A 5'3 Perspective


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Birthday Outfit

Birthday Outfit
Last night a few of my closest friends and I went for dinner at Zen Kitchen in Ottawa to celebrate my birthday. The food and drinks were amazing and the conversation was equally so – as usual. If you are looking to try something a little different I would highly recommend dining at Zen Kitchen. The restaurant offers a fully vegan menu and a 4 course tasting menu with an optional wine pairing, both of which N and I did. We will definitely be going back again soon – maybe we will see some of you there?
In other birthday news, my friends and N spoiled me with the best birthday gifts. I received a wonderful print of a photograph I’ve admired for years (from N), a beautiful new pair of bow/heart earrings, a tribal gold necklace, a bottle of pinot noir, and balloons! I feel so fortunate – thanks again to all of you!
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Birthday Black Bean Brownies

Today is my birthday and I am so lucky to have two of my best friends join me from Toronto to celebrate. The least I could do to thank them for flying in to see me was to bake them a little treat! These black bean brownies were such a hit that I thought it would be a great idea to share with you!

Birthday Black Bean Brownies

Inspired by: Mmm… is for Mommy!

Don’t be fooled by the name – these brownies are really delicious. A girlfriend of mine who refuses to mix healthy with dessert went back for seconds.

What you will need:

1 19oz (540ml) can black beans, well rinsed and drained – make sure you rinse them really well… trust me.
3 large eggs
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp instant espresso

Ingredients

 

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Add all ingredients into the Cuisinart/blender. Easy right. Looks a little something like this.

Ingredients in the food processor ready to be mixed.

Step two: Pour into a lightly greased dish. I grease with coconut oil but feel free to use any oil or butter. I find these brownies bake best when using an 8 x 8 glass dish.

Delicious batter ready to put in the oven

Step 3: Bake for 30 – 32 minutes.

After 30 minutes in the oven.

Now comes the hard part. Because these brownies are so moist, you have to wait at least an hour before cutting into them or else they will crumble. If you put them in the fridge it will speed up the process a bit – just trust me on this one, wait it out – you will be much happier with the results.

After the longest hour of your life, serve and enjoy!

Finished product - delicious black bean brownies

I usually cut them into 12 squares. Don’t judge but here is what was left after the four of us got to them.

Almost all gone... I guess this means I need to bake some more!

Try them for yourself – I dare you. You’ll never want your beans prepared any other way! Leave me a comment to let me know how yours turned out!


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Nail Envy Product Review [and new shoes]

After last week’s wild manicure I felt like my nails needed a little break.

Last Week: Essie Chinchilly, Essie Turquoise & Caicos, and Essie Eternal Optimist

 

This Week: OPI Nail Envy - Original

I am someone who changes my nail polish at least twice and week, sometimes more – and this is starting to take a toll on the strength of my nails. They have become brittle, dry, and not very crack resistant. I had heard great reviews about nail strengtheners but I had always been a little skeptical or whether of not they would really repair my nails.

I personally use OPI Nail Envy – Original Nail Strengthener. Although the above picture does not do this product justice, you can see how long my nails look. Before using Nail Envy my nails were short and always breaking or peeling.

Now, I must warn – this product does NOT actually strengthen your nail [shocking…]. What it does do is provide a layer of protection on top of the nail. It feels almost as though you have fake nails on. I rarely break a nail while wearing Nail Envy – I have to really hit something hard with my finger to do that. I have noticed that if I am not using it, my nails almost seem weaker than before – thus I am now addicted.

I typically use 2 coats under any colour and one coat on top. It helps keep my manicures chip free and looking shiny.

I would highly recommend this product for anyone who has weak nails. If your nails are already fairly strong I would suggest staying away from it because I really do believe it makes you nails less resistant when they are polish-less. If you are looking for something to repair your nails, this is not the product for you. For me, it is a must because there is not a day that goes by in which you would find me with bare nails and I can really use the extra layer of strength.

On a completely different note, my birthday is tomorrow so I decided to buy myself a little something. I am obsessively tracking my package hoping that it ships before the weekend. Soon I will be rocking my new leopard print smoking loafers. I can’t wait! This is the first purchase off my spring wish list.

Animal Print Tuxedo Flats from Express

Summer Gym Blues

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Summer has definitely come early this year in my hometown, it is only march and we have had a steady few days of 25 degree weather – shorts and tank tops are out in full force! With abnormal high temperature so early in the year, are you ready to rock your beach body? I am finding it very hard to stick with my indoor gym schedule when it is so sunny and warm out. Anyone else in the same boat?

With a new weight training program (thanks to hours of research on bodybuilding.com) that requires a fair bit of equipment, I am looking for the motivation to stay inside and pump iron while everyone else is on the patio! Is there a compromise? On the plus side, the gym has been much less busy than usual over the past week – I think everyone else is experiencing the same dilemma.

So how do you manage your indoor and outdoor workouts? Here is how my week is shaping up [no pun intended]!

SUNDAY – 4 hour walk outside

MONDAY – 5km jog at lunch, back and core workout at the gym at night

TUESDAY – First bike ride to work of the season (6k each way), Les Mills Body Attack class – indoors

WEDNESDAY – 12k bike to and from work, 5k jog at lunch, [dreaded] indoor leg workout

THURSDAY – 12k bike to and from work, maybe indoor upper body workout

FRIDAY -12k bike to work, 5k jog at lunch, [upper body workout if Thursday ends up being too nice to be inside after work]

SATURDAY – Indoor Les Mills Body Combat class

I find my giving myself a bit of flexibility with my weight training and being able to biking to work every day I can spend a bit of time inside without dreading it too much. I must confess, I always look forward to my outdoor activities much more than my indoor ones [I am already getting a tan], but in the end both are incredibly satisfying once I push myself to do it.

I think I need to reevaluate my routine as we move into the summer months. Any recommendations for outdoor strength training? I’m thinking of starting the bodyrock.tv workouts. Anyone want to join?

So now it’s your turn, what do you do to stay motivated when the patios are calling your name?

 

 

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Product Review – Yves Saint Laurent: Shocking

It has been a while since I have blogged about new beauty products, mainly because I have been trying to save money [avoiding Sephora], but when a girl runs out of mascara – rules are broken.

Thanks to one of my best friends [who is even more obsessed with beauty products than I am], I found a great new mascara that is sure to get your lashes noticed. She recommended it to me and now I am happy to pass on my review to you!

Yves Saint LaurentMASCARA VOLUME EFFET FAUX CILS SHOCKING
Voluminous Mascara for a False Lash Effect

Image from sephora.com

At almost $40 a tube, I had high expectations for this mascara. I have to say – I love it, but there are a few things to consider before you buy.

I usually buy waterproof mascara. I workout right after work [sometimes at lunch] and I don’t have the time to take my mascara off and reapply – I know, tisk tisk – I need something with staying power. YSL Shocking does an alright job, however, I have noticed a bit of flaking but this only happens after a pretty intense workout. The other downfall is the consistency of the product. It tends to get a bit clumpy if you don’t wipe the brush off enough before applying. In this case, less is more – I suggest applying 2 or 3 thin layers for shocking the best results.

Now that I have gotten the negatives out of the way, you should know that this mascara gives your lashes serious length. I’ve been complimented more times than ever before since switching to Yves Saint Laurent Shocking. Here is a before and after picture with 2 coats on both the bottom and top [I didn’t even use an eyelash curler]. Sorry about the shadows and bad lighting.

Before

After

If you look at the left eye you can really see the difference this mascara makes. YSL Shocking comes in 4 different colours [plus an online exclusive ashy black] ranging from black, green, blue, and reddish. I personally use only black mascara but the coloured ones are subtle and might look nice if you are looking to shake up your makeup routine.

I highly recommend this product, however, if you aren’t willing to spend $40 on mascara, check out Benefit’s They’re Real! to save a bit and still get [almost] false looking lashes.

What’s For Dinner?

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As you may or may not know, I have become a bit of a foodie over the past few years [probably because of my boyfriend], so I thought I’d share one of my favourite, healthy dinners. You probably haven’t seen this dish often, but it is beyond delicious. I think I could eat some variation of this every night!

So here you have it [drum roll please]… Zucchini Pasta!

Yes that is correct, zucchini made into noodles! Now this dish does require some effort and an interesting gadget, but it only takes about half an hour from start to finish. First, you have to get yourself one of these nifty “spiral vegetable slicers”… You can find them online for about $40 bucks, [check out this site: http://www.rawnutrition.ca/html/spiral_slicer.html ] or do a Google search – if you have any patience, this is the best way to buy. I couldn’t wait to try it so I bought one at Ma Cuisine in Ottawa for $80, although it was double the price, I still think it is worth it.

Here is what I use:

Step one… Figure out how to use this tool. The English instructions were extremely brief so I just decided to wing it. With this tool, you will have to cut your zucchini in half, or maybe even into thirds depending on the side. Try to choose the straightest zucchini you can and make sure you wash them well because you will be eating the skin too. You can see what it looks like in the picture below, but I’ll try to explain. Basically, there are some pieces of plastic that protrude from the top of the handle and there is one metal spike just in front of the blade. You have to fit your zucchini pieces in there lengthwise. Once you’ve done that all you have to do is spin… and spin…. and spin… and spin…. oh and then spin again. This part kind of takes a while, but I promise it is worth it.

You’ll end up with something like this:

 

When I am cooking for two I usually use five zucchinis. Yes, five – once you heat the noodles and get rid of all the water, they shrink down to about half the amount. Plus, what is better than extra veggies? We could all use another helping of delicious greens!

Use a frying pan and cook them at medium – high on the stove top. I don’t add anything to the pan, I find the moisture in the zucchini is enough to make sure they don’t stick. The cooking process only takes about 15 minutes, it is really just to heat them and get rid of some of the water. During this time you can make your sauce!

I used fresh spicy tomato sauce from my favourite Ottawa grocer, La Bottega and added extra lean ground turkey, onion and bok choy. You can really use whatever you like though.

   Now all you have to do is drain the “noodles” in a strainer to get rid of any remaining moisture. I usually press down on them with something heavy, or just a spatula and some brute force… kidding… kind of.

Serve and enjoy!

It is hard to see the noodles under my excessive pile of sauce but they are delicious! If you are trying to incorporate more veggies into your meals, this is a great option. You really feel like you’re eat spaghetti.

You don’t have to use zucchini, try it out with other veggies! I am so happy I bought this crazy contraption – I highly recommend it!

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