20 March 2017

Meat Free Monday: Flexatarian Cooking repost from 2015

Reposting this one:

As most of you know, I have been a Flexatarian for a long time.  I finally talked my husband into reducing the amount of meat we eat to once or twice a week.  We still will eat fish, eggs, and cheese.  Over the past 6 months I have been trying out a lot of new meat replacements and even some cheese replacements and am quite happy with the things I have made.

Here are a few of my favorites:

This Chicken Stylee Seitan recipe from Post Punk Kitchen (This is where I found the Seitan O' Greatness that I use to make sausages.).  I love this blog, she has so many recipes.

These are some of the things I made with it.
Chicken Stylee Cutlets
Chix nuggets

 These were easy, just cut the cutlets to bite size, bread with dry tempura mix, and pan fry until golden.
Plain Chix wings on bottom, Buffalo style in dish.

Again, just cut the cutlets into the shape of wings.  These I dredged in corn starch mixed with: garlic powder, onion powder, and a little salt,;then in egg,; then in panko.  I deep fried them in my deep fryer.  For the Buffalo, just mix melted butter and Franks and drench the wings.  So yummy!

I have also been making fermented nut cheeses which I totally love.  These were made with blanched soaked almonds and I used red miso as the probiotic agent, which you need for the fermentation process. It made a semi-soft, spreadable cheese. 
 I am going to try cashews this week.  
This one has green onions in it and a walnut crust.

This one is flavored with garlic and crusted with thyme.

This is the thyme crusted served with lemon zest.

I stumbled on Neat meat replacements a couple of weeks ago. I went grocery shopping yesterday and they had them on sale at Meijer 2/$6 and they are normally $4.99 each so I stocked up!  There are about 4 servings per package,  so compared to meat, even at full price, it will save you money.  They are really good, GMO and gluten free, and have no chemicals, preservatives, or artificial colors.  So much better for you then frozen veggie burgers.  Very simple to make, just add 2 eggs or egg replacement and little bit of water.  

 I haven't made burgers with them yet but I plan to soon.  

 I tried the original first and made Chicken Soup For the Soul Sloppy Joes with them.  I love the CSFTS because there is no HFCS in the sauce.  They turned out great and the family loved them.  
.So then I tried the Italian Neat ball mix and made penne.  So yummy. 

This morning I made these egg cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
6 eggs
1 package of Neat breakfast + 2 more eggs 2 tbsp of water
mix ins I used mushrooms and green onions other ideas would be spinach, bell peppers, cheese, etc.
I made these three ways.
Start by mixing Neat with 2 eggs and 2 tbsp of water. Grease a muffin pan (I used coconut oil) Then divided neat into 6 of the muffin cups and press it up the sides
ways to use eggs
1. just crack an egg in each cup
2. add mix-ins into cup and then crack egg on top
3. beat eggs and add mix ins and then pour into cups.
bake from 15-20 min depending on how firm you like your eggs.
Garnish with fresh cut chives or tarragon

Neat also has a Mexican mix, which they didn't have at Meijer.  I will have to try, but I did find this other one from Fantastic Foods which is also pretty good.  

Finding these options makes it so much easier to cut down on the amount of meat we are consuming and reducing our carbon footprint.   What are your favorite meat replacements? 
 Happy Meat Free Monday!

PS  I have not been paid for this review.  

16 March 2017

In Time By CD Brennan

I have read two of CD Brennan's other books and loved them.  I started reading this one last night, and am excited to promote it!  Support local artists!  Get it now while it is 99 cents.


Hot. Intense. Relentless.

Rory Cameron is all about rugby. He’s been playing since he
was a wee bairn in Edinburgh. By now, he should be a powerhouse with his
single-minded dedication to the Traverse City Blues Rugby Club. But something
is missing. With his dad breathing down his neck to make a big club, the last
thing he needs is a sassy country girl distracting him.

Grace making the men’s team? Improbable. Rory coaching a
women’s rugby team? Unbelievable. Falling for the girl? Absolutely.

Grace Bowman moves to Michigan to forge a new life without
her family’s constant mothering. She refuses to let her diabetes keep her from
the life she craves. Time to live big and take chances—carpe diem and all that.
Still, the last thing she expects is for things to heat up with the coach of
the women’s rugby team. If her new lifestyle doesn’t kill her, rugby just
might. But Grace is willing to take the chance for a winning try with Rory.


Most people assumed if you were quiet, you were passive, if
you were an introvert, you were dispassionate.

That was the farthest from the truth.

Ruaridh, or Rory as everyone called him, was a very
passionate man. It just didn’t show on the outside. Or rarely. Even when Rory
was in pain, like he was now. He had mucked up the game for the Blues again,
and he couldn’t stop thinking about it. They had lost Saturday’s match on a
play Coach called the Americana. Not sure if the name was based on the coffee
or the culture… Actually, the coffee was an Americano, so no.  And did it even matter? 

He stretched his neck from side to side, pops and creaks as
he did. For the hundredth time, he thought perhaps he wasn’t made for rugby.
Maybe it wasn’t in his blood like his father claimed. Maybe there had been a
leap in generations, the ball gene bouncing haughtily over the top of his head.
All the weight training, conditioning, the protein smoothies, rugby videos for
strategy—eating and breathing rugby—and still no results. At least not what was
expected of him. 



“Bro, grab that other side of the table and help me move it
to the far wall.”

“Oh, sure, Del.”

They shuffled and maneuvered the table down the long aisle
banked with treadmills and rowers nearest the window, stationary bikes and
ellipticals on the other side. It was a Monday at Crunch Fitness Gym, one of
the busiest nights of the week, almost every machine taken, and the reason they
were here to do a bit of recruitment for the Blues. The bigger the pool of men to
play, the better chance of winning the games.

“Right along here, Rory, boy.”

Del placed his side of the table first along the back wall
of the core strength area littered with colorful exercise balls. Rory then
followed with his own side of the table. “Where’s Irish?”

“He probably waited for Gillian to get home from work for a
bit of humpty-dumpty, but he’ll be here. Come on, cuz, let’s grab the chairs.”

Rory followed Del back the way they had come. Padraig, who
the team had nicknamed Irish, had been new to the Blues last year but already
had landed a woman and a spot on the USA Eagles national team. “I kind of miss
him at the house.”

Del gave him a look over his shoulder as though he was
completely daft. “We’re talking about the same Irish, right? Moody fucker as
fun as a torn ligament?”

“He’s gotten better. You have to admit.”

Del handed Rory three folding chairs and then collected the
box with their flyers and sign-up sheets. He grabbed their banner that was
still set along the brick wall at the entrance to the gym. “Mate, that’s true.
When he first came, never thought I’d see the day.”

“Who’s that?”

Both turned to see Irish standing just inside the door with
a gear bag over his shoulder.

“Ah, speak of the devil. Help Rory with one of those chairs,
mate, and give us a hand setting up.”

Irish dropped his bag where he stood and offered a hand to
Rory, who refused. “Nah, you’re good. Need the extra training. I got this.”

Irish shook his head. “Do you ever stop, like?”

“Not until I get there.” Rory shimmied past both the lads,
ignoring the look that Irish had thrown Del. He’d get there. Any day now and
things would click, all come together. His rugby stars would align, and he’d be
a streak of lightning on the pitch. This Cameron would play for a big European club,
just like his da wanted. He’d be a blur on the field, dodging and spinning, one
try after another—a champion.

Lost in the beautiful daydream, Rory missed helping with the
setup until Del yelled at him to help hang the Blues banner across the front of
the table.

The three of them took a chair behind with Del in the

Behind the row of ellipticals and bikes was a wall of weight
machines that divided the room between the cardiovascular equipment and the
large area for free weights. The gym had become something of a second home to
Rory over the years, and although comfortable in the space, he recently found
it boring. Always the same people, often many trying to show off, the stench of
sweat and body odor now overbearing. Where the noises of a busy gym used to
offer him a type of relief, a recognition of who he was in a way, he now found
them irritating and abrasive.

They had barely sat down when a couple of girls walked by
the table. A blonde with big breasts in a tight gym shirt and leggings slowed
as she passed and smiled. Her eyes flickered over all three before they settled
on Del.

“Good evening, ladies, you want to play rugby?” Del waved a
flyer at them, his smile bright against his darker skin.

Her friend with short, spiky hair and more muscles than Rory
tugged on the blonde’s hand until she moved again.

“Aw c’mon,” Del teased. “We could use some fit ladies like

The blonde smiled over her shoulder and shook her head.

“Del, you’re off to a bad start,” Irish said.

“What do you mean, bro? I think I’m off to a perfect start.”

“Wrong sex,” Rory pointed out.

Del tipped his chair onto the back legs. “Nope. Right sex.”

“Coach said we can recruit women?” Rory asked.

Irish leaned his elbows on the table and made a point to
roll his eyes at Rory. He hated when the bastard did that. Padraig had a
boarding school education, just like Rory, but he didn’t have to show it off
all the time. “He’s not talking about gender, Rory.”

Ah, got it.

“I’m interested,” a female voice interrupted.

Their heads turned in unison to a petite woman who stood
just left of the table. She wore old-style gray tracksuit pants the Americans
called sweatpants, heavy cotton and bunched at the knees, and a pink T-shirt
with black letters that read I don’t wear bows. I shoot ’em. Rory snorted a
laugh. She had her brown hair pulled back with a headband and a water bottle in
her hand, but it was her eyes that he returned to again and again in his assay.
Big and bold, a beautiful dark blue, like the deepest fathoms of the ocean.

“Uhhh…” Del finally broke the awkward moment, but with
nothing that could save their arses. Even with all the swishes of the machines
and the clank of weights dropping, an uncomfortable silence had draped itself
around their table.

She crossed her arms. “I thought I just heard y’all ask that
blond chick if she wanted to play.”

Irish covered his mouth with his hand, most likely hiding
the smirk that Rory knew well, and Del just sat there with his mouth open. Rory
wanted to say something. Anything to help her. Or maybe not so much help, but
break the horrible discomfort that hung in the air. Rory rubbed at his chest to
ease the ache.

Hands up in the air, she asked, “Well? Can I play or not?”

About the Author

Having traveled and lived all over the world, Cd Brennan now
enjoys reliving her glory days by writing about them. Feisty heroines with
wanderlust or sexy rugby heroes who breathe passion for more than just the

Aussie/Yankee twined, Cd is now settled in Michigan with a
rugby player of her own and two wee sons who are still adapting to the snow. A
full-time editor and mum, she and her hubby still dream of starting a hobby
farm—a few cows or buffalo, maybe some chickens and pigs, too. She loves rugby,
traveling, anything outdoors, and all things from the 80s.

But she especially loves to hear from readers! Find her at
your favorite places.

14 March 2017

Poetry, coping with loss of my brother.

I have been writing poetry since a very young age.  I have not shared it with many people but I am going to be brave and start posting past poems on here every once in awhile.

Writing poetry for me is an emotional outlet and something I only do when I am struggling.  That being said, I haven't written in years because I am happy.

In 1991, I lost my younger brother to very long and painful fight with a rare brain cancer.  Today is his birthday and he would have been 41.

This is some of the poetry I wrote when he was really sick, after we found out that his cancer was terminal.  His death was hard for our whole family to watch and it took months.  Poetry helped me deal with that.

Dear Chad,
you never seem to realize
the things that you have
until you see someone
with so much less
I never thought that time
meant so much
then I realized, I've got
my WHOLE life
not days
or weeks
but years
I've experiencesdso much 
that I've taken for granted
I've accomplished so much
when I thought that I have done nothing
I've lived so much
When I thought that I have just begun
But, what if it was me
what if I was dying
what about all the things that
you will never do
the places you will never see
the people you will never meet
the sunsets you will never gaze at

If I could give you 
just one thing
I would grant you your wish
I would give you life
I would give you time
I would let you go on and grow
to see you drive a car
and graduate
to fall in love and have kids
to be whatever you want to be
to let you be free
I know you feel trapped
I know you are afraid
I can see the pain in your eyes
But I can't imagine how you feel
I don't know what to do
All I know is that I love you
and I don't want you to die
I just wish I could change it
I wish you didn't have all of this pain.

Moments before 
I feel......
numb, nothingness
it's not as though
I can't feel
I chose not to
because the emotions
would be
way to much to handle
I want to say
I am afraid
because I know I should be
I want to say
I hurt
but ....
I don't
I want to scream
but I know
there is a reason
to all this madness
so moments before
I have to say
I know someday
I will see you
I will miss you
I do love you

Moments before
I see myself
losing a brother
I see my brother
losing a life
but gaining peace
and freedon
from pain  

Every year, on his birthday, I wonder what he would have been like.  Would he have kids?  What would his life be like?  I can't believe he would be 41-years-old.  He is missed.

13 March 2017

Meat Free Monday: Spicey Riced Cauliflower and Bean Tacos

Shortly after starting this blog, my husband and I started doing the 17 Day Diet.  This brought me to using cauliflower to replace a lot of things, i.e. pizza crust, bread, and rice. (search cauliflower on this blog for more recipes) This is one of my favorite recipes with riced cauliflower thus far.  It is a great low carb side dish with bean tacos for Meat-Free Monday.

 Spicey Riced Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
1 small onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 bell pepper diced ( I used orange)
1 15 oz can of corn or 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn
1 24 oz. jar of diced tomatoes (I used Bella Terra Organic Roasted Garlic diced tomatoes that I found at Meijer in their special Italian section.  You can use any diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes which this was a combo of both)
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 tsp of cumin
1 to 4 tsp of Chipotle pepper powder (you can also use cayenne or adobo instead or completely omit) 
salt to taste 
1 to 3 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil
optional: 1 cup of black beans, cilantro to taste, jalapenos 

"ricing" cauliflower

Remove leaves from cauliflower and cut into chunks that will fit in your  food processor.  Process with either the s-blade or with the grating disc.  I have done both but like the size with the grating disc better.  

Dry fry (no oil) in a skillet on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn.  This will evaporate some of the water and gives it a more rice-like texture.  Put cauliflower in a bowl.

Add oil to the pan and make a sofrito with the onion, garlic, bell peppers.  Saute on medium until onions are translucent and soft.  Add diced jalapenos if using.  Add tomatoes, corn, and beans if using.  Stir.  Add Chili Powder, Chipotle, and Cumin.  Add the cauliflower back in.  Stir to coat.    If sauce it too thick, add a 1/4 cup of water at a time. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or under the sauce is the consistency of the first photo in this post, stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn.  

Add cilantro and salt to taste.  Serve with bean tacos for a perfect Meat-free Monday meal.  You can also make ahead.  We ate the leftovers about 5 days after I made this and they were still yummy.

*thank you to my husband, Rob, for taking photos for me.

10 March 2017

Friday Favorites: Drummond Island

Kayaking at sunset in Sturgeon Bay.

My favorite place in the whole world is Drummond Island (DI). I have been itching to go camping since we had extremely warm weather this winter.  We go camping on DI mid to late summer almost every year. 

On the ferry to DI with all of our gear. 
 DI is the largest island in Lake Huron and is located between the eastern most tip of Michigan's upper peninsula and Canada.  You have to take a ferry to get there. 

Campsite at DI Township Park
Our camper.
 We usually camp in the DI Township Park but have also stayed at my best friend's in-laws' property on the St. Mary's Chanel, which runs between Detour, MI and DI.  It is a great place to watch the ships coming and going to The Soo Locks.  We love the park as it usually is not crowded and there are numerous sites right on the shore.  It is a rustic campground with pit toilets and no showers.  There is potable water and some sites have electricity.  There are hiking trails right off the park. The kayaking there is amazing.  Last year, we have perfect kayaking weather most of our stay.  I would start my day with my coffee on the kayak and end my day with the sunset on the kayak.  There is nothing like just floating on the water, in the silence, watching the sunset. 
The hiking trail is so beautiful.  There are ledges of bedrock covered with mosses.  Part of the trail also leads to the shore but most of it is in the forest.

Hiking trail at DI Township Park

Moss on the trail
St. Mary's Chanel. 
The Ledges with high water.
 There are some really cool nature areas on the island.  One of them is The Fossil Ledges. You really need 4 wheel drive to get it to it.  It is part of a nature preserve called Maxton Plains and is on the northern shore of the island.  Maxton Plains is one of the rarest ecosystems on earth.  Here is a link to MSU site with more information: Maxton Plains The drive back to The Fossil Ledges is beautiful and goes through forested and marshy areas.  This area is called The Fossil Ledges because, when the water on Lake Huron is low, the shoreline is steps or ledges of bedrock out into the water and there are tons of fossils.  Here is more about that area at the DI Chamber of Commerce Site: The Fossil Ledges

Fossilized shell

Even though we have been going there for years, it seems like we are also discovering something new.  A couple of years ago, we found  Potagannissing Wildlife Flooding on our last day and didn't have time to explore.  Last year, we had a very windy day and thought our luck might be better kayaking this area rather than the bay.  Unfortunately, it was windy there too. So, we didn't even make it out to the first lake.  We will be trying again this year.   This inlet goes back to a chain of 4 lakes.  There are beaver houses, which did see on this trip!    We were also told that this is a great area for bird watching.  
Potagannissing Wildlife Flooding
Sunset paddle
 So until summer, I will just keeping dreaming that I am floating in my kayak on the bay, watching that beautiful sun set.

Where is your favorite place?

07 March 2017

Fresh Jackfruit vs. Canned Jackfruit

I have been interested in Jackfruit for a couple of years but it is hard to find in my area.  I did order some of Upton's Bar-B-Que Jackfruit and ate it last week.  It was super yummy.  So when I went to our local Meijer the next day, I was pleasantly surprised to see fresh Jackfruit!!!  I bought a 12.5 lb one and gave it shot.  They remind of sugar apples (Soursop) which I ate when I lived in the US Virgin Islands.  Soursops are much smaller though.

I looked up online how to prepped and everything I read stated that the Jackfruits ooze a white latex-like substance that is very hard to remove.  So, I took the advice of a couple of other blogs and lined my counter with newspaper and oiled my hands and knifes.  My Jackfruit didn't ooze any of this substance.  It is very labor intensive to prep.  You have to cut it, peel, separate all of the stringy fibrous parts from the seed pods, and separate the seeds from the pods. 

Jackfruit seeds and pods with fibrous parst still on.

I bought this with the intention of using it as a meat replacement.  I tried to make mock Carita's out of it and found out after the fact that it is the young unripened Jackfruit that is used for this. (I am going to check the India Market on 28th St to see if they have canned young Jackfruit there.)  While the flavor was good the consistency was not.  It was way too mushy. I am using them as a sweet fruit instead.  They smell and taste, in my opinion, like Juicy Fruit Gum or a mix of mango, pineapple, and melon.  Yummy!  This morning I make a smoothie with the pods, banana, orange juice and some of the boiled seeds.  Delicious!

Speaking of seeds.  These are also delicious.  You just boil them for 20-25 minutes, rinse and dry, and then you have to peel, which is a pain in the arse.  I found cutting them in half made them easier to peel.  The have the taste and consistency of boiled red potatoes.  They are really good with just some salt. They are very nutritious.  Here is more information on the seeds at Livestrong.com

Here is some other good information on the whole fruit at Nutrition and You.com

I ended up freezing two bags of the seed pods, which you can do raw.  I heard you can make custard out of them, so I will be trying that in the future.  In the mean time,  I will just enjoy this crazy fruit in my smoothies or as a snack!

03 March 2017

Friday Favorites: Dr Bonner's Castile Hemp Soaps

I try to only use natural cleaning supplies because who wants all that nasty chemical exposure!  Dr. Bonner's is one of my favorites because it is so versatile. Their bottles state there are 38 different ways to use it! Click here to see their whole line of products: drbonner.com

 Here are some of the ways we use it in our home:

Shampoo and Body Wash
We love camping.  We are also very concerned about our environment.  Most of the camping we do is very rustic, with no showers.  Since we usually camp for a week or more at a time, we end up bathing in a lake.  Dr. Bronner's is eco-friendly so I do not feel bad about doing this. We use it straight from the bottle as shampoo and body wash.  I usually buy Lavender for this purpose.  It is not shown here as I am out.

Foaming Hand Soap
In a foam soap dispenser, I add one squirt of the Peppermint or Orange Dr. Bronner's, 30 drops of Young Living Thieves Essential Oil, and fill the rest with water.

Washing Dishing
We also use this when camping to wash our dishes.  It doesn't foam up much but that doesn't equate to cleaning power!  I just starting using the SalSuds and it does foam.  So, I will be trying that for dishes this camping season.

Household Cleaning 
To clean my toilets I just do one squirt of the orange Dr. Bronner's, one capful of Young Living Thieves cleaner, a cup of baking soda, and about two cups of white vinegar.  I let this sit for a couple of hours, come back and scrub with toilet brush and flush.

I use soap nuts in the washer which for normal wash is fine. (I will post about that in the future) If I need extra cleaning power, like for stinky workout clothes, I just add a squirt of the Sal Suds.

Spray Surface Cleaner
In a spray bottle, I add a squirt of Peppermint Dr. Bronner's, about 30 drops of Young Living Thieves essential oil, about 30 drops of  Young Living Lemon or Orange essential oils. Then I fill 1/3 of the bottle with white vinegar and the rest with water.

What are your favorite eco-friendly cleaners?

02 March 2017

Thirsty Thursday: Going Alcohol Free for One Month

I love wine.  I love beer.  I love mixed drinks.  But once a year, my husband and I take a month off from drinking alcohol.  This is a great way to help lose those holiday pounds and get ready for summer.  In addition to not drinking alcohol, I also stopped drinking pop about 3 weeks ago.  The challenge has been trying to find substitutes when craving something sweet or fizzy.  Right now we are back on the 17 Day Diet which doesn't allow for juice either!  So, what's a girl to do?

I found that sparkling waters help to calm that craving.  I like LaCroix because they have a lot of different flavors.  Peach-Pear and Cherry Lime are my favorites.  A full list of flavors is here: LaCroix

I also recently tried Klarbrunn Black Chery (my favorite flavor of everything) and it is really yummy and a little less expesensive than LaCroix.  Their flavors are here: Klarbrunn

Another thing I do is add Young Living Vitality Oils to plain San Pellegrino water or if I want more flavor to the ones listed above.  These are the ones I have that I use for that and also Lavender and Citrus Fresh (out of right now)  which is yummy with the Lemon.

Click here for more information on the Vitality Line

 If I want them a little sweet, I add stevia.  This is a great no-calorie option.  I use NuStevia   When I start drinking alcohol again, these also make grear no-calorie mixers!

01 March 2017

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Many people I know have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep.  I used to suffer from insomnia and these are the things that I now do that help me.

Create a comfy bed:  I bought a foam topper for our bed and a foam pillow with a cool gel pack built right into it.  As someone who suffers from hot flashes this is a huge plus. If it is cold, I also use my extra large heating pad to warm my side of the bed up.  

Soothing sounds: One of my favorite radio programs is Hearts of Space.  I have been listening to them for over 20 years.  They have a weekly show that airs on Sundays on PBS stations across the country.  They also have an app for streaming the shows, which is what I use.  Headphones are must for me, especially if the reason I can't sleep is my dear hubby snoring.  They play a mix of music: electronic ambient music, ethic, classical, and even choral music around Christmas.  The show is different every week and if you pay for a subscription you can have access 40 years of archived shows. Sometimes I also use an app called Lightening Bug which has numerous tracks you can layer, including rain, thunder and lightening, waves, white noise, fans, chimes, chanting monks, etc. You can actually play this app over music too. 

Essential Oils:  These have been a huge help.  Sometimes I will take a bath with Epsom Salts and some relaxing oils, especially if I am getting muscle spasms (bad back).  Sometimes I use a linen spray on my sheets and pillow.  Most night I diffuse oils that help with sleep, unless we are sick, then I diffuse oils that help with breathing.  Because quality is important to me, I only use Young Living Therapeutic grade oils, because I know there are pure (Seed to Seal ).  I rotate the oils that I use.  Here is a list of oils that I use for sleep:

Peace & Calming
Stress Away
Citrus Fresh
Ylang ylang
Roman Chamomile

Another blend that I find really relaxing that reminds me of the woods is:
Sacred Mountain
Northern Lights Black Spruce
Blue Cypress
Palo Santo

If we are sick or my allergies are bothering me I use these:

Eucalyptus Radiata
Eucalyptus Globulus

What are your tricks for a good night's sleep?