I’ll first post a pic, then click the link to see the rest of the rambling thoughts and the recipe of deliciousness! I don’t always like to get mopey about veganism, so please skip ahead to the recipe if you like! Sometimes one just needs to share what’s cracking when veganism intersects with life and other people.
Monday was the final day of the long weekend, and I nearly lost my mind from boredom, so I insisted on going out to have pizza or something with the in-laws. Luckily they were just as eager (it took less than a second for a resounding “yes!” to filter through the phone) and off we skedaddled. We discussed Man-thing’s birthday plans, since it’s creeping up on us, and I’m militant in forward planning. We’ve decided to go to Tswaing Crater for a hike on the day before his birthday, and then maybe just chill with a board game and cake on the actual day. When planning on what and how, the idea came up for us to provide the fellow hikers with sandwiches at the end, and being surrounded by carnivores the topic immediately became entrenched in wistful tones about meatball sandwiches and the like. I didn’t say too much but on Tuesday morning over coffee and my day planner I was nearly in tears when we discussed what the sandwiches would actually consist of, and how meat would be transported and stored. Man-thing initially suggested keeping it in other people’s homes, or buying disposable tupperware, but I couldn’t help myself – my eyes welled up and I nearly started crying in the university coffee shop. I didn’t do it on purpose, or as some scheming plot to frustrate Man-thing’s plans, because he is truly a wonder and keeps our home meat-free out of his own free will. It was just a knee-jerk reaction, probably borne out of watching way too many videos on youtube regarding animal cruelty. I can’t think of cow cheese or milk without getting flashbacks of scenes from Earthlings, or imagining the living creatures when I see meat on a plate. People always ask me why I watch these things if they upset me, or if I’m already vegan (because I never actually watched them as a meat-eater or vegetarian), but I don’t feel I can be ignorant of what’s happening around me, and it is truly gut-wrenching, heart-breaking to know and love people who consume animal products, because I love them but not necessarily their choices. They probably feel the same about me and my veganism!
Anyway, I suspect that Man-thing could see the impending waterworks (again, I felt like such an ass!) so he quickly assured me that we could use “green box stuff”/Fry’s vegetarian frozen goods instead of animal products, with then some tasty sauces, lettuce and chopped veggies to stuff inside some nice buns. I didn’t want to push my luck by offering to make falafel and what not, because I was so overcome by gratitude to not have to deal with the anxiety of animal products. Since I won’t have much to do, other than maybe marinating and frying up batches of coleslaw in some yummy stir-fry sauce for people to put on top of their burgers, I’ve decided to plan for some truly decadent cupcakes stuffed with melted chocolate or something equally obscene. Why I’m sharing all this is just to show that veganism isn’t perfect, simply because it doesn’t always fit in so nicely with everyone else’s idea of what is right or acceptable. It is essentially a fringe-lifestyle (although I hate that word), and for that reason I find that vegans need to accept their limitations (i.e. we’re going with green box stuff) whilst still not compromising on their values/boundaries. That’s why I don’t get upset with restaurants that don’t cater for me, but rather call ahead or email in advance to ask what plan can be made, so that no-one is uncomfortable. I also have to restrain myself from pointing out the “obvious”. When Man-thing and I go on our power walks we pass by a rooster and some chickens that gallivant up and down the road near us. They are probably someone’s pets but move from property to property, enjoying life and clucking about. Man-thing always squees and makes a fuss about how cute they are, but I can’t very well point out the direct correlation between that cute creature and his beloved chicken wings without coming across as preachy. Ah well! All the more reason to improve my cooking and baking to make veganism pleasant to others in my circle of family of friends!
Small but powerful moments like this really humble me and make me realize that people will generally treat you as human if you also don’t tread on their existence. I sent an email to a restaurant for Man-thing’s pre-birthday jaunt in a botanical garden and the lady was so nice and went into the details of what was vegan, apologising for the restrictions, and then thanking me for my thoughtfulness in not putting any staff on the spot! Not all people are so accommodating or nice, but that applies to anything outside food, really. I can only really be in control of myself, which is why one can be your own worst nightmare and rather unforgiving. I’ve been having a rather sucky week, doubting my work, my intelligence, and my health plan. When I get like that I usually binge to the gills, and this week was no different. I decided to be smart about it and make some healthy but chocolatey snacks to make a small dent in my morale, and these are truly worth it! Veggie-loaded, protein-packed and tasty to boot – thank the stars for natural sugars, not to mention Stevia!
I’ve finally been dabbling my toes into the wonderful NuNaturals pack I got a while back through the awesome Unrefined Vegan, Ann, and it’s just truly amazing how even a little drops of flavouring here or some sprinkles of Stevia there just completely transform a dish into something magical. I still need to play around with flavoured chocolate, but for the moment I am in my bliss with these products.
These brownies are based on the gluten-free black bean brownies by the Healthy Maven, who has some truly delicious treats splashed around her website – it makes it difficult to stop browsing and start baking when there’s just more and more to drool over, but I made it out alive! With brownies!
Spinach bean brownies (16 squares)
- 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1.5 packed cups of spinach, destemmed and washed thoroughly of critters
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (OR 1/4 cup non-dairy milk + 1/4 cup date-soaking water)
- 1/2 cup date paste (soak your dates in just enough water to cover for an hour then drain the water (or use it with the milk!) and blend til smooth)
- 2 flax eggs (2 TBSP ground flax powder mixed with 6 TBSP water and set aside for 5 minutes)
- 3 TBSP applesauce
- 1/2 cup carob powder
- 1/4 cup cacao
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- spices (cinnamon, ginger, etc)
- 1/3 cup carob nuggets, chopped into fine bits (or chocolate chips, but carob has an awesome taste)
- 1/2 tsp NuNaturals Pure Liquid Peppermint NuStevia (a few drops)
- Optional: 1/2 tsp NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla NuStevia
- 1 sachet Stevia
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Prepare your flax egg and set aside.
- In your food processor, blend the beans, spinach and milk/date water combo. If using normal spinach make sure to shred it a bit with your hands to make it easier to blend.
- Spoon your processed goods into a bowl, add the applesauce,date paste, flax eggs and give a good mix. Flax eggs are rather quick to harden so make sure you smush them down with the back of your spoon and work them in nicely.
- In another bowl combine your dry ingredients, including your stevia packet, add the wet ingredients into dry, careful not to overmix,
- Add your droppers of Liquid NuStevia and stir briefly.
- In your prepared 8″x8″ square pan, spoon your batter and smooth out the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then let it stand on your counter as is for another half an hour (I dug in immediately, much to my regret).
- Slice into 16 squares (or bigger!).
- These taste AWESOME fresh from the fridge, which is where I’ve hidden them. They should last a working week technically, but I’ve already munched my way through 3 😀