Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Tradition

This year we decided to try a new tradition for New Year's Eve. The plan is to fondue with the kids using vegetable broth or oil, cheese, and chocolate. Not all at the same time of course. I wanted to do something to make the night fun for the kids, since we aren't able to go to the kid's New Year's party we were invited to.

We're going to fondue broccoli/veggies, tofu and/or cutlets in the broth or oil. The vegan cheese will be for the bread and broccoli. For the chocolate we'll do marshmallows and strawberries. Since it kids are little it should be interesting to see how it all goes.

Tonight I'll be celebrating 11 years of following a vegan lifestyle, which was the only New Year's resolution I can say I've kept. Actually I don't recall ever making any others, but becoming a vegan was certainly the most memorable. If you are considering improving your health and eating habits why not consider eating vegetarian or vegan more frequently next year? It is good for your health and the environment, and will likely help to expand the new foods to your dietary repertoire.

Happy New Years!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Vegkins Family Group

For a little more than a year I've been organizing Vegkins Family monthly meetings for vegan and vegetarian families. The Animal Right Coalition (ARC) started it and supports it. In the summer we met at parks for play dates. We've also visited the Como Conservatory, an apple orchard, and dinner at Evergreen Chinese Restaurant. Soon we'll do a music class together and a potluck. If you are interested in this group check us out Facebook by searching for Vegkins.

My family has found it helpful to discuss things about vegan parenting. The part we like best is for Elliott and Evelyn to have some fellow vegan playmates. Right now Elliott is starting to learn that we eat differently and once Evelyn is older she will start to realize that too. It is nice to learn how other families deal with different situations, and go to other vegan birthday parties!

If you don't have a group where you live, try connecting up with a local animal rights group to support and recruit putting together a group.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Once we had kids, my hubby and I decided we would like to host vegan Thanksgiving celebrations at our house each year. This was our third year. Our vegan lifestyle is important to us and we feel strongly about teaching those values to our children much like others do with theirs.

Since our kids are little, we have done our celebrations potluck style. Once they are older, we know they will likely be interested in helping cook each year. Our son loves to help in the kitchen and is twice as likely to try something new if he has helped to prepare it.

This year we made a mushroom walnut loaf, stuffing, pecan pie truffles, and a chocolate peanut butter pie. The pie was for the kids, since they can't eat whole nuts yet. This was our second year making the pecan pie truffles and we had requests for them this year. The recipe was published in Veg News last year, and is now available through their online holiday recipe compilation.

Our family brought mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole topped with Dandies marshmallows, squash casserole, and fruit salad with a blueberry yogurt topping. We had meant to make green beans, but the responsibility for cooking them was mixed up. It didn't matter in the end though, as we had more than enough food. There were leftovers for four days.

Next year we will probably start some traditions with the kids regarding our vegan feast. If you have any ideas, please send them our way. Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Vegan Halloween Party for Kids

My family always did Halloween big. It is my favorite holiday. I am sure having a sweet tooth might have something to do with this. Once we had kids, I knew we'd enjoy having a party for the under three crowd. We had delicious food and drinks, dancing, cupcakes, and games. I can't speak for the other parents, but our kids slept well the night after the party. Evelyn had a great time, and our son didn't want it to end.

Although half of the children at the party were vegan, it didn't really matter as I think most families would say it was a Halloween party that just happened to be vegan. We ate peanut butter and jelly bat sandwiches, fruit, chips & pretzels, spring rolls, pita with hummus, and cupcakes. Since we have two little kids, we kept it simple. The owl cupcakes did take awhile, but turned out really nice. They were Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo cupcakes. You can get the recipe here. I also made pumpkin spice cupcakes with maple frosting. It was my second time making them after tweaking the recipe.

Another treat we made for the party was mulled apple cider. My son loves juice and probably would have drank his weight in this stuff if we had let him.

We sent everyone home with goody bags with vegan homemade chocolates, Chew-ets, white chocolate ghost suckers, and Skittles (be sure to check before buying them, there are still ones with gelatin out there). The games had prizes like books from the dollar section at Target, stickers, crayons, etc. We also had little bags pretzels shaped like bats and pumpkins. All in all it was a good time. I'll end this post with a picture of some youngins getting down with their bad selves.

Homemade Vegan Halloween Candy

This year we had a Halloween Party for our kids. Last year we were too busy having just had Evelyn a little more than three weeks before Halloween. It was with great enthusiasm I started to plan the treats for the party. After my first try at making candy last Easter, I decided to make some again for the party.

First I ordered some molds and then made a peanut butter filling. Using a double boiler I melted the chocolate to start making the candy.

Next I coated the mold with a layer of chocolate. To speed things along, I put it in the freezer for a couple minutes. After it hardened, I added a layer of peanut butter filling. Lastly, I added the back layer of chocolate to the mold. Here is what they look like before the last step.

Once they were all done I wrapped them in foil, so they were ready for the party. Elliott loved them. I think they were his favorite Halloween candy.

Along with peanut butter filled pumpkins, I also made solid chocolate bats, solid white chocolate ghost suckers, and chocolate/white chocolate acorns with a maple filling. We will definitely do this again next year, but on a much smaller scale. If these are around they are eaten in unhealthy quantities. I guess that pretty much sums up Halloween though right?

Vegan Powdered Donuts!

For the first time in over ten years my hubby and I had the pleasure of eating powdered donuts. We made cinnamon sugar donuts as well. They were pretty good. I am still working on the recipe since this was our first attempts, so it isn't ready to share yet. It was still sinfully delicious, and makes my mouth water just thinking about them. The kids liked them as well and kept requesting more. Here are some pictures. Mmmmm!

We used an electric donut maker we purchased online here. It worked pretty well, but took a few test tries to get it right with the correct amount of dough and oiling the pan. The recipe provided with the donut maker did not work well veganized, so I don't recommend that option. Once we've got a perfected recipe to share I'll post it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

2 3/4 cups cake flour
2 cups natural sugar or baking sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups cool water
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl. With a spoon, make three indentations in dry mixture; 1 small, 1 medium, and 1 large.

3. Pour oil into large indentation, vinegar into medium, and vanilla into small.

4. Add the water and mix (do not over beat). Put into pan and oven ASAP in order to ensure the reaction with the vinegar and baking powder works properly. This is how the cake rises.

5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes for cupcakes or 45-50 minutes for cake until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean. You will want to adjust the cook time depending upon the baking pan you are using.

This recipe will yield two 9 layers or 24 cupcakes. Just be sure to keep an eye on your cake 40-50 minutes, and cupcakes 15-20 minutes.

Prep Time: 10
minutesCook Time: 15-20 or 45-50 minutes

Amazing Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1cup margarine (I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
3- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla
4-6 Tbsp. soymilk (Chocolate is best)
1 cup cocoa powder

Mix together margarine, cocoa, and vanilla together. Add powdered sugar and soy milk slowly alternating between the two and mixing between additions. You can vary the amount of soy milk or powdered sugar to obtain the best consistency for frosting.

Here is the chocolate cake recipe I adapted. It is moist and fluffy - great for cupcakes too.

Chocolate Cake Recipe


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vegan Birthday Party

At the beginning of this month my baby girl turned one. After losing our first son to a stillbirth, first birthdays are a big deal at our house. When we threw our first vegan birthday party for my son Elliott I was overwhelmed with determining what to serve for food. 

I baked three practice cakes to find a recipe I felt was delicious enough to represent vegan food. Prior to that my cake baking experience comprised of veganizing the cake recipe on the back of Hershey's Cocoa Powder.

Below is more detail on what food we served for the various birthday parties we've hosted if you are looking for ideas. We chose simple food since we have two little ones to keep up with while cooking.

PB & J sandwiches shaped like dinosaurs
Hummus & pita chips
Veggie tray with onion dip
Fruit Salad
Vegan potato salad (recipe from here)
Chips & Salsa or Guacamole
Spring rolls
Veggie Nuggets
Sloppy Joes
Warm 3 Bean Dip

Juice Boxes

Favor Boxes
Ritz Mini Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Annie's Fruit Snacks
Skittles (check for gelatin free there are still ones with gelatin out there)
Temporary Tattoos

Birthday Cakes & Cupcakes

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Vanilla Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting, topped with chocolate fondant -and-
Almond Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting, topped with vanilla fondant

Until my kids came along, I never really decorated cakes other than the simple frosting and adding the obligatory "Happy Birthday" writing. At the parties there were a lot of people who thought the cakes were store bought. Personally I think they were just being kind, but for a novice I think they turned out pretty good. My ideas were gleaned from a
birthday cake site, where people submit their homemade cakes with instruction on how to do them. The ladybug and digger cake were a combination of ideas, but it is a great place to get inspiration.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Newbie Blogger

I've followed blogs before, but have always been too intimidated to start my own. Time has always been the biggest challenge preventing me from taking the plunge. It has been a desire of mine to chronicle the experience of parenting from a vegan's point of view. Childhood is a grand adventure and I am simply along for the ride. What follows is my family's story.