Serena…

Serena…

Okay, I’m not one to gush about someone/something, but for my friend Serena (the one who runs the other half of the blog), I think I need to make an exception.

Long story short, Serena and I met over our obsession for healthy foods. As freshmen in boarding school, we as well as the rest of our grade were thrust into a world away from home and with completely new people. Serena and I were the only ones at the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner who had “healthy” foods. We consistently had salads, greens, fruits, and unprocessed and clean foods on our plates every day and every meal.

So of course, as foodies, we bonded and I consider Serena one of my closest friends. And at this time, it’s even truer.

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Lately, I’ve been falling off on this healthy band wagon lately. Call it stress eating, but the meals I’ve been eating not Stephanie. A few weeks ago, over the span of two days, I ate 5 slices of pizza. Now, granted, these 5 slices of pizza were eaten because or else, I wouldn’t be able to eat anything. Being away from home in a boarding school makes it hard to eat when I have club meetings or other events during dinner time. 

But this could have been fixed and modified. The freshmen Stephanie would not have succumbed to these things. But as the lazy sophomore I’ve embarrassingly become, I’ve started slacking off. 

I’ve been eating fried foods. I’ve been eating processed junk foods. I’ve been eating whole bagels every morning. And the worst thing is, it has had a negative effect on my energy levels, my mood, my skin, and my digestion. I’ve been bloating a lot more, I’ve been getting gas in my stomach more, and my stomach feels undigested when I’m studying in the night and I’ve been gulping down water because the food was too salty. 

But even when I lost hope in myself and my worth and my capability to eat healthy again, Serena believed in me. Serena encouraged me and supported me to eat healthy again. She wasn’t aggressive or gave me feel inferiority or made me guilt trip myself. Instead, she gently encouraged me. It’s hard to describe, but just ugh, she’s the best. 

So go find yourself a friend like Serena. Or better yet, be that friend who is Serena. That makes you want to be healthy. That makes you motivated to be healthy and back on track when you’ve desperately and obviously gone off track. 

Thank you Serena and I love ya!

Do you have a “Serena” in your life?

Xoxo,

Stephanie 

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

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

Kale Veggie Soup Recipe and my lunch

Kale Veggie Soup Recipe and my lunch

Coming back home from a food-loaded vacation, I needed something to “cleanse my system”. Today for lunch I made a kale soup and beautiful grilled yellow zucchini.

Kale Soup Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 bunch kale destemmed and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 heirloom tomatoes cut in cubes

2 tbsp garlic

1 yellow onion

1 15oz can chickpeas

1 cup potatoes (I used assorted baby potatoes) peeled and cubed

6 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper

Parsley, Oregano, Basil

Process

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. When softened, add kale. Once wilted, add the rest of the ingredients (tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas, vegetable broth, seasoning). Simmer for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Enjoy!

I paired the soup with grilled zucchini that I purchased at an organic farm close to my home. I just discovered this farm and was so excited to find out about it!


What is your favorite soup?

Love,

Serena

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

After trying my raw vegan brownie recipe many many times, I think I’ve perfected it! These brownies are a lot like my bliss ball recipe. It is adapted from Minimalist Baker’s recipe.

soak dates to make it easier for your food processer!

dirty hands? no problem!

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup cocoa/cacao powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup of dates pitted and soaked

1 tbsp or more of water (see step 4)

Optional:

Cacao nibs, more nuts, chia seeds and other add-ins!

Steps:

1.) Process walnuts

2.) Add almond meal, cacao powder and salt and mix

3.) Transfer dry mixture to a bowl and process dates

4.) Combine dates and dry mixture using your hands-it gets sticky! Add water as necessary

5.) Press brownie mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper and press in the optional ingredients as desired.

6.) Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy!!😋😋

This recipe only takes 15 minutes to prep. The finished brownies and be stored in the fridge or at room temperature in a sealed container.

So much Love,

Serena

Quick and Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas

Quick and Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas

Need some lunch inspiration? Here are two lunches I made this past week that I loved!

Green bowl: quinoa, avocado, kale, pine nuts
“Chicken” salad and avocado sandwich + sweet potato + dragon fruit

To make the sandwich, I used Whole Food’s vegan chicken salad that was purchased at the cold food cases. It tastes amazing! Certainly not the healthiest option, but a very convenient way to whip up a delicious sandwich.

I also used one of my favorite breads- Alpine-Valley’s Multigrain Omega 3 bread! I love using it because it tastes very hearty and its perfect when toasted.


What are your favorite lunch ideas?

Love,

Serena

Healthy Cereal Bowl

Healthy Cereal Bowl

Cereal gets a bad rap because of the excessive amounts of sugar. However, cereal doesn’t have to be unhealthy!  This morning, I was in a rush to leave home, and quickly whipped up a delicious cereal bowl, complete with Love Crunch Chocolate and Strawberry Granola, fresh raspberries, and bits of some raw vegan brownies that I made (I’ll share the recipe soon ;)) with almond milk and chia seeds. It was a super satisfying and sweet cereal bowl. The combination of chocolate and berry just made me want to have more!

What is your favorite cereal bowl combo?

Love,

Serena

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

I used to hate working out. Eating healthy was enough for me, and I didn’t realize the benefits of exercise until I actually tried it out. I loved gym class at school because of the team sports and the camaraderie, however, when it came the summer, I wouldn’t actually do much to maintain my fitness.

Every summer, I competed in golf tournaments about once a week and I practiced most days for about 2-6 hour. Really the only physical benefit of golf was that it strengthened my legs and kept my heart rate up because of the amount of walking (typically 5 miles) and swinging involved. However, I wasn’t doing much else to strengthen my body. So when my mom joined a gym membership, I decided to come with her to a yoga class. I instantly fell in love with yoga because it was so peaceful yet physically demanding, and the shavasana (lying down) at the end felt amazing. So I continued to attend the yoga classes once a week and carried this out during my school year. But obviously, one hour of yoga a week was not enough.

I started doing Blogilates (pilates) about once a week and doing push ups before going to bed. The next summer, I joined a field hockey camp that met twice a week, and I sprinted my way across the field. When high school started, I involved myself with field hockey. The team met every week day for two hours each. The amount of cardio we had to do was challenging for me. I remember thinking that the  3 mile run around school was a very big deal.

In the winter, I tried out dance, which met three times a week for one and a half hours each. Dance was completely different from field hockey; there wasn’t much cardio involved, but it was more like yoga because of the flexibility involved. During the season, I realized that I it really was not the sport for me. I wasn’t the most graceful or coordinated, so I told myself I would try a different sport the next winter season.

Spring was golf season for me, which was very exciting. I didn’t do much to supplement my exercise other than the mandatory half-hour weight-lifting once a week.

When summer rolled around, I started thinking back to the winter season and decided that I would either joint the swim team or run distance. Ultimately, I decided to run, mainly because of the support that Stephanie (yes, the other half of this blog), who ran cross country, gave me. I started running for 40 minutes, 5 days a week , and I got used to it. Although I dreaded the early morning wake-ups, I felt so accomplished after each run. I knew that I wasn’t the fastest, or even close to fast, but it gave me pride to be pushing myself into a sport that I was hesitant about because of the immense challenge that it presented for me.

So over the course of my journey so far, I’ve learned a couple things:

1.) Try it even if you think you’ll suck at it! Field hockey and running were two sports that I was completely intimidated by because I hated cardio. But when I gave it a try and gave it some time, I ended up enjoying it.

2.) Constantly push yourself. Fear of the greatness of your potential is probably what’s holding you back.

3.) You need a buddy/buddies. If exercise is hard for you, use other people to motivate you, whether that be teammates, friends, or opponents.

What are your experiences with exercise/athletics?

Love,

Serena

Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

Tofu is one of those comfort foods I enjoy so much. And, there’s an added bonus:it’s healthy. Packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, it’s my go-to substitute for meat.

While pan frying it is a quick and easy preparation, I decided to amp up the flavor with a homemade “teriyaki” sauce. Here’s the recipe…

1.) Start with a block of firm tofu. Drain the tofu, using paper towels to soak up the moisture. Cut into small cubes and pan fry. (I used half a block here)

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2.) Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by heating half a cup of mirin and half a cup of soy sauce in a small pan. Add half a teaspoon of garlic, ginger, and scallion to the mixture when simmering, and incorporate the cooked tofu cubes.


3.) Enjoy!!

This recipe is super easy and I hope you’ll give it a try.

What is your favorite way to make tofu?

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