My Big, Fat, Vegan Family Dinner

I have recently transitioned from trying to be semi-vegan, to trying to be fully vegan. I guess that still makes me semi vegan, but now I putting more effort into making my meals all animal free instead of planning to eat meat with dinner or when eating out. I truly believe it is the healthiest option, but I still struggle from time to time. I also don’t want to become a preachy, “extreme” vegan. Its everything that I hate about Christianity, so I’m not going to become that kind of vegan. My husband is on board with “trying it out” he tries and likes most of my vegan cooking and is open to having more vegan meals, he is not committed to becoming fully vegan and I have no intentions of forcing him. We were visiting our home town before heading off to Otakon in DC, so I decided to show my family that being vegan can be delicious and not a sacrifice.

I discussed my reasoning for being vegan. I get into a civil discussion with my dad about how veganism is beneficial for diabetics. He is all about keto and low carb. I informed him that I diet rich in whole grains, and whole food carbohydrates in moderation is good for everyone including diabetics. He refused to believe myself or the science based research I presented to him. He also discredits his argument because he doesn’t want to eat pasta, corn, or potatoes, but enjoys chips, candy, and ice cream. That’s his idea of moderation. He also drinks sugar free energy drinks. UGH! So instead of diabetes, he gets cancer. But, there’s no winning because we are one in the same and will argue our point to the death before admitting the other is right. He did agree to try to soup and appetizer part of the meal. He did not eat the entree or dessert, because it would be “too many carbs”.

These are the dishes I served for my cousin, sister, aunt, mother, and father:

Corn Chowder

corn chowderThis was the first dish I served and the unanimous favorite. I cooked chopped potato, celery, onion, and corn in the crock pot with vegetable stock. I took 2/3 out and pureed with almond milk then return to the pot. Those swirls you see in the bowl is smoked paprika, the ingredient that made the dish, no bacon required.

 

 

“Krab” Cakes

krab cakesThis was the second favorite item on the menu. I made this from hearts of palm and jackfruit. There is also lemon juice, chives, mustard, vegan mayo, bread crumbs, and old bay seasoning in them. On the side is a vegan remoulade.

 

 

Baked Pasta

This dish started out as a lasagna, then a skillet lasagna, then just baked pasta, because it pastacan’t really be lasagna without lasagna noodles. It was my least favorite dish because the cashew cheese was not as smooth as a wanted. Before being vegan and allergic to dairy, I was a cheese-a-holic. Now I’m finding when you’re using vegan cheese less is more.  But everyone else who ate it enjoyed it ( no pasta for Mr. Low Carb diet). There was eggplant, mushrooms, and zucchini with the pasta, sauce, and cashew ricotta and mozzarella cheese.

 

Key Lime Pie

Last but not least, you gotta have desserts. Learning that I was allergic to eggs and dairy is kind of what got me thinking about being vegan in the first place. I was having to piesearch for vegan desserts, side dishes, and snack so it seemed a common sense transition. The filling for the key lime pie is avocado, cashews, and almond milk. Agave nectar, vanilla, lime juice, and zest are added for flavor. The crust is made from walnuts, almonds, and dates. The purple swirls you see are blackberries pureed with some of the filling. Making this again I won’t use as much milk. This will stop in from being so icy when frozen, and hopefully stop it from melting quickly into a puddle due to the high liquid content.

 

I served this meal with the most love I have ever put into food. My hope is too get people thinking that this is a way of life that will be beneficial for their bodies as well as their taste buds. I’m using the ol’ “catching more flies with honey than vinegar” tactic. Hopefully it will catch on, if not I’ll continue leading by example, and at least taking the animals out of one meal every once in a while.

 

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My 2nd Big Chop

I did the unthinkable. After almost seven years of trying to grow my hair as long as it could get, I cut most of it off. There was a time for about a year after my son was born that I was cutting my hair to get all the red dye out, so essentially within the seven years I’ve been natural, I’ve grown my afro twice. My first big chop the initial big chop in which I went natural. I transitioned for a few months and then cut it off leaving me with a TWA (tiny, weeny, afro). This big chop was different and similar. Both big chops were done for the same cause; I was tired of dealing with my hair. short cut

When I first decided to go natural I was going to transition and slow trim away my relaxed hair. I was getting corn rows, doing braid outs, twist outs, and roller sets to blend my natural and relaxed hair. The thing you have to understand is that I have a lot of VERY thick hair, so I was getting tired of all that work all the time. So the day before my birthday December 16th, of 2010, I did the big chop and became completely natural.

Fast forward to present time. I’m working, married, and a mother. Once again the maintenance of my hair was becoming overwhelming. Styles that were easy for most naturals to achieve were nightmares for me because a have entirely TOO much hair. I know it sounds crazy, but I have never come across someone with hair as thick as mine. It pretty long too, not the longest, but the length combined with the thickness creates a wash day hell. I just no longer had the time and patience to deal with it. Even the quintessential puff was difficult for me. There is no pony tail holder alive that can hold my hair, I used a tightly wound stocking to make my puff, which results in a headache within 2 hours. Braids were ok, once they’re in but its still time and/or money. Plus, because of the thickness of my hair I was left with so many braids that my only style options were low pony, all out, or half up styles. I could not do the cute buns that everyone does with their box braids and twists. Something had to give.

I thought I figured out a solution. I would get locs. That would mean I could easily wash my hair and go. But this dream fizzled as began to think once again about time and money for maintenance whether they were professionally done or not. There was also the braid issue again. With locs I would have the same issue once they grew out. I’d have a ga-zillion locs on my head I could do nothing with. The loctician I was consulting with suggested interlocking which would reduce the density of the locs and make them more manageable. But this seemed risky as research showed that it could be potential unhealthy, and I was not prepared to deal with the price of getting and maintaining them.

The biggest question I’ve been asked since cutting my hair is “what did your husband say?” Actually this was all his idea. He heard me toiling over this for days on end, when one morning during our pillow talk he said, “why don’t you just cut it?” I asked “do you really think I could pull that off?” He replies, “of course, you’re the most beautiful person I know, and you have a perfect shaped head.” I really didn’t think so, but I trusted him, and it turns out he was right. I really love this look. We joke about it now, because around the time I did it I starting watching “Orange is the New Black”, and my favorite character is Poussey (RIPūüėĘ) . I currently have a tapered fade, but he says I should cut it all the way low like her. I’m not opposed to the idea, but for right now I think I’ll keep at least a few curls at the top.

I plan on playing around and having some fun with it, something I could not do with my long hair. I’ve gotten some parts on the side, I want to get a design in the back next. Maybe I’ll keep it tapered but grow it out on the sides for a couple months before fading it down again. I’ve watched you tube videos about how to do easy finger coils with a brush. Earrings have a whole new meaning now! The possibilities are endless. The best feeling in the world was the next day when I took a shower, co-washed my hair, and just went. I could literally do a true “wash and go” again, like when I first big chopped my hair. Its crazy how a feel like a have more freedom with less hair on my head, its completely liberating.

 

Otakon 2017: Our Adult Christmas

Every year my husband and I look foward to Otakon like a kid does Christmas. This was the first year it was held in Washington, DC; rather than Baltimore, MD. For us it would be a whole new adventure because we usually stay with our brother who lives in Baltimore and knows it like the back of his hand. This year we booked a room in The Westin, a .6 mile walk from the convention center, and our brother caught the train from Baltimore. The trip was great.  There were some bumps in the road but the excitement of Otakon was more than enough to cover that. Here are some of the highlights of our trip!

otakon grin
My traditional 1st day of Otakon grin

Gaming Room

The two places we spend the most time during Otakon are the game room and dealer room. There are long tables on one side of the massive room with chargers for handhelds as well as phones. This is perfect for charging my phone, resting my feet, and even taking a little nap. My husband usually finds Naruto or Injustice; our brother, Halo, Gundam, or some cool retro gaming system. As for me I don’t game a lot. I may play around on a fighting game like mortal combat, Naruto, or Injustice, but I get serious when it comes to Just Dance. We had not bought the newest, Just Dance 2017, but I still dominated whenever I came over. I play different than most. I don’t just play to win, I play to groove. Otakon ain’t never seen a nerd with rhythm like me. I usually play for an hour per day, that along with all the walking gives me a decent calorie burn to offset the extra eating.

Dealer Room

This year we did not get a lot from in the dealer room in terms of quantity. I usually go to find some unique graphic t-shirts that will stand out from my normal JC Penney and Old Navy collection. I also look for my traditional Harry Potter gift for my sisters birthday in September (which I did find, but am not going to disclose just in case she reads), a gift for my son, and some kind of Sailor Moon collectible for my cousin. The dealer room seem to be a little lacking this year. They had some awesome stuff, but it didn’t feel like there was as much. Maybe some of the dealers that usually come to Baltimore couldn’t make it to DC. But what we did find became the highlight of the whole trip. We got stainless steel wedding bands engraved in…..ELVISH! They were an early anniversary gift for each other as our anniversary is TOMORROW! It was perfect; we condensed the Dr. Seuss

rings
Our “Rings of Power”
quote from our wedding program:  “We’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness called love.” The perfect description of our relationship. Our brother also got a ring engraved in Draconic.

Panels

I am usually the one that finds the good panels.  Maybe its because I am the newest to anime so I am eager to learn. On Friday we attended “Anime vs Hollywood”—Whitewashing. It gave some interesting perspectives. The most profound being how World War II affected American comics vs Japanese manga and anime. America was the “winner” and therefor comics showed incredible heroes but was also heavily censored only showing positive images. Whereas, Japan was the “loser” and their animation was deeper and darker, a quality I enjoy.  Saturday we wen to “Skin Deep: Diversity in Japanese Pop Culture. It mentioned some of the same ideas, but also broke down how different groups are stereotyped in anime, manga, and video games. They included: East Asians, Europeans, Americans, Blacks, others (hispanics, muslims, etc.), LGBTQ, and persons with disabilities. Once again eye opening. These were sadly the only panels I was able to attend due to time overlapping with other events and meal times.

Cosplay

One day I’ll start cosplaying myself, I’ll start with sometime simple like punk Storm with a white “fro-hawk. My family jokes and says that if I cosplay they aren’t waiting for me while people take pictures. I hope to cosplay good enough that people will want pictures. Until then I’ll just marvel at the creativity and hard work of others. There’s not much a can say about the cosplay, so I’m just going to include some of my favorites below. Enjoy!

Eateries

When Otakon was in Baltimore we usually tried to eat as much as possible as our brothers house and maybe get some snacks here and there. Being that the Baltimore convention center was with next to the ball fields there were the hot dog vendors that usually sold at the baseball and football games there available for a cheap lunch of hot dogs, sausages, fries, or chicken sandwiches. In DC we were able to find some reliable places. Our regular breakfast and lunch spot was the West Wing Cafe. They had sandwiches, wraps, soups, and plenty of vegan options for me. For breakfast I’d get a smoothie and lunch I got a Korean Bibimbap salad with tofu. For dinner Friday night we went to a burger spot called Bolt Burgers. They had the best french fries EVER! I got a black bean burger with added curry spice and it was divine. I’m not sure if it was because of all the business they were getting but they seemed to be giving everyone (with regular burgers) double patties. My husband and brother got two, even though when asked they said they only wanted one. Oh well, I’ll accept a freebie anytime.

Saturday nights meal, though an adventure, was another highlight of the trip. In Baltimore our signature Saturday evening dinner had been “Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.” on the harbor. We wanted to find something in DC that could replace it and were leaning towards an Asian spot. After searching Google maps for reviews of nearby places when decided on a place called “Chaplin’s”. We did not realize it was the Saturday evening hot spot. We walked through the doors exactly as a thunderstorm dropped all the water from the heavens only to find that without a reservation it would over a 2 hour wait. We waited in the crowded entrance trying to figure out our next course of action. My husband was getting “hangry” and said lets just get an Uber and go to the burger place. I was disappointed and did not want to settle for that. We got an Uber to the burger place, but decided to walk to nearby Chinatown. The rain had died down an we had a back up restaurant there in Chaplin’s didn’t work out. We got there only to discover that it had been rented out for a private party. Across the street was a small restaurant Reren Lamen & Noodles. I was assuming that Lamen meant “ramen”, so we decided to check it out. It was PERFECT we found our official Saturday evening dinner spot. My husband got the Kung Po beef lamen, I got the Buddah style tofu lamen, and our brother got Shrimp fried rice (basic I know, but it was the best). We ordered some dumplings to share as an appetizer and my husband and I ordered alcoholic drinks. The price was VERY reasonable and the food impeccable. My only change will be to next time ask if I can get some of the spiciness of my husband’s beef based broth in my mushroom broth. I saw that they had an article in the Washington Post so I looked it up, the article explains the owners Chinese roots and why it calls their noodles “lamen” rather than “ramen”. Check it out if you have the chance.

All in all it was an epic trip. Somethings I will do next time are possibly flying or taking a train and using cabs/Uber rather than dealing the garage parking or getting tickets. We will also be leaving Monday rather than Sunday so we can take advantage of all 3 days. My husband and I will do Otakon boot camp so we can wake up earlier and stay up later in order to maximize our time to hit all the events we want. Until then I will fill the void soaking up all the anime I can and attending local statewide cons. Now I will begin marking my calendar until Otakon 2018, August 10th-12th.

Perm Rod Roller Set

This past week I did a roller set on my hair for the first time since I’ve been fully natural. When I had a relaxer my mom did them for me regularly. It was also a go-to style while I transitioned, because it hid the 1-2 inches of new growth very well. I’ve had roller sets done a couple of times at a salon since going natural, but this is the first time I attempted by myself. I debated whether I would use flexi-rods or perm rods. After I quick #askfb, I decided on perm rods. Here are the steps I took to achieve my curls:

1. Wash & Condition

I did my regular wash day routine. It took a little TLC, because I had may hair twisted previously. I did not take the twist out prior to wash day, so there was some work involved in getting my hair untwisted. I did a pre-poo hot oil treatment with avocado oil, washed with my Organix Coconut Milk shampoo, detangled with Aussie Moist, and used my DIY deep conditioner recipe. I let the deep conditioner sit on my hair for an hour then washed it out continuing the detangling process in the shower.

2. Partial Air Dry

After I got out of the shower I put my hair into 6-8 braids so it could partially air dry while I did some chores. My hair is very thick so if I wanted it dry by the next day it could not be soaking wet when I put the rollers in.

3. Roll it up

I was intending to blow dry the sections a little more with cool air, but I got lazy roller set natural hairand impatient. I decided the air drying would be enough and I started rolling my hair. I could not figure out the best method of rolling it, I experimented with a few different ways and based on the outcome I would know how to do it in the future. Most of my hair was simply sectioned and rolled. There were a few spot where decided to twirl my hair as if I was doing bantu knots and then roll it. An others I only twirled the ends and then rolled the rest of the section regularly. I think the twirled ends methods has the best outcome. I will do it like this if I try it again. I did find it difficult to get the rollers snugly against my scalp. I had to re-roll a lot because they would start to hang. I rolled the front 2 rows facing forward so those curls would hang down in my face. It took me about 2 hours to roll it all up.

4. Let it Dry

This step was simple enough, I just went about my normal Sunday activities while nature did the rest. I thought about going to my sisters to get her hooded dryer, buying a bonnet dryer, or using my hand held dryer. I’m just so used to my hair still being damp when I get up in the morning. But I decided not use the heat and let it air dry on its own.

5. Taking out the curls

That morning I woke up at my regular time, but I did not work out. I used that time to take out the rollers. I was also afraid that the sweat would mess it up, before I even took it out. I uncurled it using a little coconut oil on my fingers. I simple took out the rollers first, then I fluffed and separated the curls a little. I didn’t to separate it too much, because I wasn’t looking for the puffy affect.

Reflections

When I do it again I will definitely twirl the ends before rolling up the hair. The sections that I did that with did not have fuzzy ends. I think it was a success for my first time. It wasn’t the sleek curls I was hoping for, but it was still cute. Next time I will either buy my own or borrow a hooded dryer. I will also use smaller rollers,  I think I’d prefer tighter curl. I think that will achieve the look I was after. Although, I sometimes feel like I don’t have the skill to get salon quality results. Its still good to understand how to style my hair myself. That day I sported my hair with pride. It was the start of a health unit, so as a PE teacher that normally sports yoga pants and a t-shirt, I was excited about looking nice.  I got many compliments on my hair as well as my “Tulle” colourpop ultra matte lipstick I wore that day. My roller set couldn’t have been too bad. What do you all think? How do you do your roller sets for optimal results?

pretty natural curls

 

The Week My Son Turned 3

March 14th, 2014, I was blessed with a 8 lbs 8 oz bundle of joy. This past Tuesday we celebrated the 3rd anniversary of his birth. We were originally supposed to have a big birthday party with about 20 family and friends in our hometown. Recently, we have been experiencing some car trouble and were unsure if they’d get fixed within the week to host said party, so we cancelled the bash. This week ended up being filled with celebration, exhaustion, and accomplishments. Here are the details.

car's 3rd birthday cake

Monday was regular enough except for the planning and preparation for the little get together we had in lue of the big birthday bash. I bought some juice, muffins, and made goody bags to leave at his daycare. I think its really sweet that his daycare teacher plans things for their birthday. When I told her the previous day that his birthday was tomorrow, she calmly replied “I know”. I’m not sure how typical it is for daycare providers to know and make plans for each child’s birthday, but I think that’s really special. Even if I had got too busy or something, Ana had it covered. Whenever I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, for the past month, his respond had been “strawberries”. ¬†I made a cake that was strawberry with confetti icing, and bought 2 pounds of frozen strawberries for his party that evening. Since its not strawberry season yet, I didn’t want to risk getting fresh ones. His party was supposed to be Disney’s “Cars” Themed. That week he started asking for a “Mator” and “Lightening McQueen”, so that night a Walmart, I found a Lightening McQueen T-shirt, wear that day, a Mator toy with a suction cup that allows him to actually tow (it doesn’t work that well), and a small Lightening McQueen toy that came with a set of race tracks. I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to make the cake that night, but I decided to wait until I got out of school so it would be fresh.

 

Tuesday was his big day, and while it is usually a struggle getting him out of the bed today he woke up excited for his “cupcakes” (muffins) at daycare and his McDonald’s party with Mator and Lightening McQueen. I invited my sister and his two cousins, and a friend of mine at work with her family, she has two kids as well. I baked the cake, but didn’t have a lot of time to let it cool, so it was covered with a glaze. It was still tasty. I called in to McDonald’s and ordered sweet tea, mcnuggets, fries, and mcdoubles for the group. I would sneak next door to get a burrito bowl from Chipotle, since there aren’t any viable vegan options at McDonald’s. We sang the Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday”, because for the past 2 years he cried when we sang the original. I discovered slow songs make him sad. He cries at other parties, as well as when he wear “Silent Night”. He enjoyed the new rendition and asked me to sing again when I was putting him to bed that night. This party was a great success. That was the party I originally planned to have, but as the date got closer I couldn’t resist doing the usually over the top family celebration. I’m not happy to need car repairs, but maybe it was for the best, because Xavier couldn’t have been more ecstatic.

The birthday part was over so I could relax, right…..wrong. I volunteered to be in our school musical, Suessical, as “The Cat and the Hat”. I absolutely enjoyed participating with the kids, but it was just horr

me as "the cat in the hat"
Me as “The Cat in the Hat”

ible timing. So I would have 4 performances in the next 3 days, and I did not know my lines yet. The kids would ask me during class….”Mrs. Marshall, do you know your lines yet?” I’d reply “Don’t worry about my lines, worry about actually singing out.” I did learn them relatively well enough to ad lib and not through everybody off. I was The Cat in the Hat, so it was my job to say off the wall stuff. We had performances after school at 6 pm Wednesday and Thursday, and two on Friday during the day. ¬†There was a morning performance Friday for the neighboring elementary school and that afternoon for our middle school student body. All the kids were most nervous to perform in front of all their peers, and to be honest so was I. Friday I had more than one person say to me “I know you’re glad it over, you look tired”. I would say, “gee, thanks”.

 

The day of Thursday performance I was not at work because my son had his 3 year well visit. At this visit the doctor diagnosed him with……Asthma. It seems his stomach bugs that he’s been getting for the past year are probably reactions to food allergies, and his cough that he’s had for the past couple weeks are asthma. The doctor started putting the pieces together as I was telling her about all the different symptoms, paired with the family history of my allergies, my father’s asthma, and a listen to his chest which reveal wheezing. He has also had eczema since he was a baby. They all pointed to asthma. He has an appointment with an allergist to find possible triggers and a follow up with his pediatrician in two weeks. ¬†So his belated birthday gift from the doctor was an inhaler and spacer. He’s sometimes reluctant to let me use it. So I showed him a few cartoons of Baine using the mask with medicine to give him muscles of powers, and that did the trick.

3 years vs 9 months well visit
3 years vs 9 months-well visit

I was informed by my cousin that my sister and mother were planning a surprise visit since we couldn’t come up there this weekend. I’m glad she let me know, because that kind of surprise was the last thing I needed this week. Once I knew about it, I was happy. I’m always happy to visit or get a visit from my family. But had I not known I would not have been able to clean and make sure my home was presentable; rather than lake a tornado, blizzard, hurricane, all dropped at once. To top it all off, I never did get those car repairs. It just wasn’t the week to have to coordinate dropping off and picking up a car. Along with either renting or borrowing a car while my was getting repairs. I know that shaking, smoking smell, check engine light flashing is really, really bad, but the mechanic said I could drive on it, so I’ll handle it next week when to dust had settled.

So yes, my son turned 3. And I could not be more happy and proud of the young man he is becoming. Being a mother never gets easy, but just like this week we will all get through it, somehow, together.

 

My Top 8 Vegan Restaurant Options

It is a constant struggle to get good, healthy, vegan food whilst eating out. It is especially difficult when you have a family that is not also vegan. I don’t like succumbing to only fries and a side salad. ¬†For one, french fries aren’t healthy and at many restaurants they aren’t vegan. After transitioning to a plant based diet after New Year here are some of my more satisfying meals. Most are from national chains, but there are a few local and/or regional favorites here.

vegan eating out

1. Chipotle

I love Chipotle. I think almost everybody does. I actually have never actually had a burrito. Before it was because I was trying to do a low carb/paleo diet, now it is due to my wheat allergy. Also, the food is so filling I can’t imagine adding a huge tortilla into the mix. I typically get either the salad or a burrito bowl with brown rice. I get the sofritas with black beans, lettuce, onions & peppers, every salsa the offer, and guacamole. Before became vegan I had a love-hate relationship with beans, but I of course have had to let that go. I don’t like relying on a lot soy products for my protein so I switched to getting the veggie bowl instead of sofritas. I get both black beans and pinto beans and the biggest plus is that guacamole is FREE!

2. Taco Bell

I know fast food is not healthy period, but sometimes you can’t get around it. Taco bell is like the generic Chiptole for me. I either get black bean tacos, fresco style, with guacamole. Or the power bowl without sour cream, cheese, or avocado cream, and extra guacamole. With both meals I get a side of pintos without cheese. I would like it if they did like chipotle and gave guacamole for free if your getting no meat or dairy. I mean, they could at least give me that.

3. Chic-fil-a

I feel better about getting Chic-fil-a for myself and my family because they have been rated as one of the best fast food restaurants as far as hormones, pesticides, and GMOs, etc, are concerned. I usually get a large super-food salad that has kale, broccolini, nuts, and dried cherries. Or I will get their southwestern salad without chicken or cheese. I don’t get the salad a lot, because they will charge less without meat (some restaurants don’t), I still think its over priced.

4. Kimono Japanese (local)

This is a restaurant local to where I live, but I’m sure any hibachi place offers similar options. I get the spicy teriyaki dinner with tofu, mixed vegetables, and steamed rice. I made the mistake once of getting fried rice, I even remembered to ask for no egg, but I didn’t think about butter/margarine. I decided to go with steamed rice to be safe regardless. ¬†They offer many vegan sushi rolls including: avocado, cucumber, sweet potato, mushroom, and veggie. I get the veggie which included avocado,cucumber, and asparagus. Asian is always a good choice because their food is usually naturally dairy free and the vegan choices don’t leave me staring at my families food like a sad puppy dog. The same goes for Mexican or Hispanic food;as long as a have plenty of GOOD avocado or guacamole.

5. Carrabbas

The other weekend, my husband wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to get his favorite lobster ravioli from Carrabbas for take out. We had been avoiding it since I found out about my dairy allergy, but I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice. But I had to figure out something I could get that would be satisfying. They now have a gluten free pasta. So I got it, along with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, in olive oil and garlic. I added some nutritional yeast when I got home and it was delicious. This same could probably be done at any Italian Restaurant. Pasta with marinara sauce is usually safe, but I typically like something a little more adventurous.

6. Chili’s

I thought I was safe getting guacamole and chips, which also come with salsa. I got that when eating their with some coworkers. My dairy allergy let me know that it was not a safe vegan option as that evening I was camped out on the toilet (sorry TMI). After researching I found out their tortilla chips have dairy. This makes as much sense as french fries and hash browns with dairy, but somehow they find a way to mess it up. When I checked their website they say to get guacamole with flour tortillas. For one, who the heck even wants that, and for two I can’t due to my wheat allergy. So my go to meal from Chili’s is black beans and rice or the quinoa blend if I’m feeling super healthy. I may also get a side salad or guacamole and/or salsa. I know it seems a little lack luster compared to the other options I’ve listed, but I really, really enjoy their black beans, so it works for me.

7. Mozzarella Fellas (local)

This list is not in ranking order, but I did save the best for last. This the latest jewel that I’ve discovered in my city. My husband was missing the New York pizza place from our home town, and someone suggest them. ¬†I usually get a small veggie pizza without cheese from pizza places. If they have gluten free I get it, if not, I ignore my mild wheat allergy. When I checked then menu I was pleasantly surprised that they had several, not only vegetarian, but VEGAN options. They use Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Unlike the chain Mellow Mushroom, which I have not added to this list, because they use disgusting Daiya cheese. ¬†They also have a vegan ranch and cashew flakes they use in place of Parmesan cheese. The dishes I’ve tried thus far are the crab cakes made with artichokes and heart of palm, Fit for ¬†Queen margarita pizza, Bbq pizza made with jack fruit. What I like it that they realize that vegan cheese, even a superior brand, will never replace real cheese. So there pizzas are elevated with lots of other flavors. The vegan margarita pizza includes pickled red onions and a balsamic glaze. They Bbq pizza has bbq sauce, of course, jalape√Īos, and a ranch drizzle. This place is beyond awesome. My husband actually prefers another Italian Restaurant’s pizza over this place, but we compromise, because of their wonderful vegan options for me.

8. Smoothie King

Saturday mornings are traditional for fast food in my family. My husband loves McDonald’s breakfast but sometimes gets Bojangles or Taco Bell. We have a plethora of restaurants down the main road near our apartment. On the way to get his favorite fast food breakfast, I swing by smoothie king and get the Dark Chocolate Banana smoothie, with Kale. They always have a $1 off coupon on each receipt and I use the rewards to eventually get a free smoothie. Sometimes I treat my son to a Little Angel, their strawberry banana smoothie, or get a medium and share mine. I

I know there are many other options that are great for vegans, but this is what I’ve experienced thus far. I hope to find more places that will make eating out not such a pain. Or maybe I shouldn’t. The more tasty vegan options I find, the emptier my bank account is. What are some other good places you’ve found to be convenient and delicious options for vegans?

 

Logan: finally, after 17 years

LoganThe number 17 has been a significant number in my life. I was born on the 17th, as was my husband. He asked me to be his girlfriend on his birthday, which made our dating anniversary the 17th. My line number upon becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is 17. Our now wedding anniversary is August 17th, but that was done intentionally. My son was due March 25th, we thought “wouldn’t it be great if he was born on the 17th?”, but he wasn’t. He was born on the 14th…March 14th…..3/14…..3 + 14=17!!!!!! So I guess it was fate that I had to go through 17 years of waiting, until I was finally able to see a worthy Wolverine film. Don’t get me wrong he has been in some awesome X-Men films, but the solo Wolverine movies have been less than stellar. Thursday, we finally saw what all the hype was all about, and it was well deserved hype because Logan was spectacular.

I think this is the first time we’ve seen a movie within a week of its release since become parents. We were debating between seeing “Logan” or “Get Out”, both movies have been all the rage on social media, so I was faced with a choice…. “Do I please my inner nerd or my inner militant pro-black self?” I chose my inner nerd, as I always do when it comes to seeing movies in theaters. I prefer to see superhero, action, sci-fi movies in theaters. I’ll catch anything else on Netflix, Redbox, or maybe still the movies if another opportunity presents itself. It might be wrong but, sorry…not sorry.

The movie opened up and showed you what it was going to be all about. Wolverine’s limo was being stolen, while he was in it. He began to brutal beat the foolish cholos down in true Wolverine fashion. There was no sparing of blood and guts. It was completely raw and animalistic. You also saw that he obviously not his normal self, he had trouble retracting his claws and he was taking the beating worse than usual, but even still he was able to easily beat them until the survivors fled for their lives. The raw, goriness was what many Wolverine depictions in the past were lacking. I thought they were going to do it with “The Wolverine”, I never even saw that movie after I read so many abysmal reviews. I know we have the success of  “Deadpool”to thank for the “R” rating. For what ever reason, I’m glad we finally got what we were asking for.

For all the energy and ferocity Logan was lacking in his old age, we got it from Laura. I mean she was a relentless BEAST. Even X-24 couldn’t handle her. I believe it came from a combination of her upbringing as a weapon and the genetics she inherited from Wolverine. The other children were not like her. They fought when attacked and in order to save their lives, as did she, but it wasn’t the same. We barely got to see their powers. Although I did catch that Rictor, the supposed leader, had Magneto’s power.  I think her energy will replace Wolverine’s in future films if that is the intention; I will however still miss Wolverine and Hugh Jackman. For one, Wolverine is the most popular X-men, and one of the most popular superheroes period. Also, 17 years of my 28 of life have been with Jackman as Wolverine. But I think that would be another reason not to recast him for a while.

This was an extremely emotional movie. You had so many circumstances involved here. Its the last film with Jackman as Wolverine, most of the beloved X-man characters are dead, the patriarchal Professor X is but a fraction of his normal self, children are being bred, experimented on, and now exterminated, and then of course the whole “daddy issues” theme between  Laura and Logan. One aspect of the movie that I did expect to hit close to home was Charles Xavier and his seizures. I heard that he had a seizure that killed all the X-men, but I didn’t know his condition would be such a big part of the film. You see, my husband has a seizure disorder and has since he was a child. There is no cure or treatment that has seemed to help with it. So seeing Wolverine caring for the ailing Professor, forcing him to take medication, stabbing him with the anticonvulsant, and having that medicine make him a lesser version of himself struck a nerve. My husband and I will forever have the joke now of Charles sticking his tongue out when Logan demands to see that he’s taken his medicine. Although it was extremely emotional to watch, that tear jerking effect is how you know its a good movie.

“Logan” was not your average superhero movie. There was not a Earth threatening villain, and multiple X-men showing off their powers. It was personal. I only wish we had gotten this from every Wolverine film in the past. But I guess that had to experiment to get it just right so it could end with a “bang”, or in this case a “slash”. Hopefully moving forward they can make sure to bring this into every X-men film in the future.