Some favorite food products

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*This post is not sponsored, it’s just my honest recommendations*

Since it’s summer, I’ve been really into eating sandwiches and burgers which are pretty quick to make. I recently discovered seitan, and I love the products from the Upton’s Naturals brand I got at whole foods. I bought some of their traditional strips and fried them in some olive oil for a few minutes until they browned, and then I stored them in the fridge. When I wanted to make a sandwich I put them on bread in the toaster oven to warm it all up, and added mayo, avocado, lettuce, and maybe some vegan cheese. It’s really delicious!

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Another product I’ve been loving is the healthiest brand of veggie burgers ever- Hilary’s. They are sold in the whole foods freezer section in packs of 2. So far I tried the traditional flavor and root veggies and they are both good. I love that it’s vegan and gluten free, and isn’t made of weird ingredients I don’t use at home like textured soy protein. They also taste amazing even microwaved so that’s a plus for a busy mom!

I’ll admit that now that Jack is trying to climb all over the kitchen if I’m cooking, I’ve been relying a lot on frozen foods. We are on the lookout for a learning tower on craigslist so that he can safely stand at the counter with me, so maybe that will help. He loves playing in the sink even though he always ends up all wet. It seems like with toddlers you are always letting them make some kind of mess in order to buy time to get things done around the house!

 

Update at 18 months

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I can’t believe how fast time is passing and that Jack is already 18 months old! I remember when he was a tiny baby we’d always be the youngest ones at meetups and things, and now he is definitely a toddler! I try as much as possible to be present and enjoy each day because they really fly by, and even if we have another child it’ll never be the same as having all my time to enjoy just Jack. Some things that have been going on lately:

  • Talking: Jack is saying about 10 words or so now. It’s on the low end of normal, but hopefully he’s just a later talker like his dad was. I make sure to narrate what we are doing all day and wait for him to respond to questions so he has the opportunity to practice talking. While he says 10 words he says the same 3 most often- ball, mama, and car. So it really doesn’t feel like he’s that grown up yet, I think once he is using his words all the time it will really feel like he’s not a baby any more.
  • Eating: Jack has gradually been eating more solids. He likes most things that are breaded such as organic chicken nuggets or fish nuggets. He is also eating more fruits such as peaches. Our meals are still pretty random things at this point though, like raisins and peanut butter for breakfast.
  • Babywearing: I still wear Jack for usually either a nap or to get him to sleep for bedtime. I also use the Tula a lot for when we are walking to of from a store or part of the time we are walking our dog.
  • Breastfeeding: Jack still nurses a lot! If I’m gone for 4-5 hours for work I start feeling engorged. He also nurses every few hours at night. Once his teeth are in I’ll try to cut that down, but he keeps having teething pain at least a few weeks a month so it doesn’t seem worth it to deal with the crying and lack of sleep of night weaning just to go back on it a week later when he has horrible teething pain all night.
  • Clothes: we have still been able to stick with 100% organic clothes! I’ve been happy to find toddler clothes at H&M, Frugi, Burt’s Bees, and some random stuff on amazon.
  • Cloth diapers: Jack is wearing mostly Bumgenius 4.0 pockets now because they are easy to change while he’s standing or walking. He goes to the potty when he wakes up in the morning and usually after nap and we get almost all poops in the potty.
  • Movement: Jack is almost running now which is cute. He is also climbing nonstop! He can push a chair to the kitchen counter and climb up on it which is scary. We are looking for a used learning tower for him to make standing at the kitchen sink a little safer.
  • Playing: Jack still prefers playing with containers or laundry over mot of the toys he has! Some favorite toys that actually get used often are books, his wooden cart, and his pounding toy which he also likes to remove the pegs from and put them places.

Overall he can entertain himself for longer and longer now- sometimes 10-20 minutes, so it’s getting so much easier for me! I can now cook in the kitchen sometimes while he plays in the sink or with some containers, or I can clean while he “swiffers.” He also sits in his high chair long enough for me to eat an entire meal often, although sometimes I have to give him a little container with a lid for him to put raisins into to keep him busy at the end.

I love how he learns new things almost every day, like how to make a new animal noise. He is starting to get upset when we tell him he can’t do things, but luckily after reading a ton about positive parenting (I love the book Peaceful Parenting) I feel pretty well equipped to deal with it and help him learn to calm himself down so far. I’m sure it will get harder (but in some ways easier) as he gets older though!

Easy vegan pasta with cheese sauce

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I love this recipe because you can use almost any vegetable with it, and the sauce is so creamy! It really hits the spot if you’re craving a cheesy taste. You can make a big batch of the sauce and then freeze it so that next time you make the pasta you only have to wash 1 pot! (That is generally my goal when cooking- the least cleanup possible).

For the sauce, combine in a food processor:

2 cups cashews (you can soak them beforehand if you want it extra creamy, but I always forget)

3/4 cup water (or almond milk etc)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

optional:

1 tablespoon each of lemon juice, mustard, soy sauce, salt, garlic, and/or miso paste. The flavor is best with all of these added in my opinion, but it’s not a big deal either way.

After blending you get a really thick sauce which is good.

Make a half box of pasta

When there is 1-2 minutes left for the pasta to cook, drain 1/2 the water from the pot approximately

Add the sauce to the pasta, and it will turn into a good consistency with the extra water

Also throw in a ton of vegetables (I did 1/4 package of frozen spinach and 1/2 package of frozen bell peppers)

Cook for another 1-2 minutes and stir, and you will have a magical pot of amazing and healthy pasta with minimal kitchen cleanup required!

To serve, I like garnishing with pine nuts

Additions that work well in this dish include: mushrooms, olive slices, fakin bacon, tomato, broccoli, or a bag of mixed frozen veggies

Easy vegan white pizza recipe

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I made this really quick and easy pizza the other day that tasted really good even though it didn’t have dairy or tomatoes (both of which Jack is allergic to). I used a premade frozen organic crust from Trader Joe’s, but you could use anything from a tortilla to crust you make from scratch. It’s obviously not low carb or anything, but at least there is a good serving of spinach!

Directions:

  • Set out your crust
  • Spread a teaspoon of minced garlic on it
  • Add a bunch of frozen spinach (no need to thaw)
  • Sprinkle some pine nuts
  • Top with either grated vegan cheese or I used chunks of Daiya Jack cheese

Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes, less if you use a tortilla.

Jack even enjoyed eating some small pieces of the pizza crust!

Quick dairy-free dip recipes

These don’t even count as recipes because they are so simple, but I’ve been eating them a lot lately because they are fast to make and relatively healthy. I like eating them with organic pretzels or crackers to dip.

Spinach Artichoke dip:

  • Mix together:
  • A bunch of frozen organic spinach
  • An equal amount of artichoke hearts (or even better- artichoke antipasto in a jar which already has some spices mixed in)
  • Several spoonfuls of mayo and/or vegan grated cheese
  • Either microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, or for a crunchy top bake in the toaster oven or normal oven for about 30 minutes

Salmon dip (has lots of Omega 3s!):

  • Mix together:
  • A can of boneless, skinless salmon
  • A few spoonfuls of mayo
  • A bit of mustard
  • Either capers, olives, pickle slices, cucumber slices, or celery slices

Tahini dip (good on falafel or to dip veggies into):

  • Mix or put in the food processor:
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • a spoonful of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Eggplant dip:

  • Roast eggplant (cutup eggplant goes faster, or you can do it whole if you poke some holes in it, until it’s smooshy- about 45 min)
  • Most people peel the eggplant, but I keep the peel on since I don’t mind the little dark specks and think the peel probably has lots of vitamins
  • Put in the food processor with some olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini

Bonus: you can feed these to your baby as well and they are smooshy and easy to eat without teeth!

Sadly at some point I’ll have to start cooking normal real meals for myself and my family, but until then I’ll gladly just eat some crackers and dip for lunch :)

Vegan smoothie recipes

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zesty tropical smoothie

 

Now that I have a baby and don’t have as much time to cook, I’ve been making a lot of things using frozen organic fruits and vegetables since they are so easy to use. I like making smoothies because I can get all my servings of fruit in for the day without having to cut or wash fruit, or worry about buying too much and it going bad. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

  • Zesty tropical smoothie: combine a banana, frozen pineapples, and frozen cherries (available at whole foods). Add orange juice and blend. I use an immersion blender and blend it in a pitcher and then drink it out of that with a straw so that I don’t have to do much cleanup! I use these stainless steel straws to avoid plastic and throwing away the plastic ones.
  • Strawberry banana smoothie: combine a banana, frozen strawberries, and almond milk and blend. Optional- add a spoonful of nut butter for an extra filling smoothie, or just a handful of almonds or cashews
  • Pina colada smoothie: combine a banana and some frozen pineapple. Add half a can of coconut milk (may be in the asian section of the grocery), and blend. The coconut milk makes it taste really rich!

Bonus: your baby can eat some of the smoothie too!

 

Jack’s organic first birthday!

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We had Jack’s first birthday party today, and it was really fun! I was a little stressed and barely got things ready in time, but it all went smoothly and Jack and our family and friends enjoyed themselves. Here are some highlights:

  • I made a dairy-free and sugar-free date-sweetened cake with coconut milk frosting, and Jack loved it! I thought it was good (especially the frosting), and other people liked it too which I was surprised by! We had another dessert too, but I was happy that anyone tried or liked our cake at all. I decorated it with walnuts since it was a carrot cake, and used a natural candle on top. The recipe I used for the cake only is here¬†except I used pureed dates instead of honey. I also cut it in half and put a filling of frosting which was a very good idea and made it moister.

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  • We had healthy and mostly dairy-free food. I made deviled eggs, I got organic hummus from trader joe’s and served it with veggies, and we got some bagels and cream cheese. I also made spinach artichoke dip with mayo and vegan cheese melted on top and people loved it! My step-mom brought amazing roasted veggies too, and there was also fruit salad.
  • I made an adorable fabric bunting using scraps of organic fabric from making a picnick blanket. It turned out so cute, and I’m really glad I spent all that time sewing it since we can use it for lots of future birthdays.
  • We used real plates, cups, and silverware to be more eco-friendly. After the party was over I cleaned up and it really wan’t a big pain to rinse everything and put it in the dishwasher. We did use disposable napkins though because we didn’t have enough cloth ones.
  • I didn’t have any other decoration except the bunting which was eco-friendly, but things still looked festive with all the food out etc
  • Jack also wore and organic outfit. Pants from burt’s bees, and a shirt from Frugi. (My outfit was also coincidentally organic from Patagonia)IMG_1665

Sugar-free dairy-free frosting recipe

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I’m trying to make a sugar-free and dairy-free frosting for my baby’s first birthday, so here’s a recap of what I’ve tried so far.

  • I took a jar of full-fat (not light) coconut milk and opened it and refrigerated it overnight.
  • The next day, I scooped out the more solid top parts with a spoon carefully, leaving the watery bottom part (I removed 1/3rd to 1/2 the contents)
  • I used the whisk attachment for my immersion blender and whisked it for a minute until it looked like whipped cream, and added a capful of vanilla extract.
  • This created the bottom right blob on the following picture. It tasted like whipped cream, but more coconut-y and not sweet. Not bad if you need a light and fluffy topping for something though- the texture was nice!

 

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  • Next I added about 2 tablespoons of dairy-free cream cheese and a teaspoon of lemon juice, and whisked again.
  • I ended up with the top left blob, which had a more frosting-like consistency but tasted too tart
  • For the top right and *winning* blob, I added dates which I had previously food-processed until I got a light caramel color. It was SO good! It tasted sweet, and thick like frosting, and spread well on a cake! The next day it didn’t look as good on the cake though, so I would do the process the day of.

I was so happy to discover that you can make frosting that tastes good without a ton of powdered sugar! I definitely have a sweet tooth, and this is so much less sugary but still fulfills that creamy sugary craving. Oh, if you are soy-free, I think coconut oil may work as well as cream cheese to thicken the frosting (you can’t store it somewhere too warm though).

Now I just have to try some different cake recipes!

Pumpkin quinoa recipe (allergen-free)

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This is a great way to use up leftover pumpkins from Halloween! It also stores well, so you can make a bunch and use up your entire pumpkin and then eat it all week.

Ingredients:

Quinoa (about 3 cups)

3 Apples

a smallish pumpkin

1/2 cup raisins

optional- 1/2 cup pecans or other nut

I used organic red quinoa from Trader Joe’s and followed the package about how to make it.

For the pumpkin: I cut it in half, scooped everything out, and then cut it into 8 slices like a watermelon. I roasted those until they were soft at 350 degrees, about 45 minutes.

Then I cut the pumpkin in cubes and sauteed it with the quinoa, cubed apples, raisins, and pecans if you want to add them. To make it even better I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar before serving. The vinegar really made it great!

Dairy-free stuffed mushroom recipe

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They had really nice looking portobello mushrooms at the farmer’s market this week, so I got some to stuff and bake in the oven. They are a great alternative to meat if you’re vegetarian, and can easily be allergen-free for an elimination diet.

Recipe:

Sautee your filling until browned (I used the mushroom stalk, and a little spinach, garlic, herbs, and olives. You can add breadcrumbs if you want)

Meanwhile, bake the mushroom for 15 minute at 350 degrees on a baking sheet. (You can brush olive oil on it if you feel fancy!)

Remove the mushroom and fill it with the filling. I topped it with daiya cheese too which melted nicely

Bake the whole thing for another 15 minutes at 350

 

I served it with quinoa and it was delicious!