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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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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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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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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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  • 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

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I could talk about bananas for quite a long time.

DID YOU KNOW…

One medium banana constitutes one of your two recommended servings of for the day.

One banana alone makes up for about 20% of your daily potassium recommendation.

One banana is the perfect pre-workout or post-workout fuel due to its carb content and potassium content that helps replenish the electrolytes that are lost in sweat.

In fact, did you know that the other electrolyte, sodium, is overly-consumed in the SAD (standard American diet), but potassium is likely to be deficient? Dietary potassium isn’t as readily available as dietary sodium, but once you’re aware of the foods that are rich in the micronutrient, it becomes much easier to consume foods that contain more potassium.

So long story short, bananas make for a versatile snack, are pre-packaged by mother nature, and are full of macronutrients AND micronutrients.

We all know that bananas vary greatly throughout their post-picked life span. When bananas are green in color, they are rich in probiotics, but most of us don’t desire the taste because they don’t present very sweet at this stage. When bananas are light to dark yellow, they’re sweeter and more enjoyable to eat. When bananas start getting spots, that’s when you know they’re on their way out, but probably pretty sweet. This is my personal favorite stage* 😀 However, when bananas start turning dark brown and the spots are more and more numerous, you might find yourself wanting to throw them away, as I do. BUT DON’T DO IT – at any of the described stages! Aged bananas are a versatile ingredient to have on hand. Let me show you some of the wonderful things you can do before you think about throwing your precious bananas out.


 

1. mash them:

 

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Add a mashed banana to your oatmeal before you cook it, add it to your peanut butter toast for breakfast or a snack, or top your pancakes with a mashed banana – you won’t even need syrup!

When? Perfect for that lightly spotted-medium spotted stage.

2. freeze them: 

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Frozen bananas are the staple to the majority of the smoothies I make because they A) make your smoothie creamier, B) naturally sweeten your smoothie and C) and make it cold without adding ice that will eventually water your smoothie down. To freeze, I recommend cutting the banana in half, peeling the banana, and placing in an airtight bag or container and let freeze for at least 12 hours.

When?  In the darkened-spotted stage for peak sweetness but not when the entire banana is browned or else you’ll have a mushy banana.

3. bake them:

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Banana bread, baked oatmeal, healthier cookies, etc. Again, bananas provide natural sweetness and serve as a binding agent in several recipes. What’s not to love there?

When? This is when those BROWN bananas come in clutch. Mash them up well and incorporate into your favorite recipe!

 

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I hope bananas make you this happy too.

xx,

M

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The name of the book sounds…scary. And as we all know, the food industry in the United States can be rather that way. You are probably aware that obesity rates are increasing and not showing any signs of letting up, in fact, it continues to increase over time. You probably know that sugar is “bad,” and high fructose corn syrup is even worse as far as long term health consequences go. You have probably been told that burgers should not be a staple of your diet. But what SHOULD you eat? Read this one to find out. You’ll find that it’s a lot more simple than you’d think!

Dr. Furhman, a family medicine-trained medical doctor takes the current research behind diet and nutrition and applies it on a smaller scale. He also takes American history and gives insight as to how some of the deprivation we face has started – something I had hardly thought of previously. And not only does Dr. Fuhrman take the historical context of our country, he discusses the current socioeconomic disparities throughout the US; part of which is to blame for our current SAD (Standard American Diet). My nutrition program focuses on health disparities and working on solutions to these problems, so his aim resonated with me and what I hope to become as a future physician.

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Dr. Fuhrman also discusses food additives, preservatives, saturated fat, ketogenic (or high-protein, low carb) diets, epigenetics and genomics, eating intact grains and how to cook them, and some of the psychological effects of food. He does a great job decoding some of the daunting terms and explains them in a way that the non-scientist can understand. Each time I read a book written by either a physician or a nutrition professional regarding nutrition, I am inspired and enriched by their knowledge and passion to change the food industry, and help other live healthier and more purposeful lives.

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The best part about this book is that I found it at a closing bookstore (sad, yes), and it was 75% off !!!!!! I do not remember how much I paid for it, but if you desire to read this one, which I strongly recommend, you can find it on Amazon for about $16. 🙂 Click here for Dr. Fuhrman’s website, and find him on Instagram. ALSO, Dr. Fuhrman has written several books that have caught my eye… Don’t be too surprised if you catch me reading those too. 😀

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ANNNNND… my personal favorite image from the book. 😛

As always, happy reading!

xx,

M

 

 

 

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It is difficult in our country to decipher what different food labels mean or what they can cause you to think about food in general. Health claims on food tend to offer you enormous benefits that are not necessarily backed by science, nor do they necessarily provide you with the benefit they claim to give.

Afer having analyzed labels in a variety of nutrition courses over time, I have created a list of these terms and labels and what they really mean – in hopes for you to reference them – whether they’re good, and informative, or…not that way. 😀


 

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GLUTEN FREE: a food is only allowed this label if it contains 10 parts per million or less of gluten. This is often certified through the Gluten Free Intolerance Organization (GFIO) which is regulated with the USDA’s labeling standards. This label helps those with Celiac’s Disease spot “safe” foods, and others who are avoiding gluten by choice the same. Does gluten free mean “healthy?” Foods labeled “gluten free” are not necessarily healthier or more nutrient dense. There are plenty of cakes, cookies, pastries, crackers, and other processed foods now certified gluten free, offering those with an allergy or sensitivity, or Celiac Disease an option to enjoy their favorite foods too without gluten that causes them problems. If you see this label, you can safely assume is that there is NO GLUTEN in the product.

 

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KOSHER: Probably the least known and recognized, Kosher foods are those that are deemed pure according to the Jewish law. Click here for all the standards for meat, fish, and other foods (koshercertification.org). This symbol above shows Americans that the food product is suitable to consume if one is observing dietary Kosher laws.

 

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NATURAL: there isn’t a specific label that is associated with this nutrition claim simply because the term itself is misleading and ambiguous. The Food and Drug Administration, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture do not provide federal regulation as to what constitutes a “natural food.” This claim is misleading, vague, and cannot promise any benefits. Some food will be labeled as “natural” with other promised claims such as “no MSG, no preservatives, and no hydrogenated oil” which can be helpful to some, but remember, read the label, and that this claim is not regulated.

 

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NON-GMO: a product with this label means that it does not contain any genetically modified organism (GMOs). The certification is based on the Non-GMO Project whose “commitment is to preserve and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO sources.” If a food contains this label, you can be assured that your food has not been genetically modified. Beyond this, non-GMO food may or may not have other significant health benefits.

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ORGANIC: This label is regulated by the United States of Agriculture as clearly observed by the label. For a food product to earn this label, it has to be produced by approved methods: “cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that fosters cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” Similar to the “gluten free” claim, you can be assured that food with this label IS organic, but does that necessarily translate to “healthy?” No. There simply isn’t enough research to conclude that products labeled as organic provide more benefits than those that are not.

 

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VEGETARIAN: vegetarian products in the United States are not regulated by the FDA or USDA. Therefore, independent organizations in our country have pridefully labeled their food as such – promising the absence of meat or meat products in their food items. If you purchase something with the vegetarian label (often a green symbol with a plant on it), chances are, that company takes great pride in their product and ensuring their product does not contain meat. Does vegetarian mean “healthy”? Something labeled “vegetarian” simply means the product does not contain meat. Though a plant-based diet does have plenty of benefits, there are plenty of other factors to consider when determining if a vegetarian product is deemed, “healthy” such as if the product saturated fat, sugar content, whole grains, and processed ingredients.

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VEGAN: Similar to vegetarian, this label isn’t regulated by a government branch, but it is regulated by private companies such as Vegan.org which promise that there is zero amount of animal product in compliance with vegan standards. Does vegan mean “healthy?” Again, as mentioned previously about vegetarian products, eating a plant-based diet has benefits backed by research, however, did you know Oreos are technically vegan (though they might be cross-contacted with milk in some countries) ? Oreos are made from high fructose corn syrup, and other food additives; so overall, just because something like an Oreo is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it is “healthy.”


As with anything, it is important to be a well-informed consumer by reading labels thoroughly, and understanding what they mean. I hope that by reading this, you are able to make more educated decisions about choosing foods when shopping and what you choose to purchase!

As always, thank you for reading!

xx,

M