Blog Archives

Life in a Jar

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Going through my food photos, I noticed this one from last week that I never shared with you. I swear, it’s not because I am ashamed of it.

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That would be oatmeal in a Fluff jar topped with chocolate peanut butter and strawberries. The fluff melts and becomes a sweet syrup. SO good.

Apparently, oats in a jar continued to be a popular breakfast into this week.

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Either that, or I have a tendency to blow through fluff and peanut butter at the same pace ;)

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One of my pet peeves used to be the hard bits of nut butter at the bottom of the jar, but putting oatmeal in it solves that problem. What’s that purple stuff in there you ask?

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Jam of course!! When you’re out of fluff, jam is the next best thing to pair with PB ;)

This morning I got a grip on myself and ate breakfast out of a bowl.

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Yogurt with protein powder, dry oatmeal, cinnamon, blueberries, almond butter, and the kicker…

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Mint. If I could keep plants in the house without killing them, mint would be my herb of choice. Not just for the mojitos, but it makes for an excellent yog-mess topper!

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In a perfect world, blueberries would also be in season all year round ;)

You may recall that I tried fresh figs for the first time not that long ago, and wasn’t that impressed.

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Well, those were black figs. This weekend I spotted some green figs and decided to give them another try.

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Verdict? Much better! The center was a lot sweeter and more flavourful. Thumbs up!

I may not be baking much these days, but I sure am making lots of summery salads!

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I meant for this to be a quinoa salad, but when I opened my cupboard all I had was pearl barley. I still think quinoa will be better, thus, that’s what I’m putting in the recipe ;)

Hearty Tofu Quinoa Summer Salad

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small sweet potato, cut in 1cm cubes
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 block tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp dried chilis

Cook the quinoa, sweet potato and tofu in the water for around 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and let chill in the fridge for several hours (one day is best to let the flavours come out!)

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I tossed some of the leftovers with spinach, zucchini, green pepper and tomatoes today for lunch. Yumyum!! I am aalll about the protein packed summer salads these days ;)

Supper wasn’t quite as successful.

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It started good – a Rowe Farms Italian Sausage on toasted rye bread from Brick Street Bread.

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Both are exceptionally tasty, made better only by the addition of ketchup, mustard and sauerkraut.

But then there was this pile of green…

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I normally love piles of green food. I though this frozen broccoli rapini would be no different. For lack of a better word, ick. It was chewy. Could not chew enough to swallow and the taste wasn’t that great. I get rapini is not one of those veggies that freezes well…

 

I also have some big news!!

Two pieces of news actually…

First, I finally picked out something to wear to the Healthy Living Summit Cocktail party.

Yes, this is big news :P

You have no idea how much mental energy I have put towards worrying about this stupid outfit. I am not a fashionista. Apart from whether or not it wicks moisture, I do not care about my clothing to any great extent. I think it comes more from the fact that I’m cheap and can’t bring myself to spend my hard-earned bucks on expensive pieces of material.

I had a few old dresses I thought I could wear to the event, but I didn’t feel right in any of them. And I’m all about feeling good in your own skin. You will have to wait till Friday to see my new $30 dress :)

Also, apparently everyone is wearing yoga pants during the sessions on Saturday. But I haven’t worn pants since I was in Alberta two months ago. I would have to disagree with the Gap and say that I do indeed look good in shorts. Anyone ever do yoga in jean shorts? :P

 

Okayokay, now on to the news that’s actually important…

I’m getting a Nutrition & Wellness Specialist certification!

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a loooong time and the time is finally right. I’m doing it through Can-Fit-Pro, the same as my personal training certification. I’ll be given a textbook and take a weekend of classroom instruction at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.

Right now, my hands are kind of tied as a personal trainer when it comes to nutrition advice. The new certification will allow me to give nutrition counselling and advising on top of creating fitness programs so my clients will sort of have the whole package. Diet is such a huge part of the fitness and health journey, it’s important that people get some info on that too!

My classes are in September and my exam in October. This is just another part of what will be a long education journey for me, I can’t wait! :)

 

Question of the Day: Are you a fashionista? What’s your favourite piece of fashion advice? One that I always follow is that I never show off my upper and lower parts at once. If I’m wearing a short skirt, then I pick a modest top. If I’m wearing a low-cut shirt, then I’ll go with something longer on the bottom.

Tips For Staying Healthy in College

You guys. I feel so much closer to you all now. You love waffles as much as I do!!! <—click for a chance to win a free waffle maker ;)

I also have to thank everyone for the congratulatory comments about my becoming a certified personal trainer. I swear I woke up feeling different today! John asked if I’d be like Jillian (Michaels, for those of you who aren’t on a first-name basis with her like John and I). I joked back that I’m more of a Bob (Harper). But really, I can’t wait to be ME! Hopefully I can bring all my personal experiences, attributes and knowledge to the table and create a training experience that’s unique.

Heidi asked if I have any idea where I’d like to work. Answer: not a clue. Honestly, at this point, I will take whatever I can get in Toronto. Yes, there are more jobs there, but there’s also more competition. So far I’ve been applying to jobs in my various fields – writing, communications, barista, fitness. My dream job is of course to be the columnist that appears after Tosca (Reno) in Oxygen. But realistically, I think I really want to give this training thing a shot! Even just doing it on the side for some extra $$. Preferably at a chain where the clients are provided for me. At least until I get some more experience and confidence to try other things. So that’s where I’m at!

Lunch.

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I am all over the fruity/salmon combo. Salmon lends itself well to sweet flavours to begin with, and this is becoming a favourite!

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I microwaved the remnants of a bag of frozen berries with some maple syrup.

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And put it on top of smoked salmon and english muffin. It was missing the usual laughing cow, but beyond that was stellar. If you’re a salmon fan I urge you to try it!

I spent the morning taking out the TWELVE bags of garbage to the curb, and loading up some of my car. Then it started to rain. Then I really wanted to go to the gym, I didn’t yesterday. So I said “screw it” to packing and cleaning and hit the iron. I think this is the first time I felt guilty for actually going to the gym! :P

It was a momentous gym visit too – my first one as a personal trainer. (I’ll stop this, eventually). Even more fun is that I ran into a girl I did my PT classes with and we squealed over passing. Good times :) Oh right! My workout!

Warm-up: 15 minutes on elliptical, increasing resistance

Superset x3
Lat pulldown (mid-back)
Barbell Sumo squat (quads, glutes)

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Barbell bench press (pecs, front delts, triceps)
Barbell split squat (quads, glutes, adductors, soleus)

Superset x3
Arnold press (deltoids, traps, triceps)
Stiff leg deadlift (hamstrings, glutes, lower back)

Superset x3
Cable pushdown (triceps)
Cable bicep curl (biceps)

Superset x3
Cable horizontal woodchop (obliques)
Hanging leg raises (lower abs)

And then some stretching. Totally worth putting off packing for. I felt SO much better after. I just hope I’m not paying for it when I’m trying to move boxes tomorrow.

Came home and refuelled with some beer a smoothie.

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The healthiest drink to be in a Molson draught glass I’m sure – soy milk, Vega smoothie infusion, a banana, ice, and 1/2 tsp each of guar and xanthan gum.

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For my girl JB!! (soontobeJG) Even worse than posting a smoothie stache photo post workout, is going into the Bulk Barn a sweaty mess after in my workout leggings. Classy. This is what I’ve become in my unemployment.

The rest of the afternoon was spent tearing around town tying up loose ends before I blow this joint tomorrow. Stopped by the old office where they gave me a card that almost brought me to tears. My old officemate was my “victim” yesterday for my practical. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to share these past four months with!!

Anyways, I did eventually pull it together. Picked up my new antibiotics for my legs *unenthusiastic yayyyy*

I’m down to the very last pieces of fresh food in my fridge/freezer.

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A turkey breast sliced up and coated in egg whites, panko bread crumbs, Kirkland no-salt seasoning.

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And roasted sweet potato slices.

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Aka cheetahs because they have spots! Check out the salt on those suckers too – love coarse sea salt :)

And while we’re talking about food – I added a recipe page for my Homemade Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars.

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I’m eating one right now!

Tips for Staying Healthy in College

Now on to an e-mail that I just had to share.

I’m studying journalism at University and since beginning a little over eight months ago, have gained nearly five kilos!  I think you use pounds, so that is like i guess 12 pounds?  I know that you went through something similar when you started at College, and I was wondering if you had any tips or exercises that you found useful?  It is hard with the whole drinking, hamburger eating, nights out in the pub culture.
Thanks so much.
Vanessa.

 

Now before I even delve into this, I feel like I should say, I’m no expert on staying healthy in college. I made a lot of mistakes and some bad choices, but in the end did find a few things that worked for ME.

1. Use the campus gym. Most universities have free gym access that hardly any students (besides those on teams) use. I did a lot of my weight lifting workouts during a 90 minute break between classes Mon-Wed-Fri. Remember, even going to the gym for 20 minutes is better than not going at all – it adds up!

2. Walk to class. I gained the bulk of my weight when I bought a car and stopped walking everywhere. If it’s less than 20 minutes away, walk there!

3. Join a sports team. If there’s one thing I would have changed about my university experience, I would have joined the cross country team. Joining a team isn’t just a great way to socialize and meet friends, but it’s also a great way to get exercise and stay active on top of school work.

4. Drink smart and drink slow. Don’t go to the pubs and guzzle back 6 beer on $2 draught night. Find a “light” drink that works for you. Mine is whisky and water. A single has 60-70 calories, and is strong enough that I can’t chug it back. Other great ones are vodka and club soda (NOT tonic, it’s sweetened!!), rum and diet coke, light beer. Or you can just order a diet pop and skip the booze altogether.

5. Find light options at all the late-night hangouts. When I first started losing weight, I googled the nutritional value of foods at many of the local eateries. I wrote down some lighter options for each one and kept it in my wallet. That way, if I ever found myself out with friends who had to eat at this one spot, I wasn’t thrown off guard and had an idea of what to order. If you know the 2am visit to the pizza joint is inevitable, find something on the menu other than a big slice that you can have without breaking the calorie bank.

6. Use working out as a method of procrastination. This worked fabulously for me ;) Going to the gym and sweating for an hour always sounded more appealing than reading about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for an hour.

7. Be honest. I experienced a lot of peer pressure in university, it just comes with the environment. You’d be surprised by how many people will stop bugging you when you tell them avoiding the freshman 15 is more important to you than spaghetti night at the cafeteria.

8. Don’t be too strict. University is meant to be enjoyed (well, in between all the stressful parts). Don’t ever, ever skip out on a social function because you’re scared of the food or drinking. I did this, and I regret it. I got smarter toward the end. I realized that being able to go out and have a beer with my friends was more important to me than being my dream size. I’ll take a few good belly laughs over a size 2 any day. Just like I never regret a workout, I never regret hanging out with my friends :)

 

Hopefully that helps Vanessa!

 

Question of the Day: Any tips you want to add to the list? As Holly would say, “sharing is caring!”

The Good Stuff

In my next life, I’m coming back as a dog.

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I could totally keep up with Archie’s schedule of sleeping all day. Instead – I studied all day!

Was up a little late watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last night. That’s my new fave show. “The Naked Chef” used to air after school when I was in middle school, and I will always credit it for teaching me how to be passionate about food. The man doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll be leaving his wife for me :P

Anyways, there’s no clock in my room, and I magically woke up 8 hours after drifting to sleep. Perfection!

Dug through my mom’s fridge and came up with this for breakfast:

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I found sesame ezekiel bread in the freezer! Better than finding a $20 bill on the side of the road :P

Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Sesame Bread

This bread is seriously like gold – two pieces have 160 calories, 28g carbs, 6g fibre, 8g protein. However, it’s also priced like gold – $5 a pop. Too rich for my blood, hence the joy when I discovered it.

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Butter was used on both the toast and frying pan for the eggs. Mmmm…

My mom went off to exercise class this morning while I stayed home. Boo! My body’s due for a rest day, and my cold is progressing. I’ve gone from a sore throat, to sore throat and runny nose. It’s all pretty mild though, hoping it gets through all the stages quickly.

Instead, I studied! I studied all freakin’ day. There is SO MUCH material I need to know for my personal training test next weekend. I’m starting to get nervous I won’t be able to cram it all in my brain.

My morning snack did not fall into the healthy category – but I wanted a treat.

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President’s Choice Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Equalizer bar.

The ingredient list might take a while to read…

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Overall it was okay.

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I don’t eat these types of protein bars much anymore, so when I do I want something that’s really good and worth the splurge. This, while chocolatey and edible, wasn’t quite worth it. But ya never know till you try!

Dug around my mom’s fridge some more for lunch and came up with this:

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Turkey salad pita with celery, carrots and cream cheese (better than Cheez Whiz!)

I found this bouquet sale in my mom’s fridge. I have no clue what it is, a rub or tapenade of sorts?

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Mostly made up of veggie bits, and only 5 calories a tablespoon.

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Plus, it smelled darn good so I scooped a bunch into my turkey salad, which already had some mustard, cucumber dressing, onions and celery.

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Whoooa nelly, it was salty. I got so excited to see it was only 5 cals per tbsp, I somehow missed the 510 mg of salt!! Whoops. My “palette” is sensitive to salt to begin with, so it was overload. Didn’t stop me from polishing it off though ;)

Mark (mom’s boyfriend) found some honey lemon tea for me to help the cold along.

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Drank out of one of my mother’s famed monarchy mugs.

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Yes, we are Anglican monarchists. I could also probably identify the characters on Coronation Street for you. Wished this tea was Earl Grey because honey lemon sucks. Blech. Tastes like Neocitran, Soothed the throat though!

Mom and I teamed up for dinner. She made baked chicken breast with a crazy good mushroom gravy.

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For the gravy, she simmered 1/2 a can of Campbell’s low-fat cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, mushrooms and onions.

Mommy dearest also assembled the Greek salad.

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She buys the good olive oil as well. The stuff that’s actually green. Really, at this rate, she’s lucky I haven’t moved back home yet.

My contribution?

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Cheetahs! Sliced sweet potato sprinkled with salt and chili powder, baked in a 450 F oven for 20-30 minutes. My mom also mashed some taters. Deeeelish meal. Even the kids ate it up.

That’s all from me today! I’m super stiff from studying all day, so I’m going to go stretch out a bit before hitting the books again. Hoping to get lots more sleep tonight so I’m good enough to sneak in a workout and visit to my Nana tomorrow. Will play it by ear. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!! xoxo

 

Question of the Day: What is one grocery item you must splurge on? What is one you won’t? Protein powder is always my most expensive grocery item, but it’s one I refuse to give up. I cannot bring myself to buy expensive frozen dinners though ($6 Amy’s bowls, I’m looking at you).

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