Author Archives for almamatermaker

#GirlsGoneMildAZ

Spring Break 2017 is officially underway! Oh how we (Alex + Abi + I) have been literally counting down the days until we could finally have some fun in the sun. Alex and I were definitely ready for the warmth as we rocked wearing our wedges all through the airport in Sioux Falls and on our flight to the Mesa airport in Arizona.

We were greeted from our flight by Abi’s Uncle Dan and Aunt Joy and ready for Spring Break at the Meyer’s. Walking outside of the airport definitely refreshed my soul from the long cold days back home in SD. Our smiles got even bigger as we cruised the town of Chandler on Ray Road to get back to the Meyer’s gorgeous household. We discussed our plans for the next day and decided that Sedona was calling our name.

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Our drive to Sedona lasted a total of 2 hours but flew by as we talked about the sights and history of Arizona. Dan even taught us his version of the 5 C’s of Arizona: copper, cacti, citrus, cotton, and climate. Before I knew it, we were pulling over and embracing what it truly means to be a tourist…taking photos beyond galore of the beautiful landscape. Off we went and made our way around the multiple roundabouts in Sedona. The art as we traveled through the city was indescribable. So much appreciation goes into making such rustic artwork that captures the vibe of the Southwest. We ended up stopping on Main Street and shopping our way up and down the road. Of course, we could not leave without grabbing a bite to eat at 89 Agave Cantina. I absolutely loved the vibe of the restaurant and enjoyed every bite of the homemade chips and salsa and my Mexican veggie salad with a creamy avocado sauce. Avocados = happiness!!! Our drive back to Chandler flew by and suddenly the day had passed by and we all found ourselves finally dipping our toes into the hot tub.

Day 2 started out with Abi and I taking a walk through a neighborhood park close to the Meyer’s house. The agenda for the day consisted of getting our nails done, grocery shopping at Whole Foods (!!!), and some much needed shopping…a total girls’ day! I must say, Abi’s Aunt Joy knows how to speak my language when it comes to foodie fun. We absolutely loved walking up and down every aisle of Whole Foods…you have to remember…there is no Whole Foods in South Dakota. We ended up with a beautiful grocery haul and ready to cook supper for the rest of the week. Plus, I was finally able to buy Califia Farm’s nitro cold brew coffee…mocha flavored of course! Not only would I say I scored at Whole Foods, but I also bought a “little black dress” at Francesca’s for $25 thanks to Alex and Abi! Now I’m just waiting on the perfect event to wear my new high-low dress! Supper for Monday night consisted of veggie and shrimp spring rolls and a yummy, big bowl of Parmesan pasta for Alex. Again, words cannot describe how fun it was to cook for such an open “audience.” Day 2 ended as we learned how to play the game Codenames. I by far am planning on buying this game for family game night back home in Minnesota.

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The real question is: Why don’t I live closer to a Whole Foods?!

Day 3 and we were ready to take on the world! We got in the car, and Alex punched “Hieroglyphic’s Trail” into her GPS. Off we went as we traveled a little over 30 miles to go on a six mile round trip hike up and back from a stream nestled in the rocks just east of the city. The view was breathtaking, and we managed to not enough ruin our pedicures as we hiked the trail in our Chacos. Trust me, those sandals are a girl’s best friend. Plus, who doesn’t love a good old Chaco tan line? Haha! We made it back to the Meyer’s house in time to spend our first afternoon lounging out in the Arizona sun by the pool. I almost forgot how amazing it feels to nap in the warmth of the sun. The weather was not too hot or too cold. A good thirty minutes was all I needed to start the beginning of my two week adventure (Jamaica here I come!) to get a nice tan before returning home to the cold for a few more months in SD. By the time 5:30 rolled around, I was in the kitchen and for the first time ever prepping Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix. Homemade veggie pizza, chicken pizza, and takeout four meat pizza was on the menu for Tuesday night. Alex and Dan enjoyed the takeout while Joy, Abi, and I debated over whether or not the crust suited our pizza cravings since it ended up turning out to be more like focaccia bread versus a thin crust. All in all though, we all cleared our plates and decided to play Boulderdash for game night.

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Wednesday was another extremely fun and busy day. Abi and I decided to do a barre and booty workout in the morning before heading out on our adventures that ended up looping us around from Chandler to Tempe, Tempe to Scottsdale, and Scottsdale to Phoenix. Our first stop was to visit the ASU campus in Tempe. This campus by far does not even compare to back home at SDSU. The multiple shops and restaurants lining the roads of the campus gave off an exhilarating vibe as we entered one of the multiple bookstores located in Tempe. We all bought matching ASU crop top tees and also took a fun selfie in front of the pitchfork symbol located on the backside of the screen at their football stadium. After checking out campus, we were in search of the LOVE sign in Scottsdale. Attention! Anyone who is interested in getting a picture in front of the LOVE sign like we did, please save yourself some confusion and park in the library parking lot. Haha! We ended up testing our navigation skills and wandering downtown Scottsdale for a few extra minutes as we located the sign. Following checking off seeing the LOVE sign on our to-do list, we went to meet Dan at his office. We made a quick stop as he grabbed a bite to eat for lunch, and then we were back on the road to get some vegan eats! Stopping at Nami could not have come at a better time. The “ice cream” most definitely satisfied all of our sweet tooths. I mean, my cookie dough tsoynami was to die for!!! YUM! Abi and I also picked out a sweet treat (gf carrot cake cupcake and an oatmeal cream pie) to take back to the house for another day. The craziest of all our stops for the day though did not occur until midafternoon. We ended our road trip around the city at a makeshift ostrich farm. (There were also camels and zebras at the farm.) Never would I have expected to get up close and personal with some ostriches on our #GirlsGoneMildAZ Spring Break Trip. Haha! We made it back to the Meyer’s house with enough time to enjoy soaking up a few more hours of sun before heading to Joe’s Farm Grill where I enjoyed a big ole’ side of sweet potato fries paired with a perfectly balanced sweet and spicy pineapple “salsa” dip for my fries. What a day filled with great people, places, animals, and eats!

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Our final two days of break were total girls’ days out! We did more shopping in San Tan Village. We could not pass up being oh so close to a mall and only stopping by once. We enjoyed more fun in the sun by tanning a majority of Thursday afternoon. Supper involved a full blown Mexican meal. Alex requested that I whip up some guacamole, and I also introduced Joy to nutritional yeast! Our menu consisted of ground beef tacos for Dan, Alex, and Joy; a taco salad for me; and sweet potato tacos for Abi. Oh how welcoming the food preferences of others can be oh so enjoyable when everyone is willing to go on a little foodie adventure! Fast forward to our final meal together where we once again happily accommodated everyone’s cravings by eating at Pita Jungle. We sat on the restaurant’s back patio and munched on homemade pita bread and roasted red pepper hummus. Too good to be true! I also ate some of the best falafel I have ever had so two thumbs up for Pita Jungle and its mission to bring fresh and healthy eats to the people of the Valley! That was our last stop before we headed to the airport in Mesa and flew back home to 13° weather. Now, less than 24 hours before I head back to the airport in Sioux Falls and fly off to Jamaica!!! More blogging to come!

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Food for Thought Friday

Would you look at the time!?!…more like…would you look at the calendar! Where have the weeks gone? Three weeks have passed since traveling to Seattle, and I just thought I might share a little “Food for Thought” by putting together all of the information that entailed the poster Anna (another Dietetics student at SDSU) and I presented while at the National Collegiate Honors Council National Conference.

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Honors Family Picture at NCHC!

To start off, our research comprised of a handful of simple questions aimed at answering some basic questions regarding the concept of nutrition as implemented and perceived in China. We were interested in gaining a general understanding of what the “average” Chinese citizen knows about the resources available in his/her country focusing on improving and maintaining proper nutrition. Here is the list of the exact questions we used while touring the country:

  1. Do you think nutrition is a priority in your country?
  1. Are there dietary guidelines in China?
  1. Is there media associated with proper nutrition? Any information available?
  1. On a scale of 1-10, how informed do you feel about proper nutrition?
  1. If you had questions about your diet, would you contact anyone? Who? How do you get informed?
  1. Are you more concerned about obesity or undernourishment?
  1. Do students get fed at school or do they bring their own lunch? What do they eat?
  1. If you didn’t have enough food to get through the week, is there anywhere you could get a meal or supplies? Who runs these? Does this vary around the country?
  1. If there was an elderly person who couldn’t access food for him/herself, how would they get it? Who takes care of elderly in China?
  1. Does the government emphasize any food/drink/ingredient?
  1. What is consumed at Universities?
  1. Is there relief specifically to hungry children?

Of course in order for our comparison to occur, we also needed to have a basic understanding of the nutritional services offered at home in the United States. We spent a couple of nights before our trip doing some “heavy” research to refresh ourselves with various supplemental nutrition programs, food distribution programs, and child nutrition programs. Here is a list of what we found and highlighted about the various programs!

USDA: Food & Nutrition Service

  1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Largest program in domestic hunger safety
  • Works with State (benefits issued through), nutrition educators, faith-based organizations
  • Requirements:
    • $2,250 in countable resources
    • Must work
    • Net income depending on household size
  • Benefits: 30% of income (spend on food)
  • Doesn’t discriminate and available to legal immigrants
  1. Food Distribution Programs
  • Focuses on schools & families
  • 100% American grown
    • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
      • States provide food to local food banks
      • Eligibility:
        • Public or private nonprofit organizations
        • Households meeting requirements
      • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
        • Improve health of low income elderly (at least 60), pregnant and breastfeeding, infants, and children (up to 6)
        • Distributes food and funds
        • Not complete diet, provides common lacking nutrients
        • State, local, and Indian agencies
      • Schools/Child Nutrition USDA Food Programs
        • Purchases domestic products for use
        • Programs:
          • National School Lunch Program (“entitlement foods”)
          • Child & Adult Care Food Program
          • Summer Food Service Program
          • School Breakfast Program
  1. Child Nutrition Programs
  • Fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing facilities for serving healthy meals
  • Programs:
    • Child & Adult Care Food Program
    • Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program
    • National School Lunch Program
    • School Breakfast Program
    • Special Milk Program
    • Summer Food Service Program
  1. Women, Infant, & Children (WIC)
  • Provide supplemental foods, info on healthy eating, and referrals to healthcare
  • Programs:
    • Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
    • Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

American Non-Profit Organizations

  • Feeding America
    • Nation’s largest domestic hunger relief
    • Includes: Mobile food pantry, school pantry, senior groceries, community health/nutrition, disaster response, SNAP outreach
    • Gives: 3.6 million dollars annually, 200 food banks, 60,000 pantries, 45 million people, safe place for a meal
    • To: Nearly every US community, children, seniors, disaster victims, struggling adults
  • Meals on Wheels
    • Extends senior’s independence and health as they age
    • Community volunteers take meals to the homes of seniors in need
    • Gives: Meal delivery to seniors, safety check, friendship, nutritious meals for improved health
    • To: nearly every community in the US, 2.4 million seniors annually
  • Share Our Strength (No Kid Hungry)
    • Partners with local and state organizations to bring healthy meals to hungry children
    • Includes: State and Local partnerships, cooking matters
    • Gives: Support through knowledge and funds to local and state anti-hunger organizations, emphasis on summer meals, classes about proper cooking, budgeting and decision making
    • To: Organizations->Children all over the US, classes for caregivers
  • Salvation Army
    • . Faith-based organization serving anyone, vary by community needs and resources
    • Includes: adult rehab, veteran affairs services, prison ministries, elderly services, combating human trafficking, missing persons, hunger relief, housing and homeless services, Christmas assistance, youth camps, and emergency disaster relief
    • Gives: 60,000 meals annually, shelter
    • To: anyone in need, homeless people of all ages, singles and families who are down on their luck

American Private or For-Profit Organizations

This includes many companies that donate to the cause of aforementioned organizations among other nonprofits in their communities. Most include food companies, but monetary funds are also donated by companies without food to donate. Seed companies have been known to donate relief as well.

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Now, after doing all of the background research and getting our research questions answered by various individuals throughout our travels, Anna and I could finally compose what would make up our poster presentation for the NCHC National Conference.

Below contains our background, data, conclusion, and sources from our research. We ultimately ended up grouping our data into multiple categories with a specific focus based on the answers we received from each question.

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Background:

The project was designed around a nutrition study abroad class in China. Before embarking overseas, preliminary research was completed to re-familiarize students with the nutritional services offered in the United States, and to develop a background on Chinese nutritional services in order to prepare adequate interview questions. While traveling throughout China, students interviewed several general Chinese citizens and observed the country for any signs of nutrition promotions and services. Research took place in Shanghai, Wuhan, and Beijing, supplemented with a presentation from nutritionists at China Agricultural University.

Data:

Nutrition as a Priority

Food security and taste are generally prioritized above nutrition. Elders of families prioritize nutrition by promoting rice consumption to their kin. Prioritize getting enough food so they have enough energy to function throughout their busy day.

Dietary Guidelines

Guidelines do exist, however diets are more influenced by family tradition than dietary guidelines. The public is under the impression that 30% rice, 30% vegetables, 15% meat, and 25% fruit with no sugar, and exercise after every meal are part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. The dietary recommendations truly recommend…

Nutrition in the Media

A single food pyramid and an orange juice machine with vitamin C promotions were observed throughout the trip. Scientists are developing an app that can document the nutrition information of food from a photograph.

Nutrition has hit billboards, television and radio commercials, and posters on the walls of institutions nationwide. Celebrities have even been called upon to endorse healthy products.

Emphasis on Products

The government is perceived to emphasize fish and produce but suggest less pork consumption. A rising trend is in increased potato consumption. The government emphasizes surplus agricultural products. Agriculture is the platform for healthy eating. There is an effort to get the public to limit sugar, fat, and salt. Nutrients of concern are vitamin A and iron.

The “Got Milk?” campaign is well known throughout the U.S. with many celebrity endorsements. Many other campaigns focus on the consumption of local agricultural products, but are typically funded by the private sector. Healthy eating in general has recently been heavily promoted by Michelle Obama and the Let’s Move campaign.

How Informed is the Public?

The public tends to believe that fish and beef should be eaten more than pork, the freshest produce should be purchased for the most nutrients, and supplemental vitamins are not an adequate source of nutrition. There is not as much hype around the latest nutrition fads in China as in the United States. The Chinese have less confusion over what is and is not healthy, because the country’s diet is simpler than the “melting pot” of America.

Younger generations tend to have more nutritional knowledge, because the dietary guidelines are taught and implemented in public school lunches. Older generations are more set in their ways and eating habits to take the ever changing nutritional advice. Altogether, the U.S. public is aware of what constitutes a healthy diet, but can get confused by all the latest trends and fad diets.

Availability of Nutrition Information

China FDA is known, but not frequently utilized. They could use the internet, but rarely do. Most people take the advice of friends and parents, rather than seeking the paid assistance of a doctor or “nutritional engineer.”

The USDA has information readily available online. The main platform is choosemyplate.gov. Dietitians are available in a growing number of grocery stores and health care facilities. Most people wait until they are in serious need to seek the help of a nutritional professional.

Which is the Problem…Obesity or Undernourishment?

Food security is a bigger concern in the rural areas of China, however there is a mix of concern in the urban areas. Being overweight is more of a concern than being obese.

Obesity and undernourishment often go hand-in-hand in the United States, because the cheapest foods are high in calories and low in nutrition, but obesity is not segmented just to the poor.

Food for the Children

Orphanages receive funding from the government, in order to feed the children.  Nutritional specialists are trying to get more nutritional programs in schools, but are not receiving adequate backing from governmental officials. The government offers some support for school lunches.

Public schools get government funds to serve meals that follow the dietary guidelines. Various private and nonprofit organizations have made it their mission to ensure children and their mothers receive proper nutrition. These organizations/programs include: Feeding America, Salvation Army, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), summer food service program, and many more from the national to local levels.

Food for the Needy

You must apply and need a certification in order to receive any food from the government.

There is an abundance of options for hungry people, including food stamps from the government, meals from national non-profits like the Salvation Army, and meals and grocery assistance from local churches and volunteer groups. Proof of need is required for government assistance, but most free meals are open to any community member.

Food for the Elderly

Families are responsible for taking care of their seniors. Couples are opting into the “DINK” (Double Income, No Kids) family dynamic in order to lessen their financial load.

Elderly often reside in nursing homes which meet their nutritional needs at a cost which can often be supplemented by insurance. Nursing homes can cut their costs by following the dietary guidelines which leads to government assistance. Meal on Wheels is a national nonprofit that delivers groceries and meals to the homes of senior citizens.

Food for Universities

At Universities, convenience food is available all day long. Students do not show much care for their nutrition and eat a lot of junk food. Convenience and taste, take priority over fruit and vegetable consumption. University students often go into school with the intention to eat healthy, however do not follow through with such intentions.

Universities most often contract with a food servicer such as Aramark. Universities can only offer foods that are offered by such servicers, which can lead to a standardized college student diet. Most foods offered are convenient and unhealthy. Nutritious foods can be found, but are typically more expensive and less convenient.

Discussion:

The primary means of nutrition services in China come from within families. The government provides dietary guidelines, however, the general public tends to stick to traditional family nutrition. Whereas, the United States dietary guidelines are established and implemented within various public programs, the Chinese dietary guidelines are still establishing their roots among families and public programs.

The profound practice of dieting and focusing on weight loss within the United States has influenced the culture to promote and revolve around nutrition. On the other hand, less concern for dieting in China explains the lack of nutrition promotion within the country.

Another key factor that affects the differences between diets within China and the United States revolves around who takes responsibility for one’s lifestyle. In the United States, one takes responsibility for his/her own diet and most often relies upon outside sources for nutrition support. Whereas, in China, individuals heavily rely upon the nutritional insight and offerings from family members.

Convenience plays a critical role in both countries dictating the day-to-day diets of the population.

Overall, many programs exist within the United States and nutrition assistance is seen at every sector. Whereas, in China, the government and families serve as the main providers of nutrition assistance.

Sources:

“CFDA.” CFDA. China Food and Drug Administration, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.

“Feeding America.” Feeding America. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.

“Meals on Wheels America.” Meals on Wheels America. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.

“Programs and Services.” Food and Nutrition Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.

“The Chinese Dietary Guidelines.” The Chinese Dietary Guidelines. Chinese Nutrition Society, n.d. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.

“The Salvation Army – Home.” The Salvation Army – Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.

By no means was this project aimed towards picking out the nitty-gritty details about the nutritional services offered/not offered in China. As undergraduate researchers, our goal when doing this project was to get a better understanding of what the world of nutrition is like beyond the United States.

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While presenting our poster, the question that Anna and I were asked by all of the judges was, “What was the one thing that surprised you the most about your research?” We were excited to share that we were surprised to hear from a board of nutrition directors at China Agricultural University that China is looking towards switching their carbohydrate staple food of white rice to potatoes! Shocker right?! Ha!…Actually, we learned that the University is interested in the idea of improving sustainability and nutrient content when shifting the staple food from rice to potatoes…but this idea of thinking beyond the societal “norm” when talking about health is exactly what I mean when writing this “Food for Thought” post! Thinking outside the box is not exactly a bad thing when aiming towards improving one’s physical and mental wellness. Putting that little extra thought…and then effort…into health might just be worth it!

Looking back and reflecting on all that I learned, not once did I feel overwhelmed by performing the research component of this project but instead inspired to learn more in the field which I will have my whole life to explore. In fact, with one research project officially done and in the books, I cannot wait to see what my second research project “Wellness Needs and Issues of First-Year College Students” has in-store!

Scholarly in Seattle

What can I say? For my first “scholarly” conference, the National Collegiate Honors Council National Conference (what a mouthful! Ha!) did not disappoint!

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The idea of attending the annual Honors conference all began last year (my freshman year) as soon as I knew I had my first opportunity to perform some research alongside another dietetics student, Anna, while studying abroad in China. I mean…what dietetic student would not love the opportunity to share news on nutrition?! 🙂 Not only that, but to exchange ideas and research with other Honors’ students from all over the world spoke to my so-called inner “nutrition nerd.” So by combining my nutrition passion with my nerdy passion, Anna and I decided to go all in and submit a proposal for NCHC…fun fact: which got accepted on my birthday!

This unexpected birthday present resulted in another opportunity for me to open my eyes up to all the different people, cultures, and places of this world. Not only did I met others from places I could only dream about traveling to, but I thrived off of the opportunity to grow closer to students from SDSU. Traveling by plane and then by train with a handful of students whom I now know on a personal level from this trip shows one of many unexpected benefits of pursuing your passion.

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Our early flights from Sioux Falls to Denver and Denver to Seattle allowed us a chance to take Seattle by storm and explore the city. Pike Place Market was out first stop after riding the light rail downtown and dropping our bags off at our hotel. In my mind, the market was a mix between the street market I visited while in Taiwan and the farmer’s market in Minneapolis. One could easily get lost roaming through Pike Place Market filled with fresh produce, homemade munchies, and trinkets of all kinds.

As soon as we reached the Public Market sign on Pike Street, we heard the Pike Place Fishermen yell out, “T.T. for Justin!”

“Heeeeyyyy Ohhhhh!”

“Flap back!”

“Heeeeyyyy Ohhhhh!”…quite the introduction to the city!

Gorgeous bouquets of flowers were being sold for only $10, and one of the girls on our trip ended up receiving a bouquet for free. Now talk about an even warmer welcome!

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After the market, Anna and I started making our way towards the Space Needle and stopped at one of a few Cheery Street Coffee shops located in Seattle to grab lunch…one of the biggest hummus sandwiches I have had in my life! Delish! We then scoped out the area around the Space Needle and rode the elevator up all 520 ft. to soak in a gorgeous 360° view of Washington State with Mount Rainier to the South and the Pacific Ocean to our West…by far a must do when in Seattle.

Our adventures after the Space Needle only got better and better as the week progressed. I was thrilled to have the chance to take a bite into an entirely vegan meal of an African salad paired with a peanut butter and banana shake. Meals are all about balance…why not follow the 80:20 rule so you can enjoy some coconut ice cream…when in Seattle! 🙂

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Not only did the food options allow me to splurge in exploring my interests, but Anna and I ran into two other nutrition students, an environmental sustainability student, and an international studies student who were all thrilled in discussing all things food, people, and environment. I thrived off of networking with such inspiring students compelled to action by their passions. Now the question is: What’s next? The journeys come and go, but my love for nutrition still stays the same. So although I may not necessarily have a plan, I am more excited than ever for what nutritious adventure lies waiting around the next corner!

What I Ate Wednesday 2

Where did the week go?! It’s already Wednesday again! Being on campus definitely keeps me on my toes, and before I even know it most days, I am scrambling around to make plans to keep myself fed and fueled.

In order to stay full and focused until lunchtime rolled around at noon, of course I started my day off with the usual! (Bob’s Red Mill 5-Grain Cereal, honey, cinnamon, powdered coconut, almond butter, ground flax seed meal, and a big ‘ole banana) This breakfast never gets old, and I cannot help but go to bed at night excited to dig into my next bowl in the morning.

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Here’s a look into my strategic morning set-up for whipping up my oats as I try to keep the Mason jar-clanking to a minimum as my roommates get their beauty sleep 🙂

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On Wednesdays lunch always seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. My Sunday evening meal prep magic worked wonders as I sat down to a big bowl of Tofu and Potato Curry Soup following an eventful morning. Soup always seems to serve as the perfect, comforting pick-me-up after spending a morning running around campus and then organizing how the rest of my week will play out. Again, bring on the nut butter! Sunflower seed butter and two coconut date rolls cut in half perfectly satisfied my sweet tooth. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most enjoyable, and this treat, by far, is just that.

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As a member of the Dietetics and Health Sciences Club at SDSU, I found myself in Wagner Hall at our first meeting to kick-off the year serving as the club’s treasurer. I cannot express how excited I am to see what the year has instore promoting health both on campus and in the Brooking’s community! By being a part of DHS, my passion for becoming a Registered Dietitian has only been sparked further by sharing such a rewarding goal with all of the other passionate RDs2B on campus.

After our meeting, I found myself running to Einstein’s to quickly grab a to-go cup filled with fruit which I knew would pair perfectly well with…guess again…another bowl of Tofu and Potato Curry Soup. As one might be able to tell, I do not mind eating some of the same foods over and over again just as long as they are made with <3…and taste good!!! I finally treated myself to…wait for it…some more sunflower seed butter and toast with some melted, soy-free, dairy-free, chocolate chips for dessert…the perfect end to an exciting and event-filled day!

 

What I Ate Wednesday!

Welcome to my first ever “What I Ate Wednesday” post!!! I could not tell you how many times so many people have continually asked me what I eat each and every day. So, I decided…why not answer everyone’s question blog style…plus include some yummy pictures along the way :)!

I personally look forward to Wednesday mornings rolling around so I can get a peek into the day-in-the-life of some of my favorite food bloggers. (CItNutritionally & Hummusapien) I absolutely love how the simplest of blog posts are by far my favorites. Let’s face it. We all do not always eat picture-perfect meals. Life is crazy, and as long as I am getting food into my belly…picture-perfect or not…I am one happy camper. So let’s begin by taking a look at my favorite meal of the day…BREAKFAST!!!

After giving up continuously eating two ginormous bowls of Honey Bunches of Oats every day for breakfast during my senior year of high school, I instantly feel in love with making my own, homemade batch of 5-grain cereal every morning. Almond butter, cinnamon, ground flax meal, shredded coconut, and honey all go into making the perfect bite to start off my day. Add in a nana, and I stay full right up until noon.

I had to split up lunch today due to my crazy schedule. After anatomy ended, I sat down to a bowl of lemony kale salad topped off with some curried cashews. Weekly meal prep is a must for me each and every week, and whipping up this salad was definitely a breeze…plus….I never thought I would say this…but massaging kale with a little lemon juice and olive oil is quite relaxing. Ha! I also enjoyed some crunch for lunch with a handful of some dry roasted edamame before I heading off to Nutrition 315.

Having a healthy lunch before your nutrition class is pretty rewarding while you are in class, but also having a healthy snack afterwards is icing on the cake. I munched on a crispy, Granny Smith apple as 2:30 quickly rolled around. (Bear with me on my lone apple slice photo. I kind of forgot I was starting my “What I Ate Wednesday” post until I got down to the last slice!)

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On to supper…I ended the day by eating with one of my besties at Larson’s Commons on campus. Luckily for me, Larson’s offers a wide variety of plant-based goodies. I enjoy the freedom to create my own mashups of everything I am in the mood for. Curried tofu, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and hummus are a must! Steamed corn-on-the-cob and some whole wheat toast with pb rounded off my meal. YUM! 🙂 Of course, we left Larson’s with smiles and full bellies!

“What I Ate Wednesday” post #1 officially done and in the books! Now, I cannot wait for next Wednesday to roll around to share some more foodie love!!! Until then…num, num!

A Summer of Surprises!

This past summer has been nothing but an epicurean adventure for me. I did not initially plan on taking time off from blogging but found myself spending so much time on simply testing and creating new recipes that my blog just naturally took a back seat…plus add on two part-time jobs and somehow the summer just flashed before my very eyes. But, here I am officially back and ready to share all I have learned and devoured over the course of a summer break baking and basking away!

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The perfect de-stressor: Food prep ❤

At the beginning of the summer, I was a little apprehensive to move back home and have the responsibility of feeding myself day-in and day-out. No longer having a salad bar waiting for me at my fingertips seemed somehow unbearable…yes, I will admit: I truly did not mind the plant-based food offered on campus…but the answer to my problem came with ease…Food prep!

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Sweet tooth cure: DATES

Without a doubt, I absolutely fell in love with listening to my own taste buds and creating my very own menu for the week. I mainly stuck to the basics by cooking with whatever was fresh and in season. My go-to’s involved veggies dressed up with either a little balsamic vinegar, “cheesy” cashew cream, or lemon tahini sauce…the possibilities seemed endless!

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My love for food did not just stop with what I could create, but I found myself looking forward to exploring new restaurants, markets, and my personal favorite, grocery stores! Being adventurous did not disappoint! I surprised myself with how many new foods I came to enjoy and cannot wait to test out in new recipes.

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By far one of the cutest entrances to a grocery store I’ve seen – Keller’s Grocery Store Downtown Sioux Falls

Not only did I listen to my taste buds, but I also have been working on listening to my body. Finding happiness through nourishing my body and loving the effects allows me to enjoy whatever life sends my way!

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❤ No caption needed ❤

So here I go again! Another year embracing my inner foodie, cook, and dietitian in-the-making…cause why not smush them altogether for nothing but adventures filled with health, wealth, and happiness!

Beijing: Day 11, 12, & 13

These last few days in Beijing have been nothing but pure bliss. My mind still has not quite grasped the fact that I have visited a city known for hosting the Olympic Games, containing one of the eight wonders of the world, and consisting of one of the largest preserved palaces left on earth. What a city, and what a way to end a trip!

We were all very excited to no longer have to travel by plane to reach our next destination. Pulling up to the “bullet” train station in Wuhan, C.Y., one of my two professors on our trip, did not think we were going to make our train. Running through the rain to get to the station was just the beginning of our trek to reach our train in time. Even those whom we have seen in the airports full on sprinting to their gates had an easier route when traveling through the terminals. We experienced a mad dash with a lot of body bumping both running and walking with the hopes that the bullet train would still be waiting for us. I was completely relieved once we made it on the high-speed bullet to find a place for my luggage and to discover that our seats were very comfortable and spacious. The train left within five minutes of everyone settling in, and we were off traveling at over 200 miles per hour for the rest of our trip.

I read, played cards, and ate a surprisingly delicious lunch while on-board the bullet train. Before I knew it, the time had quickly passed, and we had made it to Beijing after approximately four hours.

The hotel we checked into by far was the best hotel of the trip. We were all thrilled to have such a nice place to stay and decided to take a break from our traditional family-styled dinners to enjoy the hotel’s  exquisite buffet. After supper, everyone retreated back to their rooms to prepare for two, busy, non-stop days ahead.

I never quite realized the size of the Forbidden City until I was standing in one of the gates looking down at my brochure thinking, “We have not even made it inside yet?” The massive palace covers over 220 acres and took over 14 years to build. We spent over two hours touring both Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and barely got a glimpse of what the grounds had to offer. The most interesting fun fact that I learned on the tour was that the emperor’s housing quarters had nine units so nobody knew where the emperor was sleeping each night.

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Before I knew it, our tour ended, and we were off to the Hutong area of the city to enjoy a lunch prepared by a local family. The historic housing units contained a lot of charm. I applauded those people out working in the streets for restoring the few original Hutong buildings left. I was even amazed to find that a majority of the remaining buildings were little and unique off-the-grid dinning hotspots. The local Hutong drivers treated us to our very own carriage ride through the tiny alleyways connecting all of the individual houses together. Each house was in the shape of a rectangle with a courtyard in the center. The parents’ quarters face the south while the brother and sister live on opposite ends facing east and west. The design was all about balance (Yin & Yang.) We entered our host’s home to not only feast on some excellently prepared food but to also learn that his family started cooking for visitors after hosting multiple athletes during the 2008 Olympic Games.

The day was not even close to over yet. We made our way to our bus to travel to China Agricultural University. There, we learned about a new database designed to analyze crop statistics to potentially warn farmers about any alarming discoveries. I could not help but stare in amazement at all of the planning, thought, and computer work that went into the program on the screen right before my eyes. We soon realized that we did not just come to the university for one meeting, but we also were there to sit in with some of the head directors from the nutrition department to discuss their newly established program and China’s recently released 2016 Dietary Guidelines. Anna and I could not have been happier to finally come across some answers for our independent study research. Side note: our previous tours guides had been quite helpful with answering our questions, but we could not quite deem them as experts.

Two stops down, one more to go. Our bus driver strategically pulled over on the highway so that we could get a good look at the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. We walked over the highway right up to the gates of Beijing Olympic Park. I thought back on all of the nights friends and I had spent watching the 2008 Olympic Games and could not help but get excited for watching the games again this summer.

Our final day touring Beijing included traveling to the Great Wall of China and some local shopping. We arrived at the Great Wall around nine in the morning and had two hours to climb up as far as we could go and make it back to a coffee shop located near the entrance of the wall in time to catch our bus. Physically walking on the wall made me appreciate all of the manual labor that went in to creating one of the eight wonders of the world. Just climbing the steep steps alone was a task to admire. Most of the steps resulted in me lunging my way up to the top. I was secretly thinking back on all of the volleyball practices where my teammates and I did ballistics up and down the court to warm up and how that did not compare at all to the lunging I was doing at the moment. Finally, I made it to the top and soaked in the view..thankfully without being soaking wet;). The breeze kept me nice and cool as I ascended and descended the wall. We truly had a perfect day for trekking about the Great Wall.

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After the wall, we were all ready for a well-deserved lunch. But, we first had to endure another tourist trap at the local jade shop. The restaurant where we would have lunch was located above the shop so we all could not avoid viewing various precious stone creations as we waited for our table. Lunch ended and we made our way to another souvenir shop. The Beijing pearl market was four floors of souvenir madness. We saw people from a vast variety of countries bargaining with the vendors. The atmosphere was fun and upbeat. I retreated to the Starbucks located on the first floor for a majority of the time to continue reading one of the four books I brought along on the trip. I savored every minute of just simply relaxing and reading without having to have a care in the world.

We ate our last family meal at a local Peking duck restaurant. Of course I did not try the duck, but watched as the chefs carved the duck right before our eyes. As we walked into the big dining area, we were greeted by three tables of Europeans who sang us what I would consider a welcoming song as we took our seats. I wish I had an idea as to what language they were singing in as I smiled the whole time during their warm welcome. However, we did end up sitting right next to a group of students from somewhere familiar (Iowa State). Funny how the world works! The restaurant served the duck in thin slices which were wrapped up in little pancakes with a plum sauce, thinly sliced onions, and cucumbers. Anna and I adapted our own version of the wraps by using mushrooms in place of the duck. We were very pleased with the results, and overall, I was very pleased with the trip. Looking back now, who would have thought my freshman year in college would fly by so fast and end with such an eye-opening trip abroad. I could not be more blessed and excited to continue on my career path, wherever it may take me!!!

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