03 June 2018

Newport Coast

 Zach said this statue in front of the lobby was Jesus. 🙈😂

Taking in the views of the pool area and the ocean beyond.

Let the first vacation of the summer begin!

View from our patio. Cloudy but still wonderful to see the ocean.

It was too cold for the pool so we headed to the OC Zoo.

Our little bear, seeing how he stacks up.

Peacocks make the loudest mating calls.

The family surrey was so much fun!
We're waiting for the train to cross and yes, that is Father Serra ringing the bell. 😄

Underage drivers gone wild. 😜

It started raining and we were FREEZING but that made the experience quite memorable.

It was the highlight of our day! We had a blast!

In the evening, the girls and I got to see "The Greatest Showman" at the resort's movie theatre.
We absolutely LOVED it!

The next morning, we took a hike up the canyon.
Btw... world's greatest dad right here!

Up the canyon and finally down again...

It led all the way to the beach!

Hiding from the waves.

We spotted a pod of dolphins right in front of us.

Cute boy. 😍 

Back at the resort and enjoying the kids area.

Corn hole, anyone?

Cowboy Zach.

Surfer Zach.

We're calling this the first of our summer vacations (even though technically, I guess it's still spring).
We finished up another school year so we wanted to take a little break and celebrate.
A few days at the beach was just the ticket!

We've stayed at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas before but the girls were very young.
In fact, they were the same age Zach is now.

   Here they are in front of that same fountain. 😄😄

There's much to do for everyone on the property and the villas can't be beat. With 2 bedrooms/2 baths and plenty of space to sprawl out, it's one of the most comfortable resorts we've ever stayed at.
In fact, we said we need to make this a yearly family trip! 

This time, we had a cold spell during our stay so we didn't see much sunshine or spend any time in the pool but nonetheless, we were thankful for a nice break from our desert heat and the quality time we got to spend as a family.

More pics to come...  

18 May 2018

What's On Our Plate

Happy Friday!
Today is officially the last day of school for us. Woo-hoo! We take the next two weeks off before starting some light summer school but praise the Lord, we made it through another year of homeschooling.
I'm pretty excited about this weekend because we're headed to the beach and I can't think of a better place to kick off our summer!  

Before we go, I wanted to share some of the tasty things we've been eating around here lately.
Let's start with the most important meal of the day, breakfast! 

My favorite go-to, quick and easy breakfast is this Almond Butter Avocado Toast. It's packed with so much goodness! Have you ever tried this combo? It may sound weird but I can assure you it is delicious! Especially when topped with some TJ's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning.

These Blueberry Oat Muffins are always on repeat at my house.
Great for an accompaniment to breakfast or for a quick snack.  

Berry Chia Seed Jam is my jam. 😊 So easy to make with only 4 ingredients!

We use it on toast or as a topper to our breakfast bowls.

I'm having fun with these breakfast bowls. You can be as creative as you want to be.  

I've also been a huge fan of making Overnight Oatmeal. It couldn't be easier to throw together the night before and have it ready for the morning. I make a big bowl for the family and we enjoy it for days. This is perfect for our hot weather months. So satisfying and filling. Again, the toppers are endless!

This one has coconut chips, almond butter, cinnamon, and fruit. Yum!

For lunch, this is a Chickpea and Artichoke sandwich. The girls and I happen to love chickpeas and artichokes. This has lemon juice, garlic, and basil. On this particular day, I ran out of fresh basil so I just used spinach. And I don't know about you but I could add avocado to just about anything!

Another one of our favorite lunch salads is a knock off of the Curry Chicken Salad. You know the one with cranberries and pecans? Well, this vegan version uses chickpeas and for creaminess, tahini.

I could just eat it as is but we usually put it on a toasted sandwich with fresh arugula or spinach.

Or we sometimes stuff it in pita bread. Either way, it's something we enjoy every week!

I'm also really loving these Nourish Bowls.
It's nothing more than my leftovers arranged in a pretty and colorful way.
This one had brown rice, broccoli, sautéed kale, sweet potatoes, steamed organic tofu and some kimchee. Delectable!

For snacks, give us all the smoothie bowls! We can't get enough of these acai bowls. Our favorite toppings are granola, fruit, coconut, and chia seeds. It's all about the flavor and texture combo.

Here's another green smoothie bowl with goji berries.

Can we just talk about rice cakes? Yes, rice cakes! They make the perfect canvas. These are just plain rice cakes with almond butter, pecans, coconut, honey, and hemp seeds. The possibilities are endless. You can smear any kind of nut butter and add fresh fruit, too. Don't knock it 'til you try it!

Respect the rice cake! 😝 

I've been making my own hummus every week because we're using it quite often for wraps and dipping. Plus, with just a few ingredients, it tastes much better than the store bought version. 

Creamy and dreamy!

Easy peasy!

For dinner, I've really enjoyed this Rainbow Thai Salad that my girlfriend, Hailey sent me.
I renamed it because it used to be called Thai Chicken Salad. 😄 I love all the colorful veggies and in my opinion, the mint and mango are the stars!  

I typically mix it all together with buckwheat soba noodles (or whole wheat spaghetti noodles) and this stellar dressing. This will be a wonderful summer salad since all of it is served cold.

Ok, so the first few weeks of our diet, we relied on some packaged "meat substitute" products that are readily available in the supermarket. However, each week, my goal was to get away from those and cook real, whole, plant-based food. There's no shame in using those products as they are super useful when you're learning how to transition. They're not only convenient but tasty as well. During that time, we found TJ's Soyrizo and OH MY, this stuff is good! Now, I try to just use it sparingly. You can see here that I mixed some with black beans and potatoes for a tasty taco filling.  

Funny, I never used to make meatloaf before but I made this Vegan Lentil Loaf and it was super yum!
The leftovers the next day were fantastic, too!  

Of course my family loves their pizza so now, we just make our own. These haven't been cooked yet but here's a photo of all of our toppings before it went in the oven. The key is to sautee most of the toppings for maximum flavor. The girls wanted to try vegan cheese so I added some to half of the pizza. I didn't care for the cheese but the girls said they liked it so it was a win.

However, I did make this Vegan Parmesan and it hit the spot, especially over whole grain pasta with marinara sauce. It's made with raw cashews, garlic, and nutritional yeast. So yummy!

These are just some examples of what's been on our plate lately. I post them here, not really for you but for us to see and remember how we've progressed and what we're enjoying at the moment.
It definitely takes a little more forethought and planning each day and I think it helped that I was already used to meal planning. At first, dinner was a challenge but now, I look at it as a fun and creative way to try something new and accumulate a growing list of our favorites.

I realize that food can be a powerful stronghold for people. Satan thrives on that. I'm talking about overeating, emotional eating, or even obsessing about what we can or can not eat. We're passionate around here but we're not rigid. In other words, we don't freak out if we accidentally ate something with milk, egg, or meat in it. We know there is no magic diet or food plan that guarantees anything or trumps God's providence. In other words, we can strive to be healthy and steward our bodies well but in the end, it's all about God's grace. We pray for wisdom, we make the best choices we can, and we leave the rest up to God.

There is great freedom and peace in knowing that He is the only one who is in control.
Hallelujah for that.

Have a blessed weekend, friends!

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