Vegan foods have entered the mainstream.
A recent trend article suggests that “vegan foods” are growing in popularity. The number of self-identified vegans is hovering at 7%, which is up from previous surveys. But the big deal is that 36% of consumers now report buying non-dairy milks, meat alternatives and vegan food. They are not labeling themselves as vegan, but they are eating more plant based.
This is exactly what I was hoping for when I wrote my book, Big Vegan. I was going for the nudge toward eating more plants, to get the millions of people who aren’t ready for a full commitment to start easing in. I know that dedicated vegans will always prefer a 100% commitment. But in the big picture, I believe that every time an omnivore starts eating even a little bit more plant based, that is a win. A win for the environment, for health, for the animals.
When you start talking about 36% of the American public, which numbered about 320 million in 2014, those are many small actions that add up to big change. When a million people opt out of a burger for a bean burrito, you are talking about 250,000 pounds of beef not being consumed. A million quarts of almond or soy or other non-dairy milk replaces 250,000 gallons of cow’s milk.
So hurray to the omnivores who are buying vegan products. When an analyst like the one in the article talks this up at an industry expo, manufacturers take notice. That will mean many new and improved vegan products on the shelves. Vegans can enjoy more variety in their food choices, and everybody else can just enjoy the food for what it is.
So in the spirit of mainstreaming the plant based, I made some breakfast cookies. To answer the perennial question of “where do you get your protein?” I added some clean hemp protein. Chia seeds add a little, and raisins give you some fruity energy.
I like to pack these in individual waxed paper sandwich bags, put them in a big zip-top bag, and freeze them. Then I can grab one on the way to the gym, or out the door to teach a class.
Far better to eat a homemade cookie, speckled with chia seeds and sweetened with low-glycemic index grain syrups, than to buy an energy bar.
Whether you are vegan or just looking for a chewy, sustaining breakfast, this cookie will make you happy.
Almond Butter Breakfast Cookies
If you opt for the coconut oil, you may find the cookies a little crumbly. Be sure to cool completely before removing them from the rack. Keep them in the refrigerator until time to go.
1/2 cup chunky almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted, or canola oil
1/2 cup oat or brown rice syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
Line a sheet pan with parchment and reserve. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter, coconut oil, syrup and extract, and whisk to mix well. Stir the flax and water in a cup and let stand while you mix the dry ingredients, then stir into the almond butter mixture. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, oats, chia, hemp powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the almond butter mixture. Mix in the raisins.
The dough will start to thicken as it stands, so scoop the cookies in 1/4 cup portions onto the prepared pan right away. Leave 2 inches of space between the dough portions. Flatten slightly with your palms, to about 3/4 inch thick.
Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom rack, then switch to the top rack, rotating the pan, and bake for 12 minutes more. The cookies will be lightly golden and puffed.
Cool on pans on rack for 5 minutes before carefully transferring the cookies to the rack to cool. Cool completely before moving.
Store in airtight containers for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to 3 months.