Michelle Phan: Recipe for a Comeback

Okay, who else has been following beauty guru Michelle Phan for almost ten years? Join the club! I was really surprised last week when a video popped up on YouTube by her called “Why I Left.” Honestly, I didn’t even realize she had left, but I always like to see what she’s up to since she’s super successful so I checked it out.

It turns out that Michelle Phan left YouTube for almost a year and made a big comeback to YouTube recently. Her story is really inspiring; I learned a lot about her that I didn’t realize:

  • Her family struggled throughout her childhood, so one of her main motivations to succeed on YouTube was to support her family. She actually helped her mom (formerly a salon beautician) retire early and boasts over 8.9 million subscribers on YouTube!
  • She left YouTube for the same reason that I did: depression.
  • She struggles with insecurities too, even about her looks. After her year off, she now has a new mantra: “Don’t just look beautiful. Feel beautiful.”

So, as a little tribute to her, I tried out some of her old school, DIY facial masks made out of food and made a video featuring a recipe using the leftover ingredients. I also talk more about her comeback story; Michelle Phan is a great example of this season’s theme — Get Your (Cooking) Rhythm Back.

click photo to watch video!:

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Speaking of getting back in touch with yourself, I actually featured this recipe on my blog a LONG time ago (a few years after transitioning from Xanga, haha). Did you know? Dining at Tiffany’s was formerly known as “Tidbits at Tiffany’s!”

You can find the recipe for the dish I made in the video here: Tomato Egg Sauté.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions! I’m always here to listen if you are going to something and need someone to talk to. I’m here for you!

 

With love,

Tiffany R.

5-Ingredient Granola Bars to Overcome Your Shortcomings

We all have our shortcomings; they can often make us feel pretty bad about ourselves. And it’s worse when I’m going through a depressive episode — it goes a little something like this:

Hey, shortcomings, you must be tired… ‘cuz you’ve been running through my mind all day 😉

Haha, but really, it happens that way. I will replay an embarrassing moment in my head over and over again.. sometimes even months or years later. So on top of the consequences of the mistake or shortcoming, I experience additional, self-inflicted suffering. It’s a terrible cycle. Do you ever do that?

Lately, I’ve been trying to break this cycle. I think of ways to prevent myself from repeating the same embarrassing mistake. Or I’ll actually work on breaking bad habits and making good ones. Today’s video is an example of how I’ve done that while simultaneously teaching you how to make super easy granola bars. Enjoy!

click photo to watch episode 3.2!

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5-Ingredient Banana Granola Bars
makes 10 granola bars

Ingredients:
– 3 mashed bananas that are about to go bad
– 1/2 cup nut butter of your choice
– 1.5 cups of quick oats
– 3/4 cup chopped nuts
– 1/4 cup cacao nibs (or chocolate/ PB chips)

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. In a large bowl, mix the nut butter into the bananas until smooth.
3. Add the quick oats and stir until evenly distributed.
4. Mix in the nuts & cacao nibs.
5. Spread into a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking pan.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
7. Cool completely, then cut into 10 bars.
8. Wrap individually (optional) & store in the fridge or an air-tight container.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, please take a photo and show me (@DiningAtTiffs #DiningAtTiffs). Also, if you need some guidance or ideas for overcoming your specific shortcoming, feel free to comment or message me privately. I’m always here to talk. 🙂
With love,

Tiffany R.

 

How to Cook Salmon When You’re Depressed

[salmon recipe below]

It’s been over 2 years since I last posted videos on YouTube and that’s for a few reasons. I got very sick with depression and it was difficult to pick myself back up and often times even to get out of bed. I hadn’t been cooking very much because my mental health was suffering, so I didn’t feel right teaching others to cook if I wasn’t cooking myself. Lastly, and maybe even most importantly, I was intimidated and didn’t feel good enough. In the last few years on social media, the “foodie” culture blew up. Everyone was posting all these beautiful pictures of food and I felt like my food didn’t measure up anymore. Who was I to make videos?

But as I started to get better and do some soul searching I realized and remembered that the main purpose of cooking isn’t about making something to photograph and filter. It’s about feeding yourself and others and making dishes that make you feel good. Not everything has to be Pinterest-worthy (or “Pinterest AF” as my friends would say, hehe).

I figured that others might be feeling the same way about cooking too, which is why Season 3 is called “Get Your (Cooking) Rhythm Back.” I want to show you that you can cook good food even if you’re not feeling your best. There’s always a way to get your rhythm back.

This is why my first recipe for Season 3 is Salmon En Papillote; it sounds fancy, but it’s incredibly easy to make! 

And, as a bonus, salmon happens to be really good for your brain health and mood because it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids – a good kind of fat! By eating salmon and other foods rich in omega-3s (walnuts, flax and chia seeds, seaweed, leafy greens, etc.), you can give your brain some TLC and can feel better mentally too! Enjoy:

click photo to watch!Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 9.50.41 PM.png

Easiest Salmon En Papillote Ever (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of salmon fillet, 4-6oz each
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • 10-12 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Instructions:

Basically, you’ll wrap all these ingredients in parchment paper and bake it in the oven. Here’s a breakdown of how to do that:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175° C). If you’re using a toaster oven, you can skip this step.
  2. Take a sheet of parchment paper, about 12×12 inches. Fold it in half, crease it, then unfold it. Lay it down on a flat surface.
  3. Add 1/2 cup baby spinach just to the side of the crease to make a little bed for the salmon. Season the spinach with a little bit of salt & pepper.
  4. Next, lay the salmon atop the bed of spinach. Season the salmon with a little bit of salt & pepper as well.
  5. Then, add 5-6 cherry tomatoes on top of and beside the piece of salmon.
  6. Drizzle with about 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  7. Fold the parchment paper over the salmon & veggies. Starting on one side, fold and crease the paper toward the middle of the salmon, creating a tight seal. When you get to the end, tuck the remaining paper underneath (see video for tutorial).
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 with the second piece of salmon and remaining veggies.
  9. Put the salmon in the oven/ toaster oven for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Serve by placing on a plate and unwrapping or cutting open the parchment. This can be eaten alone or with a side of rice, pasta, or potatoes.

As I mention in the video, you can really do any combination of veggies when making Salmon En Papillote; personally, I’m a fan of asparagus and lemon. You can also add things like green beans, bell peppers, shallots, etc. Herbs like dill and thyme work really nicely as well. Get creative and put your favorite veggies in!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! I’m also always open to share resources for coping with depression and other mental struggles. I’m here for you. 🙂

With love,

Tiffany

And we’re back!! Watch the Season 3 Trailer!

Hi everyone!!

I’m so thrilled to announce that Dining at Tiffany’s is back on YouTube for Season 3 (woooo!!!). This season is called “Get Your (Cooking) Rhythm Back!” Together, we’ll explore simple, delicious recipes — most of which use less than 10 ingredients and require very little prep. This season is catered to you if you’re learning how to cook for the first time or if you’re trying to get back into the rhythm of cooking at home.

I’ll also be sharing stories about where I’ve been and what I’ve gone through during the last two and a half years since I last released a video (December 2014). I hope my message can inspire you to get your own rhythm back, whether you’re trying to get through a tough time, overcome a transition, or move forward with an idea you’ve been thinking about for years.

Speaking of which, I came up with the vision for this trailer years ago. It’s inspired by Anna Kendrick’s mashup mastery in Pitch Perfect, but with my own culinary twist — all the drum beats were made by recording sounds from the kitchen! So I hope you enjoy this trailer and the rest of Season 3.

When we think about taking things for granted, we often think in terms of how we do this to other people or the things in our lives. But sometimes we don’t realize that we take ourselves for granted. This song in this trailer reflects our inner voice singing to us, encouraging us to not give up. 

Click this photo to watch the trailer!:image1.jpg

Episode one will be released on Thursday, June 1st! I’ll see you on YouTube! ❤

With love,

Tiffany

 

Under Construction – Renovation at Tiffany’s

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Hello, everyone!!!

It’s been awhile since my last video, but life offline has been quite eventful!

December: I hosted my first live cooking show in San Diego! I also decided to make #HungryNotThirsty a thing.

January: I celebrated my one year YouTube anniversary & hosted my 1st solo pop-up dessert bar via Beats & Brushes in San Diego! I also was approached & approved to become a teacher on Curious.com!

February: I made like a culinary cupid & delivered sweet/salty Valentines Day dishes in LA, LB, OC, & SD (The sale is over, but you can check out the menu here: http://bit.ly/TiffanyIsCupid2015).

In the background, I’ve been connecting with local musicians, artists, & food lovers from all over & reflecting on the next direction for Dining At Tiffany’s.

While it’s always been a possibility, becoming a full-time YouTuber was never the goal of making videos; it’s a big component of what I do, but my mission statement & vision of success is more about the bigger picture of education, empowerment, & enjoyment! Here is a snapshot of the very first business plan I created before I got started:

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In revisiting my creative vision, personal values, & intentional goals, I realized that a lot of them can & should be accomplished in person. I also learned that the best version of a personal business is one that authentically represents the owner’s lifestyle.

(Aside from breaking stereotypes & demolishing tiles for mosaic art projects), one of my favorite activities is connecting people in ways that can help each other grow together toward making dreams reality &, hopefully as a byproduct, make the world a better place. I’ve also been fine-tuning ways to integrate my main commitment of pursuing my Masters in Counseling into my creative work. I used to describe Dining At Tiffany’s as my “side hustle,” but I’ve realized there’s a way to bring both of my passions to the forefront of my priorities. For example, Season 2 – Comfort Food Remix was a great opportunity to apply my coursework and skills I’ve learned now that I’m halfway to my degree. I was pleasantly surprised that sharing my story about overcoming struggles through YouTube and my writing encouraged others to reach out and share with me in turn. As much as I love it when you all cook using my recipes, I find it equally, if not more, fulfilling that I get to connect with a number of you on a deeper, personal level. You all are wonderful. I like you so much! 🙂

As I move forward with Dining At Tiffany’s, I’m blessed to have found the strength, guidance, & motivation to develop a solid plan for making that all happen in an elevated way. There is so much goodness in store to prep & cook up for you all. So BRB, internet! I just need some time away real quick to make these dreams into reality.

Me last night at the very cafe table where I drafted my business plan over a year ago.

Me the other night at the very cafe table where I drafted my business plan over a year ago. #makeithappen #passionplanner

In the meantime, you can find more interactive versions of my cooking videos here, along with tons of other resources to make your own dreams into reality, too! I gotchu ;).

Also, since Dining At Tiffany’s is currently under construction, I’m open and curious about your ideas & feedback. Some of you have approached me about collaborating or being featured in my videos in events. Sound like you? Hit me up (@diningattiffs / DiningAtTiffanys@gmail.com)!

Until next time, I wish you all days & nights full of good food & good conversation. ❤

With love,

Tiffany R.

Dining At Tiffany’s

Comfort Food Confessions (+ Ooey-Gooey Mac & Cheese with Roasted Brussel Sprouts!)

Smile – we made it! This is the final full episode of Season 2 – Comfort Food Remix. Many thanks for tuning in and being so supportive on this journey. Aside from using this season as an excuse for me to eat a lot of carbs (lol), I’ve really appreciated everyone’s support as I’ve opened up to share more personal parts of my story. Thank you!!

Click here to watch the video (recipe below)

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 12.05.29 PMTo show my appreciation, I am divulging a secret to you all; while I framed a lot of this season around getting over heartbreak, it was a cover-up of sorts. All my reflections and advice about getting over hard times are really about another battle I’ve been fighting. It’s about how I learned to manage a bad bout of depression that knocked me down from about April – October this year.

I wrote the following article on my 26th birthday in September, from the pit of one of the lowest points of my life. I never thought I’d share this until way in the future when I was “ready,” but if there was ever a time for real talk, it’s now.

I want to show you that it’s possible to overcome great defeats. I’ve talked a lot about moving forward in the last few posts, but I know one of the biggest struggles can be getting up after a really bad fall. If you’re going through rough times, here is some comfort I wanna feed you:

  • You are not alone.
  • There is hope. There is purpose in the pain (Frankl, 1946)*.
  • Things will get better, often sooner than you could have ever imagined.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, I want to help. I truly believe that the purpose of pain is so we can in turn help others through our compassion & understanding. I wrote some lessons about my experience below and am more than open to having a conversation or assisting you out in any way I can. We’re in this together.

September 8, 2014

“Today I am 26. Like every year, I’ve had significant experiences. I met a lot of people, travelled to new places, and learned many lessons. I had my ups and downs, endings and beginnings. During the happiest of highs, my catch phrase would be  “Twenty-Five, Feeling Alive!”  Little did I know that just a few months later, my life would plummet in the opposite direction.

I’m pretty open about my depression and anxiety. It helps a little bit to express myself, and more importantly, I want to encourage others struggling with mental health troubles to move past any shame, embarrassment, or fear and get help like I did. I actually wish I’d gotten help much sooner, because it was almost too late. 

I spent my summer contemplating whether or not I wanted make it to my 26th birthday.

I’m not here to talk about where my depression stemmed from
– It’s in the past and there’s nothing we can do about that now
– It’s multi-faceted, and if I truly understood it all myself, I’d probably be a lot better by now. 

I’m here to elucidate the process of “getting help.” This is not the happiest of articles, but it’s the truth. And being real is helpful, I think.  

1. Deciding to get help is a step in the right direction. But only one step of many. 

Just as we can’t just inject a patient with diabetes with gallons of insulin and call it a day, healing from depression takes more than quick-fix doses of happy times. Therapy and medication helped, but by the time I got them, my condition was pretty severe. The deeper you sink into the depression, the harder you’ll have to fight to get out. 

Finding the right treatment can be a complicated process. You won’t get along with every therapist, and not every medication will work for you. Try to stay patient, and if possible, ask for help with getting help. Trying to sift through databases of treatment centers adds even more stress to your condition. 

There is no instant gratification. Sources of relief can be fickle and transient. So, be prepared for a tiresome journey.

2. Especially because your depressed self will resist everything that everyone tells you to do. 

From my experience with mental health professionals, being a counseling student, and extensive online research trying to figure out depression relief, I found that these are the common suggestions:

a. Eat well
b. Exercise
c. Maintain a good sleep schedule
d. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones
e. Try to think positively 

We all know these are great things to do (even if you’re not depressed). Logically, it makes so much sense. But it just feels nearly impossible because the above steps are the exact inverse of our toughest symptoms.

a. Depression will cause you to lose your appetite, or crave really bad food. (Real talk: I gained close to 20 pounds in 2 months because all I wanted to eat was donuts, cocoa swirl cookie butter, and chocolate covered pretzels #AllCarbDiet #TheseSweatpantsAreTheOnlyThingsThatFitMeRightNow)

b. Exercise? I can barely get out of bed.

c. Speaking of which, my body wants to sleep all the time for lack of energy; my mind wants to stay asleep to escape the pain.

d. I don’t like myself very much most days, so I don’t don’t expect other people to either. This makes the idea of socializing scary – a foreign phenomenon for me. And the considerate part of me doesn’t want to be a drag of negative energy for whomever I encounter. Even texting people back is unbearable; with that, I’m really sorry to everyone who didn’t hear back from me this summerI’ll try to be better. I’m trying to get better.

e. All of the above lead to those feelings of guilt and worthlessness they always talk about in the Zoloft commercials.
3. You’ll feel very alone, even with the best support system.  
To add to those feelings of guilt, no matter how much your family and friends love you, they can’t make it better. The warmth from their comforting and encouraging words and deeds will wear off much quicker than you’d wish.  And then you’ll start to feel bad for not being able to feel better. You start to feel inadequate for getting to this point despite having a good life. You’ll hope that no one will take it personally like you have something against them. You’ll hope that they don’t think they failed or are at fault. No one knows the right thing to say to someone that’s depressed. But trust me, they’ll remember that you tried and that’s what matters.

They can surround you with love, but learning how to love yourself comes from within. In the times when your craving for isolation takes over, when you succumb to the darkness, it’s up to all the will and faith that you can muster to keep a grasp on to that speck of light.  

4. And so, the only thing you can do is look forward, even if you’re just barely inching by. 
Everyday contains one personal struggle after the other, as sleepless nights melt into daytime darkness. On the worst of days, even the simplest tasks of the day are unbearable. Getting out of bed, deciding what to wear, making cereal. It’s demoralizing, really. I’ve actually had multiple days straight where I didn’t leave my room. It’s been a few months since I stopped replying to messages. 

I don’t know if I’ll be back to my old self again. Accepting that fact removes some of the pressure to not only heal, but get to 110% again.”

As you can see, I was still in a very bad place in September. Shortly after writing this article, I seriously contemplated dropping out of school and giving up on this whole YouTube thing. It’s only been three months and I’m happy to report that a lot of the above steps really do work and I’m feeling better and stronger than ever. My faith at the time was, like, mustard seed status, but I’ve experienced the joy of seeing it grow into something more fruitful than I ever thought possible:

“32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” – Matthew 13:32

I still have days when I feel down in the dumps, but getting over depression isn’t about making all the negativity go away; it’s about learning how to find the ooey-gooey positivity in the situation, no matter what.

Recipe: Ooey Gooey Mac & Cheese with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

– 1 box of whole wheat macaroni

– 3-4 cloves garlic

– 2 tbsp butter

– 2 tbsp flour

– 3/4 cup tangy orange cheese (such as sharp cheddar!)

– 3/4 cup creamy white cheese (such as monterey jack!)

– 1-2 cups brussel sprouts

– 2 cups of whole milk (I like organic)

– 1-2 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

– olive oil

– salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Prep veggies

– Set oven to 400 F

– Roughly chop garlic & set aside

– Cut off ends of brussel sprouts & cut in half

– Toss brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt & pepper. Place on a cookie sheet (line with parchment paper or foil to make cleanup easier).

– Roast for 25-30 minutes, but after about 15 minutes, toss with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar & flip them all over.

– If the brussel sprouts finish before the mac & cheese, leave it the oven, but turn it down to 200 F.

  1. Mac & Cheese, please! 

– Boil pasta according to package instructions.

– Make a roux – cook garlic in butter medium heat until light brown. Add flour until light brown as well.

– Turn up the heat to medium-high & add the milk. Add a bit of salt & pepper. Whisk until well incorporated & heat until it starts to bubble.

– Turn the heat off & add the cheese. Stir until smooth and melty. Oh yes.

2.5 Do the Chicken (optional)

– Soak chicken in balsamic vinegar for at least 10 minutes

– cook in olive oil on both sides for at least 5 minutes on each side.

– Chicken is done when internal temperature is 165 F (No thermometer? Just slice it open & make sure there’s no pink. Rare chicken is NOT a thing, lol.)

– Remove from heat & let rest.

  1. Put it all together. Impress your friends. 

– Mix the cheese into the pasta.

– Add most of the brussel sprouts into the pasta & stir it in.

– Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized slices & mix those into the fun as well.

If you’ve read this far, here’s another oz. of encouragement:

*“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Thank you again for stopping by. Praying for hope & joy for you and yours this Christmas season!

With love,

Tiffany R.

Dining At Tiffany’s