Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Milk, Cheese and Chocolate Birthday Cake

The Busiest June Ever
Hi there! This June is one of the busiest months for The Thierbachs. It started crazy on June 2nd with the Warrior Dash in Logan Ohio. This was my second Warrior Dash and it was awesome. Elena went with us and although we packed snacks, she wanted to see what treats we could purchase. My awesome lil vegan opted for a cob of corn for her snack. I called her my Veggie Warrior.

June still holds Jason's summer classes, Elena's advanced classes, my first yoga teacher training weekend and more. It is imperative we plan snacks and meals ahead of time during busy times. I see lots of roasted veggies in my future. It is so easy to cut up  veggies, toss in olive oil, dill, sesame seeds, whatever sounds good and bake on 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. We never have a pan with the same seasoning or veggies twice. I use a huge cookie sheet so I can save the leftovers for quick meals.

Cheese: A Deal Breaker?
As a non vegan, I felt that I could never be vegan because of cheese. As a vegan, I hear others say they could be vegan except for the whole cheese thing.  Cheese is obviously a deal breaker for many people.  Cheese is creamy, gooey, and tastes great.  It is impossible to talk about cheese, yogurt or ice cream without milk. We are mammals who have mammary glands that are designed to make milk for our babies. Once our babies are old enough to eat food, we wean them from milk, well from our milk.

I never questioned drinking cow's milk until I became a mother, a lactating breastfeeding mom. I read several books on pregnancy and will always remember reading a chapter about breast milk. I read about a connection that science cannot explain between a mother's body and her baby's body that changes the chemical make up of breast milk depending on the needs of the baby at each feeding. How amazing and special. I breast fed for two and a half years being proud to be able to feed my baby with my body. I faced criticism for breastfeeding so long (ridiculous) with stupid comments like "I hope you are not going to be doing that when she is in kindergarten".   My pediatrician encouraged me to stop at one year so we got a new pediatrician. I find it odd that we have such an unhealthy view of breastfeeding human babies with human milk however have no problem consuming another species' milk in adulthood.

During this incredibly special time with my baby, I thought about other mammals. Other mammal mommies are meant to do the exact same thing with their bodies, feed their babies. Hmm, what about this whole cow's milk thing? It didn't make sense. I made the logical leap and thought...I bet cow's milk is actually best for calves. I bet it isn't intended for humans at all. It started to creep me out, literally creep me out. I looked for milk alternatives and didn't like any of them. Luckily, now I have found Almond Breeze Coconut Almond Blend. I still had cow's milk in coffee and cereal for a few years being creeped out along the way. I told myself organic milk was better, knowing it was still designed for calves. Jason has been cool with soy or almond milk for years now. Elena has had very little cow's milk in her life and is perfectly happy with any substitute.

I was worried about my family and what this other species' milk would do to us. I was totally forgetting about what this was doing to the cow mommies and babies. Certainly a cow mommy would be in anguish to have her calf taken away. How scary for a baby calf to be taken from his or her mother, however I have since learned that this is only the beginning of the nightmare the calves will go through. A mom cow will be artifically inseminated to be pregnant as much as possible, a male calf will most likely be killed and a female calf will have her reproductive system violated and manipulated as soon as possible. What the hell are we doing?  If you would like to read more, I recommend The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle or any relevant Food For Thought Podcast.

So now cheese, oh yeah that yummy stuff made typically  from .. um cow's milk. Ewk. I do miss blue cheese crumbles or brie from time to time but then I remember the manipulation of a female reproduction system (which is highly offensive to me being a female), the unnecessary pain and cruelty involved and the fact that I am not a calf. Cheese craving squashed, most of the time.

There are cheese substitutes that are pretty good; Daiya shredded cheese and Galaxy Vegan Parmesan. However there are other alternatives too that will add a creamy, cheesy flavor to things like pine nuts or nutritional yeast. This recent blog post on lets us know they are trying to make alternative cheeses yummier.

My Vegan Birthday Cake

On a much lighter note, my birthday is coming up. My team at work is celebrating this Friday with a food day. I requested a Mexican theme. I thought it would be easy to eat vegan with beans, rice, salsa. etc. I found out today that they have been looking at vegan recipes to make a cake however feel intimidated by the lack of eggs. I offered to make the cake. Elena and I will be baking our first vegan cake tomorrow night. I will be consulting my copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau tonight to decide what to make. It will be the first taste of vegan baking for most so it has to be good! There has been talk of a vegan challenge at work as well.

Have a healthful rest of your week!

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