Hungry Haley

it's more than food

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. 

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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. 

Recent Eats

Life, HealthHaley Hansen2 Comments

Multiple reasons for this post: 

1) big plans for a cupcake recipe are being re-designed - recipe to come next week! 

2) big week of midterms and studying for next week's midterms is d r a i n i n g me. 

3) big folder of food pictures on my computer is filling up and I figured it would be fun to share recent eats that made me happy! 

A lot of these I share on my Instagram stories, so you may recognize them, but if you missed them, then YAY for you!

What could possibility be better to start with than the long-awaited, endlessly searched-for Pillsbury Christmas cutout sugar cookies?! I sincerely hope you followed Grace and me along on our tireless hunt for these - at the end of it all, we searched at least eight grocery stores and finally found victory at an Albertson's store in Southern California. Worth. Every. Minute. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

CHILAQUILES, bby. My closest friends and I spent a week-ish in Lake Tahoe in Northern CA and cooked breakfast and dinner almost everyday. 'Twas a beauuuutiful kitchen in my eyes, so I could've cooked every meal in there, but two of my friends cooked this breakfast for us all one morning and I must admit that I forgot how relaxing eating a meal someone else cooked for me feels. AND delicious, obviously. If you're wondering what these are, it's basically eggs scrambled with homemade corn tortilla chips, tomato sauce, and cheese and a side of homemade refried beans and Spanish rice. I am definitely not the only one in friend-group who can cook, and I could certainly learn a thing or two from these girls! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

This is a huuuge sandwich from a local deli in SLO - High Street Deli. Three and a half years into my time here and I finally tried this place that everyone (college students especially) rave about. It's a bit on the spendy side, but you definitely get what you pay for - based on size, I probably could've saved half for later, but sandwiches tend to get soggy and yucky the longer they sit in the fridge, so I know to come to this place hungry so that I can polish off every last bite!

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Please excuse the poor quality of this photo - night-time doesn't make for the best lighting or clarity. BUT NACHOS. Nachos. These are from a local bar/restaurant where my friends and I usually frequent for late-night two-for-one drinks. It was purely a drink location until we discovered this pile of cheesy, chippy pleasure. We topped them with pulled pork, and probably will from now one because wowowow is it good, but any meat is an option. Pair with a cider (which I thought was a beer until Michaela corrected me - oops) and you have a d e l i c i o u s meal. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

When I'm spending a full day at home, whether working on my computer, doing homework/studying, or just reading (very rare, but very cherished), something about the laziness of it all makes a big plate of roasted sweet potato wedges sound like just about the best thing in the world. I usually roast them in coconut oil or avocado oil because the fats can stand high heat. Depending on how hungry I am, I might have some eggs or turkey or chicken or whatever protein I can find to keep things balanced, ya' know? Oh, and for dipping, guac and/or hummus are my go-to's! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

Kombucha. It's an everyday thing. Don't ask my wallet about it (the prices on campus are i n s a n e), just trust. I usually sip on one in the afternoon - mostly for taste and bubbles and caffeine, but also for the probiotics because my tummy likes them. I LOVE GT's because the flavor never fails!

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

Winter break ended and school began more abruptly than ever with four tough classes filling my schedule, and on top of that, managing this blog thing and volunteering on campus for our health center (through an organization called PULSE). Thank the sweet Lord above for a collaboration with Hungry Root, who let me try a variety of their products - prepared salads, pre-cut veggies, marinated tofu, brownie and cookie batters, and more! This is a quinoa salad with artichokes and lemon and garlic and a bunch of other beautiful flavors. I'm not usually one to choose quinoa, but I decided to give it another chance - I added some kale and spaghetti squash, which you probably can't see. Overall, I'm a fan of quinoa again and an even bigger fan of Hungry Root

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

And this, my friends, is my current favorite burger spot - Sylvester's Burgers. If you're on the Central Coast, there a few locations throughout the SLO area that you MUST try. The menu itself is mouth-watering and the burgers are above and beyond. And they even offer vegan options, which I've tried and loved, too! Anyway, my friends and I were heading to a concert in our area and I remembered that a Sylvester's was nearby the concert venue, so I dubbed this place our dinner option and no one objected (great friends). I don't remember exactly what we all ordered, but the burgers and that basket of fried zucchini in the middle hit. the. spot. For those of you wondering, red meat doesn't really hurt my stomach. I rarely ever eat it, and when I do, it's not in huge amounts (except this occasion). I've also never dealt with many stomach issues, so there's that, making me not the best resource for maintaining gut health. But that's beside the point - burgers! Delicious! 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

Study snacks! My nose has been buried in my textbooks for the last month - I'm not complaining, though, because I really really (yes - really) enjoy most of the classes I'm taking. Finally, as I move farther along in school towards my degree, the classes focus more and more on areas in which I'm interested. Studying what I'm passionate and curious about makes the hardcore studying, lab hours, and long days on campus a bit easier. Anywho, I pack Perfect Bars for a snack almost every. single. day. Cannot stop, will not stop. Don't ask me what my favorite flavor is because I will not be able to answer. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

One more burger - sorry not sorry. This one is a turkey burger with gorgonzola, red onion, garlic mayo, and arugula on a whole-wheat bun from Natural Cafe (which I think is only in CA). My friend and I treated ourselves because 1) she had a BOGO coupon for this restaurant and 2) we both c r a v e d burgers that night, so we figured we'd give these a try! Satisfied, very much so. 

THOUGHTS: Recent Eats

Last but not least, feast your eyes on my first ever (or at least in as long as I can remember) batch of homemade - as in completely totally from scratch!!! - cupcakes! This is the recipe that led to this post because I'm being stubborn as a button with it. I want it as close to perfect as can be! Cupcakes aren't my usual dessert choice or recipe-for-the-blog choice or even procrasti-baking choice, for that matter. Something about the frosting and fluffiness feels fancier than what a typical weeknight dessert really asks for, so that's why I'm always stocked up on cookies or brownies instead, but d a n g these cupcakes have sparked in me such a love for the cute little treats and I can't wait for them to do the same for you when I finish the recipe! PS I made extra cream cheese frosting and kept it in a jar in the fridge and have shamelessly been scooping spoonfuls from it whenever my heart desires. It's the little things. It's the cream cheese frosting. 

I hope you found my recent eats as entertaining and delicious (well, vicariously so) as I did! Maybe these will become semi-regular posts, or maybe just plan-B posts for when plan-A fails. Let me know your thoughts! 

Reflections and Intentions

Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen3 Comments

Another 365 days in the books! Do I say that every year? Yes. Will I keep saying it? Yes. 2017 provided more challenges - mostly mental/emotional - for me than any recent year I can remember. At the same time, God graciously wove so so many blessings in, too. I'm talking about both here and what I've learned from each. My reflections are the challenges and the blessings, and my intentions are things I'm hoping to work on and improve this coming year. 

 the first sunset picture of the year - get ready for plenty more throughout this post hehehe.

the first sunset picture of the year - get ready for plenty more throughout this post hehehe.

REFLECTIONS:

1). body changes.
One of my first memories of 2017 was feeling like I had lost "control" of my body because it... well, grew. To say that my clothes tightened is a lighter way of saying that I gained weight. I didn't intend to. In fact, one of the reasons I cut my hair - 11 inches off, to be exact - was because I felt God asking me if I was relying on my longer hair (which people constantly complimented) to maintain confidence in my physical appearance. He said, "How would you feel if all that were gone?" 24 hours later, a stylist sent off 11 inches of my hair to an organization that accepts donations to make wigs for cancer patients. I don't know for certain if that was God's first step in guiding me through this process, but it's the first one I can identify.

For the first time in four years, I didn't like the body that looked back at me from every mirror. Again. I felt more uncomfortable than I can ever remember and multiple times a day asked myself what others saw, those who have known me for more than four years and those who have known me for less than that. Did the former see similarities between the Haley that developed an eating disorder in high school and this one, who had regained most of the weight she lost during that time? Perhaps the latter didn't even recognize me and surely thought that I wasn't the "health-nut" who had it all together they once thought I was. 

 two of my main blogging squeezes:  Emilie  and Georgina!

two of my main blogging squeezes: Emilie and Georgina!

Thankfully, God erased those thoughts from my mind (I prayed for that endlessly) and I began seeing this weight as some sort of blessing. I regained my period after two years of complete absence. I no longer feel knee pain during any workouts (except running - I'm not sure if that'll ever change). I actually built muscle, for which I'll give half the credit to gaining weight and half to transitioning away from my vegan diet. By September, nine months later, I finally felt love for my body again. In no way was it what it used to be - it had become so much more. Now, it holds a physically and mentally strong young woman who doesn't place her value in her size, but rather in her heart and mind. She pursues her passions everyday because she knows stressing over workout and calories is a waste of energy. She turns to God when she feels out of control, not methods of restriction. She is thankful for every step of this lengthy, challenging process because each one led her here, to self-love, peace, and gratitude. 

THOUGHTS: Reflections and Intentions

2). feelings. 
Boy, oh boy, OH BOY. Like my previous reflection, this one was unlike anything I've ever dealt with. All I can say is that God worked extensively on my heart in ways I still can't describe. Seemingly out of nowhere, I noticed incredibly strong feelings I hadn't experienced before, and when I followed where they led me, I only found other stronger feelings. Many brought me fantastic, ear-to-ear-smile joy - like finally biting into an In-N-Out burger, chasing my favorite summer sunsets while running into the ocean with my best friends, watching yeast activity in my first ever batch of homemade cinnamon rolls (yes, seriously), hunting down those dang Pillsbury Christmas sugar cookies with Grace (because you couldn't have paid me to eat something so "unhealthy" a year ago) and finally finding them only days before Christmas, and so much more. A couple brought me intense pain - feeling like I lost my self-discipline and motivation to workout and seeing the weight gain as a result, and feeling quite heart-broken and hopeless in pursuit of something I thought could be one of the most amazing blessings yet. 

Both sets of feelings - the joyous and the painful - taught me to simply feel. To not spit out the painful because they taste horrible or swallow them because they are unfamiliar. To relish in the joyous because they taste delicious and cultivate more of them because they bring life a one-of-a-kind flavor. 

THOUGHTS: Reflections and Intentions

INTENTIONS:

1). stay up-to-date on world and local news.
I'm very ashamed to admit this, but the other day, I had to ask my dad was the GOP is (it's the Republican Party, for those of you who are like me and had zero idea). Since I moved out of my parents' house, I haven't had access to cable TV and I haven't been around my parents enough to listen in on their dinner-time conversations regarding politics, taxes, economic changes, and all that not-super-exciting-but-actually-very-relevant news. Now that I'm technically an adult - though I sometimes feel like/act like I'm between the ages of 5-12 years old - it's definitely time I start understanding what's going on inside and outside this country so that I can make educated decisions when its time to vote and make my voice heard. 

For now, I'm starting with 10-20 minutes a day of reading news articles I find online or listening to NPR and the like for updates. If you have any other recommendations I'm more than happy to hear them! 

 other main blogging-squeezes:  Jeannette  and  Connie  (the hand)

other main blogging-squeezes: Jeannette and Connie (the hand)

2). continue practicing intuitive eating and exercising
Learning to eat and exercise intuitively is an ongoing lesson - one I'll never perfect and I'm okay with that. Diet culture drilled itself into my brain for a long long time and I'm so thankful for RDs like Robyn, Kylie, Alexis, and more who convinced me IE and HAES are much more valuable and fulfilling practices. I've only made it halfway through the book, and we will just have to see if I can pick it up again and actually finish it. Like I said, I am far from a perfect Intuitive Eater, but I've grasped the basics and I'm practicing everyday. 

Part of IE, though, is also just living - as much as it enforces getting rid of diet-culture-esque influences, it stresses releasing from the mind any sort of barrier to full enjoyment of food and movement. For me, that requires taking a deep breath, asking God for peace + wisdom + understanding of my body's needs and desires in that moment. 

 we. are. familyyyy. (get up everybody and sing!)

we. are. familyyyy. (get up everybody and sing!)

3). put my phone away more often.
If I had a biggest priority on this list of intentions, you can bet it's this one. Because I now work for myself as a blogger, social media is a huge chunk of my job, and because of modern technology, that chunk is always at my fingertips - at noon on a Wednesday or at 11 PM on a Saturday (when I want to be either sleeping or giggling with my friends). This year, I picked up a habit of putting my phone in airplane mode during the night, so that if I wake up to pee at 3 AM and want to check the time, I'm not also tempted to respond to a gazillion notifications I may have. Doing this has also given me control over the amount of me-time I have in the morning before anyone/thing can bug me. When I'm ready to communicate, all I have to do is turn airplane mode off. Until then, it's just me, my cup of coffee, and my book. 

Working for myself lets me set my own hours, a benefit I haven't really taken advantage of yet. a 9-5 schedule everyday isn't my thing, but neither is working until 10 PM on a Friday or Saturday night because I didn't organize my day/manage my time wisely. Putting my phone away - like, in another room or just off in general - will hopefully allow me less mindless scrolling-time through social media (Pinterest really captures me lately). 

 if you like watching the sunset, you should see it rise (if you're a morning person, that is). 

if you like watching the sunset, you should see it rise (if you're a morning person, that is). 

Hello, World!

COPY CODE SNIPPET

4). cultivate my unique creativity.
I'm self-motivated and I have been for as long as I can remember, but I want to develop habits that can help me self-inspire. So far, hiking, walking, and other forms of exercising do the trick (blood flowing = oxygen moving to the brain = higher functioning brain). Baking, cooking, and reading through recipe books are my other go-to's, but what about when I'm just sitting at my desk, not a ton of oxygen flowing to my brain and no cookies coming out of the oven? 

Georgie Morley reminds me to create a little routine that sets up positive, productive headspace before diving into work, so this year I plan to create my own. What it might look like, I don't have an idea yet, but I'll give some things a try - cleaning and organizing my workspace, putting my phone away/shutting it off, finding some quiet, maybe even lighting my favorite candle and listening to some soft music!  

 oh, and I have a sister-in-law!!!

oh, and I have a sister-in-law!!!

I feel a deep breath is always what I need at the end of this kind of stuff - reflecting can be really tough sometimes, especially looking back on a year like 2017. Do it with me: inhale, exhale. Maybe I'm just being dramatic because I'm approaching the challenging years of my 20's?? Or maybe I'm nothing out of the ordinary in this case. Orrrrr maybe... nevermind, I don't know. I encourage you to take a peek back whatever 2017 was for you - lift up the covers you placed over the painful experiences and warmly welcome back the joyous ones. Both are worthy of recognition and appreciation. Both can teach and help you move forward into 2018 with your best foot forward. 

What are your reflections and intentions for 2018? Leave some below in the comments to spark some ideas for all of us! Cheers to a new year! 

THOUGHTS: Reflections and Intentions
 also, we should take into serious consideration the sunsets in Lake Tahoe. like come. on. 

also, we should take into serious consideration the sunsets in Lake Tahoe. like come. on. 

3 Inspirational Bible Verses

FaithHaley HansenComment

My ambitious self had intended to share ten inspirational Bible verses, not just three. But the more in depth I dove on each verse, the more I heard God reminding me that these are His words, and they deserve such attention, and maybe ten verses all at once is too much. Soooo, welcome to the first post of a new series in which I share some inspirational Bible verses in chunks of three every month! There is no theme weaving these verses together - they are just some of the ones I've noted over the past year or so and have really impacted me in various ways.  

Oh, and just a fair warning - you're about to see quite a few majestic sunset pictures from my recent trip to Tahoe. You're welcome. 

 beanie from  Love Your Melon . 

beanie from Love Your Melon

For the Lord gave us this command when he said,
’I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’
When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. So the Lord’s message spread throughout that region.
— Acts 13:47-49, NLT

In this excerpt from the book of Acts (New Testament), the Holy Spirit has called Barnabas and Saul (a.k.a Paul)  - two of the teachers and prophets at the church in Antioch (which, fun fact, is where Jesus' disciples were first called "Christians" and Paul's starting point on his missionary journey) - to be sent out from Antioch for ministry to various cities. As Paul preaches at the Antioch of Pisidia, the Jews and Gentiles both respond positively, so Paul continued his message on the next Sabbath. When an entire crowd came to listen, the Jews envied such attention on Paul's message and opposed it. Some scholars say this opposition was fueled by Jewish desire to maintain separation between them and the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas continued their work, and despite the Jewish opposition, Gentiles accepted Jesus into their hearts and found salvation through Him, and the Gospel continued spreading throughout the region. 

FAITH: 3 Inspirational Bible Verses

ENCOURAGEMENT: When my Pastor took us through the book of Acts, I found only a few sections discouraging. The entire book tells of Paul and other disciples and prophets spreading God's message over a vast land and array of people, especially nonbelievers like the Gentiles. To hear that two people - Paul and Barnabas - followed the Holy Spirit's calling to a city unknown to them to teach a message written on their hearts to a population of which half would harshly reject it is encouraging in and of itself. To continue reading and discover that, through their persistence and pursuit of God, the Gentiles grew to love Jesus and see him as their Savior... wow.

To me, this message speaks to days when I feel less than motivated, less than influential, less than powerful in how God has designed and equipped me. In the comfort of small(ish)-town San Luis Obispo, surrounded by rich friendships and tight-knit community, I want to be bold like Paul and Barnabas were, as they stepped out of their comfort zone to share their hearts for Jesus. 

‘And this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord. ‘My spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!’
— Isaiah 59:21, NLT
FAITH: 3 Inspirational Bible Verses

The book of Isaiah (Old Testament) is written before Jesus' coming by the prophet Isaiah as the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III works to expand his kingdom into Israel and Judah. Instead of fighting against this, Judah sides with Assyria and the expansion continues into Northern Israel, only making Judah (just south of Israel) vulnerable to Assyrian conquer. Isaiah comes to warn Judah of this sin, but also a vessel of God's message that restoration will come with repentance of sin. The theme of judgement followed by salvation weaves throughout this book Jerusalem was once a united land, but under the reign of King Solomon, was divided into Israel and Judah. Both lands contained people of God because of their previous rulers (before division) - King David and then his son, King Solomon. 

At this point in the passage, God is speaking through the prophet Isaiah, as he does several times throughout the book, to tell the people of Israel and Judah of the coming Redeemer - Jesus Christ (though God doesn't use that name yet). This Redeemer will come to rescue only those who turn away from their sins and recognize God as, well, God. The people of these lands struggle with idolatry of things like fine jewels and material goods, individual achievements and power, and therefore don't see God as God, but rather these other worldly idols as worthy of worship.

FAITH: 3 Inspirational Bible Verses

ENCOURAGEMENT: Here, God promises that his Spirit will come and will remain in those who accept and embrace them as truth. "My Spirit will not leave them..." and neither will this promise. I found comfort and hope in these words as I, too, struggled with the sin of idolatry: my eating disorder, pursuit of romantic relationships, pre-occupation with social media, etc. Many times, I felt like a false Christian, like I wasn't actually at the point in my relationship with God that I thought I was. But, these words opened my eyes to the fact that I am and always have been a child of God. I always will be because I have accepted Jesus as Savior. 

Though our thoughts and actions can feel clouded and controlled by worldly desires, if we know, love, and pursue Jesus, we can trust that his Spirit resides in our hearts and will protect us from sin (John 15:4, Romans 8:26-27). 

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
— 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, NLT

Paul writes the book of 2 Corinthians as a sort of "sequel" to the book of 1 Corinthians, in which he reaches out to the church of Corinth for ministry purposes. The second book came about as he was concerned that his first letter - the first book - didn't accomplish its intended purpose. And that's right about where these verses come in. 

Once a passionate persecutor of Jesus, Paul (also known as Saul) met Jesus after the resurrection and became filled with the Holy Spirit, leading him on his journey throughout the lands to spread the Gospel (Acts 9). Now, Paul instructs that, as Christians, we are not preaching our own stories or our own interpretations of God's word. We serve (or should serve) as vessels of the Gospel. 

Satan is who is being referred to as "the god of this age". Paul's recognition of Satan's power highlights its reality - he is of no equivalence to God, of course, but can still blind the minds of those who do not keep theirs focused on and filled with God. Only the non-believers are susceptible to such blindness by Satan. When Paul met Jesus in Acts 9, "... something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again..." (v. 18). Paul is a reminder that "Satan's work of blinding is great, but God's work of bringing light is greater" (BLB).

FAITH: 3 Inspirational Bible Verses

ENCOURAGEMENT: Reading these verses brings heavy conviction on me, I must say. When Paul emphasizes the importance of centering our messages on Christ, not ourselves, I can't help but think of all the times I've done the opposite (unintentionally so, but still). Even when intentions are whole-heartedly to share about Christ, we can sometimes lose sight/focus by Satan's attempt at blinding us from Christ. Because Paul's humble heart was fixed on God and his sole purpose in this letter was spreading the Gospel, he kept his message clear and his focus on point. 

It's important to not let conviction become guilt, because like fear, guilt can inhibit worship. Take this message as inspiration to seek God, to pursue the furthering of His kingdom like Paul did - humbly and whole-heartedly. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and found something(s) inspirational to leave with. Three more verses coming next month! 

Choose Your Words...

Health, ThoughtsHaley HansenComment

Walking around campus, to and from classes. Standing in the bars downtown. Looking in the mirror getting dressed each morning with my roommates. Sitting in my nutrition classes. Riding the bike/working out in the gym. And hidden (or not so) almost everywhere in marketing and advertisements. I hear words everywhere, and these locations in particular sometimes feel clouded with the exact language I hope to highlight here and squash. 

THOUGHTS: Choose Your Words...

"Why do you make me do such bad things? I never eat pizza!" she whined to her friend (the one encouraging the pizza slice), in a tone that boasted her idea of health and her discipline when it comes to eating habits. 

"I was so good this weekend - I didn't eat a single piece of candy," - she proclaimed, as if her rigid self-control during the Halloween holiday was something to brag about. I'll take her leftover Kit Kats and Reese' Cups!

"You are only as a good as your last meal," a quote written on the whiteboard outside the kitchen in a local hospital. And my heart plunged into my stomach and my brain wires practically exploded in confusion at how a health facility (both mental and physical) could possibly focus on such a potentially demeaning statement. 

"Clean-eating", "guilt-free", "sinful", "junk". 

 big ol' lunch spread from  The Avocado House  in Chino Hills. 

big ol' lunch spread from The Avocado House in Chino Hills. 

Those are only a few of the phrases I've overheard in the past few months that haven't left my mind and seem to echo when they enter. I can distinctly remember these types of thoughts controlling my mind, though I didn't always vocalize them (because I wanted to cover up a serious issue), and their re-entrance into my life via my surrounding peers inspired me to write this because 1) my last wish is for anyone to feel controlled by such thoughts and 2) awareness of this topic is much-needed, especially around the holidays. 

WHY THESE ARE HARMFUL

Gandhi said it best, I think. 

Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.

Whether or not you believe in this diet chatter surrounding you, its likely to still affect you. There certainly are days when not only do I believe in it, but I fall prey to participating in it, as well. We aren't protected by rock-solid walls to prevent negativity from invading our minds throughout the day. Diet chatter is just on example - think of all the ads we see, all the conversations we overhear, all the words that stare back at us from books, news articles, magazines, etc. More or less, this invasion is like osmosis in our brains. Keeping negativity out requires conscious effort. 

 cream puff donut from  SLO Do Co . 

cream puff donut from SLO Do Co

Gandhi warns us of the danger of all this diet chatter, if we aren't careful to set up protective boundaries and response mechanisms when we encounter it - thoughts, in essence, become our values and our future, as individuals and as a society. Words that demonize a food itself or oneself or another person for eating said food create a negative image for that food or feeling for that person, which in turn can become a permanent association or a recurring thought cycle in one's mind.

And not many negative images of specific foods or recurring thought cycles are required to spark restriction of specific foods and, in turn, eating disorders and simply poor self-esteem/body-image. With the prevalence of diet chatter today (seriously, just listen closely and pay attention to conversations, advertisements, magazine articles, and food labels), resulting eating disorders and poor self-esteem/body-image are more common than we may think. 

Sociologist Dina Rose, PhD, shared in a blog post about one of the first times her daughter used the word "fat" in a sentence. And keep in mind - her daughter was three years old. Examining her belly, Rose's daughter told her mom she knew she'd be fat when she grew up because of that belly. Rose later learns that her daughter also thought her mom had a negative body image of herself, as she never liked the way clothes looked on her and must not have hidden her self-criticism from her daughter as well as she'd hoped.

 almond milk latte from  Kraken Coffee Co.  in Avila Beach.

almond milk latte from Kraken Coffee Co. in Avila Beach.

Rose also shares quotes and studies conducted by other psychologists that show "fat bias" (also known as fat shaming, fear of fat) can begin as early as age three. If children can recognize poor self-esteem/body-image and, as a result, potentially experience their own self-esteem issues later on in life, how well do you think teens and young adults can? Answer: quite well. 

Am I making sense? Diet chatter, fat shaming, and overall negative phrases regarding food and one's or another's own body can become our own individual thoughts, words, actions, values and future, if not kicked in the butt before they establish themselves in our minds. Look back up at the phrases and words at the beginning of this post. How can those potentially cause harm? 

WHAT WE CAN DO

1) Most solutions to problems start by practicing mindfulness, which encompasses recognizing the potentially harmful phrases and words when you hear them. Again, open up your ears and your eyes when you're in public (common places: gyms, work environments, grocery stores, clothing stores, etc.) - you will most likely hear or read at least one piece of diet chatter a day. Carefully take that in, but don't absorb it. Roll it around in your brain and evaluate its possible meaning and effect. If someone says it to you, hoping for a response, be extra mindful. If you have to, don't verbally respond. I can't tell you how many awkward laughs and nods I've given in times like this because I don't want to mindlessly agree with this potentially harmful statement. Is temporary awkwardness not safer than perpetuation of negativity? 

2) Once you're able to recognize this chatter, set up positive affirmations as a defense mechanism. Remind yourself of who you are - your passions, your values, your unique characteristics that shape you - so that the invading chatter doesn't try to tell you what you are - your jean size, your workout schedule, your eating habits. I like to tell myself exactly that - that the time I spent at the gym (or lack thereof), the number on my clothing tags, and what I did or didn't eat in a day has nothing to do with my value as a person. Those are superficial matters, and my intelligence, my desires, my passions go way deeper. 

Another quote that stuck with me the minute I heard it is from Kylie Mitchell's interview on the Food Psych podcast (not verbatim, but pretty close): if being thin is the most interesting thing about me, then something needs to change. 

3) Implement change. Be the first wave of positive encouragement for those around you by respectfully and thoughtfully responding to diet chatter, and by initiating uplifting phrases. Some examples of how I've done this: 

  • when someone deems a food "junk"/"bad"/"unhealthy", I try to remind he/she that in small amounts it won't do much harm (if any at all) to the body and can actually be worthy of enjoyment. everything in moderation! 
  • when someone says he/she neeeeeeds to go to the gym after a meal or certain amount of time off, I try to remind that person that days off are crucial, too, for muscle to rebuild itself. rest is key! 
  • when I see a quote in a well-known hospital that tells patients they are only worth their last meal... well, I'm still figuring how to respond to that. ideas are welcome! :) 
 breakfast bowl from  Honey Hi  in LA.

breakfast bowl from Honey Hi in LA.

Also, I recommend taking a second to read this post from Robyn, The Real Life RD, about dealing with "diet talk". 

As I always say, I'm no Registered Dietitian or other trained professional - just a girl who's "been there", so I'm offering up my experience and tips I've formulated based off of that and what I've heard/observed from others. I hope this has created awareness if it wasn't there before, and encouraged action if you haven't yet taken any, but find opportunities to do so! 

Becoming a Real Person

Life, Thoughts, Faith, HealthHaley Hansen6 Comments

*as if I weren't one before?* 

THOUGHTS: Becoming a Real Person

No no, that's not what I mean here. I exist and I have for the last 21.5 years, but I think I finally understand the distinction between existing and living. So much in my life and in my body and in my mind has changed in the last year, sculpting me into who I am right now (don't we just love cliche lines?), and I can't help but share both the trials and the triumphs. 

It wasn't a switch that flipped overnight, but rather a l o n g road of twists and turns and ins and outs and lots of falls, followed by a faithful pick-up every time (thanks, God). You can call it "growth", I guess, but that seems to simplify this whole thing and eliminate the need for and excitement of writing this post. 

One of my favorite one-liners lately - and my friends will agree - is "The last time I had (insert certain "unhealthy" or non-vegan food here) was...", and while it mainly applies to food, it just as much applies to simply living. Each step along this road (remember, it's not a flip-the-switch thing) led me a bit farther from my incomplete understanding of "living" and that much closer to finally, well, living

THOUGHTS: Becoming a Real Person

This post isn't meant to be a guide to living because I'm certainly no expert, nor a piece of my autobiography because you get enough of that here already. I just want to talk about what I've changed, why I've changed it (if a reason exists), and how life feels now after the change. I want to expose this and hopefully encourage you, if any of this feels familiar, to seek help. And we're taking this allllllllll the way back, people, so buckle up. 

When it comes to food...

My last couple years of high school through my first year or two of college - what feels like ages ago now - were tied up by food. Tied up. Food was a nagging reminder that I needed to exercise to "burn it off"; food was a steering wheel that determined the majority of each day's schedule; food was the mental and physical enemy I needed to always conquer. That was during the heat of my eating disorder, which didn't last longer than my first two years of college. But, for the years it did last, it stole a lot from me - late-night donut runs, brunch dates, pizza-and-a-movie nights, and pursuit of my passion. Notice the pattern there? Everything revolved around food. Whether I was simply restricting or because I chose veganism, I couldn't win the battle against food no matter how hard I tried or how much of a victory I thought I may have accomplished. Even when those donuts and pizzas did happen, nagging reminders of the next day's workout and meal plan took up too much space in my mind, preventing me from storing any sort of cherished recollection about the donuts and pizzas and - most importantly - moments with loved ones. I sharpened my "fake it 'til you make it" skill pretty dang well. 

Every food that entered my body was either savored because I knew it was the last I'd be getting for a while, despite any possible hunger cues to tell me otherwise or hated afterwards because of the nutrition facts. 

Now, I'm just eating. An awareness of nutrition advises my daily choices, but it doesn't determine them, nor does it inhibit my Friday night plans to eat nachos. A passion for cooking and (mostly) baking brings me SO MUCH joy - like, S O M U C H - but cake for dinner doesn't force me into negative thoughts and a two-hour gym-session the next day. An understanding of the importance eating plants and saving animals motivates me to find sustainable sources, but it doesn't deter me from that once-a-week pulled pork sandwich. 

THOUGHTS: Becoming a Real Person

When it comes to exercise...

I woke myself up six out of seven mornings a week, bright and early, for whatever workout I had planned - a long run, intense HIIT or strength-training workout. For fear of feeling like I should maybe take a rest day, I ignored any and all body signals (i.e. sore muscles, achey joints, etc.). On vacations, I skipped breakfast invitations with my dad (discovering new diners and sitting at the counter is his favorite) because I needed to somehow utilize whatever I could to get the most efficient workout. With friends, I couldn't just sit and enjoy movies and snacks because I didn't think I was burning enough calories to "earn" the snacks. In high school, I stayed after track practice for an extra hour or so to run. More running after running. My coaches and teammates just laughed and said, "you're crazy!" or commended my fitness. That was not fitness. 

Even after the heat of my eating disorder, exercise was all about calorie-burn. Long walks in the morning to just get outside and breathe fresh oxygen? Ha, yeah right. Yoga to just stretch? Never. And any workout that didn't last 30 minutes at the very least "didn't count" in my book. 

Now, a desire to just move my body helps me squeeze in a workout everyday, but it doesn't scold me when my workout "isn't long/intense enough". An exercise "high", if you will, keeps me going back to the gym every couple days, but it doesn't screw up my sleep or take precedent over school, relationships, and me-time. Plus, I don't ever want to be so consumed by exercise that a size 2 and toned muscles become the most interesting, intriguing thing about me. 

When it comes to emotions...

I cherished only the happy thoughts. Everything else I tried to suppress and eliminate via exercise and control of my eating and body shape. Somehow, that worked for a few years... until God opened my eyes and answered my prayers for humility in ways I unconsciously didn't want Him to. First, it was a heart-breaking look in the mirror, realizing how far I'd let my eating disorder take me. Then, it was a terrifying loss of control as my body, a year later, began holding onto weight (probably in a miraculous survival mechanism). Yet, despite the overwhelming fear and discomfort, I somehow found peace in it - peace in the fact that I knew God's hands were at work saving me. 

THOUGHTS: Becoming a Real Person

Aside from physical matters, I've learned to... well, just feel. Instead of trying to burn off uncomfortable emotions like calories on the treadmill, I started to ask God about them and just release them to Him.

I started to understand that I won't always be able to control the way I feel - to shut my mind up, to "turn my frown upside down", if you will. I understand, now, that I won't always understand. Sometimes, I will have to continue breathing and functioning and going about life, resting in God, even when life feels like a horribly tight pairs of jeans you don't know if you'll ever squeeze out of. I'm feeling it all - from sadness, disappointment, and insecurity to joy, excitement, and strength - and I'm growing with each breath taken.

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
— Romans 12:12

Life doesn't always have to be "but's" - find places to squeeze in some "and's". Baking a big wonderful chocolate cake AND taking a rest day. Feeling uncomfortable AND joyful, trusting God's hands.  

THOUGHTS: Becoming a Real Person
COPY CODE SNIPPET

Career Change

Faith, Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen6 Comments

The career conflict has come to an end. For the past few months, I didn't even really know the battle between Registered Dietitian, RD, and, well, let's just generalize the other career option as blogger (it will be mixed with other things) existed. Since hindsight usually offers the best vision, I can see now that I was trying to suppress this internal battle for reasons I will now explain. 

Going into the Nutrition major (I switched from Journalism halfway through my second year at Cal Poly SLO), I had zero intention of pursuing the RD credential. What I really wanted to do, I wasn't quite sure, but I knew that nutrition counseling was not it. However, as I dove deeper into the major, I learned that an RD does more than just tell people what they can and can't eat and while working in a hospital. Suddenly, the career sounded appealing to me. Not only that, but it also sounded more financially stable than my complex blogger career. And if that weren't enough, God seemed to bring me friends who are pursuing the same career - Emilie, JJ, Connie, Winnie, Alayna, and probably more who I can't think of at the moment.

 Sunrise in Avila Beach (I had been awake for three hours already).

Sunrise in Avila Beach (I had been awake for three hours already).

So, for the past nine-ish months, I've had my eyes somewhat - emphasis on somewhat - set on becoming an RD. With that would come two years of graduate school and one year of interning, post-undergrad. And with that came some heavy guilt + concern, the two emotions I'd been suppressing until only now - I should add that I will be graduating two quarters late from Cal Poly, a result of switching my major late in the game + not being on top of class scheduling (if I can offer any advice on this subject, it's to UTILIZE ADVISORS/COUNSELORS, people *cough cough college students*). Graduating two quarters late means two more terms of tuition (thank you, Mom and Dad for still supporting me) and seven more months spent in school - in other words, less money for grad school and less time to find an internship. 

The pressure of finding the right grad school and internship (and, of course, being accepted into both) kind of choked me. I felt that an RD was the best option - read: most stable income, most opportune career to make an impact/help people - so I had little to no choice but to pursue it. My mom, a vessel of God's voice here, has been questioning my choice. "Are you suuuuuure you want to become an RD, Haley?", she'd ask. I'd respond, "Yes, mom. The industry needs non-diet dietitians, it's a stable career, and I want to do it." 

 Saturday morning farmers market in SLO.

Saturday morning farmers market in SLO.

But I felt like a robot. Those words were about 90% "I-need-to-do-this" and 10% "I-actually-want-to-do-this". 

I lived at home this summer with my parents, and when summer classes fell through, I decided to blog full-time as my "job". When I made that decision, I had never made more than $9 from Hungry Haley, which I was okay with because I didn't see it becoming my career (that was to be filled by an RD credential... in, like, six years). Blogging full-time, I spent hours brainstorming recipes, cooking them, photographing them, and writing about them.

I. Loved. Every. Minute. It posed more challenges than I expected (in terms of income, creativity, and planning), but I. Still. Loved. Every. Minute. 

Passion can't be ignored, but can it be second to a career? Yes. Do I want it to be? No. I don't have a passion for nutrition therapy like I do for cooking + writing. I don't want to think about food in terms of what the nutrient density is like I do in terms of how it can be incorporated into a breakfast dish or a dessert dish or something totally different that maybe no one has done before. 

  Luna Red  happy hour: 2 berry lemonades, 1 red sangria (for me, duh). Plus bread!

Luna Red happy hour: 2 berry lemonades, 1 red sangria (for me, duh). Plus bread!

This is not to give a bad name AT ALL to the Nutrition program at Cal Poly - I love this major and am so happy that I chose it. BUT the strong emphasis on the RD path being the seemingly best choice, an emphasis that of late began to feel like pressure, deserves mention. To choose a path other than the RD path - probably the most populated one - feels "against the grain", but I guess that's kind of how I do things. It also feels most certainly like a challenge, which has been a theme these past few months and you can bet your heiney's best jeans that I'm up for it. 

For example, transitioning out of a vegan diet and into a (I don't want to say "normal" because, let's be honest, no one knows what that is) diet of, well, whatever I want was the challenge of the summer, and following God's calling in that definitely felt "against the grain" - the grain being the brand I'd built, which included heavy amounts of vegan food. Through it, I had to trust that God wouldn't let me fall, whatever falling would've looked like. Of course, He did not let me fall - I've never felt better, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Just as I did not want to say anything bad about Cal Poly's Nutrition program, nor do I want to say anything bad about the vegan lifestyle. BUT the pressure to stay vegan upon going vegan deserves mention, as do the negativity and sometimes extremely rude, non-supportive comments about eating animal products (sustainably raised, whenever possible). 

  Cowboy Cookie  ice cream bowl: chocolate chip cookie + HUGE scoop of fudge ice cream.

Cowboy Cookie ice cream bowl: chocolate chip cookie + HUGE scoop of fudge ice cream.

Just as I trusted God then, I trust Him now. Do I know exactly what I want to pursue in this "blogger" career? No. I do know, however, that I want to dive deep into my community, wherever that be (please be SLO, please be SLO, please be SLO) and explore it's bountiful pantry, if you will. I do know that I want to make an impact, which I didn't think I could on this career path. How wrong I was in that thinking. I'm not tooting my own horn, but I know God has used this blog to touch more than one person. Why not continue that? By following Him first and foremost, the number of lives touched can only multiply. 

I want to show my readers that healing through food is possible even when food is the enemy (i.e. an eating disorder). "It's more than food" - a.k.a. my motto - rings true in every situation, yet food is powerful and significant and worthy of adoration and enjoyment. I LOVE food and honesty with myself in that has provided much of the healing I've needed to experience. 

To all the future RD's out there, DO YO' THANG. This diet-consumed world needs to know the beauty and power of Intuitive Eating - please let God use your knowledge and your gifts to bless those under the influence of toxic cyclic dieting. Teach them how to love their bodies for what they are made to be. 

I will be over here cooking my favorite foods and foods new to me, writing about them and how much I love them. Each of us is woven together as an individual with unique passions and desires and skills. I have God to thank, most of all, for everything, but specifically here for introducing me to Intuitive Eating and, as a result, the idea of intuitive living. It's a lifelong journey (not to be cliche), but at least it's one I get to travel with Him and pursue the passion He has designed for me. 

:)

 Sunset in Shell Beach, CA. Probably my favorite night-time thing... ever. 

Sunset in Shell Beach, CA. Probably my favorite night-time thing... ever. 

Three Years of Blogging!

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen1 Comment

Happy three-year-blog-iversary to meeeeee!  

THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

Three friggin' years, though. Dang. With my first few steps into this whole journey, I didn't have much of a vision and definitely no plan for the future of Hungry Haley. At most, I thought it'd become a fun side job, if I even held onto it. During my first few months of blogging, which were also my first few months of college, I spoke nothing of my blog. I think I had a few hundred followers, most of which were family and friends from high school. The only path new friends could take to discover my blog was via stalking my personal IG and Facebook profile to find a rare post in which I may have tagged myself. 

 was I a baby or whaaaaat.

was I a baby or whaaaaat.

And even three years later, I certainly don't advertise my blog or make it the topic of conversation when I'm out with friends. In fact, it's my friends who do that - "she's famous! Follow Hungry Haley. It's her blog. She's my roommate and she's famous." They mean well. Point is, that's the most common form of Hungry Haley exposure and it always has been, but now God is making me much more comfortable in opening up about my blog. After all, it's not about me, but about Him (or at least I try to make it that way...). 

 externally smiling, but internally planning tomorrow's workout (+ ignoring my hunger/desire for halloween candy) instead of making memories with my best friends. 

externally smiling, but internally planning tomorrow's workout (+ ignoring my hunger/desire for halloween candy) instead of making memories with my best friends. 

The other day, as I drove down to SoCal from my place in SLO, I thought of all the God has surprised me with via my blog:

  • first and foremost: recovery from an eating disorder. 
  • a two-year relationship with veganism. 
  • features in my school's newspaper, IG page, and several students' class projects. 
  • a passionate love for cooking foods of all types - from plant-based to there-aren't-any-vegetables-anywhere-near-this-dish. 
  • real-life friendships: Jeannette, Connie, Emilie, Danielle, JJ, Emily, and more who I can't think of at the moment but I know they exist and I love them! 
  • a better idea of what I want to pursue, career-wise. 
  • more protein bars and peanut butter than I ever could've imagined. 
  • an authentic understanding of and love for the God who made me. 
THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

When I began this, I had just broken up with a guy who I thought I was going to someday marry. The two most frequent thoughts crowding my mind were 1) workouts and 2) food (in terms of calories, not enjoyment). I counted calories everyday. I had a spoonful of a social life, at best. I was terrified to leave for school. I didn't know that God could love me like I know He does today. 

THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

I looked like I had my shizz together and people constantly complimented that superficial quality about me. However, inside, I was a mess. But no one had any idea. 

Now, I've been happily (most of the time) single for coming up on four years, but have fallen head-over-heels in love with God. And ice cream, but in a different way, you know? I rarely give food a second thought and frequently enjoy meals out with my friends, eating whatever sounds good and probably ordering a mojito, too. I don't know how many calories I eat or burn. I laugh every. damn. day. I love school and I love blogging and I love connecting with others. 

THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!
THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

I sometimes feel like I don't have my shizz together, and for the most part, I don't. But I also don't freak out if people know that I don't have it together because I share a LOT on here and I know now that I actually have readers besides Mom and Dad (!!!). I know that I could pass by another student at school and he/she could've read my post about weight gain and maybe that person remembers the thinner me, but I like this version of me a helluva lot more. 

THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

I don't have my shizz together. Certainly not. But hey, that's part of the reason I'm here (the other part being the food). I want you to know that, even after God helps you tackle a big life event or conquer a disorder or get over that loss, it's okay to feel like a single college student who still doesn't understand some chemistry and has to budget and remember to pay bills and maintain a social life and this and that and this, too. And it can all get really crazy and overwhelming and maybe even scary but...

THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

... but at the end of the day, I'm here and I'm me and you're wherever you and you're you, and maybe just maaaaaaybe we can connect. We can be friends and we can talk about protein bars and peanut butter or God and eating disorders or Zac Efron (*cough cough*) and working out. I just want to share my favorite foods, my life experiences for the benefit of both of us, and God's work in it all. 

 best night (with my girls + gooooooood food, of course) I've had in a while :)

best night (with my girls + gooooooood food, of course) I've had in a while :)

THOUGHTS: Three Years of Blogging!

Food + Social Situations (Both Sides)

Faith, Life, ThoughtsHaley Hansen4 Comments

Because I just dug my spoon into one of the most mesmerizing ice cream sandwiches e v e r. And I did it alllllll by myself. 

 oatmeal cookies + carrot cake ice cream from Batch, aka my new favorite ice cream shop in SLO (or maybe favorite ice cream shop ever).

oatmeal cookies + carrot cake ice cream from Batch, aka my new favorite ice cream shop in SLO (or maybe favorite ice cream shop ever).

So, let's talk about the interaction between food and social situations, because if you have even the slightest bit of a social life (hint: we all do), the interaction is most certainly there. For me, food determined a) whether or not I'd attend the social situation, b) what I'd be doing/eating at the social situation, c) how I would "make up for" whatever I "unhealthy" food I ate, etc. Food had control. If all the menu offered was pizza laden with cheese or french fries and wings or the like, or if the vacation didn't provide me some sort of gym/workout space and the time to workout, you can bet your best ice cream sandwich I would be reluctant at best to attend the event. 

I sigh as I write this and admit it to myself yet again. 

One of the reasons I stepped out the vegan diet was because I felt I was lightly damaging my social life. Nothing against the vegan diet, but - long story short - right now, I want to pour more energy into friendships and time with family than I do into my vegan diet. God is pushing me towards a passion for relationships more than for the environment and "health". And that. is. okay. 

 pizza from Blast 825 - fresh mozzarella + veggies + basil.

pizza from Blast 825 - fresh mozzarella + veggies + basil.

For five years, I've held some sort of restriction(s) around food that have inhibited my ability to soak up every last bit of enjoyment of social situations, specifically (but not limited to) those involving food. An example: I skipped sleepovers with my best friends in high school because I wanted to avoid the late-night snacks and run 10 miles in the morning. That's just one of many. I used to back out of social situations at (almost) all costs if I sensed, in any way, an interference with my "rules" regarding what I do/don't eat and my exercise routine. 

Again, a sigh. 

 yoga-urt with Connie (@constancelyeating) + Winnie (@winniesbalance_).

yoga-urt with Connie (@constancelyeating) + Winnie (@winniesbalance_).

Now, I'm working towards opening myself up to social situations also at (almost) all costs. You could say I'm doing so in an attempt to make up for what I've missed out on for five years: that slice of cheesy pizza, those french fries, that late-night donut, all in the cherished presence of loved ones (of course, in a balanced, not binging fashion). From what I've thus far experienced, I'm not sure if there is anything better than what most social situations involving food + loved ones offer. 

Exuberant joy. Unconditional self-love. Stomach-aching laughter and cheek-cramping smiles. Oh, and heart + soul + mind-satisfying food. 

Here's to social eating! 

 bourbon (left) + cocoa (right) cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co. 

bourbon (left) + cocoa (right) cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co. 

And now, here's to still eating that pizza or those fries or that donut (or, more applicably today, that ice cream cookie sandwich), when it's just you, sans the social situation. An example: my bff and I had loose plans today to split an ice cream cookie sandwich from our favorite local shop in the middle of the hot Friday afternoon, but when the time rolled out, she just simply wasn't craving it anymore. No biggie, not at all. However, do I still want it? A big chunk of the joy that comes from the interaction of food + social situations is the person(s) with whom it is all shared, especially when that person is your best friend. 

But, as an introvert, sometimes I'm okay with spending time alone versus with others, even my best friend. And with that, I bit into my oatmeal cookie + carrot cake ice cream sandwich and I think I saw and felt a glimpse of heaven. Okay, maybe it wasn't heaven, but it surely was close. 

I guess it was a glimpse of food freedom + true self-love + peaceful balance. I loved it, for lack of better words. Loved every minute walking around downtown as the single woman God made me. Loved every bite of that rich, creamy, sweet ice cream and the buttery, chewy cookie. 

Every. Damn. Minute. 

Since the minute I read these verses, I've wanted to share them...

‘Don’t you understand yet?’ Jesus asked. ‘Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart - that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.’
— Matthew 15:16-20, NLT

That excerpt, specifically, relates more to my transition out of a vegan diet, which you can read about here. Bottom line, I found it SO encouraging. 

So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!
— Ecclesiastes 9:7, NLT
 tradition with my bff - pack dinner, head to secret spot in Pismo, watch the sunset + laugh + chat. it's fantastic. 

tradition with my bff - pack dinner, head to secret spot in Pismo, watch the sunset + laugh + chat. it's fantastic. 

This specific verse touches my heart today. Yes, God certainly is gearing my heart towards embracing the interaction of food + social situations, but He is also still helping me enjoy food itself, and with myself (that food being my ice cream sandwich today). God loves to see us join together in the happiness of community, but He also loves purely to see your individual smile and mine.

So, here's to food enjoyed around a table or on a picnic blanket or on the living room couch. And here's also to food enjoyed at a table for one or walking solo down the street or wherever it may be.

:) 

Hello , World!

Update on Eating

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen8 Comments

If you're not caught up, catch up here. Super long story super short, I'm no longer vegan, so here's an update on how my body and mind are making the change (and loving it)! 

 two egg sammies + one egg & veggie bowl from  Honey Hi .

two egg sammies + one egg & veggie bowl from Honey Hi.

My original "plan", which I tried to keep loose and flexible and barely a "plan" at all, was to begin with just eggs - maybe one or two every couple days. Then, I'd try a bowl of yogurt and maybe some cheese, carefully adding in lactose because I knew my body had certainly lost most of its ability to digest lactose (via the lactase enzyme) after two years without the need to. Then, maybe I'd consider some fish, and maaaaaaybe some chicken after that. 

Thank God for instilling within me the confidence and strength I didn't know I'd need - I definitely moved this process along much quicker than what my original "plan" laid out, which probably just goes to show that this diet change was, well, meant to be. My first step was a fried egg with dinner one night (with one of my newest yet closest friends), and then about one or two a day for the next week. Immediately, I felt much more satiated and much less bloated after each meal. I didn't feel as though I was still craving a little something more. I didn't think about when my next meal or snack would be. 

 one of my new FAV bars.  RX , I luhh u. 

one of my new FAV bars. RX, I luhh u. 

I purchased my first tub of Greek yogurt - Siggi's, to be exact, because everyone raves about it - less than a week later and dove right in the way I used to: mom's strawberry jam, fruit, and a heaping scoop of nut butter. Man, I missed that. I'd forgotten all about my favorite breakfast bowl! But I made up for lost time and made sure to squeeze some version of it into my day as either a snack or a meal. Just too. dang. good. 

Ahhh, and here comes the unexpected step. So, in my original "plan", meat did not have a place, at least not so soon. But, I did not tell my body "no" to anything and I didn't rush into anything, either. I was visiting my best friends up in San Luis Obispo and we planned a night out for happy hour + dinner at the farmers market. Before I even went vegetarian (halfway through my freshman year of college), my absolute favorite thing to get at the market was a grilled chicken teriyaki bowl from a local, family-owned restaurant. I remember it being some of the tastiest chicken I'd ever eaten and one of the most feel-good meals I'd ever found at BBQ/street-fair-type thing (the awesomeness of our weekly farmers market in a nutshell). Keeping my mind as open as possible, I didn't set my thoughts on that as dinner, but I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I'll admit that a small part of me tried to convince myself out of it because meat wasn't in my "plan" this soon. 

I shoved the thoughts out of my mind, let myself have a jolly ol' time with my friends - sipping mojitos and munching on the best d@mn jalapeno cornbread that has ever entered my mouth - and before I knew it, I was drooling over my favorite chicken bowl once again. Of course, my friends had to document the event of my first bite of chicken in over two years. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every. single. bite. and I felt genuinely good when I finished. I loved it. And that was that. 

 grilled chicken teriyaki bowl from the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market

grilled chicken teriyaki bowl from the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market

Throughout the rest of my visit, I discovered gems I hadn't tried yet, but that everyone seems to love in SLO - Batch ice cream sandwiches, Sally Loo's breakfast burritos and grilled chicken sandwiches, locally grown eggs and dairy products (which are also sold at several of the local restaurants), and more. Again, no tummy issues presented themselves, just feelings of satisfaction, satiation, and pure happiness. 

I came back to SoCal to my parents' house and we all decided on grilled salmon for dinner, which also used to be one of my favorites. To say I was excited would be an understatement. Salad, bread, and veggies accompanied the grilled favorite, as they usually do, and I took my first bite and fell back in love. A big smile forced itself upon my face and contagiously spread to my parent's faces, too :) 

 grilled salmon (long-time love of my life) + fresh salad + grilled veggies + bread & wine on the side. 

grilled salmon (long-time love of my life) + fresh salad + grilled veggies + bread & wine on the side. 

So, that's about as far as the story goes, in terms of my progression in re-introducing animal products. Onto the questions!

WHAT WERE THE EASIEST FOODS TO RE-INTRODUCE? THE HARDEST?

The first thing I ate was a fried egg, whipped up oh-so-perfectly by my girl Jeannette. My first bite was a liiiiiiittle strange, as I did come to find egg yolks kind of disgusting, but I kept an open mind and actually ended up loving it! From there, I went on to eggs more often (one or two everyday) and then a little bit of fancy cheese. From what I can remember, the cheese didn't give me any stomach aches. 

Surprisingly, I didn't really struggle to re-introduce animal products. Red meat has never really sounded appealing, so I don't see that coming into my diet any time soon, but other than that, with only a little hesitation the first time, I've bitten into plenty of old favorites like grilled salmon, fried eggs, fancy cheese, and ice cream without a second thought!

 Hearty Grains bread from  Breaking Bread SLO  topped w/  NuttZo Peanut Pro crunchy  + honey. 

Hearty Grains bread from Breaking Bread SLO topped w/ NuttZo Peanut Pro crunchy + honey. 

HOW DO I PREVENT DISORDERED EATING THOUGHTS/BEHAVIORS TOWARDS FOODS I HAVEN'T INCLUDED FOR SO LONG?

Take every step slowly. Breathe. Be mindful and present in the moment. Listen to my body and rid my mind of "good" foods and "bad" foods. 

Those are my main reminders when I'm feeling iffy about anything food-related. Though I've never really struggled with binge-eating, I know the feeling of long-time restriction followed by freedom, and what the diet-mentality can do in that situation. This is probably the first time EVER I've been the most "free" and "flexible" with my diet. Before I went vegan, I was deep in my eating disorder, so everything I ate was just a certain number of calories, protein, fat, carbs, sugars, etc. When I went vegan, I found other ways to restrict and prolong my eating disorder. Now, I'm breathing all of that out, letting it go without a kiss goodbye, and just allowing myself to be. To eat. To live. 

Again, I'm not saying that a vegan diet is horribly restrictive and creates eating disorders. It was actually helpful for me in recovering from mine in some ways. But, I'm just following what God puts on my heart and, right now, He's leading me out of veganism. 

 ice cream cookie sandwich from  Batch  in SLO. 

ice cream cookie sandwich from Batch in SLO. 

HOW DO I FEEL IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS?

Ten times better. Ten times happier. Ten times more included. Now, I'm not saying that going vegan will automatically exclude you in social situations and change your relationships for the worse. For me, however, food is HUGE when it comes to community. I see it as a way to bring loved ones and friends and even strangers together. When the menu wasn't vegan or, worse, didn't have any vegan options, the community aspect for myself changed.

When I ate vegan, specifically with others (i.e. at restaurants, family dinners, get-togethers, etc.) I often felt like the "odd one out". Sometimes, I'd be eating a simple meal of tofu and veggies and the like, and other times I'd find a yummy vegan burger or something. The former often left me feeling more excluded than the latter, yet both options seemed to do the same, to some extent. During my first year-and-a-half-ish of being vegan, this didn't bug me as much as it did recently. I knew that my vegan food choices benefitted the environment and the animals I care about, benefits that outweighed a little bit of perceived social exclusion. And that's all I thought it was - perceived. But, the more I saw others enjoying their meal and sharing it with each other - exchanging bites off of plates and "mmmm"-ing at each dish, the less perceived and more real the exclusion felt.

Being a vegan, social situations and gatherings didn't always offer plenty of vegan options, aside from salad and veggies, for me to do the same. However, as of late, I began to resent that exclusion more and more and feel that God was telling me it isn't just perceived. It's real and it's affecting my enjoyment of time with loved ones, especially around food, which is probably my favorite type of social situation. 

Now that I'm not vegan, I feel more relaxed in all food-involving social situations. I feel more included. I no longer feel like I'm standing outside the circle, looking in, at everyone else. I don't feel like "the weird one" over there eating tofu (which isn't weird to me, but its not uncommon for others to see common vegan options as weird) and whatever else is meat-, dairy-, egg-free. 

I forgot, until recently, how much I absolutely LOVE appetizers like fancy cheese and sardines, though the sardines are mostly a thing between my dad and I. I forgot how powerful of a rope food is when it comes to tying people together. So, all in all, I'm loving the cheese before dinner. I'm loving the salmon at dinner. I'm loving the ice cream dates with friends. I'm loving that I can say "yes" when offered a bite of someone's cheesy grilled chicken panini from my favorite local cafe. I'm loving the "mmmmm" I can share with everyone at the table :)

 ice cream assortment from  Bert & Rocky's  in Claremont. 

ice cream assortment from Bert & Rocky's in Claremont. 

HOW HAS MY BODY HANDLED THE CHANGE?

Like. A. Champ. And as I said before, I'm taking this as God's way of assuring me and encouraging me in this change. 

I feel stronger, like my muscles are loving the added protein and iron. I feel more energized and focused, like my mind isn't constantly thinking about food/when my snack or meal is/how bloated the last meal left me. My skin did breakout a little bit during the first week, probably because of the dairy, but it wasn't unbearable and it has disappeared. Other than that, I'm easing myself into meat because the protein is definitely filling me up quicker than tofu/tempeh/beans did and eating too much protein is just not fun. 

Oh, and I'm not saying correlation = causation here, but there's gotta' be something to the fact that I can run again?! I'm not logging 10-15 miles a week like I used to, but even the 2 miles I am running feel amazing and I'm excited to see where this could go!

  Siggi's (omgiloveyousiggi) plain yogurt  +  NuttZo Chocolate Power Fuel  + white nectarine for a post-workout breakfast.

Siggi's (omgiloveyousiggi) plain yogurt + NuttZo Chocolate Power Fuel + white nectarine for a post-workout breakfast.

HOW AM I STILL KEEPING SUSTAINABILITY AND ETHICAL TREATMENT IN MIND? 

I'm buying local as much as possible. Lassen's is just down the street from me at my place in SLO, and finding locally produced eggs and cheeses is easier than I thought! Meat hasn't yet made it in my shopping cart, but I know of a few local farmers who produce chicken and the like, so I will have a friendly face to turn to when I'm ready. 

Some have asked me how I can stomach animal products when I now know the "truth" behind animal agriculture. Honestly, I didn't think I ever could, but God has showed me that, right now, my own physical and emotional health and my relationships with loved ones are more important than worrying about animal agriculture. Besides, how much of a difference would I be making or not making by switching from vegan to a diet that is most just eggs and yogurt, some meat here and there? I don't know. I can't explain much of this answer, but all I can say is that this is what God is calling me to in the moment. I can't control animal agriculture, but I can control the products I purchase. 

So, that's all I've got for this update! I hope anyone going through a similar transition found it helpful - you're not alone. I hope I haven't offended anyone, but that I've encouraged you all to follow the directions God lays on your heart because, though they may seem scary sometimes, He will not mislead you. 

Still have questions? Comments? Leave them below or send me an email. I love to hear from you! 

 my #1 girl. 

my #1 girl. 

 another gem,  Jeannette  :) 

another gem, Jeannette :) 

 happy hour at  Luna Red SLO  ft. burgers + lotttssa dranks + my favorite girls!

happy hour at Luna Red SLO ft. burgers + lotttssa dranks + my favorite girls!

Feeding My Soul (Hint: I ate an egg for the first time in 2 years)

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen15 Comments

KAY. So, I've wanted to write this for a while because it's been not only on my mind but also on my heart and, let's be honest, once God lays something on your heart, there's no going back. I've talked about this with myself, my family, and my closest friends - the people who know me best. 

Most of all, I've just listened to my heart because I know that's where God speaks to me, encourages me. 

*deep breath*

I am no longer following a vegan diet.

 vegan & GF donuts from  SLO Do Co. 

vegan & GF donuts from SLO Do Co. 

To give you the shortest possible version of my food history - for the past two years, I've been eating nothing but plants. Before that, I ate mostly plants with some fish, some dairy, and eggs. Aaaaand before that, my plate was mostly lean meat and green veggies (not a fantastic time in my life). I chose to adopt a vegetarian diet during my freshman year of college to experiment with food and challenge myself to step out of my basically Paleo comfort zone - try beans, include more grains, and loosen up my rigid food and fitness "rules". Then, with some encouragement from fellow bloggers and my own research on animal products, the cruelty of animal agriculture, and the environmental impact of producing meat and dairy, I just couldn't give myself another spoonful of Greek yogurt or another egg. Veganism called my name and I couldn't have felt more confident in hearing it out. 

God introduced me to veganism as part of my healing process, and it sure did do its job. I've never been healthier, happier, or more comfortable around food. 

Oh, except animal products. Now, this is where we start. 

 Dad's newly famous homemade mojitos 

Dad's newly famous homemade mojitos 

I haven't been craving any chicken or steak or even yogurt or eggs, really. Grocery store shelves nowadays are stocked full of dairy-free and vegan alternatives, so I never feel "deprived" of the foods I crave, if I ever do want a fruit and granola parfait over some almond yogurt or some cream "cheese" on my bagel or tempeh "bacon", and so on. 

In terms of nutrition, a vegan diet never left me feeling deprived. In fact, I almost always felt strong, healthy, satisfied, and well-nourished on the foods available to me, whether at home in my own kitchen or out at a restaurant. However, when it comes to community and bonding, I often felt emotionally deprived and left out, as I could not participate in sharing the experience of many foods with friends and family. 

God has, with all the love and mercy and grace imaginable (and probably even more), shown me that food is so much more than I could ever understand. Food is not just calories. It's celebration, emotional medicine, nostalgia and comfort, and more in various situations. I value food and the time I spend with it, whether that be baking cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning in the kitchen before everyone else is awake, or sharing a loaded pizza with my best friends as we sip our wine and watch movies on a Friday night. 

I no longer look at food only through my nutrition lens. God gave me lenses to see food as a blessing to be cherished and shared and enjoyed on a daily basis. THANK YOU. Now, I can look at packaged foods without disgust. I can purchase food without always checking the ingredient label. I can go out for a meal with friends without inputting the calories of the menu item I planned to order and make sure all the macros "fit" (ugh). And yes, I did all that on a vegan diet for the past two years. No more restrictions. 

 zoodles + cashew alfredo sauce + homemade black bean meatballs + homemade panzanella salad (coming soon) + fried egg (!!!!)

zoodles + cashew alfredo sauce + homemade black bean meatballs + homemade panzanella salad (coming soon) + fried egg (!!!!)

No. More. Restrictions. 

Now, I find that even my vegan lenses are hard to look through. I don't look at egg-and-avocado-toast with disgust and I don't question how in the world people can eat Greek yogurt or stir a touch of cream into their coffee. 

For me, veganism wasn't about health. Sure, eggs have more cholesterol than what our bodies might need in a day and meat might have too much protein and blah blah blah. There are, most certainly, health benefits within the vegan diet, but I didn't choose the diet for those reasons. I simply could not bring myself to purchase a carton of eggs from the supermarket after seeing the coops. I could not purchase chicken or fish or even dairy after seeing how these animals are treated on farms and how the agricultural practices required contributed to the environmental decline of the planet we know and (need to show more) love. 

Research and documentaries equipped me with arguments and support and evidence I needed to prove and stand up for myself when my belief in the power of a vegan diet was put to the test (can't even tell you how many times that happened). However, evidence or no evidence, it was always for me. This is MY body and I will take care of it how I know and feel best. At the time, that was a plate full of plants (and sometimes cake, but still derived from only plants). 

My diet is still for me. It always will be. So, to admit that I'm having trouble writing this mainly because I feel the need to explain myself to readers/followers/etc., feels weird. It's my diet, so why should I have to justify it? Well, I actually do want to explain myself because I want to be able to set the best example I can and, of course, always be honest. That being said, I will explain this to the best of my abilities.

 roasted sweet potato wedges + cashew cream sauce from Cafe Gratitude

roasted sweet potato wedges + cashew cream sauce from Cafe Gratitude

If I had thought of the vegan diet as "restrictive", I would've dropped it months ago. And I'm not dropping it now because I'm suddenly seeing restriction, but rather because my interests and passions have evolved, just like I am constantly changing and learning and growing, too. Right now, I want to squeeze every last bit of life and happiness and enjoyment from any moment I can. And right now, that means sharing pizza with fresh mozzarella with a friend, or a dinner date of sushi with my dad (it's always been our thing), or that luscious buttery scone from the local bakery that calls my name every. weekend. morning. 

I've said this a million times by now, but food is SO MUCH MORE than just fuel. For years, I chose not to participate in that pizza and sushi and scones - and, even more so, the connection and community that provide the true richness in those situations. In the moment I made those decisions with like 99% total confidence. However, maybe that remaining 1% of feeling like I want to enjoy this time with friends/family/whoever has finally added up and I don't have any more room to say "no thank you, I'm vegan". 

Right now, my contribution to saving the planet by subbing tofu for the eggs on that menu item are not as important to me as bonding with my friends and family over our egg-and-avocado-toast (or whatever the substitution may be). 

 Cafe Gratitude: I Am Local Salad + I Am Giving Chef's Seasonal Pizza

Cafe Gratitude: I Am Local Salad + I Am Giving Chef's Seasonal Pizza

As I immerse myself deeper and deeper into the practice of Intuitive Eating, I find through listening to my body that sometimes a *gasp* non-vegan scone DOES sound good. Listening to the body involves more than just hunger cues - how about what my emotions are craving, too? As much joy as I find in discovering a delicious vegan scone, I know I can find incomparable joy in developing relationships and creating memories with my loved ones sans the inconvenience of having to search for a vegan scone or just go home without one while everyone else enjoys theirs. 

Throughout the past two years, the most popular question I've been asked is: what do you miss most/what is the hardest part of following a vegan diet? 

My answer: I miss the ease of food. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely adore experimenting in the kitchen with vegan food. Vegan baking, vegan cheeses, and vegan takes on classic meat-lover favorites - what could be more fun for a college girl? (some might say quite a bit... but anyway) I miss being able to go out for sushi with my dad. I miss sharing fancy cheese with my mom before dinner. I miss licking ice cream off the cone on the beach with my friends. I miss spontaneity. I miss not having to settle for a wimpy salad when I'm out with my friends. I miss the days when "Haley, can you eat something there?" didn't precede every dinner plan. 

Right now, I am not feeling as passionate about a vegan diet as I am about enjoying all foods my body wants and nurturing my relationships with loved ones and new ones. 

 avocado toast + fresh watermelon + purple cabbage + homegrown yellow tomato, all shared with @sweatysweetpotato

avocado toast + fresh watermelon + purple cabbage + homegrown yellow tomato, all shared with @sweatysweetpotato

I do have somewhat of a plan for this transition. Oh, and I've been slowly incorporating small amounts of eggs and dairy everyday - my tummy and body and mind and soul are SO happy. I feel absolutely fine eating just a few non-vegan items (i.e. one or two eggs, a bite of cheese, etc.) once a day or so. Because I AM still passionate for taking steps necessary to increase awareness for environmental sustainability and ethical animal treatment, I will be as cautious and informed as possible when I make non-vegan food choices. My family buys our eggs from a farmer just down the street, and we've seen his practice and could not be happier with it. Any dairy I consume, I will check and ensure that the cows are as happy as possible at the dairy. As for fish and meat, I will let you know when I get there. 

Just because I'm not passionate about living a full-on vegan lifestyle at this point in my life does not make me a different person or a bad person or anything different than the girl I am. My dietary choices do not define me, whether it's a kale salad and a veggie burger or an egg sandwich and a bite of salmon (which, by the way, was my absolute favorite food ever). 

I share this with you because honesty is a priority as much as setting a healthy, encouraging, attainable example is. I ask for your support and understanding in this process and appreciate those of you who have already shown me more than I could ask for :) 

 red sangria from  Luna Red  - thank you for introducing me to this magical juice. 

red sangria from Luna Red - thank you for introducing me to this magical juice. 

Imperfect and Perfectly Loved

Life, Faith, HealthHaley Hansen1 Comment

If there's one thing I might always get wrong about my faith...

... it's the fact that I'm imperfect. While such a statement may sound quite big-headed of me, it's completely true and it deserves a post here because it's also complicated. 

 didn't even bring my Bible. just wrote. cried. wrote some more. then cried and smiled. 

didn't even bring my Bible. just wrote. cried. wrote some more. then cried and smiled. 

What I am NOT saying here is that I think I am perfect. I wouldn't have committed this thing called "life" to Jesus if I thought myself perfect and equipped and strong enough to handle it on my own, you know? What I AM saying is that I expect myself to be perfect. And since my baptism last year, I've battled thoughts that tell me I should be "all clean" and "free of sin" now that I've given it to God. 

Like, these types of things...

  • those eating-disorder-thoughts - you know the ones. How much fat is in that? Did you look at the menu before you made dinner plans? No workout today? You better not eat that ice cream. 
  • those self-comparison joy-suckers - maybe you know these, too. Cool - her legs in those shorts make mine look like poorly stuffed Italian sausages. She got an A in that class, and I barely squeezed by with a C? There go my chances of landing an internship. 
  • (my personal "favorite", which really just means the one I most frequently find myself dancing with) those idolatrous traps - okay, these are undeniable. I can't stop thinking about him. Ugh, I need like three glasses of wine tonight. 

You feel me? And by the way, by no means am I proclaiming myself sin-free and perfect here. I'm doing the opposite, but you have to keep reading to find out more. 

So, this tidal wave of feelings hit me tonight. The wave had been building and building for I-don't-even-know-how-long and tonight it crashed on me. Was it coincidental that I found myself next to the beach? Ehh, debatable. 

 a random little bench in a breath-taking neighborhood nestled along the Pismo Beach coast.

a random little bench in a breath-taking neighborhood nestled along the Pismo Beach coast.

It was one of those weeks during which this event kicked it off on the wrong foot, then I tripped over that, and then this other thing bit me in the butt, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, by mid-afternoon today - heck, even midnight last night - I was pretty much a tearful mess (who had gotten dressed up and made it out with her girls for a night of fun) running out off the dance floor because I just couldn't. Thankfully, my best friend was on my comfy bed at home, waiting for me to come stain her shirt with my tears. What a keeper. 

My point: I broke. Throughout the entire week and weeks prior, I'd been wondering with frustration and flecks of guilt as to why I can't get my mind off this, that, and the other thing, and back onto Jesus. Haley, where is the faith you used to hold so close to your heart? To where have your eyes diverted? What's inhibiting you from refocusing? Get your sh!t together. 

Haha, my sh!t's all over the place, dude. And I realized that tonight, hopped in my car, drove myself to the beach to escape any and all responsibilities for at least a half-hour, and immerse my every last bit of energy and emotion into God. Best decision I've made in... a l o n g time. 

I sat and stared at the waves as I let my own waves crash upon themselves in my eyes. Lord, I desire you. I've committed my life to you. But WHY can't I focus on you, worship no one but you, and always find my peace/joy/trust in you? Why do I mess up so much? 

Well, it's because I'm imperfect. And I'm here, on this public park bench (as passersby politely assume I'm all good), wiping my own tears yet smiling at the same time as I realize that, as utterly imperfect as I am, I am even more so perfectly loved. And that's why I'm here. 

I may never - no, I will never - reach a point of smooth sailing, during which fears don't creep in and lies don't sound truthful and people don't become my idols. I am human and I am imperfect. I may also never - no, I will never - fall out of the arms of the perfectly loving Savior, for whom not even Shakespeare's words would come close to doing justice.

I am human and I am imperfect and yet I am perfectly loved. 

You might be wondering if any of this applies to you, eh? IT DOES :) I never want to end a blog post, especially a more personal one like this, without providing you some proof and resources where you can see for yourself that this is true. I explored some blogs and whatnot, and found this from Bible Study Tools. One of my biggest takeaways from reading it: "Unconditional love does not mean that God loves everything we do, but rather His love is so intense that He loves every sinner, no matter how vile and despicable he or she may be in they eyes of humanity, so much that He provides a way for them to find love, life, and holiness (John 3:16)". 

The post introduced me to this verse, which I hadn't read until now...

... he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sings, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
— Titus 3:5, NLT

Oh, and if you didn't know this, the book of Isaiah is probably one of my favorites of the entire Bible. So, I will always provide you with verses from there. Just sayin'. I read through it last year and still find myself breathless at many of God's words...

... Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands...
— Isaiah 49:15-16, NLT

One more, and beware - this one will get you. 

But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed...
— Isaiah 53:5-6, NLT

And I leave you with this - a quote from one of my favorite books, Idols of the Heart: 

The struggle against the sin in our heart is precious because by it we learn what a great price the Lord Jesus has paid. It is in this struggle that we learn to trust Him and to distrust ourselves, to hate sin and love holiness, to cultivate humility and to long for heaven. And in the midst of it all, we’ll learn the joy of obedience and the happiness that is found only in loving God.
— Elyse Fitzpatrick

Accepting and Embracing

Life, Faith, HealthHaley Hansen10 Comments

Emphasis on the "and". Keep that in mind. 

When I think about the things - the events, the mistakes, the issues, maybe even the people - I accept and the things - the experiences, the successes, the surprises, and the loved ones - I embrace, I sometimes think I should replace the word "and" with "versus" because there's a difference between the two. Right? There are some things in my life I just accept and move along with, and some things I embrace and kiss and squeeze and cherish. 

Two different things. Right? 

Not always. 

As life has done its thing throughout the past six or seven months, two dense clouds have fogged up a chunk of my brain. Not to the point of interfering with my daily functioning, but just enough to... well, cause "weather changes" (if you will) that hinder my thoughts. Both of these clouds have everything to do with this topic of "accepting and embracing".

1) Weight gain. 

Truthfully, I didn't think I'd be writing this. Ever. I didn't think I'd ever struggle with weight or body image ever again. That was two years ago, when two years prior to that, "accepting and embracing" was just not something I did. Heck, if I had done that, life as I know it now would probably be very different (but we won't get into that because how do I even know/who even cares/that involves a lot of thinking and it could be its own blog post). My eating disorder began because I refused to accept and embrace. I swore to myself I would change my eating habits and my outward appearance. And I did. And I maintained that weight - and the consequential nagging need to always portray "perfection" - for somewhere around a year or two...

... Which brings us here. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything - I've gained weight. I've tried to forget about it, ignore mirrors, etc. to pretend it hasn't happened, but it has. My first little taste of acceptance of weight gain did not taste good. I practically (and theoretically) gagged. No! I have NOT gained weight and I will not. I've worked too hard to get where I am, I feel good both physically and emotionally and this weight gain isn't necessary. 

Those thoughts intruded, unwelcomed I knew, yet I let them hang out and direct my actions. Unlike the last time they barged into my life - four years ago - this time, no change in my physical appearance happened. I didn't lose weight like I wanted to and I felt even worse because of it. 

Thankfully, I have a life that distracts me from such potentially destructive thoughts, and as life has gone on over the past few months, those thoughts have lost some of their energy. In other words, this is the "acceptance" part. I didn't necessarily welcome the extra weight, but I did turn my attention away, to more pressing priorities like school, blogging, family, friends, etc. However, this was not without the personal promise to return to these thoughts and eliminate the weight. 

A C C E P T.

If I could identify the "turning point", I would explain it in all of its glorious detail, but I can't think of one. So, something just clicked in my brain, I guess. That click probably hit the '"embrace" button. 

Finally, I began seeing the image - not just the body, but the person, the beauty - in the mirror looking back at me. FINALLY. The "click" reminded me that, my lower weight left me with more stress about food and what I was eating or not eating and the fact that I was damaging my body than my higher weight did about just weighing more and having a bit (emphasis - A BIT) of extra tummy cushion ever will. Like, wow. Duh. 

 E M B R A C E. 

Finally, I've reached a weight that doesn't leave my stomach growling, my knees aching, and my stress levels through the roof around one of life's pleasures I absolutely adore - F O O D. I'm at a weight that's about 8-10 pounds heavier than what I wanted a year ago and a jean size 2 sizes wider than before, but who. really. cares. 

I can go out to eat with friends without needing to analyze the menu beforehand and plan out what I'd order according to what's left in my calorie intake for the day (though I still look at the menu to get pumped for F O O D). I can dig a spoon into my favorite peanut butter at any hour of the night and enjoy it, even if it's 11 PM and I'm going to bed soon. I can drool over vegan double chocolate brownies that may not be low-carb or low-sugar or whole-grain and made with simple ingredients. 

I can embrace my body. 

 me, making love to one of Minimalist Baker's  lentil sloppy joe's  in my favorite class EVER. 

me, making love to one of Minimalist Baker's lentil sloppy joe's in my favorite class EVER. 

I. 

CAN. 

My advice to you, you ask? 

The amazing woman behind the Food Psych podcast - Christy Harrison - reminded me that everything good and valuable and worthwhile, like my period, healthy joints, hydrated skin, strong hair and nails, etc., have only come with the addition of extra weight. So, I can have a thin figure that I may see as and that I hope others may see as "desirable", OR I can have actual health, a physique that isn't pain when forced to workout, a body that fits. 

What does that look like for you? 

Some of my favorite inspirations: Kylie, Christy, Robyn, and Alexis

2) Faith. 

This one is harder to put into words, and quite honestly, I haven't wanted to try for a long time. But, last Sunday as I went through the usual motions of church, Psalm 8 was presented and I will be forever thankful for it (and every other Bible verse, of course, but this one particularly): 

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
— Psalm 8:3-4, NLT

And here I am, concerned about keeping up with Instagram posts, ace-ing my psych midterm, prepping pecans for pecan milk (not to discredit its deliciousness), and comparatively useless, fleeting obsessions more than I am motivated to open my Bible, even to ask the Lord why these idolatrous thoughts are again taking over. 

As you can see, much of this has had to do with idols - the things and people and practices I prioritize before my God. Been there, done that. And I must say, I'm really not cool with hanging out here for much longer. What a perfect depiction of God's mercy and grace that He would present me with this verse amidst perhaps one of the deepest dives I've taken into this cyclic world of idolatry. 

A C C E P T. I recognize that I have fallen off track. I see the things/people/etc that have contributed to my distraction. I am here, and it is okay. I am human, and I am imperfect.

The book of Isaiah will probably be my forever-favorite of anything, and as I read through my summary/what I learned from it, I'm reminded yet again the simple blessing it is to have a relationship with God. Heck, I can even consider this uncomfortable confusing place a blessing. 

E M B R A C E. I thank God for this place. I thank God for the fact that my faith isn't stagnant or boring, but rather always challenging me and pulling me closer to Him. I am still imperfect and will always be, but I embrace the God who has always embraced me. 

Am I completely comfortable yet? No. I'm still trying to figure out my faith, and as I said before, that's one of the benefits of a challenging faith - it pushes you into growth and pulls you toward the Creator of it. Part of me didn't even know if I wanted or needed to share this, but I did share it because doing so is an important part of my faith. I wouldn't have recovered from my eating disorder had I not leaned on the Lord (and part of my current struggle with food is because I haven't been leaning on Him - duh, Haley), and the majority of this blog is about me, my recovery, and my life walking as close as I can behind God. So, sharing this would only make sense. 

Ahhhh. So, I hope that has made some sort of sense. I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think anyone else could relate or gain something from it. If you've made it this far, thank you. Your support and dedication to my blog means almost as much as the blog itself! 

Can you relate? Is there anything I can help with or you can help me with? Leave a comment down below!