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!


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.  


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


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)