It is that time of year again and school is back in session! A big concern some parents have is how to pack vegan lunches. We all want our children to enjoy lunch while at school and still keep it healthy. I am here to tell you that with a little prep work, vegan lunches are not complicated and you can feel good about your children being well nourished during a day of learning at school.

Here are some go to lunches that kids (and spouses) love! 

  1. Wraps!  These are easy for kids to eat and are easily diverse with ingredients. I usually get a whole wheat tortilla or collard greens and fill it full of my children’s favorite ingredients. This can include hummus, carrots, celery, sliced pepper, beets, sports, greens, etc. Sometimes I will even do Almond butter and bananas. I just really love wraps because of all the options!
  2. Dips! My daughter loves to dip her food in a variety of dips. I usually always have hummus in the house as a quick snack option. This is a great and simple snack to pack for a sack lunch as well. Chop up some veggies, grab some crackers and put some hummus in a container then you are good to go. Another sauce that kids love is vegan ranch. I usually mix vegenaise with a ranch seasoning and a little lemon. My kids love it!
  3. Pasta! Whenever I make pasta I always have leftovers noodles. I usually use brown rice pasta or whole wheat. Then I throw a little olive oil/lemon with some of my kids favorites veggies (asparagus, cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumbers). This is great served cold which is perfect for a sack lunch.
  4. Breakfast! Breakfast is my families favorite meals of the day. So I like to give my kids a special treat sometimes and have it for lunch. Whether it is my tofu scramble or a fruit parfait. It is a great way to switch it up every once in awhile.  
  5. Sandwiches! This is a classic go to lunch item. An easy and simple lunch is grilled cheese. There are so many great vegan types of cheese. My favorite is Chao cheese, especially for grilled cheese. But my secret is to put some grilled veggies or avocado in the sandwich. It’s a great trick to get some extra veggies in your children’s lunch.

 

So with these lunch ideas, you will have a healthy and nutritious option for you kids!

It is crazy how fast kids grow up. This past week my son Kosta turned one. To celebrate his birthday, I decided to throw a small get together and have friends and family over. Now most birthday parties for children included candy, cake, cupcakes etc. So not the healthiest of  options.

I always knew I wanted to raise my children vegan, and thankfully, I have an extremely supportive husband, who not only agreed, but is on board, whole-heartedly, and wants to raise our children this way, as well.

Raising our children vegan, is a pretty special and unique experience. Here I am, completely responsible for this little life, and perfect little body. The last thing I want to do is ruin it.

But that’s just how we, as parents, feel. It’s not always THAT easy, though, raising up little vegans, in a world FULL of nasty and unhealthy food.

So one way I am able to keep my children healthy is by getting creative. So instead of giving my son sugar and sweets, I decided to created a watermelon birthday cake. Not only was it cute it was super simple and everyone enjoyed it.

The presentation says beautiful dessert, but the ingredients shout healthy snack. However you categorize it, this watermelon cake is fun and easy to make, and a great way to dazzle guests and delight kids without excess added sugars.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 large watermelons

2 cartons of Blueberries

1 large Pineapple

2 cartons of Blackberries

1 bag of Grapes

1 carton of Strawberries

1 Cantaloupe

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the watermelon on its side on a cutting board. Cut 3 to 5 inches off each end to create large center slice between 3 to 5 inches in depth. Trim off the outer rind.
  2. Decide which piece will be your top tier, and shave down the sides until it fits nicely on top of the bigger watermelon piece. Place the stacked watermelons on a cake plate.
  3. Decorate with the extra fruit. Use cookie cutters to create stars or other shapes out of the sliced melons and secure on the side of the cake with toothpicks. Place a blueberry on the tips of each toothpick.
  4. Store in the fridge until right before serving. Slice and enjoy!

I see myself making this cake time and time again for future celebrations. It’s beautiful, sweet and guilt free. Yes please, sign me up. I’ll take two.

 

Gluten

This word “Gluten” has become more popular over the last four to five years. But what is it exactly? According to the Celiac disease foundation: “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Furthermore, it helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Also, it can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.”

I first had to learn about gluten when my mother, Valerie started having allergic reactions to it. So, my family immediately had to learn how to live and eat a vegan, gluten-free lifestyle. One of the big shockers that I found out is that there are so many products with it that I would’ve never thought. Here are just some normal foods that have gluten:

  • Bread, bread crumbs, biscuits 
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Cornbread (the flour usually contains some wheat)
  • Crackers
  • Croutons
  • Gravies, sauces, and roux
  • Licorice
  • Pasta
  • Pizza crust
  • Pretzels
  • Soy Sauce
  • Stuffing
  • Sweet baked goods like cookies, cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, muffins, pastries, and pie crusts
  • soy sauce
  • seasoning packets
  • natural flavoring
  • BBQ sauces
  • salad dressings
  • beverages such as sports drinks or iced tea mixes
  • oats (you must not eat anything with oats unless made with certified gluten-free oats)

Thankfully, more and more products are being made gluten-free. Also, there are many resources to find amazing gluten-free recipes. Here is one of my favorite recipes that you should definitely try:

Veggie Sandwich

Ingredients:

And last but not least,

  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Pickles
  • Onions

As a vegan, I love to keep my refrigerator filled with fresh fruits and vegetables because I believe that produce is essential to making healthy, plant based meals. That said, it is also important to keep your pantry filled with basic staples. A well-stocked pantry will give you more options to make delicious and healthy meals without heading towards the junk food. A well-stocked pantry will give you more options for cooking nutritious and delicious meals even when the fridge is looking rather empty.

Here is the list of items that I always keep stocked in my pantry:

  1. Brown Rice Pasta. Brown rice pasta comes from ground brown rice, instead of wheat. Therefore, it makes the noodles gluten-free. Brown rice pasta is high in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber. I always keep this in my pantry because you throw in some veggies and sauce and you have a delicious and nutritious meal!

  2. Coconut Oil Spray. I once read a blog on 50 ways to use coconut oil spray, and I was hooked. Not only can you use it in so many ways but it is healthier than most oil sprays. My favorite way to put it over popcorn with a little Himalayan salt! YUM!

  3. Green Salsa. I always keep a couple of jars with green salsa in the pantry. I love being able to grab a jar of salsa and throw it on a baked potatoes or make a snack with Bean chips. Salsa is also a great way to get Vitamin C!

  4. Russet Potatoes. Creativity is key with russet potatoes. Most people use them for making baked potatoes. My favorite thing to do is chop them up and put them in a pan with seasonings, veggies, and garlic! Or make homemade fries by baking them. This is an excellent way to get your minerals in!

  5. Beans! Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans… etc. I try and keep at least two to three cans of beans in my pantry at all times. Whether you are throwing them in a soup, salad or making a marinated bean side dish, these are always great to have on hand. They are a great way to get in that protein as well.

  6. Dates. If you’ve never had a freshly harvested date, they are worth seeking out for their insanely sweet, caramel-like taste and—this is where they differ most from dried dates—their soft, downright luscious texture. You can eat them alone as a great snack or use them to sweeten your desserts!

  7. Onions. From soup to stir-fries to nearly any savory meal, onions are clutch. Just make sure to keep them away from your potatoes when storing them.

  8. Canned Coconut Milk. It makes whip cream. You can use the condensed part of the milk for heavy cream which is found in dessert recipes. So easy and yet delicious.

  9. Bean Chips. They’re higher in protein and fiber than potato chips and corn chips. They also have fewer calories. So when you go to grab that crunchy snack, you can feel a little less guilty!

  10. Bananas.They are not only a great ingredient in my oatmeal waffles (recipe coming out in my upcoming cookbook) but they can be used for so many things around the house. From snacks to face masks, they are a must have.


So there you have it! Some must haves in my pantry!