Prime Day Approaches

Hello and forgive me for a brief tangent from my usual content.  I don’t intend to turn our little blog into a glorified advertising platform, though I will on occasion plug a product, service, webpage, youTube channel, etc. that the Plant Powered Gamers find awesome.  One of these magical “services” is the online shopping platform, Amazon.  You may have heard of them… In any case, we love our time at home and tend toward avoiding unnecessary trips to town and that makes shopping with Amazon a pretty straightforward slam dunk.  We tried out Prime a few years ago and have never really considered dropping it since.  They bundle so much value in to that membership fee that it would be silly for us to drop it.

Free Movies?  Got it.  Cheap movie/tv rentals?  Got that too.  Weird, hard-to-find baking ingredients?  I’m looking at you, Teff Flour.  They have that as well.  More rare and used video games than the local flea market?  Yep, though you’ll have to do without that special, authentic flea market smell of roasting pork rinds and fried butter sticks.  Fast, free shipping on virtually every order that is labelled as “Prime” (which is most of the time in our experience)?  You betcha.  If you happen to shop at Whole Foods they offer an in-store discount to boot.  Sweet.  Cheap rice, beans and greens all around!

So their deal during the first half of July (2-17) is that you can get a free 30-day Trial of Prime, just check out the link below.  Plus a bit of commission change goes to the Plant Powered Gamers as a bonus!  It’s like getting a 1-up Mushroom you get to share with Player-2.

Prime Day – Prime Membership

So here we are, several years into being Prime members and I am still finding bonus stuff they are offering to throw our way.  Today as we were streaming on Twitch – basically youTube for gaming videos – Grant and I noticed someone had a Twitch Prime membership.  Curious as to what this was we checked into it and found it was a free bonus included in our Prime membership anyway.  They offer free games every day, far more than any normal mortal could play through.  I simply linked my Twitch account to the Prime one and I totally get to download and keep them.  The games are tied into your Twitch account, but there is no need to actually use Twitch to watch streaming if that is not your thing.  It basically seems to be set up like Steam but with less emphasis on selling games and more emphasis on you watching people play them.  We actually use it mostly to meet up with other gamers to play multiplayer games at the moment (Ultimate Chicken Horse, anyone?) What’s more, Grant totally gets a free entry in this as well and can download the same games they offer me.  Even if you value these as “cast off” or “mobile-equivalent” $1 games, which many are not, if you take them up on their offer that would be a pretty sick value for the cost of the membership that is already giving you free movies and fast shipping.  Yikes!  You can check the next link to see what is up with this whole Twitch Prime thing:

Prime Day – Twitch Prime

Now they are offering a load of other goodies that we are not familiar with, and one might want to look into those as well.  As we here at Plant Powered Gamers have no experience with the other services offered I don’t really feel right promoting them, but don’t let our inexperience deter you if they catch your interest.  Prime Student, Pantry and Free Time all sound like they could be quite awesome, we just haven’t had the need nor opportunity as of yet to try them out.

One last note on that free trial above.  It lasts a month and they are hosting “Prime Day” on the 17th, officially.  It will be a day chock-full of silly online deals for many things you likely don’t need but may want anyway.  If you are capable of utilizing a bit of self control I encourage you to give that free trial a go and land the 16th of July right in its midst to see what it is all about.

Again, thanks for indulging my moment of deal promotion and another thanks if you actually check into these through our links to Amazon.  I wouldn’t bother to promote the service if it was anything less than spectacular.  It really is something we use pretty much every week to save time and as mentioned, bonus entertainment is the icing on that digital cake.

The Plant Powered Gamers are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Mid-summer Musings

July has already made its way to us, or perhaps we to it.  Mid-summer in the southeast really encourages one to take an occasional lazy day, or at least midday, in order to avoid the ridiculous heat and humidity.  This coupled with lots of time doing rather brain-free tasks in the yard of late has left us with plenty of time to ponder plans for the coming year.

Grant is fully in summer mode, loving the freedom and questioning why that sort of freedom ever has to end.  I realized that there was honestly no good answer to that question.  This left us once again returning to the discussion on trying homeschooling.  I have wanted to homeschool Grant since he was born.  I admit it may be more appealing in my imagination than the reality, but I love trying new things, new approaches and time with him is never a waste in any case so it’s hard to imagine how this couldn’t be a fun and exciting experience.  Grant is a straight-A student, having made it now though to the 6th grade and has never made less than 90% marks on his grade reports, so I know that it isn’t the case that he is just being lazy.  When a solid and productive student like that can be so incredibly dissatisfied with what they are doing and the things they are learning it just sets warning bells off for me.

Thankfully there are more resources on homeschooling than I could use in a lifetime, so I am in no fear of running out of methods, plans and ideas.  Currently we are leaning towards the “unschooling” or “Sudbury” methods.  I believe he has some pretty solid interests in science and technology and that will lead us into the other necessary subjects as they become needed.  He also quite the fan of fantasy literature and we have a great library to facilitate which is just a few miles down the road.  I am hoping to encourage him to do both some creative writing as well as outlines and scripting for his YouTube channel.  It is actually pretty exciting thinking up all of the ways we may be able to follow his interests and focus education to be very personalized.

Now this was not the intended focus of my writing when I began this, but then my focus shifts like the wind in regards to what I feel up to sharing.  I’ll be sure to share anything that we run across that seems amazing enough to be duplicated and of course I may mention our progress in passing or perhaps regularly, according to how interesting it seems.

In any case I have to give a link (that is like a digital shout-out) to the two pages that are acting like hub-worlds for my research and planning:

Bright Horizons Academy

This is the cover school that we chose to use.  They cover anywhere in Alabama and allow complete curriculum flexibility.  They also provide a massive list of links for great homeschooling information and inexpensive/free material.  This was the list that actually led me toward the unschooling information which I really was not even aware of until about a month ago.

Stories of an Unschooling Family

This page is actually a blog written primarily by a mother of several homeschooled children.  They have been unschooling for several years and it was great to see how that process unfolded for them as it gives me some insight as to what to expect.  As a bonus she does vlogs and a podcast and being Australian, she has a pretty awesome accent.

If any of you, my dear readers, know of any other great resources be sure to leave me a comment and let me know.  Wish us luck!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Are You the Ultimate Chicken? Horse Maybe?

Following is a collection of musings by the Plant Powered Gamers on the delightful pass-time of deadly parkour with friends.. digitally of course.  Sharp and pointy things hurt us real folks after all, let’s leave the rough stuff to the happy digital animals of Ultimate Chicken Horse!

Some of the greatest things in life come from “mash-ups” – peanut butter & jelly, Tom & Jerry, ice cream and waffles, the duck-billed platypus… well that’s reaching. Finally, it all culminates in the ultimate platforming player-constructed sandbox death-trap race featuring cute and nimble little animals that are also great dancers.. Ultimate Chicken Horse!

Title

Party games beware, there is a new king in town. I can barely imagine how fun it would be to bring this game up to 5-8 player capability, but at up to 4-player-generated mayhem it is a riot. The game is available on Steam and PS4 and has online multiplayer as an option. Our experience is soley with the PC version as we are not currently equipped with a PS4. While it offers various modes, the Party mode is my favorite by far. The players can select one of 12 base stages to begin altering as they see fit with their choice of helpful or hurtful place-able objects that are offered at the beginning of each round from the “party box”.

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The “Party Box” holds all manor of fun ways to confound and kill your friends.. and sometimes yourself!

A bit of strategy must be used to make the level difficult enough to keep the other players from making it past one’s traps while still being manageable by the player who placed it.. though getting caught in one’s own traps is a pretty common occurrence. There are bonus points to be had for catching your “friends” in traps you placed as well as a variety of other feats. Points accumulate through each round until someone crosses the “finish line” in point totals or a set number of rounds have passed, which keeps games from dragging on too long.

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So many cute animals to play as.  So many levels to choose from.  So many deadly traps awaiting in each one.  Let’s go add more, shall we?

Players may take their pick of one of the many cute animal characters and can even dress them up in cute costumes which are unlocked by collecting “?”-Boxes scattered in stages. The animals have some pretty adorable and funny sound effects and “dances” as well. The controls are a little “slippery” but I suspect this is intentional in this sort of game as it only adds to the amusement to be had when stumbling off a ledge or into a booby-trap. I am already a rather mediocre at platform games, so Grant and I have had a lot of good laughs at my mishaps. We have even made several new friends online while playing, which is a great bonus.

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The levels can get pretty deadly as the match draws close to its end.  It leads to some insanely funny, mostly-luck-based platforming stunts.  Bonus: you can pretend that you planned it all out just perfectly and you really are that amazing.. at least until the next round when you miss the first jump or give a hug to a buzz saw near the starting point.

Grant is a pretty proficient with platforming games and as such usually comes out ahead. This game will certainly sharpen one’s skills quickly, though, and I have had a fair share of wins to put under my belt.. what an odd phrase that is. I can only imagine one would need a large wrestling-style title belt in order to place things under it. I digress.. In any case, there are several recordings in the archives at Link Plays Games’ YouTube Channel, so check it out if you like! If it seems entertaining then I would strongly encourage giving it a try. Being a rather inexpensive game to begin with, getting value from it should be quite effortless and it is a perfect fit for those odd times when we catch ourselves with 15 random minutes to fill while waiting on something.

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Seems like the perfect place to dance a ‘jig.  Good call, Chameleon!

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Ah see the racoon in his natural habitat.. flying majestically upon the top of a paper airplane, sailing to his goal at the end of the pointy-stick-filled-jungle-temple with cursed coin in tow.  Quiet now, let’s not startle him..

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Now don’t forget to collect and wear the proper attire before heading out into the deadly levels.  Just stop in at the friendly clubhouse and see what can be found in the costume trunk!

Light and fun, give Ultimate Chicken Horse a look and see what fun a bunch of animal buddies can have when equipped with buzz-saws, crossbows and a few gallons of honey….

If you are interested in seeing a bit of gameplay footage, head on over to Grant’s YouTube Channel:  Link Plays Games

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

 

In Need of Tunes for Yard-work Season

Weeds and grass seem to be in overdrive mode here in the southeast, marking the peak of the summer “yard-work season”.  I always found this to be a very tedious chore when I was younger, simply being assigned tasks that didn’t make much sense to me by my parents.  Why would I ever care if the yard I was playing in looked nice, neat and attractive?  I actually found it rather backward to pick up all of the “good” sticks which could make perfectly awesome swords, guns, stick-huts and the like and toss them into the trash or the ol’ burnin’ pile.  Now as I have slowly become more comfortable caring for my own home I do see a certain appeal to “prettying it up” a bit.  One of the main shifts I experienced was when I began viewing it as an art project, under the recommendation of my lovely and clever wife.  Now whether she is totally manipulating me into hours of work to get herself a pretty place to chill out in the back yard or if it was just the right words falling at the right time is beyond the scope of this little article.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like the results of that bit of research anyway; she is a clever gal.

I generally love to hear the music of nature while I am working outdoors.  After I have been at it a while the chipmunks, birds and field mice seem to decide that I am not out there to bother with them and they go about their business as long as I don’t make any sudden moves or loud noises.  It is fun to watch them and hear the tweeting, singing, tapping and skittering as I play real-life Minecraft out back.  I do on occasion enjoy having some music running and that is where I realized that our current lack of a portable stereo was a problem.  Now we seem to have moved on past the age of the boom-box and even cd-players.  These new-fangled bluetooth speakers seem all the rage, and I do enjoy some Pandora.  That eclectic mix of songs has led me to quite a number of new songs and artists I enjoy.  Besides, where else can you actually find “Final Fantasy 7 Radio”?  One-winged Angel, anyone?  I know my neighbors adore me!

In any case, I am not  exactly an audiophile.  My parents had recently picked up a Bose brand speaker, but those things are no small investment.  I found this little gem on Amazon…

The Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker.
Pretty well rated?  Check.  Roughly 25% of the price of the Bose?  Check.  Plays music from my iPhone?  Check.  Seems worth a try and worst case, Amazon has one of the best return policies I have ever had to deal with.  I should have a chance to try out both speakers side by side within the week and I’ll have to do some comparisons.  We have several Bose speakers in the house that are wired in and they perform magnificently.  My curiosity leaves me wondering if there will be a significant difference in audio quality between the two when taken outdoors.  I’ll have to post some before and after photos of this project after a few weeks of my new musical assistant to go with the audio test.  It’s certain to be relevant.

Til then…

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

The Little Things – A Tale of Rygar’s First Victory Over the Evil Lygar, Perseverance and How Little Actions Often Matter Most.

As we approach Father’s Day this year I found myself reminiscing with Grant about great moments in gaming that I had with my dad. Now while dad wasn’t really what one might call a “gamer”, he did still enjoy some games, especially in the early days of the NES. We had an especially fond connection in regards to games in which the setting was based on the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome. That is where our tale begins today…

To say growing up in rural Alabama was a little weird for me would be quite the understatement. While gaming is a pretty widely accepted hobby these days it was mostly the realm of the “nerdy” kids at my school. I played sports and such mostly because that was what my friends enjoyed, but I never really developed much interest in it. It was great exercise, though and I’m glad I had that in my life. I liked drawing and painting and games and generally just playing imaginatively even into my teenage years. That worked its way into Role Playing Games eventually, but that is a different tale. As we approach Father’s Day I just thought I’d relay a short tale about my dad and how awesome and thoughtful he was regarding me and my rather unique interests. It’s also a fine opportunity to share one of the most unique adventure games I have ever played.

When I was small and our NES was still quite fresh I had a pretty unique way of getting games – at least I have realized in retrospect. As it was the only way I ever purchased new games it was just the way it was done at the time and never gave it much thought. Going to town was pretty unusual for us, so when I had finally mowed enough yards or raked enough leaves to be able to buy a new one I would just hand enough money to dad when he and my mom went out on a trip or date or a regular trip to the store. This was an awesome way of handling it on dad’s part as I really valued every game that I worked for and as a bonus he never failed to bring back an interesting title though he oddly avoided the “big name” games of the time. Being a fan of mythology he mostly stuck to games that seemed to be related to that genre. Trojan, Rygar and Kid Icarus were three true treasures that came out of this mutual interest we shared. Most gamers with any experience in the retro realm are probably familiar with Kid Icarus, though the other two are perhaps of less renown. Rygar, however, was one of the true hidden gems dad found for me and I still enjoy playing it on occasion today.

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Just check out those locations!  What an interesting and varied world lay before Rygar to explore.

Rygar is a side-scrolling hybridized with an isometric top down adventure game that actually has some RPG-style elements. Wow, how is that for covering all of the bases?  Rygar, the main character, actually advances in strength and toughness with each monster he defeats. This means that the player can essentially power up without limits. The downside, as a kid with no real understanding of exactly how this worked, I was constantly annoyed at how tough the bosses and even some regular enemies were and how quickly they could defeat me. It was my dad who actually figured this out. The instruction manual was a bit vague but somehow he pieced together the rather archaic information presented there and simple game-play experience and found that with a good bit of battling Rygar could take down even the bosses with ease. The problem? No save feature. That’s right – Rygar is an RPG-style adventure game that you have to complete in a single session. Once that power button has been hit (or your little brother bonks the NES with a badly thrown ball) you get to start from scratch.

As I mentioned, my dad isn’t really a gamer, but he made it a point to play games with me anyway. Looking back now as a dad myself I realize how awesome that was of him to take the time to do something as silly as playing some NES with his “weird” son when he likely had little or no interest in the game itself. It has really influenced the way I behave as a parent and how I view time with my son today. All of this culminated in the day that I beat the game for the first time with an amazing bit of help from my dad who was absolutely being the hero of the day, giving me a great “boost” but allowing his boy to nail the “slam dunk” and win the day… indulge me in sports reference!

bigbadBot

The “Big Bad Bot” himself, whom my dad found was accessible early in the game if you were a sneaky guardian of Argool…

I woke one Saturday morning when dad was about to go to work. He had gotten up early and fired up Rygar. He had found a particular enemy that I suspect was meant to be a deterrent – a tough, higher level opponent that would tell the player “you’re not strong enough yet, come back later”. Dad had fought that guy repeatedly (this is in the days of easily respawning baddies by simply moving the screen off of their spawn location. He had found this big nasty “robot dude” that shot powerful wave beams at you. They did a lot of damage and the robot took a ton of hits to defeat, but dad had been defeating him for who-knows-how-long, and had gotten to the point where Rygar had become so strong that he was able to defeat the thing with a single attack! Dad showed me his accomplishment, smiled and headed off to work simply telling me to let him know if I was able to beat Lygar (the final boss) this time around, knowing I had been struggling with that final battle each time I had made it that far.

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A few of the bosses.  Unique patterns, projectiles, movement (or in Lapis’ case, not moving from its floating platform..)!  How exciting it was to make it to each of these big baddies and how awesome it felt to take them down with all of that dad-assisted power!

No kidding, the first three bosses were beaten so quickly that I was able to simply rush through the game. The first boss went down to a single hit! Dad had really given ol’ Rygar the workout of his life and he was ready to save Argool! Rygar and I steamrolled that game with no trouble after my dad’s significant “boost”, and I was super proud to tell him how it had gone when he made it back home. I was able to repeat the trick he had shown me soon after in order to share the game’s ending with him and this simple strategy and the patience it taught me in the form of proper preparation is a lesson I value to this day both in games and reality (who says games aren’t educational?!). This is easily one of the simplest yet fondest memories I have of something cool my dad did for me. No trip to the beach or Disney World. No pony or car. Just a simple gesture of taking interest and helping me in something I was interested in, so keep that in mind all of you parents and grandparents out there. Even if the child doesn’t quite seem to comprehend in the moment, those little things we do for them as parents, those simple little choices and seemingly silly games we play along with them now could impact and influence them the rest of their lives!

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Lygar’s inner sanctum lies inside the maze of his floating castle which is itself epic.  Guarded by “shadow” versions of many of the game’s toughest enemies, it is quite a trek.  Lygar himself is no pushover as he spits.. teeth?  Thorns?  Some weird projectile.  I remember as a kid I decided they were poisonous teeth from his serpent arms, as they were obviously responsible for my repeated demise.  But not this day, Lygar!  Today he falls and Argool is freeeeeed!

Now just to make a few more notes on Rygar, I’ll link some gameplay footage on Link Plays Games YouTube channel for those interested. Don’t be deceived by the games old, pixelated style as it’s quite a lot of fun. It is simple at a glance but involves a fair amount of searching and some of the NPCs offer legitimately useful clues which was sadly rare in those days of yesteryear. It is reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda in that the world is quite open and the player is left to find their way around. Some areas are restricted by items needed to access them, which keeps the player in safer zones until Rygar has toughened up sufficiently but from my experience one can move much faster than the game may expect and it is not hard to find oneself tackling enemies and especially bosses that are nearly impossible to defeat without a bit of “grinding” to increase Tone which is Rygars measure of attack power and Last, his measure of toughness (how many health bubbles Rygar has).

Rygar’s weapon of choice is certainly unique.  Now I have heard the rumor that yo-yos were originally used as weapons and while I am no historian and not particularly interested in weapons and warfare in general I sadly cannot discount the tendency for humans to weaponize pretty much anything (remember that catapult in Monty Python.. they weaponize a cow for goodness sakes!).  If those ancient yo-yo-weapons were anything like Rygar’s diskarmor, I’ll believe it though.  He makes it look quite deadly at his side and can whip it with startling speed.  It is really cool to see some variation on the typical weapons used in games at that time in any case and it makes for a cool visual.

Rygar must navigate his way around the world and battle past the five bosses in the world in order to access the various tools and powers needed to be able to assault Lygar’s floating fortress – which at the time of the games making was a site to behold. That level’s rather sinister and anxious music is still pretty firmly embedded in my mind from those early years of assaulting that maze-like castle.

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Sinister floating castle that is viewable early in the game from the tallest tower in the first bosses domain yet still unreachable til the game is near complete?  Epic NES foreshadowing, check!

I cannot say that there is a tremendous need to practice so much as patience to power up Rygar. In today’s world of save-states it isn’t as much of a problem, as one can actually pick up when convenient at the point previously reached but when the game was originally released this was a major limiting factor! Count your blessings fellow gamers. It is also the first “metroid-vania” style game I ever played, requiring a fair amount of backtracking over previously visited areas after different items had been gained.  It also had a pretty unique “hub-world” which the player doesn’t actually begin from, instead having to battle through the games first few sections in order to reach it.  This is the first game I had ever played which used the “tutorial stage” setup, in which the game is learned in the first area and allows for experimentation without tremendous potential for loss.  As Rygar works his way along those beginning cliffs and mountains, checking doors, caves and often reaching dead ends, the game also hints at the fact that it is going to require a bit of searching and exploring to find the correct paths.  All in all it is well worth the effort and Argool and Rygar will thank you for your effort in all of their 8-bit glory (think pixelated doves and rainbows.. majestic).

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Thought I was kidding?  Proof.  Enjoy.  Majestic.  It’s the friggin’ door of peace, respect it!  Lygar was the last joker to try closing it and you heard what happened to that guy, right?

The Plant-Powered Gamers strongly recommend giving the game a try if you ever have the chance.

Dad, thanks for being awesome. Happy Father’s Day.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Fasting and Fasting-mimicking diet – conclusion

I have officially concluded my period of fasting with an extension of “Fasting-Mimicking” to make up a 5-day total. So how did it go?

Surprisingly I had very little problem with hunger or even thinking much about food on day 4 and 5. I was even able to do a light workout of pull-ups, push-ups and yoga with some band work on day 5 with no particular problem of fatigue.

For my first “regular” meal I oddly just wanted a larger serving of what had become my favorite while on the plan – roasted veggies with tofu. This is essentially a pan of chopped red cabbage, carrots and vidalia (sweet) onion, seasoned with a mix of white and black pepper and roasted at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. When finished I topped them with black olives.  One thing that I have always noticed and enjoyed when doing these kinds of resets and challenges – it really helps me appreciate the simple flavors of the food without really having to add much to them or alter them beyond some very basic prep. As a bonus a fairly small meal now feels quite satiating, my calorie log is only now approaching the 1200 mark which is quite low for me on a usual day. Not to fear, considering that it is 1200 calories of whole-food plants, all of my nutrient goals for the day were easily met. Tofu, spinach, kale and olives are the star players there, packing a huge nutritional punch with very little caloric burden.

I enjoyed my additional time each day when there was less need to be in the kitchen.  I also did a better job actually practicing my breathing exercises and yoga, both of which I do fairly regularly but could still stand to get them into my schedule a bit more often. There is also a heightened sense of presence that always seems to take hold with me when I do any sort of fasting.  It makes sense to me that so many spiritual traditions include them as a practice. I wouldn’t be able to explain the psychology of this at all, but I personally find it to be the case that I just feel a bit more awake and aware.  It also never fails to impress me at just how adaptable we are.

An additional note, anyone wishing to pursue fasting in any form should get advice from an expert – which I certainly am not! Please check into some of the resources and do a little research. If in doubt, let your primary physician or chiropractor know what you are up to in case they can offer guidance or suggestions. I mention chiropractic doctors because the two best we have ever worked with were quite knowledgeable in regards to diet and nutrition, but I suspect like physicians this is a case-by-case basis.  Also, while fasting and fasting-mimicking show promise for being healthy in limited, controlled ways, it certainly would not be advisable to use them for long-term or as a primary method of weight loss. Dr. Longo’s fasting-mimicking diet is only recommended for at most 5 days at a time and under rather controlled nutritional guidelines and he even cautions the reader in regards to the potential dangers of lengthy water-only fasts.  Please do your due diligence before setting out on any new path and research a bit!

Just to add a few additional resources, please see Dr. Andrew Weil’s web page and his book, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health.  These were the starting point for me as I tried to find my way to a healthier and happier state of being.  His advice was the first to point me in the direction of occasional, seasonal fasting and even partial/limited fasting.  Again I have to recommend Dr. Valter Longo’s book as well, The Longevity Diet.  It is a treasure trove of information and also contains some examples of what diet was like in rural Italy for him as a child which I found interesting and delightful.  Simple recipe ideas?  You bet!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Plant Powered Chocolate Muffin-top Baked “Pancakes”

After deciding to go completely whole-foods plant-based vegan a little over two years ago we were a bit worried that it would be difficult to come up with proper substitutes and alterations of “classic” meals and recipes.  Thanks to a few wonderful cookbooks and bloggers that I have to give a shoutout to below (see the end of the post) we made it through and at this point have even developed our own recipes based off of what they taught us.

Breakfast was one of the trickier situations.  After removing all of the typical meat products in the “Standard American Diet” which are so common at breakfast time, removing eggs, butter and yogurt we were pretty much left with toast.  Even in the case of toast we had to do a little searching to find bread that did not contain milk or eggs.  Fortunately we were already vegetarian at the point we made this change so we had already managed to work around the breakfast meat problem.  No dead animals for breakfast seemed like a win from the earliest notion, after all.

Pancakes have always frustrated me.  They tend to do well with a brand new non-stick pan but eventually begin sticking, burning or tearing and generally just make a mess after the pan has been used a few times, even with very careful use in my experience.  One day I had had enough and decided just to bake them instead.  The first few tries were kind of tricky, deciding the correct length of time and exactly how thick to make the batter, but over time I’ve learned how to get it exactly to our liking

The Forks Over Knives Cookbook provided us with the primary building blocks for what became Grant’s favorite “pancake” recipe.  Two years of practice of making this at least 2-3 times a month we have worked it over to suit our style and the process has really opened my eyes to toying with baked goods in general as the process of adjusting and substituting in the original recipe has assisted me in creating versions of quite a few deserts, muffins and breads.  I’ve really found it an enjoyable challenge to work with the limitations and try to find work-arounds and replacements as I experiment with different recipes.  Lucky for me I have one of the most articulate and honest critiques one could hope for – my little boy!

Enough of the back story, let’s get to the recipe.

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The ingredients are lined up and ready to get to business.

Grant’s favorite Plant-powered “muffin-top style pancake” recipe:

1 Cup Whole Grain Flour – we use Spelt or Buckwheat usually if available, but they cook up fine with Whole Wheat too.  We like Bob’s Red Mill Spelt Flour and Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Flour, but we aren’t afraid to try a new brand if there is a great sale at our Trader Joe’s or Sprouts stores.

1/3 Cup Oat Flour – This is just blended rolled oats if you like saving money.  If you’d rather not bother just replace with an extra 1/3 Cup flour of your choice.  This isn’t exactly rocket science, so they generally turn out just fine either way.  I usually make this call according to what is in the pantry at the time.

1 Tbsp Baking Soda

3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

3 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal

1/4 tsp Salt

2 Tbsp Maca Powder

2 Tbsp Maple Syrup OR 4 drops Liquid Stevia Sweetener

2/3 Cup Applesauce or “Simpley Sweet Potatoes” – Hybrid style, mashed

1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2/3 Cup Plant-based milk alternative (Soy, Almond, Coconut, etc.)

2/3 Cup Water

2/3 Cup Chocolate Chips – Trader Joe’s brand is the most affordable dairy-free chips we have found.  These are okay to omit or reduce if you don’t have a huge sweet tooth.  Grant contends that they just don’t quite have their magic without the chocolate chips on top, though.  Reduce or remove at your own risk!

lineup

Method

Preparation:  Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees Fareheit (200 C);  Line a baking pan with Parchment Paper or a Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat.

Step 1:  Mix the water, milk, vinegar and syrup together into a measuring cup or small bowl and set aside for at least 3-5 minutes.  The vinegar will curdle the milk slightly, creating a “vegan buttermilk”.

Step 2:  Combine all dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

mixedDry

Step 3:  Add the Applesauce into the middle of the dry ingredients then add the “buttermilk” mixture.  Mix until smooth and creamy.

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Step 4:  Stir in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (1/3 Cup).

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Step 5:  Scoop divide the batter onto the baking sheet into 12 “pancakes”.

ready2bake

Step 6:  Bake for 16-18 minutes.

Step 7:  Remove from oven and let them rest for 3-5 minutes.

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Serve with Maple Syrup, berries, fruit, or nut butters… mix and match, experiment.  The possibilities seem endless!  Be creative and try whatever sounds tasty.

plated

Grant plated and arranged his breakfast himself for the photo op.  Congrats and thanks to my little sous chef!

Inspiration and Thanks

As mentioned above, the Plant Powered Gamers are strongly influenced by and owe much of the initial basis for this recipe to the following:

Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes Recipe

Forks Over Knives Chocolate Pancakes Recipe (check the App Store if this is too pricey for you or just have no space for cookbooks.  They have a great deal at only $5 last I checked and regularly add new recipes for free)