Veganizing Breakfast

Hello everyone,

I hope you had a great week and are ready for the weekend!  I know I am–I had a stressful week as my student teacher decided to quit after only a few weeks in.  The resignation came out of nowhere, so I really had to scramble to make sure I was prepped to teach all of my classes each day.  I was upset at first, but now I’m glad to have complete control of my class back as I don’t want someone who isn’t passionate about teaching running my classroom.

I decided to make ahead some breakfasts for the week as I knew my life was going to be crazier than usual. I honestly have a really tough time with breakfast and don’t eat it half of the time.  I get to work around 6:30 or 6:45 a.m., and I’m usually very busy from then on.  I will drink a lot of coffee, but sometimes I can’t make myself eat breakfast even if I bring it.  I also try not to ever eat in front of my students, so if I don’t have time to eat before they arrive, I just forget about it.

I know it’s really important for me to eat breakfast if I want to be on top of my game, so I’m going to try my best to be organized enough to make that happen.

Something I used to do to “treat” myself in the morning was stop by Starbucks once a week and get a fancy specialty latte and their spinach feta wrap.  But I was starting my day with a lot of sugar and sodium (not to mention $10+), so now that I don’t do that, I definitely feel better.

This week I decided to use some steel-cut oats I had forever (and just now expired) to make mason jar oatmeals.  I wanted to customize them each day in order to entice me into eating them since I get bored so easily.  I have a microwave in my classroom, so these were easy to heat up each day.  I came up with so many combinations with items I already had in my pantry and need to use up.  I did (left to right): apple pie (oats, almond milk, cinnamon applesauce, and fresh apples), raisin oatmeal cookie (oats, almond milk, cinnamon agave syrup, raisins, and toasted almonds), peanut butter chocolate banana (oats, almond milk, banana, cacao powder, peanut butter powder, and peanuts), cashew coconut banana (oats, almond milk, banana, cashews, unsweetened almond flakes), and berry delight (oats, almond milk, blueberries, blackberries, and toasted almonds).

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Each one tasted great, but my favorites were the oatmeal cookie and cashew coconut banana.  Since I am almost out of steel-cut oats, I think I will try it with regular oatmeal next week.

And even though I meal prepped pretty well this week, I needed something different tonight, so I made some mashed potato waffles.  I have been craving potatoes lately, so I steamed some russets in my Instant Pot and mashed with sauteed onions and garlic.  I then put in some almond milk, Earth Balance, and Daiya cream cheese and seasoned with a ton of smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. IMG_20180125_183533518.jpg The result was even better than I imagined!It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten!  I made enough for a few waffles, so I am really looking forward to eating them as leftovers!



Learning from Mistakes

Whenever my students make mistakes (big like failing my class or small like failing a quiz), I always remind them that failure is a requirement for growth.  They usually don’t understand this concept because they’re teenagers and every little thing is the end of the world, but I think it’s important for them to be able to fail, pick up, and move on every once in a while.

Failure is admittedly also difficult for me because I’m such a perfectionist.  I’ve been working on “failing” and forgiving myself lately.

I felt a lot of failure this weekend when I didn’t stick to my new vegan diet.  I had been so good for about two weeks only to blow it on Saturday and Sunday.

We had a game night at our house on Saturday night, and everyone brought a little something.  My husband was sweet enough to buy me some ($10!!!) vegan cheese from the supermarket, and it was delicious.  He made a regular cheese plate for everyone else, but that isn’t what tempted me and I didn’t touch it.  My friend brought a cream cheese taco dip type thing, and I felt badly about the fact nobody was eating it, so I had some.  I know this isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but as I said before, I’m a perfectionist and don’t handle failure very well.

On Sunday, we went snowshoeing for a few hours and then decided to go to a local brewery for food and beer afterward. IMG_20180114_160458_301 I caved there too when I ordered a veggie sandwich with cheese.  I was so hungry from our strenuous activity that I didn’t even stop to think about it.  And it almost felt like, well, I already screwed this up so I might as well go for gold.

But I think the all or nothing mindset is one I’ve always had when trying to go strict vegetarian (or make other big lifestyle changes), and it usually backfires in one way or another.  If I mess up once, it isn’t worth it anymore.  That is obviously a destructive mindset that does little to motivate one to endure adversity.  It can also bring down your self worth, which isn’t great, either.

So, instead of beating myself up about it, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started fresh yesterday.  And it wasn’t hard because on the drive home, I passed two livestock trucks carrying pigs, and as I looked over and saw their eyes peering out at me in despair from the darkness, I remembered why I’m doing what I’m doing and why it’s so important.

To keep me from straying, I packed a delicious yet frugal lunch/snacks–cashews (the best!!!), pasta w/marinara, artichokes, and white beans (aka I’m poor right now and can’t spend a ton on groceries), and veggies w/guac.IMG_20180116_171942363

I also had a great dinner of a Dr. Praeger burger topped with So Delicious shreds, frozen mixed veg, and a yummy salad with Sprouts Lemon Tahini dressing.


Something else really awesome today–I got my copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry! I am so excited to use it to make staples so I don’t have to buy so many vegan foods in wasteful plastic packaging.  I can’t wait to start experimenting with it.

And although I’m a bit late, I’d like to acknowledge MLK for being someone who inspired me to care so much about animal rights.  I’ve always respect MLK for his stance and activism on human rights, of course, but I’m always impressed at how progressive his stance on animals rights was at the time.  Right now, some quotes of his I’m keeping in mind are: “The time is always right to do what’s right” and “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?'”

I am concerned about animal rights not only because I love and care about animals and the environment upon which our meat and dairy addiction is wreaking havoc, I also care about the people who are forced to work in slaughterhouses and are being exploited by a cruel and inhumane system.  These people are often immigrants, paid poorly for soul-crushing and dangerous work, and don’t always have another choice when trying to feed and clothe their families.

I don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes–I have never been so desperate I’d take any job to support myself.  I’ve never been hungry or jobless.  I have never had to run from a dangerous situation and immerse myself in a culture completely foreign to me.

And I think it’s really easy for animal rights activists to have zero compassion for those who do work in slaughterhouses or on dairy farms, but I think we must acknowledge a corrupt and unequal socioeconomic system before we chastise those who find work there.  If we don’t have compassion and forgiveness for all, we will never make the changes we so wish to see.

I can only imagine a world where there is kindness and equality toward everyone including animals.  So, instead of judging those who contribute to the needless suffering of animals, I will do my best to contribute to the goodness of the world by doing what I can and making small changes that will hopefully impact someone, somewhere.

Packing Vegan Lunches

When I started veganism, I was at home on winter break.  I am a high school teacher, and we had two weeks off for the holiday.  I had time to cook, meal prep, and get creative with recipes.

I went back to work this week and was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my new years vegan goals.  I try to meal prep the best I can, but I am not one of those people who likes to make the same meals to last the whole week.  I like to vary it up a bit, but sometimes that requires time I may not have.

I am lucky in that I get 45 minutes for lunch, a rarity for most teachers.  I also teach in a school near several reasonably priced and quick restaurants.  Many of them have great vegan options including healthy soups and salads, but in order to save money and time, I bring my lunch and plenty of snacks on most days.  I also bring my breakfast as I usually get to work between 6:30 and 7 a.m., and I don’t like to eat before that.

This week I had some leftover vegan pizza with lots of veggies, which was pretty awesome because it made making lunches easy.  I packed some non-dairy yogurt and fruit, homemade granola, nuts, and celery+hummus.  If you can believe it, this isn’t enough food to last me throughout the day before dinner, so I often eat a Larabar, too.  To be fair, I also work out and walk my dogs about three miles a day in addition to all the walking I do at work, so I am also burning calories.



After I ran out of leftover pizza, I switched to a stir-fry with noodles and marinated tofu, and will finish up tomorrow with an everything bagel with marinara and So Delicious shredded mozzarella.  This is kind of a lazy/unhealthy lunch, but it’s good to treat yourself on Fridays.  I also made my favorite breakfast in the Instantpot, mango sticky rice with coconut milk.  I got the recipe from High Carb Hannah, and it is one of my favorites.  I topped it with a bit of coconut sugar.


I sometimes get a sweet tooth at work, especially in the afternoons.  I’ve been pretty good this week as there isn’t much vegan candy available, so I’ve been drinking the Tazo vanilla bean macaron tea because it reminds me of dessert, and I managed to find some Jolly Ranchers today as well.

Other than that, being vegan has been super easy this week.  I bought myself some delicious Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy Cherry Garcia, and it made my week.  I also made some vegan nachos with sweet potato tortilla chips, corn, beans, tomatoes, and So Delicious cheese.  It was amazing.





Why Vegan?

I’ve never been a big meat eater.  Even though I married someone from Wisconsin (lots of meat & cheese, obviously) who also hunts regularly, even the smell of meat cooking sometimes makes me nauseous.  I have been consuming non-dairy milk for years as real milk grosses me out.  I love veggies and fruits, and I often opt for the vegetarian option.

This coupled with the fact that consuming meat/dairy/eggs fuels an inhumane and unethical industry that is tough on the environment brings me to the conclusion that it’s time to go vegan.

Biggest challenges:

  1. Will need discipline to avoid my favorite: CHEESE
  2. Lack of access to artisan vegan items (ie cheeses, desserts, etc.) due to location, although local grocery stores do offer decent vegan options
  3. Married to a hunter/meat and cheese eater
  4. Lack of access to vegan items at social events/local restaurants
  5. Coming up with a variety of vegan menu ideas

I am excited to see how Veganism impacts my health and life!