Hey everyone! I wanted to share with you my simple fridge + pantry tips to reduce waste. I'm nowhere near perfect but I'm constantly making an effort to reduce my waste and make better choices which is started with the way you plan, shop and store your food. If you buy too much, you'll end up wasting food. If you don't properly store your food, you'll end up wasting it.
There's some things that stores make impossible to buy plastic-free like bread, grapes + berries but we can make up for it in other areas like opting for loose veggies instead of plastic. It's taken a lot of trial and error to get to where we are and I'm still learning everyday on ways to reduce my waste.
eggs - organic, pasture-raised always. if you can buy local, that's great. otherwise, I love vital farms. eggs are an amazing source of protein and can be added into any meal. who said eggs are just for breakfast?
gluten-free bread - I like the gluten-free bakery here in nyc but I also like food for life. great for sandwiches, avo toast, almond butter + jam. anything really! also love having raisin bread on hand!
raw veggies - prepped + ready to eat to dip in hummus or kite hill ranch dip! I also love having them already prepared for salads/bowls. spend 30 minutes to an hour or prepping to ensure you always have them on hand to choose over chips.
lemons + limes - great for homemade dressings, smoothies, add into water or make lemonade!
kimchi - great for the gut and with eggs for brekkie! I like mother in laws vegan kimchi.
coconut water- great to drink alone or in smoothies. added hydration and electrolytes.
nuts + seeds - store in the fridge to ensure freshness. I keep almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds on hand. and almond butter.
kite hill ranch dip - this dip is BOMB! my favorite thing when I was a kid was ranch and veggies and now they made my dream come true by creating a vegan one! so good!
miyokos butter - amazing alternative to conventional butter. melts + tastes just like it. sub it in any recipe that requires butter to make it vegan.
hilary's breakfast patties - made with millet, flax and chia seeds with the most delicious maple-y flavor. great source of protein and fiber in the morning. kudos to my sister for putting me on! :)
frozen fruit - I always keep an assortment of frozen fruits in my freezer for smoothies. anything from blueberries, mangos, pineapple, etc. helps them last longer. I also freeze ripe bananas for smoothies!
p.s. we don't technically have a pantry only a cabinet so I pulled out some items to show :)
garbanzo beans - I ALWAYS have these on hand to make homemade hummus, add into salads, curries, toast them. literally the options are endless. check out my crispy chickpea "croutons" here.
black beans - another thing that's so versatile and can be added in soups, salads or into tacos. we don't eat a lot of meat so beans are essential for us to get in our protein
rice noodles - love love love having these to use instead of rice when we're in the mood for stir fry or pad thai. they only take a few minutes to cook too! I likethis one.
lentil pasta - 14g of protein and doesn't give you that "carby" feeling afterwards. I get the whole foods brand. organic and only one ingredient -- LENTILS!
coconut milk - for soups or curries. so delicious!
quinoa - great source of protein and a great alternative to rice. can be added in salads, soups and used as a base for buddha bowls.
engine 2 pasta sauce - love the spicy kale one and the ingredients are great, low in sodium and organic which is key to buying pasta sauce as tomatoes are on the dirty dozen list.
coconut aminos - instead of soy sauce to avoid soy + wheat which are high inflammatory foods. can be used in dressings, soups or asian dishes. I usethis one.
ghee - it's been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and is a way better version of our conventional butter. it's a great source of healthy fats and is lactose free which means people who are sensitive to dairy can consume it. I use this one.
hemp protein - I use this instead of conventional protein powder because I honestly don't like a lot of the flavors and that they contain added sweeteners like stevia. just not my thing. I use this one.
avocado oil + 100% olive oil - avocado oil has a high smoke point which I prefer using when roasting or using in high temps. olive oil is great for salad dressings and eating in it's natural state. please make sure to always read the ingredient list to ensure you're getting 100% pure oil. a lot of brands trick us and blend it with vegetable oil.
himalayan pink salt - I use this instead of regular table salt.
pretty mushroom adaptogens - I use these daily in my lattes. help boost energy, focus and mood. my go-to is the genius and happy shrooms! found here.
tea - I have a lot of tea on hand as so many have different benefits. I started making alot of my own blends but I also really loverishi tea. i keep chamomile, peppermint, matcha, jasmine, tulsi and so many more in our home.
beeswax wrap - amazing reusable alternative to saran wrap or aluminum foil. i like this one.
stasher bags - silicone alternative to ziplocks and can we washed in the dishwasher. kinda pricey but so worth it.
mason jars - I like having mason jars on hand to store fresh veggies, nuts, seeds or prepped food. I also reuse any that I have on hand from old things such as kimchi, coconut oil, pickled veggies.
glass tupperware - switch over from plastic, now! plastic should not be heated because it melts into your food which adds chemicals like BPA + BPS. Chemicals found in plastic are proven to cause hormone imbalances. avoid overall -- better for your health + the environment. I got a set at costco for under $30.
clutter-free: by keeping your cabinets + fridge clutter-free, you'll get a better idea of what you already have and can easily access it. I personally feel like when my fridge is cluttered, i don't like to eat the food as much!
greens - such as romaine, collards, kale, etc that doesn't come in a container can be wrapped in a damp towel and stored in the drawer.
basil - i always had a problem with keeping my basil fresh until I learned that wrapping a towel around it keeps it fresh.
parsley + cilantro - fill a jar half way with cold water and stick the herbs inside standing up. change the water when it starts to run low or get discolored. option: cover with a reusable ziplock while in the jar. this keeps for a week or so.
loose carrots + celery - store in a jar or container with a little cold water at the bottom
nuts + seeds - store in airtight jars in the fridge to ensure freshness
avocados - keep in fridge to make them last longer or in a brown paper bag on the counter to ripen quicker
focus on the perimeter: you'll find your real food is in the perimeter of the grocery store whereas in the middle is where you'll find all the packaged, canned and processed foods. do the majority of your shopping on the outside and make a plan before entering the inside to keep you on track.
make a plan: this is something i'm still working on but I find it helpful when I do make a plan because it helps me stay in budget and from overbuying.
buying less: often times we overbuy at the grocery store and end up throwing food out. buy less and if you need to get more food then make another trip to the store. also, by making a plan this will ensure you buy less as well.
bring your own bags (this includes produce bags): this is one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste. leave them hanging on the door and bring them to your car on your way out. some places like whole foods actually give you 10 cents for every bag you use. produce bags are unnecessary for many reasons and most countries don't even use them. if you like to use them, bring your own with you. i like these.
buy in bulk: instead of buying packaged grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit -- buy in the bulk section. this saves you money and helps reduce your plastic waste. you can use these bulk bags to store them in or mason jars with the tare weight written on them.
what is a tare weight? the weight of the container alone.
to find the weight: set the scale to zero + place the empty container = tare weight.
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Hello! Olivia here. I hope you all are having a great summer! This month marks three years since I made a huge change in my life and decided to get cataract removal surgery in my right and only good eye. I've wanted to share my story for a while now and to be honest, I've had this post saved in my archives for two years but haven't had the courage to share with you until today.
I was born with a cataract in each of my eyes. What is a cataract? A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend's face. Which causes progressive nearsightedness, changes in the way you see color, problems driving at night, glare and double vision."
It's very rare for someone at a young age to have such a thing but unfortunately in my case, It's genetic on my dads side. I have aunts, uncles and even my little sister has had cataracts. Some have even become fully blind because of it.
When I was only 3 months, I got the left cataract removed but the right still remained. Growing up was extremely difficult. I couldn't really see in my left eye and was forced to wear contacts since as early as I can remember. Every single day was a struggle for me. I was clumsy, couldn't read the chalkboard and couldn't watch tv in the daylight due to the glare bouncing off. I'd have to use my hands as a shield from the windows to be able to see the television. It was something I dealt with and didn't talk about with others because I just wanted to be a normal kid. It effected my confidence and made me extremely insecure.
When I was in fourth grade, I woke up with my left eye blood shot red and that's really all I can remember. We rushed to Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park where they diagnosed me with Glaucoma and I've had it ever since. "Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye's optic nerve and gets worse over time. It's often linked to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life."
The reason I developed glaucoma because they removed my cataract at such a young age where my eye was still growing which caused complications in the process. I soon became legally blind and my eye became lazy. I was made fun of for them ever since. Being called lazy eye, cock eyed and who knows what else. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet but I've been taking 3 eyedrops twice a day since then to maintain the pressure.
It started to become more difficult where color looked faint and dull, driving at night became worse. I was more clumsy than normal and tv was getting harder to watch. I was doing hair at the time which became really hard and I started to realize it's something I couldn't do forever.
I always knew in the back of my mind that I'd have to have my other cataract removed which scared the shit out of me. One day, that thought became reality when my doctor at Northwestern mentioned surgery in the fall of 2015. I completely lost it and started thinking the worst thoughts. He knew I was upset so he said to come back in a month and we'll revisit the thought. The only thing I could think about in that four weeks was surgery. Should I risk it? What if I develop Glaucoma in my only good eye? What if it goes wrong?
When I came back I was ready to have an answer. He totally overlooked the whole conversation and was like "K, I'll see you in 4 months." Automatically, I was pissed. The only thing I could think about in that four weeks was surgery and preparing for an answer. I quickly realized that that specific doctor was my Glaucoma specialist. When I was transferred to Northwestern from Children's Memorial when I was only 15, my Glaucoma was worse than the Cataract so it seemed right that I saw a Glaucoma specialist... I guess?
I decided to try a different doctor to see what they'd recommend and she pretty much said "it's up to you when you want to have surgery." I'm sorry but I'm only 22 (at the time) I don't want to have to make this decision for myself. I want a DOCTOR to tell me what he thinks would be best for me.
I didn't go to the doctor for a while because I didn't want to waste my time or money. Months later, I started speaking with my dad and told him the situation. He recommended that when my sister goes to her doctor at Children's for her yearly checkup, we'd ask him to take a look at it and get his recommendation. He looked and automatically said "Yeah, I can barely see through this cataract. I'd get it it removed." That's ALL I wanted. He recommended me to the best doctor and I scheduled the surgery after speaking with him.
After countless months of anxiety and fear, I made the appointment and on July 20th, 2016, I had cataract surgery. It's an extremely quick procedure, only about 30 minutes to an hour. When I went into the surgical room, the doctors said I was their youngest patient. I had the surgery, rested for a bit and went home.
I had my post op the next morning where they took off my patch. In the waiting area, The nurse took it off and when I opened my eyes I started to cry of pure relief and joy. I've NEVER seen so clear, sharp and bright in my entire life. I looked at Chiko and all I could think is how thankful I am for him because without him countlessly saying "you're going to be able to see great, it's gonna be fine, stop stressing" I probably wouldn't of went through with it.
When I got home, everything looked so different, the flowers, trees, my cats fur. I noticed how much hair was all over my tub, GROSS! I've never noticed how many freckles I had. I can see street signs from far away. Even though I was able to see sharper, It's now more difficult to see close up and words are blurry.
The first day back to work was a struggle because I was used to doing things one way and had to completely adjust my life pretty much. I had several panic attacks but I pushed through it and eventually I got used to my new eye.
I now completely rely on glasses and can't see close or far without them. It frustrates me often because I have to wear "trifocal" or "progressive" lenses where you have to move your head in order to see certain distances. Sometimes I feel like a grandma reading but I know that what I'm dealing with now is MUCH better than what I was dealing with before.
Because of my conditions, I was bullied and told that I wasn't going to be able to do things like drive or do hair. I was insecure about my appearance and hid behind bangs up until I was a senior in high school. It only gave me more motivation to do all the things I was told I wouldn't be able to and prove all the people that doubted me wrong. I always tried to look past that and learn to work with that I had. It really just make me feel bad for the people who felt the need to vocalize my condition that I obviously had no control over.. Everyone has their own issues and insecurities and it's not our job to make it more known.
I learned that sometimes you have to set fear aside and take a chance. If I never took this chance, I would still be struggling and wouldn't be able to see all the things I can now. My eyes are my motivation to see the world and take care of myself and my body because at any given moment, we can loose it.
I'm thankful for my mom who was a single mom, working crazy hairdresser hours and sacrificed so much for me my whole life to make sure I had the best care and doctors. You da real MVP <3 And I'm thankful for my doctors and nurses at Children's Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Hospital.
Hey friends! It's been a while since I've done a blog post and I'm definitely making an effort to post more on here along with my YouTube channel. Things have been hectic for me lately as I've traveled to four different cities in the past month. If you follow me on Instagram (@vialiv) you've probably already saw . Stay tuned for new vlogs from my trip to NYC, London and LA!
I'm so excited to share that I've partnered with Sprout Living, a Chicago based vegan protein and superfood brand to share with you three of my favorite quick + easy smoothie bowl recipes using their protein powders. All of their products are Organic, Vegan, Kosher, Non-GMO and hypoallergenic. Each product is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are sourced 100% from Whole Foods with no additives.
I found Sprout Living when I visited my local market in Ukrainian Village called Amish & Healthy Foods and loved their branding and how clean their products are. I also love supporting local businesses when I can so I was so excited to find out they were from Chicago.
I didn't want to make these recipes overly complicated for anyone as I'm a fan of something thats quick, healthy and delicious. All the ingredients I've used are easily accessible and affordable. I wanted to make different smoothie bowls that had ingredients most of us have in our households already and ingredients that are versatile. ALL of these smoothie bowls could be easily turned into a smoothie. Lately, I've been really into chocolate smoothies so the Chocolate-Maca banana smoothie is my favorite at the moment and it's the perfect post-workout smoothie or meal replacement.
Hope you all enjoy!
What are some of your favorite smoothie recipes?
GREEN KINGDOM SMOOTHIE
PITAYA VANILLA SMOOTHIE
Instructions for all: Put liquid in blender first then add the rest of the ingredients and blend. Transfer to bowl and add toppings.
Hey friends! I hope you had a great week!
Two weeks ago from today, I met my 5 month old niece, Nola, for the FIRST time! I wasn't sure how i'd feel once I met her and see my little sister be a mother but let me tell you, it was the best feeling. Everyone said there's nothing like having nieces or nephews and I'm not sure how much I believed them until now.
When my mom and I arrived to my sisters house, Nola was sleeping. I purposely went in the room hoping she'd wake up and the moment I looked into her crib and saw her tiny, perfect body sleeping, I immediately balled my eyes out. Not even kidding! Suddenly I felt an uncontrollable amount of pure happiness and love for this baby that didn't even know who I was. She woke up (plan worked lol) and i held her for the first time. I felt a kind of connection to her that i've never felt before. I've held many babies in my life but none that ever felt in this way. I look at her and think that she is my sisters child. My sister who we grew up together, have the same birthday and have protected each other since day one. Now it's our turn to protect Nola.
I was curious as to if seeing her would give me "baby fever" but it didn't in the way that I immediately would want a baby. It really makes me want to be the best possible aunt to her before I ever have kids. It gets me excited to one day have that mother-daughter connection that they have and to have a family like theirs. I've never seen anything so beautiful as I did seeing my sister breastfeed her. My sister is giving this baby life and it's still so amazing to me. To watch JD be a great father and provide for their family and to see my mom be a first time grandma was so special.
Meeting Nola has made me want to be the best example I possibly can for her. Show her the meaning of hard work and take her as many places in this world that I possibly can. My sister and I have always talked about living by each other and raising our kids together one day. This only made me want that so much more. To be around for any and every moment in Nola's life. We don't have the biggest or closest family but we have our family and that's all I need.
I hope one day you read this and know how much I love you, Nola Jean
hey friends! my name is olivia aka Liv, a travel and wellness blogger originally from chicago but now reside in brooklyn! I enjoy traveling, cooking and hanging with my two cats. here I invite you to explore my interests Via Liv. Read more here.