Sunday, July 27, 2014

Peace Out Atlanta

Terra Terroir

I went to dinner last night with a group of friends at a restaurant called Terra Terroir. I had such a great time! You should definitely check them out if you're in the Atlanta area. In case you're interested the cami and the shoes are from Forever 21 and the tulle skirt is from Asos:)

You may have noticed it from some of my previous posts, but I'll be leaving Atlanta soon. Yes, I know I just got here! Things have been a little hectic these past six months but I'm so grateful for all of the opportunities I've received. I had flirted with the idea of doing a PhD program for a while but I wasn't sure exactly which programs to apply to (public health or communication) or where I wanted to go. As it turns out, not landing a full time position right after graduation was a huge blessing. It gave me time to think about exactly what should come next. When I finally applied to programs, I tried not to have any expectations about the outcomes. I could not have imagined, however, that things would turn out as incredibly as they did. It just provided extra confirmation that I was staying the course.

I'll be starting a communication PhD program focusing on health communication at a great school that also happens to have a very reputable and highly regarded public health program (totally un-biased opinion). Ultimately, I chose to do a PhD program because I think it's critical for my career development to receive education and training in effective communication methods and principles so that I can apply them to health issues. I'm so excited about the opportunities, challenges, and knowledge that this program will bring.

As a bit of an aside, I want to stress the importance of taking a chance on yourself. Personally, I have to be willing to try things even if I think my efforts will be unsuccessful. This isn't because I'm supremely confident that things will work out, it's because I don't want to be tormented by the unknown. A willingness to see things through is great for your peace of mind. The odds were certainly stacked against me during my application process. These programs say no far more than they say yes. From the very beginning I prepared myself for the reality of a "no," but I still forged ahead.  I felt like I would be cheating myself on living if I did not. By only making safe choices there may be no chance of rejection, but there's also no chance of a real reward. Keep that in mind as you go about the days ahead. 

Here's to a fabulous week!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chi's Thoughts: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Many moons ago I mentioned that I was going to do a review on Michael Pollan's Cooked. Well, I finished reading it but never got around to publishing the review so today I made myself.

I can always be guaranteed three things when I read a Pollan book and that is to walk away with more insight on food science, food trends, and food politics. This book certainly did not disappoint in any of those areas.

The Basics
The book itself is split into four sections - one for each of the major categories of cooking (barbecuing; cooking in a vessel - boiling or braising; baking, and fermenting) which each correspond to one of the classical elements - fire, water, air, and Earth.

A New Way of Thinking
I appreciate that Pollan makes you think about things in ways you never thought about before. For example, he mentions that all cooking starts with an act of destruction - killing, cutting, chopping, or mashing. I never really thought about it but it's true (unless you count cereal as cooking which some people do).

He also notes that cooking makes us human. For one, it's something we can do that other species can't (pretty sure). Two, cooking opens up a wider variety of food sources to us, and allows us to get a more energy-dense and digestible diet which allowed our brains to grow bigger (as a result of more and better nutrients) and our guts to shrink (cooking eliminated some of the chewing and digestion restraints so we didn't need such large digestive tracts).

Food Science
Fermentation also pre-digests food for us. Fermented food like breads or cheeses contains live cultures (bacteria) that are steadily at work transforming the contents of the food they're contained in, into by products that we can consume which are then further digested in our stomachs. These bacteria also contribute to the diversity of the bacteria in our gut (gut microbiota) where food gets further digested.

The same molecules responsible for making you cry when you're chopping onions may also be protecting you from dangerous bacterial growth.

Food Trends
If you're on Instagram you've seen your fair share of raw foodie advocates showcasing their raw food dishes. That's all well and good but a completely raw food diet is not sustainable according to Pollan. He notes that raw foods take more time to chew and digest which is why raw foodies rely heavily on juicers and blenders. Without them, he says, they would spend as much time chewing and digesting food as chimps do (several hours a day).

Apparently, there is not enough energy in raw foods to sustain our brains and bodies. We tend to introduce a lot of calories when we cook food with our sauces and oils and other ingredients, and as a natural by product of cooking itself, which is actually beneficial (to an extent of course)

Food Politics
I never thought about barbecuing as being inherently political but that quickly changed after reading Cooked. The methods for barbecuing - whole hog vs. section, what wood to use, even whether or not to use coals, can vary significantly from region to region, state to state, and county to county, with each group feeling that their method is superior, more authentic, or better tasting, than all the others.

Sometimes, I could do without his belabored style of writing. These are obviously topics that Pollan cares deeply about but sometimes I would read a passage and think, "Wow, that was a bit much."

Overall, I enjoyed the book and think it's a solid read for anyone wanting to learn more about some of the history behind the different cooking techniques we use and the evolution of cooking itself.

I hope you all are having a fabulous week!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lazy Girl's Guide to Quick Meals: Bumblebee Sensations

Meal prepping can be a big time saver, but it still takes time to do. There are some weeks I just don't feel like it, and other weeks where I underestimate my healthy appetite and don't prep quite enough. During these instances, I like to make sure that I have items on hand that lend themselves to quick meals. I'm not a big fan of frozen dinners or canned soups since they tend to have extremely high sodium content, so I keep things like sweet potatoes around that can be microwaved relatively quickly or deli meat to make sandwiches. One type of sandwich I love but didn't really eat for a while was tuna. 

Tuna salad typically has mayonnaise in it which by itself can be a big calorie booster (1 tablespoon has about 90 calories). More recently, I found these Bumblee tuna sensation cans (no mayo) in several different flavors that were much lower in calorie count than your typical tuna salad. Spicy thai chili is my favorite but I also really like lemon pepper. I put the entire can on top of some toasted Ezekiel bread with a sprinkle of goat cheese and I have a yummy tuna sandwich for under 350 calories. I can pair this with some fruit or rice cakes to enjoy a full and filling meal.

I hope you're enjoying a restful Sunday!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fitness Feature: Blast 900

Last Saturday I tried a new class at Blast 900 in Buckhead. Now Blast is not your typical gym. They offer fitness classes incorporating high intensity interval training. I read a lot of great reviews about Blast online, and the first class is complimentary, so I decided to sign up and check them out for myself.

The Atmosphere
It was a really friendly atmosphere. I'm always a little concerned when trying out new fitness classes because I feel like everyone will already know each other and will look at me as an outsider. The people here were really nice and I had a great convo with the instructor and another one of the employees after the class about how it went.

There was inspiration to be gleamed from every corner - quite literally. Each treadmill station had an inspirational message above it. So as you're sprinting your heart out you can look up and see a message like the one I saw.

I also have to comment on the music. It was amazing! A total 90's throwback jam session. I was dancing in my head as I was working out. It kept me pumped up and motivated throughout the entire class.

Class Structure
It's an hour long class where you alternate between the treadmill and floor work. For the people on the treadmill, the instructor called out three speeds - one for walkers, joggers, and runners, and an incline percentage, and you went until she said stop. She did stress that those speeds were only guidelines and to choose a speed that worked best for you. The great thing about the treadmill portion was that she never had you going at a certain speed too long. This made the time go by really quickly. At the same time, the people on the floor were doing exercises that incorporated cardio, balance, strength, and resistance training. For the weighted floor exercises, there were three different sets of weights - 5, 10, and 15 pounds, and you chose whichever weight felt most comfortable for you. At some point the two groups switched and we continued to move back and forth between the treadmill and floor work throughout the entire class. 

The hour flew by. This was the first time I've worked out and didn't think about how much time was left. I'm not sure how they managed to do this, but I was so caught up in each segment and trying to push myself that I didn't think about how much time we had left. It also really helped that the class was fast-paced so things were constantly changing.

The Segments
Quite surprisingly, the treadmill portion of the workout was my favorite part. That's probably because I did things on the treadmill that I had no idea my body was capable of doing. I got up to a speed of 11 mph and an incline of 30 percent! For you runners out there that may be no big deal but for me it was huge. In the past the best I've done is 6 mph and an incline of 8. You hear this all the time (especially if you do any Jillian Michaels workouts') but there are seriously things your body can do that you don't even know about because you've never given it the chance. It made me want to figure out what other super powers my body may have. I left the class feeling so strong and very happy.

I really liked the floor work too. I pushed myself here by grabbing the 15 pound dumbbells instead of the 10's or 5's. I also got a chance to do some stabilizing work on the exercise ball which I've never really done before.

The Extras
I thought it was such a nice touch that each treadmill station had a cold bottle of water and a fresh towel. And if your bottle gets low they have a person who fills it up for you (and you don't even have to ask).

Overall, I love this place. I don't have anything negative to say about my Blast experience. It was a tough class but they managed to make it inviting and fun which is what exercising should be. I'm bummed that I didn't try them out sooner. If you're in the Atlanta area do yourself a favor and check them out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Style 2014

This summer has been great so far. I've been hanging out with old friends, making new ones, and soaking up all that Atlanta has to offer in the summertime with the different festivals, shows, and free events. This all presents a great opportunity to pull out my rompers, dresses, and shorts to help beat the heat that Hotlanta is known for. Check out my summer style below:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Another Broken Egg Cafe Review

My first dining experience at Another Broken Egg was in Charleston last December, and my second came about a month ago here in Atlanta. Since I've now been twice, in two different cities, I feel pretty good about giving a review.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is nice. It's pretty laid back and there's a quirkiness to the decor but not overwhelmingly so.

The Menu
I love that they have a nice variety of healthier offerings on their menu. Most restaurants today now have a healthy or "light" section but it feels like an afterthought as the options are limited to a salad or a bowl of soup. That's not the case at Another Broken Egg. Their healthier items include a jumbo gluten free pancake, an herbed egg white and roasted red pepper omelet, a granola, fruit, and quinoa bowl, salmon with jicama slaw, and black bean sliders.

The Food
When I first went I had a tough time deciding what to get but I eventually settled on their "Skinny Omelet." They use herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese, and roasted garlic cloves and served it with an English muffin and fresh fruit. I really enjoyed it. It tasted fresh, had great flavor, and was quite filling but I didn't feel loaded down after wards which I liked.

"Skinny Omelet"

The second time I went I struggled again with picking a dish but I eventually settled on the Granola, fruit, and quinoa bowl. That was such a great decision. It was amazing. The dish consists of house made honey roasted granola, blueberry quinoa, strawberries, blueberries, and toasted coconut crusted bananas with coconut milk and a vanilla yogurt drizzle. I don't know who thought up this dish but they deserve an award. The coconut crusted bananas alone sealed the deal for me. There were so many flavors popping up in each bite and they all came together so beautifully.

Granola, Fruit, and Quinoa Bowl

Overall, they had great food, great service, at good prices. Be prepared to want everything on the menu. There are still multiple items I want to try like their Popeye's Favorite scrambled skillet and their *gasps* not healthier Cinnamon roll french toast. You should definitely check them out!

Have you ever been to Another Broken Egg? What's your favorite dish? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Work Wear Inspiration

Hey folks! I know getting dressed in the morning can be a challenge so I'm here to bring you some more work wear inspiration.

Silk Top: Ralph Lauren (thrifted), Skirt: Zara, Shoes: Aldo (on sale), Bag: Just Fab (gifted), Necklace: Topshop, Bracelet: J. Crew
Dress: TJ Maxx, Shoes: Seychelles, Necklace: Dress Up Boutique, Bracelet: J. Crew

Dress: Ann Taylor Factory, Shoes: Aldo, Bracelet: J. Crew
Top: TJ Maxx, Blazer: Forever 21, Pants: New York & Company, Shoes: Forever 21
Top: TJ Maxx, Cardigan: Charlotte Russe, Skirt: Target, Shoes: Baker's, Necklace: Forever 21, Bracelet: J. Crew (can you tell I love this bracelet?!)

Top: Madewell, Necklace: my awesome sister!, Skirt: Topshop (on sale!), Shoes: Asos
Blazer: Kohls, Top: Old Navy, Pants: Forever 21, Shoes: Seychelles, Necklace: Dress Up Boutique
Would you rock any of these looks? Which one is your fave? Tell me in the comments!