What happens when you pair a health-conscious, vegan mother of two who has her own diet business with a husband and children who sometimes have other ideas? This blog is a chronicle of my journey to eat and live in a life-affirming way!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Highline and Homemade Ices on a Beautiful Summer Day!

This Saturday we took the children to Chelsea Market to have lunch and walk on the Highline, which is the artistically landscaped promenade on the West Side running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district to 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

For those who have not been to Chelsea Market, they have everything to eat! Since I eat a primarily raw, vegan diet while the rest of my family desires more mainstream, finding a compromise with restaurants can sometimes be tricky. Not so today! I had a green juice and a delicious, raw falafel salad from One Lucky Duck while the children had spinach quiche and a slice of pizza (not perfect but it was a real Italian thin-sliced one and not the junky kind!) and a lemonade from One Lucky Duck.

After lunch the children both had real shaved-ices from People's Pops! We all then took a leisurely stroll down the Highline. What a perfect day with the family.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quick, Easy Raw Pizza with Avocado

Last night I got home late from my daughter's chorus performance and was starving yet didn't want to spend hours in the kitchen. So, since I had made my Macadamia nut cheese and avocado fries earlier, I decided to put together my VERY favorite raw pizza!

I believe in a well stocked pantry so all you need is:

Raw Pizza
- Love Force raw bread (sun-flax orginal and rye are my favorites but also have raison & Italian)
- Raw macadamian nuts (see my earlier post on Macadamia nut cheese) or cashews
- Slice of tomato
- Few leaves of spinach or another green
- Grated carrots (optional)
- Sprouts!
- Avocado (see my earlier post on avocado fries)
- optional: raw pesto to drizzle (did not do it here)

Take a slice of the Love Force bread. Liberally cover the bread with the Macadamia nut cream cheese. (You could also make or buy a raw cashew cheese, or if you are not all-raw use a spreadable cheese such as Tofutti or even a sliceable almond cheese.) Layer spinach or another green on top, then the sliced tomato, grated carrots if you are using them and sprouts. At the very end top with sliced avocado. Today, I used the avocado fries since I had already had them made but you can used just plain sliced avocado and it is delicious also! Note: if you are using sliced avocados, I recommend adding them after the cheese and smooshing them down with a fork so they don't slip off!

This is a wonderful lunch or snack idea for children and I promise you they will not know the difference between this and a regular open faced sandwich! To make it a bit more "kid friendly," you could also use Exekiel bread instead of the Love Force bread.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Avocado 'French Fries' Anyone?

Today it is a bit overcast here in New York City and I am having a craving for something warm and a bit salty. Last night my son had a lacrosse game and I made a gorgeous salad with avocado to go and I have 1/2 left over. And, I have another avocado that is going a bit soft so I am making my truly addictive avocado fries!

My kids and husband ADORE these and literally eat them up before they can barely get out of the dehydrator! And, they are so easy to make and delicious!

2 avocados
2 cups sesame seeds
Sea salt
Optional: dulse flakes or hemp

Step 1: Grind 2 cup sesame seeds and 1 tbsp sea salt (you can also add dulse flakes and/or hemp seeds if you desire). I grind them in a coffee grinder and usually make a largeer batch of this and keep it in the fridge so I have it on hand!

Step 2: Pur 1/2 of the mixture in a bowl, slice your avocado and liberally cover the avocado on both sides with the mixture.

Step 3: Place the avocado slices in your dehydrator for 1-2 hours turning mid-way through. If you have leftovers they can also be heated in the dehydrator to make a bit warm. Enjoy!

I have put mine in the dehydrator and am heading out to a bikram yoga class and plan to have them for lunch over some greens when I get home. I also might use them on a raw pizza crust (I use the Life Force raw bread but they would also be delicious atop Exekiel bread) with the Macadamia nut cream cheese, some sliced tomatoes and some sprouts when I get home for dinner tonight!

My New Favorite Morning Smoothie!

My new favorite is my Celery Banana Smoothie! Not only is it packed with selenium, electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, fiber and iron, but I feel light and energized after drinking it! A perfect way to start an action-packed day!

Celery Banana Smoothie
4-6 stalks celery
1 medium frozen banana
1-2 cups vanilla almond milk
Handful of parsley (or spinach)
Optional: maca, chia seeds, gogi berries or hemp seeds/powder

Blend in your blender and enjoy! This smoothie is so clean and refreshing!

Thank you Starbucks!

We moms have no excuse not to give our children healthy snacks now!!! Earlier in the week, I picked up my son from lacrosse and he was starving! We are not talking about the slightly hungry “mom, may I please have a snack” type hunger but the full-on, grumpy cranky, you have to get a snack into them NOW type hunger!

I looked across the street and saw a Starbucks (they are on every corner now!), entered and hoped for the best.

What I found was nirvana! Starbucks now carries Raw granola bars by Two Moms, dried fruit leathers, pureed fruit snacks by Peter Rabbit (perfect for little ones), bags of organic dried fruit, and even gluten-free, nut-free cookies by Lucy’s.

I got Oliver the bag of cookies and an Izzy sparkling fruit and water drink (and myself an iced green tea). And, as Oliver devoured his snack , we happily headed home. Crisis diverted!

On top of all of that, I was able to feel that I just had not stuffed him with a sugar-laden, processed snack because I was in a pinch!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Raw Macadamian Nut "Sour Cream" Anyone?

Today I have been on a cooking frenzy and made my delicious raw macadamian nut “sour cream.” This dish is SO easy to make and is delicious on top of salads, as a “sour cream or mayonaise” for sandwiches or on sprouted bread, bagels or manna bread.
I am going to put this on top of my salad today and then serve it to the kids with a side of chips this afternoon for a snack (my new favorite are the Split Pea Nut-free, gluten-free ones by Gourmet Solutions). You can also use this as a dip at a cocktail party and I promise your friends will devour it!

1- 1 1/2 cups raw macadamian nuts (soaked for 4-6 hours, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup oil (I like to use hemp oil or olive oil)
/4-1/2 cup water (add slowly to get to your desired consistency)
Juice from one lemon
Hefty dash of sea salt1/4 chopped onion (to add later)
Mix all of the above ingredients except the onions into a food processor and run until smooth. Add the onions at the very end for garnish and gently mix in.

Something More than a Smoothie!

I love the quiet of the morning after the children have been dropped off at school and the house is absolutely quiet! This is the time I usually chose to have my breakfast when I can actually concentrate and enjoy what I am eating without getting up from the table a million times to clean a spill or for more orange juice or almond butter or whatever!

Most mornings I have my favorite green smoothie to start the day but this morning I woke up starving! Last night I had a larger than usual dinner delivered courtesy of Candle Cafe
so was a bit surprised I was so hungry. Sometimes, though, I find that we eat more or later than usual, we actually wake up hungrier!

Anyway, I am going on a 7 mile run today so decided to fuel up with my absolute favorite Macadamia Nut cereal from Laughing Giraffe topped with a handful of organic blueberries and my homemade almond milk. Laughing Giraffe only sources the highest quality ingredients and uses clear, real raw agave nectar for sweetness.

Here is a picture of my breakfast! Delicious and I feel clean and powered up to run! Will do the smoothie for lunch!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Important to Take Care of Mom Too!

In the hustle and bustle of my day, I always make sure that my kids are fed and my husband is fed! But, I sometimes just forget about or don't take time to take care of myself! Sound familiar?

Yesterday I had a particularly grueling day with work and my kids activities and at 2 pm, I ended up making a green smoothie because I was having an early dinner with my husband and by that point did not want to spoil our lovely dinner at Pure Food.

Well, by 5 pm I was about to bite my kids heads off I was so grumpy! Definately not the picture of health and balance from the raw mama!

Anyway, this week I am making a conscious effort to take care of myself and make myself a priority! Today I made this gorgeous salad with locinato kale, raddicio, shaved carrots, avocado and crunchy sprouts all dressed with an olive oil, lemon and sea salt dressing. I feel so much more balanced and ready to pick up the kids and tackle the afternoons activities of 2 school pick ups, a playdate at the park, a dance recital and a ballet school meeting!

When we take care of ourselves better, we can take care of others!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Delicious, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free and Nut-Free Muffins in Under 15 Minutes!

We have recently taken my son off gluten (more in a later post about celiac and gluten sensitivities and our personal journey) but my son was having a huge craving for blueberry muffins this morning. And, since he was having a special field trip today I wanted to make them for him!!!

Instead of just caving and going across the street to H&H, I just pulled out a bag of Namaste Foods Gluten-free Muffin Mix, which makes muffins are gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free and sugar-free and taste delicious! And, in 15 minutes Voila!

There is no need to laborously start from scratch when there are such good products on the market and you can personalize them by adding berries for a mixed berry muffin, chocolate chips for chocolate chip muffins or even carrots, zucchini or bananas for a yummy healthy morning muffin! The possibilities are endless.

Following is the recipe:

Mixed Berry Muffins
Namaste Foods Gluten-free Muffin Mix
2 eggs (I used E-nerg egg replacement powder)
1/4 cup oil (I used a combo of coconut butter, hemp and Earth Balance but you can also use olive or sesame oil)
1/2 small bag of mixed berries
Add: ground flax seeds, ground chia, ground hemp seeds (I used them all!)
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cuisinart or mixing bowl, mix everything but the berries until very smooth. Hand mix in the frozen berries. Grease muffin tins and fill with mixture. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!!! I serve these with a side of almond butter. Healthy, guilt-free and so, so delicious!

Yummy, Easy to Make Chocolate Milk You Both Will Love!

Last night my son got late home from a fun but long day consisting of an intense lacrosse game and a swimming playdate! He had been served dinner but he was hungry and wanted a little something but I did not necessarily want to give him anything too heavy before bed. So, I made him my homemade chocolate milk! Add Image

It is SOOOOO easy.

Chocolate milk
1-2 cups vanilla almond milk
1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder and a dash of agave or a heafty squeeze of Oh Alaska Chocolate Syrup (dairy free)

Put in blender and blend. That is it! I poured a big glass for him and a cup for me- yum!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Made My Crunchy, Crunchy Mac and Cheese Tonight!

This dish is an absolute favorite in our household!!! You can make it in 3 easy steps and best yet it takes less than 15 minutes and is almost better the next day for leftovers!

What you need:

Head of cauliflower (preferably organic)
Bag of pasta (we use Tinkyada's rice pasta, which is gluten-free)
1-2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (we use the almond cheese by Lisanatti)
Parmesan (we use a casein and dairy free cheese by Galaxy Nutritional Cheese to sprinkle on)
Bread crumbs (we use a gluten-free one)
Olive oil or Udo's oil

So if you have all of the ingredients, here is how you make it:

Step 1: Steam the cauliflower and chop into small bits in a colinder (you chop it up in a Cuisinart but it is better if you do it by hand because you get different sizes and textures.

Step 2: Boil the pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Place in your casserole dish.

Step 3: Put it all together. Place the chopped cauliflower and then the grated cheese on top. Lightly douse with olive oil or Udo's oil and mix. Lastly, cover with bread crumbs and liberally sprinkle the parmesan (or parmesan alternative) and bake for approximately 20 mins on 350 degrees. Voila!

The best thing about this dish is that it is even better on the second day! My husband and children adore this recipe!!!

Homemade Almond Milk

This morning I used up the last bit of my almond milk making smoothies so when Caroline and I returned home, I decided I would wip up a fresh batch for the week!

Almond milk is so nutritious-AND easy to make and it tastes so much better than the kind you can buy in a box! This recipe takes me less than 10 minutes and is well worth the effort!

To watch how easy it is to make, you can watch my video on you tube by clicking here! Below is an easy recipe for the almond milk. You can use it in smoothies, over cereal or berries or even add chocolate powder and have a delicious and healthy chocolate milk!

Homemade Almond Milk
2 cups of almonds (pre-soak and rinse for 4 hrs if can)
2 cups of filtered water
Agave nectar
Optional: maca, hint of cinnamon, or 1 tbsp coconut better
Nut bag or muslin cloth to strain

Place the almonds and water in a blender. Squeeze a healthy dash of agave nectar and add maca, cinnamon or coconut butter (most of the time I just put in a little maca.) Blend and strain. Delicious!

Smoothies- Power Breakfast of Champions!!!

It is Saturday morning and this morning as usual we were juggling a million things trying to get Caroline out for her lacrosse game, Oliver out for his and me out to drive the carpool to the games! All without me wanting to pull my hair out.

On the weekends and during the week sometimes mornings can be hectic so I always send everyone off with something that is nutritious yet easy to make and portable! I send my son, Oliver, off to school with a green smoothie (colored by berries) every morning- and he loves it!

This morning, I made myself a Banana Celery Smoothie and my son and husband a Green Smoothie with mixed berries- yum! I put them in these wonderful clear plastic travel cups we got at Starbuck's and off we went!

Not only are smoothies very easy to make only requiring a blender but they are also very easy to drink, portable, delicious and are bursting with calcium, fiber, protein, magnesium, iron and and live-enzymes, which help aid in digestion and also make our bodies more alkaline! Also, you will get approximately half of your protein requirements for your day (depending on if you are a man or woman), in a green smoothie!

And, not only are these green smoothies nutritious, but they are also delicious! A few months ago I got back from a glorious weekend with my childhood girlfriends and although they were skeptical of my green smoothies at first, by the end of the weekend I had them hooked!

My children and I have green smoothies every morning before we started our busy days filled with work, school, homework, afterschool activities and just life! I tease my children that they have had a salad even before they get to school and I notice much more even keeled behavior. My husband and I also notice that we have such increased natural energy!

Eating a healthy breakfast is paramount to living a healthy lifestyle! Try starting your day with a green smoothie and see how much better you will look and feel! We have purchase the cool clear plastic cups that you can get at Starbucks and a lot of times take ours to go!

Here are some of our favorite family recipes:

Power Me Up Green Smoothie Recipe
3/4 of a blender filled with organic spinach (or locinate kale)
1 1/2 cups of vanilla almond milk 1/2-1 frozen banana
Frozen berries (I add these to my son's to take away the "green-ness")

1 tbsp coconut butter
1 tbsp chia seeds (omega 3's)
1 tsp Udo's Oil (omega 3-6-9)
1 tsp maca (for added energy- we all need some more of that!)

Put all of this in the Vitamix and blend! This is my favorite, favorite, favorite morning smoothie! I make a huge batch of green smoothie for myself, husband and daughter then I will add berries to a small portion for my son who is not a fan of green. With or without the berries, though, these green smoothies are delicious!

Celery Banana Smoothie (This is my new current addiction!)
4-6 stalks celery
1 medium frozen banana
1-2 cups vanilla almond milk
Handful of parsley (or spinach)

Blend in your blender and enjoy! This smoothie is so clean and refreshing!

Strawberry Chocolate Delight Smoothie
Box of fresh strawberries (cut up and pre-freeze)
Coconut meat from 1 Thai coconut (save the water to drink after a run or intense workout) Almond or Brazil nut milk
Chocolate nibs (unsweetened)
Optional: 1 tbsp maca, hemp or flax seed oil

Place the strawberries and coconut meat in your blender and pour in approximately 2-3 cups of almond or Brazil nut milk. Blend until smooth. Put the chocolate nibs into the blender and blend for just a second to chop them up a bit but not entirely so that they stay like little chocolate chips. This smoothie is pure delight!

Chocolate Mint Sundae Smoothie
2-3 cups vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp unsweetened chocolate powder (or chocolate greens powder)
1-1 1/2 frozen bananas
Heaping handful of fresh mint

Blend and enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Picky Eaters: Just What to Do???

I was interupted by a loud scream this morning coming from the kitchen! As I ran in, my daughter started saying that something smelled just awful and she just could not stand it. I looked around taking in everything that I had layed out for breakfast- exekiel bread with almond butter, glasses of orange juice and then I found the culpret... a bowl of sliced banana! What, might you ask, is wrong with sliced banana? Well, my 7 year old daughter hates fruit!

Most of us have picky eaters in our family and the question is how to eliminate the mealtime food battles and make mealtime a pleasant affair! Proper nutrition is one of the most important influences on your child's well-being and affects every aspect of their development. It affects how they feel during the day, how well they can pay attention and how much information they absorb in class, how much energy they have, how well they play at sports and how well they interact with others.

We all want the best for our children and it is important to do what we can to improve our children's nutrition. The eating patterns our children develop in childhood will greatly influence, if not determine, their eating habits and overall health later in life. The earlier we encourage healthy choices for our child the better!

First let me say it is totally normal that your child is a picky eater and, as a parent, you should not beat yourself up if your child only scarfs down pizza or anything "white" and insidiously refuses to eat any sort of vegetable! According to a study led by Dr. Lucy Cook from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London and published in the American Journal of clinical nutrition, our children’s eating habits are 78% genetics, and only 22% environmental.

Give up the parental guilt. We are all born with a predisposition towards and an aversion against certain foods. These rejections of new and unrecognizable foods at one time served as a protective mechanism in the wild. Dislike of bitter foods, for example, may stem from the fact that most poisons taste bitter. It would be easy to throw up our hands and say "we give up" or feel that we are not empowered to make changes.

Here are a few very helpful strategies I recommend to make mealtime easier and more enjoyable and to have your children start developing good eating habits. The earlier you start the better!

My number one rule is Serve one meal. Stop being a "short order cook" in your own house and make one meal for your children (and ideally you) to sit down and eat together. There is one person very close to me whose youngest daughter only eats a specific type of white pasta with a specific type of margarine and another child who only eats pizza and yet another who subsides on pb&j crackers. Serving each young person in the house with a tailor made meal does not serve anyone's interests. The child loses because they don't get proper nutrition and you lose because you are exhausted and worn out and feel like you are always trying to jump through hoops to make everyone happy. Obviously, you won't serve your child peas if you know he truly hates them but otherwise dinner is dinner.

Don't get emotional. If the child refuses to eat or is "not hungry", don't be upset. Just cover the meal up and save it for later. If the child becomes "hungry" later they can be offered this. It goes without saying no dessert until the child eats their dinner. You might have some whining at first but once they know you are serious and mean business, they will take what you are saying seriously as well. Believe me, your child will not starve and you are not depriving your child of anything by being firm with them eating a nutritious meal. Do not let your concerns about eating become a power struggle. If you end up introducing foods in a confrontational way you and your child will be locked in a power struggle. Mealtime should be about connecting with each other as a family. Serve your dinner then sit down and eat. Do not comment on whether they have or have not eaten something. When mealtime is a pleasant time where the family is together, children will be more open to eating healthy foods.

Encourage (but don't force) your children to try new foods. Don't offer bribes or rewards for eating but do explain how what they put in their bodies will determine how they perform in school20and sports, look and feel. My next goal with my children is to get them eating salads and we have implemented a star chart in our household with specific rewards for progress. So far, so good.

Try serving a new food over and over again. The key here is to remain calm and emotionally detached from your frustration if they refuse it. Studies have shown that children naturally reject new foods but the more you serve a food the more likely they will eat it. In my house anytime we go a period of time without salmon and I serve it they complain that they don't like it. When I begin serving it several times a week they begin to love it again! Do not take it personally.

Model behavior for them. This is a very important, often overlooked point. Children will be open to eating what they see their parents and other siblings eat. Eat with your children whenever possible and, if you do eat later, at least sit with them and catch up on their day. Talk to your children about nutrition. We often think that our children "tune us out" when we tell them that there is vitamin c in orange juice that helps build up our immune system and fight illness, iron in broccoli that makes us strong and good at sports or beta-carotene that strengthens our eyesight.

Do not harp but do explain why you make certain food choices and why you cook healthy foods for them. The earlier we begin talking to them about what makes their body strong, their brains smart, and what makes them feel good, the better choices that they will make. Believe me, your children are listening!

No snacks (including drinks) 3 hours before mealtime. This is a tricky because if your children are like mine and they come home from school ravenous and cranky you need to give them something but you don't want to ruin their dinner. My suggestion is to give them something light like an apple, or a cup of yogurt and something to drink right when you pick them up but then do not allow any more until dinner. We always have a crudite plate on the kitchen counter and a full fruit bowl on the kitchen counter when the kids run in from school. If your children are getting too hungry you might need to move up dinner hour a bit so they don't eat too much on a snack then refuse dinner then be hungry at bedtime- not a good pattern. When your kids are ravenous, they will be ready to come to the table and eat and they will be more likely to eat what is put in front of them.

Have a plate of crudite on the counter for everyone to snack on- carrot sticks, broccoli and other raw vegetables with dip and allow them (and you!) to munch o n those while you cook! Establish mealtime routines. Eat at the same time and the same place everyday. Young bodies will get into a pattern of eating and when they are in a good eating pattern everyone is more likely to come to the table hungry and ready to eat.

Shop with your kids. Encourage your child to help chose and shop for meals so that they will become invested in them. In our family we go to Whole Foods on the weekends and the children always get excited to try all the samples and we always leave with them wanting to choose a new food. A word to the wise, do not take them to a regular grocery store where they will exposed and tempted by a lot of junk food! Those kind of trips are always a nightmare! Cook with your children. I always cook with the children whenever possible. One of our favorite things to do together is to make pizza. All it takes is whole wheat flour, olive oil, and a little yeast to make a healthy, delicious dough then we top on tomato sauce and lots of cheese. We bring out any vegetables that we have and the kids make faces on the pizza- broccoli hair, carrot mouths, pea eyes. It is a fun activity and the children always gobble up their creations.

My final rule- everything in moderation. It is ok (and mentally healthy) for them to have french fries or chicken nuggets every now and then, or an ice cream as a treat during the week as long as they know that, while these treats are yummy and delicious and ok to have every once in a while, they are not necessarily healthy.

So, what are we doing with our daughter, you might ask, nothing for now. We are making sure there is a full fruit bowl on the kitchen counter at all times, encouraging her to try new fruits and not making a big deal of it. So far she is eating oranges and occasionally will take a bite of apple so we are moving in the right direction- but, definately no bananas!