I am exploring the art in everyday domestic life. I quit my long-time communications job and work as a freelance writer from home. My blog examines the simple pleasures of family life, including yummy vegetarian food.
Joann is a winner of Top 25 Vegan & Vegetarian Moms - 2013
What's your favorite vegan or vegetarian friendly product?
That's a tough one. Over the years, I have discovered so many wonderful products. Extra-firm tofu is a necessity in my house. We use it for stir-frys and pizzas and all kinds of other recipes. Daiya brand vegan cheese is another favorite. I put the shredded “mozzarella” on tortilla chips and bake it in the oven.
What's the biggest misconception people have about being a vegan or vegetarian?
I don’t know what misconceptions people in real life have, but on television vegetarians (and especially vegans) are often portrayed as crazy. I’m a regular mom who just happens to be vegetarian. Yes, I care about animals, eat organic when possible and gave birth to my babies at home, but I’m also very sane...most of the time.
What's your best tip for families who want to start living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle?
Read lots of blogs, websites and cookbooks. Start by modifying your regular recipes (like tomato sauce and pizza) and build from there. I have built up my knowledge of vegetarian eating over almost 20 years, but I started off by just replacing meat with tofu, veggie burgers and beans.
These delicious, fluffy strawberry muffins are vegan, but you would never know it! The Earth Balance margarine gives them a nice “buttery” taste. I use light spelt flour, but regular flour would be fine too. I would probably add some nuts if the kids weren’t taking the muffins to school. Muffins are great, healthy, portable snacks for kids and adults alike!
I really enjoyed making this lollipop flower garden birthday cake for my daughter, because it was easy, no pressure and the kids loved it. My two children were able to help me with the decorating because it was no fuss and involved lots of candy!
From peach pies and berry cobbler to lemon shortcake and watermelon popsicles, fruity desserts are perfect for summer. Please share your favorite fruit-based dessert, and include a link to the recipe and photo.
I can't get enough of these berry oat bars! They are simple and quick to make, delicious, and vegan to boot. Fresh or frozen berries will work. These bars freeze nicely and defrost quickly, so you can enjoy them with a cup of tea at a moment's notice.
My go-to party recipe is lentils and rice. This classic recipe has very few ingredients and is so simple to prepare, yet it turns out to be delicious. People often request that I bring it to parties. This recipe makes a large amount and it is suitable for vegetarians, vegans, people with gluten sensitivities and just about everybody else! My kids love it too, and they are super picky!
My daughter's favorite finger food is my “All or Nothing Granola Bars.” They are perfect for a healthy, filling, portable snack to take anywhere this summer. They also make a great at-work snack for adults. I call them "All or Nothing Granola Bars" because I like to go heavy on the add-ins: some raisins, dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Oh, and some ground flaxseed for good measure.
The lentils and rice recipe given to me by my friend Tina and her mom Violet is possibly my favourite recipe EVER. I got this recipe from them many years ago, after one of their wonderful parties with lots of delicious food. Isn’t that the best kind of party? Since then, I’ve made lentils and rice for countless events, including birthday parties, baptisms and potlucks at work. If you know me, there is a good chance I have served you lentils and rice. One of the things I like about this recipe is there is a fair amount of cooking time, but little prep work. You can prepare other dishes while it cooks. It also makes a large quantity, so it’s great for a party. It is deceptively simple with few ingredients. Give it a try. I bet you’ll love it too!
These non-dairy, nut-free vegan chocolate chip cookie wedges are a great homemade lunch box treat. They are chewy, with a dense oat-y texture and a yummy chocolate chip cookie taste. I love the combination of oats and chocolate. My kids love them too!
I use a rack of colorful bins to store not only toys, but clothes! My daughter chooses her outfits for the school week and carefully puts one outfit in each of the bins, in order of the days. It keeps things neat and saves a bunch of time on busy mornings.
This pumpkin banana date loaf is the perfect fall treat. It benefits from a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. It also features the warm, comforting taste of pumpkin, along with yummy banana and sweet dates.
I call these cookies Oatmeal Everything Cookies, because they have a bunch of fun added ingredients, including dried cranberries for an extra sweet treat! I pumped up the nutritional value in these cookies by adding ground flaxseed and sunflower seeds. They also have a good portion of healthy oats.
I recommend my Black Bean and Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Soup because my kids actually like it! That's saying a lot...trust me! You can put it in the slow cooker to cook overnight and it will be hot and ready for your little one's thermos the next day.
For a sweet but healthy little treat for a new mom, share these freezable peanut butter chocolate cereal bars. They are a great quick nutrient fix when you are up breastfeeding during the night. Trust me, I've done it! All that breastfeeding makes you hungry!
When the temperature starts to rise, we look for simple, light meals and snacks. After all, the kids (and I) want to spend more time outdoors than in the kitchen. For a quick mid-afternoon boost, this sweet and delicious smoothie does the trick.
My son once asked me to make him a "pink" smoothie. I looked around the kitchen and spotted some pears that needed to be used up. Add some strawberries and raspberries and you've got pink! It became my "Pink Pear Smoothie" and my son loves it!