tofu

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…

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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.

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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.

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

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

Dinner is served!

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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.]

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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.

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

The next day we hit the road after breakfast. 

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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!

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

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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. 

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I also got a quinoa cake.

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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. 

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

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So cheesy.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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! 

Before 2014 started

I did a pretty good job of meal planning that last week of the year.

First we finished off all the holiday leftovers we brought back from my parents’ house, including stuffing, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, and lima bean casserole.

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One day, I jazzed it up and made a cheesy “gravy” sauce with nooch and water. 

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And another day, I paired it with a salmon burger for some protein. 

Kyle took care of the rest of it.

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There was also extra shrimp and veggies from my parents’ holiday party so I pulled the two together for a stir fry.

I used a Cooking Light recipe for shrimp and broccoli stir fry and served it over brown rice.

Simple and yum.

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A Trader Joe’s run (holy condiments batman!) helped with the rest of the week’s meals.

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Quinoa Caesar.

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His had parm and home-made croutons, but I thought mine was perfect with TJ’s Caesar dressing alone.  I could eat romaine coated in Caesar dressing all day long, but adding quinoa really bulks it up nicely.

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The next day I made a huge enchilada casserole.

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It had crumbled tempeh, corn, and sweet potato; layered between ripped up corn tortillas, along with TJ’s red enchilada sauce, Redwood Hill Farm’s goat’s milk kefir.

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It may not look fancy, but it tasted dang good.

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And made enough to provide Kyle with lunch for the rest of the week.

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Topping it with avocado is advised.

The next night I made a coconut broth based noodle dish with veggies and tofu.

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I used what we had on hand veggie-wise, which was half an onion, Brussels sprouts, carrots and celery.

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I sautéed them with sesame oil and tamari until they were just barely cooked, then I added the coconut milk (plus a dash of curry powder, ginger powder, lime juice, and sugar) and let it simmer on low for a while.  Meanwhile I pressed and cubed the tofu.

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After the tofu went in, I put the lid on a turned the stove off until dinner time.

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Right before we were ready to eat I turned the stove back on and added the noodles to the pot with a cup or so of vegetable broth.

They cooked quickly and soaked up lots of the remaining liquid.

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This was a major success.  Kyle and I were both mmmm-ing the whole time.  Coconut milk (from the can) adds such depth to a recipe when it marinates with the other ingredients all day.  And who doesn’t like tofu and Brussels when they’re drenched in such flavorful sauce!?! 

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Totally awesome.

And that’s that!

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Lunches were simple salads or leftovers.

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Breakfasts were eggs with savory quickbread.

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I HAD to make another loaf because the first was so awesome.

So I did.  And I doubled the recipe (like I said I would!) and it still went too quickly.

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So I made another loaf!

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If the idea of cheesy bread with kale sounds appealing to you, you MUST make this bread.

I have to force myself to not eat it for every meal. 

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Red wood Hill Farm’s makes a damn fine goat’s milk cheddar, and with some kale and cornmeal, it’s downright sinful to the taste buds.

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And with that, I’m off to capitalize on nap time and do some meal planning for the next week!

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How silly is this kid?  He napped like that for an hour the other day. 

December snippets

I have an insane collection of photos from the past two (three?) weeks. 

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The holidays are just so crazy.  It’s even more fun with a kid.  I feel like we are creating memories and traditions. 

Blogging has been the last thing on my mind.  Actually it’s not the blogging part that’s the issue, it’s the uploading photos and editing part.  Why is that so annoying and time consuming?  I love connecting with you guys!  I’ve missed this. 

So that said.  Here’s snippets of the stuff I’ve been eating and doing.

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Trader Joe’s gingerbread house decorated by moi.  With moral support from the little guy.  I’m glad I did this before the peanut allergy fiasco because I probably would have skipped it (paranoia, I know). 

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I bought Unreal candy (found at Target FYI) and Glutino fudge coated GF pretzels (found at Nugget Market) to decorate the house, but once I opened it I saw they included some candy.  Fine by me!  More candy for me to eat!  The pretzels didn’t even survive a day in the house.  And I’ve already gotten two more bags.

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The people at Nugget think I’m crazy because I only go there for 2 things: kale chips and GF pretzels.  And yet I’m there almost twice a week for those things.  It’s within walking distance of our house, which is the problem.  Kale cravings?  Ten minutes later I’m good (albeit $7 poorer). 

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But I’m getting off topic.

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Do you speak whatever language this is?  No?  Me either.  Oh good, there’s an English side.

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I also bought egg whites in a carton because I read the back of the box and it said you needed whites to mix with the powdered sugar to make the icing and I hate wasting parts of egg.  Sure, I could save the yolk(s) and use them to make a custard or something blah blah blah, I’m not that organized.  Easier to just buy whites and not have to deal with separating them. 

Of course I didn’t pay attention to how much whites went with the sugar so mine ended up too liquidy and I had problems getting the house pieces to stay put.  But I’m crafty and I made it work.

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Ta-da!

Ok, so that was a fun little December activity.

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Oh hey irony.  This arrived the day after we returned from the hospital.  I’ve been very anal in using it.  At first it sat rejected in the cupboard.  But then I worked up the nerve to make something with it.  Of course P is nowhere near me and I do surgical scrubbing post meal.  It’s all very new. 

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Better than Christmas morning!  Maybe not really, but very close.  I cannot wait to dig in!

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Best quickbread I’ve made and it was almost a total disaster because I forgot the egg the first time around.  Stay tuned for this recipe (how many times have you heard that on HHH lately?  I suck, sorry).

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Mom and dad’s holiday party!  Unlike last year when I was super preggo, this year I could drink!  Hooray!  I sipped on Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc and nibbled on shrimp cocktail, chocolate toffee, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s vegan thumbprint cookies

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It was a super fun night.

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These alfajores were perfection.

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Kyle got a few treats for us from the Whole Foods in Roseville the night we stayed at the hospital over there.  I know you’re not "supposed to" reward yourself with food, but sh!t man.  My heart was working overtime that day so I will do what I want for my taste buds.  Took me back to our Buenos Aires vacation.  Man, I love alfajores.

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Crock pot chili.  Easy peasy.

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Roasted green beans and tofu (as prep), and another loaf of banana bread.

As you can see on the right, the beans and ‘fu were served over quinoa with Bragg’s aminos on top.

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Another meal in a bowl.  Quinoa and egg stir fry with extra carrots, tofu and avocado. 

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Family meal!

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Vroom!

Happy Holidays to you all.  🙂

The least I could do

Hi lashes!

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Here’s another insanely simple thing for people on the go.

I made it back for Kyle when I had mastitis and wasn’t in the mood to cook.  I was living off Halloween candy and popcorn so I figured this was the least I could do…

Enchilada Casserole [vegetarian]

Ingredients:

  • 18 oz dry pasta
  • 20 oz enchilada sauce
  • 3 c water
  • 1/2 c corn
  • 1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 box Hodo Soy curry tofu nuggets (or sub 1 block tofu, cubed)

Directions:

Pour pasta into greased casserole dish (I used a 7×11 pan).  Add sauce and water and make sure all noodles are fully submerged.  Add tofu and corn and then sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Easy as that!

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Looks like a watery soupy mess pre-oven (above)…but turns into a nice and flavorful cheesy baked pasta (below). 

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Told ya it was the least I could do.

Ice cream maker!!!

Going old school with the “what I ate” style blogging.

For breakfast I went to Crepeville with a coworker.  She was just getting off (a really crappy) night shift, so she vented to me and I listened.  P spent the morning throwing things from the stroller to the ground.  Whatever keeps you amused little man.

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I got the tofu scramble which comes with both hash browns and a bagel.  The portions at Crepeville are massively massive (LOVE!!!) so I took home the leftovers for Kyle.  Which is the bagel you see above.

Seriously Crepeville has never disappointed me.  I freakin’ love the place.  We have another breakfast date next week and I kinda wanna go to Crepeville again.  Maybe I should get a crepe one of these times.

Anyway, for lunch I had more brown rice pasta with hemp pesto, spinach, and a fried egg.

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In the afternoon I had a serious fro yo craving so I busted this guy out…

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Kyle’s parents hooked me up with this beauty for my birthday and I can tell it’s gonna be a blessing and a curse.  I cleaned it and froze it so the next day I could get my frosty dessert face on.  Send me recipes!!!  If you have a good non-dairy recipe, please leave it (or a link) in the comments section.

In the meantime I made a smoothie.  I got these fresh juiced greens in the mail a few weeks ago from Juice-Today

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Because they were immediately frozen after they were juiced, they tasted like they were freshly pressed! 

I blended the green one with canned coconut milk.  Love!  Highly recommend this product!  You can make your own mixes too.

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For dinner I had the rest of the cheesy broccoli soup with a big salad. 

The salad had forbidden rice, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, and tofurky Italian sausage. 

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All mixed up.

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I had chocolate for dessert.  Justin’s now makes candy bars.  OMG omg OMG!  They also sell their PB cups at Costco.  Just what I need…a Costco sized pack of peanut butter cups.  So about this candy bar.  Yes.  If you see it at your local grocery store just do it.