Monday, June 24, 2013

A Recipe Rundown

The more my family eats "close to the ground" as we like to call it, the more our taste buds adapt. About two weeks into eating a mostly plant based diet, it felt like we were just using the same few ingredients and changing up the presentation. It started to seem bland, but we stuck it out. About a month into our new way of eating, our taste buds drastically changed. The flavors of every. single. spice and vegetable began to explode in our mouths.

We noticed that canned goods tasted extremely salty. One day I made taco soup from canned veggies thinking it was all natural and healthy for my family - it had been a favorite for years. My husband took one bite, looked up and said "Did you put salt in this?" I hadn't. Even our children noticed the saltiness in canned goods, at restaurants.

With the help of some who have gone before us and been gracious enough to post yummy recipes online, we are learning to season with real herbs and spices, no chemically laced products nor table salt.

If you want to try plant based eating, it's worth sticking it out. Give it at least a month and see if you don't feel better. See if you don't notice an explosion of flavor when you start consuming more real food instead of food-like-products. There's no better time to start than now, while gardens are in full bloom!

Here's a rundown of some recent recipes we've tried that we have truly enjoyed:

Wild Rice Tacos, Engine 2 Diet

Creamy Alfredo Sauce, Engine 2 Diet

Sweet Potato Lasagna, Engine 2 Diet

Baked Banana Wontons with Coconut Caramel Sauce, Oh My Veggies

Pad Thai, Savory Sweet Life  (This one is my favorite Pad Thai at home!)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


In honor of my 14th wedding anniversary, I must say how very proud I am of my husband. The Lord has orchestrated so many changes in this imperfect, yet beautiful man I call my husband.

Through the past 14 years, he has grown as a man, a father, a husband, a musician and in so many other ways.

The most recent changes I've noticed since he started eating a plant based diet....

     Notice the man on the left. Sitting. Watching tv. Inactive.

     The man on the right has lost 66 lbs and is active. . .eating lots of nutrient rich food and moving throughout his day. not looking-for-the-next-chance-to-sit-moving. He's taken up golf again (for real this time) and building things - like a studio in the basement for income opportunities, and furniture for me: a desk, a foyer table, and plans for a headboard!  This man is alert and working harder than ever before to provide for our family. He is awakening to new ways to make our life better. He is more productive, more aware, doing more, seeing more, thinking more. M.O.R.E.

Changes are evident inside and out.

Shane's weight loss has affected many aspects of our lives, his, mine and the children. We all feel more secure in the day to day. I know every breath we take is a gift and our days are numbered, but when he was heavier, I feared the worst. every day. every phone call. every day waking up with is-he-still-breathing-worry.

We just got back from the beach and before the focus was always "What's for dinner? (at a restaurant). Many hours away from the restful beach and many dollars later all we had were full bellies and lazy spirits. This time, we ate out once for our anniversary and once on the way home. This time, there was parasailing and jet skiing, running and splashing. We came home with memories made!

Each of us are forever being reformed by our Creator. I am thankful and honored that He has given me this life to live with Shane. Thankful He is reforming our family. I am grateful for the reformation inside and out and look forward to making new memories every day we are given together!

Happy anniversary Babe! I love you and am so very, very proud of you! Here's to more adventures (and maybe next time I won't be such a scaredy cat)!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Substitute

When my newest little lady was three months old, she had some tummy issues. It turned out that she was having an allergic reaction to the dairy, soy, beef and eggs in my diet. First, I eliminated dairy. I felt deprived while my family ate three meals a day loaded with the richness of cheese and cream. Then there was the elimination of soy, which is in (almost) eveRRRything! Eliminating beef tacos and meatloaf was rough - at first. Saying "adios" to eggs, now that was painful.

Now my coffee-nobody could mess with my coffee. It had taken me most of my adult life to discover exactly how I like my coffee and my eldest and my husband were gracious to learn to serve up my cup o' joe just how I liked it. Coffee was and is my "Calgon take me away" - even when the kids are all talking at once and bouncing off the walls on a rainy day, toys around my feet, hands tugging on my trousers-escape moment. 

Much to my dismay, I had to say goodbye to the half and half which was my everyday splurge of fat and creamy goodness in my coffee. I tried every.thing. Hate the powdered stuff anyway and it claims to be "non-dairy," but clearly has dairy ingredients. I tried each type of non dairy milk, soy, almond, coconut. You name it, I tried it! (except the online only expensive stuff). I found the small containers of specialty dairy free creamers too expensive for my multiple-cups-a-day habit. So I got creative and started blending different types. (At this point, our family consumed about five different varieties of milk products.) And, finally, I landed on a blend of coconut milk and vanilla almond milk. Not an exact match, but tolerable...enjoyable.

Once my baby started getting better there was no more projectile vomiting (sorry), very little spitup and a much happier tummy. baby weight, which has always waited until exactly 9 months postpartum to melt off, left me at about 6 months.

Thankfully, my baby's allergy went away and I was able to reintroduce everything back into my diet. However, my palate had changed.  My three times a day half and half addiction habit was overpowering my tastebuds. So, back to my homemade creamer concoction I trotted.

Now that my husband, and gradually I and the children have shifted to a mostly plant based diet, I have even switched from refined sugar to honey. My palate is enjoying the goodness, I don't get the shakes an hour after my coffee and I really do enjoy my cup o' joe escape Every. Day.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

One of the biggest differences in our new lifestyle is that it requires more time in the kitchen. More prep work. Also, more opportunity for all hands on deck in the kitchen. We're getting ready to head to the beach for some much needed R&R, so I went ahead and prepared a meal the night before. A Pinterest find, chilled Chopped Thai Chicken Salad by Pinch of Yum.

Usually I am a by-the-book, follow the rules girl, but with recipes, I have a little rebellious streak. The funny thing is that my husband loves to stretch the boundaries in the everyday, but when he cooks, he follows a recipe to the letter and often gets flustered watching me cook.

So with this yummy recipe, I was flexible.

The differences in what I made and the recipe:
I left out the chilis, sugar and papaya, and since my husband is eating a 99.99% vegan diet now, I set aside some for him before adding the chicken. I suppose a hard core vegan would leave out the fish sauce too, but I didn't and you'll be sorry if you did! I also used a whole rotisserie chicken since I'm feeding five little mouths.

I stole a bowl a bite or two after I prepared it and even before the flavors had a chance to meld, it was delish!

My six year old walked into the kitchen, saw the chopped veggies and said "Mommy, it's SO pretty!"   Yes, Real Food IS pretty!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Our New Feast - Upside Down Polenta Pie

Our latest venture is the new FEAST in our home, a brand new way of eating! I didn't even consider blogging about it until week after week, day after day, friends far and near started asking "What are you feeding him?!"

I remember being in the hospital after the birth of our son and worrying about my husband's health and growing waistline. I resolved myself to not nag, but to pray, and pray I have for the past ten years. Laying awake at night, I would wait for him to breathe.  I'd watch him pant after small tasks, and hear the pantry doors open and the chip bags rustle nightly, well after I had gone to bed.

Fast forward ten years and many pounds added to my groom - I was discouraged and fearful that our time would be cut short from health issues and I was losing the battle of teaching our children to make wise eating choices.

For only reasons I can attribute to God's work in his heart and mind, we ended up watching a couple of food documentaries : Hungry For Change and Forks Over Knives and a change began. My husband was approaching his 40th birthday and overnight, really, started eating food - REAL food, not "food like products." From the end of January to the end of April he lost about 50 pounds! And as of today has lost 65 pounds without "dieting!"  The kids and I have also changed our eating habits and aren't quite as stringent as he, but we are eating more plants, very little meat and are well on our way in the process of cutting out dairy as well. We're not counting calories and fat grams, we're simply eating as close to the ground as we can and, quite frankly, we eat a lot!

As often as I am able, I will attempt to answer the "What are you feeding him?!" questions I am so often asked by sharing our recipes and details of this new adventure. I'll try to do better with the photos, but this one got gobbled up before I could snap a good one!

First up, my take on this Polenta Pie recipe by Two Peas and Their Pod and Bev Cook.

Basically, I flipped this and made a dairy free version by amping up the veggies and sauce. Gobbled up by all!

Upside Down Polenta Pie

Tomato sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 large jar of tomato & basil store brand spaghetti sauce
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed
1 T dried basil
1 T teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of crushed red pepper
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Veggie Mixture:
2 med. zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 med. eggplant, chopped
1 med. red pepper, chopped Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season vegetables

1 cup polenta (look for yellow grits)
1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
2 cups water


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Chop veggies and place on large cookie sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Roast in oven for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, on med-high heat, sweat your onions and garlic (5-10 minutes).
Lower heat to low-medium and add other sauce ingredients. Simmer on low until the veggies are done.

4. While the sauce simmers and veggies are roasting, bring almond milk and water to a boil. Add polenta and whisk for about 5 minutes while it thickens.

5. Place roasted veggies in a 9"x13" casserole dish. Pour tomato sauce over the veggies. Next, Place spoonfuls of the polenta on top and spread evenly as best you can.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Enjoy!