Making My Own Kombucha

Kombucha. You’ve probably heard about this fizzy, probiotic drink from plenty of food and wellness bloggers. Kombucha is the product of fermenting sweetened tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Kombucha has been lauded for its ability to

  • Improve Digestion
  • Weight Loss
  • Increase Energy
  • Detox
  • Support Immune System
  • Reduce Joint Pain
  • Prevent Cancer

But, kombucha typically sells for $3-6 at supermarkets, which can really add up overtime! I decided to brew my own kombucha to see if it actually lives up to its health claims.

I started brewing my kombucha in February and I used a recipe by The Kitchn; it’s super detailed and explains everything step-by-step.

Just as a helpful note:

Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer. (The Kitchn)

One of my friends’ sister was brewing kombucha as well, and I used a piece of her SCOBY.

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The scoby looked a little something like this! (Improving-SCOBY-Health.jpg)

I kept the kombucha in a dark area and let it sit and brew. Every couple weeks, I would give it a taste test to  make sure it wasn’t too sweet, but it also wasn’t too sour and vinegar-like. Finally, at the end of April, I decided it was ready!

 

 

 

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Look at that scoby!

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So, you can see that the scoby grew to be huge and super thick. The kombucha tasted sweet and vinegary, with just the right amount of carbonation. I drank 1/2 cup of kombucha a couple times every week, so here are my observations:

  • Claims to improve digestion –> From my experience, I was actually more gassy than before!
  • Increases energy –> I guess the vinegary kick from the kombucha did give me more energy…but the drink is super sugary, and the longer it was left in the fridge, the sweeter it got (something to do with the fermentation process…), and for me personally, the kombucha was too sweet.

In conclusion, I don’t really think kombucha is worth the hype based on how it made me feel. I must admit that I do feel very healthy sipping that ice-cold kombucha, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it is worth the money, or effort and time to make it.

What do you think about kombucha?

Love,

Serena

 

Foodie Alphabet

I think one of the greatest things about blogging is the community. While at first I was intimidated on commenting on other people’s blogs, to be honest, the conversations I have through blogging have been so invaluable.

One blogger that I’ve been following ever since I created Avolicious is Shadee from Izzie’s Kitchen. Shadee continues to amaze me with the dedication and amazing quality posts she churns up daily (or sometimes multiple posts in a single day!). Particularly, the titles to her blog posts are always SPOT ON. You have to check her out – she’s amazing beyond words.

Anywho, Shadee challenged me to do the foodie alphabet after she posted her alphabet on her blog a couple of days ago. Of course, as the foodie I am, I was excited to take part in this challenge. Thanks, Shadee for this challenge! My hope is that all my 26 favorites are different from Shadee’s!

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I challenge:

Stephanie’s Foodie Alphabet

Avocado (duh..what did you expect? 😉 )

Banana (I eat one every single day)

Chickpeas

Durian (fun fact: I used to hate these. When we were living in the Philippines, my mom would buy them at least twice a month. My dad and I refused to eat it. However, a bit older, I guess my tastebuds have matured. – Glad they did, durian is so good. )

Eggplant

Fettucine Alfredo (I know…not that healthiest, but in moderation … 🙂 )

Grapefruit

Hummus (I’m not cheating – chickpeas and hummus are independent things. At least for me haha)

Instant Apples & Cinnamon Oatmeal (much needed sometimes on a cold rainy morning)

Japanese Sweet Potatoes

Kiwi (Kimchi is a close second)

Lychees (had so many of these when I was living in the Philippines)

Mango

Nectarines

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Persimmon

Quinoa

Rice!!! (I am an Asian by heart, am I right???)

Salmon & Smoked Salmon

Tofu

Udon

Vanilla Ice Cream

Walnuts

Xigua (apparently this is the Chinese word for watermelon. I couldn’t find any “x” words so I switched my W – Watermelon to Xigua and put Walnuts up)

Yogurt

Zucchini

What’s your foodie alphabet?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

 

“Healthy”

Today was sort of a scary day for me.

I had a massive stomach ache.

Now usually, stomach aches are normal for me. I’ve had gas problems as a child so my tolerance for stomach aches are quite quite high.

However, today, after having lunch with my mom, I had a massive stomach ache. Something that I was not used to tolerating.

Initially, I thought it was just that I ate a lot. That what I was feeling was fullness. Like literally as we drove out of the restaurant I was like, “Darn it, Stephanie. Why did you eat so much? Remember: hara hachi bu! Only eat until 80% full. You stuffed yourself.”

But after a couple of minutes, I felt a pang in my stomach. It was different to fullness – no, I’m a common customer for fullness. I literally stuff myself full like every other meal lol. No, it wasn’t fullness.Was it gas? No – I’ve been having gas problems since 5 years old and this was definitely not gas. Then what was it?

It was really hard to diagnose what I had and even looking at water made me want to vomit. I just couldn’t fathom putting anything in my mouth.

Short end of long story, the pain decreased after 30 minutes. By then, I could tolerate it. And this again, remind you, is my high tolerance for stomach pains. But after about 2 hours, it was completely gone.

I still don’t know what that incident was and I probably won’t know in the near future, but what I do know is that my wellbeing is the utmost priority.

It’s at times like this that I realize I take too many things for granted. I nitpick at the thickness of my thighs, the “wings” on my arms, the flab on my stomach. I suck in my stomach whenever I pass the mirror. But at times like this, I realize that I was shallow.

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If you couldn’t tell…my fingers are forming a heart. Giving much love and kisses to those who need love because we are all beautiful.

As mentioned in my self-love post a few days ago, I’m still in the process of loving my body. Loving it truly the way it is right now. That the reason I’m eating healthy and that I exercise is NOT because I hate how my body looks and I want it to look a certain way, but because I want to feel nourished and empowered and healthy. That word, healthy is abused so much here, but today, this incident reminded me what healthy meant.

Healthy does not mean a certain number on the scale. A certain number on the label of your clothes. A certain number of how many calories you’ve eaten. Healthy does not mean your appearance. For the better or worse, healthy means different to everyone. It’s such a relative term which is why I think it’s been abused so much.

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But as I’m slowly moving forward in my self-love journey, I start to build my own definition of healthy. And so far this is what I have: being healthy means to enjoy life without any limitations.

I really don’t want to get that stomach ache ever again – a stomach ache that I could barely sit still with. A stomach ache that I truly felt helpless and out of control with my body.

So yep. That’s what healthy means to me thus far. I’m sure as I add more years and experience to my life, this definition will change. But so far, that’s it: to enjoy life without any limitation. To feel powerful and confident.

What does healthy mean to you?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Nom. Nom. Nom.

Hopefully those who were hit by Storm Stella are all safe and sound with no power outages!

Nothing screams snow days more than food. And lots of food to be exact.

Just like I do over every break, here’s what I’ve been eating lately.

Beware: picture overload

As much as I consider myself a self-educated health nut, I do think that my mom is a health-nut in her own ways. I was never allowed to eat McDonalds, juice was banned from my house when I was in fourth grade, instant noodles were never allowed, etc.

So when I come back home, it’s great that while I crave my mom’s cooked meals, the meals are healthy as well! Here is one meal for example:

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From top left: my mom’s kimchi and kkakdugi and picked perilla leaves; scallops with arugula and pork and vegetable stir-fry

I’ve also had a lot of salads coming back home:

My mom and I also tried out this new pizza from the “healthy” aisle of our supermarket.

My mom and I agreed it was a 10/10. It was super delicious and super easy to make (less than 10 minutes!)

I, of course, went to Costco (aka my happy place). I love that feeling when you’re literally giving in all your weight as you push that Costco cart brimmed with good food 🙂

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And for miscellaneous: I’ve been having my favorite breakfast cereal/oatmeal combo, lots of avocado.

And last but not least, before Storm Stella hit us, my mom and I went on another much-needed lunch date. I got the salmon terriyaki lunch box and my mom got the pork lunch box. They were very good – we finished it all!

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So that’s it for this week! As you can see, break so far has been filled with wonderful food and family time.

What are your favorite eats?

xoxo,

Stephanie

VIDEO: Avocado Toast

I decided during lunch today (while my parents were out attending a wedding), to film a video of how I make my avocado toast lunch.

As you can see from the video, it’s super duper simple to make this lunch! Let me know of what you think of the video. I really want to start doing more video content so if you have a suggestion for a type of video you’d like to see me do, leave the suggestion in a comment!

Enjoy!

 

How do you like to eat your avocados?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Lately Obsessed #5

I’ve been home for spring break for five days now, but these five days have been jam-packed with good food (that’s always the highlight of coming back home 😉 ).

So I decided to share some of the food I’ve been eating in the beginning of break in the “Lately Obsessed” format.

Ready for a picture overload? Let’s go!

ONE // Lunch dates with my mom @ Nordstrom Cafe

Nordstrom Cafe isn’t anything special, but my mom and I have been going there for lunch ever since I was in 3rd grade, so it’s pretty much a staple in our books. Whether it’s lunch after I get let out of break, after a play, after field day, after finals, after a long and tiring shopping trip, my mom and I love to eat at Nordstrom Cafe. There are perennial favorites such as the penne pasta or the vegetable panini. They had a few months ago a kale and mushroom salad special and it was so good! Please bring it back!

This time around (we literally went to Nordstrom Cafe the first full day back home haha), we got the penne pasta but we decided to order the prosciutto arugula salad. We were pleasantly surprised – the pizza was really really delicious! Funny though because both my mom and I took off the prosciutto which we joked was probably why the pizza was on the pricer end, haha.

 

TWO // Healthy snacking

Some say three solid meals a day, some say five to six small meals a day. I go back and forth, ranging from three to six meals, but the past few days, I’ve been snacking on some crackers. I’ve eaten Terra chips before, but these kale crackers!!!! They are soooo good. They have a lot of flavor and are great to go with hummus. My mom and I finished the entire container that afternoon we bought them from the grocery store, haha (although to be fair, there weren’t a lot of crackers to begin with).

 

THREE// The salad bar at my dad’s workplace

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I’ve definitely ranted about this before in previous blog posts and in my Instagram stories (follow us at @avolicious_blog), but my dad’s office has THE BEST salad bar. Like seriously…  Today, I brought an avocado from home since the one thing that the salad bar doesn’t have is avocado, which is understandable (that’s called dedication haha). But otherwise, everything is from this insane salad bar. I have arugula as the base, quinoa, barley, roasted butternut squash, pesto cream chicken, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, and sunflower seeds drizzled with olive oil. <insert face with heart eyes emoji here>

FOUR// Dinner’s at home

Nothing beats mom’s cooking! My mom makes THE BEST japchae (a Korean noodle dish). She made it the first night back (she knows me and my tastebuds too well haha). And also, despite being allergic to crabs and lobsters, tonight we had crab cakes for dinner. Argh…so good! She also got lots and lots of grapefruit for me from Costco (grapefruits are my favorite winter fruit). So yeah…I’m just in tastebud heaven right now.

 

FIVE// Lots and lots of avocado toast

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What did you expect? Of course, I’m chowing down on my avocado toasts! I think I’ve had one at least once every day I’ve come back home. I mean look at that color! Together with the chia seed (and sometimes smoked salmon if we have it in the house) and perfectly toasted bread, ugh it’s a feast for the stomach!

What are your latest obsessions?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck

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Personally, I think this is such a powerful quote. As one who is a perfectionist, I always want to do things perfectly. Perfect grades, perfect work ethic, perfectly organized desk, perfectly organized room, a perfect life. And of course, this perfectionist attitude took a toll on me (and I’m sure with others too), when I wanted a “perfect” body.

Now “perfect” is such a relative word. How do you measure what is perfect and what is not? Most times, if not all times, it’s the image that society and the media show. Those tall and lean girls with toned abs, thigh gap, and no bat wings – that’s what we deemed as “perfect.” Now, I’m not going to talk a lot about body image on this post because 1) I’ve talked about it on the blog before and 2) there’s a lot on the Internet about this topic.

So I want to address the second clause of this quote: “you can be good.” I lost a significant amount of weight over the course of three months in order to reach my “perfect” body. I was determined and resolute that this would make me happy and fulfilled. But as I lost my body, I lost my self-esteem and my self-confidence together. I started putting my worth as an individual on the number of calories I ate that day, the number that was put on the weighing scale. My happiness and my self-esteem solely came from those factors: that I was skinny enough and that I was eating only 1,200 Calories.

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Eating to my heart’s content – eating what I want to eat, NOT what my calorie limit tells me I can.

But when I hit the low point of this “perfect” body – I was losing hair, my hands and feet were getting increasingly cold when it was the middle of summer, I haven’t a period in four to five months, I was constantly tired despite clocking in 8 hours a day. My doctor, my family, and my friends were warning and advising me that this was extremely dangerous for me – that this is not the Stephanie they used to know and should not be the Stephanie that should follow. So long story short, I realized that I don’t have to have the perfect body. I don’t have to have that thigh gap. I don’t have to have perfectly toned abs, it’s fine and normal that I have flab hanging over my stomach when I’m sitting down. I don’t have to have slender arms, I can have a mini bat-wing or angel wing (whatever you want to call it). I don’t have to be perfect, I can be simply good. And for me, good means not the physical appearance but the internal state. To nourish and fill myself up with nutrient-dense, fresh, green, and clean foods. To give my body the nourishment, the physical activity, the rest, and the meditation that it so needs and deserves.

So again, mini-rant here today, but remember, GOOD, not perfect. GOOD.

Have you had to switch your mindset from perfect to good before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

20 Reasons to Exercise and Eat Healthy that are NOT Weight Loss

I wanted to write this post because it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot over the past weeks. I talked briefly in a recent blog post that I’ve been falling out of my healthy eating and exercise regime lately. As Serena was encouraging and pushing me to eat healthy and exercise like my normal self, I thought back to why I exercised and why I ate healthy. I read over some of my blog posts (especially the one about why I workout – my first every blog post!), and I complied a comprehensive list of reasons to exercise and eat healthy.

Now, there are definitely girls and friends around me who are “skinny” and slim, but don’t eat healthy. I really hope that I can deliver the message that eating healthy and exercising should not be done for the sole purpose of losing weight (although that’s what society and the media seems to be spreading). Healthy eating and exercise reaps far more benefits than a physical appearance. So here is my list of 20 reasons on why you should eat healthy and exercise.

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To exercise:

  1. Works as an antidepressant.
  2. Reduces PMS
  3. Reduces stress and anxiety.
  4. Increases creativity
  5. Strengthens your heart
  6. Reduces risk of other diseases such as metabolic syndrome, many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease …
  7. Add years to your life … and life to your years.
  8. Allows you to respect your body.
  9. Improves self-esteem – inside and out.
  10. Helps you sleep well.
  11. Pumps you up
  12. Gets rid of bad fad and increases good fat!

 

To eat healthier:

  1. Makes you happier
  2. Protects your bones
  3. Gives you a stronger immune system
  4. Helps cure irritable bowl syndrome (IBS)
  5. Gives you clear skin (check out my recent post on this)
  6. Soothes sore muscles
  7. Gives you more energy
  8. Reduces cravings for “bad” food

 

With all these reasons, eating healthy and exercising does not mean that you want to lose weight. It means that you want to reap all these health benefits!

Why do you eat healthy/exercise?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

Almond Milk – Is it good or bad?

Ok. So I looove almond milk. But one of my closest friends hates almond milk. Hates almond milk with a burning passion. Apparently it’s a F- on her scale.

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So we always have arguments regarding almond milk. So today on the blog, I want to talk about almond milk in an unbiased way (or at least I’ll try).

So starting with the benefits:

  1. Has lower calories | One cup of almond milk has 60 calories, opposed to 146 calories in milk.
  2. Almond milk is heart healthy | There’s no cholesterol or  saturated fat in almond milk. It is also sodium and has healthy fats (from the almonds, omega fatty acids).
  3. It keeps your bones strong | Almond milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk and has a good amount of vitamin D. These two nutrients help for strong bones.
  4. Keeps your skin glowing | Almond milk has 50% of the daily amount of vitamin E. Vitamin E has antioxidants that are great for your skin’s health.
  5. Doesn’t contain lactose | For those lactose-intolerant people, almond milk is a good substitute for milk.

Onto the bad stuff:

  1. Almond milk has high levels of tyrosine. | Tyrosine affects the level of thyroid hormones, so people with thyroid, it’s best to avoid.
  2. Almond milk also has a lot of thickeners. | In most thickeners, there is the ingredient carrageenan. Carrageenan has side effects that causes digestive distress such as excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, and fatigue.
  3. It isn’t “real” milk. | Unlike cow milk, almond milk is made from factories. However, while it’s not natural per se when compared to regular milk, but in terms of processed foods, almond milk is not the worst. It may be one of the better processed foods.

I actually think that the pros of almond milk outweigh the bad. So think what you think, but I’m going to continue drinking my almond milk!

Are you a yay/nay to almond milk?

xoxo,

Stephanie

One “Bad” Meal Won’t Make You Fat, Just Like One “Good” Meal Won’t Make You Skinny

I think the title says it all, don’t you think? One “bad” meal won’t make you fat just like one “good” meal won’t make you skinny. Note that I put the “bad” and “good” in quotes, if you don’t get it, check out my blog post from a few days ago about stop moralizing your food choices.

Anyways, I just wanted to give a short reminder to y’all. This week has been a “bad” week for me. In the past two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) I’ve eaten five slices of pizza. In the past two days, I’ve eaten in my school dining hall for 3 times. So the other 3 times, I’ve been eating take out.

Now, in my standards, this is “bad.” I’m the one who advocates for clean, unprocessed foods, but here I am eating junk food. But you know what? What happens, happens. Life is life and some days are out of my control that I need to eat those foods. Those 5 pizzas were all my meals. They weren’t snacks, but a meal replacement because I was so busy I missed my school’s dining hall hours. If I didn’t eat the pizza just so that I could maintain my “good” diet, than I would have been starving myself. And that’s not healthy.

I hope you guys realize that in some context, “healthy” doesn’t mean eating “good” foods all the time. It’s about sometimes stepping down and acknowledging that your meal this one time is going to have to be “unhealthy” because there are no other foods that you can eat. And that’s perfectly fine. Don’t be hard on yourself, because … One “bad” meal won’t make you fat just like one “good” meal won’t make you skinny.

Have a great rest of the week!

What are some of your “naughty” eats this week?

xoxo,

Stephanie