Some Random Thoughts

Some Random Thoughts

I had a bit of a weird long weekend dealing with the highs and lows of the mega-strong antibiotics I’m on and decided to not pressure myself to engage in any immediately demanding work or social media on Sunday and Monday. I just needed a break.

But today is the first day of school and I’m chillin on the A train and feel like penning some random thoughts as a blog post. I personally love reading these kinds of posts, so I’m gonna try some out here. Let me know whatcha think!

1. Gratitude

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I had a pretty meh summer. Emotionally, mentally, and physically (shout-out to the mud wasp who stung me and gave me cellulitis lol), it just wasn’t what I’d imagined (for the most part, there were definitely some highlights – like my trip to Alaska – though!)

But lately I’ve somehow shifted a lot of precious anger, resentment, and sadness. I think part of it has been just realizing how fortunate I am in many aspects of my life. Yes, there are struggles, heartbreaks, and disappointments. And sometimes you work your butt off for what seems like nothing. And sometimes people are just straight up mean or rude or try to get under your skin.

But I have a lot to be thankful for. Where I go to school, the amazing opportunities I’ve had lately, my precious pea of a dog, and incredible friends.

I don’t know how or why this attitude shift happened, but I am here for it (lol). Less attitude –> more gratitude. 😎

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Cauliflower Steak with Herb & Hummus Sauce and Hazelnuts

Cauliflower Steak with Herb &  Hummus Sauce and Hazelnuts

I love cauliflower; it’s one of my favorite vegetables. I’d even go so far as putting in my top three most loved vegetables, alongside sweet potatoes and romaine. And lucky for my tastebuds, cauliflower is finally having the moment I’ve always believed it deserves, and I’ve been trying it in every shape and form I can get my hands on. However, I realized last week I’d not yet made a Cauliflower ‘steak’ before, and then when whole heads of cauliflower went on sale when I was at the stores a few hours later, I decided to give it a try, and the Cauliflower steak with Herb & hummus sauce was born.

Vegan Cauliflower Steak with Herb & Hummus Sauce and Hazelnuts

The result was an interesting and different veggie-packed dish that I will make again and again. Now, obviously, a cauliflower steak is nothing like a beef steak and I am by no means trying to fool anyone there.

Easy vegan Cauliflower Steak with Herb & Hummus Sauce and Hazelnuts

Rather, I think this is a fun way to eat veggie and should be enjoyed in its own entity (I feel the same way about rice vs cauliflower rice – just different foods completely, so I don’t compare or replace them with one another, but enjoy them for what they are). I went with a rather simple preparation for the cauliflower. Just a bit of high-heat oil, salt, and pepper.

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5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

1. Collagen-mushroom-potion-infused-bulletproof-caffeinated beverages

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Seems like it’s mega on-trend to whip up $12 lattes filled with grass-fed collagen, 8 different mushroom powders, and 17 other expensive supplement potion/powders these days.

It’s not that I have anything against those drinks; in fact I can appreciate the creativity behind them and recognize that they may be filling if they’re brimming with fats and protein powders. I simply don’t really buy into the grandiose health-promoting claims of these concoctions.

First, let’s talk about collagen. I’ve been digging through clinics research about it and am planning a whole post devoted just to collagen. But to keep it short and sweet in this post, let’s just say that from what I’ve read so far, I’ve concluded that if you’re into collagen and your diet lacks protein, it can be a source of protein for you.

But I’m not yet convinced that after orally digesting collagen and your stomach acid has broken it down, that it can actually maintain its structural integrity as collagen and end up in your skin and hair and nails as such.

There is some mixed clinical research on collagen and joint health, and a couple of studies on collagen and beauty (some of which have been funded by collagen supplement companies), but at this point in my PubMed dive, I feel the research is a bit shaky.

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Recent Vegan Eats

Recent Vegan Eats

Hey friends! I skipped a recent eats post last week because I was traveling and transitioning jobs! More on that later. Here are some yummy recent eats from the past 2 weeks.

I was pretty lousy at remembering to photograph my food minus when I was in Cali, but that’s just the way it is sometimes! When I’m randomly subsiding off packets of nut butter and bagels and apples while spending days in airports and/or getting home at 1am before eating dinner, my phone is the last thing I’m thinking about when nourishing myself. And actually, I don’t think it would be healthy to remember to photograph everything I eat. Anyways, I’ll be better this week, I promise. 🙂 For now, enjoy some rather random snack and meal inspo, and of course, Millie pics!

Kashi Autumn Wheat with almond milk.

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I adore shredded wheat cereals. They remind me of straight-up-childhood. Sometimes I forget about them when I’m on Cheerio or Chex kicks. But I’ve been craving sweet shreds lately and I’m a stroke of serendipity, these were on sale at the store last week, so I picked them up.

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How Climate Change is Impacting The Nutritional Value of Your Food: Part 1, Carbon Dioxide

How Climate Change is Impacting The Nutritional Value of Your Food: Part 1, Carbon Dioxide

I still remember sitting in my Public Health Impacts of Climate Change course at Columbia Mailman School of Health (my elective choice while a Columbia nutrition MS student) learning about how climate change is impacting the nutritional value of food.

To sum it up, I was “shook,” as the cool kids say. It was actually one of the lectures in one of the classes that set my on my current path, and I gotta say, no regrets.

One of the most amazing and wonderful things about studying what I study (which is the intersection of nutrition and environmental health) is that I am honestly so interested in what I am learning about that I eagerly listen and complete my reading and assignments. Especially about things like climate change and how it is disrupting the quality, quantity, and nutritional value of our foods.

I thought this could make for an interesting and enlightening blog post that will perhaps leave you feeling “woke” on the topic, eliciting similar feelings to those I felt in my chair of Mailman room 1101 (shout out to my EHS crew). If this isn’t your thing or your find this super boring, don’t worry, I’m sure more dog and dessert pictures will be coming your way soon.

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Hunger vs Appetite, and Fullness vs Satisfaction

Hunger vs Appetite, and Fullness vs Satisfaction

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Gosh darn it, when did eating get so complicated?” Because it really shouldn’t be. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s if you’re feeling any confusion, it’s certainly not your fault.

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We live in a food and weight loss-obsessed culture. Without even trying, we’re exposed to numerous food and fitness ads, ideas, and theories on a daily basis. They’re everywhere: the internet, social media feeds, TV commercials, even tabloids in the aisle at the grocery store.

All of these tidbits of information can be overwhelming. And oftentimes, to confuse things further, we hear opposing “facts” about the same topics. This encourages us to disengage with our natural eating instincts, and ignore our internal cues regarding hunger and fullness.

Today, I wanted to address a few words/concepts that may help you get back in touch with how to eat like an actual instinctual human rather than a confused oversaturated-with-misinformation human. Let’s go.

Hunger vs Appetite:

Vegan Cookie Levain Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

These words are often used interchangeably, but actually have different meanings in the nutrition science world. Physical hunger is defined by the physiological need for food. This may manifest itself as a rumbly tummy, empty-feeling stomach, low energy, and/or inability to concentrate. I know for me personally, I feel light-headed when I need to eat. But everyone is different.

Physical hunger is a result of blood glucose dropping in your body. When this happens, and your stomach is empty, a hormone called ghrenlin is released by your GI tract, sending a signal to your brain to increase gastric (stomach) acid and let your brain know “Hey! You up there! I need food!”

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Ghrenlin stops being released when food enters the stomach, letting your brain know that the need for food has been taken care of.

Appetite, on the other hand, is a desire to eat, less from a physical need, and more as a result of physical or environmental cues, such as the smell of freshly baking cookies, routines, and/or the desire to eat the doughnuts in front of you at a meeting even though you may be physically full.

If you eat in a very rigid, routine-style fashion, you may develop appetite to eat out of habit, kind of like a dog (#relatable).

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Easy Pesto Hummus Pasta

Easy Pesto Hummus Pasta

Meet your new favorite quick and super satisfying meal: easy Pesto Hummus Pasta! And guess what? If you’re a hummus lover, it’s probable you have everything you need to make it right now!

Vegan and Gluten Free Hummus Pesto Pasta

This recipe has a multitude of admirable qualities: 1) It comes together very quickly. 2) It’s one of the easiest “home cooked” meals you can make. 3) It’s super customizable based on what’s already in your kitchen. 4) It’s delicious and satisfying!

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What are Macros? And Should You Count Them?

What are Macros? And Should You Count Them?

Macros! Such a trendy health buzzword these days. But what are macros? And should you count them? In today’s post I want to address everything you need to know about macros, and my thoughts on counting them from a physical and mental health prospective.

Macros, Explained:

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“Macro” is short for “macronutrient.” Macronutrient is defined as a component of the diet that provides energy, and includes protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The USDA also considers alcohol a macronutrient, which I agree with because alcohol provides calories, but also don’t really think of when I hear “macros” because I mainly think of the other 3 essential groups (fat, carbs, and protein).

Basically, macronutrients are sources of calories, which your body uses for fuel. This is different from micronutrients (also known as vitamins and minerals) which are also essential for maintaining healthy body function, but don’t provide energy (calories) to your diet.

Macronutrients provide your body with the following amounts of energy:

  • Protein: 4 calories/gram

  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram

  • Fat: 9 calories/gram

  • Alcohol: 7 calories/gram

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Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

Everything You Need to Know about Cancer and French Fries

By now, you’ve probably come across an article on your social feed about how French fries or fried potatoes in general are causing cancer. If not, congrats. The blissfully ignorant state of not knowing about the potential harm of over consuming fried potatoes means your life is probably less anxiety-ridden than my own (oh, and sorry for bursting that bubble of cozy comfort with this post. Feel free to stop reading right now if you’d like).

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Anyways, I’ve gotten a lot of Qs about this topic, so I thought I’d address it here. As a potato-finatic and food tox and food safety enthusiast, this issue hits close to home and is one I wanted to examine for myself. This topic actually came up in food tox before I saw it trending all over social media, so I was happy to have a solid grip on the science before all the media hype surrounding it.

So, let’s dive into the nitty starchy gritty: potatoes, French fries, and acrylamide: what you need to know about the risks, and how to minimize your own.

Ps: I had been pausing blogging, not by choice, but out of circumstance, as when I tried to transfer hosting sites, my site was kind of MIA from the internet for over a week…talk about anxiety-inducing. Oy.

Anyways, now that I’ve got my site back, I’m going to work with a different company on transferring the site (because I’ve got bigger and better things planned) and in the meantime keep chugging along here.

So what’s the risk? Are my potatoes and grains giving me cancer?

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Acrylamide does not appear to be of concern in raw foods themselves; it seems to be formed when certain starchy foods are cooked at high temps.

So the risk does not lie necessarily in the potatoes or grains per se, so don’t think you have to instantly ban potatoes from your household. The risk is actually from the acrylamide that develops upon high heat cooking of the potatoes (usually above 250°F).

What is acrylamide?

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Acrylamide is a chemical compound found in a lot of industrial production. It’s also found in cigarette smoke. It’s also in many foods, including canned black olives, potato chips, French fries, dark browned toast, coffee, prune juice, and some breakfast cereals.

Acrylamide can also form in some foods as a result of the amino acid asparagine being heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars. This is what happens when potatoes are fried in hot oil. Potatoes happen to have high levels of asparagine, hence the recent concern about french fries, acrylamide and cancer.

Baking and roasting can also lead to acrylamide formation. Generally speaking, the longer and hotter the cooking method, the more acrylamide is likely to form. Boiling and steaming do not typically lead to acrylamide formation.

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Random Eats + Random Thoughts

Random Eats + Random Thoughts

Hey friends. Happy Thursday.  Thought I would pop in and share some random thoughts and eats lately. I love reading these posts and like writing them too. I hope that by sharing some random snacks and meals I may inspire some yumminess sin your life, should you be looking for new food ideas! At the end, I share a few random thoughts.

Here we go.

Random Eats:

Chex + Almond Milk + a sprinkle of sugar

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I love cereal. I go through phases where I’ll eat it daily. These phases tend to be in the summer, with cream-of-wheat and oatmeal phases being more prevalent in the winter/fall months.

Right now I’m on another daily cereal kick. Never in the morning, but always at night as a bedtime snack. With lots of almond milk + a sprinkle of each cinnamon and sugar. So good. Cool, creamy, and crunchy and refreshing. Mmmm.

Also, shout out to toxicology for ruining all rice-based foods for me. I now consume each bowl of Chex cereal cognizant of its arsenic intake and enjoy the crunchy squares with a side dose of paranoia.

Tony’s Chocolate

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So good!! Where has this been all my life?! I also love that the brand supports fair labor practices, as many chocolate companies support slave trade labor.

You can get it on Amazon if you can’t find it nearby!

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