Life Lately

 

This post is a bit all over the place, so please excuse my mess. I’ve been on a roll lately, getting two posts a week out to you guys and last week I left you hanging. I won’t lie, it feels like a failure. The truth is, I sat down to write last week, but I couldn’t gather my thoughts enough to write anything cohesive. I wanted to share about the heartwarming joy I felt watching my god-daughter get baptized…

me and Ava

 

Ava Heather and Vincent

 

or the recipe of Breakfast Blondies that got me out of bed in the mornings…

Almond Breakfast Blondies 1

but my fingers just couldn’t type the words to capture my thoughts (don’t worry I’ll still share the Blondie recipe eventually).

Last week, I also happened to sign a lease for my new apartment in Richmond, finish my last cleaning shift at my yoga studio, and close the chapter on a job I held for two years at The University of Maryland Extension. I thought (maybe hoped) strong overwhelming feelings would come over me during this transitional time and compel me to write, feel, cry, get excited…I don’t know anything? Instead, I hate to admit, I felt and still feel a little blank and undecided?

I’m currently sitting on a beach chair in Corolla, North Carolina spending time with my family, escaping life for a moment before I make the move to Richmond and start Graduate School.

beach

Something about the sea breeze and the salt water made me realize that it’s okay to not know how to feel right now. To let myself just feel the way I feel without over analyzing or questioning. To accept that maybe the combination of fear, sadness, excitement, and eagerness balance each other out leaving a calm unease.

So life lately is one day a time. For now that’s morning runs by the ocean, dad’s fresh squeezed orange juice, country music, crisp white wine, reading on lawn chairs, and family board games. I’ll take it.

Peach and Coconut Cream Smoothie

PC 5

Confession: the other day I caught myself giving a friend better advice than I follow myself. Does that ever happen to you?

The conversation went something like this…

Friend: What are your thoughts on replacing a meal with a shake every day?

Me: * silent sigh *, hmmm, eating full balanced meals is better, but a protein shake for breakfast or lunch every once in a while is probably okay.

Friend: Okay, well how do you feel about XX shake powder and diet plan?

Me: *louder sigh *, I would have to look at the nutrition facts and review the plan, but it’s probably more expensive and less healthy than just making a high protein smoothie with real fresh foods.

I was huffing and puffing in this conversation because I know swapping out meals for supplements is not a healthy sustainable way to eat. I would love to grab a huge stop sign and some caution tape to wrap around any high price plan full of measuring cups, expensive supplements, and false promises. I reflected on this conversation on my way home from work.

…I felt like a hypocrite…

I thought about how often I make smoothies with protein powder for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I took a look at the ingredient list on the back of my protein powder container and despite my hard fought battle in organic chemistry I could hardly identify half of the items on the list. Besides, in general, most people do not need nearly as much protein as they think they do. The average healthy adult needs .8-1.0 g/kg (grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) and the elite athlete needs anywhere from 1.2-1.7 g/kg. Eating too much protein can be hard on the kidneys especially if you have too much in a short period of time… your intestinal tract just can’t absorb it all.

If you want to figure out how much protein you need in a day go for it…

(body weight in pounds/2.2) = body weight in kilograms

Body weight in kilograms * 0.8 grams protein

 

I need about 44-55 grams a day. My protein powder has about 25 grams of protein in one scoop…which is a bit aggressive since I usually have protein with every meal and snack throughout the day…

Don’t get me wrong, I am not demonizing protein powders. They are convenient and perfectly healthy on occasion, but in terms of nutrient quality you cannot beat the real deal when it comes to fresh foods (think fiber from fruits, probiotics from yogurt).

PC 2

I decided to take my own advice and I came up with a fresh smoothie with more readily identifiable ingredients…


 

 

Peach and Coconut Cream Smoothie

PC 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup frozen peaches
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
  • 1 handful of ice
  • 1 6 oz cup of Chobani Coconut Greek yogurt (you can use any brand)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp coconut extract

PC 3

Directions:

  • Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

PC 2

 

 

 

Cilantro Lime Black Bean Burgers and a Little Appreciation

It’s been two months since I moved back in with my parents and in about three weeks I’ll be back out again. I must confess, living at home is not as terrible as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong I’m ready to have my own space again, but I’ll miss a few things about home livin’. Like how my car wouldn’t start this morning and all I had to do was knock on my dad’s door…problem fixed. Or how my mom keeps the pantry stocked with 80% of the ingredients I need for any given recipe. Oh, and then there’s my always-down to sip wine, blast country, and make recipes together sister. Yea, I have it pretty good here. I am happy I can appreciate it this time around. For example, I really appreciate my dad, the grill master, helping me create these Cilantro and Lime Back Bean Burgers.


 

Cilantro Lime Black Bean Burgers

CLBB 4

Makes: 4-5 patties

CLBB 1 raw

I may or may not have put my dad through two recipes and four methods to get these guys just right for you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 15.5oz can of low sodium black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 small red onion, washed and chopped
  • ¼ cup mild green chili
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 6 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup yellow corn
  • 1 egg

Directions:  

  • Chop onion, garlic, and cilantro and add to a medium bowl
  • Rinse black beans and add the whole can to the medium bowl
  • Chop all ingredients in the bowl with a pastry knife or an easy chopper until the mixture forms a consistency that can be held together in a patty
  • Mix in the egg, cumin, corn, green chili, and bread crumbs
  • If the mixture is too moist to form patties add more bread crumbs
  • Form 4-5 patties
  • Cook on the grill or pan fry for 10-15 minutes {side note} for best results on the grill put tin foil down over grill rack and spray with pam, it helps hold the burger together

CLBB 3 You can eat these burgers however you want, BUT I strongly recommend consuming them with hummus and avocado…just trust me.

CLBB 2

On another note, it’s Monday and if you forgot to celebrate National Ice Cream Day yesterday you have my permission to celebrate it today. In fact, even if you did celebrate it yesterday (like me) you have my permission to do again.

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Vietnamese Spring Rolls & Internship Days

I cannot believe it has been two full years since my dietetic internship! This time two years ago I was studying my butt off for my board exam to become a Registered Dietitian. In honor of the anniversary, I will reminisce…

In order to be a dietitian, there is a practical internship comprised of three topic areas: clinical, community, and food service. Of the three, food service was at the bottom of my anticipation list. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually enjoyed and connected with many aspects of food service.

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I will zero in on one great experience with the University of Maryland Dining Services and my partner Mavis.Mavis and I

(Mavis and I at graduation)

Basically, we got to create a menu from our food dreams– making items we wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to with a professional chef. Mavis and I are both foodies so this was a dream come true for us (minus all the grunt work needed to bring this meal to fruition for over 20 people).

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(theme meal picture that does not do the meal justice)

We decided this was our opportunity to make sushi (ahi tuna sushi), work with phyllo dough (phyllo dough stuffed with roasted vegetables pictured above), and Vietnamese spring rolls. The whole meal was awesome, but the Vietnamese spring rolls were absolutely my favorite item on the menu. Before the theme meal, I was intimidated to make them. Working with a professional chef and creating the rolls in large quantities cured that fear.

The only problem is, I can’t exactly remember how we made the spring rolls that day. This is partly because the recipes we worked so hard to come up with were mere outlines to the chef’s creativity. With fear out of the way and general knowledge from experience (plus some Pinterest scanning), I recreated my own variation of Vietnamese Spring Rolls. These these may add a new meaning to the word fresh. Check them out!

 


 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

piled

Prep Time: 1 hour

Time: 40 minutes

Makes: 6-8 rolls

Ingredients:

Spring Rolls

  • 4 ounces vermicelli or rice noodles
  • 8-10 Rice Spring Roll Papers ( a few extra in case they break)
  • 1 14oz-package of firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
  • 3 large carrots washed and chopped
  • 1/2 medium cucumber washed and chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper washed and chopped
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce washed and torn
  • 1 bunch of fresh herbs (mint, basil, or cilantro- I tried all 3)

plated

Peanut Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water

peanut sauce

Directions

Spring Rolls~

  • The Tofu needs to be pressed- open package and drain fluid. Wrap in paper towels and place under pressure (I used a heavy cutting board) for one hour
  •  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • When tofu is pressed, slice it into strips about 3 inches long, coat with olive oil and panko bread crumbs, and bake for 20-25 minutes

Tofu

  • Wash and chop all vegetables in strips about 3 inches long
  • Wash and chop all herbs

chopped

  • Soak vermicelli or rice noodles for ~ 10 minutes and drain
  • Prepare rice spring roll wrappers according to directions (I soaked in water for 3 seconds)
  • Wrap the combination of ingredients your little heart desires– be careful papers are thin and sticky so do not overfill

roll

Peanut Sauce~

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Taste
  • Enjoy :)

end

Key Lime Coconut Energy Balls & Upping my Photography Game

ss

Monday, ready or not here it is! Let me try to distract you from your to-do list a bit…

I took a photography class in high school. I lasted about one day before we had to start measuring things and doing math and I said, “whoa whoa whoa…nope”. I swapped the class out for ceramics (math, measuring, science and I were not friends at the time).

I deeply regret that swap.

I’ve been trying to learn a little something-something about photography so my pictures can tell a better story of the food I’m creating. Most of my favorite blogs have beautiful photos and reading them encourages me to up my game. It wasn’t until I started the learning process that I realized how utterly clueless I am about the art, but I promise I’m working on it. I actually find learning about light fastening. (science and I are getting along better these days. I have to do some relationship building with the other two).

key lime coconut energy balls

Learning new things can be scary and intimidating. Rejection and failure hurt so we run away from them without a breath or a backward glance. We hear others tell us things about ourselves and we begin to believe them, limiting our potential and self-efficacy. I grew up believing the hard sciences weren’t for me until I became passionate about nutrition. Determined, I passed chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry (yes, I am smart name-dropping because they were hard and I did it). The first A I got on an organic chemistry test changed me. I realized with the right mindset I can learn anything. Really, it was like an I can do this I can run the world type feeling…can anyone relate?

key lime 1

“There are no limitations to the mind except those that we acknowledge”

Okay, enough of my motivational ranting and onto my modeling subject…. Key Lime Coconut Energy Balls because they may be the primary reason I made it out of my bed this Monday morning.


 

Key Lime Coconut Energy Balls

hand

Makes: 15-18 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 12 dates
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut and more for coating
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth
  • Roll blended mixture into balls about an inch thick
  • Coat balls with shredded coconut
  • Place in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes
  • Enjoy

 

Question?

  • What are your go-to photography resources?

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins labeled

When I think muffins, I think of my Grandma’s house in Stamford, Connecticut. Not because she baked muffins, actually I can’t really remember anything she baked except chicken wings (baking wasn’t really her thing).

I do remember my mom and my Aunt MaryAnn coming in the house after a long morning walk, arms overflowing with Dunkin’ Doughnut Bags. Picture 7 kids (me, siblings, and cousins) and about 30 sleeping bags arguing over which cartoon to watch while desperately awaiting breakfast. These bags came complete with individual orders from all 7 of us spoiled brats.

I always ordered a large chocolate chip muffin while my sisters typically went for the doughnuts. At the time, I thought I was making the “healthy choice”. I would pour myself a glass of milk and go to town on my oversized muffin blissfully thinking I was being healthy.

It wasn’t until I got a little bit older (and wiser) that I realized just how wrong I was. It turns out that at Dunkin’ Doughnuts …

A chocolate frosted doughnut with sprinkles is about 290 calories and 16 grams of fat, whereas, a chocolate chip muffin is about 550 calories and 21 grams of fat.

Uoops.

The truth is I love muffins and I’m going to eat them no matter what, so I’ll make my own less monstrous version.

I came up with these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins because I’m still having dreams about the Lemon Poppy Seed pancakes I ate in New York Last Weekend. I did some experimenting in the kitchen and the result is worth sharing.


 

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins 

Lemone Poppy seed stacked

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 eggs
  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well
  3. Coat muffin pan with non-stick spray and divide batter evenly
  4. Bake for 18-25 minutes
  5. Allow to cool before serving

Lemon Poppy Seed aligned

4th of July Weekend Recap

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July Holiday, I know I did. I took advantage of the long weekend and headed up north to visit one of my very best friends, Charlene, in White Plains, NY. We went to high school and college together and now we are both pursuing advanced degrees (or I will be very soon).

Amy and Char

Charlene is in business school at Emory and spending her summer in White Plains (pictured) interning for Pepsi. #bigthings

white_plains

Photo source

She has a new puppy, Langston, who I claimed as my God dog about 5 minutes into our trip. I just fell in love this weekend. I mean come on…

Langston

We have so much in common…

Langston and beer

I desperately want a puppy, but seeing the way Char completely changed her schedule and priorities to accommodate the little prince made me question whether I’m ready yet. It was a bit of a reality check for me but we shall see where life takes me…

Back to the weekend, it was a shopping,  sushi-eating, beer-drinking, talking until mid night  kind of weekend.  We had ambitious plans to make it into NYC (about 40 minutes from White Plains), but it never happened and we had no regrets.

The first night we deliberately ate sushi at a restaurant called Asian Temptation. The environment was on point with Buddha statues and fountains in every direction. The sushi and service was impressive as well…sushi 1 buddah fountain

 

Saturday began with the Orignal Pancake house for brunch…

orginal pancake house

 

Typically, at breakfast places I go for eggs or something with protein. Lately, eggs have been leaving me with an unsettling feeling so pancakes it was. These Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes were SO GOOD! I was nervous about ordering them… I’m not huge on pancakes, but when in a pancake house… why not?  They left me thinking I need to recreate the lemon poppy-seed goodness in some form or another so stay tuned!

lemon pancakes

 

Since Saturday was the 4th Char and I wanted an American place for dinner, but it proved harder than we thought to find in White Plains. We ended up settling on a Puerto Rican restaurant called Sofrito (I mean it’s technically America, so its fine).

I ended up getting sushi, because yes it was on a Puerto Rican cuisine menu, and it just looked so good. Don’t worry I got guacamole and sangaria too. It was amazing, I defiantly recommend it if you ever find yourself in White Plains, NY.

sushi 2

sangaria

 

I got home from NY, just in time for the Women’s World Cup. I played soccer until I went off to college and I have a big place in my heart for the sport. I cannot think of better way to ring in the America’s weekend than a world championship from the US Women’s team.

US world cup

 

Photo source

Well, that’s about it from me!

Question: What do you typically eat on the July 4th?

Things That Matter

I’ve been thinking lately. Hold on tight in case I go down the rabbit hole with this one. Read on at your own risk…

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then” ~Lewis Carroll

The other day a friend and I were talking about criticism. How to absorb it in a way that allows you to grow instead of letting the words form a thick fog that creeps into your confidence and pollutes your self-worth. Dramatic I know, but it is a delicate line. People tend to either deny any fault or let the punches bruise them until they break.

“Learn how to take criticism seriously, but not personally.” ~Hillary Clinton

I think the most important thing you can do in life is figure out what matters, sift through the compliments, criticism, successes, failures, friendships, and relationships to find the truth that you need to build upon. Figure out what is worth holding on to and what needs to be let go.

So like I said, I’ve been thinking lately, about what matters. Here’s the recent list drifting through my mind…


 

What Matters?

  • Writing original thoughtful blog posts matter, the amount of people reading is not as important.
  • Trying to make healthy colorful recipes with beautiful pictures to share with you matters. Exact measurements, flawless grammar, and perfect lighting- not as important.

summertime edamame salad

 

  • Waking up, and getting out the door for a quick run each morning to move my body and clear my mind matters. Speed and long distances do not matter.

1running path

  • Eating healthy, enjoying food, and loving my body matters. The number on the scale is not important.

summertime raw

  • Sending a thoughtful email to a friend going through a rough patch matters. Negative digs and hurtful comments from others do not matter.

 

  • Spending time with my family at the beach matters. Getting behind on emails and work as a result is not too important.

Me and Gma1

  • Listening and accepting others point of view matters. Always being right does not matter.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” ~Albert Einstein

  • Being honest, having integrity, and working hard matters. Making mistakes is not important.

These are just a few examples relevant to me. Sure, fast runs make me happy,  and everyone loves beautiful pictures. Hurtful comments will sting and I often beat myself up over mistakes, but these things do not matter. Not in the long run. Dwelling on them won’t help me grow into the person I want to become or help me appreciate the present moment while I have it. These things are heavy and the weight is draining.  Understanding that we can let things go is so important.

 

 

Cocoa-dusted Mint Chocolate Energy Balls

cocoa-dusted Mint Chocolate Energy BallsWhen I got home from the beach Sunday night I thought about checking the millions of emails that were crowding my inbox, but I changed my mind. I didn’t want to rob Monday of its responsibility to torture. Instead, I decided to keep my mental health in check and do some food prep.

When I travel, I end up eating more protein bars, protein shakes, and processed food in general than I’d prefer. So some damage control was necessary. The result was these minty little gems with very few ingredients…

cocoa dusted mint cohcolate bite

 


Cocoa-dusted Mint Chocolate Energy Balls 

Makes: 12-15 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • ½ tsp peppermint extract
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Place dates in a food processor, blend until smooth
  2. Add almonds to food processor, blend leaving some larger pieces intact for texture
  3. Scoop mixture into a bowl and add the almond milk, cocoa powder, salt, and peppermint extract, stir until mixed
  4. Round mixture into balls about an inch thick (12-15)
  5. Add cocoa powder to a small bowl and dip balls to coat
  6. Place balls in the fridge for 15 minutes to cool
  7. enjoy

Nutrition:

1 ball: 78 calories, 11g carbs, 4g fat, 2g protein and 4 g fiber


 

Chocolate partnered with mint does magic to Mondays.  Don’t you guys worry about me, I’ll be just fine!

never give up

Can I Stay at the Beach?

Usually about 5 days into a vacation I begin to miss the comfort of my normal routine. I crave familiar, simple, and healthy. I miss yoga classes, long morning runs and the feeling of making progress on goals. This week, however, I feel as if I could spend my entire summer hiding away at the beach with my Grandma. Maybe it’s because I run a little bit faster on the boardwalk than in my hilly neighborhood or because my grandma gives me a lot of space to do me. Maybe the new glow on my skin means the sun is getting to my head…

IMG_3947

Or maybe I don’t want to leave the beach because I’m scared of ending my job, packing up my life, and moving to Richmond for graduate school. I never liked goodbyes, I would rather run away from a situation then turn off the light and close the door like a proper ending. I’d rather find myself reminiscing at later time in a different place. I prefer memories that have been deformed and molded by time to become something more grand, meaningful, and sentimental than their original realities. I don’t like trying to convince people I have it all figured out because in all honesty I am taking a giant leap of faith and praying the wind catches my sail.

faded memories

 

Photo Source 

But I’ll blow in the wind…

In less than two months, I will be going after a Masters in Social Work Degree from Virginia Common Wealth University in a city where I have, in total, zero friends. I am still not sure where I will live or exactly how much in debt I will be when I come out. Despite these fears details, I got into nutrition to help people improve their relationship with food and their bodies and I want more of an expertise to do so. A Masters in Social Work will give me the skills, knowledge, and the licensure to help people with the root issues that plague their relationships with food. If all goes to plan, I will be both a registered dietitian and psychotherapist. Something inside of me knows this is the exact path I am meant to be on, but that doesn’t make it any less scary. It helps that I have a small crush on the south and secretly (or not so secretly) I love being in school.

So for now I will enjoy my last day of views of the ocean, naps on the beach, wine breaks with my grandma and Nicholas Sparks.IMG_3952