There are plenty of commercials we tend to remember from our childhood due to their ostentatious or subliminal ways, but one commercial that always irked me were the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter ones. If you’ve never heard of the product, I’m sure you would’ve surmised by now that given the product’s title, it’s obviously margarine. These commercials stuck with you with sexualized hands–I honestly don’t know how they did it, but it was even obvious for 10-year-old me to understand the sexual innuendos–& this surprised husband who would eat his toast with what he thought was butter. Fast forward to today, it’s no surprise that margarine, which is made up of hydrogenated oils, is 10/10 disgustingly horrible for you. However, that doesn’t mean that the vegan butter you see at your local health foods or specialty store are margarine. Take a gander at the ingredients list & if you don’t see anything with “hydrogenated oil,” or even partially hydrogenated, you’re okay!

So, why are hydrogenated oils so bad for you? Well, you could take a general chemistry class & then an intro to organic chemistry class to fully comprehend it, but the quick & dirty explanation is simple: hydrogenating oils means adding a hydrogen molecule to a molecular structure, making it more stable at room temperature after intensive science (adding metal catalysts, intense heat & pressure being added, etc). This new molecular structure is often compared to being similar to plastic, especially because the process increases shelf-life. Unless it’s honey, food should always eventually rot. But, what does all of this mean? Not very pleasant things for your body, so avoid it at all costs.

However, that’s where some of the other alternative vegan butters come in such as Earth Balance, Nutiva, & SmartBalance. In fact, I decided to change it up from Earth Balance & tried Nutiva for my two recipes. If you’re looking for an animal friendly product, search for some of these brands in the grocery store & you can get to cooking tons of vegan-friendly food without even realizing it! These two new recipes I’ve just added are absolutely perfect for the holidays & are vegan-friendly. Now onto pictures of my fancy mashed potatoes & gravy.

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For those of us on the Northern Hemisphere, many of us have anxiously awaited this spectacular 3 month span of this wonderful orange globular fruit to grace the aisles of our grocery store. This season is aptly named Pumpkin Season. It’s here. It’s at Starbucks. Pumpkins in all shapes & sizes are being stacked at our local farmers’ markets & I want to buy a little family of mini pumpkins to adorn my fireplace, but I really can’t justify the cost of doing so. For those of you who don’t really care all that much for pumpkin pie because there’s something wrong with you (if you’re allergic, I’m so sorry), I’ve added a new recipe for a savory Japanese inspired dish called Pumpkin Nabe with Soba. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have gotten admitted into Northeastern this time of year, obviously for the academic part, but the location of the school is majestic. While California is sweating in a sweltering heat, I’m gearing up for Autumn & snow to follow soon after. Can y’all say, “cover photos for days” or what?! Hah, just kidding, totally hate Facebook. I’ll realistically have new desktop wallpapers for days.

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I just wanted to thank all of you who wished me well on my move to Boston. In the world of food blogging, it’s really quite rare that people will actually read what you write, so I’m thankful to those that take the time to read my blurbs. While many of you might be a bunch of internet strangers, I appreciate the generosity & support you’ve shown me as my blog & academic career continue to move forward. Here are a bunch of pictures of food I ate &/or made that I forgot to put up. For more posts on pictures of food I ate, explore my Foodie Fridays category.

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Hello, Boston!

One of the questions I like to frequently ask my culinary inclined friends is what their specialty dish is. Some say tacos, while others say nachos. That was obviously a semi-clever attempt to rhyme, but realistically, some say enchiladas, while others have said grilled steak–which I think is easier than making instant ramen so I press on for something more complex. So, what do I say when someone turns the question to me? Without skipping a beat, my reply is always, “noodles.” Whether the noodles are Asian, Italian, or Jewish, I have a natural love & knack for making great noodle-y dishes. Baked, raw, stir-fried, steamed, soaked, or freshly made, I can easily whip you up a bowl of delicious noodles whether you prefer them in soups, alone, or as a dipping tool. I suppose you’d like me to provide some troth of my noodle specialty, to which I say to you, NO PROBLEMO, AMIGO/A.

Here’s a real conversation I just had with Josh as I type this at 12:29 AM on the day after his birthday:

Me: Hey Josh, what would you say is my ultimate culinary specialty?
Josh: *swivels around from his computer chair to face me* Noodles & Asian fusion.

See, I can’t even make this up. Now that my boyfriend has totally verified my capabilities, let’s get on with this recipe I’ve just posted, which I previewed on Instagram last month. I bring you my Mediterranean inspired Hearty Alphabet Soup recipe. It’s vegetarian & vegan friendly too! It’s not exactly Asian fusion, but it does feature noodles & childhood nostalgia.

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My mother has a stellar memory bank for numbers & fun stories, so she’d often tell us her hilarious childhood stories as she drove us to school. However, not all the stories she told were her own; many of them were ours. One childhood story my mom frequently told was how I used to sing lullabies to my baby brother, but with silly lyrics that were reflective of my language acquisition at that age such as phrases on mowing the grass. A story my mom still loves to tell is how Toddler Tiffany used to absolutely love squatting down in the snow, grabbing a handful of it, & just eating it like it were a doughnut. I may have been born in the spring, but I swear my ethos/spirit animal is a beluga whale. Sad news for Adult Tiffany: there’s no snow in Southern California for me to eat. Adult Tiffany prefers winter over summer. Adult Tiffany thinks speaking in third person is really lame, but for some reason, is still doing it.

So, what about all of those summer recipes you keep posting then, you ask? Listen, you can’t fault me for capitalizing on the season, its fresh fruits, & great recipe inspirations that come with it. Just because I’m bad with heat, doesn’t mean I don’t love the recipes of the season! Now that I’m back from my holiday, I’m posting two new recipes. Since California is experiencing the worst drought in the history of recorded droughts, it’s not exactly wise for us to be participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, however you can still do something to help spread the word & donate to the cause. You can dump pool water on yourself while you’re in a pool or ice water while you’re standing over an area of your garden that needs watering. What else can you do? Well, shoot, just make some ice pops or an iced tea, social media that thing, & head on over to to donate! No offense to the guy who came up with the challenge, but I’d rather do something useful with ice than to let it go to waste. Tired of ice pops & iced tea recipes, you say? How about sangria with boba instead?

With my love for boba & Two Buck Chuck, why not combine the two with some fresh fruit & juice for a delicious original concoction for your next Sunday Brunch? So, how do you trick your tastebuds into thinking you’re on a tropical holiday you ask? Well, follow the simple steps below. (Remember to hover over the images for captions.)

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