Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Overdue

Hi all, it's been way too long since I've posted and I apologize for the lack of participation on my behalf. I just disappeared out of the blue due to the two jobs I've been juggling with and a full class schedule. First thing I want to mention! I have slowly phased out of the vegan diet because I wanted to add in what my body can handle at this moment. So far, I've added in eggs, seafood and some poultry - why is that? One, I tend to feel my worst when I eat fatty meat and heavily processed foods - so I've found out that the foods I've added back into my diet do not make me feel sick (I still drink my beloved green smoothies and juices, and have fresh fruits and veggies at every meal!!!!). And two, I am currently trying to "bulk" so that I can gain more muscle mass. I was so inspired by my brother's recent transformation...

Um...yeah. So this is what happens when you go into a cutting phase after a period of bulking phase. Props to him. I've been focusing more and more on dead lifts, bench presses, and squats - in order to improve my strength, as well as gains. The word "bulking" seems so off putting to a lot of women and I used to make faces at that word too. But the importance of muscle gains is crucial when that cutting phase/season comes around because it will definitely help me improve my body composition and allow me to reveal the lean muscles I've worked hard for :) Here are my stats right now:
  • Dead lifts: 150 at 5-8 reps
  • Squats: 180 at 5-8 reps
  • Bench press: 90 at 5-8 reps
I've come a long way since the times when I had a difficult time knowing what muscle groups to work out with certain exercises and struggled with lifting the bar off the racks. My upper body is definitely weak but I'm working on it. I've taken a break from weights when I was on my vegan diet and I hope those numbers will go up as I focus on heavy lifting & good eating habits. 

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Veganism? Let's Be Honest.

For the past 5-6 years, I was always going back and forth in terms of what I was eating and what I was not eating - eventually, I just grew out of the whole meat eating thing..just because I never enjoyed it anymore (I know, shocking). But I must say, I sure did learn a lot during this summer when I threw all animal-products and meat out the window (not literally). The 5 months of eating whole, plant-based foods positively affected my appearance as well as my "inner-self." What I noticed:

  1. Natural weight loss - yep, I didn't even have to try. I just ate whatever my heart desired and enjoyed every single bite. No counting calories, fat, or whatever the heck those fad diets tell you to count. By simply sticking with a lifelong diet of whole, plant based foods, your weight will come down as you reveal the lean body we are all meant to have! By the end of the summer, I had lost 17lbs in total!!
  2. You want abs? This goes with #1, along with the weight loss...there came the abs..or almost there abs. And do you wanna know something? Zero crunches. Just some planks here and there - mostly through my yoga practices. My fiber and water intakes were probably off the charts through all the juicy fruits and veggies - so it always kept things moving, if ya know what I mean. I also think that the fiber & water helped to keep my stomach looking as flat as it can be. I experienced no stomach issues! 
  3. Clear skin - Your complexion, the way your skin looks overall will change dramatically as you eat more leafy greens, colorful vegetables & fruit. I think my skin went through a "detox" period where I began to break out all of sudden, but now..my skin looks great even without the over the counter acne meds or prescribed pills. And according to some people - I'm "glowing." Thank you friends & family! (This is one of the last changes I noticed..I think it is because it takes a longer time for your body to flush all that junk out of your system).
  4. No alarm clock needed - my body is my own alarm clock now! I find it easier to wake up during the early hours without having to press the snooze button a million times.
  5. Taste preferences - The natural sugars in fruit, the "pure" tastes of fresh vegetables and other plant-based foods have altered my taste buds so that I am constantly craving all of these fresh produce when I'm ravenous. I rarely reach for brownies, or candy - processed/refined sugars! 
I love how much I learned about my body - and food in general. I'm so thankful to have had the encouragement from family and friends during my journey. However... the negatives? People would tell me how 'sad' it is that I can't eat certain foods, but I just don't want to eat it. I prefer to eat something that's pure, unprocessed, and unrefined..because it's what my body loves and can process more easily. As simple as that. What is so sad about that? That's the only thing I didn't like about this whole experience...the labeling of the diets and the negative stereotypes that go along with them. 

To be honest, I am going to began incorporating some seafood and eggs back into my diet - but steering clear from dairy as much as possible. And of course, I will continue to not consume any meat. That definitely wouldn't make me a vegan, or necessarily a true vegetarian. But who cares? I want to continue to eat the foods I love, without being judged by anyone else! From here and on, I do not want to subscribe to any dietary labels or specific diets. I still respect all the vegans and vegetarians out there, you continue to do your thing! :) I'm just a healthy freak who loves to eat food as close to their natural state as possible.

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

City Market in Charlottesville


Today, my boyfriend and I went to the City Market in Downtown Charlottesville an hour before it closed. When we got there, it was still crowded - lively music, vendors and all. We bought heirloom tomatoes, green tomatoes, white peaches, white nectarines, Asian pears, yellow oyster mushrooms, eggplants - and a fresh donut & sage peach lemonade to share. We then got tacos right before heading back. Daniel, my boyfriend, went head over heels as soon as he took a big bite out of the warm, cakey donut. I had a bite of it as well and it was definitely a must-try! And the tacos...I'm not sure what the name of the vendor was but Daniel said they always had a long line of customers..so we decided to give them a try! I had one vegetarian taco while Daniel had each of the chorizo and steak tacos. I probably could've eaten one more but I knew we were going to make lunch out of the produce we purchased.





Look how beautiful those tomatoes look!


My boyfriend wanted to make fried green tomatoes so I let him take those - and with the rest of the heirloom tomatoes, I made a caprese salad. I also grilled the eggplants and sauteed the mushrooms & yellow onion with some lemon pepper. Then some fruit salad on the side of course. I feel like I always eat way too well whenever I'm with Daniel - I appreciate the fact that he always tries his best to accommodate my needs :) The first thing he likes to do when I visit is to make sure I have something to eat - so he'll stock up on fresh fruit and veggies (Thank you!). And plus, Charlottesville has some awesome places to eat - definitely one of my favorite cities!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend - the weather's beautiful! I can't wait for sweater weather :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jamie Eason's LiveFit

Two years ago, I began focusing more on weights and muscle gains rather than on cardio. What helped me become more comfortable in the weight room was Jamie Eason's LiveFit trainer program. Her workouts helped me improve my strength, as well as endurance - and gave me muscles in places where I didn't even know they existed! It helped giving me an overall toned look to my body. The only thing I wasn't very good with was that I never stuck with my workouts because I would prefer one routine over another and I'd switch them around. However this time, I want to be consistent with them so that I can see better improvements in my body. I began the program today in phase 2 - as phase 1  focuses on building muscles so that your body can be ready for heavier weights in phases 2 & 3. I am used to lifting heavy so that is why I decided to skip phase 1 altogether. Phase 1 cuts out cardio (which was a bit difficult for me) but this is what helped me achieve that "toned" look in my arms and legs. 



I highly recommend this program if you are new to weights and you want to see results! One thing to note is that although I didn't follow her eating plan (I personally thought it was too restrictive), I still ate clean. This means cut out processed foods and eat your food as closest to its natural state as much as possible. 

I did day 1 of phase 2 today, which targets your back. Then I came home to make a smoothie for myself but I realized I was still hungry. So I had an apple while preparing a bowl of warm oats that was cooked with banana slices, topped with more slices, seeds and raw cacao nut butter. 


Off to shower and then it's time to hit the books! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Recipe: Aloo Baingan

During my last week before returning back to school, I met up with a few of my friends for dinner at a fancy Indian restaurant called Monsoon. I loved the modern, romantic feel of interior design - and was blown away by their vegan/vegetarian options as well. I loved that they also served brown basmati rice which sadly was out of stock in the kitchen. Their white basmati rice was still very good, and the waitress made sure our rice bowls were constantly refilled. I ordered one of their vegetarian dishes, aloo baingan, which is a dish that incorporates eggplants and potatoes together to bring this feeling of comfort and leaves you feeling satisfied. The tomatoes in the sauce help to create a tanginess and to balance out the richness of the whole dish.

Over the weekend, a craving for Indian curry hit me - I was dreaming of the spices meld together in each bite. I decided to make my own creation of aloo baingan - well without the potatoes that is. This is my second time playing with these strong spices and I tend to fall in love each and every time I come in contact with them. I hope you will too! This isn't traditional at all since I added so many other vegetables in place of the potatoes.


Serves 3-4.
  •  1 medium purple eggplant, or 2 medium Chinese eggplants; cut into 1/2 in cubes. 
  •  2 handfuls of okra; cut into bite size lengths. 
  •  1/2 of a small kabocha squash; can be peeled or un-peeled (I left the peel on), cut into 1/2 chunks. 
  • 3 medium tomatoes; cut into 1/2 in cubes
  • 1 Tbsp of oil (I used coconut)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp paprika (depends on how spicy you'd like your dish to be)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp water 
  • chopped cilantro
 Note: You can also buy the spice that is labeled "Curry Spice" and mix that into a paste form along with cumin powder, paprika, and ginger.
  1.  Heat oil in a large pan over med/high heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot, place eggplants, okra, and the kabocha squash into the pan. Let the vegetables cook and stir frequently to make sure they don't stick. Take them out of the pan and let them sit on a plate over a paper towel.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the ginger, coriander powder, tumeric, and paprika with the 2-3 tablespoons of water to form into a paste. 
  4. Make sure there is some oil left in the pan. Then over med/high heat, place the cumin seeds into the pan. After the seeds crack, add the spice mixture. Then continue to cook them until the oil separates from the spices.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir-fry for a minute.
  6. Add the vegetables back into the pan while stirring gently. Let it all simmer for 5-7 minutes over low/med heat.
  7. The tomatoes should sweat and help to create a sauce, if not, add three to five spoonfuls of water.
  8. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add sea salt to taste.
  9. Turn the heat off and add chopped cilantro.
  10. Enjoy with naan or basmati rice! 
The okra definitely added great texture through its crunchiness and the kabocha was similar to potatoes (but much healthier, duh!). I served mine with a mixture of brown, black, and barley rice cooked with a little bit of sea salt. I also had some roasted beets on the side (YUM - I will do a post on roasted veggies later). I now have 2-3 servings left over and I can't wait to have it again. So filling and delicious!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday Groceries

We have a farmer's market in downtown Fredericksburg that is fairly small but compared to its size, there are plenty of vendors that bring fresh, local produce right to you. I met up with my friend Becca (Hi!), who became a vegetarian over this summer and is looking to become healthier through some lifestyle changes. We had some morning drinks at a coffee shop nearby then we headed on over to the market. Becca bought some peppers, cucumbers, a HUGE bunch of kale, and beets all for $7.50 - and I ended up with beets, yellow squash, juicy peaches, 1lb okra, and eggplants all for $13. This will last me for the whole week! Tonight, I'm actually planning to make curry - inspired by one of my favorite Indian curry dishes, aloo baingan. I'm not adding the potatoes though, but replacing them with yellow squash, kabocha squash, and okra (wait, is that all too much? nope).
I stole a peach from the picture - best peach of 2013.

I'm drinking a giant cup of a green smoothie, that looks rather quite funky. I didn't even take a picture before I began chugging it - maybe that was the right thing to do - because it looks like...well, we won't go there. It tastes so good though! I added these greens you see in the picture on the left - the beet greens and stems are so nutritious - full of beneficial vitamins and iron! I remember when I used to just discard them because I never knew what to do with them and/or felt too lazy to carefully wash the dirt away and store them. I really love them in smoothies now though! (If you're wondering..the smoothie also had frozen grapes, mango, blueberries, lime juice, mint, ginger, and coconut water) Look at how the greens just extended out from my bag - I had to haul that thing around while I browsed some more. I just got too greedy and picked out the bunch with the big leaves and creepy long stems.

After we were both happy with our findings, we went back to the coffee shop and sat on the benches outside. We talked about a good hour or so talking about girl things, school life, and health. It was so nice to talk to Becca about something I'm passionate about - especially because she was actually really interested and intrigued by it. I talked to her about how I felt as I made changes to my diet and what I've gained from this whole experience. She also told me that she doesn't crave meat anymore - something I've noticed as well. And then I talked about how I am now well aware of what my body likes and doesn't like - I may be slowly re-adding some foods back into my diet - but let's save that for another post later. Having a conversation like this motivates you to stay on track - after talking to each to other, I'm pretty sure Becca left feeling confident and motivated to continue with her healthy lifestyle.

Shortly after coming home, I washed and prepped everything to make my life a bit easier. I love being able to just grab something out of the refrigerator and save time when preparing my meals. It also creates more space in your refrigerator or pantry when you organize them into bags or jars.


Now I'm off to deal with a huge stack of books and notes - Is it fall break yet? HA. Hope everyone's having a wonderful Saturday afternoon & weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WIAW..and also WIDW

Something you may or may not know about me is that I absolutely love smoothies - summer, fall, winter, spring - I find ways to make them flavorful and interesting through the produce that is available every season! So in today's WIAW post, I added smoothies too...which would make it WIDW as well. Here you go!

These are pumpkin empanadas from a Thai restaurant called Rice in DC! I shared it with 2 of my friends, we wished they were a bit bigger.......

Rainbow bowl! So simple yet tasty and full of flavors!

Quick dinner of sauteed collard greens & onions - with brown rice, purple yams, kabocha, and veggies cooked in Bragg's liquid aminos and sesame oil.

Another picture from Rice, I highly recommend a dish that comes with rice. First time seeing a Thai restaurant serve sticky rice to go along with the main meal. We shared a vegetarian Pad Thai and a vegetarian Green Curry! 


A casual dinner for myself: brown & black rice cooked with kabocha squash with some Korean banchan, which are side dishes that are served with all Korean meals. If you've been to a Korean restaurant, you're guaranteed these side dishes! I love lotus root banchan, which are the round snowflake looking things on my plate.


Sorry for the blurry picture.....I think this was when the waitress came by to ask how things looked and I was replying to her as I took my picture. Then didn't even check to see how the picture came out - just digged in ASAP.This was a vegetarian tom yum noodle soup from a Thai restaurant in downtown Charlottesville called Pad Thai. Their lunch special is an awesome deal! 

This was a 100% vegan ramen from Daikaya in DC. SO SO SO GOOD! We went there during the busy lunch hours on a Friday but we were able to sit at the bar in front of the open kitchen. I could go for some ramen right now...and it's 10 o'clock in the morning.




Peregrine Espresso on 14th St in DC 
Iced Americano, Hibiscus Berry, Bergamot Sage, Citron Oolong.



Cheers in the morning as we part our ways - DC was so much fun thanks to my friend Joanna taking us around the city. Can't wait to return!

I'll update my smoothie page soon so that these smoothie pictures have recipes to go along with them :) I hope all my fellow student readers are enjoying their semester so far. I know I sure am with no Monday and Friday classes! Have a great day!