Monday, June 22, 2015

Want a quick, healthy meal idea?

So, it's been awhile since I've posted. I wanted to share my favorite meal idea, one I've been eating for the last 6 months. I've eaten this almost EVERYDAY for the last 6 months, it's that easy and healthy. And it's cheap!

Make a whole grain, such as brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa. If you have a rice cooker, this is even easier to make. Add canned beans (I make dried beans in my slow cooker, so easy!) or another protein such as tofu, frozen cooked chicken breast, or healthy protein of your choice. Lastly, add a vegetable. I try to eat one leafy green vegetable a day, such as swiss chard from my garden or frozen spinach. Sometimes I get bored of this and add frozen or fresh broccoli. Notice how I mention frozen foods a lot? You can get inexpensive frozen vegetables and protein (chicken, shrimp, or salmon) from Aldi or another discount grocery store. Most frozen foods are flash frozen, meaning they are frozen once they are picked or caught at the freshest moment. In addition, having frozen items means that you always have a healthy option on hand for a quick meal. Throw some rice in the rice cooker and you are done! Add a sauce to make it interesting (a low salt sauce!). You can make this vegan, vegetarian, or not.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Council for IWU Women 2014

Many people ask me what the Council for Illinois Wesleyan University Women does. It's hard to describe all of the wonderful things the council does. The Council mentors and guides female students, as well as educates students on leadership and professional development. Every year our Summit energizes both the students and the members.

This year's speakers were amazing! Thank you to Dr. Stephanie Whyte, Chicago Public School's Chief Health Officer, and Carlina Tapia-Ruano, a top immigration rights attorney. Both are alumnae of Illinois Wesleyan University and an inspiration to us all.

Council for IWU Women:
Carlina Tapia-Ruano:
Dr. Stephanie Whyte:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Bars for Thanksgiving

Every year, I'm charged with making the pecan pies for our family Thanksgiving dinner. I love to make chocolate pecan pie but this year, I'm making it a little healthier with Pumpkin Pecan Bars. This recipe is oil-free, sugar-free, and completely plant-based.

2 cup pecans, whole or pieces (can use a little less if using pieces)
3/4 cup soft dates, either Medjool or Deglet Noor
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tblsp soy milk or other milk substitute
1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cloves)
1 1/2 Tblsp corn starch (or 1 Tblsp arrowroot powder)

For the crust:
In a food processor, puree dates, adding a bit of hot water if dry, until pureed. Add pecans and pulse until chopped. Add cinnamon and mix . Press firmly into bottom of an un-greased 8x8 square pan. 

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees until firm. Let cool while you mix the filling.

For the filling:
Using a large spoon, blend canned pumpkin, maple syrup, 2 Tblsp soy milk, 1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning, and 1 1/2 Tblsp corn starch.

Pour filling on top of crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until slightly darkened and semi-firm. Let cool in fridge overnight or freezer for one hour.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Healthy Eating

One of my initiatives is healthy eating. I follow a whole foods diet, meaning I stick to unprocessed, real foods. I recommend this approach to my patients and suggest the Dietary Actions to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. When combined with a low daily sodium intake (50 mmol per day), the DASH diet reduces blood pressure by 11.5mmHg (Sacks, et al., 2001)!

Here is a fall cookie recipe I adapted from Brittany Mullins. This recipe is vegan (dairy and egg free) and oil-free. They could easily be made gluten-free if one used gluten-free flour and oats. I found that oil-free cookies are a little, well sticky is the best way to describe them. Most people don't mind the texture because they taste so great and have a normal mouth feel. It's just when you pick them up that they feel sticky.

Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Eating Bird Food 
Serves: 25
·       1 cup whole wheat flour (Gluten-free optional)
·       ½ cup old fashioned oats
·       1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·       ½ teaspoon baking soda
·       ½ teaspoon sea salt
·       pinch of ground nutmeg
·       1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
·       1 cup sugar
·       ½ Tablespoon ground flaxseed
·       1 teaspoon pure vanilla
·       ¼ cup vegan chocolate chips or carob chips
1.     Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.     Stir together dry ingredients (flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, sea salt, nutmeg) in a mixing bowl.
3.     Mix together wet ingredients (pumpkin, sugar, flaxseed and vanilla) in a separate mixing bowl.
4.     Combine wet and dry ingredients.
5.     Stir in ¼ cup chocolate chips. Mix well.
6.     Drop rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Press cookie dough down into a cookie shape with a spoon or your fingers.  Don’t worry about spreading.
7.     Bake for 15-16 minutes.

8.     Move cookies to a wire rack and cool completely before eating


Sacks, F.M., Svetkey, L.P., Vollmer, W.M., Appel, L.J., Bray, G.A., Harasha, D., … Lina, P. (2001).  Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 334(1): 3-10.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Team to End AIDS

Hi friends,

I am training for the Chicago Half Marathon in September with the Team to End AIDS foundation. I'm so excited to help this amazing organization. Lots of organizations have a half-marathon or marathon training team, but I choose the Team to End AIDS (T2) for many important reasons. 

Every 9 and 1/2 minutes someone in the United States is infected with HIV! And, nearly 1.2 million Americans are now living with HIV. But, this is only one side of the coin. We must fight the stigma that keeps so many suffering in silence. We all are in this together, and together we must take on HIV/AIDS on all fronts: prevention, education, and inspiration! That is why over the next several months I will train with T2 to push myself further and further to support the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). AFC is leading the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Chicago area by funding prevention programs and services such as medical care, food and housing, to stop the spread of HIV and help people live full and productive lives until the day there’s a cure.

Thank you in advanced for your support and donations. My goal is to raise $750 - every single donation helps me reach this goal.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Three Reasons Why Living in the USA is Great

1. Water safety: Many of my friends and family have traveled abroad but one of the worst things about developing countries is the lack of safe water. Microbes vary by area and people can get sick from water in the USA if they are from another country. However, our water is purified, filtered, tested and standardized by law. In most developing countries, water safety is a real issue. It doesn't just affect what you drink, but what you eat. As a vegetarian, it is hard to find safe fruits and vegetables. Many people from our group, including myself, got sick this year in Guatemala.

2. Plumbing: In Guatemala, as in many countries, plumbing is made up of clay pipes. This is the original plumbing that the Romans invented and Spanish brought this plumbing over to Guatemala in the 1500s. Due to earthquake and shifting of pipes throughout the years, the system can only handle water and bodily fluids- no toilet paper. This gets old quickly. Thank goodness for good infrastructure in the USA and other developed countries.

3. Safety: Although Antigua is one of the safest cities is Guatemala, there are still major security issues. In Chicago, I feel safe letting Gracie out at night or walking back from the bus after dark. In Guatemala, it's unsafe to walk around at night, even in a group that includes men. Cabs don't drive outside the downtown area after dark and hospital workers have to stay at the hospital overnight if a surgery ends late. The only thing I worry about at night is drunks on the L, which is a whole lot better than what Guatemalans worry about. To allay most of your fears, Antigua is safe during the daytime- there are lots of police who watch out for tourists, there are safe restaurants and hotels, and the people are nice. Although you have to be smart and prepare yourself, Antigua is a beautiful and relatively safe city that I recommend visiting. 

All in all, it was a great trip and I'm glad I went. I love helping others and the group I go with is amazing. Thank you for reading this blog and supporting me. Thanks as well to those who donated money to Faith in Practice or La Casa de Angeles.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Last Day

Today is our last day of surgery. Not much time to post but I thought I'd add some pictures of a Mother's Day alfombra, or carpet. They make them out of flowers at the town square. Mother's Day is pretty big here- they have fireworks and parties. So a Happy Mother's Day too all the wonderful mothers out there. The last picture is of a surgery- Don't worry you can't see the patient.