In which I walk around the couch a lot and try to eat healthier (also, Chinese!)

So, as it turns out, working from home when it’s freezing cold outside is pretty nice. :D

Unfortunately, this pleasant new development also results in me not getting much in the way of exercise, so I’ve had to improvise. In my previous job, I was both incredibly stressed and receiving a crapton of exercise (lifting children, chasing children, chasing and lifting children at the same time, etc.), and this led me to achieve a quite low weight and the general wan look of someone dying of the plague. While I am pleased to no longer have the plague, it would be nice to achieve some sort of middle ground here, hence my **NEW HEALTH RESOLUTION** (TM).

Yes, friends, every day after my morning lessons, I have been…


While this may not sound like a revolutionary health resolution, given the shoebox-like size of my apartment and the eyelash-freezing temps outside, it’s turned out to be quite a good method of exercise. I downloaded a step counter app on my phone, and my general routine is to turn on a vegan documentary or health talk on YouTube and then walk around my apartment at varying speeds while the cats race around in front of me, confused but also at least getting their own exercise in the process.

It’s been going pretty well, and I managed to hit 10,000 steps both yesterday and the day before. I’ve also, as a result of all these documentaries, been reassessing the quality of the food I eat, and have been transitioning away from Junk Food Vegan to Hopefully A Bit Healthier Vegan. My diet wasn’t terrible to begin with, but I frequently overuse salt, oil, and sugar, and…yeahhh, I should probably not do that.

Cutting out/reducing sugar has been the hardest, so I’ve been making a lot of juices in my blender – water + fruit, essentially (this is what juice is, for those who were blissfully unaware of the process) – and experimenting with the use of dates to sweeten things, a practice made possible by the fact that Aldi now carries dates. :D

I’ve also been studying the absolute beginner basics of Chinese, because I’m teaching Chinese kids and it would be nice to have some vague sense of what they’re muttering to themselves during our lessons. Is it, “Teacher, you are the best ever and I love you dearly?” Further studies will reveal the truth, I assume.

I’m actually finding that Chinese isn’t as impossible as I initially thought, primarily because I’m starting out by learning the basic-basics: the four (technically five) tones, the general grammatical structure (which is quite similar to English, funnily enough), and the basic pronunciation rules. I still know barely anything at all, but what I am learning is actually making sense, and that’s something I didn’t expect.

So, yes. My free time these days is occupied by cooking, eating, watching documentaries, learning Chinese, and walking around my couch. Just your typical day in the life of a stay-at-home cat parent and ESL teacher. And, of course, I’ve allowed for a great deal of Cat Snuggle Time, because what is life without snuggles? Tis no life at all.

Interlude: Basic Chinese phrases and some whining in Japanese (and English!)

INTERLUDE! In which I demonstrate some truly awful Chinese and a brief whining tantrum in both Japanese and English.

Also, to give this the authentic feel of a Chinese film badly dubbed into English, I have arranged for my video editing program to randomly refuse to sync my lips to my words. So very much to enjoy in this video…!

VEGAN VLOG 22: Thanksgiving rebound, deformed spring rolls, and an abused tree

In which I discuss the ravages days of Thanksgiving food has wreaked upon my stomach and the methods I’ve undertaken to reverse the horror. Also, there is some discussion of fruit juice, giant salads, cauliflower-related injuries, and deformed spring rolls, plus a bonus ramble regarding my hair. Enjoy. :P

Vegan Vlog 21: Vegan Thanksgiving, The Good Place, and Darla vs. the Christmas Tree

Today, I discuss such riveting topics as my failures at time management in online ESL lessons, what I ate for Thanksgiving, queer representation (or lack thereof) on “The Good Place,” and Darla’s new gnawing target, the Christmas tree. Also, I talk about grocery shopping, because I work from home now and grocery shopping is apparently a major highlight of any day.

Bonus (?): Photos of my Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner~~

Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Roast, cooked up in the oven with veggies and veggie broth.
Ma meal: Salad, stuffing, corn, roasted veg, turkey-less loaf, baked potato, and cranberry sauce.


Pumpkin pie mush with runny coconut whipped cream. :D

VEGAN VLOG 20: How to burn your homemade granola

Part I: The hopeful beginning, when I still suspect something edible may come out of this experiment.

Part II: Reality comes crashing down on our intrepid young (?) baking hero as she looks in horror at the Uncle Owen/Aunt Beru situation in her oven.

Oh, well. I ate the carrot sticks (along with some Trisuits and yellow bell peppers) with the remainder of my tofu nacho cheese spread, and that made for an excellent, non-burnt morning snack. Darla, on the other hand, promptly leapt up onto the stove and ate the blackened granola with great relish, because she is Darla.

VEGAN VLOG 19: Homemade Cashew Milk, Thanksgiving, and Darla Eats It All

In which laziness leads to my making homemade cashew milk, I reveal my true feelings on the presence of peanuts in muesli, and Darla tries to eat everything in sight, including a used tissue and a soggy tea bag. Also, there is **natural light!** Though now, less than an hour later, the sky has gone gray and disgusting again, so…thanks for that false hope, Chicago. Thanks.


In which I make vegan Doritos and a Smoothie of Amazingness (ooh)

Given that there was nothing left in my vegetable crisper but kale and purple cabbage, I thought today might be a good day to actually leave my apartment and go to the grocery store. I trudged through the obnoxious Chicago cold (which isn’t even all that cold by Chicago standards) and packed my shopping basket full of veggies and vegan goodies, then trekked back with my shoulders weighed down by All the Things.

I’ve been wanting to try a vegan Dorito recipe for a while, and today I finally managed to get some corn tortillas and give it a try. Here’s the recipe, for those who are interested: Healthy, Dairy-Free Nacho Cheese Doritos

If you can’t be bothered to click (and let’s face it, this blog is a pretty awesome place, so I understand why you wouldn’t want to leave), you essentially stack up some corn tortillas and cut them, pizza-like, into Dorito-ish triangles. Next, you whip up a spice mix that involves nutritional yeast, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, and salt (and garlic powder and onion powder, though I omitted those and the chips still tasted amazing) and either mix them with oil or just coat the tortillas with oil and sprinkle on the seasoning. I did the latter, first spraying on olive oil and then, when the olive oil canister gave up the olivey ghost, using regular liquid olive oil and spreading it on the chips with a paper towel.

After that, you bake your seasoned tortilla bits at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for three or four minutes on each side, and bam, delicious chips.

I decided to take mine an additional step and make nachos out of them, so I added a bunch of random vegetables – tomatoes, green peppers, the aforementioned purple cabbage, and black olives. I also took the last of the seasoning and put it in the food processor with firm tofu and some vegan mayo, and that served as the basis of a “cheese” of sorts to spread over the chips.

Now, the chips themselves didn’t end up all that crispy – they came out a bit chewy, actually – so I probably either didn’t bake them for long enough or didn’t flip them well enough. Whatever the case, I can at least confirm that the seasoning absolutely does taste like the probably-actual-crack they put on real Doritos. It made for seriously delicious chips, very flavorful and naughty-tasting without actually being naughty, which of course is what we strive for in all things food-related.


For dessert, rather than making yet another mug cake (I may need an intervention on that front, actually), I took advantage of having fresh fruit and veg in the house and made a Chocolate Banana Avocado smoothie, which essentially contains all the things I just listed (half a banana, half an avocado, cocoa powder) + soy milk and a healthy squeeze of agave nectar for sweetness. I found a lovely little can of “Coconut Whipping Cream” at the grocery store, so I followed the directions (refrigerate the can overnight, then scoop out the coconut cream and mix with a hand mixer for three minutes) and glopped a ton of the stuff into my smoothie.

And yeah, that was pretty much amazing. I highly recommend the coconut whipped cream + anything chocolatey and sweet, because…yeah. Deeelicious.

Reviewing the things I ate today, I feel like I ate some extremely delicious stuff, but nothing was really unhealthy at all. A light spritz of olive oil on the chips, a little salt in the Dorito seasoning, and a small amount of sugar in the coconut whipped cream. I had lots of veggies and fruit, and even the corn tortillas were baked, not fried, so I’m feeling pretty good about my culinary creations overall.

Of course, I’m also very full and wanting to take a nap with the cats, but that’s just part of my life these days, it would seem.



VEGAN VLOG 18: Sadness in the Japanese Food Court and a review of the Beyond Burger

In which I venture to the Japanese supermarket and experience Great Sadness, then discover a wealth of vegan items closer to home + try the Beyond Burger. Also, miso ramen and vegan tonkatsu! Kind of.