Saturday, April 7, 2007

Breakfast or Brunch: Pancakes

It has occurred to me that I haven't shared my pancake recipe yet. Pancakes are super-easy to veganize, and they taste virtually indistinguishable from the kind that use dairy.

You need:

• 1 1/2 c flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 c soy milk (plain or vanilla)
• egg replacer for 1 egg
• 1/4 c vegetable oil or plain applesauce
• margarine for pan frying, if desired

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add soy milk, egg replacer, and oil/applesauce. Stir to combine; batter will be a bit lumpy. Melt some margarine (about 2 tsp) in a frying pan or griddle over medium heat, if desired. Spoon about ¼ c of pancake mix onto pan for each pancake (more or less to your size preference). When the edges appear dry and the center bubbles a bit, flip the pancakes. They won’t need to cook long on the other side; remove them when the second side looks golden. Keep cooking pancakes like this until the batter is gone. Enjoy!

There are lots of variations on this recipe, too. You can substitute whole wheat or spelt flour for white flour (you might need to add a little more soy milk to thin out the batter a bit) for whole grain pancakes. You can add about 1/4 tsp of vanilla and some chocolate chips for chocolate chip pancakes; or blueberries for blueberry pancakes (with a little lemon zest if you're feeling it, yum); or 1 tsp (more or less to taste) cinnamon for cinnamon pancakes. I've also had decent results substituting water for soy milk and/or omitting the egg replacer when I didn't have either of those ingredients on hand.

Another hint: a lot of store-bought pancake mixes don't have dairy products in them, and if you omit the eggs or use egg replacer you can usually make them as-is.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Tonight's Dinner: Falafel With White Bean Hummus and Lemon Spinach Couscous

This was quite easy to make, and pretty quick too.

The couscous and falafel came from boxes, and the only thing I changed was to shape the falafel into patties and pan-fry them rather than roll them into balls and deep-fry. By pan-frying in a non-stick pan on medium-low heat, I was able to cut most of the fat from the recipe (I used about a tablespoon of olive oil for all of the falafel, just to make them a little crispy on the outside).

I haven't been too thrilled with the store-bought hummus I've found around here, so I decided to make my own. I'm not sure what gave me the idea, but in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store I decided to try making it with navy beans instead of chick peas (cannellini beans or great northern beans would work too).

You need:

• 1 can white beans, drained (navy, cannellini or great northern)
• juice from 1/4 lemon
• 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
• approx. 2 tbsp water
• salt to taste

(It makes a big difference to use fresh lemon juice and garlic; I would not recommend using bottled lemon juice or garlic from a jar for this recipe.) Just dump the beans, lemon juice, garlic and water in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Add salt to taste and mix well.

We had the falafel in whole wheat pitas with lettuce, diced tomato and the hummus with the couscous on the side. The Boy was skeptical of the hummus at first, but as soon as he tasted it he was won over. The navy beans give it a creamier taste and texture than chick peas do, and without any oil added. Most hummus recipes call for tahini, but this was surprisingly good without it.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Expanding My Nutritional Yeast Horizons: Popcorn

I've read in various places over time that some people like to sprinkle nurtitional yeast on popcorn, but I never got around to trying it until today. I was pleasantly surprised; it tasted a lot like that white cheddar popcorn I had occasionally as a kid.

Since we use nutritional yeast flakes (which I would advise, since the flavour is more cheese-like), I'd smash them up a bit or grind them in a food processor so they'll stick to the popcorn easier. Depending on what kind of popcorn you use you might find it necessary to add a bit of salt, too.

Tasty and relatively healthy if you use air-popped or "natural" style microwave popcorn.