Friday Free for All

It’s certainly shaping up to be a great day.  Here’s what’s happened so far as well as the plan for what’s going to happen the rest of the day.  (I guess by the time I post this it will all have happened, but I digress).  Jacks and I both started the day off with a run.  I wasn’t necessarily planning on getting out this morning, but it was still raining and I can’t pass up a run in the rain.  I don’t know what it is but I absolutely love it.  I’m also super proud of Jacks, she did 5.2 miles.  That’s awesome! Breakfast today is oatmeal with all the fixings.

IMG_8022

We’re just going to hang around the house for a bit, and then we’ll be off to our favorite vet’s office Caring Hands Animal hospital for Olive to get her nails trimmed… Weird fact about our dog, she just LOVES the vet.  She’s so bizarre.

IMG_8023

We’re going to head down to Arlington after that and sell some gear at a consignment shop, hit up a great little bakery/coffeeshop, Bakeshop, and probably get a smoothie for a snack at South Block.

Salted Oatmeal Apricot Cookie!
IMG_8027

Dogs want smoothies too!
IMG_8025

Lunch is/was a nice big salad.
IMG_8031

We’ve got a massage planned for the afternoon, and then, one of the most fun things we’ve had in the plans for awhile.  We’re going to make dinner with both Connor and Bethany.  We’re still trying to figure out the exact menu, but there is just something about cooking together and breaking bread together that is awesome.  It’s been a huge blessing to have the two of them around a lot lately.  It’s kind of sad that they’ll be headed off to British Columbia in a week.  But I’m really excited to hear those stories as well.

Speaking of the massage, that seems to be one of those things that often leads to comments about us having a great marriage.  I find that kind of interesting, but it really does help to put things into perspective.  I do think we have a great marriage, but it takes a lot of work.  As a man you can’t give up on dating your spouse.  It may be easier for us in not having kids, but I’m going to challenge you to look at your priorities.  Even without kids, we have to make an effort.  It requires putting things on the calendar, and it requires putting the phone down and talking.  It also takes a very clear understanding that it’s a commitment.  And for us it’s a covenant as well.  We couldn’t do it without having God in our lives.  We were trained several years back as marriage mentors, what I would tell you out of that is that we got so much more in our own marriage when we were helping others.  It required us to really look inward at ourselves.  I know there are a lot of people out there that are struggling at hurting.  I’d encourage you all that getting help and talking to people isn’t a sign of weakness.

I hope and pray for you as the readers to have a great day, and if any of you needs prayer, I’m always happy to do that.

Day Twenty-Four

Olive and I were a little sad when we got up and we didn’t have friends here to talk to! But we persevered and went for our morning walk. She met several dogs along the way so she was a happy pup! It was a quiet day around here. I did laundry, picked up around the house, read my new book from the library, and just enjoyed the day. Nick and I recently realized that we have movie channels included in cable. Who knew? AND we found out that one of our favorite shows, “Homeland”, will be starting again in October. Nick discovered that you can watch the first two episodes of last season for free online. We watched the first one last night. After we watch the second one, we’ll have to figure out a way to binge watch last season before the new season starts. We live wild lives I tell ya. WILD.

Breakfast: (1 serving = 1 quart)
Green Julius
Abundance diet day 24
This smoothie called for 2 medium oranges, but I ended up using one giant orange instead. I’m glad that I did because with the orange, and all of it’s zest, it was plenty orangey for me. It didn’t really remind me of an Orange Julius, but it was tart and refreshing. Nick took it upon himself to add a splash of vanilla extract, and he said it tasted like and Orange Julius to him. So there you go!

Salad:
Vegan Nicoise Salad
Abundance diet day 24
I don’t understand this salad. Now, I never had a real Nicoise Salad before becoming a vegan, but even so, I don’t get it. It’s a large salad with all kinds of large chunks of things with a dressing that you drizzle over and keep some on the side for dipping. The creamy miso dressing is delicious, but it was all too confusing and fancy for me, I guess! 🙂 Nick loved it, though. He loved all of the flavors and different elements to the salad. He’s obviously fancier than me!

Soup:
Cheesiest Potato Soup
Abundance diet day 24
I remembered the picture today! So, as I mentioned the other day, we didn’t make all 3 soups for this week because we had leftovers from last week and we wanted to eat up what we had. Even though I ate this soup yesterday I wanted to eat it again today. So yum!

Main:
Homestyle Mexican Casserole
Abundance diet day 24
We ate this casserole in week one. It’s comforting, filling, and all kinds of delicious. I was excited to have this one again! I forgot how just how HUGE the portions are! The portions are massive! I couldn’t finish all of mine. It’s super filling.

Thoughts on today: Nick made a menu for next week, and we are incorporating several ideas from the plan to keep us on track. I won’t tell you all of them right now, because I’m saving that for the last post of this series! 🙂 It’s also SO TRUE that you’ll grab the kind of snacks you have in your house. Right now the only snacks we have are fruit, veggies, and kale chips. Can’t feel bad about eating any of those!

Day Twenty-Three

Good morning! Yesterday was a great day! It was fun to have friends here – even if they had to leave right after lunch. *sad face* We made both J & M smoothies for breakfast (the same ones we were having) and they were both sold! They stopped at the store on their way home for smoothie stuff so they could make some of them at home! Love it. After dinner Nick and I ran to the new Whole Foods Market that opened up here in town. We had used up a bit with more people in the house and just needed to replenish a few things. Then we came home to prep the salad for day 24. There were a lot of steps, so it was teamwork all the way.

Breakfast: (1 serving = 1 quart)
Mango Madness Green Smoothie
Abundance diet day 23
This one is pretty similar to the spotted smoothie we made a couple of weeks ago. I used flax in my smoothie, and M requested chia in hers. Mangos have an interesting flavor to them – a little woody? – but the sweetness from the banana balanced it out. This one went down very easily and was a hit for all!

Salad:
Curried Brown Rice Salad
Abundance diet day 23
This one definitely tastes like curry, so it’s a little on the sweet side for me. However, the veggies give it great crunch to go along with the soft, brown rice. This would be great for a party or a church potluck. We ate the salad cold from the fridge, but it would also be great served at room temperature.

Soup:
Cheesiest Potato Soup
*ack! I forgot a picture of this, too! I blame being a great hostess! 😉 *
YUM! I love this soup. M had a bowl, too, and she thought it was awesome. Success! I love it when non-vegans love vegan food. There are big chunks of creamy potato, slightly crisp carrots, and a cheesy broth with loads of parsley. Mmmmm. I can’t wait to eat this one again. I left it chunky for texture, but you could easily puree the whole thing to make it smooth. She also says you can swap out the potatoes for broccoli to make a cheesy broccoli soup.

Main:
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna
Abundance diet day 23
Hmmmm. This wasn’t really our favorite. The flavors were good, but the eggplant was such a strong, awkward texture. Also, living in a townhouse doesn’t lend itself to having an outdoor grill, so it took me FOREVER to grill up all the veggies on the stove! Grilling definitely gave the veggies a nice flavor, and the grilled red onion was my favorite. Nick and I liked the overall flavor of the dish, but the eggplant was definitely the downfall. We’re already thinking of ways that we could use the general idea to make it again, but just with different veggies. We did, however, love the sauce that we found at Whole Foods. The recipe calls for an oil free (or low oil) marinara sauce. Whole Foods offers a fat free, organic sauce that’s really delicious! I highly suggest it.

Thoughts on today: dinner took FOREVER, but lasagna IS a labor intensive dish. It was really fun to have friends here who enjoyed our food, and took a few recipes home to try. Nick and I were talking about how we’d have to make our own menu next week. Say what?! It’s definitely been a treat not having to think about what to make.

Have an awesome day!

Day Twenty-two (week four, day one!)

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the last week of the Abundance Diet eating plan. Sometimes if feels as though we’ve been doing it forever (not in a bad way), and sometimes it feels like we just started. I’ve really enjoyed our weekend grocery trips and time in the kitchen getting things prepared and ready to go for the week. It makes the week so much much less stressful when things are prepared and prepped ahead of time! THAT is something we’ll definitely continue to do. Nick can easily grab his items for lunch and there’s no guesswork for me when it’s lunchtime. We’ve always been really good about having a weekly menu in the past, but I think this this plan has taught us to stick with what we’ve planned – and getting things ready before the week starts makes it a lot harder to skip it. We have friends staying with us right now – just overnight – but it’s kind of a bummer we can’t take them to some of our favorite places to eat! It’s all good, though, they’re understanding and have done meal plans in the past, so they know how important it is to stick with it until the end.

Breakfast: (1 serving = about 1 quart)
Annie’s Da Cherry Bomb Smoothie
Abundance diet day 22
First off, I will say that my smoothie looked NOTHING like the picture in the cookbook. Mine was that awkward brown color that you get from fruit and loads of greens; it wasn’t all bright and red like the picture. That being said, it tasted pretty darn good. The cherries were a bit hard to detect, but that’s the way sweet cherries are. It would be interesting to make this again in the future with frozen tart cherries. I chose the option of using extra ice in place of water to make it extra cold and creamy. I’m glad I chose that option – no one likes a lukewarm smoothie! Blech. The recipe also called for a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, but I opted to leave it out. After last week’s apple pie smoothie (with varying amounts of cinnamon), I decided to skip it. I’m sure it does something to the overall flavor, but I find it can be overpowering and then that’s all you taste. (like mint, or ginger) There is variation on this smoothie to add to cacao powder for a chocolate covered cherry flavor. I think I’m going to try that version on Thursday when we have this smoothie again.

Salad:
Green Goddess Spinach Salad
Abundance diet day 22
Do you like my background? I took this baby to the pool with friends to enjoy a leisurely afternoon having fun in the sun! I also realized later that both Nick and I forgot to add Roma tomato AND the tofu feta to this salad. Sheesh. You’d think we’d get it right with the recipe right in front of us! Ha! That being said, this salad rocked! This was maybe my favorite of the whole plan so far. I think it’s the cranberries that do it. They’re a great hit of sweet and sour. There are also some slivered almonds which bring a nice crunch to the dish. It didn’t hurt that we had THE perfect avocado, too! This one is topped with the goddess dressing that we made for the Hearty Vegetable Pasta Salad. There is a nice garlic-y hit and the avocado makes everything creamy.

Soup:
Cozy Roasted Butternut Soup
*I forgot to take a picture of this one! I’ll catch it later this week.*
This soup was originally scheduled to be only eaten twice and eaten for the first time on day 23. We knew that this soup would make more than the soup that was originally scheduled for day 22, and we (amazingly enough) still have a bit of varying soups leftover from last week. I guess those few days that Nick was gone for work really made a difference! So, we knew that we had options and didn’t need to make 3 different soups this week. (note: the Moroccan Lentil Soup? It makes enough to feed an army! And there are only 4 servings!) This soup has nice kick from the cayenne, but it plenty sweet from the butternut squash. Roasting the squash with the garlic and onion definitely brings a nice smoky flavor to the soup as well. I liked this one, and had no problem finishing it, but it just screams for something crunchy to go with it. It’s very one texture, so it would be great with crackers or crusty bread.

Snack:
Baked Nacho Cheesy Kale Chips
We used two heads of kale, and 1/2 of the sauce this time. Our heads of kale must have been smaller than last time because the 1/2 batch of sauce was plenty and it looked like we hadn’t made any chips when it was all said and done! Kale cooks down to nothing! It’s so crazy. But! They were still delicious, crisp and cheesy. Yum.

Main:
Chiles Rellenos Casserole Bake
Abundance diet day 22
We’re not quite sure if we made this one right. It was super creamy, spicy, and delicious, but we weren’t sure if the batter that we baked first (full of green chilies, spices and moxarella) was done all the way before we added the enchilada sauce on top. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, because we were hungry after a softball double header (it’s so exhausting to watch Nick play, ha ha!) and it tasted delicious. The chilies gave it great spice and heat and it was super creamy. Of course we wished this had a crunchy element to it – it was all one texture – but adding the dollop of cashew sour cream and fresh cilantro made it taste bright and fresh.

Thoughts on today: as I mentioned earlier, it would have been fun to go out to dinner with friends or have a special treat while they were here, but everyone managed just fine and no one went hungry! But it’s also great to have friends who encourage us to follow through and finish it out to the end! If you’re going to cheat at something, why even do it in the first place?