Canada Part 3: Montreal and Quebec City

Canada Part 3: Montreal and Quebec City

Check out Canada Part 1 and Canada Part 2!

Montreal offers many attractions, and my family and I visited the most famous ones:the Notre Dame Basilicca, Jean Talon Market, and Mont Royal.

Notre Dame Basilicca: where Celine Dion got married!
A yummy dessert in the Jean Talon Market
Views from Mont Royal
 

Our first stop was Mont Royal, a park that is often compared to Central Park in New York for its location in an urban area, and it’s beauty. My family and I walked around the park for a couple of hours, and it was definitely a workout! There were numerous people running up and down the countless steps of the park. It’s a great place for marathon training!

We only spent one day in Montreal, I wish we could’ve walked around longer at the Jean Talon Market! There were numerous fruit and veggie stands with loads of samples. I couldn’t get enough of them!
Next, we drove a couple hours north to Quebec  City. 

We had dinner at the Table restaurant. 


I had a salmon tartare, which tasted amazing because I love raw salmon! I also ordered an arugula salad with raw tuna, potatoes, green beans, and olives. There was too much tuna for the amount of arugula! Also, the addition of the potatoes, green beans, and olives didn’t really fit. I also tried a bit of poutine, a dish that Montreal is famous for. Essentially, poutine is fries with gravy and cheese curds. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I didn’t think the poutine tasted very special. Maybe I just went to the wrong place to try it.

We spent the rest of the night strolling around Old Quebec, and we took pictures of the elegant and gargantuan Chateau Fromtenac, a grand hotel that was named a national historic site.

Plains of Abraham (Battlefields Park)
Views from the Plains of Abraham

The Old City stole my heart, it was breathtaking, and my family decided to stay another night in the beautiful city.

More on Quebec City coming soon in Canada Part 4!

Love,

Serena

Life Update! Finally Home…

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!

IMG_3116
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

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

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

“Masshittda”

“Masshittda”

“Masshittda” is a word that I have said times too many to count this past month while traveling to Korea. If you haven’t guessed already, the word “Masshitda” (맛있다) means “It’s delicious” in Korean.

I just want to point out, traveling means getting the opportunity to try lots of new (and delicious) food by sacrificing your healthy eating habits once in awhile.

Sorry for the long introduction; I promise this is the last part of the intro. For this trip, I took pictures of the meals that were interesting instead of documenting every single one. However, even though I took out some meals, there are still a lot (read: picture overload). So for your sanity as a reader, I’m going to break this trip up into two posts where each post covers 11 days.

Image-1.jpg

With all that being said, the start of my trip started with airplane food (cue in the groans and anxiety). Airplane food for me is the worst. You seriously don’t know where it’s from and it just tastes funny, you know? But I do appreciate Korean Airline’s dedication to provide the best food they can. My family has been flying Korean Airline ever since I was six months old, and we never really had a problem with their meals.

Here are one of the meals I had called “Bibimbap” – a mixed vegetable and rice dish with red bean paste on top:

Image-2.jpg

After mixing all the ingredients in:

Image-3.jpg

 

Since it was a 14-hour flight, there were two meals. One which included a very early breakfast where I chose to eat omelette:

Image-4.jpg

 

Complimentary guava juice…is that even a question? (the only time I drink something other than water)

Image-5.jpg

Once we landed in Korea (after a gruesome fourteen hours where my butt ached from sitting down so long), we (whenever I refer to “we”, I mean my family) had a four hour transfer at incheon airport. After having a quick shower at the Korean Airline lounge, I grabbed plain yogurt from the lounge food bar.

Image-6.jpg

^this is an example of plain yogurt in Korea. This is especially for Serena since she asked me once if there’s yogurt in Korea. Obviously there is.

Next we had a three and half hour flight to Manila. A little background story here. We used to live in the Philippines for four years when I was very little (3-7 years old). As an end of the school year treat, I picked Manila as our mini trip before our actual annual trip to Korea.

So with this trip being designated for nostalgia and all, as soon as we checked in the hotel, we looked for our FAVORITE Italian restaurant, L’opera. We had mushroom risotto, some kind of pasta I forget what, and a zucchini and eggplant pizza. It was an extremely carby lunch, but oh so worth it.

Image-7Image-8

(Restaurant: L’Opera in Fort Bonifacio)

After walking around the city in order to burn the calories we just ate, my family and I walked for about two and half hours. I seriously think we walked at least five miles. Talk about serious healthy and active travel.

Anyways, at the end of our adventure, we found our way at the market (whadya expect? My family is comprised of foodies so of course we go to the market). While there, my mom and I went on a quest to find durian and some mangoes (like promised in the previous post). Here’s what a typical fruit stall looks like:

Image-9

@ Market, Market! in Fort Bonifacio

After checking into our hotel, my mom and I couldn’t wait to try the durian. We had to save the mango for the next day because it wasn’t ripe enough.

Image-10

^this is a half of what we bought. My mom and I were initially thinking of eating this today and the other tomorrow. But nope. We ate the whole thing in one sitting – do you see the durian seed from the first half on the far right??

Another confession time. I didn’t like durian before. My mom is a self-confessed durian lover so she would always bring durian into the house. My dad got away with it being the adult he is and never was forced to eat it. I, on the other hand, was forced to. However, I wanted to give durian another chance. And guess what? I loved it. It’s so sweet – a much different sweet than avocado – and so creamy. I loved it so much I regretted the days when it was so available to me yet I didn’t eat it.

After another day in the Philippines, my family boarded the plane to head back to Korea. We were welcomed with a small but heartfelt meal from my whehalmoni (maternal grandmother in Korean)

Image-11

 

The following pictures are in random order. I honestly don’t know where and when I’ve eaten them, all I know is that they’ve been in my stomach :).

Image-12

Injulmi and black sesame bingsoo – don’t they look divine?

(Restaurant: 설빙; Sulbing)

 

Bad Farmers – took some time to locate this place with only a few directions and no wifi, but it was so worth it!

Image-13

^this is the Avo Cobb salad (I obviously got the avocado salad…)and the beet hummus open face sandwich with acorn squash soup. (One thing off the bucket list!)

Image-14

^the lighting isn’t the best, but here are the salads they have. I’m hoping that I can recreate some of these at home.

That’s going to be the end of the first leg of my trip to Korea. Keep posted for next week’s post for the last 11 days! Believe it or not, the meals during the last 11 days are even more “masshittda”!

 

Have you ever been to Korea before? Or have you travelled to another tasty city?

xoxo, Stephanie

 

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

I used to hate working out. Eating healthy was enough for me, and I didn’t realize the benefits of exercise until I actually tried it out. I loved gym class at school because of the team sports and the camaraderie, however, when it came the summer, I wouldn’t actually do much to maintain my fitness.

Every summer, I competed in golf tournaments about once a week and I practiced most days for about 2-6 hour. Really the only physical benefit of golf was that it strengthened my legs and kept my heart rate up because of the amount of walking (typically 5 miles) and swinging involved. However, I wasn’t doing much else to strengthen my body. So when my mom joined a gym membership, I decided to come with her to a yoga class. I instantly fell in love with yoga because it was so peaceful yet physically demanding, and the shavasana (lying down) at the end felt amazing. So I continued to attend the yoga classes once a week and carried this out during my school year. But obviously, one hour of yoga a week was not enough.

I started doing Blogilates (pilates) about once a week and doing push ups before going to bed. The next summer, I joined a field hockey camp that met twice a week, and I sprinted my way across the field. When high school started, I involved myself with field hockey. The team met every week day for two hours each. The amount of cardio we had to do was challenging for me. I remember thinking that the  3 mile run around school was a very big deal.

In the winter, I tried out dance, which met three times a week for one and a half hours each. Dance was completely different from field hockey; there wasn’t much cardio involved, but it was more like yoga because of the flexibility involved. During the season, I realized that I it really was not the sport for me. I wasn’t the most graceful or coordinated, so I told myself I would try a different sport the next winter season.

Spring was golf season for me, which was very exciting. I didn’t do much to supplement my exercise other than the mandatory half-hour weight-lifting once a week.

When summer rolled around, I started thinking back to the winter season and decided that I would either joint the swim team or run distance. Ultimately, I decided to run, mainly because of the support that Stephanie (yes, the other half of this blog), who ran cross country, gave me. I started running for 40 minutes, 5 days a week , and I got used to it. Although I dreaded the early morning wake-ups, I felt so accomplished after each run. I knew that I wasn’t the fastest, or even close to fast, but it gave me pride to be pushing myself into a sport that I was hesitant about because of the immense challenge that it presented for me.

So over the course of my journey so far, I’ve learned a couple things:

1.) Try it even if you think you’ll suck at it! Field hockey and running were two sports that I was completely intimidated by because I hated cardio. But when I gave it a try and gave it some time, I ended up enjoying it.

2.) Constantly push yourself. Fear of the greatness of your potential is probably what’s holding you back.

3.) You need a buddy/buddies. If exercise is hard for you, use other people to motivate you, whether that be teammates, friends, or opponents.

What are your experiences with exercise/athletics?

Love,

Serena

Runners Workout

Runners Workout

Like I promised last week, here is the workouts for my fav people: RUNNERS!!! Only runners know the true love and bliss one gets after finishing an awesome workout or race.

Before I get into the plan, I want to say that I am just an intermediate runner who is training for XC right now. If you are a more heavy runner, you might want to add on a few more miles to my plan and similarly, if you are running newbie: first, welcome, and second, take off a few miles.

This plan is what my XC coach prescribed for our team. I’ll definitely be doing a check-in post later on in the post to update you guys on exactly what I’ve been doing.

june.jpg

JUNE | This month should be dedicated to building a stronger running base. That usually means for any level runner to increase your mileage. Make sure to focus on your form and find a comfortable running pace.

  • Run 5 days a week: 30-40 minutes x 4 days and a long run of about 60 minutes once per week
    • These runs should be EASY, but you can pick up the pace every once in awhile if you feel like it

 

july.jpg

JULY | This month is where you start your training – adding in intervals. These workouts should be challenging but consistency is key. If you can run super fast one day, but if you can’t keep that up for the following days, then that’s no use.

  • Run 5 days a week:
    • Run 40-50 minutes x 3 days (increasing your mileage now)
    • Interval/tempo workout x 1 day (these workouts will be listed right below)
    • One long run for around 70 minutes
  • Interval workout suggestions (if you don’t have a track then you can run hard for a certain amount of time and then take a slow jogging recovery of about equal time/half the distance)
    • 8x400m (80-90s)
    • 4x1000m (4:00-4:30)
    • 6x600m (1:50-2:10)
    • 5x800m (3:00-3:20)

 

august.jpg

AUGUST | This month we are adding everything – mileage and hills.

  • Run 6 days a week:
    • Run 40-50 minute EASY runs x 3 days
    • Interval/tempo workout x 1 day (same as the ones from July)
    • One long run for up to 80 minutes
    • One hill/stair workout (warm-up, cool down, about 25 minutes of hill/stair repeats)
      • Obviously, this is designated specifically for XC, so don’t feel like you have to do this hill addition if you don’t feel like it. Instead, run the sixth day doing either a short easy run, long run, or interval/tempo workout

 

CONDITIONING | As much as building up a cardio base is important, building up strength is important too. Try doing a few (3-4) workouts each day and try to build up to 3×10 reps for each.

  • Pushups
  • Planks (front, side)
  • Forward lunges
  • Reverse lunges
  • Sideways lunges
  • Jump squats
  • Step-ups
  • Ab exercise of your choice (head to my winter training to get a sense of some ab workouts or the non-runners ab workout)
  • Burpees (ugh….)
  • Squats holding a weight

 

Extra pointers:

  • Make sure to get good running shoes | I cannot stress enough, please
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! | As runners, we lose a lot of water from sweating , so make sure you’re sipping water constantly throughout the day
  • A good app to track your running: Map My Run

 

Runners are you ready? Get set, go!

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

P.S.: If you have any questions about the workouts, PLEASE ask down below. I will try to get back to you ASAP.

My Experience with College Dining Halls

My Experience with College Dining Halls

Since I am at a sleep away summer camp on a college campus, I have been able to experience eating at a college dining hall. Lucky for me, the college that I am staying at (Georgia Tech) has an excellent dining hall with a lot of vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan options.

IMG_2542         IMG_2511

There’s a gluten free fridge with cookies, muffins, and bread. There even is a Silk dispenser with vanilla and chocolate soy milk.

IMG_2526My typical breakfast is made up of oatmeal (with honey and soy milk), some fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, banana) and a boiled egg. Sometimes I will add in some potatoes. The breakfast at this dining hall is actually very similar to what I eat during the school year. Unfortunately, there’s no almond butter because they only serve nut-free foods, but coming here, I was pleasantly surprised by the many options!

As for lunch and dinner, the dining hall offers a variety of vegetables, but also a fair share of fries and pizza. Below is a couple of meals I’ve eaten.

IMG_2512
On the left plate, I have carrots, orzo-rice, cauliflower, and spaghetti squash with beans. On the right, there are peas, fish (likely flounder), potatoes, and yellow squash. This was the day that I understood the “freshmen 15”! The food was absolutely amazing.
IMG_2531
On the left: raw tofu, broccoli, roasted carrots. Center: corn with beans, and fish (likely flounder). On the right: veggie wrap with spinach cream.
IMG_2537
On the left: corn, wild rice, peas, fried tofu with onions and carrots. On the right: grilled cheese (which had a very fake-tasting, yellow cheese…but what can you expect, its a college cafeteria:))
IMG_2532
Not only does this dining hall offer VEGAN desserts, but they also list calorie counts and nutrition facts! I’m impressed.

IMG_2517

I also have been running regularly in the mornings. Of course, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t pack a plethora of healthy snacks! After a run, I usually eat some dried fruit and nuts to refuel.

What are your experiences with college dining halls? Share in the comments 🙂

Love,

Serena

Non-Runners Workout

Non-Runners Workout

In my Avolicious Summer Fitness plan I posted a few days ago, I mentioned that because I am a runner, I don’t really have an all inclusive workout or training plan for everyone. However, I thought it might be a good idea to share the workouts I did since then, just to give you a sense.

Obviously, this isn’t me telling you to follow what I’m doing. Everybody has different circumstances and different skill levels, that one workout will not and should not fit the bill for anyone. My workouts will be heavily geared towards distance runners, but at the same time, I am an “intermediate” runner, so for those hard-core runners out there, this might be too little, while for runners who have just started, this might be too much. I’ll have a separate post for runners next week.

However, for those non-runners out there, don’t worry! This post is dedicated for you guys. I have on the second half of this post my recommendation. Note: the word “recommendation.” I personally haven’t done these workouts in this schedule and order so use your own discretion. Make sure to listen to your body and stop when you need to stop. Around Saturday of last week, my calves hurt whenever I walked, so I took an easier run that day. I’ll mention this again, but whatever you’re doing, if you’re enjoying it and you’re breaking out a sweat, that’s all you need.

For reference, I’m a teenage girl around 5’5’’ who isn’t the skinniest or fattest, but would definitely say I have so more skin than I would like (Freshman 15 anyone???). I did run distance track in the winter, however, after having a hiatus with running due to crew, I’ve been having a bit of struggle on getting back to my usual mile splits. Thus, I’ve been working slowly up to my splits from winter track.

With all that being said, here are the workouts I did from Thursday, June 2nd to Saturday, June 4th. I have no time to workout on Sunday and Monday because I’ll be on a 14 hour flight to Korea. However, I’ll upload a blog post soon about how to travel healthy while still enjoy the trip.

Thursday, June 2nd | 4.5 mile run + 250x jump ropes

Friday, June 3rd | 6 mile run – just a quick note: after this long run, my calves hurt for the rest of the day and throughout Saturday morning. So instead of ignoring that and wanting to run longer, I decided to take it easier on Saturday

Saturday, June 4th | 30 minute run + 10 minute ab workout (same one from the winter)
—–

General Workouts for Non-Runners  (recommendation)| I know that a lot of people have a designated day – i.e. arm day, leg day, back day, butt day – so I’ll lay out the schedule similarly. Again, I haven’t personally done these workouts in this schedule, but have just done the workouts themselves. So if it’s too hard for you to do these workouts in this schedule and order, tailor it to your skill base. REMEMBER: this is just a rough plan.

 

MONDAY AB DAY |

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.50.02 PM.png

 

TUESDAY LEG DAY | choose one of out these; maybe switch it up every week!

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.51.10 PM.png

 

WEDNESDAY ARM DAY |

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.51.42 PM.png

 

THURSDAY CARDIO DAY |

  • 30 minutes of some form of cardio (jump rope, jogging, elliptical, bike)

 

FRIDAY BUTT DAY |

SATURDAY CHOOSE WHATEVER YOU WANT DAY |

  • The only rule: make sure your workout is AT LEAST 30 minutes

 

SUNDAY REST DAY | **hands-up emoji sign

 

Are you up for the challenge? Tell me what you think!

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

IMG_2491

Now that I’m finally on summer break, I have been cooking every meal for my family. So, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different recipes and ways to use leftovers. It’s safe to say that my parents can’t live without meat, so I’ve been challenging them to be more adventurous with their veggies. Last night, I made this lettuce wrap “bar” complete with Romaine hearts, chickpeas, carrots, red bell pepper, and oyster mushrooms. Also, (not shown here), I used a tiny bit of tartar sauce to amp up the flavors. To appease my parents, I did sear some salmon that I seasoned with only salt and pepper. It turned out perfect, no need to season it any more. Also in the picture was soup that my dad made in bulk on the weekend, some leftover turkey, and leftover brown rice.

IMG_2492
Green tea ice cream mochi. So good!!

Since my mom and I went on a Trader Joe’s run earlier that day, we purchased a lot of frozen desserts, and of course, I had to have some of them after dinner!

 

We did have some leftovers after the dinner-salmon, bell peppers, carrots, and chickpeas. I simply incorporated these ingredients into my meals the next day.

 

IMG_2495

My breakfast omelet had bell peppers and carrots. Then, for lunch, I made a salad with a green medley (arugula, spinach, kale, romaine) with yellow bell pepper, the leftover chickpeas, and the leftover salmon. I also drizzled some Miso-Ginger Dressing (also leftover from a while ago :))

What are your favorite lettuce wrap ingredients? Lmk in the comments 🙂

With Love,

Serena

Summer Food Go-To’s

Summer Food Go-To’s

As school ends and summer break rolls in, I’ve started thinking about all the recipes I’ll bring back from last summer, and new ones that I’m excited to try.

First, I am definitely making my quinoa bowl. Last summer after my half day math camp, I would come home and make this lunch everyday. The bowl consists of quinoa with spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, minced garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil.

IMG_2700

This bowl is very filling, healthy, and bright. Perfect for a long day at camp!

Next, I will be making nice cream! I made a post about it a while back 🙂

12950265_1721462298098138_672336320_n
This isn’t my pic, but it’s so pretty!

I definitely want to make some bliss balls for an energizing snack.

IMG_2614

Of course, lots of FRUIT! I also love putting lemon and orange slices in my water.

IMG_2353
I stole this from insta 🙂

I’m also super looking forward to grilling some mangoes! This may sound weird, but mangoes develop an amazing sweetness when there are some lovely grill marks.

What are you excited to make this summer?

With Love,

Serena