Game-changing tofu scramble

cover

Have you ever heard of Kala Namak?

I read about it somewhere on the internet and decided to buy some on Amazon. Basically, it’s a black salt that comes from India, and it smells like eggs.

IMG_20170604_152451

It doesn’t smell that strong in the jar, but the smell intensifies when you add it to hot food.

kala-namak-2

I crushed mine up in my Magic Bullet, but you could probably use a nut grinder too.

kala namak

The other day I made a tofu scramble recipe from Food52 Vegan cookbook. The recipe calls for tahini and Dijon mustard, which adds so much flavor. I will post the recipe below because you have to try it.

Anyway, I added Kala Namak to the scramble and it went from pretty good to amazing! I highly recommend you go find some and add it to anything egg-y that you’re making: omelets, scrambles, egg salad, quiche…!

As promised, the Food52 Tofu Scramble:

Serves 4

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 C diced veggies
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1 T tamari (I used regular soy sauce)
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 14-16oz extra-firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/4 C nutritional yeast
  • 3 C baby spinach or other greens (I did kale)
  • 1/4 C minced fresh parsley
  • pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sautee for 2 minutes. Add the veggies and saute until tender.
  2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, tamari, mustard, and turmeric. Add to the skillet and stir to combine, then stir in the tofu. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tofu is heated through, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the top and stir it in. Add the spinach (or greens) and cook, stirring frequently, until just wilted.
  3. Serve topped with parsley and a few grinds of pepper.

Hope you love it!

The trick to making vegan protein pancakes and muffins

Ever since I learned about protein pancakes and muffins, all I want to do is make them. I love pancakes and muffins but don’t normally eat them because they don’t normally have a lot of nutritional value.

A lot of recipes I found for flourless pancakes and muffins — where protein powder is used in place of flour — require eggs. The vegan subsitutes for eggs are typically flax “eggs” and chia “eggs”.

fail

When I use these, my muffins and pancakes NEVER cook fully in the middle, no matter how long I cook them. They’re always wet inside. I still eat them, though, because there’s no risk of salmonella poisoning or anything (+1 for veganism).

Even more frustrating, half the time I can’t even flip the pancakes properly and they end up turning into a scramble.

I was determined to figure out a way, so I’ve tried a lot of different approaches:

making the batter more dry

making thinner pancakes

using VeganEgg

adding coconut flour

adding almond meal

None of these worked. This morning I decided to try using actual flour (buckwheat flour) to make pancakes…

buckwheat

Amazingly, they were not hard to flip, AT ALL. And, they were actually cooked inside and not wet.

I hope I saved you some time if you’ve been looking for a way to make vegan protein pancakes. I can’t give you an actual recipe because I didn’t write down what I was doing this morning, but the bottom line is:

You can’t really make eggless and flourless protein pancakes where you substitute flour for protein powder. You MUST use some kind of flour.

If you disagree and have somehow been successful — please share what you did!

Lori’s Kitchen Nightmares

Project Meal Prep | Lori's kitchen nightmares
A terribly edited photo of my face superimposed onto Gordon Ramsey’s face

We’ve all had mishaps in the kitchen:

using the wrong ingredient

burning food

burning our fingers

cutting our fingers

Here are some that were particularly memorable for me:

1. Rubbing chili peppers into my face

I didn’t rub actual peppers into my face… it’s more like I was cutting peppers, washed my hands once, and then rubbed my face. It burned so much, I might as well have rubbed the seeds directly onto my face.

Washing your hands once is definitely NOT ENOUGH to get the spice off. Really, I should have been wearing gloves.

This happened to me twice, which shows how much I learned my lesson.

The first and worst time was with a Scotch Bonnet pepper, which is on the 3rd highest level of spice (on the same range as Habanero peppers). The second time was with a Serrano pepper.

I went crazy both times and tried anything to make the pain stop. I found the most relief in submerging my face into a bowl of iced milk and sticking my face under the tap running cold water for like 20 minutes.

Moral of the story: Wear gloves when handling hot peppers.

2. That time my mixer broke

“That mixer” being my Kitchenaid standing mixer, which is a couple of hundred dollars.

I forgot what I was making, but it required me to knead or mix for a while, so I left the mixer on and suddenly it stops. The motor feels hot, and when I try to turn it on again, it just makes a weird noise and doesn’t move.

I called Kitchenaid and they said you aren’t supposed to leave the mixer running for more than 4 minutes or something. I had to buy a new mixer, and was kicking myself about what I did.

Moral of the story: Don’t leave your mixer running for too long.

3. Melting a plastic spatula in the toaster oven

I pre-heated my toaster oven and walked away. Several minutes later, there’s a lot of smoke and a strong chemical smell coming from the kitchen. I had just moved, and for some reason there was a plastic spatula in the toaster oven!

There’s melted plastic inside the oven, and I’m worried I’m going to get cancer from inhaling all the fumes. To add to the chaos, my fire alarm also went off.

Moral of the story: Check if the oven is empty before turning it on.

4. Dropping one layer of a cake

Not too long ago, I had a second attempt at baking a layer cake. I was too impatient to wait for the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, so the frosting was melting a little.

I was carrying the frosted cake across the kitchen, and suddenly the top layer slid off the cake — due to the slickness of the melted frosting — and fell onto the floor.

Baking a layered cake requires quite a lot of time and effort, so I was on the verge of freaking out.

Moral of the story: Just freaking wait for the cake to cool completely before frosting.

5. Eating a rotten watermelon

One time I ordered groceries from a grocery delivery service called Instacart. In the “special instructions”, to make sure I got a good watermelon, I asked the shopper to pick the heaviest one.

Well, she did. It was really heavy. However, when I cut it open, it looked weird. I took a small spoonful of the juice, and it was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted. I could have thrown up. The watermelon was rotten! I had temporary watermelon trauma afterward, where even thinking about watermelon made me feel sick.

Moral of the story: The heaviest watermelon is not always a good one!

6. Butter, butter, everywhere

This happened before I became a vegan. I was making pretzels by hand, because my mixer broke (see nightmare #2).

The recipe for the dough required you to blend a stick of butter with the dry ingredients, using your hands.

For the first few minutes, I was freaking out because there was just butter all over my hands and everywhere, and it seemed like it wasn’t ever going to become incorporated into dough. I told myself to just keep kneading and to believe in the recipe. Eventually, after 10-15 minutes, I actually had a smooth dough.

Moral of the story: Just keep kneading. And sometimes you don’t need a mixer. I mean, what did they do in the olden days, before electricity?

Do you have any particularly memorable kitchen mishaps?

Updates & things I’ve cooked lately

Hey guys, so I haven’t done a proper meal prep post in a long time. It’s not because I haven’t been meal prepping, I’ve just been feeling too unmotivated to do the photo shoots with the groceries all laid out, etc.

I bought a really nice digital camera a few months ago and I accidentally pushed it off my desk and the screen cracked. I’m so sad I can’t use it anymore and Best Buy declared it unrepairable — FML! So now all my pics aren’t so great anymore. Also, I don’t want to be a weirdo taking food pics by the window at work and sometimes it’s already dark out when I’m eating dinner and I can’t get good lighting.

I digress. I made some really yummy and interesting things lately.

#1 is this posole. I didn’t know what posole was before this, I just picked the recipe out of Minimalist Baker‘s cookbook because I liked the picture lol. Someone at work asked me what I was eating when I was having this, and I embarrassingly pronounced the word wrong (WHOOPS).

Project Meal Prep | Vegan posole

Anyway, if you didn’t know, posole is a Mexican soup that has hominy in it. (“Posole” actually means “hominy”). Living in California, I always see hominy in the canned goods aisle at the grocery store, but I never cooked with it before. It basically looks like really huge corn kernels, but with a different texture.

tomatillo.jpg

Another thing I’ve always seen but never cooked with is tomatillos, which were called for in this soup. I broiled them until the skin peeled off easily, then pureed them with some poblano peppers. I posted an Instagram story of how I made them, so follow me if you want to see future cooking stories!

The 2nd best thing I made lately was this Thai inspired soup by Laura Vitale. The base is so simple — veggie broth, coconut milk and red curry paste — but the dish is so flavorful and comforting. Soups to me are like a hug from the inside (is that weird to say?!)

Project Meal Prep | Thai noodle soup

I baked bread for the 2nd time ever. This one has a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. It’s so delicious when toasted! I got the recipe from Minimalist Baker again, but I skipped the step of adding seeds and oats and re-kneading.

Project Meal Prep | Semi-whole-wheat bread

And the rest, which I don’t have much to comment on…

Project Meal Prep | Tahini dip
Tahini dip with garlic and lemon
Project Meal Prep | Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
Project Meal Prep | Oatmeal
Oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and raspberries

Time for some random updates.

chihuahua

Two weekends ago I happened upon a huge animal rescue event in Jack London Square in Oakland. There were dozens of different organizations and animals up for adoption — dogs, cats, rats, and even pigeons!

pugs-2pugs

I almost flipped out when I saw the pug rescue. I love pugs so much, I just wanted to lay in the middle of the enclosure and let them walk all over and around me. I was also happy to know that there are breed-specific dog rescues, so there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to go to a breeder.

vietnam-travel

Last update: I’m going to Vietnam in 9 days! I’ve never been there before, and I’ll be on a backpacking-style trip. I’m so excited and trying to learn some Vietnamese phrases.

If you made it to the end of this post, THANK YOU!

Salvaging a bland meal

How to salvage a bland meal | Project Meal Prep

Sometimes I make healthy dishes that end up being incredibly bland, or after a few days I start to get sick of eating the same thing. Here are some of my favorite healthy ways to jazz up my food:

lemon juice. I love the flavor combo of something acidic with something salty. Lemon is a great, calorie-free way to brighten up a lot of foods.

shredded vegan cheese. A little sprinkle of cheese goes a long way to adding a little saltiness and creaminess to your meal. I love it melted on tofu scrambles and burrito bowls.

minced garlic. Garlic salt is also a nice alternative if you don’t feel like getting out the garlic press.

hot sauce. Adding a heat makes food a little more interesting. You can also try adding cayenne pepper or chili flakes! Lemon + minced garlic + salt + chili flakes are a really yummy combo.

Himalayan pink salt / sea salt. Himalayan pink salt is supposed to have minerals in it that regular salt doesn’t, but it’s questionable whether the amount is actually significant or not. Either way, a tiny sprinkle of salt is usually a good idea, just don’t overdo it.

liquid aminos. It’s made from soybeans and tastes kinda like tamari or soy sauce, but it has a bunch of amino acids in it. I like this one because it comes in a spray bottle, so you can get a good, evenly-distributed amount with just one spray.

avocado. Sometimes when a meal is really dry, I mash up 1/2 or 1/4 of an avocado with lemon and mix it in with the food. I find that it can make something that’s bordering on unappetizing become really delicious.

What kind of things do YOU like to add??

Meal Prep Sunday: Week of May 29

It’s good to be back home, making my own food, and eating greens after eating so much bread and potatoes on my trip.

rvng-book

This week I made lunch and dinner both from the new Raw Vegan Not Gross cookbook. I’ve been a huge fan of RVNG ever since my friend introduced me to the videos on the Tastemade YouTube channel. I find Laura Miller’s approachable, non-pretentious personality and attitude towards food to be really refreshing.

IMG_0374

IMG_0392

For lunch I had Walnutballs in red sauce on top of zoodles. I think you’re supposed to serve it cold but I thought it tasted better warmed up. It didn’t taste much like spaghetti and meatballs but it was delicious in its own way and doesn’t make you feel sleepy after eating it!

IMG_0387

IMG_0379

For dinner I had Spaghetti squash mac and cheese. The sauce was primarily cashews and nutritional yeast. I added salt and half a can of full fat coconut milk to make it taste more “cheesy”. It was so tasty I ate a serving of it while I was cooking 🙂

IMG_0421

Since I did that, I made another impromptu dish with the leftover veggies I had along with coconut milk, curry powder, and red curry paste. It was supposed to be a soup but the flavor was a little strong, so I ate it with rice.

Fun fact: I ordered my groceries from Instacart (a grocery delivery service) this week because I didn’t have time to go the store, and the shopper picked out a rotten watermelon. It was extremely heavy for a watermelon of its size, so I thought it was just really ripe. Also, on the outside it was a solid dark green color, so I thought it was a different species. I didn’t think it was rotten, so I took a sip of the juice inside and nearly threw up.

I may be traumatized from eating watermelon ever again, guys.

Make your meal prepping eco-friendly

I started thinking about this topic during that week where I ate mostly raw. I came home with so many plastic bags of produce, which I crammed into my cupboard that was already full of them.

produce-bag

Some of them are actually compostable, but the ones from my grocery store are not. Here are a few ways you can be a little more environmentally-friendly at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

Reusable produce bags

flip-and-tumble

I looked into reusable grocery bags, and I found a bunch on Amazon, but ended up getting these ones, which cost $11.92 for five. I used them the other day, and they were great (this post is not sponsored BTW).

Reusable zip-lock bags

blue-avocado

I also got these Re-Zip Seal Reusable Storage Bags to use instead of plastic Ziplock baggies. I did hesitate a bit because they’re almost $20 for five bags, but they feel nice and sturdy and so far I’m a fan.

Use less water when making pasta

Usually when people make pasta, they first fill up a pot with an arbitrary amount of water, which will often be way more water than actually needed. Instead, add the pasta FIRST, then add cold water until it just covers the pasta. This way you are using exactly the amount of water you need.

Freeze leftovers to avoid wasting food

Sometimes life gets in the way and you realize you’re not going to be home to eat all the food in your kitchen. I love freezing food I can’t eat in time, particularly breads, baked goods, fruits, and soups. A surprising number of foods can be frozen and still taste fine when re-heated, look it up!

P.S. Did you know about edible cutlery?

There’s an innovative company from India called Bakies that came up with edible spoons and forks that you can eat WITH, and then EAT when you’re done, so your meal can be waste-free. You can also compost them if you don’t want to eat them. They’re made from grains and come in a bunch of different flavors!

bakeys.png

I hope one day we can replace plastic cutlery and wooden chopsticks in restaurants with edible alternatives.

What are your tips for making grocery shopping, cooking, or packing food eco-friendly?