Vegan & Animal-Friendly Options for Decorating Easter Eggs

Craft Kit & Paint Brushes

Well folks, spring has sprung and that means Easter is right around the corner! We’re decidedly not religious here at casa di LoSacco, but we do enjoy celebrating the spring holiday for its all its vernal (and, ahem, original) virtues. That means bunnies, and chicks, and chocolate, and eggs—fertility symbols FTW! Okay so maybe chocolate isn’t exactly a fertility symbol, but who am I to turn down a shiny, foil-wrapped nugget of goodness?

Like nearly every holiday, Easter presents some challenges for those approaching it from a vegan perspective. And now as parents raising a vegan child (parents who didn’t have vegan childhoods themselves) we find ourselves looking for creative ways to reinvent some of the holiday traditions that we enjoyed and that other children his age are currently enjoying in compassionate, animal-friendly ways. Some holidays pose larger questions than others, but we’re finding our way through. Last year we began our tradition of sponsoring a rescued turkey and using a photo of that individual as our Thanksgiving centerpiece, and this year we took a new approach to the tradition of dying chicken eggs for Easter…. 

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How to Freeze Bananas for Smoothies

Frozen bananas for smoothies

Freezing bananas for smoothies is nothing new. It’s something that many people already do on a regular basis and I’m sure my method isn’t especially innovative. It has definitely improved my smoothie routine, though, and wasn’t something that I actually thought to do until fairly recently, sometime within the last year. So I’m going to share it with you in case it hasn’t occurred to you yet either, or in case you just need a little inspiration to get your freeze on.

I first started doing this in response to a minor mommy problem. Roman loves bananas and asks for them often. I never know, however, whether he’s going to eat a small chunk and be done with it, or if he’ll polish off three of them and ask for another. So there are times when I’m left with a partially eaten banana, and I’m not always up for finishing it myself. Instead of counting it as a loss and composting the remains, I began freezing them and tossing them into smoothies later.

After seeing how awesome it was to have a stash of frozen bananas on hand, I decided it was something that I needed to have available at all times. And thus, the freezing of the bananas began.

So let’s talk for a quick second about why you might want a stash of bananas in your freezer:… 

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NYC Veg Food Fest + Sunday Links

Roman & Cow

First things first—who else has been enjoying the warm weather these past couple weeks? There were a couple chilly/rainy days just recently, but it’s been so uplifting to have some sun and to be rid of the snow (at least for now…hopefully until next winter). We’ve been getting out, taking long walks, going to the playground again. Spring is right around the corner, and, after this beast of a winter we’ve had, the change of seasons honestly feels like optimism.

Despite yesterday being one of those aforementioned rainy ones, we got ourselves out of the house and headed over to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. It was packed and there were epic lines for many of the local favorites that we were hoping to hit, namely Yeah Dawg and Marty’s. We were a little bummed to have to skip them, but also thrilled to see that there was such demand for their awesome food. Luckily, we were able to snag some tofu taquitos, carrot cake, and a brownie from GustOrganics without a wait. GustOrganics is the only 100% organic certified restaurant in the city, and they’ve been slowly moving their menu in the plant-based direction over the last couple years with intentions to go fully vegan. Their desserts are all gluten-free and the two we tried were fantastic.

As we made our way through, we sampled some of Gardein’s gluten-free beefless crumbles—a gamble because neither one of us is crazy about meat analogues, Chris especially—and we were surprised to find that we both enjoyed them. Follow Your Heart was there as well, sampling some of their new block cheeses, and I have to say I was really impressed. The texture seemed spot-on to me from what I can remember and the flavors were great. They come in American, mozzarella, provolone, and garden herb varieties–all of which are gluten- and soy-free and will be offered in slices as well. This is one vegan cheese that I would dare to say might even fool an omni!

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Love All Life

love all life

After almost a year in our “new” place, we’ve finally gotten around to doing Roman’s room. The first piece of art that we added was this adorable print from Lisa Revelli, a local artist who also happens to be vegan. It features more than two dozen critters and creatures along with a beautiful reminder to love all life.

The print is available through Minted.com and can be purchased with or without a frame. We took the lazy approach and let them frame if for us.  When we decorated Roman’s nursery in our previous apartment, we had decided on a navy/gray/white color scheme, which we really liked. So we decided to stick with that here as well and chose the “distressed indigo stain” frame. It arrived ready-to-hang and looks great…. 

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Vegan Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Since December, maybe even November, we’ve been getting emails from our CSA letting us know that sign up is open for the 2015 season. Normally, a second after that first email hits my inbox, I’m forwarding the message to Chris and asking him what method of payment we should use. But this time, I paused.

I love being part of a CSA so much. I love the community feel and supporting a local, organic farm run by chill, down-to-earth people. I love getting a ton of produce every week and being surprised by things that I wouldn’t have thought to grab from the market stand otherwise. I love the challenge of coming up with recipes based off of those wildcard items.

Except that, well, that’s not all entirely true—at least not anymore…. 

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Veggie Mac — Vegan Mac & Cheese

Veggie Mac

When I decided to participate in NaBloPoMo this past fall, I assumed that my biggest takeaway would be habit, that I’d come out at the end of those 30 days with the itch and ability to maintain a daily (or near daily) posting routine. This was an ambitious and probably unrealistic expectation, especially considering where I’m currently at in my life. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly happen. I did walk away from the experience, however, with something that I’ve found to be much more valuable. I learned that I need to trust myself.

Since starting GF in the City way back when, I knew that writing a blog was something I enjoyed deeply and wanted to pursue. That said, I never found it to be particularly easy. I’ve always felt discomfort at putting the things I create out there in a visible way—some fear of being seen or of being small and getting lost—and blogging was no exception. From day one, this terrible anxiety caused me to freeze up every time I went to publish a post. It was so intense at times that I would put off pressing the button on an otherwise totally finished piece for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks.

This sort of petrified, self-doubt-filled procrastination doesn’t fly when you’ve committed to publishing a post every single day for a month.

Veggie Mac Ingredients

So I had to get over it. I had to create something and then trust that it would be enough, which is ultimately the same leap I have to make when I sit on a post for two weeks anyway. Like checking the position of your mirrors before backing out in a car, I’d confirm that all the elements of the post were where they needed to be, take a breath, and hit publish.

Today I’m exercising this newfound trust on a recipe that I’ve been both incredibly excited and terrified to share for almost a year now. I love, love, love this recipe. Chris loves this recipe. Roman loves this recipe. This is the recipe for our go-to vegan mac and cheese, or, as we’ve come to call it ‘round these parts: Veggie Mac…. 

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Weekly Links

Dinosaur Bones at AMNHScoping out the dinosaur bones at the American Museum of Natural History for Roman’s 2nd Birthday.

Hello all! How have you been?

We’ve been going through a bit of an adjustment period here. Roman–who just turned two at the end of January!–recently gave up his nap, which means that mommy no longer gets a break during the day.  It’s definitely nice that we don’t have to schedule around his nap anymore, but this change has also meant that my days feel much longer and are often pretty exhausting.  Finding time to write and read has become challenging.  We’re working on solutions, though.  This whole parenting thing is a delicate balancing act–just when you think you’ve got it sorted out, something changes and you have to regroup.

Despite the schedule upheaval, I have been able to eek out a few words here and there, so I should have a couple recipes coming your way soon.  In the meantime, I thought I’d pop in with a handful of links to things I’ve been making or have found interesting lately…. 

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Documentary: Peaceable Kingdom

Standing in a field

Chris and I recently watched a documentary called Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. It’s been in our periphery for a while now, but we hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I’m so glad that we finally did.

Peaceable Kingdom tells the stories of a handful of individuals in animal agribusiness who began questioning the work they were doing, leading them to make some pretty profound life changes. In the wake of reconsidering their livelihood, some of these people now offer sanctuary to rescued farm animals. Others, like former cattle rancher Howard Lyman, have written books and travel the country speaking out about the health, environmental, and ethical issues inherent to animal agriculture.

The documentary provides some information about the cruelties that underlie this industry, but it also shines a light on the beautiful lives that farmed animals can lead when offered sanctuary. There were moments that made my eyes well and breath shudder, my heart bursting with joy and pain all at the same time. Seeing these animals rejoice in being allowed the most basic right of sentient beings: life, it is starkly apparent just how much is taken from the billions of others who needlessly suffer and die within the industry.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of this film is the stories of realization from people who were a part of this industry, people whose families and financial security were dependent on the raising and killing of animals. From early childhood experiences to fleeting moments of doubt and moral conflict, their stories feel familiar, hitting at something within the heart of each of us, something that most of us have been taught to push down, bury, and deny. Their raw honesty is compelling, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

It becomes so crystal clear while watching this film that there is another way. It’s undeniably more difficult for some to find than others, but it is possible. If they can see these truths and make these changes, certainly so can we.

The next time you’re browsing for a movie and nothing’s jumping out at you, give Peaceable Kingdom a watch. It is available for purchase in DVD format through the filmmakers’ websitevia Amazon, and can be rented or purchased digitally through iTunes.

 

Goals for 2015

2014 Highlights

2014 was a big year for our little family. A couple weeks in, our baby officially became a toddler, which brought a whole new set of challenges and joys to our experience as parents. A few months later we bought our first home and moved from a neighborhood that we’d known and loved for nearly seven years to one about which we felt positive but uncertain. There was a lot of work to be done during those first couple months in our new place and an adjustment period as we settled in and explored the neighborhood. I also attended my second market as a vendor with my Babywares, completed my largest custom order to date, and then decided to set B&R on the back burner for a while. As the summer wound down, I finally made the long-considered decision to close one chapter and begin writing a new one when I launched this blog. It was a year of many changes, lots of kicking up dirt and waiting for the dust to settle.

As we go into 2015, we know we have a lot ahead of us again—some big decisions, potential changes—but our footing feels stable. We’ve fallen in love with our neighborhood, there is artwork on the walls of our home, and our sweet little boy will soon turn two.

In the spirit of reflecting and looking ahead, I’ve been thinking lately about a few things that I’d like to do or start doing again in the coming year. Most of these things have been on my “list” for a while now, and I’ve no doubt they’ll require a bit of extra thought and planning, but I’m hoping that the calendar reset can be a springboard for me. And since I know that I’ll need to work towards these things, I’m thinking of them more as goals than resolutions. It’s all about progress.

Here is some of the progress I’m hoping to make in 2015:… 

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