About Me

Thank you for visiting my blog! You can follow me on Twitter and Pinterest. My blog has been featured on FindingVegan, and was chosen as Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Blog of the Month (November 2011).

About Me

My name is Lauren, and I'm currently a student teacher for middle school English. I love reading and writing, figure skating, dancing, traveling, and theater. I'm a big fan of "The Office," the Harry Potter series, and anything Irish.

My personal life philosophy is always to challenge myself and set short-term goals that will benefit me in the future. I love personal growth. At the moment, much of my personal growth is targeted toward my goal of become a rockstar teacher.

In front of the Cliffs of Moher

Why Slow Foods?

I've always had a fast metabolism, so I typically ate whatever I wanted to. The only vegetable I ever ate was a potato, and the only green thing I willingly put in my mouth came from a Skittles bag. When I graduated high school, I endured a rough transition period and consequently put on a lot of weight. Once my self-esteem hit an all-time low, I decided to make an effort to take off the extra pounds.

I made some smart choices, like eliminating processed junk food (Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitidos) and choosing apples and other fruit instead. Unfortunately, I was mainly concerned with calories, and Coke Zero, Lean Cuisine, and Crystal Light were regular choices for me. Then, a series of events pushed me toward a whole foods approach: 1) Watching "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" on ABC in the fall of 2009;  2) Trying to incorporate more soluble fiber in my diet to alleviate my IBS symptoms; and 3) Watching Food, Inc. during spring break of 2010. These three things heightened my awareness of food choices and gave me the passion and commitment necessary to make some serious lifestyle changes.

I now believe wholeheartedly in the Slow Foods approach: taking the time to create, savor, and socialize around fresh, quality food in a way that nurtures the community and environment. However, I'm also learning to balance this philosophy with my limited cooking skills and tight college-student funds. I choose organic and/or local whenever possible. I also avoid fast food and most chain restaurants; I much prefer local, soup-and-sandwich joints!

Meeting Eric Schlosser; October 2011

Why Veg?

Just two years ago, I was mocking vegetarians and calling them stupid and pompous. So how did I get to this point?

After moving into my own apartment for the first time (and having my own personal kitchen!) after my sophomore year of college, I began cooking and buying my own groceries. Because I was poor and didn't know how to cook, meat rarely made it on my plate. For the first time in my life, I began accepting meatless as a suitable option.

Interestingly, at the start of my junior year of college, I began dating a vegetarian. It freaked me out at first, but I was willing to work with it. After all, I hadn't been eating much meat all summer! He told me he made the switch because Americans' extreme rates of meat consumption made us reliable on CAFOs. Had he said that he did it simply for animal rights, I might have balked, but he appealed to the environmentalist and food activist in me: he pointed out the connection between meat consumption and the environment. Even though our relationship was short-lived, he left a huge impression; my interest in vegetarianism was piqued.

Around the same time, I read Food Rules by Michael Pollan, who said the same thing, but added another aspect to the equation: he provided compelling evidence that the American diet of daily meat consumption was contributing to our country's health epidemic. So in January 2011, I decided to adopt a "flexitarian" diet, which I was going to enforce by allowing myself no more than one meal of meat a day. I generally saved meat for social occasions, and I only had it a few times a week.

In less than a year, I made the full switch. It began as a month-long trial, but it felt so "right" that I decided to stick with it. I now eat full-time vegetarian and part-time vegan. When cooking at home, I drink almond and coconut milk, use eggless recipes, and keep my cheese consumption to an absolute minimum. This is purely for health and environmental reasons. When I do use dairy and eggs, I look for organic/local options.

I love animals, but my choice to go vegetarian was more about being healthy
and taking care of the environment.

Why Teaching?

I began college as a journalism major. One day during my first semester, I strolled back from class thinking about how much I enjoyed being in school. The constant flow of information and ideas stimulated me, and the joys of learning and academic achievement enriched me in ways that nothing else could. I thought of my future life locked up in a newsroom, writing factual news articles about city council meetings in some small Midwestern town. I felt sick. The very idea of not spending each day of my life in a classroom made me miserable.

If I had the choice, I would be a professional student for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, that's not an option, so I chose the next best thing: teaching. I love how it gives me the opportunity to share my passion for language arts, have a lasting influence on the next generation, and be a strong and positive role model.

Although my teaching career is young, I can already tell it's what I was meant to do. I could not imagine pursuing any other profession! I have many professional goals, but my ultimate goal is to teach internationally. I just have to graduate college first. ;)

In Ireland :)
Favorites & Such

My favorite foods: Oatmeal, paninis, soup, fruit

My favorite ingredients: Peanut butter, lentils, flax

My least favorite ingredients: Tomatoes and onions (No, I do not like bruschetta. Why do you ask?)

My favorite fruits: Peaches, mangoes, strawberries, apples

My favorite vegetables: Broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes

My favorite hot drink: London Fog (w/soy milk)

My favorite cold drink: Bulmers Pear Cider

My favorite spices/herbs: Cinnamon, basil, cayenne pepper

My least favorite spices/herbs: Cilantro and cumin

My favorite meal of the day: Breakfast

My favorite desserts: Peach cobbler, pumpkin pie, creme brulee, fresh fruit

My favorite restaurants: Loring Pasta Bar (Minneapolis, MN), Donelli's Cafe (Wicklow, Ireland), Cottonwood Bistro (Brookings, SD)

Guilty pleasure foods: Chocolate-covered pretzels

The best meal I've ever made: Roasted butternut squash and kale pizza

The best recipe I've ever created: 3-bean and quinoa chili

A tiny cafe in Dingle, Ireland, taught me that potato salad CAN be edible when
it's not made entirely of Yellow #5!