Medical schools require a dense core content in the background of the “hard sciences.” Dense in biology and chemistry, two semesters of physics, and biochemistry strongly recommended.

Now, if you’re reading this blog, you are probably familiar with the fact that I haven’t been a traditional pre-medical student from the start. My undergrad concentration was in nutrition with minors in biology and sociology, and on top of those things, I took the required pre-medical coursework (that coincided well with the chemistry portion of a nutrition degree). ANYWAY. Along my degree-concentrated coursework, I found specific courses more beneficial than others. Here you will find some of the courses I strongly recommend taking alongside your degree ~ not only to benefit you if you’re going into the medical field, but also to get the most out of your college experience. πŸ™‚

“Maddie, what did your undergrad look like?” Me: ^

Statistics

Many medical schools prefer that you have a statistics course anyway, but if you have the option to, I strongly recommend it. I took sociological statistics (sociology minor here), and having that under my belt, especially early on in my undergrad, helped me to understand academic journals and studies far better than I would have without it. Knowing what the p value is in a study and when to draw conclusions about data is pretty important when trying to make sense of academic work. This is part of what sets us apart from claims, fads, and trends that have no validity.

Ethics

Any ethics/philosophy course will give you a great new perspective on things, but if your school offers a medical ethics/ethics in healthcare course, I strongly recommend this. In my course, our professor assigned readings on “hot” topics such as abortion, intersex individuals, in vitro fertilization, and plenty others. But it didn’t end here; we had civil, professor-lead discussions on various perspectives regarding these arguments. It helped me to think about these complex issues not only from a different perspective, but in a way that challenged the way I thought about these issues. It lead me to the belief that there is not “right” answer to each of these problems and that each case is unique and should be decided on individually. My professor was a phenomenal communicator and never influenced my opinion throughout the semester. He now teaches a similar course at the medical school.

Nutrition

Yeah, yeah yeah, I have a degree in nutrition. And there is a lot I want to do with my degree with intentions of going into the medical field. And I’m a huge advocate for nutrition for simply the general public. My biases aside, on the first day of my first nutrition course my professor stated that less than 25% of practicing physicians have ever taken a basic nutrition course (if you want to know more about why I chose nutrition as my college degree, click here).

Patients go to their doctors for advice for being well, and many of us know that diet/nutrition is a large portion of this. While physicians are not considered nutrition experts, having a foundation in nutrition will help in the future. And not only that, nutrition science is dense in chemistry and biochemistry; you never know what might help you down the road in those more difficult courses. It helped bridge a gap between just knowing the chemistry and actually putting it to application (hint hint, they’ve helped me a lot ;)).

Medical Terminology

My job has exposed me to the majority of my medical terminology knowledge (one of the many reasons why I believe in the importance of clinical experience as an undergrad), but taking a basic medical terminology course may help you bridge the gap between the terms and “real life.” My school offered a 1-credit-all-online-at-your-own-pace medical terminology course and I’m really glad I took it. Despite being exposed to it from work, I learned a lot.

Anatomy & Physiology

Again, not required for entrance into medical school, nor for the MCAT. Many of my biology friends ended up taking anatomy as an elective their senior year, but my degree required I take both of them my sophomore year. Having a deep understanding of both A & P helped me with my other upper-level science courses I took down the road and helped the other things make more sense. Not to mention, my school was one of the few undergraduate schools in the country to offer a human anatomy based lab. Yes, our school was fortunate enough to receive our anatomy education on human donors. This gave the experience a whole different perspective that I will never forget.

Helping Skills/Counseling

My nutrition degree curriculum required I take a 100-level introduction to counseling course and as much as I dreaded it, I got so much out of the course. My professor gave us skills on how to interact with patients/clients and how to lead a counseling session in different ways. We practiced things from motivational interviewing to specific language that helps our patients feel more cared for. This included not using the phrase “at least…” but rather, “that must’ve been hard for you” or “you’re so brave for what you’re going through.” Not only do I recommend this to those that want to go into medicine, but for really anyone who wants to become more of an empathetic individual πŸ™‚


My mentality with college was that I was in a great time in life to explore and take advantage of the opportunities you’re give in that period of time – you’re not likely to be able to take some of those classes ever in life. I also took some sociology courses (deviant behavior and research methods) that had nothing to do with my degree that I still reference often!

I have friends that took ballroom dancing, metalworking, painting, ballet, yoga, and several others. I also had friends that took aviation courses (and subsequently got their private pilot’s licenses) because… why not? So my advice to you, besides these specific courses I recommend (if you’re in the healthcare field), get out there and explore the other options while you’re in college! Why not? Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

This might be the easiest dish I’ll have on my blog. Though I strive to make all my recipes fail-proof while keeping them healthy and wholesome, this one still might be the easiest. Here it goes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cucumber, washed
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (black or white are fine)

Directions:

  1. Slice the cucumber as thin as you can. If you have a mandolin, this would be a perfect time to use it! If not, be careful for your fingers.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour the marinade over the cucumber and mix thoroughly.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

*NOTES*

  • You sure can eat these right away, but I recommend letting them soak in the marinade overnight. It will make the flavor much better.
  • Cucumbers are a very water-dense vegetable. Even the small amount of salt in the marinade will pull some of the water off the cucumbers making the mixture more liquid-y – osmosis, man! I recommend draining off most of the remaining marinade before enjoying them.

I hope you love this recipe and I hope you make it time and time again when you need veggie inspiration. πŸ™‚

Eat your veggies!

xx,

M!

Last week, I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time. My friend Shelby and I have made a pact now that that we’re graduated and going to live in different cities, with her getting married, and me looking at years of school ahead… we are going to schedule at least one trip a year to make sure we see each other and get out to see the world.

Last summer, it was Washington, DC to visit our mutual friend Claire, and this summer it was Washington state – a state neither of us had been before. This time around, Shelby was a far better planner than I was. With finals, MCAT studying, and coaching, I didn’t have much time for planning so right now, I’m going to shout out Shelby for A) planning the majority of the trip, and B) trekking the streets of Seattle to find green juice with me AND C) doing very challenging hikes with me. You’re an amazing friend.

So back to this trip. We chose Washington because neither of us had been to the PNW and we’re always down to explore. We spent two days in the mountains and a day in the city. While the amount of time we were gone wasn’t what I like to call sufficient enough to get the full feels of this incredible place, the experience is ALWAYS worthwhile. Here is what we did get to do!


Day One:

Shelby and I are still under the rental car age of 25 years old, but my parents gifted us with a rental car for our shared graduation present. This was the only way we were able to get up into the mountains directly from the airport. Thank you, Mom & Dad.

After landing in Sea-Tac, we found our rental car and drove the straight drive up to Mount Rainier National Park, where our Vrbo (similar to AirBnB) was located. In fact, it was located just outside of Ashford, WA about 10 miles from the park entrance. Our cabin was a small A-frame with a lofted bedroom and a cozy feel. It depends on the days of the week you rent, but it’s about $100 a night on average. Our place was PERFECT for us. We had easy access to the park, and it was a beautiful, safe cabin tucked away in the woods.

If you are in the area and need a place to stay when visiting Mt Rainier, I highly recommend our Vrbo spot. Find it here! Whoever invented app-based travel, you’re a genius, my friend.

After we settled in, Shelby and I realized we would be without cell service for the next 48 hours. I wanted to share my adventures so badly, but I think that “unplugging” was really good for me at the time. We got to be up in the mountains experiencing life away from the hustle & bustle, and just enjoy the fresh and clean air up in the mountains. It was so quiet where we stayed; the only sounds we heard were cars driving in and out of the park.

Day Two:

… the start of the hiking days! We drove up into Mount Rainier after examining the map and taking to the park rangers about which hikes we should give a shot in the still-early season. Many of the hikes we’d looked at prior to traveling weren’t open due to snow remaining in the park. On our way up to Paradise, we “stopped by” Narada Falls (which really was a trek through the snow), to view the beautiful falls. The viewpoint gets you close enough to the falls that you feel a good mist. The path to get there was treacherous, but totally worth it.

We then headed to the visitor’s center where we talked to the knowledgeable park rangers and decided on exploring the park and heading up to Paradise, where one can expect to find a great view of Mount Rainier itself. It’s absolutely beautiful and worth the loopy drive up there.

On our way back down from Paradise and the epic view of Mount Rainier, we had planned on hiking the Wonderland trail. Instead, on the way back down the twisty road that beautifully displays Christine Falls, I noticed a bridge above the falls I hadn’t before. We checked out the map and decided that we’d make the 1.9 mile hike up to both Christine Falls, and further down, Comet Falls. Why not?

The hike was beautiful. Not far into the trail, we found the bridge over Christine Falls, visible from the road I had previously seen. This made for a scenic view and perspective for just how high up we were. The bridge was a little creaky and my odd fear of heights-over-water combination actually did just fine. The view was worth it. We kept going past the bridge for the remainder of the hike but only about .2 miles from Comet Falls, we decided to turn around. As mentioned previously, we visited at a time early in the season, so there was snow remaining and that was exactly the case. After reaching this point, to our dismay, we made a decision to turn around. The drop off was too steep and the snow may have just been too slippery to take that risk. I was sad to leave after coming so far, but safety is always my main concern when out in nature (especially without cell service). I recommend this hike if you’re adventurous and enjoy chasing waterfalls. πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t the most difficult hike I’ve done so far, but that’s not to say it was easy. I also recommend doing this hike in the middle of the summer/fall if you want to make it the full way without concern for falling off a drop-off with snow present.

bridge over Christine Falls

This day was topped off with dinner and local wine (which I wish I could get around here).

Day Three:

The second day of hiking. This day, Shelby and I decided on the ___ trail. Everything was going fine until we looked up and realized just how much elevation we would be gaining. This was due to an accidental wrong turn made by the both of us; we didn’t chose to go the wrong way, we simply unintentionally chose the more challenging route. Little known fact, Midwesterners have an even harder time with physical activity when it involves a difference in elevation (the ground is pretty flipping flat here), so this was exceptionally difficult for us and took quite a few breaks to get through it.

We hiked this roughly 4 mile hike “backwards” and I enjoyed every second of it. When we were *finally* close to where we thought the top was, we were watching out for the lookout so graciously promised on the map.

Shelby reminiscing on her “forced” childhood hikes πŸ˜‰

There were several people around the back corner near the top, and what appeared to be deviance from the trail, but according to my Apple Watch, we had more distance to go before we had reached the lookout. I knew those people were not where they were supposed to be. The view from the lookout was worth every foot of elevation gain (a little more than 1300 feet) !!! After finally reaching the sign that pointed to “lookout,” Shelby and I downed water, apples, and some good-sized handfuls of Dot’s pretzels at the top with a gorgeous view.

not a bad view, right?

After finishing this exceptionally challenging hike, we decided we needed food in the near future, before the notorious “hanger” would strike for either one of us. With a bit of a drive to the next city to grab something, we decided on checking out the National Park Inn on the way out of the park. To my pleasant surprise, there were tons of fresh options, local fish dishes, and vegan options. I naturally gravitate towards plant-based foods, so I went for a dish that had a whole grain tortilla base layered with mashed cauliflower, arugla, roasted chickpeas, and roasted cauliflower. I’m not sure if how hungry I was made this one of my favorite things I’ve eaten of if it truly was, but damn that was good. I think I’ll be making my own version. πŸ™‚

After making it out of the park and enjoying the views for the last time, we made the drive back to Seattle to return the rental car. We took the light rail from the airport to the neighborhood where my Shelby’s family lives and got to begin our look into the beautiful city.

Day Four:

Our first and final day IN Seattle. Knowing we’d only have one day, we decided to prioritize the things we really wanted to see while we were there. We saw the Space Needle from a distance – the entire skyline is gorgeous – but we didn’t feel a compulsory need to go up into it. In fact, I think Shelby perceived my fear of heights to be a determining factor πŸ˜‰ And let’s be real here, this day was pretty focused on finding the food.

In the neighborhood we were staying in, we came across a plethora of good restaurants, shops, and parks. We began our day going toward Pike Place Market and checked out the area. It was a great experience – the fish-tossing, the smell of *very* fresh fish itself, and all the other ornate items being sold at the market. Shelby and I walked around to find some form of food and we decided on Honest Biscuits. They featured locally sourced ingredients and plant-based options. Seriously, so good. Everyone loves biscuits, but they’ve even better when the ingredients are more wholesome.

Shelby and I each got a breakfast sandwich where we could pick the done-ness of our eggs, and choices of meat, and cheese. Other potential contenders were the biscuits and gravy made from lentils. If I find myself in Seattle again, I will be heading back here.

After cruising through the market for the majority of the day, Shelby and I went back to the neighborhood we were staying in – where the Brooks headquarters are located, along with several new restaurants! I got a perfectly portioned and priced poke bowl with tons of toppings, protein, and choice of rice. I can’t remember the name (so sorry) but I don’t think you can make it to the Pacific Northwest without getting Poke or at least some form of seafood. πŸ™‚

Shelby and I were then on a quest for dessert. And much to my surprise, Shelby chose a plant-based cafe, Flying Apron. It was adorable and the food and coffee was amazing. You know when espresso is so rich that you don’t even need milk because the flavor is just that good? That’s what this coffee was like. And the vanilla birthday cake (which just happens to be my favorite)… that was some of the best cake I’ve had.

Then, there was dinner. And I was full. We went to a local Mexican fusion restaurant where I was happy with chips & guac and a watermelon margarita. When you’re on vacation, you have to try everything.

We spent the last night on the patio enjoying the fresh air and shortly after, packed our bags for our early flight. Though our trip was extremely short, I am so grateful to be able to travel. Being in new places is such a refreshing experience regardless of where you go. The crisp mountain air does not hurt, either. And with that, PNW, you will see more of me in the future.


Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

First off, phew. It is been a ride these last five years! Part of me can’t believe it’s over and can’t stop thinking “where did the time go?” but the other part of me is feeling extremely relieved.

I will never forget the day I registered for classes in July of 2014. I had just graduated high school (with a great amount of senioritis), and was itching to get out in the “real world.” I’ve had a dream that came with a plan since I was in early high school and I was going to do anything I needed to in order to achieve that lofty goal. I was going to become a physician. I could feel it in my bones. I pictured myself in my white coat and hospital-owned scrubs with my stethoscope around my neck. In my mind, I was so close to this opportunity.

The month before this freshman orientation, I got a call from the tennis coach at my school where I’d be starting in August, with a request for me to join the tennis team. Now, this is a bit of side story, but it’s important, just trust me.

After having said “YES” a bit reluctantly at first, I realized that being on a sports team in college was going to shift mindset a little, I mean, I had played high school tennis for 5 years so I was used to this. But not in the way that I had imagined. I was excited and nervous to be offered this opportunity, so I took it!

Let’s fast forward to the July day when I registered for my first college classes. I got my student ID photo taken, my mom attended the “parents in college” orientation, and I met with an academic advisor. I will never forget the words, “you will NEVER accomplish all of this in 5 years” at my academic advising meeting. I was heartbroken. How dare someone tell me what I can/cannot accomplish! Little did I know, this was a defining moment for me. And a wake up call at best!

july 2014 on campus for new student orientation!

I told this man that I would be on the tennis team, taking honors courses, would be a dietetics major (with two semesters of clinicals), and taking pre-medical courses. I thought I could take it all on, and boy was I wrong.

After leaving orientation, I cried in the car with my mom. I just wanted so badly to go through college and start medical school. Why did I feel a compelling need to move on with my life? My mom reassured me that it would be alright (duh, Maddie, DUH), and that we would come up with something. I remember her saying, “so you have to go another year, what’s the big deal?” She was right. And little did I know, going that extra year would be one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life.

Flash forward to now. What have I gotten out of spending this “extra year” in college? Let me tell you.


I spread out my credits.

I didn’t have to take HUGE credit loads each semester. The pre-medical coursework is tough and dense in science. Those of you who know, these courses are all on you. You can’t rely on any extra points given for “participation” or “worksheets.” It’s YOU. You’re the one determining how much studying you’ll be doing and how prepared you’ll be for those exams. I was able to spread some of the courses out while taking more sociology courses. It gave me a great balance between the courses and I believe contributed to my success.

I was able to “balance” school and playing tennis, and then later school & work.

last collegiate tennis match πŸ™‚

Because I took on a smaller course load (credit-wise) per semester, I was able to focus well on a few courses and also participate on the tennis team. As a side note, being a collegiate athlete is far more time-consuming than a high school one. I volunteered, practiced around 20 hours a week, and attending team events. Having this structure actually helped me prioritize my needs and I believed helped me even beyond my athletic years.

I minored in two fields I am also passionate about.

When I started college, I intended on becoming a dietitian and then a doctor. I felt ambitious and ready to take on the world as I previously mentioned. Instead of taking on this extremely clinical-based path, I changed my major from dietetics to nutrition. My degree was focused on public health and government-program based nutrition rather than clinical nutrition. Because of this, I was required to take several sociology courses and as a consequence, I fell in love with that field. The MCAT (or Medical College Admissions Test) now has a “behavioral science” section with plenty of sociology.

Growth.

With anything, I have learned there is no need to rush good things. In my last year of college, I felt the same feeling of “senioritis” I felt during my senior year of high school that I hadn’t felt in my fourth year. Though my year was tough both emotionally and academically, I learned plenty about myself and what I want to become. I don’t think that the extra year can ever harm a person; it just gives you more of a shot at developing and experiencing more and more valuable things. I was able to extend my college experience and prolong these amazing years of my life by just one more. In that amount of time, I lived with friends, and wrapped up my favorite (but difficult) course! And now, I am a college graduate.

best degree ever. πŸ˜‰

So no, I wasn’t able to go straight to medical school like my 18-year-old self had imagined, but my life experiences along the way were invaluable and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. If someone tells you you might have to go to school a little longer than you initially thought, trust in the process!


Thanks for reading!

xx,

M


I remember the first time I tried making egg bake. The eggs themselves were airy and crispy rather than fluffy. It was then I realized egg bakes require a BINDER. An ingredient that ties everything together and keeps the eggs fluffy. You’ll usually find this to be a heavy cream. I have found an alternative that is more flavorful, contains less saturated fat, and also contains more protein!


Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 c cottage cheese (non-fat)
  • 2 links chicken apple sausage , sliced
  • 2 c. Of your favorite vegetables (I used broccoli and bell peppers).
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions:

  1. Spray an 8×8 dish with cooking spray (muffin tins also work)!
  2. Heat cooking oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add vegetables of choice. Sautee for about 10 mins adding garlic within the last 3-5.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, add cottage cheese, veggies, chicken sausage, and 1/4 c. of cheese.
  4. Season with your favorite seasonings, pepper, dried Italian herbs, etc.
  5. Pour in 8×8 pan or individual muffin tins
  6. Top with remaining cheese
  7. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes
  8. Let cool, enjoy immediately, or cut into squares and store for the week!

Happy eating!

xx,

M

Here, you’re going to find my guide to reducing waste, getting the most out of your money, and enjoying your food! College students, moms & dads, single girls (and guys) who want to make the most of the food you spend your money on, keep on reading!

Freeze.

Raw, frozen vegetables can be roasted, sautΓ©ed, or used in any dish fresh vegetables are cooked in. Frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies, on top of oatmeal, and in baked goods. What if you made too much of an entree? Freeze it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or in a specific, spendy, trendy container. It can be a Ziploc bag or an air-tight container. Just make sure you remove as much air as you can to preserve and maintain freshness and reduce freezer burn. Always date the bag so you know how long it’s been stored. Frozen goods can last up to a year depending on how well it’s sealed. πŸ™‚

Plan.Β 

Those that know me know that I am a blend of a planner and letting spontaneity take its chance. That being said, I enjoy having a tentative plan of what I’m going to eat throughout the week; what I will have for snacks, which fruits I’ll purchase, and what I’ll cook ahead of time. This is no-fail, because if I decide to eat out with friends and I still have food at home, I can eat it for breakfast or lunch the next day. I am a huge fan of cold pizza for breakfast.

Be flexible.

I don’t believe in any specific foods only being eaten for breakfast, or any specific foods being eaten for dinner. I will eat fried rice leftovers for breakfast after a workout (with a fried egg for protein), and I’ll make whole-wheat waffles for dinner. America is one of the few cultures in the world that eats dessert-like items for breakfast (donuts, coffee cakes, jumbo muffins, sweet rolls, chocolate chip pancakes, etc). I believe that having the mindset that food does not need to be eaten at certain meals, at specific times, and as certain meals opens up a lot of opportunities. At the end of the week, it isn’t too unlikely you’ll find my roommate and I making breakfast sandwiches for dinner.

Buy in bulk. 

Heading to your local co-op provides you the opportunity to buy in bulk. This means getting larger quantities of non-perishable foods that can be stored on the shelf for a long time and used when needed. Some of my favorite items to buy in bulk include nuts, oats, chia seeds, dried fruit, lentils, beans, rice, and quinoa. Buying in bulk keeps these foods accessible and on hand whenever you need. AND, it reduces cost! Win, win.

Store.

Invest in some high-quality food storage containers. I prefer the glass Pyrex containers; they are microwaveable, don’t taste like plastic, and last a long time. Before I eat a meal that I’ve cooked (in which I know there will be leftovers), I make sure to store the leftovers in these containers. This not only helps save food for the week, but helps to portion it as well.


What other methods do you use to help you save money and eliminate food waste? Let me know! Thanks for reading as always!

Xx,

M

Cauliflower is all the rage among health trends right now and as of right now, I see nothing wrong with this. It offers an extra serving of vegetables, and can be a great lower-carbohydrate option for individuals with diabetes, or those who are watching their carb intake.

Cauliflower has been used frequently to swap higher-carbohydrate foods such as breads, pizza dough, rice, and others among them. My version is a swap for mashed potatoes with a spicy, flavorful twist. Let’s get started!


*recipe is Low-carb, Vegan, and Gluten-Free πŸ˜€ *

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower [about 4 cups]
  • 1-2 tsp vegan butter
  • curry powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt & pepper

Procedure:

  1. Steam the cauliflower. Use whatever method you desire. Some pre-packaged bags allow for steaming in the bag. If not, take a large microwave-safe bowl and fill with about an inch of water, and fill the rest with cauliflower. Microwave for 4-5 minutes. It does not matter if you used florets or riced cauliflower – the smaller the pieces, the shorter amount of time you need to cook it.
  2. Drain cauliflower and place in food processor.
  3. Add vegan butter, curry powder, garlic, and salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Dust with chili powder for spice.
  6. Serve warm, or store as meal prep.
  7. ENJOY!