Monday, November 18, 2013

New Hair Favorites!

    Intern year certainly has not been good for my looks! I have so little energy that I try to get by doing the LEAST amount possible to look as decent as I can. When I say "decent,"I mean that I am trying desperately to look more like a minor collision and less like the massive train wreck I have felt like these past few months.
      Anyway, I have, thankfully, found a few new beauty products that have helped me out a bit, and since I, too, am always looking for the best products that will help me be as LAZY as possible with my routine, I thought that I would share them with you. First, for the past few years I have been getting keratin treatments on my hair. What can be confusing to many ABOUT these treatments, however, is that they offer different types of keratin treatments for different types of hair. For example, you can get the Brazilian Keratin Treatment, which will make your hair stick straight and frizz free, or something called a "smooth-out," which simply takes away the extra frizz at the top (my favorite). Different salons have different names for the different treatments, but definitely ASK- they are not all the same. I highly recommend the smooth-out (a lesser degree treatment where they mist the keratin onto your hair versus the straightening where they drench your hair and iron it in) for fuss-free hair. Unfortunately, I have not had the time to get one in MONTHS, so my hair has been frizzier and harder to style than usual.

Here are some of my new favorites:

1.) Bastiste Dry Shampoo: A VERY old brand, but in my opinion a very good one. I have tried out a LOT of different dry shampoos, cheap, expensive, and in between, and this one continues to be my favorite. Some of the others I have tried have left residue on my hair, have made it appear wet, or just haven't absorbed oil as well. Bastiste gives lots of good volume and really saves me 1-2 days in between washing my hair. Before this discovery, I used to wash my hair every single day, which is currently very inconvenient for me, since I then have to dry and style it. Drying and styling is always a big production (at least for me), not to mention very damaging. 




2.) Alterna Caviar CC Creme: This is the Do it ALL leave in conditioner for your hair. It moisturizes, makes hair smooth and soft, tames frizz, heat protects, and also adds shine. I think there are 10 benefits listed on the bottle, but just these few are enough for me. It really has made a difference in my hair, especially since I haven't had time to get the keratin treatment lately.




3.) Shower cap from Dry Divas: So cute and completely protects my hair on the days I am not washing it. I never used one before this year, and the back of my hair would always wind up wet and frizzy on the days I didn't wash it. Check out: Dry Divas for more info.




4.) Headbands, hair accessories etc: On the days between washings, I always wear a cute hair clip or headband to make my hair look more presentable. I was actually thinking of doing a post on where I purchase my favorites because people always ask me where I buy them. For now, some of my favorite sites include: Forever 21 Hair AccessoriesNordstrom Hair AccessoriesShopbop Hair AccessoriesJennifer Behr Hair Accessories.




Hope this helped!!!! I would love to hear your secrets as well....so please share. Xoxo.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The WRONG side of the OR

       I was able to go to the operating room for a case this week. You may think that that would be a usual occurrence for me since I AM a surgery resident, but it is most certainly not. I can honestly count the times I have been to the OR this year on one hand. Granted, I have rotated through trauma (no scheduled surgeries) and SICU (no surgeries at ALL) for 2/4 months I have completed so far, but nevertheless, I definitely feel deprived of OR time.
      What do I do all day as a surgery resident then? I take care of the patients on the floor, I write orders for medications, round with the attendings, round with social work to discuss patient's discharge plans, call consults, and go to clinic. Plus, I answer the hundreds of pages I receive all day about minutiae. Fun Stuff. Aren't you jealous?
      Anyway, when I got to the OR for my case (a foot debridement), I instinctively went over to the anesthesia side of the room and started putting the monitors on the patient. Until the attending saw me and said "weren't you planning to scrub in?"
      "Oh yeah, I am." I forgot. I play for the other team this year.....and this what it feels like for me on the other side:


I miss anesthesia. How many more months until intern year is over?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This is a Hospital, NOT a Hotel

      I had no idea until I started my intern year, that people are very resistant to leaving the hospital. At least the people that reside in this borough of NYC. It makes little sense to me really, I mean, who wants to be in a hospital?  80% of my patients apparently. If I were a patient and the doctor told me that I could leave, I would jump for joy. However, it is usually a fight to get my patients to leave when we are done caring for them medically. Technically, we need to give them 24 hours notice that they are being discharged, and then they HAVE to leave, but we never do that here. The thing that disturbs me the most, is that the social workers, doctors, nurses, and everyone else taking care of the patients here just allow them to stay. As if this were a hotel. Which it kind of is to them. They are waited on hand and foot, get their meals brought to them in bed, get great pain medications, sleep aids if they need them, and individualized attention that this population of people likely do not get at home. Here is MY problem though: This is a city hospital, and the bill is paid for by you and I and all of the other taxpayers contributing to both Medicare and Medicaid. PLUS staying in the hospital makes patients sicker (they pick up infections, pneumonia, etc. from just sitting here) which leads to further problems in general. I have had patients refuse to leave because they claim they have no ride home. There are always buses and cabs (at least in my world). "How much does a cab cost?" they have asked before stating "What is the big deal if I stay another night here?" Well, I want to tell them (but I don't), a cab is about $25 dollars, and another night here is at least $1,000 of the tax payers money. So really, they mean what is another night to them. Nothing. It is all of the people collectively that use the hospital as if it were a hotel that is taking a big toll on our healthcare system. If we took all of the money that is thrown in the garbage by allowing people to stay in the hospital when they need no further medical treatment, it would allow us to channel it towards a lot of other people who need healthcare but do not get it.

P.S: I have had the son of a patient ask if we could keep his mother here for the week while his family went on vacation. Note to all: if the hospital is not a hotel, it is certainly not a kennel.

P.P.S: I have also had "social admits," for example, a man who was admitted because his wife broke her hip (and was a patient on the ortho service), even though there was nothing wrong with him. I was told that because he was dependent on his wife for his activities of daily living, there was apparently no other option.

P.P.P.S: Last week, I had a patient who was sneaking candy so her finger stick glucose values would shoot up and we would not be able to discharge her.

P.P.P.P.S:  I have been told that by the end of the year I will be so jaded by all of these social issues that I will not feel the need to comment or worry about them anymore. I guess we will see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Patient Encounter

Vascular Surgery Clinic: I have already seen and examined the patient, presented to the attending, and we are going back into the exam room to speak to the patient together. The patient is 16 years old, so her mother is with her. The patient is status post embolectomy (an embolus was removed from her thigh area) in the catheterization lab.

Attending: " I think some compression stockings would be good for your daughter as her thigh is still very swollen."
Patient's Mother: "Medicaid won't pay for them."
Attending: "Well, you could pay for them."
Patient's mother: "They are very expensive!"
Attending (looking at the take-out bag of donuts and Starbucks coffee the mother is drinking): "They are not that expensive, and if you saved a little every day, you could buy them. Do you think your daughter's leg is worth it? I think your daughter's leg is worth it, and if you stopped spending your money on things like donuts, you could save up the money in a few days. You may also lose a little weight, so it would be healthier for you too."
Patient's mother: "What are you saying?"
Attending: "I am saying that you are carrying a lot of extra weight and if you stop eating donuts, you could lose some and save the money you need."
Patient's mother: "I don't need you to stand here and tell me that- who do you think you are? Get out of this room."

We step outside...........
Attending: "People have this great sense of entitlement and do not want to pay for anything. I have had patients ask me for gauze to change their dressings because they do not want to pay for them, but they have enough money to buy themselves cigarettes to CAUSE these wounds. And they think it's other people's responsibility to pay for their actions. Now I understand that this lady was upset, but she has to face the facts. Donuts are not as important as saving her child's leg, and Medicaid does not OWE them compression stockings. They already paid for her embolectomy and doctor's visits."

Now.............I completely agree with the attending, I am just surprised he verbalized his thoughts to the patient. I also find it surprising that a physician who feels this way has worked so many years at this particular city hospital because the majority of the patients there have the same beliefs as this particular patient's mother. I will not even get into a Medicare/Medicaid/Obamacare discussion right now. Not enough energy....I am on night float.............this is what I need:


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pumpkin Crazy

      Happy October! My month in the SICU is finally over (but I have one more rotation there in June because anesthesia interns are required to do not one, but TWO months in the ICU during their first year of residency), and I am starting nights for the general surgery service at my program's city hospital tonight. I should be sleeping right now, but it is REALLY hard to transition from working from days to working at night (I am always so tired after that first night because I never get enough sleep the day before). From what i've heard from the other interns, this is going to be another really tough month. BUT if I can make it through, my next few rotations are rumored to be more laid back than the ones I have been on so far. RUMOR being the key word. It was also strongly emphasized to me that "laid back," means more relaxed within the context of a surgery intern year. Very different than the real world's definition of relaxed. Maybe it means I will be able to make it home before 8pm one day. Let's hope I can make it.
      Anyway, because it is October, one of my favorite fall months, I thought I would share some of my new festive fall food finds! Trader Joe's (aka the best grocery store ever) has really gone pumpkin crazy, and I have bought practically every pumpkin item they sell. Pumpkin is not only festive and delicious, but it is also a "superfood," extremely low calorie, and packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, beta carotene, and fiber. One cup of pumpkin has only 80 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 7 grams of fiber!

Some healthy, delicious finds.........

1.) Canned Pumpkin: One of my favorite low calorie side dishes is: Half a cup of canned pumpkin warmed on the stove with cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup (only 60 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber).


2.) Pumpkin cereal and granola bars: The cereal bars have 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fiber, and the granola bars have 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.


3.) Pumpkin Non-fat Greek Yogurt: 8 oz has 190 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 18 grams of protein to keep you full!


4.) Pumpkin Cream Cheese and Pumpkin Butter: The cream cheese has 70 calories and 5 grams of ft for 2 TBS, and the pumpkin butter has 40 calories and 0 grams of fat for one TBS.



5.) Not pumpkin but still FALL festive and delicious (so I had to share): Apple slices with low-fat caramel dip: The low-fat caramel dip has 120 calories for 2 TBS, and the apples have 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber for 1.5 cups.




Monday, September 30, 2013

"Doctor"

I don't know about the other interns out there, but since starting my residency in July, I have referred to myself as doctor a grand total of one time. That one time, by the way, was only because I was signing a death certificate (quite the process- requiring ME to get fingerprinted), and the medical examiner asked me directly who he was speaking with. I am speaking with Dr......?" he asked. Usually, in the hospital, we all return pages as "trauma intern," or "general surgery intern," basically whatever service we happen to be on at the moment. The nurses call me Amanda on the floor for the most part. The few times they have referred to me as doctor (and I promise you I am not being paranoid), has been with a mocking tone. Like "patient is post op day one and in rapid a fib, what would you like to do- DOCTOR?" Aka "I know what to do in this situation and you should too instead of looking at me like a lost puppy." I can't really blame them though, some of them have been at this hospital for 30+ years, and every July they are forced to interact with a new group of inexperienced, clueless interns (who do not know even a fraction of what they do), who place orders and make decisions for their patients. I guess if I were them, I would mock the term "doctor" too.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cronut Update

 


      Crumbs Bakery (now nationwide, very well-known in nyc, and most importantly easily accessible), famous for their flavored cupcakes (cookies and cream, cookie dough, etc.) has taken the plunge and made a copy cronut. I was very excited to hear this, because there is a Crumbs virtually down the block from my apartment, so I immediately had to buy both of the available flavors to test out. Just for the record, they are calling them "Crumbnuts," and not "Copy-Cronuts." They have one with bavarian cream, and one with powdered sugar on top. They are only $2.95, compared to the $5.00 price at The Dominique Ansel Bakery.
      Unfortunately, and very disappointingly I might add, the "Crumbnuts" were not even a quarter as good as the original cronuts. There was no flakiness, really no distinction from a regular donut in my opinion. They were also a little too doughy for my taste, especially since I have been exposed to the real cronut. Don't get me wrong, I ate them both, as regular donuts are still delicious, but it wasn't really very different than a Dunkin Donut. Maybe if I hadn't been so privileged and was unable to experience the original cronut in the first place (thanks again Matt!), my opinion would be different. So, in conclusion, there is a reason that the original cronut is such a coveted pastry, it is amazingly delicious, and clearly hard to replicate.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

SICU and Fall Favorites

      I am one week into my SICU rotation. The hours are tough- I mean much longer than trauma and minimally invasive surgery, and the atmosphere is intense (which is understandable) all day, every single day. I am literally counting down the days until it is over (and yes, as a future anesthesia resident, I should technically enjoy working with patients on ventilators who are critically ill, but what can I say......it is just not my cup of tea). It makes me kind of sad to be there all day. Anyway, in an effort to cheer myself up since I am off today, I thought I would share some of my favorite things about fall since it is now September.


1.) Starbuck's Carmel Apple Spice drink: This is a new discovery. I have been drinking this a few times a week now (not low in the calorie department, but worth the splurge) and it is so delicious. It tastes like fall in your mouth. I order a tall and skip the whip, but I highly suggest you try it. If you feel guilty, or don't want to splurge, here is a recipe for a much lower calorie version: Lower Calorie Carmel Apple Spice Recipe.

2.) Dunkin Donuts' pumpkin donut: Clearly I like to splurge in the fall, and pumpkin muffins are back. They are so delicious and also remind me of fall, crisp air, and the holidays around the corner. If you want to bake your own low calorie pumpkin muffins (still really good), you can use this recipe: 85 Calorie Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins.

3.) Candy Corn!!!! 

4.) Beautiful fall scarves: Etsy is my new favorite place to buy unique, colorful handmade scarves (especially since I a). can't knit myself and b). do not have the time to learn how knit right now). A few of my favorite Etsy shops to buy them: Cherished VintageSwak CoutureFairytale 13.

5.) Apple picking: For the past 4 years, my best friend from med school and I have gone apple/pumpkin picking at a great farm up in Westchester called Wilkens Farm. They have tons of activities, and our favorite part is obviously the bake shop they have there. Every year I have hoarded a few dozen apple cider donuts which I can only describe as a non-drug form of ecstasy. I eat many and freeze the rest to enjoy for the next 1-2 months. They also have apple butter, pumpkin butter, pies, tractor rides, and more. We always have the best time, but since we are both residents now, we are trying to find a day in our schedules so that we can go this year. I will be devastated if we can't coordinate our days off to make the trip. Anyway, check out there website here: Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm. Definitely worth a trip out of the city....especially because there is gorgeous scenery and changing leaves to see on the trip up there.








6.) The Start of Football Season: Ok, this is actually one of Matt's favorite things about fall, but I would like it to be noted that I have gone with him to games for the past few years as a supportive wife. I even root for his team, the Redskins (he is a DC boy), even though I am a New-Yorker.

7.) Halloween Decorations: How cute are these pumpkins that were displayed in the children's hospital I rotated at last year. I just had to take a picture. Note: Bert is a spaghetti squash! I am SO going to make homemade decorations like that when I have kids/more time to do anything.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Minimally Invasive Surgery

      For the past month, I have been the intern on minimally invasive surgery.The surgeries that are done on the service are mostly bariatric surgeries, which include both gastric bypass aka the Roux-en-Y and the gastric sleeve. In order to qualify for bariatric surgery, a person's BMI must exceed 40 OR be over 35 with associated co-morbidities (health problems related to the obesity, which can include anything from diabetes to hypertension to sleep apnea, and so on). The patient is referred to the surgeons at this particular hospital by their primary care physicians, and they are required to attend an information session about the surgeries and the lifestyle changes the surgeries require before they even meet with the surgeon.
      Once the patient meets with the surgeon and the surgeon determines that they are a good candidate for bariatric surgery, the patient must decide what kind of bariatric surgery they desire. A majority of patients choose either the Roux- en- Y or the gastric sleeve, and there are differences between the two (the gastric band is hardly used anymore at this hospital because the weight loss is not as effective, and there are a lot of complications associated with it). There are two mechanisms by which people lose weight after bariatric surgery, restriction and malabsorption. The gastric bypass incorporates both of these components while the gastric sleeve and the gastric band incorporate only the restrictive component for weight loss.
      Restrictive procedures limit caloric intake by reducing the stomach's resovoir capacity. Malabsorptive procedures decrease the effectiveness of nutrient absorption by shortening the length of the functional small intestine. Although malabsorptive procedures cause profound weight loss, they also frequently cause protein deficiencies and vitamin malabsorption. The goal of bariatric surgery in general, is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with obesity, and improve organ function.
      Both the gastric sleeve and the Roux-en-Y can be done laparoscopically (or as a minimally invasive technique, which means reduced blood loss, lower incidence of incisional hernia, lower incidence of wound infection, faster recovery, and a shorter hospital stay ). In layman's terms, a Roux-en-Y entails decreasing the size of the stomach, and then dividing (the Y part) and reconnecting one part of the small intestine to the new smaller stomach and the other to an area closer to the area where the bigger leftover part of the stomach, pancreas, and liver drain. The small stomach that is left over can only hold about an ounce of food (eventually it stretches to hold a cup) and this causes early feelings of fullness and satiety. Additionally, less calories are consumed because food bypasses most of the stomach and the upper small intestine. This also causes improved metabolism by changing the release of different hormones that influence fullness and digestion.
      The gastric sleeve is formed by removing part of the stomach and re-shaping the remaining portion into a banana shape.This prevents the stomach from being able to stretch and eliminates most of the area where ghrelin (the hormone that causes hunger) resides. While the gastric sleeve is considered a safer operation than the gastric bypass because it is only restrictive as opposed to both restrictive and malabsorptive, it is also an irreversible procedure as opposed to a gastric bypass, which can be reversed if necessary.
      The big moral of the story is that obesity is a huge problem in our country and America spends around $100 billion dollars annually to treat it and its associated co-morbidities. While both of these procedures are done frequently, they are not operations that should be taken lightly, especially because there are many potential complications associated with them. Complications can occur for no reason, but some depend on how complaint the patient is with the pre-op and post-op protocols. In the hospital that I work in, the patient is required to meet with a nutritionist (for up to 6 months depending on the patient's insurance), get medical clearance from an internist, undergo a psychiatry clearance, attend 2 support groups at minimum, +/- other necessary hoops they must jump through in order to even be considered for the procedure. They must follow a high protein diet in order to shrink their liver pre-operatively (because many of them have fatty livers that will get in the surgeon's way in the OR), and are on a clear liquid diet for at least 2 weeks post-operatively before moving on to purees for an unset amount of time. Eventually, they will be able to eat real food, but only a few spoonfuls at a time.
     I think you would agree that given all of this information on bariatric surgery, I would be a little shocked by the following patient encounter that occurred last week:  I walk into one of my patient's rooms (a patient who had gastric bypass surgery the day before) just in time to see her taking a big bite of a Burger King whopper and then reaching for a milkshake to wash it down with.

            Me: "What is going on here? What are you doing? How did you get that?"
           Patient: "My boyfriend brought it for me."
           Me: "But why are you eating, you know you can't eat, you are supposed to be on clear liquids for 2 weeks."
           Patient (shrugging): "I know, but I got hungry."

      And this is what is wrong with society everybody. People believe they can have a drastic surgery and then resort right back to their old habits. Personally, if I were so concerned about my weight and obesity that I was going to have surgery to combat it (and have Medicaid pay for it I might add), I would at least follow the diet that goes along with it for the first DAY after surgery. But that is just me. I think I am becoming jaded.........especially because of the conversation I had shortly after that incident with my attending."

      Me: "Can you believe it? I just can't believe she would do this, I mean she was cleared by psych, she went to the education sessions and was deemed fit for the surgery. Clearly she wasn't fit."
     Attending (who is not half as shocked as I am): "I guess you just missed the girl who had Chinese food delivered to the hospital for herself last month and then complained she was too full to eat the whole thing."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Murray's Cheese Bar


       Last weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Murray's Cheese Bar down in the village. Clearly, I love cheese. You kind of have to to go to this place. For those of you who are not familiar, Murray's has been a staple of Greenwich Village since 1940. Not only does Murray's offer the best variety of specialty cheeses in Manhattan, it also offers other unique foods like honeycomb candy, nuts, chocolates, and more. The shop also has multiple classes that it offers like "The Harmony of Beer and Cheese," "Cheese 101," and "Mozzarella Making," to name a few. They also have clubs such as the Cheese of the Month Club, The Meat of the month club etc, as well as a Cheez-Email you can sign up for.

      The Cheese Bar was opened in 2012, right next door to the shop, and offers only what I can describe as a very unique variety of cheeses or cheese related dishes for brunch, lunch, and dinner. They even offer a "flight of cheese," instead of a "flight of wine." We went for dinner, and as an appetizer we ordered the Buffalo Cheese Curds. My eyes immediately focused on the description as soon as I saw the menu, but the people I was with thought that they sounded weird. I am so happy I went with my gut though, because they were amazing. They are only what I can describe as the love child of a buffalo wing and mozzarella. They even came with the celery and blue cheese dressing to dip. We also ordered the Queso Fundido which as they describe on the menu is " Mexico's answer to fondue," aka three types of goat cheeses melted with chorizo, tomato, jalapeƱo, and tortilla chips. Delicious. I made sure we scraped up every last drop. That is how good it was.

      The grand finale, otherwise known as the main course, was grilled cheese with bacon and tomato soup. On the menu it is called "The Melt." I do not know what was in that grilled cheese, because they do not say what kind of cheese they used on the menu, but it was perhaps the most delicious grilled cheese I have ever experienced, and not just because I typically make myself "diet" grilled cheeses with light bread and fat free cheese at home. The cheese was perfectly melted, the bread thick, and the bacon crisp. The only part of the meal I didn't love, was the tomato soup. The soup wasn't bad, but it was nothing to rave about. We did not have any room left for the cheesy desserts offered, which was sad, but the one I had my eye on was the grilled bread cheese with dulce de lechwe and rosemary. Oh we'll, there is always next time.

      In conclusion, I am happy that there is a restaurant in NYC that understands the importance of cheese in the way that I do. So, if you want a place that validates your love for cheese, and provides a cute, cozy atmosphere, I definitely recommend you check it out. Just make sure to exercise and stick to a low-fat diet for at least a week after to help your arteries recover.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Cronut

   
cronut

      Have you heard about the cronut? It is a combination of two of the greatest baked goods on the planet, a donut and a croissant. Chef Dominique Ansel, of the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho strongly believed that these two unbelievable baked goods would be even more unbelievable if their genes were crossed and they had a baby together. That- or he didn't have room in his stomach for both (wimp). He was right though........some things are better together!
       The catch (obviously, there has to be a catch) is that the bakery only makes about 300 cronuts a day. People stand in line for HOURS to get these exclusive treats, and if you do manage to get to the front of the line, they will only let you buy 2 max. That is a big IF by the way.
         I originally read about the cronut craze in the New York Times, and then listened to Kelly Ripa talk about them on Kelly and Michael (back when I had time to watch tv.....I miss it so much).  They definitely intrigued me, but not enough to stand on a line for 3 hours. I figured that I would try one when the craze died down and/or other places started making copy-cat versions.
      Last week, however, someone posted an article on facebook about Dunkin Donuts releasing a copy cronut. I immediately sent the article to Matt, telling him that finally, finally our day had come. Unfortunately, Matt had to crush my excitement when he pointed out that I had become overly excited too fast, and had neglected to read the entirety of the article. As it turns out (which I would have known if I had continued reading), Dunkin Donuts is releasing a version of the cronut, HOWEVER, they are only releasing it in Seoul, South Korea and the Philippines. So sad :(
      Anyway, toward the end of the week, I was sulking about working at the hospital over the weekend, so Matt tried to cheer me up by telling me that he would get me any special treat that I wanted. Half-joking, half-testing the truthfulness of his statement I said "you can stand on line in Soho and get me a cronut." All I wanted him to say was "I would be happy to," and I would have said "I am only kidding, I would never make you do that." Matt, however, told me that I was crazy and that no baked good was worth waiting 3 hours in line for." That was not the answer I wanted to hear, and I proceeded to guilt trip him until he agreed to do it. Then of course I told him not to be silly, that I would never actually make him stand on that line for hours. Clearly, I drive him crazy.
      Matt (in his quest for husband of the year), however, did get up at 7am on Sunday and wait in line for 3 hours to get me a cronut. Some of my guilt was absolved by the fact that he was able to purchase two of them, so he was also able to enjoy one as well. Even if he could only get one, I would have shared mine with him (in case you were wondering). Anyway, the cronut was even better than I ever could have dreamed, but it is very hard to describe. The outside is like a donut, fried with hard frosting on top, the inside flaky and delicious like a croissant with creme filling.
   

      Some interesting things to note, are one, the bakery puts out only 1 flavor of cronuts each month. Last month was chocolate blueberry, and this month was coconut. While I like coconut, I was grateful that the coconut creme in the middle was very subtle and not overwhelming. In fact, if I could alter the cronut in any way, I would get rid of the creme altogether as the inside is so flaky and delicious on its own. The creme almost takes away from that, which is not what you want when you have waited on line for three hours for a baked good. 
      Two, there is a black market for the cronut. Matt said there was a group of people who were at the front of the line, bought two donuts each, and then tried to sell them for $30 outside of the bakery. Craziness! What is even crazier is that people actually bought them for $30.
      Three, if you know in advance that you want to try a cronut and do not want to wait in line, you can pre-order them 1 month in advance. To do that you must call the bakery at 2122192773 on Monday mornings only. You can also call and place a large order (which gets you around the two per person limit) by emailing them at info@Dominiqueansel.com and specify the preferred date/time you would like the cronuts, the number of cronuts, and your phone number. Large orders are done on a first come first basis. While the cronut was absolutely delicious, I would recommend obtaining one by pre order or large order, because as Matt said originally "no baked good is worth waiting three hours in line for." Sorry Matt, you still get husband of the year though, and isn't that what counts the most?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Post-Traumatic Stress

      I am finally done with my trauma surgery rotation. To put it mildly it was quite.........traumatic. Not only did I start on (what I am told is) the hardest rotation, I also started on nights. 6pm-7am technically, but there were days that I did not leave until 9:30-10 am. Additionally, I had zero hand-holding or guidance. It was strictly a "figure it out for yourself because all of the senior residents are busy" situation. More about that later. I am super tired right now, so I will delve into the specifics of the rotation in a later post, however, here are a few fun facts/helpful hints that I picked up during my trauma month.........

1.) Your list (a sheet/many sheets of paper with the names of all of the patients on your service, their medical record number, their injuries, their surgeries, their medications, plus the plan for each patient that you write in during rounds every morning) is your lifeline.
2.) If you lose your list they should definitely call medicine, because you are likely going to have a heart attack. THEN, they should call a level I trauma, because your chief will definitely kill you when you ask him/her to repeat everything discussed during rounds.
3.) A highlighter and a red pen (or in my case, red, blue, and black) are very helpful for organizing your list.
4.) Gun shot wounds are often only a level 2 trauma (unless they are to the chest).
5.) Riding a bike is very dangerous.
6.) So is riding a motorcycle.
7.) Please and thank you go a long way.
8.) Please and thank you do not necessarily make anyone (especially the ancillary staff) do their jobs in a city hospital.
9.) Everyone tries (hard!) to avoid doing their jobs in a city hospital.
10.) If you use phrases like "my attending wants this test," "it is urgent," or "this is the only thing keeping this patient in the hospital," there is a small but significant increase in the chance that the test/task you want done will actually get done.
11.) Orthopedists do not like to take care of their own patients- they will always try to transfer the patient to another service (like trauma!).
12.) Patients can actually refuse to leave the hospital when they are discharged......for 24 hours.........before the police come and take them out in handcuffs.
13.) MRI machines are not very big.
14.) If a patient is too large to fit in the MRI machine and desperately needs an MRI, they send them to the zoo to get it (I am serious).

      As I said before, I will definitely talk more about my experiences on trauma in a future post, but right now I am just enjoying that fact that when I got paged on my way out of the hospital tonight, about an hour later than I was supposed to leave, about a patient that was assaulted with golf clubs, knives, and a baseball bat, I told them to page the night resident. And I will NEVER have to see that patient. EVER........because I am done with trauma!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Trauma Surgery

      I must keep repeating that to myself because otherwise I will keep thinking that it is a joke. I am starting my intern year on trauma surgery. At the city hospital that the residents in my program rotate at.  In an area of NYC where people apparently love to shoot and stab each other in the month of July. Why July you ask? Don't worry, I asked that very question today. The answer is actually very simple. People shoot each other more in July because of the good weather. Personally, I can think of so many other things to do in good weather. Trauma surgery. They gave the anesthesia prelim trauma surgery to start? Does that seem reasonable to you? Am I being crazy? I wish I could review what I know for this rotation, but I never rotated through trauma in the first  place. They didn't have trauma surgery at the hospital where I did my third year surgery rotation. HELP!
     By the way, surgery bootcamp was not too bad. It was actually kind of fun. We learned to put a foley in a hot dog, an IV in a fake arm, and an NG tube down a mannequin. It was fun meeting the other interns, and it was especially good to know that they do not feel much more confident than me. It was also comforting to learn that I am not way behind with regard to my surgical skills like I thought I would be (not that I have any skills, but most of the other interns don't either). Trauma surgery-so much for easing into my surgery year. Should be interesting! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Surgery Intern Boot Camp

      Sorry about the posting delay. I have been trying to savor my last few days of vacation until I become a "real person." I put "real person" in quotes because I am not entirely sure that residents in general, or surgery residents in particular, can be classified in that manner. As a medical student, I always thought of a resident as a super human alien hybrid that possessed limitless amounts of knowledge and could exist on less than 5 hours of sleep a night. I do not know how to be one of those people. Will it happen over time?
      Today was the house staff orientation for the hospital I am working at. It consisted of a lot of speeches, a mask fit test (to make sure we will be protected from tuberculosis if we encounter a patient with it), ID pictures, and videos on infection control. Residents from every department had to attend, so it was pretty much a mad house. Tomorrow was supposed to be orientation for the surgery department. I was ready for a repeat of today. Lots of speeches by surgeons and lots of paperwork. I was comfortable with the thought. However, at approximately 3:21 this afternoon, we all received an email that our surgery orientation scheduled for tomorrow has been changed to "Surgery Intern Boot Camp."
      I am not a big exerciser, which is very unfortunate. In fact, I didn't exercise during my first 3 years of medical school. I admire the people who make it a part of their daily lives, as routine as "brushing their teeth." With me, it always becomes such a big production. I get home from my rotation, have a snack, then proceed to spend the next few hours avoiding/dreading the gym. When I finally get up the stamina to go, I stay around 30 minutes. Then I come back, hydrate, shower, and blow dry my hair. By the time I am finished, 30 minutes of exercising has turned into a 3 hour ordeal. Did I mention that the gym is IN MY BUILDING? I really have NO excuse not to go.
      Midway through my surgery rotation 3rd year, however, I had a defining, quite embarrassing, moment in which I decided that exercising would be a MANDATORY part of my life. I was on call with one of the interns one evening. It was midnight, the intern had been paged 911, and we were on the first floor where the ORs were located. The patient was on the 8th floor, so naturally, instead of waiting for the ridiculously slow elevator, the intern started running up the stairs. She was a great doctor who genuinely cared for her patients, so it was understandable that she left me huffing, puffing, and half-alive on the landing of the 5th floor. When I finally composed myself and made it up to the 8th floor, the patient was actually fine, but the intern thought my lack of stamina was extremely funny. "I almost killed my med student," she kept telling everyone. The next week I started walking on a treadmill. WALKING. Easing myself into an exercise routine. My big point is, if I had started one of those crazy bootcamp workout classes after not working out for so long, I would probably have collapsed after 5 minutes.
      I have no idea what "Surgery Bootcamp" actually is, and maybe it would have been better if I was expecting it, but it certainly does not sound like they are easing us in. The last time I actually rotated through surgery was in December of my 3rd year, so it has been quite some time. I would be lying if I said that I was not scared. I hope they are not expecting us to know too much. Anyway, I am optimistic. Or at least, I am storing my fears in the back of my mind. I am hoping it will be a bonding experience, and am definitely looking forward to meeting the other surgery residents. So, here is to an easy day at intern bootcamp. I will let you all know how it goes, but please cross your fingers that I do not fall on my face. Thanks!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The New England Journal of Medicine

     Sometimes people (residents, attendings) speak to you (a medical student) in passing, and end up saying something so unintentionally profound, it sticks with you forever. At the same time, I am sure that they (busy, important individuals) probably do not remember what they said a mere 5 minutes after they say it. When I was on my internal medicine Sub-I, one of the interns gave me some sage advice. He said that the best doctors he knew in any field read constantly. Not only do they keep themselves up to date with regard to what is going on in their field, they keep themselves reasonably up to date with news from other fields. This is because a patient on a surgery floor, for example, might very well be on a psych medication, and thus, the surgeon should have an understanding of the newest psychiatric medications and how they act in the body and interact with other medications.
     He said that the easiest way to keep up with new information would be to order the New England Journal of Medicine, which has the most up to date studies in every field. The New England Journal of Medicine is the oldest continuously published medical journal in the world, and publishes editorials, papers on original research, review articles, correspondence, case reports, as well as a section called "Images in Clinical Medicine." He also advised all of the medical students to order a physical copy instead of/in addition to an email copy or copy for the ipad. He said that it is easy to skip over an email, but people are more likely to read something it if it is in front of their face or lying around their home.
      Additionally, a subscription to the New England Journal of Medicine costs a lot more to purchase as an attending physician than as a resident or a medical student. As an attending, it costs $169 a year, but as a student/resident, it only costs $69 a year. In my opinion, that is a small price to pay to keep myself updated and informed in an effort to be the best doctor I possibly can for my patients. Besides, I really look forward to receiving my copy each week. I am just as excited to see my new copy in the mail as I am to see my People magazine. So, I am passing this advice on to all of you. I may not remember much from my internal medicine Sub-I, but I will always remember this resident and his advice. Hopefully, I can pass on some useful information to the medical students that I will work with in the future too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Amanda's Healthy Snack Guide for Residents, Medical Students, and Busy People in General

      It took me less than a week on my surgery rotation as a med student to realize that eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom are necessities of the weak. Just kidding! I DID realize, however, that there was not a lot of time to run down to the coffee shop or cafeteria for a meal, let alone a snack, and that there was no way that I was going to disappear to do so. I did not want to be the medical student that the residents could not find when they actually needed me (probably to do something that they themselves did not want to do, but still, they needed me). I had to bring my food, or I had to starve. Disclaimer: This advice generally applies to those rotating/working at hospitals in the NYC area, and not hospitals in other areas of the country that have a Starbucks in the lobby and a Whole Foods next door (clearly I am jealous of the individuals at the particular hospital I am speaking of). Anyway, I am not the type that can function all day on two meals alone, so I absolutely had to bring snacks to the hospital with me.
      My snack requirements were fairly simple. The snack had to be portable, healthy, not processed or full of sugar (that would make me hungrier and defeat the purpose), filling, nutritious, and require minimal effort on my behalf to bring everyday. As I said, SIMPLE, EASY requirements. Essentially, they had to be grab and go snacks. Below you will find my list of favorites:

1.) Mini packs of olives: These olives are dry-packed, European style, and full of heart-healthy monosaturated fats to keep you full between meals. You can order them online at: Olive Snack Pack.

Nutrition: 50 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber, 0.5 grams of protein.



2.) Mini packs of pistachios: I prefer pistachio packs to other nut packs because they take longer to eat, and have fewer calories per ounce. They are also packed with good fats to keep you full, as well as a decent amount of protein and fiber, making them the perfect grab and go snack. These are readily available in stores, but you can also order mini packs here: Pistachios.

Nutrition: 120-130 calories (depends on the brand), 9 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein.


3.) Mini Kind Bars: A great snack to curb hunger between meals (especially if you feel that the 200 calorie full-sized bar is too high of a calorie price tag for a snack). It is also full of good fat, protein, fiber, and tastes amazing. I have not found one flavor that I do not like. They are all natural and the perfect midday pick me up. They sell these in many stores, but to make your lives easier, you can also buy them online here: Mini Kind Bars.

Nutrition: 110 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein.




4.) Already sliced organic apples + individual 90 calorie pack of almond butter: Clearly I am too lazy to slice apples myself, which is why I am so obsessed with these delicious pre-sliced apples from Trader Joe's (you can buy sliced apples at pretty much any supermarket if you do not have a Trader Joe's near you). There are SO many things that you can do with them, but snack wise, I like to bring them in a ziplock bag and eat them with a perfectly portioned pack of almond butter (perfect for me, because I love it and will eat the entire jar if I do not control myself). This snack is filling, full of fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins to help you make it through your day. You can purchase the individual packs of almond butter here: Almond Butter.

Nutrition for the apples: 1.5 cups is 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of protein.
Nutrition for the almond butter: 90 calories, 7.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein.

              

5.) Baby Carrots: I love any type of pre-sliced/tiny vegetables (again, I am lazy and won't even take the time to slice them myself) and carrots are the easiest to buy in miniature. They are crunchy, filling, full of fiber, and antioxidants. I put them in a zip log back and pair them with a mini hummus or mini light ranch dip to make the perfect snack.

Nutrition: 3 oz are 35 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein.



6.) Mini packs of hummus : (the two brands I have seen that offer this are Sabra and Tribe-I prefer Tribe)- I absolutely love hummus, but once again, if I am left with an open container, I will eat the entire thing, and it is no longer a healthy snack. Because of this, these pre-portioned packs are perfect for me, and perfect to throw into my bag to bring with me to work to eat with my carrots. Hummus is rich in protein, monosaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acids, and contains a substantial amount of B6, manganese, copper, folic acid, as well as multiple amino acids.

Nutrition: (for the Tribe brand) 130 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein.


7.) Mini packs of light ranch dip: Another perfect thing to bring to eat with my sliced veggies. The brand I use is T. Marzetti, and it can be found in certain supermarkets. Clearly, I am not a plain vegetable type of girl. The pack is low calorie, pre-portioned, and makes the perfect grab and go snack for work.

Nutrition: 90 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein.



8.) String Cheese: It can be light, full-fat, whichever you prefer. I eat both types. String cheese is portable, full of protein, good fat, and is fun to eat. It can easily be thrown into your bag without too much thought, making it the perfect work snack. There is not really one brand that I prefer, and the light vs. full fat varieties typically only vary by about 10 calories and 2-3 grams of fat.

Nutrition: (For Stringsters Reduced Fat) 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Greece

      I am back!!! I had an amazing trip, but honestly I am always SO happy to come home after traveling. I think that everybody has a threshold (the amount of time they can be away before they start to miss their family, friends, home, etc.) for vacation, and once they hit it all they can think about is home. I believe mine is about 7-10 days. That is a good thing, I guess, because I do not know when I will have more than 7 days off in a row for the next 4 years. On another note......everyone warned me that I would go crazy with all of the time off before residency, and that by the time July rolled around I would be bored out of my mind and ready to jump back into the hospital routine. I am sad to report that I am LOVING this time off. I still have about 3 weeks to go before orientation, but I do not feel compelled to work yet. Maybe this will change in 3 weeks? I hope so- because soon I will not have a choice. I think I would actually enjoy a few more months of vacation before I begin. Oh well.
     Anyway, Greece was amazing! It was definitely worth the nine month wait. First, we were told not to spend more than a day in Athens, and that was sage advice. Seeing the ruins and the acropolis was great, but there is nothing else to really do there. The islands, on the other hand, were spectacular. Breathtaking. There is no other way to really describe them. We went to Mykonos first, aka party central, and we stayed at a resort the entire time. We did not engage in the crazy party culture. We also went to Santorini, which was so beautiful, not only because of the views, but because all of the buildings were literally built on a cliff. The sunsets were probably the most dramatic and stunning displays that I will ever see in my entire life.....as if they were painted by an artist. Santorini also has a black beach, a red beach, and a white beach, all remnants of multiple volcanic eruptions (the volacono is STILL active), which were really cool and unusual to see.
     The food was delicious- everything was super fresh. Also-in case you were wondering, they do specify "Greek salad" and "Greek yogurt" on the menus there. I kind of figured since we were in Greece it would simply be called "salad," but then I realized that since they did offer different types of salads and yogurts on the menus, they had to be specific to avoid confusion. I still wonder if they call the chocolate in Belgium "Belgium chocolate," or just chocolate. I am pretty sure they do not call the food in China "Chinese food." I will probably have to wait a few years to find out, because I will be remaining in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Unless any of you know and can help me out?
      The WORST part of vacation is coming home (even though I was ready) and dealing with all of the minor things that I have neglected for the past two weeks. I will be enjoying a fun-filled day of food shopping and other errands. FYI, you will never do as much paperwork in your life as you will after you match at a residency program. On the bright side, there is a seven hour time difference between Greece and the U.S., (Greece is 7 hours ahead), so I was up very early to begin to conquer my long to-do list. I have such great things to post about in the next few weeks, so standby for some new posts soon. I hope your summer is off to a fabulous start.
     
                                            Mykonos

                                            Santorini

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"I'm sorry, I am only a medical student."

     So..........graduation is over. I am officially Dr. Amanda. While I am THRILLED that all of my hard work throughout the past 4 years........actually since the beginning of college (that is how long is takes to complete all of the necessary pre-requisistes for medical school) has earned me that title, I cannot help but feel a little bit of nostalgia for being a medical student. I know that may sound crazy, because all every medical student wants is to be called "doctor," but as the dean of my school reminded us, as our degrees were conferred, the responsibility that comes with the title is enormous. I now confer your degree "with all of the rights, titles, privileges, and responsibilities that come with it" is how he phrased it exactly.
      The next time I walk into a hospital, I will be somebody's doctor. The same is true for every one of the students in my class, and every 4th year medical student in the country. That fact is a little bit scary. A LOT scary actually. I am also 100% sure that it is just as scary, if not scarier, for the potential patients we will treat. During my rotations I used to wish I was the doctor so that I could actually make my own decisions and do my own procedures, but I also found comfort in my go to excuse "I am so sorry, I am not sure/can't do anything. I am only a medical student, but I would be happy to go and speak to the doctor for you."
      That excuse was useful in a multitude of situations, most of them stressful. I loved participating in  patient care, but I was always happy that I was not allowed to make decisions by myself, because that meant that I could not hurt or harm the patient by making the WRONG decision. I always had to check with the resident or the attending before doing anything. I had someone watching over me while I did a procedure, to make sure I did it correctly, or help guide me if I was stuck. Now, my excuse is gone. All bets are off. I am pretty sure they are not going to throw us interns to the wolves-we will (obviously) be working under more experienced residents and attendings. However, we will be expected to make our own decisions and be confident in them. I am pretty sure that I have gained no extra medical knowledge in the past 2 days (days in which my status has been changed from a medical student to a doctor), but I can hope that this will be a situation where there is an extremely sharp learning curve.
      I have not received my schedule yet, but I hope I begin on a service where the patients are not too sick, where I will not have life and death decisions to make on a daily basis. I would love to ease into residency, learn the flow of the hospital, and make friends with the nurses before being placed in a situation with critical patients. Unfortunately, I do not make the schedule, and I do not believe that I will be granted such luck. As a future anesthesia resident, I am required to complete 2 ICU months before the year is over, and I have a strong feeling that I will be starting there. All I can do, is my best. Study in my (extremely limited) free time, and look to more experienced doctors to help me along the way. I am told that this anxiety is extremely normal, and that in a year, when the next set of interns begin, I will feel like a pro. That is very hard to imagine right now, but I am optimistic.
      On another note, after only 9 months of marriage, I will finally be going on my honeymoon to Greece! So, even though I have so many things to post about, I will probably be a bit MIA for the next week an a half. I will be sure to update you guys and post pictures as soon as I return. In the meantime, happy Memorial Day and may this be your best summer ever (one in which you avoid any and all hospitals in the month of July-just kidding).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Physician Shortage

      In case you aren't aware, there will be a huge physician shortage in the upcoming years. The population is living longer thanks to advances in medical technology, but a larger elderly population means that there will also be increased costs and demands for medical care. The U.S. population has grown by 50 million since 1997. According to UPI.com, it is estimated that the shortage of both primary care and specialty physicians will reach 63,000 by 2015 and 90,000 by the year 2020.
      The medical schools have been trying to do their part for the past few years, and many of them have increased the seats in their first year classes. New medical schools have also been opening throughout the country on a yearly basis. The annual Medical School Enrollment Survey conducted by the American Association of American Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies estimates that first year enrollment in medical school was projected to reach 21,434 by 2017-2018, which is a 30% increase from first year enrollment in 2002-2003. Unfortunately, the action taken by these schools is not helping to decrease the shortage because there are not enough residency positions available to train these extra doctors.
      As it stands currently, hundreds of medical students did not match into a first year residency position this year. Many people do not know this, but residency positions are funded by Medicare. Medicare and the taxpayer fund $9.5 billion per year to subsidize 94,000 teaching positions at teaching hospitals. Medicaid and other sources fund an additional 100,000 spots. These numbers have not changed since 1997, when The Balanced Budget Act froze the number of Medicare funded spots.
      Obviously, the deans of these growing medical schools are extremely concerned about the future of their graduates. It is not an easy task to get into medical school, and to graduate with around $250,000 in student loans and have no prospective training or job is a travesty for a medical student. It is also detrimental to the population for a potentially great young physician to be denied training.
      According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the first step to correct the situation would be for Congress to lift the cap on residency training positions. Otherwise, despite the efforts of the medical schools, there will not be a single new practicing physician in the United States. Thankfully, representatives Allyson Schwartz, a democrat from Pennsylvania, and Aaron Schock, a republican from Illinois, have introduced a bill entitled "The Training Tomorrow's Doctor's Today Act" to try to increase the number of training positions in the country. The bill will create 15,000 new spots around the country throughout a 5 year period. Unfortunately, the cost is estimated at $1 billion dollars per year. Sadly, the bill has not moved at all in the house. At the very least, government leaders are trying to work to change the situation, but until they do, there will not be enough physicians to care for the enormous number of patients there will be in the future. So, while America has the knowledge and potential to save the lives of many, until we are able to train more physicians, they will not be able to utilize their skills, and the people of America will suffer.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Theory Sample Sale

      It has been WAY too long since I have posted anything. SORRY! I have been in Florida for the past week visiting friends and family. I am trying to make the most of my freedom because very shortly, free time will be a thing of the past. Anyway, I arrived back in NYC today for...........the theory sample sale!!!! I cut my trip short to fly home for it. JUST KIDDING. I was actually coming home today anyway, the timing just happened to work in my favor. Sample sales are one of the great perks of living in NYC, and Theory is one of the best.
      The sale takes place 2x a year in both December and May, and it can be hit or miss. Sometimes I walk out with armfuls of clothing, and sometimes I do not buy anything. Last May I bought the suit that I wore on all of my residency interviews. This year, they have leather coats (among other things)  for just $299 (currently being sold for $1285 in Bergdorf's). If you have time stop by 261 W 36th Street, 2nd Floor anytime through Sunday. The hours vary by day, but they generally open around 10 and close around 7. Here is a link: Theory Sample Sale with the details. Enjoy!
     

Friday, May 3, 2013

My New Food Steamer

      After a weekend of eating debauchery that included donut ice cream sandwiches and deep fried hamburgers (no joke), my jeans and I agreed that I needed a week of clean, healthy, low-calorie eating. Enter my new favorite contraption- my food steamer. I never really thought about purchasing a food steamer. I thought steaming food involved a big pot of boiling water, a lot of effort, and a big mess. Frankly, I didn't know that there were devices you could buy especially to steam food. As it turns out, there are devices you can buy for EVERYTHING. Anyway, when I got engaged, Matt and I received a food steamer as a gift. I did not think much of it until recently, when I was "shopping" in the pile of gifts we store at Matt's parent's house and came across it. I thought it looked interesting, so I grabbed it. It has become my new best friend.
      As it turns out, steaming enables food to retain more vitamins and minerals than other ways of cooking. It also naturally draws out the flavor in meat, fish, and vegetables without adding extra calories. The best part is, if you have a food steamer it requires very little effort on your behalf (exactly the way I like to cook) to make a delicious, low-calorie, high-flavor meal. All you have to do, is fill the bottom of the steamer with water, plug it in, put in the number of minutes you would like the food to cook for (and it comes with a manual that tells you how long to cook each type of food for), and that is it. Done.
      The steamer I have is the Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer. I am pretty sure mine came from Bed Bath and Beyond, but it is currently being sold on amazon for a cheaper price. Here is the link: Digital Steamer (to make your lives easier). It has two tiers, so you can cook different types of food at once, or you can take one tier out and cook one thing. It is so easy to use. Their slogan could have been "steaming for dummies." You can also program it to cook while you are not there and it will even keep the food warm until you are ready to eat it. It also doubles as a rice cooker. When I am done "cooking," and I put that in quotes because it requires so little effort I can barely call it that, I throw all of the parts in the dishwasher. I highly recommend this steamer, and steaming in general. It is definitely an under-utilized way to cook great food- and as an added bonus, both your mouth and your waistline will thank you.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Summer Chickpea and Tomato Salad

      I am SO ready for summer. For spring. For any season that has sun and warm weather really. Winter, unfortunately, seems to be dragging it's heels in NYC, and I am trying to ignore it and look forward. The warmth is COMING.......sometime. Soon. Hopefully. Anyway, my optimistic self brings you a summer salad recipe. I used to follow someone else's recipe for it, but I have slowly altered it to my personal tastes. Feel free to do the same. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
A handful of fresh basil
2-4 garlic cloves (depending on how much garlic you like)
white balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper




Directions
1.) Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and then place in a large bowl.
2.) Open the can of chickpeas and combine with the tomatoes.
3.) Chop up the basil and add to bowl.
4.) Mince (cut into tiny pieces) the garlic cloves and add too.
5.) Mix everything together with 1 TBS white balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp olive oil.
6.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 1 and 1/4 cups
Calories: 145
Fat: 4 grams
Fiber: 7 grams




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Holey Cream

      One of my very good friends from college, Lindsay, came to stay with me in New York last weekend. I am so grateful that she did because a) I love her and it had been awhile since we had had an extended visit and b) she watches the food network and found some amazing places to eat that I had never heard of and would probably never have come across otherwise. Today, I will share her great knowledge with you. A place that I can only describe as a hidden gem. A New York treasure (in my opinion-and I am betting yours if you are a dessert lover like me).


      It is called Holey Cream, and it is located in Hell's Kitchen between 52nd and 53rd streets and 9th avenue. I am not going to go into an extended description because nothing I can say would adequately give justice to how amazingly delicious their desserts are. All I can say is donut ice cream sandwich. DONUT ICE CREAM SANDWICH.




      Basically, they take a plain hot donut, slice it in half and put ice cream in the middle. Any flavor you wish (I won't even go into the fact that they make their own ice cream with flavors like red velvet, pretzel, and oatmeal raisin cookie). Then, they cover it with frosting- again, you choose the flavor, and a topping of your choice. Mine was a strawberry frosted donut with cookies and cream ice cream, and sprinkles. Lindsay also chose cookies and cream ice cream, but she got vanilla frosting and extra oreo cookies on top. When I saw the end product, I honestly thought that it would not-could not be as amazing as it looked, but I was very wrong. So wrong. More wrong than I have ever been in my life. It was even better than I ever could have dreamed. It far surpassed my wildest expectations in a dessert. That is really all I have to say about Holey Cream except-GO. Go get your own donut ice cream sandwich. Immediately, if not sooner. It is so good, the calories do not even count (ok-not true, but it is SO SO worth the splurge).


 



Friday, April 19, 2013

Flat Iron Lounge




       One of my favorite places to go in the city is the Flat Iron Lounge. It is located at 37 West 19th street, between 5th and 6th. It's website defines it as "a true high-end and high-style cocktail lounge, and I have to agree with their description. It gives off a retro, roaring twenties-like vibe (I am beginning to realize that a lot of my favorite places have this in common....hmmm) with very dim lighting and art-deco furniture. The bar is so old-fashioned and beautiful. I imagine it is the type of place that the people from The Great Gatsby went to. They even have soft jazz music playing in the background. It is also the perfect place for a first date. In fact, it is my brother's go-to place for that. I have heard that some people think this is a speak-easy lounge, but it isn't (in my opinion). It definitely isn't like any of the speak easys I have been to in the past. For one, I had no trouble finding it the first time I went, which says something, since I have had difficulty finding every other speak easy I have ever been to. Speak easy's are supposed to be hidden. As in, the entrance to the bar is through a coffee shop hidden. The Flat Iron Lounge is not HIDING. From anybody. In fact, there is a large flag outside of the building that says "Flat Iron Lounge."
 

       The best part of the Flat Iron Lounge, is the eclectic cocktail menu. The "mixologists" or bartenders can make you any drink off the menu, but they usually add a twist of personalization after they inquire about your tastes and preferences.  Their menu consists of unique drinks like the "No Jacket Required" which is made of aged agricol rum, violette, lemon, don's mix, and peychaud, the "Holy Water," made of plymouth gin, lemon, watermelon syrup, and herbsaint rinse (whatever that is), as well as the "Jalapeno Maragarita." They also have a martini "flight" of the day. Essentially, the menu (which is categorized by type of alcohol "gin," "whisky,""vodka...") has something special for everyone.
      The people who work there are also extremely nice, and the bar snacks they serve are exceptionally delicious.  Once, I even asked one of the waitresses where they buy the snacks, but unfortunately, she said she didn't know. Oh well. One of the only complaints I have about the Flat Iron Lounge, is that it can become overly crowded throughout the night (I have been forced to stand in a corner), particularly on the weekend. This can make it tough to find a place to sit and drink your fancy beverage. Other than that, I highly highly recommend that you stop at the Flat Iron Lounge on your next trip to NYC.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The NEW Peanut Butter

      
         


      So, this is a picture of the peanut butter/nut butter selection currently residing in my kitchen cabinet. It's safe to say I am a fan. In my case, peanut butter and jelly has been a great lunch to take on my rotations since 1). Hospital cafeteria food freaks me out (due to an incident dating back to my days as a candy striper)  2). Even with an ice pack in my lunch bag cold food does not remain as cold as it should be, which also freaks me out (medical students do not always have refrigerator access as the space is often reserved for individuals higher up on the medical food chain- like interns). Peanut butter can remain at room temperature, it is delicious, it is nutritious, and importantly, it is filling. Perfection. The only issue is that it is extremely high in fat and calories (good fat) so sadly, it is important to watch the serving size. ESPECIALLY for someone like me, who has been known to sit down with a jar and a spoon in front of the television.
      While the fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy, and can satisfy hunger for hours, some people cannot afford the 190 calorie per 2 tablespoon price tag every single day. For this reason, I am going to review/discuss a new product I recently tried called PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter. According to the company "Through a unique process that doesn’t involve the use of any chemicals and doesn’t alter nature’s intended balance found within the peanut, we remove over 85% of the fat from premium quality peanuts. Essentially, the oil is squeezed out of roasted peanuts and what remains is our famous powdered peanut butter – all natural with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. When you mix water or a favorite drink with PB2 you get the same consistency as full-fat peanut butter, with all the roasted peanut flavor, but 85% less fat calories."  PB2 is only 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per serving so it is like an 80% off sale taking place in the calorie department. It also contains 5 grams of protein per serving, which is excellent, as protein is more slowly digested which enables us to stave off hunger for longer periods of time.  


      So- getting to the important stuff. PB2 comes in 2 flavors- regular peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter. I have only tried the regular so far. Making it does take some getting used to, as it is like powdered sugar in consistency, but all you really have to do is mix water into it to get the texture you desire. When I did it, I used the amount they recommended on the jar and it looked like peanut butter.......and it even tasted like peanut butter......sort of. You can definitely tell that the fat has been taken out of it because it lacks a richness that regular peanut butter has, but that is not a terrible thing. The texture is not as silky or creamy. It is sort of like switching from Ben and Jerry's to Skinny Cow ice cream. Both are very good, but they do not taste the same. Ben and Jerry's may taste BETTER, but that does not mean that Skinny Cow ice cream tastes BAD. Especially when you compare the nutritional stats of both brands. 
      I have heard that the chocolate-flavored PB2 is even better than the regular. One great thing about the powder, is that a small amount adds great peanut butter flavor to recipes. It is arguably PB2's biggest attribute. I think it would work amazingly well in smoothies, a drink I have never added nut butter to in the past for fear that I would essentially be drinking a high-calorie milkshake in disguise, but the possibilities are endless. This stuff would also be excellent in sauces, dips, oatmeal, yogurt- basically, anywhere that peanut butter would be a welcome flavor (which, in my opinion, is EVERYWHERE). So, in a nutshell, it is a great peanut butter SUBSTITUTE. Nothing could ever fully replace peanut butter, but this is a very close second. I highly recommend it.
      P.S.- I bought my PB2 at a store in my neighborhood, but if you are not sure where to get it, you can always order it online at amazon.com. Here is a link: PB2.