The Lean Into Vegan-ISH Living

I absolutely beam with pride when my cart is filled with produce and only a few other items from the *inner aisles*. So much so that once when I was stocking up on some freezer items for my weekend respite clients – pizza pops, freezer meals, etc. stuff I don’t generally buy for us, but like to have on hand for them if I don’t have a real dinner planned – I explained myself to the cashier. True story.

I may have a problem.

photo from

I love eating healthy – though you maybe wouldn’t know it by the amount of cheese I can go through. lol I have often though of finding ways to cut back on meat intake {gone are the days where meat was only one meal instead of all 3} and certainly on limiting my arguably over-excessive cheese intake. I can’t lie, seeing the physical change in Vegan celebs has also inspired my journey a little – Ellen Degeneres, Carrie Underwood, Kathy Freston, and even Bill Clinton to name a few. It can’t be denied they look noticeably more fantastic since adopting this way of eating.

However, I do not ever see myself 100% Vegan, though clearly eating this way works for many people. And I know I can learn A LOT from all of them. But I still have to do what works best for me – and my family – and what feels the best for our bodies.

To start, I genuinely believe that meat has it’s place in our diet. Or at least in mine, though I don’t believe it was ever intended to have such hormone pumped animals for our consumption.  I also have this thing with *meat substitutes* – for one thing I figure if I want the taste of meat, I’ll just eat meat. Secondly, I don’t love that they all have a high content of both Soy and Wheat, two things I personally try to avoid too much of. BUT I also want to get out of the habit of having meat for EVERY meal – and learn to think a little more *outside the box*. In addition, while I certainly have a preference for the more humane ways to slaughter, when I see a steak on my plate I don’t see the cow. I always express gratitude within myself for the animals who have provided our food, but I am not on the *eating meat is mean* bandwagon {though don’t have a problem with people who are…I just don’t really make the connection}.

As for the Dairy portion, it’s something I don’t really think is all that good for us to begin with. I’m not looking  for a debate, it’s just what makes sense and feels right to me. I don’t like milk to begin with, so that’s not an issue {I was never a big milk drinker but it made me sick when I was pregnant with Jonah and I just haven’t gone back}, and yogurt is sort of a take or leave kind of thing. But Cheese….oh sweet delicious cheese….I believe that moderation is the key, but with cheese there is no moderation to be found. And that is precisely my issue.

If I had to name 5 things to make my kids for lunch, all would include cheese….and, since bread/wheat is also something I try to be aware of, most of them would involve that too:

1. Grilled Cheese Sandwich {Cheese and Bread}

2. Cheese Quesadilla {Cheese and Bread}

3. Macaroni and Cheese {Cheese and Wheat – though I rarely  make this and when I do, like to put a veggie tray out first while it’s cooking so the kids eat more good stuff lol}

4. Cheeseburger {Cheese and Bread}

5. Meat, Cheese, Pickles, and Crackers {Cheese and Wheat}

It can get a little ridiculous, and while this isn’t all I feed the kids, I certainly want to take the opportunity to be more aware. To prepare meals with purpose. I am lucky in that my kids are willing to eat fairly healthy and both LOVE fruits and veggies. So it’s not really a difficult thing to incorporate even more good, WHOLE, and plant-based foods into our diet.

I’ve stopped buying chips, limited pop {cut it mostly out for myself for about a month now….though did have 2/3 of a Pepsi tonight because I was wanting some}, cut back on sugar for myself {working on that for the kids….}, and as mentioned – trying to eat more foods that don’t involve cheese or other animal products…ie. Vegan

So my routine is this:

Breakfast – We all have a green drink. I don’t love my kids starting their day on cereal – it’s not filling and in my opinion, isn’t really full of hearty goodness. Neither of my kids likes oatmeal {wish I had started that one earlier} so it’s not an option. Instead, I have finally gotten into a daily habit of making a fresh green drink every morning. They have loved it for years and always get excited when I make it. I originally started with yogurt and frozen fruit drinks, but have eliminated those completely as well in favor of our personally preferred {and much healthier} green drinks.

My recipe:

Handful of Spinach

1 Cup of Water

1/3 Fresh Pineapple {as per my cousin’s thoughts – really the key ingredient…in every variation I make}

1 Nectarine {Skin On or Off}

1 Pear {Skin On or Off}

Blend Together and Enjoy

This is by far my favorite, though we change it up a lot. Sometimes I add frozen fruit – berries, etc. or other fresh fruits….mangoes, bananas {rarely because they tend to take over the flavour}, peaches, apples, etc. Sometimes it turns out kinda brown, though thankfully my kids drink it anyways. Awesome.

Also – based on some info from this fabulous book {The Green Smoothie Revolution}, I have realized the importance of changing up the greens and not using one kind exclusively. So I’ve experimented with Parsley and Kale, and added Cucumber to a few as well.

Lunch: I generally just stick to Vegan eating for lunch {except today while out and about I had sour cream and cheese in a taco….and ice cream after swimming with the kids and a friend}. Though I have been eating some bread/wheat products, I still feel better and lighter throughout the day. Bonus! So I might have, cheeseless veggie pizza {surprisingly fantastic!}, tortilla chips and salsa, salad, spaghetti {gluten free pasta and sauteed veggies in sauce, no meat}, etc. I love making the kids veggie wraps – cucumbers, lettuce, and a bit of cheese….with a small swipe of miracle whip. They love them 🙂

Dinner: Whatever I prepare for the family. Usually a meat dish, always a veggie dish, and often a salad or veggie platter as well {without dip…trying to limit that so we really eat the veggies we love anyways and enjoy their natural flavour}.

If I need a snack throughout the day, I grab an apple or other fruit, or I recently bought some wild rice sticks {thanks to a cousin who had them}, or Corn Chips with Flax {discovered thanks to a friend}, or sugar snap peas, carrots, etc. My recent favorite is sliced cucumbers seasoned with Pepper and Garlic Sea Salt – so delicious!

So I am essentially eating 2/3 of a Vegan diet. Hence – Vegan-ISH. For now, this gives me the freedom to take the time to find more recipes, trying things one at a time. It also allows me the freedom to make more choices throughout the day – ie, I pick and choose when I have wheat products….when I have meat products….though I am really trying to exclusively avoid cheese and sour cream {another fave item of mine}. And my family isn’t going to notice some sudden radical change {though it’s not overly radical as we’ve always eaten a lot of fresh food} and I can ease us all more into this way of eating on a permanen..t basis. With specific awareness to our eating habits – what we eat and why…and how we feel as a result.

When my daughter was offered a candy at lunch during a fieldtrip the other day and said *I think I’ll save it and eat something healthy first* I beamed. Or when my son always leaves the cupcake untouched at preschool parties in favor of the veggies and fruit, I can’t help but be grateful. It’s not always the case {he had 3 suckers today…blech} but those little moments let me know that slowly but surely they are *getting it*. And learning to make these decisions for themselves, by themselves.

I’m hoping to share a lot of fantastic recipes as a result of this *lean* – and look forward to hearing your thoughts and if any of you try them as well. Also, I know some of you that read are Vegan as well, and I would love any great *must have* recipes you would like to share. For those of you who aren’t Vegan, or Vegetarian, or even anything close, don’t worry there will be lots of *other* great recipes to come! But I do encourage you all to try my favorite Green Drink Recipe just once. I want to know your thoughts!

Also – what do you feed your kids that doesn’t involve cheese or bread? It’s a tough one, isn’t it!


One thought on “The Lean Into Vegan-ISH Living

  1. Kelliane

    Feed your kids cheese. The dental hygienist that did maddox’s checkup said if you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, eat a piece of real cheese….not the pre-sliced crap….and it does essentially the same thing. Nature’s way of cleaning your teeth. But maybe you could send it as cut up chunks, with an apple, instead of in a sandwich? I’m constantly trying to menu plan to involve 4 food groups with every meal (I use milk a lot instead of cheese) and 3 for every snack (for dayhome) and it’s tough sometimes. My biggest problem is in the meats/protein department. What do I feed a kid for breakfast, that is a meat, that isn’t literally meat, or eggs, or peanut butter? So stumped…


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