Food Explorations in Ecuador (Ecuador Part One)

Food Explorations in Ecuador (Ecuador Part One)

Recently, my mom and I travelled to Ecuador  to volunteer at a small organic farm in the Galapagos Islands, and to explore the country. In the next series of blog posts, I will be describing my experience in Ecuador, starting with Part One: Food Explorations.


Desayunos (Breakfast)

Our hotel breakfast was our first meal in Ecuador. When we entered the dining

IMG_1939area/reception area, we were immediately greeted by a woman who asked us (in Spanish) what we wanted to eat. Unfortunately, both my mom and I do not understand or speak Spanish, so we both stared at her helplessly, until my mom pulled out her phone to use Google Translate (the translate app became our best friend on this trip!). For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bread, and yogurt. All pretty standard breakfast foods at my house!

 

Almuerzo (Lunch)

Thankfully, avocados are highly abundant and extremely cheap in Quito, Ecuador. One supermarket that I ventured into was selling five avocados for $1 total! Every lunch and dinner that we had in Quito included avocado (thank God!!).

Below is one of my lunches in Quito. Since I am pescetarian, it was a bit difficult to order food, since the majority of the dishes contain chicken, beef or pork. But, I was able to find this vegetarian dish. Since the water in Ecuador is not safe for travelers, I could not consume any raw vegetables or fruit washed in tap water. Thus, I ate close to no vegetables in Quito 😦 (When we arrived back in America, I had a huge salad and green juice immediately!).

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The dish pictured includes: half a “salad” of half an avocado, a couple lettuce leaves, and a slice of tomato, with steamed green beans and a tiny carrot slice, steamed corn, and two llapingacho (fried potato cake).

Throughout my time in Quito, I found myself constantly eating corn, rice, and potatoes. Additionally, fried foods (like slachipapas-fries) are very popular here.

So, if you are going to Ecuador, be prepared for solely carbs and protein. Not my favorite type of food, but, to each his own!

Thankfully, I was able to find some healthier food at a restaurant we stumbled upon. The dish included a humongous piece of salmon, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, and avocado. Freshly baked bread rolls, salad, and cheese also came with the meals.

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Throughout my time in Ecuador, I probably drank juice (jugos) every day, as it is a very standard drink with meals. At home, juice is extremely rare, as it is either too sweet or too expensive. But, in Ecuador, since we couldn’t drink the water, juice was the only other option. Some restaurants served freshly squeezed juice! Popular options included naranjilla juice, orange juice, blackberry juice, guava juice, guayaba juice, guanabana (soursop) juice, maracuya juice, and papaya juice.

Cena (dinner)

IMG_2119Unsurprisingly, dinner was also solely rice, corn, and meat 😦 However, the one exception was ceviche, a sour soup with small chunks of seafood, onions, and tomatoes. Every chance I could get, I ordered this dish because it was delicious and not fried.

The first picture is an appetizer: small plantain “cups” with cheese, some kind of salsa, mushroom, and avocado sauce.

 

 

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Rice with fried chicken, fried plantains, and avocado.

 

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Fish CEVICHE! Of course the dish includes fried plantain chips, popcorn, and popped corn kernels.

After traveling around Quito for several days, we headed to the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS! I was very excited about this part of the trip because the Galapagos is well known for its abundant wildlife and beauty.

My mom and I lived on a small farm in San Cristobal island. The farm is located in a very rural part of the island, so there were no easily accessible restaurants in walking distance. We cooked our own meals, and had to browse in supermarkets often. Although one would expect that with farms occupying 90 percent of the island, produce would be abundant and cheap, we found that the opposite was true. Families in the Galapagos usually farm for themselves and sometimes the surrounding community, so all other foods must be imported, making everything very expensive. One jar of imported peanut butter costed $12! But, the homemade peanut butter sold at a few restaurants was only about $2. Also, all of the packaged foods in the supermarkets (flour, cereal, rice, snacks, etc.) were all enriched with various chemicals to boost their nutrient quantity.

We did travel to explore the other islands for a couple days with a tour group. Since the meals were from a pre-selected menu for tourists, we essentially had the same foods every day: soup, a main dish of rice, vegetables, and seared fish, and dessert.

If you are traveling to Ecuador, or another Spanish speaking country, here is a list of Spanish terms related to food that I used constantly during my trip. Note: I learned Spanish in elementary school, so these terms may not be the correct spelling or grammar, the list is just for beginners 🙂

  • Desayunos (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch)
  • Quanto questa? (how much does it cost?)
  • Pescado (fish)
  • Camaron (shrimp)
  • Ceviche (popular seafood dish)
  • Jugo (juice)
  • Queso (cheese)
  • Pan (bread)
  • Aguacate (avocado)
  • Huevos (eggs)
  • Leche (milk)
  • Agua (water)
  • Con (with, ex. cereal with milk)

Overall, I would have to say that Ecuador is far from a healthy foodie haven. However, the travel experiences make the country more than worth the trip.

Stay tuned for the next parts in this Ecuador series, in which I will share more about my experience living on a farm!

Love,

Serena

What to do in NYC During the Holidays

What to do in NYC During the Holidays

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit during the holidays because of the beautiful Christmas displays, endless things to do and see, and of course, the huge selection of food! Here are my favorite activities in NYC during Christmas time.

1.) Walk around holiday markets. These markets are great places to shop for unique Christmas gifts, or just to “window shop!” Everything from Christmas ornaments to loose-leaf teas are sold, and there are markets around the city, including in Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, and Union Square.

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2.) Visit an Instagram-famous bakery. If you have an Instagram or Facebook, you’ve definitely seen those Insider videos of delicious-looking baked goods, oozing with cream or dripping with chocolate. There are numerous “Instagram-famous” bakeries across New York City, and it’s definitely worth it to visit one of them. My favorite bakery is Bibble and Sip, and here, you definitely don’t have to feel embarrassed about taking multiple pictures of your food at different angles; every time I go to Bible and Sip, there are always people attempting artsy photos of their food. My favorite dessert from Bibble and Sip is the matcha cream puff. It is a must-try!!

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Portuguese Egg Tart, Earl Grey Cream Puff, and Matcha Cream Puff (my favorite!)

 

3.) Watch a Broadway Show. Bibble and Sip is conveniently located 10 minutes walk away from Columbus Circle, and 5 minutes away from Broadway theaters, so definitely make this list of things to do in NYC into an itinerary! New York is THE place to go for amazing Broadway shows. My favorite show is definitely “Wicked,” but I’ve also really enjoyed watching “Phantom of the Opera,” and I hear “Les Miserables” is wonderful as well.

4.) Eat a sit-down meal. No trip to NYC would be complete without having a sit-down meal in the city full of the best restaurants in the country. Recently, I took a trip to Blue Ribbon Sushi (best sushi I’ve ever tasted!), Ippudo, and Pure Thai Cookhouse (amazing prices!).

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Pure Thai Cookhouse

So, there you have it, my favorite things to do in NYC during the holidays!

What restaurant/bakery are you dying to try in NYC?

Love,

Serena

“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

I have always been skeptical of the old adage that travel is the best learning experience. However, after traveling to Japan for a two-week cultural immersion program, I have become a firm believer that travel is indeed the best learning experience.

Get ready for a photo overload, especially of food since I’m a foodie 🙂
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On the flight to Japan. Despite all the bad news of United recently, this 14 hour trip actually went pretty well. I had so many cups of green tea during the flight which I oh-so regretted later.

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My first breakfast in Japan – guys they have green tea granola. Let’s just say that I was obsessed.

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Visiting the aquarium – the jellyfish were so cool!

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The Big Buddha – little did I know when taking this trip that I would be in for a long hike in the nearby mountains.

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The hike was only half as bad as its length because aren’t these hydrangeas beautiful? These flowers were peppered all throughout the hike. Apparently, they are called the June flower in Japan.

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After a long and tiring hike, and an even tiring hour-long wait for the restaurant, we ate udon. Oh. my. goodness. The wait was definitely worth it because the udon was so good. There was also tempura and the chefs just made it right in front of you. Warm tempura is always the best.

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To cool ourselves off after the long hike, we got green tea and sweet potato ice cream. I know, the combination sounds weird, but guys, it was so good!

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Here is Takoyaki. It’s a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special moulded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. It was delicious, but very hot! I could have watched the chefs making takoyaki all day long, it was such carefully methodical process.

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Apparently this is a hit-or-miss not only with foreigners but with local Japanese. It’s something called natto. It is fermented soybeans that can be eaten by mixing it with rice. I actually enjoyed the taste which my host family was very impressed by as only a few Japanese people actually enjoy it! Of course, as a foodie, as long as it’s healthy and relatively tasty, I’m always good 🙂

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On one of the nights, my host, my host sister and their cousin met up and ate out for dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant. It was so much fun hanging out with them – so much laughing and fun while with these three. The pancakes for dessert were equally as good, although we all regretted eating them because we became so full afterwards.

It wasn’t the healthiest option, but these days, I’m all about balance and moderation and that being mentally healthy is as equally as important as being physically healthy.

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My host introduced these to me, but apparently, these chocolates help reduce how much fat and sugar you absorb. My host and I both being foodies, ate a few of these chocolates just for good measure!

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Japan was just beautiful. Here are a few non-food pictures that are so beautiful.

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One of my favorite dinners while in Japan.

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I’ve always heard that you never know the taste of matcha unless you try it yourself. So I tried to try matcha as many times as I could. It’s definitely not as sweet as the matcha we taste at Starbucks or in the States. It’s a much more bitter taste but somehow has some charm to it. I actually brought home a matcha kit so I could continue making it at home! Once I’ve mastered it a bit, I’ll write up a post for those interested!

Japan was in short, such an amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back there someday!

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After two weeks in Japan, I took a two hour flight to Korea and stayed there for a week. My parents were already in Korea at that time so I met up with them at Incheon airport. After a quick week of meeting up with old childhood friends and family, we left Korea and finally headed back to home sweet home!

 

P.S.: In nod to the title of the post, “ita taki mas” is what Japanese people say before they start their meal. It’s kind of like saying “Thank you for this meal, I will eat it gladly!” I loved saying this every time before I ate because literally every time I ate something, it looked and was super delicious!

P.S.: If my host and her family or any of her friends are reading this, thank you for letting me have such a memorable trip!

 

 

Learning from Travel

Learning from Travel

Just when you thought that I was gone, surprise! Stephanie back again!

I just came back a three-week trip and suffering terribly from jet lag. I went to Japan for two weeks for a cultural exchange program and then met up with my parents in Korea where I stayed for a week.

As much as travel is travel, attending a cultural exchange program really allowed me to become immersed into the culture. And of course, the foodie I am, while I was in Japan, I was hyper-aware of the food and the attitude around food.

In the 14 days I was there, I learned for myself why Japan is so well-known for its healthy and slim population.

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a standard meal 😉

ONE // portion size

First off, portion size. Even before I went to Japan, I knew from the numerous articles I read on the internet, that Japanese (and French and pretty much the rest of the world) eat much less than us in the States. Those sites weren’t kidding – I don’t know what I was expecting for smaller portion size but I don’t think anything would have gotten me prepared for the ridiculously small portion sizes!

It really may depend on the family, but my host family (oh my gosh, they were the sweetest!) did eat very little. And while it was hard to adjust at first, that adjustment and change was all part of the experience.

To put it in perspective, a meal that looks like it could be served to one person in the States, was shared by four people (two adults and two high schoolers) while I was in Japan. Eating in such a way for two weeks, my stomach and appetite has definitely shrunk.

The other day, I was eating my classic avocado toast meal and I felt so full even though I was only halfway into the meal! Usually I still feel hungry after two pieces of toast, but the other day, I already felt full only after finishing the first piece!

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I wasn’t kidding…

TWO// three square meals, no snacks

Another big thing I learned is that they eat very little if not no snacks. For my host family, we ate three square meals – but usually when we say square, we mean a big meal, but if you look at number one, square meals in Japan are like the quarter of the size of a square meal in America haha. I think the two weeks I was there, my host family’s mom offered snacks around three times. And the after-school snack was three pieces of watermelon with three pieces of melon. Not your usual mini-meal.

Also, because I was there as a cultural exchange, my host skipped her basketball practice and instead just went home with me. However, on usual days, my host and the rest of the student body have clubs from 3:30-6:30. These clubs range from sports (basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, etc) to music activities (orchestra, band). And the average commute time is 90 minutes! So when these students come back home, they eat dinner at around 8pm (when lunch was at 12:30pm!) I was alarmed at how little these Japanese students ate compared to their activity levels.

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Yes..it is white rice – but relatively healthy and small in portion. Much better than white bread sandwiches with heaps of mayo and cured meats.

THREE// they just eat.

One night in my second week staying in Japan, my host family and I started talking about the different cuisine and lifestyles between Japan and the States. My host said that while Japan is known to be healthy from other countries, she claimed that not a lot of Japanese people actually think that they eat healthy. Japanese people don’t make a conscious effort or decision to eat healthy. Unlike a lot of “healthy” people here in the States (I’m putting healthy in quotes because of this blog post) who eat salads everyday and go to SoulCycle, Japanese people just eat what they are given. They just eat. Their cuisine in itself is just healthier. In the two weeks I was there, I think I had red meat once if not at all. However, despite not eating a lot of red meat compared to back home, I didn’t feel like I was nutritionally deficient. They eat the feared carbs – they eat rice every meal – yet, they are still slim. Why? Because they eat everything in moderation and smaller proportion.

I have much more to share about what I learned while in my two weeks in Japan. But the other tidbits are more personal and specific to my body image and self-love. I’ll be sharing tomorrow 🙂

But in all, I never expected to learn so much while traveling. Most of my traveling after 8th grade has been to Korea to visit my grandparents. Going to Korea is kind of like going to Nantucket/Cape Cod for some in the States. I don’t go to explore and discover new places in Korea, but more to just spend time with family and friends and doing the mundane things – eating, shopping, and some R&R. So going to Japan this summer was such a mindblowing and amazing experience. Of course, other than food I learned other things, but I decided to share the food aspects on the blog today.

Have you learned something from your travels before?

xoxo

Stephanie

Easter Brunch: What I Ate Wednesday! 

Easter Brunch: What I Ate Wednesday! 

For many people, Easter is a day for celebration, complete with lots of scrumptious food.  Here’s a rundown of everything I ate and did on Easter Sunday!

In the morning, I got up early for a 7:30am sunrise service at my church. Following the service, we had a large Chinese breakfast, with four different types of congee (beef, pork, pumpkin, and century egg) with fried crullers, tea-braised hard boiled eggs, steam pork buns, man tou (plain buns), and my favorite, red bean sticky rice cake.

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  Pumpkin Congee
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Tea-braised Eggs

 

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Red Bean Sticky Rice Cake- my favorite!!
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Mantou (plain buns)

 

After church, I went out to practice golf, because the weather was 80 degrees and gorgeous. Around 1 or 2, I came home to have a late lunch. I was sweaty and starving at this point, so I quickly grabbed all the fruit in the fridge, and had a feast of papaya, mango, and jack fruit. The fruit was perfect after a couple hours in the sun. I then had two slices of avocado toast, and finished my meal with some dairy-free ice cream!

  

Almond milk So Delicious ice cream with pistachios

So much good food on Easter, it was seriously #foodgoals!

 

Love,

Serena

Foodie Alphabet

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

 

 

 

3 Overnight Oats Recipes

3 Overnight Oats Recipes

Whenever I have a really late night spent doing homework, I know I won’t be able to sit down and enjoy a long breakfast in the morning because I’ll likely wake up late. My solution used to be to make a really simple breakfast that morning to eat in the car, like an almond butter banana sandwich. But that still took too much time in the mornings. So, my solution this year has been to make overnight oats!

Most of the time, I’ll make chocolate banana oats. I love the banana chocolate combination so much!

Ingredients:

2/3 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 banana mashed

1 tsp sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.)

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients in a mason jar or Tupperware and leave in the fridge overnight. The oats will soak in the almond milk, making them soft. In the morning, you can grab it and go, or you can heat it up too. Also, you can add additional toppings. Some of my favorites include  pomegranate seeds, dark chocolate, almond shavings, and blueberries.

  


Sometimes I even mix in chia seed pudding (3/4 cup almond milk with 1/4 cup chia seeds 1 tsp vanilla and sweetener of choice.

When I don’t have banana or cocoa powder at home, I  make vanilla overnight oats.

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Here I layered chia seed pudding, chocolate banana overnight oats, strawberries, vanilla overnight oats, and blueberries.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup almond milk

2/3 cup rolled oats

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp apple sauce

Procedure:

Same as above! I add applesauce to bind the oats, but they’re optional. I also add cinnamon because it’s a nutrient-packed super food! It’s filled with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins, minerals, and so much more. Even 1 tsp can have positive impacts on your body!

Finally, chocolate peanut butter overnight oats.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.)

1 tsp cinnamon

Procedure:

Again, same as above, so easy!!

Overnight oats are my GO-TO breakfast. They’re fast, simple, and nutritious, and they give me something to look forward to in the morning!

What is your favorite flavor of overnight oats??

Love,

Serena

NYC Current Favorites

NYC Current Favorites

New York City has so many amazing food destinations and every time I go, I always plan the trip around the food! Yeah, just being the foodie that I am 🙂

SO here are the destinations that I’ve recently visited and recommend!

1.) Bibble and Sip


You’ve probably seen pictures on Instagram of creamy matcha lattes and giant oozing cream puffs. This place is definitely definitely worth the hype.


I had a matcha cream puff, earl grey cream puff, and a bite of the brûlée egg tart. They cream puffs were so good that we had to take one home, along with a black sesame croissant. The matcha cream puff was my favorite! The cream had just the right amount of matcha flavor and it wasn’t too sweet. The outside puff part was crispy and match-y. And then there’s the price. At $3.50 a cream puff, the cost is insanely cheap, especially for a super popular NYC cafe. This is the place that I recommend everyone take a trip to! It’s right in between Time Square and Columbus Square, so it is very conveniently located if you want to visit all the major touristy areas.


Next time I come, I’m definitely ordering a Lavender Latte. I hear it’s amazing as well!

2.) Hangawi


Hangawi is a Korean restaurant that serves only vegetarian food, and I had been eyeing this restaurant for a while because of its outstanding reviews on Yelp and Zagat. So for my birthday recently, I finally got to try the food here with my friends and it was so yummy 🙂 And while the food is not completely authentic Korean, it still tastes super good. Even my friends completely adverse to vegetarian food enjoyed the dishes.


I had a tofu stone bowl rice with sesame leaves, which was savory and delicious. I loved the flavorful tofu scramble, over the hot bed of rice.

3.) Beyond Sushi

   This sushi joint serves vegan and vegetarian sushi, and I tried the spicy mango roll and the mighty mushroom roll. The mushroom was by far my favorite, and it could be just because of my obsession with mushrooms, but mushrooms in sushi?! Mmm it was delicious! I love meaty vegetables 🙂

4.) By Chloe

You’ve probably also heard of this vegetarian/vegan restaurant that serves amazing meatless burgers. (You probably notice by now that I love going to vegetarian/vegan eateries)

This place is great. And really aesthetically pleasing-I went to the one near Flatiron.

First of all, the fridge is IDEAL. There’s chia puddings, fruit, plenty of kombucha, juice, and other goodies.

Then the actual food. I ordered a classic burger and it was so savory and tasted so much more satisfying than a regular veggie burger! The patty- a TEMPEH-LENTIL-CHIA-WALNUT PATTY- tasted so much like meat it was amazing 😍definitely looking forward to going again soon!!

Yes that’s the same picture from our Instagram 🙂

Now that I’ve shared my current NYC favorites, what are your’s? Recommendations in the comments will be much appreciated 🙂

Love,

Serena

Changing Your Diet

Changing Your Diet

I am definitely no stranger to changing diets. If you have followed the blog, you’ll know that I experimented with vegetarianism and pescetarianism in middle school. For the past year or so, I’ve cut numerous foods out of my “diet” and substituted them with other foods–and it’s not as hard as you would think!

One thing I do not drink is dairy milk-I’m slightly lactose intolerant (my entire family on my mom’s side is lactose intolerant!) so during the summer, when I went on a backpacking trip with an organization,  I thought it would just be easier to tell them that I was dairy free. As a result, they packed me lots of dairy free cheese, and I found no difference from dairy cheese at all! A week after the backpacking trip, I decided to avoid dairy all together. I realized that it was very easy to substitute foods I could not eat for ones that I could. After all, I already didn’t drink dairy milk, so avoiding other forms of dairy was a natural next step. And my decision was also because the week following my trip, I had eaten 2-3 pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream all by myself. Although the ice cream was amazing, my body did not feel great afterwards (passing gas, feeling bloated, etc.). Avoiding ice cream was actually not as difficult as I had thought because I learned to substitute the dairy ice cream with vegan ones like So Delicious. Still, the vegan ice cream took a toll on my health, and after avoiding ice cream for a month, I found myself not even craving ice cream at all! Oh, what the power of avoidance can do!!

Another food-bagels. Now, I wasn’t as obsessed with bagels as I was with ice cream, but whenever there were bagels available, I would never pass up the opportunity. So, in the beginning of this year, I started to avoid bagels, subconsciously, after hearing about how bagels were the equivalent of 5 pieces of white bread because of the overwhelmingly high carbohydrate content (which results in high blood sugar levels). After months of not eating a bagel, I finally had half of an everything bagel during finals week, as a sort of reward. I remembered how much I used to love the savory taste of the everything bagels, and when I tried it…it was completely not what I remembered. The bagel didn’t taste exceptionally good or satisfying, it just filled me up. So, avoiding bagels made it not taste as appealing, and this experience furthered my avoidance of bagels.

A month ago, I became pescetarian (not eating meat except for fish) again, as a result of conversation with a friend whom I did not know was vegan. The result was similar to the bagel experiment. At first, it was a bit difficult to not be eating juicy, savory baked chicken wings, but as I went longer and longer without meat, when I tried a small piece for Thanksgiving, it was nothing special.

So in conclusion…

1.) Once I made those choices, I found that it was easier to eat healthy because I would avoid foods that were not “allowed” in that diet, and find healthy substitutes. For example, when I decided to reduce my dairy intake, I could not eat supermarket cookies, chocolate, or ice cream. But out of my desperation for those junk foods (especially the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream), I quickly found substitutes. I made healthy vegan cookies, chocolate bliss balls, and nice cream very frequently. It’s often difficult to make a big change in one’s diet because it feels restricting and depressing. However, I found that restricting myself helped me find better options for the unhealthy foods that I loved.

2.) After avoiding the unhealthy foods, I developed an indifference towards their tastes, and healthier foods became much more flavorful. I know…weird right?!

What is one food you are trying to avoid?

Love,

Serena

 

 

Relax & Refresh

Relax & Refresh

Sometimes, you just need a couple hours to yourself. School or work might have been overwhelming, you might have issues occurring in your relationships, or maybe you just had a grueling week and want to reward yourself. Regardless, in my experience, relaxing and refreshing can be very effective in productivity and feeling a sense of well being. Here are some of the things that I have done in the past to pamper myself!

1.) Hike or take a walk in nature. Even sitting in nature and taking it all in clears my head and makes me feel better.

Views from an awesome hike
Acai Pomegranate Bubble tea

2.) Go out to eat. Yes, sometimes food can be a wonderful reward! This past weekend, I went to a restaurant called Asian Bistro to have delicious hot stone bibimbap, and then I also had lunch at a Japanese restaurant where I had avocado sushi. For snack, I got myself a raisin croissant and an acai pomegranate bubble tea. Everything was so delicious and I felt so happy afterwards!

Vegetarian bibimbap

3.) Go on a run. I’m not a big runner (especially compared to Stephanie), but running helps me “run off my stresses” and “run away from my problems”!

Views from a recent run
Custard pudding- almondy and delicious!

4.) Cook and try out a new recipe. My friend and I made egg custards together, and we had an amazing time bonding and cooking. Even if you’re cooking by yourself (as I often am), cooking is a great way to relax. Seeing and eating the final product gives me an amazing feeling. See my first ever blog post on Why I Love to Cook 🙂

5.) Hang out with your family and/or friends. Whether it’s playing board games together, watching a movie, walking around town, or just talking, being with other people makes me feel happier.

6.) Take a long shower, put on a face mask, and listen to music. Your skin will thank you and you’ll feel super refreshed!

7.) Take a half-day trip by visiting a farm, going to the city (if there’s a city near you), visiting a museum, going to a flea market, or something else.

Farm trip
KALE Heaven

8.) Try something thrilling-like white-water kayaking, or rock climbing 🙂

9.) Take a nap-cause sleep is amazing and I can never get enough of it!

Now that I’ve shared my tips, I hope you feel super inspired.

In the words of my mom: “Work hard, play hard!”

Love,

Serena