The weekly menu

I have a week of food coming your way.  And I’m pretty proud of myself because despite Kyle being out of town I did a decent job of still making myself quality meals…as opposed to just half-assing it and rummaging through the fridge after putting P down.


Once again, they’re all out of order.

When I’m planning the week ahead, I have a vague idea of when I’ll do certain meals based on their hands-on time and my schedule, but I like the option to switch it mid-week if I don’t feel like a certain dish that day or if something comes up and I don’t have enough time to prep.

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BBQ chicken, grilled corn, and kettle salt & pepper chips.  Holy moly are these chips addicting.  If you haven’t tried them, consider this post your PSA and stay away.  I used TJ’s BBQ sauce (the Bold & Smoky Kansas City style one) for the chicken.


Asian slaw salad

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This was easy and delicious and I plan on making it again.  I used 1 bag of cabbage, 1/2 bag broccoli slaw which I tossed in TJ’s soyaki sauce in the morning so it would wilt and get soggy by evening.

Then I added 2 chicken breasts which I baked and shredded (some went to P so maybe 1 1/2 breasts), 2 chopped stalks of celery, 3 green onions, 1 can of mandarin oranges, and more soyaki sauce.

Just before serving I added sesame sticks on top.  These weren’t in the picture until after P was asleep (sesame and wheat are allergens for him).



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This week’s al fresco had lots of the old (Mary’s crackers, smoked trout and fried green beans), with a few new (goat gouda, fig jam [!!] and fresh blackberries).  Yums all around.

Thoughts on the new Mary’s cracker box?  Kyle and I had a long discussion about the reason for the change and their (possible) new marketing goals.  Because we are weird.


This is the sprouted quinoa strawberry salad from Terry Walters’ Clean Food.  I wish all cookbooks were organized by recipes in a seasonal way.


I added chicken because Kyle requested so.  And let’s be real, P doesn’t turn chicken down…ummmm…ever.  So my new favorite thing?  Tomatillos!


And we already discussed the 4th so that’s the end of the post!

But before I sign off until next week’s menu, let’s discuss the chocolate in my life lately, okay?


(above) endangered species natural coconut creme filled dark chocolate
(below) righteously raw maca & cacao maca bar


Usually, I stick to the pound plus bars from TJ’s (I eat way too much chocolate to not).  But when Kyle’s out of town, he encourages me to  treat myself.  So I did!

I’m sorry to say the first wasn’t my fave.  The creme filling was weird and tasted artificial or something to me.

The maca bar, however, is the ISH.  I actually bought another a few days later because it was THAT good – even though it was a whopping $5.  I’ve been a righteously raw bar fan for a long time, but this was my first time branching out after a serious caramel streak.

Birthday weekend for mom

I realize it’s pretty late to be recapping last weekend but I’m going to do it anyway because (a) these are my favorite posts to read and write and (b) my sister loves feeling in the loop with the family goings-on.  So.  This past weekend we went to visit my parents to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  I thought we were going to have to cancel because P got a GI bug last week that was annihilating him but he turned a corner on Saturday.  Thank goodness.  Poor baby was trying his best to be happy but it wasn’t pretty.  In true “when it rains it pours” fashion, he also took a big spill and got a goose egg unlike any other I’ve seen on his head.  Sometimes life is a doozy packman.  Might as well learn it when you’re young.


Annnyway, we made it to their place in time for lunch, so I threw their fridge contents in a bowl. Spinach, strawberries, avocado, and fried eggs.  Topped in EVOO and TJ’s balsamic glaze.

P grubbed too.


Blueberry goatee.

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We were supposed to head into the city (SF) for dinner on Saturday night but I cancelled the reservations on Friday because (at the time) P was still ailing.  He had 3 am wake-ups the two nights prior and lots of blow outs that required full baths so I wasn’t really in the mood to make a big fuss for a date night.  Still, we took advantage of my parents staying home to watch him and went out for a bite at Roam (it’s minutes from my parents’ house).  We’ve gotten take-out from this place before but it’s more fun being in the scene.


In addition to the sweet potato fries I got a bison burger with a fried egg on a GF bun.  I also got extra herb mayo on the side.


Kyle got the “French & Fried” which has fries IN the burger!

It was an early night for us though, and I’m glad it was because P woke up (again) in the middle of the night.  As much as I’d love to have a nice full night of rest, I really and truly love snuggling with him in the dark.  He’s such a love bug and it melts my heart that I get to share those precious moments with him.

Per our Sunday tradition, we went for a family run around the neighborhood.

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After everyone else got up and I fed P his breakfast, we all walked to La Boulange for breakfast.

I got an egg scramble and fried potatoes with a decaf soy cafe au lait.


Pattycakes ate a second breakfast (making up for lost time after that GI bug!) and swiped much of the fruit on the table.


The fountain outside was a big hit for the water baby.

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Think he gets enough love and attention?


After his morning nap my parents worked on the yard and the rest of us supervised.  My mom showed P her garden which is a way more massive version of ours and not long after it was

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Eventually we lunched.


And then dipped in the pool!

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The pool was 78 degrees!! It took patty-cakes some time to warm to the situation but he was into it once he started splashing.

Just a nice lazy Sunday.

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Little man boycotted his afternoon nap so he and Kyle played with the dogs while I made my mom’s birthday brownies.

I used coconut oil and 2 eggs, but when I poured it into the pan it didn’t seem like very much batter.  Hmmm…

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Afternoon apps!

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My dad BBQ-ed for dinner.  The dogs helped.

Then we sang happy birthday!

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And about those brownies…

Ummmm…”crunchy” is how I’d describe them.  It was impossible to cut and serve out of the pan (without a chainsaw that would ruin the pan), but after I pried the first bit out, I was able to grab the entire thing in one piece.  The edges were hard (but still edible), while the middles were soft.  I don’t think I’d make glutino brownies again, but we all went back for seconds so that says something, right?

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Breakfast: a man with a hat (aka eggs with spinach and Canyon Bakehouse toast with avo)

Lunch: salad with leftovers

My sister stopped by to play with her ‘phew for a bit before his nap so she got to see his walking skills in person.  I spent the afternoon running very important errands (See’s candy and WF) and shopping (Old Navy).

Kyle was away for a business dinner and my dad was spending the night at the vineyard (my grandpa just got out of the hospital) so it was just the girls for dinner.


Melon is soooo summer.

P devoured 1/4 of the melon in 3 seconds flat before doing a complete 180 and shunning it like I was trying to poison him.  Such a bizarre thing to watch.  But it left the rest for our salad.


Yup, it’s the butter lettuce, avocado, cantaloupe salad with poppyseed dressing.


With chicken to call it a meal.  My sister joined us after she got off work and we all had a nice relaxing time chatting over fresh summer fare.  Mmmm…

I waited til Kyle got back to dig into the brownies for dessert.  Naturally we finished them all off.

Tuesday morning we hit the road early (P woke up at 4 am anyway) and it was back to the grind.

But now it’s already another weekend and we have big plans to soak up this 100 degree weather.  🙂

Australia: Din Tai Fung Dumplings

Tuesday morning was our most normal sleep schedule yet!  P didn’t stir until 7 am so we slept in and seemed to get on Australian time all the way.  I also didn’t cough all night long.  We went on a family walk after Chris and Laura left for work, just around the neighborhood.  It was so nice outside we couldn’t help but soak it up.  Once we got home we showered and made breakfast for the three of us.

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P played with the Tupperware some more because he’s obsessed, which tired him out and created the perfect nap scenario.  Once again his morning nap lasted 2 hours…which was eating into our plans for the afternoon…so we had to wake him up.  He wasn’t ready at all and it took a bit of effort to wake him.  Such a sweet angel when he’s sleeping.  Eventually we got him changed and ready to head off.

We met Laura and Chris in the CBD for a lunch date at Din Tai Fung (aka the most famous dumplings in the world).  I’d read about it (in Bon Appetit) prior to coming here but Laura and Chris both mentioned it once we arrived in Sydney so clearly it was a must for foodies.  It was also the first Asian restaurant we took P to, which made me semi nervous since there’s so much sesame and peanuts/tree nuts (and oils) in Asian cuisine.

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As per usual I wiped down the high chair and table and kept a close watch on what he was exposed to, and it all worked out fine.  Phew.


The food was really good.  We got vegetarian dumplings, pork dumplings, pork buns, fried rice, noodles, shrimp and pineapple, and fried chicken.

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I tried everything but the chicken and wonton noodle soup (above).

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The vegetarian dumplings were legit with the greens and water chestnuts.  Mmmm.


The pork dumplings were also super good and reminded me of the potstickers I used to eat way back when I was little and we went to our fave Chinese spot in town, the Great Wall.  Probably because that’s really the only time I ate pork but the flavors were great.  The dumplings were jiggly due to flavorful juices that burst on your tongue when you popped them in your mouth.


The pork bun was doughy and meaty in perfect balance.


The pineapple shrimp was the best of all.  I’m not sure what the mayo sauce was that smothered it, but it was delicious.


All in all, a damn fine lunch (and my stomach had zero issues whatsoever!!!).  P pounded two happybaby pouches (butternut squash apple with chia seeds and plum pear raspberry) and then played with the containers while we ate.  He was content and entertained and despite the fact that the wait staff tried to serve him a kids tray a few times (super cute btw!) it was both a yummy and stress free meal.

Afterwards, Chris and Laura went back to work and Kyle and I stayed in the CBD to explore.  First we hit up the QVB (these Aussies and their abbreviations!!).  The Queen Victoria Building is basically a gorgeous building with shops and cafés inside.  I ended up getting two shorts and then we meandered towards Pitt street for more shopping.  The Westfield mall was there with a million more stores and there was a nice promenade too.

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Kyle got fro-yo while P snoozed in my chest in the ergo for his afternoon nap.  I tried on a few more things once he woke up but didn’t end up buying anything else.  We grabbed the ferry back home from Circular Quay and then went to the local park in double bay to let Pacman play on the grass and swing and stuff.

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What a silly little face.


For dinner we split up the tasks – Chris (and Laura?) bbqed and I made a big salad with romaine, quinoa, goats cheese, corn, and pepitas with a mustard red wine vinaigrette.


The goat cheese was very similar to the goat gouda Kyle and I bought on repeat all last summer from the Davis Farmer’s Market.

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We had that with shrimp and steak.  I’m still not sure about steak as a main dish (I couldn’t finish mine – I think I’m more of a meat-as-an-accent person? – I dunno, still sorting it out) but Chris cooked it perfectly.  The shrimp were awesome too with a basil chili paste marinade and then blackened on the grill.


We kept it mellow with some tv and vino in the evening.

Australia: a balloon welcome!


Best airport greeting! [photo collage borrowed from my sister’s IG]

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Auntie Laura knows her nephew well because she brought a balloon to the airport for him and it was basically the best thing ever.

He didn’t care about anything else once it was in his hands.  Vacation on.

It’s hard to know where the first day technically starts since it was a 24 hour travel extravaganza followed by a full day upon arrival.  We left on Wednesday and arrived Friday morning and it was about what you’d expect as far as flying with a one year old goes.  He wasn’t happy for he first few hours of the flight because he was over tired and cranky, but once he got some zzzz under his belt he was at least not as fussy.  He still needed full attention from one person at all times in the form of entertainment.  Exhausting.  But he was a good kid. He cried minimally on the plane and I don’t think our fellow passengers wanted to shoot us after the flight so I’d call that a successes story.


The weather was gorgeous on Friday and as soon as we left the airport I stripped out of as many layers as possible.  Laura was there to greet us as soon as we cleared customs and she had a balloon for Patrick which was the exact thing he (we) needed to revitalize him.  Such a good auntie.

Laura drove us home to her place and after we got settled she went to work and we showered, fed Patrick and then walked to the cute shops and cafés in Double Bay for breakfast/lunch (or whatever meal it was in us time).


We went to Cafe Indigo, one of Laura’s fave places.  I immediately understood why because the menu looked so good.  To start we split the acai smoothie which was super refreshing.

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I wanted to try everything but I chose the BLAT (above right).  Kyle got the Salmon Benedict (below).


Both we’re outstanding and we scarfed them like savages.  Kinda embarrassing but we were really hungry.


Mine was on gluten free bread, which turned out to be a hugely easy dietary request (practically every single restaurant in Sydney accommodates GF folks).  It tasted like heaven.

I felt like a complete scrub because my outfit was way casual and the atmosphere felt very “ladies who lunch” (which makes sense given the fact that it was a weekday in a rich neighborhood).


P watched the birds and pulled his shoes and socks off while we ate. Afterwards we strolled around popping into a few shops in an attempt to buy a pair of shorts (I did not pack for the current weather forecast at all!).  Unfortunately it was all designer stuff so that was pretty much a no go.  Pacman passed out in the stroller soon thereafter, so we went back to Laura’s and put him in he pack n play where he napped for 35-ish minutes.  I’ll take it.


After he woke up we fed him and went back out to try again for shorts shopping.  This time we had luck at Esprit (welcome to the 80’s!?).

Laura got home in the early afternoon and we went to get groceries and booze before we all hit a wall.


Look at all the specialty items at the main stream grocery store!  Gluten free this and that.  Nut free this and that.  Allergy awareness like whoa.  We got lots of stuff for P (basics like bananas, avo, quinoa, eggs, etc.).

P went down for bed soon after (although we did get him to the beach to see how he liked the sand and water first – hilarious) and then we got to work on dinner.

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Apps while we cooked (goat cheese and GF crackers).  The crackers tasted like glutino crackers and the cheese tasted like alouette (brought back memories of childhood cheese eating).

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We had BBQ chicken and corn with quinoa and a tomato and avocado salad.  Delish.

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We waited to eat until Chris came home and then dug in.  P enjoyed the leftover quinoa throughout the rest of the week – mixed with banana or applesauce.

Kyle and I went to bed around 9 hoping to get semi on schedule with the Australian time change.

P woke up at 3 am which was especially brutal because I was sick with a cough (going on one week).  Kyle occupied him after I nursed him and I went to the living room to get extra rest on the couch.  It was such an amazing gift to me – I don’t think I could have functioned without those extra few hours of sleep. I know I would have gotten way sicker too which sucks when you’re on vacation.  I still fought the cold for the first half of the trip but it wasn’t the flu or anything so I could deal.

Our first weekend back in LA

It’s so weird that we haven’t been back to LA since we left back in April.  We’ve seen several of our so cal friends since but not all of them so we decided to pop in for a quick visit.

Honestly, we’ve been trying to squeeze a weekend in since this past fall, but then all this (good) stuff was happening with Kyle’s business…and then the holidays came along…and you know how it goes…


But we finally got this in the calendar and what a fun time it was!

Now.  As much as I adore my friends, I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit to being really really excited about the restaurant scene.  Davis is great for farm fresh produce and exceptional quality in whole food ingredients, but there aren’t too many options for dining out.  Not that it matters now, because we don’t dine out with a baby, but it limits our take-out options and means I cook our food 99% of the time.  That’s great for our bank account, but can be exhausting. 

Some times I miss the days of treating ourselves to the Whole Foods hot bar or the Veggie Grill.  Back then I thought we did it way too often, but now I’m glad I indulged.

Santa Monica (and the surrounding Westside) is packed with vegan and vegetarian options that spoiled me so rotten when we lived there!  Native Foods, Real Food Daily, Blue Plate, Seed – I could go on and on…and that’s not even including the new places like Sage or the ones I never tried , like Cafe Gratitude.

But I digress.  I love living in Davis, and the sushi I get here is actually the best I’ve ever had, so that’s the positive.


We left after Thursday’s swim classes and P fell asleep right away.  In a super awkward position.  But he didn’t want to budge when I tried to ease his neck back to a more neutral position.  Oh well.

Unfortunately, he didn’t sleep too long, but it was at least enough time for me to eat breakfast and finish my starbucks.  I’m really torn when I drink coffee now because I don’t know what to use as a milk.  The only options at Starbucks are soy and dairy and P’s skin is looking SO much better since I’ve been eliminating his allergies from my own diet.  At home I’ve been trying to limit my nut intake to just the almond milk in my coffee but I know I should get rid of that too.  Which means I either get to drink black coffee or figure out a non-soy, non-nut, non-dairy, non-seed alternative.  Rice and oat milk have zip to offer nutritionally, so I’m thinking I may try coconut milk and see how he reacts?  Coconut is supposed to be a palm fruit so it should be safe, but I’m still nervous. 

Anyway, I ended up feeding him banana and corn puffs and some other snacks while Kyle drove.  After that he finally fell asleep for a more real nap.

We only stopped once to get gas, pee, nurse, and all that jazz…during which we laid out a blanket on a grassy patch so patty-cakes could burn off some energy.  I feel so bad that he’s strapped into the car seat because he wants to romp so badly nowadays.


We finally made it to Newport Beach, where we were staying the night with my g-ma.


We called in an order for take-out from Native Foods in Costa Mesa.

Dinner is served!


I told Kyle to tell them no onions, which apparently meant no onions or salsa.  Bummer.  The Caribbean Jerk Kale salad could have used a little more something something, but it was good anyway. 

Their menu has lots of new things on it, and I wish I could have tried a few of them, but I was in the mood for kale, so the kale salad with tempeh seasoning won out. 

[Side note: it is really hard to find a soy, nut, seed, and wheat free option on a vegan menu.  I knew this going into the weekend, but decided to just do my best, enjoy the food from my fave restaurants as well as I was able while still minding P’s allergies, and once we got home I’d reassess my plan for the future.]


Kyle got the Oklahoma burger, which is one of his standards, with sweet potato fries.

We tried to play with the little guy and stimulate him a lot in that last hour before his bedtime, to try to make up for a boring day for him.  He wasn’t too fussy in the car ride, but we still felt bad.


My g-ma very nicely shared her holiday chocolates with us for dessert. 

The next day we hit the road after breakfast. 


I made us all some eggs, and I was so impressed with the fact that I didn’t crack any yolks I had to take a photo!

Once we arrived in Westwood, we swung by the hospital to say hi to my old coworkers and visit the units that delivered P and took care of me post-partum.

Then it was off to lunch!


Huckleberry always sounds delicious and they had a ton of new menu offerings!


I got the salad trio plate, which was really hard because I wanted at least 6 of the items in the window.  I narrowed it down to the shaved brussels sprout salad, roasted carrots, and fried tofu. 


I also got a quinoa cake.


The brussels salad was AMAZING.  I don’t even like capers (or so I thought) but it was salty perfection.  Combined with creamy avocado.  Mmmmm…

The tofu had sesame seeds, which I didn’t realize at the time, so I only had a few and saved the rest for later. 


Kyle enjoyed my bread in addition to his own order of the wedge salad and vegetarian quiche.


So cheesy.


P had fallen asleep in the car on the way from UCLA so we brought him in the stroller (covered with an aden & anais blanket) to try and prolong his nap but the street noise woke him up pretty much right after we were seated.  He was still tired so he was in and out of it, until he saw our food. 


I gave him a napkin to occupy him, which worked like a charm.  He ripped it into a million pieces and we ate in peace.  Win win.

After we were both stuffed we walked over to Montana Ave to meet up with Kyle’s friend.  From there on out we spent the day meeting up with various groups of friends.  I felt like a pinball on the Westside, just bouncing from one place to the next.


Eventually we got settled at Seamus & Cindy’s (we stayed with them for Fri and Sat night).  It was so cute watching the boys kinda not really play together.


James has a LOT of toys but he was so good at sharing. 


For dinner I went to the Veggie Grill in Westwood with my girls, Alene and Ethel


I was so excited to try some of their new items! 

PS Did you know they have an iPhone app?  Cutting edge much?  It’s awesome!


I got the kale caesar.  Yummm.

Kyle hung back with our sleeping babe and got pizza from CPK so it was especially nice having a girls night with my besties.  After I got home, we watched the last of the (DVR-ed) Orange Bowl game and passed out.

The next day we had a brunch on the calendar, so we were out of the house early and off to Rose Cafe.


I got a scramble with extra avocado, while Kyle got the spinach benedict. 


We both licked our plates clean.

P was especially popular since both the couples we went to breakfast with are pregnant! 

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Good practice.

We both felt like crap afterwards and I’m 99% sure the decaf we had wasn’t decaf at all.  My head was buzzing and I felt really blah. 

Since P fell asleep in the car we decided to take our time getting back to Seamus & Cindy’s place, so we ran some errands, including a trip to Bristol Farms for lunch/dinner BBQ stuff.


I sipped on Kombucha while the boys prepped and cooked and drank beer.

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More people came over around noon and the kiddos alternated eating and napping cycles.

We had chips and salsa, bread and cheese, and a massive spread of salads, asparagus, fish, meat, brownies, etc.


I had a couple of plates like this.

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And a gluten free beer that Ethel gave me the day before.  Whoa strong!  I had to pace myself with this one.

We spent the day watching football and kiddos, which is pretty much my heaven.


I had the same stuff for dinner because I stayed in with P while Kyle went out with the boys.

Cindy and I ended up staying up chatting and watching D list movies, but I loved it and wished we lived closer to each other so we could do it all the time.


Sunday morning was mellow.  We hit up Coral Tree for brunch, which was where Kyle and I went on our first date way back when. 


I got a big ass stack of GF blueberry pancakes (it’s hard to tell but that plate is massive) with a fried egg on the side.


Kyle got the almond crusted french toast with a strawberry smoothie.  I’m pretty sure the "almond crusted" portion was cereal because it looked an awful lot like honey bunches of oats to me. 

P watched on with envy as James enjoyed bits and pieces of Cindy and Seamus’ eats. 

We both had leftovers because the portions were massive which ended up being my second breakfast and lunch later on the road.


We basically packed up and headed back to Davis after that.  The kids played a little more together and we stopped for one last order from Veggie Grill though.


Also I went to WF to get a few packages of my fave seitan.  😉

The drive home was long.  Aside from a 30 minute nap, we had a really unhappy kid on our hands.  It was a real workout trying to keep him occupied while we listened to the Niners v. Packers game. 

We stopped twice – the first was a nursing break, and the second was to switch drivers. 

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Kyle’s BBQ tempeh smelled so good I decided to try and eat my dinner while driving.  [His is the crappy photo on the left (sorry!) and mine is the yummy monstrosity on the right.] 

I ate 3 bites of mine before realizing it was way unsafe.  So I waited to finish it once we got home.

For the record, the harvest bowl is most definitely one of the Veggie Grill’s best dishes.  It has Field Roast sausage, which is awesome, as well as quinoa, roasted veggies, and kale topped with a fantastic gravy / hemp seed sauce.  I loved the cauliflower and squash in the bowl as well as the dressing so so much. 


Now I’m going to be pestering Kevin Boylan to open a VG in Davis until it happens.

Back to meal planning and food prep!