Ahhhh, tofu. The name conjures mixed emotions when it comes to eating this unusual plant food. Tofu is a curd that is made directly from soybeans and resembles a soft white cheese or a very firm yogurt. Tofu is water-extracted and salt- or acid-coagulated soy protein gel with water, soy lipids, and other constituents trapped in its network. In simple terms, the soybeans are boiled in water, the water is extracted from the bean, a coagulant is added (sometimes lemon juice when making the homemade variety) until curds develop, it's formed, pressed and presto! Tofu. This age old process is quite involved and was originated in China and has been part of Chinese cuisine for over 2,000 years, since the Han dynasty. The name Tofu literally means "fermented bean curd". Tofu does not a distinguishable flavor, and actually quite bland. Tofu is quite the food chameleon, which means it can take on just about any flavor, herb or seasoning added to it. Tofu can be incorporated into sweet as well as savory recipes like this Southwest Tofu Scramble. Many vegans and vegetarians enjoy tofu because it is a wonderful plant-based protein source, offering 10 grams per 1/2 ounce serving. This is a great recipe when preparing breakfast for your vegan and vegetarian guests. Don't forget the Sweet Potato Home Fries >>>Scroll Down for Recipe.
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For the past several months, I have shared my menopause experience in my Facebook community Journey to Joy. During that time, it has been my intention to make other women aware of the many changes and challenges which comes with this season of life and the resources available to help women, like me, live a happy, healthy, joy-filled life.
During a woman's transition to menopause and years beyond, the hormone estrogen begins to decline, which can disrupt the normal patterns of estrogen and progesterone. When estrogen levels decline, one's metabolism is impacted which may lead to weight gain. Yep, the dreaded weight gain. Sigh. Not only that, the changes in the body can also affect cholesterol levels and how the body digests carbs, including (and surprisingly) some foods from the legume family, starchy root vegetables and grain-based food categories (think doughnuts, bagels, croissants)
While I won't dive into the specifics of foods which can help balance hormones, I will say my decision to reintroduce some animal proteins to my diet has been life-changing. The decline in estrogen from menopause has been linked to decreased muscle mass and bone strength.
For this reason, women going through menopause should eat more protein. Guidelines recommend that women over 50 eat 0.45–0.55 grams of protein per pound (1–1.2 grams per kg) of body weight daily — or 20–25 grams of high-quality protein per meal. I recommend consulting with your primary heath practitioner for guidance and to make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of protein. While I am not suggesting you discontinue your plant-based journey, if you experiencing peri/menopausal symptoms, I am suggesting you have an honest discussion with your healthcare practitioner about your health and what makes sense during this season of life. For me, including eggs, fish and wild game meats into my diet made sense for me and I feel so much better.
Now, onto the recipe.
Let me be honest, I love bread and giving up grain-based foods, especially baked goods has been very challenging. However, I have found ways to accommodate my taste buds using ingredients which my body loves. This Herbed Egg Wrap recipe provides the essential protein I need to start my day and it allows me the option of including vegetables or plant-based fillings, as well as animal protein fillings, if I so desire. In this case, I decided to fill my wrap with some leftover turkey taco meat filling since my body cannot tolerate corn or flour at this time, and topped with fresh cilantro and pico de gallo. In addition, I am all about ease and not spending as much time in the kitchen as I used to. This recipe can be prepared in less than 12 minutes and is oh so tasty! Don't believe me? Well, try it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. By the way, you can play with this recipe by adding your favorite herbs and seasonings to suite your personal tastes.
Alrighty then...download the recipe and let's get cooking.
Click HERE for Apple Butter Syrup Recipe
This Gingered-Peach Quinoa is a recipe which never disappoints me. Not only is it nourishing, but filling as well. Since peaches are only available during the summer months, I make sure I treat myself to this wonderful meal at least two times per month. I'm not sure if I mentioned this in previous blog posts, but I've discovered a sensitivity to grains (rice, oats, wheat, etc.). Although I instinctively knew grains was problematic for me, I simply could not resist food which contained grains, especially breads Have you ever visited a restaurant and the server brings a basket of warm, soft-on-the-inside, crusty-on-the-outside, butter-ready bread? Hard to resist, right? But I've since learned my craving for bread was a sign of nutrient deficiency within my own body. I'm not suggesting that everyone who craves bread is experiencing a deficiency, but for me, it was a craving which led to me eating more bread and ultimately more simple carbs. I decided to eat foods which would nourish my body and satisfy me at the same time, and that's what this dish does for me. Some may ask, "isn't quinoa a grain?" Well, not really. Not a true cereal grain, quinoa is one of the six pseudo grains that are not part of the Poaceae cereal family. Though botanically distinct, pseudocereals are generally treated as cereal grains because they are so similar nutritionally and are used culinarily like other cereal grains. I only consume quinoa 1-2 times per week, as it can become slightly aggravating to my gut if I overindulge.
So, without further delay, here's my recipe for this breakfast, lunch, dinner, anytime treat.
Be sure to come back and review this recipe.
I was never a huge fan of chocolate until I made this waffle recipe a few years ago. Although I've made waffles for quite some time now, I was often put off recipes which created waffles which were soft and couldn't stand up to syrup, often making them limp and soggy. So, after a little bit of experimentation, I developed a recipe which created a crispy, flaky exterior and soft, light interior waffle. Perfect! Yet, I wanted variations of this recipe, so once again, I experimented with cocoa powder to create this light, decadent and amazing chocolate waffle. My goal was to simplify this recipe, using my original waffle recipe as the foundation, then adding a few ingredients which are staples in many plant-based kitchens, such as cocoa powder, coconut oil, coconut milk and apple cider vinegar.
Cocoa powder is an unsweetened powder produced by grinding the seeds of the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree called the cacao, or cocoa tree. These seeds, or beans, are first fermented, then dried and roasted.
More importantly, it should be established that cocoa powder is not the same thing as cocoa mix, or instant cocoa, which—when combined with hot water or milk—instantly produces a mug full of hot cocoa. Typically sold in packets, this product contains cocoa, sugar, dehydrated milk and other ingredients, but is not what you would use to bake brownies, chocolate cake, or this waffle recipe.
Chocolate is made from cacao beans — or rather seeds — from the Theobroma cacao tree. This plant produces large, pod-like fruits, each containing 20–60 beans surrounded by a sticky, sweet-tart white pulp
As with any baking recipe, it's important that you mix all of the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients, then combine them. This will assist in homogenizing all ingredients, making a smooth, minimal-lumping waffle batter.
There are a few "make ahead" steps you'll need to take which will save you prep time. For instance, this recipe requires vegan buttermilk, which is a simple two-ingredients process. Simple mix the full-fat coconut milk with the apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. The acid from the apple cider vinegar will cause the milk to curdle slight and add tangy flavor found in traditional dairy buttermilk. Buttermilk, an essential acidic ingredient in many baking recipes, helps tenderize gluten, giving baked goods a softer texture and more body. Vegan buttermilk is a key ingredient in this recipe, so don't skip it!
You'll also need to prepare the Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer. I have found this to be one of the BEST egg replacement products for just about all of my baking needs. While you'll be tempted to add the egg replacer directly to the dry ingredients...don't. In a small bowl, combines 1 tablespoon of egg replacer and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix well and wet aside for 5 minutes. The water activates the ingredients in the egg replacer which makes it bind the batter, much like an egg. Be sure to combine the vegan buttermilk and egg replacer mixture with the wet ingredients.
While you may use a fork or rubber spatula to combine all of the ingredients, using a wire whisk is best for light whipping, adding air to the batter, which makes it light and fluffy.
To prevent your waffle batter from sticking to the waffle iron, I recommend lightly coating the grates with coconut or grape seed oil or using an oil spray. I typically my Misto oil sprayer for coating cooking and baking surfaces. You simply add your favorite cooking oil to the bottle and use the pump cap to create a aerosol mist. You can find the Misto here.
Use a measuring cup to measure batter and place in the center of the grate. No need to spread the batter and the grates will create a even waffle once the iron is closed. Use a 1/2 cup to make 4-5 large waffles or 1/3 cup to make 6-8 medium-size waffles.
Since this recipe is plant-based, I wanted to be sure I incorporated a dairy-free whipped topping recipe. Recipe below.
To make the maple almond butter, in a small bowl combine 1 cup of almond butter and 1/4 c. pure maple syrup. Mix by hand until well combined. The almond butter butter will provide the nuttiness, which is a great chocolate accompaniment, and sweetness for your waffle, so you won't need additional syrup, unless you want more.
I am a huge Sunday brunch person, so this recipe is ideal for small and large family gatherings. In order to keep your waffles warm while you making batches, set your oven to its lowest setting, place waffles on a baking sheet and keep in the oven until ready to serve.
Chocolate Almond Butter Waffles
Author | Regina Thomas Dillard
1 cup Spelt Flour (sub. Buckwheat Flour for gluten-free)
1 1/4 T. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 c. Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 1/4 c. Full Fat Coconut Milk
1 T. + 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T. Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer
1 T. Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
Prepare Coconut "Buttermilk"
in a small bowl combine coconut milk with apple cidar vinegar. Set aside for 5-10 minutes
Prepare Bob's Red Milk Egg Replacer
in a small bowl combine 1 T. Egg replacer mix and 2 T. water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Heat waffle iron
In medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients, including coconut "buttermilk" and egg replacer mixture.
Using a wire whisk, add wet ingredient to dry, combining a small amount at a time until all ingredients have been well incorporated.
Lightly grease waffle iron, top and bottom grates.
Use 1/2 c. to measure batter. Place batter in center of bottom grate. Close top grate and follow manufacturer's directions. Usually 1 minute per side.
Remove waffle from waffle iron.
Heat over to lowest setting.
Place waffles onto baking sheet and keep in oven until all waffles are done and ready to serve.
Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
1 14.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk
2-3 T. Raw Agave Nectar
1/4 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
Place a coconut milk in refrigerator and allow to sit overnight.
Next morning: Without shaking the can, turn can over and open lid.
Remove the coconut solids (only) from can and place in a mixing bowl.
Using a handheld mixer, mix on low speed.
Add agave and vanilla.
Mix all ingredients on high speed until whipped peaks form.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Will keep in refrigerator for 3 days.
Note: Use coconut liquid for smoothie and shake recipes.
Regina Thomas Dillard is a certified chef, founder of Inner Sanctum Wellness, Regina Cooks Culinary School and the author of FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love. Available softcover, digital download and Amazon.