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VEGAN FRENCH TOAST!!! 

IMG_1642This might be the coolest cookbook EVER! I have been waiting a while for it and finally, it arrived! Natalie Slater’s Bake and Destroy is addictive, and totally kooky! Her wit and punk – rock attitude really shines through the totally decadent and imaginative recipes that get you drooling just by looking at the gorgeous pictures. Her writing style definitely puts a smile on your face and maybe even gets a few chuckles. Choose from Taco Lasagna, Nacho Cupcakes and Spaghetti Cake with Grandma Sharon’s Hater-Proof Sauce! Total insanity! 

I have a total peanut butter addiction, the Elvis sandwich being one of my all time favorite snacks, so when I saw the Honky Tonk French Toast – aka Elvis French Toast – I went totally bananas! 

First of all, I LOVE french toast. But I have never made them, and since becoming vegan, it has become a little tough to find good french toast in vegan restaurants. So, another reason I freaked out when I saw this recipe!

Like all of Slater’s recipes, this isn’t your average french toast, it uses banana bread! PEANUT BUTTER banana bread. The banana bread was so light and fluffy I swear nobody could have guessed it was vegan! It was hard not to eat it all straight out of the oven. So my first suggestion is to; make 2 banana breads while you are at it, one for your 5 o’clock tea and one for french toast the next day!

The only change I made to the recipe is that I found my loaf needed more like 60-70minutes to be fully baked instead of the suggested 40-IMG_165250. It made a super fluffy inside with a nice crust. I let my slices dry and this morning I made banana bread for brunch. Total craziness! It was amazing!

The bread gets soaked in a mixture of peanut butter, soy milk, vanilla and cinnamon. It soaks in this divine creaminess for 10mins and then you bake them off for 30minutes, until crispy. Let me tell you, they were not only crispy and moist inside, but totally mind-blowing! I might still be high from all that peanut butter.

Hubby and I are already looking at what wacky recipe we will try next so, don’t go far!

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Okay, I am posting this one day late! Let’s just pretend it’s Friday!

IMG_0216Today, I wanted to talk about Atlanta, GA. This is probably one of my favorite cities in the US. It is extremely vegan friendly, modern and totally beautiful. We passed by in April on our way to the country-side for our honeymoon. We made a few stops to fill our tummies (and incredible sweet tooth) and check out a bit of the town.

Our first stop for an early lunch was Village Pizza in Cabbage Town. I loved Cabbage Town, it was so funky and cool with colourful little houses mixed with old industrial factories. The pizza place had gotten great reviews on Happy Cow so the hubby and I were excited and ready to go all out on some junky vegan pizza – fake cheese and meats included! (hey, the wedding was over so there was nothing to stop me!)

The pizza place was really cute, with outdoor seating right on the street, so we could enjoy the energy of the place. The staff was super friendly and welcoming to vegans, even if the place isn’t 100% vegan. We ordered the Village Vegan pizza fully loaded with spinach, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, soy pepperoni, soy Italian sausage and soy cheese! A total treat! Our first ‘fake pizza’ and it was great! Their crust is nice and thin and crunchy and I believe they use Daiya Mozzarella as cheeze.

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After that we did a bit of sight seeing, took a walk in Piedmont Park and headed out to Dulce Vegan, that had been recommended by some ‘local’ friends of mine. Apparently, their cinnamon rolls were to die for and I was ready to taste them. After arriving, I felt like I needed a warm drink so I ordered a chai latte (one of my favorite all time drinks) and it was SO PERFECT! I am always in search of bold and flavorful chai lattes and this one did the trick. It was really wonderful! So then and there I loved the place already! By the time we had finished our warm drinks, it was time for an early dinner (!!!). So we ordered two veggie burgers that our table neighbours made us drool for. Let me tell you that those were some seriously good burgers! Crispy and chewy to perfection. We were both too stuffed to have dessert, but we packed some cinnamon rolls, a few cupcakes and a few cookies to last us our few days in the country. And let me tell you, their cinnamon rolls are seriously pretty darn great!!! I don’t have a picture of them because they didn’t last very long. But they were perfectly moist, a little sticky, and with just the right amount of sweetness. WOW! I so very highly recommend this place. My favorite place in Atlanta.

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I am excited to talk about one of my favorite vegan discoveries today, TEMPEH! To those of you who are new to veganism or just trying it out, my best suggestion is; GO OUT AND GET TEMPEH! Compared to tofu, tempeh is much cooler. It’s so versatile! You can just cut it up thin to make scaloppine, fry it, bake it, grind it to make bolognese or meatballs etc etc.

There are so many awesome things about tempeh, besides its flavor and texture, that I will just name a few. First of all, unlike tofu, which is made from soymilk curd; tempeh is actually a whole food. It is made by fermenting beans and grains, just like cheese! Therefore, it contains something that tofu does not, probiotics, so necessary and beneficial to our digestive system. For this reason, I personally find that tempeh is very gentle on my digestive tract. I sometimes, however, don’t digest tofu that hasn’t been properly cooked, very well.

Most of the tempeh found here in Switzerland is made from soybeans. I am happy enough to find it so I cannot complain! Plus, it’s made locally, something I love to support. But, it sometimes makes me consume a little more soy foods than I would like. In NYC I used to eat all sorts of tempeh. The best place to get really fabulous tempeh is from Barry’s Tempeh. He has so many different sorts it is fun to try them all. People who are sensitive, or are watching their gluten and/or soy intake, have many options to choose from. You can find him in Smorgasburg and other markets where he has a rotating weekly variety as well. 

The recipe today I think really showcases the great potential of tempeh, and it makes it accessible to those of you trying it for the first time. I think its texture is what I am in love with. You will see, it has more of a bite than tofu. This kicka** recipe is from my good NGI friend Angela, a true born and bred lovely Mexican girl, who just happens to be a divine cook too. So, don’t take it from the Swiss girl who knows nothing of authentic Mexican food (and always manages to burn herself of chiles), but take it from Angela; this is a traditional Tacos Al Pastor recipe – made vegan! HURRAY!

Even if tempeh is the star of this dish, its preparation is really very fast and simple. Don’t be afraid of all the condiments and toppings, I  always make this dish, even when I have little time. Plus, you can pick and choose the condiments. There are lots of ingredients, but you only need minimal cooking and prep time. Don’t be shy, get your Mexican on! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, I asked Angela about 1000 silly questions the first time I made it. She must think I am hopeless as a Mexican cook! And take it from me, it might look ridiculous and feel funny, but USE GLOVES when messing with the chiles.

Ingredients

Tempeh Marinade (for 1 lbs tempeh)IMG_1448

– 3 tablespoons ground paprika
– 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
– 1 tablespoon black pepper corns
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup white wine vinegar
– 3 dried chilies, veins and seeds removed (I use 1 Ancho, 1 Guajillo, 1 Pasilla)
– 2 cups boiling water

Toppings!

Guacamole

– 3 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
– 1/2 lime, juiced
– 1/2 red onion, minced
– 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
– 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, minced
– Salt, to taste

Pico de Gallo

– 3 large tomatoes, small dice
– 1 red onion, small dice
– 1/3 cup cilantro, minced (or to taste)
– 1/2 lime, juiced
– 2 jalapeños, seeds removed, minced
– Salt, to taste

– Pineapple, diced

– Green pepper, sliced thin

– Corn tortillas

Cut the tempeh in small slices, or even small ‘sticks’, spread in a shallow baking dish. To prepare the marinade, mix all the ingredients in a blender. Because you are adding hot water, leave an opening for the vapor to escape. Once well mixed, pour over your tempeh. Leave to marinate about 30-45minutes, while you prepare the condiments. 

For the guacamole, mash the avocados well in a small salad bowl, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

For the pico de gallo, mix together all the ingredients in a small salad bowl. 

Once the tempeh has marinated and your condiments are ready, you need to pan fry it. Drain your tempeh gently, but keep the marinade. Heat a large skillet with a little canola oil and add your tempeh. Turn heat to medium/ high. You will want to fry the tempeh until it is nice and coloured and very slightly crisp on the outside. I usually add a few tablespoons of the marinade whenever it starts to stick. This makes for a very flavorful tempeh. I add about 6 tablespoons of the marinade in total. Make sure you taste and adjust your salt.

Once cooked, I usually serve everything on the table and people can make their own tacos. It’s fun and delicious! 

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Just the other day I was enjoying the sun in my t-shirt and today it is the most miserable and wet day! I hate abrupt weather changes; they always make me feel groggy. I felt like I needed a little pick me up, and the hubby was begging for cookies. So, I decided to revisit an old favourite, the Cowboy Cookie. These were one of the first cookies I made when I became vegan. My ‘newbie vegan’ cookbook collection was basically all of Isa’s books! I love her so much, she really made my shift a painless one!

Check out her awesome site http://www.theppk.com

I have always loved these cookies, but I thought the time had come to make them a little more health friendly. Here is the revisited recipe with some ingredients changed out according to what I prefer to put in my desserts. I replaced the white sugar with maple syrup, as I didn’t think the flavor would bother in this bold cookie (and it doesn’t). I also replaced the canola oil with coconut oil, my favourite for baking. Since there already is some coconut in the recipe, the oil just makes the coconut flavor pop even more. Finally, I also replaced the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. These cookies are so super good! Keep in mine that they are more of a ‘meal cookie’, not a cookie you would have after lunch with coffee (unless you are SUPER hungry). These guys are power houses! Hubby likes to have one for breakfast. 

This recipe makes many giant cookies! So, share the love!

Ingredients (for 20 large cookies)IMG_1602

– 2 cups rolled oats
– 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 2/3 cup coconut oil
– 2/3 cup maple syrup
– 3/4 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup nondairy milk
– 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (I sometimes replace with chia)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 generous cup shredded coconut
– 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
– 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or cookie sheets.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, sugar, milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. Let sit 5 minutes. If your coconut oil isn’t liquid, you will want to whisk really well to make sure there aren’t any huge clumps of it anywhere.

Fold half the dry mix into the wet and once moist, add in the rest of the flour mix. Once combined add in the coconut shreds, chocolate chips and pecans. 

For each cookie, drop a golfball size of dough on the sheet, keeping 2 inches between each cookie. Gently press down with your fingers to flatten it a bit and give it a nice round shape. This version of the dough is way less sticky to your fingers so this is an easy process.

Bake in the oven for 14-15minutes, as soon as you see a bit of color around the edges, take them out. Be careful not to over-bake them or they will become rock hard! Let rest 5minutes on the baking sheet and then fully cool on the wire rack. 

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I was having sandwich cravings this weekend. Especially for this sandwich. I used to be a big tuna salad fan before becoming vegan. Now, a few years and numerous ‘pet’ goldfish later (one of them who squirts me when begging for food, and one who just turned 18!), I am happy to have this alternative in case I’m feeling ‘sandwich-y’. This awesome salad doesn’t cause sky-rocketing mercury and arsenic levels in your blood, and leaves the tuna fish (and dolphins) in the sea a little longer.

This is my go-to mock tuna salad. I just love it! Pair it with a good quality whole grain bread with nuts and seeds and some well picked condiments for the perfect lunch treat.

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Ingredients (salad for 4 sandwiches)

– 2 cans chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
– 1/3 cup vegenaise (eggless mayo)
– 2 carrots, peeled and small diced
– 3 celery stalks, sliced thinly
– 1/4 cup fresh 
parsley, minced
– 1/2 red onion, minced
– 2 tablespoons capers
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– 2 tablespoons dulse flakes (optional)
– S+P to taste

Blend the chickpeas in a food processor until left with flaky pieces. Add to a medium salad bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.

Construct your sandwich with 2 slices of crunchy fresh bread, a few leaves of your favourite salad, a few slices of tomatoes and you are set!

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Enjoy this lovely lunch!

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I hope everyone is enjoying a ‘summery’ weekend like I have been. Just when I thought fall was near, we get a delightfully warm and sunny day. Fully appreciated! Anyways, I didn’t have much time in the kitchen today since I was trying to sort out my crazy garden plants; I swear the sage is going to take over the entire garden soon. That thing is a MONSTER! 

It had been a while since I made quinoa salad, so I decided to make a mexican inspired one as I had leftover ingredients from some tacos I made the other day. I was so surprised by just how delicious this salad turned out to be! It has some simple ingredients and the prep doesn’t take very long. It was perfect.

It’s funny because I arrived to culinary school absolutely hating cilantro and thinking it tasted like a bar of soap and now; almost a year later, I am obsessed with it! It makes so many dishes that much more incredible. Plus, I love how you can eat raw red onion with cilantro and not get that onion taste in your mouth. It’s like magic. And, since I do love my raw onions, it’s a major win!

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Ingredients (salad for two)

– 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
– 1 cup water
– 1 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
– large pinch sea salt

– 1 avocado, half mashed, half medium dice
– 1/2 small red onion, small dice
– 1/2 cup kidney beans, pre-cooked or canned
– 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced, seeds removed
– 1 bunch cilantro, minced
– 1/2 lime, juiced

– salt, to taste

– 1 scallion, green part sliced, for garnish

First, you need to cook your quinoa. Place your drained quinoa in a small pot with the water, cumin, ginger and salt; bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium/low and let simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-25minutes. Once cooked, let cool a few minutes and fluff with a fork. I love the flavor of this cumin quinoa. 

While the quinoa is cooking, you can prep all your other ingredients and mix them together in a medium salad bowl. Once the quinoa is at room temperature, mix in everything together. Make sure you adjust the salt well in the end so the flavors really pop.

ENJOY!

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Hello everyone,

I decided to make Fridays all about vegan friendly places we scouted out throughout the year. I guess you should learn a little about how hubby and I travel. When in the US, it is usually always a compromise between him dying to go visit the South and become some sort of badass vegan cowboy rancher dude owning a pick up, and me trying to stay away from boot wearing, and hat carrying places. As you can see, it’s not very easy. Last February, for our 5th anniversary of being together, we decided to go visit Austin, TX. He was satisfied to ‘go south’ and I was even more satisfied because:

1. I felt like it was going to give me a break from the crazy cold NYC weather.

2. I had heard great things about the alternative, intellectual, and VEGAN community there.

I was super excited, and so was he, as he packed his cowboy boots! 

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After arriving and as we made our way to the city, I started scouting out some vegan spots on HappyCow. I quite like HappyCow, it is usually the first thing I check when we travel. I prefer recommendations with lots of pictures so I can see what the food looks like and get a feel for the atmosphere. 

Because I had read a lot about the food truck culture in Austin, and since we all know my obsession with NYC’s Cinnamon Snail. I decided our first stop would be for CUPCAKES! Off we went to find the little Capital City Bakery truck, an all vegan bakery. The different thing with Austin’s food trucks is that they seem to have permanent placements in food truck parkings, usually with some tables and benches around. It’s a nice feel, however, I prefer the freedom (even if it comes with major stress!) to move around daily and reach as many people possible.

The Capital City Bakery was just awesome! The owner was there and she was super sweet and friendly! I have a major issue with bakery people being grumpy; have a cupcake! Anyways, we chatted a bit about her truck and how she runs it all and she was excited to find out I was following the program at NGI. 

My hubby (those who know him won’t be surprised) ordered an entire box of cupcakes for us, “to try and compare” and our sausage dog also got a special dog treat! We sat in the sun in front of the truck and got on with our sugar rush!

Review

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For those of you who don’t know me well, I am VERY picky about cupcakes. Before becoming vegan I never even ate them because I just found them way too heavy. Nowadays, I love a vegan cupcake done right! For me, the frosting is critical. I can’t stand those frostings that taste ‘fake’, making you wonder what type of artificial crap went into them. Or the ones who scream ‘shortening’! The frosting has to be light and fluffy as well as bold and fragrant. There also has to be the right amount, I don’t really want a mouthful of frosting.

The cake has to be fluffy and moist, and not the weight of a hockey puck! The cupcakes here looked so awesome I right away had my eye on the peanut butter crunch one! Anything that involves peanut butter and chocolate is made for me! Doesn’t it look awesome, I would eat one right now!

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I really wasn’t disappointed with my expectations! This was one of the best peanut butter cupcakes I have ever had! The flavors just popped and both the frosting and cake were perfect. I also loved the ganache addition to the top. I give it a 10/10! 

All in all, a great find! Highly recommended to anyone going to Austin! They are in the process of also opening a store front so, stay tuned.

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