Summertime Bites!

In my last WIAW, I shared how I a little uncertain on how I wanted to carry on showcasing the food and drinks in my day. Wellllz, instead of a full day of eats, I’m just going to throw a loose idea of what I’ve been enjoying this summer into this post with no timeline attached. I like this much better. Woo!

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Mini coconut milk ice cream sandwiches
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TOAST! I’ve been into one sweet slice and one savory.
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Acai bowl from a local coffee shop. Topped with banana, bloobs, coconut and granola. I may bring my own nut butter next time because it was lacking on the fats but still tasty!
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Off-brand La Croix, yes please!
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Looks like vanilla. I’m not a vanilla girl. I’m a peanut butter girl!
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Rose lemonade topped with espresso. Strange yet AHMAZING
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Peaches and greek yogurt stuffed french toast!
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Beer flight!
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Pad thai with edamame noodles (Costco find!), onions, peppers, zucchini. egg and a sriracha peanut sauce
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Ice cream sandwich with peanut butter cookies, strawberry ice cream and sprinkles!
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Greek brown rice pasta salad with feta, chicken, spinach, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes and peppers!
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My grandma’s signature cinnamon rolls topped with sprinkles and a candle for miii birthday!
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Beet chips with hummus
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Maple cinnamon overnight oats topped with a diced peach and pecans

How Interning for Yelp Changed my Definition of Health

For nine months, I interned for Yelp. No, I wasn’t paid to write reviews. I know you were thinking that because 96% of the time, that’s the first question I get.

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I assisted the Community Manager in the city where my college is located by fostering the online community of Yelpers, helping plan events, assisting with television segment productions, attending local businesses’ events and using social media as a platform to support the happenings and wonderful spots in our city. And yes, I got a fair amount of free food along the way.

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Simply Rolled Ice Cream

In those nine months, I ate out a lot more than I ever have before. This fact alone transformed my life…stick with me to the end because I’m not being dramatic. Initially, this was all because of my Yelptern duties but only three of the pictures in this post were actually for work. Yelp introduced me to the most innovative and best reviewed local joints so I did what I now do weekly: share businesses’ links with friends left and right and left again with a “What are you doing on Saturday afternoon because Simply Rolled is having a pop up shop”. And right back in return I got a, “You always know the coolest places. I’m in!”

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Momo Ghar

My friends would make comments about this marketing internship and I remember them quite clearly. While a lot of them were so intrigued about my responsibilities and the events I was given the opportunity to attend, I received a fair amount of comments that reflected their diet-culture mindset. The ones that blatantly communicated the fear mongering of eating food that can’t be controlled. Such as, “You eat out all the time and haven’t gained a pound.”

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Coffee Connections

That comment may not mean a lot to you but as a (hopefully) future dietitian and frankly, human being who hopes people see me for more than what I look like, I don’t brush it off too easily. 1. Why do you associate dining out with weight gain? 2. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t weighed myself in a few years. 3. I truly truly hope that is not what you think about when you walk into a restaurant. However, you wouldn’t say that if a number on a scale doesn’t occupy space in that mind of yours.

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Hot Chicken Takeover

My weight may have fluctuated because that is freaaaking expected. It would be exhausting to do all in my power to not let my body change as it needs. I follow my hunger cues but I also know what it’s like to eat past satiety. Sometimes a double dark chocolate brownie tastes best on a full stomach and I’d call that normalcy. But I do just that; follow my hunger cues. I order whatever sounds best in the moment, typically stop eating when I’m satisfied and frankly, have much better things to turn my attention to.

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Zest Cold Pressed Juice

The more I ate outside of my home, the more I recognized that the emphasis is not on the food. It never is when I’m sitting down across from a beautiful soul.  It’s on that individual and our friendship that grows when we are sharing a meal. Although my camera roll is cluttered with plates and glasses from all over the city of Columbus, I don’t view it as that. Rather, it’s full of memories of who that second bowl belonged to (heyyo, Lez), what we talked about and what songs we sang together on the car ride to and from. It’s full of these edible, fleeing pleasures because hecckkya, food can look pretty and taste insanely good. However, to me, those can’t stand in the way of how it brings people together.

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From time to time, I would lose sight of this notion because I know that the majority doesn’t share my view of food and appreciation for all that my body does for me. I would think, ‘I need to stop posting when I’m eating out on social media because people are going to think I’m not “healthy”. They can’t see my pans full of roasted veggies and the ugliest shade of green smoothies (my roommates would actually make fake gagging noises when they saw it because ya, not the most adorable thing ever) in my home.’

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Zauber Brewing Company

I have come to learn that the molecular structure of food doesn’t qualify it for the category of “healthy” or not. PS, those quotations are there because I cannot take that word seriously anymore. What oh what does it even mean? Are you talking nutrient-dense or respecting your body’s natural cravings or restrictive eating with your “cheat meals” and “eat on a smaller plate to trick your eyes” and all that ugliness that seriously makes me cringe. Either way, placing such a big emphasis on food to determine an individual’s well-being is completely flawed. My definition of healthy has shifted over the past few years as I have been on the entire spectrum of health.

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Toast Bar

Spring of high school senior year, I was being readmitted into the hospital due to post-surgery complications. I will never forget the moment when my mom looked at my emaciated, helpless self sitting in a wheelchair and burst into tears as we were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. My body was failing me (I have a red blood cell disease) and I wasn’t doing a good job at taking care of it. I was going to school part-time because I was too weak to make it past lunch, let alone walk up the stairs. People started looking at me differently, I became very familiar with social isolation and I lost every bit of my vibrancy. Thankfully, a lot can happen in four years (far more than the fact that my scleras are now white instead of 18 years of anemic yellow woo!) 🙂

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Northstar

Spring of my college senior year, I was scheduling scone dates and walk n’ talks multiple times a week. I carried on with enthusiasm in my academics and on and off-campus involvement while finally treating myself with the delicacy that I had resisted for far too long. I was maintaining a Yelp online community while treasuring the in-person community of those in my life. I unraveled a new definition of the messy and loose and splendid term that is “healthy”.

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Meza Wine Shop

My version of healthy is:

Not working out after a night of little sleep because my body’s cortisol levels are much too high for any good to occur.

Making time for what I actually want to do and not what I feel expected to.

Drinking endless water refills of my healthy human (my side kick aka my beloved wooden water bottle) while saying yes to the cocktails as they come my way.

Scheduling plans on weeknights because I need friend time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and not just Saturdays.

Getting two scoops because I’m in tune with my body enough to know that one will not be sufficient for my hunger on some days.

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Bake Me Happy

It was Christmas break when I identified this transition. That month, I fell in love with nurturing the bonds I have with my long-time friends. It’s when I grew a new appreciation for food because it’s social, not because of the actual substance. It’s when my body reminded me that it was starting to trust me again after years of immense stress that literally shut off one of my body’s systems. Yelp in its dynamic, relational glory played a huuuge role in that shift.

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Alchemy Juice Bar & Cafe

You may never call these pictures of beer and ricotta pancakes and fried chicken healthy. But I do. I know what it’s like to not to and that life is not cute. Through interning at an eating disorder treatment center last summer and Yelp the past two semesters, I have never been surrounded by people whose relationship with food is so normal. It makes me sad saying that because I wish everyone fell into that category. But these folks who I worked alongside for the past year taught me so much more than the skills I have added to my resume.

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Kittie’s Cakes

Staff meetings with dietitians and clinicians had veggies with hummus right alongside cookies and ice cream. Everyone went through the line, created a balanced plate, didn’t make any justifying comments about how they “never eat ice cream” and moved on with their day of saving lives. Same goes for my Yelp supervisor. Our conversations about food in the meals that we shared were only of total amazement for the chef or baker’s talents and creativity. He knows how to throw the party of yo dreeeamz and food is the medium for celebrating people. Ahem, Bleu & Fig.

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Acre Farm-to-Table To-Go

Without even knowing it, they taught me that when you let go of the skewed view of health that is unfortunately normalized today, there is so much more space to think and talk about and conquer the million and two other things that make this life remarkable. Go canoeing with a friend to appreciate nature and your friendship, not to “get your workout in”. Get that fresh loaf of cinnamon raisin bread at the farmer’s market because it’s your favorite flavor combo, not because it has the FDA-approved whole grain label. Apply for that internship or job (just might be your best decision ever!) that you would utterly love and be challenged by, not because you meet every single qualification.

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Hai Poké

Do what brings you joy. Because that is what makes you healthy in all of the multi-faceted ways it can!! Thank you wholeheartedly for teaching me this new definition of health, Yelp. XOXO TO THE MAX! ❤

WIAW: Home Sweet Sweet Home

HI hi! I haven’t done one of these WIAWs (What I Ate Wednesday) posts since January and the one before that was last summer. The infrequency is because I’ve been thinking ‘Why does anybody need to see what I eat in the hours I am awake? We all have different taste buds, food preferences, hunger cues, activity/stress levels and other lifestyle factors that all affect meal and snack choices. What I eat is different than everyone else. As it should be!’

However, it’s fun to gather up these pics for ideas and even just to peek into someone’s life! That’s why I still read them all the time from so many bloggers. P.S. an updated blogs I read post is coming next week!!

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After sleeping in three hours past my usual wakeup time (don’t know why but my body is smarter than I’ll ever be), breakfast aka lunch was a whole grain english muffin with peanut butter, a thin layer of greek yogurt and strawberries! These strawbs were on sale yesterday and I’m ALL ABOUT shopping seasonal produce. Also all about this homemade snickerdoodle (added 2 dates, a bunch of cinnamon and 2 tsp maple syrup in the food processor) almond milk that I put in my iced coffee. Especially while enjoying it in a sunny spot in our living room!

My to-do list for the day was all over the place from finishing unpacking to preparing for my summer classes and making a CD for my car because I’m not a fan of the radio these days. I took a break for a snack plate.

This garlic spread is my new obsession. I got my mom hooked too. I had it with carrots, peppers, coconut oil potato chips and hummus. Followed up by a clementine for something sweet!

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I made these healthy cookie dough bites with the leftover almond pulp from my almond milk making. I wanted something more substantial so while these cooled, I had POW! mac and cheese with lentil noodles. Nothing is wrong with regular noodles but I’m always looking to get in more vitamins and minerals. And was still hungry so I ate a big apple!

I read a few blog posts and got in a workout that was interrupted by helping my sister with her wedding registry. Gahhhh I love living with my sisters again! And cannot wait for my brothers to finish up their semesters this week to join us!

Last night, I made these chickpea walnut tacos with avocado crema and cabbage slaw in blue corn tortillas instead of sweet potatoes for the fam. DIVINE. I threw the “meat”, leftover slaw, sliced avocado, crushed up taco shell and salsa on a big base of romaine. Even betttta day 2!! Love when that happens!

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I finished the night with an almond pulp cookie, typing up this post and reading some Brené Brown. Love her, this book, these cookies and this sweet home time. Hope your day ended just as nicely!

My Favorite Breakfasts!

People ask me what I eat allllll the time. Maybe it’s because I share with them that I absolutely love spending my time in the kitchen and hardly ever follow a recipe. Or because they see me snacking on something and are curious about what other foods I enjoy. Or possibly because of my new career goal in the making as a registered dietitian (happiest Registered Dietitian Day to you, by the way!).

I don’t know the answer but I’m content to share my answer with you: breakfast edition! Breakfast is my FAVORITE part of the day. I crave slow mornings. I savor each moment before I have to walk out my door at 7:51 to make it to my 8am at 7:58. The stillness, coffee and Jesus time are absolute bliss! It is common for me at any given day to think, ‘I just really wish it was tomorrow morning already.’ Tomorrow morning is always the best!

Most days, I wake up hungry so breakfast is engrained into my morning routine. Maybe breakfast isn’t your sweet raspberry chia jam and that’s cool too! I am not advising you to eat these foods if you don’t enjoy them. I am not advising you to eat what’s on my plate if they do not meet your nutrition needs. These are my favorite breakfasts that are always on rotation but there are many others out there that may be more suited for you! I hope this gives you a few ideas or maybe it will simply be fun to scroll through 🙂

Van’s whole grain waffles topped with greek yogurt, drizzled almond butter and blackberries.

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Overnight oats! My favorite is with blueberries (frozen > fresh..trust me!) and a warm combo of nut butter (Trader Joe’s Mixed Nut Butter is my current picking) and coconut oil. Or in a nearly empty nut butter jar because that is purely and indescribably heaven!

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Smoothie-ing it on up! I typically don’t go for this until later in the day unless I’m home alone when I wake up. I feel terrible using the blender at 6am in a house full of sleeping girls with busy days ahead. My go-t0 is half a banana, blueberries, spinach, coconut almond milk, half scoop Vega protein, spirulina and occasionally topped off with cacao nibs, bee pollen or homemade granola! Pro tip: it’s a grand idea to drink a dark green smoothie poured to the brim in your white bed.

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Avocado toast! SO good topped with tomatoes and/or a fried egg and/or olive oil and sea salt! Even better shared with a friend!

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Annnd another toast because the possibilities are so endless…parfait toast! It’s sprouted bread with greek yogurt, berries and homemade granola (just oats tossed in coconut oil, vanilla extract and cinnamon and baked until it becomes golden!)

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Honorable mention: Griddle muffin breakfast sandwich from Baba’s in Columbus. If I could re-create this masterpiece to half of the glory that it is, I would. This was theee most delicious english muffin, egg, havarti cheese and zucchini and carrot ribbons. YUMZ.

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The Best Food I Ate This Week

And it has nothing to do with the food. Let’s back up to last week’s grueling nutrition class.

I’m not one to complain. I try to find the good in everyone and everything and only speak about these things while keeping the negative aspects to myself. It’s usually never necessary for others to hear them and it only brings the mood down. As the Bishop of Columbus said today (I wrote this on Saturday, February 18) at the Columbus Women’s Catholic Conference, “A Christian’s tongue should look like swiss cheese from biting it so many times.” TRUE.

However, the nutrition class I’m currently taking is different than I was hoping. Last week, the topic was weight management. You should just see my notes. I wrote phrases like “Ew.”, “I hate this” and “NOOOOO” on my printed PowerPoint slides.

Yes, it’s an important subject matter as many people genuinely do not know how to care for their bodies. But the manner and tone in which it was taught  1) broke my heart and 2) left me aggravated. I ranted to my roommate as soon as I walked in the door and she just smiled and told me she likes when I rant because I rarely do.

I fully understand that the students in the class who laughed along have not been exposed to the mental health side of nutrition as I have. I also fully respect my professor and recognize that she is highly educated and holds a fair amount of experience in dietetics. But learning about ways to control hunger like hunger is a disease that needs to prevented at all costs made me want to get up and leave. I didn’t and wrote those phrases above instead. The phrases kept coming as the class with nonexistent compassion went on and on and onnnn.

I LOVE hunger. I love the feeling of hunger. I love it because it’s a physical signal that allows me to trust my body. It will tell me when it needs energy and nutrients or when it’s good to go. This day-long communication gives me the choice to respect myself while giving my body the ability to work endlessly for me in every system (heyyyo brain, skin, muscles, bones, hormones, blood, heart, lymphatics, etc.). Hunger is a beautiful beautiful thing!

And when hunger is paired with relationships, I’m in bliss. My favorite part about food is undoubtedly how it brings people together. 98.6% of the time, family/friend gatherings and life celebrations have a food component. Not because hunger needs to be controlled but because in the relationship building, we get to share in the life-giving act of nourishing ourselves. Whether it’s food that allows our bodies to function optimally or food that feeds our souls, the emphasis (for me and I hope you too!) is the conversation, laughter and memories being made. Eeeeeks who wants to share a meal with me soon because this is literally the sweetest thing!!!!

So with my ranting passion turned excitement, I’m leaving you with pictures of food/people/both from the past seven days. Partly due to my internship with Yelp and partly because I treasure one on one time with my friends, this week was overfillllled with time spent with the loveliest of people I have a honor of knowing over food.

As the title states, this is the best food I ate this week. Because of the people I ate it with and absolutely nothing to do with the actual food. Pleasure is SO IMPORTANT in eating but if I put that above relationships, I would be a living an extraordinarily sad life. If you want to read about this topic further from actual registered dietitians and not a girl who will (hopefully) be one in four years, read this and this and this.

Saturday, February 18: Cake at Katie’s baby shower! I met this sweet girl three years ago when we lived in the same dorm as little college freshman. She’s my first friend (my age) to have a baby so the excitement for her little girl to arrive IN THREE WEEKS (NOW TWO) is the highest. The chocolate cake to celebrate her and the life she is bringing into this world was lovely!

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Sunday, February 19: Coffee with Shruti! After receiving the best nourishment this world has to offer in the Sacrifice of the Mass, I introduced my dear friend, Shruti, to my favorite coffee shop (Coffee Connections in Hilliard for you Columbus people!). We snagged the best seats in the house (literally a renovated house) for longer than our parking meters allowed. Did we get all the work done that we intended to? Nottta chance. But we savored our coffee and each other’s presence even more!

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Monday, February 20: Vegan Monday with Maddie! One of the bloggers I follow created a vegan menu for a Columbus restaurant that is only served once a week so I took my favorite vegan pal! Maddie is the best listener, most grand story teller, super silly and a wise wise girl with the biggest of dreams . She is the type of person whose presence makes you feel fully alive…oh do I love her! We split a tempeh reuben, truffle fries and a warm salad with kale, brussel sprouts and apple slaw. MAJ.

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Tuesday, February 21: Pizza Party with Liv! I had an event to go to and was able to bring a friend so Olivia graciously joined me! We met each over email when a professor asked us to work on a PR project together and we’ve clicked since then! This event was a pizza party collaboration with a fried chicken restaurant and a pizza shop to raise money for a local nonprofit. There’s nobody I would rather eat fried chicken and a pickle on pizza and a sweet tea cocktail with!
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Wednesday, February 22: Sushi with Maria. Maria and Liv are roommates so I snagged one after the other to catch up with 🙂 After switching my career path and no longer being in our school’s communication building, Maria and I hardly see each other so it was beeeyond necessary that we matched up our Google calendars. Eating immense amounts of sushi followed by playing Yahtzee in a fort we made in her living room made our hearts immensely full! You can never ever ever be too old for a fort!

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Thursday, February 23: Fancy Cocktails in Low-Key Places with Sarah. Each week, my internship releases an online newsletter and I get to try out one of the spots with a friend! This week’s newsletter was titled, “Fancy Cocktails in Low-Key Places” so my bestdafrand, Sarah, and I ordered the coolest cocktails on the menu (hers had bee pollen like WUHT YES PLEASE). She proceeded to patiently wait as she always does when I took 402 pictures and insta stories. We followed this with pizza and a nice long walk n’ talk in my favorite part of the city aka what both of us so desperately crave (the quality time, not pizza hehee)!

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Friday, February 24: Pho with Yelpers! We did an event for Columbus Kindness Month so I had a PHOtoshoot and the next day, was at the restaurant again for lotza hours to greet Yelpers and explain the event’s process. Meeting people you’re friends with on the Internet for the first time in person is seriously strange. Yet also refreshing that you already know who each other are and have a common bond over being foodies! I had quite a few memorable conversations over this incredible Vietnamese soup!

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What’s the best thing you ate this week?! Call me, Facebook message me, write me a handwritten note, leave a comment. None of the above or all of the above. I want to know how a meal or latte or ice cream cone brought you together with a pal or 27 🙂