Peanut Butter Grits
Monday, July 17, 2017
By Mellisa Pendleton

Are you ready for this? 10 pounds GONE. Ten pounds that is never coming back. I checked my weight at the doctor's office 30 days ago and had an apt. today, and ten pounds in those 30 days. There is no telling when it started, but I can guarantee is has been within these last two weeks of our #vegantrialrun. It gets easier and easier. I thought I'd miss out on something. But, I feel like I've gained a new awareness. I don't actually have to have meat & dairy to breathe...who knew? lol. A few things I've noticed: my grocery bill has not decreased. I'm hoping eventually I figure out a way to make it less expensive, but here is what I'm having issues with. I like to eat local. AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. That means farmer's markets, local grocery stores, local stands, etc. I don't find it any less expensive. I'm a lover of Aldi for sure, but wanted to really try and stay away from big box stores. Why is a whole other blog post, but the gist of it is that food that travels does more harm for the environment and is less fresh. Point blank. The closer your food source, the fresher it is. 

We are heading to the beach on Saturday and I can already tell you I'm not only going to continue to feed my family vegan meals, but I'm bringing my Instapot. And my nutribullet for smoothies. So, what have we been eating????

Here are some of my most favorite recipes: 

Homemade Salsa Verde

Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

Crispy Grain Free Waffles

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Vegan Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Enchilada Zucchini Boats (I substituted the enchilada sauce with fresh salsa)

Apple Cinnamon Waffles

Homemade Vegan Nachos(tried vegan cheese for the first time and it tastes exactly the same)-put black beans, rice, guacamole, & salsa on a bed of vegan safe chips

Breakfast Pizza

We only ate one meal out(take out actually) and it was a vegan pizza from Mellow Mushroom. It was divine.

Granola with almond or flax milk

Salads galore with tons of fresh local veggies

Hummus with veggies or vegan friendly pita chips

Lacroix water because I'm addicted(lol)

Rice bowls with leftovers on top

Quinoa bowls with leftovers on top

And so much more...

So, the most common question I have been asked is don't you miss meat/diary/eggs?

Here comes the shocker...I don't. The only thing I miss are things that I never knew had dairy in them. Don't miss meat one bit whatsoever.

My kids are still trying new things and I'm just so proud. We still have our crying fit moments of not wanting what I've made for dinner, but I always offer an alternative that is not expensive and after they have tried at least one bite. I went to the grocery store after my doctor's visit today to pick up a few things for our beach trip and found them some almond milk frozen treats and they were ecstatic! My sweet Ella says "momma, being a vegan is good isn't it?" Dang, it sure is babe.

I am giving all of my children a plant based vitamin as well as my husband and I just to cover our basis in this new transition, but I can honestly say they have seriously impressed this momma.

Some improvements I've seen in myself?

Besides a whooping 10 pounds, I've noticed my skin starting to clear up. I've noticed no more trips to the bathroom I was taking frequently(too much info I know). I noticed today that my blood pressure was lower than normal for me. For those who don't know me personally, I've been on blood pressure meds for FOREVER. Even on meds my b/p still was higher than I'd like, but today it was a cool 122/70. That my friends was enough for me. Will we do this forever? I have no idea, but what I do know is that right now, I won't turn back.

xoxo Mellisa  

 

 

Side note: My Usborne addiction continues. My little reader <3

Usborne Books & More 

 
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
By Mellisa Pendleton

Oh boy did I have a lot of messages/texts/emails from my last post Meat, Dairy, & Egg Free for 2 weeks. Some good. Some bad. I expected it. I laughed at some and took into account some others and decided I still felt I was on to something. I still wanted to let our family be the trial run. You can do anything for 2 weeks and who knows...maybe just might feel better. Oh, my lifelong trials with food. I love it. I love to cook it, to eat it, and to share it. Usually when we have guests over, I don't let them plate their own food. I like to do it for them. I like to put all the flavorful choices I've made onto that plate and watch their faces. Even the disgusted ones lol(aka: my children). I wanted to keep these 2 weeks pretty simple so that I didn't get discouraged. 

Breakfast choices this week: Plant Powered Families Apple Hemp Muffins, as well as her Blueberry Muffins. The kids LOVE any kind of muffins and these were both a hit. Some other choice items were homemade chia seed pudding, pumpkin oatmeal that I slow cooked overnight, whole grain waffles, whole grain breads topped with organic peanut butter and almond, whole grain cereals topped with almond milk, homemade oat flax waffles(YUMMY!!), and some smoothies. 

Lunch choices this week: Big salads with lots of veggies topped slightly with Green Goddess Dressing, local tomatoes for tomato sandwiches, crackers with humus, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, leftovers from dinners, veggies fajitas with quinoa, beans, salsa, & chili. 

Dinner: Brown rice & quinoa bowls filled with avocado, salsa, black beans, and kidney beans. A vegan spaghetti that ended up tasting better than our "normal" one. We've made cauliflower "fried" rice, chili, rice bowls filled, and I mean filled, with goodness, mini veggie pot pies, and a few dishes I mixed up myself. 

Snacks: Anything from fruit, crackers, veggies, low ingredient popsicles made with real fruit, granola bars, trail mixes, etc. 

So...how do I/we feel? Ready for this? I don't miss meat. Not one bit. I miss the convenience of the faster food(i.e.: Chick-fa-la, McDonalds, etc.), but I don't miss the actually eating part lol. I feel better. 7 days in and I feel BETTER. We did go to a birthday party on Saturday where there were subs for the kids and I let them eat them, but I, myself, had the homemade pasta salad and was content. Balance for the kids. I'm soooooo happy to report that my kids have tried more things this week than they have their entire life. We now have a rule that we try at least two bites of the dinner momma has cooked and if they still don't like it, they may have a fast alternative to eat instead(peanut butter or almond butter on a  whole wheat tortilla, fruit, raw veggies, etc.) The great thing...they are taking more risks with their decisions. They now realize that what we have here is what we have. 

Example: We spent the day on Friday at a local creek. I packed what I thought was plenty of food for all of us. There were things in each of their lunch boxes that even though they didn't necessarily want it, they still ate it. Why? Because they were hungry and it's all we had with us. My 6 year old begged and pleaded to "stop somewhere because he was sooooooooo hungry. Maybe just some chicken nuggets momma?" Now, he still had half his lunch easily accessible on our way home, but didn't want it. We stood our ground and when we arrived home, he chose something here. Not only did it save us money, but it taught him a lesson. You eat what we have served or wait. Now, that may sound harsh, but I have been a ready- made- cook for years!!!!! I have wasted food for years!!!!!!! I am done. This little booger has never, and I mean never touched a salad is all his 6 years. You know what he chose the other day for lunch? A salad. Now, keep in mind it only had lettuce and carrots in it, but I count that as a step forward. He likes to show us his muscles this week and says he's "getting stronger." lol. yes baby, you are. 

I texted my crossfit husband today and said "Still feeling good on the diet?" His response "I am. I would have never thought." My thoughts exactly. 

xoxo Mellisa 

 
Tuesday, July 04, 2017
By Mellisa Pendleton

Yep, you read that right. After our family watched 'What the Health' about a week ago, we decided to give it a try. We want to see how we feel. I already know that for myself, my body doesn't like dairy. Unfortunately that never stopped me. I already knew that eating a whole plant based diet was better for me, but I didn't think my husband would go the no meat route. I made him watch the film. I watched him hanging on the every word of the movie and then I knew it was up for discussion. I've never been a huge fan of meat in general, but I, as well as his family, grew up eating meals that were consumed by the main dish. We didn't know any different. So here we are, a family of meat eaters on a quest to try something different. 

I knew that the beginning of the journey may be a little more expensive to embark on since I am a planner. I like to have every single ingredient I need to make sure I was prepared and not running to the closest fast food joint. I knew I needed to meal plan as most as humanly possible. We took a trip to Costco(yes, I realize it's a drive for us) to load up on bulk vegan choices. Whole grain brown rice, quinoa, oat & spelt flour, canned beans & tomatoes, whole brown pastas, frozen organic fruit and veggies, as well as  some odds and ends. Then I realized I needed to budget a little different so that I could go get fresh fruit and veggies twice and week instead of the once I was used to. I also wanted to get our fresh ingredients as locally as possible as well. It's a very odd feeling meal planning without the main focus being meat. My hope is I'll find it much less expensive. Meat is expensive. Dairy is expensive. *I want to pause here for a moment and say that we did our OWN research. I'm not saying, nor implying, that your family should follow the lead. I'm just sharing what we found ourselves* ;) 

So, here are some answers that I questioned myself and found answers to: 

1) Don't you need protein from meat?

Absolutely NOT. Dark leafy greens, legumes, rice, nuts, seeds, and beans. I found it very interesting to look at it at an animal standpoint. What do the animals we're consuming eat? Besides their mommas milk, they eat a plant based diet. 

2) We have to have dairy for our Vitamin D. 

False. Sunlight(hello get outside!!!!), Fortified Almond Milk, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, tofu(which I'm not too keen on yet), and a great plant based multivitamin. 

3) What about calcium? Dairy has so much calcium. 

First and foremost, our bodies were never made to consume dairy. It's made for baby cows!!!! Collard, kale and mustard greens. These foods are good sources of calcium. The calcium in non-dairy milk alternatives made from soy(I'm not a big advocate of soy), almonds, rice, and hempseeds is also well absorbed.

4) What about if/when you go out to a restaurant. 

You know, I'm on such a strict budget that we don't need to go out for food, but if we do...check out those menus. While we were researching, we found a TON of places that serve vegan meals. I was actually quite surprised by how many. 

Those were my top questions, besides the fact that I didn't even know where to start with our meal planning. I turned to friends I knew didn't consume meat & dairy and good old Pinterest for some recipes. I even talked our best friends into doing it with us so we could have some diversity in our results. We have planned this adventure for 2 weeks. It not only takes that long to form a habit, but it would be enough time to see how our bodies react. 

Research: 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REPORT HAS CLASSIFIED BACON & SAUSAGE AS CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS

MOST KIDS BY THE AGE OF 10 IN THE US HAVE FATTY STREAKS IN THEIR ARTERIES

ONE SERVING OF PROCESSED MEAT PER DAY INCREASED RISK OF DEVELOPING DIABETES BY 51%

WITHIN MINUTES OF EATING DEAD MEAT BACTERIA TOXINS, THE BODY GETS A BURST OF INFLAMMATION, STIFFENING OR PARALYZING THE ARTERIES

EATING 1 EGG PER DAY IS JUST AS BAD AS SMOKING 5 CIGARETTES PER DAY FOR LIFE EXPECTANCY

These are credited studies. These aren't just claims. We looked them up. We saw the numbers. 

We were sick to our stomachs. 

This goes so much deeper than just the health issue. Take a look at who sponsors these big companies. Take a look at the government. I'm not gonna lie, I was pissed. 

So, here we go. 

We start tomorrow. Lets see where it takes us. 

xoxo Mellisa 

 
Thursday, June 29, 2017
By Mellisa Pendleton

I'm hard on myself. VERY hard on myself. This past few weeks while the kids have been out of school for summer break, I've let our budget fall to the way side. There is just so much I wanna do with them. The problem is that when you live on a pretty strict budget...the possibility of debt comes so easy. "ah, I'll just put in on the credit card and pay it off next month." Everything I strive to be against made it's ugly face reappear these past few weeks. If you can't pay cash for things or activities you want to do, you probably can't afford it. #truth. It's so easy for me to get sucked into it for some reason. This constant commercialism approach to life. I mean, we have PLENTY for the love! I think a few things have hindered me this month:

Food. I am in a constant battle with myself over our grocery bill. I have a set amount I can spend and I am finding myself buying MORE, AND MORE, AND MORE FOOD. I don't know about you, but my kids eat constantly. It drives my husband bat s*** crazy. Well, it does. And truth be told, I feel like all I do day in and day out, is feed them. Snack here and snack there. My little two are the worst about it. They are constant grazers. I do find that if I keep them busy then the 'I'm bored therefore I shall eat' mentality definitely is there less, but good gracious, it would be impossible for me to keep them constantly engaged every single minute. So, I've got a couple choices a) say a big fat "no" when they want to eat for the thousandth time that day(and hear the tears commence) or b) have a snack tray of healthy options in the fridge ready to go(my kids find that they don't like the healthy option as much as that 10th bowl of cereal for the day). I have to find a balance. 

Activities has been another budget sucking area. Not only does doing something all the time cost money, but gas in your car as well. Now, I'm not saying I will/should stop doing our planned activities for the summer, but what I am saying is that I can most definitely find a cheaper route to go. I would much rather pack a lunch for the kids, get to go to a new place we have never been before, and save the money I would have used through the drive-in at McDonalds. Plus, it's a heck of a lot healthier. Finding those free activities all around our area is another option. Maybe just an day trip out of our town twice a month instead of once a week? 

A sinking fund: This month has been filled with unexpected expenses. Well, expenses I should have expected but didn't. My dental work that had to be done ran me $1100.00. I had budgeted for the visit, but most definitely not that much. I also don't want to touch our emergency fund so on the credit card it went. Even when I know better. The dogs. People, if taken care of appropriately, dogs are expensive. I figured out what realistic it costs us to care for our 3 beloved fur babies. Here's what I came up with: Food: I buy two large bags of dog food and it usually lasts us 5-6 weeks: ~$54.00. The cheapest route I have found is Amazon prime. There are all on heart worm prevention once a month and a Bravecto pill they take every 3 months to prevent tick and fleas. That means each month they take $28.23 worth of medication a piece=$84.69. The girls got a haircut this month because since now having a fence, they have decided digging in the dirt is super fun for them(insert roll eyes). We usually wash them ourselves so having the haircut made life so much easier=$100. Our goldens had to go get their updated bordetella vaccine so that they could be kenneled for July when we're gone to the beach. That vaccine was $16.50 x 2 =$33.00. While there, Atlas had his nails trimmed(because I can't keep him still enough to do it myself-he FREAKS OUT) and he was due for his updated rabies vaccine, and stool test=$74.17. After we brought all the dogs back home that day, Atlas got a nose bleed that I could NOT get stopped. So off he went back to the vet. Keep in mind, this was an hour after we left there. After the visit, monitoring, and medication, another $156.75. That means that for the month of June our beloved pets cost us $502.61 if I've done my math right. This is where the sinking fund comes in. If I know that it costs us that much(even unexpected visits to the vet), I need to set up a fund for it so that it doesn't cause me to have a heart attack when things like this happen. 

I tell you all this because I want you to know you are not alone. WE all fall. WE all keep trying. Today is a new day. 

xoxo Mellisa 

 
Monday, June 26, 2017
By Mellisa Pendleton

I loathe the dentist. LOATHE. It's not the facility itself, it's the way I'm drenched with sweat when I leave, the sounds, the drilling, the injections. It's me. There has rarely been a time when I left there with them saying 'Mellisa, you're all good. See you in 6 months.' Anyhow, Monday I had to go and get a root canal and be fitted for yet another cap. I was in the chair for 4 hours...FOUR HOURS. Needless to say, my mouth was in some sort of discomfort all last week from it. So, sometimes plans change. Sometimes, dear one, you have to take care of yourself so that you can care for others. So that's what I did. I spent the next few days doing absolutely nothing except trying to numb the discomfort of my throbbing tooth. Tooth pain is right up there with back and ear pain. Monday was a wash out, Tuesday was a wash out, and Wednesday just us girls headed to go to our first college tour for Kailyn. You can read about all there here: Girls Day and a Tear Filled Ride Home

Friday was our Field Trip day and I honestly look forward to it all week long. We(Ryder and I) have chosen places we have never been before. This week we headed to the Carolina Raptor Center. It took about 45 minutes to get there but worth it. The staff is so friendly and the education was amazing. The kids got to see raptors obviously, but owls, eagles, hawks, vultures, and about every other bird you could think of. They got to feel a real wing, talon, and see a full bird's skeleton. We even saw a few tiny unexpected visitors ;)

The kids had a blast and learned something on the way. WIN! 

We bought some owl pellets to bring home and if you don't know what that is...in short, it's owl vomit lol. I didn't know the kids would enjoy it as much as they did, but they are already talking about what to dissect next lol. Even though we didn't get to everything on our list for this week...we still had an amazing time. 

xoxo Mellisa 

 
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