To all my vegan friends

Help! I’d like to buy a vegan cookbook (just one) so that I can start experimenting with vegan meals once or twice a week. I am looking for something with relatively easy to make, quick if possible and kid-friendly (in that the meals aren’t so elaborate that the kids will turn up their noses) recipes. I’m mostly looking for dinners though desserts are always welcome too. ;)

So my question is: what is your favorite vegan cookbook and why?

Thank you! :)

Herb the veggie dragon book winner!

Congratulations to Homemom3! Her number was chosen by Random.org as the winner of Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon – a book from Barefoot Books.

Thank you to everyone who entered. I have several more fun contests coming up in the next few weeks. :) In the meantime, if it is contests that you love, make your way over to Homemom3’s blog, where she regularly showcases contests from around the ‘net.

Don’t forget to keep Barefoot Books in mind for birthdays or holiday shopping. Right now you can receive a FREE copy of “Storytime” with any purchase of $30 or more until October 31st. Note: The book will be automatically added to your order when it is shipped from the warehouse. It will not appear in your basket when you check out.

The great veggie sneak continues – with a recipe

Ever since Jessica Seinfeld appeared on Oprah touting her new book “Deceptively Delicious,” there’s been lot of talk around the internet about sneaking veggies into kids’ food. Some are for it, some are against it. I tend to take a somewhat moderate approach. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mixing vegetables into other foods, but I don’t believe in intentionally trying to deceive your kids. Seinfeld says she will set a box of store-bought mac & cheese out on the counter so the kids assume that’s what she is making, while in the meantime she is whipping up her own healthy homemade mac, cheese & veggie blend. That feels dishonest to me and rubs me the wrong way. It seems like a quick and temporary fix to me and I don’t think that will establish good eating habits for later in life either. However, just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it won’t work for some parents and their kids. Bottom line is we all gotta do what’s best for our family.

Full blenderAnyway, in the spirit of sneaking veggies, I wanted to tell you about a new delicious smoothie recipe that I got from Julie at Rarely Home Mom. Here’s the kicker – it’s got spinach in it! The smoothie is called Groovy Green Goodness and green it is. I’m a fan of spinach, but I admit to being skeptical about drinking it, so I put off making the smoothie for a week. But with a name like Groovy Green Goddess, I couldn’t resist it for long. Yesterday after picking up some organic grapes, I decided to give it a go, and low and behold it was delicious! It seriously does not taste like spinach.

Groovy Green GoddessHere’s the recipe:
Groovy Green Goddess
1 banana, cut in chunks
1 cup grapes
1 (6 ounce) tub vanilla yogurt (I just used a few scoops of vanilla yogurt out of my 32 oz. container)
1/2 apple, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves

optional – ice

Place the banana, grapes, yogurt, apple and spinach into a blender. Cover, and blend until smooth, stopping frequently to push down anything stuck to the sides. Pour into glasses and serve. Serves 2

I also added some wheat germ to mine and you could substitute other flavors of yogurt if you like, as well as other fruits, though you may not end up with it being a groovy green color if you add berries and such.

J and A with the Groovy Green Goddess smoothie

I know, the real question is – what did the kids think about it? They loved it too! Ava was particularly impressed by the green color – which is her favorite. She gulped her’s down (and yes, I showed her that there was spinach in the blender before I made it), then started in on the one I was sharing with Julian (who drank it right up too). Pretty soon Ava had commanded control of my cup and was doling out sips to me and Julian while she intermittently took sips herself. I never would’ve thought the three of us would be doing battle over a spinach smoothie. ;)

Give it a try and see what your kids think. In the spirit of involving them in the process (something Michelle at What’s Cooking is very fond of and I think is a great idea as well), I encourage you to let them help you put the ingredients in the blender (using safety precautions like not having the blender on the base, of course). :)

I’m now wondering if it would taste as good with frozen spinach since I don’t often have fresh spinach on hand. Hmm. Guess I will be conducting my own experiment to find out.

Here are more great smoothie recipes.

Going green without breaking the bank – Blog Action Day 2007

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today, Oct. 15, 2007, is Blog Action Day where I join over 15,000 other bloggers to write about the environment. I have chosen to write about ways to go green without breaking the bank.

The decision to go green is a wonderful one – both for you and your family and for the environment. However, it can be overwhelming at first, especially if you are living on a budget as most families are. Today I’m going to make some suggestions for ways you can become more environmentally-friendly without breaking the bank.

Something important to keep in mind is that going green is a work in progress. You don’t have to do everything today to make a difference. You can start by selecting one or two things and add onto it every week or month. Every little bit helps. By the end of a year, you’ll be amazed at all of the changes you’ve been able to make.
Here are just a few things to get you started to go green without spending a lot of money.

  1. Make your own household cleaners. Vinegar and baking soda are two important ingredients for homemade cleaners. They are inexpensive and, chances are you already have both in the house! I found some great recipes here and here. Imagine how nice it will be to clean your bathroom with your kids nearby or in the same room without the fear of toxic fumes in the air. And you can breathe a sigh of relief when your teething toddler chomps down on your coffee table because you don’t have to guess what chemicals are on the table (and in her mouth) when you know it was cleaned naturally with olive oil and lemon juice. Not convinced that homemade products can cut the mustard? Here’s an interesting science project that compared the efficiency of both commercial and homemade cleaning products.
  2. Unfortunately, along with better health for you, organic foods also tend to come with a heftier price tag than their conventional counterparts. However, the good news is that not all foods are horribly pesticide-laden. Get yourself a copy of the Organic Dirty Dozen, keep it in your purse or wallet and shop for organic foods accordingly. Here are the 12 most contaminated that you should buy organic if you can: • Apples • Bell Peppers • Celery • Cherries • Imported Grapes (from Chili) • Nectarines • Peaches • Pears • Potatoes • Red Raspberries • Spinach • Strawberries. On the flip side, here are the 12 least contaminated where buying organic isn’t as critical, especially if money is an issue: • Asparagus • Avocados • Bananas • Broccoli • Cauliflower • Corn (sweet) • Kiwi • Mangos • Onions • Papaya • Pineapples • Peas (sweet). Even better and cheaper than buying organic is to grow your own organic produce. Here’s more about which organic foods are worth the extra money.
  3. Use reusable bags instead of plastic or paper bags at the grocery store and ALL stores. Stores like Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, IKEA, Trader Joe’s and even Safeway are now selling reusable bags – some places for only $0.99 each. You can buy 6 for under $6 which should accommodate your groceries for the week. The bags are sturdy and hold a lot more than plastic bags do. You can also buy reusable bags at Reusablebags.com and 1 Bag at a Time. Unsure why plastic bags are so bad for the environment? Here’s a 10-minute film to enlighten you on the curse of plastic bags.
  4. Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Even if items are in the off position, they are still using energy. Unplugging doesn’t cost you a cent to do and will save you money!
  5. RECYCLE your plastic, glass, aluminum and paper! Go to Earth911 and enter your zip code to find out what is recyclable in your area.
  6. Shop at second-hand stores for clothing, etc., and donate, give or sell your old clothes, shoes, etc. to others. It is especially easy to buy gently used clothing and items for babies and toddlers. I just bought the kids some “new” (to them) clothes this weekend. They are cute, in good shape and very affordable. Again, this tip will save you money.
  7. Change the light bulbs in your house to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

For even more tips on going green, please visit my Earth Day 2007 post.

While today is a special day to blog about the environment, you can be sure this is not my last post on the topic. There will be more from me in the months ahead as I learn more ways that I can do my part to help save the planet. :)

Lastly, I want to say congratulations to Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I hope this honor helps bring more immediate attention to the serious matter of global warming.

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Did you participate in Blog Action Day? Please sign Mr. Linky below with the link of your Blog Action Day post so that others can go read what you had to say about the environment. :)

An anatomy lesson with a 3-year-old

I overheard this conversation between Ava (3) and Jody AKA Daddy while I stepped out of the kitchen to use the bathroom this evening.

Ava: Where’d mommy go?
Daddy: To the bathroom.
Ava: Why?
Daddy: Because she has to pee.
Ava: Why?
Daddy: Because she drank a lot of water so her bladder is full.
Ava: You poop out of your vagina.
Daddy: No, you poop out of your…(pause)…your anus. And you pee out of your urethra.
Ava: What do you use your vagina for?
Daddy: Pause.
That’s a little more complicated. We’ll talk about that when you get older.

(Note: I hesitated before posting this for fear of attracting perverts, so if you are indeed a pervert, please take your leave now. “There’s nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.”)