Penne with Italian Sausage + Creamy Tomato Sauce

My mom has been making this pasta for as long as I can remember. I’m fairly certain that I’ve asked her to make it for it for most of my birthday dinners and I will stand by the fact that if I were ever on death row, this would be my requested last meal. So when I moved into my very first big-girl apartment with a real kitchen, I knew I had to make it.

But the thing is, I haven’t eaten pasta in months. According to all the photo evidence I have, the last time I ate pasta was a plate of spaghetti + meatballs in September of last year. You know, because of the whole low-carb thing. But then I was introduced to Banza, a company that makes pasta out of chickpeas. That means more protein + less carbs than regular pasta, so I figured I would at least give them a shot.

I’ve made some changes to my mom’s original recipe, but most of it has stayed the same. Continue reading

Stay Back or Spread Your Wings, It’s Your Choice

Lately, it feels like I’ve been having a similar conversation with a lot of my friends. As my sophomore year of college draws to a close, I can’t help but look back on all the memories I’ve made, challenges I’ve overcome, and progress that I have made over the last two years. But to be completely frank, I am confident that the progress I have made would not have happened had I not moved away from home.

It’s that time of year where high school seniors are making the decision to stay back home or spread their wings and fly off to a new place. While I made the decision to fly away from the nest, I had many friends that decided to stay closer to theirs. I also had friends that decided to fly thousands of miles away. It seemed like at the time– and even today– everyone talked about everyone else’s decisions. “Oh of course ________ chose to go to school close to home, they’ll be stuck in high school forever.” However, in reality, everyone made the decision that was best for them and we aren’t ones to judge what’s best for someone else.

I’m personally glad I chose to move away from home. Although I have always been pretty independent, not having my immediate family within 200 miles forced me to create a newfound sense of independence. I could do basically everything I did when I was at home without my mom and dad looking over my shoulder to make sure I did it [the way that they consider] right. I could call them for wisdom and support whenever I needed it, but ultimately I had to deal with most things myself. Throughout my college experience I’ve screwed up, failed, and embarrassed myself. But I’ve picked myself up and figured things out on my own.

Because I’ve moved away from everything I’ve ever known, I’ve also been able to reinvent myself in a sense. I’ll obviously always be myself, but there were behaviors from high school that I decided to kick. Gone was the girl that cared about being cool, having a million friends, or impressing everyone (news flash: it’s impossible). No longer was the attitude that you have to be great at everything or that your self-worth is directly correlated with the amount of “likes” you get on social media. I’ve grown tremendously by being forced to figure things out on my own. I’ve grown into myself.

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However, there are people I know that have grown tremendously by staying close to home. They use the support of their family members as motivation to develop as an individual. Just because their personal growth happened differently than mine doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

Some of my friends have been talking about how they feel guilty for changing and growing apart from their high school friends. But truthfully, that’s just part of life. Some friends come and go; some friends stay forever. You should never feel guilty for taking care of yourself and making sure that you are in the absolute best position for personal growth and development.

I think it’s so easy for us to sit back and judge others for not doing the same thing that we’re doing, but difference makes the world go round. We can’t expect everyone to make similar decisions to ours, because otherwise there would be no diversity. Without diversity, sh*t wouldn’t get done. (I’m looking at you, engineers + doctors that are doing the work I NEVER could.)

Staying close to home or flying far from the nest is a personal decision. Everyone has to determine where and how they will best develop as an individual and that decision is nobody’s to make but theirs. So instead of criticizing others for the manner, place, and time they choose to grow, let’s celebrate those differences and recognize that it’s okay that everyone isn’t exactly like us. We’re all just trying to do what’s best for ourselves.

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The Dangers of Added Sugar

This post is sponsored by Salad Power. All writing and opinions are my own.

I’m no nutrition expert, but I took Anatomy 101 once upon a time and let me tell you, it scared the HELL out of me. I also like to credit a lot of my knowledge of sugar to the documentary Fed Up, which is amazing and shocking and beautifully produced and I highly recommend that everyone in America watch it. (What sort of process do I need to go through to make something part of high school curriculum? Let me know.)

Overall, I know one thing: sugar can be extremely dangerous. It isn’t always, but it CAN BE. So let’s start with a super basic breakdown of why sugar is dangerous. Continue reading

Low-Carb Mini Eggplant Pizzas

I love pizza. Like, if I could eat it for every single meal of the day, I would. And honestly, even bad pizza is good pizza to me (I’m talking $5.99 pizzas from that sketchy place close to campus and Jack’s frozen pizzas). But since discovering the fact that excess carbs don’t exactly sit very well with me, I’ve tried to cut back on my pizza consumption. But let’s be real– that’s nearly impossible, especially as a college student (drunk pizza, anyone?). While I cannot confidently say that I could make these mini eggplant pizzas after a few drinks, I do think they satisfy my pizza craving without killing my insides.  Continue reading

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is seriously one of my favorite versatile fridge staples. It’s quickly made, easy to store, and can be eaten as a snack or meal. You can put it between bread to make a sandwich, eat it with crackers, or just scoop it straight out of the container. One of the best things about chicken salad is that it’s relatively healthy, and can be made even healthier with swaps like avocado oil mayo and organic chicken.

I’ve also come to realize that chicken salad can easily be made in my dorm room. In all honesty, I’ll steal a few chicken breasts, pieces of celery, and sliced onions from the dining hall, mix them with the mayo, mustard, & Greek yogurt I already have in my dorm room, and I have an on-the-go lunch or healthy snack when I need it. Also, if you don’t steal food from the dining hall you’re not living life to the fullest. Just saying. Adapted from my mom’s original recipe (let’s be real, when are my recipes not adapted from something my mom has made?), here’s my very own recipe for chicken salad. Continue reading