A Little Winter Cookbook

A Little Winter Cookbook

Inspring Recipes to Get Cooking Good Looking!

Some days, I LOVE to cook. But most days all I want is to do is order Seamless, relax, and pretend I live in a world where I never have to cook again.

I spent all of last weekend working with an event planner at a man's home which is currently on the market for $22 million. Um, wait WHAT?! He has butlers, maids, and probably has never HAD to make a single meal in his life if he didn't want to. Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford to live in that luxury I so often dream about.

In order to get myself to eat better and cook more, I thought why not find some inspiring recipes that are easy to make, rich in nutrients, and that will be fun to put together! So I'm challenging you (myself included) to cook one fun and healthy recipe a week until winter ends and see how it goes.

Without further ado, here's a few things at the top of my list to make this winter.

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Goat Cheese

This yummy risotto uses one of my favorite winter squashes and the best cheese. The dish is also vegetarian and gluten free, so it can be eaten by almost anyone! (Click on the photo for a link to this yummy dinner.)

Roasted Beetroot, Walnut, & Goat Cheese Salad

Can you tell I like goat cheese yet? Truthfully, I've already made this quite a few times. But to get myself to buy all the ingredients is still a challenge! Want to make it even better? Caramelize the walnuts. SUGAR IS EVERYTHING.

Orecchiette with Baked Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce

This is a little extra tastier than the classic pasta with tomato sauce. Using all fresh ingredients, I can't wait to make this! Besides... you can never really go wrong with pasta of any kind.

And thats it! Hope these recipes inspire you to GET COOKING!

Xx Madi

(That usually fashion writer who loves food and decided to cook instead of shop this week)

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:” Line Matters,

I want to start off by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can’t afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you’re just lazy and you “don’t feel like it”? Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you’re unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the US Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck.” stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:” line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can’t seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to ten people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!”

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the seventeen other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there’s a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 dollar bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of ten times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession - whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food, and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a forty dollar bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes - as if you’re better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you’ll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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7 Things I Learned After I lost 30 Pounds

In this day and age, there's a lot conflicting information about how to actually lose weight and keep it off. Here's what I learned when I lost 30 lbs.


Eating healthy and working out is a pretty hot topic today. Everybody talks about it in one form or another. Some people can't shut up about their juice cleanses, their yoga classes, or Crossfit. Others jokingly share articles about being allergic to exercise and how they'd rather eat pizza than be skinny. However, there are so many myths and clashing opinions about what it means to be healthy that it is hard for anybody to really know what to believe anymore. Is coconut oil bad for you? I have no idea at this point.

Growing up, both my parents were big believers in healthy eating and exercise. However, they did not force this upon me and my siblings. Instead, this lifestyle was mostly for them, and they enjoyed it. I kind of rebelled against this. In high school, I drank a Coke Zero or Diet Mountain Dew every morning. My dad would let me stop at the gas station on the way to school and buy myself donuts. While I worked at Kroger, I would eat big bags of candy during my lunch break. In college, it got even worse. Despite what your university might tell you, it can be pretty hard to find a variety of healthy options at the food courts. It's not impossible, but you might have to settle for grilled chicken and steamed broccoli five nights a week while your friends are munching on breadsticks and chicken tenders. Sophomore year, I met my boyfriend, and we would often go out to eat for dates like most couples do. Because of this, I gained even more weight.

At my heaviest, I was about 160 lbs. I am lucky that I carry weight pretty evenly, so it did not show as much as it might on other people. However, I still wasn't happy with the way I looked. I often started diets, sometimes on a weekly basis, only to give up within two days. I felt trapped in a cycle of dieting, binging, and starting all over again. Sometimes I would cry because I was scared that I was destined to spend the rest of my life like this. It was only a few months ago that I started eating healthy and working out. I've since lost about 30 lbs, and while I am still looking to lose more, I have learned a lot in my quest to live a healthier lifestyle. Here are some of the most important things I learned.

1. Eating healthy is not a punishment.

All the times I started a diet, only to cheat and then binge for days. I would cook foods I did not like. I often told myself that I just had to learn to like these foods, and then eventually I wouldn't want to eat unhealthy anymore. I ate a hardboiled egg and plain oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch, and baked chicken and broccoli for dinner. Of course, I hated it, because all those foods suck. Inevitably, I go crazy and order 12 nuggets, large fries, and an extra large lemonade from Chick-fil-a, and then I'd feel awful about myself and binge even more. It was only once I started cooking foods I actually liked that I stopped binging. I started by making myself bean and cheese burritos that I would freeze and eat throughout the week. My intention wasn't even to lose weight at that time, but it was just to save money. Then one day, I weighed myself and realized I lost 12 lbs. Now, I love eating healthy because I cook the foods I enjoy. I don't view it as a punishment, but I see it as a reward. I am rewarding myself not just by nourishing my body but by eating food that I enjoy.

2. You have to learn to cook.

In college especially, cooking is hard. You're often strapped for time between classes and work, and by the time you get out, the last thing you want to do is slave over the stove when you can just order gourmet mac and cheese off Doordash. But if you want to eat healthier, you need to learn how to cook. You cannot live off of boiled eggs and dry salad. I learned primarily by watching cooking videos from Buzzfeed's Tasty seriesTasty series. At first, I was just watching them for fun, but I actually learned a lot of useful cooking tips for them. Watching these videos of people preparing meals, and it took some of the anxiety out of cooking. I saw that most cooking is not nearly as hard as I had made it out to be, and I learned various techniques that have made me a much better cook today.

3. It's about consistency, not perfection.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they demand perfection of themselves. They decide to quit all junk food cold turkey, and naturally, they then crave it even more. This is not sustainable. Many of the fitness bloggers I follow practice what is referred to as "flexible eating," meaning they eat healthy most of the time, but every once in a while, they let themselves indulge. Very few people can completely cut unhealthy food out of their lives and be happy. Food like cookies, fried chicken, and mac and cheese are often an integral part of our childhoods. They are foods that our moms served us on rainy days, that we had on Thanksgiving, that we got with our friends in high school. For me, I could never completely cut out unhealthy food, because there are just too many amazing and creative foods out there for me to try. For example, I could never cut out tacos. Rather than eating them every day, I eat them as a treat. I go get them with my dad when he comes to visit, or when my boyfriend and I have a date. I just make sure that I am eating healthy the rest of the week.

4. It's okay to lose weight for looks.

I know some people might disagree with this, but I am going to say right now. it's okay to lose weight if you're not happy with the way you look. Body positivity is becoming more and more mainstream now which is great. However, body positivity, in my experience, was not helpful to me. I often received very conflicting messages about how I should feel about my body. I would eat unhealthy, complain, and then people would tell me I don't need to worry about my weight as long as I was happy. But I wasn't happy, and no matter how many times I tried to accept my weight, it just didn't work. I still cried when I tried on clothes in the dressing room and nothing fit. I still cried when my favorite romper no longer fit at the end of freshman year, and I just wasn't happy. As long as it is not the only reason for losing weight, it's okay to do it for your looks. If you are not happy with your body, it is okay to lose weight! You just have to make sure it is done in a healthy and sustainable way.

5. It really does help with mental health.

A lot of people also aren't going to like to hear this, but exercising and eating healthy really does help with your mental health. I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and OCD for a long time. When I was going through some of my hardest times, I would do nothing but lay in bed for hours, in the dark, scrolling through my phone until my eyes hurt, or I would just sleep. People would always tell me to get exercise, and that it'll make you feel better. I always scoffed at them. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and exercise.

Once I started exercising, I found my mental health improved greatly. Now I look forward to working out as a way to relieve stress. To make things even better, the feeling of accomplishment I get from completing a workout often leaves in a better mood for the rest of the day. Now, this is not to say eating healthy and exercise is a cure-all. For some people, especially those with serious disorders such as schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder, this will most definitely not "cure" them. If you suffer from any kind of mental illness, you should still seek out therapy and medication. However, even the simplest of exercises or healthy choices can help. Even if you just go for a 15-minute walk once a day, that is still an accomplishment. Healthy eating and exercise, paired with therapy and proper medication, can definitely improve mental health.

6. Other people's weight is none of your business.

When I started living healthy, I was always excited to share all the tips and tricks I've learned with other people. While there is nothing wrong with that, you have to be careful. I often hear stories of people who go to the gym only to be mocked because they're fat. I also hear stories of people being offered unsolicited advice about how to lose weight which often only ends up making them feel worse about their bodies. This is completely uncalled for. Obesity can often be the result of early childhood trauma. It can also be the result of living in an environment where you don't know when you will get your next meal or where you don't have access to healthy food. The point is, you never have any right to comment on or judge somebody's weight. What they choose to eat and whether or not they want to exercise is their choice and theirs alone. If somebody comes to you and asks for advice on how to eat healthy, of course, you can share tips with them then, but giving unsolicited advice, poking fun, or acting like somebody's weight is in any way your business is not okay.

7. It is a lifestyle, not a diet.

I believe that the biggest mistake people make when trying to lose weight is that they view it as a temporary thing. They go on crash diets that force them to cut out essential nutrients like carbs or healthy fats. They lose the weight then they start eating like they used to and gain all the weight back. Not only is this extremely detrimental to one's mental health, but it can actually hurt your metabolism, making you less able to burn off excess fat. If you want to lose weight, you have to view it as a commitment. Eating healthy and working out are not things you can do for a few months and then just give up once you've reached your goal. It is not easy, and there will always be ups and downs, but you have to learn to be flexible and kind to yourself.

If you gain back some of that weight, that's okay! You can lose it again. You just have to do it the healthy way. If you mess up and binge, that's okay! If you are having a bad day, or you're crunched for time, it's okay to skip a workout every once in a while or grab something from the drive-through. The point is, it is an overall lifestyle change. Personally, I found that once I made these changes, I did not want to stop. It's almost addictive, making healthy changes and seeing these results in your life. These are the tips that worked for me. All I hope is that they can work for others as well.

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