Sunday, April 24, 2011

Artichoke Love

Our local store has some JUMBO artichokes the other day.  I just have to share the joy they brought my family.
Mama, am I dreaming?!
Don't bother cooking it, I'll just eat it like this.

It's as big as MY heart.

Sharing that artichoke heart with my husband and daughter was truly a loving and magical experience.  

In answer to your questions:
Yes, I have seen bigger when I lived near Castroville and when I lived in Humboldt County (they are really good at growing their greenery LARGE in Humboldt).  

Yes, it did fit in the pot whole, we only ate one for all three of us.

Yes, I went back and bought more the next day!  They are out now.

I steam them whole, simple.  We dip in either vegenaise or melted Earth Balance and garlic salt.  I also sometimes make an aoli of sorts out of vegenaise, capers, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. 

No, I do not feed these peels to my worms.  Though I'm sure they could handle it over time, the waste is so great that I don't want to overwhelm them.  I have an outdoor compost this time of year without worms that I put them and all my yard waste in.  It works out nicely that artichoke season is when I can finally compost outside.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Vegan Pregnancy: Part 3

Well, I am 16 weeks and 5 days pregnant today.  This is pretty significant for me, because with my last (omnivore) pregnancy, it was only here that I was ending my severe food aversions and constant nausea.  While I felt like I had pretty bad "morning" sickness this time, in retrospect, I was able to eat a LOT more.  During my first pregnancy, I would eat breakfast and just hope that I could eat again at some other part of the day.

This time, maybe because I also had to feed a toddler, I ate three meals a day through my whole first trimester.  I am still having tummy troubles after I eat, and am not as regular as I'd like to be, but I am able to eat complete meals- what a nice change!

During my last pregnancy, by 16 weeks I had lost 15lbs.  This wasn't horrible, but it's certainly not the goal while growing another human.  This time, my starting weight was 15lbs lighter than my previous prepregnancy weight, and I haven't lost more than a lb or two which I've already gained back, so I'm right where I started.  The baby is only a few ounces, plus some placenta and amniotic fluid, so it's completely fine to have not put on weight yet.  Because I started out overweight, it's not dangerous for me to not gain until midway through my second trimester.

I think the biggest difference between my last pregnancy and this pregnancy in regards to eating enough is that my big food aversions are no longer a part of my diet.  Eggs, chicken, and fish no longer smell up my house when I eat.  I can remember going downstairs into our family room and hiding while my husband would cook chicken for us during my first pregnancy.  I could still smell it cooking from there and I would dry heave at the faint smell.  Now when I cook, most of the smells are good to me, and I've become an adaptive enough chef that I can alter recipes to exclude certain items when I'm having an aversion.  Sometimes the smell of onions or beans or kale bother me, but it hasn't been consistent.

In addition to my steady lack of growth, the baby is measuring exactly to the date when it should, so that's great.  We have our "anatomy scan" ultrasound in three weeks, so we'll see again then how each particular limb and the major organs are growing.  I've requested a B12 blood test when they do some other tests at 28 weeks, and my midwife suggested a vitamin D test as well because in Alaska nearly everyone needs more D.  I have just switched midwives to one who will attend my home birth, and so after seeing two midwives I'm pleased to say that neither had any concerns about a vegan pregnancy.  In talking to me, neither even felt the need to suggest changes in my diet.  They both said that a balanced vegan diet gave them no cause for worry.  What a great reassurance, especially when you see silly stories in the media about previously vegan starlets giving up their vegan ways "for their baby."  It's a shame that an innocent unborn child takes the blame for animals to be harmed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese

Photo taken from The Healthy Happy Life blog.  See her review  here.

While I hate to just give away free advertising when other companies have been so generous to donate items for review, I can't let this go without saying; Dr. Cow Nut Cheese is rocking my socks off.  Instead of the usual vegan cheese that is made by using seasonings to mimic the aged flavor of animal milk cheese, Dr. Cow makes his own nut cheeses and ages them like you would a traditional cheese.

The results?  OMG I'm in nut cheese heaven.  Now, this isn't cheddar or American cheese.  This is some strong tangy cheese reminiscent of when I used to go to a little cheese shop in Carmel, CA and they would give you tastes of the most fancy and exotic stinky cheeses from around the world.  I'm fairly certain that shop is what nailed the coffin on my ability to digest dairy.  But that's okay, I don't want dairy in my diet anyway.  I do, however, enjoy a little tang now and then.

I ordered the sampler pack from Dr. Cow's website as a birthday present to myself, along with a few other items I'll review later ;)

The cheese is small, but pungent, and I've only tried two flavors so far.  Both were cashew cheeses, one with dulse and one with hemp seeds.  I didn't mix them into anything, just ate them on crackers or pretzels, and enjoyed every bite.  They are VERY strong tasting, and if you don't like those intense cheeses, these aren't for you.  The texture almost reminds me of a triple cream brie with a fairly soft center and a firmer rind around it.  The cheese is completely creamy, with no grit or other indication that it was once a fresh nut.  The flavor is more like an extra sharp white cheddar.  I will say that despite the strong flavor, my toddler was all over that.  I guess it's true that kids love cheese.

I highly recommend this product for someone looking to indulge, and who is willing to spend the money for it.  At $80, it's a lot of flavor and worth the price, but it's not a huge amount of product.  If you really love your vegan friends a LOT, you could have a wine and cheese party with these and everyone would be amazed.