Celebrating Easter ‘Vegan Style’

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Stressing about ‘Veganizing’ Easter this year? No need! There are lots of Vegan treats available & they taste even better than the non-Vegan ones!

Easter is a time of pure childhood bliss. Devouring chocolate bunnies & running around the yard searching for hidden eggs… What child doesn’t look forward to this all year long?

Obviously, The Easter Bunny brings most of the goodies. Not mom & dad. BUT many Vegan parents like to help the bunny out, and add a few goodies to the basket. I also like to paint eggs with my children. Wooden ones of course. I find them at Michaels, along with paint and other decorations like sticky gems and ribbon. The great thing about decorating wooden eggs, is they last forever and make wonderful gifts for the grandparents.IMG_2121

Easter egg hunts may be an issue. Many hunts are put on through schools, churches & towns. This makes if tough for a Vegan parent to ensure their child ends up with Vegan treats. I recommend allowing your child to participate. Holding your child back from this event may make him feel alienated and uninvolved with friends. What I do is have my kids hand me all the non vegan candies and give them to their friends, or donate them. Then we go buy a something special. This usually works just fine for most Vegan families. The thrill is in the ‘hunt’ for the eggs anyway!IMG_6682

Filling a Vegan Easter basket is ridiculously fun. Seriously, I LOVE shopping for Easter basket treats. My children’s baskets are filled with 4 types of items. Healthy Snacks, ‘Special Treats’, Fun Stuff (ex. toys & games) & Useful Things (ex. clothes, shoes, accessories).

Lets start with Healthy Snacks.
I often add foods such as dried fruits. ‘Peeled Snacks’ are a family favorite. Protein bars are always a hit with the teens. I recommend ‘Pure Bars’. I usually add a few packets of ‘RAW Protein Powder’ to my 14 year old son’s basket. A new favorite snack that will be added to our baskets this year are ‘Chockalet Kale Chips’. They are out of this world and your kids will not realize they are the least bit healthy!

Next up are the ‘Special Treats’

If you are only going to order one amazing type of vegan goodie online, you need to buy ‘Inglorius Monk Whoopie Pies!’ We enjoyed these delicious treats last month, and my kids went absolutely crazy for them. It’s hard to find a good Vegan Whoopie Pie in our area. Actually impossible. They offer pumpkin, chocolate chip, lemon (my favorite), peppermint and more. This company only uses sustainable, organic, non-GMO ingredients in their products and they partner with local family farms. I have been told that they have a special egg pie. I am excited & I will update this post when ours arrive. Order now for Easter delivery!Unknown-1

*UPDATE* The whoopie pie eggs have arrived and they are as adorable as they are delicious! What a great addition they will make to your child’s Easter basket! The eggs come in chocolate raspberry and vanilla raspberry. They also offer a super cute heart shaped chocolate dip vanilla pie. Did I mention how much I adore these whoopie pies?!?!
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What Easter basket would be complete without a chocolate bunny? Unfortunately almost every bunny out there contains milk. I do find however, that many health food stores sell Vegan bunnies this time of year. If you can’t get your hands on one locally, I have found a non-dairy bunny and lots of other vegan candies, including a very pretty peanut butter chocolate egg at ‘VeganStore.com’.
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As for ‘Fun Stuff’, my daughter loves the princess legos that are all the rage right now. My son is a teenager so a gift card will be perfect.

‘Useful Stuff’ is my favorite part of the Easter Basket buying process!! I purchase many of the items that my children need. So in other words, I have to buy these things anyway, so adding them to Easter Baskets is win, win for everyone! This years ‘needed items’ will include, toothbrushes, belts, hair bands, bathing suits, flip flops, sunglasses, laptop case, lunch bag, gymnastics leotard & soccer socks & cleats. Yep, I am putting a toothbrush and socks in my son’s basket. 😉

Hopefully this has given you some ideas about how to enjoy Easter with your children. Many newly Vegan parents fear holidays because they assume Vegan kids can’t celebrate like all of the other kids. But I can assure you that this is one worry you can throw out the window!!

Lastly I would like to recommend that you adopt a farm animal as a gift for your child. Farm Sanctuary has a wonderful ‘Adopt A Farm Animal Program’. This is a gift that keeps on giving and it will remind your children one of the reasons that your family has most likely chosen to be Vegan.Susie Moo_228x200

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How To Cope With An Anti-Vegan Spouse

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So often I am asked by readers, “I want to raise our kids Vegan but my husband won’t allow it”. Obviously this issue could also concern men who want to go Vegan as a family. But so far, I have only been contacted by women with this problem.

First I want to make clear that I do not judge a parent for being weary of feeding their children a plant based diet. We are a meat & dairy obsessed society. Most of us grew up on milk, cheese, hamburgers & chicken tenders. Our mothers & grandmothers made delicious home cooked meals like meatloaf and mac & cheese that will always be close to our hearts. Our fathers cooked ribs & hot dogs on the grill every summer. Food means more to most people than just nourishment. Food represents our childhoods, our family, our heritage, our most cherished memories. How can you blame people people for not wanting to give all of this up?

The good thing is, veganism does not require that we erase our childhood memories of special meals. Even I smile when I think of my mom’s tuna casserole. And I’m not ashamed to say it. What your spouse needs to understand is, plant based foods are not only extremely healthy, but they can be delicious & satisfying as well.

Spaghetti dinners & pizza night are here to stay, and veggie burgers are amazing cooked on the grill. Childhood is still fun & memorable without animal products in our children’s diets. The food we feed them may be different than the food our parent’s fed us, but their childhood memories will be just as special. I imagine my children will think back fondly on my tempeh piccata with mashed potatoes and my fettucini with kale walnut pesto.

Dad may also worry that having a Vegan child will ensure that his son will be the scrawny kid, chosen last for dodgeball. Of course this is ridiculous, but many people still associate protein with meat. The great thing is, that plant based diets offer us loads of protein. Truthfully, many people are getting too much protein from their Standard American Diet (SAD diet) and this can lead to major health consequences.

I recommend compiling as much current information about the benefits of vegan diets and sharing this information with your spouse. Encourage him to read books by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Watch Forks Over Knives or Vegucated together. Attend a veg conference, lecture or workshop. Explain about the cruelty of animal farming. If you are lucky maybe there is a vegan friendly nutritionist or dietitian in your area. The Vegan RD has loads of great information on her website.

Even if your spouse does not approve of a completely vegan diet for your children, I’m assuming that he does allow them to eat vegetables. So feed them as many plant based foods as possible!! Enjoy “Meatless Mondays” and try excluding meat, dairy and eggs from your child’s bagged lunch. Your children will benefit from this.

There is no magic answer to the question “how do I deal with my anti Vegan spouse”? Every relationship is different. If the kids are old enough, ask them what they want to do. Of course, you should never put them in the middle of the argument. At the very least, your Vegan lifestyle will be a great influence on your children, and they may follow in your footsteps when they are old enough to make their own decisions. 😉

“All Aboard! A Vegan Family On A Carnival Cruise”

For spring break this year our family decided to take a cruise. Normally we sail away on the Disney Cruise, but we booked our vacation last minute & Disney did not have availability. The 5 night cruise aboard the “Carnival Inspiration” was one of the few ships that we were able to find an available cabin, so we booked it!

Minutes later I was surfing the web, trying to find any information about Vegan dining on this ship, or any Carnival ship. But information was hard to find. I came across a few comments here & there, but nothing too helpful. I did read that is important to let your server know of any dietary restrictions during the first evening on board.

My husband and I explained our Vegan diet to the server as soon as she greeted us. She explained that we would be working with a “special diet hostess’ during the week, and we should find plenty to eat. This was music to our ears. Our dinner that first night was a simple gluten free penne with marinara sauce, and I must say, it was excellent. I don’t usually enjoy gluten free pasta, but this was a good one. During our meal the “special diet hostess” came by and pre-ordered our dinner for the next evening. This is what we would do each night. For dessert our only option was a fruit platter, but we were assured that we would have better desserts throughout the week. Cookies & cakes were mentioned….

The next evening we were told that our dinner “pre-order” had been accidentally deleted and all they were able to make for us were grilled vegetables & rice or the same pasta as the night before. My husband and I chose the vegetables & the kids ordered the pasta. We all enjoyed our food. Unfortunately, the fruit platter was still the only “dessert” we were offered again. The kids were not happy. We were told that homemade cookies would be made for us tomorrow…..

For breakfast each morning we stuck to toast with jam, cereal and fruit. Soymilk was always available. Lunch each afternoon was a treat! There is a noodle station where rice noodles & vegetables are made to order. The chef uses chicken stock to stir fry, so he had us bring him a cup of water to cook with each time. The kids LOVED this, and so did my husband and I! Best Vegan food on the ship, no joke! Aside from the noodle station, there is a large salad bar & a grilled panini station. It would have been nice if they offered a vegan entree’ along the buffet line, but we still found plenty to eat.

Our third dinner on the ship was a delicious vegetable fried rice! How were the cookies you ask? Non existent. We had fruit again. This time it was cooked berries in a sugared sauce. Good, but still fruit. Thank goodness I brought my own cookies for the kids. Poor things were on vacation and they couldn’t get one decent dessert! I was seriously going to offer my Vegan baking expertise to the kitchen staff and teach them how to whip something up, but my husband thought that was tacky.

The 4th evening we did not make it on the ship in time for dinner in the dining room (too busy discovering ancient Mayan ruins), so we grabbed some veggie sushi & a grilled veggie panini at the buffet. Quite good actually.

Our last dinner on the ship were vegan stuffed peppers, and we all enjoyed them. Bananas were our dessert. Surprise, surprise.

Overall we had a great time. I feel that Carnival has the right idea, offering a “special diet hostess” to work with guests, but I do think they are dropping the ball when it comes to dessert. Vegan cakes & cookies are not difficult to make, and if Carnival Cruise Line put a little more effort into catering to vegan guests, they would get 2 thumbs up by “The Vegan Mom” instead of one.

Feeding Your Vegan Baby

I was recently asked a question on “The Vegan Mom” FaceBook page, about feeding a Vegan infant. I am not a doctor, and honestly my family went Vegan when my youngest child was three years old. So, I don’t have much experience in this department. BUT, I plan to have one more child, so I have done lots and LOTS of reading and research on this subject!

This newly Vegan mom was concerned about what she should be feeding her 7 month old daughter, other than breast milk. She is not currently producing enough breast milk to completely nourish her baby. The mom is using formula to supplement her daughter’s diet, and wonders if this is the best thing to be doing for her child. The answer is yes, since babies less than 12 months old need to be drinking breast milk, formula, or both. Vegan parents should be feeding their child the best possible formula, and Vegan health educator “Christina Pirello” claims that “Babies Only Organic” brand formula is the best bet for Vegan infants. It is soy based and free of corn syrup and GMO’s.

After babies turn one, they can stop drinking breast milk or formula (although, many natural health professionals feel that breast feeding your baby until he turns two is best). At this point your child is ready to thrive on a well planned, plant based diet! What does this mean? A variety of fruits, veggies & whole grains! Introduce a colorful mix of organic foods slowly. See what your little one likes and does well with! Try to stay away from white breads, pasta & rice. Buy whole wheat & whole grain versions. Offer sweet potatoes more often than white ones. Also steer clear of too much sugar and processed foods. Feel free to let your little one try some non-dairy milks, such as almond or oat. Soymilk is okay, but make sure it is organic and free from GMO’s. Processed soy products are not recommended in large amounts. Try to stick with “traditional” soy, such as organic tofu, edamame, tempeh & miso.

You may want to add a vitamin supplement to your child’s diet, if you are concerned about the lack of any nutrients. But if your toddler is a good eater, and enjoys a well balanced Vegan diet, the only thing you need to be concerned with is B-12. The bacteria known as B-12 comes from the ground, and humans obtain it through meat, eggs, & other animal bi-products, probably from the dirt the animal ate. Since we wash our veggies so well, we don’t get this vital bacteria from a whole foods, Vegan diet. We must obtain B-12 from fortified foods & beverages or supplements.

Overall, feeding a Vegan baby or toddler is easy & rewarding! It is such a great feeling to know that you are offering your child the best nutrition our planet has to offer! You are setting your child up for a life of optimum health and compassion! People will question you, and even try to persuade you to feed your child animal products, but always stand your ground. Your child will thank you….. some day. 🙂

5 “Spooktacular” Trick or Treating Ideas For Vegan Families

The spooky, creepy, sugar induced evening is almost upon us, and children everywhere are planning for the family favorite holiday…. HALLOWEEN! The costumes have been purchased (or sewn by “supermoms”), the flashlights have been loaded with batteries, and the trick or treating routes have been planned. Families all over the country are ready…. but what about Vegan families?

I have gathered up 5 great ideas to share, and hopefully at least 1 of them will work for your little witches & vampires!

Idea # 5- Only except Vegan treats or non-food items. This was my original idea, seemed easy enough. I looked into Vegan candy options which included many hard candies, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, Blow Pops & more. The downside is this can be time consuming at each home & stressful for the kids. So make sure you think this one out, before you make your kids promise to accept only Vegan treats.

Idea #4– Stay home & give out Vegan treats with the kids. This sounds boring, but if you live in a good trick or treating neighborhood, this can be a blast! The kids can dress up & do something fun & spooky for the neighborhood children.

Idea #3- Throw a family friendly Halloween Party instead of going out. This is a safe and FUN way to spend Halloween! Allow your guests to bring food & give them a list of Vegan treats or recipes. Bob for apples, have a costume contest, dance…. actually this sounds better than going door to door all evening!

Idea #2– Let your kids Trick or Treat their hearts out, and then trade their non-Vegan treats for Vegan treats (that you buy ahead of time). Donate the un-Vegan treats to co-workers or friends.

Idea #1- Let your kids Trick or Treat as usual & then BUY all of their non-Vegan candy from them (maybe some Vegan stuff too, since no sugar is good sugar), then let your children spend the money on a new toy! Donate the candy. How much you want to pay per candy is up to you! A mom posted this fabulous idea on “The Vegan Mom” Facebook Page a few years ago & it has worked well for my family on Halloween. My kids are excited to Trick or Treat with their pals, and can’t wait to hit Toys R Us the day after. I am just happy to not have a house full of “refined sugary garbage!!” 🙂

I wish you & your family a safe, fun & healthy Halloween!

NEW for Halloween 2014~ SO Delicious ‘Pumpkin Spice’ and ‘Candy Corn’  Coconut Ice-Cream Bars. These treats are sure to please all of your little ghosts & goblins! www.sodelicious.com

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Top 15 Vegan Family Road Trip “Cooler Essentials”

Well, we are officially into summer, and that means family road trip time for many of us! Summer Road Trips are a memorable part of childhood, and even with all of the dirty restroom stops, fighting in the backseat and hearing “are we there yet” 567 times…. I would not miss our annual automobile voyage for the world!

Most families stop at fast food restaurants a few times a day, while on long car trips. But unless your kids LOVE a McDonald’s ice-burg garden salad, there is not much for Vegan kids to eat. I recommend packing a large cooler, filled with tasty & healthy food that your family will enjoy.

Keep in mind that kids get hungry when they are bored….. or at least they think they are hungry! So pack a lot, you don’t want to run out of food when kids are involved & you are in an enclosed space! 😉

Here are my TOP 15 Cooler Essentials~

1. Some type of non-dairy milk. Rice, Soy, Almond, Hemp, whatever you like. It will come in handy for cereal, coffee, tea… etc.

2. A few “healthy” Vegan cereals. Kids & grown-ups enjoy a nice bowl of cereal at any time of day.

3. At least 1 loaf of Wheat/Whole Grain bread. You can eat it plain or create a sandwich.

4. Nut Butter (unless allergies)

5. Fruit spread

6. Mock deli meat (my kids love Tofurky)

7. Lots of fruit!! Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, etc…. make sure it’s washed & ready to eat!

8. Veggie Sticks. Take the extra time and prepare lots of variety. Slice carrots, celery, sweet peppers, broccoli & cauliflower! They can dunk them in the nut butter, or bring some vegan dip.

9. Healthy crackers!

10. Soy yogurt (or applesauce, if they are not yogurt fans)

11. Whole Grain Taco Shells. Seriously! Kids love them, and they can fill them with beans, veggies, or eat them plain.

12. Container filled with black beans or garbanzo beans. Sooo healthy!!

13. Nuts! Peanuts, almonds, cashews….. (unless allergies)

14. Drinks!! No soda for this family, so I recommend lots of water!! Juice boxes are good too!

15. Last but not least, something SWEET! Vegan cookies, a little candy, popcorn…. you get the idea. Your kids deserve a little reward for sitting in the car for so long!

Don’t forget to stock up on paper goods, forks, knives, spoons, paper towels, etc….. eco friendly ones, of course!