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.*
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.
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!
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.
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! 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gelato at Pitango nearly nightly; the espresso flavor is to die for.
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.
The shops in Georgetown as well as Georgetown Cupcakes. It’s a must.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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!
What does this featured meal have to do with today’s blog post? It is vegan, gluten free, and relatively low in calories, but packed with nutrients and will give you zero dietary cholesterol as an added bonus 🙂
Shawn Brokke, a friend, and plant-based foodie sat through the most frequently asked questions about veganism and answered them with delight. To contact Shawn, find him at @palegoon + @nutritious_goon on Instagram! He really knows how to get the conversation started! I have compiled some questions regarding his experience and life as a vegan.
Let’s start with the million dollar question(s): How long have you been a vegan? Why did you convert?
I’ve been a vegan for almost two years. I had been dieting before and was not happy with the food I was eating and the density of that food. I had been eating the stereotypical “bodybuilding” diet [consisting of chicken and rice and the occasional vegetable]. I wasn’t satisfied. The reason I looked into veganism was because of my mom’s chronic illnesses including thyroid issues. I discovered the vegan diet, and I’ve never thought twice about it!
Wow, just like that! How did you transition? How did you know what to do? That’s a drastic change!
Overnight, actually. I strongly considered have that “one last meal” of all my favorites that are not part of the vegan diet, but I decided not to. I figured if I did that, it would just prolong the process of transitioning. I gave my food to my brother and the rest was history. However, because I did this overnight, it didn’t come without challenges. I relied on YouTubers and trial and error. The key was not to get mad at myself if I ate something that wasn’t vegan friendly and I wasn’t aware of it. It’s a process and you learn as you go.
Now that you’ve been a vegan for a while now, what do you eat?
“My go-to is stir fry with all the vegetables – rice noodles, soy sauce or usually tamari.”(pictured above) others include:
The most commonly asked question for vegans (or so it seems), is getting adequate protein. Most people believe it simply isn’t possible to get enough protein from plants alone. You’ll see things on the internet regarding vegan bodybuilding and it is indeed possible to achieve physical goals with a vegan diet. If you are eating enough calories (based on individual dietary needs), you should not need to supplement protein or make any extra effort to meet the RDA for protein. It’s fairly simple! 🙂 Especially knowing foods like broccoli and snap peas [green vegetables] have “bonus” protein in them. Most people think of vegetables to fit in the “vegetable” food group, and fail to recognize that there are other either macronutrients or micronutrients that may be contained in that vegetable.
Do you take any supplements since your food is not sourced from animals anymore?
Yes! Vitamin B12 (a necessary supplement for those who follow a vegan diet). By taking it, I have noticed increased energy, and a better sleep cycle, and a decrease in symptoms of seasonal depression. I also take a vitamin D3 supplement.
Your experience sounds phenomenal so far. Have you had any challenges with this lifestyle?
Yes, of course. The major problem I have is that food I eat is so good. It is definitely possible to gain weight if you enjoy the vegan “junk” food such as cookies, cakes, sweets, and other indulgences too much. Though this can be seen as a negative, eating this so-called “comfort” food, can help you transition to eating more plant-based; as long as one is aware of this and can practice self-control while transitioning!
What about eating out? What would you tell someone who wants to go eat with friends?
It’s not as hard as one may think!
Noodles & Company: Japanese Pan Noodles with tofu.
Paradiso (in Grand Forks): offers burritos with vegan chicken and beef.
Olive Garden: minostrone soup!
Qdoba: no meat, and all the black beans.
Little Bangkok (Grand Forks): I really do miss sushi, but get the sweet potato rolls!!!
Chains usually have better options and are more aware of their ingredients than some of the smaller, locally-owned restaurants. Always ask!
You seem to like tofu and soy protein! What about people who tell you soy isn’t “good?”
Bodybuilders are often against the concept of soy protein because literature has stated that soy can mimic estrogen in the body and decrease your strength capacity. I feel that soy is the scapegoat in the world of veganism; people are so apt to believe that you can look and feel well when adapting this diet. It is interesting because mammalian estrogen is found in dairy milk and isn’t as accounted for as the plant phytochemicals that mimic estrogen (isoflavonoids) in soy.
Most bodybuilders follow diets that are high in chicken, beef, eggs, and other protein-rich animals sources. However, just because they are buff and look good on the outside does not mean that their arteries are not going to pose a health risk down the road.
What would you tell someone who wants to start adopting a vegan diet?
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Don’t get discouraged. It isn’t a transition that can’t usually [successfully] happen overnight.
Do not be mad at the world with concerns of ethics, frustrations with how food is produced, or people who just don’t listen. This will get you nowhere and nearly defeat the purpose of being that “one person” who is doing good for the world! The
You’ll need to eat a lot more. Plants are less calorie-dense than animal products; you will need to eat more, yes more, to maintain a calorie input and stay healthy. Perhaps download an app to help track calories to ensure your intake is adequate.
Any step is a step in the right direction. If you start narrowing things down, you’re making progress. If you have a slip-up and your intentions are still good, you’re still moving in the right direction! The ball is in your court!
And with that, I conclude my questions for Shawn. I personally learned a lot about the overall vegan diet and some of the resources that are available. If you considering adopting a vegan diet and need a resource, again, check out Shawn’s instagram or message him or myself with any questions you might have.
Thank YOU for reading, thank you to Shawn for sitting through an interview, and thank you to those who are considering eating more plants! Your body will thank you!
Seven semesters of my undergraduate studies are done – just like that! I’m writing to share my experience with flexibility, progress, and personal growth that I have experienced throughout the last few months.
A difference from this semester compared to my previous semesters – from the start – was that it was my first semester not being on the tennis team here at UND. Playing my favorite sport at the division I level is something I would have never fathomed before it was given to me, and I am eternally grateful for this experience that has enhanced my overall college experience.
What’s the big transition, you ask?
For the last three years of undergrad, I had a small family (or subculture, as we call it in sociology), that I did everything with: my teammates. Every day was structured leaving little wiggle room for being tired or giving up. At the start of the day, I would wake up tired, attend lecture, make lunch, practice for two hours, lift/condition for another hour, shower and make dinner, and study until about midnight every night. Monday through Friday. On top of these daily activities included community service events, various formal events, Saturday practices, and required meetings. It sounds like too much, right? Nope. I loved the community we shared with other athletes. I loved the rigorous fitness regimen. I loved the structure and routine. This is why I am eternally grateful for the experience.
This semester has been quite an alteration of the previous and a transition at best. With less structure, I was both challenged and relieved to adjust to a different schedule, one where I felt more in control of my own studying, working, and staying active flexibly. I have never struggled with structure and this new experience has left me feeling happier and less stressed overall. Again, my experience playing tennis in college is something I will forever be grateful for and I would not trade it for the world. It’s an experience I wish for every athlete to have – with all my heart.
Now, with the status as “former athlete” I can share my experiences from the last 4 months that have changed my lifestyle for the (even) better. 😀
The weekend before school started, I spent the weekend at a family friends’ cabin in northern Minnesota. If you’ve never been to the area, regardless from what part of the Earth you live on, I wish for you to experience this form of tranquility. There is nothing like it. Especially as your are mentally preparing for 16 weeks of college physics.
A challenge I felt I would struggle with is scheduling exercise into my busy days. After registering for my first race in June, I began training all summer. The feeling of crossing the finish line is symbolic of all those miles I logged with the absence of snow on the ground. If you really want to feel alive, run a race!
My 22nd birthday was my favorite birthday to date. Having lunch with my mom and spending the evening with my best friends meant so much to me. A reminder that with age, comes the satisfaction of having those who you love around you rather than material things. Cheers to another year of getting my ID meticulously checked!
North Dakota is so beautiful 3 of the 4 seasons we experience. The leaves and the outdoor bike rides and walks with Stella truly make me feel alive. Something I’m learning to do is find the mind-body-spirit connection; and what I have learned
In the midst of it all, I go to visit my cousin Bronwyn at the end of the month – ALL THE WAY IN ARIZONA. We hiked, ate all the dairy-free ice cream, and I personally didn’t do anything academic for a few days. Talk about feeling alive!
I interviewed for another job (and just today received news that it’s officially mine) with the wellness center on campus. I will be working at the Culinary Corner and performing free, healthy cooking demos for students – for free! I cannot wait to also or at a job where I am able to engage in my passion and help others learn about one of my favorite things in life: food.
Meanwhile, at my emergency room job, I was able to assist with a procedure (I was on a high for 3 days straight). I have always known that I want to be a physician that takes pride in teaching, but now I can promise this will be in my future; I want to give back in thanks to those who have taught me while I’ve been an eager student.
OH, and Thanksgiving! My cousin and I made our *FIRST EVER* vegan Thanksgiving. We will be doing this again, don’t worry.
Round seven of finals and through with half a year of physics! Now, it’s time to relax.
As mentioned before, this semester has been very different and challenging in its own way, but adjusting to spending more time at the hospital, learning how to prioritize my time, and making the most with every opportunity I have been faced with has been so much fun. I could not be more grateful for some of the changes in my life. Sometimes, blessings come in disguise.
Just a few short days ago, I asked the surgery residents at work if I could put on a cap and mask on and shadow a sterile procedure in our department. I quickly made myself a fly on the wall and remained out of their way.
One of the residents then asked, since I was in the room, to help hold the patient’s arm out of the way of the procedure underneath the sterile field so her arm would not tire and get in the way. I was a very minimal part of this procedure overall, but the role I held came with standing in the same position for over 30 minutes, and included holding the weight of the patient’s arm up.
I now have even more respect for surgeons who perform lengthy operations and endure gruesome shifts. I am also extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a job that allows me to experience these types of things. Not many people get to go to work and help with sterile procedures every day. It is a privilege to say the least!
But what does this have to do with sweat?
Why do I hit the gym? Well, let me tell you!
1. Stress relief. Feeling good. Endorphins.
Having a busy lifestyle requires some form of stress relief. Lifting weights or hitting tennis balls gives me a a sense of clarity and helps me focus on the tasks I have to complete after I’ve gotten a good workout in. It’s been proven to facilitate good overall mental health and stress relief. If this alone was the only reason, I’d still be exercising.
2. Leading by example.
When we tell our patients to make lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, we better be doing those things ourselves. I want to be the physician that can help guide patients with proper lifestyle habits by doing them myself.
3. I want to play with my grandchildren.
Whoa. That is a bold and profound statement. Not only does exercise increase longevity, but it improves quality of life. There are chronic diseases that have a strong autoimmune component to them (such as arthritis), but many other well-known chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity can be prevented with lifestyle medicine.
4. Lastly, to do my job and my future career.
Helping the surgeons reminded me again, I don’t have trouble doing the physical component of my job. Being physically fit helps me to better help transport my patients without worrying about not being strong enough. It helps me make it from point A to point B with ease in an emergency scenario.
It helps me help others and that’s exactly what I hope to keep doing throughout my current job and future career.
Think about this: why do you work out? And if you don’t, why should you?
I’ve never been a runner. In fact, when my high school tennis coach had us run up the hill for conditioning, I despised it. With extensive tennis training over the last ten years, specifically the last three, I was always advised not to run distance because it counter-acts the fast-twitch muscles that are desired to strengthen in tennis training. Running distance was completely foreign to me – even when I had signed up for this first race. So here’s the story that got me to finishing a 10K!
I joke that you could find me throughout the entire summer either doing chemistry, in the emergency room, or running – which is true to an extent. I wouldn’t have had it any other way given the option! I gained shorts and sock tan lines, streaks of white-blonde in my hair, and my watch looks like it’s painted forever on my fair skin.
I signed up for the race in May, giving me the entire summer to train. Being a conditioned athlete from three years of a college sport, I began by running one mile at a time. Yes, ONE MILE. And when I say I was a conditioned college athlete, I played two hours of tennis 5-6 days a week, did speed and vertical mobility workouts, and strength-trained to a total of about 20 hours/week.
But I quickly learned that there is nothing like training to run. I struggled to run a mile straight at first, even despite my physical training I had withstood in the past!
To train, I continued to add more and more distance at at time being mindful as to not over-do it. I ran consistently (or close to) every other day, and would attempt to add 1/2 of a mile each time. I cross-trained by playing tennis and lifting weights and taking at least one “active rest day” per week.
When September came, I was running more than the distance of the race – which I couldn’t fathom! Looking back, it is amazing to think about what the human body can do. I knew I was capable of doing the distance I had ran, but when you actually do it, you feel amazing. But this was not easy. In fact,
IT. WAS. HARD.
The hardest aspect of training for me was learning how to pace myself. I was used to sprinting (and trying to beat all my teammates in conditioning drills 😉 ) and one learns pretty quickly that giving your all fatigues your body in no time. I became nauseous throughout my runs and had to learn when to eat, what to eat, and to stay hydrated prior to running.
To overcome this, I went painstakingly slow at first (yes, it killed me). I adjusted to going slower and maintaining that near-constant speed rather than tiring out a few minutes in. Gradually, I built up a better endurance, and was able to go faster, but as mentioned, this is difficult to learn!
One Direction, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift. Need I say more?
Apple watch. It tracked my distance, pace, time, and route all summer long.
GOOD RUNNING SHOES. I’m talking ones that don’t hurt your feet or other areas of your body. I am a huge fan of Nike, but not their running shoes. After I switched back to my Asics, life was better. Running is logging a lot of miles over time!!!!
having a friend that is experienced. Shout-out to my girl Jenna for giving me advice and training with me.
On race day, I woke up, brewed black coffee, and read my bible about 2 hours prior to the race. I had two pieces of plain whole wheat toast, and slammed a bunch of water. It was a balmy 45 degrees here in North Dakota that morning. I prefer wearing shorts and a sports bra when I run, but the conditions were not right for that specific attire on race day.
When getting to the site, Jenna and I got our race tags and gear, and started our watches to track our distance, pace, and time. Before I even could conceptualize what was happening amongst the crowd of excited runners, I heard the race gun saying, “GO!”
The route went through many residential neighborhoods and was part of several of my training routes. It was comfortable and beautiful; from the people outside cheering, and the midwestern hospitality of serving water and some alcoholic drinks along our route – though we politely declined. :p
Everything went smoothly, by mile 5, I felt drained. I tried my best not to look at my watch in attempts to keep my mind off the distance left, but I was feeling those five miles! I asked Jenna if we could slow down, and she continued to talk to me, carrying out a conversation. I thought nothing of this and kept going.
When we got to the origin, or the finish line (displacement of zero 😉 ), I FELT AMAZING. Jenna said, “we kept the entire race under a 9 minute mile. I wasn’t sure if you wanted to go that fast, but we did it.” I will never forget that profound statement. Jenna distracted me from thinking about the “temporary misery” that I thought I was experiencing. That alone proves how mental the sport is. And there is nothing quite like making it past that finish line. It screams, “YOU DID IT!”
After we got our finishing medals, Jenna and I headed to Bully Brew Coffee House to get some carbs and caffeine. About an hour after the race, each of us felt uneasy and I personally faced strong abdominal cramping. I lost my appetite and began to feel sick. This seems to be a common theme among distance runners when scanning internet forums, and I had experienced this in a much milder form when training. But by dinner time, I ate 3/4 of a pizza from Blackbird and was the happiest girl on the planet. I have to remember to be mindful of what and when I eat, and caffeine consumption prior to running in the morning. You live and you learn!
Tennis, my predominant sport throughout my life, requires skill and a great deal of athleticism that one learns over time. This is true to some extent with running, but the difference is that you do not have to be good at running to run successfully; you have to have the mental drive to finish. Sure, you get better at it over time; your physical and mental endurance outdoes the voice in your head telling you you need a break, but if you have the willpower to keep going you will be good at it!
Running in itself is its own category. You are out, alone, experiencing the beauty of nature. Just you, your music, and the details of the world around you. It challenges your mind and body, and crossing the finish line is a feeling like no other.
You want to give it at shot?
DO IT! Be patient with yourself. There are good running days, and there are not-so-good ones. Thrive from the good ones, and don’t let the bad ones get you down. Run a little bit at a time. Stop if you don’t feel well. Keep going if you’re feeling great. Carry pepper spray when you run alone. Run in safe areas. Don’t run in the dark. Treat your body well. Drink a lot of water and at a well-balanced diet. Invest in high-quality running shoes and break them in by wearing them around the house. Appreciate your hard work.
Thanks for reading!
Push yourselves and step outside your comfort zones – your future self will thank you!