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It’s All About the Food

Hello friends!! Hope your weeks are off to a great start! I was all grumpy about returning to work yesterday, then I showed up and remembered how much I like it and had a pretty good Monday! :)

As promised, today’s post is all about the food. If you’re catching up, here are my other Chicago/Healthy Living Summit posts:

Chigaarrgoh
Deep Dish
The Summit

First off, I need to give props to my favourite treats provided during the conference. On Saturday, Athenos stepped it up for their sponsored break and had some delicious goodies.

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All “my kind of food.” Tortilla chips with a feta dip (crazy delicious), hummus stuffed cucumber, chicken and feta skewers, watermelon/basil/feta skewers, legitimately tasty pita chips with more hummus. Thumbs up!

My favourite meal came on Sunday with the Bagel Thins sponsored breakfast.

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They had a table set up where you could pick plain or low-fat cream cheese and choose all sorts of mix-ins for it. They then whipped up your speciality cheese on the spot. I thought it was a really neat idea.

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This breakfast was already in line to be my favourite because I showed up starving after getting lost on the fun run. Any food at that point would have been scarfed down and claimed as the best meal ever! :P

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Above photo credit goes to the amazing photog Arnold/Oroweat had around all weekend. Check out the photos here.

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I was feeling something savoury after the hot and sweaty run. I called mine Upstream Cheese and added salmon, capers, cucumber, carrot, scallions, and a pinch of salt.

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Taking pictures of taking pictures ;)

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The bagel thins were just okay. I’m not a huge “thin bread” person. If I ate more bread it may be an issue, but I only have a couple slices a day, so I like to have the real hearty stuff when I do.

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Where’s the rest of my bagel?? :P

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I also jumped for joy when I saw Sunday’s breakfast had eggs + sausage. Saturday’s breakfast was all carbs and left me feeling icky after. This body needs some protein :)

A lot of bloggers were also handing out goodies over the course of the weekend. So happy I ran into Valerie! ;)

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The only thing better than homemade business cards are business cards that come with chocolate…

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After the satisfying breakfast on Sunday, Callie and I hit the road. But not without a very important stop first…

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Sad fact: there are no Trader Joe’s in Canada. I’ve been reading about this store foreevveerrr on blogs and on the internets and was superduper pumped to finally check it out. For Canadians that have never heard of it, it’s just a healthy/organic store that carries a lot of neat products under the Trader Joe’s brand.

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Happy shoppers!! (ps the above photo was taken with Callie’s camera!)

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I got tons of great TJs suggestions from you guys, but I tried to keep my goodies to a minimum. First, because I already had two full bags of food to bring home with me. Secondly, it had to last the nine hours back home!

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I picked this up to eat for lunch in the car.

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The whole container was only 100 calories and 14g protein. The taste was a little off though, egg salad needs mayonnaise and egg yolk, this had neither.

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Eaten on top of these crackers, which are quite tasty.

Callie and I then proceeded to snack on our Trader Joe’s goodies for the whole drive home. Me more so than her because I had both of my hands free and nothing better to do ;)

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I had some of Callie’s peanut butter filled pretzels. I purposely did not buy these because I knew they would be a “danger food” to have in the house. They were beyond delicious, reminding me of a better version of peanut butter Ritz crackers.

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I’m not crazy about these, but they make for a good quick chocolate fix, and the stats are a million times better than peanut M&Ms.

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We have dried mango in Canada, but it’s always really hard to find dried fruit that isn’t sweetened. Why do they always add extra sugar to it??

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Reminds me a lot of fruit leather, and very mango-ey.

The first time I saw this stuff on Paige’s blog, I freaked out. It looked amazing.

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I was so amazed when I pulled out the banana and realized it was one big flattened piece! 
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At first, I sandwiched some almond butter between it…

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But the flavours weren’t quite right, so I added a little more AB and rolled it up.

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Omgamazing. I can see this being the perfect pre-workout snack.

Callie and I also had a bunch of coupons in our swag bags that could only be used in the U.S. We stopped at a Krogers in Michigan to put them to use, but unfortunately they didn’t have a lot of what we were looking for. I decided to try out a Chobani for $1.19 (which is a crazy good price for Greek yogurt compared to Canada)

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Topped with a Mix My Granola sample also from the Summit swag bag.

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Loved the texture and flavour of the Chobani, plus it was super filling!! I wish we could get little tubs like this in Canada, it’s such a great way to get a little protein in.

Also bought at Trader Joe’s…

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Clif flavours you can’t find in Canada, also at half the price they’re sold for in Canada.

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Suflower seed butter and corn salsa.

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New blue cheese Laughing Cow flavour that hasn’t made its way up north yet.

I always wondered how the U.S. Laughing Cow slices are 35 calories a piece while the Canadian ones are 45 calories for two. Check it out!

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American version on the left, Canadian on the right. Who knew??

I combined my new Laughing Cow and corn salsa for lunch yesterday.

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On a sandwich with smoked tofurkey.

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Maybe an odd flavour combo, but it was positively delicious.

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Meanwhile, I tried out the sunflower seed butter for breakfast this morning – on top of a yogurt bowl mixed with protein powder, blueberries, oatmeal cinnamon and syrup.

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I’ve had plain, natural sunflower seed butter before and found it to be good, but a touch bitter. The Trader Joe’s stuff is lightly sweetened and salted and so much better. My gosh, I really loved it.

Last but not least, I picked up some new gum flavours!!

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It’s a well-kept secret that I am an obsessive gum chewer. Truth of the matter is, I really love gum. So finding these new-to-me flavours was really exciting. So far the Stride citrus mint is my favourite!

 

I still have a lot of leftover coupons from the Summit that I can’t use in Canada. Once I get them organized I’ll be giving them away on the blog as a little consolation prize for those of you who couldn’t make it to the Summit – so stay tuned!

 

Question of the Day: What would be in your specialty cream cheese? I wish they had maple syrup at the table, because maple salmon would be mine!

The Summit

Hello friends!! Phew. What a whirlwind these past few days have been. Callie and I left early Friday morning to drive to Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit, then spent nine hours driving back all day yesterday. Between the miles on the road, I had some amazing moments in Chicago. You can read about our first day here, and all about our Saturday night in the city here.

Today, I want to talk about the event that actually brought me to Chicago – The Healthy Living Summit.

The Summit began last year. It was the brainchild of a few healthy living bloggers such as myself who wanted plan a big get together despite living far apart. From there it grew into a full-blown conference attended by 100 other healthy living bloggers from all over. This year, the attendance doubled to 200!

For someone on the outside of the blogworld, it may seem a little odd to go to a conference with people you only know over the internet. But what I do on my blog is a huge part of my life. The idea of being able to meet and mingle with women just like me is something I could not pass up. 

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The conference itself was only one day long with two tracks of sessions. There are SO many topics that would fall under the “healthy living” category so there was a wide variety. It’s hard providing useful content to healthy living bloggers seeing as we already take it upon ourselves to be as informed as possible!

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I thought the sessions were at least all interesting and I did learn a few new things. They all seemed a little rushed, but at the same time, sitting in the conference rooms for over an hour at a time may have become a little boring!

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All of the presenters were really friendly and open to discussion. I really liked talking to Nicole after her photography session and picking her brain. After speaking to her, the “aperture-ISO-shutter speed” relationship on my SLR started to make a lot more sense. Expect a photography post in the future :)

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Also neat was the time management session presented by Sarah, Kath and Morgan. I am admittedly horribly disorganized, so it was interesting to hear about how these pros keep it all together.

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I really appreciated one of the time blocks was dedicated to activity. I chose to go to the yoga session in the afternoon that was held in probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever done yoga in.

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The yoga itself was not really “my kind of yoga.” (too fast!) But it was the only time during the course of the day where I had a moment to take in all that was going on. It was much appreciated.

In fact, I thought all the rooms in the hotel were really cool. Some say it was old, run down and haunted. I say it had tons of character ;)

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Sessions aside, a lot of the conference is all about socializing with your fellow healthy living enthusiasts. I’d heard rumours that last year’s summit was really clique-y and there were a lot of “lunch room” scenarios.

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It’s no secret that I myself sometimes suffer from large bouts of social anxiety. But I’m happy to report I never once panicked during the conference. Sure there were groups of women who tended to stay together, but that’s just human nature. Whenever I found myself alone, I knew I could introduce myself to the nearest attendee and we’d be able to chat it up no problem. Everyone else there was just as eager to meet other bloggers and make new connections. I never once found myself wandering around with a lunch tray with no where to sit ;) Everyone welcomed me with open arms!

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A major shout-out to my Toronto bloggers. I tried to branch out as much as possible to meet other people, but it was always nice to turn around and see their familiar faces. Pictured here are Miranda, Callie, Sarah, Angela and myself. But there was also Morgan, Nienke, and now honourary Canadians (and roommies!) Theresa and Julie. I met some other great ladies who I clicked with instantly, like Candice, Shannon and SO many others that it could take me forever to list out. I could also tell that the organizing committee bloggers really tried to get around and speak to everyone. They had 200 women there who were excited to meet them, and it was nice to see they took the time to make the rounds to speak to everyone!

One thing I’ll also take away from the experience is my new friendship with Callie. We spent around 18 hours in a car together this weekend. You don’t come out of that without some serious bonding!! She was sort of my rock throughout this whole experience and I really feel like this was something we experienced together. Not once did I pull out a book in the car or fall asleep because we were too busy chatting away!!

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During our drive home yesterday, Callie and I were talking about our favourite moments over the weekend. We both agreed that we had the most fun during the more unstructured, relaxed moments. Topping the list is the fun run Sunday morning. A group of us met in the lobby to run along the lake, but Callie, Shannon and I fell behind in the heat. We ended up getting lost and had to take a major detour to get back to the hotel! Instead of freaking out, we took in the sights of Chicago and laughed together over the situation.

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If I were to do it all over again, I think I would have taken more time to stay in Chicago, as it all felt very rushed. But otherwise I’d say it was 100% worth it. The whole experience cost me just under $350. I made memories, friends, and ate tons of great food. I really wanted to go to the Healthy Living Summit in Boston last year, but I was too scared and nervous. This year, I didn’t let myself chicken out and I really feel like it’s been just another big step in this giant journey I’m on since moving to Toronto.

Now, y’all are probably all wondering where the food is and what I got at Trader Joe’s. Tomorrow!! xo

Deep Dish

I have a confession to make.

Before arriving in Chicago, I did no research on the city.

I didn’t look at the Healthy Living Summit schedule.

I didn’t even get a good grip on where Illinois is on the U.S. map.

But I did spend hours researching deep dish pizza.

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The content of the summit itself will be saved for another blog post. Right now, it’s a Saturday night, and I feel like we need to keep it on the lighter side ;)

Lori used to live in Chitown and gave me a bunch of restaurant recommendations for deep dish pizza. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little girl. No. Really.

Lou Malnati’s, while not the best according to the experts, is sufficient enough and was close to the hotel. Sold.

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A lot of the conference folk had fancy dinner plans for this evening. I just told people that if they wanted greasy, cheesy deep dish, to meet me in the lobby at 6pm. We had a good showing.

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You probably recognize some of these faces as some of my new blogger friends! Sarah, Miranda, Callie, Julie.

Seeing as we didn’t have reservations and it was a Saturday night in Chicago, the hour-long wait for a table was expected. Lessened by the free thin crust samples at the counter ;)

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Callie and I had agreed that splitting an individual serving of pizza would be in our best interests.

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When in Chicago!

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Omg. The cheese. It was as thick as the crust. The sausage was pretty good too. I hear you can get deep dish with one slice of sausage patty that covers the whole surface of the pizza. Whoa.

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Callie and I also split a Malnati Salad for, ahem, “balance.” Although, I’m not sure how balancing bacon bits are ;)

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After dinner, we decided to walk the pizza off and see some of the sights Chicago is known for!

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A lot of us went to the photography session at the conference today, so we had fun playing around with the settings on our cameras!

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We then went up to a vegan restaurant called Karyn’s On The Green to meet up with some of the other bloggers.

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They had a pretty neat looking cocktail menu.

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I went for the Green Mojito.

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At 9 bucks a pop, it was my only cocktail, but a delicious one at that! By this point however, I started to crash and my ability to socialize plummeted. I promise to give you a more in depth scoop from the day when I return to the comforts of my Toronto home.

By the bye, toooootally weird to tell people here that I’m from Toronto when I’ve only been living there for six weeks. I feel like such a faker! :P

 

Okay, the bed calls, and I’m getting up to do the 5k fun run in the a.m. AND my first ever visit to Trader Joes! Youbetterbelieveit. Then the 9 hour drive back to Canada :\

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

 

Question of the Day: Trader Joes experts – what should I get??

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