Canada Part 2: Byward Market in Ottawa, Ontario

Canada Part 1: Green Door Restaurant in Ottawa

Canada boasts numerous specialty food markets, and the first one I visited was Byward Market in Ottawa, Ontario.

One of the shops along the market that caught my eye was a cute fruit store that sold some mini fruit.

“Buddha’s Hand”
Mini pineapple!
Fruit Heaven and they’re all on sale 🙂

I also visited Moulin De Provence, a bakery that is famous for it’s Obama cookies. The story goes that Obama ate a maple leaf shaped shortbread cookie at the bakery, and exclaimed, “I love this cookie!” The cookies now symbolize a new relationship between the US and Canada.


Aside from the Obama cookies, they offer tons of other spectacular-looking pastries!

Fresh baked bread. Yum!


I wish I could’ve tried the pastries, but I only had American dollars, and the bakery doesn’t accept the exchange rate. My heart was broken and my family and I went to the bank immediately after!

Watch out for Canada Part 3 tomorrow!

Love,

Serena

“Make your own” California Roll Recipe

Writing this post currently back at school brings back such sweet memories. This was my last dinner(s) before I left for school last Saturday.  And I say dinners with a “s” because the last three nights I ate this and EACH TIME GOT EXCITED FOR IT.

For me, healthy eating is always delicious, always filling, always colorful, and of course, always nutrient dense. And this recipe is all of those. It’s actually fairly simple, but the prep work does take some time. However, if you do it in a big batch one day, then you can go off of that batch for a couple of days like my family did!

For those lovers of sushi, avocado, smoked salmon, or meals where you mix things in (like burritos, bibimbap), this recipe is JUST for you.

“Make your own” California Roll Recipe (serves 3 HUGE appetites)

Ingredients:

    • Rice (brown rice preferred!)
    • Nori (the large seaweed sheets WITHOUT any oil or salt)
    • Avocados (I believe we used about four – but the number is completely up to you!)
    • Smoked Salmon (My family personally loves the Duck Trap brand in the huge size that is sold at Whole Foods!)
    • Carrots
    • Cucumbers
    • Eggs (as many as you want, but I believe we used 8 eggs to make a huge “omelette” and we still had leftovers after having it for 3 dinners)

 

  • Optional:

 

    • Burdock (We Koreans have a side dish made out of this. It’s really good, but it’s definitely not necessary for this recipe.)
    • Dan Moo Ji (picked daikon radish – another Korean that is completely optional, just adds a little kick like a pickle)

 

Directions:

  • Wash your avocado, cucumber (and dan moo ji) and cut them into thin slices
  • Lightly saute your carrot with some olive oil and after done and cooled, cut them in thin slices
  • Make an “omelette” by only adding eggs into the pan and after done and cooled, cut them in thin slices

 

The finished product for these three directions should like this

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  • Have your stove on a low setting and lightly toast your nori to make them more stiff but not super crunchy like a chip.
  • Afterwards, cut your nori sheets up into small pieces
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This is one of our three dinners. Do you see how small the nori sheets are?

 

Now onto the fun part!

  • Lay one of the small nori piece on your plate
  • Add your rice as a base layer and add all the ingredients in

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Enjoy!

 

What do you like in your sushi rolls?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

Avocado Toast w/ Smoked Salmon and Chia Seeds

I’m surprised that I haven’t shared on this blog the source of my intense love for avocado.

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In truth, my mom is the true foodie. She was the one who bought and consumed most of the avocados in our house until about last summer. Until then, she was pretty much force feeding my dad and me this green thing that wasn’t really sweet like a mango but wasn’t refreshing like a watermelon. The problem was, she was just eating the avocado straight out of the peel. Even now, I don’t really salivate or get tempted at the fact of just eating a plain avocado. I have to eat together with something.

 

And that’s exactly where the avocado toast comes in.

 

I’m pretty sure I found avocado toast from either a foodie instagram or somewhere online – but all I can say for sure is that it wasn’t a random idea that sparked in my head, I saw it somewhere. I decided to try it out since avocados were always stocked up in our house (courtesy of my mom) and we always had bread (since my family are carb-addicts).

 

I didn’t have that much high expectations to the avocado toast as I wasn’t a fan of avocado, but if naming a blog I co-author with the name avocado, the fact that I crave for an avocado every single day at boarding school, and that at least one of my meals back home includes an avocado, I don’t what else will tell you that I truly fell in love.

 

Over the past year since I got lovestruck, I’ve been perfecting the “art.” I’ve tried and failed, but I think I finally hit the jackpot. It’s truly simple yet so delicious. I generously sprinkle chia seeds as they give a nice crunchy texture that contrasts to the buttery avocado. However, once in awhile, when I have the luxury of having smoked salmon in the house, I add a slice of the smoked salmon as well. Ah … healthy fats all in one – avocado, chia seeds, and salmon.

 

So that’s my lunch pretty much all summer long (I’m a creature of habit) and the source to my love for avocado!

 

Avocado Toast w/ Smoked Salmon and Chia Seeds

 

Ingredients:

  • Multigrain/whole wheat bread
  • One ripe avocado
  • Chia seeds
  • Smoked salmon
  • Optional:
    • Mango
    • Boiled egg

 

Directions

 

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Toast your pieces of bread | My family and I don’t own a toaster, so we’ve been toasting our bread using this panini-style fry-pan and it works equally as well.

 

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Boil one/two hard-boiled eggs. | Again, my sweet mom already prepared these for me, so all I had to do was take these eggs out of the fridge.

 

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Cut up your avocado and mango

 

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After finishing toasting your bread, slather on avocado with your fork

 

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Put one slice of the smoked salmon on the toast | I got these from Costco

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Sprinkle chia seeds on the toast

 

Enjoy!

 

Simple right! But it’s insanely good and I do believe that the simplest pleasures are the best.

How do you eat your avocado’s?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Life Update! Finally Home…

It pains me to realize that I haven’t posted on the blog since July 30, almost a month! However, I am finally back from my traveling and I have a lot to tell you!

First, I did promise to post a series about my trip to Ontario, Canada and Vermont, I still intend on doing that. In the mean time, enjoy this picture of my ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters!

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Non-Dairy PB and Cookies and EmpowerMINT in a chocolate coated sprinkles cone. Utter indulgence…

Second, I also took a small trip to Sacramento and San Fransisco, so I’ll post about that too!

Third, I just came back from backpacking with Outward Bound in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Yes, I’ve literally been eating peanut butter jelly pitas and drinking powdered milk for 14 days. I also was experiencing major vegetable-withdrawals…we didn’t have a green veggie until the last day!

But now that I’m home, I’ve been eating a lot of veggies, yummy home-cooked Chinese food, and ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s and SO Delicious). My mom stocked the freezer with ice cream because she knew that I would want some after not having it for two weeks…now I’m treating myself WAAY too much. “Out of sight, out of mind” is definitely true!!

Also, I got attacked by bugs and now my legs, arms, and face are scarred by no-see-um (sandfly) bites! I’ve been applying a “mask” of 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 5 drops of tea tree oil to my skin. It seems to be working slowly…any suggestions or tips for reducing bug bite scars?

Anyways, look out for posts! Hopefully, I’ll get them out this week and next week.

Love,

Serena

Lately Obsessed #2

This week has been a bit more low-key but nevertheless crazy week. I’m heading back to boarding school next Saturday so our family is in get ready mode (read: creating lists of what we need to buy, but not really going out and getting those things … does anybody else do that?).

The weather’s been also a lot nicer here in D.C. – my morning runs have significantly become a lot more tolerable.

Anyway, this is what I’ve been obsessed with this week (check out last week’s if you haven’t already!):

 

ONE// Lunch dates with my family

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Summer roll @ Sushi Taro

Being that I’m leaving for school in a week, I’ve been trying to relish and take advantage of every opportunity I can in spending time with my family. While during middle school, I wanted to get out of the house and spend minimal time hearing their nagging and nitpicking, after being 300 miles away from them, I just miss everything about my family – even their nitpicking and anger tantrums.

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Quinoa + mushroom salad and penne bolognese @ Nordstrom Cafe

Therefore, I went to Nordstrom Cafe with my mom the other day because it’s one of our favorite places (super convenient when we’re shopping and need of a pick-me-up). My mom went to the Cafe a few days before with her friends and said she tried a new salad in the Chef’s Special menu and that I NEEDED to try it out. So we did and boy, was it amazing. The mushrooms in the salad are crispy (almost like a kale chip) but has that salty kick of the mushroom … LOVE. We also ordered our perennial favorite the penne bolognese.

 

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Salmon & Avocado roll and Chirashi @ Sushi Taro

And just yesterday, my whole family went to our (or really my) favorite sushi place in DC called Sushi Taro. It was DC Restaurant Week so instead of getting my regular Chirashi order, I ate the lunch special. My mom ordered the lunch special as well, while my dad, another creature of habit (I guess like father, like daughter) ordered Chirashi. Let me tell you, my stomach was on cloud nine that day.

 

TWO// Indulgences (without feeling guilty)

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While my past “health nut” self would gasp and shudder at the sight of my eating “naughty” things, these days, I’ve loosened the grip up when I realized I needed to nourish not only my body but my emotions which includes giving into some indulgences once in awhile.

I’ve had this week: a slice of pizza, a cracker/biscuit sort of thing (pictured above), mochi ice cream, and went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. May not seem much, but for a rigid health nut like me, it is.

 

THREE// Workout Playlist

While the weather has been cooperating and I did mention last week that I’ve been loving my morning runs, I have to say, I don’t think I could have done it without my workout playlist.

Now, my taste in a music is mediocre so please don’t judge, however, for me, I am OBSESSED with it (and that’s what counts right?). The only motivation I have when my alarm rings at 6:20 is to listen to my jams.

 

FOUR// Healthy lunches on-the-go

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Salad w/ balsamic glaze on the side after volunteering at hospital

This summer has been pretty busy with volunteering, math tutors, viola lessons, golf lessons and practices, running and also catching up with friends from back home. So sometimes, I have to eat my lunches or even dinners in the car.

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Salad and noodles and watermelon (dinner) whilst going to golf practice

While this may mean doing “to-go” at fast food restaurants for some, for me, my super super sweet mom packs them for me. They’re exactly what I would eat at home, except all in my mom’s neat Tupperwares. And these are all easy enough to make that I don’t necessarily need my mom to make them, but being at home from school I do take advantage of having my mom around.

 

How was this week for y’all?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

And then there was rest…

As much as I want to advocate and encourage people to workout and exercise, that comes in moderation, because too much of even exercising can be harmful.  

I describe myself as a Type-A, workaholic, and driven person. Now, while these characteristics may seem positive (that it may seem like I’m bragging), they can really hurt you when you take it too far and sometimes, I wish I was a bit more relaxed.

With cross country preseason coming up in a bit over a week, I’m nervous – as any runner is – for the gruesome workouts, race, and extreme heat, but at the same time, I can’t wait to get back on runners high.

This summer, I’ve been training for cross country (following a plan I’ve shared on the blog before). While this plan looks really regimented and extreme, our cross country coach did tell our team that the most important thing is to just run four to five times a week.

Nevertheless, I was not one to fall short of “expectations” and followed the cross country plan religiously. While June and July recommended for us to run 5 days a week and only until August should we run 6 days a week, I still ran 6 days since June. Why you may ask?

I’m not a fast runner. Even in winter track, while I improved personally, I was always the slowest of the group. This is why I used HATE running when I was on the track team in middle school. As the Type A and perfectionist I am, being last was a disgrace for me. So I loathed track, but I continued to do it because that was the only sport I could do somewhat well – give me any contact sport and I’ll fail.

However, I realized throughout my winter season that running is about PERSONAL improvement and if I improve my times – no matter how slow they are compared to someone else – then I win. Nevertheless, I lost this mindset and started to train with an unhealthy mindset this summer.

It came to be that this past Wednesday (so yesterday), my schedule was PACKED that I didn’t have time to fit in my run. Instead of brushing it off and accepting that I would only be running 5 times that week (which is perfectly normal and probably more than my other teammates are running), I took my rest day on Sunday and used it to workout. So I was running from Monday, August 8th all the way into Tuesday, August 16th.

The worst thing was I was doing this just to log more miles. Our cross country shares a spreadsheet of all the mileage we run – and I wanted to run the most. Silly right?

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Sometimes you just got to hang up your running shoes…as hard as it may be.

So since Monday, August 15th, my legs were feelings VERY VERY VERY sore. Almost to the point that it was hard to walk and when I started to run I was doing a combination of galloping and shuffling. Still, I pushed myself to run 4.2 miles that day and the next day I even did a hill workout. I know, I was crazy, but at that moment, I felt like I was reasonable.

So Wednesday was my “off” day after 10 days of running and I stretched a lot but walking was still hard so when I woke this morning, instead of doing my planned tempo run, I went for an EASY run.

Now while this may seem trivial, making myself NOT to the planned tempo run and instead go on an easy run was a HUGE leap of faith for me. I had to trust my body and what my legs were feeling instead of my Type A mind.

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So I want to remind y’all that while working out and being active is super important, it’s equally or even more important to take rest when you’re BODY tells you to, not when your workout schedule tells you to. After going on that EASY run, my legs were feeling a lot loose but we’ll see how they’ll react tomorrow (maybe I was supposed to take a complete rest day…).

So remember, “Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen, and BUILT IN BED.”

 

How do you dictate your rest days?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie

Girls, oh, girls

I was planning for another post today, however, after an incident this past weekend, I decided without a second thought that I wanted to share something serious but oh so relevant in this world today.

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My two cousins (9 year old and 4 year old) from North Carolina visited my family this past weekend. They left NC on Thursday morning and arrived in DC (where I live) at around 4 in the afternoon.

My 9 year old cousin named Lily and I were in my room and we could hear our mom’s cooking dinner downstairs. Lily mentioned something about how it smelled good downstairs and I replied back, “I know, I’m so hungry! Aren’t you?”

“No. I’m not hungry at all. I didn’t even eat breakfast or lunch. I’m fat,” Lily simply answered as she poked her stomach to indicate how “fat” she was.

At that instant I was shocked. As someone who is still recovering for over a year from restrictive eating, I was not expecting my 9-year old cousin to say that.

I of course know eating disorder is a prevalent thing these days, but I never expected someone as young as nine to be thinking those things. In my mind, 9-year olds should be enjoying life. They should be able to eat what they want and play tag, go swimming, and go outside without the burden of “burning calories.”

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Out of shock, I immediately started ranting to her about the importance of eating. I don’t know how coherently I spoke because at the end of my rant, Lily was looking up at me dumbfounded. I was embarrassed to wit’s end. Did I go too far? Maybe she was saying that she was fat as a harmless thing but I overthought it.

Luckily, our mom’s called the house for dinner so Lily shrugged her shoulders and left the room. I stayed there for a few minutes just trying to process it all. Now mind you, I’m an overthinker. I think way too much. And I do think that’s what kind of happened that day.

However, Lily’s words stuck with me throughout the weekend. And I kept on thinking over what Lily said. As Lily is a rising fourth grader, I went back down memory lane to when I was in fourth grade.

I remember in fourth grade how when we sat criss-cross applesauce on the carpet for morning meetings, I would compare the size of my thighs to other girls thighs.

As we would wear black watch plaid shift dresses as uniforms at my school, I remember counting how many checkered squares fit across my body and then how many fit across another girl’s body. The less squares, the skinnier, the more squares, fatter.

And so while all this time I thought that Lily was way too young to be thinking these things, I realized that I too fell under this trap when I was her age.

Even more so, I remember when I was in kindergarten relishing on my skinniness. Until third grade, I was the lanky kid. I was the girl who would eat a lot – I would seriously eat two bowls of rice for all three meals – but all that food went vertically but never horizontally. I was super tall (although not anymore) that I always had to wear clothes that were 4 ages up than my actual age. But while these clothes fit in length they gave no form to my already formless body. And I remember feeling good about myself for being skinny when I saw one of my best friends who was a little bit on the chubby side.

I don’t know why or more importantly how I became to think this way. My mom definitely did not teach me that. But somehow, the human brain, learns instinctively that being skinny is good.

 

But why oh why is that?

 

I truly fell under this trap as I lost 20lbs. last summer based on the sole reason that I believed I was fat.

 

But with those 20 lbs., I lost my confidence, I lost my happiness, and I lost the ability to think for others and my wellbeing. A demon and monster grew inside of my head. My actions were solely based on being skinny. I became angry at my parents when they took me out to dinner because I knew I would binge-eat. I became angry at my mom when dinner was a couple minutes late because I was starving from not eating enough calories. I backed out of social events and movie nights with my friends since I knew there would be junk food. I started living a meaningless life. Who was I living for? Certainly not myself.

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It’s a well-said phrase and for good reason because it’s true: We’re our harshest critics. We bash our thighs. We bash our stomachs and the list goes on and on. I don’t know of a way to solve, but I hope that we can remind ourselves today and really everyday that we’re are beautiful. Beyond beautiful and unique for words. Girls, oh girls….

 

How do you deal with society’s pressure on body image?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

3-minute Muesli Recipe

I shared a few days about how I tried muesli for the first time and LOVED it.

I’m such a creature of habit that I relied on my oatmeal every morning. But of course, when oatmeal ran out, I started panic attacking but my mom saved the day by mixing granola and almond milk. Just genius! Until I realized that granola mixed with almond milk with toppings was an actual thing …

This muesli recipe is nothing extravagant or special. It’s just my foray into the “muesli” world. I’m sure just like Acai Bowls and really any bowl out there, that there’s different combinations and forms.

So below is a three minute muesli recipe. I literally made this when I had to leave the house at 6:10 for my golf lesson (which is why the pictures look darker than normal – the kitchen lights didn’t cut it).

3-minute Banana, Mango and Blueberry Muesli Recipe (for 1)

Ingredients

  • Any selection of granola or actual muesli of your choice. (Make sure that the sugar content is pretty low.)
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The granola I used. It’s really good.
  • Almond milk
  • Handful of blueberries and mango

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  • One RIPE banana

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  • Any other toppings you’d like!

 

Directions

This is just like cereal so it’s super simple and easy.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset1. Pour in your granola/muesli

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2. Add in your banana

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3. Pour in your almond milk

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4. Add the blueberries and mango

5. Add any other toppings you like!

 

Wasn’t that really simple? Like I don’t know what breakfast will be even simpler than that.

 

What’s your go-to breakfast when you’re in a rush?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Lately Obsessed #1

“Lately Obsessed.” I’m hoping to start a mini-series on my blog where every Wednesday (where the first post is already a day late…) I share my favorites, my obsessions, or anything under my radar.

Hopefully I can maintain this throughout the school year. I wanted to start this series because this week, I’ve been completely obsessed with these five things. I just can’t get enough.

  1.  Colorful Salads | I’m a creature of habit so my salads don’t differ much from the go-to salad I shared on the blog, however, I love preparing the salad as much as eating them! As I add the bright peppers and the lush avocado, I feel like an artist who sprinkling colors on her masterpiece!

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  1. Muesli | This happened on a whim. My family ran out of oatmeal one day, but I only had ten minutes to eat breakfast until I had to go to volunteer at the hospital. We found a stash of granola in our pantry so we took the granola and almond milk and put on top our regular oatmeal toppings. OMG – so good! And this granola doesn’t have a lot of sugar but together with the almond milk, ahh…heaven. And it’s super filling too – for me even more than oatmeal. I obviously realize that real muesli is made from muesli. Hopefully I can buy some muesli before I head to school on the 27th!

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  1. Food Journaling | I’ve been journaling for over two years now in my trusty Moleskine. Journaling is such a therapeutic and healing activity for me so it’s a must in my daily routine. However, recently, I’ve been food journaling. While I’ve vowed to never go back to track calories again, I think having a view at what I’m eating is super helpful. On some days, I realize that I didn’t eat for a really long time which probably caused my huge “binge” during dinner. It has the benefits as calorie tracking in that you’re mindful of what you’re eating but not restrictive.

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  1. Early Morning Runs | My scheduled 6:20am morning runs were not voluntary let me tell you that. I had to do them then because of my busy schedule. However, today for some reason, I had to do something else in the morning so moved my run in the afternoon at my gym’s treadmill. Ugh…I did not enjoy it. I think something about waking up in the early morning where the air is still crisp and fresh (and somewhat cool) and where there’s not a lot of hustle bustle is refreshing. While I feel extremely tired waking up for the run, once I finish the run and come home for a shower, I feel super energized with the bonus of feeling productive too!

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***TIP: Lay out your equipment – clothes, hat, earbuds, CHARGED phone, socks, underwear the night before. It makes the morning so much easier.

  1. Olympics | Has anyone been watching the Olympics recently? USA is killing it right now – especially in the gymnastics and swimming arena. Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Michael Phelps (he’s defying age…like I just can’t even handle…) and Katie Ledecky. I’m not a huge sports fan – I don’t voluntarily watch the Super Bowl or March Madness but something about the Olympics with national pride is so addictive.

www.teamusa.org

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source: http://www.teamusa.org

What have been your obsessions this week?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Weekly Clean Eating Costco Haul

Costco is our family’s best friend. Like seriously.

Even though we’re a family of three (or mostly a family of two since I’m away at school), we still renew our Costco membership every year because there is such a wide variety of selections and the major selling point – it’s cheap! Also, we have a pretty big appetite, so we usually have to go to Costco once a week.

Now just because things are in bulk and they are in cheap, doesn’t mean that it’s not healthy. In fact, besides the staples that we solely buy from Whole Foods, my family gets most of our foods from Costco.

And let me tell you guys, our family has changed. The family that used to buy all the types of chips and juices and ice cream and pastries sold in bulk in Costco now pulls a cart filled with healthy goodness.

So here’s my family’s “WEEKLY (CLEAN EATING) COSTCO HAUL”

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First off: fruit fruit fruit. I am always pleasantly surprised at the freshness of Costco’s fruits. Berries are delicate fruits in that they get easily rotten. However, I find that Costco’s berries are of the same quality as my local grocery store or Whole Foods.

Pictured here from left to right: strawberries, cherries, two cartons of blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, avocado.

*Just a quick note: we get two boxes of blueberries since we found out they tend to rot the slowest while we don’t get raspberries since they rot the quickest. It’s all thinking my friends.

 

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“Deep Green Blends package – organic blend of tender baby kale, chard, and spinach”

My family has been OBSESSED with making smoothies lately. I have a cup or two at least once a day. So greens are a must. This bag is massive but with our daily smoothies and salads, we go through the bag really quickly. I’m so proud because in the past we use to throw away the small plastic Earthbound Organics boxes because they were rotten from our not eating them.

 

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Peaches and mangos.

I have a sweet tooth but not for candy but for fruit. I LOVE mango and peaches so much that my mom has to set a daily amount for me. These peaches smelled so good so we had to buy two boxes. Aren’t the colors of mangos and peaches divine?

 

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(Dave’s Killer Bread Organic – 21 Whole Grains and Seeds)

Of course – carbs. Carbs are your best friend and my family loves buying bread from Costco because they come in two loaves. We don’t have a specific preference for bread but this is what we’ve been eating.

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Coconut water. I used to HATE coconut water. When I used to live in the Philippines, I was given the chance to drink it straight from the coconut but I clearly remember me repulsing from the taste. But now I love it and my parents are hooked as well. When we all come back from the gym, it’s a race between the three of us of who can get to the coconut water first. Hehe

 

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Last but not least, Serena’s and my  first love: yogurt! I actually hated Fage plain yogurt when I was young. It was way too bitter. However, I’ve grown to love it know and now I repulse at the taste of artificially sweet flavored yogurt. Also, Greek is my favorite as the dairy part is more dense. It’s just less water and more protein!

So that’s what I have for my Costco haul! We usually buy two watermelons a week from Costco (I am a watermelon monster) but my mom already chopped them up while I was taking the photo. But I think you guys know how big Costco’s watermelons are. And also, my mom has tried several grocery stores for watermelon but we’ve learned the hard way (white colored watermelon is the worst) that Costco has the best ones.

Can’t wait to start eating these goodies or concocting meals with them this week! But most of all, I’m even more excited for a Costco trip this weekend! I swear, I’m the most happiest when I’m at Costco – entering Costco, shopping at Costco, and heading home with a trunk full of goodies.

 

What do you usually get at Costco?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie