Post Thanksgiving 2016

Overall I think Thanksgiving was success! One thing I learned is that I could have more confidence in my cooking at this point. I had a blast cooking on Wednesday and I was happy with the meals, but I was  worried that no one would like any of my plant-based creations. Despite my needless worrying, we settled in seamlessly and pressure to defend my choices wasn’t really a thing this time around.  I joked about the parsnips in the loaf and tofu in the pie, but I didn’t feel any stress from the outside.  I’ve done so much research on this topic now, that I feel completely comfortable with my choices.  Yes, it can be perceived as weird, and yes, it seems like I’m not the “fun” mom.  But my son devoured his plate and repeatedly asked for more.

I shared our meal choices in my last post. I used the Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings: Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Your Healthiest Celebrations and Special Occasions book for all my recipes.

The Thanksgiving Loaf and the Thanksgiving Gravy was amazing – the gravy even had mushrooms in it, which I normally don’t like. I read that a lot of people have issues with this loaf staying together. They key is to use a metal pan, and then put it in a broiler and burn the top (ok, don’t do the last part – that was a mistake on my part). I did bake it on Wednesday and then baked again on Thursday to reheat.  I think that process helped the loaf stay together.  The flavors reminded me of stuffing!  I also followed the sweet potato casserole recipe, and only added chopped pecans with a little brown sugar (it was Thanksgiving, and wanted to treat ourselves a bit!).  The carrots added to the sweet potato made this dish naturally sweet, so I really didn’t need to add a lot of sugar.

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Jackson stunned at the amount of food in front of him!

My favorite was a toss up between the Pumpkin Pie and the Sweet Potato Casserole.

Luckily she has a few of the recipes on her blog, but I would really recommend the Holidays and Gatherings book. It has some of my favorite recipes!

Happy Herbivore Pumpkin Pie – I made this exactly as written! I added my own coconut cream on top though. Recipe below.

Veg Arcade Coconut Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

1 can full fat coconut milk

2 tbsp agave nectar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Chill coconut milk can overnight.
  2. Next day, chill a large mixing bowl for about 10 minutes.
  3. Once bowl is chilled, scrape the top of the coconut milk (the thick cream topping).
  4. Place hardened cream in mixing bowl.  Beat until creamy.
  5. Add vanilla extract and agave and mix until smooth.

Will keep for 1-2 weeks!  It may harden a bit, but just stir it up before serving!

Happy Herbivore Cranberry Sauce – instead of orange juice, I used orange zest.  I also reduced the quantity of the agave nectar.  I recommend only using a little, and then added some additional agave once the cranberry sauce has cooled.

We will try to share more of our original recipes in future posts.  They’ll include our various porridge and rice bowls!

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Protein, Calcium, Iron, Oh My!

Every time I tell someone I’m plant based, I get a few questions:

  • Are you raising your son Vegan?
  • Why? Don’t you miss cheese?
  • Where do you get your Protein, Calcium, etc.?

So to answer these, I need to take a step back to February 2015 after I had my son, Jackson.  When people tell you having a child changes you – mentally and physically, they’re right.  After a messy, lengthy labor (“It looks like a freaking crime scene in here,” said the doctor) and a few nights in the hospital, I was finally home with my family, but the problems were just beginning. I had eczema, began to experience stomach issues, and started booking appointments with my doctor.  The dermatologist wanted to treat with steroids and the GI doc said, “Maybe it’s IBS or a Gluten Intolerance.”  His uncertainty didn’t much to calm my nerves or address my issues.  He suggested coming back when I was done breastfeeding so I could get on medication.

I knew medication couldn’t be the only option, so it was time to experiment. The first thing I did was remove dairy from my diet.  My husband, Steve, was already vegan, so it wasn’t too difficult to remove those items from the house.  Going out to eat, I’d still eat dairy in small quantities, but overall, my stomach started feeling much better.  I started running again, but was still struggling to lose the baby weight.  My son started getting old enough to start eating solid foods, but we really hadn’t decided what route we wanted to take with him.  Steve was leaning towards vegan; I was leaning towards some meat but limiting the amounts.  I decided the only way I would be able to argue my point would be to research the hell out of it to convince Steve that veganism will not be enough for a growing child.  So I found credible websites like: nutritionfacts.org (a non-profit site with no corporate agricultural ties), pcrm.org (the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), and paper after paper explaining all of the benefits of Plant-Based diets.  I decided to try it myself.

I started following Happy Herbivore, a website that offers meal plans for Whole Food Plant Based, No Oil (WFPBNO).  I would stray from this philosophy in restaurants, but at home I would make these meals and stick strictly to the recipes.  Conveniently, I was able to spend a few hours on Sunday preparing meals for the entire week.  I found myself more and more attracted to vegetarian menu items in restaurants, and at some point meat and cheese just didn’t seem appealing anymore. I loved how I felt when eating our meals at home.  So, after running it by our physician and having done our homework, we decided to move forward with a plant based lifestyle for Jackson.  And if I was going to make the decision on his behalf, why wouldn’t I do it myself?

During my research I learned that unless you’re not eating enough calories, it’s impossible to be protein deficient.  I learned there are better sources of calcium than milk: beans, cabbage, kale, even broccoli. And that only 1/3 of calcium in milk is absorbed.  Certain greens have a higher proportion of calcium that is absorbed. (http://nutritionstudies.org/how-to-get-calcium-without-dairy/).

So in the last few months, Jackson has devoured the following meals and basic foods.

  • slow cooker pumpkin curry
  • fruits like avocados, bananas (three-four/day in the early going), strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
  • potato, rice, and quinoa bowls with all sorts of beans, lentils, sauces, veggies, and seeds
  • taco and pumpkin-spice sandwiches
  • oatmeal (or “porridge” as Steve calls it) with kale, spices, tahini, beans, a starchy vegetables
  • whole wheat pastas with homemade pesto sauces and peas
  • nut butters
  • homemade muffins

It’s been such an interesting progression for our family that I thought it could be helpful to document the reasons we chose this philosophy and how, contrary to popular belief, it makes things easier, more enjoyable, and more affordable.