What I tossed & some plant-based food we made & loved!

I just got back from a two-mile walk with the dogs this morning. The weather has been a dream the past few days, and it has me dreaming of spring, which comes pretty early in the south. The windows are open, the birds are chirping, and I’m sipping my coffee as I dive into today’s recap. It’s day two of 25 days of January, and I’m excited to share what I’ve tossed and a few recipes I’ve made.
Grumples has been extra cuddly lately. I think it’s because he’s cold from losing so much hair at the groomers. His allergies have been flaring up, so he’s on medication this week, and he’s finally recovered from an ear infection. Between him and Leo, we’ve had about seven trips to the vet in December.  I’m happy to report that he’s only gained 1.9 lbs since the last time he’s been at the vet. He had a 15-pound weight loss over the past year, so I’ve been so proud of the changes we’ve made together. It always feels good to know your pup is healthy, especially since he’s going to be eight this summer! Can you guys believe it? It feels like just yesterday when I was introducing him to you all.
Even though it’s Plant-Based January here at Simply Taralynn, I’m sharing a non-plant-based dish we made last week before we rang in the new year. There is a sushi restaurant in Fort Mill called “Akahana,” and they have the best ginger salads and chicken lettuce wraps. I came across an old post on my blog, and as soon as I saw the photos of the lettuce wraps, I knew I had to make them asap. They sounded so good! After Kyle and I left the gym, we headed over to Earthfare to pick up all the ingredients for the wraps.

I sauteed the peppers and onions in avocado oil until they were soft. In a separate pan, I cooked up the chicken. I made sure to dice up the chicken and peppers small, just like they did at Akahana. Once the chicken was cooked, I added it to the pan with the peppers and onions. On high heat, I added three tablespoons of gluten-free soy sauce, three tablespoons of gluten-free Thai Kitchen roasted red chili paste, three tablespoons of Sky Valley gluten-free general Tso sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1 tsp black pepper. Once the chicken and veggies were glazed, I turned off the heat and added 1/2 cup of chopped water chestnuts and three tablespoons of sliced scallions.

They turned out soooooooooooooooo dang delicious. The only thing missing in this recipe was the crunchy rice noodles, but that is what happens when I decide not to make a grocery list before shopping. I’m going to try this recipe with tofu, so I’ll make sure get the rice noodles then. 
If you freeze the lettuce for about ten minutes before serving, they hold up better and have an extra crunch. We also had gf/df eggrolls and dumplings for the side. We buy the Feel Good Foods kind in the freezer section at Earthfare. We watched Birdbox and started working on a puzzle. Kyle and I have been way too into puzzles lately.
I know my declutter challenge was for 2019, but I couldn’t wait to get a head start on it. One of the most annoying things happening in my kitchen was the random measuring spoons in the drawers. I could never din what I needed, and I hated how they were all over the place. I decided to take all of them and put them in the donation box. I bought a set of measuring cups that are together without missing spoons to replace them. They take up less space and having them attached is more convenient. And because I bought them before Christmas, the whole “no-spend” thing didn’t apply 😂 
I spent almost all of Sunday cleaning out the master bathroom, my shoe closet, and my old art drawers. I found my old high school cell phone, expired lotions and medicine, dried up fingernail polish, broken crayons, oil paints that are officially crispy, and about fifty more items just hiding away for the past years. I’ve been holding on to boots with broken zippers, pink Tom’s that I never liked, throw blankets that I’d never use, and just so much more. It feels great to get rid of it all. This was just the shoe closet and bathroom. SO much left to go through! After going through the bathroom, Kyle and I went through all the pots and pans and tossed about twenty we weren’t using. I’m not a baker, so why did I feel the need to have five cupcake pans and four pie pans? Just ridiculous. I kept my favorites and put the others in the donation box along with all the extra utensils.

Lunch: Banana matcha smoothie! (1 frozen banana, 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 tsp matcha powder, one scoop vanilla plant-based protein)
On Sunday evening, I went through some new cookbooks and wrote down some recipes I wanted to try and built a grocery list. I also had my oat milk cappuccino while relaxing. Even though Kyle and I agreed to the “no-gift” thing, he ended up getting me the iPhone Xplus (I was still using the 6), which is fantastic! We spent our evening switching plans, and I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to change phones. It’s a whole game changer! He was probably annoyed because of my awful service and phone dying every 45-minutes 😂 I used to have Spring, but now I’m a new member of the Verizon family.
On Sunday night, I made chocolate chip cookies from The Vegan 8 cookbook! I didn’t use the molasses and substituted the rice flour for ground flax and almond flour, and coconut flour. I used arrowroot instead of tapioca starch. I ran out of vanilla, but they turned out pretty dang good!!!!
 For dinner, we were in the mood of pizza. I already had sauce, cheese, and a cauliflower crust in my freezer from a month ago. If you haven’t had the Monteli cauliflower crust pizza yet, you have to try it. It tastes like a brick oven pizza! I used my favorite pizza sauce, Dei Fratelli, and my favorite plant-based mozzarella style shreds from Daiya. 
This vegan and gluten-free pizza were to die for! Even Kyle loved it! I had a side salad on the side made up of avocados, lettuce, and Panera’s Greek dressing. We finally powered through our 1000 piece puzzle while watching A Simple Favor. What a cheesy and cringy knockoff to Gone Girl. I don’t know how it got so many great reviews. We thought it was horrible, but see it for yourself. 
On New Year’s Eve, Kyle and I headed to the gym, and then made gluten-free vegan enchiladas for dinner. I had zero interest in going anywhere or doing anything for New Years. Watching the ball drop on T.V with hot tea and delicious food was all the entertainment I wanted. I did dive into a book around 9:30 that evening while Kyle was doing his laundry. His mom bought me the book “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” for Christmas, and I’m halfway through that. It’s really good and has so many life-changing reminders in the story, so I’ll report back when I’m finished.

Let’s talk about these enchiladas though…WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!! The recipe will be up tomorrow, and I promise you they will not disappoint. Stuffed with a creamy sauce, black beans, peppers, onions, chilis, and vegan meat crumbles. I made this with the intention to freeze and eat throughout plant-based January, but Kyle and I have already demolished half of the dish and will be eating the same for lunch! They are unbelievable.
We had plans to meet Becca and her fiance for lunch on New Years Day. We met halfway at The Big View Diner in Ballantyne. I was impressed with their menu! You could basically have anything you imagined. I ordered a cauliflower quinoa grain bowl which had spinach, tomatoes, avocado, almonds, and cranberries with a citrus vinaigrette dressing. I had grilled asparagus and sweet potato fries on the side! Oh, and their coffee was notably amazing. 
I was back to throwing out more things yesterday evening. I found a box in one of the hallway closets that had about twenty old dog toys, ripped dog harnesses, selfie sticks, broken chargers, more make up bags, broken hangers, and old rugs. This whole tossing thing is becoming strangely addicting. I’m already excited about going through the office closet drawers later! It’ll be a two-day project for sure. I have a container full of little notepads and stickers that I’m going to throw into a box for my neighbor girls to use. They love writing me little notes and drawing me pictures, so I figured they’d enjoy the cute office supplies from Erin Condren. 
I just made myself a delicious smoothie for lunch, and now I’m going to go bake up some plant-based muffins! I’m doing a lemon poppy seed, orange creamsicle, and key lime pie muffin flavor taste-off today!!

My smoothie has unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup ice, one ginger shooter, and one scoop plant-based vanilla protein!

Questions for you!

  1. What did you do on New Year’s Eve?
  2. Have you tossed anything you don’t use this year?


  • Natalija

    Hi Taralynn! I can’t believe Grumples is going to be 8 this summer! Where has the time gone? I still remember you introducing him on the blog and how teeny he was at the time. Did you like Birdbox? I heard a lot about it, but I’m not sure it won’t give me nightmares.Sounds like your decluttering challenge is going really well, so well done you, I also felt inspired to start going through my own drawers and shelves to organize and make more space after getting rid of those items I never use just sitting there.Have a lovely February!Best wishes from rainy England with just +3C these days.

    Reply to Natalija
  • Anonymous

    Love your dedication to blogging

    Reply to Anonymous
  • Fylicia Waugh

    Love, love, love! I had clutter and keeping junk I don’t use. I have been in a constant purging for the past few months. I inherited TONS of my Mom’s stuff and my hubby moved in so it all started accumulating! Feels so good to de-clutter! I really need to go through my bathroom junk and shoes too! You’ve inspired me and it’s SO addicting! I take any old clothes and shoes that are still in decent shape that I don’t wear to consignment so I can try and earn some money to buy some of the things I get rid of that maybe I want to replace.

    Reply to Fylicia Waugh
  • Hailey

    My boyfriend and I recently moved to California, so we went up to Sacramento to see the fireworks over the river. It was a great way to spend the evening and we were home before midnight to get all cozied up! 🙂

    Moving is a great way to declutter! I got rid of so much stuff before I left and again when I was unpacking all the boxes. It felt really good to get rid of stuff and have a fresh start!

    Hope you enjoy your January and I’m looking forward to following along! 🙂

    Reply to Hailey
  • Amanda

    How did you get Grumples to lose 15 lbs!? My doodle is a tad overweight and I don’t want to cut her food back too much or else she’ll be hungry! We live in the North so I can’t exactly walk her 4 miles a day like I did in the summer. Also, she’s got crazy food allergies so I’m afraid to touch diet foods. Tell me your secret!!!

    Reply to Amanda
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Amanda!

      We changed his treats to things like bell peppers and green beans! One trick our vet said to do was give him one serving of food in the morning (we use Blue Wilderness Grain Free Duck) and mix 1/2 cup of organic/drained/no salt added green beans in there. It helped his stay full by cutting back on his intake. He actually LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Also, in the summer/spring/and nice days here, I still do the three miles a day with him, let him run around the backyard at my parent’s as much as possible, and also got everyone in his life on board with his healthy lifestyle. My mom used to love giving him treats, but she switched to the green beans as well. Over the span of a year, he dropped weight gradually. ♥️

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Haley

    I could do some tossing this weekend!

    Reply to Haley
  • Alexandra

    The 5 People you Meet in Heaven is one of my all-time favorite books! Quick read, but super emotional and I think you’ll love it.

    I’m looking forward to decluttering our small apartment in the New Year. We accumulated so much extra stuff this past year when we got married between gifts, crafts, paper goods, etc. Excited for a fresh start and a cleaner, more organized space!

    Good luck with all of your challenges this month. Sounds like you’re off to a great start!

    Reply to Alexandra
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Alexandra!

      Thanks so much 😊

      I’m loving it so far! I’ll be finishing it this weekend while we’re away.

      Sounds like you have a great game plan to tackle all the extra stuff! 😃


      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Agneris Falcon-Gonzalez

    You have inspired me to start decluttering and it’s only 10am where I live and I am already through half the house. As I look at the bags and boxes I realize we dont need so many things lol.

    So happy you’re back to blogging, loved your vlogmas!

    PS. Are you doing a plant based challenge or going plant based for a while? Only asking bc my hubby came home suggesting we go plant based for the new year so I’m happy to be seeing you are as well.

    Reply to Agneris Falcon-Gonzalez
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Agneris!

      My plant-based challenge is for January, but I will always share more plant-based recipes and ideas on my blog. Because I eat a dairy-free diet, a lot of my recipes end up being naturally plant-based.

      It’s crazy to think how much “stuff” we have (and don’t use!) Nice job on decluttering!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Ann

    Happy New Year Taralynn! I love to organize as well and can’t stand stuff just sitting around. I wish I could get paid to declutter and organize, that would be a rewarding job for me, so weird, I know!
    Good luck with all your challenges this month and beyond, you’re off to a great start, love the enthusiasm!
    We spent our New Years Eve celebrating with our kids at a fancy hotel, but will be keeping the old stand by in the future like you did, with a movie, food and waiting for the ball to drop… my kind of party! 🙃

    Reply to Ann
    • Taralynn McNitt

      You could actually do that on the side as a job if you’re ever serious about it 😃 I know a lot of people make very good money doing that.

      Happy New Year, Ann!!! xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jessica Nuttall

    We stayed home for New Year’s Eve! I made some homemade snacks and we just hung out and watched TV shows (CW superheros, anyone??).

    I am working through purging things in every area of my house! Your challenge has really inspired me. I’m working through my cookbooks (really hard for me!) and I went through my dresser drawers last night. I’ve filled 3-4 grocery-size bags and I’m looking forward to dropping way more things off at Goodwill or the local thrift store. I don’t need all of this stuff, and it brings so much chaos to life!

    Reply to Jessica Nuttall
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Sounds like the most perfect & relaxing way to ring in the New Year!

      You go, girl!!!! I’m so happy that you’re getting rid of the “stuff” and it’s so rewarding!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Tammy

    I loved Vlogmas and was sad when it’s over so thank you for doing 25 days of blogging!

    Reply to Tammy
  • Harriet

    Wow your on a roll with the decluttering. Those enchiladas look and sound amazing! Definitely going to try them. I sorted and donated all the unused Christmas decorations and two boxes of stuff from my spare room today, felt amazing to get rid of it all. Going to sort my closet tomorrow. Please let us know how the plant based muffins turn out.

    Reply to Harriet
    • Taralynn McNitt

      I’ll be doing a blog on the muffins 😃 They have 8 ingredients so they’re my cup of tea!

      Great job on organizing. Closets can be exhausting, so good luck! You got this!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Brittany

    Haha I probably need to declutter.. my boyfriend would probably appreciate that 😂 To be fair though, I have been slowly donating my unused things over this past year.. so he can’t be that upset 😋Happy New Year

    Reply to Brittany
  • Anastasia

    It’s Day 2 and I am loving this whole 25 blogging days of January! Reading your blog is a stress reliever for me because you are always so positive! So, it was nice to be able to come home from work, sit down with my coffee, and read your latest post!! 🙂

    Those enchiladas look INSANE – can’t wait for the recipe!!

    My New Year’s Eve was super uneventful, just the way I like it! Hah! I stayed up until 10 playing cards with my family, read a book until 11, and fell asleep just before midnight. Sometimes I don’t know if I am 22 or 82!! lol

    I have already donated so many clothes to our local Habitat to Humanity!! Tonight I am going through my desk drawers and bathroom sink!!


    Reply to Anastasia
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Anastasia!

      I’m so glad you’re following along! Nothing makes me happier than hearing that you sit down to read my blog with a cup of coffee! 💜 ☕️

      We ate the last of them last night and I’m so sad they are gone, but excited to try out some new recipes!!

      Hahahaha same, girl! We went out last year and it was so cold and kind of miserable, so we both had no intentions of going out!! 82 looks good to me! 😂

      Can’t wait to hear what you get rid of! go go go! xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Lauren

    We decided to spend NYE in Paris. My husband and I went to dinner and then to a couple of cafés.

    This year I haven’t tossed anything yet, but I did get rid of some old clothes last week. I used to have a hard time doing that, but now I don’t mind anymore.

    Reply to Lauren
  • Jenna

    On New Years eve, I actually got to watch my best friends 2 babies! A 16 month old and 4.5 month old. They were so good! Though, I did put both their diapers on backwards more than once…. LOL. Then we had a fire and made smores and another friend and her boyfriend came over and we sat in the backyard and watched fireworks that my neighbor does.

    I haven’t tossed anything yet… but I plan to go to Target after work to get some storage totes and purge when I get home! It feels SO GOOD to get rid of things.

    Reply to Jenna
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Jenna!

      Awww, how fun!! I’d probably put the diapers on wrong too haha. I don’t think I’ve EVER put a diaper on a baby, which is fine by me! 😂 S’mores and a bonfire sounds like the perfect way to end the year!!

      You are right!! Enjoy that Target run! xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Mechela

    We went to see the Roots NYE. It was a fantastic show starting at 10 and going until 2am. They put on the best concerts/dance parties!

    I love to purge a couple of times a year. Once you get started, it’s hard to go back! 😂

    Reply to Mechela
  • Hannah J

    I’m counting down the hours until you push public on those enchiladas!

    Reply to Hannah J
  • Danielle

    I’m a constant purger. I keep a donation bag open and toss things in as I see them. I’ve become a minimalist having lived in smaller condos. I just hit the storage unit and filled my trunk for goodwill. Feels great!

    Reply to Danielle
  • Marguerite

    Been following you for several years but finally took the plunge and decided to “follow” you. We did nothing on New Year’s Eve—pizza & salad for dinner followed by a little TV. Cleaning and organizing is my goal for the year. So far I have created four bags for Goodwill and probably two more to go. Just have to rethink why I saved all this stuff in the first place. Looking forward to your recipes this month since we have a daughter who is vegetarian and this mom needs some ideas. PS: I was addicted to vlogmas.

    Reply to Marguerite
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Marguerite!

      Awwww thank you ♥️ Isn’t that the best? I woke up on New Year’s day feeling so refreshed because we did the same instead of staying up late and going out. Way to go on your four bags! That is a lot of decluttering. Love that your daughter makes her own choices on what to eat and that you are so supportive. You’re amazing! 💜 xo xo xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jess

    We stayed home for New Year’s Eve! I made some appetizers – homemade boneless chicken wings, cheese deep, and cheesecake (I REALLY need to get on that healthy-eating bandwagon this year!!) We enjoyed spending time together and RELAXING!

    I am slowly working on tossing things this year. It’s amazing how much stuff you think you need, but you really can live a fantastic life with so much less STUFF. The clutter and constant searching for things is just not worth it!

    Can you share what cookbooks you had in the picture in this post? I am definitely interested in more plant-based eating but always need help with GOOD recipes!

    Reply to Jess
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Jess!

      Wow sounds amazing ♥️ AND relaxing.

      I can’t agree MORE with you. Constantly searching for things is not worth it. So right!

      I bought the Minimalist Baker vegan cookbook & The Vegan 8!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Katie

    We didn’t even stay up late enough to watch the ball drop haha! That’s what having a 5 month old baby will do to you! I haven’t thrown anything away yet, but I am planning to go through my kitchen cabinets soon!

    Also, where can I find the recipe for your salmon? I’ve been wanting to try it but can’t seem to find the recipe!

    Reply to Katie
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Katie!

      For the salmon

      I rub the salmon with honey, lime juice, and low sodium soy sauce. I sprinkle the top with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. I’ll bake it at 350 and the time all depends on the size of the fillet 😊

      I don’t have a 5-month old baby and still walked up to my bed an hour before the ball dropped! I like waking up early with coffee instead of staying up late 😂

      Cabinets are always the craziest to go through!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Heather

    I just tossed old expired medicines, lotions, etc from my bathroom sink area and it looks so much better. It’s clean and organized and everything I use and need is right in front of me!
    Sounds like plant based january is off to a roaring start for you! What’s your favorite plant based protein powder to use for smoothies?

    Reply to Heather
  • Tara R

    I used the Marie Kondo method last April and got rid of over 1/3 of my stuff. Honestly you’re going to LOVE the feeling afterwards. It might seem daunting after a while, but keep plugging through it! I’m excited to see you crush your goals this month. I’m heading back to the gym after a four month hiatus so I’ll keep looking at your daily blogs to help get me motivated 🙂

    Reply to Tara R
  • Zoe

    My parents came over after mom got off work on New Year’s Eve & we played cards until midnight. We played one hand of Uno, put the kids to bed & then played Spades & Pinochle for the rest of the night!

    I need to toss some things, but I never know where to take it!

    Reply to Zoe
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Zoe!

      Sounds like a fun time! Love spending important holidays with fam 💜

      You can look up local charities around you and just drop them off 😃

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    I need to get decluttering and tossing, and now’s the perfect time to do it, a fresh start in the new year! My New Year’s Eve was spent like an old grandma – I stayed home, ate dinner with my family and then watched Gossip Girl. Haha! 😛

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Charmaine!

      It feels so good and relieves so much stress after a good decluttering session. Your New Year sounds amazing, I think we all enjoy just being cozy and relaxing into the New Year! ♥️

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt

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