Black Bean Brownies

Confession (/humblebrag):

I once made a pumpkin pie out of tofu and served it up to my family at Thanksgiving.  They happily gobbled it down and were none the wiser.  “They’re totally eating tofu and they totally don’t know it,” I thought as I suppressed the maniacal laughter welling up inside of me.  (Sometimes there are a lot of ‘totallys’ in my vocabulary.)

This is a true story and to this day, my family still doesn’t know.  If any of you are reading this, sorry (not sorry).

Anyways, I’m back at it.  I’m putting beans in brownies and you’ll be none the wiser.

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I used this recipe, which happens to be gluten-free and can be made vegan.  The only change I made was to add some chopped walnuts because I don’t think a brownie is a proper brownie without walnuts.

They were dense, fudgey, and chocolate-y enough to mask any hint of bean.  If you’ve ever had a chocolate brownie Clif Z Bar, that’s what these reminded me of.

There are not many better feelings in the world than sneaking something healthy into unaware loved ones.  It’s true.

Spinach in smoothies, tofu in pie, beans in brownies…

Do you have any secretly healthy recipes you love?  Tell me about them!

I think butternut squash mac and cheese will be my next endeavor.

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Bite of the World: Kimchi

Today marks the start of a new segment on this blog: Bite of the World.  One of my biggest passions in life is the exploration of cultures through their cuisine.  It’s such an easy way to bring international adventure into your life when your budget might not afford you trips around the world.  In this series, I’ll put the spotlight on various dishes from around the globe.

It may or may not be obvious that I dig Korean cuisine, so I thought this would be a great place to begin.

As a child, I was basically the opposite of adventurous.  Mushrooms gave me the creeps.  I would never think of touching an avocado.  My wimpy spice tolerance was maxed out at black pepper.

Undeniably stinky, spicy, and rather unattractive, kimchi is the embodiment of everything I would have hated as a youth.

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So what exactly is it?

Kimchi is a fermented side dish which is often found at every meal in the Korean culture.  Types of vegetables used in the preparation of kimchi vary, but you can commonly find it made with Napa cabbage.  Vegetables are combined with seasonings, spices, and/or other ingredients, and are then left to ferment.

Because of this fermentation, kimchi is full of probiotics (good gut bacteria) which you might know from things like yogurt and kefir.  In addition, vegetables used for kimchi are typically low-calorie with a good amount of fiber, a total pro for satiety and aiding in weight loss.  It can also be full of various vitamins, like A and C.

Kimchi can be found by the jar in Asian markets and I’ve even seen it in my local Trader Joe’s (and in case you’re interested, here are some kimchi recipes).

If you’re not brave enough to try it on its own, no worries.  Take a tip from the super hip fusion cuisine food trucks like Chi’Lantro, Coreanos, and Oh My Gogi and ease yourself into the world of kimchi by giving it an Mexican twist.  All the cool kids are doing it.

How I Passed the Registered Dietitian Exam

I quickly mentioned in my last post that I have completed my dietetic internship and succeeded in passing my RD exam on the first attempt.  What a joy!

The RD exam was everything, yet nothing, I expected it to be.

I have to be honest.  I felt like I studied my brains out.  I’m certain that I’ve never studied so much for an exam in my entire life.

You might be wondering what exactly I did to prepare.  Or you might not be wondering.  I’m going to tell you regardless.  (You’re welcome.)

For about a month after my internship ended, I relaxed.  The thought of going straight from the internship into RD exam study mode was too much, so I just let myself chill and soak up the fact that I was no longer an intern.  Any “studying” that I did during that time could be described as a brief glazing over of material that always ended with me thinking, “Nope, not happening.  Not yet.”

I scheduled my exam about one month out.  The first week, I was probably studying a few hours everyday.  During the following three weeks, though, I basically turned studying into a full-time job.

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Here are the tools I utilized:

Inman Study Guide (2013)

There’s a reason why the Inman review is so reputable.  I consider it the best tool I used for studying due to the fact that it was thorough, yet straight to the point, straight-forward, and well-organized.  The Inman Guide groups topics into domains as they are on the actual exam: Domain I: Principles of Dietetics, Domain II: Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups, Domain III: Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services, and Domain IV: Foodservice Systems.  This guide also came with a HUGE packet of practice questions.

I relied heavily on this guide.  I should also mention that I purchased this guide on Ebay.  My guide came from someone who had attended an in-person review course, thus, I did not have the audio CDs.  What I did have, though, were highlighted areas and notes with advice and tips for the exam that came straight from Jean Inman herself, which I found quite useful.

Overall, I do believe I would have been well-prepared for the RD exam if I used the Inman guide as my sole source of information.

Breeding & Associates Flashcards

I obtained these Q/A cards in a Word document from a previous intern and created my own hand-written flashcards.  This was definitely a lot of work, and for me, it was minimally helpful.  I believe these should definitely be used as an adjunct to another resource.

Breeding & Associates Study Guide (2012)

This was another resource given to me from a former intern.  It was, in my opinion, extremely thorough – almost too much so.  It was split up into several sections: Management and Food Service Systems, Medical Nutrition Therapy, Normal Nutrition, Food Science, Community Nutrition Services, and Education and Resources.  There were practice questions dispersed throughout the guide, which I liked.  I used this as somewhat of a follow-up to the Inman guide, using it mainly for concepts I needed to spend additional time on.

My study method:

I started with the sections in which I felt weakest and continued from there.  The way I study for the most part is quite boring: I’ll read and re-read until my eyes feel like they will fall out.  As I read, I’ll make note of any concepts I feel I need spend additional time on.  In addition to reading and some writing, I had a couple study sessions with a fellow “RD to be” which I considered extremely helpful.  It’s really great to work through concepts out loud with someone else as opposed to having an internal dialogue with yourself when you may or may not already be brain-dead.

Of course, at this point in your journey, it’s probably safe to say that you know which studying methods suit you best.  Go with what works for you!

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Opinions on the Exam:

Having studied such a large amount of information for a 125-145 question exam, I knew I wouldn’t be tested on every single thing I had learned.  That being said, SO MUCH of what I spent hours studying, deliberately memorizing, did not appear on my exam.  In spite of this, I do not regret the amount of time and effort I put into studying.  It’s impossible to predict which questions you will get, so it’s best to be well-prepared in all domains.

Overall:

The RD exam is absolutely passable.  Try not to get too bogged down in nitty gritty details, but focus on having a solid understanding of general concepts.  Though it might be against every fiber in your nutrition-loving being, it’s okay to not know everything.  Be confident in your knowledge and test smart!

Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions!

An Update

February 23rd.  That’s the last time I posted on this precious little blog of mine.

Goodness gracious.

So much has happened in that time.  I turned 23, successfully completed and graduated from my dietetic internship, saw two sweet friends get married, PASSED MY RD EXAM, roadtripped to Orlando to visit Disneyworld and Harry Potter land, and attended the national FNCE (which was conveniently held in Houston).  I had a wonderful time getting my fair share of knowledge and free loot from FNCE (and in case you didn’t know, insulated string cheese carrying cases are totally a thing).

I took a break from blogging to focus on other important areas of life, but the fact of the matter is…I love blogging!  I have a strong desire to put forth solid content – things that not only I enjoy, but that others might find enjoyable as well.  That said, I’m taking a bit more time to regroup, update, and refocus.

Great things are on the way

Truth.

Becoming an official Registered Dietitian has brought me to a new stage in life.  If I was any more excited, I think my head might pop off.  Though I have succeeded in achieving my goal of becoming an RD, the adventure surely does not stop now.  Wherever I’m headed, I plan to take you with me.

Magic Kingdom

Just as magical as I had expected.

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Where my HP fans at?

Honeydukes

Sucker for a checkered floor.

Amy's Ice Cream

May I forever be the kind of dietitian that finds a place for ice cream. Amen amen.

saturdays with beth and roast chicken

A couple years back, two of my good friends and I got together bi-weekly for a Bible study.

We called it “Saturdays with Beth” (Beth Moore) and it was supreme.

Every time we got together, we would first make a meal and then jump into whatever God wanted to show us in that week’s lesson.  Food + friends + Jesus is such a winning combination, in case you didn’t know.

Eggplant parmesan, huevos rancheros, and breakfast for dinner are just a few meals that come to mind when I think of our culinary endeavors.  Don’t think that we forgot dessert either.  Our strawberry shortcake is what dreams are made of.

Everything was memorable, but one of my favorite moments was enjoying the blissful aromas and flavors of a classic roast chicken.

Is it normal to think of chicken as blissful?  Never mind.

If I remember correctly, we demolished that chicken barbarian style whilst standing up in my friend’s black and white tiled kitchen, STRAIGHT OUT OF THE PAN.  Classy dames, we were.  The fact of the matter is, it was just that good.

Today, after far, far too long, I finally made a roast chicken myself and all those keen memories came rushing back into my brain.

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Happy day.

There’s something just so classy and comforting about a whole roast chicken.  Never mind the fact that it’s super simple.

I went with this recipe for my little chicken (I used sweet onion in place of garlic because it’s what I had).  I don’t have a meat thermometer, but an easy tip to check for doneness is to cut into the meatiest part of the bird and if the juices run clear, you’re good to go.

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Fall-off-the-bone tender, juicy…AKA everything you could ever want in a roast chicken.

The skin gets crispy, too, if you’re into that.

Now that roast chicken is back in my life, I don’t ever see it leaving.  In fact, I foresee it as a staple.  Having a friend over for dinner?  Roast chicken.  Need something for lunch tomorrow?  Roast chicken.  Don’t know what to do with the leftover bones?  Homemade chicken stock ftw.

I’d like to think of our Saturdays with Beth as a glimpse into our culinary potential.

Let’s just disregard the time we tried to make s’mores out of saltines, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows…

the waffle bus

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A happy accident.  That was this.

Whilst shopping in Rice Village on a glorious sunny Saturday, I saw The Waffle Bus perched conveniently outside Urban Outfitters.

Since I’m completely awkward, and I think lingering is weirder than slinking, I slinked back and forth in front of the menu a couple times to see what they had to offer.

(Pure bliss is essentially what they had to offer.)

The masterminds behind the Waffle Bus offer both sweet and savory sandwiches including a smores sandwich and a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich.

Most of the time when I check out a food truck, I ask whoever’s taking my order to give me a recommendation.  Then I go with that.  It’s never turned out negatively.

This time around, I went with their most popular sandwich, the buttermilk fried chicken because: 1) just let me live, and 2) there is room for everything in a healthy diet.

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My hangry photography is a lost cause, but you guys.  This combo ruled.

I have always heard of combining chicken and waffles, but had never tried it myself.  The sweet/savory action is a total winner.

What I liked about the Waffle Bus’s take was that their waffle was not overly sweet.  The flavor was mellow, yet enough for it to hold its own against the salty, savory chicken.

The sauce I got was a spicy mayo which was great, but they had 3 other options that I am sure would have been just as awesome.

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I may or may not be craving this right now.  At 9 in the morning.

This was my very first Houston food truck experience* and there’s no chance that it will be my last.  Seriously.  I have a legitimate ongoing list of trucks I’m dying to check out.  Bernie’s Burger Bus has gotten some rave reviews, and I’m all for fusion cuisine.

In other news, I’m a little less than 6 months away from graduating from my internship!  Some days I’m completely dumbfounded and left wondering where the heck the last 6 months went.

I’ve been having a blast.  Here’s to a solid next 6 months!

*Edited to add: Just kidding.  Totally forgot I tried It’s a Wrap when I was shopping at the Discovery Green flea market, but it was a tad underwhelming.  Certainly not bad, but nothing to write home about!

new year

As the Facebook resolution posts and Groupons for boot camp and yoga flood into my life, I want to really reflect on what a great year 2012 was.

This was a year for the books. Big things and little things that added up to big things are what made the year incredible. Let me reminisce real quick.

I ran my first 5k.  A goofy picture of me featured here.
158I got a managerial position at my favorite place of work.
rec centerI bailed on studying for my biochem final to take a 4th of July trip to San Diego with a couple good friends.  (No regrets.)
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I formed tight friendships with my classmates.
221I won at bingo for the first (and probably last) time ever.
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I graduated cum laude.
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I moved to Texas (and brought a little piece of Vegas with me).
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I started my dietetic internship. And grad school!
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2012 brought some of the most significant changes into my life thus far. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that God’s timing is ALWAYS right. Anyone remember the E! True Hollywood stories when the celebrity would start the show off with saying, “You think you know, but you have no idea”? That’s how I feel about my own life sometimes. I think I have things figured out; a plan that I consider perfect for myself. But then I step back and remember that my life is in the hands of the Creator and whatever He has in store for me is lightyears better than any amateur plan I can concoct. God gives you things when you’re ready and not a second before.

Most days, my heart feels like it’s about to burst from the amount of joy the Lord has blessed me with.  The blessings have been constant.  I found out how truly different life can be when your focus is in the right place (hint: the right place is not yourself) ((note to self: always remember this)).

In the new year, I hope to dig in to the things that really move me.  Obtain and keep that can’t stop, won’t stop attitude.  Love and give unconditionally.  And maybe get a six-pack.  Just kidding.  Kind of.