Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 7

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Seven of the Seven Part series…

It’s great these days, because we get excited about food seasonally, it’s something to look forward to! When summer came, the first peaches were amazing, now that it’s fall, we’re enjoying autumn squash, including butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and acorn squash, food ingredients that we never cooked with before.

It’s hard to stay hyper focused on something long term. It’s stressful and tiring to stay focused on one life topic, day after day, meal by meal. Sometimes I think we did it the hard way, and other times I know this was how we needed to do it, for our family, to slowly change habits, try out different diets and ways of eating a plant based menu. I feel that with this choice to be simply a whole food plant based vegan, that we are finally on the right track for now, on the path of something healthy that we can maintain long term.

“Many times when people hear about the health transformations they jump right into the lifestyle without fully realizing the mental, emotional and lifestyle changes that are required to succeed long-term. Old unhealthful habits have to be replaced by new healthful ones. This is a very slow and painstaking process that requires conscious effort. You’ll still be living in a culture where destructive habits are encouraged and supported. It will seem sometimes like you’re the only one in the world who cares about living healthfully. On top of all that, you’ll have to have enough resolve and commitment to get through stages of healing that may include feelings of weakness, anxiety, lack of energy, and flu-like symptoms. The process of detoxification can be unpleasant at times. Ultimately, the benefits you reap WILL be equal with the effort you sow.”

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
1 cup old-fashioned oats (can be gluten-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe medium bananas, cut into chunks
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup of chocolate chips, vegan chips, or carob chips
1. In a blender, add chunks of banana and almond milk. Puree for 30 seconds or until thoroughly blended and smooth. Next add oats, baking powder, and salt into the blender; blend again until batter is well-combined about 1 minute. Set aside to thicken up. After a few minutes check the consistency of the pancake batter it should be somewhat thick. If they appear to too thick, add a tablespoon or two of almond milk and blend again.
2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with vegan cooking spray or vegan butter and heat over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet and gently spread out a bit with a spoon. Place 5-6 chocolate chips on top of each pancake and cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Gently flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more oil or cooking spray. Top with peanut butter, maple syrup, fruit or whole fruit jam.

Mexican Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4
1 TBSP garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie!)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
5 medium red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon oregano
pinch of cayenne or other red pepper
1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk or other non-dairy milk
salt, to taste
¾ cup low-sodium salsa
2 avocado, diced (optional)

Put all ingredients (except avocado) in a soup pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Top with diced avocado.

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