Vegan Hemp Parmesan

True story: I grew up with a tiny Silician grandmother (“Oma” who loved to feed me lots and lots of yummy food. My favorite forever and always was her pasta with homemade sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. The lady also made the most amazing salads. No other food has ever tasted as good.

Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parmesan

The woman had a gift: she could make the simplest ingredients taste phenomenal. No recipes, just all by look and feel. Bless her genius culinary skills.

Oma always had Kraft parmesan out on the table. Yup, the totally American, shelf-stable stuff in a blue shaker jar. According to my mom, it was the ‘only game in town’ for a long time before importing foods became more mainstream and better options were available. Regardless, Kraft parm will always remind me of her.

Hemp Hearts

I was never big on melted cheese, but I always did love me some parm on top of pasta or salad. Since going dairy-free, I’ve ventured into the world of making my own parm.

For a very long time, I’ve pulsed up walnuts or cashews and added nutritional yeast as the base for parm. While this works well, I recently brought a bag of hemp seeds and thought the shape, size, and nutty flavor would work perfectly for vegan parm. Turns out, I was right.

Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parm

Hemp seeds/hearts have recently entered my life and I can’t get enough. And they’re one of those hype foods that’s actually quite good for you. 3 Tablespoons packs 10 grams of protein, 20% DV iron, and 3 grams of fiber.

On top of that, they are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and contain a decent amount of omega-3s, as well. If you are plant-based or don’t eat a lot of fish, making friend with omega fatty-acid-rich foods is a wise idea for optimal brain health and neurological function.

Wow so that was a fun 5 seconds of my academic voice coming out there^.

Easy Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parmesan

Paired with nutritional yeast, which is rich in many B vitamins including the difficult-for-vegans-to-consume B12, protein, and other important trace nutrients, you’ve got a plant-based nourishment slam dunk. Also, importantly, it tastes good!

Anyways, behold the easiest vegan Parmesan you’ll ever make. It’s also nut-free for those with allergies. It’s delicious on salads, pasta, Mexican dishes, or in any recipe you’d use traditional parm.

Easy Delicious Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parmesan

I hope you make this vegan parmesan and I hope you like it! Champagne wishes and vegan parmesan dreams!

Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parmesan Cheese

Vegan Hemp Parmesan

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: about 1/2 cup vegan parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds or hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl. Toss.
  2. Serve on pasta, salads, roasted vegetables, or wherever you would use dairy parmesan. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Helloooo my favorite snack ever! If you’ve known me for any length of time you probably know that my favorite food on earth is the wonderful sweet potato. Regular. Japanese. Red. Purple. I’ll take ’em all. Carb me.Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

I am a sweet potato maniac. When I was a kid I would walk around with a baked sweet potato in my hand, eating it as if it were an apple. I was cool. Between that and being the only elementary school kid drinking soy milk (because milk did and does give me the worst gas ever) I had a lot of friends. I promise.

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

One of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is with almond butter. Something about the nuttiness of almond butter plays so well off the savory sweetness of sweet potatoes.

Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Lately I’m very into making sweet potato wedges. For years, I pretty much exclusively made baked sweet potatoes and ate them whole. But lately I’m on a wedge kick. Bonus: sweet potato wedges are perfect for dipping, in my case in AB.

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of meal prep, but potatoes I don’t mind making in larger quantities because I literally am always in the mood for them, and they’re nice to add to salads or pair with a sandwich or to just eat as a snack. Plus, given the fact that I have a couple late nights a week, it’s nice to have some food ready to go for my hangry ass.

Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

I like to make a big batch of these and let them cool completely before eating them. For some reason, I think sweet potatoes have a more vibrant sweet flavor cold. So I make a batch using 2-3 giant sweet potatoes, and store them in the refrigerator for snacking over the course of 2-ish days. I don’t like to prep potatoes more than 2 days out because potatoes actually go bad pretty quickly.

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

You’ll notice I don’t use a ton of oil for these wedges. This isn’t because oil is bad, but mainly because oil prevents things from burning, and I like my potatoes a bit burnt. If you desire slightly less cripsy wedges, add a bit more oil, and decrease bake time.

Delicious Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

These wedges are perfect dipped in almond butter, but they’re also fabulous plain with sea salt, and/or dipped in hummus, maple syrup, or guacamole. Potatoes.are.bae.

I hope you make these potatoes and I hope you love them! If you do give me a holler. Leave a comment below or HMU on Insta.

Happy potatoeing my friends!

Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 2-4 servings, depending on hunger

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 420°F.
  2. Slice sweet potatoes into wedges shapes by cutting in half lengthwise, placing the flat surfaces downwards on the cutting board, and cutting lengthwise again. Next, cut each remaining chunk into thirds. This tutorial is helpful if you’re interested.
  3. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, foil, or parchment paper. Arrange potatoes evenly on the baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between them so the wedges are not touching.
  4. Drizzle oil on potatoes, and use hands to toss potatoes, so wedges get lightly coated.
  5. Roast for 30-40 minutes until edges are browned and potatoes are soft to touch, flipping halfway through.
  6. Remove wedges from oven and salt generously. Enjoy with almond butter, guac, or hummus.

Adopting Millie + Millie FAQs

Ahhh! Four years ago today I adopted Millie. That’s crazy to me. In some ways I feel like it hasn’t been that long, but it many others I simply can’t imagine my life without her.

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I get a million questions about Millie so I thought I’d address them here!

1. How did you adopt Millie?

img_1499the very first photo/selfie of us together!

Senior year of collage my roommate needed to move and we ended up breaking our lease and because no one needed a roomie in the middle of October I ended up living alone. I didn’t mind it, but I also desired companionship and have always been an over-the-top animal lover so I began exploring different pet options.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of a cat or a some sort of rodent. I was still a college student and lived in New York City and had no idea where I’d be living after graduation, so I kept convincing myself a dog was impractical.

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But the more I thought about other pet options, the more I yearned for a dog. Cats are fine, but I knew adopting one meant my sister who is extremely allergic could never visit me and I also know I didn’t want to deal with litter boxes or cleaning cages.

Plus, I’ve just always been a dog person. I grew up with them and always took fondly to them.

img_1497Millie’s first birthday!

After I stopped my dog-desire denial, I began the obsessive shelter website stalking. I kept looking for ‘the one.’

If you want to know the truth, I didn’t pick out Millie. After a few months of looking and visiting a few dogs that on paper looked perfect and not feeling a ‘click’ or arriving to shelters only to find out the dog I had inquired about had already been adopted, I grew disheartened.

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I also had an added complication of being a college student – a status which disqualified me from adopting from many New York City shelters.

I finally did find a rather sketchy looking rescue organization that didn’t seem to check student status. The organization drove bus-fulls of dogs from high-kill shelters in Tennessee up to nyc for fostering and adoption.

I scoped their site and inquired about a boarder collie lab mix puppy (in retrospect, a rather unwise idea).

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After filling out form after form I was all set to foster the puppy….until, the night before, I received an email stating that the puppy had been adopted. My heart sank.

The rescue organization proceeded to send me a photo of a dog named “Grace,” (Millie) who was “on death row” and in need of a foster home.

Rather reluctantly, I agreed. But a small dog? I had never wanted one of those, and was convinced that I would never want or own a small dog.

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But the photo – I’ll never forget it. Grace was a different dog than Millie is today (not literally, figuratively). There was so much fear and a deep sadness in her eyes. Her stance was guarded, and she looked troubled.

Obviously I couldn’t let the dog be put down, so I agreed to foster her with zero intentions of adopting.

On February 8, 2014, I took the subway to the Upper West Side where the rescue organization had told me they’d be camped out, and Millie was placed in my arms out of a sea of dogs in a van, wearing a too-small Super silly Pom Pom-hooded sweater. I’ll never forget having her put in my arms, and loading her into a carrier to take her back to my apartment.

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We road the 1 downtown and got off at Astor place. She took a very long pee.

We walked around the east village. The first place we went was Mud Coffee, where my friend was working. I showed him Millie and he gave me a free iced coffee.

And Her first poop was on second avenue between 10th and 11th, in case you were curious.

We made it back to my east village apartment and the second she set foot in the studio, she made herself at home, going straight for the bed, and rolling on her back, asking for scratches.

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It was a crazy day. We got to know each other. I learned rather quickly that she was quite fond of eating, and that the baby gate I purchased was worthless cause she could sail straight over it with an effortless hop.

We walked around Thompson square park and I still remember her tugging – it was clear to me she was unfamiliar with walking on a leash.

I was quickly relieved to realize she was potty trained (bless) and not much of a chewer. Her bark was surprisingly loud, and when she was happy, her whole body showed it.

Slowly, over the next few weeks, we bonded.

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But for some dumb reason, I didn’t immediately adopt. I remained foster parent status for nearly two weeks until the adoption agency began pressing me, saying Grace had several inquiries on her adoption profile. I realized the idea of giving her to someone else was unbearable, and I signed the papers, paid a fee, and formerly adopted her.

Shortly thereafter, I named her Millie (which means gentle strength) because Grace just wasn’t a fitting name for her strange and spunky personality (Grace remains her middle name).

And four years later, here we are! Having a dog (and a sassy one at that) isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

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She has brought me so much join, entertainment, comfort, and love. And taught me so much about responsibility, compassion, putting another’s needs above my own, and importantly, that a preconceived ideation of what you can love is easily shattered when you go beyond surface characteristics or physical attributes.

So that’s my adoption story of Millie, and if you’re still reading, a few other FAQs!

2. What kind of dog is Millie?

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Because Millie is a rescue, I’m not exactly sure. When I adopted her, I was told she was a “cheweenie” aka a chihuahua dachshund mix.

But based on her personality, energy level, insane jumping abilities and head shape, I’m almost certain Millie is some sort of Jack Russel dachshund Mix.

She’s got a Jack Russel howl and is extremely agile and energetic. Her long body, stubbornness, strange vocalizations (she groans and sighs a lot) and fondness of burrowing make me also think she’s got quite a bit of dachshund in her.

I’m not saying it’s impossible that she has some chihuahua in there, but for the most part, my best best is jack russel dachshund Mix. And google image has more or less validated this for me (haha!).

Bottom line: whatever she is, she’s perfect to me!

3. How old is Millie?

Mil Dawg

Millie will be 5 in April! They grow up so fast 😭😭😭😭.

4. Is Millie vegan?

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No! Millie is a carnivore. She does love her fruit and veggie snacks though!

The brand of dog food she eats changes (I like to mix it up for her) but it’s always a higher-quality food since the super cheap stuff gives her the squirts.

5.  What do you do with her when you travel?

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Most of the time I bring Millie along. I carry her onboard with me (for a lovely $95 fee), and she has to stay in a travel case under the seat in front of me. It’s not her favorite, but she goes along with it.

No, I don’t give her anything to put her to sleep. She usually whines during take off and touch down, but naps for a majority of the flight time on most days.

6. Do you think I’m ready for a dog?

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Because I’m still at a life stage where not too many of my friends have dogs, I get asked this question a lot. I respond by always saying that’s a question only you can answer that question. To help guide you to your answer, ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to arrange my life around another’s bathroom schedule?
    • Having a dog means you have to continuously account for the last time your dog has peed, pooped, and eaten. No spontaneous ‘crashing’ at other places, and/or being gone all day and night!
  • Do I have $1,000 to spare this year (This obviously varies, but I spent over 1K in Millie’s first year between vet bills, food, and supplies)?
  • How much do I travel and if I do what will I do with my dog?
    • I travel with Millie, but you gotta have a plan that works for you!
  • Most importantly: do I have the time and energy to ensure the dog gets enough attention, exercise, and love?

7. Does Millie have an Instagram?

Why yes, she does. Follow her! @millie_the_nugget

That’s my Milie story! If you have any other questions, leave them below or HMU on Insta!

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

Don’t you love it when you turn on the oven, throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, hope for the best, and the result turns out amazing? Same here. And that’s exactly what happened with these Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies today.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

So this blog post is rather spontaneous. To be honest I’m in the middle of a few others that are more intensive in terms of scope and research required (think nutrition and sustainability).

But I’ve done so much grueling brain-sucking work this weekend I decided to take a break and make some cookie muffin things and they turned out so yummy I decided I’m extend said break by snapping a few phone photos (I need to get out my real camera…I’ve just been so damn busy the past few weeks) and toss them (figuratively) on the blog.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

The plus of spending so much time on the grind this weekend for work/school is that I suppose I learned a lot. Including that school is hard, I have a lot of self-reflection to do with professional development/relationships, having a working kitchen is very therapeutic to my existance and that people definitely notice dog hair in jam photos. Oops.

But back to the baked goods hand: these are basically pancakes/muffin tops in cookie form due to a lack of other equipment available in my apartment. I had muffins in mind, but presently lack a muffin tin, so here we are.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

I used some random pancake mix I had taking up space on my shelf. It’s not that I don’t love pancakes (I do), but I just usually feel silly making pancakes for myself unless I have others to share with. This is completely absurd and silly and I am worthy of pancakes but for some reason I feel like pancakes always seem too fancy for flying solo.

Anyways, here we are with pancake-mix cookie things. If you don’t have almond butter, go ahead and use melted non-dairy butter, coconut oil, or vegetable oil. All will work swimmingly.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

These are perfect not-too-sweet mid-morning snacks. If you want them a bit sweeter add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, agave, sugar or honey. I’m fine and dandy with them smothered in almond butter and/or some homemade chia seed jam.

Now it’s back to work for this sad old grad student. But at least this time, I have muffin cookie things! Hooray!

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Servings: about 12 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pancake or waffle mix
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (or softened non-dairy butter, coconut oil, or vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia or flax seeds + 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
  2. Combine flax and water and set aside. allow to sit and thicken, at least 10 minutes.
  3. Combine pancake mix, almond butter, rolled oats, non-dairy milk, chia seeds/flax, and fresh or frozen blueberries and mix until just combine.
  4. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter (it will be thinner than normal cookie dough) onto prepared sheet, leaving a few inches between each cookie.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and fluffy.
  6. Enjoy!

Easy Homemade Chia Jam

I love me a PB&J. Or an almond butter and J. Both are wonderful. And something I feel I appreciate more as an adult than as a child. Anyone else? Okay, maybe just me.

Easy Homemade Chia Jam

While I’m a nut butter fiend, I also appreciate a scrumptious jam or jelly. The issue, I find, with many at the store is that they’re so darn sweet.

Chia Jam Recipe

I’m all about desserts, but when it comes to breakfast foods like yogurt, jams, and oatmeals, I’m very turned off but overly sweet things. Hence, I seek out sweetened-with-only-fruit jams (Crofter’s Organic is my favorite brand, and Trader Joe’s has some good options, as well) or I make my own homemade chia jam.

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Chia seed jam is the easiest thing ever. All you do is add chopped up fruit, chia seeds, and a hint of lemon juice if you’re feeling fancy. If you want to up the sweetness factor, go ahead and add a tablespoon or two of sugar, honey, or syrup.

Chia Jam

I find the chia seed jam perfect tangy and sweetened with only fruit, but you do you boo boo. Live your best jam life.

Easy Homemade Chia Jam

You can use pretty much whatever fruit you want for this recipe. I like to use frozen blueberries and/or strawberries the best. Just thaw and chop them up a bit, or mash at them with a fork. I like to leave some chunks in, but if you like smooth jam, I would suggest processing in a blender or food processor until desired consistency is achieved.

This recipe also rocks because the chia seeds add a little boost of omega-3 fatty acids to your day. If you don’t eat a lot of fish or flax or hemp seeds, chia seeds can help you add some of these essential fatty acids to your day, which as a vegan, I appreciate.

Easy Vegan Chia Jam

This jam goes wonderfully on sandwiches, oatmeal, toast, and yogurt. The possibilities are endless! It will have you saying #ThatsMyJam.

Easy Vegan Chia Jam

I hope you make this jam and I hope you love it! If you do let me know. Comment below or hit me up on Insta (@katherinebaker4).

Have a good weekend everyone!

Easy Homemade Chia Jam

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Fridge Time: At least 60 minutes
Servings: about 1 cup jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped or mashed fresh or (thawed) frozen fruit of choice
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop or mash fruit until desired consistency is reached. I like my jam a bit chunky, so I leave chunks in. If you desire smooth jam, process in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
  3. Allow jam to thicken in the refrigerator, for at least 1 hour, ideally 4-6 or overnight.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Enjoy!

Easy Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese

On Saturday I stopped into the most adorable Italian bakery (Prato) and bought myself a giant loaf of still-warm multigrain bread. It was so fresh and so tasty and it was the best $3.80 I’ve spend in a while.

Easy Vegan Tofu Cream Cheese Recipe

Naturally, everything I’ve eaten since purchasing said loaf has revolved around things to eat with bread. I didn’t have any avocados (boo), nor vegan cream cheese (double boo) and wanted something savory to eat with my bread.

tofu

So I decided to use some tofu to make a plant-based whipped cream cheese spread. I figured, if delis can make cream cheese out of tofu, so can I. So there.

homemade vegan cream cheese

Now. I whipped this cream cheese up with a whisk because I don’t have my food processor with me in NJ yet. I keep forgetting to bring it out here and am setting a reminder to do so when I come back from spring break.

whipped tofu

Anyways, whipping the tofu gave me a whipped fluffy texture, like a whipped cream cheese.

nutritional yeast

If you like whipped cream cheese, do this. If you want it smooth, process it in a food processor or blender. Either way, YUM.

easy vegan cream cheese homemade

I also only had firm tofu on hand, but I highly suggest using silken for a smoother texture.

easy homemade vegan tofu cream cheese

Lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and a hefty dose of salt give the tofu a tangy salty slightly-cheesy flavor reminiscent of cream cheese.

easy vegan cream cheese recipe

You can certainly add a wide variety of mix-ins to make this cream cheese flavored. I think fresh herbs would be delicious, as would some berry compote, or some maple syrup and walnuts.

homemade vegan tofu cream cheese

This easy homemade vegan tofu cream cheese excellent on bread and bagels with jam or jelly or Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Salt (which I can’t get enough of).

easy vegan cream cheese homemade

I hope you make this and I hope you love it! If you do, let me know. Comment below or hmu on Insta (@katherinebaker4).

Easy Homemade Vegan Tofu Cream Cheese

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: about 1 cup vegan cream cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces silken tofu (1/2 a 16-ounce package or 3/4 of a 12-ounce package)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional mix-ins: fresh herbs, walnuts + maple syrup, fruit puree, diced jalapenos, everything bagel seasoning

Method:

  1. Open tofu package and drain liquid. If using a firmer block, press any additional liquid out from tofu by placing tofu on a plate, covering with a paper towel, and pressing down with a cutting board on top of the paper towel.
  2. If using an electric mixer or whisk, mash tofu in a bowl. Add nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt, and whip until fluffy. If using a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and process until smooth.
  3. Enjoy with all the carbs your heart desires. 🙂

How I’m Liking Jersey City So Far

Hello all! If you’ve been following me over the last few months you may already know that I relocated to New Jersey just outside the city and now commute into the city for school. I thought I’d chat a bit about Jersey, how and why I came to this decision, and how I am liking it so far.

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If you want more of a backstory as to how and why I ended up here, you can read this post. But long story short, I was wronged by the city too many times and ended up staying here out of the generosity of a family friend and ended up liking it so much I decided to stay put.

Overall, I am really liking it. Yes, my commute is long (slightly over an hour), but I think the distance between me and the city has been good for my mental health, stress level, and our relationship (ie relationship between me + NYC).

Below you’ll find my honest take on JC thus far. Happy reading!

The Good:

1. It’s Not as Chaotic…

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New York is amazing, don’t get me wrong. But after 5 years of crowds, constant sirens, and tons and tons of people, I needed something different. Jersey City is much calmer. I can almost feel my cortisol level drop when I get off the PATH train. There’s more green space, less traffic, lesser population density, and you can actually hear non-pigeon birds chirping in the morning. Pure bliss.

2. But There’s Still Enough Going On that I Don’t Feel Like I Live in the Middle of No Where…

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Jersey city is a happy medium. Not a big city hustle vibe, but enough shops/culture/stuff going on where I don’t feel like I’m in the middle of no where suburbia. For the record I have nothing against suburbia, but since I presently don’t have a car, I appreciate being able to walk to stores, restaurants, coffee shops and public transportation.

I can best liken JC to the east side of Milwaukee, which I’m aware is an analogy that will resonate with most people. But it makes sense in my head, so here we are.

3. Millie Likes It Better Here

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When I lived in the city I used to kind of take offense when people would comment about wanting to have a dog but believing it was cruel to have one in the city. As someone who rescued a dog that needed a home while living in NYC, I feel that this comment can be off-putting to urban pet owners like myself. Millie is small, well-exercised, and does fine in cities. In fact, there are perks of urban pet parenting, including the ability to bring your dog into stores and cafes with little trouble.

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Millie enjoyed being my errand buddy and being oogled at every step of the way. That said, since experiencing many different lifestyles (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, etc) I can say that I can tell Millie truly does appreciate a little more sniff space and greenery, and a little less traffic and sirens.

Millie seems to be enjoying where we live in JC. We’re right by a park with two dog runs and a locally owned pet store and an ice cream shop that has doggie froyo. As far as Millie is concerned, this set-up ain’t too shabby. Seeing her content makes me feel more content and settled here.

4. I like it Better Here

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Yummy fresh bread at the cutest Italian Bakery, Prato.

Ahh yup I said it. I have zero regrets moving out here. Honestly, I thought I’d regret it. So much in fact I opted for a short lease in case I found it miserable to be here. But I don’t at all. I love it! It has its downsides but after 5 years as a Manhattan dweller, I love this change of pace and scenery. It’s also been fun to explore and become familiar with a new place/mini culture. Every day I get off the PATH and am thankful for my new digs.

5. You Get More for Your Money

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Jersey City isn’t cheap. I won’t sugar coat that. But to be fair, at this point, nothing within an hour or so of nyc is cheap. Heck, Hoboken is now as posh as the west village. So rent prices aren’t that much lower. That said, you get a heck of a lot more for your money. More space, more amenities, newer buildings, etc. I’d be willing to bet my apartment would be at the very least a solid G more in Manhattan. So if I’m gonna pay an arm and a leg on rent, I’d much rather do it for a nicer, newer, safe building in JC than a run-down craphole in Manhattan with a slumlord landlord.

6. I’m Having Fun Exploring a New-To-Me-Place

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even though the program I was involved in in Minnesota wasn’t for me, I found living in another place much more exciting than I had expected. I felt the same way after spending several weeks in Denver last winter/spring.

After flopping between Wisconsin and Manhattan my whole life, I now find it inspiring and good for personal growth to live in other places. JC is a whole new set of shops, restaurants, and cultural norms I’m getting to know and love. And to me, that’s a cool experience.

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Dairy-free Cookie Butter Ice Cream at Milk Sugar Love

So far I’ve found some barre studios I like (J.C. Barre and Jane Do), some yummy coffee shops/cafes (Prato Bakery, Milk Sugar Love, etc), and frequently walk through the mall as part of my commute, which has everything from the Body Shop to Flying Tiger Coppeghangon to Gregory’s Coffee to Just Salads (and we all know my weird obsession with Just Salads).

There’s also a lot of cool street art to look at, which is fun.

7. There’s a Non-Cluster-Fuck Target.

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For the first several years of living in New York City, there were only two Targets: one in Harlem, and one in Brooklyn (neither of which were close to me). Now there are a few more. But the problem with NYC Targets is that they are literal giant clusterfucks of hell.

You know that relaxing vibe you get spacing out in Target, wondering the spacious well-light aisles? Yeah, no. Not the reality in NYC. In NYC Target runs are more like battling your way through crowds for toiletries, standing in long lines to check out, lugging all your crap home by hand, and needing a Xanax after the whole thing is said and done.

The prices in NYC Target are also (slightly) marked up. Boo.

In Jersey City, there is a non-cluster-fuck Target. More like a normal Target. Less crowded, more ability to space out, more stuff at lower costs. Still no car. But ya know. I’ll still take it.

The Not-So-Good:

1. The Grocery Stores Aren’t Great

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There are a few places to get groceries, but no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Boo. These places are easy enough to hit up on my commute home if I just pop on and off trains, so I do that and shop at the local stores and get by.

The local stores are okay and sometimes have really good sales which is fun, and the one by me has plantains 3/$1 which I have been really enjoying, but overall I would still love me a TJs….I’m considering buying a bike so I can venture to the one in Hoboken.

2. The Commute

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Honestly I don’t mind commuting as much as I thought I would. Literally I just sit on the express train and read or study or close my eyes.

There are days, though, that if does ware on me, particularly after long days or on days with multiple train delays. I’m an early riser, so I don’t mind leaving obnoxiously early for class, but there are days where I leave campus and dread the fact that home is still an hour away. I usually just try to busy myself and make use of the time as best I can, even if that means just resting my eyes (which sometimes IS a good use of time between a long day and homework time).

 

3. Sometimes I wish I had a car.

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Jersey city definitely feels like a place where having a car would be ideal. In Manhattan, the thought of having a car honestly sounded incredibly stressful and unnecessary. Here I sometimes wish I had one. The public transportation into NYC is legit, but within JC it is a bit lacking.

Mostly for Target runs and to get around on weekends when public transportation isn’t the best. As mentioned above, I plan to look for a bike this spring, mostly so I can bike up to Hoboken and hit up their TJs/cafes, and to explore other parts of JC, but a car would also be nice at times. For now, dividing up my errands and lugging home my groceries will have to do!

The Not Good, Not Bad, but Different:

1. Different housing laws/regulations

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Turns out not every place on earth has as many regulations to protect renters as New York City does. Like indoor smoking bans and heat + hot water included. I went through this while living in Minnesota too. I’m sure everyone out there is like “duh, Katherine,” but it was new to me as someone who had their first several rental experiences in New York.

I managed to find a non-smoking building, but was quite nervous to pay for my own heat and hot water. I even set aside $300 to cover my first two month’s heat + hot water expenses.
When the bills came, I was presently surprised to only about $30 on two months of heat and hot water (granted, I try my best to conserve every drop of water and live on the top floor of a temperature-regulated building). So I guess there wasn’t that much to freak out about. Ya live and ya learn, ya know?

3. Different vibe between neighbors/strangers

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Perhaps this is just my experience. So far I find JCers slightly less outgoing than New Yorkers (who I firmly believe are honestly the worlds kindest people…once you get over the rushedness of many of them, you realize it’s impossible to find a more accepting, helpful, and resilient group of human beings).

I have met many nice people around but people out there generally seem less interested in each other’s lives than in New York. I know who my neighbors are (like I can recognize their faces) but many have zero interest in knowing me personally. In New York I always knew and often bonded with my neighbors as well as local shop owners. I also felt similarly about living in Minnesota. Perhaps New York is just an overly outgoing place to live. It’s fine, just something to adjust to.

Overall:

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Overall, I have no regrets moving out here. I’m really enjoying exploring my new home, and the separation from the city has been so good in terms of my resentful attitude towards it.

Now when I’m NYC, I can appreciate it, and look forward to my quiet little slice of heaven home in Jersey.