Manly meat is so hard to give up! When I went vegetarian in December 2015, my boys declared “We will never give up meat! We love meat!” I prepared the same meal for all three of us, just adding in a little chicken, beef, or fish for them. When I decided to go vegetarian, it was plain and simple; “I don't like meat, why am I eating it?” So, I stopped. Easy Peasy. I ate eggs everyday, mostly, because we had chickens and we had a lot of eggs to use. I also LOVED cheese. My manly-men needed their meat! Once I started studying holistic nutrition and learned about the plant-based lifestyle and it's ability to reverse disease, I was SOLD! I'm a type A personality. You've heard me say this before, I'm an all or nothing kind of gal. My poor husband, he loves me anyway!
I started sharing all the information with my boys, educating them on the amazing health benefits of a plant-based life...they were not as excited as me, but I'm happy to say they were a little frightened by what they learned about animal products. *cue evil laugh. I told them that if they wanted meat, they had to cook it themselves. Well, that was easy because no one cooks around here but me. I win, again!! So, that was it, no more meat. That's where we started and then, eventually, weened off of the cheese and eggs. Well, eggs were not difficult for us to cut out of our diets after an eye-opening article that described the chicken's egg as part of their menstrual cycle!! REALITY CHECK! GROSS!!
Our transition consisted of some “fake” meats...meats made with soy protein, vegetable protein, and/or vital wheat gluten. These are not health foods and I would never want to advocate for that as they are highly processed foods. However, they made our transition A LOT easier. These “fake” meats have helped us get on track and stay the course.
Vital wheat gluten, when used to make vegan meat, is referred to as Seitan. I have practiced with this numerous times coming up with some pretty delicious and fun recipes like “chicken” and bbq “ribs”. It's actually really easy to work with, but takes a while to cook. Confused as to what vital wheat gluten is?
My son has always loved pepperoni. After eliminating meat from our diets, he would say “I'm craving pepperoni”...he's a weirdo. Well, being that I love him so much, I went in search of a plant-based pepperoni and came upon the Fat Free Vegan Blog. I haven't adapted her recipe at all, other than subbing what ever nut butter I have on hand when she calls for cashew butter (I have never had cashew butter so I have used peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower butter on separate occasions.) This recipe is spot on for the “taste” of pepperoni!! The texture is a off...I would describe it as soft and maybe a little doughy. My son likes the softness, but I have tried adding more time to the baking time and have had success with a firmer and drier pepperoni; play around with the baking time and see what works best for your taste buds. I shared this with our nutrition workshop participants and everyone seemed to really like the flavor! Even some of their kids gave it a thumbs up. So, if you are already plant-based give this one a try for some new meatiness, but even if you're not plant-based, yet, give this a try and maybe we can convert you!!
Here are a few tips:
-Get your hands in there and work the dough! It will be too tough to use a spoon.
-The recipe calls for a 7 inch log, this will give you about a 1.5 inch in diameter slice of pepperoni. If you want smaller slices (like you'd find in regular pepperoni), you can create (2)-7 inch logs with the logs being narrower in circumference. Just wrap them separately in foil and decrease baking time by 10 minutes.
-You may prefer a drier pepperoni...just add a little time to the recommended baking time
-I always double the recipe...it lasts for about 2 weeks when sealed in the refrigerator.
-Eastyn's favorite is a pepperoni and mustard sandwich!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Veggeroni (Seitan Pepperoni)
From the Fat Free Vegan Blog
On the inside I feel young, but the mirror keeps telling me differently. Why do I even have mirrors? New lines keep popping up and I'm not going to say I like them because I don't, at all. But they do remind me that I am not as young as I feel and that's OK. With age comes wisdom and clarity(and wrinkles and sagging skin-GAG!). As I reflect on the years passed, I think how important some things seemed and FELT and now...laughable. During my twenties, I traveled with my husband as he made his rounds through 6 years of independent league professional baseball (not as exciting as it sounds-imagine living in a hotel room for half a year in a strange city...with a baby! AND a husband gone half of the week). I'll share some of those stories another time. But, through those years, states, cities and stadiums I've met some amazing people...good and bad. It's not just those EXPERIENCES that have shaped my opinion of what makes a GOOD person, it's every experience I've had: jobs, family, friends (ex-friends), having a child… Every time I have an interaction with those people that test my ability to be a decent human being, I remember my list...we can all use a reminder to just BE GOOD........
5. BE Perfectly Imperfect- I would never want anyone to think I am perfect. I WANT to be WEIRD and different and even a little CRAZY! I get mad, sometimes for no reason. I fight with my husband. I yell at my kid. I don't wear deodorant. I “make” cereal for dinner sometimes. I start projects and never finish them. I get obsessed with ideas one day and then, totally and completely abandon them the next. I hide chocolate from my family so I can eat it all myself. I like to put a big piece of spinach in my teeth and keep it there until someone notices. I can be really loud, and DRAMATIC, and get so excited about the smallest things, but also, have my feelings hurt very easily. I scream, yell, rant and rave, but I LOVE, just like all my other OBSESSIONS, deeply, completely, TOTALLY, 100% with EVERYTHING I have and sometimes it's too much, but mostly it's just ENOUGH.
You don't have to LIKE everybody and everybody is NOT going to like you.
But stick to that old adage:
Peace, Love, Plants,
As I'm sitting in the hotel room waiting for my son's next hockey game to start, I'm thinking, what are we going to eat when we are done?! Sometimes it feels like such a battle; especially, when my family can't make a decision. We grabbed something quick at Whole Foods earlier, but I'm sure the team is going to want to go to a restaurant together. Quite frankly, I'm tired of black bean burgers!! That's usually our only “vegan” option on most menus. There are so many variations of the black bean burger so, it can be fun to taste what the different restaurants have to offer.
We went to this interesting restaurant called “Melt”. Have you heard of it? It has a retro vibe, with old signs and every kind of holiday décor imaginable! It had super cool energy, I love it! Anyway...It specializes in grilled cheese with a crazy amount of options in all things grilled and cheesy. But here is the best part: they offer vegan cheese as an option!! So fun!! They also had THE.BEST tofu wings, EVER! If you are open to it, it is really fun to discover new places and foods.
After the hockey game, we went for a treat at Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt and a treat it was!! It serves organic locally made yogurt, but also several vegan varieties (made with coconut milk)!!! It offered tons of self-serve toppings with at least 15 vegan options including fruit. It is so exciting!!
Let's talk about those black bean burgers though. I'm not knocking black bean burgers because we eat them all the time and we love them. Black bean burgers are a very quick and very nutritious meal. With that being said I thought I'd share with you a few options to try. Friday is our “burger” day so I try to play with them and make it fun. Here is a quick and easy base that you can add a million different varieties to:
Preheat oven to 400. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Put ingredients in blender and mix until blended (you could also mash everything up in a bowl if you find that easier). I like to reserve a handful of black beans to stir in after they are blended just for effect. Shape them into patties (about 4). Bake 12 minutes, then, flip them and bake another 12 minutes or until they are browned and crusty on the outside (the inside will remain soft). Put them on a beautiful bun with your favorite toppings and ENJOY!
See, a quick and easy meal that is super healthy and kind of fun to play around with! I also really like this next recipe from the Minimalist Baker. The cook time is a little longer than the previous burger recipe as you have to prepare sweet potatoes and rice or quinoa. I have made a few adjustments from her version to make it work for me. Don't be afraid to play around with recipes to make it work for you and your family! They aren't a set of rules, but suggestions! Give this one a try:
SWEET POTATO BLACK BEAN BURGER
Adapted from the Minimalist Baker
Share your favorite black bean burgers! Do you have any favorite vegan restaurants?!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Let me first say, I hate the term “only child”. Hate.It. 'Only' implies something is missing. “You have 'just' one?” Yup. Shocking as it may be, we made the choice to have one child. We have our reasons and not ones I feel like getting into...right now. I am geared up for another direction, dum, dum, dum HOME SCHOOLING! “Oh my gosh, you have 'just' one child AND you're home schooling?! You must be some kind of crazy freak!” HA! I am! I reflect on my craziness on a daily basis! It takes a certain kind of fortitude/craziness to deal with judgmental jerks AND schooling your child at home.
One of my bigger reasons for home schooling is my idea of our family dynamic. Now, don't go getting all judgey on me! I'm not saying your way is wrong, I'm saying my way is right for US. Eastyn went to preschool in the Catholic school system. We chose this school for educational reasons not religious. Side note: I'd like to just point out that I consider myself very spiritual, but not religious. My crazy is showing again! Anyway...Catholic preschool 3 times a week for 3 hours...it was ok. Eastyn struggled with letting go of mama, but did fine once I was gone. He learned a lot and had fun, but it just wasn't our cup of tea. I had a conversation with his teacher about his struggles with getting there and here was her anecdote for me:
Not my style of parenting. I couldn't do it. To each their own. We will never know if we are doing it right until it's too late to make a change.
Well, preschool crawled by and all the while kindergarten was on my mind. I had internally debated on the home school option for a few months. Battling in my mind through the stereotypes and doing the “right” thing. Private school was still the key player...I knew I wanted Eastyn to attend a half day kindergarten, which was only offered at the same Catholic school system. I was invited to shadow the two classrooms for a few hours to get a feel for how kindergarten looks. The first teacher was very “motherly”, soft-spoken, extremely organized, and kind. The second teacher had just spent 12 years as a physical education teacher. She was rough and loud. Her classroom was messy, disorganized, and complete chaos. I left feeling no better off for making a decision.
Every time I thought of home schooling I got excited and felt such good energy. But was this just my mama emotions playing tricks on me? Wanting to keep my baby at home? I told no one of my desire to home school. I didn't want others' opinions affecting our decision. My husband was indifferent and felt I would make the best decision. Thanks, hubby for your help *eyeroll. After many, many lists I decided to let the decision up to fate...We had already enrolled Eastyn in kindergarten and were awaiting his teacher assignment. We decided if he was assigned the “motherly” teacher we would send him to the private school; if he was assigned the “rough” teacher we would home school. I think you know what happened next...fate had spoken!
Relief rushed over me. I FELT like we had made the right decision. We started telling people. People can be rude, ignorant, and down right cruel. I had to build up a wall against them and do what we felt was right for OUR family. I have never renounced all other educational styles declaring home schooling as the be-all-end-all to the “best” education. I think the BEST looks different for everyone. BUT, unfortunately, a lot of people do not see it that way.
A home schooled kindergarten was fun! Lots of games and physical activities. First through third grade? Straight up torture!! Teaching my child to read was hell. We fought, everyday! We cried, everyday! I wanted to give up, everyday!! I scoured books and the internet for new, creative ways to get the job done. Nothing really helped, it was just a battle we had to fight, together. And, we won! The first time Eastyn picked up a book to read “for fun” I cried, again. But, happy tears this time. It is the best feeling in the world to know that we got through it together.
I haven't had him “officially” tested but, through some research, speaking to educational professionals, and observations, I believe Eastyn to have dyslexia. He still mixes up some letters from time to time, spelling is difficult (although he is a freakin' math wizard!), and when reading too fast words get changed around. Had we figured this out sooner maybe I could have FELT a little better, but I don't think we could have done anything differently. Because while he was learning to read, I was learning patience, fortitude, and the ability to let go of the expectations of society.
So we are in our 7th year of homeschooling (6th grade)...it's still a battle. We fight, a lot. But we are so lucky!! I remind him and myself daily of how grateful we need to be to have such amazing opportunities!! The home schooling world has changed so much in 7 years and I have seen a dramatic shift in the paradigm of teaching our children in our homes. It is empowering, inspiring, and hopeful.
Are you a home schooling parent? Considering home schooling? Share your experiences below!
Peace, Love, Plants,