While I was in Montana I ate an Asian-inspired salad that knocked my socks off. Butter lettuce, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, and red peppers. What made it even more delicious was the homemade peanut dressing that I dumped over the whole salad. It was out of this world! Ever since I left Montana, I’ve been craving the salad. Since I’m slightly obsessive about recipes once I get an idea in my head, I bought all the ingredients for lettuce wraps inspired by the salad I ate right when I got to my local co-op. And the next day, Andrea and I worked together in the kitchen to create these super-easy, filling, and nutritious lettuce wraps. Lettuce be the ones to tell you, they’re delicious. (Sorry about the pun – I couldn’t resist).
I have to say, that usually when I hear ‘lettuce wraps’ I immediately think of ‘appetizer’ or ‘really puny, unfilling meal’. But, I proved myself wrong. We used the food processor to finely chop an assortment of fresh vegetables and hearty tempeh to create a base for the flavorful Asian peanut sauce we drizzled on top. Each lettuce wrap was topped with chopped cashews and a couple slices of mandarin oranges to add even more layers of flavor. After eating half of the recipe each, Andrea and I were both stuffed – and we still had some of the filling as leftovers! These lettuce wraps are flavorful, nutritious, and surprisingly filling! I highly recommend making them when you don’t have much time to make dinner but are craving something to boost your energy. Hopefully recipes like these will help me feel my best for my first week back at school! Here’s the recipe so you can make it too.
Raw Asian Lettuce Wraps
8-10 pieces of lettuce, rinsed and dried
1/4 block (2 oz. tempeh)
4 large stalks of celery
1 red bell pepper
For the sauce:
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 clove garlic
Cashews and mandarin oranges, for garnishing
1. In a food processor, pulse tempeh until it becomes very finely chopped. Pour the tempeh into a medium sized mixing bowl. Repeat with celery, bell pepper, and carrot, pulsing seperately and adding to the mixing bowl.
2. Gently stir all of the finely chopped vegetables and tempeh together in the mixing bowl.
3. In the food processor, combine all sauce ingredients and blend until all ingredients are well mixed. Pour sauce into small serving dishes and serve alongside lettuce wraps.
4. Scoop vegetable and tempeh filling into the lettuce leaves. Top with a spoonful of sauce. Garnish with cashews and mandarin oranges, if desired.
“Smart drugs” are a controversial topic.
It’s hard to objectively evaluate the issue of smart drugs. On the one hand, a huge fraction of the world’s population drinks coffee, which can be considered a smart drug in a certain sense. Coffee improves affect (mood) and vigilance, decreasing the effects of sleep deprivation.
But no one would say that drinking coffee increases your IQ. The point is: it’s unlikely that nootropics will permanently increase your actual intelligence. It’s more likely that nootropics modulate mood, attention and motivation.
People feel smarter on amphetamines, but most healthy subjects without ADHD don’t actually perform better. Amphetamines might increase concentration, but this doesn’t translate to improvement in core cognitive domains like working memory.
The picture is muddied when you consider otherwise healthy individuals that are performing sub-optimally because of some underlying condition. Anxiety can impair performance, as can ADHD. Depression too, results in cognitive slowing and difficulty making decisions. In these individuals, nootropics are more likely to actually improve core cognitive ability.
More research is needed to make a definitive conclusion about the efficacy of nootropics. But for now, it’s clear that depending on your individual neurophysiology, they can be beneficial.
In this article, I’m going to reveal some straightforward, actionable tips you can use to start crushing your exams and begin studying more efficiently.
First, lets address the basics. Studying effectively is not rocket surgery. You don’t need to be super cerebral or erudite to outperform academically.
The key to dominating school is active studying and engagement. You can’t expect to passively learn things by osmosis. Here’s what I mean:
- Rather than passively reading your textbooks, you should be taking notes, highlighting, and developing a study guide for your course material while you’re reading.
- Rather than watching your TA demonstrate how to solve problems, you should be working out the problem sets independently. It’s too easy to convince yourself that you know something ex post facto.
- Rather than listening to your professor ramble in office hours, you should be actively discussing the course material with your peers. Verbalization facilitates learning.
It’s far more efficient to study organic chemistry for 45 minutes everyday than it is to scramble the week before the exam and study 72 hours straight.
Learning a little bit everyday allows you to digest and internalize the information. Your synapses need time to configure.
This is a question of your precious time. By postponing studying, you’re actually wasting time because you’ll need to spend more time later to compensate. It’s a devil’s pact: you’re trading 1 hour of free time in the present for 1.5-2 hours of labor the week before the exam.
If you’re a procrastinator by nature, there are some steps you can take:
- Get the promodoro technique app. The promodoro technique is about working in sprints with frequent breaks. For example, you could work for 25 minutes, and take a 5 minute break, and then repeat this process for four cycles before taking a longer break.
- Buy Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity and actually read it (Catch-22 if you’re a procrastinator) .
- Get the self control app, which allows you to block your own access to certain distracting websites (Reddit, Facebook, Gmail) for a specified period of time.
- If you have untreated ADHD, you might benefit from medications like Adderall or Vyvanse. Here’s a good resource comparing the two drugs: http://www.vyvansevsadderall.com.
Organization and Prioritization
If you can stay organized, you’re 90% of the way there to achieving your academic goals.
If you’re disorganized, there’s no task management system. You’re therefore forced to remember everything you need to take care of. Everything from assignments to dental appointments to remembering to change your car oil must be stored in your brain. Disorganization leaves your brain chronically stressed and cluttered. You’re working memory is always sapped because you need to keep an inordinate amount of extraneous information in the background.
Organization gives you the incredible gift of a clear, serene mind. Uncluttered, unstressed minds perform better academically every time.
If document all of your tasks and organize them by type, your brain will be squeaky clean.