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Friday, February 14, 2014

Vegan Pregnancy: Second Trimester and Beyond

It's been a long time since I've posted...blame the hormones! The good news is that I survived pregnancy and have a healthy, (mostly) happy baby girl. Since the last post on vegan pregnancy, I ended up switching brands on all my supplements, ventured into the world of maternity clothes and dealt with the lack of vegan food options during a hospital stay (didn't get to have the natural birth I wanted due to baby's positioning).

I switched to Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin after realizing I was having a reaction to the chamomile in the Deva brand prenatal. I really like the Rainbow Light multivitamin and am still taking now, since I'm breastfeeding. It's coated, so it's easier to swallow than other similarly large pills. I also like that it's a food-based vitamin. Doesn't have a weird taste either.

For the DHA, I currently take Ovega-3, which is actually is an EPA and DHA combination supplement. Reason for the switch? It's more economical to take one Ovega-3 rather than two of the DHA pills I was taking before.

Also, I have been taking alfalfa tablets since the third trimester. It was highly recommend by the group of midwives I was seeing to reduce postpartum bleeding. I also read somewhere (sorry, no link) that it fortifies breastmilk, so I'm continuing to take it. Only the tablets are vegan. I was unable to find alfalfa in vegetable-based capsules. You should be cautious when taking alfalfa tablets as a vegan though! It's basically like taking fiber pills.....you get the idea.

As for maternity clothes, it's not hard to find vegan items. The only non-vegan item I encountered was wool coats, and there are probably some wool maternity sweaters out there too. I never bought a maternity coat because one coat I already owned miraculously fit all the way through pregnancy, and I even wore it to the hospital on baby's birth day. If you don't mind the "puffy" down-alternative style coats, they can work well in pregnancy if they are short enough and have elastic to adjust the size. All my long coats didn't fit around my bump, but I occasionally wore them unbuttoned (weather permitting).

Surprisingly, some of my favorite clothes weren't maternity clothes. Jersey knit shirts easily stretch over a growing baby bump and snap back into shape in the wash. As for actual maternity shirts, those with ruching on the sides will fit throughout pregnancy depending on the brand and shirt material. Yoga pants are probably your best friend in pregnancy, but if you need to look presentable, I recommend wearing full panel jeans or pants late in pregnancy or skirts with a wide, soft, stretchy waistband. In the first half of pregnancy, the hair tie trick does wonders.

If you want to be more environmentally friendly in purchasing maternity clothes or want to save money, then buying secondhand is worth considering. I even found used maternity clothes online (at thredUP), but I didn't like everything I bought. Some clothes didn't fit right, and some items didn't look as good on me as I was hoping, so definitely use caution if going the online route. That being said, I did really like a few of the items I bought, including a black dress and a gray hoodie.

If you're lucky, you might have a secondhand store nearby that sells maternity or have a friend/family member that wears the same size who will let you borrow their maternity clothes. For anyone in the Lawrence, KS area, Doodlebugs  is a great option. It's a babies/kids store, but they also sell some maternity clothes.

Feel free to leave me your vegan pregnancy questions, and I'll try my best to answer them!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Classic Macaroni Salad

I first tried deli macaroni salad when I was a toddler, and I've loved it ever since! It's a little sweet, a little tangy and full of crunchy diced veggies. Macaroni salad always makes me think of summer — it's a perfect side dish to go with sandwiches, veggie burgers or other cookout fare.

I first published a macaroni salad recipe back in 2009 (Gluten-Free Macaroni Salad), and now I'm bringing it back with a few flavor tweaks. This time I used elbow-macaroni that's made with Jerusalem artichoke, but you can make this dish gluten-free by substituting gluten-free pasta such as rice, quinoa or corn. I also changed up the veggies and the dressing a little...totally delicious!

Classic Macaroni Salad
Serves 6-8

8 oz. elbow macaroni (I used De Boles)
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vegan sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
a pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup each of diced red bell pepper, diced red onion, diced celery and chopped pickles (I used bread 'n' butter pickles)

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the mayo, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small bowl. After pasta is done, drain thoroughly and transfer to an appropriately-sized serving bowl. Add the dressing and the veggies to the pasta and mix until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple hours before serving.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vegan Pregnancy: First Trimester

If that title doesn't make it totally clear, yep, I'm having a vegan baby :-) And if anyone has been wondering where I've been for so long, I simply have been taking a break from the blog. Mostly because my stomach has been so fickle...I can't even imagine trying to develop new recipes right now. But what I can share is some of the vegan-friendly resources I've discovered during these first few months of pregnancy!

One of my first pregnancy-related purchases was DEVA Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin & Mineral. I like their regular multivitamin, so I figured the prenatals are probably good too. Nutritionally, they have you covered on pretty much everything except DHA. Unfortunately, they're not the most pleasant vitamins to take. They are not coated like the multivitamins, so they are not as easy to swallow. In fact, sometimes they'll get stuck in the back of my mouth because they've started to dissolve and get sticky. The taste is a little funky too. Like many prenatal vitamins, they can also make nausea/morning sickness worse. I don't blame DEVA though -- It's a common problem with taking prenatal vitamins. I've found that taking them with the largest meal of the day seems to help a lot with the nausea.

If anyone knows of a better vegan prenatal multivitamin (must be coated), please let me know in the comments. These were the only vegan prenatal vitamins I could find locally (I prefer not to order online unless I really need something), but I'm open to other brands if there's something better out there.

During my first prenatal appointment at the birth center, I was told to start taking DHA as well. I couldn't find a lot of vegan DHA options locally, but the NOW Foods brand was affordable and is vegetarian/vegan. So far so good! These "softgels" are fairly small and easy to swallow. No weird taste. I would definitely recommend them.

(My disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or dietician. These are just the supplements I am taking in addition to my usual vitamin B12 supplement. Ask your doctor/midwife/dietician/nutritionist if you have any questions about which supplements to take.)

And finally, The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, LD, FADA has been a handy resource for vegan-related pregnancy concerns. While it doesn't go into a lot of details about body changes or cover week by week development, I do think it's worth adding your personal library. No one pregnancy book is going to have everything (I have a stack of pregnancy books!), but I do find myself referring to this one often for the nutritional information.

Other good sources for vegan pregnancy nutrition info:

Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, RD, and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD
Vegan for Life by Jack Norris, RD, and Virginia Messina, MPH, RD

Websites / online articles:
Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet
Vegetarian Diets for Pregnancy

Please feel free to share any other resources in the comments!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

BBQ Tofu Scramble

I absolutely love barbecue sauce! Even when I ate meat (a looooong time ago), I really just liked the sauce. These days I will dip fries in it or make vegan barbecue sandwiches (see BBQ Sandwiches Two Ways), or order vegan barbecue pizza to get my fix.

On one of my recent shopping trips, I picked up some hickory-smoked tofu without thinking twice. I really had no idea what to do with it until yesterday, when I decided a smoky tofu scramble sounded really good. Then I thought it should be a barbecue tofu scramble...and I took a peek through the fridge to see what would go well. Luckily, I had some frozen corn, onions, and mushrooms on hand, and today this scramble was born.

Notes:  If you can't find smoked tofu, try adding smoked salt instead of regular or add some liquid smoke. This recipe is gluten-free as long as you choose a gf barbecue sauce and use a gf tortilla if making a wrap.

BBQ Tofu Scramble
Serves 2-4

1 small onion (any kind is fine), diced
1/2 lb. white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups corn (I used frozen)
1 lb. smoked tofu, drained and crumbled into bite-sized chunks
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
cayenne, to taste (optional)
vegan barbecue sauce (such as Organicville — I used half a bottle of their Original BBQ Sauce)
neutral-flavored oil, such as canola, for cooking

Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat with a little bit of oil. (I highly recommend using a cast-iron skillet if you have one.) Once the skillet is nice and hot, throw in the onion and saute until translucent. Reduce the heat to medium. Next, add the mushrooms, corn and tofu and continue to cook another 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated through.

Add salt, pepper, cayenne (if you like a little heat) and enough barbecue sauce to coat everything. Stir until scramble is evenly coated with sauce and continue to cook another minute or two until the sauce is hot. Serve with additional barbecue sauce or hot sauce, if desired. Serve it as a main dish, side dish, or wrap the scramble in a tortilla for a BBQ breakfast burrito.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chipotle Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

Don't worry! I haven't abandoned my blog...it's just been a while. I haven't had anything to post, since I've been busy with the holidays and have been spending time enjoying my new cookbooks. It never matters how many cookbooks I already have...I will always buy more ;-)

I've been craving both hummus and black-eyed peas for a while now, so I thought it would be an awesome idea to combine the two...and awesome it IS! It's a little spicy, a little smoky and a little nutty (from the tahini). It's everything I've ever wanted in a dip, and my hubby agrees.

I've seen a few different methods for getting a nice creamy hummus, but this is the only way that really works for me. Using a food processor to puree the peas before adding any liquids helps make the hummus nice and smooth. If you don't have a food processor, a blender will probably do. I like thick hummus, but you can add a little water to thin it if needed, although it might dilute the flavor. Be sure to store the hummus in the fridge and use it up within a week.

Chipotle Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
Makes about 4 cups

3 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or use two 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed)
2 large chipotle peppers (I used canned chipotle en adobo), seeds removed and minced
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a pinch of cayenne, or more to taste (optional)
2/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil 
a small handful of cilantro leaves (stems can get stringy, so I wouldn't recommend adding them)
smoked paprika for garnish

Place black-eyed peas, chipotle peppers, garlic, sea salt, cumin and cayenne in a food processor. Process until smooth, pushing down the sides with a spatula as needed. Add tahini, lemon juice and olive oil to food processor and process until smooth. Add cilantro leaves and process until cilantro is chopped and mixed in but not totally pureed. Store hummus in the fridge until ready to serve and sprinkle with smoked paprika just before serving.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Herbed Mushroom Pâté

I have been obsessed lately with finding the perfect vegan pâté recipe. I used to buy mushroom pâté at World Market, but the brand I liked no longer seems to be available. Although there are vegan pâté recipes galore, I really wanted to create my own recipe using similar ingredients to the pâté I used to buy and herbs that specifically complement the mushroom flavor.

This pâté is really easy to make and is great for dipping. I like to serve it with Ritz-style round crackers.The truffle oil gives it a really strong, mushroom-y flavor. However, after a couple days, the truffle flavor mellows and lets the herbs shine through.

Herbed Mushroom Pâté
Makes about 3 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
10 oz. cremini mushrooms
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1 small potato, peeled, diced and cooked until soft (boiled or steamed)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon truffle oil
1 tablespoon red wine
1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos (or tamari)
black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, saute onion for a few minutes until it is soft. Add mushrooms, tarragon and dill, then continue to cook until mushrooms expunge their juices. Remove from heat. Combine mushroom mixture and remaining ingredients except parsley in a food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Add the parsley and pulse a few times to mix in parsley). Spread pâté into an appropriately-sized dish and chill for 2 hours before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve with crackers.


Monday, October 8, 2012

TLT Salad with Caramelized Onions

One of the weird parts about being vegan is that I find vegan versions of things to be better than the original. For example, bacon and ranch dressing were things I didn't care for as an omnivore, but now I LOVE the vegan versions! This salad was inspired by my love for tempeh "bacon," and it makes a great lunch salad (like I had today). Is it healthy? Many would say "no." Is it delicious? Oh YES!

The amounts listed for each ingredient are estimated based on what I put in today's salad but feel free to use whatever amounts suit you.

TLT Salad with Caramelized Onions
Serves 1-2

1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 long strips of tempeh bacon (prepackaged or homemade), coarsely chopped
oil for cooking
about 4-5 large leaves of red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
ranch dressing (I like Follow Your Heart's vegan ranch)
1 medium tomato, cut into quarters or bite-sized chunks

Heat a skillet with a reasonable amount of oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for around 5 minutes until onions are starting to brown. Add the tempeh and cook for a few more minutes until the tempeh pieces are browned and a little crispy. Now assemble the salad: place lettuce in bowl, top with dressing, tomato chunks and finally, the onion-tempeh mixture. Best enjoyed right away while the onions and tempeh are still warm.