Saturday, January 5, 2013

Vegan-Veggie Foods My Kids Love

 I am beginning to see many more products these days in the grocery store that incorporate veggies or fruits in their products (what a concept!)  Although I prefer not to use too many boxed or packaged foods, sometimes they do come in handy for things like snacks, lunch boxes or foods to take on the go.  Here are a few of my children's favorites that kids will love and moms will approve. 

Veggie Stix

My kids all time favorite snack are Veggie Stix.  When I first found  these I thought there was no way they were going to accept them and I was sure they were going cry for potato chips.  But I was wrong.  They love them!!  I pack these in school lunches and as a snack for times when we may be out for a while.  I even pack them in my lunch too.  They are definitely not the same as real veggies, but a much better option than regular chips.  

Applesauce on the Go

One of my new favorite snacks to pack in my little one’s lunch box is GoGo Squeez applesauce on the go.  The box comes with four in a pack and they come in a variety of flavors.  So far my daughter’s favorite is apple-peach.  Other flavors are apple-mango, apple-strawberry, apple-cinnamon, apple-banana, apple-berry, apple-cherry and apple-apple.  Besides the really cute box and handy squeezable pouches, the best part for me is the ingredients.  The apple-peach ingredients are: apple, peach and apple juice concentrate.  That’s it, no sugar, high fructose corn syrup or junk! You can check out GoGo Squeeze products on their webpage at

Veggie Pasta

I just love the idea of pastas made with veggies.  My two favorite are Barilla’s Veggie Farfalle made with pureed carrots and squash and Ronzoni’s Garden Delight fettuccine made with dried carrot, tomato and spinach.   I often make a veggie pasta dish with carrots, zucchini, squash and mushrooms and most of the time I find many of the veggies left on my kids’ plates.  At least with these pastas I can feel that they got at least a little bit of veggie goodness even if they don’t eat the veggies. 

Vegetable Crackers

Both my kids love Ritz Roasted Vegetable crackers.   Yes there are veggies in these, but they are not at the top of the ingredients and there are things like sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  I am not claiming this to be a health food.  But when I find a cracker that is vegan, made with veggies and both my kids love them I cannot ignore them.  Besides this is only a snack food and a great way to incorporate other great foods.  You can top them with hummus or peanut butter to make it a healthier snack.  I say any food that gets your child to eat a healthy food is worth reviewing! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Good-Bye to My Long Time Friend...Penelope

A few days ago, I had to say good-bye to my long time feline companion, Penelope.  Penelope and I had been together for the last seventeen years…long before there were any children or husband, there was me and Penelope.  She was given to me as a kitten by a family member and back then, I had no idea just how long she was going to be with me or how much I would grow to love her!

Penelope was full of personality and a little bit of attitude.  She loved to be near me, but never wanted to be touched.  You could pet her on the head, but anywhere else would get you a nip on the hand.   And if I called her name in a way to let her know she was doing something wrong, she would whip her tail back and forth–her way of flicking me off!  It wasn't long before I knew she was her own cat and I had to respect the way she was and not invade her space, so I would just let her approach me whenever she was ready then give her the attention she loved.  She was definitely a strong willed kitty with lots of persistence and will.  Even when she was ill, she kept trying to get up and walk around.  I knew she would not give in and let herself go…so I had to make that decision for her, because it was the best thing for her.

In my life I have lost loved ones and each time it was painful and difficult to accept.  Losing my kitty was no different.  For anyone who thinks the loss of a pet cannot be as painful as the loss of a human, has never truly loved a pet.  For two days I wept, feeling depressed and guilty.  The absence was the same, maybe even more.  Every day for the last seventeen years we have been together…I can’t say that about any human.  Every morning I have seen her face, many times I would wake up with her in my bed.  And each day as she came to me for food and water, she would give me a little rub on the leg, as if to say “thank you.” And now, she is gone. 

In some ways it’s like Penelope is still here.  My other kitty, Ginger, who has always been a very sweet and a reserved kitty has all of a sudden become assertive and is doing many of the things that Penelope used to do.  It’s really kind of strange and unbelievable at the same time.  Even more, my 5 year old came into my room the other night saying that she couldn’t sleep because Penelope was sitting on her desk and making noise.  We are not sure if that was a dream or if she truly saw her, but in either case, I think Penelope spirit is still with us.

I am so grateful that I got to share Penelope’s life with her and I hope that I helped to make her life happy and full of joy.   I will focus my attention now to our other furry family members…my kitty Ginger, my Chihuahua Lola, and my newest family member, a terrier mix we named Einstein.   Einstein is so full of energy and is just the sweetest puppy ever!  I got him from my vet as I was there with Penelope.  He had been dropped off and needed a home.  I was prepared to say no when they asked me, but when they brought him out I just melted.  The last thing I needed was a new puppy as I was taking care of my very sick kitty, but now he has become exactly what I needed… to help me move on.  It’s like “the circle of life” around here.  Last month I had two cats and a dog, and now I have two dogs and a cat. I truly feel that our pets do not belong to us, they only share their life with us–and we should feel fortunate to be able to do so!

Meet my furry family members:



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Time for Hurricane Shopping {Vegan Style}

It is hurricane season once again here in Florida and it’s looking like it may be that time again where we all go out and do hurricane shopping.  It has been seven years since we have had a hurricane scare here.  In 2005 we had two storms, hurricanes Rita and Katrina, one after the other.  Back then I was a single mom (dating my now husband) living in an apartment with my daughter and it was long before I was vegan or vegetarian or even thinking about it.  So hurricane shopping at that time was a lot of meat products, such as tuna and other canned meats, canned pastas with meat, mac and cheese, dry dairy products and any other food items that were non-perishable––meaning anything not fresh, healthy or nutritious because it could last on the shelf forever. 

Now we are in the threat of another storm, tropical storm Isaac that may very well become hurricane Isaac and is currently on track to make impact or come very close to Florida, or more importantly for me, Miami!  I realize that I need to go out and do my hurricane shopping that I have done dozens of times before.  But now things are different because I cannot buy all those canned meat products that I relied on for so long.  With the possibility of being without power or access to a grocery store for a few days, what kinds of things can I buy that will stay fresh and keep me faithful to my new vegan life? 

I’m starting to feel like I did a few years ago, like a vegan newbie not knowing where to begin.  Now if I was shopping just for me I could have peanut butter sandwiches every day, but I also have my hubby and four children to feed.  And my little one has not taken to peanut butter yet (I’m trying).  It would be great if I could find a canned food for her that is vegan, but I know from my normal shopping that it is very difficult to find canned foods that don’t have meat or dairy.  Well I guess this will be another learning experience and just another hurdle to jump in my journey to becoming vegan. 

My hurricane shopping list (so far):

·         Peanut butter
·         Bread
·         Crackers
·         Rice cakes
·         Soy chips
·         Sweet potato chips (love these!)
·         Water
·         Lots of Fruitables juice boxes
·         Veggie Stix (her favorite snack)
·         Canned beans
·         Canned veggies
·         Food dehydrator

 I have been meaning to get a food dehydrator and I think now is the perfect time.  During my research on dehydrating foods, I learned that dehydrated food has a very long shelf life.  So then I can make a bunch of different kinds of veggie chips or fruit that will last for weeks. 

Here are a few links I found while searching for ideas for vegan hurricane shopping:

I will update after my shopping trip…any ideas or suggestions from others will be greatly appreciated! J

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dealing With Ignorance

I knew that not everyone would understand or agree with our decision to go vegan, but I am getting so tired of dealing with ignorance from other people and having to explain or even defend our food choices. The other day, my teenage daughter comes home from volleyball practice and advices me that her coach is not happy that we do not eat meat. She goes on to tell me that her coach told her that she needs to have protein, even if just a little. The funny thing is my daughter is not vegan. She eats meat at school and at her father’s house. So her coach is upset because one of the three places she eats at she does not get meat!! Being used to hearing this ignorant comment from people, I just blew it off and continued with what I was doing. But as the night went on, I began to get more and more upset and eventually I was angry!

Who is she to tell my daughter how we should be eating? Each year around this time when the volleyball team is conditioning for the season, the coach advices them to eliminate fast foods and soda and other things that will hinder their performance. I appreciate that. But that is where it should end. I am the parent and I have made a well-researched and educated decision to better the health of my family; so I do not appreciate her telling my daughter that she should be eating something that I have removed from our diet. Here I am trying to get her to stop eating meat outside of my home, and I have this lady telling her different. She should respect my decision and if she has concerns, she should have addressed them with me.

Now I am conflicted with whether or not to confront the coach about this. My first thought was to write her an email expressing my unhappiness and offer her some insight as to why we are vegan. But then I thought why do I have to explain myself and defend my choices? I shouldn’t have to. But maybe if I can show her the reasoning and show her some of the many successful vegan athletes, she will never bring it up to my daughter again. I’m not sure what I will do. I just wish people would do some research and educate themselves before offering ignorant advice.

When I was a meat eater no one ever asked me if I was getting enough fruits and vegetables, or was I getting enough calcium and minerals, and no one cared if I had enough fiber to pass all the meat I ate. And no one EVER asked about, or was concerned with, the nutrition of my children! But when we become vegan, everyone is suddenly concerned if my kids get enough protein. The ironic thing is I now pay more attention to what we eat and the amount of nutrients we get than I ever did when we ate meat. I make sure to incorporate all important nutrients in my children’s diet, not just protein. But yet I still find that I have to explain and defend my choices. Does any parent ever have to explain why they feed McDonalds to their kids! No, but they should. I hope one day plant-based diets will be the norm and my children will not have to explain to others why they feed good food to their children.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

In honor of Vegan Pizza Day, I thought I would share my family's favorite pizza recipies.  Pizza night in my house has now become an anticipated event.  Although at first, I wasn't sure how my family was going to accept home made pizza instead of take-out or delivery.  But it has become a wonderful thing.  Not only does my whole family enjoy our homemade vegan pizzas, but they now request it!

Making our own pizza has got to be the easiest, most cost effective, and best change we have made so far.  The process takes less than 20 minutes from fridge to table and costs about $10 to make two. It is a great meal for nights when you don't have much time or energy for cooking.   I use an already made pizza crust (vegan of course), which makes the process so much easier.  I know many people enjoy making thier crust and I have read that it is not that difficult.  Maybe one day I will attempt it, but for now I am enjoying the pre-made.  I like to use a thin and crispy pizza crust and the family seems to agree. 

For pizza sauce, I use the grocery store brand.  One jar is enough for both pizzas.  For the cheese, the one I like the best is  Daiya Mozzarella Shredds. It melts well and has a good flavor.   My hubby acctually likes it better than regular cheese, and so do I.

Tofu & Veggie Pizza
Vegan Pizza with Kale Chips

For the hubby and I, I usually top our pizza with sauted mushrooms, green peppers, onions and tofu. I saute the veggies and small cubes of tofu in a little oil for a few minutes with some salt & peper, oregano and garlic and then top the pizza and bake for 10 minutes.  But you can use whatever you have around.  I have also topped ours with kale, spinach and red peppers.  The possibilities are endless.  We love to add a side of kale chips and this make for a great movie night dinner!

For the kids, I have found that they prefer a yellow or mixed cheese. I also top theirs with meat-free pepperoni.  I just happened to find it one day at Whole Foods and it does taste great.  They didn't even know at first that it wasn't regular pepperoni.  The kids just love this pizza and I am happy that I can make something that is not bad for them that they love.  They have even told me that they like this pizza better than the one's that we used to order. 

I love when my family asks what's for dinner and the smiles I get when I say pizza.  It's a great feeling that they are embracing the changes I'm making.  Now vegan pizza night has become a happy occation at my house!