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Aug 7 2012

Food Challenges: My Husband’s a Vegan & My Son’s Hooked on Pouches

By at 10:27 am

fruit juicerThere’s an old saying that you can put three Jews together and get four opinions. Well, that’s the way it is with diets in my family. My husband is a vegan, my son is a vegetarian, and I am an omnivore who is abstaining from meat and poultry for the summer. I am going crazy trying to figure out how to feed everyone.

My husband has never tried to veganize me. He has encouraged me to be more informed about my food choices, but until recently I resisted. I was so overwhelmed with learning a new way to cook for him that I couldn’t stomach any more education. Tempeh? Soy? Seitan? I can make chicken soup so good you can taste it in your soul and roast chicken, briskets, and noodle kugels that practically forced me to start a waiting list for Shabbos dinners at my place. I used to pride myself on being a fabulous Jewish cook. Now it feels like I have to start all over and it is very, very hard at times.

It was only when I started managing the social media for our new vegan food product that I started to learn about food. I had to read the vegan blogs, the gluten-free blogs, and the dairy free/lactose intolerant blogs. And more and more I saw evidence that a plant-based diet is really, truly healthy. Now, I am not even close to becoming a vegan, but I did decide that for the summer I would stop eating meat and chicken. And you know what? There is a difference. I am a crappy sleeper and always needed a nap during the day. Well, I am still a crappy sleeper, but I don’t feel the need to nap during the day any more. I actually have more energy! No one could be as surprised as me. I am still debating whether to test this out further by binging on steak at the end of the summer…

In the meantime I have found vegan hot dogs to grill and a childlike joy in blending juices in one of those blenders as seen on YouTube pulverizing expensive toys. These juices actually fill me up! And I am starting to slooooowly lose some weight. I still get frustrated and crave, CRAVE red meat but I power through it (ok, sometimes I run into the bedroom, shut the door, and sulk) and eventually the craving ebbs away (usually only after some ice cream). I’m toying with the idea of eliminating dairy in the fall. Or sugar. Or gluten. I haven’t decided yet. But one thing’s for sure: I won’t go back to eating the way I did before.

My husband is enjoying my experiments in the kitchen. I’ve made quite a few dishes, but the most popular are vegan chili, sweet potato and lentil stew, homemade seed crackers, hummus, and almond nut butter. I have even learned to cook something with tofu (sumac tofu with coconut ginger quinoa–email me if you want the recipe. It’s delish!) and I can bake a mean vegan challah now, too.

As for my son, I’m a little worried. He usually only likes pasta or any form of potatoes. And it has to be fresh, not leftovers. On occasion, he will eat some veggies I make for him, but not regularly. What he does eat, with a passion that makes him dance, is those darn pouches. He wakes at 5 a.m. and crawls into our bed, bouncing up and down while yelping, “Pouch! Pouch!” until he is sated (usually 2-3 pouches). He then snuggles up next to me and falls back asleep until 6:30 or so and then wants more pouches.

He went through a growth spurt last week and sucked through 15 pouches or so a day. It was non-stop dancing and pleading for the pouches. They have great-sounding flavors and ingredients like Greek yogurt, millet, and quinoa, and since they’re mostly made with fruits and veggies I know he’s getting his five-a-day. But they are way too expensive, and I feel that he should start eating more solid food. Yet he’s rejected peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off, sugary cereal, and even his beloved cherry tomatoes recently. He just wants his pouches. We’ve started trying to limit the pouches to the 5 a.m. waking, but it breaks my heart when we say no and he dissolves into tears. The transition has been hard, but I think we’re making progress.

I have resorted to giving him way too many goldfish, but I also discovered that freezing juices into popsicle molds makes them an enticing treat for him. The popsicles have spinach, kale, and/or carrots, so this makes me happy. But still, I haven’t found a way to replace all the fruits and veggies from the pouches. This kid is a vegetarian, so he definitely needs to learn to eat his greens. Should I just keep giving him the pouches to ensure he gets the nutrients he needs? Or should I stop with the pouches and make 20 things every day until I find the foods he’ll eat? Anyone have this pouch issue? What do you recommend?

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