Canada Part 1: The Green Door Restaurant Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I just came back from a vacation to Ontario, Canada and one day in Vermont and I’ll be writing a series of posts about the food I encountered there 🙂

My first stop was The Green Door restaurant in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. One thing I learned about Ottawa is that practically all of the good restaurants are super expensive. I found the Green Door when I was searching for a highly rated restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised by the entire dining experience.

First of all, everything is displayed buffet style, and it’s a sort of vegetarian-vegan cafeteria. The food is priced based on weight.

This was great for my family because my parents hate waiting a long time for food. Plus, you don’t have to pay tips because it’s self-serve.

I was extremely pleasantly surprised by the amount of healthy choices there were. Some of the dishes were even vegan!

Side soup and a dish with (clockwise from top left) spanakopita, falafel, marinated mushrooms, sauerkraut, (hidden) tofu, Japanese (cold) noodles, sweet potato puree, pasta with pesto, edamame bean salad, spinach (?) puree.
The best part for me was the dessert bar! I have a major sweet tooth and a lot of times, I have to admit that I don’t resist the desire for sweets.

Cookies, pie, brownies, and all the good stuff

More pie-like fruit desserts, tofu chocolate cake, chocolate hazelnut bliss balls.truffles, chocolate swirl cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake
A lot of these desserts were vegan, so since I don’t eat gelatin, I didn’t have to worry about it. The amount of desserts I saw was so inspiring, especially since a lot of people label the vegan diet as eating rabbit food. Also, I was happy to see vegan dark chocolate hazelnut bliss balls. I have a similar recipe on the blog!

So because I love desserts so much, I did have dessert for breakfast. I know, not the healthiest 🙈 I had a slice of berry pie, and, at first glance, the pie-filling looks exactly like gelatin. I wonder how they were able to create such a jello-like consistency without gelatin?? Let me know your thoughts!

A slice of berry pie with almond milk and cherries
So basically I definitely recommend this restaurant!! I hope you check it out if you’re in the Ottawa area.

Love,

Serena

Avocado, Chicken, and Paprika Salad

I love a good salad. I get slightly annoyed (ok, maybe extremely annoyed) when people comment that salad is bland, boring, and “rabbit food.” The key point that these people miss out on is that for those salad lovers like me, it’s not the spinach, kale, arugula, or whatnot you put in your bowl, but what you put on top of that.

Salads come in so many different forms so if one recipe doesn’t suit you, then try tweaking it here and there the toppings. Today I’m sharing my go-to salad this summer. It’s SUPER simple – I can whip it up in a matter of minutes – and in my opinion, tasty and delicious. I’ve been having this salad for dinner for three weeks and I still look forward to it everyday.

What I love most about this salad is that with a bit of prep work the day or night before, in just 15 minutes, you’ll have this salad ready to eat.  Prep work includes boiling chicken breast and eggs. I generally buy the organic chicken breast sold at Costco and boil them and then divide them into little baggies that I can easily access from the freezer throughout the week. For hard-boiled eggs, I boil about 6 at a time and peel one open on the day of while the rest are in the fridge.

*Unlike Serena, the pro-chef, my recipes are just estimates. I never use a measuring cup or scale when I make my food. I just go along with what feels right for me. So you won’t see my recipes saying “One cup of spinach” but instead : “A generous handful of spinach.”

Avocado, Chicken, and Paprika Salad (for 1)

Ingredients

  • A generous handful of your green of choice (my favorite is spinach)
  • Two small handfuls of boiled chicken (I recommend that if you’re going to freeze them in bulk like me, to move your plastic baggie of chicken for that day from the freezer to the fridge 5 hours before. And then 30-60 minutes before you’re planning to eat dinner, move your chicken baggie from the fridge to your kitchen countertop.)
  • Half of an avocado (What did you expect?)
  • Handful of paprika
  • One hard-boiled egg
  • Salad dressing of your choice

Directions

Thoroughly wash your greens, put them in the salad spinner, and place them in your salad bowl.

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Add boiled chicken breast (I just teared the chicken breast after I boiled them so they’re are in edible chunks)

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Add avocado

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Add one hard-boiled egg

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Add paprika (I generally never put paprika in my salad, but I LOVE putting a range of colors – sometimes too much green can be a bore. Also, the paprika makes the salad refreshing and have a crunchier texture).

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Add your salad dressing of choice. (I know, I know, these type of salad dressings are fattening, however, I got carried away with the #marketing – avocado!!! I’m hoping to either find a healthier salad dressing choice or creating my own salad dressing).

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And that’s it! Super easy right?

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What’s your favorite salad topping?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie

Kale Veggie Soup Recipe and my lunch

Coming back home from a food-loaded vacation, I needed something to “cleanse my system”. Today for lunch I made a kale soup and beautiful grilled yellow zucchini.

Kale Soup Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 bunch kale destemmed and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 heirloom tomatoes cut in cubes

2 tbsp garlic

1 yellow onion

1 15oz can chickpeas

1 cup potatoes (I used assorted baby potatoes) peeled and cubed

6 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper

Parsley, Oregano, Basil

Process

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. When softened, add kale. Once wilted, add the rest of the ingredients (tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas, vegetable broth, seasoning). Simmer for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Enjoy!

I paired the soup with grilled zucchini that I purchased at an organic farm close to my home. I just discovered this farm and was so excited to find out about it!


What is your favorite soup?

Love,

Serena

“One for all, all for one!”

This famous quote from The Three Musketeers couldn’t be more befitting of today’s post.

I had another post scheduled for today but today’s topic is super special to me that I decided to blog about this instead.

It’s obvious that I’m a true health aficionado and junkie. However, when I started my health journey last March, I didn’t expect my parents to later on join on. Much to my surprise (and joy), they’ve started changing their habits to more healthier ones without me forcing or telling them to. They changed out of just seeing the benefits I’ve been reaping.

Thus the quote “One for all, all for one.” This lifestyle change started with one musketeer (me) and soon had the two musketeers join.

I wanted to write this blog post to remind all those out there that you DON’T have to force your loved ones to eat as healthy or be as active as you. It will come naturally with time. I promise.

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Growing up, my parents weren’t ridiculously unhealthy but weren’t amazingly healthy either. We had our fair share of all sorts. Chips, juices, and ice cream were a common norm in our grocery cart. In fact, I remember that my favorite part of going to the grocery store was getting permission from my mom to let me go to the chips aisle and buy two bags of chips.

At the same time, my family LOVES fruit. Our dessert was never a brownie, ice cream, or baked good, but heaping servings of fruit. Meanwhile, the three of us were notorious for finishing the family size of chips and jumbo size ice cream tubs in one sitting.

So when I decided to eat and live more healthfully (if you want me to share my full and in-depth story of WHY I decided to go healthy, please comment down below or like this post so I know!) relinquishing these main staples (i.e. ice cream, chips, refined bread, etc) was extremely hard. And it’s not like when I decided I wouldn’t eat them the foods disappeared. No, since my parents continued to eat like they used to, these tempting foods were in my plain sight.

My parents made it very clear when I changed to eating more healthy that if I didn’t want them critiquing my food, then I would NOT bother them about what they were eating either. So the meals the three of us had were quite varied to say the least. While watching a movie together, I would be sipping water while my parents on either sides of me were loudly munching on their chips (in some regards I feel like they made their chewing much louder to tempt me, hehe).

Anyways after a year now, I wouldn’t go to say that my parents changed 180, but they’ve changed nonetheless.

We do not have a single item of chips, ice cream, or any “unhealthy” foods in our house. The only unhealthy foods in our house are leftovers from dinner parties that guests brought such as cake.

My parents both go to the gym regularly – my mom goes to the gym and workouts for at least an hour 3-4 times a week. My dad – goes running every other night. Mind you, these people were so inactive that we were considering of canceling our sports club membership because we would maybe go to the gym once a month. Even more so, my dad who’s currently on a business trip, went to the gym at his hotel – something that would be unheard for him.

Eating wise, they’ve changed. My dad – who was a big proponent of licking clean your plate, always leaves half of his rice. Now this is shocking to a Korean where rice is the foundation of your meal. My dad HATED, LOATHED the oatmeal I prepared every morning for breakfast. But all of a sudden, he asked me to make oatmeal for him.

Also, very recently, he asked me, “Stephanie, what’s worse: rice or flour?”

This question made me so proud of him. Not only does he realize that they are different kinds of carbs (complex and simple) but that he realizes how much one’s diet is important is to their life.

So with that, I’m going to end this lengthy blog post. But I hope that the one thing you can take away is that forcing will never work. If you set the best example of what a healthy lifestyle can look and feel like from the inside and out, it will work wonders in your family.

 

How has your attempts to change your

loved one’s habits gone?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie

P.S.: I’m not sure if any of you guys noticed, but my sweet mom (who was reading our blog) noticed that for a lot of the blog posts that I wrote, the pictures were NOT loading. I apologize for this. I deleted the images for the majority of my blog posts from the WordPress media library and didn’t realize until now that it meant that those pictures would be deleted from my blog posts as well. I have no way of recovering these images so I hope you still enjoy my blog posts without the images.

Raw Vegan Brownies

After trying my raw vegan brownie recipe many many times, I think I’ve perfected it! These brownies are a lot like my bliss ball recipe. It is adapted from Minimalist Baker’s recipe.

soak dates to make it easier for your food processer!

dirty hands? no problem!

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup cocoa/cacao powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup of dates pitted and soaked

1 tbsp or more of water (see step 4)

Optional:

Cacao nibs, more nuts, chia seeds and other add-ins!

Steps:

1.) Process walnuts

2.) Add almond meal, cacao powder and salt and mix

3.) Transfer dry mixture to a bowl and process dates

4.) Combine dates and dry mixture using your hands-it gets sticky! Add water as necessary

5.) Press brownie mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper and press in the optional ingredients as desired.

6.) Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy!!😋😋

This recipe only takes 15 minutes to prep. The finished brownies and be stored in the fridge or at room temperature in a sealed container.

So much Love,

Serena

Fitness Motivation

How is everybody going along with their summer fitness plan?

Personally, I have to say that fitting in my runs have been quite difficult. I have had debate camp from 9am to 6pm every single day (including Saturday and Sunday) and now I’m starting an MUN camp from 9am to 5pm for a week.

And then these camps require homework and I also have a two hour math tutor lesson thing every Tuesday and Friday, so yeah, my schedule has only allowed me to run at 6:40 in the morning.

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It’s really hard waking up every morning when my alarm rings at 6:30 and I know that technically, I can sleep in till 8am without being late to my camps. However, I’ve been hammering myself with motivation and encouragement that it’s been much easier to wake up at 6:30 and just do it.

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So here are some of my tips and tricks:

For those who are training for the fall sports season | I definitely fall in this category. I’m currently training for cross-country, hence a lot of running (I’ve been running around 23 miles/week for three weeks).

Motivation for this category is relatively simple. You have to work hard now, so that you don’t fall behind others when you go to preseason or when you start your season.

I think people can agree with a resounding consensus, that it sucks to feel the “slow” or the “uncoordinated” player of the team. Now in XC, I’m going to be the slowest runner, that’s a fact. The girls on my XC team are the same girls that were with me on the winter track team last year and I know for a fact that I am the slowest. However, my motivation is rooted in the fact that I don’t want to be too slow. Yes, I will be slow, but I don’t want to be incredibly slow. Does that make sense?

So whether you’re the worst, best, or in-between of the team, you want to work hard because eventually it’s going to pay off.

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For those who are doing it for health or weight loss | Just start slow. No need to get stellar split times and you don’t have to exercise for a certain time or goal. Thus, I recommend just getting your butt of that bed, change into your exercise clothes, and just walk. Yep, that’s it. WALK.

Every summer I visit Korea; I realize again the profound benefit of walking. The majority of people in Korea walk. With the benefits of technology, I was able to track my steps whilst in Korea and my daily average was 12,000 steps. And let me tell you, those 12,000 steps do go somewhere.

And this doesn’t just apply to Korea, but in other countries like Italy. When my friends and I visited Italy during spring break of our eighth grade year, we were perplexed at how Italians could eat such carby and rich stuff, yet remain so slim. But it’s the walking I’m telling ya.

So even a short 20-30 minute walk will provide so much useful to you. You don’t even have to powerwalk (although that’ll be nice). Just start walking.

The point is, for people in this category, it’s not so much the quality of your exercise, but more about the quantity of your exercise. To be healthy or to lose weight, it’s important to exercise often and the exercise well part comes later.

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In general | Sometimes, to be honest, these advices doesn’t work. But sometimes, the most brutally simple works the best.

As Nike says best, “JUST DO IT.” My personal advice with this is to just repeat this slogan in your head over and over again.

Also, just keep positive and happy. Stop complaining and just do it. It’s for your own benefit. This hard work and toil that you’re doing, 100% of the result goes to you and no one else.

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On a side note, here’s a couple of interesting tidbits happening so far.

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My mom surprised me when she got this organic kale power while we were in Korea. Ever since coming back from Korea, she’s been making me a goguma smoothie with a tablespoon of this powder. Can’t even taste it!

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I’ve seriously don’t have enough time that I’ve been eating my salad dinners on the go. (I guess Serena have telepathy – both using chicken salad for meals this week!)

 

What motivation do you use to workout?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Quick and Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas

Need some lunch inspiration? Here are two lunches I made this past week that I loved!

Green bowl: quinoa, avocado, kale, pine nuts
“Chicken” salad and avocado sandwich + sweet potato + dragon fruit

To make the sandwich, I used Whole Food’s vegan chicken salad that was purchased at the cold food cases. It tastes amazing! Certainly not the healthiest option, but a very convenient way to whip up a delicious sandwich.

I also used one of my favorite breads- Alpine-Valley’s Multigrain Omega 3 bread! I love using it because it tastes very hearty and its perfect when toasted.


What are your favorite lunch ideas?

Love,

Serena

“AjU Masshittda”

To those in the States, Happy Fourth!

Today is the second installment of my trip to Korea in June (I seriously can’t believe a month of summer vacation has flown by already).

While last week’s post was titled, “Masshittda”, today’s post is “Aju Masshittda” (아주 맛있다) means “very delicious,” and that’s exactly what today’s post entails.

Just a warning, the second part is going to be more dense in terms of photos because the last 11 days had more delicious foods and meals than the first 11.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

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My family went to watch a baseball game (we watched Doosan vs. LG, if there are any readers who are Korean baseball fans). Probably one of my favorite nights in Korea. Korean baseball is da best. You just cannot beat the cheering and energy compared to American baseball. If the loudness of an American baseball game is a library then a Korean one is a busy NYC street.

Instead of eating the convenient fried chicken and comfort food that gets delivered right to your seat at a phone call, my family brought Kimbab (a Korean version of sushi).

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(Restaurant: Go Bong Min Kimbab [고봉민 김밥])

My whehalmoni’s sweetly set up an “American” breakfast for me because I couldn’t swallow a full on Korean meal with rice and all for breakfast.

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^These are the huge Korean grapes I talked about in my bucket list — so so good. And these are raspberries – don’t they look so different than the ones in the US? And then a green smoothie made by my whehalmoni with a gazillion of superfoods — it’s a very interesting and powerful taste to say the least.

Of course – I had to have my sushi

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(Restaurant: Jamsil Lotte Food Court – B1 level)

And another sushi dinner (these four rolls in total were less than $10)

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(Restaurant: Hyundai Department Store Food Court @ Coex, 삼성동)

I’ve also had my fair share of delicious drinks. First, a mango smoothie and then a Taro milk tea with tapioca shells. Both tasted like heaven

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^Bubble Tea from Gongcha (Taro flavor)

The following day, I had to go to the hospital and before I left the hospital, I had a quick pick me up – yogurt in a bottle – before the afternoon events. (Isn’t it funny that brands have to insist that they’re products are “real”?)

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I then met up with my aunts at the mall and we had Japanese style lunch.

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(Restaurant: Hyundai Department Outlet Food Court @ 동대문)

Then my mom and I had dinner with her high school friend. It was Vietnam style meal. It’s funny. We come to Korea and eat other Asian cuisine.

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(Restaurant: Pho Bay @ Coex, 삼성동)

The next day, our family trip to Namhae (남해 – an island south of Korea) commenced! I was super excited as this was the first time (except our family’s Jeju island trip in 2013) that I’ve gone somewhere else than Seoul!

Of course, we needed to fuel ourselves during the road trip. We decided to eat at the Korean province where the famous bibimbap was founded – Junju (전주). The restaurant was surreal. The meal was served in bronze bowls, just like the olden days, that were immensely heavy.

The golden bowls stacked up:

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(Restaurant: 가족회관)

After safely arriving at Namhae, we ate eel and mussels for dinner as seafood is any island’s speciality. The mussel soup my grandfather drank ALL of it.

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(Restaurant: 해바리 장어)

Kinda random, but there was lychee at the hotel breakfast buffet bar.

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The last noteworthy meal of our family’s trip to Namhae was lunch coming back up to Seoul at my grandparents’ hometown: Jinju (진주). Another eel place.

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And that’s it for my Korea trip. After Namhae, after three days in Korea packing and last minute catching up with more friends, we headed off for the States.

This trip was definitely one for the books!

Have you tried any of these meals before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Healthy Cereal Bowl

Cereal gets a bad rap because of the excessive amounts of sugar. However, cereal doesn’t have to be unhealthy!  This morning, I was in a rush to leave home, and quickly whipped up a delicious cereal bowl, complete with Love Crunch Chocolate and Strawberry Granola, fresh raspberries, and bits of some raw vegan brownies that I made (I’ll share the recipe soon ;)) with almond milk and chia seeds. It was a super satisfying and sweet cereal bowl. The combination of chocolate and berry just made me want to have more!

What is your favorite cereal bowl combo?

Love,

Serena