My friend over at @heardtohealed on Instagram, Stephen Groner, has combined his experiences of being an ENT patient, and having a career in speech-language pathology and wrote a book full of simple ways for you and I to improve our interactions with patients – making our jobs more enjoyable, and our patients’ satisfaction greater!

Stephen breaks down bedside manner into three chapters:

  1. Starting: Impressive First Impressions
  2. Listening: Giving Them the Mic
  3. Talking: What to Say and How to Say It

In my clinical experience so far, I have found that it can be challenging to relate to patients, relay information, and rationalize a scenario with a patient or their family when they are angry, frustrated, or feeling other hard-to-cope-with emotions. Though these situations tend to get easier the more one experiences them, it remains difficult to know if you are doing or saying the “right thing.” According to Stephen, you’ll learn that sometimes silence is better, and a gesture means more than finding the right thing to say.

Read this book, a quick read (under 70 pages), and reference it when you want to refresh your approachability and success with your patients and your interactions with them. Find it in ebook form here for only $7! I am so glad I read this book, not only for how I can work on the dynamic I have with my current emergency department patients, but also with skills I hope to integrate in my future practice as a physician!

Happy reading! And while you’re at it, go check out Stephen’s page for inspiration and humility!




When an American is asked to name a college food, what comes to mind? Ramen. In a cup. In a package with the block of noodles and a flavor package. Nutrient-dense? Wholesome? Identifiable ingredients? Nope. Comforting? Warm? Satisfying? You bet.

I have taken this brick of noodles and made it a little bit more bearable but all the more satisfying. Today, brick of of noodles + a time crunch = something I hope you will love as much as I do. 🙂 It won’t take you very long either!

*recipe is vegan/vegetarian*


  • green vegetables of choice (I used broccoli and snap peas)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (or so)
  • 1 block ramen noodles from pkg, or 1 pkg of fresh ramen noodles
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds for garnish & extra flavor


  1. Saute vegetables of choice in olive oil al dente. Add garlic and kill the heat.
  2. Remove vegetables from pot and add broth and water to the pot. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add noodles and cook according to pkg (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add the soy sauce/tamari to the bottom of serving bowl.
  5. Grab noodles from broth with a spaghetti spoon. Pour broth into serving bowl over soy sauce/tamari
  6. Place noodles in bowl in the broth mixture
  7. Place vegetables on top of noodles and arrange as desired.
  8. Top with sesame seeds and serve with chopsticks or a fork 😀

Take that, college! And as always, happy eating!



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.

SB .jpg
check out that vegan tattoo!

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:

  • soy milk.
  • low-sodium pasta sauce with noodles.
  • bananas.
  • tofu.
  • rice.
  • oats.
  • pasta.
  • flax oats
  • Vega protein shakes
  • canned beans – low sodium (more cost effective!)

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.
  • Chipotle: Sofritas.
  • 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 are your favorite vegan products?

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!



“Veganism is the least you can do for animals.”




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.

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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. 😀


paddleboarding with Stella 🙂

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 cabin in the woods


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!

this girl.

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!

my people!!!


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

hanging in the mountains with one of my favorite people and her sweet sweet baby Lilah ❤

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.

never going to forget this one!

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.

Thanks for reading, much love!











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?

Thanks for reading, much love!



Best thing you’ve ever eaten… ready, go!

I’ve told my friends and family how much I love pizza, but I am not willing to indulge in it unless it’s good pizza – it just is not worth it to me. This is another way I go about still enjoying food, but not over-indulging and later regretting my decision.

So here it is. This easy, quick, and simple dish is inspired by one of my favorite pizzas, the Blue Crush found at Blackbird Pizza in Fargo, ND.

Blackbird’s Blue Crush pizza – (Trip Advisor) 

…only my version has fewer carbs (I’m not counting, but if you are… 😉 ), and simplifies the process – you don’t have to make any pizza dough! This can be easily customized to your dietary needs, and it is vegetarian!


  • 1 flour tortilla (or grain-free of choice)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • about 1/4 c. parmesan cheese (give/take based on your preference)
  • 2 tbsp whole, raw walnuts
  • dried Italian herbs OR fresh rosemary
  • about 8 grapes, halved
  • olive oil


  • preheat oven to 375.
  • place tortilla on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil ( easy cleanup, duh )
  • drizzle olive oil on tortilla and add garlic
  • spread garlic and olive oil mixture across tortilla
  • Add herbs & black pepper
  • Place walnuts and grapes on tortilla.
  • Top with parmesan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Switch oven to broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling 🙂
  • Remove from oven & top with a drizzle of olive oil
  • Slice with a pizza cutter
  • ENJOY!


*make sure to watch the pizza while under the broiler. If you leave it in even a minute too long, you might experience an undesired charred tortilla crust.

*for gluten-free option, use an almond flour tortilla!

* image credit:

Again, think about the best thing you’ve ever eaten. Eat that food much more often. 🙂



There are times when cookie dough is necessary.

I’ve noticed a national trend of local food joints now serving everyone’s favorite delicacies that we should’ve never indulged in as kids (yet somehow always avoided salmonella (?)). In fact, this recipe is inspired by the edible cookie dough I’ve experienced at Nadia Cakes in Minnesota.

So let’s face it together, you want vegan cookie dough in your life. 😀 Here’s how you do it!


  • 1/2 c. softened coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut (or white) sugar
  • generous splash of PURE vanilla
  • 1 + 1/4 c. flour of choice
  • 2-3 tbsp water


  1. Cream together coconut oil + sugars until thoroughly combined.
  2. Add vanilla and continue to mix
  3. slowly add sugar and combine later adding the pinch of salt
  4. add a tablespoon of water at a time until reaching desired consistency, continuing to stir
  5. Stir in chocolate chips
  6. ENJOY!


*Water can be adjusted to the type of flour used. You’ll need more water if you’re using almond or rice flour.

*I want to point out that “vegan” does not necessarily mean “healthy.” This is simply an animal-free (and consequently, cholesterol-free) option to enjoy this treat!

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