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!!

last minute vegan school lunch ideas

IMG_2537I am a person who likes to plan ahead.  I try to know my schedule the day before, right down to what I will be eating for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.  However, I, like just about everyone, find myself in unplanned, pinched-for-time situations in which I need to put a meal together fast.  This happens especially at 7:45 AM, right before school.

The recipes here are some of my best quick school lunches.  I talk about a variety of foods, and I hope that at least some of them are standard kitchen staples for those of you reading this.  The times for preparation of these meals range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.  And, while some are only ideas for the extraordinarily desperate last minute lunch packer, many are legitimate recipes that are both delicious and wholesome.

I hope you enjoy these food tips and recipes.  Good luck with your last minute lunch!

Bunch of bananas (30 sec):  Bananas are actually really healthy and IMG_2556okay to eat in large quantities.  They contain almost every nutrient the human body needs, including a bit of protein.  For this lunch, just grab a bunch of bananas, and bring it with you to school, work, etc.  If there is time, you can also take some nut, seed, or peanut butter to eat with your bananas.

While I am sure most people reading this have seen bananas before or at least know what they look like, I have included the image of them for a reason.  The bananas here are fully yellow, covered in spots, and relatively soft, which means that they are ripe and ready to eat.  Unripe bananas, which have green areas and no brown spots, are much harder for the body to digest than ripe, spotty bananas.  This makes it more difficult and less likely for the body to absorb all of the good nutrients bananas contain.  Unripe bananas can also cause stomach aches, acid reflux, and constipation.  You certainly should not eat a whole bunch of underripe bananas.  Save your bananas for when they are ripe, and your body will thank you.

Melon (1 min):  Cut a melon (or two if they’re small) in half, and pack a spoon to eat it with.  Done!

IMG_2539Bag of fruit and/or vegetables (1 min):  Fill a grocery bag or several smaller bags or containers with whatever random fruits and vegetables you can find.  Clementines, oranges, baby carrots, and small bits of leftover vegetables are typical at my house, but the possibilities here are, clearly, endless.  If you go with this meal, just make sure you bring a lot because fruits and vegetables are low in calories and will not get you as far as you think.

Dried fruit and/or nuts (1 min):  This is something I bring all the time. Just grab whatever dried fruit or nuts you have, and throw them in a container.  I like dried mango, raisins, dried cherries, and almonds.

Cereal (2 min):  While I personally have never brought dry cereal for lunch at school, I do know people who bring it regularly.  Ensure the vegan-friendliness of your cereal, and pack along some plant milk or yogurt to eat it with.  If you are super low on time, you can just grab the box and go.

Juice (2 min):  In most situations, I would not recommend juice as a meal.  However, something is better than nothing, especially at school, so bring a big container of juice (100% juice is best), and sip it throughout the day to get you through as a last resort.  Because pulpy orange juice contains most of the nutrients and fiber of a whole orange, it works well as a meal replacement.  If there is the option, choose orange juice for a last minute lunch.

Now onto some simple recipes…IMG_2530

 

Hummus and vegetable sandwich (5 min):  Take two pieces of bread or a wrap (ensure vegan-friendliness) and smear lots of hummus or other hearty dip (ensure vegan-friendliness) on both pieces.  Fill sandwich with whatever vegetables you have.  Here I used baby carrots, cucumber, red bell pepper, and sunflower sprouts.IMG_2525  I also like spinach, other types of sprouts, tomato, avocado, lettuce, cooked potatoes, and banana peppers.  I recommend using whole wheat or gluten free bread for optimal nutritional value.  Also, because my bread is small, I will eat about two or three of these sandwiches for a meal.

Can of beans (5 min):  While you could just eat a can of plain beans, you could also turn those beans into something a little more exciting.IMG_2532  Make a dressing for your beans using apple cider vinegar and mustard, Sriracha and soy sauce, or salsa and mashed avocado, then add in some vegetables.  The very easiest thing to do is to add frozen vegetables, especially peas or corn.  The vegetables can thaw throughout the morning, ready to eat around lunchtime.  Here I took black beans, frozen corn, and chopped bell pepper with no dressing.  I only used about half a can of beans here because I ate this along with a microwaved sweet potato, described below and shown above.

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Leftover grains (5 min):  Leftover grains are probably my favorite
lunch food.  You can eat them plain, with raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, frozen vegetables, other grains, and/or with some kind of sauce.  Here I took barley, raw spinach ripped into pieces, frozen mixed vegetables, and a little apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard.  There are so many possibilities with this kind of meal.  The next time you cook grains, make a little extra for quick lunches like this.

Microwaved potatoes (10 min):  I normally stay away from the microwave.  Even though I know (roughly) how it works and that it is safe, the microwave still kind of freaks me out by cooking food so very fast.  However, I do recommend trying a microwaved potato at least once because it is a huge time saver in those moments when there is nothing else to eat.  Wet a paper towel, and wrap it around a clean white or sweet potato.  Microwave the potato on high for 5-8 minutes until soft.  My medium-sized sweet potato took 6 minutes.  Enjoy the potato as is or pair it with my quick bean recipe described above!

IMG_2531   IMG_2534

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If you try any of these tips or recipes, let me know in the comments, especially if it saved you time, was good as a school lunch, or was eaten at another time of day and/or place.  I love to read feedback!