I've been vegetarian for 20 years and strictly vegan since 2010. It has been a creative challenge to satisfy my egg and cheese lovers, but animal products are no longer missed. My daughers who are 7 and 10 love to help in the kitchen. They are more likely to try new foods when they have input on the menu and when they help make it. Lately, so many people have been telling me how beautiful and sparkly my eyes are (even my optometrist!), and my kids ask why everyone says that... I tell them it's because I eat so much kale, and now they chow down on it too!
My best friend lives 6 time zones away from me, but I feel like I can visit her kitchen virtually by checking her AR Recipe Box.... such a fun way to keep in touch!
My favorite things to cook
Basmati rice, tofu, beans and vegetables. It is amazing to me how creative you can be with simple ingredients. Lately, I've been exploring vegan foods from other cultures: Indian (love the spices), Afghan, Mexican, and macrobiotic. I've lately been reducing gluten in my diet.
I love to make salads: green, pasta and fruit. I also enjoy baking cookies and bread. I wish I could bake cookies more often, but I don't know anyone who is in need of the extra calories (certainly not me!) so I try to limit my baking to special occasions.
**My tips for anyone trying to go vegetarian: french green lentils are an excellent substitute for ground beef in many recipes. Ground cashews are excellent in creamy soups. To leave out cheese on pizza, use extra sauce and top with fresh tomatoes before cooking (even works when ordering pizza!).
My favorite family cooking traditions
My tastes have evolved since I was a child. I have adapted a few of my childhood favorites to my current lifestyle, but most of the foods I grew up with have been abandoned.
Making houska (Czech bread) at Christmas is a family tradition I love.
I grew up in a military family. Both sets of my grandparents lived in the rural midwest, and I would see them every other summer. They always prepared our favorite foods for our visits, and I will always associate those foods with them. One grandma always made cream puffs for me and sloppy joes for my dad (and she felt so bad that I hated sloppy joes). My other grandma would make navy bean soup for my sister, dried beef gravy for breakfasts, and she taught every grandchild how to make kolace.... no gathering was ever complete without kolace. A pot of simmering sauerkraut takes me back.
My cooking triumphs
Several years back, my grandma and I were making dinner rolls; she had an elfin touch that I admired - her rolls came out perfectly round and smooth, while my rolls stuck to my hands and came out like bumpy blobs. Her only advise was that the skill comes with practice.The other day, my daughter and I were preparing pizza dough, and she said to me, "how are you doing it without the dough sticking to your hands?" Ha-ha! I've got the touch at last!!
I'm very conscientious about what I feed to my family. We follow an anti-inflammatory diet as much as we can, and through careful observation, we've been able pinpoint and avoid problem foods. We've been able to manage eczema, arthritis, headaches, canker sores, and behavior issues through better eating. I'm proud that my kids are rarely ill, even during flu season. "Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food." - Hippocrates
My cooking tragedies
I feel like my biggest tragedy is the junk food I used to feed my family. I am so embarrassed by some of my photos and reviews on this site, but I can't remove them. It turned out that my daughters are allergic to artificial food colors, and I am sensitive to dairy. I am disgusted that the food I lovingly prepared was making my family sick.