Monday, February 27, 2012

Animal Free -Gluten Free Lunch Ideas

I have been asked this question a few times recently so I thought I would try and put a post together giving some ideas for a vegan/whole food/plant based kid lunch.  Our lunches are also gluten free, but if you aren't ditching gluten then you can just use whatever grain you would normally use!

* (I am not getting paid in anyway to speak of the wonderfulness of the Planet Box, I just really love it!) *

First of all, I really need to tell you about the amazing lunchboxes that I bought the kids.  It is from and the product is amazing.  It is this stainless steel lunch kit that comes with a lunch bag to carry it in.  There are compartments for all kinds of foods.  The kit also comes with to containers, one big one small, to hold food that might otherwise spill.  On the bag there is a spot to hold a water bottle and a pocket to hold extra "stuff", (that is where I put a fresh apple for the kids).  The inside also has a spot for a cold pack.  Really, with my one daughter never able to purchase hot lunch at school, (she has Celiac), having this lunch box allowed me to send her with an amazing meal for lunch!  Oh, I forgot to mention that using this product means ZERO waste!  No baggies, no foil, no wrapping at all!  I even stick in a cloth napkin so there is no napkin waste!!

So, now that I've told you what kind of lunch box I love, let me tell you some of the things that I pack the kids for their lunch. 
 (all items are organic and gluten free unless noted otherwise)
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwich 
  • un-tuna salad sandwich 
  • black beans and rice with baked tortilla chips and container of homemade salsa to dip
  • left over stir-fry with noodles and veggies
  • mac and (no) cheese  with broccoli 
  • shepherds pie 
  • leftover pasta with veggie and tomato ragu
  • gluten free waffle with nut butter and bananas
  • baked pumpkin black bean taquitos on corn tortilla
  • spinach, romaine and bean salad (kidney, black bean, garbanzo bean, etc)  w/cucumbers and a side container of salad dressing to dip
  • apple slices or whole apple
  • baby carrots
  • pickles
  • strawberry salad (strawberries w/blueberries and walnuts)
  • roasted leftover potatoes (white and sweet potatoes w/onions)
  • raisins w/sunflower seeds 
  • air popped pop corn
  • baked tortilla chips
  • Water is their drink of choice.  I send it in a stainless steel water bottle.
*The list could go on and on!  I try to squeeze in a main dish, (sandwich, leftovers, etc..) and then throw in as many fruits and veggies as possible. Two of my kids will eat raw nuts and seeds, so I also include those too. *

What are some of your favorite kid lunch ideas?

Un-Tuna Salad

I used to really enjoy a tuna salad sandwich, I'll be honest.  However, I never enjoyed the idea of consuming dangerous amounts of mercury!  When I stopped eating animal products I never thought I would enjoy something like tuna salad again.  Well, that all changed recently!

The Un-Tuna Salad Recipe!

15 oz garbanzo beans (look for this brand in a BPA free can)
1 pickle chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
2 tbs vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow mustard
sea salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.  Using a fork, mash the beans until they form a lumpy consistency.  Add the chopped pickle and red onion. Stir in the mayo and salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Serve on your favorite bread or on top of a bed of greens. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reinvented gluten free lasanga

     I don't know what it is like at your house, but dinner is one of the biggest questions of the day here.  I literally wake up thinking, "What am I going to make for dinner?". I take the responsibility of dinner pretty seriously since we have gluten free to deal with, and I want to make sure that each bite the kids take is as nutrient dense as possible, especially since it is harder to get veggies into them. 

     Some days I make something that the kids really like.  They have grown to love soup night which always includes a soup made from organic, whole food ingredients.  Black beans and brown rice is another frequently requested dinner.  I have been known to make a wicked kid friendly stir-fry too. However, there are also those nights when I totally bomb with dinner.  I made a tofu bake with veggies one night that absolutely no one, including myself, could eat.  Then there was a lentil loaf that I came up with that goes down in our family history as an EPIC failure.  I think we had peanut butter on toast that night.

     Success and failures combined, I am still amazed that my kids went along with this new way of eating. It is completely different and they had to say goodbye to all processed foods, the traditional staple of American kids!   I think honesty played a huge part in their acceptance and open minds.  They saw how sick their mother was and how it impacted the whole family.  When I told them that I truly believed eating this way would heal me and make me stronger, they were impacted. I used this same lesson to explain to them that eating plant foods would protect them and their father from future diseases too.  Children have a capacity to understand and analyze if you give them the chance!   This discussion then blossomed into the other reasons a plant based diet is so extraordinary. We talked about the impact eating local and vegan has on our world.  We were also honest about the inhumanity of eating other living things and how animals are treated so badly just so people can consume them.

So today I invented this recipe with my kids in mind.  I wanted them to sit down, after a long day at school,  and see, smell and enjoy a fabulous dinner.   I have wanted to make a gluten free lasagna for a while, but I knew it had to be carefully planned to account for the different tastes of my three kiddos.  So, here is what I came up with!  It looks cheesy and gooey BUT there it is TOTALLY vegan, no cheese here friends!

Two boxes gluten free no-bake lasagna noodles
1 medium onion chopped
3 medium organic potatoes peeled and grated
3 cups organic baby spinach
1/2 package gluten free/organic tempeh crumbled
28oz chopped tomatoes , I use Pompi (look for a BPA free brand like these)
water for cooking onions and potatoes 
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp garlic powder

Cheese Sauce
1 1/2 c organic rice milk (or other non dairy milk)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (make sure it is GLUTEN free)
2 tbs arrowroot starch (or corn starch)
2 tbs liquid aminos
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tbs lemon juice

For the lasagna filling:

In a pan, saute the onions and potatoes in water, stirring frequently and adding water when they stick to the pan.  Saute until the potatoes are tender.  Add the crumbled tempeh along with the spices and mix well.  Saute until the tempeh is well incorporated, adding water to prevent from sticking. Lastly, add the spinach to the pan and mix well.

For the cheese sauce:

Pour the milk into a sauce pan.  Heat the milk and whisk in the starch, yeast and remainder of ingredients.  WHISK very frequently until thickened.  Careful it doesn't come to a rapid boil and burn.

To construct the lasagna:

In a 9x13 pan spread some of the tomatoes on the bottom of the pan.  Put your first row of unbaked noodles down.  Spread a generous layer of the filling on top of the noodles.  Drizzle the cheese sauce over top of the potato/onion/tempeh filling.  Layer with more noodles and pour tomatoes over the noodles and add more filling and drizzle cheese sauce.  Continue with the layering.  (You won't use both boxes of noodles completely.  I had to open the second box for two more noodles, so you might use 1 box and only a few from the second box depending on which brand you purchase)  Top the lasagna with a layer of  filling and then generously pour the rest of the cheese sauce over top.  

Bake for 1 hour @ 350.

How did your transition from the SAD (standard American diet) to a plant based diet go?  What kinds of dinner conversations do you have about food?  Let me know if you make the lasagna and if your kiddos like it :)   Peace be with you!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Steph's Curry

This weekend I prepared a delicious dish that my sister-in-law makes.  I have to say that Stephanie, (my sister-in-law), has been one of my biggest inspirations on this new vegan journey of mine.  She is a fountain of knowledge and is always supportive and helpful.  Have you ever just sat back and realized how blessed you are to have certain people in your life?  I know am really grateful for the universe bringing her to my brother, which also brought her into our family !

Okay, so If you are in the mood for a creamy and spicy curry dish, this one is for you!

2 cans organic garbanzo beans
2 cans organic full fat coconut milk
1 package organic extra firm tofu (drained) and cubed
1 package frozen organic spinach (or you can use any vegetable you have on hand)
2 large organic potatoes diced
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic minced 
1 jar OR homemade mango chutney
1 jar curry paste (mild or spicy depending on what you like)
(here is a picture of the one I used)

In a large pan saute in 1/4 water: onion, garlic,tofu and 2 tsp curry paste.  Once sauteed, add the rest of the ingredients stirring frequently.  Taste the sauce and add more curry paste if you prefer it spicier. Simmer over a low burner until the sauce thickens and potatoes and beans soften.

Serve over rice with a spoonful of the mango chutney on top.

Choclate Charlies--Raw Vegan "Donut Holes"

In an attempt to serve a nutrition packed kid snack,  I scoured the world of food blogs and was inspired by many raw nutritional bar and snack recipes.  I would say that this recipe was my favorite and most inspirational.  Check out Brownie Fifteens, from an amazing blog called Healthful Pursuit

What I like about the recipes I found  is that it they contain  all raw ingredients and can be adapted to anything you have in your kitchen. Plus it contains a SUPER-FOOD, spirulina! 

Spirulina is blue-green algae and "is a powerful blood cleanser due to its rich source of chlorophyll. It contains roughly ten times the amount of chlorophyll in green vegetables per volume. Chlorophyll helps build red blood cells in the body and provides an easily absorbable form of magnesium. This combination helps oxygenate the blood stream and removes organic toxins.keep reading about spirulina here...

Here is what you will need: (I double or triple the ingredients to make extra!)

(I purchase all organic ingredients)
8 dates (remove pit)
1/2  cup raw cashews
2 tsp spirulina powder
1 tbs raw cacao nibs
1 tbs mini vegan chocolate chips
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic and gluten free rice crispy cereal

In food processor:
Process cashews until they form a meal.  Cut the dates in half and remove pits. Process dates and cashews.  Add the spirulina, nibs, chocolate chips and vanilla. Process until dough forms a ball and comes away from sides of the processor bowl.  Add the cereal and pulse a few time until it is incorporated.   Using a teaspoon, scoop some dough and then use your hand to form balls.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Here are some substitute ingredients in case you don't have the other ingredients on hand.

In place of cashews:                         In place of dates:
Sunflower seeds                                 Raisins
Walnuts                                              Figs
Almonds                                            Prunes
Peanuts                                              Dried apricots

You can also:
* use coco powder instead of chocolate chips.
* use pure maple syrup instead of vanilla
* omit the rice cereal and add some more nuts to pulse in at the end.

Not only are these super nutritious, but they are so delicious and please the palate of my most critical child.  Enjoy!