Vegetarian Meal Plan

I am sipping my hot tea with honey and lemon as I write this post.  The winter cold has shown up to a party he was not invited to.  And this time I can’t even blame my kids–everyone else in the house is healthy (crossing fingers it stays like that).

It just goes to show that eating healthy and exercising is not enough to keep a cold away.  I am not big on taking supplements, but I have to admit that my husband has not been sick at all this winter season and he is an avid Probiotic taker.  So, I am joining him, starting this week, on the Probiotic train.  I have been buying them on Amazon (what don’t I buy there) and it’s super convenient.  There are a ton out there, but this is what I have been buying.  A local vegan heart doctor, Dr. Joel Kahn, recommended the Garden of Life brand, so that is what I have been buying.  Let’s hope this is the last cold for a long time.

This is what I have planned on the menu this week:vega-meal-plan-feb-7

Quinoa Gado-Gado Bowl (30 Minutes) from Minimalist Baker

Speedy & Spicy Chili Bean Burritos from The Veg Space

Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

Avocado Bean Burger

Weekend Prep

Vegan chocolate zucchini muffins

Free Family Packing List for a Short Beach Getaway

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get a thing done without some type of list.  We are heading out in 2 weeks to sunny Clearwater Beach, Florida (from gray Michigan) and I started my travel packing list.  Usually, I start a couple weeks in advance so I can jot things down as I randomly remember them.

This time, I thought I would throw it into Word and type it up so I could share.

Here ya go, feel free to print and jot down any extras you’ll need on your short beach getaway!

Download the Family Packing List For a Short Beach Getaway



3 Books that have you traveling the world without leaving your couch

Warning!  You may end up quitting your day job, selling all of your possessions and traveling the world after you read these books.

ONE YEAR OFF: Leaving It All Behind for A Round-the-World Journey with Our Children

David and his wife were avid travelers before they settled down with careers, mortgages, and children.   Their wanderlust had gotten the best of them and decided it was time to sell their possessions and take a trip around the world with their family.

Tuck in and get lost with them in their adventures.  You’ll enjoy navigating a houseboat thru the canals of Burgundy, camping during a Lion safari, and keeping their curious toddler safe during a trip to hike an active volcano.

I love this quote from David, “When your routines are disrupted – especially this radically – you become very conscious of your actions, your surroundings, and your relationships.  Everything seems new and unsettled.  But again, that’s one of the goals of our trip — to disrupt our usual patterns so thoroughly that we’ll be receptive to new options and possibilities.”

Get ONE YEAR OFF: Leaving It All Behind for A Round-the-World Journey with Our Children


360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World

After a decade of planning, John, his wife September, and two children, ages eight and eleven traveled around the world for a year.  Their family visited 35 countries and you get to experience the ups and downs of life on the road.

Why John and his family set out for this adventure, “to take you to distant lands and meet the people who live over there to show that, at the end of the day, humankind in all its wonderful weirdness is the same all over the plant.”

The end of the book provides resources for you to begin your around-the-world travel adventure and the breakdown of the $121,000 trip cost.There is also an online companion piece with many more photos and a Google Earth component.

Get 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World

Family Travel: The Farther You Go, the Closer You Get (Travelers’ Tales Guides)

This book is a compilation of 45 different traveler’s stories.  Some to far away countries, others are weekend getaways in the traveler’s own backyard.    I love that each story has something different to offer the reader.  One story, Lessons From The Nile, a mother demonstrates her courage to let her children explore a country without a parent’s tainted eyes.  The story of traveling with your mother as adults and embracing the quirky differences among mother and son.  Or the advice that comedian Paul Reiser gives to a young couple questioning him on parenthood.  These stories remind us that not all travel has to be of epic proportions and even small vacations can teach us about life and love.

The editor Lura Manske writes, exploring with family in tow may be more time-consuming, but it is also time-enhancing.  Traveling together as my family does is about connecting on different age levels with people, with ideas, with landscapes.

Get Family Travel: The Farther You Go, the Closer You Get (Travelers’ Tales Guides)

Each one of these books has a very different story to tell, but they all have the same theme.  They embrace the difficult and the unconventional to experience the precious gift of togetherness. Do you have a trip planned with your family this year?

There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family, and not as many separate ones.  – Anwar al-Sadat

50 Ways Kids Can Volunteer – Toddler to Teen


As you may have read, our family is doing 12 months of giving back.  In an effort to teach my kids gratitude and caring for others, we are picking an activity each month that focuses solely on giving to others.

We are in our 4th month and now that the holidays are over, I have compiled a list of activities to choose from.  This month we will be donating to Mittens For Detroit.  Winters here in the Motor City are tough and my kids want to make sure other kids have a pair of gloves just like them.

In the meantime, I hope this list helps your family give to others.  Some items listed are quick and easy for your child to do and others may take a longer time commitment.

Acts of Kindness- Toddler Volunteer Ideas

When looking for places to volunteer, I ran into some obstacles with the age of my son.  He is only 5 and many places wanted children 8 and over.  Here are some things to do no matter their age.

  • Bake for neighbor
  • Draw pictures for your neighbors
  • Notes for the elderly
  • Chores for neighbors
  • Donate a toy
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Donate extra vegetables you grow to a food pantry
  • Pick up litter in your neighborhood
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line
  • Ask for donations to your favorite charity instead of birthday presents
  • Send a postcard to a friend or family member that lives outside your state
  • Bring flowers to your teacher or daycare provider
  • Weed a neighbor’s garden
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Wave at a stranger
  • Set the table
  • Sing a song to an elderly person
  • Say something nice about your friend
  • Plant a tree
  • Pay for someone’s toll or food in the drive-thru line
  • Let a friend borrow your toy
  • See a person or group of people trying to take a selfie, offer to take the picture for them

Some organizations you may want to check out

Earn a President’s Volunteer Service Award for your volunteer work. People of all ages can sign up, track their hours, and search for volunteer opportunities through United We Serve.

Additional book resources

The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference

How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids

Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities

Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness (Random Acts of Kindness Series)

Vegan Recipes for Meal Planning


Vegan and Vegetarian Link Round Up for Meal Planning

Hello 2017!  Can you believe another year is upon us?  I took a much-needed break over the holidays and love the start of a new year.  Everything seems fresh and possible.  Even if you don’t make resolutions (which I don’t) it does make me step back and evaluate what in my life was working well in 2016 and what do I need to say Auf Weidesehen to.

Just to share a few things that I did that was positive and WILL continue in 2017:

  • Exercise:  I really stepped this up, and by that, I just mean I did it every day.  Not some laborious hours-long event, but I committed to just 30 minutes a day and boy has it made a difference in both my state of mind and my body.  How do I get an effective workout in just 30 minutes you ask?  My cousin, a Team Beachbody Coach, totally got me hooked.  (I did the workout, 22 Minute Hard Corp)  I’ve always done some form of exercise; running, the gym, swimming, home workouts, but with my schedule today, this is by far the best fit for me.
  • Eating a Whole Foods Diet:  My friend went Vegan and at first I couldn’t imagine not eating cheese.  I was never a really big meat eater, but cheese, come on!  Then I watched Forks Over Knives.  It is a great movie that goes into the Science and Research behind eating a whole foods diet.  What does this mean Basil? (Yes, I still use Austin Powers references) I go into more detail here, but basically, I eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Do I follow this 100%?  No, but pretty close.  I do it because it makes me feel great.

What didn’t work?

  • Taking on too many projects at one time:  My goal for 2017 is to only do things that make me happy and if I can’t get to everything then that’s ok!  This is a really hard one for me and will take work, but it’s happening.

But enough about my new year traditions.  Here’s what we are eating next week.

Lentil Wraps by

Grilled Zucchini Hummus Wrap by Maebells

Vegan Minestrone Soup by Vegan Richa

Cilantro-Lime Vegan Tacos by Spinach 4 Breakfast

Weekend Prep:

Muffins for the week



What is a whole-foods, plant-based diet?

My meal planner posts are all vegan and vegetarian meals that have been gathered from some of my favorite whole-foods, plant-based websites.  I have been eating this plan for less than a year and I get a lot of questions from family and friends.  Here are the basics of the plan, as mostly told by the creators of Forks Over Knives.

What is a whole-foods, plant-based diet?

According to Dr. Matthew Lederman and Dr. Alona Pulde, a whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.

What do you really eat?

These are truly items that I eat every day.  The great part about this eating plan, you can eat until you are stuffed.  Why?  Because it is all great food.

  • Fruit: mangoes, bananas, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries, etc.
  • Vegetables: lettuce, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots, etc.
  • Tubers and starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, yucca, winter squash, corn, green peas, etc.
  • Whole grains: millet, quinoa, barley, rice, whole wheat, oats, etc.
  • Legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, cannellini beans, black beans, etc.

I was always a girl who preferred the side dishes over the main meat dish.  Now, I make all my meals with a meatless main and enjoy dishes such as stir fry, soups, beans and rice, smoothies, muffins, nuts, and everything else you can imagine.

Do you get enough protein?

Yes.  We forget that whole grains have tons of protein in them, so do legumes, nuts and yes, even vegetables all have protein.

What about calcium?

This was actually the most eye-opening part of the documentary.  Did you know that the US consumes the most dairy, yet we have the highest rate of osteoporosis?  How is that possible if we get all this great calcium from dairy?  It’s because we don’t get great calcium from dairy. We only absorb a third of calcium in milk or calcium supplements. There are many factors that affect the calcium absorption in our body, so you should really read this article for all the facts, but eating a whole foods diet will give you the calcium you need.  For example, one cup of bok choy, 1½ cups of kale, or 2 cups of broccoli contain the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk, due to their much better calcium absorption rate (in the 50–60% range! )

Are you a crazy environmentalist?

I wouldn’t say crazy, but I would say it is very important to me.  Here are just a few advantages of eating a plant diet:

  1. Cutting your carbon footprint
  2. Conserves water
  3. Saving animals
  4. Cleaner Air

Do you really follow this all the time?

To be honest, no, I don’t follow it all the time and I don’t follow it word-for-word.  For example, I still use olive oil for cooking and salad dressings.  I do occasionally eat dairy, especially on pizza and lasagna 🙂  And I occasionally eat meat.  But, I can tell you that I don’t eat anything close to the American Standard Diet and I am conscious about what I put in my body and give to my family.

I hope this helps give you a better idea of the way I eat.  Below are some resources of doctors and chefs that feel the same.  Research it, give it a try.

More information for you to review:

Dr. Neal Barnard

Forks Over Knives 

One Green Planet

Dr. Joel Kahn

Oh She Glows

Delish Knowledge

Cookie and Kate

Mark Bittman, Vegan Before 6 (in case you want to do it 1/2 of the time)


Kids Giving Back Month 3 – Christmas Giving Tree and Food Drive

December is traditionally the season to give to others and there are many charities that need our help.  But as my friend Lea said so nicely, “this month I am going to choose people I know and are in my own backyard.”   She is giving to an old friend from high school that has fallen on hard times and we are focusing our giving this month to children from my daughter’s school.  Each year her school does a gift giving tree that lists items that families in the school district need for the holiday season.  In addition, they run an annual food drive for local families.

We selected an ornament from the tree and are excited to be buying a 15-year-old the present he wished for, a set of legos.


Each day of the 7-day food drive, my kids also bring a can of food to school.  It feels good to know that we are helping families in our own backyard.

Any charities that you give to every December?

20 Must Have Items for a Road Trip with Kids


The Holidays are here and that means it’s time for road trips and vacations.  We have racked up some serious family road trip miles over the last 6 years with some of our epic road trips (think Michigan to California) and these are items we always have in our car.

Road Trip Entertainment

Magnetic Dry Erase Board and Markers

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Chalkboard and Dry-Erase Board With 36 Magnets, Chalk, Eraser, and Dry-Erase Pen

Magnetic Dry Erase Boards and markers make it easy for the kids to draw, play games like tic-tac-toe and hangman, and use their magnetic letters to spell words.

Travel Journals

This is our most popular item on olly and hue and that’s because it’s great for kids to keep track of what they did on their trip.  It has daily pages for journalling and an envelope for all their treasures they acquire on their trip.

Magnetic Tangram Sets

My kids love making shapes, pictures, and figurines out of shapes.  Our tangram set comes with 8 puzzles and solutions and you can find more online once your kids have mastered the first eight.


You can never go wrong with Legos.  I made up some lego puzzle cards so the kids can copy the pictures, but usually, they just end up building some cool things on their own.

Dolls and Cars

There’s nothing better than hearing the kids imagine a scene in the backseat with their dolls and cars.  It provides entertainment for everyone in the car.

Crayons and Paper

Crayons and paper are great for restaurant stops.  We have so many drawings of the spots we have stopped for dinner it’s a great keepsake.


No list would be complete without some form of electronic.  My kids both have Kindles (ages 5 and 8) and they are great for games, books, and movies.  My kids currently have the 8 GB hard drive Kindle and I find we are often deleting old items to make room for new.  I would recommend the 16 GB, 8″ table from amazon – All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet, 8″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

Road Trip Food

We don’t go on any road trip without a cooler and a food bag in the car.  This is essential for the keeping kids happy and has been known to hold a few beverages to keep the parents happy when we settled at the hotel.

Here’s what we bring:

  • Fruit:  Apples and bananas travel best.
  • Granola Bars:  Kind and Larabar are our favorites
  • Applesauce pouches from GoGo Squeeze
  • Yogurt Pouches
  • String Cheese
  • Nut / Trail Mix
  • Chocolate Milk Boxes
  • Baked Lays Chip Bags
  • On our epic road trip we also brought bread and sandwich fixins

Road Trip Miscellaneous

  • Kids Blanket
  • Kids Pillow
  • Kids favorite stuffed animal
  • Small first aid kit
  • Ziplock Bags
  • Headphones to go with electronic device (I really can’t stand another Kate and Mim Mim episode)

As the trip goes on, we typically acquire small trinkets and souvenirs along our way, but this is where we always start.  Is there something you can’t live without on your road trip with the kids?

Vegetarian Meals – Pasta, Lentil Shepherd's Pie, Cauliflower Curry and Red Lentil Soup


The snowflakes are beginning to fall in Michigan and we are expecting 4-7 inches of snow over the next 24 hours.  I’m supposed to be running the 5K Jingle Bell Run tomorrow, so if the snow can hold off a bit, that would be appreciated.  But for now, I’ll stick to planning what we’ll be eating over the next week.

Weekly Vegetarian Meals

Red Lentil Soup, from Delish Knowledge

Fresh Arugula, Artichoke and Tomato Rotini, by the Jazzy Vegetarian

Cauliflower Curry Recipe, by Indian Healthy Recipes

Vegan Shepherds Lentil Pie, by Delish Knowledge

Weekend Prep

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies by Minimalist Baker

I know what you are thinking, black bean brownies, but they are really good and you can’t taste any bean flavor.  These even pass my picky eater test.

Healthy No Bake Cookies by Well Plated


Vegetarian Meals – Spaghetti Squash, Chili, Soup and Pasta


The flu bug (what was the point of getting a flu shot??) hit my little guy pretty hard this week and then he followed it up with pink eye.  So nonetheless, it has been a week of caregiving.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that no one else in the house gets it.  I think I might have gone through an entire container of disinfectant wipes.

I finally got to my meal planning today and here’s what’s on the list:

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl from Cookie and Kate

Vegetarian Cashew Chili from Cooking Light Magazine

White Wine Pasta with Brussels Sprouts from Minimalist Baker

Vegan Lentil Soup from Cookie and Kate

There are 7 days in a week, what gives?  True, but life gets in the way.  We have PB&J for dinner, leftovers or say screw it and go out.

Sunday Prep:

  • Granola Bars for the week
    • Here’s a nut free bar, although my husband is not a huge Tahini fan, so I’ll probably use Peanut Butter instead of Tahini, but these would be great for the kiddos to take to school