Butternut Squash Boats

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Wow does it feel good to finally have some time to write up a recipe! Last weekend, I procrastinated studying by making these Butternut Squash Boats (maybe I should call them cruise-liners because these things are huge!), and this week, I procrastinated writing up the recipe by studying (procrastination karma? Is that a thing?)! So now that the exam is out of the way, I can talk about how I could sell my soul to squash! I was in complete awe a few weeks ago when I realized how many varieties of squash exist and my goodness are they all delicious! My excitement impaired my judgement and we ended up walking quite a number of blocks home with three very different, very heavy squashes (though I’ll be honest, no regrets! Free workout and good food? I’ll take it!).

With the butternut squash, I thought it would be fun to create a fall inspired, hearty, harvest bowl of sorts. I could not get over how gorgeous the squash looked and thought it would be fun to keep it’s integrity and make it a fun highlight of the meal! And thus, the Butternut Squash Boat was born! It was so incredibly easy to make – if you have a microwave, you’re set – and just “one boat” lasted four, very large meals, making it the perfect dish to also meal prep in bulk. We ended up slicing the the boat into four slices and ate them with an additional side of the salad mixture. This would also be a great dish to bring to a potluck or to have with friends as it is large, delicious, and easy on the eyes!

Ingredients (for 4 large meals!)

1/2 butternut squash (microwave it for a few minutes before, it makes cutting it in half a LOT easier!)

1 cup quinoa (cooked – I microwave it in two 4 intervals with 2 cups of water)

1 pepper (I used a yellow pepper but any works!)

1 cup arugula

1 can black beans

1 tablespoon tahini

2 tablespoons golden raisins (or any other raisin!)

3 tablespoons pistachios

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Hot sauce

Black pepper

Smoked paprika powder

Red cayenne powder

Cinnamon powder

Cumin powder

Directions

  1. Season the squash with cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, and red cayenne to taste and place in a dish face down. Add some water (just a little – depends on the size of the dish but enough that it creates an even layer) to the dish and microwave for about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add the juice of the half lemon, tahini, nutritional yeast, and smoked paprika to the quinoa and mix well.
  3. Throw in the black beans, chopped peppers, arugula, raisins, and pistachios and mix.
  4. When the squash is done microwaving, use a knife to create an outline of the chunk of squash you’re going to be removing from the whole piece to create the boat.
  5. Cut the area inside into cubes and scoop the cubes out and add them to the quinoa salad.
  6. After mixing the salad well, add some of the salad into the squash boat.
  7. Drizzle tahini and hot sauce on top of the squash boat and serve!

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We actually even roasted the seeds of the squash (and by roasted I mean microwaved them with seasoning for 2 minutes) and added them to the salad!

And there you go! Thank you for listening to me go on about the wonder that is squash! Do let me know if you get a chance to make these and let me know how it turns out!

Dental School Interviews: WHAT to WEAR!

I tend to immediately make intense eye contact with the floor of clothing stores upon entering so that nobody asks me if I need help looking for anything – not because I don’t need help (I’m fashionably illiterate at times!) but because I can never really articulate what I’m looking for! If they are able to break my staring contest with the ground, I normally shyly decline their help and proceed to wander around cluelessly before leaving empty-handed.

But until interview season, I had never owned or even worn a suit, so I immediately caved when the lovely ladies at Ann Taylor asked if I needed help. They kindly and patiently helped me put together so many different suit options and gave me their honest advice with each thing I tried on. If it hadn’t been for them, I definitely would have gone to my interviews looking like a lost Oompah Loompah! So today I thought I’d share some quick thoughts on how to go about picking what to wear for a dental school interview. This advice could also apply for interviews of any kind (med schools, labs, jobs, etc.)!

Forget traditional. I had gone to the mall thinking I’d end up with a black pant-suit with a white shirt, but ended up leaving with a grey skirt-suit with a light pink shirt instead! So don’t be afraid to get a suit that looks different from a traditional suit – go for one that makes you feel comfortable and makes you still feel like you. I know that’s a little hard considering most of us don’t wear suits on a daily basis, but choose something that works best for your body and your style so that you aren’t going to be tugging at the outfit all interview season long. For example, my suit jacket did not even have a strict collar, and while I was a little hesitant about that at first, the collar-less-ness meant that it was the only jacket that I felt was not completely swallowing my neck. I was scared that the softness of the grey color I went for would look informal, but it just felt more my style. Going for a light pink top instead of a white top worked better with the color of my suit and made the whole outfit feel a little warmer. When I later bought pants as well, I went for a loose pair of ankle pants rather than a long pair that I would find myself tripping over or needing to roll up. So net, ended up with outfits that weren’t exactly traditional, but still definitely did the job!

Skirt or pants? I initially just bought the skirt because the store did not have the matching pants at the time and my interview was around the corner. But a few weeks later when the store was having a massive online sale, I bought the pants too because I had some interviews in colder parts of the country coming up and knew I would freeze in the skirt! So for my September and first half of October interviews I was in my skirt, but for every interview after that, I stuck to my pants. My advice if you just want to get one or the other? Get the pants. You’ll be able to wear them to all your winter interviews and honestly to all your summer interviews too because air conditioning during warmer months tends to be very enthusiastic!

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The only two photos I have of me in my suit (purely to send to my mom for her opinion when I had bought them!). Sorry for the terrible quality! These are the shoes I wore for the interview too (but my hair was a little more tamed and I didn’t have big jewellery on for the actual interviews!). 

What type of shirt? I recommend a shell top. They are sleeveless, collarless, and very simple. As a result, they tend to work with the necks of any jacket, and are smooth, easy to tuck in, and don’t stick out or bulge out of the suit anywhere! Pick a plain color but don’t be afraid to pick a different color – like I said, I went for a pink! I later also bought a dark blue (so that I would get free shipping on the pants haha) and that worked great as well!

Jewellery? Go for small, understated pieces. I wore a tiny necklace and studded earrings and that’s it!

Shoes? I would say that most girls wore simple kitten heels/pumps or flats to the interviews in either black, navy, gray, or nude. I think it is generally more formal for your shoes to be closed toed so do aim for that!

Bag? I went for a plain black bag from Banana Republic. Pick a bag that is large enough to hold a folder because you’ll definitely be handed a folder during your interviews and it is a lot easier to hold on to if it is in a bag. In addition, you’ll want to store your personal stuff somewhere!

Some Extra Tips 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help while shopping.
  • If you already have heels, bring them to the shopping trip! Even if they aren’t the ones you’re going to wear to the interviews, they’ll give you an idea of where pant legs and skirts are falling on you when heels are worn.
  • If you’re also in the short club, keep an eye out for the petite section of stores! Buying my pants and skirt from the petite section meant I didn’t have to get either of them tailored which was a huge blessing!
  • Some things you may want to consider carrying in your bag: phone, phone charger, wallet, ID of some sort, chapstick, mints, a pen, a small notebook or planner, anything else the interview specifically tells you to bring!
  • If you’re traveling and are catching a flight after, most schools seem to be super accommodating about luggage and actually have a room or an area for you to leave it while you’re at the interview.

I think that’s it for now! Best of luck for interview season! What an exciting time! I’m sure you all will do so great!

Setting Up Your First Apartment: Tips and a Tour!

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I cannot believe it has already been three whole weeks since I moved into my apartment! It feels like only yesterday I was fishing items out of poorly labeled boxes (kind of like a Deal or No Deal situation but falling-apart-cartons edition). Moving and setting up a place was such a learning experience for me – especially because this is the first apartment I’ve ever rented! Though there was a lot of boring and intimidating paperwork in the process, actually getting to make the place feel like home was so rewarding and exciting! I felt all my years of HGTV binge-watching come alive as it came time to arranging the place. So today I thought it could be fun to share a quick tour of my place and some tips I have for setting up your first apartment, which may come in handy for those of you who are about to start a new year at college, grad school, or life in general!

The Living Room

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The Kitchen

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The Bedroom

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Some Tips That You May Find Helpful

Rome Home wasn’t built in a day! It can be so tempting to just shove all the boxes and items covering the floor into a closet or under the bed, but really give yourself a little bit of time to plan things out. Sorting through everything and seeing the storage space you have in your new home is important for staying organized and will definitely help you as the year gets busy with school and work. For example, some of the cupboards in my kitchen don’t have shelving, so I had to strategize a little to ensure that I’d actually be able to store stuff there and find what I need! Also some days the inspiration is there and some days it just isn’t: do something else or take a break on the days that you’re at a loss for ideas! You can keep shuffling around furniture items and giving your eye some time to decide if it likes it or not! I definitely paced around my living room and played musical chairs with the furniture before I found what worked.

Personalize the place! Adding little bits from home or things you or people you love made or gave you immediately makes the place feel more familiar.

My Mom is a pottery goddess and made me these gorgeous bowls when I left for college four years ago, and I’ve always had them with me! Adding them to my coffee table immediately brought warmth to the living room.

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I added some little pieces of art that I had made over the years to our walls for a pop of color and for that sense of familiarity! I had also saved up cards that my boyfriend’s wonderful Mom sends us and mixed those in! Adding art does not have to be an expensive ordeal! I love drawing and painting but most definitely do not consider myself an artist – that being said, the splash of color that my amateur art does provide does help make the place feel a little more homey!

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My incredibly talented friend Pip spent an afternoon with me a few months ago painting florals and teaching me how to do so. So I hung them from some twine with some clothing pins!

Buy second hand furniture! If you’re about to start college or grad school, keep an eye out for Facebook pages or groups where current students and people in the community are selling stuff. Most of the time these pages have names like “Free and For Sale” and prices tend to be negotiable! Don’t be afraid to negotiate (most people are in a rush during move out and really do want their stuff sold as quickly as possible) but do be fair and courteous – someone sold their couch to me even though I wasn’t their highest bidder simply because the other person was too rude (or so they told me!). Be sure to ask another student about such pages so that you can easily find them and be added to them! Other than my bed, I pretty much got everything second hand and it was such a huge saving!

That’s it for now! I hope these tips are helpful to those of you moving and setting up your new home! Best of luck and hope adjusting goes well!

Wisdom Tooth Weekends: Tales of a D2 Wonder Woman and How She Does it All!

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I had the wonderful opportunity this week to interview Parisa, a second year dental school student at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry. She manages to do it ALL and yet has such an amazing way of staying organized and managing her time! It was so inspiring and insightful to hear all her advice on pursuing dual degrees, finding interesting research, and making sure one doesn’t get burned out during dental school! Be sure to follow Parisa on Instagram @todayindentalschool for more!

What made you decide you wanted to pursue a dual degree and why did you choose to do an MBA?

Education is incredibly important to me. For as long as I can remember, it has been my main priority. I have always been one to seek and act on opportunities. In dental school, we do not learn much about business. I believe that becoming more educated and knowledgeable about business, leadership, marketing, etc. will help open many doors for me in the future and allow me to give back in more ways.

How does doing the MBA change your schedule? Do you have to take an extra year of school or just more classes during the day or something else entirely?

I attend dental school at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). UCSF does not offer MBA degrees or courses. UCSF has partnered with University of San Francisco (USF) to allow dental students to apply for and pursue an MBA degree. The part-time MBA degree at USF has been redesigned a bit this year and we will be able to complete the coursework in 2-3 years depending on how many units you take consistently. My schedule as a dental student does become busier since we are pursuing the MBA degree simultaneously with the DDS degree. Through the part-time MBA program, we take courses twice a week in the afternoons.

What kind of role do you see having the MBA playing as a dentist?

As a dentist, the MBA degree can help teach you how to start and run your own practice, open multiple practice, lead a non-profit organization, etc. The possibilities are endless. There are a lot of things that you can learn through experience or speaking with others that have had the experience in the past, but I have always appreciated having a structured method of learning. Pursuing an MBA degree also allows you to network with people that you may not have had the chance to otherwise. There are a lot of positive aspects to pursuing an MBA degree as a dentist in my opinion, depending on what you want to do.

You somehow are doing a dual degree AND are involved in research (which means you’ve clearly mastered time travel!!), which is so incredible! How did you pick a lab to join and what are you tips on that? Do you plan on continuing to work in the lab over the rest of your time at dental school?

Thank you! I looked into a variety of different research labs at my school and scheduled appointments with at least 8 different research principal investigators (PIs) to discuss their research and both of our goals. I chose a lab that I believe in greatly, and my PI is incredibly professional, kind, and understanding. I am currently a summer research fellow in my PI’s lab and will continue my work in the lab for the next month and a half. I am incredibly involved in extracurricular activities in my school and am not sure if I will have time to continue working in the lab during this upcoming year. If I choose to take time away from research during this upcoming academic year, I plan to come back to it very soon.

What are your tips for managing time during your first year of dental school? It sounds like there are so many things to be doing at once (getting to know a new place and new people, classes, clubs, etc.) and only so many hours in a day!

That is very true! You can’t do everything, but I know that I am the type that tries to. My main advice is to first find what you are passionate about. Seek your opportunities and prioritize accordingly. Choose what you really want to be involved with and manage your time around your activities. A lot happens during your first year of dental school: meeting new people, familiarizing yourself with a new city, endless exams, limitless volunteer opportunities, countless extracurricular activities, etc. Write down what you want to do and keep a schedule. I always have a list of things to do written down in my phone to help remind myself of how much time I have to do certain things. I also think it is incredibly important to take care of yourself, so make sure to make that time! Don’t overwhelm yourself. Remember that it is okay to say no. Most importantly, prioritize yourself and choose what you want to put after that. Time management is a trial and error process. Just keep making the effort!

What is one thing you wish you knew when you started D1?

One thing that I hope everyone knows going into D1 year is that you are not alone. Dental school is stressful. Life happens. Sometimes, it is very difficult to juggle and balance everything that you have going on. I think it is important to remember that everybody is facing their own set of struggles and there is a cohort of other people facing similar challenges as you. Reach out to them. Spend time with them. Go out with them and don’t talk about school. Although dental school can feel like your entire life, remember that it is only a part of your life. Make sure that you are still enjoying everything that life has to offer and that you are taking care of yourself. Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Relax. Enjoy.

What does a typical weekend look like for you?

A typical weekend for me includes exercising (whether that be going for a run, to the gym, etc.), participating in an event (volunteer, mentor, tutor, etc.), watching shows, spending time with friends, studying, and grocery shopping. I think that one thing that people think is that people in professional school are studying or working 24/7, but that is not true. Burning out is a real thing, which is why it is so important to take breaks and make time for yourself to do the things that make you whole. I am a firm believer in people being able to do it all, so long as they master the art of time management, however that may look in their lives.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not in class?

I chose to attend UCSF because of the school itself as well as the city. I lived in Southern California my whole life prior to attending UCSF, so my favorite thing to do outside of class is to explore the city with my friends. There is so much to do here and so much to see!

If there was one thing you wish you had more time for out of class, what would it be?

I wish I had more time to spend with my family. Although I talk to my family over the phone and occasionally seeing them in person, I feel like spending time with my loved ones is one thing that I always wish I could have more time for.

Thanks so much again Parisa!

If you’re a dental school student, someone out of dental school, or someone working in the dental field and are interested in sharing your perspective, I’d LOVE to hear from you! I’m hoping to share a Wisdom Tooth Weekend every couple of weeks!