Running in My First 5k

This guest post was written my beloved Christine, my partner in all things. As I’ve written before, she encouraged me to get fit at the beginning of this year. She is an inspiration to me and I wanted to share her fitness story with you. These are her words! And she has all of my pride 🙂

When I signed up to run my first ever 5K race I was not at all prepared…

This guest post was written my beloved Christine, my partner in all things. As I’ve written before, she encouraged me to get fit at the beginning of this year. She is an inspiration to me and I wanted to share her fitness story with you. These are her words! And she has all of my pride 🙂

When I signed up to run my first ever 5K race I was not at all prepared…

My Blog, My Content

At the beginning of this year I decided to step it up a notch when it came to blogging. As a member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance I am exposed to a number of amazing blogs on a daily basis. They’re extremely active, well photographed, and full of varied content including recipes, reviews, giveaways, and so, so much more. I wanted to be like these blogs. Who wouldn’t want to be that awesome?

So I signed up for a couple of PR directories so I could get regular offers from companies that were supposed to align with my blog’s purpose. I also started sending out monthly newsletters to readers, each containing a new recipe with personal notes on what’s been going on with me. Around this time I also signed up to create recipes once per month for the website All About Vegan Food.

Everything went really well for a few months. And then, what seemed like all of a sudden, I just did not want to blog about anything anymore. I started thinking about why I felt this way. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. The powers that be typically recommend that you post a new blog entry at least once per week to keep generating new and return site traffic. While I had been able to maintain this for a couple of years before, I was somehow struggling with it now. Probably because I have additional hobbies and interests now. And I had the added tasks to creating my newsletter and contributing to another website. The weekend would creep up on me and my brain screamed, “Ugh! I have to write another blog post!”
  2. My inbox was inundated with offers for free content and interview requests. And then follow ups to those emails I did not dignify with a response. And they were mostly for providing me with content like recipes that my “readers will love.” You know, for like bacon bowls and great barbecue. Right up my alley! A very small percentage of offers were related to actual vegan-friendly products. I would say that most PR groups don’t even look at a blog or their description in the directory they use before sending out offers.
  3. The hostile atmosphere of blogging has reared its head on me more than once in the past six months. I’ve experienced this in times previous while running other blogs before I started Lizz Delicious. Essentially, while I have tried to foster a spirit of community, encouraging vegan bloggers to work together through offering guest posts on my blog, trying to organize blog parties, and searching for content to use in my recipe roundups, the majority of writers are only concerned with their own content, seeking likes and plus ones and re-tweets and not reciprocating. They want to know if you’ll write about them on your blog, or if you’ll review their book. But they never have any option to cross-promote. Because, I would presume, they’re more focused on being successful than they are on interacting with the rest of the community.

These three things were stressing me out so much that I really thought about just not blogging anymore. Why keep doing it if it was no longer fun? After a couple of days, though, that seemed kind of drastic. I therefore contemplated how I could remedy my fractured relationship with blogging. I’ve consequently come up with a new premise for Lizz Delicious, though the only thing that will really change is my attitude toward, blogging, hahaha.

Basically, I’m going forward operating under the concept of being a “cookbook author with a personal blog” as opposed to being a “food blogger.” I feel like this will suit me better. Of course, I’m still going to write 1-2, maybe 3 posts per month, but they’re going to be about me, or they’ll be for a new recipe, or about a restaurant I just tried out. I’m not going to do product reviews, giveaways, or shared content anymore. I just don’t have the time. I would rather provide my readers with quality content as opposed to frequent syndicated nonsense. And my true passion is recipe development. I am in love with the new cookbook I’m working on. That’s the only thing I really want to focus on right now.

I just wish I figured this out earlier. I feel like I would be further along developing my next cookbook, or I would have been able to share more recipes with you. This is a lesson I feel like a lot of bloggers could benefit from, which is why I’m sharing my story here. Don’t try to make your blog into something it’s not. We’re raised being told to be ourselves and your blog should be no different. Do your own thing. Write what makes you happy. Don’t conform. You will lose that battle!

Thanks for reading, you guys. I appreciate each and every one of you. I couldn’t ask for a better audience 🙂

At the beginning of this year I decided to step it up a notch when it came to blogging. As a member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance I am exposed to a number of amazing blogs on a daily basis. They’re extremely active, well photographed, and full of varied content including recipes, reviews, giveaways, and so, so much more. I wanted to be like these blogs. Who wouldn’t want to be that awesome?

So I signed up for a couple of PR directories so I could get regular offers from companies that were supposed to align with my blog’s purpose. I also started sending out monthly newsletters to readers, each containing a new recipe with personal notes on what’s been going on with me. Around this time I also signed up to create recipes once per month for the website All About Vegan Food.

Everything went really well for a few months. And then, what seemed like all of a sudden, I just did not want to blog about anything anymore. I started thinking about why I felt this way. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. The powers that be typically recommend that you post a new blog entry at least once per week to keep generating new and return site traffic. While I had been able to maintain this for a couple of years before, I was somehow struggling with it now. Probably because I have additional hobbies and interests now. And I had the added tasks to creating my newsletter and contributing to another website. The weekend would creep up on me and my brain screamed, “Ugh! I have to write another blog post!”
  2. My inbox was inundated with offers for free content and interview requests. And then follow ups to those emails I did not dignify with a response. And they were mostly for providing me with content like recipes that my “readers will love.” You know, for like bacon bowls and great barbecue. Right up my alley! A very small percentage of offers were related to actual vegan-friendly products. I would say that most PR groups don’t even look at a blog or their description in the directory they use before sending out offers.
  3. The hostile atmosphere of blogging has reared its head on me more than once in the past six months. I’ve experienced this in times previous while running other blogs before I started Lizz Delicious. Essentially, while I have tried to foster a spirit of community, encouraging vegan bloggers to work together through offering guest posts on my blog, trying to organize blog parties, and searching for content to use in my recipe roundups, the majority of writers are only concerned with their own content, seeking likes and plus ones and re-tweets and not reciprocating. They want to know if you’ll write about them on your blog, or if you’ll review their book. But they never have any option to cross-promote. Because, I would presume, they’re more focused on being successful than they are on interacting with the rest of the community.

These three things were stressing me out so much that I really thought about just not blogging anymore. Why keep doing it if it was no longer fun? After a couple of days, though, that seemed kind of drastic. I therefore contemplated how I could remedy my fractured relationship with blogging. I’ve consequently come up with a new premise for Lizz Delicious, though the only thing that will really change is my attitude toward, blogging, hahaha.

Basically, I’m going forward operating under the concept of being a “cookbook author with a personal blog” as opposed to being a “food blogger.” I feel like this will suit me better. Of course, I’m still going to write 1-2, maybe 3 posts per month, but they’re going to be about me, or they’ll be for a new recipe, or about a restaurant I just tried out. I’m not going to do product reviews, giveaways, or shared content anymore. I just don’t have the time. I would rather provide my readers with quality content as opposed to frequent syndicated nonsense. And my true passion is recipe development. I am in love with the new cookbook I’m working on. That’s the only thing I really want to focus on right now.

I just wish I figured this out earlier. I feel like I would be further along developing my next cookbook, or I would have been able to share more recipes with you. This is a lesson I feel like a lot of bloggers could benefit from, which is why I’m sharing my story here. Don’t try to make your blog into something it’s not. We’re raised being told to be ourselves and your blog should be no different. Do your own thing. Write what makes you happy. Don’t conform. You will lose that battle!

Thanks for reading, you guys. I appreciate each and every one of you. I couldn’t ask for a better audience 🙂

Earth Burger – Now Open!

Make no mistake, my favorite vegetarian restaurant is +Green Vegetarian Cuisine  in San Antonio, Texas. That’s why I was so excited to hear that they had decided to expand. They now have two locations in SA and one in Houston. They also recently opened their first +Earth Burger, a fast-food burger and sandwich joint that is 100% vegetarian.

I had been following this project since they started promoting it last year. I backed their Kickstarter, too. I just really wanted this project to come to fruition. Mostly because I want them to open a location in Austin, hahaha. When word came that they would be open at the beginning of June, I excitedly asked my partner if we could go there for my birthday. And, as I am spoiled, she said, “of course,” and we celebrated my 32nd day of birth by going to San Antonio during Earth Burger’s opening weekend.

First, the two of us biked along the San Antonio greenway on a portion of the Salado Creek Loop. The temperature averaged 90 degrees but a cool breeze and a steady speed kept us from burning in the Texas heat. Absolutely dreamy! Take a look.

Big skies, vibrant colors, peace, and serenity.
I should mention, however, that this photo was taken just after I fell off my bike. True story! My shoelace got caught in my pedal, I braked, and proceeded to fall onto my side. So graceful. We tucked my laces into my shoes and moved on!
I really recommend this trail. And I wish they had something remotely as wonderful in Austin. I mean, really.

The portion of the trail we traveled is near the San Antonio International Airport. Seeing the planes fly by made us feel like little kids again. I have very fond recollections of getting French fries from McDonald’s and driving out to the Manchester airport in New Hampshire with my brother and father, staring up through the front window of the car watching the jets land. It’s rare that you can get so close to planes like that these days!
Needless to say, as a beginner biker I was pooped after our nearly 8 mile adventure. We couldn’t get to Earth Burger fast enough as far as I was concerned. Thankfully, it took us less than 10 minutes to get there!!
I feel odd saying it this way, but unfortunately by the time we arrived there weren’t any seats available, inside or out. I’m definitely glad to have seen it so busy. Immensely so. I just would have preferred some air conditioning! Instead, Chris and I pulled up a patch of grass and enjoyed our meal.
Pictured above is Chris’s “Spicy Chik-n Sandwich.” It came topped with tomato, onion, lettuce, and Sriracha vegan mayo. She loved it.

And I ordered the “Chopped BBQ Sandwich” made from TVP and drowning in a sweet barbecue sauce. It came with onions and pickles. The bun was so light and fluffy. Really flavorful. It paired excellently with the seasoned crinkle fries and Dr. Pepper. Hey, it’s Texas. Kind of required.
We had ordered desserts and were told that we could come back in to pick them up when we were finished. I had a concern for the well-being of my ice cream sitting outside. I wanted coconut soft serve not coconut soup. I gobbled it up in the car on the drive home. I just love the texture of their soft serve. Thick, creamy, and smooth. The coconut flavor was light but strong enough to put off a coconut hater for sure. 

There are a number of reasons why you should visit Earth Burger. First and foremost is obviously that the food is delicious. Then there’s the fact that everything is affordable. A combo is $8 and that includes the burger/sandwich, fries, and a drink. It filled me up so much that I didn’t eat dinner until 8 o’clock later that day. Also, the concept is a long time coming. We need more vegetarian fast food restaurants. We also need them to be locally owned and vegetarian operated, just like Earth Burger and Green. This family goes above and beyond, too. Did you know that they use biodegradable plastic cups and straws? Brilliant.

Let’s all make sure we support Earth Burger. While no plans have been announced to expand into other cities, the best way to plant that bug in their ear is to give them your business. You can find them at the Park North Shopping Center, 818 NW Loop 410 in San Antonio open Sunday to Thursday 10a-10p and Friday 10a-8p. CLOSED SATURDAY. Visit www.EatAtEarthBurger.com for more information and for a complete menu!

Make no mistake, my favorite vegetarian restaurant is +Green Vegetarian Cuisine  in San Antonio, Texas. That’s why I was so excited to hear that they had decided to expand. They now have two locations in SA and one in Houston. They also recently opened their first +Earth Burger, a fast-food burger and sandwich joint that is 100% vegetarian.

I had been following this project since they started promoting it last year. I backed their Kickstarter, too. I just really wanted this project to come to fruition. Mostly because I want them to open a location in Austin, hahaha. When word came that they would be open at the beginning of June, I excitedly asked my partner if we could go there for my birthday. And, as I am spoiled, she said, “of course,” and we celebrated my 32nd day of birth by going to San Antonio during Earth Burger’s opening weekend.

First, the two of us biked along the San Antonio greenway on a portion of the Salado Creek Loop. The temperature averaged 90 degrees but a cool breeze and a steady speed kept us from burning in the Texas heat. Absolutely dreamy! Take a look.

Big skies, vibrant colors, peace, and serenity.
I should mention, however, that this photo was taken just after I fell off my bike. True story! My shoelace got caught in my pedal, I braked, and proceeded to fall onto my side. So graceful. We tucked my laces into my shoes and moved on!
I really recommend this trail. And I wish they had something remotely as wonderful in Austin. I mean, really.

The portion of the trail we traveled is near the San Antonio International Airport. Seeing the planes fly by made us feel like little kids again. I have very fond recollections of getting French fries from McDonald’s and driving out to the Manchester airport in New Hampshire with my brother and father, staring up through the front window of the car watching the jets land. It’s rare that you can get so close to planes like that these days!
Needless to say, as a beginner biker I was pooped after our nearly 8 mile adventure. We couldn’t get to Earth Burger fast enough as far as I was concerned. Thankfully, it took us less than 10 minutes to get there!!
I feel odd saying it this way, but unfortunately by the time we arrived there weren’t any seats available, inside or out. I’m definitely glad to have seen it so busy. Immensely so. I just would have preferred some air conditioning! Instead, Chris and I pulled up a patch of grass and enjoyed our meal.
Pictured above is Chris’s “Spicy Chik-n Sandwich.” It came topped with tomato, onion, lettuce, and Sriracha vegan mayo. She loved it.

And I ordered the “Chopped BBQ Sandwich” made from TVP and drowning in a sweet barbecue sauce. It came with onions and pickles. The bun was so light and fluffy. Really flavorful. It paired excellently with the seasoned crinkle fries and Dr. Pepper. Hey, it’s Texas. Kind of required.
We had ordered desserts and were told that we could come back in to pick them up when we were finished. I had a concern for the well-being of my ice cream sitting outside. I wanted coconut soft serve not coconut soup. I gobbled it up in the car on the drive home. I just love the texture of their soft serve. Thick, creamy, and smooth. The coconut flavor was light but strong enough to put off a coconut hater for sure. 

There are a number of reasons why you should visit Earth Burger. First and foremost is obviously that the food is delicious. Then there’s the fact that everything is affordable. A combo is $8 and that includes the burger/sandwich, fries, and a drink. It filled me up so much that I didn’t eat dinner until 8 o’clock later that day. Also, the concept is a long time coming. We need more vegetarian fast food restaurants. We also need them to be locally owned and vegetarian operated, just like Earth Burger and Green. This family goes above and beyond, too. Did you know that they use biodegradable plastic cups and straws? Brilliant.

Let’s all make sure we support Earth Burger. While no plans have been announced to expand into other cities, the best way to plant that bug in their ear is to give them your business. You can find them at the Park North Shopping Center, 818 NW Loop 410 in San Antonio open Sunday to Thursday 10a-10p and Friday 10a-8p. CLOSED SATURDAY. Visit www.EatAtEarthBurger.com for more information and for a complete menu!

Thai Vegan Santa Fe

It’s been a few weeks since Chris and I returned from our weekend in Santa Fe, NM though it seems like it has been ages. We went there in order to get our marriage license well in advance of our wedding date. As obsessive planners, neither of us could resist the opportunity to do so. We left during the wee hours on May 15th. Approximately 12 hours later, we were checked into our hotel, poodle in tow, tired and hungry and eager to enjoy the local vegan fare.
Our first destination in Santa Fe was Thai Vegan. The quiet and welcoming atmosphere treated us upon our arrival. After a 12 hour drive the two of us weren’t up for anything loud or crowded and Thai Vegan ended up being relaxing and satisfying. A number of other two person parties sat in the main dining room. The nice men sitting next to us swapped stories about vision quests and spiritual experiences. Very Santa Fe.
With so many options on the menu I found it extremely difficult to choose my entree. Ultimately, I went with the Pineapple Fried Rice with the pepper steak soy “beef.” In dishes like this, I usually fawn over the pineapple. In this rendition, though, the cashews were my absolute favorite part. They were flavorful, crunchy, and abundant. I loved, loved, loved them. Maybe they were roasted beforehand. I’m not really sure, but zomg amazing.
Chris, meanwhile, tried out the Pad Thai. It just made the most sense to her. This is the woman who made a point to eat KFC in Kentucky and watch Indiana Jones in Indiana, so eating Pad Thai at a Thai restaurant was something she felt genuinely compelled to do. While she enjoyed the flavor and the portion size (it was huge!) she wasn’t very fond of the texture. She expects that perhaps on the weekends or during busier hours it would taste more fresh. Ultimately, though, she seemed to enjoy it.

The two of us liked our dishes so much that we ordered dessert, even though we were absolutely full. When our server brought us our Green Tea coconut ice cream, it was topped with two types of beans and some jelly candies. Neither of us had any idea what our dessert was made from. Yes, I was hesitant at first. I do, however, consider myself to be foodventurous. I dove in and… yum! I ate almost the whole thing by myself.
There are a number of things I like about Thai Vegan and would definitely recommend them because of. First, the flavors are great. Second, the portions are hefty. Third, the atmosphere is wonderful. I felt like the prices were a tad on the high side, but then we went to four other restaurants throughout our trip and found high prices there, too. Can’t hold that against them, I guess! Santa Fe is just expensive.
I liked Thai Vegan a lot. I am very much looking forward to going there again in October. They also have two locations in Albuquerque. Information and full menus are available at www.thaivegannm.com. The Santa Fe location is at 1710 Cerillos Rd. Santa Fe, NM 87505. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 9pm and Sunday 5pm to 9pm. Also, they cater. And we may use their services for our wedding.
Speaking of the wedding, this weekend is devoted to determining our budget. We’ve booked our officiant at last, by the way, and really just need to focus on food and decorations now. There are less than four months before our nuptials. I can’t believe it. I’m also nearing my 2nd anniversary at my current job. Which is crazy! They say as you get older time goes by more quickly. I didn’t use to think that was true. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I’d like to think what’s more accurate is that I’m enjoying myself more than I was a few years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun. I like that saying a lot more. 🙂

It’s been a few weeks since Chris and I returned from our weekend in Santa Fe, NM though it seems like it has been ages. We went there in order to get our marriage license well in advance of our wedding date. As obsessive planners, neither of us could resist the opportunity to do so. We left during the wee hours on May 15th. Approximately 12 hours later, we were checked into our hotel, poodle in tow, tired and hungry and eager to enjoy the local vegan fare.
Our first destination in Santa Fe was Thai Vegan. The quiet and welcoming atmosphere treated us upon our arrival. After a 12 hour drive the two of us weren’t up for anything loud or crowded and Thai Vegan ended up being relaxing and satisfying. A number of other two person parties sat in the main dining room. The nice men sitting next to us swapped stories about vision quests and spiritual experiences. Very Santa Fe.
With so many options on the menu I found it extremely difficult to choose my entree. Ultimately, I went with the Pineapple Fried Rice with the pepper steak soy “beef.” In dishes like this, I usually fawn over the pineapple. In this rendition, though, the cashews were my absolute favorite part. They were flavorful, crunchy, and abundant. I loved, loved, loved them. Maybe they were roasted beforehand. I’m not really sure, but zomg amazing.
Chris, meanwhile, tried out the Pad Thai. It just made the most sense to her. This is the woman who made a point to eat KFC in Kentucky and watch Indiana Jones in Indiana, so eating Pad Thai at a Thai restaurant was something she felt genuinely compelled to do. While she enjoyed the flavor and the portion size (it was huge!) she wasn’t very fond of the texture. She expects that perhaps on the weekends or during busier hours it would taste more fresh. Ultimately, though, she seemed to enjoy it.

The two of us liked our dishes so much that we ordered dessert, even though we were absolutely full. When our server brought us our Green Tea coconut ice cream, it was topped with two types of beans and some jelly candies. Neither of us had any idea what our dessert was made from. Yes, I was hesitant at first. I do, however, consider myself to be foodventurous. I dove in and… yum! I ate almost the whole thing by myself.
There are a number of things I like about Thai Vegan and would definitely recommend them because of. First, the flavors are great. Second, the portions are hefty. Third, the atmosphere is wonderful. I felt like the prices were a tad on the high side, but then we went to four other restaurants throughout our trip and found high prices there, too. Can’t hold that against them, I guess! Santa Fe is just expensive.
I liked Thai Vegan a lot. I am very much looking forward to going there again in October. They also have two locations in Albuquerque. Information and full menus are available at www.thaivegannm.com. The Santa Fe location is at 1710 Cerillos Rd. Santa Fe, NM 87505. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 9pm and Sunday 5pm to 9pm. Also, they cater. And we may use their services for our wedding.
Speaking of the wedding, this weekend is devoted to determining our budget. We’ve booked our officiant at last, by the way, and really just need to focus on food and decorations now. There are less than four months before our nuptials. I can’t believe it. I’m also nearing my 2nd anniversary at my current job. Which is crazy! They say as you get older time goes by more quickly. I didn’t use to think that was true. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I’d like to think what’s more accurate is that I’m enjoying myself more than I was a few years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun. I like that saying a lot more. 🙂

A New Addition to the Family

Last year I shared with you the story of a stray cat that wound up on our porch. We nicknamed her Porchy as a result. This poor little dear was emaciated and pregnant. We started feeding her and set about finding her a foster family that could take care of her while she was carrying her kittens. She had 6 adorable fluffy babies, all girls. They named them after princesses and found them all homes. Afterward, they brought Porchy to a feral cat colony, but a few weeks later she miraculously appeared on our Porch once more.

Porchy and her babies

We were told that she wasn’t indoor cat material. She had been dubbed “Shredder” by her foster family. But we continued to look after her and she continued to faithfully sleep on our porch each night. As winter approached, we constructed her a cat house from a large plastic container. As temperatures plummeted, we purchased a heated bed for her, too. She started following me on my walks with Rusty, hiding in the bushes mostly but attending to us nonetheless.

A few days after we returned from Santa Fe, she started favoring one of her front paws over another. Within a matter of days her condition visibly worsened. I thought about bringing her to the vet constantly and ultimately did so the same week. They were scared of her at the vet since she was technically a feral or stray cat, but she behaved perfectly while they handled her. The vet determined that she was in a bad cat fight. She had bitten her lip really bad. It swelled up and made her start drooling a lot. She also appeared to have a bad cat bite on the paw that was swelling up. He gave her a steroid injection and a slow release antibiotic and sent us home.

Dr. Hardy, our new vet, suggested that we keep her inside for at least 24 hours. Chris and I emotionally struggled over whether or not we should add a new cat to our household. We live in an apartment and were at our two pet maximum currently. Our current cat was also very spirited. And we also feared that keeping Porchy inside would make her depressed. After the 24 hours, the two of us opted to try keeping her inside long term. We brought her to Emancipet to be tested for feline diseases that weekend. After she received a clean bill of health, back home we went and she the integration process began.

She seemed to improve a lot within the next week. At the end of week two, though, she had stopped coming out from her cat house voluntarily. She seemed to be getting depressed and lethargic. I was worried that she missed going outside and that we had hit a brick wall with incorporating her into our family.

Then, one evening, I was petting her while she ate. Suddenly, an abscess on her chest we were unaware of burst all over the floor. It was possibly the grossest and scariest thing that had ever happened to me. The cat seemed fine, of course, but having never had this happen to me before I quickly freaked out. After calling several veterinarians for advice and to schedule her a visit, I calmed down. We brought her back to Dr. Hardy the next day, despite having been told by friends that it would cost a small fortune to fix her up.

Porchy was dropped off at Dr. Hardy’s office. They examined her, cleaned her wound, gave her more medicine, sent us home with ointment, and only charged us about $40. I was amazed.

For about a week and a half I have been giving her a warm compress each night followed by ointment. Her wound is drastically improved and she is once again very social. She is still very skiddish, she is wary of Chris, but she comes out of her cat house and even ventures into the bedroom and living room on occasion. I am beyond thrilled. She is a doll. All of the animals are getting along quite well. Porchy is on the mend. Life, in general, is good.

Last year I shared with you the story of a stray cat that wound up on our porch. We nicknamed her Porchy as a result. This poor little dear was emaciated and pregnant. We started feeding her and set about finding her a foster family that could take care of her while she was carrying her kittens. She had 6 adorable fluffy babies, all girls. They named them after princesses and found them all homes. Afterward, they brought Porchy to a feral cat colony, but a few weeks later she miraculously appeared on our Porch once more.

Porchy and her babies

We were told that she wasn’t indoor cat material. She had been dubbed “Shredder” by her foster family. But we continued to look after her and she continued to faithfully sleep on our porch each night. As winter approached, we constructed her a cat house from a large plastic container. As temperatures plummeted, we purchased a heated bed for her, too. She started following me on my walks with Rusty, hiding in the bushes mostly but attending to us nonetheless.

A few days after we returned from Santa Fe, she started favoring one of her front paws over another. Within a matter of days her condition visibly worsened. I thought about bringing her to the vet constantly and ultimately did so the same week. They were scared of her at the vet since she was technically a feral or stray cat, but she behaved perfectly while they handled her. The vet determined that she was in a bad cat fight. She had bitten her lip really bad. It swelled up and made her start drooling a lot. She also appeared to have a bad cat bite on the paw that was swelling up. He gave her a steroid injection and a slow release antibiotic and sent us home.

Dr. Hardy, our new vet, suggested that we keep her inside for at least 24 hours. Chris and I emotionally struggled over whether or not we should add a new cat to our household. We live in an apartment and were at our two pet maximum currently. Our current cat was also very spirited. And we also feared that keeping Porchy inside would make her depressed. After the 24 hours, the two of us opted to try keeping her inside long term. We brought her to Emancipet to be tested for feline diseases that weekend. After she received a clean bill of health, back home we went and she the integration process began.

She seemed to improve a lot within the next week. At the end of week two, though, she had stopped coming out from her cat house voluntarily. She seemed to be getting depressed and lethargic. I was worried that she missed going outside and that we had hit a brick wall with incorporating her into our family.

Then, one evening, I was petting her while she ate. Suddenly, an abscess on her chest we were unaware of burst all over the floor. It was possibly the grossest and scariest thing that had ever happened to me. The cat seemed fine, of course, but having never had this happen to me before I quickly freaked out. After calling several veterinarians for advice and to schedule her a visit, I calmed down. We brought her back to Dr. Hardy the next day, despite having been told by friends that it would cost a small fortune to fix her up.

Porchy was dropped off at Dr. Hardy’s office. They examined her, cleaned her wound, gave her more medicine, sent us home with ointment, and only charged us about $40. I was amazed.

For about a week and a half I have been giving her a warm compress each night followed by ointment. Her wound is drastically improved and she is once again very social. She is still very skiddish, she is wary of Chris, but she comes out of her cat house and even ventures into the bedroom and living room on occasion. I am beyond thrilled. She is a doll. All of the animals are getting along quite well. Porchy is on the mend. Life, in general, is good.

Herbie of the Week: Deborah R

Herbie of the Week: Deborah R! (She lost 40 pounds, eliminated her chronic fatigue, and is off her lupus medication!)

She has reversed her symptoms from lupus and influenced healthier eating in her family.

Read Deborah’s story…

Hi, my name is Deborah, and my journey
to becoming plant-based started in January of 2012. I am a wife and
mom of two girls and I primarily have been a stay at home mom since
my oldest was born in 2007. In December 2011 I was exhausted all the
time. At first I thought it was because of the holidays and was super
busy. I wasn’t feeling myself; I started getting very fatigued at
various times of the day and I started to worry because it seemed to
others as if I was just being lazy. I am not a lazy person. As a stay
at home mom, there is always something to do.

My husband started noticing it more in
January 2012 and he refused to believe that I could be as tired as I
claimed to be. He was rightfully upset that his wife was sleeping
most of the day, while there he was working his rear off at work. He
did not understand and neither did I. So, I sucked it up and tried my
best to just get stuff done because I thought maybe he was right and
I am just crazy thinking I am really that tired. By February, my face
broke out into a really bad rash. My face was itchy, scaly, and red in
the T zone areas. It was like I had dry scalp on parts of my face. I
tried lotions, cortisone, Neosporin and nothing helped. I decided to
go see my Dermatologist because it was getting out of control.

My dermatologist was concerned because
she felt something else was going on with me. She kept asking how I
had been feeling, if I was in any pain. I thought it odd but I told
her that I felt fine but that I had been feeling very tired since
December. She told me that she has some concerns and would like to
get some blood work done just to be sure I was okay. I agreed because
I trust her opinion as she has helped me and my husband for several
years. She did give me a prescription lotion for my face and we
planned on scheduling an appointment to check on how my skin was
doing. A week later, she personally called me up and told me that she
was concerned about my blood work. I went to see her the next day and
we talked. She recommended a Rheumatologist that she knew personally
and trusted with her own family. She felt that I needed to get more
specific blood work done to be certain but she thinks that what I had
going on with my face was auto immune and it was a sign that I needed
to get seen right away so that I can get some relief and answers.
After I left her office I made an appointment with the Rheumatologist
she recommended.

My Rheumatologist visit was good, we
got to know each other and why I was sent to her, discussed my
previous blood work from my dermatologist, and she also asked me how I
was feeling, if I was in any pain and took a good look at my face
rash that I still had but was significantly better. She then decided
what specific blood work needed to be done so that she could help me.
When my blood work came back we discussed it. I was unsure how to
feel at the moment. Until she told me, according to your labs, you
have an autoimmune disorder, Lupus to be exact. My body was basically
attacking itself, which in turn was causing me to feel so exhausted.
My body was out of whack. At that moment, I cried. Not because she
told me I had an autoimmune disease that was scary in itself, but
because I finally had an answer to why I was so terribly exhausted
all the time. I told her that it was a huge relief to know what was
causing my body to feel so weak and tired. I told her how much I was
struggling to suck it up because my husband couldn’t understand
that I could be so tired from being a stay at home mom and napping a
lot recently. I finally could feel like I wasn’t crazy, that I
wasn’t just being lazy or that I wasn’t lying about my extreme
exhaustion.

Then I came to the realization about
having Lupus. That thought
scared me. I was told by my doctor that lupus in males tend to have
worse symptoms but since my issues were mainly exhaustion and rashes
that my lupus is mild. She prescribed Plaquenil for my lupus and I
would need to see an Ophthalmologist every 6 months to check on my
vision while taking it. I asked if there was a possibility that I
would ever be able to get off Plaquenil in the future and she
basically said most patients take it for the rest of their lives but
can be taken off it in 3 years but it’s rare.

During our discussion about lupus, all
I could think about was my family. My husband and my 2 girls who were
only 4 and 5 yrs old and it brought tears to my eyes because I did
not want to become a burden to them. My eyes welled up with tears
again thinking about how my life with lupus was going to affect them.
My rheumatologist saw my face and told me that if I wanted a chance
at a good healthy life, I would need to go plant-based. I had never
heard of plant-based before so I was curious. She told me I needed to
change the way I eat, autoimmune disorders stem from our dietary
consumption. She told me to watch the documentary Forks over Knives on Netflix and that if I wanted to live a better life for
myself and my family I should follow their guidelines. I told her
that I would watch it and go from there. I did not know what I was
getting myself into, but I was willing to give it a try in order to
give my family what they deserve, a healthy mom and wife.

I watched the documentary Forks over
Knives
when I got home, and I was convinced that this was what I
needed to do. I didn’t know exactly how to start. All I knew was
that I had to start somewhere and I knew after watching the
documentary that I needed to avoid these main things: meat, dairy, eggs and oil. I decided that day to become plant-based. I knew I
wasn’t going to be perfect at it at first but I had to at least
give it my best. My husband was very unsure about what I was getting
myself into at first but was willing to watch the documentary with me
when he got home and he told me that he would be super supportive of
it, but he was not going to change what he ate. I was okay with that
because I did not expect him to turn his life around because of my
illness. Remember, I did not want to be a burden on my family.

I started off just eating simple things
that I knew where plant-based such as, chalupas or tostadas and rice,
peanut butter sandwiches and veggies. I felt very alone starting out
on this journey. I started to struggle with not knowing what I was
doing when I went grocery shopping, what items were plant-based and
where to find simple items with no oil. I started to look for more
answers online on the Forks over Knives website.

The Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives
website lead me to happyherbivore.com. I was so excited to learn
there was a cookbook for sale and when I found Lindsay’s cookbook
Everyday Happy Herbivore I was so excited and happy. Do you
know what else happened? My husband started to see what I was eating
and wanted some! Yes, my omnivore husband thought my meals looked and
smelled amazing! So, I shared my meals. He had his usual food but
kept trying what I was eating more and more. I felt like I must being
doing something right. I started to feel less and less tired as the
weeks passed. I started to lose weight with just the diet change. I
started to feel more like myself and my husband took notice. He
decided that he wanted to eat like me most of the time and only eat
meat if and when we are not home. I still do not discourage his way
of eating; I want it to be all his doing if he wanted to change his
diet.

After a year of being plant-based, I
stopped buying meat and dairy products for the family. My husband and
I felt such great results from eating plant-based that we decided
that our kids should try to follow along because with what we know
now, we wanted to give them the best opportunity to live a healthier
life than we did growing up. They were very hesitant at first and
still now 3 years later I still struggle with one picky eater but
they understand why we eat this way after many discussions about why
meat, dairy, and eggs are not good for our bodies. They are not
perfect though, we allow them to choose what they want to eat when we
are out and at school. I did not want them to feel forced to eat
plant-based, especially since my husband also eats whatever he wants
when we are not home. I tell them all the time that life is about
choices so make good ones.

I lost a good 40 lbs. my first year of
becoming plant-based, and I have kept the weight off. People always
tell me that I look amazing and they think I am younger than I
actually am; I am 40! I don’t feel 40, I feel like I’m still 25
which is an awesome feeling! I also started cooking for my dad and
step-mom a year ago, I joke with them and tell them I am like a vegan
meals on wheels because I cook it and deliver it to them. My husband
thanks me all the time for cooking this way. He has seen and felt a
significant difference in both of us.

I became a Meal Mentor subscriber last
year around April 2015. I convinced my husband to get the annual plan
because I started struggling to figure out what to make for dinner. I
kept feeling like I was making the same meals every week and I needed
more variety. Meal Mentor has changed my life! It has allowed me to
pick and choose, create a grocery list, prep like a boss and get
everything cooked in just hours. I have more time now to complete all
my other tasks, and it’s amazing! The only downside to it at my
house is that my dear husband thinks that my cooking day is a vegan
buffet day! He will try and eat and taste everything if I don’t
stop him.

Now for the most exciting news, As of
January 5, 2016, I am officially off my Lupus Medication!! YAY! I
have been in remission for about a year and my new Rheumatologist (I
had to switch because of my insurance) has just been incredibly
amazed by my ability to heal myself with my diet. It still amazes me
that still today, 3 years later, being plant-based is still bringing
me joy and a deeper appreciation for all things vegan. I am proud to
be plant-based, it saved me from Lupus. I am now living my best life.
If there is anyone that needs food inspiration, I am on Twitter
@plantstrongdeb and on Instagram @Deborah.ramos. I enjoy sharing
photos of the plant-based meals I make, most of them being from the
Meal Mentor plans, plus making new Herbie friends is also awesome! I
am very grateful for the support Lindsay gives to us on her website, Facebook page, Annual Members page, and other social media outlets like YouTube
videos and podcasts! I wish I had all these things available when I
first started out but so happy to have them now when you just need
that little extra advice, motivation and friendship!

Thank you so much Deborah for sharing your plant-based journey with us!

Don’t miss our next Herbie of the Week story. To get notified when we post it join our email list.

Herbie of the Week: Deborah R! (She lost 40 pounds, eliminated her chronic fatigue, and is off her lupus medication!)

She has reversed her symptoms from lupus and influenced healthier eating in her family.

Read Deborah’s story…

Hi, my name is Deborah, and my journey
to becoming plant-based started in January of 2012. I am a wife and
mom of two girls and I primarily have been a stay at home mom since
my oldest was born in 2007. In December 2011 I was exhausted all the
time. At first I thought it was because of the holidays and was super
busy. I wasn’t feeling myself; I started getting very fatigued at
various times of the day and I started to worry because it seemed to
others as if I was just being lazy. I am not a lazy person. As a stay
at home mom, there is always something to do.

My husband started noticing it more in
January 2012 and he refused to believe that I could be as tired as I
claimed to be. He was rightfully upset that his wife was sleeping
most of the day, while there he was working his rear off at work. He
did not understand and neither did I. So, I sucked it up and tried my
best to just get stuff done because I thought maybe he was right and
I am just crazy thinking I am really that tired. By February, my face
broke out into a really bad rash. My face was itchy, scaly, and red in
the T zone areas. It was like I had dry scalp on parts of my face. I
tried lotions, cortisone, Neosporin and nothing helped. I decided to
go see my Dermatologist because it was getting out of control.

My dermatologist was concerned because
she felt something else was going on with me. She kept asking how I
had been feeling, if I was in any pain. I thought it odd but I told
her that I felt fine but that I had been feeling very tired since
December. She told me that she has some concerns and would like to
get some blood work done just to be sure I was okay. I agreed because
I trust her opinion as she has helped me and my husband for several
years. She did give me a prescription lotion for my face and we
planned on scheduling an appointment to check on how my skin was
doing. A week later, she personally called me up and told me that she
was concerned about my blood work. I went to see her the next day and
we talked. She recommended a Rheumatologist that she knew personally
and trusted with her own family. She felt that I needed to get more
specific blood work done to be certain but she thinks that what I had
going on with my face was auto immune and it was a sign that I needed
to get seen right away so that I can get some relief and answers.
After I left her office I made an appointment with the Rheumatologist
she recommended.

My Rheumatologist visit was good, we
got to know each other and why I was sent to her, discussed my
previous blood work from my dermatologist, and she also asked me how I
was feeling, if I was in any pain and took a good look at my face
rash that I still had but was significantly better. She then decided
what specific blood work needed to be done so that she could help me.
When my blood work came back we discussed it. I was unsure how to
feel at the moment. Until she told me, according to your labs, you
have an autoimmune disorder, Lupus to be exact. My body was basically
attacking itself, which in turn was causing me to feel so exhausted.
My body was out of whack. At that moment, I cried. Not because she
told me I had an autoimmune disease that was scary in itself, but
because I finally had an answer to why I was so terribly exhausted
all the time. I told her that it was a huge relief to know what was
causing my body to feel so weak and tired. I told her how much I was
struggling to suck it up because my husband couldn’t understand
that I could be so tired from being a stay at home mom and napping a
lot recently. I finally could feel like I wasn’t crazy, that I
wasn’t just being lazy or that I wasn’t lying about my extreme
exhaustion.

Then I came to the realization about
having Lupus. That thought
scared me. I was told by my doctor that lupus in males tend to have
worse symptoms but since my issues were mainly exhaustion and rashes
that my lupus is mild. She prescribed Plaquenil for my lupus and I
would need to see an Ophthalmologist every 6 months to check on my
vision while taking it. I asked if there was a possibility that I
would ever be able to get off Plaquenil in the future and she
basically said most patients take it for the rest of their lives but
can be taken off it in 3 years but it’s rare.

During our discussion about lupus, all
I could think about was my family. My husband and my 2 girls who were
only 4 and 5 yrs old and it brought tears to my eyes because I did
not want to become a burden to them. My eyes welled up with tears
again thinking about how my life with lupus was going to affect them.
My rheumatologist saw my face and told me that if I wanted a chance
at a good healthy life, I would need to go plant-based. I had never
heard of plant-based before so I was curious. She told me I needed to
change the way I eat, autoimmune disorders stem from our dietary
consumption. She told me to watch the documentary Forks over Knives on Netflix and that if I wanted to live a better life for
myself and my family I should follow their guidelines. I told her
that I would watch it and go from there. I did not know what I was
getting myself into, but I was willing to give it a try in order to
give my family what they deserve, a healthy mom and wife.

I watched the documentary Forks over
Knives
when I got home, and I was convinced that this was what I
needed to do. I didn’t know exactly how to start. All I knew was
that I had to start somewhere and I knew after watching the
documentary that I needed to avoid these main things: meat, dairy, eggs and oil. I decided that day to become plant-based. I knew I
wasn’t going to be perfect at it at first but I had to at least
give it my best. My husband was very unsure about what I was getting
myself into at first but was willing to watch the documentary with me
when he got home and he told me that he would be super supportive of
it, but he was not going to change what he ate. I was okay with that
because I did not expect him to turn his life around because of my
illness. Remember, I did not want to be a burden on my family.

I started off just eating simple things
that I knew where plant-based such as, chalupas or tostadas and rice,
peanut butter sandwiches and veggies. I felt very alone starting out
on this journey. I started to struggle with not knowing what I was
doing when I went grocery shopping, what items were plant-based and
where to find simple items with no oil. I started to look for more
answers online on the Forks over Knives website.

The Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives
website lead me to happyherbivore.com. I was so excited to learn
there was a cookbook for sale and when I found Lindsay’s cookbook
Everyday Happy Herbivore I was so excited and happy. Do you
know what else happened? My husband started to see what I was eating
and wanted some! Yes, my omnivore husband thought my meals looked and
smelled amazing! So, I shared my meals. He had his usual food but
kept trying what I was eating more and more. I felt like I must being
doing something right. I started to feel less and less tired as the
weeks passed. I started to lose weight with just the diet change. I
started to feel more like myself and my husband took notice. He
decided that he wanted to eat like me most of the time and only eat
meat if and when we are not home. I still do not discourage his way
of eating; I want it to be all his doing if he wanted to change his
diet.

After a year of being plant-based, I
stopped buying meat and dairy products for the family. My husband and
I felt such great results from eating plant-based that we decided
that our kids should try to follow along because with what we know
now, we wanted to give them the best opportunity to live a healthier
life than we did growing up. They were very hesitant at first and
still now 3 years later I still struggle with one picky eater but
they understand why we eat this way after many discussions about why
meat, dairy, and eggs are not good for our bodies. They are not
perfect though, we allow them to choose what they want to eat when we
are out and at school. I did not want them to feel forced to eat
plant-based, especially since my husband also eats whatever he wants
when we are not home. I tell them all the time that life is about
choices so make good ones.

I lost a good 40 lbs. my first year of
becoming plant-based, and I have kept the weight off. People always
tell me that I look amazing and they think I am younger than I
actually am; I am 40! I don’t feel 40, I feel like I’m still 25
which is an awesome feeling! I also started cooking for my dad and
step-mom a year ago, I joke with them and tell them I am like a vegan
meals on wheels because I cook it and deliver it to them. My husband
thanks me all the time for cooking this way. He has seen and felt a
significant difference in both of us.

I became a Meal Mentor subscriber last
year around April 2015. I convinced my husband to get the annual plan
because I started struggling to figure out what to make for dinner. I
kept feeling like I was making the same meals every week and I needed
more variety. Meal Mentor has changed my life! It has allowed me to
pick and choose, create a grocery list, prep like a boss and get
everything cooked in just hours. I have more time now to complete all
my other tasks, and it’s amazing! The only downside to it at my
house is that my dear husband thinks that my cooking day is a vegan
buffet day! He will try and eat and taste everything if I don’t
stop him.

Now for the most exciting news, As of
January 5, 2016, I am officially off my Lupus Medication!! YAY! I
have been in remission for about a year and my new Rheumatologist (I
had to switch because of my insurance) has just been incredibly
amazed by my ability to heal myself with my diet. It still amazes me
that still today, 3 years later, being plant-based is still bringing
me joy and a deeper appreciation for all things vegan. I am proud to
be plant-based, it saved me from Lupus. I am now living my best life.
If there is anyone that needs food inspiration, I am on Twitter
@plantstrongdeb and on Instagram @Deborah.ramos. I enjoy sharing
photos of the plant-based meals I make, most of them being from the
Meal Mentor plans, plus making new Herbie friends is also awesome! I
am very grateful for the support Lindsay gives to us on her website, Facebook page, Annual Members page, and other social media outlets like YouTube
videos and podcasts! I wish I had all these things available when I
first started out but so happy to have them now when you just need
that little extra advice, motivation and friendship!

Thank you so much Deborah for sharing your plant-based journey with us!

Don’t miss our next Herbie of the Week story. To get notified when we post it join our email list.

Tico Taco Pie, Baby Churros, Pasta-roni, Dragon Wraps & more!

Are you ready to spice up dinnertime?? This week’s meal plan is a flavor EXPLOSION with meals that are ready in 30 minutes OR less!

Replace your boring routine with new & exciting meals like Pasta-roni (NEW!), Dragon Wraps (NEW!), Pizza Chili, Mediterranean Rice (NEW!), Thai Taquitos & more!

PLUS we’ve got cantina classics for Cinco de Mayo including BABY CHURROS, Tico Taco Pie (NEW!), Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding (NEW!), Tijuana Tortas (NEW!) and Mexican Caesar Salad (NEW!).

Tico Taco Pie

Individual Highlights

  • Mexican Caesar Salad (NEW!)
  • Smashed White Bean & Avo Crostinis (NEW!)
  • Tijuana Tortas (NEW!)
  • “Bacon” Kale Wrap (NEW!)
  • Mediterranean Rice (NEW!)
  • Sweet Pea Curry Noodles (NEW!)
  • Pasta-roni (NEW!)
  • Thai Taquitos
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding (NEW!)

Signup for the meal plans today and get the party started!

Mexican Caesar Salad

Family Highlights

  • Tijuana Tortas (NEW!)
  • Thai Taquitos
  • Tico Taco Pie (NEW!)
  • Mediterranean Rice (NEW!)
  • Spicy Chocolate Shakes
  • Dragon Wraps (NEW!)
  • Pizza Chili
  • Sweet Pea Curry Noodles (NEW!)
  • Pasta-roni (NEW!)

Spice up dinnertime with endless variety with this week’s meal plan!

Thai Taquitos

Testimonials

I am loving this meal plan experience. It’s really widened our variety of meals AND I’m getting my kids eating plant-based with me and my husband… that’s HUGE.“- Denise G

The meal plan is a godsend. I don’t have to get stressed when I come home from work and my husband asks what’s for dinner because it’s already made and labeled in the fridge. Meals had become a burden and now they are new, exciting, delicious, and ready to go.”- Emily M

Get these recipes delivered to your inbox RIGHT NOW!

Are you ready to spice up dinnertime?? This week’s meal plan is a flavor EXPLOSION with meals that are ready in 30 minutes OR less!

Replace your boring routine with new & exciting meals like Pasta-roni (NEW!), Dragon Wraps (NEW!), Pizza Chili, Mediterranean Rice (NEW!), Thai Taquitos & more!

PLUS we’ve got cantina classics for Cinco de Mayo including BABY CHURROS, Tico Taco Pie (NEW!), Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding (NEW!), Tijuana Tortas (NEW!) and Mexican Caesar Salad (NEW!).

Tico Taco Pie

Individual Highlights

  • Mexican Caesar Salad (NEW!)
  • Smashed White Bean & Avo Crostinis (NEW!)
  • Tijuana Tortas (NEW!)
  • “Bacon” Kale Wrap (NEW!)
  • Mediterranean Rice (NEW!)
  • Sweet Pea Curry Noodles (NEW!)
  • Pasta-roni (NEW!)
  • Thai Taquitos
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding (NEW!)

Signup for the meal plans today and get the party started!

Mexican Caesar Salad

Family Highlights

  • Tijuana Tortas (NEW!)
  • Thai Taquitos
  • Tico Taco Pie (NEW!)
  • Mediterranean Rice (NEW!)
  • Spicy Chocolate Shakes
  • Dragon Wraps (NEW!)
  • Pizza Chili
  • Sweet Pea Curry Noodles (NEW!)
  • Pasta-roni (NEW!)

Spice up dinnertime with endless variety with this week’s meal plan!

Thai Taquitos

Testimonials

I am loving this meal plan experience. It’s really widened our variety of meals AND I’m getting my kids eating plant-based with me and my husband… that’s HUGE.“- Denise G

The meal plan is a godsend. I don’t have to get stressed when I come home from work and my husband asks what’s for dinner because it’s already made and labeled in the fridge. Meals had become a burden and now they are new, exciting, delicious, and ready to go.”- Emily M

Get these recipes delivered to your inbox RIGHT NOW!

Plant-Based in India (Guest Post by Siri!)

I am always being asked about how to stay plant-based while traveling.

It can definitely be done, and plant-based options are becoming easier to find. I have an entire section on travel in the Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living.

I’ve also written a post about traveling across Asia.

When Meal Mentor member Siri told me about her recent trip to India I asked if she would share her experience as a blog post. (Siri is also my co-pilot in Today’s episode of the Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast. Listen Here.)

I’ll let Siri take it away!

First off, I want to share that I was born and brought up in the southern part of India. My parents and extended family members live there. I have been vegetarian since birth. I turned to a WFPB lifestyle just 2 years ago with a
Meal Mentor subscription in 2014.

I have been (and still am a little bit) overweight and started my fat loss journey in 2010. Making changes to diet has been the most important in my lifestyle and made all the difference.

Going out, being social, and planning trips are some things we cannot avoid. I had to find a way to make it work. Earlier, I was clueless and I have to admit – did not want it badly enough to “make it work.” I found excuses and used food as a reward. I used to have a mentality of “I am on vacay, who cares? – let me treat myself to ice cream and more food!”

I traveled back home to India three times since I made changes to my diet. Every time, I gave in to treats. But, I quickly realized my weakness is food. I have to learn to control sooner or later. Otherwise, it just proves to me that I am not serious, and my goal without a game plan & action will just remain a goal.

I was determined that my next trip would be different. I decided that this time, I was going to just be willing to recognize and accept the result of my choices.

One month before I planned my trip, I got myself to practice and simulate conditions I may face during my vacation and try to handle it. Lindsay’s
meal plans already help learn to create balanced meals and to get creative. So mentally, I knew to include veggies, chickpeas, and use whatever spices I could get ahold of. Some things that I was already aware of were:

1. The places where I was going to travel (In this case – cities in India)

2. Kind of people who would surround me.

3. Kind of places I would visit to eat or drink.

4. Where I could purchase ingredients for WFPB meals.

5. My mother would make my meals without oil / dairy and pack my meals for outdoors.

Knowing these, helped me create a game plan. I planned in advance ‘where’ I would eat ‘what’.

One thing I would highlight is, India is probably the most vegetarian friendly country and if planned well, it will be a cake walk. Sure, most Indians consume dairy, some do not eat root vegetables (Jain food). But, most foods can be prepared without oil or butter or dairy. It is natural to find good and filling vegan food – very easily, virtually everywhere in India.

The only difficulty will be to request for no oil or dairy!

I want to jump right in and share what I did and give some tips. It is important to know that I only visited South India. North India will be more or less similar, overall.

Some must-have experiences in food, that are not found outside of India:

1. Eat a meal in a
banana leaf.

2. Indians use
curry leaf as a garnish. Not a single recipe goes by without addition of this medicinal plant. This plant is native to India.

3. Try
Asafoetida spice. Again, we use this medicinal herb in most dishes. It is bitter, but bitterness disappears during cooking. It has a faint scent too!

4. Definitely try street food with vendors who sell
Chickpeas & other beans as snacks. (More on that below.)

5. Avocado is called ”
Butterfruit“. They are huge in size. They make a smoothie out of these. If your calories permit, do-not-miss.

6.
Gulkhand: This is a jelly made with pink rose petals. Very unique jam from India. You can order it online in Amazon.

7. Try Indian vegetables and be pleasantly surprised by how differently they taste. For example – tomatoes are sour, not sweet, colors and sizes vary. Try gourds that grow in India like Ridge gourd, snake gourd, and bitter gourd.

8. Neem tree leaves. Not found outside of India. Bitter in taste – but very, very good.

9. Tamarind. Native to south Asian countries. Indians use this to super sour up their meals.

10. Last, but not the least –
Betel leaves. This is usually had as a mouth freshener. Side note: Paan or stuffed Betel leaves with sweet sauces & spicy fillings is a roll up, to be eaten after dinner. But do be careful when you order one and carefully see what has been stuffed inside. Warning: extra strong spices can cause stomach upset and you may faint.

Breakfasts

Easily, the most vegan friendly and fresh meal you will get in abundance within minutes. Typical south Indian breakfasts is made up of rice and lentils with vegetables.

Some of my favorite meals that I had are:

Idli (steamed rice cake) with Sambar (lentil soup with veggies) and Coconut chutney. Ask for no butter (Ghee).

Masala Dosa (A rice based crepe stuffed with mild spicy mashed potato. Ask for no butter)

and Ven Pongal (rice and lentils steamed with peppercorns)

For lunches and dinner – so many choices!

Indian Roti (tortilla made with whole wheat flour) is quite popular. usually eaten with vegetable curry and dal (lentils), rice with vegetable curry, chutneys, dry powders made of roasted seeds & chillies and soups!

Some meals are stand alone – made with vegetables and rice together with spices as a 1-pot meal. This is called Pulao or Biryani or Bath. (Make sure to ask to be made without oil and ghee that are added before serving)

These are the foods I actually ate and took pictures of. Cups of cut fruits, roasted and unroasted varieties of beans and chickpeas (usually sold mixed with potato, onions, spices, and lemon juice).

Special shout out to sandwiches (ask with no butter; usually have no cheese, but ask for no cheese, just in case). These are very easy to access, especially near fruit vendors and juice shops. Also available in restaurants everywhere. They toast bread, and layer with boiled potato, beets, cucumber and optionally carrots, bell peppers. They apply mint paste on one side of the bread, tamarind paste on the other side. Sprinkled with
Chaat Masala. It is lip-smackingly good. You can eat on the spot of take it for to-go.

Cheap food and snacks!

One thing that might surprise you in India is how easy and cheap it is to eat fruits directly cut fresh for like 20 cents! On certain days, I literally lived on the tasty bowls and bowls of fruits and chickpea snacks from street vendors. I do not think I ate that many fruits ever! Not just because it is cheap, there was nothing else the vendor could add except a few spices and garnishes. I was totally hooked!

Apart from authentic Indian foods, you will find McDonalds, Subways, Papa Johns pizza, Pizza hut, Dominos, Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe and other American fast food restaurants.
I do not want to recommend them. But, I want to highlight that they all have wide vegetarian options (and some Indianized versions for burgers, pizzas, etc.) for those who do not eat meat. Some of them also have a vegetarian station on a different side too – they physically separate the utensils and serving area.

The following have been in India since last 20 years, but worth mentioning :

1. Soy milk is available in all supermarkets / grocery stores. Both plain and a chocolate version.

2. Nut butters, cut veggies, and spices are easy to access for cheap.

3. No vegan ice creams or desserts. Very hard to find them. It is easier to eat fruits instead. Try new fruits like coconut meat, fruits of
sugar palm (you find this only in South Asia countries) or cookies (called as biscuits in India)!

Definitely buy water bottles which are sealed.

Almost all Indian meals are centered around vegetables. There will be a lot of food to sample and eat that is fresh and vegan. It is easy to commute (Thanks to Uber, Ola apps) and use apps like Zomato to find good places to eat. But, most vegan, oil free food will be right around a corner, waiting for you!

When you visit India, check out out so many foods that are more than curries and samosas. Strangely, most US restaurants get foreign Authentic food somewhat wrong. Indian food is not spicy with red gravies. Chinese food is likely not as oily and sweet. There is no such a thing as a Burrito in Mexico. There is no Pad Thai in Thailand.

(Behind me is the famous Mysore Palace of a Maharaja. This is the second most visited tourist attraction after the Taj Mahal in India.)

I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate my mother and mother-in-law, who played important roles in this trip. Every time I visit India, my mom (she was a teacher and now a meditation teacher) always arranges for a yoga teacher to teach me new poses and makes all meals according to my choices. My mother-in-law always cooks homemade food for me when I visit her and arranges field trips to agricultural lands (she was a teacher too and now an agriculturist teaching new farming practices). Overall, my family helped a lot to help me avoid outside food as much as possible.

I highly recommend you to visit India and an advance Welcome to you all!

Thank you so much Siri for sharing your plant-based traveling experience with us!

Don’t miss our next blog post about our Herbie of the Week. To get notified when we post it join our email list.

I am always being asked about how to stay plant-based while traveling.

It can definitely be done, and plant-based options are becoming easier to find. I have an entire section on travel in the Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living.

I’ve also written a post about traveling across Asia.

When Meal Mentor member Siri told me about her recent trip to India I asked if she would share her experience as a blog post. (Siri is also my co-pilot in Today’s episode of the Meal Mentor Co-Pilot Podcast. Listen Here.)

I’ll let Siri take it away!

First off, I want to share that I was born and brought up in the southern part of India. My parents and extended family members live there. I have been vegetarian since birth. I turned to a WFPB lifestyle just 2 years ago with a
Meal Mentor subscription in 2014.

I have been (and still am a little bit) overweight and started my fat loss journey in 2010. Making changes to diet has been the most important in my lifestyle and made all the difference.

Going out, being social, and planning trips are some things we cannot avoid. I had to find a way to make it work. Earlier, I was clueless and I have to admit – did not want it badly enough to “make it work.” I found excuses and used food as a reward. I used to have a mentality of “I am on vacay, who cares? – let me treat myself to ice cream and more food!”

I traveled back home to India three times since I made changes to my diet. Every time, I gave in to treats. But, I quickly realized my weakness is food. I have to learn to control sooner or later. Otherwise, it just proves to me that I am not serious, and my goal without a game plan & action will just remain a goal.

I was determined that my next trip would be different. I decided that this time, I was going to just be willing to recognize and accept the result of my choices.

One month before I planned my trip, I got myself to practice and simulate conditions I may face during my vacation and try to handle it. Lindsay’s
meal plans already help learn to create balanced meals and to get creative. So mentally, I knew to include veggies, chickpeas, and use whatever spices I could get ahold of. Some things that I was already aware of were:

1. The places where I was going to travel (In this case – cities in India)

2. Kind of people who would surround me.

3. Kind of places I would visit to eat or drink.

4. Where I could purchase ingredients for WFPB meals.

5. My mother would make my meals without oil / dairy and pack my meals for outdoors.

Knowing these, helped me create a game plan. I planned in advance ‘where’ I would eat ‘what’.

One thing I would highlight is, India is probably the most vegetarian friendly country and if planned well, it will be a cake walk. Sure, most Indians consume dairy, some do not eat root vegetables (Jain food). But, most foods can be prepared without oil or butter or dairy. It is natural to find good and filling vegan food – very easily, virtually everywhere in India.

The only difficulty will be to request for no oil or dairy!

I want to jump right in and share what I did and give some tips. It is important to know that I only visited South India. North India will be more or less similar, overall.

Some must-have experiences in food, that are not found outside of India:

1. Eat a meal in a
banana leaf.

2. Indians use
curry leaf as a garnish. Not a single recipe goes by without addition of this medicinal plant. This plant is native to India.

3. Try
Asafoetida spice. Again, we use this medicinal herb in most dishes. It is bitter, but bitterness disappears during cooking. It has a faint scent too!

4. Definitely try street food with vendors who sell
Chickpeas & other beans as snacks. (More on that below.)

5. Avocado is called ”
Butterfruit“. They are huge in size. They make a smoothie out of these. If your calories permit, do-not-miss.

6.
Gulkhand: This is a jelly made with pink rose petals. Very unique jam from India. You can order it online in Amazon.

7. Try Indian vegetables and be pleasantly surprised by how differently they taste. For example – tomatoes are sour, not sweet, colors and sizes vary. Try gourds that grow in India like Ridge gourd, snake gourd, and bitter gourd.

8. Neem tree leaves. Not found outside of India. Bitter in taste – but very, very good.

9. Tamarind. Native to south Asian countries. Indians use this to super sour up their meals.

10. Last, but not the least –
Betel leaves. This is usually had as a mouth freshener. Side note: Paan or stuffed Betel leaves with sweet sauces & spicy fillings is a roll up, to be eaten after dinner. But do be careful when you order one and carefully see what has been stuffed inside. Warning: extra strong spices can cause stomach upset and you may faint.

Breakfasts

Easily, the most vegan friendly and fresh meal you will get in abundance within minutes. Typical south Indian breakfasts is made up of rice and lentils with vegetables.

Some of my favorite meals that I had are:

Idli (steamed rice cake) with Sambar (lentil soup with veggies) and Coconut chutney. Ask for no butter (Ghee).

Masala Dosa (A rice based crepe stuffed with mild spicy mashed potato. Ask for no butter)

and Ven Pongal (rice and lentils steamed with peppercorns)

For lunches and dinner – so many choices!

Indian Roti (tortilla made with whole wheat flour) is quite popular. usually eaten with vegetable curry and dal (lentils), rice with vegetable curry, chutneys, dry powders made of roasted seeds & chillies and soups!

Some meals are stand alone – made with vegetables and rice together with spices as a 1-pot meal. This is called Pulao or Biryani or Bath. (Make sure to ask to be made without oil and ghee that are added before serving)

These are the foods I actually ate and took pictures of. Cups of cut fruits, roasted and unroasted varieties of beans and chickpeas (usually sold mixed with potato, onions, spices, and lemon juice).

Special shout out to sandwiches (ask with no butter; usually have no cheese, but ask for no cheese, just in case). These are very easy to access, especially near fruit vendors and juice shops. Also available in restaurants everywhere. They toast bread, and layer with boiled potato, beets, cucumber and optionally carrots, bell peppers. They apply mint paste on one side of the bread, tamarind paste on the other side. Sprinkled with
Chaat Masala. It is lip-smackingly good. You can eat on the spot of take it for to-go.

Cheap food and snacks!

One thing that might surprise you in India is how easy and cheap it is to eat fruits directly cut fresh for like 20 cents! On certain days, I literally lived on the tasty bowls and bowls of fruits and chickpea snacks from street vendors. I do not think I ate that many fruits ever! Not just because it is cheap, there was nothing else the vendor could add except a few spices and garnishes. I was totally hooked!

Apart from authentic Indian foods, you will find McDonalds, Subways, Papa Johns pizza, Pizza hut, Dominos, Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe and other American fast food restaurants.
I do not want to recommend them. But, I want to highlight that they all have wide vegetarian options (and some Indianized versions for burgers, pizzas, etc.) for those who do not eat meat. Some of them also have a vegetarian station on a different side too – they physically separate the utensils and serving area.

The following have been in India since last 20 years, but worth mentioning :

1. Soy milk is available in all supermarkets / grocery stores. Both plain and a chocolate version.

2. Nut butters, cut veggies, and spices are easy to access for cheap.

3. No vegan ice creams or desserts. Very hard to find them. It is easier to eat fruits instead. Try new fruits like coconut meat, fruits of
sugar palm (you find this only in South Asia countries) or cookies (called as biscuits in India)!

Definitely buy water bottles which are sealed.

Almost all Indian meals are centered around vegetables. There will be a lot of food to sample and eat that is fresh and vegan. It is easy to commute (Thanks to Uber, Ola apps) and use apps like Zomato to find good places to eat. But, most vegan, oil free food will be right around a corner, waiting for you!

When you visit India, check out out so many foods that are more than curries and samosas. Strangely, most US restaurants get foreign Authentic food somewhat wrong. Indian food is not spicy with red gravies. Chinese food is likely not as oily and sweet. There is no such a thing as a Burrito in Mexico. There is no Pad Thai in Thailand.

(Behind me is the famous Mysore Palace of a Maharaja. This is the second most visited tourist attraction after the Taj Mahal in India.)

I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate my mother and mother-in-law, who played important roles in this trip. Every time I visit India, my mom (she was a teacher and now a meditation teacher) always arranges for a yoga teacher to teach me new poses and makes all meals according to my choices. My mother-in-law always cooks homemade food for me when I visit her and arranges field trips to agricultural lands (she was a teacher too and now an agriculturist teaching new farming practices). Overall, my family helped a lot to help me avoid outside food as much as possible.

I highly recommend you to visit India and an advance Welcome to you all!

Thank you so much Siri for sharing your plant-based traveling experience with us!

Don’t miss our next blog post about our Herbie of the Week. To get notified when we post it join our email list.

Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe

So this is super crazy, you guys, but it’s just over three months until my wedding! I cannot get over how close we’re getting, not to mention how much stuff the two of us still need to do before the big day. I am beside myself with giddiness, glee, and excitement. This weekend will be all about the food. Yes, I’m a crazy whackjob and am trying to devise a way to cater the thing myself. It’s not that unrealistic, okay? For starters, we’re expecting less than 30 people. It’s also going to take place midday. I’m also going to have lots of help from my family setting up, if push comes to shove. I’m all about getting my hands dirty in order to get things done. That’s actually how I have fun. But anyway! Fun times this weekend.
It’s been almost two months since Chris and I headed to Santa Fe to scope out our venue, catering options, and hotel. Of course, we were also excited to go on a mini-vacation. Vegans are no different about travel than anyone else, you know? I absolutely needed to visit the vegetarian restaurants there. The two of us had dinner at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe that Friday night. The ayurvedic vegetarian eatery boasts an extensive menu with daily specials and an ever-changing bakery case. A lot of the items are not only vegetarian but are also vegan, can be made vegan, or are also gluten-free.
For dinner, I ordered the lentil-based Veggie Burger. 
I expected something spicy but the lentil patty ended up being 100% palatable and not frightening to someone with a low heat tolerance like myself. I particularly enjoyed the bun! Light and fluffy. I may have tasted a bit of potato starch or flour in there. It had a sweetness to it I found to be quite pleasurable.

Chris, meanwhile, ordered the South Indian Sampler.

The combo plate featured a savory pancake stuffed with vegetables, a soup with dumplings, and a savory doughnut.

Of course, she loved everything.

I adored my masala fries. They were the spiciest portion of my meal and even though I had difficulty fitting all of this food in my belly I made sure that I finished them. And yeah, I ordered dessert.
The last time I had pecan pie it had been made by my grandfather. I wasn’t really fond of it, but I wanted to give it another chance. After all, vegan and gluten-free pecan pie had to be different, right? Well, it was most definitely different than my grandfather’s but I can’t say my mind has been changed about this type of dessert. I enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn’t order it again. It’s a texture thing. The flavor was great; delicate cinnamon and spice filling covered the chewy pecans while the doughy gluten-free crusty supported everything without getting mushy. I ended up eating mostly just the pecans and the crust. Gooey filling just isn’t up my alley, I guess.
Chris indulged in a giant biscotti covered in chocolate. Now THAT was good. Also gluten-free. Soft and flavorful, definitely delicious.
I enjoyed the atmosphere the most. I mean, look at the light coming in through the window! The decor is exotic and inviting. Very soft music can be heard overhead. Outdoor seating is available, too. The deli style ordering is a bit of a challenge, especially if you want to add something on to your order. My advice is to make sure you order everything you may want when you get there so you won’t have to wait in line again for dessert, or for another drink.
We had originally wanted Annapurna’s to cater our wedding, but if all goes to plan I’m going to save a lot of money while being able to offer all of my guests food they’re more familiar with. We’ll see this weekend. At any rate, interested persons wishing to dine at Annapurna’s can do so at any of their three locations; two in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe. For hours and directions, visit www.chaishoppe.com.
If you’d like to read more about our weekend in Santa Fe scoping things our for our October wedding, take a look at this post here. You’ll get to see photos from our venue! If you’re interested in more vegan options in Santa Fe, you can also take a look at my Thai Vegan write-up

So this is super crazy, you guys, but it’s just over three months until my wedding! I cannot get over how close we’re getting, not to mention how much stuff the two of us still need to do before the big day. I am beside myself with giddiness, glee, and excitement. This weekend will be all about the food. Yes, I’m a crazy whackjob and am trying to devise a way to cater the thing myself. It’s not that unrealistic, okay? For starters, we’re expecting less than 30 people. It’s also going to take place midday. I’m also going to have lots of help from my family setting up, if push comes to shove. I’m all about getting my hands dirty in order to get things done. That’s actually how I have fun. But anyway! Fun times this weekend.
It’s been almost two months since Chris and I headed to Santa Fe to scope out our venue, catering options, and hotel. Of course, we were also excited to go on a mini-vacation. Vegans are no different about travel than anyone else, you know? I absolutely needed to visit the vegetarian restaurants there. The two of us had dinner at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe that Friday night. The ayurvedic vegetarian eatery boasts an extensive menu with daily specials and an ever-changing bakery case. A lot of the items are not only vegetarian but are also vegan, can be made vegan, or are also gluten-free.
For dinner, I ordered the lentil-based Veggie Burger. 
I expected something spicy but the lentil patty ended up being 100% palatable and not frightening to someone with a low heat tolerance like myself. I particularly enjoyed the bun! Light and fluffy. I may have tasted a bit of potato starch or flour in there. It had a sweetness to it I found to be quite pleasurable.

Chris, meanwhile, ordered the South Indian Sampler.

The combo plate featured a savory pancake stuffed with vegetables, a soup with dumplings, and a savory doughnut.

Of course, she loved everything.

I adored my masala fries. They were the spiciest portion of my meal and even though I had difficulty fitting all of this food in my belly I made sure that I finished them. And yeah, I ordered dessert.
The last time I had pecan pie it had been made by my grandfather. I wasn’t really fond of it, but I wanted to give it another chance. After all, vegan and gluten-free pecan pie had to be different, right? Well, it was most definitely different than my grandfather’s but I can’t say my mind has been changed about this type of dessert. I enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn’t order it again. It’s a texture thing. The flavor was great; delicate cinnamon and spice filling covered the chewy pecans while the doughy gluten-free crusty supported everything without getting mushy. I ended up eating mostly just the pecans and the crust. Gooey filling just isn’t up my alley, I guess.
Chris indulged in a giant biscotti covered in chocolate. Now THAT was good. Also gluten-free. Soft and flavorful, definitely delicious.
I enjoyed the atmosphere the most. I mean, look at the light coming in through the window! The decor is exotic and inviting. Very soft music can be heard overhead. Outdoor seating is available, too. The deli style ordering is a bit of a challenge, especially if you want to add something on to your order. My advice is to make sure you order everything you may want when you get there so you won’t have to wait in line again for dessert, or for another drink.
We had originally wanted Annapurna’s to cater our wedding, but if all goes to plan I’m going to save a lot of money while being able to offer all of my guests food they’re more familiar with. We’ll see this weekend. At any rate, interested persons wishing to dine at Annapurna’s can do so at any of their three locations; two in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe. For hours and directions, visit www.chaishoppe.com.
If you’d like to read more about our weekend in Santa Fe scoping things our for our October wedding, take a look at this post here. You’ll get to see photos from our venue! If you’re interested in more vegan options in Santa Fe, you can also take a look at my Thai Vegan write-up

Oh, My! Tomato Pie!

When I first moved to Austin, Kerbey Lane Cafe was my favorite place to eat. I tried nearly every vegetarian thing on the menu. Then I went vegan, limiting my options a bit. Vegan pancakes and the breakfast platter became my usual picks. I have always been intrigued by their seasonal menus, which unfortunately don’t usually have vegan options. The highlight of the summer menu is their Tomato Pie. I have never tried it but have always been intrigued.

So I decided to make tomato pie at home.

For starters, I used the all-knowing master of knowledge, Google, to see if any copycat recipes had been shared for Kerbey Lane Tomato Pie. Surprise! The KLC blog posted a recipe themselves. How about that?

I have made two versions of this pie since discovering the recipe online. The photos are from the first attempt, which I felt worked the best.

I’m not really good with pie crust… I made a traditional pie crust from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook with regular flour and vegetable shortening. It was quite flaky and pleasant but it didn’t roll very well at all and barely came to the edge of my pie plate. But it looks pretty darned good, eh?

Of course I was pleased to discover how incredibly tasty tomato pie is. In fact, I loved it. And it didn’t really take that long to make, either. I typically shy away from dishes that require a lot of prep, but this baby was absolutely worth it. We were having seconds by 7:30.

The only challenge I really had was interpreting the instructions provided by the KLC blog. I’m not sure they’re accurate… Maybe it’s more like user error. Who’s to say? The original recipe called for four tomatoes. It didn’t specify which kind. It didn’t indicate what size pie crust or pan to use, either. So, perhaps my pie plate was a bit too small for the original recipe, though I don’t know how you could have fit that many tomatoes in a deep dish sized pie plate, either! Anyway, I used their recipe to inspire mine and I hope my version inspires you!

INGREDIENTS
2 ripe hothouse or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into thick slices
Salt, divided
10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 20 minutes and liquid drained off
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-2 tablespoons plain Vegenaise
Pre-made vegan 9-inch pie crust or your favorite recipe (see note)
Vegan Parmesan, optional
Kalamata olives and fresh basil, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
Note, the second time I made this dish I tried my hand at a whole grain crust. I used 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/8 cup refined coconut oil, and 1/4 cup water. I mixed it in a food processor until crumbly, then added an additional 1/8 cup water until the dough became soft and stretchy. I rolled it out on a well-floured surface and then transferred to the pie plate. I poked the bottom with a fork a few times and then baked it at 400 degrees for 11 minutes, until it started to look golden. It was crisp on top and had an excellent flavor! Anyway, moving on.

Place your sliced tomatoes on a wire rack over the sink. Sprinkle them with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then flip and repeat. You’re trying to drain out as much liquid from the tomatoes as possible! Don’t go too crazy with the salt, but sprinkle them evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the fresh basil and onions. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly squish the tofu with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Vegenaise, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well with a fork or a wooden spoon.

When the tomatoes have sat long enough, press them each between two paper towels to remove additional liquid. Press firmly but don’t mutilate them! Then dice the tomatoes into small pieces.

If your pie crust isn’t pre-baked, bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. It should be light brown.

To assemble the pie, layer half of the onion and basil mixture on the bottom. Then add the diced tomatoes. Top with the remaining onion and basil mixture. Pour the tofu mixture (effectively, the tofu cheese) over it. Push down with your fingers or a fork to ensure the tofu is pressed well into every nook and cranny. If you’re using a smaller pie dish, like I did, you may have a little extra. If able, use a deep dish pan. If not, that’s okay. If you want to use the extra tofu in something else, go ahead. Be creative!

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with a nice layer of vegan Parmesan cheese. I used a homemade recipe from the Non-Dairy Formulary. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until the Parmesan is nice and browned! If not using the Parmesan, bake for 45 minutes altogether.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with chopped olives and fresh basil. We ate ours with fresh green beans lightly sauteed in grapeseed oil and minced garlic!

Makes 4-6 servings. Depending on how much you love it. 😉

Dont’ forget to Pin It! Just click here to add it to your boards:
http://pinterest.com/pin/214624738467462343/

By the way, did you know that Tuesday is also known as Tofu Tuesday?? I have been sharing tofu recipes with readers via social networks where tofu is the main ingredient. If you’d like to join in on Twitter, click here to tweet about this recipe. Also be sure to check out some of my other tofu-centric dishes, like my Tofu Shawarma and Veganized Paula Deen Collard Greens (with tofu bacon bits).

When I first moved to Austin, Kerbey Lane Cafe was my favorite place to eat. I tried nearly every vegetarian thing on the menu. Then I went vegan, limiting my options a bit. Vegan pancakes and the breakfast platter became my usual picks. I have always been intrigued by their seasonal menus, which unfortunately don’t usually have vegan options. The highlight of the summer menu is their Tomato Pie. I have never tried it but have always been intrigued.

So I decided to make tomato pie at home.

For starters, I used the all-knowing master of knowledge, Google, to see if any copycat recipes had been shared for Kerbey Lane Tomato Pie. Surprise! The KLC blog posted a recipe themselves. How about that?

I have made two versions of this pie since discovering the recipe online. The photos are from the first attempt, which I felt worked the best.

I’m not really good with pie crust… I made a traditional pie crust from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook with regular flour and vegetable shortening. It was quite flaky and pleasant but it didn’t roll very well at all and barely came to the edge of my pie plate. But it looks pretty darned good, eh?

Of course I was pleased to discover how incredibly tasty tomato pie is. In fact, I loved it. And it didn’t really take that long to make, either. I typically shy away from dishes that require a lot of prep, but this baby was absolutely worth it. We were having seconds by 7:30.

The only challenge I really had was interpreting the instructions provided by the KLC blog. I’m not sure they’re accurate… Maybe it’s more like user error. Who’s to say? The original recipe called for four tomatoes. It didn’t specify which kind. It didn’t indicate what size pie crust or pan to use, either. So, perhaps my pie plate was a bit too small for the original recipe, though I don’t know how you could have fit that many tomatoes in a deep dish sized pie plate, either! Anyway, I used their recipe to inspire mine and I hope my version inspires you!

INGREDIENTS
2 ripe hothouse or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into thick slices
Salt, divided
10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 20 minutes and liquid drained off
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-2 tablespoons plain Vegenaise
Pre-made vegan 9-inch pie crust or your favorite recipe (see note)
Vegan Parmesan, optional
Kalamata olives and fresh basil, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
Note, the second time I made this dish I tried my hand at a whole grain crust. I used 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/8 cup refined coconut oil, and 1/4 cup water. I mixed it in a food processor until crumbly, then added an additional 1/8 cup water until the dough became soft and stretchy. I rolled it out on a well-floured surface and then transferred to the pie plate. I poked the bottom with a fork a few times and then baked it at 400 degrees for 11 minutes, until it started to look golden. It was crisp on top and had an excellent flavor! Anyway, moving on.

Place your sliced tomatoes on a wire rack over the sink. Sprinkle them with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then flip and repeat. You’re trying to drain out as much liquid from the tomatoes as possible! Don’t go too crazy with the salt, but sprinkle them evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the fresh basil and onions. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly squish the tofu with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Vegenaise, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well with a fork or a wooden spoon.

When the tomatoes have sat long enough, press them each between two paper towels to remove additional liquid. Press firmly but don’t mutilate them! Then dice the tomatoes into small pieces.

If your pie crust isn’t pre-baked, bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. It should be light brown.

To assemble the pie, layer half of the onion and basil mixture on the bottom. Then add the diced tomatoes. Top with the remaining onion and basil mixture. Pour the tofu mixture (effectively, the tofu cheese) over it. Push down with your fingers or a fork to ensure the tofu is pressed well into every nook and cranny. If you’re using a smaller pie dish, like I did, you may have a little extra. If able, use a deep dish pan. If not, that’s okay. If you want to use the extra tofu in something else, go ahead. Be creative!

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with a nice layer of vegan Parmesan cheese. I used a homemade recipe from the Non-Dairy Formulary. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until the Parmesan is nice and browned! If not using the Parmesan, bake for 45 minutes altogether.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with chopped olives and fresh basil. We ate ours with fresh green beans lightly sauteed in grapeseed oil and minced garlic!

Makes 4-6 servings. Depending on how much you love it. 😉

Dont’ forget to Pin It! Just click here to add it to your boards:
http://pinterest.com/pin/214624738467462343/

By the way, did you know that Tuesday is also known as Tofu Tuesday?? I have been sharing tofu recipes with readers via social networks where tofu is the main ingredient. If you’d like to join in on Twitter, click here to tweet about this recipe. Also be sure to check out some of my other tofu-centric dishes, like my Tofu Shawarma and Veganized Paula Deen Collard Greens (with tofu bacon bits).