Foodie Penpal

This month I participated in a foodie penpal program created by the Lean Green Bean. The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things within $15. This was tons of fun! It was a treat to get a package in the mail filled with surprises.

My foodie penpal came through with flying colors.  There were 2 things of dried fruit – peaches and mangos.  The peaches were good, but the mango was absolutely amazing!  Yum!  Even the boys loved this.

I’m still not 100% sure what to do with the orange drizzle.  I am not a particularly fancy cook, and the boys certainly don’t care how good it looks.  If anyone has any ideas for this, please let me know!

Last but not least, I am nerdily excited about the garam marsala.  I’ve never used it before, but I am intrigued.  I did come across a vegan dish that needs it, so that is definitely on the menu for the upcoming month!

I would definitely encourage anyone looking for a fun way to be exposed to new foods to join up with the penpal program.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate for the month of May as it is a hectic month for us, but I look forward to going back to it in June!

Mommy vs. Joey

This is Joey.

Cute, huh? He is a vibrant, happy 4 year old with LOTS of personality. He is also extremely picky, and like his mother, very, very stubborn.

In my change to vegan, I certainly thought about the kids. I bought Joey some prepacked fake chicken nuggets, some vanilla almond milk, and some of the fake meat hamburgers to help ease the transition. I must of thought I was dealing with an amateur. He sniffed these replacements out immediately, refusing to eat anything but toast.

For days we struggled trying to get him to eat ANYTHING that wasn’t toast. At the end of the week, I finally broke down and let him have Taco Bell. I know, not exactly the healthiest choice, but he was happy, and he wasn’t eating toast. How can one small child completely and totally defeat me? Everything I tried was a failure.

I had to take a step back to make progress. I bought a carton of skim milk and mixed it half and half with his soymilk. Success! He drank this without complaint! It’s not vegan, but it’s a step in the right direction. Tonight, he actually tried dinner (a “meat”loaf), and he didn’t completely hate it. He didn’t eat it, but sometimes the fact that he didn’t spit it out is its own small victory. He even ate a snack of hummus and crackers and really enjoyed it.

I’ve come to realize that it is going to take time to unlearn and change the eating habits he has had his entire life. He’s a little bit too young to really understand why Mom and Dad have chosen this type of diet. Slow changes and less pressure from us is the best way to move forward.

So, he may still be eating a lot of toast, but at least now it is all natural peanut butter and jelly made entirely of fruit. (I made that change last week and he didn’t even notice!)

The Perils of Grocery Shopping

Completely gutting and restocking a kitchen is no easy (or inexpensive) task.  This was made even more challenging by the fact that my typical grocery store, Cub, did not carry everything I needed.  I certainly tried to find it all there.  I went through Cub’s aisles two, three, four times to find things in the back of my mind I knew weren’t there.  In fact, I think at one point, I closed my eyes and tried to will a product onto the shelf; it didn’t work.

In order to get the remaining items on my list, I needed to go to a “foodie” market.  I was scared.

Why?  First, it was a new experience.  I am not known for being good with change.  If I could find everything I needed at one store, I would be perfectly content shopping there for the rest of my life.  Second, I don’t know where anything is.  I am going into a brand new store with NO idea how to find the things I need.  I’m not sure what nutritional yeast is… how on earth am I supposed to figure out where it is in the store?

On the recommendation of a friend, my family and I went to Mississippi Market in St. Paul. (I made the whole family come – safety in numbers!) However, I had reservations about it before even stepping through the door.  Mississippi Market is a Co-op.  Can I even shop at a Co-op?  Don’t you have to pay a premium and pick your own tomatoes to share? I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised when walking through the door.  There was no cover charge, my family and I were more than welcome, and I found the nutritional yeast much quicker than I anticipated. (It’s the the bulk section for anyone searching for it.) The organic prices were similar to those at Cub, and they had a much wider selection of vegan friendly foods. The young man that worked there was even kind enough to help me find a couple of things once I worked up the courage to ask. (Okay, my husband asked… I’m also notoriously stubborn.)

I’m still not 100% comfortable with finding things at the store, and I still may use Cub for some of my non-specialized basics, but I happy to have found a store that is able to help our family lead our plant-strong life!

One Week Down!

We’ve finished our first week on the Engine 2 Diet!  (Note from Chad: Or should I say we survived?) I know this week I have felt better and consistently had more energy.

The adjustment to not eating meat was easier than I anticipated as well.  I haven’t even craved it! (Note from Chad: I had a couple of days where I really wanted bratwurst from the St. Paul Student Center-a Wednesday tradition-or chicken fingers from Raising Cane’s, thanks to a friend who invited me to lunch.)

Chad, being the good Nebraskan that he is, loves his meat, and he had more of a challenge giving it up completely.  However, he even said today that he felt better after a meal with no meat. (Note from Chad: I actually felt full, without feeling weighed down… that after-dinner-I-want-to-sit-and-veg-no-pun-intended feeling.)

Some of our favorite dishes were the simplest – Rip’s Big Bowl in the morning is a delicious way to start your day.  I personally LOVED the chalupas!  I wouldn’t have believed that such a variety of foods could be made without meat, dairy, and oil and still be so delightful.  The best part – we haven’t even been hungry.  Everything has been more than filling.

I know, I am starting to sound like a commercial for the Engine 2 Diet.  You know what?  I’m OK with that.  In fact, I think everyone should at least try this.  It’s good for your health, it tastes great, and you never go hungry.  There’s no down side! (Note from Chad: I admit, most of the meals have been quite tasty.)

Perhaps I’ll have a moment of weakness and really want a hamburger in the upcoming weeks, but so far, I’ve been completely satisfied.

Go Plant-Strong!

There’s High Fructose Corn Syrup in THAT Too?!

The great kitchen purge is officially over… finally!  Sunday was spent cleaning out the fridge and cupboards of all the foods not on our new plant strong diet. Funny enough, this task was much easier and more enjoyable than I could have anticipated.  Why? As I was removing items, I started glancing at the ingredients label.  Those mile-long ingredients lists we jam-packed with words I couldn’t pronounce, items that did not look like they could possibly be derived from anything natural, and, almost always, high fructose corn syrup.

Victims of the Great Purge Continue reading

A carnivorous husband’s response to “Saving the world… or perhaps my own butt”

Disclaimer: There is an entirely real chance I may come off as a complete whiner. In my defense, I love meat.

About a month ago, my wife convinced me to watch “Forks over Knives”, and even I couldn’t predict what would happen afterwards. This was not the first documentary on food or the food industry we’ve watched over the years (Super Size Me and Food, Inc. come to mind), but it has had the most significant effect. Continue reading