How I Stay Healthy When Eating Out

How I Stay Healthy When Eating Out

You’re stuck in a restaurant that you didn’t want to go to in the first place. One look at the menu and you know this will be a major cheat meal-fried chicken, ribs, steak and potatoes, with not a mention of a vegetable in sight!

I’ve experienced this little scenario many times before, I visit my relatives from New York about once a month, and whenever we eat out, they always choose to go to either a chain steakhouse or a Chinese restaurant.

So, over the years, I’ve developed some techniques to staying healthy when eating out. I think these tips can be applied to many different scenarios, like if your friends all decide to order takeout from a restaurant that you know does not have healthy food, or if you are at a fast food restaurant because you have no time to sit down and eat a slow meal.

Also, I just want to note that I am pescatarian, but these tips can definitely apply to vegetarians, vegans, or just health-conscious individuals.

1.) Look at the salad options. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but the salad might be your best bet to eating a plant-based meal. If the salad has an element that you would prefer not to have, just ask for it to be removed or replaced. Since you are still paying for that element of the dish, you could just give it to the people dining with you.

2.) Sides are your best friend. I’ve been to steakhouses that offer no vegetable dish at all. Even the salads contain some kind of meat, whether that be chicken or steak. However, I can guarantee you that you’ll find at least one plant based option among the sides. Take this menu from Outback Steakhouse for example. All of the sides are plant based (with the exception of theFullSizeRender mac and cheese). You can also usually make potatoes healthier by asking for no toppings (getting rid of fatty sour cream) and just add salt and pepper to your taste. You could also ask for condiments on the side, so instead of the Sweet Potato with Cinnamon Sugar and Butter that is on the menu, you could add these two ingredients to your liking.

If none of the main dishes are speaking to you, you can order solely sides, or a combination of appetizers and sides.

 

 

 

3.) Your waiter is your best friend. As I’ve stated before, you can always ask for an ingredient to be removed, replaced, or put on the side. Your waiter or the cashier is your go-to person for making these requests. One time, I went to TGI Friday’s with my family because it was the only restaurant open at the time we wanted dinner. With the exception of a garden salad, there was not a single non-meat item on the menu. I didn’t really want to have the garden salad because it was just lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. So instead, I ordered the mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken, and asked for all of the chicken to be replaced with broccoli.

4.) When eating a family-style meal, take charge of ordering food. When you are eating with a large group of people (like my extended family, with 13 people) it’s easy to engage in side conversations while the ordering is occurring. There have been many times where other people have ordered, and as a result, I may only have one dish that I can eat as a pescatarian, or as a healthy person in general! So, if you are in charge of ordering the food, you can order what you want to eat because anyways, it will benefit the group to have at least one or two healthy dishes on the table.

So I hope these tips will help you when ordering food! Fast food doesn’t have to mean unhealthy, and steakhouses don’t always have to mean steak. Happy eating 🙂

Love,

Serena

 

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

Life Update! Finally Home…

Life Update! Finally Home…

It pains me to realize that I haven’t posted on the blog since July 30, almost a month! However, I am finally back from my traveling and I have a lot to tell you!

First, I did promise to post a series about my trip to Ontario, Canada and Vermont, I still intend on doing that. In the mean time, enjoy this picture of my ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters!

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Non-Dairy PB and Cookies and EmpowerMINT in a chocolate coated sprinkles cone. Utter indulgence…

Second, I also took a small trip to Sacramento and San Fransisco, so I’ll post about that too!

Third, I just came back from backpacking with Outward Bound in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Yes, I’ve literally been eating peanut butter jelly pitas and drinking powdered milk for 14 days. I also was experiencing major vegetable-withdrawals…we didn’t have a green veggie until the last day!

But now that I’m home, I’ve been eating a lot of veggies, yummy home-cooked Chinese food, and ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s and SO Delicious). My mom stocked the freezer with ice cream because she knew that I would want some after not having it for two weeks…now I’m treating myself WAAY too much. “Out of sight, out of mind” is definitely true!!

Also, I got attacked by bugs and now my legs, arms, and face are scarred by no-see-um (sandfly) bites! I’ve been applying a “mask” of 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 5 drops of tea tree oil to my skin. It seems to be working slowly…any suggestions or tips for reducing bug bite scars?

Anyways, look out for posts! Hopefully, I’ll get them out this week and next week.

Love,

Serena

My Experience with College Dining Halls

My Experience with College Dining Halls

Since I am at a sleep away summer camp on a college campus, I have been able to experience eating at a college dining hall. Lucky for me, the college that I am staying at (Georgia Tech) has an excellent dining hall with a lot of vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan options.

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There’s a gluten free fridge with cookies, muffins, and bread. There even is a Silk dispenser with vanilla and chocolate soy milk.

IMG_2526My typical breakfast is made up of oatmeal (with honey and soy milk), some fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, banana) and a boiled egg. Sometimes I will add in some potatoes. The breakfast at this dining hall is actually very similar to what I eat during the school year. Unfortunately, there’s no almond butter because they only serve nut-free foods, but coming here, I was pleasantly surprised by the many options!

As for lunch and dinner, the dining hall offers a variety of vegetables, but also a fair share of fries and pizza. Below is a couple of meals I’ve eaten.

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On the left plate, I have carrots, orzo-rice, cauliflower, and spaghetti squash with beans. On the right, there are peas, fish (likely flounder), potatoes, and yellow squash. This was the day that I understood the “freshmen 15”! The food was absolutely amazing.
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On the left: raw tofu, broccoli, roasted carrots. Center: corn with beans, and fish (likely flounder). On the right: veggie wrap with spinach cream.
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On the left: corn, wild rice, peas, fried tofu with onions and carrots. On the right: grilled cheese (which had a very fake-tasting, yellow cheese…but what can you expect, its a college cafeteria:))
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Not only does this dining hall offer VEGAN desserts, but they also list calorie counts and nutrition facts! I’m impressed.

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I also have been running regularly in the mornings. Of course, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t pack a plethora of healthy snacks! After a run, I usually eat some dried fruit and nuts to refuel.

What are your experiences with college dining halls? Share in the comments 🙂

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

Get Fit: Avolicious Summer Fitness Plan

Get Fit: Avolicious Summer Fitness Plan

Seasons for me are not dictated by the actual solar system, but by the academic year, so June 20th for me is nothing but a day. Which means … summer is here!

Serena and I officially got out of school yesterday and have three FULL months before we head into our sophomore year.

Having gained the infamous Freshman 15 (actually more like Freshman 20 for me), I am definitely motivated to lose some weight. However, I’ve learned that it’s much more rewarding and a happier mindset if I focus on health rather than a number on the scale. Therefore, the focus of this fitness plan is for us to see how much stronger our muscles feel, how much energy we get from eating nutrient-dense foods, and the confidence we have for ourselves without having the number on the scale or on the clothes tag dictate it.

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Unlike my winter break fitness routine, I wanted to get readers involved as well! I will be sharing (or more like I will be stealing from Serena) recipe suggestions, workout routines, and healthy habits that will be easy to incorporate into yours and my lifestyle.

The Rules

  • Despite the name, this should be a lifestyle change. Change your whole attitude about life and make the new habits you’ll be creating reasonable enough that you’ll be able to sustain it even after the summer season.
  • Drink lots and lots of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in water.
  • Pick on exercise to do everyday. As I am a runner and training for XC – I know already… – my workouts may be too much cardio for some readers. As that will be the case, I will soon post about the workouts I will specifically be doing, but also strength and conditioning workouts I know my friends have raved about. And maybe along the way, I’ll discover a love for strength workouts as well (as that is also my goal for the summer, and as a Type-A person, I need my goals accomplished 🙂 )
  • Do all the exercises listed under “Everyday Exercises” each day in addition to your selected workout
  • Practice intuitive eating. Eat when hungry, stop when full. Easier said than done.

 

The Off-Limits List

  • No heavily processed, sugar laden foods (read: white breads, fried foods, candy, soda, sugary drinks)
    • Now I know that baked goods and ice cream will fit under this category. However, Serena and I love ice cream and baked goods too much, I will let this slide. Nevertheless, all of these things should be in moderation!

 

Everyday Exercises

  • 30 crunches each day | If you are already doing an ab-focused workout for the day, you can skip this.
  • 60 second regular plank, 60 second side plank on each side (3×60 second planks in total)
  • Stretch on your bed before you go to sleep

In short, if you remember to make healthy meal choices, sweat at least once a day, and stay focused, you’ll be right on track.

 

I’ll be checking up on you guys to make sure you’re following this plan!

Are you ready?

xoxo,
Stephanie

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.

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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 🙂

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

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

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

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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

The FDA’s Fat Phobia

The FDA’s Fat Phobia

Recently, the FDA complained about the KIND brand’s use of the word “healthy” on their bars. The reason, they cited, was that the bars contained too much fat to be considered healthy. Currently, 3g per serving of fat is the maximum amount for healthy food. With nuts as the main ingredient for KIND bars, they were not considered FDA healthy. However, after reviewing their complaint, the FDA allowed KIND to use the word. They are also revising their definition of healthy foods to encompass more plant-based fats, like nuts, seeds, and avocados!

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(pic from Well and Good)

The FDA’s dietary guidelines seem to be getting better!

What is your favorite plant-based fat?

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.

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Mt. Rainier
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Mt. Rainier
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Multonomah Falls

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What are your go-to food tips for hiking?

Love,

Serena

Dark Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls

Dark Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls

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Dark Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls. Oh, how they are blissful!

I bought a big pack of dates and a box of raw almonds a while back, thinking that I would make bliss balls because they were the trendy raw vegan snack. Just yesterday, I finally made them and I am so thankful I did.

My recipe is adapted from Food by Camilla‘s Choco, Almond & Coconut Bliss Ball recipe.

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

1/2 cup oats

8 medjool dates

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

3 tbsp water (if necessary)

2 tbsp dark chocolate or raw cacao nibs (optional for coating)

Method

Blend almonds, oats, and cacao powder in a food processor until smooth.

Add the dates one by one.

Transfer mixture into a bowl and add as much water necessary to form a sticky consistency.

Roll the mixture into ball shapes.

Optionally place dark chocolate/cacao nibs into a food processor and blitz until small, but still chunky. Roll the bliss balls into the chocolate pieces.

Refrigerate for twenty minutes or (if you’re like me) enjoy right away!

I stored my bliss balls in a tupperware container in the fridge. They can last a couple days, and  make a healthy, satisfying, and sweet snack for any occasion.

What is your favorite raw vegan recipe? Comment below!

Love,

Serena