I think that tofu scrambles get a bad rap. They are often the token vegan item on an egg-filled brunch menu, which doesn’t do them any favors. And it’s not because they can’t stand up to a good omelette; it’s because they’re often employed as an egg substitute. In my opinion, trying to make tofu taste like scrambled eggs is silly – even if you succeed, a less-good version of scrambled eggs is just not that exciting to eat for breakfast. (If you’re a vegan who really misses eggs, than okay, go for it. I do see the value there.) But I’d rather eat a tofu scramble that isn’t trying to be something else, because it really doesn’t need to be! Since tofu is a neutrally flavored food on its own, it can take on whatever flavor profile you want it to. And that means you can infuse loads of delicious flavor into it, flavor that can provide serious competition for even the most delicious egg dish.
Buckwheat (contrary to its name) is both grain-free and gluten-free. It has no relation to wheat – in fact, it’s actually a seed that is related to rhubarb! Its health benefits are numerous – it’s great for your heart, it helps regulate your blood sugar, and it’s nutrient-packed (high levels of manganese, magnesium, and copper). Buckwheat is also high in protein relative to other grains and contains all nine amino acids.
If you’re not familiar with kasha already, you may be wondering why I’m rambling on about buckwheat. Well, kasha is actually toasted buckwheat, which means A) it has a wonderfully nutty, hearty flavor that makes for some fantastic eating and B) all my rambling about buckwheat is actually quite relevant.
There is nothing like sitting down to a beautiful and delicious plate of steaming pasta. It’s elegance and comfort all rolled into one, which is kind of hard for most dishes to accomplish. Think about it – what other comfort food also brings with it so much elegance and class? Well, actually, all of the ones with Italian roots.
How do you make a sandwich elegant? Turn it into a panini.
What about a pizza? That’s easy. Ditch your NY-style pizza by the slice and go for a wood-oven baked pie with San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.
Fried dough? Sure. It’s a ricotta-filled zeppole.
In fact, if I had to make one general statement about Italian chefs, it would be that they sure do know how to combine comfort and elegance. And you can too. So put on some Puccini and pour yourself a nice glass of Chianti, because I have a delicious Italian-style pasta recipe for you.
Before going gluten-free, I used to bake all the time. I had my knock-’em-dead brownie recipe for those casual but chocolate-warranting events, my decadent layer cake recipe for birthdays and anniversaries, and the ultimate coffee cake recipe for those weirdos who don’t like chocolate. These were all recipes I had collected due to my habit of reading (or should I say drooling over) any dessert cookbook I could get my hands on. Since I was such an avid dessert cookbook reader, I quickly learned how to tell whether a recipe was worth making just by skimming the ingredients and procedure. (Hint: Look for copious amounts of chocolate and butter :p) But this was as far as I got with regards to bringing in my own creative process – I never created my own dessert recipes or experimented too much with the recipes I collected. It was only after going gluten-free that I started creating my own desserts, and it’s been a total blast.
My absolute favorite flour to bake with is almond flour. That’s because it makes gluten-free desserts taste like regular desserts – it’s moist, holds together well, has a great texture and flavor, and, as if that wasn’t enough, it’s also packed with protein! I’ve been seeking out almond-flour based dessert recipes for a couple years now, and in the last year or so, I’ve finally felt comfortable enough working with this miraculous substance to be able to play around with it on my own. It’s a great feeling to be able to easily whip up a dessert when the craving hits, with whatever you happen to have around the house!
And that’s exactly what I did a few weeks ago, when these poppy seed bars were born.
For all you Sesame Street fans out there (best children’s show ever!), this post is brought to you by the letter C. Why? Because Cabbage, Carrots, and Coconut happen to make the perfect slaw. And it’s pleasantly Crunchy. Add in some Cilantro, and you could even call this Quadruple-C Slaw. Cilantro begins with a soft C, while Cabbage, Carrots, and Coconut all begin with hard C‘s. But what about the raisins? They don’t belong here! Try as you might, you won’t find a soft C or a hard C anywhere in that seven-letter word. Ah, but the addition of raisins to this slaw will Caress your palate and leave you feeling quite Content. So you see, the word raisins gives us two more beautiful C words!
“Chutney” was the middle name of the cat my family had when I was growing up. (His first name was Mango.) I can’t take credit for naming him, but I can tell you that my love for Indian chutneys started early. My favorites are the mint and tamarind chutneys – I ALWAYS load up on these whenever I eat at an Indian restaurant. I love how the coolness and freshness of the mint compliments the spicy richness of most Indian dishes. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to justify buying a jar because every single one I’ve seen has artificial coloring in it – kinda gross. Luckily, homemade mint chutney is super easy and very customizable! I really like the ratio of cilantro to mint I’ve specified in the recipe, but if you like it more or less minty (or more or less limey), feel free to play around with it!
Do you have specific foods that always stick out to you on a restaurant menu? The ones that immediately catch your eye and say “pick me, pick me!”? For me, it’s fritters, cakes, patties…anything that comes in the form of a nice, elegant, flavor-packed crispy round of goodness. I can’t say no! Sadly, since most restaurants use flour to bind those lovely little rounds, I often have to. And even the ones marked gluten-free often contain rice or rice flour, which is a no-no for me. Luckily, flour really isn’t necessary. My secret for making flourless cakes and patties that still hold together perfectly? Millet!
Have you tried hemp seeds yet? They are a staple in my kitchen! Touted for their health benefits (just 3 tablespoons of these guys will give you a walloping 10 grams of protein and they also happen to contain nearly the perfect ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6), these little seeds are great in salads, soups, and sauces. They are also a wonderful vegan creamifier. (Yes, I think I made that word up because it’s not in the dictionary.) In case it’s not apparent, let me define it for you:
Creamifier, n. A substance that can be used to make something creamy. Example Sentence: Some non-vegan creamifiers are milk, yogurt, and sour cream, while some vegan creamifiers are hemp seeds, tofu, tahini, and nuts.
Now that we’ve all learned a new (fake) word, let me tell you about this dressing. [Read more…]
One of the many juice chains in the NYC area has this Korean Yam pudding that I really like. It’s smooth, creamy, sweet but not too sweet, has a subtle hint of ginger – I’m a fan. I’m not really a fan of the price tag though, since one small pudding cup will run you close to 7 bucks once tax is added. The solution? Make my own!
Creating something similar proved pretty easy. I got it right on the first try, and tested it again just to make sure. While the juice chain uses agave to add sweetness, I chose to use raw honey in my version. (To make this vegan, just sub agave or maple syrup.) I also just used a regular Garnet yam instead of a Korean yam. And I’m not sure how the juice place makes their pudding, but I chose to simmer my yams rather than bake them so that their sweetness isn’t overpowering.
What I love about this pudding (aside from the taste and texture) is its versatility. My recipe is fairly light on the ginger – it’s more of a subtle hint than a main component. But if you’re feeling gingery, feel free to take it up a notch. You could also add cinnamon and nutmeg for a pumpkin-pie style pudding, increase the sweetener for something a bit more decadent, or top these with cashew or coconut cream for a real treat.
This salad is ridiculous. No, seriously, I don’t even mean ridiculously delicious (though it’s that too.) I mean ridiculous in that I can’t even categorize it accurately. I wanna say it’s Asian-inspired, because it’s got toasted sesame oil, grated daikon, and cucumber. But there’s also quinoa, harissa, and lemon juice – middle eastern?? Then we add toasted sunflower seeds and avocado – California? New American? Aaahhh. I don’t know WHAT this salad is but I can promise you that it’s great. Like really great. It’s one of those salads that manages to hit the perfect balance of textures and flavors – creamy, spicy, crunchy – it’s all there. It also happens to be packed with superfoods. And, it hits all three of the macronutrients we need to function properly- protein, carbs, and fat – in one dish, which is always a plus. (This also means if you become completely obsessed with this salad and start eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll probably be okay for at least a couple days…not that I know this from experience or anything :p)