Boston V Party – Vegan Food & Craft Beer Fest at SoWa

vegansowa01

Had a great time today at the Boston V Party vegan food and craft beer festival held at SoWa in Boston. It was hosted by Taco Party, a vegan food truck and catering company that makes some pretty delicious tacos.  Sweet potato or sriracha bbq jackfuit taco, anyone? (I so want them to cater one of my birthday parties now – bucket list!)

It was nice to be surrounded by delicious food and other vegans.

vegsowa03
Taco Party –  tacopartytruck.com

Vendors included:

FoMu ice cream, a delicious dairy free ice cream available at many Whole Foods and in their Boston area cafes.

HippieCakes Vegan Bakery, a vegan donut and baked goods company located in NH.

Veggie Galaxy, a vegetarian and vegan comfort food diner located in Cambridge.

Mother Juice, a plant-based juice, smoothie, and snack place with three Boston area locations.

Whole Heart Provisions, a vegan restaurant in Allston with divine looking rice, pilaf, arugula, or marinated kale based bowls.

Soy Much Brighter, a soy wax candle company.

Bootstrap Compost, a Boston area composting service that picks up your compost and drops off premium soil amendment in return.

Dosa N Curry, a vegetarian fusion restaurant featuring North Indian, South Indian, Indo-Chinese and Gourmet Pizza in Somerville, MA.

Prospect Ciderworks, a Boston based hard cider company.

v-dog, a vegan owned and operated dog food and treat company.

Taco Party, the vegan food truck that also offers catering. (Just seeing how many times I can say “Taco Party” in this post.)

vegsowa02

We also spotted some great vegan t-shirts, including another No Meat Athlete shirt! (My preferred racing gear.)

vegsowa04

Vegan options are expanding and it’s much easier to find a great plant-based option at more and more restaurants these days. But it’s still a great feeling to walk into a festival where there are tons of vegan food options and you’re surrounded by people who’ve also fallen in love with eating plants.

IMG_1270c

I wish I could always walk up to a food truck and get a vegan taco. That would be magical.

Sad you missed the fun? There are still opportunities all summer long to have beer outside and visit some food trucks!

SoWa Open Market is open every Saturday and Sunday, April 29-October 29, from 10am-4pm and while not every week features a Boston V Party, their Beer Garden with food trucks hosted by eatBoston at 540 Harrison Ave had a lot of plant-based options. We found vegan options at 4 different food trucks including Indian, Vietnamese and Falafel.

And speaking of love… proud of Boston today for a great #BostonPride event. You could hear the cheering blocks away 🙂 Love wins here.

IMG_1245c

UPDATE 6/14: check out the Boston V Party video from Chris Hendrickson. It’s a great view of the event and that’s me waving at :59 🙂

Veggie Burgers are for Everyone: Vegan Resources for Non-Vegans

This morning I’m working on a resource guide to give people after tonight’s screening of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret that I’ve organized through Sustainable Wellesley.

One of my first messages to everyone is this: remember that every meal counts!

Would I love to see a vegan world? Yes. But I’d also love to see someone start eating a veggie burger out to lunch once in while.

It’s much more feasible that all Americans might eat meatless one day a week than that 1/7th of the population will go vegan.

And every meal matters.

An estimated 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef. Choosing a veggie or black bean burger could reduce your water consumption by more than skipping showers for an entire month. See more mind-blowing facts about our power to conserve by making different food choices here: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

Cowspiracy-600x350

So, veggie burgers are for everyone. Or black bean burgers. Or bean and rice burritos. Or sweet potato enchiladas. DEFINITELY sweet potato enchiladas.

Here are some resources that will help you find delicious environmentally friendly meal choices whether you’re committing to meatless Mondays, trying your first veggie burger, or going all-in.
Popular Plant-Based Recipe Blogs
ohsheglows.com
isachandra.com
findingvegan.com
kblog.lunchboxbunch.com

Meal Planning
lighter.world – meal planning platform with healthy recipes, food preference filters, menu creation, and instacart integration for grocery delivery

Nutrition & Health
pcrm.org – The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is one of the most well-respected and comprehensive guides to plant-based eating health and nutrition
nutritionfacts.org – quick video and blog summaries of the latest research on food and health

Finding Restaurants
happycow.net – online database (and app) listing vegetarian, vegan and veg-friendly restaurants by zip code

Other Documentaries
Forks Over Knives
Vegucated
• Earthlings
What The Health

Popular Cookbooks
• The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
But I Could Never Go Vegan! By Kristy Turner
Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan Resources
• Vegan Outreach’s Mentor Program veganoutreach.org
Food for Thought Podcast – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
• PETA’s Vegan Starter Kit peta.org

Meal Delivery Services
• Purple Carrot (you receive recipe and prepped ingredients) purplecarrot.com
• Fresh N Lean (meals premade for reheating) freshnlean.com
• Veestro (meals premade for reheating) veestro.com

 

Are we really getting 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day?

I recently watched a video on nutritionfacts.org about the percentage of people who lead a healthy lifestyle, defined for the study in question as 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, not smoking, not overweight, and getting five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

It was 3%.

I mentioned to Greg how glad I was that we were in that three percent, and he said “are you sure?” So we counted our servings for that day.

A serving of fruit or vegetables is 1/2 a cup or 1 medium fruit, and 1 cup for leafy greens.

Maybe I got two servings out of this pizza?

   The day we saw the video I’d eaten:

  • Whole grain french toast made with soy milk & banana batter (maybe 1/4 serving of banana each?)
  • Burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, tomato salsa, lettuce and cilantro (probably 1 serving of vegetables total)
  • Whole wheat pizza topped with mushrooms and green peppers with blueberries, carrots and tomatoes on the side. (1-2 servings of vegetables on the pizza)

 

That’s conservatively 2 and 1/4 servings from the entrees. In order to meet my daily fruit and vegetable requirement I’d have to consume an additional 2.75 servings, or about 1 and a half cups of combined carrots, blueberries and tomatoes at dinner.

I probably ate at least a cup, because they’re delicious and our family of 4 consumed this entire plate.

So on a day selected at random, I’m not sure I even made it.

Granted, these are approximations, and I could well have had more green pepper and mushrooms than 1/2 a cup since I ate three slices of that pizza.

But the point is, I’m not sure. And we only eat plants. It’s easy to assume because we eat primarily whole foods, that we’re getting enough fruits and vegetables. This just shows that there really isn’t room for empty calories.

What about the kids?

If we’re just making it, what about our kids? Their serving size is 1/4 cup because they’re smaller, but to get to 5 you still need to have them eat more than one serving at every meal of the day and another one for snack.

How often am I even putting a serving in front of them at breakfast? Andrew eats a serving of frozen wild blueberries on his oatmeal almost every day, but Will prefers cereal or granola on almond milk yogurt.

I’m not into over-analyzing food and making it a numbers game, but occasionally doing a check to see what you’re really serving (and what the kids are actually eating) can be a good reminder to keep putting those fruits and vegetables on the table alongside whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

Ways my kids love to eat fruits & vegetables:

  • apples and carrots with peanut butter for snack
  • sliced fruit or berries with breakfast
  • red peppers and hummus
  • cucumbers, snap peas or carrots as is
  • kale chips
  • raw broccoli dipped in braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • vegetable soup where we play the “guessing game” and they try to name vegetables they’re tasting with their eyes closed
  • veggies with white bean dip

Slice / wash & serve:

One of the best ways to get vegetables and fruits in is to keep serving them, and I’ve found the easiest way to do that this time of year is to keep vegetables on hand that I can serve raw as part of snack or on the side of meals.

When you’re making snack, can you add fresh produce and reduce the number of crackers?

Before dinner, can you put out a plate of fresh fruit or sliced vegetables as an appetizer? (This is a great way to get more into kids because they’ll be hungry.)

Can you get in the habit of serving fruit with breakfast?

We had Dreena Burton’s amazing spinach and artichoke dip for lunch yesterday and I served sliced radishes, carrots, red peppers and cucumbers along side the tortilla chips for dipping. Using vegetables to eat vegetable based dip? Good way to add up those servings.

How many servings did you get yesterday? How about your kids? Any favorite ways to eat them?

Lighter Makes Meal Planning Easy – And Right Now It’s Free For Everyone!

ChaiSpicedOvernightOats
Get my recipe for Chai Spiced Overnight oats here!

You may remember my review of Lighter, a meal planning service that provides healthy, delicious recipes and puts together a grocery list for you.

They’ve expanded their platform, and as part of their restructure they asked me to provide some recipes and be featured on their website showing what real people eat! They’ve also paused grocery delivery in order to reach more customers, so you no longer need to live near a grocery delivery service to take advantage of their fabulous custom meal plans. (Delivery service may be reintroduced later, for now, you can use their grocery list to quickly order your own!)

I’m incredibly honored and thrilled to be a volunteer for this amazing project.

Kelly Caiazzo (2)

They sent a professional photographer to our house, tested and photographed recipes I submitted, and you can check it all out here! I submitted every recipe listed on my “favorite meals” page except the loaded veggie quinoa bowl, which is a Lighter original I fell in love with while using the Lighter service for our family.

I’m in good company, too – my hero Dr. Greger and local wellness celebrity Stacy Kennedy are also profiled!

What a wonderful opportunity, and I hope you’ll check out Lighter’s new platform.

What is Lighter?

Lighter provides you with meal plans, ingredient lists, and recipes all based on your family’s profile, including how much time you have to cook, what you own for kitchen equipment, and any food dislikes or allergies your family has.

And it’s in beta mode, so it’s all completely free. Anyone can sign up and get customized meal plans made for them, with recipes and grocery lists to go with them!

Healthy eating just got easier 🙂

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

I remember when my oldest first started preschool lunch-bunch. He was going once a week, and I would prepare these elaborate, cute, pinterest-like lunches such as whole wheat pizza dough wrapped soy-dogs or mini-burritos.

Yeah.

It wasn’t sustainable, as you’re probably guessing. It only takes a few weeks of these gourmet lunches coming home only partially eaten to realize that it’s more efficient to make the special and exciting meals when your kid can eat them hot out of the oven in your presence, not pick at them when the food is room temperature and they’re distracted by their peers.

My new lunch-bunch philosophy is this: pack something easy, fast, and kid friendly.

My go-to lunch bunch ideas:

Fruit: They’ll eat it, and it’s fast. I love things I don’t even need to cut, like grapes or blueberries that can just be washed and are kid-friendly and ready to go. They’ll sometimes eat a whole fruit like an apple or banana, but eat more apple slices if I cut them.

Vegetables: I pack the ones they like the best. I basically rotate between carrot sticks, snow peas, red pepper (for my oldest only), cucumber. I sometimes put in one small piece of raw broccoli, which occasionally gets nibbled. I used to try to pack more creative vegetable options, but they weren’t getting eaten. It’s better for them to have some favorites they’ll actually eat.

Hummus / bean dip: They make kids more likely to eat the vegetables, because they can dip them, and they’re a good source of protein. If you can get your kid to eat white or black bean dip as well as hummus, you’ll have some nice options to rotate between. Make a large enough batch so it can be part of your lunch, too!

Crackers: I look for ones with high fiber and the lowest possible amounts of added sodium, sugar and oil. I would love to say I avoid processed foods entirely, but having a box of crackers and hummus in the fridge can make lunch packing SO much easier, and the kids love eating crackers. I look for triscuit type shredded wheat crackers with the least number of ingredients.

Sunflower butter sandwiches: The bread you pick can make a huge difference in the nutritional profile here. I try to find breads that have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice, and limited added sugar. Ezekiel bread is a good option, and Eureka makes a fantastic soft sandwich bread with 5 grams of fiber per slice. Sunflower butter is our school option because it’s a nut-free preschool. Oh She Glows has a great recipe for chia seed jam; if you don’t like the amount of sugar in the preserves/jam options at the store, this is a good way to add the healthy fiber and omega-3s of chia while controlling the amount of sugar in your kids’ sandwich. http://ohsheglows.com/2012/06/26/magical-blueberry-vanilla-chia-seed-jam/ It’s more work, but it can be done in advance, and then you have chia jam for your weekend pancakes… which is AMAZING.

Dried fruit: Great source of quick energy and kids love it. I try to buy unsulphered dried fruit and watch for the added sugar; companies do it because a) it tastes good which sells, and b) it’s a way to add inexpensively weight. My kids love raisins, dried cranberries, dried mango, dried pineapple and dried papaya. One of them will even eat dried goji berries, which are a really anti-oxidant rich food. These make a great sweet dessert-like item and add some condensed calories for fast energy if you have a kid that sometimes gets distracted and doesn’t eat enough at school.

Oat and seed granola bars: I need to get back into doing this, but we would sometimes make homemade granola bars and send those as part of lunch. They’re fun to make, and you can usually substitute any nut ingredients with seed ingredients to make them school friendly. Check out this awesome post from Oh She Glows with 21 snack recipes for school: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/08/26/back-to-school-21-portable-allergy-friendly-snack-recipes-vegan-gluten-free-with-nut-free-options/

Things I’ve stopped sending:

Burritos. They were coming home uneaten, and the thought of all the rice on the preschool carpet made me feel a bit guilty. Plus, I LOVE eating burritos, so I’d rather serve them to the kids when I’m there to eat them, too.

Pasta / Soup / Thermos foods: I love the idea of my four year old opening a warm, savory soup on a cold winter day at preschool. But they’re hit or miss on eating some of this stuff at home. Send it to school and it seems to come back. When they’re older I’d love to reintroduce more options, but right now they only have lunch bunch twice a week, and tend to eat the most when I send finger foods that they like.

Final thoughts:

I used to try to send more balanced lunches than I do now. I have started focusing on getting the healthiest calories my kids will reliably consume into them. If that means I send two kinds of fruit and no veggies one day, maybe that’s o.k. and I can put a vegetable bean soup on the table for dinner. Some days I send them a lunch I know will tide them over, and then plan to feed them immediately after they get home instead of a few hours later.

Check the lunchbox: Our school has a carry in/carry out policy that I love. Their trash comes home with them (for allergy reasons) so I get to see how much they eat each day. I try to check as soon as they get home, so I know if one of them didn’t eat much lunch. Then I can troubleshoot and figure out if they weren’t hungry then, needed more time, or didn’t like what I packed. Giving them more time to eat once they get home is sometimes all it takes. The days I forget to do this, I sometimes have a kid who is melting down at 4 p.m. and I belatedly realize it’s because they haven’t eaten enough over the course of the day. It’s good info to have! If your school doesn’t send trash home, you could always ask your kid to bring it back. It’s easier for them than walking to the trash can, so they might be more than happy to oblige you.

Another resource:

Vegan Lunch Box is a book of vegan (and sometimes whole foods based) lunches. Author Jennifer McCann started a blog and posted every day about what she sent to school in her vegan son’s lunch box, and then compiled the most loved recipes into a book. It has lots of ideas, and I’ll definitely be referencing it again once my kids are eating lunch five days a week at school and rotating my small set of selections is no longer viable.

Thoughts? Brilliant strategies for packing healthy, awesome lunches?