Make time for something crispy

Sometimes, I'm not just "in the mood" for super unhealthy, greasy, fried foods.

Sometimes, I actually NEED super unhealthy, greasy, fried foods.

But because I'm trying really hard to keep my arteries clog free, I try not to cave to these cravings every time they come around.

This is hard for me though, because I'm one of those eaters who thinks it's OK to have a few greasy or overly-indulgent bites every now and then.

The answer to my mega unhealthy cravings?

We make lazy zucchini.

It's pretty similar to fried zucchini, but this is a super low maintenance recipe for that delicious golden coin.

Lazy Zucchini
(Serves 4)
2 zucchinis
2 cups flour (we use whole wheat)
1/2 cup almond milk (but really any milk alternative should work)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Pour vegetable or canola oil into a skillet and heat on low-medium (I like to pour about 1/4 inch, I'll mention why later)
Pour two cups flour into a bowl or on a plate.
Cut zucchini into thin coins and lay on a plate.
Dip a zucchini coin into the milk alternative and then drop on flour, turning it over so a fine layer of flour/batter remains on it.
Drop into the oil and flip after cooking for a minute.

I personally like to use less oil to cook, which is why you have to flip the zucchini coins. This usually results in the loss of some flour batter, which in turn means a coating that's crispy and light, instead of greasy and heavy.

Yup, it's really THAT easy.
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When's the right time to have "the talk?" No ... not THAT one.

Normally, I'm a much bigger fan of winter than summer. While part of it is because my body is much more sweater-friendly than too-short shorts and string bikini styles, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I absolutely detest being hot. I'd pick teeth chattering cold over dripping sweat heat.

But the weather this week, has been nearly perfect. I consider any temperatures in the 50s to 60s to be the ultimate weather. You can shorts and long sleeves, short sleeves and pants and you throw on a few layers if you're feeling daring.

Pearyn seems to be enjoying the weather as much as I have. In addition to feeling a little more free in her thin leggings and flowy tops, we've started to go for long strolls around the neighborhood. Today we walked to a park and watched older kids play, geese chase smaller birds away from the man made lake and checked out a few creepy "art" pieces dotting the area. Pearyn was apparently made to be outside, because the second I strapped her into her stroller and started our trek she began babbling and giggling at everything.

In addition to loving the outdoors, Pearyn has become a huge fan of the kitchen and all things revolving around it. When she's not crawling into the dishwasher she's trying desperately to pull open cupboards or open the fridge. We decided to invest in some of the fridge magnets so that we could actually cook in our kitchen without a tiny pair of arms pulling at our pants leg or tackling some over-adventurous, non-kid approved feat.

We were a little torn when it came to picking out magnets, as there are very few selections when it comes to the Vtech learning kind. You can either pick the word spelling ones (even though they're only three-letter words they still seem a bit advanced for a nine month old), alphabet ones (which use phonics to introduce the letters -- something I'm not thrilled about because that's been rumored to hinder reading) and the farm animal kind. Now this may seem like a no brainer to most. It's a nine month old little girl who has no idea what the alphabet is or how to spell bat, but she does know that a cow "moos."

I went with the alphabet.

For some reason, putting the magnets of happy farm animals on our fridge just doesn't seem very vegan to me. It's no secret that very few farm animals live long, happy, kids book, picturesque lives, so it just seems like I'm feeding into the lie if I start putting up these seemingly happy future hamburgers on the fridge. I know I'm completely over analyzing things, if a cow is ever just a cow or a chicken just a chicken (not food, not a pet, not a sentient being), it's when you're nine months old. Regardless, it doesn't feel right.

At any rate, all this rambling is headed in a direction, I promise. I've started to battle with myself how we're going to teach our lifestyle to our little girl. Will we focus on the positive health benefits only until she's old enough to know the real horror (is anyone ever really "old enough" to hear about the cruel and downright inhumane treatment animals receive before becoming steak?)? Is it possible to introduce a tiny bit of the morale behind veganism without all the gore?

My mother is a big fan of the "health benefits" spiel, mainly because she doesn't think it's fair to teach a kid the horrors of the world so early. And while I can most definitely see where she's coming from, I worry that focusing on the "health benefits" won't be enough to get Pearyn through the tough times. Being a vegan at the age of 25 is still difficult, I can't imagine what it will be like for an eight year old in school.

It almost feels like you have to know the morals behind veganism, because those are really the foundation of the lifestyle. It has nothing to do with the many, many health perks of going animal-free, it's about being able to say you're an animal lover and not feeling like a hypocrite because you love some but eat others. It's about having a free conscience because you're not contributing to such an awful, icky industry. It's about so much more than just having clean arteries.

Unfortunately for Pearyn, we don't know what the right answers are to these questions. All we can do is experience them and learn from them together.


"Go home. We don't like people like you. Go to a doctor to be normal, you get this?"

I've been waiting for the right time to use this title. About a month ago my husband and I were watching one of the four million documentaries on John Lennon (he could probably tell you the exact one, who directed it, the exact minute this quote is used). During one of the scenes, Lennon and his wife were holding an infamous "bed-in" while reading letters of support, and well, just plain hatred.

It's completely mind boggling to me how much hatred someone could have for John Lennon. Wishing death upon him and saying things like "Go home. We don't like people like you. Go to a doctor to be normal, you get this?"

Some righteous, uptight, know-it-all person out there thought the best use of their time was to write a letter to one of the most peaceful people in the world, simply to tell him to "go see a doctor and get normal." You're busy writing hateful letters to pop stars and HE needs to go get normal?

Isn't it shocking how the people who preach nonviolence are always the victims of it? Here most of us spend our time mocking all those people with the strength to be different and not ashamed of it, and yet, we think we're the sane ones?

It's starting.

We fed our little girl tofu for the first time a few days ago. We let it soak in a trivial amount of low-sodium sauce to give it a little more flavor and then cut it up into tiny pieces to let her further develop her finger food skills. She absolutely loved it. I'm not sure if she really cared what it tasted like, but just enjoyed being able to chew something up. She kept making a "mmmm" sound and would screech until we put more on the tray (we tried to only put a few pieces down at once or else she'd shove them in her mouth, chew and forget to swallow).

Apparently though, there's something incredibly wrong and detrimental in our feeding Pearyn tofu. Well, at least a few women at the grocery store seem to think so. While having a conversation with a friend about what a momentous occasion this was to be giving my daughter more finger foods, two women decided to wait until I was off the phone to politely tell me what a terrible mother I was. "How on Earth could I think feeding my child processed 'beans' would be a substantial enough diet for a growing baby? Didn't I know she would die if she never took a drink of real, Vitamin D, milk or ate chicken nuggets? Growing babies need meat and milk and not -- God forbid -- beans, vegetables and fruits to grow strong."

It took everything in me to not throw out some "hormone riddled, dead carcass of an animal" caustic comment. Instead, I politely declined their opinions and informed them that the doctor was completely supportive and on board with our bean curd eating girl and walked away. I may or may not have mumbled something about how "processed" their precious grown in a third of the time, but two thirds the size of normal birds chicken nuggets were as I walked away though.

Seriously? I constantly receive flack for the choice to raise a vegan family, whether it's about my depriving my child of something, her being malnourished or it being "too weird" to be right.

The best part? I'm labeled the nut job. I'm minding my own business in the grocery store, I get told what a crappy mother I am by complete strangers, and yet, because I don't eat meat, dairy or anything of the sort, I'm the one pushing an agenda.

I can honestly say I've never walked up to someone in the grocery store and told them the horror stories about where their precious roast beef is coming from. I don't hang out in the dairy section waiting to tell some random bypasser who's just trying to pick up some milk about the nearly 15-20 year shortened life span of a dairy cow or how they wail for weeks, even months, for their babies that got taken away not even an hour after the gave birth. No. I just go about my business and head for the almond milk.

I realize that by being vegan, by being different, we signed ourselves up for this lifestyle and everything that goes along with it.

I also realize that every "group" of people has a few crazies, a few people who can't help but push buttons and get in people's faces ... whether you're a meat eater, a vegan, a Christian or a Buddhist, it's part of living in a society which encourages freedom of expression.

But next time, do me a favor. Quit assuming I'm automatically one of them just because I don't like to gnaw on a steak like "everyone else."

Boy, my tofu-eating, almond milk drinking, vegetable inhaling girl sure looks deprived and sickly, doesn't she?


Cue the music: We are family ...

There's just something about family that puts the pieces together.

Sure, it can be stressful. It can uproot you a bit. It can throw a wrench in your plans, spill juice on your carpet, spit up on your best dress and have a giant poo explosion 15 minutes into your road trip. But that's the thing about family. It doesn't matter how much they destroy in their path, as long as you're traveling it together.

Seeing Pearyn interact with her cousins is bittersweet. While watching them explore each other and a good part of our house together is incredibly humbling and amazing, it gets harder every time to see them leave. Having my brother and his family all the way in Missouri became a million times harder at about 5:25pm, May 10, the day Pearyn was born.

It's hard to know Pearyn won't spend her summers going to the movies with her cousins, playing hide and seek or running through a sprinkler. One of the best things my parents did for me as a child was moving to Ohio. I was lucky enough to spend my three months of freedom, in addition to holidays and some vacations, with three cousins on my father's side.

But because of the economy and workforce, it's just not plausible for all of us to be in the same borders. So now, it's up to us to build a family for our daughter. Between second cousins, great aunts, guideparents and friends, we'll slowly and carefully create a network for our little girl ... at least until we can give her a few siblings of her own or move closer to her twin cousin and rambunctious nephew (whichever comes first).

I think we've done a pretty good job so far, but we're far from finished. She still has an entire clan of T's to get to know on my husband's side, has a mess of playdates she still needs to go on and finding a few veg families wouldn't hurt. I want Pearyn to have influences from all different places, which is why it's important to get to know family, go on playdates with the kinds of kids she'll go to school with and find a few friends who will eat tofu just like her. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on ... even a nine month old.


Enjoying a campfire treat, sans campfire.

Ever crave something so overly sweet, rich and indulging that it borders on nauseating? This campfire pie stomps all over that "light dessert" line and treks into seriously, sinful chocolate pie territory. Enjoy. A lot.

Campfire Pie
(Serves eight ... or six if you're like me and cut really big pieces)
2 cups chocolate chips (I use enjoy life because they make me enjoy the hell out of it)
1 block (12 ounces) silken tofu
1 graham cracker pie crust
1/4 cup agave syrup (maple will work, I like the consistency of agave better)
Cinnamon to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
Ricemellow fluff to top

Melt chocolate chips over double boiler. (Don't have a double boiler? No big deal. Boil water in a medium pot and find a bowl -- we use our metal mixing bowls -- but any bowl that can withstand high heats will work fine, and place it over top the boiling water -- make sure it's not touching the water. You want the steam to heat the chocolate, not the actual water).
While melting, mix in syrup, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Once melted, remove from heat and blend tofu in with a hand mixer or stick blender. After mixture has a fluffy, pudding consistency, pour into pie crust and freeze for two hours.
Take out, top with marshmallow goo and enjoy. (Just not too much, this pie is REALLY rich).


We survived Icemaggeden 2011 -- even the expensive groceries

Well, Pearyn officially made it through the prematurely dubbed "Ice storm of the century" and her first power outage. Luckily, being almost nine months old, she had absolutely no idea what the big fuss was all about. In fact, I think she might have secretly enjoyed this little ice blizzard the skies bestowed upon us, as it made grocery store trips extra fun because there were far more people out to wave at her.

Because if you haven't figured it out, the world does revolve around my daughter -- or so she apparently thinks.

The power outage wasn't too bad this time around, mainly because it only lasted for about 3 hours total and only went out twice. My serious condolences go out to all those in Ohio who have been without power for three-plus days now (my grandmother and uncle included), it's certainly no cup of tea being cold, or not being able to make a cup of tea at that.

The first power outage my husband and I faced together was the windstorm of ... I don't know 2009 maybe? We lost power for an entire week in early September, which also meant we lost at least $100 worth of expensive vegan groceries. While this time around I was slightly fearful of freezing to death because it is the middle of winter, I was also a bit excited that we could just throw all of our crazy, overpriced veg foods in a cooler outside and not lose them. (See, even in the eyes of chilly, cold death I'm still worried about losing money).

The downside to this power outage would have to be the fact that the roads were ridiculously messy, so we snacked on salads and a half can of garbanzo beans until my husband and his friend finally trekked the dangerous roads to get us some real food. The worst part about being vegan in an ice storm? The lack of variety in take out food. It's OK though, we ended up surviving on half-made chili fries and fake chicken patties.

In other firsts, Pearyn wore her first cloth diaper last week. We're still transitioning over from disposables to strictly cloth diapers (although I think we're going to keep her in a disposable at night because of how wonderfully long she sleeps, we're talking 10-11 hours). I've honestly surprised myself with how willing and excited I've been to use the cloth diapers, I always figured I was simply too lazy to commit. With week one down, I've discovered all my cloth-diapering mommy friends are right -- it's really NOT that bad. Plus some of the diapers are so cute it's really quite the incentive.

Sometimes all this new stuff can wear Pearyn out though, so she's been taking little "rest breaks" in the middle of all her crawling around and pulling up on stuff. She's actually getting really good at navigating between our sectional and giant round chair, she's even starting to push herself up into a standing position without holding onto things. Of course, she doesn't actual stand for long, two or three seconds at most, but I get little butterflies every time she does. She's seriously growing up.

In addition to cloth diapers, Pearyn has also spent the last week eating practically every flavor of "Little Puffs" we can get our hands on. After a playdate with some high school friends, we bought a couple containers for Pearyn and she's really getting the hang of feeding herself. Well, except sometimes she doesn't feel like working on her fine motor skills and decides to just stick her face on whatever surface the puffs are located at lick. This usually results in puffs everywhere but her mouth. Case in point:

So far, the little finger foods babies her age are starting to eat have all been safe for us as well. I have started to panic however, because with Pearyn eating different foods everyday, it means we're one day closer to alienation. I know that soon when I go on playdates and moms offer my child a cookie or a muffin, I'm going to have to ask if there's milk or egg in it. And when there is and I don't let Pearyn have one, I'm going to alienate us. I'm going to make us look weird or fruity because I'm worried over milk or eggs -- things most people don't consider cruel because an animal doesn't have to die.

All through pregnancy I've fought for our way of life and how healthy and normal it can be, and sometimes I wonder if I'm truly strong enough or ready for the battle. I know it shouldn't be a battle, but it will sometimes, with Pearyn, with myself and with a whole hoard of other people.

I'm just going to have to step up my mommy game.