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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)! 🙂

 

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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!

 

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…”

Animal Protein versus Plant Protein

29 May

Raw Avocado Corn Salad over Cooked Beans: 1 cup of cooked white beans contains 16g of protein, 1 cup of raw corn has 5g, 1 cup of avocado 5g and 1 cup of tomatoes 1g.  I only need 33g of protein a day, so just this meal alone would be 6g shy of my goal.

In my community of Holistic Mamas, there are, nutritionally speaking, basically 2 groups of families:

1. Those that believe in and eat organic animal based foods and

2. Those that eat organic plant based foods.

The former tend to follow the WAP Diet (Weston Price Diet:http://www.westonaprice.org/). The latter are those who are eating, or lean towards, an all organic vegetarian or vegan diet – especially after watching Forks Over Knives. Now within this latter group, there two further subsets:

a. those who eat a lot of processed and refined foods and

b. those who make most (if not all) their food from scratch.

Among Mamas, there are many discussions as to why their own diets are best. In my view, as you all know, an unprocessed, whole organic plant based diet is best.  Why?

FIRSTLY, BECAUSE ANIMAL BASED DIETS CAUSE DISEASE:

There have been so many studies done to raise awareness as to why (even organic) animal based foods are not health foods. Although animal products have the most similar nutrient composition to our bodies, consuming them promotes disease. I am currently taking Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Course and have learned (or rather relearned from his work in the China Study) that cancer can be turned on and off (from 20% to 5% of total calories) just be increasing and decreasing animal protein in the diet of rats. The same amounts of plant based protein (such as wheat and soy protein) had no such effect. Animal –based foods also contain saturated fats, which cause cholesterol and heart disease. Moreover, animal products cause an acid environment in our bodies, which causes calcium to leak from our bones in an effort for our bodies to neutralize the acids, causing osteoporosis.

SECONDLY, ONLY PLANT BASED FOODS CONTAIN ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS THAT PREVENT DISEASE:

Plant based foods, on the other hand, contain essential nutrients not present in animal foods that we need in order to live healthily. Two of these are antioxidants and dietary fiber: antioxidants, like vitamin C, E and carotenoids, bind free radicals that promote cancer and speed up our body’s aging process, and dietary fiber binds to chemical carcinogens and helps the body excrete these potentially harmful products. They help maintain our health and prevent disease.

THIRDLY, NOT ALL PLANT BASED DIETS ARE EQUAL. ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS ARE DIFFERENT FROM PROCESSED VEGAN FOODS:

As I have said before, I understand why people are attracted to refined and processed vegan foods: they do not require much work or energy. We want to be healthy but we don’t want to put that much effort into actually preparing our meals directly from whole foods. We want things EASY. Consider this though: When a fruit or vegetable is 5 days old, it will contain only 40% of it’s original nutrients. How about refined plant foods?

Refined plant foods have been so drastically altered from their natural state and are not consumed, in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s words, “in their totality” and therefore in decreased natural plant material quanitites. Other refined foods are processed foods. They include simple carbohydrates (like, white flours and sugars), hydrogenated oils, genetically modified organisms, anything with fillers, artificial food grade chemicals and additives. Most are ready to eat (like junk food or white bread) or require little cooking (like frozen dinners). They are also anything canned, boxed, bottled and packaged. There is a whole niche market dedicated to serving ready made foods to vegans and vegetarians.

THEREFORE, A PLANT-BASED WHOLE FOODS DIET IS BEST.

The thing is though, like most things, it requires work on our part to get something really worth anything. Nutrition is no exception. Plant-based whole-foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. They are in their natural state and are not overly processed or altered. Most of the time, you can eat them fresh or they may require some time and attention (like, cleaning, prepping, dressing/marinating, cooking). Dr. T. Colin Campbell states that when we consume foods that have decreased natural plant material, this poses problems for our bodies.

BUT, HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS ENOUGH?

For the average person, 8 – 10% of your total calorie intake is enough.  Surprisingly, professional athletes only need slightly more protein than that.  You can calculate what you need here.

HOW TO MEASURE HOW MUCH PROTEIN WE CONSUME?

According to my instructor at eCornell University, “As long as we’re eating whole, plant foods – no oils and minimal nuts/seeds.  On average, plant foods are 5-10% fat and about 10% protein.  And, if we’re eating whole foods, rather than processed, we’re getting plenty of complex carbohydrates [and enough protein].”

What is Vegan Mainstream’s Online Magazine?

29 Apr

Please allow me to flatter myself just for a wee moment. I was asked to contribute to Vegan Mainstream‘s new online magazine!  This Mama made it to VStream‘s first issue’s “Top 10 Vegan Bloggers” list!

Contributors to VStream's Spring/Summer 2012 Issue

So, what is VStream?

VStream is Vegan Mainstream‘s new online magazine full of articles from vegan bloggers, community leaders, chefs, and activists. Articles vary from kitchen issues to fashion ideas to recipes to facing vegan opposition and to making a difference in our own communities.  It’s only $2.99 to download the issue.  Take a sneak peek here or buy an issue here.

And if you’re wondering what Blogger Snippets look like, here’s mine:

My Blogger Snippet in VStream's Spring/Summer 2012 Issue

The Giving Tree: A Lesson on Earth Day

26 Apr

Our Giving Tree

I read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to my son’s kindergarten homeschool class today. Then we created our own Giving Tree!

I read the story to them.

I asked them what the tree gave to the boy. They drew their answers on the leaves and apple paper cut outs I had made. Then, we attached it to the bare branches I had brought in. (I got a big branch from outdoors and set it in a tub with Plaster of Paris.)

An Apple

Apples to sell in order to make Money

Wood to make a Boat

I asked them what other things do trees give us?

Oxygen

I shared some quick facts with them:

1. Did you know an average tree can provide enough wood to make 170,000 pencils?

2. Did you know 2 mature trees can supply enough oxygen for a family of 4?

3. Did you know a mature tree removes almost 70x more pollution than a newly planted one?

And finally, I asked the children what could we give the tree in return? They cut paper and we hung their gifts up with ribbon on our Giving Tree.

Water

A Bird to keep the Tree company

Friendship

Love

Protection

Life

I left our class feeling how wise all these children already are.

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!

Top 10 wonderful things about traveling as a family

4 Mar

Hiking in Maine with extended family.

1. We bring ourselves out of our comfort zone

2. To create new experiences and memories together as a family and

3. To meet new or reconnect with extended family and friends.

A field trip to Paddington Station included our son dressed up like Paddington Bear including hat, galoshes and a tag that stated "Please look after this bear. Thank you."

4. We are free, as homeschoolers, to take our school anywhere we are at any time

5. To discover,

Portuguese Man of War in Florida: did you know they are not jellyfish?

6. To explore, and

Filipino troupe performs traditional Filipino songs and dances for us.

7. To educate ourselves about another place, culture and people.

8. Our minds are open as

9. Our world expands.

There is no place like home!

10. But at the end of the day, no matter how wonderful other places are, we always love returning home.