Introducing our Chubby Vegan Son ... Literally

Despite my transgressions and rants that our Chubby Vegan Son wouldn't EVER arrive (hey, in my defense I did go 8 days overdue), he made his beautiful, giant way into the world at 10:47 a.m. Friday, December 28.

Did I mention all 10 lbs, 3.2oz and 22 inches of him came screaming into the world?

Yeah. When this mother thinks she's going to have a big baby, she's going to have a big baby dang it. He is amazing, handsome, beautiful, healthy and oh so vocal. And did I mention beautiful? I know, I know, every mother thinks their precious baby is the most beautiful, perfect creature in the world (probably because most of them are), but I fell so in love with this little boy the minute they laid him on my chest I can't believe I ever doubted how I could love two. 

Despite being more than a week overdue, when labor started it really wasn't what I expected. I still wasn't convinced. I went to the doctor Thursday morning to discover that I was 4 cm dilated and really, really "ready," so our doctor did the whole membrane stripping fun and told us it was a matter of days. 

What he meant was hours, because as later that night (not even 12 hours later) I found myself sitting in bed really, really uncomfortable. My husband kept asking me if it was the night, but I insisted it wasn't. I even fell asleep for a good hour or more until the contractions and all their glory started at 2 a.m. 

We dropped our daughter off with my parents and hauled to the hospital, where after two hours of walking we determined I was in labor and we got admitted by 6 a.m. Just under five hours later we were a family of four. 

You may remember my sinking suspicion that our baby was big. Or my fear of him wreaking havoc on my lady parts. The good news is, not much havoc was wreaked, even less than my daughter, surprisingly. I will say this much about a 10 lb baby vs my two-pound less daughter; there was still A LOT of pushing to do once the head was through. In fact, I even asked if he seemed to be big after I finished said head pushing, only to find my husband, midwife and nurse all staring at each other, saying nothing.

Turns out, he kind of was. 

Needless to say, he's an absolute doll. I can hardly wait to love him more every day and see what kind of personality he brings to the mix. 

Our family is utterly joyed to introduce the latest member of the Chubby Vegan Clan, Braeburn Abbot.

You also might like:
My chubby vegan pregnancy: the sequel
Vegan Pregnancy the sequel: the homestretch


Happy Holidays from the Chubby Vegan Clan

It's Christmas Eve, so I figure what better time to wish everyone else out there a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, if you want to be politically correct) from our family to yours.

And to answer the question that is on everyone's mind (or at least most of your emails have entailed), I was due December 20 and if you're curious whether or not we have welcomed Baby B into the family by now, this photo was taken this morning!

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear the Chubby Vegan Son will be making a Christmas appearance. This basically equates to a very tired, very giant, very trying-not-to-be crabby ass mommy! Between my heartburn, the stabby pains and me not being able to do anything without having a contraction, it's safe to say this little bundle of joy is overstaying his uterus welcome.

On a positive note, at least he'll be nearly a whole year old next year and able to really dig into some gifts from Santa!


Five things I want to do as a mommy of ONE

Sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the back aches, the stretch marks, the weight gain and the leaky boobs that you forget what is really going to happen when you finally go into labor.

Practically the minute you hit 37 weeks it seems like labor can't come soon enough. Your baby is officially "fully" cooked, you're a mere three weeks away from your due date and as far as you can tell everything is pointing towards you meeting your baby really, really soon. 

And then a few weeks go by and you STILL haven't had that baby. And everyone keeps asking you if you've had the baby yet, how close you are, when you'll be induced or even why you haven't. 

Don't forget the unsolicited advice. The things about walking for miles on miles, drinking witch doctor teas and shoving oils and all sorts of other things up your lady parts. Oh and don't forget to eat pineapple, drink castor oil and inhale spicy food. I'm all for tips, particularly when I ask for them, but it seems like everyone under the sun has become more informed about what's going to put me into labor than my doctors. 

It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement. Between the aches, pains and anticipation of meeting your new baby, it's easy to forget about all the other things that come along with having a new baby. The new routine. The uprooted lifestyle. The change in pace. The lack of pace. The constant change. The breastfeeding. The no sleep. The guilt. The exhaustion. The diapers. The doctors appointments. The healing. The torn up body. The emotions. 

Oh, the emotions. 

So for as excited as I am to meet our new addition, I think I'm going to quit wishing on every last star that he'll get here by Christmas. He'll come when he's ready and when he does it will be right.

Until then, I'm going to spend these last few moments, days, weeks as a mother of just one darling, smart, challenging, beautiful little girl. I'm going to cherish what's left of our life as a family of three, the way I should have been. There are still five things that I have on my to-do list, before I'll feel like I've fairly given every last piece of me as a mother of one to my daughter. 

For starters, I want to go to brunch, dinner, lunch, whatever one more time as a family of three. I want to go and let Pearyn pick whatever her heart desires of the menu, I want to parade her around and enjoy the peace of being able to go out to eat with one screaming, tantrum-throwing child instead of two. 

And once we've done that, I want to go somewhere completely and utterly sporadic. Just because we can. I want to go somewhere without a big, bulky diaper bag filled with goops and creams, I want to be able to throw a few necessities in my purse and just go somewhere, last minute, without a plan, because when you have a toddler, you can get away with those kinds of things. 

I want to sleep in the big, giant king-sized bed in our bedroom and snuggle with our little girl all night long. I want to fall asleep with half my body going numb and in a puddle of drool because she can't go to sleep without cuddling. I want to wake up to her sweet little face telling me good morning and that it's light outside, which means it's time to play. 

And because that's not good enough, I want one more day to dedicate to her. It doesn't matter what we do, whether we watch the same four Scooby Doo reruns over and over again or she drives me bonkers playing and spilling water while I try to take a bath. I want her to put her hands on my stomach and tell me that when Baby B gets here, she'll teach him how to crawl and she'll changes his poopy diapers. I want her to grab her hand away quickly and giggle that he kicked her, only to respond by pinching my stomach and telling me that she just got his "biscuit." 

I need more time to let her know that even though it's just been us these last few years, having a sibling isn't going to take away from any and every thing. It will be different, but that doesn't mean it will be bad. And one day, she might even thank us for bringing a new kind of love into her life. 

Most of all though, I need enough time for me to know that, for me to be OK with that.


So there's progress ... and then there's stabby lady part pains

Here's the good news.

I had a doctors appointment today (39 weeks, holy moly!) and all the stabby, knife-to-my-lady-parts pains and aches have actually been well warranted, I'm dilated 2-3 cm, completely thinned out and Baby B's head is about as low as it can get without actually being born.

Yay, all these crazy feelings and pressure haven't just been completely in my head (or my nether regions for that matter)!

Oh and I lost my mucus plug (yum!), that was confirmed at my doctors appointment after peeing in the cup for the 100th time. (Ahh the mucus plug, the pregnancy gift that keeps on giving).

Here's the bad news.

In the land of pregnancy, this really doesn't mean a whole lot. Sure, I'm excited that my body is getting a head start on all the gross realities of labor, but ultimately, this doesn't mean that I'm any more likely to have this big ole' baby boy tonight vs two weeks from now. (Much to the dismay of my very excited friends, all waiting to be the "call" I make when I'm in said labor).

I know, I know, perhaps I sound a bit like a negative Nelly, but my daughter Pearyn is full-on proof that dilation doesn't really mean a whole lot unless it's a big number and accompanied by actual regular contractions. On my actual due date with her I wasn't even a fingertip dilated, I was high, closed and no where near thinning out.

Five days and 10 cms later my little girl was a member of the outside world.

So see, you can go from no signs of labor to actually having said child in your arms in the matter of five days.

I'm going to try and not get my hopes up. With all the issues I've faced this pregnancy, I kind of had this odd feeling that he'd be early. In fact, I didn't even entertain the idea that I'd still be giant, bitchy, grumpy pregnant once Christmas rolled around. And now, I'm finding it to be an all-too-real reality.

I'm going to anticipate a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day baby, mainly because I was there for my nephew's birth nearly five years ago this Christmas Eve. Not only did I get peed on by the birthday boy himself, I was there to hold my sister-in-law's leg and watch her and my brother become parents.

So I figure since our daughter's already share a birthday (like same day, year and 15 minutes apart), our boys might as well share the date. That and Baby B needs to release some sort of bodily fluid on her, for payback.

In other news, I've been baking a lot of muffins in preparation for his arrival. From protein pumpkin ones to apple oat, I want to make sure we have something little, something semi-healthy and something my daughter will devour in the event I don't feel like cooking for months after his birth. I tackled six different dozens the other night and will hope to freeze some breakfast biscuits before he makes his debut as well.

Although, if he decides to come in the next five minutes I'm OK with that too.

We've gotten his diaper bag ready, a diaper bag I didn't even plan on having I should mention. We were planning on using the one we used with our daughter, and just carting around double the stuff for two kids.

Well thanks to my chatty mother who made friends with an incredibly talented and creative woman in Georgia (one with a sweet spot for sons because of her own), she graciously asked my mother if she could send us a "little something."

Our little something arrived over a week ago and included an AWESOME crochet diaper bag (complete with tons of pockets), a blanket AND a hat. I highly suggest you look her up on Facebook at Laurel's Creative Creations, not only are her things super unique, they're SO well made. I can't wait to cart all of Baby B's stuff around in my one-of-a-kind diaper bag.

We also took the annual Chubby Vegan Clan Christmas photo, I haven't mailed them out yet, so you'll have to settle for a few outtakes instead. Needless to say, our little Pearyn did NOT want to cooperate.

So let's hear it ladies, with one week until my due date and Christmas closing in, how on Earth am I going to get this little guy on the move?


Christmas threw up in our house and other chubby vegan tales

I'm starting to think that I either need to blog every single day or I should just start every blog entry off like this.

No, Baby B has not made his appearance and yes, I am so "past" ready for him to be here.

Although I guess I'm not technically, 100% ready if I really, really think about it. I'm trying to take these last few weeks I have left and dedicate them to all things Pearyn. The guilt of spoiling our happy little threesome existence hasn't really gone away, if anything, it's multiplied because every time I utter "I'm sooooooooooo ready for him to be here," I feel like I'm unhinging my daughter's life and our happy, estrogen-filled bubble.

I mean, it'll pass, eventually, right?

That or I'll just be so sleep deprived I won't be able to remember what I'm feeling guilty about?

Now that we got it out of the way, let me extend an extreme amount of gratitude for all of the concern and stories you've shared with me whether in email or comments regarding our daughter's stomach issues.

I can't begin to explain how reassuring it is to know that first, I'm not crazy for getting worked up over poop (or the backing up of it) and second, to hear that of the children who have gone through this type of thing, many have grown out of it.

 Despite her healthy, fiber-filled diet, the doctor recommended we introduce either an "aid" to her morning juice daily (ie: a mild laxative) or we could give some probiotics a whirl. After reading ridiculously positive reviews about Good Belly (a dairy-free, vegan juice with an awesome probiotic strand in it), we decided to give it a shot, only, in a daily, four-ounce increment instead of the eight-ounce recommended for adults.

And so far, knock on wood, our little girl is crazy regular and hasn't complained of a cramp since. I don't know if it's the Good Belly or just her stomach and intestines having a good week, but I'll buy this juice for the rest of my life if it helps her not wake up screaming and writhing in pain.

In other news, Christmas has not only visited the Chubby Vegan household, it's throw up ALL over it. We've got these Christmas village taking over every flat surface our house has to offer (from television stands to DVD racks to side tables).

 There are stockings, lights and our Christmas tree could never, ever be mistaken for one of those fancy catalog ones. It's covered in big, bordering on gaudy strands of lights, glittery bulbs and kiddie-themed ornaments.

We've got snow globes of every size, playing music and an advent calendar filled with vegan treats and chocolates. And lest we forget the Minnie Mouse doorknocker, the Minnie and Mickey window clings and the festive Minnie and Mickey plush dolls that just sit around looking all sorts of Christmas.

Tonight we're going to tackle homemade Christmas ornaments to hand out as something little and personal that Pearyn was able to do (we plan on letting her paint them), they're made from corn starch and baking soda, so I'm really hoping they turn out.

We'll probably watch something holiday-themed too, which despite not having cable, ABC Family or Lifetime hasn't been as hard as we thought it would be! Between our Roku and Blu Ray player we've had no problem streaming our fair share of Christmas movies and cartoons for Pearyn.

Eventually, there will probably be Christmas cookies made and if I get the energy, muffins galore to prepare for the baby's arrival.

Because what is better that carbs, sugar and a little fruit for good measure?


Why we spent our Chubby Vegan Thanksgiving in the ER

No, unfortunately, it wasn't because I was having my gigantic baby boy. Although, we are technically three days away from FULL term, so in three glorious days it will be time for all of us to hope this little boy decides to at the very least be on time, if not a week or few days early. I'm an impatient, uncomfortable mama and this little boy has been trying to get out of me via the movie "Aliens" style  for the last month.

Seriously, do you remember those old cartoons where Daffy Duck and Wiley Coyote would get bonked over the head and they'd push the bump in, only to make another one appear? And then they push that one in and like three more smaller ones protrude out? That's kind of what this baby feels like these days. He sticks his little foot out my side and I push it back in ... which gets rid of the foot problem, but only leads to him sticking his butt up and getting rid of my belly button or a jutting knee somewhere else uncomfortable.

Basically, the last month of my pregnancy is cartoon-like.

Back to the real story here though, the reason we spent Chubby Vegan Thanksgiving 2012 in the emergency room and why my husband is never allowed to take two consecutive days off from work EVER again.

Let's start with Thanksgiving eve. For once, we had gotten off our butts and prepped for our big carb-filled, probably-too-sweet feast the night before. Chubby Vegan Dad peeled all the potatoes for me (something I'm petrified to do because I'm convinced I'll peel my finger off), I had them boiled and assembled in their dishes, simply awaiting further baking or garnish the next morning. I got every last bit of our dessert assembled (and boy was it cute!) and we had finally prepared enough the night before to be able to wake up leisurely the next day and not have to cook everything off. The only thing we had left was the stuffing, the easy, easy stuffing.

Right before we went to bed that night Pearyn started complaining of a burning sensation when she peed. You may remember last year's debacle where we found ourselves wrist deep in pee and fully enlightened on the topic of toddler bladder infections. Of course being the "glass is probably half empty when it comes to sickness around the holidays" that I am, I assumed it was a bladder infection and gave the doctor on call a quick ring. He told me to go ahead and look for any external reasons it would be hurting and sure enough, our little girl was a little red. So we treated her redness and for the next 18 hours, Pear didn't have anything else to say on the topic.

I thought we were in the clear.

Thanksgiving day was pleasant. We got to my parents house early (thanks to all that prepping the night before) and we seriously gobbled up some Gardein turkey cutlets (I was too lazy and giant, crabby pregnant to tackle making our own seitan roast this year), some sage and brown butter mashed potatoes, a sweet potato casserole (complete with candied pecans and vegan marshmallows), stuffing and roasted lemon broccoli. We even had a chance to try the perfectly set-up pumpkin pudding pie "lust" cake. (Recipes to come later this week). It was pretty much magical. Chubby Vegan Dad watched some football and Pearyn even laid down for a nap, with ease.

I should have known something bad was headed our way.

Pearyn woke up from her nap on the less-than-angelic side, in fact, she was downright pissy. It only took about 10 minutes for her to start wailing and clawing at her stomach, which of course set off the "crap, she does have a UTI" alarm in me. I spent the next hour or so feeling like the worst mother in the world (something that happens more than I'd like). After deeming her inconsolable, we packed up and headed to the emergency room, because it was Thanksgiving and there was no where in the world that was open. And the last thing I wanted to do was wait around a whole night for this to get worse.

They collected a urine sample, they took her temperature, they pushed all around her stomach and a few hours later we found out, there was no bladder infection.

But there was another partial blockage in her intestines.

ANOTHER blockage, because the one we faced in Hilton Head during the great cantaloupe-induced samonella poisoning of 2012 wasn't enough.

I should have known better. I should have seen the signs. She acted in the exact same manner as she did the night we rushed her to the hospital in Hilton Head, scared to death that she was having an attack of appendicitis or something else every parent dreads.

Instead, she had a bunch of poop stuck in her intestines. AGAIN. Of course, she hadn't had any loose stools and even had a completely normal bowel movement not even 12 hours earlier that day, so how she got blocked up is beyond me.

How a two-and-a-half-year-old child that eats better than most adults (sorry guys, she eats better than even Chubby Vegan Dad and I) can end up with another blockage is baffling to me. It's so baffling, that it's keeping me up at night. She gets plenty of fiber. She drinks water (although we are pushing more of this), almond milk and a very limited amount of juice a day. She eats edamame, fruits, peanut butter sandwiches and prefers broccoli to chocolate bars.

I know children that live off of a diet of goldfish crackers and chocolate milk, or worse, McDonald's  How the heck is SHE getting backed up?

So far the only answer we've been provided with is "it can be common in children this age, until the age of five even." But after having a doctor tell us that in young girls, UTI's can be incredibly common as well and then finding out that meant 8 out of 100 (which I don't know about you but doesn't sound very common to me), I'm left racking my brain at night trying to figure out what to do for her.

She's not normally like this, she's had battles with small stomach bugs that have left her unscathed, in fact, you could hardly tell anything was even bugging her, so for something to be making her lash out this violently and scratching at her stomach, waking up in the middle of a sound sleep crying "ow my stomach hurts, make it stop." it makes me worry.

We have an appointment to talk with her doctor about things, I'm hoping at the very least if we don't get some sort of answer we at least get some help in the right direction.

All I know is that I can't bear to see her feel like this anymore and to be honest, I'm not sure how much more of it this sleep-deprived, zombie-of-a-mom can handle either, without snapping on the whole world.


Starting a new tradition this holiday season

Despite the whole being vegan, having tattoos and living a generally alternative lifestyle, our little family is actually quite traditional when it comes to how we do things.

The day Pearyn was born we read Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss. It didn't matter that we had been up for more than 24 hours and spent 18 of them laboring, it didn't matter that we had hardly anything to eat and were getting used to being parents, we decided before our little girl arrived that we would always, always read this story to her on her birthday, even when she's 16 and hates us, we will read this story to her. 

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

And regardless of what we've had on our plates, whether it was planning a double birthday bash or traveling three hours for a wedding, we have read those words, that story, to our little girl every year now since she was born.

We're the kind of family that albeit a bit oddball, we really like our traditions.

Even when Pearyn was still in the womb, couldn't even hear yet and we had no idea that she was, in fact, a "Pearyn," we started our tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas as a family on, you guessed it, the night before Christmas. 

When Pearyn finally became a member of our family in the outside world capacity, I still remember sitting in the rocking chair in her room and reading the same book we bought the year before to her. It didn't matter that she was wiggly, had no idea what we were saying and that we were sharing our roof with my brother, sister-in-law and their two kids, we upheld our tradition.

And now, because Pearyn is finally old enough to start getting excited about Christmas and understanding the concept of naughty and nice, we've introduced another tradition to our family this year.

It's official, we're "those" kind of people now, the kind that drive cars with little stick family figures on the back and the kind that fell into the Elf on the Shelf trap. In our defense, it's not actually a trap, it's the most adorable little kit that contains a little elf and a book that talks about what this elf's duty is. 

Long story short, you inform your kids that this magical elf appears during the holiday times (for us it will be Thanksgiving eve) and flies back to the North Pole at night to tell Santa whether or not the kids in the family have been good. Then, the magical little elf flies back home before morning light so the little ones can wake up and hunt for where their elf friend is hiding.

I know, it sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but watching Pear read through the book and pick a name for her very own elf, Emma, was more than worth the money we've spent and the mockery we'll probably take from some people out there. 

I realize our traditions aren't the most original, which you probably wouldn't expect from a family that seems so different in every other aspect.

I've learned a lot over the years, namely though, I've learned that being original just for the sake of it doesn't make you original, it makes you fake. And traditions don't have to be unique to every family, they just have to mean something special to yours.

And now, I'm going to waddle my giant pregnant self out to the living room and find somewhere magical for Emma to wake up tomorrow, because I can hardly wait to see the look on Pearyn's face when she realizes the next tradition she's in store for. 


Five things you never, ever say to a pregnant woman

With five magical weeks left until this little boy makes his appearance (hopefully, this mama would really like a baby for Christmas), the pregnancy hormones or maybe just the regular Chubby Vegan Mom hormones are in full gear now.

That and it's basically obvious to the entire world that I'm pregnant. There's no more wondering whether I'm just fat or hosting a little parasite in my body, everyone I come into contact realizes I'm about to bring a kid into this world.

Now, I'm not sure if it's just me reading into things too much, but it seems like once this time comes in pregnancy, once the general populous can conclude easily that I'm with child, it's exactly at this time that the absurd comments and questions start coming in. Most of them very open, proud and downright slap-worthy.

So in the event you're about to cross paths with a very pregnant me, or any woman for that matter, let me give you a few tips on how you can avoid getting your head bitten off by keeping your mouth shut.

No. 1: "Wow, you look like you're ready to pop!" Seriously, it doesn't matter if I'm as big as a cow, overdue by 90 days and carrying 14 babies in my uterus, there is never, ever an appropriate time to tell a woman she looks like she's about to pop. Do you know what that translates to in girl language? "Wow, you're freaking gigantic, is that really the baby or have you just been eating too many donuts?"

Not to mention you can rarely tell when a woman is about to pop. And heaven forbid you say something like this to a woman who still has a month or more to go, because NO WOMAN wants to be reminded first, that she is in fact swollen and huge, and second, that she still has more than a month to go. Just safe face by saying "You look great, how much time do you have to go?" Even if you both know it's a complete and utter lie, at least for one second she'll think you meant it.

No. 2: "Wow, you look so tiny, are you sure you're due in XX weeks?" I realize that based on number one, this might seem like a safe bet. Not only are you not insinuating that the pregnant woman is as big as a house, you're even asking her how long she has left. Here's the thing though. When it comes to weight, you usually can't make a pregnant woman happy.

There are those on the thicker side who are envious of all those tiny pregnant ladies, the ones who wear their pre-baby jeans home from the hospital, meanwhile, there are those tiny pregnant women who want nothing more than to be as big as a house so that the whole wide world can tell they're pregnant BEFORE they're actually popping. To be on the safe side, just tell the mom-to-be what a cute bump she has and ask her how close she is to the big day!

No. 3: I think this probably goes without saying, but if you even think of uttering the words "Oh, you're pregnant? You really shouldn't have that coffee/chocolate bar/sushi roll/McDonald's Cheeseburger/tofu" just be prepared to get punched. Really, really hard. Most of us pregnant women have doctors. And most of our doctors are doing a great job of telling us what we should and shouldn't be having. So unless you're about to tell me the veggie hot dog I'm about to devour is laced with hemlock, do yourself a big favor and just shut your mouth.

Being pregnant is hard enough. We spend half the day thinking about all the terrible things we've probably done to the fetus this far (Why did I have that margarita the day after he was conceived, did I really need to eat that entire box of Oreos?), we don't need you to do it too.

No. 4:  Oh you're having a baby? My mom's, sister's, best friend's, dog walker's, aunt's, great cousin's, niece-twice-removed actually lost her entire vagina during the procedure (or insert your favorite incredibly unrealistic medical meltdown in here). I don't know what it is, but when people find out you're pregnant it seems like they want to scare the hell out of you.

Do you know what hasn't happened to me when I tell people I plan on birthing in a natural center? Not one person has ever said "Oh, childbirth wasn't that bad, it hurt a little, but it's worth it in the end. I'm sure you'll do great!"

Do you know what has happened to me on numerous, numerous occasions (even after already birthing one child and being pregnant with my second? "OH MY GOD you're going to die! You know women die in childbirth right? It's supposed to be the most painful thing on Earth. Your poor vagina. Do you think you'll be able to do it? I know five women who have split their pelvic bones and lost all their stomach muscles from giving birth."

Seriously, QUIT scaring the pregnant lady, we're already scared enough. Once you become pregnant you realize how much has to go right in order for you to bring this lovely little being into the world. We're scared nearly every day that something is going to go awry, so don't remind us that in the 18 hours of labor prior to meeting our bundle of joy something terrible could happen too.

Just DON'T.

No. 5: And lastly, the absolute, guaranteed-to-have-your-face-ripped-off inducing statement you could ever make to a pregnant woman would have to be "You haven't had that baby yet?" (Especially if said pregnant woman is even one minute past her due date). Trust me, all of us pregnant women know that D-day is just an estimation, it's not a deadline or eviction date for the baby. But that doesn't stop us from hoping. It doesn't stop our stretched out uterus and baby-addled brain from hoping, praying and nearly convincing ourselves that our little bundle of joy is going to come into the world on that exact day.

So when we end up being a little overdue and you think you're being cute or supportive by asking us if we've had that baby yet, don't be surprised if we reply with a snarky "yes, I did and I'm miraculously nine months pregnant ALL over again" or "yes I did, just carrying around some extra baby weight!"

Seriously, if a pregnant woman is even 10 second overdue, just don't say anything. Just bring her a cupcake and tell her she's pretty.


Vegan pregnancy the sequel: the homestretch

I don't actually know if I'm really in "the homestretch" of this pregnancy. With just a little more than five weeks to go until I reach my due date, I feel like the fact that we've made it through more than 34 weeks now means we're close enough to call it the homestretch.

Just over five weeks to go!
I'm really, really hoping I don't go two weeks past due. I'm totally willing to let this little boy hang out until he's fully cooked and ready, but judging by his estimated size in all the ultrasounds we've had (which I know they can be a little off) AND the sore spots he leaves along my tummy, this seriously not-so-little guy is packing a punch.

Because I had placental issues in the middle of this pregnancy, we've had a few more ultrasounds with this one than with Pearyn. And at every single ultrasound, this baby boy has measured at least three weeks ahead  in the weight department.

Pearyn wasn't a small baby by any means, she was five days late and nearly eight-and-a-half pounds. If this guy goes late, I have a feeling my lady parts won't be recovering any time soon. Isn't it funny how now matter what you call them, lady parts, vagina, hoo-ha, it still makes most people uncomfortable?

Speaking of my lady parts, I've had some followers checking in to see how everything is going, probably since I didn't talk anything baby for the entire month of October, what can I say, VeganMofo wore me out!

The good news is that the placenta has moved out of the way and I'm in the clear to birth in the natural birthing ward of my hospital. Yay big ole' birthing tub and a queen-size bed, oh, and the freedom to move around and give birth in a peaceful environment and all that!

Other than that, I've been surprised that a lot of other things have happened much sooner in this pregnancy than in my last. I know, I know, my body has been there, done that, so it's totally in veteran mode right now, but that didn't prepare me for the leaky boobs at 30 weeks. Seriously? I didn't even deal with that until like three weeks before giving birth to my daughter. And I think we all remember from my TMI pregnancy post that those puppies are already the size of my head, so I'm just hoping they mellow out some after I actually give birth to my babe.

The funny part about leaky boobs is that my daughter has no idea what is going on there. We haven't really explained the whole breastfeeding thing to her yet, not that we're avoiding it, we're really just waiting to see what questions she has once he's here and sees what's going on.

Regardless, she asked why mommy's boobs were crying one day and I told her they were just leaking. She kindly informed daddy that "mommy should probably buy some new ones."

Seriously, file that under "the most awesome things kids say."

Things are coming together at home. His room is nearly ready, we have clothes lining his drawer and we even picked out his "elusive" bring-home outfit. You'll be happy to know our little guy will be decked out in raccoon gear!

At any rate, it's crazy to think that next month, we very well might be a family of four. One large part of me is ridiculously excited to meet this little guy that's been beating me up for the last three months, but the happier I get to meet him, the more the guilt in me grows.

Pearyn has absolutely no idea what's going to hit her. When we go into labor she's going to go to grandma's not knowing anything has happened and when we get home her whole world will be turned upside down.

For two-and-a-half years it's been just us three. We've fallen into a routine, she's used to having our undivided attention (aside from work and everyday life), all the sudden we're going to come back and not only will she not have all of our attention, but she's going to be splitting it (sometimes unfairly) with this tiny, crying, pooping, spitting-up human being.

I know eventually, she's going to love her brother (well, hopefully). I know I'm "giving her the gift of a sibling," but it doesn't make the all-consuming guilt that I'm feeling any less.

I guess while I'm incredibly excited to start our journey as a four-some, I'm also still mourning our life as a family of three.


Seven things you probably didn't know about me ...

When you become a parent, there are inevitably hobbies, things you used to love, that get pushed aside because well, there are more pressing concerns, bedtime stories to be read, monsters to be chased off and sleep to be had (or, not had).

For me, there has always been one thing in my life I've refused to give up - reading. Whether it's perusing an issue of Parents, reading Anna Karenina for the fourteenth time or catching up with one of my favorite blogs, reading is the only thing other than my child that I'll lose sleep over. 

So seriously, in case you fellow bloggers out there didn't know, I love the hell out of you guys. Even if you fill your space recounting the seemingly mundane events of your day, providing me the five minute distraction from whatever task I'm avoiding is more appreciated than you'll ever know.

And because Blessed Vegan Life, one of the bloggers I follow regularly, was kind enough to pass on the "One Lovely Blogger" award to me, I'll play by the rules and continue to show some love. 

The rules are pretty simple. All you have to do is let the rest of the blogging community know the what blogger nominated you (and link to them if you're super awesome), then list seven fabulous facts about yourself that your readers probably don't know. 

After you've bared your soul, nominate anywhere from five to 15 of the bloggers you seriously dig for the award and let them know you've got their back. 

So here goes, the seven things you probably don't know about me (and maybe didn't want to!)
  1. I am a total sleeper creeper. I love my family so much and I seem to think they're the most adorable when they're fast asleep ... so I like to take pictures of them snoozing. I assure you that this is a habit I reserve solely for my family members and close friends, just in case you're afraid you're going to find me creeping around your house. I can't help it, Pearyn is seriously so darn precious when she's still.
  2. I refuse to take part in early voting. Call me silly, but there's nothing like the voting rush you get from being at the polls with all the other crazies on election day. I don't care if I spend my lunch hour waiting to fill out a ballot, it's tradition and it's one I'm sticking to.
  3. I originally went to college to study chemistry. However after taking what would be my last literature class ever, I got all sorts of sad and made the switch from science to English. The rest is history, well by that I mean I graduated with a degree in English. 
  4. I have the world's biggest girl crush on Zooey Deschanel. I don't think this needs much explanation.
  5. I have legitimately read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina 13 times. I love it even more every time I read it.
  6. My best, best, best, closest, seriously soul-mate material from college and I established our friendship in college while she braided my hair and told me about the first time she had sex. To this day, she is one of a handful of people that I feel like I really, genuinely NEED.
  7. I can pitch a softball 64 mph - and my aim is impeccable. 
Now, to pass the love on, I've selected five of the blogs from my list that I think should cough up some deep dark secrets!


How these vegans get Halloween done

When people find out we're vegan, one of two things happen.

They shrug their shoulders and don't really think twice about it  (they just throw us into that category of 'weird people' or 'going through a phase'). 

Or, the questions start coming. Oh, the questions.

To be honest, I absolutely adore when people are curious about our lifestyle. It gives us a chance to explain to people what we DO eat and how our daughter actually isn't malnourished (despite not living off of cows milk and junk-filled chicken nuggets), contrary to popular opinion, uninformed opinion, closed-minded opinion and much of the general populous. 

My husband and I try not to parade our dietary and lifestyle choices to everyone. While vegan works for us, I realize it might not for everyone else in the world. We've kind of adapted the thought process of, you live your way, we'll live ours and we won't really talk about it, unless you start asking questions or start crapping all over our choices, then, we're going to fight back.

Once people have known us for a while, they kind of stop asking questions, mainly because they know the answer is probably "no, that has XXX hidden ingredient in it" or "you don't want to know I used beans as a binder in those brownies so just eat them and continue thinking they're delicious." 

Sometimes though, random things pop up and it reminds people that our veganism doesn't just touch our dietary choices, but our lifestyle, moral, personal and ethical ones as well. 

Halloween, is one of those things. 

"Well Pearyn can't eat most of the candy she gets trick-or-treating, so do you guys even bother going?"

Yes, yes and yes. 

Trust me, we realize most of the candy she collects contains a plethora of animal-ridden products, so no, she doesn't really get the opportunity to gorge herself on your run-of-the-mill Snickers and Reese Cups. (Hold on, don't go calling child services on us just yet). Instead, we raid our local health food store (the one that carries less-than healthy vegan candy options) and wipe them clean of all the vegan candy we can get our hands on.

The most popular with Pearyn? Definitely the Go Max Go Life vegan versions of all your favorite candy bars -- from Cleo's peanut butter cups to the caramel, nugget and nuts of the Jokerz bar -- we replace all those silly "fun size" regular candy bars with full-size (and seriously full dollar) vegan ones. 

We sneak in other regular, vegan-approved candy, like Sweedish Fish or Twizzlers too. (I realize some vegans avoid anything with uncharted processed sugar, I don't have enough money in my wallet or time in the day to start doing this too, we try to limit the amount of sugar we eat, however, if it makes us only 99% vegan then fine, I don't want to start any wars here). 

So honestly, Pear's trick-or-treat adventure really isn't a whole lot different from any other child's.

She gets to pick out whatever costume her little heart desires, she has two parents and a dedicated grandmother that have spent her last two trick-or-treats walking around the neighborhood with her while she runs up to houses whispering "Trick-or-treat" and then shouting out "thank you" when they put some kind of goody in her basket. 

Once she's tuckered out, we head home and "pull the switch." We take all the candy she collected from the evening and throw it into a grocery bag, while swapping in all the vegan-approved stuff. 

Honestly, it's not that much different than any other regular parent sifting through their child's goodies, looking for homemade stuff you can't trust or treats that might choke your small child. Instead of rifling through our daughters basket, we just make the switch. Last year and this year we've donated the candy to programs that send it to soldiers overseas. 

This year she asked why she couldn't have a few things, we just explained to her that we don't eat that food but she could have a piece of whatever she wanted from her bucket. 

And you know what? She ate a few homemade buckeyes from grandma and then pushed her candy aside.

She wanted noodles.

How many parents of toddlers can say their child opted for dinner before tearing into their treats? 

It was a proud, proud moment for us. 


Whose kitchen will be welcoming a new crock pot?

It's hard to believe the end of VeganMofo 2012 is here. Somewhere in the middle you just settle into the swing of things and get the hang of blogging all day every day. OK, I'm exaggerating there.

I hope that all of you have had as much fun as I have this time around. It's only my second VeganMofo, but I hope it's something that I get to continue for the long-run. I figure if I can make it through a month of cooking and blogging while I'm giant pregnant (around seven weeks to go!!!) then there's not a whole lot else that will be able to deter me.

Before I get to the point and announce the big winner of the Crock Pot voucher, I wanted to just say thank you times a million if you're new to my blog and plan to hang around (gory pregnancy details and adorable trick-or-treat photos to follow!) while we welcome the new addition to our family! And thank you times a million to all my veteran readers who have hung in with me for this long! Being vegan can make it hard to find others who understand and follow your lifestyle, so the fact that I've connected with the hundreds of you that can at the very least relate, makes it feel far less lonely being cruelty-free.

If you've perused through my site and found there are some areas where I haven't really touched base on some vegan or family issues, feel free to reach out and let me know what you want to see more of. Sometimes I have a tendency to yammer a lot, so be glad most of you are only connecting with me virtually and don't have to hear me blabber on in person :)


Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that entered to win this, we saw a huge response to this over Twitter as well. You guys and gals are great at spreading the word! Thanks to the powers of Random.org, the winner of the Crock Pot giveaway is ... Molly Robbin. The first thing she plans on making is the vegan pizza dip (which I recommend everyone try, but if you get addicted and end up making it once a week don't blame it on me!!)

That's all I have for you today folks, I hope my followers in the New England area are safe and sound from Hurricane Sandy's wrath and I hope you all stay tuned! From more giveaways and vegan pregnancy gossip to a few vlogs created by yours truly, we've got a lot of fun headed your way in the next few months!


Vegan pumpkin pie, minus the crust AND oven

My first vegan Thanksgiving was less than successful.

Instead of trying to come up with our own tradition or awesome dishes, I basically just made a bunch of mock meat and dairy dishes and expected them to taste the same.

Note to vegans out there, it doesn't matter how much you may love Tofurky products, the good-ole fashioned "Tofurky" does not really resemble turkey, at all. 

I'm not bashing the stuff, it's good in its own right, but when it comes to losing your vegan Thanksgiving virginity, trying to eat a fake turkey just isn't the way to go. 

I imagine the stuffing and mashed potatoes were salvaged (probably because my husband made those), but one thing was most certainly destroyed that Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin pie. 

It was so bad in fact, that I haven't made it since that fateful first Thanksgiving nearly six years ago. 

Until this past weekend, when I decided it was time to conquer my fear and make it again. OK, so I'm really not that brave, I just figured if it came out a disastrous mess I could just blame it on the fact that I cooked it in my crock pot. 

To my surprise (and my husband and daughter), it actually came out not only edible, but seriously tasty. And seriously reminiscent of the old school pumpkin pie you make in your oven. 

This is a crustless version, but I just made my recipe for pie crust and cut it into "chips" that could be dipped into the finished product. It made it more hands on and "modern" feeling all in one. 

Crock pot crustless pumpkin pie
(serves 10-12)
1 BIG can of pureed pumpkin (like the 29oz variety)
1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 TBS cinnamon

Crust ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 cup sugar
1 stick vegan butter
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup cold water
Cinnamon & sugar to grind on top!

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, almond milk, applesauce and vanilla extract. Stir in sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon. Mix in flour. Use a hand mixer to blend until completely smooth. Grease crock pot and pour batter in. Cook on high for three hours and then low for one hour. (Check after a few hours to make sure nothing is burning and all that good stuff).

While the pumpkin pie is cooking, get your crust ready. Mix all purpose flour, pastry flour, salt and sugar. Add in softened butter, shortening and water. Knead until firm, but easy to manipulate. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 15 minutes. When you're ready to bake (about an hour before pumpkin pie is done), roll out the dough and cut into whatever pretty shapes you want. Brush a little melted butter over the shapes and then sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over them. Bake for about 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees. 

This recipe is for a 6-7 quart crock pot. Cut it in half and cook around the same time (checking to make sure nothing is overcooking for a four quart crock pot). It honestly turned out really, really tasty. It cooked almost perfectly all the way through (except a tiny, golf-ball sized middle). I imagine you might have better luck halving the recipe and cooking in a smaller crock pot.

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Celebrating pumpkin awesomeness this Fab Five Friday

I'm not sure if fall is my favorite season because of the cooler temperatures, the ability to wear hoodies and your most comfortable pear of jeans, the pretty leaves or the pumpkin flavored everything.

From homemade pumpkin lattes and pumpkin pie oatmeal to pumpkin spice cinnamon buns and pumpkin macaroni and cheese, there has been no shortage of crazy delicious pumpkin recipes churning out of my kitchen.

Except, apparently, there has.

After perusing through fellow Veganmofoers' blogs, I stumbled across two more pumpkin recipes that never even crossed my pumpkin-obsessed mind.

Over at Fo Reals Mom, she's been busy professing her love to pumpkin goodies and fall weather as well. In addition to professing her love, she also was kind enough to provide a recipe for Pumpkin gnocchi with spicy  pepita pesto. Holy moly I can only say it certainly looks as good as it sounds. This might be one of those savory pumpkin recipes I just have to try for myself. Because seriously, can you ever go wrong with gnocchi?

And after I eat a heap of that pumpkin gnocchi, I figure it's only fair to follow up dinner with a pumpkin dessert as well. I'm not going to lie, I don't think I have yet to actually make a successful vegan rice crispy treat. I should probably divulge that it has less to do with them being vegan and more to do with my inability to follow a recipe. But TahiniToo's Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats just might be enough to persuade me into trying to make these sticky, but oh-so-delicious squares one more time.

Once I fall into a sugar coma, I'll probably need some ridiculously tasty muffins to wake me up from it. Have I mentioned lately my addiction to muffins. They're like the marriage of something sweet but something that "sounds" like it's good for you. (Definitely note the quote marks). Kirsten's Kitchen's fruit explosion muffins are no exception to this rule. They look absolutely amazing. And with all that fruit jam-packed in (see what I did there?) how can they not be at least a little bit good for you?

After I drooled over all these pumpkin and fruit dishes, I stumbled across Colorado Vegan's Freestyle Edamame Dip. My little girl Pearyn is basically obsessed with all things edamame, so I can hardly wait to try this out as a sandwich spread for her preschool lunches. Not to mention it wouldn't hurt me to eat a few more green veggies/protein anyhow.

And since I included something remotely healthy in this round-up, I figured it would only be right to move onto a dessert again. Not only was I basically in love with the name of this blog, but the pictures of Veg*n Amuse Bouche's Ponche Cupcakes left me with the urge to run out and buy all of the ingredients needed to make these. I'm not sure what Ponche means, but it has something to do with utterly delicious orange and cinnamon together, so it can't be wrong.

With less than a week left of VeganMofo 2012, I can't help but wonder what the rest of you have in store for the remaining days.

Tune in here for more crock pot recipes, I'll be rounding out with dessert ones, not to mention I'll be announcing the winner of my free crock pot giveaway!


Simple sweet and sour tofu

SO despite being years deep into my vegan lifestyle, I'm still incredibly hesitant when it comes to tofu. It's not even that I don't like it, because let me tell you, there are some Thai places in the area that can do magical things with a block of soybeans.

I, on the other hand, am less of a connoisseur when it comes to whipping those soybeans into something that even closely resembles food. I'm great if we're just blending up some silken tofu and adding it to a dessert, but usually, the fanciest I get when it comes to dinner tofu is again, blending it up and making vegan "egg" salad out of it. 

But sometimes, and by sometimes I mean basically the last nine months, you get a serious craving that you can't ignore. Today, was one of those cravings. 

My mind was made up, we were going to eat sweet and sour tofu and since this is VeganMofo after all and I owe you lovely readers a crock pot recipe, I decided to knock both these things out at once.

If you're the kind of person that digs tofu all on it's own, you can skip the step where I dredge it in some cornstarch and lightly brown it in a skillet with some butter. I'm just the kind of vegan that can't seem to get down with naked tofu.

Simple Sweet and Sour Tofu
(serves 6-8)
1 block of extra firm tofu
1 head of broccoli
3 bell peppers (I went with red, yellow and green)
1 large onion
3 carrots (I cut them into inch-long strips)
1 can of pineapple chunks (this can be small or large depending on your love of pineapple)
Brown rice (or whatever kind of grain/vessel you'd like to put your sweet and sour tofu on)
Cornstarch (you're going to roll your tofu squares around in this)
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

Sweet and Sour sauce ingredients:
1 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 TBS ketchup
1/4 cup pineapple juice (you can use the juice from the canned pineapple if you want to get wild and crazy)
4 TBS cornstarch 
2 TBS soy sauce

We'll start with the sauce so we can give it some time to thicken. In a small saucepan on medium heat, stir the rice vinegar, ketchup, pineapple juice and soy sauce. Add in the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring the sauce to a low boil and quickly whisk in the cornstarch. Once fully mixed. remove from heat and let it sit. 

Next, dice up your broccoli, carrots, onion and bell peppers. Turn your crock pot on low and allow the veggies, pineapple chunks and soy sauce to warm. Now it's time to pay attention to your tofu. Squeeze out the extra water (I use a kitchen towel) and then cut the tofu into smaller squares (your personal preference here). Pour the cornstarch into a small bowl and roll the tofu squares around, allowing a light dusting to cover each side. Set the tofu aside.

In a skillet, melt your butter on medium heat. Toss the cornstarched tofu squares in and let them lightly brown, turning with your spatula only enough to brown each side. Once lightly browned and slightly crisp, toss this into the crock pot. Pour the sweet and sour sauce all over and stir. Cook on high for three hours, stirring occasionally. Next, cook on low for five hours. 

You can adjust the cook time as you see fit, this allowed for most of our bell peppers, onion and broccoli to soften, but still left the carrots on the crisper side, which was a nice texture with all the other smooshy stuff.

Serve over your favorite rice, grain or whatever you'd prefer!

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Crock pot full of chick peas AND a marinade recipe

There's not really a super fancy intro to this recipe. Probably because this recipe isn't exactly fancy. It's more a hodgepodge of food we had that needed to be eaten.

Sometimes, you just need a recipe that you can throw together with the ingredients in your pantry, on your counter or in your freezer.

This seems to happen a lot when you're as giant pregnant as I feel these days. We're 32 weeks and less than two months away from our due date, it's an incredibly frightening thing to think that in just eight weeks time we could be a family of four.

The following recipe was one that I threw together because I'm ridiculously obsessed with chick peas, pitas and anything you can throw into the crock pot and forget about. It's nothing super fancy, but it was Chubby Vegan Husband and Pearyn approved, not to mention I made a super tasty marinade to soak and cook it in.

At the very least you're going to get a fabulous marinade recipe out of this.

Crock pot chock full of chick peas
(serves 6-8)
2 cans of chick peas
1 16 oz bag of frozen carrots (you can use fresh, but I usually try to have frozen around for emergencies)
10 oz of sliced mushrooms
1 large red onion diced up
1 cup prepared instant mashed potatoes (or 1 cup of mashed potatoes you made, again, I was lazy)
(These are the veggies I had off hand, you could easily add some broccoli, squash, zucchini or asparagus)

Lemon herb marinade:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp basil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp horseradish (for some zing)
1 tsp onion powder

Take the chick peas, frozen carrots, sliced mushrooms, diced up onion and instant mashed potatoes and toss them into your crock pot. Mix together the marinade and pour half over the veggie mixture. Cook on high for three hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the marinade and cook on low for another hour to an hour and a half (depending on how you like your mushrooms done).

Serve with rice, quinoa, on bread or in a pita. If you've got a particularly odd craving (like a 32-week pregnancy one), I recommend serving it with some homemade vegan tartar sauce!

Not a fan of cooking with your crock pot yet or don't have one to experiment with? Make sure you enter to win my free crock pot giveaway! The winner will be announced in a week!


Homemade vegan ham, just in time for the holidays

A little more than a year ago my husband and I ventured into the world of making our own seitan. We weren't sure if it was hard or not, but we tried a few different methods and found (you guessed it) the crock pot to turn out the absolute best results. I use a 7 or 7 quart crock pot to make both of these roasts, so if you're working with some smaller space I'd halve the recipe. I haven't tested cooking times on just one roast yet, so stay-tuned.

After spending several holidays trying out different versions of premade "roasts," we decided last year to try our own hand at making vegan ham. And sure enough, after a few trials and tribulations, we found the best method and flavor profile to remind you of the brown-sugar and pineapple-crusted ham of your childhood. (Minus the atrocious cruelty and all that).

The majority of this roast will be cooked in your crock pot, however it will spend a little quality time in the oven to allow that sweet glaze the opportunity to create a candied rind.

Candied Vegan Ham
(serves 8-10)
3 cups vital wheat gluten
1 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB liquid smoke
2 TB pure maple syrup (don't skimp here, get the good stuff)
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cloves
1 can veggie broth

For the glaze:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 stick vegan  butter
2 TBS Dijon-style mustard
1 TBS molasses

Spray/grease your crock pot and turn it on low. In a bowl, mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, black pepper, onion powder, paprika and cloves. Add pineapple juice, soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup and water. Mix and knead for 2 minutes. The mixture should be slightly damp and sticky. Form two round loaves and place in crock pot (if you try just one big ole' roast it probably won't set right). Pour vegetable stock over and cook it on low for two hours and then cook it on high for three hours.

Once your "ham" has cooked, place the loaves in a greased casserole dish. "Score" the ham (just make not-to-deep slices into the roast) and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, mustard, pineapple juice, melted vegan butter and molasses. Pour this glaze over your roasts and stick in the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Let it sit for 15 minutes and then enjoy the heck out of it, hot or cold!


Pumpkin isn't just for sweets, it's for mac and cheese!

I absolutely adore pumpkin anything.

For the most part, however, my pumpkin admiration was mainly dedicated to sweets. I had never really tried any sort of savory dish with pumpkin, unless you count roasting the seeds and throwing some cajun or garlic spice on them.

So after drooling over recipe after recipe on Pinterest, I finally decided the first savory pumpkin dish I should try would most definitely be a macaroni and cheese bake. Seriously, it's macaroni and cheese, how can it ever go wrong?

Turns out, it doesn't, even when you do it in the crock pot and forego the whole following a recipe thing (I wasn't uber impressed by most of the ones I saw when thinking about translating them into veganism).

And besides, it's October, it's a little early for pumpkin pie, but I bet you've got a few cans of the pureed stuff laying around anyway.

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
(serves 8-10)
1 16 oz box of your favorite pasta (I went with whole wheat wheels, man, because they're cool)
1 medium sweet onion
1 can pureed pumpkin
1 stick vegan butter
1 container vegan cream cheese (I opted for Trader Joes brand, but you're more than welcome to make your own!)
1 wedge of Daiya cheddar cheese
1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Salt or pepper to taste

Cook your pasta according to the box. Turn your crock pot on high, dice up your onion and add it and the pasta to the crock pot. Stir in pureed pumpkin, cream cheese (softened) and butter (softened).

 Chop up your wedge of Daiya cheddar (I wouldn't recommend trying to use a grater, it's much too soft for this. Just cut it up as tiny as you can without wasting a ton of time. You WANT to use the wedge for this recipe because it's super creamy and adds the perfect texture.

 Stir all of this together and add a dash of salt and pepper.

Allow this to cook on high for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, then stir in the panko breadcrumbs (if you just put them on top they won't really cook much). Sprinkle the one cup of cheddar shreds on top and cook on low for another hour.

Serve with some sort of green vegetable, because this mac and cheese is SO rich you're going to want something healthy to go along with it!


Week three VeganMofo Fab Five Friday

Something incredibly odd happened this week.

While I perused through page after page of drool-worthy photos, I found myself craving more savory dishes than sweet! (Can we just go ahead and chalk that up to a pregnancy craving?)

I'm so blown away by what everyone is coming up with, half of the recipes I came by I had to do a double take because they didn't even LOOK vegan!

So with two months left to carry around this growing child, apparently I'm going to need a lot of savory vegan food, who wants to come over and cook for me?

For starters, I think my husband would love me more if I made Baker Bettie's Vegan Cheddar Ale Soup. I'm not even kidding about this folks. I seriously think he would award me the "Wife of the Year" award if I made this soup just ONCE. Between his love of ales and my love of cheddary soups, I'm pretty sure if I ever find myself in the dog house I can quickly get my exit if I whip up a batch of this stuff.

And if that's not homey, curl up on the couch enough for you, then the vegan corn beef on rye at Inspired Vegan Eats will probably fit the bill. I seriously stared at this photo for at least five minutes trying to figure out how on earth it could be vegan. I thought I was in Heaven when I figured out how to make my own seitan, but I'm pretty sure that we'll be making this recipe at least 1,000 times before St. Patricks Day even rolls around.

And just because I'm not completely devoid of ingesting something sugar-filled, I can't help but mention the Jolly Fox's Vegan Apple Sour Cream Pie. I'm not going to lie, I am pretty confident in my vegan apple pie. It's the first pie I learned to truly make from scratch and I'm damn proud of the lattice crust I can whip up for it. But I have never, ever even thought about adding some sour cream to it for a different flavor profile, and now I can't stop thinking about how much richer it will make it.

Now that we've tackled a fabulous compilation of comfort food, I challenge everyone to take a peek at North Vancouver Vegan's Baked Vegan Schnitzel. Between the (genius) tahini batter to the crushed pretzel "breading" this vegan spin on a traditional German meal had my wishing I was sitting in her kitchen. Not to mention the awesome-looking asparagus with a really simple, but delicious looking cream sauce on top. Talk about a 30 minute taste of Europe!

The last dish that caught my eye this week was the allergy-friendly pesto from Mary Alice Nests (how cute is that name?). I have yet to actually try making my own pesto, although I know many a vegan swear by it, but I'm a sucker for a delicious basil-based sauce on top a bed of rotini. Um, yum. And I have a feeling I'll be following her suggesting and trying this on a pizza as well, because it looks to good not to!

What were some of your favorites this week? I'm having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that VeganMofo2012 is more than halfway over.

Speaking of over, have you entered to win my super awesome free crock pot yet? Do it, do it!


Vegan pizza dip, perfect for any party

When I first went vegan, I relied heavily on mock meat products and fake cheeses to get me through a meal. I never really drank milk to begin with, so it wasn't as hard of a transition. But I can't lie, I liked me some burgers and macaroni and cheese.

As I further explored the vegan lifestyle, I soon became open to trying new things, from tofu to tempeh and from nutritional yeast to nut cheeses.

By the time I gave birth to Pearyn, we had gotten rid of most of the processed mock meat products in our house. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-mock-meat vegan, but from a nutritional standpoint I was already obsessed with vegan ice cream and cookies, I figured this was one area where I could make a few changes (not to mention save a few bucks, that fake meat is expensive!!)

Soon we found ourselves subbing lentils for ground meat in things like "meatloaf" and now we use chick peas in place of chicken in wraps. I'm still a sucker for Daiya though, I don't think there's any avoiding that.

Every now and then, however, you come across a recipe that in order to veganize, you've got to just use a hodgepodge of mock meat and vegan dairy products, and you've got to be OK with it.

And I promise you, one scoop of this pizza dip and you will absolutely swoon. You won't care that it's loaded with vegan cream cheese or mock pepperoni, all you'll be concerned with is grabbing another bread stick to scoop up all this deliciousness. The best part about this recipe is that you can cater it to whatever your pizza preferences are, from pepperoni to sausage to all veggies!

Crock Pot Pizza Dip
(serves 6-8)
20 oz pizza sauce (I strongly encourage you to use pizza sauce, not spaghetti sauce)
12 oz vegan cream cheese (don't like the commercial kind? Try this homemade version!)
1 package vegan pepperoni (we used Tofurky because it's seriously magical)
1 medium sweet onion
1 1/2 cup chopped up mushrooms (we used baby bella)
1 TBS garlic
1 1/2 cups Daiya mozzarella cheese

Warm the cream cheese and then mix in the pizza sauce (you can do this right in your crock pot or a medium bowl, whichever.
Chop up vegan pepperoni, onion and mushrooms and stir into cream cheese pizza sauce mixture. Add the minced garlic.
Cook this mixture on low for two hours. stirring every 20 minutes. (You don't want this to stick to the sides and get all burnt on you). Add the vegan mozzarella on top (sprinkle a little Italian seasoning on top if you want to get wild) and cook on low for another 30-45 minutes (or until the cheese is melted to your liking).

Serve with bread sticks, vegan cheesy garlic bread or some vegan naan if you want to get crazy. No matter what you put this stuff on you're going to eat all of it, I promise.


Slow cook your way to a free Crock Pot! Don't miss this giveaway!

With only two weeks left until VeganMofo 2012 comes to an end,  I decided now would be the absolute perfect time to introduce my last and biggest giveaway (trust me, you're going to want as many chances to enter this as you can!)

In case you're a stranger to my theme this year, it's centered around slow cooking all the time! From your favorite breakfast foods to dips, dinners and desserts, we're going to tackle all those pesky recipes that require your attention and turn them into the kind of think you can just throw into your Crock Pot and forget about for a few hours (as a work-from-home mom with a toddler and one on the way, being able to forget about dinner without burning down the house is a serious vacation for me).

Don't have a slow cooker of your own? No problem!

To help you try out some of these super yummy recipes I've been testing out on my family, I've partnered with the generous makers of THE Crock Pot to give one lucky reader a voucher to pick out a Crock Pot brand slow cooker of their choosing (up to a $50 value) at a local store that sells kitchen appliances!

You read that right. We're talking about a FREE Crock Pot.

Already have a slow cooker of your own? Maybe you've upgraded your family and now you need a bigger one or maybe you just want something fancier, I'm not judging. I'm just telling you that this is the kind of giveaway you don't want to miss out on! Seriously, who can turn down a FREE kitchen appliance?

Wondering what $50 could get you? There are a plethora of options, from programmable Crock Pots to the big ole' six-quart Cook 'N' Carry one we own. (It's red, pictured above and oddly enough, was a Valentines Day gift FOR my husband!)

Ready to win? I thought so!

All YOU have to do is click that awesome little "follow" button at the top right of this blog and become a Chubby Vegan Mom member. You can do this using your Gmail, Yahoo, Aim or Twitter account. Once you become part of the clan, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog letting me which recipe I've veganized that you want to try in your very own FREE crock pot!

Already a follower? (Thanks!) Then leave a comment answering the above question and you'll be automatically entered to win! (Got to love the random number winner generators!)

Want more chances to win? Spread the word! Simply click the little "tweet" button located in the right corner of this post (make sure you're on this individual post and not the Chubby Vegan Mom homepage) and tell everyone you just entered to win a free crock pot and they should too! You can do this once a day to increase your odds of winning! 

Winner will be chosen on Wednesday, October 31 (Happy Halloween!) by random and announced that night (we're going to go out with a bang this VeganMofo!).

Well, what are you waiting for, enter to win already!