Back to School

Greetings from Blacksburg!

My apologies for the blogging break. I’ve had so much going on lately, transitioning from my summer, home in Northern Virginia, to being back at school, at the wonderful, amazing Virginia Tech, and moving into a new apartment, about to embark on a new semester.

My roommates and I moved in at the beginning of the week and since then, have been getting our little home set up. It’s been quite the task, but I think we’ve all enjoyed every bit of it.

A new living space with new people comes with so much excitement. I think we’ve all enjoyed eachothers’ company a lot so far. It’s a great group. I can’t wait for what the year has in store for us.

Here’s a pic of all the roomies!

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Of course with a new place and new space comes a transition process.

I am definitely a creature of routine, and that has been lacking the past week, so I am excited to get the ball rolling on that.

Even with the spontaneity of the week, I’ve tried my best to keep up with my cooking and you could say I’m pretty stocked when it comes to food for the apartment (pictures to come!).

Let’s just say being vegan is a little different back at school than it is in my controlled environment at home. I get asked about veganism a lot here. Why? How? It’s standard.

I kind of knew this going in, so I thought I’d make a handy dandy vegan nutrition chart! It’s not only a good reference for me, but answers a lot of peoples’ questions about where I get my nutrients from. I’d say it’s a pretty helpful chart for anyone looking to lead a healthy lifestyle.

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Aside from unpacking and getting everything organized inside the apartment, I’ve been trying to somewhat enjoy the beautiful Blacksburg weather and sights outdoors.

On Thursday morning, I hiked to McAfee’s Knob, one of the infamous hiking trails in the New River Valley. It was 4 miles up and 4 miles back, but really felt like 6 both ways. We faced rocks, mud, bugs, colorful mushrooms, bug spray explosions and lots of sweat and complaining, but we made it.

The hike was well worth it.

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Tomorrow is the first day of classes! I don’t even know what I’m wearing yet….boy, how first days of school have changed.

Well this college kid needs to get to bed!

You’ll be hearing more from me soon, don’t worry.

Chow! (but not until tomorrow morning ;))

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Totally My Last Tuesday Home

I can’t believe it. I only have 5 more days at home until I’m off to Blacksburg to start my junior year at Virginia Tech. Seriously though, where has the time gone? I feel like I just started college, and now I’m halfway through? This can’t be.

I’m so excited to head back though! I move into my new apartment on Sunday with three of my friends that I’ve never lived with before. It’s a great group and I can’t wait to kick off the year. I see lots of roomie cooking parties in the near future (that of course will be documented)!

Last Saturday night, my mom, dad and I met some of my family in D.C. for my cousin’s surprise engagement dinner. My cousin Tara was proposed to last Friday night by her  long time boyfriend, PJ. He gathered all her closest friends and family to dinner at Cava Mezze restaurant to celebrate this exciting time.

It was basically a tapas place, so I got a lot of veggies plates and this one white bean dish I was OBSESSED with. (Sorry, it was super dark in there!)

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Afterwards, we headed back to their D.C. apartment and hung out on the rooftop, looking over the brightly lit D.C buildings and Union station.

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Mommy and I

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The bride-to-be and I

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My parents and I

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The love birds! Can’t wait for the wedding!

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For lunch on Sunday, I made a little roasted chickpea veggie bowl, one of my favorites lately. I roasted the chickpeas in balsamic vinegar, like I showed you in a previous post, and then chopped up some tomatoes, yellow/orange bell peppers and fresh basil.

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Among many little projects I’ve been working on before I head back to school, cleaning my Hunter Rainboots has been one of them, and I’m sure any owner of these rain boots would be interested in exactly what I did.

Cleaning Hunter Rain Boots

  1. Spay Goo Gone Spray Gel on a cloth and rub all over boot surface. This may take a little bit of elbow grease!
  2. Spray a rubber protectant on another cloth and again rub down the boots with it, making sure to cover every part. I used Turtle Wax Super Protectant.

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Here are my boots after the treatment! All shiny and new again!

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On Monday, I had a lovely day with my best friend Mary who just arrived back from a summer internship in Dallas. We began the day with a workout in her condo’s gym in Reston Town Center, and then took a walk over to Robek’s, a health-focused smoothie place, for a refreshing, replenishing smoothie.

I got the Age Buster: spinach, kale, peach and soy protein. I definitely tasted the greens (or grass as Mary says), but knew it was good for me, so I drank up.

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We then took our day to the pool. It was so nice to relax by the pool, as I felt like I haven’t really been around too much water this summer :(.

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We finished up our lovely day with a SweetGreen dinner date. Mary had never been and wanted to try it and I would never pass up a tasty salad.

I got spinach/mesclun, cukes, carrots, quinoa, lentils and pesto vinaigrette dressing with their complimentary buckwheat bread. Yummy!

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I started today with a nice run and am now working on some more projects before I head off to school.

I actually had a beach trip planned for today, but the weather didn’t hold up. I’m shooting for tomorrow, but you never know. Perhaps this beach trip was not meant to be.

Chow for now.

Let’s Catch Up

Happy Wednesday, guys!

This week marks my last few days at my internship. So bittersweet. It will be nice to have a week off to relax and prepare everything for my move back to Blacksburg, but there will definitely be some faces I’ll be missing.

I know I haven’t really been including my food/work outs in my posts, so I thought I’d let this post be a dump of everything from the past few days that you’ve missed out on. After all, that’s the best part of the blog anyways, right?

Remember those delicious vegan brownies I made? I may have had one for breakfast….alongside apples and A LOT of almond butter. LOL I might have gone overboard on this one.

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Here was a workday packed lunch: whole wheat toast (toasted in the office kitchen), hummus, grilled veggies (microwaved in office kitchen), raw carrots & cucumbers, an apple and a vegan brownie. I ended up making a hummus, grilled veggie sandwich, and just forking the rest.

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I was craving beans one night and when my mom heard that, she said to make two cans, so she could have some as well. I could only find one can of black beans and one can of chickpeas, so I threw them both in and hoped for the best. I was pleasantly surprised.

I chopped up some white onion and green pepper, and then eventually added in the leftover grilled veggies from the night before to get a little more color in there. The flavor was phenomenal.

Sauteed Bean Medley & Veggies

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My mom cooked up some of her signature (vegan) minestrone soup. Seriously guys, this stuff is like the best of the best. And the best part? She uses water as the broth. No high-sodium liquid here!

It’s packed with a million different veggies, including kale (instead of her usual spinach), and cannelli beans. This soup has so much flavor, and just the perfect amount of spicing.

Mommy’s Famous Minestrone Soup

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One afternoon for lunch, I had a delicious sweet potato with almond butter and cinnamon, alongside apples. A whole bunch of favorites thrown into one. How ideal.

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I experimented with a freshly bought watermelon that looked bad, by making a smoothie out of it! I cut out chunks and sliced up half an orange. The smoothie ended up tasting okay, but a little too pulpy for my liking.

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My work friend, Paula, and I returned to MOM’s Organic Market for some more lunch goodies. I tried the “Moaler Bowl” this time and she tried the “Lin Bowl.”

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I also tried an aloe vera drink that Paula had recommended. I always knew that aloe was good for burned skin, but I never knew that it could hydrate you from the inside out, allowing for your insides to soak up nutrients better.

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One evening, I ran to Whole Foods with my dad and picked up something from the veggie bar to add to my meal for the night. Perfection at it’s finest.

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My meal included chile pepper grilled tofu, grilled zucchini, asparagus, bell pepper, and pomegranate farro salad (Organic Superfood Grain Salad).

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And had it the next day for lunch, as well. Super refreshing.

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Oh, and I invented this new dessert. Blend 15 dates, cocoa powder, steel cut oats, cinnamon and almond oil. And bam! Yummy chocolate paste. Tastes better than it looks, I promise!

Chocolate Oats Date Paste

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While my mom was at her fitness convention for the weekend, my dad took my brother and I out to Guapo’s, a delicious local Mexican restaurant. I had veggie fajitas, with no sour cream, cheese or “Mexican butter,” my go-to Mexican meal.

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I tried the blueberry muffin Larabar (microwaved 15 seconds). Delicious, as expected.

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I had another sweet potato with almond butter and walnuts. I don’t see this combo getting old anytime soon.

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I went to Cava Mezze again with Paula and decided to enjoy our bowls outside, in front of the Angelika Theater screen. It was just playing commercials and movie previews, but it was still so nice. We felt like we were at an outdoor movie! (An experience I have yet to actually have)

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Yesterday evening, I met a group of my sorority sisters, that live around Northern Virginia, at the Tysons’ Cheesecake Factory. Not my ideal vegan-friendly restaurant, but you gotta roll with the punches, like anything in life. It’s a lovely establishment, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t have the best vegan options. I found that there are actually plenty of vegan restaurant review sites that are super helpful. I found one that gave me an outline of what I can order and how to order certain items to be vegan at whatever restaurant I might want to/have to go to.

I ended up getting their veggie burger in a lettuce wrap, rather than their bun, AND a fire roasted artichoke. Both delicious.

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As far as work outs go, I’ve been running almost every morning, except for Sundays. When I do, I’ve been switching up between running 3 miles steady and running 2 miles in sprint intervals. I’ve been finding that I like the sprint intervals better because I feel like I get a better work out and in half the time.

It’s been a good change of pace. Literally. 😉

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Afterward, I’ve been doing more balanced strengthening exercises. I’ve been trying to include more arm and leg workouts, not just all abs. I’ve been working on my squats, but for whatever reason, my body is super challenged when it comes to doing them. I try so hard, but can never get that full, deep squat position. Maybe one day.

For now, wall sits have been that staple leg killer. I’ve made my way up to 2 minutes, and this is post-run. Yeah…ow.

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I also went to Bikram Yoga on Monday evening  with my one of my VT roommates, Jen, and am about to head there now. Boy, have I missed it! Last monday’s class left me feeling so amazing. I loved the instructor and felt like I was performing at my best. I think I’ve slowly been able to reach that deeper, desired level of focus in the standing series and relaxation in the savasanas.

I remember when I first started yoga, all bright eyed and bushy-tailed, looking around in confusion to everyone’s odd stillness and focus, unable to get in that necessary yoga state. It’s a mindset that you must be conditioned to have, I’ve learned. Not until you are able to get there will you really appreciate all that yoga has to offer.

Also, I took my final exam for my Econ class this morning, and just need to turn in my final paper tomorrow, and I’ll be done with my third summer class! Just in time for Fall semester to start! Perfect. Lol.

Well I know that was a lot, but I’ve been slacking with my posts.

Have a nice, relaxing evening everyone. Catch ya later!

My 1 Month Veganniversary

Good afternoon everyone!

So, today marks my one month anniversary of eating vegan! Where has the time gone?

Looking back, I was a little bit nervous to try veganism out, as I had so many people warn me that it’s unhealthy or that I wouldn’t be getting enough protein or that I would look emaciated. What I’ve learned through out my experience is that those are all wrong, wrong, and wrong. Of course if you don’t eat a balanced diet, any of that could happen, no matter what kind of diet you lead.

It’s all about being informed! Half the stuff I know now, I had no clue about prior to eating vegan. It’s a learning process.

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For today’s post, I thought I would include the most common questions vegans get asked, as I’m sure plenty of you have these questions.

  • Where do you get your protein? 

“You’ve got to hand it to meat and dairy industry advertisers; they have a product to sell and that product is high in protein. They have accomplished one of the greatest deceptions of the American public, scaring us into believing that you must have animal’s protein (and lots of it) to survive, build muscle, have healthy babies and so on. It is simply not true. Plant protein is not inferior or even scarce. Plant protein is abundant and if you’re eating a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you’re getting it.” -One Green Planet

I get my protein from legumes, whole grain, and veggies, and plenty of it!

  •  Isn’t it natural to eat animals?

“We are evolving. We now live in houses, use computers, freeze our food; would any of this be considered “natural?” The more we learn about the abundant benefits of not eating animal products, the less “natural” they will seem.” -One Green Planet

We don’t go out and hunt our prey like natural carnivores do, nor do we salivate and think about dinner when we see roadkill. Humans were not created as carnivorous beings, but have simply evolved to be that way by the food industry.

  •  What DO you eat?

Everything besides meat, dairy and eggs! There are so many vegan options. After going vegan, most people discover more variety in their diet than ever before. Healthy options include whole grains, like rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth and so many more. Then there’s pastas, breads, polenta, tempeh, setain, tofu, and beans galore. AND nuts (my personal favorite)! Then, of course, there are loads of fruits and veggies to choose from. Going to health food stores can also really open up your eyes to all the possibilities!

  •  Isn’t vegan food expensive?

“Beans, rice, bread, and pasta are some of the least expensive foods in the supermarket. Where it starts to get pricy is with the faux meats and cheeses that are highly processed and not all that good for you (although it’s healthier than meat!). They should be eaten sparingly anyway.”

The large quantities of produce is where it gets a little pricey, but here are my thoughts: I would rather spend a few extra dollars on my grocery bill now then hundreds of thousands of dollars on triple by-pass surgery or chemo in the future, not to mention the suffering of a chronic degenerative disease.

“You can reduce your chances of this terrible fate significantly, all while protecting animals and helping save the planet. I would say that is worth a few extra bucks.” -One Green Planet

  •  Aren’t vegans scrawny and weak?

Contrary to popular belief, you can build muscle on any protein, animal or plant. The list of incredible vegan athletes may open your eyes a little, as well as vegan body builders and vegan world champion ultra-marathoners.

“There is no nutrient in animal products that can’t be found in a superior plant source. Superior, because plant foods are high in fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals, and unlike animal products, contain no cholesterol or high saturated fat. Generally, when people are “feeling low energy” and think they need protein, they just need calories. Even the American Dietetic Association proves that there is no need for meat to build muscle.” -One Green Planet

  •  Isn’t it hard to stay vegan when your travel?

No matter where you are traveling, within the U.S. or abroad, you can almost always find vegan food. You may have to dig a little deeper, put forth a little more effort, but you’ll always find something.

Going out to restaurants can be tricky as well, but they will almost always try to accommodate you with something, even if it’s not on the menu. A tip I’ve heard is to tell the wait staff you are allergic to grab their attention a little better. A little white lie sometimes will do the trick.

If you can, though, the key is to plan in advance. If you’re planning a trip, research the dining options, and always pack snacks if you’re able to.

  • Aren’t your shoes leather (car interior, couch, wallet, etc.)?

In other words, the person is asking “Aren’t you a hypocrite?” As for all things in life, we must pick our battles. All vegans are different. Some choose to focus more on what they are eating, rather than the products they are using in their day to day lives.

We do what we can, and avoiding meat, dairy and eggs is a noble endeavor, no matter what degree you take it to or what you wear on your feet.

Now that you have all these answers, I’ll fill you in on some amazing vegan benefits, or veganefits. 😉

The vegan lifestyle has a world of benefits:

  • Stay thin without even trying
  • Healthy, clear skin
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Aging process slows
  • Stronger immune system
  • Cures physical ills
  • Chances of chronic diseases drastically decreases
  • Cheaper medical costs
  • AND so many more! 

And incase you still aren’t sure about this whole vegan/vegetarian thing, here are some people you might be familiar with that are.

Famous vegans:

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There’s Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Jane Goodall, Upton Sinclair, Leo Tolstoy, Leonardo da Vinci, Mike Tyson, Ricky Williams, Pamela Anderson, Ellen DeGeneres, Carrie Underwood, Paul McCartney, and Prince, to name a few, plus so many more!

I hope you were able to learn a little today! I’ll be off celebrating this special day and marking in my health history.

I feel fit, fabulous, and just as energetic as ever! I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s easier than you may think.

This vegan is out!

“Dieting”

You often hear the phrase “dieting” thrown around a lot. Often times, it’s by the female population, whether in preparation for a special event, bathing suit season or a sporadic decision to lose weight for one reason or another.

It’s actually one of my biggest pet peeves.

Here’s the thing–

Dieting does not work, nor does it make sense.

A temporary way of eating is going to give you temporary results. Obviously if you are doing any type of “dieting” in the first place, you aren’t pleased with your current self and are not going to want him/her back anytime soon.

Often times too, the way people diet is completely unhealthy and unsustainable.

For example, eating minimal calories per day will cause your metabolism to slow down, making your body burn calories slower, slowing down any possible weight loss. You feel fatigued, so that wipes out any possible exercise you were going to do…and so you get the point. It’s bad news.

If you’re unhappy with your body and your health, the key is to change your habits, your diet, and eventually your outlook and lifestyle as a whole. Permanently. Slowly make healthier, more wholesome choices and ween yourself off of processed, packaged junk food.

I know easier said than done, but I really believe that the best way to begin this process is to educate yourself. Do some googling, watch some documentaries, maybe even pick up a good health book (The China Study, anyone?). Often times, people do the things they do because they simply don’t know. And it’s sad, but that can easily be changed.

It’s also important to keep in mind this statistic:

Your physique is 20% exercise and 80% diet.

Work out all you want, but if you’re eating a bunch of crap, at the end of the day, you are no better than you were at the beginning. And people wonder why they aren’t losing weight…

It’s harsh, but diet (not “dieting”) is just that important.

What are you?

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We’re so fortunate to have the power to choose what goes into our bodies, our temples. We have the power to prevent deathly diseases through the very choices we make.

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Changing your diet for the better only leads to wonderful things, which produces more wonderful things. It’s an endless cycle of wonderful feel good-ness.

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Don’t be afraid or intimidated to try new things. Keep an open mind, because that’s what change will require you to have.

I’m not trying to sound preachy, but people need to know this stuff. I’ve heard the phrase “dieting” one too many times and just want to jump out of my chair and scream at the person, and then of course proceed to give them a briefing on health and nutrition.

You need to want it for yourself. Be your own motivation. Don’t let other people at the beach be your motivation. Change your ways to impress you. That’s the only way this will work.

How about for starters we say “I’m feeling fat. I think I may tweak my diet a bit.” Now that’s a little better.

Alrighty, well CHOW for now.