Crispy Eggplant Tofu (vegan)

Crispy Eggplant Tofu (vegan)

One of my guilty pleasures and favorite places to get a quick meal is Panda Express. I know it’s not authentic Chinese food, but man is it good. My two favorite entrees at Panda would have to be the orange chicken and the eggplant tofu. However I will admit their eggplant tofu is extremely oily so I aspired to make a somewhat healthier version and add my own touch to it.

This version of the dish gives you nice crispy eggplant and tofu pieces (not deep fried!) covered in a yummy garlic and ginger soy sauce glaze. Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients: (makes about 2-3 servings)

  • 2 small or 1 large Chinese long eggplant (regular eggplant will work too, but not as well)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 block firm tofu
  • Avocado oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger, minced
  • green onions, chopped (optional, for topping)
  • Sauce:
    1. *1 tbsp light soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)
    2. *1/2 tsp dark soy sauce (regular soy sauce fine if you don’t have this)
    3. 1 tbsp water
    4. 2 tsp sugar (I use monk fruit sweetener or coconut sugar as a healthier alternative)
    5. 1 tsp cornstarch*substitute tamari for gluten free

Instructions:

  1. cut eggplant into bite size pieces and then **place into a bowl of water (enough water to cover eggplant) then add sea salt to water and mix. Cover with something heavy (I use a smaller bowl of water) so that eggplant pieces are completely submerged in water. Leave for 15 minutes.
    1. **This step is very important to get rid of the bitterness of the eggplant! You could also add sea salt to the eggplant pieces and let them sit out for about 45-60 minutes, but i like the submerged water method because its faster haha.
  2. While waiting for eggplant, press your tofu. Grab your half block of tofu and place in between a dish towel or 2 paper towels. Place something with some weight (not heavy enough to break the tofu, I usually use a small plate) on the top towel layer. Leave for 10-15 min to let most of the moisture out of the tofu. After 10-15 minutes, cut tofu into 1/2” thick pieces and set aside.
  3. Combine ingredients for sauce in a bowl and mix well.
  4. After 15 min for eggplant is up, empty water and pat pieces dry with a dish towel or paper towel.
  5. Sprinkle eggplant pieces with about 1 tbsp cornstarch and mix by hand, until each piece of eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.
  6. In a non-stick pan on medium-high heat add about 2 tbsp of avocado oil and add the eggplant pieces without them touching. Cook pieces one side at a time until all sides are lightly golden brown and eggplant is soft (about 3-5 minutes per side.) Transfer eggplant from pan to a plate and set aside.
  7. In same pan or another non-stick pan at medium heat, fry your tofu (I usually do this step at the same time eggplant is cooking in another pan.) You can also coat your tofu with cornstarch to make it extra crispy if you would like, but i find it’s not necessary. Spray or lightly drizzle avocado oil into pan and place tofu pieces with largest sides down, not overlapping. Flip when nice and dark golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer from pan to a plate and set aside.
  8. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of avocado oil, minced ginger, and garlic into the same pan on medium high heat. Once fragrant, add the eggplant and tofu back into the skillet. Mix the sauce again until cornstarch is fully dissolved and then pour it over the eggplant and tofu. Immediately stir a few times, until the eggplant and tofu pieces are all evenly coated and the sauce thickens.
  9. Transfer everything to a plate, top with green onions, and enjoy! 🙂

**This dish is best served fresh! I’ve tried to save leftovers and eat it the next day, but it is not nearly as god since it loses its crispiness.

Drink Smarter, Not Harder

Drink Smarter, Not Harder

Happy May, everyone! This month, we will both be celebrating our birthdays with our friends and loved ones. Since we already know we’ll be drinking alcohol as part of the festivities, we thought we’d share our tips on how to still partake in drinking without wreaking havoc on your body. 

News flash! You don’t have to drink 10 shots a night to have fun, and you most likely can’t drink like you’re 21 anymore. If you were drinking back to back nights in college, with an incredible resilience and no hangover to date, consider yourself lucky but those days only last for so long and age will eventually catch up with you. The sad truth is that alcohol has a lot of detrimental effects on the body. However, when consumed properly and in moderation, it can still be a fun social activity you can enjoy with others. 

How alcohol negatively affects your body:
Alcohol unfortunately has a long grocery list of short and long-term negative effects on your body.

  • Short term: hangover, dehydration, fatigue, lack of coordination, inflammation, mood and behavioral changes, weakened immune system
  • Long term: liver damage, muscle deterioration, heart damage, increased chances of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. 

Realistically, alcohol is a part of life for many people and is often present at most celebrations, meaning that giving up drinking for good is difficult. While it may be bad for you, it can certainly be consumed responsibly by following our tips below: 

Tips on how to drink smarter: 
Before drinking – make sure you are eating a lot of fiber and whole foods. The more processed junk food you consume beforehand, the worse your hangover will be the following day. Do NOT drink on an empty stomach, as doing this will cause the alcohol to damage your stomach lining. We like to take a milk thistle supplement if we know we’ll be consuming alcohol later that night, which helps coat and protect your liver! 

During drinking – Hydrate! Make it a habit to drink water in between your drinks and remember to pace yourself. You are in control of how much you drink and only YOU can gauge how much is too much. A good rule of thumb to remember is that your body metabolizes around one drink per hour, depending on your body weight. 

After drinking – Sleep well, hydrate, be sure to have a hearty meal the next morning to soak up whatever alcohol is left within your body. Many people think greasy, fried foods the morning after drinking will help absorb the alcohol but in reality it is only a temporary fix and will end up making you feel even more lethargic and disgusting than before.. If you are hungover, sipping on any type of herbaceous bone broth will do wonders, which is why pho is the ultimate post-drinking cure! 

Our favorite hangover free / sugar-free drink recipes: 

Remi’s Skinny Spicy Margarita

  • 1 shot tequila blanco
  • Juice of an entire lime
  • couple slices of jalapeno (option to muddle w/ seeds for extra spice)
  • liquid stevia
  • Lime La croix or other sparkling water
  • Instructions: Mix everything together except la croix in a cocktail shaker or cup and pour over ice (Don’t forget to rim the top of your glass with some tajin.) Top with la croix and enjoy! 

Bryn’s Vodka Mixer

  • 2 shots of vodka
  • 1 can of fresca
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • ice 
One Bowl Chai Chewy Cookies

One Bowl Chai Chewy Cookies

The kitchen is already a daunting environment to be in, especially when you throw scratch baking into the situation. Like many hobbies, baking is not suited for everyone, especially because there’s much less room for error as opposed to cooking.

For example, if you add a pinch more of baking soda than a recipe called for, everything you had dreamed of your dessert becoming may be thrown out the windows. Goodbye, dreams of finally becoming a professional patisserie today!

We’ve been there too and, honestly, we’re fed up with the smoking ovens, wasted flour and excessive hours now up in flames similar to the last attempt I made baking something I saw on Tik Tok. We’ve got some good news to share with you amateur bakers like ourselves out there! Here’s a quick, easy, fool-proof cookie recipe that I promise you and your friends begging for more of.

This recipe is:
Oil-free! The binding agent is the nut butter and the flax egg
Perfectly sweetened and flavored with a conglomeration of spices
Similar to cake, it has a dense, chewy texture that’s addictive!
The perfect comforting fall dessert during these uncertain times
Vegan and full of natural ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup GF oat flour (blended GF oats, I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup cashew butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg (or use a flax egg – mix 1 tbsp flax with 3 tbsp water, let it rest for 5 minutes before adding)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • White chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place oats in a blender and process until it has a flour-like texture
  3. In a large bowl, combine everything together until it’s a wet dough texture. Add in the chocolate chips last.
  4. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Enjoy!
Wonton Happiness Salad (inspired by Souplantation)

Wonton Happiness Salad (inspired by Souplantation)

Souplantation has always been one of my favorite places to eat. Even though they basically just serve soup, salad, and lots of carbs, something about it was just so good and I have so many fond memories there. Since they didn’t have Souplantation in Hawaii, my family and I would always make a trip there whenever we would visit the states. Once I moved to Los Angeles, of course I became a club veg member so I could receive all the coupons and special offers. I ate there at least once a month, always looking forward to their new menu items and of course always sneaking an extra blueberry muffin in my purse on my way out 😉

When I found out Souplantation was permanently closing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was devastated. The thought of never having the tuna tarragon pasta or those fat noodles in the chicken noodle soup ever again broke my heart. My friends and I were all equally distraught so we decided to recreate some of the dishes at home for a (social distancing) potluck. I was in charge of creating the famous Asian Wonton Happiness salad which I put my own healthy twists on, of course, and surprisingly it turned out so good! Dare I say possibly better than the original? I wouldn’t go that far but I have been craving it for lunch every day since which definitely says something.

This salad is basically a Chinese chicken salad (I added chicken but Souplantation’s version doesn’t have chicken) but what makes it so good is the sesame ginger dressing and the air fried wonton chips. All the yumminess of fried wonton strips without all the oil / deep frying for less guilt! I hope you guys give this recipe a try and pay homage to the great salad and soup buffet that we all love and will miss greatly. Enjoy 🙂

Recipe: (makes about 6 servings)

  1. Ingredients:
    • 4 cups romaine lettuce, cut into bite size pieces
    • 3 cups cabbage, shredded
    • 1 cup carrots, shredded
    • 4-5 store-bought wonton wrappers (for air fryer version) OR can buy pre-made wonton strips
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
    • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
    • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
    • 2 chicken breasts (optional)
    • optional toppings / ingredients:
      • sliced almonds
      • avocado
    • Dressing:
      • 2 tbsp avocado oil
      • 1/4 cup Rice vinegar
      • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
      • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari / coconut aminos for gluten free)
      • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
      • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce OR see below for healthier alternative
        1. Healthier hoisin sauce (makes 1/4 cup)
          • 1/8 cup light soy sauce (or tamari / coconut aminos for gluten free)
          • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter (read ingredients, should just be made of peanuts)
          • 1 tbsp honey
          • 1 tsp rice vinegar
          • 1 tsp sesame oil
          • 1/2 tsp miso paste
          • 1 clove garlic, grated
  2. Instructions:
    1. For chicken:
      1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
      2. Once boiling, add chicken breasts in and cook on medium high heat for 20-25 minutes.
      3. Once time is up, place chicken in cold water immediately to stop cooking and let sit for about 5 minutes, until cooled.
      4. Pat chicken dry and place in large bowl. Use two forks to shred the chicken into small bite size pieces.
    2. For dressing:
      1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
    3. For air fryer wonton strips:
      1. Take about 6-8 wonton wrappers from package, keeping them stacked together. Cut entire square into 16 pieces so each strip is about 1 1/2” x 1/2”
      2. Separate all strips from each other and place into a bowl (it’s okay if some are still stuck together, they will separate in the air fryer.)
      3. spray a little avocado oil (option to omit oil, it will still work.) Mix well until all strips are evenly coated.
      4. Place strips in air fryer basket and set air fryer to 350 degrees F for about 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
      5. Once done, let cool
    4. For salad:
      1. Place all salad ingredients except avocado, if using.
      2. Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss well to combine (start with a little dressing and add more as needed by preference)
      3. Top with avocado (if using) and serve immediately!
Dalgona Matcha Latte (vegan, refined sugar free)

Dalgona Matcha Latte (vegan, refined sugar free)

If there’s one thing that has been going crazy viral during this quarantine it’s the dalgona coffee trend. Everyone and their mother is making it and as someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I was getting a little jealous. After doing some research I found out that there is a way to create the same whipped effect in a matcha latte! And best part of all, it’s vegan 😉

What Is Dalgona Coffee?

Dalgona coffee is a whipped coffee made using instant coffee powder. When you whisk the instant coffee and water together it creates a whipped and thick consistency. You might be thinking, well how can you make a dalgona drink without the instant coffee? Well, that’s what we’re here to share our little secret on.

The secret to a Dalgona drink without instant coffee:

Drumroll please… the secret ingredient, believe it or not, is chickpeas! Well, the liquid from a can of chickpeas anyways aka aquafaba. This liquid gold is typically used as an egg white substitute as it can whisk to form stiff peaks, similar to egg whites. And since I know you’re all probably all wondering the same thing that I did, no it does not taste like chickpeas and isn’t salty! So next time you open a can of chickpeas, make sure to save that liquid to make yourself a creamy and delicious drink.

RECIPE: DALGONA MATCHA (vegan, refined sugar free)

Ingredients:

  • aquafaba (liquid from chickpea can)
  • *1 tsp matcha powder (culinary or ceremonial grade) *add more or less depending on how strong your matcha powder is / how strong you like your matcha
  • refined sugar free sweetener of choice:
    • liquid stevia: 1 full droplet
    • stevia: 1 serving size (1 packet of stevia)
    • maple syrup: 1 teaspoon **(or more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 3/4 cup plant based milk of choice (oat milk tastes best in my opinion)
  • ice (optional)
  • a nice, clear glass that will display your beautiful creation. Mason jars work great!

Instructions:

  1. Pour the *amount of aquafaba you are going to use out into a large bowl (big enough so you can mix vigorously and not splash)*I find that one chickpea can produces enough aquafaba to make 2 drinks, so pour out about 1/2 of what you got a from the chickpea can
  2. Either using an electric hand mixer or portable frother (what I use) whisk the aquafaba until it becomes a fluffy whipped texture (not quite stiff peaks.) You can also use a regular handheld whisk but it will take much longer.
    The time for this depends on what tool you are using but will at least take about 3-5 minutes. Keep mixing until it reaches a nice foamy whipped consistency
  3. Once aquafaba is the consistency you’re looking for, add in matcha powder and liquid sweetener of choice
  4. Using either a electric hand mixer or hand whisk (portable frother not strong enough for this step) mix in the matcha powder and sweetener until completely mixed in
  5. Taste mixture to make sure it is to your liking. If it needs more matcha or sweetener, add it now
  6. Put ice into your glass (if using) and then add plant based milk
  7. Carefully spoon whipped mixture into your glass (if not all of it fits, don’t worry. You can add more later after you drink some)
  8. Take a picture of your beautiful creation (because half the point of making this is to post on Instagram obviously) and then mix and enjoy! 🙂

Hope you enjoy this recipe! I seriously make it at least 3x a week now and find myself looking for any excuse to use chickpeas to get the liquid haha. Don’t think I’ll be spending money on expensive matcha lattes anymore even after this quarantine is over. Being your own barista is fun 😉

Healthy Holiday Feastivities

Healthy Holiday Feastivities

The holiday season is a very special time filled with family, friends, and an abundance of food, but it also has the potential to negatively impact your health goals. We sometimes tend to use Thanksgiving day as an excuse to eat as much and as unhealthy as we possibly can, resulting in feeling sluggish for days after and sometimes knocking us off our health game until the new year. We’re here to show you that it doesn’t have to be this way! You can still enjoy the holiday festivities and your favorite foods by being cognizant of how you spend this day as well as what you’re eating to avoid feeling lethargic. Below are some of our tips on how you can balance a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying yourself during this time that only happens once a year. You deserve to enjoy your most beloved foods free of stress and without wreaking havoc on your body. 

Thanksgiving Day Game Plan:

  1. Get your workout done in the morning, before the madness begins. We suggest doing at least 30 minutes of activity to get your blood pumping. As a result, you’ll feel rejuvenated and inspired to make better eating decisions throughout the rest of the day. 
  2. If you know you’re going to eat a very heavy dinner, try to eat something lighter and nutritious for breakfast / lunch. Opt for a smoothie loaded with greens, fruits, and superfoods or a salad full of leafy greens that are full of fiber to help you digest all the heavier food you will be eating later on. Try not to starve yourself before the big feast or you’ll find yourself making unconscious eating choices out of hunger.  
  3. Find out the menu beforehand to ensure there are healthier options present, especially vegetables. If not, offer to bring your own healthy dish. You can guarantee someone at the event will appreciate you bringing a lighter option to balance out the heavier items on the table. If you are bringing a dessert, opt for something that is refined-sugar free. (See recipes below.) 
  4. Reach for a glass of red wine instead of a sugary cocktail. 
  5. After dinner, go on a walk outside with your family / friends. Not only will walking help you digest everything you consumed, but it is also a great bonding experience. 

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes: 
ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS, SQUASH, PECANS AND CRANBERRIES by Simple Veganista 
STUFFED MUSHROOM CUPS by Skinny Ms
If you want to make this vegan, Bryn recommends substituting the cheese for ½ cup soaked cashews, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. 
FALL HARVEST SALAD with Half Baked Harvest
CAULIFLOWER MASHED POTATOES by A Sweet Pea Chef
VEGAN COFFEE CAKE by Big Man’s World
CREAMY PUMPKIN PIE by Chocolate Covered Katie
APPLE CRISP by Well Plated

THANK YOU! 
As Thanksgiving is a time to practice gratitude, we wanted to take this time to say a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for subscribing to this newsletter and joining this community! To us, your readership means you are interested in taking charge of your health to become your best self even through these trying, difficult times. We are fortunate to have this outlet where we can share our knowledge to help someone out there. Wherever you are reading this, we wish you, your family, and loved ones, a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season. This year may have been rough, but knowing we’re all in this together makes it a little easier 🙂