Tag Archives: Education

Cheesy Apple Bacon Muffins [gluten free]

This blog used to basically be a muffin blog. I ate a muffin a day. Muffins and eggs, muffins and greek yogurt, muffins for dessert, muffins for snack.

And then I got muffined out.

And then I got more paleo.

And now the muffins are back.

Cheesy Apple Bacon Muffins

Recipe: Makes 6 muffins – Gluten free, Primal adaptable, Sugar free

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (you can make your own!)
  • 1/4 cup real or sugar-free maple syrup (depending on your needs…and politics)
  • 1 cup diced pink lady apple
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded + extra for topping
  • 4 slices crispy bacon, nitrate free
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Primal version: 6 eggs and 1/2 cup coconut flour, no oat flour.

Directions – Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Microwave the bacon until crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Pour the grease into a jar and lay the bacon on a paper towel to dry. Dice the pink lady apple and set aside. Grate the cheddar cheese and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the coconut flour. Add the oat flour (I simply ground up oats in a blender until powdery) and maple syrup (I use Joseph’s Sugar Free with malitol) and beat again. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the batter and stir. Crumble the bacon into chunks and bits. Fold the apples, cheese, and bacon into the batter. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until the muffins have risen and are just lightly browned.

come to mama.

bacon never looked so cute

I’m on a bit of a life high right now. Yesterday was my first day at my LINC (low income housing) volunteer position. I got there early and helped my supervisor set up the room for the after school/summer program for the kids. The kids trickled in around 2:15 and had Enrichment until 4. I helped the cutest pair of 6 year old twins I have ever seen with their reading and writing. One of them has an afro mohawk and was really into his work and getting as far through the workbook as possible. The other was completely disinterested in working and just kept gazing off at the other kids who had already finished. He simply didn’t believe in himself! He thought everything was too hard for him. I kept telling him that he could do it – he could do whatever he wanted to accomplish as long as he didn’t give up and worked at it. We got through a few pages, but then it was snack time. During snack, my supervisor introduced me and we had the kids go around and introduce themselves. They ranged in age from 6 to 14 and were all very lively. Next, I had an hour to teach them anything. I started out with asking them to name a food they like and a food they don’t like.

They liked chicken, carrots, pizza, mashed potatos, tamales, fish, and chocolate. They didnt like broccoli, sea food, peppers, peas, onions and more broccoli.

Next, I asked them to name a food they thought was healthy and a food they thought “wasn’t good for them.” They thought carrots, lettuce, broccoli, watermelon, and olives (?!) were healthy. They thought cake, chocolate, gravy, bacon, cupcakes, ribs, and pizza was not good for them. I told them that we needed to move ribs to the good list because it was such a great source of protein.   That lead to a great little conversation on why and how protein helps us grow up and get stronger.

The main thing I wanted to get out of this first session was seeing how much they knew about the food groups, what the thought was healthy versus not, and what kinds of foods they liked.

The most successful part of the lesson was when I asked them to look at the list of foods they said were bad for them and figure out what the cake, chocolate, and cupcakes had in common. Silence. Eventually, one of the older boys screeched SUGAR!!!

 I asked them why sugar was bad for them… Silence again. Come on you guys, why is sugar bad for you? A boy in a 49ers hat raised his hand and mumbled “because it makes you fat.” This gave me a way to talk about how eating too much sugar and not moving around enough can make us gain weight because our cells aren’t eating all of the food we are giving them. The more we move around, the more our cells will eat the food that we eat.  It we eat too much sugar and don’t do anything, the food will become fat on our bodies. Also, sugar may give us energy at first, but then it will make us sleepy and leave us with less energy than we had before. They all seemed to understand and were particularly interested in why sugar leaves us tired and why protein helps us get stronger. I did my best! They also wanted to know what was wrong with my foot (I didn’t drink enough milk and yogurt growing up and didn’t wear proper shoes to work out in) and what that thing on my arm was (its a machine that measures my heart rate and steps every day to make sure I am active enough). 

I have three more sessions with them, so I’m thinking of theming one veggies, one fruits, and one protein/dairy. I contacted Chobani and they are going to send me yogurt to give the kids! I am so excited – I am sure that none of them have been exposed to greek yogurt!

Thank you to the couple of you that gave me suggestions. I really appreciate it. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Hello from Park City, Utah!

Finals ended last week and I am now enjoying Spring break. Rather than having a wild, typical college break somewhere, I opted to visit my parents at their new home. It’s lovely here, but so cold! I have just been relaxing and enjoying this view.

We went to a lovely dinner last night at La Caille, but I don’t have a cord to share the pictures at the moment, so foodie pictures may have to wait a bit! The only thing missing here is Nina! I miss her. And I am so glad that I am saying that right now because, not gonna lie, I was seriously worried about that for a while. The first two weeks of puppy ownership were hell. It actually made me question my desire and ability to have children one day. A couple nights were so bad that the next day I wondered if I would be one of those extremely unfortunate women who suffers from post-partum depression. Yeah… She is being watched by a puppy sitter while I am away. She sends me pictures of her throughout the day – it is precious!

Before I left…

On my flights over here, I had ample time to think about a few things. I have much more growing up to do and I have a few goals that I need to put out in the open in order to hold me accountable – no matter how embarrassing.

1. Be a better driver. This means always wearing a seatbelt and not speeding. I have improved in both of these areas, but the 25 mph speed limit in all of Davis is my weakness.

2. Be a more neat and clean person. Adults don’t skip showers for a day or two. They clean their bathroom and vacuum on a regular basis. They hang their clothes up immediately after drying or use. They do not wear black jeggings and Uggs in public. I need to do (or not do) these things. And take off that damn crusted nail polish!

3. Don’t be a grumpy beez. Especially to your mother, who put up with your shi-nanigans during your high school years.

4. Spend less $ on food. I actually have the opposite problem of most people – I need to decrease my consumption of veggies and quality proteins. This sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I thought that because I never eat out and prepare all my meals at home, I could spend whatever I needed on groceries because I was saving money in comparison. My last meal before leaving California for Utah changed my mind. In the fridge, I had a chicken breast, a bunch of kale, 1/3 of an avocado, and goat cheese that needed to be eaten. So, I grilled the chicken and sauteed the kale, and rubbed both with goat cheese and threw in the chopped avocado. This is what I brought with me to the airport for lunch.

Chicken = 2.50$ (half pound at 5$ a pound)

Kale = 2$ a bunch

1/3  avocado = .50$

1-oz goat cheese = .75$

So my homemade meal cost 5.75$. I am a college student. Who do I think I am?? Two years ago, I wrote a pamphlet on healthy eating that was aimed at teenagers and their families who live below the poverty line. I distributed them at the high schools and grocery stores in the least affluent areas of Austin. The pamphlet included a grocery list to sustain a family of 4 for a week for 60$. Obviously, goat cheese was not on that list. As a 21 year old student, I should not be spending more on my own eating than a family of 4. I eat tons of fresh veggies and lean proteins several times a day, so cutting back a couple times a week is not going to harm my health at all. I plan on incorporating a bit more beans and lentils into my diet and having a couple more typical college kid meals a week (think milk-and-cereal, I’ll never be down with Ramen). Feel free to comment with your thoughts, agree or disagree!

5. Continue to keep up with world events and always take the time to put yourself in other people’s shoes. What must it be like to lose your entire family to a tsunami or live in fear of a nuclear radiation leak? How would it feel to take part in riots that succeeded in forcing a multi-decade dictator to step down? How desperate must one be to light themselves on fire to protest police brutality? I want to do more than just acknowledge these things, but at the moment, I do not know what or how.

Before I go, I want to share with you a cool link! Yale University has a center called the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. On their website there is a page with tons of presentations from fabulous professors and experts on topics ranging from The Economics of Food Pricing to Food and Fashion in Our Society. Just read through the titles, pick one that sparks your interest, and click on it for the powerpoint!

Botox, MSG, Salmonella – OH MY!

Happy Monday everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately – life has been hectic with midterms and whatnot. Meals have been pretty repetitive and and rather visually unappealing (but still tasty!). If you are interested in my breakfast recipe for savory pumpkin-tahini oatmeal, let me know… And this weekend I went to Fresno to see all my housemates homes, so I didn’t cook at all! It was fun though; I got to meet all of their families and friends from back home.  I also attended a Japanese post-funeral gathering with lots of food and ate many things without knowing what they were. Twas interesting.

This week though, I plan on posting delicious recipes! At the moment, I am studying for my Food Chem midterm that is in two hours and I want to share some of the highlights of what I have learned in the last month. I’m actually just looking for an alternative way to study and am going to abuse y’all…. Continue reading

10 Things I Learned in Tibet

I never thought a vacation could have such a powerful influence on me.  All I knew when I hopped on the plane was that it is in China and some people have “Free Tibet” bumper stickers on their car.

I grew up on my trip to Tibet. Actually, that isn’t quite accurate. Growing up implies progress in a set direction. I grew sideways. Lopsided. I hung a bit to the left. Tibet changed my path. I was heading in a direction of perpetual discontent and destruction. Learning about Buddhism and being around Tibetan nuns made me realize that in many ways, I suck. And Im workin’ on it.

I learned more in Tibet than I probably did in grade school. Here are the highlights…

1. There is no such thing as a mere “military presence.”

What I mean is that if an area is being occupied by a country, there is not just a military presence. That phrase implies that there are a few soldiers standing about not really doing anything. A more accurate thing to say is that there is an active oppressive force at work. There is evidence of the Chinese oppression all over Tibet. In the last three weeks, I witnessed…

Snipers perched atop buildings watching everyone, dressed in full riot gear

Soldiers marching through the streets, breaking up any crowd of more than 5 people

Signs at public computers stating that “no religious, political, or pornographic material may be accessed”

Numerous checkpoints for proper permits and paperwork along roads

Fake plastic policemen holding real video cameras along the roads

Tibetan nuns brought to tears when the Chinese military is brought up, because they were tortured

The Dalai Lama (the highest Buddhist religious figure) is not allowed into the country

The Tibetans are not allowed to have photos of the Dalai lama

Teachers, monks, and nuns must sign contracts saying they are Communist

Videos cameras watching the monks in monasteries

The Chinese government gives incentives for Chinese people to move into Tibet, like no taxes for 5 years

A gaurd smashed a tourists camera because he took a photo of him

Fake tourist attractions with false historical information created by the Chinese

The Tibetan flag is banned

Some hotels are required to post pictures of the Chinese government

2. We are all products of our education.

The vast majority of the Chinese do not know the truth about their invasion of Tibet. They learn from a very young age that China freed the Tibetans from the oppressive Dalai Lama and monks. They are taught that the people were enslaved by them and that the monks took advantage of the people. They have no idea that the Tibetans did not want to be “freed” and they loved Dalai Lama. They do not know that the Chinese invaded Tibet in order to strip the land of its resources and utilize its rivers for their waning water supply. The Chinese know the Invasion of Tibet as the Liberation of Tibet, a joke to both Tibetans and foreigners.

Monks in a temple

3. Buddhism is not a religion.

I always thought that Buddhism was a religion, like Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is actually simply a way of living and being. One can be both Buddhist and Christian or any religion, if they so desire. It seems to me that the fundamental concept of Buddhism is living in a way that best serves others. Buddhists seek to improve themselves not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of all people. Instead of praying and asking a god for favors, Buddhists pray to be aided in their self improvement for the betterment of others. For example, I often prayed for aid in being more positive and more tranquil, so that I can be a better girlfriend, daughter, and friend. I often struggle with depression and anxiety, and it negatively impacts my relationships with others.

Buddhism also does not have a supreme being or God. There are deities, but these are basically just inspirational figures to help one become better. Instead having a list of things that Buddhists must do (like in Catholicism), Buddhists meditate. Meditation helps bring clarity and opens the mind to help one be more conscious in their daily life. More consciousness leads to better thought out decisions, actions, and words.

Buddhists prostrating in front of a famous temple

4. Traditional burials are a waste of space.

The amount of undeveloped land is constantly shrinking. Traditional burials with a full sized coffin and tombstone seem almost vulgar now. Who am I to say that my dead body is worthy of taking up space where trees and greenery could live? Tibetans have a beautiful ceremony called a sky burial for the dead. I had the honor of watching a sky burial on a mountain top in Terdrom. Three days post mortem, the body is taken up towards the top of a mountain. First, there is a ritual to separate the soul from the body. Once the ritual is completed, it is time for the body to be recycled back into the earth. The bodies are cut and the skin is removed. While this is happening, hundreds of vultures are flying overhead and congregating around the area. The family and anyone who wishes to watch surround the body in a semi circle about 40 feet away. When the body/bodies are done being prepared, the vultures storm the bodies and proceed to eat the flesh. After 20 minutes or so, nothing is left but the bones. The bones are then taken into a pot and boiled until soft, where they are then mixed with tsampa (ground barley) to make into an edible paste. This paste is also fed to the birds.

Vultures feeding on bodies at a sky burial

It may sound gory and “uncivilized,” but trust me when I tell you it is beautiful. The birds fly away and one knows that the honored person’s flesh will assimilate into the bird. A sky burial is the continuance of the cycle of life where as a traditional burial is an abrupt halt.

Though, to be honest, if I was going to have a sky burial for myself, I would prefer a bird other than a vulture…

5. No amount of Buddhist teachings, mantras, or meditation will ever make constipation OK.

Traveling in a bus for 22 hours and eating crappy Chinese food really messed with my system. I was tired after doing nothing. I felt mentally fuzzy. And I was pissed as hell because I was so damn constipated. Another woman on the trip, Bronwyn, was in the same bloat boat as me. We couldn’t talk about anything else.

“Lauren, would you like some noodles?”  “No. I am the antithesis of hungry. I am constipated.”

Lauren, wanna go on a walk?”   “Are you kidding?  I can hardly waddle. I’m constipated.”

“Lauren, we’re going to do some yoga, wanna join?”   “I can’t bend or move when I am full of sh*t.”

Our issues did make for a great dinner conversation though. Bronwyn brought up how bad it is that our mental wellbeing is so tied to our physical bodies. We should be able to be content and even happy even when our bodies are not in prime condition. We should be able to separate the mental from the physical. Most people let themselves feel horrible and guilty if they miss a workout, eat something “bad,” are constipated, or have physical pain. On the flip side, people also abuse their physical bodies to combat their mental state. For example, people over-exercise, binge eat, and take drugs in order to bring about a different mental state.

6. The ultimate test of one’s philosophy or religion is not in what they do but how they live.

This applies to both Buddhism, a philosophy, and all religions. With Buddhism, many practitioners and monks meditate in caves for days, months, and years. I met a monk who had recently finished meditating in a cave for 30 years! But if you are living in a cave, being selfless, positive, and open is not very difficult. There are no people to be rude or annoy the crap out of you, no chores to complete, and no stress. The true test of ones philosophy is being your ideal self during your daily, hectic life. Personally, I found it fairly easy to be tranquil and positive while I was in Tibet. I was constantly inspired by the most well-intentioned people. the Tibetans. But when I came home, I wasn’t very calm when some bourgeois asshole in a Bentley cut me off on the interstate, nearly sending me flying over the barrier. Or when the lovely Officer Mendoza wrote me a ticket for not signaling while pulling onto my street. Sigh. Today is a a new day.

The monk on the left meditated in a cave for 30 years, the woman is a nomad

7. Americans have the luxury of eating to reach a goal.

Bodybuilders and frat boys alike can chug whey protein shakes in order to get swoll! Vegetarians and vegans can munch on local veggies and feel good about not partaking in the slaughter of animals! Mamas can buy their babies organic baby food and BPA free bottles to protect them from harmful chemicals! Baby boomers can feed on antioxidant rich smoothies, take resveratrol supplements, and eat kale like its their job!

If you tried to do any of these things in Tibet, you would be met with a quizzical look and perhaps a giggle or two. Most Tibetans live on yak butter tea, tsampa, yak yogurt, yak cheese, yak meat, and noodle veggie soup. Tsampa is toasted barley that has been ground into a fine powder. They add yak butter tea (yes, tea with yak butter and salt mixed in) and knead it into a dough. This is eaten for 1 to 3 meals a day, depending on where the person lives and what their economic situation is. In Tibet, not eating meat just doesn’t make sense. Yaks are abundant and local. Importing vegetables to more remote parts of Tibet would be more harmful to animals and the environment then just eating yak products. Unfortunately, many of the imported fruits and veggies come from China, where they are heavily sprayed with pesticides.


Tibetans don’t eat to live longer or stronger, they eat to live.

8. Letting it all hang out is not sexy.

Tibetan women wear long dresses with sleeves called chupas. They are uber functional. You can store whatever you like in the many folds, like munchies, prayer beads, tissues, or even little gifts that funny American tourists give you. Tibetan men typically wear pants with nice shirts while monks wear special robes.

The one hour that I wore shorts, I was out in the middle of nowhere. We had been trekking all day though the mountains, sweating and heaving at 18,000 feet. When we got to camp, all I wanted was to let my legs feel the loving caress of the wind. So, I put on a pair of shorts and went for a short walk. I came across a two tiny little homes with a family outside. An older woman who appeared to be the grandmother saw me and got this horrified look on her face. She shooed me away with the flick of her wrists and a scowl. I usually take great pains to blend into whatever country I am visiting. I don’t want to offend. But, I had no idea that my knees would cause such a stir in the boonies. You would have thought I was wearing a leather teddy. Or was Lady Gaga.

Monks in their daily robes

9. Western medicine is like a prostitute. Eastern medicine is like a lady in waiting.

American’s want it fast. Gimme now! Fast food, fast service, fast results. Western medicine is expensive, but it works… fast. Got an infection? Cipro will clear that up in 2 days. Got the flu? A Z-pac and you’ll be fine. If you got the money, you don’t need the time.

Chinese medicine is more delicate. You have to take your time with it. Give it a little lovin’, a little willin’. The herbs are often taken as a tea. Morning, noon, and night you must crush your herb capsules and drink them down. You need to focus on getting better and will your body to comply. They are more gentle on the body and don’t pose the risks that Western medicines usually do.

Annie-la showing us which flowers to eat to cure certain ailments

But with constipation, go Western. ;)

10. Tibetans are sweeties.

This is probably because they are almost all Buddhist. My first encounter that made me think that Tibetans are the kindest people on the planet was when I was ridiculously lost and frantically trying to find my hotel. I asked for help and just pointed to a piece of paper with my hotel’s name in Tibetan. If they didn’t know, they would grab my hand and take me to someone that they thought might be able to help me. It took 6 Tibetans, but in the end one woman walked with me for 40 minutes to get me to my destination. My second sweetie pie encounter was when this small, poor family invited me into their one room home and offered me all that they had to eat. And tea, lots of yak butter tea. Until I was ill and burping yak. My third encounter was on our group’s 5 day trek. I sitting in the grass, taking a break, and trying to make myself a crown of flowers. One of our sherpas (mountain men who accompanied us on the trek) walked over to me and took the pathetic crown from my hands. He began to expertly weave flowers into it until it was perfectly round and the flowers pointed straight up. Awwww.

The flower crown

The one room Tibetan home