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 

Avocado, Chicken, and Paprika Salad

Avocado, Chicken, and Paprika Salad

I love a good salad. I get slightly annoyed (ok, maybe extremely annoyed) when people comment that salad is bland, boring, and “rabbit food.” The key point that these people miss out on is that for those salad lovers like me, it’s not the spinach, kale, arugula, or whatnot you put in your bowl, but what you put on top of that.

Salads come in so many different forms so if one recipe doesn’t suit you, then try tweaking it here and there the toppings. Today I’m sharing my go-to salad this summer. It’s SUPER simple – I can whip it up in a matter of minutes – and in my opinion, tasty and delicious. I’ve been having this salad for dinner for three weeks and I still look forward to it everyday.

What I love most about this salad is that with a bit of prep work the day or night before, in just 15 minutes, you’ll have this salad ready to eat.  Prep work includes boiling chicken breast and eggs. I generally buy the organic chicken breast sold at Costco and boil them and then divide them into little baggies that I can easily access from the freezer throughout the week. For hard-boiled eggs, I boil about 6 at a time and peel one open on the day of while the rest are in the fridge.

*Unlike Serena, the pro-chef, my recipes are just estimates. I never use a measuring cup or scale when I make my food. I just go along with what feels right for me. So you won’t see my recipes saying “One cup of spinach” but instead : “A generous handful of spinach.”

Avocado, Chicken, and Paprika Salad (for 1)

Ingredients

  • A generous handful of your green of choice (my favorite is spinach)
  • Two small handfuls of boiled chicken (I recommend that if you’re going to freeze them in bulk like me, to move your plastic baggie of chicken for that day from the freezer to the fridge 5 hours before. And then 30-60 minutes before you’re planning to eat dinner, move your chicken baggie from the fridge to your kitchen countertop.)
  • Half of an avocado (What did you expect?)
  • Handful of paprika
  • One hard-boiled egg
  • Salad dressing of your choice

Directions

Thoroughly wash your greens, put them in the salad spinner, and place them in your salad bowl.

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Add boiled chicken breast (I just teared the chicken breast after I boiled them so they’re are in edible chunks)

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Add avocado

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Add one hard-boiled egg

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Add paprika (I generally never put paprika in my salad, but I LOVE putting a range of colors – sometimes too much green can be a bore. Also, the paprika makes the salad refreshing and have a crunchier texture).

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Add your salad dressing of choice. (I know, I know, these type of salad dressings are fattening, however, I got carried away with the #marketing – avocado!!! I’m hoping to either find a healthier salad dressing choice or creating my own salad dressing).

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And that’s it! Super easy right?

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What’s your favorite salad topping?

 

xoxo,

Stephanie

“Masshittda”

“Masshittda”

“Masshittda” is a word that I have said times too many to count this past month while traveling to Korea. If you haven’t guessed already, the word “Masshitda” (맛있다) means “It’s delicious” in Korean.

I just want to point out, traveling means getting the opportunity to try lots of new (and delicious) food by sacrificing your healthy eating habits once in awhile.

Sorry for the long introduction; I promise this is the last part of the intro. For this trip, I took pictures of the meals that were interesting instead of documenting every single one. However, even though I took out some meals, there are still a lot (read: picture overload). So for your sanity as a reader, I’m going to break this trip up into two posts where each post covers 11 days.

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With all that being said, the start of my trip started with airplane food (cue in the groans and anxiety). Airplane food for me is the worst. You seriously don’t know where it’s from and it just tastes funny, you know? But I do appreciate Korean Airline’s dedication to provide the best food they can. My family has been flying Korean Airline ever since I was six months old, and we never really had a problem with their meals.

Here are one of the meals I had called “Bibimbap” – a mixed vegetable and rice dish with red bean paste on top:

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After mixing all the ingredients in:

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Since it was a 14-hour flight, there were two meals. One which included a very early breakfast where I chose to eat omelette:

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Complimentary guava juice…is that even a question? (the only time I drink something other than water)

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Once we landed in Korea (after a gruesome fourteen hours where my butt ached from sitting down so long), we (whenever I refer to “we”, I mean my family) had a four hour transfer at incheon airport. After having a quick shower at the Korean Airline lounge, I grabbed plain yogurt from the lounge food bar.

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^this is an example of plain yogurt in Korea. This is especially for Serena since she asked me once if there’s yogurt in Korea. Obviously there is.

Next we had a three and half hour flight to Manila. A little background story here. We used to live in the Philippines for four years when I was very little (3-7 years old). As an end of the school year treat, I picked Manila as our mini trip before our actual annual trip to Korea.

So with this trip being designated for nostalgia and all, as soon as we checked in the hotel, we looked for our FAVORITE Italian restaurant, L’opera. We had mushroom risotto, some kind of pasta I forget what, and a zucchini and eggplant pizza. It was an extremely carby lunch, but oh so worth it.

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(Restaurant: L’Opera in Fort Bonifacio)

After walking around the city in order to burn the calories we just ate, my family and I walked for about two and half hours. I seriously think we walked at least five miles. Talk about serious healthy and active travel.

Anyways, at the end of our adventure, we found our way at the market (whadya expect? My family is comprised of foodies so of course we go to the market). While there, my mom and I went on a quest to find durian and some mangoes (like promised in the previous post). Here’s what a typical fruit stall looks like:

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@ Market, Market! in Fort Bonifacio

After checking into our hotel, my mom and I couldn’t wait to try the durian. We had to save the mango for the next day because it wasn’t ripe enough.

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^this is a half of what we bought. My mom and I were initially thinking of eating this today and the other tomorrow. But nope. We ate the whole thing in one sitting – do you see the durian seed from the first half on the far right??

Another confession time. I didn’t like durian before. My mom is a self-confessed durian lover so she would always bring durian into the house. My dad got away with it being the adult he is and never was forced to eat it. I, on the other hand, was forced to. However, I wanted to give durian another chance. And guess what? I loved it. It’s so sweet – a much different sweet than avocado – and so creamy. I loved it so much I regretted the days when it was so available to me yet I didn’t eat it.

After another day in the Philippines, my family boarded the plane to head back to Korea. We were welcomed with a small but heartfelt meal from my whehalmoni (maternal grandmother in Korean)

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The following pictures are in random order. I honestly don’t know where and when I’ve eaten them, all I know is that they’ve been in my stomach :).

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Injulmi and black sesame bingsoo – don’t they look divine?

(Restaurant: 설빙; Sulbing)

 

Bad Farmers – took some time to locate this place with only a few directions and no wifi, but it was so worth it!

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^this is the Avo Cobb salad (I obviously got the avocado salad…)and the beet hummus open face sandwich with acorn squash soup. (One thing off the bucket list!)

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^the lighting isn’t the best, but here are the salads they have. I’m hoping that I can recreate some of these at home.

That’s going to be the end of the first leg of my trip to Korea. Keep posted for next week’s post for the last 11 days! Believe it or not, the meals during the last 11 days are even more “masshittda”!

 

Have you ever been to Korea before? Or have you travelled to another tasty city?

xoxo, Stephanie

 

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

I ate, I ate some more, and I still love myself

I ate, I ate some more, and I still love myself

 

 

The title of this post is a twist around Julius Caesar’s famous quote “I came, I saw, I conquered.” It’s about forgiving yourself after you eat a lot. I don’t want to call this binge-eating because binge-eating can be a lot more serious than over-eating. This past Saturday, I had an away crew regatta at Delaware. First, this means I don’t have my handy and trusty dining center (I go to a boarding school, so I eat all three meals at school but I never thought I would ever say that my school dining center was trusty, but in extreme situations like this Saturday, they can be quite relished and appreciated).

I had my usual breakfast at school (luckily) of yogurt with granola and nuts on top and sauteed spinach. However, everything goes downhill from here.

First, I ate a clementine before getting on the bus at 9:45am because I thought I was hungry because I ran from my first class to the bus. Bad thought there. Thinking I deserve to be hungry…

Next, I ate a pre-made box lunch turkey sandwich – with loads of deli turkey (= lots of sodium), cheese and white bread. I ate this at around 10:45am as my lunch because my race started at 1:15pm and I “calculated” that the protein in my turkey needed enough time to digest. In other words, I got too bored on the bus and decided I needed to eat despite not feeling hungry.


After the race, which was 500m shorter than varsity since I’m novice, I decided that I needed to refuel. Now the race wasn’t that bad and was definitely less physically demanding than any of the track races, but because I knew crew was deemed as a “physically demanding sport that burns tons of calories,” I digged into the snacks the parents brought. Here’s the list: One HUGE banana, one Clif bar, half a bagel (now this was my first time eating a bagel in months – I thought I deserved this thing of dense white flour because I rowed too hard), 5 cookies (again, another first since months – this was more out of a craving, just kind of bummed out that I ate my first cookie since last year as a Chips Ahoy cookie and not a homemade one), plus another banana and a whole bowl of pineapple. I know … in a less than 8 minute race that I partook, I ate that much. It also didn’t help that the day was super chilly so I wanted to eat even more.

After all that snack shazam, we went to one of the varsity boy’s house for dinner. And I ate okay, except I ate a brownie, my first in years, for dessert.

But with all this being said, guess what? I just worked out today and I feel perfectly in shape. My clothes still fit me the same. I ate just as much as I would have on any regular day. No, I did not eat less on Sunday because I ate more the day before so I can “balance” my calories out. Nope, I just moved on. I didn’t dwell on my lack of self-control, I just told myself that Saturday was my “treat yo self” day and I gave myself the trust that I can go back on track the very next day, which I did. I told myself that it’s the consistency that counts and one day isn’t going to ruin me.

So to all of you out there who are perfectionists when it comes to eating, just chill. My mom  is the perfect example of this mentality that I’m talking about. She exercises an hour everyday, but she does it because she enjoys it. And the exercise I’m talking about is simply walking briskly on the treadmill for an hour while watching her favorite TV show. She eats pretty balanced meals, but when she wants dessert, she’ll get it, if she’s at a dinner party and there’s heaps of food, she’ll treat herself. The only way she shows her regret is this, “Oops, I ate too much.” That’s it. And she moves right on.

So for those who eat for perfection, I want you to know that sometimes you have to eat for pleasure. It’s okay if you eat that cake, it’s okay if you eat something despite knowing that it’s “bad” for you. In fact, I think it’s emotionally bad for you to eat something with guilt. Remember, everything in moderation.

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So you overate for one meal, one day, one week, or more? It’s okay, I did that too. I ate, I ate some more, but guess what? I still love myself.

Do you have any tips for getting back on track after a “cheat” meal?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Goguma Green Smoothie

Goguma Green Smoothie

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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.

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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!

 

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Lots and lots of kale!

 

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

Here are some of the after pictures:

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

 

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

 

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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

My Top 3 Favorite Health YouTubers

My Top 3 Favorite Health YouTubers

It’s a true but embarrassing fact that I can spend hours on YouTube. However, one of my most used excuses for watching YouTube videos is that they are informative, at least in the health realm. So here are a few of my top favorite health YouTube channels.

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1.This Girl Audra | I love this YouTube channel because of the straightforward and candid manner in which Audra talks. While Audra focuses more on eating disorders and how to recover from it, I think everybody can take at least one thing out of her videos.

 

She talks everything from vegan diets, fixing your metabolism, getting your period back, to exercise addiction. My favorite series of hers is her “normal eating” series. It hits all the right points about how while it’s important to eat healthy, we should enjoy life as well. While this may be a bit TMI, one of my favorite analogies from her is that eating is just like any biological function, such as peeing. When we want to pee, we just go, right? We don’t pee halfway and then say, “No, I’ll pee later.” The same goes with eating. When you want to eat, you don’t just suppress that urge just like you wouldn’t suppress the urge to pee. Isn’t that an amazing analogy?

 

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2.Josie Mai | Josie is such an upbeat person, that she’s infectious. She has been through so much (from eating disorder to binge eating to IIFYM to now intuitive eating), which makes her an even greater source for all things healthy from the inside and out. I love watching her vlogs because she accounts for her everyday healthy habits but in a real down-to-earth way. Her vlogs, just like Audra’s, doesn’t look staged but seems genuine, which I love.

 

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3.Niomi Smart | A lot of you guys may have heard of Niomi Smart through her beauty videos, however, I’m more interested and in love with her Health/Fitness videos. Her videos are more edited and “professional” looking out of all the three, but sometimes her videos are a breath of fresh air after looking at the raw footages of Audra’s and Josie’s. Niomi does the bestWhat I eat in a day” videos, and she’s currently training for the London Marathon (so I might be a bit bias in loving her so much since I’m a distance runner too). In addition, Niomi and her former boyfriend Marcus Butler (another YouTuber) have started a snacking service full of healthy and natural snacks called SourcedBox.

 

What are your favorite health channels on YouTube?

xoxo,

Stephanie

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):

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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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

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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

 

What’s Going On In My Life Right Now?

What’s Going On In My Life Right Now?

Today’s post is a bit overdue, but better late than never right? I remember I made a promise in the beginning of the year to do monthly updates on my New Year’s Resolution. While it’s already the middle of March, I’ll do recap on how I did in February and how I’m doing so far in March.

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Anyways, February’s goal was: Love yourself. Love others by showing patience, understanding. Reach out to old childhood friends. Pray for friends. Obey your parents.

 

I have to admit, February’s goal was pretty challenging. I’m someone who is very hard on myself. Thus, while I found balance in January, I still found myself dissatisfied. I kept on comparing myself to my fellow classmates who would write more articles than me for the school newspaper, run personal bests in track, already take ACTs and PSATs as high school freshmen, and so forth.

 

So let’s run down the list:

Love yourself | This is a work-in-progress that I feel will be a project for the whole year.

 

Love others by showing patience and understanding | I didn’t do too bad on this one, but I didn’t do my best. Attending a boarding school, it’s natural for your friends to ask if they can borrow your shoes, clothes, etc. However, I am very clean and neat with my stuff that lending someone my stuff is quite hard.  This proved to be a huge obstacle for this month. Again, like the first sub-goal, this will be a work-in-progress goal that I will keep in my mind until I get it done.

 

Reach out to childhood friends | This was also a fail. I was so caught up with school and extracurricular activities that I didn’t have time to text my friends. However, I did contact one of my really old friend from when I was in kindergarten. Although she lives in New York, we had a decent conversation. However, with my friends back at home, not so much. Nevertheless, I’m catching up with them over spring break. In fact, I went and visited my old school this past Wednesday and  just had lunch with one of my best friends today. Those two events were probably the highlight of my spring break. It was so nice to go back to my old friends and jump right back into a conversation as if nothing happen (when actually I moved 200 miles away).

 

Pray for friends | Not really. I have started doing daily devotionals though and always pray before I go to bed, but because I have so much stress in still adjusting to boarding school life, my prayers usually center around me. Again, this a work-in-progress goal.

 

Obey your parents | I don’t think this goal was specific enough. If we go word-for-word, then yes, I did obey my parents. However, I didn’t have much to obey because I’m away at boarding school. I think the actual goal was to show kindness, patience, and understanding to my parents, which again, I’m sure as all of you guys can relate, is always a work-in-progress thing.

 

So in a nutshell, February’s goal wasn’t too successful. However, I’m going to show self-love and forgive myself (did you see what I did there?).

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Moving on to March, March’s goal is: LOOK UP/FOCUS | Find ways that help you focus. Look up to your role models – who they are and why. Look into things that interest you. Look up from your phone screen and take in your surroundings. Focus and study (this is in time for finals week haha)

 

Again, we’re going to go down the list:

 

Find ways that help you focus | I’ve started using the Pomodoro technique and Alex Ikonn’s Productivity Journal. So far, so good! Also, I’ve been telling to myself before spring break while studying for finals: “You’re almost there. Focus for the sake of spring break!!!”

 

Look up to your role models – who they are and why. | I have an on-going list. However, I’ll share this with you if a) any of you are interested and b) once I get the final list done.

 

Look into things that interest you. | Same thing as above

 

Look up from your phone screen and take in your surroundings. | A huge working goal right now. It does help that my Lenten challenge is to give up random Internet web-surfing. I’m actually thinking of making a post about this in the future about how not looking at my phone all the time has helped my health!

 

Focus and study (this is in time for finals week haha) | This was one success. I definitely honed in and studied really hard for finals. My final survival tips also helped a lot as well.

 

Whew! That was a long post. In all, while February wasn’t that successful, March is looking pretty strong!

 

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Also, any tips on self-love and practicing love to others?

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 :))

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***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.

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Vertical Nutrition Label
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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.

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–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).

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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.

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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.

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–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.

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–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.

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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.

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This makes sense
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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.

 

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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