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Vegan Char Siu 素叉烧

24 Oct

Growing up in Hong Kong was just a gastronomic delight. Of all the foods available there, I probably miss Dim Sum the most. I rarely visit, but when I do, I don’t usually eat my childhood favorite foods because of the meat content. A month ago, I wanted to eat something that reminded me of my younger days and decided to create Vegan Char Siu Bao. First, I made Vegan Char Siu with beans and gluten and then I wrapped it in Chinese bread dough to make Vegan Char Siu Bao. I have made it a couple of times since then and have loved each bite.

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Vegan Char Siu (Makes 1 pound)

This is a flavored Seitan Vegan alternative to the traditional Pork. Place the following ingredients in a food processor with a sharp blade:

  • generous 2/3 c cooked and drained kidney beans
  • 2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs black bean sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pinch white pepper

Process all together, then add:

  • 1/2 c water

Process together. Then, change the blade to a dough blade. Now add:

  • 1 c vital wheat gluten
  • 3 T tapioca starch

Process until the dough combines and keep processing to knead for a minute or two until smooth. Now form into big sausages and wrap in foil. Sometimes I divide it into 4 sausages, but I’ve also made 2 big ones too. Both work.

Steam for 1 hour. If you have an Instant Pot, you can steam it for around 12 minutes. While the Seitan is cooking, make the marinade.

Char Siu Marinade (enough for 1 pound of Seitan)

Mix all together in a bowl:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup or your choice of sweetener
  • 2 Tbs brandy or Chinese rice wine
  • 2 Tbs black bean sauce
  • 4 Tbs Hoisin sauce

When the Seitan is done cooking, unwrap it and allow to cool.  Place the Seitan in the marinade overnight.

The next day, take the Seitan out of the marinade. Reserve the marinade. Roast the Seitan at 450F for 10 minutes on each side. If you want a crispier skin, you can roast for an additional 10 minutes each side.

Slice and serve with the reserved marinade over rice.

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Alternative: you can also use this marinade with 1# cooked and drained kidney beans for a bean version to Char Siu. Simmer all together for a few minutes and serve over rice.

Both the Seitan and the beans can be used in my Vegan Char Siu Bao, but my family much prefers the Seitan because it adds a texture that the beans do not.

Enjoy!

 

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My Family Loves Eating Vegan at Home Again!

19 Aug

Trying to bring up Vegan kids is tough when family and friends are not. My adventurous and curious son loves to try different foods and I allow him to do this outside our home.  I certainly don’t want him to rebel by forcing him to eat ONLY VEGAN foods when we are with loved ones who don’t follow a Whole-Food Plant-Based diet. Likewise, I prefer that he question my diet choice and come to his own conclusion about what is best for him. That said, I want to make sure that our Vegan food at home is as enticing and delicious as other foods he has explored. Ditto for my husband.

Over this past Summer, I made a conscious decision to transition from RAW (I was high RAW for  over seven years!) to COOKED Vegan. My family had grown tired of RAW Vegan a few years ago, which led to their seeking out a more Omnivore diet outside our home. Maybe I had pushed the RAW agenda too far? Nevertheless, I have discovered that my own switch to COOKED food has had positive impacts on my family’s diet.

  1. My passion for cooking in my kitchen has been reignited. Researching what I’m going to cook next is entertaining, exciting and part of my weekly meal planning. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and this is rewarding because my family loves my food again.
  2. My family is asking to eat out LESS.
  3. They are asking to eat DAIRY, EGGS, and MEAT LESS. So, we are back to mostly Vegan meals at home.
  4. Our meals seem more gratifying and satiating in that they are snacking in between meals LESS, which means less processed foods.
  5. They are eating more vegetables now than when they were prepared RAW.
  6. They are even REQUESTING certain VEGAN meals MORE!
  7. By cooking wonderful Vegan foods at home, I am less a food police but more a creator of a Vegan movement in my own home. The conscious action to feed my family healthy whole-food plant-based meals creates educational and gastronomical opportunities for my family.

Some of the foods I recently made for my family are pictured here: vegan hot dogs, balsamic strawberries with aquafaba whipped cream, okonomiyaki, loaded nachos, potato cauliflower curry, chickpea broccoli burrito, lentil meatball sub, sweet potato chickpea tagine, cinnamon sugar doughnut, enchiladas, pan de sal, Chinese green beans, black bean burgers, vegan croissants, vegan creamsicles, aquafaba meringues, freshly picked raspberries.

My Recent Successes

  • My son wanted my Homemade Vegan Hot Dogs on Homemade Whole Wheat Buns with Easy Coleslaw and Baked Fries THREE times in a row! And this was a few days after he took one bite of a mainstream meat hot dog served at a party and didn’t like it. So, this was an amazing response from him.
  • A recent acquired bad habit, he now shuns any vegetables served for dinner and cries, “NOOOOOoooooo” but he happily devoured his full share of my Eat-Your-Beans Bibimbap. YES!
  • After seeing a thali for the first time, my son was excited to eat Potato Cauliflower Curry and exclaimed that this is his fave curry ever!
  • Tonight, I made a Sweet Potato Chickpea Tagine and served it in a traditional tagine. This Moroccan fare was new for my son and he loved it. He finished a huge bowl of tagine with couscous. After dinner, he confided in me that couscous, chickpea and olives together make a perfect combination.
  • Of course, like most kids, my son loves the Vegan treats I make on the weekends. Last week at bedtime, he said, “Mama. I’m so excited for tomorrow!” “Why?” I asked. “I can’t wait to eat the doughnuts tomorrow!” He’s so much like me: we are already planning and looking forward to our next meal.

I love it when these little successes happen because I know my son is learning that Vegan foods can be both healthy and delicious too.

As for my husband, he admitted to me that our meals are much better these days. He also says he’s happy if I’m happy doing all this extra work in the kitchen. I think the biggest plus for him is our grocery bills: they have gone down since I chose to eat cooked food again.

Vegan Eat-Your -Beans Bibimbap

16 Aug

When I eat Korean food, I think of my maternal grandmother who treated our family to Korean food several times each month. She lived for food and feeding her loved ones. I’m a lot like her that way. She has been in a coma-like state for two years now and thinking of her makes me both sad and happy at the same time.

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I’ve been cooking different versions of Bibimbap over the years but recently I’ve been adding Korean flavored beans. My family loves Bibimbap this way. In fact, my son could care less for most of the veggies and fills his plate with the beans instead. I would say that without the beans, this dish would be a little boring.

Eat Your Beans Bibimbap (Serves 4 with some leftovers)

Rice

Cook as usual:

  • 2 c sushi rice or other medium grained rice

Beans

While the rice is cooking, bring the following to boil and reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T your choice of sweetener, I use Sucanat
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 c cooked kidney beans, drained (you can use other beans if you would like)
  • pepper, to taste

Vegetables

I don’t saute my vegetables because we are cutting down on oils in our house. I also don’t salt them as we are minimizing our salt intake too. So, how do I cook these? I put 2 to 4 Tbs water in the bottom of a big non-stick ceramic pan, bring the heat up and sweat (cover the pan) the veggies until they are tender or wilted and the water has evaporated. If there is leftover liquid, simply drain the veggies. Easy. I use the same pot for all of the veggies but cook them one at a time. I just rinse it out in the sink with a little water in between each vegetable or wipe with a paper towel.

If you want to do it the traditional way, please go ahead and sauté the cucumber, carrots and mushrooms in sesame oil and season with salt. Blanch the mung bean sprouts and cucumber/zucchini and season them to taste.

  • 8 oz mung bean sprouts
  • 1 English cucumber or zuchinni, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 7 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I add tamari or soy sauce to taste after they are cooked)

Bibimbap Sauce

Mix together:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T your choice of sweetener, I use Sucanat
  • 4 T Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

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Now to Serve

Place the rice in the middle of the plate. Now place the beans, vegetables and sauce around the rice.

Garnishes

  • sesame seeds, optional
  • kelp, optional

Enjoy!

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And tomorrow, you can make fried rice with all the leftovers too. If there is anymore.

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This Vegan Eat-Your-Beans Bibimbap is a gratifying Vegan powerhouse that definitely hits the spot.

A Super Easy Vegan Meringue and Cashew Cream Deconstructed Sans Rival Cake

15 Aug

My parents friends would gift us Silvanas and Sans Rival on special occasions. I would look forward to eating either one of them as soon as I could. These extravagant Filipino treats just melt in your mouth and leave you wanting more. Both made from meringue, buttercream and cashews, Silvanas is a frozen cookie while Sans Rival a frozen cake.

After a day of baking and tasting Aquafaba Meringues, I knew I had to try making a Vegan Version of Silvanas or Sans Rival. I decided on something in between: a dessert bigger than a cookie and smaller than a full-sized cake. I also wanted a dessert that would be more meringue and less of the loaded fats.

How about a deconstructed cake? Layers of Vegan Meringue, Cashew Buttercream and Cashews! Perfect.

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Vegan Aquafaba Meringue

This is the exact recipe from my Aquafaba Whipped Cream.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 c cooking liquid of chickpeas
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Whisk in a mixer for 10 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Like the photo below.

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To make cakes: Draw 4 circles around 6 inches or 16 cm in diameter using a bowl or plate on parchment paper. Turn the paper around so that the pencil/ink drawings face the baking sheet. Spoon or pipe the Aquafaba Cream into round cakes on the parchment paper using the outline of circles as your guide. You want them to be around half an inch thick.

Leftover Whipped Cream? No Problem.

You will have some cream left over. You can either save the cream to serve with the cake later on or make small meringue cookies.

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To make cookies: spoon or pipe the cream into small macaroon shaped cookies on a Silpat mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Baking the Meringues

Place the the baking sheets in a preheated oven at 200F. The small cookies bake for 2 hours. Take the cookies out at this time. The bigger cakes bake for 2 1/2 hours, turning the baking sheet around halftime. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue cakes in the oven until it thoroughly dries out (if needed). Carefully peel off the meringues from the parchment paper gently.

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Cashew Buttercream

Soak for a couple of hours:

  • 1 c raw cashews

Drain and rinse cashews. Place in high speed blender with:

  • 1/4 t sea salt, optional
  • 2 T your choice of liquid sweetener, like coconut nectar, maple or agave syrups
  • 1/4 c your choice of liquid, like water, orange juice or even coffee

Blend well to create a vegan buttercream.

Cashews

Place in a food processor and process so that there are both bigger and smaller (almost ground) chunks of nuts:

  • 1/2 c cashews, toasted or raw

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A Super Easy Vegan Meringue and Cashew Cream Deconstructed Sans Rival Cake (Serves 8)

Place the first meringue layer on a plate, top with a thin layer of cashew buttercream and sprinkle generously with chopped cashews. Place another meringue layer on top and repeat layers of thin cashew buttercream and sprinkles of cashews. Repeat with the other two layers of meringues. Freeze immediately. Serve this cold and straight out of the freezer, otherwise the meringue will become soggy. If you have leftover whipped cream, you can serve the cakes with some too.

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My son took one look at the cake and exclaimed: “Couldn’t you have made it with something else other than cashews? I would have loved to eat it.”

Oops, sorry. (He’s allergic to cashews.) I could have made it with hazelnuts or almonds I guess, but it is traditionally made with cashews.

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My husband and I already ate half the cake. It is a luscious mix of cooked and raw deliciousness.

I love my kitchen and I have missed cooking in it. My blog had been quiet for almost 3 years, but changing from RAW to COOKED Vegan has reignited my passion for food. Thank YOU for keeping in touch with me through the silence and stopping by again to enjoy the food on my table.

Review: Thug Kitchen Eat Like You Give a F*ck The Official Cookbook

5 Aug

“I give this book FIVE STARS!” exclaims my fourth grader.

Just GREAT.


The conservative parent in me wanted to take this THUG KITCHEN: eat like you give a f*ck The Official Cookbook full of curse words away from my son, but the Vegan in me was proud that this was the first ever cookbook he just wanted to read from cover to cover on his own volition. I am not sure if I felt like it was a bad (I shouldn’t have left that book lying around) or proud (vegan ed!) parent moment. Probably both.

As I walked by once or twice, ok maybe five times, my son would point out the paraphernalia in the photos and exclaim, “Mama! I want to shop there! I want that bag!” Or we would laugh as he read a passage or two. At some point, I just joined him as he showed me his favourite parts of the book.

The THUG KITCHEN Cookbook is indeed f*cking hilarious. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest getting your hands on one just for entertainment purposes. Or check out their website for Vegan inspiration.

How about their recipes? I love reading them. They are funny. I also love how the given ingredients are flexible with a lot of notes too on how to substitute if you are out of them.


I’ve tried one so far and it was a hit at our house: Roasted Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos. Easy and satisfyingly delicious. 


The Burrito recipe simply required roasting this beautiful mix of onions, garlic, red peppers, broccoli, and chickpeas with spices, then wrapping them in tortillas with your choice of additions. We added avocado, salsa and rice. My husband finished off three big ones, my son finished off one, and I enjoyed every single bite of mine plus licked the leftovers off my fingers.

My son asked me, “So Mama, can we try one of their desserts next?”

Absolutely! 

Instant Pot Vegan Monggo Guisado or Mung Bean Stew

31 Jul

My mother brought me to an orphanage in the Philippines when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I wanted to donate my old clothes and toys to children who were in need. It just so happened that we arrived around lunch time. Although the kids were excited to see me, their eyes sparkled even more at the sight of their food. This particular orphanage was for handicap children and I saw how some ate with their feet or directly with their mouths to the plates. It didn’t matter what their handicap was, they ate heartily and happily.

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“What are they eating?” I asked my mother, “It looks so masarap (delicious)!”

“Monggo Guisado. It is delicious. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot for the orphanage to give the children a nutritious meal.” she replied.

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That night, I asked for Monggo Guisado for dinner and remembered the children at the orphanage as I relished each spoonful. I had thought that I would make a big difference in their lives as a deliverer of special, albeit second hand, gifts. Instead, it was I who came away with a lesson in the joy of the simple things in life.

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Everytime I eat Monggo Guisado, I think of that day at the orphanage, the happiness each bite brought to the children, and the nutritious meal I have in memory of them. It is a simple meal that comforts my body and mind.

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Instant Pot Monggo Guisado or Mung Bean Stew

Saute in an Instant Pot:

  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped

Turn off saute and add into the Instant Pot:

  • 1 1/2 c whole green mung beans, not soaked but rinsed
  • 3 c water

Cover lid and set for Bean for 15 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally when done. Take off lid, press saute and add in:

  • 4 big handfuls of chopped greens (I had kale)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs Bragg’s Amino or low-sodium soy sauce

Stir for a few minutes until greens are cooked well. Turn off Instant Pot. Serve with rice, lime wedges and more Bragg’s Amino.

 

Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Pan de Sal

28 Jul

When I lived in the Philippines, Pan de Sal was almost always in a bread basket at our family’s breakfast table accompanied by butter, local jams and cheeses, condensed milk or Dulce de Leche. Unlike what its Spanish name suggests, it is actually more a Pan “Dulce” than Pan “Salado.” Its crust is thin and slightly crispy while the inside is light and fluffy. I especially loved slathering on my Lola’s homemade mango jam or eating it with quesong puti or dunking it in hot chocolate.

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The Experiment

I was searching for a Pan de Sal recipe for the bread machine, but did not find one. I also wanted to bake a Vegan Whole Grain Bread with a lower fat and sugar content. After an internet search, I found Russian Filipino Kitchen. The comments on her recipe were numerous and positive. Although her recipe was not for the bread machine and used only white flour, it had everything else that I was looking for: vegan, lower fat and sugar content. It was easily adaptable and I went to work, or rather my bread machine, went to work. As you see below: success!

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Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Pan de Sal (Makes 20 rolls)

Adapted from Russian Filipino Kitchen

Place ingredients in order into your bread machine:

  • 2 Tbs vegan butter or olive oil or your choice of oil
  • 1 c your choice of milk or water
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 c sucanat or unrefined sugar
  • 1 1/2 c bread flour
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)

Set for dough setting. When the dough setting is done, around 1 hour and 50 minutes, take the dough out and roll into a long log. Slice into twenty 1″ pieces. Roll in:

  • whole wheat flour (this is a much healthier option than the traditional bread crumbs and does not sacrifice taste or texture)

Coat well. Place on a prepared baking sheet (with a silpat mat or parchment paper) around an inch apart.

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Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 10 minutes on the center rack. Serve warm.

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This Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Pan de Sal, while made up of healthier ingredients, is still thin and slightly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.

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The best part: this recipe only takes a few minutes of your active time and the aroma in your kitchen will transport you to a Philippine bakery.

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I couldn’t resist eating one straight from the oven. I ate half of it with vegan butter and half of it with homemade vegan Nutella. No photo of the latter, unfortunately, because it was gone in a second.

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Enjoy!

 

Vegan Modan-Yaki: Yakisoba topped with Veggie Filled Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancakes)

27 Jul

I remember walking in Tokyo with my parents when I was little and smelling something amazing. It came from a street vendor cooking something that looked like a pancake but smelled savoury. I knew I had to have some. I patiently waited my turn, which seemed like hours, but it was all worthwhile. As I held my treasured okonomiyaki, I took a big bite. Eyes closed. Umami.

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Tonight, I wanted to experiment with making vegan “omelettes” with chickpea flour. I didn’t want just any omelette. I wanted okonomiyaki. I decided to serve it with yakisoba. That seems like a nutritious full vegan meal to me: noodles, beans and plenty of veggies to go along with it.

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So, here is my version of Modan-Yaki (モダン焼き). Hope you like it.

Easy Vegan Yakisoba (4 servings)

Cook according to package directions, drain and rinse in cold water:

  • a package of yakisoba noodles (I only had buckwheat ramen noodles, but it worked just fine so go ahead and substitute)

While it cooks, saute in 1/2 c water:

  • 1 onion, sliced

When softened, add:

  • 8 oz coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage

Cook until softened. Add the noodles and tonkatsu sauce to taste. You probably will use around half of the sauce below. Mix well. When heated through, take off heat.

Vegan Tonkatsu Sauce (just the right amount for both the yakisoba and okonomiyaki)

Mix together:

  • 3 T sucanat
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 3/4 c soy sauce (we use low sodium)

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Veggie Filled Okonomiyaki (Makes 8)

Mix together in a bowl:

  • 2 c chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional)

Then add:

  • 2 c water

Whisk together well. Add in:

  • 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c green onions, sliced
  • 1 potato, white or sweet potato or yam, grated
  • 1 – 2 large romaine lettuce heads, shredded (my family will happily eat lettuce and since I already cooked cabbage in the yakisoba, I thought it better not to cook it again here)

 

Mix well. If there is too much liquid, you can add in more shredded or grated vegetables. Now, heat a non-stick pan and spray on some oil. With your hands, form a ball with the batter and place gently on the pan to cook. I managed to squeeze 4 pancakes in my pan. Cook on medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until crispy. Turn, pat down gently and cook another 5 – 10 minutes. When both sides are crispy, turn once again, cover the pan with the lid and steam cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes.

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Vegan Modan-Yaki: Yakisoba topped with Veggie Filled Okonomiyaki

By now you’ve got both your noodles and your pancakes. It’s time to serve!

Place yakisoba on a plate and top with one okonomiyaki.

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Now drizzle sauces and garnish with the following toppings:

  • tonkatsu sauce (from above)
  • vegan mayonnaise
  • nori flakes or other seaweed
  • green onions, sliced

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I love chickpea flour!

Easy Baked Vegan Potato Tonkatsu

20 Jul

After 7 years of high raw veganism, I am now just exploring cooked veganism again and having a blast. This was last night’s dinner for the family:

Potato Tonkatsu, Spinach Gomaae, Tomatoes over Vegan Ramen with Homemade Broth.

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Cooking food requires much more time than preparing raw meals, but the family seems to really enjoy cooked food much more these days and I find the time spent in the kitchen very rewarding.

For Japanese food, we are really enjoying the recipes from Just One Cookbook. They are easy to adapt to a Vegan diet. I really wanted to create Vegan Tonkatsu Ramen Bowls for my family. I started with Just One Cookbook‘s Ramen recipe using rice milk instead of soy, then her Spinach Gomaae and Tonkatsu Sauce using vegan Worcestershire Sauce and Soy Sauce in place of regular Worcestershire and Oyster Sauces.  I combined all of these with my Baked Vegan Potato Tonkatsu (below) and it was a BIG HIT. My son used to refuse to eat Ramen, but now he asks for it and wants seconds. My husband really enjoys the Tonkatsu on its own just with the sauce too.

Easy Baked Vegan Potato Tonkatsu

Mix together and combine well:

  • 4 cups mashed potato, with skins for nutrients
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Now for the dredging and breading. Arrange 3 bowls with:

  • flour
  • vegan mayo mixed with some water to resemble an egg wash
  • vegan panko crumbs

Form potato patties, coat with flour, dip in vegan mayo mixture and cover with panko crumbs. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400F for 15 minutes until golden brown. This is a versatile dish that you can serve alone with sauce or over rice or with ramen (as above).

The Easiest Vegan Pulled BBQ Sandwich Even Meat Lovers Will Love

12 Jul

Just take a look at this scrumptious looking BBQ sandwich. You won’t believe how easy it is to make nor how delicious. Please read on.

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A few years ago, raw vegan me wouldn’t have thought I would be posting about cooked food, much less something from a can. But never say never. This year, I’ve started adding cooked vegan foods back into my daily diet in a big way.

What I’ve learned during this transition:

  • my body took a while to adjust to different foods: I don’t have sensitivities to certain foods (like wheat) like I once thought. My body just needed time to adjust.
  • I didn’t gain weight. I actually lost weight because my daily raw vegan diet contained too much fats. Although of the good kind, fats are high in calories and are still… fats. I didn’t realise how much of it I was consuming (50% to be exact) until I started using a diet tracking app.
  • I didn’t break out or get sick. I’ve been just fine.
  • I’ve been craving all kinds of crazy foods lately… like this:

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My husband and I really enjoyed this meal last night and today for lunch. In fact, I inhaled my first sandwich and couldn’t get a good photo due to too much yumminess, very sticky fingers, and hunger to finish it off.

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So here’s the easy yummy recipe.

 

The Easiest Vegan Pulled BBQ:

3 ingredients only

Cook in ¼ c water until soft:

2 onions, thinly sliced

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Add and combine together with:

3 cans 14 oz young jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed well (I used the one above)

¾ c your favourite bbq sauce, more at the table

Mash with cooking spoon or use a potato masher to create a pulled meat effect.

Choose 1 of 3 different cooking methods:

Slow Cooker – place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5 hours.

Stove Top – place all ingredients in a pot and heat up. You can cook until heated through or longer so that some parts cook to a crisp.

Bake/Broil – place all ingredients in a cookie sheet and bake/broil. The former heats it up, the latter burns parts of the jackfruit to a crisp to give the ‘meat’ a crunchy.

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The Whole Wheat Burger Buns:

Place the following ingredients in your bread machine and set for dough stage:

1 T flax seed meal mixed with 3 T water

4 ½ T olive oil

3 T sucanat or your choice of sweetener

¾ t sea salt

1 ½ c whole wheat flour

1 ½ c bread flour

1 T yeast

Divide into 9 pieces. Form into round balls and flatten to make the buns. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake buns for about 13 minutes.

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Now to serve:

Serve about 1/3 c cooked jackfruit BBQ in a whole wheat burger buns with slices of avocado and additional bbq sauce, if needed. Serves 4-6 hungry people.

ENJOY!

This Vegan Mama Cooked Lamb

31 Oct

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I chopped a lamb’s leg yesterday morning. I haven’t done that in over 7 years. It was a weird feeling. I had gloves on, washed my hands really well, and even showered, yet the odor of meat still stuck to me for the rest of the day. I roasted the meat for dinner and the smell pervaded the house even more.  I had forgotten how cooked lamb smells. I had forgotten how much cleaning is involved in preparing fresh meat. I had forgotten how the rubbish smells the day after, and worse, the days after that.

Vegans: don’t judge me.

After three years of Vegan food at home, my family has started craving animal products with an intensity I had not seen before.  It was time for me to be sensitive to their wants and needs too. They have asked for meat once a week. They also asked for more Vegetarian meals. It has been a difficult transition for me. I am relearning how to cook with butter, eggs, dairy, and meats. I struggle having to create two separate balanced meals: one for them and one Vegan for me. At certain times, I have broken down and eaten some of their foods because I honestly had no time left in my day to make any for myself.

As I strive to understand my family and how our kitchen is changing, I remember what my friend Ian told me: it is important that I grow together with my family, and not grow apart.

Yes, this is what I choose to do.

An Omni Hubby Goes RAW Vegan for One Week

17 Jun

My Vegan Homeschool buddy, Bonnie, finally succeeded in getting her Omnivore Hubby, Crosby, to go on a Raw Vegan Diet for a week. Together, they lost almost 10 pounds. Bonnie discovered more energy and Crosby discovered he could actually enjoy Raw Vegan foods.

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Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

Q: Why did you and hubby decide to go raw? How did you convince your hubby to do it with you?  

B – I am Vegan. I want to drop a few pounds and thought I would with a raw diet. I also think it is the most healthy way to eat.

C- Just to see if it would make me feel better. I have ulcerative colitis and wondered if a raw diet would improve my condition.

 

Q: For how long did you eat just raw foods?

B- 100% for 7 days. Now probably 90%

C- 100% for 6 days. Now 10%

 

Q: How did you feel?  

B – I feel better after having lost a few pounds. I always have more energy when I am on a raw diet. I don’t get that afternoon slump and sleep better at night.

C – I was tired the first 4 days, then I felt the way I normally feel.

 

Q: What was the best day?

B – I didn’t really have a best day.

C – The best day was when I no longer felt hungry. Probably day 3.

 

Q: What was the worst day?

B – I didn’t have a worst day.

C – Day 2. I was hungry and tired.

 

Q: What did you crave that was raw during the whole process?

B – I really enjoyed bananas and dates.

C – Avocados and nuts.

 

Q: What did you crave that was not raw during the whole process?

B – I didn’t have any cravings.

C – Meat.

 

Q: What was the best meal? Worst?

B – Collard rolls with sunflower seed pate were great. A beet salad that I made with cumin was not so good.

C – Avocado, tomato and basil plate with Italian dressing. I liked them all.

 

Q: Any side effects of this raw week?

B – I lost 4 lbs and had more energy.

C – I lost 5 lbs.

 

Q: Would you do it again?

B – I would like to eat that way all the time. Its is just hard to find time to prepare both kinds of food (cooked and raw) every day.

C – Probably not 100% raw, but maybe more raw dishes during the week.

 

Q: What was the first thing you ate after the whole week?

B – Some stir fried vegies and rice.

C – A Chick-Fil-A sandwich. A real hot-dog the next day.

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Q: What was the hardest part of the process?

B – Making a lot of different dished to keep Crosby from getting tired of the food.

C – I did not feel satiated. I never felt satisfied even if I wasn’t hungry.

 

Q: What was the most surprising part of the process?

B – I was surprised that I had so much energy and that I was not hungry.

C – I wasn’t hungry.

 

Q: How are you changed?

B – I think it will be easier to add more raw meals into our weeknow that Crosby has tried to eat this way.

C – I am more open to eating raw.

 

Q: What was the nastiest thing someone had said about your week?

B – Not really nasty, but it annoys me when people try to tell me I’m not getting enough protein.

C – No one was nasty, but I did get some razzing about not eating meat.

 

Q: How has this experience changed your relationship with food, your family, or everyday diet?

B – It made me realize that I enjoy eating simple salads and fruit more than more complicated dishes.

C – There are some really tasty raw dishes that are fun to eat. My brother encouraged me to change my diet if I thought there were benefits to my health. I appreciated his concern for my health.

 

Both Bonnie and Crosby’s efforts are inspiring: Bonnie, for preparing amazing Raw Vegan dishes for a whole week, and Crosby, who was open to eating RAW for a week. Kudos to both of them!

 

Vegan Son’s High Cholesterol After Switching to Omnivore Diet

30 May

The Art of Proper Eating

A few months ago after an allergy test cleared him for some animal proteins, my Vegan 7 year old son wanted to eat beef jerky, cheese and eggs, and drink goat’s milk. Although as a Vegan, I would naturally like my son to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet, I allowed him to decide for himself. Besides, he would still be eating a whole lot of vegetables and fruits in my kitchen.

My son relished the flavors of foods he had not tasted in years. He drank raw goat’s milk everyday, ate eggs once or twice a week, and ate a few strips of beef jerky on the weekend. Still pretty healthy. Not bad, right?

Fruits on the Counter

Well… recently his Pediatric Well Visit showed that his cholesterol was just too high. The blood tests were re-done after a few days on a Vegetarian diet and results were a bit better. The overall cholesterol decreased from 290’s to 250’s, but his LDL cholesterol levels were at 188mg/dL. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,  “A total cholesterol level greater than 200 mg/dL and LDL-C greater than 130 mg/dL represent values above the 95th percentile for children and are designated as high.” Drug therapy is recommended when LDL cholesterol levels are at 190 mg/dL or higher.

How could this be? My son’s slim, we eat more fruit and vegetables than most, and he is an athlete. Unless, of course, his cholesterol problem is hereditary.

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The doctor suggested our son return to a Vegan Diet for 6 months. We can then figure out his base cholesterol levels, and go from there.

Here’s hoping that Vegan Food does its magic. I don’t want my young son on medication!

Easy Roasted Asian Sweet Potatoes

2 Mar

As a side dish or as a snack, this is comfort food for the whole family.

Easy Roasted Asian Sweet Potato

Ingredients

2 large Asian Sweet Potatoes, chopped into bite size chunks (we love to keep the skin on for extra crunch and nutrients)*

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

unrefined olive oil or coconut oil, as needed

1 tablespoon Sucanat, or your choice of sweetener

Method

Easy Roasted Asian Sweet Potato

  1. Heat the oven to 400F.
  2. Mix the sweet potato chunks, cinnamon, sea salt and oil in a pan.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with Sucanat.
  5. Mix well and serve.

*Note: Make sure to choose the Asian Sweet Potato that is reddish purple on the outside and beige on the inside. When roasted, the edges of the Asian Sweet Potato become deliciously crunchy whereas the regular American Sweet Potato tends to soften dramatically in this recipe.

The Beans That Blew My Cares Away

27 Mar

My family’s consumption of raw vegan foods has decreased tremendously. We had raw fruit pudding for breakfast today though and the boys licked the Vitamix clean. Hubby enjoyed his raw Chia Lime drink too. I also made an Asian salad, which unfortunately is still sitting in the fridge deteriorating as I write. My family started consuming soy products too, including non-organic processed fake meat once a week. Woo-hoo Bill Gates for supporting fake meat!  For you ‘unprocessed’ die-hards out there, it sounds bad. I know! I’m one of you and just writing it makes me cringe.

Yes, I feel like a Raw Vegan Mama failure sometimes, especially after reading an article that more and more families in England are now going raw and seem successful at it… and even Gwyneth Paltrow‘s kids are dairy, sugar, gluten and soy free (she has a second cookbook to prove it)!  Ok, where can I buy kids like Apple and Moses who don’t complain about being hungry without their fave foods?

In an effort to discover healthier and bulkier cooked vegan foods, I found this Bean Confit recipe on-line the other day and adapted it for my slow-cooker. (Look, if it ain’t raw, I gotta have someone else in charge of cookin’ it if it takes hours.  Is there a devoted Homeschool Mama out there with enough time to spend hours in the kitchen cookin’? Besides The Pioneer Woman…)

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Anyway, the cranberry beans mixed with the rosemary, oregano and garlic made my house smell damn good.  I ate a few bowls of the bean confit for dinner and the crazy amount of extra virgin olive oil gave it a richness and creaminess that comforted me. I dreamed about these barlotti beans that night and the next day while I drove my son to his violin lesson. I think I’ll make another batch tomorrow, with lots of raw veggies for me on the side. It’s  that satisfying especially on a cold Spring day.

Recipe:

27 oz dried cranberry beans (barlotti, as they are known in Italian)

Soak overnight with enough water to cover it by a few inches. Drain and rinse the next day. Place in a slow cooker, add fresh water to cover well and cook on high for 5-6 hours till slightly tender. Drain some of the water, so that the beans peak out of the water. Add the beans back into the slow cooker, top with:

a few sprigs of rosemary

a few sprigs of oregano

a few cloves of garlic

a couple teaspoons of sea salt, try 4 teaspoons (I had no problem adding the salt at this stage)

enough extra virgin olive oil to just cover all the beans.

Cook on low for 2-3 hours. Season to taste. Serve!

The bean confit brought me back down to earth from my Raw Vegan high horse. I got rid of all my hot air and what a relief. I can finally say it is OK to let go of the Raw Vegan Mama Power I had held on to for so long and let my family eat what they want to eat. I now understand that their happiness is truly more important to their well-being than having to eat ‘the right foods’ everyday at every meal.

I also learned:

  1. No more scare tactics. “That’s not healthy for you! Do you know what junk food will do to you? That’s disgusting!”
  2. Satisfy their cravings so they don’t feel so deprived. My son has been asking me for months what Jell-O tastes like. I finally made him some homemade ‘Jell-O’ today from fresh coconut milk and agar-agar. He loved it. He keeps giving me hugs for the foods I’m letting him eat.
  3. I’m a softy. I need to feel… ummm… loved and not resented at the dinner table. “That was yummy! You’re the best Mama in the Kitchen!” instead of “What? Eeewww! This again! This is horrible! Do I have to eat that? Your food isn’t as good as (name of fave restaurant here). I want to eat out…”

Sweet Rice Cakes: Quick, Healthy and Gluten-Free

26 Jan

When I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast, he smiled at me and hugged me tightly, “Cupcakes!”

Really?  Hmmmmpf!  Let’s just say I made an extra effort to be sure he enjoyed his healthy meals today.

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For breakfast, we had our favorite Green Sundae.  It is always a big hit!  Instead of oranges, bananas and avocado, today I substituted pears for oranges.  Delicious. My hubby actually prefers it with pears.

Sweet Rice Cakes

For a snack, I made Palitaw, which I grew up eating for ‘merienda’ (snack time).  It’s quick and easy to make.

1. Boil water.

2. Make a thick batter of Sweet Rice Flour and water. Make sure the batter is thick enough so you are able to form small balls and then flatten them in your hands to resemble pancakes. The batter is not as sticky when your hands are a little damp with cold water.

3. Carefully drop the cakes in boiling water.

4. When the cakes resurface and float, they are done.

5. Carefully lift the cakes out of the water and place on a plate.  Sprinkle with equal parts Sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar) and coconut (I used raw dehydrated coconut, but freshly grated mature coconut is traditionally used). You can also add a little mixture of sesame seeds and salt.

6. Serve.

My son ate two pieces and exclaimed, “Mama! This is the best!”

I guess he didn’t miss his cupcake.

Mama’s Massaman Curry

15 Jan

Massaman Curry

A real curry made from scratch, my Vegan Massaman Curry is family friendly: just enough spice to satisfy parents and just sweet enough to get kids hooked on this creamy dish.

  • Saute in 1/2 cup of water:

1 chopped onion
2 carrots, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder

  • When onion is soft, add in:

all the fresh mature coconut milk squeezed from 2 mature coconuts and 3 cups of water (recipe here)

  • Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook until slightly thickened.  Then add in your choice of vegetables. Make sure there is enough so that the vegetables just peek out of the sauce.  This way, you have a good ratio of veggies to sauce (not too much sauce leftover when the veggies are all gone and just enough sauce to eat with the veggies):

6 medium red potatoes, chopped

1 pint mushrooms, chopped

4 c broccoli florets, chopped

  • Simmer until vegetables are tender around 10 – 15 minutes, then add:

6 tbspns Tamari or Nama Shoyu
5 – 6 tbspns Sucanat, to taste
2 tbspns fresh lime juice

  • Mix well until well blended and sweetener is dissolved.
  • Serve with Rice (we love a mix of short grain brown rice and sweet rice: cook both together with twice the amount of water for 50 minutes) and top with Salted Peanuts (we use Raw Wild Jungle Peanuts, which is available at our health food shop).

Fresh Mature Coconut Milk

15 Jan


Mature Coconut Milk  from Scratch

If you want to cook with coconut milk, you have to use the milk from mature coconuts.  While we love my raw Curry in a Hurry made from young coconuts, the boys have been craving cooked Massaman Curry with potatoes.  So my hubby bought some mature coconuts the other day and opening it became a family affair.

Mature Coconuts

Since I didn’t have an ice pick, hubby used a drill to make 3 holes on top of the coconut to drain the coconut water out.

The Three Holes in a Mature Coconut

We wrapped the coconut in a towel and my son hammered it open.  It helps so that pieces of coconut don’t fly out everywhere.

Hammering Mature Coconut

Make sure you hammer it more at this stage so you have smaller pieces to work with.  Prying out the meat from a big piece of coconut, like below, is tough.

Opened Mature Coconuts

With a knife, separate the coconut meat from the coconut shell.

Meat from Mature Coconut

Peel the brown skin off the meat, as this part is hard and difficult to chew.

Peel Coconut Meat

Place the peeled coconut meat in your high speed blender with water.  We blended meat from 2 mature coconuts with 3 cups of water.

Clean Coconut Meat

It will seem very thick.  Place in a nut bag and squeeze out all the liquid.

Mature coconut blended with water

You will have about 3 1/2 cups of pure mature coconut milk.  Compared to other nut milks, mature coconut milk is as white and creamy as cow’s milk.  I had to stop myself from drinking more than a sip or else we wouldn’t have enough for our curry.

Mature Coconut Milk

 

Click here for more information about different coconuts and their nutritional effects on our health from an Ayurvedic perspective.

Click here for a nutritional comparison between Young and Mature Coconut Water and Meat.

Finding Balance

29 Dec

I haven’t been posting on this blog for a few months because I end this year a little more tentative than I began. In the beginning of Autumn this year, my dear son and hubby decided on “no more nuts”. This was followed by “no more raw smoothies”. Then “no more raw salads”. In other words, NO MORE RAW ANYTHING.

Gah, had I pushed them too far?

So, I started cooking more and more veggies: in soups, with dressing, steamed, boiled, baked, etc. And, I discovered that my family actually have increased their intake of veggies this way. Dead broccoli is the new fave around here and mushroom miso soup. Surprise, surprise – I even lost a few pounds without all the added fats from nuts.

Cooked to death Broccoli.  Boil till the broccoli breaks apart.  Dress with orange juice or balsamic vinegar, sea salt and olive oil.

Cooked to death Broccoli: boil till the broccoli breaks apart, dress with a mixture of orange juice or balsamic vinegar, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. My son loves it!

But I’m still a firm believer in RAW, so I slowly but surely added back some old faves after a month or two. Without complaints, we are all enjoying raw fruit puddings for breakfast again, Japanese and Kale salads for pre-meals and lots of coconut smoothies. We are not quite as raw as I would like, but dare I say I have found a new kind of “balance”?

I don’t know how RAW families do it. How do they function in society? How do they enjoy being with family and friends who don’t eat the way they do? How do their kids relate to other kids in the community? My big guess is that they don’t… not really in the same capacity we do. My second guess is that husband and wife have to agree on diet and nutrition principles to make it work for the family. My third guess is that the parents have to impose and work hard to ingrain these beliefs at home (unless the children have allergies and sickness that inhibit their diets). I cannot imagine regular kids not wanting what other mainstream kids can have – unless they don’t have much of a relationship with other kids, and therefore have no knowledge base of what goes on “on the other side”.

My husband recently bought some Maine root beer, a package of cereal and a carton of soy milk. My son’s hoarding some Vegan candy canes and has a new obsession with gum (it was hard finding one he isn’t allergic to).

Our Xmas Experiment: will Santa prefer the processed candy the restaurant gave you or will he prefer the homemade Vegan cookies we baked?

Our Xmas Experiment: will Santa prefer the processed candy the restaurant gave you or will he prefer the homemade Vegan cookies we baked from scratch? We discovered that Santa prefers homemade cookies to processed candy… and even left a small bit behind.

As a Mama, it is hard to let go of control – especially in the kitchen. But this year, I found more peace and happiness at the dining table by relinquishing more control over my family’s diet. I still buy the groceries, prepare and cook our food. I still educate my family on food matters. But at the end of the day, I let go and allow them the freedom to choose what they want to eat.

A little discouraged one day, I asked my husband and son separately if they wanted to branch out from our Vegan diet, they both said “NO”. Are you sure? “YES!” Both look forward to their fave homemade organic and Vegan cooked foods: Mulligatawny Soup, Shepherd’s Pie, Japanese Buckwheat Noodles, Popcorn and Chocolate Chip Cookies. But I notice they too have their fave raw foods. My son was sick recently and only wanted to eat fruit. He prefers to start each day with bananas and he asks for fresh raw coconut milk almost everyday. He will eat a huge bowl of romaine lettuce. My hubby can drink a quart of green smoothie during a meal and he will keep going back for more salad.

I offer my family healthy food, I empower them with current food knowledge, and I model good eating habits. Then, I let go in peace.

30 Lessons this Raw Vegan Mama Learned from Traveling and Dining Out with Omnivore Loved Ones

4 Mar

In the last 6 months alone, it seems like my family and I have traveled non-stop to be with friends and extended family.  These days, I feel like I am a bit of a pro when traveling with and dining out with loved ones who happen to be non-Raw Omnivores. 

I wish I could tell you we did wonderfully: I ate 100% Raw Vegan Foods and my family kept up their 50% Raw Vegan diet. But we did not.

What we did a lot of instead was, what I call, nutritional compromising. Why?  Well, believe it or not, for harmony’s sake.  We love our friends and family dearly and being together with them means a lot to us.  We didn’t want to alienate anyone… or ourselves.

I cannot say I was very much OK with all the nutritional compromising in the past few months… but I met Perry the other day who made me feel a whole lot better.  He sold me a bottle of E3Live.  I asked him if he was Raw Vegan.  He said he used to be.  “Why?” I asked.  He said, his mother had cancer when he was growing up and foods were designated as BAD or GOOD, ALLOWED or NOT ALLOWED.  So Young Perry rebelled. He would go behind his mother’s back, steal her money and buy the foods that were verboten at their house.  Needless to say, he thought it was a good idea that I allow my son some slack. 

Here is what I learned while traveling with Omnivore loved ones:

Our Travel Food Bag

I always have fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) and salad for everyone. I also always have some cooked Vegan foods for the boys. Hopefully we can recycle the plastic containers.

1. I always pack my family’s meals for road trips and national/international flights. Unfortunately, the food lasts only about 8 hours and after that we have to make do with what we are given or find at the other end of our trip.

Vegan Meals up in the friendly skies: include preservatives, coloring and a bunch of other stuff we wouldn't normally eat. But - this is the best option we have when we run out of food.

2. On planes, we request either the Raw (not always available and this tends to be fruit or cut carrot and celery sticks) or Vegan (although some are cooked with many processed Vegan ingredients) options for flights.

3. Clearly, our family’s highly raw/unprocessed Vegan diet tends to go down the drain pretty much from the get-go.

I love this old photo of my son snuggling with his step-grandmother. In the first 5 minutes after they met, it was clear they had already bonded so wonderfully.

4. We want to spend time and create strong bonds with our extended family and friends while traveling/visiting with them.

5. But, this means mealtimes more often than not emphasize non-raw and non-vegan foods.

6. We tend to eat out at mainstream restaurants a whole lot while traveling with others.

7. We have lengthy and careful discussions with servers about our family’s food preferences and allergies before ordering. It seems to us that waiters, on the whole, are not trained well on matters relating to Veganism or food allergies.  Neither are they made aware of the repercussions of food allergies. Sometimes, the problem may be that they don’t properly convey diner’s requests to chefs in their kitchens.  So, we like to take our time in our communication with them.

8. Raw Vegans are not the best for diners with nut and maple/agave allergies.  After talking very carefully to servers about our son’s allergies, my son has had very bad vomiting spells after eating/drinking something at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Quintessence in NYC.  Needless to say, we are not going back to these 2 places to eat.  I can, however, recommend The Farm in the Philippines, Good Life Café in South Carolina and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

9. We tend to eat what our host provides.  “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do!” Right?  As guests, we are really at the mercy of our host, especially when they want to treat us all the time and/or we are in a foreign country.

10. I have discovered that food allergies are difficult for others to understand.

11. The concept of Raw Vegan foods are even harder for many to grasp.  I have had, many a time, cheese and bread on my “all Raw Vegan” salad or been offered regular hummus with cooked chickpeas.

12. Requests for Gluten- and Vegan-free food is akin to speaking a foreign language.

My son kept asking for the white bread served at most mainstream restaurants. Having said 'no' so many times (due to allergies), I finally ordered some wonderful Rice Bruschetta at a Vegan restaurant we visited towards the end of one of our trips. My son was extremely happy. So was I for having found a half-raw, half-cooked meal for him too!

13. My son will want to eat what others are eating: i.e. the cooked or processed refined foods.

14. A loved one recently baked 6 loaves of maple syrup white wheat bread while we visited her for 2 weeks – even after I asked her to please stop at the first loaf.  The breads just kept appearing though, which my son gladly ate and I tried to stop.  She was thrilled of course to watch my son devour her bread. On the other hand, I was focused on his rashes (c/o maple sugar).

15. This Mama will compromise only to a certain extent.

Using a handheld immersion blender in a plastic tub while traveling to make a lamb's lettuce smoothie for my family

16. If a kitchen and/or appliances are available, I supplement our family’s meals with fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh juices or green smoothies before a meal (that is if we have access to appliances and/or a kitchen).

Someone shared this on Facebook and made me LOL!

17. If a kitchen is available and if possible, we eat ‘in’ as much as we can and I end up a Mama in the Kitchen with no holiday.  But, I can’t complain!  We minimize allergies this way.

18. You cannot simply trust labels.  My son has even reacted to packaged Raw Vegan foods we have purchased while traveling to which, according to ingredients on labels, he isn’t allergic.

19. On every trip these past few months, my son has had some type of allergy, despite our efforts.  He has been very mucus-y on the plane home twice.

20. Raw Vegan food options are not always available when eating with family and friends…or they are harder to come by when traveling or sanitation is an issue in certain countries. When eating at mainstream restaurants or at people’s homes sometimes simply boiled, steamed or stir fried veggies are the best and only options.  In many health food stores in big cities, Raw Vegan Foods usually means a lot of packaged dehydrated foods… exactly the foods we try to avoid.

21. Raw Vegan food does not win over many people.  Some of my loved ones returned home to eat SPAM with white rice after a beautiful lunch at The Farm, Philippines.

22.  I, on the other hand, will have some type of food sensitivity after eating at a Raw Vegan restaurant: headaches, swelling or bloating from an excess of agave syrup, soy products, or nuts.

Juice Bars are worth it! Here in SAF London

23. To minimize allergies or sensitivities, we order simply at Raw Food Restaurants: an abundance of green juices (not smoothies) or simple Salads, and avoid other foods altogether (unless the server/chef can be 100% clear on the ingredients used).

The food was so delicious, I made sure I bought their cookbook as soon as we got home!

Food For Thought in Covent Garden will win over Omnivores anytime for taste and bang for buck! Just be prepared for small spaces and a communal-type feel.

24. Cooked Vegan foods, on the other hand, have been the best way for us to introduce family and friends to the Vegan diet. My mother gave us a cooked Vegan party when we visited her.  My friends thought they would have to lug their families to McDonald’s afterwards – but they admitted to loving the food by my Vegan Chef cousin!  They all had second helpings of the healthy mains and the desserts!  And no trip to McDonald’s afterwards!

I got an "That doesn't look very good at all!" comment for my salad here.

25. Prepare yourself for negative comments from loved ones about your food. Yes, even those who say they understand and would love to be Raw Vegan. I have had an ugly grimace directed at my food with a “I would NOT like to eat that!”, “is that all?”, “how do you get your protein?”, “yuck! how do you eat that!” And all in front of my son too, who takes it all in.

26. People somehow forget about your family’s diet and lifestyle choice, no matter how close they are to you.  I have had a platter of Steak placed under our noses blatantly at dinner with a smile and a “here, you will love this”; baked pastry treats full of syrup, butter and refined flour placed in front of my son while he, as most kids will, drools; salmon offered to us which they know was my son’s favourite fish before our kitchen turned Vegan.

27. The good outweigh the bad.  What is important is that we are surrounded by people we love and who love us back.

28. By the end of the trip, I am always itching to return to my own kitchen, I can’t wait to shop at my own local health food store and I can’t wait to eat healthier food.

29. After returning home, it is always just a little harder to get my son to eat as healthily as he used to.  And I am OK with this too because after traveling for the past 6 months, I know in a day or two, he’ll be asking for his fave smoothie and his fave kale salad!

30. And at the end of the day, I love what traveling does for our family.

Homemade Half-Raw, Half-Cooked “Happy Meals”

28 Jan

Our Homemade Happy Meal

We are part of a homeschool coop that meets once a week for a few hours, lunch included. There is one other Vegan family and another highly raw one too. It’s not like my son doesn’t have Vegan company in the lunchroom, but there are a lot of other eye-catching foods in the lunchroom too.

My son’s lunchbox doesn’t have cartoon characters on it. It doesn’t come out of a white paper bag that smells like something fried. Instead, it comes in a reusable container from my kitchen with clean food prepared and packed with love. The parents love it, but I have a feeling the kids don’t. I have a feeling it’s not so cool. My son has looked unhappily at it once or twice in the lunchroom and his grimace told me exactly what he thought of his lunch. “Eeeeewwww… is that all you have?” his face asked as he looked across the table with longing at the Goldfish crackers and a packaged fruit juice bottle with a lid shaped as a cartoon character. “Yup! That’s all we have!” I say, making a mental note to fix something more enticing next time.

So, what do I pack these days? The photo above shows our typical homemade half-raw, half-cooked “Happy Meal” for our homeschool coop days. It includes: my son’s fave Green Smoothie (hidden in a thermos so we don’t invite any comments – good or bad), fruit, raw green salad (in the photo, a radish, turnip, tomato and parsley salad*), baked veggies (in the photo, cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, sweet potatoes), turmeric spiced brown basmati rice and gluten-free muffins.

Although my son still looks at what his friends are eating, it seems to me there is less longing as he easily sips his fave smoothie, eats his baked sweet potato fries without question, asks for more oranges and carefully peels off his gluten-free muffin from the muffin cup. He looks around to see if anyone is watching. He has a treat today. I sigh. I am a relieved Mama. He is content with his homemade “Happy Meal”.

*Radish, Turnip, Tomato and Parsley Salad

A salad from what is left in the fridge can sometimes be one of the most surprisingly satisfying.  I don’t usually like turnips or radishes. I find them too spicy, but mixed with parsley and the right dressing… this makes the perfect winter salad… yum!

Mix together in a bowl:

a bunch of parsley, chopped

a bunch of turnips, peeled and chopped

a bunch of radish, chopped

a bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved

Toss with a vinaigrette (most of the time we prefer a 1:4 vinegar to oil ratio):

sea salt, to taste

oregano, to taste

lemon juice or red wine vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

A Raw Mama’s Reality Check: We Need Supplements?

13 Dec

Our allergic reaction or sensitivities to supplements: my rough hands and my son's rashes. How do we supplement our diet properly if we react to the exact nutrients that we need?

Every year, around my birthday, I take my family to our naturopath to have an annual check up. What did we find this year? Not exactly the news I wanted to share with you.  I wish I could say that our families have all the nutrients they need in a Raw Vegan Diet, but this simply is not true.  I’m sharing what my family found out about our food deficiencies with you, because I think it is important for Vegan Mamas to know that we need to supplement our family’s diets.

The Good:

We are all healthier than last year. This was great news considering my kitchen turned fully Vegan this year and my husband and son now only eat Vegan at home ( and at least 50% of their diet still remains raw).

The Bad:

We all have difficulty in handling sugar.  And, we still need more B vitamins, iron, zinc, iodine and protein in our diet.

A Raw Mama’s Reality Check

1. Just because it’s raw doesn’t mean we can over-indulge. Too much of a good thing…

This means decreasing our fruit (in breakfast puddings, smoothies) and raw sweetener intake (honey, maple syrup, dates in our fave raw oatmeal).

A surprising and wonderful discovery: My son sipped his cup of Pooh Bear Smoothie clean without even noticing that the 2 additional dates were missing!

2. B Vitamins is a must!

Nutritional Yeast is back on our table.  We prefer the fortified Red Star brand.  I don’t know why but we react to Bragg’s.  I also have Hawaiian Spirulina sometimes with breakfast.  I’m on a mission to look for a supplement too that agrees with us – especially after reading that nutritional yeast should NOT be our only source of Vegan B12!

3. Trying to find Supplements

Our iron, zinc and iodine levels are low and have hardly improved since last year (and we were consciously eating foods high in these)… so we really need to supplement this time.  My big problem is finding the supplements that actually agree with us! We’ve been trying a few supplements and I have been suffering with rough hands and my son with eczema on his.

4. Protein

As for protein, I decided it would be best for me to add cooked legumes to my diet and cook more for my family.  Maybe this will help with our iron levels too!

Mama’s Supplement Information and Support from Gabriel Cousens

Mama’s Brainstorming

Oooh, I just looked at all the Vitamin Code products from Vitacost.  They’re very expensive and I don’t know if my family might be sensitive or react to them. But, they’re RAW.  I guess it’s the best bet we have in supplementing right now.

On Being A Mama and The Power of Veggie Soup

11 Dec

As you have probably noticed, I’ve been on a writing break for over a month.  I have no better and simpler excuse than this: I have been focusing on being a Mama.  My son has needed me more these days and I have needed to be with him.

Homeschooling

We started Kindergarten homeschooling in the Fall.  I didn’t know homeschooling would be as much fun as it is and I didn’t know it would be so intense.  My son is truly engaged and I am relieved that my research on curriculum is paying off!  Every morning goes by so fast these days and the time shared with my son are too precious for me to miss or rush through.

Thought I’d share these drawings with you.

An Activity of What makes you: HAPPY (being with Mama and Daddy), SAD (being alone), SCARED (meeting a monster), SURPRISED (meeting a monster that sings "You ain't nothing but a hound dog!)"

My son intended to write "Paddington Bear, 1 Main Street"... but this is what he wrote instead.

Although my husband and I discuss the education aspect of homeschooling a lot, the food in schools is what really frightens me.  The conventional foods, the processed foods, the allergens abound, the unhealthy culture at school cafeterias.

Allergies

My family went on a few weeks holiday in the Fall to visit family.  That’s when I realized that this Mama In The Kitchen cannot really be on holiday.  My son has had an allergy for the past 2 months because I was not able to prepare his food diligently for 3 weeks.  I have been on a mission to clear his body of this powerful allergy.  We are drinking lots of raw green smoothies, eating raw salads and cooked veggie soups.

The Power of Cooked Veggie Soups

From a Mama’s point of view, there is no way I can compare the amount of cooked vegetables in soups my son will willingly eat versus raw ones without added oils or fruit sugars.  Cooked veggie soups win any day.  This is why I love making my son soups – but I make sure they are from foods that are as unprocessed as possible.  When my son doesn’t feel well, there is nothing more soothing to him than warm soup on a cold day (besides lots of freshly squeezed orange juice too).

Vegan Pottage with Whole Herbs

I vegan-ized a recipe from my son’s history book, which was taken from a 17th century English Housewife cookbook!

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour or more.

1/2 – 1 head of chopped cauliflower

1 chopped large sweet onion

1 1/2 c oat groats

2 big handfuls of chopped endive

2 big handfuls of chopped lettuce

2 big handful of chopped spinach

8 cups of water

Add apple cider vinegar (1 tbspn) and  sea salt (2 – 3 tsp), to taste.

I don’t know what’s more satisfying: a healthy history cooking project for homeschool or watching my son finish a wonderful amount of veggies for lunch.

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 3

30 Oct

When we go out to eat and/or travel and/or eat at other people’s houses, my boys eat what they want.  But they are still happy to maintain a Vegan kitchen here at home.  Here is our Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 3.  Enjoy!

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Apple Almond Yoghurt

Raw Dishes: Asian Marinated Veggies, Carrot Salad, Kale Salad, your choice of other  Salads, half raw and half cooked Curry below under Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes, Spinach Dip (add a handful or two of baby spinach leaves to Guacamole), Flax Crackers

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Lentil Burgers, Tofu Eggs, Banana Bread from How it all Vegan!, Mushroom, Kale and Potatoes from Forks Over Knives, Puy Lentils with Beets without the Feta, Hash Browns from Meatless Meals for Working People, Veggie Stew with Dumplings from Vegan Diner

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Buckwheat Noodles: cook 1 # buckwheat noodles and serve with sauce (mix together 1 1/2 cup veggie broth, 5 tbspn Nama Shoyu (or soy sauce), 4 tbspn Sucanat (or your choice of sweetener), 1 tbspn mirin) and top with scallion and ginger.

Mushroom Chips: slice 2 # mushrooms, toss with olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 tsp sea salt, roast at 400-450F for about 15 – 20 minutes or until crispy.

Potato Cauliflower Curry: this is mostly RAW!  Simply top raw cauliflower bites and boiled (in salted water) chopped potatoes with my Curry in a Hurry sauce.  You can add mung sprouts if you wish.

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 2

17 Oct

“Meat and milk really matter. 

Reduced consumption could

decrease the future emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture

to levels below those of 1995.” 

~ Alexander Popp of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ~

 

Hubby and Son are still on the Vegan Wagon!  Here is our Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 2.  You will notice that breakfast in our house is typically the same as last week’s menu.  My boys love certain Raw Vegan Meals for Breakfast and although I have tried to experiment and veer away from Raw Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding and Granola, these are their faves.  Please try out others to see what your family might like too.

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices, limeade

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Granola

Raw Dishes: Collard Green Noodle Salad, Marinated Mushrooms, Curried Vegetables, Kale Salad, B12 Salad, your choice of other  Salads

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Chinese Stir-Fry from The Happy Herbivore, Paella from Whole Foods Recipes (use whole tomatoes instead if you prefer and by the way, I love their APP. Their Vegan Soups are so much better than Epicurious Vegan Soups!), Maple Baked Beans (I use maple syrup instead of molasses – although molasses is a good source of iron if you want to use that instead – and I’m trying to wean my boys from canned tomato sauce by substituting with raw applesauce),  Shepherd’s Pie and Refried Beans from How it all Vegan!, Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan Diner (these are the best we’ve tasted and one of the healthiest! I substitute my home milled spelt flour for all purpose flour, Sucanat from brown sugar, coconut oil for canola, water for milk, whole flax meal for golden… still YUM!), 5 minute Vegan Pancakes from the wonderful web (just substitute Sucanat for sugar, coconut oil for vegetable and raw almond milk for soymilk), homemade Wheat Tortillas recipe from Anson Mills (although I use my own home milled flour).

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Tempeh Joes: Our most fast food and processed dish ever… I’m scared to write this on here… but I wanted to let you know that I’m not the perfect Mama in the Kitchen sometimes too… and to let you know that sometimes the boys just want certain foods now and this is better than going to some fast food joint to get their ‘fix’.  No other substitute for the meat in this works for them… and no other ‘sauce’ is faster than organic ketchup.  Steam 2 packages of Wild Rice Tempeh (if anyone has a better non-soy substitute, please let me know!) for 10-15 minutes.  Grate to resemble meat.  Saute 1 diced onion in olive oil, add grated tempeh, stir-fry for a few minutes and then add ketchup to coat.  Add Nama Shoyu or Bragg’s Amino if desired.  Serve with loads of raw veggies on the side (corn, avocado and tomatoes work well!).

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 1

10 Oct

  “Tell me and I’ll forget;

show me and I may remember;

involve me and I’ll understand.”

~ Chinese proverb ~

After watching Forks Over Knives together, discovering that our healthy non-smoker loved one had Cancer in the lungs and attending an equally entertaining and persuasive Vegan-centric Nutrition lecture by Dr. Greger (his videos are fantastic!) together at the D.C. VegFest, my husband for the past month has requested that we eat only Vegan meals. This is a HUGE step for him, as he is an Omnivore.  While my boys continue to eat 50% Raw Vegan foods, now for the past month their cooked foods have been ALL Vegan as well.

A few nights ago, it seemed to me that my husband was losing his zeal for all the Vegan food he has been consuming and I asked him, “Are you missing meat?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Do you want me to cook some meat for you?” I offered.

“No. Can you bake some Chocolate Chips Cookies though?”

It is clear to me that my husband is going through some type of withdrawal at this point on his Vegan journey.  So for the past month, this Raw Vegan Mama has been cooking up a Vegan storm… selfishly because I don’t want my Omnivore Hubby to lose sight of the Vegan light!  I guess the events of the past month have affected him more than he lets on… as Robert Kegan states so well:

 

“What the eye sees better the heart feels more deeply.

We not only increase the likelihood of our being moved;

we also run the risk that being moved entails.

Seeing increases our vulnerability to being recruited to the welfare of another.”

~ Robert Kegan, The Evolving Self ~

I like to think my efforts in the kitchen are working because my husband even agreed to embark on a 1 month trial Vegan menu for our family this month (yes, yet another month of Vegan food for Omnivore Hubby and Son!).

For many out there who have wanted Sample Menus and for Elizabeth who just commented on Peace @ the Healthy Table: What Does It Take?, here’s the first week’s menu for you:

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 1

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices, flavored water

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Granola

Raw Dishes: Kale Salad, your choice of  Salads, Guacamole and other sides for Burger

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Shepherd’s Pie and Mulligatawny Soup is from  How it all Vegan!, Potpie from Meatless Meals for Working People, Black Beans and Rice from Forks Over Knives (NOTE: I use coconut oil for vegetable oil, my own milled flour and other unprocessed ingredients to substitute for some ingredients in these books)

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Portabello Burger: simply marinate mushrooms in a Balsamic Vinaigrette with basil for 10 minutes and roast/grill on both sides for 5 minutes

Vegan Alfredo: heat 4 tbspns coconut oil on medium heat, add 3 – 4 tbspns spelt or whole wheat flour, stir for a minutes, add ‘milk’ (blend 2 cups water, 3 tbspns raw almond butter, 4 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp sea salt and 2 pinches nutmeg together) and cook until thickens.  Add to pasta.  Top with Nutritional Yeast, if desired.

Waffles: Mix in a bowl 4 cups spelt/wheat flour, 2 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp baking soda. Mix in another bowl or blender 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup flax meal, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup raw almond butter, 1/2 cup melted coconut oil and 3 1/2 cups water.  Mix dry into wet ingredients and cook with waffle maker.

Apple Crumble (adapted from my mother-in-law’s friends recipe): Place 10 apples, peeled and sliced, in a slightly greased dish.  Top with juice of 1 orange and cinnamon.  In another bowl, mix together 150 grams coconut oil, 1 cup Sucanat, 1 cup of your choice of flour (1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup wheat germ or 1 cup spelt).  Place this mixture on top of apples and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries: Slice them, coat with some olive oil, salt and/or Sucanat and cinnamon and bake them!

A 4 Year Old Omnivore Loves Raw Vegan Foods

17 Aug

Lia requested Raw Pink Smoothie for her Fourth Birthday

My 4 year old niece Lia is allowed to eat everything (except dairy to which she is allergic), but what does she request for her birthday party?  RAW VEGAN FOOD!

Really? I was stunned because my own son requests baked cupcakes!

Lia is the same little girl who, when her preschool teacher rewarded her with candy, told her Mama they tasted ‘yucky’ and asked if her teacher could reward her with Raw Green Smoothies instead.  She also chows down Raw Kale Salad like a veteran Raw Foodie!

Yummy Kale Salad for Dinner!

Chomping away!

I don’t know what or how my Omnivore cousin teaches her daughter about nutrition, but Lia really loves Raw Vegan Foods.  So, I interviewed her amazing Mama for some tips.

An Omnivore Family

What does your family typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner? What does Lia typically eat?

Breakfast is Raw Green Smoothie and cooked eggs.  Lunch is apples, hummus and raw carrots/cauliflower, crackers (the organic version of triscuits) and peanut butter and jelly. She takes this lunch to school in her lunch box, but usually only eats the apples and crackers.  Dinner is usually another Raw Green Smoothie, spinach noodles with a little tomato sauce, Salad (sometimes with greens, sometimes just tomatoes), hummus with raw veggies, sometimes edamame, and some kind of Fruit. Noodles are her favorite but the other night we made a stir fry of beef, mushrooms and broccoli and brown rice. I also try to give her some kind of seafood once a week (she loves shrimp and salmon). We eat mostly Vegetarian, but we may eat meat 2 to 3 times per week.

An Omnivore Family Highlights Raw Vegan Food

Your family eats everything, yet your 4 year old daughter requested her birthday party foods be RAW.  How does that happen?

I think it has a lot to do with the running dialogue Lia and I have on what kinds of food we eat and how Raw Foods are so good for us. Lia loves the flavor and texture of many Raw Veggies and Greens much more so than cooked ones.

It also doesn’t hurt that she knows whenever she eats Raw, her Aunt Carissa and family are so proud!  She also loves the Raw Foods that Carissa makes for her and so requested a special Raw Green Smoothie for her birthday party.

An Omnivore Little Girl Loves Raw

What are Lia’s favorite Raw Vegan Foods?

She loves Raw Green Smoothies, Carrots (with homemade hummus) and her new fave is Raw Cauliflower (she saw it in the grocery store the other day and just had to have it!).

How much Raw does she eat?

We certainly do not eat as much Raw as I would like, but right now I think she’s at about 10-15% Raw. At lunch and dinner she asks for Raw – more so than at breakfast.

Encouraging Raw Vegan Foods @ Home

Do you/does Lia make ‘Raw Foods’ part of her play?

Yes absolutely, when Lia is playing kitchen with me, her Dad or her imaginary friends she always makes them a Raw Smoothie and she usually tells her Dad “you can only have Raw Foods!” Since he is the least likely member in our family to eat Raw or drink a Smoothie, I think she is trying to help him be healthier.

What other things do you do that encourages her to eat more Raw Foods?

1. We talk a lot about what kinds of food we eat and why they may be healthy (or not as healthy as others).

2. Lia always comes to the grocery store with me and helps me pick out our fruits and veggies.

3. Of course having family that is so close to us be Raw, Lia just naturally gravitates to what they eat and loves showing off to them when she does eat Raw Greens.  It has really been seeing the example of your family eating Raw that moved us to include Raw in our diet. I am so much more aware of what we are putting into our bodies now and even if it isn’t Raw, I have worked hard to cut out processed food and eat as much local and organic as possible. Lia has a natural curiosity when it comes to foods, so we just explore together, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t (I have heard many times “I like Carissa’s -enter food name here- better than yours Mommy”) but at least we try! She does not feel deprived or upset when kids around her are eating corn dogs etc. She says “That’s yuck” and we find her something else to eat. But I really have to attribute her attitude towards eating healthy (whether its totally Raw or not) to the example that your family has set for her.  Seeing the people you love most living a healthy lifestyle makes it so much easier to do it yourself!

Thank you Cris for taking time for the interview! 

WOW.  I didn’t know our family impacted my cousin’s family’s nutrition so strongly!  

It’s amazing what constant dialogue, exposure to what is healthy and leading by example and support can do for the young ones!  Little Lia is an example! Adding Raw Vegan Foods to our children’s diet is possible.  It’s not just for the Vegans or Vegetarians.  Lia shows how Omnivore Families can join in the Raw Vegan Health Craze too!

Peace @ the Healthy Table: What Does It Take?

28 Jul

What happens when a Veggie marries an Omni? Peace or Burn-Out?

What Happens When A Veggie Marries An Omni?

I recently have met quite a few Vegan and Vegetarian women married to men who love their meat and processed foods.  The women joke that their hubbies eat these ‘on the side’.

Then Kids Come Along… and the dynamics drastically change…

Joy recently wrote to me: “how much I relate to so much of what you say. I am a raw foodie at heart stuck with a husband who loves soda, processed foods, pizza, candy, etc. He thinks he knows about healthy eating and argues with me on a regular basis regarding what we feed our kids 2 and 4. They are great eaters but definitely influenced by him and after almost five years, I’ve found myself exhausted and close to burn out.”

Exhausted and Burned Out Trying To Get The Family To Eat Healthy?

Yes, I’ve been there too!

I love nurturing the people I love through CLEAN, unprocessed food.  But, frankly, I sometimes want to quit and give up on days when my efforts are not appreciated or fail on the home front.  Sometimes I imagine just giving my family the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) Foods they would love to get their hands on. Wouldn’t I be more popular around here at meal times!?  Wouldn’t I have so much more time on my hands!?

But then I am reminded of why I do what I do in the first place and I look at how far we’ve come in the past 5 years.

Take Just One Step At A Time, Slowly Does It

Just 3 years ago, my husband and son were sick with a cough or cold every month.  This year alone, my husband has been sick only once.  My son twice (after choosing to eat overly processed foods).

3 years ago, my husband would have thought nothing about sharing a Krispy Kreme doughnut, corn syrup filled soda or dairy ice cream with our son with allergiesA few weeks ago, my husband and son sat down with me to write up and agree on a month’s worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus for them that are 50% raw vegan and 50% home cooked foods, which are mainly Vegan or Vegetarian!

5 years ago, I used to buy 7 gallons of bottled juices, the biggest package of hubby’s fave breakfast cereal, a few packages of junk food and about 14 pounds of animal products each week… for my husband alone! And not to even mention all the other refined foods: white flour, white sugar and some candy!  Today, I am buying my husband and son a cart full of fresh produce, whole grains to mill or sprout at home and about 3 pounds of animal products for them to share each week.  That is basically it.

Even When You Don’t Think You Are Making Progress… You Are!

Finding and creating balance is difficult when a health-conscious family wants to interact and be a part of the community obsessed with fast foods, meats and processed junk.

After a 4th of July celebration this year, I realized that in in promoting fruits, greens, unrefined and un-processed foods at home, I had inadvertently created a little processed food junkie who, when away from home, craves his white sugar/corn syrup rush and his fat high.  Admittedly, children will ‘test’ and want what they cannot always have. But there needs to be a balance so that depravity does not lead to such intense craving. So, at the request of my son, I baked Zucchini Bread almost every week since that party with the least refined Vegan ingredients.  My son exclaims almost every time he eats it, “Mama, I love this more than the cupcake at the party!”  Sure it isn’t raw, but the bread is full of zucchini – and that in itself has created my son’s new love for squash!

A few months ago, my son also announced: “No more Salads for me!  No more leafy greens!  Just smoothies!”  Instead of making it a big deal, I just served up green smoothies breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One day for lunch, I decided to make a big bowl of his old fave Kale Salad for dinner.  I was surprised when my son finished a big bowl quickly and quietly and said aloud, not to anyone in particular: “This was yummy!  This is the best salad!” Although technically, my son is still in his “no salad” stage, when I don’t make it a big deal, he will finish his fave bowl of greens.

As for my husband, he really loves his meat. I don’t want to deprive him. Nor do I want the topic of meals and food to be a thorn between us, when it should be something to enjoy together.  Considering he used to eat some animal product at every meal, a few times a week is such a positive change.  Processed foods, on the other hand, are foods I don’t wish to have at home.  If he chooses to eat some, he can do so elsewhere or I can try to create a better substitute.

What Does It Take To Make Peace @ My Table?

Perseverance.  Balance.  Determination.  Education.  Motivation.  Empowerment.  Compromise.  And, knowing that true permanent change comes slowly, one step at a time.

Are you a Veggie Lover married to an Omnivore Junkie?  What do you do to make peace at your table?

Similar Posts/Resources

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

Free APP Gets Kids Excited About Eating Fruits and Veggies

How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health

Top 10 Tips To Get Your Kids To Eat More Fruits And Veggies

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

12 Jul
My son actually enjoying this salad!

In Ayurveda, they say that your mental state affects how your body digests food.  So, if a child doesn’t like veggies, forcing them to eat it will cause them to improperly break down their food and therefore cause toxins in the body.

But, my son has gladly eaten 2 big bags of Valentine’s candy and was ill for a month.  My son has also fought many times against our ‘veggies first’ rule, begrudgingly ate his very green salad and has become much healthier for it. Looking at the bigger picture, the chemicals contained in junk or fast foods cause consumers to have a high, cause them to crave these same foods and within weeks can wreak havoc on their healthy systems.  Cancer patients, though willing but who may not love the drastic change in diet, have cured themselves off cancer on Raw Vegan Foods.

Do we really have to love the food we eat? Compared to the quality of the food we eat, it can’t be as important, can it?

Should We Have Fun Now and Pay For It Later?

Some people may call me fanatical and extreme for being a Raw Vegan Mama.  For the past 2 1/2 years, I have been transitioning my hubby and son’s diet from a Cooked Meat-based one to a largely Plant-based diet that is high in Raw Vegan foods.  We hardly eat out.  I make most of our meals from scratch and have all the appliances I need to make it easy for me.  When my family does eat out, I secretly cringe when my hubby and son order Sweet Tea (corn syrup! yikes!), Shrimp Tempura (mercury! hydrogenated oil!), a Hamburger (not-organic meat! hormones! dioxins! cow poop!) or celebrate a friend’s birthday with a store-bought cupcake (GMOs, preservatives, artificial dyes, I give up!).

But here’s the thing: when my husband and I married, we vowed to work at being PHYSICALLY HEALTHY so that we could live a long life together.  I take this vow very seriously and now that we have a family,  I dream of a healthy and disease-free family too.  I honestly can’t sleep at night knowing I served my family foods that could potentially harm their future health.

Why Do I Believe In A Plant-Based Diet?

There are so many reasons (look under Research)!  Here are more reasons why:

  • Did you know that we can decrease our chances of cancer by 40%, heart disease by 50% and diabetes by 60% through a whole foods Vegetarian Diet? (from Kathy Freston’s Veganist)
  • A plant-based diet also reduces BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Did you know that Diabetes is on an upswing worldwide?  1/3 of the kids born after 2000 will get type 2 diabetes and it has been proven that it is preventable through diet and lifestyle.  Dr. Barnard has shown that beef and cheese are bigger insulin spikers than pasta and fish more than popcorn!  The Vegetarian Diet helps prevent diabetes!

My Solution

As a Mama in my kitchen, I have the power to influence what my family eats.  I am lucky that I am able to spend a big part of my day in the kitchen to create healthy, as un-processed as possible, tasty Plant-Based meals for my family.   Admittedly, I work hard at it because I want my family to enjoy and crave healthy food.

So, do we really have to love the food we eat?

Yes.  I want my family to love what I serve.  Isn’t it the only way to get them to come back for seconds?  And not only today, but tomorrow and the day after.

Why Is The Sugar Always Sweeter On The Other Side?

5 Jul

MAMA: "Yes, that's seaweed! And it is green!"

The Problem

I hardly hear of other health conscious Mamas discuss how their children behave in community settings that serve Standard American Diet (SAD) Foods.  Many claim their children only want the perfectly healthy foods they are used to and avoid any junk altogether.  Let me tell you – this simply cannot be true!

It’s human isn’t it: to want what you don’t have?  The grass is always greener on the other side. And for kids, at least mine, the sugar is always sweeter on the other side!

And this is something I struggle with.  Can I sleep at night knowing I have served my son foods with dioxins, GMO products, allergens and other toxins that negatively affect his future health?

What Happens

At our neighbor’s Fourth of July Celebration, my son made a B line for the store-bought lemonade and the processed cupcakes.  Forget about lunch, he just wanted the sweets!  After a full glass of high fructose corn syrup sweet lemonade, he kept asking for more.  And before lunch was even served, he kept eyeing the cupcakes and asked at least 5 times when he could have his cupcake (can I have it now?  can I have it now? now? now? NOW?).

My Realization

In my quest for my family’s health, the last thing I want to do is to create an environment in my home that pushes my son to choose unhealthy foods or lead him to gravitate towards an unhealthy lifestyle. Yet, as I watched my son demand for MORE and MORE, one word kept popping into my mind: DEPRIVED. In promoting fruits, greens, unrefined and un-processed foods at home, I have inadvertently created a little processed food junkie who, when away from home, craves his white sugar/corn syrup rush and his fat high.  Admittedly, children will ‘test’ and want what they cannot always have.  But there needs to be a balance so that depravity does not lead to such intense craving. 

It’s sad, isn’t it? And it makes me angry because it is so difficult and challenging for a Mama to educate the family about health and nutrition, when we are all living in a culture that supports disease.

The Solution

Yesterday, we sat down as a family to go over 1 month’s worth of menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, sweets and other miscellaneous fave foods – and we agreed on every item on each menu.  We agreed on the Raw Vegan Foods, the Cooked Vegetarian Foods and the handful Cooked Animal Products.  We also agreed that I will make the healthiest and freshest Vegan versions of some of the verboten Standard American Diet (SAD) foods my son so craves so that he doesn’t feel so deprived. 

In discussing these menus with them, I have made my husband and son more a part of the process of being a Mama in the Kitchen and I have allowed them to have more responsibility for their own nutrition.

I hope it works!