Lunch Bags

So we got a new refrigerator at work a few months ago and it is the size of a freaking midget.  Our refrigerator makes it seem as though Vietnamese people love salad dressing (who knew?) because we have like 10 ranch dressings, 5 balsamics, and a lone raspberry vinaigrette.  I used to put my food in the old fridge since it was a little bigger, but now that new fridge is smaller and has like a million salad dressings that have been expired since 2012, I decided to forgo the fridge to keep my lunches cold and get a lunch bag.  I definitely needed an insulated one to keep my yogurt, kefir, and salads cold but figured I only needed it cold until lunchtime.  My snacks after lunch never needed refrigeration so a medium-sized insulated fabric lunch bag with a few ice pack would be good enough for me.  Well who goddamn knew it would take me 4 lunch bags later to find my perfect one?

The qualities I was looking for was:

1. Good insulation (of course)

2. Portability

3. Size (since I have breakfast, lunch, and snacks and like to use BPA free thicker plastic containers. yea I’m into that stuff)

4. Prettiness

For my first newbie purchase I bought through Amazon, and it was the Kora K-7 100 Lunch Bag.  I pretty much got the cheapest one that seemed like a decent product so I purchased the purple one, and even though it was ugly as shit I kind of didn’t care.  Sometimes I have an affinity towards ugly things idk.  The size of this was good, but after about a month of using it I realized that when the ice packs would start melting, it would soak through the fabric and get whatever it was resting on wet.  It just had a thin non-padded layer inside for “insulation” or whatever and then the designed fabric on the outside.  I gave it away and searched for my next one.

My coworker saw that I had a lunch bag so she just brought me one that she bought but never used.  This was the Fit & Fresh Lunch Bag.  This one came with 2 small lunch containers and a solid ice pack.  She gave me the one with black and white flowers so it wasn’t even ugly, but it just wasn’t my style at all.  Whatever- it was given to me and the material inside was very thick so I thought it would do a way better job at keeping things cold and not leaking like the previous bag.  The size was enormous and I could easily fit in huge tupperware and snacks.  I don’t know who made this but instead of having a zipper at the top, it has a magnetic clasp which is like wtf is the point of all this magnificent insulation if it just RELEASES AT THE TOP?  It also had some ties on the side so if you had a wider container inside the ties could be released and the bag could be widened.  I guess if you had a picnic and were driving like 10 minutes to a park the cutie hanging ties and less insulation would be ok but it’s sold as a lunch bag.  I used this bag temporarily but knew I needed another one.

I didn’t really like the traditional square zippered lunch that hung from the shoulder, but figured that would be my last resort since there were a bazillion of them sold everywhere.  I wanted something stylish and cute so I decided that I’d just spend whatever amount on a nice lunch bag since it would be a fairly long-term use item.   So I scoured through like 20 pages on Amazon looking for lunch bags and finally stumbled upon Sachi Fashion Insulated Lunch Bag.  I thought this was kinda high maintenance femme looking initially, but after a while thought it was kind of a beaut.  I bought it immediately, but immediately upon its arrival realized that it would no way fit all my food.  I saw the user pictures on Amazon and thought there would be just enough space but unfortunately things fit vertically and I get OCD about stuff spilling.  I was about to return it, but decided to give it to my niece who loved it because it looked like a purse.  This design also had a small zipper on the outside for whatever small flat-ish items you wanted to bring.  However, before I gave it to her I did use it to smuggle in beers to the zoo :)  The insulated material was made of a thicker metallic padding that kept the beers nice and cold for hours so I definitely knew Sachi was the brand for me.  “Oooh look like Chanel,” exclaimed my cousin.

I searched through all of Sachi’s lunch bags and seriously they are amazing!  They have tons of designs and styles, and probably the Louis Vuitton of lunch bags!!!  I finally settled on the Sachi 21-166 Insulated Fashion Lunch Bags Style 21.  At this point, I knew this one would work because after the 4th time I actually measured.  I didn’t like any of the bigger designs and in all honesty I didn’t completely like this design either (I have really weird style), but it was like a million times better than all of the other brands.  When it came, I knew this was the right bag for me.  It is wide enough to fit 4 ice packs, 4 tupperware, pieces of fruit and/or baggies of whatever.  It also comes with a longer shoulder strap that attached, but I didn’t like the idea of my heavy lunch hitting my hip every time I took a step so I never use it.  I’ve been using this bag for the past 2 months and I am absolutely in love with it.  I’ve carried plastic tupperware, several glass containers, and nothing is too heavy for it.  It is constructed well yet folds very easily for storage.  I thought that with the fabric it would get caught on to sharp objects and might start to fray but it is still going strong with no signs of it going down any time soon.  The ONE downside to this bag for me (yes there is one!) is that it looks exactly like a purse so when I take it with me in the mornings before the gym and after to work, I have to leave this bag in my car.  I drive a truck so I have have no trunk and have to hide this in the back of my seat.  Come on, you know somebody is gonna think it’s a purse and smash into poor trucky thinking they found the jackpot to only find they stole a lunch bag of lettuce and cottage cheese!!!

If you’re a guy, I got my bf this BUILT Neoprene Lunch Bag and he loves it.  They also have several designs and seem a little more hip and eco-ish.  They are made of wetsuit material so I am sure if you had an ice pack it would keep things nice and cold for a good amount of time.  The material also stretches so if you have any odd-shaped containers or “things” that you would like to carry in this unassuming lunch bag, then it would zipper up nicely.  I’ve fit in there for him a tupperware for salads, fruit, sandwiches, baggies of snacks, 2 drinks, etc…  The bag has lasted for about 7 months and looks as good as new even though he carries it to work almost every day.  It supposedly washes up very easily in a load of laundry as well if you want to keep it in mint condition.

So if you’re looking for a new lunch bag, go with Sachi or BUILT!  Not only for usability but for the quality and design.  Bringing your own lunches to work or school not only saves you money, but also helps you be mindful of your eating.  You can portion control and keep things healthy.

this badboy showed up on my Groupon gifts one morning. i almost bought it.

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Skin by Hao

I take my skincare very seriously like a good Asian should.  I definitely was blessed with decent genetics, but I do a lot to maintain the condition of my skin.  I have a previous blog on skincare, but I feel that since then I have perfected my routine and wanted to share it.  I have realized that with skincare (along with like pretty much everything else in life), you can go with the mass recommendations but sometimes it doesn’t really work for you.  I’ve discovered some mind-blowing products as well as changed my train of thought about my skincare routine.

I have kind of oily skin which can get better or worsen depending on the products I use.  Since I have oily skin, I have a tendency towards blackheads and luckily do not have any type of hormonal acne.  Last year I would go get monthly facials and I swear to god my esthetician was like so proud of herself after every facial for all the extractions she would do.  Sorry it’s gross but come on… it’s grosser in your pores, right?  In addition to it being gross, you should remove blackheads regularly because the blackheads are stretching out your pores so by leaving them there you are widening that pore.  I didn’t want getting monthly facials to be the only solution I had to better skin so I went on a mission to find out what could reduce my tendencies towards blackheads.  So anyway, I am also lucky that my brother has a spa in Hawaii so I turned to him for help.  My brothers and sisters all had a Clarisonic and had been urging me to use that.  I was so stubborn that I thought no way could some $200 vibrating face brush could really help my skin.  My brother came home one Christmas and handed me a box with a Clarisonic!  I started using it and now I am a total believer.  If I could pyramid my facial tools, the Clarisonic would be the foundation that everything else is built upon.  After seeing some ads for it in the magazine, it all made sense.  First, blackheads are not genetics and are environmental.  They come from a combination of skin oils, bacteria, etc…  When you cleanse your face you are trying to get rid of as much of that as possible.  As “clean” as you may think you are washing your face at night with your cleanser and hands… YOU ARE NOT.  Especially with my skin, there was no way I was sudsing away all those microscopic debris no matter how long I was washing.  Check it out on Amazon- there are units from $100-$200 and read the reviews on them.  I use mine nightly like clockwork.  Just remember that if you have makeup on, just to wash your face lightly first or use a make-up remover towel so your brush doesn’t get too dirty.  I always towel mine off so that there is less moisture for bacteria to grow on.  (btw you don’t really need to replace the heads as often as the recommendations!)

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After the Clarisonic, everything else works equally well together.  First comes the products- cleansers and the toner.  I have read a shit ton of articles on the Korean 5 step cleansing system but that is way too much work for me and I don’t think you need it if you are using the Clarisonic.  I am a huge fan of the CeraVe foaming cleanser in the AM.  When you wake up, all you need is a little bit of gentle cleanser and some warm water to break up the oils from overnight- nothing too harsh.  I prefer CeraVe over Cetaphil because it has ceramides, humectants and emollients in it. These ingredients work together to moisturize, hydrate and actually repair skin.  Also, the foaming action helps me mentally feel as though it is working better.  After I cleanse my skin, I use Thayer’s Witch Hazel & Aloe toner which you can purchase from drugstore.com.  This stuff is secretly so amazing.  I didn’t think it did much to my skin when I first purchased it, but now it is one of my key players in my skincare routine.  It doesn’t have any alcohol in it (which dries out skin and is a big no-no for the oily skinned), and it hydrates my skin eliminating my need for moisturizer!  I have grown up believing that I needed to moisturize my skin but to be honest, I just kind of went with no moisturizer for a few days because I ran out and I couldn’t be happier.  This was the mind-blowing part to me because it is such an engrained part in my skincare routine.  My skin is definitely not overly oily like it used to be and most of all, no blackheads!  However, if your skin is dry then I don’t think you should skip- I’m just saying that with my skin it is working for me.  At night I cleanse with a little bit of a stronger cleanser and that is Eucerin Redness Relief.  This product is mostly used by people with sensitive skin or with rosacea.  Even though I don’t have either of those skin conditions, I definitely notice my skin has less redness.  I used to get redness on my cheeks a lot, but this has helped a lot in evening out my skin tone.  Again at night I will use the moisturizing toner and every few days I will use an emulsion cream around my eyes.

Other factors that I firmly believe have helped my skin are:

1. Doing cardio exercise.  The sweating will help eliminate toxins through your skin.

2.  Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables while less of processed foods

3.  Rarely touching my face with my fingers or anything for that matter.  Clean your cell phones, telephones, and never rest your face on your hands.  It might look like whatever, but trust me when I tell you that you are pushing shit into your pores.

4.  Facials every now and then.  Find an esthetician you trust and just go ever 3-4 months.  Even though I clean my skin very well, I still can’t get everything.  Facials are more relaxing than anything, but your esthetician has a trained eye that can see and feel things you can’t.  If you are cleaning your skin well, you definitely do not have to go monthly.

5.  Sleep.  You need to get enough sleep so that your skin can repair itself.  Whether is it 6-8 hours or whatever feels comfortable for you.  Don’t skimp on sleep!

6.  Sleep on your back.  This sounds so silly but I am a big believer that if you sleep on your stomach and have your cheeks touching that pillow, your skin will not be able to breathe.  Also the pillowcase along with your sebum is a breeding ground for bacteria so your face is touching your pillowcases for countless hours each night… growing mountains.

What I don’t really give a shit about:

1.  Drinking water.  I’ve gotten so much shit for this but I mean I get in water from my food, fruits, and veggies but I never measure out drinking like 8 cups a day.  Water is good for you, yes, but I don’t think overly drinking water has played a condition on my skin.  With that said, I probably drink like 3 cups total a day in addition to my food.

2.  Detoxes and cleanses.  I think if you are sick then maybe that will be a good kickstart for you to start eating better, but your body can heal itself pretty quickly.  Just start taking care of yourself and things will fall into place.  You do not have to do anything drastic like juicing for 10 days because you will feel like death.  Good luck with the kale juice.

I don’t think this will work for everybody, but these are a lot of tips and tools I have found recently to perfect my skin.  I am so happy with these affordable products (minus the Clarisonic but it’s definitely worth the investment).  I never had insanely horrible skin, but I was prone to breakouts along my hairline, jawline, and tons of blackheads.  Now I get complimented a lot now on my skin tone so I know that this is working.

I also do Korean sheet masks, but just for fun.  I definitely notice that my skin is dewier for a few hours afterwards, but I’m not too sure about any long-term benefits.   It’s just fun putting on a mask and scaring my friends with it on through FaceTime.  It’s also nice, relaxing, and easy to clean up.

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FaceTime, anybody? (yea that’s my bf masking with me.  he probably wouldn’t like his pic here but oopsie it’s just one eye)

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Prime Rib

Soooo I’ve made a few Christmas dinners for my family and everybody always requests prime rib.   It has always been a little more challenging because of the fact that I don’t eat too much red meat so I haven’t had too much experience with red meat cooking techniques.  Prime rib is especially difficult because it’s a more expensive piece and there’s not as many occasions to cook it so each time I’ve made it, it’s been a little better but I know when my food sucks.  However, I made it yesterday for my sister’s birthday and it turned out AMAZING!!!  Let me tell you, I’ve scoured the web for over hundreds of recipes that claim they’re the best recipe and all other methods of cooking suck compared to theirs.  When searching for recipes of course there are variations in ingredients and methodology, but most of them don’t claim to be the best.  So that’s what was scary about prime rib recipes, because there were so many “bests.”  Which one do I choose?  After reading so many articles I’ve learned a few things.  I’ve concluded that there probably are lots of ways to get great results so let me tell you what worked for me and what didn’t with my recipe listed at the end.

The first time I made prime rib I purchased blindly a 3-4 lb rib roast.  I purchased it from Stater Bros around holiday season so it was on sale.  I covered it with cheesecloth and left it to poor man’s “dry age” in my fridge for about 3 days.  The day I was going to cook it I left it out to get to room temp for about an hour-ish.  Seasoned it with Kosher salt right before it was going in the oven and inserted several cloves of garlic throughout the meat.  I blasted it at high heat and then lowered it.  Covered it with foil to let it rest of course and then we carved.  I don’t really remember the temperature, but definitely remember it being undercooked (people having to microwave theirs) and under seasoned.  They barely finished half of it and there was like 15 people.  Embarrassing.

The following Christmas I think I felt that maybe I didn’t have a thermometer so maybe that was the answer.  I borrowed an instant read thermometer and did pretty much the same methodology as my last with the dry aging and temperature. This time, I seasoned with a little more salt right before putting it in the oven with Fleur de Sel thinking maybe this salt would make things amazing.  Again the meat was under seasoned and the instant read thermometer tricked me because my prime rib was microwaved.  The meat was barely finished again and my mom told me next time to not get so much meat.

So who the f knows why my family requested me to make prime rib again.  I felt that I had made it so badly and I was just so intimidated by making it.  Buuuutt whatever… I love to cook so I just pretty much went all out and bought the best stuff so I could perfect this shit.  I went to Whole Foods and bought a rib roast.  It was just a choice rib roast that was pretty fresh.  I had them cut it off the bone and tie twine to secure it.  If you read science-y articles about prime rib they will tell you that prime rib is the cut of meat that has been dry aged for a few weeks which makes it a very expensive cut.  There will also be heavy marbelization throughout the meat so most likely you are not getting a piece of prime rib at your grocery store or butcher.  It’s technically called a rib roast but hey that’s really ok.  Since it wasn’t in season, and also because this piece was antibiotic and hormone-free (not sure if it was grass fed I didn’t ask), the roast cost me $14/lb.  Yeah… and I got like double the amount like 7 lbs (4 ribs).  Whatever $100…I’m being overly confident this time.  I decided to go with the slow roasting method and then searing it at a very high temperature at the end which made a lot of sense to me.  I think before when I was blasting the roast with high heat first, it left the outside to cook for too long making it have a large ring of overcooked meat.  Slow roasting makes the meat to tender and juicy with the thinnest amount of cooked meat near the crust.  I also read that instant read thermometers are really off so I didn’t feel like calibrating mine either.  I went and purchased a leave in digital thermometer which I think is pretty key to getting it perfect.  I also learned from the last few times with my family that they don’t like it so rare so a little more to the medium rare/medium side.  So anyway here is my prime rib!  It turned out perfect and I am soooo happy because now I don’t suck at making it.

my almost pretty perfect prime rib!

my almost pretty perfect prime rib!

Here’s the recipe, but I kind of just eyeball things so hope you can figure it out if it’ll work for you.  I kind of just know how much I need with flavors and all so I never have specific amounts.

I seasoned the rib roast REALLY well with Kosher salt a day before I was going to roast it.  I seasoned it with salt and then left it uncovered in the fridge.  I read that the salt penetrates the meat and I was a little bit hesitant that this would work because I mean… how much meat can the salt penetrate overnight?  I did it anyway… whatever.  An hour before it was going in the oven, I took it out and covered it paper towel in a cool area in the kitchen to let it come closer to room temp.

Prime Rib with Red Wine Jus

Red Wine Jus

- 3-4 lbs beef bones

-couple stalks of celery cut into chunks

-large carrot cut into chunks

-large sweet onion cut into quarters

-lots of fresh Italian parsley sprigs

-1 qt beef broth (don’t skimp and use the generic brand cause it sux)

-1 bottle Cabernet (you can use whatever wine you’d drink but I had a great Cabernet burger and thought it’d be good in this recipe)

-olive oil

Prime Rib

-7 lb rib roast (about 4 ribs)

- Dry rub seasoning (any you like, but I preferred the one with rosemary that was also salted)

-roasting pan with V-rack

1.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Meanwhile,  medium heat a large pot (one that isn’t non-stick) and pour the olive oil in.  Brown the beef bones on all sides and transfer to the roasting pan.  There should be burnt stuff at the bottom.

2. Throw in carrots, onions, celery and cook until onions are semi-translucent.

3.  Pour in the red wine and gently scrape up the brown at the bottom.  I didn’t let everything come to a boil but just left it at a rolling boil.

4.  Pour in the quart of beef broth.  Let the liquid reduce down.  You can either reduce the liquid now, or reduce it after you are done so whatever is most time-convenient for you.

5.  Transfer all contents into the roasting pan and spread it out evenly.

6.  Your rib roast should now be closer to room temp now that it’s been sitting out.  Rub it down completely with your dry rub roast.  If you decide against this, just lightly salt and pepper your roast again.

7.  Place the rib roast in the v-rack with the fat cap up and into the oven it goes!  Set timer for 3 hours (or 2 hrs 45 minutes if you’re worried).

8.  At 3 hours, insert a digital thermometer in the center of the fat cap side.  If you like medium rare, the temp should read from 120-125.  If you like medium, then it should read at 130 so whatever is best for you.  I took mine out at 125 and then transferred it onto a plate.  I wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil to let the juices settle in.

9.  Take out the beef bones to a plate.  You can save yours for later if you want (my mom did this to make soup later) or you can discard them if you don’t need them anymore.  Using a sieve, strain the liquid into a medium pot.  Bring liquid to a boil and scoop out the scum or whatever gross stuff at the top.  At this point you can further reduce your liquid or keep it as you wish.  Taste it and salt/pepper to your liking.

10.  When you are almost ready to eat, turn up your oven to 500 degrees and put your rib back in the v-rack.  Sear the roast for about 5-10 minutes.  There will definitely be some smoke so turn off that alarm!  After this there should be the sought-after crust on the meat.

11.  Take out the meat (no need to let it rest again) and carve!!!

I hope this recipe helps because I’ve waited a long time to make it right!  This method has made me proud and even with the double amount of meat than the previous years, there was absolutely no meat left at the dinner table!  Salting the meat a day in advanced truly helped season the meat inside.  I definitely tasted it all throughout the meat and not just the edge like I had previously thought.  The bones were gnawed clean- that’s how good it was!  so proud. so proud.

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Shit Got Real

Last month I went up Mt. Whitney with WillTrek.  It was my first time making a video so enzoy!

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Frozen Yogurt

I have a few guilty pleasures in life.  They make me feel real good, but I always have a slight guilty cringe just before feelings of euphoria and excitement take over. The #1 guilty pleasure I have is dance movies like uh… Step Up, the second being the Bruno Mars song “Just the Way You Are” (please don’t tell anyone!!!! :), and the third being frozen yogurt.  Tart frozen yogurt has been the new craze these past few years (surpassing it’s predecessor boba tea) and has gained a lot of popularity, but I have been eating it for over 10 years.  Hi.  My name is Christine P and I am addicted to frozen yogurt.  Well, I’d like to call myself a frozen yogurt connoisseur.

i’m a yogurt pro, bitches

Frozen yogurt is promoted as being the healthy alternative to ice cream, but if you don’t do your research you won’t be getting the biggest bang for your nutritional buck.  There have been a ton of random frozen yogurt shops that have been opening up that promote their stuff as healthy, but don’t believe everything you hear!!  I single out frozen yogurt because they they really do push the health thing whereas ice cream shops really don’t care and admit they are not health-conscious.  Frozen yogurt uses their well-known yogurt backbone as their health platform.  Do not blindly believe- frozen yogurt retailers claim that their product has just the same benefits as regular yogurt, but it’s just not true!  Well first off, what health benefits does frozen yogurt have?  There are actually plenty.  Yogurt has a lot of calcium; contains live active cultures which helps with digestion, bowel movements, good for people that are lactose-intolerant, etc; it also contains protein which makes yogurt quite a nice balanced snack.  However, where things go wrong is that to make it taste good there are a lot of sugars added to it.  Take a look at the nutritional info on those yogurts and you can see the sugar content go hiiiiigggghh.  Most people don’t really think to look at the sugars since yogurt is “good for you.”

So let’s take a look at frozen yogurt.  The problem with frozen yogurt is that most products that are sold to stores come in powder form and are just mixes.  How can there be live active cultures if it’s just dried powder, you ask??  Some frozen yogurts don’t even have any live cultures because sold in its’ live form (most likely liquid that needs to be in a refrigerated temperature), it is very expensive to ship since liquid weighs more than powder.  Also, it is very costly to go through temperature/pasteurization processes to keep the cultures live so most stores don’t want to deal with it.  If you’re a live-culture fan like me, look at the National Yogurt Association homepage to see what brands are accredited by them.  To be accredited by the association, the frozen yogurt must be reach a certain criteria and a certain percentage of live cultures.

where else can you find millions per teaspoon? um. ha. ha.

Another problem that I have with frozen yogurt is the high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, it’s just corn sugar- I’ve seen the new commercials this last year.  I just still feel that there is not enough information regarding how our bodies process it.  There are tons of studies that say our bodies process it just fine but the idea still doesn’t really sit right with me still.  I try to eat it in moderation because I can’t avoid it completely, but I really prefer real sugar.  I definitely know that Yogurtland, Red Mango, and Goldenspoon have HFCS so just be aware of that.  In addition to the type of sugar, please please PLEASE check out the calories before you think they have all the same caloric content! Some yogurts pack up to 30 calories per ounce and I do not know anybody who only eats just 8 ounces!  It is very easy to pack on the yogurt at these self-serve places.  Another diet death trap are the toppings.  These can pack on so many sugars and fats that you might as well be eating a piece of chocolate overload cake.  If you’re conscious, just try to stick to the freshly cut fruits and nuts to keep your yogurt healthy.  However!!!!  If you really do want to feel good about yourself while eating these sugar bombs, just do it right after you weight train when you need sugar.  Frozen yogurt is a great post-workout feel-good treat.  It is “fat-free” so the glucose can enter your bloodstream quickly without anything slowing it down and it is just such a nice little reward for that hard workout you just did.  Frozen yogurt is the way to my heart ok? No chocolates, flowers, or teddy bears.  Just a carton of frozen yogurt :)

nobody swirls as good as this sexy little minx. little hands, strong wrists.

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Avo?

These past three weeks I’ve been obsessed with avocados… like SUPER obsessed.  I not only eat one a day, but sometimes two!  At this Korean grocery store nearby the office, they were selling four avocados for 99 cents!  Avocados usually cost about 99 cents each, and when they are in season you can get them 49 cents each.  I usually pass on avocados, but the Vietnamese in me couldn’t pass up this great of a deal.  No way man.  Sometimes I don’t even like foods, but when I see prices that are unusually low the Vietnamese in me comes out full force and I get really greedy.  So I uuuhhh… ended up buying 12  When I buy fruits, I either go by cost or by numbers.  This one was hard to decide because it was only 3 dollars but 12 avocados was a lot and I factor in how many I can/should eat so that’s why I ended up eating two a day sometimes.  Since then I’ve been continuing to buy avocados and have been eating them so much that they’ve become a new found love of mine.

I probably should’ve been loving them sooner since I am obsessed with eating healthy fats, but I just didn’t think about it.  Since I’ve been eating avocados I have been naturally eating less nuts.  So what are the facts on avocados, you ask?  There are many varieties of avocados and did you know they are also called alligator pears?  I wouldn’t exactly call it an alligator pear myself, but I guess it has a rough exterior that looks like alligator skin and is shaped like a pear.  Here in California, the Hass avocado has become widely popular and the type that is most marketed.  However, they are not marketed highly because of their superiority but because they have the highest value for the retailer.  The Hass variety has thick skin and don’t bruise as easily than their avocado cousins.  Thus, they can keep longer during transportation from farm to store, and keep better once at markets.  Other varieties are called Bacon, Pinkerton, Fuerte, Gwen, Reed, and Zutano.  I am falling in love with the Bacon avocado :)

Nutritionally all varieties of avocados have the same caloric content- 150g of avocados will deliver 240 calories, with 22g coming from fat, 13g carbs (10g fiber!!!!! and only 1g of sugar!), and 3g of protein.  Okay so you might be freaking out about the amount of fat in avocados and it’s not a big secret or anything, but they are actually good fats!  About 75% of fat in an avocado is from monounsaturated fat (the good kind!) so do not worry, my fat conscious friends.  They are also one of the only fruits that have fat, so they are quite special.  Avocados also contain 23-30% of your day’s worth of folic acid which help in the production of new cells.  Folic acid is also vital to pregnant women because it helps neural development in fetuses- so important that this is the reason why they fortify cereals with folate!  Avocados are have vitamin C, B Vitamins, Vitamin E,  Vitamin K, and more potassium than bananas!  In addition, avocados will help lower your cholesterol.  Surprise!!!  Who would’ve thought that something high-fat will help lower your cholesterol?  They are so good for you!

avocado

meet frank (short for frankenstein). i became greedy and cut into him too early and had to tape his open flesh so his meat would not oxidize and turn black. hopefully he becomes ripe. please pray for him.

In Vietnamese culture, they often eat avocado with condensed milk or mix that concoction into an avocado smoothie (sinh to bo).  This is SO tasty, but the condensed milk has a lot of fat and sugar so that is not how I eat my avocados.  When buying avocados, most stores will sell them when they are very firm to the touch.  Just bring them home and store them unrefrigerated.  They are ready to eat when the skin gives when you press into it.  To speed up ripening, just place them in the sun or in a paper bag with either a kiwi, apple, or banana.  These fruits give off ethylene gas which is the reason why they help speed up the ripening of an avocado. To eat an avocado I just cut it lengthwise until I reach the pit.  Then I cut around the huge seed and twist the avocado halves to separate them.  Using one swift ax-like ninja chop, the seed comes out with the knife.  I just scoop the avocado straight out of the skin with a spoon and eat.  Don’t be afraid to eat near the skin because just like most fruit, the most nutrients are nearest to the skin.  Enzoy!

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Sleep Aids

sleep aids=cool, but sleep AIDS=not so cool.

I’ve been having a really hard time staying asleep at night for the past several years.  Yes, I really did say several years!!!  I haven’t consciously been addressing the issue and was just complaining about the bad sleep I’ve been getting because I kept thinking that it was just a temporary problem.  I’d tell myself that it’d go back to normal soon.  However, this temporary problem persisted for almost 3 years.  Blame it on an active mind, but I just can’t fucking stop thinking enough to get a night where I sleep soundly the entire time.  The older I get, the more controlled I become under pressure so I end up over-taking care of myself cause I don’t want to get sick or get a million fucking zits on my face.  BEAUTY IS MONEY :)  I guess I just consider it being responsible for my own health.  Thus, I really have started focusing on getting good sleep because everything else (diet and exercise) is golden.

When I was younger, I thought it was cool to be able to run on 2 hours of sleep- it was as though I had defeated some big giant by not sleeping… but ah, the wisdom we accrue as we age.  One of the most essential facets of health is sleep, and on a physical training perspective it is even more important because that is when your body repairs and regrows all of your muscles.  I don’t have insomnia and can fall asleep rather quickly, but the problem is staying asleep.  I’ve always been a light sleeper and wake up for every damned thing.  These are a few accidental and purposeful sleeping aids I’ve found the past several years that I’ve finally combined to create my ultra-powerful sleep formula.

CHRISTINE PHAM FORMULA

1.  Blackout Curtains

I wake up whenever the sun comes out.  It’s good, I guess…. except for  those nights when you go to bed at 3 or 4 AM and the sun comes out at 6:30 AM.  I discovered this when I went on a cruise and got one of those cheapass interior rooms.  IT’S FUCKING PITCH BLACK.  I’d wake up and think it was 7 AM to find that it was 1 PM, and had missed out on the breakfast buffet at the Pacific Room!!!!  I think this happened like 2 out of the 3 mornings, and on the third morning I just set my alarm clock.  Trust me, if you have a hard time sleeping purchase some blackout curtains and make sure no light can seep through.  It’ll change your life.

2.  Melatonin

I know most people don’t like taking stuff and especially to “help you fall asleep,” but think of it as taking a vitamin (okay well maybe it’s just me that doesn’t like taking stuff).  Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound in animals (yes, we are animals) that is secreted to the bloodstream by the pineal gland.  It is stimulated by the lack of sunlight so that is why it is a popular supplement for travelers since it helps with jet-lag.  When you take melatonin, make sure you have at least 5 hours of sleep because if you don’t have enough time, you’ll wake up feeling really lethargic.  Initially I didn’t want to take melatonin because I don’t like being dependent on things, but after years of not sleeping I figured a small-kine dependency wasn’t that big of a deal.  As far as the milligrams, I purchased the huge tub from Costco which sells melatonin ultra which I don’t know what the hell that ultra is for.  It’s 3 mg, but I take 2 of those because I am sort of a badass.  I take one about half an hour before I am about to go to bed.  However, this is not really a sleeping pill so you’ll have to just be sorta getting ready for bed and it’ll aid you, not knock you out.

3.  Lavender Scents

Okay so this sounds super stupid and I was never a believer of lavender scents being soothing.  I actually kind of hate plug in scented crap, but I plugged one of these in my office one day because I figured why the F not.  I thought I’d make my window-less, next-to-the-break-room-burnt-croissant-morning room smell nice.  Well, suddenly one afternoon I was doing work and noticed myself dozing off.  I never doze off in the middle of the day unless some boring teacher is lecturing!!!  This started to happen days in a row so I knew something was up and started peering around my office all confused.  Deduction skills within 10 minutes!!!!  I know, I’m so smart- it was the stupid fucking lavender scented plug in.  My eyes zoomed into the plug.  It stared at me and I stared back at it.  I was horrified of the power of the lavender scent and immediately unplugged it.  Well, my foe has become my friend and I have one plugged in my bedroom.  It’ll go with my Wiccan decor, of course.

the fucking lavender plug-in did this to me

4.  Sleepytime Tea

My roommate gave me this tea and it caffeine-free loaded with some herbal sleep aids.  It has chamomile, spearmint, and the Sleepytime Extra by  Celestial Seasonings has Valerian root which hella promotes sleep cause it is an herbal sedative.  In ancient Greece and Rome it was prescribed for insomnia, so philosophy me that biatch. For me, it just helps me relax and unwind because of the act of having a cup of tea is relaxing.

5.  Warm phallanges

I specifically remember one night when I was younger when it was so fucking hot that I was walking around in my bedroom with the fan on, unable to sleep.  Did you know there was a perfect temperature to fall asleep to?  Your body has an internal set point for temperature and it sleeps best at its’ achieved temperature.  When you become uncomfortably hot or cold, you’re more likely to wake up.  The best temperature in your room for you to sleep in is between 65-72 degrees.  So if your room is too cold, but on some socks and warm clothing.  If it’s a hot night though, just be NAKED.  Cause of course, being naked solves everything.

INEFFECTIVE OR UNHEALTHY SLEEP AIDS

1.  Ambien

I took Ambien a few times, and it worked on me only the first time.  Uuhhh I was at the LAX international terminal on my flight to Paris and took the pill too early.  As I was called to enter the plane, I freaking stumbled and had to hold myself up against the wall.  soembarassing.  Well, after that time I’ve never been able to fall asleep when I took Ambien.  Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic that binds to receptors in the brain that promotes sedation.  However, there are a ton of  uncool side-effects to taking this such as  increased appetite, DECREASED LIBIDO, vomiting, etc… you know, all that fun stuff.

2.  Simply Sleep

So dammit when I was sick as a kid, I’d take Tylenol PM.  It was some strong shit cause I’d pass out cold.  I was like WTH is this crap making me pass out harder then Benadryl?  I looked up the ingredient and it was diphenhydramine.  Diphenahydramine scares me.  I noticed a new product a while back called “Simply Sleep,” and the italics of the main ingredient being diphenhydramine sparkled across my eyes.  So they had taken out the acetaminophen (the main pain relieving product in Tylenol), and just made a sleeping product.  It is a very old sedative meaning that it’s been around forever, but it has been used to treat other problems such as allergies.  It is a very strong product and also metabolized by the liver so USE WITH CAUTION.

simply sleep works wonders!

Well there are two other things that I don’t want to talk about that works, but I guess I’ll say it really quick because IT FUCKING WORKS.  It doesn’t mean I do it though :)  Smoke a shit ton of weed (umm before you get the munchies), and uuuhhh masturbate.  Think of the nice pleasant calm aftermath as you lay in a lover’s embrace…. by yourself.  Don’t tell anybody I promoted that though.  Just high-five me under the table next time you see me.

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