Sunday Morning Breakfast

The weekends are my time (and maybe yours too) for relaxation. I turn off my alarm and sleep the early morning away until my internal clock wakes me up, rested and ready to take on the day. After treating myself to a slightly longer sleep than usual, I’m ready to start my day off with a nutritious meal. I’ll be honest, I usually get swept away in menial tasks – cleaning, Facebook-ing, etc… – before I enter my kitchen to make myself some breakfast. This weekend I was low on my Sunday favourite. Eggs. Instead I decided to class up an old time favourite. My yogurt bowl turned into a yogurt wine glass.

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I started with a layer of plain Greek yogurt and topped it with half a banana, two strawberries, a dollop of peanut butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup. 

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Peanut butter and Greek yogurt. Delicious. Who would have thought?

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Here’s to treating yourself and making the simple pleasures that much more meaningful. And of course, fancy looking.

My Life in Pictures – Part II

Here are some of my favourite pictures from the past week (actually, since my last My Life In Pictures post!). Enjoy 🙂

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The back of Parliament Hill. The water levels are pretty high right now. If you look closely (on the left) you can see a ramp covered by water. 

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Sparks Street carnival!

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Dow’s lake on an early weekend morning after a bike ride. 

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Brunch with university friends. My dish looked like a scorpion. 

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After brunch, we went to Major Hill’s Park and took in some of the Tulip Festival. 

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Day time view of the Government Conference Centre and a new boat addition to the Rideau Canal. 

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One of my spring/summer faves! Frozen fruit blended with almond milk to make a sorbet (topped with some dried cranberries here)

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There was a day this week where I had kale at two meals. Once in my smoothie, and once for dinner cooked with cauliflower and a side of chicken. 

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Spring weather means iced tea from Bridgehead and studying on their patio. 

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I went to an Ottawa Senators hockey game this week because playoff hockey excitement is the best kind. We were on Radio Canada! Shhhh…I’m a Leafs fan. What are the chances of a Leafs vs. Sens match up this playoff season?

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The giant Coupe Stanley/Stanley Cup at Scotiabank Place.

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Ottawa Senators playoff excitement! So. Much. Red. 

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Quinoa burgers with lemon shrimp and salad for dinner. 

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Go Leafs Go!

What’s in Your Smoothie?

I’ve been in a smoothie kick as of late — okay, for a long enough time that it’s gone from a “kick” to an actual thing. It took me a few tries to find the right combination of fruit, vegetables, and liquid. Suffice it to say, my smoothies this week have been spot on! *pats self on back*

To get me started, I found a few websites that have some excellent (and creative) smoothie ideas. Check them out!
For me, there are four (sometimes five) parts to my smoothie:
1. The fruit! There was some fruit on sale this week at my local grocery store, so I stocked up on my favourites. After my trip, I cut and washed the fruit and then stored them in serving size bags in the freezer. Now I have fruit for 18 smoothies. Whoa. This makes it suuuper easy for preparation in the morning.
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In the fruit mix now are grapes, banana, strawberries, and blueberries.
2. Veggies. I’ve been using spinach in my smoothies (it makes them come out green, fyi). This is an easy way to get in a serving of vegetables, especially since you can’t taste the spinach once it’s mixed in with the fruit. I’ve seen recipes with kale. I’ll have to add that to my “to-try” list.
3. Protein. I use a protein powder recommended by my Naturopath. Use your preferred brand/type 🙂 You can use a protein powder to supplement or as a meal replacement, seek out trusted advice to find what is best for your needs and body.
4. Liquid. I used to make my smoothies with water. After trying them with almond milk, there is no other way. This is my preferred brand:
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5. The (Sometimes) Fifth Part! If I’m feeling like it, I’ll add in some nut butter or avocado. Both are great for that added creamy-ness, texture, and an easy way to get in a serving of nuts or a healthy fat.
I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow! What’s in your smoothie?

My Life in Pictures – The First!

I take a lot of pictures. Seriously, a lot. I’ve had my current phone for almost two months and my picture count is nearing 500. Excessive much? Nah, I prefer to think of my compulsive photo taking as documenting what’s good in life. Here are one of my most recent ones, enjoy!

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New, adorable shoes from Clarks with some fun editing.

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I took in a Toronto Blue Jays Game last weekend while I was visiting my parents in Toronto. The Jays played the New York Yankees and won! This is my view from the best place to sit at the Rogers Centre (Skydome)…the 500s.

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A picture of the CN Tower just after the Jays game. Hello, blue sky!

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My parents treated us to lunch at Joe Badali’s after the Jays game. Appetizer’s included some standard Italian fare…olive oil and vinegar with bread and olives. Classic and delicious.

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The next day I met my Mom downtown for lunch near her work after I had met up with some former colleagues and a friend. Seen here is a mango and chicken salad.

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Unsweetened red berry iced tea from Second Cup, with some phone editing. I may be enjoying my new device a bit too much.

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A (very) early morning photo of the Rogers Centre.

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And one of the CN Tower right next door. Is this turning into a Toronto post? Could be.

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Nope, back to Ottawa. This is the brewing area at the new-to-me Bridgehead on Preston.

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My unsweetened rooibos iced tea at Bridgehead.

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Took my first bike ride of the season yesterday to Dow’s Lake.

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Feeling good after my ride! Notice my sweet bike in the background.

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And lastly, all of the fixings for a delicious night of sushi making hosted by a dear friend.

I’m off to brunch and a vintage show, have a good weekend all!

Eating Clean While Travelling

This weekend I’m off to visit my parents in Toronto for five days. I’m looking forward to some relaxation, thinking, firing up the barbecue (even if the weather doesn’t cooperate…it’s happening), and catching up with my family and friends. In my last few trips home I’ve noticed that my clean eating takes a break. Maybe it’s boredom? Maybe it’s the comfort of being at home? Whatever the reason may be, after almost three years of living on my own, I’ve certainly grown accustomed buying and eating food that fit my preferences (read: clean eating). Travelling requires a bit more planning and a focus on making the choices that I know work for me. Here are some of my tips to eat clean while travelling:

1. Pack Your Own Snacks

I take the train from Ottawa to Toronto, it’s comfortable and I can be productive sleep. But, it can sometimes feel like a really long and boring train ride. As someone who has at times eaten solely out of boredom, the snack cart can be tempting. Instead of being a friend to the snack cart, the day before I leave I do a quick survey of snacks that I can take with me on the train. Here are some suggestions:

– Mixed nuts and dried cranberries

– Vegetables and hummus or guacamole

– Fruit and nut butter or unsalted nuts

– Quinoa and vegetable salad

– Brown rice cakes and avocado

In my case, these ideas are great for train travel. If you’re travelling by plane often getting through security with food may be an issue depending on where you are travelling. Double check in advance what is permissible  My main mode of travel is train, so I’ll leave plane travel packing to the experts 🙂 Arriving early to the airport may be a good option to pick up some snacks before boarding!

IMG_00000419A snack I prepared for my trip today! 

2. Check Out Local Grocery Stores

Depending on where you are travelling to, you may have access to a grocery store that is within walking distance. In my case, cooking when visiting my parents is not a problem. It’s more a joy actually. Compared to my bachelor apartment, their kitchen is godly. If I were to plop their kitchen into my apartment, it would take about nearly 3/4 of my space. No joke. See? Godly.

While my parents and I eat similarly, but we have different preferences as to what we pick up from the grocery store on a weekly basis. If I’m staying for a longer period of time than a weekend (like this trip), I’ll take a walk to our local supermarket (super convenient, it’s an eight minute walk) and purchase some food that works for me. I also make sure to label what I buy with a giant “AMANDA’S FOOD” sign. I come from a family of six and if you don’t label it, it’s fair game for hungry family members. I don’t need to be reminded of goodies that I brought home from Italy, didn’t label them, and woke up the next morning to find that these only-sold-in-Italy goodies were gone! 

Like myself, my parents are not big red meat eaters. There are always chicken breasts or salmon to make along with lots of veggies. Costco is the gold standard in my parent’s house. Have you see their romaine lettuce packages? Holy salad. What I find is that we have very different breakfast styles. When I visit the supermarket, I usually buy breakfast foods. On this trip I’ll be bringing with me some protein powder for my morning smoothie.

3. Evaluate Your Choices

I have had the chance to travel for work purposes and to attend conferences where meals have been catered. My parent’s kitchen certainly doesn’t exist on those trips! Here are some tips for those situations:

– If there’s a dish being served with something that you’re not fond of, request an alternative. For example, white pasta is not my favourite, so I often request brown rice or another gluten-free alternative and my digestive system thanks me later.

– It’s a buffet and there are an abundance of choices! This is a good thing, there’s more of a chance that you will find food that suits your needs. For example, I recently attended a conference. I found that most of my food came from the salad bar. My plate at each meal were made up of a lean protein, vegetables, and quinoa.

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One of my dinner’s on a recent work trip – salmon, veggies, quinoa, carrot soup.

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My standard breakfast from the same trip – oatmeal with granola, eggs, and an orange. Notice my water bottle to stay hydrated during the day.

– What about snacks? On a recent trip that I took for work, there were breaks throughout the day for snacks and socializing. I grabbed a plate and loaded up on veggies that I could snack on in between the breaks. This can be tricky though, there may not always be foods to meet your preferences. Bringing protein bars with you can help with mid-morning hunger. 

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I brought two of these protein bars with me for a two-day work trip. 

There are my tips for to eat clean while travelling – pack your own snacks, check out local grocery stores, and evaluate your choices. Do you have any travel tips?

I’m off to finish packing!

What Is Your Confidence? Looking at Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches Video

Dove, the brand of skin care products you know and (maybe) love, has recently released the video “Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches.” This snippet has been floating around the internet and if you dig a little you can view the full piece on their website, where you can also find the video’s intention:

“Women are their own worst beauty critics. Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. At Dove, we are committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. So, we decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.” Source

I watched the video on my way to work one morning, and I thought it was great. Truth. Throughout the day as I kept on thinking about negative self-talk and ideas of beauty, I began to think critically about the video’s messages. There are two things that stood out at me…

Internalized Messages

When describing her face, a participant spoke of how her mother always told her that she had a big jaw. Even as an adult, she drew on a message that (it seems) was internalized years prior. This message was at the forefront of how she described that part of her body. The video here shows something very important – how (and when) we internalize messages. Think about this. What messages from your past do you still carry with you?

Which ever way you slice it, negative messages are always hurtful. Whether it is right after their delivery, or years later. You can use those messages to motivate you, I know I certainly have. But, I still find it interesting that when I think of messages from my childhood about my body, the first that come to my mind are negative ones. This isn’t to say, of course, that I can’t think of anything positive. Not true. I can. Most of what I can think of are positive messages reinforced by myself to counteract negative ones. Interesting isn’t it?

What Words Are Negative? What Words Are Positive?

Let’s get down to some real-talk…the portrayal of fat bodies in the media is often negative and associated with messages of laziness, sadness, desperation to change, etc. Besides this being upsetting, it’s an unfair assessment of fat bodies. Not only does it create a divide between fat and thin in terms of body type, but it attempts to assigns negative messages to one (fat) and positive messages to the other (thin). Now, let me say that all bodies regardless of size are beautiful. I believe this firmly.

As I listed out the words to that participants used to describe themselves that many of the words used size as a fact in beauty.

Fat. Rounder face. Big. Protrude. 

I see these words as negative self-talk. This is a complicated statement – we (as members of a society) have created a norm of using such words to negatively describe ourselves. We have created largeness to be bad. Here’s the second set of words used by acquaintances to describe the participants:

Thin. You could see her cheek bone. Cute nose. Nice blue Eyes.

Do you notice a difference? Just as we have created largeness as bad, we have created thin as good. I’d like to borrow from a review posted by Jazzy Little Drops that perfectly captures my thought: “…my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing.” Source If there is one thing that I can takeaway from this video, it is that the words that we use are so powerful, and how we have defined them as a society can be even more powerful. It’s important that we be critical of the messages that we receive. Questioning breeds conversation and conversation facilitates growth.

Towards the end of the video one of the participants touch on the impacts of beauty – “it impacts the choices and friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children, it impacts everything.” In my own way, I’ve certainly experienced positive and negative impacts of beauty.  I take this quote as food for thought and as inspiration for a future post. What are your thoughts?