Plant-Based Diaries Week 1: Look, Ma—No Oil!

I’ll eat breakfast foods at any time of day but rarely manage to before 10 a.m. I’m not the type to sleep in—if I leave home with my hair wet, I dry out to look like Mozart’s rumpled sister—but often I use those valuable pre-work hours to soak in the tub, take my time with a book or article, and change outfits after my toddler hugs me with doting banana hands.

But mornings when there is time (these are usually referred to as “weekends”), I sure love to flip flapjacks. Readers the world over, please note that like biscuits, pudding, and chips, the British also define flapjacks differently than we Americans do—to them, a flapjack is a tray-baked oat bar. For the purposes of this blog, I am talking about a good old-fashioned pancake.

Or am I? This week, Forks Over Knives had me mashing bananas, using chickpea liquid instead of farm-fresh eggs, swapping out dairy for almond milk, and for some reason tossing sparkling water into the mix. These are not the same pancakes I watched bubble and brown on my grandmother’s griddle. But still I’m infatuated.

My biggest concern here was the lack of oil in both the batter and on the pan. I feared it would make clean-up difficult. “This is going to be really hard for you, I’m sorry,” I told my husband as the griddle heated up with no encouraging crackle.

Well, great news, Andy, there was barely a speck on the pan when I was done. Each disc of batter aerated and began to crisp immediately upon hitting the heated surface, thanks to that sparkling water. The real trick here, I learned after a pancake or two, is to wait for golden edges before you flip.

Did they taste like pancakes, those buttery, sweet circles of heaven? Actually, more than anything, these Banana Pancakes tasted like bananas. It’s the closest I’ve come to molecular gastronomy, which examines the chemical transformation of ingredients that occurs with cooking. I scattered my pancakes with fresh blueberries, the one fruit my daughter can’t seem to tolerate. She and my husband both enjoyed theirs with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

What’s there to be said about making Carrot Cake Overnight Oats? All the work was done ahead of time, with layers of dates, oats, shredded carrot, spices, nuts, and more mashed banana heading into the fridge the afternoon before. I just grabbed the jar from the fridge and spooned out our sweet second breakfast. I’d seen, touched, and chopped each element as a put in the jar but could never have imagined how richly they would all intertwine. Mae, my toddler, is less enamored of a medley of flavors than I am—she’s more of a one-ingredient-at-a-time kind of gal—but she managed a bite or two. We’re all broadening our horizons.

Editor’s Note: This month is the second annual Forks Over Knives Fresh Start Challenge, our free 21-day program for adopting a plant-based diet one meal at a time. Food writer Lucie Monk Carter is taking the challenge, and we’ve asked her to document her experiences with whole-food, plant-based cooking and eating in this series.

Looking for practical support on your whole-food, plant-based journey? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal-planning tool to keep you on a healthy plant-based path.

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about the author

Lucie Monk Carter

Lucie Monk Carter is a food writer and photographer based in South Louisiana. She enjoys a career of exploring how the things we eat inform the way we live. When not cooking or writing, Lucie can be found very ardently attempting to hit the notes as she sings all manner of songs to her young daughter. She also likes crosswords. You can find her on Instagram at @theluciewholunches.

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