Tag Archive | recipes

Vegan Children: World’s Best Salt Dough Recipe for Hours of Play

I have tried many dough recipes, this is the best I have ever found and was given to me by a worker at a children’s museum years ago. You can add natural food coloring and essential oils to the water before mixing to make scented and colored dough, as well as glitter. The whole thing can be made with organic ingredients too, especially in Portland where Bob’s Red Mill is readily available to visit and makes a nice trip for the kids.

1 1/2 cups hot water

Vegan Salt Dough for Play

Vegan Salt Dough for Play

3/4 cup of salt (I buy the 99cent Mortons)
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
3 cups of flour

Place flour in a large bowl, I pour the salt around the outer edge and make a well in the center. In the well I pour the oil, then the water and stir with a big ole spoon. Once it has formed add about 1/2 cup of more flour gradually until you reach the less sticky consistency.

Viola! You have salt dough, it can be kept in a sealed mason jar and will retain moisture for about 4 days.

How to Maintain Health with FitBit and Home Made Recipes

It’ true, I still have 25 pounds hanging around from my third baby who is now 15 months old.  In the past I used systems such as the BodyBugg but found them to irritate my skin, leaving rashy burn marks. It was also cumbersome and I didn’t care to wear it as a badge of weight loss honor like some might.

Enter the FitBit, a less expensive but in my mind superior product.  First of all it is only $99 compared to the $399 the BodyBugg cost at the time I purchased.  It does not require skin contact, you can wear it on a clip almost anywhere, and it even has a sleep tracking feature (it comes with a sleep sleeve). There is no extended purchasing of programs required either.  You get the online software indefinitely and it does just what the others do – tracks activities (via upload or manual enter), tracks calories (via manual upload of nutritional info or browse their database), it gives insight into sleep patterns and even connects with other wireless devices (like my scale) to sync data in one handy location.  All this and there is a smartphone app so you never have to be far from your data.  You can even challenge friends on FitBit or other apps that use FitBit such as Earndit.

imageSo what makes it even more superior? The customer service.  I had a recent problem with my FitBit One and contacted customer support, within hours someone contacted me via email and handled correcting my issues – well beyond my expectations.  FitBit now has several options available for tracking your health progress including the FitBit Flex which is a wristband.

The only component missing from their software is a recipe builder, but not to worry, I found one online http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

I entered the information for my Vegan Blueberry Muffin Mix and was able to get a calorie count and breakdown.

You can get a full rating of your recipe including the Good and Bad Points.  My muffin recipe yielded 14 muffins, but you can adjust the serving size too to know how much you are eating with each bite!

Why did I decide today was the day for Blueberry Muffins? I hate drinking plain water and flavored waters are too expensive so I have started to make my own.

Yesterday I boiled a pot of water with 1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s dried blueberries.  Once cooled I strained the water and put it in the fridge, but I hated to waste the blueberries so I decided to make muffins.

Emily’s Vegan Blueberry Muffin Recipe

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup cane turbinado sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/4 cup soymilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

All of these ingredients were purchased at Trader Joe’s, it is one of my most favorite grocery spots and quite inexpensive. I plopped all ingredients into my mixer except the blueberries, mixed on low then folded the blueberries into the mix.  I lightly greased muffin tins with Earth Balance because I was out of cupcake liners. Baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (times may vary) until golden brown.

I do like to sprinkle a little sugar on the muffins before baking – the crusty sugar makes a muffin worth eating – otherwise I’d have a cupcake!

I did not receive any compensation for this post and am in no way affiliated with the companies mentioned at the time of this post. All opinions are my own.

The Vegan Athlete Its Not a Myth You Can Do It



I was contacted to review this book, I received no compensation and opinions expressed are given freely and are my own.

I have been a vegan for over 25 years now and I am a fitness professional, but I am still far from a Vegan Athlete.  What I appreciated most about this book was that if I had a dozen copies I would simply shove them in the hands of each and every person who ever asked me a stupid question such as these:

“Don’t you feel guilty that your kids will never get to try McNuggets??”

“How can you possibly get enough protein?”

“Aren’t you tired all the time, I couldn’t give up meat because I would be tired all the time.”

But my favorite was the “You can’t be a vegan, you’re so fat.” That I received at a yoga teacher training.  To that statement I would have used this hand book to slap the offender across the face because honestly, the meal plan given in here would not have helped my case.  I appreciate the meal suggestions given but there are no portion sizes listed so I know mine would be FAR larger than what the author intended.  Chocolate covered banana slices for dessert sound delicious and very easy to make (I have been doing these and other dipped desserts for years) but if lunch is supposed to be a baked sweet potato with maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg – that’s all – you’ve lost my vegan vote.

Let me point out, the meals outline will have you in awesome shape, but right now I am still breastfeeding a toddler and infant (4 & 1) almost exclusively – meaning I provide the majority of their calories in addition to those needed for teaching fitness classes – this meal plan just isn’t right for me at the moment personally.

What about the rest of the book? Thank You! Thank you for taking the time to calmly write out answers to all of the questions vegans receive because after almost 3 decades I feel like a broken record and sometimes lose my patience when well meaning individuals question my eating choices. Succinctly and smartly answered questions that focus on the physical benefits of being a vegan.  Yes, I love animals. Yes, I care about animals. Yes, I wear leather at times.  I’m not perfect and I am not a vegan 100% because it is a political stance against animal cruelty.  To be honest I find PETA hypocritical since exploiting animals is heinous they should refrain from exploiting mammals such as women in their half nude ads, but I have digressed.  My point was that the authors approach this work not from the far left animal products are murder, but from the middle of the road that eating plant based is healthier.

I should receive some sort of award for reviewing Brett Stewart books, he is a co-author on this title with Ben Greene and as with all of his books I was very pleased with the exercise section.  No, I still can’t do 50 Pullups but I probably could if I stuck with his program.  The man knows how to get results, he provides clear and concise, simple exercises that I do with my clients as a personal trainer and gives the reader great reference photos.

“The Vegan Athlete,” a fitness guide combining dietary know-how with a full body workout program that will build muscle and maximize energy is perfect for someone transitioning into veganism, as well as vegans who want to integrate a fitness program into their lives, as it covers the benefits of plant-based diet, nutritional needs (i.e. amino acids, vitamins), strength-building workouts, and two dozen protein-packed recipes.
“The Vegan Athlete” will help you nourish your body from head to toe with good food and exercise and ends with a wonderful reference section to find more vegan support.

If you are trying to get yourself or your family healthier this summer, this is a great place to start!

Kid Friendly Chocolate Covered Bananas

  • banana
  • chocolate chips / bar
  • optional chopped nuts, crushed cookies
  • optional cake pop or popsicle stick

I own an electric chocolate melter so I dump a bag of vegan chips into, but you can use a double boiler (if you avoid the microwave), or melt in the microwave.

Make it fancy by inserting a stick lengthwise in the banana, then dip in chocolate, roll in optional topping. For finger food, dip sliced banana “circles” in chocolate.  Be sure to set aside on plastic wrap or wax paper and place in the fridge to set, otherwise the chocolate will stick to the plate and be hard to get up without breaking. On plastic or paper, it simply peels off.

Delicious Raw Kale Salad and a Dino Dress Recipes for Success

My attempts at eating healthy are not few and far between, but my financial stability and ability to purchase delicious premade foods sometimes are.  I know that making your own is less expensive, but is it always the most cost effective way to spend your time? And is it mentally healthy.

I am enamored with a certain line of little girls’ clothing that I see when we are out and about, the oversized tag is a beacon for my eye to take a gander at what the trendiest of little girls and their mommies are wearing.  Sadly the dresses start at $50 and more than ever I realize that spending that much on an outfit for an 18 month old is like using $20 bills to craft a bib.

izzMy ever supportive husband followed me to the fabric store, I could hear him chuckling as I looked at patterns, probably recalling the time I attempted to make myself a shirt and it was so small I gave it to a friend’s little girl for her doll. I was undaunted though, and after 20 minutes figured out the pattern books, a quick pop to the cabinets to retrieve my tissue paper tormentors and then I trotted off to the fabric, the most fun part for me.  I love colors and creating pairings.  By the time my husband had chased my daughter around the store once I had enough fabrics to make clothes for an army of baby girls.  My husband suggested I pair it down to fabric for three outfits and then come back for more – he is so wise sometimes.

I found a great McCalls pattern, listed as Easy – which means if you know what you are doing you can knock this dress out in an hour and it will look super. If  you are me, it means you will curse at the pattern, YouTube videos that add no clarity to the issue, break a few needles, and lock up the machine at least twice before producing a product that has no lining (that saved some of my sanity), is a little “off” and once on can’t be removed from your child.

As I gently shoved the last of my daughter’s arms into my masterpiece my husband questioned “How much would you charge for this on Etsy?” My answer “$300 would cover the time and frustration but no-one wants to buy that.” Granted this did come out slightly better than my first ever sewing attempt, but I don’t think I will start my second career as a seamstress anytime soon.  I still can’t afford to purchase Etsy inspirations of my favorite line, so maybe I need to find a sewing guru who needs a yoga guru and trade services.  I definitely have all of the fabric – my eyes were wider than my knowledge of sewing at the fabric store yesterday.

Picking your battles is definitely a skill that parents learn and so I waged war on another financial drain, my love for delicious prepared food.  I do all of my main shopping these days at Caputo’s, with the exception of gluten-free (cheaper at Meijer), bananas/dried fruit/hummus/guacamole/ (better and cheaper at Trade Joes), they are the cheapest grocery store.  Our last trip full of fresh fruits and vegetables, a cart of groceries, was $41.  There is of course one very expensive market I can’t keep away from when I want something delicious and fast.  My favorite in the prepared food department was a raw kale salad that I came to depend on during pregnancy to raise my iron. At $7.99 per lb it isn’t cheap so I set off to make my own.

I purchased one large bunch of kale at Caputo’s $1.49, olive oil ($7.99 for the whole jar), pine nuts (get these at TJ $7.99 for a HUGE bag), dried cranberries (sulfite free $3.99 TJ), a lemon ($.35), agave (I get mine at TJMaxx $3),DSC03655

  • 1 Bunch of Kale, washed and trimmed from stems
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cp water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 TBSP Agave
  • 1/4 cp Pine Nuts
  • 1/4 cp Dried Cranberries

Drain kale and place in air tight container. Whisk the lemon juice, water, oil and agave together.  Toss in pine nuts and cranberries. Drizzle dressing over kale, close lid and shake.  You can serve right away but I like to let it sit in the fridge, and after 2 hours, flip the container on its lid to make sure the top of the salad gets saturated, otherwise you wind up with the delicious bits on the bottom and the kale on the top is a little rough and bitter.

This creation, unlike the dress, is as good as the original. Not only is it simple, its cost effective and left me feeling accomplished.  I know I can make this salad or any other salad.  With the dress I am not so sure, but I will keep trying until I stumble upon success.

Hula Hoops, Wrestling, and Vegan No Fat No Sugar Cookies Recipe

As chaotic as this post title sounds, it is a true representation of the chaotic life I sometimes find myself swirling in. As my husband posted on FB tonight, “It’s almost midnight so that can only mean one thing – hula hoop party!” Our after dinner dance party was co-opted by hula hooping when E asked me to get out my mini hoops for him.  I grabbed the whole stack from the garage and we hooped for 20 minutes or so before frustration set in for the under five foot crowd. Hooping is hard work. You can purchase hoops for as little as $1 at dollar stores but I don’t recommend them for adult use as they are too small and light. I make my own hoops and if someone like me can do it, you can too.  I wrap them, but I am not a patient person so they are not perfect.

Hula Hoop How To:

  • PVC Ratchet Cutter $15hoops
  • Irrigation Tubing 100 ft roll $11 (makes 10 hoops)
  • Insert connectors (50 cents)
  • Hair Dryer or Heat Gun
  • Electrical Tape


TEKTON 6466 PVC Pipe CutterProduct Details

I cut the Insert Connectors in half that way I get two for one.

I cut my tubing so that my hoop will be at underarm height, I learned this was how to size a hoop during a hoop workshop in Chicago. I use the hair dryer to heat the ends and insert the connector making a basic hoop. Then I tape my hoop.

For the best instructions on the web with photos visit: http://www.jasonunbound.com/hoops.html

DSC03385Next on the night’s agenda was wrestling. I know that tumbling mats can be pricey and I had been eyeing them for years. Can you imagine my surprise when on a random trip to Goodwill I found one for $6.99? We happen to live in an affluent town where gymnastics is popular and many people purchase professional mats and beams so I’m always on the look out for outgrown treasures. If you are frugal like myself there is nothing better than springtime garage sales and winter time thrift stores to find some wonderful family friendly fitness equipment. The other mat you see is my Thai Bodywork mat, when it isn’t being used the kids like to sit on it to watch each other wrestle.

The night quickly became a workout for the whole family as the kids ran around the front room (it is empty because I use it as a studio space) and through the house trying to sneak up on each other and daddy. Stealth is lost on my four year old who eagerly and loudly chants “this way, this way, get him mommy” as we try to creep up and tackle my husband.DSC03397

Even my youngest gets involved when her brothers bring out the championship belts to wrestle – the ultimate prize for the wee wrestlers.  This type of imaginative and active play goes on at our house all of the time. We are careful to mention to our kids that this is “house play” and this type of play is not for outside of the home.  We have never in 11 years of parenting ever had a problem with our kids crossing the line while playing outside of our home – though I admit the first 9 years we were homeschoolers.


All this activity makes little guys and gals thirsty (so water was on hand) and a bit peckish.  Mommy to the rescue.  I whipped up some Whole Grain Omega Cookies with no added sugar or fat. Before you tut in disbelief that anything with that name could be good take a look at the recipe and the photos.




Whole Grain Omega Chip Cookies – no added fat/sugarDSC03399

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

*mixed in a bowl

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup flax flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*Sift and slowly mix into wet ingredients.

  • 1/4-1/3 cp oats (added to until the dough drys up a little)
  • 2/3 cp or more of dark chocolate chips (who am I to say how much chocolate is enough for you!)

*Mix the rest of the ingredients together.

Preheat oven to 350. I take a TBSP and scoop dough balls onto nonstick air bake pans. If you like to use spray or grease the pans – go for it. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden – these are soft chewy cookies.

The Most Restrictive Vegans in the World – My Children

By all measures I am a lazy parent.  I have no idea how to set up and maintain a schedule and I honestly wouldn’t even want one.  Who in their right mind wants to be forced into a frenzy to get home in time for the kids’ noon nap? Children are always developing and forcing a ridged nap time on them is not something I ever was interested in doing.  That is not to say that my children don’t or never napped.

My oldest son would nap twice a day until he was a year old, then slowly he started once a day until a year and a half when he no longer napped. My middle child never slept at all.  This is not an exaggeration, he literally would stay up all day and night unless my husband held him and even then he barely slept.  By 1.5 he was diagnosed with epilepsy and his AEDs finally afforded him rest – they slowed his brain down enough to sleep I guess. He naps at school everyday at 2 pm for an hour or so.

My youngest daughter does nap about once a day somewhere between 11am- 1pm depending on when she woke up and how much excitement she is experiencing.  And that, dear readers, is the point to me.  If you provide your children with enough stimulation they will need to nap and will go to bed at a reasonable time, their minds and bodies need time to process all of the information they have taken in.

Now enter meal times.  We are a grazing family.  I keep cut up fruit in class containers, bananas and oranges on the counter and other healthy foods at hand. We don’t have soda in the house and have limited 100% juices.  I have a cheap wooden mug rack on the counter so even my 4 year old can grab himself a cup when he wants a sip of water. During the school year my husband and I attempt to prepare breakfasts – whole grain pancakes with agave, whole grain cereal – but sometimes the boys just aren’t hungry after waking.  Their school, Joliet Montessori, does allow them to snack when needed which is a policy I greatly appreciate.  I want my children to develop a healthy relationship with eating and learn to listen to their bodies for hunger and satiation cues.IMG_0973

I came from a family of big eaters like many of my friends from Jewish (and what I hear Italian) families.  Food is equated directly to love, comfort and caring.  The bigger the meal, the more you care.  The more you nag about eating, the more you care. You get the picture.  Needless to say I was an overweight child and teen, I did deal with eating disorders and body image issues.  My goal as a parent has been to avoid that for my children so I rarely press them to eat and I never make them “clean their plates”.

My younger son still breastfeeds, if he could he would eat this way exclusively I believe, and although I am getting a little worn down by it I truly believe that nothing comes even close to breast milk for optimum nutrition. Breast milk contains stem cells and if there is even a fraction of a chance that this golden liquid can help repair any damage seizures have caused or keep him functioning optimally then so be it, we breastfeed. I do however want to make sure that all of my children eat a diverse range of food.

In the past I have recounted how my older son went on pancake benders – times when all he would eat where pancakes.  We added vitamin and protein powders to them, and still do to this day. My younger son takes his cues from his older brother, and my daughter – she just eats anything.  This makes my goal getting the oldest to eat. He has become what we refer to as “the most restrictive vegan” in the world.  He will only eat pasta plain, with a little salt. If he eats tofu – it has to be cold with a little bit of salt.  Rice – has to be white with a little salt. He does eat wheat pasta and wheat bread but will only eat soynut butter (my husband has a peanut allergy and as a youngster my son convinced himself he had the same allergy refusing to eat other nut butters). What he does enjoy is cooking and when in a good mood (he’s a tween and a little angsty) will help me with new creations which I find he is more receptive to eating.  His favorite creations are recipes from Gino D’campo that we convert to vegan friendly.

This afternoon we all woke up very late, since school is on break our “schedule” is even looser. I decided to make brunch.

Green Brunch Noodles

  • avocado oil
  • wheat soba noodles
  • 1 package firm tofu – lightly mashed
  • 1 large Zucchini diced
  • 1 large yellow pepper diced
  • medium bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1 lb bag spinach
  • Arizona dreaming spice mix from Penzey’s

I sautéed the tofu, added the veggies and sprinkled with seasoning, once the veggies started cooking and there was some juice I added the noodles. I purchase the Annie Chung pouch noodles which are precooked and only need a few minutes to loosen up.

I also served a large mixed greens, broccoli sprout, orange pepper, radish and carrot salad and a bowl of chopped cantaloupe and pineapple.

Needless to say the older son refused to eat almost anything and claimed to feel ill after finding out the “Carrot” he thought he was eating was actually an orange pepper. That translated into the younger son refusing to eat – all of this while my daughter sat happily on my lap, sucking up soba noodles from my plate.  Children are definitely a trip. I hope we fare better at dinner tonight.

Forget the Sheep and Get Some Vegan Shepard’s Pie

I haven’t made this in a while because they have discontinued carrying Barbara’s Kitchen Instant Mashed Potatoes at Whole Foods, so now I will have to take the extra time to make the mashed potato topping by hand. Not as daunting as a task for me since I started using my electric beaters to whip the potatoes smooth.

With only 230 calories per cup of cooked lentils, they are little power houses, loaded with B vitamins, protein, fiber and iron with little fat.  Add in some other iron and vitamin rich vegetables and you have some nutritious comfort food for the eating. Go with a skin on mashed potato topping and add phytonutrients in addition to  vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and fiber to your meal.

Here’s what I like to use:

  • Lentils
  • onions
  • carrots
  • spinach
  • potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • garlic
  • thyme, sage, rosemary
  • vegan omega spread.

But you can add whatever you like – every once and a while I change it up and try new veggies – broccoli didn’t work so well, its too tough.

It’s pretty simple to make, you can use 2 cans of canned lentils if you like, otherwise, use 2 cups of dry lentils.  For every 1 cup of dry lentils use 2 cups of water, bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender.  I like to substitute vegetarian broth for the water, that way there is a richer taste.

If you are using real potatoes now is a good time to get them boiling, I like skins on for the additional nutrients, wash/scrub and cut them in chunks.  Boil about 20 minutes or until soft. Then drain and mash, I throw in some vegan spread, sometimes a little bit of Silk soy milk to make them creamy, and salt / pepper to taste. I have begun to just use the electric hand mixer to whip them into a soft potato goodness!

Next, I sauté onions (1 cup because I love onions- I use the sweet onions), carrots (about 1 cup chopped), garlic (at least 4 cloves because I love garlic too and it is heart healthy), herbs (about 1 tsp of each), a little salt and pepper to taste in a minimum of olive oil, just enough to cover the pan and onions.  I sauté until the onions are translucent and then add about a bag of spinach (since it wilts down quite a bit and I like to get the extra iron).  At this point you can also add in other veggies you may want to experiment with (such as tomatoes, mushrooms, peas – anything that is soft)- and cook only an additional 5 minutes.  When the lentils are fluffy I add them to the sauté mixture and mix in, cooking another 5 minutes.

At this point you poor the mixture into a glass / metal baking pan,  then spread the mashed potatoes on top.  You can store this for baking in the fridge if need be, or pop it right into the oven, 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes should give you a nice golden brown crust on top though baking times vary.

There are some great vegan gravies on the market if you want to top your Shepard’s Pie off, I like mine plain personally. If you are not sure about where to get gravy or don’t have a place to go to get it, try Pangea online for all of your vegan shopping.

This recipe is my own, please cite my blog Family Can B Fit, I receive no compensation from the website mentioned I simply shop there for hard to find ingredients.