Recipes · Veganism

Easy Banana-Almond Butter Granola Bites

The weather in Northeast Pennsylvania has been all but predictable lately. With back-to-back Nor-easters, it’s easy to imagine that everyone gets sent into a panic about what the impending storm will bring. Due to fears of heavy and consistent snow, I got a snow day from work today, which gave me a lot of free time to catch up on some much needed cleaning I needed to do around my apartment. Once that was finished, and my GRE studying was complete too, I was at a loss for what to do with myself.

I really needed to use up one lone, over-ripe banana. I knew that one banana would not be enough for banana bread, and besides, I have given up bread for Lent, so that was out. I purused on Pinterest, but couldn’t find anything that really peaked my interest, so I decided to try a recipe of my own. The result was tasty, crispy, granola bites loaded with almond butter, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and banana. So if you have a banana laying around and aren’t quite sure what to do with it, why not give these quick and simple granola bites a try?



  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 over-ripe banana
  • 1/4 almond butter or nut butter of your choice
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • Other nuts and seeds of your choice


  • While pre-heating oven to 350, toast oats on the stove over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring and flipping often
  • Mash banana in a small mixing bowl until well-mashed and no lumps remain and add almond butter
  • Pour warmed, toasted oats into the almond butter and banana mixture and stir until well combined
  • Sprinkle in flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and any additional seeds you want to add! I just used whatever was available in my pantry
  • Form into patties in a small muffin tray and bake for 12 minutes


This recipe is really so simple, yet so delicious. It can also be customized with whatever nuts, seeds, or spices you have in your cabinet. Next time I make this, I may try adding in some shaved apple and cinnamon! Let me know in the comments if you tried this recipe, what you think, and how you made it your own!


Lifestyle · Reflections · Veganism

A Healthier Relationship: How Eating a Plant-Based Diet Changed My Relationship with Food


Food. It’s such an integral part of our life. Without it, we could not survive, but it seems that the excess of food, along with what we are eating, is doing far more harm than good. Obesity is at an all-time high. Many people struggle with eating disorders. And that’s just the beginning.

Growing up, I realize I did not have the best eating habits. I ate a lot of junk food. I’ve always loved sweets, but I also enjoyed chips, pretzels, and anything with cheese. Fast food was a normal part of my life. My Grammy would take my brother and I to Wendy’s. My Nana would take us to McDonald’s. It was just what we did. And for a while, that was fine. I played soccer most of the year, so I spent a lot of time running around. When I got to high school, I played in the fall and the spring. In the winter, I participated in indoor track. So while my eating habits weren’t great (see: I ate whatever I wanted), I was able to maintain a healthy weight because I was engaging in a very active lifestyle.

Fast-forward to sophomore year and I bang up my ankle pretty badly. I stop playing sports. But you know what doesn’t stop? Eating whatever I want. Free tacos from work? Of course. Snack on some fries? Why not. Before this time, I never had to think about what I was eating because I spent 10-12 hours a week participating in sports, along with mandatory physical education classes three days a week. Now, things were different.

My senior year of high school I realized just how much weight I had gained since I stopped playing soccer and I began to feel really bad about myself. So I did what any 18-year-old who doesn’t have a good sense of healthy eating habits would do and I restricted myself to 800 calories a day. In retrospect, I realize that this was incredibly unhealthy both to my body and my mental health. I only ate Special K and Lean Cuisine. For three months. I lost a lot of weight, but I also was hungry all the time. Teachers made comments to me about how quickly I was losing weight. I didn’t eat cake, chips, or even pretzels at any of the birthday parties I attended that spring. By graduation, I had lost 30 pounds, but something in my head clicked that this weight was not sustainable. I hadn’t weighed that much since I was in fourth grade and 4’7″. It wasn’t going to last, and I recognized that. Gaining five pounds would have been fine with me. But my senior year of college, I had put back on the 30 pounds and then some.


My eating habits never leveled out. I still went from eating incredibly restrictive diets to eating anything I wanted. I would start exercising, and then give up when I wasn’t seeing results because as it turned out, I still wasn’t eating in a way that would make losing weight a possibility. My Achilles Heel was cheese–it always had been. And cheese, as it turns out, it very fattening and not something you should eat daily.

But this past fall, I made a very conscious decision to transition to a completely plant-based diet. I knew that veganism had a lot of benefits, like lessening my carbon footprint and reducing animal cruelty in the meat and dairy industry. What I didn’t expect was to lose weight or have my skin clear up. I also wasn’t expecting my eating habits to change as much as they did. While I still have some rough weeks of eating way too much way too often, my habits really have changed. I do a lot of my own cooking, and incorporating a lot of different veggies into my dishes has been crucial. Sure, I love spaghetti every now and then, and sometimes I get a hankering for the American Flatbread Vegan Harvest Pizza, but for the most part I am cooking homemade meals from scratch. I’ve noticed the difference in the way my clothing fits, and my energy levels. While Winter has been playing its games with me and zapping a lot of my energy, I still find I can make it through the day without that 2:30 feeling.

Perhaps the most important change that has come from this change is the fact that I no longer feel guilty after I eat. Guilty about what I ate, or how much I ate, or panicking about if something I ate was incredibly fattening and would have a negative impact on my weight. While I still try to monitor my weight, I weigh myself less frequently, because how my body feels is a much better guage for me, and I would argue that not feeling awful after I finish eating is definitely a great place to be.


Embracing Life With Less

I have always been a messy person. My entire life my bedroom floor has been littered with possessions: toys as a child, CD cases and clothing as a teenager, and now, as a young professional, the outfits I try on in the morning only to fling off immediately in order to try something else on. I always wondered why I couldn’t keep my room clean. My the cabinet under my bathroom sink is so difficult to navigate. Why I could not fit everything into my car when I moved out of my college dorm room and had to call for backup.

And then one day, while browsing the documentaries section on Netflix, I came across a film on minimalism. Minimalism has definitely been a buzzword over the past few years. Hell, even Emily Gilmore dabbled in minimalism, removing anything from her life that did not bring her joy after the passing of her husband.

I was inspired by these two young men, who spend their days traveling around the country to share the joys of minimalism with millions of Americans. But this documentary found me at the wrong time. I was out on the road, traveling for my job, and spending five nights a week at the Hampton Inn. There was no way I’d have time to really embrace minimalism. So I set it aside, and forgot about it until one day in Georgia.

I traveled to Georgia to see two old pals who I met in a hostel in Ireland. (You can read all about my travels to Georgia here!) I arrived at their beautiful, vibrant townhouse, and Mackenzie said to me, “You can have whatever you like! I’m trying minimalism.” and that’s when I was really struck by it. I saw how simple, but comfortable their home was. Her bedroom was nearly spotless, but also cozy and lived-in. That’s when I knew that the problem that had plagued me all my life was not a lack of self-discipline to put things away neatly (although that certainly doesn’t help), but owning too much stuff! So I ordered a book called The More of Less (yes, I bought something to help me own less, I recognize the irony), and set out to own less.


The first thing I tackled was my sock and underwear drawer. Getting rid of these types of textiles always plagued me with guilt. Most places do not accept donations of used socks or underwear (understandable). So instead, I’d wear these things under they no longer resembled the original product, all so I’d feel less guilty about them winding up in landfills. That’s when I discovered Planet Aid. They recycle and redistribute old clothing, even the clothing with holes and stains, even socks and underwear. When I learned that there is a Planet Aid donation bin just blocks from my apartment, I went from two drawers full of socks that could barely close to one that opens and closes with ease. I also cleaned out my pajama drawer, donating clothing I haven’t worn in months.

Another area I am trying to minimize is food. I’ve decided to challenge myself not to buy groceries, especially grains, pastas, and canned goods, until I run out of what I have in my pantry to use. I know this challenge will be a bit difficult as I follow a vegan diet and eat a lot of fresh produce. But even that I can work around. I have frozen vegetables in my freezer, canned goods in the pantry. While I prefer fresh produce, it is important to eat what I have before purchasing more.

While I am still working on my minimalist journey, I already feel rewarded. My surfaces are clearer, I don’t have excess of things I don’t need excess of, and I will be helping my future self by making my next move much more bearable. Not only that, but by choosing to live with less, I will also be taking a journey in better money management and spending my money on experiences I enjoy rather than on things that add little value to my life. Sure, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I know I will get there.


A Northern Girl Goes Down to Georgia

The summer after my junior year of college, I navigated an airport alone for my first time. I boarded an international flight alone. I got to know the woman sitting next to me and I slept. After all, it was an overnight flight. I was heading to Ireland, a place I had never been before, to spend nine days with a group of fifty strangers who all shared the same wanderlust I felt inside. On my first day in Ireland, I met my roommates. Two girls from Minnesota, a girl from Mississippi, and two girls from Georgia. And we all went from strangers, to close friends in the duration of the trip. We all swore we’d see each other again, we made a snapchat group, we had a group text, but as always, those relationships are hard to keep alive, especially when considering the distance. But while we didn’t speak nearly as much, we all knew that when it came down to it, we had all shared a wonderful experience that connected us. And I used that connection to quell the longing inside of me to travel somewhere new.

Using the Hopper App, I found a roundtrip flight to Atlanta, Georgia for $145. Yes, a roundtrip flight for $145. I was amazed. I immediately texted my former Ireland roommates and planned a trip to the South. I booked my hotel using some of my Hilton Honors Points, courtesy of my job and long fall travel season, looked up parking prices at the Philadelphia airport, and packed my very small personal bag full of just enough clothing for the weekend and a hairbrush. In that moment, I was incredibly grateful that my job taught me how to pack just the essentials.

Flying down in January, I expected that I’d be getting a break from the cold weather in Northeast Pennsylvania. And while the temperatures were warmer than NEPA, the Saturday I spent in Atlanta was only just above freezing. That did not stop me from having an amazing weekend. Here are some of the highlights of my trip:

  • Eating at Cafe Sunflower, the fanciest vegan restaurant I have ever been to.
  • Getting vegan donuts in Atlanta.
  • Playing spoons with strangers.
  • Home-cooked vegan meals.
  • Experiencing church in the South. Let me tell you, it was no Catholic mass.
  • Sliding down the concrete slide in Downtown Macon.
  • Spending time outdoors, without snow on the ground.
  • Eating southern-style comfort foods, veganized of course.
  • Drinking Guinness like we were in Ireland again.

As you can tell, I did a LOT of eating on this trip. It’s not every day I have so many vegan options available to me that I don’t create in my own kitchen. My four days in Georgia really were an amazing experience. And I am so grateful I got the chance to spend some time with my long-distance friends.


Ringing in the New Year

January 1, 2018

A new month, a new day, a new year. With the passing of each 365 days, we are reminded that once a year, we are given a symbolic new beginning, and that while every day is the chance to start anew, this one day in particular is special, being celebrated across the globe, and is a visible reminder that we can always do better and be better.

I spent New Years Eve with one of my close friends, her parents, brothers, aunts, and uncles. We ate a large and late dinner, chatted about travel, books, movies, and shared stories from our lives. It was relaxing, peaceful, and full of love. We toasted the new year with champagne, and I quickly went off to sleep on a pull-out couch, reminiscing back to my childhood in the late 90’s. This upcoming year would be a good one, because I vowed to make it so.

Each year I set not one, but many resolutions and goals for myself. It’s something I have always done. At least if I fail at one, I have others I can fall back on. Each year I set a goal for how many books I would like to read. This number changes every year and if often based on how many I read the year before. In 2017, I read all of nine books, probably the lowest number of books I’ve read in a year since before I learned how to read. So, naturally, I set the bar low for this upcoming year, and I have already finished a book of essays I began back in July about life after college. It felt great to have already accomplished something so early in the new year.

I’ve also set other resolutions: go 100% vegan, beginning today, visit at least two new states, pay off at least one credit card, journal every day, and stop scrolling through Twitter before I even get out of bed in the morning. I’d also like to prioritize my days better, create new habits and routines, volunteer more, and try new things. I know this is a lot to take on, particularly all at once, but even small changes can lead to big results. One of my best friends bought me a daily journal that has a question and a few lines to write a short response each day over the course of five years. Guided journaling makes the resolution to journal every day seem a lot more attainable. Creating routines, like reading each day before bed kills two birds with one stone. And prioritizing getting a shower over scrolling through Twitter will help me be a lot more productive in the morning. So while I have a lot of resolutions, many of them are intertwined.

So while I am optimistic that this may be the year I accomplish much of what I have set out to do, only time will tell, and I am incredibly excited to see what 2018 has to offer.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2017

I began 2017 with high hopes that it would finally be my year. I was going to graduate college, hopefully find a job I love, reclaim my personal fitness, and cultivate loving and nurturing relationships. After the whirlwind year I had in 2016, I truly believed the only way to go was up.

2016 had not been good to me. Between health problems and eight months of intense fighting before ending a long-term relationship over infidelity, it had been a rough year. Top it off with an overload of upper-level classes and increased responsibilities as a resident assistant, all while battling the demons that come along with declining mental health, and you have the recipe for a complete dumpster fire year. I really have no other way to describe it.

So when 2017 started off with my car breaking down, I felt incredibly resentful. How much more could I handle? Next came the ending of my first “serious” relationship since my break-up: one that I rushed into too quickly, developed feelings too strongly, and projected my subconscious desire to be the other half of someone else because it was all I had known for the past three years.

But then it all began an upward swing. I spent an incredible amount of time with friends (hello, Snowpocolypse), dove into my work, and vowed to enjoy my last semester of college. When I finally walked across the stage at graduation decked out in all of my regalia, Summa Cum Laude, I finally realized the culmunation of all I had achieved. I had been an active participant in my education. It was also this moment when I finally realized where my path in life was taking me: Academia. Sure, I wasn’t going to graduate school immediately in the fall, but I would get there, one way or another. It was my passion, my joy, and the thing I always took the most pride in. So when I got hired in higher education three months later, I was overjoyed. Better yet, my job allowed me to travel. I was able to visit cities I had never been to, like Baltimore and Wilmington. I also walked on the beach in early November, feeling completely at peace with where I was.

I also made other huge steps this year. I moved into my own apartment. I switched to my own cell phone plan. I began adopting a vegan diet.

So while 2017 may have been a rough start for me, I believe this year took me exactly where I needed to be. My personal growth has been astounding. The people who have lifted me up over and over again I’m sure have not failed to feel their worth to me. And maybe I can’t talk about a significant other when I attend holiday gatherings, which seems to always be a hot topic at the dinner table, but I can talk about where I see my life going, not just in the next year, but in the next five years. And I couldn’t be more excited to keep traveling down that path.


It’s All in the Journey

On October 7, I took a huge leap. I began transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. And by transition, I mean I gave up all animal products cold-turkey. I often fall victim to an “all-or-nothing” mentality, and a slow transition in which I gradually removed things from my diet seemed like an absurd idea, and in my mind, a surefire way for me to fail. So instead of cutting things out, one at a time, one week at a time, I gave up cheese, milk, eggs, etc all at once.

This past weekend I was discussing the transition with a friend after hitting my first pitfall. I ordered a Falafel gyro to go and didn’t think to tell the server no Tzaziki sauce. So there I was, faced with a choice: throw away the entire gyro, or eat it and learn from my mistake. I know there will be people who scorn me for my decision to eat the gyro, but I still consider where I am in my journey to veganism a transitional stage, so I tried not to be so hard on myself. Now I know for next time.

But that’s not where I was going with that anecdote. After we were finished eating and heading back to my apartment on this particularly glum Sunday I expressed how just because I have given up certain foods doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I still crave honey BBQ boneless wings from Applebees, and cheese has always been one of my favorite foods. Sure, there are vegan ways to prepare these foods, but my job requires me to travel six days a week, and very few restaurants in the areas I’m traveling offer these types of vegan cuisine. So instead, I make do with endless Panera salads and burrito bowls full of rice, beans, and guacamole. And when I’m eating those foods, I feel great. They taste amazing and I love that the foods I’m eating are cruelty-free. But there are still moments when I would love to order extra queso on my burrito.

So I guess I was right in believing that this decision to live a plant-based life would be a journey, full of ups and downs, mistakes and small victories. And while I must acknowledge my mistakes, I also have to celebrate the victories. The moment when I told the receptionist at DoubleTree I didn’t want the cookie, when I spoke up and asked for a vegan option at a college fair, and when I made the decision to drink my coffee black unless almond or soy milk was available. I’m sure I will face many more obstacles on my journey, but I’m sure that it will be full of small and large victories alike.

Lifestyle · Uncategorized

A New Beginning: My Journey to Veganism

Wake up, breathe in, it’s a new day. On Saturday mornings I like to get up and go to the local farmer’s market, peruse from vendor to vendor, and take in the colorful bounty they have brought to share. Most weeks, I leave with a large reusable shopping tote full of fresh finds: salad greens, juicy red tomatoes, a colorful assortment of peppers, apples, peaches. Since I went vegetarian in August 2016, my diet has been primarily plant-based, but I have continued to consume dairy products, cheese being my weakness.

Yet as I continued on my journey, I found that my eating habits were not getting better, but were getting worse, a problem caused by personal decisions rather than my decisions to go vegetarian. I always had a sweet tooth, and cheesy products were hard for me to say no to. Add in the fact that I eat when I am bored or stressed, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

But this is not a story about my eating habits. This is a story about how I came to the decision to say goodbye to cheese for good and live a happy, healthy, plant-based life.

For my job, I spend most nights in hotel rooms. At least for the fall recruiting season. It’s fun and exciting: I meet new people, I see new places, I get to try new restaurants, all without spending any of my own money. But I also have many evenings free to binge-watch Netflix. Lately, I’ve begun watching every food and health based documentary available, just to see what information is floating around out there. I’ve learned quite a lot, but now is not the time to delve into all of that. Instead, I highly recommend that anyone and everyone go watch What The Health on Netflix.

So now, after a week’s worth of documentaries and many tortured thoughts about my consumption of animal products I am ready to take the plunge. I consumed my last cheesy meal, and now I am ready to move forward. For my health, for animal welfare, and for the well-being of our shared planet. I know this journey will not be easy. Making any large lifestyle change is hard, but I must hold myself accountable. So join me as I transition to a cruelty-free, happy, and plant-filled life.


Welcome to My World

Life is an adventure. I didn’t always see it that way, and some days are harder than others, but after many years of struggling to see the sunny side of things, I am finally there. With my newfound joy comes many blessings. My mind it clearer and my words come easier.

Growing up, I never saw myself as a writer. I was just a reader. I carried a book with me wherever I went, eager to turn a page, devour a story, and make countless new friends I could always turn to just by turning a page. As I grew older, I longed to be the author of the story, but I so often found that the words did not come easily and the self-doubt quickly entered my mind. I wanted to believe I was talented, but the voice in my head told me to keep my words to myself, because they may not be good enough. Instead I hid my words away in journals. Beautiful, leatherbound journals, bright hardcover books with lined pages, full of untold stories just waiting to be told. And then one day, I took my words off of my own private pages and submitted to my college’s literary journal. A daring first. I didn’t expect to even be accepted. And then, to my great surprise, I won runner-up for a prose piece.

I cast off my doubt. I found my voice.

Finding one’s voice is never easy, but I hope with this blog I am able to open up my world, share my story, and keep the words flowing, an endless stream of ideas, of something to say, and of joy.

I hope you’ll join my on my journey through my young adult life. As I navigate this great wide somewhere and find my foothold, I hope that you’ll be by my side, cheering me on, offering advice, and celebrating my victories with me.

Follow me as I head out into the world, remembering that I am young, I am carefree, and I am living.