Friday, October 1, 2010

Our Gluten-Free, Vegan(ish) Family . . . *sigh*

Food has been a battle in this house for quite some time.  You might think it all began with Harper's allergies, but you'd be wrong.  Ella was always a great eater as a little one.  I say "great" because she would try new things and loved all sorts of un-kid-like foods, like olives, pickled okra, hummus, and pretty much any vegetable you put in front of her.  But that also required a little more creativity and thought on my part, because she refused typical kid foods like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese.  Refused.  Mostly, the pickiness stemmed from texture issues, and she grew out of a lot of that.  She still loves all things fruit or vegetable, but for the last few year's she has declared war on a new food group.  

This isn't simply an animal cruelty issue, although she's a sensitive, animal-loving soul and I'd be lying if I said the thought of eating an animal didn't bother her.  But that's not the core problem.  She just hates eating meat . . . the taste, texture, everything . . . hates it.  Can't say that I blame her.  I'm not a big fan either.  Actually, we're more pescatarians, because we both still love seafood.  But since we've already nixed dairy and eggs (mostly) for her younger sister's allergy issues, I've been hesitant to truly give Ella's vegetarian wishes a shot.

We usually eat a few vegan meals each month leaving Ella meatless protein options (a side dish of beans, nuts for a salad, whatever) on our meat-meal days, but that's exhausting.  It would be much easier if we all just ate the same stuff.  Also, I run out of options, and I'm concerned about her getting enough nutrients with just these side substitutions.  So why not give it a shot?  My only reason for not switching before now is that without the dairy and eggs, I just don't know how to make it a long term, sustainable reality.
It's haaaaaaaarrrdddd. 
(insert extended, obnoxious whine HERE)

I finally came to the conclusion that we need to respect Ella's wishes, and take the plunge with her.  I'm sure that it will be a good switch for all of us in the long run, just like the switch to homeschooling turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.  Despite the skid marks where I dragged my feet in protest for two years.

I'm crossing my fingers that the switch will be . . . tolerable.  I've done I semi-vegetarian diet before, back when I didn't have picky kids to feed and when I could have real cheese, so I know most of the dietary principles.  Plus, we already have one foot into the healthy eating on this gluten-free (the replacement and homemade ingredients I use are much more nutritious) and dairy free diet (almond milk is my bestest friend ever!) we've already embraced.  The problem is coming up with information that is more geared toward health and creating nutritious meal plans, not coaching me on how to explain the ethical treatment of animals to my kids.  And finding recipes without the word "tofu" or "curry" in them.  Ew.  Mama no like.

So, I'm doing a little research:

Zen Habits - easy ways to become a vegetarian
Post Punk Kitchen - wheat-free vegan recipes
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids (just picked this one up from the library)

I'll also be trying out some sheep and goat milk cheeses on Harper's system, to see if she can tolerate those.  Like I said, it's not a no animal products at all deal, and Ella is a huge cheese-lover anyway.  Manchego . . . mmm.  Let's hope Harper can handle that, then we'll be all good.  I think.  And I'll be introducing Ella to the joy that is grape leaves and a lovely Mediterranean market in town.  (Seriously, why haven't I done that before now?)  Basically, I filled our October meal plan with all the meatless meals we already eat that I could think of, with just a couple of new ideas pulled from cookbooks to try.  I have NO idea how I'm going to handle breakfasts, but that's already the most difficult meal for me.  Nothing new there, I guess.

So, that's were we are.
Smack dab in the middle of yet another transition.
Yay, us.


  1. Good gravy, that sounds like a lot of work. My son won't eat mashed potatoes either. I think it's textural with him, too. I mean, who doesn't like mashed potatoes? It's only the most perfect thing EVER. He is not a meat fan either. I guess not only does mushy food bother him, so does food that is too much effort to chew.

    Dadgum kids.

  2. The mashed potato dislike killed me too. That's her problem, too - mushy and/or chewy foods. If it makes you feel any better, she likes mashed potatoes now . . . finally!

  3. My daughter was so allergic to dairy when she was a tot. If she even ate a little bit, she would break out in horrid, itchy hives on the backs of her knees. I happened to try goat's milk cheese made by the Amish and she did okay with that. She has completely outgrown the allergy now (she is 11), so there may be hope for you as well!

  4. I just found your website. I am interested in your journey into being a vegan. We are not at that stage but I raise my grandchildren and one of them, 4 year old Autumn, is allergic to milk, soy, and eggs. I am hoping to find some useful ideas on your site.


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