Archive | creating healthy children RSS feed for this section

Grover’s Cheesy Enchiladas

31 Aug

After reading Percy Jackson, my son wanted to try Cheese Enchiladas. Apparently, Cheese Enchiladas are Percy Jackson’s best friend Grover’s favorite food. We have tried many versions since my son’s request, but tweaked it many times along the way. My son prefers his with lots of cheese and lots of enchilada sauce. If you have someone in your house with the same preferences, then this is for you. Note: a bulk of this dish is actually loaded with other healthy stuff too like: whole wheat, brown rice, black beans, and sweet potatoes.

grover_likes_enchiladas_by_nicolaslcha-d4fpzhc

Grover Likes Enchiladas by nicholaslcha-d4fpzh DeviantArt.net

Grover’s Got an Instant Pot: Easy Rice, Bean and Sweet Potato Filling

Place the following ingredients in the Instant Pot:

  • 1 c brown rice
  • 1 c black beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 3/4 c water

Cover, close vent, and manually set for 22 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally.

Lots of Enchilada Sauce

While the rice and beans are cooking, heat a pot and add:

  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs smoked paprika (if your family prefers it really spicy, substitute with chilli powder)
  • 4 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 Tbs dried cilantro

When the onions have softened, add:

  • 1 c water
  • 30 oz tomato sauce

Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in:

  • 2 Tbs arrowroot power

No need to heat again as the sauce will be going in the oven and will thicken then.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Rice Enchilada 3

Filling the Tortillas

When the rice mixture has cooled somewhat, add the following to it and mix well:

  • 8 – 12 oz your choice of cheese: grated Mexican cheese or Vegan Shreds
  • 1/2 of the enchilada sauce

Place enough of the remaining sauce to just cover the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking pan. Using a generous 1/2 c or more of rice mixture, start filling each:

  • 8-10 whole wheat tortillas

Roll and place seam side down on the baking pan. Continue until baking pan is filled. Brush sauce all over enchiladas and pour remaining on top. Cover with foil. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 – 10 minutes more.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Rice Enchilada 1

Serve the Enchiladas

As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle on top:

  • 4 oz grated your choice of cheese: grated Mexican cheese or Vegan Shreds

If you want, garnish with:

  • scallions
  • fresh cilantro
  • avocado slices

Enjoy!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Rice Enchilada 2

Advertisements

Around the World in Mama’s Vegan Kitchen: Ethiopian Tonight

28 Aug

My fourth grader is adventurous when it comes to food. Outside our home, he is interested in trying foods I don’t cook here and/or what friends and family offer him: clams, hamburgers, lobster, steak, junk food, you name it. At home, I sometimes get a frown when he sees “too many vegetables” at the dinner table. However, I have found a new trick: by serving foods in a different way, Vegan meals somehow become a new, exciting, and enticing dining experience for him. We live in Small Town, U.S.A., so as a food-loving homeschool Mama, one way to open up my son’s world view is through his meals. Dinner served in a thali or tagine or Asian bowl suddenly makes my little guy more inclined to indulge in a whole-food plant-based meal. “What are we eating for dinner?” is a question he asks with sincere curiosity these days. I love that my husband heartily eats up what I serve too. Their willingness allows my family to go on an adventure all around the world while we sit happily in my Vegan Kitchen.

Ethiopian Vegan

Tonight I cooked Ethiopian food and my son’s approval and willingness to dig in was no exception. This is not to say he will enjoy every mouthful. He may not. He may like some foods more than others. In my view, this is all OK. The introduction to different flavors, spices and textures are all part of his education at my Vegan table.

Ethiopian Vegan 2

Tips for Cooking Ethiopian at Home

  • the food processor is your best friend: use it to chop onions, garlic, ginger, and carrots quickly
  • measure and chop everything you need before you turn on the heat
  • be ready for lots of washing up: I used 4 pots and 1 pan for this meal (I wish I had 2 Instant Pots!)
  • these were the recipes that I used for:
  • NOTES:
    • no need for oil, just use water to sauté
    • Watch the spices for the Mesir Wat. I have my own Berbere Spice Mix and used only 1 Tbsp, which was spicy enough for my son.
    • I soaked the split peas for a few hours and used the Instant Pot for the Kik Alicha. I reduced the liquid to 2 1/2 c but that was even too much (look at photo, it is too soupy). If you do use the I.P., I would reduce the liquid to 2 c and cook for 13 minutes.
    • Start with Kik Alicha and Mesir Wat as these take the longest, then Atklit Wat, then Gomen, and finally make the Injera.
    • You will have enough food for 8 people or dinner for 3 with enough leftovers for at least one more meal.

Ethiopian Vegan 3.jpg

Success

They ate a lot of it! My family finished off their Atklit Wat and Gomen. My son, who proclaims to not like lentils, ate all of his Mesir Wat. He didn’t care for the Kik Alicha, which my husband liked best of all. They both don’t like the foamy feel of Injera, which is not surprising: it was the same response they had to the bread at an Ethiopian restaurant. I really liked it especially for its distinct authentic sour flavors (YAY!). For me, I enjoyed it all, as well as the experience of eating delicious food with my hands.

I love traveling around the world in my Vegan Kitchen. Not only am I actively advocating for a healthy family, but I am educating my son on the variety of cultural and gastronomical whole-food plant-based cuisines around the world.

Pretend You’ve Been Cooking All Day: Easy Instant Pot Vegan Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine

20 Aug

I have several Moroccan cookbooks, but none with a Vegan Bean Tagine. While I reminisced about my younger days eating at my fave Moroccan restaurant, I did some research online and came up with my own recipe. I love it when experiments work because this Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine is EASY, full of flavor, and kid-friendly all at the same time: just what I wanted for my son’s first Moroccan Vegan culinary experience. He’s had a Chicken Tagine at a friend’s house before, but it didn’t make a big impression on him.

Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine 2

This Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine was a success! My son finished a huge bowl of it with couscous. He even confided in me at bedtime that couscous, chickpea, and olives together make a perfect combination. I love that I have a little foodie in the house and that he loves his Mama’s Vegan food!

Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine

Easy Instant Pot Vegan Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine

Serves 6

The Beans

Soak overnight:

  • 1 1/2 c dried uncooked chickpeas

The next day, drain and rinse.

The Stew Broth

Mix the spices together in a bowl:

  • 2 T flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • pinch to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste

To make the broth, whisk the spices with:

  • 2 c vegetable stock

Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine 5

Beans, Broth and Veggies Go Into the Instant Pot

Place the following ingredients in order in your Instant Pot:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 2 green chili peppers, optional
  • drained and rinsed chickpeas, from previous step
  • 1 # sweet potatoes, chopped in big chunks
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes, whole
  • 6 pitted dates or dried apricots
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • all the broth, from previous step

No need to mix. Cover with lid, close off vent, and set to cook for 10-12 minutes. Wow, you’ve got so much time on your hands to do something else. Allow pressure to come down naturally. Season to taste, if needed.

Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine 4

Garnishes

  • 4 oranges, sliced in segments
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c olives, to taste
  • a handful of parsley or cilantro, chopped

Serve

  • with cooked couscous (I added the excess juices from the oranges in the previous step to the couscous too.)
  • top with garnishes

Serve in a tagine and pretend you’ve been working hard in the kitchen all afternoon.

Chickpea Sweet Potato Tagine 3

I love that this savory, spicy, and sweet flavored Vegan dish has added another exotic  and positive dimension to my son’s Vegan culinary and gastronomic education.

UPDATE: This recipe won in the final week of the #FOKFamily contest! Check it out here!

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.

A Homemade Vegan Hot Dog on a Whole Wheat Bun, Cole Slaw and Baked Fries Please

12 Aug

For dinner tonight, I wanted to cook something fun and welcoming, something to celebrate Summer holidays. Something that screamed: COMFORT FOOD!

IMG_1653015

You see our flights were cancelled four times in two days as we struggled to return home from three airports hit by storms. By midnight last night, we ignored our hunger for dinner as the wish to be asleep in our own beds grew stronger. We finally made it back today around 3 a.m. hungry but relieved.

IMG_1657019.jpg

I wanted to cook an easy, comforting, and healthy meal for our first dinner back home together. I thought:

Homemade Vegan Hot Dogs in Homemade Whole Wheat Buns served with Coleslaw and Baked Fries.

PERFECT.

IMG_1639003

It was a HIT! Everyone asked for seconds.

PAUSE.

Everyone asked for seconds.

PAUSE.

I love it when they do that!

My family members are elusive when it comes to verbal compliments, but their actions spoke louder than words tonight.

IMG_1647011

Homemade Vegan Hot Dogs in Homemade Whole Wheat Buns

Homemade Vegan Hot Dogs

Make TWO batches of FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s Homemade Veggie Dogs so you have enough for a meal, leftovers for tomorrow and a couple of pieces left for the freezer. They are DELICIOUS! I used my Instant Pot to cook my kidney beans (I used red kidney beans instead of pinto. I wanted a deeper red colour to my veggie dogs) and steamed them in my Instant Pot for 12 minutes per batch. So easy. I love Susan Voisin’s Veggie Dogs! These are indeed better than buying the ready made ones at the store. Worth the little effort they require.

Homemade Whole Wheat Buns

Place the following in order in your bread machine:

  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 T flax seed meal mixed with 3 T water
  • 3 T your choice of sweetener, I use Sucanat
  • 4 1/2 T your choice of oil/vegan butter, I use grapeseed oil or Earth Balance depending on my mood
  • 1 c vegan milk, I tend to use rice milk these days
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c bread flour
  • 1 T yeast

Set for dough stage. When done, divide dough into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope around 6 inches. Then flatten to a rectangular/oblong shape. Place on a prepared baking sheet (lined with Silpat mat or parchment paper) and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave to rest for 20 minutes. Bake (uncovered of course!) in a preheated oven at 400F for around 13 minutes till golden brown.

IMG_1651014

Easy Coleslaw

Mix together in a bowl to incorporate:

  • 1/4 c your favourite salad dressing
  • 1/2 c vegan mayonnaise

Add in:

  • 16 oz coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)

Mix well and set aside until ready to serve.

UPDATE: this recipe of coleslaw is just so much better!

IMG_1649013

Easy Baked Fries

On a baking sheet, mix together:

  • Russet Potatoes, sliced into batons (I like to keep the skins on for the nutrients)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • paprika, to taste
  • olive oil, just enough to coat well

Arrange flat on the baking sheet. Bake at 450F until crispy, around 30 minutes or more depending on thickness of your slices.

IMG_1658020

Serve All Together with Your Choice of Toppings

My son and I love ours with yellow mustard, ketchup and sauerkraut. My husband prefers his with just yellow mustard and ketchup.

How about you?

Around the World with My Family in the Comfort of My Vegan Kitchen

29 Jul

I love travelling the world through food in my family’s kitchen. Not only can I educate my son about healthier meal options, but also about different cultures and tastes from all over the world. Eating well becomes a joint family interest and experience as it creates meaningful meal time conversations.

This

Tonight, we had a simple Indian Thali for dinner: poppadums, mango chutney, yoghurt, curry and rice.I wish I had cooked a Dal too, but I only had time to cook a Potato Cauliflower Curry in my Instant Pot. Nevertheless, my son LOVED the presentation in the thali. As soon as he arrived at the table, I could tell he was excited to see dinner laid out in a new way. He loves experimenting with food and exploring different tastes, whether he likes them or not. Sometimes, he won’t like a new taste at first and that’s ok: it’s all part of his gastronomic education. I have been cooking curry for a while but it is only tonight that my son declared the Potato Cauliflower Curry as his new favourite curry dish.

Other countries we have visited just these past ten days from the comfort of our own kitchen: China (Chinese Green Beans, Sweet and Sour Cauliflower, and Rice), France (Vegan Croissants and Pain au Chocolat), Korea (Vegan Beebimbap), Mexico (Veggie Loaded Nachos and Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas), Philippines (Pan de Sal), Japan (Okonomiyaki and Potato Tonkatsu Ramen), Africa (African Peanut Stew) and USA (BBQ Black Bean Burger).

What are your family’s favourite cuisines and cultures? What dishes do you love? We would love to hear from you!

Vegan Mashed Potatoes with Kids

1 Jul

I’ve been waiting for my son to show some serious interest in the kitchen. This past week, he volunteered to make Vegan Mashed Potatoes, not once, but twice. I’m pretty sure he would do it another time too. This Mama is so excited to have a willing helper.

Son's Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Vegan Mashed Potatoes are so easy and so forgiving. My son loves every step of the process and wants to do it all himself. Your kids might want to do the same. Here’s what he did:

1. Scrub the potatoes clean.

2. Quarter them. (We keep the peel for extra nutrients.)

3. Drop them in a pot full of water.

4. Boil, then turn down the heat to simmer until the potatoes are tender. (15 minutes?)

5. Drain.

6. Put the potatoes back into the pot.

7. Mash, while adding sea salt, olive oil, and your choice of milk.

8. Serve. My son loves it with Baked Beans.

Vegan Mashed Potato

Forget Statins for Kids: Lower LDL with a Vegan Diet

16 Jun

Over the past year, our family has changed how we eat… yet again.

After our 7 year old Vegan decided to become an Omnivore, we discovered he had extremely high LDL. Several doctors we consulted suggested statins if he was unable to lower his cholesterol. Our goal was to decrease his LDL dramatically.

A Largely Vegetarian Diet Did Not Work

My first response was for him to go back to a Vegan diet but he argued that he wanted to try a largely Vegetarian diet with meat a couple times a month. After 6 months, his LDL stayed basically the same around the high 180s mg/dL.

Vegan Diet Is The Answer

I suggested switching back to a strict Vegan diet. He agreed. After another 6 months, his LDL decreased by 80 mg/dL. Although barely in the normal range, we were all ecstatic. More importantly, my son saw for himself the results of the Vegan diet.

Going Forward

So, what is my son doing these days?

Here is his basic daily health plan which I modified from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s recommendations for adults.

Health Plan

My son and I need to make sure he gets to write a check mark beside at least 7 things on this list a day: daily exercise, fresh air/time outdoors, at least 3 cups of fruit, at least 2 tablespoons of nuts/seeds/avocado, at least 1/4 cup of whole grains, at least 1 cup of steamed vegetables, at least 1 cup of raw veggies, at least 1/2 bowl of beans/tofu, and a minimum of 1 tablespoon of any sugar (this one is a difficult one!). He is allowed desserts only on the weekend. He is allowed any food of his choice when we do not eat at home, which is only a few times a month.

Is it doable? YES! Is he totally on board? YES!

He has another blood test in a couple of months and I will be sure to update you! In the meantime, Vegan is our way at home!

Is Veganism Safe For Babies?

9 Jul

HuffPost Live

First of all, thank you Nancy Redd and HuffPost Live for having me for a much needed discussion. Watch the video here!

My thoughts to:

  • @chubbyveganmom – wish we were closer! I totally see our kids having fun in the kitchen together!
  • @FatGirlPosing – enjoy looking at your photos!  I thought you’d be interested in the new study out by National Health and Nutrition Examination
    Survey (NHANES) that states it is the lack of exercise, not food intake, that causes obesity.

Vegan Mamas out there: Are your Vegan Babies Healthy? Would love to hear from you!!!

NOTE: My Twitter is @MamaInDKtchn! Also, our family members are ranked rowers (NOT national rowers… wish we were though)! 🙂

 

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.

IMG_1668

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!

Mama’s Now Cooking!

18 Feb

Logo

Yup, this Mama is cooking again! After a few years on a highly Raw Vegan diet, our family’s wants and needs have now changed.  

No More Tree Nuts

Our son has become highly allergic to cashews and pistachios, and we want to make sure there is no cross-reactivity, cross-contamination, nor cross-contact reactions to any other tree nuts. This change rules out many Raw Vegan recipes. We also discovered that his allergies to dairy and eggs have cleared. The test also showed a mild allergy to soy. I see no good reason to make my son feel we are controlling and restricting his diet further. We are now allowing him to make more food choices for himself. He is still trying new things and figuring out what he likes and what his body prefers. So far, he is enjoying his rediscovery of raw goat’s milk and cooked eggs. He’s also since tried store-bought beef and bison jerky, which he says he absolutely loves.

Raw vs Cooked, Vegan vs Vegetarian Foods

As for my husband, he is pretty tired of raw Vegan food, although he still enjoys our faves. It’s nice when he does request for them. He prefers cooked Vegan and Vegetarian foods.

Where do I fit in?  I’m the Vegan Mama who buys and prepares/cooks the Vegan and Vegetarian food for a son who loves goat’s milk, a hubby who prefers soy milk, and for myself who can live on raw foods. Cooking for three people with different food preferences is not admittedly such an easy task when our homeschool days are full.

Keeping Mama in the Kitchen and she ain’t cookin’

I have decided to keep this blog, along with the research and the recipes on Raw Vegan foods, in hopes that the information can continue to help more people out there. My future posts, however, will reflect the new changes in our family’s dietary choices.

Hoping you stick around to watch us on our journey!

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…)

IMG_1712001

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…”

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

12 Jan

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

So I told you I started cooking vegetables to death, right? And, I discovered that my family is consuming a wider variety and a higher quantity of vegetables than before. While my boys learned slowly to shun all raw veggies, cooked ones have a different effect at our dinner table.  The other night, after drinking a huge amount of fresh coconut milk, my son asked for seconds and thirds of both Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts.  I had to touch his forehead just to make sure he was feeling all right.

Some of my readers wanted me to share these kid-popular recipes… well here they are: quick, easy and addictive.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

2 cauliflower heads, florets chopped into bite size pieces

1 tbspn fresh ginger, minced

1 tbspn ground coriander

sea salt, to taste (I usually use 1 tsp or less per 1 pound of veggies)

extra virgin olive oil, just enough to coat all the vegetables

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix well to evenly distribute spices and oil.
  3. Roast at 400F until brown at the edges but not burned black.  The brown crispy bits actually create a chips-like quality to this vegetable that make them addictive.

 

IMG_9064002

Brussels Sprouts

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and halved

1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced

sea salt, to taste

extra virgin olive oil, just enough to coat all the vegetables

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix well to evenly distribute spices and oil.
  3. Roast at 400F until browned at edges, but not burned black.  Like the cauliflower, the browned crispy bits here make these addictive.

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.

A Young Child’s Thoughts about Transitioning from Omni to Vegan

17 Jun

My son and I came up with this today.

Interviewer: A lot of parents out there don’t want to change their family’s diet because they think their children will have the hardest time. How long have you been eating a whole food plant based diet?

5 year old boy: Since I was 2. I had a lot of allergies when I was a baby and I was sick a lot.

Interviewer: Did you have a hard time changing your diet?

5 year old boy: I miss meat, but I don’t get sick like I used to. And when I do, not for so long. My Mama and Daddy also explain to me that we eat this way, so that I’m healthy when I’m older. Did you know my grandpa’s dad is 98 years old today? He eats a lot of veggies and he still has muscles!

Interviewer: Cool! What’s your fave fruit?

5 year old boy: Bananas with peanut butter and honey.

Interviewer: What’s your fave veggie?

5 year old boy: Raw kale salad with sunflower seeds.

Interviewer: What’s your fave plant dish?

5 year old boy: Avocado sushi.

Interviewer: What do you think a whole food plant based diet does for your health?

5 year old boy: When I have processed foods, I don’t feel well. Once, I ate candy on Valentine’s Day and I was sick for 4 weeks. I know it’s not good for me. When my Mama makes me food like Vegan Soup I feel well again. I also can sleep better at night. Did you know I’m already a world ranked indoor rower? I’ve got muscles to prove it!

Interviewer: What do you like most about eating a whole food plant based diet?

5 year old boy: I don’t get sick! (He really ought to have said “not so often” too… I think he got carried away!)

Dispelling the Cow’s Milk Myth: Rethinking our Kids’ Fave ‘Health’ Drink

17 Jun

Unprocessed vegan milks instead?!

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in every 400 children and adolescents have diabetes in the United States.  A majority of these children have type 1 diabetes, an insulin-dependent autoimmune disorder.  Diabetes Care, the American Diabetes Society peer reviewed scientific journal, has published studies that show the significant relationship between type 1 diabetes and cow’s milk consumption, and yet, cow’s milk is still seen as our children’s  favorite health drink both at home and at school.

In 1991, Dahl-Jorgensen K., Joner G. and Hanssen K.F. showed the “Relationship between cow’s milk consumption and incidence of IDDM in childhood.” Many countries were included in the study.  Japan showed the lowest consumption of cow’s milk and the lowest incidence of type 1 diabetes, while Finland had the highest of both.  France, Israel, Canada, U.S.A., Netherlands, New Zealand, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden’s consumption of cow’s milk and incidence of type 1 diabetes were somewhere in between Japan and Finland.  In 1997, Hammond-McKibben D. and Dosch H. M. s calculated the risk of the consumption of cow’s milk on the development of type 1 diabetes in their study “Cow’s milk, bovine serum albumin, and IDDM: can we settle the controversies.”  What they found was that the relationship between cow’s milk and type 1 diabetes is 200% greater than the relationship between smoking and lung cancer and 900% more than high blood pressure and cholesterol and heart disease.  Both of these studies were published in Diabetes Care.

Many other studies have shown that dairy consumption is also related to the increase in other autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.  Just last week at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting, it was reported that children’s type 1 diabetes has increased by 23% from 2001 to 2009.  As guardians of future generations, we need dispel the myth that cow’s milk is our children’s healthiest drink.

School Lunches versus Packing a Lunch: How to Keep Both Healthy

23 May

We homeschool, but we are out and about a lot.  Here’s an example of our packed lunch.

How do we keep our children’s lunches healthy?  According to the World Health Organization“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”   So, we can rephrase our question as: how can we ensure our children’s lunches contribute to their physical, mental and social well-being and, by consuming them, they will not be afflicted by disease or sickness?

I recently watched a short documentary called Lunch, a film based on interviews about ‘Green School’ lunch programs, instilling healthy habits in kids and organic gardening in a school setting.  It seems to me that most people talk about kid’s lunches from a single viewpoint: the food. They say: let’s improve food quality, organic is better, no more GMOs, add more fruits and vegetables, no more fried foods, add healthier options, grow a school garden, add nutrition to the curriculum…  While I think these are all wonderful and much needed, the most important thing we can do is to empower children themselves to make the right food choices.  

At the end of the day, the children are the only ones who can control what they eat, therefore it is not enough to simply create a healthy nutrition environment for them. Children need to be taught that any kind of food can keep us alive, but it is the nutritious food that helps maintain our body, mind and social capacities well. We need to teach children about a whole lifestyle that emphasizes not only nutritional choices, but also how the choices they make affect their own physical, mental and social well-being.   When children are educated, when they understand, when they are given proper role models and when they are given tools to help them choose health, then the responsibility for parents and guardians to create a healthy nutrition environment for them becomes easier – simply because children will WANT it for themselves.  

Proper Nutrition is integral to maintaining our physical, mental and social health and well-being.

We can teach children the value of eating to live, not living to eat. We can teach them the value of maintaining physical, mental and social well-being (these are a few examples):

    • show them what happens to their bodies when they consume junk versus nutritious foods, for example:
      • what happens to teeth when they eat processed sugar (place a tooth in Coca Cola and see what happens)
      • what happens to bones when people eat too much animal protein and cow’s milk (show rates of osteoporosis in different communities)
      • teach them to look at their own poop and explain what healthy poop should look like
      • teach them how different foods create different energy levels (discuss athletes and their diet)
      • watch Wall-E and discuss why the humans are obese (foods they eat, exercise)
      • show videos like Supersize Me and Forks over Knives to older children
    • show them what happens to their minds depending on the food consumed, for example:
      • discuss how mental performance suffers/improves due to diet (i.e. Food For the Brain study)
      • show them that learning challenges and problem behaviors may decrease/increase according to diet
      • discuss how exercising the brain is just as important as sports is for the body
      • discuss how quality foods help the nerves in the brain function properly (memory, problem solving, etc)
    • show them that their nutritional choices have social implications, for example
      • discuss what “social well-being” means vis-à-vis proper nutrition within the community, the nation and the world (according to the United States Institute of Peace: “Social well-being is an end state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. This end state is characterized by equal access to and delivery of basic needs services (water, food, shelter, and health services), the provision of primary and secondary education, the return or resettlement of those displaced by violent conflict, and the restoration of social fabric and community life.)
      • discuss composting, recycling, reusing and reducing in the community and at home
      • discuss pollution and toxicity
      • discuss what stress does to us
      • discuss how the quality of food we eat affects our emotions and therefore our social well-being.
As we teach them to grow their own food and to prepare their own meals from scratch… we can sit back and see what happens.

Other ideas here too: Top 10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! Click on the image for more links to Gifted/2E Health and Wellness Issues!

Review and Give Away: Bee Yummy

16 Apr

Are you looking for RAW facial products?  I have tried Alkaitis day and night creams before.  Although I loved them, they left my face feeling greasy and sticky all the time.  The fragrance was also pretty overpowering.  Applying make-up, which I seldom do, was a little difficult on a sticky face too.

After asking around for Vegan product recommendations for my face, nobody recommended Bee Yummy.  Maybe because their products are not fully Vegan.  Although they are RAW FOOD products, honey, bee pollen, proplis and Royal Jelly are their primary ingredients.   Many Raw Vegans like me, who consume raw honey, would use them.  I stumbled upon them through my own research and I wondered how well they would work on my face.  live live organic accommodated my curiosity and sent me 2 sets of samples: 1 for me and 1 for one of my lucky readers!

Bee Yummy Face Products are made of RAW ingredients: Eye & Lip Cream, Face Lift and Skinfood. Feel free to eat some while applying on your face!

Bee Yummy Eye & Lip Cream is simply Olive Oil, Beeswax and Balsam Fir Needles.  It is a solid, but you can melt a little at a time when you apply it on your skin.  I had come back from a trip to Colorado, where it was dry and cold.  My lips were a little chapped – and after only a day of application, this made my lips feel soft and smooth.  I tried to use it on my eyes, but found it a little difficult (I am used to dabbing eye cream, not applying some with so much pressure that it stretches my skin) and time consuming to melt and apply around my eye area.

Bee Yummy Face Lift is simply Wildflower Honey & Honey Cappings, Kombucha Mushroom, Royal Jelly and Pure Water.  I used it twice in the past 2 weeks as a mask for 30 minutes (though they suggest using it throughout the night too) and I loved the feeling!   On my search for more products that work, I recently tried one mask that was so tight it felt like my skin was going to crack.   Bee Yummy Face Lift was not like this at all.  It made my skin feel moisturized and firm without being too tight at all. In fact, it will be the mask I use from now on! Although I still want to try some DIY Superfood Facemasks… when I have some extra ingredients and time on my hands that is!

Bee Yummy Skinfood is simply Wildflower Honey & Honey Cappings, Bee Pollen, St. John’s Wort Flowers, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Balsam Fir Needles and Pure Water.  I haven’t had a chance to try this product myself at all because I gave my sample to my son.  He ate something he was allergic to 2 weeks ago and broke out with eczema on his face.  I usually use coconut oil or shea butter to help reduce it and more high-raw Vegan foods in his diet to help cleanse his system.  This time, I wanted to try Skinfood instead of the coconut or shea butters. Well… after seeing how fast my son’s eczema disappeared after using Bee Yummy Skinfood, I went ahead and bought my son a 2oz bottle to keep in his drawer.  I wish I had some photos but I frankly didn’t think his skin would be better so quickly and I lost the opportunity.  Another good thing about Skinfood is that a small amount goes a long way too.

Any of you want a sample?  Please simply comment here and the winner will be announced on Earth Day!

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?  Absolutely!

1. smell – who doesn’t love the smell of honey?

2. sensitivities – my son is allergic to so many sweeteners.  The only sweetener that his body is truly fine with is honey.  Needless to say, we don’t have honey allergies at our house.  We love raw honey.

3. taste – you can EAT all of Bee Yummy products.

4. moisturize – I love the Face Lift!  It is now my preferred face mask.

5. everyday comfort and 6. lasting effect – According to their website: “As a cosmetic cream Bee Yummy™ nourishes your skin with at least 27 minerals, 22 amino acids, 105 live enzymes & co-enzymes, hormones, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and pigments. Another amazing, if not the  main feature of  Bee Yummy™ is it’s healing effect. It is excellent to help heal wide range of skin conditions: burns, sunburns, open wounds & cuts, pimples, blemishes, bed sores, stretch marks, chapping etc. We have reports from our clients that it has been very helpful for psoriasis, eczema, rosatia, poison ivy, and other conditions.”

7. eco-friendly – Vegans won’t like that honey is their primary ingredient, of course.  According to their website, their “ingredients have been hand harvested in a small wilderness area with it’s own micro climate. Honey, Pollen, Propolis & Royal Jelly are made by the same colony of bees from a small apiary, which accounts for energetic harmony and synergy of our cream. Honey is collected from the wildflowers, is unfiltered (just dripped from the comb), and contains the cappings of the hive with their precious, mysterious substances. Pollen, depending on season, is from a mixture of Wild Dandelion, Wild Roses, Raspberries, Asparagus, Goldenrod, Wild Apples, and Cherry Tree blossoms. Propolis is of the highest quality: only from Poplar and Fir trees. The flowers of St. Johnswort are picked by hand at noon, when the juices are drawn up from the roots, stems, and leaves into the flowers. Only select, young tips of Balsam Fir are used as a vitamin C source. No preservatives are needed because Honey, Propolis, and Balsam Fir are the nature’s  best preservatives and antibiotics. Honey is the only food on earth that will keep forever, and so will our cream.”

Want to try them? Just leave a comment below and the winner of the sample set will be announced on Earth Day!

Creamy Plantain Green Smoothie

9 Apr

Plantain Bananas

Because they are in season all year round in the tropics, I grew up eating plantains fried or baked or boiled or steamed almost daily.  They were one of my fave foods.  I was told not to eat them raw, but I couldn’t resist trying one as it ripened on my kitchen counter one day a few years ago.  Now I love them RAW when they are all black, soft and super sweet.  Sometimes, I can’t wait and eat them when they are a little soft, but still quite yellow (like in the photo above).  For breakfast, I love them with a little raw almond butter and raw honey or with cayenne spices.  For lunch, I like to eat them plain with a huge salad to bulk up my meal when I am really hungry.  Sometimes, we love them in smoothies because they create really lovely creamy drinks.  For days when you are really hungry, these smoothies have a heavier creaminess than regular bananas.  Plantains are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium and vitamins B6 and C.

Today, my whole family enjoyed a Strawberry Plantain Green Smoothie.  For me, the fewer ingredients, the better.   I like keeping things simple.  I used to add dates when my family was transitioning to a more raw food diet, but we find dates in green smoothies too sweet now.  We prefer them a little plainer these days – so we can really taste the ingredients in the smoothie.  I also used to add only 4 cups of greens, but now we prefer 6 cups or more.  But feel free to experiment with other veggies and fruits and add your fave raw ingredients too like nuts and/seeds.  Here’s my basic recipe.

Blend all in a high speed blender:

2 really ripe, soft and black plantains, peeled

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 cup water

1 pint of strawberries or fruits in season

6 cups of greens, or more

I find it easier to add the greens to the blender first, so I can measure it to make sure I have at least more than 6 cups.

Then I add the strawberries.

Then I add the orange juice and water.

Then I add the plantains last.

Puree it all together for a creamy green smoothie.

The Scoop on Poop for Kids

29 Mar

My son and I created this video today in order to teach him about bowel movements as an indicator of his health.  We thought your young kids might learn something too!

Orange, Cucumber and Celery Juice

15 Mar

Tip of the day Mamas

It feels like Summer outside. And Summer reminds me of cool cucumbers. I love cucumbers because when you juice them, you get A LOT of juice! I spend less time juicing when I use cucumbers!

Orange, Cucumber and Celery Juice

We have lately loved this mix of juices, after drinking it on our recent travels. This is easily my son’s favorite drink these days, although it is best in Summer or Autumn when 2 out of 3 ingredients are in season. Very simply, you need:

4 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (In the Autumn, use Sour Oranges. In the Winter, use Washington Navels. In the Spring, use Sweet Oranges, Tangelos or Temple Oranges.)

3 cucumbers and 4 celery sticks (both best in Summer and Autumn)

Juice the cucumbers and celery. You should have about 4 cups in total.

Combine 4 cups of orange juice with 4 cups of the green juice. Voila! A delightful drink! Use less orange juice for 'Superhero Green Juice Guzzlers' and more for when the kids aren't into Superheroes!

A Raw Vegan Mama’s Weekly Grocery Cart

12 Mar

A lot of people ask me where I shop, how I shop and how much produce do I buy:

  • WHERE: for the most part, I shop at my local health food store because they source things as locally and as seasonally as they can. I also shop at www.vitacost.com for non-perishable items.
  • HOW: I buy organic produce when on sale: produce is 30% off on Thursdays and Sundays at our local store. I am astounded at how much money I save just by dropping by on these days! I typically only visit the organic produce, bulk and oil/vinegar sections.
  • HOW MUCH: take a look at the photos, below, of my typical shopping cart from different angles:

I am usually the person with the most produce in their cart every time I check out at the cash register. We rarely eat out as a family, so what you see in my cart, above, is everything we eat in a week. We don’t buy extras, like Starbucks coffee or a Krispy Kreme Doughnut or pop into a shop/restaurant midweek for more food.

Bringing the produce home. The top drawer is filled with nuts and dried fruit. The bottom drawer is filled with hardier veggies, like carrots, celery and mushrooms. This is not all the produce at home as we have fruit baskets on our counters too!

When this photo (above) was taken, I spent $200. $200 – $250/week for groceries is typical for us. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average American consumer (single or families with dependents) spent $6,129 in 2010 on food ($3,624 at home and $2,505 away from home). That’s around $118 on food/week. Although we are a 3 person household, I want to say that I buy for a typical 4 person household because my athlete husband eats double a normal adult portion at any meal. Whichever way you look at it, as a high raw and organic vegan 3-person household, it seems we are spending a low $67 on food/person/week to a high of $83 on food/person/week – and the numbers decrease when you factor in how much we consume. That’s not bad at all!

Review: Girvins Vegan Soaps

12 Mar

Girvins Vegan Soap

They can custom make any of their soaps for the Vegan market.

A family friend, Stephanie Rohrer, owns and runs Fox Hollow Farm in Maryland with her family.  I almost visited once – but have never been.  I understand they have a farm market where you can buy vegetables and fruits  (along side their animal products) on their farm everyday, except for Mondays in the Winter.  Stephanie also happens to be a weaver of soaps and candles for her personal company, Girvins.  She uses ingredients from her farm to create candles, soaps and body creams.  My family was lucky enough to test her Moon Soap fragrance free and Vegan.  Stephanie makes it herself with distilled herbal water, coconut oil, palm oil , olive oil, vitamin E and lye. 

My family and I loved that her Moon Soap has no fragrance.  My son loved the fact that it did a great job washing away my young son’s smelly feet!  Where smell is concerned, it does a much better job than our everyday soap, Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar. The soap lathers lightly with small bubbles, but lathers up well nonetheless.  Stephanie said she sells a lot of her soaps to families with kids who have skin issues.  I wasn’t surprised then that her soap cleans very well without drying or stripping the skin.  Most importantly for busy Mamas, it doesn’t leave a greasy film on the bathroom (which olive oil soap does).

Did Girvin’s Moon Soap pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – no fragrance!  Loved that there was no fragrance.  My son thought it smelled like cheese, but that was probably the lye.

2. sensitivities – none.  This is very mild.

3. taste – not applicable.

4. moisturize – cleans very well without drying the skin or stripping skin of its natural oils.

5. everyday comfort –  yes.  My son’s feet especially smelled wonderfully neutral after using this soap!  And it doesn’t leave a greasy film on the bathroom floor!

6. lasting effect – yes!

7. eco-friendly – All of Girvin Soaps can be customized for Vegans.

Blissful Bites: Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse

8 Mar

Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse is also heavenly to prepare with only 5 ingredients. You will have a delightful dessert in less than 10 minutes (clean up included)!

When little hands help... you never know what they are going to add. Hmph... those sprinkles don't look like anything RAW to me, but what's important is he's helping me create a RAW TREAT that he absolutely loves.

As my sous-chef, I think my son purposely miscounted the dates and added 1 more to our mixture.  It was a little sweet for me and my husband, but my son was in dessert heaven.  The recipe is reprinted here with the kind permission of Christy Morgan, chef and author of Blissful Bites.

Blend until it becomes a paste:

12 dates, soaked for 2 hours and pitted, or ¾ cup maple syrup (we used wet dates, so we didn’t need to soak them)

Add and blend until smooth:

2 ripe avocados

1/3 cup raw cacao powder (we used raw carob powder)

1 tsp vanilla flavouring or 1 fresh vanilla bean

Serve in martini glasses with:

4 strawberries, sliced

Makes 2 – 3 servings.

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.

Vegan Cartoons

28 Jan

Reading A Cow's Life

The Mama looks for her baby!!!

Mama, don't we have a belt like this? Sigh. Yes, we haven't always been Vegan.

Resources:

TeachKind – for free materials on humane-education (The Cow’s Life is only one of their many cartoons)

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

Empowering Vegan Children

28 Jan

Vegan Kids don’t like Veggies?

Last week, I spoke to a Vegan friend. She said something that really surprised me. Her kids were brought up proudly Vegan, but they don’t even like vegetables. They don’t even like sweet potatoes! “Well, what do they love to eat?” I asked immediately. “They love beans and rice. We eat a lot of rice and beans! They will eat a few vegetables only, like artichokes.” Imagine that! Vegan kids who are proud to be Vegan, but don’t like vegetables!

What’s a Mama to do?

“My raw food skills suck… My husband and kids won’t eat any of the raw things I prepare…!”

“I’m so tired of preparing two dinners: one for them and one for me!”

“Why won’t they eat their veggies?”

Sound familiar? I’ve been there too. In fact, I am reminded of Peace at the Healthy Table, a post I wrote at around the time I figured out how to create balance within my own family.

Like my friend, I too certainly don’t want to be the Mama who force feeds her son veggies in the name of health. Why? Because:

  1. I want him to love nourishing his body with food
  2. I don’t want him to hate veggies
  3. I know I won’t be around forever preparing food for my son
  4. he, and only he, has control of what he eats and
  5. he, and only he, can therefore determine his own health.

So, what’s the best solution I came up with? While he is still young, I want to empower my son to make the right food choices.

In my house, this is where my top 10 tips to get them to eat more fruits and veggies come in. I’ve also recently added 2 more tips to this list:

  1. make my son his own Half Raw, Half Cooked Vegan “Happy Meals” for school and
  2. use cartoons to explain how our nutrition choices impact the world.

10 Lessons from A Vegan Mama

23 Jan

 

"Mother Earth" by my then 4 year old

“There are two ways of spreading light:

to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Edith Wharton

  1. Think for yourself. It is OK to think differently from the mainstream.
  2. Choose health by eating an abundance of fresh, nutritious and unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
  3. Be an efficient shopper. No need to roam around, we need only shop in the produce and bulk sections.
  4. Save money. Look: our Vegan grocery bill has decreased at least a third from our Omnivore days!
  5. Save time. Imagine! We don’t have to cook for hours. We can eat our fruits and vegetables raw. In fact, lunch will be ready in just 5 minutes!
  6. Let us not be wasteful. We don’t want to consume more than we have to. We can also compost our scraps, they will enrich the earth.
  7. Be part of our community: befriend local farmers, know where our produce comes from.
  8. Be respectful. We share this world and the resources in it with others.
  9. Be kind to ourselves, to others, to animals and to our earth.
  10. Be conscious always that our everyday simple choices can have great impacts on ourselves, on others and on our environment.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

30 Dec

There are 3 ingredients that make eating Raw Vegan food more appealing to transitioning mamas, hubbies and kids: raw sugars, raw oils and sea salt.  It is time for me to decrease my family’s consumption of all 3.  

1. Prepare food with less sugar.

My plan:

  • use less raw sweeteners all together
  • use more fruit (fresh or dried) to replace sweeteners
  • omit any unnecessary sugars all together in Green Smoothies.

Note: I have been successful this past week in serving my boys their favourite Pooh Bear Smoothie without additional dates AND with another handful of greens without complaints!

2. Prepare food with less oils.

My plan:

  • use less extra virgin olive oil in salads
  • use more flax seed oil to replace extra virgin olive oil in salads to increase our Omega 3 intake.
We enjoy our favourite Kale Salad at least once or twice a week and it contains a lot of olive oil.  I have prepared it before by substituting 1/4 of the olive oil with plain water and we loved it just the same.  I am going to try substituting some of the olive oil with flax seed oil too.

3. Prepare food with less salt.

My plan is to:
  • simply decrease our intake of salt by using less of it.  While my general rule is to add 1 tsp sea salt for every 1 pound of food, I want to decrease this to 3/4 tsp.
This will be difficult for me because I love sea salt.  Salt brings out the flavor in food.  Will my family be ready to eat bland food?  I guess more importantly, will I?

There are 2 ingredients that have made the transition into a Vegan Diet much easier for my husband and son: soy and wheat, which has given them the texture and heaviness of animal products they have craved.  These are the 2 ingredients I struggle with the most because of the GMO’s in soy and the gluten in wheat.  

4. Avoid soy and other GMOs.

The contamination of organic products with genetically modified counterparts are increasing, as they are inevitable.  This is scary.  Now I just have to figure out what to do when preparing Asian fare without Nama Shoyu?

5. Avoid wheat.

Dr. Hyman’s Huffington Post article on Gluten opened my eyes on why eliminating wheat is very important.  He writes that “… an estimated 99 percent of people who have a problem with eating gluten don’t even know it. They ascribe their ill health or symptoms to something else–not gluten sensitivity, which is 100 percent curable.” And that a “study comparing the blood of 10,000 people from 50 years ago to 10,000 people today found that the incidences of full-blown celiac disease increased by 400 percent (elevated TTG antibodies) during that time period.”  WOW.
My plan is to:
  • eliminate all wheat
  • then substitute with spelt (although it contains gluten, people with wheat allergies and not gluten allergies, can tolerate spelt)
  • then continue to experiment with and use home-milled gluten-free flours from now on.  Here’s how to substitute for wheat with other grains.

Supplementing a Family’s Vegan Diet is important!

6. A continued search for fantastic food-based vitamin supplements for:

  • B12
  • other B vitamins
  • iron
  • zinc
  • iodine
According to Gabriel Cousens, we all need to supplement Omega 3s, minerals, carnosine, Vitamins A, B12, C, D, K.  I just found his supplement recommendations and will be working from this list!  Note: he doesn’t advice taking nutritional yeast as the B12 supplement because of fungal potential.

On Exercise

7. Continue to exercise better.

My husband is an Exercise Scientist and an Athlete.  Last month, he got me to row 120,000 meters.  I think that is more exercise than I have ever done in my entire life.  And I don’t think I have ever felt as physically well as I do today!  And yet, I took a physical test yesterday that placed me below average for my age range in cardiovascular strength… I was sorely disappointed, but I guess I have a lot of room for improvement in this department!

 

One with Nature

8. Make more time to be outdoors.

My family’s days are not complete anymore if there isn’t at least half an hour each day outdoors, rain or shine.  I/We want more!

What are your and your family’s New Year’s Resolutions for this coming year?