Friday, May 11, 2012

A pregnant vegan

Pregnant and Vegan

my extremely healthy, usually happy baby
By the time I got pregnant I had been a vegan for five years. Everyone knew me as vegan and the questions of “why” and “what do you eat” had long since past. So when I got pregnant a year ago I was surprised at the constant question, “Are you going to have a vegan pregnancy?” The question startled me every time because I hadn’t thought about it any other way. In fact I believed (and still do) that the vegan diet was the healthier choice for my fetus. Most questions were just curious, some cautious, but a few down right caustic. 
“Do you know what you’re doing to your unborn child?” Their eyes would say. “How can you be so selfish?” And, “what kind of mother are you going to be?”
Was I being selfish? Or perhaps just naive and clueless? I spent a lot of early prenatal appointments talking to my doctor about this, making sure I hadn't just been reading one-sided literature that would severely harm my child.

My wonderfully open-minded doctor helped me regain my confidence and with a little extra attention on my diet I birthed an extremely healthy, usually happy baby. 

This is what I did:
Raspberry Vanilla Protein Shake
1. Protein: A pregnant woman needs 75 grams of protein a day! That is a lot. In order to start off right I made sure to eat at least 30 grams for my morning meal. I did this through soy protein shakes I would make in bulk for the entire week, protein bars (I fell in love with Larabars  and started making my own version), and lots and lots of tofu and beans.

2. Calcium: I made sure to buy calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice, ate calcium  chews (until I got so sick of them I had to hide the bag), and ate a lot of dark leafy greens. Did you know 3/4 cup collard greens as more calcium than 1 cup cows milk?

3. Supplements: Taking supplements was a new practice, but a very important one. I took (and still take for breast feeding) Rainbow Light Prenatal One, a fantastic vegetarian prenatal that only needs to be taken once a day, B12 (very important pregnant moms!), and Iron. I can proudly say my iron levels stayed great throughout my whole pregnancy).

4. Read. I spent a lot of time on websites and in the backs of cookbooks determining my nutritional needs and planning out how to fulfill them.There are many great resources for vegans during pregnancy. The Vegan Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal, one of the first books dedicated solely for pregnant vegans, is a great resource I came across after giving birth. I found it important to stay well informed both for myself and my concerned friends and family.

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
5. Support. I was very fortunate to have a doctor who supported my veganism but I have heard stories of people defending their decision to their health care providers and not receiving their support. It is so important to find a nurse, midwife, or doctor who will work with your lifestyle choices and believe in the inherent health of a vegan diet.

6. Cravings. When the cravings came, I quickly found foods that would satisfy. The grocery store two blocks away carried vegan scones and I spent a lot of my days off stocking up. At home when I craved something sweet and chocolatey I had fast go-to recipes like my no-bake cookies. There was also a time I ate a lot of processed fake meat. Aware of all the foods available to me and with reliable, fast recipes there was never a time I was unable to satisfy a craving.

And in the end...
I had a great, though not without struggles, birth and a beautiful baby girl...wanna take another look? 
As my journey continues I learn how to have a vegan baby who will grow into a vegan toddler. I'm sure there will be lots to share. And maybe next time I'll tell you what I did with my placenta. :)

Do you have any vegan pregnancy thoughts or stories?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

That's right friends. And it's as good as it looks.

So far the biggest benefit of my soy/gluten freedom month has been the forcing of creativity and innovation. I have to admit, I used to have a sort of prejudice against raw desserts disbelieving in their potential goodness. Oh was I wrong. This is one of my favorite desserts I have ever made. Ever. The chocolate hazelnut cheesecake is so rich and creamy and pure. But wait there's more, it's also healthy!

Get the recipe here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pepperjack Cashew Cheese

Oh my my, I love cashew cheese. 
There are a lot of store-bought, processed vegan cheeses out there, and some of them are quite good but few are meant to be eaten without melting first. This Pepperjack recipes is inspired from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, which I talked about here.
Check out the recipe for this Pepperjack Cashew Cheese on The Sweet Life

Monday, April 30, 2012

salted caramel corn

 gluten-free, soy-free, vegan

I only recently discovered how easy it is to make popcorn with just a stove and a pot. Upon this discovery my mind started racing with all the wonderful  flavors I could make. Naturally salted caramel was the first on my list.

Check out the recipe at The Sweet Life.

9 ways to enjoy leave

This week I made my maternity leave indefinite and said my goodbyes to Whole Foods. I am so lucky and blessed by this opportunity and here are some of the things I  look forward to most...

1. Baking for fun .When I baked 8 hours a day for someone else, I hardly ever wanted to come home and play with food. Since I started my leave I love being in the kitchen!. Here are a few of the treats I have been making, with many more to come.

2. Eating breakfast. I was never good at waking up an extra 30 minutes earlier; its hard when you have to be at work at 5:30 in the morning. Now I can enjoy and savor the most important meal of the day. Check out the recipe for one of my favorite ways to start the day: granola.

3. Family walks. One of my favorite developments since Eden's birth is the family walk. Nearly every morning Jason, Eden, Swede, and I start our day with a brisk walk around our neighborhood.

4. Sharing life with Eden. I am so lucky to re-experience childhood through Eden's eyes. I love to watch her grow and learn. Currently she is discovering how hands can be useful.

5. Eden sharing my life. Likewise I am thrilled to teach Eden and show her all my joys in life as she hangs out with me in her wrap.

6. Weekends. I don't think Jason and I have shared weekends together since I've been working as a baker. Oh the things we can do!

7. Dinner. Time and energy to be creative with dinner is very exciting. There were a lot of sad dinners when I could hardly stomach water during my pregnancy and a lot of quick dinners when life was too chaotic to cook.

8. Wednesdays at Fern Creek. I look forward to our weekly trip out to my parent's farm. Eden gets to spend time with family while learning about food and where it comes from.

9. Travel with Jason.  He's always going cool places for work and finally Eden and I can join him. Eden loves living large in hotel rooms, as you can see, and there are many more in her future.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and tomato pizza

gluten-free, soy-free, vegan pizza

When I removed gluten and soy from my diet I was afraid it was going to be a sad, sad month. How silly of me.This pizza is delicious, hearty, and completely satisfying.

Check out the recipe at  The Sweet Life

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

vegan. gluten-free. soy free. delicious.

For the next month I'm on a gluten-free, soy-free food challenge. As a vegan this limits my diet substantially.  After five days of incredibly healthy, mostly raw meals I needed some chocolate! I have an old no bake cookie recipe in a family cookbook that I have been veganizing for years and I realized with one quick walk to the store, I could have my chocolaty gluten and soy free dessert.

Check it out here at The Sweet Life

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Sweet Life

Check it out!  I've decided to start another project. The Sweet Life, a sister blog to Line Drawings, is an all vegan blog soon to be full of recipes, places to eat, vegan products, and more.

Where to eat - Grand Rapids

After eating out for a week in one of my favorite places, Grand Rapids, Michigan, I decided to start a new component to this blog: Where to eat? Over the next several months I will be traveling with Jason to some of the United State's coolest cities and look most forward to the food I will eat. So for my personal reference (and yours) I am compiling a vegan eatery guide.

Grand Rapids, Michigan
1. Marie Catrib's,1001 Lake Drive, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, Center of the Universe.

Marie Catrib's is one of West Michigan's true beauties. The thriving business is run on principals of sustainability through environmental conservation and the supporting of local farmer.. They emphasis community within Grand Rapids and within the restaurant itself. And it is the cleanest place you'll ever eat. I know, I used to work there. And on top of all that, the food is delicious and award winning. Try the Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger, ranked by Peta one of the top vegan sandwiches of the year!

While Marie Catrib's caters to all of diets, there is a wide selection of vegan entrees, all clearly marked on the menu, as well as many options that can be veganized. Ask your server, they will always have tons of suggestions. Stop in for breakfast and try the KT Breakfast Special: a tofu/veggie scramble spiced perfectly with ginger and garlic, her almost world famous potatoes with her secret seasoning, and a choice from a variety of  fresh daily-made in house bread.

Don't leave without trying one of Marie's fantastic gluten free and vegan cakes or cookies.

 2. Bartertown Diner, 6 Jefferson Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

This (mostly) vegan diner was opened since I've left Grand Rapids. But last week I was introduced and swept off my feet. Bartertown Diner is a worker owned and operated business that relies heavily on local produce, changing their menu when the season requires.  They have impressive environmentally sustainable practices. Check out this video. and you will be amazed to discover the restaurant is is virtually waste-free. And did I mention their food is awesome?

Bartertown Diner is mostly vegan with many raw options, Try the pizza of the day, always changing, always vegan, and always worth it.

I also tried the Parsnip Ribwich with baked beans and was very pleased. But you cannot leave without dessert. Roc's cupcakes look delicious and have great reviews. I will have to go back to try each and every one.

But I was so taken with the raw chocolate "cheese"cake at lunch that I had to get it again at dinner. I am extremely picky about desserts and unfairly skeptical about raw food, and I was (almost) licking my plate.

3. Little Africa Ethiopian Restaurant, 956 Fulton St. Grand Rapids, MI 49503

I have traveled the United States for an Ethiopian restaurant equal to Little Africa's and I have yet to find one that comes even a little close. Check out the reviews. I am not alone in my love for this place. After two nights in a row of this fresh, flavorful cuisine I started questioning why I ever moved away from this restaurant. Eat here every chance you get! Order the sampler platter and enjoy the wide variety of flavors and textures.

Plus you have to eat with your hands. Does it get any better than that? Enjoy the meal with  spiced tea or mango juice. You may find it hard to leave this place behind.

Where else should one eat when visiting Grand Rapids?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

9 adventures of Eden

Traveling with an infant child and catching up with wonderful friends makes blogging difficult. Today is for Eden, who has done outstanding on this trip, but needs a little extra Mama time. And while she sleeps in my wrap I present to you my list:

1. Eden joins the world.

2. Eden is welcomed home

3. Eden and her BFF

4. Eden goes on a walk

5. Eden's first boyfriend

6. Eden enjoys the sun

7. Eden gets kissed

8. Eden stays at the JW Marriott

9. And after a long day,
Eden passes out

Baby goes west

Well, actually we have gone east, spending the last week with our wonderful family and friends of west Michigan. But I brought a little project from the west.

I found this fantastic pattern here. It does cost $5.95 but it uses only the littlest-bit of yarn and makes wonderful baby gifts. These particular ones are for a very special unborn baby I will be meeting this summer.

It took less than a half of skein of Cotton Ease yarn, about 4 hours and medium skills. Do you have a special baby coming? Check out this pattern.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Fruit Tart

As I mentioned earlier, I am totally into cashews right now and have been eager to try cashew pastry cream. I have made other vegan pastry creams in the past and never been very pleased with the result. Going creamy often involves tofu (which I am trying to limit in my diet) and always runs the risk of having that "vegan aftertaste". Well I have decided it is time for that "vegan aftertaste" to become a compliment. It is time for people to expect our creams and custards and mousses to be better than their cow counterpart.

So my dessert challenge this week was to make a delicious pastry cream out of cashews that would be the base of my Easter fruit tart.

The Components:

Cashew Pastry Cream
Shortbread Tart Shell
1 pint Strawberries
1/2 pint Raspberries
1/2 pint Blueberries
2 Kiwi
1 Mango
Apricot Glaze

Cashew Pastry Cream

3 Tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance is best)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups soy milk
2 vanilla beans
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water

Soak the cashews in 1 cup water overnight.

In a food processor blend the cashews with the water until completely smooth. This may take a long time so be patient.

Meanwhile melt margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cornstarch and quickly whisk until smooth and thick. Mix the milk and sugar in a separate bowl and add slowly into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. With a paring knife slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the bean clean. Stir vanilla into pastry cream. Switch from whisk to spatula and continue stirring while cream thickens, scraping down the sides. It should coat the spatula, looking something like this:

Once thick, remove from heat and allow cream to cool slightly. When it is no longer hot to the touch add it to the cashews which should be very smooth and creamy and blend for a few more minutes until well combined.

Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Set in refrigerator and allow several hours for pastry cream to set up.
This can be made several days in advance; it will store in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Shortbread Tart Shell

This recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's wonderful cookie cookbook, "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar."

1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, slightly softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan.
In a large bowl beat together the margarine and sugar, scraping the sides often, until very light and creamy.

Sift together flour and cornstarch. Add to margarine mixture in batches, folding in with a spatula first. Beat together until mixture is crumbly yet moist, holding together when pressed. You want it to look something like this:

Empty dough into tart shell and press down with fingers so that it evenly fills the bottom. Press all around the entire rim of the pan to get the dough into the fluted edges as well as at the fold so that you have a good 90 degree angle.
For a clean look run a knife around the top to even out the sides.

With a fork poke holes into the dough.

Place tart shell in oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the shortbread is slightly puffed and the edges are staring to golden. Remove from heat and let cool.


Pour chilled and set-up pastry cream into completely cooled tart shell, filling about half full. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Place back in fridge to set up for another hour or so.

Once ready, gently remove the sides of the tart pan by holding the bottom and slightly pushing down at the rim to remove. It's important to do this now before the tart gets too heavy. Take a knife and stick it between the bottom of the pan and tart shell. The bottom should just ease off at this point.

Place on flat round plate and begin assembling. You can do this however you like with any type of fruit. This is what I did:
Cut strawberries in half and place around the edge. Place raspberries just inside the strawberries, doubling them up to create volume.

Skin and slice kiwi into eight slices and place around the raspberries, followed by all the blueberries. Again, I used an entire 1/2 pint, stacking them to create more volume. I finished with three strawberries and slices of mangos in the center.

You're almost finished! Heat up 1 Tbsp apricot jam (or any jam really) and 2 Tbsp water, whisking constantly until boiling. With a pastry brush (silicone works best) brush the glaze on over the fruit. This gives it a nice shine and a couple extra hours of shelf life.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.