Category: food

A Resolution Worth Keeping

As the year comes to an end, consider adding one more resolution to your list: Meatless Monday. 

I know many of you may be thinking that dinner is not dinner without meat, or that you won’t know what to cook (more on that later), but I hope you will see that the benefits of going a day without meat far outweigh any inconveniences.


By cutting out meat just one day a week you will:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, and diabetes. Basically, less meat = better health. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of choosing veggies over steak check out this article by ABC News, in conjunctuon with Or, if you’re more of a visual learner, I highly recommend the documentary What the Health on Netflix!
  • Help the environment. By cutting down on your meat consumption, you will also be reducing greenhouse gases and your water use. According to, “If you eat one less burger a week, it would be the equivalent to taking your car off the road for 320 miles.” So, by skipping meat you can feel less guilty about driving to the CVS around the block when you could have walked.
  • Minimize your grocery bill. Of course, this depends on what you replace meat with. You won’t see a significant difference if you choose to go out to eat every Monday or if you replace it with fake meat.
  • Save animals. If the demand for meat lowers, less animals will need to die for our food.

OK, so maybe you’re sold on cutting down on meat, but you’re still worried about what to eat instead. Thankfully there are tons of recipes online. If you’re in the mood for a specific dish, a quick Google search can tell you how to make it vegan/vegetarian. Another useful resource for recipes is YouTube; I find that the recipes tend to be much more user-friendly than what you would find elsewhere. I recommend watching some of Caitlin Shoemaker’s videos. She has a playlist of 74 vegan recipe videos – some of which are so easy that they can be made in a dorm room!

However, if you’re not up for searching, I have a few meal ideas to share with you here. I have to warn you – I hate cooking, so these are very simple recipes and they may not satisfy the hard-to-please!

  1. Taco Night! If you usually do Taco Tuesday, switch it to Monday and take out the meat. This is my favorite thing to make and eat because it’s cheap, but still so filling and delicious! Here’s what I usually have:
    • Corn and Wheat Tortillas from Trader Joe’s
    • Black beans (canned)
    • Pico de Gallo (also from Trader Joe’s, but if I don’t want to spend the $$ I just chop up some tomatoes #broke)
    • White rice
    • Guacamole
    • *If you find you’re really missing beef on taco night, I recommend Trader Joe’s Beef-less Crumbles. The crumbles do look a bit unappetizing at first, but once they’re cooked they taste great!
    • *The taco kits that you can buy in the supermarket come with taco shells and seasoning (all completely vegan). Just add the seasoning to the beans or the beef-less crumble and you’re halfway there!
  2. Fake Meat. I go through phases with fake meat. I either don’t touch it for years or I eat it once a week. Lately, it’s been the latter and I have been really into all of Gardien’s products, which can be found in most grocery stores. Specifically, I really like their Crispy Tenders and their Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n. Cook any of these fake meats, then add some rice and veggies and you have a quick + easy meatless meal!
  3. Pasta. This is my go-to meal when I’m feeling lazy. It requires a long list of ingredients, so get ready! You will need:
    • Pasta (I try to buy a “healthier” pasta when I can, like gluten free or brown rice pasta)
    • Jarred sauce (be sure to check that there’s no meat in it)
    • A fresh baguette so that you don’t feel too lame
    • Vegan Parmesan cheese (or regular if you’re not trying to cut out dairy).
  4. Stir fry. Start with a base of rice and a protein (beans, tofu, or my personal favorite -seitan) and then go where you want with it! Add in some veggies and then add any kind of flavor, like soy sauce or an Indian simmer sauce (I love the goan coconut one that I discovered from Thrive Market).
  5. Pizza.  If you’re okay with dairy, you can order pizza from your local pizza place and as long as you skip pepperoni or sausage it’s meatless! So easy, right? However, if you want to save some money and opt for the dairy-free option, here’s what you’ll need:
    • Pizza crust (Almost all grocery stores carry pizza crusts, but I prefer the ones from Trader Joe’s.)
    • Jarred sauce (Don’t forget to check the label for milk or meat.)
    • Vegan cheese (There’s a bunch of different kinds, but my favorite is Daiya cheese, which can be found at Whole Food’s.)
    • Fresh basil (If you want to mix things up and get a little fancy.)

I hope this helps! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help with your resolution or if you have questions about something written here.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

For more information on Meatless Monday, visit



When You’re Not Ready to go Vegan…

Switching to a vegan diet is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel a lot better, I learned to cook a lot more (as a vegetarian I relied on pasta and pizza way too much) and I am somehow happier. While my hope is that more people will start to see how amazing veganism is, I also understand that it’s a huge, often daunting step for most. So, whether you want to cut out meat, but you’re just not ready, or you can’t fathom ever saying goodbye to steak – making five small changes to your everyday diet can make a big difference- in your health, your wallet, and the environment.

  1. Switch to non-dairy milk. In what seems like just a few short years, the variety of non-dairy milk choices has increased significantly. So much so, that the dairy industry is fighting to block dairy-free milk companies from using the term “milk”. The dairy industry is losing sales, and it’s clear why. Plant-based milk (whether its almond, soy, cashew, coconut, hemp, or one of the many other choices) is easier on the stomach, much healthier (it turns out milk does not build strong bones), and there are no cows harmed in the making. While you probably will notice a difference if you’re just drinking a glass, it will be hard to tell whether it’s plant or animal based if you pour non-dairy milk into your cereal or cup of coffee.
  2. Trade your butter for Earth Balance Butter. I used to have butter and toast every morning before work, so once I became vegan butter is the first thing
    EB2I had to find a replacement for. Thank god for Earth Balance! Earth Balance “butter” can be found in just about any grocery store, it tastes exactly like real butter (I have several non-vegan friends that can attest to this), it’s non-GMO, has 0g trans fat, and best of all – it’s cruelty free. Next time you run out of butter, consider buying Earth Balance brand instead. It’s a small change that goes a long way!
  3. Buy flaxseed mealAccording to, “King Charlemagne believed in the power of flaxseeds so strongly, that he passed a law requiring all of his subjects to consume it.” It turns out he wasn’t wrong to put so much faith in flaxseed 1236c164_goldenflaxseedmeal_f_hr– it’s filled with Omega-3 fatty acids and it has been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. So how do you use it? Sprinkle flaxseeds on top of toast or add it to your morning smoothie- you will barely notice them, but you’ll still reap all of their benefits! Flaxseeds also make a great egg replacement (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal and 3 Tbsp water for each egg). Bake a cake using flaxseed meal instead of eggs and you can call it “healthy” ;).
  4. Switch to non-dairy ice cream at home. There are tons of dairy-free ice creams out there, and you no longer need to find the nearest Whole Foods to find one. You can find brands like SoDelicious and Ben & Jerry’s at most grocery stores. (Yes, you read that right. Ben and jerry’s now makes dairy free options of classic flavors!) If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I recommend trying their Soy Creamy vanilla ice cream; it’s not as pricey as some non-dairy ice cream tends to be, and it comes in a bigger size! Dairy-free ice cream is just as good as the real thing, but there’s no animal products in it, so you can feel better about every
  5. Meatless Mondays. You’ve probably heard the term “meatless Mondays”, but you might not have heard why it’s such a great step in the right direction. By skipping meat just one day a week, you can help reduce global warming and significantly improve your own health by reducing your risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

There you have it – five small steps that make a big difference. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas of small changes that move in the right direction!




Trader Joe’s Shopping List

The first time I stepped into a Trader Joe’s store I felt lost. I was enticed by the beachy theme and overall feel of the place, but I had absolutely no idea where anything was. I ended up wandering the store for thirty minutes and leaving empty-handed because the odd cashier setup was too intimidating. Thankfully, I have overcome my fear of the unknown and I am now a weekly shopper at Trader Joe’s (applause).

So, without further ado – my Trader Joe’s Shopping list:

1. Quinoa Bread –Quinoa bread is softer than wheat or multigrain, and healthier unnamed.jpgthan white bread – just toast, add a little (vegan) butter and it’s the perfect before-work breakfast!

2. Tofu Edamame Nuggets (or as I like to call them, ficken nuggets) – When I first became vegetarian I frequently bought, and relied on, fake meat. Fake meat is good for the transition period from carnivore to vegetarian, but it shouldn’t be included in your daily meal plan – it’s too processed. While Trader Joe’s Tofu Edamame Nuggets only have a slightly better score on Fooducate than my old go-to (Quorn Chik’n nuggets), they taste a lot better, and I love that you can see the edamame when you bite into it.

3.. Organic Brown Rice Quinoa Fuselli Pasta (also available as spaghetti pasta)unnamed-2.jpg – My older brother is a chef, so I like to say that he got all of the “cooking genes”. He can make an amazing meal with whatever he can find in the kitchen, while I will follow a recipe step-by-step, only to throw it out and order a pizza. That being said, pasta is usually my go-to meal, so making organic brown rice quinoa pasta (try saying that ten times fast!) makes me feel a bit less guilty about all of the carbs.

4. Spanakopita – While I can’t even begin to pronounce this, it’s delicious, easy to make, and high in vitamin A!

5. Chocolate Ice Cream (made with coconut milk) – I try my best to stay away from dairy (keyword: try) this is a great vegan alternative to my absolute favorite food!

6. Trader Giotto’s Kale, Sweet Potato, and Butternut Squash Pizza – I never would havunnamed-3.jpge thought to pick something like this up, but when a kind lady offers you a free taste of it (yay free samples!) you gladly accept…and then promptly buy four pies to bring home. Trust me on this one, you won’t be sorry you tried it out!

7. EnviroKidz Chocolate Choco Chimps Cereal – Yes, these are for kids, but I loveee them. They taste just like Coco Puffs, but without all of the milk and sugar – not only are these vegan and gluten free, but they are also created by a company committed to sustainability and healthy eating (1% of EnviroKidz sales goes to helping the planet).

8. Pizza “burgers” – Okay so I really like pizza (hence my hesitance to go vegan). I unnamed-4.jpgpicked these up in a rush on my way to a bbq and they quickly made it on to my list of favorites!

9. Soycutash – Sweet corn, shelled edamame, and red peppers! Delicious and a high score on Fooducate (yess!). This is meant to be eaten warm, but try it cold (it’s much better). Heat it as instructed, leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours, and then enjoy!

4-trader-joe-s-dog-treats-for-puppies-and-dogs-chicken-recipe-jerky-strips-0bda39d20a2052980a7d615067b03b1c.jpgand don’t forget that special dog in your life.

10. Chicken Recipe Jerky Strips – My dog is very picky when it comes to dog treats (that may or may not be because we fed her human food since she was a puppy), but she goes crazy for these jerky strips! At only only 1.99, it’s easy to pick a bag up every time I shop at Trader Joe’s.

What’s on your Trader Joe’s Shopping list?



Three Things I Love This Week

I feel so lucky to have summer’s off. Not only it is a much-needed refresher, but it also a reminder of how much I love my job. Though there is still a month left of summer, I have begun to prepare for the upcoming school year because I’m truly excited (okay, and a little nervous) for it to start.

  1. The Book Whisperer by Donnalyn Miller: This is a must-read for any reading 519lHx-UOzL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_teacher! Donnalyn Miller does such a wonderful job of reminding the reader (the teacher) what is truly important about teaching reading (Hint: it has nothing to do with worksheets). With such a large focus on testing lately, it is very easy to fall into “skill and drill” mode, i.e. “read this, answer this, repeat.” However, what we need to focus on as teachers is getting students to love reading, because above all practice, the best practice is to just keep reading! After all, studies show that students who read a lot do better in all subjects, not just reading and writing!
  2. Elementary: I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes ever since my 5th grade teacher read us The Hound of the Baskervilles. Looking back, reading000.jpg Sherlock Holmes seems much too advanced for fifth graders, but our teacher, Mr. Munerantz was so passionate about it that we ended up loving it just as much as he did. Anyways, about two years ago I started (and finished) BBC’s Sherlock Holmes, and I absolutely loved it. I left it at that for awhile, but then recently decided to give Elementary a try. If you’re a fan of Sherlock, it’s important to know that Elementary is nothing like the books or the BBC show, but there are plenty of Sherlock-esque deductions and surprise endings. Overall – it’s an interesting show and it fills my Sherlock needs until the next season of the BBC show is released!
  3. Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy: So I haven’t been able to be completely vegan (a trip to Europe quickly put a stop to my no dairy streak), but I have cut down on dairy significantly. This should be really tough when my absolute favorite food is chocolate ice cream, but it isn’t thanks to Ben and Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream. It’s delicious, and it tastes just like “real” ice cream! So far I have only had the Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor (5 stars!), but I can’t wait to try the rest! certified-vegan-blog-779x400

Three Things I Love This Week

I have been wanting to write about book clubs, but being that it’s the last week of school, book clubs are the last thing on my mind. Instead, here’s a “light” post (written in the middle of the day because school is over *happy dance*!).

1.  BOOKSTAGRAM!  I found this sub community of instagrammers a month or two ago, and I have been hooked ever since. By simply searching the hashtag #bookstagram, you step into a world of book lovers (who take the prettiest pictures). It’s fun to browse, but it’s also great for finding your next read! The picture below is from @bookishjourney.

image1 (1)

2.Vegucated. Documentaries always have a big effect on me. I watched Food Inc. six years ago and became vegetarian, I watched Tapped and became passionate about getting rid of plastic water bottles, and a few months ago I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and started to research juicers. So, Vegucated, a documentary about being vegan, was no exception. For the six plus years that I have been vegetarian, I  frequently wondered what it would be like to take the next step and become vegan, and I always felt a bit guilty that I was still benefiting from the harmful treatment of animals. However, being that pizza and ice cream are some of my favorite foods, I tried to ignore these guilty feelings…but I can’t anymore. What they do to these animals for meat, for milk, for cheese, is not okay. The animals on factory farms, which make up about 99% of all farms, live awful, dark lives and when it’s their turn to go they do not get the liberty of a peaceful death. We torture and kill thousands of animals everyday for what? A burger? A piece of pizza? Is it worth it? I don’t want to be a part of that anymore, so I’m going to try to cut all animal products out of my diet. I’m not ready to say I’m fully vegan just yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.

3. The Bucket List Family (#goals?) This family sold all of their belongings (and a million dollar app) and is now travelling the world as a family. They’ve been to places like Thailand, Australia, Singapore, and Bahamas – all while taking care of their two kids, keeping a blog/vlog, and working out! I can’t even find time for the gym on a normal day!


What’s on your favorites list this week?



A Healthy Twist on Classic Pancakes

(null)I was making pancake batter one morning, when I realized I was out of eggs. With the batter halfway done, it was too late to settle for Eggo waffles, so I looked for an egg substitute instead. On a whim, I threw in half a banana and hoped it would work. To my surprise, they were delicious – even better than usual! I have been trying to stray away from eating eggs anyways, so I’m really happy this recipe worked out so well. The bananas add more taste, but still maintain the same consistency as “classic” pancakes, and they’re a lot healthier too!

The recipe:

  • 1 cup pancake mix (In the picture I have the buttermilk mix, but I think the original mix tastes much better!)
  • 3/4 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 of a banana (Leave a bit of milk in the measuring cup, then use a spoon to mush the banana. Don’t worry about making it perfectly smooth, it’s good when it’s chunky!)
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Mix it all together, then pour onto a hot skillet coated with butter for quick and delicious pancakes! (P.S. Try topping with Nutella instead of syrup!)


3 Gluten Free Snacks I (Still) Love

About a year ago, I decided to cut gluten out of my diet after reading the book, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis (I’m very impressionable when it comes to food). I lasted two months – which is saying a lot when bagels, croissants, and pasta top the list of your favorite foods. It was tough, but an experience; and it pushed me to try new foods – not to mention eat a lot more vegetables! By the end of the two months, I ended up switching back to my old diet, because not only was I tired of constantly saying “no” to the chocolate chip cookies in the teacher’s lounge, but because I didn’t feel any better – as so many people said I would. That being said, I still try to choose something other than pasta when I’m out to eat (keyword: try) and there are a few(some healthy…some not so healthy) snacks that stuck with me!

  1. 5100aHV+ZtL._SY300_Garden Lites Veggie Muffins. The whole idea sounds gross, but these are amazing. You can find them in the freezer aisle – let them defrost or put them in the microwave for 35 seconds for a delicious, warm (and healthy!) muffin.
  2. Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza. I never, ever used to order from Dominoes (I mean, I live in New Jersey), so this was a real surprise for me. My boyfriend and I saw it advertised during my gluten-free stint and decided to give it a try. We were both a little nervous, but we ended up loving it. The crust is thin, but it’s not too hard as most gluten-free products tend to be. In my opinion it’s even better than a normal pie at Domino’s. The only downfall is that it’s only available as a small pie and it’s a bit pricy for its size at $10.99.
  3. Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies. Cookies were the one thing I really missed when I was gluten-free, so I tried a lot of different brands. Enjoy Life turned out to be the winner!

The Cafe in Key West

This past week I went on a short father and daughter road trip to both Miami and Key West. This gave me the chance to try a lot of different (vegetarian) foods of which ill be talking about here! First and foremost I need to tell you all about the meal I 20130810-233746.jpgcan’t get out of my head (because it was so good).
After walking around Key West for hours in the 90 degree heat my dad and I stopped for an early dinnerIMG_0496 in The Cafe. The place was larger than I expected and very nicely decorated with local art on the walls and a chalkboard menu (love!). I was really excited to finally eat somewhere that catered to vegetarians/vegans – being on vacation for about a week at that point I hadn’t been eating too healthy. I ordered edamame as an appetizer and the spinach goyza as an entree, both of which I highly recommend. They give you a large bowl of edamame which is great for large tables but I barely put a dent in it, I felt so bad leaving so much! The goyza dish came with seven dumplings which was the perfect amount! Overall I really enjoyed this place and I would definitely recommend it. My only dislike is that it’s so far from home!