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!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good-Bye Preschool Lunch

Well the time has finally come…my little one has graduated from preschool! Although this in itself is a joyous occasion and is reason to celebrate, I am also celebrating for another reason—that she will no longer be subjected to the preschool lunch that I have had to let her eat for the past two years. You see her preschool does not allow the children to bring their own food, unless for some medical reason.

I am so excited that I have already gone out and purchased her new lunch box for kindergarten, as well as a new Disney Princess hot food thermos. And I am already making up lunch ideas that I think she will love. I’m thinking of main dish things like black beans and rice (her favorite), veggie nuggets, spinach nuggets, vegan mac & cheese, whole wheat spaghetti. For snack or sides I want to put things like veggie sticks, sweet potato chips, or kale chips instead of regular potato chips, and of course Fruitables for her drink.

I am so excited to finally be in control of her entire diet (well, except for when she’s at grandma’s house, but that’s another blog post) and to expose her to new and exciting things each day for lunch. I work as a substitute teacher and I see the kinds of things parents send for their kids to eat and it just amazes me how little effort is often put into their lunch. Good nutrition is one of the most important things you can do for your child and it is crucial to start from the beginning. I am eager to get started! I will also be home with her for the summer, so this is a good test run to see what things she will eat, so it doesn’t end up in the school trash. I will start posting about her lunches when the school year begins to share with others what things work and what things went wrong. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why I Will Not "Like" a Post for Cancer

Lately I have seen many FB posts saying to like the post if you want to cure cancer or put a post as your status for the day to help stop cancer. I will never do this and I would like to explain why. I don't want anyone to think that I just do not care, because I do. You see cancer has touched my family and had a very strong effect on me. In my lifetime, I have seen six family members suffer from cancer and have lost four of them. Two of them, I had to watch die before me, an experience that stays will you always. So why am I not willing to promote and spread the hate for cancer on facebook? Because the way to end cancer is not by sharing that you want to stop it and definitely not by raising money to find a cure. The way to end cancer is to start with yourself!

Cancer is too often a result of what we have done to ourselves throughout our lifetime, mostly without even knowing it. Yes there are those that are born with cancer or get it in childhood. But so much of it is a result of our decisions and lifestyle.  You end cancer not by writing a check for research or by waiting for a cure. You end it with personal responsibility...yes I said personal! The problem is in fact the "by stander effect" That everyone is waiting for someone else to take the responsibility, but the responsibility must start with you. You fight cancer with everything you eat, with everything you put on your body, with everything you put in your environment. I heard the other day that they are expecting cancer rates to increase by 75%! Why, as a result of countries adopting a western diet.  That alone should tell us that we are doing something wrong.

We have been raising money for breast cancer for many years, and are still no closer to finding a cure. Why are we so quick to spend the effort to raise money, and then go home and eat something that will contribute to our own cancer?? This must be a personal mission for all of us, to say to ourselves that we are not going to be a victim. It pains me to see places like KFC with pink buckets of chicken in October help cure breast cancer. If they really wanted to help, they would just tell you to not eat their chicken! But they dont' care, it is only a marketing tool to make you feel better for buying your family that bucket of chicken.

What we all need is information and education, that's the best tool for fighting this. I am turning 40 this year and I wish I knew at 5 what I know now. We need to teach our young how cancer grows and what things contribute (like dairy) to the growth of cancer cells so they may make a lifetime of good decisions to ensure a healthy life. You see it is not death that I fear, it is life...a life filled with pain and suffering and living with cancer. I watched this happen to my dear aunt and for 8 weeks I watched her go from being the wonderful loving person she had always been to someone I didn't know and I had to watch her die a little everyday. I became her caregiver and had to take over her life, because she could not live it anymore. Only two years before, I watched her husband die in the ER, after battling with his cancer.

So I may not have cancer, but I do live with it. I will take all the knowledge I have gained and give to my children so they can make good choices. And I now think about cancer with every healthy meal I make and I know why I choose the life I live. Not mostly for me, but for those that would have to live my life for me if I can't. So remember, cancer is not just about you, but for all those that will be forced to suffer with you that you will leave behind. So the next time you get a post asking you to "like" it to stop cancer, think about the things you are doing for yourself, the food you eat, the toxins you spray, the products you put on your body and ask yourself, are you really going to hope they find a cure?