Vacation is Over

What is about the day after vacation that is so hard? Oh wait, I know. It’s that nobody gets enough sleep and there are a million things to be cleaned and put away while you are attempting to continue doing the normal every day things and the kids decide they do not want to get along since we are at home. All this vacationing has left me worn out. Getting up for a run this morning was tough! And then making it through the day was still tough. But the day is almost over and we have all made it.

We took our time coming home yesterday and stopped to hang out in Ocean Shores for a bit. Over the weekend we never actually made it into the city. Instead, we stayed at the beach house and headed down to the beach from there (and took naps! The kids were up until 11 pm, yikes!). The house we get is literally on the beach trail and you can sit out on the deck or in the living room or in our bedroom and see the ocean. The weather was amazing, better than it’s ever been and we took full advantage by not wasting our time driving to the city.

The weekend was a lot of fun. Brian and I escaped for a short run one of the mornings, which we don’t get to do often enough. I loved seeing the beauty of the ocean and was in awe of the view and the weather God placed before me. It was truly a gift. We managed ok with our modified menu and taco night only claimed one tummy, Lexi’s. That was probably more due to the s’mores she had at the campfire later that night than the tacos but maybe the combo wasn’t so great for her.

By the time we arrived home yesterday I was exhausted. I was fighting sleep the entire drive home. It was such a sunny pretty drive that I didn’t want to miss out and sleep. In order to even function the rest of the night I had to fit in a short power yoga session to get my heart pumping.

Nobody was very hungry for dinner since we had big lunches and snacked on the drive. Plus, despite having leftovers in the fridge we couldn’t eat any more fish or burgers or rice or beans. While this dinner was not as quick as I would have liked it ended up being perfect.

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Broccoli and cauliflower, lentils, kale, tomatoes, and hummus bowls. This dinner was simple and had none of the things we had been eating all weekend long.

Brian got to take those leftovers for lunch today. The girls had a veggie plate with some leftover baked beans (they turned out delicious by the way!) and strawberries. We went to the store before lunch so our fridge is again stocked with an abundance of produce, thank goodness!

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I’ve eaten a lot of lettuce over the last few days and did not want another lettuce salad for dinner. Because it was hot and I was worn I knew I wanted fresh produce for dinner, just not lettuce heavy. I made something I found on Pinterest once called Living Pad Thai. I didn’t use a recipe just grabbed fresh food from the fridge and shredded it or chopped it small and mixed together. We topped with a homemade Thai peanut sauce (or homemade teriyaki for the girls), peanuts, and red chili flakes.

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All those veggies are filling! The Living Pad Thai has carrots, yellow squash, purple cabbage, broccoli, onions, and kale. The family raved about this meal, pretty much every bite. =) The best part is there was so much leftover we all get to eat this for lunch tomorrow. Works out great for me since I’m taking the girls to the zoo and that’s one less thing I have to pack.

Speaking of packed lunches, I’m starting to get very nervous about packing a lunch for both Isabelle and Brian on the daily once school begins again. It’s a lot of work for me. The girls will be attending a VBS next week where Isabelle will stay all day and need to bring a lunch so I guess I will get some practice and face my fears!

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Ocean Shores Bound

Ocean weekend getaway here we come! My family, my sister’s family, and my dad go to Ocean Shores each year and split the cost of a house on the beach. When I was little my family would go every year in July for the Surf and Sun motorcycle rally. Now that my sister and I have families we have continued the tradition. My dad has a Harley that he usually rides down there and while we spend very little time in Ocean Shores at the motorcycle show we still go that same weekend each year. This is our 5th year!

As I mentioned before we create a weekend menu to avoid everyone bringing everything and combat that last minute what are we having for dinner/breakfast. As my family has changed eating habits the menu system is not working out so well for us as I am having to bring additional stuff to accommodate our eating style. Bringing good food we enjoy eating is not the problem. All the other food that will be available is the problem. I dislike having to explain to my six and four year old why they cannot have or can have very little of insert any food here over and over again. As much as we explain it, they are little and don’t completely understand. They are happy to eat what we have and will enjoy it but what four year old gets the effect eating french bread will have on her tummy. All she knows is that it’s good and she wants to eat a lot of it (and who can’t sympathize with that!?).

Anyways, what I am bringing is A LOT of vegetables and fruit.

The first night we are celebrating my birthday since my actual birthday was spent getting ready for the trip. We are eating fish, green beans, and salad.  A perfect dinner for me. I also made myself a birthday cake which I totally don’t mind doing. It’s made out of love =) and won’t make me feel sick.

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The cake, filling, and frosting is grain and sugar-free! The crumb is made of almond flour and coconut flour (recipe from the Wheat Belly Cookbook). Next, I filled it with cherry chia jam and topped with chocolate frosting (seriously made of canned coconut milk and chocolate chips, that’s it!).

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I had a little taste test and liked it. Not too sweet but still satisfying. We’ll see how well it travels.

The menu for the weekend includes pancakes (subbing for almond flour pancakes), sandwiches (subbing for chickpeas salad and/or lettuce wraps), eggs and bacon and hash browns (hold the potatoes please, add some greens!), and muffins (healthy and made by me, sugar-free but not grain-free).

The other dinners planned are tacos. Mexi! This, also, is filled with substitutions for my family. I made homemade tortillas (it’s so easy!) to bring. Instead of ground taco meat we will have a taco seasoned veggie mix and refried beans, cashew cheese sauce, and avocado. Also, I’m making Mexi rice which we will actually eat and someone else is bringing chips and salsa. Here’s to hoping that taco night doesn’t take anyone out, ha ha!

Our last night is burger night. I pre-made veggie burgers and brought lettuce cups to wrap the burgers in. There will also be canned baked beans (subbing with 10 minute baked beans), twice baked potatoes (subbing with yams), and asparagus.

Man, that’s a lot of substitutions!

My fridge is crazy right now. I was tasked with bringing salad and lettuce. Fair enough, because I will single-handedly be eating the majority of it but I think I got overly excited because there is literally lettuce and greens in every nook in my fridge. Lettuce overload!

In addition to the planned items above I brought produce and stock to make soup (it may be necessary!), lentils, peanuts/mixed nuts, peanut butter and jelly, Terra vegetable chips, dipping veggies, and hummus. As an extra little treat I made lime coconut macaroons.

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I’ve never made macaroons before and these are sugar-free, grain-free, and vegan. They are delish, I had to hold back from scooping massive amounts of batter into my mouth! Maybe we can even share these with everyone else without having to explain they are a “healthy” version.

Yay for spending the weekend at the ocean! Yay for family and yay for good food! I’m really going to try to not worry too much about all the food substitutions while we are away and just rely on my planning. I’m 30 and vacation bound, let the good times roll.

 

Spokane Vacay

It’s been pretty quiet on here lately. That’s because we took a family trip to Spokane! In fact this trip is our longest away from home family adventure ever. Six days total away from home!

We came because Brian had to work in the area so the hotel stay was free and gas is reimbursable. So the major expenses are covered. He has been working early in the morning and getting done with enough time that we have the afternoons and evenings free to be together and do things.

Spokane has stolen my heart! The Centennial Trail is amazing (it’s a trail that runs along the Spokane River forever long, well longer than we could ever dream to explore. It goes all the way to Idaho!). Our hotel is right off the trail and next to the Riverfront park, which is also awesome (play structure, fountains to play in, bridges, carousel, and so much more!). Brian and I love the way the city is setup with the major roads going through it. Everything is so accessible (I’m talking 10 to 15 minute commutes to other areas of the city versus the 20 plus to get into the heart of Puyallup from my house).

Now for the part where I talk about what we’ve been eating. This is my blog about family eats, right?

In true form I packed us prepared by me food. Our hotel has a mini fridge and microwave so limited cooking is possible. We are staying at the Oxford Suites again. Which means breakfast is covered and evening snacks are a nice bonus. Unfortunately, the options are not as extensive as the one in Vancouver (no salad bar at evening snack! I was quite disappointed by that.) The girls have eaten enough eggs, sausage, and potatoes for the last three days that I just can’t serve it to them even one more time. We’ll have to go for oatmeal today.

I brought all sorts of lunch options for us: tuna salad, peanut butter and jelly, lettuce cups, and falafel. It’s great to know we have good food and don’t need to worry about buying it. Plus, having the packable food made it possible for us to have an easy picnic lunch in Idaho:

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Lexi enjoying her peach, tuna lettuce cup, veggies, and pretzel sticks.

We had family movie night after our Idaho day and were worn out and didn’t want to go anywhere. Thankfully, I brought a few dinner options and we ate green bean lentil spaghetti in our room. What a relief to have food with us on a night like that.

As I mentioned before I brought vegan gluten-free brownies and trail mix cookies for treats. I also brought veggies and hummus, peanuts, homemade trail mix, and lots of fruit to snack on. We’ve been doing pretty well not eating too much “regular” food. That being said we did order pizza last night to enjoy on the patio of our hotel but I made side salads to go along with it to at least fit in some veggies.

All in all, four days into our longest family trip, I’d say we are doing well. I’m so glad I went for being the crazy lady that packed a cooler full of food to bring to the hotel. The girls are having so much fun and I just love it here. Feeling well makes a difference in the experience and I’m thankful that I did not underestimate it and leave us to fend for ourselves while here.

Spokane, I love you (and these people)!

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4th of July Weekend!

Whew! We were so excited about 4th of July being on a Friday this year and tried to drum up some camping plans. Nothing worked out so then we were excited to get some at home time for the long weekend. My idea of an uneventful long weekend was not fulfilled. The 4th of July was pretty quiet for most of the day. I went on a long run. We had a yummy red, white, and blue pancake breakfast on the porch (or leftover chiles quiche for the adults).

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We had a simple veggie filled lunch: lentils and artichoke salads, and lentils with veggies for the girls.

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We even had family nap time! For festivities we went to my sister’s fiancee’s parent’s house for a family BBQ and fireworks fun. The girls were decked out:

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They ate way too much food and stayed up way too late. I’m pretty sure Lexi ate her weight in tortilla chips! But they had fun and there was very little whining so that is a win.

The day after we embarked on our first family hike! Without knowing how much the girls could handle we picked a 2.5 mile hike to some mini waterfall. The girls are used to doing a decent amount of walking from walking up to Izzy’s school every morning (only half a mile to school but a lot of that is uphill) and we enjoy walking around the neighborhood. The trip was a total success! The distance was no problem for them and the hike was uphill for most of the first half. We feel like they could handle more and are all looking forward to more hikes in the near future.

I packed us a lunch to eat during our outing (oops no picture!). The girls (ok and us too) have been loving on peanut butter and jelly in boston lettuce (way easier to eat than other lettuce sandwiches because the boston lettuce makes a little cup to hold what you put inside it).

We were all so worn out from staying up late the night before and not sleeping in and then driving and then hiking. Soup seemed like a comforting healthy dinner. The soup du jour was veggie.

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This soup had cauliflower, carrots, yellow squash, and spinach from my garden (yay!). We went with simple salads next to dinner. I had to make this day an all veggie day after the 4th of July bbq.

I am hot dogged out from all the bbqs already (Brian’s birthday dinner may have pushed me over the edge). My family does not share my sentiment. So I am looking forward to not seeing a hot dog for some time (except when I gave one to Isabelle at a birthday party today). No hot dogs on my grilling menu for a while! This week is supposed to be hot so we are planning on doing some grilling.

Father’s Day Camping

For at least five years now we have gone camping on the weekend of Father’s Day. And we typically, go to the same place. Our camping has evolved a lot since then. We have purchased a few different tents to fit our growing family. We’ve added a Lexi and a dog since we started our Father’s Day camping adventures. And as the girls kept growing our camping style has grown with them. Ay, we used to have to lug pack and plays, portable swings, strollers, diapers, and tons of other baby gear with us. Then we got to the potty stage and had less stuff to lug with us but ended up spending a lot of time at the campground bathroom. Now we are onto the trailer phase. No more lugging around tents and gear or spending time in campground bathrooms.

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Our first Father’s Day weekend camping trip. This was a walk in site so my amazing husband (poor guy) had to carry all this stuff down to our site from the truck parked above.

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Apparently, I don’t have any pics from our trip last year but this was our first trailer camping experience which happened to be for Father’s Day weekend.

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How sweet are these two? She was in a carrier the first year and look at her three years later, daddy’s girl.

We’re hitting the sweet spot of lugging games and bikes and baseball mitts. Oh how life changes so much in the first couple years of having children. Once you get used to one thing a whole new phase hits.

Anyway, this will be the second year my dad joins us on our Father’s Day weekend camping trip. Because it’s Father’s Day weekend our camping menu is centered around what the dad’s wanted and like (which apparently is a lot of meat).

Here goes:

Breakfasts:

Eggs and grits and bacon

Chicken fried steak with sausage country gravy, biscuits, and scrambled eggs

Lunches:

Sandwiches

Vegetable soup

Dinners:

Chili dogs and potato salad

Steak, potatoes, and green beans

Snacks and Desserts:

S’mores

Oreo truffles (Brian’s fave)

Veggies and hummus

Chips and salsa

Mixed nuts

Peanut butter, chocolate wraps grilled on the fire

Bananas stuffed with chocolate, marshmallows, and peanut butter grilled on the fire

 
In addition to all that we have apples, pears, cherries and bananas that we will eat with breakfasts, lunches, and as snacks. In my mini produce drawer in the trailer I also have a big bag of salad, lettuce to wrap around hot dogs or sandwiches, zucchini, mushrooms, green pepper, cabbage, onions, and tomatoes. I’m hoping to roast some of these veggies to fulfill my desire for fire cooked food on a stick other than marshmallows.

 

The Makings of a Wonderful Friday

Today, I woke up before my alarm clock with no pressing thoughts of what needed to get done. The sun was shining through my blinds and the love of my life was still asleep next to me. I love when days start this way. They tend to quickly change when the girls get up and with some sort of sixth sense they know mom thought she was going to have a good day. Then begins the arguing before breakfast, the not getting ready, the having to be told over and over again (all very everday occurrences). Today, however, I was so excited about the great start to the day and what the rest of the day held that it didn’t get to me.

After Izzy went to school Lexi and I headed to the YMCA for weekly preschool science class. The classes are an hour long so I get a chance to get a good workout in. I picked one of my favorites: a circuit workout where I mix running in with strength training exercises like pushups and squats. Immediately following that Lexi and I went home to pick up Izzy for our afternoon adventure.

Did you know today is National Donut Day? Well, it is and Krispy Kreme gave away a free donut (any kind) to whoever came in. Plus, it has been sunny all week and we have been talking about going to the zoo. So I did an irresponsible mom thing (I love being able to do these things sometimes). I fed my kids a donut before lunch and took them to the zoo instead of making sure Lexi got her nap and me accomplishing some of my home duties. Donuts were so good! We each got a different flavor (powdered sugar coated with apple cinnamon filling, glazed lemon filled, and birthday cake batter) and shared bites to compare.

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Who wouldn’t be so happy about free donuts!?

Before the zoo we stopped at a natural foods store so I could pick up my chickpea flour (can’t wait to use it!) and some coconut water for Brian to try out on his run.

I may have been slightly irresponsible for taking them to the zoo but I was very well prepared. I had brought us some good healthy lunches in anticipation of the donut eating that took place before hand.

We pack picnic lunches to just about anywhere we go so that I am assured the girls bellies get full of good quality food in addition to any fun extras we might get. They think it’s very normal for me to bring a lunch or food to just about anywhere. I’ve definitely brought in my own cut up carrots or apples to pizza places or breakfast places. Lunch today was raw veggies, oranges, grapes, and leftover tabbouleh from yesterday.

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We spent most of the afternoon at the zoo and got home just in time for me to figure out what I wanted to do about dinner. Of course, it was going to be all about vegetables but it was the how I needed to decide on. I went with vegetable seaweed wraps. The idea is sushi with vegetables only and no rice. That gets a little tricky because rolling them up is not so easy without the rice holding it together so I added a little cooked egg to help out.

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These beauties are full of egg, shredded carrots, shredded red cabbage, yellow squash, pickles, yellow bell pepper, and cooked spinach. I made a premixed stir fry for the vegetable side (vegetables with a side of vegetables, uh, yes please!). There were two dipping sauces for the seaweed veggie wraps: an orange maple sauce and a homemade teriyaki (both from Oh She Glows– so you know they were filled with only the good stuff). While the rice free sushi is a little messy everyone raved about how good they were and we have none leftover.

To top off my wonderful Friday both the kids are in bed before 8. Too bad Brian is working and I’m typing this post but it is still sunny out and the night is young (even if I am not).

 

Back at It

Memorial Day weekend camping trip was a success! We picked a place that there wouldn’t be a ton of traffic getting there and home (thankfully that was true). The weather was a mix of decent and rainy. Which really during May in Washington that’s all you can really ask for. The girls rode bikes, we took a long walk, had a few great campfires, and took some naps. Camping for the extra day really makes a huge difference.

The camping menu worked out so well. We didn’t have too much food and started running out of food. Our new trailer’s fridge is a little smaller than the old one and I had a hard time fitting everything, no more over packing. Also, since I was not at the mercy of somebody’s else’s cooking I was able to modify meals so that I didn’t feel awful. That is until we stopped off for Mexican for lunch on the way home (unfortunately the food was not great and definitely not worth feeling yuck for).

One of my favorite parts of camping is the morning we leave. Now that we live the trailer life it’s much more laid back and things like this happen:

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S’mores before breakfast! Side note: I love to roast things over the fire but would like to actually consume what I roast, what other options are there aside from marshmallows and hot dogs? There are only so many of those I can roast and I give away before it is a detriment to the rest of the family also.

While I was able to eat pretty normally (for me) during camping the same cannot be said of the rest of the family (lettuce wrapped chili dog, anyone?). The best thing for dinner after a trip like this is a big bowl of vegetables. Dinner was salads all around (surprised it wasn’t soup?). This salad was extra special with roasted chickpeas (we are all in love with them), curry roasted cauliflower and squash, regular salad toppers (carrots, onion, etc), a spoon of hummus, and drizzle of olive oil.

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Back on the clean eating wagon!

First Camping Trip of the Year

We did not used to be Memorial Day weekend campers. In fact, I really enjoyed lying low while everyone else fought the traffic and the crowds. Since Brian changed jobs last year and the new gig offers less vacation time we have to take advantage of long weekends. This is our first time camping for Memorial Day weekend since…well I don’t think we’ve ever done that together.

Also it’s our first camping trip since buying our newer trailer. Our first trailer was pretty old (1975 old) but did us well. The sleeping situation in there, though, was not ideal. We were often up in the middle of the night listening to Lexi roll around in the bunk above us, or trying to get comfortable in the twin mattress that we shared while the girls got the big mattress, or picking Izzy up off the floor when she falls out of the twin mattress that they shared while we slept on the big mattress. Bunk beds and a bed should solve that.

So what do we eat when we go camping? Well, I can tell you gone are the days when all we brought was a pack of hot dogs, buns, chips, s’more stuff and beer (maybe there was more but I don’t remember much else). Camping eats require a lot more of my prep time. However, having a trailer has really helped. It’s a little rough to bring lettuce in a cooler, strategic placement is key. Now I get to bring enough to fill a mini kitchen and don’t need to prep each meal fully before we go.

Our menu looks something like this:

Breakfast:
Zucchini chocolate chip pancakes and bacon
Omelettes and bacon
Eggs and grits

Lunch:
Lunch meat and lettuce
Mixed veggie and bean cold salad
Giant lunch salad (with blue cheese!)

Dinner:
Lentil sloppy joes on lettuce or tortillas with potato salad
Chili dogs and corn on the cob
Mushroom and broccoli baked casserole

Snacks and Desserts:
Apples, bananas, melon
Raw veggies and salsa or hummus
S’mores
Bananas with peanut butter and chocolate chips (cooked on fire, amazing!)
Popcorn
Peanut butter chocolate chickpea cookies

Food Adventures

Over the weekend we took a little family trip to Vancouver, Washington because Brian had some work to do down there. This was a pretty relaxed trip. We didn’t really make any plans for what we were going to do just kind of be together and do whatever comes up. This was also a rare trip for me because I’m usually in charge of packing most everything we will eat while we are gone. It takes me a week to get all my cooking in for a camping trip. Last year we traveled to Las Vegas with a checked bag filled with snacks and other food and stayed in a hotel with a kitchen so I could cook for us. Cooking for my family is basically my full-time job.

The hotel we stayed at this weekend did not have a kitchen in it but they did have some really great perks. If you get a chance I can highly recommend staying at Oxford Suites. They had a pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room and fitness center. Additionally, they offered each guest two complimentary drink tickets for each night of stay (seriously, free wine or beer!). During this evening reception there was also a free salad and soup bar. We planned on going out to dinner but definitely hit up the salad bar to get some veggies in before dinner. Also, they have free hot breakfast! Not just bagels and cream cheese or a bowl of cereal. We had scrambled eggs, kielbasa sausage, potatoes, and cottage cheese. There was the standard bagels, donuts, and cereal also. We loved the hotel and wished we could have stayed another night (more free wine!). They were so friendly, too, and offered my girls a coupon for a free movie and popcorn from the convenience store in the lobby. Funny side note the girls had never seen microwave popcorn before so it was an adventure watching that pop in the microwave.

On Saturday on our way down to Vancouver we stopped at a little Mexican restaurant in Centralia. I had read about the place in a magazine as one of the best authentic Mexican food places in Washington so I had some high expectations. La Tarasca is not right off the freeway and is pretty small. We never would have found it if we hadn’t been searching. This place lived up to the hype! The descriptions I had read of the place was that it was like eating at someone’s house in Mexico and I completely agree. Brian and I split carnitas (it was lunch and we wanted to save room for dinner). They were so good and tender and juicy. The homemade corn tortillas were awesome! The girls got standard kid Mexican food (a burrito and tostada). I was so busy loving my food I didn’t even taste theirs. Oops! I tried to snap a pic but it didn’t turn out.  The menu was small but as soon as we left I was dreaming about coming back and trying a different meal.

After our drinks (free booze!) and salad  at the hotel on Saturday night we headed to the docks on Hayden Island (on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington) for dinner. We had found Island Cafe on the internet and it seemed like a neat place. It was! The cafe was out on the docks. We got to walk by all the boats and sit out on the water for dinner. I wish my food had been better so I could be really excited about the place. I had an Ahi tuna and avocado salad which sounds amazing but was just alright. Brian had an Ahi tuna burger which again was just alright (aside from the wasabi mayo which was so yummy!). My little carb lover Lexi had french fries and mini corn dogs and tried to insist that she was going to eat a whole basket full of fries (um, no way). Isabelle did not want to order off the kids menu (and I don’t blame her, you read what Lexi ate) so she ordered a veggie wrap with curry macaroni salad. Very adventurous of her and she really enjoyed it. She may have had the best meal.

On Sunday I took the girls down to Portland for church. Before we left I did some research as to what I might be able to find in the way of vegan food. I happened upon a small chain cafe, the Laughing Planet, within walking distance of church. Little did I know there were tons of little cafes within walking distance of church and being Portland I’m sure a lot of them had a decent vegan selection (note for next time). I did manage to take a picture of my delicious lunch:

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It’s a veggie bowl! It was loaded with tofu, garlic green beans, broccoli, and asparagus topped with a cilantro lime slaw and peanut dressing. Man, it was good but way bigger than I thought (I even skipped the brown rice that normally comes with it). This thing kept me full for the rest of the day (really, I couldn’t eat dinner!). Lexi had a bean burrito and Isabelle had a bowl of mashed potatoes with steamed broccoli and corn. I totally dropped the ball on adding extra veggies to their meals because it was my first time there and I just had no idea (again, note for next time).

It was quite the day and a half filled with way too much food. Some of it not too bad for us, some of it definitely not great. Both my girls were pretty miserable last night when we got home and insisted they were hungry for dinner. I was way too full to eat so I served them this:

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Afterwards, Isabelle was complaining of a tummy ache and could only lay on the couch. She kept telling me how grateful she was that we were not eating out again. Ha ha, back to mom made food for a while (job security).