I Quit Competitive Figure Skating After It Almost

I became a figure skater when I was nine years old. I had skated on ponds, taken group lessons, and attended open skating sessions for years, and finally I began private lessons. As my parents cringed from the cost of the expensive sport, I realized that there was nothing that could make me happier than being on the ice. Before skating, I ate like any other young kid. I loved my sweets, and my pasta. Salads? Eh, not so much.

I am competitive by nature. There was something about the blasting of my program music, the breeze on my face, and the intensity that I felt when I moved through the motions on the ice. It was like nothing I had ever experienced.

I began to skate more and more; my intensity and love for the sport increasing each time I stepped into the rink. So, as I rose through the levels, the sport became a lifestyle. After school each day, I’d drive straight to the rink. After my session on the ice, I worked with a trainer several times a week. I was an eleven year old being exposed to a world of hard work, intense competition, and pressure.

As I began to take the sport more seriously, I started to take notice of what my body looked like. For the first time, I would look at the other skaters in my club and judge myself based on the differences in our looks. I wanted to be skinnier, but at the same time, I wanted to be stronger. I wanted to look like a figure skater. I realized I could get there by changing my diet.

When you think of a figure skater and what he or she looks like, this is probably what comes to mind: tiny, thin, powerful legs, and yet somehow still delicate. In skating, the emphasis on looking the part is extreme; the tight, short, and revealing dresses require a certain body.

I looked at the girls around me and wanted to look more like them. I started to make small changes in my diet, and became more aware of what I was putting into my body (now salad obsessed). Checking the label for calories, sugar, and fat became a regular occurrence. Because skating is a grueling sport, my body suffered after years of tough falls and the emotional stress of competition.

With a battered body and an unhealthy body image growing, I was clearly struggling. Despite creating lifelong friendships and having some of the best experiences in my life thus far, I made the decision to let the sport go during my freshman year because of its many repercussions.

Being a competitive figure skater had left me with a different idea about my body and how it should look. Skating influenced me enough to limit what I ate even after I stopped. I wanted to maintain the body that went along with skating: lean and strong, with an emphasis on staying stick thin.

I focused on the amount of calories per meal and how to work them off after, more so than before. Of course I indulged every now and then, but not without guilt.

Today, a few years away from the sport, I still remain aware of what I put in my body and strive to maintain the body that I had from skating, but I also recognize the importance of treating my body kindly. Being constantly conscious of what you eat can be exhausting, so instead of forcing myself to count calories and turn away from delicious treats, I simply try to eat clean and healthy, but remind myself that beauty comes in all forms, not just in the body of a figure skater.

Source: Spoon University

Pringles is Releasing A Sweet New Flavor for

The Holidays are meant for cookie-baking, hot chocolate-sipping, and letting go of that summer beach bod you worked all last spring for. For those of you sweet tooths and cookie monsters out there, we have some game-changing news for you; your favorite salty snack is going sweet for the Holidays.

Pringles are broadening their horizons and making their stackable snack Holiday-approved. In addition to previous years flavors, the brand is breaking out a new flavor that will have you more excited than Buddy the Elf.

Holiday flavors are nothing new to the Pringle brand. In fact, in previous years they’ve had flavors such as: white and milk chocolate and cinnamon sugar. Curious minds snagged these flavors quick in order to conduct a taste-test of their own. This year, the starting line up includes last year’s pecan pie and salted caramel, and the addition of one new innovative flavor.

Source: Spoon University

Struggle of A Sushi Lovers Inability To Use Chopsticks

Hi, I’m Sam and I am a sushiholic. Unfortunately, the shame does not end there—I, Samantha Hahn, cannot for the life of me handle chopsticks. Life can be hard for a sushiholic incapable of using chopsticks. Here are the seven struggles that every person with this affliction has to cope with.

1) Everyone making fun of you

Whether it’s my friends mocking me as I reach for the sushi with my hands or my mom warning me to never a let a guy take me out for sushi, I can get no peace when it comes to my inability to use chopsticks.

2) Feeling uncultured every single time you go for sushi (which is a lot)

The inability to use chopsticks raises so many questions in my head. Am I not cultured enough or too unsophisticated to eat sushi? Am I depriving myself of the full sushi experience if I can’t master the use of chopsticks? Is my mere love for sushi just not enough?

3) The look of confusion you get when you ask the server for a fork/kid chopsticks

Yes, I am aware that most people are capable of using chopsticks. However, I can’t, so can everyone please be accepting of that and not judge me?

4) Still trying to use chopsticks only to end up using your hands

After not one, not two, but three times of dropping my sushi, I finally decide that dropping the food repeatedly is humiliating. I always end up picking up the sushi with my hands when no one is looking.

5) Not being able to reach the perfect soy sauce to wasabi ratio

Everyone knows that no sushi meal is just not complete without soy sauce and wasabi. However, it is almost impossible to reach the perfect soy sauce to wasabi ratio using only a fork.

6) Still telling yourself that one day you will learn to use chopstick

Practice makes perfect,doesn’t it? With the amount of practice I get eating sushi, I except I’ll learn to use chopsticks eventually.

7) Accepting reality that even if you never learn to use chopsticks, sushi will always be your go-to

The last stage of grief is acceptance. In the end, even if I never overcome the humiliation of my disability, sushi will always hold a special place in my heart.

Source: Spoon University

Starbucks 2016 Holiday Drink Menu Just Dropped

Starbucks has officially dropped their 2016 holiday menu and I simply couldn’t be happier. Hop, skip, run, and jump to your local Starbucks and start chugging those peppermint mochas. Your time has come.

Caramel Brulée Latte

This is damn dessert in a cup, and I have missed it oh so much. Espresso, steamed milk, and rich caramel brulée sauce, topped with whipped cream and shimmery caramel brulée topping—could you really ask for more?

Chestnut Praline Latte

This drink literally embodies the lyrics: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/Jack Frost nipping at your nose.” Freshly brewed espresso and flavors of caramelized chestnuts come together with steamed milk, whipped cream, and spiced praline crumbs. I’m drooling over my keyboard.

Eggnog Latte:

Truthfully, eggnog always freaked me out until I got my paws on one of these bad boys. Baristas start with a base of espresso and then combine it with rich steamed eggnog and milk with a healthy dusting of ground nutmeg. Yum.

Gingerbread Latte:

This will take you back to your childhood of making gingerbread houses that you would never be allowed to eat, only look at until they went stale. Except you can actually enjoy this treat. Flavors of gingerbread are combined with espresso and steamed milk with a topping of whipped cream and ground nutmeg.

Peppermint Mocha

This is a classic as far as I am concerned. Do you even celebrate the holidays if you haven’t downed a Peppermint Mocha? It tastes like peppermint bark, only warm and even tastier. It’s fixed up with espresso and steamed milk that’s sweetened with flavors of chocolate and peppermint. After that, it’s all topped off with whipped cream and chocolate curls (a great touch).

Skinny Peppermint Mocha

If you’re trying to cut calories this holiday season, opt for a lighter version of the Peppermint Mocha made with nonfat milk, sugar-free peppermint syrup, and skinny mocha sauce. The Skinny Peppermint Mocha is 100 calories for a tall (12-ounce) beverage. Good for your waistline and your tastebuds.

So are you in the holiday spirit yet or what? This menu is only here a few months of the year so don’t wait to get your fill. You can find me at any Starbucks, refilling my cup full of Gingerbread Lattes.

Source: Spoon University

Love N Faith Community Caf Where Everything Really

Love ‘n Faith Community Café is a cozy spot that offers a little something for everyone. Whether you’re a sleep-deprived student hoping for a caffeine hit and a place to study, a gym rat looking for a post-workout energy boost, or a parent in search of a nutritious and yummy meal for themselves and their children, look no further: Love n’ Faith Community Café checks all those boxes and many more.

This is my go-to study spot when I need a relaxing and inspiring place to energize me. Located just around the corner from where I live, it’s a place I come to again and again whether I’m craving a dessert or something more nutritious. I hope you will give it a chance too.

Love ‘n Faith Community Café goes beyond your typical coffee shop offerings. True to her name, the café owner Faith Holmes strives to “create more positivity” in the local community.

The restaurant, located at 2424 14th St NW, is situated in the heart of a rapidly-changing DC neighborhood. The café is positioned across the street from where Smith’s Pharmacy once stood. This store was the site of a looting and burning that broke out in response to riots after the April 1968 assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The community historical site can be visited on the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail self-guided tour.

Today, the neighborhood is vibrant and diverse, home to a motley assortment of longtime DC residents, interns and students, and immigrants from around the world, primarily from West Africa and Central America.

Holmes has established her café as a spot not only to grab a quick bite to eat, but also to “feel better leaving than you did coming in.” She acts as a local mentor for nearby public schools and youth centers, providing young students with free afternoon ice cream treats and participating in school events.

The artwork on display in the shop was created by students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and are available for purchase. The café’s tables, which were handmade by Holmes’ brother, feature inspiring quotes about—you guessed it—love and faith, including one from Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho: “None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith.”

The Menu

Holmes’ initial business venture in DC was Faithfully Sweet, a gourmet ice cream spot at the DC convention center. She was the first restaurateur to bring the liquid nutrition ice cream trend to DC, a savvy business move in a high-paced city.

Her latest café, which opened mid-2014, features more of her beloved ice cream, with flavors alternating on a weekly basis. Between four and eight ice cream flavors are available daily depending on the season, and can be served traditionally—in a cone or cup—or in a milkshake, ice cream sandwich, or ice cream cake. My favorite of her ice creams, all of which are made daily using fresh cream and preservative-free ingredients, is anything with chocolate. Why? Because chocolate.

For those with a sweet tooth who are craving warmer options, Love ‘n Faith also offers a variety of pastries—with the previous day’s pastries sold at a reduced price—many of which are available gluten-free or vegan. Their autumn seasonal menu includes pumpkin spice lattes and hot apple cider topped with fresh whipped cream and homemade caramel drizzle. And the café’s pies sell like crazy at Thanksgiving, with customers facing the tough decision of having to choose between Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Apple Cobbler, and Derby Pie (this Kentucky classic is made with chocolate and walnuts). Pies are available gluten-free upon request.

Looking for a healthier option? Love n’ Faith Community Café’s #1 seller “Love Juice” is a nutrient-packed, bright green blend of kale, mint, cilantro, apple, pineapple, and mangos. Accompany this sweet and tart juice with their most popular sandwich, the Turkey and Avocado Panino, served on an everything bagel with tomato and cheese, for a savory meal that leaves you feeling satisfied for hours.

On a gluten-free diet? Not a problem. The café offers a variety of salads; I recommend the Spinach and Kale Salad, made with apple slices, raisins, goat cheese crumbles, and candied pecans, for a crisp and tangy lunch. Pair it with their Strawberry Mojito, an alcohol-free blend of strawberries, lime juice, and fresh mint, for a quick pick-me-up

If you’re on the hunt for early morning options, look no further. The café, which opens weekdays at 7 am and weekends at 9 am, has “the best breakfast sandwiches outside of NYC,” according to one faithful patron. With a variety of caffeinated drinks, ranging from hot teas, to lattes prepared with their homemade vanilla syrup or vegan mocha syrup, to their Coffee “Wake Me Up” smoothie made with coffee, ice cream, banana, and cinnamon, you’re sure to find something to get you going in the morning.

Customers can call for pre-orders or deliveries (available for purchases over $25) at 202-299-0704, or can order ahead using the Yelp Eat24 app.

Source: Spoon University

5 Reasons Why I Went Vegan and What I Eat Now

Growing up as an Italian American, I was always surrounded by big portions of foods filled with cheese and sauce, and desserts filled with eggs and butter. How could you not resist?

Until two years ago, I was ignorant towards what animals products are actually doing to my body, where the animal products are coming from, and the environment. So I decided to go Vegan. Veganism might not be for everyone, but it has helped me in numerous ways and has changed the way I look at animals and the environment.

1. No more stomachaches.

I was diagnosed with a lactose sensitivity on and off throughout my life. Some days were great and I would eat ice-cream without any issues. But other days, I would be crying in pain because it felt as if my stomach was on fire.

2. More energy.

After going vegan I realized that I had a lot more energy once I finished a meal. I no longer experienced “food comas” or felt weighed down. In fact, I felt more alive.

Rather than eating foods high in fat that take your body a long time to break down, I ate carbs that my body could use as fuel almost instantly. Rather than eating cheese or chicken, I now eat vegetables, rice, and as much pasta as I want, sticking to my Italian roots.

3. I can eat as much as I want.

Now this isn’t necessarily the case for all vegan foods, but for someone who is trying to improve their diet by eating plant-based foods, this isn’t a problem. Since a plant-based diet has fewer calories than a carnivorous diet, you can eat more without all the added calories.

I can now go out to eat more since most restaurants offer vegan options. My favorite go-to meals are salad or rice bowls from Freshii or Chop’t.

4. No more harm to my body.

Stress hormones tend to cause people to break out, have cardiac problems, be fatigued constantly, and have other affects. I avoid these issues by eating fake meat brands such as Gardein’s meatless options, Beyond Meat Burgers, and Daiya dairy products.

5. I want to save my home.

In order to produce one pound of meat, the animal needs to drink more water and eat more food than a human does. All of which happen just so the human can eat meat. This is depleting the earth’s resources faster than scientist expected. Rather inefficiently using nature’s resources to produce meat, I can easily just make a delicious meal myself thats primarily plant-based. In this instance, I am using the resources directly and saving much needed resources.

Overall, being vegan has made me look and feel healthier, physically and morally. I know I am doing my best to save the animals and planet all while keeping myself in top shape. I am not asking you to jump into the vegan lifestyle all at once, but maybe start by eliminating animal products from one meal a day. Slowly but surely, if everyone does this, the world and human race will be in better place.

If you want to learn more about how you can benefit from being vegan, you should check out Forks over Knives documentaries. I highly recommend them for those interested in learning about veganism.

Source: Spoon University

I Took A Cooking Class At Sur LA Table and Felt

After getting lost in a parking garage and having to ask for directions, we finally arrived at the Sur La Table cooking class. Despite being the youngest people there by a good fifteen years, we tied on our red aprons and approached our cooking station feeling confident.

Appetizer:

Appetizers were stuffed endives with grapes, blue cheese, and pecans. After figuring out wtf an endive is, we chopped and mixed per the direction of the instructor, Paschelle. We felt fancy AF with these bite-sized snacks and were delighted that they tasted delicious. The saltiness of the blue cheese was juxtaposed by the sweet grapes, and the crunchy pecans added a delightful texture.

Entree:

Next up was pan-roasted chicken with sage jus and fall squash risotto with shaved parmesan. Are you drooling yet? My job was to prepare the chicken. To cook the chicken, I seasoned it with salt and pepper and then pan fried it until it was crispy and brown. The jus (pronounced ‘joos’) was made in the pan used to cook the chicken and was a mixture of garlic, mustard, butter, and other spices. This was perfectly placed on the squash risotto that was, do I even dare say, more fall than the notorious pumpkin spice latte.

Dessert:

Saving the best, and prettiest, for last. These mini apple rose tarts tasted just as good as they looked, and although we ate all the extra tart dough we still made room for these tarts. The crust resembled sugar cookies and the caramelized apples were sweet and sugary.

After practically licking the crumbs off our plates, we happily embraced our food babies and waddled out of the class. This cooking class had been a refreshing break from past two months of dining hall food and I can’t wait to go again. This is an experience I would highly recommend to all my friends, college students or not, but until then we can pretend that our dorm room creations are worthy of top chef.

Source: Spoon University

8 Sandwich Combinations You Have To Try At The

It’s just past noon, peak time for sandwiches at the Coop. The line is long, your stomach is growling, and the guy in front of you just ordered five different meats on his sandwich. Finally, it’s your turn to order. Luis asks, “What would you like?” If you are continually stumped by this question with the overwhelming assortment of fancy breads and deli meats, or are simply tired of your boring daily order, consider putting some of these sandwich combinations to the test. And yes, you’ll have that toasted.

1. Mozzarella, Tomato, Arugula & Pesto on a Baguette

2. Turkey, Spinach, Swiss & Hummus on a Wrap

The secret to quality wraps in the Coop is hummus. Although the roasted pepper hummus is ideal, you can never go wrong with plain hummus either. Ask for it pressed and you’ll have perfectly melted swiss and added crunch from the toasted wrap.

3. Roast Beef, Arugula, Swiss & Mustard on a Baguette

Crunchy, a tad spicy, and full of flavor; this one’s got it all. Not only does it taste good, but will leave you satisfied and full until dinner. So no, you probably won’t have to hit up Frank for a mid-afternoon snack or shamefully raid your room’s snack stash.

4. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Mayo on Multigrain

In the rare occasion that bacon is available in the Coop, the classic BLT is a must. A praised combination in the world of sandwiches, this trio is hard to beat. Dare to try it with chipotle mayo for an added spicy flavor, or consider adding cheese to turn your sandwich into a fancy grown-up grilled cheese.

5. Ham, Swiss, Mayo & Mustard on Sourdough

If you are looking to reminisce on the days of brown-bag lunches, but also want to feel somewhat like a mature adult, this sandwich is for you. This upgrade from your standard ham and cheese sandwich will satisfy your hunger with a hint of nostalgia.

6. Tomato, Provolone, Spinach, Pesto & Mayo on Sourdough

Step up your sandwich game by creating this mouth-watering Italian panini. Don’t forget to grab a garlic knot (or two) on the side to turn your dining hall lunch into an Italian deli experience.

7. Turkey, Arugula, Cheddar & Chipotle Mayo on Multigrain

Take your typical turkey and cheese sandwich to the next level by combining these ingredients.

8. Chicken, Lettuce, Hummus & Pesto on Sourdough

Although an unlikely pair, hummus and pesto are a match made in heaven. Adding the perfect amount of flavor to the chicken and lettuce, these condiments are a must-try together.

Source: Spoon University

Guide To The New Restaurants In Harvard Square

Change is in the air in Harvard Square. Between the construction on the Smith Center, the closure of several seemingly immortal establishments, and campus-wide political disruption, the whole town seems in flux.

Regardless of the sharply divided opinions on all of the above changes, we can all agree on one thing: this fall has seen an unprecedented uptick in new Square restaurants. We’ve rounded them up for you.

Flour Bakery + Cafe

Joanne Chang graduated from Harvard in 1991, so this addition to her bakery empire feels like a homecoming. We couldn’t be more excited to have her back.

We recommend: the ooey-gooey sticky bun, of course. Alongside their daily quiche with side greens. So it’s healthy and stuff.

Chef Michael Scelfo of Alden + Harlow (one of the best restaurants in Boston and, more recently, the world) opened a second restaurant on Mass Ave. His menu offers something the Square had never seen before: inventive dishes focused almost entirely on seafood.

We recommend: sharing several of the small plates and pizzas. Try the raw & roasted apple salad with the wood roasted char belly.

#SpoonTip: There’s a new brunch in town. Waypoint does the weekend right with bottle service mimosas, including your choice of four juices.

En Boca opened to much anticipation. It fills an obvious hole in the Square’s current culinary scene: mediterranean tapas. Unfortunately, reception has been mixed, with many students complaining of inflated prices and low quality. We suggest you check it out for yourself before deciding.

We recommend: to dip in your toes without committing to any of the pricey large dishes, sample the charcuterie and cheese. Just not the $30 jamón ibérico.

The Hourly was a surprise. Because the last two restaurants on Dunster St. did not last, the space appeared cursed. Not so. This oyster bar is a fresh sea breeze; airy windows and a bustling raw bar make another lovely addition to the nascent Cambridge seafood scene.

We recommend: the charred octopus. Unlike the standard grilled octopus, the Hourly poaches theirs until tender before charring under the broiler. No chewy tentacles here.

#SpoonTip: Another new brunch – quench your hangover with a lobster roll or crab cake benedict at their new brunch.

Tatte Bakery & Cafe

If you can’t tell by the bouncer outside their door, everyone and their mother goes to Tatte. The smell of fresh-baked pastries that they seem to pump onto the sidewalk is enough to make passers-by weak at the knees.

We recommend: venturing upstairs if you’re only ordering coffee; it’s minutely less packed, and the white granite makes for chic #studyvibes.

Why should you be excited about the opening of a restaurant that was already open before construction began on the Smith Center? Easy: their menu is completely revamped, with a new section of “plates” and new sides, like charred cauliflower.

We recommend: the chipotle avocado plate. We know you always get a kale and quinoa bowl, but try something new.

Tom’s Bao Bao

Like En Boca, Tom’s receives mixed reviews. If you like thick, fluffy dumplings that are 90% dough, you will love Tom’s. If you avoid gluten like the plague, you should probably get lunch at Tatte instead.

We recommend: not coming here if you’re a vegetarian. The meat-free options leave something to be desired.

DAVIDsTEA

When you walk in their front door, you’re confronted with a seemingly infinite array of tea flavors, from standard chai to birthday cake (pictured above). If easily paralyzed by decision, you might stand in front of the display for hours.

We recommend: stopping in even if you don’t want to order a drink. They are more than happy to let customers smell several different teas. That sh*t’s intoxicating.

Bonus: coming soon to a restaurant near you…

A salad oasis in the midst of a sandwich-heavy urban desert. Lines will be epic. You might break up with the dining hall salad bar for good. But probably not.

Expected opening: unclear. But everyone – everyone – is asking.

We recommend: the rad thai (pictured above) or one of their seasonal specialties, such as the chicken + brussels.

Benedetto

Chef Michael Pagliarini’s Giulia quickly established itself as one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston. The homemade pastas are legendary, and we might have eaten two plates’ worth of charcuterie during our visit. In any case, Pagliarini is opening a new spot in the Charles Hotel, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Expected opening: initial reports said this fall, so our fingers are crossed here, too.

We recommend: going online right now to make a reservation at Giulia next month. It takes that long, but it’s worth it. Get excited, people.

Source: Spoon University