5 Healthy Snacks to Keep You Running for Finals Week

I used to be a pretty healthy eater, but with busy schedules and the convenience of junk food, most of my culinary standards have gone out the window. However, I’ve found that while chips and soda might satisfy my craving for flavor in the moments that I am drinking and eating them, I feel awful afterwards and my body is left in an even more sluggish state than prior to consumption. Being in a state of physical and mental clarity is more important than ever for finals, so for finals week, I am determined to reverse those bad eating habits and take on some good brain food. Here is what I’ve been drinking/eating:

  1. OJ – Sometimes I want an alternative beverage to water and milk. Replacing soda with orange juice is the answer. OJ is naturally sweet and is much better for the body than any carbonated beverage. Some dining halls on campus even offer a press to allow students to freshly squeeze their own orange juice! If you’ve ever done that, you know that it takes at least 4-6 oranges to extract a decent glass of juice, so think of how much equivalent fruit you are consuming just by drinking a glass of OJ. Not to mention, ’tis the flu season so Vitamin C is very essential for a healthy immune system.
  2. Yogurt – Cornell loves Chobani and I do too. I didn’t always like yogurt, but something about the promise of probiotics in a cup grew on me (My apartmentmates are both sick right now, so strengthening my immune system is very important to me.). If you ever find yourself in a dilemma of wanting to “stress eat” but should not eat any more (sounds like a First World Problem, I know), try eating some yogurt. Its enzymes help promote digestion but also leave you feeling fuller, meaning you’re less likely to “stress eat” again.
  3. Beef Jerky – Beef jerky is not exactly the healthiest snack in the world, but I do view it as better than a quarter-pounder burger. It’s convenient to pack for an extra dose of energy for long hours of studying. My only complaint is that the packaging is quite wasteful compared to the amount of meat in each bag.
  4. Pumpkin Seeds – There are many health benefits to eating pumpkin seeds but my reason is simply that my apartment had a pumpkin leftover from Halloween, and I did not want to waste it. Thus, after gutting the insides of the pumpkin, I roasted the seeds (250F, overnight) and had a nutritious snack. Otherwise, pumpkin seeds can be found in trail mix, already unshelled and salted. Pumpkin seeds are not filling per se, but can be good supplements to a healthy diet — like natural vitamins!
  5. Edamame – The introduction of edamame (soy beans) to the frozen isle (in the grocery store) was an amazing moment in freezer space history. Cooking edamame is a simple 2-step process (dump and boil) that leads to deliciousness. Again, there are a lot of health benefits, but what I personally like is the ease, convenience, and efficiency in making the beans: the entire procedure is 20-minutes maximum, I don’t have to watch over the stove while it’s boiling, and there’s no such thing as over-cooking. As with most beans, edamame is also very filling, making it a very effective snack.

Images courtesy of mrfish.uk.com, ebnaturalmedicine.com, essentialbread.com, cookinglight.timeinc.net, and examiner.com, respectively.

Into the Streets

This weekend, I participated in Into the Streets, Cornell’s annual day of volunteerism and service. This wasn’t my first time volunteering, but it was certainly the most memorable.

Into the Streets is a collection of projects designed to benefit the local community. Student groups sign up as teams and are then assigned to a project for the day. During my freshman year, we taught residents the importance of energy saving and went door-to-door, handing out CFL light bulbs. Other groups have helped rebuild nearby towns such as Owego, after a bad flood. This time, my organization, the Chinese Students Association (CSA) packaged books for inmates as part of the Books Through Bars program.

Books Through Bars (BTB) is an external nonprofit prisoner education program dependent entirely on donations and volunteerism from the local community. Incarcerated individuals around the country write to various chapters asking for certain genres of books, sometimes alluding to specific titles. Volunteers then scour the stacks of donated books to find matches, and then package them to be sent to the inmates.

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. As college students, we’re blessed with the gift of education every day. We often even view this “bombardment” of knowledge as a burden, complaining about homework, projects, and prelims. While we mindlessly surf through the pages of the world wide web — researching whatever might catch our fancy at each instant — and flip through the chapters of our readings — grumbling about the inconvenience of carrying textbooks up the slope — prisoners at jails around the country wait months just to write a letter to the BTB program, imploring for almost any kind of book to fill their minds. Sometimes, the letters are personal, full of gratitude, from individuals who have received a package from BTB before. (One inmate wrote that he had not watched TV in years because he had been too busy reading!) Other times, the penman is new, just starting to learn to read and write, with the simple request of a dictionary. Of course, there are also the “troll” letters asking for illicit material, which we cannot send. With each letter, one gets a glimpse into the life of a person who has done wrong, is starting to reform, and is thirsty to learn.

As our guide explained, “they’ll read anything you give to them.” Requests for books on history, science fiction, fantasy, law, poetry, mystery, and various cultural topics were the most common. The program does not have external funding* to buy new books, so all materials are the aftermath of various donation programs, dump and runs, and charities. Numerous copies of books from Cornell’s famed “New Student Reading Program” made the collection, sandwiched between texts from as old as the 19th century. On tables lied piles of obscure titles of one-hit-wonders. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the authors of these novels ever anticipated their “next generation thriller” would reach the bars of prison, and if so, would they have written the story differently? One likes to write to target the general population but it is often the outliers who end up with these works. Perhaps there should be developed a set of books that would both engage the bored minds of prisoners, and provide reforming educational knowledge. After all, as they have shown, they are more than willingly to read.

With these thoughts, I stepped onto a crowded TCAT Bus after our shift.

“Step away from the back door,” the bus driver addressed to passengers who were blocking one of the doors.
“Ay man, move away from the door,” a scruffy looking rider repeated. “Door! D – O – O!” A round of stifled, embarrassed chuckles followed suit.

On the other hand, perhaps before bringing education to the prisons, we should first work on education in Ithaca.

* In this way, many BTB chapters have found it difficult to sustain themselves and are beginning to close. The Ithaca chapter that we helped at will close at the end of the year.


This week, I finally gave in to the hype and made an Instagram account.

For those who don’t know, Instagram is a mobile social media platform that specializes in sharing photos. It’s known for allowing users to apply various filters and treatments (for artistic effect) to the snapshots before publishing the photos online, so that even the most amateur pictures will show with a special touch. Like Twitter, which is mostly used to share verbal witticisms, Instagram offers an audience wider than one’s direct network by the use of #hashtags as subject organizers.

Some of my friends have  been trying to convince me to use Instagram for a while now. They reasoned that since I constantly take pictures, Instagram would be a good medium for me to share those captures without clogging up Facebook feeds. LOL. However, I did not want to make another social media account for the sake of having one “because everyone else had one.” Thus, I’ve held out until now. For me, the appeal of Instagram is the ease with which I can post photos online. The Facebook mobile app does not handle photos very well and transferring photos to my computer for blog posts is always at least a 2-step process. With Instagram, I can share each moment almost Instantaneously.

This summer, I “got my feet wet” in the social media world by posting photos of my home-cooked meals on Tumblr.  I plan on continuing a similar dialogue with my new Instagram account, which I will use to write “microblogs” about my daily life at Cornell. Hope you guys enjoy! Follow me here: Instagram