Meatless Monday - Refried Beans

Monday, October 28, 2013

Find all Meatless Monday posts here.
(All MM recipes are vegan and gluten free since that's how we roll)

Welcome to Meatless Monday! It's the one day of the week we ask you to go without meat. See how you feel for just one day without meat. Or even without any animal products. It's not that hard - I promise! Especially with the recipes my husband comes up with.

Today it's all about how to make the best refried beans. Seriously. We make them on the weekends (almost every weekend) and do so many different things with them. Well, mostly we make taco bowls, but we could do so many things with them. Like eat them and enjoy them. :o) Yum!

Vegan Refried Beans


  • 2-4 jalapenos 
  • 1 yellow onion 
  • 1 green(or red) bell pepper 
  • 3-4 garlic cloves 
  • 2-3 cups beans (black or pinto, I prefer black) 
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp chili powder 
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Chop up peppers and onions and sautee in pan until sweated through. Add to bottom of crock pot. 
  2. Add beans to crock pot - no need to pre-soak. 
  3. Cover with about 6 cups of water or so - enough to put at least 1 inch of water above the beans. 
  4. Stir in chili powder and cumin.
  5. Cook on high for 8 hours - adding additional water as needed to keep beans covered. 
  6. Strain beans, saving the liquid.
  7. Add beans back into pot, add salt to taste, and mash together using potato masher or hand mixer. 
  8. Add some of the liquid you drained off as needed for desired consistency.
You can make taco bowls with some spanish rice, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, and vegan sour cream and cheese. You can add these beans to a breakfast burrito with spinach, potato, avocado, tomato, etc. You can serve these up as a side dish as well. Delicious!

Eat your fruits and veggies (and beans), kids.

#FruitSoHard: No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

Monday, October 21, 2013

Anyone want some no-bake whole-foods pumpkin pie? OMG you guys. This is so good! So full of flavor but without any of the junk. And the best part is that you can be lazy and not bake it. It's fine on its own and needs no baking. The crust is super simple and delicious, and the filling is creamy and sweet without being overbearing. Enjoy this with some coconut whipped cream too! :)

Vegan No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 15-20 dates
  • 5-6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice OR the following:
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • Pinch of sea salt

First, we make a crust for the dish. For this, use the walnuts, half of the dates, about a half cup of the oats, and 2 tbsp maple syrup. Mix in the food processor until crumbly and sticky. Press into bottom of pan to form a bottom crust layer. 

Once that's done, combine the pumpkin and rest of the ingredients in the food processor and run until smooth, stirring occasionally. Once mixed up, it should be about the consistency of cookie dough. Using a spoon or spatula, spread evenly in the pan. Cover, set in refrigerator to chill. Enjoy!

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Everything Good is Gradual

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

While watching the sky light up from the sun's impending presence this morning, I realized that this world doesn't have an on switch.

That is to say, everything in nature takes place gradually.

The sun slowly rises and sets, steadily bringing day after day, night after night. The seasons quietly change, one fading into another. All living things start small and grow over time. Thus, health is also a progressive process.

Millions of people believe they need to lose weight in order to be healthy, and while that may be the case for many, some just need a different lifestyle to achieve actual health. Either way, weight loss is another thing in life that shouldn't have an on switch. For it to be safe and natural, you need to have it occur by degrees. Slowly but surely if you will.

But weight loss does not equal health. On the same token, weight gain does not equal failure.

I've said this all before, but watching the sunrise this morning made it all very clear to me. Perhaps this is something you need to experience (both slow weight loss and a breathtaking, gradual sunrise). The point is that we should be striving to live through nature, and in nature, things take time.

If we take a step back from the weight loss theme, which I'd like to do, then I think this sunrise also reminded me to have patience and trust. I'm taking a huge leap by making editing my only job, and I'll admit to feelings of apprehension and fear. But this morning I remembered to have trust, hope, and optimism. It's not always easy, but I woke up today, so I'll keep trying.

And you should too.

Everything good is gradual. Practice patience and acceptance. Give and take love. Be love. Life is so much easier that way.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Meatless Monday - Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Monday, October 14, 2013

Find all Meatless Monday posts here.

Welcome to Meatless Monday! It's the one day of the week we ask you to go without meat. See how you feel for just one day without meat. Or even without any animal products. It's not that hard - I promise! Especially with the recipes my husband comes up with. But today is one that's all me!

Well, not technically. My sweet friend Tammy posted a recipe for a pumpkin pie smoothie, and I thought it sounded incredible. As you may or may not know, I make a smoothie almost every day, sometimes twice a day. It's almost always a green smoothie with lots of bananas, so the idea of adding pumpkin and spice to it intrigued me. So here's what I did.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

  • 3 bananas, medium
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
  • 1/2 cup almond milk^
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • 8 ice cubes

  1. Add the bananas, pumpkin, and almond milk to the blender. Blend until mixed well and smooth.
  2. Add the pumpkin pie spice and ice cubes. Blend until mixed well and smooth.
  3. Enjoy!
^ - If you don't half almond milk, water will work. I used coconut water and it was still delicious.
* - If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, use this mixture:
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Serves: 2 "normal" people. I drank both glasses. Hehe!

Feel free to add some protein powder (I use hemp) or some leafy greens to make this a green smoothie. It's customizable and totally up to you. On a side note, I think this would be delicious with sweet potato too. My fellow book blogger friend and smoothie drinker, Asheley, recommended sweet potato to me a while back, so I need to try it. Yum!

Next Monday I'll share a pumpkin oatmeal bar recipe my husband threw together for me. It's SO good! Then maybe I'll quit with the pumpkin for a while. But we love pumpkin! :o)

Eat (or drink) your fruits and veggies, kids.

Watching the Sky

Sunday, October 13, 2013

While snuggling in bed on this slightly chilly fall morning, I decided I would make some tea and watch the sun come up. I snuggled a little too long because the sky was already lit up a bit before I made it out there. But that didn't stop me. Green tea in hand, I sat on a the patio near the pool and just observed nature in the company of my dogs.

What I witnessed brought me to tears.

As I sipped my tea and cuddled with one of my puppies, a flock of birds, maybe fifteen or so, flew over the house. They caught my eye and made me start thinking. First it was the obvious: I wish I could fly. Then it was a little more complex: Birds' wings must be very strong to fly that long. I wonder how well they know each other. They're so in sync for not speaking to each other.

Speaking. Sure, they make sounds or gestures to communicate, but they were very quiet while up in the sky, and I saw very little that would indicate they were communicating with each other. Of course, I don't know the language of the birds, but they all went in the same direction, taking turns in the leader positions, just gliding along. Soon other birds joined up and the group grew to about thirty.

Here's where I probably made a few assumptions. Or maybe we could just call this a lesson in human behavior, since birds probably don't have the same values, practices, and customs we humans do. But this is what happened in my head.

As I watched the other birds join, I realized the original group was accepting these new birds. And some of them even flew at the front of the pack. No questions asked—they just absorbed them into the group. Maybe they already knew them. But maybe they were complete stranger birds. I'd like to think they didn't already know each other. I want to believe that these birds were just so willing to accept new friends without judgment or needing answers. Nothing was required for them to join the journey.

The soft swoosh sound coming from their wings pushing through the air reminded me to thank the universe for this experience. Watching those birds fly around, accepting the other birds who wished to join, made me grateful for the love in my heart. It doesn't matter who you are, what you are, what you believe in, what you look like, how you live—I want you to know love. I will show you love. I want peace and harmony in this world, so I will be that shining light.

And here is where the tears fell.

This morning I posted a series of tweets on Twitter. I got some very positive responses, which warmed my heart. I'm not always that upbeat though. I get down too. I complain at times. And I haven't always been this full of love and positivity.

But the tears came because I'm just so thankful. I'm grateful I've come this far. After everything I've experienced in the last twelve months, I've come to realize that we aren't guaranteed another second on this planet. Life is fleeting, and appreciating the small things will make you remember how amazing this life is. Why complain when we have so much good around us? The small things we get irritated over won't matter in a week from now, so don't waste any precious time on them.

The birds taught me a lesson this morning, whether it was true for them and actually happening in their world or not. They did not complain. They did not reject anyone. They did not judge. They did not show prejudice or hate. They just seemed to practice love, kindness, and acceptance. And that's something I wish we all would do.

So start with yourself. Forgive and release all negativity. Then it will radiate to all parts of your life soon after.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Monday, October 7, 2013

Find all Meatless Monday posts here.

Welcome to Meatless Monday! It's the one day of the week we ask you to go without meat. See how you feel for just one day without meat. Or even without any animal products. It's not that hard - I promise! Especially with the recipes my husband comes up with. And this one is total comfort food.

Today's recipe is basically portobello mushrooms stuffed with mashed potatoes and corn and covered with cheese. Vegan cheese was used in our house, but you can use cheddar if you'd like. This one came from his head one day, and I'm so glad it did. It's comforting and delicious. Yum. Check it out!

Potato-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled (if desired) and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb frozen corn or 2-4 ears of corn with corn cut off cob
  • 1-2 tbsp butter/margarine/vegan option
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stem removed
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese/vegan option
  1. Boil potatoes. Mash with butter, garlic powder, and black peper and mix with corn.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, bake portobellos (and stems if desired) at 400F for 15 mins. Remove from oven and place in baking dish. Snack on stems if you want since we won't be using them here.
  3. Place portobellos in casserole dish, spoon in mashed potato and corn mix to cover. Sprinkle some additional corn on top. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Put back in oven at 350F for about 15-20 mins.
  4. Serve with side of steamed broccoli, asparagus, or some other delicious side. Enjoy!
Check out a whole how-to posted by my husband here.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

In Which I Question Everything...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Existential thought of the day: What is natural?

I don't really mean "What comes from the earth?" or "What is pure?" I mean "What is essential, true, and real"? What is basic necessity for human life? And why weren't we happy with that? We didn't come with an instruction manual, so how did we figure out to live with what we had? I want know about our roots and our beginning.

The idea that we live in a world where we have all this technology that connects us to the other side of the world in just a few seconds is amazing. But are we supposed to have it? Were we actually supposed to discover all of this? Does it make our lives easier or does it just add more stress and unhealthy, unnatural abilities?

A lot of these thoughts and questions come from my existential thought from yesterday: I am HUMAN.

So I wondered what it means to be human. What it means to be limited to this one body and mind. I only have so many capabilities, but technology allows for some unnatural potential. Are we supposed to be able to do all of this? I feel like it may bring about some really amazing things: spreading the message of love and happiness; allowing us to connect with friends and family with a mere phone call, video chat, or plane flight; and helping the world find peace. Yet, we obviously still have so much hate and suffering! So is this really helping?

I don't know. I just know that it's part of a world where we have war and savage deaths. We still have slavery, human oppression, and animal cruelty. We live in a world where there is so much suffering, and I want to change it. I want to live with peace on earth. It sounds like nothing but a wish, but if there are living things out there suffering, then I am too.

Does that make any sense to you?

I do know that we have to advance in some ways. We need light to see at night, right? But do we? Didn't we once live and sleep by the sun and moon? We need heat to cook, but do we really need to cook any food? Even people today are living off raw vegan diets. Some things just aren't adding up anymore.

I think tomorrow I'll blog about a conversation I overheard while walking down the street last night during First Friday, but for now, I just had to get some of that out. It's just what I've been thinking about lately, and I feel like this blogging thing helps me a little bit to let it go.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Random Thoughts

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I've previously mentioned my recent bout with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. What I'd love to talk about today is what's been left behind by them.

These bizarre and very existential thoughts pop into my head. Sometimes they're normal (Why are we here? What's the point of life?) and sometimes they just weird me out. Ready for this list? It's...interesting.

  • How did we figure out that sex makes people?
  • Within reason, I can't ever leave this planet. Does that make me trapped?
  • What if reincarnation is real and I become a man in my next life? Will that be weird?
  • Are there many versions of this world where people who have died in my reality actually live on?
  • What if, while flying on a plane, gravity stops and the earth drops away and the plane has nowhere to land?
  • What if I'm on earth and gravity stops? 
  • What if the earth just stops rotating? What if it just stands still in space and stops orbiting the sun?
  • What if I wasn't ever meant to be this Michelle?
  • Could it be possible for my memories to on reflect what is true in my reality today?
  • Do dogs like being dogs? Or do they look at humans and wish they were humans?
  • Cats obviously love being cats because they're kind of evil and really lazy.
  • Was society truly meant to end up like this? Where we work desk jobs and waste our lives according to some system?
  • Humanity really effed up.
That's just the beginning. My poor husband has to suffer through most of these, but bless his heart for not really judging me for thinking of some of them. Sometimes the thoughts are so dumb, but sometimes they're kind of misinformed and/or just my need for answers about this world.

A lot of my thoughts revolve around death. I've decided that this is because I don't really have a belief about life and death and what it means to die. I don't know what happens, and no one can prove it to me, so I'm stuck wondering about it a lot. I don't partake in any religious beliefs, and I don't know if I have that ability to blindly be faithful. 

Also, I frequently think I'm about to die. This is the panic taking over, but I get a general sense of danger or impending death from time to time. I think about my health, the food I eat, the amount of exercise I'm getting, the water I drink and if it's enough, and my stress levels. Oh the stress.

Either way, all I know is that I've been left with some residual effects from the panic, anxiety, and depression. I look around from time to time and wonder if and/or why everyone else isn't thinking about when they are going to die. I can't comprehend why people waste any time on this planet by stressing over the small things, fretting about their appearance so much, and killing each other. Ugh.

I could go on for days. Do any of you think any of this stuff? It's not so dreary now that I'm not depressed anymore, but I can't help but thing some weird thoughts. Hmm.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

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