Why We Shouldn’t Eat Meat and Dairy: From 10 Year-Old

Why We Shouldn't Eat Meat Or Dairy - from a 10 year old www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

With school coming to a close this week, I want to share something pretty remarkable that took place this year.

In the spring, our 10 year old, Bridget, came to me after school about speeches taking place in her class. The conversation went something like this:

B: Mom, we are doing speeches in our class and get to pick our own topic.

Me: Ok, well, what do you think you’d like to talk about?

B: I already know. I want to talk about why people shouldn’t eat meat and dairy.

I paused for a minute. Then I replied “Are you sure?? We can think of other ideas?

In other words, I wasn’t sure. While we talk about many aspects of food at home, I don’t expect our girls to be activists in school or with their friends. I don’t ask them to preach the values of a plant-based diet. But this came up entirely organically for her. Despite my questioning her readiness, she was certain. She was passionate to share why she felt, in her heart, why people shouldn’t eat meat and dairy.

She presented her speech to her class, and was then chosen to present her speech to the school and parents.

I’m posting her speech for you to read and share:

Good morning / afternoon teachers and fellow students!

Raise your hand if you eat meat or dairy. Raise your hand if you think you have to eat meat and dairy to be healthy.

My name is Bridget, and today I’m going to share 3 important reasons not to eat meat and dairy: our health, the environment, and animals.

Meat and dairy are not good for us like people think. Studies have shown that our biggest health problems are linked to eating meat and dairy – including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. We don’t need to eat meat or dairy, we can get all the nutrition we need in other foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains. Not only can you be healthier without eating meat and dairy, it is also better for our environment, and kinder to animals that share our world.

In order for us to eat meat and dairy, animals have to be raised in factory farms. These are not farms with grass and sunshine. Instead, animals are kept in buildings that are factories, and people are cruel to the animals. Animals suffer and are tortured every day of their lives on these farms. On milk farms, baby cows are even torn away from their moms so the mommy cows can produce milk. If they don’t produce enough milk they kill the cows. The baby cows never see their mothers again.

Eating meat and milk products is also bad for our environment. We all want to do things like recycle, and use less water to help our environment. But, the one thing that makes the MOST difference? How much meat and dairy we eat. Consider this: skipping just one burger saves enough water to drink for 3 months!

Chickens, pigs, and cows feel and love just the same as animals like cats and dogs. They bond with other animals, and with people too. They value their lives just as much as we do, and they feel pain just as we do. If people treated our cats and dogs the way cows and chickens are treated on factory farms, they would be arrested! Yet, we eat these animals every day, but we would never imagine eating our dog or cat.

I have been raised without meat and dairy. I’m healthy, happy, and just like other kids. I eat pizza, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, and so many other delicious foods, without any meat or milk! Every time we make a choice not to eat animals, it helps our health, our planet, and the animals. Please think about this. Thank you.

She asked if she could wear the “Plant-Powered” t-shirt for her speech. I didn’t encourage that one, either! Here she is on her way out the door that morning…

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…and here she is delivering her speech to the school (see the raised hands?)

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As a parent, we wonder whether our children are receiving the lessons and messages we are communicating. When days are tough, we feel our efforts are wasted, or that we are doing a terrible job as a mother or father. Then, we have moments where we see our children blossoming, developing into their own person. We see their heart, their courage, their care, their beautiful spirit.

This was one of those moments for me. Bridget feels more compassion about animals than any of our daughters. It’s just “in” her. She wants to free every bug or fly that enters our home, and she wants to start an animal rescue this summer… at our house! (We’ll talk about that one, lol.) But, this child has a heart for animals. More than I ever impressed upon her or ever expected. She was proud to present this speech, and I was beyond proud to listen to her.

Who knows, next year we may revolutionize hot lunch. Baby steps. :)

Feel free to share this speech! 

x Dreena

Top 5 Vegan Father’s Day Recipes

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With end-0f-year field trips and recitals, Father’s Day has snuck up on me this year! I have one day to pull things together, so going to start with planning a favorite plant-powered dish for Dad’s day. I will definitely be choosing one or more of these…

Top 5 Father’s Day recipes:

1) Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip

A creamy vegan artichoke dip made withOUT vegan cheese substitutes, all whole foods! Artichoke Spinach Dip - by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #glutenfree
This may be a “top 5″ recipe for just about any occasion. Definitely loved by the dad in this house!

2) Jerk Chickpeas

Jerk Chickpeas #vegan www.plantpoweredkitchen.com
If the dad in your life loves spicy dishes, serve up these chickpeas. Over a grain, or in a wrap – with avocado, please!

3) Nutty Veggie Burgers

Nutty Veggie Burgers www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #vegan
I know it’s cliche to offer up burgers as a Father’s Day meal, but in my house, they really are a hit – and this recipe hits all the marks for flavor and texture. Our “he-gan” also loves these Mushroom Pecan.

3) Thai Chick-Un Pizza

Thai Chick-Un Pizza #vegan www.plantpoweredkitchen.com
It’s fun, it’s flavorful! If you love the vegan cheese, add a sprinkle of that too.

5) Creamy Fettucine

Creamy Fettucine #vegan www.plantpoweredkitchen.com
This is one of my new recipes, from Plant-Powered Families. But, you can nab the recipe here.

Wait. No dessert?!

You know me better than that. :)

My top 5 Father’s Day desserts:

1) 5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato: Dessert doesn’t get much easier than this!

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

2) Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake + Chocolate Sweets Frosting www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #vegan #wfpb
So, if you haven’t made this dessert from PPF yet, you really need to! It’s the perfect chocolate cake for dad.

3. Raw Strawberry Pie

Raw Strawberry Pie from Let Them Eat Vegan
If your dad would like a non-chocolate dessert, this one is positively gorgeous and delicious!

4) Chai Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Chai Peanut Butter Ice Cream #vegan www.plantpoweredkitchen.com
If you have an ice cream maker, and your guy love PB, this one is a winner! (Try serving with the milk chocolate sauce from Plant-Powered Families!)

5) Cookies

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies #vegan #oilfree www.plantpoweredkitchen.com
We’ve gotta’ have a few cookies for dad! These Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies from PPF are oil-free and dynamite! Couple of other ideas: Nummy Brownie Bites, Snifferdoodles and my classic Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Happy Dad’s Day!

What are you making for the special dad in your life?

x Dreena

 

News! and Ottawa VegFest!

 

Hi friends!

I had hoped to share a recipe with you this week, but I’ve been preparing for a trip. I don’t travel often, and wow, there’s so much to coordinate!

I’ll be at Ottawa VegFest this year! If you’re planning to attend, I’ll be doing two talks:

1. Building a Plant-Powered Pantry – Saturday morning, 10:15 am
2. Plant-Powered Families – Sunday morning, 10:15 am

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I’ll also be signing books after both talks, you can get full details of the festival here.

Speaking of books… I heard from my publisher today that Plant-Powered Families has already hit a reprint! I have all of you to thank for embracing this book and supporting my work. ♥ If you don’t have your copy yet, you can order online through Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Indigo, or pick up at any local bookstore (if they aren’t stocking the book, please ask them to bring it in).

NEW! Plant-Powered Families cookbook by Dreena Burton

If you already own PPF and you’re loving it, please consider leaving a few good words on amazon. I sincerely appreciate the reviews many of you have already contributed!

I’ll share that recipe once I return from Ottawa. Until then a few recent reviews, giveaways, and recipe features that you can catch up on…

Bits and Bites:

The Blender Girl review and recipe for Creamy Fettucine
Kathy Patalsky of Healthy, Happy Life review, giveaway, and recipe for Cinnamon French Toast
Love Fed review, giveaway, and recipe for Savory Chickpea Omelets
Kiwi Magazine recipe for Baconut
Veg Kitchen recipe for Polenta Pizza Crust
Pure Thyme review, giveaway, and recipe for Artichoke Sunflower Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce and No-Bake Granola Bars
Taste Space review and recipe for Chickpea Nibbles
Vegan Mainstream review and Q&A
Heartwise Ministries Radio Interview

Photos: Plant-Powered Families Book Signing

Last weekend was my first book signing for Plant-Powered Families – at MeeT restaurant. MeeT has only been open since last August, and is already a wildly popular vegan and gluten-free restaurant in Vancouver. If you are local, you must get in for some delicious plant-powered food!

Today I thought I’d share some photos from the event…

We had a gorgeous sunny Saturday morning, stacking up the books:

Plant-Powered Families Book Signing - MeeT Restaurant www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Putting out the food samples, we had Crazy Brownies, Red Lentil Hummus, Southwest Quinoa Salad, and Almond Zen Granola (all from PPF, of course).

Plant-Powered Families Book Signing - MeeT Restaurant www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Our eldest daughter (Charlotte) helping set out the food. Those of you that have Vive le Vegan from 2004 – yep, that’s her!

Plant-Powered Families book signing www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Crazy Brownies moment. Make them, k? They are quickly becoming one of the ‘hot’ recipes in PPF.

Crazy Brownies from Plant-Powered Families book signing www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Squeezing in some of my other titles….

Plant-Powered Families book signing www.plantpoweredfamilies.com

SURPRISE! Elsa made an appearance. Yes, Frozen still alive and well in our household.

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Where is that recipe?…

Plant-Powered Families Book signing www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Catching up with Laura Simonson, and meeting Anna Pelzer

Plant-Powered Families book signing www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Signing books…

Plant-Powered Famlies Book Signing www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Meeting beautiful local mamas Tara and Denise (from our Plant-Powered Families FB group)…

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um, I think Denise and I are sisters separated at birth…

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Funny side-story: I come from a family of 6 girls, all with “D” names. Denise has 4 daughters, all “D” names. Whaaaaat? Right?!!

and Tara wins the FABULOUS Hippie Foods door prize!

Hippie Foods Prize awarded! At Plant-Powered Families book signing www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

After the event, I settle in with the fam for a delicious lunch at MeeT. Elsa joined us. 😉

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And, MeeT surprised us with lunch ‘on the house’! Awesome. We love this place.

Yup.

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Thanks to MeeT for hosting my signing. Thanks to my family for supporting me, as always. And, thanks to those of you that joined us for the fun.

Have you been to MeeT restaurant? What’s your favorite menu item?

photo thanks to Jackie Picard :)

Recipe Posts for Christmas and New Year’s

 

Hi friends…

I had planned to share some new recipes with you before the holidays. After one very rough, but enlightening day this week, I realized a work break was essential.

Behind the scenes of social media and blogging I’ve been attending to work on the new book (design edits and preparing for the launch), getting ready for the holidays, and well, keeping up with daily life as a mom of three. In short, I’ve been exhausted and stressed.

I find it very hard to step back from my work, because I love it so much. But, taking a break from blogging and social media is one area that I can simplify right now.

As mothers, we give so much, and rarely give back to ourselves. This Christmas I am gifting myself with a break! Please do the same for yourselves before the holidays, my women and mama friends. We all need it.

I leave you with these two posts for recipes through the holidays: my Christmas Day menu, and ideas for New Year’s Eve.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and love-filled holiday season with your family! Thank you always for your support.

x Dreena

 

 

A+ Healthy Baking Recipes for Back-to-School (nut-free)

I’m late with a back-to-school post year, but that’s because our kids aren’t back in school yet!  In British Columbia, there is a teachers’ strike that began in June, so our girls still haven’t returned to school yet, and probably won’t until October. Our girls have a tutor right now, and are doing some daily online work. It’s not the same, for them it’s an extended summer. Nevertheless, I am trying to feel the “back-to-school” vibe, and getting in to my regular baking routine!

During the school year, I rely on a few key baked goods to put into lunch rotation for the girls’ lunches (and also for hubby’s work lunch). These snacks are all nut-free, so perfect for school snacks. People always ask “what do you pack for lunches”. Last year I posted my top 10 recipes for packing school lunches, and today I’m sharing my A+ List of Healthy Baking Recipes for Back-to-School!

Top Healthy Baking Recipes for Back-To-School! #nutfree #vegan

1) Maple Banana Bread Muffins: These are a long-time family fave, and I cannot tell you how many tweets and notes I get saying something like “omg those muffins are wicked“. They really are good. And easy!  So, go bake them. :)

Maple Banana Bread Muffins by Dreena Burton, #vegan #oilfree

 

2) Apple-Hemp Muffins: I love these because they pack a good dose of nutrtient-dense hemp seeds in a fragrant, tasty muffin. Kids can be a little fussy about eating hemp seeds, they won’t even know they’re in these muffins!

Apple Hemp Muffins by Dreena Burton, #vegan #oilfree

 

3) Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oat Bars: These are the bars I make when I want a snack that will “hold up” well (ie: it won’t get squished in a pocket during a field trip!) These are dense, chewy, bars that are a much healthier alternative to storebought granola bars – and far more satisfying. I usually double the batch and freeze half! These are from my PP15 ebook, and if you don’t have a copy, I offered a special on my FB page last week. I’ll extend the offer, use code PP15school at checkout for 25% off!

Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oat Bars by Dreena Burton, #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree

Oh, and this particular photo of the bars was taken by Tami of Nutmeg Notebook. She shared on Instagram, and I’ve reposted a few times since!

4) Oat Snackles: (Pictured in background, on dishtowel) These are what I bake when I feel like I have literally 10 minutes to get something in the oven. If you make them enough times, I bet you can meet that time! The kids love them, and you can customize with dried fruit, chocolate chips, seeds, etc.

Oat Snackles, by Dreena Burton #vegan #oilfree #glutenfree

5) Power Cookies: These are a cookie treat, but still quite healthy. I’ll be putting this new cookie in rotation this year. For the kids… right. 😉

Power Cookies by Dreena Burton - #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

 

6) BF Blueberry Muffins: These I make a little less often just because the prep is a wee bit longer (not much, just slightly). When I do make them, the girls think they are quite the treat!

BF Blueberry Muffins by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

 

7) Berry Scuffins: When you want a baked berry fix that’s a little quicker, this is your recipe! For the fall and winter, you can use frozen berries or substitute apple or pear (toss in a little lemon juice first to help prevent discoloring).

Berry "Scuffins" by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #oilfree

 

8) Banana Oat Bundles. I’ve been making these since my 13 year old was a wee babe! They are the perfect grab ‘n go snack, for lunches or anytime of the day. (And the added chips, always welcome.)

Banana Oat Bundles by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree

 

10. Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls. Ok, technically not a baked good, but certainly a healthy school treat (with a nut-free option) and most definitely a favorite for kids!

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls by Dreena Burton #vegan

There you have it! My favorite, wholesome, baked snacks for packing into lunches. All of these recipes freeze well, so if you are energized to double batches, go for it!

Oh WAIT. I have another… these CINNABON MUFFINS...

Cinnabon Muffins by Dreena Burton #vegan

Brand new! Bit of a teaser, I have another round of testing to go, then I will share up. Promise!

What is your go-to baking recipe during the school year? Share what works for you!

Pressing Pause

Hi friends,

You may have noticed I haven’t been as present on my blog and online. I’ve decided to take some time for a work break, or to make some work changes.

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Our middle girl finds hearts everywhere – in food, rocks – and just yesterday during a park visit, in this puddle.

The last two years I’ve been going full force. First with the release of LTEV, then starting another cookbook, working online, and of course everything that goes with being a mom of three. Life has been particularly busy since September, and it’s time to regroup.

Sadly, and ironically, what I love to do most – creating in the kitchen every day – isn’t materializing on this blog right now. I have stacks of recipes that I would love to share with you, things I’m excited about developing in the moment and passionate to share. Yet, those recipes remain scribbled on sheets in my kitchen or office, never reaching you. I’m one person, and right now that’s not enough womanpower to keep up with life as a blogger, recipe developer, author, and mother. While my creative fire still burns, life is telling me to pause and be more present with myself and our children, and to assess my work and passions.

I don’t know if this as simple as taking a break in the short-term, or changing my work focus longer-term. Perhaps I’m still on the right path, but just need to walk – not run. What I do know is I need time to reflect, organize, and find clarity. This will be hard for me, as I love to create and share, and I’ve become very accustomed to “doing” all the time. Hopefully, I will receive some guidance or signs to help me with this decision.

I trust you all understand. I have deep appreciation for the encouragement and support you’ve offered as friends and readers, especially as I finished this latest book. My plant-powered gratitude and love…

Dreena

14 Recipe Ideas for New Year’s Eve!

As we clue up 2013, I thank you for being part of this community. I value your engagement through comments and feedback, and also your support and generous compliments. Let’s enjoy much more plant-powered goodness in this coming new year!

14 party ideas to ring in a healthy, compassionate 2014!

Whether you are having a quiet night at home, or celebrating with a new year’s eve party, I have a vegan recipe round-up to make your evening delicious!

Here are 14 party food ideas to help you ring in a healthy, compassionate 2014!

The countdown (in no particular order other than ending with a dessert!)…

14. Wonder Spread. I just posted this one, so you probably don’t need reminding. Actually, maybe you do! Make it! It’s scrumptious slathered on some great artisan breads – or for baked potatoes. You could also thin it out and toss into quinoa or drizzle over broiled asparagus or steamed broccolini.

Wonder Spread - by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

13. Rawesome Nut Dip. Serve it a bowl with crackers (raw or otherwise), or tucked into mini bell peppers, endive leaves, or cherry tomatoes. Or, use it as a filling for rolls for finger food (ex: baked mini phyllo rolls).


12. Creamy Artichoke Dip.  I know I’ve talked about this one a lot, but that’s only because it is freaking amazing, and readers are LOVING it!

creamyartichokespinachdipLZ
photo credit: 86lemons.com

11. Falafels with Smoky Tahini Sauce.  I served these for a holiday get-together one year, along with the Quinoa Nicoise (in LTEV), and the Lemon-Rosemary Potatoes and Creamy Hummus (both from Vive le Vegan!) – HUGE hit!


10.  Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Croquettes with Pumpkin Seed Chipotle Cream These are so incredibly tasty, your guests will deem you some sort of flavor wizard that has revitalized their tired holiday tastebuds! Definitely a dish to impress (but not that difficult to make)!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Quinoa Croquettes with Pumpkin Seed Chipotle Cream

9. Mini-Burgers. Take a favorite burger recipe, and make mini-patties, for sliders, or for dipping. Try Mediterranean Bean Burgers from LTEVNutty Veggie BurgersMushroom Pecan Burgers, or the now very popular Umami Almond Burgers!

mushroompecanburgers

8. Chickpea Salad Rolls. These are fresh and fast, and the salad mixture is a little like a mock tuna salad, but far lighter without vegan mayo.  Roll in leafy greens like chard, romaine leaves, or steamed collards, in rice paper rolls, or make into more elegant finger sandwiches.


7. Moroccan Bean Stew. If you are having a cozy, homey New Year’s Eve and want a soup, this is one of my favorites. It is special and elegant enough to serve to guests, and is also delicious paired with breads with the  from LTEV.

Moroccan Bean Stew

6. Vegveeta Dip. I need to say little other than – YUMMY! 😀  Mix in a few spoonfuls of salsa, and serve up with tortilla chips. Easy as that.


5. Cannellini Bean Sweet Potato Hummus. There is a hummus for every occasion! For New Year’s Eve, skip the traditional puree and try this sweet and smoky version. This recipe is a bit of a hidden gem, give it a try! Roasted Red Pepper Almond Hummus is another goody.

4. Kale Slaw.  Even less adventurous foodie guests will enjoy this salad because the dressing coats the ingredients so scrumptiously!  The 3-Bean salad pictured would also be a great potluck salad – so simple you could throw it together last minute!

Kale-Slaw and 3-Bean Salad, Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

3. Jerk Chickpeas or Chickpea Ratatouille. Have either dish potluck style with tortillas, rice, and avocado – you’re set!

Chickpea Ratatouille, by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

2. Creamy Cashew Dip. Most folks are little tired of sugar-laden cookies at this point in the holidays. This dip is lightly sweetened, and pairs well with fruit. Also, those Softly Spiced Nuts peeking out in the bottom right hand corner make a fine nibbly New Year’s Eve party snack!

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1. Easy, Healthy Dessert Bars. If you’d like to make a cookie treat, but want something healthier, opt for Frosted BrawniesRaw Chai Bars with Creamed Cheese Frosting, or the new Vanilla Bean Almond Fudge. All will satisfy your sweet tooth, all very easy to make!

Raw Chai Bars with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting - photo by Lisa Pitman
Photo credit: Lisa Pitman, veganculinarycrusade.com

These are all very omni-friendly recipes too. Nothing too unusual for those new to plant-based dishes. Just some really good food… made with really good ingredients!

Wishing you a blessed and healthy New Year! What plant-powered dishes are you making to ring in 2014?  xx

Vida Vegan Con 2013: The Food, The People, The Fun!

Sitting at my computer for the first time since last Thursday. What a whirlwind trip off to Portland, Oregon for the Vida Vegan blogging conference. This is only the second event in its history, and yet it is a wonderland of vegan personalities and of course, vegan food!

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I arrived Thursday afternoon, and that night went to dinner with my buddy JL, her hubby Dave, and our new friend Ashley from The Unintentional Vegan. I actually saw JL as the elevator doors opened (we stayed at same hotel), and we squealed SO loud I think we damaged Dave’s ears! JL had reservations at Natural Selections. WHAT a find! They had a four-course vegan menu (their menu changes daily), and it was phenomenal. By far the best meal of my visit. I don’t remember the names of the dishes (pop to JL’s blog to check, she took a pic of the menu!), but here are some pics (quality not the best b/c of lighting, and well we wanted to EAT!).

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Every course was exquisite with rounded flavors and special touches. We all literally groaned tasting the first bites of each dish. JL had chosen this restaurant after reading a review by Grant Butler in the Oregonian. If you visit Portland – get there!

The next morning I was meeting my dear friend Heather Nauta for brekkie! We got lucky, the “Kure” juice/smoothie bar was 2 blocks from my hotel, it fit our bill perfectly. I got the “Queen Green” smoothie. Of course. 😉 We also bumped into Lisa Pitman (I hugged her extra long to absorb her joy, see pic below), Nicole Axworthy (photographer for my upcoming cookbook!), Hannah, Angela Liddon, Kate Lewis, and Marika Collins. (Some photos to come.) Here I am with Heather afterwards at the VVC registration:

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Also at registration I met Isa Chandra Moskowitz for the first time.

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We got our swag bag. Holy shmokes, lots of stuff:

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I had my first panel that morning – “Compassionate Parenting” with Sayward Rebhal, Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten:

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photo credit Ami Baio, heart-shaped sky

Here I am later with Sayward:

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I had no idea she was so tall! I have slight heels on here, and Sayward is in flats! I missed getting photos with Michelle and Josh. What a beautiful, kind group of people. Splendid energy, loved it.

After that panel I met my Canadian blogging buddy, Ricki Heller and we snapped a pic with Angela. Canadian Plant-Power!!

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This is the first time I’ve met both, despite having ‘known’ them through blogging and email for years. What a pleasure to hang out with these ladies. Ricki’s new book is coming out this fall, by the way. If you are gluten-free and vegan and love healthy sweets – just go preorder! Angela was so unassuming and humble despite her huge fan following, she is as lovely as you can imagine – and yes, she glows. 😉

Food interruption!! Sampled this Wayfare oat ice cream. O M G.

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There was a LOT of decadent vegan food at the conference. Coconut Bliss also have a new Salted Chocolate Caramel flavor (WOW!) and So Delicious has a new sugar-free ice cream (also amazing). Thank HEAVENS the kind people from Portland Juice Press let me monopolize their Saturday morning sample table (later I scored a whole bottle, saved my butt that day)! Later Angela Liddon and I escaped with Tess Masters (aka The Blender Girl!) for another green juice! Here I am with Tess, must admit I have bit of a girl crush! :)

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Also finally met my friend Gena. She is also so unbelievably real and down-to-earth, despite her huge online presence and career accomplishments. Her smile brightens my heart.

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Group pic with Ricki, Heather, Christy, JL and Gena:

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Later I did the “Art of Writing Recipes” panel with Terry Hope Romero and Nava AtlasJason Das tweeted this sketch of us afterwards. HOW COOL! (And, how did I miss meeting you, Jason?!) It was a flurry of activity and people.

artofwritingsketch

Here I am later with Nava. What a privilege to meet this vegetarian and vegan cookbook pioneer. I have communicated by email so many times with Nava, and this was our first time to meet. I felt like I’d known her forever, so easy to talk to, great sense of humor, and so much career wisdom.

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Also reunited Fran Costigan (we first met at Summerfest). Here I am with Fran and Brian Patton (aka The Sexy Vegan). Brian is funny and witty in his videos, and in person he is that and also a really sweet guy. I’ve been tweeting with him the last month, he is uber-fun. I’m sure I’ve annoyed the heck out of him, repeatedly telling him to get gifts for his beautiful pregnant wife!

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Also reunited with Allison Rivers Samson and Jill Nussinow. Couple pics of these vegan divas!

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Jill with Lisa and Nicole…

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If you’re still with me (!), here’s that “joy hugging” with Lisa:

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My 3rd and final panel was “oversharing and privacy lines” with Susan Voisin and Joanna Vaught. Gosh, so blown away by the spirit of personalities at this conference. Again, for someone with the reputation and fan base that Susan has garnered, she is one of the most genuine and gentle people I have ever met. This panel was useful for many bloggers I think, to determine what type of blog they want to have (more lifestyle-oriented like Joanna, or more recipe-based like Susan’s or mine), and how much of our personal lives we are willing to share. Joanna was engaging and humorous, first time I met her as well!

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I met Whitney of Eco-Vegan Gal fame. I must admit, I was a little nervous meeting her – she is so savvy. But, I should not have been. Whitney is every bit as warm and beautiful as she appears in her videos.

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Here we are at the Galarama Saturday night. Isn’t she just naturally stunning? She complimented me on my style! I cannot tell you how lovely that is to hear as a mom of three normally bustling about in day-to-day routines. Only wish I had more time with you, Whitney!

With Grant Butler at gala:

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Another gala pic, with Jared Bigman. We had quite a few laughs, made my night!

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And with Cadry Nelson from Cadry’s Kitchen:

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So many pics, so little time…

Another with JL. Gosh, she is FUNNY. She cracked me up at dinner the first night, and her no-nonsense attitude is refreshing.

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I met many other people just briefly but didn’t get a chance to talk with them or get photos. Didn’t even get a photo with VVC organizers Jess, Janessa, and Michele (boo). As much fun as it was (and it WAS)… boy, it was good to get home. Seeing the girls jumping around in the van to pick me up was the best. Our eldest had drawn this to welcome me home:

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I think it’s a peace offering for the week of housework I have ahead of me. 😉

Were you at VVC? Tell us what your favorite eats were, the highlights, etc! 

(p.s. for more photos and fun, check out #VVC2013)

Motherhood and Working: Finding The Balance

I’ve done a lot of food blogging in recent months, developing new recipes and posting some goodies from my cookbooks as well. Today, I am not posting ANY food pics – but I hope you’ll still stick around, read, and join my discussion (despite not having any visual food appeal)!

I’ve been mothering for 12 years now. I’ve been writing cookbooks even longer, and blogging about 8 years. Through these years, I have been asked many times – both in my personal life and through online acquaintances – “how do you do it? … how do you find the balance?“.

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My short reply is often “I’m not sure there is any balance“. We may wax poetic about how us moms can “have it all”, but is that really true? Can we? For me, motherhood and working has always been more of a juggling act than a balancing act. With all the demands of family and work-life, something has to give – eventually a ball is going to drop.

Admittedly, I don’t even experience the challenges of working outside the home. The pressure and stress that must arise from trying to keep on top of chores, errands, your household, kids’ activities, homework, and just simple “time” with children – to talk about daily joys or worries. I can only imagine how trying it must be to keep on top of day-to-day life. Myself, I have perpetual guilt when I’m working… that I’m spending time in front of the computer instead of with my girls. (Time in the kitchen is easier to mentally and emotionally justify – the family reaps the benefits of the cooking and baking). And, if I take much time off to reboot with my family, I feel I am not being very responsive with you, my readers – and that I am falling behind on deadlines and projects.

One day I was on the computer (I have dubbed myself “momputer”), and the girls were stick-handling in the garage with hubby. I heard our middle girl say “mom’s missing out on all the fun because she’s tweeting to the world“.

*sinking heart* :(

Truth be told, the idea of dodging pucks in a cold garage is NOT my idea of fun. Yet, I realized in that moment that our girls see me momputing a lot because I don’t have “regular” work hours – I’m catching up when they are engaged and I have a few moments.

As I said, something’s gotta’ give. For me, it’s two areas (1) social and leisure time and (2) household. I rarely go to movies or concerts or events or dinners or even tea with my girlfriends (they are nodding their heads right now). Hubby and I have little time together as a couple too, partly because we are struggling with babysitting right now, and we don’t have that extended family support which is such a blessing when raising children (even for their connectedness with other loving adults). So, I work and mother most of my hours. The trickiest part for me is that working blurs into mothering and mothering back into working – there is little separation between the two. Also, areas of my house are disastrously disorganized! I need that Peter Walsh bloke in here to help me sort out my office, my kitchen pantry, and my PHOTOS! (who else has 164,987 digital photos of their kids to go through? Raise your hand!)

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At times it feels like you are not doing anything particularly well! Anyone relate to that? In my heart of hearts, I know that really I AM doing a good job with my work, and more importantly that I AM a pretty good mom (I have my shit days, and even shittier hours). Yet, I think as women, we are often tough on ourselves, because we hold ourselves to high standards and expectations – rooted in our goals for our career and family. As I type this, I have the contract for my next book. I am excited and yet plenty nervous, wondering how I will “do it all”. Things have gotten busier as the girls have grown, and they aren’t slowing down yet!

Recently I’ve had many discussions with girlfriends about this pressure of working and motherhood. Several of my friends have been at home with their kiddos since birth, and now that their youngest children are in kindergarten they are struggling with the decision of going back to work. We have talked about how it’s still so busy even with the kids in school, catching up on household chores and also being part of school volunteering, and more. Then, once the kids are out of school, our days truly just begin! With homework and activities, dinner hour, and bath/bedtime and getting ready for the next day – there is so much to do in those after-school hours. Some of my friends don’t really want to go back to work, but they feel that pressure to do so, that it is expected. Many of them are asked “well, what are you going to DO now?”  Huh?! I find that upsetting and unfair, as if there is nothing to do during school hours. And, it is disappointing that our worth is so quickly ‘diminished’ as mothers once our children are in school. Our children still need us, in many ways! Also, many mothers feel the financial pinch to get back to work because our current day of parenting means we have so many expenses associated with our kids’ activities. After being at home for 7-10 years with children, it’s not simple to transition back to the work force. We need more flexibility with hours, our skills sets may need retuning, the field we’ve worked in has moved on “without us”, we may have completely different interests than before (often we do).

While I hardly have all the answers, I have found a few things that work for me. First, I do love my work. It feels meaningful and creative and purposeful. I wouldn’t work as hard as I do if I didn’t have this connection and passion. Second, I respect my burnout. When I have had too much, I break from blogging or social media. I only blog about once a week, because that’s really all I can maintain right now. Third, I respect my sleep. I have always been an early bird – early to bed, early to rise. So, I don’t abuse that. I shut off from momputing by about 8:30pm. Here’s the embarrassing confession: I’m in bed most nights by 9:30. I know, plant-powered partay! Well, I’m often up at 5:30 or 6am, so it’s my rhythm. Sleep is critical for maintaining our serenity as mothers, and I have had periods of torturous insomnia after having children – which could be a whole post on its own. So, I do my best to respect my rhythms and try – try – not to be hard on myself. Fourth, I exercise. I don’t run miles or endure long, exhausting workouts. For my body, just small spurts of daily exercise works best. So, 20-30 minutes a morning of yoga, weight-training, or rebounding (I hope to post about that soon)! Fifth, I feel whole foods help energize and stabilize me through the day. My diet is about 80-85% whole foods. I’m not perfect, I enjoy my treats. I love my chocolate. And there you have my sixth coping mechanism. 😉

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There are many things I know I should do more. I know I should meditate, have more “me” time like spa visits (ahhhh!), get out for girls’ nights, and also get away to food and veggie conferences more often. Maybe in time. I’m sure I could fit in even 10 minutes of meditation a day, that might be the best place to start.

As for “finding the balance”, that may forever remain elusive … at least until our children are much older and independent – and by that time I will likely miss the noise and chaos of my current days. 😉

How do you feel? Are you a mother working from home or outside the home? How do YOU do it all? Do you feel you have “balance”? Do you feel a lot of pressure from peers and family and society to “get back to work”? Does that upset you? What are your coping strategies? Please share your thoughts and experiences. I’d really like to hear from you on this, and if you have any links to share – feel free to do so.