Tag Archives: thessaloniki

Saturday Special: I miss Asian food

Today I was really craving some fried rice. There’s a place I can order from around here, but I knew it would be significantly healthier (although definitely not as delicious) if I made it myself, so I did. Sort of. I didn’t really make this decision until right before dinner, so I was missing a few ingredients. It didn’t exactly satisfy my Asian food craving, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Next time I will definitely opt for non-frozen vegetables, even with the extra time it will take to cook them. You really can just tell the difference between them. 

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I am getting tired of chicken. How many times have I said that already? I don’t even know why. I went to an absolutely fantastic burger place earlier this week and I haven’t even really been eating meat at all recently. Also, it’s not like I don’t eat chicken all the time back home. I definitely eat chicken more than any other type of meat. I do think I’m in a cooking rut. I seem to be making small variations on the same meals every time I cook. Whenever I try to make something drastically different it typically doesn’t turn out as nice so I feel like it’s not worth it try again since I have to end up eating whatever I make. Still, something’s gotta give. Saturdays are meant for food experimentation, and I have definitely been slacking on that front. I’m going to try to quit my bitching and give it a genuine effort next week. 

Earlier this week I planned a trip to Istanbul with five other people from my group. I am TOO stoked about this. And, get this: we’re going to see JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE. I honestly can’t wait. Knowing that this trip is coming up has made it so hard to focus on my school work. I have been wanting to go to Istanbul basically since I got here. I haven’t gone yet because I was worried about my finances, but I decided this trip was my reward for my internship over the summer.

All in all, I can’t complain about this week. I have definitely been relaxing more than I should, which will probably come back to bite me later on this week, but for now I’m doing alright. I’m officially three weeks away from the end of this crazy journey, and I have a feeling it’s going to be the best three weeks yet. 

P.S. I hope you’re still watching me do yoga. I am not ashamed of bragging about how awesomely I have been doing. I’m especially proud of myself for actually keeping it up for this long. 

 

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Saturday Special: My first homemade baked good!

Today is a great day, everyone, for more reasons than one. The first one being that I successfully made banana nut muffins from scratch… and they are so damn delicious.

 

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This is my happy face.

 

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I used this recipe, but subbed sugar substitute and half the butter for fresh greek yogurt and added walnuts. They’re still pretty calorie heavy, and having them in my room is going to be a serious challenge (because they are SO GOOD), but I’m so proud of myself for having these turn out edible, much less something I actually ENJOY. The baking gods were smiling down upon me today. I really had no idea what I was doing. Prior to this, I had only ever made cakes with cake mix, and even then I’d only done that a few times. This is an exciting thing, because I do love baked goods, and making them at home with healthier ingredients will make eating them much less of a pain for me. 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! My celebration does not stop there! This morning I got an email from a regional bank in my area saying I was accepted for a two-summer internship that comes with a scholarship! This summer, I will be working at a branch close to my home, and next summer I will be working in their headquarters. Plus, it’s PAID. And 40 hours/week. I feel like I can FINALLY relax and stop stressing out about my money situation. I am always able to work at my high school job during my breaks because the manager there absolutely adores me, but I would work at most 30 hours per week and a typical week would be more like 20-24 hours. At minimum wage. So, internship and massive amounts of major-related experience aside, I’m going to be making a ton more money with this internship than I would at that job. I am on top of the world today.

All things considered (my run yesterday and the subsequent death of my poor legs, the fact that I am basically done with all the schoolwork I have for the next week and a half, and the fact that I might have been slightly hungover), I took the day off. No workout, no tracking calories, no passing glance at ANYTHING school related. I’m even ordering delivery for dinner for the first time in over a month. Luckily, Sundays are my typical rest day so I’m just switching these two days this week, meaning I’m not actually “skipping” a workout. The food situation is a completely different story, but I really do not care. I know rewarding yourself with food is not the best thing to do, but, again, I do not care. I’m going to hop back on the wagon tomorrow and continue pushing ahead. I’ve earned it, and I’m not going to feel guilty at all about enjoying being absolutely useless for one day.

The Picture that Changed a Life

I am about to share a photo that I never wanted any one else to see. It is the picture that inspired me to gain control of my life and finally not be the “bigger girl” I have been since I can remember. This picture was taken a little over a year ago, on my 20th birthday, making this the longest and most successful weight-loss attempt I have ever undertaken. I have been “dieting” and “trying to lose weight” on and off since high school, but I am now well under my 9th grade weight at this point. If you recall from my last post, this picture also inspired a lot of self-hatred and body image issues, a lot of which I’m still struggling with today, but I am so much happier and healthier than I was when I took this photo and started my journey to be the best me I can be. 🙂 So, no more stalling.

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It’s not a very good picture in terms of being able to tell how much I actually weigh, so I don’t know why this particular photo caused me so much pain. I have several other photos of me around the same time that make my weight much more obvious, and while they obviously suck to see, none of them affect me as badly as this one does. I think my face is what really bothered me the most. Here I am over 175 pounds. I’m 5’7″, so this is a considerable amount over the “healthy” weight range for BMI. This picture is still really hard for me to look at, considering all the emotions it caused in the following months.

Anyway, this was meant to be a happy post, not a depressing one. I’m looking forward now, not back. Here is what I look like today (excuse the terrible bed-head and messy room):

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Today was actually a surprisingly good “body” day for me. My measurements are finally creeping downward again after quitting keto. This picture honestly took me back for a second because it’s one of only a few that I can look at and say “damn, girl, you go.” The last time I checked, I weighed 135, but I imagine that went up a little bit from water weight. I’m trying not to care, especially since my measurements continue to go down. Plus, let’s be real here, I look damn good.

I also had another accomplishment today- my first outside run! I’ve been scouring through youtube for exercise videos for the past few weeks because I don’t want to get bored of doing the same ones over and over, but today I decided to take it outside. I’ve always been nervous to do any sort of exercise around other people. Here it is especially hard because so many people like to run along the boardwalk and I am in no way as in shape as most of the people I see out there. Today I just had to remind myself that I would probably never see any of those people ever again and that it didn’t matter if I looked like an idiot. I was actually surprised at how much running I could actually do (although there was also a fair amount of walking). I ran almost five miles (since I don’t have 3G on my phone I had to rely on google maps to tell me the distance) and afterwards I stopped on the boardwalk to do a little yoga before heading back.

So, there’s a little bit of my weight loss story. Fitness is something I am hoping to make a serious, permanent part of my life, so hopefully this won’t be the last of what I have to say on the matter.

Saturday Special: Keeping it Simple

I love to cook. Really, I do. But for the past three weeks, I have cooked every single one of my meals. Do you realize how many times that means I’ve washed the dishes? It’s a lot. And eating the same meals every day gets extremely tedious. Lucky me, I’m either not sure where to get a lot of the ingredients keto-ers swear by or they’re way out of my budget. The other day I paid 4 euro for a jar of unsweetened peanut butter. FOUR EURO. For PEANUT BUTTER. Anyway, today I decided to keep it simple with a salad. I found some Caesar dressing (1g carb per serving, what!!!), splurged on a steak and made a giant salad:Image

This meal was expensive- close to five euro. I’m not exactly thrilled about that, but it’s been so long since I’ve eaten a steak or really any sort of beef that it was completely necessary. The Caesar dressing wasn’t that great, but I wasn’t exactly expecting it to be just like what I am used to back home. I am so thankful for this wonderful change of pace. Surprisingly enough, with the amount of spinach I’m eating, I am hardly ever eating salads anymore. Ever since I discovered the holy combination that is spinach and cream cheese, I find it hard to make spinach any other way.

I have been trying to experiment with my meals a little bit more. I put those chicken wings I bought last Saturday to very good use with some olive oil and chili powder:

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They might as well have been a blessing straight from heaven. Thank you for not being chicken breast. I also made this recipe for pizza a few nights ago: ImageI sautéed and seasoned a tomato instead of using pizza sauce. I also undercooked the crust a little bit. I tasted it before it was ready and I guess the piece I got was more done than the rest, so it wasn’t very crust-y at all, but it was still good. Surprisingly good for being made out of cauliflower. I still have some left and am planning on making some fake mashed potatoes at some point this week. I really enjoy how my limited food options make me work harder to cook different things. I’m also very excited for everything I’m going to be able to cook when I get back home.

Speaking of, this is technically the last week of spring break. Since I only have class two days a week and next Thursday is a holiday, I planned a personal day next Tuesday, meaning I’m actually out of school until May 6. Even with the extra week, my return to school is swiftly approaching. What’s worse, I only have EIGHT more days of class. Yes. Single digits. Eight more days and a week of finals and my study abroad experience is over for good. I have just under a month and a half, but considering that an entire second half of a semester is somehow being crammed into four weeks (we only took midterms right before break), I am going to be busy pretty much constantly, which means that the days are going to fly by. I honestly don’t know how to feel about this. I feel like I have a routine here. I’m pretty comfortable here. I have an apartment of my own here. It’s going to be SO strange to go back to my “normal” life. Yes, I went home over break, but the whole time I knew I was coming back here. This time I don’t have that. I’ll be going back to my home university, I’ll be moving into a house, and who knows the next time I’ll leave the country? I know it’s a little soon to be thinking about all these things, but since everyone has been gone, I’ve had a lot of time to think about everything in general.

I see that my blog is focusing more and more on cooking. I’m completely okay with this. I only expect to cook even more when I go home, so I know I’ll always have something to blog about.

If you didn’t check it out last time, give my Giveit100 page a look. I’m pretty darn proud of how my practice is going.

Living Low-Carb: Souvlaki wraps

There are a few foods I’ve grown to love (and by that I mean “obsess over”) on keto (it seems like I started this forever ago… it’s only been a week and a half!). Those are cream cheese and eggs. Cream cheese has changed my life. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point. I love cream cheese. It makes everything better. Anyway, today at the market I picked up another game changer- romaine lettuce! I normally have spinach salads, so I’ve never felt the need to pick up any type of lettuce, but today I went for it. The guy managing the stand only charged me half price (I don’t know what I did to deserve that) so that was nice too. Anyway, it’s like keto bread. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to stuff those babies before. Today I made ham and cheese “sandwiches” and for dinner I made these bad boys:

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Not the prettiest meal I’ve ever made, but that’s alright. I heavily overestimated the pork- the souvlaki skewers looked like they were half the size they normally are, so I thought two would be a good amount, but I was wrong. Not the biggest deal, but there was too much pork to fit inside the lettuce leafs. Under the pork is a tomato/cream cheese/spinach mix. These were DELICIOUS. Messy, but delicious. The lettuce surprisingly didn’t break or fall apart when I was eating, but I would like to find a way to make them stand up better. I might try iceberg lettuce next time. 

Anyway, this came out to about 600-ish calories and about 7 net carbs. That’s pretty high for my tastes, so this will definitely not be an “all the time” meal, but I woke up late and skipped breakfast today. I just used my last tomato and don’t plan on buying any more, so if I do make this in the future I’ll probably use half the pork and no tomato, making it much more keto-friendly. 

 

In other news, I finally got a LONG overdue haircut/color at the salon today. I went to the dentist yesterday since I haven’t been in a WHILE and I’ve been on this self-improvement kick. I was expecting to need several fillings, but he said I only needed one (thank god and Greece)! AND he didn’t even charge me for the first appointment. I had budgeted a LOT more for my teeth than I will be spending, so I used some of that money to take care of my hair. 

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I feel like a new woman!! I’m going back at the beginning of May to get it re-dyed (I’m really feeling medium-dark brown this time), but I’m surprised at how much I like this color. After dealing with whatever my hair has been doing for the past month, I think anything would be an improvement and a blessing. I’m also really happy with the cut- I’m trying to grow it out, so I only wanted a trim, but just that little bit has made it look ten times better and a million times less raggedy. I really love it, and I’m so happy getting it professionally done was in my budget. I’ve been trying to live pretty frugally since I am moving into my first house in August and it is completely unfurnished, so it was also really nice to be able to splurge a little bit. I haven’t really bought anything for myself other than food and toiletries in weeks. Spending money was actually a pleasant change. 

That’s all for now. I’m planning on a big grocery shopping trip at the end of this month to buy some baking materials, so I’ll be trying my hand at healthy baking here in a few weeks. Until next time!

Saturday Special: Living Low-Carb

Trying to cook with-in Keto has brought its own slew of challenges for me on top of being in the process of actually learning to cook in general. This past week got a bit a lot a little repetitive, so today, as per the norm on Saturdays, I broke out of my keto-confort zone and tried some new things. For breakfast, I used this recipe for cream cheese pancakes. I also bought an Atkins chocolate bar, which I melted and added to heavy cream to make chocolate whipped cream. Unfortunately, as with my other pancake endeavor, they ended up more like pancake mash and the whipped cream wasn’t very whipped at all, but that was because I got bored and my pancakes were getting cold. Again, I can’t complain because they tasted great, but the actually pancake-creation is going to take some intense practice.

Dinner turned out a bit better. I am sorry to say I am partially a recipe repeater. I made the same salmon from a few weeks ago. But I did use this recipe for zucchini pizza bites, and I can safely say that dinner was overall a huge success. This meal was around 5.50 euros. I already had everything except for the salmon. Let me just say it tasted just as good as it looked.

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Right now, the only aspect of my life in which I am actually feeling keto is my budget. I spent almost double what I normally spend on groceries this week. A lot of that has to do with the pancakes I made, since I didn’t have hardly any of those ingredients on hand, but it was still a little off-putting. Those will definitely be a “once in a  while” treat. The only reason I made them today was as an in-diet reward for resisting pizza, calzones and everything in my favorite bakery in Thessaloniki (Terkenlis!) yesterday. I can’t remember a time that I was more proud of myself. I am not one to turn down cookies when they are sitting right in front of me. It wasn’t easy, but I’m hoping that each time I face temptation it will get easier. We’ll see. 

This semester has been, at times, terrifyingly lonely. With my inability to connect with this group of study abroads and my complete determination to stick to a pretty strict budget, I don’t get out much. Sometimes it bothers me, but I know that it’s a choice I have made (I in no way think my lack of interacting with my group has anything to do with them. They’re great people. It’s really all on me.). I don’t normally have a problem being alone, but it has been hitting me pretty hard this last month or so. There is a silver lining, however. I have started doing a lot of “self-improvement.” It started with cooking, but I spend most of my day doing things that make me better. I play my ukulele a lot during the day, I workout nearly 6 days a week and in general I am just taking care of myself more. Sometimes I think I’d rather be home, but being here this semester has really helped me work on myself, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The independence that comes from having nearly all my time to myself allows me to make me the person I want to be. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity back home. And I’m hoping that I will get into a routine here that I will be able to carry with me back to the United States. 

That’s about it in my life. I am very seriously considering octopus sometime next week with one of my friends (I know I just spent a paragraph talking about how I never see anyone, but that’s not ENTIRELY true ALL of the time. I do have a teensy, tiny bit of a life.). Hopefully that happens. Octopus has been my ultimate goal for this entire semester.

Back in Action

Alright, guys, it’s been a while. Spring break is swiftly approaching here in Greece and that means midterms and mid-semester projects. On top of that, Caitlin came to visit me for a week and a half before she left to go back home for good (sob), so blogging kind of got put on the back burner. Caitlin left Monday and I took my last test yesterday, so I’m back in the grind. 

 

 

Last Saturday we went to Meteora. It was BREATHTAKING. 

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Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We were trying to save money, so instead of taking a comfortable cab ride, we decided to hike from a town at the base of the mountain. Poor decision, trust me.

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please don’t kill me for posting this

Thankfully we made it. I really wasn’t sure I would for a while. It was like a baby version of Mt. Olympus but I was overdressed and wearing heeled boots. I wanted to die. 

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We had to wear these AWESOME skirts inside the monastery

It was a long day but definitely worth it. We spent most of it traveling, but I definitely think Meteora is a must-see if you’re visiting northern Greece.

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Having Caitlin here meant we ate out A LOT. And, to be honest, I didn’t feel like bothering with trying to experiment with my cooking. I will definitely be making up for the two last Saturdays I missed. I started Keto a few days ago so I’m excited to start creating fun keto-friendly meals. I’ve been eating the same thing every day just to make sure I’m eating the right things, but I know I’m going to get bored of having no variety soon. Last night I did try to make zucchini noodles for the first time. It was actually pretty damn good. Not pasta, obviously, but not bad at all.

 

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I haven’t been doing much recently other than focusing on school, so that’s about it for now. Spring break is next week, hopefully I’ll get out of my room a few days out of the next month (I don’t have to worry about school again until May!). I’ll let you know how my diet is going later, I’m feeling pretty laggy right now, but I’ve read that that’s normal for a few days in.