Healthy Food that Tastes Good: Power Banana Breakfast Mush**

**I never said it looked good

I half saw this on an Instagram feed and half read it on a fitness blog. Either way, I can’t take credit.

egg

Ingredients

1 banana
2 eggs
1/2 cup no-fat cottage cheese
a dash of cinnamon

 

Instructions

Basically you chop up the banana and mix everything all up in a bowl and fry it until it’s a texture you’re comfortable eating. And it’s absolutely delicious, super high in protein, less than 400 calories, and will fuel you for a tough morning workout.

If you are more adverse to eating mushy things than I am, another way to eat this is just fry up the banana, eggs and cinnamon pancake style and top with the cottage cheese. Just as good, just as healthy.

eggs

 

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Happy Monday…I’m boring

My week was delightfully dull. I could tell you about it. About how I’m really hitting my stride at work, or how on Tuesday Katie and I went for a long walk and it was really nice, or how on Sunday I snuck a glass of red wine into the new X-Men movie and enjoyed it with my almond M&M’s. But you don’t care this, so I’ll keep the details to myself for now. I care, however. In fact, I care a great deal about all these mundane things that keep me content and my life easy. Sometimes I really love boring and this week was one of those times. And despite it’s lack of excitement, this week was wonderful and balanced and restful and exactly what I needed before diving head first into summer.

How was your week?

For your eyes: Busy is a thing that people talk/read/write about now, and I’ll admit, I’m one of those people. Here’s another one of those articles. I liked it, especially the part about not actually having more things to do than others, but spending more time thinking and planning and going over those things in one’s head prior to actually doing them and how that makes one feel more busy. I liked this because this is me.

For your ears: Jian Ghomeshi is a national treasure and he knows it. I loved this piece on the Q on oversimplifying Africa. Africa is not a country and Acacia trees are not a universal symbol. 

For your health: I went to see an osteopath this week for some ongoing hip pain I’ve been dealing with since I’ve gotten back to running on the regular. It was my first visit to an osteopath and I had heard good things, so I was excited to see how he could help with the constant discomfort. Unfortunately, he didn’t. He did do some active release on my psoas and hip, but nothing my chiropractor or my massage therapist couldn’t have done. And he kept blaming what is clearly an athletic injury on my digestion, which works fine. That didn’t sit right with me, so I don’t think I’ll be back. I’m curious, has anyone else used an osteopath before? What was your experience?

For the win: On Thursday I went to see Pink Mountaintops with Megs and Kurt. Some A+ homegrown rock and roll.

Frugal Paris

Recently I went to Paris. Obviously, it was great, but I knew it would be. What I didn’t expect was how affordable it was. Not cheap by any means, but not outrageous either. I think I spent about $700 in 5 nights and 6 days. That’s pretty good right? Here are some tips:

Frugal Tip: Travel  Ok, this is a stretch that I got lucky on and it won’t happen to everyone, but if you have the opportunity, tag your vacation onto a trip that you are already taking. You can save a lot of money that way. I didn’t have to pay any travel expenses for my trip to Paris–I was heading to Congo for work and had a layover there so I decided to make it a long one. While I got really lucky here, it’s not the first time I’ve done it. My vacation in Austin was tacked onto a work trip in San Antonio and I know people who are going to Cuba for 10 days, mostly because their family is already flying them East for a visit.

Frugal Tip(s): Accommodation
 1. Groupon. Kurt and I spent three nights in wonderful boutique hotels right in the heart of where we wanted to be thanks to Groupon. We paid 70-90 Euro a night for rooms that would have otherwise set us back 240-270 Euro.
2. Don’t be picky on your neighbourhood. We spent two nights in a Marriott in St. Denis, outside of the Paris core, but still only a block away from a major metro station. While we weren’t in the midst of all the excitement, it only took us about 30 minutes to get from our hotel door right to the heart of all the sights. Rooms there were about 100 Euro a night and were huge by Paris standards (aka a normal sized North American hotel room)
3. Airbnb. I did not Airbnb while I was in Paris, but a friend who was there at the same time did. She and her fiancée paid 70 Euro a night for a little apartment right in Le Marais (my favourite neighbourhood in Paris). And the bonus–it had a kitchen, so they also were able to save on preparing meals at home.

Frugal Tip(s): Feasting
1. Stay in a hotel that includes breakfast (our Groupon hotels did; the St. Denis Marriott did not). Sleep late (you’re on vacation after all). Head down 20 minutes before breakfast ends and eat way too much pastry and cheese. You should be nice and full until at least the late afternoon.
2. Whether you stay in a place with a kitchen or not, get to know your local grocer. Cheese and bread are dirt cheap and far more delicious in Paris. Also Paris calories don’t really count so….You can buy an afternoon snack that will keep you full for hours for 5 Euro at the grocery store. Pack it as a picnic and you’ve got the true Paris experience right there.

Frugal Tip(s): Sights
1. If you have to pay to go inside, don’t go inside. Or at least limit yourself to one or two. There are plenty of museums and galleries that will let you in for free and the main sights are just as perfect from outside.
2. Don’t pay full price for a tour. Seriously don’t. Those tour companies are giving those tours away, find a way to get it for free–your hotel may be able to offer it to you, flirt, coupons, etc.
3. If you’re interested in a Segway tour (and why wouldn’t you be?), these guys were the most affordable that we found: Mobil Boards

Frugal Tip(s): Nightlife
1. Drink wine. It’s cheaper that coca cola. Especially when you buy it at the grocery store and drink it in your hotel room.
2. Stay somewhere on a train line, in a neighbourhood that you feel safe walking around in at night so you can avoid taxi fares.
3. Wait until you’re in your 30’s to travel to Paris, the nightlife is way less alluring and your bed way more appealing once you’ve entered that decade. Trust me.

 

 

 

It’s time to #EndFistula

On Friday, May 23 we mark the second annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

Two million women live with obstetric fistula and 100,000 suffer the debilitating birth injury each year. But fistula is entirely preventable. This day to end obstetric fistula is the perfect moment for us to reflect on this preventable and treatable birth injury. We have made incredible progress towards ending obstetric fistula but there is more work to do.

Be part of the discussion – join our Twitter chat Friday 5/23 to raise awareness of the global commitment to end obstetric fistula. Follow #EndFistula on at 1pm ET!

We can’t end fistula in just one day, but our collective commitment to maternal health will inspire us daily to strive for a world where every mother gives birth safely.

The #EndFistula chat on Friday, May 23 at 1pm ET will let us spotlight the problem of obstetric fistula, share stories and solutions, and reflect on what we can do to realize a world without fistula.

Every voice matters – will you join us?

Pink Mountaintops

My most listened to album of 2009 was easily Outside Love by Pink Mountaintops. I listened to it non-stop, start to finish, over and over again. It both confirmed my sadness and filled me with comfort at the same time. Like, even though I was miserable, when I listened to this album I knew that someone out there, like, totally understood me. There’s just something so satisfying in having your sorrow legitimized, I mean, c’mon:

And if I could find your heart
I would pull it from your chest
And smash you with my fist
Til it was beating

I’ve changed a lot since 2009, thankfully. Let’s hope the Pink Mountaintops are still as beautifully haunting as they were five years ago. I feel sure they will be.

The Pink Mountaintops play tonight in Victoria at Upstairs Cabaret.

Happy Monday…

Last Monday I had an appointment after work that didn’t get me home until 7 PM. I made dinner and did a few household chores, as you do. By the time I sat down to relax it was after 9 PM and it occurred to me that my next opportunity for downtime was Saturday, a whole 5 days away. I went into a panic. Not the tight chest, shallow breathing, visceral kind of panic, but the kind of panic that meant I was too anxious for a good night’s sleep. You would think, from the way I was acting, that I was looking down the barrel of a week filled with over time at a job I hated, dentist appointments and difficult conversations. But no. No, no. My plans consisted of meeting (and holding) a brand new baby, a date night with Kurt, furniture shopping, dinner with Kurt’s family, a new menu launch party at a fun lounge, lawn games and BBQs, and a beer with some old friends. That’s it.

I was literally getting anxious from too much awesome.

Yes, I realise this makes me a total jerk. But I also realise that for me, too much of anything doesn’t sit well, no matter how awesome it all is. As summer seems to be here on Vancouver Island, so do the extra-full evenings and weekends. While I’m totally excited for all of it, I’m also heading into this new season with a better understanding of how important balancing out the awesome is to me and my health.

For your eyes: If you’ve ever thought that Pinterst is kind of weird, then you will love this.

For your ears: This is my gift to you: I recently put together a playlist of 8 of the most talked about albums of the last little while. Just put this playlist (featuring Beck, Black Keys, Timber Timbre, War on Drugs, White Denim, Shakey Graves, Mac DeMarco and Lykke Li) on shuffle and you’ve got a great afternoon of music.

For your health: My runs of late have been pretty hit or miss, meaning sometimes they feel easy and sometimes they feel really, really hard. At times I feel like the only thing getting me through one of those hard runs is the mantra It’s only an hour. You can do anything for an hour. I repeat that over and over and it keeps me from throwing in the towel. I’m bringing this up here because I’m curious…if you’re a runner, how do you keep going when the going gets tough?

For the win: After a full week I took Saturday entirely to myself–I shopped and did errands, I watched movies and read–all day and all alone. It was wonderful.

9 Things I’ve Learned in 9 Years in Victoria

Recently I had my 9 year anniversary here in Victoria, BC. It feels like yesterday when I more or less tossed a coin between calling Vancouver or Victoria home. Victoria won, obviously. Over the last 9 years I’ve had 7 apartments, 6 jobs, 2 serious boyfriends (and quite a few non-serious ones). I’ve found my favourite places to eat, to walk, to run and to hike. I’ve gotten hobbies and figured out my passions. I’ve learned a lot about who I want to surround myself with and who I want to be. And I’ve learned the following 9 things too.

1. If you can handle the lifestyle, you can really make the service industry work for you. Three out of my six jobs in Victoria were waitressing positions, including the three years I spent working at a microbrew pub downtown. I made a lot of money. I took as many vacation days as I wanted and paid for everything in cash. I slept until 10am every morning and spent my days at the lake or riding my bike. I met the best people in the world and they became my closest friends. I also drank too much and stayed up too late. My dinner was regularly french fries wrapped in bread and dipped in salad dressing. I put up with all sorts of attitude from rude and entitled customers. And my job didn’t fulfil me in any way. Ultimately the lifestyle just wasn’t for me. My hat goes off to those who can make the service industry lifestyle work though, you’re stronger than I am and probably richer and having a bit more fun.

swans

 

2. Nepotism rules. Whether it’s in the service industry or private sector, it seems like the only way to get hired somewhere great is to know someone. Fortunately everyone knows everyone here, so that isn’t too hard. I’m convinced I landed my dream job because I knew people who knew my National Director. Pro tip: be kind, bite your tongue, don’t burn bridges. Your career could depend on it.

3. Chick-toria is a state of mind. There are all sorts of statistics on how many more women live here than men, but I really think that’s just because women live so much longer. When it comes to the 20-40 demographic, I don’t buy it. When I was 24 and super attracted to writers/musicians/photographers who lived on boats/living rooms/pseudo-slums there was no shortage of men for me to date, I had a new love interest every two weeks. It’s when I started to want someone who would be there at 7 when he told me who would be there at 7, someone who had a drivers licence, someone who didn’t fall into a moody hibernation the last 10 days of every month because he was worried about making rent, that’s when things got a bit more challenging. It all depends on what you’re after.

mount doug

 

4. Brunch, Take Out, Sushi and Fancy is what you eat. Ask anyone in town for a recommendation for a great brunch place, some quick and easy take out, delicious sushi or a fancy place to celebrate and you’ll receive no shortage of recommendations. There are so many great places! But where does one go for a healthy, delicious meal in the $10-$15 price range? Ferris’ and Breakwater Bistro are my two places, but where else? If you ask me, Victoria seriously lacks in the fun and healthy and mid-range price restaurant niche. Or maybe I’m just out of the loop. If you know a great place like this, I’d love to hear about it!

5. You can’t let the rain get you down. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and if it’s your thing, well, Victoria is going to be hard unless you can find an effective way to cope. It’s gray here a lot. It rains here a lot. It’s the Pacific Northwest. You can’t let the gray get you down. I’ve found it works best to just ignore it–run, walk,  and hike through the gloom as if it wasn’t there. Other people have their own coping mechanisms–indoor hobbies, sunny vacations, vitamins, whatever works. And let’s be honest, the weather has been pretty great so far this year (knock on wood!).

rowing

6. Life if better when you fall in love with an outdoor activity. For many it’s surfing, but for me it’s hiking and trail running. I went on my first hike–Mount Doug–when I was 24. It almost killed me. By 27 I had hiked the Juan de Fuca and Strathcona Park and Mount Doug was something I ran before work and hardly broke a sweat. I found one of my loves living here in Victoria and the number of amazing hiking trails within a 40 minutes drive have made it almost impossible to leave. For me life got instantly better here when I started taking advantage of the beauty the land.

7. Vancouver is not that close. Unless you’re rich, which I’m not. My extended family lives in North Vancouver and every holiday they invite me “over for dinner”. It literally takes 5.5 hours to get from my house in downtown Victoria to my Grandma’s in Lynn Valley. It’s really hard just to “come over for dinner”. All those visions of me hopping on a quick ferry over to Vancouver were squashed pretty quickly, as soon as I learned the reality of ferry waits, traffic and public transit.

harbou

8. Life here is hard. Everybody knows your business. Dating can be a challenge. It can be hard to find a job and when you do the salary will never be as high as what you’d make on the mainland. I’ve lost a lot of great friends to the mainland because they wanted to pursue their careers, meet someone or just be anonymous and they felt that like that was really hard here in Victoria and they were all kind of right.

9. But it’s also really easy. Remember when the number one problem here was too many adorable bunnies? Plus ocean. Old Growth forests. Mountains. Flowers in February. And a somewhat vibrant downtown. Life is good.

east sooke