Cooking with Chris #1: How to Cook Fresh Seafood, Operating Charcoal vs. Gas Grills, Kitchen Safety

I am SO excited for today's blog post. My dad, Chris, is incredible in the kitchen (and also hilarious which you will see from the vlog hahaha), so, while we are on vacation, I thought now was the perfect time to start up Cooking with Chris. I enjoy cooking, but using a grill and handling uncooked meat can be a little intimidating at first if you don't have a lot of experience. My dad has been using the grill and the smoker for years, so if anyone can bring knowledge on this subject to the blog, it's my dad! I really want this series to show that cooking good, healthy dinners can be simple, relatively inexpensive, and totally unintimidating.

In the video, we are cooking fresh tuna and cod. We made a vlog that takes you through every step of the process from seasoning to grilling to plating and my dad gives his tips and tricks on cooking, properly handling knives in the kitchen, and the difference between charcoal and gas grills. I'm including the recipe in this post, but the video really gives the step by step instructions.

- 1/2-3/4 lb. of fresh tuna (this is enough for an appetizer)
- 2 large filets of cod, 1-1.5 inches thick
- salt (use sparingly)
- black pepper (as much as you want)
- garlic powder (as much as you like)
- Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning (this has salt in it and a lot of flavor, so you don't need to overdo it)
- lemon

- Sear the tuna for 1.5-2 min. a side
- Grill the cod 3 minutes a side

- It doesn't have to be fancy at all- you can buy the cheapest seasoning.
- Don't overdo the seasoning because you can always add more.
- If you are using the same recipe for chicken or beef, my dad recommends adding a little onion powder.
- If you are buying your fish at home and can't get it fresh like we did here, my dad recommends going to Sam's Club, but, most importantly, making sure you are buying US, wild caught fish.

If you have any requests for what you want to see next on Cooking with Chris, send them my way! We will definitely be back with more.

Thanks for reading xx.

Trying a New Health and Fitness Routine + Detoxing from Social Media: Spilling the Tea #3

Happy Friday friends! I'm going to keep today's Spilling the Tea short and sweet as I am getting ready to go to Florida for the week with my family- I cannot WAIT to relax. Although I was gone last weekend to Los Angeles (if you missed that vlog, check it out!), I like to take advantage of all my favorite spots, so I tend to "go go go" when I'm there. August is going to be a lot of preparing and hustling before my semester in Spain and I can't wait to share with you guys that whole process. I've been trying to do a ton of research, but there's just not really a lot of great content out there about study abroad, so I'm going to be the guinea pig for all of my readers and share every moment: good and bad!

So speaking of workout routine. Normally if I were going on a vacation, I would be kicking it in gear trying to get my body ready for the beach...but as I've kind of shared previously, I have a lot of stressful things going on in my life and I don't need that extra pressure on myself in terms of what I'm eating and how I'm working out, which I'm sure you guys can relate to. I've been making an effort to reduce my stress level and just chill out. I'm a work in progress and definitely not perfect, but it has really helped me to try to take the pressure off of killing myself in the gym. I believe in always nourishing your body with good foods and getting in protein and veggies, but sometimes a bowl of ice cream and Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered almonds after a long day at work sounds really freaking awesome. 

I love a good sweat, but lifting weights and doing high intensity workouts is not appealing to me right now. I don't force it, but I do try to just move my body in some way that I enjoy. I love walking my dog, doing a yoga video, or taking a spin class. Whatever you love, just do that and make sure you're getting movement in...that's my advice for the week! Once I get back from a semester of studying and siesta-ing (did I mention wine drinking?) in Spain, I might feel differently about kicking it into gear hahaha, but for now, I'm learning to just be happy with what I have, where I am. At the end of the day, all you can really ask for is a healthy, able body.

Lastly for this week, I have decided to step away from social media for the most part while I'm on vacation. I'm planning on dedicating this week to working on the blog. so I'm still going to share my posts on Instagram. I also enjoy experimenting with new recipes when I go to Florida, so obviously if I make something worth sharing, I'll post that to Balanced Baig, but the mindless scrolling and constant story-ing is on hold until I get home. I will report back next Friday with an update!

Have a great weekend and I'll talk to you guys next week!

Thanks for reading! xx

Surprise Trip to Los Angeles: A New Vlog

Happy Wednesday! As I promised in last week's Spilling the Tea, my LA vlog is now up on my YouTube channel. I always love documenting and sharing my adventures and travels and this was a really special trip for me to get to surprise my sister, Anna. I wanted to make sure I had this video up on the blog for you guys, just to keep everything in one place. I hope you guys love this video!

Thanks for watching! xx

Not Loving College, Long Term Goals, and Finding Joy Wherever You Are: Spilling the Tea #2

Whenever I'm in a city that has a Soul Cyele, I have to go because I love it SO much. This is from the Santa Monica studio.

Helloooo from California! I flew in yesterday to surprise my sister who has been out here all week at a music camp. Stay tuned for a vlog documenting the surprise and our awesome weekend. I'm hopping on my soapbox today to spill a little inspirational tea...

I like to think the theme of my blog is wellness. That can be related to food, exercise, being organized and put together, you get it. Something that I've only skimmed the surface on is emotional wellness and being in a good place with your mental health. I want to be really open and honest, I struggle with my confidence. There are good and bad days, but, just like everyone else, I'm on a journey to being my best self. It's really hard to not care what people think about you these days and it is something I'm really working on.

Something that has always really motivated me is the long term. For almost as long as I can remember, I have never really felt like I fit in and, honestly, I'm okay with that. In high school, I was a little anti-social and I just wasn't really into what everyone else was doing, but that didn't really bother me. My end goal was always getting out of my high school and getting to college.

I really expected my freshman year of college to be life changing...In a lot of ways it was, but I expected to join a sorority, go to parties, meet a million friends, and do it all. I quickly realized...I'm not really into frat parties (more on that later), I like working a couple part time jobs, and I had created such high expectations for myself that trying to keep up with my own plans made me feel like I was drowning. I'm grateful that I became really self aware so early on, but it's also left me feeling at times like I'm not cool enough or that I don't belong. It's a constant struggle, but believing in yourself and making sure that everything you do each day is propelling you forward really will motivate you to keep moving. If I don't like where I am on my journey when I wake up in the morning, I think about where I want to be 5 years down the road and allow that to really drive me to keep pushing.

There is never going to be a time in your life or mine that is completely perfect. We have bad days and things go wrong and the more that we push ourselves to fit into our self labeled box to try and make everything perfect, the more unhappy we are going to be. Joy can be found in every single moment. There is always something good we can find in our lives. By turning our negative moments into positive ones and allowing ourselves to be a little imperfect, we tear down the walls that are holding us in and trying to convince us to conform to what other people think we should be.

If anyone is going to show up for you, it has to be yourself. Don't let anyone else tell you what's right for you or how to live your life. I'm not perfect and sometimes I think I have to please everyone. I'm spilling this tea today because, just like you, I'm on a journey. A journey to being my best self, living my best life, and getting where I want to be. A lot of times I look for validation from my friends or Instagram likes, but, you guys, that's so LAME. We are so capable of anything we want and we have to be the ones motivating ourselves to not listen to irrelevant opinions and just go out and get it.

Alright, off the soapbox. I hope you guys enjoyed this week's #spillingthetea. Have a great weekend and keep an eye out for my LA vlog that will be up on my channel Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks for reading. xx

Sorority Recruitment 101: What's Off Limits, Reputations, Social Media, and MORE

Summer is flying by and before we know it, it will be back to school season and, for some of us, that also means sorority recruitment season. Because I have gone through recruitment for two years (in and out of the house) and have a younger sister that is getting close to her college years, I felt like I should use this platform to dive a little deeper into common questions that a lot of people have about preparing for rush as an incoming freshman. To some it might feel like what goes on in sorority life is a secret, but I feel like the more you know, the more prepared you are for the experience. I will admit, joining a sorority is not for everyone, but there are a lot of pros that make it a lot easier to adjust to college life. If you want to read a little more about the basics behind sorority life, click here for my first post.

I'm just going to dive into some of the questions that I got and if you have more questions that aren't answered here, feel free to DM me on Instagram! There are a couple of topics that I am planning on creating a separate post for, so stay tuned for that.

What is off limits to talk about during recruitment?
In general, we were always told to steer clear of the 3 B's: boys, booze, and Bush (which just basically stands for political views). Boys and partying/drinking are an obvious no when it comes to conversation as joining the sorority is about sisterhood. In my personal opinion, you want to share unique things about you, whether that be experiences you've had, what values are important to you, or just cool facts about you. Anyone can go to a fraternity party, so really think about why you want to be in a sorority and make that the topic of conversation.

What and what not to wear?
At the University of Kentucky, we were given two t-shirts for each day of open house and then the other 4 days, we could choose. I always chose a casual-ish dress and sandals. Be yourself, don't go out and buy Jack Rogers and Lilly Pulitzer unless that's actually your style. Wear what you would normally wear out in public. With that being said...
Don't wear booty shorts or crop tops, look somewhat modest. Think something you're comfortable wearing around your dad or grandparents, you know? If you need examples, let me know lol.

Should I consider a certain sorority's reputation or just go in with an open mind?
This is such a cliche answer, but don't go in with any expectations of what you think you will join. I promise that only sets you up for disappointment. This may be harsh, but in all honesty, if you are a freshman going through, you have never been at the school before and you really have no idea what a sorority's true "reputation" is. Make those calls for yourself. Enjoy it and just find girls that you click with and want to be around. If you listen to other people's opinions and go in with a biased perspective, you might not end up in the right place and the experience might not be worth it for you.

Is my social media something to consider?
Not necessarily. Use common sense. Making sure that your social media posts are appropriate is important whether you join a sorority or not.

Is going through the recruitment process really worth it?
Being in a sorority is what you make of it. You can be involved as much or as little as you want to be. Keep in mind, it is a pretty significant financial commitment. Obviously like anything, there are some cons. Is there drama? Yes. Can it be clique-y at times? Yes. But I can honestly say, it has given me the structure I need to really thrive and flourish in college. It allows you to surround yourself with girls that have similar values as you that are constantly motivating you to be your best. It has really shown me the importance of service, friendship, and holding myself to a higher standard. Transitioning into college life is a challenge no matter where you go, but it is helpful to be around people so early on that are going through the same struggles and supporting you. You probably won't find your best friend right away and that's okay, but like I always say, nothing worth having comes without struggle, so everything happens for a reason and works out how it is supposed to.

I hope this post was informative and gave you guys a bit more insight into the recruitment process and what to expect. As always, I am all ears to any other questions or comments you have. You know where to find me!

Thanks for reading. xx

Studying Abroad, Hustling, and Struggling to Save Money: Spilling the Tea #1

Hiiii friends! Welcome to my "new" site: same look, but new name. I have been thinking about shedding Class in the Bluegrass and moving the site towards just my name (Baigin Thiel). This is definitely an adjustment as I try to figure out what direction I want to take the blog, but you all can rest assured I will continue to share my health and fitness journey, as well as all of my upcoming travels. So in continuing to share, I'm starting a new series called "Spilling the Tea" where I'm going to be doing just that: spilling the tea. I have like 9 million thoughts and ideas in my head pretty much at all times, so I think it's time to get them out in the open, shall we?

I don't think I've officially announced it on the blog, but this fall I will be studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain to complete my International Business minor from September to December. As someone that has been in the same town her whole life, I really could not be more excited to get out of my comfort zone and have this unbelievable experience. I don't know anyone participating in my program, so this is truly going to be unlike anything else I've ever done and I really can't wait to share these travels and positive experiences with you guys, as well as struggles that are inevitable in adjusting to a new culture and being away.

I have a lot of places in Europe that I want to cross off of my bucket list while I'm there, but I'm still researching and figuring out how I can see all of these places as inexpensively as possible. I am really lucky that I have received scholarships and have my family to financially support my studies, but most all of my travels and personal expenses are on my own dime. This has always been the case for me and I'm really grateful for that because it has taught me how to really hustle for what I want without the heavy burden that student loans and debt can create. Creating goals, strategies, and a strong work ethic are critical life skills that I probably wouldn't have developed if my situation were different, so I'm really lucky for that. Being able to travel and see the world has always motivated me to keep my eye on the end goal and keep hustling.

This past semester and summer, I have really been working my tail off trying to make money, so that I'm able to travel and have these experiences abroad, but sometimes I'm not the best saver... I'm an accounting major, so it's about time to get with the program in regards to saving... This month, I created an Excel Spreadsheet for my budget and it has really kept me on track so far. Summer is a really social time; it's vacation season and I find myself constantly meeting people for lunch or dinner. While I love reconnecting with people and shopping for new outfits for summer trips, it is really important to keep track of your spending, especially while you have a specific saving goal in mind. 

We're only halfway through July, so it is possible that my budget spreadsheet could go downhill from here, but I'm optimistic. If it ends up being effective, I will share a quick tutorial on the blog for how I created it as well as some tips and tricks for saving. If you guys have a goal (money related or not), I just want to encourage you to keep working hard for what you want. It is so satisfying to make progress and know that you earned your results and didn't settle or take the easy way out. Nothing truly great in life comes without a little struggle. You got this guys! Follow along on Instagram (@baiginthiel and @balanced_baig) for a little day to day inspiration. We're in this together.

Thanks for reading. xx

3 Easy and Healthy Recipes for the Girl on a Budget

I asked on Instagram what you guys wanted to see on the blog and so many people responded with more recipes. While I wouldn't consider myself a chef or anything, I have found what works for me to cook healthy meals on a budget in as little time as possible. Cooking can feel really intimidating (speaking from experience) so I try to find ways to make the process as easy as I can.

I will share with you guys a complete roundup of grocery tips and a haul soon, (probably on my Youtube channel) but I always share grocery finds on Instagram stories, so make sure you are following along on @balanced_baig to keep up with that. While you guys know I love Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, you can also get a lot of inexpensive items on sale at Kroger. I try to keep my shopping trips to around $50 at the absolute most and I try to only go every two weeks.

First thing's first: what I like to call a "power bowl". These are so easy and yummy, but my favorite part about making this for lunch or dinner is that it is so easily customizable. I always have some variation of veggies, greens, protein, and healthy fat. Some examples here:

  • Veggies / Fresh Produce: brussels sprouts, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash noodles, broccoli, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, etc. Get creative! Summertime is the best time to experiment with veggies because they are so fresh and in season. I love seasoning my veggies with Everything but the Bagel from Trader Joe's, sea salt, pepper, garlic, really whatever I'm feeling at the moment and then roasting for 15ish minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Greens: almost always spinach or kale. This could be roasted or lightly dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Protein: my go-to proteins are chicken and salmon. When you're shopping for meat, make sure you are looking for pasture raised chicken and wild caught salmon. Speaking from experience, I have seen a lot of meat and fish with hormones or colors added and that kind of freaks me out, so it's worth it to me to pay a little more for good stuff. When I'm cooking for myself, I always season my meat or fish with a little bit of olive oil and some kind of combination of sea salt, garlic, and pepper. Maybe a little lemon juice. My rule of thumb is typically cooking for about 5 minutes each side on the stove, but use your judgment. (side note: cooking meat/fish used to scare me so much, but I promise it's not as intimidating as it may seem!)
  • Fat: pretty much always half an avocado! I usually cook with olive oil, so that's in their too. I also love adding a big spoonful of spicy hummus if I have it on hand.

I have been loving the black bean pasta from Trader Joe's. It is full of fiber and protein and can be made a variety of different ways. You could do regular tomato sauce and parmesan, but I have been loving plain olive oil or the pesto quinoa (also from Trader Joe's). Immediately after I strain most of the water from the pasta, I throw in a big handful of spinach, let that cook down, and add whatever sauce/toppings. This keeps me full until the end of the day when I bring this for lunch!

I shared this recipe on my Instagram, but I picked up this cult favorite from Trader Joe's and it did not disappoint! Once again this is so easily customizable (why I love), but the TJ's pesto quinoa was super yummy on top with a little mozzarella and balsamic vinegar. This is more of an example of something I would make for dinner. As far as cooking the crust, I just followed the directions on the box for cooking and it turned out perfectly.

I hope you enjoyed those three easy recipes. While it's definitely not rocket science, sometimes we just need a little inspiration to get started in the kitchen. At least I know I do. If you like the food related posts, make sure to let me know and I will keep them coming.

Thanks for reading. xx