I Know What You’re Thinking…

I don’t miss much about eating animals, but one thing I have missed is a really tasty BLT. Or a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) on toasted sourdough. There is something about the way the crunchy bread, complete with mayo all up in the nooks and crannies blends with the savory bacon, the creaminess of a ripe avocado, the juice of a fresh Roma tomato slice and crisp leaf lettuce. It really is the perfect sandwich. I grew up with BLTs. It’s handheld comfort food.

For many, the idea of giving up bacon when transitioning to plant based eating seems to be one of the hardest things. Once I made the decision, it wasn’t hard for me personally – once you know what it does to you, the pigs, the environment and the farmers it’s not hard to make the choice. (Cheese was my hardest to give up – I did it, but it was a struggle.) Now I miss neither.

Recently I saw Tabitha Brown’s Carrot Bacon video:

I LOVE HER! I love her so much I’ve tried a few of her recipes and I have never not liked one!

So I gathered my ingredients and got to work!

I wish there was scratch and sniff to give the full aroma effect!

Now, I know what y’all are thinkin’. I’m nuts. I’ve done lost my mind. It’s like cauliflower tryin’ to be something it’s not. I know.

I know.

And yet…..


I made this and ended up crafting these tasty words while I crunched and munched on the best BLAT I’ve ever had. It was DIVINE. The flavor combo of Tabitha Brown’s “concoction” as she calls it, with the sweetness of a thin carrot slice is the marriage of the flavor gods. I don’t know what kind of culinary magic this is, but it delivers!

Tabitha – I thank YOU!

For more information about plant based eating, effects on workers, the environment and animals, please check out the following sources:


Food Fun – Pita Pocket Joes

I love food, and part of my plant-based cooking excursions have been to incorporate as many healthy habits, as well as recipes, into our routine. It’s been scary fun *interesting* testing out various internet recipe finds on my family. My husband grew up eating meat and typical American fare, so finding recipes that 1. don’t scare him, and 2. he likes and 3. pulls from flavor profiles he is familiar with is always my quest.

When we were first married, I grabbed the can of Manwich to throw on some ground beef and sling onto some buns. Eric loved them. I did, too, but it wasn’t very healthy and I knew there had to be a way to get that same flavor without it being from a can and loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other crap I didn’t want in our diet. Shortly after, I found a scratch recipe for sloppy joes that we both liked and was in our regular rotation. I pulled my old recipe book today to get inspired to come up with something new, as well as something I could modify into a plant-based option. Vegan Sloppy Joes for the win!

Diced onion, fresh green peppers and garlic kick it off nicely. Bringing in bold flavors with vegan Worcestershire, mustard and cumin round out the yummy richness. In place of the meat? You could use many things. I have used bulgar wheat in the past which has a similar look and texture to fine ground meat. Tofu crumbled, air fried and then incorporated into the sauce would also work fabulously! Since we had tofu tacos last night, I used red beans and barley.

I served it up with a side of coleslaw (plant-based, of course) and dinner was served! Sounds weird, but it was quite good and filling!


  • Whole Wheat pita pockets
  • 4-6 leaves of lettuce or other handfuls of greens
  • Red kidney beans, 2 cans, or 2 cups cooked from scratch
  • 1 cup barley, cooked
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs BBQ sauce (sugar free if possible)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    • If you like it spicy: add pinch of pepper flake and/or dash or two of hot sauce
    • Cook barley according to package directions, set aside. Cook dried beans in instant pot, or drain and rinse if using cans. 
    • Sauté onion and green pepper in large skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add dashes of water to prevent sticking. Add all other ingredients and stir until combined and saucy. I prefer adding all spices/ketchup/Worcestershire/brown sugar before adding beans and barley.
    • Once sauce has come together and sugar has dissolved, add in beans and barley to coat with sauce. Adjust spices to taste. 
    • Stuff leaf lettuce bean/barley/sauce into pita pockets. Serve immediately! 

Chickpeas could be used or canned jackfruit would make great mock pulled-pork type of sandwich!

Daughter liked it, and even liked the coleslaw – which is a win in my book. Beans aren’t Eric’s favorite, but to be fair, he liked the flavor.

Guess we’ll have to try jack fruit next!

Swim in a Vat

When I worked in an office, the ladies I worked with were intelligent, quick-witted and hilarious. Working with the public affords a level of comraderie difficult to come by in other workplaces. Not only did we commiserate about difficult customers or share knowing glances on crazy busy Friday afternoons, we also belly laughed over ridiculous inside jokes.

One of these inside jokes revolved around our mutual love of specific foods and snacks. If something was stop-you-in-your-tracks delicious, we’d say, “Oh my gosh, this is so good I could swim in a vat of this and eat my way out!” Think of the scene in Patch Adams where they honor the patient’s wish to swim in a pool of noodles.


Making a new recipe tonight for a Mexican Quinoa Bowl, the dressing caught my eye. Avocados, tomatillos, garlic, cilantro…glancing through the ingredient list I realized I had most items already on hand. After the last few meh and outright failure dinners, I was looking for something to wow the taste buds.

Little did I know, I would soon be uttering that familiar phrase…

Looks kind of like baby-poo green, but oh, my. SO DANG Good!

  • 3 small ripe avocados
  • 3 tomatillos, quartered
  • 12 sprigs cilantro
  • 1/4 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 serrano chile pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Approx 1/2 cup of water, more or less as needed to blend

Pop it all in the blender and voila! Instant yummy! The recipe called for refrigeration to let the flavors meld, and then to assemble the remaining parts of the bowl. I dipped tortilla chips in to taste test and it was all I could do to not crawl in my blender and lick it clean! Tomatillos! Where have you been all of my life?!

The rest of the bowl came together very quickly; tri color quinoa, diced cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, black beans, and corn. Top it all off with the avocado salsa and enjoy! Next time I may place this on a bed of mixed greens and add some sautéed peppers and onions.

After making disgusting bean burgers and so-so stirfrys, I was so excited to tell Eric that I made something vat-worthy!

Food Adventuring

A question I got was “So, what are you going to actually EAT if you go vegetarian?”

All of the things. You know, except for things with a face. In cattle country (aka Texas), it seems like going vegetarian is just crazy. Seriously, though – there are SO many whole food, plant-based items to eat – that are truly delicious.

My breakfast this morning was a yummy chocolate banana smoothie!


Dear daughter had a banana, pineapple, strawberry, and mango smoothie with flaxseed and soymilk. It’s the first smoothie that she’s actually finished all gone! (She’s a soy milk convert!)

I was turned on to Dr. Greger from his appearance in the documentary films Forks over Knives and What the Health. (Check them out if you haven’t!) He also has a fabulous app for plant based diets to ensure you hit all your markers for a complete veggie diet. Super helpful!

A little light reading while dear daughter was in gymnastics. Uplifting title, no?!

I will say I’m about halfway through the book and enthralled. There is SO much info about food that I thought I knew. Love learning new (and healthy) information! The book is broken down into chapters by category: How not to die from Heart Disease, How not to Die from Diabetes, etc. Then they go into why each of the categories of food are recommended, then the how to. I think that’s the key for most of us, myself included. It’s great to read all this info, but then what do you do with that knowledge? Practical application is key!

Part of dinner last night! Cucumber, tomato, avocado salad, garlic toast (no butter), Spanish rice. We also had chickpea barbecue sandwiches. They aren’t pictured because 1. they were ugly, and 2. no one liked them.

I think that’s the thing that I love about food and cooking: there’s always another meal to try again. There’s so many flavors to experiment with and food combinations with which to fall in love. Who cares if you don’t like one particular dish? It’s okay!

The one thing that I do find challenging is to feel like the meal is “complete”. The food pyramid/my plate influence runs deep. It’s definitely a shift to looking at veggies as the main meal instead of a side dish.

Are you a vegetarian? Flexitarian? Vegan? What do you love about veggies? Do you feel better by eating plant-based foods?

Soup Saturday

After teaching spin this morning and training a few clients, I decided to turn this dreary rainy weather into food prep day so we’d have delicious meals ready to roll through the week. There is nothing quite like a road trip to remind us why home cooked food is awesome!

Yesterday I made this yumminess:


I’m more of a “throw it in the pan and see what happens” sort of cook. It’s the way my mom cooked growing up and more often than not, it turns out great.

Roughly, this is what I did:
2-3 tablespoons sesame oil, 2-3 tablespoons coconut aminos, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced, 1 package of lean sirloin strips.

Brown the meat and ginger and garlic in aminos and oil. Remove meat from pan and set aside in foil covered bowl. I then added a couple dashes more of the oil and aminos and then threw in the veggies; water chestnuts, carrots, celery, broccoli and cabbage. Stir fry until fork tender, then add steak back in. Top with a few more dashes of aminos and diced green onion. Sprinkle sesame seeds and serve! Also Whole30 compliant!

Speaking of Whole30, remember that? I followed it about 85-90% for 4 weeks, then we went on vacation. (I did not want to be the lunatic packing food for a cross-country drive.) Here are my takeaways from my Whole30ish:

  1. I’m not good with eliminating food I love. Yes, it’s only 30 days. No, it isn’t a huge deal, but often it sets us up to fixate on the food we aren’t “allowed” or that isn’t “compliant”.
  2. Not a huge fan of the Facebook groups associated with Whole30. I’m sure not all of them are like this, but the one I was in for “first timers” had a LOT of disordered eating patterns. Lots of legalism and “keeping with the rules”. Yes, I know that’s the point, but again – long term goals in mind – this sets people up for “failure” when they don’t “comply”. I really hate the language, too. So legalistic. Barf.
  3. I do love that it encourages a whole lot of veggies and fruits. Whole30 definitely makes you a label reader and there isn’t anything wrong with that! There is so much sugar in many things that really don’t even need it. The premise of eating only whole, real foods is definitely a good thing.
  4. Pickles. Yum. Found some with no sugar added: Bubbies! Cloudy and weird, but so tasty!prod_pure_kosher_dills_lg
  5. It got me back in my kitchen playing with my culinary skills. LOVE that. I love cooking and enjoyed planning, chopping, and prepping.
  6. I liked that there wasn’t snacking. There wasn’t 6-8 meals a day. Even though I enjoy food prep, I also would like to not live my entire life in the kitchen. There are 3 components to meals: proteins, veggies/fruit, and a healthy fat.  I was full in between, due to healthy fats like olives and avocados. Hmmm, avocados…..Yum!
  7. I learned that I actually can drink coffee black. I even liked it!** That’s one thing I will be taking away from Whole30 is that I will continue drinking it black. I noticed when I did put cream in, I didn’t care for it as much. Who knew?!  (**Liking black coffee – but still a coffee snob. My favorite is french press from freshly ground beans.)
  8. I noticed a big reduction in bloating. Because I didn’t do a “proper reintroduction” I don’t have the specifics on what causes bloating for me. Legumes or dairy. Those are main culprits for bloating for most people.
  9. Finally, overall I think if people give it a try and feel better – great. It’s a reset for your digestive system. I don’t care for the crazed adherence to legalism that many Whole30 participants exhibit, and many over a long period of time. I don’t think it’s wise to eliminate entire food groups without checking with a registered dietician or your health care provider.

So there are my thoughts on Whole30.

For today’s food adventure, I started with chicken soup. Daughter is sick with a cold and looks like Hubby is headed in the same direction. Nothing like chicken goodness to cure what ails you!

Starting with a mirepoix, the french word for raw, roasted or sautéed vegetables – usually carrots, celery and onions – with butter or olive oil, is the flavor base for a wide variety of dishes. (Ooh look – I’m fancy using french!)

Ahem. Anyhoo. Starting with the veggie base, I added a precooked chicken and some fresh herbs. Basil, thyme, and rosemary are herbs that pair well with chicken (in my not so humble opinion) and nothing punches up flavor like fresh rather than dried herbs.

I then added chicken stock and a bit of milk to give it that creamy feeling, without the heaviness of a true cream soup with flour or cornstarch. Hubby loved it and daughter scarfed it up!

Next up I made some spicy pantry chili.

Crockpot chili is a great way to use up whatever you have on hand. Onions, jalepeno, and fresh garlic sautéed with fresh ground beef (or bison or turkey) bring out scrumptious flavors. Add cumin, chili powder, onion and garlic powder, then all desired canned beans and 1-2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes to the crockpot. After the meat is browned thoroughly, add it to the crockpot to join the beans and tomatoes. This is where I doctor the spices. Adding more cumin or chili powder for that taco-y taste, (yes, that’s a word!) or red pepper flake for more of a kick. Adding a second jalepeno adds a nice level of heat, too.

Now it’s evening and it’s still raining. I have a full tummy, a full fridge and now I think it’s time for a nice glass of red vino and a snuggle with my dogs!

Happy Soup Saturday!

I Don’t Think I’ll Miss My Toast

My niece over at Hangin’ By A Thread texted me last week a picture of this book, Whole30, with the description: This is my December.

Hmm. Not one to let a challenge go by, (without further investigation) I jumped on board saying, “Hey! I’ll do it with you. It’s only 30 days, right? No big deal that it’s December.” So off I trotted to pick up the book.

I then posted on Facebook (because it’s not a commitment until it’s on Facebook, right?!) that I was checking this out and it might be fun. I was in a bit of a food rut and looking for some kitchen inspiration anyway.

I began reading just the preface and loved the snarky tone right away. I love it when authors tell it like it is with some tough love. This is full of it! If they are going to say, “Don’t eat this!” making me laugh is the least they can do.

After getting the gist of what our December was going to be like, I headed off to the grocery to do a “toe in the water” test. Much of what is described in the book is how we try to eat most of the time anyway, with just a few tweaks, mainly legumes and dairy. I’m in south Texas – beans are in abundance! But hey, for 30 days – who cares? If beans are a culprit of bloating, why not eliminate them and see what happens? As I read further, that’s what much of this Whole30 deal is about. It’s a reset button on your digestive system. Sure, one could eat this way indefinitely, but it’s really more of a way to eliminate sugar and processed foods to see what happens in your body. Acne, diabetes, bloating, energy and sleep levels, and so much more are shown to improve without dairy, legumes and grains. Now, I’m not doing this for the rest of my life. I will have flour again. I’m not doing this to lose weight. I’m not a Paleo convert. (No one needs to stage a nutrition intervention!) I’m still not a fan of long-term elimination of entire macronutrient food groups, unless directed to do so by your doctor or dietician. But what a fun experiment for 30 days!! Let’s just see what happens! (At the very least, we’ll come away with a few new meal ideas in our repertoire!)

After unloading the groceries and rearranging the fridge to accommodate all that yummy produce, my daughter and I set to work. She loves to help in the kitchen and a Kitchen Sink Stir Fry provides lots of opportunities to do just that!

It was a hit! Mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, garlic, cabbage and Brussels sprouts was what we had, so that’s what we used! Hannah even liked the Brussels sprouts! We simply sautéed the chicken with the minced garlic in
Coconut Aminos (a soy sauce alternative, can be found in most grocery stores, typically in the gluten free section) and sesame oil. It was tasty, filling, but didn’t make us feel like taking a nap!

This morning was a mental health/recharge day for me. I had a nice long run with my fur babies. I’m working on next week’s programming for my clients, and general housekeeping junk. (You know, the really exciting stuff like laundry and dishes.)

Pausing for lunch, I decided to try my hand at a brunchy scramble. I love scrambles and stir-fries because of the single pan to clean up, and it’s also a great way to incorporate a TON of veggies, not to mention clean out the fridge of odds and ends!

Starting with a couple of strips of bacon (uncured, not made with sugar), diced bell peppers, cubed butternut squash, and a handful of Brussels sprouts were added.

Then some mushrooms and  julienned zucchini joined the party. (My little julienne peeler is the bomb! Love that thing for zucchini noodles, carrots for salad – it’s amazing!) Two scrambled eggs made it complete!

Finishing up with sliced avocado and some halved cherry tomatoes, let’s just say I’m glad I enjoyed this alone, because sharing this deliciousness wasn’t gonna happen!

I think it’s safe to say I’m probably not going to miss my morning toast over the next month! Here’s to diving in to the next 30 days!

Food Faves

So here is a few of the things I am LOVING right now: (In no particular order)

1.     Coffee ice cream. I know I’m late to the whole “coffee party”, but better late than never! I really love just a nibble now and then. I really can’t keep ice cream in the house because I would eat it constantly! YUM! My favorite brands are Haagen Daaz and Moka Joe’s/Lopez Island Creamery! SO YUM!

2.   Quinoa Pizza Bites – This fabulous recipe! Pizza taste – all delicious AND nutritious!

3.   Broccoli Slaw – I found this in the lettuces//salads. Its just carrots and broccoli and purple cabbage julienned. (I love saving time in the kitchen!) Top with some cashews and some ginger-sesame dressing – Yum.my!!

4.  Lasagna Rolls

These things are AMAZINGLY good – and good for you! Here’s the recipe.
5.    Dave’s Killer Breads. Great back story of how this guy found his calling to make healthy AND delicious tasting breads  – when he was in prison! Check this out!  I love the logo too – “Just say no to breads on drugs!”
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