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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!

 

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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…”

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!)

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!

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.

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.

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?

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

13 Dec

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

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

The Good:

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

The Bad:

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

A Raw Mama’s Reality Check

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

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

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

2. B Vitamins is a must!

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

3. Trying to find Supplements

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

4. Protein

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

Mama’s Supplement Information and Support from Gabriel Cousens

Mama’s Brainstorming

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

Mama’s Emotional Health Affects The Whole Family

12 Aug

“If you really want to be outrageous, be ethical.

If you want to go against the grain, be kindhearted.

If you want to live on your own terms, breaking out from expectations and external demands, practice love.

To be free, to be different, to be bold, be compassionate.”

~ Sharon Salzberg ~

I believe that our emotional health impacts our overall health, our family’s health and the health of humanity.

Mama & Child: My artist friend painted this for us when our son was born.

THE POWER OF MOTHER ON HER FAMILY

I remember a few months ago, a Facebook question was posed:

“What does the word “mother” mean to you? How about “power”? How does it feel to put those two words into the same sentence? What IS the true power of mothers?”

This question just spoke to me and I immediately responded:

“I feel as a mother, I have the power to influence my family’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health for the better… and for the worse… So I would like to make sure I use my power intelligently, proactively and deliberately.”

As I typed my comment on my computer, I thought:

– physical health (check)

– mental health (when my son’s not driving me crazy, check)

– spiritual health (check, but if tied to emotional health, maybe not), and

– emotional health (hmmm…. definitely cannot check, big fat red X).

WHEN MAMA’S NOT HAPPY, NOBODY’S HAPPY

What? Here I am, the advocate in my family for a healthier lifestyle. Sure I was emphasizing healthy foods, but I was totally disregarding emotional health. I knew that emotional stress could wreak havoc on one’s physical health, but in all honesty, I didn’t want to face the fact that I was causing ill health in my family.

Admittedly, I was influencing my family’s emotional health for the worse. You see, for the past 7 years, I have hated my mother-in-law. When we were in the same room, the tension was almost unbearable, for me, my mother-in-law, my husband, my parents. And, I’m sure my young son felt it too.

It wasn’t always like this though. Before getting married, my mother-in-law was a friend, a good friend. And the words ‘good’ and ‘friend’ can’t even begin to describe the bond we had had from the very beginning. Let’s just say, if I didn’t have a mother, she would have been the woman I would have loved to be mine. But after I married her only son, things changed. I don’t know how it all got out of hand, but it did and it was ugly.

EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL STRESS ON THE BODY

At the height of my rage, the emotional stress was so intense my heart would pound and race, my teeth would chatter uncontrollably, my whole body would shake and, in the summer, I would feel so cold. Not a picture of health, is it?!? I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t affect my body as traumatically as anger or hatred does.

According to the American Institution of Stress, emotional stress affects our immune system, gastrointestinal tract, skin and other organs, “hormones, brain neurotransmitters, additional small chemical messengers elsewhere, prostaglandins, as well as crucial enzyme systems, and metabolic activities that are still unknown.”

Yes, I was poisoning my own body. And at the same time, I was bringing my family’s emotional health down with me.

FEAR IS POISON

I had thought that taking the time and the energy to forgive my mother-in-law, freely accept her for all she is and just letting go of the hurts between us would be extremely difficult for me. I thought taking the time to intelligently, proactively or deliberately try to heal our relationship would completely drain me. I thought it would expose my ego’s vulnerabilities to her, which I was too eager to protect. So I just completely ignored her instead, which just added to her pain… and mine.

THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM IS ME

I was watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my son a few weeks ago and loved the song Truly Scrumptious. We would youtube it and watch it a few times a day. I don’t know why the song grabbed my attention so intensely, but it did. And the more I watched it, the more I envisioned my mother-in-law’s face on Truly’s. It was a bizarre experience, but all of a sudden, it moved me to see my mother-in-law in a whole different light. I saw a woman’s utmost joy expressed in the company of the children, the love she gave to them freely, her total present state of mind while she was with them and her sensitive bond with the children. Suddenly, I saw all the positives in my mother-in-law, where I once saw only negatives.

In my epiphany, I realized that the burden of the past 7 years continued to weigh down on me, because of no one else but me. It was I who needed to change my attitude, my behavior and my subjective point of view. As Thich Naht Hanh says,

“When some persons cause me to suffer… I should ask if I myself, in fact, may be one of the causes and conditions which makes them what they are.”

HEALING

For the past 3 weeks, my mother-in-law and I have had the most open, the most energizing, the most rewarding and the most loving experience we have ever shared together. What seemed like an irreparable relationship has been healed. Now, when I communicate with her, my heart jumps for joy, my whole body is energized and I feel warm all over. I can talk to my husband and my son about her with love and joy. Gone is the tension, the heaviness, the fear, the anger, the hatred, the suffering, the poison.

I feel emotionally healthier, physically lighter and spiritually lifted. I know my family has felt the change too. I am blessed with a mother-in-law who kept her door and heart open, ready and waiting for my return. Her kindness, forgiveness and love for me has taught me in turn how to love and how to live. Through my mother-in-law, I am beginning to really understand what it means to be a Mother and how to use the power we have as mothers to influence our family for the better.