+pasta+

Usually, one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is.

Julia Child, American chef, author, and television personality (1912-2004)

Up until my unexpected vegetarian phase, I was a voracious eater.  I remember summer of ’09 when my brother and I visited Korea and would eat a minimum of seven servings of kbbq together, to aunts’ surprise.  They thought that our parents were starving us from the way that we ate, but after reassurance from our mom, they realized that we just ate a lot.  Sadly, I can no longer eat that much kbbq, no matter how tempting it sounds.

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Picky Eater vs. Particular Eater

While I’m no longer a big eater, I’m still a foodie.  I love trying food from all sorts of countries, as well as fusion dishes.  However, even with these foods, I’m very specific on the manner the food is presented to me.  To be clear, I am not a picky eater – I’m a particular eater.  In millennial vernacular, my OCD causes my particular eating, though for the record, I was never diagnosed as such.

Picky eats will only eat certain foods, while besmirching others, like vegetables.  I love vegetables so much that I’ll eat it without dressing.  Particular eaters, however, will eat all sorts of food, but they’re adamant on it being served in a certain manner.  As the name refers, food must be in a particular way, almost like a ritual.

For example, I won’t eat spaghetti if the pasta noodles are mixed with marinara sauce, but I will eat it if the pasta noodles and the sauce are in separate bowls, weird I know 🤗.  I know this sounds absurd because plain pasta isn’t particularly appealing, but in my head, I have to eat it this way.  I know that I have this arrogance inside because I think, “How dare the marinara sauce mix with the pasta without my permission?”

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I know that this preference irks my family, though they’ve adjusted to this.  They understand that I’m not picky, but it’s that I don’t like the method of preparation.  My family, spaghetti lovers, would get frustrated when I wouldn’t eat it, but in hindsight, it’s almost my fault for not being able to express how off-putting mixing the two were.

Other dishes that I approach the same way are ramen, anything on white rice, etc.  Ramen noodles and the soup are in separate bowls, and are eaten separately.  Kimchi, or food with strong colors, are things that I hate touching my rice because it changes the color.

However, despite this weird preference, I love making new types of pasta dishes and experimenting with pasta noodles to see what kind of cool thing I can concoct from the things I have at home.  And while pasta isn’t the healthiest dish out there, I want to share the interesting creations that I have come up with, from the things I have at home.

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The Conception (?) Story

My brother and I were scrounging around the kitchen to see if there was anything we wanted to eat.  Per usual, we had a ton of pasta noodles, like farfalle (“bowties”), penne, spaghetti, etc.  My brother laid claim on the marinara sauce that we had, so I was left to make something out of the things in the kitchen.

Taking inventory of the cabinets and fridge, I was pleasantly surprised to see what I could work with.  I was able to pick the ingredients I wanted to use for the spontaneous dish I had in mind.

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Ingredients

  • 1~2 servings of farfalle pasta, depending on how hungry you are 😬
  • ½ cup of sundried tomatoes
  • 3 slices of chopped bacon
  • ¼ cup of diced onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • cooking oil (e.g. vegetable, sunflower, etc. but not olive)
  • 1 thin slice of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce
  • Italian seasoning
  • Dried basil leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic & parsley salt
  • Parmesan cheese, or 3 Italian cheese blend, depending on your preference

Steps

  1. In a pot, cook the farfalle according to the instructions on the back of the box. This should take around 11 minutes, though you may cook it for a little longer if you like soft pasta.
  2. Heat a pan and grease it with cooking oil and a thin slice of butter (you don’t need a lot), for flavor. Once the oil moves fluidly on the pan, add in the garlic, tomatoes, and onions, lowering the stove to medium heat.
  3. Next, add the bacon to the pan. Right before the pasta’s drained, add in the marinara sauce into the pan and mix.
  4. Add the pasta to the pan, adding various seasonings (i.e. Italian, basil leaves, garlic powder), as you see fit. If it tastes a bit lacking, throw in a little garlic & parsley sauce, though it isn’t necessary.
  5. Fold in the cheese, on low heat, for a few minutes. Plate it and enjoy!

I know that it went on a rant about marinara sauce in my pasta, but I thought it would add a nice pale red color to the dish.  I’m not a certified chef, but food is also about aesthetics, so I would say that I’m pretty proud of myself 🙌🏻.

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Oh and before I forget, here are two pictures of my creation.

IMG_3519by me!
IMG_3520close up – look at the cheese

xoxo,

the girl who likes to play with her food, literally

+stir fry+

I can’t stay away from Chinese food.  I really love that stuff.

Shaun White, American professional snowboarder and skateboarder (1986-present)

My college is in a suburban town, just thirty minutes west of Philadelphia.  Not to be stereotypical or anything, but I’ve come to realize that every single restaurant there is either ridiculously health-conscious or just subpar fast food.  For example, I have never been able to eat some decent pork fried rice because if one takeout place puts the right type of meat, then they’ll mess it up by getting the flavor wrong, vice versa.

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A lot of my friends are willing adventurers and try out the various eateries off campus, and they mentioned honeygrow.  honeygrow sells healthy stir fry dishes and salads, and is just a five-minute drive off campus.   I was intrigued by this premise because one, it was a strange combination of foods to sell, and two, could you even make stir fry healthy?

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I found my answer when I visited honeygrow for the first time, earlier in the school year.  My friend and I had decided to eat at honeygrow because it sounded the best amongst all the options off campus, and because we were eager to catch up after not seeing each other since high school ended three years ago.

honeygrow’s ordering method is a millennial dream come true – customers craft their stir fry dish or salad through a touch screen.  They have the option of paying by card directly at the ordering station, or by cash at the food pick-up station.  For convenience, I paid with my card.

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When you choose your honeygrow stir fry, you can choose from pre-made designs, or build your own; the latter is created from your pick of protein, vegetables, sauce, toppings.  The instructions are clear and very easy to follow, making the whole experience painless.

As a popular establishment, I would say that I had to wait about two minutes on line before I could create my dish, then wait another 10-15 minutes before they finished making my dish.  honeygrow also sells carbonated beverages, but since I don’t drink soda, healthier alternative or not, I simply asked for a cup to get some water, as I picked up my food.

IMG_2761Our food’s here!
IMG_2764My dish – they put quite a lot of dried shallots.
IMG_2763Just a close up, it looks so good!!

As a lover of spicy food, I doused my stir fry in sriracha sauce, even though I picked the spicy garlic sauce for my stir fry.  The hotter, the better!

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The ambience is definitely on the louder side, or I’ve only visited them during their loud period.  It’s filled with middle and high schoolers from the area meeting up for dinner after practice, as well as families with very young children, young children who apparently love to cry there.  It would have been nicer if it was quieter because at times, I had trouble hearing my friend, let alone hearing myself to collect my thoughts.  The volume isn’t a deal breaker, however, as the food makes sure to keep their patrons visiting again and again.

xoxo,

the girl who’s eating healthy stir fry because she’s super healthy now 😏

IMAGE CREDIT: honeygrow

+alternative+

Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy.  It’s not about nutrients and calories.  It’s about sharing.  It’s about honesty.  It’s about identity.

Louise Fresco, Danish scientist, director, writer (1952-present)

Most of us spend a good portion of our lives consuming countless burgers, hotdogs, and pizza, whether you buy it from Nathan’s at Jones Beach or make it at home because you never celebrate the Fourth of July without a cookout.  According to Yahoo Answers, a super reliable source, Americans eat 22.2 billion hamburgers and 13.7 billion hotdogs yearly; just reading those numbers make me feel sick.

America has become a global empire built from machine made food that can probably outlast humans themselves.  How can an average consumer be sure if their hamburger “beef” patty is really made from a cow’s side?  Ignorance is bliss, considering how we eat tons of it anyways.

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I was once an avid hamburger consumer, telling my mom how I wanted McDonald’s Big Macs at my wedding when I was younger.  Today, the only time I eat hamburgers are the rare occasions when my dad decides to make hamburgers for Sunday lunch.

For me, a hamburger is one that contains a lot of raw onion, cooked onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise mixed with a little barbecue sauce, a patty, and of course a nice potato bun.  I feel like my subconscious knows how unhealthy burgers are, even if I don’t eat them often, so I try to add a lot of raw vegetables to it.

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My dad came up with two hamburger patty recipes that we follow, a lazy version and a stuffed version.  The lazy version is just grounded beef shaped into a patty, and while it’s being cooked, a little bit of ground red pepper will be added.  The stuffed version, however, is another story.

To make my dad’s stuffed hamburger patties, here are the ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of ground beef – 85% lean, 15% fat
  • ½ of a sweet/white onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. After washing your hands, dice the sweet onion into small pieces and mince the garlic cloves; they should be small so they can easily be incorporated with the ground beef, but it’s your preference really.
  2. Taking the ground beef out of its packaging, place it into a medium sized mixing bowl and mix along with the diced onions and minced garlic, using a clean wooden spoon, bare or gloved hands – whatever does the job for you.
  3. Once it’s all combined, portion it, depending on how many patties you want to make. My dad generally makes five large patties with this recipe, but you can make more smaller patties if you desire.  Shape each portion into a patty carefully because some onion and garlic pieces may fall out.
  4. Cook the patties in whatever manner you prefer, like frying, grilling, etc. Since I live in an apartment, we generally lightly grease a pan and cook our patties on it.  NOTE: you can save the uncooked patties by wrapping them in cling wrap and storing it in your freeze, but you should eat them as soon as possible, as meat that has come into contact with hands will start to deteriorate faster.
  5. Assemble after the patties are cooked to your liking.

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Even though there aren’t any preservatives or questionable materials in this recipe, I feel as though I rarely eat burgers, whether it’s homemade or from a Shake Shack.  I’ve become obsessed with eating lettuce again, so I probably won’t crave a burger for a while.  Nonetheless, everyone should try this stuffed patty recipe!

xoxo,

the girl who eats like a rabbit (sometimes)

IMAGE CREDIT: Serious Eats

+crepe+

I don’t care if you’re doing haute cuisine or burgers and pizza, just do it right.

Grant Achatz, American chef and restauranteur (1974-present)

I love French food.

Well, I love all sorts of food, but French food is memorable.

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I’m always on the lookout for a new French place to check out because each eatery will offer something different; rest in peace Mon Petit Café, you had really nice pâté de foie gras, and I will miss it dearly 😭.  I try to cram as many French restaurants as I can during my free days, to the ire of my friends because surprisingly, note everyone is a fan of duck 🦆🦆🦆.

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Back in April, I visited La Tarte Flambée for the first time.  It was a pleasant experience, I would return, and I would recommend to my friends.  However, this was to be expected, as Yelp said it would be.  Thanks to Yelp, we no longer have to blindly visit an eatery because the good people of NYC will be there to write a scathing review whenever someone provides horrible service.

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La Tarte Flambée specializes in pizza like crepes, which serve as entrées and desserts, depending on what you put on them.  They also serve soups, salads, and stereotypical American things, like burgers and mac’n’cheese.  In terms of drinks, they have a plethora of options, though I didn’t pick one during my visit.

 

IMG_2676Snapshot of the menu, though it’s probably too dark to see what’s on it.
IMG_2677So good!!  Who knew cheese, honey, and bacon was a winning combo.
IMG_2678I’m not quite sure what that is, but it was like a burger, but not really.
IMG_2679A close up – the salad was so fresh.
IMG_2680I always thought it was cool when a restaurant had wine glasses hang from the ceiling like that.
IMG_2683The wine wall next to my seat – cute!

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In terms of the ambience and service, I would say that it was ideal.  The vibe was cozy, bordering romantic – you can see couples on dates, but also grandparents enjoying some good wine.  I did notice that I was the only person in the entire establishment who didn’t speak French, which meant that the French people probably loved this place, and I felt like I was transported to a cute restaurant in France.

The waiter was polite and didn’t come to our table constantly, asking us if the food was okay, the typical waiter questions.  I know that it’s their job, but if I have a problem, I would let them know first.  Because the waiter didn’t pester us, it gave me a positive impression of La Tarte Flambée, that they were confident in their food, letting it do all the talking.

xoxo,

the girl who loves French cuisine, but is fluent in Spanish 😂

IMAGE CREDIT: Tracy’s New York Life

+protein+

“All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist (1922-2000)

If you follow my social media handles (nudge, nudge!) you’ll notice how much I love food.  I get excited about all things food related – cooking, eating, taking pictures, trying out new food, etc.  Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but I would love a boyfriend who’s willing to take me on food adventures, as my broke college wallet cannot buy anything that I want to try.

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To see my love for food, here’s a strange story: from a young age, I would constantly develop random mouth sores.  Not knowing the cause, I would complain about the pain, but also how much I wanted to eat a certain food; it was mostly the $2 chocolate ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles from the nearest Mr. Softee’s truck.  My mother thought I was just making scene to get ice cream, but we quickly discovered that whenever I ate something that I craved, the sores would go away.  There probably isn’t a correlation supported by science, but it always worked like a charm.

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Thanks to my genetics, I can eat whatever I want without outwardly showing any consequences.  However, in middle school, I went through a period where meat was nauseating, so I went on a vegetarian diet.  From this, my appetite shrunk dramatically, and I couldn’t eat as much as I used to.

Concurrently at school, my substitute teacher complimented how skinny my friend and I were, and we reciprocated the favor, as she was also very skinny.  Sighing, she said that at her age, her appearance could only be achieved through diet and exercise, as her metabolism, which used to be like ours, began to crash in her mid-twenties.  These two experiences opened my eyes to what I was consuming and the amount I was consuming.

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Earlier this year, I changed my diet to reflect my new workout routine because I wasn’t losing the stomach pudge that I wanted gone.  However, eating well is hard in college because your meals are dependent on the dining hall options or what you have in your dorm.  For example, my college’s dining halls protein option was almost exclusively chicken breast because while it was a healthy option, it’s very cheap in comparison to other cuts of meat.

Ironically, the first order of business in my new diet was to buy chicken breast; while I was sick of eating it, I did have a trusty method of preparing it.  I also stocked up on a lot of fruits and vegetables – they were my source of carbs, as I’m not the biggest fan of wheat or grains.

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The way I prepared fruits and vegetables basically describes a raw food diet, but I never called it that.  Calling something a diet makes it an obligation, and I think as humans, we just don’t like being forced to do something.  Also, this may contradict my foodie status, but sometimes, I go into periods of craving where I just eat one thing only.  Throwback to Argentina, when I would only eat salads with grilled chicken breast and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Here’s an example of a dinner after a workout, which eerily sounds similar to my Argentine diet:

  1. Take out a Ziploc bag of chicken breast from the freezer and let it defrost, unopened under the running hot water from the sink for five minutes. During that time, take out the lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and any other vegetables from the fridge.  Take out a desired amount of each kind and leave it to the side.
  2. After taking out the bag, turn on your stove and oil a pan, lightly. I recommend using sunflower or canola oil because they have the highest smoke point temperatures.  Multiple studies have shown that cooking with olive oil is hurtful to your health because since it burns faster, it becomes a carcinogenic.
  3. When the oil moves like water, place your chicken in the pan and let it cook on medium high heat. Since the oil’s already very hot, it will help cook the meat, but it shouldn’t be on high because then it will just burn the outside, leaving the inside uncooked, and uncooked chicken’s dangerous to eat.
  4. Midway through cooking, you can lightly season with salt and pepper, if desired. Keeping an eye out for the chicken, wash the vegetables in cold water, and cut into the desired size before plating.
  5. When the chicken is finished, put onto the same plate as the vegetables, to the side, or on top, whatever’s preferred.
  6. Lightly season with extra virgin olive oil right before eating for flavoring, if desired. Pair with water because anything but defeats the purpose of working out.

I realized that the best way to approach healthy eating is to be as simple, or as creative as you want to be.  If you want to make a healthy raw food alternative to Nutella, then go for it!  If you’re like me and you’re content with eating lettuce straight up from a bag, that’s your prerogative.

♓️

While I don’t have my large appetite anymore, I still retained my snacking habits.  At least three times a day, I feel peckish and want to eat something small.  To remedy this problem, I simply wash a bunch of berries in cold water and eat them, returning on the task at hand.

An accomplishment that I want to share is that I haven’t had soda in over a year now!  I only drank it because it would alleviate my painful migraines, but I quit, knowing how unhealthy high-fructose corn syrup is for the body.  I thought it would be a hard sacrifice because of my migraines, but it was actually an easy change, especially when thinking about the wallet that could not fund this expense.  One year later, I barely remember the taste of it and strangely don’t even crave it 🎉!

xoxo,

the girl who pairs food with ~iced~ water

IMAGE CREDIT: Pinterest

+connoisseur+

“Your diet is a bank account.  Good food choices are good investments.” – Bethenny Frankel (via BrainyQuote)

Turning 21 has other perks beyond the fact that I can finally drink legally and visit the strict Mainline bars.  In celebration of my 21st birthday, my mother fulfilled a promise that she made ten years ago, to celebrate my 21st at the 21 Club, here in New York City.

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The 21 Club, like many of New York’s famous haunts, is rich with history; it was a speakeasy restaurant during the U.S.’s prohibition days.  While it’s no longer an illicit establishment that sells liquor, the 21 Club still maintains its charm from the Roaring Twenties, with its gorgeous ceiling and intimate ambience.  Despite celebrating my birthday with two best friends, this is definitely a place more suited for couples on a dressy date night filled with wine and good food.

A pleasant surprise at the 21 Club was the lack of intrusive behavior by the waiters, a rarity in New York City restaurants.  This behavior separated it from even the most upscale restaurants because you know that when a waiter asks you how your food is more than once per course, they are slightly nudging you to hurry up and leave.  By not pestering patrons, it showed them that the staff at the 21 Club is quite confident in the food they present for their guests, a quality that many restaurants should mimic.  I understand that while it isn’t practically to eat like the French, especially in a New York City establishment, occasionally, it’s nice to know that you can leave whenever you finish eating.

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The meal clearly spoke for itself because every time a new course came out, I could not wait to devour it.  Below are some pictures from that night; while I tried to take decently lit pictures, the intimate ambience meant that the lighting was not going to be favorable to my poor iPhone camera.

IMG_2718Because I was stuck in traffic, I had to miss out on the round or rosé #fomo
IMG_2613I could be wrong, but I’m 99% sure that the drinks menu was written in Garamond, my favorite font, which just added bonus points to their aesthetic.
IMG_2717Candidly looking at the drinks menu, but social media is all a façade, and it took ten minutes to get this shot.
IMG_2712Not even going to bother with looking candid — I look like a chipmunk.
IMG_2709With my best frand ♥️ She didn’t get the Merlot though
IMG_2711My eyes look gross but my side profile looks nice — I guess you win some and you lose some
IMG_2720APPETIZER: Foie Gras with Fig Jam — sorry duck, I really like your liver
IMG_2723A close up of the liver — look how perfect everything is
IMG_2621APPETIZER: Soup of the Day — my best friend got this, but I have no clue what it was called
IMG_2622Another close up because I’m obsessed with how perfect everything is done.
IMG_2624APPETIZER: Veal — I feel like veal in theory always sounds good, but I’m nit quite sure if I’m sold on the taste yet.
IMG_2630ENTRÉE — Duck again! Sorry guys, you’re honestly really tasty 🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆
IMG_2729Closeup of the dish, and I’m honestly quite surprised at how well my camera captured the details of the dish.
IMG_2635ENTRÉE — steak tartare.  Enough said.
IMG_2637Look how they perfectly plated this dish, with the pepper flakes distributed like foliage.IMG_2632ENTRÉE — the tuna that looks like a steak.
IMG_2728Not quite sure what the crispy things on top of the tuna were, but they were delicious.
IMG_2639SIDE — creamed spinach with three cheeses (I think?)
IMG_2641The cheese on top reminds me of créme brûlée
IMG_2648DESSERT — rum infused cake with candied raspberries for two.
IMG_2735Not a huge fan of moist cakes, but this was actually just the perfect amount of moistness.
IMG_2734I love when you take a slice of cake and put cream on it and it looks like art in on itself.
IMG_2654DESSERT — a combo of vanilla ice-cream, cream, and chocolate mousse.
IMG_2669Look how cutely they designed the top of the mousse, with an edible sheet with their logo on it.
IMG_2736The ceiling is a dream for any child growing up in the 20th century, or what I imagine a child from the 20th century would have loved.
IMG_2737One final look at the ceiling before we waited outside for our Uber to pick us up.

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I know that my age group was not 21 Club’s target demographic, but if I ever have the opportunity to sit and enjoy some amazing foie gras again, I won’t be passing up that chance, even for a second.

xoxo,

the girl who can’t get enough of ducks

+lemon+

“Lemons.  He liked lemons.” – Nick Harkaway (via goodreads)

The start of a new year only means one thing – resolutions.  For many of us, we begin a new year with promises of a better and healthier version of ourselves.  If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think that there has ever been a year where I actually kept my new year’s resolution.  For example, one year I swore to be less addicted to my AIM account, yet in less than a week, I was up until midnight, chatting with my friends.  Another year, my best friend and I swore to the high heavens that we would work out to get a beach bod’ for the summer, yet two days later, we were found relaxing at a nearby café, trying to rationalize why we couldn’t go to the gym that day.

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If growing up and going to college has taught me anything, it’s that new things should always begin on a random day.  As a New Yorker, going to school in Pennsylvania has taught me how privileged I am, to have access to clear tap water, i.e. tap water in PA is akin to that thick and gross mineral water you would buy at the bodega.  Consequently, the only way to stomach PA water was to make a healthier alternative to lemonade that strangely tasted really good, as well as a lemon detox tea that’s perfect for shedding that extra salt and water weight that keeps your feeling bloated.

The lemonade alternative is an easy and refreshing way to spruce up your daily water consumption.  We all know that the key to clearer and healthier skin, as well as overall health, is through drinking water.  However, drinking water becomes monotonous over time, so we’re easily tempted into drinking iced lattes and sodas, which sets us back on our daily water requirement.  So, to make drinking not a chore again, listed below is my super simple recipe to help meet your daily water needs.

Ingredients

  • 5 lemon slices
  • 20 fl. oz. ice
  • 14 fl. oz. cold water
  • 1 tsp. honey – optional

Directions

In a large water bottle, add the lemon wedges before adding the ice.  Next, add the water, and honey, if desired.  Cap the water bottle and shake bottle thrice, turning it upside down, so that the lemon juice can be slowly infused into the water.

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The lemon detox tea is another easy way to get your daily water consumption, especially when it’s colder out.  Below is my recipe for a tea that can wash away some of your bad decisions, like the time you had three too many slices of pizza.

Ingredients

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of ground mint
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ tsp. honey – optional

Directions

In a mug, mix the lemon juice, ginger, cloves, and mint.  Pour hot water and stir to combine.  If desired, wait a couple of minutes to add the honey.

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Most tea recipes that include honey usually add it before pouring the hot water, but I would advise otherwise.  A few pre-med and biology majors have told me that when honey comes into contact with extremely hot things, it can become a carcinogenic, and frankly, we’re not trying to increase our chances of cancer just so we can sweeten our drinks.  And anyways, we don’t need it, considering how much sugar we consume to begin with.

xoxo,

the girl who is trying to keep her resolution this year

Image Credit: Get It Online Joburg West