low waste valentine’s day

 

Valentines zero waste

Disclaimer: I’m really not into holidays much- I grew up with a mom who was a Jehovah’s Witness so we never celebrated them.  Therefore, it’s not something I have strong connections with- no nostalgia, memories, or traditions tied in.  I know this sounds really ascetic and miserly, but it wasn’t and I’m actually really grateful, because I don’t feel pressure to participate in what I feel can tend to be overly materialistic aspects of holidays.  It’s pretty freeing to just spend time with family and give small and meaningful gifts from the heart as I feel inspired to, instead of on a specific date set in place by capitalistic white patriarchy:  I love the quote from that article- “practically everything in every store you walk into has some sort of Valentine’s Day limited edition, overpriced junk. Rational people ransack the joints, and leave with packages of third world manufactured festivity supplies that will tomorrow find their way to third world landfills. Sentiments, probably born in some gray cubicle, are expressed in cards written by someone else, somewhere else.”  Anyways….I’m not really an expert on holidays so forgive my mistakes if I overlook aspects of them.

Zero waste kids valentines

At Carmela’s school, they exchange valentines.  I can’t control what things are given to her, but I can control what we give out.  I volunteered to make the cookies for their class party so that they were healthy-ish and not bought in plastic from Costco as has happened in the past.  She makes her own valentines every year, from recycled materials such as brown paper bags, the backside of once used paper, old wrapping paper, even pretty chocolate bar wrappers we’ve cut up and used.

Valentines

Gold foil from chocolate make a great decoration to cut out too.  For paste, I do an easy homemade flour and water paste– its messy and it doesn’t hold up forever but it’s fun and biodegradable.  Be careful to find out if any kids in the class have gluten sensitivities if you use it since it does have flour.

Zero waste valentines

As little favors to go with the Valentine’s in lieu of plastic toys or candies, we made some candied orange peels with the leftover peels from local organic navel oranges we ate.  They’re really easy- just basically peel, slice into thin strips and then boil in simple syrup- this recipe works great.  I dip in melted chocolate after.  A good quick option would be bulk candy in a little paper bag or diy envelope/pouch.  We are also adding in little “treasures”- a marble, bit of sea glass, crystal, shell, pretty rock, dried flower, bead- I’ve found that younger kids really love these things and they can be free things you’ve found or repurposed.

Shells treasures beach

I attach the Valentines to the paper pouch with a bit of biodegradable jute twine.  One year, we gave sunflower seed packets and they were a hit, too.

orange peel candy

For the cookies, the teacher requested I make the same ones I made for their Christmas party, which are these Hot for Food gingerbread cookies.  I’ll cut them into hearts and add a little beet juice or cranberry powder to the icing for a natural pink. You could probably sub chilled coconut oil for the vegan butter but one of the kids in the class has an allergy.  I bring them in on one big plate and the teacher uses compostable paper napkins to serve (the school has a worm compost in their garden!)

valentines

If you’re thinking about giving flowers to someone, I’d suggest a gorgeous living plant instead to bring joy and life into your loved ones’ space for much longer and its so much more environmentally friendly.  Or homegrown flowers!

orchid

Plus, who isn’t obsessed with plants?  From a little succulent to a big handsome fiddle leaf fig, there’s an option for everyone.  Orchids are beautiful and the blooms last several months, and can keep blooming for years.  Below is a monstera that my husband gave me a couple years ago.  Since then I’ve propagated and divided it into a couple new plants, given a few away to others, and it’s brought me joy every day.

Monstera

If you can, choose fair trade and organic chocolate or ideally, buy locally if possible.  If you’re in Sacramento, Ginger Elizabeth’s is delicious and really nice about putting stuff in your own container.  You can also DIY this 5 minute chocolate bark from the archives that is infinitely customizable and looks like a million bucks.

chocolate bark vegan pomegranate superfood

For cards, personally I always appreciate getting a handmade card or even just a piece of pretty paper with heartfelt words rather than a premade card with a regurgitated message and signature.  I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel loved and appreciated to receive a lovely note, poem, etc.  A wonderful gift on Valentines is a book that celebrates self love- like Rupi Kaurs Milk and Honey + The Sun and Her Flowers.

zero Waste wrapping

However you celebrate or don’t celebrate this February 14th, I hope you have a wonderful day and bask in your self love.  If you get a teddy bear and unethical chocolate and lingerie and red roses and a hallmark card it’s ok too.  It’s wonderful to be alive and I love you all xx

what my vegan 9 year old ate today

Vegan kids

Hello!  When I posted what my vegan 5 year old eats in a day about Vin, you guys really enjoyed it and asked for more posts like this.  I love helping you out with easy ideas for healthy vegan meals and honestly I love reading these types of posts from others too!  It’s so fun to sneak a peek at other peoples meals, fridges, skincare products, routines, etc right?  Or is it just me?

Anyways, here’s what Carmela ate today.  I plugged in all her food to Cronometer and she’s getting above and beyond all the essentials that people worry about on a vegan diet like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, lysine, and omega 3s.  I just focus on whole plant foods + making sure to get the all important flax, chia, hemp, walnuts, and sesame seeds into her diet every day.  I supplement with vitamin D and B12 +  the rest naturally falls into place thanks to plants.

9:00 am:  It’s still winter break for us and the kids and I have been sleeping in and enjoying the luxury of lazy mornings.  We woke up, brushed teeth, made beds, and read a little bit before we even got started on breakfast.  Just like I do, Carmela has a glass of water right after she brushes her teeth + before anything else.  Then I gave her a dose of vitamin D and B12 spray (the only 2 supplements we use).

10:00 am:  Then the kids went out and picked tangerines from our tree to juice.  Carmela cut them in half while Vin juiced them.  We also made porridge (our usual recipe + a teaspoon of almond extract) with blackberries and cranberries.  She had a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses too (plant based iron + calcium).

vegan kid porridge berries tangerine juice omega chiaProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

11:30 pm:  before we biked over to my Grandma’s house, she had a snack of a large banana, a handful of roasted peanuts, and a couple big gooey medjool dates.

healthy vegan kids banana snack

12:30:  We got back and everybody was hungry for lunch.  I heated up some leftover pinto bean and kale stew and brown rice, then topped with avocado.  Leftovers are just the best.

kale Pinto bean stew brown rice avocado vegan kid

2:00 pm:  the kids had been playing outside with their friends (thankful to have a lot of other kids who live on our block) and when they came in, had a snack of some green olives (we buy these from the olive bar in our own jar).

olives vegan kids zero waste

4 pm:  playing monopoly and having some leftover latkes with homemade applesauce.

latke vegan gluten free oil free

6:00 pm:  for dinner we had this arame, cabbage, and tahini slaw wrapped inside homemade flour tortillas with avocado.  Tahini and cabbage are great sources of plant based calcium.  Seaweed is high in iodine, iron, and calcium too.  She had 2 large wraps!

cabbage seaweed vegan four tortilla zero waste avocado

7:45 pm:  she told me she had a “sweet tooth” so I made her a snack of sliced granny smith apple with almond butter, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs.  I forgot to get a pic here, sorry.

Thanks so much for reading!  I hope this is useful for you guys- please let me know if you’d also like to see a what I eat in a day style post for me or Joel (my husband).  All my love!

xx Amanda

what my vegan 5 year old eats in a day

I thought it would be fun to take you guys through a day of eating for Vin- my 5 year old babe.  I get a lot of questions about vegan diets for kids, what I feed them, supplements, and package free kids snacks so I hope this post helps out.  A lot of parents in my real life seem concerned when I mention that my kids eat vegan, a flicker of confusion and worry fleeting across their face- and I don’t blame them!  I used to be that person.  There’s A LOT of misinformation out there and malnutrition horror stories.  The way we do it is focusing on WHOLE, PLANT foods that are dense in nutrients and making sure to get plenty of healthy fats and omegas in diet, plus a few well chosen supplements.

Not meaning to come off bragg-y, but honestly my kids hardly ever get sick, even when others at school are often chronically so.  When my daughter was small and she ate dairy, she would get chronically sick for weeks and end up with ear infections, etc.  I’ve noticed that as we transitioned to zero waste and cut out packaged snacks, drinks, juices, faux “meat”  and “cheese”, and otherwise non-whole foods, they got sick even less.  Both my kids are super healthy and happy, in both my opinion and their pediatricians’.

That being said, here’s what Vin’s day of eating looked like:

7:30 am: wake up, cuddle, get up + get dressed, head out to the kitchen and I make him a warm glass of lemon water just like I have every morning.  He drinks it and then I give him the only 2 supplements any of us take: vitamin B-12 + vitamin D sublingual sprays.  Currently we use the Garden of Life brand because they came in a paper box and I thought they were glass bottles, but they’re plastic actually 😦 and Garden of Life was just bought by Nestle.  ugh….if anyone has recommendations for these two let me know.

B12 is essential and it’s not just a vegan issue…many omnivores are also deficient in this vitamin that gets made in your gut by bacteria.  So I supplement just in case.  Vitamin D I only give in the winter…your body makes it on your skin from the sun, so in summer we have plenty.  Even though we live in a sunny climate, we don’t expose enough skin to the sun to get adequate production in winter and it’s super important for hormonal and bone health.

vitamin b 12 sub lingual

7:45 am: breakfast porridge (here’s the recipe) which is chock full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including omega 3s ESSENTIAL for brain health, especially for kids.  Today I made it with half quinoa and half oats, plus shredded apples, walnuts, ginger, cinnamon, and blackstrap molasses.

quinoa porridge breakfast walnut omega 3 kid

10 am:  he asked for a snack, so while we were playing UNO he had this Granny Smith apple with cashew butter- mixed with cinnamon, a dash of maple syrup + cacao nibs for a little crunch.

Cashew butter apple vegan kid snack

 

12:15 pm:  lunchtime!  He had a veggie sandwich with hummus, avocado, vegan mayo, pumpkin seeds, cucumber, roasted bell pepper, red leaf lettuce, red wine vinegar, s+p on fresh ciabatta.  A side of stevia sweetened dark chocolate and a tangerine from our tree for dessert.

plant based family kid sandwichProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

2:30 pm:  he woke up from his nap and told me he wanted something crunchy while he was coloring to take to the park so we did carrots, walnuts, almonds, apple + a glass of homemade chocolate hemp seed milk.

Vegan kid snack walnut apple carrot omega 3

healthy kid snack

4 pm:  he had 3 or 4 small tangerines from our tree while he was in the backyard.

5 pm:  dinner!  This simple red lentil coconut soup with brown basmati rice + a side of sautéed spinach with lemon, garlic, and toasted sesame seeds.

Red lentil curry coconut soup ottolenghi vegan kidsProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

 

I’m writing this up right before dinner, but I’m sure after dinner he will have has favorite dessert at the moment: one or two medal dates stuffed with tahini and coconut flakes.  So good, a healthy sweet treat, and dates/tahini are full of minerals and fiber.

That’s it!  My kids essentially eat the same thing as us and it’s so much easier on everyone this way. Everyone eats healthy and everyone loves it.  Hope you guys enjoyed this little peek!

xx Amanda

 

vin’s super-seed breakfast porridge

Kids vegan cook

I know it seems boring to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, but hear me out- it’s really the best thing ever.  Not only do I not have to think about what to throw together when I can barely peel open my bleary eyes (I’m decidedly NOT a morning person), I also get in so much nutrition for my kids in one fell swoop.  Vin usually makes this with my supervision too, so win-win there.

Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts are my non negotiable foods that I get into my kids diets EVERY single day.  Why?  Plant based omegas, calcium, other minerals, and brain boosting fats.  That’s why I add them all to the morning porridge- because then I don’t have to worry about it later.  It’s our whole food vitamin “supplement” for them, along with an after school fruit and veggie smoothie.

In one serving of this porridge (not even counting the fruit/optional extras), there’s: 73% fiber, 42% iron, 20% calcium, 50% zinc, 14% protein, and 7.2 grams of omega-3’s.  PLANTS are everything.

chia coconut flax hemp seeds oat porridge

The fat + fiber + carbs combo keeps tummies nice and full so they’re not hungry at school. Plus, it’s nice to get a warming meal in their belly in before they have to go outside on cold mornings.

We vary the toppings so every day is different and we never get bored:

-always a seasonal fruit or two: banana, berries, kiwi, mango, peach, apple, persimmon,prunes, plum, pear, etc

– sometimes add flavorings like almond or vanilla extract, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, chai spice, turmeric, pumpkin purée

-sometimes cook with nut milk instead of water for a creamier porridge

– sometimes add nut butters: coconut, cashew, almond, peanut, chocolate hazelnut

-sometimes do 1/2 and 1/2 quinoa + oats

-always add a sweetener: chopped dates, golden raisins, stevia, maple syrup, molasses or raw Demerara sugar

healthy vegan kids porridge omega 3 breakfast

vin’s super-seed breakfast porridge (2 large servings)

for the base:

1 cup oats

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup shredded coconut

3 cups water or nut milk or both

for the toppings (per each bowl):

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

fruit of your choice

sweetener of your choice

method:

Place the oats, chia, and coconut in a small pot. Whisk in the 3 cups water and bring to a boil while you whisk (so the chia doesn’t clump).  Turn down to medium low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and chia seeds are plumped, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and divide between 2 bowls.  Top with your desired toppings and eat!

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

zero waste halloween

IMG_2150

This is the story of how we survived Halloween with 2 kids, no waste and still had a fantastic time in the process.

I always struggled with the idea of Halloween.  I love the costumes and energy of all the kids coming together in our small friendly neighborhood.  However, I always felt guilty about the waste; the hoards of candy that we accumulated to give, the massive amount we received, the amount my kids ate, the amount that went in the trash afterwards.  It just seemed like a ridiculous idea to me: go out and ask for candy that I didn’t even want from people who used their money to buy it, just to trash/donate it afterwards- a wasteful futile lifecycle.

Other parents commiserated with me.  Really, no one wants their kids eating that much candy- most people I talked to said they let their kids eat as much as they wanted that night and then trashed or donated the rest.  Personally, I don’t agree with teaching kids to gorge and binge on candy that night- I try to foster a healthy relationship with food in our house.  Plus, I don’t want my kids eating any of that cr*p.  Whether you are vegan or not, I think we can all agree that the candy ingredients are the scariest part of Halloween.  High fructose corn syrup, palm oil, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and flavors!!!  Spooky stuff.  Donating the candy seems like a good idea, but honestly I don’t believe anyone should be eating this unhealthy “food”.  Taking the candy also supports the companies behind it- big companies like Nestle who aren’t sustainable, fair trade, or socially/environmentally responsible.  ALSO all that individually wrapped, plastic candy creates SO. MUCH. TRASH.

I wanted to share our  waste free Halloween alternatives this year to hopefully inspire you for next year. To show you that YES, not creating trash on Halloween is totally doable, even with kids.  And even if you make one small change or even just file this information in the back of your head for later, it will be so worth it.

  1. Pumpkins: instead of carving pumpkins, I buy the sugar pie pumpkins and let the kids paint them.  After Halloween, instead of trashing them, I peel the skin off and use them in pies, roasted, in smoothies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, etc.  If you do carve pumpkins, COMPOST it after Halloween instead of trashing it!  Food waste in the landfill creates methane gas which pollutes our air.
  2. Costumes: I always use what we have to make costumes OR buy a thrift store costume.  It is environmentally friendly, cheap, and unique.  This year, my daughter was a night fairy with an all black outfit, glitter and stars on her face, and wings someone gave us.  Vin was Spongebob (a $3 costume we found at Thrift Town).  Other ideas: host a costume swap with friends, or check on Freecycle or Craigslist in your area.  In the U.S., we spend $3.4 BILLION DOLLARS on new costumes every year, with most of them being thrown away after Halloween.  If you do buy a costume, be responsible and give it away to a friend, someone in your community, sell it online, or donate to a thrift store after Halloween.
  3. Trick or Treating: This year, in lieu of trick or treating for candy, my kids collected donations for UNICEF which supports and defends kids in need worldwide.  We got the little orange donation boxes via school, but you can get one from UNICEF or download a DIY form from their site.  This year we collected almost $60!  Doing so teaches my kids to care about others and emphasizes giving rather than getting.  This is a normal thing in my neighborhood and mostly everyone is prepared with change to give.  Some people aren’t prepared or interested in giving and that’s ok!  I talked with the kids about this earlier so they were prepared for this.  Some people still snuck a candy to Vin (mostly old people).  I avoided this as much as possible by going up to the door with him to make sure.  We ended up with 5 pieces of candy that I gave back to the neighbor kids.
  4. Giving out candy:  If you’ll be at home giving out candy, consider using bulk candy or these amazing Alter Eco truffles which have a compostable wrapper.  Theres a lady in our neighborhood who gives out tangerines with little spooky faces drawn on them with Sharpie too and the kids love them!
  5. Alternative Treats:  Instead of candy, my kids picked out treats ahead of time to enjoy after trick or treating was over.  They chose these raw lemon bars and bulk candy they chose from the store that we bought in our own bag.  My friend brought over carrot cake whoopie pies too.  They were really excited for this, and I was happy to let them indulge in these healthier treats made with real whole food ingredients.
  6. Parties:  If you are going to a Halloween party, be sure to bring your own cup!  My neighbors host a party every year where Solo cups are the norm.  I bring my mason jar to enjoy the drinks waste free.  If you are hosting the party, consider using reusables and doing bulk candy instead of the individually wrapped stuff.
  7. Decorations:  Use things you already have, or buy them at the thrift store and save them to use year after year.  There are so many decorations you can find in November that are donated after Halloween.  Pumpkins, gourds, squashes, are all festive and either edible and/or compostable.

To be honest, I was a little worried the kids wouldn’t have as much fun this year .   I was imagining an ascetic, miserly affair.  We actually ended up having loads more fun.  The kids were so excited to raise money for UNICEF in their little orange boxes.  We met up with kids in our neighborhood plus a few of our friends.  We got a lot of positive comments from people at the door and other parents.  Afterwards, our friends came back to our house with us and we all shared and enjoyed treats and chili.  Carmela excitedly counted all the money we had raised (about $60 total!) and we played and talked for a few hours before bed.  We had a lovely time together, ending up with MEMORIES instead of THINGS.  It felt so good to live our values, to teach our kids to stick to what you believe in, even when it is totally different from what others are doing.  Here’s to new traditions with much more fun, love, compassion, and a lighter footprint on our gorgeous planet.