3 Myths about Raising Vegan

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.

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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! 

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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!  Vegan meal plan options are available online, but be cautious of your source.  I will be posting meal plans and nutritional goals soon.  In the meantime, check out one website I trust- Physicians Committee to get your meal planning going!  


Beach Day with Littles!

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.  


Snack List:

pouches

Found on Thrive Market

  1. Organic Vegan food pouches- We especially like unsweetened applesauce for the Littles.  Once they enjoy combination flavors- there are so many options for delicious organic vegan food pouches.  You can also make your own!
  2. Fruit!  Oranges, bananas, grapes (not for the four-legged family members), apples, pears, mango, the list goes on.  For convenience sake- we prefer bananas and oranges- easier fruits that don’t require a knife.
  3. Hummus and Veggies– celery, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, etc.  Depending on how the age of your Little, the veggies may need to be steamed in advance.
  4. WATER!  Depending on the beach, you may have access to clean, fresh, drinking water, but if not- bring a lot of water!  We prefer to bring a gallon of drinking water to refill bottles and a gallon of tap water to wash hands prior to eating.
  5. Coconut water.  If your family is prone to dehydration, coconut water is your answer.  I’ll spare you the boring details, but its electrolyte balance makes it ideal for quick hydration.
  6. Nuts.  Almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.  All are great sources of protein and omega-3.  I recommend finding the unsalted variety.  Nuts are a choking hazard for kids under the age of 2 years.  As long as your Little doesn’t have a nut allergy, almond butter or other nut butter packets are great snacks.  However, the consistency of the butters can be very hard for babies to swallow.  For the babies, nut butters should be diluted to a sauce consistency for easier swallowing.
  7. Dried Fruits.  For the adults or older Littles, I am a huge fan of dried mango, dried apricots, etc.  While eating a whole fruit is ideal, the convenience of dried fruit is great for the beach!


Thrive Market


IMG_4974Sun 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.

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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.  Below is a list of a few of our favorites. Click on the affiliate-linked pictures for quick purchasing.  

Beach Gear:

Our favorite sunscreen for Littles:

Best Beach Tent- Fits 2 adults and 2 Littles and is very easy to set up and break down.  I especially love the built-in sand bags so it doesn’t fly away!

Great Beach Mat that allows sand to fall through it when packing.  We also like beach mats since the surface of this mat can be rough for crawlers.

UV protective hats are a must!

Great toys to keep Littles occupied.

A tub at the beach?  Yes!  Fill it up with ocean water and let the Littles splash and play.  Also keeps the Littles cool.  Always supervise!

Beach wagon!  Any variety with all-terrain wheels will work great for hauling gear or Littles!

Women’s rash guard- Don’t forget to protect yourself!


10-minute Fajitas

Who doesn’t love a quick, delicious meal?  This recipe does call for a meat substitute by Beyond Meat.  Feel free to try alternatives (i.e. jackfruit) to make this dish 100% whole plant based.  This recipe serves two hungry adults and isn’t meant for the Littles.  Sharing the avocado is a great way to include them with this meal.  Our Little LOVES chopped avocado!

Ingredients:

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

 

round logoRaising 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.  

 

Directions:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


Asian Stir fry

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!

Ingredients:

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
Click on this affiliate link to purchase Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki 20Oz (1LB 4Oz)

Directions:

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.

round logoRaising 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.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you or need groceries delivered- Amazon has a great selection.  Click on the pictures below, which are affiliate links, to order some of my favorites!


No-Bake Lactation Snack

These yummy snacks are perfect for the busy day when a sit-down meal seems impossible.  Bonus! The ingredients (oats, chia seed, and flaxseed) are known to boost milk production for lactating mamas.  These are not meant for Littles, but the older kids will enjoy.

This easy recipe can be made in 5 minutes, the hard part is waiting for them to freeze.  When I make them I often find myself eating a spoonful or two before they make it to the freezer.  It’s also delicious as a topping on vegan yogurt.

Ingredients:Enjoy Life, Semi Sweet Chocolate Chip, 10 oz

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup agave or maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

10 oz peanut butter (can substitute for other nut butters)

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
Click this affiliate link to purchase Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Mini Chips Pck of 2

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  The goal is for the mixture to be sticky enough to shape into balls.  Sometimes I need more agave or peanut butter to hold the dry ingredients together.  Roll mixture into small balls (1″) and place on cookie sheet.  Freeze for 1 hour. Enjoy!  Store them in the freezer.  These were a life saver for me with our newborn.    

round logo Raising Vegan tip- Chia seeds are a superfood, which provide protein, omega-3, and fiber.  They also provide nutrients used by baby for healthy brain development.  


Do you get enough protein?

This is a common question we get from our omnivore friends and relatives.  Once one educates themselves on the protein amounts in vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains, the question becomes laughable.  In one stalk of broccoli there is over 4 grams of protein.  One cup of almonds has the same amount of protein (20 grams) as a T-bone steak, and almonds are high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin B-2 (riboflavin), and so on.

So, are there any deficiencies to worry about with veganism?  Yes, one vitamin missing in a whole foods plant-based diet is vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin.  This vitamin is crucial for the nervous system and red blood cell production.  Only bacteria can produce B-12, so unless you are eating very dirty veggies, a supplement is needed.  It is very important for pregnant or nursing women following a vegetarian or vegan diet to take a B-12 supplement this will prevent the baby from having a B-12 deficiency.

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Click on picture to purchase B-12 using an affiliate link

Not all B-12 supplements are created equally.  Vitamin B-12 supplements in pill form may be swallowed and skip the gastric acids found in saliva and the stomach.  These acids are needed to breakdown the vitamin and allow it to be absorbed by the small intestine.  With this in mind, taking antacids, such as Pepcid or Prilosec, may reduce the absorption of vitamin B-12.  I prefer to take supplements in the most bioactive form, meaning the body doesn’t need to break it down or convert it to an active form.  For cobalamin, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are the most bioactive forms.  Find this in a liquid form and you are in business!  Now just make sure the product is vegan.

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Raising Vegan Tip-  The  recommended amount of Vitamin B-12 is 2000-2500 mcg/week.  Taking the B-12 supplement in the morning may give you a boost of energy.

 

Affiliate Link:
VeganSafe™ B-12 is a blend of the two most bioactive forms of vitamin B-12, an essential nutrient for normal energy levels and the cardiovascular system.


Hearty Chili

This is our go-to chili recipe.  We’ve modified it over the years and it just keeps getting better!  It is truly easy to cook, especially when using a crock-pot.  Just combine all the ingredients in either a pan on stove, stirring occasionally or in a slow cooker and let it simmer all day.  This spicy recipe is perfect for a cold rainy day, but it may be a bit too zippy for some.  I’d only recommend this chili for the older kids, since the intact beans are a choking hazard.  To include the Littles in this meal, simply offer the beans, lentils, and steamed bell pepper.  Mash the legumes for the younger Littles to prevent choking.  Also, be cautious about the shells that encase the garbanzo beans, as these can cause choking.  This chili freezes well, so it can be made in advance and stored for the perfect day!

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Raising Vegan tip- Check food labels for sodium levels and always try to buy the item with the lowest amount.

Ingredients:

1/2 chopped yellow onion

2 celery stalks chopped

2 chopped green bell peppers

1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (3 cloves)

4 oz can of chopped jalapeños Image result for chile vegetable

1 (4 oz) can of chopped green chiles (drained)

1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans, drained

1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained

1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained

1 (15 oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained

3 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes

2 cups of cooked green lentils ***

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp ground black pepper

2 crumbled bay leaves (no stems)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and let simmer for 4 to 6 hours.  If using a pot on stove-top, I recommend allowing it to simmer for ~ 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve immediately.  Tastes great served with vegan sourdough toast.

***Optional lentil substitutes are browned vegan meat crumbles or jackfruit.  Since this is a SPICY chili, if you’d like to turn down the heat my suggestion is to use mild jalapeños or remove them entirely.

Click this affiliate link to purchase Crock-Pot SCCPVL605-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Oval Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel


10-minute Tofu Scramble

This is an absolute favorite in our house- even the Little loves it!!  It’s fast, simple, and can be re-heated to enjoy with many meals.

Ingredients:

16 oz Extra-firm tofu, drained and dried (I prefer Trader Joe’s Super Firm)

3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Click this affiliate link to purchase Trader Joes Nutritional Yeast

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp onion powder

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp dried or fresh parsley

1/4 c. water

fresh ground black pepper to taste

round logoRaising Vegan Tip- Nutritional yeast is a complete protein and contains fiber.  It is also an excellent source for vitamin B-12, along with many other essential vitamins.  Use it as a topping to salads or pasta dishes, to substitute for cheese.  

Directions:

Drain and pat dry the extra firm tofu and set aside.  In a small bowl mix nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, onion powder, black pepper and water.  Saute garlic in a pan on medium heat.  Add crumbled tofu (use your hands to crumble) into the pan and pour the spice mixture over the tofu.  Mix to ensure the tofu is covered evenly with the mixture.  Cook on medium stirring often for ~ 5 minutes to warm tofu evenly.  Sprinkle parsley over and serve.

*If you prefer your scramble to be more “runny” simply skip the drying step of the tofu.


Skincare and Pregnancy

Thanks to a close friend’s suggestion, one of the first purchases I made after the news of being pregnant was the book Expecting 411This fantastic quick reference book, written by two women physicians, a pediatrician and a OB/GYN, covers it all!  After skimming most of the chapters, but carefully avoiding the “Labor Day” section (after all I had 9 months) I came across the do’s and don’ts of skincare products.  One main ingredient to avoid is Vitamin A, which has many names, i.e. retinol, retinol acetate, and 3-dehydroretinol.  So, after reading the tiny labels on my skincare products, I needed to go shopping!

Things to consider when purchasing skincare products- the ingredients (No Vitamin A) and the manufacturer.  For me, it’s important to ensure the product is both vegan and cruelty-free.  Sadly, these two things do not always go hand in hand, so a little investigating is required.  If the product is sold in mainland China, it MUST be tested on animals, and therefore not an option for me.  The symbols to look for are

PETA’s Beauty without Bunnies offers an excellent database and remains my go-to for screening skincare products.

NCF_2_final_2048xWarning- Not all companies have made it on the PETA database.  My favorite facial moisturizer by French Girl, is both vegan and cruelty-free, but was not found in the database.

What is your favorite vegan & cruelty-free skincare product?

Click this affiliate link to purchase French Girl Organics – Organic / Vegan Neroli Creme Fraiche Facial Moisturizer (1 oz)


Prenatal Vitamins

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The prenatal vitamin that I took religiously prior, during, and after pregnancy.

Pregnant! Now, what? Prenatal vitamins! They are critical for providing the essential nutrients that our fast growing babies use from our bodies during pregnancy.  Our pediatrician once said that the mother’s body is altruistic and will allow the growing baby to take all the needed nutrients.  Therefore, we must replenish ourselves so we can continue to aid in the healthy development of our babies.

On the store shelves or online, there are hundreds of choices for prenatal vitamins.

The top 4 things I look for in a prenatal vitamin:

  1. Quality- I prefer plant-based vitamins
  2. Vitamins! Consult with your doctor or health expert for your personal needs
  3. Once a day dosing- with morning sickness, you do not want to have to swallow 3 pills a day
  4. Vegan- of course!

Some people may not be aware that animal by-products can be found in our supplements and vitamins as gelatin.  If the vitamin is in a capsule or chewable form, then it is likely made with gelatin.  Gelatin is a protein used to hold substances together and can act as a glue.  It can be found in a long list of items, from marshmallows to photo paper.  Where does gelatin come from?  Sadly, bones.  To avoid bones in your vitamins look for the  or “Vegan” declared on the bottle/package.  When in doubt scan the ingredients and don’t forget to read the inactive ingredients!

Click this affiliate link to purchase Rainbow Light – Prenatal One Multivitamin, 90 Count, Folic Acid, Probiotic, Iron

Side note regarding inactive ingredients, Brand name medications and generic medications do not have to have the same inactive ingredients.  And yes, inactive ingredients have the potential to cause unwanted side effects.  The active ingredients can also vary to some extent.  The FDA requires that blood concentrations of the brand and generic drug are within a 6% variance.  So, it is good to know what is in your medications and how well your body tolerates them.

Another buzz word to look for when shopping for supplements is carrageenan.  When shopping for my daughter’s pain relief OTC medication (teething time), I was horrified to find carrageenan as an inactive ingredient in various liquid acetaminophen formulas.  FYI, Infant Tylenol grape flavor is carrageenan-free (at least the last time I purchased it).  To learn more about this complicated substance, check out the dedicated post “Carrageenan”-coming soon!