Monday, June 28, 2010

Colonel Sanders Killed Me!

"Colonel Sanders killed me!!" This outburst in my quiet office caused my co-workers to come running, to laugh hysterically and say "what the hell are you doing?!?"

We have a rule in our house that my kids are not allowed to visit any websites or play and computer games that I haven't approved. We got some PETA kids propaganda  in the mail last week (click here for FREE PETA KIDS STICKERS!) and he saw this game advertised. So, I thought I'd check it out.

It's actually pretty cute :-) It's based on the Super Mario Brothers video games, and the characters include the Nugget, Chickette, and.... Pamela Anderson, haha! The beginning story line is that Pam Anderson is going on the news to expose the horrors of KFCs chicken cruelty, but she's kidnapped by a giant spider... with a   Colonel Sanders head.

Throughout the game, while trying to get to KFC headquarters and dodging C.S spider heads, you run across kids holding anti-KFC signs - when you approach them, text boxes come up giving facts about the lives of factory farmed chickens. The first one reads "Hi Chickette! Did you know that KFC chickens have their sensitive beaks cut off? How painful! Many birds are so stressed from being "debeaked" that they can not eat! Please hurry!"

There are also facts that pop up about scalding tanks, broken wings and legs, the term "bloody buckets", and about drugs given to the chicks to make them grow larger. It made me sad!! :-(

The outside of KFC headquarters. you'll find a KFC bucket dripping blood (ewww for me, cool for older kids). Inside, the walls are splattered with it. The subsequent levels are a little tamer.....actually, I couldn't get past the 4th level! I'm not a very good video gamer, ha!

Overall, I think it's a cute idea, but not for young kids. I've approved it for my 10 year old - just a little gore, and a lot of info (he really likes the game!) - but definitely not for my more sensitive 8 year old. I guess, just like anything else, it's important to know your child and make your decisions based on their personalities.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

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Summer Camp

My baby leaves for sleep away camp in less twelve hours! Okay, so he's not a baby-baby anymore, but OMG! Aside from the usual separation anxiety issues, we vegans have the extra special crap to think about - FOOD FOOD FOOD! What else do vegans think about?

Okay, so maybe I am a little stressed.Two months ago, I called around to different sleep away camps, to see if any of them could accommodate a vegan diet. The one we decided on was super nice - they said they always have a vegetarian option, that is primarily vegan. AWESOME! I spoke with the person in charge of menu planning, and she gave me some examples of options, all that sounded good.

I've mentioned the  insane food planning vegans must succumb to, right?? Two weeks ago, I called  to get the exact menu for the week D would be there. I wanted to be able to go over it with him before he got there, so he was comfortable knowing what was and was not vegan. Then I sent a follow up email. And waited. And waited. And.... waited. Grrrr!

A week later, I was informed the person doing food planning had changed. After many frustrating calls (using care to be super nice, so as to not be labeled the crazy vegan and so cheese isn't accidentally sneaked into his food) I FINALLY got the menu (end of business day Friday - he leaves Sunday morning!). Hummmm...... not many veggie options..... even less vegan ones!

After emails and phone calls, the end result is that it should be no problem. I am packing some special foods for him (vegan cheese  for pizza night and Dandies for s'mores!)

I sent the coordinator a final email, thanking him for his patience and accommodations. And..... I may have added a line about it being worrisome to send off a kid with "such severe food allergies, who is also vegan". While D does have allergies, I may have over-emphasized it.... just a little! As I've written before, sometimes this  little white lie does have it's place in the vegan world!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Product Spotlight: MimicCreme

I have another summer time fave that I would like to share with you! I thought that I might like to start a new thing and have "product spotlights" where I share some vegan goody that is especially great for vegans and kids. This time, I'd like to tell you about MimicCreme.

This product came across my radar a year or two ago and I've enjoyed using from time to time ever since. MimicCreme ( ) comes in three different varieties, Unsweetened, Sweetened, and Sugar-Free sweetened. It's made with wholesome ingredients, like nuts, and is soy-free. (You can check out the details on their website.) I just used the Unsweetened variety to make some awesome strawberry ice cream. So yummy! (More on that in a minute...) I've used all three varieties, and they can work for different things, yet I just figured out that the Unsweetened variety can actually be used for every kind of recipe, I think, and that would give you more flexibility when you have some stored in your pantry and you decide to whip it out and whip it up.

For example, I have used the Unsweetened kind to make a delectable cream sauce which I served over whole wheat pasta and roasted portobello mushrooms for a "fancy" indulgent anniversary dinner for my man. (He used to love Alfredo sauce in his prevegan days.) It was quite good, and I modeled it after a recipe posted on the MimicCreme website. I remember that I added a few other things to the sauce that weren't called for in the recipe, like fresh nutmeg and I think I thickened it with some arrowroot powder as well. Fancy schmancy.

Now, last summer I used the Sweetened and Sugar-Free Sweetened products for ice cream, but today I just added my own agave nectar to the Unsweetened creme to make it sweet. I saw that it was sold on Amazon now (, in a four pack, for a good price, and I used my Amazon Prime membership to get it with free shipping. Now that's sweet...unsweetened sweet, that is. Now I just used one box to make a large amount of ice cream, and I have three boxes left. I can either make more ice cream, or more cream sauce, or...who knows what else? My MimicCreme possibilities are endless!!

Making the ice cream is a snap and takes just a few minutes to prepare before I pour it into my ice cream maker. I poured the box of MC into my VitaMix and added a FEW frozen strawberries and a time, blended it, and then added more strawberries, so as to avoid the dreaded blob of frozen fruit. I also poured in about a teaspoon of vanilla and added agave nectar to taste. I like to keep a few chunks of frozen strawberries in the mix just because it is oh-so-good. Then I poured it into my pre-frozen ice cream maker bowl, and turned on the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes. You can eat it at this point, though it's softer than store bought--but still a good enough firmness. Alternatively, you can pop the bowl in the freezer for a couple of hours to make it firmer. I would think that you could pour the mix into a storage container and freeze that too, though I do recommend having an ice cream maker on hand. I use a Cuisinart one that I've had from my wedding nine years ago, and it still works perfectly and is quite handy. It's totally fun to make ice cream in less than thirty minutes. The kids love it, and so do I!

I have also made peanut butter ice cream (my favorite) with the MimicCreme and is was amazing. I love anything with peanut butter, and this did not disappoint. I followed the same basic principle as with the strawberry variety, using the creme, crunchy peanut butter, vanilla, and agave nectar and it was great.

I'm sure that there are lots of great recipes for MimicCreme and I'm excited to try something new. For now, I'm happy to make ice cream with the kiddos on a moment's notice and sit outside on a warm summer night and enjoy the good vegan life....


Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer-Time Black Bean and Corn Salad

With summer weather finally having hit the SF Bay Area--at least for the mean time--I wanted to share a super easy, healthy and delicious cold salad recipe that my kids and I have been gobbling up this week. It feels like a summer food, with the crunchy sweet corn kernels sliced right off the cob and the beautifully red grape tomatoes that are so delectable this time of year. I could eat this every day of the summer!

My recipe has evolved from several others and has been simplified to fit my busy schedule. Try making other additions and changes that you think would be yummy. I think it would be hard to mess us this recipe! What I like about this recipe is that, if some ingredients are left out for the time being, it can keep in the recipe for 5 days or so and tossed together quickly at a moment's notice.

Summer-Time Black Bean and Corn Salad

kernels sliced from 2-3 ears of corn
2 cans of black beans, washed, or equivalent amount (4 cups) of freshly cooked black beans
grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half, about 1 cup, or more if desired
1 ripe avocado, plus a couple more to keep on reserve
1 bunch of cilantro
1 lemon squeezed, and 1-2 lemons more to keep on reserve
sea salt, to taste

Place corn kernels, black beans, and tomatoes in a large bowl and toss. I like to eat this salad for lunch or a snack, so I do not dress all of it at once. If you are eating only a portion of it, then next take desired amount of the corn, bean and tomato mixture and move to another smaller bowl. Depending on how much you are eating at once, add 1/2 to 1 whole avocado diced. Also add chopped cilantro according to taste. If I am making salad to serve myself, my husband and two kids, I add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped cilantro because I love the flavor so much!

Next add lemon juice to taste. If you are serving four people, you can use the juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon, tasting to check your preference. Toss gently, adding sea salt to taste. (You probably will only need a minimal amount of salt.)

I like to have extra lemon juice squeezed into a glass container that I keep in the fridge, along with a small handful of chopped cilantro kept in a separate container. Cilantro doesn't keep as long--maybe one day--before it starts to go bad, so don't prepare too much cilantro ahead of time. If I have the beans, corn, and tomatoes in one storage container and have the lemon juice and cilantro prepped as well, it is really quick to dice an avocado and throw the salad together. When dressed, the salad actually holds up really well until the next day or to pack in a lunch box.

This salad can also be served over a bed of lettuce or some room-temperature cooked brown rice. One night last week, I was preparing a green salad to accompany our dinner, and I threw some of the bean mixture over some romaine lettuce and added some other things, like carrots, avocado and cucumber and it was a nice way to make the salad more interesting and filling.

I hope you enjoy this salad! It is as colorfully beautiful as it is nutritious and delectable!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Animal Slavery!!

"Mama.... my friend has a horse and gets to ride on her! Can I go, too?"

Horseback riding, in my mind, is kinda the same as the zoo (which I am still writing a post about! It's taking more brain power than I planned!) Is it the most horrible thing in the world? No. But does it cause suffering? Pain? Neglect?

Since my only real experience with horses was the one time I went on a group ride, fell off, and damn near got my head stomped on, I don't know about them first hand. I have a vegan friend who screams "Animal Slavery!" when passing farms or events with pony rides. I have another really close friend who has, ironically enough, works for the zoo, and she and her daughter have taken up horseback riding. It's actually been really cool to be able to ask her opinion about these things. I've often expressed my concern about using horses for entertainment, and she's just as often stressed that there is a brilliant connection between humans and horses, and cited the fact  that the owners care deeply about their pet, and make sure not to abuse them in any way. A big part of this, she's said, is the danger and expense of a horse that is injured or sick.

That eased my concerns, and I started feeling pretty okay with the horse riding. Not enough so that I'd throw my kids on the back on one, but enough that I was less concerned with other people doing so. That said - I make a big distinction between horses used solely for entertainment (rodeos, races, pony rides) and those cared for by individuals as pets.

Until last night. I got a call from my friends son, who told me that his sister was in the hospital after being thrown off a horse. It was so scary! When I finally was able to speak to her on the phone, the first thing she said was "why did I let my daughter get on a horse that didn't want to be ridden??" She said that the horse was 'spooked' by the wind, and was acting uncharacteristically. was time for her daughter's lesson.

Because I love her and her daughter, I only responded with concern for them. Luckily, she is okay save for a lot of bumps and bruises. Thank gosh! But it made me think. For humans, even when we have compassion and concern for animals, the majority of us will put our needs and wants before that of our pets. If we've planned a lesson, a ride and a picnic, there is very little that will derail us from these plans; most doubtfully, the unspoken will of a horse - even when his behavior indicates unwillingness.

I also remember another friend talking about being frustrated with his daughters horse; she was set to be in  parade that day, and the horse was not cooperating. But, they pushed him, and forced him to march anyways. We have no way of knowing why that animal wasn't cooperating. Was he sick? Hurt? Tired? Scared? Did anyone really care, or only about the presentation of the beautiful girl on the gorgeous horse? Give me all the B.S you want about not making a horse perform (yes, at this point, pet or not, the public display is equivalent to a performance), I can't imagine anything short of bucking her off that would have convinced the family to not have her ride.

The point is, I've now made up my mind about horseback riding. I think it is almost always, inevitably, about the person and not the animal, even when people have the very best of intentions. And I'll share this with my kids, and help them understand why we chose not to ride on the backs of these magnificent animals.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Protein Panic!

My ten year old son is all of a sudden hungry - ALL. THE. TIME.  I swear, I can not feed that kid enough! And heaven help us if he's not fed at regular intervals  - it's total melt down and chaos! Anger, tears, and anxiety - all relieved by food. It's craziness! He's always been on the thin side, but is just perfect for him, continuing on his own growth curve. I have been worried lately though, since he is SO hungry.   I wonder how the vegan thing is playing in. My gut says that it's just that that he's a growing boy; from talking to other parents and watching their kids, it certainly seems so! They're all hungry hungry hungry!

(Above photo: a hungry, hungry vegan!) 

So, the question then becomes, how the hell do you fill them up?? I know hunger is often confused with thirst, so I always try to keep him well hydrated. If that fails to help, my first thought is "PROTEIN"! But is this right? Is this the best way, and is that what his body will benefit most from? Or is it all bologna propaganda that is making me think that it's what he needs?

The first thing I did was look up how much protein is recommend? I found this:

"You can figure out how much protein you need if you know how much you weigh. Each day, kids need to eat about 0.5 grams of protein for every pound (0.5 kilograms) they weigh. That's a gram for every 2 pounds (1 kilogram) you weigh. Your protein needs will grow as you get bigger, but then they will level off when you reach adult size. Adults, for instance, need about 60 grams per day."

I checked a variety of sites, and all (veg and non-veg) seemed to agree with this recommendation, ranging from 0.36 - 0.50 grams per pound. Dylan is 55 lbs; according to this, he needs approximately 19.8-27.5 grams per day. Ummmmm...... he eats way more than that! On baseball days, I feed him Clif Builder Bars, which contain 20g. of soy and nut proteins alone! He also has about 1/2 c. of tofu per day, weighing in around 10g. And, I recently added Hemp shakes to his diet, adding another 5-7g. per day.

I also came across this statement a lot: "Proteins must be balanced in order to get the right mixture of amino acids". However, I came across even more dispelling this as old-school thought, including most articles linked from the USDA

Bottom line seems to be, focus on eating the first four of the "Vegan Six" and your kids will be fine! Here are some great veg protein sources:

GRAINS - Brown rice, oats (cereals - oatmeal, granola, etc.) millet, corn, barley, bulghur, wheat (including whole wheat bread, pastas, cereals, flour, etc.)

LEGUMES - Green peas, lentils, chick peas, alfalfa sprouts, mung beans, and beans of all kinds (kidney, lima, aduki, navy beans, soy beans and products made from them; e.g., tofu, textured vegetable protein granules [Textured Soy Protein], tempeh, soy milks), peanuts, etc.

GREENS - Broccoli, collards, spinach, etc.

NUTS AND SEEDSAlmonds, cashews, walnuts, filberts, pistachios, pecans, macadamias and nut butters made from these. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (including tahini butter made from ground sesame seeds), pumpkin seeds, etc. (Surprisingly, I read a lot that peanut butter is really not a good source of this! Dang, that's the one I've been counting on the most!) 

Here are some ideas to combine high-protein sources: 

* Corn Tacos with Pinto Beans
* Oat Bran Muffins with Soymilk
Brown Rice with Green Peas and Tofu
* Tempeh Burgers on Whole Wheat Bun
* Whole Grain Bread with Peanut Butter and Jelly
* Tofu Yogurt with Walnuts
* Tofu Cutlets with Green Beans Almondine
* Sunflower Pate & Sprouts on Pita
* Meatless (textured soy protein) Loaf with Tahini Dressing
* Noodles with Sesame Seeds
* Oatmeal with Sunflower Seeds
* Brown Rice with Almonds & Cashews
* Avacdo, Sprouts & Almond Butter on Whole Wheat Bread
* Corn or Wheat Flakes w/ Chopped Almonds & Filberts
* Chickpea Hummus (made w/Sesame Seed Butter) on Pita

An idea of how much protein is contained in these sources:

Healthy Protein Sources (in grams)

Black beans, boiled (1 cup)
Broccoli (1 cup)
Bulgur, cooked (1 cup)
Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup)
Lentils, boiled (1 cup)
Peanut butter (2 tbsp)
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup)
Seitan* (4 oz)
Spinach, boiled (1 cup)
Tempeh (1/2 cup)
Tofu, firm (1/2 cup)
Whole wheat bread (1 slice)

With all this information, I've decided to bulk up his fiber intake and make sure he's eating more of the above mentioned foods, and that we're not relying too much on non-nutritious snack foods. I've also sent an email to Dr. Fuhrman, nutrient expert, vegan supporter,  and author of "Disease Proof Your Child"  to see if he can provide any insight! I'll keep ya'll updated!

Update: Well, at least I got a quick response! Here it is: "Hi Sarah, Dr. Fuhrman would need more info about your son's diet to answer your question - he answers questions on the Member Center of Dr. If you are interested in joining, you can do so here:"

Unfortunately, the subscription is $44.95 for 6 weeks, then $14.95 a month. More than I can fork out at this time, even though the group looks pretty cool!  I'll re-read his book tonight to see if I can gain any new info from it!