SUMMER STARTING: IN PHOTOS

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Lovely Lunching

I must admit that when it comes to meals, I always pick favourites and breakfast typically wins out.

But for some reason this week I’ve been all about eating/packing/buying big, elaborate lunches.

Happiness is the soup & salad combo at Hibiscus.

The trick for me is that on any given day I crave a massive-bowl-of-salad more than just about anything but even I can find that tiresome after a while. So I’ve been using a few strategies to continue enjoying my salad bowl while also making my midday meal just that little bit more exciting. Here are some of the tactics I’ve come up with so far:

Kale salad with roasted carrots and broccoli, marinated tempeh cubes, toasted pepitas and about 1/2 cup cooked millet. Topped with a simple dressing of tahini, lemon, agave and tamari.

1) Switch up your greens.

Used to light, crunchy romaine? Swap out for a heartier green like collards or kale. Bored of bland spinach? Top it off with a handful of peppery arugula. Personally I’ve been enjoying kale salads like its nobody’s business. The trick with kale is that you need to rub your dressing right onto the leaves with your fingers before eating. Sounds weird but it works!

2) Roast your veggies.

I always forget that I can use roasted veggies in a salad but I never regret it when I do. It’s as easy as making a double (or triple) batch of roasted zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, fennel, broccoli or cauliflower the night before. Then just toss with a little olive or flax oil and seasonings and refrigerate for use the next day.

3) Pump up the flavour of your protein.

Whether you’re topping your salad with tofu, tempeh, tuna, eggs or chicken remember that lean protein sources like these tend to lack in the flavour department…but that’s where you come in! Tandoori Tofu? Barbeque Tempeh? Curried Egg Salad? The options are endless.

4) Don’t skimp on the toppings.

Sure it’s easy to dig into a salad once you’ve got the bare bones together but topping off a salad with toasted nuts and seeds, chopped up fruit, a handful of edamame et. al. will enhance the flavours of the whole meal not to mention adding healthy fats and fibre-loaded fruits that will keep you feeling full and satisfied!

Extra tips: 

  • Always pair with a delicious beverage aka. tasty kombucha or…say…an almond milk misto courtesy of Capitol Espressso

  • Don’t forget a hot lunch date…

Clearly my bestie knows his way around a smoothie…
And yes. There are two pink straws in that strawberry mango masterpiece cause we’re adorable.

And there you have it! The perfect recipe for a happy, healthy midday meal! 🙂

Fitness Apps: Help or Hindrance?

What a beautiful morning it is here in downtown T.O! The sun is shining brightly, the skies are a vibrant blue & I am double fisting coffee and kombucha like a post-rehabed, pre-weirdfaced Lindsay Lohan.


Peculiar beverage combinations aside, I wanted to take today to nerd out a little and discuss Fitness Apps. 


(source)

For a good long while I thought that using applications on your phone to track fitness goals was a waste of time for someone like me, considering I am not in training for anything in particular nor do I have a desire for either weight loss or a substantial amount of weight/muscle gain. However I realized over time that certain apps actually would make my life a little easier and (just like everything in the health/finess world) I could take advantage of those good helpful bits and ignore the other stuff.

So I’ve compiled a little list of the apps I really do use on a regular basisand the ones I haven’t found so useful…

First up…THE HELPS

1) Standard Stopwatch.

No downloads necessary. Just use the straight-up stopwatch that comes with your phone to measure cardio, interval or strength excersizes that go by time as opposed to reps.

2) RunKeeper

Don’t be scared off by the name, I use this free app all the time even though I’m not a “runner” because it has some really useful functions including:

  • GPS to map your runs or walks when and if you do run outside.
  • Detailed information about your distance and speed (much more accurate than you’d get on a treadmill)

  • And (my personal favourite): The  Coaching function. It lets you set interval workouts  in advance, then gives you verbal cues about when to switch as you go. I use this for indoor and outdoor cardio as well as during strength training as an easy a hands-free timer!

3) Fitness Pro

I recently discovered this app but so far I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s totally free and has a massive library of exercise suggestions AND instructions so you can put together a customized plan that works for you. Customization is crucial because your workouts will vary a lot based on what equipment you do (or don’t) have access to.

It also has a whole anatomy section where you can choose which muscle groups you want to work and it will provide you with suggestions for what to incorporate into your routine. Very informative. A great way to break out of a workout rut and mix things up a bit!

THE HINDRANCES: 

1) Calorie Counting Apps. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Food tracking is a slippery slope and one that I don’t recommend for anyone, even those with weight loss goals. I genuinely believe food restriction is an addiction and one that we are all highly susceptible to. Becoming mindful of serving sizes and enjoying balanced meals and snacks made with unprocessed foods is a much healthier and infinitely more sustainable approach…And sadly there ain’t no app for that.

2) One Size Fits All Workout Apps. 

These include things like the Women’s Health Magazine app, the Nike Fit App & basically anything preset. In my experience the suggestions are good but too rigid and don’t take into account what your personal needs are. Plus you usually pay for workout apps like this and there are typically a limited number of workouts to choose from. And you guessed it….new workouts come at a cost! Better to find your workout inspiration online (for free!) then manually input it to a customizable app.

So…what do you think about fitness apps?

Do you have any faves? Would you consider trying one of these?
Or is the whole thing just too nerdy and not worth the effort? 

Recovery Food & Ottawa Roundup

While the last week of my life brought a whole new meaning to the phrase Spring Fever I seem to have finally made it through. Hooray!

As I was recovering, I received some lovely emails wishing me well (you’re all so sweet!) as well as a few asking me to post about my nutrition choices while recovering from an illness. I’m not sure if I follow any hard fast rules, I usually just give myself what I crave. This week that meant a lot of green smoothies, soups (lentil, butternut squash, tomato, etc.) and Ezekiel Toast Sandwiches with either almond butter, banana and honey or avocado and egg. I definitely favour starchy vegetables like carrots and potatoes and I can’t seem to get enough of oranges and kiwis (which also happen to be extremely high in Vitamin C).

Here’s a little cheat sheet:

In celebration of feeling a zillion times better, I am (finally) sharing some lovely shots from last weekend’s road trip…Broken down by category of things I love.

1) COFFEE. Bridgehead. Mandatory in Ottawa.

2) VEGAN EATS. 3 Course Lunch @ Zen Kitchen. I’m obsessed.

Butternut Squash Soup with Pepitas

Organic Greens

Vegan Reuben with smoked tempeh, house fermented sauerkraut & thousand island dressing on rye bread. Side of house made frites. 

3) CHEAP MANICURES.

4) Shopping BROWSING JEWELLERY.

5) DANCE PARTY!

Primping ensued… (We kept it real classy with beer cups….)

NDMA Live @ Fall Down Gallery (Accompanied by Live Model Body Painting)

Rafter Brews…

Hot date.

I don’t know why but something about this trip got me excited about summer and more summertime road trips…Look out Montreal 😉

Springing Forward & Falling Back…

Waking up this morning I was shocked to realize that I actually slept in to a reasonable hour…Or at least I thought I slept in until I realized it was daylight savings time. Whatever, I was still pleased with myself for waking up past 8…even if it was just a technicality. Small victories, folks. 😉

I’ve got to admit though that despite all of this sunlight and springy weather, I’ve actually been falling back on some of my not-that-bad-but-still-not-great vices to get me through the past few stressful weeks….

Exhibit A: Trashy Reality Television

Downloading Legally purchasing multiple seasons of The Rachel Zoe Project during a period of high-stress is wickedly dangerous territory. This picture is an accurate portrayal of my life recently between the hours of 9pm and…ahem…  <—– infinity.

Exhibit B: Comforting Food

Scoff all you like but for me a piping hot mess of steel cut oats is comfort in a bowl. And during a stressful time I get weirdly fixated on eating the same thing at every meal. Instead of judging myself for this, I try to roll with my cravings and eat my oats at whatever time of day I darn well please….

I ate this as a snack somewhere between breakfast and lunch… Half bowl of oats + a mess of berries + pumpkin seeds with a poached egg and spinach on the side for protein and veggies. Worked for me

I’ve also been enjoying more than my fair share of restaurant meals… including this delicious brunch at The Junction Eatery.

Cornbread, blackened catfish, bacon, eggs & smokey baked beans. 

Chopped salad with chicken, fresh peas, cashews, avocado & apples

Not at all easy on the wallet but definitely low stress and comforting.

Exhibit C: (Discount) Shopping

I blame She Does The City for inviting me to this ridiculously adorable sale event at The Gap. I mean…25% their entire spring line? So dangerous for a bargain hunter like myself.

Liquoring us up with free pinotDownright lethal.

They were really hocking these coloured pants…even the DJ was wearing some (hidden under his macbook…hehe). I left with a pair of cropped black jeans that weren’t part of the sale but were already marked down 50%…. Pahaha. So predictable.

Exhibit D: Old faithful…

What addictions/habits/crutches do you fall back on when you’re feeling stressed?

Healthy Hipster Q&A + A Long Weekend Roundup

Good morning everyone! And those of you living in Ontario Happy Family Day! Is that the worst name for a civic holiday of all time? Possibly. But I have a long weekend in February so who’s complaining?

First up, some exciting news! The Healthy Hipster was featured by Toronto-based sassfactory & pilates instructor extraordinaire Brittany on her blog Fine Tune Pilates. So if you want to hear me rant about exercise trends, scrawny hipsters, the fine art of gym fashion & songs I can’t stop listening to….Read the interview here.

I haven’t spent much time at home over the long weekend so my eats have been extremely grab and go. Reheated steel cut oats, almond butter & jam sandwiches, crackers, baby carrots & fennel, heaps of hummus & about 3 bars of dark chocolate have been my main sources of sustenance. Since these don’t sound like pretty pictures to me, I figured I would dedicate today to a photo journal of the things I officially deemed more important than elaborate meals this weekend.

Stuff I bought:

Tickets for two shows I am crazy excited for in March.

This almond milk cortado @ Capitol Espresso in Parkdale.

New jewellery. I saw this in a little vintage store and immediately exclaimed “IS THAT AN EAR CUFF!? ” Clearly it is now MY ear cuff.

Stuff I did:

Stopped into one of my favourite bars up on Bloor St. West The Piston…Don’t let the all black paint job or the lack of sign fool ya, it’s a friendly little spot that also happens to host some great live music shows. Thursday was no exception as one of my absolute favourite Halifax import bands The Taste tore the place down with swoonworthy Harry Nilsson style pop jams.

The Piston. Source: BlogTO

I also popped into Nobody Writes to the Colonel to wish a happy birthday to my good pal Graham Wright. I’d never been to this spot before but it’s warm, cozy atmosphere put everyone in a particularly adorable mood I think.

[Cute, fuzzy red pics courtesy of Spencer MacEachern]

Friday was a big ol’ Motown dance party called The Big Sound, featuring a local Toronto indie bands singin nothin but the hits. It. Was. Amazing. Don’t believe me? Watch this.

And you guessed it, I’m off again to enjoy this last day of long weekend freedom! Although I must say I’m looking forward to posting some new recipes this week as domestic self is feeling rather abandoned at the  moment and the kitchen is calling my name!

Strength, Stretching & Snacking

Was it just me or was today an absolute whirlwind? I have been so busy since getting back from Texas the days have started to blur and the fact that Wednesday is almost over blows my mind.

After waking up way too early to hit the gym I discovered I was out of both almond milk and coffee. BLERGH. Fortunately I prepped my breakfast yesterday so I didn’t need milk – it was basically a repeat of this not-so-pretty bowl of oats from Monday except I skipped the smoothie and just stirred  Sun Warrior Protein Blend into my oats along with a hefty scoop of peanut butter and berries. Sounds weird but it worked in a pinch. To get in my caffeine hit I sucked back some disturbingly strong Irish breakfast tea mixed with a little stevia. Again, I worked with what I had… Cause I’m zen like that 😉

Okay onto the good stuff: today I wanted to speak very briefly about stretching. It is no secret that I am a big advocate of strength training on the blog, in whatever form that might look like for you. Whether its weights, yoga or pilates…dog walking, baby carrying or grocery hauling…I just love to see strong ladies (and gentleman) using their muscles. But if you want to see and feel your best you need to remember to fit in stretches before and after your workouts.

It might seem like a pain at first but trust me the real pain happens when you don’t stretch.

Here are some of the stretches I do every day, workout or no…

Back Stretch

Leg Stretch: Step on your Hands!

Shoulder Stretch: Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

My workout this morning looked a little something like this:

20 mins cardio
Treadmill: 1 min run/1 min incline walk, about 15 minutes
Track: 5 minutes very random interval running. Sprints, jogs, walks, etc. Closest thing I can get to outdoor running in the chilly winter months.

20 mins strength
I loosely based my workout on Julie’s Legs and Ab Circuit only she is a machine and I am not. So I tweaked it a bit for myself. Ended up looking like this:

10 pushups
50 squats (with a 6lb weight)
50 bridges (with a 6 lb weight)
10 pushups
30 side lunges (15/side)
30 side plank hip lifts (15/side)
50 bicycle crunches
20 mountain climbers
10 push-ups
50 seconds plank hold
30 squat jumps
30 jumping jacks
20 sit-ups (with 6 lb weight overhead)
10 pushups

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full circuit workout like that and OOF is all there is to say. Glad I fit it in though since I have a busy week ahead and may or may not have quality gym time to spare.

My food today was a bit all over the place – a big snacking plate of salad dressed in flax seed oil and balsamic, sweet baby carrots, sauteed chicken breast, Mary’s flax crackers, light cow cheese and 1/2 an avocado doused in sea salt…

PLUS 2 big bowls of crunchy millet rice cereal topped with almond milk and about a zillion blueberries and raspberries…
Neither the first bowl or the refill lasted long enough to have its picture taken. 🙂

 And in case you’re worried about me, I finally squeezed in a coffee today…around NOON (eegads!)

Do you stretch try to stretch every time you work out?  Once and a while? Or avoid it completely?

Coffee of the Day

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Americano with a side of Nostalgia @ Halcyon Coffee Bar. Austin, Texas.

Coffee of the Day, Island Style

Well somehow I’ve managed to find myself on Prince Edward Island once again…

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It’s a wonder to me how much the Island manages to stay the same after all these years of back and forth, leaving and returning.

One new addition however was Samuel’s Coffeehouse, a cozy little cafe serving top notch espresso right at the foot of Summerside’s scenic ocean boardwalk. 20111107-121840.jpg

The music was surprisingly delightful (Feist’s The Reminder followed by the new Fleet Foxes record) and the space felt warm and welcoming, flooded with natural light and exposed brick. I was particularly excited about their stack of magazines as well… Flipping through them with my grandmother was the perfect way to start my day.

Coffee of the Day

Feel like shaking things up from your usual drip coffee/latte routine? Try a cortado!

It’s somewhere between a bold espresso macchiato and a smooth, foamy cappuccino. Reminds me of the cafe con leche I used to drink every morning when I lived in Spain. Delish!
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Cortado made with Soy @ Lit Cafe on College St…with a side of The Onion 😉 Perfect way to start the day.