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Starbucks For Dummies – The Tutorial

Eeee!!!! I am officially on vacation!!! Just finished working the world’s loooongest closing shift. Now I don’t work again till next Tuesday!!! I’m leaving for my hometown tomorrow afternoon. It’s only a 90 minute drive, but I’m praying the snow lets up so the roads are clear by then!

Anyways, despite my excitement, I am seriously sleep deprived. I was up way too early this morning to fill my empty tummy.


Pecan protein pancakes!

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice
  • 2-3 tbsp roasted pecan pieces

All blended up and cooked to deliciousness. Seriously, this was an awesome batch.

I was feeling kinda “meh” about the gym today, but it was just pure laziness. I dragged my butt over there and got my weight workout in. Trying to beef up the weight lifting – gotta look the part of a personal trainer too! ;)

10 minutes on the stairmill
10 minutes on the rowing machine

A1 – Squat w/ heels raised on plates:
3 sets @ 30 lbs x 10

A2 – Dumbbell shoulder press:
3 sets @ 15 lbs ea x 10

B1 – Step-up:
3 sets @ 40 lbs x 10

B2 – Underhand grip lat pulldown:
3 sets @ 50 lbs x 12

C1 – Horizontal woodchop:
3 sets @ 35 lbs x 10

C2 – Back extension:
3 sets @ 4kg x 10

C3 – Hanging leg raises:
3 sets @ bw x 10

15 minutes on elliptical, 1 minute sprints, 2 minutes recovery

I went down in weights a little so I could focus on my form today. I like doing this from time to time, keeps me in check ;)

Was a hungry hungry hippo, and running late for work by the time I made it home. Whipped up a quick lunch.


Two scrambled eggs, onion, red pepper, spinach, laughing cow and Franks hot sauce on a Lavash wrap. Couple small tangerines on the side. Clementines are better.

Then it was off to work, which was surprisingly not that busy tonight!! Even though I was running late, I still threw together a packed supper before leaving. No five-buck sub for me tonight.

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Obviously, as simple as it gets. Hummus + tuna sandwich and a pear. There were obviously snacks in there too. Including a short nonfat sugar-free hazelnut steamed milk and an unsweetened black iced tea lemonade.


Ever since returning to work at Starbucks, I’ve been fielding a few questions about what kind of drinks I would suggest. Both Lara and Averie suggested I do a “Starbucks Tutorial” of sorts to clear things up!

First, I published a list of Starbucks How-To’s a while back with tips to order smart. But today I’ll get a little more detailed so you reeeeally know what you’re doing ;)

First, lets start with the basics – espresso.

espresso.jpg (440×586)

Sources for images can be accessed by clicking on the picture.

Espresso is essentially condensed coffee. A little bit of water run through densely-packed coffee grinds. It actually doesn’t contain as much caffeine as most people think. One shot, or 1 oz, has about the same caffeine as 6 oz regular brewed coffee. However, drinking it straight can mean you’re consuming your caffeine more quickly – so you may get a bit of a head rush!

Next up is the latte. The latte is the heart of every Starbucks drink. They may sound fancy and complicated, but they are really just different flavoured lattes.

A latte is just espresso + steamed milk and a lovely dollop of milk foam on top. That’s it!

Starbucks uses flavoured syrups in all their drinks. Anything like a pepermint mocha, gingerbread latte or caramel macchiato are just lattes with said syrups added for flavouring.

Every store is different, but here are the syrups my store is currently offering:

  • Vanilla, Sugar-Free Vanilla
  • Caramel, Sugar-Free Caramel
  • Hazelnut, Sugar-Free Hazelnut
  • Cinnamon Dolce, Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce
  • Toffee Nut
  • Raspberry
  • Classic (an unflavoured simple sugar syrup)
  • Peppermint
  • Caramel Brule
  • Pumpkin
  • Mocha (a rich chocolate sauce)
  • White mocha (another “sauce”)
  • Chai

Now, one thing that confuses people the most about Starbucks are our weird cup sizes. There are four, although the smallest isn’t usually advertised.

How much syrup, coffee and milk goes into these cups depends on size. I’ve made a handy-dandy chart for you to understand it. It must be known that 1 pump of syrup = 0.25 oz and 1 shot of espresso = 1 oz.


So if it’s the caffeine you’re after, you can get away with a short instead of a tall, or a grande instead of a venti.

The iced sizes are almost the same, but the iced venti cups are 24 oz, 6 pumps and 3 shots.  It’s a beast of a size.

There are three more drinks worth mentioning. A cappuccino.

Ha, not all of them are pink!!! I chose this picture because you can clearly see the distinction between the milk and foam. While a latte is espresso and milk with just a dollop of foam, a cappuccino is espresso + half milk + half foam. Usually, you just “free pour” the milk into the cup (i.e. don’t hold foam back with spoon) and the milk and foam will naturally separate like this. They’re a little stronger tasting because there’s less milk to dilute the espresso.

There’s also an Americano.

caffè americano

This is just espresso + hot water. Almost like a stronger tasting coffee (except so much better!)

Finally, the Misto.

Café Au Lait

This is half brewed coffee + half steamed milk. Sort of like a weaker version of the latte, but also lower cal because it has less milk.


Okay, so how can you take all this info to order yourself a drink? You can…

  • Ask for different milk – skim, soy, lactaid or eggnog
  • Ask for a sugar-free syrup
  • Ask for less or more pumps of syrup
  • Add a syrup flavour to a plain drink, or try combining flavours
  • Ask for one less or one extra shot of espresso
  • Turn your coffee or tea into a misto
  • Ask for more foam or extra foam (extra foam will cut the cals a little too)
  • Ask for no whipped cream (or extra!)
  • Ask for it in decaf, or just get it without the espresso

So hopefully that helps!! I know there is a lot of “lingo” involved at Starbucks, but that’s really designed to help the baristas, not scare away customers. With this information, I can decide I want a latte with a mix of SF Vanilla and Caramel syrup, skim milk, an extra shot of espresso and extra foam (yes, that’s one of my fave drinks!). It doesn’t matter if I can call that out as a “double-tall-sugar-free-vanilla-caramel-nonfat-extra-foam-latte.” All you need to do is double check with your cashier and barista to make sure they got all your requests!


Question of the Day: What is/would be your Starbucks drink?


P.S. I will be maintaining a somewhat regular posting schedule while home for the holidays. I’m bringing my laptop and my mom has wireless internet. It might not be at the usual time, but short updates will be going up! It will give me an excuse to take a small break from the family craziness everyday ;)

Sweet Saturday

Uff. I am soooo full of sugar right now. I spent all night baking, and sampling those baked goods :\ At least I had a decent day leading up to it.

I fell asleep watching “The Goods” with Chris last night. Not a very funny movie. However, we watched “Zombieland” before that and it was awesome. All together, I think I finally got 8 hours sleep. Yesss!! Went for a simple breakfast.


Everything bagel with crunchy PB on one side and strawberry jam on the other. In the back is an egg white pillow to round the meal out. I was scared a bagel wouldn’t fill me up – but it totally did!! I think I’ve finally found the secret to a filling breakfast for me. It’s got to be around 400 calories and have significant amount of each protein, fat and carbs.

I had a stellar gym visit this morning. I think the extra sleep put more of a bounce in my step.

Walk/jogging on the treadmill for 5 minutes

incline = 1%
0:00-1:00 – 6.0 mph
1:00-2:00 – 6.2 mph
2:00-3:00 – 6.4 mph
3:00-4:00 – 6.2 mph
4:00-5:00 – 6.4 mph
5:00-6:00 – 6.6 mph
6:00-7:00 – 6.4 mph
7:00-8:00 – 6.6 mph
8:00-9:00 – 6.8 mph
9:00-10:00 – 6.6 mph
10:00-11:00 – 6.8mph
11:00-12:00 – 7.0 mph
12:00-13:00 – 6.8 mph
13:00-14:00 – 7.0 mph
14:00-15:00 – 7.2 mph

A1 – Front squat push/press:
3 sets @ 40 lbs x 8

B1 – Underhand-grip lat pulldown:
3 sets @ 55 lbs x 8

B2 – Barbell upright row:
3 sets @ 15 lbs (ea) x 8

C1 – Seated cable row:
3 sets @ 50 lbs x 8

C2 – Dumbbell fly:
3 sets @ 20 lbs (ea) x 8

@ 0.0 incline -  2 min @ 5.5
@ 0.5 incline – 1 min @ 6.0
                           1 min @ 6.5
                           1 min @ 7.0
@ 1.0 incline – 1 min @ 6.0
                           1 min @ 6.5
                           1 min @ 7.0
@ 1.5 incline – 1 min @ 6.0
                           1 min @ 6.5
                           1 min @ 7.0
@ 2.0 incline – 1 min @ 6.0
                           1 min @ 6.5
                           1 min @ 7.0
@ 0.0 incline – 1 min @ 3.5

Plank: 90 sec
Side planks: 30 sec each
Stability ball rollout: 15 reps
Jackknifes: 15 reps

incline = 0%
0:00-1:00 – 3.0 mph
1:00-3:00 – 3.5 mph
3:00-4:00 – 8.0 mph
4:00-6:00 – 3.5 mph
6:00-7:00 – 8.5 mph
7:00-9:00 – 3.5 mph
9:00-10:00 – 9.0 mph
10:00-12:00 – 3.5 mph
12:00-13:00 – 9.5 mph
13:00-15:00 – 3.5 mph


The HIIT was tough, but I felt sooooo good when I was done :)

Came home to a wonderful lunch!


It was delightful! I love cumin :)

Today’s plan was to pick up the last of my presents and brave the grocery store the weekend before Christmas for baking ingredients. It called for a solid snack.


Three light wasas, soy nut butter, honey, raisins, cinnamon. This is probably one of my favourite snacks and always fills me up :)

I survived the grocery store and got straight to baking!

Warning: a plethora of pictures featuring baked goods devoid of any nutritional value follow. 

You guys. It’s Christmas. Healthy treats are for the rest of the year! :P

First up: peanut butter cup cookies that I actually first saw on Hallie’s blog.


Mmmm….hydrogenated oil…


Generic PB cups, no Reese’s to be found!


My first mini muffin pan :)


Slice up cookie dough into inch-thick rounds. Then cut each round into quarters and drop into greased pan. Baked for about 5 minutes at 350 F until just slightly golden.


They naturally started to sink into the pan!


Don’t forget to unwrap your PB cups ;)


Drop PB cups into fluffy or sunken dough, and bake for an additional 3-ish minutes. It smells crazy delicious. But you have to wait until fully cool before removing from the pan. Don’t want to mangle all that doughy chocolate nutty goodness!



Then it was onto Brie’s famous cake balls. Aka Bakerella’s red velvet cake balls.

Except I’ve never seen red velvet cake around these parts. So I grabbed the yummiest cake flavour I saw. People were trying to hustle me out of the aisle – I almost lost my ankle to a shopping cart!

I followed the box instructions exactly. While that bad boy cooked, I sat down to a healthy dinner of a tofurkey + jarlsberg lavash wrap. At least I got lots of veggies with my sugar today ;)


Dessert was… what else!? A peanut butter cup cookie! 

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I’ve been obsessed with trying these ever since I first laid eyes on them. And with good reason!! I mean, how can you go wrong? Chris loved them too. He promptly popped two whole ones in his mouth.


Thankfully, he brought the bulk of the cookies back home to his parents. That is, if they made it there :P

Somewhere along the way, my cake came out of the oven and had the chance to cool.


I then got to rip it all apart and mash it up with this even healthier product:


I then rolled the mixture into a gazillion little balls, and stuck them in the freezer to harden.

While my balls were hardening (I’m not going there) I got started on my next baking project! This one I’ll call “homemade turtles” and got from Zesty’s blog.

I looked everywhere for waffle-shaped pretzels and could only find giant ones and sticks. I went with the latter.


More cups!! This time in caramel.

And the final piece of the puzzle – pecan halves. Which I quickly threw in the oven to roast first.


I tried to shape my pretzel sticks like pretzel waffles, but Chris said they looked like pretzel rafts :P

Put this in a 300 F oven until the first sign of melting (2 minutes maybe?) Then take out and squish the pecans on top!

I did three batches of this, then stuck it in the fridge to harden. While those babies were hardening in the fridge, I pulled my now hard balls out of the freezer (seriously guys, I am not going there).

More chocolate was needed to coat my cake balls. I couldn’t decide on milk chocolate or dark chocolate with almonds. So I chose both and melted them together :)


Two chocolate bars weren’t enough to coat all the balls though! I ended up melting one of my beloved Lindt 70% bars (cause ya know, I happen to have a lot of them lying around). But that wasn’t enough either! So I dug around my cupboard and found some yogurt chips that I melted with unsweetened coconut. The result was a variety of balls…


Butter pecan cream cheese cake balls in a chocolate almond coating, dark chocolate coating and yogurt coconut coating.

And as those dried, I wrapped up my hardened homemade turtles!

These packages are going to the kiddies in my family. Grandparents will be getting cake balls, and any leftovers are going to buttering up my new coworkers ;)

I don’t know how all of you bake without licking/sampling. I actually did good on the spoon and bowl licking front (kept it minimal anyways). But I still had to sample one of each of my goodies. Way more treats than I usually have and now I’m in a sugar coma. And maybe a hydrogenated oil one :P Uff.

On the bright side, I have a 90 minute spin class to look forward to for tomorrow!! Seriously. Can’t. Wait.


Question of the Day: What’s your favourite holiday goody? Mine are candy canes and my Grammie’s peanut butter balls :)

Flashing Back to Christmases of Past

Woooo!!! It’s the weekend!!! I just realized I’ve only had one day off over the past 22 days. So these next two days off will be glorious :D Well, actually, I have a lot of catching up to do. But crossing things off my to-do list feels pretty glorious anyways.

Loved hearing all the other career paths y’all would like to pursue!! Seems like jobs involving animals, travel and food were the most popular :)

I had custard oats on the brain again this a.m. Well, that and mollases. And coconut chia granola.


There’s almond butter hiding under there too. Dare I say this was better than the first time around? Yum!!!

Worked 8-4:30 today. I’ve taken to not working out when I do this shift. The days are pretty  busy and I need to be on my “A” game!! Also, I’m still sore from Tuesday’s weight lifting workout. That’s some persistent DOMS!!

Packed the usual lunch for today (we don’t have a microwave at the Bucks).


Smoked tofurkey slices, mustard, swiss + veggies on lavash bread. And a melt-in your mouth ripe pear!


Janetha posted an apple-pear comparison the other day. Did you know pears are lower in calories, carbs and sugar than apples, and also have more fibre and potassium?? They’re also cheaper these days. The price of apples has for some reason skyrocketed this month!

Oh, and I’ve been studying my personal training textbook on my breaks. Hence all the words in the background ;)

On my afternoon break, I had my first Vega Vibrancy Bar in the wholesome original flavour.


To be honest, i did not have high hopes for this bar. It just looked too “healthy!”

 vega vega

Can’t really argue with those stats or ingredients.

Of course, it’s how the thing tastes that’s reeeally important ;)


It’s a date-based bar, much like a Larabar. But it tastes so different – I loved it!! You can taste the dates, but dates are one of my favourite foods, so that’s always a bonus for me. The little specks you see in there aren’t all nut pieces, but grains. It made for a wonderful texture. And the flavour was really “mellow” with nothing in particular standing out. It’s small, but still managed to hold me over for the last couple hours of work until I made it home for dinner. This gets a thumbs up!

That dinner I made was some standard Friday Night Fare. Burger and fries.

101_1304Real hamburger with sweet potato fries (spiced in cumin & chili powder). I’m still kinda hungry though!! I’m thinking a protein-yogurt dessert may be in order…


Friday Flashbacks… Christmas Edition!!!

Last Flashback Friday before Christmas!! Actually, Christmas is technically on a Flashback Friday this year. How fitting :)

Here are some random family photos from over the past four years (as far back as I can find). I stole some off my sister and mother’s Facebooks, so I can’t take credit for all of them.

My wonderful mom in her Christmas morning apparel, drinking coffee and awaiting the Queen’s Message…

My Dad, looking very studious and lawyer-like. Actually, I think that’s a Stuart Maclean book I bought him one year.


Sara, Jane and I, three sheets to the wind on Christmas Eve, re-enacting childhood games.


Archie, napping under the piano, exhausted from all the Christmas excitement.


Me and Nana (my mom’s mom)



After the unwrapping frenzy on Christmas morning. I can’t believe my mother actually allowed her home looking like this get caught on film :P

Last year’s dead bird, courtesy my mom’s new favourite Oprah recipe.


Last year’s Christmas dinner! This is sister Sara’s plate. I think someone is a budding food blogger ;)


My three favourite girls, two of which are in the most hideous winter coats I’ve ever seen. How can people who live in and near Quebec not remember to pack warm coats!? And why is my mom still holding on to these!?


Girls, I will not be letting this happen again this year. :P


I’m starting to get really excited to go home! I leave Wednesday afternoon and I’m counting down the days. Almost all my gifts are taken care of. Hopefully I’ll get the rest this weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the same room as my mom and two sisters at once (last Christmas maybe?). Life has been such a rollercoaster lately, it will be nice to be in familiar surroundings with the people I love most :)


Question of the Day: What are you hoping to get for Christmas? Yup, I want a completely selfish, material answer for this one!! I think my mommy got me an SLR camera. Not sure what kind yet, but anything will be a step up from my current camera!