Category Archives: The SELF Diet

The Self Diet

The SELF Diet Recipe: Gourmet Macaroni with Polska Kielbasa (Thanksgiving Edition)

#DailyWings:Most of us have fond memories of food from our childhood. Whether it was our mom’s homemade lasagna or a memorable chocolate birthday cake, food has a way of transporting us back to the past.
-Homaro Cantu

 Happy Thanksgiving Week! Even though I can hardly believe the holidays are just around the corner, I’m so excited to be sharing this special time with you all – starting with my first edition of The SELF Diet!

Many of you who have been around the blog for a long time know that I’m obsessed with macaroni and cheese, and with great reason. It’s the perfect comfort food for rainy days, post-exam blues and lazy Sundays as well as tailgating, office parties and other celebratory functions. More importantly, to take a leaf out of renowned Chef Homaro Cantu‘s book, macaroni and cheese transports me back to my childhood when I used to eat it every day after school as a snack.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to share with you a recipe for macaroni and cheese that I came up with while experimenting with food about a year ago. I call it Gourmet Macaroni with Polska Kielbasa. While classic “mac n’ cheese” is delicious on its own, you can do a million fancy things to the basic recipe as well, pairing different ingredients together to create a completely new dish.

In a Nutshell: My Week as a Vegetarian

#DailyWings: “It is better, I think, to grab at the stars than to sit flustered because you know you cannot reach them.” — R.A. Salvatore, Sojourn

I used to be one of those people who said they’d never go on any sort of diet because of how much they love food. Well, the latter still applies to me: I love to eat. (Who doesn’t? In the end, no matter how terrible your day is, pepperoni pizza and cookies and other comfort food will always be there for you.)

But since coming to college, I’ve developed a bad habit of eating junk like processed edibles, unhealthy snacks and fatty meals because of the convenience. And, let’s face it, junk food tastes pretty good. I was lucky enough to avoid gaining the “freshman 15,” but having a fast metabolism doesn’t necessarily equate to top-notch health, nor does it last. Earlier, it hit me that I’m going to be 21 years old in a couple months — well into adulthood — and, unfortunately, can’t eat whatever the hell I want anymore. 


Share Your Experiences with “Everyday Ambassador”: a public service and global citizenship movement

#DailyWings: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy

Happy October, everyone! Autumn is finally here — bring out the turtlenecks, brew that hot cocoa and jump in a pile of just-raked leaves! With autumn comes so many possibilities for change and surprise.The temperatures here in Chapel Hill are fluctuating daily, and Mother Nature seems to be as undecided as I am when I pick outfits in the morning. This afternoon, I met with a friend over hot chocolate at The Daily Grind, a small espresso cafe by the campus bookstore, watching the rain drizzle outside and chatting about history, movies and books. What could be better? 

Today I want to take this chance to introduce a website that I am a part of. Since this summer, I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as curriculum developer for Everyday Ambassador, “a movement for responsible global citizenship in a digital world.” At EA, we believe in the importance of cultural understanding, human connectivity and public service, no matter where you are. The Everyday Ambassador team is in the process of organizing workshops, developing a related curriculum and launching the “EA TV” video series. 


5 Tips on How to Make Going to the Dentist Less Awful

#DailyWings: “My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.” -Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Fluorescent light burning in your eyes. The taste of rubber gloves in your mouth. The strange vacuum sensation on your tongue when a resident holds the suction tube too close. 

Okay, so I won’t lie and pretend that I don’t shed a couple tears at the dentist’s. Because I do. I don’t even realize how incredibly uncomfortable I am until there’s a tiny, metallic engine drilling against my teeth. At that point, acting my age is the least of my worries and I am holding on to the rail for dear life, praying to the gods that it will be over soon. 

Today, I got three fillings – one on the bottom, two on top. (Not exactly a welcoming event after a dream trip to Boston.) Ever since I was little, my teeth have been prone to cavities. I brush twice a day, floss nightly and don’t eat a lot of sugar. I don’t drink coffee or soda or tea (only on occasion). I do everything a responsible tooth-owner should do. Unfortunately, my dentists have said I can attribute my soft teeth to genetics. Not even drinking milk will help. 

The thing is, I haven’t been to the dentist in years. This time around, I knew there would be a degree of, er, unpleasantness, but I didn’t really prepare myself for just how much it sucked. The worst part was having my gums injected–like, using a needle–with anesthesia. It really, really hurt. The only good thing is, that was the first step they did so I got it over with pretty quickly.

A 12-Hour Airplane Flight Leads to Epic Movie Marathon!

#DailyWings: “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
-George Orwell

After a whole month of traveling through Shandong and interning at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and eating juicy dumplings, I am finally back from China! Since I blogged (or rather, my friend published my posts for me) at the the TRA: Overseas Chronicles during my time away, I won’t go into detail about my travels. You can read my final blog post in the When in China series here: One month later. Here is a sneak peek of my contemplations about returning home to the States:

“The feeling of change always creeps up on you when you least expect it. But it’s always such a pleasant surprise. 

Last year when I came back from China, I felt the change when I got my first slice of *real* pizza in a month. The texture of oily, stretchy cheese and the tangy tomato sauce on my tongue was beyond satisfying. Pizza-gasm-worthy. Never had I ever truly appreciated the taste of pizza until then.

This year, the change came on a visit to the ladies’ bathroom in the airport. Soap and toilets and toilet paper, oh my! Not all bathrooms in China are dirty holes dug up underground, but they aren’t the cleanest either. One time while I was traveling through the countryside in Shenyang, I ended up going to the bathroom in an outhouse. I will never forget the smell. Or the flies….”

Meet Me at the TRA Overseas Chronicles

#DailyWings: “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you…hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
-Anthony Bourdain

Almost every summer ever since I can remember, I have made a month-long trip to China to visit family, travel across the country and embrace the culture and heritage of my ancestors. You could say that China (particularly Shanghai, where I am based) is my second home.

Early tomorrow morning, I will be taking a 15-hour flight from NC to Detroit, and then from Detroit to China. I’ve had barely enough time to recover from my busy weekend to and from Ohio, but I couldn’t be more excited. You would think that after years of traveling to the same country I’d get used to it, even tired of it – the same old city with steamed pork buns. And to a certain extent you’d be right. I am afraid that half-growing up in China has led me to take these trips, and thus my own unique culture, for granted. It is deeply ingrained in my daily lifestyle and my values, whether or not I fully realize it. I don’t experience the same marvel and wonder and culture shock that another American college student would while traveling abroad in Asia.

Lightyears Pocket Watch xoxo

QOTD: What is your favorite wearable accessory?

I grabbed some frozen yogurt on Franklin Street today with a dear friend of mine. I got red velvet cake flavor + Oreo flavor + chocolate chips. Yes, red velvet cake froyo! It actually wasn’t that bad…on the other hand, the froyo guy gave me way too many chocolate chips! I know you must be thinking, how is ‘too many chocolate chips’ even possible? Trust me, it’s possible! I feel compelled to create a funny analogy, but the thing is, I have nothing to compare a mountain of chocolate chip froyo to…

After froyo, we stopped by Lightyears, a cute jewelry shop that has every type of jewelry imaginable and some really quirky items too–like Lip Service Mustache Picks. My friend (shout-out to Jingyi! <3) got me this beautiful gold pocket watch necklace for my birthday (even though it’s still a month away!).


Seven Tips for Surviving Exam Week

QOTD: Please, my friend, share with me us some ways to get through this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week of tests and deadlines and exams. Anything. 

1) Pandora is your best friend. Or Spotify, or Youtube or whatever means you use to listen to music. When I’ve got my headphones on, I stay in the zone and have a lower chance of falling asleep over my notes. And when you’re tapping a foot or typing with your fingers to the beat of your favorite band, studying just becomes that much more fun. For some sweet tunes, check out Mipso Trio


My Latest Obsession: “Brown Satchel” from Mossimo Supply Co.

QOTD: Would you rather indulge on an airplane ticket to the Bahamas or on a brand new iPad?

What you see to the left is my trusty, old handbag of 10,896 years (just about). My bag officially retired from its carrying duties yesterday. I got a little teary, especially since I’ve had it such a long time, but I felt it was finally time for us both to  move on. *sniffle* You have served me well, dearest blue-floral-satchel! 

I went shopping this past weekend to find the perfect new handbag – which is always really, really hard. A handbag needs to have just the right amount of pattern and solid color. It has to have a lot of pockets. It also needs to be big enough to put a couple of books in. The chemistry between me and my handbag also has to be strong. We can’t get tired of each other too fast, you know. 

But more often than not, when I do find something that I like I get really attached and I know that bag is the one for me! Which is what happened when I set my eyes on this baby yesterday: 


5 Creative Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste

QOTD: Share some tips with us on how you work to decrease the amount of food waste in the trash can! 

One of my biggest pet peeves is food waste. Throwing away leftovers and sour milk makes me cringe, and I can’t help but think about how this extra trash could have been minimized if only the food had been consumed perhaps a day or two earlier. That’s a lot of money wasted. Not to mention the kids starving in third world countries and the damage being done to the environment.

Obviously food waste can’t be completely avoided, but there are several ways to make sure your trash can isn’t smelling of rotten bananas and days-old chow mein at the end of the week. Here are some tips that I’ve learned during my one-and-a-half years as a college student so far: