Part 2: Traveling Klean | DC/Virginia/West Virginia

2nd Leg Home on the Range

A leisurely drive into the mountains of West Virginia gave us an opportunity to enjoy the changing landscape between the two states. 

We arrived just in time for dinner. I swear I didn’t plan that. 

Waking up on “the farm” is a far cry from the city life I live in. A far cry, but a beautiful gift to indulge in for someone who needs to step away more often. I appreciate the balance and the re connection to nature. My LA hikes are one thing; me standing on top of a mountain overlooking the West Virginia landscape with complete stillness in the air is another. It’s like being transported into an Albert Bierstadt painting. 

On top of enjoying the new scenery, I should have known the vegan brigade would be waiting. With a new kitchen to play in as well as a walk in pantry and a morning breakfast consisting of cheesy tofu scramble with coconut bacon, roasted sweet potatoes, made-from-scratch yogurt and an English muffin to start, I knew this vacation was going to be just as special as the last. 

That yogurt! WOW! Better than any store bought and this was just the beginning of our trip!

A week long adventure to step away from the “real world”; exactly what the doctor ordered. Being able to connect with family is as important to me as it is to him and since most of mine are in the same city we both live in, it’s easier than being able to connect with his. Thus making the time we have during the holidays more than special. 
We took full advantage–late night talks, cooking sessions, excursions, family board games and helping with life on the farm. 

Even though there was plenty of food in the house, we decided to make another excursion to prepare for Christmas dinner and other cooking shenanigans–we went off menu and created some fantastic treats I’ve never made before!

We suited up and headed into one of Travel Magazine’s top rated “Coolest Small Town’s in America” for a little shopping, sight seeing and vino.

Cute, cute, cute! I just wanted to pinch it!

Cute local art gallery

Cute local art gallery

I especially fell in love with a darling, little natural store that contained goodies I take for granted having in abundance in Los Angeles. The prices were inflated and the shelves stocked on the skimpier side, but hell, they had some amazing options. 

On the way out of town and back to the farm we stopped in at the local Kroger’s to get the necessities. 

I was shocked to find sooo many fantastic options and a pretty well stocked organic section!
Tofurky, Daiya, Amy’s Kitchen, Silk’s NEW yogurt, Way Better Chips, Vegenaise, even Hilary’s Eat Well and Beyondmeat!!! Way to go Kroegers!

Having all these options in a small town in West Virginia let’s me know that the shift is really happening and the momentum has not halted!

You may have noticed the abundance of gluten in my holiday diet. I went a little overboard and I’m using that word lightly. I have maintained and proclaimed that I like to keep gluten-free; especially wheat (inflammation, inflammation, inflammation). For those who are not gluten sensitive, that’s fantastic. I’m not gluten-free for the hype, but because it has recently come to light that I’ve been dealing with hypo-thyroidism and adrenal fatigue. 
I’m working with both a general doctor and a naturopath. Things are on the up and up, but it is a process. 
During the trip, I made sure to take digestive enzymes (as you saw in Post #1), drink plenty of water, take turmeric supplements (to relieve inflammation) and drink my mushroom tea to support my immune system. 

So as my choices may not have been the most ideal for my healing process, it was a choice I chose to make. I tried to create the best balance I could and my mental health was more than intact–it was on vacation and loving all the vegan options!

For Christmas dinner we laid out a basic plan. Everyone contributed in suggestions for what they wanted to see on the table. A roasted brussel sprout dish was suggested and I busted out my Thrive magazine and stole the recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts with maple miso glaze from Café Gratitude.  

In addition we created mashed potatoes with gravy (both vegan and non-vegan versions), caramelized sweet potato and cranberries (vegan), stuffing (both vegan and non-vegan versions), traditional Waldorf salad (vegan), cranberry sauce (vegan), turkey/tofurky and cheesecake for dessert (both vegan and non-vegan versions)!

The table was stuffed with vegan goodness and I didn’t ask for it! 

I’m use to bringing or making a few of my own dishes, but his mother is super human in the kitchen. Before I could say anything, she was already whipping up vegan dish after vegan dish.
For fun we also used the commercial dehydrator and made the most delicious kale chips I’ve ever made. We created both a wasabi miso and a cashew creamy ranch.  

They were gone within the hour. 

If you’ve been following my Instagram since last Christmas, you know that one of the gifts his mother gifted me was the fabulous Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook by Skye Michael Conroy. The bases of most of her cheeses come from this book which means it’s sacred to me.  

NOW I get to add to my collection with Miyoko’s NEW “the Homemade Pantry” and Joni Marie Newman’s “the Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutes”!!

ONTOP of those two new additions, his friends got me “Thug Kitchen Party Grub”.
I was cleaning house in cookbooks for the holidays. 

Even my own family and friends jumped on the “vegan kitchen” game and bought me wonderful kitchen related goodies for the holidays. 

It was definitely a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy Hanukkah.

The somber morning of our departure, his mother whisked up vegan biscuits and gravy while we said farewell to our surroundings. Talk about leaving on a high note!

For our drive back to Virginia, we made leftover sandwiches. This was to be my last “savor it all” of his mother's homemade dishes and I wanted to make sure nothing was overlooked. I also knew this was to be my last love affair with sourdough bread.

I cut two delicious slices and slathered it with almond brie cheese, avocado, mashed potato, stuffing, tofurky and fresh organic kale. You know it was awesome. 

That evening we had his annual friend’s holiday get together and had a complete blast! 

The morning before our flight we hit up the local Silver Diner for a quick lunch and they had vegan AND gluten-free options called out on the menu (huge plus). I went with the Mango Vegetarian Stir Fry. 

It was alright and it didn’t break the calorie bank. I felt myself already slipping back into my positive ways. 

The whole trip was memorable, warm, inviting and genuine. There's a reason why I look forward to it each year. 
I saved my favorite picture from the whole trip for the end. This I took while Louis and I were reading on the porch. Candid and beautiful.