Thursday, August 28, 2014

Virtual Smoothie Date

Let's have a virtual smoothie date. Again! ...Smoothie season is dwindling down, after all. Soon, these Summer nights are going to be darker and crisper, and there's going to be a whole lot of pumpkin everywhere. 

If we were having a smoothie date right now, I'd tell you that this past week was C-R-A-Z-Y! It was my first week in my post-bacc RD program, and I pretty much just did what I had to do to get through the week. Lots of new faces, lots of orientations and new classes, and lots of getting lost on campus (a sense of direction is something I seriously lack). But, while I have worries about getting good grades and doing well academically, I have no doubts about why I am doing what I am doing. And that feels really, really good. 

It's amazing to finally feel like you're where you're supposed to be. 

If we were having a smoothie date right now, I'd tell you that I read some great, thought-provoking posts and articles this week. I love the diversity of the blog world. Here are a few things that really resonated with me: 

Five Reasons You're Not Losing Weight, by The Real Life RD:
(I love how this post goes beyond food; it's about ensuring you're taking care of yourself too)

Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health by Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD: 
(I love reading the comments on this article - it just reminds me of how everyone is unique) by The Minimalist Baker 
(OK, not thought-provoking, but I can't get these off my mind. Must make! With olive oil, not Canola oil, of course)

And finally, I would also tell you that in all honesty, I felt very uninspired in the kitchen this past week. I think this was because of all the change happening in my life, as well as the fact that I don't have a routine established quite yet. And that's OK. That's why sometimes, we really have to take life day by day, sometimes. However, Thursday was a special day. My boyfriend turned 29 years young! Unfortunately, he was traveling for work for the past few days, even on his birthday. I decided to bake him a cake, homemade, my Mom's style (or Debbie D's style, as I like to refer to it). I bought all the ingredients (can you say gluten? The things I make for those I love!) and spent a few hours in the kitchen baking my Mom's chocolate cake with cream cheese chocolate frosting. And can I tell you something? Frosting this cake was so therapeutic. Something about holding that knife, swirling pillowy frosting around, smoothing the edges, in silence, with just the window open. I could have done it for hours. But alas, I finished the cake. And we celebrated, in our small apartment that smelled like butter and sugar. I made sure he made a really, really good wish. Because he deserves for it to come true. 

We had our cake. And we ate it too. Happy Birthday B!

And a very happy long weekend to you all! 

XO Laura

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WIAW: A Snackin' Kind of Day + A Simple Socca Recipe (vegan, gluten-free)

I am in my first week of my post-bacc program and on my way to becoming an RD.  This week has been full of so very much, and I hope to be able to share my journey on this blog soon.

But today - lets talk food! 

Today was one of those days where I wanted all the snacks, all the carbs, and all the sweets. Give them all to me, please!

Today was one of those days where I didn't feel like eating big meals all day, I just wanted to eat snacks. I do what I want!

Today was one of those days where I realized, OMG, I am really doing this - I am a student now! Holy moly. 

Today was one of those days where I got some good advice about embracing transitions from the dearest of all them all, Marla. (PS: have you made Marla's Raw Tomato Sauce yet? I've got heirloom tomatoes waiting for me in my fridge...)

"Things will happen as they are meant to. Sometimes it takes a lot to be accepting of that. Breathe and know that good things will come."


So, all in all, today was a good day. This is What I Ate Wednesday!

I woke up bright and early to get ready for my morning at school. It was a foggy morning, and I wanted some toast. My lovely friend Lauren recommended a new-to-me gluten-free bread, Canyon Bakehouse, to me. I toasted a slice this morning, slathered on some almond butter, honey, and flax seeds, and smiled. I'm not a big bread person, but if it's slathered in all the right stuff, it is darn good. So good, I had another slice!

Gluten-free toast with almond butter, honey drizzles, & flax seeds - plus one more slice, not pictured

I think my morning Organic Chemistry class scared my appetite off for a few hours. Either that, or that toast lasted me a long time...despite not a ton of protein. I had a green smoothie as a second sort-of breakfast during my second class. 

Smoothie with ice, greens, coconut water, almond milk, coconut oil, Vega One Vanilla

Then, it was home for exercise and study-time. I did a HIIT exercise courtesy of The Fitnessista. I love her blog, and whenever I want to switch things up (and get my butt kicked), I will do a few of her You Tube workout videos, in my living room (which is tiny). Today I did Tabatas and strength training. Lets just say, I am already sore. 

Post-workout late lunch was some leftover chicken thighs and padron peppers. 

Chicken thighs & padron peppers - hard to make chicken look pretty

And then some trail mix to keep me awake studying...

Yes, those are white chocolate chunkers

And then dinner. Let me tell you about this dinner! I wanted allthecarbs and also wanted to use up some shrimp I had in the freezer. So, I made a good ole socca in my cast iron skillet. Then, I cut myself a hearty slice, slathered some pesto on, and topped it with some shrimp n' greens stir fry. 

My socca masterpiece - socca with pesto & shrimp stir fry & nutritional yeast

And of course, sprinkled it with nutritional yeast. 

This was so, unexpectedly good.

I finished off my night with a few bites of coconut ice cream (spoiler alert: not as good as real ice cream). 

Now, let me share my lazy socca recipe with you. Socca is made with garbanzo bean flour. It's dense and fibrous. I was so full, I couldn't eat the portion on my plate.

There are a billion different socca recipes, and the great thing about them is they are so customizable. You can make them sweet or savory simply by including certain spices, or you could even put sautéed veggies in the socca. 

Here was my method, which is very lazy, compared to say, Mark Bittman's

The Lazy Girl's Socca
Vegan, gluten-free, makes 1 big socca (2 servings)

1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (I ran out of EVOO)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sprinkle of Cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Grease a round-pan; I used my cast-iron skillet and it worked out lovely! In a bowl, add the garbanzo bean flour and then add warm water in, whisking as you go. It may be clumpy, and that is OK. Try to get the clumps out, but don't go nuts. Then, add the oil and spices. 

Place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and serve warm.

*You'll know it is done by feeling it. Socca is very, very dense and if you feel the center of the socca, it will feel a bit firm. Remember it will still cook a bit as it cools. 

**I spread pesto on top of my socca, and then dumped some stir-fry on it. However, socca would be wonderful with many different toppings!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

WIAW: Whacked Out

When stress hits, how does it affect your appetite? 

How about anxiety? Sadness? Celebration? Do those feelings affect your appetite?

Sure, our brains are smart, but our body as a whole is quite amazing. The whole how-the-body-works-thing, is something I could study for a lifetime. But what I do know is this:

Our appetite, food choices, and ability to digest and absorb (nutrients) properly is most definitely effected by the emotions we are experiencing and the situations we are in.

For example, to over-simplify, calm/happy/grateful = better digestion and absorption, while stressed/angry/anxious = poor digestion and absorption. 

The mind-body connection is real! 

You've heard the whole, cave man running from a lion story, right? Well, back in the day, our good ole ancestors encountered some pretty darn crazy danger, such as, being chased by a hungry lion. That must have been stressful! In order to deal with said danger, they ran. Fast like Forrest. And during that time, they weren't thinking, "what will I eat for dinner" or "oh man, I feel bloated." They were thinking, "run faster, keep going, run faster, must escape to be safe." Or something like that. Their digestive systems were temporarily 'off' while their fight-or-flight response focused on the most necessary parts of the body to get them through the stress - the heart, the muscles, etc...

So yeah, times have changed. And, stressors have, evolved, shall we say? We're no longer running from lions (gosh I hope not), but rather, stressing over a work presentation or the holidays, freaking out about a career change (guilty), or feeling frustrated and yelling while on mute on a conference call (don't you dare deny that). 

So while stressors have evolved, our stress response has too, in a way. Our body responds to the above stressors in the same way in which it responded when our ancestors ran from lions. That seems weird, right?

In simplified terms: we're whacked out...too often.

Is that even a word? You get my gist. The whole point of this post is that today, I was feeling a bit anxious. I was stressed about my to-do list and all the important things I wanted to accomplish in the next few days, before I start school full time. I was running on adrenaline all day. I wasn't running from a lion for 10 hours. I was stressed over my to-do list.

And you know what? My body was affected. In all honesty, I don't think I ate enough at certain points today and my digestion was probably a little off. I was all about the go-go-go, and that's ok, it happens. But hot damn, lets try to minimize how often that happens. 

Acknowledge how you feel and why you feel that way. Try to find healthy ways to cope with those feelings. Learn, and move forward. And be gentle and kind to yourself. Eating well is great, but being able to digest and absorb nutrients, and nourish your body, is even better.

People tell me they enjoy my WIAW posts. I love that you love them too! This is me keeping it real. I'm human.

This is What I Ate Wednesday!

Egg, Spinach, & Bacon breakfast frittata; recipe to come! With a cup of coffee, not pictured.

Mid-morning snack while on-the-go + a big ole ice water bottle

Coconut-green smoothie for lunch; must post this recipe soon, too! 

An example of NOT practicing mindful to-do list + 2 more pages

Late dinner - two slices gluten-free toast with salted butter + zoodles, kale, & grilled chicken with peanut sauce (OMG yum)

Tomorrow is a new day. A chance for even more delicious food. 

If you have a topic you'd like me to do a post on, please email me

Happy almost weekend!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Trip in Kauai

I think any airport in Hawaii is most likely one of the saddest airports, ever. I mean, who wants to leave Hawaii? I sure didn't.

We spent seven magnificent, relaxing yet also active days on the island of Kauai with our friends. This is my second time to this island in particular. I just love it there and it's by far my favorite Hawaiian island. It has the most dramatic landscape, with the turquoise ocean filled with sea turtles, lush acres of greenery, and tall mountains. We stayed in Kapaa for a few days which is on the east side of the island, then rounded the trip out in Poipu, on the southern end of the island.

Here were my personal favorite experiences on the island! I hope a little rest, relaxation, and recharge is in every one's near future.

View from our Lanai (balcony) in Poipu

Eats: Overall, all the 'nicer' restaurants (especially those at the resorts) are fairly overpriced, in my opinion. I realize living in San Francisco also makes me automatically spoiled when it comes to food. While it was fun to go to a few nicer dinners, the more casual, street joints were just as delicious, in my opinion. 
  • Da Crack in Poipu: Amazingly fresh, sustainable, and reasonably priced Mexican food. This is a to-go only spot, but well worth eating while watching the sunset. With a glass of Sauvingon Blanc perhaps. Or a margarita.

  • Aloha Aina Juice Bar in Poipu: This juice bar is located in the back of the market. They serve fresh Acai bowls and all sorts of fresh delicious smoothies. In this smoothie was almond milk, bananas, blueberries, kale, and vanilla protein powder. So refreshing!
  • Living Foods Market in Poipu: A really expensive, but fun to explore market in Poipu, which carries lots of speciality items; it's sort of like a tiny Whole Foods. The best part is their breakfast menu, which features delicious gluten-free crepes, among other yummy, organic dishes.
  • Al Pastor Taco Truck in Kapaa: We stumbled upon this little taco truck after an early afternoon of surfing. I had the garlic shrimp tacos which were so good! Again, affordable, fresh, and delicious.
To Do: Where do I even start? There is so much to do in Kauai, but on our trip, we stuck to hiking, surfing, boogie-boarding, and exploring different beaches. 
  • Hanakapiai Falls Hike on Napali Coast: Let me preface by saying I am so glad we did this hike. However, this hike is no joke. It's four tedious, steep, rocky miles to get to the famous waterfall with pools of mountain spring water in which you can swim in. We may or may not have passed a man who had fallen and was bleeding from the mouth. Lets just say, I felt lucky to trek the 8 miles round trip and still have all my limbs, though covered in mud. The views were incredible. Almost fake-looking; so beautiful. 

Champagne sunset tradition at the St. Regis in Princeville, which is on the northern part of the island 

Sunset from the St. Regis in Princeville
  • Brennecke's Boogie Boarding Beach in Poipu: Or as our friend we were traveling with called it, "shredding." The best part about this beach is that it is pretty small, but everyone is boogie boarding on it. The waves are perfect (pretty big this time of year!) for boogie boarding, and occasionally a sea turtle will just nudge up against you. So cool!

Random Tips: 
  • Rent a car: it's worth it. The island is totally driveable, not to mention, oozing with lush, gorgeous scenery to make any road trip totally pleasant. 
  • Enjoy the food trucks: there are tons of taco trucks, but also, fun little juice and smoothie stands. 
  • Buy a rash guard: if you are a "serious shredder" aka me (totally joking), it will help to ensure that you don't flash everyone on the beach as you ride that wave in.
  • Rent a VRBO or Air BNB:  all the beaches in Kauai are public, so you have access to any and all of them, essentially. It's fairly easy to find a rental that is very close to the beach and that also has a pool. We split it between 4 people, making it very affordable. Meals can get really expensive if you're eating out at every one, so I highly recommend having a little kitchen for easy breakfasts and packing lunches. We stayed at the most amazing apartment in Poipu Shores, which overlooked the ocean and also had a pool. Non-stop turtle watching, 24/7. 
Our VRBO's pool in Poipu

Mr. Turtle saying hello; as seen from our Lanai in Poipu

Mahalo, Kauai. 

Back to reality. I start my RD schooling next week! As I arrived back to foggy San Francisco on the red eye this morning, I promised myself to keep a little bit of the loveliness that was Kauai with me.

See you later this week with WIAW.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Oh Kauai, you get me.

View from our Lanai in Poipu - no biggie. Also, where I am currently blogging.

The most gorgeous, rocky, challenging hike along the Napali Coast

Napali Coast hike - before the real rock climbing began...

Victorious arrival at Hanakapiai Falls - swimming in fresh mountain spring water

Mexican food at Da Crack - Poipu's best, in my humble opinion

Regular blog-posting will resume again next week, if I come back, that is...until then, have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weekend in Pictures: My Calm Before the Storm

As I boarded the plane this morning on my way to Hawaii, man-in-hand, I caught myself thinking about how good life has been lately. In that very moment, my head went to the place of - is it too good? Is something bad going to happen soon? (I'm a worrier. My Mom used to tell me I'd be a millionaire if I could worry as a profession.) That's just where my head was at this morning. Strangely negative while feeling so positive about all that has happened in the past few months. 

The last few days have been exceptionally lovely. Old childhood friends, hiking in Redwoods, enjoying the vast Big Sur coast, seeing one of my oldest friends get married, dancing under the stars, really good hot coffee, corn hole, having no cell phone service the entire weekend, dancing (literally) under the stars.

I'd like to think of this as the calm before my "storm," with storm having a positive connotation on it. My post-bacc RD schooling is fast approaching, but I'm trying to cherish each and every moment of my life right now which feels so peaceful; every smell, every blink, every bite, every giggle. 

Slowing down is really, really hard. Especially since many of us are used to always.having.something-to-do.or...somewhere-to-go. And, wait for it....I'm going to connect this to our health and vitality. When we go-go-go all the time, it's simply exhausting. Sure, exercise and being busy can be great. But guess what? We need rest. We need periods where we can disconnect and reflect. Meditation? Sure. That too. It may sound out there, but when is the last time you really gave yourself some quiet time?

When's the last time you embraced everything good in your life, and even the bad stuff too? 

So, I invite you to enjoy the calm. If the calm doesn't exist, create it, find it. There could be a storm ahead, but lets not think like that.

The view from "the best restaurant in America" - a certain midwestern man

Pink Lady Crunch roll at the "best restaurant in America

This picture is not staged - laughing with old friends

The view from the wedding in Big Sur - unreal

The tall groom & single-dimpled bride, post getting miri'd

Story of my life

Dear, old friends - the lawyer, the doctor, the environmental scientist/part-time moon explorer, me, & the analytical MBA grad. But more importantly, the friends.

The best wedding food yet - grilled steak & veggies, salad with golden beets & candied walnuts, & mushroom risotto

The view from my current adventure - in one of my favorite places, Kauai

You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to.
                     - Robin Williams as Sean in Good Will Hunting, my favorite character in my favorite movie. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIAW: More Kale Salad?

First, thank you to everyone who read my last post. I am feeling everyone's positive vibes this week, and I am filled with gratitude.

Today is my last day at my job. I've been working at this ad agency for over four years, and I will miss seeing many of my colleague's faces daily, truly. But I'm ready for change and embracing all the uncertainty and excitement to come!

And, to top it all off, I've got an amazing week and a half ahead of me. This weekend, we're heading to Big Sur so I can watch one of my oldest, dearest friends, Miriam, get married...or miri'd as we like to say. I've got grand plans for dancing under the stars in Big Sur with my oldest friends, and maybe starting a Conga line (a recent, necessary tradition) to any and every Lionel Richie song.

Then, Monday, we fly to Kauai, which is my favorite Hawaiian island. We're going to be spending a week on the island and I plan to relax, boogie-board, hike, and get lots of Vitamin D. Oh, and read! Please leave a comment if you have any book recommendations for beach reads (this includes nutrition books!) and/or if you have any recommendations for Poipu.

So, because this week is a short week, I only did a small grocery run to get me and the man through a few days. We've got lots of greens and padron peppers to eat up!

And before I dive into WIAW, can I please tell you something that made my week? Last night, my midwestern boyfriend asks "Hey, can we have more of that kale salad with that peanut dressing?" Yes. Yes, we sure can.

When's the last time your meat and potatoes loving boyfriend asked for more kale salad? #winning

Here is what I ate on Wednesday!

Overall, I just wasn't that hungry all day, so these eats are on the lighter side. A simple, quick breakfast of two slices of gluten-free toast with some grass-fed butter on each slice, topped with fried eggs. I wasn't too hungry and this breakfast filled me up just right, with a side cup of coffee.

I've created a new smoothie recipe, one that I hope to share on the blog next week. It's a green smoothie that tastes delicious and is actually a pretty, green color for once. It's got lots of greens and coconut water in it, among other things. I brought this for lunch and it tied me over for a few hours. Gotta love the protein powder and healthy fats!

And then, a little snack before a rare evening yoga class. I picked up a Macrobar at Whole Foods. The Whole Foods Whole Body folks at the Oakland market were so nice and let me sample a few bars (can't hurt to ask!). I liked this MacroBar, however, the sugar content is high at 15 grams (organic brown rice syrup is the first ingredient, unfortunately). But still, good for when you're in a pinch and on the go.

Post-yoga, I arrived home, to find that my boyfriend had made dinner and it was gloriously waiting for me on our dining room table. Food always tastes better when someone else makes it, right? My plate had a bison burger topped with pepperjack cheese and spinach, with a heaping side of kale salad. 

We both went back for seconds on the kale salad. Ask and ye shall receive. 

Listen, I feel very granola talking about my love of kale salad, but I must say, I am not normally a huge fan of raw kale but I'll have it once or twice a week in the Summer when I know I can dress it up real nicely with a delicious dressing. And I've recently been playing around with this peanut dressing as well as an avocado lime dressing (recipe to come), so that's why you're seeing more kale salad on my WIAW posts. 

However, as I mentioned in an older post, I try to eat a mixture of cooked veggies in addition to raw veggies. This is because kale, like a few other veggies, contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances in certain foods that can potentially interfere with our body's thyroid gland, as they interfere with iodine uptake and our iodine is needed to produce ample active thyroid hormones. I could go on and on about the thyroid, but we'll save that for another post.

But, no biggie. That's why we switch up our diet, right? Easier said than done, but I always encourage my clients to switch up their fruits and veggies. 

I ended the night on a sweeter note, splitting this almond chocolate-chip cookie (gluten-free) with the boyfriend. He earned it. 

What are your latest, favorite eats?

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Big, Scary, and Exciting Life Change

When I was younger, I really didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I mean, I really wanted to be a Radio City Rockette - but alas, I'm too short. (Have you seen my high kick though? It's really good). 

For over the past 5 years, I've been working in Pharmaceutical Advertising at an agency in San Francisco. Kind of ironic right? I am a Nutrition Consultant who practices from a holistic standpoint, and yet, every day, I am working to figure out how to convince consumers to pick a certain drug. Don't get me wrong, I understand that pharmaceutical drugs have their time and place, but I really am truly passionate about preventative health. And of course I believe that starts with proper nutrition!

Two weeks ago, I gave my two weeks notice. 

I'm starting a new adventure, one that I can finally talk about on here. I'm going back to school for my Dietetics Degree at San Francisco State University. Earlier this year, I completed my Nutrition Consultant Certification at Bauman College in Berkeley. My time at Bauman further confirmed my desire to practice in the field of Nutrition full-time and make it my career. So I decided, last Fall, that I wanted to go full-throttle in, and become a Registered Dietitian. From an education standpoint, it means, studying a lot more anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and nutrition, as well as completing a ton of clinical hours with patients. From a business perspective, it means I'll have a larger scope of practice for my nutrition counseling and more career choices as I'll be a licensed health practitioner. 

[I cannot write this post without pointing out that a traditional Dietetics Program teaches a curriculum that has been sanctioned by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This curriculum is very different from Bauman College, however, the pros of getting my RD license outweighed the cons. This article, 3 Reasons You Should Get Your RD Degree, Even If You Can't Stand Conventional Nutrition Advice, by Laura Schoenfeld, RD, MPH, sums up the reasoning behind my decision, perfectly.]

When I initially explored this career change four years ago, I told myself that I wasn't smart enough to complete the Chemistry and Microbiology pre-requisites needed to even apply to the program. I also feared the financial instability that comes with being a student and putting yourself through school. I've had a steady paycheck since 2007. For years, I read stories about people that made these somewhat radical career/life changes, and I thought, "I'll never be able to do that or afford to do that." 

But then, over the past few years, I started to admit and accept that I really did not like my job. And I didn't believe in what I was doing. And that I was really passionate about nutrition. And so I enrolled in the Bauman College program. And it further confirmed that I wanted to pursue nutrition 100% all day every day.

I finally realized that life is too damn short to be doing something you really don't want to be doing. And I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do, I was just too scared to make that jump for a long time because I viewed it as too risky.

But I've (finally) jumped. I quit my job. I registered for my Fall classes. I feel free and frightened at the same time. I haven't figured out all the details that come along with this change, but I am confident I can make my life work still. 

I will thrive.  

To all my friends and family who have been beyond supportive for the past five years as I went back and forth on this decision, thank you so much. Your encouraging words and belief in my ability to succeed on this path has been invaluable throughout this transition. And, a very special thanks to Lisa, my very holistic Dietitian (RD, MS), who is one of the smartest and most intuitive people I've ever met, and who inspires and challenges me in the best ways.

I can't wait to further my education, share my journey on the blog, and continue to serve my clients, friends, and family better. 

Here is to risks worth taking.