Monday, January 27, 2014

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes

This is a delicious but simple breakfast I like to make weekend mornings. I used Bisquick (it's vegan), but you can use any other pancake mix or make them totally from scratch too. I add pumpkin puree to this recipe for more fiber. And acts as a binder. Plus it gives them a lovely golden color.

This recipe makes 6-8 pancakes and will serve two people.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes
1/2 cup low or no sugar strawberry jam or preserves (also make sure it has no high fructose corn syrup)
1/4 water
2/3 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
4 tbs peanut butter, chunky or smooth is fine
1/4 cup soy milk, as needed

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, mix together the strawberry jam and water. Heat up it, but do not let it boil. It should be runny is like syrup, not thick like jam.

Cover the pot and turn off the heat, set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the Bisquick, pumpkin puree, and peanut butter. Mix together well, trying to work out all the lumps. Add a little soy milk at a time to help it smooth out. The batter should be smooth but still on the thicker side.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Once the pan is heated up, pour on the batter. I like smaller pancakes so I used about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. If you like bigger ones, do as much as you like.

These will not bubble up like traditional pancakes, so you will need to check the bottoms occasionally to see when to flip. Once the bottom is slightly browned, flip.

This side will puff up like a traditional pancake, but still check the bottom occasionally until it's slightly browned too.

Plate up your pancakes and drizzle on your jam syrup.

Now dig in and enjoy! A very filling and comforting breakfast.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Samosa Pizza

I have declared my love for pizza on here before. But I have never professed my loved for samosas. Delicious little fried pastries filled with veggies and spices then dipped in flavorful chutneys. What's not to love? I am not a big fan of fried foods, but these are something special. I always order them at Indian restaurants and am heartbroken when I have share. So why would I not combine two of my culinary favorites?

This recipe makes 1 pizza.

Samosa Pizza

2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsb vegan butter, divided
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mango powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ball of pizza dough, homemade or store bought is fine (try my recipe)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tbs ginger, peeled and minced
4 tbs tamarind chutney (if you don't happen to have a mother-in-law who makes some, it's pretty easy to find in stores nowadays
Cilantro chutney (try my recipe)

Fill a large pot with cold water and add the potatoes.

Cover and bring to boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough for a fork to be easily inserted.

While that boils, in large skillet melt a little butter.

Add the chopped carrots. Cook until they begin to soften.

Add the frozen peas. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, then set aside.

When the potatoes are soft, drain well and set aside for the sec.

Return pot the potatoes boiled in the stove over medium heat, add the remaining butter and let it melt.

Add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Toast them for one minute.

Turn off the heat.

Add the potatoes back in and mash/mix in with the butter. Don't mash until totally smooth, leave some chunks.

Mix in the coriander powder, garam masala, and mango powder.

Stir in the peas and carrots.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Roll out your pizza dough into your desired shaped. Place it in a pizza pan.

Pre-bake the pizza crust into the oven 7-10 minutes, just until they are lightly golden.

Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool a bit.

Spread on the tamarind sauce.

Now glob on potato mixture. Spread it in an even, thick layer.

Next sprinkle on the minced ginger and garlic.

Bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Top with the cilantro chutney, and some extra cilantro if desired.

This was soooo good. We devoured the whole pizza pretty quickly. I just realized I need to make this for my soon-to-be son one day because it incorporates two of his heritages--Indian and Italian.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chipotle Sofritas

Last week Michael and I stopped by the mall after work to browse for some stuff. I suddenly got that horrible pregnancy hunger---the one like "IF I DON'T EAT NOW I WILL TURN INTO GODZILLA AND DESTROY THIS WHOLE BUILDING!!!" So Michael suggested we eat before continued. I saw Chipotle and thought of how those warm burritos saved my life after hours of studying in college. As we entered, I saw the sign for sofritas! I totally forgot they added a vegan protein option to the menu! I thought I died and went to heaven!

The sofritas are braised organic tofu  marinated in a blend of spices and peppers. It's was very tender and very flavorful. It had a bit of a kick, but was not overly hot. I wouldn't say it tasted exactly like meat (a meat eater would probably be able to tell the difference), but the texture was pretty close. 

While I love Chipotle, they can be very high in calories. Even if you make it all vegan. Let's compare the burrito I used to order in college:

Do you see that? 1505 calories in a burrito and side of chips & salsa. With no meat or dairy! It's all the carbs and fat. Proof you can still be vegan and eat unhealthy. Let's make some reasonable variations, like adding the new sofritas and cutting out the chips & salsa:

Just buy cutting out the chips& salsa, you save 590 calories alone. The carbs drop from 215 to 147, and the total fat from 60 to 43. Getting better, but let's look at what I ordered last week:

A total of 660 calories, way more reasonable. I switched to tacos instead, which saves about 50 calories from the tortilla. I also cut out the rice. Yes, you can get brown rice for added nutrition, but that is still a lot of carbs for one meal, so skip it. I also cut out the guacamole. It is a healthy fat, but it's high in calories and still is a fat. I add it as treat every one and awhile, but not every time. I also always pick black beans over pinto beans because they have less sodium and more fiber. But load it up with all the salsas you want! They are lower in calories and you get more veggies in for the day. 

If you are really cutting calories try this:

A salad with sofritas, only 440 calories. More nutrition from the added lettuce. The black beans still provide some carbs to make it a balanced meal. No dressing (215 calories), but all the salsas will provide enough liquid/flavor to take it's place at a less than half the calories. 

I really suggest trying the sofritas next time, they are really delicious. Just make wise decisions on what you add to your meal. Even healthy and organic food in the wrong amounts can become unhealthy. And if you are pregnant like me, make sure you get enough protein (likes sofritas) with every meal to keep you full so you don't end up wanting calorie-packed extras like chips. No one want to be losing a ton of baby weight because you didn't balance meals properly. 

I couldn't get a good shot of just the sofritas without
it falling apart, but it pretty much looks like tofu pieces. 
By the way, all the images I used are screen captures from Chipotle's Nutrition Calculator on its website. I really suggest checking to see if you favorite chain restaurants have this feature before you go. You can see what vegan options they have or how you can make things vegans. You can also figure out how to get what you really want, without going overboard. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creamy Spinach Dip

Michael and I got were invited to a co-worker's house to watch the NFL playoff games last Sunday. Michael asked me to make something to bring along. I knew they would BBQ tons of meat, so I decided to make a vegan dish that I wanted to eat. I suddenly thought of creamy, gooey spinach dip with big pieces of sourdough.

This recipe is similar to traditional creamy dip recipes, just no dairy cheese and all the extra protein of tofu. It is a bit sweeter, so you can add more garlic if you want it more savory. I liked it though, went nicely with the sourness of the sourdough.

This recipe will serve 8-10 people easily.

Spinach Dip
1 block of silken tofu, drained
Small amount of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a medium white onion, minced
1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/4 flour
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp garlic powder (more if desired)
6 cups baby spinach, wash and dried well
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya)

Pre-heat the Oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a small baking pan (I used a disposable one) with cooking spray.

Put your drained tofu into a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside for now.

In a medium pot over medium heat, belt a tiny bit of butter. Saute the minced garlic and onion until golden. Set aside.

In the same pot, add the 1/4 cup butter and the flour. Mix together well and cook the paste for just a minute.

Whisk in the soy milk and smooth out any lumps.

Add the processed tofu and mix together well.

Add the garlic and onions back in. Add the garlic powder too.

Slowly mix in the spinach a handful at a time. Let it wilt down a bit before you add more.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dip into the baking pan.

Cover the top with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncover for 20 minutes, until the top is bubbly and very lightly golden.

I served this with sourdough bread pieces but any bread, chips or cracker would be great too. Even some carrots and celery would be lovely.

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it before everyone dived in, people wanted to try it right away. And I was starving and no one can blame a pregnant mama for wanting to eat!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tofu Nuggets and Sunchoke Fries

Last Sunday afternoon was dedicated to watching the 49ners, so I decided to make Michael something to munch on while he became engrossed in the game. I had a craving for nuggets and fries, but was out of my usually Gardien  nuggets and frozen fries. Tofu nuggets are easy to make, but I sadly only found one small potato for fries. Then I remembered that a bag of sunchokes came in my organic veggie box. I had no idea what to do with them, but knew they can be cooked like potatoes so I used them for fries.

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are a root vegetable related to sunflowers. They are high in Vitamin C and iron. They look like a mix between ginger root and a potato. But taste oddly like artichoke hearts. It's nice alternative to the usual potato.

This recipes makes two servings of each.

Tofu Nuggets and Sunchoke Fries
Sunchoke Fries:
6 sunchokes (I threw in my lonely potato too), washed, cleaned and cut into disks
Cold Water
2 tbs salt
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Tofu Nuggets:
1/2 block of firm tofu, frozen drained and cut into bit-sized cubes
1/2 cup Bisquick (plain flour is fine too)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
Dash of Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Once you wash, clean and cut your sunchokes, place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water.

Add the 2 tbs of salt and let them sit for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Make sure your tofu is properly drained---get as much water out as possible. Make sure when you cut into to cubes, you cut them as uniform as possible so they cook evenly.

In a large bowl add the tofu, Bisquick, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the tofu evenly.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and evenly space out your coated tofu.

Drain your sunchokes (do not rinse). Pat dry with a paper towel gently.

Return them to the bowl and coat with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Now spread evenly them on another baking sheet.

Pop both baking sheets in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The nuggets will be slightly golden and the sunchokes should be slightly crispy. You can adjust the times and temps if you like yours softer or crunchier.

Crispy on the outside, tender on the side.

Get some of your favorite BBQ sauce or natural ketchup, then dig in! A healthy game day snack while you watch your team in the playoffs. Michael was so fixed on the game he didn't notice the fries were not potatoes until I said something :-P

Looks like potatoes, but taste like a artichoke. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Potato and Leek Hash

I wanted a hot and tasty breakfast when I woke up this morning. Something filling, but not heavy. I had a few potatoes that needed to be eaten so I thought a hash was in order.

I got another organic vegetable box delivered the other day so I decided to add some veggies for more nutrition. The box came with two giant leeks. I think leeks are a seriously underrated food. They have the texture of a very soft celery mixed with a shallot. The flavor is like a mid onion and garlic. They are high in vitamin K and vitamin A. Like their cousin garlic, it also helps support the cardiovascular system. I love leeks because they provide that garlic/onion flavor, but with a bit more crunch.

This recipe makes one large serving (that is surprising low in calories!).

Potato and Leek Hash
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup water
1/2 of a leek stalk (the lower, whiter part---I have a recipe for the leafy part coming up), sliced thin
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 of a broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a skillet with a little oil (I used coconut) over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and cook until slightly golden on the outside.

Add water and cover. The steam will cook the inside of the potatoes. Stir occasionally so they do no burn.

Once the water is evaporated, remove the lid. Add all remaining veggies. Cook until the carrots and broccoli are soft, and the leeks are slightly golden.

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served mine over some basic scrambled tofu with some hot sauce on top.

A healthy and easy breakfast, great way to start off my day of cleaning and laundry :-/