BFF Vegan Chili

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One of my BFFs threw a party a few weeks back & served this amazing chili. The recipe itself is vegan, though there was a cheese option for those who wanted it.

She found the recipe here. For my milk allergic friends, vegans, and/or those who want to cut back on milk, it looks like it could be a good resource. I can tell you from firsthand experience that this chili was amazing. Yum!

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Back On the Water

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After a long, hard, winter of gazing longingly at every body of water, trying to evoke seasonal change by sheer force of will, boating season has finally arrived.

One thing I like about leisurely kayaking is that I’ve been able to do it while my weight fluctuated up, down, and all around. The same goes for my fitness level. Basically, if I can fit inside and my health is reasonably good, I can do it. Plus, you know, fresh air!

Since this is more or less a food blog, I figured I’d share with you some of the snacks I’ve packed over the years. Please note, I did not receive compensation of any kind for mentioning the products I chose. Also, keep in mind that I am not an athlete, just a person who appreciates a good snack.

I’ve always been at least slightly aware of the need for protein- hence the cheese, but what I’ve found is that with experience, I naturally migrated over to healthier foods. I can tell you that it has made a difference. Weighing less at the start of the season this year has meant that so far, it’s been easier. In the past, I’ve gained weight nearly every summer. I’m really only 5 pounds lighter than I was at the start of last season- but I am about 10 pounds from what I was at the end of the season, and that is the difference that I felt at first blush.

It is easy to see the culprits early on- overly processed food and too much junk food. But, the trend continued even as late as last year. Perhaps I was drinking too many supplements. The ones I use are food-based, rather than amino acid based, from what I remember. I tried the other kind, but ugh, acid regurge!

I also remember being ravenously hungry after a run in the past. The first few years, I would chow down when I got home, even if I’d just eaten. Then, I tried Gatorade. Then, supplements. I’ve only gone a couple of times so far this season, but I wasn’t hungry afterwards. Some of this might have to do with the fact that I don’t stay out as long. These days, I’d rather do shorter trips and be able to go back again sooner, without needing a few days’ rest for my aching muscles. There’s something to be said for learning from experience.

Snack Time:

  • I started with cheese sandwiches on white bread with potato chips. I now bring a small insulated bag with an ice block. I did not do this originally. That’s a lot of melted cheese on squished bread.
  • I still pack a little cheese, but now it’s usually string cheese or these. It keeps better, but does still melt a little.
  • I always packed plenty of water and I still do. (This goes without saying, but never drink alcohol while boating. You never know when you might need your full coordination).
  • I used to pack junk food sometimes: Devil Dogs & those little snack containers of Cheez-Its/Oreos/Chips Ahoy (which I re-used).
  • The Gatorade years.
  • Some people pack nuts. I can’t do this and would prefer that others did not. Otherwise, don’t think I’m antisocial if I won’t linger around talking to you. In place of nuts, sunflower seeds are good.
  • Protein powders. There are really only a couple that are safe for me.
    • Apparently, this one is vegan. I forgot. It *does* act as a diuretic for me, just FYI. I used to drink this every time I came home. Now, I drink it whenever I need a protein boost- certain flavors only, due to allergies.
    • This is the brand of energy powder I use, but not all of the products are safe for me. I liked using them, and brought multiple pre-filled bottles in the past. But, these also are a major diuretic for me, which can be terribly inconvenient when you are out on the water. I’m out of them right now, but this season, I will probably cut back to one drink per run.
  • Chickpea snacks. Love them. Haven’t had them in a while. I am pretty sure these are the ones I used to get.
  • I love these snap pea and lentil crisps too, but don’t take them out because they are so fragile. A solid container would work fine for them, though.
  • I’m currently going through a Triscuit and hummus phase. This is extending into the rest of my life as well. Some hummus triggers a reaction, (I’m looking at you, Sabra!), some doesn’t.
    • These are handy little travel hummus packages. I like the garlic & red pepper flavors.
  • I’ve packed apples, but don’t really like dealing with leftover apple core. In the car, this wasn’t as big a deal. I’m sure it’s just a mental thing. My new thing is baby carrots, which also work with the hummus.

Hope this gives you some ideas! Enjoy your summer! ๐Ÿ™‚

Road Trip Round-up

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Road-tripping can be a challenge for anyone, but it’s particularly challenging bringing food allergies along for the ride. Add to that a vegetarian requirement, a budget requirement, and an overall desire for healthier choices, and it can seem insurmountable. I have not traveled with children, so I can’t speak to that challenge. But, here are my thoughts on road-tripping for two, based on our more successful moments. As always, you are responsible for your own safety.

Road-tripping in general:

1. Take shorter trips before a longer one. Prior to our most recent multi-day trip, we had taken several day-long road trips. We had also been camping together. Know the other person well, because you are going to be in a confined space together for hours on end. Account for the possibility that at least one of you might be overtired and cranky at any given time.

2. Bring something fun for the passenger. The license plate game is our perennial favorite, followed by travel bingo. I also take lots of pictures.

3. Bring a pillow, blanket, and possibly earplugs & an eye mask for the passenger to take a nap. I also brought my U-shaped travel pillow. You’d be surprised what a difference these creature comforts make.

4. Bring your favorite music. Be open to music you would otherwise not listen to if you plan on listening to the radio. We had an unexpected but delightful 70s interlude at one point.

5. Make sure your vehicle has been checked out by a mechanic, and spring for the best emergency auto-assistance plan you can afford. Have some sort of emergency funding available, even if you think you will never need it. You don’t know what the road has in store, and it’s best to be prepared.

Eating in motion:

1. The number one thing that works for us on any road trip is bringing a small cooler full of fresh food. At least on the way there, we are guaranteed something safe & satisfying. If you are able to, re-filling on the way home is highly recommended. We don’t always refill, but the times we have were so much better. You don’t want to be making food choices at odd hours of the evening. At least I don’t, because at that point, I will pretty much eat anything.

2. Don’t count on healthy choices being readily available. Yes, I saw bananas and apples more than I expected, but they were often more expensive than the easily found day-old hotdogs.

3. Bring fruit and vegetables. I had a large container of leftover salad that would have otherwise gone bad. I brought my camping utensils & a small bottle of dressing and had lunch in the passenger seat. I could feel the difference between this and my carb-laden choices on previous trips. Just make sure your salad is travel-friendly: no mushy stuff like sliced tomatoes. Grape tomatoes work better. I used diced Quorn cutlets for protein. Orange slices in their own container were also a great snack, and apples travel pretty well, too.

4. You will probably want snacks at some point. Even the healthiest among us needs a little treat now and then. If you pack healthier snacks, you lessen your chances of reaching for the powder-coated tortilla chips that seem to pop up everywhere. We brought veggie straws and popcorn for treats. There was also one chocolate rice confection that wasn’t even eaten until the ride home.

5. Stopping to stretch and have a meal: totally advisable if you don’t have allergies, a personal decision if you do. We did stop, and I was fine.

The Allergies:

This is one area where I cannot and will not advise you. I’m not a Doctor. I’m not even a good example. But, here’s how I handle it:

1. I mostly eat food from home, but when I do buy convenience store food, I choose something that seems relatively safe- like fruit, or I stick with foods that have been safe in the past. There are plenty of people that can’t do this, and it isn’t actually in my best interest, either. For example, with a nut allergy: the person handling the fruit could have just eaten a package of nuts. Foods that were once safe can easily not be, due to changes in the manufacturing process or cross-contamination. The point is, you can never be sure, which leads me to #2…

2. I always pack my medication. So far, every attack I’ve had has been treatable with OTC medication. But, that does not mean it’s something I can count on. The first time I had a full-blown attack, I didn’t even know I was allergic to the food in question- just that it had made my throat itchy in the past. The severity of an allergic reaction can change over time. I always make sure that others know where my medication and medical information is.

3. I know that I cannot control my exposure entirely. There are factors that cannot be planned for. For example, I planned to the best of my ability, and then had to walk past my allergen on the way to some random bathroom in the middle of nowhere. Any time I venture out, I have to face the possibility of a medical emergency, but I also don’t want to stop living my life. I am lucky that I can actually make this choice. There are plenty of others who cannot.

Mashed Potatoes and Quorn

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Mashed potatoes plus Quorn patty = Yum!

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As I’ve mentioned before, Quorn’s cooking recommendations don’t suit my taste. While I’m sure they have their reasons, I believe if something is breaded, frying is usually the way to go. I also believe that when you are choosing to eat something breaded, you’re not in the healthiest of moods, and you might as well just go for it. The only thing I can add to my original post is that it’s best to ensure they cook thoroughly. I take a little extra time, starting off with them on a low heat, before finishing off the breading.

Now, on to the potatoes…

Can you believe I’d never made mashed potatoes before? I’ve certainly eaten my fair share. When the issue with whole milk (and too much butter) manifested, I figured mashed potatoes were out of the picture. Since then, I’ve had them prepared with substitutions, and they’ve always been wonderful. So it was time.

I had three potatoes, so I referred to this recipe for an idea of the quantities I needed. Then, I improvised. My body has some wacky rules for what it will and will not tolerate. This is something that even I don’t fully understand, but I’ve found it’s just best to go with. I often use combinations of dairy and dairy-free products in my cooking for this reason.

Most of the time rice milk is not a true 1-for-1 when substituting for whole milk, though obviously in some recipes it seems to work just fine. What I’ve found is that rice milk does not have the same thickness and general properties of whole milk, so oftentimes I have to mess around with it to get it to replicate those properties when trying out a dish intended for whole milk. For these potatoes, I wanted creamy, but rice milk won’t necessarily yield “creamy” when beaten. Enter the modifications.

Modifications:

I obviously kept the skins on. (Because I like potato skins, so why bother removing them.)

I skipped the salt altogether. Not a huge fan of salt, didn’t need it. (This made them on the bland side, but I like them that way.)

I used fake butter and it tasted fine. (This added a light touch of saltiness.)

I added the rice milk in 1/4 cup increments after the first 1/2 cup. (I used vanilla because I only had vanilla. While that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was perfect for me. This most likely worked due to the lack of salt or pepper.)

Tried the cream cheese option, which added the creaminess.

Ground black pepper is yummy on potatoes, but I figured if I wanted some, I’d just add it on the plate. I didn’t end up needing it.

Obviously, I used a mixer instead of the hand-held method described in the original recipe.

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Needless to say, I was happy the modifications worked out, and that I was able to have the breaded patty/mashed potato combo that I’d been craving. A very nice dinner, with just enough leftovers.

๐Ÿ™‚

More Awards, Yay!

So, this is where I’m at right about now.

I am truly floored by the love and support from each of my followers. Thank you so much for your wonderful posts and thoughtful comments.

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liebster-blog-award

Liebster Award

Thank you Dispatches From The Gypsy Roller!

It’s been great watching this blog evolve from a blog about cooking in the tiny kitchen of a trailer to maintaining healthy choices in the midst of change.

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Some translations of “liebster” into English from the German:

beloved
dearest
sweetheart

The purpose of the Liebster Award is to highlight the efforts and contributions of those who are new to blogging.ย Here are the guidelines for the award:

  • Add the award icon to your blog.
  • Link to your nominator to say thank you.
  • Each blogger should post 11 facts about themselves.
  • Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Choose 11 up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers, go to their blog, and tell them about the award.

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Here are 11 facts about myself:

1. I used to take pictures of almost everything I ate. Oddly enough, I do that less now that I have a blog. Weird. (EDIT: BECAUSE MY CAMERA AND PUTER ARE NOT SPEAKING TO ONE ANOTHER RIGHT NOW).

2. I’m kind of a nerd at heart.

3. I started this post around Xmas time, and somehow never got back to it.

4. That quote about introverts and extroverts at a party: both can do it, but the introvert feels drained afterwards, while the extrovert feels energized. Yes. (I WAS MOSTLY THINKING OF ALL OF THE XMAS HOOPLA WHEN I WROTE THIS ONE, BUT IT HOLDS UP FOR OTHER SITUATIONS AS WELL.)

5. I’m allergic to soy.ย And nuts. And fish. And a few other things. These are only issues when I’m around others. People can be surprisingly careless.

6. I like cake. A lot.

7.ย My laundry basket is sometimes so full that I could decorate it with ornaments and use it for an Xmas tree. (OR, YOU KNOW, A SUMMER TREE WITH ORNAMENTS…).

8. I went swimming once so far this summer.

9. I eat the same things most of the time.

10. I find these lists really hard to complete.

11. I like iced coffee. (ALL YEAR, BUT ESPECIALLY IN THE SUMMERTIME).

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Here are my answers:

  1. What do you think are the three best items to donate to the food bank? Corn, artichokes, and beans. Because I like them, and maybe other people would, too.
  2. What book are you currently reading and would you recommend it? I am not reading much of anything at the moment, but the last book I re-read was Unbearable Lightness. Yes, I would recommend it, though it might be triggering for those who have or had eating disorders.
  3. How do you typically spend your time between eating dinner and going to bed? On the computer or watching a movie.
  4. Describe your favourite local restaurant. It is this cute little Italian place, where everyone remembers you and your likes/dislikes.
  5. What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to food? See aforementioned Italian food. I consider coffee a guilty pleasure, too, because it isn’t that great for you, but sometimes it helps get you through the day.
  6. Who is your favourite artist? Well, I like the courage of Kahlo, but it’s hard to pick an overall favorite. Different art for different moods.
  7. What is your favourite fruit or vegetable that grows in or around the area you live in?ย Tomatoes from the garden. Hothouse tomatoes are garbage.
  8. Which quality do you appreciate most in people? Loyalty.
  9. Describe favourite way to spend $10. Lunch. Probably a caprese panini with iced tea. ( I JUST SPENT $10 DOING EXACTLY THAT. GUESS I CALLED THAT ONE.)
  10. In a perfect world, who would cook you dinner every night? The chefs at my favorite restaurant.
  11. Which kitchen utensil or piece of cook wear do you use the most? I have a smallish fry pan that’s the perfect size for most meals.

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Here are my nominees:ย 

Do you want to play? Well, consider yourself tagged for any of these awards. I am very selective about the blogs I read, so if I’m mentioning a blog, it’s because I actually read and enjoy it. Many of my favorites no longer accept awards, and I believe it’s best to share the love anyway.
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I am currently reading:
Aside from the blogs already mentioned in this post, I am currently reading the following. If I forgot your blog, it doesn’t mean I don’t read it anymore, it just didn’t show up on the Reader when I made the list.
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http://veggiewitch.wordpress.com/

http://peacelovequinoa.com/

http://veganmonologue.wordpress.com/

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Here are my questions:
1. Alvin, Simon, or Theodore and why?
2. What is your favorite lunch?
3. Favorite summer activity?
4. Favorite salad?
5. Favorite cartoon as a kid?
6. Do you garden?
7. What did you want to be when you grew up?
8. Favorite small appliance?
9. I blog best when I…
10. Favorite movie?
11. Song that is stuck in your head?
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shine-on

Shine On Award

Thank you You Can’t Eat That!

You Can’t Eat That is devoted to demonstrating all of the wonderful culinary options available to people with food allergies.

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illuminatingbloggeraward

Illuminating Blogger Award

Thank you Peri’s Spice Ladle!

Peri’s Blog is *the* place to go to for accessible Indian recipes.

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Blog of the Year Award 1 star thumbnail

Blog of the Year 2012

Thank you Healthy Frenchie!

Do you like healthy living? Dogs? Cool pictures of scenery? All can be found at Healthy Frenchie. Good stuff!

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Happy Xmas in July! ๐Ÿ™‚

Special Soup

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Thank you all for your concern! I did eventually heal, it just took a little longer than I would’ve liked. Was it the flu? Who knows… Folk wisdom says that if there’s no fever, and your stomach is ok, then it’s just a cold. But, whatever you want to call it, it had me in its throes for about 2 weeks, which was flu enough for me.

I need to go back to the health food store and re-find the cough syrup I used to take years ago. This time around, the illness came so suddenly that I was just scrambling for whatever was around. So, I ended up trying just about anything and everything, depending on where I was and what was happening with my body. I *hate* cough syrup. So much. But, I drank it because I felt that lousy. There used to be a natural cough syrup out there that tasted good and worked. I have no idea what this mystery product was, or who made it, but I’m hoping I can recognize it by sight. Is this too much to ask years later? Possibly. But, I figure it’s worth trying.

When I thought I was well enough, I did (what was supposed to be) a little grocery shopping. Of course, I came back with what felt like half the store, and I completely over-exerted myself before I was ready. Yeah, that thing about medicine masking symptoms? True. Soup didn’t happen that day, needless to say. But, the next day, I just took my time and tried my memory, and made my special soup.

I am especially picky when it comes to soup, or rather, my stomach is extremely sensitive when it comes to soup. Commercial soups make me sick. I suspect it’s the preservatives, but it may also be the high sodium content. When I make soup for myself, it’s completely from scratch. Pre-packaged broth generally does not sit well. So, insofar as the general public goes, my soups are probably a little bland. But, for me, they’re perfect.

There’s no recipe for my special soup. I make it depending on what I am in the mood for, or what I have around. This time, there was a smidge of kale, a potato, some carrot shreds, some celery, some squash, some onion, some nutritional yeast, and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting. A perfect veggie counterpart to the traditional chicken soup.

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Love and Food

How do I know you love me?

You gave me food when things were horrible and you knew I was living on french fries and Cheerios.

You bought me rice milk the first time I came over, and continue to do so, even though you love your whole milk like someone in a commercial.

Peanut butter is one of your favorite foods, but you don’t eat it when I’m around because you don’t want me to get sick.

You went out of your way to make foods I liked, even though up until then everyone in my life said cooking for me was difficult. What’s even more meaningful is that you still do it.

You got me to try foods I thought I couldn’t eat, and feel safe enough to do so.

You support my blogging, even though your natural skill in the kitchen far surpasses my creative attempts.

Pasta in Progress

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This recipe is not yet perfected, but that’s the fun of it. I wanted pasta. I did not want to shop. So, I made this.

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I used:

1/2 box of penne

1 bag of frozen steam in the microwave vegetables

nutritional yeast

rice milk

1/4 stick of cheese

ground pepper

pecorino romano

stovetop and pots, mixing bowl, and food processor

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I was trying to make a pseudo-alfredo with the nutritional yeast, cheese, and rice milk. I am lacto-ovo, but my stomach can’t take real alfredo (milk/cream issues), and I’m allergic to the most common vegetarian/vegan substitutes (soy/nut issues), so I was trying to make a version I can actually eat.

I steamed the veggies and then processed them, and added them to the sauce. No problem there. If the sauce had been cheesier, this would’ve been even better. So, it’s almost there, but not quite. Because of the veggies and high quantity of nutritional yeast, this felt like good fuel. Plus, I had enough for days, which is always nice.

This was a lot of fun for me- one of those puzzles that requires ingenuity.

I can’t wait to figure this one out! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Celebration Roast

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently was lucky enough to catch this nifty product on sale. I’m sure my readers also know by now that my wee little blog does not receive sponsorship of any kind, and if this ever changes, I’ll be forthright about it. Funny thing about Field Roast, though, I’m not sure they actually *would* request my opinion on their own.

I recently read an interview where they claimed they’re not actually positioning their products for vegetarians, but rather, for those omnivores who just like to switch it up. (At least, that’s what I got from reading it). In this interview, they also said they’d never make faux bacon, which broke my little seitan-loving heart, since I’m allergic to the soy based crap, er, products, that Morningstar produces. The justification for the omnivorous approach is their correct assumption that most vegetarians are interested in the health aspects of what they eat. They state with a refreshing honesty that their products are not particularly healthy, but taste good.

As someone who was formerly teased for being the most unhealthy vegetarian on the planet, I can say while that while many vegetarians go for the healthy approach, not all do, and not all the time. Some vegetarians have trouble figuring out the ins and outs of the diet at first. In my opinion, better to offer them seitan than have them eating cheese fries every night.

This time of year, I don’t always have the time to linger in the kitchen, or even to prep food ahead of time like I usually do. Having a little seitan around keeps me from reverting to the frozen pizza option, and actually offers some protein my body can use. I discovered Field Roast right before my camping trip this summer, and so we ended up taking the faux hot dogs, the faux Italian sausage, and the faux lunchmeat slices (the reddish ones, I forget the flavor). All three were the perfect compliment to my partner’s meat-based selections, and we were easily able to share the rest of the sandwich components like bread, lettuce, and the like. It was also fantastic to have this protein in my system for a very active vacation. I was kayaking, walking, swimming, and I even tried a short zipline! Knowing that I get easily tuckered out without a proper diet, we consciously made an effort to ensure I had enough protein in my system to enjoy myself. When I returned home, I tried the mushroom slices, and then, the Celebration Roast pictured above. Everything I’ve tried, I’ve liked so far.

I first microwaved the Celebration Roast. It’s fine microwaved, because, as they state, it’s already cooked, you are essentially reheating it. Once I got mid-loaf (about midweek), I tried frying it, and obviously, I enjoyed that even more. It’s also fine right out of the fridge. The closer it got to Xmas, the more I needed quick but good, and this fit the bill. And now that the Celebration Roast is finished, it’s time to celebrate!

Happy Holidays! ๐Ÿ™‚

Processing

Whole Wheat Pasta with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Plenty of good food was eaten on vacation, and among these yummy foods were new selections that fall under the heading, “processed”. Prior to this, I’d been limiting my processed food intake. With summer comes the quick and easy availability of all sorts of yummy veggies. So, rocking the fresh food was pretty simple.

For vacation, though, I really wanted to have that stereotypical camping experience, and that experience included grilled veggiedogs. Just a few years ago, this would have been impossible, since I’m allergic to soy dogs. I discovered the seitan ones a couple of weeks prior, and I just knew I wanted to try them. They were good for that purpose, and I was happy. I also ended up trying the seitan Italian style sausage and seitan slices. Yes! We did all kinds of outdoorsy activities on vacation: hiking, zipline, paddling, and swimming, so keeping my protein levels up was especially important. But, once I got home, I couldn’t get off the processed seitan wagon.

Was the overconsumption of processed food responsible for the weirdness last week? I really don’t know. I bought some OTC stuff, guessing in the dark, but so far, it’s worked. I do think, however, that the diet change has affected my available energy. And so, yes, a little coffee now and then has kept me perky enough to interact with the world. I know overconsumption of coffee gives me problems, so I try really hard not to have it every day, even though sometimes I’d like to.

But, this is not a woe-is-me post. Instead, I offer last night’s transitory dinner: a mixture of fresh mater with canned asparagus & whole wheat pasta. Not perfect, but a nice way to get back into the rhythm. Evoo, garlic, some crushed pepper, and Italian herbs rounded it out. Pretty tasty! ๐Ÿ™‚