weeknight (vegan) mac + cheese

For the weeks you don’t meal prep – exactly how I came across creating this dish – this one will be ready in about 20 minutes and makes plenty for the remainder of the week. Dairy free, can be made gluten free, one of my favorite foods, and 2 green vegetables. All in one. It can’t get much better for a quick and easy meal!

Let me clarify something before we get started. Daiya Foods is a company that is proudly dairy free and offers *overall* pretty wholesome ingredients in their products, however, it is considered a processed food.

CHEEZE SAUCE INGREDIENT LIST:

Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Non-GMO Expeller Pressed: Canola and/or Safflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Sea Salt, Vegan Natural Flavours, Pea Protein Isolate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Cane Sugar, Lactic Acid (Vegan), Xanthan Gum, Yeast Extract, Titanium Dioxide (A Naturally Occurring Mineral), Annatto (Colour), Onion

(Daiya Foods). 

Sure, this food product is processed, meaning it isn’t entirely “clean” but I am clarifying, again, that this meal is intended to be a weeknight meal when you’re short on time – and you could be consuming things far worse than this cheeze sauce. 😀 if you have any questions regarding the ingredients, you can always send me a direct message or shoot me an email!

ANYWAY, let’s get started!


Ingredients:

  • 1 box pasta of choice – whole wheat, Banza, other gluten-free variations if desired
  • 1 pkg Daiya foods cheese sauce
  • 1 c. broccoli
  • 1 c. snap peas
  • 1 tsp garlic

Directions:

  1. boil water and add noodles once boiling.
  2. take two microwave-bowls and in the first, add broccoli, and in second bowl, add snap peas. Put about a tablespoon of water in each bowl. Microwave each of them (covered) to steam for about 3 minutes each.
  3. Drain pasta in a colander when al-dente.
  4. Add garlic to hot pan with a dash of olive oil and saute for about 5 minutes.
  5. Turn the burner off.
  6. Return pasta back to pot on burner that you have turned off (it’s still warm).
  7. Add pkg of Daiya foods cheeze of choice along with steamed vegetables.
  8. Add about a teaspoon of each of the following (or more if you prefer): garlic powder, black pepper, dried Italian herbs, Mrs. Dash, and nutritional yeast.
  9. Thoroughly combine and serve!
  10. enjoy!

This makes multiple servings so if you neglected to meal prep (as I did when I created this recipe), you’ll have more to go around for the rest of the week. 😀

Happy eating!

xx,

M

apple cinnamon whole grain muffins

Healthy, happy, hearty breakfasts on-the-go are the best breakfasts in my humble, almost-nutritionist opinion. 😉 Starting the day off with whole grains helps your body keep a steady supply of energy throughout the morning, both eliminating that dreaded, nap-inducing sugar crash, and prevents a 10-am-lunchbox raid.

Let’s get started!


APPLE CINNAMON WHOLE GRAIN MUFFINS

*recipe is vegetarian and can be made dairy/gluten free*

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar/coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c. greek yogurt (or plant-based yogurt of choice)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1 finely diced apple of choice

Directions:

  1. Combine first SIX ingredients (wet ingredients) in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine next SIX ingredients (dry ingredients).
  3. Slowly add dry mixture into wet mixture, combining thoroughly.
  4. Fold in diced apple lastly.
  5. Scoop into muffin tins lined with muffin liners and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375
  6. Enjoy!

*serving suggestions: top with nut butter for an easy extra protein, or eat with a hard boiled egg and and half an avocado packed together for a complete breakfast on the go!

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Happy eating!

xx,

M

 

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

If you’re looking for nutrition FACTS, advice, and how to improve your diet and quality of life overall, read this one. It is written by Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH with the Harvard School of Public Health.

This book reiterated many of the concepts I have learned throughout my undergrad and showcases a number of studies with new information that might not be what you’d think! Dr. Willett goes through the timeline of the American “healthy” eating guides such as the original food pyramid from the 1990s, and what is challenging about following the current “MyPlate” guidelines.

1990s food pyramid.jpg
remember this one? SOURCE: http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/usda-food-pyramid.html
my plate
current US meal guidelines. SOURCE: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate

BY THE WAY: the book was updated in 2017 SO this is the latest information you’ll find regarding diet and nutrition.

This book gives you a breakdown of nutrition, and most importantly, gives you a variety of sources as to WHERE to get your protein, carbs, and vitamins!

Breakdown of Chapters:

  1. Healthy Eating Matters
  2. Of Pyramids, Plates, and Dietary Guidelines
  3. What Can You Believe About Diet?
  4. Healthy Weight
  5. Straight Talk About Fat
  6. Carbohydrates for Better and Worse
  7. Choose Healthier Sources of Protein
  8. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
  9. You Are What You Drink
  10. Calcium: No Emergency
  11. Take a Multivitamin for Insurance
  12. The Planet’s Health Matters Too
  13. Putting It All Together
  14. Healthy Eating in Special Situations
  15. Shopping Tips, Recipes, and Menus

I was #blessed and found this book for a steal at a bookstore’s closing sale (overall, sad), but YOU can find this book right here for about $15 paperback. I strongly recommend this read to anyone who wants to learn more about evidence-based nutrition practice, and to anyone else who wants to learn the best things to put in their body.

Happy reading, and I hope you find yourself as fascinated as I am with overall diet and nutrition!

xx,

M

 

job shadow: CARDIOLOGY

A morning with an on-call cardiologist can be as variable and exciting as the days the emergency department has graciously prepared me for. Here’s how I spent my morning:

I started the day chatting with Dr. G’s nurse about the schedule, procedures, and variability in patient cases in cardiology. After Dr. G, an interventional cardiologist, had finished rounding for the morning, I joined him to see his first and only clinic patient of the day. The individual had a new onset of shoulder pain when beginning a new exercise regimen, and after both a negative EKG and stress test, was cleared. Dr. G did an exceptional job of explaining everything to his patient, reaffirmed by the genuine “thank you” and kind words he received. This was an excellent reminder of the clinician I aspire to be.

After finishing up with the sole clinic patient of the day, Dr. G and I headed to the cardiac catheterization (cath) lab. Dr. G was on call, but simultaneously had two scheduled angiograms to rule out occlusions.

The first procedure, I observed from the station with the cath lab techs and nurses who explained the procedure to me. I quickly realized how brief the procedure was (only about 15 minutes start to finish), and then reviewed the pictures with Dr. G. It was negative, but very interesting to watch the contrast flowing through the coronary arteries!

The second procedure, another angiogram, Dr. G invited me in the cath lab. I donned surgical scrubs, gowned and gloved (and masked), and wore lead to prevent radiation exposure. This time, I was able to see Dr. G thread the radial artery and inject dye through and into the heart. Unlike the previous angiogram I saw, there was notable blockage and Dr. G concluded that the patient would need either triple or quadruple bypass surgery rather than cardiac stents.

The photo depicts an image similar to what I had seen on the left.

angiogram.png
coronary angiogram – A: before cardiac catheterization (notable blockage) B – after cardiac catheterization; occlusion notably improved **not my image** (see below for image credit)

After talking to Dr. G about conscious sedation, he explained that he uses Versed and fentanyl and only the smallest amounts to start, because it isn’t necessary to completely sedate the patients during the procedure. He explained that he can always increase the dosage if the patient is uncomfortable.

Lastly, Dr. G got a page from the internal medicine doctor for a patient on the floor. This too, presented a learning opportunity for me – I listened to abnormal breath sounds and heard a heart murmur for the first time.


A few things that drew me in:

  • the opportunity to educate patients about their health and how to make lifestyle changes.
  • the near-instantaneously relief that interventional cardiology provides in such a small, minimally invasive procedures.
  • the high-acuity and helping sick, sick individuals recover.

 


Three takeaways: 

  1. Interventional cardiology is more reactive rather than proactive.
  2. Educating the patient is probably the most effective way to not only achieve greater patient satisfaction, but will also increase the probability that the patient will be motivated to make changes. 
  3. The correlation between heart disease and diabetes is notably strong. 

Shadowing physicians and being in the hospital, especially at the beginning of a long semester reminds me why I still choose medicine every day. The opportunity to spend an entire day with the gift of having the ability to improve someone’s quality of life sounds like a career I still hope to have.

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I look like a surgeon.

For my guide to having a positive shadowing experience in the hospital yourself, click here!

Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

 

**Image credit: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Coronary-angiogram-A-Total-occlusion-of-the-mid-RCA-and-70-narrowing-of-proximal-RCA_6875106_fig2

Bedside Manners + For the Healthcare Pro

My friend over at @heardtohealed on Instagram, Stephen Groner, has combined his experiences of being an ENT patient, and having a career in speech-language pathology and wrote a book full of simple ways for you and I to improve our interactions with patients – making our jobs more enjoyable, and our patients’ satisfaction greater!


Stephen breaks down bedside manner into three chapters:

  1. Starting: Impressive First Impressions
  2. Listening: Giving Them the Mic
  3. Talking: What to Say and How to Say It

In my clinical experience so far, I have found that it can be challenging to relate to patients, relay information, and rationalize a scenario with a patient or their family when they are angry, frustrated, or feeling other hard-to-cope-with emotions. Though these situations tend to get easier the more one experiences them, it remains difficult to know if you are doing or saying the “right thing.” According to Stephen, you’ll learn that sometimes silence is better, and a gesture means more than finding the right thing to say.

Read this book, a quick read (under 70 pages), and reference it when you want to refresh your approachability and success with your patients and your interactions with them. Find it in ebook form here for only $7! I am so glad I read this book, not only for how I can work on the dynamic I have with my current emergency department patients, but also with skills I hope to integrate in my future practice as a physician!

Happy reading! And while you’re at it, go check out Stephen’s page for inspiration and humility!

xx,

M

 

ramen hack

When an American is asked to name a college food, what comes to mind? Ramen. In a cup. In a package with the block of noodles and a flavor package. Nutrient-dense? Wholesome? Identifiable ingredients? Nope. Comforting? Warm? Satisfying? You bet.

I have taken this brick of noodles and made it a little bit more bearable but all the more satisfying. Today, brick of of noodles + a time crunch = something I hope you will love as much as I do. 🙂 It won’t take you very long either!

*recipe is vegan/vegetarian*


Ingredients:

  • green vegetables of choice (I used broccoli and snap peas)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (or so)
  • 1 block ramen noodles from pkg, or 1 pkg of fresh ramen noodles
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds for garnish & extra flavor

How-To:

  1. Saute vegetables of choice in olive oil al dente. Add garlic and kill the heat.
  2. Remove vegetables from pot and add broth and water to the pot. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add noodles and cook according to pkg (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add the soy sauce/tamari to the bottom of serving bowl.
  5. Grab noodles from broth with a spaghetti spoon. Pour broth into serving bowl over soy sauce/tamari
  6. Place noodles in bowl in the broth mixture
  7. Place vegetables on top of noodles and arrange as desired.
  8. Top with sesame seeds and serve with chopsticks or a fork 😀

Take that, college! And as always, happy eating!

xx,
M

 

vegan FAQ

What does this featured meal have to do with today’s blog post? It is vegan, gluten free, and relatively low in calories, but packed with nutrients and will give you zero dietary cholesterol as an added bonus 🙂

Shawn Brokke, a friend, and plant-based foodie sat through the most frequently asked questions about veganism and answered them with delight. To contact Shawn, find him at @palegoon + @nutritious_goon on Instagram! He really knows how to get the conversation started! I have compiled some questions regarding his experience and life as a vegan.

SB .jpg
check out that vegan tattoo!

Let’s start with the million dollar question(s): How long have you been a vegan? Why did you convert?

I’ve been a vegan for almost two years. I had been dieting before and was not happy with the food I was eating and the density of that food. I had been eating the stereotypical “bodybuilding” diet [consisting of chicken and rice and the occasional vegetable]. I wasn’t satisfied. The reason I looked into veganism was because of my mom’s chronic illnesses including thyroid issues. I discovered the vegan diet, and I’ve never thought twice about it!


Wow, just like that! How did you transition? How did you know what to do? That’s a drastic change!

Overnight, actually. I strongly considered have that “one last meal” of all my favorites that are not part of the vegan diet, but I decided not to. I figured if I did that, it would just prolong the process of transitioning. I gave my food to my brother and the rest was history. However, because I did this overnight, it didn’t come without challenges. I relied on YouTubers and trial and error. The key was not to get mad at myself if I ate something that wasn’t vegan friendly and I wasn’t aware of it. It’s a process and you learn as you go.


 Now that you’ve been a vegan for a while now, what do you eat?

“My go-to is stir fry with all the vegetables – rice noodles, soy sauce or usually tamari.”(pictured above) others include:

  • soy milk.
  • low-sodium pasta sauce with noodles.
  • bananas.
  • tofu.
  • rice.
  • oats.
  • pasta.
  • flax oats
  • Vega protein shakes
  • canned beans – low sodium (more cost effective!)

The most commonly asked question for vegans (or so it seems), is getting adequate protein. Most people believe it simply isn’t possible to get enough protein from plants alone. You’ll see things on the internet regarding vegan bodybuilding and it is indeed possible to achieve physical goals with a vegan diet. If you are eating enough calories (based on individual dietary needs), you should not need to supplement protein or make any extra effort to meet the RDA for protein. It’s fairly simple! 🙂 Especially knowing foods like broccoli and snap peas [green vegetables] have “bonus” protein in them. Most people think of vegetables to fit in the “vegetable” food group, and fail to recognize that there are other either macronutrients or micronutrients that may be contained in that vegetable.


Do you take any supplements since your food is not sourced from animals anymore?

Yes! Vitamin B12 (a necessary supplement for those who follow a vegan diet). By taking it, I have noticed increased energy, and a better sleep cycle, and a decrease in symptoms of seasonal depression. I also take a vitamin D3 supplement.


Your experience sounds phenomenal so far. Have you had any challenges with this lifestyle?

Yes, of course. The major problem I have is that food I eat is so good. It is definitely possible to gain weight if you enjoy the vegan “junk” food such as cookies, cakes, sweets, and other indulgences too much. Though this can be seen as a negative, eating this so-called “comfort” food, can help you transition to eating more plant-based; as long as one is aware of this and can practice self-control while transitioning!


What about eating out? What would you tell someone who wants to go eat with friends?

It’s not as hard as one may think!

  • Noodles & Company: Japanese Pan Noodles with tofu.
  • Paradiso (in Grand Forks): offers burritos with vegan chicken and beef.
  • Olive Garden: minostrone soup!
  • Qdoba: no meat, and all the black beans.
  • Chipotle: Sofritas.
  • Little Bangkok (Grand Forks): I really do miss sushi, but get the sweet potato rolls!!!

Chains usually have better options and are more aware of their ingredients than some of the smaller, locally-owned restaurants. Always ask!


You seem to like tofu and soy protein! What about people who tell you soy isn’t “good?”

Bodybuilders are often against the concept of soy protein because literature has stated that soy can mimic estrogen in the body and decrease your strength capacity. I feel that soy is the scapegoat in the world of veganism; people are so apt to believe that you can look and feel well when adapting this diet. It is interesting because mammalian estrogen is found in dairy milk and isn’t as accounted for as the plant phytochemicals that mimic estrogen (isoflavonoids) in soy.

Most bodybuilders follow diets that are high in chicken, beef, eggs, and other protein-rich animals sources. However, just because they are buff and look good on the outside does not mean that their arteries are not going to pose a health risk down the road.


What are your favorite vegan products?


What would you tell someone who wants to start adopting a vegan diet?

  • BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Don’t get discouraged. It isn’t a transition that can’t usually [successfully] happen overnight.
  • Do not be mad at the world with concerns of ethics, frustrations with how food is produced, or people who just don’t listen. This will get you nowhere and nearly defeat the purpose of being that “one person” who is doing good for the world! The
  • You’ll need to eat a lot more. Plants are less calorie-dense than animal products; you will need to eat more, yes more, to maintain a calorie input and stay healthy. Perhaps download an app to help track calories to ensure your intake is adequate.
  • Any step is a step in the right direction. If you start narrowing things down, you’re making progress. If you have a slip-up and your intentions are still good, you’re still moving in the right direction! The ball is in your court!

And with that, I conclude my questions for Shawn. I personally learned a lot about the overall vegan diet and some of the resources that are available. If you considering adopting a vegan diet and need a resource, again, check out Shawn’s instagram or message him or myself with any questions you might have.

Thank YOU for reading, thank you to Shawn for sitting through an interview, and thank you to those who are considering eating more plants! Your body will thank you!

xx,

M

“Veganism is the least you can do for animals.”

-unknown