Life in Chile

Otherwise known as the skinny pepper country, or the land of some indiscernible dialect of I-think-that’s-Spanish, or World’s Best Example of Geographic Diversity… where I have taken up residence for the next four months.

One month has passed since I arrived in Santiago de Chile, and I feel like I’m finally starting to get adjusted to being here. I know where the nearest grocery store is, public transportation isn’t (as) terrifying, I found at least one vegetarian restaurant/coffee shop/clothing store that I can run to in a moment of need (hmm..weakness?), and I kind of, sort of know what’s going on in my classes. Bless my professors for recognizing me as a bewildered, helpless gringa and answering my questions after class. Also, I use Chilean catch phrases with regularity, tap water has finally lost its..unique..flavor, and best of all, El Oasis feels like a second home.

Walking down the street in Santiago regrettably does not feel safe and comfy cozy happy (don’t worry though, family, I’m doing fine). There are weird people everywhere, and there are definitely weird people here. But I know, no matter what’s going on, I can go to the ministry house and feel safe. I know people there. People that care about me, and about the other students that come to be fed – literally and spiritually – and loved. Boy, do they love. Their particular brand is still a mystery to me (how can they be so welcoming, so inclusive, so sincere, intense even?), but what a blessing to be a part of it!

Other beautiful development: friends. Making friends is hard. And that’s pretty much what I’m here for. Eek. (Okay, yes I should probably study too) But thank you Lord, I’m beginning to make connections. A museum trip, a lunch date at a vegetarian café, prayer over a physical condition… All unexpected but all loving proof that God wants specifically me here. That is, that I am best used by God when I am unafraid to be me. The best friendships are made that way, and I’m excited to see what God causes to blossom this semester.

If you’re keeping up with me and would like prayer requests…

  1. Please pray that I would continue to develop relationships with women at El Oasis and students that I meet at school, and that these relationships would go past surface level interactions.
  2. Pray that my stomach chills out. I’ve had nausea, cramping and overall sensitivity off and on since I arrived in Chile.
  3. Pray for my physical safety, and the safety/health of my ministry partner, Kelsey.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me – I ask that you continue, and I will be sure to update you all soon.

much love,

Lydia

 

Chocolate Almond and Kale “Cookies”

YumUniverse is a fantastic plant-based, gluten-free website with countless resources for transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle. Although Heather Crosby, the author of this site, posts recipes that are not always sugar-free, that doesn’t mean I can’t adapt! My version of these chocolate, almond, and kale “cookies” is sugar-free and delicious. They definitely have a strong kale flavor though, so you are fore-warned. Also, I didn’t think to do this, but I would probably add Stevia extract to make it slightly more sweet.

Ingredients:  

Chocolate Almond & Kale "Cookies" fresh out of the oven.
Chocolate almond & kale “cookies” fresh out of the oven.

To Fold In:

6 large leaves kale, ribs removed (I used green curly, but purple works well too)*
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/4 cup raw cashews, chopped
1/4 cup raw, shredded coconut

Dry:
1/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp mesquite powder
1 tbsp maca powder (optional)
1/2 cup almond flour or meal**
1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet:
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
2 tsp cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/2 cup warm water, 2 tbs unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp chia seeds

*I chopped my kale before I noticed “6 large leaves” so I guessed on the amount. If this happens to you, just mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then slowly add kale until the proportions look right.

**You can make almond meal by processing whole almonds very finely

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two small (or one large) cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix water, chia seeds, extracts, oil, and unsweetened applesauce. Set aside. Chop almonds and cashews. Set aside with shredded coconut. Wash kale, remove ribs, and chop as finely as possible. Sift together cocoa, mesquite, maca, almond meal, stevia (optional but recommended), and salt in a large bowl. Pour in wet mixture and fold in chopped kale. Then, fold in nuts and coconut and mix well. Press “dough” into rounds in your palm, flatten to about 1/2″, and place on cookie sheets. Make sure they are flat and tight so they don’t fall apart. (This is very messy; I recommend washing hands frequently to facilitate the process.) Bake 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 20-24

To see the original recipe, go to http://yumuniverse.com/chocolate-almond-kale-crunchers/

Brownies, Hot Tea, and a Snow Day

Snow too dry for snowmen, so we made snow angels instead
Snow Angel in the Quad

There are several things which are so appealing on a snow day that to not participate in them would be almost cruel. The first of these is, of course, to go out and play in the snow. The second is to make hot tea, grab a homemade brownie, and sit down to either watch several episodes of Dr. Who (my current fascination) or surf Pinterest for two hours. This morning I made a giant mug of Moroccan Mint tea with a splash of almond milk and 1/2 tsp maca powder. For those of you who don’t know, maca is a plant supplement that has caffeine-like effects. About ten minutes after I drank my tea yesterday, my mind felt very clear and awake. I will warn you though, maca has a very strong flavor and scent. It is best mixed into a drink, smoothie, or food item.

Even with all those lovely things to talk about, homemade almond cocoa brownies are the main reason for this post. My recipe has been adapted from Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen’s version. Lisa has a plethora of delicious and interesting vegetarian recipes. Also, since she specializes in Indian cooking and that’s my favorite type of food, you can imagine how much I visit her blog.

At first I thought the brownies tasted too almond-y, but they are definitely growing on me. You could also add bits of dried fruit to them. I made them in a regular size muffin pan, but I would definitely recommend using a mini muffin pan instead. Enjoy!

Homemade Vegan/GF/Sugar-free Brownie Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 cup almonds (I used 1 cup almond meal)
  • 1/4 heaping cup sunflower seeds (or hemp seeds)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/32 teaspoon pure, organic Stevia extract

Instructions:

  • Preheat an oven to 350°. Line or grease 9 mini muffin cups and dust with cocoa.
  • In a small bowl, combine the applesauce, vanilla, Stevia, and oil.
  • In a food processor, process the almonds, sunflower seeds, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt until you have a fairly smooth powder. Add the liquid ingredients and pulse for a few seconds until just combined.
  • Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the brownies sit in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Makes 9 brownies

To see the original recipe, go to http://foodandspice.blogspot.com/2013/12/cocoa-almond-brownie-bites.html