Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Modern Holly Golightly

Taxi comes to a halt in front of Tiffany’s on the luxurious Fifth Avenue of New York City. Here enters Holly Golightly, draped in that iconic floor-length black dress, pearls grazing her neck, and her hair tied in a flawless updo. She floats gracefully to the display window, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” heard in the background, setting the scene. A pastry in one hand and coffee in the other, she gazes dreamily through her dark sunglasses in the quiet of the early morning hours….Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I can recall watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the very first time when I was a sophomore in high school. I was hooked at the opening scene. It was so…glamourous. However, my intrigue soon transformed into frustration as the movie progressed. Just moments after this famous, picturesque scene at Tiffany’s, the chaos of the reality of Miss Golightly’s life is brought center stage. Throughout the movie, she continuously loses her keys, parties until dawn, and then sleeps ‘til the afternoon hours creep up. Her apartment is unsettled, even mistaken for her just moving in and she has no real job, unless you count her duties giving the “weather report” at Sing Sing or the money she collects for “using the powder room.” Nothing in Holly’s life seems to be in order and she is often na├»ve to the world around her. In fact, Holly can’t even commit to naming her cat anything more than just that—Cat! She explains,
“I’m like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.” 
That “no-name slob” so perfectly symbolizes the freedom that Holly so desperately grasps onto throughout the film.

For years, I had trouble sympathizing with Holly. Why couldn’t she get her act together?! However, over the course of the past month, I have watched the film twice, and each time I sat there in awe as I realized how much I, now at the age of 23, can relate to this confusion and uncertainty of life.

When I was growing up, I thought I had it all figured out. I can recall one particular time in middle school, when my best friend and I stayed up late, writing down our goals and the specifics of where we would be in our twenties. (We were both going to attend NYU for journalism, if you are curious.)

So much passion. So much drive. So few doubts.

Time went by and each year I would sit down and reflect on the vision I have for my life. Soon life catches up to you and you hardly have time to catch your breath and are often left discombobulated. Eventually those dreams you were once so certain about are placed on the backburner.

In many ways, we are all a little like Holly in our twenties. We are unsure of where we will be when we graduate and whether anyone will even want to hire us. Will I ever settle down, or will I one day have a nameless cat too (though, I’d prefer a dog)—hanging onto my freedom, yet wondering if I’d be happier living another way. And while it’s frustrating, and sometimes even scary, not having the rest of your life planned out, it’s also an exciting part of the journey.

In her book Wanderlust, Elisabeth Eaves reflects,
"Everybody talked about finding themselves, but maybe you had to get lost first.” 
Sometimes we may not have all of the answers to the questions in our lives, and you know what, that’s okay. Sometimes being lost is precisely what you need to do in order to stumble on where you are supposed to be. Eaves later declares,
“I’d get to the place I was meant to be, even if I wasn’t sure where that was.”

I can’t tell you where I am going to be five years from now. Heck, I can hardly tell you where I will be tomorrow. But I can tell you that no matter what happens, I am going to enjoy the journey along the way.

Enjoy your journey, friend. For one day you will look back and it will all make perfect sense.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Staple Grocery Items

When i was growing up (gosh I feel old saying that!!), I would often flip through the channels and finally settle on watching MTV Cribs Whatever happened to that show anyway?! I loved seeing how celebrities lived and how they decorated their homes. As much as I enjoyed seeing the ten cars that each celeb owned, my favorite part of the show was when they would do a fridge tour. Maybe that was a sign at a young age that I would be a dietitian "when I grow up."

As you would imagine, as a dietetic intern, I often get asked questions such as "what do you eat on a daily basis?" or "what are your staple pantry items?" To be honest, I love getting these questions because I completely understand the curiosity. After working out early this morning, I did some much needed grocery shopping to restock my fridge and pantry. Since I had purchased all kinds of typical "Amanda foods," I thought it would be fun to share some of the foods I almost always keep in stock.

Eggs // Since I don't always have a ton of spare time, eggs are so easy and delicious to whip up. I usually just scramble them with some vegetables that I need to use up and serve with some salsa. Doesn't get much simpler than that! I also love eggs because they have a high protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAA), meaning they have a balance of the nine essential amino acids while being easily digestible. (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2012).

Guacamole or Avocados // An avocado a day keeps the doctor away! Well, at least that is what a lot of the media is suggesting as avocados grow in popularity. Whether the hype is true or not, I almost always have either avocados or guacamole on hand. Lately the avocados at Aldi have not been ripe, so I just grab the pre-prepared guacamole. Learn more about avocados here!

Hummus // When it comes to hummus, I tend to go through streaks. Recently I have hopped back on the hummus bandwagon. While you could easily make your own hummus with chickpeas, I prefer simply grabbing a pre-made version. My favorite thing to do is cut up red and yellow peppers and dip them in hummus. I've also used it as a spread on whole wheat tortilla wraps. The options are endless!

Sweet Potatoes // Watch out, carrots, you aren't the only powerhouse in beta carotene! Sweet potatoes are a trendy food item. I often make mine like a baked potato and top with salsa, broccoli, and black beans. However, I've also made baked fries out of sweet potatoes. Browse around on Pinterest and you will be sure to find a wide range of sweet potato recipes to suit your cravings. 

Beans // Since experimenting with a strict vegetarian lifestyle earlier last year, beans are always in my pantry. I often change up the kinds that I have. Some weeks I have lentils and other weeks I have black beans or butter beans. 

Salsa // I am a huge fan of salsa! I top it on everything. Heck, sometimes I can just eat it by the spoonful. Enough said!

Almond Milk // I don't necessarily have anything against dairy milk, I just have a personal preference for almond milk. I find that it doesn't spoil as quickly, which works well for me. I use almond milk the most frequently when I make smoothies. 

Kale // I've been eating kale salads for a couple of years now. My biggest secret? Pre-make your salads with a vinaigrette on top. It is easier to chew and I personally think it tastes better when it has been marinated. 

Apples // There's nothing new about apples. They are easy to grab-n-go and taste great.

Frozen Veggies // For convenience and cost-effectiveness, I like to have at least one bag of frozen vegetables stocked in my freezer.

Pasta Sauce // I am OBSESSED with the Pumpkin Chipotle pasta sauce from Aldi. In fact, I think I even tweeted about it one day awhile back. Before I discovered this gem of a sauce, I would usually have a garden marinara sauce on hand instead. 

Greek Yogurt // I like regular yogurt, but I am more satisfied after having a thicker Greek Yogurt. I usually opt for the 100 calorie options available at the grocery store. 

Bananas // Just like apples, these are not a groundbreaking food item. Simple and cheap!

Zucchini // Zucchini is my latest obsession. I received a spiralizer for Christmas and am constantly making zucchini noodles and topping them with Pumpkin Chipotle sauce. To. die. for! Looking for a lower calorie noodle option? Give this a shot!

Cherry or Grape Tomatoes // Whether I put these in a salad or just eat plain, I almost always have tomatoes in my kitchen. 

Granola Bars // This past semester, I have been going to the gym at 6:30am on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I like to have a quick snack before heading to the gym. 

Others not pictured:

Frozen Berries // For smoothies, I always have frozen berries or other frozen fruit in my freezer. These are also great in your oatmeal during the winter months. 

Red Wine Vinegar // I love having red wine vinegar on my kale salads. If you aren't a huge vinegar fan, this might not be for you. 

COFFEE // How could I forget coffee?! I ALWAYS have coffee in my cupboard!! "Hi! My name's Amanda and I am a coffee addict!" There. I said it.

What food items do you always have on hand? I'd love to get some new ideas from you all!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love Yourself First

With talk of roses, chocolates, and love filling the air, this time of year has gotten me thinking about a different kind of love—the love for one’s self. All too often I hear of people scrutinizing themselves, myself included. We are our harshest critics after all. However, when was the last time that you gave yourself a compliment and focused on the positive parts of your life? You see, it’s all too easy to pass lackadaisically through our daily routine with a negative attitude. It’s the easier approach to take. Yet, a 2013 Harris Poll indicates that only 1 in 3 Americans consider themselves “very happy.” So why is it that the other 67% of Americans are unhappy? While there are a number of reasons that could be attributed to this unhappiness, I’m convinced that our unrest with ourselves is a large contributor. This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to offer three ways in which you can better love yourself starting today.

1.)    Focus on the Positive
Recently, I picked up the book The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon. In the book, Gordon enlightens readers on ways in which you can practice positive thinking to live a more fulfilling and successful life. A quote that resonated with me was:
“Every morning you have a choice. Are you going to be a positive thinker or a negative thinker? Positive thinking will energize you.”
Not only is it beneficial to think positively about your work life, but also about your personal attributes. Each morning, you can choose to look at yourself in the mirror and pick yourself apart. But what good will that do you? Instead, focusing on our positive qualities will help fuel us in moving forward towards the best version of ourselves.

2.)    Take Care of Yourself
Sometimes when we become busy with the rush of our daily life, we forget to take care of ourselves. Sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet are often put on the back burner. When you begin to build a healthier relationship with the foods you eat and your overall health, the more you will want to take better care of yourself in all areas of your life. Keeping your health in check is one of the best ways you can possibly love yourself.
Bela and I like to exercise together when I'm back in South Dakota :)

3.)    Do something to make others happy
As you read this next tip, you might be exclaiming “but hey, I thought this was about ME loving MYSELF.” That’s true, but if there’s one thing that I have learned in my life experiences is that sometimes the greatest happiness we will ever experience is a result of brightening other people’s days. In my undergraduate study, I traveled on a Spring Break mission trip each year. By that point in the semester, I was usually exhausted and ready for the time off. If I’m being perfectly honest, sometimes the thought of spending my break waking up early to serve others each day sounded like the last thing I wanted to do. However, it never failed that the time I spent serving with others was not only a humbling experience, but also a rejuvenating one.
Playing with my little pal, Sara, while I was in Tijuana for
Spring Break 2012

Taking the time to bring a smile to other people’s faces often boosts our own happiness and feelings of self-worth. It can be as simple of a gesture as paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Just try it.
I paid for a stranger's coffee the other day--
I felt so fulfilled after!

Valentine’s Day can be a sensitive time of the year. Either you are overflowing with excitement for your plans with your significant other or you are questioning why you are never good enough to have a special someone to spend that mid-February day with. Whichever way you are viewing Valentine’s Day this year, I challenge you to take time to love on yourself. I promise you this, it will be the best affair you can possibly partake in.