Santa Cruz Adventures

Hiking Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

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Last weekend my parents came down to visit me at school to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It also happened to be the day UC Santa Cruz was having their organic plant sale and so of course my mom wanted to stop by and “take a look.” Which means we were there for two hours. Some people spend hours clothes shopping, some in bookstore…for my mom it’s nurseries and plant sales. It’s awesome that all of the money goes back to supporting my campus’s organic farm.

By the time she finished making her purchases my dad and I were starving for breakfast so we headed straight to the Windmill Cafe. It’s a really cute tiny cafe that serves vegan options like V&GF waffles and tofu scrambles. They also have a large selection of vegan and GF baked goods.


While we finished up breakfast we tried to decide what we wanted to do during the day and ended up settling on a hike! Hiking is pretty much my favorite thing to do, probably because it feels like an adventure. We headed to Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and after driving through some bumpy dirt roads we finally arrived at the parking lot.

We poured over the trail maps and decided on trying to hike to the falls (about a 6 mile hike).

It was absolutely beautiful on the trails!

The best part of hiking is feeling completely separate from the busy world. No wi-fi. No cars or busy roads. Just peace and quiet. It was also nice that it was a hikers only trail so we didn’t have to worry about any bikers whizzing past.

The hike wasn’t just easy-peasy. There were quite a bit of hills and we accidentally went a bit off path so we ended up climbing across some logs back to the trail. All part of the fun though! We also spotted some banana slugs (my mascot)!

Their actually kind of cute! Haha. I hardly ever see them on campus even though they’re our mascot so it was cool to spot at least 5 on our adventure. We didn’t actually reach the falls because there were some logs across the path that couldn’t be climbed over and the trail seemed to collapse into the stream after that so we headed back.

We stopped for a snack break on the way back and I enjoyed a pineapple ginger V&GF muffin we had picked up that morning from Windmill Cafe.

On the way back we were starting to feel our tired feet and I checked the Health App on my phone to see how far we had walked. 5 miles already! Apparently the length on the map was a little of because we ended up hitting 7 miles by the time we got back to the parking lot and had climbed 30 flights of “stairs” (hills) according to the app.



The hike was just what we all needed. Some family time without phones and distractions, plus it’s great exercise. I really enjoy hiking as a form of exercising because it feels like fun, not work.



I can’t wait to go back! I could spend every day hiking and be happy.

My First Time Leafleting + Earth Day

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This past week for Earth Day, Banana Slugs for Animals set up a giant tarp sent to us by Peta2 on the lawn by the Humanities building at UC Santa Cruz. The tarp was 20×30 feet and represents the size of the rainforest cut down every 1/10th of a second for meat production! We also passed out flyers about the environmental impacts of our food choices. It’s frightening when you get down to the nitty gritty facts about our food system and that’s why it’s so important that we all do our part and try to make a change.

This was my first time leafleting and so I had a mixture of emotions. I was excited to hopefully hand someone information that might change their mind about what they eat or at the very least get them thinking, but I was also nervous that someone might get angry or confrontational because emotions run high when discussing our food system. Luckily most people were pretty receptive and it was kind of cool to see people do a double take when they realized what the tarp represented.11215988_901399029926368_877332714_n

One professor was passing us and he stopped when he saw our sign, rummaged in his bag and then passed me a paper and said “This is what we’re reading in my class today.” It was all about the environmental affects of eating animals! Pretty cool. He even invited us into his class to talk to his students about our food choices and what we were advocating for.

We also held a screening of Cowspiracy that night and though we only got a few people to show up, those that did seemed genuinely interested. We also served vegan popcorn and cookies so those that came got to enjoy some yummy snacks! I love that documentary. It’s so powerful and I encourage everyone to see it. We need to start changing now in order to keep our planet habitable.


Earth week was so awesome on campus because there was vegan options everywhere and lots of talks happening about our food system. It should be like that all the time! Hopefully one day it will be.

Here’s a little Earth day inspiration and humor:



Saturdays in Santa Cruz+ Coconut, Almond, Pistachio Granola Recipe

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Every other Saturday morning I get up early, grab breakfast and rush out to the bus stop to make my way downtown. I spend my Saturday mornings volunteering at the Downtown library with the Tails to Tales program. It’s a really sweet program where kids read to service dogs and promotes literacy. A lot of kids may not feel comfortable reading to adults or other children, so this provides an opportunity for them to practice and enhance their skills in a nonjudgmental environment

Overall it’s just a wonderful way to begin my weekend and get out of the apartment nice and early! This Saturday after I finished volunteering I ran some errands around downtown and then begin to feel the hunger bug striking and was craving a nice big salad with lots of fixings. Of course Cafe Gratitude could fix that!


And since it was so sunny I ordered it to go and enjoyed it at a table outside!


Their I am Fulfilled salad loaded with beets, carrots, avocado, almond parmesan, and teriyaki almonds with a raw carrot flax cracker and goji chipotle dressing! With a small carrot, pear, ginger juice. I love that they source local and organic ingredients and everything is vegan!

The day was simply too nice to waste so before I headed home I decided to take a nice long walk out along Westcliff Drive. My favorite view in Santa Cruz! Plus it’s always fun to watch the surfers on these really sunny breezy days!


Today the water was full of surfers and Westcliff Drive was populated with bikers and dog walkers ๐Ÿ™‚


I got about an hour of reading in before I walked back to catch a bus up to campus. It was wonderful to soak in some sun and watch the ocean waves. I’m committing myself to going out here at least once a week for the rest of the school year. I have this beautiful view at my fingertips! Why waste it?

Now on to the granola! I LOVE whipping up a batch of homemade granola to have on hand during the week. it’s super simple and fun to experiment with whatever I have on hand! This week I made Coconut, Almond, Pistachio Granola

  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup almond and pistachios
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup agave or pure maple syrup Image

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Then add in oil, almond butter, and sweetener of choice and mix well!

Pour onto a baking sheet (I use silicone baking sheets when I make granola, but parchment paper would work!)


Bake for between 12-20 minutes checking about every 5 minutes and stirring on pan until golden brown! Allow to cool completely before moving into a storage container.ย ImageImage

Great on top of non dairy yogurt, sprinkled on top of smoothies, or even eaten with some almond milk and fresh fruit! Or straight out of the container as I often do


Favorite Places.

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I’ll just say it. I love food, specifically organic, local, homegrown food. So it’s no surprise one of my favorite places to go is the Farmer’s Market. I try to keep my schedule open so that every week I can got to the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons, try meaning that when it comes time to pick classes for next quarter I schedule them around keeping my Wednesday afternoons free.

Yes. I’m that person. But there’s just something so incredible about connecting with local farmer’s who grew the food with love and care that you will later eat.

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It’s also a fun way to discover new foods! This week I tried my first guava! It was delicious and probably not something I would have tried if the farmer at his fruit stand hadn’t suggested it. Not only are all the free samples at the farmer’s market super awesome and delicious, but they’re also an example of the pride those who grew them take in their fruit and produce.

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It’s pretty special to be in a place where those around me love and appreciate food as much as I do! Not only for it’s deliciousness but also for the way it enriches and fuels our life.

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After the Farmer’s Market I hit up Cafe Gratitude for a smoothie before heading back to campus. I cannot rave about Cafe Gratitude enough! I just love it. The people, the ambiance, the delicious vegan food! I love how creative they are in coming up with dishes and I want to learn all of their vegan culinary secrets. I ended up walking out with their special smoothie of the day: I am Fruitful. Pear, dates, house made almond milk, and vanilla. (P.S. if you’ve never tried popping 1-2 dates in your smoothie try it now! You won’t be disappointed )


I ogled over their raw dessert case while I waited for my order.


As soon as I got back to the apartment I promptly started heating up the stove to roast the beautiful beets I picked up at the farmer’s Market.


Orange Roasted beets are one of my favorites so I got to chopping. The recipe is actually pretty simple!

Orange Roasted Beets

3 large red beets peeled and chopped

2-3 tbsps fresh squeezed orange juice(this time I actually used a mandarin orange so slightly sweeter)

1 tbsp Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tbsp extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix beets with orange juice, ACV, and EVOO. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and pour beets and marinade onto it. Place in oven and roast for about 35-40 minutes or until beets are easily pierced by fork.

I love these! and Usually make a lot, then store in a Pyrex container to add to salads or eat straight out during the week! They are also great dipped in hummus.


They also smell great while roasting. I can smell mine right now. Mhmm. They should get me through a long night of reading for my classes. Speaking of reading I should get to it!

*Make time to check out your farmer’s market if your not already a regular at them. They are pretty special places ๐Ÿ™‚