Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is one of my favorite holidays.  It always has been, even before there was a man in my life.  My mom always made Valentine's Day special for us growing up.  She would buy us little gifts that were always fun and meaningful.  My mom is very compassionate and has always been a great gift giver.  Since my primary love language is gifts I obviously appreciated this holiday very much.

I remember in college I was working Valentine's Day at Buffalo Wild Wings (pre-vegan days) and my mom popped in with the biggest bag of goodies.  All night long my co-workers and I had a blast with the "make your own man" and conversation hearts. 

Commercially Valentine's Day is always about a significant other (boyfriend, spouse, etc) but for me it is about love in general.  Love for my mom, my whole family, and of course Mr. Kummerow.  I can't wait to show you my wonderful dinner from last night...but I am not blogging from home and therefore do not have my main camera with me.  So those images will have to wait.  While you are anxiously anticipating a fabulous recipe from dinner last night, I want to share with you a little Q&A session. 

A good friend of mine who lives in Vegas messaged me with a very important question...and as I began sending her a reply, I thought this might be a good topic to address on the blog.  So here goes:

From Shanna:


I have a few questions for you. I have been switching Austin [her son]and my diets over to organic and more healthy. I am trying to cut out chemicals and other stuff. I have been reading your blogs and wondering how hard or dangerous it would be for me to switch our diet habits over to vegan. I don't know much about it but I do know it is better than what we were getting. I cant find stores out here that have organic and or vegan. So I was wondering if you knew of any place on line that delivers or by chance if i just have not looked hard enough out here. Sorry I am asking a lot. Austin's Dr. says to change his diet to organic, vegan or anything that does not have chemicals and dyes in it. He loves almond milk and some other stuff but there are some things that he won't touch. Any ideas on making things taste better for him? Oh sorry there I go again with tons of questions. Any help would be great. Thank you and I miss you and love you.

Shanna, I agree there are a lot of questions here, but I am so excited you have reached out to me and while I might not fit in all the answers in this post, I will try my best.  Honestly, I wish I could just take you to the grocery store and walk through the aisles with you to show you how easy it can be. 

First, I believe it is completely safe and very beneficial to change to a vegan (plant-based) diet, even for children.  I just watched the documentary Food Matters and it reaffirmed all my beliefs in how a healthy diet can prevent illness from even occurring.  I believe that is the reason you are searching for a new diet because if I remember correctly Austin does get sick quite a bit.  I really believe that an organic and vegan diet can really help if not completely change his immune system! 

When you begin to shop for organic foods you are going to realize you are spending a lot more money on food.  This is difficult to swallow.  The important thing is to place your priority on health and by purchasing organic foods realize that you will spend less on health care in the long run and therefore are saving money.  Most large chain grocery stores have their own brands and their own organic brands and those will help save you money.  Mr. Kummerow and I recently have been switching everything over to organic as well.  I still struggle with things like cleaners, while food comes a lot easier.  However, because our skin is our largest organ it is even more important to be concerned about organic soaps, lotions, and cleaners; things that enter our bodies through our skin.  Organic food is important to reduce your intake of genetically modified foods and harmful pesticides and ingredients.

I did look and I know that Vegas has Trader Joe's as well as Whole Foods which are two of my favorite places to shop.  Trader Joe's is less expensive but doesn't have a ton of vegan options.  You just have to get really good at reading labels.  Some foods might not be labeled "vegan" but if you look at the list of ingredients it will say allergen warnings and list eggs, milk and/or dairy if it contains these items.  It will also say "may contain" and list other items.  I am picky about the allergen warnings, but am flexible on the "may contain" part.  That basically means it is made in a facility that also makes products with those listed ingredients.  This would be important to follow if you have a severe allergy, but if you are cutting out foods for health reasons this may not be as important to you.  

Typically you can find foods at any grocery store that will fit into a plant-based diet.  Organic foods may be limited, especially organic fruits and vegetables.  Mr. Kummerow and I have an organic produce delivery service we use.  I did a quick search and didn't find anything similar to this in the Vegas area, but I did find a CSA.  Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to eat local, organic veggies and support your farmers.  Here is a link to the CSA in your area.  If you are not Shanna and you are reading this post, visit LocalHarvest.com to find a CSA near you.

When switching to a vegan diet I encourage you to eat as many whole foods as possible.  This means purchasing foods that are in their most basic form; how you would find them if you were to grow it yourself.  There are many varieties of vegan foods out there that aren't necessarily good for you.  Eating vegan and organic food that is highly processed and contains many additives and ingredients isn't really any better for you than eating the conventional junk.  So be leery about processed foods.

Also, as a vegan, I encourage you to eat a variety of foods.  That is the best way to get all of your essential nutrients.  Try to eat many different types of whole grains, proteins and vegetables.  For a list of ideas visit my post Vegan Foods.

For both of you but especially Austin, I highly recommend a vitamin supplement.  This isn't typically something I like or recommend, however I am finding it increasingly important to get all of your essential nutrients.  And I am also beginning to realize how difficult it is to get all of your nutrients in today's food, even if you are eating a whole foods plant-based diet.  The Almond Milk is really great because it is fortified with some vitamins and I love to hear that Austin likes it!  

As far as other foods to feed him that he will like, that is a hard one for me.  As I don't have children it is hard for me to know what he would or wouldn't like.  I babysit 3 kids and cook for them, and I have such a tough time finding things that they will like that are also healthy and easy to fix.  I am beginning to realize his can be quite the challenge and even I have been known to throw a frozen pizza in the oven and call it dinner because I am simply exhausted and have no creative energies.  If you want you can send me another message with some of his favorite foods (anyone is welcome to do this) and I will give you some ideas on how to "veganize" them.  In the meantime, I highly recommend some of these recipes:

Smoothies (trust me, once he tastes the green nonsense he will love it!)
Vegan Tacos made with black beans
Homemade pizzas (recipe coming soon)
Any of my Oatmeal Recipes

I also recommend these two blogs for ideas from mom's who eat organic, whole foods.  

This blog is all vegan and she has two young daughters who love the foods she creates.

This blogger is not vegan but she impressed me with two separate challenges.  The first was 100 Days of Real Food including only organic, whole foods.  The second challenge was to do another 100 days but on a budget to show that anyone can achieve these healthy principles.  While they still eat meat, they only buy organic, locally raised meat which is remarkable.  

Let me know if I can help in any other way!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Questions, comments?  Feel free to leave them here!

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