Monday, March 30, 2015

march discipline: mostly vegan interview x 2

song pair: brighter than the sun by colbie caillat

Hello Friends! today i have the pleasure of introducing my adorable friend Kate! Kate has an incredibly joy-filled spirit. she is warm and welcoming and has the best neighborhood parties gatherings! she balances life as a working mom, running her own small business. she's kind of a big deal
the root of Kate's nutritional focus has a unique origin which led to specific disciplines and ultimately the benefit of more mindful eating.  

What is your family composition?

My family includes my husband, Nick, my seven year old son, Jack, and my almost 4 year old daughter, Eleanor. We are in the process of adopting another baby ( and hopeful that we will be matched with our birth mom soon. Also, we are super tight with my mom, Martha, and she is definitely a member of our crew. As for family members with tails, we have a mixed breed rescue named Ernest and mom recently adopted a small beagle named Fred.

How would you describe what you provide in your home kitchen?

I love to cook and try to make at least two meals around Sunday/Monday that we can enjoy during the hectic work-week. We eat some meat and fish, but I try to incorporate tons of fruits and vegetables into our meals. Like Virginia, we try to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

We had to eliminate all soy and dairy from Eleanor’s diet this year. I really try to cook meals that are soy and dairy free for the whole family so that Eleanor doesn’t feel isolated or excluded from the family meals. Since the rest of us are able to consume dairy (cheese! butter!) I have add-ins of dairy products like cheese on the table available for individual use.

What led you to this approach?

Eleanor was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) this year. Essentially, she has two main food allergies (soy and dairy) which cause her esophagus to swell and caused her to choke and vomit almost daily. Also, she was developing aversions to foods because it was painful for her to eat. She has had to undergo an upper endoscopy every 6 weeks for the past few months so that we could identify her allergens. First, we eliminated all soy and dairy and she went into remission. Yay! Next, we re-introduced soy-only which unfortunately was deemed to be a culprit, too. We have gotten phenomenal treatment and care from the fabulous folks at UNC (thanks Dr. Mir and Krisi Brackett!) and Eleanor is doing really well now. She is required to consume feeding tube formula, but we are fortunate that she can drink it orally and doesn’t require the actual feeding tube. To learn more about EoE-feel free to click the link below for more information.

Is there a product you (or a family member) struggles to resist?
For Eleanor-cupcakes are a must have! These sweet confections have been her favorite aspect of any celebration since she enjoyed her first delicious bite of frosted cake. This one has been tough to find an alternative for her.

(Her first experience with cupcakes!)

Soy is used as a substitute for dairy in many bakeries-I can’t even special order soy and dairy free cupcakes at Whole Foods. Luckily, we were able to find Noreen Fitzmaurice and her wonderful bakery-The Celiac Cakery. We purchase and freeze tons and tons of Noreen’s delicious soy and dairy free cupcakes for Nora to enjoy at birthday parties and celebrations at school.

Do you find restaurant menus difficult to navigate?

We love to eat out and finding soy and dairy free alternatives for Eleanor has been a challenge. First, soy is in everything including but not limited to some ketchups, some vegetable broths, crackers and chewing gum. Second, some servers at restaurants do not understand that Eleanor has an allergy since food preferences like gluten-free diets are so popular. This can lead to issues with cross-contamination and other issues that make it challenging to eat out. To overcome this obstacle, we are identifying local places that are accommodating and have options for Eleanor to have a few choices when we dine out.

How do you choose to entertain with food?

We love to entertain friends and family. When we host people at home, I try to make all the kid foods soy and dairy free so that Eleanor can eat what the others are enjoying.

How is your family’s overall health?

We try to stay fit and healthy as a family. We strive to stay active and enjoy having fun outside and enjoying the beautiful weather we typically have in Raleigh. I am striving to have all the food in our house soy free, but it is a challenge. Soy is ubiquitous-it is everywhere! So, for now, we maintain a sort of kosher kitchen where we keep Eleanor’s soy and dairy free foods labelled separately in the fridge, freezer and pantry. That way, babysitters and visitors can easily decipher what foods are safe for Eleanor to eat.

What is your favorite cruelty free brand?

I shop at Whole Foods every week because they have the widest variety of options for Eleanor. I like their cruelty free standards for chicken and fish. I think that WF does a nice job providing information for their consumers to evaluate and determine what works for them.

Please share a favorite cruelty free recipe:

This one is tough for me because I use recipes as a general guideline. I like to make a variation of a vegetable and pasta dish that we enjoy at least once a week. Sometimes I add chicken or fish-sometimes I add tons of veggie or chicken stock to convert it into a brothy soup.

I generally start with a mirepoix mix that I buy at the store and helps me to save time while cooking during the week.

I add whatever vegetables are seasonally fresh-right now its shallots, zucchini, yellow squash, arugula, spinach, mushrooms etc. I brown the vegetables on the stovetop-adding wine and/or stock to deglaze and make a quick pan sauce. For plating, I put fresh spinach/arugula/finely cut kale or some other green in the base of each bowl and add hot pasta and the vegetables on top. Eleanor gets Daiya pea-protein “cheese” for her bowl and the rest of us grate fresh parmesan on ours. I always buy a large bunch of organic Italian flat leaf parsley at the beginning of each week. I clean it and grind it in my food processor (stems and all) and use the little bits (probably 1/4 cup) while cooking and on the plates after to add a fresh flavor to the dish. Sometimes I squeeze fresh lemon on top for something different. 

Below is a link to a “real” recipe for folks that might prefer something more structured. This salad is soy and diary free and looks fun for spring!

*One piece of advice for someone interested in more mindful nutrition*

Kate: For folks making a change as a result of food allergies, I recommend heading to local grocery stores to process what options are available. When Eleanor was first diagnosed, the change in our diet was very daunting. I spent a few hours at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and our local Harris Teeter reading labels until I was bleary eyed. Next, I bought everything that she was allowed to eat and then let her taste test to identify her favorites. Once we found some winners, I was able to isolate the brands (Daiya cheese! Enjoy Life cookies!) and buy some of them online to make it more convenient. We took it one step at a time until we built up a nice selection of foods she enjoys that are safe for her to eat. In the end, our family has definitely benefited from eating foods that are less processed and are healthier in general. This benefit has been the silver lining. 

Virginia: 1) start small, with 2 or 3 meals a week and build on that 2) read The China Study, I read it 7 years ago and it rocked my world. I got it at a yard sale in Tahoe, never thought it would be so influential in my life, it really solidified the importance of eliminating animal protein from my diet. 3) challenge yourself!! Go grocery shopping and say, "this week I'm going to not buy milk but buy almond milk instead and see how that is for me?" Or "I'm not buying chicken, I'm buying tofu instead" 4) plan ahead!!! I can't stress that enough!! Plan your vegan meals ahead of time so you know what to buy and how to prepare it!!

Wow. thank you ladies. you two challenge me to take life to the next level. 
thank you for sharing your expertise! i am proud to call you both a friend. 

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