Marly Monday: Freedom, Traveling While Vegan, and Meal Planning

Time for edition number two of the Marly Monday series. If you’re wondering where I was last week (and I’m sure you are…jk) I have some good news to share with you below. I think you’ll be excited about it! You know I love food. But did you know I do more than spend time cooking (and eating) in the kitchen? 😱 I know. Shocking! This series is my way of sharing with you some of the other things going on in my life…and also more about food too. Because we do regular meal planning around here and if sharing that can be a help to you in your regular meal preparation, then let’s go there!

First, let’s talk about freedom. Do you feel free? I’ve found myself lately yearning for freedom. And so I wrote a song about it.

A photo of Marly of Namely Marly in a garden.

Here’s what I wrote on Instagram.

I need some time to be me and not be hypnotized.
I get some time to be me and then I realize.
I want to stand by a stream and see the way it flows.
I want to look in the night and see the cosmos.
I want to run wild and free on the Galapagos,
I want to swim in the sea with a bottlenose.

This is part of a song I wrote recently. Betcha didn’t know I was a songwriter.

Guess what? Me neither! Honestly, it’s like the song wrote me.

This song. I love it so much.

It started when Shawn and I watched a documentary about the Galapagos Islands and I felt a yearning. A desire to be free. I thought how cool to be on a remote island where I could just be me!

No one to judge me for how I look; what I wear.
And more time unplugged…and with nature.

And then I realized, MY GALAPAGOS is about freedom.
I don’t have to travel to the remotest island on the planet to have that!

And then I reflected on some of the ways I wasn’t living freely.

Example #1. A consultant told me recently I can’t be both a food blogger and a novelist. It would confuse my audience. And yet…that is where my spirit is taking me. I just wrote a novel. And I’m working to get it published…and then there is another novel wanting me to write it too.

Can you tell I follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s creative philosophy in her book Big Magic? Elizabeth Gilbert believes ideas are like entities floating around in the consciousness of the universe and they want to be made manifest. And they select the individuals they want to work with.

The thing is, when the idea lands on you, you have to be ready to respond. To meet it halfway. If you are into creativity, you will love her book.

Example #2. Society says women over a certain age shouldn’t wear short skirts, and yet I enjoy wearing my sporty tennis skirts. It makes me feel strong and happy!

Obviously, there are many ways in which we are socialized to give up our freedoms. these are just two minor ones from my life. I know there are many examples of freedoms lost on a much grander scale. I don’t mean to make light of those. Maybe freedom is like pain and there’s a sort of relativity related to it. At any given point in time, there is someone experiencing pain on a greater level and yet, that doesn’t mean your pain isn’t real.

Anyway, this is my Galapagos. To be free. My Galapagos is about giving myself space and unplugging so I can know myself…and to love myself for who I am. Maybe that’s why I started my Sunday Funday program. I’m “MEfree” on Sundays. News media and social media free. I love it!

It’s a journey; a progression; and one that I’m glad to be a part of.

Vegan Options at ND Restaurant

We plan our annual trip to Bismarck to visit Shawn’s parents on their birthday. And when I say “their birthday,” I really mean it. Shawn’s parents have the same birthday, although they were born one year apart. I’ve never met another couple with that in common. It’s pretty cool.

We love taking them to dinner at a local restaurant. It’s a Mexican restaurant called Paradiso and it offers free meals on birthdays. I know. We’re so cheap!

But we do buy all the drinks…and you know, chips and salsa. 😂

Marly of Namely Marly with her husband Shawn.

So, now that you know the reason we selected that restaurant, let me tell you something we’ve been surprised by.

This restaurant chain, spread across North Dakota (a state not known for its large population of vegans) offers vegan meat products. Can you believe it? We were so pleasantly surprised when they first started offering it a few years ago. We rubbed our eyes to make sure we were reading the menu right: Vegan Fajitas!

Now we have two reasons to look forward to going to Bismarck: seeing family and vegan Mexican food!

Here in KC, we have to call ahead to most Mexican restaurants because they slip lard into so many of their menu items, like refried beans. It’s getting better, and North Dakota is a shining example of that!

This Week in Food

Let’s talk about some recent recipes on Namely Marly. Did you happen to see my Chunky Monkey Cake recipe? It’s seriously a go-to favorite, especially if we have guests over. And even more so if those guests are a surprise.

I sprinkled some Cocao Nibs on the top of my Vegan Chunky Monkey Cake to give each bite a little bit of pop!

The combination of banana, chocolate, and peanut butter is such a favorite. In fact, you can make it healthy with this Vegan Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie. That is more like a dessert smoothie, and we love it!

A hand dipping a vegan French Dip Sandwich into a bowl of sauce

This Vegan French dip sandwich is everything you could imagine in a vegan sandwich recipe and more. I have a thing for vegan sandwiches too!

5 Popular Posts on the Site This Week

  1. Vegan Carrot Cake (I love how easy this recipe is and yet so delicious!)
  2. Vegan Banana Cake (Imagine most banana goodness in every bite 😋)
  3. Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup (Must be a “back to school” thing.)
  4. Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie (We love all things 🍋)
  5. Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies (These cookies! Gah. They are so good!)

This Week’s Meal Prepping Guide

This is where the big news comes in — I am writing a cookbook! We are so excited! Shawn and I are doing the photography together for the book. It will be called “The Everything Vegan Meal Prep Cookbook.” The first deadline was last week. We are very busy with the preparations to provide you with the most awesome Vegan Meal Prepping book!

In the meantime, here’s the meal prepping that’s going on at our house this week:

  • Sunday: We had quite the hodgepodge on Sunday, and some of that is because in addition to using recipes for the site, I’m also creating some new recipes for this book. For example, I created a freezer-ready vegan club sandwich. Oh, it’s so good! But we also had some 10 Minute Vegan Tofu Scramble (I’m a big sucker for breakfast for dinner!). And I made these Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies so we could enjoy them for the week. Here’s what Adee said, “I’ve tried a lot of chocolate chip cookies, and these are by far the best!”
  • Monday: My sister gave me a recipe she created called Taco Bake and I veganized it. And I’m so glad I did. It’s delicious! The recipe will be coming soon, but just imagine crumbled tortilla chips, vegan refried beans, vegan taco meat, black beans, Rotel, baked in layers with some vegan cheese on top. Pretty amazing! I also made these Healthy Crumble Blueberry Bars, which I really envisioned for breakfast because it has low sugar, but Shawn enjoys for dessert. Go figure!
  • Tuesday: Shawn usually plays tennis on Tuesday evenings so it will be a free-for-all night, eating mostly leftovers.
  • Wednesday: I love having veggie burgers on hand and these Vegan Lentil Burgers are perfect because it makes a big batch. I make them all, place them on a tray and freeze them, and then transfer to a freezer bag. I’ve learned the hard way to write on the bag what’s inside and the date they’re frozen!
  • Thursday: We’re just beginning to see the first signs of fall so these Vegan Cauliflower Wings are a great way to celebrate the pending new season. I like them extra spicy so I serve them with sriracha on the side. Shawn skips that part!
  • Friday: Yes, it’s pizza night again. And sometimes my homemade crust is a must! My favorite is this vegan pizza crust with vegan pepperoni. You can either make homemade vegan pepperoni or I’ve been able to find store-bought vegan pepperoni at Sprouts and Natural Grocers.
  • Saturday: I’m thinking of inviting some friends and/or family over on Saturday. If so, for sure I will be making my Vegan Potato Salad. Everyone loves it so much and oftentimes express surprise that it’s vegan. The US Open has started so if we’re watching tennis I might also serve some Vegan Seven Layer Dip. I love how that is a great dip but can feel like a meal too!

I really love growing basil and oregano in my garden. Any herbs that can add farm-fresh flavors to my recipes are welcome! I’ll share more about my favorite indoor/outdoor herbs one of these days.

Next week, I’m going to share with you my favorite iced teas. In the meantime, here’s my favorite tea at the moment. It’s the Republic of Tea Hibiscus Sangria tea, and it’s all that and a bag of chips, for sure! It’s made with hibiscus and rose hips and even orange zest. You can find it in a pitcher in our fridge 24/7 at this point!

So, what are you eating this week?

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