Fangirl Moment

Last week was busy but great! I was thrilled to find out that Dr. Barnard was coming to Fargo to give a plant based lecture and do a book signing at Barnes and Nobles one night and another integrated lecture for the new food co-op opening at the Fargo Theater the next night. We attended both and I had many fangirl moments as if he were some kind of famous actor! M thought I was hilariously ridiculous but that’s just how much I love these doctors that have helped change our lives. He was totally inspiring to listen to while being funny, gracious, and empowering all at once. I’m so thankful M bought me a physical copy of The Cheese Trap so that I could meet Dr. Barnard and get my copy signed! In recognition of Dr. Barnards work especially in his devotion to riding the world of fat and salt and hormone filled diary cheese, we made some wonderful WFPB cheese meals. It also just happened to be national mac and cheese day so we had to participate in this delicious day just in a new and healthy way.

I felt supremely special because he had signed all the others that I had seen with, “best wishes” and mine says “with very best wishes”….he likes me best 😉

I just bought this adorable cook book at Target for $5 and have finally started the process of writing down recipes from all of my hundreds of Facebook saves.

Whole foods plant based macaroni and cheeze sauce with so steamed asparagus for a pop of bright color and flavor and panko for crunch.

Whole foods plant based spinach and artichoke dip! This was a very yummy version and we had to stop ourselves from eating it all in one sitting.

I only have one week left of work for the summer before a couple week break before school starts up again. I can’t wait to have more time. I want to get more things done around the house and cook and meal plan a whole bunch more. I really love having things in the freezer ready for reheating because cooking on weeknights isn’t always realistic for me. Writing down all these recipes will be nice finally too so that I have an easy go to without making sure my phone is charged up and then unlocking it a million times during the cooking process or restarting the page. Electronics are great for recipe finders but cooking recipes from your phone has been a real pain. I’ve also donated all my old SAD cooking books and now the only thing you’ll find in my cupboards are vegan or whole food plant based ones.

I hope summer is treating you all well and that you find some time for yourselves as well!

Plant Based Plates

We’ve eaten so much scrumptious food since going plant based. Sometimes it does include vegan junk food, but majority of the time it is plant based with some (or a lot depending on the day) oil. Each of these pictures has a story that goes with it but as time continuously marches on I can’t give them each their due justice so I will have to settle for parade of just the pictures. As always I just want to add that we honestly don’t miss meat, cheese, milk, eggs, or butter. We do miss the convenience of living in a world where our main food lifestyle is shared with the masses. Going to restaurants, family functions, and even grocery stores is a constant battle of being prepared in advance so that we know we’ll have food we can eat. We miss going to any restaurant in any city and sitting down to look at the menu and then deciding what to eat instead of calling ahead or looking at their website to see if they can even accommodate our choices. We will always miss that convenience but we don’t miss the food because the food we eat now is just as tasty! To prove that point scroll down for the pictures. 🙂

Thank Goodness For Winter 

I love summer. I love the thick green landscape, the shade provided by a big leafy cottonwood tree, the sound of the leaves blowing on a warm summer day, the glorious sunsets over a calm Minnesota lake, the warmer tones of my skin, the easy wardrobe of shorts and tank tops and flip flops, the long daylight hours, and patio suppers we have. But have you noticed how hard it is to truly appreciate these things when you are in the middle of your summer schedule? There’s one thing after another to do and be done and that’s all on top of day to day living like cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and grocery shopping. I forced myself to carve out some time to write a blog post because I fear it will be the only one I have time for in July. Summer is not for the faint of heart! You are so busy making the most of your summer and the precious few months you get of it that it passes by in such a quick blur you have no time to stop and appreciate why you love it so much in the first place. And that’s why I say thank goodness for winter because as cold and dark as it can get it gives you the opportunity to remember and reflect on those summer memories that happened too fast. 

Chaotic Summer Breaks

Oh my goodness I have barely had a moments peace lately. I haven’t had a summer job for the past few summers because of M’s scuba diving school, moving into a new home, and wedding planning so I’m a little out of practice. Also, what I thought was going to be a no stress job actually does have stress but I think that’s more my personality type rather than the job description but who knows. I spend my evenings worrying about my kiddos and trying to plan activities that are authentic and engaging. The management style is not quite to my liking either I prefer to be way more organized. I still really enjoy what I am doing just didn’t expect for work to come home with me as much as it has and also how tired I am after work. The kids aren’t the only ones in the hot sun playing and running. On top of that M is in the middle of switching jobs and interviews and quitting and he needs a lot of help prepping for questions and shopping for outfits, and just the general talking through of his hopes and desires for our future and which position to take. We’ve also been on the road for summer trips with our nieces and graduation parties out of town. Last on my stress radar is our pets and the amount of money we are spending on them. We also added a new member to the family last night. We have a new cat named Wink (he only has one eye…get it?). The process of introducing Wink to Snickers is long and arduous but I really hope it pays off in the long run and they become the best of friends. 

We have not done a good job of eating whole foods plant based. We maintain a vegan lifestyle and continue to explore what’s available to us in that aspect. I haven’t cooked in many many days. We had a big trip planned for our birthday next weekend but we are both so overwhelmed with all the balls in the air we canceled it and are staying home to recharge and slow down. I will miss seeing my family and friends for my birthday and being alone on your bday is no fun. But maybe I’ll just go downtown and drink my stress and misery away since it’s my last 20’s bday haha. 

The one thing I have been pretty good at is walking Jackson every day. For one thing he needs it for his therapy and healing and for another it’s a little bit of time to just quiet the chaos of life. 

Mosquitoes, Woodticks, and Bears, Oh My!

We’ve been on the go a lot lately and have a lot of changes taking place right now so I haven’t had much time or energy to write a new post. But I wanted to make sure and get an update in with this long weekend. 

M and I decided to go camping this weekend and we wanted to check off another state park from our list and there weren’t many that had any open campsites except for ones way up north. So we decided to go to Hayes Lake State Park Friday through Monday. I had been preparing for weeks on what to bring for vegan camping foods. Camping foods used to be lots of eggs, bacon, burgers, hobo dinners, hotdogs, popcorn, and corn on the cob. I was really worried we (especially M) would miss these camping staples and would slightly sour our trip. However, I didn’t have to worry about because I came prepared and we had fabulous food all weekend. Birthed of us had any long lost yearnings because we were full and satisfied with what I brought. Now keep in mind on the healthy scale it’s no where near the McDougall plan but it also wasn’t bacon. We think camping is a time to enjoy life and enjoy treat foods. 

We arrived at the park around 5:30 and as M went to check us in I rolled down the windows to take in the sounds and smell of the forest. I had the windows open for less than a full minute before the car was filled with no less than 40 mosquitoes. I immediately rolled the windows back up and starting slapping them away. Suddenly camping seemed like a terrible idea and we were now 3 hours from home. As we drove from the park office the ranger made sure to tell us, “hope you brought mosquito spray!” Yeesh.

We pull into our campsite, get out to look around, and decide the best placement for the tent. There were so many mosquitoes!! We quickly did a very light spritz of mosquito spray because we hate smelling like bug spray nearly as much as we hate getting bitten. As we started to unpack and settle in though we noticed we weren’t really being bitten. They were all over our bodies and in the air but for whatever reason didn’t seem to be bitting. We were able to set up camp including a rain tarp over the picnic table in no time. M did find two ticks on him in the time it took to set up and I was worried we’d be crawling with them by the end of the weekend but despite the early warning signs right off they were much like the mosquitoes and left us alone for the most part. 

We decided to take a break and make a fire and heat up supper. I had made tun-no casserole that morning to reheat on the fire. It was the recipe from Forks Over Knives but I added crushed potato chips on top 😬 but for the record I did that with the original tuna version too…I like crunchy things. It was very very good if I do say so myself. I will be making it again sometime but hopefully I can find something to replace the chips that is a better option.

Tun-no casserole…we give big thumbs up to this recipe

Next, we decided to take a driving tour around the park. We ended up down a long bumpy quiet gravel road near a secluded cabin and we were about to get out and walk around when we saw a black bear amble by! We took a video of it and when I turned it off then a brown bear walked by too! It was pretty exciting but suddenly I was no longer jealous of the campers staying in the private cabin on their own lake, (I’d be too nervous to go to the bathroom at night haha). 

That night around the fire we made vegan s’mores from cinnamon graham crackers, dark chocolate, and vegan marshmallows (side note, I’m so thankful we have a Natural Grocers in town to be able to find items like this).  They were super delicious!

It ain’t camping if there is t s’mores

Saturday morning was beautiful and we started the day with a walk around the lake and bog. 

Hayes Lake
Then we headed back to camp for a pancake breakfast. We had Arrowhead Mills Multi-grain pancake mix with bananas and pure maple syrup. After our meal we did th dishes, played cards, and decided a late morning nap would be perfect. We left Jackson outside the tent on his long line happily soaking up the sun and smells. After our rest I get up to find Jackson tangled in the woods laying in some tall grass. A half hour later we found big red dots on his belly and groin. Thankfully this has happened to him once before so I didn’t panic quite as much as I did the first time. But we needed some Benadryl which of course we didn’t have and the nearest town was almost an hour away. We had originally planned to head up that way the next day to visit another state park nearby so we just decided to go then and on the way stop for meds. 

After getting Jackson on the path to wellness again we made it to Zippel Bay State Park. This park had a beautiful beach and we were there just as the sun peaked through the clouds. We had a great time splashing in the shore and skipping rocks.

Super happy pup

When we got back to camp we started making supper which I was a little nervous about. Hobo dinner is my husband’s meal. This one of about three meals that he preps and cooks and loves. Usually it’s made with sliced potatoes, ground beef, onion, butter, and shredded cheese. M bought some ground veggie “meat” in place of the beef for his and since I’m not a huge meat fan to begin with I just skipped it. We had potatoes, carrots, onion, and mushroom as the base. Then we each seasoned it to our liking and sprinkled (because a little goes a long way) a bit of Mexican style Daiya on top. We did use some vegan butter as well so that it wouldn’t stick to the foil packet. Then we tossed them on the grill and hoped for the best. The result was really really good! I was actually surprised at how well the turned out. I can’t wait to have them again. I made some corn on the cob as a side which pair s nicely too. 

Vegan hobo dinners, our new favorite

The next day we woke up to nice weather but rain fast approaching. We decided to pack up and go home a day early. We were having a great time but I did not feel like packing up in the rain the next day, then going home and setting everything back up just to dry out again before packing it all away a second time. We just don’t have that kind of time this week. For that reason and a few others we decided to leave early but in exchange would take our time getting home and visit the remaining three state parks in the Northwest corner of MN. We are a quick breakfast of Panda Puffs cereal with almond milk and got going. 

First on the list was Lake Bronson State Park. This park was a bit more modern with paved roads and bike trails. They also had a fun observation tower and a dam in the park.

We did a bit more walking and driving around before heading to Old Mill State Park. This park had an old flour mill and home to see as well as some fun bridges and a beautiful picnic area. We stopped to have lunch and play a round of cards before moving on. 

Picnic lunch at Old Mill State Park

Lunch was soy dogs and brats with corn on the cob and homemade vegan potato salad. The soy dogs are ok, we need to try another brand before making our final verdict on them. The potato salad instantly became M’s favorite of all time. It has a lot of dill in it which he really appreciates. 

Vegan potato salad

Finally we swung through Red River State Recreation area in East Grand Forks. There isn’t much to do here except camp so it was a quick stop just to be able to cross it off the list. 

We are back home now and just getting ready for the week ahead. I start my new summer job this week and M is in the process of switching jobs as well. I just wanted to sum up by saying that if you are open to changes and you plan ahead vegan camping is just as enjoyable as non-vegan camping. And as we took in so much natural beauty over the weekend I was grateful to have learned and taken action in helping to preserve the environment by avoiding animal foods. Positive stuff!

Pizza, Pills, and Automobiles

Ah life. It always balances itself out. Last weekend was my delightfully sappy “perfect weekend” post. This weekend it’s filled with frustration and annoyance within our house. Jackson is home and the perfectionist in me wants him to heal perfectly and if it’s not done the correct doctors ordered way I get irritated but I also don’t want to do it all on my own because it’s too much. And M forgot to take all of his meds for the past week practically so his sleeping has been way off along with his mood. So if you think that our relationship is all sunshine and roses don’t forgot that it’s still real life over here. But today is World Laughter Day so we put on some New Girl to laugh away the grumpies.

On the food and weight loss end though we did have a good weekend despite watching some cable at a friend’s house. We don’t have cable and rarely watch live tv. Therefore we don’t get all the commercial bombardment. Ugh it’s so frustrating to see fast food and pop (soda to you weird people 😉) advertised nonstop. And ironically enough the very next commercials are usually some kind of pill promotion. Eat a standard American diet and you will need a mouthful of pills. I wish that farming and produce and yoga had tv commercials. I swear the only ads I see on tv are either pizza, pills, or cars. I only watched tv for an hour but I lost count of how much was being pushed at me and trying to trigger cravings. Luckily I was able to stick to our food plan for the weekend.

M is down a total of 41 pounds! That’s all together from when we first started the Wild Diet. And I bought a size smaller pair of shorts although to be fair they are mostly elastic waist banded but whatever! I’ve made some excellent meals this weekend and bought a lot of great produce. Dish up!

Back bean wild rice burgers, Pacific vegetarian baked beans, and oil-free hash browns.
Weekend snack bowl
Eating that rainbow! 🌈
Not sure how appealing this looks in the picture but this Spanish rice cauliflower taco bowl rocked my world! So good!

Tune Up

Well time to fess up. I didn’t do a Mary’s Mini Mini this week. I’ve had too much stress and hustle and bustle this week. I know I can’t always blame food choices on business because we all have that in our lives but for me the last thing I want to do after a crazy day is spend a ton of time in the kitchen. 

However, I did weigh myself this morning and wasn’t happy with the 2 pound backwards progress. I know that 2 pounds can fluctuate easily for me and I’m by no means freaking out over it but it was a little reminder to be more conscientious of my choices. Yes we are on a modified McDougall plan until June but that should mean working towards full compliancy not giving ourselves free passes (which we have been doing too often lately).  For example I’ve had way too much oil popped popcorn the past two weeks but thankfully I am out of popcorn seeds and told M to make sure and not let me buy anymore. I don’t know how to say no to popcorn so why even have it around? We’ve also been eating at the vegan cafe a lot (seriously the food there is so good) but instead of ordering the fruit with our sandwich we’ve had fries. I’ve also noticed my facial hair has been coming in more again so that’s another self-check to tighten up my food choices. 

With that being said for breakfast today I had Grape Nuts with a splash of unsweetened cashew milk and raisins, and a handful of blueberries. For lunch I had a Dr. McDougall cup of noodles and hummus with veggies. For supper the pièce de résistance was spaghetti and wheatballs (one of my favorite meals) with a side salad. I also made sure to get my two cups of spearmint tea in today to help the facial hair. 

Thank God for these when I’m in need of compliant food fast!

Today was another crazy day. Between work, Jackson’s vet appointment, roofing contractor meetings, and a home visit from our PATH social worker it was a lot. The good news is Jackson is now back home with us and so far his healing is going well. We are forever grateful to all of the amazing doctors, techs, and staff at Casselton Veterinarian Clinic. There’s nothing like the comfort of knowing he’s receiving the best quality care. It took a long time to pick him up because so many people wanted to say goodbye to him. They love him nearly as much as we do. The bad news is I forgot just how much work I’m really in for with his recovery for the next four weeks or so. It consists of a controlled very short walk (distance will double each week), side steps in each direction 10 times, 10 sit to stands (has to be proper sitting not tucking his leg under him which he does a lot so this takes a while to get him to sit correctly), then we come inside for a 10 minute massage, then it’s range of motion exercises, flex and stretch exercises, followed by 10-15 minute icing. We do that whole rigamarole three times a day! I’m already over it after one day. To keep him interested I bought special (read expensive) dog treats that he can eat with his food allergies and of course he won’t eat them!! He thinks I’ve got pills in them, he gives me a very suspicious side glare. I just have to remember to stay positive. Things could be worse and as they say this too shall pass. 

Our broken baby back at home on his favorite bed. We gave him some cone free time before bed which he enjoyed by curling up real small.