My Life List

December 2, 2014
Image of Nicole Krysa

The life list of Nicole (in no particular order)…

  1. Learn to speak at least two additional languages fluently.

  2. Fly a plane.

  3. Become an entrepreneur.

  4. Write and publish a book.

  5. Travel to one place I’ve never been before each year.

  6. Buy myself a Chanel 2.55 bag.

  7. Take a surfing lesson.

  8. Become good at surfing.

  9. Speak at Speaker’s Corner.

  10. Get a motorcycle license.

  11. Run a half marathon.

  12. Run a full marathon.

  13. Do the splits (as an adult).

  14. Take a road trip through the USA.

  15. Have a conversation with Wally Lamb.

  16. Volunteer with an organization that I’m passionate about.

  17. Travel by backpack.

  18. Act as a street performer for a day and donate the money.

  19. Have an art exhibition.

  20. Sing karaoke.

  21. Buy and wear an obscenely fancy hat.

  22. Learn how to ballroom dance.

  23. Get my black belt in a martial art.

  24. Participate in 100 races (of any distance and nature).

  25. Be featured in a fitness magazine.

  26. Watch every Woody Allen film.

  27. Buy an absolutely massive canvas, and just go crazy with it.

  28. Find the perfect arm chair (preferably red).

  29. Buy a house (or condo!) and make it a home.

  30. Play snow tackle football on Christmas day.

  31. Snowboard somewhere other than Ontario.

  32. Adopt a dog & own a micro mini pig.

  33. Achieve balance.

  34. Take a bicycle trip somewhere far away.

  35. Go somewhere abroad (like India) and obtain a yoga certification.

  36. Surf on Munich’s Eisbach River.

  37. Take photos with all of the Toronto Moose.

  38. Do ten consecutive pull-ups.

  39. Participate in a military-style endurance event (like a Tough Mudder).

  40. Have a library.

  41. Get back to London, England.

  42. Buy a cheap underwater camera and take photos with friends.


What’s your life list? Do we have any goals in common? 


Nicole Krysa Signature


The Story of Cotton and Kale

November 25, 2014


Hi! I’m Nicole. I am a fashion designer from Toronto, who now majors in biochemistry. I am also a long-time blogger. I’ve been dabbling in it since my fashion blogging days in high school, and some of you here may know me from my original fitness site: Nikki Wears Nike.

So how did Cotton & Kale come into fruition (or vegetable-ition…get it?), how did a fashion grad find herself studying biochemistry? Well, allow me to share a bit of my story…


The Beginning

I was raised in suburban Ontario by two (phenomenal) scientist parents. I love the magic of creating, and remember being torn from an early age between the arts and the sciences (my dream job when I was a kid was to be a veterinarian who does commissioned paintings of people’s pets!). Ultimately, the lure of the arts, and a glamorous urban life as a fashion designer had a seductive appeal, and I wound up majoring in Fashion Design in downtown Toronto.

Growing up, I had always been very athletic – I did competitive track, taught karate, danced, rode horses, swam…the list goes on. When I arrived at Fashion School, I was lean, healthy, fit, and happy, and continued along a similar trajectory, joining the competitive Cheerleading Team, and continuing to run and go to the gym at least four times a week. I was also conscientious of my diet, avoiding many of the first year pitfalls, and sticking to healthy whole grains, fresh produce, and lean protein.




The Downtown Struggle

In spite of all of this, I started to feel ill. I had always been anemic, but after finding no apparent source for this problem, it had been written off by doctors a long time ago as a “strange incidence”. My anemia prevailed, and started to have greater effect on my day-to-day life, and in addition to this, I started to notice a number of other symptoms. I began to gain weight uncontrollably, was sluggish, moody, experienced constant headaches which would sometimes put me out of commission, and was also tested positive for a number of startling hormonal irregularities.

My life felt like it was spinning out of control, as I was shipped off to five different specialists, none of whom could explain how I was feeling (many suggested that I was simply overeating – at this point, I was running for two hours a day, and dieting dramatically to no avail). A confident bubbly girl, I also felt extremely insecure for the first time, being a part of a high-pressure, appearance-based industry, and feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb with my newly acquired curves. I became a shadow of the girl I used to be.




Eureka Moment

Finally, after having resided myself to feeling extremely average, I visited a new endocrinologist (a hormone doctor), who casually noted that I appeared to have Celiac disease. I had heard of this disease in the abstract, but had no idea what it really entailed. I was intrigued though, and cut out gluten the next day (I had a sub on the way home from the appointment…being a non-celiac is much more convenient!). After three months of being entirely gluten-free, I felt like a different person, and had the data to prove it. I went in for testing, and my iron level, which had been at a four (healthy is roughly 70-300), was at a 46! This was not only near healthy, but the highest it had ever been in my life! I started to feel vibrant, had more energy, and was finally able to put a name on the disease that had been overshadowing my entire experience living in the city, and had been hovering in the background for years.


Making Changes

Of course, being a carb-friendly runner, making the transition overnight to a 100% gluten-free diet was difficult, and I started to experiment with cooking to try to mimic some of the foods that I missed….and it was really fun! Not only that, but after realizing how much nutrition could affect my health, I started to look at everything I was eating more critically. Let’s just say, the experimentation started to get a little out of hand…


Some of my initial results were just plain crude…


 …and sometimes they still are!

But I hit my stride, and things started to really fall into place! I suppose that my happiness stated to radiate, because I started receiving messages from people I knew, asking me questions about health, fitness, and nutrition. I ultimately made the switch over to science in the end, because I realized that as much as I adore design, I really want to be a part of this phenomenal system of discovery that helps people better their health.




Diet/No Diet

After starting at Science School, I worked a brief stint as a Personal Trainer. I loved helping people work toward their goals, but I wound up putting the job on hiatus in favour of my studies (being an effective Trainer is time-consuming work!), but I learned so much in the process, and developed a passion for strength and resistance training. I also remained critical about how I was eating, and wound up switching to a vegan diet! I maintained my veganism almost perfectly for three months, and loved it, however, being a gluten-free vegan in school is demanding. I still maintain a primarily plant-based diet, but am a little bit flexible. Ultimately, after all of this time, I have found balance.


Nicole Krysa Denim Series by Jerome Clark


Cotton and Kale

So here I am, to share it all with you! I chose the name Cotton & Kale for the website, to honour the marriage of the Fashion Designer who is still very much present in me (there is a big fashion and design component on this site!), as well as the Biochemist, with a special interest in nutrition. This website is a place to merge and share all of those interests. I hope to provide founded, accessible, and beautiful content pertaining to health, fitness, and nutrition, interspersed (of course), with the occasional design post. I still consider myself to be in recovery mode, and am constantly in the process of working toward my goals/setting new ones (I have an extensive life list!). This blog is as much about my personal growth as it is about sharing my discoveries and knowledge with you guys! I am really excited about engaging with all of you, and hope you join me for this beautiful ride. It’s going to be awesome.



Nicole Krysa Signature



November 23, 2014
Winter Boot Lineup


Winter boot season is approaching quickly (or, if you’re lucky enough to live up north like me, it’s already here)! I always dread this time of year, in which practicality prevails over sartorial sensibility, however, these two worlds need not always collide. Here, I present to you my favourite picks for winter boots, which will endure the elements while standing up to the most critical editorial eye.

  1. W Tuff Boots Tribe – Roots Canada$158.00
  2. Sperry Top-Sider for J.Crew Shearwater Boots – J.Crew$150.00
  3. 1964 Premium LTR Boot – Sorel$140.00
  4. Sperry Top-Sider for J.Crew Shearwater Buckle Boots – J.Crew – $160.00
  5. Adirondack Tall – UGG$325.00
  6. Conquest Carly Boot – Sorel$220.00


Nicole Krysa Signature


Girl Crush: Misty Copeland

November 18, 2014
Misty Copeland


Misty Copeland, New York ballerina, is stunning from head to pointed toe. If you haven’t heard of her just yet, brace yourself, because, at just 32 years of age, this she is (beautifully) poised to take over the world. I was first introduced to Misty through Under Armour’s new (and incredibly empowering “I Will What I Want” campaign), which features a stunningly athletic Misty dancing against audio clips of a young girl reading actual rejection letters that she received whilst trying to break into the competitive world of ballet. What is so striking (and inspiring) about Misty in particular is that she takes the status quo and crushes it, proving that hard work and a strong will always take you farther than the right pedigree.


Misty Copeland


It is no secret that ballet is traditionally an extracurricular relegated to the upper crust. In stark contrast to this, Misty, hailing originally from Southern California, came from a meager situation, barring her from signing up for ballet lessons until the age of thirteen, an age that was considered to be too old to allow for a career in the art. After clawing her way into an academy in spite of this (with a full scholarship no less), Misty had to continue to overcome adversity, the spotlight shifting from her age to her atypical appearance. Not only did she encounter racial barriers (now a soloist for the American Ballet, she is the first female of colour in two decades to hold this title), but after hitting puberty and coming into a shapely adult body, she was often told to “lengthen” (read: thin out), in order to continue to perform in her title roles, which require frequent costume changes with the other lanky dancers.


Misty Copeland


Instead of changing, she took these barriers to entry on as challenges, thinking “if I perfect my movements more than any other dancer, they (the ballet company) will have to accommodate me.” Leanne Fremar, Under Armour Executive Creative Director says this about Misty: “She brings a modern athleticism to a very traditional art form and pushes the boundaries of the status quo definition of the word ‘athlete.’” Indeed, Misty’s strong legs and womanly curves are a refreshing sight, complementing her graceful movements, rather than detracting from them.

Now, Misty is on top of the world. She is currently being featured in Under Armour’s largest women’s marketing campaign to-date, has both a documentary and a memoir coming out, launched a diversity iniviative titled “Project Plie,” and was featured in an adorable advertisement by Coach, seen here. Next time you consider doing the impossible, take these words from Misty and run with them:

“I’m 5’2, I started when I was 13, I’m black, but I’ve made it happen, I’m very lucky to be where I am… it’s possible”.



Nicole Krysa Signature






Vegan Salted Caramel Date Truffles

November 10, 2014


Oh my goodness. When my friend and I made these truffles (via The Minimalist Baker) on a Friday night in, I wasn’t expecting much more than a little sweet tooth fix.

I was wrong.

These are so much more.

They are sweet, salty, crunchy, decadent, bite-sized, goo-ey, and filled with peanut-butter crusted goodness. In other words, they are the perfect little treat. Oh, and did I mention that they are virtually guilt free?




If I haven’t sold you on them yet, they are also ridiculously easy to make! I (only slightly) modified this recipe from The Minimalist Baker’s page, so if you’d rather, you can visit the source here. Alternatively, here it is Cotton & Kale style, below:


  • 1 pound (16 ounces or about 1 1/2 cups packed) Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2.5 Tbsp melted coconut oil (divided!)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (I like crunchy, for a bit of added texture, but creamy works too!)
  • 1 cup dairy-free (vegan) chocolate chips


The Recipe

If your dates still have their pits, or aren’t very moist/sticky, remove the pits, and soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes prior to blending. Drain the water thoroughly.

Firstly, you’re going to have to make some date caramel. If you haven’t tried this before, prepare to be mind-blown. It is awesome. To do so, put the dates, and 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil in a food processor, and blend until they stick into one uniform ball. As the paste is forming, add 3/4 tsp of sea salt to the mix, and blend again until the taste is uniform.


truffles2 truffles1


Scoop the mixture out into a tupperware or bowl (I won’t judge you if some of it happens to “go missing” along the way ;)), and let it sit in the freezer for thirty minutes.

Remove the mixture, and using a spoon, mould it into a number of bite-sized balls (approximately 15-18), placing them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Freeze for another 20-30 minutes.

Your dates are now ready for the best part…peanut butter [truffle] time! The original recipe suggests that you use salted peanut butter here, but I find that, with the salt in the caramel component, it is unnecessary, and rather overwhelming! Because of this, I use an unsalted, all-natural version.




Heat up your peanut butter and 1/2 tbsp coconut oil in a microwave safe dish, and using a spoon, distribute the peanut-butter over the tops of frozen truffles. There is no need to be super neat or careful here. Have fun with it!



…and after!


Just one more for emphasis…


Hey, you can’t have too much awesome…right?

Put these peanut butter-covered truffles in the freezer for another 30 minutes.

Your patient waiting has paid’re almost done! Melt the chocolate with the remaining 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a microwave-safe dish (be careful to do this in small time increments, so as not to burn the chocolate!). Remove the truffles from the freezer, and, using a fork to stab and pick up the truffles, dunk them one at a time in the dish. Place them back on the baking sheet, and use any leftover chocolate to pour over areas that may not have been fully covered the first time. If any chocolate pools out at the bottom, consider this a bonus. It creates a delicious crispy rim when it comes time to eat them! Repeat this step until all truffles are coated.

Put your complete truffles in the freezer one last time for 30 minutes, or until the chocolate shells have become fully solidified. Serve straight from the freezer, or let set for ~15 minutes to soften. Store in the freezer to keep fresh.



truffles8 truffles9

Enjoy, my dear friends. You deserve it.


Nicole Krysa Signature