Monthly Archives: April 2014

Live Below the Line: Days 4 and 5

As Days 4 and 5 came and went, I think my body was starting to get used to the less calorie intake. I wasn’t back to my normal energy levels but I did feel less tired than I had in the previous days.

On Day 4,  my sister and I needed to go out of town so I had cooked the night before so that we could pack our lunch and not be hungry for a good chunk of the day. We made breakfast in the morning consisting of steel cut oats, banana, cinnamon and brown sugar. Throughout the day, I wasn’t feeling as hungry as the first couple of days – probably because I was doing something during the daytime and not having time to think about food. We ate stir-fry veggies with rice for lunch in a mall food court (only place we could find to sit) and it was so tempting to buy more food. The impact that food has on one’s mental capacity is quite incredible. We resisted and finished up the out of town business and headed home. After a long day, I was glad we didn’t have to cook (pea soup leftover from Day 3). 

On the final day of the challenge, we had to go get another cup of rice because there we didn’t have any carb/starch for dinner. We had the rest of the oats for breakfast and had to make omelettes for lunch. I didn’t feel as hungry or lose focus as much on Day 5, which I found frightening because I’m not sure if my body had already adjusted to the food level and I was functioning at a lower energy level than prior to the challenge. 

From participating in this challenge, I have definitely become more aware of how big a problem it is that we don’t talk about poverty and those living below the poverty enough. By this I mean, I am only living on $1.75 per day on food and drink but there people living on that amount for everything each day.

Along with this, I also learned that you can live on a limited budget by being more creative in the places you buy food as well meal planning. I can’t stress this enough! My sister and I sat and went through all the recipes in the resource manual to figure out which ones we wanted to make and how much of each ingredient we needed.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my journey through this challenge and will join me in donating to this cause by CLICKING HERE.

Thank you for your time.


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Live Below the Line: Day 3

Day three has been the worst day for hunger yet. I got up feeling really hungry that I drank a whole  glass water before getting out of bed. We got up and made eggs with onion and tomato.

I was very grateful that my sister and I were doing this challenge together because we also had to look after our mother, who was feeling really sick and needed to go back to the hospital. She had an appointment at the same time as my bf, so my sister went with with mom and I went with my bf. I cannot imagine how people would have to make the decision of taking time off work to care for a loved one or to go to work and make money and figure out other arrangements.

For lunch, we cooked the same noodle recipe from Day 1.  After that, we went to our appointments. Even though I was taking care of my bf, he could see that I was looking tired and not quite myself. I knew I had to keep on going so after taking him to his appointment, I did some errands and went home to cook dinner.

Dinner was a new meal – Yellow Split Pea & Vegetable soup (recipe below). It didn’t take that long to prep, just took time to cook. I was very grateful to have dinner and couldn’t wait for my sister to come home (my mom ended up having appendicitis and had her appendix removed that afternoon so my sister stayed with her).

Dinner recipe and pictures can be found below.

Half way there! Stay tuned for day 4 and 5 progress.

To learn more or donate, CLICK HERE

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Recipes (servings for 2 people)

Yellow Split Pea & Vegetable Soup

  • 1 potato (diced)
  • 1 carrot (diced)
  • 1/4 onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 3 leaves cabbage (sliced)
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 2 tsp soup mix
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, cabbage, and potato.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft.
  3. Stir in the water, split peas, and soup mix.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the peas are soft and the soup thickens, about 40 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little water.
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Live Below the Line: Day 2

Last night before going to bed, we found a recipe from Marin Mama Cooks blog that would allow us to “pre-cook” the steel cut oats. You put the oats in boiling for one minute and then you let it sit out overnight. Re-heat it in the morning and you’re good to go! The steel cut oats has a crunchy texture compared to regular milled oats but I like that extra crunch. We added sliced banana and half a teaspoon of brown sugar.

I set out to finish groceries and ended up at a local bulk food store and No Frills. The rest of the groceries were:

  • Milk (473ml carton = $1.59)
  • Cinnamon (0.03lb = $0.15)
  • Soup Mix (0.10lb = $0.20)
  • Teabags (4 = $0.30)
  • Zucchini (2 small = $1.12)
  • Banana (1 = $0.21)
  • Seasoning (brown sugar, salt, pepper, soy sauce and hot sauce = $0.40)

Total this trip: $3.97

Total spent: $14.82

Left: $2.68

We’re not sure what we’re going to do with the left over money – maybe a treat of some sort…

For lunch, cooked up rice and a veggie stir-fry – recipe below. It wasn’t hard but I was glad we were eating again. Throughout the morning my stomach was occasionally rumbling and to fight it off, I just started drinking more water.

I got a call from the bf saying that he was at a walk-in clinic because he hurt his neck. So I went to keep him company and make sure that he got home okay.  I ended up cooking dinner for him – he’s not doing the challenge but was in serious pain and couldn’t cook for himself, so I did.  I ate the leftover Shepherd’s Pie from the first night (recipe found here). By dinner time, my energy levels were really low and I was feeling very tired. I’m not sure how people living below the poverty line have the energy to work and take care of others because it was my second day and it was hard.

Recipes and pictures can be found below.

Stay tuned for Day 3 reflections tomorrow!

To learn more or donate, CLICK HERE

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Recipes (servings for 2 people)

Steel Cut Oats (modified recipe from Marin Mama Cooks)

  • 1/3 cup of Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 1/3 cups of Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Banana (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  1. Boil water and pour oats into pot.
  2. Let the water boil for one minute and take pot off heat.
  3. Let oats sit overnight at room temperature.
  4. In the morning, re-heat the oats on the stove and serve with banana and brown sugar.

– – – – –

Rice with veggie stir-fry

  • 1/2 cup Rice
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 Zucchini (diced)
  • 1/4 Onion (diced)
  • 3 leaves Cabbage (sliced)
  • 2 gloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Soup Mix
  • 1 tsp Oil
  1. Rinse rice and put into rice cooker along with the water. Turn on and let it cook.
  2. Cut up tomatoes, zucchini, onion, cabbage, and mince garlic.
  3. Add oil to pan and add  onion, zucchini, cabbage, and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and soup mix to the veggies.
  5. Divide rice into two bowls and add the veggie mix on top of it.


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Live Below the Line: Day 1

I woke up this morning feeling hungry (not sure if it was because I ate an early dinner last night or the fact that I knew I would be challenging myself to live on $8.75 worth of groceries for the next five days). Either way, I set off on making breakfast for myself and sister. Omelettes were on the menu – more like two eggs each and water. I just fried it up with a teaspoon of oil and a sprinkle of pepper.

After breakfast, we set out to finish grocery shopping; to get some milk, soup mix, spices and zucchini.  As we were shopping, I was highly aware of the limitations in that we were on a strict budget and couldn’t just buy what we wanted. We only had $6.65 leftover from grocery shopping the day before. Also, it’s a lesson of only buying what you need and not wasting food.

For lunch, we made noodles with veggies – recipe below. It was great to be cooking and spending time with my sister, since she doesn’t live at home for most of the year. It was fun and we bonded 🙂

During the afternoon, I did start to notice that my energy levels were getting low and I was feeling tired to the point where I took a nap.

By dinner time, we were so excited to be cooking and eating again.  We modified the Lentils Shepherd’s Pie to include carrots (which gave it a little bit of sweetness).  Having never actually made Shepherd’s Pie before but it turned out great.

Recipes and pictures can be found below.

Looking forward to Day 2!

To learn more or donate, CLICK HERE

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Recipes (servings for 2 people)


  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Water
  • Dash of Ground Black Pepper
  1. Mix eggs and water together.
  2. Add oil to pan and fry the eggs.

– – – – –

Noodles with veggies

  • 1/2 pkg Egg Noodles
  • 1/4 Carrot (grated)
  • 4 leaves Cabbage (sliced)
  • 2 gloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp Oil
  1. Boil hot water and rinse the egg noodles with it – drain and set aside.
  2. Cut up cabbage, grate carrot and mince garlic.
  3. Add oil to pan and add cabbage, carrot and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add noodles to veggies. Mix soy sauce with a little bit of water and add it to the noodles/veggies.
  5. Take mixture off heat and divide into two portions. Add hot sauce if desire. We did since the noodles were bland.

– – – – –

Lentils Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe makes 4 servings so we’re planning to have this for two dinners.

  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 Onion (diced)
  • 1/2 Carrot (diced)
  • 1 cup Green Lentils
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 4 Potatoes (diced)
  • 1/3 cup hot Milk
  • A dash of Chili Powder, Basil and Garlic Powder
  1. Rinse, cook and drain lentils (instructions on how to cook lentils).
  2. Peel, cut and cook potatoes and carrot.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Add oil to frying pan.
  4. Add onion and cook for 7–8 minutes, until soft and golden. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, carrots, lentils and seasoning. Spoon mixture into an ovenproof dish.
  6. In a bowl, mash the potatoes and add the hot milk and garlic powder. Mash until soft and fluffy.
  7. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the lentil mixture and bake for 25–30 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned.
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Live Below the Line: Meal Planning

If you missed my first post, I am participating in the Live Below the Line (LBL) campaign. It is an innovative campaign which challenges thousands of individuals across the world to live on $1.75 a day for 5 days, to deepen their understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds the Israel Tennis Centers Foundation.

My sister has also joined me in the campaign and because neither of us will actually be under the same roof during the dates the rest of the country will be doing the challenge, we decided on do it over the next five days.

To learn more and to donate,  CLICK HERE.

Meal Planning

We went through the meal planning guide from the LBL resources page and chose a couple of different recipes that had somewhat repeating ingredients. We decided that we would take the challenge head on and be creative with our meals rather than just buying lots of carbs (rice, pasta, etc.).

Meals for the week will include: oatmeal, omlettes, lentil shepherd’s pie, noodles, yellow split pea soup and rice with veggies. Since it was Easter Sunday, we thought of going to Chinatown and to our dismay, most of the stores were closed. We ended up in Kensington Market where we sourced out bulk food and veggie and fruit stores. Our shopping list included:

  • Steel cut oats (2 cups = $0.45)
  • Green lentils (1 cup = $0.85)
  • Yellow split peas (1 cup = $0.40)
  • Parboiled rice (1.25 cup = $0.45)
  • Egg noodles (1 bag = $1.50)
  • Onions (2 medium = $0.50)
  • Carrots (2 large = $0.60)
  • Cabbage (1 head = $1.80)
  • Banana (1 = $0.30)
  • Potatoes (7 small = $1.00)
  • Tomatoes (8 small = $1.00)
  • Eggs (1 dozen = $1.75)
  • Garlic (12 cloves = $0.25)

TOTAL: $10.85*

Stay tuned for our cooking adventures and reflections throughout this challenge.

Blog - LBL Groceries

*We are still missing some ingredients (milk, cinnamon, soup mix, zucchini, and spices). Trying to find grocery stores open on Easter Sunday was a challenge in itself. We will finish groceries at the Bulk Barn and No Frills tomorrow.


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Live Below the Line Campaign


If you had only $1.75 to spend today, how would you spend it?

Live Below the Line is an innovative campaign which challenges thousands of individuals across the world to live on $1.75 a day for 5 days, to deepen their understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives.

I’m very excited to be a part of this global initiative because it challenges us to live below the poverty line like so many in the world and to raise our voices for the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty every day.  Also, it gives me the opportunity to try out new and creative cooking ways.

Working with the Israel Tennis Centers Foundation (ITC) and having the opportunity to travel to Israel gave me the experience to see how poverty impacts the lives of everyone, especially children. Funds raised will support commencing and expanding existing children at risk programs across most of the ITC facilities located throughout Israel’s periphery and disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

I hope you will join me in this challenge or donate in any amount small or big, because for us, $1.75 is just food and drink, but in the developing world it must pay for everything – food, water, healthcare, education, clothing – everything.

Keep an eye out for my posts on this worthy cause. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to making some of these dishes!

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Diet Cleansing Week

A couple months ago, I promised my brother that I would go on a cleanse with him and that happened this past week. It sounded simple at the time – only eat fruits and vegetables with a couple of supplements for a week. Easy, right? Wrong.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds because I didn’t realize how eliminating things like sugars, oils, fats, meat, caffeine, alcohol, etc. from my body would change how I react to the foods I consume. For example, having too much fibre and not drinking enough water is a terrible combination. I felt bloated and gassy a lot of the times and it was often mistaken for stomach or hunger pains.

I  noticed that my energy levels on the the first two days were extremely low but as the week went by, I woke up more refreshed and no longer waiting for my snooze alarm to go off. I remember not talking a lot to my co-workers on those first two days because I was so grumpy that I didn’t want to offend anyone if they spoke to me. The caffeine withdrawal hit me a lot harder than I thought it would but over time, I became more agreeable.

For the cooking part of it all, my brother and I prepped all the smoothies and lunch salads ahead of time. Dinners were cooked the night of. My meals for the week was pretty much as follows:

  • Breakfast: warm water with lemon, smoothie (kale, spinach, ginger, apple, strawberries, mango, blueberries, pineapple)
  • Morning snack: celery sticks, fruit or edamame
  • Lunch: salad in a jar (arugula, radish, carrot, celery, onion, green peppers, mushrooms, edamame), baked salmon with an balsamic vinaigrette, fruit
  • Afternoon snack: celery sticks or fruit
  • Dinner: sauteed vegetables with baked salmon or half a stick of Chinese Sausage (it’s my favourite sausage in the world) or soup. Last night I made sauteed tofu with tomato – so delicious!

Note: I couldn’t live without the protein because I was also going to the gym, so I limited myself to how much I would eat.

What I’ve learned about myself. I don’t enjoy not being able to eat meat because I love it so much. However, I should be more picky about the quality of meat I consume.If I’m craving a burger, I shouldn’t go to McDonald’s and get a Big Mac combo (though it is a major weakness of mine). I should either make it myself so I can control what goes into the meat or go to a gourmet burger place that is known to have more quality meat in their burgers – this doesn’t necessarily mean the most popular burger joint.  Also, I learned that if you put your mind to something, you can overcome most things. There were a lot of goodies at the office that I had to just walk past them and not eat it. One day my co-worker brought a butter tart – it was homemade from the coffee shop down the road. It was so tempting to walk over and buy one but I didn’t. Curbing cravings is hard, not definitely not impossible.

Would I do this again? Probably not to this extent. I would include some dairy and meat into the diet as well but keep the carbs to a minimum. I’ve been trying to live the 80/20 rule – eat clean and green for 80% of the time and then go crazy for the other 20% (meaning eating clean for 6 days, enjoy on the 1 day).

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