Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tofu Breakfast Sandwiches

Back in the day I used to love egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches. There are times when I crave that breakfast-y yum and I've found the perfect solution. Tofu sandwiches. Super easy, quick and delicious. Although these make for a great breakfast food, feel free to enjoy at any time of the day.

Tofu Breakfast Sandwiches

  • 4, 1/4" slices of extra firm tofu 
  • garlic powder
  • tumeric
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 slices sprouted whole grain bread
Heat a large skillet over high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray. Season one side of your tofu slices with the spices, I am usually very generous with the tumeric and then go light on the others. No measuring needed here, just go ahead and sprinkle it on, eyeballing as you go based on your own taste preferences. Once pan is hot (shouldn't take long) place each tofu slice seasoned side down on the pan. Turn down the heat to medium/medium high. Now season the second side of your tofu. You'll want to cook each side of tofu until it's a nice golden color, but be careful not to burn it. Toast your bread slices and when the tofu is done, arrange it on your bread to make a perfect sandwich. 

Now, keep in mind this is for a basic sandwich. My favorite way to have this is with a generous helping of cheddar Daiya all melty in between the slices of tofu. I also enjoy adding some vegan bacon strips from time to time. 

Here's a handy list of other possibly topping and spices:

-vegan bacon
-tomato slices
-cheddar Daiya 
-sauteed onions

-chili powder
-smoked salt
-Old Bay
-smoked paprika

Other possible sandwich vehicles
-whole wheat wrap
-corn tortilla
-english muffin

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Banana Cupcakes w/ Almond Buttercream

I'm sure you're wondering why I would make the same cupcake twice. Well, frankly, I couldn't decide which combination I wanted in the first place. Banana cake or almond butter cake? I just knew that I wanted banana and almond butter in cupcake form. So I went ahead and made 2 batches of cupcakes with opposite cake/frosting combinations. In the end I couldn't decide which ones I actually liked better! So I'll let you all be the judge.

Banana Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat
Preheat oven to 375º F. Line/grease cupcake pan/muffin tin.
Combine flour baking powder & soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, cream bananas. Add oil, almond milk, vanilla and sugar. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, combine well. Pour into cupcake pan and bake for about 16 minutes.

Almond Butter Frosting
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar
With a hand mixer or stand mixer cream together Earth Balance and almond butter. Slowly add sugar a little at a time. You might not need the full 1/2 cup, so keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Almond Butter Cupcakes w/ Banana Buttercream

Since my favorite place to grab some noms, Sticky Fingers, has just won Cupcake Wars I thought this would be a good time to put up my cupcake recipe series.

I made banana bread one day and was enjoying it slathered with almond butter. I love the two flavors together, a kind of rich, sweet, creamy, nuttiness. I began to think that I would really fancy a cupcake with the same flavors. So I started playing...

Almond Butter Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup oil
Preheat oven to 375º F. Grease cupcake pan, or line with liners.
In a glass measuring cup vigorously whisk together the almond milk and flax. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder & soda and salt. In a separate bowl mix almond butter, brown sugar vanilla and oil until well combined. Pour the milk mixture and sugar mixture into flour and gently combine. Pour batter into cupcake pan, filling each 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick (or in my case, a skewer) inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before topping with banana buttercream.

*Make sure these cupcakes cool off completely before you handle them. Otherwise, they will crumble and fall apart. These babies are delicate!

Banana Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Using a hand mixer or stand mid mixer, cream Earth Balance and banana. Slowly add sugar until desired consistency is reached.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meal Planning Continues (subtitled, Problems in the Kitchen)

In the event you are keeping up with my meal planning via Happy Herbivore, here is the latest...

(These recipes are all from the website, so feel free to join in this week!)

Monday- Polenta Pizza
Tuesday- Chickpea Tacos
Wednesday- Oyster Mushroom Scampi
Thursday- Yam Falafels
Friday- Crispy Chickenless Nuggets w/ Baked Onion Rings

Yam Falafel w/ Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Now a quick little disclaimer. As I was getting started tonight I decided to veer away for the original plan. As I was looking at the recipe for the polenta pizza, I noticed the polenta part is supposed to be refrigerated for an hour before cooking. I decided this would take too long and we'd be eating too late. Plus I just got back from a Bikram Yoga class and I was starving. So I settled on making yam falafels instead (based on ingredients I had and didn't have at the moment, read: we forgot the dried chickpeas in this week's shopping, kind of a problem).

I was feeling good about this decision at first, and was really excited to try this recipe. As I went along I came across my first problem. My sweet potatoes were huge. Really, like 10 pounds each, and bulbous. They didn't even fit in the steamer/pot. Which bring me to the second problem, I was cooking 2 sweet potatoes instead of the 1 the recipe calls for. Why did I do this? I have no idea. Reading too quickly through the recipe, I suppose. 

So at this point, I'm trying to steam a couple of mammoth sweet potatoes, which is taking an hour instead of the usual, oh, 5 minutes it should take. I got so annoyed that the damn potatoes weren't cooking fast enough, so I just yanked them out of the pot and started trying to break them up to mash. Obviously this was impossible, because the insides were not cooked all the way. So here I am hacking away like a crazy person at the outsides of mutant sweet potatoes, making a mess everywhere and burning my hands in the process. Finally I got enough potato to mash and continued on. The falafel balls were made and ready for the oven. (Here comes problem # 3.) This is the first time in this entire process that I notice that these need to bake for 40 minutes. Ugh. I've been cooking for 2 hours and at this point I'm not even hungry anymore. But, into the oven they go.

My poor massacred sweet potatoes, it's like a vegetable murder scene.

In the end, they were delicious, so it was worth it. But let this be a lesson to all of you. Read a recipe before you embark on an unknown journey in the kitchen. And my lesson, stick to your gut feeling. We could have been eating polenta pizza about 2 1/2 hours ago.

After tonight I think I've realized not only should you meal plan around you are feeling like eating, or around what ingredients you may already have, but also around how much time you have.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kitchen Staples

There are certain items we all always have available in our own kitchens. I've been wanting to share with you some of my favorite/reliable kitchen staples. I hope this list is especially helpful for those of you who are new to plant based eating, or are thinking about changing to plant based eating. Of course, this list only reflects my kitchen, but I encourage all to use it as a guideline/for ideas/as a shopping list, or whatever.


  • Earth Balance Soy milk, unsweetened
    • Yes, I make a good amount of my own nut milk. But sometimes I crave the cold refreshing taste of soy milk. I love this brand as they use non GMO, USA grown, organic soybeans. The taste is smooth and not overly "beany" and it does not curdle coffee.
  • Earth Balance Margarine tub, organic & Earth Balance sticks
    • Best vegan option for butter. I use the tub for everyday basics, and the sticks for baking. They also make a soy-free option.
  • Various oils, Spectrum brand
    • Peanut, Toasted Sesame, Flax, etc...
  • Organic Tofu, Naysoa brand
    • extra firm, firm and silken
  • Daiya - both cheddar and mozzarella style
    • I don't use vegan cheese often, but when I do, I use Daiya. I keep it in stock just so I can have it at hand for a grilled cheese emergency. It freezes well, so don;t worry about opening it and not using a lot.
  • Bragg's Liquid Aminos
    • We were just having a discussion on how we should buy Bragg's by the case because we go through it so quickly...
  • Maple Syrup
  • Liquid Chlorophyll - just try it...

  • Flours - all purpose, whole wheat pastry, whole wheat, chickpea, oat & corn meal, among others
    • purchased in bulk 
  • Ground Flax Seeds, Spectrum Brand
  • Various nuts - almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts
    • purchased in bulk, store in freezer to prevent oils from spoiling
  • Coffee, whole beans
    • Organic and local from my co-op. Even though we've both cut back, we always have it ready to go in the freezer.
  • Rolled oats - bought in bulk
  • Fresh Ginger

  • Nut butters 
    • Earth Balance brand peanut butter and almond butter, as well as soy nut butter
  • Nutritional Yeast
    • Although, I do not use nooch in everything I make, but I do like to have it available at all times. Bought in bulk.
  • Rice - bought in bulk
    • Short grain brown & arborio
  • Other grains as need, in bulk
    • barley, quinoa, bulgur, millet, etc...
  • Pasta - all kinds, see previous post on this topic
  • Mori-Nu tofu - firm, organic
  • Popcorn kernels, organic - bought in bulk (we go through this a lot)
  • Liquid Smoke - one small bottle should last a long time
  • Steel cut oats - bought in bulk
  • Seaweed 
    • Nori sheets, Wakame, Arame, Kelp granules
  • Olive Oil - we keep a large tin canister stored at all times
  • Distilled white vinegar - largest bottle I can find, used for cleaning

  • Cornstarch
  • Baking Powder & Soda
  • shredded coconut - bought in bulk
  • Coconut Oil - Spectrum brand
  • Coconut sugar crystals - low glycemic index, expensive but used sparingly 
  • Sucanat - used in place of sugar/brown sugar
  • Dry Active Yeast packets
  • Cooking Spray - Spectrum brand
  • Molasses
  • Pure Vanilla Extract

We go through a ton of produce weekly, and it varies by season/menu, but these are just a few items we always have around.
  • Onions - Vidalia & red
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Lemons
  • Bananas - keep the super ripe ones in the freezer!
  • Potatoes

This is not even a complete list, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meal Plan

I mentioned that I've been using Happy Herbivore to plan my dinners. Here's what we've had thus far, and what's to come...

Cheater Pad Thai
Tuesday (2/22): Roasted Veggie Frittata w/ Herbed Home Fries
Wednesday: Mexican Chorizo w/ brown rice and Spicy Greens
Thursday: Hippie Loaf w/ Rustic Yam Fries and kale chips (oops forgot to make the kale chips)
Friday: got lazy and ordered pizza, but planned on Creamy Carrot Soup w/ roasted broccoli
Saturday: dinner out
Sunday: pasta

Monday (2/28): Creamy Carrot Soup w/ roasted broccoli
Tuesday: Buddha's Delight w/ tofu and veggie lettuce wraps
Wednesday: Cheater Pad Thai w/ sesame salad
Thursday: Chickpea Noodle Soup w/ whole grain baguette
Friday: Fettucini Alfredo w/ spinach salad

Check out the Happy Herbivore website for some of these and other recipes. Might as well do yourself a favor and just pick up the book!

Getting Into Shape!

Inspired by a week long "weight loss" challenge (myself not included), and another week long sickness, I decided to embark on a month long "fitness challenge". This does not mean losing weight, but instead getting into shape, so to speak. What this means for me is getting back to basics in regards to food, cutting back on (or out of) sweets and sugar, dropping the coffee thing and finally getting my ass back into shape with yoga classes.

What I've decided to do to keep things interesting is make dinners exclusively from the Happy Herbivore book. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Happy Herbivore focuses on low fat and no added fat recipes. Luckily for me our dinners automatically become my lunch, so that's covered. Breakfast is the usual, oatmeal and some fruit, or a green smoothie. (And lots of green smoothies for snacks throughout the day, especially after yoga.) This is week 2 of my Happy Herbivore menu, which I'll have posted up soon.

Speaking of yoga, for me, the most successful way to exercise is with Bikram Yoga. I've been practicing Bikram on and off since 2007. It is a series of 26 postures, done in a heated room, for 90 minutes. It sounds intense (and can be!) but it is an excellent workout. Most importantly for me, it helps in strengthening your lungs, which is really what I am working on. Although everyone has to make their own choice in what kind of exercise is right for them, I do highly recommend Bikram to everyone. (And if you are in the DC area, do check out Bikram Yoga Bethesda. They are awesome there, by far the best in DC.)

What are you all doing to get yourselves into shape?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Since I've been talking a lot about pasta, I thought I would do a quick mention of a new favorite of mine. I'm routinely in search of an alternative to plain white pasta. Not that I don't enjoy it, oh no. I just feel like I want a little more bang for my buck, so to speak, nutritionally.

I've taken a liking to Barilla's whole grain pasta and the Whole Foods brand whole wheat pasta is high on the favorite scale, but recently we discovered einkorn pasta. The pasta tastes great, not grainy at all, with a subtle earthy-ness. Go ahead and give it a whirl!

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