Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturdays are the best days!

Happy Saturday friends! - I hope you had a wonderful day :)

I kicked off my Saturday with a trip to the local farmers market with an old friend for breakfast.

I stopped by the Crêperie where I used to work (Crêperie Mobile) for a delicious vegan crêpe!

I got my usual...

and honey mustard vinaigrette

all folded into a delicious 100% buckwheat and vegan batter! (It looks a little messy there-but it was FANTASTIC.

While there I also picked up some pretty flowers for my room

I tried for a better picture, but the lighting in my room was awful today!

And I picked up a yummy chocolate vegan cupcake from Susie's Shortbread (the have a market booth in addition to two locations around the city).

For lunch I made an enormous and wonderful salad (just like the one I made last week with my pita pizzas!)

And for supper I heated up some butternut squash soup (This company called Imagine makes amazing, and mostly vegan, creamy soups that are just perfect on a cold day).

Other than that I have had a relaxing day at home, it is nice to have a full day all to myself!

Enjoy the rest of your day lovelies!
xo April

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good food with great friends!

Two posts in one day? I can barely believe it myself! But I just had to post about the amazing evening I had with two of my great friends Bhreagh and Lindsay!

We met after work for a long discussed (as in a year in the making) dinner at one of my favorite local vegetarian restaurants, The Heartwood.

The food there is incredible! Everything is vegetarian, and most meals can be made vegan/gluten free if they aren't already. Plus, everything is made from fresh and local ingredients where possible!

We got started with the always delicious hummus and guacamole platter- which (as you can see below) comes with fresh veggies, tortilla chips, and nice warm focaccia bread :)

Bhreagh had the bean burrito which came with rice and more tortilla chips! It looked really good (and she said it was, haha).

Lindsay went for the daily special, which was chana masala on brown rice with a side of cucumber and rice salad.
and I had my absolute favorite the classic vegan pizza. Which is covered in artichoke hearts, spinach, veggies, tofu, and an out-of-this-world garlic sauce (all on a kamut crust). It is by far the best pizza I have ever had, vegan or otherwise. Behold.

What I love most about this pizza is it is always a little bit different depending on what they have at the time (once they were out of spinach so they put kale on instead- so good!)

We all saved half of our meals for lunch tomorrow to make sure that we had room for desert. They have a fantastic selection, but we decided to split a slice of the peanut butter chocolate "cheesecake" which is 100% vegan (and 1000% delicious- and no I did not add an extra zero by mistake, it is that awesome).

After our great dinner we decided to hit the gym, since none of us had made it early in the day. We were way to full to hop on a treadmill, so instead we took over the yoga studio and did a nice hour long work-out routine that includes some great exercises for arms, legs, and abs, and finished it off with a round of the 20 minute circuit, which conveniently targets all your major muscle groups :) It would have been nice to get some cardio in, but alas, I had no desire to make myself sick. All in all it was a really nice workout, made even better by the great company.

Off to bed now though, I have an early morning lab meeting!

xo April

I've got the fever...

...and no I (thankfully) do not mean Bieber fever.

I have MAJOR puppy fever.
It's bad people- very bad.

(Specifically I want a lab puppy- or a puppy that is part lab!)

Growing up I always had several pets at a time (at one point we had 4 dogs and 3 cats)- and although having everything I own covered in hair got a little old from time to time, I loved having them around. When I left my parents house it was weird at first to not have any pets around, but I quickly got used to it.

However, lately, every time I see a dog my heart just melts. I want one sooo bad.

I spent 30 mins this morning looking at dogs to be adopted through the local animal shelter. I fell in love with pretty much everyone I saw, and It breaks my heart to know I can't take any of them home with me :( I live in a place that doesn't allow dogs, and sadly I know that I am just too busy to give a dog the time and attention that they would need right now.

BUT! I found out something really cool that I can do instead of bringing a dog home right now, that is still (hopefully) going to help get them out of a shelter and into a loving home. Perhaps this is only news to me, but in some cases shelters will allow you to sponsor shelter animals! You can help find a home for an animal by paying part of the adoption fee - therefore making it cheaper for someone who wants to take that animal home! So cool! Also, fostering animals is another possibility! So if you can't commit long-term to having a pet you can temporarily give an animal a break from the shelter life, and maybe help train that animal for their future family! Some animals might have some bad habits that will prevent them from going to a good home. By fostering one of these animals, and working with them, and training them, hopefully they will be more likely to be adopted! Plus, while you are fostering an animal the shelter will have space for another animal, so in the end you might help two animals find loving families, even if you aren't able to adopt one yourself!

So that's it folks, if you are passionate about helping shelter animals find homes but just aren't able to adopt one yourself, there are still a whole bunch of ways that you can help out!

Has anyone of you adopted a fur-friend from an animal shelter? How did you find the whole experience?

I might not be able to bring a friend home just yet- but I will be, and I wanna know as much as possible about the process!

xo April

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Still going strong :)

I want to start this post off my saying how thrilled I am that it is nearly the end of January and I have been working hard at keeping each of the goals that I set for myself this year.

That is not to say that I haven't slipped up at all- just the other night I went to a local cafe for dinner instead of going home and making my own- and while it was ok, I would have been much more satisfied had I made something for myself.

As far as saving money in general goes I have been doing very well for myself- I usually have trouble with buying clothes a lot, and just spending money on things I don't need at all. The only things that I have bought for myself this month are a strap for my yoga mat, and a new tank top for the gym (which I got on sale at lulu lemon!).

I am already noticing improvements in my health as a result of heading to the gym frequently. I try to go every day, but am happy if I at least make it every second day. I am able to run longer, and faster already, after less than a month! (I have never been a runner, although I would really like to be, so being able to run for a 18 minutes of a 20 minute treadmill session is quite an improvement for me.)

I am going to try to mix in more yoga throughout the week with my gym routine for some variety, and also because it makes me feel so good.

I have a delicious new recipe to share! It isn't completely mine, although I did change it up a little, but it was suggested to me by a friend in my lab- and it is amazing!

It doesn't really have a name, but we'll go with...

Spicy chickpea tomato goodness ( with spinach!)

1 large red onion (or 2 small)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
red pepper flakes to taste
2 cans of chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes (I used some that were seasoned with garlic and olive oil)
hot sauce to taste
lemon juice
3 large handfuls of spinach

Step 1: heat oil ( I used coconut )in a pan on medium heat, add onions and heat for 5-10 mins (or until onions are translucent)

Step 2: add spices and cook for another 2 mins or so.

Step 3: add the chickpeas and tomatoes- mix. (I drained my chickpeas and used the juice from the tomatoes to add moisture- however you might find you need to add water as it cooks to keep everything from being too thick). Add hot sauce, mix, cover and let simmer for about 20-30 mins.

Step 4: Add lemon juice and spinach, cover and cook for another 5-1o mins (until spinach wilts)

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy!

As you can see this recipe makes quite a bit of food! I stored mine in the fridge to eat as lunch for the next couple of days (and it was just as delicious ,if not better, the next day)

FYI I take all of my pictures with my iPhone, cause I don't have a good camera- so the quality isn't great, but It will have to do for now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I have been horrible at updating these past couple of days (ok couple of weeks :S) But! I had a paper and a presentation that I really needed to get done for my supervisor, and now that they are done I have more time for the important things in life (ie. cooking, living, and blogging about it :) )

Two nights ago I made a HUGE pot of vegan mac and cheese! It is 100% delicious- I don't find it tastes very "cheesy", but I don't even care, because it is amazing, and the cozy familiarity of mac and cheese is definitely there. I had some for supper, and some yesterday and today for lunch! I cooked a whole box of pasta, haha, so it will last me several meals I think.

As for the recipe, I found it over at Chef Katelyn's Blog! I mixed some steamed broccoli into mine, and sprinkled a little extra nutritional yeast on top- so good!

I munched on some trail mix (raw cashews, tamari almonds, goji berries, dried cranberries and dried blueberries), a yummy organic brown rice cake, and a pear today to get me through the lab day.

I finished my science early today and was able to make the triumphant return to yoga that I have been longing for.

It happened to be snowing and very pretty on my way from the lab to the studio...

...(although because I live in Halifax the snow turned to rain by the time I finished my 60min yoga class and the walk home was less pretty)
I go to my local Moksha yoga studio where I practice in a heated room - it is fantastic. If you have a Moksha yoga studio near you I highly recommend you check it out- it will quite literally change your life! For more about Moksha check out their website!

After a wonderful class I marched my super sweaty self home to make some dinner. What did I make you ask? I thought about having more mac and cheese, but I really don't wanna overdo it and get sick of it (plus that is way too much pasta for one day if you ask me!)

SO, I made a DELICIOUS pita pizza, and an even better salad to go with it.

For the pizza I had to make my own sauce cause we didn't have any pizza sauce on hand, so I just mixed some tomato paste with italian seasoning, garlic powder, and chili powder. I spread that on a whole wheat tortilla wrap and topped it with cherry tomatoes (cut in half), mushrooms, red onion, asparagus, red pepper, and spinach. Then I sprinkled some nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes on top :) I heated it up in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 min, and then switched the oven to broil (high) for ~ 5 mins (or until the sides of the wrap start to brown).

To go with the beautiful pizza I made perhaps the greatest salad ever (or at least the best one I have made for myself in quite a while.

Spinach + cherry tomatoes + red onion + mushroom + strawberry + avocado + sliced almonds + a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and dressed with a wonderful fig balsamic salad dressing (made by Kraft).

Other than yoga today I have been doing really well with the gym lately though! I have been going at least every second day- and am definitely seeing improvements already!

That's all for now, I'm gonna go watch some gilmore girls and head to bed so that I can get up early tomorrow and hit the lab/ the gym.

April xo

Monday, January 10, 2011

Holy stress batman!

Sorry for the few days of zero updates- I promise I haven't fallen off the planet. I've just spent the past few days with my nose buried in a pile of research papers attempting to get the first paper of the semester done and submitted for first review. I'm happy to say that it is finally off to my supervisor and I don't have to think about until the edited copy comes back to me.

Sadly I haven't made it to the gym in a few days either- but that I'll head back tomorrow and get back in the swing of things.

Saturday I made myself some Chana Masala for lunch and took the rest to work (although thanks to the longest shift ever I didn't get to eat it until like 1130 at night when I finally got off and was STARVING!)

Quick and easy Chana Masala

1/2 onion
several cloves of garlic
1 can chickpeas
juice of a lemon
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
(the recipe usually calls for garam masala but I didn't
have any so I used turmeric instead, it was still delicious!)
1 large handful of spinach

Heat oil in a pan and add the onions and garlic- cook a few minutes until the onions go clear.
Add the chickpeas straight from the can- including the water (or if you'd prefer you can rinse them and just add water I'm sure it would work just as well)
Add the lemon juice and spices.
Cover and simmer for 10-15 mins.
Add the spinach and let it cook until it wilts
Serve and Enjoy :)

I've also been making some DELICIOUS green smoothies the past few days, I am officially addicted all over again :)

Yesterday morning I woke up in what seemed like a winter wonderland! We haven't had any snow all winter, and then I woke up to a beautiful snow covered city- I wish I had snapped a picture!

I spent my day camped out at Uncommon grounds , another great local coffee shop here in Halifax :) I had what they call a vegan bar for breakfast (It's kind of like a banana bread with carob chips inside- so good) with a fantastic half sweet soy London fog :)

After a long day of paper writing I treated myself to some take-out pad thai for supper (and had the leftovers today for lunch!)

Last night my fantastic roommate made some glorious vegan cupcakes for her bake sale today (that and a bunch of other really yummy ). As the vegan of the house I got to have one to make sure they were good (and they were fantastic- I might make some of my own later this week!)

That's all I've got for now! xo

Friday, January 7, 2011

Life is sweet...

I found out some absolutely fantastic news today!

But, first a little back story...

I don't know about the rest of you, but since going vegan (2 years ago :)- yay!) I have definitely had slip ups here and there, "cheated" if you will. One of my favorite things to "cheat" on my veganism with have been these absolutely delicious cupcakes from a local place called Susie's Shortbreads. Now I've really only had maybe 3 of these cupcakes in the past 2 years, but they have been INCREDIBLE.

Well, this morning, I went on twitter, and guess what?!?!


I was so excited! and they gave out free samples today, which are just as delicious as the non-vegan ones (maybe more-so) , but without the guilt of cheating!! (I wish I could have snapped a picture of them to share, but they pretty much look like the ones featured above- although the trial cupcakes were plain vanilla).

I spoke to the woman behind the cupcake, TJ Peach, who told me that after polling the twitter world for substitution suggestions she settled on coconut milk to replace the milk, Earth Balance in place of butter, and apple sauce as an egg replacer!

She already offers gluten-free cupcakes, and mentioned that she hopes to be able to offer cupcakes that are both vegan AND gluten free in the future.

If you are ever in Halifax NS and you want a delicious vegan treat you need to try one of these cupcakes!

On a different note I made it to the gym this morning for about an hour and felt fantastic! I think starting my day off with a workout is a fantastic idea- it completely pumped me up for the rest of the day!

After a fun filled day of getting my student ID replaced, dealing with student loans and paper writing I returned home and attempted to figure out something for supper. I settled on some over roasted sweet potatoes (Inspired by a recipe I noticed over at Snacking Squirrel ), some asparagus, and a nice yummy green smoothie (mango + OJ + water + flax +spinach)

I tossed my potatoes (sweet, and red skinned) in some olive oil and a mix of Italian spice, chili flakes, black pepper, and poultry seasoning (don't worry there is no poultry in it ;) )- I baked them at 375 degrees for about 45mins-1hr (just until they are soft and start to brown slightly)

For the asparagus I tossed them in a little sesame oil + chili flakes + poultry seasoning + crushed black pepper + crushed almond slices + a dash of sea salt. I baked these at 450 degrees for about 7 mins, and then broiled them until the tips started to brown.

It was fantastic, and filling after a long busy day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Early mornings...

I had my first 835 am class in a very long time today- which I will have every Tues and Thurs of this semester. Let's just say I need to get back into the practice of getting up early- especially since I no longer live right on campus. But, I made it- and the class seems like it will be interesting without being too hard- which is nice since I have a lot of lab work to catch up on this semester!

Thanks to the Magic Bullet that Santa (aka my awesome Mom and Dad) got me for Christmas this year I still had time to start my day with a quick yet delicious smoothie!

I don't have any pictures, but I pretty much just stuffed some mixed berries, spinach, water and ground flax into the MB, blended a few times and was out the door!

I finished off the last of my Dahl for lunch today - just as delicious today as the night I made it :)

I spent pretty much my entire day sitting at my desk reading papers/ working on my paper (took a break to go to a seminar- woop woop).

Then I came home and made a DELICIOUS supper...

Whole wheat bow-tie pasta with veggies in a red wine tomato sauce

1/4 onion, chopped
3 asparagus spears, chopped
1/4 sm. zucchini, chopped
1 mini orange pepper (or 1/2 regular size), chopped
several cloves of garlic, chopped (I used 5, but I LOVE garlic)
Handful of spinach

Heat olive oil in a pan, add veggies (except spinach) and cook to desired texture (I like mine to still be a little crunchy), meanwhile boil the water and add the pasta of your choice (I used bow-ties, but anything would work)

Red Wine Tomato Sauce

3 large vine ripened tomatoes
splash of red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/2 tsp. Italian spice (or to taste)
1/4 tsp rosemary
Crushed red pepper/ black pepper to taste

Combine the tomatoes and wine in a blender. Add to the pan with your vegetables. Add spices and let simmer (the sauce will thicken as it cooks).

Just before the pasta is done add the spinach to the sauce, once it wilts drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce.

Voila! - this made enough for 2-3 servings for me (aka supper tonight and at least lunch tomorrow!), and was completely delicious!

FYI- I have also made the sauce before without the wine, and it is still delicious. I just like the added flavor that a little red wine adds to the dish.

If you're like me and like your food super spicy you can throw some extra crushed red pepper flakes on top! (Nutritional yeast is also a nice touch :) )

April xo

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting back into the swing of things...

How quickly the holidays seem to go by these days. I remember Christmas break seeming to last forever when I was a kid, and now I'm constantly wondering how it is already time to get back to work? :(

I made my triumphant return to the lab yesterday, although since I have a paper due for my supervisor this Friday I only stayed long enough to drop off my things, say hi to everyone, and then I headed to the local coffee shop, Just US!, to get some work done.

I absolutely love going there! The staff are super friendly, and they have a great selection of organic and fair trade coffees and teas. And as an added bonus, they have a ton of vegan options! It is also a really great place to get work done, since it is so close to the lab. Plus, it is a lot nicer working on a paper in a cozy and colorful environment rather than sitting at my desk cramped in the corner of the student office!

I am proud to say that despite all of the vegan goodies offered, I stuck to my goal and brought my own food yesterday (some leftover quinoa and black bean pepper "stuffing"). I did, however, treat myself to a yummy pot of Andean Infusion tea (extra yummy if you add a bit of honey to it).

What an adorable little tea pot!

I took a paper break mid-day to hit up the gym with my lovely gym buddy. Even though I was still pretty sore from Sunday it felt really good to get back to it!

As a special treat I made some DELICIOUS sweet potato Dahl for supper (and lunch today). I will post the recipe a little later. So good.

After a bit more work on my pesky paper I headed to the boys to relax a bit, and ended up catching the premier of The Biggest Loser. I might be hooked now.

I really liked Courtney, she seemed pretty determined, and willing to do what it takes to get healthy- I really hope she makes it far.

In other fun news, I got a great new toy today...

A brand new iPod Shuffle!

I won it at our lab Christmas party back in December- and it came in today, just in time for my triumphant return to the gym tomorrow. (I feel like kind of a tool walking around the gym listening to music on my iPhone).

Next step is to come up with some great pump up music to put on it to keep me moving during my workouts. Any suggestions?

April xo

Sunday, January 2, 2011

April 2011


Well, I'm sad to report that the 30 Day Challenge did not work out this time, and neither did my grand notion of healthy eating. But, it is a new year, and with that comes a clean slate (sort of).

I have decided to make the most of 2011 starting with a few goals for April 2011 ( I don't like making resolutions, so I just create an updated version of myself each year :) )

April going to start paying off her debt and saving money :)
This means no more spending crazy amounts of money on take-out, and eating at restaurants, or buying clothes and other things that I just don't need.

April going to cook more (and cook healthy VEGAN foods!)

April 2011...has a gym membership-and plans to use it!
I've never been much of a gym person- but I like the idea of exercising around my schedule. Sometimes I don't have the time to make it to organized classes and such, so this might be just what I need right now to get back to being healthy and fit!

April going to work hard at her Masters and get it done so she can move on to what is next.
To be honest, I rushed into the decision to do a masters- I should have thought it through. Now it seems it might not be the right choice for me- but I'm in it- so I'm going to make the best of it, and hopefully find some joy in it along the way.

So far so good on my 2011 goals.

I made it to the gym today- and although I'm sure I'll be hurting tomorrow, it felt great!

I also made a delicious (and vegan) supper!

Quinoa and black bean stuffed pepper

First, cook 1/2 cup of quinoa.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the "stuffing"

3 Mushrooms,chopped
1/4 Onion,chopped
3 cloves of garlic,chopped
1/2 carrot,chopped
1/4 zucchini,chopped
handful of spinach
1/2 can of blackbeans
1/4 tsp cumin

Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat, add above ingredients and cook 3-5 mins.
Mix the ingredients from the pan with the quinoa and add 1 cup of tomato sauce, mix.

Cut the top off of a bell pepper (whatever color you like, I used an orange one)- remove all of the insides, and replace with your "stuffing" (there is enough stuffing for 2 medium size peppers).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45mins to 1 hr, and enjoy!

(I'll get better at taking pictures I promise!)

Anyway, I have a paper due in 5 days, so off I go!

April xo