Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Oat Pancakes

Repeat after me, “I am a pancake addict.” Time to enter a 12 step program? No way! You can have pancakes AND abs (Really, you can!) The key is to make homemade pancakes from scratch, not a box of that just-add-water nonsense. I make pancakes several times a week (breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert- any time is a good time for pancakes) and it only takes a few minutes to whip up a homemade batter. I have a handful of go-to pancake recipes but I always make them my own (and healthier) by changing up, adding, and subtracting a few ingredients. This recipe in particular I tried for the first time yesterday and it was really a “What will happen if I throw this in there and leave this out” kind of thing, and my 2 year old daughter and I loved them so much we made them for lunch again today! *And the mom of the year award goes to….* haha

All out of sugar and syrup? No problem! These pancakes are so full of flavor you don’t need any added sweetness.

pancake

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Oat Pancakes:

*1 ripe banana

*1/4 cup pumpkin puree

*1t baking powder

*1/2t ground cinnamon

*1 flax egg (1T ground flaxseed meal, 3T water)

*pinch salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)

*1/2t vanilla extract

*1T oil (canola, coconut, whatever kind you have on hand!)

*4T soy milk (or almond/coconut/flax/rice)

*1/2 cup oats

*1/4 cup flour (unbleached- no one wants to eat bleach)

*3T semi-sweet chocolate chips (vegan)

Instructions:

  1. Make flax egg, let sit in fridge for 5 minutes.
  2. Mash banana.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Mix.
  5. Spray warmed griddle with oil.
  6. Drop pancake batter on griddle.
  7. Flip once edges start bubbling.

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Vegan Curry Tofu

I fell in love with Indian food the first time I tried it in high school. I think the first thing I tried was called Chicken Malai, which became my regular order until 11th grade when I became a vegetarian. Then I switched to Paneer Akbari, which is essentially the same thing (both are covered in a tomato curry sauce) but paneer is cubes of house-made cheese to take the place of chicken. This year I finally went vegan so I have been experimenting with vegan options. I have found some great vegan take-out options, but ordering out all the time can get pretty expensive! I wanted to be able to make something similar at home, so I turned to tofu. I know, I know, everyone hates tofu. I have been a vegetarian for 8 years and I am JUST starting to come around to tofu. Trust me, there are good ways to make it, you just have to learn your way around it! Tofu is high in protein, low in fat, and just all around good for you; plus it is super versatile as it takes on the flavor of whatever you put it in. This is one of my favorite tofu recipes so far (which is best to start preparing the night before):

Vegan Curry Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package firm tofu
  • 1 Jar curry sauce (see directions)
  • 1t Olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
  • water (per package directions for rice)
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas (optional)

1) Drain tofu, place between 2 towels (or paper towels) and press excess fluid out. If you have time allow tofu to rest between towels in the fridge for a few hours to allow water to drain out. If not, just press as much water out as you can.

2) Cube tofu into bite-sized pieces.

curry

3) Pour some of your favorite curry sauce into a container, put the tofu in the container, and top with more sauce. I have used several different kinds of sauce (just check the Indian section of Wegmans). In my cabinet right now is Patak’s Rogan Josh Curry (see above) which is a medium tomato curry sauce; I prefer red curry, but you could use a yellow curry if you prefer. Let the tofu marinate for at least 6-12 hours in the fridge (the longer it marinates the more flavor it will absorb!)

4) When you are ready to eat pull the tofu out of the fridge. Cook rice according to package directions, adding peas to the pan before cooking. I use a rice cooker which makes it super simple; I measure 1 1/3 cup rice and then fill it with water to the 2-servings line, throw in the peas, cover it, and let it cook.

5) Add olive oil to a frying pan or wok. Add the tofu and sauce to the pan. Cook tofu, stirring occasionally, until it is hot in the middle (about 5 minutes).

6) Serve tofu over brown rice.

From Divorce to Dating

The hardest part about getting divorced isn’t missing the person you were married to. You may be happy to finally be away from the person with whom you weren’t compatible and out of a toxic relationship. You may be happy to have a second chance at finding the right person for you. What you miss is the guarantees, the small comfort of knowing what comes next and who will be there. The little things like knowing on Sunday you will wake up, get dressed, pick up some doughnuts, and watch HGTV for 4 hours like you do every Sunday, or knowing that every single night when you get home from work there will be dinner ready and someone to share it with. You never have to worry about going to bed alone or needing to find the perfect body pillow because you have someone there with you 7 nights a week, who counts on you hitting the pillows at the same time they do. Many people believe that dating is better than marriage because it’s still fresh and exciting, but it’s also scary and uncertain. Marriage means someone has committed to spending 7 nights a week with you for the rest of your life, and to share the boring nights on the couch with cookies and sitcoms. Married couples should try to keep the spark and excitement alive. You should keep dating the person you love for the rest of your life and constantly remind them how much you care. Whether you have been together for a month or a decade the little surprises like flowers, chocolate, dinners, and phone calls should remain an essential part of your routine. However, you should never take for granted the little moments that seem boring, because it’s the boring stuff you miss the most in the end.💜

The Marriage Lease

Today my husband and I came up with an interesting concept:

What if marriage was like a lease that you had to renew annually?

Some people renew their vows as a way of showing that they still have the love for one another that they had when they first decided to wed, and that they still promise to spend their life together.  What if this was a mandatory exercise every year for all marriages?  Like a lease on an apartment, if after the year you spent together you decide you would like to move on, then you would simply not renew your vows.  This would save couples from having to go through the process of divorce, which would take away a lot of tension from impending breakups.  On the other hand, it would be a way for couples that are still madly in love to renew their promises and think of how wonderful their life is together.

I think the only people who would strongly fight this becoming law are the divorce lawyers, because clearly they would be out of a job!

Distractions

As I opened my phone and looked at my wallpaper I realized something: every time I look at my phone my thoughts are directed towards the image I see.  In the middle of studying my biology notes, I look at my phone with the intention of simply checking the time, and inadvertantly change my course of thought.  This led me to the thought that perhaps every decoration around us distracts us.  For example, posters of musicians and pieces of art around one’s home no doubt leads one to at least momentarily stray from their original thought.  Personally I cannot look at my roommate’s Lil Wayne poster without grimacing in disgust over today’s declining culture and society.  Perhaps this is why libraries and classrooms tend to lack decoration and stimulants; they want us to focus on our task at hand.  In elementary school, classrooms are full of stimulating colorful posters and decorations, and then freshman year of highschool the world seems gray with only diagrams pertaining to the class’s subject lining the walls.  I suppose there could be people out there with better attention spans than I (I am very easily distracted by my surroundings and prefer to work alone in an empty, silent room); however, I find it a logical theory that one can achieve much deeper thought on one subject if there is nothing and no one around to force one’s mind to stray.  Of course, who wants to live in an un-decorated and colorless world?

Nostalgia

There’s really nothing more comforting than looking through old photo albums, watching home videos, and just thinking about past memories.  We all go through the familiar feeling of nostalgia at least once in our life (personally I feel nostalgic at least once a day!)  Whether you miss high school, college, old friends/ relationships, or even your first car, it always gives you a warm feeling to close your eyes and go back to those days.  One interesting part of nostalgia is that you rarely remember any negatives from the past; it’s as if the past is our heaven because it’s only what we want to remember it as.  I’ll never forget all the times my dad said to me growing up, “You’ll look back and miss these days,” & “You think this is bad, it only gets worse as you get older!”  Of course, I would never listen.  I hated high school and thought every lost friend and relationship was the worst thing that could ever happen, and yet I look back and say, he was right after all.  I find myself constantly saying the same things to my little brother every time he complains about school or gets upset over something I know (but he refuses to believe) is silly and unimportant.  Nostalgia always hits me hardest when I’m listening to music I used to love and have forgotten about over time, and when I’m looking through old pictures from high school dances and family parties.  Even though I know that back then I thought my life was boring and I couldn’t wait to grow up, I’d give the world to re-live it all over again.  So go ahead, take out your old scrapbooks & yearbooks & throw on a Backstreet Boys cd and live in the past!  Sometimes it’s nice to remember how you got where you are now.

It’s A Barbie World

One thing that bothers me is the need to be fake.  Whenever I see a person covered in heavy makeup, or people that spray tan, or hear about someone who gets cosmetic surgery I can’t help but wonder, “What are you so ashamed of?”  I can understand on some level the need to fit in and be perfect, especially during one’s younger years (such as the ever-so-brutal highschool years).  I’m sure the vast majority of us has tried to change something about our appearance to be just like someone we wish we were.  For instance, a not-so-girly-girl forcing herself to wear high heels because all of the magazines say it’s the thing to do.  I can even admit to repeatedly bleaching my brown hair, and despising when my impossible-to-cover natural red highlights made it look ridiculous.  Growing up I always felt the nagging urge to layer what seemed like pounds of coverup on my face to hide my freckles.  Now that I’m older, I look back on those times and just laugh at myself.  I finally embrace my glow-in-the-dark pale skin and gave up frying myself in a tanning booth for $20 a week; I could never imagine pouring toxic chemicals into my hair to pretend to be a blonde; & as for my freckles, I have become completely comfortable with the fact that I will always have that 5 year old “cute” look that made old ladies pinch my cheeks.  So why is it that grown adults feel the need to constantly change themselves and hide their true beauty?  When Ashlee Simpson got a nose job and bleached her hair to look like her sister she went from beautiful to plastic.  If you were born with brown eyes, then learn to love them; don’t get bright blue contacts!  We were all born the way we were for a reason; we reflect the rich culture within our backgrounds and hold the physical traits of our parents and siblings.  I love nothing more than to walk into a grocery store and have a complete strange walk up and ask, “Are you a Salgot?”  Yeah, I look just like my dad, and I’m proud of it.  I am who I am, and you can count on me to not go spend thousands of dollars to morph into someone else.