Monday, February 23, 2015

Journey to Become an RD: The Second Semester

If you had told me 5 or 10 years ago that I'd be taking a biochemistry class, I would have been pretty concerned about your mental state. 

Attempting to understand DNA replication and protein synthesis...

Well, here we are. 2015, and I am in fact, sitting in a biochemistry class. At 8:10am every Tuesday and Thursday morning, to be exact. It is most definitely one of the most challenging courses I have taken, thus far. Sometimes I cannot believe I am entering a career that requires such a strong science base. It's not that I think I can't get through it, but rather, I just never thought of myself as going into a field of science. The Registered Dietitian (RD) curriculum is mentally exhausting at times, but I also really enjoy the challenges.

This semester, I am taking the following classes, totaling 12 units:

Sustainability in the Textile, Housing, and Food Industries (my one and only elective)
Nutrition in the Life Cycle
Management of Quantity Food Purchasing and Production (with lab, which is working in the back of a teaching kitchen)

I am grateful that I have excellent teachers, all around. My Biochemistry Professor in particular, though very tough, is young and committed to ensuring that we really do learn. One of my other teachers, who is a fellow RD, is legally blind. She has the best sense of humor, constantly telling us relatable stories about working in the food industry, as well as her own journey to become an RD. I find inspiration in her patience with herself, her perseverance, and also, her wonderful sense of humor.

I think what I am most excited about, this semester, is that I have gotten through the transition state. I realized it took me a good four months to figure out my new life as a student. And now, I have my routine (mostly) down. I've got my volunteer jobs in place, my job-job in place, and my school schedule confirmed. I understand how to live, financially, as a student. And though that is the least-fun part, I am making it work. 

I have also realized a lot about humility and my own ego. It has felt both a little odd and a little freeing to go from working a full-time job, where I had a lot of responsibility, was compensated, and assumed a leadership role, to assuming volunteer positions where I am, well, a volunteer. It's different. In all honesty, at times, I have found myself feeling a little insecure, that, here I am, 29 years old, and a volunteer. I'm not sure if I can articulate these feelings any other way. Therefore, I remind myself, to 1) Be kind to myself and 2) This is all part of the journey towards becoming an RD. 

Because, sometimes, to move forward in your life, you have to go backwards. Start from the bottom. And work (or volunteer) your way back up. 

You can find other posts about my Journey to Become an RD here:

Journey to Become an RD: My First Week of School 
Journey to Become an RD: The First Month and My Biggest Challenge

Friday, February 13, 2015

Confessions + Coffee

My favorite part of the day is the morning. Specifically, the first few sips of freshly made coffee. It's my time to think, mentally plan for my day, and listen to The Today Show (of course). Sometimes, because I live with my boyfriend, I am forced to listen to Morning Drive. For all of you non-golf fanatics, this is also known as the quietest morning show, ever. On the Golf Channel. Because apparently, there IS a golf channel. If I had it my way, there would be a 'Ballet Channel.' But no. Admittedly, I usually get my way with this one and get to watch The Today Show. It makes me think of my childhood, growing up, and always hearing my Mom already awake watching it. 

Speaking of coffee, one of the ways I save money as a student is most always making my own coffee. Right now, I am loving this brand from Trader Joes. I love that it is Fair Trade and organic. Also, I love that it is $7. I make my coffee by brewing hot water in my tea kettle, then pouring the hot water over the coffee in a single filter. Super smooth.

Everyone has been asking me how school is going this semester, as I just started three weeks ago. I will write a Journey to Become an RD post, but my overall impression, thus far, is it is going to be a good semester. I have excellent teachers. I am completely terrified of my Biochemistry class, but relieved that I have a wonderful, young, eager Professor. Fingers crossed.

This stuff is easy, right? No.

I serve at a Southern Italian pizzeria three times a week, and am beyond grateful to have landed this job at this great joint just six blocks from my apartment. Last Sunday, I was carrying some wine glasses to a table when I slipped and fell backwards. I landed on my back and head on the floor, clenching the (now) broken wine glasses. My left hand, specifically my ring finger, got cut up so I went to the ER (workers comp), where they glued it back together. I have a fairly high pain tolerance, but that doesn't mean I like to look at cuts or anything. Plus, I've never gotten stitches in my life. Poop? I can deal with that. Bloody cuts exposing flesh? I am definitely going into the right profession - so much respect for all nurses, doctor, and other health care professionals out there. I can barely look at my finger right now; it just freaks me out.

Beer tasting at staff meeting for work; I wish I liked beer.


It may be 70 degrees and sunny in San Francisco, but I am still loving the Oh She Glows 10 Spice Soup recipe. If you haven't made it yet, you are missing out. I will try not to bring it up on the blog again, but I am obsessed with it. It's rich and creamy, and made with a cashew cream that takes it

Finally, I am looking forward to a weekend of pure, good ole studying. I have my first big exam Tuesday morning. I am also looking forward to getting back on the yoga mat. Due to this little ole finger injury, my downward dogs have been compromised. Therefore, tomorrow, I am going to try to go back to yoga and I cannot wait. Yoga, study, work (without falling) will not be too bad this weekend. 

Until next any confessions you'd like to share?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cinnamon-Vanilla Flax Milkshake

It's not really a secret that I have a wicked sweet teeth. I love cookie dough. Chocolate. 

Now, I could go the rest of my life without eating cheese. I'd be fine. I know. Sweets, however? Nope. I'd choose chocolate over cheese, any day, every day. 

To this day, my Mom still makes the most incredible, decadent, delicious desserts. Now, we all know, too much sugar, too much cheese, too much wine...not so good. But this life is unpredictable and lovely, so I'm of the camp that believes in treating yourself to some delicious wine, cheese, or dessert every now and then. 

Now, I see a lot of recipes for "healthy desserts." I don't really know how I feel about them, to be honest. I usually think, go big or go home with dessert. I don't even like to mix fruit with my dessert! However, the other day, I had some homemade cinnamon almond milk I needed to use up in the fridge, so I concocted a smoothie that tasted kind of like dessert. But it's pretty healthy. So yeah, I don't know where I stand on healthy desserts. But what I do know, is this smoothie is tasty! It tastes like a legit milkshake. 

Frozen banana + cinnamon almond milk + a date + sunflower seed butter + flax seeds = a cinnamon-y, vanilla-y, nutty, creamy milkshake, full of healthy fats. 

Cinnamon-Vanilla Flax Milkshake
gluten-free, whole-30 friendly, paleo-friendly, vegan 

1/2 to 3/4 of a frozen banana
1 cup almond milk or coconut milk (I used homemade cinnamon almond milk, but if not using homemade, canned light coconut milk would work great)
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 heaping tablespoon sunflower seed butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 2 dates, based on your tastebuds for sweet 
Cocoa nibs, optional

Blend all ingredients and serve immediately; feel free to top with a spoonful of cocoa nibs. 

Some important notes to reiterate:
- Must use frozen banana 
- Must use cold milk of choice (coconut or almond)
- Highly recommend trying to make your own almond milk sometime. It's way easier and tastier than I thought it would be!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Italian Sausage & Potato Soup (gluten-free, paleo-friendly, whole 30-friendly)

I love making soup. 

Maybe it's something about the stirring, simmering, and anticipation of flavors to come. Or maybe it is also because I know whenever I make soup, I get leftovers. And right now, I'm all about quick, easy meals that are healthy and nourishing!

Last week, I was craving a soup made with some good ole organic white potatoes, which I had just bought. Once I remembered I had some spicy Italian sausage to use up, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Spicy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup. 

This soup turned out more flavorful than I could have imagined! It's got some spice to it along with a rich tomato broth. I had a few bowls last week, and stored the rest of way for this week, knowing I'd be busy being back in school. Lets just say, I cannot wait to reheat some tomorrow night before I work!

A key component of this soup is the Italian sausage used, as it gives some extra spice. However, if you aren't passionate about pork like I am, you could also use ground turkey or chicken. 

Spicy Italian Sausage & Potato Soup (gluten-free, paleo, whole-30 friendly)

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 entire bulb garlic, chopped finely
1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
1 can tomato paste (mine was 6 ounces)
2 to 3 Italian sausages
2 teaspoons oregano 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1.5 teaspoons basil 
A few sprinkles of red hot chili flakes (optional, this will make it spicy)
2 carrots, sliced
3 medium Russet potatoes, chopped (I left skins on - good fiber)
2 big handfuls kale, spinach, or your green of choice
4 cups chicken or beef broth
2 bay leafs

1. In a soup pan, heat the olive oil and garlic for 4 minutes; let that garlic sweat it out! Then, add in the chopped onions and sauté over medium heat, stirring, until the onions become translucent (about 5 minutes). 

2. Add in the tomato paste, Italian sausages, and all the spices. Stir for 5 or so minutes. 

3. Then, add in the vegetables and broth. Place two bay leaves in the soup. Put a lid on the pan and bring the soup to a boil. Then, simmer for 25 minutes, or until potato chunks can easily be pierced through. 

4. Serve immediately. Warm your tummy and your soul.

*To freeze, I recommend using plastic baggies that get frozen flat. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things

I've had a little more time to myself lately. While I savor every second of my last week of Winter break, I thought I'd reflect on some of my favorite things that have been in my life in the past five weeks. Most involve food - of course. 

Serial podcast: I saved the Serial podcast for my two roundtrip drives to and from San Luis Obispo (SLO) over my break. I gave my dear friend Michelle a ride down to SLO and she initially got me hooked on the series, as she had already listened to all of them. I listened, she re-listened, and by episode 3 I was screaming "What about Don!?" and "I don't like Jay" and "This is so weird." Michelle was a good sport. All in all, this is what I think about the case: Jay is sketchy, Adnan is likable in many instances, and what about Don? As my co-worker said, how convenient that he had his Mom to confirm his alibi. Oh, I just don't know!

This soup from Oh She Glows: This is hands down one of my favorite soup recipes. I always put in whichever vegetables I have on hand and omit the beans (I am not a big bean person). I haven't experimented with freezing it yet because it always gets eaten in two or three days. The "cashew cream" takes it over the top. This picture is horrible but I promise you, this soup is amazing.

Making my own almond milk: Making my own nut milk was something I had convinced myself, for some reason, was going to be ridiculously laborious. I kept telling myself I'd learn how to make my own almond milk on my break. Well, I finally did and it is super easy. Also, unless I am in a real pinch, I am pretty sure I won't be purchasing any store's almond milk. Homemade is just too tasty, and I add lots of spices to mine. It's almost like dessert!

These wonderful movies: My mom, sister, boyfriend, and I all love going to the movies. I still have a few movies from this Winter that I want to see, however, my favorites thus far include Wild, The Imitation Game, Selma, and Unbroken. I cried many ugly tears throughout each of these movies, all of which, were based on true stories. We also saw American Sniper last weekend, which left me speechless. 

Ancestral RD podcasts: I've followed Laura and Kelsey ever since they started contributing on Chris Kresser's site a few years back. They are young, ambitious, really freaking smart Registered Dietitians who practice very holistically. Their immense knowledge inspires me constantly to keep learning. I totally dork out listening to their helpful podcasts. Some of my favorites so far have been about how to become a real food RD, adrenal fatigue, and curing SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). 

This soup: All day, I couldn't stop thinking about a soup with Italian Sausage and white (not sweet!) potatoes. So, after yoga (again, predictable), I whipped up this soup in around an hour. I plan to share the recipe on the blog soon! It's hearty, healthy, and a little spicy. It's gluten-free, paleo and whole 30 friendly, and will warm you right up. I feel so calm creating soup recipes and can't wait to share this one with you.

What are some things making you smile right now?