The dreaded question of anyone who eats a plant based diet in any form (vegetarian, vegan, WFPBNO) is “where do you get your protein?” I was having this conversation with my son just today as he was eating the leftover tofu with sesame seeds from yesterday. Both the seeds and the tofu are great sources of protein!

Somewhere along the line, protein got elevated to this superior position in the world of nutrition. Not that protein isn’t an important macronutrient; it obviously is. But I think it’s been overrated in terms of its focus. I know so many people who are all about getting more and more protein in their diets, even drinking protein shakes and eating protein bars. As if more is better.

But there is such a thing as “too much”. Excessive protein can lead to a number of health conditions, including weight gain (I saw this first hand with my husband), constipation, and kidney damage. Depending on the source of your protein, other risks are cancer and heart disease.

So how much protein should you have in a day? On average, it’s 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. (A calculation I found online said .36 grams per pound of body weight.) If you are working out, it’s slightly higher.

Most foods contain all 3 macronutrients — protein, fat and carbohydrates — in varying degrees. You are probably getting enough protein, without supplementation, if you are eating a decent diet. If you aren’t sure, use cronometer.com to track your meals for a few days to see where you are at. Too much protein could be a reason you are struggling to lose weight.

Even if you are eating a plant based diet, it’s easy to hit your protein targets. I tracked my meals from yesterday in cronometer.com, and I ate 54.9 grams of protein. It was more than targeted, but over time, it balances out, as I’m sure there are a few days I’m slightly below that number. I wouldn’t want to be any higher, though. I did want to illustrate how easy it is to get your protein, though.

Great sources of protein for plant-based diet include: soy products like tofu and tempeh, nuts and seeds, lentils, beans, quinoa, and oats.

Protein IS important; I’m not downplaying that it is critical. Not getting enough is also an issue. Protein is important in building bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. It helps oxygenate your blood and repair cells, and more. I just think the push for more and more protein can be damaging and you should really look at how much you are getting in your diet before trying to supplement and/or adding more protein foods to your diet.

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As a mentioned, a great source of plant protein is tempeh. I have shared a number of recipes with you previously using tempeh, a great meat substitute. One serving of this recipe (Tempeh Satay with Peanut Sauce) is about 30 grams of protein! That includes 4 oz of tempeh, 1 cup of rice, and 1/8 cup of peanut sauce. (A cup of broccoli is another 2.6 grams!)


IMDb: Overrated (2016)


I spent a bit of time yesterday and today going through one of the boxes I brought from the attic. It was a box from the late 1980s / early 1990s and was mostly old address books, check registers, and bank statements. I had no idea they were up there or they would have been shredded long ago, and since there are still two more boxes up there, I figured there was no time like the present to shred and pitch.

It was crazy to see how many different banks (apparently I used several over the years) actually used to put your social security number on the statement! So even though they were for accounts that no longer exist, at banks that no longer exist, in a former name, and at addresses that no longer exist, I couldn’t just toss them. (Trust me I tried to justify just throwing them out!) Many of the bank actually returned the canceled checks back then, and those also often had social security numbers on them. I guess people were more trustworthy back then. Can you even imagine writing you SSN on ANYthing these days?

It was kind of fun, and a bit nostalgic, to flip through those canceled checks. What a very different life we led back then!

Some things that amused and surprised me…

  • Paying less than $30 for electricity and only $20.80 for cable!!!
  • My shopping outlets back then? Fays, Jamesway, Hess’, PayLess Shoes, Montgomery Ward and The Globe Store. Because I worked in downtown Scranton back then, The Globe Store was my go-to for a walk at lunch. I remember, especially, buying the cutest dresses for my nieces there.
  • My rent ranged from a lowly $225 for a third floor apartment in Wilkes-Barre to $425 for a three bedroom house in Moscow.
  • Student loan payments? $107 a month.
  • Remember Book of the Month Club? I was a member! (Probably along with Columbia House music…)
  • The big hostess parties back then were Home Interiors and Princess House. I still have a lot of my PH crystal. Home Interiors definitely went bankrupt and I don’t think PH exists anymore either, but you can still buy/sell it on eBay!

It was an interesting walk down memory lane. I look forward to checking out the remaining two boxes!

Anyone else remember those things?

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I made a new recipe tonight: Miso Noodle Soup with Sesame Tofu. It was deemed a “hit” by everyone, so I will definitely be making this again. I discovered the recipe on Rabbit and Wolves, a vegan website. I have added it to my website because of the modifications I made (or will make next time I make it). This dish felt like an indulgent Asian treat; I only wish we had chopsticks to eat it!


IMDb: Shredded (2005)


Anyone who knows me at all knows that I constantly struggle with all the “stuff” in my house. As a minimalist married to a pack rat, I am always on the lookout for stuff I can throw out. I’ve never been a materialistic person and I find that the older I get, the more I want to purge.

I don’t want to leave our kids a houseful of things that they need to get rid of. It’s a big burden and a lot of work that they didn’t ask for. Plus, I get tired of moving stuff to get to other stuff. It’s just exhausting to manage.

Just today I spent some time in our attic. We are having some repairs done to our bathroom ceiling and fan, and the contractor needs to get into the attic. I went up to move things out of the way and figured I’d do a little inventory while I was up there. I found a few bins of toys and stuffed animals, more luggage than we need, an old film projector, my first wedding dress, and a few kites and other toys. All normal and reasonable items, but certainly a few items that can/should go. I found 3 boxes of bank statements from the 1980s, which I will promptly be shredding! (In all honesty, I had no recollection they were there.) There were a few comforter sets that also need to go, but the mother lode of items? 35 bags of clothing belonging to my husband! Yes, 35. When confronted, his reply was “some of the bags are small…” Really. And some of the bags are big, so there’s that!

I don’t think I even own 35 bags of clothing! All seasons of the clothing I own fit in my closet and my dresser. There is no moving spring/summer to fall/winter. It’s all out. All the time. I just don’t understand why Imelda Marcos needs all those shoes, etc.!

I try my best to employ many Marie Kondo principles: I carved out my own space (the guest room closet for my clothes, as an example), and I only ever throw out my own stuff (unless I have permission). I used to feel guilt for throwing things out that are in perfectly good condition, but a yard sale or eBay or whatever are just not likely to happen. I don’t want to just stack stuff somewhere waiting for the opportunity to get rid of it “some day”. Where I can, I do donate (especially clothing), and there are a few items that I have put on Facebook marketplace, but in general, it’s a real commitment to try to find homes for everything.

Other items require a more creative solution. For example, the many bins of photo albums I had became a few bins of photos only. I pitched all the albums and have been working off and on for a few years to scan and catalog all of those pictures, getting rid of duplicates and continuing to whittle down the space needed to house them. I do love old pictures, so I’m not about to just throw it all out, but a means to better organize was definitely needed.

I think less “stuff” equals less stress. Less to worry about. Less to clean. Less to move around. And I’m a believer that less stuff means more positive energy in your life. It allows a better flow of energy in your life and brings more of the right things to you. (Check out articles on feng shui if you want more information on that!)

I will continue to purge and organize what I can, while trying to convince my hubby that he needs to do the same. I think it’s an important part of self-care to be in an environment that is soothing and joyful. (I’ve tried just about every strategy in the book, to no avail, so I’m open to any strategies that may have worked with your own pack rats!)

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Here’s a delicious soup recipe for you. It was sent to me by my friend, Sheryl, and has been modified a bit to be oil-free and to adjust the seasonings. Vegan Tuscan Soup

IMDb: Stuff (2015)

Hit and Miss

I am always on the hunt for new recipes. Some people like to shop for clothes; I like to shop for yummy meals!

I have a large supply of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks (having donated my meat-containing cookbooks to the library). My favorites include “Isa Does It” and “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskovitz, “Oh She Glows” by Angela Liddon, and “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli. But there are probably 20 more cookbooks on my shelves. I love to flip through the cookbooks, looking for new recipes I haven’t tried, or reacquainting myself with a recipe I haven’t made in a while.

I do spend more time, I think, searching the internet for recipes. It doesn’t cost any money, and you only print or save what you actually want. Let’s face it, we’ve all spent money on a cookbook only to really like one or two recipes. There are thousands of places on the internet to find recipes, and let’s not forget social media. Just search on the hashtag #veganrecipes (or whatever kind of recipe you are looking for) and have a ball!

I have many go-to recipes, most of which are on my website, but I like to throw in a new recipe or two every week. I don’t want to get bored eating, or bored cooking. I am willing to try new ingredients, new seasonings, new cooking methods. It’s a great way to learn and explore.

My family, especially my son, is quick to note if it’s a new dish being served and we always have conversations about what’s in it. I can always tell, without anyone saying a word, if a dish is a hit – or a miss!

For a recipe to continue “in the rotation”, there are certain requirements. First, everyone has to like it. Really like it. If David and I like a recipe and Ethan doesn’t, why would I make that again? Ethan is actually really good about expressing if he thinks a dish belongs in the rotation.

Secondly, the taste has to be worth the effort. If it’s something that takes a lot of time (I do try to spend 30 minutes or less in preparing dinner), a lot of chopping, and a lot of pots, or uses expensive ingredients, it needs to be amazing. If it’s only “good”, I’m not willing to spend that time, energy, and money again. We’ve had every combination possible of who liked and who didn’t like the recipes that got sent to the trash.

Tonight was a dish that David and I both enjoyed. It was “really good” but not “amazing”. Ethan was unimpressed (I think it was a texture thing… maybe if the sauce was a little thinner…). And so this recipe goes to the recycling bin. White Bean Fettuccine Alfredo with Peas and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Forks Over Knives.

Doesn’t it look like a hit, though? 🙂

IMDb: Hit and Miss (2013)

Curls Just Want to Have Fun

As a vegan, sometimes I still want a nice sloppy barbecue sandwich. Something like a pork bbq, minus the pork, of course! That’s why I was so happy to discover soy curls a few years ago.

Soy curls are an excellent meat substitute. Made from non-GMO soybeans, soy curls have a meaty, chewy texture (very different from tofu, which is what most people think of when you mention soy). They come in a dry form and must be rehydrated through soaking before cooking. I am only aware of the Butler brand of soy curls, and I order them through Amazon.

Today was a lazy Sunday and a perfect day for a bbq sandwich. I love this recipe from Shane & Simple: Soy Curls BBQ Sandwich, which includes this homemade bbq sauce. It’s better than bottled, but if you have a favorite store-bought, you can use that instead for an even speedier meal.

Since I never got a round to making my black-eyed peas on New Years Day, I threw together this yummy salad: Black-Eyed Peas Salad. You could add whatever veggies in it you would like!

A perfect combo for a lazy football kind of day!


IMDb: Curls Just Want to Have Fun (2015)

Horton Hears A Who

First of all, let me apologize for skipping a day yesterday. I broke my streak of 21 days in a row and I certainly had it on my mind to write yesterday. However, we decided to do a family game night and that certainly seemed more important. For anyone interested in a good game, we played Catan for the first time. Excellent strategic game, even if it does take a few minutes to figure out for the first time!

Yesterday I had my quarterly appointment for my hearing aid. I have been mostly skipping these because there has been no real wear and tear on my hearing aid. As most of my readers know, I started wearing a hearing aid in my left ear in 2015. It is believed that I had nerve damage to my ear from chemotherapy, similar to how some people get neuropathy in their hands or feet.

The first time I wore it, I was amazed at how certain sounds were ridiculous evident… The turn signal on my car blinked REALLY loudly. When I walked into work, the click-clacking of everyone’s keyboards was so annoying. But what happened over time is that my brain got used to those sounds and started to filter them out. Yea, brain!! It’s kind of fascinating that how your brain just gets used to what’s important to hear and what isn’t.

With the pandemic, I haven’t really been wearing my hearing aid much. (Ok, at all…) I have heard stories of people who lost their hearing aids when removing their masks. At $3700 for one aid, there’s no way I want to risk losing it. Also, I’m home all day. David is working; Ethan is doing his college thing. So there isn’t much to listen to. A hearing aid can cause discomfort; for me, it bothered the bone behind my ear, so it was just more comfortable to not wear it.

Since I had an appointment, I thought I should try to wear it a few days beforehand. Oh boy! What a difference. It was right back to those loud sounds from Day One in 2015. We have a new humidifier in the house and suddenly, all I could hear was “whoosh”ing, and all sorts of other mechanical sounds. It was like I was starting from scratch.

When I don’t wear it, despite the comfort, I do tend to struggle with background noises more often. Those noises block my ability to hear my family speaking, especially if the noise is in between us. And I’m sure they get tired of hearing me say “I can’t hear you.” I also hear things, usually those mechanical sounds, that I can’t identify and it drives me a little batty, a bit like Horton!

When I return in April, I will have a hearing test to see if my hearing has worsened at all. I think I was supposed to have that yesterday but for whatever reason he said he couldn’t do it. It ended up being a pointless trip, but at least I got a reminder about why it’s important to wear my hearing aid more often.

This cold, cold day was perfect for some Vegan Stew and Dumplings! Nothing beats dumplings with some nice gravy and veggies! Enjoy!

IMDb: Horton Hears a Who (2008)

One Year

A year ago today I was at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia having surgery for my breast cancer recurrence. It’s so hard to believe it’s been a year already. 2020 was one of those years that flies by and feels like like 100 years at the same time. So much has happened in the world that this anniversary wasn’t even on my radar until I was updating my 2021 calendar.

David and I had gone down to Philadelphia the day before, trying to enjoy ourselves for a bit and enjoy a nice dinner before I had to start fasting. The day of surgery included a whole lot of hurry up and wait, as we waited about 4 hours or so before things got started. Having a procedure done at a big teaching hospital is a very different experience than our local hospital, including lots of attention from nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, and surgeons. I did have two surgeons for this event – the oncology surgeon removed the cancer, and the plastic surgeon made everything look pretty.

The surgery went much longer than planned because they found more breast tissue than they expected. The plastic surgeon had expected to do a simple liposuction and remove the excess skin, but the prior surgeon had left behind 1-2″ of actual tissue. I wrote at the time that my Penn surgeons were shocked and horrified by this, but since that time, I am finding that it is more and more common. Most surgeons are in there to just remove the cancer, and that’s it. This makes no sense to me, especially when you ask and expect a specific result, AND especially when you are having a prophylactic breast removal. If there’s no cancer in it, how does the surgeon decide how much to take? All I can say is, if you ever need a mastectomy and expect a certain result without reconstruction, definitely go to a big city hospital and make sure you get someone who understands what you want.

Some day I may be brave enough to share before and after photos on this page, but not yet. I know women who share pictures very comfortably, but every time I think about it, I chicken out. Right now, my chest is enormously improved (and flatter) than after my first surgery. The only thing that takes some getting used to is that my rib cage is pretty exposed on my right side (the cancer side). To ensure I had clear margins, the surgeon was extra cautious and removed as much as she could. Now I basically have a rib cage with some skin over it. There’s not much, if any tissue, in between. So sometimes I freak out, thinking it’s a lump, and then I trace it and go “ok, it’s a rib! Whew.”

Following my surgery, I had drains to care for at home for a few weeks, a most uncomfortable situation. But outside of that, I am grateful that I did not require chemotherapy or radiation. I am just on my daily dose of Aromasin for 5-10 years. So far, the side effects are completely manageable.

So January 21, 2020, I restarted my clock. One year down.

The longer you can go cancer free, the better. I made it 7+ years after the first go-round. I’d love to break that record, and then some. But the fear is always lurking.

At dinner the night before my surgery in Philly. (City Tavern)

IMDb: One Year (2010)

The Hill

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said on this historic day, but I wanted to highlight two things that really touched me in some say.

First, regardless of your political affiliation, I think we need to acknowledge the significance of a woman in a national office. A woman as Vice President. As about 51% of the population of this country, we have been under represented in the country and I am over the moon to see representation of my gender at the highest levels of government. I can only imagine what it means to people of color. Representation matters. If you don’t have a seat at the table, then your needs are not being represented.

Secondly, Amanda Gorman. Wow. Just wow. When I think back to when I was 22 years old, I was not that confident, brilliant, or wise. (I’m still not.) Her poem was perfect for the moment we are in, and I share the full text here so that I can always find it and for those of you who may have missed it.

The Hill We Climb
"When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it."

Words to live by.

For the record, JLo and Lady Gaga were also amazing! Girl power!

IMDb: The Hill (1965)

Hot Chili

One of the things I like about winter is the simplicity in cooking. I love a good stew, soup or chili. Anything that cooks in one pot! One of my favorite chili recipes is this Pumpkin Chili. The pumpkin isn’t a strong flavor, but it gives the chili a nice, creamy texture.

This particular recipe calls for a 4 oz can of diced green chilies. Unfortunately, since I started my curbside pick up at Walmart last year, getting some of these more unusual ingredients is sometimes a challenge. (For the record, I am not a fan of Walmart, and their vegan stuff is limited, but they have been easiest and most convenient for me in this pandemic world. I am also saving a lot of money, but I do miss my Wegmans!)

I have often had to Google some substitution or another this past 10 months and so I did with my missing diced chilies, as well. I found a page that suggested poblano peppers were a good substitution. (Walmart has fresh poblanos but no canned diced chilies…?) The peppers needed to be roasted/blackened, with the skins then removed, and the remaining flesh diced. The suggestions for roasting including putting them under the broiler, grilling them on high, or just holding them over an open flame on the stove.

I thought the latter option seems like fun, and pretty easy, so that’s what I did. Luckily, I have a gas stove. I literally just sat the pepper on the stove grill and flipped it occasionally with my grilling tongs until it was blackened on all sides.

I put them in a bowl to let them cool and then I donned my latex gloves and peeled the skin off. I used my knife to scrape off some of the pieces, and then diced them up for my chili. It was actually super easy to do (although not quite as easy as opening a can…).

The chili itself comes together pretty easily, and it’s quite delicious! I serve it over rice, but you could put it over potatoes or any other grain you like.


IMDb: Hot Chili (1985)

MLK: Words That Changed A Nation

Martin Luther King Jr. had a way with words. His speeches were so inspiring, and there are so many poignant, meaningful quotes that many of us turn to, on this day and so many others. His messages are as important and impactful today as they were when he spoke them, all those decades ago.

I thought on this day, celebrating the great MLK, I would share a few of my favorite quotes:

“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what’s important.”

As a three time cancer survivor, I can really relate to this one. Not knowing if/when my cancer would return, and how it would impact my quality of life, I do my best to life life to the fullest. When meds impacted my life negatively, I opted to stop those medications. Fewer, better quality years were more important to me than a long life of pain.

To give you the context of this quote, the rest of it is “If you are cut down in a movement that is designed to save the soul of a nation, then no other death could be more redemptive.”

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

I’m not sure if I’m a forgiving person, or just a forgetful person, but I’m not big on grudges. Very often I forget any grievances, but many times, I just let it go. Most things, in the grand scheme of life, are not worth carrying around. It just drains you of joy.

The full quote reads: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

Which leads me to a quote that I think of often:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

While I could not locate the details of exactly where this quote is from, I believe it’s from his 1967 book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

I’ve never liked the word “hate”. I don’t even like to say things like “I hate Brussels sprouts”, preferring to say I don’t like them or don’t enjoy them. “Hate” just always seemed like such a strong word to me. And when I heard this quote, I could relate to trying to carry it (hate) around with me as a burden. It feels so heavy. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to always choose empathy, understanding, kindness, and yes, love, whenever I can.

Do you have a favorite quote from Dr. King? Please share!

IMDb: MLK: Words That Changed A Nation (2011)