What We Ate Wednesday: Back To School

January 14th, 2014 - filed under: The Food » Food Styles


This is what I get to look at on my walk from my classes to lab meeting. Not too shabby, eh?

So school. That’s different.

I have now been back in school – doing a masters program in biology focusing on macroevolution by the way, because I think I never actually mentioned that – for all of one and one half weeks. And HOLY MOLY is my life completely different.

I’ve spent the past nearly 5 years working for myself, blogging and freelancing, raising Waits and writing wherever and whenever I can. Working from home has its pros and cons, but I’d definitely forgotten what it’s like to have a more traditional – a more rigorous – schedule.

I forgot how much I love it!


Black tea with the best liquid stevia and almond milk, remnants of a banana that went into a smoothie, measuring spoon evidence of the 2 tablespoons of ground seeds I ate, for seed cycling.

Things are so different these days. We run a tight ship, there’s lots to remember and not a lot of time to remember it in. I’ve got a million things on my mind and I’m always thinking one step ahead. Or two.

I love it. I’ve really, really missed it


Waits is on a chia kick. Every morning, chia chia chia.

Mornings are a flurry of food prep and planning. I’m making our breakfasts and packing our lunches, getting us dressed and out the door. I make smoothies:

Almond milk, banana, tropical fruit, strawberries, spinach, vanilla protein powder (not my favorite, but a better price), and vitamins. For Waits –> second breakfast for preschool. For me –> tall shake for breakfast, which I drink on the way to school. For Jeremy –> half size for half of his breakfast, along with a bowl of soy yogurt.

While I bustle about the kitchen, Waits eats breakfast and plays. Our new year’s resolution for him was to work on his letters and spelling, so on this particular morning, he and Jeremy played letter matching games while they ate.


I pack up lunches. The preschool has transitioned to a different style of lunching, where instead of each child bringing a bunch of different food for themselves each day, they bring one larger dish to share, and everyone eats everything, together. I love the concept but worried, at first, that Waits would be left out.

I really underestimated the other parents.

So far, roughly 95% of the “sharing” food has been vegan. The other parents have completely embraced it, without being asked at all. They’re just thoughtful, and want Waits to be able to eat what everyone else is eating. So they send vegan snacks, fresh fruit and veggies, nuts and beans and hummus and sammies, even homemade vegan baked goods! Doesn’t that just warm your heart?

People can be so dang good.


Waits’s share snack on that day: homemade mac ‘n red pepper cheese, and a small side of leftover roasted butternuts. The tin of coconut strips is his “not-sharing” snack, because I always try to send him with a good solid source of calories/energy that I know he’ll eat (since he can be picky).

Our lunch bags hanging on the back door, ready to go.

And of course, before we rush out the door, we can’t forget the dog!

Harley’s new year’s resolution was to go vegan, so he’s now on a homemade vegan dog food that I fortify with a specially formulated doggie supplement. He also eats a lot of our leftovers, like Waits’s chia:


And the dog soup:



Whew! And then we’re out the door. I drop Waits off at preschool, say my sweet goodbyes, and head out to campus. My first class is at 10.

I love being in class. Right now grad school is still new, still overwhelming, still seeming like an enormous financial burden and oh my god did I make the right decision what am I doing wait get me out of here!

But then I get into class. As soon as the learning starts, all of that fades away. I love science. I LOVE IT. I love the way it makes my brain feel, just like a tense and tired muscle after a heavy workout, tingling from the adrenaline and the growth. When I’m in the classroom, I know I made the right decision.

My first class is over at 10:50, and by 11 am I’m back in my car. Car is home base on campus, my little introvert respite, my rolling office where I can get all my work done in peace and comfort and quiet. See?


I work for an hour, prepping for a phone call with a new Vegan Lifestyle Coaching client. And don’t feel too bad for me, holed up in my car. The view’s not so bad from the top of the parking structure.


At noon I break for lunch.


Leftovers! Roasted butternut, steamed broccoli and kale, quinoa, and lentils, with a side of homemade sunflower-horseradish sauce. YUM. Perfect brain food.

After lunch I do more working working working in the car; on this day it was another hour. But I was getting restless. How could I resist the siren call of a perfectly perfect, perfectly sunny and warm and still southern California winter day?


Feeling cramped and getting sleepy. // Not bad for mid-January, I’d say.

I’ve been enjoying a mid-day walk to break up the grind, and I always need more caffeine. So on this lovely winter day, I grabbed my tall glass mason jar and moseyed on down to the UCEN.

Black iced tea with my favorite portable powdered stevia.

And then a little walk around campus . . .


And all the way down to stick my toes in the sand:


I feel grateful, each and every day, that I get to live here. I never forget it.

After my walk it’s time to head to class. And after class it’s back to my car for more working working working (I still work for myself, still write freelance, still have deadlines to meet), until it’s time to go pick up Waits. And on the way home with my sweet baby boy in tow, on this particular day, we had to stop at the market. Because it was taco night, and what is taco night without avocados, I ask you?

Waits was hungry so I grabbed him a coconut raspberry yogurt for snacking on the drive home.


So, once we were home I realized something very important, which is this: the thing about tacos is that they require, well, tacos. Taco shells. Taco shells are sort of a necessary part of taco night.

Which I didn’t actually have.

I’m trying to keep too many things straight, I guess. That’s okay – I can improvise!


Taco salad for me, and a little dipper plate for Waits, with refried black beans with olive oil and nutritional yeast, sautéed orange bell pepper, black olives, and organic corn chips for dipping.

Oh crap, I almost forgot the avocado!


Much better, whew! Romaine with refried black beans, sautéed onions and portobellos, black olives, salsa verde, nutritional yeast, and topped with a few organic corn tortilla chips for maximum crunch. Oh and of course, avocado! A whole half of one. Because delicious.

Waits and I eat, play, bathe, and get ready for bed. I love our nighttime routine. Later, much later, after Waits is asleep, I make an identical dinner for Jeremy when he gets home (my home, not his – we don’t live together in case that’s confusing), close to 10 pm.

And these nights, just about all we can do is curl up in the living room and talk, so tired from our long days, but just so glad to be ending them together. I am lucky.

Some days, these days, I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going or if it’s right, but I do know that. I am so lucky.

  • Katia

    Sayward you are beautiful inside and out! You bring such inspiration and happiness to my days… I am “strugling” to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan for me and my toddler boy… He was always a picky eater and until recently (he is 2 years old) he didn´t want any food other than bananas, yogurt or bread…. sigh…
    Anyways… Reading you gives me great ideas and fuels me in a way I can´t put into words… Thanks for being there, in the other side of the screen and sharing your lovely life and family with us :)
    Much love from Spain.

  • Rachel from The Vegan Mishmash

    Your day sounds exhausting and energizing all at the same time, and in the best way :-) And if taco shells are the only thing you forget, I’d say you’re doing a great job. Love your posts, as usual. <3

  • http://windycityvegan.wordpress.com/ Monika {windycityvegan}

    So excited that you’re back in school, lady! And boy oh boy, are you making me pine for Santa Barbara. And I’ve been loving your instagrammed school lunches. Brown bagging it is one of my favorite things about working away from home.

    Nina is in charge of taco nights at our house – my girl makes a mean guacamole – and she’s also really into “deconstructed” dishes (totally the influence of Top Chef Las Vegas) – so all of our taco nights revolve around giant bowls of shredded greens mounded with all the fixins’ and chips crushed on top!

  • Samantha Ellwood

    Loved this post :) reminiscent of how I felt most of the time in grad school… and a lot of the time now that I’m working. Busy busy busy; always planning, always being productive, always juggling, and often forgetting something that’s no big deal – “but it’s ESSENTIAL!” yells my brain until I realize it’s usually replaceable. Such as taco shells and corn chips.

    Congrats again on diving into school :)

  • Courtney Bliss

    As always, you give me inspiration and hope. If someone who also has a young child can manage their life outside of school, I can do it too! Now if I can just convince my hubby that it’ll all be fine. Granted, he is being so supportive of me, despite the fact that he really doesn’t want to move to D.C. Now if I can just get that application finished.

  • lysette

    Ha! I used to eat a similar lunch/dinner in the same container in my car when I was in carpentry school. I didn’t have a stunning view and it was winter in Canada but your picture took me back.

    Yup, introvert finding quiet from the crowds of students. My classmates would sit in the hallway on breaks and I always found it too overwhelming.

    Your posts have been brightening my heart for the start of 2014. I’ve been meaning to comment on your year in review. Embracing the unknown, blazing forward with a sword of love & truth. A love powered – I just looked at my book shelf and saw Victoria Moran’s book – crusader, leading by example. Bring it! You’re authenticity is grounding and inspiring :)


  • vegyogini

    I love that you are sharing this journey with us. All the talk about classes and the shots of campus make me feel so nostalgic and desirous of being back in school. For now, I’ll live vicariously through you! I usually packed my classes in tightly so I didn’t have gaps between and studied at home (in the dorms the first 2 years and my apartment the 4th year–the 3rd year I studied abroad in France).

    I eat breakfast and lunch at work every day and generally pack those up the night before. It’s fun seeing how you manage feeding three people with different needs and schedules in a healthy, delicious way.

    More than anything, though, I love that you have created this beautiful family and are so radiantly happy.

  • Rachel in Veganland

    Hi Sayward, what a delicious day you had! I’m guessing you’re at UCSB? I’ve just applied for a graduate program (in Art History) there myself! :)

  • Manda

    I love hearing about your day. I did the single mama thing (whilst working and studying too) with my blonde long-haired sunshine boy when he was a similar age to Waits and I really kicked ass at it. I have such great memories of that time when it was mostly just us and life was intense and wonderful. Looks to me like you kick butt at it too. xx

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hello in Spain! Thanks for the sweet comment, and I’m so glad my blog offers a little kid-friendly food inspiration. Good for you for working on the transition! Don’t be too hard yourself, these things take time. It sounds like you are being intentional and moving in the right direction, and that is what counts. ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Exhausting and energizing = exactly! Always great to hear from you Rachel!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    So great to see your comment here Monika! I know you’re super busy, but it’s always so nice to hear from you. Also, um, if you’re pining, COME VISIT. You know you got a place to stay! =D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, you definitely sound like you’ve been here before. That pretty much sums up my grad school experience so far. I know it’s the kind of thing that’s both daunting and delightful. Like, totally overwhelming, but not so much that I cant look around and just laugh. =)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Oh Courtney, you can! It’s not easy but so many women do it. My mom did it before me, and so many of my peers. I think it sets a wonderful example for your child, too, to see mom pursuing higher education and a passion. I’ll always remember watching my mother study, hearing her typewriter from the living room late at night, and knowing that what she was doing was difficult and brave. It’s an awesome thing to show our babies!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    yes fellow introvert! I love the bustle of campus but it can be quite stimulating and draining. Glad I’m not the only one who seeks solace in my car, ha!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you sweetie, and it was so wonderful getting to meet you this weekend! Hopefully we’ll see more of each other int he LA vegan community! ♥

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Ohhh that would be awesome if you came to UCSB! Santa Barbara is amazing and great but we need more vegans! =D

    Let me know if you get in, and I’ll be sending my positive thoughts your way!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aw thank you Manda, I LOVE hearing form other fierce mamas who have blazed this path before me. And I love hearing how you think back so fondly on that time. I imagine it will be the same for me. Sometimes the most intense times are really the most wonderful times – everything just feels so *alive*!

  • Kylie

    I remember spending a lot of down time in my car when I was in college too! That taco bowl looks pretty fantastic!

  • Claire Philips

    I absolutely love your blog, and have for many years, but this may be my favorite post yet. It exudes the happy! :-)

  • Katrina

    Cars are excellent places to nap as well when you need a break to recharge. :) Just open the window a smidgen, fashion a pillow out of something, and snooze for a bit. :)

  • Rachel in Veganland

    Sayward–thanks so much! I’ll keep you posted on my progress! Fingers crossed!

  • Lisa @bitesforbabies

    Just stumbled across your blog…and I love it! We have the same ideals in regards to food prep and what we feed our kids (and dog! lol!). Looking forward to following. I actually have my own food Blog, mainly all about healthy food options for babies/toddlers. Hope you stop by for a look! http://www.bitesforbabies.com ;-)

  • Andrea@VibrantWellnessJournal

    Love your story!

  • Allie

    Hi Sayward. I’m trying really hard to drink less sugary drinks but still need my caffeine, so I was wondering what brand of black tea you would recommend? Thanks!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I just drink the Trader Joe’s stuff – it’s so cheap!

  • Tegan

    ‘Harleys new years resolution was to go vegan’?

    No. That was your resolution. Dogs are not vegan by nature and I think that’s pretty cruel, to deprive an animal of its natural diet. If you can’t deal with caring for animals that eat other animals, you ought to stick to herbivorous pets.