A Healthy Rotation

Dzień dobry! I just got back from Poland where I got married for a second time, visited my husband’s family and had a wonderful mini-moon!


The food in Poland was awesome and I was surprised at the urban food scene in Warsaw that blends traditional recipes using a plant-based approach. If you are interested in the places I travelled, I have pinned the stories on my instagram page. I am definitely looking forward to playing with and developing some recipes to share with you guys soon!

Now that I am home, one thing I have committed to focusing on this summer is rebalance. I know I sound like a broken record but it is something I really struggle with. I have started writing a lot of stuff down, such as “to-do lists” and of course, as I have done in the past, a return back to meal-planning.

As a passionate cook and wannabe recipe developer, I can’t help but naturally approach meal-planning from an eclectic perspective. A little guac here, a little saffron the next day, what can it hurt?

Well, unfortunately – even with meal planning – it can hurt the wallet. If you are not coordinated with your recipes, you amp up the cost of groceries by having to stock a pantry with an array of ingredients that can go to waste if you do not remake the recipe and use up the rest of the item in a timely manner.

Repetitive meal rotations have been written about in a variety of contexts. From the minimalist perspective, eating the same items daily can help eliminate “decision fatigue” as individuals can anticipate the same nutrient-dense and well-balanced items to help them feel good. If I know that on Day 3 of my rotation, I am having spaghetti squash for dinner, then that is what I am having. If I know the repetitive meal rotation, then my grocery shopping just streamlined as I pick up the same items for a while; thus, saving me time and stress.

From a dietary standpoint, repetitive eating rotations have been associated with weight loss. Again, this is due to well-balanced and nutrient-dense meals but also due to predictive portioning. If you eat the same meal plan which has been curated and well thought out in coordination with your lifestyle (e.g., working out, weeknights, shift schedules, overtime etc.) you can truly balance your energy. Your body can anticipate what it needs to digest. You know what you are eating is good for you based on a routine.

Finally, there is a financial standpoint. When you think about the foods that are in season and use them completely, you can help eliminate food waste and save money. Furthermore, if you have a meal prepared in accordance with your lifestyle, it can help with lowering the “convenience food” budget – as I have named it in my Every Dollar App. This is the money I save just in case I end up at work late and need dinner and did not pack anything. If I have a meal prepared along with my emergency protein bars, I can hang on longer recognizing that there is something easy to prepare at home.

So what does this mean for me? As I whittle down my budget with summer unemployment, I am looking for ways to stay healthy but also keep the budget tight. While Dave Ramsey talks about “Beans ‘n Rice, Rice ‘n Beans”, there is something to be said about repetition. The challenge is as follows, a very basic 2-week meal plan in 3 rotations. Breakfasts, snacks, and lunches will be very consistent and there will be a little variety in the dinner menu. Meals will be balanced considering caloric intake based on my lifestyle as well as balance in macronutrients. It is my hope that by taking on this challenge, my wallet, waistline and wellbeing will benefit. Furthermore, while trying to look after myself, I am looking to take the burden of complex meal-planning off of me for just a little while.

Would you ever try repetitive meals? Do you find meal planning a burden? Leave your comments below!

Portable Bananutbutter Baked Oatmeal

Why hello there!

How is everyone in Ontario enjoying their long weekend? I definitely needed the extra day as I have been working a lot lately. To say that my professional life has been emotionally taxing is merely skimming the surface. Yesterday, Maciej and I were talking and he was really keen on spending time together. Today we decided to start the day with breakfast at a “ma and pa” restaurant where I caught up with a friend of mine from college. After, we headed up north to do some winter hiking.

For me, it is important to go outside and get some sunshine in the winter. Admittedly, I have not been doing this as much as I should be. I have been in a bit of a rut. Now, to give myself some credit, I have been working out regularly using the treadmill at home as well as the gym but it is also important for me to get some fresh air; I was long overdue. Furthermore, I need to spend more time doing things with the best friend I live with. I am often guilty of getting myself into such a work cycle that Maciej sometimes has to come out and shout with waving arms tell me he needs some attention LOL. This is a blessing because as the saying goes: “if you both are the same, there is too much of you in the relationship!”. So off we went! And I must say, I felt great when I returned home!


So great, I was inspired to do some meal prep for this week … and recipe development! I have always been a big fan of baked oatmeal; however, I find it is often a “Sunday Brunch” kind of meal.

My goal was to create a portable baked oatmeal that was lightly and naturally sweetened so that it could be made easily on a Sunday afternoon and quickly grabbed in the morning so you can eat it in the car on your way to work.

The inspiration: a peanut butter and banana sandwich … a new and adult take on a classic.

What did you do during the Family Day long weekend?  Comment below on your family to-dos and any tricks you have to get you through the week and if you try out the recipe!

Print Recipe
Portable Bananutbutter Baked Oatmeal
This oatmeal is convenient, healthy, naturally sweet and very versatile upon being an entirely plant-based dish. Whether you make it for a brunch or because you are a professional looking to make mornings a bit easier, this baked oatmeal is filled with protein and complex carbs to keep you full on the go!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F and grease a muffin tin with coconut oil.
  2. In a bowl mix the oatmeal, baking powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar and salt.
  3. In a saucepan over medium-low, mix the maple syrup, bananas, peanut butter and almond milk until the peanut butter is melted down. Feel free to use a hand mixer to create a smooth puree.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients then divide the batter using a spoon into the muffin tin.
  5. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely then wrap each oatmeal portion with plastic wrap and store individually in a zip-lock bag in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Recipe Notes

*If using salted peanut butter, omit.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 207

Fat: 7 grams

Carbohydrates: 35 grams

Fiber: 6 grams

Protein: 5 grams

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Learning to Run & Menu Plan – July 31st to August 6th 2017

Well here we are again! Another week has passed and I must note, the word of my week has been: stamina. 

I have two things on the go: (a) my thesis is going through its finalization process (I’m so f***ing tired. I apologize but seriously, this warrants swearing); and (b) I have begun the process of learning to run.

I have come to realize that writing a thesis is literally like building a baby. It takes months out of your life. You cannot properly be a friend, a family member or a girlfriend because you are so tired building this thing as you devote every. waking. hour. to it. (Trust me, if you want to know who your real friends are, go to graduate school). You laugh and get excited during the milestone triumphs (you know, the “EUREKA!” moments). You cry when you cannot take the process of building the parts to your argument anymore. Heaven forbid you think you have a final product only to be let down because it is not ready yet as it is returned to you with cold-hard edits by your lovely partner.  I am mentally exhausted and realistically, I am fed up. I want it submitted so I no longer need to be that awful friend who ditches every occasion or the crappy aunt whose spider-nephew hangs-up FaceTime on you because he’s pissed off you won’t come over and play (even though you really want to). I am nearing completion at this point and more importantly I am on my role. I realized yesterday that there are only a couple weeks left until I am leaving for my trip to Dublin to attend a conference and that hit me hard. I really need to finish this all up and get some additional work done as well as prepare for my presentation abroad. There is no rest for the weary, I’m afraid.

On another note, I promised myself I would learn to run and this week, I started! My stats obviously were not great. Maciej poked fun at my average of 7:04 min/km (he is half of that!!); however, I saw a quote about running that stuck with me given the challenges I have been facing:

It does not get easier, you just get stronger.

Realistically, this is true for many facets of life in addition to it encouraging me to keep up the physical fitness (something I have not been great about during university if you have read my about page).

With my thesis, at first it completely sucked; however, now that I know what I am doing, I have my role. I got stronger.

With aspects of love in my life, the first time I fell in love, it completely sucked – a whirlwind of poor decision making, really; however, now that I know how to remain true to myself with another person, I am happily in love. I got stronger.

When I started a new job and was thrusted with responsibility that no post-secondary institution can prepare you for, I panicked. I wanted to leave. However, now that I pushed myself to learn from others was humbled to reach out to those who have more experience than I do, I made a very good name for myself and carry a strong reputation. I got stronger.

When I had to bravely stand up for someone who could not stand up for themselves earlier this year and face the wrath that triggered my anxiety beyond anything I had ever experienced to the point I did not want to work again, I pushed through it and I am still ready to stand up for those who need a voice. I got stronger.

Something I have come to learn is that real success is not sheer luck. It is being malleable to your surroundings and willing to be uncomfortable while you push forward for the best version of yourself. And with that, I have this weeks meal plan to keep me fueled as I run as well as keep my mind healthy and nourished as I keep climbing these mountains.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Admittedly, breakfast this week is (albeit delicious) but very monotone. My reason for this is, I find that the iron and protein in the green monster smoothies are keeping me energized and focused while I write. I mean, like, I am totally strong and not snacking out of boredom when I have one in the morning. They are seriously magic. Additionally, I need a quick breakfast because my brain works best in the morning at extensive mental work and I am better at physical work in the evening. As a result, I aim to quickly eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast but get straight to work so I can get the most out of my day. Hence, cereal and smoothies it is!

Additionally, my dinners are very summery. Usually by August, I have no patience for full-on meals and tend to opt for BBQ type meals, fruits and salad. I have not tried the Smoky Vegan Carrot Dogs; however, I have heard about people in the vegan community making these carrot dog things and I figured after smelling the barbeque smell in my neighbourhood that it would be a fun recipe to try. I will definitely let you know how it goes!

While it is not listed in my meal plan, I have been keeping up with my water intake and the results are amazing. I have no idea how I let myself get so dehydrated because the more water I drink, the better I feel. I find I am not snacking as often, my thought processes are clearer, I feel stronger and way healthier both physically and mentally. Honestly, I really suggest everyone to try and increase their water intake because it is difficult to put in words, you just feel amazing when you do. It makes a huge difference. I will be starting up a new challenge this week, so stay tuned for that!

If you missed it last week, the blue items shown in the meal plan are linked to other blog posts (as well as a few non-blue items) which I will list below:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

**Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook – Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out by Angela Liddon p. 203

Snacks:

And there you have it! Very simple, mostly quick and light meals to accommodate my hectic work schedule as well as the warm weather.

Wishing everyone a productive week in hopes that you too, will become stronger no matter what challenges you face!

Feelings of Overwhelm

What am I going to do?

I don’t know about anyone else but 2017 has not been my year. I feel like the challenges that have been thrown at me are reminiscent of being the last player left on your team during dodgeball and there are no balls left on your side.

Earlier in the year, when another challenge would present itself, I would usually respond with anger, frustration and overwhelm before I finally exploded and tired out. I would like to say I have made sooooo much progress but really, today, I would like to acknowledge my baby steps. You see, typically as someone who is innately anxious while also enjoying achieving big dreams, I see the big picture and freak out. This goes for my large accumulation of student debt, the entire 6 chapters of my master’s thesis, and the steps leading to my ultimate professional goal. Even to some extent, I get overwhelmed and impatient with this blog… I JUST GOT IT RUNNING YESTERDAY! THIS IS MY SECOND POST!!

On Monday, I sat with a good friend of mine who has an accumulation of wisdom in her years ahead of my own. We were discussing some of my work and she told me: “Okay Stephanie, you are well on your way. However, now you need to take each chapter one at a time, finish it, refine it, make it perfect. Then once that is completely done – THEN move onto the next”. I share this little tidbit of wisdom with you my readers because – like most areas of my life, I tend to circle things. I move around without always committing to my one main task at hand. There is a whole philosophy of productivity that talks about this. For now, I would like to refer to this infographic created by Brandon Gaille. Gaille proposes 5 time management techniques for enhanced productivity.

My biggest vice is I switch between tasks and I procrastinate on social media. So, what if I did not? Would that bring the stress down? Would I actually get something done? I have decided to try all five of these techniques over the next week and write a review post on my feelings towards the various methods. It is my hope that I can figure out which method works for me so I can get the things I need off my to-do list.

On the list for tomorrow:

I have to complete my proposal for a conference in New York City; I need to complete a chapter of my thesis; and, I need to host people in celebration of Maciej’s birthday!!

On that note, I have put together a lovely menu spread for tomorrow! I am excited to get cooking! The recipes in this menu are all from one of my favourite bloggers of all time, Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. Her recipes are always a hit – even amongst those dietary meat purists. On the menu I have:

Appetizers:

Main Course

Dessert:

Drinks:

I think it goes without saying, I have one HECK of a day in the kitchen and on the computer tomorrow – anyone want to give me a vote of confidence that I can pull this off? Nah, sadly, me neither. I think it would be wise if I take some time before bed and schedule out my day tomorrow in my iCloud calendar as well as make friends with the Pomodoro technique because tomorrow is going to be a busy one! I will let you know how the menu turns out!

Do you have any productivity tips and tricks? How about keeping stress and overwhelm at bay? Share them below! I would love to discuss them with you!

Wishing everyone a good night!

And of course, most importantly – to the man I hope to keep whispering nonsense to until you have tripled this age – Happy Birthday.

Photo credit: Boakview Photography