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When it comes to transitioning to veganism, I like to think of it as a gradual tiered process. One that someone can constantly modify and tweak until it suits them and their tastebuds. When we first transitioned from pescatarian to vegan, we would seek out the meat and cheese substitutes. The closer the imitation meat the better. This was years ago, before Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers were readily available. Over time, our tastebuds changed, dramatically. The appearance of imitation fish, chicken, or red meat was no longer appealing. We now could taste the full range of wonderful plants on our plates. And the thought of animals suffering to become an empty calorie meal was extremely off-putting. So, now that imitation meats and cheese are at all time highest, with their ability to fool any meat-eater, we have been reluctant to try all the newest vegan products.
Before veganism, tuna salad was a go-to easy meal of mine. A tuna salad stuffed pita was an easy filling lunch that I had previously sought out regularly. So, when I came across Loma Linda canned Tuno in spring water, I decided I had to give it a try. It instantly takes you back to buying canned tuna, which for a new vegan or someone dabbling in meatless meals may be a plus. So much of our eating habits is based on ritual and they say you eat with your eyes first. The appearance and texture are spot on to tuna. I went with my previous tuna salad recipe that I literally grew up with- pickle relish, mayo, and dash or salt and pepper. Of course, I used vegan mayo. There are plenty of brands of vegan mayo on the market now. I used Sir Kensington mayo, which I ordered through Thrive Market . Once mixed, I placed the Tuno salad on a flaxseed wrap with baby spinach and sliced avocado. It definitely hit the mark in recreating this past life meal for me. The funny thing is that I this stage of my plantbased journey, the imitation tuna was no longer appealing. However, I am sure there are a ton of ways to use this Tuno product, so I recommend getting creative!
An alternative to the imitation tuna, is chickpeas. Hear me out! The chickpeas give a fantastic texture. They are easy to make into a delicious tuna-less salad and are nutrient-rich. The more econonimcal and eco-friendly method is to cook dried chickpeas. Without an InstaPot or other pressure cooker, it can be a lengthy process. If you are looking for an easier option, I highly recommend Jack’s Quality Beans- which are packaged in Tetrapak instead of cans. If you are new to shopping for chickpeas or hummus- please check out the EWG website where they discuss the best brands for decreasing pesticide exposure. For the chickpea salad recipe, I am a huge fan of Forks Over Knives. Linked here. Definitely give it a try. Below I will post a link to the cook book that I use most often.
Raising Vegan Tip- One cup of chickpeas has 78% daily value (DV) of protein; that is 39 grams of protein! In that 1 cup you will also get 50% DV (1750 mg) of potassium, 69% DV of iron, 55% DV of vitamin B6, 140% DV of fiber, 57% DV of magnesium, and 21% DV of calcium. If using canned or tetrapak chickpeas, be sure to save the liquid, which is known as aquafaba, for future recipes calling for an egg.
Another option for tuna-less salad is tempeh. Tempeh is versatile and easy to work with. You may have a difficult time finding it if your local grocery doesn’t carry it. However, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Kroger, and even Walmart Neighborhood Markets carry tempeh. It may be hidden the first time you go to look for it, so don’t be afraid to ask. Ours is usually located with other refrigerated vegan products or with the hummus (not sure why?). For a tempeh tuna-less salad recipe, I go to another favorite vegan cookbook, Plant Pure Nation, written by Kim Campbell. I will link this one as well. This recipe has amazing flavor! I often make a double batch to ensure I have leftovers to use for lunches during the week. Whether on a wrap or a salad this tempeh tuna-less salad does not disappoint!
Links to recommended products:
After 5+ years of being vegan there are few foods that I miss. Even seeing the imitation meats are displeasing at this point. However, my husband and I were huge fans of sushi. It was a fun date night and we were missing it after our move to a small town, where veganized sushi wasn’t accessible. So, we learned a new skill- Sushi making! And we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be. When made at home the ingredients are fresh, vibrant, and ethically sourced. The pride we felt biting into our first sushi roll was thrilling! We were hooked. There are plenty of fantastic tutorials on youtube.com on how to roll the sushi. Here I’ll walk you through our process, but have fun at home finding what works for you and your family’s taste buds.
While we try to stick with a low-oil diet, this recipe does use vegetable oil for frying the tofu. I did not have luck using air-dryer tempura recipes, but if you find one that works for you- comment and let us all know! If you decide to try the tempura tofu, which I highly recommend- throw a can of sparkling water into the refrigerator the day before to ensure it is ice cold. If you forget, it happens, you can chill it quickly by pouring a can of sparkling water into a small metal bowl and submerging it into a slightly larger bowl with ice cubes. Spin the smaller bowl around in the ice and viola- chilled sparkling water.
I like to use my Instapot for the sushi rice. It is easy, fast, and effortless. I found sushi rice at our local grocery. Because we like to make 6 rolls total, saving 2 for lunch the following day, I cook 2.5 cups of rice. Equal parts water to rice. I set the Instapot for 5 minutes on HI and 5 minutes of natural release followed by quick release. I must say it comes out perfect every time! While the Instapot is doing its thing, I prep a 9″ square casserole dish for the rice by mixing 1/4 c. white wine vinegar, 1/4 c. rice vinegar, 2 T (vegan) granulated sugar, and 1 tsp fine salt. After combining that mixture I start on my tempura tofu (see below). Once the rice is done cooking I add it to the mixture in the dish and stir carefully using a wooden spoon. I set that aside to cool.
The crispiest and most delicious tempura tofu. While the rice is cooking I use a gram scale to measure out 125 grams of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp potato starch, 1/8 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp fine salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and mix. Prep a block of super firm tofu by pressing out all liquid and cutting it into 1/2″ cubes. Heat a wok or large skillet with a few inches deep of vegetable oil. Once your oil is hot, add 230 grams of ice cold sparkling water (I like to use La Croix lime) to the dry mixture and stir. Add the cubed tofu into the mixture ensuring each piece is nicely coated- gently fry the pieces in the oil. I like to use extreme caution when frying foods. We keep the little ones and pets out of the kitchen and away from potential harm. I use long tongs to gently place the battered tofu into the oil, and use a ___ spoon to retrieve the golden brown cooked pieces. Makes my mouth water just thinking of the delicious deep fried tofu. If you aren’t a tofu fan, you can substitute for sweet potato, cauliflower, or broccoli. This ingredients adds an amazing level of unami to the sushi rolls and fools you into thinking you are eating take-out!
Raising Vegan Tip- Let’s help the planet! The most eco-friendly way to dispose of vegetable oil is to put it right back into the ground. Find a place on your property that you would like to keep weeds or grass from growing and dump the cooled discarded oil into the soil. It will degrade over time. Next, the cling or plastic wrap- we know it is terrible for the planet. It will literally last for hundreds of years in your pantry. What’s the solution? Use 100% compostable cling wrap. We compost at home and it feels wonderful to know that the cling wrap will degrade and help feed our garden.
Now you are ready to start building your rolls! The key is less can be more if you are having difficulties getting the roll to stay together. The sticky rice is your friend. And remember, fresh seaweed sheets are key.
The obvious condiments to serve with the sushi rolls are soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. We found Ginger People‘s pickled ginger at our local grocer. I really appreciate that this brand doesn’t use any food dyes in their ginger. Can you believe that some other brands actually use known carcinogens, red no. 40, just to give their ginger a pinkish tint. You can make your own, but I have not given it a try. For the wasabi, I love Eden‘s wasabi powder. You reconstitute it in hot water per the directions on the tin. It is delicious and not overly potent. I get our Eden products from Thrive Market . Some of the tube wasabi will have dyes in them, so be sure to check out the ingredients when shopping.
Links to purchase mentioned products:
With our littliest turning one year, my husband and I reflected back on the purchases and gifts that we could not have done without. Sharing is caring, so our hope is that some new parents may benefit from learning what worked for us. We would love to hear what products were a MUST for your family. Please drop a comment with a product we failed to mention.
Initially, we felt overwhelmed with what to place on our registry. Online stores and baby products begin to run together when you’re not a veteran at child rearing. Our first step was to pop into Babies-R-Us. We remained overwhelmed once inside the store and after 2 hours of wandering, decided to try again another time. After chatting with other parents, online research, and the overall need to complete our registry, we ventured back into the store with the goal to complete our MUST have list.
I will say it saddens me to think that other new parents will not have the option of wandering aimlessly through Babies-R-Us. We really needed that time to test drive strollers, assess baby carriers, etc. But, the bright side is now boutique shops can fulfill that niche and hopefully small business will gain business.
1. Car Seat
The safety ratings of the car seat was very important to us. I looked to the NHTSA to begin the screening process. I was looking for 5-stars! As you may know, the car seat can also dictate the stroller brand or stroller options. So, next stop…test driving strollers! Shop Now Up to 50% Off Graco Gear + Free Shipping $49+
After considering things like height of my husband, gait, and arm length, we had narrows down the selection. And- of course they ideally would work with our car seat. Then we decided on four wheels instead of three. I am not an avid jogger/runner, so I needed an everyday stroller that wasn’t going to topple over once loaded with items in the basket. I also wanted to be able to collapse the stroller with one-hand. This concept came to me while we were test-driving the strollers. My husband with his architect mind was very helpful in determining which strollers seemed the most stable. Success! We had our stroller picked- Graco Modes Click Connect! Now which color? When our second child arrived, we wanted a double side-by-side option. The ease of folding and traveling with it was less a priority, but we did a lot of neighborhood walking, so a smooth ride was a must. I wanted to ensure both kids were as comfortable as possible. The Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 was the best option for us. It has a pram attachment, so the baby can ride/sleep soundly until they are able to roll over. There are attachments for various carseats as well, which worked wonderfully for our Graco snugfit click-connect infect car seat. I must say this stroller has been amazing. At first it was magic- our 2-year-old and newborn would almost instantly fall asleep in it when we went out for strolls. It was so magical when the grandparents babysat, they would use it to get the kids to nap at the same time by walking in circles around the downstairs. Oh, and did I mention the extra large shade coverage with the clear, peek-through, windowns. Sigh, I love this stroller!
3. Baby Monitoring
SIDS is a scary subject for parents. We wanted to have as much peace of mind as possible, so we needed an actual baby monitor. After consulting our pediatrician, we decided on the Owlet Smart Sock 2. Our Little wore this smart sock until around 7 months. At that time the foot was too round for the pulse oximeter to sit correctly and we would receive yellow alerts. Prior, it was amazing! We were able to sleep knowing that if anything changed with her oxygenation or heart rate we would be alerted. We did have a few false alarms, but I would much prefer to have a few false alarms, then not know if our Little was in trouble.
4. Co-sleeper Crib
After researching all of the ways to reduce the risk of SIDS, we knew we wanted to co-sleep, but were uncomfortable with having our Little in the bed with us. (Everyone is entitled to their own method- no judgement here!) The Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper was the perfect solution for us. Our Little used this until ~ 4.5 months old. The convenience of having our baby so close made night feedings much easier. When we had our first, there was a new crib breaking the market. It was the SNOO! If your budget allows, the SNOO is another fan favorite. There is even a rental option to make it more affordable.
5. Baby Lounger
When we had our first child, we had not considered a baby lounger, or had even heard of one, when one of our dear friends gifted us the Leachco Podster. It was perfect! Our Little slept soundly for naps and was able to stay by our side (supervised) whether we were on the couch or in bed. Initially we used blankets underneath it to provide a little more support since our Little was pretty tiny, but after the second month, it was the perfect fit. For our second I added the BabyBjörn Bouncer to our must have list. I had read all the reviews and wondered if it was going to live up to the hype. I must say it did. Our 8 week old loved to watch big sis play or us cook while in the bouncer. When he got a little older and could make it bounce, the real fun began! Around the time that he was crawling he lost interest. We never flipped the cover to use it as a toddler seat in fear that our oldest would be sitting and it would spring back and hit our baby, but others I’ve talked to got a lot of use out of the toddler seat.
6. Diaper Bag
The diaper bag continues to be a running joke between my husband and I. One of the first things I bought and was super excited about was the diaper bag. Maybe the excitement stemmed from it being like a handbag and at the time was the most relatable item. Whatever the reason may be- I had purchased the perfect one! So I thought. About 4 weeks into using it, it was toast and so was I. After swallowing my pride, I had to re-evaluate the ideal qualities of a diaper bag. I learned that 1. a shoulder strap/sling was not practical for me 2. it needed to be light because it was going to get heavy FAST 3. It needed to not be overly complicated- easy access to as much at once was key in the middle of a blow-out diaper 4. Side pockets to hold items at the ready were very important. 5. Bottom/hidden storage- perfect place for masks, change of clothes, and wet dry bags. So we returned the first bag (which straps were already pulling out after a few weeks of use) and went back to the store. Now with a clear vision of practicality and not fashion we selected a pretty basic diaper bag, but has been perfect for us!
7. Diaper Wipes
Of course you will need diaper wipes for your baby, but which kind? We had purchased a well known eco-friendly brand (in bulk) assuming it was a good choice. Well our Little one had other plans. Our baby had an allergic reaction to the wipes, which resulted in a pretty bad diaper rash. After using water and diaper clothes for a couple of months, our pediatrician suggested Water Wipes. Thankfully, these worked for our Little, and we no longer had to travel with dirty diaper cloths and a water bottle. I will say, we did feel more environmentally friendly using the cloth and water, and continued to use them at home until our Little started eating solids.
8. Breastmilk Pump
How do you pick a pump? It is not like you can test drive it to see if it will work. Maybe it will work at home, but what about at work? This was a tough call and is certainly a personal choice. Fortunately, some health insurance plans will cover the cost of a breast pump. I opted for the Medela Pump in Style for home use and the Freemie pump for at work. The Freemie pump worked very well for me at work. As a veterinarian, there were times when I was the only doctor in the hospital and my team members needed to have face-to-face conversations with me. The Freemie allowed me to have the privacy and ability to multi-task. Since, Freemie has a newer model which allows for handsfree and wireless pumping. For our second child, I opted not to go back to work and used the Spectra 9 plus. It’s a wireless pump and allowed the freedom of playing with our 2-year-old or cooking all while pumping. Another option for a wearable, handsfree, wireless pump is the Willow. Our insurance did not offer coverage for the Willow pump- so be sure to check what is offered/available to you when you start your search. You can then narrow it down by your unique pumping needs.
9. Baby Play yard
There are many on the market. We owned the Chicco playyard equiped with a bassinet, storage, and mobile. All great options in regards to at home, but what we found to need most was for travel or even day trips. A way to ensure our baby was safe and could nap on the go was very important. This is why I am a huge fan of a compact play yard, and because we owned the BabyBjörn Portable Crib, I am partial to it. It is very simple to set up and breakdown and I love the compact travel case it comes with.
Common Myth #1
Vegan children will have stunted growth. False! According to a 1991 study, performed in Southern California assessing over 1700 children, vegetarian children were actually on average taller (by roughly 1 inch) than those raised on meat and dairy. These children were also leaner. The meat consuming children had an increased risk of obesity.
Source: “Attained height of lacto-ovo vegetarian children and adolescents.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 May; 91(5):1525S-1529S.
Common Myth #2
Vegans are protein deficient. False. The protein requirements are not different based on the type of diet a child consumes. Complete proteins are found in plants. In a single cup of almonds you will find 20 grams of protein! That’s the same amount as a T-bone steak, but without the high cholesterol, fat, sodium, and so on. The reality is people don’t suffer from protein deficiencies. FIBER deficiency? Yes! So instead of worrying about the type or amount of protein, people should focus on their fiber intake. The same goes for our children.
Raising Vegan Tip- Think about this- Gorillas, Elephants, and Rhinos all eat plant-based diets and they are some of the strongest in the Animal Kingdom. PROTEINS COME FROM PLANTS!
Common Myth #3
Vegan children are overall malnourished or unhealthy. False. The health consequences of a child eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), which contains meat, eggs, and dairy is scary.
Obesity. Sadly, childhood obesity has increased by 100% in the US, as stated in Dr. Greger’s book How Not To Die. He also mentions that research shows that 75-80% of obese children will continue to be obese as adults. Childhood obesity also correlates with an increase risk of diseases (gout, colorectal cancer, arthritis) and death.
A study in 1989 showed that over 50% of children at the young age of 14 had early stages of atherosclerosis (plaque within arteries or blood vessels). 1989! We had this information 30 years ago.
“Evolution and progression of atherosclerotic lesions in coronary arteries in children and young adults.” Korean Circulation Journal. 1989.
Diabetes and Prediabetes. 20 years ago Diabetes was categorized as “Adult-onset” and “Juvenile”. It was assumed that children had Type I Diabetes, but since the SAD continues and obesity in children has been on the rise, Type II Diabetes has been diagnosed among are children and can no longer be termed “Adult-onset”. The harsh reality of children diagnosed with Type II Diabetes is the increased chance of these children suffering from secondary complications, such as blindness, kidney failure, limb amputation (neuropathy), and ultimately death.
You may be wondering how veganism relates to Diabetes since Diabetes Mellitus is a condition of eating too much sugar, right? Wrong! Science shows that it is NOT the sugar intake that causes Diabetes, but rather the FAT. The fat, also known as lipids, deposits into muscle and liver tissues. This results in insulin resistance. (I’ve skipped a few boring biochemical pathways here…but if you care to dive deeper into the biochemistry feel free to listen to the lectures by Drs. Neal Barnard, Michael Greger, Michelle McMaken, or Garth Davis. These EXPERTS all do a fantastic job of summarizing Diabetes and fat intake.) When you eat animal products such as meat, eggs, or dairy you are consuming a large amount of saturated fat with each bite. Therefore, the best way to prevent Diabetes is to limit FAT intake by eating a plant-based diet.
Ready to start Raising Vegan!?! Fantastic! First grab a Vegan Meal Planner, designed by yours truly. It is the perfect place to put all your notes, weekly meal plans, and grocery lists. Next, find a reliable plant-based meal plan such as the one created by Physicians Committee.
Going to the beach is a fun day for the whole family. The Littles have a great time exploring new textures, hearing new sounds, and seeing new sights. It will certainly wear them out for their next nap!
If you are going to the beach with a baby (not walking yet) the goal of the day is to keep them entertained in the shade. For the toddlers, you have the same goal, but add in water-safety. Toddlers can make their way to the ocean in a blink of an eye, so always be on alert!
Eating vegan at the beach may seem hard at first, but it is actually extremely easy- especially when eating healthfully. Be sure to keep yourself and the Littles well hydrated. For babies older than 9 months, water is a great supplement to formula or breast milk. Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water- so load up! Avoiding salty snacks or caffeinated drinks will help slow dehydration. Below you will find a list of our favorite beach day snacks.
Sun protection! Sunscreen, rash guards, UV protective hats, umbrellas, beach tents- these items are musts for a beach trip. No matter how long the sun exposure, everyone should be wearing sunscreen. Be sure to ask your doctor at what age they recommend babies start wearing sunscreen. In regards to UV protective hats- always read the labels. Surprisingly, not all are intended for UV protection. The label should clearly state UV protection or SPF 50+. Consider buying brightly colored rash guards, bathing suits, or UV protective hats for the Littles. This way you can easily spot them on the beach or in the water.
Raising Vegan Tip– My favorite sunscreens are zinc oxide based. Zinc oxide is a mineral and sits on the surface of your skin. It acts as a barrier reflecting and absorbing the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. It is also used to treat skin abrasions, diaper rash, and chapped skin. Bonus!
Sometimes the amount of gear needed to go to the beach can seem overwhelming. Keeping the essentials (shade, water, snacks, diapers) in mind- try to pack light.
LInks to purchase mentioned products:
Who doesn’t love a quick, delicious meal? This recipe does call for a meat substitute by Beyond Meat. Feel free to try alternatives like tempeh, soy curls or jackfruit to make this dish 100% whole plant based. This recipe serves two hungry adults and could be for the Littles sans hot sauce. Sharing the avocado is a great way to include them with this meal. Our Little LOVES chopped avocado! Our Littles also like to put peanut butter or almond butter in the tortillas and pretend they are having the same dish- whatever works!
One package of Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken Strips
1 bundle of rainbow chard**
6 small yellow corn tortillas
Chao Creamy Original cheese
1 bell pepper (any variety- I prefer orange or red for the color)
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp chili powder
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Raising Vegan Tip- Use water in place of oil when sauteing. This is a healthier alternative and will decrease the amount of saturated fats in your dish. The type of pan surface will also aid in cooking without oils.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl mix the spices and set aside. On medium heat cook the Beyond Chicken Strips until golden (usually takes ~ 10 minutes, flipping the strips halfway through). Use half of the spice mixture on the chicken strips while cooking.
Slice the bell pepper while the chicken strips are cooking. Once browned, add sliced bell pepper and sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over it. Saute until soft. I like to place a lid over the pan to allow the bell peppers to soften quicker.
While bell peppers are cooking, chop and saute rainbow chard with the lemon juice. I like the rainbow chard to still have a little firmness to it, but you may elect to have it completely cooked.
On a baking sheet lay out tortillas with small pieces of Chao cheese in the center of each. Bake at 450 degree for ~ 3-5 minutes until slightly crispy. Each oven and tortilla will cook differently, so keep an eye on the tortillas. Another option is to cook them individually in a pan, but this does take longer and doesn’t allow for all the tortillas to be ready at the same time. Once tortillas are ready- Layer chicken strips, bell peppers, and chard on each fajita. Add chopped avocado to each and serve. Tip- drain the chard prior to using.
My husband enjoys hot sauce on his fajitas. Other ways to turn the heat up is to use Chao Tomato Cayenne cheese in place of the Creamy Original.
**Other varieties of chard or collard greens are also delicious!
This is a delightful, healthy, homemade play on the traditional spaghetti O’s. It is easy to make and modify, and of course, it’s Vegan! I encourage you to add or substitute ingredients to keep this recipe evolving. It is a great way to introduce different herbs and spices or sauces to your Littles.
2 cups Vegan elbow pasta (cooked)
1/3 cup of carrot puree
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup almond milk (without carrageenan)
Raising Vegan Tip- Turmeric is a mild spice which contains curcumin. Curcumin has been found to potentially prevent and stop cancer cells from progressing. The amounts used in cooking have been shown to be adequate in helping our bodies not only fight cancer but also inflammation. To learn more please check out NutritionFacts.org for evidence-based information.
Combine all ingredients to drained, warm pasta. Stir well mixing all ingredients and coating the pasta evenly.
Serve once cooled.
There are many options for modifying this recipe. If your Little has a nut allergy feel free to use soy milk to substitute the almond milk. If your Little has a gluten allergy use chickpea pasta, rice pasta, etc in place of the wheat pasta.
Using a combination of a few ready-made items, this dish is fairly easy, fast, and tastes delicious! I like to use Trader Joe’s Asian Vegetables, but I do not use the sauce. The veggies, though frozen, cook nicely without becoming soggy or tasteless. Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki sauce is a great add to this dish, but it will increase the sodium levels. For the chick’n, I use Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n. I do enjoy the sauce that comes with this product and will use it when cooking the chick’n. It blends well with the Island Soyaki sauce. Another lighter option (Stage 3 vegan) is to use tempeh (pictured above) instead of Gardein chick’n. There are several recipes online for Vegan Teriyaki tempeh. I like to use VNutrition‘s recipe, when I have more time to invest in the tempeh.
Be sure to sit aside some steamed veggies and rice for your Littles to enjoy!
2 baby bok choy (cleaned)
12 oz sliced Golden Oak Shiitake mushrooms (cleaned)
5 oz sliced bamboo shoots
8 oz baby corn
1 package of Trader Joe’s Asian Vegetables (frozen)
1 package of Gardein’s Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n
2 cups brown rice
2 stalks of steamed broccoli chopped
1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki
Cook brown rice by boiling for ~ 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cut bok choy into ~ 2 ” pieces. Drain and rinse canned baby corn and bamboo shoots. Prepare the Gardein chick’n per directions for stove-top. Apply the sauce once the pieces are properly browned. Lower the heat and add rice to the chick’n, stirring often to prevent burning of the rice. While the chick’n is cooking, on medium heat, place frozen vegetables in a pan and cook until warmed throughout ~ 5-8 minutes, careful not to overcook. Add bok choy, baby corn, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms and place lid over pan. Allow the pan to steam until mushrooms and bok choy are soft. Add ~ 1/4 cup of Island Soyaki to the vegetables. Once the sauce is warmed and the vegetables are coated evenly remove pan from stove-top. Serve by plating the vegetables on top of the rice and chick’n mixture or combine all of the ingredients prior to plating.
Raising Vegan Tip: Cook the rice earlier in the day and set aside. This will lessen the total cooking time for this dish. You can also focus on not overcooking the rice when it is done at a more convenient time. You can also wash and prep the bok choy while the rice is cooking.
This recipe feeds two very hungry adults. The Littles can enjoy the brown rice and vegetables (carrots and broccoli) prior to seasoning. I usually prepare my Littles’ broccoli and carrots separately by steaming them. As long as the broccoli is VERY soft, they have no problem eating them. We call them “green flowers” in our home.
Just as there are many reasons to live a vegan lifestyle, there are many ways to obtain this lifestyle. Some people may be needing an immediate health-correct, in which case, switching to a whole foods plant-based diet would be indicated. Others may also want the health benefits, but are not facing an imminent health crisis and can make the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet more gradually. Based on Veganuary.com, the motivation for many people to become vegan is multifactorial: wanting to stop animal cruelty, lower the environmental impact of their diet choices, and improve their health. I mention these scenarios as a preface to me proposing stages of veganism. Hear me out.
For those who have been raised on meat and dairy products, the thought of quitting those foods up may be hard. It may even seem impossible. Despite knowing that the evidence and science supports their decision, it can be an internal struggle of self-doubt. Many are faced with loved ones questioning their decision while being surrounded by ads for enticing meat and dairy products. They many experience fear of cravings or failure.
This is why I am proposing stages. Initially, when transitioning to a vegan diet, I recommend utilizing the vast array of products designed to mimic meat and dairy. The food science has exponentially grown over the past 10 years. Now you can find vegan burger patties that are juicy and sizzle in the pan (i.e. Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger). You can find vegan cheeses that slice, dice, and melt, just like the real thing, but without the terrifying hormones and saturated fats. The use of these items helps quiet the cravings and helps the initial feel of isolation from your omnivore loved ones. Bring the Beyond Meat patties to a BBQ or offer a dairy-free cheese spread at your next party. These are nice, easy ways to step into the vegan lifestyle. The key is to incorporate these meat and dairy substitutes into a well rounded vegan diet, which is comprised of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans.
Raising Vegan Tip- Beware of products packaged as dairy-free or lactose-free but are not actually vegan. How is this possible? Casein. Casein is a milk protein that slips into seemingly healthy products but it is in fact milk. Go Veggie is one brand that comes to mind that offers lactose-free (NOT vegan) and vegan products. Be sure to ALWAYS read the ingredients.
|Stage 1||Meat Substitutes||Dairy Alternatives|
|Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with Processed Foods||Gardein, Quorn*, Beyond Meat, Carla Lee’s Nut, Tofurky, Field Roast, Morning Star*, Lightlife||Chao Creamery, Silk, Follow Your Heart, Go Veggie*, Just Mayo, Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozarella, Tofutti, Daiya, So Delicious, Miyoko’s|
|Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with LESS Processed Foods||Upton’s Naturals, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Trader Joe’s 3-grain tempeh||Some from above, nutritional yeast, nut cheeses|
|Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with FEW to NO Processed Foods||Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, Miso paste, Mushrooms, Jackfruit, Lentils, Beans||Nutritional yeast, homemade nut cheese, tofu ricotta, etc|
*Not all Brands are strictly vegan
**There are more brands than shown here.
It is amazing to me how the senses, especially taste and smell, change with a diet change. After just a few months of quitting meat and dairy, vegetables and fruits are more favorable. Even plain tofu tastes good, which I commonly serve to our Little. My husband and I were preparing a Beyond Meat burger the other day, and we were astonished by the resemblance of a beef patty. Flashback to when we first quit meat and we would have been thrilled. But, now the fake flesh was no longer appetizing. The smell and the way it sizzled was also a perfect replica of a burger cooking. Again, this would have been very enticing long ago, but now not so much. Our bodies crave different foods and feel better when they receive what they were designed to digest. I proudly support the mimicking fake meats, because they are great transitional foods. There are certainly plenty of veteran vegans that also enjoy them- so well done Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger!