Hello, my friends! Happy Spring and happy April! I hope this post finds you in good spirits and health. If you saw my previous post from a last week, you already know some of the ways I’ve been spending my time – ways to help keep my anxiety and depression at bay. It’s definitely a strange and stressful time, but finding those outlets (and people) to lift you up is so important. Finding the humor or light in even some of the darkest and hardest times is necessary…for instance, finding out that the local gas station down the street was giving away a roll of toilet paper to every customer buying gas…that made me laugh!
I find peace in the little comforts – my morning cup of coffee, a delicious meal, a good book, a big hug from Willow and Josh, the kindness of others, and the crazy cat antics of Moxie & Rockford.
We had the opportunity to foster one last pup through Street Dog Hero before they were unable to fly anymore dogs home, but we’re anxiously awaiting word on their efforts in working with local and out of state shelters. They actually had 12+ dogs coming in from a shelter from California yesterday, but we weren’t fast enough to grab one to foster.
MARCH 2020 IN REVIEW:
P R O D U C T S :
Organic Cinnamon Grain-free Os >> Forager® Project >> I was craving cereal…not to eat for breakfast, but to have as a crunchy snack. Something to change up my go-to options and I spotted these at Whole Foods on sale! They come in three different flavors: cinnamon, chocolate, and plain. I thought the ingredient list was pretty good and although they contain sugar, it’s nowhere near the amount that is usually used in cereals (the cinnamon contains 4g of sugar per 1 cup serving). I loved that this was very mildly sweetened, had a great crunch, and had 4g of protein per serving. There was a slight aftertaste that I didn’t like at first – I think from the cassava flour. Willow didn’t like the cereal at all and said that it was the flavor she disliked. Would I buy this again?? Definitely not at full price, but possibly if I see it on sale again.
R E C I P E S :
One of my go-to breakfasts this past month was chickpea scramble (loosely adapted from this recipe) – I’ve been a fan of making this for years, but forgot about it for a while. It’s high in protein, fiber, really filling, and full of flavor. I love to sauté some diced red onion before pouring in the batter and then adding in some fresh spinach. Depending on my mood, I’ll change up the flavor with either curry powder, Italian seasoning, or a simple garlic + salt. If I have it on hand, I love to eat this with gluten-free toast. Below you’ll see a photo of it topped with fresh black pepper, extra nutritional yeast, and kelp granules. Sometimes I like to add a dash of hot sauce!
SUNBUTTER TAGALONGS >> Feasting on Fruit >> It’s been ages and ages since I’ve had a tagalong Girl Scout cookie…but I do remember them being one of my favorites. When Natalie shared her sunbutter version, I immediately had to give them a try. I was out of sunbutter at the time so I made them with peanut butter instead AND they were delicious! Every layer was heaven: crispy, buttery shortbread cookie, creamy peanut butter, and a healthy dose of chocolate. Definitely check out her video to go along with this recipe because she shares her trick to getting the bottoms of these cookies coated in chocolate too – which, in my opinion, is very important 😉 no skimping on the chocolate. These were even better than I remember AND better for you.
VEGAN POBLANO PEPPER CREAM SAUCE >> The Vegan 8 >> If you’re looking for a new sauce to put on EVERYTHING, look no further. Excellent flavor, wonderfully creamy, and the right amount of heat. I often times forget about poblano peppers, so this was a great recipe to get me add them to my shopping cart and dress up our typical meals. Josh and I used it on tacos, veggie bowls, and homemade pizza!
BLACK LENTIL CRACKERS >> Cool Beans Cookbook >> I love crackers. Not only do they satisfy that crunch I’m looking for, but they’re also a great vessel for dips. Store bought ones usually contain ingredients I’m not fond of, and the good ones cost a lot of money (and you don’t get a lot). I am thrilled to report that we have found the best homemade crackers and they kind of remind me of Mary’s Gone Crackers! Packed with TONS of protein (and fiber) from black lentils, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and garbanzo bean flour these are perfectly crunchy and full of flavor! He provides ways to change up the flavor with various seasonings – so it’s whatever you’re craving. I’ve been making these with smoked paprika, garlic, and a little nutritional yeast. Willow loves eating these with homemade chickpea mash or just plain!
7-Ingredient Vegan Gluten-free Waffles >> Minimalist Baker >> Yet another delicious waffle recipe!! And Willow has told me that these are her absolute favorite. We’ve actually made these three or four times over the course of the last two months and they turn out perfectly crispy every single time. I love topping mine with almond butter, hemp seeds, and a little drizzle of maple syrup! If you make these, be warned that the batter is really thick – nowhere near pourable, but don’t let that scare you!
Vegan Dalgona Coffee – Whipped Coffee >> Mary’s Test Kitchen >> This was a fun find! I hopped onto YouTube one afternoon and in my feed was a video for this recipe from Mary’s Test Kitchen. I was so intrigued that I immediately ran to my kitchen to give it a go! I didn’t have instant coffee, but had espresso powder in my pantry so I followed her instructions for this replacement. Had I not seen the video for this or given it try, I would not have believed that three simple ingredients would produce a beautiful + delicious whipped treat! If we weren’t in quarantine, I would have brought some to a neighbor to try since Josh was at work – I had leftovers, but the texture didn’t hold up very well. Bold, rich coffee flavor, sweet, and paired wonderfully with cold almond milk. I will have to make this again!
Vegan Lentil Soup >> The Vegan 8 >> Like many of you reading this, we’ve been working with what we have on hand, so when I saw an email for this recipe come through, I knew what we were having for dinner! Incredibly easy to make, simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, and comforting. The addition of balsamic vinegar paired perfectly with the tomato paste to bring a really nice richness and subtly sweet flavor. As always, this soup was even better the next morning….I had a bowl for breakfast!
Easy Samoa Baked Oatmeal >> Eating Bird Food >> I randomly stumbled upon this recipe and since I had some applesauce that needed to get used up, I made this for breakfast one morning. If you love coconut, you will really enjoy this spin on oatmeal. Date caramel + melted chocolate + coconut = a sweet treat! I am definitely more of a savory breakfast kind of girl, so it was a bit much for me in the morning, but I bet it would make a great snack or even dessert! Josh enjoyed this one a lot.
Mint Chocolate Chip and White Bean – Oat Cookies >> Cool Beans cookbook >> The ingredient list for this recipe really grabbed me. No flour?! Navy beans??? I had to try it. My little family was pleasantly surprised and Willow even declared them to be the best cookies I’ve made in a while! They are very fragile and didn’t crisp up like I had hoped (which could be due to me baking them on parchment paper as opposed to directly on a baking sheet as directed), but overall, we really liked these. Essentially like an oatmeal cookie, but with mint + chocolate…my favorite combo. I found that these are best stored in the freezer because it helps hold them together better AND they’re out of eyesight so we don’t plow through them!
B O O K S :
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles || historical fiction || What an incredible book! Written unlike anything I’ve ever read before, I was pulled in from the start and didn’t want this story to end. The writing itself was perfectly matched to the main character (elegant, noble, well-mannered)…therefore, for me, I took my time with this slow burn and allowed myself to fully process the words and fall in love with the characters. I was so impressed with how the pieces of this story intertwined and came together in the end. If you’re looking for a fast paced, action packed read…this one isn’t for you. But if you love a well written, character driven novel, definitely give this one a go! I would also like to mention that when I purchased this book from a small local bookshop, the woman working there told me to Google ‘Metropol Hotel’ before diving in. I highly recommend this! While the author does a beautiful job of setting the scene with detail, without seeing an actual photograph of the hotel, I don’t think I could have imagined just how vast and luxurious the Metropol really is.
Cool Beans by Joe Yonan || plant-based cookbook || I was SO excited to borrow this book from the library before libraries closed! All of the extra time with this gem has been wonderful. If you’re looking for new, creative ways to use beans, I suggest picking up a copy of this one! Or maybe you find beans boring…this book will definitely change your mind. I love the photos and detail in this cookbook and I love that the author has opened my eyes to not only different bean varieties, but also spices I rarely use. Full of tips, tricks, techniques, and obviously…delicious recipes! I’ve added it to my list of books I want to own.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle || non-fiction, self-help, memoir || I adore Glennon Doyle and immediately put myself on a waitlist for her latest book through the library. She has a way of writing that makes it feel like she’s sitting directly across from you, just casually chatting over a cup of coffee. Untamed is real, vulnerable, messy, beautiful, emotional, eye-opening, humorous, introspective, powerful, relatable, and SO much more. It’s everything I want in a self-help/personal development book. I love her authenticity and being able to call herself out on her own bs is refreshing. Filled with wonderful reminders and personal stories, she hammers home the message: be true to yourself, stay loyal to you.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin || fiction, young adult, fantasy || I didn’t love the writing, but I enjoyed the characters and appreciated the humor…was a great little escape from current world events. I rolled my eyes at some scenes and the predictability, but it was entertaining.
House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City Book 1) by Sarah J. Maas || fiction, fantasy, new adult || I have abandoned this one (possibly temporarily) because picking it up felt more like a chore. I can’t get into the writing or the characters, but since it’s a library book that I have for at least another month, I might give it another try later.
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger || historical fiction || Josh surprised me with a copy of this book and I devoured it in a short few days. It took no time at all to be transported into the journey of four orphaned vagabonds in 1932 – I got a good sense of the era/time period and the atmosphere. It’s a wonderful coming of age story and self-discovery that will both warm your heart and break it. I hadn’t heard of this author before, but I plan to seek out more of his books! I will also note that This Tender Land definitely had the same feel as Where the Crawdads Sing, so if you enjoyed that, you’ll like this one!
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy || fiction || My parents bought this for Willow for Christmas and it obviously got lost in the shuffle for a bit. Willow and I read it together and absolutely LOVED it. Short, yet so profound with its messages, wonderful reminders and insights, and beautiful illustrations that will warm your heart and make you smile. I really did see a little bit of myself within all four characters and the wisdom that came from each one. This is definitely a book we will return to again and again.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano || contemporary fiction || I just finished this one a couple of days ago and haven’t yet fully processed it. I basically read the last 40+ pages through tears…happy and sad, but mostly sad. This was not a fluffy, lighthearted contemporary fiction. This was more of a break your heart, coming of age story, grief, loss, and trauma…BUT also friendship and family. Overall, I did think it was a beautiful story, but sad. I had to watch an extra episode of The Office to shake it off.
Willow had $50 in Barnes & Noble gift cards from Christmas and ordered a bunch of books online – she’s currently enjoying the first book in The Land of Stories series and some of the super editions from the Warriors series. I need to catch up to her and give those books a look! We’re both going through Harry Potter withdrawal and need to find a new series to enjoy together…if you have any recommendations, please share them in a comment below!
Please let me know how your month was! How you’re holding up, what you’re doing for self-care, and any new fun finds, reads, treats, recipes, etc. Or maybe you’re watching a lot of Netflix these days…tell me what you might be binge watching 🙂
Oh, speaking of watching something – Josh and I saw the movie Knives Out and loved it! So funny and really well done! Highly recommend.
Thank you for stopping by and giving this ramble of mine a read! I hope you’re all staying healthy and safe. Sending BIG virtual hugs to all of you.