Tag Archive | Vegan

Emily Can B Fit: Deed Develops into Habit

Last night was a rough one: between my children being waking sick and myself being blue about the journey ahead of me to get back to where I once was, I couldn’t sleep. My partner arrived home early from his nightshift and immediately set about building me a fort-nest.
The fort-nest is my way to find peace and sanctuary when a hug isn’t enough. It takes the kitchen table, several blankets (with a chair atop the whole mess for support) and every available pillow to construct – which my husband did without being asked. Crawling inside fort-nest is like crawling back into the womb. There is something quiet and calming, even within my own noisy city apartment. Of course, it is not a complete fortress of solitude and soon my peaceful retreat was pierced by the meek noises of an ill three year old, but I find fort-nest is made better by nursing, the release of oxytocin helps magnify the calming effect.
After three hours of sleep I was awoken by my another child who preferred I walk him to camp, a regular feeling of his and actually a blessing in disguise. His personal desire for my presence on the morning walk forces me to get up for a morning walk (this could be made more manageable if the other ones let me sleep – this morning he shouted “wake up mom!” while we were crossing the street, I can’t be sure that I wasn’t dozing while walking).  Deeds become habits and the same thing kept me feeling healthy while I was completing my M.ed, I walked two and a half miles to and from campus daily in the sweltering Baltimore heat.

Blue Lotus Chai

Blue Lotus Chai

Arriving home I decided to make my Super Quick Vegan Dal for breakfast and eat half of a gluten-free ginger coconut muffin. I am trying to eat fitter by eating half of what I normally do, with the knowledge that if I want more I can have.  After years of battling eating disorders I have found that my sense of satiation as well as hunger is not reliable. Half a muffin was actually enough and I finished it all off with my new favorite local made, chai tea – it’s good plain (which is what is healthiest) but it is fantastic with rock sugar and vanilla flax milk.

Next were basic chores around the apartment and making salt dough for the little tyke.  This is the children’s favorite and keeps them creatively occupied for hours.  I even took a nap.  Awaking feeling…well, rested somewhat, I made a Super Quick Vegan Mock Ham Salad and scooped it atop two pieces of my favorite local gluten-free bread, open faced. Open-faced is my trick for eating slower and visually being more full – it looks like more sandwich.

The day started to wind down as we headed to pick E up from camp and drop the little one off for a gym class. Another great chance to walk with the family.  I love living in Portland, everything is easily accessible via walking or biking – it was one of the reasons I moved here and I am finally taking advantage of this.

My nightcap? A 7 pm yoga class only 700 feet from my front door at the local health club. Looks like my fitness is on the right track!


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.

Quick Vegan Recipe: Vegan Mock Ham Salad

Vegan Mock Ham Salad

Vegan Mock Ham Salad

I call this one Mock Ham because of the pinkish tinge created by the red bell peppers and purple carrot.

It can be difficult and down right sad to be a vegan at lunchtime, there are few vegan delicatessens to frequent when you need to nosh. My mock salads have become a staple in my eating and really are versatile and quick.
I own a Ninja food processor and have no idea how to use half of the attachments, but I love the food processor part.

As always most of my ingredients come from Trader Joe’s and are organic, a few come from Whole Foods.



  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  •  1/2 red bell pepper sliced
  •  1 purple carrot cut in rounds
  •  2 tablespoons of “vegan” mayo (or you can use silken tofu)
  • 1/3 cup of natural pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon of Penzey’s Sweet Curry (or dijon mustard)

Here’s the quick and simple – chuck it all in the food processor and pulse a few times until it reaches a chunky but creamy consistency. Be careful, over processing results in a hummus like spread which is also good as a dip! I slather this on bread with tomato and spinach, or place a top some power greens for a salad (sometimes I lightly dress the greens with balsamic vinaigrette).

Makes 3 servings. This comes in at approximately 150 calories per serving.

Vegan Quick Recipe: Red Lentil Dal

Red Lentil Dal

Red Lentil Dal

With three kids and three adults to organize life around and prepare meals for they have to be quick to prep if I want to eat.

I purchase all of my organic produce, etc. at Trader Joe’s, but anywhere you like to shop will do!

1. Dried red lentils (1/4 cup)
2. 1/2 cup water
3. 1 tablespoon (more or less for your taste) of Penzey’s Sweet Curry Powder
4.pinch of salt (to taste)

I combine the first 4 in a saucepan, cover and heat on high until boiling, then simmer. Within 7 -10 minutes the lentils are ready for part two, the water is almost completely absorbed.

5. one purple carrot sliced in rounds
6. one half of a red pepper diced
7. 1/4 cup water

I added the rest of the ingredients into the pan and cook until all liquid is absorbed and the lentils are really soft. Serve immediately, or refrigerate – you can even eat them cold.

Makes: 1 serving of lentils at approximately 130 calories.

Singing Your Way Through Stress a New Parenting Tip

Puppet Show

Puppet Show

Today was the same as most days, I started off with lofty goals of no yelling, compliance with requests and at least one nap.  There were no total screaming moments on my part, but I couldn’t control what the kids did with their volume.  On a more worrying note my younger son, due to stress I believe, has begun to make sucking noises after he speaks.  The type of noise that comes from pressing the tip of the tongue to the soft palette and then sucking in breath, to punctuate his words.  Everyone in the family is growing weary of this action and its loud sound.  His other new tick is chewing on things; Legos, sheets, collar of his shirt – basically anything a five year old can stick in his mouth that may have germs on it.  These two habits join his already disturbing habit of rolling and chewing on his tongue which all add to my stress because they are signals of his stress. As my husband reminded me tonight on the phone, last time we made this awkward trip he started picking up odd idiosyncrasies, and they diminished once my husband was with us. My main concern is that with epilepsy these types of temporary self-stimulating stress relief techniques can become permanently wired pathways and truly long term habits.  This puts stress levels on high for me in a new way, a parent never wants to permanently mar their child in any way.

Our day proceeded on packed with driving and fun – and because this is a typed format I can’t tell if I mean that sarcastically. I know the first part of the day was not fun as I dealt with a teenager who is a really great guy who makes some poor choices at times.  For example, I asked him to accompany us down the elevator since I was pushing two strollers by myself and holding two cups of tea.  He instead went his own way then watched from inside the mall window as his sister spilled her tea on herself, I had to remove her from her stroller and make sure the other stroller wasn’t in the street – before getting in the elevator without us.  I thought of a way to handle this without much yelling and decided on a discussion of natural consequences that went down like so, “A natural consequence of not wanting to be a part of our family and help out means that you are on your own, so I guess you need to find a way to pay for your private lesson.” That didn’t go over well and  a more heated discussion of what had transpired ensued. The little ones and I went for a stroll before I watched his morning lesson. While I watched our skater the little ones watched Super Why next to me.  This is one of a few times when they really do share and act calm with each other, they take turns holding the phone, making sure the other one can see the screen and co-operatively determine which episode to watch – yes I know it is TV but a psychologist recently told me that the current TV viewing guidelines are unrealistic and must have been set by 60 year old psychologists who still believe in Freud and don’t have children (his words, seriously).  That being said, I do limit my children’s screen time as much as I can while preserving my sanity and I have found that less flashing shows (such as Super Why) don’t stimulate them in the same negative way as brightly, garish shows.  The best shows are realistic shows such as Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen.  The main concern with screen time of any type is my younger son.  He really loses all self-regulating capability when given screen time outside of these parameters. I digress, on to the rest of our day…

Shuttle Bus to the Museum Campus

Shuttle Bus to the Museum Campus

After the ice rink drop off the younger kids and I headed off to the Portland Children’s Museum again.  This time we split our time between the indoor grocery area and the outdoor adventure area.  My thesis paper for my

Outdoor Adventure

Outdoor Adventure

Montessori certification delved into the levels of parental engagement and developmental purposes of different play areas, including an observational study of play areas at the Children’s Museum – my findings were that realistic play areas create better engagement and have more developmental purpose / positive interaction outcomes so I always try to get them to at least one of these areas per visit.  Of course, I should temper that motivation with knowledge of whether or not we have extra clothing.  Suffice it to say, it was a soggy and oddly dressed ride back to the car on the shuttle with both of my kids wearing oversized, recently purchased museum t-shirts.  Getting them away from the Outdoor Adventure took a great deal of parenting wit to accomplish without screaming “Let’s go” so instead I relied on singing.  I sang a song about me leaving and sure enough they moved along – I was like the parenting piped piper.  I used it all the way to the shuttle to avoid having to carry anyone. To the tune of the “Ants Go Marching” I sang “my kids go marching” and they actually marched in line to the shuttle to the bemused smiles of other parents. Win for me!

Play it Forward Piano at the Entrance

Play it Forward Piano at the Entrance

We piled into our rental car super soggy and super sleepy -viola! one goal met, both children took a nap.  They were completely exhausted and we headed back to the rink to pick up our skater.  From the rink it was a short trip back to the hotel to jump in the pool; because sure enough those naps were short lived. I can still feel the effects of our pool visit – three kids hanging on me, jumping on me and requesting to be thrown into the air has taken its toll on my back and provided me with a really strenuous water resistance workout – I may never hit the fitness center here and I am okay with that.  Our pool jaunt reaffirmed my

Plumb Tuckered Out

Plumb Tuckered Out

belief that loud areas are not conducive to small children following instructions.  I think that the cacophony of the filters, the hot tub and the echo in the pool enclosure is way too over stimulating and of course this results in a failure to comply with requests which in turn escalates the requests in my world.  My younger son decided to throw a pool towel into the pool, the older one threw it back, this went on for five minutes during which time I used positive phrasing “pool towels are for drying ourselves, you may put the towel away” etc.  None of these worked, I yelled – and I kicked them out of the pool – again it started with a calm request “you may sit on a chair” and then after my requests went unanswered I yelled for them to get out of the pool. If you are keeping track I have a pitiful winning streak by this point in the day but ever a glutton for punishment (or feeling my own inadequacies as a parent) I proffered up a trip to Washington Square Mall to visit the puppies and the Lego store.  

The pet place, Hannah, always gives me a weird vibe having participated for many years in pet rescue and having worked as a vet tech.  They claim to be a pet society of some sort and set you up on a monthly payment plan, of more than $100,

Soft Play Area

Soft Play Area

for the lifetime of your pet which includes vet and food; however as our visits have been frequent, I get the distinct feeling it is nothing more than a dressed up pet shop and far less than a pet rescue.  They always have puppies and really hard sell – which is not what rescues normally do.  Not to mention today Michael F asked “are you looking to adopt a pet” while holding a tiny bundle my daughter wanted to pet – and before my no stopped resounding he had haughtily walked off to a corner of the “store” for no other reason than to make a point that pets were for petting by people who were interested in this scam. We left without a new pet, thankfully, because we are not ready for one which is sadly a thought I had for many of the people who were easily gaining quick access to “adoption”.

Angry,Contemplative? Who knows.

Angry,Contemplative? Who knows.

Never chagrined by others, my daughter gayly ran off to the soft play area for a bit. I didn’t fare much better at the next stop. The Lego store didn’t involve any yelling but it did involve a return before we left the store and a discussion with my older one who dropped a pouty face several times.  I’d like to say that I don’t understand him some days, but its more like every other hour I call into question my understanding of the world and human behavior, as well as facial cues. Being the parent of a teenager is pretty stressful at times which is why I am sure Montessori suggested Erdkinder and the idea that teens should live on the land away from family learning life skills.

Veggie Grill and Lego Building

Veggie Grill and Lego Building

The mall is just down the road from Veggie Grill, a place I know all of the kids will eat something and I can order off of their garlic-free menu with ease. Last time we were in I was sure to grab their app which allows you to snap photos of your receipt and earn points.  So far we received a free appetizer for signing up and have 300 points good for a soup or dessert – I’m accruing them for a free entree.  As usual the kids ate “wings” and mac n cheese.  I dined on the All Hail Kale, mashed cauli-potatoes and gave the new street corn a try – it was great.  Everyone finished their meals and we decided to walk over to New Seasons to pick up detergent for hotel laundry night. If you have every been to Meijer you know how easy it is to get sucked into general merchandise purchasing, or even little bits of things you don’t really want or need – well New Seasons takes this to a whole new level because everything looks adorable, handcrafted and high-end decorative.  That we have not left with tiny gurgling fish pitcher shot glasses on our last four trips is completely a feat of ultimate will power – everyone in our family wants one.  We walked back to the car singing once again a song about how everyone was walking – this is a favorite of my youngest, she adores any song about what she is doing. 

In retrospect my day was a huge win.  There were dozens, maybe hundreds of other interactions with my children when I was able to keep my cool during bouts of crying, screaming, stomping or all three.   



The Vegan UnVacation with @VeggieGrill and @MMASpdx

Welcome back dear readers! I have now been in Portland, OR since we touched down on July 3, 2013.  I did the first two weeks alone with three kids and a rental car at the Courtyard Marriott in Beaverton, OR.  The train that ran right by our window and the sprinklers that went off at 3 am did not help our situation which was one tired mom and three kids in a queen room. To say that our hotel stay was a vacation would be a lie.  I saw plenty of families enjoying their “weekend” vacation, we met them in the small indoor pool (I would like to add that their hot tub was permanently out of commission) throughout the two weeks and they were all blissfully away from their homes.  Maybe my problem was I no longer had a home to go home to?

The staff was very friendly but the location was more appropriate for business travelers, there was no continental breakfast and instead an upscale bar area; however, we were only 10 minutes from Washington Park, the Zoo and the Children’s Museum.  We also found some great local places such as My Masterpiece Art Studio.  Alex took a 4 day three hour summer camp on comic book illustrating for $185 and we did some drop in studio with the Sampler Pack (3 pieces of paper and a lump of clay) which may not sound like much but it was able to keep 3 kids busy for 1.5 hours at a price tag of $18. Although I am sure most parents will love the fact that MMAS does not require the children to clean anything up, I still tried to force my kids to wash their brushes and clean their stations.  For moms and dads looking for a great activity that will nurture brain development, hand eye coordination and art appreciation this place has it all.  They also do birthday parties. We witnessed one during one of our trips to the studio and the kids were having a blast!

Regularly we ate at Veggie Grill because it was 2 miles away.  We ran into it by accident looking for a local grocery store chain.  When the grocer didn’t have the treats we wanted we drove through the parking lot and found the recently opened location.  Veggie Grill is a faster food restaurant similar to Native Foods but less greasy and less expensive for the kids meals.  The serving sizes are also larger for the kids meals. Full size portions are equal to, sometimes slightly smaller than Native Foods, but the big plus factor is consistency. I have eaten there more than a dozen times and it is the same quality each time, I could never say that for Native Foods which sometimes tastes as if it is a different recipe and other times is inconsistent in content (more or less seitan, etc).

My gluten and garlic sensitivity shifted into full swing when I was face to face with all the delicious options.  By day four when I could barely stand up straight I decided to ask what options there were that were garlic free, lo and behold (gluten free is readily marked) they also have a garlic free menu!! I have been rocking out with the All Hail Kale salad, I love the tangy mango dressing and their tempeh is pretty good as an addition, the cauliflower mashed potatoes and the Bean Me Up Chili. My kids love the “chikin’” fingers and that is saying a lot.  As Alex told their manager, “They have great texture” and come with a side, dessert and a drink for under $6 (other kids’ items available).

What Veggie Grill does lack is diversity in its menu – there are a lot of “chickin” items and sparse dessert options.  The BIGGEST disappoinment was in their downtown Portland location.  We ordered the “Grilled Cookie” dessert “handcrafted chocolate chip cookie, griddled and topped with chocolate pudding, VG Crema and chocolate sauce” notice that nowhere in there was mentioned nuts.  But YES, this is a chocolate chip nut cookie.  When I brought this to their manager’s attention (since DH is allergic to ingesting nuts) she haughtily asked if we had mentioned a nut allergy. No, we didn’t because nuts were not mentioned on the menu. She refused to refund the item so we left it uneaten.

Now, the Beaverton Veggie Grill is a different story.  I FORGOT, yes me – my fault – to say no gravy on the mashed potatoes, it came to the table with gravy and I know the manager overheard me mention my stupidity in forgetting this fact to my husband and my request that he eat the potatoes so they not go to waste – not two seconds later a second cup of potatoes arrived gravy free – now that is how you handle customer service and why I drive the extra 10 miles out of Portland to eat at this Veggie Grill. Plus the manager looks like Owen from Drop Dead Diva and I have a thing for celebrity spotting even if they are look a likes.

Natural Summer Products to Keep You Looking and Feeling Super

I received samples of products in order to complete this review.  I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are given freely and my own.

Summer finally rolled into our area and with it the need to keep hydrated both internally and externally – we all want to be comfortable in our skin. Don’t you want to look, feel and smell your very best? Check out some of the great new finds for summer.

Comfort starts with how we feel about ourselves and our bodies.  In the last year I have undergone a lot of changes to health and found that I can not eat all of the things I used to love: including wheat, garlic and onions.  When I do my stomach and intestines lead a revolt against me that has me curled in a fetal position and lacking sleep.  That’s when I grab for juices or cleanses.  I am not a fan of juicing – it leaves you with no fiber and lots of sugar, and I don’t believe that the population needs to cleanse but when my intestines are freaking out I like to go with something very basic with one or two ingredients that I know I can eat and get nutrients from without any of the inflammation.

Enter Kaeng Raeng 

Unlike other cleanses, you can eat as many raw fruits and vegetables you’d like over the course of the detox, and you don’t have to change your exercise image routine.  Created by certified personal trainer Lindsay Reinsmith, Kaeng Raeng means “be healthy, be strong” in Thai. Each Kaeng Raeng pouch is a full meal replacement and contains more than a full serving of fruit and fiber, 15g of lean non-GMO protein, probiotics, essential amino acids and vitamins, so you can detox without depriving yourself of important nutrients—or of flavor.

Kaeng Raeng is vegan, gluten-free, caffeine-free, eco-friendly, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, laxatives or stimulants. Celebs such as Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Silverstone and Lauren Conrad are all fans. I followed the mixing instructions and even added a little extra water but there was an overall too earthy taste for me with the flavors not shining through enough.  I also wound up with a paste in the bottom of each water bottle I used – it was nasty – like mushy flaxseeds.  Other than the taste and texture at the bottom, it was quite filling and not unbearable. Again, I used it when I needed to eat “clean” for me – with a guarantee of nothing new to over stimulate my system, I don’t recommend using cleanses to lose weight or stay healthy – those goals should be achieved through moderation and a healthy lifestyle.

Along with IBS can come dehydration, especially in the summer.  My younger son also has epilepsy and as part of his treatment we need to be sure he does not overheat or become dehydrated, that is where SOS+ steps in. In a nutshell SOS is a “drinkable IV,” the only drink to use the World Health Organization’s oral rehydration solution standard to provide the right balance of electrolytes and sugars for optimum hydration. It comes in single serving packets that are simply added to water, creating a drink with mild lemon flavor.

The Science Behind SOS

image SOS is a complex, specially formulated blend of sugar, sodium, potassium, citrate and magnesium. When fluid arrives at the first portion of the small bowel SOS activates the body’s sodium/glucose co-transport system when one molecule of sodium is pulled from the small intestine into blood vessels by one molecule of glucose. Due to osmotic forces, water is absorbed because it follows sodium.

Many sports drinks attempt to hydrate and fuel, but higher sugar levels often leads to GI distress. Sugar increases osmolality (the measure of solute concentration), and instead of pushing water into the blood vessels, it pulls it into the gut, causing bloating or even diarrhea.  For this reason SOS has only 25 calories per serving and a low osmolality of 230 Osm/L to more effectively transport water into the body.

SOS does have a very mild lemon flavor, it can be hard to get children to drink because it is quite salty tasting.  I could not trick mine to believe it was lemonade, but when they were thirsty after running around they definitely enjoyed sipping this, especially handy to keep around during flu season to keep everyone hydrated.  It is of course great for athletes and to use before, during and after exercise to keep yourself hydrated.

After Workouts Stay Sexy

image With the weather warming up, people flock to the gym to get that beach body that’s been hiding all winter long. Rocking a summer body is in this summer, but those intense workouts can have you sporting a not-so clear complexion. The combination of warm weather and sweat can make skin even more breakout prone, which is not on any summer check list.
M3K’s Bare Face & Fabulous Face Wash/Toner and Make-up remover is a must have for summer facial routines. Bare Faced & Fabulous face wash is packed with wonderful supernatural ingredients such as Goji Berry, Acacia Berry, Aloe Vera, Grape Seed Extract, Peppermint Oil, Ginko Biloba Leaf and much more. This three-in-one foaming cleanser comes in a convenient no spill pump and is ideal addition to anyone’s gym bag.

I have been giving this a try over the last week and was instantaneously a fan of the pump and foam.  I hate leaving facial bars in the shower to get mushy or attract errant facial hair from the hubs shaving. The first time I used this cleanser though I was disappointed by the smell, it was very medicinal and smelled much like over the counter acne products.  Then I took I shower with my kids in the bathroom, they touch everything and pulled my cleanser off of the tub ledge and it rolled to the floor – getting all shook up.  That did the trick.  With a shaken liquid the foam that comes out smells of peppermint and leaves your face feeling tingly and toned.  My skin has been looking brighter too.

Don’t Smell like a Workout

Would you ice an organic, low sugar cake with store bought tub frosting? No. Then why would you take such good care of yourself, eating, exercising and cleaning your body with the best products only to spritz on anything other than natural fragrances? Your scent should be as gentle on your body as the rest of your self care routine. Step into the smell of Pure Natural Diva. You can even test drive the smells with a sample set.  I received a sample set and immediately my inner diva slapped a little Diva on.  It was too cloyingly vanilla in its scent for me – but I’m not used to a pure vanilla botanical and may have slopped on instead of slapping on.

Natural was my favorite scent probably because of its notes of ylang ylang with hints of rose, along with the dilating scent of grapefruit.image

Elixir was a favorite of my children who used almost the entire vial – which could definitely be too much when first applied.  Before it evaporates it has the smell of household cleaner, but once on the scent lightens up into something unique and subtle, very familiar though I could not place the notes individually it reminds me of cooking smells – not quite the smells of baking like vanilla or cinnamon, but more like those of my favorite Indian restaurant – maybe jasmine?

I did not receive Pure but it is listed as sensually uplifting, like sunny day in a mixed field of lemongrass and Lavender. Notes include uplifting cassie, soothing chamomile, lemon, lime and an Egyptian neroli. I am a big fan of lemongrass so I may have to snag my own trio sample once we land in Portland so I can try it out.