Monday, August 30, 2010


Tonight the kids wanted to go to the park. I told them I would take them if I could sit in the van and read while they played. No pushing on the swings. I still needed to figure out something for supper.

I brought along a few cookbooks and started reading. I thought about the broccoli in the fridge that really needed to get eaten up. I thought about pouring some cheezy kind of sauce over them. And everything else just fell into place.

Grace and Garrett had veggie burgers and I had a leftover black bean burger I froze the last time I made them. I was going to bake potatoes, but I didn't have any, so it was french fries in the oven. And gorgeous, lovely, steamed broccoli.

I found the recipe in The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I almost forgot about this book, so I felt it was time to try something out. The recipe I chose was for All-American Cheez Sauce, and it was heavenly. For the liquid, I used half almond milk and half water (I needed to use up the almond milk, too). Mmmmmmm.....I just want to heat this up and dip everything I can into it. I could have an awesome '70s fondue party, and we could go crazy. Pieces of bread would be great, and for some reason I am thinking sourdough would be perfect. Any kind of cooked or raw veggies. Potatoes. Whatever. I could pout this over an entire plate of food and not have all the fat, calories, and plain grossness that is cheese. And there is a whole bunch of leftovers.

I <3 you Nutritional Yeast! What would I ever do without you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Animals and Activism

I follow a lot of blogs. There is one blog this is all about animal activism. There was a post one time about the author being frustrated that more vegans are interested in baking brownies than really doing any activism.

I am not the activist type. I honestly do not have time to be doing tons and research to spread around, writing letters, attending protests, and the like. I believe in what people are doing, and I admire people who stand up for what they believe, no matter what.

The thing is, I am doing more by being a vegan than just searching for the perfect brownie recipe.

I live in a very small farming community. I don't know for a fact that I am the only vegan, but I would not be surprised. I have heard rumors of a couple of vegetarians. Farming animals and crops is the way of life around here. It's practically blasphemous to some people that someone would choose not to eat meat. I have personally offended more than one person just because of my diet, not by anything I have said. I have been attacked verbally more than once. I know there are people who think I am crazy, because people have said it.

But there are also people who are curious. Every day I am surrounded by students who have no clue what it means to be vegan, and they have no clue what a vegan would eat. I answer any questions they have, and they have many. Some of them just shake their heads at how ridiculous I am. Some of them respect my choices.

There is one guy who graduated, and he came back to visit one day. He had been working on a dairy farm. He said to me, "I thought about you the other day, Jade. Remember when you said something about taking the baby cow away from its mom?" I said I remembered. He shook his head. "Well, now I'm the asshole who does it."

I am not optimistic or foolish enough to believe that he is going to change his diet or the way he lives. But I planted something in his brain that actually made him think about what he was doing, and the effect it has on the animals. I felt sorta victorious that day.

I don't have to preach or protest or be obnoxious or outlandish to spread the word about being a vegetarian or vegan.

This morning I finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. This should be required reading for everybody. People should be educated about where their meat comes from and what happens to the animal before it gets to your plate. This book is not preachy, it is just what Foer found out about factory farming during his extensive research. His amazing writing skills make it seem like he is just having a conversation with you while you read it. It's very straightforward as he talks about the meaning of suffering, food, family, tradition, culture, and the effects of factory farms (where 95 percent of our meat comes from) on the economy, our health, the environment, and the animals themselves.

When I was a teenager I became a vegetarian because I couldn't stomach the idea of eating a piece of dead animal. I still ate dairy and eggs, because I rationalized that no animals had to die for them. I had no idea the kind of suffering that laying hens and dairy cattle go through. I had no idea that there was a lot more suffering going on in an animal's life than just the end, when they are slaughtered.

Although I have been vegan for more than two years now, this still shocked me and horrified me, and at one point, brought tears to my eyes. I have been able to live without the guilt of eating meat for some time, but now I have another guilt. How can I let my kids eat this stuff, when I know how it affects their little bodies, the hormones and antibiotics, the filthy shitty living conditions, the diseases that have been born from factory farming, the terrible consequences it can have on their health? How can I let my son eat a chicken McNugget when I know that's it's not even food? It's some processed version of factory shit, formed into a nugget with more than 30 ingredients that are harmful to his mental and physical health?

At least Garrett has quit eating meat. And Grace is a vegetarian about half of the time. I don't think she quite yet understands what it means, and I hope that when she is more educated she will make the right decision. Should I be educating her more right now? How much should I tell her about animals and the way they are treated? I don't know. I am working on that.

I am going to read the book again, this time with a highlighter in my hand. There were many parts that I wanted to be able to go back and find. It was brilliant. It may have been the best non-fiction book I have ever read. It hit me hard.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kale and Cabbage Slaw

Oh, so pretty!

I bought the kale at my favorite Amish farm that I always go to. They know me by name, they know what I like, and they go pick it right out of their (chemical free) garden and hand it to me for such a small amount of money that I almost feel guilty.

The recipe came from Ani Phyo, and it was very simple and full of flavor. The Greek dressing was just some apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and thyme. After I mixed it up and ate a big bowl, I found a green inchworm on my kitchen counter.

"Oh, cute!" I said. "He must have been living in the kale!"

He instantly became Grace's new pet. We put him in a container with some grass. I gave him another leaf of kale to eat, and we discovered an even smaller inchworm on that piece. Two new friends! Grace was in heaven!


Yesterday I went to eat another big bowl of this slaw and, of course, there was a dead inchworm in there. Maybe more. I don't know. I had washed the kale first (well, ran water over it quickly), but not carefully enough. The whole salad had to go. Inchworms are not vegan.

The poor little thing must have drowned in my Greek dressing.

The other two died eventually. I don't know how to keep inchworms alive.

I wonder if I ate any the first time I had the salad...

I have more kale, and I am not throwing it out. I am going to very thoroughly wash it before eating it. Maybe Grace will find a new friend or two.

But I will make the salad again. In fact, I am really into trying my own homemade dressings lately. How simple, delicious, and cheap! And better tasting than anything that comes in a bottle at the store.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baking in the Heat

This week has been unreal as far as temperature and humidity go. Most days I stay in the house where the AC keeps things nice and comfortable. But every so often I venture outside and sit and feel the sauna-like air, try to breathe it for a while. It makes me appreciate the central air even more when I go back inside.

Yesterday I was a total idiot and did a lot of baking and cooking, even though the temps were in the 90s. I recently bought a GIANT zucchini from an Amish farm and needed to do something with it. Thankfully, VegWeb decided to email me a bunch of zucchini recipes, anticipating an issue I'm sure many people have right now: an overabundance of zucchini.

The recipe for Superfantastical Banana Carrot Zucchini Muffins looked wonderful, so I went to work, with my little baker girl right there to help, of course.

I used like a cup of zucchini for these things. I am going to need a LOT more zucchini recipes, or else make a whole bunch of these and put them in the freezer. Hey, that's a good idea. Because they are really, really delicious!

I had to post this picture because it's a rarity these days. Grace tends to go into screaming fits when I pull out the camera, which breaks my heart. But after a little persuasion, I was able to snap this one of her filling the muffin pan.

These muffins were pretty low fat, made with half whole wheat flour, and full of veggies and fruit and happiness. Mmmmm....

In the background my tofu is pressing. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy and heat making the Indian Baked Tofu I love so much. I make it not only because it's crazy awesome, but because Garrett loves it and begs me for it. "Ooh, make those little yellow things!" he says. Then he whines all night wondering when they will be done, because I don't start the pressing, marinating, and roasting early enough and we never get to eat until 8 p.m. But it's all worth it. I also boiled some tiny little red potatoes from the Amish, and threw what veggies I had left into a pan and steamed them. It was very satisfying.

True story: While I was dicing up the tofu, I had to stop Grace from eating all of it. RAW. "See, it's not gross, mommy!" Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Another true story: Grace so desperately wanted to help grate the carrots, even though all I had was some baby carrots. I was afraid that she would cut her finger. She said she didn't care if she cut her finger, and went to get a Band-Aid so she would be prepared. She worked her tiny little fingers hard. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

Monday, August 9, 2010


For the past eight months, I have been drinking a soy kefir smoothie for breakfast pretty much every day. But lately I have been switching things up just a bit. On my new fave vegan blog, Oh, She Glows, I found a recipe for Vegan Overnight Oats and decided to try it out.

This recipe is awesome and can be made in many different ways. I added cinnamon, because oatmeal and cinnamon go so well together. And it's so nutritious - almond milk, oats, mashed banana, chia seeds all sitting in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning the oats are mushy and you can add all you want - almond butter is so damn delicious! A touch of maple syrup, raw cacao nibs (haven't tried that yet), canned pumpkin and pumpkin spices, whatever you want. What a healthful, filling, delicious breakfast! And yes, eat it cold. It's great, I swear.

And check out other things on the website. I have found it to be very inspirational. There are a lot of great recipes. I want to glow! That's all I have ever wanted!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Health and Weight and Love

When I was growing up, I was skinny. When my husband and I started dating, I only weighed 115 pounds. I didn't wear a bra because I barely had any boobs (plus, it felt rather liberating). I ate whatever I wanted my entire life without ever once thinking about a calorie or fat grams or what my scale said. I didn't have to try on clothes at the store because when I brought them home, they always fit. I am going to tell you something that normally women don't like to share. Something happened, because when I was 20, I still only weighed 120, and when I got married at age 22, I was at 165 pounds.

Something being my medication? The fact that I was now living on my own with my own money and could buy and eat food whenever I wanted? The fact that because I had never thought about it, I didn't really know how to eat well, so I was eating brownies for breakfast and making Hamburger Helper for our supper? I don't know. A combination of everything, I suppose.

After I had my second child, things got worse, and when I finally joined Weight Watchers, I weighed 176 pounds. Eek, I hate even typing that! I struggled through more than a year of Weight Watchers meetings, losing weight, but losing it slowly and painfully. I will never forget the day I went shopping and had to buy size 12 clothes to replace the size 16 that were too baggy. What a natural high! I had done it! I had worked hard at something and accomplished it!

My goal weight that I was focused on was 135. When I got down to 143 pounds, I got pregnant with Grace. I started eating whatever I wanted again, because I was pregnant and felt it was a good excuse. I gained 30 pounds with the pregnancy. I am still carrying around about 15 of those.

Being in Weight Watchers taught me a lot about my food choices, and just how horribly I had been eating. I learned a lot, but I will never join again.

One reason is that I was way too focused on that magic number, and way too focused on how many points I was eating. It really hit me one day when I realized I was eating the most tasteless piece of crap sandwich I had ever eaten. Low-calorie bread, fat free turkey slices, and fat-free cheese. It was only three points! Blech! How could this be acceptable? I was also drinking diet soda and other drinks with artificial sweeteners. Not good.

These days, Weight Watchers really pushes so many processed meals, snacks, bars, etc. that it is ridiculous. There are desserts, muffins, cookies, all with the Weight Watchers label on them, but still NOT healthy food choices.

I no longer look at fat and calories in my food (if I even buy food with labels). I look at the ingredients. If it has things I don't want in my body, I am not going to eat it.

I work with a woman who thinks she is a big health nut. Her husband has cardiac issues, and she and her family changed their eating habits. This is a good thing...but in my opinion, she is a bit misguided. Every day she eats a Fiber One bar as a snack, and she made a comment that it is delicious, and good for you too! I asked her about the sugar content. She answered, "Only 10 grams." That means nothing to me. I said, "What kind of sugar?" She looked over the ingredient list, and rather sheepishly, answered, "High fructose corn syrup..."


Another thing is, when I was eight pounds away from my goal, I was happy. I was still in the category that was considered "Overweight," but I felt great. I was thin. I looked good. I was a 30-year-old minivan-driving mother of two boys, but I had guys looking at me and totally hitting on me on a regular basis. Not that my goal is to be hot for the guys by any means, but is that not a confidence booster?

I was at a happy weight. I was fine, no matter what the scale said, or what the charts think I should weigh. And my goal was high, too. According to the charts, 135 is the absolute MOST I should ever weigh since I am only 5'3" tall.

Right now, I weigh myself every single morning, and sometimes at night. Some days my weight has gone down a couple pounds, and I feel light and happy. The next day it has gone back up, and I feel miserable and depressed. I really want to stop depending on that stupid number for my happiness.

Nobody else cares what that number is. My husband has loved me through all of my weights and body shapes. My kids couldn't care less. Grace calls me "My beautiful mommy."

But I still feel disgust when I walk by the mirror and see my big belly, and my fat thighs, and I still wish they were gone.

I have been walking this summer, but I haven't been doing much more than that. And I have been eating really well most of the time, but I still need to exercise more. I still need to stop hating my body and worrying about the number on the scale. I need to throw away the scale and just take care of my body until I am at a happy weight, whatever that number is. Until I feel good in my clothes.

When I go to the swimming pool, I feel a bit self-conscious in my swimming suit. But when I get out there, I look around and see that every single person there is a different size, and a different shape, and that is perfectly okay. They are all beautiful. We need to all stop hating our bodies and feeling that we will never live up to some ridiculous, impossible standards set by media, society, movies, magazines, etc. that are made to make us feel inferior and unhappy. Life is not like that.

I know a fellow reporter that works for another paper and we always visit at meetings. She is in her 70s, and she looks great. She said she always wishes people would listen to her when she tells them to exercise, and how important it is for your health. I told her I would listen, and it really did hit me. This woman has been through many health issues, including leukemia, and she has survived and remained in shape and younger looking. If I don't start taking care of my body soon, I will regret it someday.

I'm going to finish my coffee, and this afternoon I'm going to do a rigorous yoga routine with Garrett. And it's going to feel great. I think I will skip weighing myself tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Raw Scramble

Enjoying a good lunch here and thought I would share.

Ani Phyo again...I love her!

I kind of fell off the health wagon the past few days (we had Oreos in the house). I have found that I really notice how my body reacts to crap, and I don't like it. I feel all bloated and fat and gross when I eat a lot of fat and/or sugar. And I find myself craving the good stuff.

I had to get up really early this morning to drive out of town for a story, so I just had a banana before I left. When I got home I made my usual smoothie. Then I had coffee and then water. For lunch I felt like having something light. I made the Garden Scramble from Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen. Raw almonds and sunflower seeds in the food processor, along with a pinch of salt and some turmeric and water. This is the base called the Love-the-Chicks Pate. When that was done, I mixed in some veggies I had in the fridge; mushrooms, green onion, green pepper, and tomato. I placed it on a bed of my best friend kale. Spinach would have been better, but I am out. I am eating it right now. You should be too.

Tonight is lasagna night. I am making a regular lasagna for the omnis, then a vegan one for Garrett and me. Using Daiya vegan mozzarella. I will make some tofu basil ricotta cheese for the middle. And mushrooms, of course. Lots of mushrooms. Hope it's good!