P.S. I’m Published—-Check Me Out!

I found out a week ago that my piece I wrote called “The Face of Depression Does Not Exist” was to be published on elephantjournal.com and today it went live!

This piece is extremely personal and I am still in shock that it is published for everyone to see. Despite my long-lived fear of being “exposed,” I am very proud to make this announcement and consider it another step forward in my recovery, my writing career, and my life.

Check it out HERE and go ahead, tell your friends. 

🙂

My Weekend In Ithaca!

Col and I went to a Band of Horses show in Ithaca this past winter and fell in love with the town/the surroundings there so much we even considered moving there when we were looking at apartments together.

We settled on frequent visits instead. This past weekend, we booked a campsite at Buttermilk Falls State Park for a night, and spent Saturday and Sunday hiking and exploring Ithaca and Watkins Glen. After a pretty intense but awesome hike on Saturday, we napped in our ghetto, floppy little tent and then headed to Taste of Thai for dinner. Now, I consider myself a Thai food expert since it’s my all-time favorite cuisine, and I can hands down say that I had the BEST Thai meal of my life. I had a dish called Rama Noodles which is wide rice noodles with stir-fried veggies topped with peanut sauce. I know it sounds simple by holy shit was it amazing.

On Sunday after a truly terrible night’s sleep, we went to a local coffee shop and got some joe and read our perspective books while we waited for Waffle Frolic to open. There they have a whole waffle bar and even vegan waffles! I was in the mood for something savory as usual, so I got their veggie burger with caramelized onions on a vegan waffle bun. After breakfast, we went hiking at Watkins Glen State Park which was truly magical.There were endless waterfalls, beautiful, clear pools and rock formations that make you just in total awe of nature. 

On our way home, we stopped for a swim at Seneca Lake and found the best farm stand ever! We got a whole box of tomatoes, 5 ears of corn so good you could eat it raw, 3 zucchinis, 1 ghost squash (which I had never heard of until then), 5 cucumbers, 2 eggplants, 1 canteloupe, and 1 loaf of homemade cinnamon raisin bread for 15 DOLLARS!!! FIFTEEN FREAKING DOLLARS. Still can’t get over that steal.

Anyway, it was another weekend for the books. Here are some shots of our escapade!

 

Five Great Pieces of My Week

On this Friday that I have been (patiently) waiting for, I am at work reflecting on the past week. It’s been one of discovery, hard work, and reflection. My mind is a buzzin’ with everything I’ve learned, discovered, worked on, and felt this week, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the five best pieces of my week. I’m going to start doing this every Friday just to motivate myself to keep exploring, thinking, and feeling new things, ideas, and emotions! Cool? Cool.

 

  1. I started/finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millennium Series, and subsequently fell in love with it/its protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. She is a badass, sly, incredibly troubled investigative/technological genius/young woman who I happen to identify with on many levels. She does not become a product of her harsh and dark upbringing, she rises from it, kicking ass and taking names along the way. I have actually decided to name my car, who I have been struggling to come up with a name for for about three years, Lisbeth because I love her so much. I encourage everybody to read this book, not just because of the strength of Lisbeth (though that is my top reason), but because it is well-written, well-paced, and well-characterized. The story draws you in like a story should and FINALLY satisfied my craving for a book I just cannot put down, which I have been missing in my life for the past few months. I am on the edge of my seat, constantly checking the mail for the next book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, to arrive in the mail! READ IT.
  2. Speaking of books, my boyfriend showed me THIS. It’s a site called Paperback Swap and it’s a gem of the internet! You can make an account and post any books you no longer want for people to request. When someone requests one of your books, you get a credit to get a book from someone else on the site for free! You just have to pay to mail your book to whoever requested it. BASICALLY IT’S FREE BOOKS AND RECYCLING IN ONE. C’MON. ITS GREAT.
  3. I discovered Slate’s Cultural Gabfest which is such an awesome podcast! My friend just opened my world when he told me how much he loves podcasts and how they make his day fly and keep him updated on his favorite things. Cultural Gabfest is all about dissecting current culture in a roundtable discussion. They talk about music, movies, books, and current events, which are all some of my favorite things. The hosts are super intelligent, pretty funny, and seem down to earth even though they talk in pretty philosophical fashion. I recommend giving this podcast a listen, it’s fucking great.
  4. I realized the power of parks. I am a complete nature girl, and grew up in the Hudson Valley where nature is abundant and just kinda there. When I moved to Rochester, I automatically missed my backyard, the Catskills, the easy access to hiking trails, the creek…basically everything. But, as I began to explore Roch, I discovered how many awesome parks they managed to fit into such a teeny city! I spend a lot of time running in Genesse Valley Park, which has such great and surprisingly long trails along the river and canal, and have ran in Cobb’s Hill Park, which has such an awesome view of the city and a really pretty reservoir. My favorite park by far though, is Highland Park. I’ve attempted running there a few times and don’t quite enjoy it for that purpose. But it is such a  beautiful park with a huge valley smack dab in the middle of it that feels like a wonderland. That valley never fails to make me feel small and human, and helps me stop and appreciate the beauty and vastness of the world around me. Go for a walk in a park, it’ll change your day for the better no matter what.
  5. I made THIS for dinner last night. I was craving something creamy and decadent for dinner, had pinned this recipe a while ago, and was too tired/rushed to create a recipe of my own to satisfy my craving, so I made it quickly for Col and I before we saw The Giver (DON’T SEE IT IF YOU LOVE THE BOOK/MOVIES IN GENERAL). It was really delicious, rich, and healthy! I recommend this for a cozy night in when you want some comfort food, vegan or not!

Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic Sauce!

The Power of Books & My Generation

So I just joined the book club at my job that my friend is the head of, and today was my first meeting. Now, this ain’t your mama’s book club. We are all under 25 and curse profusely, but we still share snacks, sit in a circle, and discuss our thoughts and feelings about the week’s book.

I’ve always been a book worm, and was so excited when I got invited to be a part of the club. I’m still getting used to not constantly having my crew of bffs from back home to hang with at all times, and it’s been a little tough for me to make new friends in my new environment. While I’m slowly but surely making friends at work, being in the book club is making the task a bit easier.

Anyway, today I was reminded once again just how powerful books are; just how powerful words in general are. Once we all stopped chattering and eating our lunches, we got into such a great discussion about The Giver. I know most of us have read this book when we were in middle school and consider it a children’s book, which it is, but it is such an important piece of literature for everyone to read, not just kids.

Just from our discussion of The Giver, my book club and I ended up contemplating the meaning of life in a total genuine, non-ironic, super objective way that made me proud to be a part of my generation. We are not all just a bunch of hard-partying technology addicts. The people I have always associated with are incredibly intelligent, down to earth, and have the most profound thoughts. We grew up in the midst of the technology boom and have seen our culture change drastically and have had to find our place in a society that puts an immense and almost impossible amount of pressure on us to succeed, but offers no guidance, no warmth, understanding, or patience. We turn to one another because we are truly the only group of people who understand this sort of upbringing.

Today I realized more strongly than ever how powerful my generation is. We are a generation of open-minded, sentimental, thoughtful people who accept and embrace differences, ponder the meaning of life during this time when meanings are often lost, where we are aware how fleeting our time on earth is. We openly talk about sexuality, drugs, depression, loss because we don’t hide what’s happening, what is real. 

Yes, we read. Yes, we also go on the internet. You can be a well-rounded and aware person even if you are a product of the 21st century.

I thought about all of this after a discussion about a book. THAT, my friends, is power.

 

Maple Chipotle Grilled Tempeh

I grew up absolutely HATING pure male syrup. Believe it or not, until last year I preferred Aunt Jemima’s to the real deal. It’s not like I eat tons of maple syrup, or foods that syrup typically goes on, but I felt like a hypocrite as I poured my auntie J’s over my whole what banana flax oatmeal pancakes, and decided to start training myself to love the real stuff as much as everyone else seemed to.

Well, after about a year of always having it on hand in case I feel the urge to make pancakes, waffles, etc., I’ve finally started to experiment with it in savory dishes, not just on breakfast foods and in desserts.

Because I adore chipotle peppers, and am obsessed with spicy food in general, I decided to give my first shot at savory maple syrup usage a kick. After trying this recipe, I am so happy I transitioned to pure maple syrup, and even happier I’m beginning to incorporate into my recipe creations! This tempeh is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and smokey, without the sugar-filled, overly-slathered barbequed sauce taste. (obviously I am not fond of bbq sauce…) I grilled mine because I LOVE anything and everything grilled and I wanted a smokey flavor, but you could easily just bake it or pan sear it or whatever you feel like doing if you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like grilling.

I’m sorry for the picture being such shit, I was about to dig in when I remembered I wanted to post this, and my hands were shaky with hunger/delight.

Ingedients:

  • 1 package organic tempeh
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large chipotle pepper in adobe sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt  & pepper to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, mash the chipotle pepper into the olive oil and maple syrup. Add the minced garlic and spices, and mix everything together. Cut tempeh in four diagonal strips, place in bowl and coat with the sauce thoroughly, making sure to slather each side of each strip. Refrigerate for at least an hour. About 5-10 minutes before the tempeh is done marinating, preheat grill to medium-high. Once grill is nice and hot, put tempeh on and grill for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until the middle of each piece is hot and it has grill marks on all sides. Take off the grill and serve immediately.

I served mine with some simple sauteed veggies cooked down in veggie broth over rice. This would be good with spanish style rice and beans, over a salad, or on a sandwich to name a few. Enjoy, creatures!

5 Reasons to Go Vegan!

I have been a vegan for about three months now, and I can honestly say that is it for life. Once you go plant-based you never go back.

While, I will admit, the transition wasn’t all that difficult for me considering the fact that I was already an extremely healthy eater with tons of veggies and fruits in my daily diet, and the fact that I love to cook and don’t mind devoting time to meal prep, I still believe that anyone can make the transition and that everyone should! Here are my core reasons why a vegan lifestyle is the shit.

  1. Your carbon footprint is SO MUCH LESS! The meat, dairy, and egg industries are some of the, if not the LARGEST contributors to climate change and environmental destruction in the world. Most people do not know this! I know I didn’t until a few short months ago. We generally think that emissions and destroying the rainforest and other habitats are the sole contributors to climate change. The reason is because we are destroying habitats so that we can plant mass amounts of food for the mass amounts of animals we slaughter, then use crazy amounts of emissions to raise them on factory farms before they are slaughtered. When you go vegan, you are actively taking a stand against this unbelievable destructive industry.
  2. Your body will thank you! Actually, this one is also for healthy eating in general. When I began eating healthy, whole foods and tons of fruits and veggies, (combined with daily exercise), I not only saw my body shape transform, but also my hair! Where once I had pin-straight, dry, damaged hair, there was now bouncy, full, spiral freaking curls! It was such a mystery to me after I cut my hair that it grew back extremely curly and generally huge, but I am 100% sure it is a result of changing my diet. Since becoming a vegan, my hair has grown super fast and my random acne bursts have disappeared! I now have glowing, rosy cheeks and smooth skin.
  3. You will live cruelty free! I had first considered going vegan after doing research about the negative impact eating animal products has on the body, and just to challenge myself. After watching Earthlings, though, I added the moral reason of being a vegan to my list. While I totally respect everyone’s rights to eat whatever they please, I just cannot fathom eating a piece of chicken again or even drinking milk after being exposed to the horrors of the meat and dairy industries. As a nation, our factory farms are basically torture chambers where innocent beings not only die, but die in extremely sickening fashion and live the short lives they are given in utter pain and misery. Personally, I just can’t unsee what I saw, or unfeel what I feel. Yes, I get that eating meat tastes good, but it is unnecessary. I like being a vegan because it means I can live without killing, or contributing to killing, other beings in the process.
  4. You spice up your kitchen life! I’ve always loved to cook, maybe even more than I love to eat! Going vegan has challenged and excited my time in the kitchen. I love creating “veganized” versions of foods that aren’t vegan which I love (cheesecake, brownies, mac and cheese). Also, by using whole, plant-based ingredients, you will naturally eat healthier and, believe it or not, your grocery bill will decrease (I swear). Meat is expensive! Vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains are generally pretty cheap. And if you check out your farmer’s markets, they’re even cheaper than in the grocery store, and you will most likely find new produce to experiment and fall in love with that you had never tried before! Seriously people, being a vegan isn’t a life of deprivation, it’s fucking delicious!
  5. You eat more!!!!!!! This reason, even considering my cruelty-free and less carbon footprint reasons, is my absolute favorite thing about being a vegan. (no disrespect, chickies and piggies!) I’ve always had a large appetite, and when I started exercising daily, this appetite grew. Instead of meticulously portioning my foods and counting calories like I did in the past, I now eat an abundance of healthy foods because they nourish and benefit me. Because plant-based foods are typically lower in calories and are PACKED TO THE BRIM with nutrients, I eat a ton of them and don’t have to worry about calories or gaining weight. Of course, there are plant-based foods that are high in calories and that I still monitor (duh), generally I fill my plate with veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains and feel satisfied and nourished, not overly full and guilty. Going vegan has really helped me develop a healthy relationship with food which I am insanely thankful for.

These are just a few reasons why I love being a vegan! I do not judge anyone who is not a vegan, because obviously I am still a newb myself, and I get why many people do not choose to go vegan (convenience, taste, etc.). I am just trying to shed light on how amazing this lifestyle is for your body, your mind, your soul, and your planet!

 

Vegan Nachos!

I got this idea, and the recipe for the Cashew-less Vegan Queso, from The Minimalist Baker

I was craving some good crunchy, cheesy nachos after talking about my favorite restaurant from back home called The Eggs Nest that has such amazing nachos. I remembered that I pinned this recipe a while ago and was so pumped. Once again, thank god for Pinterest am I right??

I topped my nachos with black beans, my homemade salsa and guacamole, which I have posted the recipes for, along with the vegan queso and some cilantro.

I gotta say, these give The Eggs Nest a run for their money while being totally cruelty-free and just as “cheesy,” crunchy and DAMN GOOD.

You can top your nachos with whatever suits your fancy. Just preheat the oven to 450 degrees, load up a cookie sheet with your favorite tortilla chips and bake them for a few minutes just to toast them up a bit. Since I topped mine with black beans, I just heated them up in the microwave so the chips could crisp up on their own without the extra moisture or bean coverage. Take chips out of the oven after they’re a little bit golden around then edges and top with beans or whatever toppings you want, and (hopefully) my guac and salsa and The Minimalist Baker’s vegan queso, which I made and kept warm on the stove while the chips were toasting.

You could include meat if you eat it or veggies grounds as a meat substitute, chili, red onion, lime juice, whatever! Really though, try this recipe. It’s not just a snack to quiet a craving, it’s a full meal that is healthy while being hearty, satisfying and fun. 

Cashew-less Vegan Queso

Cashew-less Vegan Queso

The Finished Nachos!

The Finished Nachos!