What I’ve Been Reading….

Some posts I have enjoyed recently….

Helpful, honest and/or informative posts:

Sweet Tater: On Binge Eating – in this post, Katie lays down the facts about binge eating in such a clear and informative way and discusses how she personally deals with the issue. I love how blunt, honest, and hilarious she is in general (I always look forward to reading her posts), and I personally loved how she delved into this topic in such a relatable, open way.  Check it out if you haven’t already!

For the Love of Kale: Dissassociating my Veganism from my Eating Disorder: I have mentioned Heather/her blog on here a few times already, but I must say, her blog is one of my new favorites. I love when blogs are authentic and real and when you can tell that the person behind the page really has a passion for what they are writing about. Heather’s blog is just that, and I love the positive energy she exudes through her writing. She also  talks about topics in such a well-rounded and helpful way.  

Une Vie Saine: Lately: I have been reading Gabriela’s blog for quite a while now, and I have loved watching it evolve. I think our 20’s can be such a confusing time, and I appreciate how Gabriela has let her blog evolve with her life and how she is so open and real about her feelings.  I love how brutally honest she is in this post. It was very refreshing to read.   

You can’t fake authenticity and passion, and I love finding blogs (and posts) that are honest and real (these are the blogs  that keep me coming back for more!). It is not easy to whip out informative/thought-provoking/well-written content on a consistent basis, so I have huge respect for people who are able to write openly and honestly about their thoughts/experiences/feelings. Check out these blogs!

On the food/recipe front:

Accidentially Delish: Chocolate Banana Hummus – I have no words. This is such a good idea! I need to buy some chickpeas stat.

Healthy Happy Life: Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers –  I heard that these are delicious and I reallllly want to make them.

Gluten Free Goddess: Kale Salad with Quinoa, Tangerines and Roasted Almonds – I am always on the lookout for new uses for kale and this one seems right up my alley…

Recipe Success

Peanut Butter Fingers: Savory Salmon Oatmeal Hash – I made this for dinner the other week and LOVED it! While I have made savory oats before, this was a new spin on the concept. You couldn’t even tell that oatmeal was used as the grain! This was really easy to make and was sooooo delicious. I basically stuck to Julie’s recipe only making the following modifications:

  • I replaced the cauliflower with asparagus and broccoli 
  • I seasoned my oatmeal hash with some dijon mustard and pepper (that I mixed in at the end of cooking) and topped my bowl off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice  (instead of seasoning with dill)

Any posts you have loved recently?

Any recipes you want to make/have made and want to share?

….feel free to link!

Getting out of my food rut

So I have a confession to make. For the last couple of weeks or so I have been in a bit of a food rut. I have been packing and eating a lot of the same foods over and over again, and while they have been tasting good and have been good for me, I haven’t been enjoying them as much  as usual.  As a result, I also have not been feeling very satisfied with any of my meals, and I have been resorting to some not so healthy habits. Some habits I tend to develop which cue me in to the fact that I am most likely in a food rut include:

  • eating my meals and finishing them without feeling like I ate at all (probably due to the fact that I am not really paying attention when eating)
  • becoming really snacky and never feeling fully satisfied… (probably due related to the bullet above)
  • craving  a lot of “junk”-type foods that I usually don’t normally crave
  • feeling out of control and in regard to eating in general

I don’t always experience all of these things at once, and while they can occur because of a “food rut,” they can also be caused by multiple other factors as well (stress, eating our of boredom/habit, getting stuck in a routine in regard to food, etc). I don’t want to say that I am only snacky and/or crave copius amounts of chocolate during these times(because I KNOW that this isn’t the case), but I find when I continuoulsy feel this way and am engaging in the above habits often, a boredeom with my food choices is usually a major culprit.

I have also begun to identify when these moods tend to strike:

  • when the end of a season is near (I tend to eat the same things during certain seasons….)
  • when I am really busy and don’t have a lot of time to devote to food/meal prep.

 As both of these situations appear to  be releveant here, I have decided that there must be something I can do to end the cycle. The crazy thing I have come to learn about food ruts is that they are so easy to fix. Once I recognize that it is the problem, all it takes is a few tweaks in my diet to make my food seem “fresh” and “new” and “exciting” again.  Now, if I could only remind myself of this sooner instead of waiting three weeks to come to this conclusion….

Does anyone get in these type of ruts?

To end this cycle and to get excited about eating again, I decided to spruce things up this week and do what I could to make my meals exciting again.

Some tips/tactics I use to get out of a food rut:

1.I buy something new at the grocery store to spruce up my meals

This week I got a little excited and purchased….

A few new salad toppers and/or snack mix ingredients:

2 new-to-me oranges to enjoy as my post-lunch fruit:

minnelos(?) and some FL orange I never heard of....

A few new granola bars to eat as snacks (Courtney inspired the SoyJoy purchase…):

I also bought some barley to make as a new grain for lunches:Other healthy purchases I buy to spruce up meals and snacks:

  • A new type of vegetable and/or fruit to throw into salads/sandwiches/stir fries or veggie bags
  • A new type of cereal to enjoy for breakfast or in a baggie for a snack (add some nuts for more staying power!)
  • fun toppers or add-ins to throw into snack mixes, on top of salads or meals (any type of seed or nut, dried fruit…)
  • A new flavor of yogurt (for breakfast or as a snack)
  • A new type of cheese to use as a salad topper, in sandwiches, sprinkled on top of meals…. (goat, feta, parmesan, cheddar, gouda…..)
  • Granola bars or snack bars (Kashi makes a lot of fun flavors of granola bars… and they don’t contain a lot of additives or unnecessary ingredients) – I also love Clif Z bars, Larabars and KIND bars
  • A new grain to enjoy with lunch or dinner (there are so many like barley, quinoa, different types of whole grain pasta, brown rice, bulgar wheat…. you can find most of these in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)
  • A new condiment to use as a dressing, marinade or sandwich spread…. (I love condiments!)
  • A new seasoning/spice to add to meals (I love Spike!)

2. I make a new recipe or search through cooking magazines or cookbooks for cooking and/or meal packing inspiration

I made a new soup yesterday (another one from Natural Health Magazine) to eat for dinner and/or pack for lunches… Red Kidney Bean Curry Soup (yum).

I actually ate this for dinner last night on top of some kale (mine was more like stew because I let it simmer too long), and it was delicious (and so simple to make too!). I am looking forward to eating it again….

I also brainstormed some new/”fun” lunch ideas for the week (which I’ll share if they turn out as delicious as they seem in my head) by looking through some of my cookbooks.

Not my current collection, but I thought a visual would be nice to include. I would love a copy of Clean Food though….

source

So lets hope my food rut ends this week. I am already excited to dig into my new trail mix concoction later and to eat my minnelo!

How do you deal with food ruts and/or keeping meals exciting? Do you have any other tips to share (I am always open to advice on this!)?

A healthy habit to keep in mind…

Hi there, hope you are having a good morning!

So I wanted to bring up a topic today that is near and dear to my heart when it comes to living an all around, healthy lifestyle: the topic of awareness and/or the act of paying attention when it comes to food/eating.

The act of paying attention is one of the best “lessons” I learned when I crossed over to the “healthy living lifestyle” (clean, whole foods most of the time, focusing on whole grains, veggies, etc…). It is one thing that I NEVER used to do or even thought to do when eating/cooking, but now it is something I keep in mind all.the.time. and  is something I try to practice as much as possible.

I actually learned this tip from Bethenny Frankel in her book, Naturally Thin (I love this book, by the way), and I really feel it is SO IMPORTANT in regard to healthy living/living a healthy life in general. It’s like a light bulb went off in my head when I realized how interconnected this act is to so many aspects of life. Paying attention seems to be obvious task, but it can be really eye-opening if it’s not something you’re used to doing.

Paying attention can mean A LOT of things, but in regard to food, a few things that make up the concept include:

  • tasting your food! (aka not shoving it in your mouth or zoning out when eating)
  • recognizing when it is time for a meal – and stopping other activities
  • making a meal an ‘event’ (food presentation, making food look “pretty“) – you eat with your eyes first!
  • being aware of flavors/food combination, textures, food temperature….

When I started adopting this habit into my life (which was HARD at first…. mindless eating is often very second nature and NOT paying attention is much easier to do), I started to become more aware of when I was hungry and when I was full. I started to notice when foods didn’t taste so great (which is surprisingly hard to tell when you shovel food into your mouth… who would have thought?), started eating more slowly, and started to care more about what my food actually looked like. Food became more about quality and less about quantity. The “art” of food and the act of sitting down to a meal became more important to me.

Basically, the simple act of paying attention to what I was eating changed how I viewed food and the act of eating.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I sit in silence every time I eat and savor each and every morsel that goes into my mouth. Sometimes I eat in front of my computer or in front of the TV. Sometimes I have to eat quickly or have to throw dinner together in five minutes. Last week, for example, I had to eat dinner in my car (eating a kale and cucumber wrap out of a Tupperware container is an interesting obstacle, by the way). I understand that it is not always possible to completely unplug and give all your attention to a meal.

While paying attention can be mean various things to different people, to me, it is not about analyzing your food or making food more than it needs to be (like spending hours preparing it or making sure to taste every bite that you take), it’s about refocusing your attention to the present and unplugging from life.

I felt the need to bring this up since it is something that I have been trying to do, even when I am super busy and have to eat on the go. I feel like there is always some way to refocus yourself when busy or stressed (even if it’s just for 5 minutes!), and for me, enjoying a meal – even if its something simple –  is a built-in window of opportunity in which to do so. I refuse to let my busy schedule get in the way of my ability to disconnect for just a bit.

I hope I don’t sound crazy, but I truly believe that the simple act of paying attention to a meal (focusing on who your with, what your favorite part of your lunch is, what tastes the best/worst, etc.) can be a great way to refocus a moment or day. We eat at least 3x a day, why not take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy ourselves? It’s a great way to refocus and truly live in the present moment.

Do you think paying attention when eating is important/do you pay attention to it?

How do you refocus yourself when stressed/busy? How do you “live in the moment?”



Sunday thoughts

  • As much as I love creating healthy meals and working out on a daily basis, I love sitting on my butt, watching girly movies (anyone else watch Bring It On today?), eating leftovers and consuming way too much chocolate just as much sometimes….

notice the unopened books and notebooks...

  • The second half of the last statement might be due to the fact that I drank one too many beers last night (and maybe that kamikaze shot poured into my mouth wasn’t the best idea on second thought?). Lets just say I am not feeling my best at the moment…
  • I am amazed that I was physically able to go out every weekend in college (which was only one year ago, mind you) and still be productive on Sundays. How did I do it?? I NEED to study for my Bio test today… but my pounding headache and craving for carbs keeps getting in my way. I feel old.
  • I made Anne’s Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Enchiladas last night with Jon (my boyfriend), and they were SO delicious.  We were both very big fans, and I highly suggest you make them (FYI they also taste delicious reheated and serve as a great healthy alternative to the  more heavy/calorie laden Mexican foods out there).  They taste super indulgent but they are filled with spinach, sweet potato and veggies… you can’t go wrong with them.
  • Speaking of Mexican food, I also made a Mexican inspired salad for lunch yesterday that was pretty delicious:

It contained:

    • spinach/romaine (would have been better with all romaine… I like the crunchiness of it in taco salads)
    • red pepper
    • corn
    • avocado
    • carrot
    • salsa
    • plain greek yogurt
    • chili spiced beans (from a can)
    • cilantro
    • tortilla “chips” (I toasted a whole wheat tortilla in the toaster oven until it became crispy… they are fun to scoop up the salad with
  • Is it wrong that I get more excited looking up super bowl snacks and eating super bowl snack than watching the game? I want to like football but I just…. don’t. No matter how hard I try, I always end up zoning out and staring blankly at the screen. I do love party snacks though and if I were going to a party I would want to make:

Angela’s Black Bean Chili DipJessica’s Creamy Feta Dip with Jalapenos

Or….Jessica’s Toasted Almond Parmesan Dip (YUM) Anyone doing anything fun for the game (or making anything delicious)?

On that note, I think I need to start studying and stop thinking about food (why do I always have this problem?). I hope you are having a great weekend!

Life Lessons from Temple Grandin

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Temple Grandin speak.

Temple has her Ph.D.  in animal science,  is known as an expert in the cattle and livestock industry, is a professor at Colorado State University, and is a well-respected author. Temple Grandin also has autism.

A HBO movie was also recently made about her/her life (2010). They showed a clip during her presentation so it is definitely an accurate depiction...

It was SO COOL to hear  Dr. Grandin’s presentation (I work in autism research and my boss was able to get us admittance into the program). While  her discussion focused solely on autism (her experiences, how she views it, services she supports…), I found that many of her tips and experiences could be applicable to other situations as well.

Some of Temple’s statements that stuck out to me:

1. There are so many different types of thinkers/learners out there and it is ridiculous to think that everyone will learn the same way.

  • A person who thinks visually might not be able to do algebra very well (but will be able to design buildings flawlessly).
  • A person who thinks in a factual way will be able to list all the events of WWII without a problem, but most likely will not be able to draw very well or comprehend abstract principles.

We need to recognize these differences and realize that it is not that these individuals are less capable. They may just need to learn things in less “typical” ways.

2. If you need to learn a skill that you don’t want to or have trouble doing a specific task (e.g., engaging in social situations, talking in front of large groups of people, etc.), align that skill with a goal that you want to accomplish.

  • For example, if your dream is to be a software engineer at Google, you have to be able to communicate with others effectively and hold a conversation. You need to be able to:
  1. learn to talk to people ( in order to)
  2.  reach your career goal

 3. It is OK to cry!

  • Temple discussed that as a child, she didn’t understand how to express her emotions or how to change them. She said she used to take out her frustrations through aggression (she described throwing a book at a teacher) , but she later learned to replace her aggression with a different act: crying (since crying was more socially acceptable and didn’t cause any harm).
  • She said she still HATED high school, but learned how to effectively get through it.

4. Use your interests to expand your knowledge base

  • A lot of children on the autism spectrum tend to fixate on certain things or have specific interests (e.g., trains, cars, horses, history).
  • Instead of letting the child fixate and not move forward, Temple advised educators/parents to use those interests to  stretch the child’s mind…. If they like to draw horses, have them draw where they are riding to, what they are eating, etc. Have a child learn math by counting horses…

Temple brought up so many interesting points and really helped the audience understand how a person with autism may think or feel differently.

Even though this talk focused on the autism spectrum, I think many of Temple’s words and points are applicable to anyone. We all have struggles and are self-conscious about something. No one is perfect.

Some of  points I took away from the presentation (and those I felt could be generalizable):

  • Use your skills/interests to your advantage.  You have talents/thoughts/interests that are uniquely you…. USE THEM!

When Temple was asked whether she wished she could “take away” her autism, she replied, “No. I like the way I think, and I like the way I am. I think in a way that no one else can. I would never want to lose that.”

I LOVED this statement. I think we could all learn a little something from Dr. Grandin.

  • It’s OK to not be perfect at everything (but to realize that some skills are necessary to get you further in life)

Temple described how she learned to express emotions more effectively and learned to behave in a more social manner in order to get through school into the workforce (even though both of these skills so not come easily to her) .

I sometimes stress that I don’t like science enough to go into a science-related field, or that I am too introverted to work with people, but  I need to remind myself that it is OK to not be the best at everything.  Not every task will be enjoyable or come easy to me. It is OK to be a “work in progress” or work on tasks for a bigger purpose.

  • We are bound to get annoyed/frustrated/overwhelmed. We have a choice, however, on how we choose to react.

It is inevitable that this happens. We can’t be happy all the time. I think the power of choice is an important point to remember…

This presentation was so informative and inspiring. I loved how knowledgable Dr. Grandin was and how she was able to give the audience a perspective of autism that so few can do on such a large-scale. I feel really lucky that my job  gave me this opportunity. She inspired me to really use my “special skills” to my advantage…. I love listening to passionate/inspiring people.

Has anything inspired you recently?

The power of to-do lists

I hate doing certain things and tend to put them off as long as possible. The things most often put at the end of my list are:

  • going to the bank (why must their hours be so inconvenient??)
  • doing my laundry (even though it takes an hour total… I put it off until I literally have no more socks/underwear left, which can take a while)
  • paying my bills (I write down when they are due, but always pay them a few days before they are considered late… why?)
  • cleaning my apartment (I am a neat person and hate to admit this one, but I probably do not clean as often as I should…)

I am lucky, though, that I enjoy doing things that I know a lot of people hate. Such as,

  • going grocery shopping (I can spend hours grocery shopping… I love it)
  • running errands (I love driving from place to place, doing random tasks – I think I did this a lot as a child with my mom so I’m guessing that’s where this comes from? I would rather run an errand than sit around any day)
  • getting myself to the gym (for the most part I tend to workout anywhere from 4-6 days a week, which I’m proud of)

So this is probably a random post (sorry), but I was thinking about to do lists today. I tend to be a big fan. As soon as something is written on my list, it gets done (I love the feeling of crossing things off). In college, I would write assignments down in multiple places so I could cross out completed assignments more than once (I may be embarrassing myself a little now…).

Anyway, I have felt a little stressed recently, and I have been putting things off when I know I just need to buckle down and do them. I am usually quite the productive person, but I have been in a little bit of a funk recently. In order to feel more on track and in control, I made myself a to do list when I woke up this morning. It had three things on it:

1. Make granola bars for work (we are having a breakfast potluck tomorrow)

2. Clean bathroom/kitchen

3. Work out

And you know what, I did them all (I even cleaned my entire apartment, a task I never want to do)! Although the list was borderline ridiculous (I HAD to make the granola bars, and knew I was going to yoga tonight with my sister), it still felt good to cross things off the list and be productive. Its crazy what a simple task can do for the mood.

I just wanted to remind myself.. when feeling stressed, make a to-do list. It never fails.

Any tasks you hate to do and put off? Are you a fan of to-do lists?

My Food “Non-Negotiables”

One show that I hate to admit that I love is The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. There is something so enticing about watching first dates go well (or crash and burn…). Plus, I think Patty is pretty hilarious.

One thing that Patty always tells “her millionaires” to do is to write down their non-negotiables when it comes to love and relationships. A non-negotiable in this sense is basically a trait , quality, or value that a person must possess in order for you to want date them (e.g., humor, be of a certain religion, want to have kids….).

Since I tend to always have food on the brain, I thought this could be kind of fun to do in regard to food/healthy living, as in,  what  non-negotiables do you have in regard to food? Basically, what food “rules” (I am using this term lightly) do you follow/must you follow on a normal basis?

As for me, a few food “non-negotiables” that I have are:

1. I must have 20-30 minutes each morning to eat breakfast

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I have a little routine I follow every weekday morning. I like  to set myself up on my living room couch to watch the news as I catch up on blogs on my phone/computer. I love having this quiet time to myself before I start the day. Regardless of what time I have to go into work, I always make sure I have at least 20 minutes planned for breakfast.

2. I have to drink a glass of water every morning before breakfast

I started doing this about a year ago (probably when I realized that I am awful at drinking water through out the day), and now it is something that I routinely do. I don’t know if it is really beneficial at all, but I find that I am thirsty in the morning now (which is weird because I used to hate the taste of water in the morning). I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing…

3. I eat ranch on pizza

If I have had one too many drinks on a Friday or Saturday night, it is guaranteed that I will want a snack/snacks that night (ask any of my friends… I am a bottomless pit). Most likely, I will want pizza. The thing is, pizza is not complete in these instances unless I have ranch dressing to dip the pizza into.

I don’t even really like ranch dressing, and I really don’t eat that much pizza on a normal basis… but for some reason these two go together perfectly on those certain nights at 2 AM. I first discovered this at Penn State and now  it is just a fact of life. The ranch is mandatory.

4.  I pack my lunch for work every day

This is definitely a non-negoitiable for me. It first of all, saves me so much money, and also guarantees that I will always have a healthy/filling/delicious lunch during the week. I admit that it does take a little more time and effort to plan/pack my lunch (chopping veggies can take time), but with a little bit of prep work at the start of each week, I have pretty much streamlined the process.

5.  I must eat grilled cheese with yellow mustard

This one is kind of random, but if I eat a grilled cheese sandwich, I HAVE to have yellow mustard to dip it into (I am starting to notice that I have a weird dipping habit with certain foods…). I also prefer it to be French’s, but as long as it isn’t spicy/Dijon, etc. I’ll accept it. I guess I was raised to do this (I’m  pretty sure my mom/sisters do this as well), but grilled cheese isn’t the same without mustard to me. I probably would choose to eat something else if it wasn’t available. Anyone else do this?

So some of my “non-negotiables” are healthy habits while others are a bit more random I suppose…. I know we all have them though.

I am always interested in hearing what other people like to eat or how others eat on a daily basis (I suppose there is a reason why I love reading food blogs so much), so do you have any food “non-negotiables?”

Thoughts from a minivan

I sometimes find that my most most clear/profound thoughts come to me at the most random times.

Today I had a moment while picking up my company’s minivan from Pep Boys (long story short… the battery died, had to be replaced, and given that I had nothing pressing to do at work today, I was the lucky one who got to pick it up).

my sweet ride

Anyway, as I first waited for a city bus to take me to the Pep Boys, I started pondering life/my future (which is completely normal, right?), and started thinking about a conversation I had with my coworker, Taylor.

We were talking about careers earlier today (a topic we frequently discuss since we are both figuring out grad school/future plans right now), and discussing how difficult it can be to figure out “what you want to do with your life.” I was telling Taylor how I  keep getting  so frustrated and overwhelmed because I know what I am passionate about (nutrition, food, wellness, cooking….), but I don’t know what path to follow (psych, RD, culinary arts…)  or what career I eventually envision myself having. When you know you don’t want a cookie cutter career (like teacher, doctor, lawyer….), but still want to be successful, it can be quite difficult to draft a plan for yourself.  I have never been one to steer away from the “normal” path.

Something very helpful that Taylor said to me (she is so good at being blunt and  helping me see things in a different perspective) is this, “What do you see yourself doing if the path to get there wasn’t an issue? How will (insert degree) get you where you want to be?”

I realized (at this point I was finished at Pep Boys and driving back to work in the minivan) that all of my hesitation, doubt, and overwhelming thoughts stem from worrying about the “path,” not the final outcome.  I am scared of making  a bad choice, “wasting” my time in school, putting myself in more debt that I can handle, worrying that the end result won’t be worth it, and so on. Although these are valid and important thoughts to have when considering career options, it is not all that matters.

I saved part of a post I saw on Girl Meets Life a while back (written by Caitlin from the Twenty-Fifth Year) that I liked, and it is actually very relevant to this.

“Think about what you love.  Take away the fear of being judged, of failing and the uncertainty of what the result will be. Take away the audience, your peers and the idea of facing adversity. What are you left with? Oh yeah, that thing you love. And your mojo.”

I think this is something I have been failing to do recently. I have been getting so caught up in my fear, uncertainty and doubts that I have completely lost focus of what is important and why I am trying to figure all of this out in the first place.  But since there’s no time like the present, I think I am ready to put my fear/judgment/uncertainty aside… life may not always be easy, but it is too short to not do what you love.

I think I may need to take random mid-day road trips at work more often…

Questions:

Where do tend to think best? Other than minivans, I tend to come to many revelations on long car rides or often on long runs

Is there anything you love that are scared to pursue because of fear, judgment, etc.?