Posts tagged ‘food’

WIAW On Call

There are a lot of things you learn during your third year of medical school that are completely unrelated to medicine. A few examples…

The traffic lights in Boston neighborhoods don’t wake up until 6am. On my bike ride or drive to the hospital, I can’t help but think, “If the traffic lights don’t have to do their job, why do I?”

Scrubs are comfortable, but likely the least flattering work uniform ever invented. However, the draw of getting to wear free (to me) pajamas to work daily is the biggest appeal of surgical specialties, in my opinion.

Being awake and alert for 24 hours straight requires a lot of food, and some planning. Too often, call nights are sustained by chips, greasy fast food options, and sugary drinks. With a little planning, though, call days can be managed with healthy food choices and some sanity by the end of it! So, here is What I Ate Wednesday on my 24-Hour Obstetrics Call.



Travel mug of coffee with my last homemade bagel, half with almond butter and half with blackberry jam. Nibbled throughout my drive to the hospital and between pre-rounding tasks.


Lunch is usually the peak of a hospital cafeteria’s day, so I have found this is the best meal to purchase. The hospital I am at now has a GREAT salad bar that is not too expensive, so this tends to be my go-to option. That way, I make sure I get my veggies for the day! This salad had mixed greens, peas, chickpeas, carrots, sliced mushrooms, olives, feta, and noodle sticks with red wine vinegar and olive oil. With my student discount, it was only $4! Can’t beat that!


I never expect salads to hold me over all day, especially if things are busy and I am running around. For that reason, I always have a granola bar in my pocket for when afternoon hunger strikes! Having a healthy food option on hand helps prevent vending machine or nurse’s station munching. This Nature’s Valley Oats n’ Honey Crunch helped get me through the rest of a busy clinic session.



When the evening hours hit and the staff downsizes into night shift proportions, things become a little more unpredictable. This is when the motto, “Eat when you can, sleep when you can” comes into play. I reheated some leftover Thai Curry with Rice and started half of my dinner. Things started to get crazy though, and 2 C-sections later, I finished my dinner around 9:30pm.

Meanwhile, I had a few snacks between surgeries. A few clementines I had brought, a Ghiradelli chocolate square, and some saltines and 8-oz diet Gingerale taken from the nurse’s station helped to tide me over through a busy early evening.


My call night ended up being not busy after the early night rush, so my last granola bar served as “breakfast” to get me through morning rounds.

Some tips for new medical students planning for their first call:

Have lots of snacks. You don’t need to eat everything you have on you, but if things are busy, then you have lots of healthy food choices.

Have a few dollar bills on you. The only purchasable food options once the cafeteria closes down are from vending machines, and buying some trail mix is better than passing out in the OR from low blood sugar.

Have gum! And bring a tooth brush and toothpaste or mouthwash. You will probably want to freshen up your breath at some point…

You can try to bring all of your meals, but this can end up being a lot of food. If you do need to buy, buy lunch!

Eat when you can. Even if it is just a small snack, then you will have some energy when things get hectic.

Question: For any medical professionals reading, how do you handle planning for long hospital shifts?


February 27, 2013 at 7:00 am 1 comment

A Tale of Two Markets

While I was at home with my family, I got to explore two different markets with my mom! We went to the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia at the beginning of my vacation, and the Columbus Market in South Jersey towards the end of my time at home. Both were such fun experiences, and were very different despite both being Amish markets!
The Reading Terminal Market has been an integral part of Philadelphia since the late seventeenth century. It was established so that farmers, fisherman, and craftsmen could come together to exchange their goods. Today, it is more well-known for it’s fun lunch establishments and specialty ingredients stores, but still invokes the original purpose of mixing of goods and ideas.
It was so much fun to weave through the aisles, checking out traditional Amish canned goods, butcher shops with locally raised meat, candy shops with Pennsylvania Dutch classics, and people watching to find an odd collection of Philadelphia businessmen, tourists, and country farmers.
My favorite find of the day was a spice shop that sold bulk bags of lesser known spices, loose leaf teas, and fancy roasted coffees. I picked up some allspice and garam masala, as well as some loose leaf tea and a half pound of Frangelica roasted coffee beans. My mom and I went to the store twice, not getting everything we wanted the first time! The other highlight of this market was the prepared food. At noon, the indoor market was flooded with 9-to-5’ers on their lunch break, looking for a quick bite. You could find every time of cuisine, from traditional Pennsylvania Dutch to Cajun, Soul Food to Middle Eastern, American to Italian, and more. We circled the market twice before making up our minds on lunch – there were just too many options to choose from!
We settled on crepes, where my mom enjoyed a seafood crepe and I got a Mediterranean veggie. It was fun to sit at the counter and watch the guy make perfectly formed crepes one after the other, and it was even better to taste the delicious result! How such a thin crepe can be so light and fluffy is beyond my skill set, but has inspired me to learn how to make these delicious things myself!
Overall, I loved my experience at the Reading Terminal Market. I appreciated that it was indoors, so that you can get the fun market experience even throughout a cold winter. I also loved all of the specialty ingredients stores, and loved watching the mix of people flood past me.



Almost like book ends to my vacation, we visited the Columbus Farmer’s Market in Columbus, NJ before I left as well. If you described both of them to me, they would sound almost the same, but the experiences were so very different!
They both featured traditional Amish goods, like canned vegetables and jams, candies, baked goods, and traditional butchers, but the Columbus Market had a wider focus than just foods. They also sold handmade crafts, like intricately quilted pot holders, hand sewn table runners, country-style home decorations, and much more.
Beyond the Amish portion of the market, there were stores that sold all sorts of items at pretty good discounts. There was everything from an As Seen On TV shop to a discount scrapbook store, and everything in between. Outside, there are more tables set up with more typical market goods – perfume, knock off designer bags, hats, scarves, etc. Beyond that, there is a flea market that runs during the summer. We had fun exploring the indoor market, where we picked up a few bulk items, looked at all of the beautiful handiwork of the Amish crafts, and had a quick bite to eat.
Before leaving, we went to the true farmers part of the market. The produce was beautifully displayed in wooden baskets, and was remarkably cheap! Mom and I had a field day, picking up a bunch of fruits and vegetables to split between us. Even with self-restraint, I still ended up with at least four bags of squash, green beans, eggplant, potatoes, apples and oranges. I would love to go back in the summer at the peak of the NJ growing season!
Overall, I found the Columbus Market a better place to do food shopping. The prices on their produce were unbeatable, and the Amish bakery, butcher, and canned goods were amazing. There were not as many options, and the Amish are definitely not vegetarian friendly for lunch. (The only non-meat options were a soft pretzel or pizza.)


I had so much fun exploring both of these markets, and have come home loaded with some fun new spices and veggies to play with!

December 31, 2011 at 11:11 am 3 comments

Blog Action Day 2011 – What does food mean to your culture?

Happy World Food Day! This is a worldwide event that is designed to stimulate awareness and action against hunger and malnutrition. Check out their website for more information and a calendar of events, but more importantly, take some time to think about what you are eating. As a food blogger and future health professional, I highly value healthy food. Every bite we take keeps our bodies running. I am fortunate enough to not go to bed hungry, and to be able to purchase and cook with great, fresh, healthy ingredients. However, this is not everyone’s reality. Take some time to educate yourself on the myriad of issues that surround food – access, equality, globalization, sustainability. The list is endless, but fascinating. And important!

To celebrate this event, the topic for this year’s Blog Action Day is food! I learned about this through my friend – an excellent and thoughtful writer who I hope is participating in this community act, “designed to stimulate global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.” If you are reading this and want to add your own thoughts to the blogosphere, head to the website and register your blog. It will give you a list of topics to choose from, and then let your writing and thoughts flow from there! Check out other bloggers talking about this as well, and leave comments and questions to stimulate discussion. As we share and learn from each other, we can grow in awareness and be better advocates for food security for all.

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011

It was really hard to choose a topic, as there are so many nuances to issues surrounding food. I chose this stem because it is a burgeoning passion of mine, thinking about the intersection of food cultures and healthy eating. I have addressed some of the other issues in past posts ( see here for thoughts on organic food, a bit about my food philosophy as a vegetarian, some thoughts and more thoughts on affordability and access to food) Food, while of utmost importance is a means to health, is also a way of creating and sharing culture. Meals are steeped in family tradition, and memories are often created around the table. Foods can be very specific to the culture in which you were raised, and your food choices will likely be shaped by your family and culture for the rest of your life.

My food culture: American. My great grandparents were farmers, and home cooked food is highly valued in my family. (Explains a lot about my blog title, huh?) My mom always cooked rather than catered for big birthday parties, made homemade cake or cupcakes, and astounded my friends with her homemade mac’ and cheese. Thanksgiving was and is more about the food preparation than about the meal itself, and Christmas is as much about the cookie exchange as it is about the gifts. However, the specific foods are not as important in my family. We are adventurous in our cooking – my Grandma has fallen in love with quinoa (which I’d say is pretty adventurous for a 76 year old!), and my mom regularly introduces me to new grains and vegetables. Although there are some traditional family recipes rooted in farming days, we also love to explore other food cultures from around the world. Our homemade interpretations were always very Americanized, but they were baby steps at understanding how food is seen in other cultures.

My horizons were expanded even more broadly this summer while I was traveling. Food and drink are essential to understanding the core of a culture, and food traditions vary broadly depending on where you are. Some of these are beautiful, like the focus on high quality, fresh ingredients in Italy. Some of these less readily appeal to my view of food as a means for health, like the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in many traditional Czech and Bosnian dishes. However, they are both equally important in their respective food cultures.

The reason I have been thinking so much about the intersection of food and culture lately is because it seems like the whole foods/health conscious food movement has been taking off in a very white-centric manner. Many “healthy cookbooks” or “dieting recipes” are very comfortable in the framework within which I grew up: pretty standard American fare with the occasional forray into “cultural” meals. However, this food culture is not shared by most of the rest of the world. A Nigerian friend, for example, doesn’t understand the American obsession with pasta. A Korean friend didn’t know that a rice cooker wasn’t a standard household appliance, and didn’t know you could cook brown rice in it. Everyone brings their own lens to what a healthy meal looked like in their family. Healthy cooking should be able to fit into any cultural framework, and yet cultural food often seems to be excused from the health standards we judge other dishes. How do we make traditional foods lower in fat and salt and higher in nutrients without losing the soul of the dish? How do we marry these two concepts? This is a big question that I have only begun to thought about. I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue!

Question: What does food mean to your culture?

October 16, 2011 at 7:00 am 3 comments

The Wonderful Wedding

Who would have thought that was started eight and a half years ago would lead to this…


The wedding was absolutely beautiful, down to each detail and personal touch. For having only 3 months to plan, they did such a great job! Everything from the colors to the centerpieces, the ceremony to the slideshow, was amazing! Some of my favorite moments:
Getting ready at my house! The bridesmaids all spent the night at my house after the rehearsal dinner, and it was organized chaos the next morning as we all straightened and curled hair, did each others make up, snagged a bagel breakfast, and made it into the limo by 10am!


Seeing my best friend walk down the aisle. She is always beautiful, but she was absolutely glowing. Her dress was perfect, and you could just sense the peace and joy emanating from her soul. Like I said in my maid of honor speech, I so admire her intuitive emotion and love for others! You could see her love for her husband on her face as she walked down to meet him.
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Our youth pastor got to perform the ceremony! He has watched us grow up, and has been there since the beginning of my friend’s relationship. It was so awesome to see him bless my friends and their marriage.

Taking pictures in the beautiful weather! We got so lucky with the weather, since the ceremony was outside and we went to a nearby park to take pictures. It was sunny and beautiful, warm but not stifling. I can’t wait to see how the photos turned out!


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The first dances! Amanda’s music choices were spot on. Everyone was in tears, especially after she danced with her dad to “I Loved You First.” I’m not a crier and it even got me!


The food! The eggplant rollatini in the cocktail hour was beyond words good. The vegetarian option at dinner was the best I have seen at a wedding, too! It actually contained veggies and not just a sad pile of pasta or other carb. It was a veggie stack of eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers with green beans and mashed potatoes on the side. Yum!
There was so much happiness and love surrounding my friends on their wedding day. I am so happy for them and am excited for them to begin the rest of their lives together! Congrats guys!

September 8, 2011 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Wash it all Down with a Beer


I loved my time in Prague, but let’s just say the food there was not the highlight of my experience. Don’t get me wrong: I loved the architecture, had fun exploring the city, and really enjoyed experiencing all that Prague had to offer. Oh, and I loved the Czech pilsners. Why let food take the main stage, then, when the beer is so good?


A lot of our meals in Prague were not the healthiest. But they were good, and went really well with the beer. Some highlights: fried cheese, schnitzel, and Barvarian sausage. Fried cheese, or smažený sýr, is esentially a glorified mozzarella stick, but with a different cheese in the shape of a patty. You can enjoy it as an appetizer, a snack, or make it into a meal with the choice of American potatoes or French fries (can anyone guess the difference here?) Azra and I got this with an order of chicken schnitzel, a thin chicken breast dipped in egg and then coated in flour and lightly pan fried. Our schnitzel came with a mushroom sauce, and our choice of potato side. We got an order of American potatoes with one, essentially seasoned potato wedges, and fries with the other, and shared everything that was on the table. The American potatoes were so much better, or maybe I was just really missing home and extra-patriotic at this point! ;) Of course, we each had a big beer to help everything go down.


Another highlight delicacy street meal was a Barvarian sausage. It was our final night in Prague, and we were short on cash and full from our earlier heavier meal of svíčková. We stopped by a street vendor in Wenceslas Square, where Azra got a chicken burger and I, going all out for one of my last days as an omnivore, got a sausage. It was my first time in three years (the last time was an Italian sausage at Fenway Park). It was tasty greasy, and filling, like any good street dog should be. Not a decision I would repeat, but a fun way to spend our last beautiful night – sitting outside, enjoying the food, tourist watching, and soaking up the scenery.



August 25, 2011 at 9:00 am 8 comments

Stuffed with Love

Bosnian cuisine can be summed up in one word: stuffed. As my friend jokes, a Bosnian will try to stuff anything with rice, meat or cheese at least once. They certainly are good at it! From the ubiquitous pita (more to come on this!) to the stuffed cabbage leaves to sogan dolme (stuffed onions), many of their nationally treasured dishes are meat-filled delights. During our stay in Sarajevo, Azra took us to a beautiful restaurant in the hills where her brother held his wedding reception. While considered upscale in Sarajevo, the price of the food was still reasonable – comparable to The Cheesecake Factory pricing. More so, food is generally cheap at the market, so dinner is typically eaten at home. Like I have said, any visit to Azra’s parents house will yield a multi-course dinner made with love. Restaurant dinners are reserved mainly for special occasions, and for this reason, Park Princeva was populated more by foreign tourists (it was pretty much the only place in Sarajevo where we didn’t stand out while speaking English!) than Bosnian natives.


The restaurant was known not just for its food, but also for its breathtaking panoramic views of the whole city. We sat and soaked in the atmosphere while waiting for our food. Of course I had to try sogan dolme!

On my plate was a small green pepper, tomato, and onion, all stuffed with meat and rice. I was so impressed by this dish. Not only was the filling really flavorful, but also both the meat and the veggies were soft and tender while still being artfully stuffed. They sat in a delicious broth that I mopped up with some bread – couldn’t find a drop on my plate!


Although a bit stuffed already, we ordered dessert so we could extend our stay and watch the sparkling lights of the city. To our surprise, we got to see a thunderstorm roll in as well! We enjoyed palatschinke, a crepe (slightly fluffier than the French version) filled with Nutella and some homemade raspberry ice cream – the perfect end to a perfect evening.



Since returning, I have been inspired again to stuff veggies! My mom, sister and I trekked to the West Cape May Farmer’s Market on Tuesday evening to see what produce we could find to inspire dinner. We got some heirloom tomatoes and local cucumbers so I could show them an Eastern European salad, and we got a few huge green peppers and a sicilian eggplant to stuff. I will definitely be on the lookout for another one of these eggplants – they are a lighter purple and more round than your usual eggplant, and have a much thinner skin and delicate flavor. The inside is surprisingly easy to scoop out and stuff, but I forgot to take pictures of my eggplant exploits! Oh well, just excuse to make it again ;)

July 28, 2011 at 9:00 am 4 comments

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