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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tons of food reviews and some soapboxing

Hello everyone!  I had yesterday off work and it was so nice to spend some extra time with my guys.

I picked up a few new things to try and made some new recipes this weekend.  On Friday I roasted some carrots and made crispy kale--kale brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then baked in the oven for about...well, I think it was ten minutes.  I gave my little guy some carrots and kale, and he poked at the kale and said suspiciously, "Mommy, it's....crunchy."  I informed him that potato chips and veggie straws are crunchy, too, but he didn't buy it.  But at least he looked at it.  I got him to eat broccoli this weekend, which was a big win for me.  The carrots and kale were pretty good, but I have this issue where I always end up dumping too much oil on things.  I can't figure out if I'm supposed to measure it or what.  I look at it and say, "Oh, that's not enough..." and then everything ends up swimming in oil, and I kill a tree in paper towels to soak some of it up.  So if anyone has any tips, I am all ears.

I found Amy's Kitchen Vegan Rice Macaroni and Cheeze at my health food store.  It was....gooey.  It's made with cheddar Daiya, which give it a really cheesy feel, but to be honest, I've been so long without cheese that anything that has a similar texture wigs me out a little.  It was also very, very heavy--22 grams of fat, 520 calories--this was vegan junk food at its worst!  I won't be buying that again.  I just can't handle that much fat in one sitting anymore.

On Saturday we made a trip to a place called Tremont Scoops--they have dairy ice cream and vegan ice cream, so we thought it would be fun to check out.  It's a little shop, very cute, and the owner was nice and explained all her vegan options to me.  All the vegan ice cream and sorbet is kept in a freezer case separate from the dairy ice cream, which is great because it lessens the chance of cross-contamination for those who have allergies.  She had vanilla Tofutti ice cream and a few fruit sorbets.  We usually only get the Trader Joe's brand of vanilla (or cherry chocolate chunk for Mommy) and sometimes the So Delicious brand.  Tofutti tastes way different--definitely much creamier than my little man is used to, with a definite aftertaste.  He once tried a Tofutti milkshake at a local restaurant and he didn't like it--and it was the same with his ice cream cone.  He licked it once and handed it to me, and then we fed his cone to the birds.  I got a sundae with chocolate and peanut butter sauces--so good but, like the mac and cheeze, so much richer than I'm used to.  I think I ate half of it.

Tremont Scoops also does vegan cakes!  I was excited.  We are going to order the marble cake with vanilla icing for my birthday.  Reviews, vegan and non, forthcoming. 

Trader Joe's soy "chicken" nuggets?  Eh.  They were okay.

My changeover to veganism is going really well.  It's been over a week since I've eaten any meat, and before that it was about a week--I've eaten chicken maybe three times in the past month.  I'm reading The China Study and Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating right now, and it's incredibly interesting reading about the extreme health benefits of being vegan.  The Dr. Dean Ornish cardiology trial was amazing!  It makes me want to strongly encourage my loved ones to minimize their animal product intake...but I haven't figured out how to do that without coming across as pushy, preachy, or psycho.  I was reading portions of Vegan to my husband this weekend and he informed me that I was depressing him with all these statistics about meat and heart disease and cancer, and I replied, "I thought knowing these things would empower you to make better food choices!" 

However, I think at first it can be so overwhelming to change your diet.  I have experience with it--I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for several years, then I added chicken and turkey back into my diet, then I stopped eating dairy and eggs, and now I'm going vegan.  But when you've eaten the same way all your life (and have a picky palate), it's hard to even think of making a change.  Trying out new food and recipes is trial-and-error, too, and it can get discouraging and makes it easy to give up.  I seriously had to eat ten crappy vegan pizzas before I came up with a recipe I liked.  I had to figure out how to cook tofu, and I'm still battling with the kale.  But I believe it's a change worth making--even if it's a little change, it's still in the right direction--and I want to be educated so I can be empowered to make my life, my family's life, and the animals' lives better.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vegan Cake

Well, the big 3 - 0 is coming up next week and I am searching for a vegan cake.  For the past several years, since I stopped eating dairy, I've made my own cake, but I would really like to not have to this year.  (Plus, I'm tired of my only vegan cake recipe...I need to get Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and try out some new recipes.) 

I've been searching and so far I have found...one bakery.  That's it.  Last year I called around to a bunch of existing bakeries and asked if they made vegan or dairy-free cakes, and the answer was no.  There is a bakery in a small health food store I frequent, but to be honest, except for their vegan buckeye bliss bars, their bakery kind of stinks.  I ordered cupcakes for my mom's graduation party this summer and not only was the woman behind the counter incredibly rude to my husband and son, the cupcakes were awful.  There is one more cake place that does vegan cakes, but they do not accept small orders--only large orders for weddings and the like.  I emailed the bakery that does smaller cake orders, so we'll see how that goes.  I'm thinking about going to the farmers market tomorrow and begging the lady who makes the awesome vegan muffins to make me a cake. 

I've been a bit disgruntled with the selection of vegan food offered in my cafeteria lately.  You would think, since this is an urban university, that they would have more of a selection of vegan food, but they don't.  How easy would it be to make rice with oil instead of butter?  They offer pretty much no vegan protein in the cafeteria by my office.  The other day I didn't bring my lunch and ordered their veggie burger, which, when I asked a few weeks ago, was vegan...but then when I asked specifically about the bun, it turns out that all the bread they had available had egg or dairy in it.  I have to say, the staff in my cafeteria is wonderful--they always take the time to find out the ingredients to everything, and when I told them to just leave off the bun on the veggie burger, they brought it to me with huge, beautiful slices of tomato and lettuce.  It's a cafeteria, I understand that they have limited food choices, but I'm not asking for anything fancy.  Just beans to put on my salad or something. 

Do you know who seems to be incredibly food-allergy and vegan-friendly?  You may never guess, because I was shocked as well....Disney World!  I am so not a Disney person.  I'm really not into all the commercialism and advertising to super young children and that milk commercial on the Disney Channel bugs me for several reasons.  But my husband loves Disney World, and my son is a good age, and my husband and I are both turning 30 this fall, so we decided to go.  Originally we were looking into renting a house so we could cook, but once I started researching, I came across multitudes of parents whose children have severe food allergies and say the Disney World chefs are awesome.  It requires a bit of prep work, but I have no problem calling and chatting with the chefs about what yummy stuff they can make for us.

Hooray, three day weekend coming up!  Thank goodness.  It has been a rough week.  I'm looking forward to relaxing with my guys.