Grocery Shopping

So I’ve noticed a lot of the time when I’m at home I have absolutely no self-restraint. If there are hostess cupcakes or cookies or even chocolate chips in the pantry, I’ll eat them all. I’ll genuinely dig into that bag of chocolate chips with a spoon and stand in the kitchen eating my pure chocolate and generally considering what exactly it is that has brought me to this point.

I’m also incredibly lazy when it comes to food preparation. If it takes more than 20 minutes I’m out, because most likely I’ve waited until the last minute of hunger to start preparing my meal. I usually end up snacking while making lunch or dinner because I just can’t wait any longer to eat.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. As a society we are generally very lazy human beings with limited self-restraint. Most people I know will not be able to ignore the pudding snacks in the pantry for long before tearing into them after supper.

When I first started living on my own at college I was in an apartment in London with several other girls. The fridge was a public venture and I only had one shelf to house my items; more than that, I could only buy food for a few days because the walk to and from the grocery store was so long that lugging a full bag of groceries would have slowly torn my arms off. And then I’d have been stuck at home trying to figure out how to eat my seven cans of soup with my feet.

I wasted a lot of food that first semester. I didn’t realize just how hard it can be to plan your meals around expiration dates and various events – I also didn’t yet realize that if you’re one person buying a loaf of bread, unless you eat two pieces of bread a day, you’d better freeze your damn bread. There were a lot of rookie mistakes to be made, and believe me, I still make rookie mistakes a lot.

But I did realize some things in my journey to becoming at least slightly capable of maintaining a full kitchen with healthy things, so here are my tips for sustaining yourself with nutritious things in our current society!

It all pivots upon a healthy grocery trip. Seriously. What I said earlier about having no self-restraint is true, and that’s why it’s important to only buy healthy foods when you’re shopping. If you allow yourself to be tempted by unhealthy snacks at the grocery store, then you’re going to end up eating them at home. But if you’re home and want something to snack on but all you have in your fridge is fruit and pretzels, then that’s what you’re going to eat.

Healthy doesn’t have to be boring. I’ve found a lot of snacks and desserts that I really enjoy that involve a little bit of unhealthy food paired with a little bit of healthy food. For example, I like to mix semi-sweet chocolate chips with craisins in a bowl. A good dinner that I’ll post about later is what I call Honey Apple Chicken, which is just making apples and chicken cooked in honey on the stove. It’s sweet and summery but healthy.

Buy basics once a week and buy fruits and augmentations more frequently. It’s best to go grocery shopping a few times a week, but only one time does it have to be a huge trip. I’ve gotten in the habit of buying bread, eggs, rice, pasta, cereal, peanut butter, etc. once a week, and then on my way home from class or at least a few times a week getting something for that night and the following night. Sometimes that’ll be an avocado to add to my eggs and toast, sometimes it’ll be apples to make the apple and chicken meal I mentioned, sometimes it’ll be veggies to put in a risotto. This helps to keep your day-to-day shopping trips lighter.

On Sunday night, figure out your dinner plans for the week. Especially if you’re on a budget, this can be really helpful because it means you won’t be buying extra things that you’ll never use. Last semester I had three cans of tuna sit on my shelf from August to December and I ended up throwing them out when it was time to move out. Only buy things that you’ll realistically prepare and eat, and get them just a few days before you eat them to ensure they don’t go bad.

I’m definitely not an expert in the least but if you’re heading off to college and you’re wondering what the hell you’re going to deal with the stress of grocery shopping, use these tips to avoid making some of the simple mistakes that I made at first. And if you have any other tips, leave a comment below!

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Curly Hair Don’t Care

If you have curly hair, then you know that summer is the season of bushy hair and broken ponytail holders. If you leave it down for more than a few hours it gets to be like a pyramid sitting atop your head. Small birds are probably living somewhere in there but you’ll never find them.

I used to hate my hair because I never knew what to do with it. I tried cutting it short – didn’t work, in fact that only made it bushier. I tried getting it layered but that also made it bushier. Turns out, thick curly hair needs to have weight to it so it pulls its own self down. I found that out the hard way.

I also found out that most gels and hairsprays don’t work. For awhile, I used the ‘No ‘poo’ method of hair care, which involves not using shampoo because most shampoos kill your curls. This method worked fairly well, but after awhile I felt like rubbing conditioner into my scalp wasn’t doing the washing trick, so I went back to shampoo – but this time I used TRESemmé Curl Hydration, and I haven’t looked back.

I still didn’t have a good hair product, though, until I bought this, the leave-in conditioner with the longest name on the planet: Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Curl Nourish Butter Cream.

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So my hair routine is usually this: I brush it out before getting in the shower, usually a big no-no, but it removes a lot of the extra hair that’s causing it to be so bushy. Then I shampoo and condition it, and comb through it with a wide-toothed comb. Once I get out, I towel-dry it but I NEVER, EVER, EVER comb or brush it AFTER a shower. While it’s still pretty wet (don’t let it dry too much before doing this), I liberally use the Garnier Fructis, which I usually refer to as “my actual lord and savior.” Then I just try not to ever touch my hair, ever, and viola! My curls are actual curls and my hair is relatively flat – or at least as flat as curly hair can ever be.

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Nama-what?

It was 4:00 in the afternoon and I found myself with nothing to do. I’d already completed my tasks for the day, watched a bit of Netflix, made banana bread, and spent far too many hours on YouTube.

It is at these crossroads that we all must look ourselves in the mirrors and say: who am I? Will I log onto tumblr and spend the next several hours of my life looking at Supernatural gifs and stupid jokes? Or will I make something of myself?

Most of the time the answer is the former, but today it was the latter (solely because I had leftover kale salad for lunch and was feeling pretty healthy and didn’t want to ruin my streak). So I opened YouTube and typed in “yoga for beginners.” One of the first videos was “Yoga for Complete Beginners” which sounded like me, so I clicked it.

It’s by a woman named Adrienne and she makes all sorts of different videos about yoga. She has one of those soft voices that you expect from yoga instructors and she’s encouraging, understanding, and somehow knew exactly when my shoulders were hurting (as well as told me what to do about it). As someone who doesn’t want to drop $50 on four yoga classes at the local studio, I’m really happy that there are all these videos on YouTube for free, so that I can do yoga, for free, in my own bedroom, using a bath towel as a mat and acting as a human bridge for my dog to walk underneath while I do downward dog.

Adrienne dragged my body kicking and screaming through several simple poses in this 20-minute workout, and it was exactly what I needed after spending 2016 eating gelato and not working out beyond climbing Italy’s copious hills.

Was it difficult? Yes. Was it impossible? No.

Here are seven thoughts I had while doing yoga for the first time in years:

  1. “Why does my body already hurt it’s only been two minutes and I’m just sitting here”
  2. “Have I always had the posture of a gorilla or is that a new thing?”
  3. “Okay focus Helen, don’t get distracted by the beautiful instructor…oh my God but look at her…”
  4. “Where is my pelvis again…?”
  5. “How are her legs so straight are we even the same breed of human?”
  6. “But how can I look at her if my forehead is supposed to be on the ground? How will I know if I’m doing it right?”
  7. Do what feels natural? None of this feels natural.”

I complain but actually I feel really good right now – my legs might hurt a little and my muscles feel slightly strained but spiritually speaking, I feel good. It’s nice to check in with your body every now and then, even if you don’t like what it’s saying. At the end of the video Adrienne told me to do this same thing every day for a week, so tomorrow around this time, you can find me hauling out the old bath towel again.

Namaste!

Kale Salad?!

Let me start by making one thing very clear: I am not a healthy eater. I wasn’t raised learning the ins and outs of the eggplant and how to dress a salad using anything but Ranch. My parents fed me vegetables, but they had been frozen half an hour before we ate them, and I grew up with a general disdain for healthy food.

But then I went to college, and there was a full salad bar, and I saw my friends loading up on all sorts of different things – adding peppers, cranberries, sunflower seeds, vinaigrette, etc. to their lettuce. And I followed their lead and discovered that there’s a whole undiscovered world of salad out there for me.

So today I went to the grocery store and bought myself a head of kale, walnuts, cranberries, apples, chicken, and balsamic vinaigrette, and I mixed up my own salad.

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It was far from perfect – the apple to kale ratio was a little off and I wasn’t able to finish all of it – but it’s a start! If you’re like me and a total newbie to cooking, don’t get discouraged when you mess up. I’ll be posting my tips and tricks as I learn them, and my first tip is this: don’t put a full apple in a kale salad unless you really, really like apple!