Wisdom Tooth Weekends: Advice from a D1 to a D0!

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This week I got the awesome opportunity to interview Sarah, a dental student who just completed her first year at The University of Pittsburgh. It was so incredibly helpful hearing what to expect during the first year, how to stay organized, how to make friends, and how to stay sane! With just a few weeks until I start dental school myself, my imagination has been running wild with what dental school will be like, so hearing from someone who just finished their first year was just what I (and hopefully you!) needed! Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram @dmdtobe for more!

What are some things that caught you by surprise when you first started dental school?

I was most surprised at just how fast paced the classes are. I think our first quiz was on like day three. No syllabus week here! I was also surprised at how quickly you manage to adjust to a new demanding schedule. I took a gap year, so I was very out of practice with the whole school thing and was VERY nervous that I would struggle to acclimate to the demands of dental school. Somehow though, everyone manages to get through it!

Any tips on orientation? I know this may sound a little middle school but I’m excited and kinda sorta really nervous!

Try to relax and know that everyone else is probably just as nervous as you are! Also, try to take this time to get to know your classmates. This is the time that everyone is super open to making new connections and doing fun social things together because once things get busier, it gets a bit harder to find the time!

In what ways is dental school similar to undergrad? In what ways is it different?

This might depend on where you went to school and what kind of major you had in undergrad, but in my experience, dental school and undergrad are pretty similar in the level of difficulty of the classes. In fact, some of my undergrad science classes (biochem, micro) went even further in depth than their dental school counterparts.

I think the biggest difference from undergrad to dental school is the sheer number of classes you take. The most credits I ever took in one semester of undergrad was 18. This last semester of dental school was a hefty 27. It’s doable, but you definitely have to stay on top of things!

Another difference is the amount of time you spend in class. Unlike undergrad where you might have a few hours of class a couple days per week, dental school is more like a regular 9-5 job where you come home and continue to work.

Do you suggest becoming a morning bird or a night owl? Or is there a third option we should consider (a caffeinated flamingo? a freaked out ostrich?)?

You really have to find what best works for you and take advantage of whatever hours you’re most productive. I legit cannot stay awake past 10 pm to save my life. But I have no problem waking up at 4 or 5 am to get a little studying in. I have friends who would rather stay up until 3 in the morning studying than wake up before the sun rises. It’s all personal preference! The most important thing is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Dental school is truly a marathon and if you’re consistently exhausted, it’s going to take a toll of your mental and physical health.

What was it like setting up an apartment? What are some things you suggest we should get for an apartment and what should we totally skip?

Every location is going to be a little different as far as when to start looking for an apartment. You might not have to start looking until a month before school starts, or you may end up living in an area like mine, where apartments get snatched up 6 months in advance! I would suggest trying to connect with upperclassmen or your student affairs office to get more information on when and where to look.

As far as furnishing apartments, you really can’t go wrong with whatever makes you comfortable. When I moved into my new place, I prioritized creating a study space that I knew I’d be happy spending hours on end in. For me that meant splurging a bit on a big desk to sprawl out on, a decent office chair, and a fully stocked Keurig. I found IKEA was great for affordable furniture (though be prepared to lose your mind putting it together) as well as Target and Walmart.

Do most people take notes on paper or on laptops during class?

The majority of my class takes notes on laptops. In undergrad, I preferred to handwrite all my notes, but upon entering dental school, I found it difficult to keep up with the volume of material. For me, typing up word docs is much quicker and I find it’s easier to stay organized when everything can just be filed away on my computer.

Any tips on how to manage time in dental school?

Good question! Still trying to figure this one out myself. I’d say staying organized is very important. I consult my calendar and to-do list religiously to help me prioritize assignments, studying for exams, and other responsibilities. There’s not always enough time in the day to do everything I want to do, but the most important things get done.

What are weekends like as a D1?

Most of my weekends are spent catching up on studying and household things like cleaning and laundry, but I’ve also been able to go out with friends and get away to visit family! Dental school is busy, but fortunately you really can still have a life!

What’s it like making friends in dental school?

Dental school has a way of bringing people together because you’re all going through the same ups and downs together, which is really nice. You also get to know your classmates pretty well pretty quickly when you’re spending all day with them in class! Still I suggest, taking advantage of events put on by the school or by student orgs like ASDA so you can interact with your classmates outside of school and have more exciting things to talk about than biochem.

Do you suggest joining a dental fraternity?

Dental Fraternities provide a great way to connect with upperclassmen and alumni as well as participate in fun social events and volunteer work. It never hurts to try one out to see how you like it! However, dues can be relatively expensive on a tight dental school budget. If you opt out, know that there are usually plenty of other student organizations available to get involved with and make similar connections in.

Thank you so much Sarah!

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!

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Acai Berry and Cacao Nib Energy Bites!

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Whether I’m studying, relaxing, in class, or out somewhere, I know that my stomach is gearing up to rumble to tell me (and literally anyone on the same continent as me) that I’m HUNGRY. So I like to keep some snacks around for when hunger inevitably strikes. I love making my own snacks because I find it so incredibly fun and also because I can make things that suit what I’m craving from healthy and clean ingredients! So behold these Acai Berry and Cacao Nibs Energy Bites! These no-bake bombs of goodness take just seconds to make and are full of healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and magnesium! Acai and cacao as a combination…ooof that’s a game changer! Sweet, crunchy, and with a tang (thank you acai), these energy bites make the perfect little treats for ANYTIME and ANYWHERE.

Ingredients (makes 15 energy bites!)

10 pitted dates

A little under a cup of cashews and almonds mixed together

1 tablespoon of acai powder (+ another half tablespoon for later!)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Cacao nibs (as much as you like! I used about 2 handfuls!)

A pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Add the dates and nuts to a food processor and blitz away.
  2. Throw in the vanilla essence and salt and keep blitzing.
  3. Add in the tablespoon of acai powder and keep blitzing.
  4. Pour out everything onto a plate and add in the cacao nibs. Mix everything together well.
  5. Roll the mixture into balls.
  6. Pour about half a tablespoon of acai powder onto a plate and roll the balls lightly in it to give an acai dusting.
  7. Store in the fridge (or start eating right away!).

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And there you go! It was that simple to make these exciting little bites of happiness. Be sure to give them a try as your next snack creation! I’m off to eat another one, but hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far!

The Best(o) Basil Spinach Pesto!

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I know we are only just getting to know each other and all, but I think it is time you found out: I’m a murderer. I have killed multiple basil plants over the years – sometimes just by looking at them the wrong way. Every time I get a basil plant, I name it Planté. Maybe it is the name, maybe it is my plant-parenting skills, but poor Planté always tends to wilt away within a few days of being in my care.

My most recent Planté however has been a total trouper! After MONTHS with me (which trust me, is a record-breaker), it is still doing so well – in fact, it is THRIVING! I was able to get a good amount of basil leaves from it and knew immediately that I had to do Planté justice by make a good batch of pesto. I’m a huge fan of traditional pesto but I wanted to put my own spin on it – typical pesto makes an amazing sauce but tends to be too thin to really spread onto food or to stand alone. In addition, the fact that it normally has cheese and pine nuts makes it a little limiting.

So I decided to make a chunky pesto with a whole range of nuts and not only basil leaves but also spinach leaves! And thus, a strong, independent pesto was born! It has no cheese at all and relies mostly on the smoky taste of roasted nuts and their natural oils, as well as the fresh, clean flavors of basil. It came out so deliciously that I ate most of it with a spoon and it tasted absolutely beautiful on top of a piece of salmon and cauliflower steaks.

Ingredients

1 cup of nuts (I used walnuts, cashews, and almonds all mixed together!)

1 cup of basil leaves

3/4 cup of baby spinach leaves

3 cloves of garlic (peeled)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 juiced lemons

A dash of hot water

Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Toast the nuts and garlic on a baking tray for about 7 minutes at 350ºF (175ºC). Make sure they don’t burn! You want to be able to smell them but that’s about it!
  2. Allow them to cool slightly then add to a food processor and blitz until they are broken apart but not paste-like.
  3. Add in the basil leaves and spinach leaves and continue blitzing to allow for the leaves to get chopped up but not too smooth yet.
  4. Add in the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
  5. Add a dash of hot water to get your mixture to reach your desired consistency. I added about a tablespoon (this step is entirely optional and is only if you want it to get a little more runny. Make sure you don’t add too much hot water as that would cook up the leaves).

And there you go! This recipe was so easy to make and so customizable, making it a versatile addition to just about any meal! I will definitely try using it in wraps and sandwiches and will continue eating it with a spoon (and probably move towards eating it with just my hands). What’s your favorite way to use basil leaves? Happy eating everyone and hope you’re having a lovely start to your week!

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A Fool Proof Guide to Building Perfect Smoothie Bowls

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If you like sleeping, don’t make these for breakfast: they are SO delicious that you’re not going to be able to sleep knowing that you’re going to have to wait hours before its an acceptable breakfast time for you to devour it! (Or maybe that’s just my dictator of a stomach sabotaging my sleep!).

But anyways. Today I thought it would be fun to provide A Fool Proof Guide to Building Perfect Smoothie Bowls. I make one of these beauties for breakfast almost everyday. As someone who is constantly hungry, I’m always on the hunt for breakfasts that can actually keep me satiated till lunch. Thankfully these Smoothie Bowls are a worthy opponent to my bottomless pit of a stomach! Because of the ingredients they contain (a mix of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals), these make the perfect start to a healthy day that is guaranteed to make you feel good (and well-fed, always a win in my book!).

So without further ado, let’s break apart a bowl to build one!

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STEP 1: The Base

1 banana + A handful of frozen blueberries or strawberries + A superfood powder

The base of my smoothie bowls almost always consists of a ripe banana and some frozen blueberries: but here’s the good news, neither of those have to be frozen! I often choose to just use a banana that’s at room temperature and put it in the blender with about a cup of ice cubes, a handful of frozen blueberries or strawberries (because buying berries frozen is easier in bulk) and a dash of water. I’ve noticed that doing this (rather than using a frozen banana) seems to be easier on the blender as the softness of the banana seems to help with the crushing of the ice! What’s amazing is that there’s no hint of ice at all when you’re done blending – it comes out super smooth, creamy, and absolutely delicious (and the berries give just the prettiest purple-pink color ever)! The consistency always reminds me of frozen yoghurt – even though there’s nothing but fruit, ice, and water in there! I often also add a superfood like cacao powder, spirulina powder or acai powder (make sure it doesn’t have any added sugars though!) to the mix just to increase my intake of some nutrients that aren’t always in everyday meals. For example, spirulina is super rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin B, and acai is high in antioxidants and vitamin A! So adding in a dash of one of these always feels like a sneaky, bonus dose of health!

STEP 2: The Toppings

Fruits + Healthy fats

This is my favorite part! I love decorating the smoothie base with delicious toppings – and honestly it is SO easy when everything is so colorful! I tend to stick to about one to two servings of fruit for my toppings because I’m constantly snacking on fruit all day long so I don’t want to be overdoing it on the sugars from fruits. Chopped up kiwi has been my favorite lately, but passionfruit, goji berries, mangoes, berries (the possibilities are endless!) all work really well too! I also make sure to always include one to two servings of a healthy fat and protein as well so that this breakfast actually keeps me full! For me, this is most often a massive amount of peanut butter (I always buy nut butters that don’t contain any added sugars, oils, or salts – the one I currently use actually has chia seeds and hemp seeds in it already which is amazing!), pumpkin seeds, or chia seeds. If I don’t have any of those, just crushing up some walnuts or almonds does the job just fine too! If I have any granola or cacao nibs lying around, I sometimes throw those on top as well.Smoothie Bowls Collage.jpeg

And there you go! Two easy steps to the perfect breakfasts! What’s amazing about them is that they never really taste the same – with all the toppings options and the various combinations you could do with the base, you’ll always be making smoothie bowls that taste different from the last! If you get a chance to make some smoothie bowls this weekend, be sure to let me know! I’d love to see some photos and to hear about how it goes! Hope you all have a beautiful, happy Saturday!