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Totally Tubular Tofu Scramble!

15 Feb

If I said you had the body of an all-natural, organic-living, animal-loving, environment-nurturing, whale-saving sex machine,
would you hold it against me? Please?

-Vegetarian pickup lines, via VegNews Magazine

tofu scramble

Oh my goddess… I am in love with this breakfast. And this video:

Shit New Age Girls Say

Actually I love all the videos in this series, but making a tofu scramble for breakfast is something my five-years-ago self never thought I’d do, and makes me feel well on my way to becoming a New Age Girl.

Even worse, I’ve taken to adding kale to this scramble. KALE! I know, right? This is the green I’ve been seeing touted everywhere, and diligently avoiding. It’s bitter and thick and ruffly and way too nutritious to taste good. But in this scramble, it’s actually not half bad. So… baby steps.

kale, mushrooms, onion

I like to start out by sauteing whatever veggies I have on-hand. Current favorites for this scramble are kale, mushrooms, onion and garlic, but you can add in whatever veggies, herbs and spices sound good to you.

Next, I brown some extra-firm tofu, like so:

browned tofulooks like chikkin

Then I mix it all up with a sauce of nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor and a kickin’ dose of nutrients), cumin, thyme, turmeric, salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh tomato and avocado.

tofu scramble

This scramble makes a hearty and satisfying meal any time of day. So get crazy, mix it up, and let me know what you think!

RECIPE – Tofu Scramble

Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Sauce:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons water

Tofu:
2-3 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
1/2 red onion
1 pkg mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3-4 leaves kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

Garnishes:
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 avocado, cubed
handful of sliced almonds

First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Saute the onion and mushrooms for about five minutes, then add in kale and garlic and saute for another two minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, break the tofu apart into bite-sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Brown the tofu as uniformly as possible.

Add the sauce and stir gently to incorporate. Add the veggies back into the pan and cook to warm through. Serve hot.

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VegWeek Day 1, Breakfast Quinoa

25 Sep

VegWeek - Pledge to go Veg, Sept 25-Oct 2, 2011

It’s that time of year again, time for Veg Week! Since last year’s blogs, I’ve grown to love veggies in a big way, learned to eat more simply, and simply eat less. I’m still firmly in the “flexitarian” bracket, but more conscious than ever. I have gotten to the point where eating meat more than once a day feels weird. I’d like to get down to eating it once or twice a week.

The thing I really struggle with, though, is dairy. Dairy in all its many forms – butter, heavy cream, yogurt, and cheese (okay, and the occasional ice cream) are staples in my diet. I have a sneaking suspicion that I don’t process them well, but with the exception of almond milk, the vegan alternatives haven’t really interested me. So to challenge myself this week, I’m going to do just that – go vegan.

Besides recipes, I’ll be sharing useful websites, books, documentaries, and other information about animal rights and the vegetarian lifestyle. I’ll also be sharing resources on humane farming, for those who want to make conscious choices but aren’t ready to go vegetarian yet.

Finally, a big hearty thanks to Animal Protection and Rescue League for sponsoring San Diego’s VegWeek! Check them out online or make friends on facebook. You might want to sign up for their daily VegWeek newsletter or join the facebook event, and you can also support them by shopping/donating at their awesome thrift store!

I’m so honored to have recently met some of the great people who make this organization happen. Your passion, love, and kindness move me.

piggie piglet

Image by whiskersnaps.com, via cute overload

Breakfast Quinoa

To kick off VegWeek, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe that kicks off a lot of my mornings – breakfast quinoa. Like the Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl I blogged previously, this concept is versatile and can be applied to any number of grains. I like quinoa for the nuttiness and the texture. Plus, it’s super quick-cooking and I can make it fresh before work.

Here’s what I do for about 4 servings:

Boil 1 1/2 cups water
Rinse 1 cup quinoa
Turn heat down to low, add quinoa
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes

quinoaI buy it in bulk.

Next comes the fun part – add-ins! I mix and match ingredients from the following categories:

*lube*
vegan margarine, almond milk, nondairy yogurt, peanut butter, almond butter, fruit preserves

*sweetener*
honey, agave nectar, brown sugar

*spices*
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, orange zest

*nuts*
walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds

*fruit*
fresh – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana, mango, kiwi, apple
dried – raisins, cranberries, apricots, currants, dates apples

Here are a few of the concoctions I’ve devised so far:

Red, White & Blue

red white & blue quinoa - strawberries, blueberries, bananaspat of butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, strawberries, blueberries, banana

Banana Bread

banana nutplain yogurt or almond milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, banana, walnuts

Apple Cinnamon

apple cinnamon quinoaalmond milk or heavy cream, apple butter, sauteed and fresh apples

Trail Mix Quinoa

trail mix quinoaalmond milk, vanilla extract, agave nectar, cinnamon, dried cranberries, walnuts, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips

yet-to-be-photographed…

Maple-Date-Pecan

plain or vanilla yogurt, maple syrup, nutmeg, chopped dates, chopped pecans

Tropical Quinoa

coconut milk, sweetened flaked coconut, mango slices, chopped macadamia nuts

Chocolate Chip Cookie Quinoa
(okay, maybe not for breakfast…)

plain yogurt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, mini chocolate chips, walnuts

Easy Breakfast Frittata

23 Jun

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.
-Mark Twain

Recipe Source: Adapted from Stone Soup

French pastries

I went on vacation this month. Two weeks in France. I walked a lot there. I slept very little. And I ate A LOT. Among the few French phrases I know are joie de vivre and bon vivant, and I decided to practice them whole-heartedly. But two weeks of a diet rich in croissant and pastries (have you seen the pastries over there?!!), and a notable lack of fiber, fruit and vegetables takes its toll, so like all good moderates, I am now doing my post-vacation penance.

Help scale

Incidentally, I stumbled upon this article – Your Summer Swimsuit Strategy – on my first day back home. I highly recommend it for a good laugh to combat the imminent beach-body insecurities looming on the horizon.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be practicing a low-carb, low-sugar diet. Low processed foods, really. My thinking on this method has changed somewhat since I followed the South Beach Diet a few years ago, especially with the reduction of animal products in my diet. This time around, I’ll be focusing on vegetables, legumes and nuts, with the occasional egg or cheese product added for protein/flavor, lean meats such as chicken or fish a few times a week, rare splurges of bacon, and fruit reserved for breakfast and dessert.

Low-carb dietI recently came across this simple breakfast idea from Jules at Stone Soup, a frittata that is baked in the oven rather than over the stove. It’s incredibly easy to make and the flavor combinations are endless. She uses a springform pan and four eggs, which makes enough frittata to feed me for almost a week. Sadly, my springform is old and doesn’t spring open anymore (not to mention a bit rusty), but I’ve found that a glass pie dish works just as well.

I like to use 2-3 add-ins, with everything finely diced so that I can eat this easily at my desk with just a fork. This morning’s frittata was made of garlic and shallots, sauteed together for about 5 minutes with a bit of butter; mushrooms and bell pepper I threw in raw; and a handful of parmesan and spices. As you can tell from my ingredient suggestions below, I treat this dish basically like a crustless quiche. I’m not sure if it’s still by definition a frittata with these mix-ins, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want so there.

frittata ingredients

A few fillings you might want to try ~

meats such as ham, bacon, turkey, or sausage
onions, red or yellow, or shallots – raw, sauteed to translucence, or carmelized, or fresh diced scallions
fresh veggies such as tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, or bell peppers
packaged veggies such as olives or sun-dried tomatoes
cheeses such as feta, parmesan, or pepperjack
herbs and spices such as oregano or herbs de provence

frittata slice

RECIPE – Easy Breakfast Frittata (the basic method)
serves 2

I’m so glad I discovered the trick of baking frittatas in a spring form pan, as opposed to the old school high maintenance frying pan method. So much easier to mix the egg with your flavouring then pop in the oven to bake for 15 minutes while you do other things. My type of dinner.

Feel free to play around with the filling. Tomatoes are lovely, as are different cheeses, canned chickpeas work a treat or fresh asparagus in the spring. So many possibilities.

2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced into rounds
4 eggs
2 handfuls grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200C).

Heat a large frying pan (skillet) on a medium heat. Add a little olive oil and cook zucchini, stirring occasionally until they are tender.

Combine eggs and parmesan and season.

Line a 20cm (8in) spring form pan with baking paper and grease the base and sides with butter or oil. Spoon the zucchini in then pour over the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and puffy.

“Magic” Fruit & Veggie Muffins

30 Apr

Recipe source: Food Network

I pride myself on having a well-stocked kitchen. Especially when it comes to baking, I can make any number of recipes on a moment’s notice with just what is stocked in my pantry. I have all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, corn flour, cake flour, garbanzo flour and gluten-free flour. But oh, noooo. THAT wasn’t ENOUGH for Miss d’Arabian, who came along with her crazy 17-ingredient recipe for “Magic Fruit & Veggie Muffins” that might be a nutritionist’s dream, but are a minimalist’s nightmare. Well, I’m not a minimalist, I’m pretty adventurous in the kitchen and a little bit stubborn. So that means I had to try this, and promptly went out to buy the soy flour and wheat germ I was lacking. Because HEAVEN FORBID I go without those in my house!!

17 ingredients

And I have to say, I was glad I did. This recipe makes stellar breakfast muffins, and not the “cake for grown-ups” kind of muffins, but really yummy, relatively low-sugar, nutrition-packed bready goodness. I only made two changes to the recipe, swapping out olive oil for coconut and whole milk for almond. I liked the idea of using two fruits and two vegetables, so I chose bananas and dried dates (plus the raisins I was too lazy to pick out of my raisin bran cereal), and carrots and zucchini. It will be fun to try different combinations of this recipe in the future, but I’d highly recommend sticking with bananas as they made the muffins wonderfully moist.

muffin tray
I was also happy to discover that the recipe yielded much more than it said it would – about 26 full-size muffins as opposed to 24 mini muffins. This would not be worth the work for less. Try them today!

muffin
RECIPE – Magic Fruit & Veggie Muffins

Cooking spray (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons soy flour
4 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup bran flakes cereal or old-fashioned oats (or a combination)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, plus more for topping (optional)
4 tablespoons safflower or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/2 cups grated or finely chopped vegetables (carrots, zucchini and/or spinach)
1 1/2 cups grated or finely chopped fresh or dried fruit (apples, pears, pineapple and/or raisins)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners or mist with cooking spray.

Whisk the flours, wheat germ, bran flakes, flax seeds, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat the egg and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the oil, vanilla, milk, vegetables, and fruit, and mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir just until blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about three-quarters of the way. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Makes ~24 muffins

Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl

19 Oct

Recipe Source: 101 Cookbooks

Welcome to the last day of VegWeek! Errr… two weeks!

This is a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for months, so I finally decided to give it a spin. I think it will become a regular breakfast for me. If you’ve never heard of wheat berries, I can tell you that they’re extremely good for you. They’re the whole wheat kernel, with their fibrous outer shell still intact. Besides being an excellent source of fiber, they are high in protein, iron, vitamin E and magnesium. Before you can eat them, it’s necessary to give them a long soak or boil them with a little salt. The texture will always be a little chewy, and the flavor is slightly nutty. You can use wheat berries as you would quinoa or couscous… I’ve usually seen them used in salads, so this is a creative and unique recipe.

wheat berries & fruit

As the maker of any diet will tell you, one of the keys to success in eating healthy is making sure you don’t get bored. So I like that this dish is infinitely variable. For the sake of the blog, I decided to go all out and follow the recipe, using sauteed pears and cranberries mixed with maple yogurt, dried currants and dates, chopped pecans and crystallized ginger.

wheat berry breakfast bowl

Instead of sweetening plain Greek yogurt with maple, you could try honey, a few drops of vanilla or almond extract, or use regular plain yogurt for a thinner consistency, or flavored yogurt. You can add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or cardamom, and any combination of dried/fresh fruits and nuts.

For the San Diegans reading, I buy wheat berries in bulk at Henry’s. They are dark brown and look a bit like rice. They can probably be found at most health food stores.

raw wheat berries

RECIPE – Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl

1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup

scant tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
scant tablespoon of butter
2 firm pears, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch THIN bite-sized slices
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
3 cups cooked wheat berries* (or any plump, whole grain will do – farro, barley, oat groats, etc.)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup assorted dried fruits, chopped (I used equal portions of dried persimmons, dates, and crystallized ginger)

Whisk the yogurt and maple syrup together and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-hight heat, sauté the pear slices in the olive oil and butter for about five minute, or until they get a bit golden. Keep an eye on them though, because they can burn in a flash. Toward the very end, stir in the cranberries and cook for another minute or so – just until the cranberries soften up a bit and a few of them begin to split open. Add the wheat berries to the skillet and toss gently.

Turn out onto a platter, or serve in individual bowls ladled with a generous amount of the maple yogurt, and sprinkled with plenty of pecans and dried fruit. For those of you who prefer a bit more sweetness, serve with more maple syrup on the side.

Serves 4-6.

*To cook wheat berries: Combine 2 cups wheat berries, 5 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy (and a few of the berries split open), about an hour or so. The berries will stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Drain and set aside.

Pumpkin Pudding

4 Oct

Recipe Source: Skinny in the City email newsletter, Top 6 Skinny Foods for 2010

This is a really simple, unusual, delicious breakfast for the Fall and it’s full of fiber and protein. It’s rich, creamy and very satiating. Chances are good you’ll be satisfied far longer with a bowl of this than a bowl of your normal breakfast cereal. It also makes a nice post-lunch dessert if you’re a slave to that sort of thing… *cough*

All you do is combine 6 ounces of nonfat vanilla yogurt with 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree and a few spices (I like 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice). You can whisk it together or whip for a few seconds in the blender and voila! Pumpkin puddin’.

Pumpkin Bread

24 Sep

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.
~Jim Davis

Recipe Source: bread – online somewhere, years ago / frosting – allrecipes.com

I love the fall, and some years (including this one), my birthday lands on the first day. I love all things Fall – leaves turning color and the concept of change that they represent, crisp cool air, and spice and pumpkinstuff everywhere. So every fall, I make homemade pumpkin bread.

pumpkin bread

At first, my mom made it from a box mix. But when I moved, I couldn’t find the mix, and eventually I wasn’t satisfied to wait for the extra loaves she made me when I visited. I searched online and ended up settling on this recipe. I’ve made it in loaves and muffins, and frosted muffins to make cupcakes.

pumpkin muffin

Often, I like to buy decorative mini loaf pans at Michael’s ($1!) and give them as gifts to co-workers and friends. Since Fall gets jilted by everyone thinking Winter starts the day after Thanksgiving, I like to make a special effort to celebrate this season.

 mini loaf pan

RECIPE – Pumpkin Bread

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
3 cups white sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two loaf pans.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend sugar, oil and eggs. Stir in pumpkin. Slowly blend the flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Pour the batter into two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for about 60 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

pumpkin cupcake

And since I mentioned cupcakes, I will suggest a frosting. You didn’t think I would be so cruel as to overlook frosting, did you?

RECIPE – Allspice cream cheese frosting

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and allspice.

Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk until the mixture is spreadable.