Staying indoors has nearly driven me stir crazy. Without access to a swimming pool and shopping mall for two months, there wasn’t much entertainment apart from binging on trashy dating reality TV shows on Netflix, enlightening Sunday sermons from my pastor, a marathon of takeouts with the family and countless video calls/texts from friends all around the world.
If there was one thing that kept me sane, it’s health food shopping. Although I look like the kind of girl that would splurge on Alo Yoga sets, most of my spending has been allocated to food. More specifically, health food.
For the past five years, I’ve been more consistent with upgrading my health; however, my journey started with a scare. In July 2015, my mom took me to see Dr. Rachel West for an allergy test. My skin was breaking out, I gained weight and although I looked healthy, I was always feeling sleepy after a meal. After I took the allergy test, it turned out that the highest allergens were gluten, dairy and eggs. On top of that, I had high mercury and yeast levels from consuming too much bread, fish and macaroons when I vacationed at the South of France, Milan and Paris that summer. While I was being treated with IV drips to remove the mercury and yeast, I decided that it was time for me to go vegan and gluten-free temporarily.
With the vegan and gluten-free experiment, I found out that my body felt lighter, I had more energy and there was minimal bloating on my stomach. In addition to eliminating the allergens, I’ve also decided to ramp up my diet by snacking clean, too. Flash forward to 2020, I am still that health nut from 2015, but I’ve made improvements since then.
Rather than relying on an all or nothing mentality (a trait I’m working to unlearn), I’ve came to realize that indulging healthy doesn’t mean that it’s boring! With more vegan substitutes of pantry classics (think Nutella), it’s beginning to open my mind that something healthy can enlighten your meal without making sacrifices.
If healthy eating is completely foreign to you, it’s never too late to try out different kinds of meals!
Here are my top go-tos:
Five years ago, my mom told me about Sakara, a delivery service that brings plant-based meals to your doorstep. Although they mainly do deliveries, this female-led company also manufactures dope snacks, granola, bars and powders. Since I’ve given Milo* the chopping block due to its dairy-laden content, I never regretted purchasing the Metabolism powder. Unlike your beloved childhood drink, Sakara’s Metabolism Super Powder contains celery seed to de-bloat, black pepper piperine to control inflammation and a seaweed-derived antioxidant to decrease body fat, yet it has the same chocolate-y taste as Milo. It also comes with L-glutamine, an amino acid that increases your energy and controls your appetite. Since I used to have a problem with irregular snacking (e.g. I’d sneak in a light snack at night or eat 75 percent of a bag of Luke’s Organic seed chips), this powder has truly helped me control the urge to snack unnecessarily. On top of that, it’s super great for hangovers and period bloat, too!
*Milo is this malty chocolate drink from a powder that’s popular in Asia-Pacific. In Singapore, there’s PLENTY of restaurants that serve it!
In an article about black-owned businesses on Buzzfeed, I stumbled upon this brand. Since I’m on the hunt for affordable health food, I am thankful that I found Beautifully Bamboo. Rich with silica from the bamboo, this tea has been doing my skin SO many favors with zero breakouts, glowing skin alongside healthier nails and hair. Guy or girl, this tea is meant for you. You will never regret ordering this. And also, this makes your hair grow, too!
Last year, I toyed around with dumping collagen powder into my coffee and I was HOOKED. Not only did my skin feel extra soft, it also felt bouncy, too. From then on, I’ve tried out different brands of collagen to see how that worked out. If there was one brand that gave me the best collagen, I’d say The Source. Originally from Australia, The Source is the love child of Whole Foods and Costco albeit with cheaper prices. I believe that organic food shouldn’t be expensive and in that case, I’ve certainly gotten my value for money every time I go there. Since this is organic collagen sourced from cows, the collagen blends in well with my coffee. Despite using Moon Juice’s vegan mushroom-based collagen powder, I find that I’m still able to have more quantities from The Source.
If you’re vegan, Moon Juice’s Collagen Protect is a great powder I’ve used in the past and it’s equally miraculous!
Almond butter and strawberries are the summer staples I count on. But what’s unique about this bar is that it’s marketed to make your skin prettier! Even though I don’t trust these kinds of marketing tactics, I decided to cave in and boy was it worth it! A few days before I had my period, I ate this bar almost every other day. I didn’t break out nor did I get bad cystic acne (as it usually happens before every period). My skin was glowing and I didn’t get hungry after eating this bar. Since it’s filled with organic pea protein, it has that rich protein-y taste. Most importantly, this bar contains vitamins E and C alongside zinc to aid in evening out your skin tone, hydration and firmness. Regardless of gender, nothing is more sexier than eating pink foods and indulging in it for the sake of beauty.
If you’re scared of germs and can’t stand the thought of letting your fingertips reach the final tablet of your trusty Airborne, Emergen-C is my highly recommended substitute. After my first glass of water in the morning, I usually like to dump this one into my drink either in the second or third glass. Since it’s filled with Vitamin C, I find that this drink gives me so much energy. As Gatorade for the soul, it alleviates me from passing out due to hot weather. Sometimes, I like to drink this twice a day just to prevent myself from getting mega exhausted. Since there’s a bunch of flavors, I usually rotate between orange and açaí.
I LOVE this tea! Words don’t do it enough to describe how much better I feel after drinking it. As someone who gets dehydrated easily, the echinacea in this tea helps me to feel less lethargic as it boosts my immune system. Since this is the type of tea I usually drink in the afternoon or evening, it helps me to sleep easily since it does not contain caffeine. Although tea is a diuretic, it has enough moisture-inducing herbs that can help to make my throat wetter than a bucket and a mop.
Sorry, Nutella stans. I’ve converted. As a vegan and palm-oil free alternative, this is equally tasty as your traditional hazelnut spread! The reason why I bought Rigoni di Asiago is because I can’t really digest dairy products, which give me stomach upsets or get me extra gassy. Given that I’ve already been diagnosed with a dairy allergy since young, this dairy-free alternative makes me feel less guilty about indulging in chocolate. Most importantly, you are saving the lives of orangutans and conserving more rainforests when you ditch palm oil. (P.S. Did you know that palm oil also contributes to a higher body fat percentage, plus metabolic, liver and cardiovascular diseases?!) Whether it’s a spoonful or drizzled on a cookie, I count on this vegantella to add more serotonin to my day whenever I’m feeling PMS-y or need to hide my kimchi breath on a regular day when I’m not PMSing.
Just as important as your Starbucks venti, detox tea is the ultimate marker between life and death. Soothing, but potent, this tea contains ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, orange peel, burdock, dandelion, licorice root, fennel and black peppercorn. Every time I drink it, it has always helped my tummy feel better with zero aches. Not only do I drink it alone, I also like to mix it in my detox tea bars, which contains a bit of this tea! Trust me, this Liquid Spanx is exactly what you need in your cabinet RN if you need to help your body flush out last night’s wine or oil-laden takeout.