Most Loved Recipes + Milestones of 2015

MOST-LOVED RECIPES
Based on readers’ favorites!

  1. Overnight Oats
  2. Chai Latte Nice Cream
  3. Butterbeer Macaroons
  4. Felix Felicis
  5. Soba Noodle Soup Bowl
  6. Kimchi & Tofu Lettuce Wraps
  7. Coconut Curry Quinoa
  8. Lunar New Year Celebration Bowl
  9. Green Pear Flatbread Pizza
  10. Bite-Sized Coconut Macaroon Nests

I think 2015 has been my best year in blogging yet. My photo skills have improved a lot, especially since I’ve increased my engagement on Instagram! These days, I’m really into microblogging there. Thank you so much for all the feedback about my content. It has helped me get better, and I’m so grateful to be sharing vegan food vibrantly for the world to see. To my fellow bloggers and creators–you inspire me every day! Thank you for being amazing.

I am particularly thrilled about how much everyone loved the Harry Potter recipe collab I did with The Plant Strong Vegan. I’m slightly bemused by the overwhelming popularity of the basic overnight oats recipe I did from 2014, but I hear you–they’re delish and simple! From this list, I think in 2016 I want to share more staple recipes, and some more recipes inspired by books.

I’m ready to hit the ground running in 2016, but as I am currently sick, I’ve had some time to compile my favorite milestones and highlights of 2015 to share with you. Thank you again for all the support and feedback. It means the world! Hugs hugs hugs 🙂

MILESTONES & HIGHLIGHTS OF 2015:

  1.  Vida Vegan Con III
    Perhaps my favorite event of 2015!

I finally got to go to Vida Vegan Con (the final one)! I can’t express enough how much this conference impacted and inspired me. I ate amazing vegan food, attended workshops with like-minded people, and met some of my vegan idols (Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack and Miyoko Schinner). By the end of the weekend, I met even MORE people to be inspired by, including Whitney Lauritsen (EcoVeganGal), Amey Mathews (Vegan Eats & Treats) , Michelle Lee (Boards & Knives), Yvonne Ardestani (My Eclectic Kitchen), Vince Lia (Healthy Vegan Guy), Ryan Patey (T.O.F.U. Magazine),  Ted Lai (Wok Wild Side), Kathy Peterson (My Best Year), Jessica Morris (Rabbit Food Grocery) and so many more that I can’t possibly name them all. Lifelong friendships were formed. Of course, I found myself crying at the end of the conference…but at least I got a hug from one of my vegan role models, cookbook author and badass, Terry Hope Romero.

Since I had the option of working remotely at the time (#blessed–thank you, Hampton Creek!), I actually stayed an extra two days after the conference so I could hang out with everyone more–that’s how much I loved the experience.

Connecting with other like-minded creators is one of the best ways to re-energize and get inspired. The founders (Jess Sconé, Janessa Philemon-Kerp, and Michele Truty) are such angels for organizing VVC. I can’t thank them enough for giving the vegan creative community such an incredible experience! I hope someone else carries on the tradition in some way in the future.

2. Local Vegan Community
It’s thriving! 

Recap of Dallas Vegan Pop Up No.1 | plantcrush.co

This isn’t a personal milestone, but it’s significant and has made 2015 special. I realized that the tangible passion and support I felt in the atmosphere at VVC lives on–in my wonderful, inspiring friends! I consider myself incredibly lucky to live in North Texas. The vegan community here is working together to make amazing things happen in what some would call an unlikely place for a vegans. Times are changing!

"Do something wonderful, people may imitate it." – A. Schweitzer This is a glimpse of my glorious break from studying this weekend–the @texasveggiefair in #Dallas! It was wonderful this year; I'm so glad I got to go even if I didn't get to stay as long as I would've liked! More than 10k people celebrated compassion in TX today! How inspiring is that?! The #positiveenergy was amazing. 💕 I ran into many wonderful friends (& completely missed seeing some 😢; we were on a schedule)! My BFF & I kept getting sidetracked when we had to head out, we couldn't resist saying hi to more friends & eating more things 😂 Tragically, I forgot my memory card so I didn't take many photos! But I played around w/my sister's GoPro & hopefully got enough footage for a fun montage to share soooon! 😱:) Did you go to #tvf2015?! What was your fave part?! 😍 I already can't wait for next year. Props to the hardworking organizers for making such a kickass event every time! ❤️

A post shared by Ann Mai (@plantcrush) on

Check out my recent recaps of local vegan pop ups (here, here and here) to get an idea of what’s brewing around here. Between the monthly Dallas Vegan Drinks, the annual TX Veggie Fair, the formation of DFW Vegan Movers & Shakers, and the birth of new ventures like The Harvest Hands and Compassionate Collective Co., the DFW vegan community is bound to grow and make more of an impact. These things are milestones for the community I’m so excited to be a part of.

3. Video Content
Testing the waters…

https://www.instagram.com/p/7MlZcticb-/?tagged=plantcrushvid

I’ve only played around with making a few small videos on Instagram (view them all here), but I have so many food video ideas, in the works and in my head! I cannot wait to get to work & make these happen in 2016.

4. Meditation Retreats
Mt. Shasta, California / Menton, France

I was lucky to get the chance to take some time off with my mom and my sister to go on a couple of meditation retreats. They really helped me clear my head and focus on what is important to me and my personal growth.

I enjoyed my time off the grid during these trips–I love social media, especially Instagram, but sometimes you need to take a break!

"The person you think of when you stand in front of the ocean. That’s the person you’re in love with." – Colleen Michele I can't tell you how liberating it was for me to stand alone at this beach in Nice, breath in the ocean air, not burdened by the thought of anyone. I surprised myself. Different kinds of heartaches have been plaguing me in waves, but at that moment I could not feel anything but peace. Moments like these are precious gifts. I am grateful. 🙂 #nothingisordinary #goodvibes #blessed Anyway…hellooo beautiful people!! It's been a while…I'm finally back! ☺️ Still super jet lagged but it's nice to be home! I had a much needed meditation retreat; I'm feeling so spiritually grounded. Now I'm working on my daily practice, claiming my personal time, and letting go of things that I can't control. I hope you're finding time to cultivate zen & self love in your own way! 🙏🏼 Pretty foodie posts coming up soooon!! 😉

A post shared by Ann Mai (@plantcrush) on

I always have so many reflections about these experiences. I’ve been hesitant to post about all my trips, since they are not all food-related, and the experiences are quite personal to me. But this year I want to share more of those experiences on my blog because they were beautiful and I hope they will serve to uplift others!

5. Collaborations
I got to work with two of my absolute FAVORITE vegan bloggers!

The Minty Anne / breakfast magic / LA

If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you might remember me posting a lot about my LA summer trip to hang out and collaborate with my soul sister, Krystle! We ate a lot of food and made some beautiful breakfasts–with tons of photos and even a couple of videos. My recipe collab with Krystle is still in progress at the moment (we’ve had to put school first, unfortunately!), but we cannot wait to share it with you in 2016. You will LOVE it.

The Plant Strong Vegan / Harry Potter magic / DFW

When Margaret and I first started talking, I was thinking to myself: finally, a friend I can share my Harry Potter and photography obsessions with! We instantly decided to do a Harry Potter recipe collab for Halloween. Needless to say, results were amazing. We made our own versions of Felix Felicis, Polyjuice Potion, and Butterbeer Macaroons, with a behind-the-scenes post with photo tips! We worked our asses off to make all those projects happen and we had such a blast doing it. I’m so glad you guys enjoyed those recipes–thank you for all the positive feedback!

It was such an honor to meet and work with two of the most creative and hard-working ladies I know. I loved every minute of these collabs and can’t wait to do more things and learn with wonderful people in the future.

6. Published Work
In two digital magazines!

CHAVA Magazine  / Summer 2015 Issue 

I contributed a minty matcha nice cream recipe to my friend’s digital zine! Check out the behind the scenes photos here, and get the recipe here! I especially love the teaser for my recipe on the front cover–“who needs Tinder when you can make ice cream instead?” Honestly…! 🙂

Definition Fitness Magazine / Fall 2015 Issue / Winter 2015 Issue

When my friend Christy Morgan (The Blissful and Fit Chef) needed a last-minute recipe photographer for Definition Fitness Magazine‘s Fall Issue, I reached out to her to offer my services. She welcomed me to the team and I got to shoot some delicious butternut squash pasta (recipe is in issue 7)!

After doing that, I asked to be a contributor to the magazine, which led to this beautiful spread…

Horizontal Spread3
Check out more photos here, and grab the recipes here! I’m quite happy with how the photos turned out and I want to play more with negative space in future photos.

Also, somewhat related to this category: I did my first community post on Buzzfeed! I was so excited about this. I think Buzzfeed is a great platform and I was so glad to share some of my favorite vegan content creators’ delicious recipes for Thanksgiving!

7. Grad School
I officially started my studies in landscape architecture!

Now you know why my posts have been so sporadic, and why I don’t get out much! Design school has become my life and I love it. I’m simply amazed at how much I learned in one semester and I’m looking forward to the rest of my studies. I really surprised myself in the fall–I learned that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for.

Studying landscape architecture is a huge aspect of my life that I have barely shared online, but I plan to change that. School really took over my life and I didn’t get to blog as much as I would have liked. I will be making time to blog more about my favorite school projects soon! I foresee a series of blog posts…:)

8. Vegan MoFo
My first time participating!

I’ve always wanted to sign up for Vegan Month of Food, but I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task of posting new vegan content daily for a whole month. As I was also starting my first studio class (intimidating!), it probably wasn’t the wisest decision. But I enjoyed the challenge and came up with some pretty fun responses to the prompts. Thank goodness for microblogging! I saw some of the prompts as open to interpretation. 🙂 You can check out my responses below, if you’re curious:

01 Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.
02 Recreate a meal from your childhood.
03 Quick, easy and delicious.
04 Tell us about a weird food combo that you love.
05 Best sandwich ever. 
06 Re-create a restaurant meal.
07 Make / eat some thing inspired by a book or film.
08 Reach out! Make a new vegan friend & tell us about it.
09 Most retro recipe.
10 Something blue.
11 Focus on a nutrient.
12 Tell us about your favourite cookbook!
13 It’s kitchen tour time!
14 Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan.
15 OMG, Barack Obama is coming over because he knows you make awesome vegan food! What are you going to make?
16 What’s your favorite late summer food? 
17 Make (or eat!) a traditional local dish.
18 Honor a human or non human animal who inspires your veganism.
19 Lunch on the go.
20 Veganize an old family recipe.
21 What three endless food supplies would you take if you were going to be stranded on an island? (Imagine your nutritional needs have been met, these are a bonus!)
22 Make a dish using all seasonal produce.
23 Autumn equinox eats.
24 What [insert well known personwould eat if they were vegan.
25 Share your favorite cuisine.
26 It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?
27 Favorite herb or spice?
28 Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?
29 What would you bring on a vegan road trip?
30 Fusion Challenge!

9. First Giveaway
hosted with Cykochik on Instagram!

I’ve been blogging for about 3 years now and this was my first giveaway ever! I was thrilled and honored when Cykochik approached me about doing a holiday giveaway. I’m so thankful I had that wonderful opportunity to give something back to my community of supporters, and I hope to do more things like this for my audience in the future!

9. Travel
Chicago / Austin / Portland / San Francisco / NorCal / France / LA / AustinCosta Rica

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0333.

Photo by my dear sis, Anna Mai. Taken during our Costa Rica trip.

I travelled so much in 2015–I still have a suitcase that’s not fully unpacked (I am terrible, I know)! Between traveling, working, grad school, and more traveling, I’ve been so immersed in life that I’ve only had the chance to post microblogs about each trip on Instagram. Portland was the exception–I wrote a full recap post about my Portland food adventures.

I am eager to share more travel photos, stories, sketches, and recipes inspired by all my travels! I’m thinking my travels can be shared in a series called Wanderlust Wednesdays…what do you guys think? I’d love your thoughts!

If you’ve read this far, I’ll be quite honest with you, I’ve had several personal lows here and there in 2015. I usually only focus on sharing the positive things I’m creating, and I’m not sure how much I want to (or need to) share about my low moments…perhaps because I’m still trying to let go of some things, so I can heal and cope inwardly first. My travels and meditation retreats have helped me a lot.

I know I will find even more peace and self-affirmation through expressing my experiences in photo essays, words and sketching.

Self-care should be prioritized, too–this is a reminder not only for myself, but for you as well. Here’s to a beautiful 2016, everyone! My goals are to live with more intent, create more, and learn as much as I can. Also I need to re-organize this site! Ha. Some of my other concrete goals are: save up for a good tripod (so I can make more food videos!), launch an online portfolio, master vegan macarons, and submit content to Chickpea Magazine.

What are your milestones from last year? Goals for this year? Let’s talk in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Most Loved Recipes + Milestones of 2015

  1. Kathy Peterman says:

    Great post of number one your gorgeous photos! That is always what pulls me in. Then I love your recipes and rich recounts of your experience. Thanks for a very fun, fruitful 2015 of posts!

    • missannmai | plantcrush.co says:

      Hi Kathy! Thank you for reading, and thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂 I am grateful I got to meet you at VVC in 2015, especially as I was still going through the emotional turmoil of my parents’ divorce. Thank you for being such a light! I am sure we will cross paths again in the future. 🙂

  2. ameyfm says:

    Oh Ann, you are just such a special person. Congratulations on such a full and enriching year… and on enduring past so many personal lows. I think it’s okay to mostly share positive stuff, but I also feel like it’s good to at least acknowledge the existence of life’s other experiences. In my experiences, acknowledging – even in passing – all the downs in life helps me feel like I am being more honest with myself as well as with my friends and readers. I look forward to hearing more about your meditation retreats, although it’s true that a lot of the ancient teachings discourage us from talking to others about such personal experiences. ❤ hugs to you.

    • missannmai | plantcrush.co says:

      Thank you so much, Amey! I agree–it is important to be honest, and acknowledge and accept the lows, and grow from them! I am so happy we got to connect at VVC. Thank you for being so friendly towards me at our first meeting–I’m pretty shy the first time around!
      I look forward to sharing a bit more about my retreats too! And I appreciate so much that you understand that some personal experiences like that are not to be shared. Not many understand why I don’t often share my meditation experiences. I think I will share more of the overall vibes (and photos of scenery) of my trips, instead of specific experiences, if that makes sense! 🙂 So much love and hugs to you, friend! ❤

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