Saturday, February 26, 2011



Mulch is a big deal here. Probably because we have lots of bed so need a lot of mulch. We order our mulch and have it delivered. It is actually quite awesome. They back a big ole dump truck into our driveway and dump it out. I wish I had gotten a picture of that, but I just got a picture of the aftermath. It is funny, they knew just what they were suppose to do with the mulch! Shovel-wheelbarrow-dump!



Then they switched rolls:



Somehow, I got in charge of the raking step:


Eventually they dropped the shovel and wheerbarrow, and started using trucks:



And then there was jumping:


By the time they were done playing, they went directly into the bath.


This was a real bummer, because we had gotten a babysitter this night, and really part of the reason we get a babysitter is so we don't have to do things like give them baths...oh well!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vegan Day 21: Got Milk?


When I was mulling over my vegan conversion, the milk issue was one of the biggest things to deal with. I have two growing boys and the milk they drink (a cup and a half in the morning and a cup and a half in the evening) in a week equals about about two gallons. If Mark drinks any or if I use any for cooking, now we are up to three gallons a week. Wasn't other types a milk expensive? How could I get my kids to switch when they obviously really liked cow's milk? I finally decided to try some in a baking recipe. Soy milk just sounded really gross, so I decided to start with almond milk. There were so many choices! Regular, regular unsweetened, vanilla, chocolate...yikes! I think I started out with unsweetened and it was fine. I have since branched out (see picture above). Almond milk is pretty mild, but does taste like almonds. Soy milk isn't bad. It is actually thicker and richer than almond milk, but it does have a distinct taste. The problem is if you use soy milk in coffee, and oatmeal, and corn bread, etc, etc I tend to get soy-ed out. What I figured out is that I like to have different kinds. I get chocolate soy milk for the boys. For me, I get unsweetened almond to use in baking and vanilla sweetened almond to use in coffee and smoothies. If you are wondering is this milk expensive, the answer is, well, yes. A gallon of regular milk is around $3.39 ish and a half gallon of the non-dairy is about $2.50. The good thing is that you do tend to use less, it goes on sale, and there are coupons.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vegan Day 16: Kids adapting

I really feel the need to address everyone and say that my kids are NOT vegan.

If you don't know me, food has been very important in my life. However, growing up I was a VERY picky eater. I know my mom is about to come on here and back me up on this. At lot of foods that I did not like, it was a texture issue, not a taste issue, and I had this issues even when I was in college. Somehow after I graduated, I realized that I finally had grown out of these issues, but I still do remember what is was like when I didn't like a lot of foods. Because of this, how I would feed my kids is the one of the only things that I decided how we were going to deal with before we had them and we still deal with it the same way. For eating, I use "Child of Mine" (There is a book, "child of mine" we follow what is says in regards to eating. I have it if you would like to borrow it). What it says is, your kids eat what the parents eat, make sure there is one thing you know they like, and if they don't eat, they don't eat. We were really lucky with James. Andy is less Open Minded, but still, he eats. But these are the rules we follow. Eating in our house is a Non Issue.

When I say I am a vegan, what that means for the rest of the family, is that dinners are vegan. The kids, gulp, still have some sugary cerals, but Saturday morning breakfasts are vegan waffles or vegan pancakes. Lunches (gulp) are PBJ for James, and dinosaur soup (Chef BoyRDee) for Andy. Snacks are fruit snacks, pretzels, and pink smoothies. Dinners are whatever I make. James LOVE vegtables. Eats the up. He is going through a grown spurt right now and I know he isn't getting enough calories with just veggies. He won't eat beans. Andy eats beans and no veggies. He misses the meat. A lot of times I will give them an apple sauce or yogurt with their meal. They sometimes drink chocolate soy milk, and had regular soy milk last night. They liked it, but still drink regalar cow milk every day.

I have gone into a lot about this, mostly to say that I have tried with Andy. Andy loves to cook, he helps me make dinner. Won't eat it. I put dinner on fun fish plates. Won't eat it. I set the table with chopsticks. Nothing. I made banana soft serve which looks just like ice cream, and Andy takes one bite. He falls for it for that one bite, and he knows.

Banana soft serve is like banana ice cream. I loathe bananas so I wouldn't touch it, the rest of my boys were all over it.

Featuring banana soft serve.

All it is, is frozen bananas blended in a food processor for about 5 minutes. I recommend peeling the bananas before you freeze them, but don't they turn brown? Again, I loathe bananas, I don't know. I ended up adding a bit of vanilla almond milk.

Andy was so excited about his first bite:

Then he just played with it the rest of the time:

James was all into it:

He is my Good Eater:

Mark liked it too, but said it reminded him more of pudding. He liked pineapple whip better:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vegan Day 14: "A Vegan Thing I Like!"

The title of this post was actually said by Mark when I served the following for dinner:


Ignore the pizza part, Mark didn't touch it (but it is featured on my cooking blog). Look at that little cup of yellow stuff. That, my friends, is pineapple whip. I probably should have saved it for a dessert, but I served it as a side. I got the inspiration from this recipe, but here is how I made mine:
- 4 cups frozen pineapple
- about 1 1/2 cups sweetened almond milk
- about 1 tsp honey
Put all ingredients in blender and blend. This will take some doing. There will be breaks with mixing and Andy shouting from the other room "it is wh-oud! Are you don yet mommy?" Next time I will probably use my food processor. Blend until ice cream like consistancy. I topped mine with top unsweetened cocount. Really. Tasted like light pineappley ice cream. De. Lis. Cisous.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 12: Double or nothing

As you read this keep in mind that this morning I had a bagel with cream cheese and coffee with half and half. Oh, saturated fat! It took awhile for my stomach to adjust...

At any rate, I want to enter phase two of this crazy vegan thing. What that means is going from a super strict vegan diet to an eventual "flexatarian" one. I want my finished diet to still be plant based, but allow some animal protein. How much? Not sure, that is why I am doing a phase two. Starting now, for the next 10 days, I am going to keep with my vegan rules at home. When going to a restaurant I am going to try to order the vegan option, or at least the vegetarian one. If going to someone's house for a meal, I will eat whatever they give me. ;) Ms Becky - Kringle please!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegan Day 10: How it went and how I am feeling

Prepare to be underwhelmed.

At many big events in my life, I was expecting something big, only to be disappointed. Before running my first marathon, I was told "when you cross that finish line, you will feel such a feeling of acomplishment!" When I finished, I felt tired. And I needed to go to the bathroom. Before having my first child, I was told I would be immediately overwhelmed by this unconditional love. Instead I felt tired. And hungry. And an overwhelming sense of Responsibility. I was told after eating vegan, I would feel so much better, I wouldn't want to go back. I feel tired and pretty much the same. To be fair, I don't always sleep very well...not due to the vegan thing. What I do feel, well, I do feel pretty cool. In the past 10 days I have not consumed one thing from an animal (not on purpose). I have eaten a lot of vegtables, and I feel really good about what I have put in my mouth. Going through this process really wasn't as hard as you might think. Granted, I had made several small changes and had thought about what else needed to be done, but there still were a few surprises. The first few days I was surprised how hungry I was all the time. After that, I was extremely not hungry, and have normalized at this point. I think I may have lost a few pounds initially, but it also seemed to level off.

I am going to keep it up, but with some modifications. I will try to update with my plan tomorrow. But now I am tired and going to bed!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 9: I think I cheated and the SUPER BOWL

As I have mentioned before, after church we go out to lunch. Last week, we went to Moe's. This week, we were having some issues figuring out a place to go that would have something vegan for me to eat. After much debate (pretty much all through communion) we decided to go to Briosa. Briosa is awesome. You pick your fresh pasta and then you pick your fresh sauce. It is the only place that we have here that they don't have in Dallas. So suck it, Dallas, you and your big city Pei Wei, Berryhill, Cafe Express, and Tin Star, we do have Briosa. Its awesome. At any rate, I do know that most recipes call for eggs in fresh pasta, but Briosa has whole wheat pasta, and by reading the ingredients of my whole wheat pasta, it list "whole wheat, water, salt." I figured I was safe. I ordered the whole wheat fettucini and arribiata sauce. I turn my nose up at the bread which obviously had dried milk. I didn't take any tastes of the kids free gelato, but I ate all of my whole wheat pasta. Then I got to thinking, I did some googling, and am pretty sure eggs are a key ingredient in fresh whole wheat pasta. Oh well.

Then there is the super bowl. I really tried to plan this challenge against any major cullinary obsticles like this. Ms Becky loves the super bowl, throws a great party, and had been planning the menu from the moment that the two teams were announced. Last thing I wanted to do is show up and bring my own dinner. But I did. I brought:
grilled portabella mushrooms
sauteed red peppers and onions
homemade whole wheat tortillas
chocolate chip cookie dough balls
shiner bock

I did have one tiny cheesey curd. I mean, I had probably already cheated, and I wanted to taste a cheese curd. I'll be honest, I didn't get it, but I am glad I tried. And it was a good party.

Tomorrow is Day 10!

Vegan Day 7 and 8. Same old, same old and MONEY!

I did intend to post the last couple of days, but as this diet has become routine, I am not sure if anyone really wants to see what I eat everyday. Boring! My cousin did ask me to talk about the money aspect of going vegan and I thought that is what I would do today. I actually asked my friend Shannon the same question and she thought it was more expensive initially because of the learning curve. You tend to buy more than you will need and it takes awhile to figure things out. I did make a trip to whole foods in which I bought a lot of the things I couldn't buy anywhere else:


I spent $60 and this also includes cookies for me and the kids. Picture here is:
vegan stick margarine
vegan tub margarine
vegan cheddar cheese
vegan mozzerella cheese
silken tofu
unsweetened coconut
brown rice syrup
vegan cream cheese
vegan sour cream
coconut milk yogurt
strawberry soy yogurt
vital wheat gluten
avacado oil
vegan chocolate chips
one lara bar

Of the above, the only things that are gone are the lara bar and the coconut yogurt. The vegan chocolate chips and silken tofu are almost gone. Of the above I have not even opened the cheddar cheese, dates, cream cheese, and sour cream. With these staples, I seem to spend a little less than normal at the regular grocery store. Normal for my family is about $120/week, but the last two weeks have been under $100 (yipee!). On these trips I get a lot of produce, grains, nuts, milks, and beans. Even though you aren't buying meat, it still can get expensive. I have been trying to buy a blend of "premium" items like red and yellow bell peppers, pinapples, pisachios, and "non-premium items" like potatoes, oranges, dried beans, oatmeals. I'm not going to lie, the premium items almost make it easy. If you got to eat an avacado everyday, who wouldn't want to be vegan? But that isn't always practical, so it important to use both.

I will say that through this diet, it isn't my intention to replace meat or dairy. My intention is to starting eating a plant based diet. I haven't eaten any meat subsitutes, and only used cheese and milks in small amounts. I think much of the expense of a vegan diet would come by using your same old recipes, but with processed vegan replacements. By trying to find new recipes that feature lots of veggies, grains, and legumes, it really isn't that bad.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vegan Day 5 and 6. Going out and how I am doing this

The last couple of days were normal in my household. By normal, I mean super crazy busy! Last night I went out with a bunch of local moms. We are a totally hot group:


We went to a sushi/bar type place, met around 7:30, talked and talked until 9 when we finally at dinner. Were kicked out about 10:30 because of a mixer. I guess we were too old. I had a 9:30 class the next day, so I took my butt home. However, some of these crazy ladies went to TTT. I am pretty sure they were the oldest there.

Everyone was interested in my new vegan diet. Ordering was pretty simple. I got a veggie roll and edadame (pictured) and an avacado roll later.


The reason for this gathering was as a send of for a friend who is moving to da north. Her name is Jennie and she went to my church and was in my playgroup. Ahhh, so hard to use past tense! After they get to where they are moving to, Jennie says she is going vegan. Seems like the perfect time to start since they will have to buy all new groceries anyways.

Really what started this whole thing for many of these moms, or who, was Shannon. Shannon joined our playgroup and after a couple of weeks offhand mentioned that they were vegan. My first thought, horror. After they had a new baby, I was suppose to bring them a meal and off course James comes down with strep throat. My solution: Pizza hut gift card. Horror for me in more ways then one. But I was very interested, really more in a culinary way, in a challenge way, but not for me. Time past and I just starting thinking more and more about it. I read The China Study and so did many of the other moms in the playgroup. We all peppered poor Shannon with question after question. Finally, she graciously offered to host a vegan lunch for us a couple of weeks ago. She had us over, we looked through her pantry, her cookbooks, she answered questions, we had a vegan lunch (bread, hummus, veggies, pita, vegan cookies), and then made vegan wontons to freeze and take home. By this point, I felt that I had bugged her this much, I might as well do it. Shannon has really been great about this whole thing. She says she is doing this to be able to talk to other people about food and get new recipes. I have tried to pay her back with that. ;)

Shannon's meals are simpler than mine: some roasted veggies, some rice in the rice cooker, and some cooked greens. She has also given us a few of her staples and I can't wait to try them. I just wanted to give credit where credit is due. I am not sure what I will do at the end of this challenge, but so far, it has been fun.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vegan Day Four - Left Out and Oprah Did It!

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work. Or, you can think of it as I do, as my break. I teach pretty much all day. Because of this my kids are in school and my mom is nice enough to pick them up. On Tuesdays she takes them back to her house and generally, we all meet up there for dinner. Tonight's dinner was my dad's chicken and dumplings. I love his chicken and dumplings, but they aren't on my diet. Luckily, it is what we had last Tuesday, so I will just think about that. My dad was gracious enough to offer to let me chew on some twigs and grass, but I decided to stay home and grade test. Exhbit A, my war room:

Since I was on my own for dinner, during my lunch break, I came home and started some butternut squash soup and some homemade bread. I know, I hate me too. However, the butternut squash soup is really easy. I made it for one of my monthly challenges and loved it. Took me about 15 minutes to get it going. As for the homemade bread, this didn't go so well:


I do usually put both butter and powdered milk in my bread machine bread. This recipe was a little different with almond milk and gluten. In all fairness, I assembled this early, then used the timer. Maybe as things sat there, they didn't work as well. Crust ended, but the inside was ok.

I got soup, bread, and a tasty beverage to watch the most recent thing on the DVR.

That is right...Oprah! I never watch Oprah. Never Ever. Not that there is anything wrong with Oprah, I just prefer some Grey's Anatomy. But my mom told me about the people at the Oprah Studios did a 7 day vegan challenge. Well, let me tell you, I had never heard about this until after I started my challenge. Man, now everyone is going to want to to a vegan challenge. It was an interesting episode. It did talk about a meat processing plants and what vegan means. They had Michael Pollen on there (In Defense of Food) and he just made the point that it is important to realize where food comes from. And I think that is why I am doing this, to be mindful about where my food does come from.

Now Oprah, she always put the silver lining on everything and talked about how much better everyone was feeling, how they were losing weight, and pooping better. Let me assure you that I will be honest. Right now, to be honest, I am a little cranky. Although I am not craving meat and cheese as much. We will see how the rest of the challenge goes.