Posts tagged ‘relaxation’

Snow Day Fun: Homemade Bagels

My original plans for the weekend before last were to drive to NJ to see a certain little someone turn a year old. Mother nature had different plans though!
Guess 24.9 inches of snow in 24 hours is pretty impressive… but still doesn’t help my restlessness from being snowed in! I decided to use my housebound time fruitfully: I finished my FASFA, did some paperwork for school, cleaned, and cooked… a lot. And I proved to myself that there is still a chemist left in me! I successfully made homemade bagels on my first attempt! I dutifully followed the recipe as closely as possible, but had to do a lot of converting since I don’t have a functional kitchen scale. (Anyone know where to buy weird batteries?) I found this really helpful chart that made the recipe possible. I was a little worried when the dough was really dry and tough initially, but the final result was impressive! A good-sized, fluffy bagel with a crunch to the outside and a soft fluffy interior! If I can bake bagels, I am convinced that anyone can! I had fun with the toppings – sesame seeds on 6, and chia seeds on the other 4. I can’t choose a favorite, both are so good! Nothing better after a morning of shoveling than a hot, fresh bagel sandwich waiting for you.
If you have a kitchen scale, follow the original amounts. It will most likely have even better results, and more evenly sized bagels. If you don’t, I included my conversions below to save you some work!

Question: How did you spend your snowed-in time?


Honey Wheat Bagels

original recipe from here, makes 10 bagels

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups + 1 tbsp bread flour

1 3/4 cups water (80F)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar

4 1/2 tsp honey

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp instant dry yeast

Please see original recipe for instructions. A few notes: the recipe is a little too big for most food processors. You can mix and knead by hand! I also had to add a few drops of water to get all of the dough to combine.

February 18, 2013 at 7:00 am 4 comments

WIAW Back in the Swing of Things

Well, it is about time that I face reality. Even though it is abnormally warm in Boston, my beach vacation is over and I am back to the books for the next two months. I will be putting in some long days of studying for the USMLE Board Exams, so my routine is starting to look pretty monotonous. Study, eat, study, run, shower, eat, study, study, study, eat, sleep. I didn’t know it was humanly possible to sit for so long and cram so much information into my brain each day! At least I have good, healthy food to power me through the day.

Breakfast: 7:30am


A productive day always starts with a good bowl of oatmeal in my book. I made my trail mix oatmeal, adding cinnamon and chia seeds to the mix and cooked in just water, since I have run out of unsweetened almond milk! Delicious and wholesome, enjoyed with black, French press coffee and a bottle of water.

Morning snack: 11am


Before my sprint work out, I needed a little fuel to carry me through. My favorite pre-run snack is dates dipped in almond butter. They are sweet and protein packed, but won’t sit heavy in your stomach while running. Enjoyed, of course, with another bottle of water. (Gotta make my 3L for the Game On challenge!)

Lunch: 1:30pm


The warmer weather makes salad eating much more enjoyable! A few friends and I met for lunch, and sat on the lawn in front of school to take full advantage of the beautiful weather! I had a big bowl of lettuce topped with thawed corn, peas, a black bean burger, and salsa. This was pretty spicy, and huge! Good thing I had a big bottle of water to wash it down with!

Afternoon snack: 4pm


I was pretty hungry after my morning of sprinting and biking, so I had a big bowl of Greek yogurt when I got home! I used some applesauce to sweeten it, and added a bit of almond butter, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in an attempt to get something comparable to a chocolate pudding. It wasn’t exactly what I was going for, but it tasted good enough. Plus, the protein powered me through the rest of my afternoon of studying!

Dinner: 7:45pm


An impromptu roommate dinner was called for by Marie this morning! Who am I to say no to a chance to cook a delicious meal while processing life with such a good friend? We made what I am calling Cauliflower Dal, and it might be the best recipe we have concocted in quite some time. It is simple, flavorful, and really healthy! The recipe post will be up tomorrow, if you are interested! We chose naan over rice to help soak up the sauce, and enjoyed a leisurely dinner together.

Even though my day was busy and life is starting to get stressful, my health is a priority and I am glad to take the time each day to prepare and fill myself with good, nutritious food! Remind me that when things get even crazier in the upcoming months!

Question: What is the best thing you ate today?

March 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm 5 comments

WIAW Relaxing at Home Edition

Happy Wednesday everyone! I have had the best few days at home and have thoroughly taken advantage of my vacation from school. For anyone still facing 2 more days at work, keep that sweet holiday vacation in the forefront of your mind… Christmas will be here soon! My days have been filled with baking Christmas cookies, making awesome meals with my mom and sister, crafting, gift wrapping, and relaxing on the sofa. I could get used to being this spoiled with so much free time pretty quickly! Here is a peek into my day that isn’t spent hunched over textbooks for hours on end. Be sure to check out Peas and Crayons and the WIAW link party for other weekday meal ideas.

Breakfast: 9am


Eggnog Spiced Oatmeal

I enjoyed sleeping in and waking up to no alarm. I caught up on some blog reading from bed on my phone, snagged a handful of peanut butter pretzels, and then went out for a short run. I am finally over the worst of my head cold and was itching to get outside. I only made it a mile, but it felt good to just get out and get moving. After a short set of free weights and a shower, I made eggnog spiced oatmeal. I am not a huge fan of eggnog because it is too thick and sweet, but like the way this hints at the Christmas time classic. A little banana for natural sweetness, with vanilla and rum extracts, cinnamon and nutmeg for eggnog flavor. I loved it the way it was, but my sister added a bit of brown sugar to make it taste more like classic eggnog. A great and filling holiday breakfast either way!

Lunch: 1pm


A ginormous salad with bakery bread

My mom is much better stocked with salad veggies and fun condiments than I am, so I enjoyed making a killer salad for lunch. Red leaf and romaine salad, carrots, radishes, snap peas, roasted broccoli, goat cheese, and black bean and corn salsa – salad heaven! With a slice of bakery bread on the side, I could barely finish! My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I had to sacrifice a few of the snap peas.



All made from recycled magazine pages!

I spent the rest of the day at my friend’s house for a crafternoon. I am really excited about what I made, all out of recycled magazine pages! The top is a coaster, then a pair of earrings, and what will soon become a necklace. I was Pinspired again, and was happy to have a few hours to kill making a craft. It is much easier than it looks, so check out the tutorial and give it a try.

Dinner: 7:15pm


Vegetarian dumplings with extra cabbage and edamame on the side

My mom and I love coming up with dinner creations based on what we have lying around the fridge and pantry, and tonight’s meal was a definite winner! We sauteed up about 1/3 head red cabbage, 1/2 head green cabbage, 1/4 of a large red onion, and 4 grated carrots in some sweet ginger sauce, and then made vegetarian dumplings out of them. A quick boil to cook the shell, and dinner was ready! Enjoyed with some shelled edamame and what was left of the dumpling filling for a delicious, vegetarian meal! (My dad has had vegetarian vegan dinners 3 nights in a row now without too much complaining – now that’s a good dad!)

Dessert 10:30pm


My taste tester treat

My sister and I made our last batch of Christmas cookies, so of course some taste testing had to happen! We like to create characters out of our Gingerbread men, so I chose to eat the “Running Man Gingy” since I love to run! These were our best ever Gingerbread men, and our best looking ones too! If you are looking for Christmas cookie recipes, check out my posts from earlier this week, and stop back tomorrow and Friday for the last two!

Question: Are you on vacation yet, or are you still counting down the days?

December 21, 2011 at 9:00 am 3 comments

Urban Camping and NH Hiking Adventure

New England fall – beautiful leaves, crisp air, and unpredictable weather. You learn quickly never to trust the weatherman up here, but it always a disappointment when the weather refuses to cooperate with your plans. What do you do when the camping adventure you had been planning for weeks gets rained out? You make the best of what you can!

We had planned to visit Wompatuck State Park for an overnight camping and day hike adventure. We were so excited for ‘smores (which my phone can’t spell and caused a few giggles at “snores”) and campfires, stars and fall foliage. If it rains after you have set up, it is manageable. But if it is raining continuously for the afternoon evening, with high chances of thunderstorms, it is no fun. We decided to change our plans, and “camped” in my apartment instead! We cooked dinner together, planned our hiking adventure for the next day, made ‘smores over the gas burner of my stove, and watched the beginning of my favorite 80’s adventure movie, The Goonies. No campfire, no stars, but just as much fun.


We got up early the next morning for the long drive. Since we couldn’t camp, we decided to go somewhere a little more exotic, like New Hampshire! Some of the best hiking in New England is in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and the drive was totally worth it. The fall foliage was at a peak, and the scenery even along the interstate was breathtaking. We literally stopped mid-conversation at times to verbally appreciate the beauty of the majestic surroundings. The parking lot for our trail was 7 miles off the interstate along a winding, bumpy park road. We left our car and were surprised at how much cooler it was just a few hours north of the city. We hoped we would stay warm enough hiking!

mt osceola


We followed the trail to Mt. Osceola, one of 48 four thousand footer’s in NH. The beginning of the path was treacherous, and we even questioned if it was the path. One of our friends fell immediately because of the wet leaves and rocks. She assured us that she was fine and wanted to keep going, so we forged ahead. We questioned the wisdom of continuing once again when we quickly reached a waterfall that we had to cross. A little more of a challenge than we had bargained for, but we were determined to have our hiking adventure! There were more stumbles and slips, streams to cross and boulders to climb as we made our way slowly up the mountain, but we persevered. A little less than 3 hours later, we made it to the top. It was worth the hike! The views of the surrounding White Mountains were breathtaking, especially with the fog rolling through the distance and the sunshine making feeble attempts to pull through. We were freezing (literally, it was probably only 30 degrees at the summit), but we explored the overlook for as long as we could stand it. We found a little bit of rock face that was more protected from the wind so we could enjoy our PB&J, and only headed back for the trail when we couldn’t feel our fingers, faces and toes. Note to self: next time, bring a hat!




Our original plan included the second summit, East Osceola, but our later start, cold fingers, and poor terrain told us to turn around. We descended the mountain much more quickly, but still had to be careful of the slippery rocks. It began to hail almost immediately after we left the summit, so we were really happy with our decision to cut our loop short. The hail stopped and the sun came out for a few more brief periods, allowing us to enjoy the full beauty of the colorful carpeting that seemed thicker around us than we we began the climb. There truly is nothing like New England fall.

Safely back at the car, we stretched our hurting knees (we’re too young to feel old!) and refueled on some snacks. The trail mix combo for this trip was a hit! Cinnamon Puffins, cocoa roasted almonds, peanuts, raisins, and honey roasted soy nuts. Even after this tasty snack, we were still hungry less than halfway through our drive home! We had covered quite a few miles that day (6.4 to be exact!) and a lot of elevation! We rewarded ourselves with a stop at a Manchester legend, the Red Arrow Diner. This place was tiny, and it was hopping! We had to wait for a bit for a table, but once again the patience was worth it. We all feasted on breakfast for dinner. The guys had the King’s breakfast, which took up two plates each! The girls were more modest in portion sizes, but still enjoyed homestyle eggs, hashbrowns and toast. No night drive would be complete without a little car karaoke on the way home, and a few stars viewed from the sun moon roof!

red arrow diner

Lesson learned from this weekend: you can plan all you want, but you can never fully be in control. So learn to go with the flow and enjoy the time in the company of great friends!

October 17, 2011 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Birthday Hike in the Blue Hills

What could be a better birthday present than an entire day spent outside with great friends? I can’t think of any! Med school tried to steal my birthday thunder by having our Infectious Disease exam the day after my birthday, so I decided to steal the rest of the weekend for birthday celebrations. To celebrate turning 23, I spent Saturday hiking in the Blue Hills Reservation just south of Boston with three of my friends.
We chose the Blue Hills because it was close and none of us had been there before. Sure, Boston is close to great hiking destinations like Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, but day hikes in these scenic New England locations often require 5am wake up calls to beat the masses to the trails. The Blue Hills Reservation was literally a 20 minute drive, and a 9am departure was much more friendly for this brain-dead med student. We hiked the Skyline trail, one of the more challenging in the reservation. There were at least 4 hills that we climbed, giving us a pretty good workout without being too much to handle. We made it to the Great Blue Hill in two and a half hours, and lingered over breathtaking views of the city skyline in the distance.
We found a rock just beyond the lookout to enjoy our lunch. Homemade peanut butter with Nutella on homemade whole wheat bread (a gift from my friend Vince) with apple slices (from my friend Sam’s parents’ backyard in CA) and trail mix. Such a great lunch! We lounged on the rocks for an hour, soaking in the sun and the calming silence of nature, interrupted only by random thoughts or fits of laughter.
Our hike back was marked by silence, since Marie and Mere were fast hikers and had pulled ahead, and Sam and I were brain-dead from the exam and were enjoying the thoughtlessness of walking through the woods.

I loved the Blue Hills, how close it is to Boston, and how restorative a hike can be for your mind and soul. I am really looking forward to heading back when the leaves start to change! Fall is definitely the best season in New England, and captivates me enough to not remember how harsh the northern winter that will soon befall can be.

After a whole day outside, I got to enjoy an evening outdoors as well! My friend Jon has been trying to host a BBQ for months now and has previously had 2 rainouts. Third time was the charm! A bunch of friends gathered and spent the beautiful, crisp evening outdoors.
Jon was quite the grill master, making veggies skewers and asparagus spears, as well as tons of grilled chicken and the hit of the night – bacon wrapped chicken bites filled with jalapeno cream cheese. He is quite the cook/host! The night ended with a birthday cake by Vince, not pictured because it was too dark outside. Somehow, he managed to figure out my favorite cake combo with no direction from me other than, “I just want a cake!” He made a fluffy white cake, split into four layers and filled with a strawberry mousse, and then iced thinly with the best chocolate frosting I have ever eaten.

My friends made me feel so loved, from my community group’s surprise cake on Thursday to all of the birthday phone calls and messages to my hike and BBQ on Saturday. I am so grateful to have so many incredible people in my life and am looking forward to another fantastic year!

September 18, 2011 at 9:20 am 7 comments

Packing a Picnic


Our daily life in Orebic was all about relaxation. We would run along the ocean in the morning, then walk to the market for fresh bread and any odds and ends we needed for the day. After a breakfast of fresh fruit and bread with nutella, we would make sandwiches and pack our picnic lunch for the beach. We would spend hours relaxing in front of the beautiful Adriatic Sea, alternating between swimming, reading and napping. Put best by Melissa, “The extent of my planning right now is to finish this chapter, turn over, and then take a nap.” If that isn’t relaxing, I don’t know what is!


There is pretty much only one type of bread in Croatia, just baked into a bunch of different shapes and sizes! One of my bakery transactions was solo, since Azra was picking up something at the pharmacy next door. I stood in front of the wall of bread trying to figure out what to get, when the woman informed me that they were all basically the same and it was impossible to make a bad choice. How true that is when the bread is freshly baked each day! We got huge round rolls one morning, which were bigger than my face! Another morning, we decided to get the longer sandwich rolls.



The sandwiches were pretty simple – tomatoes and cucumbers, cheese, and ajvar. But they were oh so tasty! Ajvar is an Eastern European spread made of roasted red peppers and tons of spices. I miss it so much! It took what is a pretty plain sandwich to a whole new level! I either need to find somewhere in Boston to purchase this or figure out a way to make it on my own… any recommendations? ;)


We also got to enjoy picnic lunches while on the beach in Italy, and were quite adept at pulling together to-go meals for long travel rides. Simple meals of bread and cheese can be really satisfying when they are good quality, and eaten by starving travelers! Some fresh fruit on the side for balance and you have yourself a simple, portable and satisfying lunch.

Question: What is your idea of the perfect picnic?


September 2, 2011 at 9:00 am 4 comments

Cure for a Long Day at Work

Today was a really long day at work. It was a myriad of factors that coalesced into a perfect storm of exhaustion and frustration, leaving me completely beaten down by the end of the day. I wasn’t feeling well, I was tired and sore from sleeping on the couch (9 people in our modest house is a lot!), and the day started with an ominous tone. Our first patient clearly did not want help. They were angry at being old, and refused to face the truth about their manageable illness. By the end of our ten minute encounter, I was questioning what the point of the visit even was. Luckily, the next patient had a complete and opposite countenance, giving me some hope for my future to actually help people as a health care provider. However, the tone in the office was yet again sobered by a visit from a less-than-friendly representative from a state-run charity program that my doctor participates in. By lunchtime, I wanted to bury my head in the sand, and was so exhausted that I took a ten minute nap on the steps outside of the building. I never nap, so that can tell you about my morning! I felt energized for the afternoon for the next hour, but exhaustion soon hit again when I realized that we were completely overbooked. Somehow, twelve patients were scheduled within our last hour of the day – an impossible feat when each person is designated a minimum of ten minutes. This kept us in the office for an extra hour! While it was a long and busy day, I did learn a lot – I even got to remove my first set of stitches! My excitement for the day’s events was simply dampened by my fatigue.

I got home and was in need of some serious recovery. My grandparents and mom greeted me with a glass of red wine on the back patio, and let me vent about the day. That was the first step in my cure for a long day. I suddenly felt energy enough to pull together a fantastic dinner (which I will tell you all about tomorrow!) I knew that dessert was in order, and but wanted something light. Good thing for me that my lovely friend Helen had sent me a message a few days ago about a fantastic dessert she had been hooked on. Glazed peaches over ice cream? What could be more perfect! Helen, I can totally see how you have been making this so many nights in a row! I’m going to have to get more fruit to make this again… so simple and perfect. Step two in my recovery. Finally, after dessert, I sat down for a little bit of yoga. Usually, I am too energetic and hyperactive to quiet my mind long enough to practice yoga. However, it was exactly what I needed tonight. It was relaxing, energizing, and a great way to stretch my muscles that are always sore after being on my feet for 8-10 hour days. I want to continue to try yoga at least once a week this summer, and see if I can incorporate it into my normal exercise routine. I know how great the stretches are for running recovery, and really think this might be a good way to help me learn to relax as well!


Question: What do you do to relax at the end of a long day?


Balsamic Glazed Peaches

serves 5-6, recipe adapted from Helen

3 – 4 peaches

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp milk

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp agave nectar (or sub 1 tbsp vanilla)

vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except for peaches. A thick syrup should form. Cut the peaches into thirds or slices, and dip in the syrup. Add to a pan coated in cooking spray and cook on low heat until peaches begin to get soft. Once peaches are a desired texture, turn the heat in the pan up so that the syrup begins to thicken and fully bubble. Serve peaches over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, with the remaining syrup as a crunchy drizzled brittle.

For more peach recipes, check out:
Peach on FoodistaPeach

June 2, 2011 at 11:03 pm 3 comments

One Year Down, Three to Go


I am done with my first year of medical school! It feels surreal to even say that. I have learned so much this year. The volume of information and number of pages I have memorized is insane. While the details are long forgotten, many of the major principles are well ingrained in my mind. I have begun to learn a new language, a new way of thinking about the body and health, a new way of interacting with things I used to take for granted. While the knowledge I have gained is astounding, it is likely to be lost more quickly than the other important lessons I have learned about myself. I have become more introspective, a little more intuitive, have found what I am really passionate about, and have deepened great friendships as well as made new ones. It is hard to sum up a year, but here are some random thoughts…

Favorite class: Endocrinology. I am really interested in appetite and weight regulation, a lot of which is hormonally driven!

Least favorite class: Neuroscience. I may have referred to this in previous posts as my dark days. I have never struggled through a class with so much hatred before in my whole life.

Most important life lesson: Do something fun every day, even if you are busy and stressed out. It can be a long run, a cup of coffee with a friend, or dinner with your roommate. But take a break once in a while!

Something I am still working on: Learning to relax. I still spend my days off with to-do lists of things I could not accomplish during stressful study and exam periods, and am not good at just sitting down to do nothing. I fear that this has led to burn-out for me in the past, and I want to learn how to relax better on a more regular basis, when possible, to prevent this.

Favorite dinner I made: Homemade whole-wheat pasta with a butternut squash sauce, adapted from this recipe. I made some changes to lighten it up, but don’t remember quite what I did. When squash season rolls around again, I will be sure to make it again. My roommate and I agree that is quite possibly the best thing we have ever eaten!

Best book I read: This is a pretty small list this year… I was lent And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts by my Clinical Medicine instructor, and really enjoyed the combination of history and character narrative that laid out the history of the AIDS epidemic. It is a dense read and took me a while to get through, but was fascinating!

Thing I am most looking forward to this summer: I will be at home with my family shadowing a family medicine doctor for the first five weeks, and then will be traveling throughout Eastern Europe! While I love my family, I think you can tell what I am most excited about ;)


That right there is a picture of my now busted backpack. North Face backpacks should last forever… unless you overstuff them for 5 years in a row… I tried to fix it, but failed. Guess a new backpack is in order! Amazing that I can even balance on my bike like that!

I’d say its time to trade that in for a fun weekend in Boston with my sister, and then a fun-filled summer after that! (photo by Amanda Dolly Photography)

76374_145548758827848_111308112251913_218090_440276_nQuestion: Do you have any exciting summer plans?

May 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm 5 comments

Get Moving!

Exercise has been one of the ways I have been able to maintain my sanity through my first year of medical school. It helps me relax, process my thoughts, relieve stress, and get out nervous energy to allow me to sit still through long classes or study sessions. I stopped running because of the cold and snow during our winter neuroscience block, and my friends can attest that I was not a happy person to be around during that time. (And no, it wasn’t just the class subject that was bringing me down…) Exercise is a natural mood enhancer thanks to endorphins! Endorphins are your body’s natural happy pill, and have been shown to combat depression. (Looking at pictures of puppies may also help combat depression, but probably without the cardiovascular effects…) Exercise not only releases these little molecules, but also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine for an even bigger happy punch. As long as you get your heart rate up, you should get that feel-good endorphin feeling. According to this article, if you are new to exercise, you should feel an even bigger rush from the endorphins!

If the “runner’s high” isn’t enough reason for you to get out and get moving, maybe your health will persuade you. Exercise has more than just cardiovascular benefits. Sure, a good run will improve your endurance, lower your heart rate, help maintain a healthy blood pressure, blah blah blah, but did you know that it also helps prevent type II diabetes? (Nerd alert, don’t say you weren’t warned!) Exercise helps increase the glucose (a simple sugar) utilization by your muscles, which helps lower your blood sugar levels. This helps lower circulating insulin levels to possibly prevent, and maybe even reverse, insulin resistance, which is often seen in type II diabetes. Plus, it will help you loose weight by triggering your fat cells to break down their stored fat, which will further decrease your risk of diabetes. Heart health and lower risk of diabetes? Yes please!

As if you need more convincing at this point, remember that exercise will help create a negative energy balance, which helps you loose weight. It will also convert fat to muscle, which increases your basal metabolic rate, further increasing your daily energy expenditure. Here is a little comparison of calorie expenditure per mile and per hour of my three favorite activities (thanks to this tool). Remember that even though the cal/hour count is higher, your ability to sustain that activity might be lower. You might be able to walk for a full 3 miles, but only run one at the listed pace, and therefore walking would help you burn more calories.

BIKING: At 12 mph (a pretty sustainable pace), you expend 453 cal/hr, or 37.75 cal/mile on your bike. This hour is equivalent to about 2 Snickers bars or 2 cans of soda.

RUNNING: A 9 minute mile will burn about 93 cal/mi, or 623 cal/hr. This hour is equivalent to 8 glasses of wine (I’d be on the floor if I even thought of drinking that much!)

WALKING: A moderate, 3 mph pace will burn about 62.3 cal/mi, or 187 cal/hr. This hour is equivalent to about 2/3 of a grande whole-milk latte.

So, exercise makes you happy, healthy, and toned? I’m sold.

Now, as much as I love running and biking and getting a good work out, there are just some days that I still cannot convince myself to get out and get moving, even with all of the benefits that I know it will bring. I justify my laziness with a long day, a long week, bad weather, or any other number of even lamer excuses. More often than not, I will convince myself to get out for at least a 2 mile jog, and am usually more than happy that I did. Other days, I feel like I have been hit by a ton of bricks and simply can’t get out to run or bike. I think it is more important to love the time I spend doing these activities rather than forcing myself to complete them out of guilt, so I will occasionally allow myself to skip a little on my training schedule. I still have that extra nervous energy problem though, and have found that walking is key on these days. Walking is a great exercise option for anyone who has knee, back, or other joint problems, and can still be a great cardio work out if you push yourself! It is also a great alternative to meeting a friend for coffee or a meal or a snack – save yourself money and calories by taking a walk together instead. Walking can be great for alone time as well – I especially tend to focus my thoughts a little better when I am walking, and will often use long walks to pray or emotionally process the more difficult moments of my life.

(all images thanks to a Google search of stock photos)

No matter what you choose to do, love every minute of it. Whether it is walking, running, biking, weights, swimming, yoga, gardening, hiking, or any other activity, just get out and get moving! You will be glad you did!

Question: What is your favorite activity that gets you up and moving? What is one type of exercise you would like to try? Running is definitely my comfort zone and favorite way to break a sweat. I am just now incorporating more swimming and biking into my routine as part of my triathlon training. Biking for exercise and not merely transportation is still an interesting transition for me though… I also want to learn how to do yoga and incorporate some yoga poses into my stretching routine.

May 5, 2011 at 9:30 am 1 comment

Roommate Dinner

My roommate and I are both too busy for our own good. There can be days that go by when we see nothing of each other but the hurried dishes left in the sink. For that reason, we instituted weekly roommate dinners so that we can be sure to make time to hang out and catch up with what is going on in each others lives, and so she can learn a few new recipes and cooking techniques! We have been able to keep this us at least two to three times a month, which is pretty good considering our schedules. We usually make something simpler, like a stir fry, and occasionally get fancy with some homemade pasta. Last night was one of our fancier nights – we tested out a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi to use up all of those sweet potatoes!

My roommate was suspicious – she had never heard of gnocchi, and it took her until the end of our cooking for her to handle the pronunciation. When I broke out the rosemary for a browned butter sauce, she lost all faith. “It looks like a dried Christmas tree!” I almost died laughing. I told her to trust me – I usually know what I am doing.

We kneaded the dough, we rolled out logs, we cut up the gnocchi and shaped them over a fork. We boiled them until they floated, and then we lightly covered them with browned butter and rosemary. It looked beautiful. I was so excited to dive in. We took our first bite – not everything tastes as good as it looks! Maybe the dough was over-kneaded? Maybe the sweet potatoes don’t give rise to the same delightful pillow texture of regular potato gnocchi? Maybe it was the whole wheat flour? The flavor was definitely there but the texture was surely off. My friend recommended  putting the potatoes in a food processor next time since they tend to be more fibrous than regular potatoes. I will have to try again!

The side salad was much more successful! Baby spinach and arugula, goat cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts with some homemade balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below – approximate ratios written out, even though I usually just eyeball it!)… best salad combo ever, and all made with remnant ingredients in our fridge! Top that off with some great, deep conversation and 50% off Easter candy from Rite Aid and I think you have all of the ingredients for an excellent roommate dinner.

Question: How do you stay sane in your busy day-to-day life? A friend asked me this the other day, and I thought it was an excellent question. Med school can quickly become all-consuming and overwhelming, but I don’t want to become a stress-ball who can no longer talk to anyone about anything except for how hard school is. Roommate dinners and random meals or coffee breaks with non-classmate friends has been key for this. Some weeks are easier than others to fit this all in, but I wouldn’t trade those breaks for a few more points on an exam for anything. Also, having a morning routine of reading a chapter from the Bible or the devotional book I am reading for book club over a cup of coffee has also really been essential. This has helped me become more reflective and intuitive, which is important to learn how to deal with the emotional stress of medical school. Lastly, exercise has been another essential release. Even if it is a quick 2 mile run or a simple bike ride to school, having that time completely alone with my thoughts has been key. Plus, there is nothing like a good workout to help my focus when I get back to even the most boring of subjects! I would love to hear some of your ways to deal with stress!

Simple Balsamic vinaigrette

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cold water

Mix all ingredients in a shaker (I usually use an empty canning jar) until well combined. Pour over your salad, serve and enjoy!

April 27, 2011 at 9:59 am 4 comments

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