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Warm Up This Winter: Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

With the cold weather this time of year, I am craving warm and satisfying meals. If you know me, I am such a sweet tooth. My days are usually filled with fruit and acai bowls. However, this snowy and cloudy weather has me freezing. I am trying to warm my insides with hot tea and home-cooked meals. I have been seeing acorn squash recipes for a while now on Pinterest and have been dying to try one for myself. Since acorn squash is in season, I decided this would be the perfect time to create a nice healthy recipe with it! It is nutritious, filling, and very tasty.

I cooked this for myself, my brother, and my mom and we all thought it was delicious. Feel free to change up this recipe to satisfy your own taste buds. You can add in veggies such as green beans or chopped carrots, or change the quinoa to wild rice. Taste as you go to see if you want more spices, go crazy! This recipe does takes a while to cook, but it is not difficult at all. Since the dish looks very fancy, it is great to throw together for a nice family dinner. It will make you look and feel like an impressive chef!

2 acorn squashes
1 tablespoon of olive oil or vegan butter (optional)
salt & pepper
½ diced white onion
½ diced red bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
2 handfuls of chopped kale 
1 cup vegetable broth
 ½ cup quinoa
1 can cannellini beans (black beans also work)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
green onions and dried cranberries optional to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the two acorn squashes in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush the olive oil evenly on the yellow part of the acorn squashes and lightly sprinkle on salt and pepper. Fill a baking pan with ½ inch of water. Place the acorn squashes cut-side-up in the baking dish. Place in the oven for about one hour.

While the squash is in the oven, sauté the diced onion, red pepper, and garlic in a pot with just enough water so they do not burn. Once the onions are golden and garlic is fragrant (about five minutes), add in the cup of vegetable broth and half cup of quinoa. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for approximately 30 mins. Once quinoa is cooked thoroughly, add in the kale and can of beans. Stir in 2 tsp of garlic powder, 2 tsp cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Take the acorn squash out of the oven and spoon the quinoa mixture evenly into the acorn squash halves. Garnish with chopped onion and dried cranberries if desired.

Depending on how hungry you are and how large your acorn squash is, this can serve 2-4 people. This recipe tastes best when fresh out of the oven, but you can refrigerate the leftovers for a few days. Enjoy!

Gwen's Musings

Things That Make Me Happy:

  1. I've been invited to a work Christmas dinner at a nice restaurant this weekend. Christmas, you say? Weird, I know, what with it being the second half of January. Anyway, a couple times lately I've gone to restaurants not of my choosing and ended up staring at a menu that contains virtually nothing I can eat. I mean nothing but a green salad. That's it. So I was pleasantly surprised – make that ecstatic – when I went online and googled the restaurant menu and found at least one vegan dish that actually looks good. Yay!!! It's the little things, folks. :)
  2. A couple of months ago my other half bought me an Instant Pot. This is the greatest invention of all the inventions of mankind in the history of the universe. For those of you (and you are few) who don't know what this is, it's a pressure cooker, crock pot, saute etc., etc. cooking device that works wonders. I don't like cooking, but I can quite literally dump a can of tomatoes, some beans, some spices, maybe a handful of veggies into this gadget, turn it on the pressure cooker setting for ten or fifteen minutes and have a meal that is beyond amazing. It's almost impossible to mess up. Every person who doesn't like cooking and every person who does like cooking should buy one. No really.
  3. I work in a hospital, and have for years. For most of this time I was a vegetarian. I've always been pleased that my hospital serves two soups every day and one of them is always vegetarian. I've recently discovered that the vegetarian one is usually vegan! This is a very, very good thing, folks. Nice to know that if I don't pack a lunch I won't starve to death!

Things That Annoy The Bleep Out of Me:

  1. The other day someone threw the old “plants have feelings too” crap at me. The argumentative meat eaters have to do better than this. I cannot sit and have a discussion with someone when that's their argument. If you're going to sit there and tell me that a cow and a cilantro plant are on the same plane, then all I can do is call you bad names in my head. Surely you can do better than this. Try. I'll be waiting.
  2. Oh look! I didn't have to wait long, here comes their second argument. All the vegans are going to die of a protein deficiency. What???? Really? Why didn't anyone tell me? I know! Because IT'S NOT TRUE! Nutrition 101: plants have protein – they have quite a lot. I know, it's hard to believe that not only are the lentil spouts not screaming as I chew them, but they actually have protein in them, and – wait for it – you may want to sit down – they have iron too. Eek!!! Who knew? I did. The other vegans did. Lotsa people did. We are not pale, skinny, sickly people. Trust me.
  3. While I'm on a roll; my vegan dog is not wasting away either. He hikes four to six kilometres most days. He loves his food (he drools all over my kitchen floor while I'm getting it). He has boundless, annoying, bouncing energy, enough to gnaw on the cat and bark at everything that moves outside the window after he's already had a hike He's good. I promise. The dog and I aren't laying in bed, too protein deficient to get up and do stuff – we're probably laying in bed because we just went on a huge hike.

Ah. I feel better now. :)


Pizza on a Plant Based Lifestyle (Part 1)

(photos by Danielle)

Many people think that if you transition to a healthier, more ethical lifestyle that it means that you also have to give up certain foods and sacrifice taste. However, for a lot of the excuse that people give...there are just as many easy solutions that can be solved in a matter of seconds. When a lot of people hear “pizza” one of the first things people usually think of is cheese. However, you do not actually have to give that up because there are so many alternatives. Many places are starting to offer dairy free options and stores are starting to get plant based options that taste like cheese. There is no sacrifice whatsoever to this lifestyle and it will just continue to become easier and easier as it goes on. So many people are lactose intolerant, have allergies, or choose to cut our dairy for health or ethical reasons. Fortunately, you can still have cheese without it coming from a cow, and yes, it tastes just fine and usually exactly the same. 

Unfortunately. some places do not yet offer vegan cheese you will have to make some modifications. However, this is becoming so easy because of all the resources online...the good news is that all you have to do is a simple google search! Also, if you put the right toppings on your pizza, you can still get just as much flavor. I have ordered pizza without cheese and it still has been just as wonderful. Do you want to know how to modify your order and still have that amazing flavor? Keep reading! 

(photos by Danielle)

What I usually do when I order pizza out is I get some barbecue sauce, because I love having that on pizza. Then, I have a bunch of veggie toppings. In the photo above, I have bell peppers, mushrooms, greens and olives. I am one of those people who is always so happy to have my pizza absolutely covered with toppings. 

(photos by Danielle)

If you do your pizza homemade, there are also some great alternatives to cheese and pepperoni you can use. For example, companies like Daiya, Trader Joe's, and Follow your Heart all have vegan cheeses. Yves sells vegan pepponi that I have yet to try, but have heard amazing things about. There are also many options that are premade and frozen if you are running short on time or are not big on cooking. It is also wonderful if you make these at home to top it with nutritional yeast for extra flavor. 

(photos by Danielle)

I usually top my pizzas with some greens bell peppers, olives, red onion, artichoke, and jalapenos. Those are some of my favorite things to get at a number of restaurants. I love eating at UNO bar and grill, snap pizza, and many other places. 

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)
This is one of my favorite things to have when I go out. This was from my recent order at Uno Bar a grill. I ordered the veggie pizza without cheese and I asked for jalapenos and a side of BBQ sauce. 

(photos by Danielle)
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and if you go out to eat, dont be afraid to order one of these options!


Is Veganism Possible for Spoonies? Part 2

There are a few options besides fast food that you have for during a flare or are too tired, when you're not up to cooking, or not up for cooking a lot. These are the tips I've figured out over the years:

Meal prep, and cook in batches. At the beginning of your week, meal prep your food (or the middle, depending on your schedule, and whether you work or not). Or make a large batch of a dish, or a few dishes. Things like soup, chili, and pasta all keep and reheat well. There are practically endless options online, especially on apps/sites like pinterest. Plenty of other suggestions here.

It's really helpful for me to cook in large batches and have leftovers in the fridge or freezer to reheat. Your circumstances may be slightly different, and you may find it more desirable to cook smaller amounts more frequently. Just do whatever you prefer.

Have items on hand to make food prep and storage easier. Such as food processor or mini-chopper; blender; rice cooker; Crock Pot; Instant Pot (I don't have one, but I've seen many people rave about them!); a solid cutting board; decent quality knives, especially ones that feel comfortable in your hands; non-disposable, and disposable food storage containers (Ziploc bags). All of these items can be so helpful.

If you are on a tight budget, you can shop for small appliances and many kitchen items at thrift stores. Or, keep an eye out for when they are on sale. Winter holidays, Mother's Day, late Spring/early Summer, and late Summer/early Autumn are times I know they tend to be on sale. You can also request things for birthday/holiday gifts, or just buy items as your budget allows.

Eco tip: you can reuse the jars and vessels your food is sold in; just be sure to not freeze untempered glass, and only microwave microwave-safe items! Use disposables as necessary. Ziploc bags, paper plates, etc can be beneficial, so there is less cleaning to do. My environmentally-friendly side totally cringes, but I say it's worth it if it helps me stay a vegan (yes there are paper plates in my cupboard as we speak!). Veganism has such a tremendous positive impact, that some disposables are definitely OK in my book!

Have some processed foods on hand. It's not the healthiest option, but it's better than nothing. Things like canned soups, macaroni and cheese or cheeze, other boxed pasta and rice dishes, frozen foods, etc. Stuff you can quickly pop in the microwave or oven, and can eat.

You can do tons with frozen vegetables, canned beans, dried pasta or other grain product, and frozen protein items like burgers or chick'n patties, etc. Frozen veggies are an absolute lifesaver for me. They are super versatile, inexpensive, readily available at most stores, already prepped, stay fresh indefinitely, and just as nutritious as fresh. They really help fill out your meals, and can be found for $1.00 or even less. You can buy bags of chopped onions, peppers, stir-fry blends, soup starters; and of course individual veggies like peas and corn. Any of these could be added to macaroni & cheeze, stir-fries with fresh vegetables, pasta dishes, chilli, stews, pasta salad, and/or tofu scramble.

Also, you can find packages that contain veggies and grain products like rice, pasta, etc. These can be eaten alone, or with some protein food for a complete meal in minutes. I really like to add some onions, garlic, edamame to the stir-fry/noodle blends; that's just one of many options. One other benefit of frozen foods, is you can always prepare only the amount needed then, and save the rest for another meal.

Much of the same can be said for frozen fruit, as well. It can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, desserts, etc. I personally like letting it thaw slightly, and eating it plain for a snack. There's something about the partially frozen texture that makes it taste much sweeter. You could also add sweetener, cinnamon or other desired spice, and top with vegan whipped topping for a super easy & simple dessert.

I hope this gives you some more idea of how veganism can be possible for you! Be sure to read Part 1. The final post will be up in 2 weeks. Until then, peace, love, and veggies--Dawn ❤

Expectations Versus Acceptance

Hi it's Trudy.

Hope everyone had a good week and that you all enjoyed my first blog.

For this week's topic, I wanted to focus  on the words "acceptance" and "expectations". Although these are single words they both hold tremendous weight in our overall happiness. I am going to start with the word "EXPECTATIONS". In my humble opinion, unrealistic expectations pave the way for nothing except disappointment. Think about when you told your family and friends that you are no longer eating meat. What was their reaction? Hopefully it was a positive one, one that was encouraging and praising your choice. More often than not, it was not necessarily what you hoped or expected. If you set an expectation that you going to lose 20 pounds in a month and only lose 5 pounds, you will be disappointed in the results. If you expectation was different and you only expected to lose 5 pounds, you would have a achieved your goal and celebrated the accomplishment.
If you expect one reaction and someone reacts differently, how does that make you feel? When you share great news, do you automatically expect the person you are sharing it with to be happy for you? Unfortunately, this is not always the case and once again disappointment can set in. Television and magazine ads are all staged. The models always have picture perfect hair,skin and bodies with the help of air brushing and photo shop. This is not reality. Does your hair always come out like the picture? Probably not. I know mine doesn't. Do you ever get a blemish at the worst time possible? I know I have. Although these things may seem insignificant in the overall scheme of things, they can ruin your day if you let them. This is where "ACCEPTANCE" comes in. Acceptance does not mean that you are agreeing, condoning or even like something. In life, there are things within your  control and other things which are out of your control. The trick is to know the difference and then decide how YOU will handle it. The only thing we can really control is our own actions and reactions. Some people are just not capable of being the person we want or expect them to be. Knowing the type of individual you are dealing with will help you choose that way you react to them/ The other part of acceptance is accepting yourself where you are at the moment and enjoying every day. So back to the bad hair day. That does not define who you are or what you are capable of. I'll tell you a secret, no one cares about it or will even notice unless you point it out. What they will notice is how you show up. If you are confident and accepting of your self, this is what will get noticed and will grab their attention. Going back to last week's blog, we tend to magnify the "bad" things. If a bad hair day is the worst thing that ever happens, life will be amazing. Acceptance of yourself is a priority, set realistic goals and you will get the results you expect with no disappointment. Goals are attainable one day at a time. Whether it is diet, exercise or something else, celebrate your accomplishments everyday no matter how small, You may even want to add them to your gratitude jar!

When you think about it, everyone is different and the world would be a boring place it we were all the same. Everyone is exactly who they are supposed to be. Since there are no scripts in life, we can't expect everyone to know exactly what to say or do in every situation. At times, we set expectations in our minds but don't tell anyone what they are so they don't have a clue what we actually want from them. But yet when we don't get the response we want we get disappointed or angry or even resentful. So in reality we are the ones that set ourselves up for a fall. Sometimes we don't even know what we want them to do or say but know whatever they did was wrong. If you remember the phrase "they are what they are and they are what they aren't" it makes it easier to know what you can expect from someone. Think about it, once you know what you can expect from someone or maybe realize in some cases you can expect nothing at all, it will allow you to accept the person for who they are and help you to deal with the situation. It is not about you, they are who they are. There are friends and family that are sympathetic and those who are judgmental or opinionated.  You have to know your audience. I can almost guarantee that you will be a lot happier once you start looking at things from this perspective. I know I am. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic so feel free to share or comment.

As I said last week, I was going to share some quick easy recipes. The ingredients I am going to work with this week are carrots, coconut milk and fresh ginger.  This is one of my staples and is incredibly simple and an absolutely delicious soup which is perfect for on a cold day. It doesn't take much but it is so good. All you need is a pot and a blender. You can easily expand the recipe if you are cooking for a crowd. This soup originated with a bunch of carrots that were getting soft and I just didn't know what to do with them. I am not really a fan of cooked carrots and they were beyond the point of just eating them raw. So I took a chance and made them into soup and it was a huge hit. I have even substituted canned pumpkin and have added apple cider if I didn't have coconut milk readily available. When I cook there is no right or wrong so I encourage you to experiment.

After I peeled the ginger, I chopped it into little pieces. I used 5 carrots for this recipes since that was what I had in the fridge. After peeling and cutting the carrots into pieces I added a 1/2 tablespoon of the fresh ginger however you can adjust to taste. ( you can also use ground ginger if you don't have ginger root on hand.) I added enough water to the pan to cover my carrots and ginger and cooked them until the carrots were fork tender. If you need to add more water that is fine since you don't want them to burn but remember the liquid is the base of your soup. In a blender put carrots with remaining water and blend until you have a puree, at that point add a cup of coconut milk and blend again to get that smooth, creamy texture. This recipe will yield about 2 portions or one generous serving if you don't want to share.

You can add salt and pepper to taste or even a sprinkle of cinnamon. Sometimes I add fresh cilantro as I did on the above picture. There is no right or wrong, if you like a thicker soup add more carrots and less water, for thinner soup add more coconut milk, vegetable broth or water. It is all up to you, get creative. Hope you enjoy the bowl of soup as much as I did. Looking forward to reading some of your variations.

Aside from cooking, one of my other passions are animals as I mentioned last week. From the time I was a child, I wanted to bring home every abandoned animal that I came across and over the years many of them were welcomed into our family. I wanted to share how I acquired my current brood with you and hopefully it may inspire you to open your heart and home so that you can experience the unconditional love and devotion of a rescue pet.

This is Colby's story.

The Christmas before last my husband kept asking me what I wanted. I basically have everything that I need and I am working on reducing clutter and want to simplify my life. The last thing I needed was more stuff. So I had the thought of giving an animal a home for Christmas. This is how we got Colby. My husband searched the internet for days until he came upon the picture of this little guy. When he showed me, I immediately fell in love. The picture posted of him said he was at a number of pet fairs but he was still waiting for a home for Christmas. His story was that some nice lady found him when he was a tiny kitten and took him to the vet because he had a badly infected eye.The vet could not treat the infection and the little fellow had to have his eye removed. He wound up at a rescue and was being fostered after his surgery. After I saw his  picture on the website, I called to see how I could go about making him part of our family. I spoke to a wonderful woman who was actually Colby's foster mom and she offered to bring the kitten to our house to meet us. As soon as she walked in and took him out of the carrier, I knew he was never leaving. She told me that she had a really good feeling after we spoke on the phone. I had explained to her that we had other pets with special needs so he would fit right in. Colby got his wish and the best gift ever, he got a home for Christmas. In all reality I don't know who got the better gift him or me, he is the most lovable little guy you could ever meet and he is one of the best Christmas presents I ever got!

Just a couple of ideas how you can help animals in need even if you can't adopt. Share posts on Facebook of lost pets or animals that are in shelters that are up for adoption. The more their story and picture gets shared the better their chance of finding a home or being reunited with their family. You can also call your local shelter to see if they need blankets, sheets and towels. This is a great way to recycle and jump start your spring cleaning while helping unfortunate animals in the process. Finally if you are looking for a pet please consider adoption before purchasing an animal, you won't regret it

My boy Colby

And remember once you accept yourself, set realistic goals and celebrate your progress along the way you won't expect anyone to make you feel good. You are in control of how you feel!

Don't forget to like "The Smoothie Vegetarian" page to make sure you always get the latest information and look for my updates every Tuesday!

Finally please like, share and comment on this post if you found it enlightening or interesting. Have a great week!

With Gratitude,

Vegan Crockpot Curry Chickpeas Recipe

This is my personal favorite recipe: a vegan version of butter chicken. But since there is neither butter nor chicken in it, the name doesn't make much sense. So we just call it "curry chickpeas" around here. It's rich, creamy and full of flavor. Served over rice or with some flatbread, it's a perfect hot meal when you can't be bothered to do much in the kitchen. Not that I'm a lazy cook or anything.

vegan crockpot chickpea recipe
Here is my latest batch of curry chickpeas, cooking away. Do you like my lovely new teapot?

The key to this dish is replacing the butter with coconut milk. And to be clear, this recipe is calling for the thick, creamy stuff you buy in the cans. I suppose you could sub in a non-dairy milk that comes in a carton, the kind for drinking, but it won't be as thick. If you try this, feel free to leave a comment on how it turns out.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk 
  • 1 14-oz can plain tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala spice blend
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (if you like a little heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 small onion, diced up
  • 1 cup chickpeas (soaked or canned)
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 package of firm tofu, cut into chunks

Whisk garlic, coconut milk, tomato sauce and your spices together until it's all nicely combined and blended. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, and toss those in with the onion, cauliflower and tofu. Stir so that everything is covered in the liquid, and turn on the slow-cooker (also known as a Crockpot). Let it simmer on low for about 5 hours, and you are ready to serve. I usually start ours right after I eat lunch, and it's ready for dinner. The actual prep time is under 15 minutes. 

If you're serving it over rice, you'll want to get that started about half an hour before you want to eat. Having it with flatbread or naan means you don't really have to do anything at all.

vegan crockpot recipes
It's a hearty and flavorful dish, served over rice for an easy meal

This batch will serve about 4 people, but you may be able to stretch it to 6 if you have lots of rice. It heats up very nicely for leftovers too.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it doesn't leave me with a ton of mess or trash at the end either. I mix up the sauce right in the crockpot so there are no bowls to wash, and the ingredients leave me with 3 cans for recycling. All I have to throw out is the plastic from the tofu. So it's vegan, gluten-free and environmentally-friendly too.

Using a cup of chickpeas tends to leave you with about half a can leftover. If that ends up leading to waste for you, you can either use the whole can and cut down on the cauliflower for this dish, or maybe use the remaining chickpeas in a small batch of hummus or even a sandwich spread (stay tuned for more recipes on those coming up!)

Oh, you're stuck without a jar of garam masala? Well, that's not good. Thankfully, it's a spice blend you can make up yourself if you have a decent selection of other spices in the cupboard. You'll need these ground spices: 1 tbs cumin, 1 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Just stir well, and you have your own homemade garam masala.

Breathing Exercises To Calm Your Nervous System

When you get anxious, your breathing goes shallow and fast. Paying attention to your breath and focusing on slow, steady breathing in turn helps calm your nervous system down. That’s why these simple exercises work so well.

While none of the breathing exercises I’m about to share with you are complicated, by far the simplest one is breath counting. Take slow and steady breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Start counting each exhale. By the time you get to twenty, you should feel noticeably calmer. 

Another good exercise is to find a calming breathing rhythm. Start by breathing in through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for two seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for six seconds. After a minute or two you should start to feel noticeably calmer. Keeping this steady, slow rhythm of breathing melts stress and anxiety away. 

Another great technique if you have the opportunity to sit or lay down is to practice abdominal breathing. Get comfortable, relax, and place one hand on your stomach. Start breathing in and focus you mind on the feeling of your stomach rising. Slowly breathe back out and pay attention to how your hand lowers back down. Keep breathing slow and steady focusing your mind on your abdomen. If this isn’t an option, you can instead focus your mind on how the air feels flowing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
It’s important that you practice these breathing techniques before you find yourself in a stressful or anxious situation. Make it a habit to practice them daily so you’re comfortable with the exercises when you need them. You don’t want to have to focus on what you’re doing, or worse, worry about whether or not you’re doing them right. Instead, you want to practice each breathing exercise until it becomes a habit and something you can do in your sleep. 

Practice and then implement any of these techniques whenever you feel anxious. They are a great way to calm down almost instantly. They are also very helpful when you are having a hard time falling asleep. Practice your breathing exercises in bed and it won’t take long before you start drifting off to sleep. 

My Morning Routine for the Upcoming Semester

Photo credit
Being healthy in college seems incredibly difficult from the outside. Most of the people I know don't like to get up early. Most of the people I know like to stay out incredibly late, roll out of bed in the morning, and go to class in their pajamas. That just simply isn't me. Some days, it is me, but 9 times out of 10, I'm up hours before class.

An average day for me starts around 6:30 to 7:30 am. I wake up, and the first thing I do is open the windows in my dorm room. I like to watch the sunrise. It is a beautiful, just me moment, before my day gets hectic. I take this moment, it's maybe 5-10 minutes, to just be thankful for my day.  I also start brewing my morning cup of coffee or tea at this time.

The next thing I usually do, is I grab my shower shoes, put them on, and head to the bathroom. I usually tie my hair back (side note: keep a headband and a hair tie in your shower caddy. It will change your life.) and wash my face. I usually use the Origins Zero Oil line, the face wash, toner, and moisturizer. This stuff smells like mint, which is exactly what I want in the morning to help me wake up.

Another tip: Don't wash your face with your hands, even if you have just washed them. Use a fresh washcloth, or a facial sponge you keep clean. There are plenty of nasty germs on your hands, and on the bottles of the face wash, toner, or moisturizer that you are then transferring to your skin.

I then brush my teeth with my wooden toothbrush and my Tom's of Maine toothpaste. I also floss with their floss and then rinse my mouth with their mouthwash. I've never ever had a problem with my teeth, and my dentist was shocked when I told her what I used. Actually, shocked would be an understatement.

I then head back to my room to do my morning meditation and prayers. It's only about 15-30 minutes, but doing this in the morning has helped me to get focused, and get mentally prepared to start my day. Meditation and morning prayers puts me in a good spot to start my day.

After all of this, I head back to my room to get dressed for the day. I usually pick out my clothes and pack my bag the night before, so it is easy for me to be ready to go in the morning. After I get dressed, I grab my bag, put my coffee or tea into a reusable mug, and I'm out the door to head to get breakfast and study before class.

I hope this helps people to start a morning ritual or routine. Having structure in my life helps me to get prepared to take on the world.

Until next time,


Odd Man Out

I started a new job this week; a really great job. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. I've been off work for awhile dealing with a chronic illness and I had to make a major career change and go into something physically easier, so it's a huge change. I got up early, put on my brand new outfit, flat ironed my hair and went back into the working world.

I was extremely nervous. I am qualified, but still it's been a long time since I did this kind of work, and like most people, I wanted my new coworkers to like me. I was on my best behavior, trying to smile as much as possible without looking insane (I have what the internet calls “resting bitch face”!) so I'm always paranoid in a new situation that people will think I look unapproachable. Five minutes in, I'm not kidding – five minutes – my new coworker, the woman I will sit beside every day, whips out a few cartons of eggs and tells me she has a small farm and sells eggs at work. People are coming into our office from other offices and giving her money – apparently, it's egg day and her eggs are the best. This woman tells me that she sells out every week and if I want some she'll put them aside. I thank her as kindly as I'm able, and say “I'm vegan”. Silence. Dead silence. You could actually hear a paperclip drop. Recovering (not very quickly), she smiles and says “Oh......”. And that was that. The other coworker in the room looked from me to the other lady kind of like she was at a ping pong match.

I swear, at the word “vegan” I actually felt the air in the room change; a different mood settled. The rest of the day was fine, these women were really lovely, but I wonder why it is that telling someone you're vegan is almost taboo in some (many) circles. I could have said I'm allergic to eggs, and I'm pretty sure I'd have received nothing but understanding and sympathetic cooing. Having an allergy is not a choice and maybe that's the tipping point although when I was a vegetarian (which is a choice as well obviously) people would just nod and smile; it was acceptable to be a vegetarian. Say you're a vegan and some people freeze up – they really don't know how to respond.

I felt the need to explain. I told her my daughter loves eggs and I'd check with her and maybe buy some next week. Why did I do this? I have no intention of buying the eggs. Ever. And yet I felt a need to make her feel better, and to make excuses for not buying them by saying I had to check with my daughter first. This made me extremely annoyed with myself and my inability to just say what I feel.

My hope is that as time goes on they'll see I'm just a regular person like they are, and maybe, just maybe some good dialogue will happen and I can have some conversations about why, and how and all that good stuff. I guess some of the blame is on me as well, because when my coworker took out the carton of eggs, a little piece of me died inside. I thought “Oh no, here it comes, I have to explain myself right off the top!”. Vegan is who I am, and what I am, and so I need to own it and stop justifying myself to people all the time. Perhaps people's reaction is based on how I present myself; maybe there's a defensive tone there, as opposed to a plain old conversational one.

The next time I'm offered food at work, or the subject of veganism comes up, I'll put on my best non-resting bitch face and talk about the great new vegan work lunch recipes I found on the internet. :)


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