Last May I joined a couple of my friends in a month long cleanse that was affectionately named, Vegan May. Essentially it was to be a month of eating vegan, plant-based foods. Now, while I had been enjoying eating at vegan restaurants every once in a while during the previous three years, and had been making flexitarian dietary choices for a long time, I had no intention of ever giving up some of my most favorite non-vegan items, including my beloved cheese.
I remember sitting in a Mexican food restaurant last April celebrating my friend Janan’s birthday, when she yelled across the table, “Kathryn, are you doing Vegan May with us?”
After she explained what a couple of friends were doing, I said, ”No way. I’m not giving up cheese.”
But in next few days, I felt inspired by the suggestion and thought that perhaps it would be a good choice for me. Besides it was only 31 days. I could do that. Next thing you know I texted them and said I was joining Vegan May, and I started preparing myself mentally for the departure of cheese from my diet.
Now here is the thing about cheese…I have always had a love-hate relationship with cheese. I love cheese, but cheese does not love me. At any given party where there has been a brie plate available, you could find me camped out near it for sure. Especially those brie bakes with the filo pastry crust. Don’t even get me started.
However, I was well aware of the effects cheese had on my body. I have a life long track record of dairy and cheese induced bloating and stomach pain. But I ate it anyway. Needless to say I am lactose intolerant, and have been my whole life. When I was a little girl I had a bunch of large white spots on my face and the doctor told my mom that perhaps I was allergic to milk, and suggested that I stop drinking milk. This was a score for me! I never liked the taste of milk, and drinking a glass of milk was the last possible thing I would have chosen to drink, ever. A doctors endorsement of no milk was a gift of pure delight.
Even though the doctor said I was lactose intolerant, my parents (and later, I) felt like I needed to eat dairy products because of the calcium. For all my life I made sure to eat cheese and yogurt to ensure I was getting the calcium I needed. I was led to believe we need calcium from cow’s milk. Now I know that is not true.
I loved cheese. I’m from San Diego, and you can’t be from SoCal and not eat Mexican food regularly. Which I did. I even worked at a Mexican food restaurant for years to support myself through college and after college. Cheese was in practically every dish, and I was in heaven.
So in knowing the no-cheese switch would be the hardest part of Vegan May for me, I decided to give myself a week jump start of dairy-free just in case. I recall driving to the airport for a much needed Sedona weekend vacation at the end of April last year, and as the car turned the corner onto Harbor Drive, out of the blue I blurted out, “I’m giving up diary right now.”
And I did.
I did stop eating dairy. I did complete Vegan May. And now, it is a year later, and I am still making plant-based vegan choices in my diet. And I do feel really good.
In the past year, I have experienced a lot of positive changes in how I feel and have been surprised by what I crave and don’t crave. I find myself craving legumes a lot. That is new for me. And the biggest change is I no longer crave sweets like I used to. I was a major sweets junkie before, and now I seldom crave sweets. I no longer feel bloated or have digestion issues because I am now truly lactose-free. Changing my diet was the right choice for me.
I am discovering the joys of cooking and I am finding myself enjoying the experience of experimenting in the kitchen. I am also experimenting with ingredients I never used before, and that has been a lot of fun.
While I find myself craving and eating a lot of vegetables, legumes, quinoa, and tofu, I have not found myself craving salads very much at all. In realizing my diet was missing the nutrients from green leafy vegetables, I decided to try making a green smoothie. In interviewing a few plant-based experts on my radio show, I knew the basics of making a green smoothie. But I never tried making one before. Quite frankly, I was not entirely convinced spinach would actually blend up into the smoothie nicely. But it actually does!
For the past few weeks I have been making green smoothies for myself and my son, and the smoothies are yummy! I blend a large handful of pre-washed organic spinach, a cup of frozen organic berry fruit blend, an organic banana, a cup of ice, and a cup of water into my blender and mix it all together to make a delicious, nutrient rich smoothie that I love. And guess what, my five year old son enjoys it too. Score! Since he is not a fan of salads either, I have been challenged with how to incorporate green leafy vegetables into his diet, and now I have found a way.
But here is the thing, I find that the spinach doesn’t always chop up every time as finely as I would like it to, and when my son sees any green little leafs in his smoothie, he is immediately turned off from drinking it.
The other day when my son was home sick from pre-school, and I wanted to make sure he had some healthy food to help combat his cold, I decided to do an experiment with my BabyBrezza and the spinach. I wondered if my BabyBrezza One Step Baby Food Maker would provide the perfect solution to getting the spinach to not be leafy in our green smoothie. While my son is not a baby, I have been using my BabyBrezza to mix pureed vegetables into recipes. The BabyBrezza is such an easy, quick, and efficient appliance to use.
As my son cuddled up with a blanket on the couch watching Dinosaur Train, I made a green smoothie for us using my BabyBrezza.
Here is what I did:
I gathered up all the ingredients and appliances I needed, including:
Organic Berry Fruit Blend
Ice (not pictured)
This is the organic fruit blend I have been using. I bought it at Costco and I was so excited to find organic frozen fruit for a really good price!
Normally, I put the spinach in the blender like this. As you can see, a generous handful of spinach practically fills the blender.
This is what that same amount of spinach looks like in the BabyBrezza.
I turned the BabyBrezza on “steam and blend” for 10 minutes. While that was doing it’s job, I went to cuddle with my son on the couch.
Here is the steaming spinach.
Here is the blending spinach.
Here is what the spinach looks like after it was steamed and blended.
When the spinach was done, it was warm in temperature since it just finished steaming. I put it in the freezer for three minutes to flash chill it. This is what all the ingredients looked like in the blender.
Poof! Just like magic…a beautiful smoothie!
It made two generous portions, and there were no little spinach leaves in it. My son drank about half of his smoothie until he was full, and I drank the rest. And he never mentioned any leafy greens! Success!
My son and I enjoyed our smoothies while getting some fabulous nutrient rich foods into our daily diet. But since my son didn’t want to take any chances, he decided to fully protect himself from any more sickly germs.
Happy green smoothie making everyone!
Note: While I am a contributor to the BabyBrezza blog every month, they had no idea I was writing this blog post endorsing their product. In fact, they have never asked me to make an endorsement in all these months of writing for them. But, since I use their product, I wanted to share my personal BabyBrezza experience with everyone.