Makeshift College Cooking Part 2

Now I am no expert in the kitchen but I think my creativity does help me out a lot to make people think otherwise. Sometimes you just have to the best you can with what ya get, in and out of the kitchen. Half the time when I makeshift these interesting meals is also because I don’t want food to go bad!

This brought me to my own version of fried rice. Although I wanted the real thing, I grossly underestimated how long it takes to make rice, yeah a whole 30 minutes, and I didn’t have that kind of time. But I did have a ton of quinoa left over from a mass quinoa production that I had had the week before, and also had eggs left from pre practice banana bread that I make each week. I always have spinach left from, just my life. (I love spinach and it goes with nearly anything!)

I also found an easy way to make scrambled eggs that involve far fewer dishes. All you have to do isFriedRice slightly oil/grease, I use Pam, the inside of a mug or some other microwave safe cup; then you crack your eggs inside and microwave on medium for 1:30. Sometimes you need a little more time or a little less but ti will usually puff up, and then I just take it out and fluff them and break down the big puff with a fork. After this, it is really just became a modge-podge dish. Heating up all your favorite things and throwing them in a bowl together. This particular time I had spinach, chicken (drained from the can), eggs, carrots, chickpeas and qunoia all together. Then I top it all off with olive oil, salt and pepper (my absolutely favorite ‘dressing’). Sometimes the best versions of dishes are the ones where you make them your own! One of my favorite things about mode-podge meals is that it helps motivate me to only keep healthy foods in the cupboards. The more healthy foods and options you have a the hand the less yo have to stress about tailoring what you are making! Happy cooking 🙂

Makeshift College Cooking: Part 1

I found myself at a new low last week, but at the same time a college student peak. I created the most makeshift pizza that has ever been conceived. As I sat in class, my mind of course wandered to the most obvious of daydreams: food. I thought of what I was going to be making for dinner.

The pizza goal

                           The pizza goal

Now my mind has always worked in an interesting way. For me I often though items such as tomato sauce and ketchup where on some level interchangeable, I mean after all they are quite similar in nature. Either way this brought me to my next interchangeable item: pizza sauce and salsa. Now not to say that I think salsa and pizza sauce are the same thing, however when you are on a college budget lines become blurred and experiments in the kitchen become more and more fun.

Regardless on that Thursday I decided that I wanted pizza and that I was going to make it on my own, but there where more ingredients that I didn’t have rather than those that I did. Regardless I was determined to make the best of this makeshift situation.

Now for my pizza crust I had limited options pita chips, some wheat thins, or sandwich thins. As I am writing I think pita chips would have been quite delicious, but regardless at the time I went with the sandwich thins. SO I popped that sucker in the oven and let it toast…to the best of this dorm oven toasting ability.

Once my ‘pizza crust was nice and crispy I then spread some medium salsa all over, which actually turned out surprisingly well. I mean think about it, it is kind of like chunky pizza sauce even some veggies. Now fro cheese all I had were some mozzarella cheese sticks, which is probably the most realistic pizza ingredient that I actually had on hand. So I chopped up that mozzarella stick very thin and threw the entire concoction back into the oven.

Now I am not going to say this is the best pizza I ever had, because it was exactly pizza but for a college student with lack of transportation to the store on a Thursday night after a day of chaos…it was the best damn pizza I had ever had.

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Treat Yo’ Self

In a past post of mine I described my great obsession with Parks and Recreation (click here for that post!). That mixed with my recent moving back into school, and therefore dorm life, an inner state of mind has been reawaken from a summer off. Often while at school it can be so easy to get caught up in the classes, grades, social life, clubs, and for some athletics. It can easy to forget about the important, bigger things such as your physical and mental health. Besides the issue of so much pressure ebbing placed on education and grades, it can often be near back breaking to try to be so many things at once that we can forget to take care of ourselves. So I have made a promise to myself (and perhaps you would like to join me) to think f myself a little more. Not in a selfish way, but rather in a good job to me. It can be so easy to say good job to others, but often we save the worst criticisms for ourselves (something I am very guilty of) Here are a few ideas on how to, in the words of Tom Haverford, Treat Yo’ Self!Treat-Yoself

  1. Perhaps take a day off from your rigorous exercise schedule to let your body rest. Often we can get so caught up in being tin the perfect shape that we tune out the voice of our body, and end up hurting ourselves in the long run. A day off for soreness can be good and bring you back even stronger!
  2. If you find yourself with your face in a book all the time, your brain lightbulbmay deserve a break. Go for walk outside or catch up with a friend outside of the library. Set time aside for you to gather your thoughts and a little peace of mind, The books will still be there! And who knows you might stumble upon some of your most creative ideas once you take that step outside the box.
  3. Look out for yourself. Sometimes we can get so caught up in everything we are doing we forget about the basics. Even when it comes to our health!No matter what end of the spectrum you are on it is important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves for the now and the future. Here is an outline of what should get checked when (I am the first o admit that sometimes I am not even sure what I should be expecting at the doctors)! It can be easy to push things out of our minds either out of convenience or fear, but it is important to get regular check ups so your body can keep up with you doing an amazing job at being you! But don’t think that something like health is something you can’t pair with your friends. Girlfriends got to stick together!( Click here for a few ways you can be there for your friend!) You can help each other look out of one another, in ways big and small!
  4. Oscar Women's CheckupsTreating yourself goes along best while doing it with a best friend! Here are some of my favorites:
  • Getting your nails done!
  • Finding the best ice cream place in town
  • Going on a hike to apace you have never been
  • Going to a new type of exercise class together…why not try zumba!
  • Trying a brand new restaurant or even a new style of food!
  • Plan a spa day
  • Buy a new book (random or one anticipated) and set aside time even during your busy days to read it
  • Treat yourself to a new something whether it be a clothing item you love and makes you love yourself more or a new pair of shoes that you’ve been in love with for a while.

IT can be so easy to forget to put ourselves first, in nearly all aspects of our lives fro health and fitness to reminding ourselves that we are doing a great job! What are some of your favorite ways to treat yourself?

Tea Time Tuesday

Cup-of-teaPerhaps one of the most infamous pieces of English culture that comes to mind when people think of this lovely place is tea. Although it is become more and more popular in the states, it has been a long standing tradition in England. While going to school here I have been fortunate enough to be fully immersed in the British culture, which includes tea twice a day. In our case it takes place in the dining hall at 10:30 and 3:00. It has become a time that I look forward to, and not only for the cookies.
In our case it takes place in the dining hall at 10:30 and 3:00. It has become a time that I look forward to, and not only for the cookies.cookiesIt is a great time of the day to sit and unwind, and have pleasant conversation with your friends and often professors. (That is another huge difference here, the relationship between professors (or tutors as they are called) and students is much more relaxed in that you often share meals with them and can address them more casually. Furthermore in the classroom setting, I find to be more inviting compared to the usual American standard as if you are somewhat less than an equal to the professor.) In our case at school they provide the brand of Twinning’s, which is apparently Queen of England approved!
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All of the long tables are also adorned with plates of various cookie’s, so this sweet toothed girl is really in heaven, somehow I always convince myself that one … or seven won’t hurt me.
However, there is also a higher class/proper version of tea that is called afternoon tea. When walking the streets of Oxford local cafes often display their promotions for an afternoon tea which can range in 15 to 25 pounds, usually for two. Now as an attempt to get the full effect of British life, a few of my friends and I went to  a proper one, and boy was it worth it.
IMG_0023A proper afternoon tea usually comes with the following:
  • A pot of tea (usually of your choosing, the most common are Earl Grey, English Breakfast, but my personal favorite is green tea) Feel free to check out my post on why green tea is so great!
  • An assortment of finger sandwiches: ours included egg mayo (their version of egg salad), chicken mayo, cucumber, salmon and cream cheese, and roasted peppers and dressing. As you can see they usually come in sets of two as afternoon tea is meant to be shared.
  • As pictured above the next tier consists of scones: plain and blueberry, that is accompanied with jam and clotted cream; clotted cream is essentially a thinner version of butter…and quite delicious I might add.
  • The last tier (my personal favorite) is typically deserts that consist of tea cakes, usually in the form of small slices such as chocolate cake, vanilla cake, two eclairs, and some strawberry mousse.
While on my travels abroad I have learned many things not only about myself, but about people in general, perhaps you have come across this ideas at one time or another. The time for tea says a lot about the culture of England, as well as Europe. It isn’t just a time to eat or grab some morning refreshment, but it helps to keep the day a little more simple and pull you away from the madness that we usually all find ourselves in, often through work or school. A huge difference that I have noticed in the culture of America compared to that of Europe, life is taken a little more slowly. If such a practice became more prevalent in America I don’t think the majority of corporate businesses could take it, nor everyday households. I don’t mean that as an insult, but rather a mere observation of the vast differences between these two cultures separated merely by an ocean. I find myself victim to such behavior as the most I interact with tea is usually on my morning walk to class, rather than something that I sit and truly enjoy. Of the many things I hope to bring home with me amongst the memories and souvenirs I hope I also take with me the importance of taking time to enjoy life, even if it’s only as long as a cup of tea.

National Ice Cream Month

July is great time for celebration for many reasons, from the great relaxation and adventures that come with summer time to the 4th of July, but perhaps the greatest reason is Happy ICe cReam Monththat it is NATIONAL ICE CREAM MONTH. Now my personal opinion is that ice cream should be its own food group. I mean really the possibilities are endless from flavors to the serving options! But sometimes when you are in the midst of a great health kick you have the all time tricky dilemma of ” Do I indulge myself and live on the edge or keep myself from the one thing I am craving?!” Personally making a poor eating choice can off set my good track record because it can lead me into a spiral, especially when it is not planned.

I have discovered the best sweet treat sneak that actually won’t require 14 hours of your time and a million obscure ingredients to make (as I find most healthy cheats require). Banana ice cream! It is banana ice creamvery easy to do and even easier to customize! Simply slice 3 to 4 bananas (more or less depending on how many people you are making ice cream for. You may have to play around with the serving size because this also depends on the size of the bananas) and then place them into a container and freeze them for 3 to 4 hours. Then take them out and place them in a blender with milk (I like to use almond milk). This alone will be tasty! However I like crushing up pieces of dark chocolate and either sprinkling them on top, or using the blender to do so, depending on the abilities of your blender. This is a great fairly healthy alternative next time you’re in a crunch for a sweet treat! Other favorites of mine include sprinkles, raspberries, blueberries, and even some chocolate sauce. There are so many other options! Let me know what favorites you discover! (:

1,200 Must Read

I don’t often do this, however I found this article by Sophia Herbst and absolutely had to share. I think that it is quite clear that our society is going through many different transformations, and I think this article does a great job of speaking to another one: in women’s perception of themselves. So I will step back from the talking and let you do the reading! Let me know what you think!

Click here for the original article

1,200 Calories

I don’t know why 1,200 managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1,200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got into all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1,200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

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What I do know is that 1,200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1,200 calories. The line between health and what they call “starvation mode.” 1,200 calories. The dangerous tightrope that many women are trying to walk, because they think this is how thinness is achieved.

“Starvation mode”

… means your body realizes it is not getting enough food — calories — and it thinks you are starving, and slows down your metabolism to a crawl to conserve energy. Because it thinks you are starving, when you do feed yourself, your body will try to store more of your calories as fat, because those are your long-term energy deposits.

long term calorie deficit can mess with your blood sugar levels, reduce bone mass, cause weakness, fatigue, cold intolerance, irregular menstrual periods, dizziness, constipation and swelling of the hands and feet. If a woman decides to get thin by maintaining a steep calorie deficit (1,200 calories is very steep) and pairs it with long sessions of steady-state cardio, it can result in thyroid issues. “Too little T3 (hypothyroidism), and the body accumulates body fat with ease, almost regardless of physical activity level. Women inadvertently put themselves into a hypothyroid condition when they perform so much steady-state cardio.”

Women: If you are trying to go about your business during the day, on only 1,200 calories, and perform cardio to burn those dreaded calories, you really are not going to succeed. You will most likely pass out.

It is unfortunate, then, that there is one — and only one — message the majority of weight loss campaigns use to when targeting women:

Calories, calories, calories.

More specifically, fewer calories.

Calories are the enemy. You must either reduce your consumption of them, or obliterate them via exercise. Calories are the devil. Calories must be avoided at all costs. Calories must be burned away pronto, quick, before that one cookie turns into a lump of fat on your thighs.

For example, this check out this Yoplait yogurt commercial (which was actually pulled off the air due to complaints that it promotes disordered eating):

… or this Trop50 commercial that I found not only to be a completely demeaning portrayal of women as complete airheads, but perpetuates the message that women should strive to look like they “had work done”:

One of my main issues is how health and nutrition is marketed to women vs. men. Do a quick Google search on women’s health magazines vs. men’s health magazines and you’ll immediately see the difference in keywords. Women’s magazine covers frequently use terms like “drop X pounds fast!” and “calorie-torching workout!” and “low-calorie foods.” Men’s magazines use keywords like “build,” “power,” and “strength.” In my bit of searching, I never once found a men’s magazine that talked about burning or cutting calories, or losing pounds.

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For anybody who knows anything about weight loss and nutrition, you will immediately recognize how shallow, and ultimately harmful, only focusing on calories can be. That is because:

1) A healthy body cannot be measured simply by poundage; and

2) Fewer calories do not equal good nutrition.

It is especially saddening because of the blatant misinformation fed to women by the media about how to be fit, or even, what fitness is.

“Toned” is MUSCLE, goddammit, just call it by it’s effing name! Muscle.

When women want to get “toned” they are saying the female word for “muscle.” They often don’t know that “toned” actually means “muscle,” and they would never actually say, “My health goal is to build muscle.” But what is a round, shapely butt made out of? Muscle. How does an abdomen stop being jiggly? Muscle. How do you get a back that doesn’t produce bra-bulge? Muscle.

Women want a body that looks “toned,” unaware that this “toned” look is achieved by building muscle.

I have never seen any weight loss campaign targeting women that informs their audience that muscle is more dense than fat.

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I have never seen a women’s magazine talk about fitness other than pounds on a scale — as if body fat, muscle mass, and skeletal composition are completely negligible to a body looks like. The end result is all these women trying to lose weight the wrong way— by cutting calories in their diet and trying to burn as many as possible, aka cardio.

Women are, for the most part, unaware that if they are exercising right they will bebuilding muscle and their weight might not change very much. In fact, if they are doing everything right, their weight might even go up! And that’s totally OK.

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Even more infuriatingly, I have never seen any women-oriented campaign that says the word “muscle.”

“Muscle” in woman-land is like a dirty word.

You know Vanessa Hudgens? Wanna know how she got that bod? Deadlifting heavy and building muscle.

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Last year’s Miss America got this bod by… yep, lifting heavy and building muscle.

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Now, I’m not trying to say that the only way to get a great physique is by lifting heavy. What I’m saying is that great bods look great because they have muscle.

Adriana Lima, Victoria’s Secret Angel and one of the most successful supermodels in the world, works her perfect butt off by boxing. She’s not a twig, and I would bet good money that she could literally beat the crap out of you! See all that supa’ fine definition on her midsection? That’s muscle.

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I should also note that the aforementioned women/AngelsWalkingOnEarth also make looking bangable their full-time job. They have the time and the money to hire professional trainers, exercise every day, and eat the best of the best foods. The is such a thing as an unfair advantage and this is it. Sorry, but you are probably never going to look like Adriana Lima. And yes, this depresses me too. All the time.

Back to my point: If you want a rounder, firmer, tighter, shmexier anything, it requires building muscle. Simply burning fat and cutting calories is only one part of the equation of sexiness.

Sophia’s Equation of Sexiness:

Sexiness = Nourish your body with fresh, whole foods + strength train to build shapely physique + choose your amount of cardio depending on how much body fat you want to lose or keep.

What look do you want to achieve? Below is an image that shows what the male and female bodies look like depending on body fat percentage:

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(Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that the female body naturally carries about twice as much body fat as men. That is because testosterone increases one’s ability to gain lean muscle mass, while estrogen increases the storage of body fat. It is much more difficult (many more cheezeburgers must be nommed) for a man to reach 40 percent body fat than a woman. Knowing this, it becomes increasingly aggravating when society continues to judge fat women far more harshly than fat men. Oh, the irony.)

I’ve mentioned my disdain for Special K, before, but I’m really going to lay into them now. The messages Special K spreads to women about how to be healthy are so freaking misleading. I want to poke my own eyes out whenever I see one of their commercials. That is because they market their products as healthy meal options.

What makes them so healthy? Oh, only that they are low in calories.

Nothing about the quality of the ingredients, or even, what the ingredients are. Are they synthetic, are they made from whole foods, are they full of fillers?

I mean, what is even in Special K?

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RICE. WHEAT GLUTEN. SUGAR. DEFATTED WHEAT GERM.

Those are the ingredients in Special K cereal. The only healthy thing about this cereal is that it is pumped full of additive vitamins and minerals (you could just take a multivitamin) from unknown sources.

Then they promote eating like this:

Breakfast: One serving of Special K cereal with 2/3 cup skim milk and fruit.

Lunch: Repeat breakfast meal or substitute a Special K Protein Meal bar.

Dinner: Eat your normal meal.

Snacks: Eat two snacks each day of Special K products (bars, cereal, snack bites) or fruits or vegetables.

Absolutely nothing about quality of calories, only quantity. Nothing about proper nutrition, only less. Everything is about reducing. Reduce your calories by reducing the amount of food you eat.

Even more infuriating is how women are advised to exercise by popular magazines. The image below is from Shape magazine:

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I mean, the moves are OK… I guess.

… if you want to waste a lot of fucking time at the gym flapping your arms around and wondering why you don’t look “toned” yet.

If you’re trying to strength train… why don’t you use your strength? Why isn’t this fitness model, who obviously got her fitness model body by lifting heavy, showing heavy lifts?

There is no reason women should strength train differently from men.Man muscles are not alien tissue. Man muscles and woman muscles are the same. They are human muscles. They respond to the same fuel and the same stimulus.

This is why women’s workouts bother me.

Women should be shown the same fitness routines as men. We should be exposed to the same messages of eating nutritious food, with lots ‘o protein, and enough calories to build our bodies into goddess-like proportions. We should not fear muscle. We should not shy away from the weight room because it is perceived as “odd” and out of place when a woman approaches the squat rack.

This is why I had to write a whole goddamn blog post complaining about the misinformation that is spread to women. I am so tired of watching my girlfriends get mislead by the media on how to be healthy. I am so annoyed by this skinny obsession — which literally robs women of their power.

I think anorexia is a metaphor. It is a young woman’s statement that she will become what the culture asks of its women, which is that they be thin and nonthreatening. Anorexia signifies that a young woman is so delicate that, like the women of China with their tiny broken feet, she needs a man to shelter and protect her from a world she cannot handle. Anorexic women signal with their bodies ‘I will take up only a small amount of space. I won’t get in the way. They signal ‘I won’t be intimidating or threatening.’ (Who is afraid of a 70-pound adult?) — Mary Pipher

And hungry people are — let’s be honest — complete assholes. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry it means I’m unfocused, cranky, distracted, grumpy, irritable, and generally miserable. Snickers did get something right: You are not your best self when you are hungry.

I’ve lamented about this before, and I will again: Think of all the potential that is thrown out the window when women deprive themselves of food on their quest to be thin. What great things could women accomplish if we weren’t fucking dieting all the time?! It’s saddening.

It is time for the misinformation to stop.

Please do not skip meals. Especially if you are under the age of 18. Part of the reason I wrote this whole thing is because I see a lot of really young girls on Tumblr asking advice like, “I’ve already reached my calorie limit today — should I skip dinner?” NO! Your body and mind are still developing, and they need fuel! Please do not limit your calories under 2000. Eat unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables. Eat eggs, lean meat, even dairy in moderation. Eat a variety of foods with nutritional value. Stop with the empty calories! And the soda pop. Seriously, the soda pop is the devil’s piss.

My main point is this:

Please do not throw your own physical — and mental — potential out the window by starving yourself into skinny bliss. It’s not worth it. And trust me, it’s not bliss

Caul Me Crazy Cauliflower Pizza

Caul me crazy (and bad at jokes) but I am obsessed with Cauliflower pizza. I saw a recipe online and heard cauliflower2recommendations from friends, so I decided to give it a try. Now the third time I made it was arguably the best as you learn as you go.

Ingredients

1 whole head of cauliflower, cut into florets (for the non chef extraordinaire like myself this just means cut it into tiny pieces by the stem but leave the ‘tree looking part’ together)

2 eggs

¼ cup of parmesan cheese (I say the more cheese the better it tastes )

1 tsp of onion powder

1 tsp of Italian seasoning

salt & pepper as desired

Recipe

  1. Use a food processor to finely chop the florets of cauliflower. If you do not have a food processor like myself, simply put all the cauliflower into a pot with water and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and let sit as the cauliflower softness. This usually takes about 20 minutes for me, but test the softness of the cauliflower as necessary.

  2. Next place the cauliflower in a dish towel and ring out all the excess water. (In my case I had to mash the cauliflower first and then ring it out because I didn’t have a food processor. The softer the cauliflower the easier the abashing will be, and this can be done with a potato masher)

  3. Once DRY AS POSSIBLE, transfer to a bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients. once combined spread across a parchment lined baking sheet (or a baking sheet heavily covered in PAM or other non stick cooking spray)

  4. Bake the crust at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, then add topping and bake for another 8 minutes or as desired!

So along with the recipe I have included the holy grail of tips about this dish: make sure you get as much water out of the cauliflower as possible. I mean when you think that it is all gone and as dry as can be ring it out again. I apologize for being so MIA recently but soon enough I will be back in full swing! Let me know what you think of this recipe below!

*disclaimer: pizza may come out in all shapes and sizes but all are delicious! aka mine came out in a terrible oval and one even triangle like.