Oh hey, end of the semester. I almost didn’t see you there!
But seriously, where have these last few months gone? This time of year on campus is always one of my most and least favorites. Most favorite because it means things are winding down and everyone is excited to go home for some well-deserved breaks — least favorite because it means I have approximately 15,000 items on my to-do list and never enough time to finish all of the papers and tests that sneak up on me. Thanksgiving Break is only three days away and I could not be more excited about it. I’m looking forward to it all: the drive home on a cold afternoon with coffee and good music, sleeping in my pretty mint green room, watching Benedict Cumberbatch movies with my Dad, cuddling with my cat while having Doctor Who marathons (I am getting SO excited for the 50th!), running silly errands with my sister and having lunch dates with my Mom. Let’s not forget all of the delicious food on Thanksgiving and enjoying the company of family. I am especially excited to tackle Thanksgiving as a vegan this year and get creative in the kitchen with my Mom.
As usual, I am getting ahead of myself.
These last few days have been busy but I have still been able to sneak some time in to try three new things:
- Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
- Banana Bread Oatmeal
- and a wrap thing I slapped together that turned out to be not too terrible
I know my pictures aren’t as beautiful as they could be, but I am using my iPhone and it was early and, to be totally honest, I have such rubbish lighting in my kitchen. As she admits in her recipe, these oats taste very similar to her baked pumpkin pie oatmeal which I have made a few times and have written about some time ago. These oats are pretty good…but not my favorite — which is strange since I love anything and I mean anything pumpkin flavored. I’ll give it an 8 out of 1o.
My Mom makes the most delicious Banana Bread, I think she got the recipe from a friend. Banana Bread is a great way to use up browned bananas and make your family and friends happy with a delicious treat. I know when I go home for breaks, especially when my sister — who lives in Chicago — is going to be home the same time as me, I can usually count on Banana Bread at some point during my weekend home. It’s never a production or even anything my Mom really announces…it always seems to appear magically wrapped up in the ceramic loaf pans on the stove. It’s one of those things that will always remind me of home and gives a bit of comfort. Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick margarine
- 2 eggs, unbeaten
- 4 mashed, very ripe bananas
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 cup walnut halves
- Pinch of salt
Method: Cream together the sugar and margarine (by hand or a stand mixer is fine). Add the unbeaten eggs and mix well. Separately blend the dry ingredients and combine all. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.
I’m sure this could be veganized but I have yet to try that. I did, however, find the next best thing in oatmeal form. World, meet Banana Bread Oatmeal:
I have made this every morning for probably the last four or five days. This is easy, filling and is the perfect amount sweet from the banana. I was so impressed with how much it reminded me of my Mom’s Banana Bread! I use Almond Breeze’s vanilla unsweetened milk for this and it works out so well. I actually didn’t know they made vanilla unsweetened until I picked some up by accident: I meant to get original unsweetened and didn’t realize I bought vanilla until I was home and putting groceries away. I was a bit frustrated but in retrospect, it’s a mistake I’m glad I made. This bowl of oatmeal is a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10 and I highly suggest you get some in your lives and tummies without any delay.
For some reason, New Orleans popped into my head during my yoga practice one night last week and I missed it terribly. Do you guys remember when I went to City Greens for lunch two days in a row? I wanted some of that wrapped-up goodness in my life so badly last week and was still craving it so I tried to bring a bit of it to my apartment on my own:
I found some really cool flatbread at HyVee called Sandwich Petals. They come in a few flavors and are suitable for vegans and are also gluten free — hooray! I typically try to stay away from gluten-free foods because I don’t have any sensitivity to gluten and I know if you don’t have a sensitivity but eat too many gluten-free processed foods, you can develop a sensitivity. I was sold since these wraps are vegan so I got the Red Chile ones and got a little creative. Mash up an avocado, chop some cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, add lettuce and tofu until you are content. I used extra-firm tofu and you can eat it raw. Don’t be afraid of it — tofu doesn’t really have a taste but packs a powerful nutritional punch. Be sure, though, you press and drain your tofu so it doesn’t make a crumbly mess.
This was pretty good, although it wasn’t on the same level as City Greens. The Sandwich Petals were delicious, but they fell apart and made such a mess that I ended up with more avocado on my face than in my mouth, I think. If you use them, be sure to wrap them in a wet paper towel and microwave them for 30 seconds so they become a bit more bendy and don’t crack as much. Or maybe it was me and I was trying to force too much tofu on a thin flatbread. Whatever. I’ll take what I can get and this was a simple weeknight meal that is perfect for busy nights when I don’t have it in me to stand in front of a stove to cook something.
Finally, I wanted to take a second to talk about me/us/this blog. I have a countdown on my phone and one of the things I count is the days I have been vegan (it also counts up from a past event):
Clearly you can see my priorities with the return of Sherlock (AHHHH!!!) and my graduation next year. But I noticed Sunday night I had been vegan for 90 days. Ninety days. I guess the title of this blog isn’t completely accurate anymore, but who cares? What started as a small goal to myself to stay dairy-free for a month quickly blossomed into a huge change in my life that has been far more amazing than I could have hoped. If somebody would have told me in August that I would be writing about my ninetieth vegan day in November, I would have probably said “Yeah, sure. Okay.” Just as vegetarianism was a huge part of me for half of my life, being a vegan is such a big part of me that I can’t imagine my life any other way. It’s difficult to imagine a time where I ate dairy or eggs or even animal products at all (I truly can’t remember what meat tastes like). I was having a conversation with my Mom — who is a vegetarian — last week and was telling her how even after just a few months of not eating dairy/eggs, I look at dairy/eggs in the same way I have looked at meat products for ten years: not as food but rather as a component from a living creature. That’s probably a bit heavy for a Tuesday morning, so I’ll stop there before I become a preachy vegan. My point is that your perception changes very quickly and going vegan has done that for me.
Cheers to 90 (well, I guess 92) joyous days of being a vegan and I look forward to all of the rest of them.
Have a beautiful Tuesday.