Menu Planning Monday: Regroup & Recup!

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I am still recovering from several whirlwind weeks of family celebrations including my beautiful daughter’s wedding!

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It’s been a wonderful Spring so far and I have managed to maintain my weight despite too many decadent meals and glasses of wine! Today is the day to get back to “normal,” though, and that starts with a proper meal plan. 

Once again, I’m featuring recipes from my favorite blog, FatFree Vegan Kitchen

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

 

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The Daily Dish: Vegan Lasagna Rollups

Here’s a well-known fact about me: I am enamored with all things Italian.  The language, the culture, the art, the fashion, and of course, the food. It’s my favorite way to cook, and I learned to do so from my wonderful ex-family who was half Italian (and half Irish, but more about that later). My “signature dish,” the one I’m known for, the most requested for not only holidays but birthdays & other celebrations: Stuffed Shells Florentine.  Served right after antipasto and  before the salad (to help digestion, they say), with a hunk of good Italian bread to soak up the sauce….delizioso! I’ve delivered this to many a potluck & dropped at the doorstep of several new mamas, so I knew I had to make it for my daughter’s Babymoon Meal Train.

Now, since going vegan I have been experimenting with a dairy-free version of this recipe, trying many different recipes calling for various vegan cheeses, both commercially-produced and homemade, in attempt to replicate the gooey cheesy goodness of the original.  I’m sorry to say, I have not yet experienced complete success. I came close, and wrote about that on my old blog, but there’s still some work to do. In the meantime, I found Brand New Vegan’s amazing recipe for Lasagna Rollups and they are now the go-to meal for all of the above occasions, including the birth of my sweet granddaughter.

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In progress…

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THIS is why a meal train is so important! What new parents have time to clean up this mess?

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Voila! I broke the recipe into two platters so that one can be frozen for a later meal.

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I love the cute labels that Meal Train provides!

Of course I included extra sauce and the ingredients to make our favorite bread, Grandma’s Garlic Bread, recipe by The Jazzy Vegetarian.

Someday maybe I’ll perfect those Stuffed Shells, but in the meantime, everyone is quite happy with the scrumptious substitute.

What’s your favorite Italian meal?

Michele~

Cook’s Note: A typical serving of this meal for my family is two rollups, one serving of sauce, and 1 hunk of Italian bread. This would “cost” you 11 SmartPoints which is a bit higher than I like but certainly worth it, especially for a special occasion!

Nutritional Information, as calculated by Mastercook:

Fat Free Marinara Sauce: Per Serving: 85 Calories; trace Fat (2.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 722mg Sodium; 2 Weight Watchers SmartPoints 

Vegan Lasagna Rollups (sans sauce): Per Serving: 389 Calories; 6g Fat (13.9% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 104mg Sodium; 4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

Grandma’s Garlic Bread: Per Serving: 75 Calories; 8g Fat (89.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 99mg Sodium; 5 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

 

Babymoon

Wow, so much has happened since my last post, I’m not going to try to catch you up all at once! These pictures should give you an idea of what’s been taking up my time & energy the past couple of weeks!

Yes, I’ve become a grandma once again! She is Rosemary Phyllis, the middle name to honor my mom. Of course, we are all over the moon and completely in love with this little angel and I can barely stand to be away from her, Angelo, and of course my amazing daughter. Chip and I have been driving back & forth to visit a couple times per week, bringing goodies for the little family & helping out where we can. When I’m away from them, I have been doing my part by cooking meals, contributing to their “Babymoon” Meal Train.

There have been some important happenings in other areas of my life, but for now let’s just focus on the good stuff, ok? When life is hard or sad, a cuddle with a precious newborn or sweet toddler makes everything better, if only for a moment.

Today I’ll be making Scottish Vegan Cottage Pie and Irish Soda Bread to deliver tomorrow, both veganized versions of family favorites and a nice way to extend the St Patrick’s Day festivities.

I did a test run of the soda bread yesterday, and while the taste was exactly like the original version I know & love, I need to work on size of loaf and cooking times as the outside was done way before the inside!

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Alas, I’ll have to enjoy that “failure” all by myself. *wink*

Have a beautiful day!

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

 

 

 

Monday Menu Planning: Goodbye, July!

Angelo beach

I seriously can’t believe that today is the last day of July! Where has the summer gone? We’ve enjoyed our beach & pool time, but it’s been so ridiculously hot, I’m actually glad there are a few rainy days on the forecast that will hopefully cool things down a tiny bit and give us an excuse to stay inside. (Of course, my adorable grandson doesn’t agree; he can’t get enough of the outdoors!)

With that in mind, I’m planning a couple of rainy day comfort food meals this week, featuring a few of my favorite bloggers.

I’m also cleaning up my “diet” a bit since the past couple of weekly weigh-ins have been disappointing. Groan..

Here’s to a fresh new week and a whole new month! Have a great day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

 

 

Happy New Year

Goodbye, 2016, and good riddance! Overall, you were a pretty rotten year. To recap,  in January we became aware of some health issues with my dad, symptoms that his girlfriend couldn’t deal with on her own. In early March, we moved him 350 miles from home, up here with us, and started the rounds of doctors and tests which, in mid-April, lead to the diagnosis: Alzheimer’s Disease/Lewy Body Dementia. 

(In the midst of this, one very BIG, very BRIGHT spot..we welcomed my first grandchild into the world. The amazing, adorable Angelo graced us with his presence in April, and he has kept me laughing & smiling through the darkest parts of this year. What a blessing he already is, what a joy!)

So, we sold Dad’s truck and beautiful 5th wheel trailer and with that went his dream of traveling the country, enjoying his retirement after 42 years with the same company. It was devastating. We were able to move him into his own small home, maintaining some independence,  but he requires some supervision so we hired caregivers to be with him about 75% of the time.

At some point that’s not going to be enough and I will have to make the Big Decision. For now, I’m just treading water, trying not to drown under the worry and overwhelming responsibility that comes with being the only child of an ailing, aging parent. It requires more patience, strength and grace than I possess on any given day.  I’ve discovered skills I never knew I had and dusted off some I never thought I’d need again.  Managing finances, caregivers & general day to day life, doctor visits (and one scary hospital stay), has become  the focus of my life. It has become a full-time job, because even when he’s being cared for by paid professionals, I’m still on call. 24/7, 7 days a week. My phone is far from my side. No vacations, no holidays, no days off where I can just put Dad’s illness on the back burner and focus on ME. It’s sad and stressful and all-consuming. Yet, I keep going. I keep swimming, as Dory advises, hoping that I make it look easier, that I appear more graceful than I actually am. Because it’s not his fault. And I’m not complaining, truly I’m not. It’s just freaking hard, that’s all.

With all of this going on, I moved Dad to the front burner and put everything else in the back. My hobbies, my goals, my health..my weight loss. My fitness. All of it got put on hold. I tried to keep up with my daily walks, but either I was too busy or I was simply too tired or stressed. It was easier to self-medicate with food instead of exercise. I allowed some more junk to seep back into my diet, especially while cooking for Dad who is definitely not vegan but was willing to try some faux meat products, just nothing too “green” or anything that looked like “weeds.” So, more veggie burgers, hot dogs & fries & less kale ended up on my plate for a while. My Fitbit continued to plug along, logging the couple thousand steps that were part of my daily routine. Now & then I managed a long beach walk, and my body & soul thanked me for it but I couldn’t manage to sustain that habit. As a result, my clothes got tighter. The  numbers on the scale started going in the wrong direction. And before I knew it, 10 of the 20 lost pounds had crept back on.

 

Sad & sobering and oh-so-disappointing. But, here I am. It’s a new year, can’t do anything about what happened in 2016. What now? Do I keep heading in that direction, just treading water and surviving? Nah, let’s not. A better idea would be to get myself together, force myself (and others) to put myself first, or at least somewhere near the top. How to do that? Well, I think we have a working system in place, that Dad’s needs are being met..for now.  There will always be adjustments, issues that come up that will need addressing, but I can’t sit around waiting for what might happen. I need to keep living my life the best I can. I have a father to care for, but I also have a partner, children and a grandchild who want and need me around! In order to do that, I’ve gotta take care of myself. I’ve got to do what keeps me healthy & happy because if I’m not around, who’s gonna take care of Dad?

So, I am already working on the new plan. It involves some elements from the past, what worked before, with a few new habits thrown in. I’m excited and hopeful and determined to lose what I gained in weight, and gained what I lost in fitness & mental health.

For the readers who are still with me, thanks for hanging in there. I hope to see more of you in 2017.

Michele~

The Daily Dish: Italian Noodle Soup

Italian Noodle Soup

As I mentioned, I did some batch cooking over the weekend and one of the dishes I prepared was this Italian Noodle Soup.  The recipe reminded me of a family favorite I made often when my children were small, Tortellini Soup.  It consisted of a bag of frozen tortellini, frozen spinach, broth and some spices.  It was delicious and so easy, I could throw it together with a baby balanced on one hip and a toddler at my feet!  Of course, this was before we went vegan and since I’ve yet to discover a good veg-friendly tortellini, I had to find a substitute.

This recipe from Your Cup of Cake is just as easy to prepare and if topped with some dairy-free Parmesan, I get the same cheesy flavor as the original we knew and loved!  It was so good that I packed up the leftovers and brought them to my daughter’s house where we feasted once again!

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Along with a (vegan) Antipasto, kale salad and garlic bread, this was a wonderful meal, made even better by the company I got to share it with.

Cook’s Note: I used about 2 cups more vegetable broth than suggested as the finished product was a little too thick for my taste. I threw in a chopped zucchini that I had on hand for more veggie goodness! I sprinkled dairy-free Parmesan on top of each bowl before serving. This made a generous amount of soup, at least 8 servings, especially if you accompany it with salad and bread as we did. I’d probably use a different kind of pasta next time as the long noodles made it a bit sloppy (but fun!) to eat.

Approximately 8 Servings – Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:  224 Calories; 1g Fat (5.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1071mg Sodium.

The Verdict: Delicious! So simple to make and the mild flavors make it perfect for children.

Today I’ll say a reluctant goodbye to my girls as we load up the car and head back home.  I’ll be leaving containers of food in my wake, though, some of Mom’s cooking to tide them over til the next visit!

Have a wonderful day!