Tag: Sugar free

It’s a Vegan BBQ

It’s a Vegan BBQ

Happy Memorial Day! It is more than just the unofficial beginning of summer, more than a day off to barbecue and party, it is a day to remember those in the armed forces who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

I have many family members who served our country, both at home and overseas, and all of them made it home safely. Not all families are so blessed. So before we get to the food and festivities, be sure to take a moment to remember.  ❤️

Now, onto the fun. This marks my first “summer” holiday as a vegan. So I did my best to make it delicious.

The menu:

  • BBQ pulled “pork” on portabella mushrooms
  • Roasted potatoes and onions
  • Corn on the cob
  • Watermelon

Yes, I have uni-corn holders. Thanks, Ashley!

Here’s what I did. I found jackfruit at Trader Joe’s. I looked up a couple of jackfruit pullled pork recipes and combined them. One was from the Minimalist Baker and one was from Itdoesnttastelikechicken.com.I used a single 20 oz. can of jackfruit, which I rinsed and drained. Ewwww, it’s so ugly!!!

Sauté 1/4 chopped yellow onion with one tablespoon minced garlic about 5 minutes, until onion begins to soften.  Add the jackfruit, along with 1/2 tsp. Paprika, 1/2 tsp. Chili powder, 1 tsp. Garlic powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté 2-3 minutes, then add 1/4 cup vegetable stock and simmer, covered, over medium heat about 10 minutes until the jackfruit is soft enough to crush with a potato masher. Once it is in shreds, add about 1/2 cup or more of BBQ sauce. I used home-made, sugar-free sauce.Simmer another 10 minutes until tender.

My husband and I loved it. It is uncanny how much the taste and texture was like actual pulled pork. My son said it was “on the bad side of weird.”  Honestly, if I had smothered it with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and put it on a white bun it would have been perfection. Haha!

As it was, instead of buns, I made portobello mushrooms on the highest rack of the grill, on low, for 20 minutes. I seasoned them with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. So easy!

At the same time those were cooking, I placed a potato pack and an onion pack on the lower grate. (I only separated them because my son doesn’t care for the onions.) Chop the potatoes and onions into bite sized pieces. Lightly brush aluminum foil with a tiny bit of olive oil. Spread the veggies out and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Seal the packs all the way around.  Wrap with a second layer of foil unless you used heavy duty foil. img_3681Place directly on the lower grate and cook for 20 minutes, turning over half way through the cooking time.

While it wasn’t hot dogs and potato salad, it was pretty good. I would make it again. Yay for BBQ’s and summer.

🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸Happy Memorial Day!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Chop Chop

Chop Chop

By now you have probably realized that being vegan involves a lot of chopping. Yes, you can sometimes buy pre-chopped veggies and fruits, but they are usually not as fresh, and a lot more expensive. I usually buy organic, so the price really skyrockets.  I suppose it is a necessary evil of a truly healthy life style.

I use a lot of chopped veggies in my dishes for flavor, since I try to keep my salt intake to a minimum, but I NEED flavor in my life!

Over Mother’s Day weekend, my sister and I took the kids to visit my Grandma who lives in the Central Valley here in California. I managed to maintain my healthy eating despite the fact that road trips make me crave caramel iced coffee and Doritos. I packed almonds for myself in case I got hungry and we stopped at a sandwich shop where I got a salad with balsamic vinegar for lunch. Not the finest road trip fare but it kept me feeling good, and that is all that matters. 

I will chronicle my saga of making through a visit to Grandma’s house without binging on cookies, coffee and Shrimp Francesca, but another time. For now, I want to tell you about something fun! 

While we were there my grandma introduced me to Zydeco Chop Chop. Zydeco Chop Chop is a blend of Dehydrated Onion, Dehydrated Garlic, Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Pepper, Dehydrated Celery, Dehydrated Green Onion and Dehydrated Parsley flakes. THIS STUFF IS AMAZING!!! 

My grandma insisted we take some home with us, (and by some I mean a ton. You know how grandma’s are! ❤️), since we didn’t have a chance to try it while we were there. This is something I will no longer live without. 

I loved the smell of it when I first opened it up, pungent and savory. It is Cajun, but has nothing spicy in it, so it’s perfect for my spice wimps. It has a nice, coarse consistency so it adds color to the dishes youbadd it to.

The day after we got home, I had to drop my sister off at the airport on my way to work and then put in a full day at the office before heading home.  I didn’t exactly feel like making a big dinner, but darn it, we needed something warm and comforting! I popped open some beans (a can of pintos, a can of garbanzos and a can of lima beans) and, after draining, threw them in a saucepan with a small can of tomato sauce and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. I added about 3 tablespoons of Chop Chop and a sprinkle of paprika and chili powder and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. I made a pot of brown rice to accompany it and served it with fresh diced tomatoes and guacamole to top it off. My husband loved it  so much he took the leftovers to work to eat later!

Granted, it would have been MUCH better if it had time to simmer and the flavors would have been able to soak into the beans more, but it was the perfect fast and easy dinner for a chilly evening.  Utterly delicious! 

I HIGHLY recommend Zydeco Chop Chop. I can’t wait to add it to my vegan Sour Cream recipe to make a dip. Mmmmm, my mouth is watering!

They are on social media, too. They are a small company, so show them some love!

The Gift of Friendship

I know I have said before how important friendship is, especially when it comes to support during big changes. May I just say again, my friends rock!

We just got home from our end of year potluck with our small group at church. Oh, how I love our group! We sat together and laughed, talked, shared stories and Pinterest Pins, and some amazing food.

All 3 of the vegans in the group actually had some great food to choose from. I made the Vegan Nachos. They seemed to be a hit, even with the carnivores in the group.  My friends Stacy made baked veggie chips. The fact that they didn’t turn out and she had to throw them away doesn’t detract, even slightly, from the fact that she made them to include those of us eating vegan.

Then, there was Melinda. My dear, wonderful friend, Melinda. My vegan buddy.  She made the most bomb chili and she brought dessert. For me. *insert contented sigh here*

I immediately went into fits of rapture, followed by bouts of euphoria as I nibbled on the decadent sweet treat. (No, really. I may or may not have danced a little as I ate it.)

What was this heaven on earth?

Banana bread!


You don’t realize how much you miss sweet, baked goodies until the are gone. I have tried to make a few things, but with my current list of restrictions, it is difficult to find good recipes. Make that almost impossible.

Melinda found this recipe and baked a loaf, hoping against hope it would be good. It was. Epically so.  The texture is moist and bready and not too dense. It tasted like banana bread!

My friend, Deanna, brought home made date butter and gifted some to our pastor’s wife, who then opened and shared the love. Oh, the bliss of spreading the caramelly sweetness onto a second piece of banana bread.  Thanks for sharing, Sabina.

I am home tonight with my tummy full of happiness and love, courtesy of my awesome friends. Thanks to them, I successfully navigated my first potluck.  And I won’t hate myself tomorrow!



Winning at Losing

Winning at Losing


This evening, I hosted an appetizer party at my house. I served Potstickers with Hoisin Sauce, Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara and Ranch, a Sushi platter, Mini Quiche and Virgin Mojitos. I didn’t eat any of it. I wasn’t even tempted!


In a nod to my newfound veganism, I also made cucumber, hummus and tomato hors d’oeuvres and a fresh fruit tray. Those I enjoyed heartily!

What a change for me! Usually, I would have nibbled and snacked my way through the preparations, fueled by coffee and little else. Then, I would have had a plate with my guests and then snacked on the leftovers during clean up. Especially because I am an emotional eater and this week has been busy and a little overwhelming. I would have eaten my feelings into oblivion.

Instead, I had plenty of energy all day, even though I never went near a cup of coffee. I cooked for others and, for the first time, didn’t feel sad that I wasn’t going to be eating any of it. I did not feel deprived. I am starting to rock this vegan thing.

My palate has completely changed. What I used to find slightly bland and tasteless, I now find bursting with fresh, clean flavors. Fruit tastes sweeter, savory items have more depth of flavor.  I have to say, I am surprised at how completely delicious simple things can be.


I enjoyed these simple little hors d’oeuvres so much I will be making them for quick, cool dinners this summer. They are so easy! All you need is:

1 package grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small tub hummus

1 large cucumber

Using a potato peeler, shave long strips of skin off the cucumber, leaving it striped. Slice cucumber into 1/4″ thick rounds. Place on serving plate or tray.

Spoon hummus into a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip of your choice or spoon into a sandwich bag and cut one corner off.  Squeeze about a quarter size amount of hummus onto cucumber rounds.

Top with halved grape tomatoes.

Boom. Done. Amazing.

PS – 24.5 pounds gone and my pain continues to diminish. I can get used to this winning at losing.





Vegan Nachos – AKA The Potluck Conundrum

It’s the end of the school year. Things are beginning to wrap up and the end of the year parties are upon us. Cue the potlucks (and the anxiety!) Don’t get me wrong; who doesn’t love tables laden with naughty no-nos?

So, how do I traverse this rocky road of social pressure and temptation with grace? Everyone will be offering me bites of Aunt Martha’s famous chocolate cream pie or a scoop of 7-layer dip. And almost invariably there will be Doritos. Mmmm, Doritos… but I digress.

I will need to bring something that translates well to the non-vegan crowd, yet still works for me.

Time to hit Pinterest!

*scrolling through hundreds of recipes*

OK, so this is what I have come up with…


VEGAN nachos to be precise.


Of course, I have to make adjustments. This recipe has turkey meat. Healthy for some, just not for me. I think I will sub out the turkey and replace it with a mixture of Quinoa Taco Meat and black beans. I will garnish with guacamole and probably take the grated sharp cheddar on the side.

I do have to say, though, the potluck I am going to on Sunday is for my small group at church, and my friend, Melinda (also a no-to-pretty-much-everything vegan like myself) will be there. We get to coordinate so both of us will actually have more than one legal and delicious thing to eat. Yay!

Have I mentioned how important friends are in this process!?!?!?

So, go, friends, enjoy your potlucks. I know I will.

Now what?

I told myself at the beginning that I would only be hard core for 8 weeks, that “no” would be temporary. I clung to that like a drowning man to a life preserver. It was my hope on the days when I felt like I couldn’t do it any more. “Just a few more weeks…” “Just a few more days…” Its here.

My 8 weeks are up. I should be jubilant, right? Then why am I so scared? I made it through the worst part. The detoxing, the cravings, the exhaustion, all gone. (Ok, *mostly* gone.) I am down a full 22 pounds. My pain has been reduced to the point where sometimes I forget I have it. Wow!

I am scared because I HAVE come this far. What if I have a set back? What if I add something back in that seems innocent but I undo all this hard work? What if it triggers cravings? What if I get discouraged and throw in the towel? Ugh, the thought makes me cringe.

No, this time it is different. This time I will succeed. This time I will not fall into the trap I set for myself. This time I will win.

Today I won’t share a recipe like I usually do.  Today I will share a picture of a shirt that I found while shopping this weekend.

This used to be me…


Not any more. ❤️

Today I share hope.

The Power of Numbers

Why are numbers so powerful in our lives? They can influence you in ways you never thought possible, both good and bad.

Take the scale for instance. A higher number than you expect on that particular instrument of torture can send weeks of dedication and work spiraling down the toilet. Too many times in my life  I have given up completely because of gaining 2 pounds after losing 10 or even 20 pounds.  This is why this particular journey has nothing to do with weight loss (even though it is a beautiful and much needed side effect.). This time it is about health and being pain free.

That being said, do you have any idea how humbling it is to admit your weight on a platform that other people can, and will, see? Why does a number somehow make it worse? 225? Because saying it out loud will somehow make you think worse of me? Because if I didn’t say it out loud, my pants wouldn’t still be plus size? You wouldn’t be able to see my rolls and bulges?

But there is a flip side to those powerful numbers. A beautiful flip side. It is your friends. The power of numbers to encourage, support, cheer on and even join you in your battle.

I have an amazing husband who has gone vegan with me, for no other reason than he wants me to succeed and for my life to be easier.

I have an amazing sister who has also joined me in an effort to support and encourage me from afar (she lives 1,000 long miles away.)

I have friends who share their recipes as well as their struggles.

I have friends who rallied with me when The Old Spaghetti Factory removed spaghetti squash from its menu. They put it back on the menu on Saturdays at my local restaurant thanks to everyone who contacted them! 😘

Even the receptionist at my chiropractor’s office is cheering me on! She shared with me this amazing recipe that I have added into my weekly rotation. Oh, how delicious it is. Savory, crunchy, creamy, filling and oh so satisfying.


Find the recipe here.

Once again, minor modifications were in order. I substituted chopped dates for the sugar in the roasted chickpeas and left out the oil, of course.  Hurry up and make it already!

Oh, and if you are one of those that I am blessed to call friend, thank you. You have no idea how much it means to me.