Vegan Lactation Cookies

The other day I had some oatmeal cookies (ok, lots of oatmeal cookies) and within a couple of hours my boobs were pretty engorged and leaking milk, and were engorged all night after that, until the baby had a huge feed in the morning and then got sick all over my bed!  I guess it’s safe to say that my milk supply is good at the moment, but I decided to try making my own lactation cookie recipe anyway.  Well maybe I just wanted to eat more cookies, but I had been meaning to try making lactation cookies and they might come in handy sometime when I feel like my milk supply needs a boost.

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Lactation cookies can be a yummy way to try to give your supply a bit of a boost for people who already have a good supply.  If you truly have low supply then it’s best to contact a lactation consultant or a group like La Leche League for advice as lactation cookies won’t help people who really have low supply.

While there is no scientific evidence of oats increasing milk supply, many people say it works for them.  Lactation cookies also commonly contain brewer’s yeast and fennel seeds, which are thought to possibly increase milk production.  I’ve added lots of nutritious ingredients that I thought would also be beneficial to breastfeeding parents.  Even if it doesn’t work for increasing milk production, it’s a yummy treat that provides goodness and can be eaten one handed while holding a baby!  So I thought it was a recipe worth trying anyway.

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In my recipe I added ground flax seed, walnuts and pumpkin seeds to provide protein and omega 3’s (important for breastfeeding parents), ground almond to provide more protein and calcium, raisins and dried cranberries to make it sweeter and chewy and yummier, and dark chocolate-chips because I definitely need lots of chocolate when I have a baby to feed!  And ground fennel seeds, which adds a subtle flavour that I think goes really well with the chocolate.  I used coconut oil and coconut sugar to make them a little healthier than most cookies, and I think it gives them a nice flavour and the coconut sugar gives them a lovely golden brown colour.

I want to note that you don’t need to eat super healthily to produce enough milk or good quality breast milk.  As long as you’re not malnourished then your milk will usually be perfect.  But it is good to have some healthy stuff too (and cookies are always good!).  My aim was to make these cookies a nice balance of being healthy and a sweet treat.

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Feel free to change it up a bit, you could replace the chocolate with more raisins, or the raisins with more chocolate, use all walnuts instead of walnuts and pumpkin seeds, add chopped almonds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, or anything you feel like really!  If you don’t have coconut sugar, use granulated sugar or brown sugar, and you can use any other fairly neutral flavoured oil or melted vegan butter instead of coconut oil, if you like.

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I made these cookies gluten-free because I have coeliac disease, so if you want to make them gluten-free, simply use a self-raising gluten-free flour mix (I like Dove’s Farm ones), certified gluten-free oats, and omit the brewer’s yeast (which I believe is not considered to be gluten-free).  They might not be as effective without the brewer’s yeast, but hopefully still are quite good with the oats, fennel and all the other healthy ingredients.

I’ve been eating these all day and really like them.  The kids also love them and Rian calls them “superhero cookies”!

So let me know if you try them and how they worked out for you.  I’m going to try making a batch of them whenever I feel like I need a bit of a boost, or just feel like some cookies.

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Ingredients:

2 tbsp. ground flax seeds

1 cup of porridge oats

1 cup of self-raising flour

1/2 cup of ground almonds

1/2 cup of coconut sugar

1 tbsp. brewer’s yeast

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla essence

45g raisins, dried cranberries or a mix

45g vegan chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar

30g chopped walnuts

30g pumpkin seeds

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How they’re made:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Mix the ground flaxseed with 6 tbsp of water and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil over a gentle heat.

Grind the fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, ground almonds, coconut sugar, brewer’s yeast, ground fennel seeds and salt.

Make a well in the centre and add the flaxseed mixture, the melted coconut oil, the vanilla essence and 1/4 of a cup of water.

Add the raisins/dried cranberries, chocolate-chips, chopped walnuts and pumpkin seeds and mix it all well with a wooden spoon.

Take 1 tbsp of the dough at a time and shape it into a cookie shape with your hands.  Place the cookies on a lined baking tray with a little space between them.

Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown.

Leave to cool before serving.

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Blueberry Yoghurt Flapjacks

 

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I feel like this has been a really productive morning!  By 9am I had already made and photographed this recipe for a blog post.  Then I wasted about an hour and a half reading things online before actually getting around to writing the post…but here it is!

 

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I’ve made this before a few times and always meant to post it on the blog.  I made it before with coconut oil, but have changed a few things this time to make an oil-free recipe, with the addition of almond butter, which I think gives a really nice flavour and adds more nutrients than just using oil.

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These are really healthy, quick and easy to make, and make a lovely breakfast or snack.  They’re really handy for picnics or school lunches too.  They’re not too sweet, and my kids love them and so do I!  They provide lots of goodness from the oats, blueberries, almond butter and soya yoghurt.

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I made them with Alpro plain soya yoghurt, which has a little added sugar, but you could also make them with a plain soya yoghurt that has no added sugar.  You might want to add a little extra maple syrup if you do.  They’re definitely not as sweet as most flapjack recipes, but are much healthier!

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Ingredients:

2 cups of porridge oats

1/2 cup of plain soya yoghurt (plus extra to drizzle on top if you like)

2-3 tbsp. maple syrup

2 tbsp. almond butter

100g blueberries (fresh or frozen)

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How they’re made:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl, whisk together the soya yoghurt, maple syrup and almond butter until well mixed.

With a spoon stir in the oats and blueberries even well mixed so that the blueberries are fairly evenly distributed.  If there are a lot of blueberries in one of the flapjacks, it might not hold together so well, but will still taste great!

Spread the mixture evenly into a lined baking tray or cake tin and press it down firmly.

Bake for about 30 minutes until light golden brown on top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool a bit before slicing.

Serve with extra soya yoghurt if you like.

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My Vegan Labour and Hospital Bag

I just had my third baby, Síofra, 6 weeks ago so thought I’d write about all the vegan things I packed in my labour and hospital bags.  As well as all the usual things, like pyjamas, big comfy underwear, baby clothes, etc. I needed a lot of toiletries and things that are often tested on animals or contain non-vegan ingredients.

Figuring out what products are suitable for vegans can take a bit of time, when you’re newly vegan, but you get used to it quickly enough.  Health stores usually have a good selection of vegan products, which will often be marked as vegan and not tested on animals.  Some supermarkets don’t test their own brand products on animals, and more and more companies are stating on their packaging if the product is suitable for vegans.  You might have to do a quick internet search or email the company to be sure though.  One sure way to know is if the product has the Leaping Bunny symbol or Vegan Society symbol.

So these are a few of the things that I found useful.

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I like the Superdrug own brand range.  Superdrug are against animal testing and the products are really good value.  Most of their products are suitable for vegans, and this is stated on the packaging, though not every product, so you have to check.  I don’t get there often because there isn’t one where I live, but you can order on their website and they have free delivery if you buy over a certain amount, so that was really handy for me.

I got all the basic things from Superdrug like shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and toothpaste.  They have travel size bottles, which was handy.  And these refreshing hand wipes were nice and cooling during labour.

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Superdrug’s My Little Star range of maternity and baby products are all not tested on animals, and mostly vegan apart from the nipple cream, nappy cream and baby SPF50 sun lotion.  I’ve tried a few of these before, and stocked up on a lot of them this time for the hospital and after the baby was born.

I got these My Little Star maternity pads and breast pads, which were really good value.  Another vegan option, which would be more environmentally friendly, would be to use reusable washable maternity pads and breast pads like Lunapads and Bamboobies.  With three kids and already endless laundry to do, I chose to go with disposables for convenience.

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I’ve recently heard that some nappies contain animal fat.  (Is there anything they can’t put unnecessary animal products in?)  So I stocked up on a lot of these Superdrug nappies, as well as baby wipes and cotton wool pads.  You can also find nappies in health food shops that are environmentally friendly and vegan, like Naty nappies.  Another great option for vegans, is to use cloth nappies, which are usually vegan (some are made of wool though), and are much more environmentally friendly, can work out chaper, and are really cute!

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In the first few weeks with a newborn, I like to use just water to clean them, which works perfectly fine and is more gentle on their skin.  But I got this baby wash because it was such good value.  I’ve mostly used it for the boys, but use a little of the soft wash for washing Síofra’s hair.  They’re really nice and smell lovely!

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I’ve heard so many times in vegan parenting groups that Earth Mama Angel Baby products are amazing.  I emailed the company who assured me that all their products are vegan and not tested on animals.  A lot of brands of nipple cream are lanolin based (from sheep’s wool) or otherwise not vegan so it’s great to be able to get a vegan nipple cream.  They also do baby products like nappy cream.  I didn’t find that my babies needed nappy cream much, so didn’t buy any, but it would be useful to have too.  I didn’t end up needing to use the spray (thankfully!) and just used the nipple butter a little in the first week or two.  But they say the nipple butter can be used on any dry skin, etc. so I’ve used it on my hands which have been really dry since I’m always cooking and cleaning and feeding animals so wash my hands a lot.  And it has been really great for my hands!  I would have loved to have these two products when I had my first baby, so really think they’re worth having just in case.

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Batiste dry shampoo is suitable for vegans and not tested on animals, and could come in very useful if you need to refresh your hair a bit in the hospital but can’t wash it for some reason.  And it definitely was useful for me in the early days with a new baby, when it’s not always easy to find the time to wash your hair!  It also comes in travel size cans, which would be useful for bring to hospital.

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I love Crystal Spring Salt of the Earth deodorants, which are suitable for vegans and not tested on animals.  They are great for sensitive skin, and I find my skin is more sensitive when I’m pregnant.  They are also natural, and so I don’t mind using them around a new baby, whereas I wouldn’t like spraying regular deodorant near a baby when they’re newborn.  This solid deodorant is very useful for travelling or bringing to hospital.  You simply use it on wet skin or wet it and rub it on your skin.  Then dry it off with a towel and put the lid back on.

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Lip balm can be great to have during labour because your lips can get really dry.  Maternity wards can be very hot too, which can be drying for your lips, so it’s a good idea to have a good lip balm.  I got this gorgeous one from Lush, which smells lovely and works really well.  It was such a nice treat to myself that I packed it for the hospital, because we all need something nice when we’re in labour or have just had a baby!  All Lush products are not tested on animals, and most are vegan, which will be stated on the packaging.

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Lavender oil can be good to help you relax during labour.  You can use it in a diffuser, put a few drops on your pillow to help you sleep, smell it or rub it on your skin.  I find it quite hard to sleep in the hospital with all the noise and lights and being in a strange bed, so find lavender oil really relaxing.

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Coconut oil is really useful to have for all kinds of things, as a light moisturiser for you or your baby, I’ve heard of people using it as a nappy cream or nipple cream.  And of course, it’s completely vegan!  It’s a bit expensive but a tub of it lasts me for ages.

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And that’s pretty much it!  I don’t think I even used everything when I was in hospital but I guess it was good to have just in case I needed it.

Looking at all the things now, I think I could have used more environmentally friendly and all natural products, but I was also trying to not spend too much money.  I want to start trying to make a few products for me and the kids soon, so will post about that when I do!

If anyone has any suggestions for things they found useful for their hospital bag, or any recommendations for baby or maternity products they like, let me know in the comments.

 

Chocolate Orange Energy Bites

I used to always make these kind of energy bites or energy bars before until my food processor broke.  I used the food processor almost every day so was so sad!  I got by with just a small smoothie maker for some things, but it can’t blend up dates and nuts.  I kept meaning to replace the food processor and finally did recently, so I can make a lot more healthy treats like these!  (My food processor is a Kenwood Multipro Compact which I love, but I think you could make these in any kind of food processor.)

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Oran has been a bit sick for a few days, just a bit of a fever and cough.  He’s still eating plenty but I wanted to make something to give him plenty of energy, and a nice treat for him.  And something to distract me from eating the kids’ leftover Easter eggs!  (They got bored of chocolate when they finished their white chocolate eggs, so there’s still dark chocolate ones.)

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These are really easy and quick to make, but taste great.  It’s easy to make different variations, and you can use different nuts or oats.  People usually use 1 cup of pitted dates to 1 cup of nuts/oats, then add whatever else you want to flavour it or add more goodness.  So it’s easy to remember that, and as long as you don’t add too much liquid ingredients then you can’t go wrong.  This time I made chocolate orange flavour.

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I made these with a mixture of walnuts and oats, and the dates, with some cocoa powder, orange zest, orange juice and ground flaxseeds.  The walnuts and flaxseeds provide omega 3, and I’m trying to eat more walnuts because I never remember to include them in my diet.  I think I like making this with a mixture of nuts and oats best, it gives them a nice texture and provides plenty of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates.  So they’re very healthy and good to give you energy quickly, but also a nice sweet treat.  They’re also handy for kids’ lunch boxes (if the school is nut free, make them with just oats or try seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds).  They’re the perfect size for little toddler hands to hold, and are a good snack for baby led weaning too!

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Ingredients:

Makes about 10 energy bites

1 cup of pitted dates

1/2 cup of walnuts

1/2 cup of oats

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp ground flaxseeds (optional)

Zest of half an orange

Juice of 1/4-1/2 an orange

How it’s made:

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend.  I used the juice of half an orange but start off with adding the juice of a quarter and add more until the mixtures comes together so that you can roll it into balls, but so that it’s not too wet.

Form the mixture into balls with your hands and store in the fridge.

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Vegan Pregnancy Number 3

 

Now that baby Síofra is 6 weeks old and all settled in to our family, I’m finding more time to do some blogging while she naps.  I wanted to talk about how my pregnancy with her went.

This was my third pregnancy and they were all vegan pregnancies.  I’ve been very lucky to have easy pregnancies, but as well as luck, I think being vegan does help a bit!  It definitely doesn’t hurt, because I’ve stayed very healthy and my babies have all been healthy.

In the first trimester I was a bit tired, which I think is common.  I always find the first trimester the most tiring time.  Even so I was able to go for long walks with the kids most days, and really enjoy the lovely autumn we had.  I took the time to relax, apart from the hard work of looking after two kids!

I didn’t have any real morning sickness, but felt a bit nauseous and didn’t have that big an appetite.  Even so, I was able to eat very healthily.  I didn’t worry too much about getting all my nutrients, just ate mostly healthy homemade food and what I felt like.  I also took a vegan prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement, just to be safe.

My doctor did blood tests to check my iron levels, B12 and all the usual stuff and they all were perfect.  It was great to be starting off with a healthy start.  My doctors and midwives have never had any concerns about me being vegan during my three pregnancies.

 

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In the second trimester I got my energy back and it was great!  I kept getting gentle exercise and ate healthily.  I got regular check ups with my doctor and everything was going great.  This was my favourite part of the pregnancy and the easiest.  I felt so wonderful, and felt like I looked really healthy, had clear skin and shiny hair, and was loving being pregnant.

I also found out I was having a girl!  Even though I didn’t really mind, it was a nice surprise after having two boys.  So that just added to my happiness.

 

In the third trimester I got a bit more tired, though luckily not too bad.  I was still eating healthily and getting exercise, pushing Oran’s stroller around town really helped to give me an energy boost!  I think I ate quite a few potato waffles, jelly tots and needed coffee to get me through some days, and sometimes I was pretty tired by bed time and found it hard to be as patient with the kids at the end of pregnancy.  But all in all, it was fine.  My iron levels stayed really good throughout my pregnancy too, without having to take additional iron supplements (apart from the small amount of iron in my prenatal vitamins).  Like I said, I’m very lucky to have easy pregnancies, even though I think all pregnancies have their challenges!  I know not all vegan pregnancies are easy, but I do think it can help to prevent some of the bad symptoms that people commonly get.  And of course being vegan doesn’t automatically mean someone has a healthy diet, but it’s definitely possible for vegans to be very healthy during pregnancy and all life stages.

 

Now I have my perfect little baby and couldn’t be happier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Vegan Easter

This is just a quick blog post to talk about all the chocolate we’re eating today!  If anyone is new to being vegan and wondering if there are vegan Easter eggs available, there’s a great selection of vegan Easter eggs widely available nowadays.  Vegan kids (and grown ups) definitely don’t miss out!  I couldn’t even get photos of the eggs before the kids started eating them, but did get some photos of Oran’s chocolatey face.

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My kids got these Kinnerton Just Chocolate dark chocolate eggs and Tesco Free From white chocolate eggs from their Nana this year.  I have tested both eggs and can tell you they’re delicious!  I had to steal some to make sure the kids don’t get too much sugar, you see.  And for blogging purposes…

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I didn’t actually get them any Easter eggs myself because I knew they’d have more than enough from their grandparents!  I don’t like them to have too much refined sugar on a daily basis but don’t mind them having it on special occasions.  It was great that they got a dark chocolate egg each, because they are eating only small amounts of it at a time, so it’s not too much sugar all at once.  And they did eat a very healthy breakfast and lunch today so I’m happy.

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They really love both of these Easter eggs, especially the white chocolate one, which is a real treat because they don’t often get white chocolate.  I used to love white chocolate before I was vegan, so like having it sometimes now too, even though dark chocolate is my favourite.

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I got a really lovely Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate egg.  It’s my favourite chocolate!

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Like I said, vegan Easter eggs are widely available nowadays.  Some other brands include Moo Free and Choices, which are available in many supermarkets and health shops.  I’m so happy that my kids get to get the same kinds of treats as any other kid, even if they’re not the healthiest food!  Happy cruelty-free Easter to all the vegan families!

Rian’s 4th Birthday

I’m a bit late writing this blog post (Rian’s birthday was at the end of January!) but I wanted to share what we did (and what we ate) for Rian’s 4th birthday.  (I love birthday party blog posts almost as much as I love throwing vegan birthday parties!)

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I love planning all the food to make for parties, it’s an excuse to cook a lot of new things, which I love doing, and I get to eat lots of nice food myself, and show off how nice vegan food can be to all the omni guests!  Most importantly I get to treat my kids to nice food, especially a cake, and they can eat every single thing at the party.  It’s very important to me that the food is all vegan, because of course I don’t want to buy and prepare non-vegan food, but I also don’t want there to be anything that my kids can’t have.  And nobody is ever disappointed or goes home hungry (they at least will like the cake!).

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For this party I decided to try a few recipes from the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook, which I use a lot!  (It’s a vegetarian cookbook, not vegan, though most of the recipes are vegan or can easily be made vegan.)  The main dish was Caponata, which is a sweet and sour Sicilian aubergine stew, traditionally served at room temperature.  I had never tried it before, so was really excited to make it and it turned out delicious.  I’ll definitely make it again.

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I also made two types of houmous, roasted carrot houmous and beetroot and walnut houmous, and oven-dried tomatoes, which are some of my favourite dishes from the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook.

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I served it all with sliced up pitta bread, boiled baby potatoes, baby salad leaves and some crisps!

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Then of course I also made some sweet food!  I do like my kids to eat healthily most of the time but have no problem with them eating sweet food (and lots of chocolate) on special occasions!  As a vegan mother, I always feel like I can’t let them miss out on anything, and they definitely don’t miss out on having cake.

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Every year Rian asks for a chocolate cake, because he has this idea that people always have chocolate cake for their birthdays.  I’m totally fine with that because I love chocolate too, but have to come up with a different variation every year to make it a bit different.  He has had a Turkish delight cake before, an Oreo cake, and this year I decided to make a chocolate Bounty bar cake.  It was a chocolate cake with coconut icing and homemade vegan Bounty bars on top!  I based the cake recipe on a Ms Cupcake recipe.  (I always use the Ms Cupcake cookbook ‘The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town’ and highly recommend it!)  The cake was really yummy and the kids loved it.

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I also made vegan Jaffa Cakes because I hadn’t had them in a while.  They were also from a Ms Cupcake recipe.  I really love them.  Before I was vegan I used to love Jaffa Cakes and they were really the only thing I still missed, until I made them for myself.  They’re really easy to make, and really delicious!  The kids really liked them too.

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I also served some Foods of Athenry chocolate cookie shots, which are vegan too.  Yes, we had a lot of chocolate at this party!

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And we had some extra vegan Bounty bars too.  The Bounty bars are a recipe from The Happy Pear, and were delicious!

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The birthday boy was so happy with his cake, though he mostly ignored all the healthy food I made!  I don’t blame him though, and it was his birthday so I didn’t mind.

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I can’t believe he’s four now.  It seems so grown up!  It feels like he’s been here about five minutes, but also like I’ve known him forever and he’s my best friend (along with the other two).  He has changed my life and made me happier every day since he was born.  I was so glad to give him a fun party and see him this happy!

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I can’t wait for more vegan birthday parties every year, and to think of new ideas for how to serve chocolate cake every time!  And to have another amazing year with my amazing four year old.

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