Debunking the Freshmen 15

Debunking the Freshmen 15

For some reason or the other, I’ve been in a jumble of emotions. First, I’m heading into my last year of high school (insert screaming face emoji here) and that in itself is surreal. I tell my friends this all the time, but I still very much feel like I’m a freshman.

Second, a lot of my friends are heading into their freshmen year of college. And that feels weird too. Although they’ve always been a year ahead of me, it just doesn’t seem right that they should now possess the maturity of a college student. Anyways, some of these friends told me that they were worried about getting the freshmen 15.

For those of you who don’t know, the freshmen 15 is an expression that refers to college freshmen gaining arbitrarily 15 pounds their first year of college.

And now I get it, gaining 15 pounds sounds scary. I mean in this culture gaining any little bit of weight is daunting. As a boarding school student, “freshmen 15” was already buzzing around the halls in the freshmen girls dorm. I even wrote a post two years ago about how to “avoid” the freshmen 15.

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But in many ways now, I personally think the freshmen 15 phrase is dangerous. It is one more time for society to tell us that gaining weight = bad and so conversely, being skinny = good. And this black and white spectrum is a toxic mindset to adopt.

I still vividly remember freshmen year exclaiming, “There goes my freshmen 15” as they took a bite into a slice of pizza. That takes the joy out of eating. The “Freshmen 15” presents one more obstacle to something that was so natural as simply eating when we were hungry and stopping when we are full.

Eating is truly and genuinely for fuel and nourishment. It is just as much an essential, in fact a basic essential, as SLEEP. But then when we go to sleep do we worry about not getting enough sleep? (Actually maybe that might be a concern for some, but it’s not as raved about as the Freshmen 15, no?

Why do we have to create certain limits and fears and “rules” to an essential? If you are hungry eat! If you have a craving, respond to that craving. I’ve talked about this many times on the blog before, but our bodies are a lot smarter than we think.

Respect. Listen. And Honor your body. Don’t shy away from getting to know your new dorm mates because you know there’s going to be Chinese take out. Don’t ignore a text to go out to dinner at a restaurant you know is “Freshmen 15 conducive.” Live life. Enjoy life. Understand that food can be a very social thing and that yeah, you might gain weight. But that shouldn’t be your biggest worry. It’s just not worth your time. I promise.

Have you heard of the Freshmen 15?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Canada Part 1: The Green Door Restaurant Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Canada Part 1: The Green Door Restaurant Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I just came back from a vacation to Ontario, Canada and one day in Vermont and I’ll be writing a series of posts about the food I encountered there 🙂

My first stop was The Green Door restaurant in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. One thing I learned about Ottawa is that practically all of the good restaurants are super expensive. I found the Green Door when I was searching for a highly rated restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised by the entire dining experience.

First of all, everything is displayed buffet style, and it’s a sort of vegetarian-vegan cafeteria. The food is priced based on weight.

This was great for my family because my parents hate waiting a long time for food. Plus, you don’t have to pay tips because it’s self-serve.

I was extremely pleasantly surprised by the amount of healthy choices there were. Some of the dishes were even vegan!

Side soup and a dish with (clockwise from top left) spanakopita, falafel, marinated mushrooms, sauerkraut, (hidden) tofu, Japanese (cold) noodles, sweet potato puree, pasta with pesto, edamame bean salad, spinach (?) puree.
The best part for me was the dessert bar! I have a major sweet tooth and a lot of times, I have to admit that I don’t resist the desire for sweets.

Cookies, pie, brownies, and all the good stuff

More pie-like fruit desserts, tofu chocolate cake, chocolate hazelnut bliss balls.truffles, chocolate swirl cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake
A lot of these desserts were vegan, so since I don’t eat gelatin, I didn’t have to worry about it. The amount of desserts I saw was so inspiring, especially since a lot of people label the vegan diet as eating rabbit food. Also, I was happy to see vegan dark chocolate hazelnut bliss balls. I have a similar recipe on the blog!

So because I love desserts so much, I did have dessert for breakfast. I know, not the healthiest 🙈 I had a slice of berry pie, and, at first glance, the pie-filling looks exactly like gelatin. I wonder how they were able to create such a jello-like consistency without gelatin?? Let me know your thoughts!

A slice of berry pie with almond milk and cherries
So basically I definitely recommend this restaurant!! I hope you check it out if you’re in the Ottawa area.

Love,

Serena

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

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Now that I’m finally on summer break, I have been cooking every meal for my family. So, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different recipes and ways to use leftovers. It’s safe to say that my parents can’t live without meat, so I’ve been challenging them to be more adventurous with their veggies. Last night, I made this lettuce wrap “bar” complete with Romaine hearts, chickpeas, carrots, red bell pepper, and oyster mushrooms. Also, (not shown here), I used a tiny bit of tartar sauce to amp up the flavors. To appease my parents, I did sear some salmon that I seasoned with only salt and pepper. It turned out perfect, no need to season it any more. Also in the picture was soup that my dad made in bulk on the weekend, some leftover turkey, and leftover brown rice.

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Green tea ice cream mochi. So good!!

Since my mom and I went on a Trader Joe’s run earlier that day, we purchased a lot of frozen desserts, and of course, I had to have some of them after dinner!

 

We did have some leftovers after the dinner-salmon, bell peppers, carrots, and chickpeas. I simply incorporated these ingredients into my meals the next day.

 

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My breakfast omelet had bell peppers and carrots. Then, for lunch, I made a salad with a green medley (arugula, spinach, kale, romaine) with yellow bell pepper, the leftover chickpeas, and the leftover salmon. I also drizzled some Miso-Ginger Dressing (also leftover from a while ago :))

What are your favorite lettuce wrap ingredients? Lmk in the comments 🙂

With Love,

Serena

My Health Journey

My Health Journey

Why do you eat what you eat? What shaped your food choices?

These were questions that I recently asked myself, and I figured that I could bring you on a trip down memory lane with me.

I was raised to eat conveniently, as healthy as fast food could be. About once every two weeks, I remember going to McDonalds with my parents, and they would always order a 6 piece Chicken McNuggets for me, with chocolate milk and apple slices.

On school nights, a typical “Chinese” dinner would include bone broth (made by my dad every Sunday for the rest of the week), white rice, meat (steamed fish or baked chicken) and sautéed veggies. Alternatively, we might have an “Italian” dinner with spaghetti with meat sauce, carrots, and peas. On weekends, my dad would cook an “American” meal, starting with the daily bone broth, and complete with mashed potatoes, ribs, and corn. We would always end meals with dessert–fresh fruit. My parents, both working, raised me on food that they felt was balanced and healthy, and that took half an hour to prepare.

However, I would always crave “healthy” snacks like sweet potato chips, string cheese, purple corn tortilla chips with guacamole, or greek yogurt. After school, I would gorge myself with these snacks, sometimes eating half a bag of veggie chips, or five cheese sticks. It was an unhealthy obsessions that would occur Monday through Friday as my self “reward” for a tiring day at school.

My mom, discovering that the family size chip bags she bought were finished in a couple days, realized that my excessive snacking was unhealthy. She encouraged me to control my portions, but I did little to change this.

Meanwhile, I was always the “healthy girl” among my friends at school, because of my sandwiches and salads for lunch, and my obsession with organics. Looking back, I realize that I was a hypocrite! While I seemed to be a healthy eater, I covered up the fact that I was binge-eating snacks, and my portion control was atrocious. My excuse was that-at least the snacks were “healthy”-they weren’t fried potato chips or brownies.

During the summer between middle school and high school, I became a full-fledged pescetarian, due to the horrors of animal slaughter that I had learned about through documentaries, Youtube videos, and research on PETA.

Admittedly, I did not change my obsessive snack habit until high school, when I would eat all my meals at school, and not have access to the bounty of snacks I had at home. Instead, after school, I would eat one KIND bar, and/or a handful or crackers. Only when the snacks were out of sight did I put them out of my mind.

At the beginning of high school, I also met my now-best friend (and other half of this blog!) Stephanie. She was “the healthy girl”, instead of me, and I could not compete with her. I couldn’t understand how she found salads -without avocados-appealing. Later, her influence rubbed off on me, and I began eating more and more salads. Now, I have noticed that I don’t binge eat on snacks as often, and I am used to eating more raw foods in meals.

What I have learned from my health journey is this:

  1. Out of sight, out of mind–if the unhealthy food is inconvenient to obtain, you will be less likely to consume them
  2. Just because other people are eating it, doesn’t mean that you have to–learn to resist!
  3. Find someone/something to motivate you–support from a friend helps a lot!

Hopefully, my journey is inspirational or relatable to you. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Love,

Serena