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Archive for the ‘vegan’ Category

Last weekend, Kiddo #2 helped me make dinner. She was helpful and engaged. She stirred the sauce, poured and mixed ingredients and pressed up right.next.to.me. while I chopped and diced. I did my best to breathe deeply, let her have fun and not micro manage her when she sploshed sauce over the side of the sauce pan. She did great, and I twitched a lot, forced myself to refrain from making snappy comments and just let her be a part of my kitchen.

I am trying to cultivate more patience with my kids when they help me cook. I wish I didn’t care when floors and clothes got wet, or dirty or covered in paint or tomato sauce, but the wiring in my brain that gives me the patience to be crafty and focused with children is faulty. I have a tendency to short circuit and get bossy easily and say things like, “give me that,” and “let me do it.” I like my cupcakes to look pretty instead of smooshed, I hate picking up bits of paper and glitter off the floor, and I don’t like cleaning paint or glue off my or my kids’ fingers. I avoid most art projects that involve moisture and colors that stain and schedule activities that don’t involve scrubbing hands and faces afterward.

My aversion to messes doesn’t spill over into other areas of the house. I don’t seem to have a problem with piles of papers or clothes. I am not even all that bothered by clutter although I am definitely neater now that we have kids. But I can’t seem to handle wet gloppy kid messes. Even as a kid I didn’t like getting my hands sticky, though I did love to play with flour. I love how soft and cool flour feels while sifting through my fingers–until it turns into a wet gummy paste and then flour is quickly added to the icky list.

I want to let the kids slop on the frosting when decorating cupcakes and not feel my body tense up when they accidentally dump glittery sprinkles onto the floor. My kids have aprons they can wear, and I have a powerful vacuum and a Costco supply of sponges. We spend a lot of time in our kitchen, so I need to be able to teach my kids to cook while refraining from snatching items from their hands when they threaten to pour the entire contents into a dish. How bad could three extra tablespoons of oregano be in a pasta sauce? Apparently, we won’t be finding out because no matter how hard I try to contain my mild obsessive compulsive perfectionist tendencies, I end up hovering over my children, futzing and clucking while I attempt to keep spills to a minimum.

Scott has much more patience with the kids in the kitchen than I. I could leave the impromptu kiddo kitchen classes to him, but that just feels like I am giving up on my kids and myself. I don’t want to miss out on helping them grow up around the chopping block and stove. It would be easier to shoo my kids out of the kitchen and cook by myself instead of slowing down and taking the time to teach them how to chop vegetables and create meals. With limited time to wedge chores, fun, classes, homework, baths, sports and dinner into an already packed evening or weekend, I find it hard to slow my brain down to the speed of my five-year-old. I like to be quick, precise, efficient and focused when attempting to get a meal on the table in under 30 minutes. That said, it isn’t fair of me to deny them the opportunity to experience cooking and make mistakes in the kitchen.

Despite my desire to cook by myself last weekend, I worked really hard at maintaining patience so Kiddo #2 could enjoy herself and feel welcomed. I had to quietly tell myself to slow down a few times, which definitely helped me keep focused on her experience and remain calm. I had to remind myself that a spill can be wiped up easily and hands are super easy to rinse off. And even a less than tasty meal is only a minor inconvenience. I am trying to keep my kids’ kitchen failures in perspective. I expect as my kids grow older and maintain better control of their hands and are less likely to push half of dinner out of the pan and onto the stove, I will feel more comfortable cooking with them. In the meantime, I plan to keep inviting them into the kitchen no matter how much my body involuntarily lunges forward to prevent potential mistakes. I will cut myself a break though, and let them do the gloppy art projects at school.

Below is my stuffed shells recipe. The vegan ricotta involves smooshing your hands into the tofu to get it the right consistency. It’s a great recipe for kids to help make– and a task I much prefer to let them handle.

Stuffed Shells
Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, add in an entire box of jumbo pasta shells.
-While you are waiting for the water to boil and shells to cook, begin making the tomato sauce and tofu ricotta.

Tomato sauce ingredients:
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
5-6 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of dried basil or a small handful of fresh leaves that your kiddo harvested from your garden
6-7 good cranks of the pepper grinder
Salt to taste

Armed with her trusty pair of kid-friendly craft scissors…

…there was no reason she couldn’t tame the bolting basil herself.

Sauce directions:
-Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan
-Add the garlic
-Saute until the garlic has turned golden
-Add the two cans of tomatoes to the garlic (give the can opener to your kid and see if he/she can open it on their own) and the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low

While the sauce is simmering, start making the tofu ricotta. This can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

She started off thinking it would be fun to stick her hands into a bowl of squishy tofu.

But her face quickly proved that she loves sticky, messy fingers about as much as I do.

Tofu ricotta ingredients:
1 block of firm tofu, mashed by little hands if you have an extra pair living in the house
½ to ⅔ cups of Veganaise
2 tablespoons dried or fresh dill
2 teaspoons fresh basil (leftover from the earlier harvest)
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

Ricotta directions:
-Mash the tofu into a large bowl until it is a crumbly and mushy
-Add all the ricotta ingredients and stir well until it begins to resemble the consistency of ricotta
-Adjust seasonings to taste

Assemble:
-Once everything is ready, take a large casserole dish and scoop a few heaping spoonfuls of sauce into the bottom and spread evenly.
-Take a large soup spoon and stuff each shell full of the tofu ricotta.
-When you have snuggly filled the casserole dish with stuffed shells, cover the shells with the remaining tomato sauce.
-Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling up on the sides and the filling is heated through.
-Serve with homemade garlic bread and a huge tossed salad.

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Last Thursday, Calla suggested we eat snacks for dinner. Her menu included soy yogurt, ice cream, spring rolls and Popsicles. Lennon requested Costco-style “samples” and dim sum. I didn’t feel like cooking a full meal and neither Scott nor I were interested in the remaining items on our weekly menu. He had eaten Asian food for lunch and didn’t want stir fry, and I had eaten a burrito and didn’t want Mexican. We weren’t able to find cilantro at the Farmer’s Market so fresh spring roll salad with a peanut sauce dressing was off the menu and Falafel would take too long.

After a week of crazy deadlines, skipped lunches at work and general heat malaise, I was feeling a lack of motivation and desire to enter the kitchen. Grabbing a recipe book for last minute dinner ideas wasn’t going to happen. I liked Calla’s idea of snacks for dinner, with some healthy modifications, of course.

Calla wasn’t happy that I changed up her menu. There was some compromising from me and lots of whining from her. I eliminated all the desserts, which basically left the spring rolls. I pulled out some hummus, leftover tofu ricotta from a stuffed shells recipe earlier in the week, carrots, celery, raw broccoli and marinated tofu and put together a veggie platter. I heated up the leftover pasta sauce and threw in a handful of frozen veggie meatballs, microwaved some cashew cream cheesy sauce leftover from a macaroni and cheese casserole from earlier in the week and assembled a couple of sandwiches which I cut into quarters. And I heated up a bagful of those awesome frozen vegetarian spring rolls from Costco–snacks and dim sum all in one. A container of seaweed salad, which Lennon deemed, “too chewy,” rounded out the meal.

Snacks for dinner wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either, but I’ve been trying to be better about using up the leftovers in our fridge. I can’t say the fusion of Italian, Asian and hummus felt particularly awesome in my stomach, but for dinner on the table in 25 minutes after a long day, a much needed clearing out of the fridge, and a win for the kiddo who suggested the idea in the first place, snacks for dinner served its purpose.

Snack managers surveying the samples.

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I ate my weight in tropical fruits this week–apple bananas, strawberry papayas and pineapples. While other vacationers were planning their Kauai trip schedules around luaus, snorkeling excursions and weather forecasts, we were busy planning ours around the daily farmer’s market schedules. A day trip discussion between Scott and me sounded something like, “Let’s go to the North Shore on Tuesday. We can’t go on Wednesday because we won’t make it back in time for the Kapaa Farmer’s Market at 3 p.m.” A drive through town most often involved a shout out to pull the car over because the banana lady hadn’t packed up yet, and Monday brought the sinking realization that we had missed the Koloa market and would have to attend the smaller Lihue market instead. We’ve eaten so much tropical fruit I am amazed my gums and the inside of my mouth aren’t raw. Though if I hear myself say, “that was the best pineapple I have ever eaten!” one more time, my ears may start bleeding.

We wondered if the fruit we bought from the farmer's market on Wednesday would last us until Thursday.

We visited Kauai for the first time during our honeymoon 11 years ago and luckily, we stayed in a condo with a blender. On a whim, Scott froze two papayas in an ice cube tray to see what a papaya smoothie would taste like. What started as an experiment turned into a vacation breakfast addiction, I mean tradition. Now whenever we are on vacation in Hawaii, the first thing we ask the hotel is the status of the blender. Room with a view overlooking the ocean? Sure, that’s a nice bonus, but, does the room have a blender?

I love papaya smoothies. LOVE THEM. I dream about their lovely creamy orange sweetness in January when the gray blues are settling into the crevices of my brain. I tell my friends to make papaya smoothies every time I hear one of them is headed to Hawaii. They graciously nod their heads, make some mmm hmm sounds, say things like, “ooh, that sounds good,” and smile at me vaguely. Maybe I am being too pushy and gregarious about our smoothies. Perhaps I should suggest they add rum, or I could get all grandma-like and send around a print schedule of where to find the Farmer’s Markets on Kauai to make things easier. Honestly, it would be a lot more helpful if I could recreate for them on the mainland what I so adore on the islands, but I can’t. Strawberry papayas and apple bananas don’t travel, and to try and blend a similar concoction at home with sub par tropical fruits is not worth the money and disappointment.

But, should you happen to be in the lovely Hawaiian islands this summer, here is the recipe. Make sure you stay somewhere with a blender, and a beautiful lanai and bonus view of the ocean, of course. And remember, there is nothing wrong with scheduling your hiking, snorkeling and various island adventures around the harvesting and purchasing of good, local fruit.

Papaya Smoothie
Ingredients:
-2 ripe strawberry papayas (check with the concierge for a listing of Farmer’s Markets around the island, or careen off the side of the road at the sight of a fruit stand)
-2-3 apple bananas (where you discover papayas, so too you will find bananas)
-Some pineapple is optional but not necessary
-Enough soy milk to keep the crappy hotel blender from seizing on the frozen mass of fruit

Directions:
-In the evening, slice open the papayas and remove the seeds. Scoop the papaya out of the skin by the spoonfuls into an ice cube tray. Onto a plate works fine, too.
-The next morning, add the frozen papaya, soy milk and banana to the blender, pray the engine doesn’t die or overheat, and blend until you have a smoothie with the consistency and creaminess of a milkshake.
-Drink and repeat.
-Serve with fresh, local, mashed avocado on toast.

Like I said, a blender in the room is absolutely imperative.

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Potato Comfort

I need some comfort food. Now. I need to sit in a pair of soft pants on my squishy couch with a plate of twice-baked potatoes in front of some brain-cell-destroying TV. The personal and political drama of October spilled into the first week of November.  I think it is okay to just say goodbye to 2010 now and check out until January. The year is like a bad container of leftovers left on the counter to fester and rot. We need to let out the gas, dump all the contents, and start over with a new menu. Fortunately, for my little family, we were only forced to eat a small portion of the 2010 meal, but unfortunately, our family and friends were served much larger platefuls.

So, a few days ago I sent out a call on Facebook for new 2011 menu ideas, and my friends came up with some suggestions. I think they’ve helped to create a lovely meal—one in which we could all enjoy. I only hope that next year’s chef  (God, Obama, the universe, fate, destiny, Oprah, whoever you put your faith in, etc.) will actually deliver.

Proposed 2011 Menu

Cocktail

A warm snifter of justice topped with a sprinkling of organic grassroots activism.

Appetizer

Freshly harvested blessings peppered with economic upturn and paired with a fine vintage of full-bodied health.

Entrées

Grilled sense and reason with a side of unbiased information

or

Pizza*

Dessert

A triple-layer cake of compassion, patience and mindfulness drizzled with a love and tranquility sauce.

Until our sumptuous meal is served, or the pizza arrives in a comforting box at your door, please feel free to join me on the couch for some salty, stuffed potatoes.

Vegan Twice-Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

4-6 Russet potatoes scrubbed clean and pierced for baking

3 bunches of broccoli, including stems

1 package of smoky tempeh strips (They have a bacon-y flavor. Check your natural food store.)

1-1 ½ cups (or as much as needed to reach desired flavor and consistency) of Real Food Daily’s cashew cheddar cheese sauce (We use this versatile, smooth and creamy sauce for casseroles, nachos, pizzas, tamales, etc.)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

–Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake potatoes until soft (approx. 45 minutes to an hour).

–Make the cashew cheese sauce.

–While potatoes are baking, chop broccoli into very small pieces and steam until soft and bright green. For added texture, chop and steam the stem as well.

–Cut tempeh into small pieces and heat in a skillet.

–Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice in half and scoop the insides into a large bowl. Don’t tear the skins. Set them aside as you will need them later to hold the stuffing.

–Add the broccoli, tempeh, cheese sauce, salt and pepper to the bowl of potatoes  and mix well.

–Heap the potato skins full of the potato mixture and put back into the oven for another 20 minutes or until the tops are crispy and golden and the mixture is heated through.

–Serve with a salad and/or beer and your favorite show.

*Special thanks to Dina for keeping it real.

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Food cravings have taken control of my brain. Vegan cinnamon rolls, vegan fried chicken with gravy, fried okra and mashed potatoes, veggie chicken taquitos. A random combination of flavors, I know. But ever since I discovered some new vegan restaurants, my taste buds have consumed my mind with flavor desires, and now I have food needs that won’t.go.away.

I love Davis. I could easily clog your ears with my endless list about what makes Davis great–the parks, engaged community, Farmer’s Market, trees, Delta breeze, proximity to the Bay Area and mountains, the way the hot air balloons drift across the farmlands early in the morning. I’ll stop there, because my taste buds are perturbed that I am not talking about their food cravings. They want instant gratification food, and unfortunately, I can’t always get that in Davis. If the buds want green curry or spinach and fried tofu smothered in a panang sauce, then Davis (with seven Thai restaurants to choose from and an eighth on the way) is my place. Our friendly neighbor Sacramento has a few standout vegan restaurants, including a great little vegan food cart in downtown called the Happy Go Lucky Veggie Cuisine parked on the corner of I & 8th, and my favorite Vietnamese place, Andy Nguyen’s. I do wish the options in Sac were more prolific–enough at least to tame my demanding taste buds and the beast that is my stomach. Sometimes, for self-preservation’s sake, I have to head west.

Which leads me to ask the question, when did the vegans begin the revolution to take over Bay Area dining? I know they were lurking about back in the early 2000s with a menu item here and a restaurant tucked away there. But in the last five years, the five years since we’ve moved, there has been some kind of creative vegan food explosion. VegNews magazine just reported in their July/August 2010 10th Anniversary edition that there are 15! vegan restaurants in San Francisco alone, which I don’t think even counts the fabulous recent additions in the East Bay. Thankful I am, but crazy jealous as well. Why can’t I have such a plethora of options a mere one hour east?

A trip to the Bay Area has now become a strategic event involving gastrointestinal timing and deliberate restaurant planning. The food negotiations with my hubby begin about 24 hours before we leave for the in-law’s house and commence somewhere in the middle of the Caldecott tunnel. He wants Ethiopian, always. I want tempura sushi from Cha-Ya, Indian curry pizza from Zante’s, creamy brussels sprout gratin from Gracias Madre,  and a sundae from Maggie Mudd. Do we stay in the East Bay, or do we cross the bridge into the city? There are too many meals to consume and not enough time for digestion, not to mention that I have to forgo eating at my favorite places listed above in order to try out the new places. How many calories do we get to eat in a day? Not enough to handle my Bay Area eating marathons. If you vegan chefs could just spill over into Davis, a cool college town with good eaters and a great farmer’s market, my taste buds and I would be so happy.

I still have a week to go before I get to drive to the Bay to finally try Cinnaholic’s cinnamon rolls and visit Souley Vegan for vegan fried chicken (*Sigh.* Two months later, and I still haven’t dealt with that craving.) Until then, the taste buds are just going to have to be satisfied with homemade chocolate cupcakes.

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When I graduated from college I was antsy to travel. Young, liberal, and idealistic, I was ready to leave the United States for a dose of worldly reality. I had no real understanding of life outside of my comfy home and it was time for me to gain some perspective. So Scott and I left with only a few personal possessions shoved into a couple of dirty backpacks and a rough sense of where we wanted to travel.

While we didn’t have our backpacking trip planned out completely, I knew I wanted to visit my friend Leanne in Mali, Africa. I was drawn to Africa—lush, colorful, harsh, and severe. It was the polar opposite of the world I was used to and seemed like the perfect place to start our trip.

When our jet landed on the single dirt runway of the Ouagadougou airport in Burkina Faso, and I saw the bright red landscape and shanty houses of the city, I thought that maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea to visit sub-Saharan West Africa. Leanne eased us into the country by having us stay in a decent hotel with running water, clean beds and air conditioning our first night. The second day, when we left the city and moved into the countryside, that was a different experience altogether.

On our second night, while sitting in a decrepit little room with a jagged shard of glass for a mirror and roaches the size of small house cats, I freaked out. The foreign scariness, grime, and the possibility of permanent insanity from the Malaria drugs all began to mess with my nerves. Two days earlier I lamented the short amount of time we would be visiting Mali, and after we landed I was terrified at the notion of being there close to a month. Rocking back and forth, knees pressed to my chin, I schemed about how to catch the next flight out to Europe. This was no sheltered safari. We were four “rich” white kids in our early twenties in a very black, impoverished country. With my pale Irish skin there would be no blending in. Children swarmed us, touched our clothes and spoke to us in their native dialect. I felt like I was trapped in a National Geographic photo, only not the glamorous and romanticized image that the glossy pictures depict in the magazine. I wasn’t prepared for Mali or the realities of a third-world country. It was the poverty that rattled me. A quick visit to Mexico a couple of years beforehand did nothing to prepare me for the dire conditions.

Leanne planned out our visit with stops at several different villages throughout Mali after crossing the border from Burkina Faso. About half way through our stay we spent four days at the village she had been living in for two years. Temperatures in Mali topped out at 120 degrees in the shade–this was during the cooler, rainy season. I spent the first day in her village alternating between lying on the clay floor of her hut and staggering to the well to pull up buckets of water to pour over my hot body. Mali is a Muslim country so even though the heat was deathly, we had to keep our legs covered.

Leanne warned us before hand that we would be taking all our meals with the dougatigi, the chief of the village, and that each meal of the day would consist of millet porridge (commonly known as bird seed in the U.S.) and a green baobab leaf sauce, the color and consistency of vending machine slime. Fully aware of the affect of baobab sauce on the psyche, Leanne purchased a bag of humanitarian-grade rice (usually laden with small inconspicuous rocks to be discovered later during mealtime) to give to the dougatigi’s wife and asked that we be fed it for breakfast. It was Leanne’s idea to start the day off with a rice meal and then struggle through the mashed millet and baobab sauce the rest of the day.

Our first meal with the dougatigi was somber. We stooped around the common bowl and carefully stuck our hands into the steaming hot food. I felt awkward. I’ve eaten family style before but not with strangers with whom I didn’t share a language, eating out of the same bowl with dirty hands and crouched on the ground in a squat. Eating millet and baobab sauce required an element of skill. After inserting your hand into burning hot food, you had to dip it into a pool of slimy baobab goo sitting in a well of millet. In order to keep the baobab from running down your chin, you needed to swing it around your fingers a few times and then insert more than half of your hand into your mouth.

The dougatigi’s wife, aiming to please us, added a dried fish to the baobab sauce for “flavor.” Even Leanne, who had spent most of the last two years eating the same meal everyday and had grown accustomed to baobab and millet, was not enthused by the fish flavor. By the third day, the mere thought of dinner caused my stomach to cramp up into a little ball of protest. Scott and I had put our vegan eating habits on hold during our travels, especially during our stay in Africa, and I almost wept with relief when Leanne sacrificed one of her chickens for our last meal.

It was for the best that our hosts didn’t understand English because in all honesty, the millet and baobab sauce was foul. We crouched there forcing back hot millet with the sole intent to not offend our hosts by shunning their food. “Just keep eating” I grunted at Scott with a smile on my face to camouflage my real feelings. My mantra, “just keep eating, just keep eating” was broken intermittently by Scott’s request to cease the meal. We were like two kids, forcing down cold, canned vegetables, praying that our parents would take pity and excuse us from the table.

Eight times in four days, we repeated this task of eating millet. We’d sweat in the heat and focus on pushing past the gag reflex. On the last day, as we sat quietly swearing, encouraging each other through gritted smiles to continue with the meal, the dougatigi, normally a stoic and quiet man, addressed Leanne. She replied in his native language, turned to us and chuckled.

“What did he say,” I asked, mouth brimming with food, hoping we hadn’t done anything to shame Leanne or offend his family.

“He said your friends are good eaters.”

Our trip to Mali put my cushy life at home into clear focus. All of a sudden the slew of things I had been taught to fear all my life seemed trivial. I watched a three-year-old girl, her mother somewhere working the fields, play with a rusted, jagged-edged metal box that someone had thrown away, and it dawned on me that we worry way too much about hurting ourselves. A stop for street food to eat an amazing fried egg sandwich made with hot mayonnaise that never saw the inside of a refrigerator felt exhilarating and risky. Eating from a common bowl didn’t make me sick, but instead taught me humility and the importance of respecting a meal, no matter how modest the food or surroundings. Africa helped me shake off the comfortable, overprotective cloak of home and it was a liberating experience.

But after three weeks in Mali, I was ready to leave. For all the lessons I learned, it wasn’t easy to adapt to that country. I escaped drug-induced insanity (but not the hallucinations) and embraced a flexible approach to life that I never had before. And today, when I start to fret dirty little hands, and feel the urge to overprotect my kids, I stop and remember my time in Mali.

Below is not a recipe for millet and baobab. Instead I am leaving you with my favorite Malian dish called tiga diga na. This peanut stew was my street meal of choice. It is easy to make and, unlike the millet and baobab dish, kept us full and happy long after our jet left the country.

Tiga Diga Na– serves 6

Ingredients
-12oz peanut butter
-¼ cup of tomato paste
-one cube of vegetarian bullion (or the African bullion of choice)
-½ head of cabbage cut into four large pieces
-one to two sweet potatoes cut into large chunks
-Any other random vegetables cut into big pieces (cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)
-three cloves of garlic (or more depending on your love of garlic) cut in halves
-Enough water for desired consistency (I like it thick and soupy)
-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

-Blend peanut butter, tomato paste and water together and place over low/medium heat (be careful, the sauce can stick to the bottom of the pan easily so make sure that the heat isn’t too high and stir frequently)

-Immediately add all the remaining ingredients and let simmer until the vegetables are cooked (the longer the better, at least for 45 minutes)

-Serve over white rice, preferably not humanitarian grade

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Note: This will be my last breakfast post for a while.
Toast is my morning savior. Especially at 6:30 a.m. when I have two starving children clamoring to be fed and I can hardly think let alone create a meal. Pushing two kids and two adults out of the house before 8:00 a.m. five days a week requires efficiency and a game plan. And I am not willing to get up at the crack of dark to get everyone ready. That means breakfast needs to be quick, healthy and easy. Toast never fails me, except when I am out of bread. But really, that is just me failing to go shopping. But toast can get boring so I try to limit how often I reach for the bread box. I am sure that my kids would be just fine with a repetitive breakfast, but in an effort to get a variety of nutrients into their diet I try to change it up a bit.

A loaded pantry and a fridge full of seasonal fruits will keep me from having to think too hard about what to feed my kids. I match up a couple of breakfast foods to provide balance and help keep my kids from falling into a food rut. Fruit added to cereal, soygurt or in a bowl alone rounds out a breakfast based around toast. I like apricots and cherries in the spring; peaches, nectarines and melon (cut it up the night before to save you time in the morning) in the summer; apples and Asian pears in the late summer to fall; and raisins, homemade applesauce and Satsuma mandarins in the winter. Bananas are a great staple to have in the house year round as any parent knows.

If you struggle with mornings as much as I, refer to the list below for breakfast items that your body can make while your head still thinks it’s in bed surrounded by pillows. Most of the suggestions can be made on the fly and only a few require minor preparation.

Toast or bagels and ?
Obviously we eat lots of toast and bagels. Scott usually bikes over to Noah’s Bagels on Sunday mornings to buy a dozen bagels for the rest of the week. Noah’s bagels will stay soft for a good 3-4 days in freezer bags before they start to go stale. Refrigeration will increase their shelf life by a couple of days.

Smother with:
Smashed avocado sprinkled with a touch of salt, pepper, garlic powder and nutritional yeast
Earth’s Balance margarine and nutritional yeast
Peanut butter and jam
Almond butter and jam
Tofutti cream cheese
Hummus (hummus is a staple breakfast item in many Middle Eastern countries)

Vegan friendly cereal you can buy bulk at Costco and fruit
Many of the cereals at your local health food store, co-op or Whole Foods are vegan friendly but they are incredibly expensive, taste like cardboard, turn soggy after two bites, and are loaded with sugar. Just because something is labeled organic doesn’t mean it’s good. Also, take time to skim the ingredients list if you are going the vegan route. Many manufacturers add non-fat dry milk or whey to their cereals.

Old favorites:
Cheerios (I don’t know how you can have a kid and not have this item in your house)
Raisin Bran
Rice/Corn/Wheat Chex
Grape Nuts
Rice Crispies

Soygurt
Soygurt, the soy equivalent to yogurt, is a breakfast favorite in my family. Calla and Lennon love it so much that I can’t feed it to one without feeding it to the other. After trying every brand on the market, I’ve decided Whole Soy has the best consistency and flavors.

Serve:
straight out of the carton
with cut up bananas added to the carton
parfait style with bananas or fruit and granola or grape nuts sprinkled on top

Vegan Frozen Waffles and ?
Frozen waffles aren’t the healthiest items for breakfast but they are quick and require no prep time. I like the Van’s no dairy, eggs or wheat version because they taste like a waffle and provide a nice alternative for parents who need an allergy-free product.

Top with:
maple syrup (of course!)
margarine and jam
homemade cinnamon applesauce
peanut butter and jam
fresh seasonal fruit

Homemade Oatmeal
Even when you are in a time crunch there is no reason to eat gummy gloppy instant oatmeal. To make homemade oatmeal, add soymilk, thick cut oats, cinnamon, honey and dried fruit or chopped apples into a cast iron pan (for added iron). Heat until it boils and then drop to a low simmer. Cover and adjust the soymilk to desired thickness. We like our oatmeal thicker and add soymilk to the individual portions. My father likes to make his oatmeal without sugar and then lets everyone add spoonfuls of brown sugar to their own bowl. Total cook time is 5-10 minutes.

Add:
raisins, dried currants, dried cherries
bananas
chopped apples

Smoothies (See July smoothie post)
They take 5 minutes to make and the food burying possibilities are huge.

Breakfast and some forethought
Baking, cooking and prep work are easily done the night before when you are actually awake and have time. If you are feeling inspired to bake or you are tired of the items above, try creating something during the evening or on the weekend for the coming week. I do some of my best baking at 9:00 p.m. at night. Quick breads, muffins and pancakes can be made and frozen for future breakfasts and snacks.

What are your favorite quick breakfasts? Feel free to add them to the list.

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