MIMM #11: Thanksgiving Weekend

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, which means I have today off but this weekend has still felt much too short. I suppose that is nothing new since time spent at home in the company of my marvelous family is never too long. This Thanksgiving definitely felt rushed. Last year I had the opportunity to press leaves, pick pumpkins and help my mom with fall decorations, but this year I barely had time to eat pie let alone bake one! MiMM

My mom and Emma came to pick me up on Friday morning after the completion of my three-hour morning Nutrition lecture. I was all packed and ready to go, so what should have been a fun and marvelous class seemed to drag on. I fed them lunch at my cafeteria before we headed back onto the highway (thankfully with minimal traffic) stopping only briefly at Ikea to look for a highchair (unsuccessfully). I did find a duvet to layer beneath my quilt since my residence room is already starting to get pretty chilly.1385625_351530854982699_1631944843_n

Three weeks away from home was much too long. Friday evening I caught up with Elyse, Caitlin and Carly over a marvelous bonfire. I never really realized how complimentary chocolate, roasted marshmallows and graham crackers could be since I usually eat them separately as opposed to in a s’mores. By 12:30 a.m. I called it a night, which was hard to do since we had so much to discuss.1373539_351530628316055_375718286_n 1384731_351530618316056_1310684331_n

We hosted Thanksgiving appetizers and dinner on Saturday for my Grandparents. Besides a batch of brownies I barely baked but I have a few recipes to try out later today before heading back to University. I’ll save the meal for Wednesday’s post but the eats were more marvelous than ever. With a 21lb Turkey and only 10 guests (…but Lottie prefers sweet potatoes so really 9) there were lots of leftovers for sandwiches. Lottie definitely entertained us for the night with her smiles, giggles and waves. She’s sitting proudly on her own and I can’t wait to see her again dressed up for Halloween. Last year she was not born yet so we were all very thankful to be blessed with her company this weekend. 1377174_351530868316031_810513216_n 1379028_351530624982722_165337714_n

Sunday we were all still tired from the turkey’s tryptophan (kidding), which meant a later start to my studying session. I worked on a Library Assignment and I reviewed a bit of Psychology and Chemistry for my upcoming midterms but I was easily distracted by PVR (I haven’t watched television in 5 weeks) running errands with my dad, preparing homemade turkey soup and baking gingerbread cookies. A less eventful but equally marvelous day to say the least!1380896_351530621649389_2025998700_n

Today I’m meeting Joyce and tonight my dad will be driving me back to residence. It seemed short but I guess that’s partly due to the commute and the fact that schoolwork isn’t easing up. No complaining here, Thanksgiving was marvelous. I’m so thankful for my entire life including but not limited to my family, friends, health, home, education, food, emotions, challenges, privileges and abilities. What are you grateful for?  Don’t forget to check out Katie’s MIMM roundup – Friday she featured some marvelous snacks and marvelous advantages of being a mom and this morning she posted a picture of Rocco (Now 15 weeks) as baby Dracula! He is so precious!  Here’s to making Mondays a bit more marvelous even if it means I have to go back to school and leave my family! ♥ Molly

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

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WIAW: Normal Eating

I have a busy day ahead so I wasn’t going to post this morning, but then I decided why not skip the gym and blog instead. Sounds like a good compromise right?

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Since I’ve been at University I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my appetite. Maybe it’s because I am awake for more hours during the day, or perhaps because my exercise has increased (especially walking up the Brescia hill and 5 flights of stairs each day!). My brain is definitely devoting more energy into learning and studying, plus it consumes energy as I shiver in the freezing cold library (I was told this is suppose to keep me alert but I think it does the opposite). What I do know is that I’m still not eating big enough breakfasts (this has always been a challenge) and without falling culprit to the “I don’t get enough protein” bandwagon, I seriously don’t get enough protein at each meal! After tracking my nutrition for a food and nutrition assignment, it was brought to my attention that although I’m consuming adequate milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives, most of my starchier foods come from vegetables leading to a lack of grain products. Contrastingly, my diet overall is high in carbohydrates but low in fat and protein which would be the opposite of what my food groups suggested. Could my hunger be a result of the fact that carbohydrates are the fastest source of energy so my energy source is being depleted quickly? 564029_349519251850526_1469426416_n1391661_349518861850565_1541284653_n

While I know this isn’t necessarily an accurate representation since it was only a snapshot of my intake (plus the nutrition tracker was limited in terms of brands of foods and I eyeballed serving sizes) it got me thinking about how unaware I truly am of my daily consumption. I believed myself to be a pretty balanced eater but in actuality some days were examples of under nutrition while others were over nutrition. I’m not going to go into detail otherwise I mind as well have posted my reflection, but I wanted to spark a conversation in your mind as to what makes you eat the way you do? Do you track your nutritional intake? Do you take into accordance what you have already consumed in the day or are going to consume in an upcoming meal before selecting an item? Do you eat each meal in the present?1375229_349518875183897_1017553201_n 1377970_349519185183866_1543147004_n

Some days, as a food and nutrition student especially, I let others impact my food choices. I’m not saying this is a good way to be. In fact, it’s probably bad that I get gratification out of teaching others lessons and watching their reaction.  It gives me satisfaction to eat “junk food” in front of girls that believe you can only stay thin by eating vegetables. I enjoy being a positive example in front of the kids I babysit by eating a balanced dinner. Occasionally I purposely choose an unhealthier item with individuals who believe “Dietitians to be” only eat “clean food”.1384012_349518921850559_416927265_n539664_349519225183862_948359017_n

Notice how I am not listing specific foods? That is because I have adapted an “everything in moderation” approach where foods aren’t labeled as good or bad and nothing is off of limits.1391939_349518911850560_1314527251_n1380291_349519081850543_214560278_n

Sooner or later I would like to eat without feeling like others are judging me, but I am happy to say that I am no longer embarrassed by my choices and though I am consciously aware of what I believe to be their thoughts to be, they do not influence my choices so much that I ignore my cravings.1381581_349519171850534_1834493708_n 1186765_349519261850525_1195892337_n

So I’m not exactly sure where this post went, in fact it started and finished with me wondering what to write, but I guess I just wanted to talk a bit more about food since it is WIAW after all. I try not to over think food, but I’m noticing so many correlations between food in social situations some of which are criticized (food as a reward) and others which are supported (bringing a family together at meal time) that can really throw a loop in one’s eating patterns and it’s hard not to wonder whether the way in which you choose to eat is healthy or not. But I guess we are all left with the question what is healthy, what is disordered and what is obsessive? I’m proud to say that for the most part I have a healthy relationship with food and I eat a variety of vitamin and mineral (sodium and fibre included!) dense foods in moderate but adequate quantities balanced with the occasional (or not so occasional) less nutritious indulgence.  ♥ MollyWIAWbutton

“When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers. ” – Ellyn Satter

WIAW: Mercato Café

From sandwich bar to a variety of soups, wood fire pizza ovens to fresh baked healthier pasties, I’m definitely in a cafeteria catered toward food and nutrition students. How often do you find fresh smoothies or sushi in a dining pavilion? I suppose this only makes sense since Brescia is home to one of the few (and best) dietetic programs in Ontario.IMG_7844 IMG_8139

What I love about the cafeteria is that it is designed so that you are bombarded with fresh options as soon as you enter the cafeteria. The less healthy options are on the outer corners of the perimeter and tucked away from plain eyesight. What I don’t like is that those options are still cheaper than many of the fruits and vegetables, however nutrition is definitely worth my penny and I have to spend my meal card right? Not is it nutritionally beneficial to buy an apple, but you obtain “stamps” after purchasing fruit which add up towards free fruit.IMG_8056 IMG_8171 IMG_8105 IMG_8071Filled with a selection of typical fruits and vegetables, the salad bar is my favourite part of the Mercato Café within my residence. For a base of my salad I usually use quinoa or argula but they also offer romaine, spinach, mixed greens, bulgur wheat and even wild rice. I normally add plain tofu, lentils or tuna for my protein but others might prefer their hardboiled eggs, kidney beans, chickpeas, bacon, ham, chicken or shaved turkey. There is quite the selection of fresh premade salads such as potato, cucumber and tomato, greek pasta, macaroni and tuna, rice and lentils, coleslaw, almond apple, couscous and vegetables or even a Mexican corn and bean, but a lot of them aren’t guaranteed to be nut free. That’s okay though because within their selection of vegetables they typically have olives, golden beets, mushrooms, and pickles which allow me enough variety. For topings there are “superfoods” such as goji berries, pumpkin seeds (which I cannot have), chia seeds and flaxseeds not to mention dates, raisins and dried apricots for some natural sugars.

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If I am not eating at the salad, I tend to lean towards the soups, my preferences being the sweet potato soup, carrot ginger and apple parsnip.  I was adventurous and tried a Portobello quinoa burger which was a bit bland, but the side of sweet potato fries really hit the spot.IMG_7848 IMG_8102 IMG_8123

 There is always a “home cooked dinner” option which I’ve never tried but does look good. It is composed of a protein (usually chicken or roast beef, occasionally salmon), vegetable (green beans or broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix) and starch (potatoes of some form). I always go for the Global Cooking Bar, which they prepare in wok’s in front of you which gives you more control of what goes into your meal. I enjoy the stir fry (tofu, chicken or beef over rice noodles, rice, egg noodles or quinoa), seafood soup (mussels, halibut and shrimp in a tomato broth), taco bowl (chicken, beef or bean in a whole wheat tortilla with vegetables, fresh cilantro, sour cream, homemade salsa and guacamole) but I’ve seen Macaroni Bar or Homemade Pizza bar as well.1373026_343724812429970_961238998_n1376063_343724805763304_1196948331_nIMG_7770 IMG_8147 IMG_8055 IMG_8028

The dining pavilion is great at accommodating allergies, intolerances and preferences by providing nut, gluten and meat-free dishes. They usually have a warm vegetarian dish such as ratatouille and baked tofu for each meal and not only is a salad offered in replace of a bun  (i.e. Chicken breast on Caesar/Greek salad) but there are gluten-free breads as well. IMG_8126IMG_7847

Breakfasts are also quite good although I’ve been cutting costs by making this meal in my room. I have tried their crock-pot oatmeal once which was unreal and I’ve also heard they have quinoa, home fries, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, bacon, eggs and omelets bar.IMG_7754 IMG_7753 IMG_7756

There is always yogurt, whole fruit, cereal, toast, bagels, muffins and cookies if you are just wanting a quick snack, or if you wanted more typical cafeteria food there are burgers and fries, pizza and pre-made sandwiches for convenience. For the most part the café is fresh, but there is a selection of candy, chips, pop and ice cream novelties. They can’t expect the entire residence to want to eat broccoli pizza so it is thoughtful to make more traditional takes on pizza too.

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So while this isn’t a standard WIAW post, I hope it gives you a feel about what Brescia’s new cafeteria is all about. I do miss home cooked meals seeing as eating in a dining pavilion feels like I’m “eating out” and spending money that I could be saving if I purchased items in bulk. Regardless it is definitely convenient and I don’t think I would have time to balance school and healthy eating if I had to cook. I feel that there is enough options to suit a variety of needs and wants, but not too much that it overwhelms me. Did I mention I can use my meal card at our school’s Starbucks Kiosk? I’ll save that for another post. Happy Wednesday!  ♥ Molly

“Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food.” – Mary Catherine Bateson

Myrtle Beach: Final Recap

Myrtle Beach’s warm temperatures and abundant sunshine left me spending most of my days by the pool or on the shore. No need to stay indoors since the weather cooperated leaving us without a drop of rain. Clearly we picked the week well because other vacationers complained that the days leading up to our arrival were dark and dreary.111111111 1333 133333

We stayed at the Sea Watch Plantation Resort located on a private beach with very friendly (and attractive) lifeguards. Our balcony overlooked the ocean so we frequently saw fireworks at nighttime. The resort was neither busy nor noisy, so I often fell asleep while reading in a reclined chair by the pool. I guess that is the advantage of traveling when summer holidays have ended for most Americans. 14 62

While I enjoyed lounging in the heat, my fair skin can only take so much sunshine so I did enjoy endless shopping, delicious dining, and plenty of tourist attractions. Some of my favourite activities included seeing salt water taffy being made, product surfing in Kroger and Lowe’s, go-karting, jet skiing, beachwalks by the pier, seashell hunting and of course card playing. I’d recommend stopping in at Barefoot Landing which had chain stores and one-of-a kind boutiques. I really enjoyed the “Natural Life” paper products at Ron Jon Surf Shop and the jewelery at Francesca’s. If you are looking for an afternoon adventure, try visiting Broadway at the Beach which is a combination of gift shops, eateries and kid-friendly activities such as Ripley’s Aquarium, Planet Hollywood, WonderWorks, MagiQuest and even Dragon’s Lair Mini-Golf. I really enjoyed “It’s Sugar” which was a candy shop with oversized Wonka products and a large assortment of gummies, M&Ms, jelly bellies, soda (I called it pop by accident) and other sweets. e2wwew 12212121212

The most entertaining piece of the trip was Pirate’s Voyage. The dinner show, sponsored by Dolly Parton, featured a combination of acrobatics, acting, singing, dancing and even performing animals such as dogs, sea lions and parrots. They did a great job rewarding and treating the animals with respect, which to me is very important. If you can get over drinking soup out of a cup or eating a quarter chicken with no knife, then you will really enjoy the show. They even got children involved in mini contests.144444 11111111 31312121185205_330724617063323_797455069_n

I would definitely recommend Myrtle Beach as a family vacation location, however if I returned to the Carolinas I might visit Charleston, South Carolina or Outer Banks, North Carolina instead. While the resort we stayed in was clean and updated, parts of North Myrtle Beach were a bit run down by tacky tourist shops. You know something is fishy when seafood buffets are only $6.99 for all you can eat. Overall I really enjoyed myself. Nearing the end I did miss my own bed and my family, but for the most part the time flew by and I was sad to say goodbye to the coast. I am so grateful to have been included in Caitlin’s family’s annual trip. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming group of people, although I did get laughed at for all of my food shots and selfies.

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I feel behind in blog posts and blog reading but it was nice to take a break from texting and facebook. I had many firsts for instance being stung by a jelly fish, seeing a pelican in flight, finding a lettered olive (South Carolina’s State seashell) and successfully running 2 miles on the beach without stopping. As I said before, there really is something for everyone whether that be golfing, playing tennis, riding the skywheel, visiting the theatre, or investing in some new clothes. It is an affordable destination and there really never was a dull moment. ♥ Molly

“To find a seashell is to discover a world of imagination.”  – Michelle Held

Myrtle Beach: WIAW

This post was intended to be published on Wednesday, August 28th 2013.

Today was my last morning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While I am sad to be back at home I must admit that I missed home cooked meals, my own bed and of course my family. I have so much to look forward in the upcoming week that I haven’t had time to dwell on the fact that I no longer overlook the ocean from my balcony. Blogging has also hit a low but I promise to update you on all of my adventures, starting with good eats since it is WIAW after all.WIAWbutton

With the exception of this morning and Cracker Barrel, breakfast was typically a smoothie, yogurt or cereal with fruit! I had the pleasure of dining at Cracker Barrel which was overwhelmingly busy but delicious none the less. It isn’t exactly fine dining but I did enjoy my scrambled egg, yogurt parfait and fried apples. In my opinion, fried apples are essentially the filing of apple pie. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t have the granola in the parfait since it was pre-made with nuts. Oh well! This morning I ate at the resort’s breakfast buffet. They had an omelette bar but I didn’t think I could stomach eggs before getting on a plane so I opted for an assortment of fresh fruit and mini waffle instead. I also had a bit of french toast that was just alright and I sipped on hot coffee throughout my meal.4 1208925_329880783814373_1198689563_n 13

Lunch was usually eaten in the room with an assortment of crackers, cheese, shaved meats, buns, salad, veggies and fruit. Surprisingly we found ourselves at the Tilted Kilt for a quick bite to eat one afternoon. It’s an interesting venue, probably meant more for males, but if you can get over the crop tops, short skirts and knee high socks the food is good. I ordered the Chicken Tendered Salad, which was served with a mustard vinaigrette. I wasn’t fond of the fried chicken but the dressing had a neat tang, which complimented the mandarin oranges well.6 15

Snacks included chips, popsicles, fruit and a drink from the tiki bar. Not my typical eating but it was vacation so I wasn’t expecting to eat purely clean. I am proud that I can finally order foods that aren’t necessarily grilled (fried) or bland (no seasoning or dressing). 10

Dinner was where the fun began. The Carolina Roadhouse was recommended to us on our flight down and it did not disappoint. In fact we ended up eating there twice. They are known for their croissants and prime rib, neither of which I am fond of, but I ordered a Grilled Rosemary Salmon Salad which came with a croissant that changed my outlook on white carbohydrates. Usually I pick breads with more sustenance but this was flakey and flavourful and when it melted in my mouth it also took with it my heart. I enjoyed my meal so much that I ended up ordering a similar meal the second time around. I was feeling a bit nauseous from the long car ride, so I just got a house salad but switched out the almonds, bacon and ham for shaved turkey. I am glad that the restaurant was so accommodating of my allergies and preferences. I also had a few onion rings and nachos prior to the meal, and a spoonful of Caitlin’s potato soup. I’d highly recommend this restaurant to anyone but be sure to book a reservation since it is very popular and overly crowded. Others at my table really enjoyed the prime rib, but be warned that medium is still very raw and red.8 16

We also ate at the Olive Garden twice because it is a family tradition to begin and end the trip with an Italian meal. On the first visit I enjoyed the soup (minestrone), salad (garden) and breadstick combination. The second time I ordered a plate of mussels steamed in a garlic wine sauce. I devoured them and still had room for a few BLANK which are Italian dognuts that we drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce.1 5 2 3

Other meals included take in pizza from Hungry Howie’s, shrimp and chips from Finn McCools and even a pirate feast at Pirate’s Voyage. The feast included a vegetable soup, chicken, corn, potatoes and an apple turnover. I tried my first glass (which turned into 4 glasses) of Unsweetened Cold Tea. It was so refreshing.14 88 7

We had a kitchen in our suite so we cooked two of our meals. One night we made fajitas which I ate without the tortilla as a mexican salad and the other day we had freshly caught shrimp. When the kids and dads were jet skiing the mom’s flagged down a shrimp boat and purchased 7lbs of headless shrimp. They then spent 2 hours de-veining which couldn’t have been fun or pleasant but it was well worth it because our meal of veggies, ceasar salad, old-bay seasoned shrimp and rice was delicious.9 12

Taking a break from reality is what a vacation is all about and that includes venturing out from home cooked meals that you are familiar with. So while I couldn’t have southern Pecan Pie because of my allergies, nor did I eat pan fried-pork, fatback or biscuits and gravy, I am glad that I was able to try a few southern favourites! ♥ Molly

“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.” – Erma Bombeck

Warm Potato Salad

My family knows how to cook potatoes well which doesn’t surprise me since this humble vegetable is very versatile. My grandmother is known for her amazing mashed sweet potatoes (which really only shares the same name, since it’s a root vegetable not a nightshade), my nana has a great scalloped potato recipe, my dad can make melt in your mouth twice-baked potatoes and my mom sure knows how to toss a warm potato salad. While I don’t love potatoes in any form, the preceding dishes are far too tasty to pass up. The heavy consistency of potatoes leaves me feeling almost too full which is perfect when I need extra comforting. IMG_6845

It’s been rather chilly (okay, cold for my liking and for it being Summer) this past week which has left me craving warmer foods so I couldn’t have been happier when my mom suggested making her warm potato salad. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and an extra helping of carbohydrates was exactly what I needed, or so I’m choosing to believe. Besides, potatoes are technically vegetables it’s just that their high content of starch makes them taste more like rice or pasta, not that there is anything wrong with eating copious amounts of carbohydrates.IMG_6849

I couldn’t let my mom have all of the fun in the kitchen though, so I offered to help which ended up consisting of a lot of picture taking with a tiny bit of chopping. Whoops. Just a forewarning, this salad tastes much better than it presents! Regardless, here’s the recipe we came up with based on a very tattered and torn recipe from Canadian Living back 1992 (the year before I was born). It is an excellent source of fibre and iron and even contains a fair bit of protein. What’s your favourite way to cook potatoes? Do you enjoy fried potatoes in the form of hash, chips or french fries?  ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: The world’s largest potato weighed in at 18 pounds, 4 ounces according to the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s enough for 73 portions of medium fries at McDonalds. Did you know that potatoes have also been grown in outer space and that they did not originate from Ireland despite the popular belief?IMG_6853

Warm Potato Salad

Serves 6 as a Main Course, GenerouslyIMG_6832

Salad 

  • 2 lb red potatoes, quartered
  • ½ lb green beans, halved (3 large handfuls)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cans tuna packed in water, drained and chunked (368 g)

Dressing 

  • 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • Pinch of ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a small measuring cup, whisk together white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water, Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil and black pepper. Let dressing sit for 10 minutes to allow flavours to intensify and combine.IMG_6814
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add potatoes and simmer on medium high for 5 minutes or under potatoes are almost tender. Add green beans and continue to boil for 3 minutes or until beans and potatoes are fully cooked. Drain water and transfer potatoes and beans to a serving bowl.IMG_6807
  3. Drizzle dressing and toss in chopped green onions, celery and red pepper. Carefully mix in tuna trying not to break up chunks or mash the potatoes.IMG_6820
  4. Serve on top of a bed of spinach. Enjoy. IMG_6847

WIAW: The Benefits of Eating Tomatoes

It’s Wednesday, which in the blog world thanks to Jenn, means that I should probably be sharing my weekly eats. Unfortunately my meals haven’t been very exciting lately (lots of smoothies, a few chicken burgers, tons of salads, the inevitable ice cream) and those that are post worthy have been devoured faster than my camera’s shutter speed.WIAWbutton

One recent addition into my diet has been tomatoes. Last week my dad made pasta with a pesto sauce. I wasn’t too excited as pasta isn’t my favourite dish but what intrigued me to try some were the grilled shrimp and tomatoes. Rather than adding in carrots or red peppers, he broiled tomatoes for garnishing. They were so good, which looking back makes total sense given tomatoes are in season here in Ontario. Ever since that meal, I’ve been adding tomatoes into sandwiches and salads. I’m even considering blending them into a fruit or mixing them into my baking. Botanically because of their seeds, they are considered to be fruits and its common to bake with fruit so why not? This being said they belong to the night-shade family along with sweet peppers and potatoes so maybe they are vegetables? I’m not too sure, that debate confuses me.IMG_6360

As a kid, tomatoes were much too gooey and messy for my liking. It wasn’t until I tried chilled gazpacho soup from Prêt-A-Manger during a trip to NYC, that I acquired a love for their flavour. Naturally when I hear the word Tomato I think of the song “You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Tomato’…” or, alternatively I wonder why there is an E tacked on to the plural version. Of course the foodie in me thinks about all of the benefits tomatoes have to offer.IMG_6515

  • Tomatoes are good sources of lycopene, an anxtioxidant that protects against some cancers, in particular prostate and cervical.
  • Red tomatoes contain up to four times as much beta carotene as green, but ripe and unripe tomatoes are otherwise nutritionally similar.
  • The beta-carotene helps protect skin against sun damage and the lyocepene makes skin less sensitive to UV light which prevents wrinkles and fine lines.
  • A useful source of vitamins A and C, folate and potassium. They are also low in sodium and one serving provides you with 2 grams of fiber.
  • Tomatoes provide small amounts of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.
  • The vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes help to strengthen and repair bones. Lycopene also has been shown to improve bone mass.
  • Tomatoes are rich in chromium which contributes to keeping your blood sugar in balance.
  • Recent studies show that eating the seeds of tomatoes minimizes your likelihood of developing kidney stones or gallstones.
  • Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids which are known anti-inflammatory agents and can reduce pain.IMG_2701

The only down side to tomatoes is that raw or cooked, they may cause indigestion and heartburn due to an unidentified substance that can prompt acid reflux. As well, tomatoes contain a toxic substance called solanine, which can trigger a headache in sensitive individuals. They’ve also linked tomatoes to setting off allergies, so even if you can eat ketchup, it is possible that in the raw form, tomatoes may prompt an anaphylactic reaction. This is caused by the lycopene within the seeds. Of course reactions are rarely heard of and chances are if you have been eating tomatoes your entire life without indigestion, headaches or allergies, you’ll be fine. Recently I’ve been enjoying them …IMG_6466

  • Sliced: On turkey and avocado sandwiches
  • Diced: Mixed into quinoa and couscous salads
  • Chopped: Quartered into a Greek salad or cubed into a watermelon salad
  • Tossed: With bocconcini cheese, oregeno, parsley and balsamic vinegar
  • Baked: Coated with Olive Oil (Optional: Salt and Pepper) and baked at 400°F for 10- 15 minutes, (Flip halfway through)
  • Fresh: Picked off of my neighbour’s tomato tree (I’m taking care of it since they are on vacation)IMG_7384

You might also enjoy drinking tomato juice, scrambling tomatoes into eggs, cooking tomatoes into a marinara sauce, eating tomatoes whole like you would do an apple, stewing tomatoes into soup, or making fresh tomatoes into a salsa or bruschetta. What’s your favourite way to eat tomatoes? How do you pronounce the ending of the word? Do you consider tomatoes to be fruits or vegetables? ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: Did you know that Tomatoes were brought to Europe from Central America by the Spanish during the 16th century? They were grown as decorative plants in northern Europe but weren’t eaten because people feared that poisons in the leaves might be present in the seeds as well!

WIAW: Light Lunch Menu

Whenever we host a gathering I am usually assigned to food preparation since I am easily distracted when I try to dust, vacuum or tidy. I think it’s a win-win situation since my Emma and my Mom are great cleaners and my Dad and I enjoy cooking. Our family members compliment each other well. IMG_6267

On Saturday, my Mom’s Sister and her Husband came to our house for a visit. We had every intent on going swimming in our backyard but the weather fell through and rained away our plans. My brother-in-law Aaron had even brought this fun pool toy for me to try out. Who needs to swim lengths when this thing pulls you through the water?! IMG_6286

Regardless, it was nice to see my Aunt and Uncle and I know they liked meeting Lottie for the first time. She was the center of attention… next to the food that is. I’m only kidding but we did offer them lunch and afternoon tea since it is a long commute from their house to ours. We figured lighter foods were in need because the heat was very much still present despite the rain. Here’s the menu we came up with.

IMG_6255To Drink: Lime infused Water, Lemonade with Blueberries and Lemon Slices

IMG_6258Starter: Chilled Cucumber Soup

IMG_6257 IMG_6252 IMG_6250 IMG_6271Main: Couscous Salad (Sliced Onions and Red Pepper, Plain Yogurt, Toasted Almonds (Optional), Cumin, Cooked Couscous), Tomato Salad (Fresh and Dried Basil, Tomato, Bocconcini Cheese, Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegraitte), Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Vegetable Platter, Sandwich Quarters (Cucumber and Cream Cheese, Turkey and Spinach, Egg Salad, Roast Beef and Romaine)

Our lunch left us fairly satisfied but we still managed to make room for some homemade chocolate chip cookies and chai tea. We even enjoyed fresh butter tarts courtesy of our guests. Thank you again! Dessert isn’t complete without fresh fruit so we served fruit salad that we ate using some super cute skewers Emma had pre-made using washi tape. My Mom also decorated our house using hydrangeas from our gardens. These flowers never cease to amaze me as they change from blue to pink depending on the acidity of our garden’s soil!IMG_6276 IMG_6279IMG_6234 IMG_6235

We concluded the afternoon with some cold meats, shrimp, cheese and crackers and then parted our ways. It was nice to catch up as we don’t see those relatives often enough plus it gives me a great reason to wear a fancier dress (not that I need an excuse). My Aunt even brought over some letters she had saved that my Mom had written her. Some were from when my Mom was in High School and others were from just after Caitlin was born. My Mom’s writing hasn’t changed a bit – Is that not the perfect Kindergarten teacher printing?IMG_6965 IMG_3031photo-115 photo-118

Well that’s what we ate last Saturday. Thanks again Jenn for hosting this WIAW link-up!  What do you enjoy serving for lunch gatherings during the summer? Has this heat left you snacking on cold salads and sandwiches rather than grilled paninis and hot soups?  I know Jenn posted a great Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata recipe earlier this week which would serve well at a brunch. ♥ Molly

“In family relationships love is spelled T-I-M-E.”- Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

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WIAW: The W’s of my Week

I’ve always wanted to participate in “What I ate Wednesday” (WIAW) and what better way to summarize my week of eating out (birthday celebrations) than through Jenn’s great link-up. I really enjoy reading WIAW posts because they teach me about great restaurants, new recipes and favourite products of fellow bloggers. I love that Jenn reinforces how WIAW posts aren’t meant to be judged or compared to. Everyone is different in their eating habits, patterns, likes and dislikes and these posts should never leave someone feeling guilty about what they ate or better yet, didn’t eat. Sure my last week of meals might not have been extremely balanced or nutritious, but they were delicious none the less. The reality is our bodies can compensate to handle a temporary change in our diet and I am learning that it’s okay to skip salads and overdo dessert from time to time.WIAWbutton

I figured I’d add to the “W’s” in WIAW through “Who (The People), What (The Food), Where (The Restaurant), When (Last week) and Why (We all need to eat)”.

The Restaurant: Fresh, Toronto

The Food: The Holiday Wrap which was a whole wheat tortilla filled with avocado, marinated tofu cubes, garlic mayo, grated carrot, jicama, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion & alfalfa sprouts. It came with a side of marinate kale slaw and we ordered sweet potato fries to share. It was extremely filling and I only managed to eat half since I was saving room for dessert.

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The People: I enjoyed Megan’s company while dining at Fresh. We were staying at her apartment in Toronto since she is a student at UofT which is right down the street from from Fresh, a restaurant we’ve both been dying to try. We followed our meal off with frozen yogurt from Menchies (I got blueberry cheesecake, lemon cake and birthday cake) and later snacked on some fruit and candy while watching Glee.

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The Restaurant: Pumpernickels, Toronto

The Food: There were so many delicious sandwich and wrap combinations to choose from, but I ended up ordering a medium salad instead. They let me choose as many different blends as I wanted so I ended topping a bed of romaine with lentil salad, chickpea salad, black bean corn salad and pickled beets.

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The Company: In March I met Alex at “Unleash the Noise” which was the first ever youth-led Mental Health summit. The experience was life changing and left me with everlasting friendships. Alex goes to school in Kingston so I haven’t been able to see her since, but she was employed for the summer with the same project. I stopped in to say hello and Alex and I used this opportunity to catch up over lunch.26

The Restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory, Buffalo, New York

The Food: I started my meal off with a coffee as I hadn’t consumed any caffeine yet that day. Our waiter also brought us some freshly baked pumpernickel bread that really hit the spot. I ordered Ahi Tartare, which was avocado layered raw tuna and ginger, seasoned with soy-ginger sesame sauce. It came with pita crisps for dipping. I also shared the Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake with my mom. Emma got the Margherita Fresh Baked Flatbreads, my Mom got the Shrimp Summer Rolls and my Dad got the Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos. My mom and I shared the Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake where as Emma and my dad went for a chocolate based variation.

blogpost 3The Company: My family and I traveled to Walden Galleria for some shopping, the day of my birthday. We usually just grab a quick bite to eat so that we can maximize our shopping time, but the Cheesecake Factory didn’t look busy so we chose to have a sit down meal instead. I went in without the intention of having cheesecake but after seeing the pastry case I decided on having a light lunch to save room for dessert.

969774_315887578547027_175737680_nThe Restaurant: The Keg, Oakville

The Food: I hadn’t been to the Keg in ages so I let my friends choose our appetizers since they are more familiar with the menu. We ended up getting Lobster Gratiné which was oven-baked lobster with garlic, herbs and melted Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese, Sante Fe Chicken Dip which was a mixture of smoked chicken, cheeses, chilies, black beans and bell peppers and served with tortilla crisps and Calamari that was lightly fried, with red peppers, jalapenos. I really enjoyed my Bellini as it masked the taste of alcohol and our waitress surprised me with free dessert! She knew about my allergies and brought me Crème brûlée.

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The Company: Caitlin and Elyse, two friends from elementary school, treated me to dinner at the Keg. Despite us being separated in High School and University, we’ve managed to stay extremely close. We opted for appetizers to share rather than one big meal, which allowed us to try more menu items. The food was great but their company was what made the experience so enjoyable. A girl’s night was exactly what I needed.Oh no

So while this isn’t a typical WIAW recap, I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the highlight meals and snacks thaT I munched on this past week. What do you prefer, cooking for yourself or dining out? Do you enjoy chain restaurants or local cafes? What was your favourite meal from this past week? ♥ Molly

“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” – Anna Thomas

City Life and Shopping Tips

Today I am headed to Toronto. Despite living only about a half an hour way, I don’t make my way into the city that often. When I do go, the temptation of spending all my savings is so powerful as Toronto is home to some of the nicest shopping districts and boutiques in Canada. While I don’t exactly need a new wardrobe, I haven’t bought many summer items this year. My friend from High school, Megan, goes to the University of Toronto and has a Condo downtown. I see her on a daily basis as she is my gym buddy (she’s a great motivator and doesn’t take “I’m tired” as an answer), but the few breaks that we take in between laps at the pool don’t offer us enough time to catch up. We’ve been meaning to have a girls night for awhile now, and we decided that we wanted to escape Oakville for a fun shopping trip. I’ll be catching the train around 10:00 a.m. and then coming home tomorrow in time for my driving lesson at 3:00p.m. This leaves us lots of time to shop, chat, eat, and of course watch chick flicks. I really hope to go to Brandy Melville as I’ve never been, try out a Vegan restaurant called “Fresh” and then check out some of my favourite stores including Urban Outfitters and Forever 21. Since I have another shopping trip planned for later this week, I’m limiting my purchases to essentials only. I make myself sound like a “crazy” spender but in fact, I actually have trouble parting with money. I fall in love with so many clothes but by the time I reach the cash I’ve usually talked myself out of most of my finds. This being said, I do consciously think of a few tips before and during my excursions. I try to …

  • Shop with a list:  Today I hope to find a new sunglasses, a pair of cute sandals or wedges, a fashionable bathing suit, and a pair of shorts. These are all things that I need. Even though I probably have too many dresses, they are never frivolous purchases because they are something I wear frequently. I am going to try my best to refrain from buying one, but I won’t be that upset if I happen to find a cute maxi on sale.
  • Set a budget: I’m pre-setting a budget, because I don’t want to get caught up in the moment and overspend on things that I don’t need or won’t use. I’m going to try and use cash for clothing purchases as I find it helps me stay conscious of my total spendings. Did you know that statistics show that you are willing to pay up to 50% more for an item if you are putting it on your credit or debit card? Of course it’s not safe to carry too many lose coins and bills, so I’ll be using debit (lower limit) for food and travel expenses.
  • Start Early: We picked an early start time so that we don’t get stuck in traffic on our way into the city, the malls are less busy and we aren’t fatigued from a day’s worth of activities. We are also mid-week as opposed to the weekend in hopes of avoiding crowds since many will be working.
  • Set a timeframe: While we have all day to shop around the city, we have many areas to check out such as the Eaton Centre and Queen Street. We don’t want to be mindlessly wandering as we have other things on our to-do list.
  • Look Online: To be honest, I already have an idea of exactly what I want to buy. I’m not getting my hopes up since stores hardly ever have the exact item I am looking for, but it gave me a rough idea about sales, prices and what to watch for.
  • Pack Snacks: Nobody can have fun if they are hungry. Food courts don’t always offer the healthiest eats, and you don’t want to be wasting your time searching for a snack when you could be better using your time to try on clothes. I know that I get emotional if I am starving, and I don’t want to have a meltdown in the change room.
  • Trust my instincts: If you aren’t sure, put something on hold. It’s much easier to go back to a store than it is to make a return, especially if you only receive a “store credit”. Shop with a friend who’s opinion you value because it’s hard to trust a sales person who is more focused on selling than whether or not the outfit truly suits your body.

July Finds 2 July Finds July Finds 31. Brya Skirt 2. Solitude 3. Polka Dot Bikini 4. Antica Maxi Dress 5. Floral Wayfarer Sunglasses 6. Kimchi Blue Molly Jacquard Pinup Short

Happy Tuesday! What are you mindful of when going to a mall? Do you pre-shop online or do you like to be surprised when entering a store? What is your favourite trend right now? ♥ Molly

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” – Bo Derek