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Kirkland woman blogs for Vegan Month of Food
Pan-seared marinated tofu, homemade hummus, almond milk and PB&Js are just a few of the foods Kirkland resident Sarah De la Cruz and her family regularly enjoy.
The rest of her meals can be found on her vegan blog Fried Dandelions.
And this September, De la Cruz, 34, will be adding more kid-friendly recipes to go with her month-long theme: raising healthy eaters.
De la Cruz is one of several hundred bloggers who have just started the seventh annual Vegan Month of Food challenge, also referred to as “VeganMoFo.”
“A lot of parents struggle to feed kids whether they’re vegan or not,” said De la Cruz, who has a 2-year-old son named David. “[I’ll have] five favorite pasta dishes, new recipes, cupcakes, nut-free snack bars - it will all be focused on getting kids into the kitchen.”
Vegan Month of Food encourages food writers, bloggers and home cooks to write about what they eat and cook with the intention of sharing recipes to expand the world of veganism, one dish at a time.
Throughout the years, “VeganMoFo” was held in October and November but starting this year, the vegan blogging challenge will be one month earlier each time so that bloggers can take advantage of seasonal produce.
De la Cruz, a former graphic designer and art teacher, enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, cooking vegan meals for her family and blogging recipes that turn “mainstream” family meals, such as lasagna, into a vegan meal.
“I tend to cook eyeballing things [and] throw things into a pot, and it drove my husband crazy because I always changed things on the fly,” said De la Cruz, who has lived in Kirkland’s Market neighborhood for eight years. “And my mom said ‘you have a lot of creative meals. Do a blog!’ And friends were always asking ‘what do you eat?’”
So in August 2012, De la Cruz started her blog with only her husband and mother as followers. She did Vegan Month of Food but was focused on new recipes to try and had no theme. Now, it’s amassed more than 1,000 followers on various social media platforms and already has blog posts with fun recipes such as “Jazzed Up Weeknight Ravioli.”
De la Cruz became a vegetarian about three years ago and went full force into veganism in January 2012. She said the appeal of losing weight before having kids and giving up meat instead of sweets were key reasons for switching to vegetarianism.
De la Cruz and her husband, who she says is an omnivore, started out only eating grass-fed beef on the weekends - a change they made after watching the documentary “Food Inc.”
“I think it’s important to not beat yourself up, maybe do one day a week, or breakfast and lunch as a vegan,” De la Cruz said. “Make a switch, rather than dairy, drink almond milk.”
After her son was born, he developed a dairy allergy that put hives on his face. Then she and her husband watched “Food Matters” and she said everything just started “clicking.” De la Cruz stopped eating and drinking dairy products and the hives went away.
And she got more energy, lost 25 pounds, her skin got clearer, her blood pressure dropped significantly and she became overall much healthier.
“A lot of people get so hung up on protein,” she said. “Meat is just not healthy for you. It may be high in protein but that’s not the only thing you need. There’s a lot of plant-based proteins.”
Whether it’s vegetables, beans, nuts, tofu or coconut, De la Cruz said she was committed to learning new recipes and reinventing home meals and now thinking of what to cook for dinner is second nature to her.
“We try to stick to mostly organic and freeze-fresh produce in the summer,” she said. “We do so much so it’s not too expensive, but if you relied on packaged and processed food it might be more. Even if it does cost more from time to time, we’re saving in the long run by investing in our health.”
But going out to her favorite restaurants with vegan options such as Mi Mexico, Plume or Cactus in Kirkland is nice too, she says.
Kirkland resident Sarah De la Cruz, creator of the vegan blog "Fried Dandelions." CONTRIBUTED
Vegan blogger Sarah De la Cruz's triangle tofu dish. CONTRIBUTED