All was going well in this birthday challenge of mine. “This month of no meat, dairy, or refined sugar is going to be a cinch!” I proudly told myself. Until we went to dinner at the Sojourner Cafe over the weekend. Surrounded by menu choices filled with ingredients that we couldn’t eat (like cheese), but sounded really good, was very hard! Granted they had plenty of vegan options, and we did have a nice meal (their gingered tofu wonton pillows are hard to beat). But the experience deflated my enthusiasm a bit, and put me into a mindset of limitations where I didn’t want to be.
In the interest of trying to get out of that mindset, I decided to make a few recipes from The 30 Minute Vegan cookbook that I picked up at the library. First I made vegan mac and cheese, which used nutritional yeast and soy milk to make a thick sauce to mix in with macaroni and some sauteed vegetables. Matt was hesitant, but ate a few servings. And I thought it tasted even better heated up the next day for lunch!
The big hit, though, was a peanut butter cookie recipe. A thick dough of peanut butter, maple syrup, spelt flour, and oats baked into a cloud of peanut butter goodness, floating us right out of our funk.
I think the key to any change is focusing on the positives, and not looking at it through a lens of limitations. If I ran a 50k focused on all the negative aspects of my training – I would never make it. The point of this birthday challenge is to kickstart habits that will last far beyond January. And let’s face it – this household is going to be eating desserts in the future. So while maple syrup is definitely a sugar, I would consider if far superior to your typical refined cane sugar, so I’m not going to sweat it.
Peanut Butter Balls
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (recipe calls for 3/4 but 1/2 was enough sweetness for me)
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole spelt flour (I bet all purpose would be just fine)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c chocolate chips (options – I didn’t use any)
Preheat the oven to 350. Whisk together the peanut butter, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla in a bowl. Add the flour, baking soda, and oats, and stir well.
Use a nonstick cookie sheet or lightly oiled sheet. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out batter, forming a ball. Leave about 1-2 inches in between. Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine were more like 20 min because I had bigger scoops), until they are starting to brown on the bottom.