Photo Shoot: Full Time Friends, Part Time Models

Her perspective:

I have always enjoyed taking photos whether it be on my Motorola Razr, point and shoot cameras, GoPro or iPhone. My husband and I started taking more and more photos throughout the years and we finally took the leap and invested in a Sony A7iii mirrorless camera with some great prime and zoom lenses.

We love taking scenic landscape photos when we travel back home to Hawai’i and recently ventured into portrait photography.

I asked two of my beautiful classmates, Amber and Christy if they would let me photograph them after finals and they agreed to be my first models! As dental school students, we live in our scrubs, so they were certainly excited to dress up and let their hair down.

We did the shoot at Sahuaro Ranch at golden hour. It was really a fun experience photographing them. To be fair, they made it super easy for me! They were able to show off their personalities and the strong bond they share with each other. Both Amber and Christy are perfect examples of strong, beautiful women in the healthcare field. I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoyed the experience and looking forward to improving my craft!

Your Health’s Best Friend

His perspective:

We all know the saying “a dog is man’s best friend.” As true as that might be, owning a dog/pet can have substantial benefits on your overall health. These benefits include improving cardiovascular health, decreasing stress hormones, improving physical activity and unique therapies for those diagnosed with Alzheimers’ disease and autism.

A correlation has been found between owning a pet and a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. In a 2017 retrospective study done in Sweden, people who lived alone and owned a dog had a 36% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular-related problems compared to those who didn’t (

Whether you’re anxious for a major exam or stressed out from a big project at work, pets can counteract these emotions by helping to lower cortisol levels (a.k.a stress hormones) and decreasing heart rate.

Secondly, we all know that it’s easy to get lazy and rush to the nearest couch in sight after a long day of work. Owning a dog helps you stay accountable by walking with your favorite canine and getting some cardiovascular activity into your day.

There are a few benefits of owning a pet that I found especially fascinating. For instance, several canine caregiver programs exist that assist dementia patients with day to day tasks. These tasks can include helping to retrieve medication, reminding them to eat and guiding them home when they’re lost. Here’s a great article if you want to learn more or are interested in getting a service dog for a friend or family member with dementia (

With the increasing prevalence of children being diagnosed with autism (approximately 1 in 59 children), improving social skills has become  essential. Various animal-assisted therapy programs currently exist to enhance social skills in children and help them interact with their peers.

I remember a specific time when I realized the powerful affects animals can play in our lives. Before I started optometry school, I volunteered at Braille Institute in Anaheim, California (yes, there is more in Anaheim than Disneyland). I started off assisting visually impaired students with using computers (checking email, using search engines, etc.). This was an immensely rewarding experience where i met some of the most inspiring people. The teacher of our class was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (an inherited disease causing degeneration of the retinal tissue). He had a guide dog, Tuesday, that reminds me of Oliver (golden retriever pictured above), with a slightly more mellow demeanor. Whenever Tuesday entered the room you could feel him bring in such a vibrant energy and everyone was instantly in a better mood.

We always think of school, work, fitness, diet, personal issues, etc. affecting our mental and personal health, but our pets can also play a vital role. If you have a pet, make sure to spend some quality time together and if not, definitely consider getting one! Your mind and body will thank you.

Shakshuka Sunday

Shakshuka! Fun to say, easy to make and delicious to eat. When we told friends and family that we were going to make this meal, we got a lot of blank stares. They had never heard of this dish and didn’t know what they were missing! Shakshuka is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and essentially means “mixed up.” The dish was introduced to Israel by immigrants from North Africa and has become a household favorite because of its heartiness and simplicity. Not to mention how easy it is to make! There are a variety of ways to prepare shakshuka. We used eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, feta cheese, garlic, onions and some essential seasonings. Shakshuka is served in an iron skillet and enjoyed with slices of bread; making it the perfect healthy meal to have all to yourself or to share with friends and family. It’s a great dish to serve at brunch with friends or have a little “breakfast” at dinner. Give it a try, we think this dish will become a staple of yours too!

Nutritional Breakdown (Approximate):
Feeds 4 people
Per person (not including baguette)- Calories: 160, Carbs: 8g, Fats: 0.75g, Proteins: 9g

1 tbsp ghee or olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes with juices
4 eggs
1 bell pepper (diced)
3 tbsp fat free feta cheese
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 onion (diced)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Trader Joe’s Habanero Hot Sauce

1) Heat cast iron skillet to warm and add ghee or olive oil
2) Add onions, garlic, bell peppers
3) Add cumin, paprika, tomatoes and let simmer for about 15 minutes
4) Preheat oven to 375F
5) Add habanero sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
6) Stir in feta cheese and crack eggs on top
7) Place skillet in oven and bake for 10 minutes
8) Enjoy with baguettes!

Bully Love!

This is our buddy Basil!  She just turned 6 months old. We both love english bulldogs and their laid back, loving personalities. Also, who doesn’t love a bunch of rolls? You have to love a dog who can always put a smile on your face. Bulldogs often have a stigma of looking mean and dangerous. However, if you’ve ever owned or play with a bulldog, you know that nothing can be further from the truth. They are dependable, predictable and great with kids! We aren’t able to own a dog in the apartment we currently live in, so we play with Basil every chance we get.

Lisa enjoys crocheting hats, tops, etc. and used to do it as a business during high school and undergrad. We decided to make Basil a hat to keep her warm during the cold winter season (plus we thought she would look great in it). We made a few hats for Basil to match any occasion. Let us know which hat is your favorite!

Quadruple Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

Quadruple chocolate chip brownie cookies… One of our favorite pick me up snacks! Made with Ghiradelli triple chocolate premium brownie mix and mini M&M’s. If you’re looking for a soft, chewy cookie packed with mouth-watering chocolatey goodness, this is the cookie for you! We’ve made this cookie for many of our friends and it is a crowd pleaser. The recipe is incredibly easy to make, even if it’s your first time baking. We’ll post a mix of our favorite sweet tooth deserts and healthy alternatives that will satisfy your taste buds! Here’s the nutrition breakdown for our quadruple chocolate chip brownie cookie.

Nutritional Breakdown (Approximate):
1 batch yields approximately 23 cookies
Per cookie – Calories: 105, Carbs: 20g, Fat: 3g, Protein: 1g

1 package of Ghiradelli Premium Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix
Mini M&M’s
1 egg
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
2 tbsp water

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 °F
2) Combine brownie mix, egg, vegetable oil and water
3) Line cookie sheet with parchment paper (we prefer parchment paper over our silicone baking mats to get the right texture and a crispy bottom – because who doesn’t love crispy bottoms?)
4) Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out the mix and place the balls approximately 2 inches apart from each other (we use the ice cream scooper for sizing consistency).
5) Place mini M&M’s onto the cookie balls
6) Once the oven has completed pre-heating, place the tray in the middle rack of the oven
7) Bake at 375 °F for 9 minutes
8) Takes cookies out of the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes
9) Enjoy the ooey gooey chocolatey goodness!