Guest Post! “Growing Up Green” by Jenna Atchison

Today I am handing the site over to the beautiful, talented, vegan goddess, Jenna Atchison.  Jenna is a killer photographer, vegan-cupcake-bakin’ queen, and mom to the cutest kids in the whole world.  Yah, I said it… in the whole world.

I met Jenna when I was working for a kids store in San Francisco.  She was 8 months preggo with baby Lyric, shopping the latest rockin’ threads for her two year old son Miles. One thing led to another and I was lucky enough to chill with this awesome family, known as Miles’ girlfriend, for the next four-ish months. But much too soon they leave SF to go back to their home on the east coast.  I had so much fun with these guys, and I must credit Miles with coining the term “My Joe” (there may have been a slight conflict when my two boyfriends finally met).  Despite being on opposite ends of the continent, Jenna and I have kept in touch and she remains one of those people I’ll always want to be like when I grow up.  I mean, seriously, how can you not be amazing when this is your life?

So, Jenna, Naked Baker’s vegan superstar… take it away!

“Growing up Green”
Veganism and the modern family

Like most new parents, when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby we were excited, and nervous. I immediately said good-bye to my skinny jeans, Starbucks double shots and date nights with dirty ‘tinis’. We reevaluated every facet of our life, ensuring that everything we did was conducive to a healthy pregnancy.

When we arrived at the doctors office for our second prenatal appointment, we were brimming with happiness, proud parents, resolute in the idea that we were doing things right. The doctor poked around and began running the gamut of questions, the same questions I’m sure he had asked others 40 million times before. Then, came the diet questions, “Are you eating farm-raised fish”, “No” I replied. “…What about your protein sources, are you consuming enough lean meat, fish, egg whites and poultry”, (again) “No”. The doctor looked up, lowered his glasses to reveal a flat eyed expression and said, “…Well, then, what ARE you eating”. Zoinks! I flashed back to being in middle school, sitting in the principal’s office; I had a sinking feeling that I was in trouble. I replied, whole grains, hemp bread with avocados, almond milk, flax seeds, legumes, broccoli, fruit and more. The doctor asked, “Are you (gasp!) VEGAN?” “Yes”, I replied (proudly). After his look of dismay and several ignorant comments later, we quickly realized that this doctor wasn’t right for us. Perhaps he wasn’t aware that pregnant vegan women commonly have a healthy advantage over their non-vegan sisters since a vegan diet is naturally high in vitamins and minerals needed for the developing baby. This was especially true for us; I had taken in more than enough of those necessary super greens, because 9 months – and 70lbs later – I delivered a beautiful, healthy 10-pound baby boy, Miles.

Flash-forward 3 years, we welcomed the birth of our second son, Lyric (9lbs 8oz). We are now a full-fledged modern, planet friendly, vegan family. When it comes to eating, we’ve adopted the ‘from scratch’ attitude. If we can’t make it from fresh ingredients, free of preservatives and refined sugars, we don’t eat it (well, 98% of the time, hey…I’m no superwoman). Don’t get me wrong there are days I stand in the kitchen slouched in front of the pantry door dreading the massive meal I’m about to prepare; and (ugh!) the mountain of dishes the meal produces, but I do it, 3 times a day. It is not easy – but it’s definitely worth it.

We truly enjoy cooking, and yes baking, with our boys. Friday night family fun night and homemade vegan pizzas have become a staple on our weekly calendar. Cookies, cupcakes, truffles, and even cereal can all be made with healthy vegan ingredients. Contrary to popular belief, a planet friendly diet can be healthy and delicious.

Veganism is often misunderstood, we were naturally concerned that other parents would ostracize us for our dietary choices, we would be marked the ‘different’ family especially at birthday parties and school events (yikes) – but we’ve found just the opposite. As a matter of fact, other families seem genuinely interested in our ‘special’ diet and often use some vegan substitutes in their own family meals. Come to think of it, every one of our cupcakes is eaten at parties and I’ve never seen anyone turn away an awesomely plump vegan truffle.

This lifestyle has worked well for our family. I’m not saying that the vegan way is the only way for a modern family; it’s simply an option. After all, as parents, we’re concerned about enrolling our children in the best schools, having the best health care and saving our planet, why wouldn’t we be equally concerned about establishing healthy eating habits for our children?

There are a ton of great vegan cookbooks; some of our favorites are “Vegan with a Vengeance”, “Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World” and “Veganomicon” all by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. So, I guess I’m saying anything written by Isa is the bomb.

Below is a recipe taken from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”.

Simple Vanilla (or chocolate) Agave Nectar Cupcakes

2/3 cup soy milk (I use almond)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup light agave nectar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners (or grease and flour, I find that works best) and preheat oven to 325F.
2. Mix the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl; allow to sit for a few minutes to curdle. Beat in agave, oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth. Fill liners two-thirds full. Bake 20 to 22 minutes until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean; don’t overbake or cupcakes will be dry.
3. These cupcakes need to cool at least an hour before topping or filling, and also develop the flavor and texture properly.

Chocolate Agave Cupcakes:
Decrease flour to 1 cup, and sift in 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use cacao powder) along with the dry ingredients. If desired add one or more of the following: 2 tablespoons espresso powder, 1 teaspoon chocolate extract, or teaspoon orange extract. Try using dark agave nectar in this chocolate variation!

And how can I have a cupcake loving photojournalist guest post without some of her awesome photos?  If these don’t kick your salivary glands into overtime, there’s something wrong with you.

To see more of Jenna’s work, check her out at

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 7:53 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You are much too kind! Thanks for the mad props.

  2. awesome blog! the vegan lifestyle is a great alternative and its nice to know there a psuedo-sinful dishes such as these delectable cupcakes. viva la vegan!

  3. What a great post! Love me some Jenna! 🙂 She has most definitely opened up my foodie world just a bit more! I must try this cupcake recipe.

    Can’t wait to check out the rest of your blog!

  4. Great post Jenna you are an inspiration 🙂 can’t wait to try the recipe

  5. omg those cupcakes look sooo delish! you take some great photos jenna!

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