Our First Vegan Thanksgiving Did Not Disappoint!!! 😁

Thanksgiving was very different this year for Dane and I. Traditionally, we would eat all of the traditional fare with all of the fixings, but this year we have been feeling so great with our new way of eating that we tried not to go off plan. Dane did not budge but I sometimes believe in the 90/10 rule or probably more like 80/20 rule 😂.  We had all of our family here for the big event and it is BIG at our house, especially since it is my most favorite holiday of the year. I love all of the fuss!

My family, of course, wanted the traditional thanksgiving meal so I tried to compromise to make everyone happy. I did make the traditional turkey, which I posted the recipe a few weeks ago. It is seriously the most moist and juicy turkey you will ever eat. My family loves it each year. I made a stuffing recipe that was vegan, no oil. I know, it was tricky but with a little white wine and vegetable broth, it was a success! My son-in-law, Garrett, made it and did a fantastic job. Ohmyveggies.com has an amazing recipe for Super Vegan Traditional Stuffing and everyone thought it was great. Mashed potatoes were made with no butter but with a bit of almond milk and Dane made the most delicious gravy—mushroom gravy, which is his own concoction. He’s still working on the recipe but a lot of our family had it and said it was delicious. I loved it. I did make the traditional gravy to go along with the turkey for those that wanted it. The beans were steamed and were delicious by themselves. We had vegan rolls, which did have some vegan butter that was called Earth Balance-soy free dairy free. They turned out to be scrumptious. One of the things that is a must on Thanksgiving is the traditional Watergate salad that my mother would make each year.  It reminds me of her and I love it. She’s been gone for more than ten years now and her Watergate salad legacy lives on! It’s like a small piece of her is here with me. She loved thanksgiving too and it’s a time when my family would gather each year. I miss it. 

And ahhhhh the pies! That’s when I caved. Banana cream pie is a fav and I also love pumpkin pie, but had requests for pecan pie and apple, so I made those too. I decided to do a vegan pumpkin pie and try a recipe from the minimalistbaker.com, which was a recipe that I thought I had tested the week before, but nope! Wrong recipe!! Not my fav, I have to say, and I was pretty disappointed. I also tried a vegan banana cream pie from that site that I didn’t like either, so I made the traditional banana cream pie! Seriously, I just love it and I also love coconut cream pie. All in all, it was a success and the new way of eating did not disappoint this holiday fare :). Cheers to healthy living!

Moist Thanksgiving Turkey–Brined Roast Turkey w Sage Butter Rub

Okay peeps!  I had to do it!  For all of you carnivores out there :).  Seriously, though, who likes dry turkey?  Ummm NOT ME!  LOL.  I have used this recipe for several years now and every Thanksgiving I get oooooo’s and ahhhhh’s and yummmm’s about it.  This is definitely one of our family’s favorites for Thanksgiving.  I hope you like it :).  Oh, and over Thanksgiving break, don’t forget about the plantoeat.com sale.  It’s only ONE time a year, so take advantage of it and enjoy the turkey :).

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Brined Roast Turkey with Sage Butter Rub

If you’re planning to make a brined turkey, make sure you don’t buy a kosher turkey, which has already been treated with salt. Serves twelve to fourteen. Yields about 1/2 cup rub.

Source: finecooking.com

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Serves: 12 Scale


  • For the brine and turkey:
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 14 cup granulated sugar
  • One 14-lb. fresh natural turkey; giblets removed and reserved
  • Olive oil as needed
  • For the sage butter:
  • 12 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 tsp. Bell’s poultry seasoning (optional)


  1. Make a basic brine: In a 6-qt. or larger pot, combine the 1 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 qt. cool water. Put the pot over high heat and stir occasionally until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in another 2 qt. water and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Soak the turkey in the brine: Remove the neck, giblets, and tail (if present) from the turkey; reserve them for making the turkey broth. Discard the liver. Rinse the turkey well. Double up two turkey-size oven bags and then roll down the edges of the bags a bit to help them stay open. Put the bags in a heavy-duty roasting pan and put the turkey, breast side down, in the inner bag. Pour the brine over the turkey (have someone hold the bags open for you, if possible). Gather the inner bag tightly around the turkey so the brine is forced to cover most of the turkey and secure the bag with a twist tie. Secure the outer bag with a twist tie. Refrigerate the turkey (in the roasting pan, to catch any leaks) for 12 to 18 hours.
  3. Make the sage butter: In a medium bowl, stir all the ingredients until well combined. Refrigerate if making ahead.
  4. Roast the turkey: Heat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it very well, and pat it dry with paper towels. Discard the brine and oven bags. With your hands, gently loosen the skin from the turkey breast and legs, being careful not to tear the skin. Use one hand to distribute the sage butter under the skin and use your other hand outside the skin to massage and smooth the butter as evenly as possible over the turkey breast and as much of the legs as you can get to. Tuck the wings behind the turkey to secure the neck skin and loosely tie the legs together. Rub the turkey all over with a light coating of olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt (to help crisp the skin). Put the turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy-duty flameproof roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven, with the legs pointing to the back of the oven, if possible.
  5. After the turkey has been roasting for 1 hour, begin rotating the roasting pan (for even browning) and basting the turkey with pan drippings every 30 minutes or so. If there aren’t enough drippings to baste with at first, use a little olive oil until there are drippings. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 170°F and the juices run clear when you remove the thermometer. Check the temperature in both thighs; sometimes one thigh will be done before the other. The total roasting time will be about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Transfer the turkey to a carving board, tent it with foil, and let it rest while you make your mushroom gravy.

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Garlicky Thyme Tempeh; Healthy Meal Planning & A Free Trial Offer from plantoeat.com :)

Ahhhh the dreaded task of meal planning.  I remember 15 years ago when my kids were little (WOW, that makes me feel so old haha), my sister-in-law, Tami, and I would meet at McDonald’s every week, let the kids eat (ewww) and play and go to work meal planning.  We would bring recipe books galore and 3×5 cards, so we could share recipes, make a meal plan and write out our grocery list.  It would take us at least a couple of hours and that wasn’t even doing the grocery shopping! The feeling of checking that off our weekly to-do list was quite a sense of accomplishment and it still is, but now there is an easier way and I mean waaaaay easier.  Hurray for technology!!!  A few years ago my neighbor told me about this awesome new site she was using for meal planning and that if I joined, we could be friends and could have access to each other’s recipes.  Well, this was a no brainer for me because my neighbor was one of the best cooks and I wanted her recipes!!  It has made my life so much easier and I have an offer for you from my favorite plantoeat.com site :).  I seriously LOVE this site!!  It’s so simple to use.  Here is the link to get a special trial offer from them.   Plan to Eat  Try it out yourself and see if it works for you.  You can upload recipes from different blogs, key in your own recipes, plan out your weekly menu and also have your grocery list done for you.  Lickity split!!

Now let’s talk a bit more about meal planning…………

A few weeks ago, I did a short presentation for the local girls biking club on healthy meal planning, so I thought I would share that with you. Click on the link and you may find some ideas to help.

Healthy Meal Planning 

Here is a recipe that I tried this week that was sooooo awesome!!  I also uploaded it to my plan to eat account and shared it and, of course, it’s from one of my favorite cookbooks right now “Isa Does It :).  I served it with roasted veggies and brown rice.  I liked crumbling the tempeh up so a little bit was in every bite.  It would also be good crumbled up on a salad too.  Delicious!

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Garlicky Thyme Tempeh

Source: isachandra.com

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Asian

Main Ingredient: Tempeh

Serves: 4 Scale


  • 8 oz tempeh
  • For the marinade:
  • 2 T soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed
  • 12 C veggie broth
  • 2 T white balsalmic vinegar (or 1 tablespoon regular balsamic)
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 14 C fresh thyme leaves whole, soft stems roughly chopped
  • 2 T olive oil (optional)


  1. If your tempeh is a rectangle: slice it into 2 squares. Slice those squares into two thin squares across the middle, sort of like a clamshell. Now slice each square corner to corner, into triangles. You should have 8 thin triangles.
  2. If your tempeh is square: slice in half into two rectangles. Slice each rectangle across the middle, sort of like a clamshell. Then slice in half, into squares. You should have 8 thin squares.
  3. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. It’s going to smell like baking bread!
  4. In the meantime, mix all mariande ingredients together in a big bowl. When tempeh is ready, transfer it directly into the marinade.
  5. Let marinate for 1 to 4 hours, flipping occasionally.
  6. To grill:
  7. Preheat lightly oiled grill on medium high (indoor or outdoor). Cook tempeh for 5 minutes on each side, flipping with a metal spatula, so that it doesn’t stick. Tip: rub thyme and garlic on each side. Some will fall off, but not all of it.
  8. To broil:
  9. Preheat broiler. Keeping a close eye, broil tempeh on a baking sheet places 2 to 3 inches away from flame. 3 to 5 minutes each side. Baste with some of the liquid when you flip.
  10. Serve immediately!

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Stay tuned next Friday for an awesome Friend Friday Post :).

How’s the Whole Food Plant Based Diet Going and What Is It? 

Okay folks, many of you are asking me how the whole food plant based lifestyle is going, so let me tell you–IT’S GOING AWESOME, even while we were on vacation to New York City for the NY Marathon, we had a great time seeking out restaurants that fit our new lifestyle. It was like looking for a treasure every day and so fun! I’ll write more about that in another post. When I say whole food plant based diet, I mean lots of veggies, whole grains, beans and legumes, a little fruit and nuts, so we don’t have any dairy, meat or eggs.  The next question people usually ask is…… “What do you eat?” or say to me “I could never do that!” haha Well, let me tell you, that YOU CAN DO IT!!!  I like to focus on what I can eat and less on what i can’t eat and then pretty soon, a whole new world opens up to you and it’s AWESOME and you will notice a difference in how you feel!!

The learning curve…… and I’m still learning. I have to openly admit, I’m not to the point where I can just make up a recipe and roll with it YET. With the mainstream way of eating, I could totally make things up as I went and my meal would come out delish, but with this new vegan diet with no oil, I have had some pretty awesome failures lol. Are failures awesome? Seems a little ridiculous. 😂 I don’t want to get into that part of it because I am a food blogger and suppose to know what the heck I’m doing. 😂  It’s been awesome though and I love learning new ways of cooking so this is fun. Some observations I have discovered when cooking and since adapting to this new way of eating.

1.  When using an Instant Pot for beans and lentils, use the lesser number for cooking time after soaking them over night instead of the greater. You know the instructions that the Instant Pot comes with? It instructs us to cook beans for 20-25 min. I tend to go with the 25 number, but I’m learning to go with the 20 number. I’m not a fan of soggy beans I’ve learned. Ha.

2.  Your tastebuds do change. I don’t want to say this one in a negative way at all. It’s a great thing and believe me, I love good food! Eating my favorite calorie laden chocolate chip oatmeal cookies nearly blows my head off now haha. I never thought I would say that😜.

3.  I’ve man some pretty bomb vegan recipes, like the AMAZING CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE. I adapted from the cookbook, “Isa Does It.”  I’ve shared that in a recent post. Seriously, it’s so incredible that you would not know that it had no oil nor would you know that it was vegan.

4. When sautéing veggies in a pan with no oil…. put the veggies in the pan on med high and cook them until they brown a bit. (be attentive here and don’t get distracted, which is my problem) Now add a tad bit of vegetable broth, like you would add some oil–not too much but just enough :), put the lid on for a few min, stir, and cook until the desired doneness.  When roasting, put veggies on parchment paper and salt and pepper. Mix up about 1/4 c vegetable broth (I like using the “Better than Vegetable Broth”) and drizzle it on the veggies. Rub them with it a bit to get it all over. Bake in hot oven at 425 degrees for about 10 min and stir. Put back in and cook another 7-10 min. They are so good!

How Does My Body Feel?

I seriously feel SO GREAT! I’ve been doing a lot of different endurance events within the last month, most recently the ​New York Marathon, St. George Marathon, a 78 mile bike race with my daughter, and two biking events in the Huntsman World Senior Games. My recovery from each event has been so much quicker than previous years of just running St. George Marathon . My muscles seem to be more healthy, faster recovery time and stronger with the Plant Based diet. Three days after completing the St. George marathon, I did the World Senior Games hill climb event, where I was timed climbing up 886 feet for 3 miles. I was worried about my legs still being tired from the marathon but they felt GREAT! The following day I did a 12 mile time trial and felt GREAT pushing it and 10 days after this event, I did a 75 mile road bike race with my daughter and felt GREAT! Enough said about all of my crazy addiction with endurance, but this new way of eating works. It’s fueling my body with the nutrients it needs to recover and with no injuries (knock on wood😜). 

About eating animals…….

I have to say, I have a new outlook on meat these days. Why do we eat some animals and not others? Isn’t it weird to think about? Why do we eat chicken and not cats or why do we eat cows and not horses? It’s crazy when you don’t eat meat, the way your mind switches gears. To me, man was meant to eat grains, plants and lentils and beans. It’s so easy to do and our body loves it!

There are a million recipes for eating vegan and cookbooks. Here are a couple of my favs.  We are doing no oil so I look up substitutions for different recipes because it is a different substitution if your roasting veggies than if your baking something. It’s so easy to figure out substitutions with Pinterest on our side 🙂 and with the resources we have online.  This way of eating doesn’t limit you, it’s just a different way of adjusting eating. By not consuming meat, you’re freeing your body of the inflammation meat causes and lowering your cholesterol, among many other benefits such as weight loss. You feel the difference in the first week of going Plant Based. I feel less bloated and I feel very satiated and I’m losing about 1/2 lb a week. My DH however, is losing more like 2 lbs a week and looks amazing! If you have any questions or comments, please email me at itsapegslife@gmail.com and I’m happy to share more about I with you. Until then, happy Plant Based Eating :).

Check out these videos that talk about eating plant based:

Netflix:  Forks Over Knives, What The Health

YouTube:  Plant-strong & healthy living: Rip Esselstyn at TEDxFremontwww.youtube.com/watch?v=AAkEYcmCCCk&t=38s,

Power Foods for the Brain | Neal Barnard | TEDxBismarck at www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_ONFix_e4k&t=796s

Just key in Plant Based Whole Food Diet in the search bar on youtube and you’ll find a ton of info about it.  You’ll be amazed at what nourishing your body with good whole food will do for your overall health and well being.