My fiance may not be my soul mate yet.. but he will be.

A few weeks ago, with only four months to go until my own wedding, I came across My husband is not my soul mate over on The Art in Life.  My fiance may not be my soul mate yet.. but he will be.

Sand hearts

The traditional concept of soul mates has always seemed wrong to me.  I do not subscribe to the idea that there is one perfect person out there for me that will somehow ‘complete me’. I think so many marriages struggle because one or both parties expect their partner to fill a gap in their lives that no mere human can ever fill.

I do not believe that my wonderful fiance is the only man out of the 3.5 billion or so on this earth that I could have fallen in love with.  We are not where we are today because we were soul mates — timing, luck, mutual attraction, and a commitment to growing our relationship let us fall in love and build a life together.  As our marriage grows and prospers, it will not be because we are soul mates and all our problems are therefore irrelevant.  True love takes a lifetime of hard work.

If you glue two thin pieces of paper together and pull them apart right away, both papers are still intact. 

If the glue is partially dried, the papers will have some damage when pulled apart but are still separate papers. 

Once the glue is dried, however, you can never again have two separate papers. 

A lifetime of love gluing us together is what will make us soul mates.  Our glue has already started to dry, and even now, separating us would damage us both.  A lifetime of shared experiences of joys intensified and sorrows made easier to bear by one another fuses two hearts and souls together to become soul mates in the purest and most wonderful sense of the term.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

KJV, Mark 10:9

 

What do you think?  Is your spouse your soul mate?

 

The Top 5 Vegan Cookbooks for New Vegans

Vegan cooking suffers from an image problem.  There are some amazing vegan cookbooks out there, but there are also too many cookbooks that require 27 hard-to-find, expensive ingredients per recipe or feature yet another flavorless veggie patty idea.  An Amazon search for “vegan cookbook” gives you a cool 2,832 options vying for your hard-earned money (I, on the other hand, make no money off you purchasing any of the below).  Here are the Top 5 Vegan Cookbooks that won’t be collecting dust on the shelf:

Vegan Cookbooks

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet - Alicia Silverstone

Pros: Healthy, delicious recipes, clear directions, a wealth of information about making the transition to veganism

Cons: Some of these recipes do require a special trip to the store until your shopping habits catch up to your new lifestyle

Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. - Lindsay S. Nixon

Pros: You actually have these ingredients in your pantry (ketchup, oats, beans, etc.), Recipes are quick and easy, Great for budget cooking

Cons: Some of the desserts are too high in sugar

Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook: Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your BodKim Barnouin

Pros: This is the cookbook that should have followed up the original Skinny Bitch  (let’s all forget the over-processed horror that was Skinny Bitch in the Kitch) – beautiful photography, unique but still easy to follow recipes, lots of information about the vegan lifestyle

Cons: These are not 5 minute recipes – be prepared to actually spend time in your kitchen

The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein

Pros: Healthy Mediterranean style recipes that don’t rely on meat substitutes

Cons: No pictures.  Recipes are geared at experienced cooks.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero, Rebecca Bent and Sara Quin

Pros:  Delicious treats. Many varieties for varying skill levels.

Cons: Remember, vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  These are still cupcakes.

 

What cookbooks do you recommend for new vegans? Are there any that you would recommend new vegans not buy? Leave a comment below!

Hot Fudge Brownie Pudding Cake

Delicious chocolately goodness that makes an amazing dessert for company and an even more amazing breakfast treat.

Hot Fudge Brownie Pudding Cake

Please excuse the horrible photography/lighting. The deliciousness was getting cold.

 

Hot Fudge Brownie Pudding Cake

1 c. flour (white whole wheat)

3/4 c. organic sugar or evaporated cane juice

2 T. cocoa

2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk

1 t. vanilla extract

2 T. olive oil

3/4 c. chopped walnuts (chopped fresh)

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. cocoa

1.75 c. boiling water

Mix first 8 ingredients and spread in greased 8×8 pan.  Combine walnuts, brown sugar, and cocoa in separate bowl.  Add boiling water to nut mixture and mix well.  Pour over batter in pan.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Do not overbake or you will lose the pudding part and be left with a mere chocolate cake/brownie.  Serve warm.

Trail Mix for Grownups

Cape Cod National Seashore

One of my favorite trails at the Cape Cod National Seashore

Ah, trail mix.  As a girl (and girl scout) I loved grabbing handfuls of that peanut-y, M&M filled goodness after running around outside.  Then, sadly, I grew to realize that many “healthy” trail mixes are worse than candy.  Sure, we all know M&M’s aren’t good for us, but the oil-roasted peanuts and “yogurt” covered raisins are just as bad.  Luckily, this quick mix below is a much healthier and even more delicious version.  Omit the chocolate if you will be outside in the heat for too long.

Grownup Trail Mix

1/2 c. raw walnuts

1/2 c. raw pecan halves

1/2 c. raw almonds

1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts

1/3 c. dried cherries

1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate bits

Put in glasslock or other lidded container and shake to mix.  Add twisting and shaking dance moves for optimal mixing.  Portion out in 1/4 c. servings.

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Hubby loves Brussels sprouts.  I love him anyway.

This simple, pop-it-in-the-oven-and-walk-away recipe turns the dreaded sprout into a flavorful side dish.  And who doesn’t feel a little virtuous and grown up when voluntarily making Brussels sprouts for dinner?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1-2 T. EVOO

sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Wash and dry Brussels sprouts and remove any sad-looking outer leaves.  Toss with olive oil to coat and spread on ungreased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Bake at 400 about 35 min.  Shake tray midway through to “flip” sprouts and cook evenly.  Serve warm.

Old-fashioned Whole Wheat Biscuits

While my last recipe centered around chocolate as the primary food group, I do in fact eat other foods.  Occasionally.

These old-fashioned biscuits are delicious with gravy at dinner or with apple butter for an on-the-go breakfast and are much healthier than the ones with lard that Grandma used to make ya.

1 c. white whole wheat flour

1 c. organic unbleached all-purpose flour

1 T. aluminum free baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)

1/2 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use almond)

Preheat oven to 450. Mix dry ingredients.  Add EVOO slowly until mixture is crumbly.  Repeat with non-dairy milk.  Gather into ball.  Knead well.  Roll out 1/2 inch thick between sheets of wax paper (no need to flour the rolling pin or surface this way!).  Cut out biscuits with biscuit ring or drinking glass rim.  Recipe makes 10 biscuits.  Bake @ 450 for 10-12 minutes on baking sheet (as you would cookies).  Bottoms should be golden brown.  Serve warm topped with whatever tickles your fancy.

Double Chocolate Vegan Pancakes

Double Chocolate Pancakes

Sometimes mere chocolate chip pancakes just don’t cut it.  Sometimes you need to break out the big guns, like these amazingly chocolately can’t-believe-it’s-vegan pancakes.  Quick, easy, and delicious.  What more do you want from a breakfast food?  Serves 2 (or 4 people with way more self-control than I have on Saturday mornings).

Ingredients:

1.5 c. unbleached flour

3.5 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 T. sugar (only if using unsweetened almond milk)

1.25 c. vanilla or plain almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)

1 oz. baking chocolate, melted

1 T. cocoa

1 t. vanilla extract

Vegan chocolates chips

2 T. Earth Balance margarine, melted

+ Earth Balance to grease skillet

Recipe:

Sift (or stir well) together dry ingredients.  Stir in melted chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, non-dairy milk, and melted non-dairy butter.  Mix until smooth.  Heat skillet (cast iron is best) over medium heat.  Grease. Add 1/4 c. batter per pancake to skillet.  Top with chocolate chips.  Flip.  Remove when fluffy and cooked through.  Serve with warm maple syrup.

Make appropriate “mmm” sounds while eating (optional but highly recommended).