Feeling Juicy.

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I was watching Ingrid a.k.a. MissGlamorazzi on Youtube last night, and she made a beverage with beet juice in it. The vibrant purple colour was so beautiful that I knew I needed to go buy some beets after work and make my own beet beverage!

Before today, I really dismissed the thought of drinking beet juice. The first and only time I ever had a beet beverage before was at Jugo Juice two months ago where I got the Cant’ Beet This juice. The strong beet flavour really took me by surprise, so I was kinda turned off the whole idea of drinks with beets in it. But seeing how refreshing Ingrid’s video made beet juice look, I decided to give it another chance, and oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did!

I didn’t want to drink pure beet juice, so I did a little googling and found a recipe on the Minimalist Baker (link here) for an apple, carrot, beet, and ginger juice. This recipe doesn’t require a juicer which is great because I don’t have one! I decided to skip out on the ginger because I was a little scared that it’d be too spicy (I know, I’m a wuss), but I think I’ll try to add a small nub in next time. Sieving the juice through a strainer was a little tedious, but the end result was so worth it! I diluted the juice was a little bit of water to make a cup of ~16oz. and it was divine. The nutty beet flavour was perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the carrot and apple.

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I was so impressed by how refreshing the beet juice was that I decided to experiment a little with the fruits and veg I had on hand! The yellowy-green juice you see above is the result of me combining celery, cucumber, orange, and pear together. I thought long and hard about what flavours would go well with the limited produce I had available, and I think these 4 flavours blended beautifully to create an amazing juice! The cucumber provides a cool and fresh taste that balances the sweetness and tang of the orange. The pear is a light base that adds a slight tart and sweet flavour to the drink. Flavour from the celery is very, VERY apparent, so if the taste of celery overwhelms you, maybe add 1 stalk instead of 3 like I did!

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Because I am married to the internet and love to research everything about food and healthy living, I came across Pressed Juicery while browsing- They are a company that specialize in selling pressed juices (lol, duh Amy) for juice cleanses. Now I’m all for healthy living and routine detoxes, but not when it costs $200! I don’t understand how juice for a 3-day cleanse can cost as much as food for an entire month! (Okay, maybe not a month, but at least 3 weeks!) I will happily continue to make my own pressed juices, because I for one am way too poor to afford that cleanse.

But I’m not even complaining because making juice is fun! Yes, it is a little time consuming when you have to use a blender instead of a juicer, but you get to decide exactly what fruits & veg you want and how much of each. You can decide to make it a little sweeter with a few more pieces of fruit, or if you want more green goodness, you can load up on the kale! It’s actually really fun and being able to drink the end product is so rewarding! Is it weird that I find so much enjoyment from making juice? Probably. But oh well, I like it!

Anyway, if you’re interested in adding beets to your diet, the beet juice by the Minimalist Baker is a MUST try! Beets are great detoxifiers with a ridiculous amount of folate (the stuff that promotes the production of red blood cells and reduces the risk of heart disease)  and the ability to help lower blood pressure, so why not add it to your diet?! Oh! Also, remember to add the leafy green stems at the end of the beet root to your juice! The stems are also packed full with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so make sure not to toss away all that goodness!

Do you guys juice regularly? If so, what are your favourite fruit & veg combos? Please let me know! I’d love to try out some new juices this weekend 🙂

Till next time!

Love,

Amy

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Back to You

It’s a crazy thing what our mums do. Their strength and love for us is indescribable… Happy mother’s day mum, I love you.

True Story

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My mom is a very simple woman. She doesn’t dress fancy, doesn’t even shop, doesn’t have hobbies. The thing is, I don’t think she was always like this. In fact, I know she wasn’t. Every couple years at a wedding or something, I’ll hear snippets of stories from her college roommates/friends about when she wore miniskirts and when she’d like to go dancing. Somewhere along the way, it faded, most definitely caused by her responsibility to her family and the family she was creating with my dad… me and my sister. But I know the vibrant, talkative, bright-eyed woman is still there.

In recent years I’ve had an ongoing issue with my mom.

My mom has dedicated so much of her life to raising me and my sister. When she had me, her brain and her heart were re-wired to always think of us, save for us, spend for us, provide…

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There’s No Place Like Home

DSCF0178“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

My friend Grace shared this quote with me on a card before I left for my work term 8 months ago, and at the time I didn’t realize how true these words were to describing my feelings about coming home. 
Before flying home for vacation, I thought about all the things that could’ve changed since I left. How different my parents could’ve looked, how my friends could’ve changed, and even how Highway 7 might finally be finished construction… but once I got home, everyone and everything was pretty much unchanged. Parents looked the same, friends were not one bit different, and freaking Highway 7 was still under construction (Seriously?It’s been like 2 years…). But I couldn’t shake the feeling that things have changed. Didn’t realize until I looked up at Grace’s card pinned on my bulletin that I’m the one who’s gone through changes over the time I’ve been away. 
Living alone and away from home has changed me quite a bit. 8 months of solitude in a small town has allowed me to enjoy my alone time and meditate on all the thoughts I neglected when I was back home and preoccupied with the busy city-life. With all this time to yourself, you realize a lot of things about yourself; all the good and the bad. Certainly didn’t realize all the ugliness and bitterness I held onto until I had all this time to reflect, but also didn’t realize all the happiness and opportunities I’m blessed with every single day. I’m 21 now and I think this experience living away from home has definitely helped me finally grow up and realize that I’m not a kid anymore. It seriously still freaks me out to think that I’m an adult now…
It’s funny, isn’t it? How all the years up until19-21 you wish to be older and all grown up and once you reach that age, all you wish is to be a kid again and reminisce on the old days? Well, regardless of wherever I end up in the future, Toronto will always be home and the place that’ll always have my heart.
Okay, no more sentiment! Let me share with you of the highlights of my week back home:
DSCF0147JaBistro Modern Japanese
This was probably the best sushi I’ve ever had and coming from a sushi-crazed girl, that really means something! The fish was so fresh and the presentation of each dish was immaculate.
 Each dish was crafted so beautifully and every bite was bursting with flavour. Their modern twist on traditional Japanese cuisine is really unique and refreshing in this city filled with so many Japanese restaurants. 
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Grace and I shared the sushi bowl and platter and it was more than enough to fill the both of us. The sushi bowl was the chef’s choice of sashimi served over sushi rice and oh my goodness, it was the most mouth-watering, delicious thing ever! The chef selected a gorgeous variety of sashimi that was fresh, vibrant, sweet and succulent. Everything was served in little portions, so there wasn’t anything too overwhelming- all the bits just complimented one another and created a perfect medley of deliciousness in my mouth 🙂
Their soy sauce and all other sauces was also house made! How great is that? If you are ever in downtown Toronto and are looking for some Japanese cuisine that’ll blow your mind, check out JaBistro. 
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5 Seconds of Summer at The Sound Academy 
Never did I think I’d enjoy listening to music from a teenage boy band from Australia, but I was proven wrong when I found 5SOS on Youtube last year. I can see how they draw inspiration from bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte (who I use to be OBSESSED with in the 5th grade), but yet have still developed their own unique sound and style. These 4 lads are tremendously talented and it’s incredible how popular their music has gotten and how ridiculous their fan base has grown over the past 2 years! 
Though as much as I enjoy their catchy tunes and cheeky tweets on Twitter, attending their show made me feel like an old lady in the midst of a sea of 13 year old fan girls. I was definitely in that 1% of people at the show that were over the age of 18. I was looking forward to going to a show to dance and sing along to, but what I really got was trampled over by teeny boppers that revealed far too much skin. Seriously, these girls were so vicious! But I mean, what teenager wouldn’t be crazy obsessed over a group of 4 very attractive boys with cute accents playing in a band together? Then again, I don’t think I was ever as crazy over any band when I was younger as these girls. But hey, music influences everyone differently. 
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Regardless of all the pushing and caddy attitudes, the boys played a great show and made many, many girls very happy. With so much talent and many more opportunities ahead, I’m excited to see 5SOS progress musically and develop into fine young men 🙂
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I also had the amazing opportunity to watch game 2 between the Raptors and Nets. And oh man, it was so crazy! It was my first time ever watching a live NBA basketball game, and to have it be a playoff game was unforgettable. The ambience of being in a stadium filled with thousands cheering my city sent me chills! I watch basketball here and there but when it’s playoff season, I get hooked! Sadly, we lost the series today and I was for sure heartbroken because we were so close!!! In the end it was a one point game, and watching Pierce block Lowry was so crushing. But you know what, we had a great series and the Raptors gave it their all, so that’s what we should be celebrating. Raptors have all of Toronto’s support and we will be ready for next season! 
PS: That final series game between Houston and Portland? Bowing down to Damian Lillard. What a boss!
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The rest of my week at home consisted of lots of brunch/lunch/dinner dates with friends and family to catch each other up with our lives which I am very thankful for. But I wish I made more time for my parents… it was so hard to organize time to see everyone because of everyone’s work schedules. Nonetheless, my week home was spectacular and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. 
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Now back to the frigid north! Did some grocery shopping yesterday and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the beautiful produce. After all the eating out I did on vacation, it’s time to get back on track, eat right, and train hard to be summer body ready!
DSCF0381I hope you all have a delightful week! I’m going to brace myself for the spring allergies that are inevitably going to hit me any second now. Cheers to you, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Love,
Amy 

Breakfast Beauty.

IMG_4772Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how attractive my breakfast looked this morning. Blackberries, bananas, almonds, almond-hazelnut butter, rolled oats with vanilla soy milk. I think I’m in love.

Eating a well-balanced breakfast will help you recharge your brain and make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight, so I urge you all to never ever skip breakfast! If you’re a busy body and don’t have enough time in the mornings (Which I don’t believe by the way. You always can make time to nourish your body with good foods!), try baking these healthy cookies on a Sunday night and store them in a bag to grab-n-go throughout the week. ‘Cookies for breakfast? No way!’ Yes, friends, dreams do come true.

Hope you all have a lovely Sunday!

Love,

Amy

7 Ingredient Cacao-Banana-Nut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies.

Alone, banana and chocolate are superb. But, when paired together, it’s like the interlocking of fingers between two soul mates… in food form.

IMG_4740Today I made these chocolate-banana-peanut butter-gluten free-oatmeal cookies. I know, quite a mouthful to say, but ridiculously simple to make and undeniably delicious. I seriously can’t believe I made these using only 7 ingredients! None of which, might I add, are butter, sugar, or eggs! The absence of refined sugars and reduction of saturated fats in these nutritious cookies makes me feel less guilty indulging in more than just one.

IMG_4714I initially didn’t know what I was going to make; it could’ve been bread, scones, granola… I really just wanted to bake something using the ingredients I had on hand. Little did I know that I was going to make some super delicious, moist mini cookies! This just goes to show how flexible baking can be and it also reminds us to be creative and willing to experiment with recipes.

IMG_4754IMG_4758Sure, these might not look like your traditional cookie, but I can vouch that they are equally as delicious as any chocolatey, sugary, buttery cookie out there! The texture of these are very reminiscent of banana bread. The outer shell is firm and the insides are plush, moist, and bursting with flavour.

IMG_4727As always, I used dates as my sweetener instead of refined sugar. I cannot stress how great incorporating dates into your recipes is. Per 100 grams, dates have 105 less calories, 8% less carbs, and 32% more dietary fibre than white sugar. If that’s not reason enough to switch to using dates instead of refined sugars, I don’t know what is!

IMG_4721Rather than my usual almond butter, I grabbed the almond-hazelnut butter last week at the grocery store and my oh my, this stuff is life-changing. I kid you not, almond-hazelnut butter tastes like liquified Ferrero Rocher!!! Though, I guess it makes sense since Ferrero Rocher is a hazelnut cream-filled chocolate. But you guys need to try it! It adds something different to the cookie rather than just strictly using peanut butter.

Ingredients:

(Yields ~ 40 cookies)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup almond-hazelnut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Place oats in a blender and pulse until milled into a fine, flour-like texture. It’s perfectly fine if there are a few larger pieces of unground oats- it will give the cookies more texture. Place ground oats in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Soak dates in 1/2 cup of warm water. After 5 minutes of soaking, transfer the dates with the water to the blender and blend until the no large chunks of date are visible and the consistency of the mixture is like a thick paste. Transfer paste into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Peel the bananas and mash them in the bowl with the date paste. Keep mashing until no large chunks of banana are visible.
  5. Add the peanut butter and almond-hazelnut butter into the banana-date mixture. If you can’t get your hands on hazelnut-almond butter, feel free to substitute with equal parts of almond butter or more peanut butter. Once the nut butters are added, mix until everything is well incorporated.
  6. Add the cacao powder and baking powder to the mixture and slowly add the ground oats. Keep mixing and adding more oats a little at a time until all the oats are incorporated and everything is well mixed.
  7. Spoon the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. These cookies don’t spread out as they bake, so you can get away with arranging the cookies closer together/fitting more into one baking sheet.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Once they’re finished baking, let them cool for 5-10 minutes, then they’re ready to enjoy!

IMG_4766 I couldn’t be more happy about the way these turned out. I even put them to the test with my anti-health food friends (friends who think anything I make is made out of grass) and they really enjoyed them! They were surprised at how sweet they were despite not using any sugar. They also made a note that these would make a great on-the-go breakfast. The nut butters definitely gives you the protein you need and the oatmeal provides the bulk that’ll make you feel full!

IMG_4733Baking these was such a great way to spend my Saturday evening! I hope you guys give these a try and please let me know if you do! Anyway, hope you’re making the best of your weekend and I’ll talk to you soon!

Love,

Amy

 

Nostalgia of London, UK

IMG_9804-2When I think back to backpacking across Europe last summer, one thing that always comes to mind was how unprepared I was for the London weather. I mean, I’ve heard people talk about the constant rain and cloudy skies, but I guess I refused to believe that London was anything less than a perfect city filled with wizardry & witchcraft, high fashion, and sexy British men with compelling accents and intense quiffs.

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Travelling to London was very special for me. It was the first stop on our backpacking adventure and my first time ever being in Europe, so I was a little overwhelmed with excitement to say the least. Like I said, I was not prepared for the weather at all. I was expecting light showers for a portion of the day, but it was more like drizzling for half the day, heavy rain for a few hours, and a peak of clear skies for 3 seconds. But despite the rain, this beautiful city filled with art, impeccable architecture and rich history, was absolutely magical.

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The five days I spent in London consisted of endless hours of walking, tube-riding, tourist photo-taking, museum visiting, and architecture appreciating. We tried our best to cover all the major attractions/landmarks, but we only scratched the surface within our stay. There’s just so much to see, it was impossible to get to everything! But that’s what I loved about this city- every corner you turned, you’d discover something magnificent. There was always an awesome bridge, a rad local market, a classic red telephone booth (which might not excite some, but I still love them!), or a strikingly beautiful building within my view and I can still remember that exhilarating thrill I had taking it all in.

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My favourite museum was definitely the British Museum (Photo above!). Not only was the historical content rich and beautifully displayed, but walking through the doors and seeing the grand Round Reading Room attached to the unique and stunning glass roof was breathtaking. Everything about this museum was grand and elegant and I couldn’t help but stand there for a good 15 minutes admiring the construction of it all. We ended up spending about 2-3 hours roaming through the rooms since we were short on time, but I would love to go back one day and just spend days here. I just love museums- so much learning within these walls, it’s ridiculous!

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St. Paul’s Cathedral was such a beautiful sanctuary. It’s probably the second grandest Church we visited on our entire trip, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Take a look at the dome of the church in the photo above; all of the art was painted to look 3-dimensional! If the audio guide didn’t tell me so, I would’ve thought those were sculptures on the dome, not a painting! All of the illustrations on the arches and pillars told stories of saints and angels and their spiritual encounters, which all came together so harmoniously. The top of the dome also had a great panoramic view of the city (photos below!), so if you’re ever in London, I highly recommend visiting St. Paul’s. Also, it’s where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married- wouldn’t you want to step foot into the place where there was a royal wedding?!

IMG_9490IMG_9486(View atop St. Paul’s Cathedral)

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Look! It’s the bridge the death eaters destroyed in the Half Blood Prince! Except, it’s still fully intact and very pretty, haha. The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses River Thames. I really love how its modern and innovative design contrasts the classic architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral behind it. The mix between contemporary and classic architecture throughout this city is a perfect balance. Seriously, writing this makes me want to go back to London right now!

IMG_9822-2(No tourist trip to London is complete without a photo of Big Ben! I was lucky enough to snap a shot of this beauty in clear skies!) 

IMG_9681-2(‘At your service, your Majesty!’ Unfortunately I didn’t see anything exciting whilst at Buckingham Palace. Why didn’t you come and greet me Queen Elizabeth, why!!!)

I have no idea what compelled me to write about this adventure that happened last summer, but there’s so much more that I want share with you about London! Though if I wanted to say it all, I’d be coming close to writing a novel. So let’s just end this off by saying I seriously recommend you taking a trip to London. The copious amounts of history and art to take in is incredibly remarkable and an experience you cannot mimic anywhere else. I hope to be back some day soon! And next time, I’ll definitely remember to bring my Hunter boots and a sturdy umbrella.

Love,

Amy