Quick and Easy Dr. McDougall Program Dinner Meal Ideas

by on July 2, 2012


Eating a whole foods plant based diet doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming.  It can be very cheap, quick and satisfying, but you need to be able to design a meal that will at least give you enough calories and be enjoyable to eat to succeed in the long term.

Dr. John McDougall has come out with a new book in 2012 called The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! and he talks about why starch is the best food to base a healthy plant based diet on. Cultures all over the world are thriving on a predominantly plant based high starch diet, whether in the form of potatoes, white rice, pasta, or corn (maize, not yellow sweet corn), supplemented with green and yellow vegetables and some fresh fruits.

Starch is a complex carbohydrate, so it is a slower releasing carbohydrate compared to fruit. When you eat starches they take longer to digest and so you get some energy right away and some later. This is why a meal including mashed potatoes or pasta can be so satisfying and keep you full for a long time. If you get the majority of your energy from whole food starches you will find it very easy to lose or maintain your ideal weight.

In fact there was even a man named Chris Voigt who ate 20 potatoes a day for 60 days and lost 23 lbs! He also significantly reduced his cholesterol and his triglycerides eating white potatoes 3 times a day!

So white potatoes are not “bad” for you like many carb phobic health gurus claim.  What is unhealthy is all the butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon that people load up onto a giant jacket potato and eat ON TOP of a large piece of fatty meat and a side that has more cream or cheese in it. Often it’s just too many calories from rich animal foods. The white potato itself is not making you fat, it’s too many rich foods and too many nutrient poor calories on top of the potato.

Sure there are other starches that are higher in nutrients than a white potato, like sweet potatoes or yams, but the point is the white potato is not going to harm your health or make you fat, just the opposite in fact. Including some healthy high carb low fat foods into your daily meals will help keep you full and your waistline trim. The key is to eat smart and keep it simple!

One of my basic McDougall meals is a large baked jacket potato topped with either my oil-free hummus or salsa, and an ear or two of sweet corn and a green like steamed broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts etc.

When you think about how simple and inexpensive this meal is even compared to a fast food meal you’ll realize it’s not that hard to do and is quite easy on the pocketbook too. A potato might cost 20-50 cents depending on how many you buy, an ear of corn could be 75 cents to a dollar and a small head of broccoli can be a dollar or two and even less if you’re using frozen vegetables.  So you have a meal that could cost you around $2 for a plate, more if you increase the amount of vegetables or choose organic, but even still it’s much cheaper and better for you than a $3.99 value meal at McDonalds. This is a very basic example, but there are many McDougall recipes that are quite inexpensive to make. Check out my Low Fat Vegan Comfort Soups Recipe eBook for some more great ideas.

Often people think a healthy diet is:

#1. Bland and boring

#2. Expensive

#3. Time consuming

#4. Not practical

Well we can start off by fixing the bland and boring part by choosing different combinations of healthy inexpensive foods to build a meal out of. Then you can spice it up with some zesty seasonings or low fat condiments (it’s even better to make your own) and then it will be more palatable and exciting to eat. Just because we take the cheese and bacon out of potatoes and salads for a healthy vegan diet doesn’t mean that you have to eat them plain and lament about it. When you take something that is a typical standard food item and switch it for a vegan version, don’t just take take take and be left with plain lettuce or a plain bun. There’s a plethora of fresh, cooked, pickled and fermented goodies you can use for toppings in place of cheese, meat, mayo, and creamy dressings.

Eating a low fat plant based or vegan diet can be expensive or inexpensive. It really depends on where you shop, what you buy and if you buy in small quantities or in bulk. To make this diet cheaper, it’s better to buy some things in bulk like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, whole grains etc. because the price per serving is greatly reduced. You can shop at places like Costco, or even organic wholesale distributors and get seasonal vegetables and fruit in bulk for a discount. Also don’t forget you can buy frozen vegetables and fruit to keep around for a quick meal. Check for sales in local flyers, or check them online before you head to the grocery store.

I have to say that eating simple McDougall based meals is NOT time consuming at all. For a starch I can throw a few potatoes in the oven at 400 F/205 C for an hour or put some rice in my rice cooker and my main source of calories is taken care of. Then I can just steam or boil any accompanying vegetables if desired. Or you can make a big vegetable stew or soup in a slow cooker, or cook your own beans and lentils in a pressure cooker if you’re looking for a quicker turnaround time. Really the most important thing to being able to put meals together quickly is to have a stocked refrigerator and pantry with healthy whole foods that you can put together into a complete meal. (It also helps if you make foods you enjoy as well as trying new ones.)

When you’re eating out, or making meals for family and friends you may think that eating a low fat plant based diet isn’t practical or very attractive and it depends on your outlook and how you execute it. If your family or friends are on board with your healthy lifestyle that’s great, and if they aren’t there’s still a good chance they can eat most of what you’re making for yourself anyway for their meal as well. They can choose to have some meat or dairy on the side if they insist and still join you.

When you’re eating out, it’s best to check out restaurant menus in advance (or online) and see if there’s anything that can be modified to work for you. If you can’t or if you have any doubts CALL THE RESTAURANT and talk to the chef or sous chef during the day before the dinner rush. They will not be upset, they will try to please you and will often get excited about the challenge of coming up with an oil free/low fat vegan option using their own creative skills. It’s best not to ask a hostess or server as they really don’t know what ingredients chef’s have to work with in the kitchen and they’re likely to be less creative, ie. bringing out a salad with just the chicken and cheese removed and nothing else on to substitute it with. Depending where you live the wait staff will know more or less about dietary restrictions and allergies as well. When I have friends or family members with dietary restrictions, I go out of my way to make something for all of us that they can have and generally any good chef will accommodate you.

Here are some ideas for building a healthy and satisfying starch based McDougall plate at home. I would suggest choosing 3-5 items from the list below:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy from Vegan Comfort Foods From Around The World

Healthy Starches

Sweet potatoes – yams/kumara

Potatoes – yellow/purple/white etc.

Whole grains – quinoa, steel cut oats, barley, bulgar, couscous, millet, rye, amaranth, spelt, canawa, wild rice

Rice – brown, basmati, jasmine, sticky white, red Bhutanese, black etc.

Pasta: whole grain pasta, egg free pasta, buckwheat pasta etc.

Starchy vegetables: winter squash, sweet corn, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnip, plaintain, taro, etc

Healthy Plant Based Proteins

Beans – black, kidney, pinto, chickpeas, white, soy, tofu, tempeh, adzuki, black eyed peas, fava, gigantes, lima, mung, etc.

Other legumes – peas, split peas, red lentils, brown lentils, French green lentils, black lentils, masoor lentils, peanuts, etc

Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, flax, hemp, chia (in moderation as these are also high in fat too)

Wheat protein: seiten/wheat gluten (if you’re not gluten intolerant)

Leafy Greens and Vegetables:

Leafy Greens – kale, collards, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, Romaine, spinach, arugala, lamb’s lettuce/mache, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, cabbage, bok choi,  Brussels sprouts, watercress, wild edibles like lambs quarters and purslane, etc.

Green vegetables: broccoli, broccolini, broccoli rabe/rapini, celery, asparagus, green string beans, zucchini, green/spring onions, kohlrabi,

Orange, red and yellow vegetables: bell peppers/capsicum, yellow beans, yellow summer squash, tomatoes, radishes,

Misc vegetables: onions, garlic, mushrooms, eggplant/aubergine etc.

And what about fruits? Make sure you get a few servings of fruit a day into your diet. This can be in the form of a smoothie, (which I have TONS of fruit smoothie and green smoothie recipes on here) a snack or a fruit dessert. There are literally hundreds of fruits to choose from.

Some fruits that go really well on salads (if you’re looking for some raw options) are apples, sliced grapes, fresh berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, orange segments, Mandarin oranges or Clementine oranges, grapefruit, pommelo, kiwi fruit, persimmons, dragon fruit, raisins, dried cranberries and more!

To keep things fairly inexpensive and hassle free you can eat basic meals like rice or potatoes with some beans, tofu or tempeh, and a salad or steamed or sautéed veggies. There are so many different combinations and you can eat whatever is in season. Then to add some variety you can make things like a vegetable stew, a vegan soup, veggie tacos with rice, lentil curry and rice, noodles with sautéed veggies etc. a few times a week. They key is to find some healthy foods and meals that you really enjoy eating and it doesn’t feel like a chore or you are depriving yourself. It always helps to have some tasty homemade or store bought low fat condiments to add some flavour as well.

Condiment Ideas to Compliment Mcdougall Style Meals:

-fresh or store bought salsa/pico de gallo

-homemade oil free hummus, or store bought

-homemade oil free babaganoush (eggplant tahini dip)

-barbecue sauce

-hot sauce

-ketchup (look for low sodium, corn syrup free varieties)

-gourmet mustards

-pickled vegetables

-fat free/low fat dressings

-soy sauce or tamari

-teriyaki sauce or hoison sauce

-roasted garlic, sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, roasted bell peppers/capsicum

Now Available! Vegan Comfort Foods From Around The World – 100% oil free and McDougall friendly recipes!

There are so many ideas out there to add a little flavour and excitement to a low fat plant based diet. Even if you’re only eating this way when you’re at home you will notice some health benefits and feel satisfied with these whole food comfort foods.

Have you ever read one of Dr. McDougall’s books or tried The McDougall Program?

 

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Drew January 7, 2014 at 6:53 PM

How do you know when to stop eating? How many calories are in Dr. McDougall’s daily plan? I was reading his book the starch lotion and it seemed a little vague in that area. Also I’m used to being on the zone diet by Dr. Sears and it seems as though not having the proteins would be make I think foggy (daydreamin)g in other words. It be great if you could answer some of these questions thanks

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2 Anita November 18, 2013 at 1:47 PM

I already have type 2 diabetes so all this starch woulod really not be good for me????

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3 Veronica Grace November 18, 2013 at 2:05 PM

You can cure type 2 diabetes if you adhere to an oil free low fat diet, there’s only an issue when you eat starch or carbs WITH a lot of oil and fat as that causes spikes in insulin. Check out: Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594868107/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1594868107&linkCode=as2&tag=rawve-20

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4 Kim May 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM

My family began Dr McDougals program in January. The results were immediate and incredible!! Weight, blood sugar, cholesterol all down almost immediately!! The food is surprisingly good and I’m having so much fun cooking. Giving up bacon was tough but when i discovered how to make mock tofu bacon i was Thrilled … BLTs are a favorite. Veronica I was really excited when i found you and your delicious recipes … It’s not easy to find the “Low Fat” vegan … Thank You!!

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5 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica May 23, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Thank you Kim, I’m glad you are enjoying the recipes. I love the McDougall program and am so glad you and your family are doing so well on it. :)

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6 Janine April 13, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Thanks for the all your inspiration and great recipes, Veronica! I started the McDougall program a few weeks ago and finally, after a great many years of struggling, the weight is at last coming off effortlessly. I’ve been vegan for some time now, but realized after reading “The Starch Solution” and also “The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss”, that I was rapidly becoming an unhealthy vegan; my weight was steadily going up and those blood lipid levels weren’t looking too good! This was largely due to way too much Becel Vegan margarine on my vegetables (it really tastes so much like butter :) ) olive oil, nut butters, and the Gardein range of products, all of which my husband enjoys. So although I can’t plead ignorance concerning too much fat, the slide to being unhealthy wasn’t entirely my fault! I’m still finding it difficult to creatively cook for two, as my husband is not impressed with fat-free cooking. I will persevere, as the incentive is there, now that I see how well it works. Besides, it’s so nice to fit into smaller clothes and have fewer aches and pains. I also know those blood levels will be perfect next time I go!

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7 Ai January 13, 2013 at 9:24 AM

What’s your take on soy and tofu? Many health experts seem to avoid tofu and soy in general. what do you think?

thanks for sharing!

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8 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica January 13, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Hi Ai

Organic traditional soy products I don’t have a problem a with. Much of the propaganda is just that, The Weston Price Foundation and dairy industry making up stories about how bad soy is for everyone.

I still use products such as tofu, tempeh, miso paste and soy sauce in some of my recipes. You don’t have to use soy products on a vegan diet, but if you’re not allergic to them and have no adverse reaction to them including them occasionally shouldn’t be a problem.

Check out this article with citations: The Truth About Soy

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9 Dawn C. January 13, 2013 at 12:24 AM

I first tried the McDougall Program in 2005 and lost 35 lbs in about 3.5 months. Eating lots of delicious food I had more energy than ever, all my arthritic pains completely disappeared, I gained flexibility, my skin became free of pimples, my fibromyalgia disappeared, my digestion improved, I looked 10 years younger and felt fantastic!!!

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10 Mary Ann Christenson January 12, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Thanks for this website. I appreciate your practical inspiration. about 20 years ago(!) we bought McDougalls books and ate veggie for about 3 years, because my husband had open heart surgery. I am trying to get back to an (almost) veggie diet.

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11 John September 10, 2012 at 12:33 AM

This is an excellent post, I will be adding your site to my bookmarks!

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12 Sari July 11, 2012 at 11:20 PM

I live in Jakarta, Indonesia where the main staple of food is (white) rice. The sad thing is that people blame it for their weight gain (“Rice makes you fat!”). So a lot of my friends who want to lose weight is afraid to eat rice, and they’ll eat anything else (potatoes – which is okay if they’re not fried, noodles, vermicellis, pasta, bread, yoghurt, or even beef, chicken or fish) but rice. I lose 25kg = 55 pounds in 6 monts by avoiding oil, eating fruit & vegs, and (of course, my fav) rice. At the beginning I went on strict raw food diet, but then subsequently following the low fat vegan diet. Dr. McDougall’s diet should be very easy for Indonesian, as we eat rice everyday, just remove the oil and meat products. My friends don’t believe me when I said I can eat as much rice as I want (okay, maybe still within my daily calories needs, but rice is so filling you won’t likely eat too much of it). I hope someone will translate Dr. McDougall’s books to Indonesian so that people get the right idea… Or you know, maybe I should just translate it myself :D

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13 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 11, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Thats excellent Sari! Congratulations!

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14 Anna Down Under July 7, 2012 at 2:35 AM

I’ve been eating a starch-based diet since the end of February and so far I’ve lost over 35 pounds (16 kilos) and counting! I find it so easy! My favourite meal is my baked chimichangas, which I make using baked chunks of sweet potato, fat-free refried beans, and a jar of salsa mixed together, then use it to fill tortillas, roll up and bake in the oven about 15-20 minutes until crunchy. So good! They reheat very well too, but won’t be crunchy if done in the microwave – still delicious though! I posted the basics of what I eat here, if anyone’s interested: http://tinyurl.com/ccbyoq8

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15 Aly July 3, 2012 at 8:07 PM

I lived mcDougall style for years, loved the food, and was thin. I went raw vegan and gained so much energy that I struggle to go back to mostly cooked vegan. Is it even possible to eat a high cooked vegan diet and still have the energy the raw form gives a person?

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16 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 4, 2012 at 12:38 PM

I don’t know… but what I do know is there are very few long term 100% raw foodists, and sometimes the stress of the diet and not being able to eat out or travel puts too much pressure on a person.

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17 Em July 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Thanks for the clarity, V – always appreciate your skills in cutting through lots of information and distilling it to make it straightforward (a no-brainer) for us.

Re the two pictures you’ve posted here – the top one is obvious – but what is in the second pic? It looks so tempting and delicious to me, given that I’m in the throes of winter here…

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18 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 3, 2012 at 4:19 PM

It’s mashed potatoes and gravy. One of Dr McDougall’s favourite dishes

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19 donna McFarland July 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM

what better time for people to be doing this than NOW? Economic times are TOUGH and gonna stay that way folks…might as well learn, get healthy, and save a ton of cash in the meantime. Thanks mucho Veronica…you’re the best!

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20 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 3, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Thanks Donna :)

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21 dawn July 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM

i have been on the mcdougall program since feb. 1 ( thank you also for your great soup recipes love cabbage soup one.) here’s the crazy thing I’m 61 have ms and did it more for health reasons. i’ve lost 40 lbs so far, i went from a size 20 to a 14 and got off of diabetic pills. i still have some weight to go, but i drop a lb every few days. i’m loving what i eat. i’m never hungry . my friends are so surprised because i used to gain weight just looking at food and you know you can’t loose weight eating potatoes. LOL

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22 Beth July 3, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Hi Dawn,
thank you for your input!
did you do anything different on the diet, did you have bread? Just made the McDougall “burgers” and I see that Chef V’s husband didn’t allow his mom any bread or other whole grain flour products except pasta…
Is the cabbage soup recipe in the New STARCH book by McD?

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23 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Hi Beth the soup recipe is mine, you can find it here http://lowfatveganchef.com/?p=2305

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24 dawn July 4, 2012 at 12:35 PM

i eat very little bread (whole wheat) lots of potatoes, brown rice, some pasta, salads, and soups. Wendys has a potato and side salad if i am out I bring my own dressing. I love Veronica’s soup recipes and bought a pressure cooker just to make vegetable stock. the only time I have cheated it has been eating too much pineapple. I am just amazed at how this works and how good i feel. All these years of dieting who knew the things i love the most would be the answer. My dr. told my husband i’m getting younger. thank you Veronica

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25 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 4, 2012 at 12:37 PM

That’s so awesome Dawn! Congrats!

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26 Barb Bashera March 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Dawn, were you able to reach your goal?? And how many calories per day did you eat??

Barb B

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27 Beth July 3, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Hi V, and all.
Has anyone tried this for weight loss, and had success??
PLEASE , if you have, how did you do it?
I want to stay a vegan and use Dr <cD's program….
I am doing it right now, with the addition of using a bit of soy mayo with 2 fat grams a Tablespoon, but not often, and otherwise eating as he recommends, and not seeing the pounds drop…Maybe I should do the 20 potatoes a day!!!
Thank you

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28 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 3, 2012 at 11:07 AM

My friend’s mom followed a fairly strict no fat McDougall program and lost 55 lbs in 8 months. You can read about it here http://www.fredericpatenaude.com/blog/?p=2416 my mom lost 13 lbs in 60 days going mostly oil free vegan. She travels all the time so she can’t cook all of her own meals but making better choices helped her.

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29 Al April 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM

@Beth, I had to smile when I saw your post. Even it is a year old. I understand how you feel about being a vegan and overweight. I thought about those 20 potatoes a day also!!!!!
I have adapted a low fat vegan diet that Veronica shows us and I do feel better and this am the scale siad that I was down 10 lbs…… Right now I am just back from vacation and detoxing with a raw food regemine of fruits and veggies then going back to the low fat vegan eating.
I hope you are doing better and that the weight is coming off.

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30 Elizabeth July 3, 2012 at 10:16 AM

What a great post. I bet this will help several people. Thanks for your dedication in educating people!!
Peace and Raw Health,
Elizabeth

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31 deb July 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Hi – can you tell me how you make the brown gravy. It looks great. Funny, I was just watching the docs video last night about potatoes.

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32 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 3, 2012 at 11:08 AM

The gravy will be in my upcoming comfort foods recipe ebook. I’m working on it.

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33 Eva July 3, 2012 at 9:43 AM

you are amazing, thanks

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34 Melissa July 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM

i’m not sure i would be a good fit for the mcdougall programme, as i’ve experienced some mild arthritis from eating white potatoes – though i say this while knowing that the organic new red potatoes don’t give such effects; i really try to make a ‘home run’ for raw during the summer hot months ’cause i know the winter’s coming & i’ll be back to the odd potato then. its a challenge to withstand a heat wave w/out knowing how to eat raw foods & find healthy alternatives. In a heat wave in toronto by the time the end of a day comes & you’ve been in the heat over 2 hrs you can see people slipping into severe brain fog if they don’t know how to eat local and fresh. that’s when grilled veggies are great – but people who consume huge quantities of beer, soda & beef meals – well i don’t know how you could function!! it seems like a one way track to heart disease. Each person’s metabolism is different – but i try to teach my kids healthy eating in the summer & this means raw salads with seasonal wild greens & herbs; fresh corn; carbs i do in abundance with lots of seasonal veggies, & fresh herbs, again. Basil helps you to BREATHE in the heat!! Its true you sometimes realize at 9 pm after a day of heat that you’re suddenly hungry – but considering the next day may not be much better – i’m more likely to grab a few nuts with raisins or pineapple & call it a night!!

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