You are what you draw…

Years ago I started sketching my meals rather than making a list of what I was eating. I thought it would be helpful for both weight loss and to share what vegan meals would look like. The sketches were time-consuming to keep drawing the same 2-3 cups of coffee I drink a day, so I went to a digital format.

If you browse through instagram you can see I will do these sketches intermittently, and then go back to photos. I’d love to create a library so others can catalog their food as well someday.

Take a look!

Happy New Year!

Well, hello. This year, my only big goal is to be more positive and optimistic. There was too much pessimism, depression and negativity last year. It kept me down personally and I felt very unmotivated. I pretty much stopped writing here. This year, I am not going to follow the news every hour. I don’t need to be on the internet in general as much. I think I have moved to acceptance that many things just aren’t going to go well. All I can do is my best within my own sphere.


For this month, I will once again recommend trying a month of plant-based eating. A great pledge to make with a lot of support is Veganuary. I would love to hear your experience with it personally, I have heard great things.

I’ve decided to cut back on sugar this month, I ate enough sweets and chocolate in December for two months at least! I’ll post the food I make here, and you can follow along on Facebook or Instagram for the food illustrations.

Today’s new recipe, Martha Stewart’s banana bread! It had a nice crust on it, a lot of texture and was pretty good! It did have 3/4 cup sugar, so I would probably cut back on that in the future. Jonathan made his special pancake recipe this morning, and I made my minestrone soup and used a ton of vegetables.




Skip the Egg!

If you’ve been following the controversy around eggs lately, you know that most egg consumers want to choose eggs that do not cause undue suffering for the hens. The labels are confusing: organic, vegetarian-fed, cage-free, pasture-raised and more. Conventionally-raised eggs are from hens that are confined in battery cages with less than the space of a piece of paper.

It gets overwhelming to make sense of what these humane labels actually mean. For example, cage-free sounds good, but having all the chickens confined in an airless room can actually create a more unhealthy environment for the animals and the people. And cage-free doesn’t mean they actually are able to go outside. In addition to all of these labels, there are other issues to consider, and the reason that I don’t eat eggs.

The best option if you want to eat chicken eggs, would be to get them from backyard chickens, buy them at a Farmer’s Market, or a local farm. Even if it costs more, you can actually use less, by eating them sparingly.

One way to use less is to replace eggs whenever possible in recipes. Eggs are often used just for binding or creating a fluffy texture.

I’ve grown to prefer my tofu scrambles, and other egg-free recipes.

Here is a chart I illustrated using some substitution ideas.

Please share your favorite egg-free dish with us! I make this tofu egg sandwich every week, with vegan mayo, spinach and tomato on toast— I actually prefer it to chicken eggs.


How do you get your protein?

20160627-ProteinChart-01Ah, the most common question asked, and most common concern for parents whose children want to go vegetarian or vegan.

I selected some of the foods we eat, this is by no means comprehensive! I want to reassure people that it is very possible to thrive on a vegan diet, and if your child wants to go vegetarian, they would be adding cheese, egg and other items.

For an average sedentary man, 56 grams of protein is the daily requirement, for women it is 46g.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10 to 30 percent of the calories a child over age 3 takes in should come from protein. On the average, this equates to 19 grams of protein daily for boys and girls aged 4 to 9 and 34 grams of protein per day for kids aged 9 to 13. As they reach adolescence, boys need more protein than girls. Between the ages 14 to 18, boys should get about 52 grams of protein daily, while girls need approximately 46 grams of protein per day.

I didn’t include a lot of fruit and veg on this chart, even though they do have protein, focusing on ones that have at least 5g. I also didn’t include some which are real powerhouses, but are more obscure- like amaranth. All of these items are easily found in our local grocery store (granted we live in Portland, OR so it is much more accessible for things such as tempeh, seitan, etc). I also didn’t include protein shakes, which are a really easy way to get a boost, and many athletes use them no matter what their diet.

Interestingly, while there is much concern about not eating enough protein, the truth is we may be eating too much protein. Especially teenage boys.

Let me know what you’d like to see included in this chart, or other illustrations that would be helpful! I think I have some space left, I plan to add pasta… and hummus instead of garbanzos. What is your favorite plant-based protein?






Vegan Food & Beer Fest


Last weekend was really busy with the Vegan Beer & Food Festival, and the Old McDonald’s Open House on Saturday, then brunch with friends on Sunday. It was very fun and I love having a lot going on. However, the morning before the festival as I went to the bank for $ for the festival, two stores for items needed for the Open House, picked up 30 pounds (total) of cherries and apples from a “fruit and veggie” guy from Eastern WA, and our local CSA for leafy greens- all before 10:30am, it seemed a bit energetic.

Vegan Beer Fest started in LA, and this is their second time coming to Portland. They have music, vegan booths selling items, many food and drink booths (some from LA, some local).

Last year I had been very interested in going to the Vegan Beer Fest, but didn’t end up going for a few reasons:

1) I couldn’t find anyone interested in going with me. I think because of the word “Vegan”. Really? It’s BEER- vegan or not, these are local great beers.

2) Tickets were $45-65 to get in, and that includes drinks but not food.

3) I don’t really like beer.

4) I don’t really like hipsters- and that seemed to be the majority of the crowd based on photos.

So, you can see why spending $45 to go alone but be surrounded with hipsters and drink mostly kombucha didn’t really appeal to me.

This year, I scored a half-price ticket early on, but then was invited by a printer friend who I work with to go as a VIP. Going early was really nice, since there weren’t lines at any of the food and drink booths. Except one: Herbivorous Butcher, a brother/sister team from Minneapolis was there. It was the one food booth I was really set on trying, and we decided to go there first. They have been wildly successful, based on the press I have read making their homemade vegan meats and cheeses. They had two items they were selling: one was a couple of deep-fried chicken pieces in mashed potatoes with gravy, inside a waffle cone ($11). I also ordered their Korean beef jerky ($5). The owners were there, and they were actually very cute, nice hipsters.


My friend has been vegetarian for over 20 years, so she has actually forgotten what meat tastes like. I don’t think this seitan meat was exactly like meat, but it was delicious with the crispy, spicy breading and textures. We barely finished that, it was a lot of food. I saved the jerky for later.


After that, well, I won’t go into each beer, cider and kombucha we tasted for now- mostly because I lost my list. Oregonic Tonic stood out for me in the kombucha. I tasted a lot of delicious beers and ciders. There were many fruity options, which worked well for me. And the fact that the glass was only 3 oz, was really nice. We were given 20 beer coupons to get in (the kombucha and coffees are free), apparently I only had 9 beers and ciders, so my  illustration is actually off by three drinks.


As for food, we split everything which really helped us be able to try more things. You can see everything we tried in the illustration.

My only regret is not being physically able to eat more- especially missing dessert. We left after only 3 hours, if we stayed longer, we could have eaten a lot more. There is only so much one can eat and drink in a few hours!


It was definitely worth going this year, especially being invited as a business vendor. And shout out to CCL Label, who does very high-quality digital labels at their local Oregon press. Otherwise, I still think I might go, but only with half-price tickets because of my small drinking capacity, and definitely with some friends to share the food.


June 10


The day before Vegan Beer and Food festival, I tried to keep it light. My daughter and I went out to the Farm to set up for their Open House and were gone from 10-4. By the time we got back, I was so hungry, I had to stop at our local Vietnamese tofu shop Bui’s on our way home. Love their salad rolls, lemngrass and green onion tofu. Nice people, and they will even make up fresh salad rolls on the spot if they run out. Summer goal: recreate their delicious salad rolls myself without messing up the rice wrappers.

By the way, drawing salad rolls is hard!

Food illustrations, and new website design coming soon!

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog, we had a lot going on with the end of the school year, and with work.

A new website design is launching soon, to make recipes easier to find, as well as my artwork.

Today I spent most of the day with my daughter out on at the farm where we volunteer. It was a beautiful day (with just a few bursts of rain), and the animals were so happy to be out enjoying grass, and roaming around the property.

The food illustrations keep coming and going, but I enjoy doing them and am relaunching them for the summer. It not only keeps a visual record for me on what I am eating, it hopefully gives other people ideas on what to eat. I’m making more of an effort this summer to eat healthier and less… well, after tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the 2nd annual Vegan Beer and Food Festival. Last year I didn’t end up going because it is actually quite expensive- $45 for a general admission ticket. I don’t usually drink beer, so that makes it even less of a good deal! Also, I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I am not sure if it was because of the cost or that the word “vegan” is used.

This year, I was lucky enough to be invited as VIP. I’m kind of liking beer a bit, and I heard they have cider and wine too. Most of all, I want to try the great vendors. That will get a whole post.

If you want to follow my Instagram, I will be posting a lot of the food illustrations there. I love Instagram, my photos remind me of the things I love: animals, nature, kids and art.

Yesterday’s food highlight was the delicious vegan sushi from Sushi Love! So, so good…


Veg journey- easy or hard?

© THRIVE creative

Is it easy or hard to become vegan? A lot of people talk about the transition from eating meat to plant-based diet as a journey. Within the vegan community there may be dispute about the concept of baby steps.

It is possible that some people went from watching a video or talking to a friend, directly to embracing a vegan life. For many others, there are different paths, and some stop in different places, often for years.

I made this scale to show that there are easy steps to take no matter where you are.

For my personal path I went from watching a documentary to taking a 30 day vegan challenge to 90% plant-based and now extending to ethical (C to M to N to O).

Many people stay at vegetarian level forever or for years. I am always surprised at what triggers someone to take further action. It is very individual. One long-term pescetarian told me she was considering going vegan after seeing a beautiful live salmon is a stream while on a hike. Other omnivores may make a connection between their pet companion and be struck by the similarity to intelligence and sensitivity to farm animals.

If you aren’t ready to go vegetarian or vegan, there are other steps you can take from Reducetarian, to Meatless Mondays to Vegan before 6.

Where are you on the scale? What order did you take? Any other major steps along the way you think should be added?


New plan for recipes


I draw what I eat (usually), and write some commentary about it and the recipes. However, that makes it really hard to separate the recipes out. So, the plan is to reorganize! In the meantime it is a muddle… I made Mujadara yesterday for the first time. I don’t make as many Middle Eastern recipes. This recipe was simple enough, but it takes a full hour and a half to make. You pre-cook lentils, and then take time to really caramelize the onions, and the rice cooks in that mixture afterwards.

It turned out well- my caveats: probably used the wrong lentils. Ours were green, not brown. I felt like it used a lot of oil. I think I would cut that back from 1/4 cup. That was the only thing that wasn’t very healthy about the dish. I skipped the crispy onion part since I already used 2 onions, which is 2 onions too many for one of the kids.

Lastly, I finally got the vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream after much hype about it. I had visited our local B&J shop at least twice, and they didn’t have it, kept checking Fred Meyers with no luck. Finally, I tried Target since I heard they had it. I hate going to Target because I end up spending too much money buying stuff I don’t need. I made this special trip to buy the ice cream (along with some kid clothes). It was very disappointing to see that they didn’t have it there.

In this case, I decided to ask the stock person (on the advice of another local vegan). He said it was actually in the back. I waited for probably around 15 minutes while he went into some deep freeze area and came back with 4 options. All of them cost $4.99, much more than their dairy counterparts. I got two of them to try out.

This ice cream is made with almond milk, and I really like the coffee caramel fudge one. Maybe it’s elusiveness added extra pleasure. After my daughter tried it she exclaimed, “that’s it, I am going vegan”.


February 17: Back to work!

I had a great long weekend filled with good friends, food and a lot of wine. I am trying to catch up- but there is my actual work to do as well and catching up with family as well. Here is today’s food diary. I made some favorites: Lunchbox cookies (somehow only made one dozen!!) which lasted only one day, and Vegan shepherd’s pie made with mushrooms. The recipe is in the comments, but you the little video is so well-done and makes this look even easier than it is. It was once again so good that we decided not to bake it and just ate the whipped mashed potatoes with the delicious “gravy” filling on top. All of us had leftover vegan meatloaf from the Engine 2 Diet book.