Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal Ashley Mikulik
Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal Ashley Mikulik
Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal Ashley Mikulik

17 Day Diet (Cycle 3): Turkey & Havarti Panini

February 12th, 2012

In Cycle 3 you can eat breads again. If you’ve been craving a sandwich for the past 34 days, this Turkey and Havarti Panini is just the ticket. It’s gooey, filling, and makes a fantastic lunch!

1 slice whole grain bread
1 slice low fat Havarti cheese
2 slices of lean turkey slices
Light Margarine

  1. Lightly spread margarine on 1 side of the bread, then turn over (butter-side down)
  2. Place 2 slices of the turkey and 1 slice of cheese on half the bread.
  3. Sprinkle basil and oregano over the cheese.
  4. Fold bread in half and put in panini press


Bread can be about 120 calories per slice, you can find light havarti for 90 cal per slice, and oven roasted turkey for about 60 calories. A sandwich using 1 slice of bread is about 275-300 calories.

Substitution Suggestions:

  • Try different low cal cheeses (like mozzarella or Parmesan)
  • Experiment with different spices
  • Add crab or lobster chunks in the sandwich (it’ll add calories, but it’ll make it more “gourmet”
  • If you don’t have a panini press, place the sandwich open-faced in the over to toast it

17 Day Diet (Any cycle): Chicken Parmesan

February 5th, 2012

You can eat Chicken on any of the four 17 Day Diet cycles. Here is a great one that we love and it super easy to make (plus it’s great for leftovers too)!

Chicken breasts (1 per person)
Low fat or light grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Sprinkle a generous layer of Parmesan cheese on a plate
  2. Place chicken on the Parmesan to coat all sides
  3. Place chicken in a lightly greased Pyrex dish
  4. Bake at 375-400 F  for about 15-20 minutes (or until cooked through)
  5. Serve warm!!


About 125-175 calories per breast (depending on the size of the breast and what Parmesan cheese you use).

Substitution Suggestions:

  • Add spices to the Parmesan cheese mixture (I like garlic and “earthy” spices like oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme)
  • After the chicken is cooked, add a few tablespoons of low cal tomato sauce on top of each one and cook for another 5 minutes. (This gives the chicken a whole new dimension of taste)
  • In cycle 2/3 when you can have low fat cheese, slice the chicken in half and put a thin slide of cheese between the layers.

Note: Many other recipes say to dip the chicken in an egg or egg white mixture before putting it in the cheese. If you have dry chicken breasts you might want to add that. I always use juicy ones so I don’t need the extra calories from the egg mixture.

17 Day Diet (Any cycle): Faux Apple Pie

January 30th, 2012

This tastes just like apple pie without the calories from the crust. This is an easy dessert to make anytime (but keep in mind on the 17 Day Diet you can only eat fruits before 2pm, so this is a great after-lunch dessert).

½ – 1 Apple
1 Zero Calorie sugar packets

  1. Slice apple into small bite-size chunks and place in microwave or oven safe dish (1/2 a large apple per serving is usually plenty)
  2. Sprinkle cinnamon and 1 sugar packet over apples and stir until mixed.
  3. Place in oven or microwave and heat until just soft
  4. Serve while warm!


Apple (varies depending on type of apple, around 50-75 calories for ½ an apple)

Substitution Suggestions:

  • Try baking apples or red delicious apples
  • Get local apples in season for the richest taste!

17 Day Diet (Any cycle): Lemon Meringue Pie

January 29th, 2012

Yes! I said Lemon Meringue Pie. After a week on the diet we were craving a dessert and found this one on a 17 Day Diet Forum. It’s simple, quick and really low in calories! This is my absolute favourite dessert recipe to date!

½ – 1 cup Greek, Plain, or Vanilla yogourt
2 Zero Calorie sugar packets
Fresh Lemon
2-3 Egg Whites

  1. Put yogourt in an oven save bowl.
  2. Add 1 packet of sugar and a few squeezes of lemon juice. Mix. Put in fridge or freezer while preparing the meringue (so it doesn’t get too watery)
  3. Add 2-3 egg whites, 1 packet of sugar, and splash of vanilla to a bowl.
  4. Whip until meringue.
  5. Add meringue to top of yogourt mixture.
  6. Put bowls in over under broiler until just browned (a Crème Brule torch works too).
  7. Serve right away

Egg whites (about 35 cal per egg)
Yogourt (varies between 80-150 cal per cup depending on yogourt)

Substitution Suggestions:

  • Instead of Greek yogourt, try a flavoured one
  • Instead of lemon, try another natural or bottled flavouring like coconut or strawberry
  • For fun, add a few drops of food colouring or flavouring to the egg whites (it’s just fun!)

The 17 Day Diet: Weight loss that’s working!

January 29th, 2012

It’s been a while! Since my last post I’ve been focusing on my career, moved into a new house, got a puppy, and even got engaged! The one area I haven’t focused much on is my health…so that’s what’s brought me back to blogging.

My fiance and I started the 17 Day Diet to lose weight and get in shape before our wedding. It’s been amazing and it’s been working wonderfully!

The premise of the 17 Day Diet is learning the basics like portion control, healthy eating habits, and also tricking your body. Often when you eat the same types of foods your body adjusts to how it uses the energy it these foods. By changing up your eating habits every 17 days you keep your body on its’ toes so it doesn’t have time to adjust.

The diet has four 17 day cycles:

  • Cycle 1 focuses on riding your body of excess sugar, water, and fat. It’s where you are expected to see the most rapid weight loss: The book says to expect 10-15 pounds within 17 days. This cycle focuses on high lean proteins, unlimited vegetables, a few other food rules, and 17 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Cycle 2 alternates between cycle 1 days and cycle 2 days where more lean proteins and natural starches are added to increase caloric intake slightly, to start fooling your body into burning more fat.
  • Cycle 3 adds more healthy foods, allows moderate alcohol intake and encourages you to increase your exercise.
  • Cycle 4 is a maintain cycle where you add more foods to your diet and are allowed 2 “cheat days” a week so you can enjoy your favourite foods.

I’m currently almost done cycle 2 and I lost about 8 pounds in cycle 1, and another 4 pounds so far in cycle 2. The foods and recipes we’ve made have been making have been amazing and I’m going to share some of my favourites on my blog.

Tim Hortons Camp Day: June 2, 2010

June 2nd, 2010

Tim Hortons Camp Day is my 2nd favourite day of the year (next to Christmas, of course). It means for every coffee you buy, you’re donating to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. Every penny from Tim Hortons coffee today will be donated to help less fortunate kids go to camp.

These camps increase children’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and teach them leadership skills. This year the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation will send over 14,000 deserving kids to camp, but hope to send many more with your support.

According to the Tim Hortons Website, $9.4 million CDN was raised on Camp Day in 2009. Let’s help make it $10 million or more today! If you can’t make it in-person, or want to donate a little extra, you can donate through

Before heading to Tim’s today, learn more about Tim Hortons Camp Dayand the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. I’ll be heading through the Timmy’s Drive-Through this afternoon. Will you?

Groupon Vancouver: 2 Thumbs Up!

May 31st, 2010

Groupon Groupie Badge

I have a new love: Groupon!

Each day, Groupon Vancouver offers a new “cool thing to do” at a discounted price, often saving you about 50%. You purchase the “groupon” from their site and take it to the vendor for the discount.

Last week I bought a groupon for Epic, the Vancouver Sustainable Living Expo. Tickets were normally $15, but we got tickets for $5 each!

The process was so simple:

  1. Sign-up for their daily email notifications.
  2. When you see an email that tickles your fancy, click to purchase it.
  3. You can then print the groupon or access it through their free iphone app and show it to the vendor.

Since Groupon Vancouver started in April 2010, they have offered discounts for local food, yoga, conventions, art, and so much more. They have groupon sites for many large North American cities and have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CNN, Wired, and so many more media outlets.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I am now a huge Groupon Fan (I’m a Groupon Groupie)! I look forward to getting my daily groupon and can’t wait to see what I’ll save next time!

Get the Groupon Daily Deal now, and enter your email in the top left corner to subscribe.

How Social Media Changed Communication

May 29th, 2010

Social media has changed our lives in so many ways. Here are 4 things that have changed for me:

1. Instant Access to News

No longer do I watch the 6 o’clock news or the morning news. I get the majority of my news from Twitter or with a quick visit to News1130 or Google News. Over the past year, when many world events broke (world disasters, local news, celebrity news or deaths…to name a few), I read about them on Twitter within minutes of them happening.

2. Play-by-Play Sports

Even if I’m not watching the hockey game I can still get the score and a general idea of what’s happening. I just search for “#canucks” and I’ll see all the fights, bad calls, and goals. Even during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, I always knew when we won another medal.

3. My Professional Profile

With LinkedIn and Twitter, we build up our online profile. Gone are the days when we walk in to a business and drop off our resume. Now we seek jobs online, submit resumes through the business’s websites, and we are sometimes head-hunted through our online profiles. It’s important to watch what we say and do online because you never know who may be watching.

4. New Procrastination Avenues

We didn’t really need another distraction. It’s really hard not to check our Facebook or Twitter accounts several times during the day. I feel lost if I don’t check these at least few times during the day. Since I get most of my news though social media channels, I feel lost when I can’t check them.

Other than the extra distraction that social media causes some of us, I think it’s changed my life for the better, I’ve met new friends, got jobs and contracts, and had some great conversations with people I’ve never even met!

I wonder what social media will look like in a year.

Driving in Vancouver: BC-wide Cell Phone Ban (Part 2)

January 6th, 2010

Are the new cell phone and electronic device restrictions in Vancouver and throughout BC really going to make us safer? Many studies indicate that drivers are just as distracted by electronic device usage while driving, even with a hands-free device.

With our new law, effective Jan 1, Vancouver and BC drivers have restrictions on the use of electronic devices while driving. An Angus Reid study from June 2008 found that 85% of drivers supported some level of a cell phone ban.

Hands-free is Not Actually Safer

A University of Calgary study from 2004 found no significant safety benefits to using a hands-free cell phone. They found that even though hand-free dialing may eliminate some of the distraction (as opposed to physically dialling), once you start a phone conversation, the distraction level is the same as using a hands-on phone while driving.

Accident Stats

  • Cell phone while driving can decrease your brain processing and reaction time by 50%
  • Distractions associated with cell phone usage while driving is comparable to driving drunk
  • When text messaging, drivers spend about 400% more time with their eyes off the road
  • Distracted driving (including cell phone use) contributes to about 25% of all motor vehicle accidents MVAs are the #1 cause of injury-induced death in people under 25 years of age

Common Driving Distractions

  • Cell phone and electronic device usage
  • Eating/drinking
  • Manipulating vehicle controls
  • Reaching for objects in the car

Activities not contributing to driver distraction include talking to a vehicle passenger, or listening to music or audio books.

Cell phone regulations are already in place throughout the world including parts of Australia, the United Kingdom, Finland, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Singapore, and several US States and Canadian Provinces.

For more information about the new BC-wide electronic device  and cell phone ban and rules, read my WriterGal post, or visit the ICBC Drive Cell Safe website.

(Stats from the Discussion Paper: “Addressing the Problem of Distracted Driving and its
Impacts to Road Safety” by the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General)

Driving in Vancouver: BC-wide Cell Phone Restrictions (Part 1)

January 5th, 2010
It's now illegal to use a hands-on cell phone in Vancouver and throughout BC

It's now illegal to use a hands-on cell phone in Vancouver and throughout BC (photo: Chance Agrella,

Aside from the 2010 Winter Olympic Buzz, Vancouver is talking about the new cell phone ban that came into effect on Jan 1, 2010. Here’s what every Vancouver driver needs to know.

The new law bans or restricts the use of certain portable electronic devices while operating a vehicle. It applies particularly to cell phone usage, but also applies to devices including PDAs, Mp3 players, and handheld electronic devices. Email and texting are now completely banned while driving.

Permitted Electronic Device Usage

You are permitted to answer calls using a hands-free device (such as a Bluetooth headset). Permitted hands-free devices or headsets must be:

  • set-up and in place before turning on your vehicle
  • operated by voice command or one-touch
  • worn in one ear only (unless you are on a motorcycle)

You may use the full, hands-on capabilities of your electronic devices if:

  • lawfully parked off the roadway
  • calling emergency services (911) about an emergency
  • using a hands-free device

Fixed GPS devices, portable music players and television screens may still be used as long as they are set-up before starting the vehicle, and are not operated (unless using voice commands) by the driver.

Emergency response personnel (peace officers, paramedics, and fire services) are permitted to use electronic communications devices in carrying out their job. Commercial drivers have similar device restrictions to regular drivers, but with additional permitted uses. Drivers in the Graduated Licensing program now have a full ban on using all electronic devices while driving…No exceptions.

Grace Period

During January, there is a one-month grace period in which you will only get a warning and a reminder. Starting February 1, 2010 you can be fined $167 plus 3 penalty points if you’re caught using an electronic device while driving in BC.

Hopefully this will help keep Vancouver roads safer. Visit the WriterGal blog tomorrow for more information about driving in BC.

For full details about the BC-wide electronic device and cell phone ban and rules, visit the ICBC Drive Cell Safe website.