Guest Post: Lisa Betts on Raising a Vegetarian Family

I am so excited to welcome Lisa Betts to the blog today.  Lisa is the author of the blog Vegan Cookbook Academy, where she takes vegan cookbooks through their paces.  Lisa is also Nathalie’s sister-in-law.  Not only is Lisa one of the major inspirations for Nathalie’s becoming (mostly) vegetarian, she is an inspiration for energy, experimentation, variety and fun in the kitchen, and we have been on the receiving end of many of her excellent meals.  (I tried all three of the Three Birthday Cakes, and, yes, they were all as good as they look!)  I’ve never met anyone with more of a passion for learning about the science and art of eating well.  Check out her blog and get your vegan groove on!

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The kitchen is truly the heart of our home. At least, it’s where I spend most of my time, and I put a lot of work into making yummy, healthy food. Of course, feeding children is always a challenge. We have been fairly shameless in our tactics to make the vegetables go in. Basically, the favoured food becomes the reward for eating a less enticing item. On our eldest son this worked amazingly well – “You can have more tofu if you finish your spinach!” – up until quite recently. Now he has particular ideas about how food should look and taste (i.e., no sauce of any kind). Our younger daughter is made of sterner stuff, and is much more difficult to manipulate. I think it is partly because she sees her older brother now resisting his food, and also because she is just that much more independent than he ever was. Second child, after all. I try to get 3-4 different vegetables into them daily, plus at least one big round of protein. I’m still struggling to increase their fatty acid intake, as they don’t reliably finish their smoothies anymore and I am loathe to waste the precious Udo’s Oil. So far, I’m sure this sounds like fairly typical family food dynamics. The only twist is that we are raising our kids as vegetarians.

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My husband and I have been vegetarian since 1997, and we eat very little dairy in day-to-day life. It has never been easier to be a vegetarian, or to be a vegetarian kid. Meat and milk alternatives are flooding the grocery stores, even easy kid foods like veggie dogs and nuggets (basically, things that go with ketchup). Celebrities are crowing about their vegan ways, and there is a growing interest in the health benefits of plant-based eating. The cookbook world is exploding with vegan authors, as my blog can attest (vegancookbookacademy.wordpress.com), meaning that the traditional home cooked meal is evolving from a meat + 2 veg into something more diverse. Not to mention the vegan baking – ditch the eggs and eat the batter, worry-free!

There are so many children with food allergies and intolerances these days that making special vegetarian requests at school and special events is not ostracizing. My eldest eats dairy and eggs, so he is easily satisfied by cheese pizza, chocolate milk, and birthday cupcakes. I do worry when my daughter starts school that she will find it a bit harder, because she is lactose intolerant and has been vegan all of her life. Even when she was exclusively breastfeeding, she would spit up – like, a lot – if I had milk or eggs in my diet, so I followed a strict vegan eating plan as well until she weaned. She may outgrow her intolerance, but I’m not going to push milk on her because I strongly believe that I can raise her to be a strong and healthy vegan. I’ve told enough diaper horror stories to our extended family that they no longer offer her dairy-based treats. When she is sick, and people suggest that perhaps she needs to eat some meat, I politely point out (often through clenched teeth) that all the other children are also sick with the crazy superbugs that are floating around, and their diet is not providing them with any magical immunity. I know that I will bump up against that bias time and time again.

IMG_2071We are at a very critical stage with our oldest, who just completed his first year of junior kindergarten. He has known for a while that being a vegetarian is different, especially at our large family gatherings with the aunts and uncles and all of the cousins (all of his 8 cousins are devouring the turkey and ham at the holiday gatherings). When he recently stayed with his grandmother for a week, he would ask, “What animal are you eating today, Nana?” Up until his time at school, his food was always controlled by his parents. It still is, for the most part, but there are often treats and candy that are handed out and he is now paranoid that they contain meat. Have you ever known a 5-year-old to turn down a bag of candy?? He is even asking me now whether the food that I’m making for him contains meat, and whether the store we are at contains meat. I feel bad that this is a cause for anxiety for him, but he’s figuring it out, and we answer all of his questions the best that we can. I admit that it was a bit tricky to explain my t-shirt that reads, Kale is the New Beef.

Will my children stay vegetarian? Will my son ask enough questions about cheese and milk to give up his beloved dairy? My husband and I have talked about it, and almost expect that eating meat will be a form of rebellion when the time comes: “You will not eat meat in my house, young lady!” When they are old enough to feed themselves and develop their own politics we will let them make their own food choices. Perhaps they will become the faces of the new vegetarian generation. Time will tell…

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Building a Maternity Wardrobe from Scratch by guest blogger, Aly Tsourounis

Our guest today is Aly Tsourounis of the blog The Newlywed Life, a lifestyle blog for the healthy living. Aly is a soon-to-be mom and she opens up about the surprises (shocks!?) of being pregnant, the information overload and the food cravings. Today Aly shares her favourite fashion finds for the expectant mom. Be sure to follow Aly on her blog as she chronicles life as a first-time mom.

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Building a maternity wardrobe from scratch:

When I first got pregnant I was thrilled with idea of getting bigger and I planned on always showing off my perfect basketball bump in designer denim and fitted shirts. Spoiler alert, bumps aren’t adorable until at least month five and pregnancy boobs need their own postal code, plus maternity clothes are darn expensive. After some trial and error, a few unfortunate outfits and some credit card “discussions” with my husband, I have created a focused yet cute maternity wardrobe (see selfie photo evidence below). Here are my steps on how to create a maternity wardrobe from scratch.  2Q==-4

Step one – Identify your maternity wardrobe needs: On a weekly basis, I need four different “outfit types” – work, weekend lounge wear, workout wear and date night / night out. There is certainly some cross over but highlighting the different occasions that I needed clothes for helped me focus and discouraged me from buying too many striped long sleeve t-shirts when I only need one.

Step two – Assess your current wardrobe: I spent a weekend afternoon going through my entire closet and determined what would last me through my pregnancy and what needed to be put into storage. Things that stayed: blazers, cardigans, long tank tops, a couple stretchy tops / dresses and most of my workout gear. Be harsh, now is not the time to keep your skinny jeans or fitted LBD.

Step three – Create a list and a budget: This step involves numbers and is a bit boring but it is key, especially since you will be wearing this clothing for such a short period of time. My biggest money-saving tip is to consider sizing up in certain items, especially basics. For example, I bought a number of plain black and white size large tank tops from Forever 21 for $5 / a piece and I wear them daily. Why spend $50 when the $5 one can do the trick? This also allowed me to splurge on a pair of dark denim designer jeans that I wear three times a week. Do your research and don’t get sucked into the everything must be maternity mindset.  2Q==-3

Step four – Go shopping!: The last step is obviously the most fun! There are tons of options out there when it comes to maternity clothes, from the traditional to the trendy so be sure to take your time shopping and don’t spend all your money in one place! I have found great pieces from a number of stores including Target (Liz Lange), H + M (regular), Motherhood Maternity, ASOS Maternity, Forever 21 and Ani & Wren.

Step five – Own it: Experiencing pregnancy is a beautiful thing but it can also be really hard to see your body go through so many changes. Having clothes that make you feel good can make a huge difference but remember, you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. So to all the pregnant mamas out there, hold your head up high and push those bellies out!  2Q==-5

Simplify? It’s too complicated!

Are you snowed under?  Staggering under the endless to do list?  Sleepless because you can’t shut off because there is so much to do at this time of year?  Dreading the crowds at the mall?  You hear the clarion call to simplify, but, really, at this point, it’s too much work!

This week, 4mothers will be writing about the pressure to simplify and how, sometimes, “simple” can be more work than … “complicated.”

We are thrilled to welcome as our guest, Kristina Cerise from Defining Motherhood.  It was her post “Gift Giving the Goldilocks Way” that inspired this week’s theme, and we are so pleased to have her contribute to our discussions.

In the mean time, please enjoy these pictures of people’s attempts to copy ideas from Pinterest.  Not everything on Pinterest is as simple or as easy as it looks….

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