If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably noticed that new posts have been M.I.A. for the past week or so. Sorry about that, but in my defense, I've been busy exploring a state that I always thought I hated.
Growing up in the PNW (Pacific Northwest, for you East Coasters), the seed for California distain was planted in me at a young age and sprouted rather quickly. There are lots of reasons to hate on California. At the top of that list is their monopoly over society's perception of the West Coast as being strictly beaches and surfing. This is closely followed by the tendency for bands on tour to have the entirety of their West Coast stops be four different cities in California, evading the entire northern part of the coast.
Against my better judgment, and finding a lack of Seattleites in D.C., I became friends with a Californian, Hannah, in college. A summer trip was arranged, and I found myself boarding a plane to San Jose.
I've been to Southern California a few times, but this was my first time in the northern part of the state. As we drove into Santa Cruz, I wondered, Where is the smog? Where are the crazy techies that I blame for the gentrification of my beloved Seattle? I began to realize that maybe Northern California wasn't all that different from Washington.
Hannah and I stayed local my first day, exploring the small shops in downtown Santa Cruz and lying on a local beach that was far too cold for us to enjoy for more than an hour.
Day two was spent picking fruit in the morning before embarking on a photography adventure at a state park. I was promised that there would be dramatic, rocky cliffs, and the Pacific Ocean did not disappoint. With much hesitation, I found myself admitting that maybe Washington isn't the only pretty, nature-filled state.
On day three, Hannah had to work a shift at the local cupcake shop, Buttercup Cakes and Farmhouse Frosting (their vegan cupcakes are top-notch). I accompanied her downtown and sat in the back of the shop sending out fall internship applications for when I return to D.C. Who says vacations can't be productive?
Day four was our big city day, and we drove two hours north to San Francisco. Except for a brief overnight stay during a road trip town to Disneyland ten years ago, I'd never been to the Bay Area. Hannah parked in North Beach, and we began the afternoon with lunch in Cafe Sapore.
Eat Your Favorite Foods
If you haven't already been able to tell, I'm a big fan of food. Everyone should be a fan of food, it literally helps your body function and makes you stay alive. If you aren't already, go out and become a fan of food.
When thinking about food, it's important to distinguish between what is food and what isn't. Chemicals, artificial flavoring, color dyes? Not food. Vegetables, nuts, grains? Food. I think the most common way people lose track of a "diet" (a diet is literally what you eat, there is no such thing as "going on a diet" you're always on a diet, okay sorry rant over) is because of a lack of understanding of one's body. Here's something important: oils, sugar, and salt are addictive. Chances are if you're craving french fries and oreos, you need to get back in touch with your body.
Recently, whenever I've found myself wishing for a cookie or wanting to bake a tray of brownies, I've referred to a "favorite food" list I made, and opt for something on there instead. This way, I'm still getting to eat something I want, but I'm not putting more artificial things in my body.
Everyone should make a favorite foods list. Trust me, it changes your life. There's nothing better than driving home from work knowing that when I sit down at the dinner table, I can grab an apple and peanut butter. And it's really as simple as just choosing a few items on your list to grab every time you go to the grocery store, plus it's fun because you get to switch it up a little every time!
And before you say, "but Aubrey, you don't understand, chocolate ice cream is my favorite food," take a minute to really think about what foods make you feel happy after eating them. Write them down. Next time you're craving a second scoop, try eating something on your list instead. Trust me, it tastes just as good.
I think our obsession with unhealthy foods stems from this mistaken belief that they're "easier." That it's easier to heat up some tater-tots than actually make a salad. That's why I think having a favorite foods list is so successful. It's not a recipe, it's as convenient and easy as grabbing an item out of your fridge.
Okay so now that I've hyped it all up, here's my list of favorite foods:
Buying Local: Farmer's Markets
Farmer's markets can be a bit jarring at first. There's booth after booth of people selling the same vegetables or the same organic soaps. I've been known to walk from one end to the other of a farmer's market before finally deciding a vendor from which I want to buy my spinach.
Farmer's markets can be found virtually everywhere. I grew up going to a little one in my small town every Saturday when I was a kid, and to this day, going to farmer's markets is one of my favorite weekend activities. Something about knowing your food comes from a local farmer instead of a giant corporate-run farm makes buying stuff at them feel so much more satisfying than taking a trip to the supermarket.
When you live around Seattle, you learn that most people have a favorite market (mine are the U-District Farmer's Market and the Ballard Farmer's Market). When you're new to a place though, it can be fun to explore the different farmer's markets. The nice thing is that, most of the time, different towns schedule theirs for different days of the week so it's possible to check out different ones through the week without rushing from one market to the next, frantically trying to make it to them all before they close.
Annnnyyyyywayyyyyy, to the point of this post, here is some of my advice for shopping at your local farmer's market.