To be honest, I actually was never really in the smoothie hype. I can blame it partly to my grandma. Whenever I stay at my grandparents house when I visit them during the summer, my grandmother makes a “health” smoothie daily without fail. I appreciate that she takes the time to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the rest of my family to makes these smoothies, but boy, do they taste more like medicine than a drink. My grandma blends in all the superfoods she hears on the TV that the finished product doesn’t taste much of anything but a mix of bitter, sweet, sour, and salty.
Anyway, after meeting Serena who always talks about her smoothie breakfasts, I was intrigued as to whether this green smoothie hype was actually real. So, over spring break, I decided to at least try making a green smoothie once. Surprisingly, I grew to love it so much that I made and drank a smoothie every single day!
Now, this isn’t any ordinary green smoothie. Yeah, we have the berries, the banana, the avocado, and the greens (I used either kale or spinach – whichever one was already washed), BUT, I added in another ingredient called goguma.
Goguma is a Korean sweet potato that is widely known in Korea to be the “magic” food. It has a lot of nutritional benefits, filling but at the same time, calorically low that many celebrities swear on “Goguma diets.” I never thought to put goguma as one of the ingredients, let alone make a green smoothie, but my mom suggested it. I was bit skeptical but I decided to give it a shot, and let me tell you, it’s sooooo delicious! The goguma allows the smoothie to have a thicker consistency and taste sweeter.
While I soon ran out of some ingredients later during break, I always had my goguma (being a Korean, you always have frozen gogumas at your disposal 🙂 ) and this made my smoothies a success. So my smoothies varied from day-to-day in color, consistency and in purpose, but they all were so tasty. The colors would range from purple or green depending on what ingredient I put most, the consistency depended on how much goguma or avocado I put in as well as water, and purpose ranged from acai bowl to just a simple post-workout snack.
These are some pictures during the process. My family’s blender was ancient (we probably never thought to buy a new one after being horrified by my grandma’s smoothies, haha) so we decided to use a food processor and it worked just fine!
Here are some of the after pictures:
I can say from this spring break experience that I have officially jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon!
Have you made your own smoothies before? What other smoothies should I try?
I finally made a birthday cake from scratch. Its a green tea cake with green tea cream cheese frosting. Plus, it has strawberries on top. What’s not to like? 🙂
For the green tea cake, I followed this recipe. I baked the cake in a rectangular pan, and then cut out two hearts using a stencil. Then, I made frosting mixing an 8oz. pack of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and one teaspoon matcha powder. Frosting the cake was quite tricky because bits of cake would crumble when I spread a thin layer, so I had to use a lot of frosting. I decided to put strawberries on top because the cake looked quite bare.
It was so yummy! The matcha flavor really came through, not to mention the green color was very pretty. My only concern was that the cake itself was a bit dry, maybe because I cut the hearts out immediately after they came out of the oven.
Since Easter is coming up, I might bake another cake! Let me know what kind of cake I should bake in the comments 🙂
It’s a true but embarrassing fact that I can spend hours on YouTube. However, one of my most used excuses for watching YouTube videos is that they are informative, at least in the health realm. So here are a few of my top favorite health YouTube channels.
1.This Girl Audra | I love this YouTube channel because of the straightforward and candid manner in which Audra talks. While Audra focuses more on eating disorders and how to recover from it, I think everybody can take at least one thing out of her videos.
She talks everything from vegan diets, fixing your metabolism, getting your period back, to exercise addiction. My favorite series of hers is her “normal eating” series. It hits all the right points about how while it’s important to eat healthy, we should enjoy life as well. While this may be a bit TMI, one of my favorite analogies from her is that eating is just like any biological function, such as peeing. When we want to pee, we just go, right? We don’t pee halfway and then say, “No, I’ll pee later.” The same goes with eating. When you want to eat, you don’t just suppress that urge just like you wouldn’t suppress the urge to pee. Isn’t that an amazing analogy?
2.Josie Mai | Josie is such an upbeat person, that she’s infectious. She has been through so much (from eating disorder to binge eating to IIFYM to now intuitive eating), which makes her an even greater source for all things healthy from the inside and out. I love watching her vlogs because she accounts for her everyday healthy habits but in a real down-to-earth way. Her vlogs, just like Audra’s, doesn’t look staged but seems genuine, which I love.
3.Niomi Smart | A lot of you guys may have heard of Niomi Smart through her beauty videos, however, I’m more interested and in love with her Health/Fitness videos. Her videos are more edited and “professional” looking out of all the three, but sometimes her videos are a breath of fresh air after looking at the raw footages of Audra’s and Josie’s. Niomi does the best “What I eat in a day” videos, and she’s currently training for the London Marathon (so I might be a bit bias in loving her so much since I’m a distance runner too). In addition, Niomi and her former boyfriend Marcus Butler (another YouTuber) have started a snacking service full of healthy and natural snacks called SourcedBox.
What are your favorite health channels on YouTube?
Breakfast can get boring sometimes. I mean, it’s pretty much the same food everyday: scrambled eggs with mushrooms and spinach, vanilla yogurt with granola and banana and almond milk. I even have this breakfast on the weekends. And yes, maybe it’s my fault for not experimenting more. I used to make chia seed puddings and pancakes, smoothie bowls, etc. But now that I am in high school, let’s just say time seems to shrink everyday.
If you’ve never heard of this pancake I linked it above. Basically, I blended two eggs and one banana in my NutriBullet and cooked it on a pan. That’s it.
The result was quite delicious. Originally, I thought the portion size was too small, but it actually ended up being just enough to fill me up. Also, these pancakes are best made tiny, so it took me forever to cook them on a pan. So, a griddle would work a lot better. Overall, they were delicious with strawberries!
I also tried this Coconut Milk:
It was very tasty. Somewhat less creamy than what I am used to in almond milk, but very good and addicting 🙂
Today marks the halfway point of Serena’s and my two-week spring break. Being back at home definitely has its benefits, especially in the food realm. While I try my best to stay healthy by being creative in the school dining hall and bringing my own healthy snacks from home (i.e.: mom’s homemade granola bars and baggies of nuts), there’s only so much I can do.
The highlight of being back home for break is going grocery shopping with my mom. I seriously grin from ear to ear when pushing the cart down the aisles of Costco and Whole Foods. What’s new about this break than winter or Thanksgiving break is that I’ve found some health foods (some new, some old-favorites, but 10 to be exact) which I’m totally obsessed over now. So obsessed that it’s pretty much the only reason I don’t want break to end.
Here are the 10 food items I am currently obsessed about (in no particular order):
1. Coconut Flakes | Okay, so I used to hate coconut. When I was young, from ages 3 to 7, I lived in the Philippines, which is coconut heaven. I remember when we went to restaurants, the servers would bring coconuts that fell right outside the restaurant with a straw stuck into it. My parents drank the coconut water, but despite being the kid who usually eats all things, coconut water was just off-limits to me.
I started drinking coconut water during winter break of last year because I heard of its benefits especially to hydration. I was skeptical on trying it, but once I took one sip of it, I was sold. I loved it so much that I wondered why hated it when I was young; I regretted not drinking the fresh coconut water when I had the chance. Anyways, when I came home for spring break, coconut water was first on my grocery list. However, while in Trader Joe’s the other day, I found coconut flakes and decided to try it in my yogurt. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.
2. Kombucha | You probably heard of Kombucha before because it’s been all the range recently in the media. All the fashion guru’s whether on YouTube or on blogs have been touting about drinking Kombucha. I first heard about it from Chriselle Lim, a famous YouTuber who said she drank a bottle of Kombucha every single day. However, I heard about Kombucha at the end of the winter break, and because it isn’t stocked in most grocery stores except Whole Foods, I didn’t get a chance to try it.
Nevertheless, when I came home for spring break, I got two bottles of Kombucha at Whole Foods. It doesn’t taste weird at all, but I guess it depends on the flavors as well. I got Trilogy and Gingerberry. It taste like cider but a bit more acidic. As it was just my luck, when I went to Costco the next day, I saw a box of 6 Kombucha and of course, I put it in the cart. The flavor is Gingerade, which I like too. To be honest, I can’t taste the difference between the flavors.
For those who don’t know what Kombucha is, to put it simply, it’s a drink with probiotics in it which helps cleans your gut.
3. Larabar | Now while I love my mom’s homemade granola bar, they can get a bit bland so I was looking for some bars that had natural ingredients and sweet as well. And I found it in Larabars! The main ingredient of all Larabars are dates, which make the bar sweet. I’ve had so far Carrot Cake, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Cashew Cookie. I love Carrot Cake the best, but all three and all the Larabars have few ingredients, and all the ingredients are recognizable. Like Carrot Cake’s ingredients are: Carrots, dates, almonds, walnuts, raisins, pineapple and coconut.
The one downside about Larabars are that they are pricey. At Whole Foods they are $1.39 per bar and Trader Joe’s it’s $1.29 per bar. Would highly appreciate if anybody has some places they know that I can buy Larabar at a cheaper price!
I also am lost as to which flavors are good. I’ve gotten Cherry Pie, Apple Pie, and Peanut Butter Cookie to try in the future. Any flavor recommendations?
4. Aussie Bites | These were another discovery from YouTube, but from Becca Kay, a registered dietitian. While I was already happy from finding the 6-pack Kombucha, when I saw these Aussie Bites at Costco, can you imagine how happy I was?
These Aussie Bites have really simple ingredients, that I’ve seen a lot of blogs showing recipes for homemade Aussie Bites (as well as for Larabars). The main ingredients are: Rolled oats, dried apricots, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, honey, coconut, quinoa, chia seeds. The rest of the ingredients are also very clean and organic. They are seriously so good. They’re very sweet and are pretty much like muffins.
5.Chia Seeds | My mom always bought chia seeds, so we’ve always had them in the house, but I wouldn’t really use them in any of my foods. However, after seeing someone on YouTube (yet again, YouTube is great for health inspiration) sprinkle chia seeds on top their avocado toast, I decided to try it. And ever since I tried it, I’ve been eating my avocado toast with chia seeds. They don’t change the taste of the avocado toast, but just adds a crunchier texture and a bunch of health benefits!
6.Blueberries | I’ve tried blueberries before. But I think right now is blueberry season. They’re HUGE and they taste so so good. I’ve been eating them with every meal. It’s kind of obsessive, but it’s that good. It doesn’t hurt that they are antioxidants as well.
7.(Fuji) Apple | Again, like the blueberries, I’ve had apples before, but I never get to eat Fuji Apples while at school. So my sweet mom bought a whole box of organic Fuji Apples and they are delicious. I’ve been eating them every morning without fail.
8. Grapefruit | Like the blueberries and the apple, I’ve had grapefruit before, but I never get to eat them at school. Kind of seems like #6, 7, and 8 are all items I used to have at a regularly basis before boarding school but now never get to eat while at boarding school. I used to hate grapefruit thinking that it was too bitter, but now I love it. My mom loves it so much that she drinks the leftover grapefruit juice from the container; I’m not that obsessed with it. 🙂
9.Boba tea | This was something I really wanted to try. I’ve heard it from my friends and how it’s so good. So when my friends and I went to a Korean bakery shop that had it, I immediately rushed to the counter to order one.
The differentiating factor of Boba tea is that it has tapioca shells at the bottom. These tapioca shells are boiled which makes the chewy, jelly texture. They are seriously such a treat when you are slurping away and find one to chew on.
I am definitely having at least one more Boba tea before I leave for school. I had the Red Bean Boba tea and loved it. Any other flavor recommendations?
10. Avocado | I mean what kind of post about obsessions would it be without avocado? My mom picked out the best avocados this break. They are so buttery and seriously melt in your mouth. Sometimes, avocados become so ripe that the end taste is bitter. However, the avocados I’ve had recently aren’t bitter at all and are in the prettiest green. Ugh, I can’t even describe.
So those have been my latest 10 obsessions. What are yours?
Today’s post is a bit overdue, but better late than never right? I remember I made a promise in the beginning of the year to do monthly updates on my New Year’s Resolution. While it’s already the middle of March, I’ll do recap on how I did in February and how I’m doing so far in March.
Anyways, February’s goal was:Love yourself. Love others by showing patience, understanding. Reach out to old childhood friends. Pray for friends. Obey your parents.
I have to admit, February’s goal was pretty challenging. I’m someone who is very hard on myself. Thus, while I found balance in January, I still found myself dissatisfied. I kept on comparing myself to my fellow classmates who would write more articles than me for the school newspaper, run personal bests in track, already take ACTs and PSATs as high school freshmen, and so forth.
So let’s run down the list:
Love yourself | This is a work-in-progress that I feel will be a project for the whole year.
Love others by showing patience and understanding | I didn’t do too bad on this one, but I didn’t do my best. Attending a boarding school, it’s natural for your friends to ask if they can borrow your shoes, clothes, etc. However, I am very clean and neat with my stuff that lending someone my stuff is quite hard. This proved to be a huge obstacle for this month. Again, like the first sub-goal, this will be a work-in-progress goal that I will keep in my mind until I get it done.
Reach out to childhood friends | This was also a fail. I was so caught up with school and extracurricular activities that I didn’t have time to text my friends. However, I did contact one of my really old friend from when I was in kindergarten. Although she lives in New York, we had a decent conversation. However, with my friends back at home, not so much. Nevertheless, I’m catching up with them over spring break. In fact, I went and visited my old school this past Wednesday and just had lunch with one of my best friends today. Those two events were probably the highlight of my spring break. It was so nice to go back to my old friends and jump right back into a conversation as if nothing happen (when actually I moved 200 miles away).
Pray for friends | Not really. I have started doing daily devotionals though and always pray before I go to bed, but because I have so much stress in still adjusting to boarding school life, my prayers usually center around me. Again, this a work-in-progress goal.
Obey your parents | I don’t think this goal was specific enough. If we go word-for-word, then yes, I did obey my parents. However, I didn’t have much to obey because I’m away at boarding school. I think the actual goal was to show kindness, patience, and understanding to my parents, which again, I’m sure as all of you guys can relate, is always a work-in-progress thing.
So in a nutshell, February’s goal wasn’t too successful. However, I’m going to show self-love and forgive myself (did you see what I did there?).
Moving on to March, March’s goal is: LOOK UP/FOCUS | Find ways that help you focus. Look up to your role models – who they are and why. Look into things that interest you. Look up from your phone screen and take in your surroundings. Focus and study (this is in time for finals week haha)
Again, we’re going to go down the list:
Find ways that help you focus | I’ve started using the Pomodoro technique and Alex Ikonn’s Productivity Journal. So far, so good! Also, I’ve been telling to myself before spring break while studying for finals: “You’re almost there. Focus for the sake of spring break!!!”
Look up to your role models – who they are and why. | I have an on-going list. However, I’ll share this with you if a) any of you are interested and b) once I get the final list done.
Look into things that interest you. | Same thing as above
Look up from your phone screen and take in your surroundings. | A huge working goal right now. It does help that my Lenten challenge is to give up random Internet web-surfing. I’m actually thinking of making a post about this in the future about how not looking at my phone all the time has helped my health!
Even though I eat wholesome, unprocessed foods most of the time, I still from time to time eat processed and packaged foods. And truth be told, if you’re savvy and eat the right processed and packaged foods, they’re not too bad for you.
With all that being said, here is the skinny on reading nutrition labels! (pun sort of intended there :))
***also, these are for the United States, other countries are pretty similar, but all these following information apply specifically to the United States
–First, nutrition fact labels are mandated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). So on all packaged and processed foods, you’ll find the “Nutrition Facts” box plus the ingredients list.
–Starting with the “Nutrition Facts” box, these come in two ways. The vertical and horizontal. The vertical format is a lot easier to look and use, while the horizontal format is more confusing. The horizontal format is usually placed on foods that are smaller and make it hard for the vertical format to fit on, think about granola bars and such.
–Now under the big bold “Nutrition Facts” header, you have the serving size and servings per container. This is really important to look at.
First, it’s important when comparing two different food items while at the store. Let’s say you pick up a bag of granola and just like everyone, your eyes go to the Calories section. You see that granola A has 200 Calories while granola B has 150.
So you assume that granola B has less Caloric content and put that in your cart. HOWEVER, what if the serving size of granola A was 1 cup while the serving size of granola B was a quarter cup? This means that you just put the high caloric granola (not that calorie high foods are bad since not all calories are created equal) in your cart unintentionally. You need four serving sizes of granola B to match one serving size of granola A. So it’s actually a comparison between granola B’s 600 Calories to granola A’s 200 Calories.
It’s also important to note that the serving size that the food company recommends isn’t always the right portion. The food companies can make their serving size as big and small as they want to. So while you may think that eating 1 cup of granola is okay because that’s what the serving size says, 1 cup of granola might be in reality too much.
Nevertheless, you do want to be aware of the servings per container even if the servings themselves may not be correct. You don’t to be eating a whole pint of ice cream when the label specifies the pint is for FOUR, not ONE.
–Next, are Calories. I don’t think I have to talk too much on this section since Calories are what seem to run the food industry.
The scientific terms don’t really help much in defining a Calories (If you’re interested, one Calorie is the energy needed to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius).
We have all heard the phrase that not all Calories are equal, so Calories shouldn’t really dictate whether or not you eat the food. It really puzzles me to see people eat so many of those rice cakes. Whenever I ask them why, the response is something along the lines of low calories.
In terms of Calories, Serena is my role model. I remember that she told me that doesn’t really pay attention to Calories, and that’s amazing. That’s how we should live. (Now this shouldn’t be misinterpreted into a message where you are allowed to eat anything you want. NO, this is not that.)
One thing to note though, is that if a food item is less than 5 Calories, the food company can state that their food has zero-calories. That means that even if the food has 4 Calories, the nutrition label can still say zero calories. In reality, it actually doesn’t make sense that anything has zero calories. No matter how bad or good a food is, anything you put in your mouth is going to give you some form of energy.
Anyways, sometimes, you might not see unsaturated fats listed on there. However, if you subtract the other fats (Saturated fats, Trans fats) from the Total Fat, you’ll get unsaturated fats.
Also, similar to the less than 5 Calorie thing, don’t be fooled by that 0 next to the trans fats. Companies are allowed to put down 0g of trans fat if the food item has less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving. In my opinion, I think this is unfair and corrupt, but because I can’t do much about it, I’ll just have to stick with my savvy knowledge.
However, unlike the Calorie trick, you can get away with the trans fat one. You know a food item has trans fat if you look at the ingredient list. If in the ingredient list you see the word “hydrogenated,” this means it has trans fat.
–Next up, carbohydrates. I’m going to skip over cholesterol and sodium. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t have anything to do with your blood cholesterol, but in reality it’s the fats you eat that links with your blood cholesterol. For sodium, you really want to stay away from it as most as you can. Sodium is added salt.
For carbohydrates, you want it to have a lot of fiber. Fiber slows down digestion, aka, meaning you’ll full longer.
In terms of sugar, the higher the sugar, the higher the food’s glycemic index (GI). The GI of a food tells you how the increase of blood sugar that food is going to give. The lower, the better.
–Last but not least, protein is pretty simple because there is only one category. One important thing to note is that we don’t need that much protein than we think we should. These days, protein is all the rage. Protein bars, protein shakes, etc. But you get enough protein from foods that aren’t specifically rich with proteins. So you can easy with the proteins and proper muscle health and etc.
–Moving onto INGREDIENTS….
Ingredients are listed in order from which ingredient is the most abundant in that food to the least.
So in something like a loaf of bread, you should see the first ingredient something along the lines of flour. For granola, rolled oats.
Now onto my tips since it’s going to be hard to memorize and retain all the above information.
***One good thing to note is that you don’t have to follow all of these “rules” or “guidelines.” Personally, I don’t follow them all the time. It would be a sad life if I had to let go of a food item because it didn’t fit one of these rules. I’m giving these guidelines so it allows you to be a smarter and more aware shopper. While picking a food item, it’s going to be more advantageous to you to know about these following facts versus picking the same food and not knowing about it. In terms of nutrition knowledge, it contradicts the phrase “the less you know, the better,” but “the more you know, the better.”
For the Nutrients Facts portion:
serving size – Assuming that nobody carries around measuring cups, here are a few serving size equivalents that you can measure with your hand.
1 cup = the size of your fist
3 oz (this is the recommended serving size for meat – steak, chicken, seafood fillet) = your palm excluding your fingers (or the size of a deck of cards)
1 oz = the scoop of your hand
1 oz of nuts = 1 handful of nuts
1 oz = the size of your thumb => This is useful for spreads such as peanut butter. You can’t really scoop up a glob of peanut butter, but you can visualize a glob of peanut butter the size of your thumb.
1 teaspoon = the tip of your thumb
ex. 1 teaspoon of oil
The magic number for sodium is 140g
If the sodium content is more than 140g => labelled as high in sodium
If the sodium content is less than 140g => labelled as low in sodium
If the sodium content is less than 35g => labelled as very low in sodium
For the Ingredients portion:
Because the ingredients are listed from the most abundant to the least abundant, the first item on the list should make sense based on the food item.
For instance, a loaf of whole wheat bread’s first item should be whole wheat flour. However, some bread have water as the first ingredient. Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t to me.
If it doesn’t make sense, DON’T take the benefit of the doubt and actually be skeptic. In other words, put it back on the shelf and move onto a different food item.
Try to have the food item with the least amount of ingredients. The fewer the better.
Make sure you can pronounce andvisualize all the ingredients. I have to add in the visualize because some people can pronounce “monosodium glutamate,” but can’t visualize it.
Don’t buy the “natural” claim. For foods like Cheerios with their claim to lower cholesterol, they actually need to get it passed by the FDA. However, any company can patch on the label “natural.” That’s why you see on soda bottles, “natural” ingredients or in other places that don’t really make sense. So just keep a blind eye for the “natural” label.
Whew, that was a lot! All in all, life is all about pleasure and enjoying yourself. I wrote this post with the intention of making you aware but never to make yourself feel deprived. It’s important to find the 80/20 balance where you eat healthy and “perfect” 80% of the time and let yourself a bit loose 20% of the time. As much as it is important to be physically healthy, it’s important to be mentally and physiologically healthy. It’s all about finding a balanced and sustainable lifestyle and many a times this means letting yourself and indulge on not-so-good things once in awhile.
On Sundays, I come home starving after church. While there is snack after service, it’s not always the healthiest option (think potato chips, and supermarket cookies). So, I usually make this lunch to satisfy my hunger.
First, I butter one side of a slice of bread. Placing a slice of muenster cheese on the non-butter side, I place the bread butter-side up on a pan with low heat to melt the cheese, while not burning the bread, like a grilled cheese sandwich minus the top slice of bread. I toast the other slice of bread in a toaster, and then I prepare the tofu.
For the tofu, I drain the water from the package, and then wrap up the tofu with multiple paper towels to squeeze out the water. I heat up a pan with olive oil, and slice the tofu into thin, square shape slices. Then I pan fry the tofu, flipping when one side is golden brown.
Meanwhile, I prep the sandwich filling. I drain some tuna and chickpeas, and I mash the tuna with one teaspoon of tartar sauce. When I don’t have tuna around, I usually mash some chickpeas with one tablespoon of tartar sauce. This vegetarian version really has the same taste.
When the tofu is ready (both sides golden brown, about 5 minutes), I turn off the heat and plate it with about a teaspoon of soy sauce (I’ve also heard that coconut aminos is an excellent low sodium substitute).
When the cheese is melted, I transfer the toast to a plate where I place a layer of spinach, tuna/chickpea mash, and more chickpeas, followed by the toasted bread.