Friday, August 31, 2012

Small Changes: Drinking decaf tea

I used to drink coffee. And when I say drink coffee, I mean ALL day long. When I worked in an office, I drank about three or four cups of the regular stuff a day. When I was pregnant with my first child, I switched to decaf. It wasn't easy, but it felt great not to feel so dependent on the stuff!

That was 11 years ago and I've never looked back. I can tell you with certainty that it helped balance out my sleeping patterns and it also was just nice not to have something I felt I needed everyday (btw, all you need is love :)

Once I went vegan last summer I switched to tea, not really liking decaf coffee with non-dairy milk (I used to use full-on cream).  Now I can't imagine my mornings without a cup of hot tea in the winter and iced herbal in the summer.

My favorite tea is rooibos (also known as African red bush) which is always caffeine free.

Although I enjoy high-end rooibos from time to time, I can tell you this one is also excellent and very affordable and available everywhere. It tastes great hot or cold :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Vanessa, Me and Ashley!
A big part of wellness in my life is working out. I'm not going to lie, I'm one of the lucky ones who genuinely loves going to the gym. For me it's a time to treat myself well, spend time with girlfriends, meet new friends and listen to the kind of music my kids love :)

I feel like I'm late to the party on this one, but this summer I started taking zumba twice a week and LOVE IT! Like, love it so much I would be an instructor if I had a little more wiggle room (get it?) in my schedule. Never say never...

Have you tried zumba? It's the perfect mix of hip hop, Latin and Middle Eastern dancing, all set to great music. The classes are routine based, so you feel like you're in a dance class where you can really add your own flare, which I'm ALL about! I joke to friends that it's like going to a dance club in the suburbs without all the gross men. What could be better than that?

Here's a video link that Vanessa sent me from her teaching a class (before my time!). So fun, right?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Hello beautiful plant-strong people :)

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday, where we take a peak into what I've been preparing myself for meals and snacks.

Breakfast was typical me: a mix of Uncle Sam cereal, old-fashioned oats and Shredded Wheat, topped with grapes, blueberries and walnuts.

Lunch was all about the incredible tomatoes I got down the street for 50 cents a POUND, which is crazy cheap.  A kind soul in the neighborhood has a lot of produce on her hands and has set up a cute little farm stand. Gotta love summer produce.

This salad was a simple baby spinach salad topped with mushrooms, tomatoes and pan-fried tempeh. Some Whole Foods dressing topped it off.

Snack needs no introduction. Sort of speaks for itself!

Dinner was a big ol' plate of kale chips (cooked with no oil, just dry on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 12 minutes, until crispy), corn on the cob (aren't you glad I tell you it's corn? just in case you can't figure that out?), Gardein orange chicken and more of those crazy tomatoes!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crazy Good Cracker!

I know you're thinking, "So what's so exciting about a cracker, especially a healthy cracker?" I used to agree. I generally don't buy crackers, as we're more of a pita chip kind of family.

However, the new thin and crispy rosemary flatbread crackers by Wasa are about the greatest thing ever. They have a light dusting of sea salt on the top to give them just-the-right-amount of zip and the rosemary flavor is perfect; not too much and definitely yummy. 

I ate a couple today topped with thinly-sliced tomato, which was simply delicious. 

Has anyone else tried these? If not, please pick some up and let me know what you think! If you've tried them, leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A cool wallet!

Have you heard of Mighty Wallet? They make a “sustainable wallet” made of Tyvek, which is the same thing FedEx and Priority Mail make their unrippable packages out of.

They are not only made out of recycled paper, they are recyclable as well. And most important (ha!) they are super cute.

I love all things British, so here are a couple of fun choices!

 How about the London Underground!
 Or for the musician in your life...

You have to agree, these are unique and fun, and for $15.00, a great deal!

Here is a video to learn more about their product:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Small Changes

Welcome back to "Small Changes" my new weekly post during which I encourage you to consider making small changes to the way you live, because it's often the small changes that yield that biggest impact over time!

Today's small change is really easy and tastes, um, great.

I'm encouraging you to simply add some fruit to your cereal in the morning.

That's all, folks, just a handful of fruit. And what better time than summer? If you're in a fruit-in-my-cereal rut, why not try something different?

Don't forget about: fresh apricots, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, banana, red grapes, peaches, strawberries.

It doesn't just have to be be sliced bananas! (don't worry bananas, I still love you!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kind Snack Bars

Good Morning dear readers! Today's post is quick and simple, but worth noting, because I just discovered a really yummy grab-and-go snack. Kind's "Mango Macadamia" bar. Holy smokes, people, this was so good!

What surprised me was the real mango taste. Of course, my kids tried it and thought it was gross, so it might be more of an adult taste....but it's a great late afternoon treat!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday, my series that lets you take a peak at what I've been making in my kitchen!

Breakfast was simple and delicious: Shredded Wheat mixed with oats and Uncle Sam cereal, topped with sliced banana and a handful of walnuts.

Lunch was a spinach wrap spread with hummus and topped with some tabouli. Have you tried that? It's really simple and different.

Snack was a whole bunch of frozen red grapes. Please tell me you've tried this. I don't know why they hit the spot as much as they do, but they do! That said, I'm really missing my smoothies since my smoothie maker broke. New replacement part is en route!

Dinner was also a bit Lebanese :) Some of my homemade stuffed grapeleaves (stuffed with tomatoes, lemon and brown rice) with a side of Gardien orange "chicken" and sliced red and green tomatoes from the farm stand. This was my favorite meal of the day!

Dessert was, an usually is, a square or two of dark chocolate! Usually more like two or three, but lets just say one or two for argument sake :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Smooth Skin

We all want to have smooth skin, right? And it's great if we can achieve silky smooth without using products that are harsh. Two of my favorites are the products pictured below.

I got a sample of this body lotion from Whole Foods and fell madly in love. And believe me, I'm really fussy when it comes to body lotion because I don't like scented products that compete with my perfume. Alba's Very Emollient Original Body Lotion is amazing. It's thick, goes on smoothly and has no scent.

The second product I use is pretty much any of the shower gels from The Body Shop. Yes, they are scented, but the scents are so light and pretty I don't mind!

The Body Shop has frequent specials on line and always offers free shipping on orders over $50.00. I tend to buy a whole bunch of these shower gels at once. They make great girlfriend gifts!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Last year I put together a presentation for teaching a "Healthy Lunches for Kids" class as my local Whole Foods market.  I'm sure I'm not the only mother who gets (super) bored of packing the same old lunches 5 days a week for an entire school year! So I made myself a bit of a cheat sheet to use as a quick reminder of different things I could make.

When I recently found the notes I took to make my presentation run smoothly, I thought you might enjoy seeing the way I broke it all down! I realize not everything is vegan...

Healthy Kids Lunch Ideas by veganmama

Something Substantial
Pasta Salad
Quinoa Salad
Couscous Salad

Something Creamy
Apple Butter
Almond or Peanut Butter

Something Crunchy
Veggie Chips
Kale Chips

Something Sweet
Dried Apricots
Trail Mix
Granola Bars
Sweet Peas
Dark Chocolate Square
Dates with Peanut Butter

Friday, August 17, 2012

Small Changes, White to Wheat

Welcome back to "small changes" where we're reminded that it's sometimes the smallest changes in life that yield the most benefits. Why? Because eating well is a transition and it's human nature to tip toe into good habits :) At least, that's where I've had the most success.

So today we'll talk a little about something a lot of us have already done: switching out white flour products to wheat.

The word "whole" refers to the fact that all of the grain (bran, germ, and endosperm) is used and nothing is lost in the process of making the flour. This is in contrast to white, refined flours, which contain only the endosperm. Because the whole flour contains the remains of all of the grain, it has a textured, brownish appearance. (wiki)


How to be sure you're getting whole wheat: When you're shopping for wheat, make especially sure to look for the term whole wheat (and in Canada, for the term whole grain whole wheat) to make sure you're getting all the bran, germ and endosperm. Just plain wheat legally refers to refined wheat.

When you're buying pasta or bread, flip the package over and look at the ingredients list. Do NOT follow the front of food packaging. Ever notice all the health claims on the front of food packaging? That's all marketing! That's not the real information. The real information comes from the list of ingredients.

You want "WHOLE" to be the first word in the ingredients list. That way you're getting the true health benefits in your food! Not to mention taste :)

So today's small change is to swap out your white products to wheat. Just try it! Your health thanks you!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sunny Citrus Quinoa Salad

Good Morning!

I recently made a really good summer salad from Kathy Freston's "The Lean" and thought I'd share the recipe and some pictures I took while preparing it.

Sunny Citrus Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 T minced shallot
2 T chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
2 T chopped fresh mint, loosely packed
2 T chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed
1T chopped chives
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds (I chopped whole almonds)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1 head butter lettuce (I didn't do)
1 large navel orange, peeled and sectioned (I didn't do)

Make the quinoa: Rinse well in a fine-mesh strainer until the water is clear. Place the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover and turn off the heat. Leave covered for 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.

In the meantime, combine oj, shallot, cilantro, mint, parsley, and chives in a medium bowl.

Add the zest, coriander, cumin, slat and pepper to the oj mix. Whist the oil into mixture.

Toast the almonds, if desired, until light brown.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Toss in the raisins, apricots and dressing.

Place the lettuce and orange sections onto a plate, and top with the salad.

Sprinkle with toasted almonds for garnish.

First, the dressing!

If you don't have a Microplane for grating fresh zest, it's the best * tool * ever.

I didn't have any golden raisins, but it's the sort of recipe that you can jazz up any old way you like. I easily could have replaced them with dried cranberries or dates or anything sweet :)

And this is how pretty it looks when it's all mixed together. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Welcome back to What I Ate Wednesday! 

Breakfast was the usual bowl of Rip's Big Bowl, topped with the best blueberries I had all summer (from Roche Brothers in Norton). They were super sweet and snappy.

Lunch was my favorite wheatberry salad that I make. I added red peppers for color, but it's just a basic grain salad made sweet with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. I also had some store-bought stuffed grapeleaves and cukes from the garden on the side.

For a snack I had this crazy stuff from the Vitamin Sea company called "Sea Crunch." I thought it was about the yummiest thing I've ever had and can't figure out why...

No, it didn't taste like seaweed, don't worry. It was like a cookie or crunchy granola bar that had the salty/sweet thing going on. Amazing.

Dinner was chopped greens from the farm stand (swiss chard) cooked with black eyed peas. When you're using swiss chard, don't throw away the stems! Chop them up like you would celery and use them as well.

I know it doesn't look pretty, but this sort of meal served over a whole grain (cous cous, brown rice) is very good and is something you can eat for days!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What the bulk? Quinoa Cornbread

I love to read other blogs and most of my favorite recipes have come from bloggers :) There is something reliable about getting recipes others have tested, right?

Today I found a recipe I'm dying to try: quinoa cornbread from the blog Straight Up Food.

Here is the recipe:

The problem with most cornbread is that it's incredibly yummy (right?) but filled with tons of oil or butter (or both?). This recipe looks amazing and is something I would definitely serve in the fall with a hearty soup or chili.

This healthy update on cornbread uses no butter, eggs, milk, salt, oil, or refined sugar or flour, instead getting its sweetness and texture from apple juice, bananas, oats, quinoa and flax seeds.

1 cup water
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup rolled oats, ground into flour
1-1/2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 of a ripe banana
1 cup apple juice (or 2-3 pitted dates soaked in 1 cup water)
Water as needed

1. Cook the quinoa: boil 1 cup water, then add in the dry quinoa, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is gone and the quinoa is fluffy.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, combine the cornmeal, oat flour, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

3. In a separate bowl, mash the banana with a fork, and blend in the apple juice (or water and dates). (If using dates instead of apple juice, mix the banana, dates and water in a blender for a smoother consistency.)

4. Combine wet and dry ingredients with a fork; fold in the cooked quinoa. The mixture should be thick, but add a little water if it’s too stiff. Spread mixture into a non-stick or parchment paper-lined 8×8-inch square pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes: You can also use blue cornmeal in place of the yellow cornmeal, and add fresh corn kernels or blueberries for a heartier, more colorful cornbread. / Quinoa comes in yellow, red and black, so feel free to use red or black for a more variegated cornbread. / Use a powerful blender, like a Vitamix or Tribest personal-size blender, to grind the flax seeds and oats, and to blend the bananas, dates and water.

Preparation: 20 minutes; cooking: 25 minutes; makes one 8×8 pan

Monday, August 13, 2012

Healthy Lunches for Kids

Can I be honest about something? I'm ready for the kids to go back to school. There, I said it! :)

I'm sure I'm not alone, although I feel for my teacher friends! But the rest of us are usually ready by now, right?

So, on that topic, I've started thinking about ways to send the kids off to school with some new fun lunches.

I'll be revisiting this over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, here's a video from our friends at Whole Foods.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Small Changes

Today is the first post I'm writing called "Small Changes," which will be a way of suggesting the small things we can do to incorporate new foods into our diets.

A year ago,  I began flirting with the idea of going from vegetarian to vegan after I decided to try soymilk on my cereal instead of cow's milk. I had only used skim milk for years, and was never interested in soymilk, but woke up one day thinking, "I'll try it." I had read a few books about eating vegan and was intrigued, so I thought this was a pretty basic first step.

And that, honestly, was the beginning!

So I challenge you, dear reader, to consider making one small change this week. Since today is Friday, maybe you try to switch out your cow's milk Monday morning to soy? I think Silk's light vanilla is a good first step for people not familiar with or turned off by the taste of soymilk. It's sweet and tastes great on cereal.

Want to give it a try?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tazo Vanilla Rooibos Tea

Ever wonder what to order at Starbucks when you don't want coffee? I don't drink coffee drinks, so my go-to drink of choice is a vanilla rooibos latte with soy. It's sweet (without added sweetener) and really soothing.

On a recent trip to Starbucks with my  mother-in-law, she noticed they sold the tea I love in a tin and bought me some. So now I can make my own, minus the foam.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

This is a particularly fun What I Ate Wednesday meets veganmama on the road :)

Breakfast started with the usual cereal with blueberries, but this time I mixed it up and cooked a big pot of Irish oatmeal. I forgot how much I love steel cut oats, slow cooked, with a dash of cinnamon and a splash of almond or soy milk.

Lunch was really fun.  I was in Cambridge for the morning so I treated myself to lunch at Veggie Galaxy on Massachusetts Avenue.  They serve all the usual diner fare, but vegan!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake!

Club sandwich: Grilled tempeh bacon, smoked tofu, balsamic roasted tomato, romaine and picked red onion!

Stick to your ribs kind of lunch, I won't lie.

Really cute inside, right?

Slaw on the side!

After such a big lunch dinner was very atypical...

When Pigs Fly Tuscan wheat bread topped with Barney almond butter and bananas. Hit the spot!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What the bulk? Oatmeal!

One of the first healthy eating blogs I started following was Kath Eats Real Food. 

Kathy writes a beautiful blog (not vegetarian, but very healthy and interesting) and makes oatmeal
look like a gourmet treat!

I mean, check out these yummy pictures:

I love the way she adds a scoop of nut butter to jazz up cereal. And the little black flecks are chia seeds, which I usually add to my cereal mix :)