An Experiment with Death

I’m reading a lot about death right now.

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Photo by Mikes Photos on

Not for any deep reason- I haven’t experienced any loss, I don’t have any kind of illness, I just realized how little I’ve thought about death. There are some people who could argue that I don’t really have to worry about it and that’s okay, but I realized it’s better the devil you know rather than the one you don’t. It’s a personal thing- I just want to understand, to know more, especially because death and food go together.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on

There are stereotypes everywhere of casseroles and comfort foods during wakes and following funerals, deciding to stop eating, and how closely food is tied to our health. Almost anywhere you turn, there’s books about how to live longer, subvert disease, all through using the “power of nutrition”. 

But what is death and why are we so scared of it?

Learning about the things we know little about is a good way to broaden horizons, become more empathetic, and live in a way that seems more intentional than just letting information come to us in ways that just passively allow us to get an understanding of someone’s moment in time- through a quick post, a photo, a tweet, or a book, but I want to get a good idea of what the Western idea of ‘death’ tends towards.

I’ll be documenting my ideas here for sure in between internship posts, share what I’m reading, as well as field any comments, recommendations, or anything of the kind that I get via email or comment or social media.

Especially if you have any recommendations about readings, ideas, podcasts, about the link between food, death, and grief. A lot of the reads I have stocked up are more about death in general (right now I’m reading Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich) and would love more ideas.

I definitely want to hear from you guys about this from you guys. What was an experience with death that shaped you?

Ignorant Internet Round-up: April

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We all know the internet is rife with ridiculous claims, weird hobbies, and memes we wish would just disappear into the throes of time rather than continually show up on our newsfeed. I know from a personal standpoint, I’ve now developed a Pavlovian reaction to the week leading up to my birthday because I’m bracing myself for the inevitable onslaught of “It’s gonna be May” memes.

Ah, the joys of a late April birthday. If you’re not in finals, you’re slapped in the face with Timberlake memes.

So today I thought I’d share some stuff that made me balk, stare at my screen, or turn to whoever was nearby and cry out: ‘have you SEEN this shit?!’

Let’s start with this god-awful thing:


Here are my thoughts: incredible way to take two complex, multi-faceted issues in our modern society, and twist them around into your fat-shaming message.

This picture is not a new picture. It’s a “classic” meme photo, and is used in a lot of cries of ‘what is HAPPENING to US!’ despite the fact we know very little about this photo. It’s a classic fat-shaming image used for a lot of fat jokes.

That’s just the tip of the ice berg.

Next, let’s look at the message here. If we REALLY care about children? Why does caring for children have to be either we don’t want them shot in school, or we want to limit a person’s basic freedom to choose what food they want?

There are more issues at play when it comes to “regulating food” just than “hey asshole, don’t eat that, let’s tax it”. You need to look at economics, family dynamics, nutrition education, and the overworking of the lower classes when looking at this.

You can’t just share this meme, think you’re woke, and move on and not do anything.

Here’s another really ridiculous thing I’ve seen:

Brightside’s article on how to lift and keep your ‘feminine body’. 

What the hell is a feminine body?

I grew up big, broad, and was never really considered feminine because of it. I like my body and it took a long time to get there. And my body is perfect for lifting. 

So when I see articles like this I tend to purse my lips and shake my head. Lifting cannot, and will not, make you bulky unless you utilize chemical enhancers to give you a hand.

If you want to lose weight, lifting and cardio is your best bet. Yeah, there are different ways to lift if you want to look a certain way (body building does not an Olympic lifter make) but overall, you’re not going to look “manly” or “less feminine” to anyone except shallow assholes who would rather focus on what YOU’RE doing in the gym rather than staying in their own lane.

If you are really concerned, get a personal trainer or a coach, don’t listen to pseudoscience articles on the internet.

It’s no secret that the internet is the place to go for faux nutrition and fitness news, incorrect assumptions about public health, and the like, so these articles aren’t far from the norm. However, these are definitely the two I thought about the most when I ran into them.

What was the most recent online eye-roll you’ve seen? Share them in the comments below, I want to hear!

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. See you soon!

Can my son be vegan?

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When it comes to any kind of eating pattern, there’s always a natural worry that it could be unhealthy for your son and daughter. With veganism, which is a big change from a “standard” diet for most, it’s only natural to worry if boys can be vegan. Especially with our current culture surrounding masculinity.

If you’re on the internet, even just Facebook comments, you’re probably one of many who’s seen the term “soy boy” and stopped to wonder what that meant. Here’s a helpful video in case you’ve never heard it before (just a warning, it’s rather long) .

Like other forms of toxic masculinity before it, “soy boy” is a derogatory term used to tear men down who are “feminine” by traditional standards. It refers to the nutritional content of soy being like estrogen, which is a hormone responsible for what’s deemed to be more “feminine” traits. (Breasts, high pitched voices, less body hair, etc).

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See how “soy boy” is compared to the “manly” wrestlers?

The belief here is that these men eat a lot of soy, and thus are soft, feminine, weak (yeah, it’s not a kind term towards women, either), or any other derogatory statement about femininity you can dream of.

All this turns to the question if boys can really be vegans.

And the answer is yes.

But why is it yes?

Myths of Veganism

Veganism is different from plant based. Veganism is connected to animal welfare and avoidance of any animal product, including things tested on animals.

Since it’s rooted primarily in compassion, often veganism is stereotyped as “feminine”. Rather, we tend to see men as more rough and tough rather than crying or compassionate. And vegans are stereotypically the modern equivalent of tree-huggers, with most outspoken vegans being female.

“Soy boy”

The estrogen in soy does not cause femininity, either. The soy in tofu carries a plant-based, not animal based, form of estrogen that doesn’t affect one’s body the way taking an estrogen pill would. It completes a different purpose and doesn’t affect a teen boy’s development at all.

There are plenty of male vegans who are, pardon the colloquialism, “manly”, including:

And plenty more I didn’t include. This is just a short list to show that veganism doesn’t reverse puberty.

Meat, development, and other things

Other myths that stop guys from being vegan are that meat is needed for muscles- which is, again, not true. There are the guys I mentioned above, not to mention tons of vegan bodybuilders and lifters who are strong without needed to eat any animal products.

Live Kindly also has a list of 5 reasons guys might be scared to go vegan– if your son wants to be vegan and you have hesitations, this list might help, as would looking at Happy Herbivore’s interviews of a bunch of vegan men who live a regular life!

Like diets that contain animal products, a vegan diet can be equally healthy with proper planning and experimentation of different recipes and strategies.

There’s no need to worry if your son will suffer any adverse consequences from going vegan- they’ll be just as, if not more, healthy than their meat-eating buddies.

Any questions or anything you want to add? What are your tips for a first-time vegan?

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and make sure to smile at someone today. See you soon!


Is “Earthlings” OK for teens?

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The documentary Earthlings is a bit notorious in vegan spaces just because of it’s content. Unlike other food documentaries, it has little to do with what we eat. While it’s interesting, it’s certainly brutal, and a quick google search reveals people exclaiming that they went vegan because of the film.

I was already vegan when I watched it back in January, and it didn’t necessarily solidify why I was vegan, just reinforced things I had already heard. However having seen it now, I can certainly empathize with people who went vegan because of it.

If your teen is considering going vegan, there’s a good chance that they already have heard of this film if they’ve been researching on their own. Of course, you can’t dictate what your teen does and does not watch, but it might be a good idea to look into Earthlings a little bit.


I say this only because of it’s content and what they show is at least worth having a conversation about after the film is over. You don’t have to watch it with them (and if you weren’t keen on the idea of going vegan at all, skip this one), but it has heavy enough content that it should be discussed.

Earthlings starts with the thesis that humans are exploiting animals on this earth for their own gain. They travel through four supporting “paragraphs”: pets, food, clothing, and science.


Being a dog lover and someone who relies on her pets for emotional support, the pets section nearly made me quit watching entirely. They show dogs being put down, beaten, shot, poisoned, mistreated (most notably, a man putting his dog in a garbage truck that will eventually grind him to death. I still have nightmares about this scene). This alone might be enough to skip this documentary in your home.

Earthlings doesn’t spell out whether owning pets is ethical or not. Most believe these animals provide companionship and the relationship is legitimately beneficial for both parties. I can’t speak for the opposite side, because I’m biased when it comes to pets. But Earthlings will not make you feel bad for owning a pet so long as it’s loved and cherished.


Next it goes to food, which most emotionally driven vegan documentaries focus on in one way or another. The state of factory farming, of animal slaughter and mistreatment, is the main reason I’m vegan. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t imagine harming another being just to eat. Again, the footage is graphic (it is meant to shock you).


Clothing was a surprise to me, and even though I don’t wear fur, they explain how the fur industry gets its pelts. For science, another reason I went vegan, they do show dogs (beagles, mainly), and other animals being tested on. They talk about how it’s being used, what studies have used animals, and gives you context on it.

Overall I did find it a really interesting and surprising documentary. You always need to be aware of the message when it comes to documentaries, and Earthlings was written and narrated by lifelong vegans.


To help you, especially if you don’t want to watch the documentary yourself, I’ve compiled a list of things to talk about with your teen if they do want to watch Earthlings:

  • What do you think the main message was in Earthlings?
    • What did the filmmakers want you to know, and feel when you finished the movie?
    • How did they get you to understand and feel these things?
  • What questions do you have now that you’ve seen this?
    • What did you see that felt exaggerated, or you want to look into further?
    • What statistics and stories do you want to learn more about?
    • How will you know if a source where you find these statistics is a credible one?
      • (Shameless self plug way back to “Media Muck” to help them learn more)
    • How did the film make you feel? Did the filmmakers achieve their goal by making you feel this way?

I found this film a difficult watch, not in a bad way, but in a “this is really difficult to realize this is going on” way. If your teen wants to watch it, I would say it’s a PG-13 to R rating, and something you might want to watch first or watch with them to help talk them through what they saw.

What did you think of it? Did you watch it? I want to hear your thoughts!

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. See you soon!


Should my teen lose weight?



Phew! What a post. That’s all from me. See you guys next week for more funny anecdotes, stock photos, and hard-hitting research!


…Alright, there’s more to the story than just a ‘no’.

Diet culture is so invasive that we see messages everywhere about how to slim down, tone up, and look great while ignoring health and what it feels like to be as healthy as possible.

This media trick isn’t missed by your teens. According to this article, ½ of teen girls and ¼ of boys have tried to alter their body shape through dieting. You’ll notice that this article mentions that most of the girls who try to diet are already at a healthy weight.

What if my teen is overweight?


In adolescence, your teen going through a massive developmental period that rivals when they were infants. It’s important to make sure your teen is getting the nutrients they need for a healthy puberty rather than focusing on their size.

Rather than worrying about their weight, I want to shift the focus to their habits and health instead. This is where my slogan, “putting health back in the spotlight”, comes into play. By encouraging healthy habits in adolescence, your child is more likely to have a healthy puberty and healthy adulthood.

Why shouldn’t they lose weight?


In Dianne Neumark-Sztainer’s book, “I’m, like, SO fat!” she chronicles two long term studies regarding teens who diet: most of them gain it back, and were more likely to binge in adulthood. Meaning that in the end, these dieters gained weight rather than lost it.

That weight might be used for growth spurts later. If your child was designated female at birth, the weight gain from puberty is also seen as normal. In Sandra Susan Friedman’s book When Girls Feel Fat, Friedman touches on the fact that weight gain is normal. It’s just the pressure of society that stresses children out when their body gains weight to use for puberty.

What can cause a change in appetite in my teen?


Lots of things! While it could be emotional eating (more on this in a second), it’s more than likely your teen is having a growth spurt.

This awesome blog by Jill Castle, RD explains how to spot a growth spurt. Notice how she mentions a huge uptick in your teens appetite.

My teen isn’t eating well. I don’t want them to develop unhealthy habits. Should I talk to them?

When it comes to your teen’s health, there are lots of ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your child.

Talking to them is a slippery slope, as they’re already at an age where they’re becoming more body conscious (both due to puberty and starting to take note of the sex they’re attracted to/an interest in dating), but there are ways you can talk to your teen about their health in a way that doesn’t make them feel self-conscious about their size.

If your teen is the one to bring up their size and mentions dieting, Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer recommends these tips (these tips and more can be seen in “I’m, like, SO Fat!”)

  • Figure out the reason your teen wants to diet. Go beyond the size and see what’s bothering them
  • Talk to your teen about what a diet means. Do they mean cutting back on fast food? Meat? Helping identify what that means to them helps you make sure they’re still getting a healthy balance of food.
  • Focus on behaviors that encompass a healthy lifestyle rather than dieting, and offer to help them adapt these behaviors into their life

Is there anything, besides talking to them that I can do?

Leading by example and showing your teen that you’re in their corner is an amazing step, one that you’ve already started by reading this post!

Other suggestions, again from Dr. Neumark-Sztainer and Jill Castle are:

  • Model healthy behavior

This means that you don’t diet and don’t talk down about yourself around them. For teens, hearing you say positive things about your body that aren’t weight related will help set their mindset that their body is an awesome powerhouse capable of a lot of things that don’t depend on size.

  • Create a supportive environment

Easier said than done- I know that I always buy bananas, thinking I’ll eat them, and then suddenly I have a bunch of brown bananas with nothing to do with them.

This is a great way to help your teen development independence and take charge of their health. Have them come grocery shopping with you and pick out some of their favorite health foods so they have it on hand for snacks and lunches.

Let them help figure out certain recipes they’d like to try and help them learn how to cook it with you.

Find ways to decrease screen time where possible- don’t make screens negative, but offer to go on a walk with your teen after dinner, or another active activity you both like to avoid too much time sitting down.

Have any questions? Suggestions for fun activities to do with your teen? Let me know and join the #centerstageensemble on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!



Opinion: Weight Watchers…get with the program.

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Recently some news came out about Weight Watchers piloting a free program for teenagers. Rebecca Stritchfield wrote an amazing piece on it, and the circles I inhabit have come forward explaining why, exactly, this is a bad idea.

Teens are a vulnerable population as their bodies are beginning to change and rather than helping them celebrate this step into adulthood, weight watchers seems keen to make it easier to shame girls, and some boys, that their body is bad.

They’re not even an adult yet. Let them grow, learn, and enjoy their lives without the stress of ‘points’ or whatever garbage you decide to shove down their throats because you’re unwilling to change your mentality as to the idea of what healthy looks like.

This news in conjunction with the fact that I’m currently reading When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence by Sandra Susan Friedman has me thinking a lot about my own journey through body positivity.

The journey includes: being metaphorically dragged by my heels down a gravel road, laying by the side of the road refusing to move forward, and somethings rolling backward. There are occasions where I march forward, talk with people on the same journey, and stop and smell the roses of what it feels like to like my body and what it can do.

I don’t identify with girls who only started hating their size and body in high school or middle school. I remember teasing about my weight starting as early as elementary school and using food to cope with the fact that I had very few friends. I read and wrote a lot, liked a lot of non-mainstream nerdy things, and it wasn’t really until middle school that my social circle expanded.

Even then, food was my enemy. Because I was taller and heavier than my peers, and going through puberty sooner, my body felt less of a vessel to be celebrated and more of a neon sign to my faults. I couldn’t tell you when I started my first diet because I don’t remember.

What I do remember is my freshman year diet of five ritz crackers for breakfast, a 140-calorie bar for lunch, and a big dinner after I worked out because I ‘earned it’. Nowadays I know much better than that. It took years of learning, of dieting, and of wondering what was wrong with me to only realize that it wasn’t me.  Even this past summer I found myself thinking thoughts like that which I had in high school at the peak of my Eating Disorder-like behavior.

I don’t agree with weight loss for teens. I feel like now more than ever I can say that, after having a whole summer to come to this conclusion plus years of nutrition schooling.

I believe in healthy lifestyles for teens. But healthy lifestyles don’t include counting points or calories, excluding “”unclean”” food, or avoiding carbs just because some doctor without a nutrition degree said so.

I’ll talk about this more in my ‘should teens lose weight’ post, but teens don’t need a point system to tell them how to eat. They need patience, guidance, and occasionally therapy to help them through this time of intense change. They need adults helping them establish healthy habits (which yes, includes treats every now and again), and to learn that their bodies deserve to be hungry and to grow.

For the sake of girls and boys who, like me, weren’t small enough for society’s liking- don’t sign your child up for weight watchers. Talk to them. Teach them what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Find role models similar to your child’s height and weight and show them that success doesn’t come in pounds. Books such as “I’m, like, SO Fat!” and “When Girls Feel Fat” are excellent resources in helping teens who are having issues with body positivity and healthy living.

Remind them, like Clarence the Angel reminds George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, that “no man is a failure who has friends”.

Let me know what you think about this. You can comment, reach me on Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram.

Buffness Not Required: Protein Basics

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Protein – the macro, the myth, the legend.

Probably thinking about protein

It’s elusive. It’s confusing. It’s something your mother worries about when you mention that your teen wants to try being vegan.

It’s everywhere. Protein powders, protein bars, protein cookies, protein gummies- yes, they exist, and I still gag just remembering the taste.

If the idea of protein has you quickly trying to procrastinate your thoughts about the mysterious macronutrient, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Protein can be really tricky and it doesn’t help that there are a bunch of stories warning you about the dangers of too much protein, too much protein, or looking at protein funny.

Let’s look at this modern-day mystery piece by piece:

What is protein?

Protein is what’s called a macronutrient- meaning, it’s a big thing made from lots of little things. Those little things, amino acids, help build up muscle and can be used as energy when needed. Amino acids in the body go through wear and tear as we move, exercise, and even just exist. We eat protein so our body can toss out the old amino acids and replace it with delicious, shiny new ones.

Amino acids are the “building blocks” of protein

If you lift weights, it’s especially important to keep your protein consistent so your muscles can grow and become strong.

Protein does NOT mean only meat and dairy. It just means the macronutrient- protein is found in almost all foods in some way or another- and there are plenty non-animal sources of protein like beans, lentils, soy milk, hummus, chickpeas, and meat free substitutes.

Why do I need it?

We spoke previously about how our body breaks down amino acids over time and gets rid of them, taking in new amino acids to keep our muscles in tip top shape. Protein is so much more than a one-trick pony, and has more to offer than just the lego-like ability to build us up and make us look buff.

so buff.

Protein also acts as something that keeps us full much longer than simple carbs. Time how long it takes for you to get hungry after eating a beans & rice dish vs. just a jelly sandwich with white bread. The beans and rice dish will keep you fuller for longer and with the sandwich…I give it about five minutes (but I MIGHT be speaking from personal experience there).

If you’re a fellow ADHDer, protein is an important tool in ways we can help our brain stay constant through the day. Simple carbs give everyone (not just people with ADHD) a dopamine hit.

It’s the lack of this feel good hormone dopamine that experts believe is the cause of ADHD. So when our brain gets a boost of joy from dopamine, something our body already lacks, it makes us want a little more. And a little more. Eventually we crash.

Protein helps us avoid this consequence by making us feel fuller for longer and less likely to reach for simple carbs.

Sounds great! Where do I get this ‘protein’?

Photo by it’s me neosiam from Pexels

Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, there’s something to be said about plant-based proteins. Foods like:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa

All have benefits beyond their protein. They all have:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Fiber (everyone’s best friend. Stay tuned to Center Stage to find out why!)

And can be prepped quickly. Soak dry beans, lentils, and chickpeas over night and you just have to boil them for about 20-30 minutes. You can stick the soaked proteins into a crockpot with some water or broth and leave it on low throughout the day. Or buy them canned and give them a quick rinse through then serve! The possibilities are endless!

For snacks, pack some peanut butter and fruit, or trail mix, or some almonds for a grab and go option. If you like animal products you can grab some cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt.

Protein powders are a good way to supplement your protein intake if you wake up and don’t feel like eating, or you get home from work and want something but don’t feel like prepping. Whey is the best for a pre or post workout treat, and casein is better for a snack, as casein is slower to break down in our body than whey.

You can also buy vegan protein powder, here are two brands I use for my needs:

MRM Veggie Elite from Amazon is GREAT- for those on a budget and off. You can make custom blends of vegan proteins you like and choose the flavor, as well as boost it with any add ons you might need.

How often should I have protein?

It’s a good idea that if you’re going to have a meal, you should include a source of protein. I would use an online macro calculator to help you find out how much protein you need in a day then divide it by the number of meals you have a day. I also strongly advise seeing a registered dietitian as well.

Protein is helpful for people with ADHD to regulate their cravings and help keep them from refined sugar. On top of that, it’s a great way to feel full and help build muscle!

What’s your favorite way to get protein? Any recipes I should try? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it to my Pinterest!

See ya soon, beans!

Join the ensemble and use the hashtag #centerstageensemble on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

note: All photos in this blog were from, with credit given as dictated by the photographer’s request on the website.

In Defense of Breakfast


photo credit: jeshoots on PEXELS

It happened again.

Your alarm went off WAY too soon, you’re scrambling to get out the door, and breakfast is nothing but a quick cup of coffee before you get to class.

You’re a little hungry, but you know lunch is coming up soon, and you push through it until your head starts to ache and you get grumpy. As you eat lunch, the symptoms get better, and you tell yourself you won’t do that again until the alarm goes off WAY too soon the next morning…

Breakfast is heralded as “the most important meal of the day”! And despite what you may hear, this still rings true.

Why is that?

Our bodies burn energy even while we sleep, so the food you ate the day before is burned as energy while your body works to repair, rejuvenate, and ready your body for the next day. So when you wake up, your body has been burning energy for a while, even if you haven’t be conscious enough to notice it.

I remember back when I was in high school, it was always advised to drink a tall cold glass of water before even considering the idea you might be hungry. I would eat minimal breakfasts and then wonder why my head ached a few hours later.

Because you were HUNGRY!

Even if it’s just a piece of toast, fruit, and some peanut butter, that kind of energy can go a long way from avoiding that mid class burnout.

Activities that need your attention and brain power, like work and class, can only be hindered by the brain fog that comes on when you start to get hungry. And if you can’t sneak a snack, that can only make it worse.

So eat your breakfast!

Time-Saving Tips

For people like me with ADHD, switching tasks can be difficult. This is, in part, due to executive dysfunction. That difficulty is often due to the overwhelming-ness that comes to moving from one task to another.

A lot of reasons as to why ADHD people have issues switching tasks, here’s an article from Adult ADD Strengths.

How can we apply some of the advice that Pete Quily offers to breakfast?

  • Plan ahead! Make your breakfast ahead of time so you can just grab it the next day
  • Set alarms for when you need to get up, shower, get dressed, so you have an external motivator for staying on task.

Need some ideas?

Feel free to poke around my Pinterest account for some breakfast ideas, and here are a few I rely on when I’m in a jam!

…Get it, jam?


Overnight oats! 1/2c oatmeal, 1/2c milk (or water), and about 1 Tbsp chia seeds.

Combine these into a bowl or mason jar and add any extras you might want (eg, some cinnamon, vanilla extract, cocoa powder) and stick it in the fridge overnight.

It’s better to add stuff like protein powder, peanut butter, and fruit in the morning just so these things don’t get soggy.

Yogurt Parfait: 1c yogurt, frozen or fresh fruit, nuts. Combine all of these in a container and let it sit in the fridge!

Both of these meals are easily transferable to Tupperware to take with you on the go, so if you are running a little late (and let’s face it, we all are sometimes!) it’s a great way to stay healthy on the go!

I’m planning a round up of some other of my favorite recipes I’ve tried and seen around Pinterest, so stay tuned! I’ll include some vegan recipes too!

What are your favorite recipes? Please give me some new ideas!

Til next time, beans!

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What to eat before a big exam

Good morning, my coffee beans!

I missed you all! Tell me ALL about your weeks. How did it go?

It has been a whirlwind of a week. I took the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) on Friday after studying for about two months. Between rehearsals, classes, and work, applying to graduate school is slowly backing off of my to-do lists and I’m feeling relaxed again.

It’s getting into the lovely mid-November weather that I’ve come to love in Green Bay. Yes, even though it’s October still, Green Bay likes to skip over the cool October weather I’ve grown accustomed to in Chicago and skips right to the grey, chilly Fall weather that foreshadows winter.

For today, I’m writing a cuddly post to help my fellow GRE-rs fuel their body & mind for the inevitable day they take the exam. For those of you still in high school, this can apply to your ACT, SAT, or even that big test you’re worried about!

I made sure to try and give myself enough time to eat. I was already so anxious for the exam, I didn’t want to eat too fast and throw up on top of it!

Here’s what I ate (no pictures, it was too dark and I was too nervous!)

  • Overnight oats with chia seeds & chocolate chips
  • Some Gardien beefless crumbles with salsa & peppers
  • Broccoli and hummus

Before I go into why I ate that, I want you to think about it too: what do these three things have in common?

Have an answer yet?

If you thought “fiber”, or “slow-releasing energy”, you’d be right! The last thing I wanted was to get hangry in the middle of the math section, or get that annoying brain fog while trying to figure out which vocabulary term fit a sentence better!

Read on to see how I avoided that, and for some ideas for some pre-exam fuel!

Overnight oats with chia seeds and chocolate chips:

Okay, I’ll admit, the chocolate chips were because I love chocolate! Aldi’s just started selling 60% cacao chocolate chips and I was ecstatic when I saw it! They taste SO good and I love bitter chocolate, so I added some of those little guys for a bit of comfort.

Oatmeal has tons of soluble fiber, meaning it takes a while for the body to digest and keeps you fuller for longer. The chia seeds were put in overnight to help absorb the water of the oats and for their benefits.

Chia seeds have: 

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Antioxidants

All have a positive effect on the brain and slow digestion even more with the added protein and fiber. Plus, they can add a little texture to the oats meaning you’re not chomping on mush! They’re tasteless so don’t worry about this messing up your overnight oats!

Gardein beefless crumbles, peppers, & salsa:

As a weightlifter, I need to make sure I get the protein my body needs to continue to repair my muscles and to help fuel my training. Since I don’t eat eggs, I improvise with other kinds of things like tofu, Gardien (not sponsored!), and Morningstar. Protein is another slow-digesting nutrient that keeps you fuller longer since it takes a while to digest.

The peppers were for a healthy dose of colorful veggies for antioxidants, and the salsa was for taste! I usually season my beefless grounds with paprika and cumin for a nice earthy taste that goes well with mild salsa.

Broccoli and Hummus

Broccoli is ridiculously good for you. Not only is it packed with vitamins and minerals, it also had fiber to keep me full for the long run.


The fiber in broccoli is a little bit different from the fiber in oatmeal- broccoli’s fiber is primarily insoluble, meaning our bodies can’t break it down completely. So, it travels in our intestines for a while until it hits the large intestine, where it’s nutrients are given to our friendly gut bacteria and the rest is sent off!

Hummus was for more protein, some healthy fats, and taste.

All of these kept me full for a long time! Now, the GRE is about 3.5 hours long, and you get a break halfway through. Since I only had ten minutes for a break, I had nuts with chocolate chips (What?! I told you guys I loved chocolate!) and a quest bar.

Both of these items had healthy fats, protein, and just enough fiber to hold me through for a while. And a little bit of comfort with the chocolate 🙂

What are some of your favorite pre-exam foods? Or are you too nervous before an exam to eat? Let me know in the comments below!


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7 Reasons to Read The Hungry Brain by Dr. Stephan J. Guyenet

Dr. Stephan Guyenet has quickly become one of my “follow forevers” in the world of nutrition research and he should be one of yours, too.

His debut book, The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the instincts that make us overeat, was an amazing read that I’ve added to my nutrition lover starter kit shelf on Goodreads. And my shelf for parents looking to improve their child’s nutrition .

You can find a copy to buy from his website, which I’ve linked here.

I seriously enjoyed reading his book and I can only hope that Dr. Guyenet writes more, as his book was one of the best nutrition books I’ve ever read.

Here are my top 7 reasons as to why you should read this book immediately:

  1. Easy to understand
  2. Guyenet’s informal, but educational, tone
  3. Brain science!
  4. Integration to any eating style
  5. No stakes in the game
  6. Covers all aspects of what can cause overeating
  7. No blame game

That’s the quick list of the seven. If those quick points didn’t sell you, we’ll look at each in detail!

Easy to understand

Dr. Guyenet’s book isn’t full of jargon that only the most “learned” scientists can follow. There’s science, yes, but it’s all explained in a way that someone who isn’t involved in science will have no problem following it, and it will also keep the scientific reader engaged.

The best teachers are able to break down science into metaphors, laymen’s terms, and can manipulate the vocabulary in a way that makes science accessible while still remaining accurate; which is a definite strength of this book.

Informal, but educational tone

Dr. Guyenet does not talk down to his readers. He writes in a way that breaks down this awesome groundbreaking research for everyone to understand.

When I was reading Hungry Brain at my favorite coffee shop downtown, it felt like the PERFECT setting to read this book. It’s almost like you’re meeting a friend who’s catching you up on all the interesting things they’ve been working on since you saw them last.

Brain science!

A book with the title The Hungry Brain would be worthless if it didn’t have anything to do with the brain!

Eating is so much more mental than we might believe. You see diet ads everywhere that blame “cravings” and say a food’s “bad” but there’s is so much better! Trick your brain into eating something healthy even when you’re craving something unhealthy!

But…what does that mean for us? Why do our brains tend to lean more towards certain kinds of foods over others? You can find the answers to all that in more in Hungry Brain

Integration to any eating style

While Hungry Brain touches on the causes of overeating and weight gain, this book can translate well into the philosophy behind intuitive eating. Intuitive eating, the belief of listening to your hunger cues and honoring your cravings, is only strengthened by the ideas presented in Guyenet’s book.  

An understanding of why you might be craving a certain food, whether you need it or want it, can be made clearer after reading Brain. Is it the high fat content? Do you just want it? In my opinion, Brain can help someone who eats mindfully or intuitively to better serve their body and brain with healthy food options.

It also translates well to other eating philosophies, like veganism, paleo, IIFYM, you name it. Guyenet doesn’t “push” a certain diet plan, which leads to point five.

No stakes in the game.

Remember my previous post about media muck and how we learned how to determine if a nutrition article is worth paying attention to? Guyenet’s book fits the definition of something worth paying attention to.

At the end of a lot of nutrition books you can see people selling their nutrition programs or exercise programs, or worse, their book reads like a long advertisement for their nutrition program.

Guyenet just explains how the brain drives what you eat, and at the end gives a few pieces of advice to set you on the path of reducing processed food intake and paying attention to what you eat. You can tell this was written to relay information, not just sell a program.

Covers all aspects of overeating

Food companies aren’t depicted as villains furiously twirling their moustaches while they tie your eating habits to the train tracks, rather, Guyenet covers emotional eating and impulsivity and how those work to drive your food cravings. It covers what’s called the “physiology” of the body and how our outside world affects what our brain does.

You’re getting a pretty darn good overview of every reason someone might overeat or have issues controlling their appetite.

No blame game

At no point is the finger pointed to the reader. Guyenet lays down the science and lets you make up your mind about how to feel about it. You’re taught that this is how the brain works, this is where something can have a hiccup and cause over eating, and you’re told how it can be reversed.

You are given autonomy, treated as an equal, and given tools for success- whatever you may define that is. Overall, Guyenet’s book was an amazing read and I look forward to using it as a reference in my studies and practice.

Want to talk more about the book? Did you love it, like it, found yourself not being too fond of it? What did you like the most?

Tweet me, message me on Facebook, use the hashtag #centerstagecoffeebeans on Instagram, or snap me a question!