Breakfast

A la mode: Super Fruit Bowl

Super Fruit Bowl

A la mode:

adjective
1. in or according to the fashion.
2. Cookery. (of pie or other dessert) served with a portion of ice cream, often as a topping: apple pie à la mode.

Food in bowls is very fashionable these days. Everywhere I go, I see people enjoying food from bowls. Burrito bowls. Poke bowls. Grain bowls. Noodle bowls. And now, Acai bowls. I’ve been seeing new businesses in the area serving super fruit bowls and wondered what the facination is all about. I checked out some their menus and was shocked to see that the average cost of an acai bowl is $10. Why?! Acai berries come from Brazil and are very perishable. You can get acai berries in the U.S. in pouches either pureed or in powder form. According to WebMD, “some studies show that acai fruit pulp is even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries.” And then they go on to say that “acai berries have no known health benefit that’s different from similar fruits.” Sounds like a lot of over-priced hype to me. Before I even had an “official” acai bowl I sent away for a package of powdered acai thinking that would be the most affordable and more sensible form of this super fruit. I wanted to create a “knock-off” version of my own. I was excited when my package arrived. Now what do I do to magically transform a powder into something super? I decided to use the acai powder as a supplement to frozen mixed berries. As frozen berries tend to be on the tart side I sweetened the puree with a bit of honey. I used just one-half teaspoon of acai powder to one-half cup of fruit and pureed it in my Blendtec twister jar. To assemble the bowl I placed a good amount of the berry puree in the bottom of a large glass, then added some soy yogurt, bananas, mangoes and low-fat granola. You can personalize these super fruit bowls by using different fruit in the puree or as topping ingredients. You could also replace the yogurt with chia pudding. Instead of granola, you could sprinkle on muesli, seeds, chopped nuts, dried fruit or coconut. The other day Bruce treated me to an acai bowl . While it was nice getting out for a special treat it turns out that my knock-off version is more flavorful than what they’re serving in the stores. Don’t be lured by the promise that one “super” food is superior to other, more affordable food. Make this “knock-off” version of those pricey acai bowls and make a healthy fashion statement of your own. . Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Super Fruit Bowl

This recipe makes 1/2 cup of puree, so you may want to double, triple or quadruple the ingredients.

½ cup of frozen mixed berries
½ teaspoon acai powder
½ to 1 teaspoon honey, maple syrup or agave

Add all ingredients to blender and process just until smooth but still frozen. If it comes out too soft, simply place in the freezer for a few minutes.

Toppings:

Granola
Bananas
Mangoes
Berries
Coconut
Nuts
Seeds

10 Apr 2018

Imagine This: Chunky Monkey Waffles

Chunky Monkey Waffles

One of the first plant-based recipe books I ever bought is The Forks Over Knives Cookbook. Second to their Broccoli and Peanut Noodles recipe I’ve made their Chunky Monkey Smoothie most often. The smoothie contains almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter and dates. Very simple and healthy. This morning I wanted to have pancakes for breakfast but didn’t feel like making a fuss or a big mess. So I went to the freezer and got the next best thing to pancakes — a box of Trader Joe’s vegan waffles. Last week I came up with a “cheater” blueberry syrup and wondered how I could top that. It started by layering chopped bananas between the waffles. Hmmmmm . . . if there are two things that go nicely with bananas it’s chocolate and peanut butter. I mixed together pure maple syrup with chunky peanut butter and cocoa powder, warmed it in the microwave and poured it over the banana and waffle stack. (The ratio went something like this: two parts syrup, one part peanut butter and one part cocoa powder.)  I placed a strawberry on top just for fun which got me to thinking that this would be nice with strawberries in place of the bananas. What about other fruit? Pears would nice with a chocolate-almond butter sauce and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Peaches might be nice with chocolate and hazelnuts. You can switch up your sauce by using different spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or even chili powder. So while I have no recipe to offer you today I can give you some guidance sprinkled with a spoonful of imagination. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

11 Mar 2018

Trial & Error: Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

Banana Pancakes & Blueberry Syrup

The other day I experimented with my pumpkin pancake recipe and decided to replace all of the whole wheat pastry flour with oat flour. Luckily I had already eaten breakfast because the pancakes were less than awesome. They took what seemed like forever to cook and were still gummy on the inside. I don’t know about you, but I like my pancakes on the fluffy side. It would be nice to understand how different flours perform in baked goods, but I probably need to go to culinary arts school to learn about that. For now, it’s just trial and error.

I was still on a pancake kick and went back to basics, this time with some over-ripe bananas I had hanging out the fridge. I used whole wheat pastry flour, but you can use all-purpose or whole wheat flour if you like. I’ve found that the presence of fat in baked goods improves the texture, so I used canola oil in this recipe. You can substitute it with almond butter or simply eliminate the oil altogether. If the bananas are very sweet you can even omit the sugar. Rather than adding blueberries to the batter, I made a “cheater” blueberry syrup by mixing maple syrup with Trader Joe’s Reduced Sugar Blueberry Preserves. These pancakes came out thick, light and tender and the blueberry syrup added the right amount of sweetness to the stack. Try these Banana Pancakes and you can’t go wrong. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Banana Pancakes

Makes 12 to 16 pancakes

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons sugar (optional)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
2 large over-ripe bananas
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 Tablespoon almond butter or canola oil

Whisk the flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, and nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl.

Grease a non-stick griddle with canola oil and over medium heat. Alternately, heat an electric griddle on high (I don’t grease mine).

Place milk, vinegar, bananas, flax meal and almond butter or canola oil in blender and process until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix them until the batter is totally smooth.

Use a ladle to portion the batter onto your griddle. Once you see bubbles at the top of your pancakes and their edges begin to turn golden, they’re ready to flip. Flip the pancakes and allow them to cook for a few minutes on the other side.

Serve the pancakes with maple syrup or fruit topping.

“Cheater” Blueberry Syrup: for every tablespoon of blueberry preserves, use two tablespoons of maple syrup

 

03 Mar 2018

Dropping Acid: Orange Fennel Smoothie

Orange Fennel Smoothie

Orange Fennel Smoothie

Orange Fennel Smoothie

It’s 15 degrees where I live. The last thing on my mind should be making a smoothie on a day like today. (A hot rum toddy is probably more appropriate.) Any way, this post was prompted by two events. The first was the latest kitchen accessory that I got for Christmas, the Blendtec Go attachment for my blender. It’s pretty cool in that you can make a smoothie and take it to go right in it’s own container. What’s even cooler is that you can insert a 16 oz. plastic Solo cup into the jar and have a smaller smoothie to go.The other inspiration was my wanting to include more-alkaline and less-acid promoting foods into my diet. This desire was triggered by the disheartening results of a recent bone density test I recently received. There’s quite a bit of research about how high levels of acid in the body can be linked to cancer and kidney problems, but also osteoporosis. Don’t trust me, do the research yourself and do what feels right for you.

So, in the middle of baking some brownies and pumpkin scones today I was cutting up a fennel bulb to have with lunch. I was just about ready to toss the fennel fronds when I got this idea. Why not include them in a smoothie? Not really a green smoothie, so I’ll call it a “Clean Smoothie.” The thought the sweetness of oranges, pineapple juice and honey would blend nicely with the zesty licorice flavor of the fennel. The result was a light green smoothie with a bright taste. Now, that’s a healthy (and legal) way to drop some acid. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Orange Fennel Smoothie

1 cup crushed ice
2 large oranges
½ cup chopped fennel fronds
1 cup pineapple juice
1 to 2 tablespoons honey or agave

Zest the oranges, then peel and separate into segments. Discard the peel. Place all ingredients, including the zest, into a high-powered blender in the order according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Process until smooth.

10 Jan 2018

Don’t Toss That Pumpkin: Punkin’ Chunkin’ Topping

Yogurt Pumpkin Parfait

It’s funny how a recipe can remind me of something totally unrelated to food, which leads me to how I came up with Punkin’ Chunkin’ Topping as the name for this recipe. When we first moved to Delaware our neighbor told us about the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Competition that was held every fall. People would design large catapult or sling-shot devises that would propel pumpkins through the air. The team that launched the farthest was the winner. Last year a woman suffered a serious (but thankfully not life-threatening) head injury after being hit by a flying pumpkin and that was the end of any punkin’ chunkin’ in Delaware. Today’s recipe was prompted by some pumpkins on our back porch that managed to survive the first frost. I figured I should use them up before they start to turn soft. I thought about Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that for breakfast? Since I always have homemade soy yogurt on hand I would use that, laced with pumpkin butter, as the “creamy” element of this recipe. For the topping I cooked pumpkin cubes with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a non-stick skillet. The result was slightly sweet, delicately spiced chunks of pumpkin. Yes! You can can have pumpkin pie for breakfast. It’s even yummy enough to serve as dessert. So, don’t toss that pumpkin from your porch; use it to cook up some Punkin’ Chunkin’ Topping for yogurt, puddings or frozen desserts. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Topping for Yogurt

1 baby pumpkin (about 8” diameter)
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar
Pumpkin pie spice to taste

If using a larger pumpkin, measure out about 4 cups of pumpkin cubes.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Peel the skin. Cut the pumpkin into 1” cubes. Place in a large non-stick skillet and toss with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Cook the pumpkin on medium-high heat until tender, adding water as needed to prevent sticking. You can turn the heat on high for a few minutes to caramelize the pumpkin. Let cool to room temperature and serve over non-dairy yogurt or frozen dessert

 

 

03 Dec 2017

Kitchen Kids: Breakfast Quinoa Pudding Bowl

Breakfast Quinoa Bowl

Like many first-born children, my oldest brother, Tom, was very independent. I remember Mom telling the story of waking up one morning to find him making breakfast on the stove. He was about five years old. Luckily there was no harm done. I remember during my brief stint as a high school Home Economics teacher having my students make pancakes. It was a mess. After that experience, I’m not so sure I’d trust a five-year old in the kitchen. All kidding aside, there are some recipes that children can tackle under the watchful eye of Mom or Dad. My Breakfast Quinoa Pudding Bowl is one of them.

I was in the mood for rice pudding this morning. What I like about rice pudding is that it’s creamy, sweet and sultry all at the same time. I also woke up very hungry today and didn’t want to wait for a pot of rice to cook. I happened to make a batch of quinoa for dinner last night that was idling in the fridge. This was starting to sound interesting . . . creamy, sweet, sultry and . . . nutty. Why not? I added some quinoa, soy milk, sugar, arrowroot, vanilla and cinnamon into a ramekin and cooked it in the microwave for about 1-1/2 minutes. I added the arrowroot to help thicken the milk and give it that “pudding” mouthfeel. I had some cooked apples and raisins in the fridge and decided to spoon that over the pudding just before serving.  Some chopped banana or mango would be a nice addition as well. This was so simple to make that I just might trust a five-year old to make this. (Place the bowl on a plate before putting in the microwave and make sure they use oven mitts when removing it.) It is also so tasty that I trust your family will enjoy it. The nice thing is that it comes together so easily that you can make it as a quick weekday breakfast, a last-minute dessert or even a late-night snack. Make a few Breakfast Quinoa Pudding Bowls this morning and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Breakfast Quinoa Pudding

¼ cup cooked quinoa
2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (see note)
½ teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
Few drops of vanilla extract
Cinnamon
Favorite fruit for topping

Place all ingredients in a one-cup ramekin or bowl. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and serve with chopped fruit.

Note: You can use more milk as desired. For every 2 tablespoons of milk, use ½ teaspoon of arrowroot and adjust sugar as you like.

09 Oct 2017

Dessert for Breakfast? Apple Pie Ala Mode Yogurt

Apple Pie Ala Mode Yogurt

Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? When it’s soy yogurt and baked apples you can have dessert any time your heart (and yearnings) desire. I’m going to deviate from my routine of publishing a recipe and just share some ideas that hopefully will inspire you to create your own recipes.

I took two Gala apples, a handful of raisins and a sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon and cooked them in a non-stick skillet. If the apple variety you choose doesn’t let out too much liquid, you will want to add water a little at a time until the apples are soft but not mushy. Likewise, if you use a tart apple, like a Granny Smith, you might want to add more brown sugar. You can even omit the sugar if desired. When the apples are almost done I like to turn the heat up high to get them caramelized and syrupy. I spooned the warm apples over home-made soy yogurt and sprinkled some walnuts and granola on top. Two apples make enough for three to four servings of yogurt. If you want to make a larger quantity to enjoy all week long, I recommend baking the apples in the oven in a square or oblong glass baking pan. If you want to make your own soy yogurt, see my previous post. With all that goodness going on you can have dessert whenever you like. Now you can enjoy dessert for breakfast with this Apple Pie Ala Mode Yogurt. Thanks for being Vegi-curious day.

 

 

 

13 Sep 2017

Saving the Best for Last: Tofu Breakfast Bowl

Tofu Breakfast Bowl

On the last day of our Vermont vacation in July we had breakfast at the August First Bakery. Looking back, I wish we would have gone there on the first day of the trip as they had a few vegan options on the menu. Not only that, they bake delicious breads and pastries in their bakery next door. They have a tofu dish on the menu that they call a scramble bowl, but it’s not a scramble at all. A tofu scramble is supposed to mimic scrambled eggs and is usually mashed up and somewhat greasy. The tofu bowl that they make had large pieces of curry-seasoned tofu, home fries, kale and tomatoes. It was very tasty and filling, yet not too greasy. I came up with my own version for this Tofu Breakfast Bowl. I cooked everything in an air fryer. (You can make it in a non-stick skillet, but you might need a little oil to prevent the tofu from sticking to the pan.) You may want to make this on the weekend as it does require some time to get it all together. I recommend seasoning the tofu and letting it sit for as long as possible, so you might want to do this step either the night before or while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew. I soaked the cut potatoes because that’s what the owner’s manual for my air fryer suggests, but you can probably skip this step. I cooked the ingredients in batches according to how long they need to cook. I started with the bell peppers and onions as they have similar cooking qualities. This also allowed some time for the potatoes to soak. Then I crisped the potatoes. I saved the tofu for last to allow it to absorb the curry seasoning for as long as possible. After the individual components were done, everything went back in the air fryer to blister the tomatoes and let all the flavors mingle. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort. This method allows each ingredient to shine in its own way without the need for any oil. This dish is spicy, savory, subtly sweet and, oh, so tasty. Any leftovers can be refreshed right in the air fryer for about 5 minutes. We may have saved the best for last on our vacation, but at least it was better late than never. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Tofu Breakfast Bowl

2 potatoes cut into 1” pieces
Salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder

1 lb. extra firm tofu
Curry powder or your favorite seasoning mix
1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (optional)

1 bell pepper, cut into ½” pieces
1 onion, cut into ½” pieces

1 cup cherry tomatoes left whole

Soak the potatoes in water for about 30 minutes. Drain well and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Set aside.

Remove the tofu from the water and pat dry. Cut into large pieces – cut into 4 slices, then cut each slice into 8 pieces. Place in bowl and sprinkle a good amount of curry powder or other seasoning. Stir gently to coat. Let the tofu sit for as long as possible.

Set an air fryer to 400F. Place the onions and bell pepper into the basket and cook until the vegetables start to soften and turn brown. Remove from air fryer and place in a large serving bowl.

Place the potatoes into the basket and cook until tender and crisp. Remove from air fryer and place in the bowl with vegetables.

Place the tofu into the basket and cook until browned. If you want a glazey exterior you can remove the tofu before completely cooked, toss with maple syrup and then return to the fryer for about 5 minutes. Remove from air fryer and place in the bowl with vegetables. Add cherry tomatoes and mix gently. Return everything to the air fryer and cook until the tomatoes get soft and their skins blister. Remove and serve immediately.

Note: to make in a non-stick skillet, simply brown each component separately then mix everything together to heat before serving.

02 Sep 2017

Road Trip: Smoked Shitakes, Avocado Toast and More Adventures

Avocado Toast & Smoked Shitakes

Sometimes my recipes feel like a road trip. There may be a detour along the way or sometimes I just take the scenic route. It may be a long and winding road, but eventually I get to my destination. Last week I experimented with making smoked shitake mushrooms to replicate the flavor of bacon. Okay, it’s not bacon, but it did come out smoky, slightly sweet and salty . . . and tasty. Since I’m not a tofu scramble kind of girl and I’m quite happy with my E.L.T. sandwiches, I wasn’t sure what to do with the smoked shitakes. I packed them up and put them in the fridge. Every time I opened that refrigerator door I got a whiff of smokey goodness coming from the container of mushrooms. Fast forward a few days. We took a road trip last the weekend to Old Town Alexandria and had breakfast at Le Pain Quouidien. (BTW, this is an excellent place for plant foodies.) I ordered the avocado toast, which seems to be trendy these days. Actually, I think I might be on the tail-end of this trend, but better late than never. The avocado toast was quite nice and thought I’d like to try it at home. And then I remembered the smoked shitakes. And the hard-cooked egg taste of black salt. Hmmmm. I toasted a slice of whole grain bread, spread on some smashed avocado, a sprinkle of black salt, a few slices of avocado, several slivers of smoked shitakes and some cherry tomatoes. Every bite was a little bit creamy, crunchy, smoky, sweet and salty all at once. I had more smoked shitakes remaining and figured I’d be eating avocado toast all week, but I’m fueling up for some more adventure. Be sure to check back for a Smoked Shitake-Cashew Sauce (great on potatoes and veggies) and a Creamy Carbonara Pasta. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Smoked Shitakes

Note: You will get a better flavor by smoking the mushrooms in a stove-top smoker. Instructions are provided below the recipe.

10 oz. shitake mushrooms
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ teaspoon vegetable oil

Remove stems from mushrooms. Slice mushrooms into strips about 1/4 inch thick. (See instructions below for using a stove-top smoker.) *Toss with brown sugar, soy sauce, pepper and liquid smoke. Coat a non-stick skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are about the same texture as cooked bacon and have a glaze-like coating. Remove and cool completely. Place in covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.

To smoke the mushrooms in a stove-top smoker:

Smoke the mushrooms BEFORE proceeding with the recipe instructions after the asterisk.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions and smoke the mushrooms for 10 to 15 minutes. You only need a about 2 tablespoons of fine chips or a small chunk of smoking wood. You can taste the mushrooms after 10 minutes and if not smoky enough, continue smoking for another 5 minutes. Proceed with the recipe after the asterisk.

If you don’t have a dedicated smoker you can rig one up by using an old pot that has a heavy bottom with a tight-fitting cover and a collapsible steamer basket. Heat the smoker over medium heat. Add a small amount of hickory smoking chips. Place the basket over the chips and add the mushrooms to the basket. Place the cover on the pot and smoke the mushrooms for 10 to 15 minutes.

01 Jul 2017

Madness to My Method: Mint-Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

There’s a saying that goes “there’s a method to my madness” which means that there is purpose in what one is doing, even though it seems to be crazy. Today’s post is a peek into how my mind works, which I like to think of as the “madness to my method.” A recipe for a mint chocolate chip smoothie popped up on one of my Facebook groups a few weeks ago and it stirred up memories from when I was making my own dairy ice cream. Mint chocolate chip was one of my favorite flavors. Boy, could I go for some right now. So, the recipe that inspired my latest obsession contained fresh mint for flavor and a handful of spinach for color. I don’t know about you, but milk and spinach doesn’t do it for me. One of the first things I discovered about home-made mint ice cream, unlike most commercial ones, is that it’s not green. My approach was to create a smoothie that had a hint of mint and an ice cream-like feeling. I tried a version using frozen peas for what I thought would add a creamy thickness. (Yuk!) I tried using sweet rice as a thickener. I had to soak the rice overnight and steam it the next day, which proved to be too much advance planning for a smoothie. This also resulted in a more “gooey” and less creamy consistency. The chocolate chips were another problem. If I blended them with the other ingredients, they disappeared. When I added them in during the last few seconds they sunk to the bottom of the glass.The flavor of the fresh mint fell flat, so I sent away for a bottle of pure mint extract and put the testing on hold for a few days. While waiting for my shipment to arrive I couldn’t stop thinking about this recipe. What if . . . I just added the mint extract to my go-to cinnamon bun smoothie? What if . . .  I used brown rice instead of sweet rice? What if . . .  I just start from scratch? And the chocolate . . . what if I shave it and stir it in when ready to serve? By the time the extract arrived, I had it sorted out: almond milk, banana, dates, brown rice, oatmeal, mint extract and chocolate shavings. I tend to over-blend my smoothies to get them extra creamy, but that also makes them warm. I find that refrigerating them for a few hours allows the milk to absorb the starch from the oats and rice making for a thicker smoothie. A thicker smoothie helps the chocolate shavings maintain their buoyancy. All of this obsessing paid off with a Mad Good Mint Chocolate Smoothie that’s smooth, creamy, slightly sweet with a tinge of mint and specked with chocolate. Mix up your own batch of blissful madness today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Makes one or two servings

1-½ cups almond milk
1 large frozen banana, sliced
¼ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup cooked brown rice
4 pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon mint extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Shaved chocolate

Combine all of the ingredients, except the shaved chocolate, in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Pour into a glass and stir in shaved chocolate. If you would like a thicker smoothie you can place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

05 Apr 2017

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