items organized on shelves
Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi on Pexels.com

Even though I consider myself fairly healthy and conscious of what I put in my body, there are still positive steps I can continue to make in my life, diet-wise. One particular aspect that I’ve been thinking about often is “brain fogginess,” and the lack of having a sharp focus. In a nutshell, some foods just really mess up our memory and our mentality.

Obviously I’m not a doctor, and I’m also not saying nobody should ever eat these foods, but these are the things that I (and many others) have discovered cause brain fogginess when consumed too frequently. There is a scientific reason for why this can happen, so I’m going to go into that in more detail as well. 


Soda & Sugary Drinks

Now, I’m not saying I think people should never enjoy these foods (in fact, I definitely eat at least half of them,) but they have given me something to think about in regards to my own health and how I can cut back in moderation. Unsurprisingly, soda, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks are linked to dementia and the reduction of brain function, even with people without diabetes. I’ve personally never been a huge soda drinker myself, but I would agree that I tend to feel sluggish after consuming too much sugar (particularly in sports drinks and fruit juices.) One way I like to incorporate fruity tastes into my drinks is to make my own low-sugar smoothies, or, even easier, just add raw fruit to your water. Strawberry water is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s a great health alternative to artificial fruit drinks. 


Refined Carbs

Again unsurprisingly, refined carbs are yet another culprit of brain fogginess and sluggishness. Similarly to sugary drinks, refined carbs (such as white flour) can spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash shortly after consuming them. Conducted studies have shown that refined carbs can indeed have a poor effect on your memory, and long-term, it can even increase your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That doesn’t mean I intend on cutting pizza out of my diet any time soon (nor would I expect anyone else too,) but it is inspiring me to think more critically about the alterations I can make. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are all healthier alternatives to refined carbs, and honestly, I think whole grain bread tastes pretty damn good. 


Artificial Trans Fat

You’re probably noticing a trend here; foods that are highly processed or full of sugar and carbs are probably not the most brain-healthy foods. This includes all the typical junk foods; chips, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, etc. Even ready-made meals that market themselves as being natural and full of wholesome ingredients can be highly processed and full of trans fat, so just keep that in mind when grocery shopping. I still enjoy a Lean Cuisine from time to time, especially since they’re cheap and easy to prepare, but I still try to remain mindful of how eating these foods will mess with my focus in the days that follow.


Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, often found in food and beverages under the brand names “NutraSweet” and “Equal.” Even though the market likes to push artificial sweeteners as a weight loss aid, this particular sweetener is actually extremely controversial. Consumption of aspartame has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, although there’s no conclusive research on this product. Nonetheless, unless you have a pressing medical treatment such as diabetes (which forces one to utilize artificial sweeteners,) consider opting for natural, raw sugar instead. 


Dairy

Unfortunately, but probably unsurprisingly, dairy is one of the most notorious foods to cause brain fogginess, tiredness, and inattentiveness. While many of us are not allergic to us, there’s a fairly good chance you may be sensitive to it. I definitely think I am sensitive to dairy products, especially cheese, since I completely cut it out of my diet for a full year and then suddenly resumed eating it again. While I still love cheese and plan on continuing to eat it, it’s a good idea to remember that there are healthy alternatives, too. Little switches, such as drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk, can make a huge difference in how you feel and how you sustain your energy.


What can I do about brain fog?

Even though you’re bound to experience brain fogginess from time to time, there are still steps you can take to keep yourself sharp and happy. One important thing I like to utilize is my intake of vitamin B12. Because it’s predominantly found in meats and eggs, us vegetarians have to ensure that we are still maintaining a healthy B12 intake to sustain or energy and focus levels. Another way to keep your mind feeling sharp is to eat dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. And, of course, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and keeping your brain stimulated!

Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/worst-foods-for-your-brain

I’m not sure how interesting this will be to you guys, but personally, this is exactly the type of content I am here for. As a vegetarian, I occasionally get questions about what I eat in a day on a small college campus, so hopefully this article will answer some of those questions for you. Let’s get into it!


burger with sunny side up on white surface
Photo by Samarth Singhai on Pexels.com

8:30am- Egg sandwich. I’m usually not too hungry in the morning, but because my PMDD is starting to kick in this week, I definitely wanted to eat something filling before my internship. I enjoy eating eggs in the morning because they’re filling, delicious, and a great source of vegetarian protein, so that’s what I did today! Obviously, it’s not the healthiest thing I could eat, but I wouldn’t say it’s the worst, either. 


top view photo of coffee near tablet
Photo by Arshad Sutar on Pexels.com

10am- Black coffee, 12oz. Every single day, I have a cup of coffee within a couple of hours of waking up. I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to have coffee, or else I experience intense withdrawals, so it’s definitely something I look forward to every morning. I actually really enjoy drinking my coffee black as well, so that’s what I’m doing today. 


12pm- Peanut butter banana Clif bar. I’ve mentioned Clif bars a lot in my articles about snacks-on-the-go, and that’s because I love them and eat them all the time on my busy days. Especially today, with PMDD trying to kick my ass, an extra boost of energy is just what I need right now. I love the combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and banana, but my personal favorite flavor for Clif bars is the cool mint variety.


IMG_8859 (1).jpg

1pm- Raw broccoli, carrots, and waffle fries. Because my internship provides lunch for us, I don’t have to pack a bagged lunch when I come to work! This is incredibly convenient for me, because I have zero money, and I also genuinely like the food options. As I’ve said before, I’m crazy for raw broccoli, so I try to eat that every day. Sometimes my work has tofu or rice, but today the only vegetarian entree was waffle fries. Nonetheless, I made sure I got in my veggies.


green broccoli on white textile
Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels.com

6pm- Raw broccoli, corn, and Beyond Sausage. Incredibly, my dining hall has started serving Beyond burgers and sausage, so of course I’m going to opt for that when I need some protein. Per usual, I’m having more raw broccoli, because I’m absolutely obsessed with it and it’s another great source of plant protein. I would say this was a pretty well-rounded dinner for a college student.


8pm- A singular churro. I ended up going out with my friends tonight, so of course I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to spend my money on food I don’t need. Obviously it’s not the healthiest option on the planet, but it was delicious, and churros are currently my favorite dessert. 


Anywho, I hope you guys enjoyed this article! Let me know if you’d like to see more lifestyle content from me, because I love writing these types of articles. Did anything that I eat surprise you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, February 10

I can definitely tell that my PMDD is starting to rise up again out of the woodwork, but at least I can be prepared and remind myself that this storm passes. I’m feeling pretty alright in general, but my motivational drive is at a low point and I’m definitely a bit edgier than usual. When my PMDD starts to act up, I tend to get ticked off by the littlest of things and overthink every aspect of my life. Oh well, all I can really do is continue to forgive myself and take care of my body the best I can!

41D0830E-FBE5-40F8-BE60-F82BB07A6B2A.JPG

On a more upbeat note, I’m super excited to sell my Nikon d3500 so I can buy a new stylus for my surface book! I’ve been wanting to get back into digital art for a while now, but it’s essentially impossible without a new stylus. So hopefully that’s something I can get into in the future! I will say, even though I’m very moody and emotional this week, my art and creativity has been really interesting and fresh as of late. I think there’s something about being vulnerable and emotional that really improves the quality of art, what do you think?


Tuesday, February 11

The weather has been cold and gray here for a few days, but as long as I’m indoors, I don’t really mind. Right now, I’m gearing up to start work at my internship, so that will keep me busy enough for the next six hours. Once I get back to campus, I’m going to crack down on my ethics homework and my essay due for my sociology class. The best thing for me to do when I’m combating PMDD hell week is to keep as busy as possible, so that I can distract my mind from getting too anxious or self-critical. Also, sleep is a big one too! I’m definitely aiming for a full nine hours tonight, because the seven or so hours I got last night is barely cutting it. When I was sitting on the train this morning, I could barely keep my eyes open!

Anyway, I feel like I’m still in a pretty good place, given the circumstances. I facetimed my friend Lily last night, and she always cheers me up no matter what I’m dealing with. As I said last night to her on the phone, “We’ve reached the point in our friendship where we can silently sit on facetime at 11pm and text boys who don’t love us.”


Thursday, February 13

The last couple of days have been very positive for me emotionally, so I’m hoping this means I’m going to have a decent cycle of PMDD this month! In fact, the only negative side effects that I have noticed lately are increased appetite (I’ve been eating way more than usual), and I feel absolutely fatigued. No matter how many solid hours of sleep I get, I wake up feeling exhausted to the point that I wonder if I can even get out of bed. As of right now, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open, hence why I’ve decided to try writing to see if that gets my brain going. I’ve also drank most of my coffee, but it might be time for another one. It’s frustrating to be tired, because I do get decent sleep now and it makes me feel like I’m not trying hard enough when I spend the entire morning feeling sleepy. There is definitely a level of guilt that comes with hormonal-based fatigue, even if it’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it. I would be terrified to call out of work due to fatigue, because I wouldn’t want to let anyone down or make people feel like I’m incapable of doing my job. Anywho, I’m not a big napper, but today may be a Nap Day after I finish up at my internship. We shall see how I’m feeling tomorrow. 


Friday, February 14

Happy Valentine’s Day! Or Galentine’s Day, I should say. It’s about ten in the morning right now, so I’ve been up for three hours. Even though I’ve already had my coffee, the PMDD fatigue is still hitting me hard. I’m hoping it lets up soon, because Lily and I are planning on going to the MFA for a friendship date. I’ll see if I can squeeze in a nap before I get ready, at least.

Besides the fatigue and constant sleepiness, I’m feeling pretty okay! My anxiety levels have been really low lately, so I’m grateful for that. I’ve also been trying to get out more and do more social things with my friends, so we went to Target last night and goofed off. I’m so lucky to have friends who not only appreciate my chaotic energy, but match it as well. 

Regardless of how you celebrate your Valentine’s Day, remember to practice self love first and recognize your worth! You are stronger than you know!


Saturday, February 15

This week has just flown by, and I’m so happy that the weekend is here! I hope you all had a wonderful, happy Valentine’s Day with your friends and partners. I had an absolutely lovely evening with my friend Lily; we started out our night by going to one of my favorite restaurants, which is a vegan Chinese place called Grasshopper. Everything on the menu is 100% vegan, even if it has a traditional “meat” name (for example, I ordered this amazing vegetarian lo mein with “chicken” in it). It was absolutely superb, and pretty affordable as well. I’m looking forward to visiting again.

IMG_8931.jpg

After that, we went to the MFA because we get in free with our student IDs. I was hoping to see some works by my favorite artist, Edward Hopper, but the museum unfortunately was not showcasing any of his paintings at that time. Nonetheless, we viewed some really interesting pieces and had an overall lovely time. Lily is also extremely funny and animated, and she made me laugh so hard I cried a few times. It was such a feel-good night, and it reminded me that I am actually totally okay with being single. Sure, it would be nice to have somebody, but I love myself and my friends enough that I don’t really worry about it/get hung up on it. After our museum trip, we got some cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and hung out in my room (and I’m eating my leftovers as I write this).

IMG_8929.jpg

Tonight I think I’m going to hang out with my friends on campus, and then tomorrow is going to be homework day. I was thinking about going into Boston to see my friend at Berklee tonight, but I’m honestly not really comfortable with taking the light rail by myself at night. I’m also kind of tired from all the traveling I did yesterday, and I do have some work to catch up on, so I think I’m going to stay close to home tonight. Anyway, thank you all for reading! Be on the lookout for more upcoming Analog content 🙂

2020 is a new year and a new decade, so I’ve decided to introduce some new seasonal/monthly features into my blog to kick off the year! One thing I really want to start on my Vegetarian Diary is “Recipe of the Season.” My mom and I both love cooking (and baking), so I have tons of recipes to choose from! Today, however, I’ve narrowed it down to one of my all-time favorite recipes of the season: Sun Dried Tomato Gnocchi. This isn’t specifically a winter dish, but I have been enjoying it a lot this winter. The original recipe calls for chicken, but obviously I didn’t add it during my own preparation. Nonetheless, feel free to enjoy this recipe with or without chicken! You can find the full recipe on eatyourselfskinny.com

sundried-gnocchi-111.jpg

Here are the quick facts about the nutritional value of this recipe:

-Spinach, of course, is a magical superfood loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. I’m picky about spinach. I’m not a huge favor of the flavor, but in this recipe, it’s barely detectable when combined when combined with notes of tomato and cheese. Especially as a vegetarian, spinach is a great way for me to get some iron into my diet and maintain my health.

-Tomatoes make this dish colorful and vibrant, and they’re also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Tomatoes can also lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

So anyway, what is gnocchi? Essentially, it’s an Italian potato dumpling. It does taste quite a bit like a doughy noodle, and if I’m correct, it is technically considered a type of pasta. Also, it’s believed that gnocchi was the first pasta ever invented by the Italians! It’s a recipe and a historical tidbit  all in one.

Additionally, this recipe can also be substituted with gluten-free gnocchi rather than the traditional style, and of course, vegans can prepare it without the cheese and chicken. Trust me, it’s still just as delicious! 

I love this recipe because it’s warm, comfy, and homestyle- three things I love the most during these cold winter months. Obviously you can prepare this dish year-round, but I’m personally looking forward to making it next Christmas for my friends and family. If you guys also try out this recipe, let me know! I’d love to know your thoughts.

With December marking my two-year anniversary as a vegetarian, I felt it was time for me to summarize some of my all-time favorite planty snacks. Now, does “planty” equal tasteless, bland, and “too healthy?” Absolutely not! I promise all of these snacks are filling, easy, and delicious to snack on. Especially being a college student on the go, it’s important to me that I can whip up healthy snacks when I’m short on time or in a rush. You’ll notice that many of these snacks are high in protein. Trust me, that’s no accident!


Peanut butter banana toast | Protein, Potassium, Fiber

Image result for peanut butter banana toast

This is probably the thousandth time I’ve mentioned peanut butter banana toast on my blog, but trust me when I say I cannot get enough of it. It’s so delicious, so filling, and so quick to make. It also uses a lot of staples from my dining hall, so I can conveniently make it at school as well. Peanut butter may not be the healthiest thing out there, but it is a great source of vegan protein. This makes for a great breakfast, midday snack, or even a dessert if you’re feeling fancy. Also, it takes tops ten minutes to prepare and seconds to eat. 


Overnight oats | Energy, Magnesium, Protein

Image result for overnight oats

My mom and I started getting into overnight oats about six months ago, after we stumbled upon the recipe in a Body Boss cookbook. There are countless ways to prepare overnight oats with a variety of different fruits and nuts, but the ones we make have rolled oats, chia seeds, almond milk, and frozen berries. That’s it. It really is that easy. I like to prepare 4-5 mason jars of overnight oats on Sunday evenings (because, you know, they’re overnight oats), and then I have ready-made breakfast for every day of the week! Also, none of those ingredients are even remotely expensive. Quaker rolled oats? Frozen berries? Milk? It’s such a poor man’s feast. Five stars from me.


“Banilla” yogurt with banana granola | Calcium & Antioxidants

Image result for yogurt with granola

Yogurt isn’t the most healthy option for breakfast or snacking, but hey, it’s a lot better than  ice cream or a plate of nachos. Aaand, when you sprinkle granola onto the bowl and mix it in? Big nut. (No pun intended.) My favorite brand and flavor of yogurt is the Stoneyfield “Banilla,” which, as you may have guessed, is vanilla and banana. I like to make it feel a bit healthier by adding in fresh bananas as well, if I’m really feeling crazy. Nonetheless, it’s a small yet satisfying meal, and takes basically no time to whip up.


Huel shakes | Nutritionally Complete

Image result for huel shakes

I’ve mentioned Huel before on my blog, because I think it’s a genuinely great product that comes from a great company. Huel shakes contain all of the essential nutrients and minerals you need to stay healthy, so it’s essentially equal to a meal (so I guess you could theoretically live off of these, though I don’t recommend trying that). I also love Huel because they’re a relatively low-waste option; rather than drinking your coffee or eating your food from a plastic container, you can whip up a huel shake in your blender and drink it from a to-go cup. I love the variety of flavorings I can add to the shakes, and I always feel full for hours after drinking one. As a woman on the go, this is a win for me!


Avocado egg toast | Protein & Fiber

Image result for avocado egg toast

Avocado egg toast is like the sassy, savory sister of peanut butter banana toast. They’re both delicious and simple to make, but in different ways. Avocado, as you’ve heard twelve thousand times, is a highly nutritious fruit with a subtle, creamy flavor. I personally don’t really like avocado on its own, but it’s absolutely divine when combined with a yellow, gooey egg. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can even sprinkle some “everything bagel” seasoning on top. Or, if you want to substitute the eggs, try avocado toast with strawberries on top!


Clif protein bars | Quick Energy

Image result for clif bars

Okay, this one is a little bit lazy because you don’t have to actually make anything, but I still consider Clif bars to be a great snack on the go. Sometimes, I don’t have ten minutes to spare for breakfast, especially on the days when I have three morning classes back-to-back. Clif bars are compact, clean (no annoying crumbs!), and they have a variety of delicious flavors to choose from. My personal favorite flavors are chocolate mint bars and banana chocolate peanut butter, so those are the ones I’ve been packing in my school bag this week.

Winter is here, and that means my second Fab Fit Fun box is here and ready to be reviewed! A quick run-down of the box: you receive eight full-sized items, at a $200+ value, for only $40 a month, so it’s really quite a steal. The first box I received from FFF was in September, and since I genuinely liked everything I received in the box, I decided to keep my subscription and try out the winter box as well. I pay for this subscription with my own money, and everything I say is my own thoughts and opinions. Here are my genuine, true impressions about everything I received:


IMG_7797.JPG

Lil’ Marshmallow Blanket | UnHide | $65

With every Fab Fit Fun box, subscribers are able to customize some of the items they receive. I knew I wanted to customize my box with this blanket because I love everything the company stands for: it’s cruelty-free, it’s against real fur, and the company donates some of its profits to the Humane Society. AND, it was launched by Ellen DeGeneres! Not only is this blanket vegan and ethical, it’s also extremely comfy and looks fabulous on our couch. As you can tell from our all-white apartment, we love our neutrals. This blanket was definitely a win for me, and I’m glad I picked it for my box’s first customization option. 


IMG_7778.jpg

Bluetooth Shower Speaker | ban.do | $35

The second item I customized for my box was this waterproof Bluetooth speaker, originally retailing for $35. I was really excited about this item because I love to listen to music while I shower, but I obviously can’t bring my phone in the water with me. It’s extremely simple to set up, just like any other basic Bluetooth device, and now I can’t stop using it every time I take a shower. I will say that the sound quality isn’t super amazing, but it’s decent enough for me in the shower. Because of the small size, this speaker is great for traveling and using essentially anywhere around the house. I also like to stick it on my fridge when I’m baking and listening to podcasts. 


IMG_7775.jpg

Organic Circle Bracelet| Adore by Swarovski | $39

As you’ll read at the bottom, I actually received two boxes due to a shipping malfunction, so I have a duplicate of everything I received. That means my mom and I both get to have these adorable rose-gold bracelets, which are each adorned with a tiny Swarovski crystal. I used to hate wearing jewelry, but lately I’ve been really into anything silver or rose-gold. I love that this bracelet is simplistic and still feminine, and my mom loves her bracelet as well. It’s a dainty, classic piece, and it goes really well with my mostly-neutral closet. I’m really happy I decided to choose this customization!


IMG_7776 (1).JPG

Proof is in the Puddin’ Palette | Beauty Bakerie | $38

The rest of the items I received in the box were all chosen by FFF, so they were a complete surprise to me. I was SO excited when I unpacked my box and discovered this eyeshadow palette, because I’m obsessed with all and any makeup (and eyeshadow is my favorite makeup item). This palette is a great staple item because the colors are all very neutral and warm-toned, making it ideal for both beginners and makeup experts. Even though I left a not-so-positive of the Beauty Bakerie lipsticks earlier this year, I have to say, I really like their eyeshadow formula. As you can see, I’ve already used this palette a few times, and I’m excited to continue trying new looks in the future. 


IMG_7773.JPG

Original Coffee Scrub | frank body| $17

I’ve used a few coffee scrubs in the past, so I was also very happy to receive this item in my box. I love this particular scrub because it’s cruelty-free (always a must for me), it leaves my skin amazingly soft, and it smells absolutely invigorating. It smells like coffee, of course, but it also has a hint of citrus in it that leaves my skin smelling amazing. It’s also very nourishing for my skin, and after I use it in the shower, I feel like I’ve applied a thick lotion to my arms and legs. The only negative element of this coffee scrub is that it can get very messy- after all, it’s basically straight coffee grinds in a bag. As long as you’re okay with a bit of a mess in your shower, you’ll love this scrub.


CALM + CLEAN Epsom Salt Hand and Body Wash | Cuccio Somatology | $40

I’ve actually never heard of the brand Cuccio before, but I’m definitely a fan after trying this body wash. I’m such a huge fan of lavender too, especially since I’m a night-showerer at college and I need something to wind me down rather than wake me up in the shower. You could also use this product as a hand wash, but I prefer using it as a complete body wash to help me get super relaxed and ready for bed. I also gave a bottle of this to my mom, because she tends to have a lot of neck and back pain, and the Epsom salt helps tremendously with that. I’m shocked at the original price point of $40 for a bottle of body wash, so I’m lucky I was able to get it for essentially free in my winter box. 


IMG_7777.JPG

Prime & Prep Detangler | Drybar | $23

I’m always happy to receive a hair product in my FFF box, because my hair has been through so much bleaching and dyeing in the past year, it desperately needs the extra love. On top of this nourishing spray, I also use the AVEDA hair repair treatment regularly (another item I received via FFF, might I add). Since using these products together, my hair has become so silky, smooth, and bouncy again. I’ve always had naturally curly hair, and these nourishing hair products really help me to retain those curls through all the bleaching and toning. I’m very happy with the condition of my hair now, even after just using this product 2-3 times. It’s definitely going to become an essential in my hair care routine. 


IMG_7796 (1).JPG

MakeUp Eraser | MakeUp Eraser | $20

Lastly but certainly not least, I received this MakeUp eraser cloth in my winter box. I have to say, I was skeptical of this product at first, but I am AMAZED. It takes off all of my heavy liner, full-coverage foundation, and even mascara in one quick swipe. It doesn’t feel like it’s dragging or scrubbing my face at all, so I appreciate the gentle yet thorough nature of this cloth. Additionally, it’s a great low-waste alternative to buying traditional makeup wipes, so you can feel great about using it. This product has four and a half stars on Amazon, so I highly recommend picking one up for yourself if you wear a lot of heavy eye makeup. 

Note: I do want to quickly say that I’ve been experiencing some new, flesh-covered breakouts on my cheekbones and near my eyebrows, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it causing the bumps yet. It does feel a bit rashy, but it very well could be from this new line of skincare products I’m using and not this cloth. I wanted to include that here because some reviews have stated a similar rash, so just be careful and look out for signs! I’ll do some more investigating and let you guys know what I think is causing this rash- it very well could be completely unrelated to the cloth.


As you can see, I was really impressed with this winter box! I feel like I received a lot of practical, long-lasting products, such as the MakeUp Eraser and the bluetooth speaker. I’m looking forward to not only using these products during the winter, but throughout the rest of the year as well. I’m going to keep my subscription for another season, so we’ll see if the Spring box blows me away, too.

Side note: I did have a shipping problem with my winter box, as you may remember hearing if you read my weekly catch-ups. Basically, my winter box was on-route to Virginia for some reason, so the company sent me a replacement box…but then my first box magically appeared at my doorstep? So yes, I did receive two boxes this season, even though I only paid for one! Many of the duplicates I received were re-gifted for Christmas presents, so it ended up being a win-win.

My Fall 2019 Box Review: https://diplomatsdigest.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/reviewing-the-fall-2019-fab-fit-fun-box-my-honest-thoughts/

If I’m recalling correctly, December is the last produce guide I have left to do! It was fun while it lasted, so I’ll have to think of another food-related series I can start on the blog. I love plugging in recipes, so maybe I can find a way to incorporate that into a series.

Anywho, the year is winding down, and that means holiday cooking and baking is in full force. December is the prime month for some of my favorite fruits and veggies, so I hope you find this guide helpful!


pexels-photo-1441099.jpeg
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Pomegranates are probably my favorite fruit in season this month, and my mom has already taken to buying several at the grocery store. They may be a bitch to eat, but it’s all worth it when you have a bowl of sweet, gem-like pomegranate seeds. Not only are pomegranates indisputably delicious, they’re also pretty good for you! Pomegranate seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber, and one serving of pomegranate seeds yield 12 percent of your daily vitamin C intake. They’re a perfect sweet snack for those cold winter months, so consider picking one up the next time you go grocery shopping. 


person feeding vegetable on brown animal
Photo by Eric Esma on Pexels.com

Celery had to be included on this list because it’s a crucial ingredient of one of my favorite holiday dishes- stuffing. You can say what you want about raw, uncooked celery, but Thanksgiving stuffing slaps and you all know it. There are a ton of health benefits associated with eating celery, including weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels. Celery also has high amounts of vitamins C, K, and A, so you can feel good about incorporating it into your diet this holiday season. I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s stuffing mix if you’re looking for a new Christmas staple- it’s the perfect combination of savory veggies and buttery bliss. 10/10 recommend. 

Trader Joe’s Stuffing: https://www.amazon.com/Trader-Joes-Cornbread-Stuffing-12-4Oz/dp/B00A0X6WRC


IMG_0386.JPG

You all know by now that potatoes hold a very special place in my heart. They’re cheap to grow, rich in nutrients, and make delicious treats year-round. Here’s a random fun fact for you: potatoes were first domesticated in South America up to 10,000 years ago. Also, a baked potato on a winter’s day makes an economical, warming, and nutritious snack. In theme with winter holidays, here’s the link to an amazing five-star latke recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also a perfect dish for vegetarians (and can easily be customized for vegans). 

Classic Latke Recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015533-classic-potato-latkes


drink glass glassware lemon
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Lemons, limes, and basically all citrus fruits are in season for the month of December. Lemons and limes can be grouped together nutrition-wise because they share many of the same properties, including a ton of vitamin C. I personally love to drink water flavored with slices of lemon and lime; not only does it look aesthetically pleasing, it has also been linked to burning fat and increasing energy levels. For my wine drinkers out there, you’ll love a citrus-infused sangria this holiday season! Here’s the link to one of my family’s favorite drinks around the holidays:

Mint Citrus White Wine Sangria: https://minimalistbaker.com/mint-and-citrus-white-wine-sangria/


green orange and yellow pumpkins
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

Winter squashes encompass a wide variety of foods, including pumpkins, but my personal favorite variety is the classic butternut squash. Butternut squash, as I learned this Thanksgiving, is my all-time favorite holiday side dish. Seriously, I had tons of it. My mom’s squash recipe is my favorite; she simply boils it as you normally would, but then she adds salt, pepper, butter, and a little bit of nutmeg. It’s one of my favorite homestyle dishes to enjoy, especially during the colder months. You can rejoice in the fact that butternut squash is low in calories and high in nutrients, especially vitamin C and potassium. 


close up of strawberries
Photo by Irita Antonevica on Pexels.com

Last but certainly not least, cranberries are in season in the month of December. Did you know that cranberries are considered a superfood? You’ve probably heard that cranberries are linked to reducing urinary tract infections (UTIs), but did you know that cranberries can also improve immune function and decrease blood pressure? I don’t currently have a favorite cranberry dish, but I did come across this Cranberry Christmas Cake on the blog “Barefeet in the Kitchen.” It looks absolutely amazing, so I’m thinking about making it this month with my mom! What is your favorite winter cake flavor? Let me know in the comments!

Cranberry Christmas Cake: https://barefeetinthekitchen.com/cranberry-christmas-cake/

The past few years have been a unique experience for me, diet-wise. I went vegetarian in the December of 2017, and was strictly vegan from May 2018 to May 2019. I’ve returned to eating eggs and milk now, but I’m still proudly vegetarian and intend to stay that way forever. I might even go back to being vegan in the future, we’ll see what happens!

IMG_6993.jpg

Anyway, it goes without saying that Thanksgiving hasn’t been the same since I’ve made these changes. Actually, it’s been better! I will say, it’s much easier to celebrate vegetarian Thanksgiving than vegan Thanksgiving. Every single side dish had to be separately prepared without butter/milk for me, and obviously turkey and meat is out of the question. This year, I’m happy that I’ll be able to enjoy the same sides as my family, and per usual, I’m opting for some very delicious Tofurkey. Today, I’m going to guide you through my Thanksgiving preparation with my mom, and spill the tea on what Tofurkey is really like for those of you who haven’t tried it. 

What are you guys’ thoughts on macaroni and cheese as a Thanksgiving side? I’m personally all for it. My mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese is one of my fondest Thanksgiving memories, and although it’s not quite as good as the kind at The Chicken Connection, it’s definitely a close second. I’m not quite sure if she invented the recipe, or if she took it from an ancient cookbook, but it’s delicious nonetheless. 

Now, let’s talk about fake turkey. As someone who hasn’t touched meat for almost two years, I don’t really remember what it tastes like and I don’t have anything to compare it to. I can say from personal experience that I do like the taste of tofurkey, and it’s especially delicious with the vegetarian gravy the box comes with! It’s also extremely easy to make, you just thaw it and bake it in the oven as you would with a regular turkey. In regards to appearance and texture, I think it looks just like the real deal. What do you guys think?

This year, I’ve decided to bake my own pie for Thanksgiving. I LOVE baking, as many of you probably know, but I don’t get to do it much due to always being away at college. This year, I’ve decided to make my own apple pie from an online recipe, but alter it a bit to add my own twist.

I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving, and stay safe as well. I’m looking forward to spending the holidays this year with my mom, stepdad, and our dogs, Duke and Cooper. Soviet Kitsch Analysis Part II will be out on Friday, and after that, Blogmas begins! I’m looking forward to the rest of the year, and furthermore, starting some new exciting projects in the spring semester. I feel like this year is just flying by, don’t you?

food salad healthy summer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned before so many times, eating vegan (or even just vegetarian) on a college campus can be extremely difficult. Cross contamination tends to be a huge issue, and because it’s usually unavoidable, I tend to be pretty lax and forgiving with myself if I eat something that may have a bit of dairy in it. Last week, I challenged one of my friends to eat completely vegan for as long as she could, and I have to say, she really took this seriously! Thank you, Allison, for helping me put together this social experiment. Allison was pretty open about the fact that this was super hard for her, and there were a couple instances in which she did eat a few dairy items (mostly due to going to The Cheesecake Factory with her friends on the second night). Here’s how Allison’s week as a vegan went down:


October 7

Location: Dining hall

[Dinner] Butternut squash soup, white rice, crackers, fries, and Kix cereal


October 8

Location: Dining hall, The Cheesecake Factory

[Breakfast] Cantaloupe, bagel w/ jelly, potatoes & onions

[Lunch] Potatoes w/ peppers and onions, vegetarian lo mein, green beans, roasted corn, tortilla

[Dinner] (Cheesecake Factory): Caesar salad, bread & butter, peanut butter cheesecake


October 9

Location: Dining hall

[Breakfast] Leftover cheesecake

[Lunch] Sweet potato

[Dinner] Cheez-its and raisins 


October 10

Location: Dining hall

[Lunch] Brown rice and potatoes, Cape Cod chips, one uncrustable sandwich

[Dinner] Egg roll, dinner roll, sweet potato tots, potatoes


October 11

Location: Dining hall

[Lunch] Pizza


Lastly, I asked Allison what the entire experience was like, and if she found trying to eat vegan 100% of the time difficult. “It was very hard,” she said. “It was all potatoes and pasta. It also made me sad to go to the dining hall because there wasn’t a lot of food that was satisfying and vegan.”

I think Allison did a really great job expressing the lack of protein available for vegans and vegetarians. As you can see, potatoes and rice primarily took up a large part of her diet, because they’re high in starches and generally very filling. Unfortunately, slipping into a routine that lacks protein and iron can be seriously damaging to your health, as I have experienced myself at college. This is exactly why I wanted to do this experiment- to show how difficult it can be to eat an adequate, healthy diet, and still feel full.

When I came back home from college in May after eating vegan for a full year, I was exhausted, sick, and dangerously close to being anemic. I napped at every chance I got, because I was so tired all the time, and my immune system was compromised from not getting the nutrients I needed. I’ve now started expanding my diet to include animal-derived products, such as eggs, but I know that I will never stop being a vegetarian. That being said, veganism simply just doesn’t work for me while I live on campus. It’s important to not feel guilty for making these decisions- I myself was struggling with a lot of guilt for eating eggs again. However, at the end of the day, YOUR HEALTH is the most important. Maybe someday in the future I will safely be able to eat vegan again, but for now, I’m not being too hard on myself.

Once again, thank you Allison for helping me with this data and for being a lovely recipient!


Coming up next: How I Save Money in College

Like many other plant-based eaters, I was thrilled when I learned that Burger King would be introducing a plant-based burger into every location across the nation earlier this year. I already have a hard enough time finding options at sit-down restaurants, so having a fast food choice was actually the next step up. I’m happy to have another cheap vegan junk food option I can enjoy while out on the road.

That being said, the launch has not come without a fair share of controversy, including criticism from my own perspective. There are two major problems I have with the Impossible Whopper (despite everything I love about having a plant-based option): animal testing and cross-contamination. 

I’d also like to preface by saying these are my personal opinions about the subject matter, and I understand other people have equally valid points about the same facts. To each their own, that’s all I have to say.

First of all, let’s talk about the animal testing conducted by Impossible Foods for this product. The component of the Impossible Burger that gives it the iconic “meaty” taste is actually a molecule called heme, which is found in iron. Through genetic engineering, Impossible Foods was able to mass-produce heme- enough to make millions of burgers. Despite the fact that heme was approved by the FDA in 2017 (and the company thus was not required to test on animals), they did anyway. More than 180 rats were killed in the process of developing a plant-based burger, projected by a company that’s allegedly all about protecting animals. The soy leghemoglobin was fed to the rats “in massive doses” in three different tests, and subsequently, the rats were killed and cut apart to see how the compound reacted in their system. This is not secretive news- Impossible Foods is pretty open about the fact that they carried out these tests.

Image result for cute rats
Come on, how could you hurt that face?

188 rats may not seem like much to you, but for someone who is an avid animal lover like myself, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The first pets I’d like to have my first apartment are domesticated fancy rats. I can’t even write these statistics without feeling sick to my stomach-no matter how small or insignificant an animal may seem, it’s still an animal. It’s still an empathetic creature.

Secondly, the Impossible Whopper is not as safe for vegans and vegetarians as you may think. Unless specifically requested otherwise by the consumer, the Impossible Whopper patty is cooked on the same dirty stove as the beef patties. This is not only frustrating for plant-based eaters trying to avoid cross-contamination, but also for people with beef allergies who are relying on this burger to be a safe option. It would be one thing if the company clearly stated in their advertisements that you MUST ask for your burger to be microwaved in order to avoid contamination, but I cannot find a single statement on any ad. Many people, such as myself, went in eating this product believing it was a “safe” option, when the reality is I could have gotten very sick. 

It’s very similar to the animal testing sentiment. It might not be a big deal to you, but for someone who is strongly affected by this careless action, it hits a lot harder. Maybe you aren’t bothered by the cross-contamination, but what about someone with a legitimate beef allergy who was wrongly led to believe that this burger is “100% plants”? It’s just flat-out wrong. 

IMG_5909.jpg

If you’re going to promote a product that is marketed as “100% plant based”, don’t cook it on a dirty stove by default. It completely destroys the point of the product if you’re not going to bother owning up to that statement. It’s probably mostly Burger King’s fault for not considering the complications of cooking everything on the same stove, but I would hold Impossible Foods at fault as well for not better marketing their product. Also, maybe don’t test your products on animals if you’re not required to by law?

“0% beef”? You also might want to think about revamping that slogan, Impossible Foods. Take some advice from me, and choose the plant-based options from Impossible Food’s top competitor,  Beyond Meat, instead.


Source/further reading

https://vegnews.com/2017/8/impossible-foods-reveals-it-tests-on-animals


Coming up next: Why School Starting Ridiculously Early is NOT Good For Your Health