1. Raising a Super Food / Vegan Baby

    My two-year old son is vegetarian since birth although most days his diet is vegan. He has very little dairy and never has had eggs except for those in the occasional cookie. He drinks almond or hemp milk usually (amino acids, protein, EFA’s) and we’ve opted for organic greek yogurt because of the probiotic benefits and is also nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12. 

    I make a weekly pot of lentils (red, yellow, black or green) because they offer the highest amount of protein in comparison to other legumes. I add carrots, celery, onion, chopped spinach, kale or collard greens, sweet potato, potato and anything else I can find - this is no watered down soup! The hearty stew usually becomes porridge-like once I add quinoa at the end or on some occasions brown rice or couscous. My son LOVES it anyway I make it and so do I! This is his daily lunch, sometimes dinner unless he eats whatever I’ve cooked for that night. 

    I grew up in a carnivorous Cuban family. Chicken, beef and pork took up half my dinner plate along with white rice and (usually black) beans. McDonald’s was a weekly occasion and how can I forget Taco Bell, my mom’s favorite. Now as an adult, I still struggle with these temptations despite how gross I KNOW they are. My tastebuds and anxious eating habits sometimes look the other way. However, as an adult with access to infromation my parents didn’t have (Thank you, Information Age!) it is up to me to make better decisions for myself and my family. Breaking the cycle of unhealthy habits is difficult but as a parent, I am taking responsibility and doing the best I can to feed my son only the best. 

    Below is a blog repost from Forks Over Knives my friend Cynthia shared on Facebook. You should consider following her on Tumblr, she’s constantly posting great vegan recipe ideas. Here’s an interesting read from a dietician’s perspective. 

    The vegan diet based in whole-foods has been proven to prevent death from heart disease, reduce “bad” cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure. It’s also associated with lower body weight, lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

    Sounds like the solution to most of America’s health problems, doesn’t it? While the science is consistent on these benefits, “experts” in the media are instilling fear in parents by warning them not to omit the meat and dairy products that have made people – and children – sick for generations.

    As a dietitian, I know just how crucial it is that children learn the importance of healthy eating at a young age. The earlier kids start loading up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the earlier they start reaping the benefits of a diet rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that fight disease.

    Plant-based diets are beneficial for children, as confirmed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), the largest nutrition organization in the world, and arguably one of the more conservative with dietary advice. Not only does this organization say that a vegan diet is appropriate for all stages of life, including infancy and childhood, it also says that a plant-based diet helps prevent dying from heart disease, reduces cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, and well, you know the rest.

    In addition, the animal-based foods do not provide the benefits to children that have long been advertised. For example, a study recently published in theArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, showed that dairy products and calcium do not prevent stress fractures among active, adolescent girls. In fact, girls consuming the most calcium (primarily from dairy products) had more than double the risk of stress fracture, compared with those getting less calcium. These findings are in line with a 2005 scientific review appearing in the journal Pediatrics that showed dairy products do not promote bone health in children and young adults.

    Given the wide variety of plant-based foods that are available, it’s easy to make healthy vegan versions of favorite family meals. Further, children eating a well-balanced vegan diet create a pattern of healthful eating that they can carry into adulthood.