Red, orange, yellow and brown leaves light up like fire across my yard, and down our street. It's Fall, and the planet is glowing where I live. Each day, I'm reveling in the beauty of the season. This world is unbelievably gorgeous and wonderment abounds. I pause, shift my gaze and feel a joy bubbling; building to elation. Elation to the point of almost being overwhelmed by a emotional response and a moment in which I feel like I will burst with the sheer power of it! All from enjoying what I see, hear, smell, feel and experience in the world outside.
Sustainability Spotlight: When was the last time you took a deep breath, and just enjoyed nature? Really think about it. It might have been a moment as simple as turning your face to the sun when you walked to your car and absorbed the warmth and the light through your closed eyelids. Perhaps is was a moment passing by a vibrant green lawn and deeply inhaling the scent of fresh cut grass. How about putting your hand out to the first drops of rain and feeling the cold wet pelts on your fingertips? Maybe it was hearing an owl calling in the dusk as a portend of the coming hunt ahead as he began is "day" and you started to close out your own.
Wonderment is evident all around. I contend that the best thing in this life for your contentment are simply interacting with nature. Some call it "Forest Bathing," others call it simply "eco-psychology." In all aspects, there is no doubt that there are immense benefits from interacting with nature. The American Psychology Association (APA) notes that "...exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation." You don't have to take a hike or go on vacation to enjoy these benefits.
In fact, in a meta analysis conducted by the University of Derby in England, it was found that people who feel more connected to nature have greater "contentment." Something that went beyond just feeling good but also included having meaningful purpose in life (Journal of Happiness Studies, online first publication, 2019). This "connectedness" can be through any or all of your senses and does not have to follow specific guides for time or location. It's transcendent of time or space; it simply "is" for many people. A cognizant effort to "stop and smell the roses" so to speak.
A vegan lifestyle can be a part of the aspects and actions for enjoying nature. Through use of vibrant ingredients fresh from the garden or recently plucked from a fruit tree. Smelling herbs and aromatic spices harvested from the ground as you chop and mince, and being thankful for our world and its bounty. Avoiding the use of animal ingredients to better the planet, and support all life on Earth (not just my own). All of those things help keep me grounded in nature in my kitchen and beyond.
As I look around, and see the glitter of light on my wall from leaves tossing in the breeze outside, I am connecting with nature. And, later, when I take my dogs for a stroll, I'll see their contentment in sniffing the air, trotting with barely contained enjoyment, looking, listening and feeling their place in nature. I'll be like them, I hope, present and reveling in the season; walking the walk of sustainability in all things.
Will you take that "walk" with me?
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar (not packed)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 tsp Chai Spice Mix from my Maple-Chai Roasted Pecans
1 tbsp vanilla paste
1/3 cup Just Egg
1/2 cup vegan butter (melted)
1/4 cup plain plant-based creamer (I used Nut Pods Original found usually in coffee aisles near self-stable creamers)
Optional but recommended:
1/4 cup chopped Maple-Chai Roasted Pecans
1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate bar (I used Ghirardelli 70% baking bar - 4 squares)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F. Line a 9x9 inch square pan with parchment paper; spray with cooking spray.
Whisk together all dry ingredients (flour through chai spice) in a medium bowl
Whisk together all wet ingredients (vanilla paste through plant-based creamer)
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix till just moist (batter will be thick, like brownie batter)
Fold in chocolate and pecans (if using)
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly to edges
Slide pan into oven and bake for ~55-60 minutes (check at 50 min) until toothpick (hopefully reusable) inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack completely, cut into squares & serve
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie