Apple Cinnamon Chia Seed and Quinoa Oatmeal/Pudding

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And, I’d like to stress the fact that my breakfasts always always always have to be filling. It’s the only way I can get through till lunch. Now, I LOVE snacking and that’s one thing that I think is stopping me from losing weight, or rather, losing the extra few pounds that I want. So to stop my snacking addiction, I try to fill myself up as much as I can for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (but I will let you know when if it works ;D )

Here is a very healthy breakfast option that’s not only going to keep you full till lunch, but also going to put a smile on your face early in the morning – because seriously, who doesn’t love anything apple cinnamon-ized?!

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Now first thing’s first! Take 1 tbsp of Chia seeds and soak it in about 1/3 cup of water overnight in the fridge and make sure to give it a good shake!

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Chia Seeds 

Chia Seeds are a well-known superfood known to contain a ton of Omega3 Fatty Acids and keep you full longer. This tiny seed expands as it is soaked in liquid, is packed with antioxidants and fiber.

1 scoop Protein Powder (of your choice)

I used Visalus because it’s lactose free, gluten free, non GMO and soy based, and only has 90 calories per heaping scoop.

1/2 cup Quinoa (cooked)

Another superfood that’s widely known to replace any sort of white-grain! I prefer quinoa over steel cut oats or whole oats just because of the superiority of quinoa in fiber content, protein quantity and quality. Each cup of cooked quinoa has almost 50% more grams of protein compared to a cup of cooked oatmeal.

Water (eyeball it)

What can I say about water, you need it, it’s hydrating, boosts metabolism and it’s just an essential part of life!

1/2 Apple (thinly sliced or roughly chopped)

Apples in the morning is great for detoxification and keeping you stomach rolling #tmi #nomsayin. Juice it with a head of ginger and you have yourself a detox drink that will work wonders.

1 tsp Cinnamon (or eye ball it!)

This is my little cheat flavour enhancer! Anytime I’m craving something more sugary like when I’m having a plain greek yogurt or banana nice cream and I need a little ooh, cinnamon is always there to boost the flavour without adding all the bad stuff. It an extremely useful ingredient to boost metabolism and give you all the needed antioxidants.

a sprinkle of Sunflower seeds (optional)  – this one’s a good source of healthy fats and I’m just personally addicted to it

Method:

If you haven’t already, cook the quinoa in water. This should take you about 10 minutes. Then cool it while you prepare the other stuff! It’s really up to your own preference but you can prepare the bulk of this meal the night before. Personally, I love fresh hot quinoa (like really steaming hot!) so I like to soak the chia seeds in water the night before and cook the quinoa in the morning.

Take out your chia pudding from the fridge and add in the protein powder. Mix them very well and slowly add the entire mixture to a bowl of hot quinoa (feel free to add some more water as desired)

Top everything with your apples (or arrange them nicely for that Insta-worthy photo) and sprinkle the sunflower seeds and cinnamon on top! TAA DAAA! you are done!

Enjoy and have a great day!

xo  Sunny

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Homemade Oreos + Early Grey Tea Filling

The other day I was craving for something sweet and I ran out of my usual go-to snack which is graham cracker and peanut butter sandwiches. So I binged on a couple of different things that were not necessarily good for me. Here is the complete and honest list:

– handful of raw hazelnuts

– a homemade banana oatmeal cookie

– 10 sticks of crepe wafer rolls

– a banana

– a handful of raw peanuts

I know this list may seem not too bad, but trust me, all of these things together probably added up to over 500 calories! And the worst part is, it didn’t satisfy my sweet tooth.

I realized what I was craving for was a sandwich cookie just like my PB and graham snack, but levelled-up! So I decided to make a bunch of healthy(ish) ores to stash at home for when I feel like having a cookie. I took inspiration from Molly Yeh’s matcha oreos recipe for the chocolate cookies, and eyeballed the filling entirely. This was my absolute first time eyeballing anything when it comes to baking, and I was pleasantly surprised at the result.

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A big bowl. baking spatula/rubber spatula. a flat workspace for you to roll out dough. rolling pin/something similar. a 2in. diameter circular cookie cutter or I used a tea cup. two baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

*you do not need an electric mixer of any sorts for this recipe to work

Ingredients. (makes about 15-16 cookie sandwiches)

Cookies:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

a pinch of salt

1 100g stick of unsalted butter

3/4 cup mashed avocado

3/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp almond extract

filling:

2 tbs unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c powdered sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of kosher salt

earl grey tea bag

water

Method:

Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and steep tea into boiling water for a few minutes (3-4) then store in the fridge to cool.

Mix together butter, avocado and sugar in a bowl (you do not need a mixer for this) until fully incorporated. Add in the almond extract and salt. Lastly, add in flour and cocoa powder few batches at a time. mix with a wooden spatula/spoon or your hands until fully mixed.

Sprinkle a little bit of cocoa powder on a flat surface and begin to roll out your dough into about 1/4 inches. Cut into 2 in. diameter round cookies and place into a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes and let cookies cool on a cooling rack.

While waiting for the cookies to cool, let’s work on the filling!

In a bowl mix together the butter and sugar with a whisk or a fork, then slowly add vanilla and salt. When they are fully mixed, very gently add in the cooled earl grey tea from your fridge while whisking until you get the desired consistency (it should be just like a peanut butter texture). if you mess up and add too much liquid, just add more sugar. Stuff into a piping bag or a ziplock bag and cut off the edge to pipe.

Flip over cooled cookies so you have the flat surface to pipe the filling on, and begin! Just fill so you still have about 1-2 cm of cookie around because it will spread out as you sandwich the filling. And viola!  Sorta-healthy homemade Oreos! WOOOP!

DIY Natural Face Toner

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I have been fairly stressed the past two weeks. Jumping from back to back meetings, running to the lawyers, running the construction company solely while my brother is on vacation, and doing all the interior work for our new office is slowly taking a toll on my physical appearance. Being (fairly) strict with health and fitness, I always want to make sure I am up at 5:45/6am and in bed by 10:30pm, and on top of that squeeze in the Kayla Itsines BBG 1.0 recommended exercise for the day. The last few weeks however, have been very different. Sure, I still do all of Kayla’s workouts and LISSs, the problem is I don’t sleep enough, don’t drink enough water and have been binging on late-night snacks big-time!

Now, I’m not going to try and make work excuses because that’s just a cop-out and I’m being really honest here. I don’t feel too good. I ate a bag of peanuts, cookies, chips, you name it! That time of the month has also triggered a lot of food cravings and mood swings for me. So overall, my skin is showing its imperfections. One thing I’ve really noticed from not enough sleep and water is that my skin feels a lot oilier than usual and my pores have somehow expanded. Darn you, 12:30am nights!

I have been on the hunt for a nice clean and simple toner that’s organic and natural, and won’t strip my face off of its natural oils as it already tends to be on the dry side. My cousin has really acne-prone skin and it usually very oily. Whenever we are travelling to dryer places, her skin flakes off, which is very weird. Over the years, she has developed a very particular skincare regimen, only focusing on a few key products on here face, mostly from Khiel’s. She told me the wonders of toner.

See, I have had used a toner before because my T-zone tends to be a bit oily. If I am not mistaken, it was the NuSkin toner. But I never got used to it, I always regarded it as an unnecessary added step. Now, I want to get back to using it. But before I go an buy a bunch of different products, I want to try using natural ingredients first. My two go-to brands for my face are Simple and Aveeno. But since I did a lot of research on which toner i should get, I decided to DIY the first toner I use. That way, it’s all natural, organic and edible.

Here’s a quick DIY Natural Toner:

Ingredients:

Green tea contains tons of anti-oxidants and is anti-inflammatory. It’s a natural way to cure a lot of skin diseases and irritations such as sunburns. It has a very soothing sensation, leaving your skin feeling hydrated and calm.

Apple Cider Vinegar restores your skin’s pH levels and should help minimize pores. It also claims to reduce black and whiteheads.

Method:

For green tea, I used a TAZO plain green tea bag steeped in 1 cup of boiling water for 3-4 minutes. And I used Heinz’s Apple Cider Vinegar. I know the smell can be a little overpowering, but that’s what most people say online as well, and you just get used to it. I didn’t want my toner to be too powerful on the acidity side so I mixed in both ingredients at about a 4:1 ration respectively. It really doesn’t matter what the ratio is (standard: 3:1), it’s really up to you. There’s also an option to add in a bunch of different oild of your choice, but I just didn’t want to bother. And lastly, keep it in the fridge.

Review:

I’ve used this DIY toner for about two weeks now and it’s been really clearing my skin. I’m sure it could also be the fact that I’m sleeping better and drinking more water. But the overall effect is definitely good, especially because this entire toner costed me no more than $2 tops!!

Enjoy.

No-fuss Shortbread Cookies

I’m all about easy in the kitchen. Anything that’s easy and quick to make, requires minimal tools and ingredients, and doesn’t require a lot of chilling or stirring, I’m all over that! Last night after a long day at work, I felt an urge to make a batch of cookies for my co-workers who are amazing and get me through the day. I love spending my downtime in the kitchen making breakfast, lunch and dessert treats, so this was not at all any trouble for me. If anything, it was probably as stress-reliever.

Right before I left work at around 6:00pm, I googled “easy shortbread”. And, viola! There were a ton of three/four ingredient shortbread cookie recipes. In my head I just wanted something basic so I could go crazy on the decorating part, and I already knew what glaze to make it my head. Quickly, I ran to the supermarket just hallway between work and home and bought some flour, unsalted butter and a couple other groceries I needed.

Got home, set groceries down, did my Kayla Itsines Week 2 Full Body Workout, and ate dinner with mom and pops. Dinner was grilled chicken breast with garlic adobo sauce, green beans and wild rice. I felt that I ate a bunch of crap that day, so I decided to leave the rice out and just have protein and veg.

NOW that you are probably tired of hearing about my day, I made cookies.

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This recipe makes 12 two-and1/2 in. diameter cookies and calls for:

– 2 sticks softened unsalted butter

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1/2 cup powder sugar

I know, I know!!! What?! Three ingredients?? That’s amazing! And the best part? You don’t even have to chill these bad boys in the fridge before rolling em out! (because who likes waiting two to three hours for cookies?!)

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right out of the oven!

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Celsius or 176 Fahrenheit and prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Measure out all ingredients and in a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter and sugar first. Then, slowly add in the flour.

Mix everything together with a Kitchenaid or hand mixer until it becomes a dough-like consistency.

Once you have your dough, generously sprinkle flour over a flat even surface and roll out dough.

You can cut up the cookies in different shapes. I was quite in a hurry and just rolled them up in balls and patted them down to about 1/3 of an inch in height.

Bake them in the oven for 13-15 min. or until the top of the cookies turn golden. Make sure you check on them because they can quite easily turn light brown and could be burnt.

Let them cool on the sheet for a minute or two before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Easy-peasy emirate?? Now, time to decorate!

Here’s a super simple three ingredient glaze. It’s all about the three’s.

What you will need:

– Powder sugar

– Any type of milk or water

– Food colouring (optional)

– decor/sprinkles (optional)

I was feeling a little bit of stress and angst so I channeled my inner Jackson Pollock. Basically mix in the ingredients to create a pasty consistency. I suggest pouring out you liquid first into a bowl with a desired amount in mind while slowly adding in sugar to create the right consistency. I left some of them glaze-less and topped a few with sunflower-seed.

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feeding my sunflower seed addiction

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Jackson Pollock cookies!

And there you have it! Easy peasy crumbly shortbread cookies. Bon Appetit!

The Military Diet – my reason for doing it

I’m almost at the end of week 1 of Kayla Itsines BBG1.0, and it’s been really good. I don’t feel as tired or as sleepy in the mid afternoons as I used to, and I’ve started drinking a little bit of coffee again (which is always a plus).

I did not end up purchasing the H.E.L.P. Guide just because I already generally eat fairly well and have enough knowledge about the types of food I eat. I eat about 1,000 to 1,250 calories a day before 8:30pm. Typically, this would be something like a piece of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter, half of an apple and a cup of coffee/tea for breakfast at around 7/7:30am. I’d have a mid-morning snack of two saltine crackers or some fruit at 10ish. Lunch would look something like a 1/2 cup cabbage salad with a few slices cucumbers, onions, avocado and tomato, and a lemony olive oil dressing, and sometimes I like to sneak a little bit of fruit in there too like a small banana or some pineapple. Some days I’d have some grilled chicken with light cheese and greens sandwiched between two slices of whole-wheat toast. Another snack around 4pm of a few table spoons of yogurt and nuts because a girl’s gotta eat! And for dinner, I usually have what the entire family is having (just in smaller amounts); quinoa with veggies and some sort of protein or just homemade chicken soup.

See? My general diet isn’t so bad. But it’s what happens after dinner is what kills me!
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I snack A LOT, and it’s terrible because the late-night snacking is the worse of em all!!! I’ll have everything from chocolate and chips to popcorn and cake, you name it! It’s something I’m really ashamed to talk about; and whenever I try to stop or tell myself “tomorrow will be different”, I cannot seem to control myself when I am in the moment. healthy-snacks Just picture the family/friends in front of the telly with all the junk laying around. Who can resist??! I for sure couldn’t. It didn’t even matter that the snacks I ate were somewhat healthy, the amount was still MASSIVE.

This is why for three (3) days a week, twice a month, I will be doing the Military Diet (and will be fairly strict with myself). This diet is designed to make you drop up to ten pounds! But honestly I’m not in it for the weight-loss (although that’s always an added bonus). I just want to be following a strict cleanse diet for 6 days a month that doesn’t include snacking to train myself self-control. Hopefully after three months of doing this, I won’t want to reach for that bag of chips I usually would.

Here’s the breakdown of the Military diet:

For three days, you will be consuming 1,400, 1,200 and 1,100 calories per day respectively. The rest of the other four days, you will still be eating fairly clean but based on your discretion. Basically, you can eat whatever you want, which for me will be my usual meals and hopefully minimized snacks :p  I will still be continuing my Kayla Itsines guide while I do this diet but will be doing it on the days with the least intensity (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

e98b299fce9c05555b1c08e3f1386c39-1-1024x819Day 1: Breakfast is a piece of toast, half a grapefruit, two tablespoons of peanut butter and a cup of black tea or coffee

Lunch is a slice of toast, 1/2 cup of tuna and a cup of coffee/black tea

Dinner is 3 ounces of any type of meat, 1 cup of green beans, 1/2 banana, 1 small apple and a cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 2: Breakfast is 1 egg, a slice of toast and 1/2 of a banana

Lunch is 1 cup of cottage cheese, a hard boiled egg and exactly 5 saltine crackers

Dinner is 2 hot dogs, a cup of broccoli, half a cup of carrots, 1/2 banana and 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream

Day 3 (the killer): Breakfast is 5 saltine crackers, 1 slice of cheddar cheese and one small apple

Lunch is 1 egg over a slice of toast

Dinner is a cup of tuna, 1/2 banana and a cup of vanilla ice cream

To learn more about the Military Diet: http://themilitarydiet.com/ as well as any substitutions: http://themilitarydiet.com/military-diet-substitutions/

Here’s also a link to the famous Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide: http://www.kaylaitsines.com/

Hopefully this helps me stop my nightly snacking!

Best Dishes I’ve Had in Vancouver

I live in Vancouver, BC (well, Richmond really). So it is no surprise that I am a foodie (most if not all Vancouverites are). Over the past year, I’ve accumulated a list of many places I’ve had terrific meals in, and I would like to share them with you! I cannot guarantee no one will get hungry in the next five minutes.

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1.) Mussels & Clams from Tuc Craft Kitchen – salt spring mussels, white wine, pork crackling, croutons

Starting it off with a bang! These mussels are the bomb.com. But in all seriousness, I’m not the biggest shellfish person in world, and these have managed to captivate my taste buds leading to a very full stomach, which then led to a full hour on the treadmill. No regrets.

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2.) The Dry Crab Hotpot at Shun Xin Restaurant – slow cooked crab with Szechuan spices, thin slices of lamb, thick yam vermicelli noodles, lotus roots

Not a whole lot of people from Vancouver know about this little place in Richmond, but the ones who do, go there a whole lot (and yes, that does include me). I cannot get enough of this dish! The entire thing is marinated in Szechuan spices and oils and is extremely spicy and savoury at the same time. But do not be afraid, you can ask the nice lady to tone it down on the spice. There are also other things you can throw into this badboy such as chicken, pork, watercress and other noodles and veggies, but this is my favourite combo. I’ve never had thick yam vermicelli anywhere else but here and, it is divine. About an inch thick in width, it does require a little bit of chew action, which is no problem to me. If you’re ever in the Richmond area, it’s an amazing little spot and I guarantee you’ll be coming back.

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3.) Godzilla Bite at  Mega Sushi – deep fried seaweed and rice with tuna, salmon, torched spicy chop and alfalfa on top with special sauce

Oh my goodness! This one killed me. I had my mouth open as the server was setting the dish down in front of me. Did I mention the center of the dish is on fire?! My favourite part of the roll was the the crispy rice that held the entire sushi. It’s also served with a really nice light salad around it, dressed in japanese sesame mayo. It’s too good not to share.

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4.) Savoury Waffles at Nero Belgian Waffle – swiss cheese, grainy mustard, free-range eggs, cherry tomatoes, arugula

Going to Nero whenever I’m in the downtown area is like my little *hushhush* secret. I kid you not, one can probably devour and entire plate of savoury waffles and still have room for a sweet one, especially if that “one” is me. This dish has a lot of the things I love on a plate – waffles, grainy mustard and eggs. It’s like “Why have a sandwich, when you can have this?”

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5.) Taco Tuesdays at Rain or Shine

I discovered this little gem just last summer and boy was I pleased. There was a growing appreciation for    ice creams going around and, Rain or Shine and Earnest Ice Cream were a huge buzz. Taco Tuesday in particular really took off for Rain or Shine. You get two scoops of your choice on a little taco-shaped waffle and two toppings (syrups, nuts, candies, whipped cream, etc.), and the possibilities are endless. The best thing about Rain or Shine is the fresh and local ice cream selection. All the flavours change whenever the season changes, and they are all so unique! This combo in particular is a scoop of Honey Lavender and a scoop of Brown-Butter Snickerdoodle, topped with Candied Hazelnuts and a Buckwheat Honey drizzle.

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6.) Strawberry and Cream Pancakes from Jethro’s Fine Grub

All my friends who know me quite well know that I cannot eat a whole lot. This post may seem like I am a complete liar for saying that, but it’s true. So when I ordered this massive plate of pancakes, my buddies decided to order something small, knowing I was going to need a ton of help. It’s not quite apparent how large the size of this is, but just as a reference, the entire pancake is larger than the size of my head! It’s an extremely decadent breakfast filled with fresh strawberries and topped with whipped cream, but the batter is a-whole-nother level of awesome!

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7.) All the Tacos at La Tacqueria Pinche Taco Shop – PESCADO zarandeado fish with chipotle mayo, radish and pepitas; ASADA grilled ‘AAA’ flank beef; DE CACHETE braised beef cheek; CARNITAS pork confit with pickled red onions (clockwise)

It makes me quite sad that there are only two La Tacquerias in Vancouver (and none in Richmond). I go to the one on Broadway and Cambie very often to get a variety of really great mini tacos. I guess they soak all the meats in the marinade for a really long time because for a little taco, it packs an whole lot of flavour. My two favourite tacos are the Carnitas and the Pescado. In all honesty, I’m quite speechless when it comes to La Tacqueria. It’s just too good, there is nothing else to say (mostly because I’m probably eating one right now).

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8.) The Bresilienne from Nero Belgian Waffle – vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, hazelnut crumble, caramel sauce

This post dinner treat is my go-to whenever I’m trying to impress anyone (a boy perhaps?) with my knowledge of good places to eat. Located on the West End of Downtown, it’s quite a trek if you don’t own a bus pass; but it’s so worth it. This crowd favourite and the all-time bestseller starts of with a choice between a Brussels (light and crispy) or Liege (soft, sweet and chewy) waffle, then gets topped of with all the hazelnut goodness. I’m sorry Nutella, but this – Hazelnut.Game.Strong.

Intro

Hi.

This is a little out of my comfort zone. I am not particularly great at writing, nor am I any good at taking pictures either. I guess this is my “Big 2015 Project” which will hopefully be the start of my life’s documentation as well as a not-so-terrible creative outlet when I’m bored or rather, somber.

Here are a few reasons I have decided to start a blog (in no particular order):

– I’d like to shed a few pounds and documenting everything from what I do to what I eat could maybe motivate me (and maybe others) to keep up with the entire process. I’m just starting Kayla Itsines’ BBG 1.0 if any of you are curious.

– I’ve been and still am doing quite a bit of travelling over the past year, and I’d really like to put these pictures up somewhere other than my bedroom walls.

– I’ve also recently been really into cooking (really just putting together a bunch of stuff in the kitchen). I’m also trying to eat a little cleaner. This blog would be a good place to show you all the great recipes as well as total fails that I have and will encounter.

– I am a YouTube and Pintrest addict. I am probably one of the few people out there with no YouTube and/or Pintrest accounts and still manage to spend about 3 hours on it daily. The videos I love most are DIYs. Hence, I will be showing my recreation of these lovely YouTube and Pintrest inspired DIY’s (or fails).

Let’s start with those reasons for now and see where this goes. I’m really excited about this and hopefully my daily ups and downs bring a little something to yours as well!