-CAROL OF MOON-
By Carol Dzadony-Mancini
"In the next 30 years, the food we choose to eat will have an impact with profound ramifications for our planet.
Meat and dairy will take a greater toll on the world's resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables."
These are remarkable words from author Michael Pollan. He's The New York Times bestselling author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and many other interesting books about the sociocultural impact of food.
But damn if a great cheeseburger and milkshake don't sound good right about now.
Since the dawn of the internet, and with most people turning to TikToks from across the globe for great life hacks, globalization hits home rather easily.
Is anything regional anymore? Local? Homegrown?
I'm to blame, too. I revel in my TikToks or blog being viewed across the pond. I want to be a global TikTok phenomenon just like the next person.
I love the convenience of having ripe avocados at my fingertips. The concept of a jackfruit being seen at a local grocery chain would have been unheard of 15 years ago... yet, I can't seem to find a "ramp" (Allium tricoccom) in my grocery store. On the rare occasion I do, they cost upward of $24.99/pound. Ramps – native to the Appalachian Mountains, north into Canada, west into Missouri and Minnesota and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. Growing ramps are commonly found in groups in rich, moist deciduous forests, but hard pressed to find them in local grocery stores. Why?
Whatever happened to eating local? Farm to table?
I try the best I can to buy from local farm stands and markets. I make conscious decisions to purchase humanely raised (and subsequently slaughtered) meats from reputable sources. It's a bit more expensive, but I also try to make many things from scratch, as the less processed ingredients put in our bodies the better chance we have to keep them healthy and my pocketbook a little fuller.
Ever hear of the food carbon footprint? Basically, a carbon footprint measures the amount of energy it takes to raise, grow and process your food. Meat is on the high end, and vegetables are on the lower end. So, is eating a vegetarian diet better for the planet?
Scientifically speaking, yes, it is.
Not a new concept – eating vegetarian or even vegan – the stricter vegetarian, but it is finding its way into mainstream America by leaps and bounds.
A vegan diet involves eating only foods comprising plants. Those who follow this diet avoid all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. Some people also avoid eating honey. For some, being vegan is a dietary choice, while for others, it is a lifestyle choice.
Sometimes vegans make the choice from a healthier lifestyle standpoint. For others, it's a last resort due to allergies to certain foods.
Veganism has been shown to fuel highly competitive professional athletes even better than a meat-centric diet.
The documentary “The Game Changers” is a 2018 film about athletes who have plant-based diets. Experts in various fields weigh in on the subject and the film showcases success stories of athletes who have adopted such diets, highlights favorable scientific studies, and champions what the filmmakers argue are the benefits of plant-based diets for both athletes and non-athletes. It received generally positive reviews but was criticized by some nutrition, fitness, and science communication professionals for what they identified as scientific inaccuracies and perceived unbalanced support for strictly plant-based nutrition with several accusing the film of promoting misinformation and pseudoscience.
I forage for mushrooms, mostly chanterelles during the summer months. As I forage, I am sometimes startled by the scurrying of little chipmunks and squirrels. I imagine myself on one of those survival shows, like “Alone”, or “Naked and Afraid.” If I were hungry, could I kill a squirrel? Some grouse? A cow? A pig?
My answer? I'm not sure.
It's easy to pick out chicken thighs in the grocery store or grab a slab of bacon and not think twice about the animal that was slaughtered for that meat. Those Delmonico steaks with all their delicious marbling would eat perfectly medium rare cooked four minutes on each side and allowed to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. But do we know how the last minutes of that cow's life were before it ended?
Ever watch a bird get his neck wrung? I have. As a kid, my pap would kill the older pigeon he raised from hatchlings for his pigeon racing hobby with his brother (my great uncle) Arpy.
It's not a pleasant sight, by the way. However, it also didn't have a profound effect on me. I ate the pigeon soup Pap Rudy made with the recently decapitated bird. It was delicious. Perhaps because the last minutes of that pigeon's life were at home. And his end was quick and just.
Maybe that is the difference.
This by no way means saying I am going vegan. I enjoy cooking all types of food. I especially find triumph in cooking a steak to perfection. But what this does do is make me more conscious of how my food is raised, slaughtered and brought to market. Maybe I don't need that Delmonico steak. After all, colon cancer runs in my family and red meat has been medically linked to it. And I surely wouldn't be able to slaughter a cow or pig myself. If given that duty, I may go the route of kindness and stop eating meat altogether.
There is a difference.
And every act of kindness, ever so small, when multiplied by millions of people can change the world.
Why not start with just one vegan snack? That doesn't seem so hard. Perhaps this can change our kindness level or even our carbon footprint.
Until we are faced with survival of the fittest conditions like in the paleolithic age, we can make sound decisions for what's best for our personal journey.
And with this great recipe for vegan power balls, you'll have enough energy to save the world and Mother Earth!!
(Rant over; soap box returned to its upright and locked position)
Let's get cooking!!
Cooking Class with Carol Things to Consider
I had the recent pleasure of visiting Maine and came across this delectable snack I took with me before my hike in Acadia National Park.
Simple no bake vegan power balls chocked full of protein, whole foods, sweetness from natural ingredients and a bit of love for kindness. We all deserve some love now and again.
I kept the container for the ingredients list and came up with a version that I think most resembles that of my vegan ball finds in Bar Harbor, Maine.
All of the ingredients were purchased at the local grocery store. Co-ops around the area may have some of the ingredients at a less expensive cost so do some price searching before you invest in the ingredients.
I didn't process the rolled oats when I first developed my recipe, and the first batches were a bit too chewy for my taste. For this recipe, I did grind the oats to a finer consistency, and I feel the texture is spot on.
Please take this recipe and tweak it to your liking. Swap out peanut butter for sunflower butter or almond butter or add a tablespoon of vegan protein powder (chocolate or vanilla would work great with these flavors). Just remember to add a tablespoon (or maybe more) of water to adjust for the added protein. If not, the power balls may come out dry.
I even experimented with rolling a few in coconut for a nicer presentation.
Vegetarian Power Balls Recipe
2 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels, allergen-free if possible
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1/2 cup local honey**
1 cup favorite nut butter (peanut/sunflower/almond/cashew)***
1/3 cup cold water
Optional: One tablespoon vegan protein powder plus one tablespoon cold water
More unsweetened coconut for garnish, if desired
What to Do
1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add oats, flaxseed meal, chickpea flour and coconut. Process until all ingredients are finely chopped, about one minute.
2. Add maple syrup, nut butter, honey. Pulse to combine.
3. Slowly drizzle water from top until mixture comes together with a smooth consistency.
4. Add chocolate morsels and pulse 3-4 times to combine. Do not overprocess or the morsels will break down turning the mixture dark brown. Roll balls in coconut garnish if desired.
6. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour to chill.
7. Once chilled, place those balls in an air-tight container. They’ll stay fresh for up to one week.
**To make these treats into vegan delights, remove the honey.
***Nutella(sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread) would be amazing to substitute for the nut butter, but Nutella has skim milk powder in it, so it’s a no-go for vegans.
Carol Dzadony-Mancini is a former resident of Stowe Township and currently resides in Moon Township with her family. Her hobbies include riding horses, skiing, crocheting, hiking with her dogs, and of course cooking for the people she loves.