Muesli!!

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For some reason I’ve always believed Muesli was this mysteriously complicated cereal made in Europe using some super-secret old-world technique, unapproachable by the average person. Like maybe they hand-rolled the oats or something. Why else would the little box offered by that one brand perch so stoically high on the grocery shelf all by itself with its exorbitant price tag?

Turns out, Muesli is nothing but naked and un-toasted granola! This, in my mind, makes it an easier and healthier choice than granola. Why? And don’t get me wrong–I am a true granola lover from way back before it was cool–but, you know and I know even homemade granola can be full of sugar and sometimes full of fat. And sometimes, even full of sodium.

But this. This is not that. It is a bowl full of whole foods, in their natural state, completely unadorned. No sugar, no added fat or salt. Just clean, pure energy.

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Cooking a serving of oatmeal in the microwave takes 2-3 minutes. Putting together this cereal takes about the same amount of time and you have breakfast for the week!

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That’s it! No soaking, no cooking, no need to heat up the oven. This recipe is completely adjustable to your tastes, with an endless variety of nut, seed, fruit and cereal combinations.

Yield:  10 cups (that’s 10 1-cup servings or 13 3/4 cup servings). Store refrigerated.

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I topped my first bowl of homemade muesli with fresh chopped strawberries and non-dairy milk.

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There is so much going on in this bowl!! So many textures and flavors. It’s crunchy and chewy, sweet and tangy from the fruit and then the little edge of cacao nib influence is a pleasant surprise against the fresh berries.

A healthy and delicious breakfast to take you through the morning feeling satisfied and energized!

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe Test: Quinoa Pancakes

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

Here’s the thing about pancakes…I love the way they taste, but not so much how I feel afterward. All that doughy, sweet carbohydrate goodness seems such a decadent indulgence.

I’m always alert for a loophole–a healthier way to enjoy that sticky maple-buttery experience without feeling like I just consumed a loaf of bread in one sitting. When I came across this RECIPE (courtesy feastingonfruit.com) the immediate thought came to my mind: Quinoa=Protein. High-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat always feels good in my tummy. This recipe is also oil-free.

But, then, I thought…how will they taste without any gluten? Will they hold together yet not be dry and weird? Since I have quinoa flakes in my pantry anyway, I decided to see for myself.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The recipe suggests using a blender, so I thought, since I am cutting the recipe in half I’ll just use my Magic Bullet. BAD IDEA.

I would mix this recipe in a bowl, like any other pancake batter. Otherwise, you will leave behind a lot of it, due to its thick, paste-like consistency. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because it was easier and cheaper.

I transferred the whole mess into a bowl and added more milk and a bit more maple syrup to achieve a smoother, spreadable batter. I also added a pinch of salt, because the recipe didn’t call for any. Salt adds a pleasing flavor contrast to the maple syrup.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The cooking was good. A nice, even browning without sticking to the griddle, which I  sprayed with a light coating of oil between each cake.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The result? A very good, gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat pancake. After tasting, I decided I would have added more salt, though–beyond a pinch. Otherwise there is no flavor at all.

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I added a little extra Earth Balance spread and this fixed the issue. The texture is good, too. Not dry or grainy or weird. Just light and absorbent. The half-recipe made three medium-sized cakes. I ate two of them and still felt good, not bloated.

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My final assessment:

An excellent representation of a ‘healthier’ way to pancake, but quinoa is exorbitantly expensive. If money is of no importance, and you want to impress your friends and family at brunch, go for it.

But…there are lot of other gluten-free pancake options and much, much cheaper. I dare say, even tastier. Here’s one in particular I like, made in a blender with bananas and oats.

GLUTEN-FREE BANANA-OAT PANCAKES

What’s your favorite way to pancake??

 

Vegan On The Cheap

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“I would eat vegan, but I can’t afford it!” A phrase I have heard often. But, it’s a myth that a plant-based lifestyle has to blow your grocery budget. And it doesn’t have to include strange ingredients you’ve never heard of. A healthy vegan diet can actually be totally the opposite. A simplification.

Keeping in mind the basic foods your body needs  will make shopping so much easier:

  1. Protein (beans, peas and lentils, nuts, nut butters). Remember that one type of bean, legume or nut choice in combination with a grain provides enough protein in a meal. There’s no need to overdo it.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains)
  3. Fats. The health benefits of processed oils is still a controversial subject in the science of nutrition, so I will simply offer that many foods contain naturally occurring fats such as nuts, coconuts and avocado. Choose oils conscientiously and use  sparingly.

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Here’s a list of healthy and inexpensive foods to get you started:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Brown rice
  4. Creamy natural peanut butter (multi-purpose protein for toast, sandwiches and sauces)
  5. Dried black beans (easier to cook than you think. Google it)
  6. Dried lentils (even easier and quicker than beans)
  7. Frozen fruit
  8. Frozen mixed vegetables
  9. Hummus (homemade tastes best and is cheaper if you sub peanut butter for tahini)
  10. Rolled Oats (they micro cook in two minutes)
  11. Russet Potatoes (let me count the ways to prepare this cheap and filling vegetable)

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Although a constantly rotating variety of produce (eating the rainbow, as they say) is ideal, it is not within everyone’s budget. It’s okay to eat apples and bananas all week. The point is, you are eating fruit! You are getting vitamins and fiber, water and minerals. All good stuff!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Sometimes you will splurge on the raspberries or juicy peaches in season. And it will actually be a treat, because your flavor palate is now accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit sugar, as opposed to all the jacked-up laboratory produced sweeteners in processed snacks. It actually prefers it.

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The food industry is always coming out with new products. And that’s just what they are. Products, that are processed. Not whole and healthy foods in their natural state. There’s nothing wrong with these products as long as they are kept in perspective–as only the smallest part of our overall caloric intake.

Upcoming posts will feature recipes and ideas for simple and delicious meals that make going plant-based a sustainable choice without breaking the bank!

 

 

Vegan Brunch Execution, Start to Finish

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I love to cook big breakfast on the weekend! Here’s a fairly easy menu I pulled off this morning in about two hours:

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Cinnamon Baked Apples

Smoky Golden Corn Grits

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

 Roasted Redskin Potatoes with Onions

Yeah, I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s all about strategy and timing. I start with the dish that takes the longest to cook: the apples. I turn on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees fahrenheit while peeling and slicing.

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Rule of thumb in my kitchen: Always Be Prepping! While one thing is cooking, be working on the next thing until you have them all going at once, regulating temperature and quality to make sure everything is served hot.

If you think you are all caught up and have run out of stuff to do–think again! There are always dishes to wash and counters to clear, while setting the table, pulling out condiments, etc. I will admit, with this menu I had the advantage of tagging my husband for dish duty! That saved me some time, most definitely.

So, my apples are working in the oven while I am scrubbing and dicing my potatoes and onions, panning them up to slide right in when the apples come out. That’s when the temp will increase to 425 to get them nice and toasty. Note: the smaller you dice the potatoes the faster they cook. Seems like a no-brainer, but I sometimes forget myself, because the larger I dice the faster I am done dicing, ha ha.

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I do my sausage crumbles  and leave them in the iron skillet basking in the residual heat while heating my veggie stock for the grits.

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I get my grits working and cover them to finish, stirring with a whisk every so often to prevent sticking.

Okay, I’m free to give my full attention to the pumpkin spice pancakes, which do require babysitting as I cook them one at a time. But, I’m cool, because everything else is working or done and just staying warm.

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I set up a small sheet pan on the side and place each pancake there as I remove them from the griddle. I cover the pan with foil to hold in the heat.

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Meanwhile, the potatoes are just about done roasting. Great! I turn off the oven and everything that fits goes in there  to stay hot until the guests arrive. Don’t worry, the oven is off and the temperature is rapidly decreasing, so nothing is going to overheat. Trust me on this, not like they will if you leave them on the stovetop on low. This tends to burn the bottoms of everything!

So, into the oven with my:

 Iron skillet of tempeh sausage crumbles

Covered pot of grits

Potatoes are already in there

Apples (optional) they may be still warm from the oven anyway or you may wish to serve them at room temp

What I did leave on the stovetop: the iron pancake griddle, set to low, with the sheet tray full of pancakes resting on top, covered loosely with foil. This keeps the cakes nice and steamy hot.

Now, everything is ready and everything will be served hot, the way it was intended.

Finally, I fix myself a fresh, hot cup of coffee and sit down with my guests to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

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Maple-Butter Pancake Oats

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My favorite breakfast is pancakes. But I don’t eat them as often as I’d like–opting for a lighter, healthier choice most mornings. It strikes me as funny that I didn’t come up with this idea sooner, but the other day I got the notion that I could make my healthy, whole-food oats TASTE like pancakes. And still walk away from the table feeling like I made a smarter choice.

I thought about what makes the pancake experience for me. It’s not just the maple flavor. No, it’s the harmonious contrast of the warm, sweet syrup  against the salty, creamy butter along with a bit of cinnamon spice. Yes, that’s the balance I have created here.

Not to mention, this bowl of warm, comforting goodness comes together in less than five minutes.

What took me so long?

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Maple Butter Pancake Oats

Ingredients:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup water

pinch salt

1 tsp. Earth Balance Non-Dairy Margarine

1 Tbsp. real maple syrup

1/4 tsp. cinnamon, pumpkin pie or apple pie spice

1/4 tsp. Maldon Sea Salt (optional)

Method:

Cook oats per package directions or microwave in a heat-proof bowl, approximately 2 minutes, 30 seconds at 50% power.

Allow the cooked oats to sit for about a minute, then stir to check for desired doneness. Add remaining ingredients and serve immediately.

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Vegan Zucchini-Spice Muffins

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When my day in the kitchen is smooth, I often have a little energy left over to make something just for fun. Today I baked these delicious, moist muffins filled with nutritious real food like fresh zucchini, banana, applesauce, walnuts and raisins. And just in time for tea!

This recipe comes directly from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s website. She’s definitely my go-to gal for the tastiest, fool-proof vegan recipes. Click here to link directly to her site and the recipe: ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD

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I made little modification, other than using whole wheat pastry flour, adding a little

chai masala for extra spiciness and baking the batter as muffins instead of in a loaf pan.

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They baked up in about 20 minutes. Just watch your time. You’ll know when they’re ready–nice high, lightly-browned domes and dry on top, but if you’re not sure just poke a toothpick or the blade of a thin knife through the center to make sure the batter is no longer wet.

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Simple Cinnamon Rolls

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I love home-cooked breakfast on Sundays. I woke this morning thinking about the other half of a double batch of pizza dough I whipped up yesterday. The dough was what my Nana would describe as “happy”– full of air, fluffy and nearly bursting through the wrap, eager to get into whatever creative plan I would soon hatch.

So inspired, I came up with this delicious treat. The scent of warm cinnamon and buttery brown sugar wafting through the house is irresistible.

Ingredients:

1 batch pizza dough (homemade or store-bought, my whole wheat version shown here)

1/4 cup flour for rolling

1/4 cup dairy-free buttery spread (such as Earth Balance), softened, plus extra for pan

1 big tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Note: Ingredients amounts are flexible. If you like more cinnamon, by all means, pile it on. That goes for sugar, nuts, raisins, chocolate–whatever you like. You can’t mess this up. It’s your creation!

Method:

Grease a 9 inch cake pan with buttery spread until well-coated.

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Lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, checking underneath periodically, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Spread the margarine to cover the dough to the edges. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nuts evenly and pat down to adhere to dough.

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Roll the long side tightly to form a log shape. With a very sharp knife, cut into 1 to 1/2 inch thick slices and place side by side in the cake pan. Brush with additional margarine if desired.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until sugar is bubbly and rolls are lightly browned.

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Serve with vanilla glaze if desired:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together well and drizzle over rolls

Mini Tofu Omelets

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Here’s a tasty, portable breakfast option from the new cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, “Isa Does It”.

These cute little mini-omelets have a great flavor and are super easy to prepare!

Mini Tofu Omelets

  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 14 ounces Soft, silken tofu
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Turmeric, ground
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp. Arrowroot powder

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the garlic in a food processor.: Add the tofu, water, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Puree until smooth.
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2. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined.:
3. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.:
4. Brush a 12-cup muffin pan lightly with oil. Pour the batter into each well until a little over halfway full.:
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5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away from the sides a bit and the top is firm to the touch.:
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6. For the best results, let cool for at least 10 minutes. :
Servings/Yield: Yield: 12
Source:  “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan Frangipane-Raspberry Strudel

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I got to thinking about frangipane and how I hadn’t enjoyed it since way back in my culinary school days. I remembered fondly the rich, creamy sweetness wrapped in a crisp pastry pillow encrusted with sugared almond slices.

I was inspired by this memory to try my hand at a vegan pastry with all the flavor but none of the dairy contained in the classical French preparation.

I was in a hurry to put my theory into action, so I picked up ready-made (accidentally vegan) puff pastry sheets from my grocer’s freezer and set to work.

I let the sheets thaw at room temperature (about 75 degrees) for 45 minutes, until they could be handled easily, but not completely soft. I set my oven to 400 degrees and started making my filling.

I just needed a creamy ingredient to loosen up the almond paste and make it  spreadable, so I chunked the paste  into my food processor with a bit of cashew cream I happened to have leftover in the fridge.

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I processed the two ingredients until very creamy, the consistency of soft frosting.

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I spread a nice thick layer of the frangipane then topped it with raspberry pie filling. I made a second pastry, for good measure– topping the filling with chocolate chips.

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My pastry forming skills are more than a little rusty but I managed it into a shape that looked right, then dabbed a bit of soy milk on top, followed by sliced almonds and sugar. The most important goal, for me, was getting it into the oven 🙂

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I allowed the pastry to bake for 30-40 minutes, until brown and crispy on top and bottom.

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It turned out every bit as good as I had imagined.

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Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry sheets, although not exactly a health food, are one of those accidentally vegan products that comes in handy for creating a special treat on the fly.

The frangipane filling was tasty and sweet, but not overly so due to the addition of the unsweetened cashew cream (about 1/2 cup altogether). If I had it in the cabinet I might have bumped up the almond flavor just a bit with some extract, but all in all this quick and easy pastry was a great success!

 

 

One Big Vegan Pancake

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Sometimes I am in the mood for pancakes, but dread standing over the stove babysitting the griddle until all the batter is cooked. I actually chafe at the responsibility of seeing each cake safely through the journey until I can get that one or two on my plate. Sometimes the perceived commitment is just too much.

Using the ‘pan-cookie’ theory, I decided I would half my recipe and make this fluffy, sweet, colossal cake just for me. One and done!

One Big Pancake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tbsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 tbsp. oil

Oil or pan spray for griddle

Non-dairy butter and maple syrup, honey or preserves for serving

Method:

Pre-heat large greased griddle or skillet over medium low.

Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Add wet ingredients and mix gently with a spoon, just until flour is dissolved. Do not beat! If batter is too thick add a bit more milk.

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When a droplet of water sizzles on the griddle or skillet, the pan is ready. Pour all batter at once onto surface of pan and spread around so it cooks evenly. Turn down heat if necessary to maintain thorough baking without burning the bottom of the cake.

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Not quite there yet…

When there are little holes all over the top of the pancake, it’s time to turn it over. You may need two spatulas to make this happen without breaking the cake! Let it cook another 3-5 minutes, then serve immediately!

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I did my best 🙂

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins

muffinsThese tasty muffins are standard in my seasonal recipe rotation. They are moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.

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This is a quick and easy recipe, too, from my favorite vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen. Here is a link to the recipe, Best Pumpkin Muffins.

I like to bake the muffins and let them rest for a few hours. It actually seems to more fully develop the flavor of the spices. These also freeze very well. Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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It goes without saying that this time of the year begs for pumpkin spice, especially on weekend mornings. These pancakes are so moist and sweet with just the right amount of warm autumn spice. The recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice and I didn’t have any on the shelf, but not to fear, I made my own with pantry spices. The recipe follows.

Double up and keep a batch in the freezer for later!

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Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

                                                 based on a recipe from  minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup packed pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)

Method:

Whisk together wet ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients then stir into wet ingredients just until well-blended.

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Heat a cast iron griddle and cook just like any other pancake recipe. Serve with vegan butter and real maple syrup (of course).

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Serving suggestion: With a big scoop of tofu scramble!

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

 

 

Doughnuts In The Dark

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Ah, the things we take for granted. I knew we would lose power during Hurricane Irma, but I wasn’t sure when. I decided to tempt fate and make my last use of my oven count. I wanted to bake something sweet to console us during our period of hot, uncomfortable living I knew was not long away.

 

In a race with time I threw together these delicious vegan doughnuts and while they were baking stirred together a silky chocolate glaze. “Will I make it?” I thought to myself  as I worked like mad to make use of what little time remained.

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We made it through the baking stage,

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the cooling stage and even to the finishing stage before the lights went out. Mission accomplished!!

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I like this doughnut recipe from Starr, The Misfit Baker because although the doughnuts are sweet and delicious, they are not over-the-top decadent. They are more like moist little cakes, because they are baked instead of fried, the way most doughnuts are. So we save more than a few calories there.

I like Starr’s recipes overall, because she really strives to keep the ingredients natural, like making her own sour cream from tofu instead of buying the highly processed stuff. I like that.

Click here for the recipe:  Chocolate Doughnuts from The Misfit Baker

 

 

 

 

Vegan French Toast

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As a lifelong  pancake girl, I never thought I’d get around to writing this post. But my husband’s a French toast guy, and last weekend I wanted to make him a special brunch treat, so here we have it.

I’ve tried vegan French toast recipes before and they just seemed too soggy or blah in the flavor department. But this recipe gets the dipping mixture right, with the addition of a bit of starch and garbanzo bean flour (besan) for a thicker consistency. The trick is a quick run through the blender to well incorporate the ingredients. Also, making sure the baguette is at least a day old helps ensure a crisp result.

Vegan French Toast

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

Loaf of Italian or French bread, baguette shaped, preferably stale
1/2 cup soy creamer (rice or soy milk would make a good substitute, preferably rice)
1/2 cup rice milk or plain soy milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup chickpea flour

Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Several tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for frying)

Powered sugar for finishing (optional)

Method:

Slice the baguette into rounds about 1-inch thick and set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients (except oil and powdered sugar) in a blender and mix for a few seconds until fully incorporated. Pour into a shallow dish ( I use a pie plate).

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Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high with a thin layer of oil. Dip rounds of bread (don’t soak, you just want the mixture to cling to the outside) and place immediately in hot skillet and brown on both sides. Serve hot with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, vegan butter and maple syrup.

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Cornmeal-Molasses Waffles

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I was in the mood for waffles today. But not the usual sweet, refined version most of us are used to. I wanted something more substantial. A waffle with a deep, earthy flavor and  a chewy texture. A crunchy whole-grain chew beneath the sweet, buttery maple surface.

First, I was delighted to find a solid vegan waffle recipe online. And even more pleased to find I had all the ingredients on hand. This, in my opinion, is the mark of a fine recipe. Don’t make me run out to the store for that one “special” ingredient!

I took this wonderful basic recipe here from The One Ingredient Chef   and made modifications to suit my vision.

What I hearken to here is the original breakfast fare of the early American settlers, like I imagine Ma Ingalls used to make for Laura, Mary, Carrie and little baby Grace in the “Little House on The Prairie” books. The food of my heritage.

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I substituted a medium grind cornmeal for the fine called for, molasses for the maple syrup and olive oil for the coconut. The flavor is darker and edgier, kind of like a full-bodied dark coffee. The coarser cornmeal gives it more of a crunchy chew and the olive oil, well, just because it is cheaper to use than coconut.

Serve these crispy with Earth Balance Buttery Spread and warm (real) maple syrup. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Note: Don’t worry if your vegan waffles don’t get as crispy as you like no matter how long you leave them on the iron. You can always crisp them up in the toaster or in a 375 degree oven, laid directly on the rack for a few minutes.

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Banana Oat Pancakes

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This recipe from our fellow blogger Spencer, has so much going for it!

#1 Whole Foods

#2 No oil or sugar

# Very, very little flour

# Simple mix and pour from the blender!

My pancake consumption has gone down dramatically over the years because they feel so heavy in my tummy and tend to drag down my energy. But when I read Spencer’s recipe I was intrigued, and I had to give it a try.

I’m happy to say I’m back in the pancake game! These are so light and tasty with a yummy banana flavor. They left me feeling satisfied without feeling too full. This recipe is definitely staying in the permanent rotation!

 

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Check out the original recipe here at spencersgapyear.wordpress.com

 

Homestyle Oat Bars

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I really like those tasty, chewy individually packaged oat bars I find at Whole Foods Market. But I don’t like paying $2.00 per bar!

So, I cracked open the pantry  and came up with my own quick, no-bake version that as it turns out, I like a whole lot better!

This recipe is simple. One you can throw together with whatever nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits you just happen to have hanging around. You don’t have to toast the rolled oats or the nuts, but I like that roasty-brown taste. These bars are soft and sweet, without being overly so, with a deep caramel-like flavor from the brown rice syrup.

Homestyle Oat Bars

adapted from the recipe found at fannetasticfood.com

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

Any combination of the following, measuring 1 cup:

nuts, any kind, roughly chopped (almond slices, pecans, walnuts, cashews)

seeds, any kind (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, sesame)

dried fruit, any kind (raisins, diced apples, chopped figs)

shredded coconut (raw or toasted)

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Himalayan pink sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. If you like your oats and nuts toasted, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. If not, skip ahead to step 2. Place oats on a dry baking sheet. Place nuts on a separate sheet. When the oven is ready, place the oats and nuts in the oven. Toast the nuts carefully watching the time. This should take 2-4 minutes. They burn easily. Pull them out and allow to cool. Stir the oats every 5 minutes and toast until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare a small-sized shallow, rimmed baking pan by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Measure brown rice syrup, peanut butter and flavoring into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, then stir until combined.

IMG_6010.jpg4. Stir the rice cereal, nuts, fruit and other dry ingredients into the bowl with the oats and then pour the wet mixture over, mixing all together with a spatula into a sticky, crunchy mass.

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IMG_6011.jpg5. Immediately press mixture into prepared pan and flatten with your hands. Lightly dust surface of bars with sea salt, if using. Allow to set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).

6. Cut into squares and wrap individually to prevent sticking together. For best results, store in the refrigerator.

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Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

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These tasty sausage crumbles are versatile, lending a satisfying umami flavor and a chewy  bite to gravy, sauces, rice or other grain dishes–even pizza!

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

adapted from a recipe by Lindsay Nixon

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 8-oz pkg tempeh

2 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce

1 tsp rubbed sage (not powdered)

1 tsp onion powder (granulated)

1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

dash of black pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Grind fennel seeds into a fine powder using mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and set aside.

Shred tempeh using a cheese grater and mix with soy or tamari sauce and spices (add fennel last)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat then add tempeh mixture to saute, stirring constantly until browned and crisp.

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Use immediately or store refrigerated in airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Note: You can adjust the seasonings, such as leaving out the sage and adding basil and a pinch of crushed red pepper for an Italian flavor. For a sweeter breakfast style sausage, add a bit of maple syrup.

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What’s In YOUR Smoothie??

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I start most mornings with a cool, creamy blend of fruit and spinach or kale, kicked up with pure green tea powder (or spirulina) and a bit of fresh grated ginger. It’s a delicious, naturally sweetened delivery system for a variety of nutritious and water-filled whole foods, giving me a head start on my daily requirement of vitamins and antioxidants.

I use the Rishi 1 teaspoon individual packets of green tea, although there are other brands I really like, too.  I tend to make a mess when I measure the fine powder on my own.

There’s a system to producing a perfectly blended smoothie. Although the fruits can vary, fresh or frozen, watery or dense, the following order of operations always turns out a lovely, drinkable result, with no weird chunks floating around or getting caught up in the straw.

Always start with water (or whatever liquid you are using) and the spinach. Get that spinach pureed up nice and smooth with enough water to blend the fruits as well. You need a  liquid base to help everything move around.

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Second, add the matcha or any powder you may be using. The powder goes down before the fruit to keep it from blowing around and getting stuck to the pitcher when you turn it on.  Next, add your softest fruits.  Then add the ginger (if using).

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In general, the more water-filled the fruit the harder it freezes, so frozen strawberries on top over pineapple and bananas. The idea is, the heavier fruits help to push down the lighter fruits into the blade, so everything blends up smoothly and quickly.

Ideally, when not using any added sweetener you want to make sure you have a balance of sweeter fruits, like pineapple and banana to offset the not-so-sweet fruits, like frozen strawberries or blueberries.

Additionally, it’s a good idea, if you are using frozen fruits to have a balance of fresh and frozen, so the smoothie doesn’t end up too thick and milkshake-like. Usually just making sure the banana is fresh is enough for me to keep the consistency drinkable.

Now, blend it up starting on about medium and then increase to high as the fruit starts to move around. Check liquid and add a bit more if needed to help get things going, careful not to add too much, because it will water down the flavor and sweetness when you are not adding any sweetener or juice.

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So, now that I’ve shown you mine… what’s in YOUR smoothie??

 

Ingredients:

Water

Big handful fresh spinach

1 tsp. matcha green tea powder or spirulina

1/2 to 1 fresh  banana, broken into 2 inch chunks

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger (optional)

1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, cut into chunks

 

Vegan Pancakes 101

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Have you ever searched for a basic recipe and found every variation of the recipe or so-called basic recipes that call for oddball items that send you out to the store when you had no intention of going?

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When it comes to pancakes, I am a purist. If I want different flavors, I tend to apply them as a topping. A pancake recipe was meant to be simple, created from staples, easy to pull together at a moment’s notice, provided you have a mixing bowl and a hot griddle.

I don’t get around to making pancakes often, so when I do it’s a special event! The recipe that follows is as basic as it gets. The best part is the ingredients are easy to substitute. Oil means any oil, flour means any flour, sugar means any sugar. Now it may require a bit of adjustment on the part of the cook. Don’t hesitate to add a bit more liquid, or to taste the batter and adjust the flavors before baking. It’s your pancake!!

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If you follow this recipe exactly, I can guarantee a fluffy, tender, whole wheat pancake that tastes great with or without toppings. Feel free to create your own custom version!

Vegan Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour

1 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Method:

Whisk together dry ingredients. Stir in milk and oil and mix until blended. Add more milk if batter is too thick. With a 2/3 measuring cup, scoop out batter and pour onto an oiled, pre-heated griddle (cast-iron if possible). Bake until large bubbles appear on surface of cake. Flip gently and cook other side until golden brown. Yield: 4 large pancakes.

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Tofu Scramble

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Tofu scramble, when I reflect on my day to day cooking, is probably the recipe I cook most often at home and for clients. It’s quick, easy and versatile. Delicious on its own, it also lends itself well to sandwiches, burritos, casseroles…you name it.

And this recipe is SO tasty and good it’s a staple on my  menus. I think you will agree this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the best!

Scrambled Tofu 

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Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

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What is a weekend without pancakes? This recipe takes me back to Mom’s kitchen. Almost indistinguishable from conventional cakes, they get their excellent texture from the addition of flax meal and a bit of xanthan gum.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour
1 tbsp. Baking powder
¼ tsp. Salt, optional
1 tbsp. Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Flax meal
¼ tsp. Xanthan gum
1 cup Almond milk, or any non-dairy milk
2 tbsp. Olive oil, or oconut oil, melted

1.Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2.Measure non-dairy milk and oil then add to dry ingredients, mixing just until well-blended.

3.Cook using standard pancake method.

Note: These are best on a seasoned cast-iron skillet, but any flat cooking surface will work. Yield: 4-6 cakes.

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Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

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This is my go-to morning smoothie recipe. Simple, delicious and economical, the ingredients can also be prepared ahead and frozen in individual portions.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

1/4 cup cold water (or juice, if you like it sweeter)

Big handful fresh, organic spinach leaves

1/2 teaspoon pure matcha green tea powder (I like Kiss Me Organics)

1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed ( pre-frozen if you like a colder smoothie)

1/2 fresh banana, in chunks

Method:

Blend up the spinach and water to a lovely green puree. Add the tea powder then top with fruit and another splash of cold water if needed to get things moving. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Serves 1

Orange Pound Cake (soy free)

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Once in awhile I come across a recipe that hits me like a ton of bricks and I just have to make it as soon as possible. I happily completed my mission with this delicious vegan version of sweet and citrus flavored pound cake from fellow blogger Dina over at bitesizeme.wordpress.com.

Vegan Orange Pound Cake 

More photos of this moist, delicious cake below:

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Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

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The best part about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Many gluten-free recipes read like a science project, but this one has only a couple ingredients you may not already have in the pantry:  brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour (besan).

I could hardly wait for the muffins to cool. The aroma was heavenly, like spicy gingerbread. The flavor and texture did not disappoint, either. Sweet and flavorful, these muffins make a perfect snack or a light breakfast.

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins

recipe courtesy Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 ºF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease a non-stick pan lightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed.

Drop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin and place onto middle rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Keep it Simple Smoothie

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A smoothie can be a tasty, quick and efficient delivery system for several servings of fruit and/or veggies at one time. This recipe provides an easy to prepare method using fruits and vegetables you probably have on hand. You don’t need a $400 blender either, just a humble household model will do.

Once you see how truly easy smoothie-making can be, play around with the fruits, substituting melon or kiwi for the pineapple, apple juice for orange, mango chunks for banana–you get the idea. It’s not an exact science.

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Simple Green Smoothie

Large handful fresh spinach or other dark, leafy greens (chard, kale, etc.)

1 ripe banana, fresh or frozen

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 cup orange juice

Place greens in blender with juice and puree until smooth. Add banana in chunks along with pineapple and a bit more liquid if needed ( I use ice cold water). Blend it up and enjoy!

Savory Breakfast Bake

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I woke this morning dreaming of the perfect breakfast combination in one dish: Tasty tofu scramble, smoky tempeh bacon, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and melted cheez on top of a fresh layer of sweet, moist cornbread.

I think I nailed it with this recipe. Delicious and filling–this is a great dish for a lazy Sunday brunch and the leftovers freeze well for reheating on a busy weekday.

Savory Breakfast Bake

Ingredients

Tofu Scramble:

(recipe courtesy http://www.ppk.com)

14 ounce pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. Olive oil

2 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Dried thyme

1/2 tsp. Turmeric

1 tsp. Salt

3 tbsp. water

1/4 cup Nutritional yeast

Freshly ground black pepper

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Cornbread Layer

¾ cup Soy milk
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup Corn meal
2 tbsp. Masa Harina
½ cup Apple sauce
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
½ cup Earth Balance margarine, softened
¼ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking powder
dash Baking soda
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast

Topping

4 Slices Tempeh bacon, browned and chopped

8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced

Large handful fresh Spinach

1/4 cup vegan cheese shreds

2 Scallions, thinly sliced

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Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Make the tofu scramble. Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant, but not browned. Add the crumbled tofu and sauté for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, if possible. Lower heat and combine the turmeric, cumin, thyme, salt and water in a small dish. Add to the pan and stir until well coated and water is absorbed. Off the heat, sprinkle nutritional yeast evenly over tofu and stir well, allowing to coat and be absorbed. Season with fresh ground black pepper.

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Saute mushrooms until tender and add spinach until slightly wilted.

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Meanwhile, set up the cornbread layer.

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Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate softened margarine into dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly, as in making biscuits. Mix wet ingredients well in a separate bowl, then add to dry ingredients. Fold mixture together well but gently, careful not to over mix.

Spread cornbread layer evenly over bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with tofu scramble, mushrooms and spinach. Sprinkle with cheese and scallions. Bake about 25 minutes, until cornbread is puffy and lightly browned, edges pulling away slightly from dish.

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Cool in pan about 10 minutes and cut into squares.

Serves 8

Pumpernickel Bread

headerBread baking can be a fun way to spend a few hours at home, especially during the winter months. It can also be a grounding, therapeutic practice–helping us slow down and become more present in our daily life.

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This recipe yields what my Nana would have referred to as a “good dark bread”. She was always delighted to find a fresh loaf at the bakery, the darker and more fragrant the better. As a child, I couldn’t appreciate the rich, full flavors of the rye flour, molasses and caraway. seeds. But over the years my palate has come to look forward to complexities of flavor like those in a dark coffee or imported chocolate.

This recipe is an old-world style with basic ingredients. The project time is long, about 3 hours—but, like I said, if you have the time and you’re feeling ambitious, you will be rewarded with a rich, tasty bread sturdy enough for your favorite sandwich or just a little spread of margarine or jam.

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Pumpernickel Bread

Recipe courtesy Elizabeth Yetter via About.com Bread Baking

1-1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup molasses
4 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
2 tbsp caraway seed
2-3/4 cups rye flour
3 cups bread flour, about
Preparation:

In large bowl, add warm water and yeast. Stir until yeast is dissolved.

Stir in the molasses, salt, shortening, caraway seed, and rye flour.

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Mix in 2 cups of bread flour. Slowly add the remaining bread flour until you have a dough that can be kneaded. You may or may not use the full amount of bread flour that is called for, depending on ingredients and weather.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead for 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more bread flour, a tablespoon at a time. I used a dough hook on my mixer for about 3-4 minutes.

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Place dough in greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.

Cover and let dough rise in warm place for about an hour or until double in size.

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Punch down dough. Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Punch down dough a second time. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead dough briefly.

Cut dough in half. Shape each half into small, round loaf.

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Grease baking sheet. Sprinkle sheet with cornmeal, optional.

Place both round loaves on baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes or until double in size.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on.

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Remove from oven and let loaves cool on rack.

Loaves can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for later.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

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A vegan’s life is such bliss! To enjoy the bounty of the earth, without guilt, without hesitation, with compassion. Most vegans, in my experience, are very much in love with food.

As someone who has wrestled with weight and body image issues for most of my life, I can tell you, it is so gratifying to let that go–finally. As I become more fully conscious, through my yoga and meditation practice, more in touch with and in tune with my body’s needs, I begin to have a sense of what to eat and what not to eat, based on how it makes me feel–before and after.

One thing I have realized, my body does not like a high-fat diet. But, my palate enjoys a sweet tasting chocolate treat at regular intervals. Enter, the low-fat, vegan muffin. A nice compromise when deciding whether that vegan cupcake from Whole Foods, slathered with the greasy, weirdly dry icing is really worth it.

This, I can live with. These muffins are lightly sweet and wholesome tasting. Go ahead, eat two. It’s still gonna be less calories than the alternative. Please enjoy this recipe, borrowed from Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking http://www.egglesscooking.com.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins
5.0 from 3 reviews
Print
Prep time:20 Mins
Cook time:25 Mins
Yields:8 Muffins
Very easy to bake, these vegan chocolate chip muffins will become your “go-to” vegan muffin recipe.

WET INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 CupAlmond Milk
  • 1 TeaspoonApple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 CupUnsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 CupCoconut Oil
  • 1 TeaspoonVanilla Extract
DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 CupsWhole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 CupWhite Sugar
  • 1 TablespoonBaking Powder
  • 1/2 TeaspoonSalt
ADD-ONS:
  • 1/2 CupVegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 CupChopped Nuts (Optional)
SUBSTITUTES:
PROCEDURE:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside for about 5 minutes or until it curdles.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
  4. To it add the milk mixture, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Mix together until the batter is just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  5. Scoop out about 1/3rd cup of batter in each muffin cup. Bake for about 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Mine was done in 25 minute
Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins
5.0 from 3 reviews
Print
Prep time:20 Mins
Cook time:25 Mins
Yields:8 Muffins
Very easy to bake, these vegan chocolate chip muffins will become your “go-to” vegan muffin recipe.

WET INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 CupAlmond Milk
  • 1 TeaspoonApple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 CupUnsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 CupCoconut Oil
  • 1 TeaspoonVanilla Extract
DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 CupsWhole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 CupWhite Sugar
  • 1 TablespoonBaking Powder
  • 1/2 TeaspoonSalt
ADD-ONS:
  • 1/2 CupVegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 CupChopped Nuts (Optional)
SUBSTITUTES:
PROCEDURE:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside for about 5 minutes or until it curdles.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
  4. To it add the milk mixture, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Mix together until the batter is just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  5. Scoop out about 1/3rd cup of batter in each muffin cup. Bake for about 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Mine was done in 25 minutes.

Savory Scrambled Tofu with Sausage Bacon

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This is my favorite tofu scramble recipe. It features fragrant spices: thyme and cumin as well as a bit of garlic. It’s as easy to put together on a busy workday morning as a lazy Sunday. You can find this delicious recipe and so many others from the Post Punk Kitchen by clicking here.

I like to kick up my breakfast sandwich with thin slices of my favorite vegan sausage, seared crispy brown and layered on whole grain toast with a bit of yellow mustard.

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Today I used Field Roast chipotle flavor. It’s a spicy companion to the fragrant Indian spices in the tofu scramble. This scramble stores and reheats well (that is, if you have any leftovers) for wraps, stuffing mushrooms or peppers–even sprinkling on a salad.

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Blueberry Waffles with Lemon Icing

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I enjoy cooking a special breakfast on Sundays. When I can manage the time, I pull down the waffle iron off the highest shelf in the kitchen and give it a spin. It only happens about once a year, maybe twice. That makes it even more special.

It takes a little patience but it’s definitely worth the time and effort. Frozen waffles off the shelf pale in comparison in terms of flavor–not to mention most brands are extremely high in sodium.

To keep the waffles warm and crispy I lay them directly on the oven rack at about 275 degrees while the rest of the waffles bake on the iron one at a time. I freeze any leftovers for popping in the toaster on those busy weekday mornings. It helps remind me the weekend is just a few days away.

I love a crispy waffle with nice deep pockets to hold all the yummy toppings. These waffles are perfectly sweet addition to my brunch menu.

prep

Blueberry Waffles with Lemon Icing

from “Vegan Yum Yum” by Lauren Ulm

2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3 tbsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
2/3 cup Blueberry soy yogurt
1 1/3 cups Non-dairy milk
5 tbsp. Water
1/3 cup Canola oil

1 cup fresh blueberries

Cooking spray

Lemon Icing
1 cup Powdered sugar
3 tbsp. Non-dairy milk
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1/2 lemon Lemon zest

What not to do--overfill
What not to do–overfill

Method:

1. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, except for the blueberries.
3. Preheat your waffle iron.:
4. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in the berries.
5. Spray your waffle iron with a little bit of cooking oil spray and make a test waffle. Follow the instructions or your preferred directions for your waffle maker.
6. To make the lemon icing, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice and zest until smooth.
7. Recipe yields 10 waffles if you use 1/2 cup batter per waffle.

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Blueberry Pancakes Stuffed with Tofu Scramble and Tempeh Chorizo

This was a dinner idea that popped into my head during the cool down phase of my workout tonight. Yes, I was really hungry!

It got me thinking…how I really enjoy tofu in its many forms, today more than ever. Tofu has this chameleon-like quality that lends itself so well to so many applications.

The thing about tofu–I never really appreciated it until I quit eating meat. Not until my palate adjusted to a level of sensitivity where it could pick up on subtle flavors and textures did I truly begin to enjoy what has become a staple in my menus.

This recipe begins a short series I will call “Turning on to Tofu”. I will be sharing over the coming posts, some of my favorite uses for this versatile food.

For the above recipe, I took a lovely homemade vegan blueberry pancake ( I always keep a few in the freezer), warmed it in the microwave and rolled it out with a rolling pin to flatten it a bit. I scooped in a good portion of fresh scrambled tofu (Post Punk Kitchen’s recipe) and a spoonful of tempeh chorizo (recipe from Sexy Vegan).

I rolled it up like a burrito and served it with a little real maple syrup. It was delicious!