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The Disappointments of Traditions
DSC00640I'm getting mighty weary of hearing, "But we have to go there, buy that, do this!  It's tradition!" Every time a holiday approaches, I can practically feel my friends' eyes roll when I decline to decorate my apartment with ghosts for Halloween or turkeys for Thanksgiving. I admit, I do not participate in turning my living quarters into whatever themed frenzy exists at the moment. It's not that I hate the holidays; it's that I am beginning to hate traditions.

Holidays aside, now that I am of the age when couples all around me are getting pregnant and growing their families, I hear how excited the new parents are to create new traditions with their children. Getting their child's face painted at a festival will turn into an annual event from now on.  Traveling to the same city year after year because of how much fun the first time was becomes the "family vacation."  Anything that is fun for the child and parents then becomes The Tradition.

While there is certainly nothing wrong in creating traditions and looking forward to replaying the same activity year after year, what I have noticed is that people are losing what it feels like to just enjoy the day for what it is: a fantastic day. Traditions can sometimes result in perpetual disappointments. I experienced this recently when my friends and I participated in our annual tradition of going apple picking.  We selected a new orchard this year –– one closer to Chicago –– and it fell short from the traditional Edwards Orchards we typically visit. The entire day was a let down. The apple cider donuts did not come fresh out of the fryers into our hands, we didn't get a barrel for the apples we picked, there weren't enough activities, the place didn't "feel" like autumn. Basically, we spent the whole day comparing our day to the previous ones at the better orchard, and this poor new orchard did not have a chance of winning the competition.

It did not matter how blue the sky was, how delicious the apples tasted, how yummy the donuts were.  It was not as good, and therefore, a complete bust.  Someone observing us might have assumed that we were being dragged through the mud with how many complaints we had.

The more caught-up we were in recreating the magic that was felt the first time at the superior orchard, the more we lost out on the new memories that slipped through our fingers while we were busy picking apart the day. Traditions can be wonderful, but when we hold on to the past, unable to open our eyes to the potentiality of something new, we just make ourselves cheerless in the process. That is one tradition I would like to break.

The Lazy Vegan: 16 Food Options For Simple Vegan Living
If you are lazy when it comes to cooking but are interested in trying out what it feels like to eat as a vegan, here are some staples to keep in your fridge, freezer and cabinets!

Yay vegans!

Whole Foods is my favorite store to shop, but considerably more expensive than others.
1)  Guacamole
Hint:  To keep guacamole fresh just cover it with saran wrap so that no oxygen gets in!
2)  Hummus (any kind that does not include dairy)
3)  Salsa
4) Tortilla chips for dipping!
5)  Vegan frozen pizza's (Amy's is the best brand in my humble opinion)
6)  Quinoi/ Rice/ Whole Wheat Pastas (all others are not vegan)
Tomato based sauces are great!  Spice it up with garlic and herbs;  Pasta lasts forever in the fridge when you make it in bulk
7)  Split pea soup (ham not included)
There is a package of this at Whole Foods which is DELICIOUS!  You just let it simmer for two and a half hours and voila!  You have soup to last you the WEEK!  I spoon it out from the original pot and microwave a bowl of it everyday.  Great with tortilla chips crumbled in. John McDougall also makes delicious soups that are mostly ALL vegan.  You just add boiling water and BAM, you've got soup in under five minutes.
8)  Baked potatoes!
For butter buy Earth Balance brand!  Tastes just like butter!
Put broccoli; garlic; "butter"; onion; or whatever on it!  Delicious and easy to make!
9)  Assorted nuts and raisins!
Great for snacking!!!!  They fill you up!!!
10)  Dark chocolate
More than 70% cocao!!!  Extremely healthy!
11)  Any soups made by John McDougall (see #7)
These are small soups in paper cups (one serving) that are ALL VEGAN!  You can find them at Whole Foods and now at conventional grocery stores.  Just add hot water to them and let them sit for a few minutes;  Great selection and very easy to make;  Yum!
12)  ALL fruits and veggies (obviously)
Hint:  Avocados are key because of how nutritious and filling they are!  For an easy avocado snack just cut it in half––taking out the pit of course;  Leave it in the skin and cut it in squares with a knife––nothing fancy;  Then put white vinegar over each half and spoon out;  Delicious and filling!
13)  Rice, beans and veggies
Always a good staple to have at any meal  It's filling and it's packed with protein and carbs (you will NOT GAIN WEIGHT!)
Indian food is great for vegans!  The brand I buy is again Amy's;  It will clearly say "Dairy Free" on the label;  Make sure there's no meat as well!
15)  Indian Cuisine (Tasty Bite brand in the yellow packaging)
Buy these in bulk and put them in your cabinets!  You just microwave or heat in pot and bam!  You have a meal!  Many of these are lentils and chickpeas with spices and veggies.  Simple and yummy!  For extra nutrients sprinkle a little more turmeric on top.
This is what I love on my salad:
Olives, avocado, tomatoes, beans (assortment), broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, and vegan cheese.  Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
My last thing to note for both is to avoid sugar as much as possible!  I would eliminate it completely just because sugar is extremely unhealthy and, once eliminated from your diet, you will stop craving it.  I swear, I am a sugar-holic, and after a few months of aviding it, I never crave it anymore.