Category Archives: Food

cheesy bread and health

Not to confuse you, but today’s post contains 2 completely unrelated topics: my love for cheesy anything bread, and my battle for regular, routine physical activity to promote overall good health. I am not insinuating that cheesy bread promotes health, although it might promote mental health. A life without cheese or bread is not one worth living, in my humble opinion (I don’t know how those paleo folks do it…).

First… cheesy goodness

Have you ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse? If so, you might be familiar with those delicious, soft, chewy cheesy bread rolls that you are supplied with in endless quantities. I found the recipe today and am looking for an excuse to make them! And yes, as a vegetarian, I have been subjected to the extremely overpriced salad bar at numerous Brazilian steakhouses. The cheesy side dishes were the only redeeming quality of these visits.

Now… burn those calories

I started the Couch 2 5K program yesterday, after downloading the handy app. (This, of course, makes me feel validated to bake the previously mentioned cheesy bread). The app was great in that it allowed me to listen to my own music selection, and just chime in every 60 or 90 seconds and tell me to either start running or walking. I was dripping in sweat after the 30 minute workout, and have slightly sore quadriceps today, so I’ll take that as a success! (as a grad student success – I also was able to finish my class reading during the run/walk workout!)

In starting this C25K program, I feel the need to find a way to motivate me to see this program to completion. Two ideas are floating in my head. First is to sign up for a local 5K event in November. I should’ve been able to make it through the 8 week program by then, and even if I cannot run the whole 5K, I will be much more successful and confident than I am today!

I know from personal experience how motivating it is to already have a race in sight. I trained with Team in Training for 2 half-marathons (2008, 2009). I kept detailed workout logs, with each session documented (weather, attire, mileage, physical symptoms, etc). For anyone who knows me, this shouldn’t come as a surprise Smile


So, a race can be a great motivator, something to set your sights on for the long-term. But what about something to motivate you during the training process? When regular workouts are getting old/boring/time-consuming, and/or grad school becomes ever-more-intensive.

Well, having a team or a friend to workout with is always helpful. We call this accountability. And it certainly helped for my half-marathons. But right now, I don’t have that.

I’m considering an iPhone app called Gym-Pact, which uses financial incentives (i.e. the threat of taking your money away if you don’t workout) to keep you on track. You make a pact each week for how many workouts you plan to do, and how much money you’re willing to lose if you don’t. You then log in those workouts at your local gym (using GPS check-ins) and either make money if you successfully logged in enough workouts, or lose money if you fail. Where does the money come from? All the couch potatoes who don’t make it to the gym.

It’s grounded in wonderful behavioral economics theory (which we all know I love), which might actually be the biggest reason I’m considering it. haha. It’s not a method for getting rich or anything, but the threat of losing money is a powerful motivator, especially for poor graduate students!

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes…


fun times this weekend

Starting Saturday morning at the Carrboro’s Farmers Market
So, 5 miles from my apartment is one of the top 10 farmers markets in the country. And yet, I had never been. So this weekend I promised myself that I would go.

Carrboro is such a fun little town with a great community spirit. There were so families at the market, all enjoying the produce, plants/flowers, bakery products, and locally made goods. I may have treated myself to a Sweet Potato Maple doughnut for my breakfast (along with iced coffee which I proceeded to spill all over my car’s interior…) as well as picking up some delicious produce and a little basil plant for my balcony. It’s hard to believe that I paid someone a premium for homegrown zucchini – for the past 2 years I have grown so much zucchini that I would give it away to anyone I could!

Picking fresh strawberries
Matt and I headed to a local farm here in Chapel Hill to pick strawberries. In 30 minutes, we had picked 4 lbs of gloriously ripe and delicious strawberries – for only $6! So much better than the 99cent Aldi strawberries I had picked up last week, yet cheaper than the ones I saw earlier at the farmers market.

Some homemade whipped cream complimented them for a perfect summer dessert!

Getting $60 of free food for dinner with friends

We introduced some friends of ours to Groupon this weekend, with a wonderful deal at a Durham-area pizza place. Fried zucchini sticks, veggie pizza, and cheesecake made a filling and delicious meal Smile

Almost buying a road bike



Living in Chapel Hill, (and dating an avid cyclist), I have been thinking about getting a bike. It would make an easy 3 mile ride to campus, as well as enjoyable for all the local trails in my area. So today, we went bike shopping. I always pictured myself buying a nice, colorful and cushy cruiser. It certainly would be comfortable, but apparently not efficient, speedy, or easy for any type of hill. Not to mention it weighs a ton and would NOT be practical for having to carry to my upstairs apartment or in/on a car. The above pictured bike is a nice carbon/aluminum $1000 road bike that was on sale for $599 which I almost bought today. Until I test-rode it and found that I preferred a different bike. Matt fell in love with a $1200 road bike, also marked half-price (to clear out the 2011 models) which I predict he will buy this week. For now, I’m looking at a Trek hybrid bike instead (like this one), which seems to suit my needs a little better. I’ll be sure to show you what I end up purchasing!

Enjoying the wonders of Netflix
In the past week or so, I have been enjoying Netflix documentaries, both of which I highly recommend.


I had no idea what went into the Muppeteers’ work! A great story of hard work and perseverance


Can’t say this taught me anything new, but certainly reinforced and reminded me about my eating choices

Tonight, I introduced Matt to “Faulty Towers”. We watched The Germans episode, which is my favorite. How can you beat the talking moose, fire drill, and german scenes!?


And tomorrow is Monday, a new week. I don’t have too much going on in the next few days – some babysitting, a haircut, and school menu work. Wednesday morning, Harley and I are heading to the farm for a few days with my Mom and her pack of dogs Smile

summertime thoughts

Today officially feels like summer
I turned in my last final exam yesterday, so I am done with spring semester! (2 semesters of grad school under my belt, 3 to go).  I now have a 10 day break before summer class/internship starts, so my days are officially filled with ‘break-like activities’ such as:

  • making iced coffee every morning
  • working on my side projects as my only projects (= school menu proofs, mostly so my bank account doesn’t dry up completely)
  • planning crafting projects and cooking ideas from pinterest
  • getting excited about my memorial day trip to DC with Matt! Smithsonian here we come! Smile

My new laptop is wonderful

I picked up my HP dm4 laptop today at Staples ($500 was an amazing deal!) and am loving it so far. My previous laptops (2004 Dell for college, 2008 Dell for after-college) always seemed to come with lots of extraneous materials like random CDs and instruction booklets. This time, I opened the HP box, pulled out a laptop, battery, cord, and a single sheet of “how to set up your computer”. That was it. Wow. I guess they assume you can get everything you need online now. Nice and minimalistic.

Anyway, so far the dm4 is working great. Nice and fast, great audio, a really cool fingerprint scanner that I am already loving instead of typing in passwords to websites all the time, and an excellent-sounding keyboard. I have always been a sucker for the good sound of keys. Ask my mother. I used to collect old typewriters, keyboards or adding machines as a child, just to type on them and listen to the sound. That’s also my favorite part of the movie “You’ve Got Mail” – listening to Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan typing on their 1990s computers to each other 🙂

Now I just need to work on setting up folders, and getting microsoft office (a great perk of still being in school – free software!).

Food Trucks are Genius

So, today there was a food truck parked right outside my apartment for lunch. Better yet, it was a grilled cheese food truck. Called “American Meltdown” – they drive a bright orange truck and make excellent gourmet melts with local ingredients. I had the ‘Fordham’ with mozzarella, pesto and sundried tomatoes, and it was dee-lish, with perfectly crunchy bread and a gooey cheesy filling. Definitely hope I can visit them again some time!

Using chilled glasses for chocolate milk is also genius

Not much to say about this, other than when I got back from the gym this afternoon, I sure appreciated having a glass in the refrigerator, ready to be filled with some low-fat chocolate milk. I swear, the cold glass made it taste even better!

Yes, that’s right. I went back to the gym today

It’s been more days than I would like to count since I’ve been to the gym. We can blame final exams on that. Today, I remembered that if I actually put on gym clothes in the morning, I might actually go workout. And so I did. After running errands this afternoon, I stopped at the gym for a run/jog/walk session on the treadmill, followed by a few strength exercises. I don’t even know the last time I sweated so much. Gross.  I should probably do things like this more often, right?

Until I next write, keep calm and be nice to each other

news from the hill

Chapel Hill, that is 🙂

Today has been a busy day. Finally retrieved Matrix from the collision center again, and received a ‘random’ audit from an insurance guy to come inspect the repair again. Hopefully this time everything looks up to par, and no more rental cars for me!

Biochem today was all about iron and zinc, and took me back to my iron-deficiency anemia days of my youth (living in England during the mad-cow epidemic, we stopped serving beef in the house, and my juice and noodle diet lead me to daily iron supplements). In support of the important mineral, I featured spinach in my dinner tonight: roasted mushrooms and potatoes tossed with garlic and pesto, atop a bed of spinach, and a crispy fried egg. Yum yum.

I received my scholarship award today at UNC’s annual nutrition department awards ceremony. It wasn’t a huge, exciting scholarship, but did provide for my trip to Charlotte this past weekend for NCDA. You might even see my picture on the nutrition dept’s website soon!

Too bad there isn’t a scholarship to buy a new laptop! Mr Dell gave me one last goodbye yesterday morning, and worked long enough for me to do a final back-up, before the screen faded out. It might actually be just some electrical/wiring issue, so before I completely pronounce him dead I’m planning on taking him to a computer repair shop behind my apartment complex. Even if it’s non-repairable (or would cost more than $200), I still have this little handy netbook to keep me going through the rest of this semester. And then I’ll start shopping around for a replacement.

I’m about to pour a glass of locally-produced chocolate milk, watch the last episode of Glee, and escape school work for a little bit. Less than 2 weeks to go until the end of the semester!

carrboro food truck rodeo

I spent my afternoon in Carrboro, Chapel Hill’s red-headed hipster sibling. After my personal-training session, where I learned that my lower abdominal muscles are sadly lacking, I headed to a local coffee shop and worked on some essay questions related to cost/quality/access of the US healthcare system. Fun stuff.

As 6:30 rolled around, I met my friend Heidi (the other RD in my cohort of classmates) and her adorable son Max and headed to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market (proclaimed to be one of the best in the country… by Martha Stewart!). They were starting up their Wednesday markets this week, and kicked-off the season with a food truck rodeo. There was representation from Boxcarr Farms, Baguettaboutit, Monuts Donuts, Chirba Chirba dumplings, and the Triangle Raw Foodists. I selected the fast-moving line for Boxcarr Farms, and had a delicious dish of spaetzle with pea shoots, swiss chard, farmers cheese, and wonderful flavor. Well worth the money! Also worth it to hear everyone’s pronunciations of spaetzle 🙂

Dessert was a strawberry balsamic donut from Monuts Donuts – delicious! In the words of 4 year old Max “It was sweet!”.

The fun and games are over now… time to finish that healthcare cost essay… 🙂

french press hopes and dreams

My roommate got a nice Keurig coffee maker as a Christmas gift, which we have enjoyed using in the apartment in 2012. I, being the frugal and treehugger personality, bought a reusable cup to use instead of purchasing mass quantities of K-Cups. It has worked great for the past few months, but is now starting to make really weak coffee. As in, tan-colored water. We can’t decide if this is an issue with the reusable cup itself (I bought the ekobrew) or if something is wrong with Mr. Keurig. We’ve tried to clean out a few parts with a paperclip in case there was mineral build-up, but nothing has really helped.

So.. this past week I went back to my vintage, Corningware stovetop percolator that I found at a garage sale for 50cents. It may take 20 minutes to brew coffee, but it works.

But now I am longing for these sleek and colorful Bodum french press machines.

imageI’m thinking the green or red would look lovely. The 12 oz would be perfect for just me during the week, but for Matt’s weekend visits (or my enjoyment of multiple weekend cups of coffee) the 34 oz is probably more practical.

And then…. I saw this guy, and remembered that in a few months I will be preferring iced coffee to hot coffee.


Choices, choices. And I have a $10 Amazon credit for a recent groupon-like deal that I purchased.

Anyone have french press recommendations??

catch up saturday

Looks like I already broke my promise of posting every day in April. I even had a topic list prepared, with ideas to write about each day, but Thursday and Friday flew by before I could remember to post! So… here’s a catch-up post.

Thursday’s lesson: don’t go shoe shopping right after getting a pedicure

A friend and I treated ourselves to a spa pedicure Thursday after class, as a reward to finishing the biochem exam in one piece this week (and thanks to the Groupon we found a few months ago). My feet had not been spoiled like this since starting graduate school, so it was a nice gift. After getting my peds polished, I decided to continue my splurge and do some shopping at Target. I had eyed some nice spring canvas shoes in their weekly ad (Toms refuse to fit my feet, and these are much cheaper.. especially with my Target Red card discount!). I assumed that in the time it took for my to finish at the nail salon, walk to my car, drive to target, and peruse the aisles of wonder, that my toes would be dried. So I shoved them in a few pairs of shoes to check for size, picked the pair I liked they had in my size, and headed to the checkout. While waiting in line, I noticed that my two big toes had completely smudged! Sad face.

Harley, who was patiently waiting in the luxury rental car, gave me permission to run back to the nail salon for a quick fix. And thankfully the little ladies were more than willing to help me out – but they had a very puzzled face when I explained that I had gone shoe shopping. “You must wait 20 minutes!” was their command to me. Lesson learned.

Friday’s fun: My first Durham Bulls baseball game

Matt and I both had the day off for Good Friday, so we wanted to do something fun. He surprised me with tickets to the Durham Bulls game, and picked out a quick/healthy/inexpensive dinner with vegetarian options (was deelish!).


The game was quite fun. Although the Bulls are in the minor league, they have a great ball park – small enough that all seats are pretty good, friendly fans, a community feel, and apparently great beer (if you’re into that). I however, was more into hot coffee and a funnel cake. What? The temps were steadily dropping throughout the game – it was in the 40s when we left. If we return for a warmer game though, I will be enjoying the frozen custard 🙂

Today’s thought: whole foods hot bar is deceivingly expensive

I was craving pancakes this morning for breakfast. Sadly, I have no more of my favorite pancake mix, and am out of eggs to be able to whip up some batter from scratch. Couple that with the fact that my roommate’s Keurig machine has decided to only make pathetically weak coffee for us now, and it seemed like a better option to leave the apartment for breakfast. Matt is a huge fan of Whole Foods (aren’t we all?) so we walked over for breakfast. See, walking that 1/2 mile definitely makes you feel better about eating a calorically-dense breakfast. It also gets your Krebs cycle going….

In the wonderful land that is the Whole Foods hot bar, I did my best to use my divided plastic plate for some type of nutritional balance. One section for protein (scrambled eggs), one section for fruit (plantains, pineapple, strawberries and grapefruit) and one for carboliciousness (piece of french toast). Add a cup of coffee, and I’ve landed in the $8-9 range. Yikes. Matt and I went to Carrboro’s Weaver Street Market for a similar breakfast last weekend, and paid only $10 for the both of us. Here’s the reason why:

Whole Foods’ hot bar: $7.99/lb
Weaver Street Marker: $5.99/lb

Hmmm… cheap breakfasts out may stick to Carrboro from now on. Whole Foods may have more variety, but I think Weaver is just as good quality, and perhaps a tad on the fresher side. Plus, better people watching in Carrboro (we sometimes pretend we’re on the set of Portlandia…).

biochem and baby carrots

Happy Hump Day to you all!

I have some significant accomplishments to share with you. The following two events occurred today:

  1. I survived our third biochemistry exam of the semester
  2. I ate 12 baby carrots

Which is more impressive? It’s a close call, I tell you.

It may seem surprising that a vegetarian dietitian like myself is amazed at her carrot-eating day. For me, however, carrots are not the delicious, low-calorie snack that so many people love to mindlessly munch on. It would certainly be convenient if I liked them. But I don’t. They just have that “carroty” taste, which has no appeal to my selective taste buds. Now, grated or cooked in dishes, it’s fine. I often grate them into spaghetti sauce as a clever disguise.

However, with all my studying-induced snacking lately, I wanted to make some healthier choices. At my Trader Joes shopping event yesterday, I picked up a bag of baby carrots, and a tub of organic hummus. With enough hummus is a flavor vehicle, I told myself I could finish off that bag of baby carrots. And lo and behold, I packed a dozen of those little orange guys with my snack today, and ate every single one.

If you need any convincing that baby carrots are the most fun, exhilarating snack, look no further than these videos:

Merry Christmas Eve!

Happy Holidays from Texas!

It finally got cold here (under 50 degrees) today, just in time for Christmas. My Minnesotan grandmother is visiting this year for Christmas, and cannot believe how much Texans overdress. Honestly, I am a little surprised at runners wearing tights and fleece headbands when it’s still 55 degrees. Really?


Things have been going well here. Nice to have the family together and school over. My sister, now a college graduate, is frantically looking for jobs until she starts grad school next fall, and is not enjoying my scheduling/controlling of holiday activities. She vetoed the gingerbread village activity! The horror…

In tradition with Christmas Eve, Jenna and I do our best to prepare a variety of appetizers while we watch a movie. This year, the film chosen was “Midnight in Paris”, and the menu will include:

  • baked brie
  • sausage balls (Dad’s request)
  • mini quiches (the only thing that remains on the menu every year)
  • pierogies
  • nut logs (a new dessert – looks like baklava but in roll form?)
  • fruit plate

I’m currently listening to my grandma’s “Crooner Christmas” CD while proofing dough for cinnamon rolls. Every year, I have big dreams goals of baking something wonderful for Christmas morning. And yet, each year something seems to go wrong. Like the year I wanted to bake cinnamon rolls from scratch and left out the yeast. Or the year I made this huge strata, with too much nutmeg, to the point that no one would eat it. haha.

This year… I’m putting all my hope in Pioneer Woman and making a small batch of her acclaimed cinnamon rolls (although the family has voted for cream cheese frosting instead of her maple variety). Wish me luck!

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the dogs. Did I mention that there are 6 dogs in the house this holiday season? This includes the family trio (Sheff, Neuman and Annie), my Harley, Jenna’s Sullivan, and the current foster Buttercup, who is recovering from surgery this week. It can feel like a boarding kennel here sometimes, but we’re managing 🙂

image she makes the cone look good, right?

image if the dog beds are all full, lay on the stairs 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone!

Busy bee!

I made it back to Chapel Hill today, after a fun fall break with my sister! We went out last night downtown (yes, you heard the grandma right) to a free showing of Chocolat in a downtown park. It was fun! Perfect weather, small crowds, free samples from local chocolate vendors, well-behaved dogs (no, Sullivan did not go), and the hope of seeing Johnny Depp. He was in Austin for a screenwriting festival/event (?) but wasn’t able to come see us. He did send his apologies though…

So… after landing at the RDU airport, and picking up Harley, it has been a whirlwind of a day. To-do lists were made immediately, to cover things like:

  1. unpack
  2. laundry
  3. Sunday paper, coupons, meal plan, grocery list, grocery shop
  4. Refill Harley’s medication
  5. Finish fall wreath and hang on door
  6. Make dinner (to follow)
  7. Finalize etsy custom listing
  8. Study for biostats quiz tomorrow
  9. Send powerpoint slides for group project
  10. Listen to epidemiology lecture and work on case study

Out of this top ten, I’m proud to say that everything has been done except for number 10… and I’m not sure that will happen tonight. We’ll see.

Dinner tonight was a delicious recipe from this blog that I made a month or so ago. Perfect for fall weather, and even better as leftovers!

Tamale Pie

Base layer: black beans, corn, onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomato sauce, taco seasoning (all cooked together)

Middle layer: shredded cheese

Top layer: cornbread

Bake at 375 for 45ish minutes and enjoy! yum yum 🙂

Oh… it’s also Food Day today! I feel that I’m slacking, as an RD and not doing anything special to commemorate this day. I believe the nutrition groups on campus are doing some film showings this week; hopefully I can participate!