BABY FOOD SMOOTHIE | PURE SPOON

Hang in there. It’s really not as crazy as it sounds.

I was sent a few samples of Pure Spoon baby food, a cold-pressed baby food company that is really transparent about the ingredients it uses and values maximum nutrition for growing little bellies. This was a tough one for me, because although I stand behind the values of the company, I didn’t have a clue what I would do with baby food.

The obvious choice was to feed the samples (Avocado Apple Pear, Carrot Zucchini, and Butternut Squash Apple and Oat) to Rigby and let her pick her favorite.

Pure Spoon Baby Food

With a little thought, I realized that Pure Spoon baby food is perfect for smoothies. Think about it:

  • the ingredients are already prepped
  • we drink smoothies to be healthy, and Pure Spoon has maximum nutrients due to its High Pressure Pasteurization
  • Pure Spoon baby food comes in mixed flavors, so you can make more interesting and unique smoothies with less effort and ingredients
  • baby food is already blended, so less noisy blending and more delicious slurping

Baby Food Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 frozen banana
  • 8 ounces organic apple juice
  • 1 single-serving Pure Spoon baby food (my recommendation is Avocado, Apple & Pear)
  • Optional add-ons: handful of spinach, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  1. Put everything in the blender and blend, baby!

Apple Cupcakes with Maple Almond Frosting

You know how you fall in love with a certain kind of food and gorge on it. Like, it’s all you can think about for days and days and days, and basically, it’s all you eat for days and days and days. Then, all of a sudden, you want nothing to do with it?

Well, that’s sort of what happened to me and baking. When I started recording my recipes digitally 6 years ago (!) a majority of them were baked goods. I tried a little of everything, and failed a lot, but ultimately fell off the baking bandwagon. My cravings changed when I went back to school – instead of being able to eat my weight in cupcakes, I ate sleeves of Ritz crackers and bags of potato chips.

Apple Cupcakes with Maple Almond Frosting - Vegan Heartbeats

Now I’m back. I know this because I recently made 24 cupcakes, two different flavors, for a pot luck with less than 10 people. I went overboard. And I loved it. I missed being that friend that always has dessert to push on people – like when you go to your grandma’s house and somehow she always has cookies coming out of the oven. I want people to come over hungry and leave with a cavity.

This recipe was inspired by a new product that was sent to me. Maple Vanilla Almond Butter that’s made with no added sugars and infused with protein. So it’s the healthiest, most delicious nut butter out there. Naturally, I found a way to make it unhealthy, but more on that later…

D’s Naturals, a company that makes the No Cow protein bar, makes almond and peanut butter in four flavors. I have been using the Smores Peanut Butter as a spread for graham crackers. I feel like I am treating myself, but with no added sugar and extra protein, it’s a snack I can feel really good about.

When I first tasted the Maple Vanilla Almond Butter I knew I wanted to make it into frosting for my applesauce cake.  Miraculously, I had a jar of my mom’s homemade applesauce leftover from last fall. I seriously don’t know how it survived that long, because it is crazy good. The cupcake recipe is straightforward, just measure and mix, measure and mix. The trick to the making the frosting fluffy and irresistible is turning the mixer on high and just forgetting about it for a few minutes. In my experience, nut butter based frostings can be thick, too rich and almost more of a fudge than a buttercream consistency. By adding an extra teaspoon of milk and not rushing your mixer, you’ll get a super fluffy frosting that is mind blowingly delicious.

Apple Cupcakes with Maple Almond Frosting - Vegan Heartbeats

Apple Cupcakes with Maple Almond Frosting

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Apple Cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of canola oil
  • 1 cup, packed, brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce, preferably homemade
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line or grease a cupcake tin.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix the ground flax seeds and warm water in a small bowl and set aside to thicken.
  4. Combine the canola oil, sugar, extract and applesauce in a medium bowl. Add the flax/water mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix with a whisk until there are no large lumps remaining.
  6. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake liner, or until each liner is two-thirds full.
  7. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake is pulled out clean.

Maple Almond Frosting

  • 1/4 cup D’s Natural Vanilla Maple Almond Fluffbutter*
  • 1/4 cup earth balance, or other vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
  • drop of almond extract (optional)
  • 2-4 teaspoons almond milk
  • small pinch of salt
  1. Combine the almond butter, margarine, and shortening in an electric mixer and beat until combined.
  2. With the mixer on the lowest setting, add three cups of the powdered sugar about a half cup at a time.
  3. Add the extracts, if using, two teaspoons of almond milk and a pinch of salt.
  4. Once combined, turn the speed up to high and let mix for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Give the frosting a taste, and add a little milk if it’s too thick, and a little extra sugar if it has a pasty texture. Turn the speed back up and let mix for 2-3 minutes.

Assembly

  1. Allow cupcakes to cool in the cupcake tin for 10-15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely at room temperature.
  2. Use a piping bag and frosting tip, scoop (pictured) or a butter knife to add frosting to the cupcakes. Garnish with a slivered almond or sprinkle of cinnamon.

* Substitute plain almond butter and 1/2 a teaspoon of maple extract if unable to find D’s Natural Vanilla Maple Almond Fluffbutter.

Recap! Healthy Breakfasts Cooking Class & Printable Recipe Card

Are you feeling the rush of fall yet? You know I’ve been feeling it since the beginning of August, but I am catching vibes from pretty much everyone that fall is here this past week. I’m not even in school this year (I’m still a little sad about that) and I am feeling the time crunch and hustle bustle. I’m not exaggerating when I say I drank a half gallon of coffee every day this week.

I taught a Healthy Breakfasts Cooking Class with Maker Mountain Studios the other weekend, and the timing just felt perfect. We made Whole Wheat Muffins, two-ways with frozen fruit and dried fruit, and Coconut Chia Pudding with a topping bar, so attendees could customize their parfaits.  This was my first time teaching this class and I’m already brainstorming ideas for the coming months (skipping September because of the wedding).  Stay tuned to the Vegan Heartbeats Facebook and be sure to check out the Maker Mountain Studios Facebook for a full list of their events. They have Blacksmithing classes each month and felted wool classes where you make little woodland creatures, dryer balls and coffee cup sleeves, plus many more unique classes.

Coconut Chia Pudding has been my saving grace breakfast food. I make a big jar (32 ounces) at the beginning of the week and breakfast is taken care of. The biggest selling point (other than how amazingly treat-like it tastes) is how customizable it is. I can add different toppings, so even though I’m eating the same thing every day, I can trick myself into thinking it’s different. This is important, especially for me, because I can get bored of a food if I eat it too often. For breakfast, that means I end up skipping it altogether.  Some of my favorite combos are:

  • Diced peach with slivered almonds
  • Banana and melted peanut butter drizzled on top
  • Sprinkling with extra cinnamon and cocoa powder

Coconut Chia Pudding is hard to describe. It’s coconut-y, creamy, and thick. It’s sweet and cold. It’s the texture of tapioca pudding, but also very reminiscent of whipped cream.

I’d love to see your personal creations. Share pictures of any VHB recipes you try on Facebook and Instagram – tag me @veganheartbeats!

Click here to download a pdf recipe card for my Coconut Chia Pudding.

Cookbook Review: Frugal Vegan

What better time to cook through and review the Frugal Vegan cookbook than a little over a month before our wedding?

At first glance you might feel like something is missing. Frugal. How can you eat well on a budget? The authors, Katie and Kate of Well Vegan, did a great job of creating balanced recipes that check all of the right boxes. Affordable. Quick. Healthy. Filling. Oh, and delicious.

I tried a lot of recipes from Frugal Vegan, all of them delicious, but I decided to share something different with you all.  I normally don’t make or share “cheesy” vegan food.  I tend to save those recipes for awkward dinner parties when you have to bring a crowd-pleasing dish. I used to make things like Carrot Applesauce or Za’atar Chickpea Salad. Now, obviously I stand behind both of those recipes, but I’m just asking for trouble by bringing unpronounceable spiced chickpeas and baby food to parties. I learned my lesson quickly, if I didn’t want to stand out (which I never want to do – why did I buy bright yellow glasses?) I needed to make food that no one would ever know was vegan.

Gooey Mushroom Quesadillas

Photo from the Frugal Vegan Cookbook

 

Enter Frugal Vegan. Their recipe for ooey-gooey Mushroom Quesadillas blew my mind. The ooey-gooey is from TOFU! Not, like I was anticipating, a package of store-bought vegan cheese. This recipe is basically a homemade, fuss-free, vegan pepperjack cheese that is salty, melty, a little stretchy and just a touch spicy. They feature it as a quesadilla, but I used the leftover tofu filling for grilled cheese sandwiches, tossed in pasta (mac n cheese style), and on roasted potatoes.

Frugal Vegan Gooey Mushroom Quesadillas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe is from the recently released Frugal Vegan cookbook.

  • 8 oz extra-firm tofu, drained
  • ½ cup and 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp tapioca flour
  • 1½ tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • Pico de gallo, for serving, optional
  • Guacamole, for serving, optional
  1. To make the cheese, first press the tofu with several layers of paper towel to remove as much water as possible. Then, break the tofu into a few small pieces and add them to the bowl of a food processor, followed by the water, tapioca flour, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt. Blend until completely smooth.
  2. Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray. Sauté the mushrooms until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Transfer the cheese mixture to a small saucepan and stir constantly over low heat. The cheese will begin to clump and eventually become gooey. Add the red pepper flakes and continue stirring for another minute or so. Add the sautéed mushrooms to the cheese mixture and stir to evenly combine. Remove from heat.
  3. Lay the tortillas flat and spread one half with a quarter of the cheese mixture. Fold the tortillas in half and press lightly to seal. Wipe the skillet you used to cook the mushrooms with a paper towel and re-coat with cooking spray. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook the quesadillas until lightly brown and crispy, about 2 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining three tortillas. Cut each quesadilla into four pieces and serve immediately with pico de gallo and guacamole, if desired.

Fall Lentil Salad with Apples & Beets

It’s too early. I know.

But.

I am so excited about fall. I always love fall, but this year it’s a bigger deal.  I am more aware of the changing season because this year, fall means it’s time for our WEDDING.

Maybe my subconscious is playing tricks on me, but the days are starting and ending with a brisk coolness to them. We had soup for dinner the other night, made in the crockpot! Maybe I am spinning out of control.

Fall Lentil Salad with Apples and Beets - Vegan Heartbeats

This recipe for Fall Lentil Salad with Apples & Beets is perfect for late August – when weather is still warm, but fall is unmistakable. This time of the year tends to be insanely busy, so this recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes and can be made in advance. With less than 10 ingredients, this salad is hearty and fresh. This side dish is guaranteed to impress guests when served topped with fresh herbs, but if you want to keep it all to yourself, it’s a perfect addition to a packed lunch.

Fall Lentil Salad with Apples and Beets - Vegan HeartbeatsFall Lentil Salad with Apples and Beets - Vegan HeartbeatsFall Lentil Salad with Apples and Beets - Vegan HeartbeatsFall Lentil Salad with Apples and Beets - Vegan Heartbeats

Fall Lentil Salad with Apples & Beets

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Serve cold, with an orange slice and topped with some fresh herbs, like parsley or mint.

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 golden beets, peeled and cubed
  • 2 apples, cubed
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Combine the lentils and water (or broth) in a small saucepan. If cooking in water, add a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until most water is absorbed and lentils are tender. Stir frequently.
  2. Add the cubed beets to a separate sauce pan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until beets are fork tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  3. Combine the cubed apples, orange juice, oil, salt and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cooked beets and lentils. Toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Glazed Tofu

I have been OBSESSED with anything sesame-soy-miso-ginger this summer. They all come together in this Cold Soba Noodle Salad. The nutritionist in me thinks it’s because these flavors are satiating. Even though they are most often served cold, they tend to satisfy your appetite, due to the high salt content.  And it has been HOT in Columbus – salad suppers are a must.

This whole obsession started with my most recent purchase of miso. I use miso in a lot of recipes, just to add a little more depth. Miso is salty and sometimes sweet, tangy even, but it gets it’s fame from it’s umami characteristics.  I refuse to buy the little containers of nutritional yeast, so I only buy it when a store has it in bulk containers, leaving me without most of the time (vegan sacrilege, I know). Because of it’s umami, nuttiness and slight tang, miso is a really good substitute for nutritional yeast.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Glazed Tofu - Vegan

Since it’s a fermented product, miso lasts for a long time. For some reason when I bought this container of it, I promised myself to use it quickly. I do this sometimes, and I don’t know why, but really delicious recipes are born because of it.

Soba noodles are made out of buckwheat. You can find some gluten free brands, but most are cut with whole wheat flour. I think they are the easiest of the Asian noodle varieties to work with. I love rice noodles, but they always clump up on me. Soba noodles cook like Italian pasta, in boiling water. They take 4 minutes, and then I drain them and rush them with cold water. You can make them ahead of time and store them covered in cold water. Soba noodles are more delicate than Italian pasta, so they are great served cold in a salad on a hot summer day.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Glazed Tofu - Vegan

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Glazed Tofu - Vegan

The rest of this recipe is two insanely easy sauces/dressings, some easy marinated tofu and fresh chopped veggies.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Glazed Tofu

  • Servings: 4 sides, 2 entrees
  • Difficulty: easy
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I know this looks like a lot…but it’s really not. The long prep time is mainly to marinate the tofu. Read through the recipe instructions first so you understand the flow, and it’ll all come together quickly!

Marinated Tofu

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Miso Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon yellow miso
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Sesame Ginger Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic

Cold Soba Salad

  • 1/3 package of soba noodles (they come already separated in thirds)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (or, use your peeler to make ribbons, as pictured)
  • 2 radishes, halved and sliced thin
  • 2 cups fresh kale, chopped
  1. Marinate the tofu: Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, oil, red pepper flakes and liquid smoke in an oven safe dish. Slice the tofu into eight 1/4″ thick slices. Add the tofu to the marinade, so each piece is coated completely. Let marinate for 1 hour, flipping each slice halfway through.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  3. Heat a small pot of water with a big pinch of salt. When it boils, add the soba noodles. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and immediately rinse in cold water. If you are making them ahead of time, keep them submerged in cold water until ready to use.
  4. Make the Miso Glaze: Use a whisk to combine the water, miso, ginger and agave in small bowl. Heat a heavy skillet, like a cast iron pan. Brush each piece of tofu with the glaze. Place the tofu in the pan with the glazed side down. Add the glaze to the other side. Flip the tofu after about 3 minutes, reglaze the first side. After about 3 minutes the tofu should be done – each side should have a nice caramelized sear from the glaze.
  5. Combine the soba noodles, red pepper, carrot, radish and kale in a large bowl. Measure and combine the sesame, vinegar, water, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a blender*. Blend on high for about 1 minute and pour directly over the soba mixture. Use your hands or tongs to toss.
  6. Serve the salad cold and top with the glazed tofu.

*Blenders aren’t necessary, but they help to emulsify the dressing. If you skip the blender and opt for a good old fashioned whisk, you’ll want to grate your garlic so it’s super fine, or sub it out for 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.

Breakfast Burritos with BFree Gluten Free Wraps

I was first introduced to gluten free bread products when I worked at an organic cafe in North Carolina.  I dreaded when tickets would come into the kitchen with gluten free in that red type that signifies a modification to a menu item. If you work in a kitchen, you know exactly what that means – the more red, the more dread.  The gluten free wraps we used back then would just crumble. If you were lucky, you could get it wrapped up and on a plate, but you know it crumbled the second the hungry customer put a finger on it.

Since I have no health conditions that lead me eat a gluten free diet, I have just stayed away from these products.  That is until BFree Foods delivered a HUGE box of gluten free breads, rolls, wraps, pitas and bagels to my doorstep.  Their products are gluten free, but also vegan, which is rare for gluten free breads, which typically contain eggs to replace the protein lost by omitting gluten. Some of the products, like the wraps featured in this recipe, are loaded with extra nutrients from chia seeds, quinoa and teff.

Unlike those first gluten free wraps, these are easy to handle and don’t crumble. The superfood wraps used in this breakfast burrito recipe have an earthy taste to them, likely from the teff and other grains used to put the “super” in superfood. Other BFree Foods products, like the bagels and rolls don’t have any of that earthy aftertaste – everything slices, toasts and holds foods just like a traditional pitas, bagels, wraps and sandwich breads.

This recipe is like a compilation of my time in North Carolina. After the organic cafe closed, I went to work for a different cafe and bakery called Mad Hatter’s Cafe and Bakeshop.  The cafe was a popular brunch spot, located across the street from Duke University. Our best seller was, you guessed it, a breakfast burrito.

This cafe holds a special place in my heart because that’s where Josh and I met. He likes to tell people we met in jail, but I’m a terribly awkward liar, so that story always falls flat. We’ve been away for 5 years now, and I would love to make a trip back there, someday, for the nostalgic rush it will give me.

Until then, I’ll stick with replicating the breakfast burrito. The recipe made three. You can squeeze it into four, since three is a rando quantity. I ate one, wrapped the other two in foil and popped them in the freezer. I don’t have a microwave, so I reheat them in the oven. It takes about 5-10 minutes and works really well!

Breakfast Burrito - Vegan/GFBreakfast Burrito - Vegan/GF

Breakfast Burrito - Vegan/GFBreakfast Burrito - Vegan/GFBreakfast Burrito - Vegan/GF

Gluten Free Breakfast Burrito

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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I used this recipe as an opportunity to explore Follow Your Heart’s new product, Vegan Egg. The consistency is exactly like a scrambled egg, but the taste is pretty bland.  I still add spices, like I would to a tofu scramble, so if you want to sub out the Vegan Egg for your favorite tofu scramble, be my guest.

Beans:

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

Vegan Egg:

  • 1 cup chopped veggies (onion, peppers, mushroom and garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Vegan Eggs (follow package instructions for water/powder ratio)

Assembly:

  • 3-4 BFree Foods Gluten Free Wraps
  • Avocado, salsa, cilantro and scallions to garnish, optional
  1. Add the black beans, soy sauce, liquid smoke, cumin, crushed red pepper flake and paprika to a small sauce pan. Heat over medium-low heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to create a slightly saucy consistency with the spices. Let cook on low to heat through the beans while you prepare the Vegan Egg.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the vegetables. Add a splash of water to prevent them from sticking. Avoid using oil, as the Vegan Egg doesn’t absorb it, so using oil just makes your whole dish slimy and oily (aka gross). If you feel like pieces are sticking to the pan, add a splash of water or even a tiny bit of vinegar or lemon juice and stir.
  3. After about 5 minutes, add the chili powder, curry powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and add your Vegan Egg mixture. Use a spatula to stir and cook as you would scrambled eggs. Continue to cook like this until the Vegan Egg has solidified, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Nuke your wraps in the microwave for 15 seconds, so they are warm and pliable. Add a big scoop of beans to the center and top with the Vegan Egg. Fold the left and right sides in, tuck in the bottom corners. Fold the bottom up and roll the rest, so you have a completely closed burrito. Repeat until all wraps are now filled breakfast burritos.
  5. Return the burritos to a pan to slightly toast the wrap. This step is optional, but adds a nice crunch and will help the wrap stand up to salsa.
  6. Top the burritos with salsa, avocado, cilantro and scallions (or whatever you fancy) and devour!

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream

Summer is supposed to be about salads, forgetting about the oven for a while, and lots of ice cream. I get that. I’m eating a salad right now actually. An Asian Cabbage Salad with Miso Dressing, which I am currently addicted to. But that’s for another day.

Today we celebrate the wonder that is Banana Bread. As far as comfort food goes, banana bread is the most underrated of them all. Today I’m sharing a classic recipe, since we’re spicing it up with french toast and cashew cream, but if you’re feeling adventurous, or revisiting this post for a future Banana Bread Baking Session (BBBS), add some chocolate chips and crystallized ginger.

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream - V

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream - V

This Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream starts with the bananas. They must be overripe – if you’re thinking that your bananas are questionably edible, they’re perfect. They should be mushy, brown and oozing sugary goodness. Typically, banana bread recipes will have you mash and mash until there’s not a single chunk resembling a banana. I, on the other hand, purposefully leave big chunks of banana to stud my bread.

Next is the cashew cream. To get a super smooth, velvety texture out of the cashews, you’ll want to soak them in water for at least 2 hours at room temperature. If you use cashews in recipes for a cream base or thickener, you probably already have some soaking in the on-deck circle. Cashew cream is like a hybrid of cream cheese and room temperature butter. It’s thick, but soft. It has a creamy, melt in your mouth texture. It’s sweet with just a hint of tanginess from fresh lemon juice.

Finally the french toast batter. I get a lot of questions about how to make french toast vegan, since it’s typically an egg-based batter. Using a plant milk-based batter that’s thickened slightly with flour, flavored with cinnamon and adding nutritional yeast to give it that malty flavor, creates a french toast that is indistinguishable from the eggy variety.

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream - V

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream - V

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream - V

My dad didn’t cook much for us growing up, but he did make us french toast.  He would bring home those long loaves of Texas toast and make the entire package into french toast. Although he never made Banana Bread French Toast, I can guarantee he’d gobble this up.

Banana Bread French Toast with Cashew Cream

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe is divided into three parts, so it looks daunting. I always make the banana bread the night before (or earlier) and let my cashews soak overnight. Then I’ll whip up the cashew cream, pop it in the fridge and make french toast!

Banana Bread:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 over ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray or line a loaf pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Use a whisk to mix everything up. Set aside.
  3. Peel the bananas into a medium bowl. Use a fork to mash them against the sides of the bowl. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla to the bananas and mix well.
  4. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before removing the bread and slicing.

Cashew Cream:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours in water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup date puree, or 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • ~1/4 cup of water
  1. Drain the cashews and place them in a blender or food processor with the vanilla, date puree, lemon juice and salt. Start blending.
  2. Add the water by the tablespoon. You only want to add enough water to get a smooth and creamy texture, so take it slow. Keep blending, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and check the texture by rubbing a pea-sized amount between your fingers – you shouldn’t feel any grit.
  3. Transfer to a tupperware container and place in the fridge until ready to use.

French Toast:

  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons date puree, or 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  1. Mix the flour, nutritional yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg in a shallow dish. Add the date puree and the almond milk. Mix well.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan or griddle with a touch of oil.  Slice the banana bread and dip each piece in the french toast batter, making sure it’s completely coated before transferring it to the pan.
  3. Cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side. Wait until you see the runoff batter turn brown before you flip each piece. This will ensure you get an even crust on the slice.

Assembly: Plate on slice of french toast and smother it with the cashew cream. Add another slice on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.

 

 

Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy

When was the last time your dinner surprised you? This recipe for a Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy will do just that. It looks and tastes like an indulgent, forget-about-your-workout type of dinner. But it’s packed with nutrition – protein, vitamin A, iron and fiber – to name a few, and it’s a fat free recipe.

I initially came up with this recipe for a meal plan, a customized dietary guide for a client who is trying to increase his energy levels through a plant-based diet. The goal for this set of meal plans is to create recipes that can be made ahead of time, boost appetite, and cut out processed foods and added sugars.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad - V GF

If you have a day or a few hours, when you park yourself in the kitchen and bust out some prep to make weeknight dinners easier, this recipe is a must. The sweet potatoes are twice baked, so the first bake – when they are cooked through – can be done in advance. This cuts about 40 minutes off of the cook time and helps you get a healthy dinner on the table in no time flat!

Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy - V/GF

Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy - V/GF

Here’s why I am obsessed with this recipe for Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy:

  • 8 ingredients, enough said
  • I can prep it ahead of time
  • It’s indulgent and healthy
  • I usually have all the ingredients at home, they’re my pantry staples
  • All of the ingredients are super cheap

Before I jump into the recipe, we need to talk about this gravy.  Normally gravy is laden with fat (typically from an animal), cooked into a roux with flour and thinned out with broth.  The white beans give this recipe a fatty, velvety texture that you would expect from a gravy, but with none of the fat! And, there’s no flour, so it’s naturally gluten free.

Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy - V/GF

Twice Baked Sweet Potato with White Bean Gravy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Wash the sweet potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise (pole to pole). Lay on a lined baking sheet, cut side down. Poke each half with a fork a few times. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip and bake for 15 more minutes, or until tender.
  2. Sauté the onion in a very small amount of oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the vinegar and stir until it is almost completely evaporated/absorbed.
  3. Add the white beans and seasoning. Use your spoon to mash some of the beans and mix with the onions and garlic.
  4. Add the broth, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and continue mashing some of the beans. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Turn on the broiler in your oven, or if you don’t have a broiler, heat your oven to 500F.  With the peel side of the sweet potato down, use a fork to sort of open up the sweet potato, but still keeping the shell in tact, as a sort of boat or vessel. Broil for 5-6 minutes, until heated up and slightly crispy on the edges.
  6. Plate the sweet potato (one serving is equal to a whole potato) and smother with gravy.

Tip: If you make the gravy ahead of time, you can add it to the potato before you broil it, so you heat everything up together. Just use a dish that will be able to collect any gravy that runs over the edge of the potato!

 

 

Cookbook Review: The China Study Family Cookbook

*Head over to Instagram for some more pictures of recipes I tried from The China Study Family Cookbook & enter to win a copy of the book. Winner will be picked randomly on Saturday, June 10th at 9 am EST.*

The China Study Family Cookbook is the latest book under the China Study umbrella that aims to bring healthy recipes and tips that the whole family will enjoy at a plant-based dinner table. The recipes guide parents to safely engage their children in the kitchen with fun flavors to distract from eating healthy and provides age appropriate cooking tasks to foster a love for cooking early on.  The China Study Family Cookbook delivers whole food recipes that make cooking enjoyable for the entire family.

Kids or not, this book is great for anyone eating a plant-based diet for health reasons, as all of the recipes include nutritional information, and shy away from added sugars and highly processed ingredients.

I especially like the fact that the book has a special focus on “blended” families, where some members eat plant-based and some don’t, since that’s how my house is.  By weaving stories from similar families into recipes and cooking tips, the China Study Family Cookbook creates a sense of empowerment around eating plant-based, regardless of how or if you prescribe to this lifestyle. For parents, these tips are great for getting your children to try new foods and give them a hands-on experience with food, which is integral in creating a positive mindset around eating healthy.

Some of the recipes include:

  • Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal (recipe below!)
  • Sweet Potato Hummus
  • Ode to Pimento Spread Sandwiches
  • Twice-Baked Samosa Potatoes (recipe below!)
  • Blondies
  • and 95 more!

The only caveat here is that some of the recipes take a decent amount of time. Use the resources at the beginning of the book to help you plan your meals out, and pay attention to what you might be able to do ahead of time, to make weeknight meals a little less time consuming, but still nutritious and delicious!

The China Study Family Cookbook - Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Think soft granola bars. This comes together like a giant bowl of oatmeal that you’ll bake and then cut into bars. I froze leftover bars to pull out as I need them for a nutritious snack or breakfast on the run.

  • 2 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (see Note; optional)
  • 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup Date Puree (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, toasted pecans (if using), baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and sea salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the plant milk, carrots, date puree and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour the batter into a nonstick 9×13 baking dish. Bake until lightly browned on top, 35-40 minutes.
  5. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Note: You can toast nuts in the oven or on the stovetop. Oven: preheat to 350F. Coarsely chop the nuts and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the nuts until fragrant and lightly browned, about 7-8 minutes. Stovetop: coarsely chop the nuts and toast them in a skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes.

Date Puree (makes about 3 cups):  This is used in a lot of recipes in the cookbook to replace processed sugars. It’s not as sweet and gives a more caramel-like flavor, natural sweetness to baked goods.

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 2 cups water
  1. Combine the dates and water in a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until the dates are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the cooking water.
  2. Puree the dates in a blender, adding just enough water to make a smooth, creamy consistency (don’t add too much water because it’ll mess with the recipes you use it in!). Let cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

The China Study Family Cookbook - Twice-Baked Samosa Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe turns the traditional East Indian Samosa appetizer inside out.  Potatoes, tofu and fresh veggies come together to deliver a nutritional punch that’ll put a baked potato on the center of the dinner plate.

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) package extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup green peas
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Scrub the potatoes well and pierce each a few times with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour.
  3. While the potatoes bake, puree the silken tofu in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Sauté the onion in a large saucepan over medium heat until it turns translucent and starts to brown, about 8 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the onion from sticking. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the jalapeño, ginger, cilantro, mustard seeds, garam masala, coriander, and cumin. Cook for 4 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas and pureed silken tofu. Season with sea salt to taste and mix well.
  5. When the potatoes are tender, let them cool until they are easily handled. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out all but a 1/2-inch wall of the flesh. Add the scooped potato flesh to the pan with the tofu mixture and mix well.
  6. Spoon the filling into each of the baked potato halves and place them back on the baking sheet. Bake until the tops of the potatoes are browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve.

Whether you’re trying to increase the whole foods in your life – and I’m talking fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and minimally prepared foods, not the grocery store – this book is for you. It was created to be a resource for parents, but it delivers helpful tips and nutritionally sound recipes for any cook.