Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vegan Mofo is coming!

Hey all you Zoey fans!

Baby Zoey has been keeping me on my toes but I wanted to post and say that Vegan Mofo is going to be in November this year in case you are interested in participating. I will post more information as the event gets closer and I will be posting quite a bit in the month of November.

Baby Zoey is getting big. Her favorite foods so far are green smoothies with kale or spinach, collard greens with butternut squash, black beans, bananas and avocados. We have gotten into a bit of a cooking rut so I am hoping that Vegan Mofo will help inspire me to be more creative. I just wanted to let everyone know that we are still here!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Going Green!



In an effort to further improve my health and explore new foods I have decided to go green for the month of March!

Ok, the truth is that I was watching Dr. Oz and there was a woman on the show who had cured her cancer in part by eating blended leafy greens every day (and eliminating all animal protein from her diet). The part that impressed me was not that she had cured her cancer but that she looked AMAZING. She was glowing and looked about 10 years younger than her picture before she had cancer. I don't think this was makeup folks, this was the real deal.

So I decided in that moment that I would create a little challenge for myself. I do love kale green smoothies but I don't eat them as often as I would like. And, since Mr. Zoey loves them too, I rarely get to eat the entire bunch of kale.

So.. for the month of March I am committing to eating at least 1 bunch of leafy greens every day. If baby Zoey takes some naps I will share pictures here!

I picked up the little bunch of chard in the top picture at the local farmers market last weekend. I ended up steaming it for a couple minutes because that is all I know to do with shard but I kind of wish I had eaten the whole bunch raw. I snacked on a few pieces while I was waiting for the water to boil and it was really good. Unfortunately I can't find bunches of little leaves like that anywhere in stores. Hopefully I will be able to find them again next weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Family Walks into a bar...

It’s the Oregon State Bar Exam, and I am required to pass it before I can practice law in Oregon. I am facing a decision, and it’s a tough one. I need to make a choice between making an attempt at passing the Bar Exam and spending a week on vacation with my family.

I am not sure I have ever mentioned this on the blog, but since it plays a central role in my decision I will share that I am living with a chronic pain condition. I was diagnosed about 3 years ago. Even now it is hard for me to talk about my condition without crying and feeling overwhelmed so I don’t talk about it. I try not to think about it. I try to pretend that it doesn’t exist and that as time goes on it will go away. To consider any other possibility is unbearable.

The blessing that has come from pain is that I have made some changes in my priorities. Before pain there were things I was focusing on in my life that weren’t that important to me. I was focusing on them because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I was trying to please everyone. I figured that I would follow my own heart later. I thought that I had all the time in the world.

The condition that I have can cause increasing pain over time. That was my experience for the first several months. I can’t remember much from that time. I can only remember some of my thoughts. I was lucky that things started to turn around. I was taking strong medication that seemed to be helping. Somehow I was still wandering through law school part time. Somehow, to the outside observer I was still able to hold things mostly together. Looking back I have no idea how that was possible. The condition may go away or it may get worse. There is really no good indicator for which way things will go, and even if the pain is gone for awhile, it can always come back.

I started making changes in my life. I started with my diet and committed to eating a low fat vegan diet. It helped some. I committed to resting and no longer reaching for the high standards that I used to set for myself. That helped some more. I committed to focusing on the positive things in my life and being thankful for every joyful moment. Things continued to improve.

Mr. Zoey and I decided to start a family. Having a child has been one of the greatest joys in my life. Every day my daughter opens my eyes to a world of hope and possibilities. The hardest part of being a parent so far hasn’t been the sleepless nights, or getting the hang of breastfeeding, it has been being away from my family.

I grew up within 5 minutes of both sets of grandparents and within 15 minutes of one of my aunts. I saw all my aunts, uncles and cousins at least once a year. My family played an enormous role in my childhood. I realize that as long as we live in Oregon, that baby Zoey won’t have that exact experience because our families live in other states. On top of that, I can’t travel. The pain flares back up to unbearable levels when I am in a car for more than 30 minutes or so. I haven’t gone anywhere near an airplane yet. That means I am somewhat stuck here. For us to see our family, they have to come to us.

When I was pregnant with baby Zoey my family started planning a trip out here. The trip would be a repeat of a trip that they took almost 3 years ago before I was diagnosed. We aren’t a vacationing family, so it’s a big deal and it takes some planning and coordinating. When we first talked about the trip I was under some delusion that I would be able to take the bar exam when baby Zoey was 3 weeks old. After I realized that was impossible, I hoped I would be able to take it when she was 6 months old. Now I am trying to decide if it is even worth entertaining the thought of taking it when she is 1.

There are lots of logistical reasons for not taking the bar when baby Zoey is 1. One of the big ones is that if I take the bar, my family won’t come out for our vacation at the coast. I have been trying to minimize this reason in my head because to my family this doesn’t seem like a big deal. To me it is a big deal. I want to see my family. I want to have a week with them at the coast without constant pain and worry. I want the kind of time with them that comes only in the moments when you aren’t having scheduled time with someone. I want the early morning walks and breakfasts at the table and dinners outside on the beach by the fire. I want time like that probably more than anything else right now. I want that so much more than I want a shot at an exam that I would probably fail right now anyway. It is hard for me to say this because I think that I am not making the decision that they want me to make.

The way that I see things is that the exam will always be there. It is offered twice a year like clockwork. There is no limit for when I take the exam. There is no limit for when I decide to begin my career. What I have learned is that time with people that you love is not always a guarantee. Being pain free is not a guarantee. The only moment that I have is right now. And right now, my pain is low enough that I can consider leaving town for a one week trip an hour away. That is huge for me. I haven’t been outside of this city in almost 3 years. I am ready to get out of town and get some fresh air with people that I love. I want my family to have relaxed time with my baby and I want my baby to be familiar and comfortable with my family. While some people may think that I will regret not taking the bar this summer, I am pretty sure that I won’t if it means time with family.

I have been in the worst pain I could imagine before and I never regretted not studying more for a test or not getting better grades. I have looked back and wished that I had spent more time with people. So maybe the decision was easier than I realized but sharing it is still hard.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Zoey Zoey Do, Where are you?

That's how Zoey's Kitchen feels to me these days. (That was my sad attempt at the Scooby Doo theme song- in case that only plays in my head). I'm still eating, and Zoey still exists but somehow the whole cooking thing has fallen through the cracks recently. My diet has become essentially the elimination diet and while that seems to be helping baby Zoey's skin, it isn't much to photograph.

I have even taken some pictures of my gluten-free creations, but for some reason the work to upload them and blog about them seems overwhelming and sad because most of them use tomatoes, or corn or chickpeas and all of those are off limits to me right now. So I haven't. And I am trying to decide what to do with this blog.

One of the blogs I really enjoy reading just closed up shop a few weeks ago. I am not ready to throw in the towel on Zoey's Kitchen yet but I am thinking about either allowing myself to post less or allowing myself to post about things other than food. I am sort of on the fence.

I started this blog because I was exploring a new way of eating (The McDougall Plan) and I thought that blogging about food would keep me on my toes and trying new things. It worked and now the plan seems easy to follow. My health has improved and even Mr. Zoey has jumped on board. I would embrace the same theory with my elimination diet, but you really can only take so many pictures of beans and rice.

So anyway, that's the scoop. I'm still here and baby Zoey is getting big. Regular Zoey is getting big too (we refer to it as her sympathy pregnancy weight). Her best trick these days is to bite my toes any time that baby Zoey cries. She's a good helper :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gluten- Free Oats




Things are looking up!

I have the oats set to cook for 3 hours on high in my trusty slow cooker so that they will be ready in the morning. Here's hoping they turn out well!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zoey's Kitchen - Special Gluten Free Edition!

Greetings everyone!

Things have been pretty boring in Zoey's Kitchen lately and even when we have tried new recipes I haven't had the energy to photograph them.

We had some family visit and that was wonderful. Everyone loves seeing baby Zoey (and Zoey herself) and I think that baby Zoey loves all the activity.

Unfortunately baby Zoey has started getting a rash. We took her to the doctor today and the doctor thinks that she may have some skin eczema (ugh). He said that often eczema is the result of a dietary allergy and asked about baby's Zoey diet. Well, since baby Zoey is breastfed we ended up talking about me.

Turns out our pediatrician recommends the China Study diet to all his patients (pretty cool, huh?) so once he knew that I try to follow that diet already milk and eggs were out as possible causes.

** This is an aside, but I have found it pretty interesting that whenever there is an issue with a baby, doctors and lactation consultants tell you to cut out dairy. Even my neighbor who LOVES dairy and eats all sorts of animals came over to talk to me and suggested that I cut dairy out of my diet even though that is super hard to do <-- her words, not mine. **

Anyway, it went something like this:

milk? No
eggs? No
nuts? Very rarely
wheat gluten? *cringe* Yes, lots of wheat. Sprouted bread toasted is my go-to snack these days. I am a big fan of all things grain so there is definitely plenty of it in my diet. Or should I say- there WAS plenty of it in my diet.

Just for fun (and for baby Zoey's health) I am going to stop the gluten for now. My doctor asked if I was willing to give it a try and I was all over it. He said that it would be very restrictive but that I was probably used to that already. (Am I the only vegan who doesn't think that my diet is restrictive? If anything I think I eat much healthier and have more variety now than at any other time in my life).

I can still eat all the beans, rice, vegetables and fruits I want. And maybe quinoa- I need to look that one up. I can live without bread so don't expect any crazy gluten-free baking going on around here. If you have any tips for gluten-free eating I would love to hear them.

And while I do hope that baby Zoey's rash heals up quickly, I hope that wheat isn't the culprit because the truth is... I really will miss oatmeal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sweet Potato Rounds



Good News Everyone!

The last of my pregnancy aversions has gone away and I can now enjoy the delicious and nutritious sweet potato! I was a little nervous when Mr. Zoey brought home a 10 pound box of sweet potatoes from Costco last weekend because it was about a year ago that we bought an identical box, only to find out that I was pregnant and totally unable to tolerate all things sweet potato.

Anyway, our 10 pound box sat on the table for about 2 days with Mr. Zoey asking me to "research" sweet potato recipes and me stalling because I was afraid of what cruel fate the sweet potatoes might still have in store for me. So, as with most of the cooking these days, he finally took matters into his own hands and created these delicious sweet potato rounds.

These are super easy and super yummy and worth trying since sweet potatoes are in season right now. I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that our box is already almost half empty.

Sweet Potato Rounds

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato/ yam

Directions:

1. Slice sweet potato into rounds and place on a baking sheet (no oil needed)
2. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes
3. Flip the rounds over and bake an additional 7 minutes
4. Enjoy with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Kale Green Smoothies Please!


My mom asked me for my kale green smoothie recipe the other day and I told her that I thought it was on Zoey's Kitchen. We figured out pretty quickly that I am not using that recipe any more, so I thought it was time for an update- especially since I am in love with kale again.

Yes, kale and I had a brief period of separation during my pregnancy but things are looking up (which is perfect timing since kale is getting GREAT this time of year)

So here is what I do:

Kale Green Smoothie

Ingredients

Kale (as much as you can fit in your blender- see picture above)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 1/2 cups of water
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
Splash of oatmilk or soymilk (optional)

Directions

1. Add everything to the blender and blend!

You will get 2 glasses this size:



Tonight Mr. Zoey and I each got a glass but when I make these during the day I drink both glasses (yum!) I usually drink one glass in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Of course, this habit has me going through 1-2 bunches of kale from Whole Foods a day but if we get our kale at the farmers market the bunches are big enough to last for 3 days. I am considering growing our own kale out on the deck- but tonight Mr. Zoey told me "there is no way we will be able to grow enough kale for our smoothies". I know he is right, but I still might give it a try!

** If you are new to green smoothies here is a trick that we used to get started: Don't start out filling your blender with kale- just add 1-2 kale leaves to a fruit smoothie blend that you already enjoy. Each time you make a smoothie add and extra piece of kale. I read once that a great way to start is to have 20% greens and 80% fruit. You slowly adjust your ratio until you are blending 80% greens and 20% fruit. Your tastes do adjust over time and you will probably find yourself thinking that these smoothies are delicious! **

Friday, October 23, 2009

Delicata Squash


What's this Zoey? Did your dad bring home a new kind of squash?

Mr. Zoey has stepped it up and in addition to cooking, he is also doing the bulk of random grocery shopping for now. Tonight he brought home this squash to try out. Neither of us knew what to do with it, so we decided to microwave it as if it was an acorn squash.

As an aside I should mention that we are in an acorn squash frenzy at our house. We are splitting one every night. Mr. Zoey requires that we keep 10 acorn squashes on our kitchen counter at all times and has been constantly replacing our stash at farmers markets.

Why 10 squashes? Apparently that way when the squash season ends and we can't get good squashes at the farmers market, we can still enjoy squash for 10 more days. Well, there is no argument against that, I do love a good acorn squash.

But back to the task at hand. We cut the squash in half and microwaved it for 10 minutes to create this:


Well, 2 of these to be precise. It was pretty tasty because it tasted exactly like acorn squash! It is fun to try new things but for now I think we will stick with acorn squash since we can get them for 50 cents near our house.

I might get adventurous and pick up some new types of squash since this experiment went well. Are there any types of squashes we should specifically try while they are in season?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Twice Baked Potatoes



I haven't had many twice baked potatoes in my life but I have always been fond of them. Unfortunately for me now, I think they are traditionally full of cheese and not so healthy. I have been wanting to make a healthy version for awhile now and so I finally decided to just give it a try.

My recipe was based loosely on the recipe in Vegan Vittles. I picked up a copy of that cookbook from the library but I don't think I will make anything else from it. Many of the recipes were fake-meat heavy and that isn't how we roll here in Zoey's Kitchen.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 baking potato
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 sprinkle of garlic powder
1 sprinkle of black pepper
1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk
1 sprinkle of paprika (optional)

Directions:

1. Prick the potato with a fork and bake in the oven for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. (I made big slices with a knife and this backfired- learn from my mistakes and use a fork)

2. Remove the potato from the oven and slice in half.

3. Carefully scoop out the inside of the potato into a bowl.

4. Add all ingredients except the paprika to the potato insides and start mashing/ mixing.

5. Scoop the mixture back into the potato shells and sprinkle with paprika (if using)

6. Bake the potatoes at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

7. At the end, you can turn the broiler on for a few minutes for a crispier potato top.

8. Enjoy! It tasted a lot like garlic mashed potatoes inside a potato shell which was pretty great in my book.

I made these in part to share with Mr. Zoey when he got home from work yesterday. I asked him which half he wanted and he told me that he doesn't like twice baked potatoes. Has he ever had them? No.

Whatever, that means more for me. As I was eating, he asked for a taste and told me that he thought it was okay. But then, tonight at Whole Foods he added two baked potatoes to our basket and asked if it was possible to double the recipe I made so that he could have a whole potato next time. I think that means he liked it!