EXCITING….EXTRA BLOG POST!

So…I have a blog post up on the Main Street Vegan Academy’s website (as alumni, we have the privilege of doing that!).  I thought I’d share it with you all as an added post bonus!  ENJOY!  PS:  Let me know if it’s helpful!  🙂

 

Back to School Vegan Lunch Ideas

It’s September! Along with the chilly weather (here in NY), comes the start of school. We all know how hectic this time of year can be as we try to regain some sense of a schedule. We feel the excitement surrounding new supplies, books, clothing and, of course, the infamous new lunchbox. As we send our kids off to school, we often put a lot of thought into their breakfast (and we should)! We want our little learners to have as much energy as possible to get them through all of their classes and then some. Wait! Why is little Timmy so sleepy even though he’s eaten a great breakfast? Why is Molly falling asleep in afternoon Math class? The culprit could be what is in that fancy new lunch box! When we look at children’s lunches, they tend to be filled with “fun” food. “Fun” food doesn’t always equal healthy food. Unhealthy food can lead to all sorts of problems, but a big problem for a little learner is the grogginess that comes after eating a lunch that is not filled with the energy-boosting foods our brains and bodies need after a long morning of learning.

As a teacher and a parent, I have seen first-hand what a “bad for you” lunch can do to a child’s afternoon. Students’ energy levels drop and they find it very difficult to stay on task. Studies performed by the American Psychological Association show that students who eat poorly for breakfast and at lunchtime suffer from a lack of ability to concentrate and focus. These same students become tired after lunch. Why, then, are we feeding our children highly-processed lunches full of sugar and salt? Convenience? Perhaps. However, with a little planning and “night before chopping”, your little Einstein can be on his/her way to a high-energy afternoon filled with academic achievement.

What are some ways we can “re-vamp” our children’s lunchboxes? First, be sure you are packing the lunch in containers that are environmentally safe and free of toxins. Next, find foods that are energy boosting. Finally, make them fun to eat! Children LOVE dipping foods, they love “cute” foods (ie: wraps cut into pinwheels) and they love foods that taste yummy! Here are some ideas to turn your child’s lunchbox into a box full of energy! Remember to give yourself an A+ for packing a healthy, delicious and creative lunch!

Combine some of these nutritional powerhouses for a student who maintains his/her energy throughout the afternoon! Your student, from pre-school to high school, will thank you!

  • Fruit Skewers—cut fruit and slide them onto steamed asparagus spears for a fun, tasty treat that is entirely edible provide some tahini to dip in
  • Edamame is a wonderful high-protein food—combine it with quinoa for a delicious salad

lunch

  • Avocados provide wonderful fats our bodies need—make some guacamole and spread it on a high fiber bread for a creamy sandwich
  • Overnight oats are a great lunchbox treat! Combine non-dairy milk, chia seeds, oats, raisins, cinnamon and a bit of maple syrup in a jar and place in refrigerator overnight. Pack it in the lunchbox the next morning. Serve with a side of fresh berries.
  • Dipping is fun for everyone! Slice apples, celery and peaches and serve with almond butter. Bananas are great, too, just don’t cut those beforehand.
  • Seeded crackers with hummus provide energy-boosting goodness!
  • Granola served with a side of fruit and non-dairy milk is, also, a great treat!
  • If you have an adventurous tike. boost focus and energy with seaweed snacks!
  • Pack some coconut water for hydration and electrolytes.

Remember, if you’re packing your own lunch…follow these tips for yourself! After all, you need as much energy as you can get!

Enjoy your energized lunch!

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Next!

What comes next in the life of a Main Street Vegan Academy graduate, you ask?  I’ll tell you!  Lot’s of thinking!!!!  There are so many ways to inform people about how to become vegan and help the planet, environment and, most of all, the beautiful, lovable animals we encounter.  I know my thinking process went a lot like this…how to I tell people it’s easy to be vegan and they won’t starve or become malnourished?   How do I let them know they won’t need a handful of vitamins daily if they partake in nature’s beautiful array of fruits and veggies?  How do I get them to believe that they can eat their favorite foods (with a few tweaks)?  I decided to show them.

Having a teaching degree and background made it easy for me to find a way to teach them…by finding the best info out there and spreading the news!  We are lucky, in today’s technological age, to have so many ways to inform people.  I think, for me, a lot of my business is online.  From webpages, to blogs, to twitter, to emails and skype calls with clients near and far…my computer and tablet have become attached to me.  People might say this is a bad thing.  I might agree if it weren’t for the goal in mind.   The goal is to help get the word out to as many people as possible.  What better way to do that?

I’ve been lucky enough to have actually been invited to attend various functions and lectures.  I was invited to speak to individuals with disabilities.  What an amazing opportunity!  One person was already vegetarian.  A move he made solely on his own!  He needed guidance on how to eat properly (don’t we all) and his wonderful supervisors thought it would be amazing to have a group lecture so the others could learn about the life their friend was living and, maybe, decide it was right for them!  They had so many questions, were so open and excited!  What a fantastic audience!  I have since heard from them and learned that our vegetarian friend is branching out and the others are excitedly trying new foods!  WONDERFUL!  This is what it’s all about!

My table at the First Annual Hudson Valley Food Festival looked awesome (if I do say so myself)!  The most amazing part of this festival, for me, was that I thought I would be speaking with people who were already vegan (It is the Vegan Food Festival.), however, about 80% of the people I spoke to were NOT vegan and were ready and willing to try!  They had so many questions, though…which is where I came in!  Cute story….one woman said she couldn’t be vegan because of her love of cheese puffs!  I assured her there are vegan cheese puffs and that after making the move with the other aspects of her diet and lifestyle, the cheese puffs may not be that important to her.  She agreed!  The moral of this story…don’t decide not to try veganism because you love cheese, eggs, milk.  In my eyes, it’s ok to turn your entire diet and lifestyle around and be the vegan who occasionally drinks a glass of milk (or has some cheese puffs).  While it’s not the ideal, it’s soooo much better for you, the animals and the world than not doing it all.  One day, it will stick and those eggs, milk and cheese puffs will be a thing of the past.

Don’t be afraid to start slow on your vegan journey if you are a person who needs that.  Meatless Mondays are a beautiful thing.  You can, also, start by having only vegan foods for a few meals a day.  If you are someone who is better with cold turkey and drop everything at once!  Go for it!  Maybe you are someone who would do better starting with a vegan lifestyle and save diet for last…switch over to non-leather shoes and clothing, no silk, no wool.  You can shop for beauty products that are cruelty-free and vegan.  There are so many different ways to begin but the ending will be the same!

Next up for me?  My new venture Vegan Teacher LLC.  Look for the webpage, schedule and client testimonials coming soon!  In the meantime….do some soul searching…see which start you’d like to take….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community……

How’d your time alone go?  Did you begin a journey?  Think about a journey?  Start to realize what makes you happy?  Baby steps, my friends, baby steps!

So…as usual…I left you with a cliff-hanger.  Where did I find my Vegan Community?  Well, it started in a way most of us are very familiar with….google search!  I was searching for Vegan sites when I came across a very interesting ad for the Main Street Vegan Academy!  WAIT! WHAT?  THERE’S A VEGAN ACADEMY!  Oh, yes, there is!  I knew I had to be part of this!  The excitement and thoughts began racing…how, when, where…..

When I found this ad, I had been vegan for many years and vegetarian before that.  I always did my research and knew the foods and nutrients I needed AND the names of the most-influential vegans out there.  Yes…there are influential vegans…activists, advocates, teachers, lecturers, bloggers and foodies…all of whom make our world easier to live in and  more compassionate.  Well…I was thrilled to learn that these people made up the faculty at the Vegan ACADEMY!  How could I not go?  I filled out the necessary paperwork and the lovely Director, Victoria Moran, emailed me extending a space in their already FULL program.  How compassionate this school was already!  When I tell you the class was full, I mean full.  I was enrolled in a program with all VEGANS and vegans from AROUND THE WORLD at that!  People travel far and wide to attend this program.  I was lucky enough to meet and spend time with wonderful vegan people from India, Puerto Rico and all over the United States!  I am proud to say I still speak with them and the support and sense of community we have together is unbelievable!

So..back to the adventure…I anxiously awaited the first day of classes.  I ordered my books, did the necessary readings, watched the necessary videos and searched the necessary sites.  (Yes, people, this is a REAL class with REAL assignments and work!)  I’m ready!  The night before the first day of class I was like a kid on Christmas Eve!  I couldn’t wait!  The next day was going to mark the beginning of a new chapter for me, for my classmates, as well!  We had no idea what type of amazing journey was ahead of us but boy were we lucky to have taken part in it!

We had very long days filled with learning, food, recipes and fun!  We had walking tours and discussions at local shops!  We met amazing lecturers such as Christian Sebastian, a Columbia University professor and vegan who taught us about Speciesism. Fran Costigan, the amazing Vegan baker.  Mariann Sullivan, Producer of Our Hen House and lawyer who taught us about Animal Law.  JL Fields, famous blogger and cookbook author.  Of course, Victoria Moran, author, lecturer, Director of the Vegan Academy, blogger, cookbook creator, and so much more!  We were taught by doctors, nutritionists, business people, etc.  What a marvelous, marvelous course-load!

We were now on our way to VEGANIZE THE WORLD!  Watch out…here come the 2016 graduates of the Main Street Vegan Academy!  Our companies are up (or almost up) and running…we use facebook, blogs, twitter, instagram, etc. to get the word out to the world and, most of all, we support each other!

This is why we need community and I am thankful everyday for mine!