Honest

I apologize for not posting since Tuesday. As y’all know, I had a naturopath appointment Tuesday evening to see what foods (if there are any) that aren’t agreeing with me. The appointment went well but also left me scared. But let me give you some background first.

Years ago, I would develop this really intensely itchy rash. It would start on my shins and you can see it grow as it climbed up my legs. I remember one Christmas, at my Dad’s, I had to use some calamine lotion. That gave me a bit of a relief but it didn’t give my mind any relief. I thought I was allergic to water because I had just taken a shower.

Fast forward another few years to 2012. I was still having this rash but this time it wasn’t confined to my legs. Sometimes it would start in my scalp and at other times, it’d start on my arms. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought I was allergic to our laundry detergent, my shower gel, my shampoo and conditioner, and my lotion. So, I changed all of them. I switched to a non-scented detergent and I switched out my body products, but nothing helped. The only thing I could do was take a Reactine. It’s an antihistamine here in Canada. It’s kind of like Claritin but it works WAY faster…like 20 minutes. It takes Claritin a day for it to work for me. I needed something to work fast with the rash. Reactine says on the box that it takes 20 minutes to work, and it does! So, here I am thinking I’m allergic to water or some specific ingredient in my body products that I just can pinpoint. So, all I could do was take a Reactine.

Then I found out I was pregnant with the little one at the end of 2012. I kept taking the Reactine throughout my pregnancy (my doc said it was safe to take). After the little one was born, he was a fussy baby. I had done some research online, the Hubs calls is self-diagnosing, and saw several results mentioning that dairy could cause gas and just all around not agree with your baby. So, at one of his checkups, I mentioned that we might think he’s colicky and should I cut out dairy to see if that works. The doc said it wouldn’t hurt. So, that’s what I did. I cut out all dairy. I noticed a change in myself immediately. I felt better and the rashes disappeared!! After all this time, it was dairy that was causing my rashes! The little one was still a bit fussy but we lived through it.

I would scour the ingredient list on everything I bought. I had a box of Lactaid at the ready if I just couldn’t resist something that had dairy in it. I always have a box of Reactine available too.

However, at the beginning of this year, the Lactaid stopped working for me. Then I started to develop some strange symptoms: I’d feel drunk after eating when I had no alcohol. I’d also get queasy too. I didn’t know what was wrong, and at the moment I still don’t. When I’d feel “drunk,” I’d feel a bit spaced out and if I looked somewhere I felt like my vision wasn’t quite caught up with my eyes. Does that make sense? It was like I was underwater. Looking back through my food diary, the only thing I can pinpoint the drunk feeling to is wheat. So, I’ve tried really hard to cut out wheat from my diet and I haven’t feel sick since I’ve done it.

There was one time on Valentine’s Day where I did get sick. We went to a vegan restaurant here in town and I had the butter “chicken” and waffles. The waffles were gluten-free but the “chicken” wasn’t. If you’re reading the labels of vegan meat, you know that there is wheat in them. So, that’s why I think I got sick. It was my own fault for not asking about the “chicken,” and I paid dearly for it. Two hours after I ate, I was sick as a dog for the rest of the day. I mean it hit me hard.

I went to my doctor and he sent me for a blood test to see if I’m allergic to the five common foods: milk, nuts, eggs, fish, and soy/wheat. Now, my doc had tested me for Celiacs in early 2012 because I was complaining of the rashes and that came back negative. So, this time I was expecting a result. With my doctor, if he doesn’t contact you, then everything is ok. It’s a “no news is good news” policy with him. Three weeks go by and I haven’t heard a word from my doc and I’m still feeling sick. So, I decided to bite the bullet and make an appointment with a naturopath. A few friends of mine have had great success with their naturopath, so I said why not?

The naturopath said that my doctor tested for the five common food allergies, but the test he ran was a very black or white one. So that explains why my doc never called back. The test that the naturopath did tests a two other immunoglobulins. So they get grayer and I’m hoping these will be able to pick up something. He also said that since I haven’t consumed dairy in a while the test that my doc did might not have picked it up. Which kind of makes sense.

I’ve been stressing about my strange illness since January. I’ve stopped running because I’ve been ill. My goal this year was to run in a 10k and a half marathon, but it’s looking like that might not happen. I don’t know. The Edmonton Marathon is in August. I’m hoping that I can find out what’s wrong so I can stop putting my life on hold, stop stressing, and so people won’t think I’m crazy and making this stuff up.

I shall keep y’all posted on the results. On a brighter note, I did buy some new makeup to that cheered me up some. There’s nothing like makeup that can lift my spirits. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I can think of a few other things that would cheer me up. Anyways, tonight we’re having potato and chive soup. So, I’ll post that tomorrow.

Happy Saturday everyone!

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Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole

I had one eggplant sitting on my island in the kitchen that was leftover from the eggplant roll up dinner. It was good timing that I used that eggplant last night because it was really ripe. If I would’ve waited a few days to use it, it would have probably gone bad. I have a love/hate relationship with eggplant. I’ll eat it but I just won’t go out of my way to eat it. The Hubs and I agree on this vegetable. Even though it’s full of nutrients, it’s the texture that puts us off.

I found this recipe while I was browsing Pintrest and thought that the photo made it look good. The roll up recipe said to sprinkle salt on the eggplant to draw the moisture and bitterness out. This recipe said to soak it in salted water.

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While those were soaking, I worked on the quinoa. This recipe explains that you’ll only need about one cup of uncooked quinoa to get two cups of cooked quinoa. Not like I did with the lentils the other day.

So, I followed the directions and added two cups of water for the quinoa. You cook quinoa like rice…bring it to a boil and let it simmer. I let the quinoa cook and then got to work on the vegetables.

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I’ve learned that the quickest way to chop up an onion is to half it and then slice it horizontally. You keep slicing it horizontally until you get to the top.

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Once you get to the top, then you’ll slice it vertically all the way across.

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Then you can go ahead and chop your onion like normal and this is out it will come out. Cool huh?

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Next, I worked on the basil. I love the way fresh basil smells. When you chop basil, or any fresh herb, just roll them up and slice.

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While I was cooking the vegetables, the quinoa was done. All I did was just fluff it with a fork to make sure it was fluffy and done. Then you toss all the eggplant, basil, and tomato sauce together. You’re supposed to let it simmer but I didn’t because I got supper started late and the little one kept running in the kitchen to tell me he was hungry.

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Now, the next step is to “toast” your quinoa in another pan. I had problems with this step. You’ll have to be careful because the quinoa will stick to the bottom. This is what the bottom of my pan looked like.

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When you mix everything together, I used nutritional yeast to make our dish vegan and dairy free. If you choose to use regular parmesan, then by all means do what makes your mouth and stomach happy. Then I topped it with nutritional yeast and let everything bake.

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I didn’t have time to brown the top by broiling it. Anyway, I think that’s a step if you’re using parmesan and not nutritional yeast. This is how it came out.

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When you think about it, the eggplant replaces the chicken (in chicken parm) and the quinoa replaces the pasta. This dish wasn’t bad, but that’s just because I’m not a huge fan of eggplant. The little one didn’t like eggplant at all with this dish. We just had to take the eggplant out of his plate. Well, I made it, we all tried it, and we’ve all made our decision. You’ll never know until you try, right? That’s exactly what we did. Some of y’all out there might actually like it. Who knows. Using parmesan might be the thing that makes this dish. You’ll never know until you try. In my case, unfortunately, I can’t try it with parmesan.

Tonight we’re having vegan pho. The Hubs will be cooking because I have an appointment with a naturopath to try to figure out what’s making me ill once and for all. So, we’ll see!

Puttanesca Sauce with Fried Capers

Last night the Hubs cooked a puttanesca sauce with capers and spaghetti squash. Did I mention that he likes spaghetti squash? I’m still trying to come around to it. I’ll eat it but I’m not a huge fan of it.

Puttanesca means whore in Italian. So, this is a whore’s sauce, which tastes pretty good if you don’t mind me saying. The version we used from Vegetarian Times was good.

The Hubs cooked/roasted the spaghetti squash first since that takes about a good 30-40 minutes. You’ll slice the squash length wise and it kind of looks like the inside of a pumpkin. You’ll need to scoop all of that messy stuff out.

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When you’re done cleaning it out, you’ll drizzle some olive oil on it and sprinkle salt and pepper and then pour a little bit of water into the pan. Then pop it into the oven.

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When they’re done cooking, you just drag a fork across the flesh and it comes out looking like spaghetti. Pretty simple huh? For the longest time I was scared of doing it because I thought it was too difficult. Then one day I just decided to go for it and the rest is history.

However, I’m skipping ahead in the recipe. Oops!

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While the squash was cooking, you’ll need to fry up the capers. Capers are great. I just love them. Maybe because they’re a bit salty and vinegary. The first time I cooked with them was when I was using a Jamie Oliver recipe (before I became a vegan). Until now, I didn’t know that the little capers were actually buds of a flower. It’s true. Look it up on Wikipedia (because Wikipedia is the gospel truth for everything).

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Then you’ll cook your red onion, tomatoes, and basil. This recipe was supposed to have Kalamata olives but the Hubs isn’t a fan of olives so he left them out. It just looks Italian doesn’t it? It did smell good while he was cooking too. I was with the little one who was trying to color in his Peppa Pig coloring book with an ink pen.

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Then the Hubs threw in the spaghetti squash and tossed everything together.

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The Hubs cooked penne for the little one because he’s definitely not a fan of spaghetti squash. But this is how the final product looked for us adults.

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I would definitely have this dish again, but I’d add in the Kalamata olives. The little one liked his supper as well. I’m also toying with the idea of adding sausage or some Italian meat for the Hubs and little one next time too.

Tonight we’re having eggplant parmesan quinoa casserole. I have an eggplant left over from the eggplant roll ups. I bought two but just used one that night. So, I’ve got to use up the other eggplant before it goes bad. We’ll see how this one turns out.

Happy Monday!

Sloppy Joes

Last night, I made sloppy joes. I used ground beef for the Hubs and little one, but I used lentils for my version. If you’ve never thought about it or never knew, PETA has some pretty good recipes on their site. I found the sloppy joe recipe there. I’ve never made sloppy joes with lentils, so I was eager to try it out.

I couldn’t remember how to cook lentils because it’s been such a long time. I couldn’t remember if it’s like cooking couscous or rice. So, I found this guide from The Kitchn. PETA’s recipe called for one cup of cooked lentils. So, I got one cup of uncooked lentils to prepare.

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I let my lentils cook for the full 30 minutes and I did have to add water two times. But on the other hand, when my lentils were done cooking I had to drain some water out. So, if you’re cooking them using this guide, then keep an eye on the water level. Also, when a recipe calls for a certain amount of cooked lentils, know that if you have uncooked lentils you’ll have to half it. The sloppy joe recipe called for one cup of cooked lentils. I got one cup of uncooked lentils and ended up with about two cups when they were done. So, next time, I’ll only use 1/2 cup of uncooked lentils and hopefully that’ll come out right. Below is how they looked when they were done cooking.

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When they were done cooking, I went ahead and cooked the ground beef for the Hubs and little one. One of the things I don’t miss about cooking meat is draining the fat off. I’ve always hated it because it’s just gross.

When the beef was done cooking, I went ahead and chopped up my green onions (scallions or spring onions) and tomatoes.

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And yes, I actually measured out one cup of chopped tomato. I ended up using almost all of this tomato. OH! One thing I’ve run across lately is when you’re shopping for fresh tomatoes, make sure you look where the stem used to be. I’ve seen a few tomatoes with mold in this part in some grocery stores. Maybe it’s because they’re shipped in from so far, I don’t know, but look out for this when you buy tomatoes.

After the chopping was done, I gathered my ingredients for the sauce.

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Because I was making two sets of meat for this recipe, I had to make the sauce and then divide it amongst the lentils and beef to simmer. I also had to double up the recipe for the sauce to get the right amount. I followed the recipe and then realized it wasn’t going to be enough for the beef and lentils. If I was just making the beef or just the lentils, the sauce might have been enough. But I grew up having really sloppy sloppy joes. This is not a clean dinner to have.

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I served this with fries and on regular hamburger buns for the Hubs and little one. I used a gluten-free bun for mine. The lentils weren’t bad. Next time I’ll just have to make more of the sauce. That’s my only complaint.

Tonight I didn’t have anything special planned and I can’t really be bothered to go out to the grocery store. So, I think we’re just going to have fried rice tonight. Since we’re going to have fried rice tomorrow will be a no-post day.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Lemon Risotto

Today started off pretty good. I actually woke up before the little one!! I had to get up a little earlier than usual because I had an appointment with a local women’s shelter to drop off a bag full of jeans that I can’t fit anymore. They’re all jeans that are too big. I was going to contact a local consignment store to see about selling them. Then the Hubs suggested donating them. I didn’t feel too comfortable with donating them to a place that would resell them. I wanted them to go to a place that would go directly to the people who needed them. So, I thought about a shelter for abused women because they usually arrive at the shelter with what they’re wearing or what they can carry. So, I felt good about that.

Last night, we had lemon risotto that the Hubs made. My back was acting up all day yesterday. A few years ago, I slipped on our ice-covered deck steps and fell. The fall resulted in two discs that are now out of place. Sigh. So, while he made supper, I sat on the couch with a pillow with the little one watching The Backyardigans.

I love risotto but I hate cooking it. It’s just a lot of work in my opinion. You have to keep stirring and add the broth in increments. So, whenever we have it I make the Hubs cook it.

I found a Lemon Risotto recipe from Williams Sonoma a while ago, but it’s not vegan. That shouldn’t stop you though. You can always veganize a recipe if you really like it. For instance, you can use vegan butter instead of regular butter, you can make your own buttermilk, you can substitute eggs, use vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth, and you can substitute meat.

Risotto is just rice. You stir and stir and stir and add broth until the rice is creamy. This recipe called for shallots which is in the onion family. They’re just smaller and a milder than a regular onion. When I came over to take photos, the Hubs had the vegetable broth warming on another eye. I asked why and he said it’s so it won’t shock the arborio rice. Huh. I’ve never heard of that before. I’ve never warmed the broth before. So, when I did a quick google, this site says “if it’s cold you will shock the rice, which will flake on the outside and stay hard at the core.” I’ve never experienced this before. So, I guess there are people out there who will warm their broth or wine (if you’re using it), and there are people who won’t (me).

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You have to add a little bit of the broth to the arborio rice and stir and stir until the broth is absorbed. Then you start the process again until you’re done with the broth.

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Then, once you’re nearing the end you’ll notice the rice grains starting to look “fluffy” and the rice is starting to get creamy.

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Of course the little one liked this dish. He loves rice…period. It’s in his blood since his grandmother is Korean. I thought this dish was lemony but not too lemony. I think the Hubs actually measure out the 1/2 cup of lemon juice the recipe called for. If it was me, I wouldn’t have measured. But then again, I didn’t cook and that why my lemon pasta dish was overly tart.

Tonight the Hubs is planning supper. I have no idea what we’re having, so tomorrow will be a break from posting. Friday I have vegan sloppy joes planned. Well, I’ll use ground beef for the Hubs and little one but for myself I’ll use lentils. I’ve never done vegan sloppy joes with lentils, so we’ll see how that turns out.

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Let me start off by giving one piece of advice. If you’re going to make this vegan mushroom stroganoff recipe, make sure you have all of your ingredients ready to go. I’ve made this dish once before and got a bit stressed out because you can’t really leave the pan alone for a second. This time I made sure to have everything ready.

There are several different versions of stroganoff out there. Before I became a vegan, the ones I’ve used called for Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is made with anchovies. So if you’re a true vegan, or trying to be a good vegan, you don’t want to consume fish. If you’ve ever tried to make a pad thai and googled fish sauce substitute, that’s why the results come up with Worcestershire sauce. The ingredients for this vegan stroganoff somehow gives off a slight Worcestershire taste even though there’s none of it in there.

Here the ingredients I used for the sauce. The recipe says “beef or vegetable broth,” and I find that funny because it’s supposed to be a vegan recipe.

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I chopped up the onion and put that aside, and then I worked on other parts of the sauce. You’ll have to mix in the broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, and lemon juice while you’re cooking the onions and the flour. This is why I got all of my stuff ready before hand because if you’re not careful you can burn the flour in the pan.

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Then you’ll need to add your mushrooms, sage, thyme, and salt. The last time I made this dish, I got whole mushrooms and then sliced them. You can buy sliced mushrooms, too, if you’d like. However, this time I got a wild hair up my rear end and decided to quarter them. Then I through in the sage, thyme, and salt. That way all I had to do was dump the plate into the pan.

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With this dish, as in the past, I cooked three different pastas. We were supposed to try spaghetti squash but the Hubs had a spin class at 7, so we decided to go with pasta because it’s quicker. I had my quinoa pasta on hand, so I was ok. I cooked enough pasta so everyone would have some for lunch the next day.

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So, here comes the part where you have to stay by your pan. You cook your onion and then you add the flour and mix. You can’t leave your pan at this point. Then you’ll add the broth mix, and wait for it to thicken a bit. Then add the mushrooms and spices. After that you can relax and leave your pan to go pee if you have to.

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And now this is my favorite part. This is the part where you add vegan sour cream. The sauce just takes on another life once you add it.

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This is when I was able to cook all three different pastas: fusilli for the Hubs, penne for the little one, and quinoa pasta for myself. The recipe says to mix your cooked pasta in with the sauce, but for obvious reasons I didn’t do that. I just spooned the sauce on top of the pasta in each plate. Below is the little one’s supper. He loves this dish.

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I did get a little sick last night, but only for a short while. I suspect it’s because I let the little one eat off of my fork while he was eating his pasta. I had some for lunch today and didn’t get sick, so I think it was the little one’s fault. Or my fault for letting him eat off my fork.

Tonight we’re having lemon risotto. It’s been SUCH a long time since we’ve had risotto and there’s only a few vegan versions that I like. The Hubs will be cooking tonight too. It’s been a bit of a rough start to today so I need a little break.

Eggplant Roll Ups

Did y’all have a good weekend? I hope y’all had a good Valentine’s weekend. The Hubs got me THE most awesomest present in the history of us being together. He got me a photo frame with a bunch of photos of the little one. It was, hands down, THE best present he has ever given me.

Then we had a Valentine’s Day lunch at a Noorish Cafe here in town. It’s a vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free restaurant. The food was fabulous. I had the butter “chicken” and waffles, the little one had mac and cheese, and I forget what the Hubs had. The little one inhaled his food and even ate some of mine. Whatever it was the Hubs had, it kept him full for a long time and he liked it. My dish was yummy. However, two hours after eating it I got sick. I think it was the “chicken.” The waffles were gluten-free, but I suspect the cause of me being sick was the “chicken.” Most vegan meats contain wheat in them, so that’s what I think it is. It’s totally my fault for not double checking with our server. With that said, I’d totally go back again and again and again.

Last night we had what I call Eggplant Roll Ups. It’s a recipe I got from the 22 Day Vegan Diet. I usually use lasagna noodles, but the Hubs wanted to try eggplant (which is what the recipe originally calls for). So, I gave it a try. My first time making this dish, I cut the eggplant into really thin slices so they burned when I roasted them. This time I followed the recipe. It’s amazing what happens when you follow the instructions.

Instead of ricotta cheese, the recipe calls for cashew cheese. It doesn’t sound too appealing, but, trust me, it is. The little one will eat it straight. The only thing is that you have to soak your cashews in water for at least four hours. So, I just set a reminder in my phone yesterday morning and then went about my day.

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When it was time to get dinner started, I cut the eggplant into half-inch slices (I followed the instructions) and put a bunch of salt on them and let them sit for 30 minutes. Apparently that draws out the moisture and removes the bitterness of the eggplant. Huh!

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You can see the little bubbles of moisture in the photo above. After sitting for half an hour, you blot them dry and roast them for 20 minutes.

While the eggplant was roasting, I got my cashew cheese ready. You drain the cashews and throw them into a food processor with garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, some water, and a bit of salt.

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You’ll want to process it until you get the consistency you want. You’re probably gonna have to scrape the sides a few times. I had to.

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Once you’re happy with your cashew cheese, you’ll add spinach to it.

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Because I was using eggplant this time, I decided to soak some toothpicks in some water. I soaked them in water because I didn’t want them to burn in the oven when I used them to hold the eggplant roll ups together. You’ll take about a tablespoon or so of the cashew cheese and spread it on each eggplant slice, roll them up, I secured mine with toothpicks, spoon a little pasta sauce (your choice) on each roll up, and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. I had to cut my baking time to 20 minutes because the little one was hungry.

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And here’s the finished roll up.

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I only sliced up one eggplant and ended up with five usable slices. One slice was sliced a bit too thin and burned. The Hubs and I had two roll ups each and the little one had one. Using the eggplant slices had two unexpected bonuses: 1) the little one ate eggplant! 2) I was surprisingly full on two slices.

Usually I can either take or leave eggplant. I’m not a huge fan but I will eat it. This dish is good though. I think maybe next time I’ll mix up using eggplant and regular lasagna noodles. I did have some cashew cheese left over, so I just used that as a sandwich spread for lunch (using gluten-free bread).

Tonight I have vegan mushroom stroganoff planned. The Hubs has suggested I use spaghetti squash with it, so that’s what we’re going to use instead of pasta. I’m going to cook pasta for the little one though. He’s not too big on spaghetti squash.

Happy Tuesday!