Virginia Tech: The Fittest College in the U.S.

Good afternoon folks and happy fall break to my fellow Hokies!

Yes, it’s true. Virginia Tech, the lovely and amazing university I attend, was ranked #1 in 50 Fittest Colleges 2013 by The Active Times. In no way am I surprised by this. I’ve always gotten that vibe, but being officially told how fit we are feels pretty darn good. I know this because— everywhere you go, no matter what time of day, Blacksburg sidewalks are filled with runners, our gyms are always packed, and our award-winning dining halls are always loaded with healthy, organic options for the health-conscious student, like myself. It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by people that recognize the importance of staying  healthy and fit. I don’t think I could’ve picked a more fitting school.

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Honestly, what fit list isn’t Virginia Tech on? This school’s got dining halls dedicated to organically grown, sustainable food systems, an exceptionally athletic and active student body, and according to the Princeton Review, it’s home to some of the happiest students in the entire nation. Oh, and of course there’s more. With multiple top-ten ratings on college healthy dining lists across the board (one student said, “Honestly, this campus is perfect in terms of food.”), a handful of continually successful Division I varsity sports teams, and nods from the Princeton Review for an exceptionally high quality of life, VT barely had to blink an eye to earn the top spot on our list. Go Hokies!
—Katie Rosenbrock

As if that wasn’t enough, Virginia Tech was also ranked #3 of the 25 healthiest colleges in the U.S. this past April by Greatist.

This weekend is Fall Break, as in Virginia Tech allowed us a measly one day off of school. I’ll take what I can get though. To my surprise, most students went home. Personally, I figured I would use this extended weekend to relax, stay put and do the things I haven’t been able to lately with the busyness of school.

Yesterday morning I hiked Dragon’s Tooth, one of the three most popular hiking trails in the New River Valley, with a group of friends that all stayed in Blacksburg for break. Let me tell you, this 4.8 mile round trip hike is no walk in the park. Scaling vertical rock sheets, pulling yourself through caves and stepping up two to four foot rocks is the majority of the hike; and will really do your booty some justice! Once we reached the top, it was stunning. There’s no better feeling than that sense of accomplishment you feel after hiking a challenging trail,  reaching the top and admiring the beauty amongst the high elevation. Dragon’s Tooth looks exactly how it sounds. The peak of the trail is atop the vertical rock formation, where we sat for at least half an hour admiring the view.

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Once we regained our composure, we then had to scale the rocks back down, which is even worse and 10 times more dangerous. I can easily say I felt like I was going to slip and fall a good five or six times. I survived though, don’t worry. It’s just a trail you can’t zoom through. Caution is key.

Hiking was a great way to spend my morning and afternoon, being in the great outdoors, getting some exercise with my fellow fit Hokies. The fact that students want to do these kind of activties on their days off really means something, and probably has a little to do with our number one spot on the college fit rankings.

This morning I headed to McComas, our main rec center on campus, for a nice workout. This time though, I tried something different from my norm. Following along with my friend Ryan for his “leg day,” I did a whole lot more weight lifting than I am used to, and loved it! I do currently feel like I can’t walk, but that only means I worked my butt off today. Literally. Go me!

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After a one mile warm-up jog, we headed to the weight room.

Leg day consisted of:

  • Squats
  • Leg presses
  • Front squats
  • Leg extensions
  • Lunges
  • Romanian dead lifts

Being a beginner weight lifter, I used minimal weight and focused on my form.

We finished up with some ab exercises and stretching. When I got to my usual ab routine, I noticed that my abs were already worn out. I guess leg day also managed to hit my abs as well. Colleen likey.

I definitely enjoyed the change of pace from my normal cardio-heavy workouts. I can definitely see myself incorporating weight lifting into my routine. I’ve been wanting to add variation to my workouts for some time now and I think this is just what the doctor ordered. 😉

All in all, I’ve been having a great Fall break thus far, couldn’t be more proud to call myself a Hokie and am excited to see where weight lifting will take me. I’m so grateful to be in an environment where my love for health and fitness does not go unmet, with the abundance of fellow fitness freaks and foodies that surround me. #hokiepride

Ya c-how-[my Hokies and]-I-do?

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Big’s GF Vegan Chocolate Chunk Birthday Cookies

Greetings and happy Wednesday everyone!

Today is my big sister, Kristen, in my sorority’s 21st birthday. Hooray! Who doesn’t love birthdays?

Aren’t we just adorable together? This was during last night’s celebration!

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Naturally, gifts are in order, and since her lovely little (me!) is not of drinking age, she had to go with option number two. Dessert. Kristen loves sweets, just like her little, and so I knew what I had to do.

She’s gluten-free and I’m vegan, so I knew an alternative to the normal birthday treat was in order.

I stopped by the natural foods section of the nearby Kroger and grabbed this cookie mix.

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Now I usually would have made these cookies from scratch, but with the time crunch of college happenings, the mix served as the convenient option.

It called for 1 egg and 1 stick of butter alongside the mix. This would have been just fine if I wasn’t also trying to make these cookies vegan, partially for my own experimental reasons, partially because I haven’t had a cookie in months and felt like I deserved one.

I suited up (my apron fastened) and got down to business.

Vegan alternative baking ingredients:

  • 1 egg= 1 tb flax meal & 3 tb water heated (microwaved for 30 sec)

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  • 1 stick of butter= 7 tb coconut oil heated (microwaved for 20 seconds)

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I decided last second to add two heaping spoonfuls of my delicious Maranatha peanut butter to the mix, and realized what a fabulous decision that was once they were done. Mmmmmm.

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Pre-oven

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Post-oven

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I added Reese’s PB Cups to a few just as they came out of the oven, as those are her favorite candies. They aren’t vegan, but I guess they are for her…

Since it is her 21st, I figured I would at least get her the appropriate gift bag. It may be misleading, as I filled it with her favorite candy, but it at least fits the occasion.

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GF Vegan PB Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flax meal and water in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave mixture for 30 seconds. Microwave coconut oil for 20 seconds. Add in peanut butter. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Scoop out and onto a greased pan (more coconut oil). Place in oven for 16-18 minutes. Enjoy!

This was my snack (kind of dinner thing) while I was baking last night. Of course.

Spinach leaves w/ Italian herb balsamic roasted chickpeas on top 🙂

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I have to say those cookies were the best vegan dessert I have had yet. Maybe I haven’t had a dessert with eggs or dairy in months now, but this tasted like the real thing to me. It must have been all that coconut oil.

It’s easy to forget that not all things vegan are healthy. Case in point: french fries. BUT Vegans have to limit treats too, just like anybody else. Not having dairy, meat or eggs in the food’s list of ingredients does not mean its amazing for you. It does however eliminate majority of foods that aren’t.

Again, sorry I’ve been MIA, but by now, I’m sure I’ve apologized enough for my hectic schedule at school and lack of blog posts for you to get the jist of where I’m going next. I’m doing the best I can! I promise.

Maybe I’ll see you soon? Hopefully.

Chow!

Tempeh Times Tuesday

Happy Tuesday and Happy October 1!

I hope you enjoyed that fabulous alliteration of a title. If you haven’t noticed from previous posts, alliterations are my favorite literary device, so I try to use them as often as possible. They’re just too fun to pass up.

I cannot believe it’s already October…how time has flown! All of these tests I’ve been taking have been titled “Midterm” or “Midterm 1,” which slightly freaks me out. I feel like the semester just started and here we are mid term already? I don’t know about this nonsense.

Let’s switch directions to food, my happy place.

After the past couple of stressful, too-busy-to-do-anything weeks, I was wiped clean of all my produce and yummy, healthy foods. It was about time for me to restock. After my exam on Thursday evening, I went to Kroger and spent about an hour and a half roaming the aisles, looking at everything that caught my eye and of course, every nutrition label. As much as I love going to the grocery store with a friend, sometimes it’s nice to have no time constraints, to not feel pressured to rush for anyone. That is exactly what I was feeling last Thursday evening; enough so, that I spent almost double that of my usual grocery bill.

Among the copious amounts of cool food I bought, I picked up some tempeh. I had tempeh for my first time during my visit to Boone a couple of weeks back, and loved it! It was the closest thing to meat I’ve had since making the switch over to veganism.

So, here goes my tempeh experiment.

I looked up a few ways to go about cooking my tempeh, but I knew I could figure it out on my own. No biggie.

I also needed to use my spinach up, so adding a salad into the mix seemed like a good idea.

Here’s what I had to work with. The packaging also provides you with a description of tempeh if you are as clueless as I was a few weeks ago.

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I began with cutting the tempeh block into smaller pieces, then placing them in my marinade. My marinade consisted of soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds and ginger sesame sauce. I let sit for 20-25 minutes, but for future reference, I should have let it sit for longer (1+ hours) and kept it in a plastic bag to conceal all flavors.

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I transferred the tempeh to a sautéing pan smeared with coconut oil. I turned the heat to medium-low and let simmer with a close eye on it for about 20 minutes.

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I then covered the pan with a lid to speed up the cook time, as my tummy was getting a little impatient.

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While I was waiting, I created a peanut-soy dressing for my salad. This included PB2, water and soy sauce.

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Finally the tempeh was browned to my satisfaction and was ready to add to my lovely asian-style salad.

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Atop a bed of spinach leaves, pickled ginger, and almonds, I laid my tempeh, along with my peanut-soy dressing and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

The ginger and the asian-seasoned tempeh were perfect compliments of each other, a winning combination.

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My Asian Tempeh Salad

Ingredients

Tempeh=

  • Tempeh
  • Soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • Sesame ginger marinade
  • Coconut oil
  • sesame seeds

Salad=

  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • Pickled ginger
  • Raw almonds
  • Sesame seeds

Dressing=

  • PB2
  • Water
  • Soy sauce

Today, I whipped up an Asian Tempeh Salad Wrap with the tempeh I had leftover.

Using the new Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas I bought, I whipped up the salad I had last night almost to a tee.

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I microwaved the tortilla for about 2 minutes, as Ezekiel products are always fresh frozen. I then heated up the tempeh and after, placed the tempeh, pickled ginger, spinach, almonds, sesame seeds (and added carrots) and a little sprinkle of PB2 onto the tortilla.

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I wrapped it all up and it was good to go. I think I even preferred the salad in the wrap. The Ezekiel tortillas are fabulous. You can tell their quality when you’re eating them. I loved getting all the flavors from all the ingredients at once.

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I highly recommend trying tempeh if you haven’t already. It’s a great, wholesome source of protein and we all need variety in our diet, vegan or not, so might as well give it a shot.

I definitely intend on experimenting further with tempeh, so I’ll keep you posted!

Have a fabulous rest of your Tuesday, everyone! Chow.