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.

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!
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 a dalgona matcha and boy was I excited because matcha lattes are my absolute favorite drink.

For the dalgona coffee, the whipped texture is created by using instant coffee. Since matcha powder won’t yield the same effect, you need to first create a whipped base. There are 3 options for the whipped base: heavy cream, egg whites, and aquafaba which is the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Being that aquafaba was the only vegan version, I decided to give it a try. Turns out aqufaba is literally LIQUID GOLD. Apparently it is used as a vegan replacement for egg whites, typically for the egg white froth at the top of cocktails (who knew?!) After whipping it up for the first time, I couldn’t believe that I had been dumping that liquid gold down the drain every time I used a can of chickpeas! It whipped up so quickly and looks and feels exactly like whipped egg whites. It also surprisingly doesn’t taste like chickpeas at all, and isn’t salty even if the chickpeas are salted.

Okay enough of me raving about chickpea water… let’s get to the 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)
      1. *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. You can also use a regular handheld whisk but it will take much longer.
      1. 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 like in the picture.
    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 too 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 😉

Plant Power: Plant-Based Protein

Plant Power: Plant-Based Protein

In 1992, the USDA introduced the food pyramid guide in addition to the HealthyEating Plate as an example of what all Americans should base their diets on. With meat as one of the main sources for the protein food group, and meat being considered a scarce item in most cultures, our society has become obsessed with including it into every meal. Don’t get us wrong, protein is still important, but most Americans actually eat more protein than necessary. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average amount of protein a person needs per day is 0.8g per lb you weigh. For example, if you are 5’7 and weigh 135lb, you only need 51g of protein a day. An average American male, however, consumes 100g a day which is well over recommendation.

What is more important for your body than protein intake is fiber, which can be found in whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Without fiber, our digestive system isn’t able to absorb nutrients properly or pass food through your body. The best part about plant-based proteins is you are obtaining both protein and fiber into your diet with every bite!

Some recipe ideas / tips for incorporating plant-based proteins: 

  • Beans / Legumes: 
  • Soybean products: 
  • Nuts / Seeds: 
    • Add nuts / seeds to your salads for added protein, healthy fats, and an added crunch
    • Hemp seeds: add to salads, smoothies, oatmeal, desserts, or even use it make desserts like these Dark Chocolate Hemp Energy Bites by Minimalist Baker
    • Chia Seeds: add to your oatmeal, smoothies, or make a delicious chia seed pudding
  • Grains: 
  • Other: 
    • Nutritional Yeast: sprinkle this on any meal to give it a cheesy flavor without the dairy and with tons of added nutrients like vitamin B12
    • Spirulina: 
  • Vegetables: Add veggies to ALL of your meals! The best part of vegetables is that they’re low in calories so you can eat as much you want. We like to fill our plates with at least 50% vegetables. This should be the star of your meals, not the protein, regardless if that protein is plant-based or not! As long as you focus on eating tons of veggies in every meal, you don’t have to worry that you’re not getting enough protein. 

You don’t have to completely cut out meat from your life but eating less can only do more good than harm. Start by taking small steps and trying to incorporate plant-based protein sources 1-2x per week. Notice how your body feels after eating less meat, and adjust accordingly! Like we always say, everyone’s body is different so do what feels best for you. If you make any of the recipes we linked don’t forget to tag us on social media! See you guys next month for more healthy tips and tricks to improve your health and become your best self.