“ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” Salad!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

You know how there are those few times during the year when everyone around you seems to be getting sick? Well, I am going through one of those times right now and I am proud to say that I still have not fallen sick. I have been taking preventative measures to ensure I remain cold/flu-free. In addition to taking oil of oregano daily while so many are sick around me, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, and always staying hydrated, I have been having my “ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” salad for dinner quite often lately. This high-in-vitamin-C and antioxidant-rich salad helps keep sickness away and is so yummy! I make this salad so often that I have never measured any of the ingredients. However, while making this salad for dinner last night, I measured the ingredients so that I could share the recipe with you all today! Enjoy!

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium (red, white, or yellow) onion, diced
  • 2-3 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1-2 pinches garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • leaves from 1 head of green kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium to high heat, sauté the diced onion in coconut oil until translucent.
  2. Add the diced zucchini and spices (cumin powder, fine sea salt, chili powder, garam masala powder, and turmeric powder). Sauté everything until all the water that comes out from the zucchini evaporates.
  3. Place the chopped kale leaves in a large bowl and add the sautéed zucchini and onion mixture on top.
  4. Top off the salad with the diced mango and chopped scallion.
  5. Mix everything together. Allow the flavours to mix and mingle for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

XOXO,

Addy

Natural Cosmetics by “Pure Anada” (Review)

Natural cosmetics are usually a hit or miss and Pure Anada is definitely a hit!

Natural cosmetics are usually a hit or miss and Pure Anada is definitely a hit!

Last week, my colleague, Hannah, who is the owner and creator of Speckled Fawn (a bath and beauty company that is all-natural, vegan, handmade, and Toronto-based), was given samples from the natural cosmetics company, Pure Anada. She offered me some of her samples to try. The catch? I had to give her my honest feedback. As a self-proclaimed makeup junkie, I delightfully accepted some samples. I was so eager to try the samples and give her my feedback that I started wearing the makeup the following day. Natural cosmetics, in general, have never been a huge hit with me, due to poor colour payoff, limited colour selection, lack of lasting power, etc. Pure Anada, however, really impressed me when it came to quality and pricing!

Swatches from left to right: Luminous Blush in "Raspberry Parfait", Loose Mineral Foundation in "Pacific Tan", Petal Perfect Lipstick in "Carnation".

Swatches from left to right: Luminous Blush in “Raspberry Parfait”, Loose Mineral Foundation in “Pacific Tan”, Petal Perfect Lipstick in “Carnation”.

From the samples Hannah received from Pure Anada, I chose:

  • Luminous Blush in “Raspberry Parfait” (retail price: $12 CAD for 3-gram sifter jar) – a medium rosy pink with iridescent shimmer.
  • Loose Mineral Foundation in “Pacific Tan” (retail price: $12 CAD for 3 grams, $25 CAD for 10 grams) – my perfect summertime shade (coincidentally)!
  • Petal Perfect Lipstick in “Carnation” (retail price: $14 CAD for 10-millilitre vial) – a medium rosy pink with iridescent shimmer (very similar in colour to the blush, coincidentally).

It was all such a coincidence that the colour of the blush almost matched the colour of the lipstick and that the colour of the foundation matched my current summertime skin tone! All the colours complemented my skin tone well and applied very smoothly. My only criticism is that while the blush and foundation were very pigmented and stayed on my face all day (10+ hours) without any touch-ups, the colour payoff and staying power of the lipstick was not that great compared to M.A.C. lipsticks, for example. However, this lipstick was much more moisturizing than most and it contained much cleaner ingredients than most. For instance, the first three ingredients are organic castor seed oil, organic rosehip seed oil, and organic jojoba seed oil. No wonder why this lipstick was incredibly moisturizing and felt so good on my lips!

I loved the colour of the blush and that of the lipstick, but those colours are not ones I typically wear. The next colours I want to try are a baby pink blush colour and a pinkish nude lipstick colour!

I loved the colour of the blush and that of the lipstick, but those colours are not ones I typically wear. The next colours I want to try are a baby pink blush colour and a pinkish nude lipstick colour!

Even though these products contain clean, good-for-you, quality ingredients (i.e. purified mineral pigments, certified organic oils and waxes, etc.), the pricing is very reasonable and comparable to M.A.C.’s pricing. I find that natural cosmetics are often pricier than their chemical-laden counterparts at drugstores and department stores. Pure Anada, on the other hand, keeps their pricing in a similar range as thatof M.A.C. and of the low-end to medium-end brands at Sephora. Pure Anada has shifted my view on natural cosmetics to a more positive one. Good-for-you ingredients? Check. Good prices? Check. Decent colour selection? Check. Moderate to great colour payoff and staying power? Check and check. I am definitely more open to try natural cosmetics now and I am excited to check out more shades and products from Pure Anada. If you have favourites from this brand or any other natural cosmetics brand, let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter!

XOXO,

Addy

Sea Fun and Seafood at Frutos Del Mar (in Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal)!

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Being by the sea at a beach near the Mayan ruins of Tulum had me dreaming of all the seafood that was going to be offered for dinner that night at the Frutos Del Mar restaurant.

After Raj and I celebrated our one-year anniversary at Maiko restaurant, it was time for his sister and her husband to celebrate their ten-year wedding anniversary there the following night. While they were enjoying dinner at Maiko, Raj, his parents, and I took their kids (Raj’s niece and nephew) to dinner at Frutos Del Mar. It was great that this was a seafood restaurant, because we all were craving seafood after spending the day by the sea at a beautiful beach near the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Seafood can be a great source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals. If you are a big fan of seafood and are staying at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort, then you definitely must check out the Frutos Del Mar restaurant. Here is a recap/review of my dining experience there…

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I loved the nautical decor of the restaurant.

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The apéritif was a refreshing and lightly sweet cocktail. I cannot remember what was in it, but it tasted like a light and fruity dessert wine. Also, I loved the star fruit garnish, which reminded me of a starfish.

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The appetizer menu and a portion of the main course menu. For the appetizer, you could choose one of the starters or one of the soups or their seafood buffet. Since I prefer plated service over buffets, I opted for a starter (as did Raj and his parents), while his niece and nephew chose the seafood buffet to start.

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Look at the incredible variety of seafood dishes at the appetizer buffet! Some highlights include various ceviches (scallop/salmon/tuna), slices of seared tuna steak, prawns, crab legs, and a variety of caviar! As wonderful as this seafood buffet was, I was glad I opted for a plated starter for my appetizer instead, because I would have been so overwhelmed with all the choices! I would have tried a bit of everything and spoiled my appetite for the main course. This spread was beyond an appetizer buffet. You could have just ordered this alone and been more than satisfied.

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Raj’s niece and nephew ordered the buffet for their appetizer. I found it so funny that the first item his nephew eagerly reached for was a fruit salad amidst all the succulent seafood options! Ha ha ha. The kids loved all the fresh fruits that were available in Mexico at this time of the year and I cannot blame them.

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“Sea Scallops Carpaccio – with Porcini mushroom duxelle, mustard vinaigrette, Piquillo pepper and tangerine foam.” The scallops were succulent and fresh and I loved the flavourful minced mushrooms underneath. The mustard vinaigrette and tangerine foam did not overpower the delicate flavours of the scallop carpaccio. Instead, the condiments highlighted the flavours of the scallop carpaccio beautifully. I also ordered a glass of semi-dry sparkling white wine to pair with my seafood courses since I ordered very light seafood dishes.

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The other portion of the main course menu and the dessert menu.

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“Whisky Shrimp – with vegetables macédonie and celery cream.” I ordered this dish without the celery cream and I still loved it! The shrimps were large, juicy, and perfectly cooked. I especially loved the crispy beet chips (those red string-like things on my plate). I wanted an entire plate of those beet chips! My only criticism was that the portion was too small for a main course. It was essentially only six pieces of shrimp with two pieces of asparagus. On a positive note, this was the perfect excuse to order dessert and not feel guilty!

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“Impossible Cake – Kahlúa sponge cake and cottage cheese crème caramel.” When you order a very light appetizer and a very light main course, I think you are entitled to order whatever your heart desires on the dessert menu! This dessert was highly recommended by our server, so I ordered it. Although I loved it, it was too heavy and decadent for me. I only managed two bites with the fruit and chocolate garnishes. If you enjoy rich desserts and love coffee and caramel, you would definitely love this dessert!

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I thought I would share and end with this cute picture. After our dinner at Frutos Del Mar, we bumped into Daffy Duck and Donald Duck! They were both super nice. 😉

All in all, the food was great and everyone had a blast that night. The quality of the seafood was exceptional. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves seafood. I also highly recommend visiting the beaches by the Mayan ruins of Tulum, if you are in the area. The water, sand, and views are spectacular!

XOXO,

Addy

Girls’ Night at the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal: Arlequin Restaurant Review

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Excited for a girls’ night dinner at the Arlequin!

For our second dinner dining experience (if you have not seen the first one, go here), the men (Raj, his dad, his brother-in-law, his brother-in-law’s dad, and his nephew) went to La Gran Tortuga-Rodizio restaurant to indulge in a buffet of Brazilian grilled meats. Meanwhile, the ladies (Raj’s mom, his sister, his sister’s mother-in-law, and his niece) and I went to the Arlequin restaurant for fancy French cuisine. I loved this restaurant and this meal was one of my favourites during the trip! All of my courses were very flavourful, well presented, and perfectly portioned. I will recap of one of my favourite dining experiences on this trip, but first, I cannot resist sharing the little bit of monkey fun I had during this trip…

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Some monkey fun before dinner!

After some monkey business, the ladies and I were finally ready to head out for a girls’ night dinner…

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From left to right: Raj’s sister’s mother-in-law, his sister, his mom, and me. On our way to get ready for our girls’ night French dinner!

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From left to right: me, Raj’s mom, his sister, his niece, and his sister’s mother-in-law. Gorgeous ladies!

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The appetizer menu.

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The complimentary apéritif. I did not get a chance to jot down what was in it, but it tasted like a light sparkling dessert wine, which I absolutely loved! The maraschino cherry added a pretty and festive touch.

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The complimentary amuse-bouche. This was a bite-sized rice cracker that was made in-house and topped off with some kind of sauce. Although the presentation was beautiful, the taste and flavours were not very memorable. It was okay.

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“Smoked Salmon Paupiettes – with mushroom duxelle and caviar trio vinaigrette.” Although the smoked salmon was not of great quality (you can even tell by the pale pink colour and lack of marbling), the pile of sautéed minced mushrooms underneath made up for it. The mushrooms were so flavourful and hearty that the smoked salmon could have been omitted from this dish.

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“Lobster Velouté – with shrimp and sea bass quenelle” (before pouring).

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“Lobster Velouté – with shrimp and sea bass quenelle” (after pouring). I LOVED this soup even though there were no actual lobster pieces, the shrimp was mediocre in quality, and the sea bass quenelle was just alright. The creamy and extremely flavourful broth tasted like lobster and prawns and it was perfectly seasoned! I am not ashamed to say that I was literally licking my bowl afterwards.

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The main course menu.

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“Sea Bass Supreme – with sautéed vegetables instead of creamy rice, mushroom confit, and gravy.” While the seafood in the appetizers (the smoked salmon in the salad and the shrimp in the soup) were not great, the sea bass fillet in this main course was spectacular! It was super moist and flaky. Also, the sautéed vegetables were perfectly cooked al dente. Not only was this dish super tasty, but it was also super healthy and paleo-friendly!

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The dessert menu. Macarons are my favourite dessert. Since Arlequin is a French restaurant, when I saw stuffed “macaroons” (cookies of Italian origin made with desiccated coconut) on the menu, I knew that it was a typo and that they were actually referring to “macarons” (the French cookie sandwich). I did not even bother asking if it was a typo and just ordered the “Trilogy of Macaroons stuffed with Mocha and Salted Caramel Ice Cream”.

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“Trilogy of Macaroons stuffed with Mocha and Salted Caramel Ice Cream.” I was right! “Macaroons” was a typo and they were really referring to “macarons”, which are my favourite dessert! I was so thrilled! The macarons tasted heavenly! The meringue cookie parts were perfectly made and the filling was divine. The macarons were so wonderfully made that I did not even touch the ice cream, because I did not want to ruin what was on my palate with anything else.

I enjoyed dinner at the Arlequin more than dinner at Le Gourmet the previous night. My favourite dinner on the trip, however, took place the following night at a Japanese restaurant. Not only was it Raj’s and my one-year anniversary dinner, but that restaurant had the best food and service! I will share that dining experience in the next post, so stay tuned!

XOXO,

Addy

Gardening Fun!

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Out of both Raj and me, Raj definitely has the greener thumb. Every spring and summer, he grows a different variety of organic produce. I thought I would do a brief blog post to show you all what he is growing this year. I cannot wait to try the fruits of his labour!

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I will be sure to keep you all posted on the progress of his garden throughout the summer!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: “Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

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Now that it is finally warmer and sunnier in Toronto, I have been craving fresh salads and coconut water lately. So I wanted to create a coconut-based salad to complement a nice, cold, refreshing glass of coconut water. I came up with this “Cuckoo for Coconut” salad and it was delicious! This vegan salad is high in fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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“Cuckoo for Coconut” Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons creamed coconut, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 baby bok choy, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

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  1. Mix everything together.
  2. Let set for 5 minutes to allow all the flavours to mix and mingle.
  3. Enjoy!

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We packaged this salad in Mason jars and brought them with us to Scarborough Bluffs Park. The salad tasted even better with the beautiful view of Lake Ontario and with some coconut water on the side. I hope you get to try this recipe and enjoy it outdoors in the beautiful weather this summer!

XOXO,

Addy

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Raddy Recipe: Raj’s Mom Shows How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds!

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Both my dad and Raj’s dad LOVE jackfruit and would list it as one of their favourite fruits. Thus, Raj and I both grew up eating this fruit and we love it too. To me, this sweet and fleshy fruit tastes like something between a mango and a lychee. While my family would devour the tasty flesh of this fruit and toss away the seeds, Raj’s family would save the seeds and make delicious dishes with them. With jackfruit season upon us, I thought I would share one of Raj’s mom’s delicious jackfruit seed recipes.

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Recently, my parents bought some beautifully ripe jackfruit for Raj and his parents. When his mom told me she was going to save the seeds and cook with them, I was skeptical at first, because the seeds tasted so bitter and unpleasant in their raw state. However, when she cooked them in a simple stir-fry, they tasted delicious (similar to a cooked potato)! Not only are these seeds edible and tasty when cooked, but they are also a good source of vegan protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, and some B vitamins! I will never toss out the seeds from a jackfruit again! Here is Raj’s mom’s simple stir-fry recipe for jackfruit seeds (sorry for the lack of precise measurements, but like many mothers who cook a lot, Raj’s mom usually just “eyeballs” her measurements and goes by taste)…

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Raj’s Mom’s “Do-NOT-Throw-Away-The-Jackfruit-Seeds” Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh jackfruit seeds, each one cut in half
  • water to boil the jackfruit seeds
  • 1/2 cup frozen “Chinese potato” pieces (found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • few cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

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  1. Boil the fresh jackfruit seeds for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Then, drain and set them aside.
  2. In a pan on medium high heat, sauté the diced red onion with coconut oil until the onion pieces turn slightly brown and caramelize a bit.
  3. Add the halved jackfruit seeds and “Chinese potato” pieces into the pan and sauté them until everything is heated through.
  4. Add chili powder and salt to taste.
  5. Transfer stir-fry to a serving dish and serve immediately or garnish with a few cilantro leaves just before serving. Enjoy!

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The next time you eat jackfruit, I hope you save the seeds and try cooking with them! They are so delicious and nutritious!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: 1 Larabar = 8 Deliciously Healthy Cookies!

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Larabar Fruit and Nut Energy Bars are simple (contain no more than nine whole-food ingredients), gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, low-sodium, and vegan. They are delicious right out of the wrapper, but since they are made with only such few pure and raw ingredients, I thought to myself, “Why not bake with them?” So I experimented with that thought and managed to turn one Larabar into eight delicious and nutritious cookies! It works with all the Larabar flavours, but I will be showing you how with my favourite flavour, Coconut Cream.

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The Coconut Cream flavour contains ONLY dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil.

1. Select your favourite Larabar flavour (mine is Coconut Cream) and preheat the oven to 150°F.

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2. Cut the Larabar into eight equally sized pieces (cut the bar into halves and then, cut each half into quarters).

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3. With the palms of your hands, flatten each piece as much as possible into thin, round cookies.

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4. Bake the cookies for about 30 minutes or until crispy.

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5. Let the cookies cool down completely to get even more crispy and then, enjoy!

These cookies are so delicious and nutritious (high in fibre and healthy fats) since the only ingredient is Larabar. Also, this recipe, which makes eight bite-sized cookies from one Larabar, is great for portion control. So the next time you are craving cookies, try this out!

XOXO,

Addy

How to Survive Wedding Gluttony!

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With the weather in Toronto getting warmer and with summer right around the corner, more and more weddings are taking place. My family receives about one wedding invite per year. Raj’s family, on the other hand, receives numerous wedding invites every year, especially during the spring and summer. Although all these wedding reception parties will differ in number of guests, catering, decor, time schedule and/or venue, one thing remains constant… There is always an excessive amount of indulgent foods! The first wedding of the year that Raj and I attended this past Saturday at Whistle Bear Golf Club was certainly no exception! Here are some tips I used to keep the eating at a wedding party clean and lean:

1. Have a healthy breakfast and a light lunch beforehand in order to not fill up on hors d’oeuvres and to avoid the fried and unhealthy ones.

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Greasy hors d’oeuvres I avoided (from top left, clockwise): samosas, breaded and deep fried calamari, deep fried risotto balls, beef satay.

 

2. Inform your server well beforehand of any food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, and/or avoidances you may have. Bring digestive enzymes if you are concerned about cross-contamination. I informed my server that I was lactose intolerant, so all of my courses and beverages were dairy-free. For instance, my salad came without any cheese, my soup was dairy-free, and my coffee was served with almond milk. I also got a healthier fruit sorbet for dessert instead of the cheesecake. Just in case though, I brought and took some digestive enzymes containing lactase before dinner commenced.

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Dairy-free menu options that were offered due to my lactose intolerance (from top left, clockwise): potato and leek soup with crispy potatoes and truffle oil, fruit sorbet with fresh berries, coffee with almond milk, young kale and arugula salad with currants, roasted almonds, and lemon vinaigrette (no parmesan).

 

3. Four your main course, opt for a lean protein with complex carbohydrates and lightly prepared vegetables. I chose the baked chicken breast instead of the prime rib, the roasted potatoes (with the skin on) instead of the potato gratin, and lightly sautéed seasonal vegetables.

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Instead of the roast prime rib entrée with yukon and sweet potato gratin, seasonal vegetables, and red wine jus, I chose the baked chicken breast entrée with skin-on roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and truffle jus.

 

4. Nine times out of ten, these weddings will have open bar service. I definitely enjoy this, but I enjoy in moderation. I use the open bar service at wedding receptions as an opportunity to try a variety of drinks without having to drink all of everything. For instance, I ordered four different drinks throughout the night, but I only drank about a quarter glass of each drink.

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I only drank about a quarter or less of each glass. So I got to taste everything I wanted without going overboard!

 

5. After dinner and dancing at wedding receptions, there is almost always a late-night snack table. If you are hungry then, choose the lighter and healthier menu options. It should not be too hard to resist the indulgent foods, if you had a well-balanced, healthy dinner earlier. At this wedding reception in particular, the late-night snack table had an assortment of fresh cookies, sliders, a make-your-own-poutine station, and a variety of fresh fruit. Figuring out which one of these four options was the healthiest was not rocket science.

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I passed on the sliders, the make-your-own-poutine station, and cookies. Instead, I went straight for the fresh fruit at the late-night snack table! Tip: fresh pineapple contains the protease enzyme, bromelain, which helps you to digest protein!

 

If you get invited to a lot of weddings like Raj and his family, I hope these tips help you enjoy and get through wedding season healthfully!

XOXO,

Addy

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What a blast at our first wedding of 2015!

 

My Live Blood Cells Are Beautiful!

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Let me preface this post by saying that both Raj and I do not believe in Live Blood Analysis (LBA). We believe that this test, which is done by some alternative/holistic health practitioners, is pseudoscientific. LBA ‎is not accepted by the medical community since there is no scientific evidence to support the validity of its results. Having said all that, I was offered a free LBA by a Live Blood Cell Microscopist a few days ago at work. Although I do not believe in the scientific legitimacy of LBA, it was free (normally costs just over $100 here in Toronto), non-invasive, and harmless. So I thought, “Hey, why not give it a try for fun?” and so I did.

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Firstly, I had to abstain from eating for at least three hours before the test. Then, the middle finger of my right hand was pricked with a sterile, single-use lancet. A small drop of blood was gently squeezed out, placed on a slide, and sealed with a cover slip. For those wondering, it was not painful at all. I have seen this Live Blood Cell Microscopist prick children without any fuss or issues many times before.

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My live blood sample was then placed under high-resolution dark field microscopy for observation and analysis. The Live Blood Cell Microscopist showed me a chart comparing an ideal blood sample with abnormal ones. She explained the possible ailments that are associated with each abnormality. I have seen her perform LBA on many others before and the results have always been far from ideal. Her clients, even the more health-conscious ones, always end up with an extensive protocol to follow. I was expecting similar results.

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Much to my surprise, most of my blood cells looked like what healthy and ideal ones are supposed to look like in LBA. The Live Blood Cell Microscopist said that my blood sample was the best she has seen in a long time! If there was ever a moment I wanted to believe in LBA, it was then.

LBA Results

We had to search actively for abnormalities in my blood sample to analyze since there were not many. The Live Blood Cell Microscopist managed to find a few crystals (pictured above), hypochromic cells, macrocytes, misshaped cells, and hypersegmented cells. In the end, her only recommendations for me were to take digestive enzymes with every meal and to increase my intake of vitamin B12 and iron. She also mentioned that although a bowel cleanse is not mandatory for me, it would be good thing to do. I must admit that since I trust a medical blood test more than a LBA, I took her recommendations with a grain of salt. It was a fun experience though! Now I can say that I have at least tried it.

XOXO,

Addy

P.S. Check out my latest beauty post on Connected & Co. HERE. 🙂

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