April 30, 2023

Weight Loss: A "100 Things" Update

One of the most popular posts on my blog is a list of 100 things that changed when I lost 100 pounds. I wrote it waaaay back in 2010, before I even started Runs for Cookies. I was 28 years old and very naïve. I worried too much about what people thought of me, I cared too much about my appearance, and I was too much of a perfectionist about my diet.

I cringe when I read it now. It's tempting to change some of it (especially when I saw I used the now-politically-incorrect term "Indian-style" when referring to sitting cross-legged) but like I said--I was naïve. I'm sure in another 13 years, I'm going to look at this post and cringe just as hard.

We live, we learn, and we cringe. That's life.

Age 28 vs. 41. There are a million differences in these photos, which will probably become clear after reading this post. Some visible, some not.

Anyway, I laughed at a lot of the things on my list because they are just so NOT important. And things have changed so much since then! Here is a revised (light-hearted) list, 13 years later...

Then: "I used to feel ashamed buying candy and junk food. [After losing the weight], I feel just as entitled as everyone else to buy junk food." 

Now: I make most of my food choices based on reasons other than weight loss. Namely, vegan food (for ethical reasons) and nutritious food (for health reasons). And Ben & Jerry's non-dairy P.B. & Cookies ice cream (for mental health).

Then: "[After losing the weight], I eat my daily dessert whenever I feel like having something sweet."

Now: I've finally gotten a grasp on the purpose of avoiding sugar. I never used to worry about it because it didn't make a difference in my weight loss, as long as I was counting calories. I've since discovered that sugar makes me crave more sugar. I don't think there is anything wrong with having dessert, but I know that if I choose to eat dessert, I'm going to crave sweets like crazy until I give in--over and over. And this reason alone has stopped me from eating sweets numerous times. I just don't want to deal with cravings and the argument in my head about whether I should eat something or not.

Then: "I went from a size 24 to a size 8 in 10 months."

Now: I don't care one bit about the size on the label of my clothes. I used to want the smallest number possible, whether it looked okay or not. Now, I have clothes in multiple sizes and I don't even think about what size they are when I'm choosing what to wear. I pick my clothes based on comfort, because who am I trying to impress? And does anyone care AT ALL about the number on my clothes? I think not.

Then: Even after losing the weight, I was too embarrassed to post "fat photos" of myself--unless it was a before and after comparison.

Now: I stopped cringing at old fat photos of me. I've even posted them on my blog several times without scrutinizing my body, looking for all of the flaws. Yes, I used to look like that. So what? I am SO glad that I have those photos from back then. I actually wish I had more--there were a lot of photos I deleted after I saw how fat I looked or I avoided the camera completely. And now I don't have photos of some great family memories because of my insecurities. I don't avoid the camera and I don't try to fool myself--I can see when I've gained weight and I still post pictures anyway. I look how I look--take it or leave it.

This was in 2009. I wore this scarf to hide my huge double chin, hahaha.

Then: [After losing the weight] "I only sweat when I exercise!"

Now: I'm not embarrassed to sweat. This sounds kind of silly, but when I was 253 pounds, I was SO embarrassed if I was sweating for any reason at all (because, you know, skinny people don't sweat). When I lost the weight, I was happy that I didn't really sweat unless I was exercising. It was like I thought sweating was shameful. That's ridiculous! Last night, I was sweating just because two of the cats were on my lap and their bodies are like a warming blanket. I have no problem announcing that I'm sweating like a beast for whatever the reason may be.

Then: [Before losing the weight] "I used to wake up sore and achy from the added stress that the weight put on my body. Now I wake up feeling refreshed!"

Now: I wake up sore and achy from being old. HAHAHA

Then: [After losing the weight] "I can wear cute underwear and sexy lingerie now!"

Now: I am right back to wearing granny panties most of the time because hey--they're comfortable! I don't care if panty lines are visible through my stretchy black pants.

Then: I avoided restaurant food because it's so high in calories.

Now: I avoid restaurant food because it's expensive and because home-cooked food just tastes a million times better.

Then: [After losing the weight] "I feel feminine for the first time in my life! Being overweight made me feel like a sexless blob. Now I have the desire to style my hair, wear make-up, and wear cute clothes."

Now: BAHAHA--now, I enjoy doing "handyman" stuff and woodworking. I don't bother painting my nails because it's going to get chipped the second I touch my tools. I usually sweat while working on projects, so I don't bother with my hair or make-up, either. A messy bun, jeans, and a hoodie are pretty much my uniform.

Then: "I even wear cute pajamas now! No more of my husband's t-shirts."

Now: I love wearing Jerry's t-shirts because they're super worn in and comfy.

Then: "Before losing weight, I used to get excited about events like weddings and parties because of the food. [After losing the weight] I enjoy going out so I can socialize."

Now: A typical Saturday night is wearing my pajamas, reading a book or watching a show, and being in bed by 9:00.

Then: [After losing the weight] "My alcohol tolerance is much lower--one to two drinks is my limit before I feel like it's too much."

Now: Well, my tolerance went up quite a bit since then--so much so that I knew it was a problem and I needed to quit drinking altogether. I've been sober since February 2021.

Then: "I used to have a hard time stating my weight because I was so used to saying 'two hundred something pounds'--it took a while to get used to saying 'one hundred something'."

Now: I can pretty much just laugh and say, "Well, am I stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, or hypomanic?" Take your pick!

Then: "My treadmill is no longer a dust collector."

Now: My treadmill is probably the dustiest thing in my house... when I don't have things stored on top of it.

Then: "I've gotten more adventurous since losing the weight. Trying new things, going out more, meeting new people."

Now: Aww, how cute! Now, I like routine and I'm a homebody. And nothing gives me anxiety sweats like meeting new people.

The takeaway here is that I had healthy and unhealthy habits back then, and I have healthy and unhealthy habits now. My priorities are just different and I care far less about what people think of me (especially about how I look). No, I don't aim to look like a slob--I just choose comfort and practicality above all. It has finally sunk in that nobody cares what my weight is, how much or how fast I run, what clothes I wear, or what food I eat. (Well, unless I'm eating too many grapes... God forbid!)

Now, if only I could get on board with "age is just a number". I'm not happy about aging! I need to work on that mentality ;)

[And if you're unsure of what I meant by the million differences in my comparison photos, here it is again: hair (highlights and styled), make-up, nail polish (fingers AND toes!), jewelry, and cute clothes. Heading to a party versus staying at home. Caring how I looked versus caring how comfortable I was. The big similarity is that I was happy in both of these photos.]

I was heading to a Twilight party (a "wedding" in honor of the Breaking Dawn book), which is why the red and black.

April 29, 2023

Impromptu Photo Session

Today, Eli was supposed to have two baseball games and then his girlfriend's prom right after--a very full day. It rained all day yesterday and the fields were too wet to play, so his games were canceled. I was kind of relieved because he would have been cutting it close to get ready for prom, and I wanted his girlfriend's prom to be stress-free.

She and her friends wanted to take prom photos at the Toledo Botanical Garden. About five minutes before I left, I asked Noah if he'd like to come with me since he wasn't doing anything tonight. I was happy when he said yes. He drove us down to Toledo, where we met up with Eli and Ava (and friends).

I took a ton of photos of Eli and Ava, and Noah and I were looking around, talking about how some of the backdrops would make for super cheesy photos. (There were SO many people around, taking pictures for prom and weddings. I didn't realize it was a hot spot for photography.)

I told Noah that we should totally do a "senior photo" session. He graduates on Friday and we didn't get any traditional senior photos of him; he insisted he didn't want them. Noah and I both agree that posed photos are cheesy, and I completely understand why he didn't want them. But I made him promise me that we'd get some fun candid photos one day this year.

While we were at the Botanical Garden, I saw it as the perfect photo opportunity for the cringy posed senior photos. We had a blast with it! We walked around looking for the cheesy photo ops, and even tried recreating a photo that I know I had for a senior photo (I'll have to see if I can dig it out).

Anyway, here are some of the photos. I love how they turned out! I'm glad Noah was a good sport and didn't mind embarrassing himself ;)

I actually truly love this photo, despite that it's posed!

We laughed so hard at this one!

And here are a couple of Eli and Ava's prom photos...

Ava's dress was gorgeous and I loved how it looked against the blossoms on this tree.

And my very favorite... of course:

My kids are so grown up! I wish I could just freeze time for a while. 🥰

April 28, 2023

Friday Night Photos #113

I have a wide variety of photos today...

While Noah's car was being tuned earlier this week, we were short one car for a couple of days. Noah had Jerry's car at school, Eli drove his car to his baseball game (he has to get there early) and then Jerry and I took my car to Eli's game. Jerry had to leave early to go to work, so I figured I'd just catch a ride home with Eli in the Patriot.

Well, I had no idea what I was thinking when I told Jerry to just leave the lawn chairs and wagon with me and I'd bring them home. Eli's girlfriend was riding home with us, Eli's fishing gear was in the back seat, and all of his baseball stuff (catchers' gear takes up a LOT of space) was in the hatch. I had to sit in the backseat (his girlfriend offered, but I didn't mind) with three lawn chairs and a book bag on my lap. It was a tight squeeze!

Also, look how red my nose is. I was wearing a thermal shirt, a warm cowl neck shirt over it, my heavy winter coat, thermal pants with jeans over them, two pairs of socks, a winter hat, and mittens--also a heavy blanket wrapped around me--but it was still cold enough to feel like what I imagine Antarctica to feel like, haha. (It wasn't just me, like it usually is--everybody there was shivering! There was even freezing rain for a little bit.)

Jerry send this to me and it made me laugh at how true it is. I have a million pictures of my cats sitting in the most awkward positions on my hips, knees, head, etc.

I was going to post just one photo to go along with it, but here is a whole collage, haha.

This time of year is when we start to see a few squirrels with mange. I have a tube of Ivermectin and I put a little on a walnut to feed to the squirrels that I can see have mange. This squirrel... I feel so sorry for her! She is missing an ear and half of her tail, and she is in the early stages of mange. I gave her a dose of the Ivermectin; I have to give her two more doses (only one dose per week). One of the squirrels with mange is super picky and won't eat the nuts with Ivermectin. My dad suggested putting a little peanut butter over it, so I'm going to try that.

Jerry saw me doing my Duolingo lesson a couple of days ago and he said, "I want to learn a language! I'm going to download the app." I told him that Spanish is the easiest one, so he should start with that. He said that he wants to learn Russian--hahaha! I tried Russian a few years ago and lasted all of three minutes before I deleted it. Jerry has never tried to learn a language before--it wasn't required in his school--so I was curious how it would go.

And then I was *shocked* when he was going through the lessons and actually learning the alphabet and sounding things out. He was actually kind of giddy about it! After the first lesson, he was already telling me what letters make what sounds and saying some basic vocabulary words. I think it would be hilarious (and awesome) if we discover he's got a knack for languages and never knew it!

I'm kind of amazed whenever I make seitan that I can make something from scratch that so closely resembles shredded chicken. It took a LOT of trial and error, but we finally perfected it (Jerry is good at making it, too). Lately, I've been loving it with a little barbecue sauce.

A few nights ago, both of the boys were home in the evening (along with Jerry and me) so we decided to do something a little nostalgic--eat ice cream and watch an episode of Naked and Afraid. (Ben & Jerry's makes an amazing non-dairy ice cream called P.B. & Cookies!)  While we were watching the show, Chick was super fascinated with all of the wildlife (i.e. bees and fish). 

My weekly Friday morning picture of Duck curled up next to my head in the morning. I felt HORRIBLE today because right after I took this picture, I accidentally dropped my phone on us. I think it mainly got my forehead rather than landing on him, though.

I was looking through photos one day and I had an idea to do for Mother's Day. I really don't like Mother's Day because I don't ever want my kids to feel stressed about doing something or buying something for me. So, I decided that I'd like to give *them* a gift on Mother's Day. I went though photos, picking out all the photos of each of the kids and me, and uploaded them to Snapfish for printing. (I chose photos of them individually--just Noah and me for his album and just Eli and me for his.)

I bought an album for each of them and I'm going to put the photos in the album, as well as write funny or cute stories about them on 4x6 cards to slide into the pages. I don't have the time or the materials to make an actual scrapbook, but the photo album shouldn't be too hard. I hope that they'll enjoy looking through it and remembering all the fun stuff we've done together over the years.

I blame Duolingo for this email that I got! I always unsubscribe from junk email and when I clicked to unsubscribe, this is what came up, haha. From the words I could make out, I guessed I probably wanted to click "Sí" (yes) but then I wondered if I would be saying, "Yes, I'd like more emails, please." I haven't gotten any more, so I'm assuming I made the right choice ;)

Today was a rainy day AND there was no baseball (this is the first Friday without baseball in weeks), so I decided to take apart some old jeans and prep them for altering other jeans. I really love the pair that I altered recently to make them mid-rise instead of low-rise--they are super comfy and they are now my favorite pair of jeans!--so I want to add a second waistband to a couple of other low-rise pairs in my closet. I measured out the band of a pair that sat comfortably over my hip bones, like I wanted, and then I took in the waistband on a few old pairs that I'd cut up (like these American Eagle ones below). That way, I could add them to the low-rise jeans, making them sit higher.

I wanted to take out the part in the back between the safety pins, so I had to disassemble the band a bit before putting it all back together (bottom pic). I still have to add the top stitching (the orange thread) but I was really happy with how the waistbands turned out. Now I just have to add them to the top of a pair of low-rise jeans

I also cut off all the pockets and zippers from old jeans for other uses. I always save the fabric from the legs as well, for adding denim to straight leg jeans (to make them flare), or for patching holes, or for reinforcing seams on old favorite jeans. I've been really into sewing lately when I have time to play around with it!

Okay, I'm going to eat some dinner. I'm starving! Have a great weekend. xo

April 27, 2023

Three Things Thursday: What I Would Do Differently

I don't really like to think about what I *should* have done in certain situations because it just makes me feel regretful--and that's not a happy feeling. But there are some more light-hearted things that I would change if I could go back in time. Not regrets, but just making different choices...

1) I would have eloped rather than have a wedding reception.

I never really had dreams of a big fancy wedding, but it was kind of a given that what we were "supposed" to do (back in 2003, anyway) is have a wedding with lots of guests and a reception (dinner/drinks/dancing). I definitely did not do "fancy", but it was relatively large). It was great that people came and celebrated with us and the whole event turned out really nice, but I spent the whole evening making the rounds mingling and thanking people for coming, trying to ensure everybody felt welcome and had a fun time--I didn't even eat my wedding dinner, cake, or have a single drink! 

Planning a wedding takes so much time (and money!) and it's over with in a flash. If I'd had dreams of a big wedding it would have been worth it, but I honestly didn't really care about that.

If I were to do it all over, I would skip the whole big ceremony and reception and just plan a trip somewhere. We could have a quick ceremony at a simple location and then enjoy our vacation. Jerry and I didn't go on a honeymoon because of the expense, so rather than spend all of the money on a reception, it would have been fun to go on a nice trip.

I don't feel regretful, but I would definitely do it differently if I knew then what I know now.

2) I would have stick-built our home.

Jerry and I had plans of a "starter home", so we bought a lot in this neighborhood, hired a contractor to build a foundation, and ordered a manufactured home (a.k.a. trailer) put on the lot. Manufactured homes have a stigma but we really liked it. And we LOVE living across from the marsh. So, we ultimately decided to stay here.

At the time, we had no idea what we were doing--we knew nothing about owning a home--so over time, we discovered little things that were more difficult to replace because they weren't standard--things like the thickness of some walls (a standard door jamb is a little too wide). Nothing terrible, and we've certainly been able to personalize everything to our taste, but it would have been easier to build a house here and make everything standard sizes with upgraded materials. (I have no desire to have a bigger home--ours is the perfect size for our family--but I would change the layout a bit. However, I didn't know what kind of layout I wanted because I had never lived on my own!)

When I did the big renovation a few years ago, I upgraded a LOT of stuff (simple things like the molding and light fixtures and door slabs). The cost of everything (the lot we bought + our home + our renovation) wasn't any cheaper than building a house. We really like where we live and the updated home, so it worked out in the end. However, if I'd have known we were going to stay here, I would have planned things out much more carefully and customized it.

3) I would have traveled a bit before settling down.

My first time in the PNW--and my first hike!

This sounds silly, but it never occurred to me that I could move anywhere I desired when I was ready to live on my own! I don't regret getting married so young (21 years old), or having kids so young (I was 22 when I had Noah and 23 when I had Eli). However, it was just sort of a given that Jerry and I would live close to where our parents live. We never even talked about moving somewhere else.

If we were able to go back in time, I would have liked to see some other places in the country and then choose where we'd like to settle down. I *love* the Pacific Northwest and probably would have chosen to live there. On the other hand, our families live in Michigan and it's nice to be able to see them anytime we want. My kids were able to grow up less than a mile from my parents, so they rode their bikes over there frequently. I also developed a closer relationship with my parents because of it.

I've made sure to tell my kids that they don't have to settle down here just because they grew up here, though. I'd love for them to explore a bit and find a location that they enjoy. It would be great to live near them! But I wouldn't be sad if one of them settled in the Pacific Northwest, either--I would just have to go visit often ;)

So, those are three things I would do differently if I had known then what I know now. Like I said, I don't feel regretful about them; I didn't know any better at the time! I started an "adult life" (a home and marriage and kids) relatively young, so I've learned quite a bit since then. And I can help my kids discover that they have lots of options in "adult life" and they don't have to make quick decisions!

April 26, 2023

Wednesday Weight-In: Week 100

I didn't realize that today was Week 100 until just now. I feel like I should have come up with an interesting post for it--although, there really isn't anything special about 100 weeks of working on getting back to a comfortable size and weight.

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since I was dangerously on my weigh back to 253 pounds. I decided enough was enough and started calorie counting my way back down to a healthy weight. I felt that powerful sense of determination that isn't easy to come by. I was so sure that I wasn't going to be able to do it--but I did! It wasn't without challenges, for sure, but I'm hoping to learn from each setback that I have so that I can avoid it in the future.

Moving on... I am so thrilled about the jeans I'm wearing in this picture. Yesterday, Noah needed a ride to Toledo to pick up his car (he'd gotten a tune-up). Right around the corner from the shop was a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store--I hadn't been to a St. Vincent for probably 15 years. I just had to stop and check it out.

It was kind of a sad little store, but I browsed a bit anyway. Most of their clothes were for sizes 10/12+, which is too big; however, I happened upon this pair of True Religion jeans. I was so glad to see that St. Vincent doesn't mark their clothing at different prices based on what brand they are (Salvation Army and Goodwill now do that). Jeans were $3 a pair.

They didn't have fitting rooms, but I was pretty sure they'd fit me. I have a couple of pairs of True Religion size 29 jeans (I think that equates to a 7/8?) that I'd taken in at the waist and hips; these ones were size 27, so I hoped they'd fit without having to alter them. They are boot cut, too--I look terrible in straight-leg jeans.

I picked out two more pairs of jeans (ones that I think will be fun to alter) and a long-sleeve waffle top. The shirts were priced higher, so even though there were a few that I liked, I decided not to get them. When I went to the counter to pay, I saw a sign that said you could fill a paper grocery bag with clothes and pay only $10! I wish I'd seen that before I started browsing. I didn't want to go back and look again, but still I ended up saving a few dollars. I got three pairs of jeans and a top for $10. The True Religion jeans alone at Salvation Army would probably be $25.

When I got home and tried them on, I was excited to see that they fit! I do have to hem them--I don't think I've ever had a pair of jeans that didn't need the hemline altered. I'm 5'4", which is literally the average height of an American woman--but regular jeans are always too long, and petite jeans are a bit too short.

Anyway, I did not plan on writing that whole story about a simple pair of jeans! I was happy to see that my weight went down a bit more this week than it has over the last couple of weeks...

I was at 138.0 this morning, which is down from 139.8 last week. I'm happy with that! And I'm just three pounds away from the top of my goal range.

I didn't really do anything different this week; I've still been eating regularly (three meals rather than sporadically throughout the day). The biggest difference is oddly kind of exciting--I haven't been eating ice! This is HUGE.

I *finally* found an iron supplement that doesn't make me feel nauseous and I think it's actually working. I've been taking it religiously for about two and a half weeks and about five days ago, my ice cravings started going away. And for the last three days, I haven't craved it at all. I tried eating it last night, just out of habit, but it wasn't appealing like it has been for the last 10 years and I didn't even eat half a tumbler of it.

A few months ago, I was curious about how much water I consumed in ice alone and I measured out the water I put into my ice maker. Are you ready for this? I was eating the equivalent of just over a gallon of water every day! (I want to be clear that my iron was low LONG before I became vegan.)

I'm truly stunned.

I don't want to sing the praises of this iron supplement (iron from ferrous fumarate) just yet, because like I said, it's only been two and a half weeks. But if you're curious, it's called FERAPRO (and it's vegan!). I bought it after reading about it on an iron-deficiency Facebook group (a woman wrote that it was the only supplement she's found that raised her ferritin level). I had to order it from Canada and the shipping was kind of expensive--and I wasn't even sure it would work--but I was getting desperate after trying several others.

I'm going to finish this bottle (there are 100 capsules) and then ask my doctor for another ferritin test. My ferritin level was 9 last time, and the goal is at least 100. Crossing my fingers that this will be it for me! I'll update as I continue to take it. 

April 25, 2023

Deep Thoughts With Jerry #13

Jerry wanted to change his posts to "Tuesdays With Jerry", but I think with the picture of him above, "Deep Thoughts" just works so well! I was pretty impressed that he wrote this last night at work...

If you could bring back one fashion trend what would it be?

There are so many. I want the 90's back. Mainly, I want my band t-shirts to come back. When I was a teen I spent almost every dime I made on music. My bedroom walls didn't have a bare spot on them--band posters everywhere. When there was a bare spot it was quickly covered with cut outs from music magazines like Circus, AP, Revolver, or Spin. My life was music. It was my happy place. To this day, I still turn to music to calm me when I'm stressed. It's a lot of 90's punk, ska, and nu-metal.

Anyways, I had a pretty extensive collection of shirts going for me. Every time a new Korn or Rage Against The Machine shirt came out I bought it (they were my favorite bands at the time). Some shirts I got at concerts, some I got from a store in our local mall that had a lot of random shirts you couldn't just get at any record store, and some were from overseas and were a rare find.

One of my favorite shirts was a Korn shirt that was printed as a result of a Michigan high schooler getting suspended from school for wearing a Korn shirt. School officials said that wearing a Korn shirt "is no different than a person wearing a middle finger on their shirt". Ridiculous. So, the band had shirts printed with their simple Korn logo on the front and a quote from the 1st Amendment on the back. Under the quote read: (Except in Michigan). HAHAHAHA!

Coffee or Tea?

Easy. Coffee. I have never been and never will be a tea fan. To me it's just gross. I've always been a coffee guy--straight black. MY favorite brand is Chock Full O' Nuts. It's relatively cheap and just straight up delicious. If you've never tried it I highly recommend just buying a can the next time you're out and giving it a shot. 

A gift from Katie. I don't think she even knows what the Death Star is.

If you had to play one music album forever what would it be?

There are so many great albums out there. Nothing compares to music in the 90's though. And nothing compares to Smashing Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream". My favorite song on the album is called 'Mayonaise'. This is the album I go to when I'm feeling down on my luck and need a pick me up.  So, if I had to pick an album, this would be it. 

What would you like to do when you retire?

If I'm able to retire in 20 years I would just like to take some time to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Just for a bit though. I would enjoy walks or bike rides if the weather was nice enough. Maybe learn how to finally plant a garden and maintain it. When it's the summer I will hopefully be able to watch grandkids run around the yard or I'll be attending their ball games.

It just seems like there is so much I want to do and when I am finally able to retire I'm going to have such little time to do it, which is a little sad to think about. But, we will have the house and cars paid off in a couple of years, so we can start doing some extra things before we get too old.

What book did you read that changed your life the most?

Some people would say that 'To Kill A Mockingbird', 'The Catcher In the Rye', or George Orwell's '1984' are the kinds of books that completely changed their perspective on life. Me? It was Darth Bane: 'Path of Destruction'.

Yes, it's a Star Wars book. First one I ever read. This book stoked the fire of my super-fandom. My obsession. Before reading this book I wasn't much of a fan. I was like most kids growing up that just saw the movies on TV when the marathons would play during the holidays. I didn't collect the toys, didn't use an old broomstick as a makeshift lightsaber, didn't even talk into a running box fan to distort my voice to sound like Darth Vader.

I read this book in 2007, the first of a trilogy of books, and I was instantly hooked. From there I invested time and money into reading well over 100 books of the Star Wars expanded universe and loved every page. 

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

My breakfast trends go in waves. A couple weeks ago I swore that avocado toast was the greatest breakfast food ever. And now, I'm not even eating breakfast any more. Before that, cereal. Eggs on toast, fried eggs and toast, scrambled eggs and toast, omelet and toast... a lot of eggs with toast really. But, I will always find my way back to pancakes. Always. It's the best. Katie showed me a vegan recipe and they are so filling, but delicious and totally worth the super full feeling afterwards.  

What is your go-to show at night?

So many. I'm a huge professional wrestling fan and currently wrestling is on five nights a week between three different promotions. I have them recording and I can just start them up whenever. If I'm cleaning around the house I tend to put on Friends--we own all 10 seasons on Prime. If it's baseball season, I just put on any game and watch forever. It's essentially whatever I'm in the mood for, but mainly wrestling. 

How do you top your burgers?

I used to be a straight cheese, mustard, and ketchup guy. When I became an adult, I started branching out and putting the normal fixings on like onions and pickles. I never, ever, could get on board with tomatoes. They ruin everything. I just hate raw, fresh tomatoes. Eventually I landed on mayo, A-1, caramelized onions, and cheese. I recently had a patty melt at a vegan brewery and it was the best burger I've ever had, hands down. In a couple days I would love to try making my own burgers and see how it works out.

A Big "Moc" from Chili Mustard Onions, a vegan restaurant in Detroit (sadly closed now)

What movie defined your generation?

Without a doubt it was American Pie. Lines were crossed in that movie like never before and it was just such a fair, accurate description of my generation without the crazy, over-the-top antics you see in a lot of comedies. I must've seen that movie 100 times, along with it's sequels, and it will never get old. I still laugh out loud at a lot of the stuff and the soundtrack was the best.

April 24, 2023

Vegan Recipe Review: Coconut "Shrimp"

I haven't done a recipe review in a while, mainly because I haven't had time to try out new recipes. Yesterday, Jerry and I spent most of the day working on spring cleaning stuff. I was really hungry and we couldn't wait to sit down and eat! But I had no idea what to make. I grabbed this recipe from the printer (I printed it a while ago and forgot it was there until I was cleaning). I realized that I had all of the ingredients on hand and I figured I'd give it a try.

I wasn't sure if I'd be posting about it because honestly, I was very skeptical about how it would turn out. Vegan shrimp? But I always love to try new things.

I was never a big seafood fan (aside from my dad's fried perch), but I did like shrimp. And my favorite shrimp was the coconut shrimp at Red Lobster. I knew this probably wouldn't be quite the same without the piña colada-like sauce at Red Lobster, but if it tasted good, I'd be happy.

I got this recipe from Sam Turnbull's site, It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken. I've mentioned before that her recipes are always a big hit or miss for me--I either really love it or definitely won't try it again. You can find the recipe on her site here. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post)

First, the ingredients:

flaxseed, unsweetened shredded coconut, panko bread crumbs, flour, white miso paste, paprika, garlic powder, lemon juice, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, and soy curls

The "shrimp" is actually just soy curls (I've been using soy curls for a while now and we really like them). First, I sorted through the soy curls to pick out any that somewhat-resembled the shape of shrimp. I needed to get two ounces (dry) of them, so I wasn't very picky about what shape they were! Two ounces is only 1/4 of a bag, and these went a LONG way--I was surprised at how much this made.

Then I mixed together the marinade ingredients: miso paste, paprika, garlic powder, vegetable broth (I used a cup of water + a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon), salt, and pepper. The recipe didn't specify to use hot water, but I know from experience that soaking soy curls works much better with hot water. I put the soy curls in with the marinade and set it aside while I assembled the breading bowls.

There are three bowls: one with flour and pepper; another with water and flaxseed; and the third with panko bread crumbs and coconut.

The recipe suggested using chopsticks for each bowl so that they don't get too messy going from station to station--I thought that was clever!

...in theory, haha. First, I'm not very efficient with chopsticks. I can bring food to mouth with them if I have to, but trying to move pieces around in a timely manner just wasn't working. Also, the chopsticks got pretty messy somehow as well, so I eventually just started using my fingers. Much messier, but faster and easier.

I'd only used hot water for the soy curls and not boiling water like I usually do (boiling water makes the soy curls soak it up much faster). I thought the hot water would work here, but I wasn't too sure about it when I felt them--they still seemed pretty firm. I even let them soak a little longer. They were firmer than I usually make them and I thought that may ruin the dish completely. However, I just went along with the rest of the instructions.

First, you coat the curls in the flour + pepper mixture. Then you dip them in the flaxseed mixture. Then you coat them with the panko + coconut mixture. (Note: I really thought the flaxseed "egg" would be an odd choice for this recipe--but that was not the case. The pieces of flaxseed stayed at the bottom of the bowl, so the soy curls didn't pick much of it up.)

After about 10 minutes, I had a large plate full of the breaded soy curls.

Next, you heat a large skillet with oil and place the soy curls in a single layer to cook. I cooked them until they were browned and then flipped them over and browned the other side.

When I was done, I had a pile of (yummy looking) coconut "shrimp".

I really wasn't expecting much from these--the marinade hadn't smelled that great, and for soy curls, marinade is everything. I was very surprised, then, when I tried one and it was SO GOOD.

It was a mild flavor, definitely tasting like the coconut breading I'd hoped. And the texture--shrimp is something I thought could probably never be replicated well--was PERFECT. The texture was definitely that of shrimp, and the flavor was mildly coconut-ty. The breading was super crispy and stuck to the soy curls very well.

I honestly think that if these were shaped like shrimp (better than the pieces I used), and you didn't know they weren't actually shrimp, they could probably be passed off as shrimp. And I am NOT one to say that very often about vegan food. When it comes to vegan food, I like to call a spade a spade. (Nutritional yeast does not taste like cheese and even though I like nutritional yeast for what it is, I will never try to convince someone that it tastes like cheese.)

Jerry and I loved the soy curls! Noah wasn't here and Eli didn't want to try them, so Jerry and I ate the entire plate ourselves. He said I should mention (and I agree) that these don't have to try to mock shrimp. They are good as they are--coconut soy curls. But soy curls have such an unfortunate name--it doesn't have the same ring to it and it's gross-sounding to people who haven't tried them before.

[Side note: Soy curls are made of just one ingredient--soy beans. They are actually compliant in the whole foods plant-based diet, because they are made with the whole soybean and minimally processed. They don't have much flavor, which is why they are super versatile--they absorb the flavors of the marinade.]

I started calling the coconut soy curls "scrimp"--because soy curls (sc) and it rhymes with shrimp. *shrug*  Regardless of what they care called or what they are made of, they are DELICIOUS. I ate them plain (the recipe suggests serving them with cocktail sauce, but I never have cocktail sauce or horseradish, so we just ate them plain. And we loved them.

I'm going to see if I can find a recipe for a sauce that resembles the one at Red Lobster. Jerry and I both agreed that these need to be a regular recipe around here. I'm not sure what Noah would think of them (he likes soy curls, but I don't know if he's ever tried a coconut breading on anything). The next time I make them, I'll make sure that Noah will be here.

I know soy curls sound like a weird food to people who have never heard of them (they certainly sounded weird to me!) but if you're up for an adventure with the odd ingredient, this recipe is definitely one try! (Soy curls are only made by one company: Butler Foods. I order them directly from their website. I'm not affiliated with them in any way.)

You can find the recipe for the Coconut "Shrimp" at It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken.

Featured Posts

Blog Archive