Da Lat, Vietnam: Not to be Missed


da lat vietnam

When it comes to Vietnam, the backpacking route that most travelers take is pretty simple: Saigon, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi, with a stop in Halong Bay. Maybe because its less talked about and more difficult to get to, many people skip Da Lat. Big mistake. Along with Sa Pa (also skipped by many), Da Lat was one of my favorite places in Vietnam by far. The people are so friendly, the city center is lovely, and there are so many activities.

Where to Stay

Backpacking accommodation options in Da Lat are unique in that they are mostly homestays with friendly and personable hosts. They usually include free breakfast and family dinner nights. I stayed at Lucky D’s Hostel, which I cannot recommend enough! Lucky was such a friendly man who cooked for us some nights and took us out to dinner other nights, often on his own dime. He also did our laundry for us and really made us feel at home.

What to Do

I found that there was a seemingly endless amount of things to do in Da Lat. Even just walking around the city is very pleasant as the people are so friendly and there is a beautiful lake, where you can sit and sip from a bottle of the local wine. Every evening there’s a night market, which sells very affordable fake “North Face” jackets and sweaters (which you’ll need here) as well as handmade goods.

While Da Lat isn’t as much of a party town as some other cities in Vietnam, I enjoyed the nightlife here much more. There’s a place called 100 Roofs Cafe, also known as Maze Bar, and it may have been the most fun I’ve ever had at a bar. It’s five or so stories of twists, turns, and little nooks; a full-on maze. Definitely not a place that locals frequent but a great place to get lost, meet new people, and laugh.

Day Trips

canyoning da lat vietnam

While I adored the city of Da Lat, my favorite parts of my stay were actually my day trips into the highlands. On my first full day I went canyoning (~$30), which involved abseiling down cliffs and waterfalls. The tour also included sliding down waterfalls! It was such a blast and the falls were beautiful. It’s geared towards beginners so don’t let fear hold you back!

On a different day we booked Mr. Rot’s Secret Tour. As the name implies, we didn’t know what we were getting into but other backpackers I met were raving about it. While I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I can tell you that this was one of the best tours I’ve ever taken and they stray away from the touristy in favor of the authentic. The tour guide himself once belonged to a local tribe so he knows what he’s doing. Furthermore, Mr. Rot and the other guides bring so much humor and life into the trip that it’s impossible not to have a good time. Book at the Villa Pink House and try not to do too much research or you’ll ruin the surprise!

What to Eat

We ended up not paying for many meals since they were either included in our hostel or in the tours we booked. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the street food that we did try. If you walk through the local mall, you’ll find an abundance of authentic local food options on the other side. When we went, we were the only Westerners there! Bún riêu was a dish that really stood out and seems to be more popular here than in other Vietnamese cities.

How to Get There

Unfortunately, Da Lat is a bit difficult to get to because of its location in the mountains. We got a bus from Mui Ne, which took about 6 hours and was fairly painless (and a bargain at $4). However, if you’re coming from the North it’s a much less comfortable ride. Upon leaving, we took the bus to Nha Trang, which was about four hours but very bumpy and dangerous. The bus drivers here are a bit aggressive, which leads to a lot of swerving and short stops.

Your other option is to fly in/out. The local airport has flights to Danang (a quick bus ride from Hoi An), Ho Chi Minh, and Hanoi.



Do You: Getting Out of the Bucket List Mindset


bucket list

In the age of social media, it sometimes feels like life is one constant bucket list. We check off items and casually brag about them on Instagram and Facebook. This is especially true when it comes to travel.

It seems like every other travel website has an article about the new must-see travel destinations, or places you “need” to visit before you reach 30. While these can definitely be helpful in giving you ideas, they can also give you a lot of unnecessary pressure that goes against the point of travel in the first place. Even more importantly, you could fall into the trap of doing things because other people say you should rather than doing what you want to do.

I’ve fallen into this trap myself and, honestly, I’m still working on how to get out of it. I first realized this when I went to Amsterdam. I just wanted to have my idea of a good time: partying with the locals, people watching in cafés and seeing some cool architecture. But I kept getting lists from friends of all the museums I just had to see. It really got into my brain and made me start thinking, “How could I come back and say I’d gone to Amsterdam without seeing all of the sites?”

Ultimately, I didn’t go to any museums on that trip (unless you include the cheese factory tour I did on a day-trip to Zaans Schans). And I don’t regret skipping them. I’m just not the type of person that generally enjoys museums. It took me a long time to admit this. It feels low-brow of me. But I think it’s important for us all to accept what we enjoy and make our own travel plans based around that. While some may prefer museums, art, and music, I prefer thrill-seeking activities, nature, and architecture. There’s no shame in that.

What’s been an even bigger challenge for me is getting over the checklist mindset of the bucket list. Travel shouldn’t be about just checking places and experiences off and thinking, “Been there, done that.” It should be a continuous exploration. I should spend as much time in a place as I enjoy and continue to revisit places I’ve fallen in love with. I should also be able to fully immerse myself in each new place and experience without rushing so I can move onto the next.

I’m not quite sure yet how I’ll get over this. I’ve met several people on my current Southeast Asia trip who have asked why I’m not going to Thailand. “Well, I already visited Thailand a few years ago.” “Did you like it?” “I loved it.” There’s inevitably a pause and I realize how silly I sound. While I sadly won’t have time to revisit Thailand on this trip, I now know that I will prioritize it in the future.

Looking back, my most enjoyable travel moments weren’t when I was rushing around and sightseeing. Instead, they consisted of late-night conversations with new friends or people watching at an outdoor café. That’s not to say I don’t cherish the amazing sites I’ve seen. But I think the best moments in life aren’t planned. By getting out of bucket list mode, travel can become easier to appreciate. To quote the wise Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


Group Tours vs Solo Travel


group tours thailand
One dilemma a lot of backpackers face is whether they should join group tours or truly go at it on their own. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Group tours are like having built-in friends, while solo travel can get lonely in some cities. Group tours also save you a lot of the hassle of planning. On the other hand, group tours are generally more expensive than traveling on your own and don’t give you the same flexibility. Ultimately, I think it comes down to where you’re going. Here’s a guide based on my personal experience.

When to Use Group Tours

  • Traveling in unsafe countries, such as the Middle East. I don’t think this one requires further explanation
  • Traveling in countries with limited or confusing public transport, such as most of Africa. Some choose to rent cars, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this on your own as the roads are much different than what you’re used to.
  • Covering a large amount of ground in a short time. Tour guides are experts at making sure you maximize your time in each spot. Plus, trying to plan this on your own can be a real headache.
  • Traveling somewhere expensive, such as Japan. I know this sounds contradictory. Didn’t I say that group tours are more expensive? Yes and they usually are, especially for cheap countries. But for more expensive countries you save money since, again, the tour guides know where to stay and the cheapest ways to get from Point A to Point B. Plus, they are often able to get deals since they are booking for such a large group of people.
  • When you’re nervous or a first time solo traveler. I did a group tour my first time traveling by myself. While it was definitely more expensive than it would have been to explore Thailand on my own, it gave me peace of mind and the confidence to travel by myself going forward. Plus, I was way too shy at that point to make friends on my own.
  • Visiting areas with language barriers. Towns where the tourism industry is less developed may be less likely to speak English. This can be a real struggle if you’re on your own and aren’t fluent in the local language.
  • Visiting major cities. This one is more of personal preference and you may have a different experience. But I find that major cities, especially in Europe, are so fast-paced that it’s difficult to make friends. Backpackers tend to rush from site to site and stay in one place for a shorter period of time, as opposed to small towns where people linger and explore.

When to Travel Solo

I’m of the mindset that everyone should travel on their own at least once. It’s a life-changing experience and really causes you to grow as an individual. In fact, I would recommend solo travel in more situations than not. This is especially true in the following cases.

  • Visiting well-traveled areas, like Thailand or Vietnam. They’re so popular that you don’t have to worry as much about safety. You can also read almost everything you need to know about getting around online.
  • Visiting famously cheap countries.  Countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America belong in this category. You’ll spend so much more by doing a tour. I recently received a newsletter advertising tours for Cambodia that were nearly double what I paid traveling solo.
  • Notoriously friendly regions. Although I think it can be more difficult to make friends in the hostels in many European cities, it’s so easy to make friends with locals in places like Ireland that it doesn’t matter. Wouldn’t you rather hang out with locals anyway?



Langkawi, Malaysia: Phuket Without the Bros


langkawi malaysia southeast asia beaches

When I was younger I took my first solo trip to the southern beaches of Thailand. I had a blast! Partying all night and sleeping on the beach every day was a great life. But I’m past that point in my life and it’s now sad to think that such natural beauty is wasted on those that are often too drunk to appreciate it.

In comes Langkawi: a collection of islands off the main peninsula of Malaysia and not too far from the islands of Thailand. It’s just as beautiful, but it remains peaceful and quiet. Tourism to the country and related development on the island only began in the late 1980s. It’s still a resort-style island with plenty of accommodation styles for all budgets, but the tourists definitely skew more family/honeymooner types rather than gap-year bros.

For 3 nights and 4 days I relaxed on the beaches, hiked the jungles, played with monkeys, and went parasailing. That’s not to say I didn’t spend any time at our hotel’s pool bar. It was too cheap to resist, but it was a lot nicer sipping on a pina colada with serene views rather than chugging a Thai “bucket.”

Where to Stay in Langkawi

Pantai Cenang is the most popular beach for tourists, but I much preferred where we stayed in Pantai Kok. Kok is much quieter, has prettier beaches, and is closer to the main attractions like the Sky Bridge. However, Cenang is great for budget guesthouses and adventure sports.

What To Do

The Sky Bridge/Cable Cars: The views are amazing and epic and the Sky Bridge is probably the island’s most famous attraction. That said, it’s attached to a tourist-trap theme park of sorts, full of gimmicky 3D attractions. We ended up doing plenty of them because we had to wait 2 hours until our “show time” for the cable car after buying our ticket. So keep in mind that this is an all-day event unless you find another excursion nearby.

Adventure/Watersports: The island is full of parasailing, ATVs, kiteboarding, jetskiing, and other fun activities. Sure, you can do them in most resort destinations, but I absolutely loved the parasailing views as the landscape here is stunning. Plus, you’ll find much cheaper rates than you would in most other places.

Tours/Treks: There are plenty of different tours available if you want to explore the local nature and wildlife. We did a jungle trek that was attached to a resort and I have to say I cannot recommend it. It just wasn’t worth the money as there was nothing we wouldn’t have seen on our own in terms of wildlife. However, if I could do it again I would have loved to take a sea safari or a boat tour that goes island hopping through Langkawi. There are also kayaking tours through the mangroves.

Explore: You’ll be amazed at how much wildlife you can see all around you without spending a dime. Our resort was full of monkeys (to the extent that we occasionally couldn’t eat outside)! We also were able to spot some unique birds and sea creatures along the beach.

What To Eat

Not Durian. Kidding. Sort of. You’ll see what I mean if you have the guts to try this odd, foul-smelling fruit that is loved by locals. Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I have a feeling it won’t appeal to most Western palettes.

While Malaysian cuisine is great, the foodie scene here isn’t that impressive as it’s mostly geared towards tourists. If you do want a taste of the local cuisine, go for a basic squid dish as they’re caught fresh every night. You’ll be sure to see the green lights in the ocean from the boats looking to attract fresh squid.

Alternatively, if you find a local eatery, give traditional laksa a try!

Getting to Langkawi

Langkawi is easily accessible from Penang or the mainland by ferry. It also has a small airport with flights from Singapore and other cities in Malaysia.

Getting Around

You could rent a motorbike, but we had a hard time finding ones for a reasonable price (relative to the rest of Southeast Asia). We ultimately found that taxis were very well priced and Langkawi has fixed rates so you don’t have to worry about getting scammed.


3 Months in a Carry-On: Southeast Asia


carry-on backpack packing list

One of the biggest hassles of long-term travel is stuffing as much as you can into a carry-on suitcase. Checking bags is expensive and time-consuming. It also leads to a lot of unnecessary stress since airlines are notorious for losing baggage. So it only makes sense to stick with a carry-on whenever possible.

Here’s my personal packing list for Southeast Asia that has worked out wonderfully. Keep in mind I’m somewhat of a minimalist but still a girly-girl, so this should be practical for most women, give or take a few things. Also, even though Southeast Asian countries are far less developed, finding most everyday items (toiletries, etc) isn’t an issue. So don’t worry about packing everything you would ever need.

Personal Item

I use a small drawstring backpack, but a traditional daypack or purse would also work.

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Tablet/e-reader and charger
  • Travel wallet (money, credit cards, passport, travel docs)
  • Notebook/travel diary
  • Empty water bottle to fill up once through security (Money saving pro-tip!)
  • Liquids (I find they’re easier to access for security this way)
    • Toothpaste
    • Shampoo
    • Soap
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug spray (with at least 50% DEET)
    • Laundry detergent/Febreeze
    • BB/CC cream (make-up plus sunscreen)
    • Mascara/eye-liner
    • Moisturizer (salt water and pools are very drying)


I use the Kelty Redwing 40L, but you can go bigger or smaller based on your needs.

  • All-in-one electronic adapter (different SE Asian countries require different adapters)
  • Towel
  • Lock for belongings
  • Sunglasses
  • Medications and OTC/travel medications
  • Sea sickness wristbands (like these, for all the ferries you’ll be taking)
  • Duct tape (comes in surprisingly handy)
  • Sandals
  • Sneakers (I usually wear mine when flying to save space)
  • Toiletries
    • Tooth brush
    • Floss
    • Comb
    • Deodorant
    • Nail clippers (double as scissors)
    • Razor
    • Lip balm
    • Hair ties
  • Clothing ( I roll my clothes in two packing cubes to save space)
    • 3 pairs of shorts (2 casual, 1 “nice”)
    • 3 pairs of yoga pants (itinerary-specific, as I was doing a lot of yoga/hiking)
    • 3 bathing suits
    • 3 airy dresses
    • 3 pairs of socks
    • 5 tops (3 casual/workout, 2 nice)
    • Sweatshirt (the AC in cars/shops can be surprisingly cold)
    • Sarong (helpful for the beach as well as staying conservative at temples)

8 Ways to Befriend the Locals While Traveling


One of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in a different culture and have a unique travel experience is by befriending the locals in a new city. They can show you things you would have never found on your own and share with you insider pieces of knowledge. They can show you what daily life is truly like for the average person in that area, as opposed to your run-of-the-mill, sugar-coated tours. Yet, making friends is difficult, especially in a foreign country. Here are some ways to break through these barriers. And remember that learning about the local culture and being open-minded can greatly help your chances!

travel friends locals

Hanging out with the locals in Kilkenny, Ireland

1.) Reach out on social media

You might be surprised by how many friends-of-friends or distant relatives live in the destinations you want to visit! And more often than not, they will be happy to let you into their world and show you some local treasures.

2.) Stay with locals

Couchsurfing and Airbnb are two great resources for finding locals willing to spare a bed (or couch). Read through the host’s reviews to see if they prefer to be more independent or if they are the type to introduce you to their friends and show you around town.

3.) Stay in hostels

There are multiple ways to make local friends by staying at hostels. First, I’ve found hostel owners to be some of the kindest and most knowledgeable people I meet in most cities I go to. Especially at smaller hostels, they may be willing to show you around, introduce you to friends, or simply give you advice on where the locals hang out. Second, befriending other hostel goers is a great way to make connections. Their hometown just might be your next destination. Finally, I have occasionally met people from neighboring cities who were trying to save a few bucks while traveling for work. You really never know who you will meet!

4.) Go solo to local pubs

Hitting up a bar or pub for dinner and a drink is a great way to mingle with the locals. Whether it’s the bartenders or other patrons, let’s face it: people are most open to outsiders when they’ve knocked back a few. This is especially effective in smaller towns and cities in Europe, where pubs are often very much a part of the local culture. I think it’s also important to go alone and sit at the bar. Going with friends or acquaintances seems to hinder your chances of actually connecting with new people. I frequently did this in Ireland and I made many new memories, such as being invited to a party by members of the Irish navy.

5.) Try WithLocals

Currently available in Asia and select European cities, WithLocals site allows you to book unique experiences, such as home-cooked meals or arts and crafts, with a city’s locals. Some of the most unique options include sleeping in a cave with your host in Malaysia and net fishing in Cambodia.

6.) Couchsurfing events

Couchsurfing also hosts events where travelers and locals can connect in a fun, no-pressure environment. Also, since most Couchsurfing hosts prefer to board members with good reviews, these events are a great opportunity to gain positive references and make a name for yourself in the community.

7.) Think outside of the box

Look for opportunities that put you in contact with the locals, rather than traditional tours. When I was in Colombia, I located a tour of Santa Marta that was produced by a local who introduced us to his home and served us lunch. It was an incredible first-hand experience of the local culture and living conditions. It just takes a bit of deep research on the internet to find these unique experiences.

8.) Join clubs or volunteer

If you’ll be staying in a city for an extended period or are moving abroad, try joining clubs, meet-up.com groups, or volunteering. You’ll be ditching the other tourists and you’ll be connecting on an entirely different level since you’re being united by a common interest or goal. Language exchange programs are also great for this!


‘Tis The Season…To Get Sick


getting sick immune system boosters remedies foods to eat nutrition health

Sure, you’re eating right and exercising daily and you feel great. You’re the healthiest you’ve ever been…until you come down with the cold or flu. Here’s how to deal.

The Best Foods to Eat

1.) Eggs are very high in zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for your immune defenses. Plus, they’re much more pleasant tasting than taking a zinc supplement. In addition they pack a nice protein punch, which is necessary for building antibodies and general immune function.

2.) Fermented foods. Foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and natural sauerkraut are rich in probiotics. Probiotics promote good bacteria in the gut, which can help fight the bad bacteria that makes you sick.

3.) Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which the body needs to make Vitamin A. It’s also high in Vitamin C. Both of these are key in boosting your immune system.

4.) Chicken soup. It may be cliche, but it’s for good reason. Chicken soup helps to fight the inflammation that occurs with the common cold as well as aiding the nasal cavity in keeping infections from entering the body. Chicken soup also usually contains onions and garlic, both of which have antiviral properties. But more on that later. Finally, as previously mentioned, protein is key in developing antibodies. So slurp away!

5.) Fatty fish. Salmon and other fatty cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also a great source of Vitamin D and deficiencies of Vitamin D have been linked to frequent sickness. Finally, they have heaps of protein.

6.) Nuts. Like fish, nuts are also a good source of omega-3s. In addition, different types of nuts are rich in different vitamins and minerals. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, cashews are high in zinc, brazil nuts are high in selenium, and pistachios are high in vitamin B6.

7.) Tea. Like chicken soup, it’s very soothing when you’re feeling sick. But it also packs important health benefits. In addition to their powerful antioxidants, one study suggests that most teas contain chemicals that prime the body for fighting bacteria and fungi that could make you sick. But avoid the heavy chai teas from Starbucks (they’re too high in sugar) and go for a plain green or herbal tea when you’re feeling less than optimal.

8.) Beef. Believe it or not, beef is an immunity powerhouse. Like eggs, it has high amounts of zinc and protein.

9.) Turmeric.This spice, found in curry dishes, contains curcumin which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for supporting the immune system. Studies are even beginning to advocate its importance in treating immune disorders.

10.) Water. It sounds self-explanatory, but I keep running into more and more people who “don’t like water.” Too bad. You should be drinking a lot of it all the time, but your body needs it even more when you start feeling ill. Fight dehydration and gulp away.

The Low-FODMAP Dilemma

So many of the foods that promote good immune functioning are no-no’s on the low FODMAP diet and may aggravate digestive issues. BUT I highly recommend eating them anyway when you feel sickness coming on. Of course, speak to your doctor first, but I’d personally prefer a day or two of stomach pain to a week or two of illness. In addition, when your immune system is compromised you’re more susceptible to further complications. These foods are great for fighting illness:

  • Garlic is a powerful immune system aid. It’s known for its antioxidants and is argued to be just as potent as some antibiotics.
  • Onions also contains antioxidants with antiviral properties. This makes them such an important component of chicken soup for fighting the cold.
  • Mushrooms help in white blood cell formation and general immune health.

What to Avoid

1.) Sugar. Instead of drinking orange juice, eat oranges. Sure the juice has vitamin C, but it’s at the cost of a much higher concentration of sugar, which may lead to inflammation and further weaken the immune system.

2.) Exercising. Your body needs rest. Sure you might be worried about your progress if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight. But adequate rest is necessary so you can get back to the gym with full energy.

3.) Eating too little. Starving a fever is actually not the way to go. When you’re sick, your body needs even more calories to function normally because your metabolism speeds up. You need to give it adequate nutrition in order to get better.

What are your go-to remedies when sickness strikes?

Disclaimer: This is not intended to replace medical advice.


6 Habits That Kept Women Slim in Decades Past


past slim thin women decades 50s history weight loss tips

It’s no secret that Americans are much heavier now than we were in the past. People like to blame it on a host of things, from fast food to plain laziness. But it goes much deeper than that. And there are many differences in modern society that we don’t have a lot of control over, such as office jobs and hectic schedules. Fortunately, there are some habits women had in the past that we can learn from in order to be leaner and healthier.

1.) Instead of high-intensity cardio, they walked everywhere

walking cardio hike hiking nature

It seems they were ahead of their time in knowing that steady-state cardio could be more effective. I know what you’re thinking. It’s not always practical to walk everywhere, especially if you lived in a spread-out area. But there are still many practical ways to incorporate more walking into your daily routines. Bring your own lunch to work and use your break for a stroll instead. Take the stairs. Take a walk around the block whenever you’re early or stuck waiting (appointments shouldn’t be a waste).

2.) They exercised for fun instead of out of obligation

Instead of pushing themselves through that workout class, activities like tennis, biking, and ballet were more common. And since they were done for fun instead of out of obligation they were probably easier to stick too!

3.) Going out to eat was an event

It wasn’t an everyday thing. And take-out/delivery was nearly nonexistent. Plus, the focus on celebration and social gathering ensured that people focused more on their company rather than overeating. And appetizers/desserts were a rarity.

4.) They didn’t diet!

diet low fat dairy obesity epidemic high carb

Dieting doesn’t work. It ultimately leads to gaining more weight than before. In decades past, people didn’t always eat the healthiest foods, but everything was more in moderation and more natural than “diet” foods. In fact, many researchers attribute the obesity epidemic to the low-fat diet craze which started around the same time. This makes sense and we now know that fat doesn’t make you fat. Still many people avoid full-fat foods. Unfortunately, diet foods are more likely to be high in sugar, which is much more likely to cause weight gain than fat.

5.) They consumed fewer processed foods

In the past, regular consumption of processed food was mostly limited to dairy and deli meats. Everything else was cooked or prepared. That’s not to say that they didn’t occasionally eat cereal, but shelf-stable foods made up a much smaller portion of their grocery lists.

6.) They got more sleep

Sure, you could always argue that your life is too hectic and you don’t have time to get enough shut-eye. But if you make it a priority I think you can fit it in somewhere. In almost every other time and culture, napping was a regular habit. Study after study has found that adequate sleep is necessary for weight loss.



5 Last-Minute Healthy Thanksgiving Dishes


healthy Thanksgiving last minute easy recipes dishes diet holidays

It’s that time of year! Crisp air, cozy sweaters, and…oh crap Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Thankfully (pun?) there are plenty of super easy, last-minute, healthy Thanksgiving dishes you can put together. They don’t even require a real recipe and you’re still sure to impress! Plus, they’re the perfect way to sneak some lean, green, and clean foods onto the table. Want dessert? Check out my easy, healthy Pumpkin Chia Pudding recipe

‘Real’ Cranberry Sauce

Skip the canned stuff this year! Simply mix some fresh or frozen cranberries in a bowl with a few spoonfuls of maple syrup or honey. Squeeze in some juice from a fresh orange. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until thick. Bam!

Nutty Green Beans

Thanksgiving green beans healthy easy recipe eggplant

Why add the all the loaded extras of a casserole when green beans can taste delicious on their own?! Spread frozen green beans as flat as can be (no overlapping) on a foiled baking sheet. Drizzle on olive or coconut oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds, slice almonds, or whatever else you have. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly crispy. Grilled eggplant is also a great addition (pictured above).

Mashed Butternut Squash

butternut squash thanksgiving cooking recipes easy last-minute

Obviously not my hands

This also works with sweet potatoes if you prefer. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Using a fork, mash to desired consistency. Mix with plain greek yogurt. Mix in chopped pecans. Optional: add cinnamon or ginger.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa

quinoa thanksgiving cranberry walnut recipe easy healthy

Bring quinoa to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add cranberries and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Drain and mix in chopped walnuts. Voila! If you’re not low-FODMAP, baked apples would also be a tasty addition.

Thanksgiving Salad

Just have fun with this one! Incorporate whatever you have left over from your other dishes. Carrots, apples, turkey slices, nuts, cranberries, yams, pumpkin, green beans, etc. Go crazy!


5 Reasons You Should Watch ‘Hungry For Change’

hungry for change documentary health food eating obesity weight loss

Image via ‘Hungry For Change’

Hungry For Change is a powerful documentary that you can now watch on Netflix. It talks about the food industry, the diet industry, and the rising obesity epidemic. I think almost everyone would benefit from watching it. Even if you’re familiar with the concepts/facts, they’re presented in a very inspiring way. I will say that it’s definitely not perfect. I didn’t like how some of it was very anti-meat/pro-juicing and some of their claims seemed a little less scientific than others. However, it was still a great and eye-opening film that I highly recommend. Here are some of my favorite points made throughout the movie.

1.) Food kills more people than drugs

This is pretty shocking to write out. But it makes sense if you think about it. Food and obesity-related diseases are one of the most common causes of death in America.

2.) 90-95% of people who go on a diet will gain it back plus some

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t diet. It’s destined to fail for so many reasons. I’d rather just live a healthy lifestyle always. The documentary cites a study performed by UCLA that found this statistic through a meta-analysis of 31 long-term studies.

3.) To lose weight, add food instead of taking it away

This seems counterintuitive, but hear them out. Most diets operate on the basis of eliminating certain foods and often even entire food groups (like the failed low-fat movement of the 80s and 90s). Hungry For Change suggests the novel idea of adding healthy foods instead of restricting yourself. When you restrict yourself, you’re going to want food even more than you did before. But if you eat enough fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, you’re going to be too full (and if you cook them right, satisfied!) to have much of the bad stuff. Plus, you won’t even be thinking about it.

4.) It’s not about willpower. Sugar is an addiction

I think this one is pretty powerful since so many struggle with binge-eating. The first part of the documentary really focused on how bad our society’s dependence on sugar is and how highly addictive (even comparing it to heroin) it can be. And it’s not just the obvious sugar from sweet treats. All processed food is filled with addictive chemicals. But if you can cut those processed foods out and eat real food, you’ll get to the point where you won’t crave the bad stuff anymore (I sure did!)

5.) We’re “overfed, yet starving to death”

This is so simple, but it really drives the point home. We’re always going to be “hungry” if we keep eating these processed foods without nutrients. Throughout most of history, people ate fairly low-calorie diets with a high percentage of nutrients. Now society lives on a high-calorie diet that’s near devoid of nutrients.


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