Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dress up

I'm writing this in my ten minute break after taking one of my last biochem mini-tests and making dinner. It's officially been one week since I started studying for boards and it's, eh, going. I'm not overwhelmed yet, but give it a few more weeks with my score not improving. I'm fully anticipating it.

My schedule these few days literally consists of getting up at 7:30 am, making coffee and eating a breakfast cookie, and starting studying at 8:00 am with a pre-read of the relevant sections in First Aid (~2 hrs). Then taking a 30 question test in USMLE world (~2 hrs), which pretty much destroys any shred of confidence I built up in that subject. Then it's off for a run to let off that steam, followed by lunch and a shower. In the afternoon, it's more reading and more questions. Constantly reviewing why I got questions wrong, reinforcing topics that I got right. After dinner, it's time to redo some of the incorrect questions in World and then finish with "bugs and drugs," or reading the microbiology sections and going through pharmacology flashcards so we're cementing some of the more "high yield" material every night. I go to bed before 12. In the past seven days, I've been out of my apartment a grand total of twice, once for the fancy schmancy School of Medicine Gala my school puts on every year on Saturday night (aka an excuse to play dress up) and once to study at school because they were doing repairs in my apartment. I haven't seen anyone other than my roommate for the past three days. And it's going to get worse before it gets any better.

Right now, I'm doing ok. I think we've been brainwashed enough this year to know how important these next few weeks of preparation are for the Boards, and how important the Boards are for our future. I haven't felt a desire to take a day off yet, to get drunk yet, and I haven't cried yet -- good signs, I think. It's more of a begrudging acceptance of my fate for the next five weeks.

Rarely do I get the chance to really dress up, don a long gown, and go out on the town. I think this year marked the first year I actually wore long dresses (I always thought I was too short before)! These past couple weeks, we had both our end of 2nd year (Halfway There) formal and the aforementioned School of Medicine Gala.

 An upgrade from our usual PJ's and sweats

Yes, that is the same dress that I lent my friend on the left (from Asos). My gorgeous dress was courtesy of my sister (from Cache). Thanks J. 

 My lovely classmates! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lemon Tahini Kale Salad

Even though I eat healthy most of the time, like most people, I don't relish eating salads. Sure, they're refreshing now and again, but most of the time I eat them because I know they're good for me (my mom thinks salads aren't good for you though...typical crazy Asian mother), not for the taste. If I did that though, I'd be the size of Precious (based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire). When I'm done, rarely do I go, "Mmmhm, more salad!" Not this time.

I've made this salad a couple times now, but today I just couldn't get enough. I went back for seconds. And then thirds. Topped it with some red cabbage I had lying around. Good thing it's good for you! Made with kale, healthy fats, and zesty lemon, you can make this ahead of time and have it on hand for a couple days. Unlike tender greens like arugula, spinach or even romaine, kale is tougher and sturdier, so it won't wilt under dressing. Speaking of dressing, the best way to eat kale is to massage it. Yes, that's right. Kale is full of cellulose (indigestible plant fiber) and is much sturdier than other salad greens, so when you massage it, the fibers break down to make the leaves more tender. If you try to eat kale raw, it'll be bitter and might turn you off. You gotta massage it, people.

I used about a pound of kale to make 4 servings. Trust me, a pound will seem like a LOT, but once you massage it for a couple of minutes, it will wilt down to more manageable portions and you can just eat as much as you would for a normal salad. I brought this salad to a potluck once, and it was one of the first dishes to go! You can't say that for most other salads, can you?

Massaged Lemon-Tahini Kale Salad
-3 T tahini (find it in the Middle Eastern section of the grocery store or better yet, go to an ethnic supermarket. More options and much cheaper too)
-1 T peanut butter
-1 T olive oil
-1 tsp honey or more to taste
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1.5 T lemon juice

-1 lb of kale
-salad garnishes: tomatoes, chickpeas

1. Mix the dressing together until it is smooth and free of lumps. If your tahini is dry, add some more oil. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what it looks like because you'll be massaging it into the kale anyway.
2. Strip the stems from your kale, tear it to bit size pieces, wash, and spin dry. This step may take a while since you'll need much more kale than you think. It's easier to do in steps, e.g. take 1/4 of the kale at a time. Transfer kale to a large bowl.
3. Once you have a bunch of kale washed and dried, add some of the dressing and start working it in with your hands. Massage the kale until it starts to wilt and take on the dressing. Massage it in for at least 2 minutes to make sure all the leaves are covered.
4. Wash and dry some more kale, add it to the bowl. Add some more dressing and massage.
5. Repeat process until you've used up all your kale and dressing. By now your salad should look less like a mountainous monstrosity and more like a normal salad!
6. Top with chopped up tomatoes, chickpeas, and sesame seeds for garnish.