Hearty Tomato & Bean Soup

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You will need:

  • 3 bell peppers (colors of your choice)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 can of chick peas (reduced sodium)
  • 1 can of black beans (reduced sodium)
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Shredded or sprinkled cheese (optional)

Feeling bloated after Thanksgiving? Get yourself feeling healthy again with this delicious and healthy tomato and black bean soup. My Aunty Kathy is the inspiration for this soup. I made a twist on her soup that uses different vegetables—she makes it with cabbage, onions, and carrots. That’s the best thing about this soup. You can tailor it to your own preferences using different vegetables and protein choices, but keeping the diced tomatoes as the base of the soup. If you aren’t a fan of beans, you can add chicken or another lean meat. This could also be made into a chili, using ground meat.

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Start off by chopping up the bell peppers and onions. Toss them into a large pot, heat on high, and add in the can of diced tomatoes. Next, add in water to get the desired consistency of the soup. Keep in mind that the mixture will get more watery as it cooks, so add in a little less water than you think you should.

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Next, add in your favorite spices. My favorite spices for this soup are ground pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and turmeric. I love spicy food, so I add in a lot of spices. If you are not a spice-lover, you might want to just stick to ground pepper and garlic powder. However, I feel that the combination of these spices is what makes the soup so delicious and flavorful.

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Once the soup in the pot comes to a boil, turn the heat on medium/low and allow it to simmer. Now, you are going to prep the beans. Grab a strainer and rinse the beans separately. Rinsing not only cleans the beans, but also rinses off excess sodium. Sodium can cause a lot of bloating and is already found in most foods, so it is not necessary to add in any more. As you can see in the picture below, this recipe makes a whole big tub of soup that will last you the week. After a week of this soup, your Thanksgiving food-baby should be returning to normal—and might even leave your stomach flatter than before!

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Important note: don’t add the beans directly into the large pot of soup! Place them in separate containers because it will allow you to portion control. Beans are extremely healthy for you, but they must be portioned out. The correct portion of beans is typically 1/2 cup. Since I am using both black beans and garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), I use 1/4 cup of each bean. Add the portioned beans into a bowl with a serving of soup. For an extra bit of tastiness, add a small sprinkle of cheese!

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Bon Appétit!

 

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Comfy/Cute OOTD

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Photo credit: Mary Fortier

[Hat: Forever 21; Scarf: Marshalls; Leggings: Victoria’s Secret; Sweater: Marshalls; Boots: Marshalls; Bracelets: Alex & Ani; Ring: Kohl’s]

While some say beauty is pain, it doesn’t have to be. Comfort can be cute when styled right. An easy/cozy outfit typically consists of leggings and an oversized sweater—like the outfit I’m wearing. However, it is statement pieces that take the look to another level. The black-and-white brimmed hat top off my outfit with a chic factor that would be absent without the right piece. The other game-changing element of my outfit is my pair of black suede over-the-knee boots. While my dream pair of Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee boots are a bit out of my budget, I was able to seek out a similar style at Marshalls. Simarlarly, I was able to find this Rag-&-Bone-inspired hat at Forever 21. I consider these two pieces wardrobe essentials because the can easily and completely change an outfit.

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Let’s not forget about accessories! With its color corresponding with the hat and boots, this black scarf solidifies the outfit and makes it one cohesive look. Next, have some fun with jewelry. Throwing on some accessories can make it look like you tried—when you really didn’t put in that much effort! Over the years, I’ve received so many Alex & Ani bracelets as gifts, so I like to mix and match them. Sticking with silver, I added a ring that I purchased at Kohl’s on Black Friday. As for nails, I try to stick with season-appropriate colors. For fall and winter, I am loving this maroon color nail polish. Color can still look appropriate when it falls within seasonal color palettes or is a muted version of a summery color—like my muted lavender sweater. If you are not sure where to start, burgundy and olive are two essential fall and winter colors. It is important to remember that winter doesn’t have to be the death of color and the dictatorship of black. With this in mind, you should be able to create your very own comfy/cute OOTD for the cold winter months ahead.

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Out with November, in with December.

Spaghetti Squash Power Bowl

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large spaghetti squash (use about 1 cup)
  • 1 avocado (use half)
  • 1 portion of boneless, skinless, preservative free, and low-sodium chicken breast (4.8 oz)
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Cracked Peppercorn
  • Trader Joe’s Cilantro Salad Dressing (1 tbs.)

As fall is bringing cooler weather sooner than expected, we tend to crave heartier meals. This healthy meal is packed with lean protein to give you the energy you need to workout and go about your day. Spaghetti squash is great because once you cook it, it will provide you with a week’s worth of meals when kept in the fridge! You can also vary the recipes with spaghetti squash as the base so you don’t get sick of it, just like you would do with pasta. Spaghetti squash is a holy-grail substitute for pasta or rice because it is a vegetable. A vegetable will make you feel and look a lot less bloated than a processed carb such as pasta.

To cook the spaghetti squash, stick the whole spaghetti squash in the microwave for 14 minutes. Be careful when taking it out because it will be really hot! After you let it cool for a bit, cut the squash in half lengthwise using a large knife. Next, scoop out and dispose of the seeds and slimy parts. Now, you are ready to grab a fork and shred the inside of the squash. You will see that it comes out looking like spaghetti.

While the spaghetti squash is being heated up in the microwave, cook a lean and low-sodium chicken breast in a skillet and sauté mushrooms and bell peppers. I like to add cracked pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder as a light seasoning to the chicken and veggies.

Next, slice up half of an avacado and cut your cooked chicken breast into bite-sized strips. Lean chicken breast will give your body protein, keep your hunger curbed for longer, and will encourage the growth of muscle. Half of an avocado will provide you with the right amount of healthy fat.

The meal is finally coming together! Add the warm spaghetti squash, chicken, and veggies into a bowl and then top it with your sliced avocado and raw baby spinach. If you are a sauce or dressing person, try out this amazing creamy cilantro salad dressing from Trader Joe’s. It often works as a good substitute for pesto sauce and all you need is a little bit!

Noms. Enjoy!

Sun’s Out, Buns Out: what to bring in your beach bag

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (Bikini top & bottom: Victoria's Secret)

Photo credit: Mary Fortier
(Bikini top & bottom: Victoria’s Secret)

1. Sun Protection

The sun is out and buns are out, but while you are toasting those buns don’t forget about sunscreen. Don’t mess around with your skin. Yes, a deep tan looks great, but so does youthful skin. Minimize the skin’s aging process by wearing and reapplying at least spf 50. CeraVe makes a great oil-free sunscreen that is designed specifically for the face. Oil-free sunscreen is great for people with acne-prone skin and reduces shine. As for the body, go straight for spf 70 to avoid a sunburn all together (you will surprisingly still get tan!). A floppy beach hat can double as a glamorous accessory and protection form the sun’s rays.

Photo Credit: Mary Fortier (Hat: Marshall's, Bikini top & bottom: Victoria's Secret; Swim cover-up: Victoria's Secret; Sunglasses: Kohl's)

Photo Credit: Mary Fortier
(Hat: Marshall’s, Bikini top & bottom: Victoria’s Secret; Swim cover-up: Victoria’s Secret; Sunglasses: Kohl’s)

2. Mini-Makeup Kit

Aside from protection against the sun, I bring my trusty sunglasses & a hardshell carry case. It’s also handy to bring along a mini makeup emergency kit if you are going to be beaching it up all day. Things to keep inside your mini makeup bag are hair elastics, mini-brush, spf chapstick, facial powder, and deodorant. These essentials will be your life-line for the day and keep you from looking (and smelling) like a hot mess!

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (Bikini top & bottom: Victoria's Secret; Bag: Victoria's Secret)

Photo credit: Mary Fortier
(Bikini top & bottom: Victoria’s Secret)

3. Literature

What is going to the beach without a good read? Bring a thrilling page-turner or a stack of your favorite magazines to read while you stay hydrated with bottled water. Surprisingly, the library (yes, the place with all the books that no one really steps foot in anymore) maintains a collection of all different types of magazines. Before you hit the road to the beach, dare to enter your local library and check out some recent issues of Glamour & Vogue. (Shoutout to my girl, Amy Schumer, for being featured in Glamour’s August 2015 issue, for sharing hilarious & relatable situations, and for always being her unapologetic self).

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (Bikini top & bottom: Victoria's Secret; Sunglasses: Kohl's)

Photo credit: Mary Fortier
(Bikini top & bottom: Victoria’s Secret; Sunglasses: Kohl’s)

4. Confidence

Lastly, don’t forget to bring confidence and yo fine self.

Back To Basics

Photo credit: Mary Fortier ( T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: Five Below)

I have recently started loving Brandy Melville’s plethora of basic clothing pieces (especially since many are made out of natural cotton). As a college student with limited dorm closet space, such as myself, it is important to pick out basic pieces that can be easily mixed and matched. Containing a wardrobe with plain neutral colors, such as black and white, allows for the creation of many different outfit options. To add life to the outfit, seasonal colors can be added to the look. Right now, it is still August so I chose to add bright turquoise sandals and a colorful beaded bracelet to my otherwise black and white outfit.

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Shorts: Abercombie & Fitch; Sandals: Barney's New York; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: 5 Below)

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Shorts: Abercombie & Fitch; Sandals: Barney’s New York; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: Five Below)

These basic pieces, the white Brandy Melville t-shirt and black crochet shorts, can be transitioned into early fall. To fit this look for autumn, swap out the turquoise Italian leather sandals for a more neutral color such as tan or black. Next, add either a denim jacket or a fall-colored cardigan (such as burgundy or olive).

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (T-shirt:

Photo credit: Mary Fortier
(T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Shorts: Abercombie & Fitch; Sandals: Barney’s New York; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: Five Below)

While it is great to have convenient plain pieces that can be easily paired with one another, convenience can be boring. Do not exile prints and patterns from your closet. They can bring a fun and playful personality to an outfit. Keeping a few patterned pieces handy in your wardrobe allows for even more variety when paired with a basic. People, other than yourself, may not even realize that you are wearing a repeat piece if you re-style it into a creative new look.

Photo credit: Mary Fortier (T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: 5 Below)

Photo credit: Mary Fortier
(T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: Five Below)

Wondering how else the pieces in this look could be re-syled? Here are a few ideas for mixing, matching, and transitioning into pumpkin-spice season:

  • black shorts + striped crop top + turquoise sandals = summer
  • white t-shirt + patterned maxi skirt  + neutral sandals = summer/fall
  • black shorts + pullover sweater + neutral sandals = summer/fall
  • white t-shirt + jeans + cardigan + boots = fall
Photo credit: Mary Fortier (T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: 5 Below)

Photo credit: Mary Fortier
(T-shirt: Brandy Melville; Metal bracelets: Alex & Ani; Beaded bracelet: The Paper Store; Necklace: Five Below)

Straps, Silhouettes, & A Little Black Dress

Photo credit: Gina Chu (Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger)

Photo credit: Gina Chu
(Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger; Bracelets: Alex & Ani)

A LBD (little black dress) can never fail. It offers endless possibilities, doubling as casual and formal wear. I styled my LBD for a casual summer night with strappy gold sandals, a light green lace bandeau bra, and cross-body handbag. However, this James Perse could be dressed up with a pair of heels, swipe of lipstick, and a dazzling statement necklace.

Photo credit: Gina Chu (Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger; Bracelets: Alex & Ani)

One fashion trend carried over from fall 2014 that I have continued to love is hardware. Metal hardware brings forth a richness to any outfit. I like the metal hardware matching if there are many pieces that contain hardware. For example, gold buttons on a jacket paired with a gold watch can look more put together than gold buttons paired with a silver watch. For this look, I matched the gold metal hardware on my sandals to the hardware on my purse and a gold Alex & Ani bracelet. Matching hardware streamlines a look and provides an instant chic factor.

Photo credit: Gina Chu (Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger; Bracelets: Alex & Ani)

Photo credit: Gina Chu (Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger; Bracelets: Alex & Ani)

Do you ever have difficulty deciding which color metal to wear? I have found that silver works best with cool skin tones and gold compliments warm skin tones. I would also like to point out that there is an exception to this matching metal rule that I mentioned before! Different colored metals can be mixed and matched to provide interest and be the main statement of the outfit. It is important to not overdo chunky metals because it can be overpowering to one’s frame, so I like to stick to either one bold metal piece, or a few delicate metal pieces to maintain balance.  For a care-free night in the city with my LBD as my statement piece, I opted with minimal jewelry that wouldn’t steal the LBD’s show: two delicate bracelets (one gold & one silver).

Photo credit: Gina Chu (Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger; Bracelets: Alex & Ani)

Photo credit: Gina Chu (Dress: James Perse; Bandeau: Nordstrom Rack; Handbag: Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Tommy Hilfiger; Bracelets: Alex & Ani)

Breezy Summer Days (and a quick op ed on Abercrombie & Fitch)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg  (Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Sunglasses: Kohl's; Flip Flops: A&E; Necklace: Barney's New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Bracelet: Nordstrom)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg
(Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Sunglasses: Kohl’s; Flip Flops: A&E; Necklace: Barney’s New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom)

Beautiful summer days call for light and airy fabrics. It has been ages since I dare to enter the dark, loud, over-branded and intensely aroma-filled place that people call Abercrombie & Fitch. However, this maxi skirt caught my eye in the window display and it happened to be the one maxi skirt that was the perfect length for my 5’2” stature. I sense that Abercrombie is attempting to shift their brand away from sex and customer advertisement to something more subtle. This branding shift is still not yet achieved, nor am I a return Abercrombie & Fitch fanatic, but I still admire the laid back and beachy vibe that the company is inspired by.

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg  (Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Sunglasses: Kohl's; Necklace: Barney's New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg
(Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Sunglasses: Kohl’s; Necklace: Barney’s New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom)

Just like the effortless beauty of nature, I like to keep my style simple and casual. I combine classic pieces such as leather sandals or a denim jacket with a more trendy piece, such as a crop top or maxi skirt. I keep my makeup natural, using a tinted moisturizer with SPF to take care of my skin in the sun. A summer hat adds extra protection against the rays as well, all while acting as a cute accessory. I often find that it is hats that can pull an outfit together!

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg  (Crop top: PacSun; Necklace: Barney's New York; Ring: Market in London)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg
(Crop top: PacSun; Necklace: Barney’s New York; Ring: Market in London)

(Denim jacket: A&E; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Bracelet: Nordstrom)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg (Denim jacket: A&E; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Bracelet: Nordstrom)

Taking more inspiration from nature, I channeled the simplistic beauty of the beach into my jewelry choices. This Alex & Ani bracelet features a pearl and shell, while my skirt’s pattern mimics the look of the ocean floor. On really hot summer days, a chunky statement necklace can feel heavy so I opt for a light minimalist look.

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg  (Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Denim jacket: A&E; Sunglasses: Kohl's; Necklace: Barney's New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Flip flops: A&E)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg
(Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Denim jacket: A&E; Sunglasses: Kohl’s; Necklace: Barney’s New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Flip flops: A&E)

A classic light wash denim jacket is great for breezy summer days, providing a light layer between you and the wind. To me, summer is about enjoying nature. I like natural fabrics such as cotton and leather because they allow my skin to breathe and keep cool. During this time of the year, I try to stop myself from buying fabrics such as polyester. (Side note: why is it so hard to find cotton clothing?)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg (Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Denim jacket: A&E; Sunglasses: Kohl’s; Necklace: Barney’s New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Flip flops: A&E)

(Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Sunglasses: Kohl's; Necklace: Barney's New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Flip flops: A&E)

Photo credit: Sarah von Oldenburg (Hat: Target; Crop top: PacSun; Sunglasses: Kohl’s; Necklace: Barney’s New York; Bracelet: Alex & Ani; Ring: Market in London; Bracelet: Nordstrom; Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch; Flip flops: A&E)

Where do you find your inspiration for summer outfit ideas? Also, if you know any cute stores that carry cotton clothing, please comment! Enjoy the beautiful weather 🙂