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Hot and Cold

Hi! Remember me? It’s been a while. And by “been a while,” I mean two days. Good news is that we now have the internet!! Yayyy!!! Now I can live stream the Tour de France which makes me a very happy girl indeed.

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The simple eats continue, especially considering this heat we’re in. The idea of putting anything in an oven sounds suicidal.

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Monday night I made a big pot of sumthin’ in preparation for the heat wave. Always nice to have a ton of leftovers that I can just pop in the microwave when I don’t feel like cooking! Featured above is a mix of quinoa, black beans, tofu and frozen veggies. For those two bowls, I mixed it with salsa + laughing cow cheese.

I have also spent many more hours internetting in my new favourite cafe.

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Many lightly sweetened iced teas and coffees have been consumed. However, I’ve learned that if I come with rations, I can stay away from the delicious looking baked goods they sell :)

While I may not have been blogging, I was most certainly talking about blogging with another blogger. Bloggity blogging bloggers.

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Kristen from Cook, Bake, Nibble!! We’ve been planning to get together ever since I first announced I was moving to Toronto. We couldn’t wait until the big meet-up on Sunday!

We’d originally planned on going to a specialty pizza place, but it was closed. Really, it was just a sign that we needed to re-visit Fresh.

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I was tempted to get another immunity boost juice to help my cold along, but I also wanted to try something different. After much debate, I ended up with the hangover helper:  orange, banana, ginger, spirulina, wheatgrass. I hoped the wheatgrass would help “the sickness” and having a cold can sometimes feel like a hangover anyways ;)

More debate ensued over what to eat. Kristen and I were both feeling salads – must be the heat!!

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Not surprisingly, I went for the Super Protein Salad: chick peas, grape tomatoes, cucumber, grilled tempeh & our high protein omega rich *salad topper on salad greens (*puffed quinoa, goji berries, currants, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds & sea salt).

The protein mix sounded too unique to pass up! I got the house dressing (apple cider vinegar, tamari, lemon juice, mustard, garlic & organic flax oil) and really enjoyed it. The tempeh was amazing and the puffed quinoa added a really cool texture to the mix. So creative!

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I must also thank Kristen for putting up with my incessant hacking and nose blowing. Hopefully I’ll be better for the meet-up on Sunday! Kristen is super bubbly and loves chatting about food as much as I do. I see many Toronto eating adventures in our future!!

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Today is Waffle Wednesday. An occasion I was excited to celebrate in my new place, but it was not meant to be. I forgot to buy baking powder. Oops!

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Egg white french toast was the next best thing. Smothered in a sauce made up of mashed banana, peanut butter, maple syrup and cinnamon.

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No waffles, but just as tasty. You can’t really go wrong with eggs and bread :)

After this I went to the gym! Notable, because Monday was my first day there in 5 days, and then I couldn’t bring myself to go back on Tuesday. Monday’s weightlifting sesh was a little on the brutal side. I was coughing and snotting all over the place, which is not very sanitary given the environment. Today I went back and did a “moderate” cardio workout on the elliptical, rowing machine and stepmill. Much better. I’m still sick, but I left feeling good! Yay!

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The gym also provided a nice air-conditioned escape from the heat. I hope you runners are being careful out there!! I came home starving and immediately hit up those leftovers – this time dressed with black olives, feta and hummus, eaten as a cold salad.

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“Baked” sweet potato (ie microwaved for 6 minutes) topped with cottage cheese.

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The perfect hot weather meal!!

Ohyes, and many of these:

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Iced tea to beat the heat, and soothe my sore throat.

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And, erm, gelato for the same reasons mentioned above ;) Half melted from the two-second walk home (yes, I now also live a hop, skip, and a roll from a gelato place – danger!). Went for coconut raspberry and blood orange flavours. Might I add it also worked perfectly to cool me down. Well, the word “cool” is rather relative these days.

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite way to stay cool in the summer heat? I know we’re not the only ones in a heat wave! I’ve definitely been enjoying a couple cold showers day :)

Toronto Restaurant Tour: Round 1

Aaaaand I’m back.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!! Mine was action-packed, which would have been fabulous if I wasn’t coughing up a lung. After two months of living out of suitcases, sleeping in strange beds, and literally traveling across a continent, my body is finally saying “enough.” Okay body, you win. Instead of exercising, I’ve been feeding it. There seems to be no better way to celebrate moving to Canada’s biggest city than a weekend of testing out all the wonderful food it has to offer.

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There’s a lovely place down the street that serves cheap big salads. I don’t use the term “big salad” loosely, it is definitely Susan-sized.

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They also have a wood-fired stove and have really good pizza. Lots of toppings, amazing crust. Good price. I can see myself coming here a lot :)

Also close by is this quaint little coffee shop, where I currently sit, filled with comfy chairs and a welcoming staff.

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Pictured is a chocolate cinnamon pastry of sorts. It tasted much better than it looks. Their pastries are all dense, but super flaky, which in my opinion is the best way to have them. Apparently they come from a popular bakery in Toronto called Miss Cora’s Kitchen.

Remember that giant enchilada from our first day here?? Well Sara and I got two more meals out of it.

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For breakfast on Saturday, we cut the leftovers in half and topped each with a fried egg. Voila! A Mexican breakfast! This was SO filling. Eggs + beans + cheese = no hunger signals for five hours.

Once again, the sustenance was required, for we had another long day ahead of us.

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Shopping!! Sara and I had big plans of starting on Queen West and making our way to the second-hand shops in Kensington. But we never made it off the first street!! I picked up some very cute items which I’m sure you will see over the course of the summer. My wardrobe was reduced to one suitcase before I left New Brunswick, so my circulation these days is pretty small :P

We eventually started to get the hunger tickle around 2pm. Sara mentioned there was a great place called Fresh around the corner and I jumped. I’ve heard all about this place from Angela!

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It’s a pretty popular vegan restaurant in Toronto that also offers up great juices. I highly suggest you peruse their menu. It was so hard deciding on something!!

I started with a juice.

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I’m not a huge juice person, but I thought it couldn’t hurt with my wicked cold. Went with the Immune Boost: carrot, beet, apple, ginger, vitamin C, echinacea.

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It was actually really good! Only complaint is that it was warm, could have used a few ice cubes.

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Sara started with a carrot coriander soup.

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Which I had many bites of, for the sake of “the sickess.” The toasted coconut on top was a nice touch.

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Sara also ordered a big salad, but I can’t for the life of me remember what kind it was. The crispy tofu on top was really good though!

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Fresh is famous for their “bowls” so I knew it’s what I had to go for. I settled with the Jerusalem: hummus, grilled spinach, tomato, cucumber, parsely, red onion, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, mixed herbs, lemon & chili powder.

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I asked for it on soba noodles, but they brought it rice. I also asked for marinated tofu cubes for extra protein. It was a huge bowl!! I couldn’t finish it. Which is saying a lot.

The waitress asked me if I wanted hot sauce and I thought why not…

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I have no idea what this hot sauce was, but it was good!! Fresh will definitely be a re-visit for me :)

The eating didn’t end there though, ohno. By 6:30 we’d made our way to Lemongrass too meet up with our Aunt Heather. Apparently it was the first Thai restaurant to open in the city!

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We all started with a spring roll appetizer, I went for the “non-crispy” kind with chicken.

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That peanut dipping sauce was to die for. Omg. It took everything I had not to stick my finger in it and just eat it that way.

The three of us then split three dishes:

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Holy Basil Crab. Delicious, but super messy to get into. The crab wasn’t shelled but covered in sauce. Tricky!!

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Bok choy. The token green.

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Pad thai. With chicken and shrimp. I’m not a huge noodle person, but really enjoyed this!

My plate:

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My plate, times two. 

Dessert was honey ginger tea, again, for the sake of “the sickness.”

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This tea was SO good!!! Not my usual kind of flavour, but I would get it again and again. I have a feeling they made it themselves with real honey and ginger, and not from a tea bag.

Me and Heather!

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Thank you for everything Heather!! I’ve already promised to take her out to “Toronto’s #1 gelato place” when I get my first pay check :)

The family bonding didn’t stop there. We then rushed off to meet up with my two cousins, one of which was my bestie growing up.

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Some of my best childhood and teenage memories were shared with Ellen! I’m super excited to be in the same city as her again. We’re amidst cooking up a stellar fitness plan, so I foresee more fun times in our future :) I may be leaving some family behind, but it’s pretty nice to be close to other family now!

In all, Sara and I were out and about for 12 hours yesterday, leaving at noon and returning at midnight. Thanks to a newly bought eye mask, I conked out for a solid 8. I could have slept longer, but alas, we had more eating engagements to attend.

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Sara was super excited about brunch today at the Free Times Cafe. As soon as we arrived, I understood why.

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The owner started chatting with us and said she started the Sunday brunch years ago as a nod to a huge brunch your Jewish grandmother may have made. Everything is made at the cafe, including the breads and smoked fish. Yesplease.

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First trip included pita, hummus, beet salad, a pickle, some crab cake thingy.

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Challah french toast and smoked salmon scrambled eggs. The french toast was my favourite of this plate. I’ve been told that challah is the best bread for french toast and I am now a believer!!

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Potato latke topped with an apple sauce and a cheese blintz topped with a berry sauce. The latke was amazing because it was deep-fried. And let’s face it, deep frying things makes them delicious. The blintz I could have gone without. The texture was weird and I didn’t like ricotta. Not for me I guess!

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Did I mention there was live Klezmer music?? There was live Klezmer music.

Second plate!

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I missed some of the breads the first time around, so I grabbed two pieces. One topped with a homemade smoked salmon cream cheese the other with havarti and smoked herring. In the back was my second favourite thing from the buffet – a beet and smoked herring salad. Sounds strange but it was dreamy!! I think the base for it was cream cheese or sour cream or something. Awesome.

The desserts!

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Not entirely sure what all of these are. The thing in the back is an apple streudel of sorts. The pinwheel in the front had a date puree. The chocolate square was like a chocolate mousse cake (excellent). That brown clump was pretty interesting. My first thought was that it was a butterscotch fudge thinky, but it had little sugary pieces in it reminiscent of cotton candy!! Sara said it could have been halvah, but I’m not sure if it fits the bill. Anyone out there know??

 

Well, that just about wraps up my first weekend of eating in the city!! I’ve already been exposed to so much new food, and it’s only just a small microscopic dent in what Toronto has to offer. However, once I hit publish, I’m walking down to the closest store to pick up a giant bunch of kale to make a green salad the size of my head. I am then going to lay in bed reading a book for the rest of the night. It would be nice if I no longer sound like I smoked a pack of cigarettes and downed a pint of Jack Daniels before my job interview tomorrow!! Operation: Get a Job is now in full swing. Wish me luck – I might need it!

 

EDIT: Don’t forget! There’s a Toronto meet-up happening next Sunday. E-mail me at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com for details!

Food. Good food. And lots of it.

Bonjour!! I am in a bilingual city, I can say that here ;)

Wonderful questions and feedback on my last post: Ripped Arms: A How-To Guide. I made some clarifications in the comments section if any of you are interested. In terms of designing an arm workout, 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps of each a shoulder exercise, triceps exercise and biceps exercise, 1-3 times a week, is enough to do it. Got that? Just don’t forget about your other muscles too! ;)

I also got a great comment from Averie:

10 yrs of yoga gave me a foundation for everything, 4 mos of lifting is giving me some size :)

Couldn’t agree more. If you’re already athletic, but still want to see more arm definition, heavy weight lifting will get you where you want to be in no time.

Now this is where I seamlessly transition to talking about FOOD.

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I really just want to show this pic of Sunday’s breakfast because my toes are stealing some of the spotlight in the bottom right of the frame :P One of the reasons why I love reading food blogs, as opposed to professional food publications, is the level of “real life” you get from photos such as these. Hello toes!

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Rainier cherries are continuing to rock my face off. They taste milder than regular ones.

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The last of my homemade rosemary yogurt biscuits topped with eggs and bacon. If it’s been a while since you last had this combination, I highly suggest you get on it. This is the best post-run weekend breakfast. The HEAB-ster just posted an even easier biscuit recipe just in case ;)

 

Okay, now that we are done ogling at breakfast, I must introduce you to Sunday’s lunch!! Sister Sara had tickets for a play and the theatre is conveniently located across the street from an amazing vegetarian buffet called The Table. I grabbed a little scoop of everything that struck my fancy. I’m a sampler.

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Beet salad and carrot ginger salad.

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A tofu patty topped with this sweet & sour onion sauce. They were highly recommended.

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Some sort of black bean loaf.

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Braised onions, roasted mushrooms and a tofu skewer.

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As well as a bit of lentil quinoa salad and dandelion greens. The salads were a little lacklustre (surprisingly!). The hot foods were my favourite. Especially the braised onion and tofu patty. I want to recreate both!!

As we were leaving, Sara heard that you get 20% off if you’re going to see a play. We’d already paid, but we wanted our discount!! So we went back after the play for tea and dessert :)

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I was still stuffed from my meal, so I stopped myself from grabbing a gazillion cookies and went with what looked unique.

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Not your typical coconut pie. It was surprisingly light and fluffy, not at all chewy like a macaroon. A touch bland though, so I topped it with this:

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Vegan rice pudding. I’m assuming it was made with coconut or soy milk. Made for an excellent pie topping actually!

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Apple & mixed berry crumble with whipped cream. This was my favourite of the desserts. You can never go wrong with cooked apples.

And the tea!

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The perfect flavour to pair with the desserts I’d chosen. I love me some chai!

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Sara being her usual social butterfly self.

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Me, being my usual contemplative self.

Another highlight from Sunday was biking down to one of Ottawa’s beaches. It may take a while for the idea of a beach not meaning “ocean” to sink in.

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Sara and her sweet new bike pump. She’s a cycling queen.

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Me just looking awkward :P My biking adventures in Ottawa have been my first of the season. It would be an understatement to say they came with a little apprehension. In fact, I had a moment of sheer panic within minutes of being back on the bike. But yesterday I started to feel relaxed again and less like I was chained to a death trap. Also impressed by how strong my legs got over the winter – hills are nuthin’ to me now!

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Because of my new-found ease, we opted to take the long way home and enjoy some of the (weird) sights Ottawa has to offer.

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Inukshuks on the river!!

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Clearly, we had to stop and take silly photos with them.

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I just wish I’d read this sign first. I maaaaay have decapitated a statue :\

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Today’s breakfast had a significant lack of biscuits.

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Eggs and bacon were instead eaten between two seedy pieces of bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato.

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I made a fruit salad for us using watermelon, banana, cherries, lime juice and some of this stuff:

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Peppermint honey!

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From Alberta! It was very pepperminty, but added a nice refreshing kick to the salad.

Let’s see… there was also a notable breakfast dessert.

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I love that my sister agrees with me that it is very important to have quality chocolate in the house at all times.

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Camino Coconut gets a thumbs up!

It took me a really long time to get motivated to go the gym today. I am having motivation issues lately. I’m thinking it may be resolved once I finally get settled in Toronto (moving Thursday!). Until then, I forced myself to do a full-body lifting workout.

Started with a 10-minute run to the gym. I did three sets and 10 reps of everything. Colour-coded to indicate which exercises were supersetted together (ie no rest in between alternating sets).

Exercise Load Target
Sumo squat  70 lbs Quads, glutes
Wide-grip lat pulldown  60 lbs Back, biceps
Good morning  45 lbs Hamstrings, glutes, lower back
Incline push-up  bodyweight Chest, abs, front shoulders
Forward lunge  30 lbs Quads, glutes
Arnold press  15 lbs ea Shoulders
Overhead cable extension 30 lbs Triceps
Seated calf raise  90 lbs Calves
Incline curl  10 lbs ea Biceps
Captain’s chair  bodyweight Abs

I went up in weight on my squats… yayy!!! Only 60 lbs left to go until I reach my lifetime goal of squatting my bodyweight – ha!

Ohyes, then I ran the 10 minutes back to my sister’s place. Mygosh it was hot by then. Brutal.

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Sister Sara said I had to try these tofu cutlets they carry at an organic food store called Herb & Spice.

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I cut it up cold and put them on top of a salad (dressed with watered down hummus). I would have to agree with my sister, these are amazing!! It almost tasted like they were baked in cream of mushroom soup, but Sara says the spread vegepate on top. Genius.

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Salad also included some wonderful local spinach – yum :)

Late this afternoon I continued my quest to find a decent cottage cheese in Ontario… IMG_9094 
Half a cup of Liberty 1% cottage cheese on top of the leftover fruit salad from the morning.
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It was good but still not great. Also, Liberty is significantly more expensive than other brands.
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I miss my Scotsburn 50% less sodium cottage cheese!! They need to supply outside of the Maritimes!

For dinner, I made Sara and I bison burgers using my mother’s method of locking all the juices in (start with a hot pan, then lower it down to cook)

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Sara doesn’t keep  ketchup in her place (the horror!), so I loaded up on the tomatoes, and ate it on pita bread. A Susan version of a hamburger thin if you will ;)

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Roasted corn in the oven. So easy. Throw it in, husk at all, and cook at 400F for 30-40 minutes.

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Yellow zucchini roasted in rosemary and olive oil. I could never find this anywhere back home!!

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All yellow vegetables tonight :)

Sara and I then sat around contemplating what we could do this evening. We both agreed dessert was in order, but I’d already eaten three pieces of chocolate today (as I do every day, fyi).

Somehow we decided it was a good idea to walk 30 minutes to this delightful place called Oh So Good near the Byward Market.

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We got a little lost on the way, but the extra walk was worth it. They had a wide array of different cakes and sweets. My eyes immediately set on the white chocolate mousse cake.

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Seriously you guys, I’m not a huge cake person, and I loved every bite of this. Incredibly light and fluffy, with shaved white chocolate on the top. Both Sara and I agreed that the small layer of jam in the center made the cake.

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Sara got a slice of the chocolate truffle cake. The chocolate was definitely of high quality and fresh because it was the first piece from the cake!

We both enjoyed our cake with a cuppa tea. We briefly discussed the calories in each slice, and agreed it was a pleasure too great to pass up.

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That’s why you walk to the cake ;)

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See you tomorrow!! xoxo

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