My Vegan Week: Halloween, Cancer, Lunch, and Life

Hey there! I thought I’d start a series called My Vegan Week, to let you in on a little of the day-to-day of regular ol’ vegan life. If any of you are curious about the goings and comings of a vegan life, you might like this. I also thought I could share just some of the Vegan Hacks I come up with throughout the week and just my relaxed, compassionate philosophy about veganism in general.

So let’s start, shall we?

Autumn...the year's last loveliest smile.

Word Quote via Pinterest

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the changing of the colors on our midwestern trees. We have some bright orange trees in our neighborhood with so much crazy color, it’s just, too much! Really, Nature, some times you’re just a little over the top.

Hmm, maybe there’s something to be learned there. That every now and then we all need to take a little time to shine. Love it!

My Vegan Week: M&Ms, Vegan Cookies, and Skittles, Oh My!

This last week I decided I wanted to make some colorful cookies for Halloween. I made these Halloween Googly Eye Cookies. They were so good! But it definitely took me a few tries to get the recipe just right because, obviously, these cookies weren’t made with M&Ms or Reeses Pieces. Those candies have dairy in them, so until they change their recipe (which I can’t decide if that would be a good thing or not!!), we have to get creative. That’s why I tried Skittles. I made a batch of these cookies and they were delicious! We ate several of them right on the spot. The only problem was, the next day the Skittles hardened up and were kind of tough to eat. So, I fiddled with the recipe a bit, and finally figured out a way to attach the Skittles to the cookies after they’d cooled. It was a bit more work than the original recipe, but overall, I was really pleased with the results.

Vegan Halloween Monster Cookies with Vegan Googly Eyes

Vegan, colorful, google-eyed cookies? My day was complete!

Vegan Halloween

Halloween is a time I struggle with being vegan. Not because I want to eat the candy. No, no no. I don’t want to eat the candy. Oh wait. I do want to eat the candy. The little girl in me wants to eat ALL the candy!

But my main struggle with Halloween is I want to give out cool candy. You know the look on the little kids’ faces when they ring the doorbell? It’s so full of anticipation. And they have only one thing on their mind and it’s not how sweetly they’re going to sing “trick-or-treat.”

The only thing on a trick-or-treater’s mind when you answer the door is, “What’s in the bowl, lady!”

And, in fact, when I step outside, their eyes go straight to the bowl I’m holding. My cute, Halloween Treat bowl is pretty eye-catching, but I know they’re checking out the goods inside. And I just think, I don’t want to be that house. You know what I mean? The one that gives out pretzels.

OK. All y’all that hand out pretzels for Halloween, meet me in the middle here. I mean you no disrespect. I’m just saying that from a kid’s perspective, a bag of pretzels just doesn’t rank highly on the fun meter. It’s more of a mom meter.

So, to be completely honest, in years’ past I have purchased things like Halloween-themed Mounds bars in an effort to be more, um, cool. I figure at least it’s dark chocolate, even if it has a little bit of dairy in it.

This year I hoped to hand out Skittles, because they’re kind of cool and vegan. Well, I either got to the store too late, or they don’t sell bags of Halloween-sized Skittles. I think they had a bag of Skittles mixed with Starbursts, but folks, that just doesn’t work. Because Starbursts are not only NOT vegan, they’re not even vegetarian! I think I’ll quote that for you.

Starbursts are not only NOT vegan, they’re not even vegetarian!

That’s because Starbursts have gelatin in them. Gelatin, as you probably already know is made from cow parts (think hooves and hides). What other foods at the store have gelatin in them?

  • Marshmallows
  • Lots of gummy kinds of candies like Gummy Bears
  • Jell-O (the word gelatin is kind of right there in the name)
  • Some peanuts or other nuts will show gelatin in the ingredients, I guess because it helps the salt or other seasonings adhere to the nuts
  • Pop-Tarts. That’s right, most varieties of pop-tarts have gelatin in them. Why oh why??
  • Frosted Mini Wheats. Yes, if you want a little gloss of white sugary substance on your mini wheats, expect a dose of gelatin with it as well. We buy an organic version of mini wheats and add our own sugar!
  • Yogurt. Not only do most yogurts contain dairy products, but they oftentimes add insult to injury by including gelatin as well. I checked out Yoplait and Dannon and both had varieties that showed gelatin in the list of ingredients.
  • Hostess. Pretty much anything with Hostess in the name, has gelatin in it. Hostess Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, Hostess Zingers, etc.

Products that at one time included gelatin but have evolved and since removed gelatin from their ingredients, include:

  • Skittles
  • Junior Mints

I’d  love to see Starburst added to this list some day soon!

So, what did I give out on Halloween night? Well, the Royals were playing in the World Series so we had a smaller number of trick-or-treaters as a result. I imagine parents across Kansas City saying, “I’ll buy you a whole bag of candy to yourself, just let me watch the game!”

But we did have a few and I handed out a couple of different things. I bought a mixed bag of candy that included Laffy Taffy’s and Nerds. The package of Nerds said may contain eggs.

What the heck does that mean? That statement, based on my research, is basically lawyer speak for “processed in a plant or on a a line where egg products have been handled.” In other words, for folks with an extreme allergy to eggs, they would want to avoid that product, but for vegans who simply want to eat something that doesn’t have eggs in it, this should be ok.

I also handed out a few snack packs of yogurt-covered raisins. Let me explain. This product was given to me at a recent conference. My mom loves raisins and I knew she’d love yogurt-covered raisins. And I thought kids might like them too.

Does giving my mom yogurt-covered raisins or handing them out on Halloween make me the strangest vegan ever?

Possibly.

But you know what? As I explained in my post 10 Ways to be Vegan, it’s pretty much impossible in today’s modern world to be 100% vegan.

I do my best most days and try not to sweat the small stuff. If that makes me 93% vegan instead of 95%, who’s really going to fill out a complaint about me? I figure no one, including me.

Oh wait. I have and probably will continue to get negative comments from the Black & White police. You know who they are? People who see the world only in shades of black and white? They complained about the post above and may complain about this one as well.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned, if only one of you can be happy, it might as well be you!

You can't please everyone and you can't make everyone like you. Katie Couric

The Royals

I have to say I’m pretty excited about the Royals. When I was a kid I was a big fan of baseball. In fact, at one point, I wanted to be the first female professional baseball player. And, of course, I wanted to play for the Royals. So seeing them win the World Series again this week (just a short 30 years after the previous win), was pretty amazing!

Stage Four

I just learned this week that a member of my extended family has been diagnosed with Stage Four esophageal cancer. As you can imagine, I stepped into high vegan gear and called to talk with him about what his next steps are for chemo and everything else. His first goal is to gain some weight because he’s had trouble eating lately. And he doesn’t want to start chemo until he can gain back a little weight/strength. I researched several books with recipes for smoothies and finally ordered for him the book Crazy Sexy Juice by Kris Carr. I also talked with my new friend Megan of the site Detoxinista (she’s a certified Holistic Health Counselor…and all-around great person). Based on my research and my talk with Megan, I made a list of recommendations for him and I’m going to share those with you too in a separate post, with the hope that you can build on it or provide encouragement in other ways. Cancer is a tough adversary, and I’m hoping these resources will be helpful to him and others.

Lunchables

I share a lot of my recipes on the blog, but just in case you’re curious about what we eat on a day-to-day basis, I’ve started posting lunch photos on Instagram. Here’s an example

 

Namely Marly Lunchables - Vegan Black Bean Burger with Nectar Mustard Sauce

That’s basically one of my favorite Vegan Black Bean Burgers with a side salad and a quick Nectar Honey Mustard dressing, made with a teaspoon or two of dairy-free mayo (my favorite right now is Just May0), just a bit of yellow mustard and agave nectar to taste. Drizzle that over the burger and the salad for a delicious and easy lunch! Of course, that salad is made beautiful by some fresh cherry tomatoes and a new nut/raisin salad topping coming out early next year by the folks at Sun-Maid Raisins. We just love these salad toppers and can’t wait for you to try them too!

Well, that’s it for today’s first edition of my Vegan Week.

Health + Happiness,

Marly

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