A Visit To Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the annual open house at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary. From their website-

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary is a 400 acre non-profit refuge in Poolesville, Maryland for farm animals and wildlife that relies entirely on public donations for support. Our mission is to offer care, rehabilitation, and permanent sanctuary for neglected, abused or abandoned farm animals, as well as providing a protected habitat for wildlife. We promote compassion and the humane treatment of all animals by educating the public on farm animal and wildlife issues.

For the past 21 years they have invited the community to tour the farm, meet the animals, and try delicious vegan food. I had it noted on my calendar as a reminder, but hadn’t firmly committed to going until the morning of the event. Chris, my husband, and I decided it was a beautiful day to be outside and we were not disappointed. When we arrived, we tried a few of the vegan food options and gratefully grabbed a cup of coffee from Brewing Good Coffee Company (delicious!).

Then we made the rounds to visit the animals which was so heartwarming. All of the staff were patient and kind which made for an inviting environment. Here are a few photos of some of the fuzzy and feathery individuals we met-

This is Mason, the rooster. He was found on the Shenandoah Trail by a hiker and brought to Poplar Springs.

This is Mason, the rooster. He was found on the Shenandoah Trail by a hiker and brought to Poplar Springs.

Edward the peacock

Edward the peacock

Everyone loves a good scratch.

Everyone loves a good scratch.

Having fun in the sun.

Having fun in the sun.

Beautiful Lily getting a nose rub.

Beautiful Lily getting a nose rub.

Taking an afternoon snooze in the barn.

Taking an afternoon snooze in the barn.

Gave this sleepy pig some ear scratches.

Gave this sleepy pig some ear scratches.

If you ever get the chance, I recommend visiting an animal sanctuary to really make a connection with these beautiful creatures. If you have been following Living Well and Wild, you know that I advocate a vegan lifestyle. It is because I can’t imagine consciously harming another living being or paying to have it done. If you are interested in finding more about making the transition to a vegan lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to support you! You can also sign up to try veganism with Challenge 22.

What is your favorite plant-based meal?

3 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

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As a wellness coach, meal planning is something that comes up quite often with my coaching clients. Most people want to make healthier choices and figure out how to set themselves up for success. Planning and its big sister prepping are intended to be strategies to help streamline the decision making process and cut down on time spent on meals during busier days. 

That being said, there is an incredible amount of information on this topic out there and as with anything else, too much information, or strategies that are too complicated can lead to an effect known as "analysis paralysis"- there is so much information that you don't know where to begin...so you don't.

Meal planning has many benefits and for me, the most important one is saving time in the evenings. If I have a busy day, I don't like having to decide what to have for dinner at the last minute. Chris, my husband, is really talented at throwing ingredients together, but I don't have as much practice. (Did I mention how lucky I am to have a partner who cooks amazing vegan food?!) It makes it much easier to have a plan and be prepared with all of the ingredients I'll need. In addition to saving time, I believe that meal planning saves money. Cooking at home is usually much less expensive than eating out. If I have a meal plan and the ingredients, I am much less likely to go out to eat. (And see Tip #2 below if you find yourself running out of time to cook due to a varied schedule)

The three tips I'm sharing with today are extremely basic- and this is the point. To give you a place to start if meal planning is something you're curious about.

Tip #1- Break Up The Week

In my experience, it has always been easier to meal plan for a few days at a time, rather than try to look at the whole entire week all at once. If I'm meal planning on a Sunday, I will usually meal plan through Wednesday evening. Then Wednesday, I will plan through the weekend. Fridays are usually the "takeout" night in our house (with delicious vegan Chinese food as the default) so that helps break up the planning even more. Breaking up the week into 2 sets of "mini-planning" makes the process a lot less overwhelming. It does require a potential second trip to the grocery store, but you aren't buying as many things, so hopefully you're out more quickly.


Tip #2- Have an Easy Backup Plan on Hand

Sometimes I will plan on these awesome dinners where I am trying a new recipe that might take a bit longer than usual to prepare. I also know that there are days where plans go awry, schedules get changed, and suddenly you don't have the hour you had set aside to make dinner. This is why I always have easy meal ingredients like pasta*, veggie burgers**, and salad fixings on hand. As I mentioned above, this will help to prevent an unplanned trip out to eat.

* I like the Organic Black Bean Spaghetti from Explore Cuisine- 25 grams of protein/serving!

** Another household favorite is the Morningstar Roasted Garlic and Quinoa burgers



Tip #3- Leftovers are Your Friends

99% of the time I plan on leftovers for lunch. It's so much easier to make a little extra of dinner the night before and pack it up in a container to grab the next day. Whether you work from home, in an office, or out in the field, it's really helpful to not have to worry about cobbling something together for lunch. Sometimes Chris will also take leftover quinoa, rice, and/or veggies from a previous meal to make a nice stir-fry with tofu. Using what you have in your fridge also reduces food waste and saves money.


Do you have any meal planning tips that have helped you to be successful?

Three Fall Drinks (Vegan)

Fall is finally here in Virginia and as long as it doesn't get too cold too soon, I am going to love the opportunity to break out my hoodies and light jackets. It's also the time where I make the switch from iced to hot drinks, especially in the morning and late evening when temperatures are lower.

Today  wanted to share three vegan, cold weather beverages to keep you warm and cozy as we transition into Fall. Grab your biggest mugs and check them out!

London Fog

Earl Grey Tea


Coconut Sugar

Steamed/Frothed Almond or Soy Milk

1. Brew a cup of Earl Grey tea with 1/2 -1 tsp of lavender (I actually used a Green Earl Grey from Fortnum and Mason that I picked up in London)

2. Strain lavender and loose tea or remove tea bag

3. Add steamed frothed milk topped off with a little foam. (I don't have a milk steamer but I was able to get the same effect with an immersion blender, after heating almond milk on the stove)

4. Sprinkle coconut sugar on top of foam.

Golden Milk

1 cup of Almond or Soy Milk

1/2 teaspoon Tumeric Powder

1/2 teaspoon Ginger Powder

Dash of Cardamom Powder

1 cinnamon stick

Cracked Black Pepper

Coconut Sugar to taste

1. Warm vegan milk on low heat with the tumeric powder and cinnamon stick.

2. Once warmed, add ginger, cardamom, fresh cracked black pepper, and coconut sugar.

3. Remove cinnamon stick and enjoy

Hot Cocoa with Vegan Carmel Drizzle and Sea Salt

1 cup of Almond or Soy Milk

1 tablespoon vegan Hot Cocoa mix (I use the Lake Champlain organic hot cocoa mix. You can also make your own with cocoa powder and sugar.)

Vegan Marshmallows (I have been using Dandies but I heard recently that Trader Joe's has a house brand bag of marshmallows that has no gelatin and is super affordable. I need to make a trip out there soon!)

Vegan Caramel Drizzle (I made a batch using this recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen. Check out her website for more vegan recipes!)

Sea Salt Flakes (I use Maldon which you can get at most grocery stores and Amazon)

1. Warm vegan milk on low heat.

2. Add hot cocoa mix and whisk together

3. Pour hot cocoa into mug and top with 2-3 large marshmallows

4. Drizzle caramel sauce on top

5. Sprinkle sea salt flakes to finish

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite thing about fall!