Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Decorating Easter Eggs Vegan Style

Above are the wooden Easter eggs the kids painted this year. Evelyn did the two on the left and Elliott the three on the right. I really wish that I had thought to take a picture of the kids after they were done painting. Evelyn was covered from head to foot! It would have been a cute photo.

When I was growing up it was tradition to dye Easter eggs. It was something I really enjoyed, and wanted to do with my own kids in some fashion (vegan of course). After thinking upon it awhile, I drummed up a few ideas to satisfy my nostalgia. First was making paper mache eggs and decorating them. Once I imagined doing this with a toddler, I nixed the idea, and then shelved it for farther down the road. I then happened upon a painted wooden Easter egg, and realized this would be a simple alternative for our family to try.

I researched online for wooden eggs, and decided on ones with a flat bottom so they would stand up. Last year was our first time trying it out and my craft-phobic son loved it! He sat coloring the eggs with markers for a good twenty minutes. Not too shabby for a 2 year old.

Update: I've seen wooden, plastic, and paper mache options at Michaels craft stores. You could probably find vegan alternatives then.

Elliott last year working diligently on his Easter eggs.

Here he is this year at it again. Finally an art project that lasts longer than a minute!

Evelyn was able to join in on the fun and here is her first shot at it.

Our plan is to do this each year until our kids grow up. When they move out to start their own families, we'll send these along for their first Easter decorations. In the meantime, they are out on display for our children to touch, view, and admire. There is nothing sweeter than the proud face of an accomplished little artist!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vegan Easter Treats and Candy

Last year was the first time my son got into the Easter egg hunting experience. This year should be even better, because my daughter will be able to partake too. Our family appreciates celebrating spring. The Berenstain Bears book called "The Real Easter Eggs" is a great story that focuses on the non-commercial aspect of the holiday. We do participate in the egg hunt and baskets, but also focus on the signs of spring returning.

Finding vegan goodies to fill plastic eggs and Easter baskets isn't as difficult as you may think. We've used dark/semi-sweet chocolate foil eggs, Skittles, Sweet Tarts, vegan jelly beans, Smarties, Sour Patch Kids, Twizzlers, and Dum-dums. You can see there are quite a few options, and this is only a small portion of vegan candy options. In order to avoid having all candy, we also have done individually wrapped bags of pretzels, Oreos, animal crackers, Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks, Jammy Sammys, and fruit leather. If you want a full list of vegan candy check out Peta Kids.

Last year, I made a lot of the chocolates for the kids, using molds. It may sound intimidating, but it isn't too hard. Check out my post from last Halloween, which would provide some good ideas if you purchased some Easter treat molds.

When I first became a mama, I wondered how easy it would be to find a pre-made vegan Easter basket. Turns out there are quite a few options online if you are so inclined (see below). Personally I enjoy making them myself with books, art supplies, cds, outdoor toys, stickers, small puzzles and cars. This year I even saw a basket at Target that was "accidentally vegan." If you are interested in making your own basket, check out the list at Go Dairy Free for vegan chocolate Easter candy.

List of Pre-made Vegan Easter Baskets Available Online
Vegan Divine
Natural Candy Store
Sweet Earth Chocolates
Allison's Gourmet
Cakewalk Baking Company

Here are the baskets I made last year:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vegan Gluten Free Bunny Rabbit Easter Cake

Now that Easter is right around the corner, I thought I'd post information for the bunny cake I made last year. It is a vegan gluten-free coconut cake. Ironically it is from a cake mix and canned frosting, something I've rarely used in the past. When I was toting around a 6 month old and chasing a 2 year old simultaneously my typical aversion to the simple box cake option went out the window.

I'll admit it, sometimes it is nice to take the easy option. This year I'm going the lazy route again. If you are interested in making this it is really simple. I used a Cherrybrook Kitchen vanilla cake mix and frosting. You bake two 8 or 9 inch round cakes. One is used for the face and the other is cut to create the ears and bow tie.   To determine where to cut, imagine you are cutting along lines similar to the lacings on a baseball. Place all the pieces together like shown above, and then frost. Immediately after frosting, sprinkle with coconut until layered well. I used Whizzer's Chocolate Beans to make the eyes, nose, and polka dots. The whiskers/mouth are made from Twizzlers, and the teeth are cut out from vegan marshmallows. The insides of the bunny's ears are coconut dyed pink.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

My favorite desserts typically involve some combination of peanut butter and chocolate. When I found a recipe online to make peanut butter filled chocolate cookies on Nom Nom Nom's blog I couldn't resist. This was from the author of the book "The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes." It does not disappoint.

They are called Chocolate Peanut Butter Shells. Often times I will alter a recipe as I prepare it, but this one seemed right on the mark. Here is the product of this tasty recipe:

These were so darn good, I plan to check out more of the recipes on her blog. If they turn out like this one, I will be adding to my collection of vegan dessert recipe books. What can I say, I am a sweet tooth. These are added to my list for the next vegan cookie exchange.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's in a Name?

Since our eldest was young we made a conscious decision to "take back" the word milk. After contemplating it, we thought it would be good to refute the common acceptance of cow's milk taking the all-encompassing title of "milk". While this seemed like a good idea, it turned out to be unhelpful for our son.

Both kids are in early education classes, therefore require sibling care when I'm with the other one in class. Their school has been pretty good about our vegan diet. For the snack rotation between parents, they've sent a list home which specifies what food is okay to bring. Past experience taught it is easier to tell people what to bring versus what they can't. When signing them up for sibling care I gave specific instructions about snack and what they don't eat. Since I know they often serve goldfish cheese crackers, I sent a vegan version for the kids.

One day when I arrived to drop off my son the child care provider who typically was there was out. I thought nothing of it until pick up time. The person there told me that he requested milk at snack, so she gave it to him. I clarified the type of milk, and was disappointed to discover it was cow's milk. Right at that moment I addressed the issue, and reiterated his dietary guidelines. She was extremely apologetic and ensured me it would not happen again.

The next time we came in and the regular child care provider also apologized profusely and explained the steps they took to prevent it from happening again. I think it really shook things up as it could have ended quite differently had it been an allergy related issue.

The day we went home after my son drank cow's milk, I immediately began to call what we drink soy milk. We then sat down and talked about the different types of milk. Interestingly he said that cow's milk is for cow babies. I guess he deduced this from seeing me nurse his little sister.

In the end trying to redefine the meaning of milk was a disservice to our son. We learned the hard way, but he now knows to ask what type of milk if it is offered to him. He told my sister the other day, "I don't drink cow's milk, I drink soy milk." We've always told our kids that we eat vegan, but going forward the more tools we can provide them, the better off they will be, until they can decide for themselves.