Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's in a name?

My Aunt Flo is visiting

I'm riding the Tomato Boat

It's THAT time of month

We all have a name know what! (For any male readers out there, I apologize. Feel free to take a walk, call up an old buddy, or play with power drills). In junior high it was a source of embarassment. Now, it's a fact of life. In the grand scheme of things, it can be seen as something beautiful (women have the ability to support a growing baby!), but there are some days when I think post-menopause sounds like a sweet deal!

I could go on for paragraphs on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis and the changes of LH, FSH, estrogen & progesterone during the follicular & luteal phase. I could do that...except that it is summer...and I'm not quite ready to go back to school yet :P. But I will leave you with this beautiful picture.

I think it speaks for itself...

Instead, I'm going to write about what was on my mind today: SUGAR CRAVINGS. I get them bad to the point where it would almost be more efficient to hook up an IV and have a constant drip of sugar. But unfortunately, I haven't attended an IV skills night yet and therefore had to use a bit of creativity in the kitchen. Recently I saw a recipe for vanilla avocado banana ice cream at and knew that this was the day to try it out. I stuck all 5 ingredients in the blender, poured it in a bowl and left it in the freezer for a couple hours. The result? Sugar satisfaction. This "ice cream" has the same smooth, creamy texture as your plain-old ice cream...but the delicate flavour made it even better! This recipe will not disappoint and I hope you try it!

To make this, you will need:
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I substituted with fruit sugar and ended up using a little less than called for. I still found it to be plenty sweet and would consider using even less sugar next time I make it. It all depends on how strong your sweet tooth is!)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim, but any kind will work)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients on HIGH until smooth. Pour mixture into a bowl and freeze for a couple hours. Serve and enjoy!

This picture does not do it justice. I promise my photography skills will improve someday!

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday!

Growing up, did you and your friends have a code name for "that time of month"? Do you have any strange cravings (according to my parents, some women crave pickles & ice cream when pregnant)?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Motivated by fear

Yesterday after work, I went for a run.

"So what? Many people go for runs all the time. No big deal!" you may be thinking.

This run was different because it was motivated by a scary four-letter word...


I don't want this post to come across as judgemental and I want it to be sensitive so I'm leaving it as broad as possible. To say it in a nutshell, these last few weeks I have seen a lot of individuals who don't take care of their health. It's hard to pinpoint it on one thing. For some it's genetics, for others it's environment. For some it comes from their upbringing, and for others their greatest enemy is themselves.

So after coming home, I headed to one of the trails and went for a run even though I was tired from the day before and hungry (although I rarely run after dinner or I inevitably get reflux)...for fear of my health...because it was the only thing I could do that I had control over.

I admit, probably not the best motivation. I would love to say that I went for a run for an amazing surge of endorphins (the good-feeling hormones), because I'm training for a half-marathon, because I know that it will make me stronger, or that I ran to support a cause. But I didn't...and I have a feeling that this will be something that I will need to work through in the future.

God must have known that I needed some fuel to get me back home...he gave me lots of fresh raspberries on the side of the trail to munch on!

When it comes to healthy living, what motivates you? Is fear, in your opinion, a good or bad form of motivation?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thoughts on...obstetrics & gynecology

How has another week gone by so quickly? I can't believe next week will be my last in Bridgewater. It seems like only yesterday that I just arrived.

So...thoughts on OBS/GYN! This week was primarily focused on gynecology which brings shivers down many-a-woman's spine.


The picture speaks for itself...

However, during the course of this week I learned a lot! For instance, I:
  • became VERY comfortably doing Pap tests
  • realized that some women honestly have no preference of whether they have a male or female gynecologist
  • discovered that obs/gyn is a good balance between the art & science of medicine (one physician put it this way: internal medicine is mainly brains, surgery is mainly brawn, and obs/gyn has the best of both worlds!)
  • became more aware of my passion for women's health
Is obs/gyn for me? It's hard to say at this time! I love that there is a wide age-range for the patients you see. And although it is focused on women's health, the scope is SO broad...I don't think I'd get bored in this area or hit any dead ends! As far as lifestyle is concerned (i.e. being on call), only clerkship will reveal whether I've "got what it takes". So for the time being, it is still ruled in...along with a few dozen other specialties ;)

By the way, after yesterday's post I did end up going for a run! And as expected, I physically felt much better afterwards. I even met some deer along the way of my trail run.

Don't look too hard for the deer in this won't find them! :P

How have your experiences with obstetricians/gynecologists been? Does the gender of your physician matter to you?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chicka chicka ka-pow!

Phew! What a day at the hospital! It was off to the OR this morning and from a student perspective it was awesome. But as far as things going according to plan...well...let's just say a procedure that should have been relatively short ended up taking 3.5 hrs!! After the operation the whole team was in need of a caffeine-boost.

By the time I arrived home I was famished! I didn't even realize how hungry I was until I started eating. Lucky for me, my housemate was making falafel burgers and offered some to me! It was placed in a whole wheat wrap with some tabouleh and went directly to my stomach. Yummm! Unfortunately though, my hunger took precedence over food photography. I do apologize!

Afterwards I had chickpea blondies. Chickpea whaaaaaa? Chickpea blondies. I've read amazing reviews for them and had to try it for myself! Now, I'll be honest with you...they don't quite live up to the real thing. But if you're looking for a healthy treat, they can hit the spot (they did for me).

To make this treat you will need:
  • 1 15 oz can of chick peas
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or more, if you're a cinnamon fan!)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 banana, ripened
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Blend chick peas & egg whites in blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except ground flax seed and continue to blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in ground flax seed (or just stir it in the blender if you hate dirtying extra dishes like me). Grease an 8x8" dish and pour the batter in. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

These are best eaten when cool.

You wouldn't even know they had a secret ingredient! They look so innocent :P

Now it's off for a run! I actually don't feel like running today but know that my body will feel so much better afterwards. I'm counting on you to keep me accountable :)

Have you ever tried incorporating a secret ingredient when baking? How did it turn out?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unconditional tolerance

Dear housemates,

If you awoke at an ungodly hour this morning to the sound of a blender, I apologize. You see, I've fallen in love with smoothies again after picking up some kefir and xanthan gum over the weekend! The kefir gives me my daily probiotics and the xanthan gum makes the smoothie 0hhh-sooo-thick! Breakfast was a green heaven in a bowl.

About 20 minutes later you may have heard the whir of the blender again and probably wanted to shoot me by that time. I was in a bit of a pickle for lunch and all I could think about was the protein pancake recipe I saw yesterday. I made a few modifications and it was absolutely delightful.

Pancake Tower!!!

I wrapped a couple of these beauties up and stuck them in my lunchbag along with fresh fruit.

To make these pancakes you will need:
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 banana, ripened
  • 2/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.
  2. In a skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium temperature.
  3. Pour some batter in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. Note: batter is thick (which makes for thick pancakes!) so after pouring it into the skillet I spread it out a bit with a spoon. For a runnier batter, reduce rolled oats to 2/3-3/4 cup.
  4. If housemates are awake, offer them a few pancakes as a peace offering.

Have you been lucky enough to have good roommates/housemates in the past? Did any have interesting habits or quirks (like blending food at the crack of dawn. haha.)?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hey Hey! It's a PARADE!!

Question: What's one advantage of living with a Bridgewater resident?

Answer: I get to do what the locals do!!

Apparently this is the week of The Big EX (aka The South Shore Exhibition). I don't know too much about it except that the week includes:
  • oxen (show) judging
  • show horses
  • pull horsing
  • dairy clipping competition (what in the worrrrld??? someone please enlighten me :P)
  • barrel racing
  • local musical artists & entertainment
  • Christmas tree judging
Sounds like some good 'ol country fun to me ;)

Oh, and of course, what's a celebratory week without a parade?? Although I may not be able to make it to the other festivities I ventured with Lynsee and some of her friends to a crowded King Street.

There were a lot of floats. A lot. The parade was definitely over an hour long. No word of a lie. Some of my favourites were the following:

Tractors in parades = cool :)

I'm not quiiiiite ready for Christmas yet, but this was a good teaser!

This float was for the fisheries museum. There was a dancing fish. It was epic.

My heart skips a beat whenever I hear bagpipes (*correction: well-played bagpipes). I almost wanted to stand guard and put my hand over my heart. I'm such an emotional sook!

I love the old-school paddy wagons. And it was pulling mini four-wheelers behind!

Then there was this random guy pulling a tree branch! No idea if he does this every year but everyone was cheering him on. It's pretty cool when you're your own float :)

I've actually altered this photo in iphoto using the antique setting. It's an old grocery vehicle that was used back in the day by Sobeys.

And at the very end? Oxen! They did not disappoint! Parades are always better when live animals are involved :)

What do you love most about your hometown? Does it have any unique traditions or parades?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Foot fetish

Feet are weird...just sayin' :P

They're one of those body parts that people can strongly like or hate. They can look flawless screaming for help.

Through the years, my feet have been on quite the journey, ranging from well-groomed & tanned to rough & discoloured (probably due to running). Sorry for any traumatic visuals you're getting!

The worst was when I was in Benin. I wore flip flops for 3 months straight in dusty streets. There was one day when the bottoms of my feet were black. BLACK!! No word of a lie.

This picture doesn't do the situation justice.

Since coming back from Benin my feet have been neglected. Poor feet.

But today they were pampered, thanks to my housemake Lynsee :). She invited me for some foot TLC

She had a wide colour palette for me to choose from

And I even got to select my own print design!

Here she is applying the flowers

And the end result

Lynsee chose stripes & triangles

Don't our feet look cute?

It's like they're BFFs

So if you're in the Bridgewater area and need an excellent nail-painting job, look no further! Lynsee's the girl :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The cheesecake I baked last night wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn close! A crack-free top, a nutty, textured crust, smooth flavour. Why can't all cheesecakes be like this? :P

Note: any bumpiness you see is from the saran wrap covering it overnight in the fridge. When it first came out of the oven it was as smooth as glass!

The cheesecake came from two recipes on Absolutely The Best New York Cheesecake & Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake. Here's what I did:


  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup chopped vanilla wafer
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 40oz cream cheese (4.5 blocks)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Crust: Take a 9" springform pan and place a sheet of parchment paper at the bottom. Attach and lock the rim and cut off the excess parchment paper.
Place all ingredients except butter in blender or food processor and mix until nuts/vanilla wafers are finely-chopped (but not a powder). Mix with melted butter and press mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Place pan in freezer.

Filling: Start with ingredients at room temperature. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar at a medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream and eggs one at a time. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-blended. Make sure you scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl several times so that the batter is smooth.

Remove the springform pan from the freezer and pour the filling in the pan. Let it set for a minute and then gently lift and drop the pan a few times so that the air bubbles will come to the surface. Next, set the pan in a baking pan filled with enough water so that the water is 1-2" from the bottom of the springform pan.

Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 250F and bake for 2 hrs. Note: do NOT open the oven door at all!

When the cheesecake has finished baking, remove from the oven and the water bath and let set for 1 hr. Loosen the sides of the cheesecake with a knife or thin spatula. Refrigerate overnight. Unlock the remove the sides of the springform pan.

My only qualms with the recipe is that I should have baked it for longer. This may just be particular to my oven (gas), but an extra 15 minutes would have done no harm.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important step:
Serve yourself & your family/friends a slice and enjoy!

Or if you're like me and know you'll be gone for the week, have two ;)


It's so THICK

It's so SMOOTH

It's so NEW

This day has officially started off on a good leg :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Something's a brewin'

...or a bakin' I should say :)

I've been craving cheesecake (aka euphoricake) for weeks and since I'm home for the weekend with full baking supplies I figured it's prime time to turn the heat up in the kitchen ;)

"What is that pan full of water for?" you may ask. It's my attempt to get a cheesecake with no cracks at all. After doing a bit of reading on, I've realized there are several techniques to achieving a crack-free cheesecake.

  1. Starting with all ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Frequently scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl while mixing all the yumminess together (I think this is more to prevent clumps though).
  3. Letting the cheesecake batter sit in the springform pan a few minutes and then gently lifting & dropping it onto a towel. This releases air bubbles from the mixture.
  4. Baking at a high temperature for a short period of time and then a much lower temperature for a long period (i.e. 375F for 30 min, then 250F for 2hrs).
  5. Using a water bath for even cooking and preserving the moisture of the mixture (see picture above).
And finally, the step I find it hardest to comply with:

6. Not opening the oven door while the cheesecake is baking. Someone was even as extreme to say not turning on the oven light!! I'm sorry...I like looking at my food while it's baking. But if it means a perfect cheesecake then I guess I can eating some cheesecake batter :P

So, is it guaranteed that you will get a crack-free cheesecake by following these pointers to a T? Sadly no. I've had one success and one failure using these methods so it's a tie.

What I can say with certainty is that there will be a post tomorrow morning of whether this attempt was successful or not. Keep your fingers crossed! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thoughts on...general surgery

There have been moments in my life where something finally clicks. It's like an epiphany. An "aha!" moment. I haven't had one of these in a really long time, but this week I had a few.

Aha moment #1: I don't mind living in a rural community!
I just finished my 4th week in Bridgewater and honestly, I don't really miss the city at all! If anything I'm enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery.

I do miss my family & friends but the city is only an hour away (Please note: I realize Bridgewater isn't too rural. It is, however, considerably smaller than Halifax).

How could you NOT miss sisters like these? And no, I'm not saying that to suck up :P

Aha moment #2: kids grow up waaaay to fast!
This hit me when I went to the fridge in our garage to grab a block of cream cheese. I looked out the window and saw 'D' who's about 14 yrs old now and thought "OH MY GOODNESS HE'S BIG!!!" Seriously, when our neighbors moved in he was probably 5 yrs old. Now his voice has changed. It's weird. I feel our neighbors kids should never pass the age of 10.

Aha moment #3: I love medicine!
I're probably thinking, "duhhhh're a MED STUDENT after all!". And it's true. I've known I wanted to be a physician since I was in high school. But I've had so many moments this week where I've lost all track of time while shadowing, where I came home and read up on cases I had seen, and where I thought, "This is amaaaazing!". It's reminded me a lot of last spring. Everything is starting to make sense...and it feels good :)

Me & Dr. Eli from of the most amazing preceptors I've had

P.S. Please forgive me for the deceiving title. I've just realized I've gone off track and haven't written too much about gen surg :P.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough...

...I'm like forget you and forget him too!

Ever have one of those days where a song plays over and over and OVER in your head? That was me today with the Glee cover of Forget You (I <3 Gweneth Paltrow).

This song ended up working in my favour though because it has the perfect tempo for running! Yup! I sang it over and over and OVER during my 7km run. Surprisingly I'm not sick of it...yet :P. But sadly, I forgot my camera at home. It's sad because there was a deer on the trail! I wanted to walk up to it and hand-feed it...except it jumped away. I guess I'm not a deer whisperer yet.

For supper I decided to continue with the experimentation and had salmon ramekins. I gotta admit, I was nervous to try this because I had no idea how it would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised!! Included in this random salmon creation were tomato, mushrooms, green onion, and spinach. I filled the ramekins with some milk so that the salmon would cook evenly.

The dish turned out having an almost seafood chowder taste to it. It was smooth, creamy, but didn't have an overpowering fishy taste to it. The green onions complimented the salmon well. When I try this again I think I would premarinate the salmon because it was a little dry. Otherwise I really enjoyed this.

Baked salmon in ramekins

When cooking experimentation turns out well it's AWESOME :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Unlucky Number 37

Some people believe in lucky numbers but I never have. In China, the word "8" is very similar to the word "wealth" or "prosper". It's therefore seen as a lucky number (hence the Beijing olympic opening ceremony being on 8/8/2008...coincidence? I think not!).

Now if I was going to go for an unlucky number today it would be 37. Why? That is the number of bugbites I acquired from yesterday's berry picking excursion!! They're all currently being soothed by my housemate's calomine lotion.

It almost would have been easier to take a calomine bath :P

But today I pushed through the itchiness (or pruritis, if you want the medical term. haha.) and enjoyed another day of surgery - this time it was scopes, follow-up appointments and minor procedures in the OR. Can you keep a secret? It is very possible that I may have given stitches to someone today (*mentally screaming and jumping up & down from excitement*). But you didn't hear that from me ;).

After work I hung out with Cec. This time, instead of going to the beach we headed out for a walk...a 105 minute walk!! I am officially counting that as my exercise for the day (especially after running around the surgical unit all morning & afternoon). The time went by quickly though, especially with the beautiful scenery.

Ok, fine...there was some good 'ol backwoods rustic scenery as well!!

Before heading back home we stopped by Tastee Freeze and I got a soft serve twisted ice cream on a homemade waffle cone.

I know...I know...there goes the walk! But you know what? Life is too short to miss out on the occasional ice cream treat. I'm not going to let guilt get to me today! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the forest

It's amazing what you can find on a nature walk!


a makeshift jungle gym,

fresh berries...

...and lots of 'em!

Perfect to go with a brownie and yogurt for dessert.

Annnnnnnd, I also got one step closer to perfecting baked eggs in a ramekin! This time I put a sliced tomato on the bottom, added green onions, and topped with low fat cheddar cheese.

I could eat out of these all the time ;)

Hope you all had a nature-ful day :)