If You See Me, Say Hello
January 21, 2011

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Today marks the end of my first official week of classes. Phew! We haven’t covered much territory, but even so, it feels good to have a few classes under my belt. And, with a full load of chem, physics, calculus, and physics lab, I’m already knee deep in homework.

Homework! Wow. It’s been a while.

As I trotted up and down Columbia’s morningside campus all week, I was stopped a few times by readers who recognized me (by the way, this is a relatively new experience for me; I’ve heard other bloggers talk about being “recognized” before, and it feels every bit as strange as it sounds). A few other times, I caught a girl in one of my classes or on campus staring at me as if she wanted to say something, and I wondered if my blog had anything to do with it, because—aside from the fact that student life has immediately compelled me to let myself go, and roll into class looking like I just rolled out of bed—there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the way I look.

Two days ago, one lovely and forthcoming reader was standing next to me at the sink in a campus bathroom, and after a moment of glancing at me she said, “This is going to sound like a really weird question, but…”

“Am I Gena?” I finished.

“YES!” she exclaimed. Ten minutes later, en route to the bookstore, we were chatting like old friends, and even sharing intimate details of our histories with food.

Moral of the story? If you see me on campus, CU students, say hello! I won’t bite. In fact, I’m still feeling very much like a fish out of water being back in school, so please, please don’t hesitate to make me feel loved.

As I predicted in a post a few days ago, student life means an immediate need for food and snacks that are portable, tasty, and nourishing. At the start of each week, I plan to whip up some kale chips and snack bars, as well as some dehydrated fruit and homemade trail mix for in between class. Packing dinners and lunches is a little harder—and with the number of evening classes I’m enrolled in, it’s something I’ll simply have to do—but I’m getting the hang of it.

As I hunkered down to make kale chips last weekend, it occurred to me that I’d like to pack a little more nutrition into my usual recipe (which is Averie’s recipe). I wondered if I could make a coating for the chips that used hemp seeds, rather than cashews—more protein and Omega fatty acid bang for my buck. Unfortunately, those turned out tasting way too “hempy” (hemp is a pretty strong flavor, and I like it, but only to a point)  and so I decided I’d make another batch using half cashews, half hemp. Bingo! This one worked like a charm, and I streamlined it to make it pretty simple.

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Protein Packed Cheesy Hemp Kale Chips (yields about 3-4 servings)

2/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup shelled hemp seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 tbsp mellow white miso
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup water

1 head curly kale, washed and torn into chip-sized pieces

Combine all ingredients except for the kale in a high speed blender and blend till smooth. Next, pour a generous amount of the resulting sauce over the kale (you may not use all of it, in which case you should save it as a raw, vegan dip!).

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Massage the sauce into the kale leaves, till they’re heavily coated (this isn’t a salad, people. You want your kale swimming in the sauce).

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Place the kale onto two Teflex-lined dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 4 hours.

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Flip them gently to expose less dry parts, and keep dehydrating till they’re totally crispy.

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Voila! A tasty, crispy, portable, and nutrition-filled snack. Being a student again needn’t mean two more years of Swedish fish from JJ’s: I’m determined to pack as much nourishment into my on-the-go food as I can.

Other recent campus or on-the-go meals include some hummus-stuffed collard wraps with salad and zucchini dressing:

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And some very special raw, vegan snack bars from my friend Caleb, the Organic Climber. Caleb and his partner, Chris, are starting a raw foods snack company, and they were kind enough to ask me to sample their pumpkin spice and vanilla blueberry bars. Twist my arm, I said.

The bars arrived with a sweet, handwritten note and a list of the ingredients:

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As you can see, these ingredient lists come down to simple, real food: nuts, dates, spices, flax, and raw, vegan protein powders. That’s my kind of snack bar. Not to mention the fact that both flavors are delicious! The pumpkin is nice and spicy, and the vanilla is sweet-but-not-too-sweet. I really loved them both, and Caleb & Chris nailed the texture: very similar to Larabars.

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What a perfect, portable treat for me as I get into the nitty gritty of my class schedule. Thanks, Caleb!

Just FYI: Caleb and Chris are in the last stages of raising money for their raw, organic, vegan and gluten-free snack company, Adventure Naturals. Please help to support their fundraising campaign on Kickstarter!

With that, a weekend full of studying and very overdue friend time begins. Hope you’ve all got some good stuff planned!


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  1. Gena, do you think these would work with collard greens instead of kale? i don’t get kale here where i live but i would loooove to try these chips as i’m trying to come up with gluten-free (and veggie, of course) snacks. ^^

  2. Can’t wait till I get my hands on a dehydrator so that I can try my hand at making kale chips! They look so so yummy!

    Thanks for this post and acknowledging that you do enjoy being recognized and talking with readers! As a non-blogger (but huge blog-reader) I didn’t really know the protocol about this. I actually did once recognize a blogger (one you are familiar with but that I’ll keep anonymous) and like an idiot I stared but felt bad asking if really was her. So in the end I never said anything and know I’m wishing that I had! It was a bit awkward too because I work at Whole Foods and I was actually helping her, so she must have thought I was crazy since I kept staring at her!

    Happy Weekend!

  3. Oh, kale! I made my first batch of kale chips this christmas and, well, they didn´t last very long… 🙂 Unfortunatly nov-dec are the only time to get kale in the shops around here. Odd I know, but it´s considered christmas food…
    Anyway, as a Swedish girl I´m kind of wondering about “Swedish fish”, enlighten me, please!

  4. I wish I’d run into you in real life, that would be so cool!

    I was wondering, since you went to this campus before for years during which you struggled with anorexia (if I understood correctly?): doesn’t it bring up nasty memories? Whenever I visit my home town I get flooded by good memories, but also by a lot of bad ones. Every street can remind me of a time where I walked around in a daze, stuffed or starved or both, but most of al lonely. It makes me go back in time and feel sorry for the me from back then.

    x sabine

    • Sabine,

      Good question!

      Actually, you read me semi-correctly. My big weight loss was in Junior high, along with the worst of my habits. I consider college a time of post-ED behavior, but pre-recovery in the sense that my eating and body image was very imbalanced. My weight dropped significantly my Junior year, and I think it probably qualifies as a relapse, but for the most part college was about me learning to find normalcy, even though I wasn’t technically underweight for most of it.

      But to get to the real point: does it bring back bad memories? Thankfully, no. There were some rough days at Columbia, and food was only a little part of it — a tough relationship, my mother’s bout with breast cancer, etc. — so of course I remember moments that were very hard. But mostly, I remember those four years as having been fun and freeing, and most importantly, Columbia is where I made two of my best friends for life, so my overall feeling is resoundingly happy there.


      • Ah, I see! Sometimes I seem to forget that for a lot people, eating disorder onset is much earlier on than what I experienced (age 19). I had no idea about all the other things you mentioned, the relationship, your mom, so I am happy to hear these things aren’t causing feelings of trauma or distress when you are embarking on this journey!

  5. This is so exciting, Gena! I’m amazed how you prepare your meals, too. Are the campus dining halls at least vegan friendly or have good salad bars in case you don’t have time to pack meals?

    • I’ll definitely be able to find options in a pinch. For the most part, the campus food is a lot like what it was like when I was there: vegan friendly enough to manage, but not what I would opt for if I had it my way. Given my budget this year, I’ll definitely opt to make as much food as I can and bring it to campus, but I definitely won’t starve when and if I can’t 🙂

  6. Heheh it would be weird to be recognized! I still feel weird when someone I know says to me “hey I read your blog the other day!” so being recognized out of the blue must feel very weird.
    Anyway, good luck with everything!
    By the way, I was wondering if you could sub baby-spinach for kale and make spinach chips. Do you think that could work out?

    • It could, Lola, but I would recommend using the kale. The curliness and sturdiness will work much better than spinach.

    • Haha. Yup, coffee!

      Oh: and I don’t sleep much. That’s part of how I do it all. It sucks, but somehow I manage 🙂

  7. Welcome to school life! I work full time and go to grad school full-time. Homework sort of just becomes a way of life, oh and having a life, that pretty much goes away. But it’s worth it and that’s great that you’re planning how to eat healthy in the midst of it. Good luck with the new semester!

  8. Fabulous post Gena! 🙂 I wish we could just run into each other. That would be nice. I agree about hemp. It can definitely be too much! Congrats + good luck..sounds like you’re doing awesome so far!

  9. Don’t worry, if I ever see you I will *shriek* and beam and beg you to come grab coffee. I live in Canberra, Australia, you see. Finding you in my city would be rather a surprise.

  10. Woah, I’m taking chem and physics this semester too! I’m taking the second half of both, though, so we’re probably not in the same classes:( Physics is seriously whooping my butt right now. . .

  11. It is so neat that someone recognized you and introduced themself! I am still looking for more people to comment on my blog – so it is a sign of how good and well-read your blog is!
    I can’t believe how much homework I have already – we are in the third week of school already, but the load is HUGE this year! Good luck!

  12. So cool that you got recognized! I love me some kale chips and have made a Mexican spice variation and a smoked paprika variation with hummus instead of cashews the other day that was to die for! 🙂

  13. I had collard wraps tonight for dinner! That sounds fun at college… oh what I have to look forward to :] the kale chips look awesome… I just made some of my own, but they’ll most likely be gone soon. Best wishes!

  14. Yum those collard wraps look so good! I can’t imagine how strange it probably feels to be recognized…I always feel like people are staring at me for one reason or another, but that would be a whole new level! haha. I’m glad you’re enjoying your tough schedule! 🙂

  15. Love the story of how you were recognized in the bathroom. We all need love all the time! And your cheesy kale chips are almost inspiring me to make some. Nice how you figured out the half hemp/half cashew thing. Very cool.

  16. Lookssuperyym! How do you wrap a collard? I tried the other day. Fail! Hehe. Could you help?

  17. Love the kale chips coating!!! Do you think that if I put it in the oven at 200 degrees (that’s the lowest number in my oven) for about maybe 3hrs or so, I’d get the same result? I’m going to try!!!
    Hope you have lots of fun in your classes!! Those are literally a ‘hand full’!! 🙂

    I also have tons to read, and it’s only the 1st week! so it’s good to have those pre made, homemade snacks to take with you!!
    I’m definitely trying the kale chips and I’ll be making my bars this weekend too!! (I’ll post the recipe on my website!! :D)

    Much love Gena and hope to see you around campus soon!! 😀

  18. being recognized must be awkwardly fun. i feel that i’m not cut out for those experiences (not that i have the blog fame, but i’m just sayin’ ;)), as i’m generally in my own world when walking around nyc and probably would turn my head the other way. meh.

    good for you for packing such elaborate, tupperware-busy lunches consistently. i hate having the plastic-baggage with me the rest of the day, but i know it’s generally worth the effort.

  19. Would love to say hello if I ever see you on campus, but I’m at Teachers College, so I’m generally at the TC campus unless I’m going to the gym. We should do a Columbia blogger meetup 🙂

  20. a reader commented last week saying she saw me in san clemente over the weekend (we were visiting kyles fam). i have never recognized in public, but even hearing that she saw me on the beach in real life felt weird. i forget that others may read aside from the people i know about and follow myself. kinda bizarre. anyway, i am glad you are enjoying class. homework does not sound fun though…thank god the days of o chem, labs, and calculus are gone from my life. ick.

  21. “a full load of chem, physics, calculus, and physics lab, I’m already knee deep in homework. “–

    Better YOU than me! 🙂

    Thanks for the shoutout on the kale chips…and glad you are enjoying your kale. I know you always do, though, you’re a kale lover at heart!

    Those bars from Caleb…mmmm, sounds very tasty!

    And being recognized. I have been recognized a few times lately. The most interesting one was in the Aruba airport! We were flying home from our month in Aruba at the end of Dec and a girl came up to me and asked if I am Averie from LV&Y and I said yes, she said she reads my blog, spotted me, etc….it was SURREAL! Not only being recognized itself but in a foreign country, no less!

    I would love to “spot” you! Cmon out to CA!!


  22. Wow, those kale chips look great! Will have to give that recipe a shot. Congrats on your fame too 😛

  23. Thanks for the kind words Gena, glad you enjoyed the bars! We have even added flavors such as chocolate maca, coconut mango, and ginger peach to the lineup. All were huge hits at our recent tasting party!

    I’m going to have to try these Kale Chips, they look amazing. I have been hard pressed to create Kale Chips on my own that I actually like. These look like a winner for sure.

  24. It has to be SO weird being recognized. You’re like a celebrity 😉 A Blog-ebrity!

    I made baked kale chips last week. No dehydrator, hopefully someday. They turned out great though!!! I will have to try that sauce and see if I can bake them on low heat. I am not keen on leaving my door ajar though, think it’s a waste of energy. But I will try it at 250 and see what happens 🙂

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