mom and daughter

Are you in this together?

I have to say I am very excited as our community of parents with vegetarian kids is growing. When I first thought about setting up my newsletter and blog I wasn’t sure how many people were looking for support with raising vegetarian kids. I know from my small world that my daughter’s friend’s moms were worried. These moms were brought up on meat and potatoes and let’s admit it, most of us were. My mother fed my sister and I roast chicken, meatballs, brisket and hamburgers. We even had tongue! UGH just the thought of it now is disgusting. Do people still eat tongue these days?

granola cookie

Tips For Healthy Traveling

The summer weather brings weekends away and family vacations. Fun, yes? Only if everyone is happy and well fed. Well fed is key, especially if you have someone with dietary restrictions amongst you. How do you manage this when travelling? It can be quite simple.

Here are a few tips to keep everyone healthy and happy when traveling:

sweet and sour lemongrass tofu

Tonight’s Dinner

When I decided to give up meat and chicken I had just moved out on my own. I was looking forward to cooking for myself so I picked up a copy of the infamous Moosewood Cookbook.  If you were a vegetarian in my day, Moosewood was THE authority on vegetarian cooking. What a treasure the cookbook was! I was so excited to try out all the new recipes and discover new foods.  Every week I made a list of the recipes I wanted to try, making comments on each page as to whether or not they were worth making again. To this day I still have a few favourites from this cookbook like the Gypsy Soup and Vegetable Stew.

Fast forward a few years, okay quite a few, and now I am cooking vegetarian meals for my family and I have to be more particular about what I choose. I pick up the Moosewood Cookbook once in a while but now with all the plant-based blogs online, it is so easy to find vegetarian recipes. I also enjoy taking cookbooks out of the library. I know it sounds antiquated but I like flipping through and reading the recipes. One of our favourite recipes is from My Darling Lemon Thyme. The Sweet and Sour Lemongrass Tempeh got thumbs up from my gang. However, in our house, not everyone likes tempeh so I usually make it with both tempeh and tofu. Though the recipe doesn’t call for any vegetables, I can’t resist adding something green like snow or snap peas or broccoli.

Sweet and Sour Lemongrass Tempeh

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp tamarind puree or sauce
  • 2–3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 300g packet tempeh, cut in half lengthways, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp muscovado or coconut sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • Sea salt and ground white pepper
  • Cooked rice and Thai basil leaves, to serve

Method

Combine tamarind puree with 1/3 cup (80ml) water and stir until fully incorporated.

Heat 1–2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add tempeh (perhaps in 2 batches, depending on the size of your pan) and fry for 2–3 minutes each side until golden. Transfer to a plate, wipe out the pan with paper towel and add remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Stir-fry onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass for 2–3 minutes until tender and golden.

Return tempeh to the pan along with the sugar, tamarind liquid and soy sauce. Cook, stirring, until liquid has reduced to a glaze and is coating the tempeh. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice, chilli and fresh herbs.

 

 

veggie food pyramid

How do you define vegetarian?

So your child has decided to become a vegetarian. Or so she said she wanted to be a vegetarian. Since there are different degrees of vegetarianism we should start with a proper definition. A vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, for moral, religious, or health reasons. (Or they might just not like the taste of meat).  Does this sound like the type of diet your child wants to follow? There are quite a few variations of vegetarian diets so make sure you understand exactly what your child wants to eat and what they want to avoid. A few of the more popular types of vegetarian diets include:

Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid all meat but allow themselves to eat both dairy products and eggs.

Lacto-vegetarians abstain from all meat products, including eggs, but continue to eat dairy products.

Vegan eliminate all animal-based foods including dairy products, eggs and even honey. This is the most restrictive type of diet to follow.

Before you get stressed out with your child’s change in eating preferences, sit down and decide what exactly he or she will and will not be eating. This way you can clearly map out a way for them to get the nutrients they need.  If she wants to eat meat or chicken once in a while then let her. Sometimes our bodies tell us what they need. Will she still be considered a vegetarian? Technically no, but does it really matter? As long as she is eating a well-balanced diet for her growing body then it’s ok.

Some vegetarians and vegans risk not getting enough protein, iron and calcium when they remove beef, chicken, pork or other types of meat and dairy from their diet. Here are a few simple tips to follow for a well-balanced vegetarian diet:

  1. Eat a variety of plant foods
  2. Add beans and lentils to your diet
  3. Increase intake of nuts and seeds
  4. Modify your favourite meat or chicken recipes using tofu or tempeh
  5. Stock your pantry and fridge with nut butters, tofu, non-dairy beverages and whole grains
  6. Experiment with new recipes using ingredients that may be unfamiliar
  7. Sign up for my newsletter for on-going support, recipes and tips 🙂
Updated Lunch Box Image.gif

The Vegetarian Lunch Box

 

For the past few years I have been telling my kids I am not going to make their lunches but somehow it just doesn’t stick. As much as I’d love for them to make it themselves I sometimes end up pulling it together for them in the morning. Doesn’t matter if I remind them the night before or remind them in the morning when they get up. I don’t really want to remind them anymore, I don’t even want to think about their lunches honestly. But what happens if they are pressed for time? Would they, could they go to school without lunch? Would I let that happen? Should I let that happen? Not sure what the right answer is.

nut and seed bars

Seeds

Though we don’t usually think about  seeds as replacements for animal protein in our diet, they can be a great addition to a vegetarian meal to increase its nutritional value.

At last count, I had the following in my pantry:

Summer camp image

Countdown To Camp

With school winding down it is time to start getting ready for summer camp. I am airing out duffel and sleeping bags, washing towels and sheets and printing off packing lists. Does your daughter go to sleep-away camp? If so, you might be concerned that she won’t be able to follow a healthy vegetarian diet while she is away from home. I know I was worried when my daughter went away for the first time.

smoothie 1

Why I love smoothies

Mornings can be a crazy time with getting everyone up, fed and out the door on time. Smoothies are a great way to ensure everyone leaves the house with a healthy start to their day. Whether it be a picky eater, a vegetarian/vegan or anyone else with dietary restrictions, everyone loves smoothies.

When my daughter decided to become a vegetarian, I used our morning smoothie to get her to consume as many nutrients possible before she left for school.  I tried to make it prior to her getting out of bed so she wouldn’t see what I was putting in it. Though it didn’t quite matter as she managed to pick out all the tiny green pieces anyway. We experimented with a lot of different fruits, some veggies/herbs, fish oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds… you name it, I added it to our smoothies. Did she drink them? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your morning smoothie. Give them a try and you won’t have to worry about your kids leaving the house hungry and malnourished in the morning:

. Choose fruit you know everyone likes. I always recommend starting with berries- strawberries, raspberries or blueberries are all good options.

. Add some healthy fats, a tablespoon of coconut oil or avocado will do the trick. Depending on what type of smoothie your family likes a tablespoon of nut or seed butter will also work well. Theses will also add some protein.

. Add proteins like silken tofu or Greek yogurt (choose plant-based if your child is vegan) to get a smooth creamy texture.

. Instead of water, use soy milk to increase the protein content as it contains the most protein of all non-dairy beverages.

. Add a ripe banana, ripe pear or some pineapple to sweeten things up.

. Sneak in some greens like parsley or watercress as they have a mild flavour.

. Sprinkle in some chia or hemp seeds which will add protein, healthy fats and some Omega 3 fatty acids.

. Us frozen fruit if fresh it not available. It will also make the smoothie nice and cold without using ice.
Here is a tried and true recipe from our house, though quantities are approximate as I never really measure.

Mixed Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

1/4 cup frozen mango

1/4 cup fresh pineapple

1/2 cup strawberries

1/2  ripe medium banana

1/2 tbsp chia or hemp seeds

Vanilla soy milk to desired consistency

Directions:

Place ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

 

What’s your favourite go-to smoothie?

 

tofu and tempeh

Is it ok to eat soy?

We usually eat one tofu meal a week in our house. We often eat edamame and use miso quite a bit. All of these foods are made from soybeans.  Soy, it seems, is quite a controversial topic.  A simple google search will make your head spin.

Fellow RHN, Bonnie Wisener, recently published a blog post about soy that I wanted to share. You can find the link here.

And if you are looking for something to make with tofu, you can find this recipe I posted a while ago here.

Do you have any favourite soy recipes to share? If so, post in the comments section below. I’d love to give them a try.