Saturday, 28 December 2013

Merry Christmas

I know it's a little late, but Merry Christmas! I hope you've all had a wonderful time - I know we've been busy enjoying ourselves (as you might have noticed if you are an Instagram follower!). We've been off spending time with loved ones by the seaside and eating lots of yummy vegan food.


Small has also been enjoying herself - it's been nice that she's been able and old enough to share foods with us that have become a bit of a tradition with Mr B and I. We always have V Bites (Redwood's) faux roasts and 'pigs in blankets' at Christmas dinner, along with their 'cheese' selections and party items on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. I have to admit though, this year I've rather been defeated by wheat. I've been doing so well on a gluten free or REALLY low gluten diet recently, but for Christmas dinner ate some of the faux meat items that contain it. It's safe to say after spending the rest of the day ill and in pain it's a new years resolution never to stray again. It's just not worth it!
We also had lovely home made gluten free nut roast and lots of vegetables on the day!


We spent boxing day evening eating a wonderful meal at Tierra Kitchen in Lyme Regis. I've blogged about this place before, but they are a plant based vegetarian restaurant a few minutes walk from the seafront. Getting both a vegan and gluten free meal here is no problem, and they also have a great kids menu with vegan options.

I'll be back soon with my usual weekly posts and hope you all have a great new year!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Plant Based Eating

I mentioned in my Friday Food Fun post yesterday that I'd been following the Happy Herbivore meal plans for the last week, so I thought as well as showing you what Small's been eating that I'd show you what I've been eating too. I've flirted with wholefoods, plant based and oil free eating before when I've looked at the Mcdougall program - this isn't that different. I guess this time I've just enjoyed the recipes so much and having the shopping list from the meal plan makes everything so easy. There is no way I'm going to give this up! The meal plans are 1200 calories a day with the option to increase that if needed. They're also really easy to make both gluten and soy free if needed. I actually couldn't get everything I needed when doing my shopping - but this was only due to empty shelves and crazy shoppers near Christmas, not because the ingredients are hard to find so I made a few meals from the Happy Herbivore Light & Lean book that roughly fitted in with calories.
Honestly I've eaten some awesome food this past week and knowing it's good for me is an added bonus. I've been keeping clear of soy products too and using either Alpro Almond or Koko milk where needed. 

Nacho Salad Bowl

'Skinny' Mac n Cheese (made with pumpkin!)

Moroccan Stew

Wraps with Quinoa 'Taco Meat'

Smoked Cauliflower Soup & Spinach Hummus Sandwich

Carrot Cake Pancakes

 Portobello Mushroom 'Burgers' with Avocado & Sweet Potato Fries

Banana 'Eggnog'

Blueberry Spelt Muffins

Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal


Friday, 20 December 2013

Friday Food Fun

This week has been a little different when it comes to meal prep. Even though all three of us are vegan it can still mean 3 different meals are cooked as we all have separate requirements. I've really been trying to change this so it's easier. I adore the Happy Herbivore books so decided to give the meal plans a whirl and try gluten free, soya free, oil free plant based eating! I'm loving all the food and feel great. As I've been cooking from scratch for myself 3 times a day I've been adapting these meals so they are also suitable for the toddler by adding in healthy fats and a few ingredients here and there (like tofu) for her. It has actually worked out really well and I really want to keep it up! As usual, here is a selection of what she's been eating this week....

Sweet Potato & Pea Curry with Brown Rice

Lemon 'Chicken' & Noodles

'Carrot Cake' Spelt Pancakes

Tofu Potato Cakes with Hummus & Veggies

Blueberry Spelt Muffins

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Brown Rice

Portobello Mushroom 'Burger' with Avocado, Salsa & Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Family Fun - Geocaching with a Garmin Oregon 600

I have to admit, I had no idea what geocaching was until recently. Just in case you don't know I guess I should start out by explaining it all! It's described as a modern treasure hunting game by those who love it. The idea is actually pretty simple - people will put together and hide a small box or 'cache' often in woodland or somewhere you'd have a nice walk, then you use coordinates found on the internet and a gps (or smartphone) to find it. There are a few big geocaching websites out there, but since I was kindly sent a Garmin unit to try out I'll be focusing on Opencaching as it's the most simple to use.
 

We were sent a little geocaching kit which contained a gps and an 'Official Opencaching Kit' which contained everything we needed to get started and create our own cache to hide. I'll admit we've not done this yet as we wanted to get a bit more to grips with it all and find out what's normal to be left in a cache before we did this. The cache kit however is nice to have and contains a plastic box (about sandwich tub sized), pencil, log book, leaflet, geocoin, badge and lanyard for your gps. You can buy this kit bundled with an Etrex 10 or alone for about £20. I'm not sure I'd go to the expense of buying it separately, but in a bundle it's nice to have. We'll update you later on once we've made up our cache with the kit!


The gps I had to get to grips with was the Garmin Oregon 600. I won't go into much technical detail because you can find long in depth reviews like that elsewhere. It came boxed with a carabiner clip, usb cable, guides and the gps itself. Whilst it says it comes with a worldwide base map, it's important to note that you will have to buy or load additional maps onto the device as the whole town where I live wasn't even marked on the basemap, and even ones that were had no real detail at all. Whilst Garmin maps are available to download and buy on sd card they are really pricey (apart from the road navigation map at about £25) and cost between £100 and £200 which is a lot to spend after you've just paid a fair amount for the device (and other some brands come with them preinstalled). Luckily I was told about open street maps - if you have a look around on the net you'll find them compiled for gps and instructions on how to install them. Doing this has made my gps a million times more usable!

Once I'd wrangled with all that I took a look at Opencaching to find some caches relatively close to home to try out. Luckily the website is really easy to use and let's you filter the caches based on size, difficulty and terrain (which is great if it's an activity you plan to do with a toddler in tow!). It was really simple to transfer these to the device and once they are on there it has a special geocaching profile and they all appear easy to find in a menu. It's totally paperless geocaching so all the hints and clues are on the device too.



For my first outing I chose a cache in an area I knew relatively well and knew the terrain etc would be suitable. I won't give you any details about the cache as I don't want to spoil it for others, but I found the gps very easy to use and after a few minutes of head scratching once I reached the right coordinates found the cache. Small found this adventure quite exciting even if she didn't fully know what was going on. I think it' something she'd enjoy more when a little older, although it's great now too as we get an excuse to explore new places!

Disclaimer: I was provided with products to enable me to write this blog post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Royal Oak Tetbury

Earlier today we headed down to Tetbury to meet some lovely friends and to indulge in some tasty sounding vegan food we'd all heard about. It was really nice to be able to visit a traditional country pub and have vegan food as it's  something that just doesn't happen very often! The pub also has lovely looking overnight rooms, free parking and a lovely setting in the Cotswolds.
They had two vegan starters on their Sunday lunch menu. I had a 'Warm Salad of Artichokes, Sunblushed Tomatoes, Olives and Marinated Tofu in Herb Crust with Saffron Dressing'.


For mains I had a 'Herb & Pistachio Nut Roast with Roast Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables & Gravy'.


They were really helpful and able to provide half sized meals for the children in our group.


For desert I had a 'Vegan creme Brûlée' with some Booja Booja Hunky Punky Ice Cream which I shared with the toddler.

 
The pub has been recently renovated and is lovely and full of charm. We had a lovely table in their upstairs dining room and really great service. We had booked in advance and asked about their vegan options and were really helpful - they even have some vegan beers and wines on offer.
We ate from their Sunday lunch menu, but their regular menu has plenty of vegan options too. I'd definitely go back, like all places with yummy vegan food - I just wish it wasn't so far away!

Cutlery and Dinnerware for The Toddler

I've written before about the plates/ bowls/ spoons we loved to use for Small when she first started weaning but I've been thinking just lately about how her needs have changed now that she's almost 19 months old. Her independence has grown massively and she has been for quite some time a confident self feeder.
I don't find the plastic weaning spoons we used then any use now, but she does still use the Oxo Tot silicone feeding spoons we liked so much back then. In fact Oxo Tot is probably our favorite brand (and is the make of most of the plates/ bowls you see in my pictures).


My favorite items are probably the flippy snack cup, divided & training plates, fork & spoon set, baby blocks freezer storage pots and the small & large bowl set.



Now she's started using a spoon and fork the training plates are excellent and the high plastic rim around the outside helps her to pick up the food and stops it going everywhere.


I love the snack cup - we've brought a few of the Nuby ones in the past but this is the easiest for her to actually use. We use it for snacks like raisins and cereal and it stops some of the mess.
 I didn't really like the sippy cup set as I found the silicone valve inside starting to fall out inside during use after just a couple of uses. It does turn into a trainer cup though, so I'm holding onto those parts to give it a go when she's ready. 



Another brand which is working out well for us at the moment is the Anyway Up Cup's range. Until recently I've really struggled to get Small to stop using her Klean Kanteen baby bottles. I was hoping to be able to just move onto the Klean Kanteen sippy spout bottles which she'll drink water from, but it seems - not 'milk'. The 'Tweet' cups and the classic beakers have been great as they can go in the dishwasher, don't have any annoying detachable valves and most importantly Small enjoys drinking from them. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Baked Tofu Potato Cakes

This is one of those recipes that I've been making for ages but haven't got around to blogging about it yet. It's super simple, doesn't take too long to make and contains only nice wholefood ingredients. I always use all organic products if I can find them.
When I started out making these I'd usually fry them, but this didn't work out very well as they'd fall apart and end up greasy. Baking them means you get nice 'cookie' like bites that can be dipped.


Ingredients

250g peeled potato
100g smoked tofu
3 TSP fresh Parsley
Dash of pepper
Dash of Almond milk
2 TSP Non Dairy sunflower spread
4 TBSP Rice flour
A little oil for brushing



Pre heat oven to 200C.
Peel the potatoes, chop and boil on the stove for around 10 minutes until soft. Drain.
Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the oil) to the pan and using a potato masher combine everything well. You should be left with a very wet 'dough' like mixture.
Oil an oven tray. Shape balls from your 'dough' and press them flat onto the tray - I usually get four from the mixture.
Lightly brush or spray the potato cakes with oil and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Allow to cool, then serve.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday Foodstuff

Here we are again and it's Friday! Hope you've all had a fantastic week and have lots of fun planned for the weekend - here is a selection of what Small's been eating this week!

 Pine Nut Falafel Bites, Houmous, Olive Ciabatta and Wheaty Salami

Ella's Kitchen Lots of Lentils

Green Juice, 'Sausage' Panini and Carrot Cake from Burst (okay this was more Mr B and I than Small)

Homemade Bean Burgers, Soya Free Cheezly and Toast Fingers

Tofu Sausage, Toast with Low Salt Yeast Spread and Sweetcorn

Cheaty Toddler Risotto with Edamme, Quinoa & Nutritional Yeast

Organix Mighty Soups Hearty Root Veg & Beans

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Changes!

If you are a regular reader you might have noticed quite a few changes going on with the blog at the moment. I've been writing and developing this blog since 2009 and it itself has changed quite a bit since then - I'm now and wife and a mom and the topics of my posts reflect this.
This is why I decided to change the blog name to Vegan Family Living. I feel this much more accurately describes where I am at with life! I've thought long and hard about it, and it wasn't an easy decision to make - but I guess it was now or never.
Please bear with me whilst changes are being made to designs and layouts and look forward to a new improved wonder blog :)

Bean Burger Patties

I admit that before Small came along sometimes I would fall into the trap of relying too much on vegan convience food. It's all too easy (and readily available) to unbox some frozen veggie burgers or sausages and stick them in the oven - but now with a child to feed I was forced to rethink. You know what? I've really enjoyed 'getting back to basics' with vegan food and going down the more wholefoods and organic route. In fact, I try my very best to make sure that Small's diet is almost all organic - it might be a little bit more expensive, but so is vegan junk food only wholefoods are better for you!
This recipe is also gluten free, soya free & nut free. You may want to add more spice than I have stated in this recipe - the given amounts are what I've found to be right for my toddler (Mr B and I eat these too though!). Serve them on the side with veggies or make them up as burgers in buns.


Ingredients

Oil
2 Tins Red Kidney Beans
1 White Onion
2 Grated Carrots
1 Sweet Red Pepper 
3 Slices Gluten Free Bread - Blended into Crumbs (if gluten isn't an issue for you then regular bread works too!)
1 TSP Garlic Paste
1 TSP Corriander 
1 TSP Cumin
1 TSP Garam Masala 
Dash of Pepper 

Sprinkle of grated Vegan cheese (I've used soya free Cheezly) (optional)

Heat a large flat bottomed saucepan with a drizzle of oil. Turn your oven to 200C to preheat.
Chop onions, pepper and grate carrots. Add to the saucepan and sauté for around 5 minutes.
Add the spices, mix well and sauté for a further few minutes.
Drain and rinse your kidney beans and add them to the pan. Using a potato masher squash all the beans down.
Add the breadcrumbs and a dash more oil and combine everything until it sticks together. Take off the heat.
Spray a baking tray lightly with oil (or use baking paper). I usually divide the mixture into six and shape as round patties.
Pop in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Friday Foodstuffs

So here is the second installment of my new post I'll be doing every Friday with a selection of meals and snacks that Small has been eating that week. Don't forget I 'd love to see what your kids have been eating too! If you use Instagram use hashtags #vegantoddler and #matryoshkavegankids and we'll all be able to take a look.

'Creamy' Pasta with Peas

Veggie Sausages with Sweetcorn, Carrot & Parsnip Mash and Nutritional Yeast Gravy

Bear Fruit Leather snacks & Nakd Bars

Noodle Bowl with Tofu, Broccoli, Bean Sprouts & Mushrooms

Organix Mighty Meals Spinach Falafels in Beany Sauce

Nairn's Organic Oatcakes with Houmus and Veggie Sticks

Tofu Sausages with Parsnip and Carrot Mash

Dairy Free Yoghurt with Raisins

Fruit and Vegetable smoothie pouches

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

It's Time For The Potty

I'll admit it - I'm wandering into the idea of 'potty training' pretty unprepared and slightly clueless. I haven't read any books, much information on the web and only asked the advice of one or two twitter friends. It might sound crazy but my plan is to do what I've learnt to do since becoming a mother and trust my intuition. You know.... go with the flow?
I heard about Elimination Communication whilst I was still pregnant and kind of dismissed it as a step too far and not right for our family. At that point I didn't have much of an opinion on potty training, though I'll say that a lot of my attitudes about parenting have changed since Small was born. I never imagined I'd end up co sleeping or babywearing, but they happened as I wanted to be the kind of parent to respond to my child's needs (I also don't think these things are needed to be a responsive or 'attachment' parent but they were right for my child's needs - all children are different!). All I knew about potty training is that I didn't want a 4 or 5 year old still in nappies as often happens these days.


Once she turned 18 months and I knew she was physically capable I started to think about what my plan was going to be. Brief reading suggests I'm a little late to the EC method and if I'd have wanted to introduce it, it should have been a few months ago - however I'd say I'm pretty good with her signals and since we've had a potty in the house I've caught the majority of 'number two's'.
So here's the thing - I know I need to teach her about her own bodily functions. She comes into the bathroom with me and I explain to her what I'm doing. She's also mostly worn cloth nappies but since starting I've specifically been using the brand we have with no 'stay dry' fabric so she can feel when she has been.
My plan? I've been dabbling for a few weeks but I have just accepted that I need to be consistent. I've ordered some Close Parent training pants (we liked their cloth nappies) and as soon as they arrive I'm going to say goodbye to nappies during the daytime. This might seem a pretty radical thing to do - but I know she's aware of it as soon as she's dirtied her nappy and hates being in it then so much she tries (and often succeeds!) in removing it. I feel that she's ready.... you know... intuition? I'll let you know how we get on with this new part of the parenting journey!