Saturday was one of our best days in a long time.
Paul is often very busy. We don't get to spend quality time with him often. We felt like a family. Together.
It's the days like Saturday that keep us going. Keep life worth living, as Paul says. He got the idea that we could drive up the mountain, and then navigate our way back home on foot.
Good opportunity to teach.
He told Essie and Samuel he would give them a dollar if they could push over a dead, rotting tree trunk by themselves.
They only got 33 cents. Daddy had to step in and help.
There was mass rebellion.
I just had to laugh because Paul is so good at arguing/weaseling his way out of anything. Mastermind. While I stew, and fret, and stress about any minute detail I may have forgotten to give to the kids. Girl guilt issues.
My favorite quote from the whole excursion?
Samuel: Dad, what if we get hungry? Or what if there is a bear?
Paul: I guess you'll have to eat the bear. [And with a big smile.] Let's just hope it's a tofurky bear.
As we were laughing, I thought, It feels pretty good to make fun of ourselves.
There were a lot of water breaks.
A few ouchies.
A LONG hike. Towards the end the kids got tired and tripled up on our stroller. Is this legal?
We made them run the last bit. Trying to build up their endurance.
Some of my favorite scenic shots from the hike.
Leaves are turning color. Beautiful mountain peaks in the distance.
We ended the day with Blueberry Banana Ice Cream.
Paul decided, last minute, to take us all out to dinner at Samurai Restaurant. Each table has it's own grill, and the chef cooks your food right in front of you. Exactly how you want it. The kids got fried tofu, with seasoned pasta. Paul and I had huge orders of sauteed, seasoned vegetables, steamed rice, and the BEST tofu I have EVER had.
My camera had died by this point, hence lack of pics. But the chef also lights large, showey fires, and does knife tricks in front of you. He told us that of all the years he had worked, we were the easiest table he had ever prepared food for. I was surprised. He said veg was easy. Tofu? Easy. Steak, and other meats took forever and people are often picky about their done-ness. I felt so much better, because we were picky and wanted water-saute and not oil saute. No butter.
The kids repeatedly said, "This was the best day, ever!"
I'm not gonna' lie. We had a blast.
Crazy pic my kids took. Samuel looks like he's being consumed by something dreadful.
Makes me feel better about my photography!
It's Megan's birthday, today. She turns two.
An early birthday present. A card from Grandma and Grandpa that meows the happy birthday song. I think we know that song very well now.
Megan is one seriously feminine chic.
She loves shoes.
PARTICULARLY her father.
We're keeping the celebration simple. Us. Just us. Berry pie. A few presents. Lasagna for dinner. (I am going to try cauliflower mixed with Italian pizza cheese to replace the cheese.)
I know this post is already VERY long. I am going to break all the rules and make it longer. I am just so excited to share a recipe and some food we ate, with you.
As you can see, I bought a LOT of fresh veg this weekend.
What you cannot see, is the additional veg/fruit on my counters and in my pantry.
A favorite pre-vegan meal of ours was veg/fruit/cracker/cheese trays.
Paul asked, where did that meal go?
To use up all this veg, and to get a good dose of pure, raw energy I felt like I really needed.
I made this.
Put them together.
With a whole grain cracker and bread tray. Add some YUMMY dips.
A big, scrumptious lunch, filled with flavor, texture, color, variety. The kids. Paul and I. We ate it UP. SO delicious. Not a lot of leftovers.
A major plant infusion.
You might think you could never get full on a meal like this. Try it out.
You will feel so good. Awesome. Energetic. Happy. Stuff yourself silly.
No cheese. The trick?
Delicious dips. Cream for the fruit. Hummus for the crackers and bread. Ranch dressing...for the veggies.
If you think about it, this is a complete meal. Fruits, vegetables, starch, and protein and fat from the dips made with nuts, beans, and tofu.
Essie told me one day at Sweet Tomatoes (soup and salad bar) that she would eat loads of veggies if she only had a dip like this one.
Ugh. I had tried at least three different kinds of plant-based ranch. Yuck. Nothing like the "real" stuff.
Last Friday I stumbled upon this recipe on Chocolate-Covered Katie.
She named it, "Crazy-Good Ranch dressing." I made it. The problem was. It wasn't crazy-good. But. I could tell it was a good base. A good start.
So I played with it. Added my fave ranch dressing seasonings. Some agave nectar.
NOW it's crazy-good. My kids couldn't tell the difference, and kept saying how yummy it was.
Ashlee's NOW It's Crazy-Good Ranch Dressing
Note from Ashlee: It's not oil free, but this is one of those recipes where it is so worth it. If I can watch my kids stuff their faces with veg? Yup. It's happening.
12 oz (1 package) silken-firm or lite silken-firm tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
3/4 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp dried basil
1/3 cup water, or more or less depending on desired thickness (I use 100g)
2 tbsp apple-cider vinegar
1 and 1/2 vegetable broth cubes (I use Better than Bouillon No Chicken base, 2 tsp.)
2 tbsp, heaping, Veganaise (I used Earth Balance vegan mayonnaise.)
1-2 teaspoons agave nectar (Start with one, add more for additional sweetness)
Combine all ingredients, except for dried herbs, and blend until creamy. Pulse in dried herbs. Taste, and add additional sweetener if needed. Let chill in the fridge.
Or, if you are like me, and never plan ahead, throw it in your freezer for about 20 minutes or less, to get cold while you prepare your salad or veggie trays.
Variation: Green Chile Ranch. Add 1-2 tablespoons chopped, roasted green chile and pulse in with the dried herbs.
Weekend Spin: Megan. Vegan. Only one letter off. Paul says we named her Megan to prepare us for our vegan days. Hm. I don't think so.