Breakfast sandwiches are my weakness. They got me through college. Studying in a coffee shop, on my way to early shifts, something to give myself to look forward to on days like those. With that though, usually includes a hefty dose of *some* form of white bread, sodium, processed meat, and preserved ingredients. Not only that, but the convenience costs you – especially if you’re eating multiple a week. ๐Ÿ˜ฌI decided to make my own version. All the good stuff plus veggies. Customizable. Convenient. Quick. All the good things that should be included in breakfast. Plus higher protein from the egg whites, knowing where your meat came from, an option of whole grain or gluten free, AND picking whatever kind of cheese you want?! Heck yeah. ๐Ÿ˜€


You will need:

  • 4 eggs + 4 egg whites, scrambled
  • 1 dozen mini bagels of choice
  • 2 cups of ANY veggies of choice (I used broccoli & bell peppers)
  • 6 slices meat of choice (I used turkey) – opt out if vegetarian!
  • 6 slices cheese of choice, cut in half (I used pepper jack)

Directions:

  1. Saute veggies on medium heat in vegetable or canola oil until al dente texture.
  2. Add eggs, black pepper, and cook until done (about 5 mins).
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 325.
  4. Cut bagels/bread in half.
  5. Fill bottom half with eggs – be generous.
  6. Add half a slice of meat of choice
  7. Add half a slice of cheese of choice.
  8. Add top of bagel and repeat until you’re through with them all.
  9. Place sammies on baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking oil.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly toasty.
  11. Wrap in foil and place in freezer – good up until about 1 month.

>> TO REHEAT: place sammie on microwave-safe place and cover with a bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute – 1:30. Bring with you on the go!

** I recommend serving with 1 c. fruit + a large glass of water to start the day!


enjoy!

xx,

M

First of all, to anyone reading, I would like to say thank you for your support throughout this incredibly daunting season in my life. I made it through and I hope this is the first and last time I have to take that test. I’ve heard from several peers that the MCAT is the most important standardized test throughout the extent of your medical training. At first I didn’t believe it. Medical students, residents, attendings… take standardized exams all throughout their education. The MCAT, however, is what sets up the possibilities of those. It tests your mental stamina, proves that you have the persistence to become a doctor, reassures you’re becoming one for the right reasons, and tests several other traits of character. There is nothing more humbling than thinking you did really well on a practice exam and reading your score realizing you did far worse than you imagined. This is my experience and how I can help you!

*I want to make a disclaimer that it is extremely important to note that my experience is what I did, what worked (or didn’t work) for me and my experience. I am writing this to help anyone out there through my perspective. That being said, every student is unique and what worked well for me may not for you.*

Alright, let’s jump right in!


The Time Frame:

Many resources, student forums, and supporting peers recommend anywhere from 3-6 months to really dedicate time to study for the MCAT.

I deeply studied for about 2.5 months and began reviewing about 6 months before that.

The majority of students taking the MCAT take it after their junior year in order to apply to schools prior to graduating. I took it after my 5th year of college. I had just finished biochemistry, taken 20+ credits in sociology throughout my undergrad, and used my MCAT review books alongside some of my last undergrad courses to familiarize myself with the content the MCAT tests on. There is no “right” or “wrong” time to choose when to take the test. It depends on:

  • how much dedicated time you think you need
  • how “fresh” you feel the material is/how much material you think you need to learn
  • how graceful you can be to yourself allotting for days you NEED off [for a mental break]. And trust me, you’ll need them.

I recommend making a list of the content areas you need to review the most, including specific topics. I wrote down all of the sections of the Kaplan books (such as electrochemistry, glycolysis part I, the immune system, etc), and then crossed them out as I went through them.


The Resources:

I did my best to obtain as many free resources as possible. However, I feel it’s extremely important to purchase some kind of comprehensive review books regardless of the test-prep company. I purchased Kaplan from Amazon, but I’ve heard good things about Next Step as well. Point being, it doesn’t matter which books. As long as you have something to base your review on. Below are the free resources I used and what I used them for.

  1. The MCAT Podcast/The MCAT CARS Podcast by Medical School HQ. Specific subjects, pearls, and questions.
  2. Jack Westin CARS passages ~ if you subscribe by email, you get a CARS passage daily. It’s amazing. I did this almost daily.
  3. UWorld MCAT [free trial] ~ practice questions. You can select the content areas you want to get questions on. Upgrade for longer access.
  4. Khan Academy MCAT ~ select from all content areas – including CARS – watch lesson videos, do practice questions with instant feedback.
  5. Next Step MCAT ~ free diagnostic half length exam, free full length exam, free question banks!!!
  6. Kaplan ~ I purchased the review books and received 3 complementary full length exams with the code that came with my books.
  7. AAMC Full Lengths ~ the American Association of Medical Colleges – ie, the company that GIVES the MCAT. I recommend purchasing and taking their full length exams at the end of your prep. I’ve heard these are the ones that give you the most accurate prediction as to what you’ll score on the real thing. This is the same site you use to sign up for the MCAT.

All of these resources in combination helped me substantially. I listened to both the podcasts on my way to class my last semester of undergrad and caught myself shouting out the answers when Dr. Gray + Clara would ask them. ๐Ÿ˜€ The CARS podcast was extremely helpful in familiarizing myself with how the CARS section aims to function. Additionally, I spiral-bound my Kaplan books (cheap at your local office supply store), and took then with me everywhere. I annotated them, marked them up, and I’m fairly certain I answered every single practice question offered throughout them. Again, you NEED some form of review book that lays out what you will be tested on, but I firmly believe it doesn’t matter which. Kaplan was great for me.


The How:

The first month and a half (halfway through May after graduation), and the majority of June, I reviewed material for about 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. I spent most days early in the morning, studied until lunchtime, ate and decompressed, then returned for an afternoon session.

After reviewing the material, I began learning the format of the exams by doing practice questions (mostly to assess knowledge), practice passages (to get a feel for the way the questions are asked), and full-length practice tests. Up until my test date, I had taken 8 practice exams. After each practice exam, I reviewed each question and learned what my weak (as well as strong) areas were. I would use the following day to review the weak areas and re-learn the content.

While I believe the MCAT should be your life in the time you’re preparing, it is necessary to allow time for yourself. Regardless of what that is – using weekdays for longer prep days and weekends for shorter, more relaxed prep, making equal prep on all days for shorter studying in duration, or whatever works best for you. I was able to stick to my schedule while accounting for exercising 5-6 days/week, working one 12-hour-shift per week, and other social events I had throughout the summer. Knowing myself, I knew needed game nights with my roommates, long talks, walks, and my amazing social network.


The Know:

MCAT prep is not specific on testing what will be on your test on any given test day. That being said, the safest way to prepare is to know everything. I’m not joking, either. The Kaplan books do a great job of outlining what is considered “high yield” (or most likely to be on the test). Those are the topics one must know like the back of their hands. The rest, you better believe you should know, also. “High yield” simply means those are the topics most likely to show up on test day. Knowing that helped me in my prep. Here’s a few things I think you NEED to know for test day.

1.AMINO ACIDS. Like you’ve never known anything else. You must know the names, the properties, the three-letter abbreviations, the one-letter abbreviations, which are most similar to each other, etc. Throughout my MCAT experience, I had found that there were amino acid questions throughout both the chem/physics section as well as the biology/biochem sections. Sometimes the questions will display themselves in a very discrete manner such as, “which amino acid is cyclic?” and you’ll be given options in the form of the three-letter codes. Others are not-so obvious… “As described in the passage, which amino acid could also be used for X, Y, Z?” leaving you to deduce which AA of the given options is most similar in nature to the other – property-wise. In these cases, it helped me to take each multiple choice answer and list the properties. If you truly know your stuff, the right answer will scream out at you. If you know anything for the MCAT, make sure you know the amino acids ever-so-thoroughly.

2. Psychiatric Disorders. I haven’t heard a lot of talk about this, but on several of my practice tests, a discrete question would present itself asking which disorder a patient had based on the given symptoms. Have a general idea of the classes of psychiatric disorders, and you’re guaranteed to get at least one question correct on your test. ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. Terminology. ESPECIALLY in the psych/soc section, I believe the terminology is very specific to the MCAT. Sure, these terms are psychological & sociological terms, but the ones you need to know are very MCAT-specific. In undergrad, I had taken 21 credits in sociology (I strongly, strongly recommend if you have the option), and 9 credits of psychology, but prior to studying for the MCAT, I had no idea what “self-serving bias,” the differences between “foot-in-the-door” technique an “low-ball” technique, and what the heck “groupthink” was. While all of these terms sound like you could make an educated guess as to what they mean, in which you’re probably right, do not be too confident. These terms are often very similar to each other and the test will likely make you decide between two options which are indeed, very similar. This is why you NEED TO KNOW your stuff. As I prepared, I found it extremely helpful to write down a term as you see it; on a practice test, while reading, in the podcast, etc. and writing it down and defining it in YOUR terms. Then study that extensively. ๐Ÿ™‚

4. CARS. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Vital to becoming a physician. In this section, you’re given nine passages and 53 questions to answer about them. Then can be on anything – architecture, Roman/Greek history, ethics & medicine, sociology, you get the point. Not what us pre-meds are accustomed to – we want the science and hard evidence. Many students (including myself) find CARS the most daunting section simply based on the aspect of unfamiliarity. When I took my diagnostic test, I was mortified by my CARS score. But it didn’t stay that that way. By the end of my prep, I ended up scoring higher on CARS than the science sections. All I did was figure out HOW to tackle CARS. It took me a while to understand that CARS is not about comprehension, it’s about inference. What is the author’s attitude about the topic? What is the tone of the overall passage? What is the underlying message? Shifting my perspective on it gave me a much better shot at it.

5. Punnett Squares. I cannot even tell you how many times I drew these out during my practice. If you don’t remember how you survived freshman biology and then a semester of genetics, I HIGHLY suggest learning how to draw and solve Punnett squares and then interpreting them. Learning the inheritance patterns as well as the basics of genetics will benefit you plenty – I can almost guarantee it.

The Strategies:

Here are the test-taking strategies that worked for ME when I took my eight practice tests and carried over into test day:

  1. Discrete questions first. In each of the science sections (chem/physics, bio/biochem, psych/soc), there are 59 questions. Most are passage-based, but nestled between passages are several questions that are not related to a passage and ONLY require outside knowledge. These were my favorite questions. On each section, I went through and did these questions first. Why? Due to time constraints, I didn’t want to risk getting those “simpler” questions wrong in the event that I’d run out of time. These questions, overall, I tended to do better on in comparison to the passage-based questions, so I made sure I did them first. I’d then go back and do the passage-based questions. If you decide to do this, make SURE you go back to all the unanswered questions. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds obvious, but you never know how you’ll act under pressure.
  2. Recognizing pseudo-discrete questions. While there are obvious discrete questions on the MCAT, there are also what we call “pseudo-discrete” questions. These are passage-based questions that have very little to do with the passage. LOOK OUT FOR THEM. They’re really just a knowledge-based question and testing what you know. ๐Ÿ™‚ recognizing this early helps you save time and not scan through the passage when you don’t have to!
  3. Outlining CARS. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills was not what I thought it was, as previously discussed. As I mentioned previously, my CARS section improved the most over time. A lot of this I can attribute to both reading the text out loud, and outlining the passage. My outlining did get a bit excessive, but I am a kinesthetic learner, so this was the missing piece I needed (see above). This is what I did on the last 2 practice tests I took, and the exact strategy I used on the dry erase board I was given on test day. I used so much ink and I do not regret it.

The Good:

No one’s MCAT story is perfect, and mine was far from it. The best piece of advice I can offer is TAKE PRACTICE TESTS. Again, I ended up taking eight total. The best part of this is that walking away on test day, I didn’t feel surprised by anything: the content, the way the test was formatted, the length of the breaks, and mentally working with all the consequences of taking a 7+ hour-long-exam. I cannot emphasize this enough. I walked out of my test feeling probably as good as I could’ve mentally, and I believe I can attribute that to knowing how the test would be formatted. Another note to the good was that, I found a great balance with my flexible job, working one 12-hour shift per week, consistently exercising, and maintaining (somewhat of) a social life. I believe I can attribute this to having been busy most of my undergrad, but I also believe if you make studying your priority (hello, YOU want to be a doctor!!!!) you can achieve a good balance, too.


The Bad:

I will not sugar-coat anything that has to do with this process. There were several, several times throughout my preparation that I doubted myself, felt like I was wasting my time, and questioned the worth of the process. And there were lots of tears throughout the months of preparation. The material was challenging, frustrating, it took up the majority of my summer, and I had a little bit of FOMO when seeing others’ “fun” summers. I had just graduated and completed FIVE years of college for Pete’s sake. I kept telling myself this was part of the process and I heavily relied on my social support system. I cannot thank everyone enough for this. My family, friends, roommates, coworkers, tennis league friends, etc … the kind words did not go unappreciated. Another difficult part about the process was not being able to work as much as a normally do and I was therefore making less money. I scaled back on things and attempted to prioritize my spending. Overall, the MCAT was simply a season of my life and I’m looking to appreciate that part of my plan as much as I can.


The Test:

There is not much to say about the test itself. As mentioned previously, I was accustomed to the format, the content, and during my very last week, I felt like there was nothing else I could do to make my test day any better than I could’ve. Some of this could’ve been the feeling of burnout, sure, but I felt mentally ready. The test itself happened. The testing center staff was phenomenal. During my second break, the only 30 minute break, one of the staff members came out to check on me because she had thought I exceeded my break (she thought it was another 10 minute break), and wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on precious time. Each time I signed back into the secured testing center and handprinted my way in, the staff wished me good luck. When I finished my test, in the extremely quiet testing room, I raised my hand per protocol and soon heard “YOU’RE ALL DONE!!!” I must’ve had a shocked look on my face, but as the testing facilitator approached me, I realized I was the last test-taker to finish. I was 1 of 3 students taking the MCAT that day; and the last of the 3 to check in (the others were mostly taking the NCLEX and education cert exams). I had never felt so relieved. The kindness of this testing center’s employees made my experience far more relaxing than it could’ve been. This just shows how a little kindness goes a long way.


The After:

I walked out of the testing center with tired eyes (despite wearing glasses with blue-blocker lenses). My phone screen looked like I needed a magnifying glass; the text looked so small compared to the previous screen I had been staring at for 7+ hours. I bought myself a coffee, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling I had when I was sitting in Starbucks waiting for my coffee. I was oddly hyper-aware of my surroundings and slightly in shock that I had just finished the MCAT. Three + whole months were done in a painstakingly long 7+ hours. I then took a nap, and enjoyed drinks and dinner. My overall feelings about the test are rather consistent with how I felt about my practice tests; like mentioned previously, nothing was shocking or uncomfortable after walking out. Now, I just wait until early September to find out! This post MCAT life? Well, it’s a much more relaxed season of life. ๐Ÿ™‚


MCAT-taking friends, please, PLEASE, let me know if any of this information helps you in your preparation. I wish you all of the success in your preparation + on your test. And always remember, it’s a standardized test that does not define your worth. It’s simply a number that allows you to apply to medical school. Let the admissions committee decide if your score is “good enough;” not you, not your peers, not your parents!


Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

“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 ๐Ÿ™‚


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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. Youโ€™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