Erin Marrs is all about simple, nourishing, delicious vegan eats. Her vegan journey started with the sole purpose of clearing up her skin. It worked. Her acne cleared up, then she went on to become certified in Plant-Based Nutrition at ECornell by Dr. T Colin Campbell. You can tell just by her glow that that eating all those plants is working for her! With two kids, and a hungry hubby, she knows how to satisfy all the taste buds in her family with whole-food, plant-based meals. Lucky for us, she has the blog ‘The Vegan Ginger‘. Let’s learn more about her, and her favourite recipe for the family.
Hooked On Plants (HOP): How long have you been vegan?
The Vegan Ginger (VG): I have been vegan since December 2007, but I consider myself REALLY vegan since September 2012 which is when I decided to a eat a healthy plant based vegan diet and really learn how to cook!
HOP: I love the name of your blog! When and why did you start The Vegan Ginger?
VG: Thank you! I started The Vegan Ginger blog in the summer of 2013 just really as a place to send my friends and family when they had questions or wanted recipes, which was basically every day for me.
HOP: What different types of vegan diets have you tried, and which one do you find the best?
VG: In terms of vegan diets, I have been the “unhealthy vegan” although not extremely but would still eat french fries and processed foods, and a healthy vegan. I would love to try fruitarian/raw HCLF but I just find it hard with the climate I live in where we don’t have as many delicious fruit options as say Australia or Hawaii. Although my breakfast is usually just a lot of fruit or a mono meal of fruit.
HOP: You’re raising the next generation vegans! You give a great overview of a what your kids eat in a day. But, can you give 3 tips to new parents for adding more plants into their kids diet?
- Eat more plants yourself! Monkey see monkey do! When I am eating a fruits and veggies that is all my toddler wants also. If I were to make popcorn or have some dark chocolate that is all he would want too. If it doesn’t work right away just keep eating well and eventually they will want everything you are eating.
- Don’t offer or have the “bad stuff” around. If I am serving a large quinoa salad for dinner but my toddler sees a big bowl of potato chips he, like most kids, will tell me he wants the chips.
- Get them involved! Recently since the summer has hit we have lettuce and other vegetables growing on our deck and sprouts always sprouting indoors. Everyday we check them, water them, …etc…When I go to make a salad, if he gets to help cut the lettuce and take the sprouts out of the jar after watching them grow for a few days, he is way more excited about it. I also ask him what we should put in our salads and give him options. Give him a dull knife and let him help “chop” the vegetables . He will down any meal when he puts effort into. It is amazing to see!
HOP: Can you give everyone 3-5 tips on how to deal with vegan kids at ‘normal’ birthday parties, at school hot lunch days or any other kind of events with non-vegan food?
- As much as I love to only feed my family nourishing healthy vegan food, when it comes to social events I also don’t want for my kids to feel like they are “missing out”. We aren’t in school yet but we did just celebrate my older sons fourth birthday and I did go the pizza and cupcakes route. We also had fruit, and of course the pizza and cupcakes were vegan, just not necessarily part of a ‘whole foods diet’, but this happens on special occasions.
- When taking my son to birthday parties he knows ahead of time that he won’t be able to eat the pizza/cake because it has “cows milk” in it (as my toddler will tell you), and he is totally ok with that! He knows it would make him sick and isn’t good for him. We bring a piece of cake for him (these ones are great in a pinch and you can get them at Whole Foods) or we ask him what treat he would like and so far he has always been completely fine with it.
- Now I am sure this applies to all kids, but never go hungry! Parents, you either! haha There is nothing worse than a hungry toddler but also that way when it is time to eat you don’t have to worry about being stuck with a starving kid and nothing to eat. And I find toddlers much more rational and easy to reason with when they are fed. I also bring snacks for the ride home.
HOP: What is the next big project you’re working on?
VG: My husband and I actually decided to start a blog together of our vegan family adventures called “The Green Grazers” we share our favourite recipes, family travels, how we eat when we travel, and info about raising our vegan babies!
HOP: Do you take your own photos?
VG: I always take my own photos! It is kind of a passion of mine also. That is kind of another reason for started the blogs. I absolutely love photography and taking beautiful photos of food and people and scenery so it is a great way to share it.
HOP: What are 3 tips for beginner photographers?
- ALWAYS use natural lighting. There are obviously ways around this, but as a beginner just take your photos beside a window it makes the world of a difference.
- Declutter your photo, this might just be a personal preference but for a beginner on Instagram just taking photos with an Iphone, try to make sure there isn’t anything in your background that you don’t want there, or that takes away from your subject (food or people)
- Do not use flash! This goes hand in hand with #1 but aside from using natural lighting, make sure your flash is off and if your photo is a bit dark use an editing app to brighten the photo!
HOP: What does your breakfast, lunch and dinner look like?
- Breakfast is usually fruit and or a smoothie/smoothie bowl and I always try to start the day with a hot lemon water.
- Lunch would usually be leftovers. I always double recipes so my lunches are already made for us. Or hummus, crackers & veggies, and snacky foods. Recently I started eating “wrap it up raw” wraps with hummus and veggies and they are delicious!
- Dinner is usually something planned. Our fave meals have got to be bowls. So rice/noodles/lettuce as a base with veggies, beans, legumes and tofu and then topped with a sauce. We have all the cookbooks from Fresh Restaurants and make all of their recipes many times. They are delicious!
HOP: What is your favourite kitchen dance song?
VG: Most of the time my toddler controls what we listen to while we are in the kitchen. He goes between dancing and helping me cook. Right now he loves ‘Can’t stop that feeling‘ – Justin Timberlake.
HOP: What do you love feeding your kids, and what are you excited to make next?
VG: With two kids it is all about having quick healthy snacks and these are jam packed with oats, seeds, nuts, banana and zero added sugar! A recipe I am really looking forward to trying is your Homemade Kombucha! I LOVE kombucha and I would love to be able to make my own! It can be so expensive at the store!
Find Erin here:
Pinterest: The Vegan Ginger
Now it’s time to share one of Erin’s FAVE recipes!
- 2 Ripe Bananas – mashed
- 1½ cup – Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats
- 1 tablespoon – chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon – sesame seeds
- ½ cup – unsweetened applesauce (can be substituted with any fruit puree or try pumpkin! yum!)
- 1 tablespoon – cacao nibs/chocolate chips (optional, my husband did not like the version with the cacao nibs)
- 1 tablespoon – sunflower seeds/or any other nuts/seeds you prefer** (read note)
- ⅓ cup – natural peanut butter (or sub any nut other nut butter)
- 1 teaspoon – vanilla
- 1 tablespoon – blackstrap molasses (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
- Once that is done mash the ripe bananas with a fork on a plate and add to a large mixing bowl
- Add remaining ingredients (expect the chocolate chips) and stir until well combined.
- Then take a heaping tablespoon of the cookie dough and place them on the baking sheet about an inch apart. (Don’t worry too much about spacing because they don’t grow or change shape). Press a few chocolate chips onto each cookie.
- Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes.
- Let cool and enjoy!