5 days in Seattle

Back in 2013, my parents, brother and I went on a vacation to Washington. We spent a few days out in Port Angeles, then a few days in Seattle. I was 14 years old, but the city made a strong impression on me, and I always wanted to go back. After visiting Portland last summer, my resolve to return to the Pacific Northwest was strengthened, and earlier this year I booked a plane ticket and an Airbnb in preparation for my first solo vacation.

With a flannel, cuffed jeans one size too big and a Google Map with all the important locations starred, I ventured out to the West Coast. Here’s the whole story.

Day 1 – Tuesday, June 19

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and, thanks to my dad’s unending support, had a ride to the Denver airport. The thing about air travel is that you’re always way too early or cutting it too close. Tuesday morning, I experienced the former. I was sitting at the gate by 4:05 a.m. for a 5:20 boarding and a 6:00 flight.

After a shorter than expected flight, I rode into the city on the train, like a real local. The Seattle trains–Link Rails–are very fast and very quiet. So pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m used to. I rode North to the Westlake station, wandered around for a few minutes, then settled down and got some (much needed) cold brew at Victrola Coffee Roasters.

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Next, I had to eat. Eat breakfast. After being awake for almost ten hours. That meant even more wandering around until I found where I’d wanted to go, Mr. West Café Bar on 8th and Olive. I ate toast with almond butter and strawberry rhubarb compote, and sat as long as socially acceptable. At this point, it was 10:45 a.m. I needed to last out in the city on my own until 3 p.m., when check-in at the Airbnb was allowed. I sat outside, because apparently Seattle isn’t always cold and rainy. In fact, the weather has been good every time I’ve been to the Pacific Northwest.

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Because I apparently think ice cream is a meal, I went ahead and got a Pressed Juicery Freeze after breakfast, then sat around in the sun for a little while, then finally decided I should go up to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where my apartment was. I went into yet another coffee shop, where I got an iced chai. And y’all aren’t gonna believe this: it was UNSWEETENED. Which was awesome but so unexpected.

I managed to spend an hour and a half in the coffee shop before deciding to wander around and see the neighborhood. I stopped at a little store called Marine Layer, where I bought two pieces of clothing that were not cheap (but both on sale) and met the two nice women who worked there. I’m very glad I went in, because one of the women mentioned that there was a Salt & Straw just 3 blocks away. I immediately made my purchases and walked to Salt & Straw, where I had some ice cream for the second meal in a row.

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My ice cream adventure took me just past 3:00, so I finally was able to get into the apartment and lie down. And damn it felt good. And I did NOT want to move an inch, but I got up and edited some photos for this post anyways.

Next, I went to dinner. At 5 p.m. Because I am an old person, and also still sort of on Central time. I was exhausted, so I chose Stateside, an Asian fusion place on the same block as my apartment. I had a daikon and cucumber salad and some crispy duck spring rolls with herbs.

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Afraid I’d fall asleep as soon as I set foot in the apartment, I walked to Cal Anderson park, then to a local thrift store to buy a belt so that my too big jeans would stay up. It’s a testament to how college changed me that I didn’t once question why I was walking a mile away and a mile back for a belt, but I’m glad I got the exercise in.

Day 2 – Wednesday, June 20

Because I’d gone to bed at 9 p.m., my 7:30 alarm wasn’t at all problematic. I got up, walked around the corner to Victrola Coffee and got myself a latte with almond milk to fuel up for the day ahead.

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I walked West until I hit Pike Place Market, and wandered for about half an hour before I realized I was hungry and needed to eat something. I was cornered briefly at a fruit stand and given a cherry and two slices of peach, but I was going to need something more substantial if I planned on walking around all day. So I went to a biscuit place, stuffed my face with the glutenous deliciousness, and continued on my way.

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The coolest thing about Pike Place, in my opinion, is the fact that it’s this super crazy bustling place that looks out over a really peaceful harbor. Taking a moment to stare out at the water was really calming. Then you turn around and see the expanse of the city–tall buildings, construction cranes, people.

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Then, I wanted more caffeine and needed to sit down, so I headed to Storyville Coffee and got myself an iced chai with their in house almond milk (sweetened with dates!).

From there, I went to the Seattle Art Museum, where I saw an exhibit about Native American representation in photography and video, called Double Exposure. I definitely don’t think enough about the hardships the actions of the American government put the indigenous people of this country through, so it was a good reminder of the work we still have to do to even begin to make it up.

After the walk home, I needed lunch. I took a Lyft to Portage Bay, and had a very interesting conversation with the driver and the other passenger about AI, single payer healthcare and how, with the advent of more AI and robots doing human jobs, the economy would have to change. I ate my sandwich, got a raw dessert at Jujubeet, then walked back to the apartment to sleep before getting dinner.

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I told myself that I’d get fresh seafood at least once here in the city, so I stopped by an oyster bar. For those of you who don’t know, oysters are expensive. But I wanted them badly, so I bought only three, just to get a taste. And, for those of you who haven’t tried oysters, they taste just like the ocean.

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Satisfied but not full, I walked 0.6 of a mile to Frankie & Jo’s and got myself a giant ice cream cone before heading back to the apartment. I have no photo of the ice cream because it was a giant tower that I could barely keep up with one hand, but I got tahini chocolate and brown sugar vanilla.

Day 3 – Thursday, July 21

So the problem with staying somewhere with no AC and no screens on the windows–especially if you’re irrationally afraid of birds flying in–is that it gets hot. Really hot. It took me what felt like forever to get to sleep, but I was still ready to go at 8 a.m. when I walked down to Storyville again, this time to get myself a cold brew. I’m not saying it was absolutely necessary, but it made me happy.

Then, I did the tourist thing and walked to the Space Needle. Except I didn’t want to pay to actually go up, so instead I just hung out in the park below and shot photos from the ground.

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I realized then that I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and ate at Portage Bay for the second time in less than 24 hours. I had to wait half an hour for pancakes, but they were really good pancakes.

On the way back to the Hill, I passed the Bulletproof store and decided to pop my head in. I only spent $3 there, but the woman behind the counter complimented my $12 sunglasses, and I now feel even better about that purchase.

(This is a good time to chat about the hills in Seattle. Admittedly it’s not San Fransisco, but Seattle is built on a set of hills that run down to the ocean. If you’re walking West, you’re walking downhill. If you walk East, you walk uphill. Which meant that, going downtown in the morning, I got really far doing very little work, and coming back, I felt about ready to collapse. That might put in perspective the number of naps I felt like I had to take.)

Exhausted from not getting enough sleep, I went back to the apartment and napped. And then I watched Riverdale. I refuse to let anyone judge me for this.

Before eating dinner, I stopped by a thrift store that donates profits to AIDS treatment and I found a flannel for $1.10. It was very good. I was very happy.

Then, I walked East toward dinner. I made a reservation at a popular neighborhood sushi place called Momiji, because if there’s one thing I’m willing to splurge on, it’s sushi. I knew it would be a little pricey (and it was) but it was 100% worth it. For nigiri I got scallops, salmon and roe, and then I ordered three pieces of tuna sashimi and it was THE FRESHEST fish I have ever seen. It was just amazing.

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Sushi made me happy. I wanted to be happier. So I went back to Frankie & Jo’s and got myself more ice cream. I stuck to the brown sugar vanilla (which is some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted) and then got a scoop of “California Cabin” which was a vanilla base with an applewood smoked pine flavor. It was out of this world.

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Because I napped, I didn’t sleep well, but I did watch a lot of Riverdale. I recognize that it’s not actually good tv, but I refuse to be judged for it.

Day 4 – Friday, June 22

I set my alarm for even earlier than usual, because I knew I wanted to hit Storyville one more time before leaving my Airbnb. For those of you wondering, I’m an idiot that can’t count, so I booked the place for one day fewer than I needed it. Which meant I spent my last night in Seattle in a different part of the Hill.

But that’s not really integral to this story. It is integral to mention that the woman behind the counter at Storyville on Pike Place recognized me from the day before (and possibly the day before that). I wanted to make sure I could sleep, so I drank chai instead of coffee.

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Then I walked back to the apartment and cleaned all my things up and hung around for a little bit, watched more tv and got excited to head into the suburbs.

As much as suburbs are antithetical to my beliefs as a person, I have to admit they’ve given me quite a lot. Evanston is, after all, a suburb of sorts. Lots of my hometown has suburban vibes. And on Friday, a trip to the suburbs gave me the chance to meet a fellow food blogger and insta friend in real life.

Bianca (of Balancing Bee) suggested we go to Homegrown and then get some ice cream, and I was in no position to refuse. I got myself a delicious sandwich on some of the best bread I’ve ever had.

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After lunch, we walked ten feet over to Molly Moon’s to get some ice cream. Yes, I’m lactose sensitive. No, I really shouldn’t be eating ice cream. But I love it. In the photo below, you can see my scoop of Stumptown coffee, my scoop of cookie dough, the waffle cone and the background of a suburb. You’re welcome.

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The only downside to all of this is that I needed to use a ride share app to get to and from the ‘burbs. Both on the way there and on the way back, the driver got slightly lost. And on the way back, the driver assumed I was a real, functioning adult with a job and a home. I was very tempted to lie and say that I was 24 with a salaried job, a fiancé and a studio apartment in the West Loop. I ended up telling the truth instead.

The “hotel” I stayed at Friday night wasn’t much of a hotel at all. I never saw any staff, save for at breakfast, and the front door and room doors had four digit passcodes instead of keys. It was interesting, but I preferred it to forced and overly peppy human interaction.

I wanted a lowkey dinner, so I walked to a nearby Japanese restaurant and got seaweed salad, miso soup and some gyoza. And then I realized I was on a street I recognized, and went back to Frankie and Jo’s. Because I have no self control and I really like ice cream.

On my way back to the North Capitol Hill, I found the beginnings of Seattle Pride, which took place the 22nd through the 24th. I thought Iowa City Pride was good, but Seattle Pride was awesome, which I can tell even though I was there for about half an hour. I met a very soft and friendly dog and bought some small pride flags.

Day 5 – Saturday, June 23

Overnight, it rained. And it was cold. I had planned on going to Volunteer Park and seeing Bruce Lee’s grave–not because I feel as though I have a personal connection to Bruce Lee, but because it seemed like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the weather and my own weakness confined me to Capitol Hill, and I got tea and breakfast instead of going to the park.

After breakfast, I packed up my things and, carrying what felt like everything I owned, went downtown to hang around until it was socially acceptable to head to the airport. My first stop was Pressed Juicery, because I always feel the need to overeat that stuff when I’m in a city where they have it (Pressed, please come to Chicago).

Then I hung around a Cherry Street Coffee and read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years In Power. Being who I am, I got a chai.

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Once I was peer pressured into leaving that particular location, I wandered around until I found a cheap enough Mediterranean place. I ate lunch, then went to an ice cream place to get some ice cream for dessert. I was out of control. I still am.

I continued to walk around a little bit, and spent some time in the more common areas of downtown until some people with Jesus t-shirts and handouts got to be too much. I got myself on the Link and headed to Sea-Tac.

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Traveling was, for the most part, uneventful. I made friends with some people at my gate so they would watch my things while I used the bathroom and got food and such. The flight was delayed, first formally. Then we sat in the gate for another hour and a half before taking off.

I didn’t exactly sleep on the plane, but I dozed just enough to have one of those crazy incongruent pre-sleep thoughts. This one was about a foolproof way to deliver drugs. I’m not going to get into it.

Another shoutout to my father for showing up to get me from the airport at 3 a.m. We drove back to Boulder, and I was out the second I hit the pillow.

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you. I had a lot of fun writing it and even more fun exploring Seattle. Catch me living there in ten years.

Peace, love and 10.1% sales tax,

Cam

 

 

I love the farmers market

I judge the fitness of a city based on its farmers market. So naturally when I started going to the Evanston Farmers Market in fall quarter I fell in LOVE. My loyalty may still lie with the market in Iowa City, but Evanston knows what it’s about, son.

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The e town market draws produce from all around the midwest! This asparagus was from Michigan.
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Breakfast part i: paleo muffin from a sweets stand that I hit up every Saturday. Do I have the money for it? Only sort of. Is it worth it? Totally.
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Beets. Enormous bunches. 
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And they even come in different colors?
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Breakfast part ii: gluten free edible cookie dough from Defloured Bakery (a huge fav)!
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If I were at all capable of keeping plants alive, I would buy one of these. Unfortunately, I am NOT.

The farmers market makes me super happy. Y’all should give it a try.

 

 

 

Fudgey flourless brownies

There is nothing better in life than a brownie. Especially when you’re in week five of ten of spring quarter, it’s nice outside and you somehow always have an essay to write. I’m not kidding, I have at least one essay for everyone one of my classes this year, and one of those classes is a psych class. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.

Regardless of what I was thinking when I registered last quarter, I know exactly what I think about these brownies. And I think they’re freaking amazing.

It’s not like I haven’t made good brownies before. My paleo brownies were delicious, but they were more like your traditional brownie. A little fudgey, a little chewy… I was craving something bolder and with a little more punch. Enter the flourless brownie.

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Though this post is not sponsored (#iwish) I’d like to mention two brands that I used in order to make the experience what I wanted it to be. The chocolate i used is Equal Exchange, because I care about people, and the coffee I used was Chameleon Cold Brew, because I recently found it and I really enjoyed the bold flavor. (Note: these don’t taste like coffee. The coffee only brings out the chocolate flavor.)

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I’m not saying these brownies solved all my problems. Yes, I still have an enormous amount to write about topics I don’t fully understand. And yes, I’m still both mentally and physically exhausted and can’t wait to be done with this quarter. But eating these made it better for a good 2 minutes, and i’ll take whatever I can get.

Peace, love and cold brew,

Cam

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Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons grass fed butter
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped or in chips (I used Equal Exchange)
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cold coffee (I used Chameleon Cold Brew)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup arrowroot starch
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large metal bowl, add the chocolate and the butter, then melt in a bain marie until smooth.

Add in the coconut sugar, stir until combined, then add in the eggs one at a time.

Next add the vanilla, coffee and cocoa powder and stir until incorporated.

Fold in the arrowroot starch and chocolate chips, then pour the batter into a lined 8 by 8 square pan and bake for 28-30 minutes.

Let cool completely before serving, because they will fall apart when hot.

 

Soft & chewy GRAIN FREE chocolate chip cookies

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, but I promise it was worth the wait. I didn’t want to post a recipe I wasn’t sure about, and before I tested these I needed to get an ingredient I’d never used before–coconut nectar.

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The main problem with naturally sweetened cookies that I’ve noticed is that their texture is weird and crumbly. This is because they don’t have brown sugar in them, which is gives chocolate chip cookies that soft chewiness we all love. Coconut sugar lends none of that moisture.

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I wasn’t about to put regular sugar in this recipe, so after doing a little research I decided to try out substituting some of the coconut sugar for coconut nectar in hopes that the result would have a better texture. And it worked! Sort of.

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This cookie isn’t exactly the same as a regular chocolate chip cookie. But to be fair, it can’t be. Grain free flours don’t offer the same amount of structure as wheat derived flours, and I haven’t yet found a way to replicate the texture of brown sugar with natural sweeteners. But these are still the best grain free cookie I’ve made. So enjoy.

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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup grass fed butter
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill paleo baking flour
  • dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Cream the butter, coconut sugar and coconut nectar together until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix each until combined.

Add the vanilla, salt and baking soda, then stir again.

Fold in the flour and the chocolate chips, then chill the dough for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour.

Roll the dough into 2 inch balls and place at least an inch apart on a greased or lined baking tray.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown and a still a little soft in the middle. Let cool completely before serving, because they will fall apart.

LA food tour & video!

Hey everyone! It’s been a rough two weeks since I got back from spring break, but I finally got around to putting together my video and typing out all my thoughts on the amazing food I had in Los Angeles.

Pressed Juicery

Pressed isn’t endemic to LA, but they don’t have one in Chicago–or anywhere in Iowa to my knowledge–so my first official stop on the food tour was at the Pressed Juicery in the Grove shopping center.

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I’ve been waiting probably around a year to try a Pressed Freeze, and it did NOT disappoint. Their chocolate flavor is made with only four ingredients, is vegan and has no added sugar. I don’t see myself moving to LA in the future, but I think I’ll have to live somewhere in the vicinity of a Pressed Juicery after I graduate.

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My second stop (after a quick walk through the original LA Farmers Market in La Brea) was Fonuts, a baked donut joint that specializes in vegan and gluten free offerings.

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I got one chocolate hazelnut donut (gluten free) and one raspberry vanilla donut (gluten free and vegan!) and ate them both even though I told myself I probably wouldn’t be able to finish.

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These were hands down the best baked donuts I’ve ever had, and because I own a donut pan, I plan on trying to recreate some as soon as I’m home for the summer.

Sweetfin Poké

Because donuts don’t actually count as lunch, I had to stop by Sweetfin to grab some poké before checking out a thrift store or two. The man in line before me must have been ordering for his office, because he just handed the cashier the phone and had him punch it all in by himself. Shoutout to that cashier, because he’s clearly very dedicated.

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I got tuna with gochujang sauce, kale and avocado all on a bed of kelp noodles instead of rice, which is a great alternative if you can’t have grains. I can, but I just figured I’d go low carb since I’d just eaten two donuts.

Sweet Butter

Sweet Butter’s breakfast was out of this WORLD and, while painfully LA hipster, was exactly what I needed before an easy hike. I got an avocado toast (duh) some flourless chocolate cake and a chai latte with oat milk, which I hadn’t tried before that day.

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All the food was totally beautiful and perfect for the insta.

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Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee

Half a day later, down in Santa Monica, I had to head over to Sidecar to grab a donut. Sidecar’s claim to fame is that (a) their donuts are always fresh made and (b) they have some savory flavors. So of course, I chose to try a rosemary lemon drop.

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Blue Star Donuts

And now to the last stop on the food tour and my favorite by far: Blue Star Donuts. The flavors are totally crazy and also freakin’ amazing.

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I got two donuts here: the first is passion fruit cacao nib, and it was sprinkled with some cayenne pepper as well for a kick. The passion fruit glaze had a super intense flavor as well.

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I wish I’d been able to see some more places, especially to find healthy food, but LA is big and we only had three days.

I hope y’all got something out of this (if only some serious donut envy) and here’s to a less stressful week 3 of spring quarter!

Korean-Inspired Cauliflower Bowl

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love fusion food. In fact, I think I love fusion even more than I love making healthy versions of desserts, and that’s saying a lot.

One of the reasons I like fusion so much is that I’m indecisive when it comes to food choices. My favorite food is sushi, but it’s also avocado toast, pasta with fresh tomatoes, anything you can get at my favorite Mediterranean place, etc. Fusion allows me to mix all the flavors I’m craving without having more than one meal, and I freakin’ love it. Plus, any chance I get to add avocado and an egg on something, I will.

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But to get into it, what really makes this Korean inspired? How did I even arrive here? It’s a fun story. I was online grocery shopping for myself and a friend when I realized I needed only $3 more to qualify for free shipping. Since shipping is $6, I decided it would be smarter to save the money and buy something. I decided to get gochugaru, which is a Korean red pepper. It’s awesome.

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So now I have this jar of Korean red pepper and I need to use it. Solution? Hit up your local Whole Foods (or steal from the dining hall salad bar) and get your roast on.

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Ingredients

for the cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon gochugaru

for the rest of the bowl

  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup diced cucumbers
  • fried egg

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Mix together the cauliflower, oil, salt and gochugaru. Spread on a greased or lined baking sheet and roast for 28-30 minutes.

When you’re ready to build the bowl, add a layer of quinoa, then add the rest of the ingredients. I garnished with sesame seeds.

April Intentions

Happy April everyone!

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April is lowkey one of my favorite months for a while, and I don’t know exactly why. Maybe it’s because it’s spring, and that school isn’t as hectic as it gets in May. Regardless of my reasoning, a new month means new intentions!

Eat greens every day

I’m not the best at getting my greens in, especially in the dining halls. But I know that it’s good for me, so this month I’m going to attempt to eat greens every day. Even if it means picking through the dubious spring mix supplied at the dining hall salad bar.

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Green smoothies are great ways to #drinkyourgreens! Though it’s important not to obsess over what you eat, greens like darker lettuce, spinach and kale provide tons of necessary nutrients.

Work out 5x per week minimum

Getting sick, finals week and spring break meant that I’ve been working out a LOT less than I would like, but April (and spring quarter) is the perfect time to get back into the groove of things! Obviously I’ll be lifting at least four of those five times, but that leaves at least one day to stick to cardio or try out a yoga class if I want. The best part is that this coming quarter, I have the time to work out before class.

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And I’ll be doing so in my new shoes! I am finally freed from the ones I’ve been wearing since I was 13 years old.

Visit the city at least once

One of the main draws of a Northwestern education is being so close to Chicago (which so happens to be my favorite city in the US), but it’s an opportunity I rarely take advantage of. In the spirit of having more adventures and appreciating access to a high quality public transportation system, I’ve decided that I’ll try to hit south of Howard at least once a month from now on.

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That doesn’t mean I’ll go back to the Bean. Randolph Street, Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park is just the area of the city I know best.

Listen closely to my hunger cues

For those of you that took the time to read my post about stress eating, here’s a tiny bit of a follow up. I am by no means totally back to eating normally, but I am feeling hunger in a much more standard way than I was a month ago. I’m actually feeling hungry and full at normal times and after normal amounts of food, so that’s a little win!

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This is a totally unrelated avocado toast I had at a restaurant in Sherman Oaks. I just thought it would look sort of nice here.

I hope at least one of my intentions resonated with y’all this month. What are your April intentions? Comment below or dm me on insta @sugarandsitups.

– Cam

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Spring is finally here! And of course, because I live in the Midwest, it’s snowy and cold. But that isn’t stopping me from eating like it’s spring, and it doesn’t have to stop you either.

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I realized recently that I only have two pancake recipes on this site. Given that I make pancakes at least once every couple weeks, I was a little surprised that I’d only shared two over here. So to fix that problem, I made these carrot cake pancakes. They get a little crispy on the outside but say soft and delicious in the middle and smell AMAZING. Oh, and they taste good as well.

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Speaking of spring, after I visit LA, I’ll be headed back to Northwestern for my final quarter of freshman year, which is freakin’ crazy. I never have to take a calculus class again and I’m finally declared in two majors: psychology and American history. As much as I’m loving break, I’m really looking forward to getting back to school.

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So as cold as it is, I guess it’s spring and these pancakes prove it (?)

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup grated carrot

Instructions

In a medium bowl, sift the almond and oat flours together. Next, whisk in the baking powder spices and coconut sugar.

In another bowl, preferably with a spout, beat together the almond milk, egg and vanilla.

Create a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the milk and egg mixture and mix until combined. Fold in the grated carrot, then fry up your pancakes ⅓ cup at a time. I’m not 100% dairy free so I fry in butter, but coconut oil would work just as well.

I topped with yogurt and more cinnamon.

The Hole in Holistic

Holistic (adj.) – characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

The rise of of “holistic” as a philosophy is relatively recent, at least by that name. Research shows the word coming about in the 1950s and steadily increasing in use up until the early 2010s.

Holistic nutrition, holistic medicine and holistic wellness are only a few of the myriad of buzzwords (buzz-phrases?) that live almost entirely in the world of social media, neatly tagged and sorted into their places. Photos of women twisted on yoga mats, shots of green smoothies, reposts of quotes about choosing happiness; they all, somehow, fall under the idea of holistic health.

Based on its definition, there’s nothing wrong with having a holistic mindset about anything. After all, understanding the whole as a means to assess and fix the parts isn’t a radical idea at all. My beef, so to speak, isn’t with the ideology or philosophy of looking at things or people holistically.

What I have come to notice during my countless hours spent on social media and blogs is that holistic doesn’t actually mean holistic anymore.

The hashtag #HolisticNutrition for instance is peppered with posts and Instagram stories about food as a healing agent–glasses of lemon water with captions about the triviality of taking Advil. Piles of adaptogenic herbs with lists of their benefits. Well-lit flatlays of fruits and veggies accompanied by a gentle reminder not to overdo it with the fruits, because fruits are sugary.

#HolisticHealth and #HolisticMedicine are worse. I can barely scroll 30 seconds through my feed without seeing a photo of a thin white woman in a perfect dancer pose, talking about how yoga HEALED her depression (cue all the emojis). The people behind some accounts I follow struggle with autoimmune disorders and swear by their diets, forgetting that for many, a diet change is a crutch rather than a cure. I once listened to a podcast episode where the host congratulated a friend of hers for coming off a dozen prescription medications at once to heal her mental illnesses–one of which was bipolar disorder–with nature.

Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing bad about wanting to take a natural approach to your health. But “holistic” doesn’t mean “toss your Lexapro out the window.” Or, it shouldn’t. Nowhere in the definition of holistic is it outlined that shaming people for being dependent or semi-dependent on lifesaving prescription medications is the right thing to do.

The focus on the whole does not necessarily mean throwing out every lesson we’ve learned from Western medicine. On the contrary, it would seem that by merging different theories of health and wellness that we could move closer to true understanding of the parts as connected to the whole.

If we are to truly try to solve a health problem from all angles, why can’t a pill–taken alongside that fruit-free green smoothie–be part of what we consider holistic health?

Scientific studies tend to show that holistic treatments work, at least better than those that aren’t. Anxiety and depression, for instance, are treated best with a combination of SSRIs and outside interventions such as talk therapy, exercise and positive thinking.

Health is different for everyone–not every person can positively think their way out of suicidal thoughts or restrict their diets so much that they cure their arthritis. Those who can do so should feel lucky, and maybe stop talking down to the rest of us for taking advantage of some of the medicinal breakthroughs of the past decade.

Bowl Meal Inspo

If you’re a follower on insta as well, you’ve seen my lunch bowls. And let me tell y’all, I’m in love with building bowls like this for lunch.

The main idea behind the bowl meals is that they include all three macronutrients, carbs, protein and fat–that’s why they’re often called macro bowls. But in my opinion, the best part of the bowl meal is that it’s super customizable and can work with any type of diet. I’ve made vegan bowls, paleo bowls, vegetarian bowls and even ones with tons of meat. You can really do whatever you want with it.

Whether you call them power bowls, macro bowls or, “goddam bowls” as my brother once has, here’s some inspo for making them!

Vegan salad bowl

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This bowl was vegan but totally filling and delicious anyways! I used romaine lettuce for the base, then added green beans sautéed with tahini, sweet potato fries, roasted peppers and tomatoes and avocado. And topped it with sriracha of course.

Sweet potato & egg bowl

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Sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil topped with avocado, a fried egg, my tahini dressing and some sesame seeds to add texture. I can not recommend enough frying the egg so the edges get crispy.

Turkey meatball bowl

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Super delicious high protein bowl, with butternut squash, brussels sprouts and turkey meatballs, topped with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning. This would also be awesome with avocado, by the way. Meatball recipe from Alex Agasar (Eat Your Heart Out) here.

If you’re stuck in a rut with your food, try one of these bowls–I wish I could eat like this in the dining hall.