A Thing The Size of a Twinkie Has Changed My Summer Plans Entirely

Hi everyone! I know you haven’t seen me in awhile. While it’s partially because I’ve been busy and wanted to take a break from blogging, it’s also partially because of this thing.

Gallbladder

Last Wednesday, I woke up to an awful stomach ache. Imagine having a food baby inside of you who is highly trained in karate and is desperately trying to exit your stomach via your back. Ow.

I went to the doctor and after some ultrasounds (which seemed uninterpretable to me, as they just looked like a neon glow stick party inside my stomach – this is why I’m not a doctor), they determined that this little Christmas-light-looking organ had to go.

As the pain had decreased but hadn’t subsided, and this stupid organ had left me with zero appetite and a begrudging promise to eat  a “low fat” diet until the surgery, I did what any rational person would do: I gave it a name. Once you give something a name, it seems easier to be mad at it.

Needless to say, Dolly the Gallbladder has received a lot of sassing these last couple of days.

Dolly has not only caused me constant food-baby feelings, but doesn’t even let me eat the delicious things that cause food babies. Why is this an issue?

FOOD IS MY LIFE.

I’ve seen about ten doctors/nurses/medical people this last week, and every single time, I tell them that eating is my hobby and that this gallbladder thing is therefore super inconvenient. They always laugh. I always tell them I’m actually not kidding.

Eating is how I bond with people, and it is how I find enjoyment in life. I am the girl who came home from her first week ever of church camp away from home and only said, “The food was awesome!” I am the girl who, instead of seeing her friends one last time before she goes home for the summer, visits her favorite restaurants.

The first thing my college roommate and I did freshman year to get to know each other was go out and buy a ton of desserts and eat them together. (We still do that.) My boyfriend and I love going out to new restaurants, and Olive Garden’s soup-salad-breadsticks is basically our life.

Desserts
The best way to bond with someone you’re going to live with.

Suffice it to say, avoiding anything fatty for the last week has not only been sad but has actually ruined my favorite hobby of eating. You suck, Dolly.

Dolly has also managed to stick her awful pea-pod self in my career business. Because of the surgery, which is happening the day I was supposed to start my internship, I’ve decided to stay home this summer. This might mean an awesome job at Ulta (fingers crossed!) but still. Dolly obviously does not understand the importance of resume-building.

It’s been a rough last week but lots of fun things have come out of it, too. I’ve gotten to attend my first ever bachelorette party and help my beautiful best friend prepare for her wedding this Saturday (look out for my post on being a bridesmaid!). I’ve also gotten to spend time with Brandon, although both of us agree that we don’t have nearly enough fun when we can’t get excited about food together.

It’s my first time having surgery, and I’m a little scared, but I’m mostly excited just to never see Dolly again. Have you ever had surgery? Any tips for recovery?

 

Xoxo, Taylor

Starting off Finals Right: Green Eggs Cafe

Today is the start of “reading days,” the period of time before finals. This is the time of year when students are known to actually live in the library on campus (yes, even sleep there!) and a sense of cabin fever starts to ensue, as we’re all ready to go home for summer, or maybe even just go somewhere else that’s not Penn.

My friends and I all figured we should probably get off campus one last time before the frenzy of work ensues, and so we headed into downtown to try Green Eggs Cafe.

Even having looked at the menu beforehand online, I was still completely lost as to what to have among the six or seven different kinds of French toast, the three or four different kinds of eggs benedict, and all of the other breakfast and lunch options.

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I think I made the right choice. The Tiramisu French Toast was amazing. When people say “____ french toast,” you assume it might taste something like the original. This was literally a giant tiramisu. The toast had the texture of ladyfingers, and sandwiched between the slices was a sweet espresso mascarpone. It was topped with Chantilly cream and a nice mocha syrup.

When I see “themed” French toast, I usually have low expectations. The American tendency is to “improve” something by adding nothing but calories to it: chocolate syrup, peanut butter brittle pieces, chocolate-covered cherry-flavored gummy-worm pieces… the list goes on. Normally these kinds of French toasts sound good for like five minutes. Basically until I have about one bite. It’s too sweet and too much.

Green Eggs’ tiramisu French toast was the first French toast meal I’ve finished in a really long time. By finding ways to add to the “theme” that were more subtle (ie; mocha syrup), the result was something that wasn’t overwhelming or excessive and actually tasted like the item it was attempting to mimic. Yum.

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Alex got Crème brûlée French toast. Also really good. It was less rich than the tiramisu French toast, but still impressive.

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Kati sided for the tofu scramble and the quinoa porridge. Though I wasn’t brave enough to sample the tofu, both looked good, and her reviews were positive. The quinoa porridge, from personal experience, was delicious, and an unexpected but refreshing substitute for traditional oatmeal.

Overall, I was happy with our trip to Green Eggs. Well worth the taxi fare, and an excellent start to finals season. Happy studying.

http://greeneggscafe.com/

Vegans Are Going To Trick Me Into Becoming Fat

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It’s a saying in Wyoming, that “Vegetarian is an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter.” (Actually, though. You can get it on a tee shirt.) Needless to say, the meat-free way of living hasn’t caught on much out West, much less the animal-free virtues of veganism.

Because of this, my first experience with vegan food occurred here at Penn, when my roommate and I started hanging out with a girl in our hall who was vegan. She introduced us to the world of vegan granola, pastries, cupcakes, lasagna…. and macaroons. Hence the picture above.

I can’t quite approximate to you how many macaroons I’ve eaten to date, and even if I could, I’d probably be too embarrassed to share the number. There is something magical about eating what tastes like a glob of coconut cookie dough. They are one of the most delicious things my mouth has ever experienced. I would highly recommend.

My beloved macaroons were free of chemicals, preservatives, and other ickies, and so I never really thought to look at the label. Vegan= healthy, right? Wrong.

My world came crashing down around me right about Macaroon Number Eight when I decided to glance at the label, assuming I’d be wowed. “Negative fifteen calories per serving?! I’m in!” I imagined myself thinking.

The calorie count was the first thing that caught my eye. And it made me sad. I realized that the reason why the macaroons taste so good is that while they’re full of real, unprocessed, natural ingredients, they’re still full of REAL ingredients, like “pure maple sugar.” At 130 calories for two macaroons, they’re certainly satisfying, but not the super-food I’d imagined them to be.

You’d think it it would be more obvious, but I learned a valuable lesson: that “gluten-free” or “vegan” or any of those other health words mean exactly what they say. Literally, gluten-free and vegan mean “without gluten” or “without animal products.” Nowhere in those definitions are included the phrases “zero cal” or “zero sugar” or anything else I’d somehow subconsciously associated with specialty foods.
While I can appreciate the merit of vegan, etc. foods, I’ve learned to be a little more cautious in how I approach them, because, at the end of the day, a “macaroon top” looks just like a “muffin top.”

If you want to get these amazing treats (in moderation!) find them here: http://www.amazon.com/Hail-Merry-Macaroons-Blonde-Pack/dp/B0057R54UM
Or pick them up at your local Whole Foods.

Photo credit: http://thelivelykitchen.com/2011/01/28/hail-merry-friday-macaroon-giveaway/

Creating a Healthier Me, not a Prettier One

My roommate and I had a conversation the other day about getting back to the gym and how hard it can be to stick to eating healthy and exercising. We decided that the cycle of non-activity and frustration goes something like this:

You’re not eating well or exercising, so you decide to head back to the gym and change your diet. You do well for a while, maybe. Then, it gets harder. You kinda want to give up. So, you tell yourself, “You know what? My friends should love me no matter how I look!” and there goes the eating healthy and the dieting. You look in the mirror and realize you’re still not where you want to be, no matter what your friends say. Frustrated because you’ve broken the habit of being healthy, you eat your feelings, which looks like sitting in front of your television eating Ben & Jerry’s and watching Real Housewives of Orange County. And the cycle repeats.

My personal struggle has always been how to reconcile the seemingly oxymoronic concepts of beauty and health. Growing up, and even now, I’ve never been completely comfortable with my appearance, finding myself on the hamster wheel of the cycle above. My biggest struggle, weirdly, has been finding the motivation to actually change something. Everyone’s had at least one day where they wake up and decide “something needs to change.” It’s not like I’m on the fast track to heart disease or anything, but I’ve had those moments where I decide that if I’m not happy with myself, all I can do is act. As they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” right?

So I take the step. Then, things get problematic. I realize that working out and eating well can be hard. I splurge one day, and decide that I’ve “completely ruined it.” And I move to the next phase in the cycle. I tell myself, “All your family loves you the way you are. Your friends love you the way you are.” Shortly after, I lose motivation to continue my health routine, propelling myself further into the cycle.

I think many other women can understand the struggle. Being surrounded by family and friends that love you, it’s pretty hard to find the motivation to get up every morning and make changes to yourself. It seems like a nice idea. “Oh, I’d like to wear this or that,” you say. But then when things get real and it’s 6AM and you don’t feel like running, you revert to those idealized notions of acceptance and your resolve melts. This is true especially if you’re not out of shape to the point of major health issues, if you only would like to “tone things” or lose a couple pounds. It just doesn’t seem pressing.

I’ve spent the past few months thinking about exercise, diet, and self-image. I’ve asked myself the question, “How can I accept who I am now while changing for the future?” Maybe, just maybe, I’ve stumbled upon something.

I’ve come to the conclusion that health and beauty, while closely related, have to be separated. Health needs to be what drives us to make positive changes in our lives, not beauty. Health is the number on the scale, telling us that we might be eating out too much and walking too little. Health is what determines whether I’ll be out on the field playing with my kids in ten or twenty years or sitting on the sidelines. Health is my small way of choosing how long I get to hang out here before I chill with Jesus. Health is something that is definable.

Beauty, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder. And what a marvelous thing that is. Beauty is the reason why people sparkle from the inside out, no matter how many pounds they think they have to lose. Beauty is what your friends, family, significant other will see no matter what, that causes your boyfriend to think you look nice even when you’re in sweats, that causes a child to think his mother is the most lovely person he has seen. In the eyes of those people that matter to you and care about you, beauty is static.

And this brings me back to making changes. As I’ve learned the hard way these past couple of months, it’s all about self-love. While, sure, I’d like to improve my appearance, as most women would, I keep reminding myself that beauty is intrinsic. The people that love me are going to think I’m beautiful regardless of whether or not I get a latte tomorrow or go to the gym. And I should think I’m beautiful too. Beauty, however, isn’t going to convince me to leave the dorm and pick up the weights. At the end of the day, the beautiful me now has to love me enough to invest the time in creating a healthier me for tomorrow.

Please comment with any thoughts you have about self-image, health, beauty, or anything else relevant. 🙂