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.

round logo

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! 

meal2

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.

round logo

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.

IMG_4915

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.

IMG_4911

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.

img_4916.jpg

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!


Spaghetti E’s

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.

Ingredients

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)

round logoRaising 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. 

Directions

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.

Enjoy!

 


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!


Veganism Made Easy

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.

round logo 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
Stage 2
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
Stage 3
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!


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.

vegansafeb12_magento

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.

round logo

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.


Cruelty-free “Egg” Decorating

Our family LOVES to get creative for Easter and make “Egg People”.  A tradition that started in 2009 and continues to be a creative outlet for both adults and kids!  By using a variety of egg substitutes, Egg People are cruelty-free.

 

There are plenty of cruelty-free options for egg substitutes: plastic, paper mache, ceramic, wooden, or even river rocks.  The ceramic eggs (eggnots) dye nicely and will give the same texture/feel as a real egg.  These egg alternatives are also perfect if the Little has an egg allergy.  Several egg alternative products can be re-used several times.

round logo Raising Vegan Tip- Most glues are made with animal products, such as gelatin.  The good news is that Hot Glue Sticks are VEGAN because they are made from thermoplastics.  

Start by finding anything and everything that can be hot-glued to your cruelty-free egg.  Dye or paint your egg substitute and let the creativity begin!  There are an array of natural egg dying kits on the market, which work really well.  Another option is to make your own dyes from veggies. Use turmeric for yellow eggs, red cabbage for blue, beets for pink, and so on.   The timing and amount of dying will determine the intensity of color, so the possibilities are endless!

Here are some products to kick-start the fun!  Each picture is an affiliate link.






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!

label

round logo

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