Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hear me roar.

Feminism is stalking me. Since this is a food blog, I don't really want to bring in too many other issues and muddle up my focus-but I just have to talk about this. Since I've been talking to everyone IRL(in real life) about it, I'm going to try to articulate it here. I just can't get it off my mind. It kind of started with all these suicides recently of kids that were literally bullied to death. They have really been hitting home for me both because I'm a parent, and because I had suicidal thoughts at 11 thanks to bullying. I always felt (and was made to feel) like an ugly ducking-I had bad teeth and a hereditary double chin. Add to that being socially awkward and frequently the new kid and it was a recipe for school day hell. As I got older, I settled into my looks and really began to love myself damn it! Even still, there is a long list of things that I would fix about myself given the opportunity. I've always considered myself a feminist (hey, if you're going to be counter culture you might as well go all out-right?) minus, though not always, the hairy legs, bra burning and whatever other stereotype you'd like to insert here. Please start the first video while you read on. One of my best Texas girls, Frank, put this as the first song on my "Bye-ya" mixed cd and it never fails to make me laugh.

Enter this next video. It popped up on my facebook feed, and I've pretty much been obsessed with it since. It's made me do a few things. First, want to learn how to poetry slam because it looks bad ass. Second, reevaluate the language I use and way I see my role in raising my daughter. It's titled "Pretty" and as most of us with little girls know, it's a word we use quite often. Please watch, and I'll elaborate below.

I've watched it a few times now, and each time it's made me cry like a baby. What am I teaching my children about women? About how we look? About loving ourselves? About the importance of being "pretty"? I do know this. I've recently had a drastic shift in thinking and can confidently say I will never have plastic surgery. My tummy may have skin and marks that will never go away. I earned those bad boys turning two cells into the most amazing human beings I've ever met. My once fabulous rack, that while still pretty fabulous is a lot less perkilated? They took two newborn babies and fed them(well), grew them, comforted them, lowered their risk of cancer, obesity, asthma, allergies and more. My double chin? Well, I can't honestly give it many redeeming attributes-but it ties me to my family and I could have it a lot worse. And if I *did* change those things, I would no longer be exactly as I'm meant to be. What kind of message am I sending to my kids, specifically my sweet little daughter. What if I died getting new boobs?

As far back as I can remember, everyone told me I looked just like my mother. Just.Like.Her. And guess what, my mother hates the way she looks. She constantly talks about how ugly she is. Constantly. So what does that say to the little girl that looks Just.Like.Her? I'm using my "I'm seriously angry voice" now. I will NOT lay that burned on my child. Real women are not like the ones in magazines. The women pictured in magazines aren't like the women pictured in magazines. Women come in all shapes and sizes and are good at a hell of a lot of things other than having great tits or a tight ass. Perfection is completely unattainable and frankly really stupid. Be proud of who YOU are. Yes YOU. You're fucking awesome.

This is to my daughter. I promise you that I will do my best to help you see that. I won't alter my body to make it look more suitable to our cultural preferences. I won't cut myself down in front of you (and I'll try my hardest to not to do it all) so that you can love yourself no matter what you look like. To my most beautiful 12 year old cousin who thinks she's ugly. Not only is she about as far from ugly as you can get, but you are worth infinitely more than what you look like. You are pretty talented, pretty kind and pretty freakin amazing. I can't wait to see who you grow to become and the life force you will unleash on the universe!
To all the women out there who start picking themselves apart every time they open a magazine, turn on the tv or look in the mirror. STOP. Right now. Individuality is where it's at. I'm full of piss, vinegar, feminism, opinions, optimism, LOVE, nurturing, excitement, sometimes farts and I AM AWESOME just the way I am. I love you, and I want you to love you just as much. So be brave, show yourself some love in the comments below! I want all the women you know to get angry about this too-share me with your friends :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Electronics and lunch

I hate to put it out there, but I am an electronics murderer. Let me time line for you what has happened to all electronic purchases over $250 that I have made since 2006.

Summer 2006- New laptop. Met it's end 1.5 years later after repeated toddler assaults. Floor to cord connection injury. Fatal.
Fall 2007-Fabo Canon camera. Smashed. Lens stuck on open. (though for the record, after spending two years as a child's toy it was spontaneously fixed by another blow to the floor)
Winter 2007-Stationary computer terminal. Fatal virus. No longer connects to internet.
Christmas 2007-New more expensive Canon. Lost at a birthday party 6 months later.
Spring 2008-New Toshiba laptop. Same floor to cable connector injury as predecessor. Occasionally works with screen completely flat, balanced on a book and looked at through a magic mirror.
Christmas 2008-Olympus smash proof, waterproof camera. Still with us! I'm dying for a fancier camera that takes better close ups with nicer features-but am worried about investing for obvious reasons.
Summer 2009-New Laptop (again). Two days in an entire glass of red wine was poured on the keyboard. Still works (ish). Also dropped numerous times and sometimes will hold a charge.

So, the suck part of this (ignoring how much all of that junk costs and wastes) is that all my data and photos are on random computers that don't have the corresponding editing softwear or have the wrong XYZ. I've got food porn EVERYWHERE, but can't access it off my camera, my computer, edit it properly, etc. So today I had a break through and now have TONS of stuff to write about-woot! So get ready for posting overload, squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So without further ado, here is a little afternoon delight! This is Astroboy's Goodbyn lunch fun. He is one picky dude, so I'm trying to up my game.

On the menu today from top to bottom:
Chickpea salad sandwiches. (No dolphins were harmed in the making of this sandwich :) Made with chickpeas, vegan mayo, relish, some dijon mustard. Blend in a food processor. Sandwich shapers are the best invention ever!
Bear graham crackers-Bulk Barn holla!
"Chocolate" milk-Every day they have chocolate milk at his school. Not on my watch! I make my own with molasses for iron, a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and rice milk. He loves it-who knew!
Alphabet cereal
Pear-He's been obsessed lately with " The Fantastic Mr. Fox". A character in that movie invents some apples that have stars all over them, and every time he watches it he cries for apples with stars. I didn't have apples, but I was rather proud of my fabulous starred pear.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My veggie tales....

So bear with me dear reader, this will most certainly be the longest post to date. While most of you know me as the vegan I am today, there are plenty of you who remember me as the milk-chugging-contest participating, Rudy's BBQ loving, ham cooking, meat and dairy enthusiast I spent most of my life being. I started this blog with the sincere intention of sharing amazingly delicious veggie food with the world as my activism, without coming off as the stereotypical "preachy vegan". I feel that a delicious vegan cupcake or an incredibly sinful chocolate chip cookie will speak more than my words ever can. Recently though, I keep getting asked about the basics of my diet and how it got started-so that's what this post will be about. I've talked a lot about Bean, but not so much about my own journey. So here it is!

I know this might come as a surprise, but I am not an animal lover for the most part. In fact, I HATE dogs. Though I don't really want anything to suffer needlessly-I just don't get dogs (especially my neighbor's stupid dog who rushes me EVERY.FREAKIN.DAY when I'm taking my kids to school) The reason I initially considered a plant based diet was because it stalked me. Everywhere I looked, there it was in my face. It seemed like every new person I met, every event I went to, every article that came my way on the Internet was a big beacon shining on *Vegetarian*. When I had "Astroboy", I started to become obsessed with ways to lessen my carbon footprint. I actually had a reason to care about what goes on in the world after I was gone. I did everything in my power to make changes that would better the environment. Turns out that not eating animal products makes the biggest impact of anything you do. (For example, 2,500 gallons of water is needed to create one t bone steak. Or, a vegan can leave their shower on all day every day for an entire year-and still use less water than having a diet that features animal products) I kind of feel like if all the environmental doomsday stuff comes true and I leave this mess to my kids, I can at least say I did everything in my power to stop it.

Here's a little video that doesn't show graphic images of animals dying-so give it a shot :)

Another huge reason is the high risk of food contamination in animal products. While it does sometimes happen for vegetables, animal business is usually still at fault. It's gross, it's incredibly shocking and really really scary because it's so common.

In order to keep this at any reasonable length I'll recommend picking up "The Food Revolution" and also "Diet for new America" by John Robbins which has many things more accurately than I'll be able to type out without hours of interwebular searching.

Another motivation was health. My family has their lives seriously cut short or impacted by diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease and strokes. Each one of these is directly caused by diets heavy in animal products. Even the "good" white meat ones aren't really good at all. I don't want to die in this way if I know how to prevent it. Others that thankfully aren't in my family but are related to diet are breast cancer (note the irony that KFC has a breast cancer campaign), cervical and ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.

So when I first went vegetarian, loosing weight wasn't a motivator. Within 4 months however, 25 lbs literally fell off. When I went vegan, I was at a plateau with my weight loss after baby number two. I was doing two hours of hard cardio 6 days a week with almost no results. Going vegan jump started my weight loss process again. Not only that, but I noticed that I had more energy, had better breathing, less skin rashes/breakouts and could eat an insane amount and never see an ounce gained. I'm not kidding, there are days when I scarf 12 cookies. ( I can't verify that this is good for your health, but it's good for my mental health).
So I'm going to address some of the questions that I get frequently. If you have any more, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

How did you decide to get started?
When I first started thinking about it, it made my stomach hurt to think of how "final" it felt. What about thanksgiving? Dinner parties? Every social interaction people have? I love all kinds of food and didn't want to be a picky eater. So instead of saying "I'm a vegetarian" and confronting this huge scary thing, I just decided to try if for a week and if I hated it, no biggie. During that week, it wasn't super hard to do- it just required choosing different things. And you know what? Most of the time I didn't even feel like I was missing out. I was eating delicious, healthy meals that I probably wouldn't have tried before. I think the key to success is that for everything you don't eat, find two new things that you do eat and LOVE. I don't eat less now, I eat WAY more. Like wtf is kale? Same with vegan, it was WAY too scary to commit to, but after a while it was no big thing. I'm not going to lie and say it's super easy. My husband wasn't thrilled-he was a freakin hunter! But the more I learned, the less *I* could keep eating it, even less so feed it to my kids and then touching it grossed me out.
Everything certainly didn't happen at once. I always said if there was something that was totally going to break me if I didn't eat it-I would, and wouldn't feel guilty and do my best the next day. I started off liking lots of vegetarian foods, so that made it easier (falafel, eggplant Parmesan, Alfredo) but I also loved meat. The longer I didn't eat it though, the more light I felt in my body of course, but in my impact on the planet and on my conscience. Watching "Earthlings" and reading "Diet for a new America" and "Food Revolution" sealed the deal. My key with Bean was essentially making things that were similar to things he already liked and things that taste good. I pan fry things to win his heart, roast vegetables and make delicious treats. We don't eat low fat, first because fat is important for my precious little growing brains, but also because I straight up don't need to. I eat whatever I want and as much as I want and never worry about my weight. I can't promise that each person's body reacts the same way-but it's been like magic for me.

I try to avoid soy products, is it possible to still eat this way?
I actually try very hard not to eat many processed soy foods, just for the sake of health. There are however some really great fake cream cheeses that I buy on occasion when I'm craving something traditional or taking to a party (cheesecake, pink dip) though it's expensive so I don't buy it on the regular. My kids really love enriched rice milk (though I don't), so that is what they drink. It is fortified with b12, which is the only vitamin not available through a plant food. (Technically it is, b12 is a bacteria that grows on plants but modern processing removes almost all of it) The reason it's in animal foods is that animals would eat grass etc right from the source so it's concentrated in their products. I take a supplement, though in my opinion, everyone eating any kind of diet should take a vitamin as our growing processes, soil and cooking void many vitamins we expect we're getting.

What the hell do vegans eat?
Here is a quick run down of some of the substitutions I use for foods you currently enjoy.
Cow milk: Rice milk, organic silk soy milk, hemp milk
Cheese: Nut cheeses, daiya shreds(non soy and delish) or no cheese. Many things taste great with a mashed avocado or something else like a chipotle mayo that is creamy and fatty in it's stead.
Sour cream/whipped cream: I make a super easy version of both of these with cashews.
Eggs: For baking-oil, ground flax seed, bananas or applesauce, Ener-g egg replacer, silken tofu
For quiche/omelet/scrambled eggs: various firmness of tofu. Organic tofu is the way to go, as has less of the plant estrogens as per my understanding.
Beef: Wheat gluten product called "Seitan". Can purchase or make at home.
Sausage: Field roast is my absolute favorite and has pleased even the most discerning carnivores in my life. I can't get it here, so I make my own with wheat gluten (recipes are from "vegan brunch")
Meatloaf and roasts: Field roast makes a good one, or lentils/beans are a great replacement.
Bacon: The best bacon so far is made with a fermented soybean (sounds gross I know) product called "tempeh". It's fermenting process kills much of the plant estrogens, and leaves it with a much firmer consistency than tofu. Recipe for this is also from Vegan brunch.
Burgers: Portebello mushrooms are the bomb, as well as many recipes available online for burgers made with veggies/lentils/beans you name it.
Fajitas: Portobello mushrooms make AMAZING fajitas and are stupid low in fat. Using wine in your cooking process gives them an incredibly complex taste.
Mayo: There are many fake mayos out there, grapeseed oil veganaise is my fave and never notice a difference.
Sandwiches: I eat all kinds of "salad sandwiches" made just like a tuna/egg sandwich, but either using crumbled tofu or mashed chickpeas in place of the meat protein.

So what about protein?
This is almost completely a myth. Protein has been sold to us in a way to sell product and it's killing us. On average, a woman needs 52-65 grams per day, a 29 lb toddler needs 16. My breakfast of soy milk chai, pb on toast and fruit is around 27, which means at the end of the day-I could still be getting too much without one bit of animal protein. Too much protein leeches calcium from your bones, and can cause an increase in allergies and impacted kidney function. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are found in vegetables, grains, beans etc. So for example "two tablespoons of peanut butter or one-half cup of beans provide six to eight grams of protein each, which is about the same amount in each ounce of lean meat, fish and poultry. There are also two to four grams of protein in each serving of breads and cereals and one to three grams in a serving of most vegetables. "

Do you eat food that tastes good?
Not at all. I decided on becoming a vegan that I no longer would use my tastebuds. :D Ok, non assinine comments aside-some things like alternative cheeses took me not eating cow milk cheese to enjoy. And just like we don't like things as kids, our tastes change and evolve. Some things I didn't like at the beginning are favorites now.

So, now what do I do?
Well, that's up to you. Do you want to look better? Help the planet and save almost 100 animals a year from dying? Not have to worry about meat and egg recalls? Take the most proactive approach to preventing cancer and heart disease? Then try it. That's it. You can try it for one meal, you can try it for a week or you can try it forever.
If you've made it to the end of this, I want to thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and for choosing to know. I welcome your questions and comments!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kale Chips!

So this is a little something called "lazy blogging". I'm currently whipping up a delicious batch of Lychee cupcakes from "Vegan cupcakes take over the world" as tomorrow I'm helping out with 'Food not bombs' (if you've never heard of it, go check it here: and bringing some fab-o cupcakes to the masses. In light of this, I'm way too lazy to write out how to make Kale chips when some other more awesome blogger has already done it for me. Check out her 'Save the Kales' blog, it rocks my socks and is one of my faves! ( Heck, she even has a video! Today's trip to the farmer's market yeilded me the most alarmingly huge bunch of kale for $3, so I had to do something with it!