Summer Is Coming and I’m not Ready

Pale, hairy legged, and stressed, I’m not ready for summer. I don’t even want to talk about the illusive “bikini body” everyone’s talking about because, lets be real, I’m not ready for that semi-nude part of summer either. I’m still in the part of my life where my perception of a calendar goes by semesters instead of actual years. I still get to have spring breaks and pretend like my summers are going to be relaxing. In reality, summers are stressful. There’s this skewed perception that you’ll have a grand ‘ole time, but in reality you are procrastinating more than ever when you should be looking for a dreadful 40 hour job, you’re getting sun burnt to a red blotchy crisp, and the lack of structure/routine is causing you to stay up to ungodly hours watching terrible Netflix shows. Then if you’re anything like me, you’ve filled all the extra time with some kind of environmentalism or social justice work, skewing your perception of “relaxing summer” even more. Exhibit A shown below of my friend Andrea and I, “working” on a Sierra Club Student Coalition summer program we’re helping create in Colorado this summer.Yeah we work on social and environmentalism in coffee shops in Denver

We drink coffee and tea like the egotistical millennials we are ;)

Things have gone down hill. I have yet to do any of my work and I haven’t had a haircut in months, but here I am. I used to joke about how long I could go without brushing my hair until it turns into cultural appropriation, but now that’s turning into a reality (BTW, if you don’t know why my hair dreading is problematic, check out this analysis of Beyoncé’s line “Becky with the good hair” from the song “Sorry” here). And I maybe have a job??? But I’m not sure. I’m broke, I somehow still have a yoga membership that I never use, and my friend somehow convinced me to start religiously going to the gym. AKA my life is a mess! I guess that’s just what summer’s all about as a college student. Am I bitter of the semi-acquaintances I have from school who are off sitting on the beach in Hawaii or at a spa in Nepal? Of course! But I also love Colorado, I love the work I’m doing, and I love my friends who take me to cool cafes in Denver. I hope you have a perfectly dysfunctional summer like me because maybe that’s the way to go in life.

Poached Chicken Perfection

Crock pots are a college student’s best friend. Nothing is better than coming back from a long day of classes and studying to having a fully cooked meal prepared. Even better than that is having all your meals prepared for the entire week all set and ready to consume. A staple in my busy-college-student-life, that I always make at the beginning of the week, is poached chicken. As a college student, the extent of your cooking is probably along the lines of “What is cooking?!” or sometimes the lovely “I only know how to make toast and a nice bowl of cereal!”. So, when you hear “poached” your first thought is probably of the illegal ivory trade perpetuated by evil poachers in African countries (or maybe that’s just my first thought oops). Well, have no fear young-scholarly-future-chefs, I shall guide you. Poached is simply defined as anything that was cooked by simmering in water. You can poach eggs, fish, meat, and even vegetables. When you poach a whole chicken, the meat falls easily off of the bones and is perfect for storing for later meals.


how i poach a chicken

  1. First, I buy an organic, whole chicken. I bought mine from Trader Joes, but most grocery stores will have the option of buying organic. Yes, it will be around $10 and that sounds like a lot, but this chicken will last you through many meals throughout your week.
  2. Then take your chicken out of its packaging (duh, but sometimes people need that instruction. Yeah, I’m looking at you) and place it in your handy-dandy crockpot.
  3. IMG_20151006_152028541Place any vegetable that might enhance the flavor of the chicken and broth (yes, you will be getting broth from this recipe as well) in the crockpot with your chicken. I chose some left over scallions and some carrots. Other things you can add: leaks, yellow or white onions, celery, garlic,tomatoes, pepper corns, ginger, mushrooms, bay leaves, whatever left over vegetables or fresh herbs you have in your fridge, or dried herbs you have in your cabinet.
  4. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to help extract the flavor and a touch of salt. Make sure your apple cider vinegar is unfiltered, raw, unpasturized, if you can, so that you get the enzymes still in it to help with digestion. I like this brand, that can be found in most grocery stores.
  5. Cover completely with filtered water (you can be like me and be bad and just use the local tap water that contains chlorine and fluoride that’s probably affecting my brain chemistry oops).
  6. Lastly, cover and turn on low for 8-10 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

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[This is what my crock pot looks like when I turn it on to poach a chicken]
When you’re chicken is done, the meat should fall right off the bones. I like to put my chicken in tupperware containers to keep for future meals. Once you’ve taken all the chicken off the bones, use a slotted spoon to scoop all the bones and vegetables out of your broth. The vegetables and herbs used to poach your chicken won’t have much flavor left in them so I would just compost them, if you can, but don’t compost your chicken bones because those can’t be composted. If you don’t have a slotted spoon, you can use a strainer to get all the bits and pieces out of your broth. Keep the broth to make into soup for the rest of the week or to drink in the morning for added benefits. Here’s a lovely, informative article on the benefits of drinking bone broth.


 

Poaching a chicken at the beginning of the week is a great way to make effortless meals as a college student. I add the shredded chicken to salads, omelets, and as a side of protein to create balanced meals. Expect to see future recipes including this chicken because I make a poached chicken every week.

I hope this recipe will support any college student, or individual in general, who wants to add meal planning to their journey to a healthier lifestyle. It sure helped me!

Peace and love,

Amanda

College Stress Sucks Eggs

GRUMPYou’re a college kid, so you’re bound to get stressed every once in a while or basically all the time. Maybe you have two midterms this week, you’ve got a huge paper due tomorrow, there’s a Mt. Everest of dishes in your sink, and you can’t seem to find a pair of matching socks to save your life because you haven’t done laundry in weeks. Or maybe it’s just Monday tomorrow and Mondays suck. Well, you’re not alone. All college students go through these motions. The great thing about stress is that there are ways to manage it!

The first step in stress management, in my opinion, is to acknowledge your feelings. Sometimes stress can be an accumulation of feelings. Are you overwhelmed with the amount of things you have to do, are you frustrated that your exam got moved to an earlier date, are you sad because of a breakup? There’s this assumption that in college you will be happy and healthy the entire time you’re in classes, but in reality, life happens, and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes you just need to take it one day at a time, and that’s completely okay. Here are some things you can do to improve your day and reduce stress:

  1. Meditate – The best way you can start your day is by sitting down and meditating. Some people think of it as a very hippy-dippy thing to do, but trust me when I say it’s worth a try. You don’t need to have dreadlocks, wear a tie-dye t-shirt, and go barefoot to get the full experience of meditation. If you’re new to meditation, start by meditating for 10 minutes and gradually move up to 20 minutes. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, wake you up, make you be a better driver, and last longer in bed (hehe). I’ve listed some great references to support you in your journey into the zen life:
  2. Make yourself a nice breakfast to treat yo’ self – But I don’t just mean eat a nice breakfast, I want you to experience your breakfast. Put your gluten free 2-ingredient pancake on the nicest plate you have (even if it’s just stolen from your dorm’s dinning hall oops), take slow mindful bites of your breakfast to really taste your food, and sit down while you’re eating. You start your day on a high note when you’re fully nourished.
  3. Journal – Sometimes writing everything down is all you need to clear your head. You physically take everything fogging up that big brain of yours and put it down on paper. I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but there should be because it’s a miracle medicine for figuring out your shit. I like to start with writing down all the things I’ve done that day and usually my mind progresses to other things like how fucking annoying Becky was that day (just kidding, I don’t know anyone named Becky. If I did, not to be prejudice against all the Beckys out there, but I bet she’d be really annoying). If you can’t think of anything you did that day, or you just laid in bed all day and ate cereal out of the box because life, write a nice list of all the things you are grateful for in this big, disastrously beautiful world of ours or write about the last time you laughed really hard. Trust me, it will put a smile on your face. 
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    [fresh mint tea]
  4. Make a HUGE cup of tea (emphasis on the huge) – Tea is my life. Sometimes I think it would be more efficient for my body to flow tea through my veins instead of blood, but then I realize that would probably kill me because science blah blah. Anyways, tea stands to be my biggest go-to for when I’m stressed. There are studies that show that holding a cup of tea gives you the same oxytocin release that you get from receiving a hug. Oxytocin is the lovey-dovey hormone that combats the stress hormone cortisol. So if you’re stressed, just hold a warm cup of tea in your hands and let the coziness effect set in. Here are a few teas I’ve tried that directly address stress:
    • St. Johns Wort – The first time I ever had this tea, my mother gave it to me. I was PMSing like there was an apocalypse occurring on Earth and I had stubbed my toe all at once, so she handed a tea bag to me of St. Johns Wort. She stated, “Drink this, it’s what menopausal women drink”. So I may not be going through menopause, but it sure did calm me down. [disclaimer – not recommended to anyone taking birth control or any other form of hormonal medication. This tea is meant for balancing hormones and that’s the opposite of what you want when you’re taking birth control or hormonal medication. Please don’t risk getting pregnant just to de-stress]
    • Holy Basil – This natural antidepressant is great when you have long term stress or depression. It may take a few cups over a couple weeks for the effect to set in, but drinking a cup is extremely worth it. If you’re feeling fancy, you can get it in a tincture from your local health store to add to your smoothie bowls.
    • Chamomile or Mint – These teas are your classic teas for de-stressing. They can be found at any grocery store in the tea isle. These teas are perfect for right before bed, when you want something to soothe you to sleep.
  5. Lovely Sunshine and Endorphins – Even if the only energy you can muster up is to just walk around the block, do it. We underestimate how important it is to get your daily vitamin D. According to a Scientific American article, three-quarters of United States is deficient in vitamin D. Just a week after I started taking a vitamin D supplement, I started to feel happier and healthier. So, getting your vitamin D, while getting in some light exercise can significantly lower your stress-levels. I swear if I didn’t get my daily dose of endorphins, I would be a mess. Getting in exercise in the morning is great if you want a little extra energy for that day. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “How can feeling like death will working out energize you?!”. Well, if your body is working properly, it does.
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    [Dear Mother, it’s actually grape juice I swear]
  6. Bubble Bath time – Okay, if all was right in the world there wouldn’t be a severe drought in California and we would all own claw-footed bath tubs, but sadly this dream of mine has yet to become a reality. If you live in an area where water scarcity is not an issue and you luckily own a bathtub, then I recommend you take a long, warm bath filled with chamomile, epsom salts (very inexpensive at most grocery stores), and any essential oil of your choosing (mine is eucalyptus, because lavender can be a skin irritant). Make sure to stay hydrated while taking an a bath with epsom salts because epsom salts will detox and dehydrate your body. We don’t want any of y’all passing out from dehydration mid-bathtime. Now, if you don’t own a bathtub and you live in an area concerned with water scarcity in the United States, taking a short, hot shower will work almost as well. And if you’re a college student in the midst of midterms or finals and you maybe haven’t showered in a couple days, a warm shower will do you well. Hang some eucalyptus on your shower head or put a couple drops of your favorite essential oil on your shower floor to give you some calming, steamy aromatherapy.
  7. Therapists are AWESOME – On a serious note, sometimes de-stressing takes a little more than drinking a cup of tea and meditating. Sometimes you need a little extra help, and there is nothing wrong with that. Let me repeat myself: There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. Needing. Help. There is a stigma in our society that says that seeing a therapist means you’re “broken”, “crazy”, or “weak”, but those things are completely untrue. Going to see a therapist is one of the most put-together, mature, strong things you can do for yourself. In my humble opinion, I think everyone should see a therapist at least once in their life. When you get to know anyone below surface level, you’ll learn that nobody’s perfect. Unless you have an awesome friend that will listen to you with their complete, undivided attention, for a whole hour, unbiased about anything you say, it helps to see a therapist. Luckily, most college campus’ health centers have someone you can talk to for free for a certain number of sessions. If this sounds appealing to you, then I recommend you stop by your campus’ health center soon. Trust me when I say it’s worth it.

I hope these tips helped a little bit so this tweet doesn’t have to describe you anymore!

TWEET COLLEGE STUDENT STRESS

Remember to treat yourself right because you are a strong human being full of so much potential and don’t let anything, anyone, including yourself tell you otherwise!

Peace,

Amanda