Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Brunch!

Spring has sprung!

Daffodils and cherry blossoms in bloom, sunshine abounds, chickens laying an egg a day AT LEAST, first official run without gloves and a hat AND first weekend in the garden planting!

And of course it was Easter weekend to top it off! I officially have spring fever.

Look how pretty and spring-y our table looked :)

So what's on this years Vegan Easter Menu?
  • Fresh baked baguette
  • Mojito Fruit Salad
  • Deviled Eggs (Courtesy the lil' chick-peas who have been laying up a storm!)
  • Vegan broccoli and leek "quiche"
  • Mushroom, spinach and yam hash
  • Field roast sausages
  • Mimosas!
Got up early early to cut fruit and bake bread.

Nothing like fresh baked bread in the morning!

Except maybe a fresh fruit salad, of course.

This salad is kind of my staple - a close friend of mine made it in undergrad once and I have essentially co-opted the recipe as my own and use it frequently; it wins every time (Thanks, Jane!) :)

"Mojito" Fruit Salad
Basically, I cut up fresh:
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Mangos
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • (Pomegranate seeds -- not in season so I couldn't get them)
And toss all that beautiful fruit with
  • A GIANT handful of mint, finely chopped
  • Juice from 4-5 LARGE limes
  • 2-3 Tbsp of Agave (more to taste but just to counterbalance the acidity from the limes - fruit is naturally sweet so don't overdo it!)
Viola! Mojito Fruit Salad! Perfect for potlucks, special occasions and especially Easter Brunch.

I know deviled eggs aren't technically vegan so I won't go into them too much but they were too pretty and delicious to leave out entirely. Plus, aside from the eggs from the girls - they are totally vegan so it kind of counts, right :)?

To make these beauties I just hard-boiled the eggs (poked a hole in the bottom with a needle prior to dropping them in to make them easier to peel), cut them in half and scooped out the yolks, vigorously mixed the yolks with Vegenaise, Yellow Mustard, Sriracha, Paprika, Apple Cider Vinegar and a lil' salt and pep and then using my piping bag to pipe the mixture back into the hollowed out whites.

This puppy is vegan though:

Broccoli/Leek Quiche - adapted from Vegan Brunch

This quiche uses cashews and tofu as the base and the texture was absolutely wonderful. Even though I eat eggs again, I can tell you this quiche holds its own and I didn't miss eggs in it at all!

Broccoli/Leek Quiche
  • 1 prepared vegan pie crust
  • 1 block tofu
  • 3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 giant head of broccoli, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp dried spices of choice (tarragon, thyme, italian spices, etc...)
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp prepared yellow mustard
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Partially cook pie crust (5-6 minutes as the oven warms)

Heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat and saute onion, leek and garlic for 8-10 minutes or until soft and fragrant.

Toss in broccoli and spices and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. If it looks dry, feel free to add in veggie broth or water.

Meanwhile, in the food processor, combine cashews, tofu and mustard and pulse until fully combined. Add about half of the broccoli/leek mixture and process until you get an "eggy" consistency.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining broccoli mixture with the cashew/tofu mixture and taste for salt.

Using a spatula, spoon the mixture into the par-baked pie crust and throw it back in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until edges and top just begin to brown.

Let sit for at least 10 minutes if not longer! It will allow the quiche to firm up and achieve the correct consistency.

Mmmm quichey...

The next item on the menu was a little last minute but actually might have been my favorite thing.

I absolutely love hash.

I can't give you the exact recipe because I totally made it up and didn't write it down and don't remember to any degree of accuracy, but I will give you the general guidelines :)

Basically I boiled a couple yellow potatoes and two large yams for about 15-20 minutes or until they were super soft. When they were done I cut them up into squares - leaving the skins on (the yellow potatoes were much firmer than the yams which got mushier and actually combined to make an awesome texture).

Then, in my cast iron pan, I sauteed onion and oil for about 5 minutes and then added the chopped up potatoes and 3 large handfuls of spinach.

Pretty much after that I just tasted and seasoned continually until I had flavors I liked. I used lots of smokey salts, some hot sauce and some liquid smoke to create some layers of flavor which complemented the natural sweetness of the yams beautifully.

Top off with some salt and pepper and enjoy this power hash! Vitamin packed!!

Last but not least I cut up 2 each of the Smoked Apple Sage and Mexican Chipotle Field Roast Sausages (Hello Costco Mixed Pack!!) and sauteed them in just a touch of coconut oil until brown and crispy.

My moms (non-vegan) foodie boyfriend was impressed with the Field Roast (and, being an athlete - loved the protein content). Further evidence that Field Roast is awesome and is a great thing to serve up to meat-eaters and vegan or vegetarian-experimenters.


And the very best part about this brunch (other than it being cruelty free, low in cholesterol, fat and high in flavor) was that I got to share it with my wonderful family.

I'm so grateful for them every day and I absolutely love holidays because they give me an excuse to show my appreciation and re-center my crazy life to focus on what matters.

And the mimosas!!

I hope you all enjoyed your Easter as much as I did!

Live long and prosper! And remember to step back and appreciate the people you love :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Banana Bread! Sugar Free, Fat Free

Nothing brings back good memories like banana bread.

The look of mashed bananas, the smell of it baking in the oven.

It's difficult to improve a banana. But banana bread does it and does it well.

Only problem is most banana breads are full of refined sugars, oils, fats and starches and to me - why unhealthify and complicate something as simple and delicious as a banana?

That's why I created this simple and super satisfying banana bread recipe.

It uses agave and stevia instead of sweetener and spelt flour instead of whole wheat (lower cal, higher protein) and employs no oils, butters or fats.

And as long as you like bananas you will LOVE the taste and texture -- don't you worry!

Simplified Banana Bread
  • 1 "Flax Egg" --> 1 Tbsp flax mixed with 3 Tbsp warm water 
  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4-5 packets stevia powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Jamaican or regular all spice
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Up to 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I didn't need it but add it in if your batter is too dry)
  • Shredded coconut/walnuts/almonds (optional - to taste - I just put a little unsweetened shredded coconut on top before baking!)
Preheat your oven to 365 degrees. Yes, I said 365. It seemed like a good neutral baking temperature for a bread.

Lightly grease or flour a non-stick bread loaf pan (about 8inX4in or so).

Mix together ground flax and warm water with a fork and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

Whisk together your dry ingredients in a large bowl until just combined. (Note - you don't want to overbeat or overwhisk spelt flour because it will get crumbly!)

With your mixer on low, slowly add in your agave, bananas, vanilla, lemon and finally the "flax egg"

At this point, I had a great consistency (should be "pourable" but not liquidy) but if your mix is still too dry feel free to add in some almond or soy milk until it can be spooned/spatulaed into your bread pan.

Transfer batter to bread pan and bake bread for about 35-40 minutes. I took mine out early because I wanted it moist and gooey but just make sure it doesn't burn!


Eat straight out of the oven. 

I promise, you will love it!

Live long and prosper! Banana style :)