Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars

Today I was craving some comfort. The past few weeks I’ve felt uneasy, and I can’ quite figure out why.

Easy Vegan Almond Butter Strawberry Seed Jam Bars with Crumb Topping

Perhaps it’s a combination of stress of an 18-credit graduate school load, figuring out my summer practicum, some pressing family issues, or the mundaneness I sometimes feel after working on something (whether it be school work, work work, projects, or applications for practicums) from morning til evening with little relief.

Once I cross one thing off my list, it seems, 6 more pop up.

VEGAN Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal crumb bars

Yesterday I took a break and got brunch at Mathew’s with my good friend Raag. The outing provided not only a delicious meal and good conversation, but a much needed break, some peace of mind, and a fleeting moment or two of comfort.

But today, I was back on the grind. And today, comfort came in the form of Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars.

Vegan Strawberry Chia Jam

I love a sweet but not-too-sweet breakfasty nibble, filled with oats, nut butters, and sometimes fruit to snack on in the afternoon with tea and to have to pack for snacks during the school week.

I wanted something with a soft bottom, a yummy fruity center, and a scrumptious oatmeal crumb topping. Crumb toppings are one life’s finest pleasures, as far as I’m concerned.

Almond Butter Strawberry Chia Seed Jam Bars Spread 2

I was trying to decide what to bake when I remembered the clearance frozen strawberries I purchased at the store yesterday, and the idea for a Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Bar with an oatmeal crumb topping came to me. And just like that, I knew I had to make some.

Easy Cegan Almond Butter Strawberry Seed Jam Bars + Crumb Topping

So I set down my laptop, turned on some YouTube (currently obsessed with Buzzfeed’s Worth It), turned off the universe, and got to baking.

Vegan Gluten-free Almond Butter Strawberry Chia Seed Jam Bars**

Few things provide me with such consistent mental release as baking does. I crave creating, and baking is a low-pressure low-stakes way to allow the creative juices to flow.

Because I adore the chewiness and flavor of oat flour, I used it to I made the bottom layer. You can substitute your favorite flour in it’s place, with varied results, if desired.

Easy Vegan Almond Butter Strawberry Chia Seed Jam Bars*

The middle layer was a play on this Easy Homemade Chia Seed Jam, swapping blueberries for strawberries, but you can use whatever fruit you’d like.

The top is a classic cinnamon oatmeal crumb topping, swapping butter with almond butter for an extra nutty scrumptious taste.

vegan strawberry crumb bars with almond butter

All together these Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars are a perfectly easy, scrumptious, nutritious nutty and chewy delight.

I hope you make these and I hope you love them! If you do make them, let me know in the comments below or on Insta (@katherinebaker4@)! I love hearing from you.

Delicious Vegan Almond Butter Strawberry Chia Seed Jam Bars

Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 12-inch square pan

Ingredients – Soft Bottom Layer:

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut or brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or other nondairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients – Chia Jam Center:

Ingredients – Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • dash of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare a 9×9 inch pan by greasing generously or lining the pan with parchment paper.
  3. Prepare strawberry jam by thawing frozen berries, and mashing with a fork. Add chia seeds and stir, and allow to thicken for at least 10-15 minutes. If non-chunky jam is desired, process in food processor or blender until smooth.
  4. Mix oat flour, baking soda, sugar, almond butter, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Press into prepared dish.
  5. Spread jam over bottom layer.
  6. Place bars in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare topping. Combine oats, oat flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Mix well. Add almond butter and use a fork fingers to form small crumbs or lumps within the oat mixture
  8. Open oven and sprinkle oat crumble over the jam layer and continue to bake an addition 10-15 minutes until golden and a fork or knife inserted in the center of the bars comes out clean upon removal.
  9. Enjoy! Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Better yet, store in the freezer and thaw or warm in microwave for 30 seconds before enjoying.

 

 

What You Need To Know about Vitamin B-12, Especially if You’re Vegan

It’s funny. When people find out you’re vegan or vegetarian, suddenly everyone and their mother becomes your nutritionist, wondering if you get enough protein, if you take supplements and get enough Vitamin B-12, and if you’re malnourished and falling over yet, etc.

No one bats at eye or comments at people who sustain themselves off pizza, burgers, fries, and chips, but so many feel entitled to scrutinize the nutrient-content of plant-based diets.

But I digress. This post is about the main nutrient of concern for vegetarians and vegans. No, it’s not protein (which in fact, most people over-consume). It’s Vitamin B-12. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, have chronic bowel issues, and/or are over the age of 50, you should assess and consider if you are getting enough vitamin B-12.

nutritional yeast

I don’t very often flex my MS in nutrition muscles on the blog. I always intend to, but I find my brain so exhausted of academic/science writing from school that much of the time the blog is filled with recipe and lifestyle posts because those are fun and relaxing to write.

But I really do want to make an effort to communicate more nutrition info here on kbaked.com. Let me know if you like this kind of content and/or what other topics you’d like to see covered! Without further adieu…here’s what you need to know about Vitamin B-12.

What is Vitamin B-12?

Vitamin B-12 (also known as cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin and was the last vitamin discovered. It’s found in various forms, including cyanocobalamin (often found in supplements and fortified food), as well as methylcoablamin (a methylated form) found in animal products.

Cyanocobalamin needs to me methylated for your body to make use of it. Both are well-absorbed, and it’s currently unknown if there’s a “better” or more bioavailable form to consume.

Why is Vitamin B-12 important?

Vitamin B-12 is an essential micronutrient (meaning you can’t make it, you have to get it from the diet) responsible for many vital functions in the human body.

Vitamin B-12 is necessary for proper DNA synthesis, formation of red blood cells, and neurological function.

Vitamin B-12 acts as a cofactor for methionine (an amino acid) synthase, which catalyzes the conversion of homocyestine to methionine. This is important for a few reasons.

First, high levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. The exact reason for this association (notice the word association, not causal relationship) is unclear. But it is well observed.

Second, the formation of methionine is important, as it is required for the formation of S-adenosylmethione (or SAM), which is considered a universal methyl-donor for a multitude of substrates, including DNA, RNA, proteins, hormones, and lipids.

How is Vitamin B-12 absorbed?

Vitamin B-12 absorption, like many things in nutrition, is a highly complex, intricate process. Vitamin B-12 found in foods is bound to protein, and needs to be released by hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach. Vitamin B-12 in supplement form does not require this separation.

Next, free vitamin B-12 must combine with intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein secreted by the stomach’s parietal cells. The intrinsic factor-vitamin B-12 complex can then travel to the small intestine. Most absorption of B-12 occurs in the distal ileum (aka further part of your small intestine) via receptor mediated endocytosis. Some is also absorbed by passive diffusion.

There’s a limit to how much can be absorbed at once. Usually no more than 1.5 micrograms per 5-50 microgram absorption can be absorbed from a single dose. Disorders that limit the amount of intrinsic factor can also limit B-12 absorption.

What are symptoms of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency?

Symptoms of Vitamin B-12 can seem vague or non-descript. For example, many people with Vitamin B-12 deficiency may experience  weakness, fatigue, lightheadness, pale skin, pale skin, diarrhea or constipation, tingling or numbness (especially in hands and feet), depression, memory loss, behavioral changes, depression, and vision loss.

Many of these symptoms are also symptoms of other conditions, so detecting Vitamin B-12 deficiency can be difficult without a test.

These symptoms may arise months or years after low B-12 consumption. It was formerly believed that vitamin B-12 could be stored in the liver for up to 20 years, but the scientific opinion on this is changing, and many believe it to be far less time. Some estimate 10 years, while others estimate 2.

For now, the exact amount of time between inadequate B-12 consumption and signs and symptoms of deficiency is unknown, but if you’d like my personal opinion I believe it is far less than 2-20 years and that it varies greatly between individuals.

The point is, you may go vegan and not notice symptoms right away. But do not ignore these symptoms if they begin to creep up, especially if you’ve been neglecting monitoring your B-12 intake!

Who is at Risk for Vitamin B-12 Deficiency?

Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and people who don’t eat a lot of meat should all monitor their Vitamin B-12 intake.

But it’s not just vegetarians and vegans who are at risk. Because Vitamin B-12 relies on proper function of intestines and stomach for absorption, those with stomach and/or intestine distress may be at risk for Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Individuals with IBD, Chron’s disease, IBS-D, atrophic gastrtis, celiac’s disease, parasite infection, and/or intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Additionally, individuals who take proton-pump inhibiting medications (often taken for acid reflux/heartburn) may be at risk, as these medications can decrease acid produced in the stomach, which is essential for B-12 absorption.

Exposure to nitric oxide (aka laughing gas) at the dentist can also halt B-12 absorption and multiple exposures can lead to deficiency.

Interestingly, high levels of serum folic acid can make B-12 deficiency. As folic acid fortification is mandatory in the United States, some scientists find this is an area of increasing concern. In fact, some are calling for a reassessment of the folate fortification level, and/or an addition of a B-12 fortification.

With age, the body is less and less able to absorb Vitamin B-12. According to national dietary surveys and blood level tests, 10-15% of the elderly population in the United States is B-12 deficient. As cognition also tends to decline around this time, this is a concern.

Those with prenicious anemia are also B-12 deficient, due to an autoimmune reaction that attacks the stomach cells that make intrinsic factor necessary for B-12 absorption.

How much Vitamin B-12 do I need?

The current  recommendation dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B-12 for healthy adults is 2.4 micrograms per day. That’s a teeny tiny amount.

Pregnant women are advised to consume 2.6 micrograms, while breastfeeding women should consume a recommended 2.8 micrograms each day.

What foods contain Vitamin B-12?

Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in animal products, including fish, meat, eggs, poultry, milk, milk products, algae products, nutritional yeast select fortified breakfast cereals, and other fortified foods.

Clams and beef liver, in particular, are very rich in Vitamin B-12, with 84.1 micrograms and 70.7 micrograms per 3 ounce portion, respectively.

Trout, salmon, and tuna can also be good sources of Vitamin B-12, each with over 100% of the RDA per 3 ounce serving.

A single egg contains 0.6 micrograms of Vitamin B-12, however, due to some of the proteins found in egg, much of the B-12 found in eggs isn’t well-absorbed.

Milk contains about 1.2 micrograms per cup, while chicken contains 0.3 micrograms per 3 ounce portion.

Some breakfast cereals, plant-based milks, and vegan condiments like nutritional yeast are also fortified with Vitamin B-12 (see section, below).

What are vegan sources of Vitamin B-12?

Vegan sources of naturally occurring Vitamin B-12 are few and far between. Certain types of algae are known to contain Vitamin B-12, and some studies have found these are well absorbed when taken in supplement form, but there is debate on whether or not algae foods alone can provide enough B-12 in one’s diet.

Outside of algae, vegans need to rely on fortified foods to reach their B-12 requirements. Below is a list of vegan Vitamin B-12 containing foods:

  1. Total Cereal: 100% RDA per 3/4 cup serving
  2. Silk Soymilk : 50% DV per 1 cup serving
  3. Marmite: 0.5 micgrograms / 15% DV per 35 gram serving
  4. Trader Joe’s Original Coconut Milk (the refrigerated one in the carton): 50% per 1 cup serving
  5. Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast: 40% per 1 tablespoon serving
  6. Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast: 130% per 1 tablespoon serving
  7. Malt-O-Meal High Fiber Bran Flakes:
  8. Kellogg’s All Bran Cereal: 100% per 1/2 cup serving
  9. Cheerios: 25% per 1 cup serving
  10. Kellogg’s Special K Cereal: 50% per 3/4 cup serving
  11. Nasoya Tofu Plus: 20% DV RDA per 3 ounce serving
  12. Corn Flakes: 15% per 1 cup serving
  13. Tempeh: amounts vary; the viability of tempeh-produced vitamin B-12 is, however, debated in literature and it is generally agreed that this should not be an individual’s primarily source

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s simply meant to give you a few ideas next time you’re at the store, and/or inspire you to check products/compare brands of similar products. If you find any B-12 gems out there, let me know in the comments!

Also, none of these are affiliate links. I do not generally sponsor posts and am always 100% transparent when I do, as I want to instill trust in my readers.

Should I take a Vitamin B-12 supplement?

If you don’t eat fortified foods daily, I would suggest vegans, vegetarians, the elderly. those with malabsorption issues, adding a Vitamin B-12 supplement to your diet.

Importantly, many supplements come in mega-doses.According to the IOM, there is no known adverse outcomes associated with over-consumption of B-12.

Still, there’s no need to take a pill that gives you 50000% RDA Vitamin B-12 per day. You can easily halve or quarter supplements to not only meet your needs, and extend the life of your supplement bottle in the process.

Some supplements contain animal-derived sources of Vitamin B-12 and/or gelatin (usually the gummy varieties). Certain brands are vegan-friendly, and their packaging will usually let you know. If you’re concerned, I suggest searching on Amazon for vegan-specific vitamins.

Long Story Short:

You’re not invincible. Pay attention to your B-12 intact if you are plant-based or not a big meat eater or have digestive health issues! Supplementation can’t hurt.

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.

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 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. 🙂

Columbia Mailman Orientation +Vegan Eats in NYC

Oy! It was orientation week. I thought I’d blog through a wee bit of the past week for ya, in case any of you are interested.

Saturday + Sunday

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I flew into NYC early Saturday morning, and got straight to apartment hunting. Apartment hunting in New York City is among the worst activities one can put oneself through on earth. Anyone who has done it can vouch – it is literally the most ridiculous, stressful, and upsetting processes of all times.

I ran around the city all day, ate a bunch of snacks (apples, bananas, nuts, nut butter packets, chocolate covered nuts, etc) and eventually grabbed Just Salads for dinner. I have a weird obsession with Just Salad.

 

Everyone I know prefers sweetgreens. But I’m a Just Salads gal FO LYFE. I got kale + romaine mixed, double roasted sweet potatoes, apples, chickpeas, organic roasted tofu, beets, and jicama, with a side of each spicy avocado dressing and agave mustard dressing. And bread, because bread.

I passed out, and did the whole damn exact same thing the next day. And repeated dinner. Good times.

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Monday

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Monday was day one of orientation. Lunch was a buffet style of yummy food. The quinoa salad had chickpeas, cranberries, herbs, and a lemony (I think?) dressing. Wrap was white bean dip and grilled veggies. P impressive.

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Swag:

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There was also a reception that night with lots of appetizers and snacks. I made a plate of fruit, crackers, nutty bread, guac, hummus, and nuts. Yum.  I was pretty impressed by the food selection at Mailman. They did a good job of providing healthy, yummy, filling options. Bravo!

I had a bad day that day for personal reasons. Really bad day. My anxiety is out of frickin’ control. I found out some icky stuff about my mom’s health issues, and was rejected from an apartment, because as a student in NYC, you need a guarantor who makes 64-80 times the annual rent to co-sign your lease. My mom was rejected, because she can’t provide proof of employment (since she doesn’t work since she is disabled). I found this frustrating; I understand that renters want to be sure rent will be paid, but I find this is also somewhat discriminatory. So if you aren’t wealthy or know someone who is, you can’t get a place? #annoying.

I ended up at my friend’s place in Brooklyn late that night, where I ate a banana with peanut butter and some of his leftover kale salad. And a bunch of chocolate. And went to bed.

Tuesday

Tuesday was day 2 of orientation. I’m bad at orientations. We got boxed lunches (I went with that day’s vegan option), and then we had a long 5 hour small group discussion thing on diversity and privilege. Tough conversations, etc. I was having another bad day with anxiety, and probably came off as emotionally unstable to other people since I was being overly emotional. Oh well. Just gotta move on and not obsess.

Bathroom signs at Mailman:

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For dinner, I stopped at Whole Foods out of fatigue and convenience. I got a salad with roasted sweet potatoes, lemon roasted tofu, and some vegan dumplings. I also got a ‘power’ bagel (whole wheat with cranberries and seeds) on the side because my body wanted CARBS baby. Eaten with a vegan cookie. Noms.

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Wednesday

Wednesday was another day of orientation. I had some errands to run in the morning, then headed up to Mailman. I had a hummus wrap and grapes and chips for lunch, but didn’t snap a photo. After orientation, my friend Raag made us some yummy Indian food for dinner.

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He also taught me some cooking tips. Apparently, many Indian dishes are prepared by first browning onions and tomatoes together. This was new to me. Usually, I add tomatoes much later. This was a fun new tip! He also taught me I should rinse my rice before I cook it. I was happy to learn his tips. He’s so kind, and an awesome cook!

Thursday

Thursday I ran some errands around the city and sat around like a crazy anxious person waiting to hear back about an apartment and catastrophizing my life in every way imaginable. At some point, I stopped and enjoyed an organic peach in Bryant Park.

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I swear my anxiety has been peaking this week. I have really been struggling to get through normal daily activities. I know I have to get it under control, but this week has been so busy I haven’t had time to deal with myself. I am VERY thankful to my supportive friends and aunt for being there for me this week.

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A bit later I once hit up Whole Foods for lunch. I got a Justin’s almond butter packet (on sale for $0.50 WHAT UP), another bagel (because I really enjoyed the last one, and for $1.00, it’s a lot of filling carby goodness), a banana, and some salad and hummus from the salad bar. I think the cashier rang up my order wrong, because this lunch ended up costing me $2.77 which I didn’t even notice until I looked at the receipt while eating? Okay. I’ll take it.

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My friend Caty let me come over and sit on her bed and watch dumb videos on my laptop while she went on a run with a friend. I had been pinning out at coffee shops all day but needed to like, not be sitting in real pants around humans. THANK U CATY.

We grabbed a late dinner at Peacefood, which is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC/the world. We split the Asian greens salad (with greens, jicama, tempeh, carrots, and a yummy spicy peanut dressing), and the vegan cheeseburger. Pardon the crapy pics; that place has dim *~*trendy romantic*~* lighting.

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This cheeseburger. You guys. It is my FAVORITE vegan cheeseburger on earth (and I’ve had a lot of veggie burgers in my 17+ meat-free years). It’s a house-made vegan patty with cheese, guac, pickled peppers, caramelized onions, and some sauce or something on homemade focaccia. It is messy and hearty and flavorful and delicious. LOVE.

After dinner, the Van Leeuwen truck was parked right by Peacefood. Van Leeuwen makes the most delicious, rich craft ice cream I have ever had. Their vegan base is a blend of coconut, cocoa butter, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. It is OUTSTANDING.

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I ended up with “one scoop” of vegan strawberry jam, and one scoop of vegan cookie dough.

One scoop ended up being more like a pint. And I ate it all because it was FRICKIN’ delicious. I was really glad I sampled the strawberry jam, because it was honestly one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had! And not something I would normally think to order (I tend to be a chocolate/nut ice cream over fruit kinda gal).

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But it had a rich base with swirls of housemate strawberry jam and pieces of biscuit that were like crunchy and sort of soft simultaneously. And the vegan cookie dough was obviously amazing, with big chunks of vegan cookie dough. My fav flavor there is vegan banana nut, which tastes likes straight up banana bread, but they didn’t have it at the truck. Which probably turned out for the better, since I tried the strawberry!

We ate in Union Square Park, then headed back to BK. I went to bed at my friend’s apartment, and she went out with some friends.

Regarding the large amount of ice cream…I DEFINITELY ate past the point of fullness. In fact, I felt a little TOO full about 30 minutes later. I inhaled it because I think I really needed a good meal after so much walking the previous few days, but the stuff is soooo rich I think I overate beyond my needs. Yes, I was a bit uncomfortably full. But you know what? You live and you learn. Yup, I probably inhaled like, a day’s worth of calories in the form of vegan ice cream in like, 2 minutes, but it is NOT worth obsessing over. I went to bed with a very full tummy and decided to slow down on my ice cream inhalation next time (also, usually they don’t give me THAT much, even when I order two scoops instead of one…I think the guy just was feeling generous).

Friday

Friday I woke up early, went on a run (hadn’t exercised besides walking all week and figured it may do my anxiety some good), showered, and got brunch with Caty and one of her friends.


She called me around 10:40am asking if I wanted to go to Champs, which is a vegan diner. I was bummed I had LITERALLY just finished a bagel with nut butter and banana and wasn’t super hungry but decided to go anyway. I’m glad I did.

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Since I wasn’t super hungry I got a pancake with berries. And syrup. Champs was fun. It’s like an old school diner with classic diner entrees, but all vegan. And with fun art.

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The pancake was yummy. Tasted like a straight up diner pancake, if that makes sense. Like that unique, griddle-cooked taste.

After that, I spontaneously booked a plane ticket for that night and decided to head home for the long weekend, since I learned the apartment I was approved for wouldn’t let me move in until Thursday, and I was quite frankly in need of some real sleep on a bed (not a couch) and some alone time.

I’m quite the introvert, and not having any personal space, especially during an orientation week, makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I literally often feel like I need to be alone and calm down to get back to baseline when I’m overwhelmed with anxiety, and having no place to just sit and be by myself has increased my stress, anxiety, and panic.

Also, I MISSED MY FRICKIN’ DOG who has been in Wisconsin until I’m settled with a place.

Thanks for reading! Sorry I’ve been absent this week. Haven’t been in the headspace to blog. But feel much calmer home and with my doggo and with a good night’s sleep in me.

Can any introverts out there relate to feeling super overwhelmed when you don’t have your own space? Any tips for crippling anxiety? Let me know and stay #blessed!

Announcement: I’m Now On YouTube!

Hey there! Back from a crazy whirlwind 5-week teaching gig that came out of no where and swept me by my feet, followed by a fun-filled 5 day adventure vacation in San Francisco.

I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated and out of sorts since returning from my trip. This sort of drove me crazy for a few days, but instead of judging my feelings I decided to sit with them, let them pass, and be gentle with myself and allow a few days to get my shit back together.

I’m going to do a little recap on SF on the blog, but I thought I’d have a post to share that I’m now on YouTubeI’m now on YouTube. Check it out here!

I’m new to the ‘Tube but am excited to play around with it. Requests for vids? LMK! Right now it’s super amateur but I’m hoping that with a few weeks of free time before I gear back up for school to just kinda mess around.

Give me your feedback!!

-Kbakes