Calm After the Stress Storm of a Week

This past week was hectic to say the very least. With two exams, an interview and homework on homework, I felt that I barely had time to focus on basic needs, let alone my food and fitness (not okay).

I know I always say no excuses, that you can always make time for something if it means enough to you…BUT sometimes life really does hand you lemons, and all you can do while you’re busy with schoolwork is squeeze the juice you can get out with the time you have, delaying the making of that good ‘ol lemonade we all know and love.

I did what I could this week, with the time I had to spare, but it definitely didn’t cut it in my book.

Although being a college student is awesome, I’m also looking forward to my time after college, and truly being able to focus on my well being, making my way to exactly where I want to be health and fitness-wise, without academic distractions.

For the time being though, I’ve been making a lot of this stuff…vegan go-to’s.

Little Italy Quinoa

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  • Cooked quinoa
  • Chopped, sauteed garlic
  • Chopped, sauteed onions
  • Sauteed tomatoes
  • Sauteed spinach leaves
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Italian seasoning

All sauteed in a pan with olive oil! (the usual)

Little Italy Quinoa + Chick Peas

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I simply added the balsamic roasted chickpeas to the mix and heated all the flavors together from my leftover quinoa dish.

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Chickpea-Spinach Burger on Multi-grain Baguette 

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As I mentioned previously, my mom brought me down about 20 of her specialty chickpea-spinach burgers that I love so much when she visited a couple of weeks ago. This time I heated some fresh frozen multigrain baguette she also brought me on her trip. I added in some hummus and spinach to the mix as well. You can never have too much hummus or spinach, as far as I’m concerned.

Study Snack Platter

After my Thursday evening exam, I ran to Kroger to replenish my stock, and came home to snack on this little feast.

  • Baby carrots
  • Red grapes
  • Multi-grain crackers
  • Sabra Pine Nut Hummus (my fav!)

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Apple Almond Butter Cinnamon Cereal Masterpiece

This combination is one of my favorites in the morning. It packs a crispy, sweet, tangy wholesome crunch that’s also cool and refreshing.

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As the week dragged on, with hour after hour of studying, I found myself getting pretty stressed out. My solution to everything and anything in life these days has been candles. I light them in the day, at night, while studying, while bathing, while getting ready. Their subtle flicker and soothing scent calms me, and gets me to a healthier, clearer state of mind.

The candle pictured below is the one I keep on my desk, my study candle. This “Star Jasmine” scent is one of my favorites and the ceramic design is just darling. I have a total of 13 candles in my room and bathroom, all varying earthy scents. You could say I’m a fan.

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Finally the weekend came and I got to sit back and relax, sort of. Saturday morning was Virginia Tech’s “Greeks Giving Back,” where greek organizations are assigned projects within the Blacksburg community as a way to give back and carry out VT’s motto, “ut prosim” (that I may serve). Whether painting a fence, raking leaves, washing windows or cars, it’s a great way to get more hands on in the community and get to know the residents. I found it to be such a rewarding Saturday morning.

…rewarding enough to treat myself to a Soy Pumpkin Spice Latte! It’s a must once fall rolls around.

The picture defines my morning well: #PSL and work gloves.

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Later on Saturday, some of my sorority sisters and I headed to Chipotle! I hadn’t had Chipotle in what seemed like forever, so I was pretty pumped. What my vegan Chipotle order looks like (in line order):

  • Salad please (bed of lettuce)
  • Brown rice
  • Black beans
  • Fajita Veggies
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Medium salsa
  • Guac (free w/ veggie order!)
  • More lettuce

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Apple PB Nutty Cinnamon Oats

  • Steel cut oats
  • Diced granny smith apple
  • Almond milk
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • PB2
  • Flax meal
  • Chia seeds
  • Cinnamon

Microwave for 3 minutes. Indulge.

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Exercise

Lately, my work outs have only consisted of running, as that’s all I’ve felt like I have had time to do. If I am not able to wake up and go before class, which is preferable, I will try and take a study break and get out for 30 minutes or so.

It’s easy to forget how crucial working out is to proper, healthy functioning while overwhelmed with a “hell week.” I find myself much more uptight and stressed out when I skip a work out. Exercising really is the perfect study break. My focus is improved after I work out and I find I’m more energized, as less yawning occurs.

🙂

Well, I have my sorority chapter meeting in a little, and afterward I’m heading to the gym! I haven’t been to the on-campus gym, McComas, in a little over a week, so you could say I’m pretty excited…like hood up, headphones in, music blasting excited. Can’t wait.

Chow for now!

How do you stay calm, cool and collected when times get stressful?

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Two Weeks Too Long

Long time, no see!

It’s been a while since my last post, so I do apologize for that.

My life in Blacksburg has been a whirl wind since the semester began. I never would have thought I would be too busy to blog. I didn’t even think that was a real thing.

Let’s get back into it though, shall we? I’ll try my best to catch you up from the past two weeks.

Here’s the roomies and I tailgating for the first home game! How good it feels to be back in Hokie Ball season!

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Don’t worry guys, I brought a snack for the game! A long day of football will make for a hungry girl.

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I finally tried the Amy’s soy cheese pizza I picked up a little while ago! It honestly tasted the same, granted I accidentally overcooked it, so it was all a bit dark and crunchy.

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I’ve been staying busy with fun events through my sorority as well! Obviously we’re not ready to let summer go just yet.

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I’ve made sure to continue my cookings, no worries! Yay for quinoa! This bowl included quinoa, spinach, tomatoes and garlic with a bit of Italian seasoning.

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My lovely, amazing mother came to visit last week and brought along her infamous Kangoo Jumps boots! After a trial fitness class with some of my girlfriends and mom, we all bounced around and had a mini class taught by the woman herself…in the parking lot outside the fitness studio, because why not?

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I tried this as a sub for my post-workout chocolate milk. It was delish, but I’d still have to say chocolate coconut water steals the show post workout.

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Incase you were wondering, my roommates and I have 4 shelves in our pantry, so naturally each of us get one. I claimed the top one…..and I bet they’re happy I did now. I guess you could say I have a bit of an array.

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My business fraternity executive board meeting was held at Panera, as our advisor was meeting and treating us. This was my first trip to Panera as a vegan, so I was a little skeptical on what all I could get. Here is what I ended up chowing on.

  • Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (with no feta cheese & on whole wheat bread)
  • Garden Veggie Pesto Soup
  • Apple

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Of course my mom came bearing gifts. I had been craving real licorice for what seemed like the entire summer and we couldn’t find any anywhere–only that Twizzler bogus. BUT FINALLY she found these absolutely scrumptious RJ’s Licorice Logs, I believe at Whole Foods.

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She also brought 20+ premade chickpea spinach burgers, my favorite. No, they are really nothing like a burger, but their taste is phenomenal.

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I toasted up some Ezekial 7 Sprouted Grain bread, lathered on some hummus, mushed on my chickpea spinach burger and loaded on the kale. All ready to eat.

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She also brought down containers full of her famous minestrone soup, another favorite of mine. These two things have brought so much joy to my days. You have no idea.

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Although I’ve only been in Blacksburg for a short time, I scheduled to visit my friends in Boone, NC, at Appalachian State, where I went freshman year, months back. I hadn’t seen them in almost a year and it’s always so nice being back to that beautiful, mountainous town.

On the trip down, I snacked on my favorite flavor Larabar, Peanut Butter Cookie.

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I got so excited when I saw the sign! Boone, here I come!

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The drive from Blacksburg to Boone is easily one of the prettiest, as you rise about 2000 feet in elevation as you go.

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Upon my request, we went to this amazing, little vegetarian restaurant in Boone called Hob Knob. I love all that they stand for. They only accept cash, do not serve high fructose corn syrup and get all their foods from local farmers, not to mention the creativeness of all their dishes.

Here was their specials menu. I ended up ordering the Butternut-Apple Enchiladas.

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The apples, spinach and butternut squash was an interesting combo, as I’d never had a sweet enchilada, but it was quite yummy.

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Here are my Boone besties! How I’ve missed them!

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So I went to Panera again, this time for breakfast, as it was right behind their Boone apartment. I knew I wanted to get oatmeal and this apple chip cinnamon one is their latest and greatest so I figured I’d give it a go. I wasn’t expecting it to be as sweet as it was. Compared to the oatmeal I usually eat, this was a treat. It was perfectly warming for that cool crisp fall morning though.

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We headed off to the local farmer’s market after Panera, and I was loving every second of it. Farmer’s markets are the coolest.

How much more fall can you get?

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These produce photos definitely got me thinking, I would love to have veggie art in my home…

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Before I left to head back to Blacksburg, we did a quick hike to Rough Ridge on Sunday morning. I’ve missed the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Rough Ridge has to be one of my favorite views. Pretty pretty, huh?

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Upon purchasing some pumpkin butter at the Boone  farmer’s market, I knew I had to incorporate it in my breakfast Monday morning, so I whipped up some pumpkin butter oats!

  • Steel cut oats
  • Pumpkin butter
  • PB2
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax meal
  • Almond milk
  • Cinnamon sprinkle

…along side some coconut creamer’d Sbux House blend coffee.

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Here was a tasty salad of mine. Chick peas never get old to me. They’re like a best friend you somehow never get sick of.

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This time I added my leftover spaghetti squash and chickpeas, both heated, and tossed on some cool tomatoes and cucumbers for a bit of a refresher. Scrum-diddly-umptious.

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Along with my own cooking, I’ve been eating on campus from time to time. This salad from Soup Garden has been my go-to. Same as last year’s go-to, but with tofu instead of salmon. #veganlife

[spinach, carrots, cukes, roasted almonds, pickled ginger, smoked tofu & champagne vinaigrette]

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Well that was a bit lengthy…woops. Hopefully I won’t have to catch you up on another whole 2 weeks again.

I think it’s fair to give myself a 1 blog post per week minimum. That way, both my readers and I are content. Deal? Perfect.

Last night was my sorority’s date party and today was the second home football game, so as you might imagine, I’m a little worn out.

It’s time for this one to do a little bit of chillaxing.

Chow for now!

Kale Me Maybe

Happy 2 Month Veganniversary to me!

It seems like just yesterday I was preparing for my “vegan week” trial, and now I feel legit, like just one of the regular cult members. Just kidding.

That IS what I thought about veganism a little bit before I educated myself on it through articles and documentaries. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I highly recommend Forks Over Knives and Vegucated (both on Netflix), as those are the documentaries that initially inspired my revolutionary vegan week, and my eventual switch over to strictly plant-based foods.

I thought I would mark this special day in my health history with a special tribute to one of the best leafy greens out there, my good pal Kale.

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Kale is one of the superfood leafy greens, providing a great source of betacarotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium. Just like spinach, it’s extremely versatile and super green.

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I got this HUGE bag from Kroger the other day, partially because it was a good deal, partially because I just finished my bag of spinach and wanted to switch things up.

Just like spinach, I can make a salad out of it, cook it in a sauté stir fry thing, with pasta, grains, and can even blend it in smoothies or juices. Sadly, I forgot my Magic Bullet blade at home, so there will be an unfortunate standby on the liquid form.

The Big Bowl of Vegan

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Here I added even more to my quinoa/mushroom/brussel sprout dish from Sunday: tomatoes, roasted chickpeas, additional garlic, and KALE! I like that it stays a little more in tact than spinach when heated. Definite perk.

Black Beans & Kale

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Here we have a spin off my usual delicious black beans, with sauteed onions, tomatoes, and seasoning. This time, wait for it……..with KALE! Again, wonderful.

This is a great chart I found from one of the health insta accounts I follow. Although I know I’ve mentioned the many sources of protein available in a vegan diet in previous posts, this graphic just dives a bit deeper. So much variety…who knew? Vegans.

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If I had to give any cooking-as-a-vegan inside scoop, I would say that the easiest way to incorporate as much variety as possible is with a stir fry. Literally just chop it all up and throw it in a pan with oil (preferably olive or grape seed) and stir/let sit until cooked to your satisfaction. Season if desired. Then comes the most important part: EAT.

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Before I go, I’ll leave you with this awesome find. You can thank Good Will.

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Chow, and happy almost weekend! We’re almost there!

First WIAW @ School

Happy Hump Day!

This is how my accounting professor greeted us earlier today, and then proceeded to imitate the camel that apparently says this. It was great.

As for today’s theme, thanks to Peas and Crayons, I will get on to showing you what I ate (thru the week thus far). This is my first ever “What I Ate Wednesday” at school! Excited yet? I knew you would be.

Let’s start with dessert, how it should be.

I have been meaning to try more products by So Delicious, a fabulous dairy free brand I’ve been getting my coffee creamer from, and so I finally did! Surprise, surprise, this ice cream was delicious (maybe the company name isn’t so coincidental). Yes, that is fresh mint on top of my ice cream. How fancy am I?

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Here was my coffee from one morning, along with my delicious coconut creamer by So Delicious. I seriously recommend! I actually just picked up the original, so I’m excited to try that one out.

As far as coffee goes, I try to add as little as possible, as all the extra flavor things is what makes it bad for you. I’ve been sticking to this creamer alone, and if I do need a little sweetness, I add Truvia.

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This is one of my absolute favorite combos on campus: the Jamba Juice smoothie & steel cut oats. Yesterday I got the Acai Super Antioxidant paired with the Brown Sugar steel cut oats. It’s the ideal study snack. I’m usually seen eating this alone studying in my favorite study spot, Torg Bridge (for all you Hokies!).

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Later when I arrived home, to my home sweet apartment, I heated up some of that quinoa dish I made Sunday night, but added tomatoes, as I realized that that is what it had been missing this whole time. You live and you learn. #realkitchentalk

*Dish includes quinoa, chopped garlic, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, tomatoes & seasoning.

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Another snack at some point was the banana bread Larabar, topped with natural Maranatha peanut butter. I had never tried this flavor before, but boy, do I approve! It was so close to actually having freshly baked banana bread, it was scary.  P.S. I always heat my Larabars up for 15 seconds in the microwave before eating. Oh, and the PB was a nice touch.

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Before I went running yesterday, I made some protein oats!

This included steel cut oats, Plant Power chocolate protein, chia seeds, flax meal, mixed nuts, almond butter, cinnamon, PB2 & almond milk.

Yes, I realized that is a lot of almond butter, but when you’re having a craving, sometimes it just feels right to go all out.

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*Note: the oats I make are always SO filling, enough so that I underestimate them sometimes. I had to wait almost a full two hours before I ran because I was so full after this bowl.

Rest asure, I ate more than this so far this week. These are just the items that looked cool or pretty enough for me to snap a picture of.

I hope you enjoyed looking through what I’ve been chowing on lately.

I have an executive board meeting now for my business fraternity to discuss our goals  for this semester. How exciting!

Chow.

That College Kid Grind

I hope everyone is having a marvelous Monday, and if you weren’t, you are now that you’ve stopped by, I hope!

The second week of school has begun and things are finally starting to kick into full gear. I have homework from almost every class, my sorority and business fraternity have events left and right, and Hokie football season has now officially begun! It’s gonna be a busy, busy semester, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Now that the semester has really begun, I have been reminded of the cold, hard facts. Maintaining the diet and exercise I prefer, that I am able to during the summer months at home, is a bit more of a challenge here. Of course, it’s a challenge I’m fully willing to accept. Health should never be sacrificed. We all just gotta do the best we can.

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I’m no newbie when it comes to a fully loaded college schedule, but as I’ve grown in my understanding of health and fitness, I’ve adapted different habits, interests and likes that make the typical college kid lifestyle not so appealing.

From the ever so frequent time crunches, the late nights, the ongoing activities, the lack of funds, and the abundant, delicious Virginia Tech dining hall options, eating clean and optimal exercise doesn’t necessarily come as easy. I will say though, I’ve been doing my best and am pretty proud of the job I’ve done so far.

I try to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before my 10:10 AM class (approx. 3 miles interval training), so then Tuesday and Thursday when I have 8 AM’s, I find something else to do, whether it be going to McComas Rec Center, or running later in the day. Weekends have been a bit lazy around here lately, but I’ll hopefully be changing that.

The meal plan I purchased allows me 10 meals a week, which is more than I will need. My plan is to eat about one meal (lunch) on campus each day, plus an occasional coffee or a smoothie, and the rest will carry over into spring semester.

On-campus favorites:

For all of you Hokies reading, Turner Place is hands down my favorite place to go, partially for its convenience to the academic side of campus, but mostly because of its delicious, healthy options and beautiful facility. I think most of you can agree.

  • Turner Place Soup Garden salads
  • Turner Place Jamba Juice smoothies & steel cut oats

This was a pomegranate paradise smoothie & brown sugar oats. My go-to’s.

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  • Owen’s salad bar
  • Owen’s mexican bowl

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  • ABP/Dulce’s soy latte

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Below was actually today’s lunch: coffee from earlier that morning and a Clif bar, as I had to skip out to finish a homework assignment due that afternoon– a perfect example of unideal conditions. You just gotta roll with the punches, people.Image

On top of that VT meal plan, I have gone to the grocery store about once a week so far to pick up some necessary and a few not so necessary items. Just this year I discovered the wonderfully huge and fancy Kroger down South Main, or “Gucci Kroger” as VT students call it. This store has a great selection of produce and two whole aisles of natural foods. I’ve actually found that section to be quite dangerous for my wallet.

This was after yesterday’s haul, alongside my roommate, Bong. I think she was going for the “just another piece of produce” look.

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I’ve found a new favorite, a tolerable version of this super drink I’m always hearing about. I think it kind of tastes like chocolate milk, but that’s also coming from a girl that hasn’t had dairy in almost two months. Lol.

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Obviously with all these groceries comes some lovely kitchen concoctions. Here are a few I remembered to snap a pic of.

These were seeds from a spaghetti squash dish I made that I forgot to snap a pic of. I was telling my roommates getting the seeds out is more difficult than actually preparing the spaghetti squash. Truth. But they are just such a tasty, pop-able snack, and good for ya!

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Baked sweet potato w/ cinnamon & garlic basil spinach brown rice

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Sauteed veggie medley w/ chickpeas

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Sauteed garlic brussel sprouts, mushrooms and quinoa

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Natural PB w/ chia seeds, flax meal and cinnamon on Ezekail 7 Sprouted Grain Bread & apple slices

P.S. I’ve always heard about this special outstandingly healthy bread, but am just now finally trying it! So, so good. I approve.

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Now as far as eating vegan, I’m pretty used to it at this point and haven’t had any issues. It’s really not that difficult, and reaps SO many benefits or veganefits. I rarely even find myself thinking about the things I used to have so often (greek yogurt, eggs, salmon, etc).

Of course I prefer cooking in the comfort of my kitchen, knowing exactly what is being put in my food, but it’s college. I’m gonna go out every once in a while. That’s a given. I just have to know where I’m going in advance to see what I can get. No biggie.

But if it’s up to me, Gillie’s in downtown Blacksburg is the place to go. This restaurant is number one in my book. I can say that almost every single item on their menu sounds delicious. Here’s one of my favorites, the Gillie’s Burger. The burger is served on a chick pea bun with fresh cole slaw in sesame ginger vinaigrette. Yum!

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It’s almost been two months since I made the switch and I feel fabulous. I’m actually shocked myself to think I’ve been a vegan for that long. Wowzers.

I seriously encourage everyone to try a vegan week, as your own personal growth experiment. That’s how it all started for me!

Anyways, I’m off to do a little more homework and then it’s bedtime for this sleepy girl. This one’s got an 8 AM class tomorrow morning. Wee…

Chow for now!