Tuesday, May 30, 2017

broccoli pancakes with cheese sauce

This recipe is one of my favorite throwbacks and the discovery of a plant-based egg deserves all the credit for bringing it back to life. 

As many of you know, I didn't always follow a plant-based diet. I became a vegetarian at age eight and didn't make my first attempt at going full plant-based until about eight years after that at one of the least opportune times imaginable. It was around my sixteenth birthday, and in the middle of a massive kitchen remodel, that I decided to go all the way. 

With our oven and stove out of commission, and only a microwave and toaster oven at my disposal, you can imagine I found my new diet challenging to say the least. Instead of being able to cook anything from scratch, I spent hours in the grocery store scouring the ingredient lists of packaged food for anything that would work. I remember standing in an aisle reading the back of one granola bar box after the other being so confused why powdered milk was an essential component of each one of them. Within just a few weeks, I was back to eating dairy and eggs, which stuck for some time. 

Fast forward to post college when I was living in Palo Alto and working at my first full-time job. Facing the reality of a largely sedentary day spent in front of a computer, I quickly realized that unfortunately carbs could no longer be the answer to every meal.

While experimenting in my kitchen to create lighter options, I discovered these broccoli pancakes. They're super easy to make, and with broccoli as the main ingredient and only a couple tablespoons of flour, are the perfect filling but healthy option for any weeknight dinner. 

It wasn't until I stopped cooking with eggs about four years ago that I also sadly stopped making these pancakes. After trying all the vegan egg replacer options at the grocery store, as well as homemade recipes like flax eggs, I found that nothing seemed to bind these pancakes quite like the real deal. 

Lucky for me, advances in plant-based food are happening every day and we finally have a fully plant-based egg I can get behind. I discovered VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart when my mom included a carton in my Easter basket this year (love that she still does this even though I'm in my late 20's) and found that they can be used interchangeably in cooking and baking, as well as scrambled up solo. The first recipe I made with VeganEgg was these broccoli pancakes and I couldn't be happier with the result. All the ingredients bind together just like they should and the flavors remained the same, with the broccoli and spices in center stage.

Whether you follow a plant-based diet or are just looking to discover a new delicious recipe, these crispy pancakes with cashew cheese sauce won't disappoint. 

Ingredients (serves 2-4):
Broccoli Pancakes:
- 4 cups broccoli florets (or one pre-cut bag from Trader Joe's)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 VeganEgg
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Lemon wedges for serving

Cheese Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
- 4 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- About 1 cup warm water

Prepare Broccoli Pancakes: Steam your broccoli until tender, not mushy, using whichever method you prefer. If you buy the TJ's bagged broccoli florets you can steam them in the bag. Allow it to cool slightly and then roughly chop into small pieces that are recognizable, but small enough that you could form into a mound.

In the bottom of a large bowl, make your vegan egg by whisking 2 tablespoons egg powder with 1/2 cup cold water. Add the garlic powder, red pepper flakes, baking powder, flour, salt, and pepper. Then, add the chopped broccoli and stir to combine

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Then, scoop a two-tablespoon sized mound of broccoli batter into the pan, flattening the top with the back of your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving at least an inch between pancakes. Once browned (about 2 minutes), flip and cook until the other side is equally browned (about another 2 minutes). Repeat with additional batter, adding more oil if needed, until complete. Top with more red pepper flakes and serve with a squeeze of lemon and cheese sauce.

Prepare Cheese Sauce:
Add cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, chili powder, olive oil, and salt, to a food processor. While ingredients whiz together, slowly drizzle in warm water until you've reached a smooth and creamy consistency (you may need a bit more or less than 1 cup).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

tofu scramble breakfast tacos

So. Here's the thing. Breakfast is the worst meal of the day.

I know I'm in the minority with that opinion, but hear me out. For some reason, somewhere, a long time ago, someone decided that half of all foods deemed breakfast appropriate should be sweet. Maybe it was because sugar provides an instant, all be it short lived and artificial, burst of energy that people are craving in the morning. Call me crazy, but I find stuffing yourself with a mountain of pancakes filled with chocolate chips, drizzled with maple syrup, and then dusted with powdered sugar to be one of the least likely ways to ensure a good day ahead.

On the flip side (no pun intended), we've got the other section of the breakfast menu that's heavy on the eggs, bacon, and sausage. And I mean heaaaavy. So if you're not completely into desserts masquerading as breakfast or starting the day already feeling weighed down, you can feel a little stuck.

On weekdays, my typical go-to AM meal is avocado toast. It's easy, simple, filling, healthy, and delicious. However, on weekends I'm craving something that feels a little more special, is plant-based friendly, and won't send me into sugar shock before I've even gotten it together enough to change out of my pajamas. Like all other recipes I share here, it's also got to be easy and it's got to taste damn good.

Enter Tofu Scramble Breakfast Tacos.

Extra firm, high-protein tofu gets crumbled up and sauteed with a combo of spices and tomatoes before it's piled into crisp corn tortillas and topped with rich chunks of avo (all breakfasts need avo, amiright?), fire-roasted tomato salsa, and fresh cilantro. Guys. Are you hungry yet?

I personally feel that the best way to approach breakfast, the most inferior meal of the day, is to treat it like lunch (aka the best meal of the day), while still giving it a breakfasty spin so your internal clock can chill. That's why these tacos are the perfect answer.

It's also part of my personal philosophy that pretty much anything tastes good between a taco shell. And when you take something that's already good enough to eat solo and then put it in a taco? Mind. Blown. That's what's going on here. If you're going low carb, this tofu scramble is an insanely good breakfast on its own. But if you're going for, it's Saturday morning and I've got some Bravo to catch up on on the couch in my PJs before heading out to meet my friends for what's obviously going to be the best weekend ever, then pour yourself a mimosa to go along with your tacos and enjoy your easy, delicious breakfast that's chock full of weekend fuel.

Ingredients (serves 3-6):
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 12oz container of extra firm tofu, drained*
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
- 6 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup fire roasted tomato salsa (I get mine from TJ's)
- 2 small avocados, sliced
- Fresh cilantro
- 1 lime

1. Drizzle olive oil into sautee pan before crumbling tofu in with your hands. Mix in tomatoes, spices, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes until slightly browned.
2. Meanwhile, toast tortillas in a dry small pan over medium heat until crisp and slightly browned on each side.
3. To assemble tacos, add tofu scramble, salsa, and avocado to each taco shell. Top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve immediately.

* I used Trader Joe's extra firm high protein tofu, which isn't packed in water. No problem if you are using extra firm tofu that is packed in water, just know that you will need to cook it for about 10-15 minutes instead of 7 and the end result may not appear as brown as it does in these photos. That being said, I make it this way all the time and it's absolutely delicious!

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