Super duper easy vegan fried ravioli

A few weeks ago we did our annual "find all the pumpkin drinks in Ohio and consume them with friends" evening. We just started this a few years ago and it's basically an excuse to indulge on my favorite pumpkin beers while stuffing my face with some vegan goodies. And hosting. Because I love hosting.

So instead of scrounging up a bunch of pumpkinish foods to go with this extravaganza, I decided to make whatever my little heart desired, and by heart I mean stomach.

Fried ravioli. It's something I've had VERY few times since going vegan because who wants to fuss around with all that pasta and breading and making tofu ricotta? I mean right? So I decided to dress up one of our favorite vegan frozen raviolis, and holy moly was it amazing.

We're talking minimal effort, but a serious reward. These fried raviolis were delicious, prep was super fast and the presentation was pretty sweet if I do say so myself.

AND they were a hit with our nonvegan friends (which is 99% of our friends)!

You can probably use YOUR favorite vegan ravioli, but I'm going to throw out the products we used because they came out stupendously.

Your next football party thanks me.

Vegan Fried Ravioli
(makes around two dozen fried raviolis)
1 12-oz bag of bite-size Tofutti "cheese" ravioli
2 cups of your favorite vegan marinara sauce
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups vegan bread crumbs
2 cups plain almond milk
1 TBS Ener-G egg replacer
Italian seasoning
Go Veggie vegan parmesan cheese
Vegetable oil for frying

First off, keep the raviolis frozen. Don't do anything crazy like thaw them. Grab medium-size bowls or containers and pour the milk in one, the flour in one and the breadcrumbs in another. In the bowl with the milk, use a fork and blend 1 TBS Ener-G egg replacer until fully mixed. In the bowl with the flour, add 2 tsp Italian seasoning and mix it up.

In a large frying or saute pan, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable on medium heat. While this is heating up, it's time to start breading our raviolis. Make sure to have a large plate to place them on. I set my assembly line up like this: flour container first, then milk, then breadcrumbs, then plate. So you're gonna grab a frozen ravioli, dip it in the milk mixture, then the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the breadcrumbs mixture. Place on the plate. Repeat 23 more times.

Once your raviolis are breaded and your oil is hot, it's time to start frying. Grab a plate and place some paper towels on it to help soak up excess oil. Have your parmesan ready to go over there, too. Gently place these bad boys in the oil and cook on each side about two-three minutes or until a golden brown color. (I was able to do 8 at a time in my gigantic pan). Using a spatula or whatevs you want, take them out of the oil and place on paper-towled plate. Sprinkle parmesan on while still hot, add some more Italian seasoning if you want to get really wild and crazy. Repeat until they're all done.

Let them cool and then serve with your favorite marinara sauce and listen to everyone rave about how they can't believe it's vegan!

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A letter to the parent of a female athlete

Dear parent of a female athlete,

Let me start off by saying this: Chances are, whether your daughter is nine or 19, she IS trying.

Sure, there are times her mind wanders; times when she laughs with a teammate or gets off track and starts talking about a boy. But for the most part, when it comes down to crunch time, when she's at her 190th pitching or hitting lesson and doing the same warm-up drill she's done 1,059 times, she IS trying.

It's not easy being an athlete. It's even harder being a good one. And just because she's an amazing athlete, doesn't always mean she's going to be on it 100%.

She's going to have her off days. She's going to have her absolutely, downright, terrible days. She's going to have trouble focusing sometimes, because, well, she's not JUST an athlete, she's also a young woman, a student, a daughter, a best friend, a girlfriend and probably so, so, so much more.

So I'm asking you to cut her some slack. If she's struggling with something she normally excels at, if she's having an off-day and not hitting her spots, heck, even if it seems like her head is in another world, just cut her some slack. Be her parent. Be her biggest supporter. But please, don't be her coach too.

Chances are, she's got enough coaches. But she's only one mother, one father, heck, some of them don't even have both. Be her supporter. Lift her up. Tell her she's doing amazing and if she has a bad day, it was just that - a bad day - it doesn't make her a bad athlete, daughter or person. It's just one day. One game. One lesson. One practice. One session doesn't not define her career.

I've been coaching girls for more than 10 years now. Softball was something I was always incredibly passionate about and still am. As a pitching coach, I get the honor of working with a select group of girls weekly to hone their skills. I teach them how to throw faster fastballs, more deceptive change ups and how to put more spin on all their awesome junk pitches. And because I've seen your daughter weekly for the last five years, trust me when I tell you this, she IS trying.

I will never, ever know your daughter the way that you do. I don't always know how she acts at home, to you or to her teachers. But I do know your daughter on the field. I notice when her shoulders start to slump because she made a bad play; I can see the deep breath she takes when she's just made a monumental mistake and is trying her best to hold it together and stick it out a little longer. I KNOW who your daughter is on the field. Years ago, I WAS your daughter on the field.

But what she needs from you and I, are very, very different things. Unless you, yourself, have played the sport and position she is playing, then please, stand down some. I can't tell you how many lessons I've been in where a dad or mom coaches their daughter through the drills, and not constructively, but very, very critically. "You're STILL not doing it right, aren't you listening to what your coach is saying?" "Why am I paying for these lessons if you're not going to give it your all?" "Don't you know what your doing wrong? You're supposed to step this way, not that way."

I'm not judging you parents, I promise, I'm really not. I know how it feels to KNOW your daughter is capable of more than she's currently giving. I struggle myself as a parent to step back when my daughter is on the balance beam and falling down for the 15th time. I fight back the urge to ask her why she's not focusing more, and my daughter is only five, so trust me when I tell you I understand your feelings. But I also know, from a coaching perspective, I know nothing about gymnastics. So rather than tear her down, rather than question her commitment, I'm going to tell her to keep going. To keep trying. I'm going to encourage her, because that is what she needs from me.

And trust me when I tell you this, parents. As a coach, I believe in your daughter too. I know she is capable of so much, if not even more than you already know, and I want for her only amazing things. It doesn't matter if I have one athlete or 20, I know them all, I coach them all as my own and when they fail, I fail too. I can't tell you how many times I've left a softball tournament asking myself what I could have done better, what more I could have provided, to have helped your girls step up their game. To have helped them play better. To have helped them feel more pride.

So believe me, I think about your daughter. When I her head drop because she just struck out and let her team down, it weighs heavily on my mind and my heart. And I know you feel that pain too. I know it breaks your heart to see your daughter hurt, and it frustrates you because you know she is SO much better than that. But before you critique her, before you ask her why on Earth she would swing at something at her ankles, let me ask you to do this instead: love her. Remind her how brilliant she is. Remind her that no matter how she plays, you will ALWAYS be in her corner, because you are her parent and that's what your job is.

And as a coach, this is what my job is: I'm going to make your daughter better. I'm probably going to give her some tough love, because that's what a coach is supposed to do. We push your daughters to do more and be more than they think they can. We spend practices, fundraisers, lessons and weekend trips with your daughters learning about them, investing in them, so we know how far and when to push them. As a coach, I'm asking you to trust me, trust that I know your daughter and that when I make a call you may not agree with, I'm seeing something you don't.

Once upon a time at a tournament, I had a pitcher give up a homerun. She hung a riseball and it was hit over the fence. She turned her back to us in the dugout, but you could see her shoulders huffing up and down, as she struggled to hold back the sobbing feeling she wanted to give into. You told me to pull her. You told me to get her out of there because she was done. And for a moment, I considered it, because that's your daughter.

But I didn't. And you probably really, really disliked me that game. How could I leave your baby in there when she was feeling like that? How could I expect her to come back from that? Why would I put her and the team through this when she clearly wasn't on her game today. And this is where I need you to trust me. I promise I know your daughter too. And not only do I know her, but I know exactly how she feels, because I had those moments as a pitcher. And I also know, that when she comes back from this, which she did, she's going to be better for it. She's going to be stronger. And she's going to be better than if I had taken her out and let her sulk.

Sometimes, I know you want the opposite of understanding. Sometimes, you want us to come down harder on them. I know you want us to tell them to suck it up and play better. And sometimes, we do. Sometimes, we give them a dose of tough love that is a little too tough. But sometimes, we don't. Sometimes we have to remind them how human we all are. Because sometimes, we see things you don't when they're playing.

The pressure to be an athlete is enormous today. It's not enough to be good anymore, you have to be the best. And sometimes, that pressure can suffocate you. And when your daughter is struggling to catch her metaphorical breath, it's not my job as a coach to strangle her confidence, it's not the time to break her down in order to build her up, we just need to keep her together.

And that is exactly what your job should be as the parent of a female athlete. To consistently be their rock. To be their fan all the time, even if you think they could be trying a little harder or doing a little better. Let the coaches wield the tough love, while you bring all the love.


Your daughter's coach.


Vegan apple-cider glazed pumpkin cakes

I wish I could take ownership of this amazingly simple recipe I'm about to throw your way, but alas, one of my friends shared it on Facebook and I decided, "wow I have to try this." And then, after I tried it and our friends declared it the most delicious cake they'd ever eaten, I decided I had to put it up on the blog in case the rest of you haven't seen it.

We're talking serious yum factor here and minimal effort.

You can find about a million different recipes for this on Pinterest or your Facebook too, so I'm not sure who to link to or where to place credit. But whoever you are that created this, well, you're awesome.

I chose to use a square cupcake pan to make these, so they'd have the appearance of personal mini cakes, which makes everyone feel special, right? That, and I haven't used this pan in over a year when I bought it for Brae's birthday and so I felt the urge to dust it off. You can do this in a regular rectangle cake pan or in a good ole fashioned cupcake pan, whatever your heart desires!

Vegan apple-cider glazed pumpkin cakes
(makes 12 square cupcakes)
Cake Ingredients: 
1 box of vegan yellow cake mix
1 can of pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1/4 cup water

Glaze Ingredients: 
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup apple cider (you can use a little less if you like your glaze thicker)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat the oven to 375.
Mix together cake mix and pumpkin. Grease your cupcake pan. Add in water and whip with hand or stand mixer. Once whipped together (mixture will be thick and a nice heavy fluffy texture), scoop into square cupcake pan (or whatever you've got). Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes begin to pull from the sides. Once cool, transfer your mini cakes to a large plate or tray.

In a medium bowl, mix together powdered sugar and apple cider. Once fully blended, stir in pumpkin pie spice. With a fork, stab holes in the mini cakes, about 6-10 per cake. Pour glaze over mini cakes.

Savor. Savor some more. Share if you must.

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Squashing unhealthy views on motherhood

Here's the thing about being a mom that people tell you, but you never really, really understand until you become one.

Motherhood, is seriously hard. In fact, it's the hardest thing you will ever, ever, EVER do in your entire life.

Of course, it's also the most rewarding, beautiful and amazing thing you'll ever get to be.

One of the hardest things about motherhood are all the feelings you don't expect to have - and I'm not talking about watching your child fail or have their heart broken for the first time - these feelings come with the territory.

I'm talking about all of the internal interrogation you subject yourself to, time and time again. Often, these feelings of self-doubt are completely unfounded, completely made up in your head and exacerbated by your own mind, by that constant feeling that you're somehow not good enough.

I bet if you gathered a room full of mothers and asked them to raise their hands if they ever felt not good enough, felt like they were somehow failing their child, every.SINGLE.one of them would not only raise their hand, but stand up.

It's not something we're proud to admit, us moms, that maybe we're not strong enough, not patient enough, not kind enough - in our weakest moments, some of us might even question if we love enough.

But we all have those feelings. And while it's not fair to place blame on any particular thing for those feelings, I think it's time we start calling out the things that make it a lot worse.

Facebook. The internet. Parenting magazines. Blogs. Friends. Twitter. Family. Other women. Other mothers. Instagram. Advice columns. Stupid memes. Pro-this-and-that groups. Doctors. Professionals. Television shows. Oh, and did I mention, SOCIAL MEDIA.

The other day I was perusing my Facebook timeline on my lunch break. I came across a motherhood meme from a new mother friend of mine. And I read it, and it made me mad. So I read it again, I tried to with softer eyes, less feminist, mother lion, hear-me-roar eyes, and it STILL made me mad. Because while the message seems all sweet and lovey dovey, there's so much hatred the mother I was three years ago feels because of that meme. And I don't like feeling that way.

"You can tell a baby is being well taken care of when they are full of joy." 

Seriously? Whoever made this can go shove it. I have taken care of my babies for well over six years now, between growing them in my body and worrying about every drop of caffeine I put in it or if I had enough veggies while I was nourishing them. And once they made their ways into the world, I continued to care for them. My daughter was a "difficult" baby. She struggled to latch, I had to either wear a shield to nurse her without both of us ending in tears (although sometimes, we still did) or pump for days on end. She went 10 days without pooping once (with plenty of wet diapers), which was "unheard" of for breastfed babies. She cried a lot. Sure, she smiled too, but those first four or five months of motherhood, my baby wasn't full of joy. She struggled with gastric issues, she couldn't sleep unless on her tummy (which is a huge no-no) and she was stressed out. But you know what? I took care of my baby. I LOVED my baby. I smiled and cooed at her. I lived on her giggles, even if they were few and far between. She may not have always exuded joy, but she was loved. And cared for. And I'll be damned if some stupid meme is going to make me feel like I didn't take care of my baby, don't take care of my baby, because she's not a bundle of fucking sunshine.

I know, I know, I'm allowing myself to get all wound up because of some meme that meant well. But isn't that how a lot of things we end up beating ourselves up over start out? As well meaning? Nowadays, the pressure is really, really heavy on mothers, suffocating at times, because it seems like no matter what we do, it's not good enough.

You're a stay-at-home mom? Awesome! You're dedicating your life to your children, you gave up a career so you can be there for every little moment, that is a blessed and beautiful thing. Except now, you're lazy. Now,  you're an insult to women everywhere because you're "just a mom," "just a housewife." You know, you're just THE single most important person to your family, how dare you not want to work a 9-5 job in the name of women everywhere to raise your babies?

You're a working mom? Awesome! You're showing your children that women can have whatever they want - a family, a marriage, a career - ROCK on sister. Except, don't you feel guilty that you're not there to see your child pull themselves up for the first time? Take their first step? Are you even really a "full-time" mom if your children spend 40 hours a week in daycare? I mean seriously, you're going to let OTHER people raise YOUR kids. What kind of monster are you?

See what I mean? The list goes on and on. And in this day and age, you can't win, no matter what you do.

So here's the truth. I don't know what the answer is to all these stipulations, all this pressure we feel to be everything to everyone.

But I do know this. We need to build ourselves up, build each other up, embrace your decisions with confidence, because even if no one else in the world agrees with what you're doing (co-sleeping, bottle-feeding, raising your kids vegan), if you make your choices based on what YOU think is best for your children, you're going to start to feel a lot better about those decisions. So bottle feed if that's what works. Let all 5 of your children sleep in your bed. Instead of looking at another mother and thinking "I would NEVER do that," let's look with loving, open eyes, "That might not work for me, but kudos to her." Let's accept that there isn't one magical right way to do everything, and instead of offering critiques, let's offer support.

Once you stop listening to all those other voices,  you're going to be able to hear another one a lot better - your own.

And when you're raising babies, your voice is the most important one to listen to.

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Vegan mushroom curry soup

If you're anything like me, any kind of curry dish basically instills a deep fear in the core of your being.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE Thai food, I mean, I'd probably marry it if I could (sorry hubby!), but when it comes to making it, I feel like it's really, really intimidating.

Last week I had a super craving for soup AND Thai food. But I was lazy and didn't feel like driving the 20 minutes to pick up our food from our favorite little Thai joint. So instead, I decided to do the unthinkable - I decided to make my own curry soup.

This came out phenomenal, was super simple and was a favorite of Chubby Vegan Dads. It's super light too, not like the overly-creamy versions you might find elsewhere, so even if the temperature where you live isn't bottoming out like Ohio, you'll still enjoy it.

Even better news? All the ingredients should be available at any major grocery chain! So no need to hit up 10 different stores! Woot!

Vegan mushroom curry soup
(makes 8 servings)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can light coconut milk
2 cups of your favorite mushroom, sliced
1.5 cups carrots, sliced (frozen carrots work great!)
1/2 cup onions, diced
2 cups potatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon red curry paste (or add by teaspoons to suit your taste, I like a lot of curry!)
2 tablespoons diced up cilantro (or add a bunch more to suit your taste!)

In a large stock pot, bring vegetable broth, coconut milk and curry paste to a boil. (Make sure you do lots of stirring to completely blend in the curry paste). Reduce heat to medium-high and add in diced potatoes and carrots. Wait five minutes and add in mushrooms, red pepper, onions and cilantro. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and serve in your favorite soup-eating bowl.

Feel free to eat with some of this awesome homemade vegan naan or nothing at all, either way it's delish!

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