Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Day In The Life: On a Tuesday...

Sometimes I am totally nosy! I love peeking into other people's lives to see what is going on day to day, so I figured I would document my own day in the life post...on a Tuesday. 

5:23am: Alarm goes off - I wake up. Think, "why did I sign up for 6am Barry's Bootcamp?" I roll out of bed, put workout clothes on, and head to the kitchen to make coffee. Priorities, people. By a quarter til I am in my car on my way to bootcamp. 

Coffee gives me life

6am - 7am: Barry's Bootcamp Butt and Legs class. I only go to 6am classes maybe once or twice a month, but I really wanted to get a workout in today because it is a busy day.  Those who know me well have heard me say this, but, Barrys Bootcamp has been a lifesaver throughout the past year. It is my absolute favorite workout, but more importantly, re-investing in my own health and wellness by regular workouts has helped me deal with the stress of my dietetics program. Butt and Legs day means lots of squats, lunges, and fast treadmill runs. After class, I shower in their swanky locker room, and get dressed in my not-as-swanky volunteer outfit.

7:35 am: Grab my smoothie, hop in my car, and head to the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Hospital. In my PB + J smoothie, peanut butter, unsweetened almond milk, berries, and vanilla rice protein powder. Yum. 

8 am: Arrive at the VA Hospital. Since January 2014, I have volunteered here weekly and right now, I come every Tuesday from 8 am to 11:30 am. It is great clinical dietetics experience, and has been an incredibly humbling to work with the veteran population. My responsibilities differ, but today I interviewed newly admitted patients to determine food preferences. 

11:45 am: I drive home from the Hospital. Normally, I would head straight to class, however, I have a midterm to take and my teacher decided to administer it online, which was completely unexpected. It is for a Human Resources Management class which I have to take for my program; nothing too exciting, unfortunately. 

12:15 to 2pm: I make myself a big lunch of leftover kale salad with raisins, pecans, and a lemon garlic vinaigrette, plus some rotisserie chicken. I. am. starving. And I failed to pack morning snacks, so get this salad needs to get in my belly! I take my online midterm, which honestly feels pretty rushed. I hate timed tests. 

2 pm: Begin laundry downstairs because per the embarrassing picture below (somewhere underneath that pile is a hamper), when two people living together are both active, laundry piles up real fast. Then, I walk to go pick up the dry cleaning. Correction, Brent's dry cleaning. He has upcoming travel and is running low on work shirts. I am a good fiancĂ©. 

I can't even.

3 pm: I have a phone call with my financial advisor, which sounds fancier than it is. This only happens once to twice a year. I recently took on a second job as an independent contractor (because I am nuts) and wanted to discuss how to properly set aside money for taxes. 

Trail Mix (just for the chocolate pretty much) + La Croix - ride or die

3:30 pm - 5 pm: I use this time to multi-task and continue to do laundry while also working on homework for my Community Nutrition Class. My group partners and I are going to be teaching a nutrition education class to a group of seniors in April, so I work on a portion of our research paper for the project. As our audience will be low-income, our class will either focus on healthy, dentition-friendly breakfasts or food access.

5 pm - 7:15pm: I walk over to MD Weight Management, a clinic where I have been volunteering at since 2014. I help Karen, the RD on staff who counsels patients one on one about weight loss, weight maintenance, gastrointestinal disorders, and also leads weekly weight-loss support groups. Occasionally, like tonight, I observe her in action. Karen has been so supportive of my journey, and I love observing her with patients because she is great at integrating scientific research into her talks. Tonight, Karen talked with her group about a study that reiterated the importance of sleep on metabolic health. To summarize, not getting enough sleep means our body produces more endocannabinoids. This process peaks at 2pm in the afternoon and happens throughout the day. More endocannabinoids means more hunger. Think, cannibis and appetite stimulation. Moral of the story, try to stay well-rested (7 to 8 hours sleep) for optimal metabolic health.  

The view from the office where I volunteer. Not too shabby, SF March.

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Once I get home, I begin making dinner. I have been wanting to try out Juli Bauer's tortilla recipe (highly recommend all her recipes) from her cookbook I got for Christmas, so I give it a whirl. They turned out great, but I put too much garlic powder in (I didn't think this was possible). I make a quick stir-fry, top it with nutritional yeast, and serve it with my warm, crispy tortillas. It hits the spot and I set out to do some more schoolwork. 

 Mixing tortillas on the stove because our kitchen is that small

Chicken apple sausage, cauliflower rice, and broccoli stir-fry with 3 mini-tortillas

9:30pm - 10 pm: Brent is home, yay! I need his help for a nutrition lab homework assignment, so I perform a dietary recall with him which means I record everything he ate that day. Maybe not as fun for him as it is for me. Lucky for him, he went to Kokkari for dinner... 

10 pm - 11pm: As Brent falls asleep on the couch, I finally put my computer away and turn my brain off with some mindless TV. I am pretty exhausted, and around 11pm, I climb into bed. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cooking with Sun Basket + Fabulous Giveaway!

Sun Basket offered me a free box in exchange for a blog post review of their services. All opinions expressed here are my own.

So perhaps you made some goals or resolutions back in January. And maybe those involved food. Whether or not they involved food, I hope your 2016 has thus far been filled with lots of delicious meals. 

Back in December, I was asked to try out Sun Basket. It was perfect timing actually. As final exams approached, I had been spending way too much money at Whole Foods hot bar because I was too stressed to meal plan and cook. Enter Sun Basket! Sun Basket is a healthy meal kit service which delivers organic ingredients and easy recipes for cooking at home. Each week, Sun Basket's Chef develops a number of quick and nutritious recipes to choose from which can accommodate any dietary preferences, including Paleo, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free diets. The organic ingredients are sourced from West Coast farms, along with sustainable meat and seafood. They've thought about the details - the packaging is 100% recyclable.

I selected three gluten-free recipes to make: Rosemary Pork Loin with Roasted Winter Veggies, Senegalese Chicken in Peanut Sauce with Broken Rice, and Curried Shrimp and Japanese Sweet Potato Stir Fry (to die for).

I was so excited when my box of ingredients arrived, because the only boxes I have been receiving lately are boxes of textbooks!

Each recipe is clearly outlined and explained on a corresponding recipe card, which includes nutritional information, something this RD-to be certainly appreciates. The ingredients are all measured out for you already and all you have to do is further prepare them by following the recipe. When I made our first recipe, the Senegalese Chicken, I thought - there is no way this is going to be enough food for Brent and myself. However, we had at least two servings of leftovers...it was plenty.

Chopping for the Senegalese Chicken dish

Overall, I really enjoyed my Sun Basket experience. It helped me 'cook outside the box' and I am grateful for it getting me out of the Whole Foods hot bar funk I had been in. 

Rosemary Pork Loin with Roasted Winter Veggies

I think Sun Basket is a good option for people who want to try some different types of recipes, are trying to implement meal-planning and home-cooked meals into their life, and for people who enjoy cooking. I appreciated the high-quality ingredients and that each meal had plenty of vegetables; a few of my friends have tried other meal prep services and expressed disappointment over the lack of vegetables in each meal. Not only were Sun Basket's meals healthy, but they were tasty too.

I am so excited to share with you the following:
  • Sun Basket is giving SheEatsWell readers a $30 off code, click on the link to get $30 off your Sun Basket order: Try Sun Basket ----> then you'll redeem your offer, select your meals, and all that fun stuff.
  • You can also enter to win a free delivery of Sun Basket meals: 3 meals for 2 people, worth $68.94. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below! 
I'll announce the winner of the giveaway on Monday February 22, 2016.

Happy week to you all! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Current Favorites

What a glorious January it has been, thus far!

I've been on Winter break for nearly five weeks, one of the perks of the Semester system of RD school. Ask me if I like the semester system thirteen weeks in, and I'll tell you how I really feel. 

Though this month has been busy working on dietetic internship applications, working, and volunteering, it has also been a month of more free time, more workouts, more early morning sips of black coffee in our quiet apartment, and more time spent with family and friends. 

So, to keep the positivity going, here are some things I have been loving, most especially throughout the past few weeks. Sharing is caring, so I hope you discover something new, and please do tell me what you have been loving lately!

Oh She Glows: The Best Shredded Kale Salad
This is so predictable. A future dietitian recommending a kale salad. However, give me a chance to explain. I actually had to stop making this kale salad for a few days because I went through 4 bags of organic kale from Trader Joes in a week. I slightly alter her recipe as I prefer toasted pecan pieces and organic raisins. This dreamy, crunchy, lemon-y, sweet kale salad is a dream. It is midwestern-fiance approved, though I hope for his sake I get sick of it soon. It's not looking like that will happen though. The key is taking the time to chop your kale! Have I convinced you yet? #allthefiber #getyourgreens

Kale Salad with some soup, the dinner I made for my family one evening 

Making a Murderer via Netflix
We started watching this show New Years Day. By episode 2, I was completely addicted and spent the next week watching an episode or two each night, doing my best to prolong the show as much as possible. It's fascinating. And though, yes, you must take it with a grain of salt, knowing all evidence cannot be incorporated into the documentary, it's nonetheless thought-provoking and relevant, given the spotlight over the past year on law enforcement and corruption (hint: it's everywhere).

Shepards Pie: 
As part of the Whole30 I have been doing, I've tried a few new recipes, including a Shepards Pie, which didn't sound appetizing to make at first. However, one Friday evening, I resisted Whole Foods hot bar and followed the Whole 30 book's recipe for Shepards Pie. Since then, I have made this with both bison and turkey, and both are delicious. A savory base of quality meat, celery, carrots, onions, and thyme, along with a naturally sweetened sweet potato and coconut mixture on top is bound to make anyone's tastebuds happy. It's filling and healthy, and the perfect Winter comfort-food dish. I recommend the Whole 30 Cookbook for the recipe, but you can also try this recipe or this one.

Ancestral RDs podcast: All About Vitamin K2 with Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue
Whenever I drive down south to San Luis Obispo to visit family, I love to catch up on all my favorite podcasts. The Ancestral RDs, Kelsey and Laura, are by far my favorite podcast to listen to as a young health professional. I find them inspiring, real, and incredibly educational. One of their most recent podcasts featured Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a doctor of Naturopathic medicine, and an expert on Vitamin K2. She wrote the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Anyone taking a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D, calcium, or anyone simply interested, I encourage you to listen to the podcast. It's fascinating to learn about Vitamin K2's (an often misunderstood, forgotten Vitamin) role in calcium regulation. Let's just say, her book has been ordered. Thank you, Amazon Prime! 

So those are a few of my favorite bits right now. Next week, it is back to school for this RD to be. Though I am not looking forward to having class every day, I am certainly looking forward to finishing my program, and hopefully getting into a dietetic internship; fingers crossed. No matter what, I am staying positive, focusing on taking care of myself and my loved ones, and thinking 2016 will be a good year, indeed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

On being more than thankful

I don't know about you, but my heart has been hurting so much the past few weeks. I went into my waitressing shift two Friday nights ago in absolute shock, as I read the beginning reports of what was happening in Paris on my phone. I got home around midnight and sat on the couch alone, watching the news, balling my eyes out. And not only was I sad, but I was scared. I know we are told to not be fearful because that is what "they" want, but I couldn't help it. What happened in Paris, could happen anywhere.

Ten years ago, at this time, I was studying abroad in Paris. I lived in the 11th arrondissement, near the Bastille, and a quick hop, skip, and metro ride to the Marais district. I formed some wonderful friendships in Paris, and we all loved exploring the city together. We got into some trouble too (nothing too crazy), but isn't that what living is about? Of course, all our favorite memories of that time involve food. Grabbing falafels on our school lunch break at L'As du Falafel in the Marais, getting a fresh Nutella crepe at 3am from a street vendor, or stopping at the bakery near school to grab a meat and butter sandwich on a fresh baguette (don't knock it until you try it). All these memories have been rushing through my head these past few weeks. I can't help but watch the news coverage and listen to NPR constantly and feel sick to my stomach thinking about the people involved.

Me, circa 2005, at the real Moulin Rouge

As Thanksgiving is this week, I have been thinking a lot about how this time of year, it is inevitable to think about what we are thankful for. And that's great. And of course, I know we should find something to be thankful for every day, and I think many of us do. However, I wonder if we can shift this idea slightly. Rather, instead of just being thankful, can we commit to showing a little more empathy and compassion towards others on a day to day basis? 

This idea stems from a lot of different things that have been going on in my life for the past year and a half. My transition back to school for a career change has been life-changing in many ways, whether it be living off of cash tips, going from a professional position of leadership to becoming a volunteer, to scrubbing end caps at midnight on a Sunday. There have been times where I have been so over it, and even more times where I've felt very humbled by my experiences, especially my volunteer work at the Veterans Hospital. I've realized this past year and a half, I've been more conscious about the person I want to be. Not the dietitian I want to be, but the person I want to be. I'm constantly trying to self-improve, because at the end of the day, I want to be proud of who I am and also, always remember to treat others with compassion and empathy. The latter, is harder to do sometimes, if I'm really being honest.

So, on this week of giving thanks, can you take it up a notch? Can you show thanks? 

Let's create a better world, filled with good people. 

Let's fill our hearts up with joy, compassion, and empathy for the fellow human. If that is not healthy, I don't know what is. 

Let us be thankful on Thanksgiving, fill our bellies with pie, and laugh. And let us show how thankful we are for this life through our actions of kindness and patience towards others. Because if the events of the past two weeks have reinforced anything in me, it's that this life, is indeed very precious.

Rodin's Le Penseur, from my favorite museum in the world

Monday, October 26, 2015

From a Belated 30th Birthday, 30 Things I've Learned

On Saturday, October 17th, I turned 30 years young. 

I was born 11 minutes after midnight. 11 minutes late. I was due on October 16th. Which is probably why, to this day, I hate being late. This year, at 12:11am, I was closing checks after a long, Friday night waitressing shift. But honestly, it turned out to be the loveliest of birthdays once I got home and crawled into bed. A morning run, brunch with my big sister, an afternoon nap that felt extremely luxurious, and dinner with Brent. 

This past year has been especially life-changing. In tradition with years past, here are 30 things I've learned...in the past 30 years.

1. Never stop learning. I really do feel like a sponge right now. I am trying to soak up all the information I am learning in school, while also trying to find time to think critically about this information I am being given.

Look Mom! I made a thickened starch paste (lemon curd) and wrote a lab report on it!

2. Just when you think you know something, you realize - you know nothing. And then there's this. Many mornings I wake up and think to myself, there is so much more I need and want to know. I may know my flashcards, but that will never be enough. This feeling of knowing nothing is what makes me want to commit to a life filled with learning. Slash never go back to school again. Slash maybe get my Masters someday. Just not today.

3. Pay it forward. This is my life's motto right now. I think about a fellow student who graduated from my program last year, and has graciously taken her time to answer my random dietetics questions throughout the past few months. I think about Karen, a wonderful RD and mentor who allows me to volunteer for her, but also, to observe her motivating people in her weight-loss support groups. I think about a new friend I met who recently became an RD, and how she has taken her own time to give me advice. I am so grateful for people who are so generous with their precious time. Everyday, I remind myself to pay it forward. Whether that be helping another student by sharing notes, giving a friend a ride home, or sharing snacks. I am so grateful.

4. Take care of yourself. <-----This was the best advice I got from a former student on how to survive this traditionally difficult time during the RD program.

5. Take care of your loved ones, too. 

6. Cultivate joy every day. For me, I find one thing, at least, every day to look forward to. This is most important to remember on those days when you feeling like nothin' is going your way. Sometimes it's a walk to a coffee shop, fresh flowers I've bought, or an exercise class. On the weekends, it's usually FaceTiming with our adorable two nieces. Brent and I have been FaceTiming with them once a week for over the past year, and it brings me so much joy to watch them grow and develop personalities. 
Walking Lands-End with my amazing Mom

7. Have people to get weird with. I love my fiancĂ© for so many reasons. We can make each other laugh hard even when we're just doing nothing in our tiny apartment. The other day, we attempted the dirty dancing lift in our living room. I have no idea why, but it just happened. That's love, folks. 

8. Invest in exercise that makes you feel happy and healthy. For the past few months, I've been enjoying a little more cardio and strength training, and I am officially obsessed with Barry's Bootcamp in SF. I know my yoga practice will always be with me, but it's felt wonderful to take Barry's classes. As I began Fall semester, I made a commitment to myself that I would prioritize exercise for well-being and stress-management. Though this is challenging at times, given my hectic schedule, I am fairly certain my workouts are responsible for keeping me sane and energized. And, I fall fast asleep every night.

9. Let thy freezer be thy friend. I hate wasting food, which is why I love my freezer. Currently, my freezer is taking good care of some end of the summer organic Strawberries, pumpkin puree, and lots of soup leftovers. I freeze the soups in bags - when I'm ready to eat one, I take it out of the bag, put it on the stove, and heat it up slowly. 

10. You are more capable than you think. Truly.

11. FaceTime is a good time. When Brent and I got engaged, we FaceTimed my Mom. She was beaming, and it was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life thus far. Sometimes, technology just does it right.

12. You can't do everything. I'm still working on saying no

13. Find the good in the challenge. 

14. Always a have a firm handshake. Seriously though - nothing worse than a loose handshake.

15. Be an active listener. 

16. Please be nice to your server. 

17. But in turn, be nice to your customers. The restaurant I serve at has a wonderful customer base. However, sometimes, there may be someone who comes into the restaurant and isn't the friendliest. It happens. So, when it does, I remember that I don't know what this person is going through. Perhaps they just lost their job or lost a loved one. Show compassion, always.

18. Good manners never go out of style. Always say please and thank you! 

19. And neither does the Vitamix.

20. Celebrate food with good friends, often.

21. Don't apologize for everything. I do this. A lot. I apologize for things and situations which are often out of my control. 

22. You'll never regret a workout, especially if it's a workout you love. As I mentioned above, I have been on a Barry's Bootcamp kick the past few months. It's just what my body and mind are craving. In fact, I love it so much, I have had no trouble waking up at 5:20am to get to a 6am bootcamp. The endorphins are so worth it.

23. Don't compete with others; it will not serve you. In fact, I am pretty sure this will cripple you.

24. Enjoy the quiet moments. 

25. Give yourself a little time each day to zone out. I like to take a few minutes to stretch while watching TV, do a headstand, or watch a little TV to give my brain a break.

26. When you need help, ask for it. If you have trouble with this, start trying to do it now. 

27. Be present. Get off your phone. Enjoy whatever moment you are having. Quiet your mind, and be present. 

28. Love fiercely. This guy - need I say more? I am so lucky. 

29. Show up. How are you going to show up today? I love when my yoga teachers ask this during class. Are you going to approach this day you've been given with fear and dread? Or are you going to make this day wonderful?

30. Pay it forward. This is worth repeating.