I love the tapioca-like texture that chia seeds impart to a food. Here, the chia seeds gel overnight in the coconut and almond milks. This makes it reminiscent to my childhood, when my mom would make Vietnamese c (dessert soup) out of tapioca pearls and mung beans in a syrupy coconut milk “soup.” I add matcha powder and maple syrup to this, because lately, I’ve been making lots of matcha lattes out of non-dairy milks, and I love it.

I probably don’t need to tell you all the health benefits from chia seeds, because you’ve probably read up on it somewhere else. But, in short, they’re awesome, because not only are they a source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, they also boast of some fiber and protein, both nutritional components that contribute to satiety (the feeling of fullness). Not only that, chia seeds have other vitamins, minerals, and also contain antioxidants. So there’s that!

In addition to the chia seeds, you’ve got a little energy boost from matcha green tea powder. Matcha also has its own set of antioxidants (catechins), and can help boost memory and concentration.

Given the pretty impressive benefits of this chia seed pudding, I’d say that if you had this for breakfast with some fruit and nuts, you’re pretty much all set! I used to eat overnight oats a lot and would get tired of them. If I introduced something like these chia seed puddings awhile back, my taste buds probably wouldn’t have been so bored. The key to the morning rush is preparation. Make these the night before, and your morning will be a tiny bit less crazy!

Matcha coconut chia seed pudding
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Passive Time
6-8 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Passive Time
6-8 hours
Matcha coconut chia seed pudding
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Passive Time
6-8 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Passive Time
6-8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a mason jar. Screw the lid on tightly, and shake vigorously. Place in the fridge overnight. Shake before ready to serve, with fruit, nuts, and/or granola.
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This sauce was served as an accompaniment to my Buddha bowl party. It’s great to just have a bowl of this hanging out in your fridge to dress up any bowl of rice, use as a dipping sauce for summer rolls, toss with pasta and some greens for a quick meal, or have it as an accompanying sauce for fried tofu. It’s super easy to make, and has a lot of my favorite ingredients (peanut butter, coconut milk, and Thai red curry paste).

Make some today, and store it in a mason jar in the fridge. You’ll thank me later!

Red Thai coconut curry sauce
Servings Prep Time
3/4 cup 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3/4 cup 10 minutes
Red Thai coconut curry sauce
Servings Prep Time
3/4 cup 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3/4 cup 10 minutes
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan over med-low heat, add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the shallots, and saute for a couple minutes until soft. Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, and peanut butter, whisking until ingredients are incorporated. Add a pinch of sea salt and season to taste. Bring the ingredients to a simmer and turn off the heat.
  2. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Serve.
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For those who know me, I love having people over to share a meal and entertain. When my husband was the Officer Rep for a student club over at the Naval Academy, it was pretty common for us to host a meal for up to 30 midshipmen at a time. I’m no stranger when it comes to cooking for a crowd, but our place was big back in Annapolis. It’s much smaller here in the Bay Area, but we still love having people over!

I had a fun idea last week for a dinner theme, so hubby and I invited a few friends over for a Buddha bowl party! For those who don’t know what a Buddha bowl is, it’s basically a bowl full of food, so much so that it’s rounded top is reminiscent of a jolly Buddha belly. P and I eat these all the time, because they can be made with whatever you want. I made things a little fancier this time, but you want to try out different textures, lots of color, and complimentary flavors. I made a couple sauces to complement the meal, and everything was GONE by the end of the night. I’d say it was a success!

(sorry for the bad picture and lighting – it was time to hurry up, assemble and eat!)

Our friends get to experience a super plant-based meal that is not just carrot sticks and rabbit food (this may surprise you that’s what many think of as a vegan meal…hehe). No, they got to go home with full bellies and happy changed outlooks on what vegan food can be. Our goal with every hosted meal is that people start to realize the awesome flavors that can be achieved with these plant-based goodies.

Your Buddha bowl can be constructed any way you like, but this is what I did for our dinner party:

Base: Brown rice mixed with tricolor quinoa

***you can also serve a cold soba noodle salad, barley, farro, or any other grain***

Protein: Thai curry tofu nuggets from Hodosoy (I tried these once at the Ferry Building farmer’s market and was hooked. All you need to do is saute them up in a frying pan to heat through; you can eat these cold too)

***you can also serve chickpeas, black beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, seitan, or any other vegan protein you like!***

Veggies: I had a few different selections here.

1) 3 bunches of sauteed Swiss chard in garlic and vegetarian mushroom seasoning sauce (kind of like a vegan oyster sauce).

2) Sugar snap pea salad in a miso vinaigrette I whipped up (picture below: the dish in the middle)

3) King mushroom slices. I simply sliced the king mushrooms in 1/2-inch disks, fried them up in Earth Balance vegan butter/olive oil mix, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I topped these off with my miso-tamari drizzle (first picture at the beginning of the post)

4) Avocado (because, avocado goes on everything. Duh)

5) Sliced cucumber and diced red bell pepper, for crunch

***other veggies we’ve done have been as simple as a side of corn to roasted sweet potato in spices***

Garnish:

1) Thai red curry coconut sauce

2) Miso-tamari drizzle (the drizzle on the king mushroom slices in the picture at the beginning of the post – recipe follows)

3) Black sesame seeds

***you can easily garnish with soy sauce or nothing at all!***

Herb garnish:

1) Sliced green onion, chopped cilantro, Thai basil leaves

 

So there you have it! The possibilities are endless with these Buddha bowls – what are your fave flavor combinations?

 

*I was not compensated by Hodosoy for this post. I just love the tofu!*

Miso-tahini drizzle
Servings Prep Time
1 cup 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 cup 10 minutes
Miso-tahini drizzle
Servings Prep Time
1 cup 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 cup 10 minutes
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, and add more water as desired (must be able to go through a squeeze bottle).
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I’d be the first person to tell you that I LOVE donuts. Something about the fried, crispy exterior and cakey inside is my foodie weakness. Maple cake donuts, to be exact. There are no vegan donuts around where we are in the Bay Area, but if I go to Whole Foods earlier in the day, they have just what I need if I’m craving it – vegan maple cake donuts!

Obviously, I can’t be eating donuts often. Even though foods are vegan doesn’t mean they’re healthy. For example, Oreos are vegan. Should I be stuffing my face with them? Um, NO. Foods high in refined sugar, carbs, and fat will sap that energy out of you after those blood sugars spike and drop.

I found on Pinterest that people make raw donut “holes,” achieved by adding maple syrup to the mix. So, similar to those energy surge bites that I used to make when hubby was training for the Ironman last year, I added maple syrup to these bad boys. Lo and behold, that made these taste like maple donuts! I also added almond meal instead of oats to up the protein. I just didn’t make the glaze as most people did. The glazes I saw were made with coconut oil, more maple syrup, and vanilla, but I found the glazing process time-consuming (I DO have a seven-month babe and 6-year-old who’s always on the go!) and unnecessary.

These ended up hitting the spot. You just store these in the freezer and can grab one directly to enjoy with some hot coffee or a mid-afternoon snack with tea. They have that maple flavor, just the right amount of sweetness with the dates (you can always add less dates per your taste), and are the perfect bite whether you’re rushing out the door or lingering over your morning coffee.

Maple donut energy bites
Servings Prep Time
10 bites 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10 bites 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 minutes 20 minutes
Maple donut energy bites
Servings Prep Time
10 bites 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10 bites 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 minutes 20 minutes
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until a ball is formed. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Once a little firm, scoop out a tablespoon of mixture at a time, and roll into balls. Store in freezer. Serve directly from freezer as desired.
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You know those bright pink-colored, artificially strawberry-flavored milk drinks you had when you were a kid? This is NOT that. This is subtle strawberry, slightly sweet, extra rich cashew milk. I LOVE making cashew milk, because it requires no brains, effort, or straining as in other nut milks. Anything that requires minimal prep, quick, and is homemade gets bonus points in my book.

Enjoy!

Strawberry cashew milk
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 2 minutes
Passive Time
6 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 2 minutes
Passive Time
6 hours
Strawberry cashew milk
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 2 minutes
Passive Time
6 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 cups 2 minutes
Passive Time
6 hours
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Drain the soaked cashews. Add the cashews, strawberries, maple syrup, coconut oil, and 1 cup water to a high-speed blender. Blend on low for 10 seconds, medium speed for 10 seconds, and high speed for 20 seconds.
  2. Add the last 2 cups of water, and blend on high for another 30 seconds until smooth. Drink up!
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I’ve been meaning to buy coffee creamer the last THREE times I’ve been at the grocery store, and have even written it in the notes section of my phone, but I keep forgetting! It’s mommy brain, I tell you. Finally, after I realized I forgot it AGAIN, I figured I better make me some, because I don’t want to go to the store one more time and have another brain fart.

So, after I woke up early this morning to nurse, I set out the ingredients for a cashew creamer in my blender. I fell asleep again for a little bit, and when the babe woke up, I ran the blender in the kitchen while she was still in her crib. I don’t know why I didn’t attempt this sooner – the creamer is rich, smooth, and slightly sweet with the addition of dates. Coffee was a treat this morning, and I’m going to do this more often!

*Note – I soaked these cashews for about an hour before I blended them, but you don’t have to. Just simply run the blender a little longer. You don’t have to strain the creamer because cashews make an easy milk.

Cashew Milk Creamer
A rich, velvety coffee creamer, perfect for your morning cup o' joe!
Servings Prep Time
16 oz 2 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Servings Prep Time
16 oz 2 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Cashew Milk Creamer
A rich, velvety coffee creamer, perfect for your morning cup o' joe!
Servings Prep Time
16 oz 2 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Servings Prep Time
16 oz 2 minutes
Cook Time
1 minute
Ingredients
Servings: oz
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on medium for 20 seconds, then on high for 40 seconds until smooth.
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img_1718

This recipe is for my friend, Stella! I post frequently on Instagram (@this_veglife), more often than I do here. I haven’t had much time to do other stuff, since I had my baby towards the end of August, and meals as of late have been flash-prepared in a matter of minutes, with no time to write down recipes.

When I posted a picture of this and Stella asked for the recipe, the pressure was on to start doing this recipe-writing again! I love this curry, and don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Once you stock your spice pantry, it’s easy peasy. I always have a can of chickpeas in the pantry as part of my vegan cooking essentials, as well as coconut milk. This curry just came together one day because I had more potatoes than I knew what to do with. A kaffir lime tree is in the garden that was also readily available. If you don’t have any lime leaves, don’t worry about it, and DON’T substitute lime juice (it’s SO not the same thing).

So voila! Chickpea curry, one that is complex in flavor, has a little kick, is hearty and filling, and perfect for a cool day (there is no such thing as cold in California, so I’ll settle for “cool”). Ha!

Chickpea curry
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Chickpea curry
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Instructions
  1. In a 5-qt Dutch oven on medium low, add the coconut oil. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for 10 minutes while you prep the other vegetables.
  2. Increase the heat to medium, and add the carrots, sweet potato, and red potato. Add the spices through (and including) the lime leaves, stirring until incorporated. Add the water and bring the heat to medium high. When the curry starts to simmer, lower the heat to medium low. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk.
  3. Cook on low for 30 minutes, covered. Then, take the lid off the curry and cook for an additional 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add salt or seasoning to taste. Stir in the cilantro and serve, with either brown rice or baguette bread.
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IMG_1672

My family LOVES this shake – it really just tastes like a chocolate milkshake, and you wouldn’t even think that it’s good for you! I make this when I am having a sweet tooth and have some frozen, sliced bananas ready for me in the freezer. It’s full of good stuff like calcium (from fortified almond milk), potassium (bananas), hemp seeds and almond butter (plant-based protein), cocoa powder, maple syrup, and cinnamon. I love lots of cinnamon in this milkshake, and it’s kind of like a cold Mexican hot chocolate. YUM.

Nutrition facts (approximate): 344 kcal, 54.5 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g protein, 7.5 g fiber

Chocolate almond butter shake
Servings Prep Time
2 cups 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 cups 5 minutes
Chocolate almond butter shake
Servings Prep Time
2 cups 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 cups 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth. Drink up!
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IMG_3949

Yesterday, I posted this Thai tofu scramble up on my Instagram account (@this_veglife). I’ve made this tofu scramble for a couple of years now, and even taught it to a vegan breakfast cooking class at the Whole Foods Culinary Center in Annapolis, MD.

This is an old recipe, but one that I have been using for a long time. I never measure, so when I have to write a recipe, I have to buckle down and jot things down on my phone! You can serve this with plain old whole-wheat toast, a tortilla, or even some leftover rice. People in my class, who vehemently say they’re anti-tofu, change their minds after this easy-peasy recipe. I even had one person go buy a block of extra-firm tofu after class, after finding that this recipe was so easy to make (and delicious, too!).

Thai scrambled tofu
Perfect with a slice of toast, tortilla, or potatoes for a hearty breakfast to start the day off right!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Thai scrambled tofu
Perfect with a slice of toast, tortilla, or potatoes for a hearty breakfast to start the day off right!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Optional:
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, crumble the tofu with your hands (or a potato masher). Add all the ingredients to the bowl, except the canola oil, and mix until all incorporated.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil. When it is shimmering and hot, add the tofu mixture. Stir-fry until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Serve with tortillas and slices of avocado, as desired.
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IMG_1668
The past year, I was in the habit of buying a package of Medjool dates every week, to make my energy bites to fuel my hubby for his Ironman training. Well, he pretty much rocked the Ironman on a plant-based diet, but now that it’s over, the training is scaled back a lot. Even though he’s still swimming/biking/running, now it’s just to keep up his fitness level and to feel great. I don’t have to be super-involved in planning his diet anymore, and we have found a lot of great vegan restaurants to eat out here in California since the move. But I’ve had these dates, sitting in the fridge, for the past few weeks, because at the time, my mind was still in his training mode. What to do with all these dates?!

I thought of what I’ve seen some people out there in Pinterest-land do, and that was to make a date paste. It’s basically a bunch of soaked dates, and pureed into a paste with some added water if necessary. I was then thinking of making something simple, since I am a few weeks from going into labor and have been feeling like the energy is sapped out of me. I’ve been making soups and other foods to put in the freezer, and wanted something else to add to the foods I had. I decided on a banana bread. I’ve made the past few banana breads with coconut oil, all of which has been great. Instead of the brown sugar, though, I subbed in an equal amount of the date paste.

The result? A wonderful, hearty banana bread that has just the right amount of sweetness with the dates and ripened bananas. No refined sugar! I’m sure that after having the baby, I will want to keep my sweets intake moderate to try to get my pre-baby body back and feel normal again (but I will obviously still want the sweets)! This would be perfect, especially taken from the freezer, toasted, and then with a smear of vegan Earth Balance butter. Yum!

Date-sweetened banana bread
Serve a slice of this banana bread, toasted, with a smear of vegan Earth Balance butter!
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Date-sweetened banana bread
Serve a slice of this banana bread, toasted, with a smear of vegan Earth Balance butter!
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Instructions
Date paste:
  1. For the date paste, cover whole, pitted dates in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain, and puree in a food processor. Add a few tablespoons of hot water to get the dates to process into a puree, resembling a loose peanut butter. Set aside 1 cup, and store the rest in a covered mason jar in the fridge for another use.
Flax eggs:
  1. For the flax eggs, whisk flaxseed and water in a small bowl until combined. Set aside for 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes gelatinous and egg-like.
Banana bread:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with canola oil spray and coat lightly with flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, coconut oil, flaxseed eggs, and date paste. When incorporated, pour the wet mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate, and pour evenly into prepared loaf pan.
  4. Bake banana bread for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf pan comes out clean. Allow to cool at room temperature, then slice and serve.
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