Friday, December 19, 2014

Very Random Life Updates: What I've Been Up To

Hello!

How I missed this little blog! A few weeks ago, I asked one of my best friends to change my Facebook and Instagram passwords. I needed to stop, drop, and focus on finishing out my first semester as a Dietetics student strong. No social media helped a lot, but boy oh boy, did I miss writing!

I feel as though my life has been really uninteresting lately, but also very ridiculous and chaotic. So, I thought I'd share some random, hopefully funny, life updates as of lately.

Can I please just tell you a little bit about my crazy Physiology class? I had to take physiology with lab through a community college this semester (it's a long story why). It was definitely my favorite class, but also the most challenging. My teacher was a Cardiologist, a great teacher, and also very sassy. Which I appreciated. A few of our labs included the following: pricking our own fingers to fill a capillary tube up with blood and then determining our blood type (O+ for me), using our own urine to test for various things, and oh you know, just getting an EKG. Our teacher told us that the first two tests (involving collecting our own blood and urine) were no longer allowed at any other community college in California, except ours. My friend and I found this funny...and a little scary that we were still doing it despite it being banned everywhere else. Lets just say, we tried to clean up real well with Lysol after both labs. I will always have very special memories of that darn Physiology course...

Here I am getting an EKG. No biggie!

Let's talk about Alfredo Sauce. This semester, I wrote a 13-page research paper on Alfredo sauce. I know. Around 30% of the curriculum for Dietetics is focused on food service and production, meaning, learning how to run a safe, sanitary kitchen, because some RDs go off and help run school or hospital cafeterias. For one of my food production classes, I had to write a research paper on a processed food and then recreate a more healthful recipe, and compare the two. I chose a fairly 'not so bad' processed sauce (because I was too lazy to go to Safeway so I purchased mine at Whole Foods) and then recreated a Cauli-Power Alfredo Sauce from my food blogger crush, ohsheglows.com. Needless to say, I really don't want to ever talk about Alfredo sauce again. But I should say, I absolutely love ohsheglow's version of the sauce.

Processed Alfredo Pasta Sauce by Newman's Own

 Blending up my Cauli-Power Alfredo Sauce

Last weekend, I hosted our annual Secret Santa gift exchange with my best friends from growing up in San Luis Obispo. Although not all were able to make it (aka the one who is livin' it up in NYC), it was so much fun to host and the perfect break while studying for finals. I received this beautiful candle from my bestie Kelsey. I also decorated our little table top Christmas Tree from Whole Foods. 

 Beautiful candle from my Secret Santa

So, my friend Julie and I have this ongoing, really weird situation for the past few years. It all started with this little cat toy that makes a "meow" sound when you push on its back. Throughout the years, we try to give it back to each other by hiding it in unknown places. For example, it's been given to me in a Christmas gift bag, I've hid it in her suitcase while traveling, and it has also been hidden in my car. I tried to hide it in her purse at our Secret Santa to give it back to her, and she found it. So now, I'm stuck with this darn cat, plus its new friend, who was given to Julie by her Secret Santa (see tree picture below). These creepy cats will find their way back to Julie's home. Soon.  Watch out, Julie. Watch out.

Creepy cats under our tabletop tree

My dear friend Katie always hosts the most amazing Gingerbread House decorating party every year. It's really an excuse to get together with girlfriends, drink mulled wine, and exchange Secret Santa gifts. Within the first hour, everyone gets really frustrated while making gingerbread houses, so the decorating portion doesn't last long, but the drinking and eating portion does. Side note: Katie's house is always perfect. Anyways, this year I decided to fully commit to my house and channel my inner preschooler decorating abilities. Growing up, my Mom would always have us decorate gingerbread houses using a cut-out milk carton and graham crackers. My big sister also had her own gingerbread house decorating party this year. Let's compare, little sister against big sister:

My gingerbread house

My big sister's gingerbread house

Yes, hers is perfect. 

And finally, what would this post be if it didn't mention food? I am really into combining two of my favorite foods: fresh eggs and sweet potatoes. I made a sweet potato hash for the Secret Santa brunch I hosted and it turned out lovely. I hope to make it again and share the recipe with ya'll. It used my beloved cast iron skillet and was so easy to make. 

Homemade sweet potato hash

Yesterday, I finished finals and I am now officially on Winter Break. It hasn't really hit me yet, but I am more than looking forward to these next four weeks of freedom. I'll be working, volunteering, blogging, yoga-ing, and cherishing time off with my friends and my family. 

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Visit to Sprig!

Disclosure: All opinions below are my own. Sprig provided me with lunch in exchange for my feedback on their service. I asked and received permission from Sprig to post some fun facts about their service on my blog. All images courtesy of Sprig.






It's no secret that I am crazy about Sprig. When I first heard about it from my best friend, I immediately downloaded the app that night and ordered my first delicious meal after a long day at work. Twenty minutes later, my meal was delivered to my apartment by a smiley server who also handed me a delicious gourmet dark chocolate truffle. 

You may be asking, what is Sprig? Sprig is an app that allows you to essentially dine on demand. Right now, it serves San Francisco. But I have a good feeling they'll expand...




Each day, the simple Sprig app features three homemade lunches and three homemade dinners for you to choose from. Lunches are priced at $9 a meal and dinner is priced at $10 a meal, plus tax and delivery. Meals are clearly labeled such as "vegetarian" or "paleo-friendly" and there is always at least one veggie and one gluten-free option, which I appreciate. There are many things I love about Sprig, but what I love most is that their meals are made with real food, which is local, sustainable, and organic, and they are very fairly priced, in my opinion. I could easily drop at least $12 at the Whole Foods hot bar. But these days, I much prefer Sprig to that. 


Grilled local peaches on a bed of watercress and spinach, topped with toasted hazelnuts, prosciutto, and a smoked tomato vinaigrette - Source

Bavette steak crusted with peppercorns, grilled and served with a red wine dijon vinaigrette. Served with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus - Source

I received an email from one of Sprig's co-founders, Morgan, asking me if I'd like to come to Sprig for lunch and provide feedback on the service. I was pretty pumped to get this email, because I obviously get excited over anything good-food related, so I happily obliged. And better yet, Morgan also kindly agreed to answer a few questions about Sprig for the blog. 


I pranced on over to Sprig's 'office' which is located in an old Chevy's restaurant in San Francisco. The office is absolutely beautiful, spacious, and features a huge commercial kitchen in which the dinner meals are made (lunch meals are made in a different location in the city). Over lunch, which was a delicious "Irie Bowl" featuring greens, rice, roasted chicken, pickled veggies with a cumin dressing, I sat with Morgan and answered his questions about Sprig, and then, he answered a few of mine!


Me: So, what exactly is your role at Sprig? 

Morgan: Good question! I am one of the co-founders and I work a lot on visual design, menu design, and the overall culinary strategy. 

Me: Since I'm studying nutrition, when is Sprig going to have nutritional information available for the meals?
Morgan: Nutritional information is on it's way soon. This means, you'll be able to review calories, fat, protein, etc... for each meal on your mobile device. 

Me: How on earth do you keep your prices so very low for the excellent quality of food? 
Morgan: Honestly, it's all about efficiency, scale, and relationships. And, we pay fare wages to our servers. Our head Chef, Nate Keller, has great relationships with local farmers. We believe in and practice responsible sourcing. This can translate into using the whole animal for the meal, rather than just certain parts.*
*(When I heard this, I liked it immediately. Who would want to eat chicken breasts every night anyways...?)

Me: What are you seeing in terms of trends of how San Franciscans like to eat?
Morgan: Our customers continue to surprise us! We'll think something will perform well, but then something else will perform even better. We have data scientists working on figuring out trends, but our customers really do continue to surprise us in terms of what they do and don't order.

Me: Has there ever been a dish that didn't sell very well at all? Which dishes sell really well?

Morgan: We did a kale and ricotta sandwich on focaccia bread. We thought it was great because it was so simple and delicious. However, it was just too simple, and didn't sell all that well. The chefs loved it, but apparently it wasn't as appealing to the customers. As far as top-selling dishes, customers love our Beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin.

What is your favorite Sprig meal?

I tend to prefer fruit-forward dishes, and I really like the Kale Sunrise Salad. Who would think to put granola on a salad? It just works though. We came up with this idea late one night while working. 


San Francisco friends: have you tried Sprig? They've got some incredible guest chefs lined up in the near future...just warning you! Past guest chefs included Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine. Of course, they always have their own great Executive Chef, Nate Keller (former EC at Google). You can use this code to get $10 off (basically a meal!) when you sign up: Duggan929


I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Sprig has continued success and expands across the states, beyond San Francisco. I just really love that they are committed to making it easy for anyone to eat well, and by well, I mean, eat real, darn good food.  














Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Student

5:31am: Alarm goes off. Thank goodness for the time change this past weekend! Time to get ready for yoga, with the boyfriend (I always enjoy this more than he does).

6am - 7am: Vinyasa flow class. I haven't made it to a 6am yoga class in a while, but this was a lovely way to start my day. Sweat, sweat, sweat with a fabulous teacher. I freshen up a bit after class.

7:10am: I convince Brent to grab a quick coffee to go with me across the street before driving home to drop him off and then to school.



7:50am: Park at school and walk to O-Chem class. I'm a morning person, and my favorite part of the morning is drinking coffee or tea and perusing my favorite blogs and websites, before O-Chem of course. 

8:10am-9:30am: Sit in O-Chem lecture, nod my head a lot, though I am really, really confused. My Professor moves so quickly through PowerPoints, and I begin to think about my final midterm next week for this class. Oh, this class...

9:30 to 10:50am: I have a break Tuesdays and Thursdays between classes, so I usually head to the library to study and print various things out. I also eat my overnight oats in a jar! Now that the weather is cooler, I am craving heavier foods. 


Overnight oats with gluten-free oats, flaxseeds, almond milk, coconut butter, and almond butter.

11am to 12:15pm: Foodservice Systems Management class.

12:20 to 12:40pm: After my class, I swing by my O-Chem professor's office hours. Then, I walk back to my car. I'm starting to get hungry so I eat a hardboiled egg that started cracking in my backpack. 



1:30: I decide, last-minute, to drive to the VA Hospital as I need to get an antibody test done and turn in some paperwork before becoming a volunteer in their Nutrition department. When I arrive at the VA, I unfortunately have to sit there for an hour and a half only to find out that I can no longer get this testing done there for free. Major bummer. Majorly frustrating when I could have been using this time to be more productive. And now, I'm majorly hungry! At 3pm, I drive home.

3:30pm: Get home and eat eat eat! I didn't plan to go to the VA this afternoon, so I was beyond starving when I got home. Some things piled up on me today and I kind of lost it, alone, at one point in my car. Sometimes when I'm stressed, it takes just a tiny thing to tip me over. So when I got home, I decided to chill out for a bit and take some yoga breaths (for reals). 


Trail mix from Trader Joe's. If only there were more pistachios in it...

3:45pm to 4:15pm: I heat up leftovers from dinner last night which includes zucchini and carrot noodles with jalapeño sausage and tomato sauce, topped with Pecorino Romano. This tastes so good! I eat while watching the last half of Revenge from the other night. (PS: Revenge has gotten pretty bad...)



4:15pm to 4:45pm: I get ready to go to a volunteer gig I just started. Tonight, I am observing a weight loss support group for morbidly obese people at a medical clinic near my apartment. 

5pm to 7:15pm: I observe the weight loss support group. I absolutely love the RD who I am volunteering for. I take notes and ask lots of questions. After feeling rather frustrated earlier today, as well as overloaded by the thought of my looming O-Chem and Physiology tests, I feel grateful to be pursuing the career I love. Sitting in on this group makes me feel excited to do what I want to do. 

7:30 to 9pm: I walk home and work on my first draft of my budget paper for my Foodservice Management Class. This class involves writing a full business plan, and this budget paper is one of the main components. I have to admit, with all the science involved in my program, I look forward to anytime I get to write. 

9pm: Eat dinner. I know, I know. This is probably too late. My schedule got screwed up today by my spontaneous trip to the VA and my late lunch filled me up until 9pm. I heat up some PaleOMG beef and broccoli (without cashews since I didn't have any), also known as the most delicious dinner. Ever!



9:30pm to 10:30pm: Work on my paper a little more, then catch up on emails. Munch on a large piece of this while thinking to myself that I think I may in fact have a mild food allergy towards bananas...that's another story though.

I go to bed around 11pm. This day was good, but long and emotionally draining for some reason. Probably some built-up stress.

It's a reminder that 1) I worry and stress too much. And 2) There will be challenging days but I must be kind to myself and remain positive. And 3) I need to have a better snack stash in my car and backpack! 






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Coconut Dreams Green Smoothie (gf, dairy-free/vegan)

And just like that, it's almost November. 

I had to take last week off from blogging because my school work had to take priority.  My professor/advisor told me October would be the hardest month of the semester and she was exactly right. Two tests a week on average, large projects due throughout the month; it was non-stop! 

In all honesty, October kicked my booty and completely exhausted my brain. I finished the hardest few weeks today and I've felt slightly deliriously relieved ever since. Even though I only took a week off from the blog, I really missed writing it! And because I am all about keeping it real, just so you know, this entire month involved lots of coffee and sugar and probably not enough sleep or yoga. I feel as though I fell, hard, into the student slump. But that's okay; no one is perfect right? I'm certainly not. Lets just say, I can't wait for yoga tomorrow! 

So I know it's Fall, but it's still super nice in San Francisco. And, throughout this busy month, on days where I wasn't making the greatest food choices, I found myself trying to sneak in greens via my smoothie. Ya'll know I love smoothies. They are super quick. And can be super nutritious. And it's still just warm enough to enjoy them. 


Though I absolutely cannot wait for the crisp Fall air, big pots of soup, and Holidays, I'm still savoring these beautiful days. And drinking this smoothie a lot! 

It's got lots of greens from the frozen spinach and added (optional) Vega One powder. I buy frozen organic spinach for my smoothies now for both cost and texture purposes. As I've mentioned in the past, sunflower seed butter is best used in smoothies, in my humble opinion. But what I love about this smoothie is it is loaded with healthy fats. It will sustain you for a long time, with or without the protein powder. Have I mentioned I love fat? This smoothie is all about the coconut + healthy fats.


I hope you love it as much as I have been loving it! I thought of it as my brain food on days where I just couldn't comprehend any more information on neurotransmitters or organic chemical equations. 

And I served it in a fancy wine glass because sometimes, a girl who's studying in workout clothes at her kitchen table just wants to feel fancy.



Coconut Dreams Green Smoothie
Gluten-free, vegan, hydrating, delicious.

1 1/4 cup coconut water
1 heaping cup frozen spinach
1/3 frozen banana
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 heaping tablespoon sunflower seed butter
3/4 scoop Vega One Vanilla powder, or greens/protein powder of choice, optional (recommended - a Vanilla flavor)

Blend all ingredients together, serve in a fancy glass if you choose, and enjoy!



Friday, October 17, 2014

On a 29th Birthday, 29 Things I've Learned

A few things I have learned in the past 29 years...



1. When in doubt, put an egg on it. Preferably a runny, free-range, farm-fresh one. Get that yolk!

2. Tell someone when you are proud of him or her. We all can use a little boost and extra support. Life can be really tough sometimes. When I am proud of someone, I say it and I mean it. With my recent life and career change, I can't even express how much it means to me every time one of my friends tells me they are proud of me. 



3. When at a wedding, it is totally appropriate to start a Conga Line while dancing to Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long." If you don't like Conga Lines, then you don't like fun.

4. Pay it forward.

5. Do more yoga. Om om om om om. [But really, I know I rave about yoga all the time. I truly believe it's benefits are beyond amazing. The key is finding a teacher / studio you enjoy. And if you can't do that, try a short 20 minute yoga session via you tube or Yoga Glow.]

6. Eat dinner without the TV on once in a while. Smell your food. Appreciate your food. Practice mindful eating. Rest and digest.

7. Try to find an activity you enjoy for exercise. I think of my dear friend Lauren, who bought a Groupon for classes at a boxing gym earlier this year. Now, she does the boxing boot camps and absolutely loves them. It took her a while to find her exercise jam, but she found it. And she loves it!

8. Find ways to relax your mind. For me, this means yoga or watching my "bad" TV shows like Revenge or Scandal. After a hard day's work, my brain needs a break and frankly, I don't feel badly for watching bad TV for an hour or two.

9. The spiralizer will change your life. Just do it.



10. Handwritten thank you card > Email thank you. When I was still working in my advertising job, one candidate, fresh-out-of-college, wrote and mailed me a handwritten thank you note. It was well-written, relevant to our conversation, and kind. He got the job. I never forgot it, either! It's an old classic.

11. Don't skip breakfast. And make sure your breakfast involves protein. I repeat, do not skip breakfast.

12. I am still a cat person. Sorry I'm not sorry. 



13. Group texts with good friends are necessary. They make me smile.

14. Felicity is still really, really good. Team Ben then. Team Noel now.

15. Be a little more self-forgiving. Hot damn we can be hard on ourselves. I am extremely good at this! No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and learning from our mistakes really is the best way to learn. 

16. Learn to say no. And own it. <-----This is one of the greatest things I have learned in the past two years. My wise and beautiful friend Zoe told me this one morning while on a run and I will never, ever forget it. At some point in your life, you realize that you really can say no when you need to, and you shouldn't feel so guilty about it. You can't do everything. And you can't be everywhere. When I say no, I struggle a lot with feeling guilty, however, I'm working on this. 

17. Help other people and be kind. Karma is real. 

18. Always save the bacon fat. Fry some greens in it. So. good.

19. Grown-up sleepovers are totally a thing. Two of my very best girlfriends somewhat regularly sleep over when my boyfriend is out of town. I feed them (cinnamon raisin toast with butter for Jaqui and zoodles for Julie). They make me laugh. We giggle. We're silly. It's the best.

20. Don't ever trick your midwestern boyfriend who is afraid of eating Indian food for fear of public digestion-disaster issues into going out to dinner and surprising him with an Indian Food feast. You will owe him many, many things. 

21. Eat more bison burgers. Bison tastes like a lean beef and is full of healthy fats. I love a good bison burger.

22. It still isn't always your fault. Really. Ease up a little. 

23. Hydration is so important. So simple, but so important. Keep drinking water throughout the day (critical for good digestion) and avoid plastic water bottles. 

24. For all my San Franciscans - I can't believe I'm spilling this, but I think my favorite restaurant in the city is totally Cocotte. Don't tell anyone...but tell everyone. The roast chicken and cocottes are ridiculous. And the restaurant makes me feel like I am back in Paris. 

25. Not all trips have to be trips. Some can be vacations. Do you know what I mean? I used to be all about the traveling to see a new place. And while this is still usually my preference, sometimes, you just need a relaxing, Vitamin-D filled trip. Poipu, Kauai is my happy place. 



26. This guy is my happy place too. He laughs with me and comforts me when I worry too much, lets me listen to The Today Show with the volume way too loud every morning, and 98% of the time trusts whatever I'm putting on his plate (see number 20).



27. Spread love. Tell whoever you love, how much you love them. Tell them often. 

28. It's probably not too late for you to go for it - your dreams matter and please remember that. You can do it! Please don't give up.

29. Always have gratitude. As the homeless man on the corner once told me two years ago: too blessed to be stressed. 

Too blessed, to be stressed.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Event Recap: An Evening of Empowerment - Holistic Breast Health Empowerment & Breast Cancer Prevention


Last week, I was lucky enough to attend an educational event in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is in October. It was kindly hosted by Senspa, a local spa in San Francisco. The event was moderated by Naturopathic doctor Claire Graser, and featured a variety of alternative medicine practitioners, including a Naturopathic Doctor and Oncology Massage Therapist. 

When I received the email invitation with the agenda for the event, I knew I absolutely had to go:

· Learn about external harmful estrogens in our
daily life from Dr. Claire Graser, ND
· Why breast cancer rates in Sonoma and Marin
Counties are among the highest in the world and what you can do
to protect yourself - Chris Holder, Oncology ND
· A participatory class that will incorporate gentle
movement and lecture on lymphatic system function. - Ollie
Lobeck, Fajardo Method® Practitioner

I was especially interested in hearing from Dr. Holder, as he attended the renowned Bastyr University (just outside of Seattle, Washington). Bastyr University is the leading school in alternative medicine in the United States. I was fortunate enough to tour the campus last year, and although I couldn't make it work to attend their RD program, being on their campus had a significant impact in my decision to go back to school to become an RD

Dr. Chris Holder's talk on breast cancer prevention was incredibly thought-provoking and inspiring, as well as backed up by lots and lots of research. He is one of the most eloquent, detail-oriented, yet unpretentious speakers I've come across. There were many take-home points for me, but among the highlights, included the following:
  • At the root of cancer, there are three things: DNA damage, growth signals for cells to keep growing, and immune system suppression
    • Keep in mind, stress suppresses the immune system
    • Certain things can sit on our estrogen receptors and cause unwanted cellular growth - things such as pesticides (many are stored in fatty tissues), phthalates (what makes plastic soft and brittle and is also in many cosmetics, nail polishes, enterically coated pills, just to name a few), Bisphenol A or BPA (did you know this is in receipts?!)
  • Lets shift away from a mammogram being considered the only "preventative" measure but rather, more used for detection. A mammogram detects calcification in the breast tissue. Just because a mammogram is negative, does not mean you don't have cancer, especially if there is a lump; it's not perfect (nothing really is), but we should feel empowered to take preventative measures in other areas of our life. 
    • Note: There is a lot of controversy over mammogram use. Some argue that excess radiation can cause cancer, while others say that mammograms use such a small amount, that the risk is small. However, there are other options for those who choose to opt out of a mammogram. A Thermogram does not expose a patient to ionizing radiation and is considered an alternative to mammograms. It is not perfect either, but uses infra-red technology instead of radiation. Thermograms are FDA-Approved but still considered "investigational" in the US.
    • MRIs are an excellent way to detect cancer, however, they are so expensive that it is not as practical to utilize them in this way.
Though the subject was serious, the tone was educational and empowering. We can all educate ourselves and make small changes to help lead healthier, less toxic lives. Here are some recommendations:
  • Avoid using plastic or styrofoam containers (and avoid heating in them); opt for glass containers
  • Avoid food from cans lined with BPA, especially acidic foods such as tomatoes 
  • Check to see how your cosmetics rate in terms of toxicity 
    • In all honesty, this is the hardest one for me to do because cosmetics are expensive. So rather than do an overhaul of all my cosmetics, I have slowly, over time, purchased less-toxic alternatives. I love 100% Pure facial products, by the way!
    • The Environmental Working Group has a consumer-friendly Skin Deep cosmetics database, which rates cosmetics on a scale of 1 to 9 in terms of toxicity: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
  • Buy mattresses that do not have flame retardants
  • Diet: eat real, whole foods. Eat organic and avoid pesticides. Limit refined sugar and processed foods. 
    • Unfortunately, eating organic isn't always available or accessible. Try checking out the Dirty Dozen list to help prioritize which foods should be bought organic: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
    • Also, remember that you can often find frozen organic produce for cheaper than fresh. The freezer can be your friend!
When I left the session, I felt inspired, empowered, but also, frustrated. Deeply frustrated. During my time at Bauman College, I learned a lot about food politics and the corruption in the food and farming industries. And attending this session further emphasized how prevalent corruption in these industries is, especially in the United States. Just the simple fact that the European Union has banned so many foods that are sold widely in the US frustrates me. Or that it is nearly impossible in the US to get clean research funded to support alternative health approaches that might not make certain companies billions of dollars. 

But alas, I digress. 

Like I said, I left feeling inspired and empowered to keep educating myself on disease prevention. I believe in approaching health holistically or "wholistically" as my lovely mentor always says. This event was a reminder that we must continue to nurture both ourselves and others, and respect the body, mind, and spirit connection.



*Note: This event at Senspa was free and open to the public. I was not compensated for this post. I did ask permission to post about the event. All opinions are my own. The information discussed in the above post was presented in slides and referenced; I am not a Doctor but simply wanted to share my take-aways.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Sleeping In, Instead of Working Out

I've been thinking a lot lately about sleep. 



I am 100% a morning workout person. I always have been. I like getting my endorphins first thing in the morning, just like my Mom taught me. Now, I'd say, for the past year and prior to starting school full-time, I was pretty committed to morning workouts (mostly yoga). And I'll be really honest and say, I definitely strolled into my former advertising job a few days a week around 9:30am or 9:45am and not 9am on the dot, just so I could fit in a workout that started at 7am rather than 6am. [However, anyone that works in advertising knows that's fairly normal...especially if you're a creative. For a marketing/account folk like I was, it wasn't as normal, but was still acceptable]. 

But now, my life is very different. It's better too. But different. 

Now, each day, Monday through Sunday, has its own unique schedule. 

Now, all my priorities have shifted, except my commitment to my relationships with my loved ones.

Now, work is no longer a priority, unless I am physically at work, working (serving). I do not take work home with me (holy moly - this is amazing, by the way, after six years of doing the opposite).

Now, school is a top priority. And that means, my brain is constantly being stimulated. Neurons are getting fired like woah. And while I am loving learning new things, I am also finding that, simply put... I am tired more often.

I have also come to the realization that while working in my last job, though I did quite well, I was not really using my brain. This is an honest yet sad realization, especially given the duration of my time in that role (over four years).

There is lots of information out there about how much one should sleep. And I'm not here to answer that. I just wanted to share how I am feeling and to reiterate that sleep is a good thing and it is very important to listen to your body when it comes to sleeping. Our bodies are so damn smart and when we sleep, lots of amazing things happen to help us continue to live healthfully.

Did you know when you sleep, your body repairs the metabolic damage caused by free radicals? Free radicals are essentially the bad guys, are toxic, and accumulate with age, and antioxidants are the good guys that fight free radicals. That's why we hear "eat your antioxidants" or "those blueberries - antioxidant rich!" 
Bottom Line: Sleep helps with metabolic repair and metabolism. And let me just emphasize, sleep is critical for healthy metabolism. 

Did you know that when you sleep, your brain consolidates short-term memory into long-term memory? This is key for me right now with all my studying! Sleep also allows receptors in our brain to "rest and reset" so they remain sensitive. Sleep helps you remember the stuff you need to remember and be able to retrieve information faster.
Bottom Line: Sleep helps with memory and retention.

Oh, not to mention, when you sleep,  your liver works very hard to detoxify your system. And that detox is oh so important, given all the toxins in our world today (not to sound like a downer).


So lately, there have been some mornings where I just feel that I must sleep in an extra 30 minutes or hour, because I am really, truly tired. This means, skipping my planned morning workout. 

Do I love missing my morning workout? No. But there are days where I need the extra sleep more than the workout. 

I am so, so stubborn when it comes to my 'routine,' especially with working out. However, I am accepting that listening to my body and honoring its needs is more important. Especially right now. So I don't make it to yoga in the morning? No biggie - I'll just do a HIIT workout* in my living room as a study break later in the day, if I can and if it feels right. 

So whether you are a student or not, are you listening to your body? Are you giving yourself a chance to properly rest and reset your mind and body? Don't feel lazy because you slept in and missed your bootcamp one morning. Sometimes, you really need it. Learning to listen to your body is much easier said than done, because we are stubborn and are good at feeling guilty for not doing something (myself included). But I challenge you to pay attention and try. Because we all deserve a little extra rest once in a while. 


*I love free HIIT workouts and especially love the Fitnessista's You Tube Channel <-------- She is one of my favorite healthy living bloggers who offers excellent workouts (a variety of kinds, including Barre, Ab burners, Zumba, HIIT, etc...) for free. Among my favorite are her Tabata workouts which are 4 minutes short and HIIT. I highly recommend checking her out if you feel like you need to switch things up and have limited time to work out! 

**Note: sleep quality is a whole other issue, and if there is interest, I'm happy to do a post on it in the near future.




Sunday, October 5, 2014

Some Eats, Lately

Another week has arrived! And it is already technically Fall, which means it is finally Summer in San Francisco. We may be a little behind on the weather front in San Francisco, but we make up for by being forward in other ways, I suppose.

During this past first week of October, I felt the sun shining on my back all day long, and I embraced the warm evenings with our apartment's screen door wide open. 

Life is picking up and the month of October is probably the busiest month yet...of this entire year. Lots of midterms will be involved, as well as lots of visits from friends near and far, a visit to wine country, a few friends birthday celebrations, and even a wedding. 

On the food-front lately, things have been fairly simple. I'm trying to be somewhat diligent  (but not drive-myself-crazy diligent) about packing food to-go for school or late-night labs. I am also focusing on hydrating all day long. Hydration is so important, whether it be for cleansing, skin health, or digestive health. Lack of hydration is one of the main issues I see with nutrition clients. You can estimate how much water to drink daily (rough estimate) by dividing your body weight in half and drinking that many ounces. Plus more for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage or exercise. I know it sounds so very simple, but it really can make a positive difference.

Now that we're all thirsty, here are my eats, as of lately. 

2 fried eggs with lots of red pepper flakes + 3 Medjool dates stuffed with almond butter & cinnamon

Overnight gluten-free oats in a jar with almond milk, flaxseeds, and almond butter. I don't eat oatmeal a lot, because it doesn't fill me up for more than an hour or two, at most. However, this tasted good during an early morning study session at the library and was a perfect on-the-go breakfast.

 Smoothie in the Vitamix...right before it broke 

Ice, frozen mixed berries, frozen spinach, coconut milk (from the can - it makes the smoothie so creamy), sunflower seed butter, 1 date. Organic frozen spinach is great for smoothies!

Staff meal at work: endive, radicchio, arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette + Grana Padano cheese (like a mild Parmesan), with a few bites of eggs with onions. My work makes really, really good, fresh, sustainable food. Just sayin' 

Gluten-free pizza dinner courtesy of Paxtis - my favorite Salsiccia pizza with fennel sausage and ricotta; the perfect meal to accompany a night of Physiology studying 

Spaghetti squash roasted, then topped with jalapeño chicken sausage, broccoli, tomatoes, and nutritional yeast - similar to my recipe here

What have you been eating lately? Please do share!

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Favorite 15-minute Meal (right now): Cheesy Pesto Zoodles (gluten-free, vegan-friendly)

These days, I don't have time to spend hours and hours in the kitchen to cook a meal. Between schooling, working, volunteering, studying, friending, boyfriending, and the occasional zoning out...ain't nobody got time for that. 

So lately, I've been keeping it simple. And I'd like to share my not-so-secret weapon for easy, quick, nutritious meals: the spiralizer (and this is the exact one I purchased).

Yup. It's back. It never left. And it's not going anywhere. Sorry (but not sorry) to my midwestern fellow.

My favorite meal right now is no-fuss, easy to throw together, and absolutely delicious! Here is how I make it happen in 15 minutes in my tiny kitchen.


The finished product


Side note: you could easily make this recipe by subbing spaghetti squash for zucchini noodles, especially if you don't have a spiralizer. But, I highly recommend getting a spiralizer - it's so affordable!

I spiralize my zucchini and create beautiful zoodles. I place them in a bowl, and heat them up for a minute to get some of the water released. Then, I take a paper towel and squeeze the zoodles as they release some water. This is the quickest/laziest way to get this done.



In a pan, I heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add chopped up a chicken sausage - this day, I used spicy jalapeño. I cook the chicken sausage while I finish the zoodles. 

I place a few dollops of pesto (store bought) on the zoodles and mix it in, gently; sprinkle in a few sundried tomatoes. Then, I place the zoodles in the microwave for another minute or so, and heat them until they are hot. 

Once the sausage is done, I put it on top of the zoodles, sprinkle with pecorino romano. Garnish the plate with some nutritional yeast for your extra B-vitamins. 




Voila! This meal is gluten-free, can be made vegetarian/vegan friendly by omitting the Pecorino and sausage, and is so good. Seriously. I've eaten it three nights in a row.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Journey to Become an RD: The First Month & My Biggest Challenge, plus the Winner of Honey & Soul Paleo Goodies Giveaway


Coffee shop studying essentials: green smoothie + gluten-free chocolate chip cookie

I've made it through the first month of my four semester, 2-year-long Dietetics program.  And guess what I am learning about? 


Patience. 

I don't consider myself a particularly patient person. Now my big sister? She's got all the patience in the world. Patience is tutoring your little sister, for free, every day after school so she can get an average score on the SATs and get into college. That, my friends, is patience. As well as big-sister unconditional love.

I am learning patience. Patience with finding a new part-time job (waitressing). Patience with learning said part-time job (seven training shifts, six in-depth food and wine tests, folks). Patience with my weird, shifting schedule of all my responsibilities that isn't set in stone. Overall, I am learning to be patient as things (school, work, volunteering) come together during this transition. 

Key part of that sentence above is learning. I never said I was patient yet. 

I am Type A. I want to know how all my puzzle pieces come together: my projected budget and income, my work schedule, my workout schedule (yoga is my jam!), my study schedule, my volunteer schedule, and then, on top of all that, my social schedule and my day (s) off. But this hasn't all come together quite yet. And I am realizing, that everything will come together when it just freaking comes together. So I need to be patient.

Figuring out a new life takes time, after all.

I bring this up because in the past few weeks, I have received numerous emails from people considering going back to school to become an RD. And I love getting these emails, because I was once the person emailing with such questions, and I was so grateful to anyone who helped me out. 

Going into this program, sure, I was worried about all the science (there is no escaping chemistry, organic chemistry, or biochemistry on the road to become an RD). But as I've said in emails to people, you just get through it, because you have to. (And you hire a great tutor, who is patient.) The biggest challenge for me, thus far, has been being patient as I find my new groove, which is so very different from my old one. And maybe I will never have as true of a routine as I did when I was working full-time, and that totally freaks me out, but it's something I will just have to embrace. 

Just like the organic chemistry. 

*Congratulations to Abigail P. - you are the winner of the Paleo goodies giveaway courtesy of Honey & Soul! Abigail, please email me at lauraduggan7@gmail.com - thank you to everyone who entered! 


Monday, September 15, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Honey & Soul Paleo Goodies

*Disclaimer: Honey & Soul sent me a goodie box with a few different flavors of their paleo-friendly cookies (gf). All opinions in this blog post are my own, as always.

I think it is safe to say that cookies are probably one of my favorite things to eat for dessert. And by dessert, I mean, after any meal at any time of the day. I never said I was perfect...

#cookiemonster



These days, with school, working, and volunteering, I am all about keeping my diet uncomplicated, realistic, nutritious, but totally enjoyable too. Because the best part of food is being able to enjoy it, right? And sometimes, when you are studying O-chem, or as I like to refer to it, "OH-NO-Chem," you just need a darn cookie.

I was lucky enough to receive a goodie box with a few different flavors of Honey & Soul's paleo cookies. Let's just say, the box didn't last very long in our apartment. 

Honey & Soul uses only real, high quality ingredients you can pronounce, so there's no fake stuff. Almonds, dates, maple syrup, coconut flour - just to name a few basic ingredients. The cookies contain no grains/no dairy/no gluten/no soy and are paleo-friendly.

The flavors I tried were: 
  • Double Chocolate Sea Salt Pecan Cookie
  • Chunky Monkey Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookie
  • Coconut N'Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie (my favorite...big time)
I absolutely loved the Coconut N'Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie. It had that hint of coconut, lovely oaty flavor, and then of course, big chocolate chunks that won me over. The boyfriend absolutely devoured a few of the Double Chocolate Sea Salt Pecan Cookies, even admitting "these are good for a gluten-free cookie." That's big. Trust me. I also just noticed they offer a cookie of the month subscription...danger. 

Winnie at Honey & Soul has very kindly offered to give one lucky She Eats Well reader a box of sample goodies (9 goodies!). I love Winnie's story and am all about supporting a fellow business woman. So, how can you enter? A few ways, because we're all about options here and the more you choose to do, the higher your chances. 

3) Follow She Eats Well on Instagram
4) Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite type of cookie! 

If you do any of the above 1-3, please leave a comment letting me know which you've done and your favorite type of cookie!  I'll randomly select a winner by this Saturday 9/20.


Your inner cookie monster will thank you.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Recipe: One Pot Red Coconut Curry with Vegetables (gluten-free, vegan, paleo)

Let me tell you a story about curry.

I love different types of food: Thai (I waitressed my way through college at a Thai restaurant), Ethiopian, French, Indian, and the list goes on. But goodness gracious, do I love me some good Indian food - especially that Chicken Tikka Masala. Well, the boyfriend isn't too keen on the Indian food. In fact, it's not that he doesn't care for it, it's that he is scared of trying it because of what he thinks it could do to his, shall we say, digestion.  

This is because one of his best friends ate Indian food a few years back (yes, years back) and had some, well, stomach problems immediately after. 

I think this is one experience, experienced by someone who is not my boyfriend. This single experience does not define everyone! But my boyfriend begs to differ.

Now, why on earth am I telling you this story? Well, one, because I think it is hilarious. And two, because, I truly love curry - whether it be Indian or Thai or whatever! It's delicious, flavorful, and warming, which can be great for digestion. And I especially love Thai red curry, which is spicier, when made with coconut milk. 

This curry recipe is made with Thai red curry paste and is fool proof. These days, I am all about simple, no-fuss, one-pot meals. I like to make a decent-sized batch of something so my fridge isn't sad and empty when I peek in during the week.

And lets just say, there were no accidents after eating this curry. This one-pot, Thai curry, is what I like to refer to as "Midwestern-boyfriend approved."

Amen. 

One Pot Red Coconut Curry with Vegetables
Gluten-free, vegan, paleo
4 to 5 servings

7 garlic cloves, chopped
1 - 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled & chopped
2 jalapeños (or 1 if you don't like a little heat)
1/2 large onion or 1 medium yellow onion
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
1 zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 cups squash (I used Kabocha and it was to.die.for)/sweet potato, chopped
2 bell peppers, sliced (doesn't matter which color)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cans coconut milk (lite)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1 lime, to squeeze right before serving

*Just a note, you can really use any veggies of your choice, but I recommend having 1 starchy vegetable like squash or sweet potatoes

Chop the garlic cloves, peel and chop the ginger, chop the jalapeños, and slice the onion. In a soup pan, add the coconut oil. Then, add your base of chopped goods: garlic, ginger, jalapeño(s), and onion. Saute over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions become translucent.


Then, add everything else in, except the lime. Bring the soup to a boil and then put a lid on it and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the starchy vegetable (squash or sweet potato) is cooked (easily pierced with a fork). 


Stir and taste; you may need to add more salt. I added more salt and more chili powder in the end, as I prefer my curry spicy. 

Serve hot in a bowl and squeeze some lime on top; it makes a good difference so don't omit this step. Happy eating!

I like this curry because in each bite, you get hunks of garlic and ginger. I hope you love it too!