new year, new intentions

Hello there.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while or have checked out any of my old posts (back from when I first started this thing in January of 2016), you would know that my content and frequency of posts has changed dramatically.  That (and more) is what I’m going to talk about in this blog post.

I want to start with some basic 2018 reflections.  2018 was a huge year of growth and learning for me.  My first semester of 2018 (last winter) was probably the worst semester I’ve had in college.  I was incredibly busy, stressed out, did not have time to eat an adequate lunch many days of the week, and cried sometimes in the morning when I got up because I knew my day was going to be terrible.  I am a lot more resilient after that experience.

Throughout my life, I have always traveled a lot, and 2018 was no exception.  I took a couple of smaller trips, including one to Los Angelas in early January and another to Montreal in late August of last year.  My big trip last year was a study abroad experience through my university.  It was all about international food laws, and we went to London, Paris, Geneva, Florence, and Parma.  It was a three week trip, and it was awesome.  That said, I had very different interests than my peers (such as vegan food), so I did a lot of things on my own.  I rode the subway alone, went to all the incredible European vegan restaurant alone, visited the Centre Pompidou in Paris (which I have wanted to do since middle school) alone, and did many other things alone.  I also got pink eye, which, although extremely isolating since no one wanted to come within 10 feet of me for more than several days, was extremely fascinating because of my interactions with the medical system there.  I am a lot more independent and have a radically different perspective on health and healthcare after that whole experience.

I also worked full-time at a farm over the summer.  I’ve talked a lot about that place here on this blog (since even before I got a job there back in 2017), and being able to work there every day throughout the season was incredible.  I also took classes and was busier than ever.  But I was happy, and I will look back fondly on that summer for the rest of my life, despite some other difficult things that happened during that time.

Another big thing in my life that happened was finally changing my second major (Arts and Humanities is my first) from Food Science, which I hated, to Nutritional Science, which I like much better.  This was really hard for me, but I can actually see myself doing this sustainably for the rest of undergrad.  My first semester as a Nutritional Science major was great, and I am truly looking forward to all the classes I have to come.

Now that I’ve reflected a bit on all I’ve done in the last year, I am going to speak to all that I haven’t done here online in the last year.  I made two blog posts, uploaded one YouTube video, and have been sporadically active on Instagram.  Most people would agree that I have done next to nothing.  That said, I have been thinking a lot about my online presence.  What this blog started as (a vegan recipe blog) just isn’t what I want to do anymore.  I still love food and creating recipes, but I don’t have a kitchen, and anything I make in my dorm is not worth writing about.  On the other hand, I had no direction at all when I started YouTube, and, now, I’m not happy with over half of the content I have uploaded.  This year, I want to set some more serious intentions regarding these online platforms.  Some questions I’ve asked myself:  What do I want my online presence to be?  What do I have to contribute to the online community?  How can I be a positive light and not just one among the crowd?  Does my Instagram showcase my true self?  Does my YouTube improve people’s lives?  What about my life do I feel comfortable sharing online?

There are many more things I have asked myself than this, but these questions have been at the core of my reflections of the last year.  After some deliberations, I have decided on a couple of intentions I want to set for  Little Plant Person for the new year and indefinitely.

I want this blog to be nothing more than a platform for personal reflection.  I am not going to set out trying to reach people in this way.  My blog is for me.  Writing is what I like to do, and this is a perfect place to do more of it.  If I feel inspired to post recipes or projects like I used to, I will.  But I feel that those things are more suited for other platforms like YouTube and Instagram, where my ideas can more easily reach more people.  This blog, going forward, will be my journal.  For those who would care to know more about me personally, they can look here and read about it, but I do not want to be shoving my personal life into other people’s feeds.  If people really care to know me on a deeper level, as I said, they can read about it here.

YouTube is an online platform that I absolutely love.  There are so many things one can do with a YouTube channel, and I think that I have, up to this point, been overwhelmed with the possibilities.  I have tried a lot of different types of videos, but I have come to find that only certain types of videos are the ones I am most proud of, many of which are also my most popular.  That is what I want to do more of.  There is no point in sticking with types of videos I’m not good at and that no one wants to watch.  I want to create more informative, how-to or project-oriented videos, like I used to do here on the blog.  I like the way making recipes and doing other projects can come to life through film, and I think I will reach more people putting that type of content on YouTube.  Another thing: I also realized I feel quite uncomfortable putting more personal things like I do here on the blog out on YouTube.  I want my videos to truly help or inspire people to live better and do more, not entertain (or bore) them.  Helpful.  Inspiring.  Informative.  These are the words I am going to keep at the heart of my YouTube creations form now on.  If I am not inspired, informed, or putting out content that will add to the community in some way, I am not going to put out videos about that.

Finally, even though I made my Instagram in May of 2016, I still feel like such a noobie!  My vision for my Instagram is a little less concrete than those for this blog and for YouTube, but I have some thoughts.  When people visit my page, I want them to see me.  I want my true self to be reflected in my Instagram.  I want it to focus on aspects of my daily life, like it does now, but it needs to be more cohesive.  To achieve this, I want to do more this year to develop techniques to create a beautiful page that is a reflection of me.  Instagram is a very creative platform, which largely focuses on photography, but can also involve writing, visual arts, and more.  I have great ideas and an interesting life (at least I think so), but I am having a hard time finding the best way to showcase it through Instagram.  Instagram plans … TBD!!

In conclusion of this post, I’m going to bring it back to the rest of my life because, honestly, that’s what I do with the vast majority of my time, and I want to be open about that.  I am going to end with just some little resolutions I have for this year, which I can look back on in 2020 and see if I’ve achieved:  (1) drama free 2019 (nuff said?)  (2) pantry eat out (eat everything in my pantry – yes, including all that stuff from two years ago that we all seem to forget to eat)  (3) get to class on time or early (I can do it!).  There’s a little bit (or a lot, actually) more that I have planned for the year to come, so if you want to follow my life follow me @littleplantperson on Instagram.

Thanks for reading this incredibly long post.  Have a happy new year and great 2019!!

college clip: vegan dinner party in an on-campus kitchen

Asparagus Pizza

If you’re coming from my YouTube channel, welcome!  If not, check out my video that goes along with this post:

One of my goals for my second semester at college was to host a small dinner party for some of my friends.  Although I cooked a lot in my dorm room (videos and blog posts about this linked down below), I was always itching to cook in a real kitchen.  I also love cooking for other people, so a dinner party seemed like the perfect idea.

My friend Mia has a kitchen access at her dorm, the same place where we made cookies and pizza, so that’s where the gathering happened.

I began by planning a menu.  I decided I wanted to use as many seasonal and local ingredients as I could, so I based all of my recipes around local ingredients that would be available at that time (early May), such as greens, asparagus, and the remains of last year’s root vegetable crop.  Here is the Italian-inspired menu I decided on:

Sparkling Italian Soda (from Whole Foods)

Lemon Italian Ice
Green and Cannellini Bean Soup
Asparagus Pizza
Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula Pesto
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
Mushroom Lentil Loaf – Making Thyme for Health
Lemon Italian Ice – Joy Filled Days

Because I did not have time to create and test every recipe, most of them are not my own.  Here’s what I did come up with:

Green and Cannellini Bean Soup
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 vegan boullion cube
  • 14-oz can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh beet or radish greens, ripped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the leek and shallots and together for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the potato and the water and bullion and bring to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in half of the cooked beans.
  4. Stir the greens into the soup and cook a few minutes until wilted, then blend the mixture.
  5. Add the remaining beans and heat.
  6. Stir in the plant milk and season the soup with salt and pepper if desired.  I served it with a little extra almond milk on top.

(loosely adapted from Sorrel & Bean Soup by Style At Home)

Green and Cannellini Bean Soup, Asparagus Pizza

Asparagus Pizza

  • Basic Vegan Pizza Dough – Vegan Richa
  • Béchamel Sauce (made with 6 oz firm, silken tofu instead of cauliflower) – Forks Over Knives The Cookbook
  • thin asparagus
  1. Roll out the pizza dough on parchment paper.
  2. Add thin layer of the béchamel sauce, and then a long row of whole asparagus (see picture).
  3. Bake for about 15 min & enjoy

Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula Pesto

  • 1-box angel hair pasta
  • Basil Pesto (made with half basil, half arugula) – Forks Over Knives The Cookbook
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Mix pesto into pasta – that’s it!
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

  • seasonal vegetable variety (I used beets, onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes)
  • fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of your favorite seasonings (I used salt, pepper, dried oregano and parsley)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop vegetables to desired size.  Finely chop about 1-2 T of rosemary.
  3. Combine vegetables, rosemary, seasonings, and oil (if using) on a baking sheet.
  4. Cook for 20-35 min (depending on the size of your pieces) until a knife can be inserted fairly easily into all of the vegetables (you could also just taste it).
  5. Serve as is and enjoy.
Mushroom Lentil Loaf

After planning the menu and testing a couple of the recipes, I set the date: Tuesday May 2nd.  It was during finals week, but I knew it would be no problem since I only had one final on Monday and a paper due Wednesday, which I could have mostly completed before Tuesday.

Then came the concussion.  The Thursday before the dinner party, I fell, supposedly hit my head (I have no memory of this, but the doctors say it must have happened), and somehow got a concussion.  Of course, typical me decided to put off going to the doctor, power through finals, and go through with the dinner party which I had put so much time into planning.

Things never go as planned.  Having just had a concussion and being the physical and emotional wreck that comes with having a concussion, the dinner party was a massive struggle for me.  Headache.  Instead of biking to the kitchen, I ended up taking Uber because I knew I couldn’t make it on bike.  Motion sickness.  Then, the kitchen we wanted to use (the one with all the nice stuff – stand mixer, loaf pans, mixing bowls, plates, silverware, etc.), was being used for another event, and we had to use other one which did not have all those nice things.  Looming anxiety.  And finally, all the confusion about getting there, which kitchen we could use, and how I was going to get a few last minute ingredients pushed everything back about two hours, and there was no way I could cook all that food with so little time – my friends had finals the next morning!  Helplessness.

Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Mushroom Lentil Loaf, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Thankfully, my friends helped me out.  I had wanted to do all the cooking and cleaning myself to give my friends a nice relaxing time, but my concussion-induced overdrive was not helping anyone.  So, my friend Adam did a lot of the cooking alongside me, and everyone helped me clean up.  Although it wasn’t the evening I was expecting, all the food got made and eaten, and we still had a good time.  If/when I host another dinner party, I think I’ll be a little less ambitious with the menu, and plan for the unexpected.

Asparagus Pizza

If you are looking for more information on dorm room cooking, check out these three blog posts – 1, 2, 3 – or head over to my YouTube channel where I have several dorm room recipe videos.  My Instagram @littleplantperson is also full of quick dorm room recipe ideas and cooking tips.  More posts and videos on this subject are coming soon, so stay tuned!

dorm-friendly sweet cinnamon rice

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I am a college student now.  At my university, I am required to live on campus for my first year, which, of course, means no private kitchen.  I have heard about a community kitchen nearby, but it isn’t like I am going to make the trek over there, arms piled with ingredients and cooking supplies, every time I feel like whipping up a quick meal.

Lucky for me, a lot of the people around me have been really supportive of me cooking in my dorm and have gifted me some super cool gadgets solely for that purpose.  If any one of the people who contributed to my collection is reading this, you know who you are, so thank you.

The tool I use in today’s recipe is my Aroma Professional Rice Cooker.  I have just started experimenting with cooking soups, pastas, and other dorm-friendly meals, so today’s recipe is a simple one that only cooks rice.

Before I get to the recipe, I would like to note that I am not just eating in my dorm.  My cafeteria has a lot of vegan salad options, soups, and starches, and I go there once, usually twice, and sometimes three times a day.  I could easily eat vegan at the cafeteria, but I certainly prefer to cook my own foods, at least some of the time.  Not only is what I make usually healthier, but it is also fun for me, and I hope to have more college dorm creations to share with you guys this school year.

Now, onto the recipe…

Dorm-Friendly Sweet Cinnamon Rice:

  • 2 rice cooker cups uncooked rice (1 1/2 standard cups)
  • water
  • 1-3 teaspoons maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • a couple sprinkles of cinnamon
  • rasins (optional)
  1. Place rice into rice cooker container, and rinse the rice.  To do this, fill the container (with rice already in it) with water, mix with your hand, and drain, being careful not to dump out any rice.  Repeat until the water is relatively clear.
  2. Add water to 2 cup line and cook according to rice cooker directions.  The water added will be about 4 rice cooker cups or 3 standard cups.
  3. When the rice is done, divide it between 2 bowls, and add maple syrup, cinnamon, and raisins to taste.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this recipe!

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