Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup

First off, I would like to thank those with the immense support and love from my most recent post. When I started this blog with Serena 3 years ago and even today, my hope for this blog is not to gain a large following – rather, if I can influence and help one reader from my ever-growing journey towards health and happiness, then I believe I have done my part. Each and every well-wishes and encouraging messages motivates me to not lose hope in my journey to recovery and I wanted to say a huge thank you that.

Away from all the cheesy-ness (is that even a word?), here a few snaps from the past week.

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@Cloud Gate in Downtown Chicago

My mom and I took a quick two-day trip to Chicago and New York for college tours (cue in the sad faces….). Most of the trip involved taking red-eye flights, checking into hotels after midnight, sleeping for less than 6 hours, running around catching Ubers, trying to stay awake during the college information sessions, and shivering from the frigid Chicago and New York City weather. To be honest, I’m surprised at how much my mom and I fit in 48 hours.

So there was not much time to find yummy places to eat as my mom and I had to deal with the short time we had.

 

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Besides the frigid cold weather, Chicago was amazing – it was one of the cleanest and nicest cities I’ve been to!

But while in NYC, my mom and I had enough time to stop by by Chloe, a vegan restaurant that serves burgers, salads, pastas and also pastries! We ordered the guac burger, quinoa taco salad and the artichoke dip. My mom, who usually is not a big fan of modified food (aka veggie burgers), put a big thumbs up for this meal – so that’s saying something!

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The following weekend, I went out with my childhood best friends for an early birthday lunch. We went to Brio (my first time!) and it was so good! I ordered the grilled salmon with sweet potatoes on the sides.

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It was a pretty quick week, especially with the whirlwind two day trip. I’m ready to enjoy the last week of my spring break by sleeping in and eating lots of good homemade foods!

How was your week?

xoxo,

Stephanie

How Veganism Helped Me Recover from My Eating Disorder

How Veganism Helped Me Recover from My Eating Disorder

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2018 was to reconnect with my old friends. Moving to boarding school, I’ve found myself losing contact with a lot of my friends from my old school. So on New Years, I sent a few texts to those I sincerely missed and one of them was Sara!

Sara is the sweetest, most down-to-earth girl you’ll ever meet. Her beautiful, compassionate and selfless personality is contagious! I was so heart-broken when she told she suffered from an eating disorder. In fact, both of us had no idea we suffered from an eating disorder — and we’ve known each other since 3rd grade!

I was ecstatic when Sara said she would be totally up for writing a blog post for avolicious! I believe that Sara’s story will inspire and motivate many of you or those that you know to really make 2018 your healthiest and happiest year yet!

xoxo, Stephanie

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How Veganism Helped Me Recover from My Eating Disorder 

Guest post by Sara

I’d always had a disordered relationship with food. My naturally large appetite and love for pasta made it hard for me to stay healthy. My weight was constantly fluctuating, and I couldn’t stand my body. I developed an eating disorder when I was fourteen. I suffered from anorexia for about three years.

Although it’s hard to say that I’m fully recovered, I’m glad to report that I no longer deprive myself. I definitely still have some intrusive thoughts wondering how many calories are in that cookie, but now I consistently nourish my body with healthful foods and indulge a few times a week to keep me sane. Going vegan this past July radically changed my relationship with food for the better.

Acai Bowl

As an animal lover, I had contemplated veganism for months. I thought I could never go vegan; I assumed it would be too hard and too restricting. But the moment I stepped into that leather shop in Italy, my perspective changed. I realized that what I consumed had a significant impact on the animals. I was supporting animal cruelty with everything I bought or ate. I cut out meat the next day and gradually cut out all other animal products over the next few weeks.

The greatest concern for me and my family was that I would lose weight. Plants are generally less calorie-dense than animal products. I initially was reluctant because I didn’t want to see myself spiral out of control again with my restrictive eating, but I had already decided to help change the world for the animals. Finally, I came across one of Bonny Rebecca’s videos about how veganism helped her overcome bulimia. I’d never been so determined. Her story showed me that veganism could help me recover from my eating disorder. I did hours of research online and met with a nutritionist to ensure that I ate sufficiently. What I failed to realize in the beginning was that food truly, really was my friend. I thought I was eating too much and felt guilty for wanting more — that was my anorexia talking to me.

Me after Hike
“I exercise to celebrate my strength and my body. I am so lucky I got to go on a hike with such a beautiful view.”

When you’re vegan, your body knows what you need. If you’re not satisfied, then eat more! This is the only way I have been able to maintain a healthy weight for the past few months. Often I fail to realize how few calories my meal has, and my body cries for more. It’s amazing what listening to your body can do. I thrive on a vegan diet when I listen to my cravings. I can eat when I am hungry, and I stop when I am full. It’s as simple as that. And I don’t ever feel weighed down, no matter how much I eat.

Although some perceive veganism as extremely restrictive, I have never felt so free. I no longer have to worry about how much I’m eating because I know my brain will take care of that by telling me when to start and when to stop eating. I am the happiest I have ever been. I hope that you can have the same loving relationship with food that I have gained through veganism.

 

What will you do this week for your body and mind?

XOXO,

Sara

Banana Cinnamon Coffee Overnight Oats

Banana Cinnamon Coffee Overnight Oats

I love my overnight oats. Sometimes I think I wake up because my oats are calling my name. You might think I’m a bit overly obsessed but let me tell you they are the perfect breakfast to have in the mornings when you don’t have time to/don’t feel like making anything, but don’t want to sacrifice your health. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you better feed your body right, from the start.

I have so many overnight oat recipes that I’ve created, and I’ll share more of them later. But for now, allow me to introduce my go to, BANANA CINNAMON COFFEE overnight oats. As with many of my recipes, each of the ingredients are selected for a purpose, so that the ingredients list doesn’t contain any unnecessary bells and whistles.

Here it is:

Servings: 1

Time: 5 minutes active (yes, actually 5 minutes I timed it :)), 7-8 hours fridge overnight

Ingredients:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 tbsp. chia seeds (or sub flax seeds)

1/2 banana

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp instant coffee powder (equivalent to about 1/2 cup coffee worth of caffeine)

1/2 cup + a little bit more almond milk (or milk of choice)

honey to taste

optional toppings: almond slivers, dark chocolate chips, etc.

Instructions:

1.) In a mason jar or some resealable jar, mash the banana. Add oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, coffee powder, honey, and milk.

2.) Screw on the lid and shake until well combined (or you could be fancy and mix with a spoon).

3.) Pop it in the fridge, and enjoy right out of the jar the next morning! (ideally 7-8 hours in the fridge, but the timing is flexible)

Yeah, that’s it. Just a throw everything in a jar and shake kind of recipe. You DO NOT have to have any kind of cooking skill to make this oatmeal, and it turns out creamy and satisfying every time!! You can heat it up in the morning as well, but I find cold/room temp oats to be just fine. I even have overnight oats for snack sometimes 😛

Let me know if you try out this recipe and your thoughts! Happy oatmeal 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

My 2016 Health and Fitness Faves

My 2016 Health and Fitness Faves

2016 is over in a couple of minutes (or might be already over by the time you read this), BUT I wanted to share a couple of my 2016 health and fitness faves.

ONE// Wearable tech

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image source

While I personally don’t have any wearable tech items (as my mom fears about radiation…) I think 2016 was the year for wearable tech. I’ve seen from Jawbone, FitBit, Polar, Garmin and more on the arms of fitness junkies and ordinary people alike! It’s great that these wearable tech items are slim, pretty discreet, and easy to use. I really hope to persuade my mom to let me get one!

TWO// Foam rolling

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Now this is something I’ve personally experience and reaped benefits of. I had extremely tired quads at the end of summer after a sudden increase in running mileage. My old running coach (that I still contact to this day) recommended that I take a break from running and instead, foam roll for a good 40 minutes. 10 minutes for quads, 10 minutes each for side of the leg, and 10 minutes for hamstrings. While it was a mundane motion, foam rolling definitely helped me recover quickly!

 

THREE// Yoga

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While yoga has always been touted as a healthy practice for the body and mind, I feel like it has gotten a lot of hype this year. I’ve personally love to do yoga as a nice way to stretch my body and challenge my body in a different way.

 

FOUR// Healthy and cute food restaurants

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from my What I Ate in Korea blog post 1 and 2

I personally am so happy about this! I feel like recently there’s been so many healthy restaurants that are both cute and popular, although they are on the expensive side. When visiting NYC or Seoul this year, I’ve definitely seen a lot of places to eat where there are green-colored and fresh foods instead of brown and fried ones. Especially, meals with avocado has been getting the hype recently!

 

FIVE// Superfoods

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from Serena’s “detox” juice

My maternal grandmother and my mom is a huge fan of superfoods, so I’m definitely one as well. I think during 2016, we’ve seen a lot of acai, goji, maca, noni, and cacao from the media.

In addition, not really a superfood, but chia seeds and hemp seeds have been getting a lot of praise as well.

 

SIX// Green juices/smoothies

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Oh. my. goodness. How could I not list green juice? I think this is a pretty self-explanatory item.

But one thing to note: some green juices can have a lot of sugar so watch out. It’s always best to make your own one (check out my green smoothie recipe from this year)!

SEVEN// Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free …

There’s also been a lot of encouragement, support, and development into diets and lifestyles that are necessarily the standard carnivore or American diet. I love taking a peek into “What I Eat in a Day” videos where the eater has a certain/specific diet.

I personally still eat red meat and all, but I truly respect all who make the choice to eat a certain way.

Check out Serena’s blog post about her diet switch!

EIGHT// Body confidence

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I feel like during 2016, the media as well as celebrities spread messages about body confidence and body image. So necessary in this day and age. #preach

Check out some of my body image posts here and here.

 

Hope 2017 can be another health and fitness filled year!

How did you ring in the New Year?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

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

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