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A year ago, I said I would never run more than a 10K. In fact, I said I would probably never run a 10K again. My story of how I got here fully expresses how proper training and diet wins. Every. Single. Time. The human body is amazing. This is my story of getting from the beginning of my running experience – where running made me feel sick – to finishing my first half marathon feeling great 😀

12 Weeks Out:

I registered for the race and began the Hal Higdon’s “Novice 1” Half Marathon Training plan. My runner friends gave me advice throughout this process and I cannot thank them enough. The most important piece I retained was to never skimp on long runs. They are the most important in conditioning yourself for the endurance you will sustain. Since the race was in my hometown, my hospital offered a 50% off discount for employees – making it that much more worthwhile.

The Training Process:

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blisters? Keep going. 😉

The runs themselves continued getting easier, but were never easy. My training plan started out with 2 miles 2x/week then 4 mile long run on Sunday. That occured for 2 consecutive weeks, then the following week, add half a mile, and a mile to the long run (again for two weeks). I did this with a combination of 2 days of cross train/week and 2 rest days/week. Each week, the mileage was increasing – where I was reaching 7, 8, 9, and closed it off with 10 before the race. I stuck to the plan as closely as I could keeping in mind taking more rest days if necessary. One thing I can pride myself on is listening to my body and not exerting it. If I needed an extra rest day, I’d take one.

My crosses were either gentle rounds of tennis, or cycling. From my understanding, the purpose of cross training is to keep the heart rate up while giving your body a break from the repetitive physical nature of running.

I loved this training plan and I think it was the perfect starting point for myself as an extremely novice runner. In fact, it is formulated for newbies like myself. The next half I run, I plan on doing the novice II plan.

I tried to run in either the morning, before it got too hot & humid, or in the late afternoon/evening, knowing full-well that I do not tolerate heat well. As a whole, this worked well. The only aspect I think I would’ve changed is being able to run in the morning more often, when races are held, but it is difficult when you’re a student, an intern, and you work. 😀

Throughout this training process, I discovered what to eat, when to eat, and experimented with different foods. For me, and knowing full-well that every human body is different, it was a process. Before most of my runs, I simply ate a package of fruit snacks. Yes, they’re highly processed, have a ton of corn syrup, and have slim to none in terms of nutritional benefits. However, because they are simply sugar, they make for quick energy that is readily available for the body and doesn’t usually upset the stomach. After my long runs were starting to get longer, I tried Bolt energy chews – much better ingredients, maltodextrin, green tea extract (a small caffeine boost). They consistently worked for me and I would recommend them to other athletes both personally and professionally. After getting down to the end, on my 8, 9, and 10 mile runs, I tried Clif’s “shot” energy gels after mile 6 consistenly. These easily dissolve in your mouth and realistically, do not require any chewing – making it easy to “eat” mid-run.

As a whole, I tried keeping my diet as “clean” as possible, especially throughout the month of September leading up to the race. This included avoiding alcohol, fried foods, pizza, and eating less dairy. I consumed a lot of carbs – bagels, bread, rice, and starchy vegetables as well as lean protein (chicken, fish, beans), and plenty of other vegetables. I usually ran 2 hours after eating a full meal and tolerated this well.

The Two Days Before:

I ate a lower-fiber, higher carbohydrate diet consisting of a lot of white grains, less vegetables (and thoroughly cooked vegetables). Fiber is crucial to a balanced diet, as it adds roughage to the GI tract, ferments in the large intestine, and helps maintain a balance in the digestive tract. But if you are preparing for a race, especially with a sensitive stomach (like myself), reducing fiber can help TONS. Because that fermentation of the high fibrous foods takes more than 24 hours to digest, which can lead to GI upset and cramping. I had experienced both of these two things throughout my training process, so low fiber leading up to the race worked well for me.

I also upped my water intake as well and started adding Nuun electrolyte tablets to 16 oz of water. I rotated between water and electrolyte water. I also had plain black coffee (obviously).

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my roommate, Kai, the black lab mix, joined me for my last taper 😀

The Day Before:

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I drank 64 oz of water with 32 additional ounces of electrolytes + water. I ran one mile, and my roommate made roasted potatoes and white pasta. Nothing has ever tasted so good. I went to bed at 10 pm and slept through the night.

The Race:

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It was 29 degrees F. I woke at 6:00, drank 16 oz of water + electrolytes along with a tortilla with peanut butter. I also ate a pack of Bolt energy chews. I met up with my coworkers who were also running, and we made our way to the start.

I got to run with Alex & Matt until about mile 4, where they turned off to finish the 10K. After that point, I do not remember much. The neighborhoods were familiar, the streets I’ve driven on my entire life, but it is difficult to describe the thoughts and scenes you recall in those moments.

Reaching mile 7 was approaching a large incline on the Greenway of Grand Forks; I knew it was the turning point of the race, meaning more had been ran than there was left to run. Approaching mile 8, I slowly finished an energy gel and kept going.

At mile 9, I wished I had gone to the bathroom before the race started. Pausing my watch, I used the bathroom and got back on track. This set my time back more than I had planned for, but all I can attribute to this is knowing for the future. Oh well. What did I learn? Always use the bathroom prior to starting a race. Even if you think you it’s nervous energy causing the urge. Just go. 🙂

Approaching mile 12, the very last full mile of the race, was perhaps the most difficult part of the entire race. Not even because it was the last, not because I was gassed, not even that I had never ran this distance before. I had trained, I was conditioned, I was ready for this!! It was however, the ever-so-slightly above freezing temperature, the wind chill, running south against a northern wind. I cranked up my music, (I believe Make Me Proud by Drake), and pictured my dad at the end waiting for me. Finally coming within sight of the finish was relieving, yet so far away.

Again, it is hard to recall the rest of what occured. I have never felt so relieved, energized, and proud. Seeing my Dad’s face at the end made me so happy. I was congratulated (and wished a Happy Birthday) from a large group of my ER coworkers volunteering as medics at the end – it made it so much better.

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ER nurses & paramedics volunteering as medics – and greeting me at the end of the race 🙂

The Next Few Days:

The day following the race, my quads and hip flexors were incredibly sore as predicted. But alongside the physical symptoms after having just ran 13.1 miles for the first time, I felt so many emotions. Is post-run depressions something real? In short, I felt like I needed to go for a run; what I had been doing for the past 12 weeks in training. It is difficult to come down from such a high after completing such a self-fulfilling feat. I laid low and took it easy that day which was exactly what I needed.

The Monday following, my friend and I signed up for another half. But do not worry. It isn’t until June. 😀 The only reason we registered so early is it fills up within the first few minutes!!

What’s next?

Technically speaking, now that I am scheduled to run another race, I have an extra drive to stay in “running” shape. This is greatly hindered however, due to the weather in North Dakota. I still plan on running 3 miles (indoors) a few times a week along with strength training, and cross training through playing tennis and cycling. I also would love to incorporate more yoga into my fitness routine for mobility and strength.

A Special Thank You:

With everything I have accomplished so far (I am extremely blessed), I have realized how much support it takes to get to each these milestones. My parents, simply believing in me with each of these feats, and my Dad specifically waiting for me at the finish line of this race. My friends: Koryn, for making me dinner the night before, encouraging me throughout the process. Shelby, biking alongside my Sunday long runs (in the bitterly cold sometimes), Jenna, for giving me advice & encouragement throughout the process, Rachel, for your perspective and your experience. And everyone else along the way – your advice and positivity has helped me get to where I am now!


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A year ago, I said I would never run more than a 10K, and here I am. I ran a half marathon on my 23rd birthday – and this is not the end!

Thanks for reading and following along with my journey!

xx,

M

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I like food. I like food even more when it isn’t processed with unknown chemicals, added sugars & fats, and other compounds I’ve never heard of. You’re not going to believe how easy it is to make your own chips – perfect for dipping in salsa, hummus, or whatever tickles your fancy!

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For traditional pita chips… you will need:

  • 2 tortillas of choice – preferably whole wheat
  • dried Italian herbs
  • sea salt
  • olive oil

For cinnamon pita chips… you will need:

  • 2 tortillas of choice – preferably whole wheat
  • ground cinnamon
  • melted coconut oil

Directions:

  1. heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Take both tortillas and cut into triangles with a pizza cutter – like you would a pizza!
  3. Place tortilla triangles on a non-stick baking sheet
  4. Coat with olive oil OR coconut oil
  5. Dust with Italian herbs and sea salt OR ground cinnamon
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes – you will know they’re done when the edges start to get darker
  7. Serve with your favorite dip!

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Unprocess your food and enjoy!

xx,

M

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I personally don’t love mayo mixed with noodles, in fact, I don’t like mayo at all. But did you know that pasta salad does not have to be full of anything that’s rich in saturated fat? AND still be good? That’s why I came up with this recipe!

Roast veggies, cook pasta, toss together. It’s really that simple.

*Recipe is vegetarian & gluten free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 box high fiber, high protein pasta (such as Banza)
  • 1 large zucchini/summer squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • dried italian herbs
  • Parmesan shreds/shavings

Directions:

  1. Roast vegetables! Slice zucchini and bell peppers into rounds and slices, respectively.
  2. Coat in cooking oil of choice and coat with s&p.
  3. Toss together and place in a 400 degree oven for about 15 mins.
  4. Boil water and cook pasta according to box directions.
  5. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.
  6. Cool roasted vegetables.
  7. Toss cooled vegetables in with cooled pasta, olive oil, and Italian herbs, and parmesan.
  8. Serve immediately if desired, otherwise it keeps will in the fridge for about a week. 🙂

Happy harvest!

xx,

M

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That’s it. Zoodle season is here. Time to use up all the zucchini you have and make pad thai.

*This dish is… vegetarian, dairy free, and gluten free*

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You will need:

  • two raw zucchinis
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 carrot, chopped/julianned
  • 1/2 a large bell pepper (I used red) chopped/julienned
  • 1/2 c. snap or snow peas
  • about 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • low-sodium tamari/soy sauce/coconut aminos
  • 2 eggs
  • crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, cilantro, limes (all optional) for topping

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Directions:

  1. Spiralize zucchini.
  2. Chop up the garlic, carrots, and bell pepper.
  3. Heat sesame oil on medium heat.
  4. Add garlic, carrots, peas and bell pepper to pan. Add pepper and tamari as desired.
  5. Add zoodles to pan with other vegetables. Cook down until the zoodles are about half their original volume.
  6. Continue mixing vegetables together.
  7. In a separate pan, briefly scramble both eggs.
  8. Drain zoodle/vegetable mixture. Zucchini is a very water-dense vegetable so it will release a lot of fluid.
  9. Return to pan and mix in scrambled eggs.
  10. Top with crushed peanuts, limes/lime juice, sesame seeds, and cilantro if desired. Serve immediately, or pack away for a good work lunch. 🙂

 

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Enjoy the zoodle season!

xx,

M

 

 

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This summer provided me with plenty of opportunities both professionally and personally. These are the words behind my summer.

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1. Diabetes

The theme of my summer. My wonderful preceptor is a Certified Diabetes Educator and was gracious enough to ensure I learned from her. Diet. Medications. Carbohydrates. Being immersed in such a specialized area of practice will hopefully help me later on in my education. And with that, 60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal, and take 500 mg Metformin with meals 2x/day if you’re first diagnosed. Ok, it’s not THAT simple. 😉

The largest contributor to the success of my internship was my preceptor. She is an amazing human being. She is working her “dream job” in this field, has ran marathons, and went back to school in her 60s. I absolutely adore her and aspire to be the kind of professional she is.

Another HUGE portion that I was fortunate enough to gain from this internship was cultural competency. The majority of patients we served were from all different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Through this, I was able to learn about dietary patterns, foods, and a lot of food words in other languages. Culture is so important to consider when treating our patients. There is nothing like direct immersion in the field.

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2. Vehicles

With living in a different city this summer, I quickly learned that my car, granted to me at 16, was aging and wasn’t going to make the biweekly commute. My first car, (given the nickname Black Beauty, like the horse), was sold to another 16 year old girl this summer. And for me? I am now making my first car payments – ever. But it wasn’t that easy or simple.

My parents were kind enough to let me take their cars for my 70-mile commutes in the meantime. And parking my dad’s pickup at the downtown clinic I interned at wasn’t exactly the easiest or comfortable experience. I am that much more grateful for a nice, and reliable vehicle. I pray that my new car will hopefully last me for years upon years.

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3. Scrubs.

My friend and coworker has been nagging me for well over a year to watch the show Scrubs. I had a million excuses, but I finally caved. I am hooked. Part of it is how much Elliot reminds me of someone I know very well… 😀 Regardless, this show is part of how I wind down at night and I love it. PS, did you know Scrubs is ‘supposedly’ one of the most medically accurate TV shows?

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4. Balance.

Maybe not what you’re thinking. My weekdays were full of clinic patients doing health education (primarily diet), and my weekends were full of acute, fast-paced emergency room patients. The environments were polar opposites. And I didn’t really stop. Scrubs and tennis shoes then dresses and jewelry. STEMIs and strokes, then DASH diets. I was a machine this summer. This helped me to realize that in my professional life, I will seek a similar variety with the call, the emergency room, the high-acuity events, but ALSO, the education, and preventative aspect in the clinic. I cannot believe this was summer #5 in the ED!

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5. Beer.

The girl who has always hated on beer is also the girl who was open to try it. Yet still never liked it. Until this summer. I discovered I am a fan of ales – especially ones with citrus. If you have any recommendations, send them my way! I’m open to try any!

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6. Chipotle.

Nope, my hometown/college town does not have a Chipotle, believe it or not. The city I interned it, you better believe it did. This is my favorite quick food option. Brown rice, sofritas, black beans, extra lettuce, corn salsa, cheese, and……… GUAC. Until we are in the same city again, Chipotle. ❤

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7. Soulmate.

I was so fortunate to be able to live with a friend from elementary school this summer. Bailey just graduated with her bachelor’s in dietetics, so you can imagine our in-depth discussions. We lifted heavy together, made dinner together, and ventured on the walking trails of the city. But beyond that, Bailey gave me a piece of mind among the chaos. She reminded me the importance of sleeping enough, allowing myself to take breaks, and overall, taking care of myself. She is a beautiful human being. We were destined to be friends. Bailey, I cannot thank you enough for making my summer the best way it could’ve been.

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8. Road Trip!!

I got to visit one of my best friends from college in Duluth, MN for a long weekend (with my now reliable vehicle). We hiked in Gooseberry and ate really well. Jenna is now done with her first week of pharmacy school. You go girl. ❤


The best growth I have experienced this summer were the things that were at first, out of my comfort zone. I had never lived in a different city, and I had never gotten to see MY OWN patients. Everything has flown by per usual, but looking back, despite all the work and time spent progressing I am so satisfied, and so happy. Here’s to the start my second week of my 5th year of undergrad! 😉

Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

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The emergency department doesn’t sleep, and quite frankly, my sleep schedule is consistent with the hours of my ED shifts. I work all of them. Day, evening, swing, unit clerk, tech, sitter, triage, 8s, 12s, 16s, and now, the occasional…night shift. And that’s the thing. I usually don’t work a stretch of nights. I’ve worked 1-2 in a row at most and transitioned back to normal, but not necessarily with ease!

In fact, I hadn’t pulled an all-nighter ONCE in my life until I worked my first night shift last summer… I was always the kid at sleepovers who wanted to go to bed before midnight. If I’m being honest, I dreaded this moment – the one where I had to work while the rest of the world sleeps. I didn’t want to mess with my sleep schedule, I didn’t know what to expect or how things are run, and I had a lot of anxiety about it.

But surprisingly enough, the girl who was dreading nights ended up enjoying night shift – would maybe go as far to say preferring it!! Much of my anxiety with these stemmed from not knowing what to expect. When will I take my break? How busy is it during the night? What if I get too tired to function? From someone who had no idea what they were doing, or what to expect, here’s how I can ease YOUR way into nights – all the things I wish I had been told.


BEFORE night shift:

  1. Shower & brush your teeth.

For no other reasons besides the fact that a shower wakes you up, makes you feel clean & refreshed, and smelling good throughout the rest of your shift. Before my first night shift, I forgot to brush my teeth that night. TMI…? yup. I wish someone had told me that it makes a huge difference. But that’s why I blog. 😉

2. Glasses > contacts.

If you wear glasses/contacts, take your contacts out and swap for your specs. Tired eyes are not fun, but they’re even worse when you have contacts in. Just do yourself a favor and wear your glasses!

3. Don’t bother wearing makeup.

Ladies, if you happen to meet your future spouse on night shift, I guarantee he/she will not care what you look like either. This gives your skin a chance to breathe. Even though you’re not “supposed to,” rubbing your eyes feels great, too. Just be comfortable and moisturize your face well. 😀


DURING night shift:

  1. There are less people around.

Guess what? At 3 am, there aren’t as many people roaming the hallways of the hospital. Most people in the world are sleeping. Now, no guarantees here, but this usually means you have less patients, too. You tend to be a little more “free.” For me, this means wearing a sweatshirt over my scrubs to stay warm and taking a 4 am coffee break.

2. Eat when you’re hungry.

Don’t eat because you feel you have to take a break at a certain time. I usually don’t bring a full “meal” with when I work nights. Instead, my go-tos are usually:

  • a banana
  • a protein bar
  • water/sparkling water
  • raw, chopped up veggies – like bell peppers!

In fact, I find myself feeling the need to eat, but when listening to my body, I’m not actually hungry. Eating small snacks throughout will make you less full overall and probably decrease your chance of feeling nauseous in the middle of the night, like we have all experienced. Oh, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

3. It’s a normal shift.

Sure, you’re working when the world sleeps, but (especially) if you’re in the emergency department too, it’s just like any other shift. I am assigned the same tasks as I’d carry out during a day shift. The ER is a well-oiled machine that functions 24/7. The only difference with night shift is that you’re working in the middle of the night. This is great to tell yourself if you’re any bit anxious about how the night will go.


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Stella was yawning too. Or maybe just that happy to see me when I got off work.

 

AFTER night shift:

1. Brush your teeth and shower.

Yup, you probably just did this before your shift. Get those hospital germs off before you sleep. Wash your face and hair, and brush your teeth. In other words, make sure you take care of yourself.

2.  Sleep for 4 hours.

Yes, 4 hours. Think of this like a nap. If you feel ok, get up and go do things. Make lunch, exercise, do what you have to do. If you’re too tired to function, sleep for a few more hours or watch an episode or two of The Office or Grey’s Anatomy until you can get up to “normal” human function. This is hard on your body – it doesn’t like to be awake throughout the night, after all! Be nice to yourself, too.

3. Melatonin. 

There it is. If I know I’m going to have trouble falling asleep, I will take 2.5-3 mg of melatonin anyway. But after a night shift or two, I take 5 mg (the max dosage recommended dose one should take is 6 mg) about 2 hours before I want to be sleeping. It knocks me out and keeps me asleep. I usually feel great when I wake up. Because your sleep schedule is all out of whack now, I take half that dosage of melatonin (2.5 mg) the following night. I’ve had no problems since. 🙂

What else?

  • The environment seems to be much more relaxed. My department turns the lights down in the nurses’ station, we wear jackets to stay warm, and
  • It’s a lot easier when you go into work if it’s bright out. My department doesn’t have windows, so if I go in when it’s bright outside, it never really “feels” like nighttime. That’s because of the melatonin production secreted by the pineal gland in our brains. Melatonin is released when the receptors in our eyes pick up light. Science is cool.

 

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It’s a tiny little structure!!!

 


And with that, I present to you, the night shift, as told by the non-night-shifter. Comments? Questions? Feedback? Shoot me a message!

All my love,

xx,

M

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My friends at Banish sent me a few samples from their company to try out a few weeks ago. I gladly accepted after I read their philosophy and ingredient lists. For one, their ingredients are amazing. Being a nutritionist, you better believe I read labels and what goes into my body and on my skin. I was stunned at Banish’s lists. I can recognize and pronounce every single one of their products – a rarity. Here are my thoughts!

*Disclaimer: I will not support or partner with companies that test on animals, unethically source their products, or market something that doesn’t resonate with my core beliefs.*


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Activated Charcoal Mask:

This one comes in the jar as a powder. I love that you mix the powder with water yourself and apply this mask with a brush. Its shelf life will be so much longer than other masks I’ve tried! After taking this one off after letting it dry, my face felt clean and refreshed. The charcoal sticks to blackheads and appears to draw them out. It is a simple mixture and fragrance-free. This mask is definitely a product I would recommend to others – especially if you have sensitive skin, and want a clean, refreshed feeling afterwards.

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Pumpkin Enzyme Mask:

Ingredient list = nothing better. This mask is a little more on the clumpy side and more difficult to apply. That didn’t stop me from loving it, however. This mask also has a killer ingredient list and leaves your face clean. My immediate thoughts are that it almost instantly makes your face feel tight. I would guess this is due to the enzymatic activity in the mask. It looks and smells like pumpkin pie, and in fact, my roommate was tempted to taste it!

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The Banisher and Banish Oil:

If I’m going to be totally honest  I was terrified when I first saw this device. After reading about it and how to use it though, I was down to try. The Banisher is a facial roller with tiny, tiny (or micro) needles on the roller. Wait, why would you want to do that to your face? The Banisher is marketed to be your own, at-home microneedling treatment. And that is exactly what it does. I believe it is ideal for acne-scarred and damaged skin.

Myself? I have been blessed with fairly clear skin historically, so I don’t think this is the right tool for me. I did not use this product consistently, either. However, the Banish oil is very hydrating, non-greasy-feeling, and feels great after a shower, before bed. I can’t wait to use it in the winter with dry skin!

And as for the Banisher itself? If you have acne-prone or scarred skin, I say give it a shot. It’s all-natural and isn’t a radical treatment that could harm you for trying.

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Vitamin C Elixar

This stuff smells really good – citrus-y and fresh. I’ve probably used this product the most of them all. It is great to freshen up with and feels as though it’s actually conditioning your skin. It is perfect to use before bed or in the morning after moisturizer.


I was very impressed with this company and their products. If you have acne-prone skin, give this brand a try. Even if these products don’t clear up your skin, they are unlikely to harm it due to the quality & purity of their ingredients. Even if you don’t have acne-prone skin like myself, the masks and oils are high quality and are made from nutritionist-approved ingredients! 😉

Read more on Banish’s philosophy and product details on the links attached.

Banish, thank you so much for choosing me to review your products. You’re doing a great job. ❤

xx,

M

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My preceptor has assigned me plenty of reads to enhance my experience as a student-nutritionist this summer. Without getting into specific details about the clinic I work at, I can say that a large portion of our patients are refugees, immigrants, or both. I have been enriched by various cultural experiences right with my own patients. This book was extremely fitting.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a story about a Hmong family who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. The large family settled in Merced, California among other Hmong families. The Lee family had a healthy daughter named Lia who later developed a seizure disorder when she was 3 months old. This story describes the challenges with a language barrier, and not only that, but the lack of similar terminology across different languages. During certain parts, when Lia was brought to the emergency department, I couldn’t stop reading.

If you plan on going into medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or any other allied healthcare profession, READ THIS STORY.

In the United States, we nearly unanimously agree with modern medicine and our healthcare system. When you go to an ER, you expect to wait. You trust the physicians to diagnose you based on how they examine you, what your scan looks like, and how your labs come back. We believe and trust our doctors, and if we don’t, we can get a second opinion. What if something goes horribly wrong in our care? A misdiagnosis that leads to mistreatment? We have options. But if those things cannot be communicated, much less understood, would you feel safe trusting these professionals?

This story is a reminder of perspective and that our system in the US is simply one way of tackling the healing process. That’s all it comes down to; wanting the best for our patients and their families and making them feel better. That’s why we choose medicine. If you choose to read this story, which I highly encourage, you will learn so much about the US medical system, you will learn about the Hmong culture, and you will learn to be more culturally sensitive. Find it here.

Happy reading!

xx,

M

 

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A city, a district that is rich in history, people, and endless things to do whether you’re a history buff or not. The streets are cobblestone, homes are rows upon rows of…row homes, and culture & diversity are abundant. I had never been to this busy, trendy, yet historic city before, but I am extremely glad I was able to visit our nation’s capital. A friend and I decided spontaneously on February 14, Valentine’s Day, that we were going to go visit a mutual friend who was interning at the National Rural Health Institute this summer. Boy am I glad we did. I learned quite a bit about our country in our short few days at our nation’s capital. With this, I took away a few things that may help you if you decide to visit this beautiful place.


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morning MARC train

ONE: FLY INTO BWI

Flying into Washington, DC from ND was not the most cost-effective option, but flying into Baltimore was MUCH better (not to mention the usage of SkyMiles). Regardless, if you want to visit DC, I recommend looking for tickets for Baltimore-Washington International airport and then taking the $8 MARC train into DC from the airport. If you have the luck I had, it will probably be much more affordable than flying into Reagan.

TWO: METRO

Like most big cities, taking the subway/metro/tube/ ETC is probably your best bet of getting from destination A –> B in terms of cost, time, and experience. Navigating the Metro is easy, in fact, the most difficult thing you might have to do is change trains to get to your final destination. Riding the Metro is what the people of that city do every day. Sure, you’re a tourist and just visiting, and yep, you probably look like one too, but you’ll get to see what the locals do as well as feel the vibes of the city.

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food truck burrito bowl with kimchi 

THREE: FOOD TRUCKS

Like most big cities, one could argue that everything is expensive in DC. This includes food. But on Urban Street, you’ll find an abundance of food trucks. Food truck food tends to be less expensive than dining in, and it’s usually fresh. We ate on Urban Street twice – the first time I got a chicken burrito bowl with kimchi, and the second, rice and garlic ginger spinach, broccoli, and cabbage. Each of my meals were between $7-8, were huge portions, and very, very, very delicious.

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basement air b+b

FOUR: AIR B&B

I’m sure that not everyone’s experience with Air B&B is amazing, but we could not have been more satisfied with our stay. This is an affordable option for travelers that gives you something hotels don’t: being in a neighborhood. With residents of that neighborhood. Ours was in the basement of a red row home, included wifi, metro cards, and bike passes. On top of this, we were in the middle of a beautiful historic neighborhood staying amongst the locals. If you’re interested in our exact spot, (which I totally recommend), click here.

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tourist?

FIVE: NATIONAL MALL

Do your research ahead of time on which monuments and museums you would like to see while you’re visiting the area. I was in DC for 4 full days, saw plenty, and didn’t see even more. If you weren’t previously informed, the monuments and museums are all free admission. Hell yes. We made it to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (get your free tickets ahead of time!), the Museum of Natural History, the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. Absolutely beautiful and so very beautifully American.

My favorites? 

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espresso + vanilla w/ dark chocolate

  • Gelato at Pitango nearly nightly; the espresso flavor is to die for.

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my favorite exhibit.

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  • The Food exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It displays the different changes in our country’s food system throughout the years including cooking devices like the George Foreman grill, as well as the evolution of the government-issued food pyramids over across history.

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  • The shops in Georgetown as well as Georgetown Cupcakes. It’s a must.

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  • George Washington University’s Medical Campus and seeing the emergency department where Ronald Reagan was taken after being shot (and saved), in the 1980s.
  • The Lincoln Memorial – it’s HUGE, dare I say monumental. 😉 Way bigger than I had pictured in my 8th grade US History class.

As mentioned previously, you cannot leave this city saying you’ve “done it all.” It’s not possible. The key is to get the most out of your experience. 🙂  If you’re heading to our nation’s capital for vacation or a conference, I hope this helps you get the most out of it.

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Cheers, and happy travels!

xx,

M

 

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Spaghetti carbonara is a favorite amongst us Americans. It’s rich and full of flavor, and makes for the ultimate comfort food. But, like most comfort foods, it’s richness will weigh you down.

Being the huge advocate for comfort food that I am, I’ve been recipe testing this dish for a while, hoping to get it just right. I think I’ve found a winner. Instead of compromising flavor, I’m adding protein, veggies, and lightening up the dish.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Banza spaghetti
  • 1 c. cooked peas
  • 1/2 c. cooked broccoli (shredded)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • about 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper

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Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and RINSE. This is especially important if you are using a starchy pasta made from lentil, bean, or quinoa flour!
  2. Return the pot to the burner. Turn to medium heat and saute garlic for about 5 minutes.
  3. –> TURN THE HEAT OFF <– extremely important!*
  4. Add pasta, peas, and broccoli to pot and begin to stir to combine.
  5. Quickly add beaten eggs (as to not scramble them!!!) to pot and stir.
  6. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Top with fresh parsley, grated parmesan, or shredded asiago.

 

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Notes:

*turning the heat off is the most important step of this dish; if you do not, you will risk scrambling the eggs you’re adding. As much as we all love scrambled eggs, I don’t imagine you’d love them in your pasta 😀

*Banza pasta is gluten free, and made from chickpeas thus giving it a higher protein content than white pasta. You can supplement any kind of pasta you like, but using a pasta made from a legume (like chickpeas), will give this dish the higher protein content

*Again, rinsing your pasta is the second most important step. Because you’re using a gluten free, high protein pasta, it is full of plant-based fiber (hence making it starchy). Rinsing your pasta will get rid of this extra starch and make the texture and flavor much better in your dish.

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enjoy!

xx,

M