Homemade Lemonade

As part of our Natural Health and Wellness course, Kyri and I have been reading and discussing healthy drinks. While we usually only have water and almond milk in our fridge, on occasion we have some juice or a sweetened drink like lemonade. Kyri prepared (with a little help from Mom) a pitcher of lemonade that we all enjoyed!

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[yumprint-recipe id=’12’] 

Educating Vegan Children

When we first decided to homeschool Kyri, I wanted to incorporate vegan ethics into our education plans. At this young age, most if not all of what Kyri has learned about our vegan lifestyle has been informal – we discuss what we do and do not eat (or wear or use) and for what reason. She has learned to ask if something contains animals in it before eating it. We talk about why we don’t eat animals – at a level a five year old gets. She knows what it means for an animal to die, as she was with me when I discovered our 20-year-old cat had died. So she does understand that dead means, well, dead. So explaining to her that meat comes from dead animals is simple enough for her. She understands that animals are killed for food and that there are plenty of other things to eat besides animals, so why would you want to?

In our household, vegan is the norm. While my spouse is omni, he eats mostly vegan at home (we have a grilling agreement in place). However, outside of our home, Kyri is bombarded with non-vegan and non-vegetarian messages. From books and cartoons that promote circus attendance to toy food products that always contain meat products, messages about using animals for entertainment, eating meat and participating in the “standard american diet” are all around us. I try to buffer her and use the exposure as an educational opportunity, but I would love to have vegetarian- and vegan- friendly material so she doesn’t feel like she’s the only one. We are VERY blessed with our homeschool associations – at co-op the moms usually make an effort to ensure that there are vegan options for Kyri. This is so appreciated – I never ask for accomodation for our lifestyle (just a heads up so I can plan for an vegan alternative for Kyri if necessary) but it really helps to not have Kyri singled out over something like food.

I’ve begun compiling a list of childrens books that either have vegan/vegetarian themes or characters, or are geared toward vegan/vegetarian children. I’ve also found cookbooks aimed toward young vegetarians, and since Kyri is my kitchen helper and loves my cookbooks, I think these are worth checking out.

Fiction

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things

Herb the Vegetarian Dragon

Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale

Friends Forever: The Story of a Budding Friendship between a Vegetarian Spider and a Feisty Fly

The Secret Life Of Mitch Spinach

Mitch Spinach and the Smell of Victory

Big Bob And The Thanksgiving Potato

Vunce Upon a Time

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

Growing Vegetable Soup

Non-fiction

I’m a Vegetarian: Amazing facts and ideas for healthy vegetarians

I Love Vegetarian Food: Coloring Book

Cookbooks

Kids Can Cook: Vegetarian Recipes Kitchen-Tested by Kids for Kids

The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook (Jumbo Books)

Easy Vegetarian Foods from Around the World (Easy Cookbooks for Kids)

Cooking With Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon

Salad People and More Real Recipes: A New Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up

For Parents: Childrearing

Raising Vegetarian Children : A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Because I am parenting a younger child I was not looking for ethics books geared toward older children and teens. This list will continue to be updated as I find additonal resources. I am also in the process of finding vegan-friendly resources online that would be helpful in a vegan/vegetarian curriculum. Look for that in a subsequent post.

Baklava

We love baklava around here – its such a decadent dessert. I have been slacking a bit lately however and haven’t made any in quite some time. For our co-op, we have been reading about the ancient Greeks and Persians in Story of the World, and I thought it would be a fitting time to make some baklava. My husband thought that was a fantastic idea! The first time I made baklava I admit I was intimidated – it really does seem like a complicated dessert. But after that first time, I realized while it does take a little time to put together, it really is not so complicated.

Baklava is really just layers of phyllo dough, melted butter, and a nut mixture that is baked until golden brown. A simple syrup is then poured over the baklava after it comes out of the oven. The hardest part, I think, is waiting for it to cool completely – a couple of hours seems like forever, but is really important for allowing the syrup to soak into the phyllo sheets.

Each package of phyllo dough typically has two packs of rolled up dough. For a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, one roll will suffice. Butter the baking dish (I use Earth Balance) and set to the side. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place two sheets of dough in the baking dish (the dough will need to be trimmed a little to fit) and brush on melted Earth Balance (1/2 cup melted should be plenty), making sure to completely cover the sheets. Sprinkle on nut mixture evenly. Two more sheets go on, followed by melted Earth Balance and nut mixture. After the final layer of nuts is spread, a final layer of phyllo dough goes on. Place these individually and butter each sheet. The baking dish goes into the oven for 45 minutes, and immediated after removing, the syrup is poured over the baklava. It should cool for a few hours at room temperature before serving. This allows the syrup to really soak into the layers.

Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup agave syrup

1 tsp vanilla

 

Sugar and water are heated on stovetop until sugar is completely dissolved. Agave syrup and vanilla are then added and mixture is allowed to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Syrup should be cooled completely before pouring over the baklava.

 

Nut mixture

 

3 cups nuts (I like a 1:1:1 mixture of almonds, walnuts and pistachios – I pulse them in the food processor so they are ground coarsely but NOT into powder)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Nut mixture is combined thoroughly and then sprinkled over each layer of phyllo after its been brushed with melted Earth Balance. Try for even coverage, and don’t forget your corners! As you can see in the picture, the bottom layers ended up with more nuts – my daughter helped with spreading the nut mixture and was a little heavy handed for the bottom layers. Just make sure you have enough for all the layers. If you love baklava, you really should try making it. Its a lot easier than you think and totally worth the effort!

Grandmother’s Famous Vegan Cranberry Bread

We just finished reading Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin for our Five in a Row curriculum. Kyri LOVED this book! This book was about a woman who is well known for her Cranberry Bread, and has turned down multiple offers to sell it to local bakeries. She guards the recipe carefully and suspects Mr. Whiskers of trying to steal the recipe for himself. The book has a lesson in judging others based on outward appearances. This book includes a recipe for Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread, which I modified slightly to be vegan. Since we finished rowing this book last week, yesterday we prepared our own version, which I have called Grandmother’s Famous VEGAN Cranberry Bread. The recipe has a bake time of 1 hour 10 minutes, but honestly I ended up giving the bread almost a full additional hour – I used 3 cups frozen cranberries, and I baked in a stoneware bread pan so this may have contributed to the longer bake time. It was also a VERY moist cake – it almost looked as though it wasn’t cooked all the way through after two hours, but it was just SO moist. Its a sweet bread with a tanginess from the cranberries – YUM! Next time I prepare the bread (and I will soon, because it was just so delicious!) I will thaw my cranberries first (I just forgot this time around) and I may also try the half raisin/half cranberry variation.