Try That With Matt, Wellness

Livin la Vida Vegan Days 7-9 (happy campers with cucumber sandwiches)

September 25, 2017

I’m back! The girl who went into a weekend of camping on a mission to stay vegan and came out on the other side with recipes to share.

Friday had more landmines than the whole weekend put together. Thursday morning I got an email from my boss (like, my boss’s boss), asking if I wanted to grab lunch and catch up on a few key initiatives. Yes! I absolutely do. I most definitely do. I’m looking so forward to i– Aw, crap … What the hell am I going to eat? My official response went something like:

Dear inspiring leader,
I would be thrilled to catch up. One thing I feel like I should mention, I am doing this vegan thing for 14 days and it would be amazing if we could go somewhere with super boring salads or the one vegetarian place in town with questionable options. Great, thanks for this opportunity!

But people have a way of surprising you. Not only did she keep our lunch date after my pain in the ass request, she actually looked up the menu at the restaurant ahead of time and found a vegan-friendly salad for me. Say what? Michael Scott, hand over your World’s Greatest Boss mug, am I right? And, it was so damn good, you guys. I didn’t take a picture because, you know, corporate adulting, but it was a glorious mouthparty of cashews, avocado, cranberries, kale, spinach, fried tortilla strips and an avocado lemon dressing. I only had to have them hold the creme fraiche, and I don’t know what the hell that is anyway.

We were leaving for our camping adventure Friday evening. Our tradition on these weekends is for me to pick up Jimmy John’s on the way home and then we eat it en route to our destination. Welp, that’s not going to work. I came home and gathered all my Earth Fare booty I’d gathered the night before, packed our bags and got to work putting together a meal for the road. Less convenient, sure, but it really wasn’t that much of a bother.

I put sandwiches, nectarine slices and avocado oil chips in a cake pan with a lid for the chicks to share in the backseat. Then I made Southwest Quinoa burgers, and leftover warm cabbage slaw with crispy tofu for Hank and me. The burgers were just OK. They had whole lentils in them, which gave me some texture issues. I gagged a few times. No actual vomit, so don’t worry, everyone. Not my favorite meal, but it did the job. I find that the quinoa and lentils fill me up a lot faster than the meals I used to make. But forget those damn beans, man.

I couldn’t tell you much about Friday night. We pulled in after the sun went down, set up our home away from home, and I curled up and passed out to PBS Kids.

Saturday morning I got up and went for a nice 3 mile run around the campground. By nice I mean, the scenery was sightly until the sweat ran down into my eye holes rendering me completely blind. I stopped at a spot overlooking the reservoir and stretched my legs. I tried a little mindfulness, which was refreshing.

I phoned it in for breakfast and went with cereal (with almond milk) for my first meal of the day, with this bomb ass cinnamon coffee Hank picked up. He was still asleep so I took my mug outside to watch the sun finish rising. Just lovely.

Our friends arrived around 10 that morning. They have three boys, which is such a fun social experiment. Spike forgot to put underwear under her skirt at one point and we had to talk about when privates are appropriate (hardly ever). We started pulling lunch together after they set up camp. Nutella sammies for the chicks and my best invention ever for us. Get ready, because this layered creation is a thing of pure love. OK, I took a sandwich thin, opened ‘er up and, on one side, put vegetable hummus, and on the other, plain kite hill cashew cream cheese. Next, some basil pesto on top of the cream cheese. Then sliced cucumber, broccoli sprouts and mixed greens. I’m telling you it was a flavor fireworks show behind my teeth. I rounded it out with grapes and a few avocado oil chips.

Then I started pounding Summer Shandys and all was well with the world. We spent a few hours down at the beach because it was 12 thousand degrees outside, and then went back to the campsite for a water balloon fight and more beers for the grownups. Dinner was sausage and hot dogs for the others and buffalo quinoa burgers for me and the Mr.

You know what I’m finding? Good friends do things like humor you when you say you’re going to go camping but you can only eat things from the earth. Well, things from the earth and things manufactured to appear like they came from the earth … am I right? My girl brought a tasty salad (vegan approved) and some stellar trail mix. We roasted up some tiny potatoes and boom! Dinner was a wrap.

I’m a dessert junkie, so you know my ass was going to find a workaround for some s’mores. And I sure did. Dairy free chocolate (not so good) with gluten free graham crackers and vegan marshmallows. I also had vegan molasses and sugar cookies from Earth Fare and I threw a mallow on one of those molasses puppies just for kicks. I wasn’t mad at it or anything. Pretty tasty.

Sunday morning was stress-free. Mama had some vegan-friendly pancake mix, both plain and chocolate chip because you know I like my baked goods kind of dirty, with some butter-flavored coconut cream and veggie bacon. The vacon, as Hank called it, was interesting. JoJo loved it! It was kind of like the forbidden marriage of beef jerky to a dog treat. I ate a piece, but a piece was enough. The pancakes on the other hand … Gosh dang. Murdered those things. No evidence remained.

After a gorgeous, sweaty hike through the Sahara with six kids in tow, and one conversation about where babies come from, we went back to break camp, sadly. I recreated my green goodness sandwiches from the day before and wrapped them up for the road. I threw in some grapes and leftover guacamole with flax and chia chips to really get ‘er done and off we went. (I make that sound so simple, but it actually takes forever to get all that shit put away, the crap tank emptied and on our way.)

From the second we hit the driveway after a camping trip, it’s laundry and cleaning and running around like Elizabeth Shue in the last 5 minutes of Adventures in Babysitting. I’m like spraying counters with Windex and whatever just to make it look like a bunch of animals don’t live in this place. It never works. My toes just found a crayon the dog chewed up and left for me – along with 3 turds – in the front room. To be clear after rereading this, my toes didn’t find the turds, Hank did, earlier. Gross.

I had a 7-mile training run (my last long one), so I knew I needed to pull something together for dinner early so I could be pounding pavement by 7pm. I went to the freezer and pulled out a box of somosas I got from Costco. There is no picture because I ate these perfect little purses of flavor so fast, there was just no time for pleasantries. While there was also a chicken option in the variety pack, we opted for the potato and chickpea varieties, which came with a zingy little cilantro chutney that took things to the next level. I paired them with a quinoa and kale packet, also from … you guessed it, Costco. [pitter patter goes my heart]

I chugged some beet elite, and took off about 45 minutes later. I. felt. so. good. I mean, not like I could run forever good, but I really felt pretty energetic. After a typical camping trip, with all the baked goods and hot dogs and mayonnaisey salads, I could never go run 7 miles. It would have been an unthinkable task. But it wasn’t that big of a deal.

I interrogated Henry on our drive home earlier that day. I wanted to know where he was at, a week in.

“Do you notice anything?” I asked.
“I mean, I’m a bad person to ask,” he said. “I never really notice much. Like, even with Whole30.”
“I mean, my back hurts. Does it hurt less than usual? Maybe.”
“I feel like I’m eating enough, but when it’s time to eat, I’m definitely hungry. That’s probably a protein thing.”
“Yeah, probably.”
“Yeah, I dunno …”

So, there ya have it. An exciting report from the hubs. I feel invigorated just by how manageable it’s been, truly. I know people think I’m blowing smoke, but it hasn’t been too terribly hard. The convenient foods are so tasty, but I find they’re mostly made of shit. I’m encouraged by how relatively simple it’s been to eliminate the shit. Here’s to the next five days and no more convenient shit. Wait, …

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