Vegan Dining: Sam Diego’s

 

So I’ve reached that awkward point in adulthood where my childhood nightmares become my happiest dreams.  My husband and I are buying a house in the town where I grew up and I could not possibly be more excited.  It’s close to our families, our jobs (I was commuting about two hours last year back and forth to work), and it’s located on the beautiful (well at least I think it is) south shore of Massachusetts.  Fifteen year old me would find it totally lame to move back to the town I grew up in. So boring!  Adult Sarah is pumped.

Thankfully, this town has diversified and opened up more restaurants and grocery stores than where available when I was a kid.  I think the only restaurants in town when I was growing up was the “fancy” Italian place that served too much garlic (but can you really ever have too much garlic?) and Unos.

We plan on venturing out once in awhile, but as many of you know, buying a house means a change in the way you spend money.  Frankly, I’m looking forward to cooking more.  When we’re not eating Subway, my family and I have been living off of four plates and a pan the last month in anticipation for this move.  I’m excited to be reunited with my Fiestaware and real wine glasses.  I’m also transitioning into an awesome kitchen with more than three feet of counter space.  Woot woot!

We’ve spent quite a bit of time on the south shore this year, mostly for baby’s doctors appointments, visiting family and stalking our new house, and we’ve been lucky enough to have a few dates nights here in there.  My husband and I are blessed with wonderful parents that love our kids and actually WANT to spend time with them.  Last week we dropped baby boy off with my parents and ventured out to the Plymouth waterfront.

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There are few things in life more enjoyable than a margarita the size of your head.

Though not the most original dining conquest we went to Sam Diego’s in Plymouth and were not disappointed.

I guess it’s hard to be disappointed when you order $40 dollars worth of (mammoth) margaritas (we got good tequila okay?), but no seriously, we were not disappointed.  While they have a vegetarian section on their menu they actually have a separate special menu with vegan options.  You just need to ask for it.   We ordered the black bean burritos and quesadilla to split.

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“Special” menu. Gluten-free options were on the back as well.

The wonderful thing about Mexican food is that meat can very easily be replaced (via beans).  At home when I make a Mexican based meal I usually will incorporate vegan cheese and sour cream.  This meal had no vegan substitutes but we were not missing out at all.  The quesadilla was my favorite, and had caramelized onions in it which gave a nice meatiness to it.  Everything was really delicious, and I don’t think that’s much the margaritas talking.

The hubby and I have find Mexican restaurants pretty easy places to remain vegan when dining out.  Worst case scenario, you order something with beans and hold the  cheese and sour cream.

Speaking of bean dishes, once we’re all moved and settled (and most importantly have internet) I need to share my chili recipe.  I can’t believe I haven’t shared it yet!

I hope you’re all enjoying the last days of summer!

 

 

He’s Here!

So let’s see, I have an almost eight week old which means I’ve been wanting to write a post for about oh let’s say eight weeks!

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Subway subs at 10 pm…sure why not?

As well as I tried to prepare for motherhood, I don’t think I could have ever have grasped the complete fog that encompasses your life when you bring a new baby home.  Days of the week and times of day are completely irrelevant.  We no longer have breakfast, lunch and dinner just (easy) meals at various times of day.

Breastfeeding is hard, like really hard.

Nothing will shoot down your confidence more than being the food source for another human and being told they’re not gaining enough weight.  I think I cried after the baby’s first four doctor’s appointments/weight checks.  The conclusion was he’s a lazy baby and likes to fall asleep when he’s eating. I figured he must be full if he’s asleep.  I’ve learned a few tricks to keep him awake and perk him up but it’s still not easy.  Between the physical demands on your body, pumping, figuring out outfits you can nurse in etc. is a job.  I give props to moms that do this for any amount of time.

80% of what I read in baby books has gone out the window.

Being on bed rest a month before the baby was born allowed me plenty of time to read up on motherhood.  I made a list of all the do’s and don’t’s I felt were important for my baby.  Well let’s just say most of that has been a wash already, and it’s all ok.  Every book I read said to avoid bottles for the first six weeks of life if you plan on nursing.  If a baby has a bottle he will apparently never want to nurse again.  Well my boy had a bottle in the hospital (and believe it or not I cried) and he’s absolutely fine nursing.  It also allows me some freedom to have my husband feed the baby as well as have a date night (well a few hours out more like it).  I was also dead set against giving our baby a pacifier.  Again, he’ll never nurse if he has a pacifier.  Our first night back from the hospital was a nightmare, and I felt that if we used a pacifier it might have alleviated some of our problems.  I of course had to ask our pediatrician and she gave us the green light to use one.  Again he’s fine and he’s been a wonderful sleeper!

I needed more help than I anticipated.  

Don’t get me started about paternity leave.  Dads need way more than five days home with the baby.  Three days of my husband’s paternity leave were spent at the hospital, so I only had two days home with him before he went back to work.  I’m so thankful my mom was able to come and help me.  I had to have a C section so I not only was recovering from major surgery but was also taking care of a tiny human as well.  Without help it would have been impossible for me to take the baby to his appointments or even shower and eat.

Terror out weighed joy at first.  

The baby blues are very real, and I’m finally starting to feel more like myself.  I never could have anticipated the amount of love I experience when I first saw my son.  However, at first that love I felt manifested itself into pure anxiety after we left the hospital.  I questioned my abilities to be a good mom and worried about anything and everything that could possibility happen to him.  Add hormones on top of that and I was terrified.  I would literally cry when the sun started to go down because night time seemed so scary.   I felt so guilty that I was experiencing this joyful life event with a beautiful healthy baby but yet I felt the way I did.

Getting out of the house is complicated but worth it.  

Between bed rest and recovering after delivery I felt pretty isolated.  About a week after the baby was born my husband dropped me off at Trader Joe’s and I had never imaged I could feel so happy picking out lettuce.  We’ve pushed ourselves to do things with the baby whether it’s a walk outside or a trip to see friends.  Knowing I can take him out and he can go places has helped me so much mentally.  Of course he comes with a lot of accessories but still worth it!

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Sophie feeling a little isolated like her mom.

Even the most insignificant tasks are complicated.

I feel pretty impressed by the fact my toe nails are painted.  I don’t remember when I painted them but they’re done!  With a baby the simplest things are really accomplishments!  Taking a shower, making a meal, blowdrying my hair… I make a to do lists for myself every days and I’m lucky if I get to half of what I want/need to do even if my list is just to pay a bill, go for a walk with Sophie and do some laundry.  Having a newborn has tested my time management skills for sure.

Trader Joe is new BFF.

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten my roots as a vegan blogger, we are just in survival mode over here.  Between the nausea of pregnancy and having a baby I haven’t put in too much time in the kitchen but I’m getting back into it.  Stay tuned…

 

First Parenting Lesson

It’s been a crazy last few weeks here.

If you know me you know I’m a planner.  I’m attached to my calendar, I make to do lists, I love knowing what to expect and what to prepare for.

However, sometimes life throws you a curveball.  I like to think my unborn child is already teaching me a valuable lesson.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful pregnancy.  Besides the 18 weeks of morning sickness, I’ve felt pretty great.  My back doesn’t hurt, I sleep well, I haven’t gained that much weight while eating anything and everything I want, I could go on and on.  Health-wise every test has been perfect.  I planned on working up until June 9th which was the Friday before Soy Bean’s due date.  I was going to have everything set for the kids, all my meetings and IEP’s done, and I was going to use my remaining sick time for maternity leave.  Everything was planned out perfectly.

At 33 weeks I had a routine ultrasound.  Everything looked good except the baby’s amniotic fluid was a little low, it was within the normal range but on the lower end.  I was told to drink more fluids and come back for another ultrasound in about a week.  I wasn’t too concerned, drank my water and planned on everything being fine like it had always been at every other appointment.

At 35 weeks I went back for another ultrasound.  I might be the only mom that’s sick of ultrasounds by the way.  Soy Bean is frank breech (taking after his Mom), meaning he is head up and his feet are in front of his head.  It looks super uncomfortable and I haven’t seen a good shot of his adorable little face in so long because his feet are in the way.

I had my ultrasound and went in to see the doctor after.  He asked me if I was still working, and as soon as I replied yes he told me I was done and that I needed to be on bed rest.  Once he said “bed rest”, I don’t remember much after that.  I felt great (huge but great), everything had been going so well, how could I possibly have to go on bed rest?

Thankfully, my mother-in-law came to the appointment with me and he sat down with the both of us.  He reassured me that the baby was not in distress, but he needed to be closely monitored, I needed to go into the hospital several times a week for non-stress tests and have weekly ultrasounds to measure the baby’s amniotic fluid.

He scheduled me to have a level two ultrasound the following day to take a closer look at the fluid levels, depending on how that went we could be having the baby the day after.  That was of course when I really felt a sense of how serious everything was.  I could have never imagined having a baby at 35 weeks.  I have had friends who delivered healthy babies earlier than that and took them home from the hospital days later, but still hearing statistics about lung development and survival scared me.

We have been so lucky ever since.  While Soy Bean’s amniotic fluid levels are still low, he has been doing great.  The nurses always comment on how active he is during the non stress tests and he’s been perfectly on point with his growth.  His bladder and kidneys look good, which was a concern with the low fluid.

It’s been hard for me being out of the game early, but I’ve been so fortunate with everyone being so supportive and helpful at my job.  My husband has been an amazing help with cleaning, packing for our move, setting up everything we need for the baby, and cooking for his very hungry wife.  Our friends and families have supported us with visits, drives to appointments, meals, text messages, phone calls, groceries, and so much more.  I am forever grateful.

When everything happened my doctor said he hoped to get us to 36 weeks and I am 38 weeks today!  As long as everything continues to go well this week it looks like we will be welcoming Soy Bean either 6/5 or 6/7.  He’s certainly taught me so much these last few weeks and I’m sure he will have LOTS to teach me very soon. ❤

 

 

Vegan Dining: Julian’s

Well I’m certainly behind.  I’m enjoying the last half of my April vacation and reflecting on dining experiences I had during February vacation.  Funny though, the weather was a bit nicer in February.

As I’ve mentioned before, we live very close to Providence.  I love (parts of) Providence.  I appreciate the history, the countless veggie friendly restaurants, and the easy parking (because I’m old).

Our friends had spoken highly of Julian’s, which is right down the street from one of our other favorite spots, The Grange.  We heard high praises for their brunch and drink menu.  Well, we didn’t’ make it to brunch and obviously I’m not taking too much advantage of the bar these days but we were certainly not disappointed.

We decided to grab an early dinner at Julian’s on a Friday night.  Julian’s is not a vegan/vegetarian restaurant but they have tons of veggie friendly options.

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Vegan Tasting Board Yumminess

We started with the vegan tasting board which came with sumac cheese, eggplant -quinoa pate, root vegetable chips, squash jam, pickled veggies and naan.  It was so flavorful and unique!  I love apps that give you a little taste of everything.  The best part was it was only $12  For our entrees Dylan order the vegan “steak and cheese” wrap and I opted for salad adding grilled tofu (which was out of this world).  Dylan’s wrap was also delicious (of course he had to let me have a bite or two).

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The bar menu was expansive and had a great beer selection.  They even had a mock tail section which made this pregnant lady happy!

The hubby and I are in baby and house buying mode right now, so we are trying to save our money as much as possible, but we are going to have to check this place out for brunch sometime.

 

Checking In…

I can’t believe I survived March (without wine I might add).  In Teacher World March is one of the longest months of the year.  No vacations, no days off (though we did manage to sneak in a snow day), grades closing, and for some reason tons of meeting for us special ed teachers.

I also can’t believe I’m finally in my third trimester.  I’ll be 30 weeks tomorrow and I can hardly believe it.  10 or so more weeks until I get to meet Soy Bean.  It’s so exciting/terrifying!

Knock on wood, I’ve been pretty lucky with this pregnancy.  I’ve been feeling great besides occasionally getting dizzy, at tiny bit of heartburn and sometimes having trouble getting up from the couch (it’s not a pretty sight).  I haven’t had any random strangers try to touch my stomach and no one has preached to me about drinking caffeine.  I’ve been lucky enough to have my mom take me clothes shopping and have found some nice deals myself.  My sister-in-law advised me when I was first pregnant that I should make an investment in some good maternity clothes.  I have to say I totally agree. When you enjoy what you’re wearing it can make your day, especially when your body is changing daily.

Now back to food.  I was scrolling though the pictures of my phone I realize my husband and I have hit up some great vegan places since the last time I posted so I guess I have plenty to write about.  Date nights will be few and far between once this baby comes so we are taking advantage now 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I get a lot of requests from family and friends to make these cookies.  Today (Friday, I’m running behind!) my husband suggested that we make them.  I think there’s no better time to indulge than a snowy weekend so why not?

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We’re enjoying a very unexpected long weekend here.  The hubby and I had our first snow days of the year on Thursday and Friday.  Woohoo!  Perks of having a June baby, I probably won’t be making up these days!

Pregnancy + snow day = lots of baking.

I currently have a cake in the oven because the baby is craving cake and I don’t want to deprive my son, but let’s talk cookies.  These chocolate chip cookies are vegany deliciousness.  Simple, easy, and a crowd pleaser.  Best of all y0u probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup melted vegan butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 flax eggs (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bag vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 1/4 cup of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water

Ok maybe you don’t have vegan chocolate chips in your pantry right now, but they’re not too hard to find.  You can usually pick some up in the earthy crunch section of your local grocery store.

In a separate bowl, stir together your flax seed and water.  Set aside.  While your flax eggs are setting whisk your salt, baking soda, and flour together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together your sugars, melted butter, vanilla extract and flax eggs. Slowly pour in your wet ingredients into your dry mixture and stir together. Add in the half a cup of water.  Fold in your chocolate chips.

Have your oven preheated to 375 degrees. I scooped out my cookie dough with and ice cream soup and spread my cookies about two inches apart on my cookie sheet. I covered my pan with aluminum foil because I have a cheap cookie sheet and I was afraid they would stick. I cooked my cookies for about 25 minutes.

One of the best parts about making vegan cookies…the cookie dough is totally up for grabs since there no raw egg!  Happy baking.