Vegan cream of red pepper soup

May 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Miso, Quick weeknight recipe, Ron Pickarski, soup, Soymilk)

This is another recipe from Ron Pickarski’s cookbook Friendly Foods.  It gets its creamy texture from olive oil, soymilk, and pureed potato rather than cream. Pickarski also adds miso for extra umami flavor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegan macaroni and “cheese”

December 20, 2009 at 5:33 pm (Pasta, Soymilk, Starches, unrated, Website / blog)

There’s a large corner of the internet devoted to recipes for vegan macaroni and “cheese.”    When I was a kid I remember my mom making a recipe from the farm cookbook that calls for nutritional yeast and lots of oil.  Even though I love vegan mac n’ cheese, I can’t remember the last time I made it.  I often eat pasta with yeast and soy sauce, but not mac n’ cheese per se.  Last night Derek was craving something creamy and I had the brilliant idea of making him vegan macaroni and cheese, which he’s never had before.  I wanted something a little less rich than the farm recipe, and I finally settled on the creamiest vegan mac n’ cheese ever, which had received rave reviews from the Pink Haired Girl and others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mini crustless tofu quiches

December 5, 2009 at 12:26 am (Cruciferous rich, Silken tofu, Soymilk, unrated, Website / blog)

I had some expiring silken tofu in the fridge and felt like eating something savory.  I love how Isa Moskowitz uses silken tofu to simulate eggs in Vegan with a Vengeance, so I thought I would give these mini quiches from the fat free vegan blog a try.

I didn’t have any mushrooms so I used small broccoli florets instead.  I didn’t have the chives so I left them out.  I used tahini for the nut butter and lowfat milk instead of soymilk.  I used arrowroot instead of cornstarch.  I didn’t have any oil spray so I brushed my muffin tins with olive oil instead.

The batter tasted good.  The nutritional yeast flavor dominated, giving it a savory, umame flavor.  I couldn’t taste any of the other ingredients individually (not even the rosemary) but I think they contributed to the depth of flavor.   The texture of the batter, however, was very powdery from the arrowroot.

I didn’t have enough batter to fill my muffin tins halfway.  I’m not sure if I didn’t do a good job of scraping all the batter out of the food processor and skillet, or if my muffin tins are just a little bit bigger than Susan’s.

I took the quiches out of the oven after 20 minutes, since I was using metal muffin tins, and a knife came out clean.  However, after letting the quiches cool down, I couldn’t get them out.  I’m not sure if I greased insufficiently or didn’t cook them long enough.  The top of the quiches had a nice firm eggy texture but the rest kind of resembled mashed up raw tofu.  They tasted pretty good, and they were definitely low calorie.  I’ll probably try this recipe again sometime, and see if I can get them to firm up more and come out of the tins.

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Moussaka, vegan

December 17, 2008 at 8:29 am (Other, Seitan, Soymilk, unrated)

I took a seitan cooking class with Myra Kornfeld last year, at the New York Natural Gourmet Institute.  Each student started out making her own ball of seitan, from scratched.  Once our seitan balls were boiling in broth, each student was assigned one of four dishes.  I helped make seitan fajitas, essentially just big chunks of browned seitan mixed with grilled bell peppers and onions, with a little garlic and oregano for flavoring.  The dish didn’t excite me, nor did I care for the seitan-portobello sloppy joes.  I did enjoy the orange-glazed seitan cutlet, served over watercress, that I blogged about previously.  Surprisingly, my favorite of the four dishes was the seitan moussaka.  I’m not a fan of eggplant, or mashed potatoes, so moussaka is not usually something I care for.  But Kornfeld’s moussaka was delicious–savory, rich, flavorful, and satisfying.  I wanted to try making it myself, but the recipe has five sub-recipes and I never felt like spending so much time on one dish, especially one I wasn’t sure I would like.  When I was deciding what to make for Thanksgiving this year, I decided it was the perfect time to give it a try, despite the fact that it was really too late in the year for eggplant and zucchini.

I made the seitan from scratch, according to Kornfeld’s recipe.  I didn’t follow the instructions for what to put in the boiling broth, but still the seitan came out with a pretty good texture and a great flavor.  According to Kornfeld, her recipe is supposed to make 1.5 pounds of seitan, but I got out 2 pounds.  We ate half a pound and I used the rest in the “meat” layer of the moussaka.  The meat layer contains ground up seitan and portobello mushrooms, onions, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, canned tomatoes and lemon juice.  I really liked the dimension the cinnamon added, and I think other people did too–people were nibbling on the filling before I put it in the moussaka.

Along with the “meat” layer, there was a vegetable layer (grilled eggplant and zucchini sprinkled with pepper and thyme), and a mashed potato layer (potatoes, olive oil, soymilk, and lemon juice).  The top layer was composed of a vegan bechamel sauce (made with olive oil, flour, soymilk, and nutmeg), and then sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs.  I remember tasting the vegan bechamel sauce when I took the class, and I thought it tasted pretty nasty, but once it was on the moussaka it just added creaminess, no off flavors.

Although I followed Kornfeld’s recipe, in the final moussaka the ratio of mashed potatoes to seitan seemed way off.  Everyone kept asking “there’s seitan in this?  where?”  The dish kind of ended up as glorified mashed potatoes, with bits of string eggplant mixed in.  I’m not sure why the eggplant came out so stringy.  Could I have cut the slices too thin, over or under cooked them, or perhaps the eggplant was just old?

In any case, I didn’t really care for my version of the moussaka, but other people at Thanksgiving seemed to like it.  At least, the whole monstrous casserole got eaten (and it really was monstrous, since I tripled what was originally a pretty big recipe).

Given how much work and expense went into this recipe, and the less than stellar results, I don’t think I’ll be attempting to make moussaka again.  If anyone else has had better luck making vegan moussaka, however, please do let me know.

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Basic Oatmeal from Rolled Oats

October 19, 2008 at 11:01 am (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Grains, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk) (, )

I much prefer oatmeal made from steel-cut oats to oatmeal made from rolled oats, but I haven’t been able to find steel-cut oats in Germany yet. Plus, Derek prefers the flaky texture of rolled oats. Here’s the basic recipe we’ve been using.

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • just under 2 cups of liquid (milk, soymilk, water, or a combination)
  • pinch salt

Turn the heat down to medium but keep at a steady simmer, stirring occasionally. If the oatmeal starts to splatter, turn the heat down a little more. Cook until liquid starts to turn creamy, and individual flakes are just starting to break down. When done remove from heat and top with:

  • 2/3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar

For variety try adding one (or more) of the following:

  • shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • chopped nuts or seeds (whole or sliced almonds, hemp hearts, pecans, walnuts…)
  • raisins or other dried fruit
  • fresh or frozen fruit (bananas, apples, sour cherries, raspberries, blueberries, …)
  • use almond or other nut extract instead of the vanilla
  • cocao nibs or chocolate chips

This makes two servings, although we usually don’t split it evenly.  I have a small serving made from 1/3 of a cup of dried rolled oats and Derek has a larger serving made from 2/3 of a cup of dried rolled oats.

Here’s a larger recipe with instructions for our specific stovetop. It makes enough for all three of us for breakfast, with some leftovers (more or less depending on how hungry we are).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3.5 cups soymilk
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ground flax seed (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Add the oats, soymilk, and salt to a large pot (4 quart?). Bring to a boil on left (medium-sized) burner with lid mostly on. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick.  Takes about 8 minutes? When it’s close to a boil, turn the right front burner (the small circle) on to level 3 (of 9).
  2. Once it hits a medium boil, move the pot to the small right burner and once it’s simmering, turn the heat down to 2.
  3. Cook until you hit the right consistency (about 12 minutes?), then add vanilla and brown sugar and flax seed.

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Light Homemade Soy Mocha Frappucino

July 3, 2008 at 11:03 am (Beverage, From a friend, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, unrated)

My little sister made this refreshing beverage for me this morning.  It’s her vegan homemade version of Starbucks’s mocha frappucino light.

  • rounded tsp. instant coffee into half mug of boiling water
  • 7 large ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup homemade, light, unsweetened soymilk or soymilk from an asian market
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 3-4 tsp. sugar, to taste

Blend, and enjoy.

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Hot chocolate: theme and variations

January 13, 2008 at 9:49 pm (Beverage, Cook's Illustrated, Dessert, My brain, Other, Soymilk, unrated)

If you love chocolate, get cold easily, and live in Montreal (in January), then there’s nothing better than a steaming cup of hot chocolate before bed. But a word of warning: don’t buy any prepared hot cocoa mixes. Even the “upscale” sounding ones like Ghiradelli list sugar as the first ingredient.  I understand that sugar is much cheaper than cocoa, but these mixes are just wrong. The “chocolate” tastes more like dirty sugar water than hot cocoa. Make your own mix to keep in the pantry, or just whip together a cup when you happen to get a hankering (or when you’ve just walked home in -10 weather). Hot cocoa seems like such a simple thing to make, and yet there are a surprising number of bad recipes out there.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegan French Toast

January 13, 2008 at 2:01 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Isa C. Moskowitz, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

I know, vegan french toast sounds like an oxymoron, right? But I had a lot of leftover chickpea flour and was looking for something to do with it, and came across this recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance.

To make the french toast you mix together soy milk and soy creamer (I used all soymilk), cornstarch (I used arrowroot), and chickpea flour (besan) into a slurry. You soak your sliced, stale bread in the slurry briefly, then fry the bread in an oiled cast iron skillet.

The recipe worked surprisingly well. I wouldn’t say it tastes exactly like egg- and butter-based french toast, but it was certainly reminiscent of traditional french toast, and tasty. I mean, how can you go wrong with fried bread? This recipe has basically no nutritional content, so I might be more inclined to use it as the base for a dessert rather than breakfast, but it’s certainly an interesting recipe, that I’d like to work with. If I make it again I’d definitely add something: perhaps cardamom, or cinnamon, or a fruit compote. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I know this recipe has the potential to create a very tasty, and also very interesting dish. I’d like to hear anyone else’s ideas of what to do with this recipe. I’d love some way to incorporate in some vegetables, if possible. I thought it perhaps could be used to make a layered vegetable bread pudding, but I’d be afraid it would get soggy, when one of the appeals of this recipe is the crispness of the bread.

I’d also like to try it without the chickpea flour, not because I think it’s unnecessary, but because I’d like to understand better exactly what role the chickpea flour is serving.

Note that although there’s no added salt in the recipe, I found the french toast plenty salty, I’m not sure why. Where is the salt coming from?

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Vegan Spanish Omelet with Roasted Red Pepper-Almond Sauce

September 30, 2007 at 7:28 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Isa C. Moskowitz, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, Starches, Tofu)

A vegan omelet? Risky. Miss Isa Chandra Moskowitz had me intrigued. This dish from Vegan with a Vengeance is actually supposed to be a Spanish “tortilla”: the thick, oven-baked omelet of eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil. Isa replaces the eggs with a tofu puree seasoned with saffron. I’m too lazy tonight to post the whole recipe but I want to post the saffron tofu puree recipe that Isa uses instead of eggs:

  • a small pinch saffron threads
  • 3 Tbs. unsweetened soy milk
  • 1.5 pounds soft tofu, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  1. Place the saffron threads in a small cup and gently press the threads with the back of a spoon a few times; don’t crush completely. Warm the soy milk in a small saucepan til just about boiling. Remove from heat and pour over the saffron; stir briefly and set aside for a minimum of 25 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, blend the tofu, garlic, olive oil, salt, and cayenne til smooth. When the saffron has had time to flavor and color the soymilk, add the soymilk and saffron to the processor. Blend til creamy.

Actually, Isa says to strain out the saffron, but I have no idea why so I ignored that step.

A bit hesitant, I tasted this creamy mixture. It was really good! I almost wanted to eat it just as a pudding. That little bit of saffron somehow managed to, not quite mask the soy flavor, but meld with it and transform it somehow so that you didn’t taste tofu but a creamy rich savory saffron pudding. I feel that this puree would be great in some kind of interesting vegan dessert, but I need to think about exactly how to work it in. I’m sure it would go well in other recipes as well. (Note: I only had 12 ounces of soft silken tofu so used 12 ounces regular cotton firm tofu as well.)

Okay, on to the omelet. The instructions worked very well. The potatoes were cooked when she said they would be, the omelet had a beautiful browned golden top, and the pieces held together nicely. I could taste the saffron in the finished dish, but it wasn’t as eye-opening as the plain tofu saffron pudding was. The main problem I have with this recipe is that although the tofu puree is salted, the potatoes were not, and as a result even with all the oil they are quite bland. If this was remedied by salting the potatoes before they’re put in the pan to cook, I think this would be a decent recipe. It’s not stellar, as the flavors are all a bit bland, but it’s an interesting presentation and potatoes are just yummy.

I also made the accompanying roasted red pepper almond sauce, which is pleasant and goes well with the omelet. The almonds add texture I assume, but I’d like to see what it tastes like without them. I also tried the omelet with ketchup, but didn’t like the combination of the ketchup and saffron.

Update: on subsequent attempts, I added 3/4-1 tsp. of salt to the potatoes, and 1/2-1 tsp. to the tofu mixture, and the potatoes were much more flavorful. I let Derek taste the saffron puree on its own, and he said it was at best bland, and at worst bitter, although he did have the lower-salt version . Also, in my later attempts the omelet didn’t hold together as well. The main differences from the first time were that I cut down the oil a bit (from 4 Tbs. to 3 Tbs.), and I used silken tofu rather than the firm tofu I used the first time. The amount of onions and potato might have varied as well, as “4 potatoes and 1 onion” is not very precise.

Derek says it tastes okay, but the tofu doesn’t do much for him. He’d prefer just the onions and potatoes and a tasty sauce. He also thought it was too oily. He wasn’t as fond of the red pepper sauce as I was, preferring to eat the potatoes with a Peruvian yellow pepper paste, or a Thai green curry paste.

Rating: B
Derek: C

Update March 7, 2010:  I made this recipe again because I wanted to use up some potatoes.  I used about 9-10 ounces of white onion and 1 lbs 7 ounces of potatoes.  They were the red-colored bag, I think, kind of like Yukon Golds.  I sauteed the potatoes and onions with 2 Tbs. of olive oil and 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt.  For the tofu mixture I used medium cotton tofu (not silken) and added 2 medium eggs to the mixture as well.  The mixture tasted a bit bland to me, even though I had added quite a bit of saffron.  (I suspect my saffron isn’t very high quality.)  So I added some chipotle powder, some paprika, quite a bit of Cholula pepper sauce, and other seasonings.  It was a little spicy.

The tortilla looked quite nice when it emerged from the oven.  The top was puffy and nicely browned, and the pieces came out of the pan in one piece when I cut it.  Once on the plate, the potato slices slid apart, but that didn’t bother me.  The potato/onion mixture was definitely less greasy than last time.  I think 2 Tbs. of oil is perfect. The tofu/egg mixture was surprisingly bland, even after I added all those spices.  I think maybe I should have added more salt (closer to the 1 tsp. the original recipe calls for).  Also, I think the addition of the egg whites makes it a little dry and fluffy, rather than rich and creamy.  Derek, as before, didn’t care much for the recipe.  He rated it a C+.  He did eat it for leftovers once, but not with much enthusiasm.  Derek liked it better with ketchup but I thought the ketchup overpowered the flavors.  I enjoyed this recipe as leftovers twice.  It’s simple but satisfying. Rating: B  Still, I’d like to get more flavor into the recipe.  Once I do, I think it would make a lovely dish to serve for company.  Maybe adding Peruvian yellow pepper paste to the potatoes would help?  Other ideas?

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Vegan Banana Nut Pancakes

July 28, 2007 at 9:32 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Isa C. Moskowitz, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

Vegan with a Vengeance has quite a few vegan pancake/waffle recipes. Derek likes this one the best. The first time I made them, Derek went bananas over these pancakes. His rhapsody: “fluffy and wonderful, creamy without the cream, better than any pancakes I ever made (including our usual oatmeal walnut yogurt pancakes) .”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitan Piccata

July 28, 2007 at 9:09 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Italian, Other, Seitan, Soymilk)

As I’ve said in the past, I really want to learn how to make the seitan in white wine sauce that they serve at Blossom. I found a recipe for seitan piccata from Candle 79, on chowhound. I found a somewhat different recipe for seitan piccata from candle cafe on vegcooking.com. We decided to go with the first recipe, but I might try the second version next time as it’s much lower fat.

* 6 seitan cutlets (mine were a bit small so I used 8, from about 1.5 balls of homemade seitan)
* Whole-wheat flour for dredging (about 3/4 cup?)
* 4 Tbs. olive oil
* 1/4 cup chopped shallots
* 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (I used red)
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used one large clove)
* 2 tablespoons drained capers
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (I used homemade broth, salted)
* 2 tablespoons soy buttery spread (soy margarine) (I used earth balance)
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I omitted this)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Dredge seitan cutlets in whole-wheat flour, shaking off any excess.
2. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. When oil is hot, sauté cutlets until crisp and golden brown, about 30 seconds per side. Place each cutlet on an individual plate or arrange them all on a platter.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan and return to high heat. Add shallots, onion, garlic, and capers, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and lemon juice, and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.
4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute to combine flavors. Whisk in soy spread, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour over seitan cutlets and serve at once.

My Notes

When you saute the seitan it gets crispy, but I really wanted tender, delicate seitan, so I think I’d omit this step next time, and save 2 Tbs. of olive oil to boot. I’d also probably just use 1 Tbs. of olive oil to saute the onions, or possibly slightly less. I left the salt out since the vegetable broth, capers, and buttery spread were all salted, and found that the dish was plenty salty. With all 6 Tbs. of fat we found this a bit too rich tasting. But the basic flavor was pretty good–lemony but not overpowering, the parsley added freshness and a lovely color, the shallots added a pretty touch of pink to the sauce, and the caper flavor really dominated. It wasn’t perfect, but nice.

When asked to comment Derek replied “It was what I expected, no more, no less.”

Oh, another note about the seitan. I wanted non-asian tasting seitan for this dish, so I used very little soy sauce in the broth, and I thought the seitan came out tasting quite nice, and not asian. The seitan was much lighter than normal, but still had good flavor. I cooked it in a broth of carrots, celery, black pepper, bay leaves, etc.–the kinds of things that I’d normally put in vegetable broth, plus 1 bouillon cube (enough for 1/2 cup of water it says on the package). I saved the broth, and I think it will make an excellent matzoh ball soup.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

Update July 31, 2010:

It’s been three years since I’ve made seitan piccata, and I decided to try it again, but this time I used the recipe from the Millenium Cookbook.  The recipe is all over the internets.

Taken from The Millennium Cookbook – Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine (see the original recipe in the cookbook)

Makes 6 servings

Herb Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 servings (1 1/2 pounds) marinated seitan, cut into medallions
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (optional)

Piccata Sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 paper-thin lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups dry white wine (you can use non-alcoholic wine)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Thin lemon slices and minced fresh parsley or chives for garnish

In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients for the herb crust. In another shallow bowl, combine the soy milk and mustard. Dredge the seitan with the crust mixture, dip in the soy milk mixture, then dredge again in the crust mixture. Cook the seitan in a dry nonstick pan over medium-high heat until lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.  (Or saute in the oil.)  Keep warm in low oven.

To make the sauce: Wipe out the pan and place it over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast until lightly browned. Add the lemon slices, the remaining sauce ingredients. Boil until the volume is reduced by almost half. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Serve the hot sauce over seitan. Garnish with more lemon slices and parsley.

My notes:

I followed the sauce recipe carefully, except that when the instructions said “add the rest of the sauce ingredients” I added them all, including the arrowroot sludge.  Whoops!  I had to add more arrowroot in the end to get the sauce to thicken.

The sauce tasted truly terrible–way too lemon-y and acidic, and even bitter.  What did I do wrong?  I compared the Millenium recipe to the Candle Cafe recipe above, and two different recipes from Cook’s Illustrated:

Recipe Millennium Candle Cafe Cook’s Illustrated CI Light
Fat none 4 Tbs. olive oil + 4 Tbs. margarine 6 Tbs. butter none
Lemon juice 8 Tbs. + 4 slices lemon 4 Tbs. 8 Tbs. + sliced lemon 2 Tbs + 1/2 lemon, sliced
Liquid 2 cups white wine + 3 Tbs. water 1 cup white wine + 1 cup veg. broth 2 cups stock 1.5 cups stock + 2 Tbs. milk

Okay, clearly I’m not crazy.    The Cook’s Illustrated recipe uses the same amount of lemon and liquid, but also adds 6 Tbs. of butter to tone down the acid.  And still, on the CI forums many people say that they found the sauce too lemony, and some people complain about bitterness (which presumably comes from the pith in the boiled lemon slices).  Some posters suggest simmering the liquid rather than boiling it, to prevent the bitterness from being extracted from the pith.  The CI light recipe doesn’t use any added fat, but only calls for 2 Tbs. of lemon juice.  The candle cafe recipe uses half the lemon juice and adds 8 Tbs. of fat!

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Seitan Stroganoff

July 14, 2007 at 5:22 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Isa C. Moskowitz, Pasta, Seitan, Soymilk, Starches)

I just bought Vegan with a Vengeance, and was paging through it deciding what to make. Derek’s mom and I wanted to test out Isa’s seitan recipe, so were trying to decide which seitan main course to make. She thought the stroganoff sounded good, but I was pretty wary. I have a very distinct memory of ordering stroganoff at West Side Cafe in Austin many, many years ago and being totally disgusted. I also tried making some stroganoff recipes from various cookbooks–I think they all ended up in the trash. I even adore gravy, so I don’t know why I found them so unappetizing. I think stroganoff is typically a dairy-rich dish, and trying to make the creamy sauce out of soy just doesn’t cut it. So I was hesitant, but then I read the recipe’s intro, and the first sentence says something like “So, you’ve been disappointed with vegan stroganoffs in the past…” In one sentence she had hooked me, and we decided to make it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chocolate Chip Brownies, vegan

April 24, 2007 at 2:31 pm (A (4 stars, love), Brownies and bars, Dessert, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

My mom came to visit and we made these vegan brownies together. I asked her to write up the blog entry for me:

They came out great with a crispy outside and chewy inside. The recipe originated from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, but we made some adjustments before even starting.. We halved the recipe since we were making a new recipe and didn’t want to have too much of something we didn’t like. We left out the walnuts because we didn’t have any at 10pm and didn’t want to go to the store. And we used white flour instead of half whole wheat pastry flour again because we didn’t have any available. Here is the recipe.

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soymilk
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semi/sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Put the oil, maple syrup , soy milk and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, sucanat , baking powder and salt.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Put the batter in the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes.
  7. Do not overbake.
  8. Cool before cutting.

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The quest for the perfect skillet cornbread

February 10, 2007 at 5:47 pm (AMA, breakfast, Grains, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, unrated, Website / blog)

I have tried many cornbread recipes over the years, but have not yet settled on my favorite recipe. I’ll record below some of the many recipes I’ve tried. All recipes are designed to be made in a 9-inch cast iron skillet, and cut into 12 pieces. Typically, rather than making plain cornbread, I pour the cornbread batter over beans to make tamale pie.

This is my mom’s vegan cornbread recipe:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-3 Tbl. sugar

Whisk together in a separate bowl, then add to dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup soymilk or 1 1/3 cups plain yogurt + 3 Tbs. water
  • 2-3 Tbl. oil

Pour into cast iron pan or 9 inch square pan. Mix sparingly. Bake about 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

This is a non-vegan but relatively light recipe originally from the AMA cookbook:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan or cast iron skillet with vegetable oil spray.
In a large bowl, mix together:

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbl. sugar

Whisk together in a separate bowl:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs skim milk
  • 3 Tbs oil

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk gently, until the batter has no lumps. Pour into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven until the corn bread is golden brown on top and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Cut into 12 pieces and serve hot.

PER PIECE: About 112 cals, 37 cals from fat, 4g total fat, 1g sat fat, 18mg chol, 208mg sodium, 15g total carbs, 1g fiber, 3g protein

My Notes:

I had some yogurt I wanted to use up but no egg, so I tried to improvise by substituting 1 Tbs. oil and 3 Tbs. unsweetened soymilk for the egg. I also used stone ground cornmeal, and added 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels and 1/2 small can of green chilis to the batter. I poured the batter over beans to make tamale pie. After 20 minutes the top was starting to brown nicely but the underside of the cornbread was totally raw. We left it in for another 20 minutes and it was still a bit underdone but very tasty. I’m not sure what caused it to take so long to cook–the missing egg, the stoneground cornmeal, or the chilis and corn?

Take two: I followed the recipe exactly this time, and used the stone ground cornmeal. It baked up just fine in the specified amount of time. So clearly the issue was the egg or the additions, not the cornmeal.

This is a flour-less, gluten-free, very buttery recipe:

This recipe was given to me by my friend Kathy. She found it posted on epicurious, but it was originally printed in Gourmet magazine, as the recipe of Susan Goss, chef at Zinfandel, in Chicago.

Chef Susan Gross says that the secret here is in her cast-iron skillet. Nonstick pans produce anemic, soft corn bread. This recipe also works well with corn-stick or muffin molds, as long as they’re well-seasoned cast iron. If your pan is hot enough, the batter will immediately rise and start to cook around the edges. (The restaurant’s skillets rarely leave the oven.) At Zinfandel, the corn bread is served with a wonderful spread. To make it, combine 1 stick of softened unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons buckwheat honey (another honey or pure maple syrup can be substituted).

  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Accompaniment: buckwheat honey butter

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Put a dry, well-seasoned 9- to 9 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet in middle of oven to heat. Stir together cornmeal, baking soda, and salt, crushing any small bits of baking soda. Whisk eggs in another bowl until blended and whisk in buttermilk.
  2. Remove hot skillet from oven carefully and add butter, swirling gently to coat bottom and sides of skillet. (If butter begins to sizzle and brown around edges, so much the better.)
  3. Whisk hot butter into buttermilk mixture and return skillet to oven. Stir cornmeal into buttermilk mixture just until moistened. (The batter doesn’t have to be smooth — a few small lumps are good.)
  4. Scrape batter into hot skillet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Invert skillet over a platter and cool bread at least 3 minutes.

Active time: 10 min, total time: 30 min

My notes:

Kathy and Spoons served this at their gluten-free 2006 Spoons’ birthday extravaganza, and it was delicious. Airy but substantial, with great big pieces of stone ground cornmeal and corn kernels (they added this–it’s not in the original recipe). I tried making it with normal fine-ground cornmeal, and it wasn’t that great. The crumb was very fine and it needed more salt (although I might have mis-measured the salt). Definitely not worth all that butter. I’ll have to try it again with stone ground cornmeal and see if it tastes like Kathy’s.

Update Feb 2012:  I made this gluten-free cornbread again using half masa harina and half “polenta”–a much coarser grind than normal cornmeal.  I cut the butter down to two Tablespoons and didn’t mix it into the batter, just left it on the bottom of the pan.  Instead of buttermilk I used about 1.5 cups whole milk yogurt plus 1/4 cup of water.  I added 2/3 tsp. of Morton kosher salt.  The cornbread came out well.  It had a nice texture and was crisp on the outside.  The flavor was salty and eggy, but pleasantly so.  (I might go back to 1/2 tsp. salt next time though.)  I’ll also add fresh corn next time!

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Creamy Fettucine with Squash Sauce

January 21, 2007 at 7:03 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Pasta, Ron Pickarski, Soymilk, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

I have fond memories of this creamy vegan squash sauce from my co-op days in college. It was a regular on our menu, and always popular. It’s from the cookbook Friendly Foods by Brother Ron Pickarski. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smoothies and “Milkshakes”

January 21, 2007 at 7:35 am (Beverage, breakfast, Derek's faves, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, The Vegan Gourmet, unrated, Website / blog)

When I was growing up my mom called any thick beverage made with fruit juice a “smoothie” and anything made with soymilk a “milkshake.” Derek, however, insists that milkshakes must include cow’s milk and ice cream. Whatever you call them, there are a million variations out there, and I’m on a quest to find my favorite combinations. So far I’ve only taken a few steps. But don’t worry, give me time. I’ll get there eventually! Read the rest of this entry »

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Oatmeal Walnut Pancakes

December 26, 2006 at 4:25 am (A (4 stars, love), breakfast, Derek's faves, Grains, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

Based on a recipe from the McCann’s Irish Oatmeal box. These pancakes have a hearty, nutty flavor, but are still quite light and fluffy. Derek and his father claim these are the “best pancakes ever.”

In a large bowl combine:

  • 1.25 cups quick cooking oats, or regular rolled oats blended to a coarse flour
  • 1 cup lowfat or nonfat yogurt, unsweetened
  • 1 cup skim or lowfat milk or plain soymilk
  • 1 tsp. sugar or honey (omit if soymilk or yogurt are sweetened)

Stir in:

  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 scant tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Add and mix well:

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Add:

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Use 1/4 cup batter per pancake.
Yields: 13 four-inch pancakes
Serving size: 3-4 pancakes

About 100 calories per pancake.

Rating: A-

Derek: A-

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Simple Oil and Vinegar Coleslaw

December 25, 2006 at 1:54 am (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Soymilk, Website / blog)

This is adapted from a recipe from Rachael Ray off the Food Network website. I needed some simple coleslaw in a pinch, and this sufficed quite well. It was light and refreshing.

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 16 ounces, shredded green cabbage
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Mix vinegar and sugar. Add oil. Add cabbage to dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine.

My notes: For the vinegar, we used white balsamic, although the original recipe called for red wine vinegar. We also reduced the sugar and salt from the amounts in the original recipe, and added carrots.

Rating: B-
Derek: B

Here’s my mom’s vinegar coleslaw recipe:

Mix together in quart jar:

  • oil 1/3 cup
  • vinegar 1/3 cup
  • sugar 1/3 cup (less if a sweet vinegar)
  • salt 1/2 tsp.
  • pepper 1/8 tsp.
  • water or 1/4 cup
  • soy milk (amount?)

Finely shred (slice thinly)

  • 1/2 large head of cabbage or 1 small head (should be about 6 cups shredded)

Grate

  • 2-3 carrots.

Shake sauce well, pour sauce over cabbage and carrots, then toss.
Another vegetable I sometimes add to coleslaw is grated jicama.

Update Jan 2008: Tonight I made a coleslaw with a bit of cabbage, 2 carrots, seeds and juice from 1/2 a pomegranate, a couple spoonfuls of currants, 3 Tbs. of white balsamic vinegar, and a few teaspoons of olive oil. It was quite tasty, and nicely colorful.

Update March 2008: Tonight I made a more asian inspired slaw. I used about 12 ounces of shredded savoy cabbage (about 6 cups I think), and 8 ounces of grated carrots (about 2 cups?). I added 4 Tbs. rice wine vinegar, 2 Tbs. white wine (I wanted to use mirin but was out), 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1/2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil, 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 2 sliced scallions, 2 Tbs. currants, 2 Tbs. Trader Joe’s chili lime roasted peanuts, and some minced pickled ginger and wasabi leftover from sushi.  Other nice additions might be crushed red pepper (1/2 tsp?), cilantro (2 Tbs?), and toasted sesame seeds (1.5 Tbs?) instead of peanuts.

 

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Mango Lassi

December 10, 2006 at 11:41 pm (Beverage, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver. I found it online at the food network page when looking for a mango lassi recipe.

  • 9 ounces plain yogurt
  • 4.5 ounces milk
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 4.5 ounces canned mango pulp or 7 ounces from 3 fresh mangos, stoned and sliced

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve. The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Serves four.

I didn’t quite have the ingredients so this is what I ended up making:

  • 9 ounces organic Stonyfield nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 4.5 ounces unsweetened soy milk
  • 7 ounces frozen mango pieces from Trader Joe’s
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

I’ve never had a mango lassi so I’m not sure what it was supposed to taste like, but I thought it was tasty. My friend’s said it tasted right, but was thicker than usual (probably because I used the frozen mango). Personally, I couldn’t taste the soy milk or the cardomom, and I thought it could have used more mango.

Rating: B

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Vegan Key Lime Pie

August 26, 2006 at 7:13 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dessert, From a friend, Pies and custards, Silken tofu, Soymilk)

I’ve never been a big fan of key lime pie, but my friend Ben’s girlfriend Deanna brought this vegan pie for dessert a few weeks ago, and I thought it was excellent. It has such a strong lime flavor, I couldn’t believe it only had 4 Tbs. of lime juice. After making lemon bars, I expected it to have about a cup! Deanna is a professional vegan baker, but she didn’t invent the recipe. In looking for the source of this recipe, I found it on the web, and the page said it was created by Jannequin Bennett, chef at the Jefferson Hotel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Peaches and “Cream” Steel Cut Oats (B)

June 16, 2006 at 11:37 am (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Grains, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, Spring recipes, Summer recipes)

My mom made this for me when I went home for a visit this summer. What a delicious way to start the morning! It tastes like peaches and cream oatmeal. She also made a similar breakfast but with strawberries…. I preferred the peaches. Besides, peaches are more Austin-y. Outside Austin, in the Texas Hill Country, are thousands of peach trees. When I moved to Pittsburgh I was surprised to find peaches at the local farmer’s markets, but apparently there are quite a few peach orchards in Chambersburg, not far from Pittsburgh.

Serves 4.

1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt (about 3 large pinches)
4 peaches (or nectarines)
6 teaspoons of sugar (about 4 heaping spoonfuls)
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (sweetened is okay too, just use slightly less sugar)

Bring the oats, salt, and water to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer. After 5 minutes, cover (watch it at this point to make sure it doesn’t boil over). Cook for about 25 minutes. Watch carefully for the first five minutes to make sure it doesn’t go over. Stir occasionally. In the last five minutes add a Tbs. of water if it’s sticking.

Distribute the oats among four bowls, and add one chopped peach to each bowl, along with 2 Tbs. of soymilk and 1 heaping tsp. of sugar. Mix and serve hot.

Rating: B

My Notes

This is delicious, and deserves a better rating, except the instructions for cooking the oatmeal are still not quite right. Also, I’d like to try it with no added sugar and see what I think, since it’s a little high on sugar for breakfast.

For those of you who complain I don’t have time to make oatmeal in the morning, make 4 servings on the weekend. Steel cut oats, unlike rolled oats, reheat well in the microwave.

Calories 242
Total Fat 3.6g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 170mg
Carbohydrate 45.6g
Dietary Fiber 9.7g
Sugars 16.9g
Protein 7.8g
Vitamin A 9% Vitamin C 12%
Calcium 8% Iron 11%

Percent of calories from: Fat 13%, Protein 13%, Carbs 74%. For me, this is a bit low on fat and protein to be a long-lasting breakfast. Maybe I should add some flax seeds? The addition of 1 Tbs. flax seeds would make it: 23%, 13%, 64%. Maybe two pieces of Lightlife’s smoked tempeh strips? 17%, 17%, 66%. I tried a Tbs. of sliced almonds (21%, 13%, 66%) but wasn’t excited about the combination. Maybe if I had toasted them first, or cooked them with the oats… Any other ideas?

If you use strawberries, this is a nice recipe for late Spring or early summer, when there still might be a few mornings with a bit of a nip in the air. It’s a good recipe for the peak of summer if you use peaches instead.

Update Sept 30, 2009:

I came across this recipe for “quick” steel-cut oats.

  • 1 C steel-cut oats
  • 4 C liquid (water, soy milk, whatever ~ I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • dash salt (optional)
  • 1t vanilla extract (optional)
Combine all ingredients in the cooking pot (or a tupperware container) and soak in the fridge over night. Next day, stir, empty into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook about 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool, stirring occasionally. Portion out into 4 servings, eat what you want, and refrigerate the next.  Reheat the leftovers in the microwave the following morning.
My notes: I tried this using 1 cup milk, 1 cup soymilk, and 2 cups water. Indeed the oats did cook in only 5 minutes!  However, it took quite a long time for the oats to come to a boil, maybe 15 minutes?  So it was definitely faster, but not superfast.  The oatmeal came out just how I like it, however, and I didn’t burn it.  I’d use this method again.

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Pumpkin Smoothie

April 30, 2006 at 10:07 am (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk)

I really enjoy this pumpkin smoothie, made with soymilk:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup “milk” of some sort, I use unsweetened soymilk
1 Tbs. blackstrap molasses (1/2 Tbs. if you want it less ironific)
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning (1/2 tsp. if you want it less “spicy”)
sweetener (if “milk” isn’t already sweetened; I use 4 drops stevia)

On my allergy-free month I tried it with oat milk instead of my normal unsweetened soymilk. It didn’t come out very well. It was just too sweet and not rich/thick enough. I wonder if an unsweetened, homemade nut milk would work better than the sweetened oak milk I used, which was incredibly thin, almost just like sweet water. I remember having a thicker oat milk before, but don’t remember what brand it was. Anyone have a recommendation?

Update May 5, 2006: I tried making almond milk this morning for my smoothie. I soaked 1 ounce almonds overnight, then threw them and the soaking water in the blender for a while, then added my pumpkin, molasses, spices and more water for the smoothie. The texture came out surprisingly smooth, not very gritty at all. The pumpkin smoothie is better than when I tried it with oat milk, but it still doesn’t taste right though~the flavors are kind of muddy rather than bright and pumpkin-y. Maybe a soy-less, dairy-less pumpkin smoothie is just impossible?

I tried another version with 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk + 1/2 cup water. It had a nice texture but the flavor was still off.

Rating: B for regular verision, C for modified versions

Today I tried some extra pumpkin puree mixed with vanilla nonfat yogurt. Blech. Disgusting. I added some pumpkin pie spice and molasses. Still pretty nasty. Drinkable, but not pleasant.

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Whole Grains for Breakfast

April 28, 2006 at 3:14 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Grains, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Rebecca Wood, Soymilk)

Below I’ve listed two different ways I like to eat whole grains for breakfast.

Quinoa Barley Crockpot Breakfast Porridge

This recipe is from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook Quinoa, the Supergrain. The barley turns ooey gooey but the quinoa stays light and fluffy, which makes a lovely textural contrast. I pour a bit of soymilk on top and sprinkle on a bit of (fresh or dried) fruit and pecans. I often want hot cereal, but I get tired of oatmeal. I haven’t liked the 7-grain stuff I get at my local coop, but this hits the spot.


Instructions

Place in a crockpot:

1/2 cup barley (I used hulled but not pearled)
1/2 cup quinoa
pinch of salt
4 cups of water

Set to “warm” and leave it overnight.

My notes

Seven hours later it was a bit burnt around the edges, but the middle was fine. If anyone knows any way to keep it from burning around the edges, let me know.

Update May 9, 2006: I tried a variant this morning, except I used 1 cup soaked steel cut oats, 1/2 cup hulled barley, and 1/2 cup quinoa. I also threw in 1/2 tsp. cardamom and a pinch of salt, and 5 cups of water. I left it on warm overnight. It made 6 cups cereal total, and it didn’t burn around the edges this time. The oats and barley, however, totally turned to goo, and I didn’t notice the nice contrast with the fluffy quinoa like I did last time. Also, I don’t know if it was the addition of the cardamom or the oats, but the flavor was much worse–they seemed muddier than the original barley/quinoa combo. I ate 1 cup with a fig and 1/2 ounce pecans, and it was edible but not particularly appealing. I read somewhere that to keep the oats from turning to goo in the crockpot it helps to start with ice water.

Update May 25th: I made the original recipe again, first spraying the crockpot with oil. I also woke up quite early randomly and so turned it off. It didn’t burn around the edges! And it’s a much more mild, less muddy flavor than when I tried it with oats and cardamom. It’s simple but light tasting and pleasant. There is a definite quinoa flavor that might take getting used to for some people, but I enjoy it. It made about 4.5 cups. I like to eat a serving as 3/4 cup, which is about 100 calories, that way I can add in another 100 calories worth of fruit and maybe 50 of a fat, and I have a filling, balanced, low calorie breakfast.

Update Oct 18th: I was too lazy to reheat my leftover porridge, so I just ate it cold. On 3/4 cup of porridge I poured 3 ounces of slightly sweet soymilk and 1 tsp. of maple syrup and mixed it up well. I really enjoyed it this way. It only has 6 grams of sugar but it tastes very sweet. It was a bit low on fat though. I should probably have added a Tbs. of nuts.

Oct 19th: I used 2/3 tsp. maple syrup and it was sweet enough. If I had unsweetened soymilk I think I would use 1-1.5 tsp of maple syrup.

Nov 2006: I ate a small serving with half a serving of cold cereal on top. Excellent combo!

Rating: B

Nutrition Facts

for Barley Quinoa Porridge (3/4 cup serving)

Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving
Calories 95
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 4mg
Carbohydrate 18.9g
Dietary Fiber 3.4g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 3.4g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% Iron 8%

Wheat berries for breakfast
I finally found a way I really like to eat wheat berries~cold, for breakfast, with regular cold breakfast cereal.

I made a stuffing with wheat berries, kamut, and a rice blend that includes short grain brown rice, wild rice, and purple rice. I toasted the wheat and kamut, then soaked them overnight, then added the rice blend and cooked them all together for about an hour (I think).

I had some of the plain grain mixture leftover so I’ve been eating it for breakfast cold. I use 1/3 cup of the grain mixture, and 1/2 my normal amount of a cold cereal. I add 1 Tbs. ground flax seeds and 3 ounces unsweetened soymilk. It’s delish! The chewy grains, and the way the wheat berries have that little “pop” when you bite into them, really adds something to the crunch of normal breakfast cereal. Plus, it is way more filling and satisfying than eating a normal bowl of cereal. When I eat a normal bowl of cereal I immediately want another (a mental thing), plus (even with a high protein/high fat cereal) I’m usually hungry pretty quickly (a physical thing). With the wheat berry mixture I’m very satisfied with just the one bowl (maybe it’s the extra chewing, or that it seems bulkier? who knows), and it holds me for much longer.

Finally, the stats are just what I aim for for breakfast. Depending on the cereal, the stats are about:
250-300 calories
25-30% fat (very little saturated)
15-20% protein
60-50% carbs
10.5g fiber

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