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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!

 

Mama’s Now Cooking!

18 Feb

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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…)

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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.

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].”

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!

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!

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.

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.

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 3

30 Oct

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

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices

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

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

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

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

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

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

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

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 2

17 Oct

“Meat and milk really matter. 

Reduced consumption could

decrease the future emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture

to levels below those of 1995.” 

~ Alexander Popp of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ~

 

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

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices, limeade

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

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

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

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

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

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 1

10 Oct

  “Tell me and I’ll forget;

show me and I may remember;

involve me and I’ll understand.”

~ Chinese proverb ~

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

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

“Yes,” he replied.

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

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

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

 

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

We not only increase the likelihood of our being moved;

we also run the risk that being moved entails.

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

~ Robert Kegan, The Evolving Self ~

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

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

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 1

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices, flavored water

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

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

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

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

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

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

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

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

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

Hospital Feeds Cancer Patient Animal Based Meals and Processed Foods

19 Sep

Free Drinks for family or friends at the Hospital in the Surgical Waiting Room

What’s Wrong with Animal Based Foods and Processed Foods?

If you’ve watched the recent documentary Forks Over Knives, which is now available in DVD or on Amazon Instant Video or on Netflix, the message from highly respected and reputed doctors (Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Pam Popper, Dr. Dough Lisle, Dr. Terry Mason, Dr. Neal Barnard and Drs. Matthew Lederman and Alona Pulde) is clear and simple:

  • the quantity of animal based foods and processed foods consumption is directly correlated to degenerative diseases, especially heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and even erectile disfunction.
  • animal protein has shown that its addition into the diet alone can turn on and off cancer.
  • a whole foods plant based diet has the power to cure many diseases.
  • a whole foods plant based diet has the power to prevent many diseases.

Hospital Serves Cancer Patient Animal Based Meals and Processed Foods

Would you give an alcoholic a bottle of wine?  Would you temp someone who just quit smoking with a cigarette?  Then why do hospitals serve Cancer patients, and other patients who are struggling with health and possibly life itself, processed foods and animal products – the very foods that cause disease in the first place?

Last week, someone very close to my heart had a lung operation to remove cancer cells.  While I was undoubtedly saddened by the news, I was appalled at what kind of food was served to her at the hospital.  And this was in a very well known and respected hospital!

Her very first and subsequent drink offers at the hospital:

  • ginger ale with high fructose corn syrup with loads of ice
  • cranberry juice from a plastic tub (the kind that makes the juice taste like plastic)
  • apple juice concentrate from Argentina and China.

She also noted that she had quite a difficult time getting the nurses to give her just plain water without ice.

Her very first meal was breakfast:

  • oatmeal (the healthiest choice on the tray)
  • French toast
  • 2 pieces of greasy bacon (after surgery? really?) and 
  • canned fruit.

Lunch:

  • turkey and gravy
  • mashed potatoes (with butter?),
  • green beans and grapes (at least!).

Dinner:

  • beef stew and
  • broccoli (another at least!).

Snacks: Family and friends were offered ice cream, which was full of  artificial ingredients except for the first ingredient, milk.

The total ignorance in choices offered by the hospital’s food service is appalling but not really surprising.  I remind myself, this is probably how many people eat.  This is considered normal food.  But it is wrong on so many levels.

What To Do To Change What Hospitals Feed Patients?

While many of us are unable to make drastic changes to hospital food services, we can make our choices known!

For family and friends of patients, bring better options for your loved ones:

  • filtered water
  • raw healthy juices
  • fruits and
  • easily digested vegetables (i.e. pureed soups).

For patients: ask the hospital staff if they have Vegan options.

A 4 Year Old Omnivore Loves Raw Vegan Foods

17 Aug

Lia requested Raw Pink Smoothie for her Fourth Birthday

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

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

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

Yummy Kale Salad for Dinner!

Chomping away!

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

An Omnivore Family

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

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

An Omnivore Family Highlights Raw Vegan Food

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

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

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

An Omnivore Little Girl Loves Raw

What are Lia’s favorite Raw Vegan Foods?

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

How much Raw does she eat?

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

Encouraging Raw Vegan Foods @ Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Cris for taking time for the interview! 

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

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

Peace @ the Healthy Table: What Does It Take?

28 Jul

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

What Happens When A Veggie Marries An Omni?

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

Then Kids Come Along… and the dynamics drastically change…

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

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

Yes, I’ve been there too!

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

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

Take Just One Step At A Time, Slowly Does It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does It Take To Make Peace @ My Table?

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

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

Similar Posts/Resources

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

Free APP Gets Kids Excited About Eating Fruits and Veggies

How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health

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

FREE APP Gets Kids Excited About Eating Fruits and Veggies

26 Jul

Munch 5 Home Page

Got a tech-loving kid?  Want him or her to get excited about eating fruits and veggies? 

Munch-5-A-Day does just that.  And it is deliciously FREE!

I discovered it last week and it has been very popular at our house because it engages kids with its game-like feel.  Thought all you Mamas out there would love it too.

What I Love

  • you can set your own goals, so it doesn’t have to be just 5-a-day.  Right now, ours is set for 8 a day which is the average fruit and veggie consumption for my preschooler.  The highest goal is 12 a day.
  • it engages and empowers my son to eat his fruits and veggies, without me having to nag him.  Very IMPORTANT!

 

Munch 5 Badges

What My Son Loves

  • the sounds it makes when he taps the fruit and vegetable icons to record his daily consumption
  • the badges that he ‘wins’ – or rather, the app keeps him looking forward for the badges after recording his daily consumption because a badge isn’t given everyday.
  • the self-motivation of trying to reach his goal. My son keeps wanting to tap the fruit or vegetable icon, but I keep reminding him he has to eat it first in order to record his progress.  An empowering tool!
  • looking at his own fruit and veggie progress report.  By turning your device horizontally, you can view your progress for the past 7 or 30 days.  Last night, when he saw his progress report for the first time, he smiled saying “I ate all that?”

 

Munch 5 Progress

 

An Added Bonus

  • you can ‘share’ your successes with friends over Twitter and Facebook

Do We Have To Love What We Eat?

12 Jul
My son actually enjoying this salad!

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

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

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

Should We Have Fun Now and Pay For It Later?

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

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

Why Do I Believe In A Plant-Based Diet?

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

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

My Solution

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

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

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

Top 7 Fave Healthy Eating Habits on Vacation

8 Jul

I loved being a panelist on Healthy Child Healthy World’s  “On The Road Again: Eating Healthy on Vacation” Twitter Party. And, I was humbled to be part of a group of  amazing women who advocate for healthier nutrition for children:

As soon as the party ended, I immediately wanted to tell my husband about what we discussed at the party and I want to share them here with you!  Here are my 7 fave tips that help create healthier eating habits while on the road:

1. Invest in a cooler.

2. Plan ahead and make your own food to last the whole road trip.  Store it in the cooler.

3. Book accommodations with a kitchen, so you can make your own meals.

4. Bypass any fast food chain and any other restaurant with a drive-through.  Go to a Farmer’s Market instead or a grocery store with an organic produce section.

5. At a restaurant,

a) choose Vegan or Vegetarian Foods (unless you trust that their meat is organic, if you eat meat).

b) choose foods that are not fried, battered, have artificial ingredients or that contain possible allergens.

c) share a portion of your adult meal with your kids… try not to order from the kid’s menu.

6. Forget renting a car.  Walk everywhere.

7. Enjoy your family time!  Relax with your family, talk with them and have fun together!

On The Road Again: Eating Healthy on Vacation (Twitter Party)

7 Jul

Summer is officially here and the kids are out of school…it’s the perfect time for a family getaway! Are you planning a trip this summer? Will you fly, drive or sail? Whether you’re traveling by planes, trains or automobiles, making healthy choices when you’re away from home can be a challenge.

Join us Thursday July 7th at 6pmPST/9pmEST to tweet about healthy eating tips while on vacation. We’ll talk about your traveling experiences, best foods to eat on the go and more!

I am the only Raw Vegan (maybe even Vegan) Mama on the panel.  Come join in the conversation!

Sign up HERE!

Q and A with Vegan Mama, Chef, Restauranteur and Author of Vegan Family Meals: Ann Gentry

6 Jul

As part of Ann Gentry‘s Blog Tour for her new book Vegan Family Meals, we have featured her delicious recipes (Garlic-Sesame Kale Chips and her My Niçoise Salad) with a raw twist here on Mama in the Kitchen.  In her professional life, she has been in the forefront of the Vegan and Green Food Movements: Ms. Gentry owns two Vegan restaurants, Real Food Daily in Santa Monica and Hollywood serving 100% Vegan foods, she hosts a cooking show, Naturally Delicious, she is the author of The Real Food Daily Cookbook and the executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine. But what I really wanted to get to know was Ann Gentry, the Mama in her own Kitchen… so here is my interview with her, which I want to share with you.

Q&A with Ann Gentry

Carissa: As a Raw Vegan Mama today, I am only too aware of our culture that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle and the Standard American Diet.  How have you been able to bring your children up in a counter culture, being a Vegan chef, restauranteur, author and mother?  How have you created a family culture that allowed your children and husband to embrace the Vegan diet and lifestyle?

Ann: At my house, my kids are vegan.  At birthday parties, or other social occasions at their friend’s houses, they eat vegetarian.  We allow them to eat these “non-vegan” foods from time to time, NOT to supplement their vegan diet as there are no supplements to an already ideal diet, but rather allow them joy, comfort and participation in their childhood social settings. My kids get plenty of protein from beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy foods. I love it that they prefer non-dairy Cheeses to cow’s cheese any day.

Carissa: Have your children chosen to be Vegan themselves? 

Ann: I tell them they are in this family for a reason and eating a plant-based diet is one of them! My 12-year-old daughter early on understood the implications of an animal based diet and was perplexed as to how people could live in this world, eating animals while having others as pets.

Carissa: What are (or have been) your family’s top favourite Vegan meals?

Ann: Nachos – corn chip with black beans and my cashew cheese.  Recipe in Vegan Family Meals on page 57.  Tacos and enchiladas made with beans. Mac ‘n’ Cheez – I worked so hard to perfect this recipe for Vegan Family Meals.  The joke around my house is everyone is burnt out eating it.  Recipe on page 152 called Baked penne and cauliflower w/ Cheesy Sauce.   Right now, both kids are eating the Acai Bowl with My Super Hippie Granola everyday.  The granola is also a dish that both kids love to help make.  See first recipes in the book.

Carissa: At your restaurants, what are the favorite dishes that non-Vegan patrons order?

Ann: Most people eating at Real Food Daily are not vegans or vegetarians, instead they are health minded eaters who are looking for clean delicious tasting food served to them in a clean and stylish ambiance with friendly educated service. Everyone has the same favorites, to name a few: the daily specials and soups, all the hot entrees are popular, The Club Sandwich, our burger w/ the Works.

Carissa: I am all for ‘un-processing‘ my family’s food and making everything from scratch, so many Vegan ready-made products are not something I would readily buy.  My boys still crave their meat and don’t like beans at all, what dishes would you recommend a Vegan Mama prepare to help her family transition to a more Vegan diet?

Ann: In the world of plant proteins besides beans, there are the soy products such as seitan also called wheat-meat, tempeh and tofu.  These foods can be made into tasty dishes using condiments that bring texture and flavor to them.  I too stay away from the overly processed faux meats.  I find my kids will eat soy-based dishes such as Frittata on page 17.  The texture is creamy and pleasurable.  Also, nuts and seeds are great sources for protein.

One simple thing that has worked for me is always having one consistent dish on the table.  This is one way I’ve introduced new foods or dishes.  Right now, I always place a bowl of steamed brown rice on the table. This is the fall back to peaky eaters. If they don’t like what I’ve prepared, then they can eat the rice.  This is not a punishment, I just tell my kids our home is not a restaurant, if they don’t like the foods I prepared then their other choice is the rice.   So, you might try new foods you want to introduce using this method.  It has worked for me as my kids love brown rice.  In fact, it is now time to change the consistent dish on my dinner table to something new.

Carissa: I am a Raw Vegan Mama and wonder do you have any favourite Raw Vegan Foods?

Ann: I appreciate living foods and on occasion really enjoy them as a meal. My all time favorite is Lydia’s Luna Nori Crackers.  Not only are they raw and vegan but they are gluten free too.  I love these, so satisfying, great with any spread or dip.

Carissa: Thank you Ms. Gentry!  I very much appreciate your time and your generosity in sharing your wonderful Vegan tips with all of us!

Why Is The Sugar Always Sweeter On The Other Side?

5 Jul

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

The Problem

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

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

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

What Happens

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

My Realization

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

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

The Solution

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

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

I hope it works!

Are Your Kids Allergic To Food —Or What’s In It?

28 Jun

By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director/CEO
Healthy Child Healthy World www.healthychild.org

This week, it’s all about food. A study released by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found that childhood food allergies are twice as common as experts previously thought, with one in 13 kids affected, WebMD reported.

The survey of 38,000 was the largest ever to track childhood food allergies in the United States, and found that eight percent of kids under 18 are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish as the top three offenders. Previous studies, including a government survey published in 2009, had estimated four percent. Many food allergies are mild, but this new study found that 40% of children had experienced severe, potentially life-threatening reactions.

Why are these childhood staples now considered poisonous to so many? Some are pointing fingers at new introductions of genetically modified organisms. Find out why our kids may not be allergic to food—they may be allergic to what’s in our food—at HealthyChild.org.

When A Green Salad Just Won’t Do! Top 6 Ways To Get Kids To Love Plant-Based Food Again!

21 Jun

Look familiar? This is the "I don't think I can eat this!" look.

My fabulous niece Lia loves raw Kale Salad and Green Smoothies, but a piece of plain lettuce may be asking her for too much!  How many kids have you seen do this exact same thing? Many! And there are even more who won’t even touch any kind of vegetable.

A few months ago, when Karen Ranzi came to speak at our local university, she was so excited to see my 4 year old son eat a Banana Lettuce Wrap (below) and exclaimed “Wow! We need to take a picture of that!”  Unfortunately, as he grows up and gets more exposed to the Standard American Diet, his preference for unhealthy ‘normal American’ foods has escalated.  Recently, he has exclaimed: “No more Green Salads for me!  Only Green Smoothies!”

Banana Date Lettuce Wrap: a very simple meal

What’s a Mama to do? 

I knew this wouldn’t be easy.  So I have armed myself with new ways to get my little one to love eating unprocessed plant-based whole foods again. Here’s what I make sure we have:

1. A variety of fresh fruit in the house, for breakfast, snacks and/or pre-dinner munchies.

2. Lots of GREEN Smoothies in the house.

3. My niece Lia just discovered GREEN Smoothie Popsicles and loves them.  We have loved them in the summer time too!  Simply place leftover Green Smoothie into your popsicle molds and voila! another treat with nutritional benefits! By the way, we love our BPA free popsicle molds!

My son loves his popsicle from a Blueberry Green Smoothie!

3. Get the JUICER out for GREEN Juices.  If they won’t eat the salad, they can definitely drink them (as long as they are yummy!).  For most kids, this means a mixture of fruit and vegetable juices.  Although it is hard work, it is worth any Mama’s time: fresh green juices go directly into our cells and work their wonders.

4. Mix raw and cooked together for Half & Half! Yes, definitely the easier way to get the family to eat more fresh raw veggies.

Asparagus and Tomato Salad: cooked asparagus and raw tomatoes with Balsamic Vinaigrette (this is great with Broccoli and Tomatoes too!)

Zucchini Pasta topped with Cooked Lentils... you can always try!

Vegetable Sushi: my family loves Avocado, we use raw untoasted Nori... and yes that's white rice, they prefer it that way... maybe because they feel it's more authentic?

5. Prepare more COOKED PLANT-BASED options at each meal so that the family doesn’t crave other SAD (Standard American Diet) Foods.  This is important and something I often forget because I am so involved in making something Raw Vegan at each meal.  As I add more home-cooked vegan options at every meal, my family craves less for the unhealthier cooked fare.  Some of their Vegan faves: Japanese Vegetable Pancakes, Buckwheat Soba Noodles, Vegetable Sushi, Steamed Sweet Potato, Steamed Artichokes, Baked Potato Chips, Peanut (or Raw Almond) Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Pasta Alfredo, Pasta with a very simple Tomato Sauce, Chinese Dumplings, Sloppy Joes, Fajitas, Zucchini Bread… They don’t seem to like beans all that much.

6. Remind them that there are Raw Vegan Cookies and other Sweets too.  While I prefer fresh foods, I do make some treats for my family occasionally as well.

Other Resources:

How To Transition The Family Into More Raw Vegan Foods

Top 10 Tips To Get Your Kids To Eat Fruits and Veggies

Top 12 Kid-Friendly Year-Round Raw Superfoods

Top 10 Questions on the Raw Vegan Diet

17 Jun

From a Restaurant Menu

UN-PROCESSED foods is what is important to me and my family. In getting rid of all the processed foods in our pantry, it made sense to increase foods that were at the other end of the spectrum: raw, fresh, organic, in-season fruits and vegetables.  For the past 2 years, my husband and son opted to eat at least 50% Raw Vegan Foods, with the other 50% cooked whole foods made from scratch.  I am on my 3rd year as a Raw Vegan (about 100%) and although I feel great, I am now contemplating adding more cooked whole Vegan foods into my diet.  Like I state below a few times, in my opinion, it would be a better choice to eat a plain steamed sweet potato than a big piece of raw cheese cake loaded with cashews and sweetener.  Also, some foods just taste better when they are slightly cooked (artichokes for example).  And some foods are not toxic when cooked (raw green beans were horrible for me for example).  However, on the whole, it is important for people to consider adding more RAW fruits and vegetables into their family’s diets because of the added nutritional and health benefits To help you understand what we have learned about adding more Raw Vegan Foods into our diets, here are the top 10 questions we get asked regularly.

1. Will my skin glow on a Raw Vegan Diet?

YES.  No doubt about it!

Although I have always looked young, I don’t think I’ve aged much either.  And since switching to a Raw Vegan Diet, I’ve had my share of compliments on my glowing facial skin.  Not only that, but my overall skin is clearer.   I grew up with constant whiteheads all over my arms and blackheads all over my legs. My dermatologists would charge me for different creams, shampoos and other quick-fixes which never worked.  Just 1 month after I turned Raw Vegan, all of these skin inflammations were gone and I had not one white or black head on my body.  I have since discovered that it is after I eat some foods sautéed in oil that I usually break out with a bump or two.

My son, who has had terrible eczema, now is at least 50% Raw also has beautiful flawless skin.  Hubby’s skin looks the same.

2.  Will I have a lot of energy on the Raw Vegan Diet?

YES.  On a balanced Raw Vegan Diet, I have more energy ‘to go the extra mile’ in situations where I did not before.  My husband has noted that I do much more and complain much less, especially when I need to clean up…  😉

3. Will I sleep less on the Raw Vegan Diet?

DEPENDS.  A lot of Raw Foodies really believe that they don’t need much sleep.  I used to get by with 5 hours of sleep a night on my first year of raw.  Now, on my third, I prefer about 7 hours.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I am more inclined to get sick.  So, I think this depends on the person.  Also, having a lot of energy while awake doesn’t equate to needing less sleep.

4.  Can I eat whatever I want on a Raw Vegan Diet?

NO.  I met a Raw Vegan once and she said on a Raw Vegan diet there isn’t a pyramid or plate chart to follow, “just eat whatever you feel like.”  Well… some famous Raw Vegans have become sick from an unbalanced diet of too many sweets and heavy foods (such as fruit, sweeteners, nuts), and too little greens (where the bulk of raw vegan nutrition is). Many long-time Raw Vegans have added raw dairy, raw egg and raw fish back into their diets because they felt something was missing.  Like any diet, a Raw Vegan must pay attention to daily balanced nutrition.  In my opinion, it would be a better choice to eat a plain steamed sweet potato than a big piece of raw cheese cake loaded with cashews and sweetener, for example.

What I have discovered on a Raw Vegan Diet is that I can easily pinpoint what my body needs by being sensitive to little changes.  I have found that I need to supplement with iodine, zinc and B12, for example.

(Resource: Raw Vegan Ingredients and Foods Raw Vegans Avoid)

5. Can I gain weight on a Raw Vegan Diet?

YES. You actually can gain weight and some people have!  If you eat a lot of nuts, avocados and oils, you can gain weight on a Raw Vegan Diet.  That said, it is easy to maintain your weight on a Raw Vegan Diet if you have a tendency to gain weight.  But you can also lose a lot of weight and have difficulty putting on some.

One thing that I have discovered is that I crave a lot of GREENS.  When I do crave other foods, I don’t eat a whole lot of it to feel satisfied.  When I get hungry, I don’t get “I-need-to-eat-now!!!” mad like I used to.

6. Will I get sick on a Raw Vegan Diet?

People have cured themselves off many diseases on the Raw Vegan Diet, which is testament to its efficacy. But, YES.  It’s not that we never get sick by adding more raw produce into our diets, but we get sick much less.

On 100% Cooked Foods, my husband and son were sick at least once a month.  I was sick less, but perhaps more than a few times a year.  After adding more Raw Vegan foods into our diet, we are all sick much less and our immune systems are much stronger.  By combining more Raw foods with exercise, sleep, time outdoors for sun and fresh air and more time to relax, we are creating a much healthier lifestyle for our family.

Note: The one thing that Raw Vegans must watch out for is food poisoning.  We have to be vigilant in washing our produce before we feed our family.  Animal foods are not the only foods that carry E. coli these days!  Also look at question #4.

7. 100% Raw Vegan is the only way to go!

NO.  Some people add only 25% Raw – and still feel the added benefits.  Many prefer to eat 50% Raw, but the term Raw Vegan describes people who are at least 75% Raw.  Although your family may prefer cooked foods, by adding live foods to your diet a little at a time, you and your family may be surprised how much Raw foods you are actually eating and enjoying in the process: a fresh fruit for breakfast, big salads for lunch and dinner, green smoothies and fresh juices at mealtimes or snack times, and raw desserts.

8. Is All Cooked Food poison?

NO.  Although a lot of Raw Vegans believe all cooked food is poison, I cannot make such a blanket statement.  What I like to say instead is that processed foods are poison!  What is most important is to UN-PROCESS the foods our families eat to improve their health.  We need to focus on foods prepared from raw, fresh, organic, local and seasonal whole foods – whether Raw or Lightly Cooked.  Like I said before, in my opinion, eating a plain steamed sweet potato is better than eating a big piece of raw cheesecake loaded with cashews and sweetener, for example.

9. Is it more expensive to add Raw Vegan foods to my family’s diet?

YES and NO.    It is true that buying organic produce is expensive, but I buy them on sale.  In our favourite health food store, produce is 30% off on certain days.  That’s when I buy!  A savings of 30% is tremendous.   And, if I cooked all the produce I already buy, I’d have to buy even more.  My family would want to eat double the amount of servings of  cooked foods as they would the same food served fresh, which is more filling.

Most restaurants serve salads these days! I ask them to make a big bowl of any fresh and raw veggies they have.

10. I won’t be able to eat out on a Raw Vegan Diet and I’ll have to learn to be satisfied with boring food!

NO.  Most restaurants have fruit and vegetables on the menu.  I order salads or slightly cooked vegetables for my family when we eat out.  There are also so many options available today for eating more Raw Vegan Fare.  In my own city, for example, we have our local Good Life Café.  In DC, we love going to Java Green where they serve Raw and Cooked Vegan fare.  In NYC, we have loved Pure Foods and Wine.  In London, we visit SAF Kensington on top of Whole Foods.  All their menus are interesting and their food delicious!  Just look at my Food Photos and you can see that Raw Vegan Food is far from boring.  There is an abundance of fruits, vegetables and dishes to eat and enjoy!

I Like Vegetables Video for your Kids!

9 Jun

Always on a lookout for more marketing strategies on getting kids to eat healthier, I was thrilled when a friend sent this to me.  I can add this to my #7  tip out of my top 10 tips to get my son to eat more fruits and veggies.

A… a… a.. I LIKE MY VEGETABLES!

Thank you Kathy!

Top 5 Appliances That Make This Raw Vegan Mama’s Life Easier

8 Jun

I love being in the kitchen.  But most of all, I love being with my family.  Here are my top 5 must-have appliances that help me feed my family nutritious food and give me more time with the people I love.

1. My Spice Grinder

My Spice Grinder

I use a Coffee Grinder to grind up my spices and flax seeds in seconds.  No pounding away with my mortar and pestle!

2. My Personal Blender

My Personal/Travel Blender

I bought this for my son as suggested by my friend and author of Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods Karen Ranzi.  She said her kids would use it as they played restaurant in their kitchen by making their own green smoothie concoctions.  My son loves it, but I actually use it more than he does!

Sometimes I just want Chocolate Milk or need a small batch of salad dressing or need to make my son’s Cough Syrup.  With this machine, I can whip it up in a minute and when I’m done, I can place the dirty cup and lid in the dishwasher.  Plus, when I travel, I can take it along!

3. My Food Processor

My Food Processor

It slices, grates, mixes and can puree sauces.  I love that grating is made easy because my family will eat grated hard veggies.  And I love that this machine saves me so much time!

4. My Dehydrator

My Dehydrator

Want to get your family away from processed foods?  Try making them Veggie Chips, Raw Bread and Raw Oatmeal Cookies!  I also make my own raw flour by dehydrating sprouted grains or nuts or seeds.

5. My High Speed Blender

My Vitamix

Not a day goes by without us using our Vitamix.  It will make any drink, smoothie or veggie soup smooth and silky!  Frozen fruits (such as bananas) are rendered creamy like ice cream.  Sprouted dehydrated grains are processed into fine powder.  The possibilities are endless.  I would highly recommend this appliance to anyone who wants to add more raw foods into their diet.

Resources:

More Appliances here.

I would love to have added a juicer to this list, but we simply don’t juice every week because it just takes so much of my time and it requires buying so much more produce than we already do.

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food

26 May

Let’s Un-Process Our Children’s Food:

prepare everything from scratch and

eliminate processed foods as much as possible.

Organic Candy without High Fructose Corn Syrup... Is it better? (answer below)

Can a Vegetarian Diet be BAD?

I ‘got’ it. I was vegetarian in high school and college because I learned that a plant-based diet was better for my health and for the planet.  But on a vegetarian diet, I was sluggish and gained at least 20 pounds in my first semester of college.  Even my own mother didn’t recognize me at the airport when she came to pick me up for Christmas break.  I had to stand right in front of her, wave my hands before her eyes and say “Hi!”  It is definitely not a fond homecoming memory.

I confess I did go a little food crazy in college. Sugar-coated cereal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Countless dining hall visits for Ranch dressing, Honey Mustard dressing, Mayonnaise, American cheese melts, Pesto Pasta, cookies, ice cream with sprinkles galore at the dining hall. I also got a job at the Student Center Cafe, thinking I would learn how to cook for myself.  Well, I didn’t learn a thing.  The only thing I did learn was how to use the griddle and fryer, slap flat foods together to make sandwiches and slice tomatoes.  Everything else was pre-packaged and pre-made somewhere else. Looking back, I realize that most of the food I bought or ate or touched were highly processed foods – not whole foods.

A Processed Culture

I understand why we are attracted to ready-made convenience foods: they do not require much work or energy.  We want food NOW without having to work for it.  We want to be healthy but we don’t want to put the effort into actually preparing our meals directly from whole foods.  We want things EASY.

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 or not.

The Difference

Consider this: When a fruit or vegetable is 5 days old, it will contain only 40% of it’s original nutrients.  How about processed foods with long shelf-lives?

Plant-based whole-foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  They are in their natural state and are not packaged, canned, bottled or boxed.  Most of the time, you can eat them fresh (washed or not) or they may require some time and attention (cleaning, prepping, dressing/marinating, cooking).

Processed foods, on the other hand, require little time and attention.  Most are ready to eat as is (junk food) or require some cooking (frozen dinners).  They are foods that have been so drastically altered from their natural state.  They are anything canned, boxed, bottled and packaged.  They are foods that are full of preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial coloring. They include anything refined (like white flours and sugars), any hydrogenated fats, any processed meats, anything with soy fillers, artificial food grade chemicals and additives.  

Plant-based processed foods are a whole niche market dedicated to serving ready made Veggie Meats and Veggie Dairy to vegans and vegetarians.  Unfortunately, these are highly processed foods too, containing especially high amounts of soy (most of which is genetically modified).

What’s The Big Deal?

Although we call them ‘food’, processed foods are not readily recognized by the bodyThey are seen as alien matter and our white blood cells will be on attack mode as soon as they enter our system.  Processed foods create toxins in our systems and cause degenerative diseases.  For our planet, processed foods require more energy and packing material.  Most of all, processed foods create more waste.

What’s more? 75% of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients – even foods labeled organic!  Of all seeds planted in the US, 93% of all soy, 86% of all corn and 93% of all canola seeds are genetically modified. According to Monica Eng of the Los Angeles Times, their bi-products “have become such common ingredients in processed foods that even one of the nation’s top organic food retailers says it hasn’t been able to avoid stocking some products that contain them.” People are generally unaware of foods containing GMOs: only 26% of Americans think they have eaten anything genetically modified and only 28% believed genetically modified ingredients were sold in stores.

The Ills of GMO

There has not been a long-term human study conducted to prove genetically modified organisms are safe.  A peer-reviewed paper GM Crops – Just The Science by The Non-GMO Project states that genetically modified ingredients:

  • “can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • can disrupt the ecosystem, damage vulnerable wild plant and animal populations and harm biodiversity
  • increase chemical inputs (pesticides, herbicides) over the long term
  • deliver yields that are no better, and often worse, than conventional crops
  • cause or exacerbate a range of social and economic problems
  • are laboratory-made and, once released, harmful GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment.”

Repercussions: Our Children’s Health

Studies have shown that processed foods are contributing to our children’s emotional and/or health disorders.  Recently, processed foods have been shown to adversely affect our children’s intelligence.  And yet, processed foods are still everywhere: in home kitchens, restaurants, cafeterias, and worse of all, they are used as gifts and rewards for children.

A few months ago, my friend Christina told me her children’s teacher at school was still giving Potato Chip parties every Friday for the best performing student of the week.  The kids also received daily Candy Rewards for good behavior.  My niece Lia is only in preschool and candy rewards are there too.  And it doesn’t end at school.  There are always boxed juices, frosted cupcakes and pinatas full of more candy at birthday parties. Doctors visits end with lollipops. People who want to do good, like Cookies for Cancer, raise money for cancer research by selling cookies with vegetable shortening, white sugar, sweetened condensed milk, packaged refrigerated cookie dough and Angel Coconut Flakes. Then there is Easter Bunnies, then Halloween Trick or Treating, then Holiday Sweets…  These are all occasions for highly processed foods with genetically modified soy, corn and canola products no doubt.

What adults are essentially saying to children is “You are so good!  Here’s some junk food that causes disease!” Why does our culture encourage this shameful and imbalanced exchange? Is it correct to reward our good children with processed foods containing empty calories and zero nutrients?  Is it right that we give them foods that negatively affect their future health?  Is it acceptable that by rewarding with these processed foods that children will be more resistant to eating whole foods?  Is it suitable that we are allowing children to crave junk foods by using them as rewards? According to Joanne Ikeda, a nutrition education specialist highly regarded for her work on childhood obesity, these are all the factors why foods (especially candy) must not be used as rewards for good behavior.

What’s A Mama To Do?

After a whole year of my son pestering me for the same lollipops he’s seen other kids eating (“Mama, REAL lollipops not my Banana Lollipops“), I finally ran out of distraction tactics or maybe he just wore me down.  So the other day, this Raw Vegan Mama succumbed to buying organic processed lollies for her son.  He’s only allowed 1 a week, which he rarely remembers and hubby and I conveniently forget to remind him.  The top 3 ingredients are: organic evaporated cane juice, organic tapioca syrup and organic rice syrup.  Not bad, no high-fructose corn syrup at least.  But all 3 ingredients are still processed foods. I sigh – almost defeated.  If you’ve read Is Sugar Toxic? you wouldn’t want your children to consume any kind of processed sugars either.

Resources on Plant-Based Whole Foods Diet

Blue Vinyl, The China Study, The Cove, Diet For A New AmericaFood Matters, Forks Over Knives, Mad Cowboy