Building a Better Breakfast Routine

 

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Who has time to sit down and enjoy breakfast before the workday instead of rushing out the door with yogurt and a to-go mug? Before my exposure to the ‘slow food’ lifestyle at my home-stay in Italy, I’d say NOT me. But Florence transformed my morning coffee into a treat that I was encouraged to savor while sitting down every day, a habit that lent itself nicely (once back in the States) to making eggs every morning and reading the news while my mug cooled to the perfect temperature.

Four years later, I’ve turned this calming breakfast ritual into a website and Instagram full of egg recipes, called Meag’s Eggs, now accompanied by a brand new Yolk Lover’s Guide with egg tips, featured breakfasts by followers, and recipe suggestions.

My goal with this ~side hustle~ is to help others insert a more enjoyable breakfast into their understandably busy morning routines. So I’ve developed some shortcuts and tricks that I want you to try, including the tips outlined below. For ongoing tricks and ideas, be sure to sign up for the Yolk Lover’s Guide here!

Fry eggs without the hassle of flipping

Throwing fried eggs on some toast or English muffins is one of the quickest breakfasts you can make. But what if I suck at flipping the eggs, you ask? What if the yolk breaks every time I try? Happens to all of us. While mastering the flip is definitely possible with some practice, I gave up on the unnecessary anxiety of egg gymnastics and opt for the lid method instead: Crack the egg into the pan, let cook for about a minute, then cover for the last 45-60 seconds. Wiggle the pan to make sure the egg whites cook over, but the yolk stays soft and jiggly, then remove from heat immediately. It takes less than 3 minutes per egg and will leave you feeling accomplished as you begin your day.

Repurpose dinner leftovers to create something gourmet

If you follow my Meag’s Eggs Instagram, you know that one of my favorite ways to eat eggs is when they’re cooked in pasta. Am I preparing pasta and a sauce in the morning before work? Of course not – I’m making pasta for dinner the night before with enough leftovers that can be used to make with eggs. Eggs in Hell (spicy pasta), eggs in mac and cheese, eggs in drunken Thai noodles, an egg fried onto a piece of leftover pizza – the possibilities for repurposing your dinner into a gourmet (or as my friends and I say, Gor-MET) breakfast are endless. See here for ideas and recipes.

Put your meal prep skills to work for breakfast, too

Meal prep is not just for your desk lunch! It can provide you with breakfast all week, as well. One of the most useful #adulting purchases I’ve made is my muffin tin (that I bought at a local grocery store…don’t judge) – because you can make so many things with eggs in it! My favorite example are these baked prosciutto egg cups that I ate for breakfast for days, but there are so many egg/muffin tin breakfast prep recipes out there you can try. I have a couple recipes for you here that keep in the fridge well, like pull-apart crostini and eggs baked into bell peppers.

Let an egg cooker make your eggs for you

Lastly, get yourself a gadget that will do much of the breakfast thinking for you. I received this amazing egg cooker as a Secret Santa gift last year, and it is honestly the only reason I am able to soft-boil eggs successfully. Tools like this will poach for you, hard-boil for you, soft-boil, and even help you create an omelet, all in minutes. Plus, it looks super cute, like a little spaceship for your eggs, so how could you not want it?

Are you ready to build out your breakfast routine yet? Subscribe to the Yolk Lover’s Guide to give yourself some inspo – and happy breakfasting!

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When I Realized Choosing a College Major isn’t a Life Sentence

I had an a-ha moment today. In a training meeting on email marketing at my new job, I interrupted webinar-man to thank him for his suggestions on how to learn basic HTML, letting him know I wouldn’t need to, because I already know basic HTML. I was then transported immediately back to high school, when advisers encourage you to choose elective classes based on what you *think* you might want to do for a career. You know, when they imply to a 14 year-old that their choice about whether to take Computer Skills or watch CSI in Forensics all year will make or break what they end up majoring in and ultimately doing with their life.

When I approached that life-determining dilemma (and chose Forensics), I thought, “my interests are all so different. How am I supposed to know which classes to take? If I choose the wrong one, I’ll be behind, never have a job,” teenage existential crisis, etc. And the career aptitude tests we took seemed to confirm the uselessness of my split interests. My 14 year-old self was apparently equally prepared to be a web designer, pathologist (I really liked the movie Outbreak), Spanish translator, or CIA agent. Thanks for narrowing it down.

I proceeded toward college with vast forensic expertise (jk) while realizing that I enjoyed Spanish, English and Government more than other classes, and that I wanted to “change the world through intercultural cooperation.” I wanted to know how people connected with each other. I visited Italy for 6 days and was done with the U.S. for good. But the part of me that stayed up late with my sister throughout middle school designing websites and teaching ourselves Photoshop was worried – what kind of job will I ever get with those interests? Shouldn’t I be looking into marketing instead? How will I ever make money?

That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, “I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.” That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world.”

-Amy Poehler, Yes Please

Then choosing an academic track in college only solidified my confusion and impending career anxiety. My university put me on a political science trajectory, that I quickly abandoned after a semester of dry political theory (a rash choice that my current D.C.-residing self considers foolish). My interest in international cooperation budding, I chose to pursue sociology instead while taking Italian as a prerequisite to a double major in international relations. Every semester when I talked to friends who had chosen either business or communications tracks, and were taking classes on HTML and graphic design, I felt pangs of regret. These people were learning skills you needed for real JOBS! And there I was discussing pasta vocabulary and taking notes on the sexism inherent in football for Sociology of Sports.

I think we should stop asking people in their twenties what they “want to do” and start asking them what they don’t want to do. Instead of asking students to “declare their major” we should ask students to “list what they will do anything to avoid.” It just makes a lot more sense.

– Amy Poehler, Yes Please

Well, fast forward to life after college. I followed through with the prospect-less sociology major and gave up the international relations degree in favor of Italian Studies and a year eating pasta abroad. I waded through the post-graduation I’m-not-qualified-for-any-jobs-no-one-uses-Italian-why-did-I-do-that crisis that ensued. Took a risk on an unpaid internship to move to D.C., and am now beginning my second real job, in communications on international security issues.

And the a-ha moment came today because I realized: I’m doing it. I’m doing everything the career test told me! (okay, excluding the CIA) I’m getting paid to set up websites and design graphics and study how people communicate and what governs international cooperation and even how diseases spread (my office works on nuclear and biological threats to global security). 14 year-old me would never have guessed I’d be here! Even college graduate me couldn’t have visualized a job that encompasses my diverse interests so perfectly.

So the moral of the story I’d tell 14 year-old me is: keep cultivating all your interests, no matter how unrelated they seem. Sociology is not career-suicide. There ARE people in the U.S. who will speak Italian to you. Jobs you will enjoy and are totally qualified for are out there and you will find them, even if you can’t imagine them right now.


If you need a good laugh, some life motivation and wisdom, and enjoyed the Amy Poehler quotations in this post, I highly recommend her book, “Yes Please.”

Savory, Veggie Waffles: Meet the Startup Changing the Breakfast Game

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Meeting SWAP founder Rebecca Peress at Union Kitchen!

After mutual Instagram-stalking seemingly brought us together by fate, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca Peress from SWAP, a D.C. startup that makes AMAZING savory waffles, called swapples.

swapples swap the junk out of frozen waffles (like chemicals and articifial coloring) for vegetables, flavorful spices, and heart healthy oils. They come in flavors like sun-dried tomato (SO GOOD), spicy spinach, everything bagel, and sweet potato curry, and are vegan, gluten free, and paleo-friendly – but they don’t sacrifice taste.

I don’t have these dietary restrictions, but I’m a savory breakfast food-lover, so these waffles are right up my alley. Importantly for my pre-work breakfast creations, they’re as easy to prepare as Eggo waffles, but so much better for you.

Read my interview with Rebecca to learn how the idea of these breakfast game-changers came to be:

The market for paleo-friendly, vegan, veggie-based foods has exploded over the last few years. How does SWAP fit into that trend, and how does it stand out?

Quite frankly, the large majority of people are just sick and tired of eating crap. We now care where our food is coming from. We want to know it contributes to our health, prolongs our lives, improves our function and energy. SWAP fits into this trend because we’re taking what were once considered junk foods and ”swapping” the ingredients with little to no nutritional value for vegetables, giving you something that actually does good for your body.  Veggies in, junk out!

What inspired you to create Swapples?

An affinity for cooking, a need for convenience, a love for yuca (one of the main ingredients in swapples that replaces grain), and a long history of autoimmune disorders that required I remove all processed foods and sugars from my diet. The waffle part… that’s the fun in it. It’s probably because I was a mini Eggo addict as a youngin’.

What inspired you to start your own business?

That’s easy: I wanted to do what I love. When you get to work hard at something that you both enjoy and puts a smile on people’s faces…. it’s the most rewarding work there is.

Do you have plans to make any foods beyond waffles?

MANY. We’ve got quite the list of veggie-loaded products in the pipeline for the future – but hush hush for now 😉

What’s next for swapples? How can people find them?

swapples are growing fast throughout the DMV region, and will be invading dozens of more stores over the next few months (store locator can be found on our site). We’re also (drumroll please) starting online sales for large orders towards the end of this month/the beginning of May.


Note (2/18/2017): swapples are no longer available online. Click here for a list of store locations!

Liebster Award: Reflections on Writing & Blogs I Recommend

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The Liebster award highlights newer, fledgling blogs, connects writers who might otherwise not have found each other among blogging’s vast community, and provides a forum for writers to reflect on their purposes for blogging and what they hope to achieve by it.

I am delighted that my college friend Aryn Versteegh thought to nominate me for this award, and I’m so grateful that she gave me this opportunity to reflect on why I started this blog in the first place. Here are the questions she has asked me to answer. The blogs I’m nominating are below!

What inspired you to start your blog?

I started this blog two years ago so I could have a place to vent my thoughts about labor conditions leading up to the 2014 World Cup. About to graduate, I was a full on Social Justice Warrior. I drafted a long, fiery paragraph of analysis to post on Facebook with a BBC article about laborers dying while building soccer stadiums before I realized that Facebook is not the place to try to change people’s minds about policy issues. I decided to write an essay about the issue instead, and this blog was born.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you blogging or writing?

Keeping it short. If I’m taking the time to write about something, whether it’s the refugee crisis, life as a young professional, or food, it’s because I have a lot to say. I know that people don’t need to read 5,000 words of my thoughts about these topics, but I’m so passionate, I can’t help myself. A lot of trimming happens before I post anything, but I know my writing is still verbose.

Where do you find inspiration for writing?

Like I said above, if I’m writing about a topic for the world to see, it’s because I really care about it. I started by writing about World Cup labor problems, and have kept a focus on international affairs and the work of the United Nations. But I have also branched out into lifestyle topics such as the effects of the perceived importance of selfies and social media on travel, or my lessons learned from job hunting after college. I’m even writing about and photographing food now! I typically use this blog to articulate thoughts that have begun to brew in my mind for some time, so it has evolved into a writing portfolio on many topics that I’m passionate about.

How involved in the blogging/writing community are you?

I try to follow other blogs that write about similar topics.

What inspired your blog’s theme?

I read that I should have a professional writing portfolio for prospective employers to see when they creep on me.

How has blogging changed your perspective on everyday life?

It has reminded me that I can reach people with my writing if I’m really worked up about a current event or an aspect of adult life I’m struggling with. That’s empowering.

How do you stay organized to balance blogging and real life obligations?

What happens is – I get fired up about a topic, write a post, become very active on my blog for a couple days – and then real life gets busy and I forget to write anything for months.

How do you power through writer’s block?

I only write when I have a lot to say!

What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts you follow?

Current favorites that I follow from my poached eggs/breakfast food Instagram account, Meags_Eggs:

  • Donut.carrot.all – Constant food porn. Of all types. Pasta, ice cream, eggs. This account is like my stomach’s fantasy.
  • Districtbakingco – This woman makes the cutest designer cookies I’ve ever seen. They were deemed “the prettiest desserts in DC” by the Washington Post.
  • Budgetbytes – Pretty food pictures of easy meals. I love that the point of her page is to share tips for making good food for one person in an affordable way.
  • Historyinhighheels – This girl is super stylish and somehow always frolicking in Italy. I follow because I want to live her life.
  • Corgistagram – Because no Instagram feed is complete without pictures and slo-mo videos of adorable Corgis’ butts.

Books: What are you currently reading or looking to start reading?

I’m way behind on my reading list. But the last good book I loved was The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza.

What’s the one place in the world you would travel to if you were to go by yourself?

I want to take a train trip all over Canada sometime.

Now to pass this Leibster Award along!

Rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank the blog that nominated you on a post in your blog.
  2. Answer the questions asked by the blog that nominated you.
  3. Nominate 4-10 other new bloggers.
  4. Create 10 new questions for the nominees to answer.
  5. Notify all nominees via social media
  6. Post the award as a widget on your blog

I nominate:

  • Chance Wilcox – Chance Encounters – Chance is a Peace Corps volunteer working in Paraguay, and also one of my best friends from college. He’s great at capturing what life is like in the “PC.”
  • Taylor Paquette – A Blog by Taylor Paquette – My first boss in DC, and now my roommate. Taylor’s blog has great articles and lifestyle tips.
  • Chanse Pierson – Leave it to Chanse – Chanse and I met at leadership camp in high school and went to college together. He just started a new sports blog.
  • Molly Moore – A Royal Experience – Molly is another friend from college, whose blog chronicles her interesting reflections on life in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Kansas City.

Questions for my nominees:

  1. What made you start a blog?
  2. What motivates you to continue writing for your blog?
  3. What is the hardest part about writing?
  4. What benefits do you think have come from writing for your blog?
  5. What’s your favorite post you’ve written so far? Why?
  6. How do you engage with other bloggers or writers (if at all)?
  7. Who do you see as the audience for your blog?
  8. What is one goal you have for your blog or your writing?
  9. What’s the last good movie you saw? Why did you like it?
  10. Who are your three favorite people you follow on Twitter? (or another medium if you don’t use Twitter)

2015 Dating, Money and Career Lessons Learned

2015 Lessons

One year ago, I started my first real job in a city 2,768 miles away from my home. Since then, I have attempted to navigate the ups and downs of making new friends, dating,  advancing my career, and living on a budget. Needless to say, many hard lessons were learned.  Here’s what I’m taking away from entering the workforce in 2015:

  • Making friends in a new city is daunting. You might know a few fellow alumni from your college, but nobody knows you like your best friends at home do. How are you supposed to find new ones from scratch? Even if you do find a potential new friend, you have to go on friend dates to see if you’re right for each other. I can barely muster the energy to do that with a guy! It’s so much less effort to go home after work to Netflix and a bag of cheddar and sour cream Ruffles than it is to haul across town for drinks with that girl you met once at a networking event.
  • It’s also much harder to make plans with friends outside of college in general. Walking across the street to your friend’s house for Bachelor night is no longer feasible. Now we have to schedule each other in for happy hours that probably will require a walk to the metro or bus that likely won’t come on time — and the same commute to get home later that night. Socializing is such an ordeal now. But at least that means that when you choose to make the effort, you probably have found friends you really care about. Which I have now! I’ve met some really great friends in D.C. over the last year – through blind girl dates set up by a college friend, through high school friends, and through work. My point is that squad-building requires increased effort now.
  • Dating after college is a whole new game to which I’m not sure I am yet accustomed. In D.C., it’s the norm to search for your significant other (or at least date around) via dating apps. Tinder, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, OkCupid, Grindr, Grouper (I sound like Stefon listing off nightclubs on SNL). It takes research reminiscent of my sociology class assignments to figure out how they all work. Gone are the days of simply getting drunk and finding someone at insert-your-beloved-college-bar’s-name-here. The love life scene is now like interviewing for a job, because dates in D.C. so closely resemble a resume evaluation. It’s not hard to meet guys who work at the White House or who have frolicked in Africa for years at a time, but the novelty wears off fast because so many of them flaunt their occupation as if they’re god’s gift to politics. (A young white male who’s been told his whole life he’ll be elected to office someday? The world really needs more of those!) And this is why I usually fantasize about a reason to bail before he can ask the most common phrase in Washington, “What do YOU do?” That’s why I’m still single, mom. Sorry.
  • Living by a budget is essential. It turns out you can’t just splurge on happy hours and refill your metro card without thinking about it, or you won’t have any money left to buy groceries (shocker). Staying conscientious about spending takes some getting used to. Money leaving the bank has to be accounted for, not spontaneously blown like extra financial aid in college (if you were totally on top of your finances as a college student – I salute you). Extra expenses come up all the time, like the jacked up contact lenses bill I didn’t save for, or the weekend trip I booked 2 days in advance. If you don’t plan for these costs with a monthly budget, you might end up eating Top Ramen for a week in order to compensate… Lesson learned.
  • Which brings me to the monthly joy of making student loan payments. I tend to imagine how much cooler my life would be if that percentage of my money didn’t fly away to the government every pay day. Did I know what losing that income would be like when I accepted thousands of dollars in loans as a high school senior? Not exactly. It’s hard not to resent that choice now. But — I had the chance to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and use my university experience to hustle my way into a job in Washington, D.C. all of which I couldn’t have done without loan money. So my goal for 2016 is to put resentment aside and adopt some gratitude for the opportunity to go to college at all.
  • When you’re a junior or entry level staff member, your job entails so much more than the job description says. Sometimes this is overwhelming, but it’s good for your career. I wasn’t hired to manage social media for my organization or to plan events, but those are now responsibilities I can say I’ve taken on in addition to my other duties. And now I know that I want my career to include managing communications! It can be frustrating when you’re expected to do more than your job officially entails, especially if you’re not receiving any sort of extra compensation. But I’ve learned that owning extra responsibilities is the best way to learn new skills, and to build your case for why you’re deserving of a promotion or raise.
  • It’s easy to get impatient about your career. I get down on myself for not working at a United Nations agency yet or having the exact job title I want. That is the stereotypical millennial in me that wants my dream career to start right now. It’s especially hard to avoid that mindset in D.C., where you interact with people who work at your dream office on a daily basis. I’ve attempted to assuage my growing impatience by using my free time to build my resume with volunteer activities related to what I eventually want to do for a living. I tell myself that if I work hard, I’ll be on track for that fantasy career soon enough. We don’t have to put so much pressure on ourselves to have a glistening LinkedIn page this early in our careers.

Do you have anything to add? Has your entry into the workforce or move to a new city affected you in different ways? Let me know about your 2015 lessons here or in the comments below.

Why Don’t I Feel Like a Real Adult Yet?

I pay bills. I relate to my coworkers by commiserating about the weather. I bemoan meal prep and pay rent and have a “commute.” So why don’t I think of myself as a real adult?

I can vote in elections. I can (sometimes) not get ID’d at a bar (Okay, I ALWAYS get ID’d). I have a job. I spend my own money on garbage bags and toilet cleaning supplies. So why do I feel more like a freshman in this world than a grown-up?

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“It’s because you’re a millennial! You don’t know how to do anything for yourself!” – The Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers will yell.

Millennials are constantly jostled back and forth in the media between arguments that we’re “overly-confident and entitled” and claims that we have no “soft skills.” We are depicted as social media gurus adept at making ourselves look cooler than we are, when in reality we have achieved nothing of value. But is that true? Are we really as incompetent as articles about our generation suggest? And is it fair to berate a younger generation for its lack of experience?

I don’t have an answer yet. I think the competencies my friends and I possess are different than the competencies we’ve grown up perceiving as true adulthood – making us feel like we don’t measure up.

But what is ‘true adulthood’ supposed to look like anyway? Personally, I imagine someone with authority – older than me, rarely unsure about how to handle scenarios like using an ironing board or signing a lease. Someone with furniture that matches and a refrigerator with an ice machine. Someone who is an expert at their job. I envision a person that exudes stability and world know-how. This sounds like a sit-com character.

But seriously, how do anxiety-ridden 20-somethings like me contrast with the ideal adult above? For one thing, I don’t know how to use an ironing board. I hang clothes in the steamy bathroom during a shower and hope for the best. I also still shop at Forever 21 which probably heavily weights me in the non-adult camp. I don’t have furniture that matches. I have whatever furniture was cheap or free. I had to Google “things to know when signing a lease” because I felt naive (and DC real estate hunting is scary). I lack expertise and know-how on many world topics. Am I a fake adult?

I typically end my posts with recommendations and answers for others, but this time I’m asking you – what is a Real Adult? Why don’t I feel like one? Will I ever?

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below or here – Follow-up post with your answers to come!