What's In My Pantry?

If this were a vlog or fancy home cooking show, this would be the point at which the catchy jingle plays. You know, like a pretty little ding and then a chorus of voices all "what's in my pantryyyyyy tonight, Sonja?" (and then a kitten enacting cartoon violence).

Five points to Ravenclaw if you got that reference!*

Today I'd like to share with you guys a run-down of the items I typically keep on hand in my pantry/fridge. My typical groceries. I find I'm always very interested in this sort of thing when perusing other blogs/cookbooks - it's good to get an idea of ingredient staples so mealtimes don't become such guesswork, and more of a combining of favorites. And of course so I always have items on hand to make yummy goodies!

Pantry #1

Nut Butters, always plural (Please don't fall over from shock)
Organic Publix applesauce, unsweetened
Raisins/Amazins/Dried fruit
Almonds or other nuts
Pasta & pasta sauce (gluten free; good for a quick dinner)
Brown rice/quinoa/sweet potatoes
Vitamins (C and D) & probiotic capsules
Canned beans (garbanzo, black beans)
Organic honey, preferably raw
Canned soup for another quick dinner option (Amy's or Wolfgang Puck's)

Not fully pictured (there's a section above & underneath)
Pantry #2 (shared with my roomies)

My tea collection
Cereal (Whole O's, Honey Rice Puffins)
Rolled oats
Oil (Canola/Veggie/Olive)
Spices (Cinnamon's my fave!)
Himalayan Pink Salt
Gluten-free flour
Agave nectar
Baking soda/powder, cocoa powder
Chocolate chips :)


Almond milk, unsweetened
Greens, greens, greens (spinach, salad mix, kale, swiss chard)
Any fruits or veggies that are on sale/in season/catch my eyes
Hummus (usually Sabra classic, occasionally I make my own)
Earth Balance vegan butter spread
Firm tofu, tofu noodles
Apple Cider Vinegar
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Veggie burgers/patties
Frozen veggies
Frozen berries

And that's the basics, folks. Soon I'll put up a post about my typical day-to-day eats so you can get an idea of just what I make out of all these goodies! I tend to repeat meals a lot once I find something I like, but it is neat how many different things I can make out of that (relatively) short list above.

What are some of your pantry must-haves?

*See The Most Awesome Late Night Show Host Ever. Points not exchangeable for Slytherin, Gryffindor, or Hufflepuff credit.


Sushi Me

Sushi is awesome. I've not always liked it, but taste buds change and now it's almost a constant craving. Since I couldn't stomach even the idea of raw fish, I've always stuck to either veggie, tofu, or smoked salmon rolls. This made it an easy food to continue eating after I cut out meat, since veggie rolls are delicious! I've tried a few different sushi places, and sometimes the veggies combos are a little sparse and disappointing (read: only cucumber, carrot, and avocado at one place. Um, what? I paid five dollars for this roll!).

But I recently visited a cafe downtown with my friends, and this was by far the best veggie roll I've ever had.

Beautiful presentation, too. Except for at the end where I already dug in. Oops!
This roll was stuffed with veggies - avocado, carrot, cucumber, AND asparagus plus two veggies I couldn't actually place. One was soft, brownish, and sweet but I don't think it was onion and the other was, I think, some type of pickled Japanese veggie.

I apologize for my inadequate knowledge in these areas. My brain often eats before it inspects...

Two of my friends also sampled different types of sushi and were very pleased, while Laurie (who'd previously been to the restaurant) ordered a stir-fry she already knew she loved.

My friend Jess had the lobster mac and cheese:

Needless to say, she loved it.

I didn't sample it myself of course, but it looked way more delicious than my iPhone camera gives it credit for.

All in all, a very pleasant experience. I hadn't dined out in awhile due to both budgeting and my dietary issues so it was great! I'd been super nervous that I would find an appropriate vegan option but all was well :)

What are some of your favorite foods when going out to eat?



The Bakery Dream

I think it's about time we talk about something:

The Bakery.

The Bakery is very special to me. To own and operate The Bakery is my dream. More specifically, it's the dream of my hometown bestie, Liz (you know, staunch supporter of carrot juice) and myself.

The Bakery has a real name, but I'm afraid that's top secret for now. Don't want it squirreled away from us before we can even begin!

Liz and I, after having re-created The Portal Cake in delicious German Chocolate form.

Liz and I have been friends and baking partners for some time now, and we've known each other since eighth grade (we're both college juniors currently). It wasn't until about senior year of high school The Bakery Dream began to be realized, however. 

Our brie-apple tarts avec a sprig of mint.

We love to bake. For ourselves, for family, for fun: nearly every time we get together (and that's a lot, when we're both at home visiting parents) we make something delicious. We enjoy both creating our own recipes based on cravings and tackling more complex ones like tiramisu, biscotti, and souffles.

One of our favorite go-to treats is pie, particularly apple or strawberry.

We'll make anything. Cupcakes, candy, cookies, tarts...

Fancy pear, white wine, and caramel...things?

We've even made Grace Helbig's sweet weenies for a fun experiment. 
Spoiler alert: they're awesome.

Whatever you want, we want to have at our bakery. The idea is to own the bakery together later in lives, after each of us has sampled our respective careers. It's sort of...the perfect way to settle down, in our eyes.

Maybe some day we'll even be on cupcake wars! Keep an eye out ;)


Carrot Juice

Can I introduce you to one of my very good friends?

Odwalla's organic is my favorite brand, but Boathouse is a good (read: cheaper) alternative.

People of the internet, meet Mr. Carrot Juice. Good Sir Juice has been my very tasty and healthy companion over the last few weeks. My colonics doctor recommended this to me over winter break for the health benefits, and though I'd never had it straight carrot before (as a child I loved Vruit's carrot-apple juice) I immediately stopped by Whole Foods and bought a half-gallon of Odwalla's organic carrot juice.

It helped that my sweetie hometown bestie, Liz, had recently bought a juicer and was already raving about the fresh carrot juice she'd been consuming by the barrel. Liz and I have extraordinarily similar tastes.

So I dove in, confident I would like it.

I love it. Carrot juice is so smooth but not thin, with a refreshing natural sweetness. Give me a cup and it's gone in minutes - I can't help it! It's truly a fabulous drink, with so many benefits, including:

  • Improvement of the function/detoxification of the liver & digestive tract
  • Rich in vitamins & minerals such as vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, and beta-carotene
  • It is a very calorie-light juice that needs no added sugar
  • It is good for the skin and has anti-aging properties
  • It's delicious!

It's also a great addition to my favorite banana apple smoothie!

Delicious. A perfect pick-me-up while doing homework, as you can see in the background...

Well, I'd better get back to that, I suppose! Happy healthy drinking!


Insta-Foods Take Two





1. Vegan grilled cheese with tomatoes, using Daiya cheddar shreds and Genius gluten-free bread (free thanks to an Earthfare deal).

2. Purple cabbage, sweet potato, and pea stir-fry since I had lots of purple cabbage to use up. A little depleted cuz I sort of started eating before remembering to take a photo...oops!

3. Carrot-apple-banana smoothie in my lovely mason jar :)

4. Date stuffed with cinnamon raisin peanut butter - I put nut butter wherever I can! I got the idea from Healthful Sense.

5. Honey-rice Puffins with almond milk, sliced 'nanner, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey - yumm. I love trying a new cereal. Bonus: this one's nice and crunchy and gluten-free!

6. Amy's Organic black bean vegetable soup with corn tortilla chips ~ perfect winter dinner.

7. My roommate's pumpkin chocolate chip bread. So. Delicious. The only non-vegan item pictured, but she made it herself! I had to indulge.


Nut Butters: Nature's Gift to Me

PB & Co's White Chocolate Wonderfall Peanut Butter

Or is it George Washington Carver's gift? Is that a myth? (I don't know, Mythbusters doesn't do that kind of stuff and that's where I get my reliable myth-related info) Well, whoever invented nut butters, they're like...my hero.

My current Nut Butter collection. Please excuse the naked Barney almond butter on the end - it recently got cleaned out ;)

I love nut butters. All kinds. Almond's my particular favorite, but I'm also addicted to Peanut Butter & Co's line of amazing flavored peanut butters. I've also tried soy butter (err...not for me) and sunflower seed butter (good!). There's a "grind your own nut butter" machine at my local health food store that I am itching to try it out - maybe make my own first taste of cashew butter?

Seriously though, this stuff is goooood. I love putting it on my gluten-free toast for breakfast or a snack, or stirring it into my morning bowl of oats (PB & Co's Cinnamon Raisin variety is heavenly in oatmeal). Occasionally I will just eat it straight off the spoon. It's one of my little indulgences, aside from a serious case of chocolate lovin' every now and then.

Because let's admit: while I eat my nut butters gluten-free, vegan, and as all-natural and sugar-light as possible...they're not exactly your typical fruits et legumes (fruits and veggies. Gotta find some way to use my college French!). I strive not to make this a daily indulgence, since I could easily overeat this stuff. Still I believe that once in awhile...you should make your tongue happy! 

What are some of your favorite indulgences?



Vegan Mac-n-Cheese

One of my absolute favorite comfort foods is macaroni and cheese. I love it as a warm, filling dinner. Which makes it a perfect winter or after-riding meal. Luckily, Monday was both. Although it was a pretty warm MLK day, I still had quite a work out riding a horse named Dezzy who was...shall we say...pokey, and I needed some delicious carbs to refuel!

And thus it was the perfect night to try out the vegan mac-n-cheese from Sarah Mattheny's Peas and Thank You cookbook. 

I also used some gluten-free pasta I had in the pantry, so this recipe was vegan and gluten-free. Win! The dish turned out a little paler than I expected to see (probably too used to Kraft dayglo orange) but the texture was nice and smooth. It was definitely a different taste, but it was cheesy, it melted well (Daiya cheese came highly recommended, and I approve. I plan to use it to make a grilled cheese later this week) and it was delicious. 

Probably an acquired taste for some (don't go into it expecting the same old mac-n-cheese) but definitely worth a try if you're looking for a healthier, easier-on-the-body version of this classic meal.

What are some of your favorite vegan versions of traditional dishes?



Picture found on Pintrest.

Just the word makes me want to start singing "these are a few of my favorite things..." at the top of my little lungs. But I won't, because I am in general a respectful roommate.

I'll just wait until I'm in the theatre building.

Anyway, we're here to talk about tea. The wonderful beverage that inspired the name of this blog. Some people are 70 % water. I'm 70% tea. I drink at least six cups a day. And not just straight black tea for the caffeine my friends, oh no. 

Would you like to see my tea collection?

From before Christmas:

And after:

I know, I know. I'm dangerously low.

Seriously, I love the stuff. Especially in the colder winter months, but honestly I could have it any time. I like it iced too - there was a period when I'd ask every single waiter whether the restaurant had raspberry iced tea when I went out to dinner. This was before I was a cheap college student and only ordered water, of course. 

And I love nearly every variety too - chai, green, English breakfast, peppermint, chamomile, an array of herbal creations...you can't disappoint me with tea. You just can not. I carry emergency tea packets in my purse.

Tea is the food to my soul. And yes, I'm drinking some right now.

So, what are some of your favorite kinds of tea?


Energy bars?


Sort of.

Well, maybe. You decide.

Here's the story: I got this crazy idea in my head that I wanted to make my own snack bars. Preferably raw and vegan. These turned out to be vegan, but not raw. Not a complete success...however, cheaper than buying pre-packaged bars and a lot more healthy too! I did some research before beginning to put my ideas to the test, and ended up with this ingredient list:

  • Raw almonds (1/2 cup)
  • Pumpkin seeds (1/2 cup)
  • Whole organic flax seeds (1/3 cup)*
  • Agave syrup (tablespoon and a half)
  • Cinnamon (teaspoon)
  • Dried plums (cut up)
  • Dark chocolate chips (made without milk)
*would have been 1/2 a cup if not for the misfortune described below

I bought the majority of these on the cheap from the bulk foods section of my local health store (I love you Earth Fare, oh yes I do...) excepting the organic cinnamon, organic flax seeds, and dried plums I already had on hand. The recipe I looked at online called for some different ingredients, a lot more of each, and (here's the kicker) a food dehydrator.

I'm a college student. I don't have a dehydrator. So I used a toaster oven (at 200 degrees instead of the 145 that was recommended for the food dehydrator). And that's where the recipe stopped being raw, I guess. But it prevailed!

Recipe breakdown:

First I soaked the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds overnight:

Yes, in cups, because...how else are you supposed to do it?

Then in the morning I drained the almonds & pumpkin seeds and proceeded to mash them up using my beloved hand immersion blender. A food processor or a blender would have been more practical, except I (again) don't have one. So I substituted and threw a cloth over the bowl to keep bits in...this resulted in sort of a blind stabbing process for blending up the almonds and pumpkin seeds into a chunky paste, but it worked.

Until that happened, but I'm gonna pin this one on gravity.

That little mishap resulted in me losing about half the chunky almond-pumpkin seed mix, but it's okay. I made it work. I'm notorious for this. Usually I'm crazy precise and organized, but when it comes to recipes...sometimes I just like to just test my skills and try things. Go with the flow, man.

The aforementioned chunky paste. and yes that is a cup of tea.

So now came time to add the flax seeds & agave. Since I had less mix than planned (and yes I washed the hand blender, no worries), I used less flax seeds. They were a bit complicated to drain, since they're too small to properly use a colander, and the process generally involved a lot of awkward water pouring and shifting between bowls.

The flax seeds, after soaking, had this weird slimy texture that was sort of gross but also sort of cool. You know what I mean, we've all been there.

I took 1/3 a cup of flaxseeds and about a tablespoon and a half of the agave syrup, and stirred them into the mixture. I then added a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon. After all that was mixed into a sticky paste (sounds soooo appetizing, I know, but trust me it smells awesome) I stirred in a handful of chopped-up dried plums and dark chocolate chips.

I spread the mixture onto a little toaster-oven tray like so, nice and flat and even.

And since I had no idea how long to cook it, I chose a lovely 45 minutes. Then I cut it into squares (whatever size you prefer, mine were a few inches long and maybe two across) and stuck it back in for another 15 or so minutes. When I liked the texture, I flipped the bars and cooked the other side of them for another 15.

Then it was done! (according to my completely unexpert opinion)

The finished product!

You know, I was tentative after all the mishaps, but these turned out pretty good! A little soft, but the nuts and seeds made for a nice texture. They had great flavor because of the cinnamon and a touch of sweetness from the agave. The chocolate made them a bit messier than I had intended, but all in all...

I liked it, and even took some along to my riding lesson yesterday. Food success. Let me know if you decide to make them, or something like them, and how it turns out! I think you could really mix it up with this recipe - use whatever seeds, nuts, fruits, etcetera you like! Happy experimenting :)




No, not automatic food. Though that would be great, speaking as a busy student. Or, you know, a person.

I thought I'd share with you two things today: a quick overview of some of the recipes I've had over the past few weeks (sans meat) and my intense love for Instagram. Instagram is a free app on the iPhone that makes pictures awesome. It's true. Try it.





1. Chickpea burgers, adapted from a recipe by one of my favorite blogs, Itty Bits of Balance.

2. A lotsa-fruit smoothie. Papaya, mango, frozen mixed berries, apple, and a splash of almond milk.

3. A totally vegan (well, besides the shaved chocolate) PB & 'Nanner pudding pie from my Peas & Thank You cookbook.

4. Nutella sandwich (Christmas) cookies. Yes.

5. Sweet potato & purple cabbage with tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) and tofu noodles. 

6. Eggplant parmesan made for me by my amazing mother the day before I left to come back to college. 

As you can see, cutting out meat definitely hasn't been hard on my foodie self. It's cheese I'm having a harder time letting go of...such a hard time...did I mention I'm from Wisconsin? Ugh, I know. The tragedy is killing me too.

Dramatics aside, it is difficult to suddenly change the very foods you think of as staples. I won't lie. But for me, it's been a worthwhile journey. And it's led not only to feeling better but to new food discoveries that I love, which is always a great thing.

Happy food gawking!


Introduction Post

Hi, I'm Sonja.

And I am apparently the natural food of the sorting hat in the wild.
It's alright. I'm not mad at you, sorting hat.
I've been reliably informed (by mosquitoes) that I'm delicious.
And you put me in Ravenclaw just like I wanted.

Anyways, someone once asked me to describe myself in less than ten words. I promptly said something like, "What, now? Oh my gosh it's like the internet. Wee!" And that's all you need to know.

Just kidding. In summary, I'm a 20 year old college student (theatre major, focus stage management) who loves her friends & family, theatre, horses, food, and the internet. D'uh.

And if you asked me point blank what my five favorite things are?

Nut butters, post-it notes, tea, new kitchen appliances, and unicorns.

Shh, don't question. Just believe.

I realize that three out of the five things are (or have something to do with) food.

Well, potentially four, but there are some things even a foodie won't touch.

But that just brings me to the main point of this blog: food. I love food. I will try almost anything. Or I would have. Because thing is? This new year, I'm on a quest. A rather...vegan quest.

Long story short, I faced a lot of health and digestive problems last semester. College is hard on you and your body, and I realized I really had to start taking better care of myself. Now, I was never an unhealthy eater per-say, but I could certainly do better. So - slowly and surely, I'm cutting out meat and dairy products and replacing them with a healthy but flavorful mostly-vegan diet. I believe in listening to my body, so if my body says it wants some fish, or some milk chocolate...well, who am I to refuse?

I'm gonna document my journey here as much as possible, in the hopes that it will aid, inspire, and even entertain other college students (or anybody!) looking to obtain optimal health in their lives. Without sacrificing the yummy, of course. 

Hope you enjoy!