Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Party Potato Salad

I was really very excited when I found a vegan potato salad at the Whole Foods deli counter. Their food is so good! They have a vegan pesto sauce that is divine, unfortunately they don't sell it. *Note to self* create a vegan pesto!  When I tried their potato salad I thought to myself I MUST MAKE this!! At over $8 a pound I thought it had to be cheaper to make my own version.  Especially when I wanted to serve it not only for my little one's first birthday party but also at the Memorial Day vegaque the hubby and I had this past Monday.  

It took a couple of versions (okay, by me!) until I found one that just made me smile. I believe it was just as good, if not better, than what I found at Whole Foods.  

6-7 cups white potatoes (or red), chopped (bite sized pieces)
Water for boiling the potatoes, should cover by 1 inch
1 cup Veganaise 
1/2 Tablespoon Stone Ground Mustard, if you like dijon more that works too
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons pickle relish (my favorite is Whole Foods brand)
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 medium carrots, small dice
1/4-1/2 red onion, small dice
1 mini bell pepper (optional)

Place potatoes in cold water, covered by about 1 inch, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer until fork tender, 20-25 minutes. Depending on size of the potato.  When done, drain and let cool.

Mix all other ingredients in a small boil and refrigerate while the potatoes cool allowing the flavors to incorporate.  Place cooled potatoes in a large bowl and add the dressing, mix well. 

**I like to add a pinch of salt and pepper to the potatoes themselves before adding the dressing. This is totally optional.**

Note: I find that the potato salad tastes best the day it's been made. It's good the next as well but I find it's best the day it's made. 

I hope you enjoy this lovely summer salad. Enjoy at picnics, BBQ's, vegaque's, or for burger night at home.

Cheers and happy eating!

Playlist: iTunes random
The Psychedelic Furs - Love my Way
Decoded Feedback - Psy-Storm
Daft Punk - End of Line
Happy Mondays - WFL (special club mix)
Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Interpol - C'mere

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Menu for the week of May 27, 2012 thru June 2, 2012

This week I asked the hubby to pick one meal, he grabbed some of my cookbooks and got to looking around. He settled on his favorite cookbook, Veganomicon.  

I chose the rest, including for the Memorial Day Holiday.

Sunday: 5/27/12
What I had initially written down to make was stir-fry but the hubby is now going for a last minute guys night and I had started the chili early this morning to go atop the burgers for tomorrow. So, since I don't want to make a fuss on a night that I get to be home watching chick flicks (after the little one goes down) we will have chili with rice this evening for dinner. Yum!! I may make cornbread as well.

Monday: 5/28/12
It's Memorial Day, the mark of summer! We will be grilling up some black bean burgers and possibly some vegan hot dogs. I have chili to go on top and I'll be making the veg-veeta dip from LTEV as well. Great topper!! You can find that recipe here. I'm really looking forward to these burgers! I'll make up some potato salad and corn on the cob. 

Tuesday: 5/29/12
It's salad night! To go with I'll be making Jerk Veggie Kabobs from Eat Raw Eat Well. It's going to a raw night! Yay! Last week was a hit so I look forward to these Jerk Kabobs!

Wednesday: 5/30/12
Seeing as I make a ton of chili each time we will be using the leftovers for chili dogs! We don't have my BK until Wednesday and he likes chili so it's a good time for him to have some too! Corn on the cob will be served as well (BK loves it!) along with some soycatash from Trader Joe's.

Thursday: 5/31/12
Avocado melt panini with sweet potato fries. Inspiration from a book I saw at our local used bookstore, Bookman's.  Sounds quite tasty!

Friday: 6/1/12
No cook friday night! Leftovers. Whatever is in the fridge. Or a night out. We'll see when we get there.

Saturday: 6/2/12
The night of the hubby pick. He chose Pineapple Cashew Quinoa stir-fry. Sauteed vegetables on the side. Probably whatever we get from the CSA. We do have squash left and BK likes squash. Sauteing in some coconut oil would make it all go together very well. 

It's getting hotter outside so simple is always the best! These simple meals will keep our bellies full but not heavy (not what we want during the hot summer months!)

Cheers and happy eating!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

J's Summer Squash Soup

I planned on making an Indian dish for dinner this evening when the hubby and I both felt that our stomachs were a tad in knots. I believe we probably ate something that did not agree with us, perhaps the potato salad we had at lunch. Instead of a heavy meal we opted for a lighter summer (albeit hot) soup.

I looked around the pantry and the fridge for fresh items and threw it in to make this delicious soup! It may be hot outside but this soup was quite refreshing. The only item we didn't have that I wished we had was a nice crusty bread. Next time because this is a keeper, recipe wise.

Things you will need:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
3 cups summer squash, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 14 ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup orzo pasta (or other small pasta)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste, plus a pinch of salt to add to vegetables when sauteing

Things to do:
Heat oil in a large stock pot and add the vegetables, dried herbs, and bay leaf, with a pinch of salt. Cook 6-8 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.  Add the beans and cook another 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, low to a simmer. Simmer for 30-35 minutes. About 9 minutes before the cook time end add 1 cup of orzo.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. With about 1 minute before the soup is complete add the balsamic vinegar, parsley, and lemon juice. 

Enjoy with crusty bread. I've been adding hemp seeds to most everything lately because it adds extra protein. Feel free to add some if you have them on hand. Hemp seeds contain 10 essential amino acids which makes them a complete protein. 3 tablespoons equals 11 grams of protein. I add them to everything now! Great way to get protein without inhibiting taste too much. My little one loves hemp seeds in her soy yogurt in the mornings. Big plus! Speaking of my little one, J, absolutely loved this soup. She clapped after each bite!

Cheers and happy cooking!

No playlist this time. I do love music while cooking but this time I chatted with the hubby instead.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zucchini Bread

I'm no baker. I didn't enjoy baking classes in culinary school and I didn't enjoy working with the desserts at the restaurants I worked at either. Put me in front of a saute pan and I'm a happy girl. There is a running joke in my house about my baking. One night awhile back we had a brownie mix (yes, I used a mixed. I'm not a baker remember) and I thought I'd make some brownies for the hubby and BK. They were out for a run so I got started. They came home just as I was stirring the ingredients in a bowl. They both looked in and looked at me. Yes, in the bowl was a dark chocolate brick. I could barely stir it. I re-read the instructions and I realized I had forgotten the water. Yep, me, I forgot to add water. I can create many a dish from scratch but for some reason following instructions on a box baffles me. 

Now, whenever I attempt to bake I'm asked if I've added water!

For some reason after becoming plant powered/vegan I started baking more. I think I'm just trying to learn new cooking processes I have never done before. I'm so used to cooking/baking with butter and milk and all things animal based that I feel like I'm learning something new. 

About a month ago a friend told me about Market on the Move, a local company that "rescues" vegetables that would otherwise be thrown out at the supermarket. There is nothing wrong with the produce it just doesn't always look perfect. So, I went to check it out and came home with two flats of tomatoes and a flat of zucchini and squash. I got banana peppers in that batch as well. I made salsa,  tomato sauce and we had great roasted veggies for dinners. 

I sat and starred at the zucchini wondering what else I could do with it. I browsed the internet and found some vegan zucchini bread recipes. Not many though. I expected more. What I found were recipes with white flour, lot's of sugar, and way more oil than I would want to use. But, I made one and it was okay. I just wondered if I could do better. 

I've been using Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton a lot lately and remembered that in her book she uses lot's of different kinds of flours and sugar/sweeteners.  Okay, well I have those items so I'm just going to wing it.

I thought for sure I'd bake up a loaf of mush because, again, baking is not my forte!

Here is what I came up with. Don't be scared, it's not a lump of mush.

Ingredients List:

1 cup oat flour (I process organic rolled oats in the processor to make flour)
1 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup raw sugar (turbinado)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 cup over ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup non dairy milk

How to List:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan.

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients, sift in the baking powder and baking soda, mix well.  Set aside. In a small bowl add all the wet ingredients, including zucchini and banana. Stir well and make sure the banana is mashed well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated. 

Pour your bread mix into your loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.  Enjoy warm or save for later.

Well, here it is. My first baked goods recipe. I do hope you enjoy! Please feel free to comment and leave feedback if you make this. I'd love to hear what others think!

Cheers and happy eating!

Playlist: (iTunes on random)
U2 - Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix)
The Prodigy - Run with the Wolves
Ver Vlads - Crazy Ivan
Imperative Reaction - Judas
Depeche Mode - Freestate
Coldplay - Parachutes
Peter Gabriel - Red Rain
Skinny Puppy - Rain
Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Raw food is not scary!

My family and I decided back in December of 2011 to change our diet to whole food plant based. Vegan if you will.  The change over started in January of 2012 and we haven't looked back.  The hubby and I have watched several food documentaries this year and have decided to try a juice fast at some point this summer. Raw foods is another genre that has peaked our interests.  A lot has changed in just 4 months. I never thought I could become a vegan (nutritional vegan) let alone someone who enjoys raw foods. Or homemade juiced juices!!

Who have I become? I have amazed myself that is for sure!

For Mother's Day I received a copy of Eat Raw Eat Well by Doug McNish from the hubby.  Although it was a book I had asked for I was scared when I received it. What is raw food? Salad? Rabbit food? Lettuce? Cold food? What the heck would I be eating?

Doug has 400 Raw, Vegan, & Gluten-Free Recipes in this well organized book. 400 recipes! Really? This shocked me a bit. 400 recipes for raw foods. So, I took a gander.  I must say, I was intrigued. In this book there is a section for juices, this pleased me. I need more juice recipes! Juice recipes that include all the nutrients I will need.  There is a breakfast section, dips and spreads, soups, salads and dressings, sauces and condiments, main dishes, sides, snacks and breads, and desserts. This book is packed full of raw foods!

When I looked at the beautiful picture on the cover of this book I thought for sure there was pasta in the bowl.  To my amazement it was not pasta at all, it was parsnips and carrots.  Of course, I went looking for this particular recipe.

Pesto Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccine.  This recipe has many different healthy ingredients. From the carrots and parsnips to the hemp seeds and hemp oil, garlic and cilantro. I decided this would be my first recipe to make from this book.

I doubled the recipe to ensure left overs for lunch.  So, admittedly peeling the carrots and parsnips took quite awhile. Raw food is not fast food. But, it's well worth the wait! I made the pesto and set it aside so I could make a side dish to go with dinner.

I started flipping through the book for a suitable side dish. Wow, what great sounding recipes! Red Beet Ravioli, Jicama Fries, Raw Tamales, Moroccan Chickpea Stew. To name a few.

I chose portobella carpaccio because I had the ingredients and I've found a new love for mushrooms I never had before. This recipe is fairly simple. You just need about an hour to leave your mushrooms to sit in the sauce to marinade.  This recipe, however, does call for two other recipes to go with it. Cashew Feta Cheese and Spicy Red Pepper Flax Oil. I cleaned my food processor several times to get everything done.

This dish reminded me of pizza! Pizza with meats and cheeses. I'm not sure how but it did. I LOVED it! For someone who is new to the mushroom world (hated them before becoming vegan) I can't believe how much I loved this dish. The Cashew Feta Cheese gave it a bit of a crunch and bite, such a great combination. The Spicy Red Pepper Flax Oil sauce around the edge of the plate was divine! I didn't add as much cayenne as the recipe called for but it still had a great bite to it. I cannot wait to eat this for left overs. So good! The hubby liked it too. I think I'll be making these items to add to pizza at some point. I may just add these mushrooms to everything actually. They are THAT good!

Dinner took awhile to make, longer than anticipated. Making raw meals will be a bit more planned next time. I felt a bit unorganized making so many different items. As we won't be eating raw all the time I may reserve for weekends or make the sauces ahead of time to just throw things together. After finally locating Hemp Seed Oil I realized (because I doubled the fettuccine recipe) that it's pricey as well.  We stayed within our budget but I will definitely plan for that as well. But, to be fair once you have staple items to supplement will be less pricey.  I have to say, though, this dish was worth the time and effort.

I do wish I could express my pleasure in this dish. I am now a fan of raw foods. I look forward to delving more into this book in the future. Once I get a bit more used to the difference in preparation I will probably being using it weekly. I felt satisfied and light after this meal. It just felt clean to me.

I highly recommend this book. I highly recommend giving raw foods a chance. I believe non- vegans, non-raw foodies would love both these recipes, especially that mushroom dish! Wow!

Thank you to Doug McNish for creating such a wonderful book, Eat Raw Eat Well. You opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed a world I will never close the door on. Delicious, light, clean, fantastic.

Cheers and happy eating!

And One - Sternradio
Vast - Pretty When you Cry
CTRL - Grand Experiment
Anders Manga - One up for the Dying
Infadels - Girl That Speaks no Words

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Menu 5/20/12 thru 5/26/12

This weeks menu took me a bit to decide on. I have new cookbooks and I'd also like to include some of my own creations. I'm still working on my chili recipe and although it's summer here in Arizona I don't want to let it go by the wayside. I'm so close to it being ready to post!

Sunday 5/20/12:
Chili with rice and cornbread. I think this may be the last test before posting. It's so delicious!

Monday 5/21/12:
I'm going to give Raw a try. It will be a raw evening. Pesto Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettucini. I found this tasty recipe in Eat Raw Eat Well by Doug McNish.  I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. I don't know if this meal needs a side dish or not. If so, I'll make up a salad.

Tuesday 5/22/12:
Big Ole Salad night. I'm going to make a side of Red Quinoa Salad from Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan.

Wednesday 5/23/12:
Fiesta Bake, I'm hoping BK will like this dish. We shall see.  This recipe is out of Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon.  I'm also going to make up some soycatash, frozen veggies from Trader Joe's! I love it!!

Thursday 5/24/12:
Spaghetti and artichoke, olive marinara sauce. I'll make up some Meatless Meatballs from Trader Joe's for BK. Simple meal for a night when my little one has swim lessons late in the afternoon.

Friday 5/25/12:
No cook Friday night!! Yay!!

Saturday 5/26/12:
Chana Saag from Everyday Happy Herbivore. With chickpeas, spinach and Indian seasonings like garam masala I couldn't pass this recipe up. I'll make naan and rice as well.

I'll let you all know how the raw night goes. Any of you dabble with raw foods?  How'd it go for you?

Cheers and happy eating!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Before I became a biological mother last year I was a bonus mom to my wonderful Bonus Kid (BK).  Not to say I'm not still his bonus mom! :)  Being a bonus mom is both rewarding and challenging. When he is here in our home I know I need to "mother" him in ways but I also know he has a mother who has been and continues to leave me in awe at what a great parent she is.  I sometimes think, does BK really need another mom around?  He's a teenager, does he really want another mom around? And then he's here and he loves it. I'm just an added bonus.

I don't do much of the discipline but I do offer suggestions to the hubby before decisions are made. I know that BK has a set of parents and ultimately it is their call.  I guess that's where the challenge lies. How not to step on anyone's toes. I am incredibly blessed to be able to co-parent with a group of great parents though! It's what is best for BK and we all seem to work well with it.  He has four parents who love him more than life!

I didn't know that having a child of my own would change anything. And, in some regards it has not. I love both the kiddos very much. What I didn't realize is how I would fall so hard and so fast for such a beautiful being. My daughter is my world. She has brought out in me things I never knew existed. I have patience, I can give up control and I often don't mind if my house is a mess.  For those that know me, that is a HUGE deal! Being a biological mother is something I never knew I wanted THIS much. I never knew I would love THIS much. I never knew I could do it. I can and I am. I must say, I'm a pretty good mom!

Being a biological mom also gives me more of an appreciation for BK's mom. For her to share her boy with me leaves me in awe! She's is an incredibly strong woman to allow for another woman to step in and love her son as a son.  Thank you to BK's mom for the love you give to us daily.

Last year was my first Mother's Day as a bio-mom. It was lovely. I remember we went to our favorite burger joint and I'm pretty sure I had a burger with bacon and cheese and everything else that's NOT good for me. I guess I can look back now as it being a fond memory because I know longer want that. It was good at the time but to be honest I really like the light feeling I have after eating. ;)

This year, obviously, we didn't go to the burger joint. This year the hubby made some food.  I helped but I do really love being in the kitchen!  He picked out some recipes from Blissful Bites, one of my new cookbooks.  I think he was actually kind of excited.

Our menu for Mother's Day:
Tofu Scramble (the hubby was to decide what all he wanted in it the day of)
Summer Fruity Kale Salad - BB
Mixed Berry Couscous Surprise - BB
Orange Apricot Tea Buns - find the recipe here from Dreena Burton's Plant-Powered Website
Fruit Salad - made with love by my Mother-in-law

What a beautiful spread. (okay, I admit I need artwork in my dining area!)

We served up fresh kale because we love it mixed with the tofu scramble. I also made salsa for dinner the night before so that's a bonus for the scramble as well! What both the hubby and I forgot was fresh flowers! On Mother's Day, we forgot fresh flowers! Luckily I had some very pretty fake ones. Later in the evening my BK brought me a bouquet, quite beautiful! :)

My mom who is hesitant with vegan eating enjoyed the food. She did admit that it seemed something was missing, meat that is. But, to be honest the first week without meat left me feeling a longing for it. I didn't feel full or satisfied with my meals. That just takes time and I completely understand how she was feeling.

Summer Fruity Kale Salad, Orange Apricot Tea Buns and a big bowl of fresh kale

The kale salad was surprisingly good! I saw surprisingly because I don't usually eat fruit along with my salads. It's always been an odd mix. But, this salad, WOW! So good! What a great mixture of fruit, kale, jicama and coconut. Because I'm not a huge mint fan I will omit next time. The mint fan at the table loved the salad as is. Perhaps I will make both. This salad with be a staple side dish for sure!  The Orange Apricot Tea Buns reminded me of scones. They were moist in the middle, provided by the apricots and a bit crispy on the outside.  Like a toasted bread. They were delicious and a hit! My little one loved them too!

Tofu Scramble. Champagne for Mimosas

No two scrambles are alike in this house. This one was of no exception. I'm not sure what all the hubby threw in but it was darn good! I do know it had portabella mushrooms, mini bell peppers, onions, cilantro, potatoes, garlic, tofu, various seasonings and green onions. This too was a big hit. We just finished off all the left overs.  Yum!!

A beautiful bouquet from BK. 

The hubby checked out my Amazon wishlist and got me Eat Raw, Eat Well by Doug McNish. I'm super excited to try it out! I've already made a juice that we all liked. My little one drank it so fast I thought it had spilled.  I looked everywhere for that juice!!! :)  My little one picked out a butterfly cookie cutter from the Butterfly Magic exhibit at our local Botanical Gardens. I need to pick something to make so I can use it. She also picked out an Eric Carle book, Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?   Even at 14 months she seems to have a favorite author. She loves to sit in my lap while I read to her. I love it too.

I got to spend Mother's Day with some great family. The hubby, my mom, my in-laws and brother-in-law. My little one of course and I got to say hello to BK and his mom as they stopped by Sunday night. Got a little shopping done with my mom but mostly had a relaxing day. The hubby and I sat down and watched a movie as well, We Bought a Zoo. What a great movie! 

What a lovely day.

How was your Mother's Day? Watch any great movies lately?

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Menu for the week of May 13th thru May 19th 2012

It's Mother's Day this Sunday. But, I don't have much on the menu for this day. I will be making Dreena Burton's Orange Apricot Tea Buns, find the recipe here.  But, other than that I've left it mostly up to the hubby.  I just asked that he tell me before I grocery shop so I can add necessary items to the list.

I'll blog about Mother's Day I'm sure.  :)

As for the rest of the week here you go!

Monday 5/14/12:
Penne (although I'm addicted to the organic veggie pasta at Trader Joe's so I may use that) with creamy red pepper sauce out of Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan. I haven't decided on a vegetable to go with this dish as of yet. Sauteed greens sounds yummy! I'll see what looks amazingly fresh when I get to the store!

Tuesday 5/15/12:
Big Ole Salad night! Yay! I love this night. Especially now that my little one is in swim lessons.  I don't have a lot of time to fuss with dinner. And it's CSA pick up night so the hubby gets home late. I will be making Magical Raw Tacos out of Blissful Bites as well. They really do look magical with avocado, cucumbers and carrots. I'll let you know what I think when we're done. I'm dabbling in raw eating, it's kind of scary as well as exciting!

Wednesday 5/16/12:
Mac-Oh-Geez out of Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton. Dreena has this recipe up on her website you can find it here. If you haven't checked it out, do so. It's good!! And BK has agreed to try it. He's not a huge homemade Mac and Cheese fan, I wasn't either when I was his age, but he's willing to giving it a try!

Thursday 5/17/12:
Burgers. Black bean burgers that is. With sweet potato fries and green beans. Seriously, if this is all I can get BK to eat I'll serve it! It's not horribly unhealthy and it's tasty! I think I may make a quick potato salad to go on the side or as I like it, on top of my burger!

Friday 5/18/12:
The hubby and I are going to a concert, can you say date night, so we will be eating out I'm sure. Yay for Date night!

Saturday 5/19/12:
Red-red Stew with rice and cornbread.  Fried bananas as well.  This is out of Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Dixon and looks very tasty! Kind of like a chili! Yum! I'm not a fan of bananas but everyone else in my family is so why not?

Cheers and happy eating!

I feed my family health not boredom!

Back in December of 2011 when we decided to change our daily eating to a plant based diet I didn't immediately think of what others might think of this decision.  I get questioned more often than I had ever imagined.

Not that I find that to be a bad thing, people are curious.  But, I feel like I should express my thoughts, here, as to how I feel about being plant strong or vegan.

First of all. Vegan, by definition, is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products.  Many vegans are ethical vegans, the reject the commodity status of animals and therefor the use of any animal products.  There are also environmental vegans, those that choose not to use animal products because it is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.  You can also have those that are vegan, like us, for health. We have not chosen this lifestyle for ethical reasons and I make no apology for that.  I have chosen this lifestyle for my health as well as my families health.  I don't preach veganism I only promote health.

I consider my family to be plant strong.  I use the term vegan because it is more of a common household term.  It's easier for people to understand, at this time anyway.  To me, in my opinion, I don't always like to call myself vegan because we are not ethical vegans. I've always thought of vegans as those that not only abstain from eating animal products but they also abstain from using animal products.  We eat plant strong that is the bottom line for us.

Is being plant strong good for my children? Why have we been eating meat since the hunter/gatherer days? Am I getting all the nutrients I need? Do we have enough energy? Are we lacking in B12, protein, iron?  Isn't your diet boring? Do you sit around sucking on tofu blocks all day?

These are legitimate questions. And, quite frankly, the same questions I've asked too.  If you really want to know, do a little research, as I'm not a doctor or nutritionist. I'm just a mom who wants what I feel is best for my children.  I do research to ensure proper nutrition for my entire family.  This is very important to me.

So, let's touch on whether or not this is good for children.  In my opinion, yes I do believe the diet I give my kids is good for them.  My daughter is very young and although still getting many of her nutrients from breastmilk we focus on her solid food intake to ensure she gets all the nutrients necessary. As for BK, he gets what we can sneak in. :)  He isn't one to outwardly eat a vegetable but, if I can sneak them in (most kids are this way, vegan or not) he will eat them.  He says he hates mushrooms but when he's with us he eats them all the time.  What does it take to feed a vegan child? It takes time, attention, focus.  Personally, I think all parents should pay attention when feeding their children. I take an hour out of my week to sit down and plan the menu for the following week. It's just an hour and I am able to plan health.

Are we getting all the nutrients we need?  It's funny how only vegans are asked this question.  What about your children? Do you know if the children that eat a typical American diet of burgers, fries, pizza, hotdogs, sweets and other snack foods get enough nutrients?  I make sure that we all get adequate amounts of B12, iron, calcium, Vitamin D as well as protein and fats.  Does it take a little longer to verify these things, absolutely. But, do you know how much you get? Just because you eat meat or dairy does not mean you get everything you need.  It's the same for vegans. Just because we eat this way doesn't mean we are healthy. There are unhealthy vegans.  We all need to stop pointing fingers at who is doing what right and focus on what YOU as an individual eats, the nutrients YOU get on a daily basis, whether you eat meat or not.

Why have we eaten meat for so long? Why didn't the hunter/gathers die of disease like we do?  Well, let's look back at hunter/gatherer days.  This sort of society was very mobile, very active. The need to sustain themselves off the land led them to move frequently. The need to eat led them to extensive amounts of physical activity.  With that they also ate meats that they themselves hunted for, no chemicals, no antibiotics, no hormones.  Look at us now as a society. We are sedentary with little to no activity.  And we eat foods that are filled with hormones, antibodies and chemicals.  Back in time meat was merely a side dish today it's the main course with vegetables as a side.  A small side.  Things have changed, the industry that pushes these items at us, has not changed.  They push what they feel is healthy even with so many facts against it.  We, as a society, continue to eat what "they" (our government) says is healthy without doing any sort of self research.  Question what "they" tell you, it's okay.

Am I lacking nutrients? Do I have enough energy? I am not lacking nutrients. I have my blood checked frequently to make sure I'm getting what I need. Do I have to eat more vegetables to get what I need, yes. Is it too much, no. Do I get all the essential amino acids? You bet I do. It's in the variety of foods I eat. Grains, beans, nuts, nut butters, non-dairy milks, tofu (soy), a small amount of meat substitutes, vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, hemp seeds, flaxseeds and the oils, avocados and olives.  I get it all because I eat a variety of foods.

That brings me to the boring question. Is my food boring? Absolutely not! I love to cook and always find new exciting things to make. You don't even have to love to cook. There are easy things to make to add variety into your diet.

Here are some examples of foods I ate this week:

Avocado broccoli pasta with baked tofu

Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas (seasoned with Moroccan flavors) From Everyday Happy Herbivore. Sauteed kale with garlic. And brown rice with quinoa and garlic. 

Salad! Romaine, red kale, spinach, dandelion greens. With an assortment of veggies. Added on top were chickpeas, black olives, artichokes and peperoncini.  I used a balsamic vinaigrette that I made. Yum!

Gumbo from Everyday Happy Herbivore with rice. I made cornbread too! BK actually told me he wants me to make this again! I was shocked! :)

And of course, Nachos! Who says this is boring?!!  I used Smart Ground, Mexican Style as a meat substitute (BK likes the fake meats). I added tomatoes and more seasonings. I made Vegveeta Cheese Sauce (you can get the recipe on that link) from Let Them Eat Vegan, Dreena Burton. Refried beans, black beans that cooked all day in the crockpot, quacamole (proudly made by the hubby), romaine, kale, onions, carrots, black olives and salsa. So good! Another item BK wants me to make again. I melted some daiya directly on the chips for more cheesiness (thank you to BK's mom for sharing that tip!)

What we eat is variety, plentiful, nutritious, tasty, and by no means boring.  If you think plant strong is something you'd like to try for just one day a week or one day a month give it a try. I was scared at first but for health reasons jumped right in. It's easier than you might think. It's fun and the food is amazing. The energy you have is amazing as well.

Here are a few books that could help you get started:

Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan

Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra

There are more but here are a few of my current favorites!

Enjoy your food! Pay attention to the nutrients your children get, whether they eat meat or not. Choose healthy, live healthy, be healthy.

Cheers and happy eating!


Prodigy - Warrior's Dance
Metallica - My Friend of Misery
And One - Techno Man
Covenant - Ritual Noise
Death Cab for Cutie - A Lack of Color
INXS - Mediate
Apoptygma Berzerk - Mourn
Depeche Mode - I Feel Loved
Elbow - Powder Blue

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When kids get sick!

My daughter was born just about 14 months ago, a day that will be remembered and cherished forever. The day went better than I could have ever hoped for. I had gone through a traumatic pregnancy and only hoped for a healthy deliver for both baby and myself.

What I got was a healthy natural birth that from start to finish was 12 hours. It was non-stop but to be honest I wouldn't have had it any other way. I never had to deal with any stalled labor or any "breaks." My body and it's natural pain fighters, endorphins, stayed in tip top shape.  After such a tough pregnancy I look back at labor and delivery as being the best part of the entire experience.

Once she and I got the hang of nursing, which to be honest can be a bit tough, we started to notice that our little one would get very fussy and seem to be in pain at night. During the day she seemed to do just fine but at night she would just cry out in pain.  We weren't getting much sleep so I went to Google for some answers. Yes, most things said Colic but I was not convinced.

The one thing I did notice was dairy.  Dairy passes through breastmilk which can cause issues in the baby. Humans are the only mammals that continue to drink dairy after the weening period which leads me to believe it cannot not be good for you.  I didn't do a ton of research at the time, who has time to read when all you need is sleep, but decided to cut out all the dairy I had been consuming.

Boy, did that make a huge difference. She no longer had the distended hard stomach and she no longer screamed for hours on end.  This was helpful for all of us. It wasn't that difficult to give up dairy although I thought that it might. During the pregnancy Dairy Queen seemed to be my go to place! Well, once you stop drinking or eating dairy products and replace with healthy alternatives, I find, I started to crave the healthy stuff.

Fast forward to January of this year. We had watched Forks Over Knives in December and decided that cutting out that last bit of animal products would be the best for our family.  In January we stopped eating all animal products. Go us!

It's now May. My little one is growing like a weed and absolutely loves the food we feed her.  I am sure to keep an eye on blood work to ensure she is also getting all the nutrients she needs as well.  We still nurse, she hasn't quite given up on me yet.  :)  I'm not about to stop until she feels ready or until age 2.

Here's the problem though.  We seem to keep getting sick and passing things back and forth.  I look back to when we moved into this house and I wonder if that has anything to do with it.  It's not the food we eat because my naturopath is constantly testing my blood and immunity.  I know many, skeptics, are quick to point the finger at being vegan but I know far too many vegan children who are healthy and thriving. In fact, my little one is healthy (for the most part) and thriving too.  What I've noticed is we both have horrible allergy type symptoms.  Running nose, itching eyes, headaches.

So, back to the house. This house was built in 1978.  That's not always a bad thing but the rental company is not too keen on fixing things or so it seems.  We've been here since October of 2010 and every time we ask for an item to be fixed they sit on it for quite awhile then, sometimes, fix it (half ass).

I have to admit, when we moved in we were just looking for something easy, quick and big enough. I was very pregnant and still very sick so I didn't feel it necessary to drive all over town to find THE place. So, when we moved in we noticed that the walls had not been painted in a very long time, the carpet is incredibly old, as is the tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.  I'm pretty sure this is just a place for the owner of the house and the rental company to make a quick buck.  It's not a place they want to treat with a little TLC like it needs.

Could it be air quality in our home?  Asbestos?  Old, dirty, bad carpeting?  No matter what we do to the carpet it does not seem to help it.  How would one have the air quality in a home checked any how?

In October, when our lease is up, I plan to move the family to a better place in hopes our sniffly lives start to dry up.

We take the time to eat well, stay active and yet we sneeze, wipe, and itch.

We send our little one to daycare.  We have to because we both have to work.  It's the way it is so we deal with that portion. As much as we would love to stay home with her we must pay the bills.  So, we deal with other parents as well.  It seems they continually bring their kids to school when they are sick.  We do not.  If she merely has the sniffles from allergies she's fine to go but fever and other ailments, she doesn't need to be with other people. She needs to be with at least one of us.  Last week when I picked up the little one from school I noticed one of the boys looked like he was not well.  I took her home and she seemed to be just fine throughout the weekend. On Monday afternoon when I got to her school for pick up I noticed signage out for an illness outbreak at school.  Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease! It's a virus that causes painful sores in the mouth and rash on the body. It also causes fever and malaise.

Come to find out it was the boy I saw last week who was sick with HFMD! I noticed as soon as I got my little one to the car that she had a rash!  I called the doctor immediately.  She does in fact have the disease.  It makes me so sad that parents continue to send their children to school when they are sick and miserable.  Why is this?  At first I thought that maybe I had made a mistake on the school we chose.  Isn't more expensive schools "immune" to this sort of thing?  No, they are not. It doesn't matter where you send your children to school because any parent can be a lazy one. Any parent can just not pay attention to the signals their child shows.  Any parent can send their kid to school with a fever, with pale skin, with a rash.  And, it doesn't even have to be at school. It can be anywhere.  The grocery store, the movies, swim lessons. Anywhere.

I'm just trying to keep my daughter healthy.  She is for the most part which is great. One good thing about daycare, she's building quite the immunity.  She is supposed to have signs of fever and the doc said she shouldn't have an appetite. As of yet she has not broken out with a fever and is eating normally. She's eager to play as well. She's pale and puffy and she definitely has a rash but otherwise she's a trooper.  I envy her!!

She's home from school and on the mend.  We both will get better even if it takes moving to do so.  I'm determined. Why else would I take the time to feed her the way I do?  She's my little brown rice and quinoa girl! She loves the stuff.  I'm so very proud.

Please, if your children shows signs of illness do what you can to keep them from others.  It really does help out! No one wants to be sick. I realize you can't always help it but really if it's a fever most likely it's contagious.

I will be speaking to her school with regards to teacher observation. Perhaps they need to be trained by medical professionals (mini training of course) to watch for any signs of illness.  This way they can nip it in the bud! Cut it off before it happens. Call the parents and ask that they pick up their children.

I suppose this is my rant as I sit at home with a sick little girl as she naps.  Thanks for listening. Send us your healing thoughts.

For now it's lots of mommy/daddy love, fluids, and good healthy foods.  She is loved!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Better than chicken noodle soup, soup!

I apologize for the white background behind the text. Somehow I came up and now I cannot remove it. Bear with me I'm still learning Blogger!

I've been sick for the past few days and suddenly missed that soup my mom used to give me as a kid. You know the one, Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup. Yeah, that one. My mom worked full time so making soup for us was often a big task and only left for dinner so she always provided a sense of warmth with that little can that all you need to do is heat and serve, just add water.

As I grew up I still relied on that bit of "home." It always made me feel better. Perhaps because it reminded me of childhood and the love that came from my mom. Along with saltines and 7-up I'd be back up again in no time.

Now that we've all gone plant-strong I no longer could rely on my "home" of chicken noodle soup. I've been sort of craving it this past few days thinking it would make everything better. But, the knowledge I've gained about what you eat tells me otherwise.

So, as I lay in bed I did a little research on some of the top healing foods. Here is what I found.

As a natural anti-biotic, Garlic is the only known herb that can protect the body against poisons that are causing an infection while also killing the virus or bacteria that is actually causing the infection. The blood of a garlic eater alone is enough to kill off dangerous bacteria before an infection sets in. Garlic is one of only nine herbs that show anti-fungal properties and is especially effective against Candida and candidiasis. The sulfur rich components in garlic increases the activity of natural killer and T helper cells, stimulating the immune system and becoming a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Considered a miracle food, garlic offers prevention and healing benefits to a wide variety of diseases ranging from the common cold to deadly diseases. In past decades, garlic was even used to treat the once common and seemingly returning disease of tuberculosis. Americans once commonly referred to Garlic as the 'Poor Man's Treacle'. Today, garlic is now being known for being nature's wonder drug. For hundreds of years, garlic herb has been performing medical miracles throughout the world.

Garlic, for example, has been used to treat fevers, sore throats, digestive ailments, hardening of the arteries, and other health problems and conditions.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) -- Thyme has traditionally been used to treat respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and to treat cough. Two preliminary studies suggest that thyme may help treat acute bronchitis and relieve cough. Thyme is approved by the German Commission E to treat those conditions.

Sage has been known to prevent the common cold and flu.


Onions have super antioxidant power. They contain querciten, a natural antihistamine that reduces airway inflammation and helps relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever. Onions also boast high levels of vitamin C, which battles cold and flu symptoms. Onions' anti-inflammatory properties help fight the pain and swelling associated with osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.


Beans are a miracle food. They lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and insulin production, promote digestive health and protect against cancer. If you think of fiber, protein and antioxidants, and immediately think whole grains, meat and fruit, then think again—beans offer all three in a single package.


You already knew spinach was good for you, but did you know just how good? Spinach protects against eye disease and vision loss; it's good for brain function; it guards against colon, prostate and breast cancers; it protects against heart disease, stroke and dementia; it lowers blood pressure; it's anti-inflammatory; and it's great for bone health. Spinach has an amazing array of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin K,calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and iron.


Carrots contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin C and an incredible amount of vitamin A. The alpha-carotene in carrots has shown promise in inhibiting tumor growth. In Chinese medicine, carrots are used to treat rheumatism, kidney stones, tumors, indigestion, night blindness, ear infections and more.


Cabbage builds strong bones, dampens allergic reactions, reduces inflammation and promotes gastrointestinal health. Cabbage is routinely juiced as a natural remedy for healing peptic ulcers due to its high glutamine content. It also provides significant cardiovascular benefit by preventing plaque formation in the blood vessels. In Chinese medicine, cabbage is used to treat constipation, the common cold, whooping cough, depression, irritability and stomach ulcers.


Kale is in the same plant family as another cruciferous superfood and contains high levels of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. The indoles in kale have been shown to protect against breast, cervical and colon cancers. The vitamin K in kale promotes blood clotting, protects the heart and helps build strong bones by anchoring calcium to the bone. Kale has more antioxidant power than another leafy green and is extra-rich in beta-carotene (containing seven times as much as does broccoli), lutein and zeaxanthin (10 times the amount in broccoli). In Chinese medicine, kale is used to help ease lung congestion.

Dandelion greens:

Dandelion promotes digestive health by stimulating bile production, resulting in a gentle laxative effect. Inulin further aids digestion by feeding the healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines; it also increases calcium absorption and has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels, therefore being useful in treating diabetes. Both the dandelion leaves and root are used to treat heartburn and indigestion. The pectin in dandelion relieves constipation and, in combination with vitamin C, reduces cholesterol. Dandelion is excellent for reducing edema, bloating and water retention; it can also help reduce high blood pressure. On top of all that, dandelion contains multiple antidiarrheal and antibacterial properties.

In Chinese medicine, dandelion is used in combination with other herbs to treat hepatitis and upper respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The sap from the stem and root is a topical remedy for warts.

With all that goodness I realized that that chicken noodle soup I had been eating wasn't so healing after all. It is for 1) full of meat (or meat parts rather, eww!), 2) full of unnecessary sodium and 3) nothing in it, flavor/herb wise, is healthy.

Today I decided I'd make my own mom approved soup. One I can give to my daughter when she's feeling sick. One I hope she, one day, signifies as home.  
But, there is a caveat. I liked the soup but the hubby, who is not sick, thought it was too "kitchen sinky" for him. Too much stuff. That very well could be but it satisfied my hunger and helped me get a burst of energy I so desperately needed. Please be aware it's a strong soup, flavor wise, so if you're making it while not sick you may want to back off on some of the seasonings.  
This is also a bit of a rough draft. Only because my sinuses are so clogged (yes, pretty sick) that smelling and tasting this soup was perfect for me...with a clogged face!! I found it to rather tasty and chalk full of goodness!

What you will need:

1 Tablespoon of oil or ¼ cup vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
3 small carrots or 2 larger, small dice
2 stalks of celery, small dice
Bay leaf
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 can great northern beans or kidney beans (I used what was on hand), drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 cup purple cabbage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon garlic (I like garlicky soup!)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup whole wheat dry pasta (any shape you may have, remember you are probably not feeling that great when making this soup)
1 cup curly kale, chopped
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil (if you have it on hand), chopped
Salt to taste
A dash of hot sauce (optional)
Juice from one lime
Green onion as garnish

What you will need to do:

Heat oil in  a large stock pot over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Add mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) and bay leaf, cook until the onion becomes translucent and the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently as to not allow it to burn. Add beans cook, 1 minute. Add stock and water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add cabbage and dry herbs. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Once the soup has simmered add the greens and pasta, let the greens wilt and the pasta heat through, about 2 minutes. Then add the fresh herbs. Salt to taste. Add the hot sauce if you so desire and the lime juice. Serve with a garnish of green onion.

Yes, it definitely has a lot of ingredients. If you don't have some of them you can always sub some items. If you just have kale or just have spinach don't worry about the other green. This soup doesn't need cabbage it's just got great healing qualities. Fresh basil, I believe, is always nice in soup but it's not a necessity especially since there is dry basil already in it. As for garlic, try and use both the fresh and the dry. I truly believe that gives a great extra garlicky flavor.

I hope you don't have to make this soup, seeing as it's made for sick people. But, if you fall ill with that common cold or a sinus infection like I've had then I do hope you enjoy and it gives you a sense of warmth as it did for me.

And just for fun here's a playlist of songs I listened to while cooking. I love music!!

CTRL - Years Younger
Depeche Mode - Sweetest Perfection
U2 - With or Without You
The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
Assemblage 23 - Awake (Imperative Reaction Remix)
Fischerspooner - Emerge
Praga Kahn - Pittsburgh Angel
New Order - Temptation
Bono and Michael Hutchence - Slide Away

Cheers and happy eating!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Menu for 5/6/12-5/12/12

I actually have a little time to blog this evening as I've just put the little one down for the night and BK has a friend over to work on a school project. Good kid for working on it on a Friday! *:)* The hubby is helping out the boy and I write to you with a lovely glass of wine in hand. I do love Friday nights.

This week I'm very excited about writing my menu out because I've picked up two new cookbooks. Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet and Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes

These ladies, Lindsay Dixon and Christy Morgan are two of the nicest chef/writers I've met. Along with Dreena Burton, who writes one of my favorite cookbooks that I'm quickly working through, I'm finding the vegan lifestyle to be welcoming and inviting. It's truly a comfort to know people take the time to answer questions, listen, and offer up any sort of suggestions they possibly can.  

This week I'll be working out of The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Dixon. One at a time, I must do! I'm so very excited to cook everything but I've got to think about the time I actually have which, with a toddler, is not very much. I will work out of Blissful Bites next week.  

I believe I may be selling my animal based cookbooks to our local used bookstore this weekend.  I won't be needing them any longer and this makes me very happy! 4 months plant strong and I'm getting rid of any remnants of the animal based food lifestyle I once had. Yay! Go me!

Okay, so let's get to this weeks menu!

Sunday: 5/6/12
Nachos (I guess we are sort of extending Cinco de Mayo!). This aren't any ordinary nachos, they will be ultimate! I will be sure to take pictures. 

Monday: 5/7/12
Moroccan Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas with quinoa and kale (cooked).  This is a recipe that caught my eye right away from HH. I also like the fact that I have an abundance of sweet potatoes thanks to our local CSA.

Tuesday: 5/8/12
Big Ole Salad night with whatever creativity I may muster up with items from the CSA. The only problem with be extra creative on a Tuesday night is my little one is now in swim lessons and it's scheduled late in the afternoon. We live in the desert with LOTS of pools so it's a definite priority!!

Wednesday: 5/9/12
Nola Gumbo with rice and cornbread.  I know it's practically summer here but while looking through my copy of HH I saw a picture that reached out and grabbed my taste buds. It slowly yelled for me to make it! How could I not?

Thursday: 5/10/12
Eggless salad sandwich! With tamari roasted chickpeas (yes, I have to add in recipes from Dreena Burton!!) and veggies from the CSA.  Artichokes perhaps?  And eggless salad sandwich?? Really? Oh yes, I want to try this! I do miss egg sandwiches (a little bit any way, until I start to think of ALL the cholesterol) so this sounded like it would be right up my alley!

Friday: 5/11/12
It's no cook Friday night!! We'll see what happens. Luckily my MIL brought us dinner tonight, Friday, so I did not have to cook for the boy and his friend before they got started on their project. I believe everyone was grateful and it really did seem like a big family dinner. It was nice! :)

Saturday: 5/12/12
Bella tacos.  Okay, so before I went plant strong mushrooms were NOT my favorite!! But, now I seem to buy them each week as they have become a staple in my home. I don't love them but I certainly do not dislike them any more.  So, these bella tacos not only sound good but the picture made them look so delicious as well!! Beans (black or pinto) on the side with lots of greens. Probably kale! :)

That's it! I hope you enjoy!

Cheers and happy eating!