There’s a monster in my belly.

I have noticed a huge increase in my appetite lately. I eat a large bowl of oatmeal every morning that is made with about 1.5 cups of dry quick cooking oats and a handful of freeze dried blueberries. I then add a little brown sugar before I eat it. I am fueled and ready for life for a few hours from this. Then every day at 12 pm I get hungry again.

No, not hungry. Ravenous!

I am ready to eat a horse at this point! Okay, not really. Obviously I don’t eat whole horses. But I am for sure ready for some potatoes, or rice, or bread. Just something.

I have started thinking about my hunger in a different way lately. It seems almost like it is alive, separate from the rest of me. I can feel it building up, then growling for food.

Does anyone remember that show on Nicelodeon Ahh, Real Monsters? My hunger looks a little like Krumm.

krumm

I think it’s green though. I know this is kind of weird, but I guess I am still surprised at how much I eat!

I have now lost over 60 lbs. That is such a big number. My older niece weighs 63 lbs. I have lost a seven year old!

I started looking at upper body training exercises recently. I am not seeing any change in my arms with the weight loss. I don’t know if they will ever look great, but I would like to lose some of the fat and gain some muscle. I want to feel strong. I also really want to do a push up. As my upper body loses mass I know this is becoming more of a possibility. But I need to build up strength now, not just wait for my body to weigh less. I am a little nervous about going to the gym since I am still so big. The last time I went in and used the cable weights there were some guys who were lifting who kept giving me funny looks. So much for the judgment free zone. I am proud of myself for going anyway, though. Now I just need to get back.

M has been working out of town for a bit so it’s just me and the critters. The dog needs a big walk at night so I don’t have that much time to do anything. I do think I could squeeze in a home workout here and there, though. I am sure that right now doing the workout without any extra weights will still be a challenge. That is where I’ll start. We prepaid for some lap swim sessions, too, and this weekend is supposed to be pretty nice so maybe a swim, some time in the gym, or a hike is how we will spend Sunday. Maybe we could even make a picnic. I’m sure my monster will be happy if I bring extra food with me. 🙂

What are your plans for this weekend? Does your body every seem to have a mind of its own? How do you like to workout? Answer in the comments!

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I can’t live without…

I have now lost a substantial amount of weight. I am closing in on 60 lbs. So it is noticeable. Naturally in our superficial and fat obsessed society I am asked quite often about what I eat. Yesterday I saw some people I haven’t seen in a few months. One was very interested and said she would give it a try. A coworker overheard and started asking me questions, too. She then said that she can’t live without potato chips. She has to have them everyday; they are her favorite. Another coworker has told me in the past that she could never eat like I do because she needs meat everyday. She said she is a carnivore. A third has told me she needs protein because when she eats carbs she gets very hungry and craves carbs.

I am not quite sure what it is about our society or our nature that prompts us to see someone getting a result we want and then immediately dismiss whatever that person is doing as not feasible for whatever reason. It could be that we are just constantly searching for a magic bullet. Or that we secretly wish we can still eat all the junk foods we want and will all of a sudden start getting healthier and losing weight.

I was thinking about this kind of reaction recently. I am now at the point where Round Table Pizza commercials make me feel sick to my stomach. I used to love their pizza! But now I just feel queasy and gross at the thought of eating cheese, pepperoni, bacon, or any of the other greasy stuff on there.

That brings me to my next thought: Would you rather feel like you can’t live without cheese or bacon or burgers or fried chicken or whatever it is that you currently feel addicted to? Or would it be better to stop eating those foods, switch to whole, plant foods, and get past the addiction? I know a few people who have quit cigarettes. While the quitting process is never easy, everyone knows that cigarettes are very harmful and that quitting is the right choice. So how is diet different?

I think truly the hardest part of switching to WFPBNO (whole food, plant based, no oil) is the convenience factor. There are just so many foods out there that are so easy to heat’n’eat or just eat straight that are simply horrible for our health. I work inside a grocery store so all day long I see the foods that are profitable. These are not health foods! And most people do not buy a cart full of fruits and vegetables.

We are literally addicted to foods that are killing us. I am so glad that I was able to break out of that cycle! I cannot live without my greens, beans, fruits, potatoes, and other healthy foods. And I very much prefer my life this way!

What can you not live without? What are your favorite foods? What makes you feel the healthiest?

Beans and greens

I am reading How Not to Die right now. I am in the second section. What I have read so far has me eating a lot of beans and greens! But the question that I am facing is how to eat them in a way that tastes good.

I bought several 1 lb bags of mixed greens at Whole Foods the other day. I also bought a ton (like, two full bags worth) of dried garbanzo beans. That is one of my favorite beans. I like how it stays firm, even after cooking, but not in an undercooked kind of way. I soaked a couple cups worth of beans and cooked them plain. I probably overcooked them a little, the liquid was like a gel! But they are perfect for me. I threw about half a bag’s worth of greens in a pot and seasoned them then added some beans for an easy dinner.

beans n greens
Garbanzo beans with mixed greens

I also tried to make nacho cheese style roasted chickpeas. I should have rinsed the thick liquid off first! They didn’t quite turn into what I had hoped for, but they were tasty. Yesterday for lunch I ate some with arugula and salsa. Then for dinner I added the rest of the bag of greens, some salsa, and the rest of the not-cho beans to a pot and heated through. M roasted some sweet potatoes and carrots. The combo was delightful! I even had some fresh corn tortillas to eat with dinner. Yummy!

I have been really focusing on getting those extra servings of greens and beans in for all of the amazing phytonutrients, anticancer effects, and weight loss benefits. The past two days alone I have lost 1/2 lb per day! So I would say that greens and beans are a winning combination.

What are your special tricks for weight loss? Do you have any foods that you try to eat everyday for a health benefit? What is your favorite bean or greens recipe? Share in the comments!

Are you a vegetarian or an omnivore? And what is the difference between those endings?

As you probably know by now, I am following the McDougall Program. If you haven’t heard of this, please go check it out. I’ll wait.

One thing I noticed when looking at this is that people call themselves omnivores often and occasionally carnivores. Yet people following a plant-based diet are referred to as vegetarian and extremists are vegans. And Dr. McDougall calls himself a starchivore.

It got me thinking, what is the difference between -ivore and -itarian?

Turns out there’s a big difference. Anything that eats the foods it has evolved to eat and is nutritionally dependent on has the suffix -ivore while -itarian denotes a conscious choice. Cats like lions and tigers are carnivores. They are dependent on specific nutrients they can only get through a diet of meats, organs, bones, and connective tissues.

Dogs are a little more versatile. Foxes eat apples, berries, and other fruits along with eggs, insects, and small animals. They are true omnivores. They get nutrition they need from both animal and plant foods.

Humans are primates. We are specifically part of the Great Ape category. Which begs the question of what Great Apes eat. While there are some animal foods, gorillas eat mostly plant foods. If they can grow as big and strong as they do eating fruits, shoots, and barks with some ants and their larvae in for good measure, why do we insist that we need to eat as much meat as we do? And should we even really eat meat?

As I have previously discussed, meat is not healthy for humans to eat. Neither are eggs or dairy for that matter. So are we truly omnivores as many like to call themselves? And are those who choose to eat only plant foods vegetarians (or worse, vegans)? Or are we actually herbivores – or even starchivores – and those who choose to eat meat are omnitarians?

I’ll be honest, though. I like the ring of starchitarian. I think it just sounds nice. And maybe that’s what I am since I focus my diet on cooked whole starch foods like grains, potatoes, and hard skinned squashes. Maybe the true herbivores are the raw vegans who eat fruits and veggies predominantly.

How do you define your eating patterns? Has this changed how you describe yourself? Let’s talk!

Food for thought

I have been busy watching political documentaries on Netflix lately. A few months ago we watched Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen that yet, it is a great breakdown on why choosing plant foods is the best for our health. The more plants we eat, the better our bodies function and are able to fight diseases. The more animal foods we eat, the worse everything works. This does not mean you need to go 100% vegan for the rest of your life, but it means cutting meat and dairy (combined) to a few ounces a month is the safest choice if you choose to eat it at all. This also doesn’t mean that “vegan” is a healthy choice. Potato chips are vegan, but no one will ever argue that anything deep fried is healthy. What I am coming to understand is that plant foods as close to their natural state as possible are the healthiest to eat.

The next one we watched was called Cowspiracy. This one hit me pretty hard. I grew up in California in the midst of the last big drought. I have heard about water conservation efforts my entire life. It even carried over to when we lived in Oregon. I would take dishwater out to the garden instead of pouring it down the drain! This film truly opened my eyes to how ridiculous all of this is in the face of how much animal agriculture we as a society use. The amount of water that goes into a pound of cheese or a steak is simply staggering. Not to mention the environmental devastation caused by toxic runoff. There were a few scenes that were too graphic for me. I had to cover my eyes a few times. But it was an amazing movie with such fantastic information. I strongly encourage everyone to watch it, especially anyone who considers themselves in anyway an environmentalist.

We also watched one called Living on One Dollar. This was all about what people who are living below the poverty line go through on a daily basis. Two economics students took two film students to Guatemala for 8 weeks and the four of them lived on $1 per day each. There was so much beauty and so much sadness in this one. What people go through is simply astounding. But there was so much love and generosity there, too. It shed a light on the struggles that so many of us never have to worry about. The idea of paying $25 for medicine when the daily income is so low and not guaranteed was simply overwhelming.

I also recently read a book called Proteinaholic that discussed the physiological effects of eating too much meat and dairy. It has cemented for me the idea that vegetables are what humans should eat. The amount of disease that comes from eating too much animal protein (and really, there doesn’t seem to actually be a safe threshold on this) is simply too big to truly comprehend.

With all of these things mulling in my brain I have been thinking about self-sufficiency – or at least reduced dependence – and how the government and medical establishment share information about how our diet is affecting us as people and as a species.

There is so much information about how meat and dairy affect us negatively. Why are we still being told to eat so much? It seems like every other commercial on TV is pushing some meat or dairy product or at least protein. Have you ever heard of anyone actually being protein deficient who wasn’t also literally starving?

The answer is no.

Protein is so important to all life forms that there is an abundance of it in everything we eat. As long as you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

So what is going on here? We are constantly being told to eat more protein. It has gotten to the point that people don’t even identify meat on their plate anymore – it is simply called the protein. But that’s not truly accurate. Chicken and beef contain fat, as well.

Also, did you know that the RDA amount is not a minimum threshold we need to meet everyday but the ideal amount? So if adults are supposed to get about 50 grams of protein a day and we can get all we need from plant foods, why would we risk making ourselves sick with too much protein plus all the other bad stuff like saturated fat, cholesterol, and pathogenic microbes in meat?

What are your thoughts on this? Do you ever worry about the percentage of your macronutrient intake? Do you ever count grams of any of them? Do you think about the true cost of eating meat and dairy – both to your health and to the planet? Share in the comments!

Looking good?

I know this is a recurring theme with me, but M told me that I look smaller today. I understand that I have lost a significant amount of weight. I also understand that I am going to lose more weight. But what does looking smaller mean? I asked if I look good. He said yes. I said than say that! So he told me that smaller looks good. Good grief!

I want to be smaller. I want to lose the excess weight that I have carried for far too long. But I don’t think that that affects my beauty in any way. However beautiful I ever am I always am.

So what should we say to people who lose a large amount of weight? Maybe we can ask if they have lost any and how they are feeling. Maybe we can notice things like their improved energy level or self-confidence. Maybe we can simply realize that someone else’s weight is not really any of our business and leave their health concerns between them and their medical professional.

I just wish people would see me as a person instead of a fat person. I’m sure that will happen soon enough, but will I have to go out and meet all new people?

In other news, we went to the gym today. I had planned on going swimming at a local pool, but with the current storm and chill in the air (leave me alone about being in the 50s, okay? I know I’m a baby!) neither of us really wanted to go swimming. So we took the dog for a walk in a downpour then came home, changed and hit the gym. I did a little more than 3 miles on a stationary bike and almost a mile on a treadmill then thoroughly stretched. It felt great. I was very tired when I finished. And hungry!!!

When we got home I ate a burrito bowl: rice, “refried” beans, cucumber, shredded carrots, and lettuce. I put some sweet chili sauce on it and 20151201_203753.jpgchowed down! Delicious!!! If you have never had sweet chili sauce, I highly recommend it. We are about halfway through a large bottle I bought on Monday! And it tastes great on just about everything. Seriously, try it. AMAZING!!!

Tonight’s dinner is not quite figured out, but I have a head of cabbage, 3 leeks, and some mushrooms in the fridge. I started some rice and split peas soaking. Have you ever added split peas to your brown rice? The texture is fantastic! I did 2 cups rice with 1 cup of mixed green and yellow split peas. I’ll cook it in the rice cooker tonight and probably sautĂ© the vegetables or maybe make a soup. In any case, I’m sure it will be a warm and tasty dinner. 🙂

How is December going for you? Are you ready for 2016? Any challenges in the coming weeks? How do you plan to deal with them?

To weigh or not to weigh.

That is a question I am facing right now. As I move through my changing body and redefine my relationship with food and activity, one thing I still find myself obsessing over is the scale.

I can eat whatever, whenever without worrying about how much or how many of anything. I eat foods that fill me up and give me plenty of energy to make it through my day and beyond.

But there is still the scale.

I started eating a starch-based diet after purchasing a three month pass to Weight Watchers and the way I eat actually easily fits with the no counting plan – Simply Filling. The first few weeks I was okay with just weighing in once a week. But soon I found that amount of time to be overwhelming. How could I know how foods were affecting me if I had to wait a week to weigh myself to see a difference? And how would I know what caused what? Finally over the summer we bought a scale. At the time I was still over 330 lbs so I had to get a high capacity scale. I was a little frustrated by that, but am happy that now I have a great scale.

I immediately started weighing myself everyday. I make sure the scale goes with me if I spend the night somewhere else. This is the part that makes me think I might need to reevaluate how I feel about the scale. M asked the other day if I can just go a day without weighing. I felt panic rise up in my chest at the thought of missing a day and losing control. Needless to say, I brought the scale.

I have been watching some videos from High Carb Hannah on YouTube lately. She has done some amazing transformations with her diet, body, and life in general. It is totally inspiring to watch her videos. One thing she suggests is getting rid of the scale, or at least putting it away.

I just don’t think I can yet.

I am still experiencing fairly large swings in my weight from day to day. For example, Sunday morning I was at 303.6 at my meeting. Yesterday was 303 even. Today? 304.4. Did my eating change that much? Not really. I did eat a little more bread made with flour than I usually do, but not enough to explain a pound and a half gain. I am also on my period which causes major fluctuations in my weight. I am not that worried about it, but it is part of my consciousness so obviously I am a little stressed. I expect to see it go down, and am planning on earning my 50 lbs award this Sunday. We’ll see how it goes.

One thing WW is doing right now is asking members to rate their weeks BEFORE they weigh in. I don’t think I would be so comfortable doing that without knowing in advance what my weight was. I don’t really like that I need to know my weight before I can say how my week went, but I also am realistic about where I am in my journey. At this point, since I still am super morbidly obese I need the feedback that the scale gives me. I also need to see the results for my own satisfaction.

Do you weigh? How regularly? Does the scale define your satisfaction with your progress or are there other measures that are a better way to see how far you have come? Let’s talk about this!

Beautiful Bounty

This is a few days late since I promised to share the recipe for that pumpkin pie I mentioned on Thursday. I will say this. That night, the two of us ate half the pie! Then we finished it the next day. There is noFat Free Vegan Impossible Pie real crust on this, so it is a bit different from a traditional pie. But it’s like the filling baked alone with a kind of crust that develops. In any case, it’s delicious! I have several cans of pumpkin in the cupboard and can see us eating one a week! 🙂 Here is where you can find the recipe. I used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer and followed the directions for that amount plus water. I also was lazy and just went with pumpkin pie spice. Still, I highly recommend this recipe! The best part about it? It’s super easy!!! You stick some stuff into a blender. (We do not have a fancy, high powered blender. A regular one worked just fine.) Add a few more things and blend some more. Then pour into a pie plate and bake. Easy-peasy!

I also decided to make a full second Thanksgiving for my mom this past Saturday. She lives over an hour away so when I got home from work I ran around frantically throwing things into bags to take with us. The menu:
– Stuffed pumpkin
– Mashed potatoes
– Mashed sweet potatoes
– Dinner rolls
– Cranberry sauce
– Broccoli

On the way out, about half way, I realized I had forgotten the recipes. Oops! Luckily, I have Google on my phone. Crisis averted. I also realized I forgot the vegetable broth and oat milk I would need. So Saturday morning I woke M up and off we went to Sprouts. We got all the stuff we needed, plus a few other goodies. Once back at the house I started in the kitchen. Honestly, at this point I cannot even remember how I did everything. I just started things in pots and pans until the house smelled amazing.

I will be honest. I didn’t cook the broccoli. I know, for shame, right?

So we ate a fully plant based meal with no green vegetable except for the celery in the stuffing. As for the pumpkin, it was a very pretty presentation, but it was undercooked. I left in the oven for a full 2 hours, but it was hard Beautiful Bountyand stringy. Not the best. I would stuff a smaller squash again, maybe a sugar pie pumpkin or something in that size range. M and I also both prefer stuffing cooked in a pan so that there is more of the crispy top. Overall, though, a pretty amazing meal.

Here is the pumpkin: Stuffed Pumpkin

And dinner with a mound of dinner rolls. They were awesome!The full meal

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you enjoy the people you were with? Did you have two or more? How was the food? What is your favorite tradition?

A wonderful Sunday

 

45 lbs WW.jpg

This past weekend I received my 45 lbs award at Weight Watchers. It feels unreal to me that I have lost that much weight. I have never before lost this much weight at one time, doing anything! And I still don’t feel like I am on a diet.

As of my Sunday morning weigh in, I have lost a total of 46.2 lbs. I have regained a fairly normal menstrual cycle including symptoms of ovulation. I can measure my walks in miles now instead of blocks. For the most part my acne is clearing up. I still have a few breakouts throughout the month, but there are far fewer cysts to deal with. My complexion looks healthier. My skin has a natural glow now whereas before I had such a dull complexion. I have so much energy! I love to get up and take the dog for a walk, just because it feels good.

I still have issues with compliments. Yesterday and today friends told me how great I look. I still see the same body when I look in the mirror, so that is hard for me since I think I look the same. But it’s nice to get recognized. 🙂

My mother-in-law and I went for a walk on part of the SF Bay Trail. We started over where we could find parking and walked to the start of the bike bridge. It was over 3 miles each way! I was very tired when we got home, but still had enough energy for a Target run. Obviously!

While we were talking I thought about a book I recently started about a woman who did a triathlon in her 40s. She is very funny and I have been seriously thinking about doing one. I talked to a man in my meeting who does them regularly. He mentioned a series over the summer called “Tri for Fun” that is open to all levels and ages. Today I looked them up. And I’m in.

I’m going to do a triathlon next summer.

I have already found a place to practice swimming. I am not a strong swimmer. Let’s be honest here. I’m not a strong swimmer or bicycle rider and I don’t run! But I am going to train, and complete, the whole thing!

This is the gorgeous view I had on our way home last night. Love the Bay!SF Sunset 11-22-2015

Kitchen clean out plus stuffing/dressing debate

Yesterday we had to go to the store for some groceries. We both had the day off work so I was planning a special dinner – stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes. More on that later. One thing we tend to do is just wander the aisles of the store aimlessly looking at what sounds good in the moment, often forgetting key ingredients or purchasing duplicates of what we have at home. So M decided to make a list. More than that, he cleaned out the fridge. He started looking at all of the weird things we have been saving – carefully collected bacon drippings, tofu that was so old it was turning red, vegetables that were reaching liquefaction. It was pretty nasty. 🙂 Good thing he took that task on! Haha!

Next he turned to the cupboards. He actually went through all the odds and ends that I have been shoving in for the past two years that we’ve lived here and looking at what actually is okay following the dietary guidelines with which we are currently living. He even started a care bag for his parents of tuna for their cat (ours won’t touch seafood) and other new boxes of mixes that do not support our health and no longer part of what we consider food.

It was liberating and daunting all at once!

I took to two shelves where I have been stashing baking tools to make elegant cakes and other goodies, but never have. I finally let it all go. We ended up with a huge black trash bag full of stuff! Normally we carefully sort our recycling and compostable scraps out but yesterday was a trash day! I wish I had taken a picture.

Our next mission as part of Project Kitchen Clean up was to get a metal shelving rack. We have been talking about getting one for over a year and yesterday we finally had enough “extra” after paying all the bills to find it a worthy purchase. We got it home, set it up*, and filled it. We moved the microwave from the corned of the counter to the rack and moved all the spices over to the corner. It opened up a ton of space and feels so much better than the pile of stuff that had been there before. The pile included our Crock Pot, rice cooker, old water bottles, a large basket we store sweet potatoes and onions in, and more. Plus the chest freezer was totally covered in more stuff like the dog’s food and treats, the fruit bowl, and the salad spinner. Now we have a place for everything and everything is finally in its place!

*We have never successfully assembled anything together before. Usually our DIY projects start with one of us having a bright idea (more often than not me) and the other trying to help but in actuality taking the project over (M does this). There is a fight involved as the originator realizes s/he is no longer a part of the project. Mean things are said, feelings are hurt, projects are finished but don’t always resemble the initial idea, and both of us sulk. Yesterday, though, we were able to work together to assemble the shelving unit with no harsh words, no bickering, no nothing! There were a few tense moments in the beginning as we figured out how to do it without it falling apart, but we got it. By the last shelf it was smooth as silk. A major first for us! 🙂 Love that guy!!!

After we finished the kitchen, I needed a nap! M went to visit a friend down from Washington State. When I was rested I started on dinner.

Months ago I bought an acorn squash with the noble idea of baking it with cinnamon and salt, and even a little butter. This was before I went to a starch based diet. I never made it, though. Eventually it went from green with an orange spot to all orange. By the time I fished it out of the fruit bowl yesterday it was starting to look a little deflated. Oops. I love acorn squash, but firmly recommend eating them when they are still firm!

My plan was to make stuffed acorn squash with mashed potatoes and parsnips. Even with our good intentioned list I still forgot to buy the parsnips. Oh well. I cubed about 1/3 a

croutons
Vegan, oil-free, homemade croutons. YUM!!!

loaf of bread into 1/2″ cubes. I spread them on a rimmed baking sheet then sprayed lightly with Bragg’s and seasoned with a bit of poultry seasoning and garlic powder. I baked at 300 degrees (F) for 30 minutes stirring about halfway through. They turned into the best homemade croutons I have ever had! Granted, I have never had homemade croutons before, but they were delicious anyway!

 

While those were cooling, I got started on the rest. No matter what I am cooking, I love to start with an onion. I understand no everyone likes onions as much as I do. Feel free to use less! The nice thing is that I cook them enough to sweeten them and cook out all of the sharpness. They add such a wonderful flavor to the food and the house smells amazing as

vegetable goodness
Can’t you just smell it?

they sizzle on the stove. I heated a large, heavy, non-stick pan with a bit of water and thinly sliced an onion. I threw the slices in and let them work their magic while I chopped three celery ribs into small pieces. That went in on top of the onions. I then took the stems off of three large white mushrooms (the caps were about 3″ across!), cut off the dirty end, and chopped them finely. The stems are pretty woody when the caps get that big so I added them next so they would soften. Next I chopped the caps and added those. Periodically I added more water and stirred every so often to let everything cook evenly. When all the vegetables were nice and soft I added Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and a bit of salt. Then I chopped an apple into it and threw in a handful of currants, just for good measure.

 

I put the croutons in a mixing bowl and poured the vegetables over them. I stirred it all together adding vegetable broth until everything was moist. I let that sit while I prepared the squash:
– Chop the squash in half using the stem as the midpoint.
– Scoop out all the seeds and strings.
– Question the safety of eating this very old squash.
– Rinse if needed.

I put the squash on my cutting board to hopefully keep things tidy as I stuffed. Then I just heaped spoonfuls of stuffing in and pressed them in tightly with my hands and the spoon. When they were both as full as I could get them I put them into a glass loaf pan. There was still quite a bit of stuffing left over so that went into a baking dish!

Recently we had a conversation at work about stuffing vs. dressing. Which is which? We could not determine to our satisfaction the correct answer so asked Google. It turns out there is not really a difference, it’s mostly just where you’re

before baking
Stuffing or dressing? Why not both?!

from and which tradition you follow. I personally like the idea that stuffing goes into something and dressing is cooked in a pan, but it’s just semantics at that point.

 

They were covered with foil and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes then uncovered and baked another 30 minutes. Two things that would have improved it at this point:
1. Adding some water to the squash pan would have prevented the scorching that affected the bottom of the squash. It probably would have made the squash more tender, as well.
2. Lining the baking dish with parchment paper or a very light coating of grease would have helped it release more easily. I had a few croutons that were pretty stuck to the bottom!

I also realized that I had no desire to wash the big pot to boil potatoes. Luckily for me, M had baked some sweet potatoes a few days ago and there was one left. I skinned it and heated it with some plain, unsweetened oat milk, mashing with a spoon as it cooked. I added a splash of maple syrup, a nice sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. It turned into the most amazing sweet potato mash ever!

Dinner turned out pretty good. I was quite pleased with myself, obviously. And I am so happy that I figured out how

plate of stuffed squash dressing and sweet potatoes
I ate some of the squash before I remembered to take a picture. 🙂 It was that good of a dinner!

to make amazing croutons! Here is the finished dinner. If you feel so inclined, give one of these ideas a try for Thanksgiving!

 

Whatever you make, however you celebrate, I hope this is a time of happiness and love for everyone!