Surviving Midterms: Foodie Style

It’s that time of the year again. I wish it could have been Thanksgiving but no, it’s midterms time where any form of joy is killed. It’s when you really appreciate the carefree time you had last week where you had the luxury to choose whether to watch a new episode of American Horror Story or go grab a quick bite at Panera Bread. This is all up to you of course. Midterms or not, we always have food so why not use it as a stress reliever and motivator? Step away from living off vending machine snacks and camping out at a single cubicle to learning simple tips to making your studying experience a bit more enjoyable.

  1. Find a few great studying spots and alternate. Studies show that alternating your study area improves retention compared to studying in one location. Try studying anywhere and everywhere to find out what works for you, even if it’s while flipping pancakes.

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2. Sometimes we all need a little motivation and it doesn’t hurt if it comes in the form of a gummy bear.

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3. Studying with a furry (or not so furry) friend nearby can lend for some company. Not when they steal your chair though haha.

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4. Next time you grab for a snack, go for berries and fruits. They are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants which helps your memory and improves brain performance.

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5. Go for a change and try out coconut water: it’s high in potassium and low in sodium and calories. A diet low in potassium can cause fatigue which is a bad combo for studying. A high potassium and low sodium diet helps lower blood pressure, therefore lowering your stress levels.

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6. If you are in the mood for an actual meal then Chipotle is the way to go! It’s an easy to-go meal that you can save for later if you get full. The best part about October is that you can get $3 Burritos if you come in a costume for Halloween.

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7. Need an actual break from studying? Whip up these 3-ingredient Nutella brownies or make yourself an easy mug cake.

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8. We all know what’s not good for us, yet we tend to buy it anyways. Treat yourself every now and then, because you know you deserve it.

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9. When studying gets dull, you can always light a candle or candles. Candles can help reduce your stress, improve your productivity, and help you stay more focused on your studies.

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10. Pack a healthy snack like a salad or some pumpkin spice scones to the library so you aren’t stuck living off of vending machine food, because all the real food is way too far away.

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Beautiful Blogger Award

Wow! I was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award by Teresa from Can’t Stay Out of The Kitchen! I really appreciate it and I hope that everyone that looks at my blog has found what they are looking for and succeeded in trying out the recipes that interest them. I’m trying to post recipes more often so I can gather a larger collection and variety. Anwaysss, onto the rules for this award!

The rules basically are that I have to tell you 7 things that you may not know about me:

1) I just recently got a Sphynx (hairless breed) kitten :)

2) I go through these random food obsessions- at one time it was pumpkin and I baked/cooked everything pumpkin that I could think of, also after watching DC Cupcakes I became obsessed with cupcakes and made them every opportunity I had for random events, etc.

3) I love Man vs Food. My bucket list is to go to at least one restaurant in every state that he’s been to. So far I’ve been to Gino’s East in Chicago famous for their deep dish pizza and also Lulu’s Bakery and Cafe in San Antonio famous for their 3 pound cinnamon rolls

4) My favorite TV show is Modern Family, hilariousssss!

5) I’m doing a 365 photo a day challenge. Right now, I’m on day 91.

6) I’m going to make fried icecream tomorrow.

7) I could drink coconut juice all day long!

Here’s the Blogs I want to Nominate

1) Domestic Diva, MD   (I loveeee reading her hilarious med school posts coupled with a recipe)

2) Sweet Pea’s Kitchen  (mouthwatering pictures and great recipes)

3) Just blither blather  (makes the most unique healthy recipes I’ve seen plus posts beautiful pictures from travels)

4) dinutrition (love how nutrition facts are combined with the recipes)

5) Sweet Little Thang (has everything you’re looking for from recipes, crafts, to even party centerpieces!)

6) Tabket el yom  (deeelish middle eastern recipes that will amaze you without a doubt)

I encourage everyone reading this post to check the blogs that I posted above. Each and every one of them has outstanding recipes to deliver. You won’t be disappointed, I promise :)

Here are the rules for this award (if you choose to accept):

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog.
2. Choose seven blogs to nominate and let them know by leaving a comment.
3. Request that the chosen blogs pass on the award to their favorite blogs.
4. Copy and paste the award on your blog post.
5. List seven things about yourself.

Food Psychology! “Mindlessly Eating” by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

Book Review “Mindlessly Eating” by Brian Wansink, PH.D.

If you love food then you probably love reading about it too. Though I’d have to agree, eating it is the funner of the two. I find psychology really interesting so when I saw this book about food psychology I just had to get it.

Some things you probably didn’t know:

  • People eat more when you give them a bigger container. We look for cues around us to tell us when we are full, such as when there is nothing left in a popcorn container. Brian Wansink did a study and found that those people who were given big buckets of popcorn ate 53 % more than those given medium buckets.
  • Just thinking that a meal will taste good before you eat it will lead you to eat more. At a restaurant lab The Spice Box, they tested this idea by serving the same exact wine but with different labels. One side of the restaurant was given wine with a label “New from California” while the other side was given “New from North Dakota”. The ones drinking the North Dakota wine had bad reviews to give about it, because they had set themselves up for disappointment. Before even eating anything, their mind had already decided for them that the meal would taste horrible so they ‘mindlessly ate’.
  • Most diets are deprivation diets where we deprive ourselves of something whether it be meat, icecream, candy, etc.

These diets don’t work for 3 reasons

-our body fights against them

-our brain fights against them

-our day to day environment fights against them

This is where the mindless margin comes in. A margin basically where you can either overeat or undereat within a margin of 100 calories and not be aware of it. So instead of depriving yourself of your favorite foods, try eating smaller portions of them and it will add up over time.

An easy way to estimate the number of pounds you will lose in a year is just divide the calories by ten. The book gives some examples like- one less 140 calorie soft drink a day = 14 fewer pounds a year

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

If you are ever in a rush and need to make a quick dessert that doesn’t turn your whole kitchen upside down, then make a pineapple upside down cake where your dessert is the only thing that gets turned upside down. You could choose to make your pineapple cake homemade, but I chose the lazy version of this which is the Duncan Hines box cake mix. I really want to make this recipe from scratch and with fresh pineapples too, but for now this easy go-to recipe will have to do :)

Ingredients:

Cake

  • Duncan Hines Pineapple Cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil

Topping

  • 1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick)
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple slices
  • maraschino cherries

Directions:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. For the topping, melt the butter in a skillet over low heat
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar
  3. Spread sugar mixture in bottom of cake pan and then arrange the pineapple slices and cherries to your liking and set aside
  4. For the cake, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, and oil in a large mixing bowl
  5. Beat at medium speed and then pour the batter over the pineapples in the cake pan
  6. Bake for an hour or until toothpick comes out clean
  7. Invert onto a plate and enjoy :)

When in Doubt, Make Cakeballs!

Cakeballs: simplicity and flavor all packed in one bite. I first encountered these in high school when someone brought them in a plastic container for a birthday. Asking for directions on how to make these, I basically heard: bake a cake, mash it, mix in icing, form balls, dip in chocolate. Pretty simply, right? Well not really haha. When you actually go through the steps, it’s much more time consuming than you would think. I think it’s all worth it in the end though, for sure. For detailed steps, check out my previous blog post on The Legendary Cake Ball.

So a couple weeks ago, one of my best friends was coming for the summer from school in Ireland. I wasn’t really sure at first what to make as a welcome-home present, so of course I had to make some cakeballs! You can never go wrong with them, everyone loves them. By the way, these were red velvet flavored with cream cheese icing- my absolute favorite flavor of cake ball :)

Raspberry Chocolate Cake Special!

So for this past Mother’s Day, I wanted to try something a little different. Instead of buying a cake as we always do, I decided to make a homemade one! The recipe for the cake is the same one I used for the 6 layer rainbow cake. The topping is just raspberries with a milk chocolate chip inside and of course, shaved chocolate to top it all off. As for the icing, I was originally going to use this recipe doubled. It was so funny because when I pulled out all these sticks of butter that I was going to use (not to mention the many cups of confectioner’s sugar I would need as well), it looked quite absurd. Looking at it all again, I realized how unhealthy this cake was going to be so I quickly looked up another recipe for some healthy icing, hopefully with less butter this time. Surprise surprise, I found a recipe that actually tasted amazing with no butter! Another benefit to this is that you most likely already have all these ingredients so no last minute trips to the grocery store!

ButterLess White Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
Directions:
  1. First off, get a saucepan and heat together the sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Cook it over medium heat until the sugar is all dissolved and you see little bubbles on the surface.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla extract together until they form soft peaks. It may take a while, so be patient.
  3. Add the heated sugar mixture to the egg whites and continue mixing until stiff peaks are formed. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!

 

What a Surprise! The Sunshine Award

I am so honored to say that Miss DIY has given me the Sunshine Award! I’ve had this blog for less than a year and this is my first mention on another blog. It’s a nice feeling knowing that someone appreciates your blog :)

Anywaysss, onto the questions:

  1. What is your favorite color?  Cerulean blue. I don’t think I will ever forget that gorgeous shade of blue on a crayon.
  2. What is your favorite animal?  I love all animals but I have to say that my favorite are cats- to be exact the Bengal, Sphynx, and Maine Coon breeds.
  3. What is your favorite number?  I’ve always gone with 21.
  4. What is your favorite non-alcholic drink? I’m not really a big tea or coffee person. I’ll just stick to fresh strawberry lemonade or any other fruit drinks.
  5. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?  Twitter. It’s more to the point.
  6. What is your passion?  Food. It has the power of bringing people together.
  7. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? I don’t mind receiving, but giving is always fun to do when you make it personal and unique.
  8. What is your favorite pattern? I’ve never really given thought to this, but I love the baroque pattern. It’s just so classy and elegant.
  9. What is your favorite day of the week?  Saturday. I don’t think there’s a need to explain this lol..
  10. What is your favorite flower? Gardenias. They smell wonderful!

Well enough of the questions. Here are a couple blogs I think deserve a Sunshine Award! Check them all out!

(these are in no particular order)

The Smart Cookie: A very dedicated blogger, I don’t think I’ve gone a day without seeing a new post. The recipes are all to die for and I love how each one has “the cast of characters”.

Oh So Yammy! : Combines food, traveling, and fashion. Perfect combo in my opinion.

Liv(e) Laugh Love :  Words cannot describe the beauty of the photographs. If only I could lift that cupcake off the computer screen!

Chocolate Obsessed: Chocolate is amazing so a blog dedicated to it must be awesome. With numerous healthy recipes, you won’t feel guilty for eating all that chocolate.

A Brief Breakfast and the Finest Desserts

So basically New Years was simply amazing. I got to experience this really cool tradition to celebrate the coming of the new year where my aunt baked this Greek New Year’s Bread aka Vasilopita. The ritual is that the bread is cut on New Year’s Day, oh and there’s a twist. A foil-covered coin is hidden in this bread. Where? Well, no one knows until it’s cut, and whoever gets it is said to have good luck for the whole year. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family starting from eldest to youngest and depending on tradition, a slice is given to something symbolic such as the household etc. Everyone stared in anticipation as each slice was passed around the table. Half of the sweet bread was served and yet no sight of the silver coin?! Before redoing the whole process, my relatives decided to give a slice for the house. Aha! There it was, slightly tilted in the thin slice of bread. Although no one at the table got the coin, we nevertheless had a great breakfast and enjoyed our time!

The Traditional New Year’s Greek Bread

A quick and easy yet delicious dish made with eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, and other spices

Lebanese yogurt called Labne ( the bread goes great with this! )

My aunt’s Kourambiedes (Greek buttery shortbread cookies)

These literally melt in your mouth and are the BEST cookies ever!

Fresh Apple Pie from Oberweis

I was able to taste the freshness of this apple pie in one bite! A warm piece of this with some ice cream was just heavenly. After discovering how great apple pie can taste, I will never eat another store-bought apple pie again.

Beautiful sunset in Chicago