my tofu faux alfredo. May-jah yums!

After next week, I’m going to dedicate my time to getting rid of everything, and taking some things to my mom’s place. Hoping to spend the majority of May living at my mom’s before I take off to the big city. We should be adequately sick of each other by the time I leave :P

I hadn’t had bread all day, so I remedied it at suppertime.

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Mixed up a can of mustard sardines with onions and pickles, and put it on a toasted bun with hummus and a tomato.

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With a thinly sliced red delicious on the side. Sardines are your friend! I’ve worked really hard on getting rid of that animal/food separation in my head. And that means mashing up little fish and devouring them for dinner ;)

 

Flashback Friday – One Year As a University Grad

Almost exactly one year ago today, on April 24, 2009, I handed in my last assignment, marking the end of my undergraduate experience.

My school story is a little different. I graduated high school in 2004 (after attending three high schools, but that is for another post). I moved to my current city to live with my then boyfriend. He was in the army, and I had no plans for my life. I was working at Starbucks at the time, and got transferred to the location here.

I quickly fell into the manager position, and at the age of 18 found myself in a job much too mature for myself. I quickly became unhappy, and after briefly contemplating life as a flight attendant (no joke), I instead applied to university.

I chose the Liberal Arts university because it felt like a good fit. Small, cozy, with lots of English and Political Science classes (my favourites). I enrolled in three classes that January after finishing high school, and immediately fell in love.

Come September, it was clear that I needed to start up full-time and do a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree. One of those first courses I took was “Law in the Media.” I’d taken journalism in high school, but this class really ignited my interest. I had an enthusiastic professor who saw something in me, and I set my sights on journalism and writing.

By this time, my high school boyfriend and I had parted ways. I had a solid group of friends I met through Starbucks, and I settled into life here. I narrowed my focus on being the best goddamn journalist I could be, and didn’t take a step back until I’d graduated, 4.5 years later.

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One week after graduating university, I started working full-time in a permanent position as a radio reporter. I barely had time to catch my breath, I just kept speeding forward on that path I decided on so many years ago.

I’d had inklings, or rather, a gut feeling, that this wasn’t the life for me. But I continued on because that’s what “sane” people do. Well, I’m not sane. And settling into a life that was not for me drove me even more insane. I wanted to stick it out in that first job for a year, but after six months I realized that for the sake of my mental health, I needed to call it quits.

Most of you know the story from here. I reverted back to my old job at Starbucks, was seen working there and got offered my current job, decided to turn my real passion of fitness, writing and helping others into a job, and leave the city that was never really my home.

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If you had told me one year ago, after handing in that last assignment, where I am today, I wouldn’t have believed it. My post-grad journey as been more of a detour. But it was a learning process I wouldn’t trade in for the world. I’ve always been the type of person who is just a smidge unsatisfied. But words can’t describe how excited I am about what the future holds. My life is pretty messy, but I have peace of mind now knowing that I’m finally doing something that feels right. 

So all you soon-to-be graduates out there: now is your time to pursue your dreams and make mistakes. DO IT. And don’t regret a thing along the way :)

 

Question of the Day: Did you have any detours to bring you where you are today? To be honest, I don’t think my detours are over. I’m definitely taking the scenic route ;)

Flashback, er, Tuesday

Yesss! Tuesday is over my friends! It’s all uphill from here: Waffle Wednesday, Thursday night out, Friday night in :) Love that weekly outlook. I just found out I might have to work on Saturday but that means I can take a day off to go see a concert next week. Plus! I just volunteered to help out at an indoor triathlon on Sunday! I was tempted to register myself, but I haven’t swum since my last triathlon in July. Eeep.

I know I say it a lot but, I do not cheerily leap out of bed every morning excited to go to the gym. I was in a deep sleep when my alarm went off this morning and it was tough going. But I went! I hammered out 6 miles on the treadmill while watching The Hour. It’s a Canadian show, but I’m deluded into thinking George Strombolopolous really is my boyfriend. It made the time spent on the ole ‘mill much more enjoyable.

I’m still grocery-free this week, but I broke and bought some cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese sticks and applesauce on sale at the drugstore today. Breakfast was thrown together last night with what I could muster from the pantry…

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My new favourite sandwich! A protein peanut butter sandwich to be exact. Chocolate protein powder mixed with a little water so it’s “spreadable” with peanut butter. Try it. You won’t regret it.

I also whipped up a new batch of homemade protein bars in 5 minutes flat last night.

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  • 2 cups dry rolled oats
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 6 tbsp peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp blueberry jam
  • 1/2 cup water

I definitely added too much water to these, as they need to be kept frozen. The jam always adds more moisture than I predict. Mega yummy though. Take that Luna bar.

Lunch was more mystery freezer food!

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Once heated up, I was able to identify it as the Bean and Vegetable Chili I made back in January.

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I obviously un-veg-ified it by adding turkey ;) I was impressed by how well the eggplant and zucchini held up in the freezer – it was delicious!

Afternoon snack involved a lot of boiled eggs and cheese and I was still starving come quittin’ time. Called for a speedy dinner…

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What looks like a pita pizza is actually sardines in a tomato sauce spread on a pita with tomatoes, basil, oregano. The “cheese” is hummus mixed with nutritional yeast and a little bit of water.

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Sardines are your friend. Good fats and calcium. Just think of it as a milder tasting tuna.

I also came home to some exciting mail!!

First, one of my fave bloggie friends, Lori, sent me some raw shea butter for my legs.

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My shins and calves are seriously dry/itchy/rash-y and not getting much better. So Lori generously sent me some shea butter to help out! Perfect timing too, as I also bought baby oil, more cream and antihistamines today to help clear it up. I am now on a strict skincare regimen. Something I’ve fallen out of the habit of doing since I started showering at the gym everyday.

My other package almost brought me to tears. It was a card and letter from my Grammie (my dad’s mother, as opposed to my Nana who is my mom’s mom).

Enclosed was a photograph of her when she was 16!!

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Look at those legs!! I guess that’s where I get mine from ;) In the letter, my Grammie went into detail about what life was like for her when she was 16. It was during the Second World War and she was learning how to help with the war effort in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

One thing that has always kept me in the Maritimes is how close I am with my grandparents. I’m lucky enough that my four grandparents were like extensions of my own parents. I grew up with my mother’s parents in the same city as us. I would often pretend to be sick so I could spend my days at Nana and Papa’s while my mom was at work. In the summer, we moved out to my cottage where my father’s parents were literally 14 steps away just next door. I would wake up every morning, run over to their cottage, and spend the day reading comics, eating ice cream and playing cribbage.

When my Papa passed away in January 2007, reality sunk in that my grandparents won’t be around forever. I was lucky that I lived close enough to home that I could be with my mom and Nana during that time, as it was pretty traumatic for them.

My number one fear moving away is that something is going to happen to one of my three remaining grandparents and I won’t be able to make it back. But in today’s letter, my Grammie wrote, “I know I could have never been as adventurous as my granddaughters are!”

It brought a smile to my face, learning they live vicariously through our adventures. Between me and my two sisters, there’s been a lot! I don’t feel so bad now, knowing my grandparents would never want to hold me back. And also knowing that we all cherish the time spent together when we were younger :)

Speaking of being younger, my Grammie also included this horribly embarrassing photo of my sisters and I…

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I’m the one in the striped shirt being dramatic. Apparently I was quite the entertainer – now I prefer being the audience!

 

Question of the Day? Did you know your grandparents? What was special about them? If my dad is the smartest person I know, then my Papa was the funniest person I knew. Now he was an entertainer ;)

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