Recipe: Vegetarian Dumplings

Hope everyone in the Northeast US stayed safe from the bomb cyclone this past week! Those of us in NYC experienced heavy winds and snow, and temperatures that felt like it was below 0 degrees Fahrenheit 😦 These record cold temperatures and extreme weather events we’ve been seeing over the course of 2017 are likely due to climate change and humans’ neglect for the role we play on our planet. But I’ll save that spiel for another time…

Vegetarian Dumplings

Since my family and I were stuck indoors, we decided to make some homemade veggie dumplings! When I was in grad school living away from home, I had already moved towards a less meat-centric diet, but when I lived in Mexico and Cambodia, I found it very difficult to regulate my diet when I was living with a host family and also living on a budget. Now that I’m finally (mostly) permanently back home in NY, I’m introducing more vegetarian-friendly meals in the household and sharing some of the benefits of eating less meat i.e. so we can eat healthier and make a lesser environmental footprint as a family.

Ingredients (quantity of each is up to your preference–we had an equal proportion of carrot, tofu, lettuce, and mushroom):

  • carrots
  • extra firm tofu
  • lettuce
  • Chinese mushroom
  • dumpling skin
  • 1-3 eggs (as a binding agent for your dumpling filling)
  • corn starch


  1. Soak the Chinese mushroom in water. As the mushroom is soaking, scrub the carrots realllly well.
  2. Shred the carrots and lettuce using a grater.
  3. Dice up the tofu and mushroom into small pieces, approximately the same sizes as the grated carrots and lettuce.
  4. Mix the carrots, tofu, lettuce, mushroom, and eggs together to make your dumpling filling πŸ™‚
  5. Lay out some plates and dust them with corn starch.
  6. Pour some water and corn starch together (they act as the sealing agent for your dumpling skin).
  7. Lay the dumpling skin open in your hand and put a small dollop of filling in the center, dip your finger into the corn starch water and trace the edges of the skin, and seal the dumpling.
    **Tip: You can seal it by making folds by hand and overlapping each fold,Β orΒ you can cheat and take the easy way out by folding the skin precisely in half and using a fork to press the edges firmly until it’s completely sealed!
  8. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all of your filling or skin. You can save the filling to make some stir-fry dish with noodles or soup! Depending on how many dumplings you’d like to cook, you can put the rest in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
  9. Boil a small pot of vegetable stock and throw in your dumplings and keep an eye on the pot, stirring occasionally so the dumplings don’t stick together. When you see the skin start to become transparent, you’ll know they’re ready! Since they are fresh, unfrozen dumplings, they should take approximately 3-5 minutes to cook.

You can now enjoy your healthy, homemade veggie dumplings in vegetable broth on a cold winter day πŸ™‚



7 Habits to Adopt in 2018

Can you believe 2018 is already here?! These past few months have whizzed by so quickly and I don’t think I’ve registered that we’re starting a new year already :O My time in SE Asia has really changed my perspective and outlook on life, and I want 2018 to push me forward and help me succeed personally and professionally. I’m sharing 7 habits I’d like to begin for the new year and hope that I can finally stick to them this time around hehe. Enjoy!

  1. Make my bed every morning.
    I read somewhere that people who don’t make their beds are more driven in the workplace and have better things to do than to waste time making their beds, and as much as I’d like to agree with that, I think doing one small organizational thing in the morning can set the tone for the day.
  2. Read before bedtime.
    I am a chronic social media addict, and I used to track the number of hours I’d use my social media apps…it was pretty scary. For the new year, I want to set aside my phone at night and just get back into reading a good book to end my day.

    It’s taking me way longer than I want to finish this book, but it’s really good! A must-read for those who are interested in Public Health
  3. Practice meditation at least 1x a day.
    I have heard the benefits of meditation for managing stress and anxiety, and promoting relaxation and a healthier lifestyle. There are plenty of apps to help you get into meditation, such as Headspace! If you’re short on time, there are meditations that are as short as 1-5 minutes.
  4. Purchase responsibly.
    Because we live in a developed country, it’s easy to take for granted our ability to buy things on a whim. We often buy fast fashionΒ when something catches our eye and we don’t consider whether we’ll still love it when years pass. I’ve really cut back on shopping at the quick and cheap retail stores because

    • I don’t want to own a million articles of clothing and not wear them later on
    • cheap clothes wear out and don’t last AKA their quality usually sucks
    • many of the clothes are not produced responsibly
  5. Cook at least 3x a week.
    When I was in Cambodia, I never had a fully functional kitchen to work with for over three months! I didn’t realize how much I missed cooking and being able to be creative in the kitchen and make things up as I go and surprise myself by the flavor profile of my dishes. It brings me joy to make something that others can eat πŸ™‚ Also, I have cookbooks gifted by my friends that have been dying to be used: Vegan, Jack’s Wife Freda,Β  But I Could Never Go Vegan!
  6. Embrace creativity.
    When I was younger, I used to take art classes in and out of school, and thought it was kind of a chore…but as I grew up, I realized that I did enjoy when I would make some semi-decent pieces and received positive feedback for them! Now, I’m not limited to just a paint canvas or sketch book, but I like to bullet journal and blog as another way to share my creativity with the world and with you! πŸ™‚
  7. Work on my handwriting.
    In my immediate family, I supposedly have the “best” handwriting, but that’s only when I’m trying. When I am in a rush to take notes in class or jotting down information from a phone call, it can quickly go downhill to start looking like scribbles on a piece of paper. Bullet journaling has given me the opportunity to be more conscious of how I write, and to make improvements when I see that changes can be made πŸ™‚ I just need to keep up with it regularly and see the transformation over the year!

Thanks for reading! I hope that by sharing my 2018 goals that I will stick to it and maybe inspire some of you to set some goals for yourself πŸ™‚ What changes would you like to make for the new year? Comment below!





4 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

As 2017 is coming to a close, we look back on the accomplishments we have made, and also think about the things we could have done differently. My experience working in Cambodia has reaffirmed my passion to work in the field of public health. Knowing that I can contribute meaningfully to a community is rewarding in and of itself and I feel like I’m a changed woman! My mother visited me when I was working in Cambodia and reminded me that in the past, I used to say that I wanted to make six figures so I could live comfortably, but seeing how people can be so happy with so little has really changed my life goals.

So how can one give back this holiday season if they can’t commit to working abroad for free for three months? I have some suggestions!

  1. Volunteer at a local organization. This can be anywhere from a homeless shelter, hospital, soup kitchen, food pantry, animal shelter, charity etc. Time is priceless…especially when you live in a big, bustling city like NYC. If you are willing to give up your time, even if it’s as little as one hour, you are making a difference to the people that you’re serving and helping.

    cool soup kitchen volunteer collection
    I’ve volunteered at soup kitchens and food pantries before, and it’s so fun! It’s great to meet the people you are serving and to let them know you are rooting for them!
  2. Donate to a charity. We are constantly bombarded by television ads to donate to this organization, or that organization, but how many of us go the extra step to actually call the number or visit the website to donate? There are plenty of organizations that could use your help! If you are unsure where to donate and if an organization is legitimate, you can visit Charity Navigator to look up each organization’s work and its rating before you make your decision.
    • (this is my shameless plug because of my transformative experience working in Cambodia this fall heh) I’ve had the pleasure to work for the Cambodian Community Dream Organization these past three months and see the great work they do in three main areas: Clean Water, Education, and Health and Wellbeing. By working in the field and seeing where the donations are going, I can personally vouch for the integrity of this organization whose goal is to transform the lives of the people living in rural Siem Reap.

      Here is the CCDO’s water well construction crew hard at work to build a water well within a day! These water wells are shared between 2-3 families (approximately 10 people), increasing water access and reducing the amount of time it takes to fetch water from another source. With each water well donation, the CCDO also provides a ceramic water filter so the families may drink safe, potable water πŸ™‚
  3. Purchase a stranger’s groceries. I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet, but I can imagine how happy this stranger would be if they are struggling with the bills and making ends meet, and a kind individual such as yourself helps to lessen their burden just a bit and brighten their day or week.
  4. Buy a meal for and talk to a homeless person. For all of us who are not rich, we legitimately can be one paycheck away from being homeless. People are faced with unfortunate circumstances that can lead to them losing their homes and being pushed onto the street. Not all homeless people are drug addicts or alcoholics. Many are down on their luck and are seeking just a little bit of kindness from passersby. No one wants to feel invisible or that they are subhuman. If you can afford it, try to buy someone on the street a meal or two, and have a small chat with them. A little kindness can go a long way.

    My friend snuck a photo of me a few years back giving food to someone in the city

I am happy to share a few below that I’ve heard great things about or have personally been involved in the past πŸ™‚

  • New York Cares – tons of opportunities to volunteer in a variety of areas in the five boroughs
  • Project Sunshine – a nonprofit that is in four countries that provides free recreational programming to pediatric patients to brighten their days πŸ™‚ If you are in the US, Canada, Israel or Kenya, you can apply to volunteer with PS!
  • Housing Works – its mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS through advocacy, provision of services, and entrepreneurial businesses. I volunteered at their thrift store back in undergrad and their retail staff is great!
  • UBELONG – I volunteered with them twice before, and had amazing times during both of my experiences. You can volunteer at an international location in a variety of different projects, spanning from as short as one week to as many as multiple months!

Happy Giving! I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season πŸ™‚



Review: Package Free

Hey y’all! For those of you who live in the tri-state area, particularly in NYC, you may have heard that a zero waste shop opened up in Williamsburg. Founders Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers and Daniel Silverstein of zero waste danielΒ are making it easier for curious consumers like us to live a more sustainable, less wasteful life.

As you may have known from my previous post on my public health blog, I’m really fascinated and on board with the zero waste movement, and I follow quite a few bloggers and vloggers talk about their tips and journeys toward a zero waste life.

So going to the store was everything I had hoped it would be. Nothing was out of place. The walls were decorated with decals that resembled rooms of a home, and each table was immaculate with themed zero waste products.

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I’ll be honest with you, the price isn’t the cheapest, but I would argue that it’s an investment towards reducing your environmental footprint and just treating the planet a little bit better by producing less waste (in the form of saying no to plastic and one-time use items, and recycling/reusing/composting items that you can).

I got myself a airtight stainless steel container, a cloth grocery bag for any fine items I may purchase in the future, tea tree and charcoal bar soap, and a little cloth napkin that’s probably softer than a baby’s bottom hah! The best part about my shopping haul was that I didn’t produce ANY trash, and I was able to just recycle the stainless steel container for them to reuse again πŸ™‚

What zero waste products do you own at home? What do you do to live a more sustainable life?

Thanks for reading!!

Can Cities Become Zero Waste?

I want to hear your thoughts on if you think our cities can become zero waste? Does your city or country have zero waste initiatives? Let’s open a dialogue and talk about it! Check out my post on my thoughts about this opportunity πŸ™‚

Zero Waste: The Compost Bins Have Arrived!

HAPPY TUESDAY, Y’ALL! I’m gonna write a quick post just to share my joy about this morning. We finally received our compost bins and we’re so excited to move forward with the #zerowaste movement at home πŸ™‚


So what is “zero waste“? Zero waste is a lifestyle where you will produce little to no waste, so none of your trash ends up in landfills or incinerators. People who embrace the zero waste lifestyle usually commit to a plastic-free life, since most plastics never just disappear from earth; they only break down into tiny little microparticles that can be ingested by our sea animals and pollute our lands.

Here are some of my favorite zero waste blogs:

There are some companies that have embraced recycling and repurposing plastic items into other items, such as:

  • Rothy’s: recycling plastic to create durable, stylish, and most importantly sustainable flats. I once saw them in person on a woman at a food fair in Brooklyn, and it looked stunning in person, as well! (Hey Rothy’s, I’d love to test your shoes out and write a review on my blog ^_^)
  • Playback Clothing: uses plastic waste with clothing scraps to make sustainable clothing items
  • Preserve:Β collects recycled goods and makes toothbrushes and kitchenware

And what about “composting”?Β Composting is “nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost”.

cSome quick stats about waste in America:

  • the average American produces approximately 4.5 pounds of trash PER DAY. I did the math: that’s 1,642.5 pounds PER YEAR! (Source: EPA)
  • Americans only recycle about 34% of their waste (source: Planet Aid)
  • More fun, but alarming trash facts can be found here!

I would love to hear about your zero waste lifestyles wherever you are in the world πŸ™‚

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe and comment below so I know to post more on this topic.