Columbia Mailman Orientation +Vegan Eats in NYC

Oy! It was orientation week. I thought I’d blog through a wee bit of the past week for ya, in case any of you are interested.

Saturday + Sunday

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I flew into NYC early Saturday morning, and got straight to apartment hunting. Apartment hunting in New York City is among the worst activities one can put oneself through on earth. Anyone who has done it can vouch – it is literally the most ridiculous, stressful, and upsetting processes of all times.

I ran around the city all day, ate a bunch of snacks (apples, bananas, nuts, nut butter packets, chocolate covered nuts, etc) and eventually grabbed Just Salads for dinner. I have a weird obsession with Just Salad.

 

Everyone I know prefers sweetgreens. But I’m a Just Salads gal FO LYFE. I got kale + romaine mixed, double roasted sweet potatoes, apples, chickpeas, organic roasted tofu, beets, and jicama, with a side of each spicy avocado dressing and agave mustard dressing. And bread, because bread.

I passed out, and did the whole damn exact same thing the next day. And repeated dinner. Good times.

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Monday

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Monday was day one of orientation. Lunch was a buffet style of yummy food. The quinoa salad had chickpeas, cranberries, herbs, and a lemony (I think?) dressing. Wrap was white bean dip and grilled veggies. P impressive.

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Swag:

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There was also a reception that night with lots of appetizers and snacks. I made a plate of fruit, crackers, nutty bread, guac, hummus, and nuts. Yum.  I was pretty impressed by the food selection at Mailman. They did a good job of providing healthy, yummy, filling options. Bravo!

I had a bad day that day for personal reasons. Really bad day. My anxiety is out of frickin’ control. I found out some icky stuff about my mom’s health issues, and was rejected from an apartment, because as a student in NYC, you need a guarantor who makes 64-80 times the annual rent to co-sign your lease. My mom was rejected, because she can’t provide proof of employment (since she doesn’t work since she is disabled). I found this frustrating; I understand that renters want to be sure rent will be paid, but I find this is also somewhat discriminatory. So if you aren’t wealthy or know someone who is, you can’t get a place? #annoying.

I ended up at my friend’s place in Brooklyn late that night, where I ate a banana with peanut butter and some of his leftover kale salad. And a bunch of chocolate. And went to bed.

Tuesday

Tuesday was day 2 of orientation. I’m bad at orientations. We got boxed lunches (I went with that day’s vegan option), and then we had a long 5 hour small group discussion thing on diversity and privilege. Tough conversations, etc. I was having another bad day with anxiety, and probably came off as emotionally unstable to other people since I was being overly emotional. Oh well. Just gotta move on and not obsess.

Bathroom signs at Mailman:

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For dinner, I stopped at Whole Foods out of fatigue and convenience. I got a salad with roasted sweet potatoes, lemon roasted tofu, and some vegan dumplings. I also got a ‘power’ bagel (whole wheat with cranberries and seeds) on the side because my body wanted CARBS baby. Eaten with a vegan cookie. Noms.

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Wednesday

Wednesday was another day of orientation. I had some errands to run in the morning, then headed up to Mailman. I had a hummus wrap and grapes and chips for lunch, but didn’t snap a photo. After orientation, my friend Raag made us some yummy Indian food for dinner.

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He also taught me some cooking tips. Apparently, many Indian dishes are prepared by first browning onions and tomatoes together. This was new to me. Usually, I add tomatoes much later. This was a fun new tip! He also taught me I should rinse my rice before I cook it. I was happy to learn his tips. He’s so kind, and an awesome cook!

Thursday

Thursday I ran some errands around the city and sat around like a crazy anxious person waiting to hear back about an apartment and catastrophizing my life in every way imaginable. At some point, I stopped and enjoyed an organic peach in Bryant Park.

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I swear my anxiety has been peaking this week. I have really been struggling to get through normal daily activities. I know I have to get it under control, but this week has been so busy I haven’t had time to deal with myself. I am VERY thankful to my supportive friends and aunt for being there for me this week.

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A bit later I once hit up Whole Foods for lunch. I got a Justin’s almond butter packet (on sale for $0.50 WHAT UP), another bagel (because I really enjoyed the last one, and for $1.00, it’s a lot of filling carby goodness), a banana, and some salad and hummus from the salad bar. I think the cashier rang up my order wrong, because this lunch ended up costing me $2.77 which I didn’t even notice until I looked at the receipt while eating? Okay. I’ll take it.

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My friend Caty let me come over and sit on her bed and watch dumb videos on my laptop while she went on a run with a friend. I had been pinning out at coffee shops all day but needed to like, not be sitting in real pants around humans. THANK U CATY.

We grabbed a late dinner at Peacefood, which is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC/the world. We split the Asian greens salad (with greens, jicama, tempeh, carrots, and a yummy spicy peanut dressing), and the vegan cheeseburger. Pardon the crapy pics; that place has dim *~*trendy romantic*~* lighting.

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This cheeseburger. You guys. It is my FAVORITE vegan cheeseburger on earth (and I’ve had a lot of veggie burgers in my 17+ meat-free years). It’s a house-made vegan patty with cheese, guac, pickled peppers, caramelized onions, and some sauce or something on homemade focaccia. It is messy and hearty and flavorful and delicious. LOVE.

After dinner, the Van Leeuwen truck was parked right by Peacefood. Van Leeuwen makes the most delicious, rich craft ice cream I have ever had. Their vegan base is a blend of coconut, cocoa butter, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. It is OUTSTANDING.

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I ended up with “one scoop” of vegan strawberry jam, and one scoop of vegan cookie dough.

One scoop ended up being more like a pint. And I ate it all because it was FRICKIN’ delicious. I was really glad I sampled the strawberry jam, because it was honestly one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had! And not something I would normally think to order (I tend to be a chocolate/nut ice cream over fruit kinda gal).

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But it had a rich base with swirls of housemate strawberry jam and pieces of biscuit that were like crunchy and sort of soft simultaneously. And the vegan cookie dough was obviously amazing, with big chunks of vegan cookie dough. My fav flavor there is vegan banana nut, which tastes likes straight up banana bread, but they didn’t have it at the truck. Which probably turned out for the better, since I tried the strawberry!

We ate in Union Square Park, then headed back to BK. I went to bed at my friend’s apartment, and she went out with some friends.

Regarding the large amount of ice cream…I DEFINITELY ate past the point of fullness. In fact, I felt a little TOO full about 30 minutes later. I inhaled it because I think I really needed a good meal after so much walking the previous few days, but the stuff is soooo rich I think I overate beyond my needs. Yes, I was a bit uncomfortably full. But you know what? You live and you learn. Yup, I probably inhaled like, a day’s worth of calories in the form of vegan ice cream in like, 2 minutes, but it is NOT worth obsessing over. I went to bed with a very full tummy and decided to slow down on my ice cream inhalation next time (also, usually they don’t give me THAT much, even when I order two scoops instead of one…I think the guy just was feeling generous).

Friday

Friday I woke up early, went on a run (hadn’t exercised besides walking all week and figured it may do my anxiety some good), showered, and got brunch with Caty and one of her friends.


She called me around 10:40am asking if I wanted to go to Champs, which is a vegan diner. I was bummed I had LITERALLY just finished a bagel with nut butter and banana and wasn’t super hungry but decided to go anyway. I’m glad I did.

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Since I wasn’t super hungry I got a pancake with berries. And syrup. Champs was fun. It’s like an old school diner with classic diner entrees, but all vegan. And with fun art.

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The pancake was yummy. Tasted like a straight up diner pancake, if that makes sense. Like that unique, griddle-cooked taste.

After that, I spontaneously booked a plane ticket for that night and decided to head home for the long weekend, since I learned the apartment I was approved for wouldn’t let me move in until Thursday, and I was quite frankly in need of some real sleep on a bed (not a couch) and some alone time.

I’m quite the introvert, and not having any personal space, especially during an orientation week, makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I literally often feel like I need to be alone and calm down to get back to baseline when I’m overwhelmed with anxiety, and having no place to just sit and be by myself has increased my stress, anxiety, and panic.

Also, I MISSED MY FRICKIN’ DOG who has been in Wisconsin until I’m settled with a place.

Thanks for reading! Sorry I’ve been absent this week. Haven’t been in the headspace to blog. But feel much calmer home and with my doggo and with a good night’s sleep in me.

Can any introverts out there relate to feeling super overwhelmed when you don’t have your own space? Any tips for crippling anxiety? Let me know and stay #blessed!

Weekend Update/Life Update (My Next Step)

Hey there! I haven’t written a post like this in a while so I figured it was time. I thought I’d share my weekend and what I’m up to next!

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This weekend I was actually supposed to be in Denver, but life was too hectic with a move coming up this week (eeeeep) and with zero packing done and no apartment yet I decided I’ll go to Denver in January instead. My anxiety hasn’t been serving me well these days. Sometimes it does, other times it’s a messy butthole that gets in the way. Right now it’s the later. #anyways #movingon

Friday:

Friday I took my brand new MacBook Pro to the Apple Store because after shelling out a boat load of money for it, it came with a broken “D” key. How irritating. The guy was also totally not nice about it and didn’t believe it came that way (he kept saying Apple Care would cover the damage this time…and I’m like this isn’t damage….it came messed up). Anyways, now I don’t have a computer I can use Adobe on until Friday which is SUPER annoying because I was in the middle of editing several videos. Ugh!

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Also on Friday, it was announced that Millie’s photo in the TJ’s contest won us a $500 giftcard. I AM SO GRATEFUL AND HAPPY. Thanks to all who supported us! Here’s the photo from Millie’s Insta:

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I actually found out about this on Thursday and took Millie out to dinner and froyo at Panera to thank her for her cuteness lol.

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She got the chicken that would have come on my salad.

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Can we be real for a moment? I frickin’ love Panera. Like I know it’s nothing phenomenal but it’s consistently good. I just love their salads and soups and bagels! Tho their bread is kinda meh IMO. Bring back the actually yummy sourdough roll days!

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Saturday:

Saturday I made peanut butter cookies (because I love to bake when I’m stressed; recipe coming soon), sort of packed, took Millie to the park, and was in a meh mood for most of the day.

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At the park, Millie made friends with a bee! Curious nugget.

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I met an old co-worker for dinner at Odd Duck. If you ever find yourself in MKE, go to Odd Duck. It’s small plates, different menu almost every time you go, and more often than not, very yum yum.

I got a quinoa salad (yes this photo is AWFUL, the lighting was dim) with greens, quinoa, apples, onions, golden raisins and a cumin vinaigrette. The golden raisins in it were MONEY. The cumin dressing could have used a hint more acid/salt to be a slam dunk IMO, but I tend to like very acidic/salty things so perhaps I’m biased.

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I also got this grilled cauliflower dish. It came with hunks of grilled Cauliflower (obvi) Guajillo Purée, Plantain Chips, Fingerling Potatoes, Poblano Jelly, Chili Oil “Powder”, Nopal Aioli. This was MONEY.

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After that I stopped by a friend’s in Bayview since I was nearby, did an errand, and headed home for sleeps.

Sunday:

Sunday I hit up Trader Joe’s bright and early to get in on some of their deals for their 50th anniversary. I got avocados and organic French baguettes for $0.50, and $93 of other stuff. I utilized the avos + baguette for an epic $1 lunch (with some everything bagel salt, of course).

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I also went to a barre class that morning, and ran another errand or 8. I also got stressed about my computer issues preventing me from getting work done so I made more cookies.

Levain Bakery Style Vegan Cookies

While I was baking I looked up and saw two wild turkeys and two deer in the backyard. Gotta love Wisco (political policies here aside)!

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Sunday evening I met my aunt for dinner at Beans & Barley, which is a Milwaukee health food institution that’s old school and charming in the best way.

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This was one of the first healthy diner type places around here, and it was nice to visit it since I haven’t been in a while. I love how old school certain things about it are. Like they put whole cherry tomatoes and alfalfa spreads in salad and serve everything with these cute tiny rolls and a pad of butter.

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Dinner was chips and guac with 3 kinds of salsa, a large greens salad (with all of the veggies, sunflower seeds, cashews, etc) with balsamic marinated tofu (yum), and of course, a wee little roll. Their balsamic dressing, BTW, is money.

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We also got dessert. German chocolate cake for her and vegan peanut butter chocolate cake for me. Yummo. Their cakes are good because they are not too sweet! #bless

It was a nice evening. I really enjoyed spending time with my aunt. She’s pretty awesome. After that I headed up, chilled with the weiner, and headed to bed.

What’s Next:

In an attempt to be more open about my life on my blog and not just post recipes, I’m going to share that I’m moving back to NYC for more school (yup). I’m starting at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health in the Environmental Health Sciences department, with a focus on Climate & Health. My goal is to focus on how climate change is impacted nutrition/food systems.

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Yes, I’m a mega-nerd. If you know me IRL closely, you’ll know this year was kinda tough for me. I moved cross-country and started something that I knew in my gut just wasn’t right. Lesson learned: ALWAYS trust you your gut, not your logical brain or what anyone else tells you should do.

Anyways, after realizing what I definitely DON’T want to do, I revisited an urge to enter this program. I took classes in this department while at IHN of Columbia, and was blown away by them. I felt so moved, and motivated. Also throughout that entire program, I realized my strength is not in basic lab science. I can do it, but I truly excel at social sciences and public health.

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I actually didn’t want to do this program since I’m wary about moving back to NYC after being there for so long and really enjoying a break from it, but accepted students day sold me. Hard. The department I’m in seems so awesome. The professors are amazeballs and very caring. And it seems like the students do such neat things!

I want to help communicate public health messages to the public and be an advocate. Eventually, I think, I want to be a professor. I have taught at U of MN and at Marquette, and really enjoy it! I’m excited to share my journey of life in NYC, public health, nutrition, and climate health. I hope you’ll join me; I’m legit VERY excited about this curriculum! And plan to NOT do what I did last time I was in school and stop blogging. No no. This is happening. HOLD ME TO IT.

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Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, especially in this last weird/icky/bumpin’ my head around the world year. I feel truly humbled and blessed for this upcoming opportunity.

Thanks for reading!!! Comment about your weekend; I love hearing from readers!

10 Phrases to Remove from Your Food/Exercise Vocabulary

Greetings! Just have some things on my mind I wanted to share over here on this blog thing.

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This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but after traveling and listening to the way some friends talk about food/eating/working out, and the way the Real Housewives of Orange County (side note:why is it this group that does it the most? Real Housewives of NY seem to eat normally…) talk about food/eating/working out, and the way some of my fitness-hyped friends/gyms talk about food/eating/working out, I’m at my breaking point. Time to write!

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I wanted to discuss a few things that I continually hear that are NOT HEALTHY behaviors. Sadly, society has made them ‘normal,’ so I can’t classify them as NOT HEALTHY NORMAL behaviors. Maybe some day.

Anyways, society has warped people’s ideas of what it means to be healthy. Even in the nutrition world, I see people I know take it too far. Nutritionists I follow on Instagram post their daily workouts and show all their pristinely healthy foods.

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I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with regular exercise or black bean brownies, but like, it’s okay (actually, healthy) to have a bit of flexibility in your diet. Eating too healthy  and working out rigorously all the time isn’t healthy; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

It can cause stress, anxiety, food-fear, guilt, and tumultuous relationships with food that can spiral into an eating disorder, or cause people to flirt with disordered eating thoughts and behaviors for years.

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Admittedly, this is a lesson I learned with time. We all make mistakes, grow, and learn. So here are phrases I have banned from my vocabulary, or, at the very least, phrases or thoughts that I recognize as unhealthy if they creep up in my brain or in conversation. I encourage you to read them and assess your relationship with food:

1. ‘I’m banning sugar/fruit/carbs from my diet.’

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Are you? That sounds difficult, sad, and downright impractical. Glucose is your body’s preferred source of energy, and it needs it!

I have no idea who decided bread and pasta are like, the worst thing ever, OR who decided that that the only ‘acceptable,’ sources of carbohydrates are quinoa and sweet potatoes, but it’s time to recognize that carbs are an important part of a healthy diet, as are sources of fat and protein.

So important, in fact, that it’s recommended you eat a majority of your calories from carbohydrates. So embrace that bread baby! And the fruit. All the fruit. And unfollow anyone on Instagram who tells you fruit is bad for you. They are bad for your mental health.

2. ‘I feel so guilty if I eat ____.’

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Eating should never make you feel guilty. You are a freaking living organism for crying out loud. Do you feel guilty drinking water if you’re thirsty? No, you probably don’t.

So why on earth would you feel guilty giving your body fuel when you are hungry? Eating when you are hungry is the same as drinking when you are thirsty. Give. Your. Body. What. It. Needs.

And if you have guilt or anxiety around certain foods, perhaps you need to assess your relationship with eating. Food is just food. If you want an apple, eat an apple. If you want a cupcake, have a cupcake. Your body will break it down, digest it, and give you energy. So eat food. Enjoy it. And move on with life.

3. ‘No food after XX:00pm.’

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Hey just another reminder that your body is a living organism, not a clock or a machine. You should eat when you are hungry. Period. Want lunch at 10:00am? Eat it. Want it at 2:00pm? Also cool.

Clocks don’t always match up with your hunger cycle, and every day is different. Instead of judging when you want to eat, or setting up windows when you can, start listening to your hunger/fullness cues instead of eating on a schedule.

4. ‘I didn’t work out today, so I can’t eat any __________ or go out to dinner/dessert.’

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That sounds like a rigid, unhealthy relationship with food and movement. If you’re moving your body with the sole intention to burn calories, OR you feel you do not ‘deserve’ certain foods if you haven’t worked out enough, you may have an unhealthy relationship with exercise.

Here’s a fun fact: you burn calories all the time. When you’re sleeping, when you’re digesting food, when you go to the bathroom, even when you think – all of those things burn calories.

The human brain consumes roughly 420 calories per day, so you should be eating enough to fuel your brain, organs, and body enough to live through each day with ample energy and mental clarity.

Exercise should make you feel good; it should make you feel stronger. It isn’t a box you have to check off your list every day in order to eat appropriate amounts of food.

I don’t want to look back on my life and regret missing fun dinners or desserts out because I didn’t work out enough that day.

5. ‘Never miss a workout! #Noexcuses! #MotivationMonday.’

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No excuses? What if you’re sick, tired, sore, or having a really stressful day where adding exercise to your routine will greatly increases your stress level? Those sound like darn good excuses to me…

Exercise should enhance you, not stress you out. And you should be able to ride with the ebs and flows of life and skip exercise when you aren’t feeling it or it isn’t convenient and not feel guilty or anxious about it.

Overexercising can increase stress hormones like cortisol, and cause all sorts of nasty impacts on your body/health. Making overexercise unhealthy.

If you think it’s more important to burn calories every day than to maintain your health, you should seriously check your relationship with food/eating.

6.  ‘I was so bad last night….I ate  _____.’

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If you are labeling eating behavior as ‘good,’ and ‘bad,’ you may be flirting with (or have a full blown) disordered relationship with food.

People ask me all the time “Is X food or Y food better?” To which, I always respond, “Foods are very complex and everyone is different and in need of different things, so that’s a very complicated question.”

Try not to view foods as ‘good,’ and ‘bad.’ Sure, there are foods that have more fiber or protein or vitamin whatever than other foods, but just because a food is high in sugar or lacking trace minerals doesn’t make it ‘bad.’

Sometimes you gotta eat for your mental health or to enjoy social experiences. For example, if you choose not to eat cake on your friend’s birthday even though you want to eat it, simply because you think it’s ‘unhealthy,’ you are doing yourself more harm than good. And sometimes you just need a damn cookie after a long day because you are craving it.

Same goes with travel. Tasting new foods while traveling should enhance your travel experience, not cause anxiety. EMBRACE IT.

7. ‘I feel insane if I don’t workout every day.’

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Do you? Because that is a little insane, and sounds a bit like exercise addiction, especially if missing exercise causes you to have anxiety. See numbers 4 and 5.

8. ‘I’m at my calorie limit for the day, so I can’t have any.’

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If you count calories or track macros, I urge you to stop.

Can I ask you a question? Is your body a calculator? No. No it is not. So why are your treating it like a math equation. Every single day is different, so your needs are different each and every day to reflect that.

Some days you may be crazy hungry and need 5 meals and 4 snacks. Other days you may have less of an appetite. Both are totally normal. So why would you try to achieve a specific number each day, you’re actively disengaging from your hunger/fullness cues and REALLY messing with your body’s ability to naturally maintain homeostasis and body weight.

Do yourself a giant favor, and skip the counting. You’ll feel free, and more in tune to what your body wants, and what it actually needs.

9. ‘Earn/Sculpt Your Body.’

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This is something I often hear at gyms or boutique fitness studios. Even at a boutique fitness studio I really love and have a membership to, I see/hear this all the time and it bothers me.

Here’s why: I just don’t think you should feel like you have to treat your body like it’s a goddamn piece of clay for some art show or something. Your body breathes. It digests food. Your brain thinks. It helps you learn, create, share information, and interact with others. It also helps you be able to exercise, and do all other amazing tasks you may need to do throughout the day.

Your body is FREAKIN’ AMAZING. So instead of viewing it as something to manipulate, how about showing it some gosh darn well-deserved appreciation?!

10. ‘I’m on a cleanse/doing a non-toxic lifestyle thing.’

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Lol…I have no idea what people mean by ‘cleansing’ or ‘detoxifying foods.’ These are sexy phrases that have no scientific backing/evidence. No food has shown significant evidence to cleanse or detoxify you…your liver and kidney remove any real toxins so you can consider yourself all good on that front.

All of these cleanses and detoxifying powders and pills and potions and are simply a way for unregulated supplement companies and the ‘health influencer’ Instagram stars who promote them to make money off vulnerable people who are innocently looking to improve their health. Which is pretty shitty and irresponsible of them, if you ask me.

Same with ‘giving your digestive system a break.’ Hey guess what, you still digest things like juice. And your digestive system is designed to digest food on the regular. Like I said in #9, your body is FREAKIN’ AMAZING.

Would you put your pet on a cleanse? No, you probably wouldn’t. Because you’d think to yourself “No, that’s not normal. My dog is supposed to eat every day and would be grumpy if they didn’t.” Well then. Same goes to YOU!

So skip that cleanse, and buy some delicious groceries and EAT. Because eating is satisfying, delicious and fun.

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I challenge you to recognize when these phrases come up in conversation, on TV, on a magazine cover, on an Instagram ‘health influencer,’ star’s stories, or on the wall at a fitness boutique and ignore them. You have the power to do so and it is oh so very freeing.

This takes time and practice to do so be patient and forgiving with yourself. But your brain and body will thank you!

Recap: The Seed Experience NYC – Cooking Demo with Guy Vaknin of Beyond Sushi

This weekend I was fortunate enough to win tickets to The Seed Experience courtesy of Beyond Sushi. They had a giveaway and I entered and somehow won! Whoohoo. So on Saturday and Sunday I trekked myself down to Soho and ate a lot of samples and talked to a lot of cool inspiring people and ate a lot more samples and had me a good time.

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The Seed Experience was a collection of plant-based speakers, demonstrations, films, samples, more samples, and what I was most interested in: COOKING DEMOS.

vegan goat cheese for days!

vegan goat cheese for days!

And yes! There was a cooking demo by the owner/executive chef of  my ALL time favorite restaurant Beyond Sushi. You better believe I went in squealing.

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So on Saturday afternoon after I drowned myself in new products like aloe water, maple water, tons and tons of vegan cheese and ice cream (which were all very delicious!) I watched Guy Vaknin (owner/executive chef of Beyond Sushi) make some rolls, speak about how he got where he was, and wow the crowd with incredible avocado filleting skills (seriously, you should have seen it).

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I’m planning to soon post a recipe with a how-to for making black rice sushi but I thought I’d dedicate a little time/space to speaking about Guy:

Turns out Guy started as a chef and did a lot of catering for kosher crowds. Kosher people have lots of dietary guidelines that do not allow them to eat certain things at certain times. I’m not going to pretend I understand the rules well, but Guy mentioned there was rule about not preparing and consuming fish and meat together. But Guy wanted to make a sushi roll appetizer for the crowds. So he started making vegetarian rolls. Though he’s a trained chef, he was not a sushi chef, nor even a vegetarian when he started this concept. He sort of learned it form another caterer, and when he was off duty had no other option other than to master the art.

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Guy, a culinary creative genius, used black rice in his sushi instead of white rice. He said he “saw the reaction,” and knew there was something special about this concept. He started bringing his black rice/vegetarian sushi to vegetarian food festivals, and got lots of positive crowd reactions, inquires, and press, he was inspired to go back to the kitchen and keep working. After a second year vegetarian food festivals, he decided to take a big risk, poured everything he had into one business concept, and started Beyond Sushi. He built the original location on 14th street (between 2nd & 3rd – see my original rave review here) and started by serving vegetarian sushi.

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For a few weeks, customers came in and Guy noticed that some were confused by the different vegetarian vs. vegan options, as some of his original menu items contained eggs and dairy in their rolls and/or sauces. Guy made a lot of personal reflections and seriously considered desires of customers, and decided to turn the restaurant completely vegan, and made the switch to a vegan lifestyle himself. He says he can now “not even picture” life any other way.

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The tiny sushi shop quickly exploded in popularity and has received endless rave reviews and press features for its creative and delicious approach to vegan dining and sushi. Guy still works there 7 days a week, usually in the downstairs kitchen area.

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He puts a phenomenal amount of thought and effort into every roll and every piece of sushi that beyond sushi produces. I was shocked at the time and effort the prep work behind each item on their menu. All the regular rolls have such depth and preparation – including marinating and fermenting of vegetables (often overnight) to get the flavors exactly where he wants them. The rolls of the month are all produced using local, seasonal produce from the Union Square Green Market, which although are more expensive, truly reflect the flavors of the season and the responsible sustainable drive behind the Beyond Sushi concept. It was humbling to see such a successful man so deeply passionate about his craft. He also addressed the possibility of expansion – turns out he has been approached for franchise opportunities, but wants to stay small so the quality of each roll can be carefully controlled. People are hard at work, Guy insists, every morning at 5am, julienning and prepping vegetables and sauces to stuff the rolls with flavor. This care and attention to detail are part of the reason Guy won’t go big (yet). “You can’t mass-produce this,” he said, looking down at his just-crafted roll.

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And as a huge fan having had almost every roll and wrap on the menu, I must agree with him. There is nothing like it. That’s why it’s my favorite restaurant and why I can’t even go to another sushi place since trying Beyond Sushi.

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So thank you, Guy, for the inspiration. And thank you Beyond Sushi for the tickets to The Seed, the inspiration, and for continuously delighting my taste buds. I will forever be a loyal fan and customer – wishing you all the success in the world !