meatless monday, mostly meatless meredith

Hey friends! Happy Monday/MLK Day. Today is my last day of “winter break” and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in shock about it. Where did January go? I am happy that I feel like I accomplished a lot of my wedding to-do list in my time off from classes, however, it’s still shocking how fast time goes by as we age. While I’m sad to see vacation end, I’m also excited to get back into a daily routine and get this show on the road with classes. I can’t wait to be done already!!

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hehehe!
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Anyway, since I haven’t blogged much at all in the last couple of months, I haven’t had the chance to share what I’ve been eating lately. Since this has always first-and-foremost been a food blog to me, I want to stay honest about it. Ever since December, I’ve been dabbling with eating a (mostly) plant-based diet. Brandon and I actually declared December as a “Meatless Month”, with the exception of a few pieces of bacon here-and-there (whoops), and seafood. I’m just not interested in cutting out seafood…life is too short and I love it too much! Anyway, to me, this isn’t a diet. It’s a lifestyle. This diagram does a good job of explaining what exactly what a plant-based diet consists of:

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There’s been a few reasons behind this switch, one because I’ve never been a huge “meat” person, and two because I’ve always generally felt better (on the inside and out)when I’m eating mostly plant-based foods.Truthfully though, my entire mind-set shifted entirely after seeing the movies Forks Over Knives and Food Inc. in one of my classes this semester. (Watch these movies!!!) I am so happy to now have more awareness and knowledge surrounding the prevalent health issues linked to animal-based diets, and after learning about the secrets behind the meat industry, I now feel that eating meat and most other animal-based foods just isn’t for me. Trust me, I know this isn’t for everyone, and I’d never push this on anyone! In fact, I can and will still cook  with some animal products, be around it, and serve it; it’s just not something that I, personally, want to eat anymore.

I think my main concern (and my family’s main concern) was where I would get my protein from. I stopped eating dairy a few months ago (with the exception of cheese pizza and ice cream now-and-then because like I said, life is too short!), so that hasn’t been too difficult for me. Vanilla almond milk=my favorite! However, it’s astonishing how many people believe that if we don’t eat meat, we will be protein deficient. That couldn’t be more false! Instead of meat protein, I’ve been focusing on getting my protein from other things: like grains, seeds, seafood, nuts and legumes. Here’s some of the things I’ve been making/eating:

2-bean taco salads
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Roasted vegetables
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Shrimp, quinoa, and vegetables
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Broccoli slaw quinoa salad
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Flourless blueberry pancakes with walnuts and gluten-free granola
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Rice pasta, grilled shrimp, and roasted cauliflower

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Arugula quinoa salad with peanut-butter rice cakes
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Peanut butter protein bites
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Anyway, I’m not preaching anything here, I simply wanted to share this with all of you in hopes to show that eating a mostly plant-based diet can still be delicious and nutritious, and maybe some of you will want to go “meatless” once and a while, too. I’ll be back this week with a recipe; talk to you soon, friends!

What is your favorite meatless meal?
Lately, mine is a big salad with quinoa and vegetables, and I’m loving experimenting with more cauliflower-based dishes.
Would you ever switch to a mostly-plant-based diet?

hello, 2015

Hello out there and Happy New Year! It’s been a while, that’s for sure. I know I’m a week late on the New Year thing, but it just wouldn’t feel right not saying it in my first post of 2015. Is anyone else freaking out that it’s 2015? I AM (but in a good way). 2015=wedding year!!!

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#truth
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Anyway, a lot has happened around here since the last time I’ve written!
1st semester=complete:
Finishing up my first semester of grad school was a big accomplishment and SUCH a feeling of relief for me. See ya never again, organic chemistry!

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Next semester will be even busier, but I’m looking forward to it, especially since I’ll be in mostly nutrition-based classes from this point forward.

Holidays:
Christmas came and went, and it was nothing short of amazing. I love that  some of the Christmas traditions my Mom and Dad have had with my sisters and me  since we were little have stuck, even as we’ve grown older. Baking the same desserts and appetizers each year, wrapping gifts together, blasting the Christmas music, gosh I love the holidays. We don’t open a single gift until all of us are together,  either, which means we’re usually opening until midnight, but it’s such a blast.
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I also love celebrating with two families, not just one. Love my French family!

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For our gift to each other, Brandon and I spent a night in Kennebunkport, Maine (the place of our engagement.) We stayed at David’s Boathouse Hotel, and now we would highly recommend it. Loved, loved, loved it! Check out this view from our room:
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Plus, a personal parking spot wasn’t too shabby, either Winking smile
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New Year’s Eve was also amazing. We attended our second-annual  house party at our friend’s New Hampshire home. It really is the greatest party ever because we wear “comfortable” pants on the bottom (a.k.a. pajamas or sweatpants) and a dressy shirt on the top, since all you see in pictures is the top, anyway, and then everyone is comfortable the entire night. Isn’t that genius?! I went with polka dot pajama pants…thanks Aunt Jane!  : –)

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I made these garlic knots from Pinterest for the party and they were amazingly easy and amazingly tasty!
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Wedding planning madness!
Since Christmas, wedding planning has been in full swing. With the upcoming semester coming quickly, I’ve been trying to cross as many things off of the list as possible.
Venue =check

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Shoes=check

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Dress=check
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Photographer=check!

Website, registry, flowers, dj, videographer, accommodations, etc…in the works!

I’ve been cooking quite a bit lately, too, and have some fun recipes to share in the next couple of weeks. It feels good to get back into a routine after the holidays, that’s for sure.

Talk to you soon, friends!

What was your favorite part of the holidays?

Anyone else getting married this year? For those of you already married, please tell me I’m not alone on this feeling!

life lately

Hello out there! How is it nearly mid-November? I can’t believe a month has passed since I’ve written…yikes. I just renewed my blog name, so a promise I’ve made to myself is that 2015 is my writing year!

Anyway, today is extra special because today, my beautiful Mom celebrates her 61st birthday.
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We love you , Mom!

And yesterday, my second-Dad celebrated his birthday, too! Happy birthday, Dad! We love you : –)
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So, back to life lately. October & November (so far) have been pretty busy around here!

We finished up our year-of-weddings:
We were invited to 9, and were able to attend 7 of them overall. What a whirlwind, but a wonderful whirlwind it was. Each wedding was beautiful and unique in their own way, and all of them were full of love, my favorite! Thanks to all of our friends and family for including us in your special days.

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We traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, and became obsessed with it:
A city that is filled with rocking chairs everywhere and beautiful sunshine instantly became a favorite of mine!

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I saw Demi Lovato in concert:
A weekend in Connecticut with my twin, her husband and the puppies was LONG overdue. We may have partied a little too hard, but we also carved pumpkins and got some quality time together. Such a blast!

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I became obsessed with over-sized earrings:
I may have an accessories addiction, but since these were on a super-sale, it’s okay, right?

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We’ve been searching constantly for a wedding venue:
I can’t believe we don’t have a venue yet, but it’s been a much harder process than I ever imagined. To our friends and family,  we’ll have a date and a venue before Thanksgiving! What I can say, for now, is that it will be in Maine : –)
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I’m off to class, but I’ll be back soon with a couple of oatmeal-based snack recipes…they’re just too good not to share!
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Have a great rest of the week, friends!

What have you been up to lately?
Has anyone else been to Charleston, SC? Did you love it?!

Friday favorites: Apartment edition

Hey there friends! Happy Friday and happy October. WOW…October? Where did that come from? It’s hard to believe it’s fall, and hard to believe we’ve lived in our new place for over a month now. The last time I wrote, Brandon and I had just moved; however between classes, the move, and working weekends, I simply haven’t had the chance to sit down, write, and share about it.
Since I had a few minutes, it’s Friday, and I love to read blogs about new homes and home improvements, I thought it would be fun to share some favorites from our new place.

The best part about moving is the decorating, right? It certainly is in my opinion! The top 3 things I’ve learned from moving thus far:
I have a Home Goods problem.
I have a T.J. Maxx problem.
I have a Marshall’s problem. 
Luckily, I didn’t do tooooo much damage since I’ve had 4 different apartments over the last 7 years (!!!) and between Brandon and me we already had most of furniture and things to fill it, but the first step in curing an addiction is to admit it, right? Winking smile

While I love our apartment for many reasons(such as the location, the quiet, and the gym, just to name a few) I have a few favorites inside our new place, too: 
Our nautical décor and tall windows:
I am all about nautical (always have been) and love the look of the starfish in the top window pane. Also, we found this great “Maine” sign listing all of our favorite places on the coast that matches perfectly. The tall windows that let the sunshine come through each day are also a favorite. Plus, to go along with the nautical theme, this rope mirror was a must (Home Goods find…obsessed!)
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Kitchen and signage:
I’ve always loved being in the kitchen, and it remains my favorite spot in our place! The counter space, island, and signs make me smile. We haven’t completely finished it, but here’s a sneak peak:IMG_0259IMG_0274

Bathroom colors:
Lately, I’ve been loving light yellow, and when we moved in I knew I wanted the bathroom to be nice and bright. Because of this, we went with a yellow and white color contrast. Here’s a peek, plus some more signs (told you I have an addiction)!
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Living with this guy: Love love LOVE living with him again (clearly this picture shows he loves it too…hehehe):
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He is such a handy man and did all of the dirty work when it came to moving. Our place looks better and better each day thanks to him. Love you B!
With that, I’m off to class. Hope you enjoyed this sneak peak SmileHappy Friday, friends!

What’s your favorite part of your apartment/condo/house?
Does anyone else have a “signage” obsession like me?

Catching up & a Quinoa Recipe

Hey there and happy Thursday to you all! It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. Between getting engaged(!!!!), moving,  starting classes, attending amazing weddings and still working weekends, I feel like I’ve been in “go-go-go” mode constantly. However, Brandon and I were SO excited to move into our new place. Minus the actual “moving” part, it has been so surreal to set up our new home together as fiancés! (Can I just admit how much I love saying that?!)

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I also started my Master’s Degree program last week, which was exciting yet overwhelming all at once.  Organic Chemistry will be consuming my life for the next four months. #sendhelp
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Anyway, back to our new place. I think my favorite part of our new digs is the kitchen. The counters, the cabinets, the island, the set-up…I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it (I will share a picture once it’s all set up). Plus, having a new kitchen makes me so much more motivated to cook. Healthy dinners for the win!

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Speaking of healthy dinners, my favorite vegetarian protein source lately is quinoa. I started to eat quinoa back in Australia and I haven’t turned back since. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t too fond of it, but that’s because it tasted really bland to me. However, once I researched it a bit, I learned that if you cook it in chicken broth (or vegetable broth), it’s so much more flavorful. After that, I became hooked.  It’s a great source of protein, filling, gluten-free, and simply delicious. This week, I decided to use up some random vegetables in my fridge and make a veggie-quinoa mix. It’s so easy and makes terrific leftovers, too. To complete my dinner, I stuffed a red pepper with the mixture and baked it for 15 minutes, eating it alongside of some roasted veggies and corn (off) the cob. I plan on putting the mix on salads as leftovers for the rest of the week! Here’s my recipe:

Veggie & Black Bean Quinoa Mix
1 cup quinoa
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup black beans
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
handful of spinach
salt/pepper/seasonings to taste
1 red pepper (optional)

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2) Place quinoa and chicken (or vegetable) broth in a saucepan, stir, and put burner on high. Once it begins to boil, lower temperature to a simmer and cover (stirring every few minutes), until it’s thickened and fluffy. (This will take about 15 minutes). Trust me, one cup expands IMMENSLY!
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3) While the quinoa cooks, chop your vegetables. I chose onions, squash, mushrooms, red pepper and spinach, and at the last minute I added some black beans in, too. The beauty of this dish is you can honestly use any vegetables in your fridge.
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4) Stir-fry these on the stove until cooked thoroughly (using spices of your choice), and add the spinach in at the last minute. Once cooked, set aside until the quinoa is finished.
5) Once the quinoa has finished cooking, add the vegetables in. Voila, you have your quinoa mix!
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6) ***Optional: I cleaned a pepper out and stuffed/baked the mixture inside for about 15 minutes, but this isn’t necessary. You could also just stand at your stovetop and eat it too (yes, I am guilty of this Winking smile)

Have a great rest of your week and weekend, friends. Happy almost fall!

***9-11-2001 Never Forget***

Do you cook with quinoa? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it?

Any recipes to share?
Any one else move in September?

Gahhhh moving is the worst!

Engaged! The best question of my life

Hello, hello! Happy Labor Day, I hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend. For the past week I have had some exciting news to share, but I never got the chance to hop on here and write. Since I never ever want to forget a single detail about this, I figured today was better late than never!

This past Sunday on August 24th, 2014, I was asked the best question of my life.
Down on the ocean in beautiful Kennebunkport, Maine, Brandon asked me to marry him. I don’t think there will ever be another moment that takes my breath away or surprises me quite like this one, and I know for certain I will never forget it.
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My Fiancé

Although I’ve known that Brandon was the one for me and would be my future husband, I truly didn’t expect this to happen after work last Sunday evening! I was 100% surprised and so so happy; it was done in typical Brandon fashion; heartfelt, caring, and full of love. It was truly the best night of my life.  I feel so honored that he asked me to be his wife, and couldn’t be happier that our families are being joined together forever. A new brother, the best in-laws and a wonderful extended family is just icing on the cake…so happy!
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Brandon brings so much joy, laughter, and purpose to my life and I can’t wait to spend forever with him.  I’ve currently been replaying our engagement-evening events in my head over and over again, and smiling so hard my face hurts. Since I never want to forget this moment, I wrote a little poem of my memories that night:

Our Engagement: A Night to Remember

A drive to the water
we were all dressed up,
it was a Sunday evening date
where I thought we’d just laugh and catch up.

But you had a plan, 
one that I did not know;
so sneaky yet organized
everything just seemed to flow. 

Since drives to the ocean are one of our favorite things
it wasn’t abnormal to stop and sit,
listen to the surf,
and smell the air that it brings.

Little did I know when you parked at the beach
that when you said you wanted to touch the water
you were planning to go down on one knee.

This night was going to be one to remember,
it was part of your plan,
to say a heartfelt speech
and ask for my hand.

I can’t believe I almost ruined it,
being so late from work,
crushing your sunset plans
and all of those ocean-side perks.

But sometimes the best moments go unrehearsed,
and since I had no idea I went and said something first.
“When are we going to get a dog” I asked,
it seemed that was all that you needed,
since you responded really fast.

When you said “there’s something that has to happen before we get our dog”
I still didn’t get it,
it was like my mind was in a fog.

But you followed that by getting down on one knee,
looking me straight in the eye,
asking “will you marry me?”

That beautiful ring
glistening in the dark,
your smile so bright
I could feel the love and the spark.

Due to sheer surprise,
I barely remember my reply
but it was an obvious yes
to this dream guy of mine.

Sealed with a kiss, a hug,
and about a million “I love you, oh my god’s”
we ran to the car to share the news
with our loved ones near & far.

The most memorable night for both of us
and for our families too,
I can’t wait to spend all of my life with you.

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Thank you to all of our family and friends for your heartfelt congratulations, love, and support. I’m so excited to be Mrs. French!

xoxo

p.s. Summer 2015 wedding is the plans…wedding date coming soon! Smile

Friday Confessions: moments

Hey friends! Long time, no talk. Time sure has slipped away from me this summer. It is SO hard to believe we’re almost to Labor Day.  I don’t know how you’re feeling about it, but I’m quite honestly having mixed emotions.  Since the end of summer is upon us (I hate saying that but it’s true… I start classes in less than 2 weeks!), I wanted to be sure I wrote about some of my favorite moments through the last few months. After all, even though I originally started this blog to share recipes,  it has truly become a space to also express my feelings and write about memories I never want to forget.

We all have moments that stick out in our minds…happy and sad moments, freaking-out moments,  life is oh-so-good moments, etc. I’ve certainly had my fair share of cries and hysterical moments this summer, but all-in-all, there’s been a lot more happy moments that stand-out in my mind more than anything at all. For one, Brandon came home,  for another, my sister got married, and just yesterday we signed a lease and move in one week! While the summer has also had its challenging moments, mostly it’s been incredibly special. I will always look back on these few months and cherish these times.   My favorite moments were:

Moments with my parents: It’s been incredibly rewarding to live with my parents this past year. Having this one-on-one time with them day-in and day-out as an adult has been so special. I’ll always hold dear to my heart the early morning work-outs and walks with my Mom, movie and dinner dates with my Dad, bike rides, mother/daughter day-off trips, and grocery shopping together…man-oh-man I’m going to miss my parents. I will never be able to thank them enough for their generosity this year and I will always treasure these moments.

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An evening stroll in Kennebunkport

Fried food date with Dad (YOLO)
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Bike ride cuties

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Moments with friends: I haven’t seen nearly enough of my girlfriends these past few months, but no matter how far apart we live, the second we’re together, it’s just like old times. Much love to my girls.
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Moments with my other half:Although I’ve only seen my sister ONCE this summer (I can’t even believe that’s the truth), every second of  being together was wonderful. Best friends forever and always.

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Moments with grandparents (and the grand-dogs):
It has been a summer of adjustment without our Boppa around for all of us, especially for Nana. For that reason, we’ve tried to keep her busy and keep her surrounded by loved ones at all times.  Moments with Nana and my Mem are always full of laughter and love, but they’re never quite long enough. My parents would agree that moments with their “grand-dogs” are never quite long enough, either.
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Moments of celebrating love:
It is the summer of weddings and I have loved it! Witnessing some of our closest friends and family members exchange heartfelt vows has been so special and has warmed my heart. Plus, attending them with Brandon has made them even more special.

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Moments of togetherness:

I have not spent nearly enough time with Brandon this summer as I’d hoped, but we are so excited about our upcoming move and future endeavors. I’m thankful for the special moments we have had this summer, and can’t wait for future together.
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Moments at work: The biggest challenge I faced this summer was creating a work/life balance for myself. While I didn’t exactly excel in this balance, I am really proud of the improvements I made in my managing skills and food-service skills, along with the commitment and dedication I showed throughout the season. I truly couldn’t love a small business more.  

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Do you have any stand-out moments of the summer?

What’s up for Labor Day?
I will either be moving or working, so please share some fun plans so I can live vicariously through you!