Back in the day, I got my master’s degree in human nutrition from Columbia University. It was an intense, interesting, and rewarding experience: one that left me hungry (no pun intended) to learn more about the field. A pivotal experience, my MS in human nutrition instilled an insatiable scientific curiosity in me, and is probably why I’m on the path I am on today.
I chose to study nutrition because I was always fascinated in how the foods we use to fuel our body have the power to impact our health. For many, many, years, however, I wanted to be a doctor. However, when I was shadowing physicians, I realized many lacked nutrition education and training.
Which totally is not their fault – most medical schools have minimal time/curriculum devoted to nutrition. But when I learned about this reality, I wanted to ensure I’d have a solid foundation of nutrition (outside the nutrition minor I got while at NYU) in addition to a medical degree. And so, I enrolled at Columbia prior to going to med school.
Obviously, I’ve gone a none-medical route since, but since I’ve studied the topic, I occasionally get asked questions about nutrition, specific ingredients, my diet, and how I think others should eat.
So I thought it may be interested to list out how I’ve changed my diet since studying nutrition. Below are 12 ways studying nutrition morphed how I eat and how I think about food and health in general.
Time for another roundup! Here are some snacks and meals from my past week. I hope it inspires you to eat something oh so delicious and satisfying, too.
Salad + Fries from Hamilton Inn
Last Friday night I went out to diner with my mom at Hamilton Inn, which is a pretty hyped place in Jersey City. I had always been curious to see if it lived up to the hype…but apparently not curious enough to go until now.
Welp, on Friday it was nice out, and so we decided to take advantage of their outdoor seating and give it a whirl. I got a Roasted Sweet Potato salad with mixed greens, apples, dried cranberries, cherry tomatoes, and some other stuff with maple vinaigrette, and I added avocado to make it more filling. The combo of veggies and cranberries and dressing and apples was really refreshing. I also loved the dressing. I’m gonna recreate this dish at home, but maybe with nuts.
I also snagged a bite of a vegan realistic-meat-substitute burger my mom got and shared her fries. The burger was good but not my kinda thing (I prefer veggie burgers that taste and feel like beans or veggies, not meat), but the fries were really good. Crispy but not greasy (I hate when fries are overly greasy and soggy).
Overall, a good meal, although a little overpriced IMHO. Regardless, still a great meal, and Millie had a good time, too.
Are you even surprised? Haha! My favorite ever. On Tuesday I had tickets to the late show with Steven Colbert. After some ticket mix ups and confusion I ended up taking my mom. I think she enjoyed it? TV show tapings are kinda like a lot of waiting around for 5-6 hours total to watch 30-50 minutes of actual show taping.
Still, I find it interesting to see what goes into television production.
I recently wrote up a little story for a friend’s upcoming project about how a lot of alcohol isn’t vegan (yup). If you want to know more about that, then stay tuned! I’ll link to it once it’s live.
In the meantime, though, I got to thinking about my relationship with alcohol and thought I might explain why I don’t drink. I actually get asked about this a lot, so I thought I’d explain why I hit the hot cocoa over the vino after a long day.
I just wanted to make a disclaimer that I don’t judge others for drinking, nor do I mind if others drink around me. Booch is as hard as I go for a rage, but if you want a nice glass of wine or a drink when you’re out, I support you doing whatever makes you happy!
I simply thought I’d share why I don’t drink, since sometimes not drinking when you’re in your 20s can feel sort of isolating, since drinking is the norm these days, in hopes that others who don’t drink (or don’t drink often) realize they’re not alone. And also to sort of explain to those who may not understand my choice why I make it.
There are several reasons why I don’t drink, so I’m just going to list them here for your enjoyment.
1. I honestly do not enjoy being intoxicated, nor think being drunk is fun.
Winery tour in France, summer 2012. Please notice how awkward I look holding wine lol.
Being intoxicated just isn’t a good time to me. I know that’s hard for a lot of people to understand, since so many find it relaxing and enjoyable. But personally, it makes my anxiety go wild.
And while generally speaking I consider myself an open book, there are a lot of things you may not know about me, and a lot I don’t share with anyone, a few close friends and fam aside.
While there are certainly some things I will forever keep closed off from social, I decided to make some confessions about myself, my Internet persona, and my life in general. Not only to help you get to know me better, but also so if you’re struggling with some of the stuff I struggle with and think you’re the only one, perhaps you can find comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
Sso here we go: 10 confessions from me to you:
1. On a daily basis, I eat boring and unbeautiful food.
As a food/health blogger and writer, I post pictures of my dinner plates on Insta or glamorshots of cookies for recipe posts. But IRL on the daily, I typically subside off of fruit, nut butter, bread, veggies, hummus and potatoes. Oh, and a crap load of chocolate.
I could eat a peanut butter sammy on wheat bread with fruit for lunch every day of the week and not get sick of it. I don’t eat this every day, but it happens a lot during the school year and I don’t mind my boring foods at all.
Not every dinner I eat is nicely plated and aesthetically pleasing. More typically I’m grazing on veggies and hummus and probably a granola bar while waiting for my sweet potatoes to finish microwaving so I can eat them with my fingers and oodles of salt because I live alone and have no need for proper manners.
Then maybe I’ll round out my meal with some microwaved Ikea veggie balls or plain cubed tofu dipped in hot sauce and/or ketchup (again with my finger), and follow that with a bowl of cereal with almond milk and vegan ice cream straight from the carton. All eaten standing at my countertop while wearing my sittin’ pants & probably watching something on Bravo. Instagram is a highlights reel for everyone (myself included) and don’t chu forget that!
So, I decided to make my very own Vegan Lofthouse Style Cookies – fluffy chewy sugar cookies on the bottom, and scrumptious frosting on the top – all free from dairy, eggs, and artificial colors/flavors/and dyes.
This was on my baking list for a long time. Does that happen to anyone else? You think about making something for months or even years, and it just itches at you until ya do it? It’s something that happens to me, and it makes it oh-so-satisfying to bake things off the bucket list.
Over spring break, I finally did the damn thing and made these cookies. It was a perfect relaxing project while recovering from my concussion.
To color the frosting, I used raspberry juice that I made from mashing a few thawing frozen berries in a bowl. Feel free to do this with any vegetable/fruit you’d like that will give you a color you desire (beets, cherries, and blueberries could all be fun). You could also puree a few pieces of freeze-dried fruit and mix in the coloring produce as a powder instead. Or, you can always use a food coloring or food dye. You do you!
Hey hey! How’s it going? I’m just popping in to share some random meals and snacks I’ve been into lately. I love reading these posts because they inspire meal and snack ideas in my own life, so I hope to inspire some of you. Let me know if you like these kinds of posts! They’re fun to write so I’m happy to share more like them.
This past week was particularly emotional and stressful and chaotic in school, work, career stuff, and with some family stuff too, and I ended up getting a killer migraine on Friday, which I took as a signal that I need to take a step back and relax for like, a hot second. All that to say I wasn’t as motivated to post serious intensive content this weekend and wanted to write something bubbly and fun. Now on to the food:
Avocado Toast from Mathew’s Food & Drink
Last weekend my friend Raag came to visit me in JC and we got brunch at Mathew’s. I got the avocado toast and it was one of the better avocado toasts I’ve had. Ever since Vital Root changed (ruined) their avo toast, I’ve been looking for a new avo toast bae and I think I found it.
It came with whipped avocado, fresh peas, radish, pickled shallots, and poppyseeds on toasted sourdough. The fresh peas added a nice pop of sweetness that contrasted nicely with the tangy pickled shallots. And I’m a sucker for poppyseeds so I was so into this. Paired with a side salad and some shared tater tots.
Ripple Foods Yogurt Bowls
I bought some Ripple Greek style yogurt recently and was excited to try it. Verdict: decent, but doesn’t taste like Greek yogurt. The thickness is there, but I want that TANG baby. Also, it was a wee bit gritty.
With bananas, homemade banana bread granola, berries and goobs of peanut butter on top, however, it was a satisfying snack for sure. Still think I prefer Kitehill Plain Greek style yogurt, but the search for a perfect vegan Greek yogurt continues…
Hello all! If you’ve been following me over the last few months you may already know that I relocated to New Jersey just outside the city and now commute into the city for school. I thought I’d chat a bit about Jersey, how and why I came to this decision, and how I am liking it so far.
If you want more of a backstory as to how and why I ended up here, you can read this post. But long story short, I was wronged by the city too many times and ended up staying here out of the generosity of a family friend and ended up liking it so much I decided to stay put.
Overall, I am really liking it. Yes, my commute is long (slightly over an hour), but I think the distance between me and the city has been good for my mental health, stress level, and our relationship (ie relationship between me + NYC).
Below you’ll find my honest take on JC thus far. Happy reading!
Carbs, carbs carbs. We all know I love carbs. And potatoes (sweet potatoes in particular) have always been one of my favorite foods.
Last fall when I lived in Minnesota I was exposed to several varieties of sweet potatoes I’d never had before. I’m sure I walked by them in grocery stores in the past and overlooked them in search of regular, but now that I’ve discovered the likes of purple and Japanese sweet potatoes, I truly enjoy mixing up my potato game.
Then, a few months ago, the plantain obsession started, and now these babies have become a routine part of my starchy vegetable parties.
And the best part about these parties is that I can mix and match my starchy carbs to my liking.
A lot of people ask me how I eat potatoes and plantains since I eat them so frequently. This (along with plain baked with salt and almond butter) is one of my favorite ways.
Simple, spicy roasted sweet potatoes and plantains make a the perfect side dish to your meal (try alongside a tofu scramble!), or topped with avocado, beans, and/or pico, can easily become a meal.
All you need is a couple potatoes, a plantain and some spices, and you’ve got a yummy nutrient-packed starchy vegetable treat on its way.
I hope you try this dish, and if you do let me know! Comment below or tag me on Instagram.
Spicy Sweet Potatoes & Plantains
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 1-3, depending on if you eat as an entree or side dish
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 large purple sweet potato (can sub Japanese sweet potato, regular potato, or additional regular sweet potato)
- 1 large very ripe (brown) plantain
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- heafty sprinkle of salt
- avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cube sweet potatoes into equal sized cubes or coins. Place in a bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds – 2 minutes to soften slightly, as potatoes will cook more quickly than plantains otherwise. Slice plantain into 1/4 inch thick coins and add to bowl
- Drizzle oil on potato cubes and plantains. Add cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and toss until evenly coated.
- Spread potatoes/plantains onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender and browned. Remove from oven and serve with avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro.
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!
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 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!
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:
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.
She got the chicken that would have come on my salad.
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!
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.
At the park, Millie made friends with a bee! Curious nugget.
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.
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.
After that I stopped by a friend’s in Bayview since I was nearby, did an errand, and headed home for sleeps.
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).
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.
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!