MIMM #12: Did you miss me?

Blogging has definitely been taking a bit of a back seat as I study for exams. I had intended on sharing my Thanksgiving eats last week but it looks like I’ll be sharing them this Wednesday instead. We can reminisce about the good food we wish was still leftovers in our fridge right?MiMM

To be honest, even if I had blogged more frequently this past week, each post would have been pretty dull. I am thankful for so many interactions and opportunities I experience each day but none of them are that out of the ordinary. Right now I am at a time in my life where I am almost contemplating maintaining my blog since I don’t have many recipes to share or projects to explain. I feel like I am in a completely different spot in my life than many of the bloggers I idolize (and hope to someday meet) which works both against and for me. We will see, I’m going through a lot of personal changes such as devoting time to myself through journaling so I’ll just play it by ear.

Now that I’ve gotten my troubling thoughts out of my mind, it’s time to share what marvelous “study breaks” I have been taking these past few days. 1373455_354366861365765_442852624_n

Marvelous is scrounging together ingredients for apple crisp. A few over ripe apples, oats, raw sugar packets and butter packets from the cafeteria can go a long way when you are a student! Note to self: Bring baking supplies from home in mason jars. 1383569_354367951365656_106611557_n

Marvelous is visiting the Covent Garden Market. We arrived just after 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning which gave us plenty of fresh selection from the outdoor portion of the farmer’s market. I found the venders so helpful in educating me about different squashes and kale. I ended up getting purple kale, buttercup squash, 3 large apple (this photo does not do their size justice), 50g pumpkin rooibos tea, Brussels sprouts and romanesco broccoli for $12.00! My friend Katie got purple carrots which we will be roasting later this week. What deals!1058954_354366851365766_2115642163_n 1376692_354366848032433_1312319324_n 1379175_354366858032432_1711697502_n

Marvelous is studying until your brain hurts. I had a few really long periods of productive studying which always feels good. I found this perfect booth area in Weldon library that is both comfortable and quiet (unfortunately it tends to be full) and since it isn’t directly beside my residence I find it less tempting to go home to take a nap! The key is keeping my technological devices in my backpack although recently I tried studying with music, which also worked well!  I’m starting to find enjoyment in learning again which is very pleasing since the past few weeks have been more anxious than fun. I had a research assignment and a few other homework projects that were interesting to complete this weekend.1384290_354367968032321_1445225764_n 1382963_354368031365648_1159859669_n

Marvelous is winning a chocolate bar for understanding Psychology during a review jeopardy game, fishing out (no pun intended) the mussels, scallops and shrimp in a pot of seafood soup, treating yourself (and a friend) to Tim Horton’s Pumpkin Tea before writing a Chemistry quiz, polishing off a 5lb bag of carrots in under 3 days without turning orange, breathing in fresh air on a fall afternoon and witnessing a wedding on campus and in your residence. This picture was just the beginning of their transformation of our eatery as they added in pictures from their destination wedding (in France), an Eiffel tower and more flowers!1380662_354368051365646_997331028_n 1201_354368008032317_822970106_n1381350_354367988032319_152883727_n 1381062_354366854699099_1519896172_n

Marvelous is finally getting time to blog which has changed my mood for the better.  What is marvelous about today for you? Since your positive math-y thoughts worked for Calculus (I am very pleased with my mark), please think about Psychology on Tuesday and Chemistry on Friday! Thanks Katie for a great MIMM roundup and star to the week! ♥ Molly

“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” – Amelia Barr

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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

Apples

We often hear the old wise tale that “An apple a day will keep the doctor away” but do any of us stop to think about why this may or may not be true? Apple 4 Apple 3

Last weekend I returned home under some unfortunate circumstances but was delighted to have a fun opportunity presented my way. My Dad and I go apple picking at least once a year and welcomed the idea of my Mom, Caitlin, Aaron and Lottie joining us for a new tradition. We frequented “Willis Family Fruit Farm” which is in the outskirts of Oakville also know as Milton, Ontario! What I love about the farm is that it is family owned and those selling the apples are the same individuals that look after the apple trees throughout the year. It’s rewarding to show your appreciation for Ontario Farmers by supporting local produce. Ironically this week I was assigned to read a nutrition article that stated that individuals forget that food doesn’t just come from restaurants or supermarkets and instead comes from land and the sea. It’s so true that many of us pay little attention to our roots.Apple 1

By no means is apple picking any cheaper (quite the contrary) than purchasing apples at the grocery store but it makes for a fun excursion that provides plenty of fresh air, fitness and photo taking opportunities. Lottie got to measure herself with their “How Tall This Fall” board and she was just over 2 feet tall. It generously measured me at 5’3”! Willis Family Fruit Farm is one of the few farms in my area that doesn’t have an entrance charge plus they let you try samples of apples so that you can find your preferences. It’s nice that they have such a selection of apples from Sparten to Jonagold, Wealthy to Empire and of course the common Golden and Red Delicious. Typically I am a Royal Gala girl but this year I found the Honeycrisp and Gingergold to be equally enjoyable. Of course had I had time to make applesauce or apple crisp, I would have chosen softer varieties such as Mutsu, Macoun and McIntosh.Apple 10

So could an apple a day really keep the doctor away? I had a pretty bad cold last week and after eating 10 small apples in one week I am feeling better, but I don’t think that is enough proof to have the saying verified. What I can tell you is that apples are low in calories, free of fat, sodium and cholesterol and are an excellent source of fibre. Apples are packed with tons of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B6, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Folate, Vitamin K, Niacin and Vitamin C. Many of these nutrients are found in the peel of an apple. Apples also contain Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and even trace amounts of Iron. As well, apples are high in antioxidants (phytochemicals) which makes them effective in fighting various diseases. Antioxidants strengthen the body’s ability to shield off free radicals that are side products of chemical reactions within your body. These free radicals are what are known to trigger various illnesses. Apple 2

There have been so many studies done to…

  • Prove that chewing an apple reduces tooth decay because it stimulates the production of saliva in one’s mouth which wards off bacteria
  • Link the consumption of apple juice with a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s since apple juice fight the effects of aging (study involving mice)
  • Correlate the antioxidants found in apples with an added protection against Parkinson’s
  • Show that the flavanols in apples can reduce one’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer and that the apple peel helps with anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast.
  • Study whether women who eat at least one apple a day are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
  • Assess how the phenolic compound found in apple skin prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery wallsApple 9

So many people fear apples because like most fruit, they contain a high amount sugar. However these sugars are natural and paired with the high-fibre content of apples, the sugar is released into the bloodstream slower which helps to keep blood sugar levels steady.Apple 6

Apples have always been my favourite year round fruit. I’ll never forget how my grade 1 teacher could twist an apple in half using only the strength in her hands and arms! In my opinion apples are great snacks and I enjoy eating them whole or sliced, heated with cinnamon, baked into a pie or cooked into oatmeal. I typically choose apples that look firm, are well coloured and have a smooth skin free of bruises. Apples have a long expiration period so they store well either in the fridge or in a fruit bowl on the counter for up to 90 or so days. The only unappealing part about apples is when their inside is exposed to air since it oxidizes to a brown colour. One tip is to dip cut apples into 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts water! Apparently orange and apple juice works just as well if you don’t like the taste of lemons.Apple 8

All round Apples are a fun food.  Does anyone else feel obligated to eat an Apple as they play the  game Apples to Apples? Easy to pick and even easier to eat, apples are nutritious and delicious. It’s been a while since I posted, let alone posted about healthy eating so I’m happy to be back with a fresh fall fruit. William Family Fruit Farm also sells pumpkins so I hope to visit the patch later in September. Fall definitely has its perks! What is your favourite apple variety? Do you enjoy the skin of an apple or do you peel it away? Do you believe in old wise tales? ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: The apple tree originated in Central Asia and today China is the leading producer of apples.

September Favourites

Happy September! By now you are used to my monthly favourites and with today being move-in day to Brescia, there’s no surprise that the theme is back-to-school.

I was assigned a start-time of noon and since London is only a 2 hour commute I don’t have to leave until 9:30 or so. This leaves me ample of time to blog since the vehicle was packed up last night thanks to my Dad. I’m not quite sure how he managed to fit everything in while leaving room for four passengers. Saying I over pack is an understatement, which is precisely why I’m too embarrassed to post a photo of my load after the addition of clothing, technology and last minute room decor. Panicking that I forgot something is oh so common for me but it’s better to be over prepared right? I neglected to mention my suitcase was 10 lbs overweight when traveling to and from Myrtle Beach but lucky for me I was let through with no charge! Whoops. September Favourites

1. Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie 2. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 3. Kate Spade Le Pavillion Laptop Sleeve 4. Swingline Colour Bright Staples 5. Roots Mini Alex Pack 6. Swingline Red Stapler 7. Studio Oh! 2014 Live Simply Agenda 8. Wilson Jones Heavy Sheet Protectors 9. Pier One Sticky Note Pad Set with Owls 10. Quartet Screamers Dry-Erase Markers

But since today is the beginning of a new month not only is it time to post items I look forward to purchasing, I’ll also be taking the opportunity to outline some goals. I’m adding in a school category because I think those objectives should be kept separate from personal ambitions.

Blog

  • Reconnect: I took a lot of time off from blog writing and reading during my vacation to Myrtle Beach. While I am not about to dwell that my posts weren’t published to my standards (weekend posts, lack of consistency and weird timing), I do miss the friendships I was starting to build as I left comments on other blogs, or kept track of what other bloggers were pursuing. With school work fast approaching and homework soon accumulating it is unrealistic to think I will be able to dedicate more than an hour to the blog world each day. My goal is to become a more concise writer and really start to utilize organizational tools so that I can read blogs more effectively (blog updates).
  • Layout: My blog appearance still isn’t where I’d like it to be. I’m questioning whether I want to become self-hosted or even splurge for a customizable domain. Regardless I want to sit down and really learn what is available in terms of font sizes, colours, gadgets and widgets.
  • Subject Matter: Since I have a prepaid meal plan that I need to use, I don’t plan on cooking for myself very often. While I hope to create a recipe at least once a month either on a weekend home or using the oven provided in our lounge room, I am going to have to become more creative with my blog posts. While my blog isn’t necessarily a food blog, I have trouble coming up with equally interesting topics to write about (apart from food). If you have any suggestions just let me know!

Personal

  • Nutrition: I’ve been having a lot of allergic reactions recently, especially after being stung by a jelly fish in Myrtle Beach. Earlier in the week my arm swelled up and we aren’t sure if it is because of the sting or because I was around nuts. Usually I am not that sensitive but it’s really the only explanation since my sting wasn’t infected! I’m going to have to be extremely cautious about reading cafeteria food ingredients and asking how items were prepared. I’m also going to be extremely aware of fueling my body and brain since I have a tendency of eating less when I am busy with school work. Nutrition is so important for my concentration and with a history of restrictive eating I don’t have room for a slip because it could easily turn into a spiral.
  • Appointments: Come September 9th I will be having a lot of appointments. Right now many of them seem unnecessary but I know that they are in place for a reason and I need to stay accountable. I need to manage my time so that I don’t feel like they are taking away from study sessions.
  • Friendships: While I am open to meeting new people, I also don’t want to lose touch with my friends back at home. I am hoping to find a balance between my school and social work without one overpowering the other.

School

  • Readings: I am writing this as a personal reminder to stay on top of my homework. I’ve never been one to procrastinate but I do worry when deadlines approach. Not having enough time is a big stress for me. Being ahead of the course material is definitely better than being behind since lectures serve as a review as opposed to being an unfamiliar lesson.
  • Extra Help: I’m not very good at asking questions because I worry others will think I am stupid. This is an irrational fear and the bottom line is that if I don’t understand something I need to ask for clarification. Chances are someone else is thinking a similar thought. Western, especially Brescia’s campus offers so many clinics or help sessions and I should try to utlize them for all that they are worth.
  • Have fun: I truly love learning but when grades come in to play I often put too much pressure on myself which takes away from education being fun. My goal is to take this year as a learning curve and chances are if I am less stressed I will perform better. I also want to engage in extra curricular activities without taking on too many commitments. Volunteer work and involvement is equally important for getting the most out of your University experience and it does enhance a resume for purposes.

I’m both excited and nervous for school to begin. I’m excited to be reunited with friends in London but I am sad to leave my family (and other friends) behind. I never realized that I am actually kind of a homebody! Thank goodness for Skype and Facetime or else I might not recognize Lottie when I come home in 3 weeks. I’m only kidding but she is growing and learning at a fast pace. Luckily I have a week to settle in before classes begin which allows me to re-familiarize myself with campus and a sleeping routine. Can’t wait to share photos from my new room with you. Take care. ♥ Molly

31 Days Later

31 days ago I committed to drinking at least one smoothie a day for the month of August. I’ll admit that I was primarily motivated by Charissa’s Colourful Smoothie contest. I wasn’t even sure I’d be stick to my goal because I was going away for 11 days and blenders aren’t exactly easy to pack in a suitcase, but after just a few short days of drinking colourful smoothies I found myself craving these produce creations. The challenge quickly turned from hoping to win prizes to wanting to improve my eating habits such as incorporating bigger breakfasts into my diet. I can tell a difference in my energy levels, sugar balance and overall well-being since starting to drink liquid nutrition.Colourful-Smoothie-August-2013-Challenge-Copy-510x253While smoothies can easy pack in unnecessary calories or added sugars, if you stick to a 40:60 ratio of greens to fruit you’ll be sure to have a nutrient dense and tasty beverage. If you ever find spinach to be overpowering, add a banana, more milk or chocolate to mask the flavour! I found myself drinking smoothies for breakfasts and snacks because those were the times I needed to prepare meals that were not only easy to make but quick to clean up. What’s great about smoothies is that they can keep in a refrigerator for up to 3 days so you can make them in advance for times when you are hungry but in a pinch. When I wasn’t in the kitchen I opted to snack on a Starbuck’s Strawberry Vivanno (1/2 the protein, non-fat milk) or the Raspberry Rapture blend from Booster Juice. Charissa also had a lot of low-sugar variations, my favourites being the Wild Blueberry Shake, Lemon Meringue Smoothie and Dark Chocolate Protein Shake.Smoothies 1Most of my combinations included a banana, spinach, skim milk, vanilla protein powder, ice and another fruit such as strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, orange or kiwi! I enjoyed switching it up with the addition of frozen cucumber/peaches instead of ice, cinnamon, cacao powder, shredded coconut, instant coffee granules, vanilla, cottage cheese, silken tofu or even tea (chai or green). For “how-to” breakdown of making smoothies be sure to check out my WIAW: Smoothie Edition post.

Smoothies 3So even though I learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work (complimenting flavours, the ripeness of fruit and blending techniques) I still haven’t quite mastered photographing my creations. Even nice bowls or unique garnishes (fruit sections, oats, cereal, seeds) don’t mask the weird colours created using the most flavourful combinations.

Smoothies 2I really enjoyed this challenge and I hope Charissa makes it an annual event. I can only imagine how much work Charissa put into tracking everyone’s consumption and for that I am truly grateful. ♥ Molly

“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

Myrtle Beach: Salt Water

Most people would agree that salt has a bad reputation. Correlations between eating salt and raised blood pressure are very much present. High blood pressure poses a threat for putting a greater strain on one’s heart, arteries, kidneys and brain which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.45

But is all salt bad? Not in my books! While I don’t add salt into my baking or cooking, sodium isn’t the first item I look at on a nutritional label! I’m not going to get into a debate as to why sea salt may be better than table salt because we are all entitled to our own opinions and the most notable differences are within the taste and texture. The fact of the matter is that swimming in sea salt does have some tremendous benefits for our bodies and since I’m vacationing on the ocean I feel compelled to share some fun facts with you. After all, I have to live up to my “healthy living” blog motto.22

There’s no doubt about it, salt water is cleansing to the skin because it increases moisture retention. By detoxifying your skin, your whole body automatically feels rejuvenated since your skin is the largest organ in your body. Overtime, swimming in salt water can help to treat skin disorders such as eczema and acne.33

Not only will swimming help keep you beautiful on the outside, it will also help in keeping you healthy in the inside. One’s mental state may be renewed from swimming in salt water since it is a way to relieve stress and release endorphins. Salt water contains bromide, which helps reduce the inflammation of joints and muscles, which in turn lessens muscle pains. Salt water also has higher buoyancy so it is easier to float within. Studies have proven that salt water can restore the body’s natural balance, which promotes self-healing and can make you feel and look younger. When you swim in salt water, it stimulates your blood circulation, which is great for your health. Your nervous system benefits from the magnesium present in salt water, as are potassium and sodium. Calcium is also present which we know is great for your bone health.66

In contrast to chlorine, which has the tendency to cause red eyes and itchy skin, salt water is better for your overall comfort. I must admit I’ve really been enjoying the salty water of the ocean. Swallowing a gulp isn’t fun, but my hair is feeling silkier than ever. In Ontario we are blessed with Great Lakes, but you won’t find ocean water anywhere. I’m not used to watching out for jellyfish or sharks but I think I could get used to looking for washed up beach glass, seashells and sand dollars. I can’t wait to go jet skiing later in the week so that we can flag down a fishing boat for fresh shrimp. I brought an underwater camera to document the excursion. I’ll definitely be sharing photos from my trip so far later in the week because I have to many funny stories to contain until I get home. Bye for now! ♥ Molly

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”  – Dinesen, Isak 

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!

A Healthy Cookie Recipe

Many of you have mentioned that you enjoy reading my nutrition posts but I just want to remind you that I am not a dietitian and my knowledge about vitamins and minerals isn’t as extended as I hope for it to become. While my diet works for me, I would never recommend for someone to copy my lifestyle as there is no scientific calculation behind what I eat or reason why it should or would work for someone else. One day I overindulge in ice cream and the following day my body compensates by craving vegetables. I might not be the best person to quote nutritional benefits but I do enjoy doing it and I am sure to research my facts before publishing posts. These pointers are written in my own words but are based on knowledge I have learned in school and through nutrition textbooks or cookbooks. So I hope nobody is bothered by the fact that I don’t have a title behind my name but am still going to continue blogging about food and it’s nutrition!IMG_6439

A lot of my recipes surmount as a way to use up expiring ingredients, cravings I have been having, or because I am lacking a particular nutrient in my diet. I bought an abundance of dates back when I was making No-Bake Energy Bites and I’d like to try to use them up before they harden. I’ve tried them in Smoothies as they are wonderful sweeteners, but in all honesty I figured I could better utilize their chewy texture. So I figured why not bake them into cookies because they are soft, moist and sweet. I don’t remember eating that many store-bought cookies as a child because my Mom baked often, but when we would have packaged cookies I really liked Fig Newtons. I suppose I had sophisticated taste buds in comparison to Rainbow Chips Ahoy because they are not only pricier, but also not as eye appealing. Sorry, I didn’t come up with a much more aesthetic or kid-friendly looking recipe but I can promise you they have some nutritional benefits. Not only does this recipe contain wheat bran which is a great source of dietary fiber since it is the outer layer husk of the grain, but more importantly it contains dates.IMG_6431

Did you know Dates contain…

  • Vitamin A: While it is a small amount, Dates contain Vitamin A which can help facilitate vision. Vitamin A is also required in maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin.
  • Dietary Fiber: Dates contain both insoluble and soluble fiber which will help to keep the body feeling fuller and satiated longer. Fiber prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut and can aid with constipation since it is a natural laxativs. Dates also contain Tannins which like Fiber, help to rid the colon of harmful toxins which can reduce the risk of developing an intestinal disorder or cancer.
  • Simple Sugars: The simple sugars of dates are easily digested making them a fast source or energy.
  • Antioxidant Flavanoids: Dates have many antixodiant flavonoids such as Beta-catotene, lutein and zea-xanthin that protect the bowel from free radicals and toxins. Eating dates has been linked to increased protection from colon, prostate, breast, lung, and pancreatic cancers amongst others.  Zea-xanthin also protects one’s eyes from age-related macular degeneration since it is a dietary cartenoid that is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea (yellow spot within the eye).
  • Iron: Dates are rich in iron which is used in the red blood cells and determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
  • Potassium: Consuming dates helps reduce blood pressure as potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids. For this reason Dates also contribute to controlling a healthy heart rate.
  • Minerals: Dates contain manganese, copper, magnesium and calcium. Copper increases red blood cell production, Manganese is a co-factor in an antioxidant enzymatic processes, Magnesium is essential for healthy bone growth and Calcium is important for bone growth and strengthening. Calcium is also required for blood clotting, nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction.
  • Vitamin K: Dates are a great source of Vitamin K which serves as a blood coagulant that helps with bone metabolism
  • Vitamin B- Complex: Found within Dates, B-complex vitamins metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

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When consumed in moderation, Dates definitely make a healthy snack on their own. They’d be perfect for an energy boost mid-day and also contain many cancer-fighting and anti-aging nutrients . These cookies will definitely leave you satisfied because of their fiber content, but don’t lack on flavour because of the filling. I hope you enjoy. ♥ Molly

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.”  – Buddha

Date Newtons

FillingIMG_6457

  • 1 ½ cups dates, pitted
  • ¼ cup orange juice (½  orange)
  • ½ tsp ginger, grated

Dough

  • 1.5 cups oats, ground in a blender
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup wheat bran
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the filling by blending together dates, orange juice and ginger in a food processor on high until combined and smooth, approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Grind the oats into a fine powder using a blender or food processor. Pour into a mixing bowl adding with it, whole wheat flour, wheat bran, baking powder and cinnamon.IMG_6407 IMG_6410
  4. On low speed, beat together dry ingredients while gradually adding in vanilla extract, water, applesauce and maple syrup. A thick, dough like consistency should form.IMG_6412
  5. On a piece of wax or parchment paper, roll out dough into a rectangle.IMG_6415
  6. Spoon filling into the centre of your rolled out leaving at least 2 inches on the top and bottom, and ½ inch on each end.IMG_6419
  7. Using the parchment, fold the top segment of the dough over the top of the filling. Peel back parchment paper to lay flat on the surface of your workspace.IMG_6422 IMG_6423
  8. Using the parchment fold the bottom segment of the dough so that it overlaps with the top segment of dough. Fold in both ends.IMG_6424
  9. Slice into ½ inch cookies and transfer onto baking pan leave space as the cookies expand slightly.IMG_6425
  10. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a chilled glass of milk.IMG_6448

August Favourites

Can you believe it is August already? I typically fall culprit to saying that “time flies” at the beginning of a week or month, but I just can’t get over the fact that we are over half way through 2013.

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At the start of July I set a few goals for myself. I am happy to announce that I have accomplished most of them and feel pretty satisfied with the progress I that have made on the others. When I found myself in a pinch as to what to blog about, I fulfilled the objective of creating two DIY posts. I successfully participated in MIMM (#1#2, #3, #4) and WIAW (#1, #2) by adding a personal twist to each! I also really enjoyed commenting on posts as I got to know fellow bloggers on a more personal level. Blogging is a learning curve and I’d love to hear what sorts of posts you enjoy reading or find boring. I really do value the insight some of you share through remarks.

With September fast approaching I am going to cut myself some slack and go easy on my August goals so I am only setting 6 as opposed to 10. After all, I am headed to Myrtle Beach mid-month so I don’t know how much free time I will have between packing for my trip and buying items for residence. I’m also planning on continuing to soak up the sun, stay active and maximize my social gatherings with friends from home before I move away. I’m going to try to pre-write a few posts although I will have my laptop with me on vacation. If anyone would like to do a guest post I’d love to feature your writing. This being said, come September I won’t be able to blog every weekday like I am used to, so I should begin transitioning to fewer posts. It’s hard to practice scaling down because I like sharing my finds, eats and activities on a daily basis. Sigh.

Anyway, it is August which means it is time for some “favourites”. I noticed that I do things a bit backwards by posting my “favourites” at the beginning of the month as opposed to the end (recap format), but I can’t help myself from getting excited about the new fashion trends and cool décor. Here are some items I am hoping to purchase this month!

August Favourites1. Crocheted Fruit Coasters 2. Full Steam Ahead Nail Polish 3. Catherine Street Pippa Purse 4. Instant Mom 5. Anchor Necklace 6. Pinterest 7. Strata Dress 8. Garmin Swim Watch 9. Handwritten Quotes 10. DIY Headband

As for my goals, here are some realistic endeavours I hope to achieve this August:

Blog Goals

  • Editing: My posts have been getting pretty long which I know can be discouraging for followers. Not only are they time-consuming to read but they also take a while to write. I am hoping to cut out unnecessary details so that I am able to focus on improving my grammar and spelling mistakes. The perfectionist in me despises the fact that I always have at least one error in every post. I haven’t been very thorough about re-reading before publishing. This being said I am not an English major, so don’t hold your breath on complete accuracy!
  • Photography: Lately I have been skimping on my photos by using my iPhone instead of my DSLR. Some people can capture great shots with their phones but mine never seem to be in focus. As a result, the quality of my photos is lacking so I would like to get into a routine of bringing my camera with me on more excursions. I am also hoping to read a Food Photography E-Book so that I can become more creative when capturing pictures of my recipes. Even though I have Photoshop I don’t actually know how to use it, so for the month of August I am going to try and learn how to do basic colour enhancing and photo editing. When I began my blog my intent was to showcase more photos than words so to match this desire my posts need to be switched up a little!
  • Schedule: I recently purchased a new agenda and I am going to sit down and pre-plan some blog posts. I want to create a schedule so that each day features a different type of post. This way I can continue to offer posts including DIY projects, Recipes, Nutrition Facts, Everyday Living Topics and even Reviews. Come September I know I will be thankful if I already have a topic for each day of the week. It would become very monotonous if each post was about the same subject or in the same format.

Personal Goals

  • Exercise: On my vacation I will naturally be living a more active lifestyle so I don’t expect to be swimming laps in the ocean. This being said I don’t want to forgo the exercise regime I’ve created this summer so I am going to challenge myself to run on the treadmill or beach even though I am not a natural, fast or very good runner. I would like to focus on increasing my endurance level in running since my swimming stamina is already pretty good. This will also be beneficial come September. It will be a lot easier to run outside or on the treadmill than to try and work around the available free-swim time slots at the gym.
  • School: School used to be my “constant”. It was something that went well despite everything else that was going on in my life. Even when I was dancing 24/7 I managed to keep great grades and stay on top of my homework. People tell me I am “naturally” smart although I am not very confident in my academic abilities. Since I took time off from University I am a bit anxious to return. My intent is to mentally prepare myself so that I don’t go into University with an all-or-nothing mindset. I am used to getting over 90% but I have decided to take this year as a learning curve and to set my standards lower. In reality, first year doesn’t really count towards your final GPA.
  • Nutrition: The reality is I don’t like breakfast. I yearn for the day that I will wake up hungry but I always seem to crave coffee or protein shakes instead. Eggs, bacon, French toast and waffles have never been my thing. I admire the people that can eat cold pizza or dinner food, in the morning! Sure, I enjoy oatmeal but I much prefer eating it as a snack. This month I am participating in a Smoothie Challenge hosted by Charissa from “Colourful Palate” so I hope to have one each morning. Be sure to join in the fun! Lately I’ve been seeing some pretty interesting combinations and I am intrigued to try them for myself (Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, Oats). After all, breakfast is suppose to be the most important meal of the day and with school on it’s way, I need to practice fuelling my body so that my concentration remains is enhanced to it’s peak.Colourful-Smoothie-August-2013-Challenge-Copy-510x253

Well that was long winded and went against my goal of keeping my posts concise. Whoops : ) Happy August! Do you have any travel plans for this month? Have you set any intentions for yourself? What types of posts do you enjoy reading most? Would you like to see more recipes, DIY projects or personal messages? ♥ Molly

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” – Henry Ford