Hungry Haley

it's more than food

Recent Eats

Life, Recent EatsHaley Hansen1 Comment

Never have I ever so frequently forgotten to take a quick picture of whatever it is I’m eating. Yeah, I’m a little disappointed in myself because making a meal aesthetically appealing and capturing that on camera is enjoyable (for me, at least). But life is moving at what feels like a million miles an hour right now and I simply don’t have the time I used to have to dedicate to making food pretty. Here are some of the moments I have captured within the last month or so!

Recent Eats

Back in September, I was invited to a sort of community dinner with a couple other bloggers and social-media-people to get together, hang out, eat good food, and see the remodeling of Woodstock’s Pizza in SLO! Delicious - d e l i c i o u s - pizza, tons of laughing, and a really cool new section added to the back of the pizza shop, along with a redesign of the kitchen. If you’re in SLO, check it out and order the Pesto Primavera or the BBQ Bird.

Recent Eats

I think it is possible - difficult, but still possible - to go a little overboard on the cookie-making. Thankfully, I have hungry friends who are more than willing to take extras off my hands. These Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies are the next best thing to plain ol’ oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies! For those of you in need of a seasonal Fall/Winter dessert, may I interest you in these?

Recent Eats

RX bars are some of my favorite quick and easy snacks. I know some people say they’re too chewy, but to me, it’s like a workout for my jaw and in a really weird way I kind of like that. My go-to flavors are peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip, and PB & J! I also highly recommend trying the new nut butter. It’s delightful, to say the least.

Recent Eats

When our schedules match up, Grace (my roommate/bff) and I love to make dinner together. And because our taste buds almost always match up, it’s not unlikely we’ll be making some variation of roasted veggies and chicken thighs. We like to keep things simple during the week! Dinner with friends and family can be rare during this season of life (busy, in college, working, studying, blahblahblah), so I try to make it happen whenever possible because celebrating food with loved ones is just unbeatable.

Recent Eats

My mid-morning pick-me-up lately has been another cup of coffee and maybe a bite or two of something sweet I have laying around (there’s always something). High Brew Coffee sent me some samples and, though this one was really sweet, it was absolutely delicious! I never really buy lattes at coffee shops because I think anything over $5 for a drink that costs me less than $1 at home is just ridiculous. So, thanks High Brew for sending me these!

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This was my lunch for, like, a week straight. Not kidding. I bought whole-wheat English muffins to make a recipe for the cookbook, but then ended up using them all for this DUHlicious meal - soft-scrambled eggs, avocado, spinach, a touch of nutritional yeast, and salt + pepper + cilantro for garnish. It’s the kind of meal that fills you up perfectly, but you want more simply because it’s that amazing.

Recent Eats

And then there are nights when I come home from class or work or studying or wherever and want as little to do with cooking as possible, so I break out a box of Banza mac n’ cheese, some easy-to-cook veggies, and call it a night. Until about six months ago, I couldn’t remember the last time I had boxed mac n’ cheese, but I did know that Banza tops every bowl I ever had as a child.

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I look forward to Thursday night not only because it’s the end of the week for me, but because it’s the night of the Downtown SLO Farmers Market! And that means my friends and I - 90% of the time - end up with bbq pulled pork sandwiches, sweet potato fries, and a glass or two of wine. My favorite spot is Old San Luis BBQ - the pulled pork and chicken sliders are unbeatable!

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One of my best friends, Jeannette, came down to spend the weekend with me recently and our plans consisted mostly of cooking dinners, shopping, chatting and catching up on life, and trying new recipes. We made my Best Vegan Brownies one day and added in some Gr8nola Charcoal Chia granola, and obviously went through an entire photoshoot to capture the beauty. Duh.

Recent Eats

I am not lying when I say I am undeniably obsessed with every single component of this breakfast: the banana bread, the skyr or sometimes yogurt, regular peanut butter or sometimes this unbeatable RX bar nut butter (I told you it was delicious). Three or four days a week, I’m coming home from work at 8 AM starving and rushing to get ready for class. All I want is something quick, easily digestible, and 9/10 times, sweet. This. Is. Perfect. Here’s the recipe for the banana bread!

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THE COOKIES. The Pillsbury holiday cut-out cookies. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably remember the intense hunt Grace and I went on last year to find these. This year, we lucked out and found the Halloween ones! Of course, we bought three boxes without thinking twice. Now that Christmas is somewhat around the corner, we’ve got three more boxes in the freezer ready to go. For whatever reason, the hunt was much easier this year. Maybe Pillsbury heard my cries of desperation last year and took it easier on me this time.

Recent Eats

Last but certainly not least, my go-to weeknight meal: roasted veggies, greens, and these really yummy (and also kind of random) tuna cakes I came up with recently, plus some cilantro and mayo. Once I cross off all the other items on my to-do list, I will do my best to get the recipe for the tuna cakes either on the blog or in the cookbook recipe collection!

Well, thanks for reading and I’ll see ya’ next time I decide to sort through all the food-related pictures on my camera roll to share a small portion of them here. Hope you enjoyed all that you saw and read!

Thoughts on Devastation and God

Faith, Life, ThoughtsHaley HansenComment

If there’s one thing that has really slowed me down this week, it’s my inability to understand how the God I’ve known my whole life can allow such terrible devastation as the fires happening throughout California right now. Just two weeks ago, I felt so passionate - so “on fire”, if you will - in my restored relationship with Him after quite some time. And then these fires erupted, and with them intense fear, and hundreds of thousands of homes have been lost along with several dozen lives. God, I do not understand.

It’s only been a week, but it’s felt like a month, at least. I’ve spent time praying, both alone and with friends. I’ve spent lots of time reading updates on the fires, watching videos and looking at pictures. My friends and family have asked why in the world I do that, when each time I do I end up even more heartbroken. Reading updates brings me a little bit of peace by knowing the containment percentage, how fast the fires are traveling, and what type of terrain + weather combination is fueling the flames. Watching videos and looking at pictures is the hardest part, but doing so is normalizing this situation in my mind. In the safest way possible, it’s me “facing my fear”.

Thoughts on Devastation and God

This morning - the one morning I have free to spend however I want each week - I picked up Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God and turned to the chapter in which he discusses suffering. Here, he starts by pointing out that evil, pain, suffering, devastation, etc. are not evidence against God. Just because we may not see a purpose in the situation immediately does not mean that one does not exist. Which leads me to my next question: okay, so even there is a purpose, God, why put your people - who desire you, love you, serve you - through such terrible pain and suffering?

He brings up the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph endured great pain and suffering from the hands of his own brothers - imprisonment and slavery - and yet God uses Joseph to heal broken relationships within the family, to protect them from foreign dangers and help Israel develop as God had planned, and to provide wisdom for the famine spreading through the land (read more here). Through such trial, Joseph’s character was refined and he learned to lean solely on God for strength, protection, and guidance, shaping him into “a powerful agent for social justice and spiritual healing.” (Keller, 24).

Now think, Haley. How many times in your life have you gone through something painful? I can name off a few, though nothing compared to what Joseph endured. Through each trial, I questioned God - His purpose and sometimes even His existence - and each time, I came out of the trial knowing, loving, and trusting Him more than I ever had.

As I think about these fires and the devastation they’ve caused, the questions and uneasiness they’ve raised are stronger than ever. People are losing homes, family members, and their own lives and at an astonishing 250,000+ acres combined in the burns, I struggled to understand how the God I’ve known, loved, and trusted my whole life could watch that. He hears my prayers and those from the millions of others around the world who are also praying, and yet the fires continue.

As Jesus lay on the cross, too, God heard his cries. “On the cross, he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours”, Keller writes (30). The Bible tells us that Jesus came to rescue us from our sins and to show us the unconditional, immense love of God and eternal life with Him. “He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us,” says Keller.

Thoughts on Devastation and God

Though that puts our pain and suffering into perspective, it doesn’t answer our questions (or, at least, the ones I have). What it does provide us is a promise of His love in how He took on our pain and suffering so that we wouldn’t need to. Sure, we still experience pain and suffering in our lives, but we can do so knowing that God loves us, knowing that we are not suffering alone, knowing that we can rest in our hope, faith, and love for God.

People are losing homes, family members, and lives. We cannot afford to - nor will we - lose God in this. He is with us. If this is the end of California, then we can hope in eternal life with Christ in Heaven. If this is not the end, then we can be faithful in His promise to bring good in time.

4 Things: Coffee, Jesus, Plans, Silence

Haley Hansen1 Comment

These four random things (but are they really random, Haley?… no) are on my mind these days - not enough of each to elaborate into single blog posts, but definitely enough to share here because, remember, it’s more than food. Hope you enjoy my thoughts!

4 Things: Coffee, Jesus, Plans, Silence
  1. COFFEE

    I want this cozy drink more than ever these days, but at the same time, I also shouldn’t be drinking the amount I have been. And I shouldn’t be “should”-ing when it comes to food… and now I’m just “should”-ing all over the place, aren’t I? I’ll stop. Anyway, caffeine HITS me, guys. I can feel it within seconds the first sip hits my system, which is half the point of coffee, if you ask me. The other half is why I actually crave it - coziness, flavor, warmth, comfort. I’m a snuggler and I think, right now, coffee is my snuggle-buddy. I’m not mad about it. BUT. There’s always a “but”. I’m sensitive to caffeine, so any cup after 12 PM and any small drop after 4 PM means much less sleep than needed for Haley, and with a job that wakes me up at 4 AM most days… yeah, you do the math. The night before last, I lay in bed and could feel the caffeine in me. I didn’t drink an excessive amount that day, but, for whatever reason, I physiologically noticed the amount more than usual. Tossing. Turning. Thinking. Frustration building as I looked at the clock that said “1:15 AM”, “2:30 AM”, “3 AM”. UGH.
    I woke up feeling like road-kill, and that only intensified as the day went on. I blame coffee and I am not sorry. So, all that to say - I’m sticking with my regular cup of joe in the morning, and then any desired coffee after that will be in decaf form. Done. No questions asked. Sleep must be had.

  2. JESUS

    As if I could sum up Jesus in a paragraph here. HA. That is most certainly not my point. I just want to make sure to brighten your day by reminding how you awesome it is that we are called into relationship with him and with others who help us focus on him. Each week, I attend church on Sunday and small group on Tuesday, and I leave those just incredibly thankful for faith and community and joyful in how God has worked and is continuing to do so, in ways I might not even know of yet.

  3. PLANS

    This is something I recently (recently as in… like, two days ago) came face-to-face with. I don’t think I’m supposed to stay here in SLO after I graduate. To plant myself here, working, cookbook-ing/blogging, and enjoying the Central Coast has been my plan for the past two years, but things are changing. My heart wants to be with family. My brain doesn’t want to worry about fires (it’s a significant fear, guys). Both just want change, which I never really thought I would hear myself say.
    Unexpected change hit me rather quickly a couple months ago and that forced me to think about my future in a new light. It also led me back to God, so as unexpected as it may have been, it was also much-needed. A reality-check. A wake-up call. A blessing, really.
    My tentative plans are to graduate in March (which is not tentative - that is HAPPENING, PEOPLE.), stay in SLO until my lease ends in July, and then get my booty on the road to Minnesota. I hope to travel through Europe in October, spend the holidays with family, and then recuperate adult life come the new year of 2020. Crazy. Exciting. I’m so ready.

  4. SILENCE

    Boy, oh boy, do I need more of this. Am I the only person who finds herself feeling some sort of strange need to always have either music, a podcast, a Bon Appetit YouTube video, or latest Hulu/Netflix show playing in the background of daily activities? I sure hope I’m not. Every so often, I catch myself reaching for a noise-creating device and stop myself as I think: how nice might it be right now to just… be? It is really nice. Silence is absolutely wonderful. If our own worlds were constantly buzzing with sounds, how would we hear our own voices, thoughts, opinions, desires? We wouldn’t. We would lose touch with our individual selves, and that is just a terrible feeling, guys. Believe me. I’ve been there.

    So, my focus is now on noticing the time I mindlessly reach for my noise-creating device and asking myself if I really need it or want it. Am I looking for noise to shut out some other thought or feeling? Or am I actually just wanting to listen to something, like a favorite song or one I haven’t heard in a while?

    Don’t be afraid of silence. Let it be uncomfortable at first. Sit with your thoughts and feelings. Dissect them. Love them. You are full of endless and beautiful discoveries!

4 Things: Coffee, Jesus, Plans, Silence

Thanks for reading! Keep coming back for more posts like this - just some random blurbs of life. I enjoy writing them and I hope you enjoy reading them! Tell me something exciting about YOUR life down below!

Figuring Out Faith

Haley Hansen8 Comments

It makes sense now.

Figuring Out Faith

About six months ago, big questions regarding my faith came barging into my mind and I couldn’t ignore them every time I went to open my bible or pray or listen to a worship song. Big questions I never really asked before I committed my life to Christ almost three years ago now. Big questions that, when I finally began to sort through them, paralyzed my faith and eliminated any desire to seek any answers - a scary obstacle for a girl who has followed Christ her whole life.

And I was open about these questions. A follower asked how I manage my relationship with God and I held nothing back in saying that I haven’t had much of a relationship with Him this year. School threw more at me at the beginning of this year than I expected, leaving me with little time and energy to spend with God (or so it seemed). The less I opened my bible, the less I closed my eyes to pray, the farther I felt from God, and the more the questions and doubts invaded my thoughts. All were new to me, so I explored them with curiosity.

For a few months, life rolled on as usual. Instead of quiet, intentional mornings and Bible-verse-reminders throughout the day, there were some late-nights downtown and therefore mornings for sleeping in. There were times - lots of them, honestly - when I sought attention from sources that gave only temporary, superficial attention. There were countless self-checks in the mirror searching for physical beauty and always feeling less-than ____ (fill in the blank). There were dates with guys who were fantastic and incredibly sweet and charming, but not seeking the same thing I now am.

And that’s You, God.

Figuring Out Faith

Thinking I might be ready to find some answers, I opened '“The Reason for God” by Tim Keller and couldn’t put it down after the first few pages, which turned into a couple hours, an entire Saturday morning, and now it has its own place on my night-stand and I look at it with so much hope and eagerness to pick it back up again and continue learning, seeking, understanding.

Last night, when I reached the point of I-can’t-keep-my-eyes-open-any-longer at around 9 PM (yes, for real), I just lay in bed and sorted through my thoughts regarding all of this. I haven’t been feeling like myself lately and the one thing I do that helps set me back on track is read through old blog posts. Why it took me this to realize, I don’t know, but the trigger of this off-track/not-myself feeling is because I have been missing a HUGE part of me. I’ve been missing my faith - the rock that keeps me grounded in the person I want to be more like. Running down paths chasing towards goals, achievements, paychecks, dates, analytics, and grades threw me off track.

It makes sense now.

My questions still need answers and - let’s be honest - my sins need forgiveness. But I’m ready now to figure this out, to grab a hold of my faith once again and never let it go. I’m ready to start running towards God again, questions about faith in one hand and desire for Him in the other. My faith makes me the person I want to be, but more importantly, it reveals to me the incredible love of the God who doesn’t give up on me, who doesn’t cease His love - the God who welcomes me home with arms open wide.

Recent Eats

Haley HansenComment

The ratio of pictures showcasing food to pictures showcasing life has, in recent days, leaned more towards the latter - a rare occurrence in my photo album, but one to cherish, nonetheless. And I have a summer jam-packed with memories as juicy as fresh, seasonal strawberries and peaches to thank for that. It’s just wonderful.

But, you want to see the food. I get that. Here ya’ go!

Recent Eats

That guy in the background is a good friend of mine, so when he suggested the fish burrito from a local taqueria, I trusted him and went with it! I asked for veggies instead of rice in mine because rice in burritos, along with beans and a tortilla, just feels like too much for me. The crunch of the fajita veggies is just what such a satisfying meal needs. If you’re in the area, this is from Taqueria Santa Cruz on Monterey Street. Tell me your go-to order in the comments!

Recent Eats

RX Bar gets lots of love in my pantry. I find them to be just the right size when I’m in need of a snack, and this PB & J flavor hits every spot. Paired with an iced coconut milk latte here, this bar kept me satisfied and sane through some of the stupidest Saturday LA traffic as I drove down to OC for my bff’s graduation party. A taco man catered dinner, so even though I was pretty hungry when I arrived, I knew I had a plate full of carne-asad-eliciousnes awaiting me (see what I did there?).

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Bagels confuse me. How can they make me drool when sitting in front of me, all dressed up in rich cream cheese and buttery smoked salmon, but then let me forget all about them a week later? Then, I’m caught back up in the carb-induced bagel-obsession the minute I see one again. If I try to figure this dilemma out, though, will that erase the deep love I have for the oh-so-fluffy carbohydrate, undeserving of the neglect from carb-haters? Forever a bagel-and-carb-lover.

Recent Eats

Grace and I wanted ice cream from the minute we woke up on this day. Okay, maybe not that exact minute, but I do remember it being quite early in the day when we scheduled an ice cream snack for later in the afternoon. I think this was from a place called Scoop Deck in Southern OC - she got mint chip and I got cookies n’ cream. Cravings were satisfied beyond imagination.

Recent Eats

If my stomach weren’t bound by it’s own walls, I would devour plates upon plates upon plates of this meal - grilled chicken and sausage, baked beans, roasted corn, and mixed greens. Simple. Quick. Bursting with flavor. Nothing extravagant or trendy, but still one of my absolute favorites. And, to top it off, I enjoyed it all while relishing the soft summer breeze of Minnesota along with Mom, Dad, Ben (brother), and Natalie (sister in law). It would all still taste good if I ate it just by myself, but the family component takes the meal (any meal, actually) to a whole new level.

Recent Eats

More ice cream! When I insisted on at least one trip to Dairy Queen during my Minnesota vacation, Dad replied with nothing but a link to the Nelson’s Ice Cream Instagram page and, though I’m still a devout fan of DQ, I couldn’t say no. Especially if my dad is recommending an ice cream place (he’s more of a pie-for-dessert kind of person). The five of us took what seemed like endless bites of several flavors - we ordered four of the kids size, which actually turned out to each be equal to about the size of my head. We rode our bikes home for a little movement and a chance to relish more of the soft summer breeze.

Recent Eats

Speaking of a sugar-high, all these bad boys are from a famous bakery in my mom’s hometown, of which I would butcher the name if I tried, so don’t ask. Cinnamon rolls, croissants, classic glazed, and a couple maple bacon held us and our sweet cravings over for the next couple of days. We even brought some leftovers to my grandparents, who had never heard of a maple bacon donut, but upon first bite, became huge fans. To my surprise, the maple bacon was my favorite, too.

Recent Eats

Natalie cooked dinner for us all one night - a roasted veggie dish she often cooks for my brother in England. She mentioned sweet potatoes and immediately I was in. We had this alongside some more grilled chicken, more roasted corn on the cob, and probably bread because Dad loves bread. Me too, Dad. Me too.

Recent Eats

Lots of love for RX Bar - did I not tell you? If you haven’t yet tried their new nut butters, please please please do so. You’ll thank me for sharing the news, and you’ll thank RX Bar for being pure genius.

Recent Eats

Lots of love for dinners like this - did I not tell you that, too? We had family over for a barbecue one night and everyone brought something to share. I went for my favorites (the chicken and the beans) along with a few others, like mom’s farro and greens salad, my aunt’s marinated tomatoes and mozzarella, and my uncle’s guacamole.

Recent Eats

We hung out in Downtown Stillwater for a night and found a cool bar/restaurant for happy hour. I got a wine slushy (not the exact name, but that’s the gist of it) - a red wine blend with fresh blackberries and tons of other flavor to make it even sweeter and better than everyone else’s drink of choice… in my opinion :)

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It’s just a tradition whenever I’m home to make Dad’s favorite waffles. It needs to happen. I’ve tried to teach Mom how to make them, but I don’t know - maybe it’s just one of those things when food tastes better when made by a specific person, ya’ know? I think I made, like, five batches total while I was there because we all just kept eating them. They’re that good. My favorite way to eat them (and I got a couple others on board with this, too) was slightly toasted and topped with Fage 2% yogurt, Mom’s homemade berry jam, and fruit. Unbeatable.

Recent Eats

What prompted me to make overnight oats, I cannot recall. But I went with it and loved them. If you missed the last couple updates, I started working at a local cafe as one of the bakers. So, three days a week, I’m up and out the door by 4:15 AM, and finished and on my way home by 8:30 AM. It’s still an adjustment, but I’m loving the experience! For these oats, I combined 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats + 1/2 cup almond milk + 1 tbsp. collagen peptides + maple syrup + a sprinkle of chia seeds + a dollop of peanut butter + sliced banana. As soon as I go through all the banana bread in my freezer, I will be making this again!

Recent Eats

Approximately 97.9% of my lunches look like this. Mixed greens serve as the base of the bowl, skillet-roasted chicken thighs add hearty protein, chopped celery adds some juicy crunch, and a creamy hummus dressing made with hummus and the juices that cooked out of the chicken thighs (holy moly it’s amazing) dresses it all up with tons of flavor. I know, you’re probably where the carbs are in this meal (and if you’re not, I’ll tell you anyway) - they usually come in the form of toast on the side, or a couple bites of whatever leftover baked good I have laying around. Lemon chia seed oatmeal cookie sandwiches sound like a pretty dang delicious way to round out a solid lunch salad!

Recent Eats

Welcome to one of my favorite places in San Luis Obispo - Old San Luis BBQ. Their pulled pork sliders have my heart, and now their new thick-cut sweet potatoes are stealing the show. My friends and I eat here pretty much every time we come downtown for the Thursday-night farmers market and always leave with happy tummies.

Alllllllllrighty my friends. There ya’ have it. I love sharing these fun and casual posts with you and I hope you enjoy reading them!

Hearts Don't Break

Thoughts, LifeHaley Hansen4 Comments

I watched what was left of the cloudy sunset tonight and because the sun had already set behind the thick wall of clouds lining the horizon, I found myself watching the waves in the ocean instead. And this got me thinking. 

Waves rush in, build, peak, and then crash. Then they roll back out to sea and pick themselves up again. If only picking oneself up were that easy, I thought. How much simpler could life be, given the ability to just get back up after a crash from such a high peak. So, how can I become more like these waves? (I'm talking habits, thoughts, etc. here - not like how can I become two hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen). How can I develop such resilience, such optimism and fearlessness? Or better yet, after all these 22 years, why haven't I been able to, yet? 

Well, because I'm not a wave. Waves don't have feelings. Waves don't have hearts. I am a living, breathing, functioning, baking, eating, feeling human being and my heart slows me down - sometimes in the best way possible, like when it tells me to call the family member I've been missing lately, and sometimes in the worst way possible, like when it forces me to feel the pain of loving someone who isn't on the same page. One of my very first posts on this blog was written by (who I thought was) a "broken-hearted" girl, one who hadn't yet experienced such devastating hurt. I hoped to never write about it again. 

But my heart is slowing me down again and, this time, it's asking me to write this for the sake of vulnerability and for the sake of anyone else who needs to know that you cannot become a wave. Be thankful for that. I am...

Hearts Don't Break

... because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that waves don't really learn. They rush in, build, peak, crash, then rush back out and repeat it all over again. We are smarter than that (most of the time) because we have hearts and those hearts are made of muscle tissue. Unlike bones, our hearts don't "break". They can be tugged, pulled, torn, bruised, but not broken. Like the other muscles in our bodies, our hearts recover from injury when cared for. 

Our hearts recover from injury when cared for.  

Mine always has, even though in some moments I have feared that I would never recover from whatever pain was gnawing at me, and I know it will recover this time, too. I've crashed multiple times like waves do, but instead of rolling back out to sea to repeat the process, I've learned and developed resilience. You've also crashed - I'm sure of it - and you might do so once or twice more, so take those as opportunities to learn and develop your own resilience. Your heart didn't break - maybe it was bruised. I'm not making light of any of your challenges, but rather encouraging you to encourage yourself because your heart is your own muscle and it's one of the strongest in your body. 

The girl who wrote about heartbreak four years ago wasn't actually heartbroken - if her heart were broken, she wouldn't be here right now. It was severely injured, no doubt, but she knew how to give that muscle the proper attention and recovery process so that she could continue on finding herself and pursuing her passions. She's here again, and her heart was severely injured, but she refuses to let this take her off the field. With injury, her muscles were torn and with each careful recovery process, they built themselves back up. Stronger than ever before. 

Discipline vs. Desire

Health, Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen1 Comment

You’re so well disciplined!

I’ve heard it for years, a number of times at least twice that of which I’ve been asked what I’m training for. (nothing - life? fun? fitness? I don’t know.) At least twelve times the number of years this blog has been around - happy fourth birthday to Hungry Haley! And for a couple years I held that statement as an insecure young woman would a compliment - it sounded like an achievement and a bragging right, and it parallels the restrictive nature of an eating disorder, which I was captured by at the time. As I’ve taken leaps forward (and a few steps back, at times), learning more about the damage I was doing to my body and beginning to understand and adopt the practice of Intuitive Eating, this “you’re so disciplined” compliment sits more like an entire bag of candy would in a hyperactive five-year-old’s stomach. Imagine that. I’ve had enough and I don’t need more. “Disciplined” just doesn’t fit in my vocabulary of self-descriptive terms.

 click for the recipe!

click for the recipe!

Because discipline is based on will-power, and because will-power is limited, discipline can certainly only last so long, as it did for me. The discipline of daily hour-long workouts made it through my first year-and-a-half of college, until I discovered (on my journey to regaining my period), the mind-freeing peace of just walking, and of rejuvenating rest days. The discipline of a low-carb diet fueled me until I developed a passion for veganism, and along with that, a love for carbs. The discipline of reading the Bible each and every morning lasted until I found - like loose change in the bottom of a purse I haven’t used in months - some faith-paralyzing questions in my back pocket. Each of these real-life examples are based on some belief I held about exercise and my appearance, food and my body, faith and my future, and those beliefs provided a finite supply of willpower - the main ingredient in the recipe for discipline.

So, desire. Desire is the fuel that doesn’t run out. Desire is different from discipline, vastly different. It is what has kept this blog running for four years. It is what has motivated me to continue exercising and moving joyfully. It is what has maintained my burning love for food and encouraged me to pursue the ever-changing personalized idea of balance. Because desire is based on passion, and because passion is limitless, desire can certainly last… well, much, much longer than discipline. Desire - for writing, for fitness, for food (and balance therein) - has carried me through and through the last four years. The messy yet gorgeous, challenging yet strengthening, best four years of my life.

Discipline vs. Desire

Say “discipline” out loud and listen to its ring - sharp, short, and forced. Now, say “desire” out loud and listen to its ring - smooth, thrilling, and honestly, I think it’s kind of sexy (sexy in the way chocolate cake is sexy, not sexy in the Zac-Efron way). I bring this contrast between two words up now because, reflecting on the last four years, I see that those two words represent my development and most significant lesson learned as I grew from a girl trapped by discipline into a young woman led fearlessly (or almost fearlessly) by desire.

It is not about discipline that “rewards” me with abs and toned muscles - it is about desire to move my body everyday in various ways that light me up (it also has a lot to do with genetics and metabolism and diet, but those are three other stories). It is not about discipline that forces me to choose greens and whole-grains - it is about desire to feel my best as much as possible in order to do my best as much as possible. It is not about discipline that schedules these blog posts - it is about desire to share my life, my struggles and my wins, and everything in between in hopes that it may - at the very least - interest you or - at the very most - captivate you and let you know that you are beautiful, bright, and beaming with purpose.

Discipline vs. Desire

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 2

LifeHaley Hansen2 Comments

I left off last time talking about our mini weekend trip to Winona (remember the bat in the kitchen? yeah, that one) and I guess, since then, Minnesota kept me busy enough to pull me away from keeping things up-to-date here. Whoops! Don't you just love it when life happens :) 

We don't do a ton around here, nor do we prefer to. Our mornings start slow until someone leaves to go workout, after which another person or two will follow because we're just active people, especially in the morning. We cherish breakfasts and dinners, and the happy hour in between, together like nobody's business. But other than that, we're low-key. 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 2

I love my family, and I love my alone-time. And the wonderful thing about this vacation is that it's giving me both. Family-time is the breakfasts, dinners, happy hours, and little daily activities in between, and alone-time is my morning coffee, workouts, the chance to bake something, and lulls in the afternoon when no one else proposes an idea for an activity, so I just escape upstairs to read or something. 

We chose one night to go into downtown Stillwater, which is adorable by the way, mainly for a store I've had my eye on since I first drove by it back in March, but also for - you guessed it - happy hour (we're barely moderate drinkers, I promise). I've been eye-balling this one cooking store on the main street in downtown like you wouldn't believe. Obviously we all spent like an hour in there. All of us. Sorry everyone, and thanks for loving me the way you do as you patiently let me peek inside every cookbook, run my fingers across every cast-iron skillet, every porcelain baking dish, every fancy coffee maker (I still love my pour-over). I could get lost in a place like that. 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 2

I spent a full morning focused on scones - the first round came out like a muffin top (which is delicious on its own, but not the goal here), the second round came out like a complete utter under-baked soggy brick, and the third round came out absolutely perfect as could be. You can imagine my emotions - terrifying frustration and then pure joy - went hand-in-hand with each round. Onward and upward! 

Later that night, we grilled carnè asada - our California favorite. So much so, in fact, that my parents asked the butcher to freeze a huge stock for us so that we wouldn't have to suffer mediocre Mexican food out here. My stomach was feeling funky that day and continued to for the next couple, actually, but hey - I still got a few bites in and a really pretty picture of the whole meal! 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 2

Have you heard of that one cereal company... you know, General Mills? Of course you have. Duh. I'm messing with you. Anyway, I visited their HQ! My dad made a connection for me with the leader of this cool company called 301 Inc. that helps grow small food start-ups, so he and I chatted one morning and probably could've kept chatting into the afternoon, too. What a fantastic and exciting time this is to be involved in food. So many companies are moving forward and keeping their eyes open not only for up-and-coming trends in food, but also for the latest news in nutrition and wellbeing. 

We visited a local brewery to hangout on Friday afternoon and I had my first very own beer! You should have seen the bartender's eyes when my brother told her this was my first beer. Yes, I'm 22 years old and only now drinking a beer. And I don't foresee very many more happening in the future - it's just not my thing. I did, however, really enjoy the mango-flavored one I tried here, as well as the free popcorn and the Jenga!

I don't think I've shown you enough food yet. That should change, shouldn't it? Here's our dinner from last Friday night at Lolo's American Kitchen. I found this place online when I was hangrily searching for a restaurant because I knew if I didn't, we'd be sipping cocktails and snacking for the rest of the night. FOOD. I wanted food that night. And maybe a glass of wine. We sat upstairs and pretty much had the place to ourselves, along with all the a m a z i n g food we ordered. A round of smoked salmon and tuna pokè appetizer bites for everyone came before our meal. I ordered the chicken tacos in a lettuce wrap with a side of grilled broccolini. The tacos were delish, but that broccolini just about had me on my knees. Unbelievable. When it was my uncle Tom's turn to order (right after mine), he said "I'll have what she's having", and my heart smiled. There's just something about it when people trust your taste and dinner order enough to get the same exact thing. I find that incredibly flattering. 

And to top off our weekend, we went on a boat! A boat. The way to my heart, besides a kitchen. We explored White Bear Lake and the beautiful houses the border it, sipped Blood Marys (I tasted Mom's and it was okay), snacked on prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and crackers and cheese and such, and just enjoyed each other's company. My kinda' day. And exactly the kind of sunshine and relaxing we needed before having a bunch of family over for BBQ-ing later that night!

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 2

Sunday was a day of church, hanging out with grandparents, and then walking around downtown Minneapolis. I LOVE THE CITY. Sometimes I feel deprived if I go more than a few days without seeing bustling streets, tall buildings, and other exciting characteristic city-things as such. We spent Monday with my grandma making lefse (see more on my "minnesota" IG story highlights) - a Norwegian sort of tortilla made from potatoes, flour, and butter. That's it. They're pretty good, but the highlight of it all was seeing my grandma so eager to share a part of her family with us and continue to pass on this tradition. Maybe you'll see a lefse recipe up here soon?! Ben and Natalie (my brother and his wife) left on Tuesday, so that day was all for them to just pack up. I took the day to do my thing - to workout, to read, to blog a little, and to get ready for the Minnesota Cup! My dad and I were invited to this event (think mini version of Expo West, for those of you who have been) and accepted immediately. How cool it was to see further development of already blossoming food trends, and to see a little debut of potential future trends! And since Wednesday was my last day in town, I had to squeeze in everything - a little workout, a little baking (I perfected a fluffy, moist banana bread recipe and could pee my pants I'm so excited to share it!), a little time with grandparents (I brought them some lunch from Panera and we all loved it!), and a lot of time with Mom and Dad in the city :) happy. 

So, now it's back to reality. I cherished my time in Minnesota and feel so incredibly thankful for my family. And because I've already been asked this more times than you'd imagine, no - I don't see myself living out there (in a place without a year-round farmers' market, you'd have to really convince me). But, that being said, I will be out there much more frequently because that's where my family is and that's enough of a reason for me to visit whenever I can :) 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 1

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen2 Comments

I forgot to bring headphones (then spent $15 on crappy ones at the airport), both my phone and laptop died, and the book I started failed to grab my interest by the third chapter (so I gave up on it). What in the world am I going to do for the duration of this three-hour flight? The dead electronics and crappy headphones and boring book seemed like defeat, until I remembered my journal and how little time I've had during the past few weeks to actually intentionally whole-heartedly journal. I seized the opportunity and spent the entire flight thinking, writing, and reading back over the last couple months. I felt a little wellness-hipster when I filled three pages with intentions for this trip, but I rolled with it and I'm keeping those intentions in my mind everyday. Flying (in a plane, obviously) lets me see the world in a bigger-picture-kind-of-view, something I've been working on for... forever. Thank you, dead phone and computer and boring book and crappy headphones, for forcing me to think. 

If you're wondering what I'm doing in Minnesota, I'm visiting my parents who moved back out here in May. As a family, we lived together in Minnesota until 2003 when we moved to Orange County in California. Then I left for college and my brother left for England, and my parents were left in OC paying way too much for a house and missing our family here in MN. So, they moved. And here we are. Now you're caught up. 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 1

My parents' house (our house? I don't know) is perfect - cozy but spacious, modern but welcoming. It feels like a home away from my home which is exactly what I hoped for. I even have my own room and bathroom (might be my favorite part, besides the kitchen). A quiet little part of me wishes I were a few years younger because maybe - maybe - staying here might sound a bit more appealing. You know, a soon-to-be 23-year-old post-grad living with her parents in quaint little Stillwater, MN (which is what I will be in roughly a year when I will have the opportunity to move back here) doesn't quite ring my bell. But now I'm just getting ahead of myself. 

There isn't too much excitement to share about the trip yet because it hasn't even been a week, but we've done some fun things worth sharing! I arrived on Tuesday, August 7th at night, so we all called lights out early to save energy for the next day. We love slow, early mornings around here and have been starting each day that way - I prep a pot of coffee filled high enough to water our whole lawn (not really, but kind of) per Dad's request, sip on that while reading the news or baking something and chatting with whomever is awake so far. Then there's a breakfast of some sort, which for me has been more of a snack because come 10:30 AM-ish, I'm ready to move and I hate doing that with a stomach full of breakfast. On days when Dad makes bacon and eggs, though, I choose those before a workout. Bacon + eggs > morning workout (most of the time). 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 1

A lot of the days, afternoons, and nights have been pure family time and that's what we all came here for anyway, so we must be doing something right. My grandparents live just 20 minutes away, which makes a drive over to visit them or pick them up and bring them here for dinner easy as can be. As for the rest of my family's location(s), I don't know because I don't know the geography of this state yet (or still...?), but they've gotta' be close by and I can't wait to see as many of them as possible. 

OH GUYS. Funny story. My mom's high school reunion took place in her hometown of Winona this past weekend, so we all drove over there and stayed in a bed and breakfast owned by my mom's friend of a friend (or something like that). It was cute - up in the woods, very colorful and woodsy. Every corner and nook and cranny cradled an antique and every wall held a huge frame with an art piece. We came back from dinner one night and (what I thought was) a bird flew over my head when I walked into the kitchen. Thankfully, my dad's nervous voice sounds actually quite calm - "Um, that's a bat..." he informed me and I booked it outside faster than I've ever taken warm chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. A BAT, GUYS. The owner told us to leave the doors open and the lights on, assuring us that doing so would usher the bat outside. Not an ounce of me wanted to go back inside until I could be sure that thing had left the building, but because it was a bat and they tend to hide, I couldn't be sure. After an hour of playing Banana-grams on the porch, we couldn't keep our eyes open and had to head up to bed. I pretended the bat thing never happened... well, I tried to. We woke up to coffee and muffins the next morning, followed by a brunch of fresh fruit and yogurt, crispy bacon, and homemade aebelskivers! If you don't know what those are, they're basically pancake balls with some sort of fruit filling on the inside. Dad and I took a bite, made eye-contact across the table, and promised each other immediately to buy a cast-iron aebelskiver pan because we. need. these. on at least a weekly basis. We finished breakfast and gathered our things to checkout and as Ben (my brother) hopped in the shower, so did the bat. HAHA. Goodbye. I'm out. That's my story. 

 as strange as the house was, it graced us with a beautiful view!

as strange as the house was, it graced us with a beautiful view!

I haven't had the chance to explore the adorable downtown streets of Stillwater yet, but I've heard wonderful things and I'm planning a full day ahead to explore the coffee shops, cafès, boutiques, and the one kitchen/cooking store everyone in my family is thoughtful enough to make sure I'm aware of. 

Minnesota Vacation Pt. 1

I do have plans to create some recipes while I'm here because, yes, that is work for me if you want to be all technical about it, but I'm lucky because I love my work so it doesn't feel like the dreadful kind of work that is all too common in the world of careers today. On the list so far are scones, a bundt cake, cast-iron skillet pizzas, sangria, and much much more. Stay tuned my friends! 

Recent Eats

Recent EatsHaley Hansen1 Comment

Hello, food-loving friends! Ready to check out another collection of blog-worthy meals and snacks and whatnot? You better be. I'm one-month-deep into summer and it feels like heaven on earth - I'm sleeping in (and by that I mean roughly 7:30 AM at the latest), I'm working on the cookbook (!!!), I'm making progress on finishing This Is Us, and I'm continuing to learn more and more each day how to just relax. I'd say it's been pretty fantastic so far.

The most basic meal ever that just so happened to also be one of the most delicious was this one - garlic roasted Japanese sweet potato cubes + tempeh + mixed greens + avocado + feta. SO GOOD. 

Recent Eats

I came home one evening from wherever I was and found my roommates on our floor eating pizza and cookies and reminiscing on the last two years of living together/almost tearing up at the thought of no longer living together. 'Twas an emotionally challenging situation to walk into, but the Tollhouse cookies made it a little easier for all of us. 

Recent Eats

I told you we love happy hour! This spread is from Milestone Tavern in San Luis Obispo - a few of my friends and I treated ourselves on a Monday night to some appetizers and drinks and loved every bite. My favorites were the pretzel and cheese dip and the pulled pork slider (you should've seen that one coming)! 

Recent Eats

I wasn't much of a wine drinker until I discovered rosè - holy moly guacamole. Whenever my mom and I drink wine together, we love to add some fresh chopped fruit. The flavor isn't much different than wine without fresh fruit, but I'm convinced the small addition makes us feel... cooler? Fancier? Funner? Something like that. 

Recent Eats

One of my best friends recently married her college sweetheart, so my friends and I drove up to Northern California for the wedding a couple weekends ago. Our lunch, post four-hour-car-ride, was a stop at a cute local sandwich shop that was far too crowded for my liking, but the sandwiches were far too yummy for me to care that much about the line I had to wait in to get my hands on said sandwich. Speaking of that, it was something with garlic roasted turkey breast, brie, fresh veggies, and a spicy pepper aioli I think. 

Recent Eats

And the wedding dinner was chicken with veggies and mashed potatoes. The bread was a disappointing take on cardboard, but hey, we still love the bride and had plenty of food and cake for hours of dancing. Peep the adorable jar of homemade jam! 

Recent Eats

The girls and I had these breakfast burritos planned for the morning after the wedding about a week in advance and I could not have been more excited. Once we pulled out the breakfast sausages, I think my heart skipped a beat. Okay, but really, this was our last time together as roommates and it was both infinitely joyous and tear-jerkingly sad at the same time. We've all lived together for at least two years, so saying goodbye was harder than... hard. Gotta' do what ya' gotta' do. Sorry - I don't have any uplifting advice for goodbyes. 

Recent Eats

I usually pack a lunch or at least some snacks for work everyday, so here's one of them - some chopped nectarine (white ones are my favorite) and an RX Bar nut butter packet, which was p h e n o m e n a l by the way, and then a big ol' salad of mixed greens + chopped carrots and cucumber + black bean burgers + a hard-boiled egg + mayo whisked with salsa for the dressing. MMMM!

Recent Eats

Every so often, I'm lucky enough to take home some leftovers of whatever the chef made either that day or a few days prior, and this time it was a thick slice of jalapeño cheddar cornbread! He offered it up and I graciously volunteered to take this chunk of his hands. I'm so nice. Later that evening, I heated it back up and ate it alongside some roasted veggies and tempeh. 

Recent Eats

Grace and I treated ourselves to a new ice cream place in town - Nite Creamery. I don't remember exactly what we got, but we ordered the same thing and I think it was vanilla ice cream + cookie crumbles mixed in and a caramel drizzle. HELLO. So good. Well, like ice cream is delicious and all, but if you ask me, what really makes ice cream special is eating the ice cream with loved ones in the warmth of a summer Sunday night.  

Recent Eats

Dad and I couldn't decide what to do for dinner his last night in town, so I found a grill, bought some meat + veggies + burger buns and invited my friends over for the ideal summer dinner. We had burgers, roasted sweet potatoes, salad, fruit, and wine and capped the night off with a few rounds of banana-grams, which is hilarious and my new number one recommendation if you're looking for a simple yet effective game to keep a fun night extra fun. 

Recent Eats

After a magnificent brunch at Lido in Pismo Beach, I HAD to go back for something else... just to make sure the menu is consistent, ya' know? It is. It is consistently good. This was the nicest meal Dad and I have had in what feels like forever, for as long as we can both remember, and it was my gift to him for Father's Day (a whole month late) when he flew out here to spend a few days with me. He ordered the carbonara, I ordered the vegan pizza with a little cheese on top, and we split some roasted cauliflower. Everything was unbelievably good! 

For whatever reason, I think it's worth mentioning here that this wedding-centered weekend - from not being able to squeeze in a workout two days in a row, to snacking on leftover cake and wine at midnight (let alone cake in and of itself), to making breakfast burritos with sausage and white tortillas - would have stressed me out for weeks in advance and even more so during the event had it been three or four years ago. And this still hurts to say but even some of the time with my dad would've been spent planning meals and workouts and scheduling our day around when I can workout and where I can eat this or that. I've learned A LOT since then and I'm not saying that to brag, but rather to let those of you who aren't as happy as you might want to be in your relationship with food and/or body image that there is a way out of that mind-clogging, fun-sucking state. It can be a long, strenuous road with some disappointments and setbacks here and there, but it is worth the drive. The freedom to enjoy cake and breakfast burritos and the brain-space and energy to chat with friends and dance for hours instead of working out for 30 minutes is absolutely worth it. The freedom to savor a pizza and sip some damn good rosè overlooking the ocean with Dad by my side and the brain-space to discuss faith and our challenging questions and to reminisce on family memories and his college years and beyond is absolutely worth it. 

It's more than food. 

Life Lately (Moving & Ending, Working, Summer-ing)

LifeHaley Hansen2 Comments

My original intentions for this post were to tell you about some of the endings that have suddenly just appeared recently, but the more I wrote about those, the less I felt like my concluding words were anything vastly different or more impactful than what you've likely already heard, like "you just never know what's coming your way". And if you haven't yet heard that, well, I'm glad I could be the first. My current intentions for the post are to update you on life lately because a helluva lot is going on and I think you need a little taste of everything for it all to make sense. 

Life Lately (Moving & Ending, Working, Summer-ing)

1. MOVING & ENDING

First things first - I moved! Well, myself and all my roommates, that is. We left our little apartment that kept us cozy for two whole years and now we're a bit uncomfortable looking at the bare walls and empty rooms. I cried for three days straight - sometimes the tears came while schlepping boxes to and from wherever, and other times they came when exhaustion hit me like a wall and all I could do was cry and call Mom. This is an ending to two of the absolute best years of my life and that fact sits in my stomach like a brick. 

We laughed our azzes off and we cried our eyeballs out. We danced until sweat got the best of us and we slept until the sun woke us up. I grew my blog and let it transition through phases. I've baked endless batches muffins and cookies and sweet potatoes in that kitchen. I've found the friends I am not prepared at all to let go of. 

The thing with endings is that - for me at least - I'm often tied up in fears of the next chapter, too much so to think optimistically about the good it holds. Two years ago, moving into this house, I had no idea what to expect. I was scared then, too. Terrified, actually. And yet, within weeks, my roommates had me rolling off the couch onto the floor holding my stomach in that really good kind of pain laughter induces. Two years later, that still happens and that's one of the reasons I've felt terrified knowing that all - or at least about 90% of it - is coming to an end. 

But I look back and realize that I've been through this before. I've seen and endured endings in my life and I will see through this one, too. It's hard to see the next good beginning when there's a tough ending fogging up the windshield, but I'm reminding myself there is a good beginning coming. Actually, it's probably already arrived and I haven't even noticed it yet. One thing I am really looking forward to in this whole process is starting this next chapter with just me. Throughout the last couple of years, I've carved out some me-time when I need it, but other than that, I spent most of my time with my girls. And don't get me wrong - I LOVE THEM, obviously because if I didn't I wouldn't be missing them. But, four years ago when I went through the most challenging moving-&-ending I have experienced up-to-date (a rough break-up right before college), I did so on my own and because of that, had every opportunity to sculpt myself into the woman I want to be. It's not that I can't do that with my friends around (in fact, they help in my discovery of myself), but I am an introvert at my core and I have been craving some self-exploration and I feel that having few people physically here with me to lean on will somehow benefit me, though it may not always feel that way. 

Life Lately (Moving & Ending, Working, Summer-ing)

2. WORKING

I am a working woman! And by that I mean I'm not completely reliant on self-employment via this blog to financially support myself. When I began pursuing this as my only job, it provided everything I wanted and more in terms of income and job description, but that changed as the months went on and now I'm here wishing more than ever for some interaction with other humans. Like in person. That feels strange to say because, as I mentioned before, I am an introvert, but I've concluded that I'm an extroverted-introvert. 

A week or two after school ended, I vowed to very intentionally send out my resume to a few restaurants and gyms (those are the only two places I can see myself working right now). Suddenly a popular job-search website suggested I apply for a hostess position at a restaurant inside one of the beach hotels in Pismo Beach and nothing really sounded much better than that, honestly. I met with the managers and within a day or two they brought me on the team! Since then, though, I've been doing some thinking and considering and exploring of other opportunities, and I predict some changes to come with my working situation. 

Ultimately, my goal right now is to save lots of money because I am still a college student, after all, and besides "homework", "saving money" is one of the middle names that comes with the student life. My second goal and therefore second priority I keep in mind when looking for opportunities is to gain experience in the restaurant industry, more on the casual dining/cafe side of the spectrum (which is not where I am right now working in this restaurant, but it's still useful experience). In ten or so years from now, I hope to have my own cafe up and running, so right now I want to gather knowledge on how to even do so because I feel as clueless as I did in my hardest chemistry class. And my third goal is to involve myself more in this community. It is a wonderful community, to say the very least, and I want to meet the farmers from whom I buy my produce at the market. I want to know the chefs and baristas and waitresses at my favorite places to eat. You know? 

Life Lately (Moving & Ending, Working, Summer-ing)

3. SUMMER-ING

It's technically not a word, but we don't worry about small things like that here on this blog. During our first week of summer, Grace (bff/roommate - remember?) and I took on this triple-hike challenge and as we trotted ever-so-not-gracefully down the last of the three hikes, I listed off a few things I really want to do this summer and she looked back at me with a grin and said, "It's like you come out of hibernation when school is out". HAHAHA. It's true. My other friends backed that statement up. I can't help it! My classes this year were intense times a million, and hibernation is actually a very accurate description. What else would you call a routine like this: wake up, workout, go to class, go to more class, study, more class, come home, and keep studying 'til bedtime? To think that I missed out on several fun outings with friends makes me tear up sometimes, but I know that I'm pursuing my passion and there are inevitable sacrifices sometimes. 

So, when school is out and doesn't require 90% of the energy I have each day, I. Want. To. Have. Fun. And I have been having so much fun during this first month of summer. My friends and I are fans of happy hour, beach days, Bachelorette nights (go Blake!), and even going to the bars downtown (yes - I stay up past my bedtime and drink alcohol on occasion), among a long list of other things. One day, Grace and I spent the entire morning watching This Is Us and I felt like a kid watching cartoons all day on Saturday. It was awesome. Oh, and last weekend, one of our best friend's married than man she has loved for the last three years and it was a wedding to remember forever. We love you, Phoebe and Brent!

Summers in SLO are indescribable. Almost perfect. Ehh, they're actually probably perfect. 

And that's life lately! Thanks for reading along here and following along wherever else I am. This blog means the world to me and I plan to continue pursuing it - I just need to find a... what's that word? Oh, yes - balance :) 

Life Lately (Moving & Ending, Working, Summer-ing)

YOU.

Thoughts, Life, HealthHaley Hansen1 Comment

"Okay, Haley. It's you-time." Those were the first words in my journal this morning, as I curled up on the couch and let my soft blanket and warm cup of coffee be my comforting wake-up hug. 

This thing life threw at me a couple months ago is now forcing me to take actions that feel selfish and confusingly terrifying. No one around me can fully grasp all of it because no one around me has been here before. They can all listen with patient, open ears and offer with honest, loving words and both of those forms of care mean so much to me. But, still, this is something only I know because it's happening to me and only I can make the next move based on what feels "right". A move. Some kind of move. Right? Wrong? I don't know what is what and I might not know for whoknowshowlong and IhatethatIhatethatIhatethat, but I can't keep thinking about that, so... moving on. 

My mind likes to think. A LOT. It plans and considers and studies and analyzes and imagines and, after a while, all of that feels selfish. By the time I get to where I am now, when I'm ready to make some kind of move, selfish doesn't feel justifiable. Choosing the option that puts me first - whatever that may be in a given situation - feels like taking more cookies than what I'm offered. It can also feel like jumping blindfolded off a cliff because how in the world do I know what the right move is or where any step I take will lead me.  What if it really is off a cliff and there's no rope to climb back up (best case scenario)? 

YOU.

I've learned that I can't stop the thinking and planning and considering and studying and analyzing and imagining. I can't shut myself up, but I can change my opinion of and response to my thoughts. I am not selfish for caring for myself. I am not selfish for choosing the option least likely to hurt. I am not selfish for reminiscing on pictures of me smiling and wanting so badly to create those bright smiles on my own ("on demand" if you will). 

I AM capable beyond what I ever imagined possible to love someone. 

I AM driven towards my own definition of success. 

I AM passionate about food and nutrition and mental and physical health, and about traveling and people and relationships and creativity and words. 

I AM funny... or nerdy, which just ends up being funny, I guess. It still counts. 

I AM beautiful beyond the mirror's definition.

I AM intelligent. I AM strong. I AM powerful. 

I know me. I know what hurts, what triggers. I know what heals, what helps. 

I have a purpose - many, actually - and I am ready to pursue those and show them off. 

I have a massive capacity to love and be loved, and that is rare and beautiful and so am I. 

Repeat those phrases to yourself, making changes to fit whatever "thing" you're handling. Remind yourself that it's you-time, that you have a a brain that wants to learn + a soul that wants to smile + a heart that wants to love. 

YOU.

Choosing me isn't always selfish. Choosing me means taking care of myself and taking actions to alleviate pain. Choosing me means finding joy in right now, rather than trying to plan it for the future. Choosing me means loving Haley first.

As challenging as the last month-ish (I should find a new word to use for an estimate rather than "ish") has been, it's taught me:

1. Not all of our wants can be satisfied and a big part of taking care of ourselves is recognizing which can and which can't, being grateful for the ones that can and releasing the ones that can't.  

2. You are the most important in your life. You have control over you. You can take care of you. You can say "yes" and you can say "no". You are the most important in your life. 

I'm often stuck somewhere between the tippy-toe of now and the very thought of what-could-be at any given time in the future. I'm contemplating productivity and living, laughing, letting go of cares and to-do lists and bedtimes. I'm considering how these actions affect tomorrow's outcomes, the next year's and the next five year's. I'm thinking about what I hope for, what might happen and what might not, and either anticipating or fearing those potentials. I'm thinking about what I need and what I want, and sometimes those don't line up. I'm thinking about loved ones - deeply loved ones - and how much I care for them and want the very best for them. How exhausting does that sound? Constantly looking ahead and reaching out for others leaves little time and energy in the 24 hours each day gives us to be right here, right now and to reach in for ourselves.  

YOU.

Its you-time. Whatever that means for you. It's time to give yourself a break in school and take three classes instead of four because four was just one too many. It's time to jump off that diet-train because all it does it tell you that you that you can't have this and you aren't that and the only way to be maybe someday become "that" for half a second is to restrict everything. It's time to give less time to commitments that aren't serving you like they should. It's time to be honest with yourself and prioritize your own happiness. 

I won't tell you that you it's time to "grow up" and "put your big-girl pants on" because I haven't and I don't even think I own a pair of those pants. I want you to just... I don't know how to say it,

To seek you. To choose you. To be you. To love you. 

YOU.

Recent Eats

Life, Recent EatsHaley Hansen1 Comment

Well, it's that time again. My phone storage has completely filled up, so here I am, emptying all the pictures of food onto the blog for your eyes to feast on! Not even a month has passed since the last of these posts - I guess that means I've been eating well! School just ended last week, so I don't predict this post or the next few to come to include many packed lunches or dinners, things like that. Cool? Cool. Instead, from here on out for the rest of the summer, expect lots of fun foods, lots of new foods, lots of... everything :) 

Recent Eats

A couple drinks from a bar in Avila Beach (Mr. Rick's, for those in SLO) after my friend and I hiked one evening. In the back of my mind, this didn't sound like a fantastic idea - you know, re-hydrating mainly with alcohol - but we were both fine and the drinks tasted even better considering how thirsty we were. Tangerine Mai Tai for her, a Harlem Shake for me, and a stunning view of the ocean along with live music and everyone dancing on the boardwalk to make for a fantastic Friday night show for both of us!

Recent Eats

I remember this distinctly. It was a Thursday afternoon, right after an anatomy midterm I had the hardest time studying for because my emotions that week were just out of control and sleep didn't want to be my friend in the slightest. Don't worry - I didn't fail, but I did walk out knowing I was not about to see an A or B on that exam (I got a C and I'm okay with that). And because my day was still six hours from being over, I bought myself a latte from Starbucks and cracked open this new RX Bar. It's not my favorite flavor, but that isn't to say it wasn't good! 

Recent Eats

If you didn't guess from the mess on the kitchen counter, I was baking something here today, and I think it was the cookies in the picture. What sparked in me a desire to experiment with a new recipe, I do not know, but I rolled with it and after 30 minutes mixing together some almond flour, cacao powder, nut butter, and other ingredients, out from the oven came rich, soft, fudgy cookies that might be better described as brownies. Or brownies that might be better described as cookies? 

Recent Eats

Here they are! I saved the recipe, so I'm planning to post it here soon. Until then, patience. 

Recent Eats

Speaking of baking... I made a cake! And there's zucchini inside! And everyone liked it even when I told them about the vegetable! This four-layer chocolate cake was for a close friend's birthday - I spent the morning making it because 1) it was her BIRTHDAY so, duh, I wanted her to feel special and 2) (selfishly) I desperately needed a break from studying and baking sounded like the way to go. Win win win. Happy birthday Michaela! Oh, and here's the cake recipe

Recent Eats

I made an afternoon-coffee habit on Tuesdays and Thursdays this quarter because my schedule gave me only an hour-long break each day, and going from two hours of anatomy lecture to two hours of nutrition counseling lecture felt like a mountain to climb. Coffee and snacks to the rescue! This is the cascara latte with coconut milk + two of my chocolate peanut butter sea salt power bites

Recent Eats

When you wait to start what would become a ten-page written midterm until two days before it's due (not to mention that + anatomy lab practical + nutrition counseling essay all due in the same week), you spend the entire weekend at your favorite coffee shop. For me, that's the Steaming Bean in Shell Beach and I'll talk more about why I love it so much when I finish my post about the best coffee shops in SLO. I digress - I brought this pasta salad with me and it's pretty much Banza pasta + shaved carrot "noodles" + this mayo + salsa + cilantro. Sounds kinda' weird, I know, but trust me when I say it's pretty dang good. 

Recent Eats

Please excuse this picture if I've already posted it, and I wouldn't be surprised if I have because I've made these chocolate chunk tahini cookies at least six times in the last two months. Here they are again, all warm and gooey and freshly baked, ready for transport to the preview of my cookbook! I hung out at Holland's senior project showcase to meet her professor and her classmates and to, of course, see the finished product! I cried. :))) just a few more months and we will have ourselves A BOOK!!!

Recent Eats

Please also excuse this plate of sweet potato wedges that seems to reappear on my dinner menu multiple times a week, hence why it's always included in these posts. It's just so good and so easy and so satisfying. I usually go for the white sweet potatoes or the Japanese sweet potatoes, which I buy organic from Whole Foods (because I can't find them anywhere else less expensive) . Toss them in avocado or grape seed oil with garlic powder and sea salt, roast at 425F for 35-40 minutes, flipping them in between, and then serve with whatever dip or sauce sounds good. 

Recent Eats

Birthday tacos! These (which I split with a friend) are from Luna Red which will very likely forever and always be my favorite spot in SLO. I wish I could think of an adjective perfect enough to describe it. Picture this: flowery trees + pops of colorful furniture + outdoor bar and lounging area + twinkly lights (twinkly lights!). And as for the food, think: bacon-wrapped dates + seafood or vegetable paella + goat cheese balls + cured meat and cheese boards and way more you must check out for yourself. Must. 

Recent Eats

I also remember this quite distinctly. It was one of those rare (rare for me, at least) indecisive mornings when I couldn't decide how I wanted to get some movement into my day before I spent the rest of it in front of my computer/textbooks. First, I went for a walk, but only made it about half a mile from my house before I realized I felt like something more intense. Back home I went, thinking a bike ride to the beach sounded perfect. As I changed clothes, I changed my mind yet again and set my plans on getting to the coffee shop early to finish a chunk of studying, and then giving myself an hour or two in the afternoon for some movement as a study-break. So, that all happened and so did this breakfast burrito from Steaming Bean. Bacon + eggs + avocado + tomato. It was a little plain for my taste, but I know the owner and this felt like something he would make me if he invited me over to his place for breakfast. And I like that.  

Recent Eats

About three weeks ago, I made my first-ever very own grilled cheese sandwich. I loved them as a kid, but once my mom started letting me make my own food, I grew out of them. Then, the whole issue of my relationship with food crashed in and cheese and bread were never allowed and then I went vegan and, well... yeah, no cheese obviously. And that brings us here, to Haley's homemade grilled cheese sandwich #2. I bought a block of organic pepperjack cheese from the farmers market and melted it along with some spinach between two slices of my favorite bread from Breaking Bread here in SLO. Mmmmmm. I've missed these. 

Recent Eats

Happy graduation, Grace! If you're wondering who Grace is, she's my best friend first and then my roommate second and she just graduated from Cal Poly with a BS in Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration. Her whole family came up to SLO this weekend, so we spent every minute (okay, not every single one, but many) celebrating in some way. For dinner on Friday night, we went to the Shell Beach Brewhouse and both ordered a chicken sandwich and a glass of rose. The sandwich was huge and delicious, and we left stuffed. We can't really complain though - good company, good food, good rose, and so much laughing that my stomach and cheeks actually ached for the rest of the night. 

Recent Eats

 To finish celebrating Grace, we went to Sally Loo's for brunch on Sunday. For me, a veggie breakfast burrito sounded like it would hit the spot, and it did. I asked for no potatoes, so they subbed extra veggies and it was perfect. Whenever I eat breakfast burritos with potatoes, I feel way too full afterwards and would rather have more eggs or veggies instead of more starchy-ness in addition to the tortilla. Ya' know? Sometimes I feel too high-maintenance, but then I remind myself that 1) I'm rarely ever actually high-maintenance (I've seen worse) and 2) I want to actually enjoy my food. Duh. 

There they are, all the memorable eats within the last month. I hope you enjoy reading these posts! Come back soon for more. What are some of your memorable eats recently? Comment below!

22 Years! 22 Lessons, Pieces of Advice, and Thoughts

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen1 Comment

It's a weird age, this twenty-second year of life. I still don't know what I'm doing. Sometimes I pretend like I do and other times I embrace with welcoming arms my lack of life experience. Here's a fun list of 22 things I've learned thus far in life (in no particular order). Happy birthday to meeeee!

22 Years! 22 Lessons, Pieces of Advice, and Thoughts

1. There IS a difference between baking soda and baking powder and YES I spent roughly a week of this 22nd year of mine researching that difference so that my cookies will both crunch and chew, so that my pancakes and waffles will fluff, so that my cakes will rise and bind. Discovering this difference and seeing it in action (via several rounds of recipe testing) was pretty friggin' satisfying. 

2. I have feelings! For years, I held my emotions under tight control and I still don't know why exactly, but now that I've let go of that, I just f e e l a lot more. I mean everything from "MAN this donut tastes good" to "ohmyword I hate my period I hate my period I hate my period" to "you guys are the absolute best friends I've ever had and I'm way beyond any describable form of happiness but also terrified for the day when you're no longer my roommates" to "dear Jesus, I think I love this boy, so please help me because I could completely utterly mess this up if I have full control" and everything else in between. 

3. Cast-iron skillets are gifts from above. If you're doubtful or confused, get one and use it whenever possible and you'll understand. 

22 Years! 22 Lessons, Pieces of Advice, and Thoughts

4. I have a capacity to love and to be loved so wide and so deep that it sometimes scares the bajeebers out of me. I crave intimacy - sometimes romantic, but not always - and authenticity and quality time and meaningful touch. I want to bring light and joy and radiance, to support and encourage and uplift. And I want to give those just as much as I want to receive them. 

5. Wine is a beautiful liquid (does that word make you uncomfortable? if so, liquid.) resulting from fermentation which is basically organic chemistry and I took an organic chemistry class that I both loved + hated and I love wine (I don't hate it). Rosè is the shiz. No questions asked. 

6.  Scary movies are actually quite enjoyable, if you ask me and if you play the right ones that don't involve flesh-hacking and copious amounts of blood. Let yourself laugh when adrenaline kicks in as the music picks up speed and you know something is about to go down. Try it - this could change your movie-watching experience forever. 

7.  Farmers markets and the farmers themselves deserve all the attention and love and support we can possibly give them. The power of local food is just above and beyond. 

22 Years! 22 Lessons, Pieces of Advice, and Thoughts

8. Your career isn't over just because those recipe photos didn't turn out. Shut up. Put your camera away for the day. Wait until you find better lighting, and move on. It's not that big of a deal. 

9. Family. The single most important thing in this life (to me, at least). Words cannot do it justice. Blessing is the under-est of all understatements. To my family, I couldn't love more! 

10. Food - be it a cheeseburger, a kale salad, a cupcake, a jar of peanut butter, a bowl of Dad's post-holiday ham mac n' cheese (stupidly good), an ice cream cone, or a plate of veggies and hummus - is not worth your stress, is not more important than your friends or family, is not the end-all, be-all, is not the single most significant determinant of your health. It does not have power you. It does not deserve all your brain-power everyday just to stay within x-amount of calories or macronutrients. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE. 

11. That being said, it's okay - it's admirable, even - to choose foods that honor your own wellbeing and physical comfort. It's okay to opt for the salad and/or a slice of veggie pizza if the pepperoni doesn't feel good or sound good. It's okay to ask for a whole-wheat bun because you want those nutrients, to make cookies with almond flour and coconut sugar because the traditional ones aren't always a smart snack, to love smoothies with spinach and protein powder for breakfast, to not get a donut at midnight just because your friends are doing it and maybe you want to sleep well and wake up early so a donut isn't the best bedtime snack. It's admirable to prioritize nutrition in ways that don't hinder your enjoyment of life.  

22 Years! 22 Lessons, Pieces of Advice, and Thoughts

12. This one is for Dad - breakfast is the best meal of the day, and bacon makes it even better (if possible). Oh, and vegan bacon doesn't count. 

13. I'm stuck somewhere between a coffee-shopping, book-reading, blog-writing introvert and a Friday-night-dancing, laughter-loving, people-craving extrovert. What a weird place to be in. When I'm caught in the middle and can't decide towards which side I should lean, I usually find myself nestled in Barnes and Noble in downtown SLO on a Friday night, browsing cookbooks and love stories. It's a happy-medium. :) 

14. You can learn quite a bit about someone's mood and/or personality based on their choice of donut. After just six months working at a college-town's favorite donut shop, I like to think I know these things. If you and I ever go get donuts together, just know that I'm analyzing your decision. :) 

15. This one is for Mom - hand-written notes, whether for birthdays or anniversaries or graduations or really just any type of day, are extraordinary forms of expressing love. 

16. Print out your photos and frame them. Do it. 

17. Your heart will break at some point. Maybe more than once and maybe just once. It'll hurt like hell and you'll cry, so get yourself a box or six of tissues and at least one or two people who love you dearly.Know that it is temporary. Trust that you will be strengthened into a human more resilient than you were before. Smile. Love who you are and cherish your heart. 

18. Never underestimate the power of laughter. Never underestimate a black bean brownie. Never underestimate a night out with best friends. Never underestimate the beauty of a beach sunset. 

22 Years! 22 Lessons, Pieces of Advice, and Thoughts

19. Food-blogging is not what I thought it would be, and I don't really know if I remember exactly what I thought it would be, but this isn't really it. That being said, I love this - whatever it is - and I'm still here, so something must be going right... or at least right enough. I hesitate to call this a food-blog (especially recently because the last recipe I posted came out over a month ago) mostly because just about everything I've learned in the last four years of life has taught me that life is s o O o O o O o O much more than just food. Life is sunsets and coffee dates and good books and belly-aching laughter and birds chirping on Sunday mornings and grandparents and even more than all of that, too. Those are just a few of the best parts. Point is: life's more than food and so is this blog. 

20. God is somewhere. I'm still figuring out where. I'm confused, more often than not, but faith is a work in progress (or something like that). 

21. Stress can be physically damaging, so try not to stress. But don't stress about stressing/not being able to relieve stress because that's worse. Just take a deep breath. Cry, if you need to. Do whatever you need to. Call a friend. Take a walk. Step outside. Run. Scream. Smile (even if it's forced). Eat a cookie. Bake cookies for a loved one. 

22. Find yourself, and when you do, love her (or him, but I think most of your are women). Hug her and remind her that she is more than just pretty eyes and a bright smile. Encourage her and speak kindly to her. Give her rest and get her excited. Let her feel fear and pain and disappointment, but not for too long and not without learning from those emotional experiences. Take care of her and strengthen her everyday. Remember that she is truly all yours, that she is creative and intelligent and stunning and funny and worth it all. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen2 Comments

1. My brain is anything and everything but organized right now. Study for midterms! Prepare for finals (because here at Cal Poly, we like to continue taking midterms the week before final exams :) )! Keep your room clean! Go grocery shopping! Brainstorm some recipes and blog posts! Respond to emails! Don't forget to study! Call this or that person to catch up! Apply for summer jobs! Oh, and make sure you're spending quality time with friends because this is your last month living with your best friends ever! Ahhhh. That's why I've had such trouble coming up with a blog post - when I finally do think of an interesting topic, if I don't throw out all my thoughts onto paper immediately, it'll escape me within minutes. It's not a case of short-term memory loss, just a case of an overwhelmed Haley :) that is all. Moving on. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

2. A day without moving my body is not one I enjoy. I'm a person who feels tired by 10 AM if I haven't gotten up off the couch for at least 10 or 15 minutes to get my heart rate up - be it a workout at the gym, a bike ride to the beach, or just a light walk through some cute neighborhoods. Feeling tired could be telling me I need more sleep (which I do), but I also think that's just how my body works. I like to move it, move it! I'm so funny.

Trusting myself with movement that doesn't push my body beyond its limits has been quite the process. I've found that the workouts I prefer aren't longer than 45-60 minutes, elevate my heart rate and keep it there for the majority of the workout, and engage various muscle groups at the same time. Yoga? Not my thing. Running? I kind of still wish I could, but at the same time, I kind of think letting it go (even though that involved some gnarly knee pain) was a blessing in disguise. Barre? Sometimes. Most of the time, I spend my mornings in the gym doing HIIT, light weight-training, or a spin class. The other days, I get outside to go for a walk or a bike ride. That, my friends, is the routine that's working for me and I love it. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

3. Most of my weekends consist of some studying - thank goodness I don't need to spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday buried in textbooks like I did last quarter - and lots of time with friends. The majority of my closest friends are graduating and going back home in the next couple of months, so I'm trying my hardest to soak up moments with them because I know life here will never be the way it is now. Okay, stop - I'm getting emotional. Anyway, we love food and we have so much fun trying new things together, whether cooking at home or going out to eat. I can vividly remember a time when choosing restaurants centered around making sure "healthy" vegan options were available. It's okay to be vegan and it's okay to look for nutritious items on the menu, but (in my opinion) those shouldn't take priority over enjoying time with loved ones. Sometimes, we get burgers and zucchini fries from our favorite little shack and we can't shut up about how good they are and yes, sometimes my stomach ends up a little funky later. Sometimes, we order nachos and the plate is huge and yes, it's tortilla chips + cheese + pork and I don't know anyone who says those foods make them feel their best. BUT my heart is full and I'm smiling because the burger or nachos or whatever it may be tasted good in the moment and I enjoyed that alongside my best friends. The friends are more important than the food. Some of our most cherished memories together are at a table with delicious food (and maybe a glass of wine, if we feel like being fancy) and I wouldn't trade those for anything in the world. 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

4. I don't journal regularly or meditate or practice yoga or go for a peaceful walk around the neighborhood each morning. If I could make the time required of those, I would pick journaling and walking, but even that's pushing it. I do love early mornings - my alarm wakes me up sometime around 5 AM roughly six out of seven days a week. Get up out of bed, pee, fumble around in the dark for my journal and/or any books I want to read, and walk quietly downstairs to make some coffee. Make said coffee, curl up on the couch with a blanket, and either a) write some intentions for the day or b) just write to sort through my thoughts. If I don't feel like journaling and have the time to read a non-school-related book, you bet I will for as long as I can (currently halfway through Intuitive Eating). If I absolutely must, I'll open a textbook for school and review for 20-30 minutes before I get ready for the gym. I used to hate the idea of beginning my day reading for school, but I've come to find that just 20-30 minutes in the morning (like I said, if those are absolutely necessary or if I have a test/quiz that day or something) eases a lot of potential stress that could otherwise hit me later on in the day. So, no, I don't want to begin my day reading about the anatomy of the lungs (or of the male reproductive system, which has been the topic lately) and partial pressure of oxygen, but I do want to strive for good grades and low stress levels and sometimes, you gotta' do what you gotta' do. 

5. Desire to scroll through Instagram and motivation to create recipes is nowhere to be found right now. I don't know where they went, and I haven't really looked very hard to find them again. This is the most "go-with-the-flow" I think I've ever been and I really like this newfound side of me. I like sharing more about my life here. I like - no, LOVE - writing about whatever comes to mind as well as topics that seem most relevant and interesting right now in this realm of nutrition and food and wellness. What my plans are now, I cannot tell ya'. Three months ago, I saw myself blogging at double-time this quarter since my class-load is much lighter than it was before. I saw myself posting something on Instagram daily and on the blog at least bi-weekly. But, here I am, posting whatever whenever I feel like it, looking for summer jobs, spending time that I could use to plan and develop recipes and email back and forth with companies with friends or just with myself instead. This shift makes me a liiiiiittle bit nervous because I kind of feel like someone pulled the rug out from under me - only in the best possible way because I've definitely landed on something, I just don't know what it is or where it's going... yet. :) 

5 Things (Workouts, Friends and Food, Morning Reading, Blogging)

Understanding and Appreciating

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen2 Comments

Last night, a friend told me to be more selfish sometimes and I guess I really have needed to hear that and actually do it. Running this blog on my own (which is not meant to sound boastful) feels pretty selfish sometimes - I write about my life, I create recipes from my own kitchen, and aside from my partner in the cookbook project and the companies I occasionally partner with, I'm the one doing all of what you see here. But, rarely am I the sole topic of my thoughts. I'm thinking of what others would want to see. I'm thinking of what kind of and how many posts need to go out in the next two weeks. I'm thinking of local companies I want to work with and highlight here. And the list goes on, but all of this is to say that this morning I took time to be selfish and sort through a couple of the million thoughts running through my mind this week (so, being selfish in what feels like a productive way?), which brings us here.

I walked out the door to a big gray sky, the sun attempting to peek out from behind a few clouds on one side, and a faint but noticeable-enough rainbow on the other. That rainbow got me thinking about the things - the many things - I don't understand. Like, how does a rainbow form? I know it comes about when the sun shines after a period of rainfall, but actually how does it happen? I don't know, and I bet Google would tell me, but I don't think I want it to. There's something to be said about the mystery of rainbows, and that mysteriousness is what allows us to appreciate them that much more. 

THOUGHTS: Understanding and Appreciating

Another example (and a personal favorite): chewy chocolate chip cookies. The combination of sugar, butter or oil, egg, flour, and baking soda is what yields that crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture, but how? I've taken five chemistry classes and none of them have explained this phenomenon. Then again, none of those classes had much to do with food, which is a whole 'nother class and at this point, I highly doubt you could pay me enough to add four more units of science to my schedule. And that's fine - maybe I don't need and don't want to know exactly what happens during the 12 minutes the cookies spend heating up in that oven because I would hate for that to diminish any of the joy I've found in biting into a warm chocolate-chip-studded cookie. The same goes for fluffy, hearty loaves of whole-grain bread - I don't know if I'll ever be able to master one on my own. Have you ever tried? Good Lord. Mine came out looking and tasting like a football. To the bakers who have mastered the art (it really is an art) of whole-grain bread-making, I salute you. I don't understand how you do it, and I appreciate you all the more because of that.

But, what about the things we don't understand that aren't so easy to appreciate? 

 I appreciate early mornings, but mornings with anatomy? ehh. 

I appreciate early mornings, but mornings with anatomy? ehh. 

What about the job opportunity you seem precisely cut out for that had the potential to bring profound success and then is given to someone else. What about the C (or maybe D) you see written in red ink at the top of an exam you spent weeks studying for and, for once, felt confident in your knowledge of the topic. What about being in the midst of wrestling through a however-many-years-long broken relationship with food and body image that takes more work than you'll ever feel prepared for, that you didn't even ask for (who would??). What about the relationship that just feels like... like an indescribable jumble of joy and this-has-got-to-be-right feelings that, for whatever the reason(s), can't work out right now.  

Raise your hand if you understand those. Raise your hand if you've ever experienced one or something similar. If you're hand went up on the second question, mine did, too, and if you asked me if I have gained an understanding now because I'm writing this post, the answer is "no". But I think I can help. 

Appreciating a chocolate chip cookie and a rainbow and a sunset and whatever else falls into that category feels easy because these things bring joy and awe and those help distract us from our inability to understand. On the other hand, appreciating a missed job opportunity, a failed test, a broken relationship with oneself, and a relationship that just won't work feels difficult because... well, where's the joy in those? We seek answers to the questions we have about these situations and when we can't find them, we're left in the unknown and that can be terrifying. "Can be"? IS. 

THOUGHTS: Understanding and Appreciating

In that unknown is where you might not find the answer you'd hoped for, but continued pursuit of joy and some necessary selfishness can open your eyes to an answer even better than what you'd imagined. Purpose, newfound or simply remembered. Clarity. Self-love. Passions. Likes and dislikes. Relationships already flourishing, and those in need of some TLC. 

My walk began with a rainbow and ended with more rain. Weird - aren't thing supposed to happen the other way around? Come to think of it, in terms of my own emotions, this whole week has felt a little rainy, so some sunshine this morning would've been much appreciated. But, as I took my last couple steps around the block - hair, jacket, leggings soaked from what originally seemed like it might just be light sprinkle - I realized that I had smiled because of it. I didn't complain about feeling soggy and I didn't turn around when I felt droplets on my forehead. An hour later, I felt a smile spread across my face and though I still don't understand why I'm struggling to find a job and why this relationship won't work and why I can't ace my exams and blahblahblah and though I don't appreciate the mystery of those challenges (yet), I'm smiling. 

I'm still me. I'm still functioning. I'm still walking and laughing and thinking and blogging and living. And maybe that's the answer I didn't even know I wanted/needed all along. 

THOUGHTS: Understanding and Appreciating

Recent Eats

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen1 Comment

What would I do with this blog if I didn't like to eat as much as I do? That question might be silly because 1) I do love to eat and I hope that never goes away, and 2) this blog wouldn't exist in the first place if I didn't enjoy eating. Just a thought. I don't know. Moving on! Here's a big - but fun, and worth the read! - compilation of most of the blog-worthy, inspiring things I've tasted in the last month-ish. Bon appetit!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

A turkey burger on a whole-wheat bun from Sylvester's Burgers in Los Osos is probably one of the foods I'll almost crave. It's huge and the zucchini fries are an absolute must, so I like to let myself get hungrier than usual so I can enjoy it all because who takes a couple bites of a burger home? Maybe you, but not me. Oh, and all of it tastes much better when eaten in good company! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

A random snack plate from a day during finals week last quarter when I knew I needed food but didn't know what I wanted. Some fresh veggies and hummus, Rumiano white cheddar cheese (spendy, but tasty), and a handful of Hippeas sounded pretty good. Easy and satisfying!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Homemade whole-wheat pizzas (Trader Joe's dough)  with Mom and Dad when I was at home for spring break, and when they still lived in SoCal (they've moved back to Minnesota now, if you missed that post). If burgers are the first food I'll almost always crave, pizza is a close second. Good news is both of those foods allow for plenty of veggies, proteins, carbs, and fats! Wow, what a balanced life. 

2018-04-14 17.53.33.jpg
THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Dinner and my go-to beverage with Jeannette when I drove up to NorCal to visit her for a weekend. We made turkey meatballs, zucchini meatballs with an avocado pesto sauce, and whole-grain toast with hummus and Healthade to drink. Of course, we wanted to save room for dessert - then ate it too quickly to take pictures of it - which was my cherry garcia cookie skillet. Yummaaaa. Love and miss you, Jeannette!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

To-go lunch packed for one of my long days on campus. I've been all about pasta salad lately (I can't remember the last time I had anything on hand that wasn't Banza pasta - by far my favorite!), so I make a huge batch each week and scoop some out when I'm packing lunch for the day. This one is my pesto pasta salad recipe, but I've also used hummus, Tessemae's dressing, and Primal Kitchen dressing, too. Plenty of options!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Mmmm, my favorite weekday breakfast as of late - a big green smoothie made of frozen banana, frozen zucchini, spinach, avocado, Ka'Chava Tribe Chocolate protein, some cacao powder for extra chocolateyness, and a juicy date for extra sweetness, aaaaaand all of it topped with some of the best packaged granola I've had, Gr8nola (thanks Erica!). Smoothies are usually the easiest, tastiest, and fastest way for my muscles to get the nutrients they need in the morning after I workout and before I leave for class. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Pizza! Again! This one is from Blast 825 Taproom - they offer $5 pizzas for students on Tuesday nights. It's a tough decision between $5 pizza and taco Tuesday, but pizza wins more often than not when I don't feel like cooking/want something I rarely or never make at home for myself. My favorite is barbecue sauce + grilled chicken + veggies + light mozzarella + goat cheese and red pepper flakes and basil on top. Damn good, my friends. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

An unplanned dinner out with a couple friends at a local Mediterranean restaurant (Petra, for those of you in SLO). Everyone has been telling me to try this place, and since I love Mediterranean food, I was certainly excited! Did it "wow" me? No. But was it still enjoyable? Yes, mostly because I, again, had good company :) I ordered the grilled chicken shawarma with pita (I think it's made in house and it's deeeeelicious) and we all dipped everything we could in as many dips as possible before looking weird.  

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

OKAY. This was incredibly simple and even more incredibly tasty. I combined the last of my tempeh skillet leftovers with some roasted Japanese sweet potatoes and some mixed greens on the side, all of it topped with feta, and promised myself I'd make this more often. MMMM. Love me some plants. And sweet potatoes (which are plants, I realize that, but they deserve their own sentence fragment). 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

An assortment of snacks and wine for a friend's birthday picnic! You can't see the sunset in this picture, and this post isn't about the sunset, but - my, oh myyyyy was it beautiful. Anyway, we LOVE cheese and crackers and other snacks one would think of with wine, so we went all out tonight. No holding back, especially on a birthday! Brie, Gouda, cheddar, hummus and sliced carrots and cucumbers, grapes and berries, crackers and crackers and more crackers, plus bacon-wrapped dates (did you hear that? bacon. wrapped. dates.). Oh, and sangria and a couple other whites and reds. Lots of laughter, too. Like, even more laughter than cheese (that's a lot).  

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Cookbook cookies! If you're unaware, I'm teaming up with a friend/fellow Cal Poly student to write a cookbook (technically an ebook, but potAYto, potAHto, ya' know?). Every week, she and I meet up for an all-day cooking, baking, and photographing session. It's an absolute blast. I couldn't imagine trying to do this on my own - not only would it be physically challenging, but emotionally/mentally challenging as well. Having a partner in this project is a blessing! Oh, and these are salted chocolate chunk tahini cookies - the recipe will be in the book, so get excited!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Another version of my favorite smoothie, but this time sans granola (because sometimes it fills me up beyond comfortable-full) and in a measuring cup (because it was laying around from when I made coffee earlier and wasn't technically "dirty", soooo... yeah). I added double the cacao powder compared to the recipe earlier in this post and have been doing so ever since. Extra chocolate flavor is as much of a "must" as brushing your teeth everyday. Not an exaggeration. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Oh. My. Word. This was what dreams are made of. Grace and I treated ourselves to a fancy Sunday brunch at Lido, which is a restaurant inside one of the resorts in Shell Beach. A friend of mine works there and always talks about how good the food is - and he mentioned mimosas, so Grace was in immediately, with or without the good food. She and I split a scrambled egg dish and asked for sweet potato fries on the side instead of the home fries, and a half-order of the french toast. And it was sunny and 75. And the service was fantastic and so were the mimosas. And the view was perfect. We'll be back. :) 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

My snack bag for long days on campus consists of a lunch, which is almost always some sort of salad, and plenty of snacks - fruit, a granola/protein bar, veggies, maybe some popcorn or chips, and one of these PaleoValley turkey or beef sticks. I can't decide whether I like turkey or beef more, but I do know I'm definitely a fan of both. Plus, they're pasture-raised and grass-fed!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #3

Last but never the least, here's another snack-bag favorite. When I don't have time during the week to make these protein bites, RX Bars have my back. Some of the flavors are a bit too chewy for me, but the I've found this flavor and the dark chocolate to be just about perfect. And I like that egg whites are the protein source - it gives my diet that much more variety, since I already include protein powder in my smoothies a few times a week. RX Bars, y'all rock my snack-loving socks off. Keep it up. 

So, there you have it - another round-up of eats. I hope you like reading these because I like eating all the food and writing about it! 

HungryHaley Cookbook (!!!)

Haley Hansen1 Comment
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Yes. Yes. Yes. A cookbook is on its way! So far, I'be cried somewhere between 2-4 times in the last 3 weeks since my friend, Holland - the designer and editor of the book - began actually making the recipes and shooting pictures. A dream come true is as much of an understatement as "sweet potatoes are pretty good." 

 

As of right now, this will be an online book available for purchase on my website, an "ebook". I wish wish wish printing were feasible, but unless you want to pay double (or maybe triple? I don't even know) the price we're thinking right now, the online version is the deal. And hey, most of us these days do most things online anyway, right?  

 

Just like this being a dream come true is an understatement, calling it a cookbook doesn't really cover all it's bases. Yes, of course there will recipes inside - maybe some chocolate chip tahini cookies, some fried egg tostadas with a dollop of avocado "cream", and many more. Aside from just food, we're including lots of thoughts and words about overcoming a broken relationship with food and exercise, and the richness of food and community. 

 

I hope this makes sense - my journey with food has involved so much more than just food. And that's why this cookbook is what it is - recipes intertwined, enlivened, given meaning and "umph" with actual words. 

 

HungryHaley turns 4 years old in just a few months, yet this still feels like the beginning. It still excites me, challenges me, and pulls me along in my passions. As you may or may not know, I'm studying nutrition in school right now, but I don't plan to pursue further education or an RD credential for some reasons I explained here. I have not a clue what the next couple years will look like after college, or how in the world I'll find the resources needed to make all my dreams come true. Is that scary? I might be more scared now, as I prepare to finish school (March 2019), than I was when I began (September 2014). Thankfully, there's no need to worry about making up my own plan because I know the best one is already created for me. 

 

This was just supposed to be a cookbook announcement, and here I am, getting all deep and emotional. Sorrryyyyyy. One last thing before I go, if anyone has any recommendations, suggestions, resources that would be of potential interest in getting this published and/or sold in local stores here on the Central Coast, send them my way & I'll send some cookies your way! 

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Again, thanks for reading! Thanks for supporting! Thanks for being you! See ya' soon for a nice long, juicy Recent Eats post!  

A Weekend in Minnesota (new home away from home!)

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen1 Comment

As the quarter dwindles to an end and assignments simultaneously pile up, I have less and less time and energy for creating recipes. I've also taken a break - kind of, but not really - from Instagram and I've been feeling like writing more lifestyle posts. A blogger who seems like just a blogger is not who I want to be, so my hope is that these posts let you into my life because I love it when my favorite bloggers do so for me. 

Okay, so about this whole Minnesota-thing. My parents moved! Our house in SoCal just wasn’t doing it for them anymore, and with both my brother and I out of the house + the majority of our family in MN/WI + the high cost of living in CA, a move back home(ish) made sense for them. They’ve officially been in the new house for a week and I was more than happy to be on the welcoming committee! Actually, can I be on the welcoming committee if I don’t live in the state into which one is welcomed? Minor detail.

Funny story about my flight out there on Friday – I must’ve gotten things confused because I assumed my flight left from SLO at 4 PM, which would leave me plenty of time on Friday for a workout, breakfast with friends, packing, and spending a couple hours on campus for PHE (from here on out, I’m going to refer to my volunteer position at Cal Poly Health and Wellbeing as “PHE” which stands for Peer Health Educator – if you have further questions about my role, I’m happy to answer them!). This assumption also justified my laziness on Thursday night and gave me time to hang with a friend. When I finally went to bed on Friday night at midnight, I decided now would be a good time to double-check my flight info. HA. Haley, please don’t assume things. Your flight leaves from SLO at noon. Cancel all plans tomorrow. Nice one. Hey, at least I checked!

Back to the weekend. I met the cuuuuuutest little old man on my flight out and I wished I could’ve brought him everywhere with me, but I digress. I have a weird thing with flying – it stresses the shizz out of me, but it also excites me unlike anything else. Both the takeoff and landing in a plane usually make me cry, and no I’m not kidding or being dramatic. There’s just something sorta-kinda magical about feeling the vibration of the fuselage (fancy plane term for “body of the plane”, aka the place all the humans sit) as I watch the ground fall lower and lower beneath me, or as I watch the ground bring itself closer to the wheels of the plane during landing, anticipating the calming “boom” of touchdown. Doesn’t really get old.

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Oh, and because I’m sure you’re just dying to know what I ate, here’s a picture. I came more prepared with food for this flight than I did with shoes for my actual trip – an accurate depiction of me. Some fresh carrots and a couple soft-boiled eggs, a little hummus, a bag of Hippeas, roasted sweet potato wedges (the star of the show, always and forever), PaleoValley snacks (like a grass-fed version of my favorite childhood snack), and RX bars.

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I worked on an assignment for my Nutrition Counseling class during the flight, then convinced myself I’d done enough work and picked up where I left off in Intuitive Eating. I’m reading the book and completing the corresponding activities for each chapter in the workbook and I absolutely love it. A copy of each were my gifts to Mom for her special day!

My parents picked me up from the airport at around 8:30 PM and it was rather strange, as all of my arrivals home thus far have been me pulling into the driveway and just walking in through the front door. But, this is the new norm and we will all get used to it with time. By 10 PM I was in bed, barely able to keep my eyes open, even though it was only 8 PM on CA-time. But hey, when this body is tired, this. body. is. tired. I crawled into my bed in my own room – already set up for me by my blessed mother and father – and hit the lights, feeling thankful and peaceful.

Saturday began at around the same time most other days do – right when the sun comes up – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Like, come on, LOOK at that sunrise. The living room and kitchen both have plenty of windows, so that makes for bright mornings and, as I said before, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t see myself living in MN, but if one thing (besides family) were to convince me of staying, it would be a Saturday morning in my parents’ living room with the sun beaming in, a hot cup of coffee in my hand, and my family next to me. Perfect is an understatement.

Mom and I worked out in the basement, which is soon to become an upgraded at-home gym, even though it’s pretty dang good as it is now. All I need for 4/5 of my go-to workouts is a set of light weights and a mat, and we’ve had those at home for as long as I can remember. If you’re curious about my workouts, I’ve got plenty of my favorite moves highlighted on my Instagram stories and I also send out a weekly email that details out one of my workouts from the previous week. Subscribe!

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I finished a quick 30 minutes of some bodyweight HIIT moves and then explored around in the fridge for something that sounded good. Traveling, especially when a time-change is involved, throws my stomach off a bit so nothing sounded fantastic, but I knew we'd be out of the house for a few hours and I wanted to give my muscles some post-workout fuel. Suddenly, a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter and sliced strawberries sounded like a winner. One thing I’ve been working on with Intuitive Eating is practicing eating without distractions – no computer, no phone, no magazines (those are the main distractions for me). This might stress me out sometimes when I feel the urgent need to respond to an email or look over a lesson plan for a class, but it also feels really good to be able to just eat, to taste and enjoy what I’m eating. It’s a simple, pleasurable act that can get easily get lost in the midst of life’s to-do lists.

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My parents and I hung at home with family for the rest of the night. Snacks, wine, and lots of story-telling and laughter are a given in our family whenever we all get together – not bad things at all. People have been asking why my parents suddenly decided to move back to MN, and I tell them it’s for a couple reasons, but the main one stood out tonight. Family. Family, family, family. Incredibly important to us.

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Snacks were sliced veggies, hummus, salsa, crackers and chips, chicken wings (it had been over years since my last chicken wing… just sayin’), and wine. The main event – pizza! These two huge pies came from a place most of my family absolutely adores, called Papa Murphy’s, and while I’m usually a thick-crust-lover, these were some of the best slices of pizza I’ve had. Papa Murphy, you’ve done a dang good job! The Hansen family is one of your biggest fans.

By 9 PM-ish, mostly everyone had left and I realized that I’d made it a whole 24 hours – twenty-four hours – without touching my homework. I patted myself on the back for a second and then grabbed my laptop to work on some assignments. Balance. As much as I would’ve loved to lounge on the couch and listen to my family tell more belly-ache-laughter-inducing stories, my reality right now is week 7 out of 10 this quarter and multiple projects and exams coming full-speed ahead. I did future-Haley a big favor by finishing an essay and making a little more progress on my Nutrition Counseling assignment. An hour later, bedtime.

I love going to bed because I love sleeping, but I think I really love it – like really really love it – because closing my eyes at the conclusion of one day means opening them for the introduction of another is just hours away. Read: another beautiful sunrise and another cup of hot coffee. Mmmm, makes me giddy just thinking about it.

Mom woke up early with me Sunday morning and we chatted, ooh’ing and ahhh’ing at the blue and purple and orange and pink and yellow sunrise, and I gave her my gift for Mother’s Day – she knew it was coming, but was still stoked to open it up. I’ve been raving to her about Intuitive Eating and we’ve talked a ton about creating a healthy relationship with food, so I’m really excited, too, to have someone as close to me as my mom with whom I can talk about all of this. She feels more like a sister than a mom sometimes. Most of the time, actually.

We both went down to the basement/at-home gym for 20-30 minutes of light yoga. By then, my tummy was ready for food, so I cleaned up and helped dad cook bacon and scrambled eggs, along with some fruit and whole-wheat tortillas for breakfast. Dad and I adore breakfast, and each other, so spending time together in the kitchen cooking one of our favorite meals is, like, better than the best breakfast you could ever imagine.

A Weekend in Minnesota (new home away from home!)

The rest of the morning we spent at church with my grandparents, and then drove to their place to hang out for a little while. OH, and cinnamon rolls (which tasted and smelled much better than they looked) from a bake sale at church were involved. My goodness. I think I should gauge a potential husband based on how he takes my breath away compared to how a cinnamon roll takes my breath away. Seems like a fair scale.

Some thoughts while I sunk my fork into this swirl of warm, gooey, caramelly chunk of future-husband-comparison-scale deliciousness: Was I actually hungry to eat it? No. Breakfast kept me full and satisfied. But did the rolls smell good/look good/sound good? Did the idea of sitting around the dining room with some of the most cherished people in my life, a few of whom I rarely ever have the chance to spend time with in person, while sharing in the pleasure of said cinnamon roll sound more appealing to me than waiting until I was actually hungry to eat a “sensible” lunch (i.e. a salad, sandwich, etc.)? Yes. A million and four times YES. There are parts of Intuitive Eating I had no idea existed, but I’m so thankful they do. I read a blog post from Rachel Hartley a week ago that talked about eating even when you aren't biologically hungry or really craving a certain food, but still eating it because the moment just kind of calls for it. I can't find the exact post, but scroll through her archives and I'm sure you'll find something worth reading! And/or you can read what I wrote about the topic a while ago. This realization that food is more than just fuel/calories has helped me immensely in finding peace with food. 

My grandparents are two strong, determined, and always loving and welcoming individuals. They make us laugh, they show us unconditional love, and they remind us of the importance of family. I know they don’t use a computer regularly (or ever…?), but hey Grandma and Grandpa, I love you guys to pieces.

For the remainder of the day, we drove around the town my parents now live in – it’s right on the St. Croix River, and with the sun shining today, everything felt so right. I couldn’t be happier for them :) we came back home, lounged outside and soaked up our vitamin D before I packed up for my flight home.

And that brings me here! I’m on the plane, typing, reflecting, smiling, looking out the window at the view of a state which I cannot identify as the plane hovers some 36,000 above. I’m so happy on this blog and incredibly thankful for the last 3 2/3 years since it was born. It’s like my child. As much as I love cooking and sharing recipes, I love writing. And as much as I love spending hours articulating my thoughts into a well-thought-out post, I love just letting my mind guide my fingers across this keyboard. So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and look forward to more of them! Thank you for reading, and more importantly, thank you for supporting my blog. I hope you love it half as much as I do :) 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

For starters, these are kolachkis - a Polish cookie made with cream cheese and jam, pretty much. The dough is delicate and creamy, and the jam is so sweet. We made them in one of my nutrition classes for an event on campus - over 1,200 cookies made! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

This is what breakfast usually looks like - waffles are rare, but when they do happen, mmmmm. I think I used a Bob's Red Mill whole-grain mix here and added in some chocolate chips, and ate it with some Greek yogurt (this is my favorite) and sliced banana for a post-workout/pre-long-day-of-classes breakfast! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

This... this was good. A bowl of roasted spaghetti squash mixed with marinara sauce and chicken, topped with steamed kale, goat cheese, and cilantro (pretty much the only herb I regularly have in my fridge). Spaghetti seems to be one of those stereotypical college meals - easy to throw together, inexpensive, etc., yet it's one that rarely hits my plate. That just might have to change after a bowl like this. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

One of my favorite lunches, not only for the taste (and nutrition, duh) but also for the eeeeeease of preparation. Those are beet and black bean burgers made with ground Hippeas instead of flour because I'm so resourceful like that over a bed of mixed greens, and alongside some chopped veggies and avocado. And yes, that is barbecue sauce as "dressing" - don't knock it 'til you try it. If I'm feeling hungry, I'll add a hard-boiled egg or two. Protein!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

More spaghetti squash because those things are pretty much never-ending sometimes (or so it seems). Here, I made a small dinner of spaghetti squash with a serving of my Sheet-Pan Chicken, Chickpeas, and Veggies and topped it off with just a tiny bit - sense the sarcasm there? - of sharp white cheddar cheese. S O  G O O D. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

I'm on campus for somewhere around 8-10 hours on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I make darn sure to bring pllllllenty of food. Snacks are good, but I don't usually feel satisfied (especially on long days) off of crackers and fruits and nuts and whatever else I consider a snack food, which is why I pack actual substantial meals like these. For lunch, I threw together a couple items from Hungry Root - cooked quinoa, sauteed brussel sprouts, lemongrass tofu, and some Thai peanut sauce with greens. For dinner, I roasted a hefty white sweet potato (so much better than the orange one) with a Bilinski chicken sausage, steamed some kale, and packed it all up with a little hummus. Easily one of my favorite weeknight meals. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Aaaaand for another weeknight favorite - pulled pork sandwiches! For real though, I could not stop thinking about pulled pork for like a week until this. My friends probably went with me just to shut me up. These are from Old San Luis BBQ and are, by a long-shot, the only sandwich that can make my mouth water when I'm in anatomy lab staring at muscles on a cadaver. We all had a pulled pork sandwich and then split some sweet potato and regular fries. The thought of all of this is now making my mouth water, so let's move on. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Ahh, vino. Call me cheap, but I LOVE this Charles Shaw white zinfandel. Apparently, it's known as "two-buck Chuck" in the wonderful land of Trader Joe's. Whatever. It's friggin' good and I'm not in the position to drop $12 on a bottle of wine. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Are you as tired of seeing my roasted sweet potatoes as you are of hearing about classes? I hope you aren't tired yet of either. My parents graciously gifted me with a Lodge Cast Iron skillet for Christmas, so take a guess at the vehicle in which I've been cooked e v e r y t h i n g lately. Don't ask me how it's done, but the skillet just makes sweet potato wedges so perfectly crispy-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside. Sometimes I eat just the potato if it's a big one or I'm not hungry enough for an entire meal, and other times I love it with chicken or eggs or whatever I have. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Round 1 of enchiladas! Success? Ehh. There's a first time for everything and this was most definitely and clearly my first time making my own enchiladas. With the veggies and the chicken all cooked, and all the other fix-ins laid out, I still found myself confuzzled about what to put in first, how to layer and roll, etc. Good thing enchiladas taste so dang good, otherwise I wouldn't be very motivated to try again. I'll have a recipe up here soon - perfection takes time, my friends. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

After four years of taking pictures of my food, one might think that stopping what I'm doing to snap a quick picture wouldn't feel awkward at all. One would be wrong, in that case - it's still awkward. Anyway, this is a snack plate from a friend's bridal shower! Eeeep I know a bride I know a bride I know a bride! We spent the day just hanging out and giggling and eating and sharing memories of little Phoebe back in her single days. Then I went home to study because... well, you know why. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Oh, and we drank mimosas! These aren't the best pre-study beverage, but I'd still recommend - balance, right?

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Remember those long days on campus I told you about? Those are when Perfect Bars feel like my best friend. My class schedule throws off what would normally be dinner time for me, so I end up eating something during what you might call "happy hour" on the weekend but is more like "stress hour" or "cram hour" before anatomy lecture. And because I want something sweet after dinner/something to munch on in class, I bring one of these. Favorite? Ummm... probably the Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter OR either of the new flavors. Worth every penny. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Coffee is so much more satisfying than tea, in my opinion, but when it's 3 PM and my wiser instincts remind me that coffee right now will keep me awake when I'd rather not be later tonight, I reach for tea usually in the form of kombucha. And when kombucha is too expensive or just doesn't sound fantastic, I reach for this! Tazo is my go-to and this bottle of iced tea was above and beyond any other iced tea I've had before - sweet, but not like juice or dessert in a bottle, you know? 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Speaking of dessert, I've been so into little bites of chocolate lately. My mom bought me a couple of these from Taza Chocolate and I think I found love at first bite. The texture is so unlike any other chocolate I've had - it's almost like you can feel like sugar granules, but yet the sweetness isn't overpowering. I can't describe it, so you should just try it.

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

The people around this table mean so much more to me than any food ever could. We all met at last year's Expo West and bonded unbelievably well, so a reunion this year was, like, a given. JJ, Alayna, Connie, Winnie, and a couple new faces - Jeannette and Kelly - and I shared a bunch of food from Sage Vegan Bistro in LA and left absolutely stuffed. Everything was delicious and I couldn't have asked for more! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

Less than an hour into my day at Expo West, I was already searching for a kombucha - a clear representation of how overwhelming and exhausting of a day was ahead of me. I met the people behind Humm Kombucha and could've easily just hung out with them for the rest of the day - hilarious, welcoming, genuine, and makers of some of the best kombucha I've tasted! I will certainly be stocking up on this stuff every week. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

The next morning, I dropped Jeannette and Kelly off at the airport before the sun was even up, so I packed a snack-ish breakfast  - banaynay and one of the best peanut butters everrrrrr. It wasn't the easiest to eat while driving, but I made it work. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats #2

And when I came home to a ten-feet-tall pile of homework and studying to tackle, I was beyond thankful for leftovers of the pasta dish I made just before I left for Expo - cashew tomato sauce with Banza chickpea shells (pretty much the only pasta I buy for myself) and sautéed red bell pepper, topped with fresh basil and some sharp white cheddar. Comfort food meets nutritious food meets college-friendly food.  

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Okay, last one I promise. Here's another stupidly easy weeknight dinner - roasted broccoli and red onion (season with whatever you like), baked chicken breast (thighs are still my preference), and whole-grain bread with herb cream cheese and some avocado. My weeknight dinners usually involve roasting because it allows me to toss everything in the oven for 40-ish minutes and leave it there while I squeeze in some time to study.