January 31, 2014

Eating clean for rookies {part 13}


Oh my, it's been entirely too long since my last clean eating post. My apologies to everyone who keeps up with this blog series (it's my most viewed series of post, by far). Over the holidays, I wasn't at my place much which really threw off my clean eating routine. But for the past few weeks, I've been back on track and my 18 pounds lost is now 19 pounds loss, yay for consistency! I'm sticking to at least 2 clean meals a day.

Check out some of my recent meals



I've been alternating between blending bananas and ice & just grabbing a banana for breakfast before heading to class or work during the week. Since it's so cold, I prefer coffee or tea as my morning drink as opposed to an icy smoothie every single day.


Ground chicken is my favorite meat to add to veggies. I ate ground chicken with green beans, sprinkled with black pepper and drizzled with lemon juice - yum!


I ate a banana for breakfast and packed this salad for lunch. The salad includes (spring mix, tomatoes, green tomato salsa, and raw mushrooms, topped with lemon juice)


Close up of my salad


I love brussels sprouts! A restaurant in Atlanta makes the best brussels sprouts I've ever had, but I tried to copy them. I make them softer by boiling them in water first and adding in some chopped onions to the water. Then I bake them in the oven for 10-15 min.


My mom made turnip greens for us and added onions and some pepper sauce - so good!


I cooked some mango chicken using ground chicken, onions, green peppers, red peppers, and mangos, and mango juice. Seriously one of the best chicken dishes ever!



I cooked ground chicken with spinach, onions, and mushrooms in the skillet. Then baked some sweet potato fries (sprinkled with black pepper) and brussels sprouts (after boiling them).


For dinner one night I ate leftover sweet potato fries, brussels sprouts, and salad with green salsa!


I keep washed, cut up fruit in a container so I can snack on it during the week. It's so much easier to eat heathy when it's convenient and looks appetizing. Strawberries and blueberries are two of my favorites!

How is the healthy lifestyle going for you? 
Have a great weekend!

January 29, 2014

Atlanta Snowcation 2014

Me playing in the snow on Wednesday

On Tuesday around noon, snow started falling in Atlanta. I was at work, but finished up work early so that I could head home before the weather got too bad. My college canceled classes for the day so I didn't have to worry about my evening class either.





Little did I know, I had just avoided an epic winter weather disaster that occurred Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday. The roads weren't prepared for the snow or ice and long story short, the 1.1 million people in the city of Atlanta all headed home around the same time on Tuesday afternoon when snow had already started sticking to the ground. It was a recipe for a nightmare. The traffic on highways started pilling up all around the Metro Atlanta area and since cars and trucks couldn't move on the ice…many people were stranded on highways and in their cars overnight.





So…that's what's been happening in ATL. The break from school was much needed and I've been spending the time doing some of my favorite things - cooking, writing, eating, yoga, watching every news report regarding this weather situation, and doing work for my company. It's been a strange few days that I'm calling my "snowcation."

I'm grateful that there were few fatalities and that things are starting to get back to normal.



January 28, 2014

Eating in ATL {STRIP Steak Seafood Sushi}


When one of my friends said she was having her birthday dinner at STRIP in Atlantic Station, I knew I had to bring my camera and blog about my experience.


First of all, the venue itself is awesome
 I've lived in Atlanta for 5ish years and had never been to STRIP - shameful, I know. I know their sign says "Steak, Seafood, and Sushi," but I wasn't prepared for all of the options on the menu!

My Shrimp Tempura Roll
I started off with a sushi roll, and several other people at the table did the same thing. We all enjoyed our sushi. I took photos of pretty much everyone's meals so you could see the yummy variety STRIP offers. And I was pleasantly surprised that they do so many different types of foods so well.

Crunchy Roll
Spinach Dip
Edamame 
Salmon w/ Green Beans
Pork Chop
Turkey Burger

Seafood Platter
Loaded Mashed Potatoes
My Salmon & Green Beans
My. Meal. Was. Perfect
If you like mac & cheese…you have to order the mac & cheese.

My Macaroni & Cheese

Did I mention I tried non-veggie sushi? For the first time!! And it was amazing. That's an item I can check off my to-do list for this year (#23todos). 

I absolutely loved my dining experience at STRIP and I can't believe that was my first visit. It was really crowded all throughout the night, so clearly others know about this gem located at Atlantic Station. I will definitely be back (for more shrimp tempura rolls!)


January 27, 2014

Pick your favorites {inspirational message}


I need your help! I'm working on a secret (shh!) wearable project and I want some feedback from my readers.

The project involves inspirational messages, and I want to see which messages you like best.

Choices are:

BLESS OTHERS
LIVE YOUR DREAMS
BELIEVE
HAVE FAITH
TAKE A CHANCE


Please vote NOW through Friday using the poll on my top-right sidebar and pick your favorite messages!

Thanks!
xoxo

Anjolee jewelry {gemstone bracelet}


 When Anjolee sent me this Gemstone Bracelet I instantly approved. Tennis bracelets are so subtly stylish and go perfectly with any form of arm candy. I loved the bracelet, but my mom loved it even more…so she is indefinitely borrowing it.


The bracelet is glistening, round, prong-set gemstones are linked together along this bracelet with lovely, wavy, links that almost sit like partial ‘hoods’ on each stone. So perfect, and my mom wears it so well.


:)


Anjolee has so many beautiful jewelry choices and engagement and wedding bands as well. I'm always very grateful to review a piece by Anjolee because I know it's great quality and a great design. I still wear my Anjolee diamond studs every day!

What do you think of this bracelet? 

January 26, 2014

Ice skating in Atlanta {Atlantic Station}


Going ice skating in Atlanta has been on my winter bucket list, and I finally got to do it this weekend! On Friday afternoon, my boyfriend and I went to Atlantic Station for some outdoor ice skating and it was so much fun. Ice skating + a great view of the city + a great price! There are several places to go ice skating in Atlanta during the winter season, but I'm happy we picked Atlantic Station's ice skating rink. It's a good size, free 2-hour parking, organized, a great price, they have a nearby snack bar/food truck, and it's a family environment.


The rink is really pretty around Christmas time with all of the decorations and colored lights. However, it was still a great environment when we went on Friday. By no means am I great at skating on ice, but I wasn't terrible either…I didn't fall once! Growing up, I had one or two birthday parties at an ice skating rink, and I think I remembered some of those skills ;)


video

I tried doing some tricks on the ice, like this spin move :)

The rink is open now until Feb. 14, so if you haven't been yet…go!
Tickets are $10 for students & $13 for adults.
Read more details here.

Have you ever been ice skating, and what'd you think?

January 25, 2014

Starting a gratitude journal


One of my goals from 2013 that I did not complete was starting and keeping up with a gratitude journal. I read about how having a gratitude journal or some format of documenting the things I'm grateful for is great for my personality type (INFJ, Type A, etc.). I tend to overlook all of the great things currently happening in my life because I'm focused on getting to the next level. It's a good and bad habit. By writing down what I'm grateful for at the end of each day or every few days, I can take time and keep track of all of the beautiful aspects of life that I am so, so grateful for.


I actually got this journal two days ago as a birthday gift, and I was inspired to start my goal from last year. This journal will be my gratitude journal. I've already used three pages of it!


I'm organizing my journal by putting the date, numbering my list of what I'm grateful for on that particular day, and writing a little explantation if I feel it's necessary. But of course yours can be as organized or random as you prefer.

The most difficult parts of journaling are getting started and then keeping up with it. Journals aren't the only way to document your gratitude. One of my best friends would use his Notes app on his iPhone to type up what he was grateful for at the end of each day. Also a great method that serves the same purpose.

I'm really excited about my new journal because it will be personal and inspirational. 

When I need a boost of energy or joy, I can flip through this journal and physically see just how much I have to be grateful for.

Have you ever had a gratitude journal?

January 24, 2014

Healthy meals by my roommate {salmon croquettes + chicken stir fry}


I'm working on my next clean eating post, but in the meantime I wanted to share two healthy meals my roommate made! Salmon Croquettes (a healthy version) and a Chicken Stir Fry Dish with veggies!


Skinny Salmon Croquettes

Ingredients
1 can of boneless salmon
5 chopped green onions/chives
1 egg
 1 teaspoon of baking powder
Black pepper
Garlic powder
2 pieces of bread


Instructions
Salmon
Drain the can of salmon (save half of the juice in a small bowl)
Put salmon in a bowl and mix with egg, then stir it up
In a separate bowl: mix the saved salmon juice & baking powder until it gets foamy
Then add the salmon juice & baking powder to the bowl with the salmon

Bread crumbs
Break up wheat bread into tiny pieces and put it on a tray sprayed with olive oil
Sprinkle garlic powder and dried onions onto bread pieces
Bake in oven for 10 min. on 350 (until hard)
Salmon mixture  and form into patties

Cooking
Add the bread crumbs to the salmon mixture without making bread crumbs too soggy
Put olive oil in skillet
Take patty size amounts of mixture and fry in skillet
Flip over and cook until browned

Enjoy!


My roommate and I both make ground chicken dishes all of the time. They're quick, can consist of just about anything, and can be added to so many other foods (pasta, wraps, salads, side dishes, fruit).


Ingredients
1 pack of ground chicken
1/2 pack of Mushrooms
1/2 cup of broccoli
1/2 purple onion
1 orange pepper
1 zucchini 
Cayenne 
Black pepper
Curry powder
Olive oil

Instructions
Add olive oil to the skillet
Add in onions then other vegetables
Sprinkle ground chicken with cayenne, black pepper, and curry powder
Add in the seasoned chicken and mix with the vegetables
Stir and break apart the chicken
Cook until cooked

My roommate added the chicken stir fry to a
whole wheat wrap with some spinach and Chipotle sauce, yum!

January 23, 2014

GRE studying tips


So…you need/want to take the GRE?

 The Graduate Record Examination is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for most graduate schools in the U.S. I took the GRE one time, in June of 2013, and I was really happy with my scores in every category, all well above the average score. I performed best in analytical writing (predictable), second best in the quantitative reasoning, and my verbal reasoning score was a little lower than that one. Once I decided I wanted grad school to be my next step, I studied for the GRE for about 2.5 months before my exam date. 

And now, I have three friends who are preparing for the GRE and have all asked me "how was it?" I've shared my experience and tips with them, and I wanted to share them with any readers considering taking the GRE.

Find out what your desired graduate program expects for GRE scores
It's important to know what your program's average GRE scores are so you have an idea of what score range to aim for before testing. For Georgia Tech, the average math score is very high, while the average writing score is closer to the national average. For my particular program at Tech, writing is important, so my high score in writing was valued. It's also important to know that graduate programs require a GRE score, but it is not the only admission factor.

Give yourself enough time to prepare/study
When someone tells me they're taking the GRE after one or two weeks of studying, I think to myself.. "you cannot be serious." This test, like the SAT, requires preparation and time to cover all of the material. Regardless if you're studying for the GRE while finishing up your undergrad (like I did), right after your undergrad, or years after college; you need enough time to study. I think a month should be the minimum prep time for this test.

Use the resources provided by the GRE website
My first suggestion to my friends who are studying for the GRE…use the resources on the GRE test website! I made the mistake of not looking at these until a few days before my exam, but I'm glad I looked. Several of the problems on my test were super similar to the example problems on the GRE website.

Find those here.

Find a book/online program that works for you
I went to a local bookstore and flipped through a few different GRE books to see which ones were formatted in a way that I liked and understood. I also checked out some online options for studying. There are all kinds of additional resources out there for learning or reviewing the material on the GRE. I ended up using a friend's books after she finished taking the GRE, and it happened to be the set of books I enjoyed the most at the bookstore.


There are even Twitter accounts to help you review:

Study with a friend taking a similar test
One of my best friends was studying for the LSAT while I was studying for the GRE. Even though we weren't studying for the same standardized test, it was great having a standardized test study buddy. We were accountability partners, supporters for one another, and it was great having someone to celebrate with after we both took our tests!

Do a few practice tests - first not timed, then time yourself
I was really nervous to take my first practice test because I didn't want to see how much I didn't know. But, the practice test turned out to be the catalyst for me really understanding the material covered by the GRE. I took two practice tests a week. For the first few, I took my time and just tried to figure everything out at my own pace. But then I started timing myself (because the real test is timed) and I skipped a few. Read about the penalties of missing questions versus skipping questions.

Relax the night before and start fresh the morning of
I was tempted to go out the night before my GRE test, but I made the choice to stay in and relax. I did review some math material for about an hour before going to sleep, but then I did not look at it again before my test. The morning of my test, I drank some water and had a healthy breakfast before heading to my testing center. I did review a few verbal flashcards in my car before going inside the center. Before starting my test, I took a deep breath in and out.

Read the fine print rules about testing
There are lots of strict rules you have to follow on test day, depending on your test center. I took my test at another college in Atlanta, so the location was a little unfamiliar to me. It's great to map out your test center before your test date and know how parking works (if you live in an urban area). Also, read online about what to bring to your test (paperwork, ID, pencils, etc.) and what cannot be with you in the testing room (cell phone, watch, etc.). Testing centers vary from being really warm to really cold. Depending on when you take your test, be prepared for either extreme temperature.

Be confident and do your best!
By no means am I a test taking guru. But I definitely went into the GRE believing I would get the scores I was aiming for, and I did. If you take the time to study and have done well on practice tests, you will do fine! And if you're not happy with your score, you can take the GRE again after a certain number of days.

The test usually takes about 5-7 hours to complete. It took me 6 hours, and afterward I was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. Lots of time and energy went into studying, but now that I'm in my dream grad program, it was more than worth it! .


Good luck!

January 22, 2014

The stress of being a college student {RIP Maddy Holleran}

Photo via New York Post
College is stressful. I've been reminded of that during this third week of grad school as many of my peers are already in panic mode. It's not just the classes that are tough when you're a college student, but it's the classes along with the involvements, along with making a really unique life transition.

I was heartbroken to read about 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania track star Madison Holleran's recent death by suicide. Her family believes she jumped to her death because of the stress of grades and depression issues. You can read the entire article here.

I talk about mental health in my book because it's such a crucial part of your college experience. College is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. The stress should never overwhelm you to the point that you don't see any way out besides taking your own life. I didn't get perfect grades in college and I can attest that not having perfect grades or the perfect resume will not keep you from achieving your dreams.

We often discuss being super stressed or depressed as something casual, but often times it isn't. I got a reality check during college when I realized that there is more to life than grades or rankings. No one is perfect, so I stopped trying to be. Instead, I vowed to do my best in everything that I do and give myself breaks when I need them. Dealing with the stress of college takes effort and planning, but it's worth it. Your health is worth it. And you're worth it.

If college or life has become too stressful for you, seek help. Every college campus should offer counseling, and if they don't there are hotlines and people willing to help you.

Maddy was just one of many college students in America who were battling so much that ending their life seemed like the only option. I hope that college suicides will become less and less common, and that students will seek help when they need it.

And I hope Maddy will rest in peace.

January 21, 2014

Flavor of The Earth Pure Ceylon Cinnamon Powder


My clean eating journey is not only about eating healthy foods, but also eating the healthy versions of those foods. I love cinnamon, and I've added it to just about anything - including my favorite winter drink & these cinnamon turkey burgers my roommate made. But I recently learned that not all cinnamon is the same.


The Flavor of the Earth Ceylon Cinnamon Powder has a really great taste and is also a really good source of Fiber, Calcium, Manganese, and Iron in your diet. Since I am anemic, getting enough Iron in my daily diet is super critical for me feeling well. Adding cinnamon to my food is an easy way to make sure I get the nutrients I need. It's also important to know that store bought cinnamon (cassia) has the dangerous compound Coumarin in it, which is harmful to the liver. The FDA recently warned against ingesting too much Coumarin. However, Ceylon Cinnamon has 1,250 LESS Coumarin, and is the safest cinnamon for consumption.

I added some Ceylon Cinnamon to my BBQ chicken w/ veggies - so good!
The Ceylon Cinnamon has a much finer texture than the store's cassia cinnamon and isn't super strong and bitter like the store's usually tastes. Instead, it has a soft texture and a milder, sweeter flavor that's perfect for cooking, baking, and sprinkling on your favorite drink. And, the Ceylon Cinnamon has a much lower volatile oil content of between 1% and 2%.


I think once you taste the Ceylon Cinnamon, you won't be interested in eating the "regular" cinnamon again.

Thank you, Flavor of the Earth, for sending me this Ceylon Cinnamon to try and fall in love with! I won't be going back to the cinnamon sold in stores.


What would you add some Ceylon Cinnamon to?

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