Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Back to School with Plant-Strong Lunch Boxes!

When explaining to others who ask about our family’s personal slant toward eating as plant-based as possible, my husband often says,  “it’s a preference, not a religion.”  I like that.

Since joining the Healthy Eating team at Whole Foods Market corporate office this summer, I’ve come to really appreciate the company’s point of view on diet which essentially suggests that everyone — regardless of personal preference on meat, fish, dairy or gluten — can benefit from eating as many foods as possible that contain the following four pillars of good-for-you-ness:

  • Plant-Strong (the Engine 2 coined term)
  • Whole foods
  • Healthy fats
  • Nutrient Dense

You can learn more about these pillars on the nutrition page of the WFM web site.

Many of you Mamas and Papas are gearing up for another school year — or possibly sending your child to school for the first time.  Many others are homeschooling or still have toddlers at home for lunch.  Whatever your personal situation — here’s some ideas for creating Plant Strong lunches and snacks for your Little Ones that I put together recently for the Engine 2 blog:

Grain & Bean Roll-ups. Use left-over grains, veggies and beans from dinner and wrap in a whole grain tortilla.  Add sliced black olives and avocado for extra yum.

Raw Veggies and Hummus. Sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes

Sliced Apples and Raw Almond Butter. We try to opt for raw almond butter over peanut butter because it doesn’t share the same allergen and toxicity issues of peanuts but our girls prefer the taste of peanut butter. Read more about raw versus roasted nuts below.

Berries & Raw, Unsalted Raw Nuts. If you or your children prefer the taste of roasted nuts, roast them at home keeping the temperature below 170 degrees. When nuts are roasted above 170 degrees, the monounsaturated fats can break down and free radicals can form, causing damage to the cells. In addition, “acrylamides” form which have been shown to cause cancer in animals and are believed to increase the risk of cancer in humans.

Mashed Sweet Potato. You can bake the night before.

Apple Almond Butter Sandwich. Unsweetened apple butter and almond butter on whole grain bread.  A twist on this sandwich is recommended by Cynthia Lair in Feeding the Whole Family, who suggests mixing a teaspoon of white miso into the apple butter.

Kale Butter Sandwich. A clever way to get more of that powerhouse green in your children’s diet is with “Kale Butter” — an Engine 2 recipe.  Steam a bunch of kale for five minutes and put in blender with ½ cup walnuts and 4 cup of the water from steaming the kale — add a little salt if you like.  Spread on your sandwich bread with avocados, tomatoes, or hummus — whatever floats your family boat.

Another resource for Plant Strong lunch ideas:  Vegan Lunch Box Around the World

And when you’re packing lunches, consider some Earth Friendly re-usable bag alternatives to using paper bags and plastic baggies:

Posted in Nutrition | 2 Comments

The Diet that Finally Broke our Sleep Crisis!

Occasionally I think I’m pretty smart. Most of the time however, I battle a wicked inner voice that tells me I’m an idiot daily. Right now I’m in the latter camp wondering how the heck I went almost 2 years with the level of sleep-deprivation we’ve had and NOT experimented more with further altering our youngest daughter’s diet.

Our sweet baby, now almost 2, has never slept more than 2 hours before waking in upset. I expected some level of this for the first 6 months and then kept thinking we would go down to 2 wakings per night like I experienced with my first daughter. But no. It just went on and on and on. After 18 months (coming off of 2 years of broken sleep with our first), I began getting concerned about my health, decided something had to give and opted to night-wean and claim a bed for myself elsewhere.  Our Littlest began sleeping with her Daddy so this could take place and then he took over the crazy sleep-deprived role. No good for a man with serious Provide-for-the-Family pressure days!

Now, with respect to doing the same thing over and over again with our baby’s lack of deep sleep and expecting her to snap out of it, I haven’t been completely dense. I actually was wise enough to try all kinds of things — including some diet modification —  to influence her ability to sleep more deeply and for longer periods of time.  Massage, Lavender Baths, Aromatherapy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, and most recently – energetic treatments.

But, you know what never occurred to me to monitor carefully?  Sugar of all kinds!!

Thanks to our new Naturopath’s recommendation to radically alter our youngest’s diet, together with the energetic treatments she is receiving from him, we now have a sleeping baby (who is almost 2 years old now)!!  She is now consistently sleeping 7-8 hours straight almost every night. This is totally changing our lives! It feels like a miracle to me — truly — that we have a fully rested household with very minimal wakings now. Talk about functioning better on all fronts. Wow.


Almost zero sugar.  No grains except occasional brown rice (no breads, crackers, noodles).  No fruit juices.  No fruit except apples and berries which are relatively low in sugar.  And definitely no obvious sweeteners like agave, maple syrup, etc.  To be clear, I don’t think it’s realistic for us to remain virtually grain and fruit-free long term.  Eventually we will need to add some back — while remaining very careful about processed grains (breads/tortillas) and desserts.

No Dairy Except Raw Goat Yogurt/Cheese. Local resource is White Egret’s Farm and they deliver!  They offer a lot of interesting information on their web site about cow versus goat milk.

Doing this AND maintaining the ongoing desire to eat vegan has proved to be a significant mental challenge for me since my job is all about advocating for a pure, plant-based diet. I know that it’s fully possible to get all the protein we need without adding animal products into our diet.  And slicing cheese or spooning up some yogurt when packing lunches is conveniently easy compared to soaking and cooking beans and or preparing leafy greens in a way that children will lap them up (see smoothie recipe below).  And yes, I know there’s soy substitutes for cheese and yogurt — I’m just not a fan of most soy-based food products for a whole host of other reasons.

So, keeping some dairy in our diet along with the radical sugar restriction is what we’re doing for now because everyone in our home is happy with it and most importantly — everyone is sleeping and is more agreeable during the day.  I simply have to continue to claim that we’re “mostly” Plant Strong.

Our Kid Happy Kale & Protein Smoothie

In a blender, add and mix the following (and modify measurements as you like):

  • 1 cup Coconut Juice
  • 1/3 can Lite Coconut Milk
  • Bag of Frozen Organic Mixed Berries
  • Handful  of Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • Two big spoonfuls of Almond Butter
  • Steamed/Chopped Kale (leaves only)
  • Add filtered/bottled water for desired thickness

Posted in Nutrition | 6 Comments

Foodie Friday – No Soy Vegan Lasagna

I’ve noticed a few of my favorite Mama bloggers (yea Breastfeeding Moms Unite!) love to write about food on Fridays and I’m finding myself drawn to the same topic today.

I would love to share my vegan, no-soy lasagna recipe with you all.  It’s a hit with the whole team in our house.

The secret substitute for ricotta or tofu:  mashed baked sweet potatoes.

Best no-soy substitute for meat:  field roast (wheat-based) italian sausage. I have only been able to find this at Whole Foods.  Let me know if you’ve seen it elsewhere.

I layer our lasagna with pre-cooked noodles (like ’em better), mashed sweet potatoes, browned vegan sausage, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash, uncooked spinach leaves and two jars of pasta sauce.  Bake covered in oven at 375° for 40 minutes or so.


Some of you may be asking…

Why minimize or eliminate cheese from your diet?  It’s liquid meat.  Check out what vegan freak has to say about it.  I like to pretend that I’m vegan but still find myself eating cheese a few times a week.  Reading vegan freak’s description of cheese as animal pus may just be the ticket for me to let it go for good.

Why avoid soy?  I’m only recently getting clued in to the many reasons soy should be avoided.  Check out all the information on Natural Health Strategies.

So how does a vegan wanting to avoid soy get protein?  Try loading up on cruciferous vegetables (especially broccoli), various legumes (especially lentils, pinto beans and chickpeas), nuts, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries (a complete protein!), and quinoa. Quinoa cooks faster than rice and has far more protein than any other grain.

All for now my friends.  Hope you all have a lovely weekend!!

Posted in Nutrition | 2 Comments

Feeding My Family with Love and Respect

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Cravotta Family DinnerI was drawn to participate in this month’s API Speaks blog carnival because I find the topic so interesting in its subjectivity.  I view myself as:

An advocate of breastfeeding for both its health and nurturing benefits;

Someone desiring to provide and model healthy eating for my children (today we had mac-n-cheese, veggie burgers and fries….some days are better than others); and

Someone with deep curiosity around the intensely personal, primal nature of feeding our young that exists cross-culturally among mothers.

I feel very fortunate to be alive today and part of a generation of women that can experience so much when it comes to equal rights with men. I’m all about competing with men professionally and earning equal pay.

AND at the same time, I like to acknowledge gender differences and embrace all that is inherently feminine.  During this chapter of early parenting years, I personally feel a great sense of my own femininity when nurturing my children with their daily sustenance. I feel connected to all other mothers in the world through this practice — including animals — especially birds for some reason. Funny that one of my 20-something nicknames was “Monnie Bird.” Photo Photo

I think the highly personal aspect of feeding our children with love and respect is how we each define what that means a little differently. To tell a mother that she’s not feeding her child right — iye, iye, iye — that can be seriously offensive!  It seems to cut to the core of a defining aspect of motherhood.

So without implying any kind of critique if yours is different, here’s a window into my family’s practice of feeding with love and respect:

  • Extended Breastfeeding. This is a relative term…some moms define “extended” to mean until a child chooses to wean which could be age four or five. Each to their own. My goal is two years for my littlest. (more…)

Posted in Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Nutrition, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Living the Dream – We Love Our New Housemate!

JeanineHere’s the bizarre dichotomous nature of my life right now. On the one hand, I’m fully living the stress of this recession as my husband and I scramble to figure out how to live off of 10% of the income we had three years ago.

On the other hand, I’ve never been more rich than I am right now. I’ve never felt more alive or inspired to create; I have never been more fully expressed (I love writing my bloggity blog!), and I have never felt more gratitude for everything I have:  My family, my health, my connections with others. Pure sweetness and true wealth in my book.

And — HOLY POWER OF INTENTION — we have a live-in cook!!

Amazing!  Sometimes I still can’t believe it. I can play with my girls and/or exercise while someone else prepares a home-cooked healthy meal and after dinner I can either work or participate in our bed-time routine and someone else cleans the kitchen. What??  Is this for real?? (more…)

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Posted in AP & Self Care, Breastfeeding, Co-Sleeping, Nutrition | 3 Comments


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