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Plant-Based Diaries Week 1: Adventures in Breakfast Prep

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.

My toddler is devoted to vegetables. Here in Louisiana, Mae doesn’t have to toddle far to fall into heaps of fried oysters, butter-bathed crawfish tails, or smothered pork chops. Temptation is everywhere in the Bayou State for someone trying to eat a healthful diet, and she fares better than her food-writer mother in beating back the urge to indulge. For the sake of setting a good example for my family (and saving money, going down a pants-size, and finally, finally kicking this mild acne that’s plagued me since I was 12), I thought we all might take a closer look at plants.

Forks Over Knives asked me to document my adventures (and misadventures) in whole-food, plant-based cooking this month during the Fresh Start Challenge, which promises plenty of approachable, accommodating recipes for anyone looking to make a change. If a toddler and a woman who once ate a bowl of fried chicken and mashed potatoes followed almost immediately by a shrimp po’ boy can find satisfaction in this diet, can’t anyone?

As a good omen, my pantry already held some of the supplies needed to try out Fresh Start’s breakfast recipes: heirloom carrots to shred for Carrot Cake Overnight Oats, a bunch of bananas for Banana Pancakes, and plenty of baking essentials to feed my ongoing bread obsession.

Really, the only first-time buys were plant milk and egg replacer for the pancakes, a relief considering I often let my excitement about a new cooking project blow way past my intended budgetary constraints.

Egg replacer was a mystery, and though I quickly found it next to the flours at Whole Foods, I was happy to learn that aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) would do the same job with a much more mystical name. Almond milk, of course, sat adjacent to the actual dairy products. I opted for unsweetened. For anyone who’s ever serenely slurped the milk remaining from a bowl of cereal, you’ll be similarly nutty about almond milk.

I made substitutions here and there based on what I already had at home, seeing an opportunity to sell the relative cheapness of plant-based cooking to my husband, who cannot be called especially enthusiastic about this project. He eats healthier than I do 90 percent of the time. On the other hand, I’ve caught him scowling at tofu. A fan of the Mediterranean diet, he’ll sooner chug olive oil than almond milk.

My ingredient swaps were negligible and centered around the overnight oats, which seemed a bit of a playground already with various spices and add-ons. Instead of ground flaxseed, I used mashed banana. And I had a hefty bag of cashews on hand, so I didn’t see the need to stuff my cabinets even more with pumpkin seeds. The layered jar went into my fridge in the late afternoon for a long overnight, and I headed off to help photograph a big Southern wedding, the thought of dessert for breakfast with a side of banana pancakes powering me on.

Next up: The results of a carrot-topped refrigerated slumber party and 10 attempts to flip a perfect oil-free pancake.

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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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