It wasn't for lack of effort...

Five months, that's all I lasted. It happened one evening at a birthday BBQ, it was with an Omaha Steak burger. I knew once I took a bite that it would be a slippery slope, it was and it was worth that! Slowly but surely I integrated myself back into the standard American diet. And I will tell you something I feel relieved and free! I put more effort into going plant based than I have any other way of eating ever before. I would even say I gave it a valiant effort but five months is all I could do. I really thought that I was going to completely change my lifestyle forever. In the process I learned that it's really hard to completely change your lifestyle and your families along with it. Not to say that it cannot be done.

I was tired of being in a constant state of mourning for my old life. I thought I would move past it eventually and maybe I would have after more time, quite frankly I wanted to feel normal again. For me things just started to all add up together, I stopped losing weight, I was still in pain, not gout pain that was gone, but pain everywhere else, my passion for cooking was zapped, my love of baking no longer existed, I pretty much didn't want to be in the kitchen any more. That is not like me. When I first went plant based I looked at what I could have and not at what I couldn't have, but as I went on and on it started to be more about what I couldn't have and mostly about what I couldn't make for my family or enjoy with my family and friends. It was just difficult as time went on.

Last week I went shopping, standard American grocery shopping. It was weird, I hadn't realized that I had not shopped like that in so long. But it was nice because it's so easy. It was more expensive though, that's for sure. But we were also kind of starting over again so we needed more than normal. I even realized that I have never shopped at Costco as a non-vegan so that's going to be a fun experience. Better make a budget, yeah right it's Costco. Anyways, when I brought the food home and filled with fridge I felt comforted. I know, that's weird and probably very unhealthy but I did. I made the mistake of deleting every recipe I had on pinterest and replacing it with vegan options, so I have to start all over again. But, what do you do? I also have to relearn how to cook some things that I used to make, because I literally forgot.

I definitely do not feel like I failed in any way. I feel proud of myself that I was able to go as long as I did. It was a HUGE lifestyle change for me and I gave it everything I had, I changed what I ate, I read several books and did hours of research. It is a little hard now knowing what I know after reading The China Study and The Starch Solution and other books but life is so short as it is. I still don't know how I really feel about all of it. I'm torn, it's pretty much like most things in life, you know what's good for you but you do the bad thing anyways. I was never in it for the animals or environment. I'm also not saying I will never do it again. I'm just taking an indefinite break for now.

Going plant based did teach me about myself however. It taught me that I can do it in the future if I need to. At least for short periods of time. That life really does revolve around food. And that at this point in my life I want to make things easier not more complicated for myself. There I've come clean.

I also had my first cronut, a croissant deep fried and glazed like a donut. There are no words. The End.

Before Five in a Row: Katy No-Pocket

((Hannah is 4))
 ((Danny is 2))

 As of right now Katy No-Pocket is the last book we will be rowing this year. Not sure what we're going to be doing now but with summer right around the corner we might just take some time off and focus on lots of outdoor time. As I go on this journey I'm starting to realize some things. One is that Hannah needs activity time, two is that she gets bored with the same activities every week. She started getting really bored with the printable activities that go along with the books we are rowing. Even though they were different subjects and different activities she would get bored. This was tricky. I'm still trying to figure this out. I'm hoping that the preschool program that I've chosen will fix this. From reading it so far it looks like we're doing something different everyday. So besides focusing on outdoor time now, which the kids can never get enough of, I want to make sure Hannah is having some sort of book time and table activity still, they probably won't be related though like when rowing books.

On to Katy No-Pocket.

 Danny was really focusing on putting the pom poms into the bowls, it was so cute.

 Hannah painted the cover for the folder that will store this books activities.

 More cuteness, he just likes to flip the squares up and then swipe them all down with this hand, good for fine motor skills.

They wore their little aprons and you can't really see it but they have tools in the pockets like the nice man in the book.

 More play-doh and straws, so much fun, who knew?

 I put this whole book together for her, she was not interested at all, but once it was done she really enjoyed looking at the Daddy, Mommy and baby animals.

She also had fun naming the pictures on the cards. All in all it was a good week, I'm so glad we tried Before Five in a Row and I love the concept. I  might come back to it for Danny when he's a little older, but right now I think it's time to move on to a different style for learning time. I had planned on rowing through the summer so now that I've changed my mind I'm not sure what we will be doing.

Home Cooking Veganized: Creamy Tortilla Soup

Recently I posted a recipe that my family had fallen in love with. It was a chicken tortilla soup that tasted just like a recipe at a restaurant I used to eat at. It was amazing and my husband wanted it weekly. So when I changed my diet a few months back I was determined to figure out how to change the recipe to be healthier and plant-based. It ended up being much easier than I anticipated and it turned out great. Read ahead before you make this recipe so you don't forget to soak your cashews! However if you do forget, I've gotten away with soaking them in hot water for 30 minutes prior to making this.

Creamy Tortilla Soup

6 cups No-Chicken or Veggie Broth
1 15oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
1-2 small cans green chiles
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1 cup crushed Juanita's tortilla chips
1/4 - 1/2 cup rehydrated TVP (optional, textured vegetable protein, amount depends on how thick you want the soup)
1 tsp poultry seasoning (there is no poultry in poultry seasoning)
8 oz homemade cashew sour cream, I only use 1 tsp of lemon juice instead of 2
Garnish: Juanita's tortilla chips, green onions

The version I made in the pictures was actually without TVP, I completely forgot to add it in. It still turned out great! Really the TVP would just be for added protein.


To rehydrate the TVP, add equal amount of boiling water to equal amount of dry TVP. Add poultry seasoning and let sit while you start the soup.

In a large covered pot, add broth, tomatoes (with all the juice), green chiles, dried onion, cumin, pepper and Juanita's tortilla chips. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce to medium and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add already prepped TVP and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes until heated through. Remove pot from heat and stir in cashew sour cream until thoroughly incorporated.
To serve, top with crushed chips and green onions.

If you cannot find Juanita's tortilla chips in your local grocery store, look for a chip that is more authentic and is a "oilier, greasier" chip. 

Hope you enjoy! Be plant strong!

Veganizing Family Meals

The biggest question I had when changing my diet was "what in the world was I going to make for dinner that tasted good, was familiar but didn't have any animal products in it?". I knew during the days while the hubby was a work it would be easy, the kids will eat what I make but dinner was another story. We have certain associations with dinner especially comforting dinners and certain dinners on nights when my husband has had a rough day, he doesn't exactly want to come home to a salad. 

In the beginning I was making a ton of different recipes every day of the week and soon realized that this was getting expensive and taking too much time to plan, shop, make and not everything turned out so great. One night my husband mentioned doing the same meals every week. I thought this was a great idea, it would keep the cost down, I could start to perfect recipes and shopping would be much quicker and cheaper as I could stock up on items I was using weekly. So I came up with a simple plan that went like this.

Sundays - New Recipe
Mondays - Soup/Salad
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesdays - Italian
Thursdays - Asian
Fridays - Burgers and Home Fries (occasional vegan fast food)
Saturdays - Homemade Pizza & Salad (occasional vegan fast food or family gathering)

This might seem boring to some people but it worked for us. These were all pretty much comfort foods for us, were super easy to make and shop for. I highly recommend for any family transitioning or who wants to try it out to figure out how to veganize your favorite meals instead of trying a bunch of new foods, especially if you have a family, it could be too much too fast for them. Maybe just start with one meal a week. With a little research this was easier than I thought. The one thing I make sure to do for most meals is have a big salad before I eat the main dish. Even though the main dish is vegan and helps with weight loss and other health issues just by being plant-based I like to make sure I get a big portion of fresh veggies in with only a little dressing if I'm using a store bought plant-based dressing. This also helps tremendously with digestion which I'm finding is a huge key to weight release.

The best advice I have for beginning this lifestyle is keep it simple and take it slow. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the new products and how healthy you want to be. This lifestyle isn't about perfection or purity it is about living a life that is better for your health, animals and the environment. Educate yourself, once you know why you are doing this whether it be health, animals, the environment or all three you will have the motivation to swap out old foods for new foods. Then once you start eating the new foods and start feeling so much better it will get easier and easier. You'll see that this isn't a fad diet or a quick weight loss gimmick but a complete lifestyle upgrade. You will have more energy, you will look at life differently, you will start eating to live not living to eat and you will be set free from the foods that have been keeping you a slave all these years.

Follow my Pinterest boards for great tips and recipes. Pinterest and YouTube have been my best friends through this change. Once I decided that I was going to be open to a plant-based diet the first thing I did was go on YouTube and search "vegan". I just wanted to see what it was all about. There is a plethora of information on there. I will write another post about everything to watch on YouTube and the best people to follow.

YouTube has allowed me to educate myself quicker than reading a book. I'm reading books too, but I like to have quick tips, see how other people are implementing this lifestyle, get encouragement, know there is a large community of people all over the world doing this and I get to see their results.

I will have my recipes soon. I'm a bad blogger, I keep making the recipes and forgetting to take all of the pictures I want before it's too late, soon though, soon.