My Green Smoothie Variation!

Tired of my healthy blogs yet? Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple of restaurant food blogs coming up soon. My diet has loosened up considerably since I started, but I’ve lost a total of 10 pounds now! Yayyy.  It took me almost two months, but that’s because I pretty much stopped exercising about a month ago. I knoow, booo me. But, I have switched to a healthier (food) lifestyle. I don’t eat fast food anymore, and I’ve been drinking exclusively water for about two years now, save for the occasional tea or alcohol. But since moving away from Toronto, I don’t find myself drinking (alcohol) every weekend or every other weekend. I’m mostly a hermit.

I never thought I’d become one of those people, but I actually caught myself saying, “Ugh, is it organic though…?” the other day, and I found that weird. But I’ve been trying to buy organic food when my budget allows and when it’s available. I’m not too strict on it. I’ve heard people say that generally, the things where you don’t eat the peel (oranges, watermelon, etc) you don’t have to buy organic, but other things you should (lettuces, veggies, etc) or at least wash very very thoroughly before using.

So, in accordance with this healthy (food) lifestyle, I either have my oatmeal for breakfast or this smoothie that I’m going to share with you. For the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve been having this smoothie exclusively because it’s so darn tasty. This smoothie gives me tons of energy and usually keeps me full for 4-5 hours! I’ll have it in the morning before I go to work and then by the time my lunch break comes around, I’ll have just started to get hungry.

I first heard about green smoothies from one of my favourite vloggers, itsjudytime, on her daily vlog channel called itsjudyslife. Her husband, Benji, does a green smoothie/juice recipe on his channel, BenjiManTV. I made up my recipe by watching them make their smoothies, as well as doing my research on green smoothies (it supposedly makes your skin glooooow), and adjusting it to my own taste preferences. So without further ado, here we go!

Alright! This is what I put into my smoothie on a pretty regular basis. Well, except for the mixer.. that’s just what I use to mix them all together… jeez.

So I start off with half a banana (~50 cal.), as much spinach as I can fit (~10 cal.), and some almond milk (~25 cal), just so it’s not too thick. You can adjust the amount of almond milk to how thick or thin you like your drink. You can also substitute for water if you want to lower calories, or coconut water for a delicious flavour. I actually added fresh coconut water with some coconut flesh the other day, and it tasted super fresh! As you can see, after blending, the drink is a wonderful bright and alien green.

Please forgive my typography here. Next, I put in one stalk of celery and a few slices of apple in there (~15 cal.). I like to mix my ingredients in batches because it doesn’t overwork my magic bullet. If you have a full-size blender, it can probably handle all the ingredients in there at once, but I like how I just have to wash the “cup” I use after I’m done with it instead of a whole different container (I hate dishes).

Now this is where it gets… sludgy looking. I add in 1/4 cup of my frozen berries (~40 cals.) and 1/4 cup of my frozen fruits (~40 cals depending on the kinds of fruits). You can easily do this with all berries, or even no berries at all. I had a berries and mango mixture going on for a while. Yum yum yum!

I add some more spinach for good measure. A cup of spinach is only 7 calories, people! And you can’t even taste the spinach. You can also add kale, which is a known superfood, but I’ve never had kale before. Once, my brother bought me a spinach blend instead of just spinach, and it had radicchio and arugula in it. Usually, I love arugula, but I found its flavour in a smoothie much too overpowering.

I only add half a scoop of whey protein in to save calories. Also, if you follow my vlog, you will have seen that the first time I ever made a smoothie, I added a whole scoop, and though it made me very very full, I really disliked the sickly sweet flavour. I use the vanilla flavour from Kaizen 100% Whey Protein. For more information about protein, what protein he uses, and for more health and fitness information, check out my friend Edmond’s blog. Boy is cut as heck!

Here’s the nutritional information for the protein that I use:

So, half a scoop of protein is about 75 calories. You can skip it, but I feel like this is the thing that really keeps me full throughout the day. Though it’s a lot of calories for one ingredient, it keeps me from eating more later on. I mix everything up after adding the whey protein.

Next step you don’t really have to add, but I like to put in a third to half a package of plain oatmeal (20-25 grams) which equals 65-95 calories. I would usually add just bulk oatmeal but I had some packages leftover. If you’re watching your calories, I would exclude it, but I wanted to have more fibre. That’s about 25% of the reason. The other 75% is because with the berries, there are those really annoying raspberry/strawberry seeds that are left and you have to chew and get stuck in your teeth. So I add in the oatmeal (and shake, not blend!) so that I have something that I can chew and distract from the annoying seeds because I added the oatmeal on purpose. Plus, I like chewing something substantial in my smoothie. The best way to add oatmeal in is if your smoothie is relatively thick. If it’s too juice-like, it’ll just sink to the bottom. Ew.

So in total, this smoothie comes up to about 330 calories. About 250 if you omit the oatmeal, and 175 if you omit the protein too. Anyway, I like it because it’s healthy, tastes good, and you don’t even have to add any sugars because the banana, berries, and protein add enough sweetness. You even get some veggies in there without having to taste them! I completely recommend you trying it out! :)

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Homemade Super Awesome Oatmeal

So, if you follow my vlog or tweets or instagram (@Judskii), you might know that I’ve been trying out this whole oatmeal thing. And if you are aware of my presence at all, you’ll know that this is in an effort to not only lose weight, but also to lead a healthier lifestyle overall. I started off buying Nature’s Path organic oatmeal as a kick off point, as I was also tentatively avoiding wheat and wheat-based products. After much agonizing over the ingredients and nutritional information, I had chosen this brand because it had less sugars, calories, and no wheat products (excluding the Multigrain flavour). It cost about $5 and after running through the 8-pack box, my friend was telling me that I should just buy oatmeal at a bulk supply store and be done with it, since it’s so cheap.

But why stop there? Instead of just buying plain oatmeal, I set out on a quest to make my own super yummy deluxe health oatmeal mixture. I stopped at bulk barn on Wednesday (senior and student discount day!) to get all the things I needed. The whole thing cost me $10.78 altogether. Well, it would have been $11.05 without the discount, but still, what a great deal! It was nearly 2kg of oatmeal mix, compared to the 400g of the $5 pre-packaged oatmeal. The only real problem was if I could include as much nutrients and healthy things that Nature’s Path did. Scroll to the bottom for a video if you don’t want to read it all.

So here it is, my list of ingredients, along with their total combined nutritional information. The chart may be a little difficult to read, so don’t worry if you don’t look at it, I’ll explain fully below.

***Nutritional information is to serving size and not quantity***

Ingredients: Quick rolled oats, textured vegetable protein, chopped walnuts, steel cut oats, flaxseed, goji berries, craisins, chia seeds, and currants.

Before I go into each ingredient, here’s a breakdown of the nutritional information of the oatmeal per serving compared to Nature’s Path nutritional information.

Each serving is a level 1/2 cup. At a quick glance, my mixture (on the left) has more fibre, protein, vitamin A & C, calcium, and iron than the MultiGrain Raisin Spice Hot Oatmeal as well as less  carbs, and a lot less sugar and sodium (which is you’re worse enemy if you’re trying to lose weight because it makes your body retain water). I’m not too sure what’s causing the elevated levels of saturated fats but at only 7.2% of the recommended daily intake, it doesn’t look too troublesome.

The price difference between the two is not as large as you think it would be because I had added craisins (dried cranberries) that I had on hand, which weren’t calculated in the $10.78 bulk barn total purchase. The bag of craisins cost about $5 and I put 2/3 cup of the cranberries in. Without the cranberries, the price per serving drops to $0.368, less than half of the prepackaged oatmeal.

The following is a breakdown of the health benefits of each ingredient.

Quick Rolled Oats/Steel Cut Oats

I decided to pick up both of these because I didn’t really know what the difference was. They seem to both have the same nutritional information, but I knew that the quick rolled oats are what the instant oatmeal is made of (softens faster) and wasn’t sure about the steel cut oats, so I added them in for experimental purposes. Now, as everyone knows, oatmeal is marketed as a cholesterol lower..er. It’s rich in fibre, which in partnership with protein, keeps you full for a longer period of time. It also allows nutrients to be better absorbed into your body and helps with bowel movements that princesses dream of.

Textured Vegetable Protein

This is often used as a meat-substitute by vegetarians and vegans who don’t get enough protein in their diet. After my unfavourable experience with certain flavours of whey protein, I decided to try this out instead. It’s a great source of protein (obviously), fibre, calcium, and iron. It’s made out of defatted soybean flour, which comes during the process of making soybean oil. It actually comes out to being cheaper than whey protein (at 0.799 cents and 3-4 cents per gram of protein, respectively). The only drawback is that TVP has less bioavailability (thanks Edmond for teaching me that fancy new word) than whey protein, which basically means that the nutrients don’t get absorbed into the body as easily.

Chopped Walnuts

I added these in for a nice nutty flavour and a crunchy texture into the oatmeal, but walnuts are known to be very cardiovascular-friendly (good for your heart and blood system!) as well as being an anti-inflammatory. They’re a good source of fibre and vitamin E.

Flaxseed also called linseed

I picked these out because through ambient knowledge, I was minutely aware of it being touted as a healthy addition to your diet. However, upon further research, it seems that chia seeds (below) have got them beat in every aspect. I might omit them next time to save the calories (they seem to have a high caloric content), or I might leave them if I decide that the oatmeal just isn’t the same without flaxseed.

Goji Berries

Goji berries seemed to crop up everywhere a few years ago when they were introduced as the world’s newest “superfood.” It’s said that they help with your eyesight and ward off vision-related health issues as you age. They are nice and tart, and really take the oatmeal out of its bland stage. They are also very popular in salads, trail mix, and smoothies.

Craisins (Dried Cranberries)

I added these cranberries on a whim just because I had them on hand and thought the added berries would be great. When I make this oatmeal next time, I don’t think I would put the cranberries in because there are already goji berries and currants in it, and I always add banana into it anyway. The craisins don’t do much in terms of nutrients and only seem to add unnecessary sugars and carbs. If you like them for the flavour, it’s okay to keep them in because the end result is already very healthy.

Chia Seeds

They are no longer just being used to grow hairy clay animals! Even Dr. Oz endorses chia seeds. They are supposed to be able to absorb 12 times its own weight, which helps you keep full for extended periods of time. They’re also a great source of protein and calcium, which means their good for your bones, hair, and nails!

Currants

I grabbed these just because my coworker and I were talking about them a few days earlier. I wanted to go with a berry themed oatmeal, so I thought these would be perfect. They’ve got good fibre, and they’re also a good source of iron, potassium, and all those lovely B vitamins.

Sorry, I don’t have the measurements in cups/spoon measurements, but below there will be a video in which you can eyeball how much ingredients I added. Though I have exactly what I used in the video here, next time I’ll probably omit cranberries and flaxseed, and add more chia seeds and goji berries/currants. The oatmeal was not too carefully planned, so don’t feel like you have to stick exactly to the recipe. Feel free to adjust it to your liking.

Recipe/ingredients list:

This makes almost 2 kg of dry oatmeal, and at 1/2 cup servings, which the above nutritional information is for, should last you about a month. For 1/2 cup, combine with about 2/3 cup of boiled water, depending on how thick or watery you like your oatmeal.

  • Quick rolled oats – 1,090 g
  • Textured vegetable protein – 170 g
  • Chopped walnuts – 185 g
  • Steel cut oats – 135 g
  • Flaxseed – 115 g
  • Goji berries – 85 g
  • Craisins – 80 g
  • Chia seeds – 60 g
  • Currants – 40 g

Some might like the overall flavour a little sweeter, so you can add brown sugar, honey, or even maple syrup. After adding hot water I like to add a tiny bit of brown sugar, and some (calorie-less <3) cinnamon. I also add half a banana (50 calories), my calories per serving jumps to 309. Although it makes me worry when I add extra calories, I don’t worry too much because this oatmeal keeps you full for a long time and gives you tons of energy.

And that, my friends, is my long-winded explanation of my daily breakfast food. Here’s the YouTube video that shows what the quantity of ingredients looks like:

A Lazy Sunday at Bobby’s Hideaway

Sunday is me and Dandelion’s designated ‘fancy breakfast’ day. Now, it’s not like we get along particularly well, but we do share the same interest in not starving to death, so we’re cool on that front. Having since moved to Mississauga, we haven’t had much room to explore the area, so the only place I’ve been to is called “Bobby’s Hideaway.” (Thank you, Urbanspoon!) I’ve been there once with Adri and Claire when they came down to visit, and this past Sunday was my second time there with the brother, for a total of three visits.

Bobby’s Hideaway is on Queen St, just west of Britannia, in Mississauga. I think it’s within Streetsville borders. When we arrive, there’s a line up to get in, the place is rather popular. Inside, it’s filled to the brim with people, and the smells are delicious, like any other breakfast place. The walls are lined with portraits upon portraits of people named Bobby, or any variation thereupon. Barker, Marley, and Hope, among dozens of others. It’s a fun concept, I think perhaps the owner’s name is Bob, but I could be wrong.

The brother always orders the same thing when we go out to eat. The biggest normal breakfast he can find. This one’s called the “Weekender” and comes with eggs, potatoes, two sausages, two eggs, two pancakes, two pieces of toast, and a slice of ham. I’m not a big fan of pancakes, but he insists that these ones weren’t that great. They apparently tasted undercooked, and the maple syrup was not even enough to save them. The potatoes are lightly seasoned with a small unsatisfying crunch on the exterior. I’m not a big fan of potatoes though, so however you like your taters, these would satiate a normal person quite nicely.

This was actually rather good to eat. I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s basically a hamburger steak topped with baked beans and sauteed onions, with a side of potatoes and a fried egg (overeasy, please).  I think it came with some buttered toast as well. Now, I like meat, I like beans, and I love onions. This meal was fantastic. The meat wasn’t too dry, and adding these things on top blew it out of this world. It’s just a combination that I’d never even thought before.

I first tried just the beans with the meat, a nice savoury flavour that with its pasty texture, when combined with the burger meat, makes for a pleasant gastronomic experience. Then I tried eating it with the onions, and onions and beef are always a good pair in my book. If I had to make a complaint though, I’d say it’s a touch too salty. When you mix everything together though, it just takes on a new face, a breakfast item I’d never seen anywhere else before.

Whenever I eat breakfast and there’s an egg involved. I eat it in one of two ways.

1. Dip toast into yolk.

  • Eat remaining egg with ketchup.
  • Eat remaining toast with jam.

2.  Make an egg sandwich.

Now, it may seem obvious to y’all out there, but this thought didn’t occur to me till about a year or two ago. This is the reason they give you lettuce and a couple of slices of tomatoes. (Bobby’s only gives you one slice.) It’s damn ingenious. I mean, if you go with method one, there’s always leftovers and they aren’t as satisfying. There is just something about the union between bread and egg that’s just too good to ignore.

In the same vein, this past weekend, I tried their “Eggs Florentine,” which is a poached egg, accompanied by some spinach and ham, atop a buttered english muffin, and smothered in hollandaise sauce. So, I say I’m a huge fan of a lot of foods. Some argue that I’m a fan of all food, but let’s just say my “top foods” list is a little larger than others. Eggs Florentine kind of encompasses some of my favourites into one. I am in love with hollandaise sauce. Seriously, give me some of that on anything. Me and runny egg yolk + bread have had a long standing affair for quite a while now. And spinach, good old spinach. I don’t quite know what all the fuss is about, people hating spinach and that. This monster greenie is delicious. Ham is ham, and this one had a nice crisp edge. It’s like how I like my bacon, both crispy and chewy at the same time, offering me the best of both worlds. So, yes, I quite enjoyed this dish, even though it didn’t fill me up as much as some other things would have, it was a nice light brunch.

Look at that yolk run. Heaven!

OCAD Initiation

Okay, so university is starting soon. Like in 2 days kind of soon. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Very. I’m glad that I do have someone I know coming to school with me (Zizi!) but I am excited to meet some new people too. It’s been a while since I’ve had to go to a place with barely anyone I know and make new friends.

As a kid I usually stayed at a school for one or two years max, so I was constantly being put in new situations with no close friends. Last time that happened was when I moved to Quebec 6 years ago. But then I finished three years there and then went onto Cegep, where I had a bunch of friends going too, and then went on my way and made more friends. So, it’s been just over 6 years since I’ve got to start (almost) afresh, but here’s to an interesting semester!

To help us get acquainted with the grounds and hopefully meet some new people, OCAD organized some events for students a few days before the semester began. The first of which being the OCAD Orientation. Two days of activities and workshops.

They offered us free breakfast and I was won over.

I only went to the second day of orientation, and to be quite honest, it was kind of mostly for the free breakfast and free goodies. I got some maps, a pen, a nice little bag, coupons, etc. I’m a sucker for free things.

After an opening Native ceremony in which some sorts of incense were lit and a song was sung, the group broke up into little workshops. Bookbinding, diy sketchbooks, mask making, “found painting”, and live model sessions were some of the things available. I wanted to do perhaps the sketchbook course and the live modelling session, but duty called and I walked around the campus trying to get some errands done. I needed my student ID, GO pass, TTC student card, and some other stuff. None of which got completed because of some student loan complications, but I did get my ISIC card, if that counts for anything.

So, after a rather despairing day, Zizi invited me to her new crib for lunch and a beer to make my day a little better. I ended up spending a couple of hours there where she fed me a hearty tomato vegetable soup and showed me around the apartment. She has a studio space upstairs, which is amazing. I would love to move out, but alas.

The next day was an organized peer mentor group trip to the Toronto Islands, rain or shine! We took a ferry (my first!) with a group of about 20 people, for a nice day on the island playing team building sports and meeting new people. We got there at about 12:15, had lunch, and then head out to the field to play some flag football. However, just as we got to the field, it started raining mega-hard and we all huddled under some tree, debating if we should play or not.

We all got soaking wet and head back to shelter, hoping to wait it out. But alas, it was not to be and we just head back to the ferry to go back to the mainland. Even if we didn’t get to play games, we did get to know each other, which was nice. I met two other people in third year graphic design, so hopefully I’ll be seeing them in class this coming Tuesday.

Back to the mainland!

In an effort to save myself from money, I’m going to be walking from the train/bus station to school instead of paying for a ttc pass, which is far too expensive on top of a GO pass. I am not a walker, a shaker, or a mover, as many of you well know, but weather permitting, I’ll be trekking just over 4km each day. I am hoping this will make me a tiny bit healthier, tone these rhino legs, and save me some money. I’ve first got to invest in an umbrella though, for those rainy days.

Well! It is Sunday. I’ve only got a couple of days to go before I’m officially a university student, and I’ve already got to get started on a few assignments. Life continues!

Cooktimes in New House

I tried making breakfast today. We had bread, nutella, and bananas. No problem right? Wrong. Don’t let your eyes fool you, that toast you see up there is not at all what you think it is.

I opened up the bag of bread, ready for my 2pm breakfast, when I looked around and found no toaster. Dun dun dunnn. I specifically remember calling my aunt as I was buying the bread, asking if we did indeed have a toaster. Affirmative. So I opened every drawer in the kitchen, there are a lot of them, and can’t find my bread cooker. I hollered out to her, asking where the toaster is. Right beside the water boiler, she says. Right beside the water boiler. On the counter. And on the counter, next to the water boiler, is what? A conventional oven. Or a convection oven. I don’t know what it is called. It’s not a microwave, and it definitely was not a toaster. It’s one of those tiny, miniature ovens.

I was craving my breakfast, so I decided to have a go at it anyway and put my bread in the machine-that-is-not-a-toaster, turn up the heat, and let it go. I watched it for about ten minutes and when I thought it wasn’t doing anything at all, a faint bit of colour creeped along the edges of the white bread meat. Cool, but then it starts spreading faster and faster. I panicked and took the bread out with my hands for fear of burning the bread. Instead, I burned my hands.

It sat on my plate, and it looked okay, so I spread my nutella over, sliced some bananas, and went to town. Upon my first bite, I knew immediately something was wrong. First of all, only one side was crunchy, while the other side was soft as raw bread. I should have seen that coming, so it was kind of my fault anyway. The second bit though, it didn’t even taste like toast. I don’t know what it tasted like, maybe the leftovers of whatever was cooking in their before. But it wasn’t bread. Maybe some particles of the mini-pizzas that me and my brother had cooked the other day was still floating around in that contraption and stuck itself in my bread, maybe it was some other stuff.

I was unsatisfied and therefore will probably go buy a toaster today. That is the story of my failed breakfast.