Midwest Trip Recap

Last week Nick and I headed back to the land of corn for 4 days. Nick had a work training, and so I tagged along to catch up with Lil Sis and my bestie. It was so great to see everyone, and catch up with family and friends, but it felt SO WEIRD to be back. I’m not sure what it was. I guess that everything felt super familiar, and I knew how to get everywhere, but at the same time everything felt unfamiliar. Life in Iowa didn’t stop because we left, I suppose. We packed A LOT into our week, and so we came home exhausted, but it was the good kind of exhausted. But it sure was good to come home and see Olive again. We sure did miss that little goofball!

Speaking of Olive, she stays with a super awesome family that lives about 10 minutes from us. When we first moved here we were scheduled to go on our anniversary trip to Europe for 10 days and we (me) were in a panic to find someone to watch Olive. I am such a softie when it comes to her that I didn’t want to board her for that long (or ever). I want her to play all day with other dogs, and get some love and attention from humans as well. I happened upon DogVacay.com and found THE best family ever! Olive loves to go to their house and every night we get pictures of all of the fun she has during the day. She always makes herself right at home! ;)

Trip to CR

One day I was out with my bestie and my “niece” and it was time for lunch. They opted for a non-vegan option, naturally, so I ran into Chipotle. I was hungry, but I also knew that I probably couldn’t eat an entire bowl and I hate wasting food! Our hotel didn’t have a fridge, so I knew I couldn’t bring any leftovers back. While waiting in line, I was reading the description of the kids meal, and so I thought to myself, “that sounds about right! That’s all I need.” So, I ordered a kids meal. The downside is that you only get 3 toppings, but that didn’t upset me too much. I’m sure you could order extras on the side, if desired. I chose 2 soft corn tortillas – you get a choice of 2 soft corn tortillas, 2 hard corn taco shells, or 2 small flour tortillas – with guacamole, pico de gallo, and pinto beans. You also get THE cutest bag of chips – and the perfect amount! – and a drink. And the kicker? It was only $5! Seriously the best. This will definitely be something I’ll grab again in the future when I just need a little something. This made me love Chipotle even more!

Trip to CR

That same night we went to our favorite Iowa restaurant, the Trumpet Blossom Cafe. So, SO good. We met Lil Sis and her boyfriend there and had SO MUCH FUN. The food tasted extra delicious. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had it for months, or maybe because I was just really excited to be there, but either way, it was great. We had fries (obviously) and nachos to start, and then we all ordered different entrees. I had the flatbread pizza, and Nick opted for the Peanut Pasta. There were happy bellies all around. While we have tons of tasty vegan options here, the Trumpet Blossom will always hold a special place in my heart, and stomach, forever. Yum!

Trip to CR

After dinner we all ventured over to a new natural food store that had opened up within the last few months. Have you ever heard of a Lucky’s Market? I had read about it before moving, but kind of forgot about it. I remembered when Nick and I stopped to play with puppies before dinner. I wanted to put this little girl in my purse and bring her home. Alas, we did not. But look at that face!!

Trip to CR

Back to the market, that place was great! They had all kinds of great vegan and gluten free options that I can’t even find here in DC! We grabbed the Beyond Chicken Feisty Buffalo Poppers. I was able to keep them with Lil Sis to stay frozen, and I knew I could bake them at my bestie’s house the next day as we were going to her place for dinner. I baked them up as an appetizer, and the vegans and non-vegans alike (except for a certain 9 year old) thought they were great! They weren’t very spicy, and I didn’t really taste the buffalo flavor, but they had great texture and baked up in a flash! I would grab them again if given the chance, for sure.

Trip to CR

The best score of the week, though was Hampton Creek’s Just Cookie Dough! Lil Sis had spotted it at Hy-Vee, and so we immediately went and bought some. That stuff is the bomb. It’s great out of the tub, although I prefer Eat Pastry’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip raw, but it’s amazing when it’s baked. WOWZA. I could have eaten a dozen cookies. Now if only they, too, would show up in my neck of the woods! We leave Iowa and they get all the good stuff I’d been looking for for months! If you have access to Just Cookie Dough, GET IT.

Trip to CR

 

We had a great time being back, but it was so great to be home. We’ve had a pretty low-key week, and have spent a lot of time enjoying the beautiful weather. It’s a little steamy during the day, but it gets SO nice at night. We have a friend coming to visit this weekend, so we’re already planning all kind of fun things to do, and yummy things to eat! Happy Wednesday!

We haven’t blogged in a few days… We’re still alive

Hey, so we finished The Abundance Diet as you all know and it seems as if we’ve gone on a hiatus.  While not really intentional we kind of have.  We’ve been slammed with activities the last few days.  I’m not complaining about it at all because it really was a whole lot of fun.

Tuesday night we went to Wolf Trap (A national park, which is an outdoor theatre venue, very cool), to see a concert with Colony House, Drew Holcombe and the Neighbors, Switchfoot and NeedToBreathe.  It was a really great show, we enjoyed it a lot.  Colony House was my favorite, but all the bands were very talented and fun to hear.  Jackie and I weren’t really familiar with NeedToBreathe so it wasn’t as exciting and it was still going strong at 10:30 when we had decided to take off.  I’m just not the late night person I used to be.  We got this great shot before the show where God showed us the reminder of his promise that he’s never going to flood the earth again.  Totally beautiful.
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Wednesday we were back at Wolf Trap again to see Jim Gaffigan.  Oh my gosh, he’s so funny.  He had an opening act by Ted Alexandro.  Ted was also really great.  I’m so impressed by comedians, I can’t come up with one funny joke let alone a whole routine.  I will never think of music class, summer, Netflix or donuts in the same way.  If you get a chance to see them you should, you’ll get a good ab workout with all the laughter.   Untitled

Today I took of from work at around 1.  It was really nice to be able to spend an afternoon hanging out with Jacks.  We took Olive out to the Village at Leesburg to hit up the Bean Bar.  Totally our favorite coffee shop.  It is literally the coolest coffee shop atmosphere.  It also helps that they have great coffee and beers/wine.  They also do up some really good food, but not a whole lot of the vegan variety.  Afterwards we went to the Farmstead at Willowsford Farm here in Ashburn.  I LOVE the place, its such a wonderful little family run place in a planned community.  The best thing about today.  We found organic SWEET CORN.  That is such a hard thing to do these days.  It was incredible.
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So you may be asking how we’re doing now that we’re 4 days removed from the Abundance Diet plan.  I’d say we’re doing pretty good.  We’re doing our best to stick to whole foods.  We packed a picnic for the concert that was oil free hummus with veggies.  We had some crackers and a bit of chao cheese with that.  Finished it off with some grapes and some yummy brown rice syrup crispy treats.  So while we did have dessert we really made a conscious effort to not use refined sugar and we kept the portion size reasonable.  I’ll say this, now that we don’t have the actual plan in front of us, there is a lot more temptation to have other stuff.  It all really goes back to the thought that moderation is key and you have put thought into what you eat.  If you have junk around the house then you’re going to be eating junk food.  There are definitely no regrets, it’s just very interesting where the mind goes.  We’ve also pretty much stuck to gluten free.  We’ve had a bit of wheat here and there, but I’ve been concerned that if I go back to having a big load of wheat that I’ll overload my gut.  Hope you’re all doing well, would love to have more interaction with you all.  We’ll do our best to keep up with the posts.  :) I’ll leave you all with this picture of the meal I put together for Monday night and an eat and repeat this evening… Delicious.  Soy Curls, Homemade baked beans, green beans and coleslaw.   Untitled

Day Twenty-eight & final thoughts

We did it! We completed the 28 day Abundance Diet eating plan! We are so, SO happy that we did it, even if there were times we were craving a cupcake or french fries. That was all part of the journey. We’ve learned a lot about our eating habits, and just how easy it is to get lazy and go for convenience over quality. We started our day (Sundays are our favorite day of the week) with a run at about 6:00. Wow! You really get to see the beauty that God has created when you’re up that early! ;) Now, let’s not get hasty and say I’ll be getting up at 6:00 everyday, but it was a gorgeous morning to head out.
Sunrise

We came home, cooled down, stretched, and immediately made our breakfast. On the menu was Quinoa Berry Banana Bowls. I was a little skeptical about a bowl of quinoa, soymilk, and fruit, but it was surprisingly tasty and filled us up and gave us a great hit of protein. Nick added a smidge of PB2 powder to his soymilk which he said added a little bit more sweetness. I might try that next time. Our quinoa was also cold, as we had made it ahead, so I don’t know how it would be if it was hot. More like a porridge or oatmeal, maybe? The fresh berries were great, too.
Abundance diet day 28

We then set our sights on making a GIANT batch of kale chips. We made a hybrid recipe of Somer’s and the All-Dressed Kale Chips from Oh She Glows.
Sunday Funday

We then got ready for the day, and walked over to the local Farmer’s Market. We loaded up on local apples, peaches, cucumber, and green beans. It was a bit of a hot walk home, but it was worth it, and Olive had a great time at the market!
Sunday Funday

We made up the leftovers for the Nicoise salads for lunch. We kind of improvised as we were trying to use a few things that we had leftover in the fridge. For dinner we heated up the Chile Rellenos Casserole, and then couldn’t wait to enjoy our Luscious Lemon Tarts for dessert.
Abundance diet day 28
Wowza. These tarts are delicious! They’re super creamy, and the lemon zest and juice adds just the right amount of tartness. Nick and I both thought that the crust was tasty, but not at all necessary. It would have been great to have more of the creamy goodness! We had a few leftover raspberries from breakfast, and they were a great addition. Every bite was a winner! We’ll most definitely be making these again.

Final thoughts, and what how we’re going to implement what we’ve learned along the way:

1. Even though we didn’t do this diet primarily to lose weight, it was a great “side effect”! Nick lost about 11 lbs, and I lost about 10 lbs. I’m sure that it was mostly from sugar, and all the refined foods we’d been previously enjoying. While we’re not going to go gluten free, we’ll definitely watch our wheat intake, and try to choose better whole grains that keep us from feeling bloated and blah. We aren’t going to give up sugar entirely, either, but we’ve come to appreciate alternative sweeteners, and dates are our new best friends!

2. We’ve also learned that we’ll snack on what we have in the house. So we’re planning to keep the pantry stocked with healthy snacks, like kale chips and Somer’s gluten free cheesy crackers, with loads of fresh veggies and fruits in the fridge. We will definitely enjoy a sweet treat now and again, but maybe we’ll just have 1 cookie, instead of 3 or 4. ;)

3. Sunday has been our day to prepare for the week ahead. Getting dressings made, soups prepared, and veggies prepped. That’s something we’ll definitely keep doing. It makes the week SO MUCH BETTER! There are no last minute “oh, shoot!” moments, and we both know what’s the fridge to grab for lunch. Occasionally it made Sunday afternoons a little hectic, but it was a worth is for an easy breezy week.

4. While we made weekly meal plans before this plan, we’ll definitely do a better job of sticking to what we’ve chosen. We’re planning to stick with a few soups, and various salads throughout the week for lunches. For dinner, we’ve decided to stick with a more whole foods approach, and only occasionally add in a processed item. For example, this week we’re having BBQ Soy Curls (we made our own BBQ sauce), with homemade coleslaw, homemade baked beans (using our own homemade BBQ sauce), and steamed green beans for a weekday dinner.

5. Moderation is the key. Giving up things that we love – like cupcakes, cookies, and french fries – just isn’t something we want to do. But! We know that we can have those things as a special treat, and completely enjoy them. As long as our diet is mostly a clean, whole foods diet, we’ll be good to go.

6. We probably won’t do another 28 days in the future, but doing a week or so would be a great kick start to get us back on track if we should need it.

7. Oh! The biggest takeaway! WE LOVE SMOOTHIES FOR BREAKFAST!! We are totally planning to have smoothies throughout the week, and then enjoy a “special” breakfast on the weekends. Somer’s smoothie recipes are great, and a great starting to point for us to make up some of our own. We always feel full in the morning, and love how easy it easy it is to load up on leafy greens.

Thanks for following along with us these past 28 days. I’m sure there were times that the posts felt a bit boring or monotonous, but we tried to be as honest as we could. We didn’t always want to do it, and there were times we wanted to quit. But we also learned the value of sticking it out, and our bodies are the better for it!

Day Twenty-Seven

I can’t believe our journey is almost over. As Nick asked you previously, “are you sick of this yet??” ;) While I’m so happy that we did this plan, I have to admit that I am also ready to be done. Not because the food is lacking, but just because I miss the spontaneity when we’re out and about. We’re anxious to share all of our ideas with moving forward, but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s post!

We had plans to take Olive to Old Town Alexandria to a pet boutique that was having a puppy ice cream social. We got into town about 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start, so we took the opportunity to walk around, find some new shops, and just enjoy being together. Olive LOVED being in the city! She’s always a little crazy excited at first, but she seems to settle down quickly. She got to meet several other dogs along the way, and she did great at the pet store. They loved on her, and she loved her banana/peanut butter frozen treat.
Day in Old Town

We then headed out to Gravelly Point Park to have lunch (we packed our salads and some fresh watermelon). It’s a really pretty park along Potomac River that sits RIGHT NEXT TO Reagan National Airport. It was so fun to be outside watching the planes fly right over our heads! So cool. Olive loved it, too.
Day in Old Town

Since it was a weekend, we had a special breakfast and dessert to enjoy. For breakfast we had the Carrot Cake Waffles.
Abundance diet day 27
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, but they grew on me rather quickly. The outside was crisp, and the inside soft and fluffy. (seriously, her gluten free flour blend is MAGIC) I didn’t taste the carrots so much, but the spices were pronounced and tasty. We topped these with a smidge of pure date syrup. Yum! We’ll definitely make these again!

After a great day, and some last minute grocery shopping for next week’s menu, it was time to settle in at home with our cozy pants. After enjoying the rest of Homestyle Mexican Casserole – with fresh avocado! – we were finally ready to dig into dessert. Nick made the Orange-Chocolate Silk Mousse in the morning before we left for the day so it could chill in the fridge and get nice and cold and set up a bit.
Abundance diet day 27
Wow. This mousse is fantastic. The orange flavor is subtle, but not so much that you can’t taste it. It’s just enough. This would be a great dessert to have with company, and you could easily mix up the flavors with other things like raspberry. Nick was so sad when this one was gone. That is always a great sign of a tasty dessert!

It was a really great day, and we had loads of fun together as a family. It was great to be able to pack up our salads and head out for the day. Having a plan about your meals definitely makes you eat healthier when out and about!