Friday Love List

I love the idea of making a list summing up a few things that made my week or that I’m looking forward to and want to try to do it more often. This week my loves are:

1. This delicious Lavender kombucha. It’s a refreshing, calming tonic when I’m feeling stressed with assignment deadlines. Super low in sugar, though it tastes slightly sweet, and good for your digestive health, too!

2. Haifa Falafel. I get take-out from here probably around once a week. Their sandwiches are the BEST (I’m partial to the majadra) and come stuffed with fresh, shredded vegetables and the prices are super reasonable for the large portions. I always share my sandwich with my boyfriend and get a side of hummus and/or a fattoush salad.

3. Not having any major pressing assignments to do over the weekend! I actually have some time to relax and do something purely for fun.

4. VegFest is coming up on the 21st and will be featuring speakers such as Dr. Neal Barnard, and Scott Jurek, as well as food vendors and The Herbivore Clothing Company, all the way from Portland, OR! This will be my first VegFest and I’m pretty excited. Starting on the 22nd Ann Arbor will also be having its first Veg Week, with events happening at different locations. I plan on going to the kickoff night and trying to make a few of the talks, such as the ones by Joel Kahn, M.D. (whose article I linked to my last post) and Swaroop Bhojani, PhD.

As always, I like to leave you with a couple of links to articles I found interesting or relevant this week. A friend posted this op-ed by David Katz, M.D. about the rise of “nutrition expertism” (I just made that up) on Facebook today. What do you think? Do you agree there are too many nutrition “experts” out there without proper knowledge or credentials to be giving that type of information? I’d have to say yes.

And also, this is a brief review of an article I used in my symposium research project. Good to see it get some recognition from the American Diabetes Association.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Just a quick, checking in post

Another busy week for me, but what’s new when you’re a full-time student? The end of the semester is approaching and so all major assignments and papers are piling up. Exams will be in a couple of weeks, oh boy!

To own up to my good intentions, the meal planning went well for a few days and then I got sidetracked again. I have been preparing a lot more simple, quick meals at home, though. One thing that I’ve recently started doing that helps a lot is to buy frozen, chopped greens. I used to only buy fresh and then stress about using them up before they got wilty. My favorites are the leafy green mix from Whole Foods I mentioned in my last post, spinach, and collard greens. Instead of having to wash and chop my greens, I can just throw them into a pan with some water or into whatever recipe I’m using them in, such as stir-fry, curry, or soup. They are a time-saver and are just as, if not more, nutritious as fresh greens since they are flash frozen almost immediately after being harvested. That doesn’t mean I don’t still appreciate fresh kale from the farmer’s market!

Before I get back to my paper,I wanted to share this article from a (more or less) local cardiologist, Why I’m a Vegan: A Cardiologist Explains.

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WIAW

I don’t officially do What I Ate Wednesdays (yet?) but today I have a few things to share with you.

I adore food blogs with artful pictures of meals, starting with photos of trips to the market and all the ingredients what went into it, along with lengthy descriptions of the background of the dish, preparation methods, etc. etc. But right now I don’t have time to write posts like that and possibly never will. So I will enjoy the blogs of people much better than me at doing it, but I suspect that a lot of you also enjoy pictures of simple food that can be whipped up quickly on a week night.

Food doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to make to be delicious and healthy. This dinner I made last night of braised bok choy and tempeh finished with a drizzle of hoisin sauce definitely fits in with that. Bok choy contains a good amount of calcium, along with vitamins A, K, C, folate, and is in the cruciferous class of vegetables known for their anti-cancer properties. The fact that it is also delicious makes it a good leafy green to include in your weekly meal rotation.

Braised bok choy with tempeh and hoisin sauce.

Braised bok choy with tempeh and hoisin sauce.

All I did for this was lightly brown my tempeh strips in a little oil, set aside, and then use the same pan to saute the bok choy until the greens were tender but the white stalk was still a little crisp, and then added the tempeh back to the pan and drizzled it all with a little organic hoisin. So simple, so good. Tempeh is a great source of protein and has a great, nutty flavor. Here’s another post about the nutrition benefits and another way to prepare tempeh (from one of those amazingly detailed blogs with great photography!).

Tonight I felt like Indian food and luckily I happened to have all the ingredients on hand to make chana saag (or chole palak), one of my favorite dishes.

chana-saag (2)

Chana saag with biryani

I loosely followed this recipe at Manjula’s Kitchen, one of my favorite sites for Indian recipes and instructional videos. I used Whole Foods 365 brand frozen mixed greens (a blend of collard greens, kale, and mustard greens) instead of spinach, a small onion and LOTS of minced garlic, canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh, used only 1 TBS of coconut oil instead of  3, and I didn’t have asafetida so I used a few squeezes of lime at the end of cooking for a little tartness. The biryani came from Trader Joe’s and heated through very quickly; it took less than 10 minutes. The raisins and apples in it added a nice sweetness to this dinner. SO incredibly flavorful and full of all kinds of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and anti-inflammatory properties from the turmeric and other spices. It only took about 10 minutes to prep everything and about 20 minutes to simmer the chana saag. It’s healthier than getting restaurant Indian food, as that’s usually full of oil (or ghee and cream) and too much salt.

And finally, a little pre-Easter treat I ordered for myself from the best chocolate shop in the world, as far as I’m concerned.

The Harlot Box

The Harlot Box

This box of exquisite truffles are a mix of  pomegranate (with rose petals on top) and lemon (with lavender blossoms on top) Read more about Lagusta’s Luscious chocolate shop here. I truly have never had such divine, decadent chocolate and her ethics align nicely with mine, so it’s a win-win. I ordered a few treats for my boyfriend for Easter, as well, but I HAD to get myself something as long as I was making an order.

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Getting Organized

In the interest of roping our household food spending bill in and getting back to making more home cooked meals, I hearby declare that this weekend I am going to clean out my fridge and make a meal plan for the following week. I just made a meal plan for my symposium project, so it should be a no-brainer to do it for myself. To make it even easier, Kris Carr has made a printable meal planner/shopping list template that you just fill in with the meals you want to make for the week. She also offers up some great tips to keep meal planning and cooking as simple, quick, and enjoyable as possible.

Also, bonus tip: how to get perfectly browned tofu by Isa Chandra. I guess I’m going to have to try to re-season my cast iron pan or buy a new one if it’s unsalvageable. Mine has been sitting sadly in the cupboard after a botched attempt at seasoning made it all gummy and gross probably almost two years ago.

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2013 Undergrad Symposium

The symposium was a success! We got everything finished just in time (some handouts with a weekly meal plan had to be printed this morning!) and had a great response to our poster. I don’t know if I said this already in a previous post, but we presented on plant-based diets and human health. We did a literature review of several peer-reviewed studies looking at vegetarian/vegan dietary patterns and heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes incidence. Included were the EPIC-Oxford and the Adventist Health Studies.

We got to meet several students and faculty who are already vegetarian or vegan and were attracted to our brightly fruit and vegetable covered poster and a lot of people who were curious about plant-based diets. I was happy to hear that several people were familiar with plant-based doctors like Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Barnard, and Dr. Esselstyn. A lot of people enthusiastically took our meal plan that we created.

My partner Erin on the right and me on the left.

My partner Erin on the right and me on the left.

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Erin, our professor who sponsored us for the symposium, and me.

It was a great experience that I’m very grateful to my professor for providing us with. I generally don’t do so well with crowds and talking in front of people I don’t know, but I know it’s something I need to get used to and this allowed me to get some practice.

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Cram week

Please pardon me while I have a very busy week. The symposium I am presenting a poster at is this Friday and my partner and I have been working like madwomen around our already busy schedules to wrap everything up, make all the final edits, and make our poster look great! Earlier in the week we had a (now comical) stressful day of technology mishaps where nothing we tried to do on the computer went right! Luckily, my partner was able to work things out late Monday night and the rough draft of our poster looks amazing. She’s good like that. Final draft should be done tonight!

On top of that I have an exam over the weekend (thanks, art professor!), an assignment due Sunday (thanks, feminist theory professor!), and an exam over nine chapters that I have hardly had the time to read Monday. So even though I’d like to breathe a sigh of relief and have some cocktails Friday after the symposium, I have to get back to work immediately Saturday.

During busy times I resort to eating lots of giant salads from Whole Foods salad bar, majadara sandwiches from the delicious Haifa Falafel restaurant, and things I can throw together in minutes, like wraps made with sprouted grain tortillas with lots of vegetables, hummus, and avocado inside. The thing I always miss most while very busy is shopping for groceries and cooking at home. I know as a future dietitian I should be the queen of knowing how to maintain eating home-cooked, healthy meals even when busy, but I am still learning and trying to find that balance.

If you are great at having a healthy meal routine I’d love to hear how you make it work. I know all about the wonders of slow cookers, pressure cookers, and making a week’s worth of food over the weekend, but again, these are all habits I haven’t established despite my best intentions yet. YET.

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Exciting Mail

Accepted!

Accepted!

This little letter has been much anticipated lately. It finally arrived yesterday afternoon right as I was leaving for my experimental foods class. I was home alone and was so nervous to open it and read whether I had been accepted or not for the dietetics program. This program only has 18 spots per year and I knew that around 44 people had applied this year.

The first word I read was Congratulations and immense relief washed over me. I have been preparing to get into this program for over two years and all the striving to make A’s in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and other assorted science classes I had to take as prereqs finally paid off! I, uh, also didn’t really have a plan B, so I don’t know what I was going to do if I didn’t get accepted. I just didn’t leave that as a possibility in my mind.

One of my best friends called right after I opened the letter and it was amazing to have her to share my insane giddiness with. Squealing ensued.

So, officially I will be in the professional phase of my program starting in September, but I’ll be taking a couple of dietetics courses over the summer to get started. After all this time preparing it hardly feels real yet.  This is a coordinated program as opposed to a didactic program, which means that instead of completing two years of coursework and then trying to get matched to a year-long internship (only about half of dietetics graduates get matched to an internship their first year — odds I didn’t like) which could be anywhere in the country, I will complete my 1,200 hours of supervised practice along with my 2 years of coursework. When I graduate I will be prepared to take the RD exam and then I will be an RD! I’m assuming it will be a bit intense, but I’m anxious to get started.

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