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

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

IMG_2491

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.

IMG_2492
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.

 

IMG_2495

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

Summer Food Go-To’s

Summer Food Go-To’s

As school ends and summer break rolls in, I’ve started thinking about all the recipes I’ll bring back from last summer, and new ones that I’m excited to try.

First, I am definitely making my quinoa bowl. Last summer after my half day math camp, I would come home and make this lunch everyday. The bowl consists of quinoa with spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, minced garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil.

IMG_2700

This bowl is very filling, healthy, and bright. Perfect for a long day at camp!

Next, I will be making nice cream! I made a post about it a while back 🙂

12950265_1721462298098138_672336320_n
This isn’t my pic, but it’s so pretty!

I definitely want to make some bliss balls for an energizing snack.

IMG_2614

Of course, lots of FRUIT! I also love putting lemon and orange slices in my water.

IMG_2353
I stole this from insta 🙂

I’m also super looking forward to grilling some mangoes! This may sound weird, but mangoes develop an amazing sweetness when there are some lovely grill marks.

What are you excited to make this summer?

With Love,

Serena

Healthy Eating “Detox”

Healthy Eating “Detox”

Do detoxes really work?

Yesterday, my family and I celebrated Mother’s Day at a pancake house for breakfast, at a fair where we drank a lot of bubble tea, and then in Philly for a midnight snack-eating congee and crepes. Today, we’ll be eating at a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

In between these heavy comfort foods, I tried to “detox”- or reverse the adverse affects of the pancakes, etc. with healthy foods. For lunch, I had a spinach salad with couscous and avocados, then for dinner we had tofu, salmon, and asparagus. Today, I had veggie scrambled eggs, raw vegan bliss balls, a pomegranate, a load of pineapple, a lot of water, and a lovely beet smoothie before dinner.

8-reasons-why-you-should-drink-beet-juice-featured
This isn’t my picture, but the result looked the same 🙂 I blended water with a beet, a carrot, a pear, an apple, and a small knob of ginger and ran the smoothie through a sieve to result in a juice!

Eating all of these healthy foods and drinks made me wonder if this “detox” was working, or if it was just a way to make me feel better about my diet…However, I did notice that I was feeling a lot drowsier after eating the pancakes and bubble tea. The healthy foods gave me a lot more energy.

So, do “detoxes” (eating unhealthy and then trying to balance it with extremely healthy) work? I can say that the healthy made me feel a lot better-mentally and physically. What do you think?

Happy Mother’s Day to all the hardworking mothers out there!

Love,

Serena

Hiking: My Go-To Snacks

Hiking: My Go-To Snacks

A couple days ago, my entire grade went on a hiking trip at a state park. It was a fun experience, but I just wish we had more time to hike!

Anyways, I packed a couple snacks based on my prior hiking trips with my family, and here are my favorites and some tips.

  1. Trail Mix: DIY or a healthy store bought one (no M&Ms though 🙂 ) I packed a store bought one that had pecans, cranberries, yogurt balls, peanuts, and I added raw almonds and cashews
  2. Fruit: Apples, peaches, pears, anything that does not have to be peeled (eg. not kiwi or mango). Also, don’t pack bananas unless you will be eating them right away! My banana smushed in my bag and produced a terrible smell. I had to carry it down the mountain and on the bus ride back to school due to no trash cans!
  3. Dried Fruit (Mango, Banana, Apple, etc.) are perfect for snacking. They can be put in the trail mix as well.
  4. Energy Bars: KIND bars, Clif bars, Luna bars, etc.
  5. Sandwich: a boring spinach, tomato, & cheese. Spice it up with mashed avocado!
  6. Crackers if you’re into the savory like me! Just don’t binge-eat them 🙂 )

I hope this will inspire you to experience the great outdoors and not compromise your nutrition! Here are some of my favorite pics from a family hiking trip in Washington & Oregon from last summer.

IMG_1771
Mt. Rainier
IMG_1769
Mt. Rainier
IMG_1697
Multonomah Falls

IMG_1746

What are your go-to food tips for hiking?

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

Goguma Green Smoothie

Goguma Green Smoothie

File_000(3).jpeg

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.

sweet potato.jpg
Baked 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.

 

Here are the ingredients:

  • Avocado (duh)
  • Baked Goguma
  • Berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
  • Kale/spinach
  • Mango
  • Banana
  • Water

 

Optional for toppings:

  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Nuts
  • More berries/fruits from above list

 

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!

 

File_000(2)
Lots and lots of kale!

 

File_001
Before being blended!
File_003
Green now, but after blackberries, purple!

Here are some of the after pictures:

File_006.jpeg
Straight from the blender – isn’t it fascinating how the smoothie changes from green to purple just from the blackberries?

 

File_000.jpeg
Another day’s smoothie: beginnings of an “Acai” Bowl

 

File_003(2)
All done!

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?

xoxo,

Stephanie

What I Ate for Breakfast Friday

What I Ate for Breakfast Friday

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.

Since I’m on spring break right now, I decided to bring back the Blogilates egg and banana pancake (circa 2012).

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.

IMG_2540IMG_2542IMG_2543IMG_2544

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:

0744473912100_cl_hyvee_default_large

It was very tasty. Somewhat less creamy than what I am used to in almond milk, but very good and addicting 🙂

What is your favorite non-dairy milk?

Love,

Serena

10 Health Foods I’m Currently Obsessed with…

10 Health Foods I’m Currently Obsessed with…

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):

File_002

 

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.

 

File_004

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?

 

File_005
This comes in a pack of 32, but it’s almost gone…shows how good they are

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.

 

File_009

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!

 

Blueberries.jpg
image source

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.

 

File_007

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.

 

File_008

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?

 

File_006

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?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

How to Read Nutrition Labels + My Tips

How to Read Nutrition Labels + My Tips

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 :))

67763.jpg

***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.

vertical_nutritionlabel.jpg
Vertical Nutrition Label
horlinear_label.jpg
Horizontal Nutrition Label

 

–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.

calories-400x400.jpg

–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).

Not-all-Calories-are-Equal.jpg

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.

Avocados.jpg
Just had to add this picture…I mean our blog name is Avolicious and all

–Next, fat. I’m not going to talk in great detail about fats because I wrote a blog post about what fats are good for you and what fats are not good for you. I highly encourage you to read it if you haven’t, because you’ll learn that fats do not make you fat. It’s the type of fats that determines your health.

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.

carbimagecb

–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.

protein.jpg

–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.

granola.jpg
The ingredients of Serena’s and my favorite granola as of late (Nature Path’s Love Crunch)

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.

IMAG0310
This makes sense
waterbread
This?? Not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try to have the food item with the least amount of ingredients. The fewer the better.

Make sure you can pronounce and visualize all the ingredients. I have to add in the visualize because some people can pronounce “monosodium glutamate,” but can’t visualize it.

 

natural2.jpg
Yeah…Natural has no meaning whatsoever here.

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.

 

What surprised you the most?

xoxo, Stephanie