Tuesday, April 7, 2015

It's About So Much More Than Food.

I love holistic health. Not just the idea of it, but I truly love trying to live holistically. 

It's freaking hard. 

There are days where I feel energized, giddy off of endorphins, and not too stressed. I eat delicious, real food. Maybe some really good chocolate. I put not-so-toxic lotion on my face and love the smell. I feel proud of what I've accomplished and where I am going. I feel lucky to be a member of my small family of strong, independent, and perseverant women. I feel proud of my relationship with my boyfriend, and lovingly supported. And I feel very, very grateful for friends that make me smile and feel silly, but also, protected. 

Then there are days like yesterday. I felt constantly distracted, trapped by my own self-pressure, and I just felt down. I was hungry, but nothing sounded good. I was cranky. My life is not hard! I'm just being honest. I questioned myself, constantly, and at times, sent myself into a downward spiral of worrying. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am The Queen of worrying. My Mom still tells me to this day, if I could be a professional worrier, I'd be a billionaire. I'm that good. I'll worry for me, and for you, and your family, too. 

Sometimes I think I'm going to start writing about something, and it turns into something else. 

Sometimes, there is wine involved. 

This is one of those times. 

I was going to write a post on learning to say no. Something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Something I am struggling with. I can write that post another time. With another glass of wine.

What I want to really say, I think, is that health is so much more than what we eat and how much we exercise. In school, I am learning a lot about physiology, diseases, nutrition of foods, and different diets. I know this scientific foundation will be very important to me once I begin my career as a Dietitian. However, deep down, I really believe in holistic health, which is something I know can't and won't really be taught at RD school. This is also why I'm so grateful for my education at Bauman College and my...life experience? At least thus far. (I feel weird writing that...#thisisalmostthirty).

But really, you say you want to improve your health. OK. Well, I don't think you can simply look at your diet or exercise routine. 4 spin classes a week and lots of kale is not the solution. You've got to look at the whole picture, all the puzzle pieces. They all work together, though sometimes, you can't really figure out how. Or why. Or maybe you just don't want to know. Maybe you start with diet, and go from there.

Are you eating foods that make you feel good and energized?
If you're eating foods that make you feel bad, why are you eating them?
Are you feeling anxious and stressed? If so, why? 
What makes you feel really good?
How are you sleeping? 
Do you have supportive, nurturing relationships in your life? 
Are you proud of who you are? Do you care?
Do you spread love and positivity? Do you care?
Do you feel better when you exercise?
Do you remind yourself about what you are grateful for?

It's about so much more than food. 

It's about puppies. I spy Abby!

Approaching health holistically is not easy. Rather, for me at least, it's a seemingly life-long sort of challenge. I mean lets get real, I am choosing to make a career out of it. I am constantly reminded that not everything will be in place all at once. There may never be a time where everything is perfect in your life. Or you are perfectly satisfied. Or you feel perfectly aligned.

But being able to adapt to change, express emotion, show compassion, make conscious choices to nourish your body, mind, and your soul, and love others - if that doesn't make you 'healthy,' well then. I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. 

It's about so much more than food. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My 5 Favorite Snacks Right Now

I've always been a snacker, especially during the day. I love a good, big breakfast, and a big, hot dinner, but lunch? No way. I'm not a lunch person at all. I'd much rather snack during the day. All day. Every day. 

This semester, Tuesdays are my longest days. I wake up around 6:30am, head to school for class at 8am, and have classes back to back until 7pm. I have a 45-minute break at 1:15 to 2:15pm, which I usually use to eat, print stuff out, and check email. I know, riveting...

So, on Tuesdays, I pack all the snacks I can get my hands on. I try to keep them pretty healthy because frankly, I need all the energy and nourishment I can get to stay awake (and alert) throughout the day.

I think we all tend to go through phases with food. Am I right? I find a recipe I love, make it over and over again, retire it for a few months, and then resurrect it again, only to remember how much I loved it in the first place. Cough, this 10-spice soup, cough, cough. I think this philosophy applies to snacks as well. 

So, without further ado, here are some simple, fast (key word here) snacks I am loving right now! These take very minimal prep and are totally not glamorous. Because on Tuesdays, I aint got time for that. Get in my belly!

1. Prosciutto wrapped Bosc Pears: My boyfriend loves pears so I always try to keep them around. I love the brown Bosc pears because they are crunchy and sweet. I take a few slices of prosciutto and wrap them around slices of pear for the perfect sweet + salty snack. Plus, the prosciutto gives the snack some good ole fat for staying power. #Passionateaboutpork anyone?

2. Raw Carrots with Salted Almond Butter: I've been loving the colorful, organic carrots lately from Trader Joes. Though I feel a bit like a horse when I eat them (truly), I absolutely love dipping them in salted almond butter. It is the strangest combination, but it works, I promise. The crunchy carrots with the smooth, salty almond butter. Just do it. 

3. Toast with Salted Butter + Hardboiled Egg: I almost always keep a bunch of hardboiled eggs in our refrigerator for the busy week. I'm all about trying to make a snack that has carbs, protein, and fat, and this snack fits that bill perfectly. I take a slice of toast (usually gluten-free, but a sprouted grain toast would work well too), slather on some Kerrygold salted butter, and then chop a hardboiled egg and put it on top. Extra points if you add some black pepper and sea salt. I like this snack before a workout. My motto has always been, when in doubt, put an egg on it!

4. Cinnamon-Vanilla Flax Milkshake: I have been loving this 'milkshake' lately! I've been using my original recipe, but adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder to give it a bit richer of flavor. It is so, so good! The healthy fats from the flax + nut butter really help keep me full. In fact, as I write this post, I am enjoying this milkshake.

5. Dried Mango: So, this isn't the most well-balanced snack, but it's delicious and helps to satisfy my craving for sweets. I love keeping organic dried mango in my cupboard, work bag, and backpack. It keeps for a long time, is chewy, and sweet. 

I am always, always in need of more snack ideas though, so please comment and tell me: what are your favorite snacks right now?

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 over.the.top.

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)...life will not be too bad this weekend. 

Until next time...got 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!