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Oat-Spelt Vegan Chocolate Chip Pancakes May 5, 2010

Makes 8 pancakes

1 cup oat flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

pinch salt

1 cup nondairy milk

1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar (optional)

chocolate chips

Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk and agave if you’re using it. Sprinkle chocolate chips over each pancake as you cook it then flip.

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Fun Kids’ Pizza March 8, 2010

Filed under: Recipes & Food Ideas,Vegan Kids — sharonsweets @ 2:59 pm
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I got tired of feeding my kids this weekend and we needed to find something fun to do, so I decided to let them make their own dinners. What a blast they had! Here’s what it takes to do this fun and healthy food “project” yourselves:

-Whole grain tortillas (without preservatives), whole wheat or corn, whole wheat pitas or flatbreads

-Tomato sauce or ketchup

-Nondairy cheese shreds

-Olive oil with a pouring spout on the bottle

Toppings:

-Shredded carrot

-Shredded fresh spinach

-Sliced mushrooms

-Sliced olives

-Thinly sliced or diced bell peppers

-Tiny broccoli florets

Let the kids make their own pizzas, to their specifications, and just bake and enjoy!

Next time we’ll do dessert pizzas.

 

Baby Food, Vegan Style February 27, 2010

Filed under: Vegan Kids — sharonsweets @ 3:17 pm
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When I was raising my babies vegan, I didn’t worry much about their eating. I was nursing, and I started them on solid food as a supplement when they were between 4-6 months old. I knew that babies could get really great nutrition from vegan food, as a supplement to nursing when possible and soy formula when it’s not. The reason I wasn’t worried is because there is such an abundance of plant-based food that is full of vitamins, minerals, protein and iron. I didn’t think there was anything difficult about it, and I couldn’t imagine giving a baby a dead animal to eat, it didn’t seem pure like a baby needed.

Plus, it’s very inexpensive to make your own baby food and you don’t have to worry about the chemicals in plastics or strange foreign objects or substances making their way into the food, as you do with commercial food.

I started off with the standard baby cereals mixed with soy formula, like rice cereal, then moving to oatmeal and mixed grain cereal, adding in the whole grain. When they were a tiny bit older, I mashed ripe bananas into the cereal and they loved it. I also gave them mashed ripe avocado, one of nature’s perfect foods that has a great healthy fat in it, what babies really need. I tried to buy organic when it was available. Steaming is a great way to cook veggies for babies, but you can also boil them in a small amount of water in a small pan, and then puree the entire mixture in a blender or food processor, or mash it very well if the baby is a little older. You can use fresh or frozen produce.

Here are some other foods they enjoyed as babies, besides the banana, avocado and baby cereal:

-Mashed ripe papaya

-Pureed well-cooked lentils (with water added). Great source of protein and iron.

-Pureed cooked organic carrots

-Pureed cooked green peas

-Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes with soy formula or nondairy milk

-Pureed homemade vegetable and/or lentil soup, unspiced/unsalted until the babies approached a year old

-Mashed or pureed well-cooked squash of various types

-Pureed well-cooked green beans

-Fruit puree such as apples, peaches, pears, plums or apricots or a mix, with a little water, juice, soy formula or nondairy milk added

-Leafy greens, such as cooked spinach, kale or collards, pureed with some water and strained

-Vegan yogurt

-Spinach pastina (tiny stars)

Any of these foods are easy to mix with some of the powdered baby cereal.

Bigger Babies

As my babies got older, they got finger foods. Here are some great examples of finger foods to try, as soon as they are ready to chew and to try to grab the food themselves:

-Small tofu cubes (uncooked is fine, let it come to room temperature)

-Small pieces of soft pasta

-Cheerios, preferably from a natural store so there are no preservatives, but still fortified with vitamins

-Soft green peas

-Soaked chopped raisins

-Soft diced carrots. Make sure you are watching closely if you feed peas and carrots. One time, our pediatrician discovered that our son had inserted it into his nose!

-Small pieces of very soft fruit and berries (above mentioned fruits, plus strawberries, blueberries)

-Smashed beans, like kidney beans, garbanzos or white beans. Whole beans without being smashed are a choking hazard.

-Tiny diced vegan hot dogs or burgers, or other vegan “meat” or cheese.

-And for a snack on the go, Veggie Booty!

Whenever you are giving your baby finger food, it’s really important to watch them closely. If they’re anything like mine, they’ll gulp things and that’s a choking hazard. My kids have choked on everything from banana to mango, and I’ve had to flip them onto my knee, belly down, and pound their back to get the culprit out! Because of this, I’ve never been one to give hard crackers or biscuits to babies, or even larger foods than they can eat in one gulp.

I moved the kids toward eating our adult food pretty early, because there was nothing bad in it, no fear of e.coli or anything. I just made sure it was pureed or chopped up adequately. This way, the kids got to partake in all the flavors and spices of “real food” early on, like mushroom soup, rice and pasta, and vegetable dishes.

Storing homemade baby food

You can keep the prepared baby food in sealed containers (preferably glass or Pyrex) in the refrigerator for 2 days, or immediately freeze it in individual containers after it is cooled. I see tiny plastic containers in the stores often. Just make sure you don’t heat it in the plastic. Some people like to put the portions in ice cube trays and pop out the ones you need. If you can cover the tray somehow so it doesn’t get freezer burn, this is fine. I was never a fan of keeping food stored in the freezer for long though. When in doubt, throw it out!

Love,

Sharon

www.sweetutopia.com

 

Dumplings! February 25, 2010

Filed under: Recipes & Food Ideas,Vegan Kids — sharonsweets @ 5:05 pm
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Image: Gary's Soup, flickr

My older son is obsessed with dumplings. He could live on the Trader Joe’s frozen veggie Thai dumplings slathered in Goddess dressing, with nutritional yeast sprinkled over it for protein and B vitamins. This works great for me when I’m in a hurry, because I can microwave it if needed. Tonight I had time to make homemade dumplings, using vegan won-ton wrappers from the Asian market. Turns out, you don’t really need a lot of time to make them at all. I’m a big fan of being able to make one dish dinners that kids and adults like. Here, you’re getting carbs, protein and veggies, with some fat if you fry them. Find a good dipping sauce (like Goddess dressing or a Chinese or Thai all-natural sauce), and it’ll be loads of fun to dip your way through dinner.

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, finely shredded or minced

1/4 cup Napa or regular cabbage, finely shredded or minced

1/4 cup mushrooms, very finely chopped (optional)

1 1-inch chunk peeled ginger root, minced or very finely shredded (optional)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, very finely chopped or minced

1 package silken tofu (1 1/2 cups), drained and mashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Grapeseed, canola or light olive oil plus toasted sesame oil for frying

Saute the garlic and mushrooms in a small amount of oil until light brown.

Add the carrot, cabbage, ginger and salt and keep cooking until softened.

Stir in the tofu, cilantro and lemon juice.

Let the filling cool.

Spoon a teaspoon of filling onto each won-ton wrapper. Wet the edges and seal well.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large saute pan. Add a little of the sesame oil for flavor.

Fry each dumpling on each side until light brown. Alternatively, you can steam the dumplings.

Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

Store covered in the refrigerator for several days or freeze.

Love,

Sharon

www.sweetutopia.com

 

Sweet Carrot Pancakes February 20, 2010

Filed under: Recipes & Food Ideas,vegan breakfast,Vegan Kids — sharonsweets @ 2:30 pm
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The title might be a little misleading because they’re not sweet-sweet like carrot cake, but just right for a little dribble of maple syrup over them. I love to feed them to my kids in the morning because I know they’re one step ahead in getting their veggies for the day! They mix up in one bowl very quickly. Buy white whole wheat flour (whole grain albino wheat) in supermarkets or Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods and use it instead of white flour.

Makes 8 large pancakes

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch nutmeg (optional)

1 cup water

3/4 cup nondairy milk

1 tablespoon light oil (grapeseed, canola, light olive oil etc.)

1/2 cup finely shredded carrot

1-2 tablespoons coconut, grapeseed or canola oil for cooking

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and optional nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the water and milk, oil and carrot until combined. Let sit for several minutes. Cook on a griddle or large saute pan, using 1/8 of the batter for each pancake, until each side lightly browns and cooks through. Serve with pure maple syrup.

Love,

Sharon

http://www.sweetutopia.com

 

Five Huge Reasons Why We Need Vegan Kids February 17, 2010

Filed under: Vegan Kids,vegan lifestyle — sharonsweets @ 7:35 pm
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Many of you know that I have two little boys that I’ve raised vegan since the start. They are strong, tall, thin, healthy, happy and super-intelligent and witty, well, I won’t get carried away on a mom rave. Not only did I have amazing pregnancies, but I’ve had a blast raising these vegan kids, and nothing ever made me question that. I’m all for adoption as well as having a limited number of biological children, and know that we must invest in vegan kids for the future of this planet. Here’s why.

1. To speak the truth. Who’s going to connect the dots for the other kids between “this little piggy” and ham? At this point in history, there are no teachers spreading the vegan word in our schools. Kids need to be the advocates and educators for the animals. Since kids are most influenced by their peers starting in kindergarten, there’s no time like the present to teach kids where food comes from, enabling them to be little vegan messengers. On a broader scale, we need to get vegan kids prepped to function in the nonvegan world, ready to influence nonvegans, and create the planet we envision. This means we need to allow our kids to mix and mingle with all folks, not to segregate them.

2. Social organization, peewee style. By all means, we need to form communities with our little ones. Vegan playdates! Vegan parenting groups! It’s so important to have this social network that breeds affirmation and organization, but I think it’s equally as important to get away from it just as often, so kids don’t become overly sheltered. We need them to feel comfortable across societal lines.

3. Our communal health depends on vegan kids. Have you looked around the US lately? We’re out of control with obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and all kinds of ailments hitting at young ages like never before. A vegan diet has virtually no cholesterol, and a much, much lower level of saturated fat. With proper nutrition, vegans eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that build a healthy, disease-resistant body. And what about all the diseases that are mutating from farm animals–Swine Flu, Mad Cow, and many more to come. Also, animal waste runoff has led to many outbreaks of E. coli poisoning from vegetables, and this problem is getting worse.

4. The earth. Our environment simply cannot sustain a population fed with animal products. How much longer are we going to clearcut forests to raise cattle, pollute our water with hormones and antibiotics from factory farms, allow animal waste to contaminate land and water, and feed most of our grain to farm animals rather than people? Isn’t it a major sign that antibiotics don’t work anymore because animals have been dosed with them for so long that people have built up immunity?  People are interested in becoming more “green” and there’s one major way to do this. Go vegan.

5. To make it fun and exciting. Let’s face it, kids can make veganism enticing and cool as no adult can. More and more young people are becoming vegetarian and vegan, and are educating their older family members. Youth will be the key in making a vegan lifestyle become the norm. It’s happening!

Love,

Sharon

www.SweetUtopia.com

 

My Secret Mommy Weapon February 12, 2010

Filed under: Recipes & Food Ideas,Vegan Kids — sharonsweets @ 2:14 pm
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I don’t know of one mom who doesn’t try to get her kids to eat more veggies. Or any at all. Mine are better than most, but my older one (who’s in kindergarten now), would be happy with only broccoli and seaweed on his plate in the veggie department. The toddler will eat anything that crosses his path, so I don’t worry about him. And they both LOVE getting vitamins and supplements (as long as they are sweetened).

But to make my life easier, I like to squeeze as many veggies and supplements into one serving as possible. So I break out my blender and give them what, over many years, I have been able to convince them is a very special treat. We call it the “Special Drink.” My formula, which really isn’t so much of a true formula, is as follows:

–Liquid. Choose one or more: nondairy milk, juice, water.

–Veggies. Organic if possible, choose two or more: carrots, celery, frozen spinach, salad greens, kale.

–Fruit. Banana, fresh or frozen, plus any of these: fresh or frozen berries, apple, melon, kiwi, citrus, avocado, etc.

–Extras & supplements. Choose any amount of these: nondairy yogurt, probiotics, green powder, hemp protein, nut or seed butter, flax oil, algae oil for DHA, blackstrap molasses for iron and calcium, multivitamin, vitamin C.

–Sweetener. You didn’t really think your kids were going to eat the shake without this, were you? Yes, the banana adds some sweetness, but you will have to thin the shake with water if you put in too much stuff, and you have to sweeten it. I usually add agave nectar and/or maple syrup. You can also try brown rice syrup or a good-tasting stevia.

Make one of these for your kids (and yourself) daily, and your kids will be so healthy and full of veggies and good stuff, they won’t even know what hit them!

Love,

Sharon

www.SweetUtopia.com