Lately Obsessed #5

I’ve been home for spring break for five days now, but these five days have been jam-packed with good food (that’s always the highlight of coming back home 😉 ).

So I decided to share some of the food I’ve been eating in the beginning of break in the “Lately Obsessed” format.

Ready for a picture overload? Let’s go!

ONE // Lunch dates with my mom @ Nordstrom Cafe

Nordstrom Cafe isn’t anything special, but my mom and I have been going there for lunch ever since I was in 3rd grade, so it’s pretty much a staple in our books. Whether it’s lunch after I get let out of break, after a play, after field day, after finals, after a long and tiring shopping trip, my mom and I love to eat at Nordstrom Cafe. There are perennial favorites such as the penne pasta or the vegetable panini. They had a few months ago a kale and mushroom salad special and it was so good! Please bring it back!

This time around (we literally went to Nordstrom Cafe the first full day back home haha), we got the penne pasta but we decided to order the prosciutto arugula salad. We were pleasantly surprised – the pizza was really really delicious! Funny though because both my mom and I took off the prosciutto which we joked was probably why the pizza was on the pricer end, haha.

 

TWO // Healthy snacking

Some say three solid meals a day, some say five to six small meals a day. I go back and forth, ranging from three to six meals, but the past few days, I’ve been snacking on some crackers. I’ve eaten Terra chips before, but these kale crackers!!!! They are soooo good. They have a lot of flavor and are great to go with hummus. My mom and I finished the entire container that afternoon we bought them from the grocery store, haha (although to be fair, there weren’t a lot of crackers to begin with).

 

THREE// The salad bar at my dad’s workplace

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I’ve definitely ranted about this before in previous blog posts and in my Instagram stories (follow us at @avolicious_blog), but my dad’s office has THE BEST salad bar. Like seriously…  Today, I brought an avocado from home since the one thing that the salad bar doesn’t have is avocado, which is understandable (that’s called dedication haha). But otherwise, everything is from this insane salad bar. I have arugula as the base, quinoa, barley, roasted butternut squash, pesto cream chicken, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, and sunflower seeds drizzled with olive oil. <insert face with heart eyes emoji here>

FOUR// Dinner’s at home

Nothing beats mom’s cooking! My mom makes THE BEST japchae (a Korean noodle dish). She made it the first night back (she knows me and my tastebuds too well haha). And also, despite being allergic to crabs and lobsters, tonight we had crab cakes for dinner. Argh…so good! She also got lots and lots of grapefruit for me from Costco (grapefruits are my favorite winter fruit). So yeah…I’m just in tastebud heaven right now.

 

FIVE// Lots and lots of avocado toast

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What did you expect? Of course, I’m chowing down on my avocado toasts! I think I’ve had one at least once every day I’ve come back home. I mean look at that color! Together with the chia seed (and sometimes smoked salmon if we have it in the house) and perfectly toasted bread, ugh it’s a feast for the stomach!

What are your latest obsessions?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck

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Personally, I think this is such a powerful quote. As one who is a perfectionist, I always want to do things perfectly. Perfect grades, perfect work ethic, perfectly organized desk, perfectly organized room, a perfect life. And of course, this perfectionist attitude took a toll on me (and I’m sure with others too), when I wanted a “perfect” body.

Now “perfect” is such a relative word. How do you measure what is perfect and what is not? Most times, if not all times, it’s the image that society and the media show. Those tall and lean girls with toned abs, thigh gap, and no bat wings – that’s what we deemed as “perfect.” Now, I’m not going to talk a lot about body image on this post because 1) I’ve talked about it on the blog before and 2) there’s a lot on the Internet about this topic.

So I want to address the second clause of this quote: “you can be good.” I lost a significant amount of weight over the course of three months in order to reach my “perfect” body. I was determined and resolute that this would make me happy and fulfilled. But as I lost my body, I lost my self-esteem and my self-confidence together. I started putting my worth as an individual on the number of calories I ate that day, the number that was put on the weighing scale. My happiness and my self-esteem solely came from those factors: that I was skinny enough and that I was eating only 1,200 Calories.

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Eating to my heart’s content – eating what I want to eat, NOT what my calorie limit tells me I can.

But when I hit the low point of this “perfect” body – I was losing hair, my hands and feet were getting increasingly cold when it was the middle of summer, I haven’t a period in four to five months, I was constantly tired despite clocking in 8 hours a day. My doctor, my family, and my friends were warning and advising me that this was extremely dangerous for me – that this is not the Stephanie they used to know and should not be the Stephanie that should follow. So long story short, I realized that I don’t have to have the perfect body. I don’t have to have that thigh gap. I don’t have to have perfectly toned abs, it’s fine and normal that I have flab hanging over my stomach when I’m sitting down. I don’t have to have slender arms, I can have a mini bat-wing or angel wing (whatever you want to call it). I don’t have to be perfect, I can be simply good. And for me, good means not the physical appearance but the internal state. To nourish and fill myself up with nutrient-dense, fresh, green, and clean foods. To give my body the nourishment, the physical activity, the rest, and the meditation that it so needs and deserves.

So again, mini-rant here today, but remember, GOOD, not perfect. GOOD.

Have you had to switch your mindset from perfect to good before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

20 Reasons to Exercise and Eat Healthy that are NOT Weight Loss

I wanted to write this post because it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot over the past weeks. I talked briefly in a recent blog post that I’ve been falling out of my healthy eating and exercise regime lately. As Serena was encouraging and pushing me to eat healthy and exercise like my normal self, I thought back to why I exercised and why I ate healthy. I read over some of my blog posts (especially the one about why I workout – my first every blog post!), and I complied a comprehensive list of reasons to exercise and eat healthy.

Now, there are definitely girls and friends around me who are “skinny” and slim, but don’t eat healthy. I really hope that I can deliver the message that eating healthy and exercising should not be done for the sole purpose of losing weight (although that’s what society and the media seems to be spreading). Healthy eating and exercise reaps far more benefits than a physical appearance. So here is my list of 20 reasons on why you should eat healthy and exercise.

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To exercise:

  1. Works as an antidepressant.
  2. Reduces PMS
  3. Reduces stress and anxiety.
  4. Increases creativity
  5. Strengthens your heart
  6. Reduces risk of other diseases such as metabolic syndrome, many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease …
  7. Add years to your life … and life to your years.
  8. Allows you to respect your body.
  9. Improves self-esteem – inside and out.
  10. Helps you sleep well.
  11. Pumps you up
  12. Gets rid of bad fad and increases good fat!

 

To eat healthier:

  1. Makes you happier
  2. Protects your bones
  3. Gives you a stronger immune system
  4. Helps cure irritable bowl syndrome (IBS)
  5. Gives you clear skin (check out my recent post on this)
  6. Soothes sore muscles
  7. Gives you more energy
  8. Reduces cravings for “bad” food

 

With all these reasons, eating healthy and exercising does not mean that you want to lose weight. It means that you want to reap all these health benefits!

Why do you eat healthy/exercise?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

Healthy Skin 101

We all want clear skin. Not only that, we want glowing, vibrant, and acne-free skin. And while not the complete cure/solution, our diet and our lifestyle affects a good portion of our skin.

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Here are a few tips and tricks on getting clearer skin, tips and tricks that are all in your control!

1. Drink lots of water | A hydrated skin comes from the inside and then out. No matter how much of expensive hydrating lotion and creams you put on yourself, if you don’t hydrate your body internally, your skin isn’t going to give much of a glow. Not only does water keep your skin cells hydrated, but it also flushes out toxins. Moreover, by being properly hydrated, your body sweats more efficiently, meaning it keeps your skin cleaner and clearer.

2. Drink green tea | Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties as well as properties that are protective to the cell membrane. Green tea may not only make your skin look better, but prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer by reducing the risk of damage from ultraviolet light.

3. Eat a healthy diet | Overall, a healthy, clean, and unprocessed diet is the best for your skin. When you eat food (or don’t eat enough of it), the food is getting digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. However, if there is no vitamins, minerals and amino acids as if you eat a heavily processed diet OR, if you go on a restrictive diet, you’re not allowing your body to have enough of these vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Make sure to eat enough and to eat enough of the good stuff.

4. Avoid sugar | This includes cupcakes, pastry breads (like croissants), anything with refined sugar. When you consume refined sugar, your insulin levels spike which can aggravate acne, wrinkles, and rashes.

5. Sleep | When you sleep, your body boosts blood flow including blood flow to your skin. In addition, poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones that increases the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. And speaking of inflammatory conditions, increased inflammatory cells lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid. These molecules give the skin its glow.

There really isn’t much. When you eat healthy and eat clean, not only does your physical body reap benefits, but your skin shows it through its glow. It’s simply drinking lots of water, eating healthy, and sleeping lots.

 

Do you have a skin regime as simple as this?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

Serena…

Okay, I’m not one to gush about someone/something, but for my friend Serena (the one who runs the other half of the blog), I think I need to make an exception.

Long story short, Serena and I met over our obsession for healthy foods. As freshmen in boarding school, we as well as the rest of our grade were thrust into a world away from home and with completely new people. Serena and I were the only ones at the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner who had “healthy” foods. We consistently had salads, greens, fruits, and unprocessed and clean foods on our plates every day and every meal.

So of course, as foodies, we bonded and I consider Serena one of my closest friends. And at this time, it’s even truer.

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Lately, I’ve been falling off on this healthy band wagon lately. Call it stress eating, but the meals I’ve been eating not Stephanie. A few weeks ago, over the span of two days, I ate 5 slices of pizza. Now, granted, these 5 slices of pizza were eaten because or else, I wouldn’t be able to eat anything. Being away from home in a boarding school makes it hard to eat when I have club meetings or other events during dinner time. 

But this could have been fixed and modified. The freshmen Stephanie would not have succumbed to these things. But as the lazy sophomore I’ve embarrassingly become, I’ve started slacking off. 

I’ve been eating fried foods. I’ve been eating processed junk foods. I’ve been eating whole bagels every morning. And the worst thing is, it has had a negative effect on my energy levels, my mood, my skin, and my digestion. I’ve been bloating a lot more, I’ve been getting gas in my stomach more, and my stomach feels undigested when I’m studying in the night and I’ve been gulping down water because the food was too salty. 

But even when I lost hope in myself and my worth and my capability to eat healthy again, Serena believed in me. Serena encouraged me and supported me to eat healthy again. She wasn’t aggressive or gave me feel inferiority or made me guilt trip myself. Instead, she gently encouraged me. It’s hard to describe, but just ugh, she’s the best. 

So go find yourself a friend like Serena. Or better yet, be that friend who is Serena. That makes you want to be healthy. That makes you motivated to be healthy and back on track when you’ve desperately and obviously gone off track. 

Thank you Serena and I love ya!

Do you have a “Serena” in your life?

Xoxo,

Stephanie 

Winter Roasted Veggie Bowl

After seeing hundreds of amazing looking roasted veggie bowls on Instagram, I have been craving a good one for the last couple weeks. Well, I finally got to making one this weekend and it was sooo satisfying!

Honestly, you can put anything in roast veggie bowls. Potatoes, squash, mushrooms, cucumbers, tofu, the possibilities are endless! For mine, I put roasted organic sweet potato that I baked in the oven for 35 minutes and 425 degrees.

I drizzled some olive oil so that the potatoes would crisp up, and added cinnamon for a boost of added nutrients.

Also, I’m not sure what kind of sweet potatoes these are, but they have a slightly milder sweetness than conventional orange sweet potatoes.

Next, I roasted some zucchini and carrots in s&p for 20 minutes.



Finally, I added a bed of spinach, the roasted veggies, and a fried egg to the bowl and dug in!


This bowl turned out so delicious, especially with the runny yolk from the egg. You definitely need to give it a try cause I’m telling ya it was GOOD.

What are your favorite ingredients for roasted veggie bowls?

Love,

Serena

Inaugurating Ourselves for a Healthy Lifestyle

Whether we were happy  or disappointed by the results of this year’s election, today, January 20th, marks the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.

I’m not going to talk about politics here, but on the subject of inauguration, I want to talk about inaugurating ourselves for a healthy lifestyle.

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An inauguration is defined as:

  1. The beginning or introduction of a system, policy or period.
  2. The formal admission of someone to office.
  3. A ceremony to mark the beginning of something.

Now, I want to focus on definitions 1 and 3. Let’s make today a day the beginning to mark the start of our healthy lifestyle (if we haven’t yet) and for those who have already accepted a healthy life, let’s just reaffirm it with an oath!

This is a fun twist on the Presidential Oath:

I, [insert your own name] do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of [insert your name] and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend [insert your name]

When I see it, we are like the presidents of our own bodies. We should be preserving, protecting, and defending our bodies to the best of our abilities. We should nourish it was nutritiously rich foods (note: didn’t use the word healthy here). We should move our bodies to give it the flexibility and range of motion it so needs and desires. We should give our bodies rest.

So as the rest of the nation and the country awaits the inauguration of Donald Trump, let’s inaugurate ourselves for our healthy lifestyle!

Have you been inaugurated?

xoxo,

Stephanie

One “Bad” Meal Won’t Make You Fat, Just Like One “Good” Meal Won’t Make You Skinny

I think the title says it all, don’t you think? One “bad” meal won’t make you fat just like one “good” meal won’t make you skinny. Note that I put the “bad” and “good” in quotes, if you don’t get it, check out my blog post from a few days ago about stop moralizing your food choices.

Anyways, I just wanted to give a short reminder to y’all. This week has been a “bad” week for me. In the past two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) I’ve eaten five slices of pizza. In the past two days, I’ve eaten in my school dining hall for 3 times. So the other 3 times, I’ve been eating take out.

Now, in my standards, this is “bad.” I’m the one who advocates for clean, unprocessed foods, but here I am eating junk food. But you know what? What happens, happens. Life is life and some days are out of my control that I need to eat those foods. Those 5 pizzas were all my meals. They weren’t snacks, but a meal replacement because I was so busy I missed my school’s dining hall hours. If I didn’t eat the pizza just so that I could maintain my “good” diet, than I would have been starving myself. And that’s not healthy.

I hope you guys realize that in some context, “healthy” doesn’t mean eating “good” foods all the time. It’s about sometimes stepping down and acknowledging that your meal this one time is going to have to be “unhealthy” because there are no other foods that you can eat. And that’s perfectly fine. Don’t be hard on yourself, because … One “bad” meal won’t make you fat just like one “good” meal won’t make you skinny.

Have a great rest of the week!

What are some of your “naughty” eats this week?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Stop Moralizing Your Food Choices

“Oh, that food is really healthy and good for you.”

“That food is really bad and fattening, don’t eat that if you don’t want to be fat.”

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Having white rice … oh no!

I’m sure we’ve either heard something similar to this or we’ve thought them ourselves.

Today, I want to talk about on no longer moralizing your food choices.

It’s so easy when we’re at the grocery store with the labels and packaging to identity what is “healthy” and what is not. In the past, anything that was fat-free was “healthy” (despite the fact that the substitute for fat that companies used are processed and the best either), later this turned into “carb-free” or “low-carb” (and this trend still lives in as carbs are thought to be the devil and turned against to) and now, it seems like the trend is “protein-everything.”

However, I’m here to tell you that our kale salads, avocado toasts, green smoothies are not healthy, but as a Washington Post article puts it, they are nutritious.

As someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight by running track while limiting myself to 1,200 Calories, I know that at the time, I justified my low calorie consumption because everything I was eating was “healthy.” I didn’t eat any sweets, cakes, “fattening” foods, I just ate a lot of greens, and heaven forbid, a carb ONE meal a day. I thought healthy = slim. But it’s not.

After losing 20 lbs. in a course of three months, my parents, my friends, the parents of my friends, and people I barely knew were asking me if I was sick. While I thought I looked great at slimmer, they obviously saw the truth. My face did not look as radiant and glowing, my hair was falling out, my hands and feet were always cold despite the fact that it was summer. However, none of these were my apparent then when I went to get my yearly checkup. My doctor advised me to take a blood test to see if all the nutrients I needed were there. When the results came back, I was lacking in a lot of nutrients.

As I looked at those results, I realized that my 1,200 Calories diet with no sweets, no processed foods, no fattening foods was not healthy.

I think Merriam-Webster’s definition(s) are perfect.

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No where in the definition does it talk about diet. It does not talk about how many greens you should be eating a day. It simply says that we are free from disease or pain and that healthy things are beneficial to one’s physical, mental, or emotional state.

I think that part is key. While losing weight, yes, physically I may have looked great, I was not physically well as apparent by the blood test results. I was not mentally nor emotionally sound either. Food dictated my life and I was exceedingly insecure about my body and my food choices. I was a good or bad person depending on how much food I ate and if my foods were good or bad.

So I’m here to STOP. Being healthy, having a lifestyle that is beneficial to your physical, mental, or emotional state can still mean that you can have processed foods, can have your McDonalds, have your sweets, as long as they are for your well-being.

If you balance your “good” foods and “bad” foods and balance your exercise frequency while at the same time, taking the time to meditate and check in with your soul (I do this by journaling), choose the middle and you’ll be “healthy.”

No longer is a food healthy or unhealthy by its appearance and nutrient content. A food is unhealthy or healthy according to how it can benefit your physical, emotional and mental state. If you’re craving that food and crush that craving, and do that multiple times, that’s not great for your mental state. If you keep on comparing your body to someone else’s and go on an extreme diet, that’s bad for your physically and mentally.

So stop moralizing your food choices. Eat what you want, when you want them, in moderation. As simply as that.

Are you a victim of moralizing food?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

Benefits of Korean Ginseng

A few days ago I talked about ginseng as part of the daily supplements I take.

After reading the comments as well as thinking over that post a bit, I obliged to write a blog post about the benefits of ginseng.

When we talk about ginseng, we are talking about specifically the ginseng root. There are two different types – the American ginseng and the Asian (also called Korean) ginseng (I take the Korean ginseng). Unlike other supplements, ginseng cannot be found naturally in foods. Thus, ginseng has to be taken in the form of tea, energy drinks and food.

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I’m going to talk about Korean ginseng here as this is the type that I take. Korean ginseng is grown 100% organically, takes 6 years to mature in soil, and requires a 10 year resting period between the planting season.

While they are sold at a high price, ginseng has a high amount of active, grown without the use of pesticides, and contains three amount of ginsenosides.

Ginsenosides are valued to be able to boost mental efficiency and relieve mental fatigue. They work as natural adaptogens in the body which means they allow your body to adpat to stress in a natural manner.

Korean ginseng is also said to work on the nervous system as a natural tranquilizer and to boost metabolism function.

In terms of nutrients, Asian ginseng contains vitamins, amino acids, essential oils, and natural enyzmes. It contains 42 natural minerals, to be exact. Like whoa … has unparalleled nutritional content.

It is also great for a natural detoxifier, reduces cortisol levels, and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Obviously, ginseng has a lot of benefits which is one of the reasons a lot of Korean people take it. I really encourage those to try it – although the bitter taste may deter some – the nutritional benefits are worth it!

 

Have you tried ginseng before?

xoxo,

Stephanie