Over the last year as I learn more and more about food, my family has expressed a greater interest in healthy eating. My little brother Ryan (15) and little sister Rachel (17) especially, as they become more self-aware and conscious of the food they put into their bodies. My dad (52), who has always known about healthy eating but not always practiced it, is beginning to feel the effects of aging and the huge workload he takes on every day (he is a contractor and carpet cleaner).
A few weeks ago my little brother Ryan asked me to give him a tour of my mom's pantry and explain what foods were good for him and what foods to avoid. He asked me to give him a daily menu of things to eat at every meal and give him recipes of healthy foods he can cook himself. Both he and my little sister Rachel have been off of sweets, refined grains, and milk for nearly six months now. (I can't even express how proud I am of such young kids taking all of this on!)
Around the same time Ryan was asking for my advice, my dad really started kicking things up. He started to cut down on his portions of refined grains and sweets and start drinking veggie and fruit smoothies every day. He agreed to watch both Earthlings and Food Inc., both of which he LOVED (as much as you can love something like Earthlings).
So it was with this momentum that I decided to give my family a vegan starter kit/gift basket. Though it doesn't look like that much all spread out (below), it does make a dent in one's pocketbook! A few Sundays ago, Ben and I went to my parents house in the afternoon to deliver our gift. We explain what each item was and how to use it. Besides the many food products we included the book The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions to help my mom and the kids when they are cooking and baking. We included many of the ingredients the book calls for in our starter kit. They absolutely loved the gift and I have been getting awesome feedback in the last few weeks about how they are using it all!
About a week ago I also sent Ryan and Rachel a list of easy recipes they can make for themselves to bring to school or for snacks, including my 'tuna' salad, jedi juice, french toast, pancakes, and nachos. I sent my mom a few seitan recipes and she even made my fajitas last Sunday! Success!
Anyway, as you can tell I am very excited about my family's transition. As of now I think they have cut out high fructose corn syrup and refined grains as a family. Ryan, Rachel, and my dad are basically off of all animals products too. Awesome!
Here is the starter kit we gave them:
From left to right, we have The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, EnerG Egg Replacer, Earth Balance, a jar of whole flax seeds, organic vanilla soymilk, nutritional yeast, organic unsweetened plain soymilk for cooking, vegenaise, a green food powder for my dad's smoothies, Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base, organic butter flavored vegetable shortening, and a bag of vital wheat gluten. Yay! I am also planning on bringing them soy bacon bits and powdered soy milk this week :)