How to travel when you’re vegan: the getaway edition

Let’s face it. Traveling is already stressful enough. Between making the travel arrangements, figuring out where the heck you’re going to sleep and then trying to pack the right attire for whatever climate you’re going to, it’s not an easy process.


And well, don’t even get me started on traveling with kids, because that just throws the whole gosh darn Earth off its axis. Not only do you have to pack enough outfits to last at least triple the time you’re going to be gone (because little hands are magnets for ketchup and mud stains), but you’ve also got to pack an entire deep freezer of snacks and drinks because who knows what they’ll be in the mood for during the trek to get wherever you’re going.

Now, I’m not complaining here. I realize how utterly blessed we are to be able to travel as a family and take mini-vacations here and there, whether it’s a long weekend at a Smoky Mountain cabin with our best friends or quick trip up to Cleveland to visit family.

The tough thing about traveling as a vegan family is that it can be hard to figure out what your options are going to be. Even if you’re headed to a place you know all-too-well, it can still create a boatload of issues depending on the activities you plan on doing, where you’re staying and how you’re traveling.

Take for example this past weekend. Rather than cozying up in front of our living room fire and enjoying the giant snowflakes falling on Valentine’s Day, my husband and I were packing up our bags (and our kids bags and bags of their toys and bags of food) for a small weekend excursion to Cleveland.

Normally when we travel to Cleveland we stay with friends and family. This time, however, we ended up staying in a hotel for two nights due to the nature of our visit.

I was inducted into my college’s inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame class. I know, sounds so fancy schmancy, right? Myself and three other athletes were honored to be the first four individuals to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, so this meant being announced during the men’s basketball game, in addition to some pictures, some smiling, some cocktail and appetizer hour, some award-receiving and some speech giving.

This also meant my children were going to have to be on their best behavior, and if they weren’t (which, by the end of the day of course they weren’t), my hubby needed a quick escape route and the hotel a few miles away from school in a swanky neighborhood did the trick. (It didn’t hurt that it had an indoor pool, hot tub and all that fun stuff too).

So not only were we not sure if we were going to have a fridge to use during our visit (the hotel website said some rooms had mini-fridges while others did not), we were going to be spending all day Saturday at a privately-catered event.

If there was one huge obstacle to overcome while eating vegan, privately-catered events are at the absolute top of the list. At least there’s hope when you have a salad bar as an option, but a privately-catered event usually means already-devised appetizers and meals, a less-than-flexible menu and «no guarantee» that the food didn’t end up touching something nonvegan.

It can be a challenge.

What’s a vegan to do?

Plan, plan and plan some more.

For starters, I emailed the gentleman in charge of the Hall of Fame reception and ceremony and inquired about my family’s dietary restrictions. (Helpful tip: don’t just type vegan and assume people know what that means. Often times, this can easily be mistaken for vegetarian, which means you’re likely to end up with a dish loaded with dairy, sometimes even fish!). I explained that we didn’t eat any meat, eggs, fish, dairy, gelatin or honey, essentially any animal-based product, and then asked if there would be anything accommodating on the menu for us. I also informed him that I completely understood if there wasn’t, but figured it was better to ask than assume. I find using this approach, the «we don’t expect special treatment, but if there happens to be a dish suitable for us we’d love to know,» to be most effective because then people don’t feel like you’re asking for something special, they think you’re a lot less pushy than the people who demand something and they’re usually more willing to go out of their way to try and accommodate your diet.

Unfortunately, the menu had been set and the caterer wouldn’t guarantee against any cross contamination or possible «allergens» in the food, so we were unable to eat at the reception. Sure, this was a bit of a bummer, but because we knew ahead of time we were able to plan for this. We knew to eat a hearty breakfast before we started the day’s events and to eat a late lunch in between the basketball game and the reception so we’d still be filled.

On Friday morning (the day we were leaving) I called the DoubleTree hotel and inquired about which rooms had a mini-fridge and if it was possible to reserve one of those particularly. They were incredibly helpful and let us know which set of suites offered this. So now we knew before leaving our house that we’d at least be able to stick a few necessities in the tiny fridge! In the event we did not have a mini-fridge we were planning on bringing a medium cooler and icing down some of our must-haves with ice from the hotel.

Our must-haves for travel included almond milk for the kiddos, peanut butter and jelly, veggie dogs (one here and there never hurt anyone), strawberries, apples, bananas and some waters. Because we knew the city we were headed to (I went to college in Cleveland and lived there for a year after, my husband grew up near there), we knew there was an incredibly vegan-friendly Whole Foods and a few of our favorite restaurants. So we packed semi-light, knowing the food we needed to have on hand would be snacks the kids would want on the drive and things we wouldn’t want to deal with in the hotel room (like cutting up strawberries and such).

The hotel also had a few yummy options on their menu — from warm pita bread and hummus to chips, salsa and guacamole. It’s always important to ask about the ingredients. Our «tortilla chips with fiery sauce and guacamole» sounded safe, but ended up actually being a nacho supreme with cheese and sour cream. It’s important to never assume a dish is safe and to always clarify what you can and cannot have.

In the event you’re taking a family vacation to a new city or location, hop on the internet and start doing some research. Googling «destination name + vegan» can garner plenty of helpful results — from HappyCow listings, personal blogs, to reviews on yelp and sometimes vegan societies within a city. When we’re deciding where to go on vacation, I usually do a quick internet search to see if they’ll be at least a few viable options for us to dine out while we’re on the town.

If you don’t have an option in where you’re traveling, try looking up local grocery stores or natural food marts. I once called a Piggly Wiggly when planning our vacation in Hilton Head to ensure they had some basic vegan options, such as — nondairy milks, vegan cheeses, butters or other cold items that I wouldn’t want to take on the long haul.

If you know you’ll have access to a fridge and fresh ingredients, you can always opt for the shelf-stable nondairy milks. Sometimes we choose to get the small, personal-sized ones for the kiddos for the car ride if we know we’ll be able to get the regular-sized ones once we reach our destination.

If at all possible, stay somewhere with a KITCHEN. When we’re planning big vacays with our friends, it’s kind of common knowledge that we’re going to skip the hotel and opt for a big ole’ beach house or cabin, or some kind of rental with a kitchen. (At the very least, try to get an extend-stay hotel, which generally comes equipped with basic kitchen goods). We went to the Smoky Mountains last summer with our best friends and ended up eating our only two or three times. Instead, we cooked veggies on the grill, made pancakes and ate at the table big ole’ family dinner style. Having a kitchen is such a huge relief for traveling vegans.

All and all it ended up being a fabulous weekend. It was an incredible honor to be inducted into the first class of my college’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The kids had fun swimming and it felt surreal being back on campus. I envied the massive Whole Foods with it’s vegan scones and cupcakes and revisited the place my husband and I met.

It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come. And how much further we want to go.

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How Evanced Games helped advance my preschooler

A few weeks ago I got an email asking me to review an utterly awesome product. While many of the reviews I do are focused on vegan goods, this particular one actually catered to the fact that I’m a mother of a preschooler. With Pearyn’s FOURTH birthday just around the corner (cue me in the corner sobbing) and her first year of preschool half over, we’ve been working hard on things like spelling, cutting out shapes and writing her name. (Seriously, this stuff is hard, I don’t know how homeschooling moms and preschool teachers do it)!

So when I was asked if I’d be interested in reviewing three different children’s apps, I was ALL for it. Our little girl is a huge fan of the family’s iPad, so the idea of getting to put something educational on it and tailored to her was exciting.

The apps are created by Evanced Games, and I was lucky enough to review three of their educational apps: Froggy Phonics, Champs of Numeria and Tic-Tac Bananas.

We’ll dive right in and start with Froggy Phonics, which was Pearyn’s (and my) absolute favorite. This app is designed for 4-to-8-year-old kids and focuses on teaching them new words and different letter group sounds. In the bottom corner the app will tell froggy to find a word beginning with a certain letter or letter group. Then the child must guide froggy from lily pad to lily pad in search of the correct match. With over 900 words and different levels and froggy friends to reveal, this game was challenging enough to help Pear learn, but not so over her head that she lost interest. Two weeks later, Pear is still conquering this game all on her own!

The next one we tried out was Tic Tac Bananas! This game is designed for kids ages 4-8 and guides children through identifying letters to words by showing them a comical monkey illustration and then having them pick from a bubble which letter goes with the picture and word. They can do practice mode or two-player mode, which allows them to play a game of tic-tac-toe against a friend, parent or sibling, earning a mark each time they correctly identify the letter that goes with a picture. Pearyn is still in the process of learning different words and what they start with, so we had to do this one with her. Once we helped her identify what the particular word was, she usually had an easy time figuring out the letter. While Pear could play Froggy Phonics on her own, it was kind of nice to have this one to work through her with because we were able to see areas where she needed help. Froggy Phonics also helped her identify some of the letter groups in this game, so I highly recommend downloading these two together if that’s the type of area you’re working on with your children!

And the last app we had the chance to play was Champs of Numeria. This game was the most advanced for kids (in our opinion). It’s recommended for children ages 4+ and had multiple different modes to appeal to different ages and abilities. We stuck primarily with the «Count the dots and identify the correct numbers» game, which was essentially a large rectangle of numbers, ranging from 1-12, with little bubbles underneath that contained two dice. The child has to count the dots on the dice and then find the number in the game board above. The goal is to get a certain number of blocks in a row. The child can compete against other kids, parents or siblings, or the computer. This game still takes a decent amount of strategy, which Pear Bear wasn’t quite ready for on her own, but with the help of a parent she enjoyed correctly searching for the numbers. The only hang up she had was counting on the dice. If each one had five dots, she’d want to count five twice, rather than 10. So it was a great opportunity to work with her about continuing to count up.

The also have games in Champs of Numeria that work on multiplication and division, but these were far ahead of Pear’s skills so we didn’t test those out!

All and all these were excellent apps. I waited a few weeks to blog about them because I wanted to see how they fared compared to her Barbie Fashionista and Dr. Panda games. I’m happy to say two weeks in she is still (all on her own accord) playing with these games and asking for our help on them. It’s been a great way to use the family iPad and an even better way to further her interest in letters and numbers!

I highly recommend downloading the three apps we recommended, as our almost four-year-old has really been learning and enjoying them. And at only a few dollars a piece, it’s really worth giving them a shot, even if you were on the fence about how much your child will be able to use them!

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I’ve got 99 problems but baby wipes ain’t one

For reals though.

I’ve got 99 problems but baby wipes ain’t one … because they’re more like 20 billion.

THIS IS MY LIFE. Remember Alanis Morissette’s song, «Ironic?» You know the one that prattles on about 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife? IT IS MY LIFE.

Except my song would go something like this:  It’s like 10,000 baby wipes (coming out ALL AT ONE TIME in ONE little PULL), when all you need is ONE, it’s like the tiniest, most microscopic turd, getting lost, when I’m trying to only pull out, one wipe.

Isn’t it ironic?

And of course the times I need like a gazillion wipes, I have to hold my son in some advanced yoga pose so the giant poo-splosion going up his back, in his armpits and at the top of his shoulders won’t get all up in his face, hair and ear canals, all because the damn wipes are crammed in there and being stingy and not coming out.

Look folks, I’m not asking for intuitive baby wipes here. I’m not even asking for perfection. All this momma of two wants is some conservative baby wipes. You know, ones that won’t give it up like it’s prom night, but will actually wait until the time is right. You know, those kind.

I realize this is a completely frivolous topic and there are TONS of bigger problems in the world (this is where that #firstworldproblems would really come in handy), but these are the things people don’t tell you about life. Sometimes, it’s the little nuances that make you want to pull your hair out. And right now, I’ve got a whole lotta nuances up in my grill.

So rather than dwelling on the numerous things that are making me hug my knees into my chest and rock in a corner, I decided to make a list of them for you right now; because someone should get some giggles out of my pain.

I’ve got 99 problems but, oh, shoot, wait, these ARE my 99 problems.
(and yes, I realize some of these are silly. That doesn’t make them any less true)

  • The «R» key on my keyboard will NOT type. Which basically makes me look like a moon. OH, wait, not a moon, a moon. M-O—O-N. Damnit. See my point?
  • I’m trying to concentrate on all the funny little mishaps currently happening in my life right now but I can’t think of them because my husband is laying in bed next to me snoring. Obscenely loud. Like, so loud, I’m contemplating pushing him out of bed. 
  • Our little family of four has been passing the same head-chest-cold around for the last three weeks. I’m over it. They’re over it. Except none of us are actually OVER IT, we just really wish we were. 
  • Everyone in the house is sleeping and I’m up typing because I’m a slave to blogging. I’m not really, but I have been coming up with some good ideas here and there and I feel like I never have the time to actually do that. 
  • Something broke on my Facebook and now, I can’t «stop getting notifications» from posts I comment on. This means every three seconds my phone vibrates off the table because someone else is telling someone else on my Facebook friends list how awesome they are. You know what would be more awesome? If Facebook quit changing it’s shit around and let me un-notify myself. 
  • I just started contemplating whether my use of the word «slave» earlier, is disrespectful. Which then made me question if my comment 30 lines above about the baby wipes giving it up like it’s prom night was inappropriate as well. Probably yes to all of the above. But it’s late and my appropriate meter starts to shrink when I’m tired. 
  • I can never remember how to spell armadillo. Is it two R’s? One L? 
  • I wish Braeburn was awake to snuggle. 
  • I’ve got like 16 bags of googly eyes (you know, the kind you use for crafts?) but they’re all bigger than a dime and won’t fit on Pearyn’s valentines for her classroom. 
  • I accidentally typed «crag» instead of «craft» which made me think about the old Nickelodeon show, «GUTS.» I’m now pretty upset I never got to appear on it and when a piece of the aggro-crag myself. 
  • I’m not a figure skater.
  • I’m not as skinny as most figure skaters.
  • I like cupcakes too much to be skinny. 
  • There’s this bush, tree thing that was planted literally next to the path to our house, next to the driveway. This means anytime anyone has to park they have to do a crazy dance and get stabbed with this bush tree contraption like a gazillion times. Unless you want to go out the passenger door. And forget getting children out on that side. It’s a recipe for danger. 
  • Seriously though, who the hell plants a tree bush right NEXT to their driveway where cars park?
  • Gymnastics aren’t a part of the winter Olympics. They should be.
  •  I want to write a book, but I don’t know what it’s about. 
  • I’m not good at bowling, but I want to be.
  • I frequently bookmark things when I don’t mean to. Generally I’m trying to perform the «find» function and somehow I end up bookmarking the same page 54 times. 
  • I don’t have candles for the dinner table. You know, like, candles in a stick, makes things fancier, candles. 
  • I adore our new home, but I don’t adore the pounds, I mean POUNDS, of junk meal we now receive. 
  • I saved the photo for this blog to the wrong folder. And I didn’t rename it. So I just stared at the desktop for 39 minutes looking for said photo. 
  • I wish Skype emoticons worked everywhere. (facepalm) (giggle) (tumbleweed) (heidy)

OK … so those aren’t 99 problems, and heck, they’re not even really «problems,» but they are the random things that pass through in my brain. 

What’s on your list?

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Homemade vegan almond milk foam, from a jar

I’m telling you right now, your morning just got infinitely better by reading this blog post.

I’m not one to brag really, but this almond milk foam is basically going to rock your world. Remember those days of warm lattes with that fluffy, delicious foam on top and some kind of delicious syrup?

Well, for the last two weeks I’ve been foaming up my own coffees (saving my wallet!) using just an old jar, Almond Breeze and my microwave.

After having an amazingly frothy beverage from Peets coffee (they do almond milk foam and they rock at it), I decided I just had to figure out how to do it at home or I would basically never allow myself to drink coffee again.

So I started scouring the internet looking for a way to make almond milk foam. Turns out it’s super achievable, if you have a fancy schmancy espresso machine or wanna fork over some cash for other trinkets and utensils that give air to almond milk.

I didn’t want to do that, however. It was a Sunday, I was feeling lazy and cheap and I wanted instant gratification. It didn’t matter that I could order some nifty tool off Amazon, I wanted my almond milk foam and I wanted it then.

So I found a blog about how someone had luck taking regular cows milk and shaking it in a small jar. Then they put it in the microwave and voila, foamy deliciousness.

 So I decided to try that with almond milk … and well, at first I was disappointed, it wasn’t frothy or fluffy at all like the dairy milk. But I decided to try, try again and sure enough, after a good 30-second shake, 30 seconds in the microwave and then more 30-second shakes, I had enough foam to legit cover my coffee and strong enough to last a good 10 minutes.

Fabulously fluffy almond milk foam
(makes foam for one medium-to-large cup of coffee)
1/4 -1/3 cup vanilla almond milk (I used Almond Breeze because it contains carrageenan, or edible seaweed, which is used as a thickener. I can’t guarantee results with other brands or types yet)

Pour milk into small jar with lid. Shake for 30 seconds (then you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about …). Remove lid and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once you take this out of the microwave you should notice a decent foam forming at the top of the milk. Use a spoon and scoop the foam onto your coffee (leave the liquidy milk at the bottom). Replace lid and shake for 30 more seconds (I literally shake up and down and left and right and all over the place). Remove lid and use the spoon to scoop foamy bubbles onto your coffee. Repeat as many times as you’d like to achieve the foaminess you desire. I usually do about three to four times. Top with some homemade vegan caramel syrup if you want to get wild.

You can add the liquidy part that’s leftover to sweeten your coffee!

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Why I don’t want to be vegan anymore

I know, I know. It might come as a shock to you.

I mean, I’ve built this whole blog around being a Chubby Vegan Mom.

It’s insane, right?

What am I going to be now? The Chubby Mom? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it …

Perhaps I should explain.

I’m not going to start eating meat again. I’m not going to start consuming dairy again. I’m not going to wear leather, go to the circus or use make-up that’s been tested on or made from animals.

In fact,  I’m actually not changing anything about my lifestyle at all.

The problem is, I don’t want to be a «vegan» anymore.

This post is hard for me to write. It’s confusing and it’s been something I’ve been sitting on for a while. I’ve perused dozens of my favorite veggie bloggers and read woe-filled tales of why they gave up their vegan lifestyle, why they just don’t want people to know they’re vegan anymore, why they call themselves plant-based and it’s just, well, embarrassing, quite frankly.

You see, there are a lot of considerate, flexible, wonderful vegans out there. We virtually hold hands, sing Kumbaya and roast vegan marshmallows together. Unfortunately, though, there is another group of «vegans» out there, and they seem to be louder, more in your face than the others.

It started with a seemingly innocent email inquisition about what type of almond milk I used. When I replied back that I used whatever kind was on sale — store brand, Silk, Almond Breeze — I unleashed upon myself a hurricane of preachiness. You see, the particular person emailing me wanted to take several emails to let me know what an irresponsible vegan I was, how could I purchase from Silk when they’re owned by a subsidiary of Dean Dairy and how I was everything that was wrong with the world and blah blah blah.

Yeah, super fun.

So I started googling this type of thing and came across a hoard of blogs about how vegans who eat Oreo’s aren’t vegan because of it’s sugar or enzymes or 19 other scenarios. Someone made a comment about how if their eating Oreo’s made them only 99.9% vegan then fine, so be it. So that started a barrage of other ignorant comments about how they might as well eat a slab of meat and drink a glass of milk because their inconsideration was the same no matter what.

One poster even said «how can you be 99.9% vegan? That’s like being 99.9% pregnant. You either are or you’re not.»

Really? Being vegan or not is like being pregnant? Um NO. That’s stupid. Sorry. Pregnancy is a yes or no issue. Either a human being comes out of your vagina or doesn’t. But being vegan? Well, it’s a lot trickier than that (and thank God because there would be a lot of confused vaginas out there if veganism were that simple).

You may or may not be familiar with the sugar battle. There are commercial sugars (or ones used in sauces, baked goods, sodas etc) that are sometimes processed on bone char. Bone char is basically what it sounds like, animal bones. So while the sugar may not have these ingredients, the money you spend is going to «support» establishments that use this as a refiner.

Sigh. BIG sigh.

You guys caught me. I’ve been living this second life where I go around being vegan 50-percent of the time, but the other 50-percent of the time I’m just guzzling pounds and pounds of sugar that I KNOW was made on bone char. Sometimes, I even sprinkle a little bit of «natural flavoring» on it just to really take in all the hidden animal ingredients I can.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m one human being. I’m one human being, who is also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, a coach, an employee, a woman. I work 40 hours a week, I raise two children (with a fabulous husband), I give pitching lessons, I take my daughter to dance, I meal plan, I grocery shop, I cook, I clean, sometimes I bathe, sometimes I see my friends, sometimes I do crafts, sometimes I sit on the floor and hold my son and sometimes, sometimes, it’s absolutely exhausting trying to be good at so much.

So you know what? When I’m starving and I want something to eat and I’m too damn lazy to cook it, I’ll get some take out. I’ll get some seitan buffalo wings from a bar that is made with hot sauce that contains sugar that God knows where it was processed.

If that makes me 1% less vegan, then I’ll change my name to Chubby Vegan Mom (99% of the time). Seriously vegans. Get your head out of your asses. Step up off your high horse and quit trying to «catch» other vegans doing bad things. Do I go out of my way to find sugar processed on bone char? No, no I don’t. Do I source every grain of sugar that enters my body if I’m out an about, no, no I don’t.

Some of you might think what’s the point then? If you’re willing to overlook sugar, why not overlook dairy and fish and chicken? Here’s the thing. Being vegan isn’t a science. It’s not perfect, no matter how many of you *want* it to be.

I shop in a grocery store that sells meat and dairy. I purchase items from manufacturers that also produce non-vegan items because we don’t live in a perfect vegan world. You want to beat me over the head because I «support» brands that aren’t 100-percent vegan? Let me ask you where you purchased the shirt you’re wearing. Or the underwear. Or the sheets on your bed. Hopefully it was from a vegan retailer. And it was made by a vegan worker. And it was delivered by a vegan delivery boy on a bike. To your house, which is made of all vegan materials and was built by vegans.

Oh, wait, that’s too hard? You mean, I’m a jerk for giving my kids some vaccines or for eating some sugar that may or may not have been processed in a facility with animal products, but you driving a car, working for or living in a home that isn’t 100-percent vegan is OK? I’m afraid when it comes down to it, we’re all just pots calling the kettles black. Because, what? It’s easier to crap on me about sugar and it’s «too hard» to find a vegan house and job?

To me, being cruelty-free means doing the least harm you can. But you know what? Being those 19 million other things in life (like a mom and a wife and a friend) also necessitates that I don’t have all day to think about sugar. I don’t have the money to purchase all organic, made from hugs and kisses sugar all the time. Is it something I strive to do? Absolutely. Is it something that happens every minute of every day? No.

And if you want me to apologize for that, fine. I’m sorry. I’m not perfect. If you want to «take away» my vegan card, fine, go ahead.

Just remember this. YOU’RE the reason people think vegans are assholes. Those of you with the holier-than-tho attitudes do MORE harm to our cause than those of us who have some shitty sauce with sugar in it every now and then. You might not agree with me, but I’m right. My husband and I try our hardest to be nonjudgmental when it comes to food choices. If you want to eat meat, then that’s your right. But if you ask us why we’re vegan, we’ll tell you. And when we tell you, we’ll probably give you a delicious vegan cupcake to soak on those thoughts with. And by using this kind of attitude, this kind of approach, we have friends in our lives who went full-on vegan, ones who eat vegan when they’re out and about with us, ones who bring vegan food to our gatherings because they were excited to try their hand at it and ones who have adopted meatless Mondays simply to try and be healthier.

Now tell me again how your preachy, I’m-better-than-you-and-all-the-other-vegans attitude has fared for you so far?

Remember that old saying about the flies, honey and the vinegar? Well, it’s true in this case too.

You attract more flies with fake honey than you do with vinegar, even if my fake «vegan» honey has questionable sugar and your vinegar is made from perfect, vegan air.

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Our Chubby Vegan Super Bowl party

So it’s not really a secret that Chubby Vegan Dad loves football. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard on more than one occasion that he would totally leave me for Tony Romo if the opportunity presented itself. Thankfully, we live in the snowy tundra of Ohio and he appears to be happily married in Texas, so I think I’m safe for a while, anyway.

The thing is, I’m not really the biggest football fan. Actually, up until this year I don’t think I ever watched a complete game. (And if I did it was in college and it wasn’t because of the football, but more the party around it). And then I decided to participate in a fantasy football league. This will forever change my outlook on football. I wanted to understand football better and figured the only way I’d actually follow through with that would be if I had something on the line — like trying to win a fantasy league. Sadly, I didn’t win my league (big shocker, I know), but I did finish better than .500 and I actually developed a slight crush on the sport. It probably helps that I decided whatever quarterback I got for my fantasy league would become the «team» I’d be a fan for, so the performance of Cam Newton and the Panthers certainly heightened the fun.

So despite both of our teams failing to make it to the Super Bowl, we decided to throw a big Super Bowl bash and have fun cheering on whoever was in it. (We ended up being bandwagon Seahawks fans, not because they won, but because we actually liked Richard Sherman and were in complete adoration of Derrick Coleman and his hearing loss story). Oh yeah, and the part where Coleman actually responded to the little girls and then brought their family to the Super Bowl, yeah, I was a crying, melting, mommy mess. That and I actually work for a company that works directly with others who help individuals with hearing loss, so every day I see the struggles and things people who wear hearing aids, cochlear implants and the such go through.

Either way, we just wanted an excuse to throw a party and cook a bunch of delicious food. It was also the perfect excuse for Chubby Vegan Dad and his friend to test out the home beer brewing kits we got them (some of my close friends got together this Christmas and bought all our men these home brewing kits so they could have something to do when we gabbed for hours on our «dates.») We invited over some of our closest friends (and subjected one particular couple to all vegan fare) and not surprisingly, everything seemed to go down smoothly.

When I first went vegan I found myself apologizing to people that I didn’t have «their» food in my home. Then a few years deep, I started wanting others to apologize if they expected me to have «their» food in my home. Now, it’s pretty much an unspoken rule. If it’s a party or gig we’re throwing, the food we’re putting out is going to be vegan. Not because we’re trying to convert everyone, but because we’re passionate about our beliefs and we want to show everyone how damn delicious it can be.

And I’m pretty sure my cupcakes did the trick, FYI. Anywho, we had a hoard of unhealthy junk, including: jalapeno poppers, potato skins, cauliflower «wings,» buffalo chick pea cups, chips, hummus, chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel footballs and sea salt caramel «milky way» cupcakes. Thankfully our friends brought a salad to help semi-balance out all our junky hand food.

Stay tuned because I’ll be posting recipes for at least the buffalo cups and cupcakes later this month, and you really, really don’t want to miss them.

SO let’s hear it friends, when you throw a party do you have all vegan fare? Or if you’re omnivores, would it bother you to test out the vegan food?

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