Written by guest blogger Lacey Siomos
My Sunday starts like every other day. I'm woken up by a gentle smack-smack-smack from a little hand who wants to nurse. My son is 8 months old, and, like many families, I choose to safely cosleep. Being able to wake up with my babies and tend to their needs immediately has been a choice I have questioned at times, but it has kept me sane and rested, and I know it's what works best for us as a family. Sometimes as parents we make choices that others might not immediately understand but we know are right for ourselves.
Once I roll my mom buns out of bed, I will spend most of my morning meal prepping for the week, like I do almost every Sunday. I try to make as much from scratch as possible because, like most people, I want to provide healthy and well balanced meals for my family. Unlike most families, we have chosen to live a vegan lifestyle and consume a vegan diet. This week I will be making almond milk to make dairy-free cheese, kneading seitan, chopping almost a million vegetables, and pressing at least one block of tofu. I especially love the process of making seitan. Something about kneading the dough and formation of strands of gluten that take on a dense, striated consistency post-steaming surprises me every time.
Six years ago I made a choice to no longer contribute to the animal agriculture industry, because I realized it conflicted with my own personal morals. At the time, I had no forethought to think of what those choices would mean to my children, I just knew it was the right decision to uphold my own sense of ethics and moral code.
Now that my two children are a part of our lives, I am continually amazed to see the world through their eyes. I love to educate myself and them about ways we can live a better vegan lifestyle. I'm often asked by others if I feel like I am forcing my own decisions on my children. My response is that every family makes their own decisions in how they raise their children—this just happens to be the one that matches our own moral code. We practice our choices in the way we purchase our foods, toiletries, and even the activities we participate in. We can live a fully healthy, normal lifestyle while practicing minimal harm and exploitation. Seeing the way my 3-year-old views animals and plants has given me such a fresh perspective on veganism. She has such a varied diet with vegetables and fruits from many cultures: plantains, avocados, okra, ghana yams, coconut, bananas, tofu, and more.
Each day a family makes hundred of choices. Some days you may choose to share a sleep surface. Some days you may choose to use cloth diapers. Some days you may babywear throughout the entire day. Some days you may choose a crib, disposables, and a stroller. Each of these individual choices don't fully shape who we are as parents, but when added together, the choices that form the majority become how we define ourselves. As long as those are the right choices for your family, that is all that matters.
At the end of the day, I'm just a normal mom. I have a mom-bun. I like to hug my kids. I like to have a beer with friends. Like every other mom/dad/grandparent/caretaker out there, I'm trying to make the right choices for my children. And the right choice is the one that you know in your heart is best for your family.
This is my current favorite seitan recipe. It can be used as is, breaded, sautéed, or really any application, for a protein source. The nutritional yeast packs a bit of b12 into the recipe, but it can be substituted with all-purpose flour or chickpea flour.
• 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp miso paste
• 1 tsp garlic powder and onion powder
• 1/2 tsp white pepper
• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
• 1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor with dough blade attached. Blend for 20 seconds.
2. Add vital wheat gluten and process until it comes together in a large ball, and continue for about 2-3 minutes to knead. It will look like a ball of dough, but much denser, and slightly stringy.
3. Let rest for 10-20 minutes. Slice into about 30 “nuggets” . Place in rows on 12 inch sheets of tin foil, and wrap gently into squares, leaving room for expansion.
4. Steam in packets for 30 minutes. I use my Instant Pot on manual, high pressure with a trivet and 2 cups of water. Use quick release.
5. Wait until cool enough to handle. From here, the nuggets can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months, or stored in the refridgerator up to a week.
6. To make wings, cut a 25 cm rice paper wrapper into quarters. Thoroughly moisten each quarter and wrap tightly around each nugget. Place seam side down in an oiled glass baking dish and cover with favorite barbecue sauce. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.