Vegan Friday: Minestrone

Protein, vitamins and Italian spices. What’s not to love?

It’s hard to one-up a bowl of minestrone on a cold day. This version involves about 10 minutes of actual prep time and 20-30 minutes of cooking.

1 bag frozen Mediterranean or Italian-style vegetables
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 c. water or low-sodium V-8 juice
Dried Italian spices of your choice (I use a prefabbed mix for this)
1 c. dried pasta or 1 package frozen vegan ravioli, tortellini, etc.
3-4 cloves of garlic

Combine the first six ingredients in a big stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add pasta and cook as long as package recommends, adding water if necessary. Mince garlic. About a minute before the end of the cooking time, add garlic.

Simmer vegetables until they’re tender.

If you are likely to have leftovers, I would STRONGLY recommend cooking the pasta separately, draining it, storing it separately, and just adding a little to the soup as you warm it up. Otherwise, it will sit in the refrigerator, soaking up liquid from the soup, until it turns into a starchy, sludgy mess. Overcooked pasta is one of the most vile substances known to man.

I lucked into some vegan ravioli at the Co-Op. I have no idea why it looks freezer-burned here, because it certainly wasn’t.

Serve with vegan Parmesan if you can find it; if not, a sprinkle of salt will bring out the flavors.

NOTE: Garlic and onions contain a compound called allicin, which scientists have found to have potent antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties, but which breaks down when heated. Adding the garlic at the very end of the cooking time helps preserve both its flavor and its health benefits.



Follow your bliss.

“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.”
— Richard Bach

I’ve been having a conversation with a former student on Facebook about the difference between following your dreams and following the dreams other people are projecting onto you.

Throughout your life, just about everybody you encounter is going to have an opinion about what you should be doing with your life and what “success” is going to look like for you.

Understand two things:

1. You are never going to please those people.
2. You are not obligated to please those people.

I have had people give me the side-eye because I don’t have a master’s degree. I have had people give me the side-eye because I’m not on the evening news. I have had people give me the side-eye because I’m a [insert current job title] instead of a [insert higher-paying or more prestigious job title].

You know what those people have in common?


I don’t have a master’s degree because I have no need for a master’s degree. It won’t get me a raise or make me a better reporter. At this point, a stats class and an Adobe Illustrator workshop would be far more useful. When I point that out, I get a mouthful of platitudes about the personal growth that comes from being a lifelong learner. Never mind that since I got my bachelor’s degree in 1997, I have studied dog training, horseback riding, distance running, martial arts, neon sign repair, metaphysics, trig, calculus, acoustic guitar, and the history of U.S. 66, all purely for sh*ts and giggles. Apparently it doesn’t count as “lifelong learning” if it doesn’t have an expiration date.

I’m not on the evening news because I’m a print journalist, not a broadcaster. I’ve never taken a broadcasting class, never applied for a broadcasting job, and never said anything that would imply admiration or, really, even a modicum of respect for that profession. Being disappointed that a newspaper reporter isn’t on the evening news makes about as much sense as being disappointed that Andre Dawson never won a gold medal in figure skating.

I’m not wherever it is someone else wants me to be, doing whatever it is someone else thinks I should be doing, because I am too busy enjoying what I’m doing here and now.

Wherever you go, and whatever you do, someone is always going to be more than happy to project his own hopes, dreams, disappointments, priorities and expectations onto you if you’ll let him.