Hi!

Oh hey there, little neglected blog! It’s been too long… though I have been busy (in my defense). Also I’m pretty sure that two people read you, and one of them is my mom.

Hi mom!

I did approximately NO cooking whatsoever in the past month. (this is how I justified not blogging? vicious circle?) However, there were a few batches of homemade protein/lara/nut&fruit bars before that. They’re ridiculously easy and pretty awesome and refined sugar free! Also not my original idea, but they can be customized to individual tastes easily.

One cup (pitted) dates + one cup dried fruit(s) + one cup nuts –> food processor.

LOOK AT ALL OF THIS DRIED FRUIT.

LOOK AT ALL OF THIS DRIED FRUIT.

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Once it’s all ground up in the food processor, just press it into a big square, refrigerate for a bit until it firms up, and cut into bars! I keep mine refrigerated or else they get mushy, but they’re delightfully sweet. And “healthy.” Right.

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Aren't they cute?! So cute. And so cheap. And so easy. Go make them.

Aren’t they cute?! So cute. And so cheap. And so easy. Go make them.

I took these lil nuggets of goodness on my many travels over the past few weeks (see! they’re portable too! are you whipping out your food processor yet?) as well as to my two jobs. Since I can tell you are dying to hear about my busy June, I am going to tell you alllllll about it.

I went to a Hunter Hayes concert with my sister who is a diehard fan- so diehard that we drove two and a half hours to Gettysburg to see him. But it was worth it because he is adorable and excellent live and it was super cheap.

Hey there, Gettysburg.

Hey there, Gettysburg.

Also I got an ENORMOUS ice cream afterward. If you are like the rest of the world and have no idea who Hunter Hayes is, you should probably hang out with fifteen year olds more often, or click here (if you’re in the mood for something sad/lovey) or here (if you are in the mood for something happy/lovey. He’s big on romance).

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The next weekend I drove up to Providence to drop my sister off at a summer “program” (it’s like camp…. but not camp? educational = call it something fancy?) at Brown.

I wish I looked this good at fifteen. I don't actually think I allowed anyone to photograph me for that entire year. It was an awkward time...

I wish I looked this good at fifteen. I don’t actually think I allowed anyone to photograph me for that entire year. It was an awkward time…

But back to those two jobs, I had an internship downtown as well as an on-campus job that ate up seriously ALL OF MY TIME. It was awesome because I was learning things and meeting new people and all of that but I came home and crashed pretty much every day after work. “Golly,” you must be thinking,”how did you survive, Kat? Isn’t summer the season that’s supposed to make up for the rest of the year’s awful-ness? What did you do for fun?!”

I shopped. My internship was about a block away from all of my favorite stores and many a lunch break were spent in their gleaming, air-conditioned interiors.

I needed an internship wardrobe, okay?

I needed an internship wardrobe, okay?

But with the end of June came my long awaited summer FREEDOM! I celebrated with a fourth of July trip to New York, where I took exactly two pictures, neither of which were of food (or the Russian karaoke bar I went to on Thursday. But that’s probably a good thing).

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And I’m back in suburban Pennsylvania for the immediate future! With no obligations whatsoever (and no paycheck…gulp) for the rest of the summer, I am looking for ways to spend my time. Any ideas? I should probably spend less time on Netflix, but with no excuse to get off the couch it’s tempting to go through the entire season of Call the Midwife in one night. Oh wait. I already did.

No, but really. Tell me what to do. Bake these nutella caramel diabetes-inducing brownies? Or this Snickers-inspired monstrosity? Are you drooling yet? Because there’s also some nutella puppy chow that caught my eye…

Feel free to comment with any ideas! Or other awesome looking baked goods! There will never be enough in my life! How is your summer going?

sad fruit, happy bread

Is it weird to give food human attributes? When fruit starts to rot, instead of just saying it’s decaying, I call it sad. As in, “what a sad bowl of bananas. Yes, I know, a few days ago they seemed questionable but now they have just given up.”

As if they are suicidal. Suicidal bananas, guys.

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There were a few frowny bananas and a slew of sorrowful strawberries taking up valuable kitchen space, so I turned them into…. happy bread!

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I followed the recipe to a T, didn’t alter a thing, but it was so tasty I felt the need to share it anyways.

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Yeah, that’s right. I dug in before I even bothered to take a picture. This is also the only evidence of a finished product because every time I thought “oh, I should put a piece on a plate like a normal person and set it on a pretty placemat and instagram it or something,” I decided that was a silly idea and ate it with my hands out of the pan. What a winner.

Alas, in the near future there will not be any banana strawberry bread for me because I am…. giving up refined sugar! Not forever, just for now. I have been meaning to do this for ages after seeing so many news stories about how it’s basically the devil incarnate. Giving it up seemed impossible and painful and really scary… which is why I thought I should probably try it. I will let you know how it’s going and I’m excited to try some healthy, nutrient dense recipes that will fit into this lifestyle. Any advice for taming my vicious sweet tooth?

I will leave you with cute animal pictures. Happy Tuesday!

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busy bee

I have procrastinated writing this for… three weeks? And so much has happened! I finished the semester, which meant a finals week of meals-that-aren’t-really-meals.

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What self-respecting human dumps garbanzo beans on a plate like that and calls it dinner? This one. That’s who.

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Couscous salad was a little bit more acceptable but still kind of a cooking cop out. Put couscous in water, wait five minutes, combine with pre-cut vegetables. Eat off the only plate I left at school after half-moving home (which I do not, by the way, recommend. Do it all at once. Trust the girl who, three weeks later, still hasn’t totally unpacked).

Then I spent an awesome, totally vegetable-free weekend at Vassar! It was beautiful and sunny and raucous.

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After which my life turned into this.

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Everyday. On repeat. Which is part of the reason I put off writing this for so long. As much as I wanted to say something, I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. It’s gotten a little bit boring around here. Plus I totally forgot to document the delicious (in my humble opinion) Mother’s Day muffins I made.

But I’m going to change this! There will be more cooking in my now fully equipped kitchen! And muffins will be recreated and photographed! And I will stop eating bread and lettuce every single day for lunch because it’s no fun anymore!

I did go on a bona fide business trip, though. To Harrisburg, capital of Pennsylvania. I’ll leave you with a pretty picture of that and the promise of some actual content in the coming days. Happy almost summer!

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coconut crazed

If you don’t like coconut, I’m sorry. Stop reading because none of the following will apply to you. Also feel free to send me any Mounds, Almond Joys, macaroons, and baklava that comes your way. I’ll eat it all.

My liking for coconut has become more of an obsession lately as I discovered, and subsequently bought an entire carton of, coconut milk.

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Now, I found it in the dairy section along with all the other milks (almond, soy, cow, etc.) so I just used it on my cereal for about a week.  Then I realized it has higher power: it’s like subtly flavored coconut heaven, lighter than ice cream or oil but still thick and creamy.

Enter tropical smoothies.

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I found a bag of frozen pineapple sitting in my freezer, conveniently waiting to be thrown into my Magic Bullet (yes, I own one. You’re probably jealous. I got it for Christmas and considering that I do not own a real blender, food processor, or, um, oven, use it to defend my culinary prowess on the daily. Get on my level) with some bananas, spinach and coconut milk.

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It was tasty. You should make one.

Despite the alleged health benefits of green smoothies, I got pretty sick this weekend. Boo. My friends supplied me with boxes of tissues, an excess of echinacea, and hours of Netflix-watching while I sniffled, but come this morning I only wanted one thing: coconut soup.

SEE?! It’s an obsession! I don’t know why, but I could not stop thinking about the coconut soup from the Indian restaurant near my house. After some online digging, I found a recipe that seemed easy, called for ingredients I already owned, and that I could adapt to suit my (veganish) needs.

I heated up some olive oil and added about a quarter cup of shredded coconut to saute.

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Added slivered almonds a few minutes later, then honey, cinnamon, and Dukkah.

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Although the online recipe called for fennel and nutmeg and other things I didn’t have, I did have Dukkah and decided to use it instead. I really like the little crunch it gave each bite. Also the label made me want to soak some toasty bread in olive oil and smother this stuff all over it. Or something.

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When that whole mess is bubbly and evenly mixed, pour in your coconut milk.

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Let it heat up (but not boil) whilst stirring, then pour into bowls and slurp! I’d say mine was about three servings but that depends on how hungry you are. I’d also point out that it’s SUPER SWEET. Much like my beloved Shere-E-Punjab coconut soup, but still. I liked dipping my toast in it but would have been overwhelmed by a huge bowl.

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I’m almost done with my carton of coconut milk, but at Trader Joe’s yesterday I noticed an entire SHELF devoted to coconut products! Can I help it that they make me so happy?

Have a splendid week!

Three Spring Salads

Apparently my complaining last week reached someone important because we’ve had three days of BEAUTIFUL weather! I might even say it’s a bit too hot (eighty five degrees in April is a lot) but I fear offending the weather gods and having it turn back.

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Spring (er, more like summer) weather can be so inspiring. No more sweet potato and hummus dinners! Put that soup pot away! Go buy a watermelon! Bring out the baguettes and strawberries- let’s have a picnic!

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Or, dare I say, eat a salad!

Salads get a bad rap. I know, I know, they can be gross and unfulfilling and leave you unsatisfied with green stuff stuck in every other tooth. Those salads suck. But THESE salads do not. They’re light enough to pair with a hefty slice of bread (if you ask me, every meal should involve bread, but that’s beside the point) without leaving you dragging. And they’re just so pretty.

 

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My (current) favorite restaurant is Sabrina’s Cafe, and my (current) favorite dish on their menu is the Field Salad- strawberries, blueberries, candied walnuts, dried apricots and goat cheese atop greens with a raspberry vinaigrette. I mean, I’ll pick it over the stuffed french toast which is really saying something.

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Here in Kat’s kitchen, we adapt and do not own fancy things like candied walnuts and oodles of expensive berries. But strawberries on a spring salad are sort of awesome and honey roasted peanuts are a close second to those walnuts. A homemade vinaigrette and some greens and we’re in business!

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So this one kind of happened by accident. I’ve been craving Mexican food but am too poor/lazy to go out to get any, so I just put Mexican staples on… everything. Including, apparently, salads! Tortilla chips (red hot blues from Garden of Eatin’ which I am addicted to), black beans, and salsa. If I were really cool I’d make my own salsa but I’m…not.

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The only meh part of this was that I found out the hard way NOT to pack it up with the tortillas in close proximity to the salsa. Soggy chips = sad Kat.

This next one needs a bit on an introduction but is supremely awesome. So. I promise there’s a point to this story.

In December, I went on a trip completely alone for the first time pretty much ever. I went to Ireland because I wanted to and I was living relatively nearby and decided why-the-hell-not.

It was so fun.

I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to, meet cool new friends, and be totally independent. I could also eat entirely vegetarian without anyone nagging me to buck up and eat a steak already (or something. It happens). On my first night I went to Cornucopia and LOVED it. So good. Please go. I had some dish that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of, but I took a picture!

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That thing in the upper right hand corner? It was this cakey thing that involved polenta and tofu and had the most amazing flavor combination: basil and coconut. I know it sounds crazy, but they’re so good together. I’ve been dreaming of it for months and decided to just go for it yesterday when I picked up these:

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See where this is going?

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Basics underneath (baby spinach, carrots, red peppah) with coconut chips and pesto on top. It’s so tasty without being heavy and leaves plenty of room for the aforementioned bread, or, like, ice cream. I definitely went to Ben and Jerry’s free cone day yesterday. Twice. Whatever.  I had salad for lunch, right?

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So go! Buy a bag of “greens” (confession: I hate that word. Yeah, they’re green. Just say kale or whatever) and a tub of berries or whatever catches your fancy. Chocolate chips + roasted coconut chips + almonds = Almond Joy salad! Anyone? No? Alright. I’ll be over here enjoying the sun…while it lasts…

Punxsutawney Phil Lied.

I always used to say spring was my favorite season. Maybe it was because, you know, I like flowers and dresses and bunnies as much as the next person (probably more when it comes to bunnies but that’s another story). I realized recently though that spring is more of an illusion than an actual season. Sixty degrees and sunny one day, frigid and windy the next. It’s deceptive and I do not approve.

So while I’d love to be celebrating all those butterflies and white thingies that fall from the trees and get stunk in your hair/eyes/general self, I am not. I am cold and so I am going to continue consuming my winter staples.

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Perhaps I should rename the blog kateatsveggiesandislazy because this is ANOTHER very lazy meal (but it’s pretty which makes it look complicated, right? right? anybody?)

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Sauteed kale beneath a heaping helping of couscous and tofu triangles. Put some hummus and hot sauce on top and we’re in business!

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It’s warm and hearty and filling but healthy so you don’t have to think twice about eating all of that half-priced Easter candy…

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Yes, I needed two bags of mini-eggs. Vegans don’t eat ANY of the above and I need to, ah, reset. Don’t I?

Chocolate and cheese are back in my life, though in a very limited manner. But a girl can be excited about her first melty, delicious, cheesy garlic bread in a couple of months.

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Or a celebrity sighting…

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I was putting my coat down in a theater this weekend and saw Hurley from LOST behind me! It was ridiculous! Creepy picture-taking was necessary.

Well, I’m off to work on my post-Easter candy, finish Scandal on netflix my thesis prospectus, and keep refreshing the weather page on my phone. Have a lovely and hopefully warm(er) week!

On labels

As of today, I’ve been vegan for nearly a month and a half. Previously, I was a vegetarian for over ten years (except for a few Italian hoagies during my middle school years. Not gonna lie.), so I didn’t anticipate a huge change by eliminating dairy and eggs from my life(style).

Boy, was I wrong.

To start, there is dairy and eggs in EVERYTHING. Most chocolate. Bread. Nutella. Granola. Noodles. It’s not impossible to find bread that’s vegan on grocery store shelves (or chocolate, otherwise we would have a serious problem) but it does require work. Similarly, most restaurants have one or two vegan options but sometimes there aren’t any. At all. Essentially, I didn’t expect eating to become such a chore.

Another thing I didn’t expect was people’s reactions. While most of my friends and family have been supportive, if not enthusiastic, about my choice, nearly everyone has asked “but… why?” My answer was simply that it was lent, I wanted to challenge myself, and, well, why not? Which led to “are you going to stay vegan when lent is over?”

In a word, no.

See, while most people accepted my decision, a lot didn’t. There were friends were were scared of my veganism and refused to eat with me. Others would just look at me and go “that’s just not normal. I would never do that.” I respect these opinions (and somewhat bizarre fears), but it hurt. I felt isolated enough trying to find food I could eat without those I loved acting like I was making a stupid choice.

My decision not to remain vegan is not only caused by the difficulty that the lifestyle entails, but also the label that comes with it. I don’t like getting nasty looks when I ask for soymilk in my coffee. I am tired of explaining my lifestyle over and over. I don’t want to be the “happy vegan” just to prove to people that vegans aren’t all weird hippy dippy dirt-eaters who have animal sanctuaries and vegetable gardens in our backyards (not that I would say no to a vegetable garden).

So although I am no longer going to call myself a vegan, I hope to continue eating 90% vegan foods. I have made healthier choices in the past weeks than ever previously before. I ate a lot more vegetables, nuts, beans, and other unprocessed foods than I was previously incorporating into my diet. I rarely feel sickeningly full and go to bed confident I got in all of my five-a-day. That being said, I missed out on a lot of great looking foods on my spring break trip and I really, really love cheese. So every once in awhile, guess what? I’m going to eat it. And brownies and cadbury mini eggs and ice cream, too.

I’m also going to try and learn from my experience and work on being more open about other people’s lifestyle choices. I don’t consider myself a racist, sexist, or homophobic person, but there are other aspects to a lifestyle that people may scorn (including decisions about what (not) to eat) and I want to be an example of open-minded thinking.

So hug a vegan today! And remember that being open-minded can really make a difference to someone else.

preparing

During the past week, there has been quite a lot of thise

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And also some of this

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I visited my friend who goes to school about twenty minutes away, and on my way back into the city I saw some pretty cool murals on the side of the tracks. I had heard about them before but never seen them myself and I was thoroughly impressed.

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Anyways, being so busy I often struggle to find the time to make edible meals and end up eating cereal and jellybeans for days at a time. Case in point:

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So I did just a little bit of preparing for the week ahead in the hopes that I can eliminate limit my cereal-based dinners.

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I started off by making a bunch of tofu for the week. As it’s my last (!!!!!) week of lent-induced veganism, I wanted to end it on a healthy note. I put this tofu in everything- salads, sandwiches, soups, I mean I’d eat it by itself if I had an unlimited supply. Just take a cube of firm tofu and slice it, press it, marinade it, sear it, and refrigerate.

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To marinade, I usually use soy vey (because it is the awesomest) but made my own this time using honey, soy sauce, and hot sauce. It was pretty tasty!

While my tofu was soaking up all of that goodness, I put together my other protein source for the week.

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Chickpeas and black beans, with some carrots and lime

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Once again, convenience is key, at least for me. No matter how much I tell myself I’ll eat a salad or make a healthy sandwich, there’s no way I’ll do it if it takes more than ten minutes.

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Sweet potato (microwaved, people. five minutes on high. none of that twenty minutes in the oven crap, it tastes the same. trust me) with hummus, veggies, and baked tofu.

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Today’s lunch! Just the baked tofu, beans, chickpeas, carrots, and some salsa over baby spinach.

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It may have taken 45 minutes to get everything together, but I now have a fridge full of ready-to-go deliciousness, and zero excuses to eat jellybeans (exclusively) for any remaining meal. Success!

birthday eats

March birthdays are… deceptive. I always assume that by the time my birthday rolls around, flowers will be budding and bunnies will be hopping around while cute families stroll along drinking iced coffee because hot coffee will be way too hot for the beautiful, sunny seventy-degree weather. In reality it looks more like this:

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So I was pleasantly surprised when last Friday was GORGEOUS!

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If you can’t tell from the view, I got in a stellar run to the art museum and took a break to look out at the city. It’s one of my favorite views.

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Birthday run tend to be the best runs.

But moving on to the food! I’ve been on a majoy hummus kick lately. I put it on/in everything. No, really. Couscous? Better with hummus.

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(also peas, carrots, onions, and hot sauce. but mostly hummus)

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Or the-greatest-thing-you’ve-never-heard-of: sweet potato and hummus. Please try it. You really won’t regret it (but when you begin investing in 6-pound bags of sweet potatoes and family-seized tubs of hummus, you know you’ve crossed to the dark side. It’s a good place to be.)

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Sigh. So good.

But all hummus aside, birthdays really rock my socks. I’ll admit one of my biggest worries with the vegan-for-lent idea was the fact that my birthday falls in the middle of it. I’ve gotta say, though, it was a pretty delicious birthday. There was brunch at Sabrina’s – tofu scramble with le bus multi grain and sweet potato fries.

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And what does one eat for dessert on one’s vegan birthday?

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An EDIBLE ARRANGEMENT. I died. So happy. But it’s hard to stick a candle in a melon, so….

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Vegan cupcakes. I died (…again). They definitely tasted different from normal cupcakes, but it was really fun to taste all of the different flavors. Who knew oatmeal cupcakes were so awesome?!

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And I got to see that cute lil face. Can I have another birthday next week?

ketchup

How have two weeks passed since I posted??!! I guess midterms, spring break, and recovering from midterms & spring break take more time than I realized. But I have a boatload of pictures to share, so here we go…

What does Kat eat the week before vacation? Salads. Lots and lots of salads.

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They definitely brightened up my dreary February days. I knew I was going away and that I wouldn’t get  that many veggies over the next week, so I decided a preventative approach was the best one.

I also decided to do some cultural research before embarking on my trip. This included an entire spotify playlist of country music (hello Kacy Musgraves, my new favorite singer) and an….Elvis!

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…sandwich, that is. Seared bananas, peanutbutter, and toast.

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Any guesses where I went? Haha, juuuuust kidding you’re about to find out!

Due to budgetary restrictions, an overwhelming desire to see more of my own country after spending a few months elsewhere, and the romantic notion of roadtripping, I embarked on a journey from Philadelphia to New Orleans (and everywhere in between!) with a few friends. The results?

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A whole lotta road

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Some really incredible Southern breakfasts

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Some really …uh… generous? hotel breakfasts

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Just about all of Mississippi

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A few streetcars

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A very tasty vegan sandwich in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (and they say you can’t be vegan in the South! Pfft!)

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A somewhat purple veggie burger in nola

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Vampires…

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Beignets!

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Ze French Quarter

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And, of course, Graceland. I assume I look grumpy because of the weather- it may have been sunny but it definitely didn’t go above 60 all week. Hmph.

Overall, I had an amazing time roving around the country in the 1996 Honda Accord. I have never eaten that much fried food, seen that many cowboy boots, or slept so little in my life but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Phew! Now that I’ve played ketchup, I’m going to do my best to be a more consistent blogger. Hope you’re all enjoying the first whiff of spring!

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