In the spirit of my more recent posts where I cut to the chase and get straight down to business aka the recipe, here we go!
Note on the recipe: the focus here was on recreating umami flavors of the bolognese sauce mixed in with Parmesan cheese. So, what you’ll see is a lot of umami ingredients: tomatoes, mushrooms, and marmite.
(Please note that I still enjoy writing and cooking, but the pandemic had imposed some restrictions on how much writing I can do. I will try to stick to sharing the recipes as they come, and I hope you don’t mind the decreased quality of phots which I don’t have time to stage these days. So, unlike the photos, food remains yummy.)
Place a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Once the pan is hot add the oil and onions. Sautéfor 5 minutes, or until onionhave softened. Note that onions, garlic and mushrooms don’t need to be finely chopped, rough chop/slicing is ok.
Add garlic, stir well, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
Mix in the chili powder and marmite, then add the sliced mushrooms. Toss everything to combine and sauté for another 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms are done.
While onion, garlic and mushroom mix is cooking, crumble the tempeh into rough crumbles into the large food processor (you can also use a hand held blender stick, in which case crumble into a large mixing bowl).
Add the sautéed mix into the tempeh and process until finely chopped and mixed. Please note that the mix will be hot, so handle with care.
Pour the contents of one large can of crushed tomatoes into the same frying pan you used for sautéing and place over medium heat. Add the tempeh mix, and gently fold everything in and combine. Once it starts to bubble, tomato sauce will start to spray all over so cover with the lid to minimize splatter.
Cook for 10 minutes or so with occasional stirring.
Serve immediately over pasta (my latest discovery is lentil and chickpea pasta, including the spaghetti), and sprinkle with fresh basil and/or oregano. Enjoy!
Looking for something easy and healthy to make for the holidays? Look no further than these super simple and super healthy cookies. They are full of pumpkin – and we all know that this is the pumpkin season – and are completely and naturally gluten-free. The combination of oats, coconut flour and almond flour does not really need backing and you could mix them all together, let the mix stand, and form the cookies as is. So, if you are into raw food, or minimally processed food this could be a path you take.
Baking the cookies does enhance the flavors, and that’s worth keeping this in mind. Baking also makes all the spices develop and merge. A combination of cinnamon, ginger and cardamom really blooms when heated up! At the end, baking the cookies will give you a more aromatic kitchen and platter.
What will also enhance the flavors is roasting your own pumpkin. (So, I guess not everything will be as a raw as possible since I am not sure you can use raw pumpkin – I have never tried and I am not even sure that it can be done!). Roasting the pumpkin is super easy – you don’t even need to peel it, just slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet, cut side down and roast at 425 F (220 C) for 45 minutes or so. It also helps to line the baking sheet with some foil or parchment paper – this helps the roasting and the clean up!
After the pumpkin is roasted, all you need to do is scoop the flash and purée, either in a food processor or using a masher. Food processor will make everything much smoother, but if you prefer your a more rustic pumpkin hands or a masher will do.
Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies – Yummy!
Gluten-free and Oil-free Pumpkin Cookies
What you’ll need:
1 15 oz (425 g) can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or 15 oz (425 g) roasted sugar pumpkin, puréed
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sugar (or solid sweetener of your choice)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup, for brushing
What you’ll do:
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
Combine all the ingredients in a large food processor. If you don’t have a food processor that’s large enough, you can either process in batches or process pumpkin and oats well and then just mix in the rest of the ingredients (except the optional maple syrup) by hand.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Use an ice cream scoop to measure out the amount for each cookie, than form a round and flat shape and place on the parchment paper. This amount of batter should yield about 12-14 cookies.
Cross-hatch the surface of each cookie.
Bake for 18-23 minutes. Cookies will be lightly browned but stay soft.
Let the cookies cool for 15-20 minutes before brushing with maple syrup. You could skip this step, but why would you want to do that? Enjoy!
I grew up eating pâté and loving it. Some pâté, on a piece of freshly baked bread with a glass of yogurt (yes, the liquid kind you drink like they do in Middle East!) was one of my go to breakfasts. And the pâté I ate was not a fancy French kind made with duck fat. At some point I learned that it was actually made of who know what, random bits and pieces of an animal all ground up. Whether you eat meat or not, I hope we can all agree that that’s pretty unappetizing when you think about it!
But: if you don’t think about it and just go with your taste buds, pâtés are really tasty. They are full of umami, savory flavors that we all crave, they are silky and smooth, they are nicely spreadable, and they are an excellent add-on to a nice piece of bread. So, how can we re-create the perfect savoriness with just a small number of ingredients, and make a healthy and satisfying pâté that will keep you coming back for more?
Well, we start with mushrooms, the well-known source of umami. You can use white button mushrooms here or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms as well. I do not recommend some of the mushrooms that have distinct flavors, like shiitakes; however, other mild mushrooms may work. Still, white button mushrooms are readily available, affordable and work!
Another important umami component is tomato paste. Here, you can use any tomato paste you have on hand and you can adjust the amount – anywhere between a tablespoon or two will do the trick.
To make the dip smooth and rich in protein, I recommend adding canned beans. White beans work best (cannellini, great Northern or navy), but any other variety will probably be OK. If you cook your own beans, I recommend that you keep them slightly undercooked for this application, or at least squeeze some of the excesses liquid out before blending to avoid ending with a pâté that’s more of a soup than a rich and dense spread.
The main flavoring agent here is Herbes de Provence, a mixture of dried herbs that usually includes thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and lavender. I use Trader Joe’s version, and they carry it only as a seasonal item in the fall, but any other mix with the same name will do. Alternatively, you can add a pinch of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs (including basil) that you may have on hand.
Finally, what also adds a lot to this pâté is sautéing and caramelizing onions, garlic and mushrooms before blending everything together. This will help the flavor deepen and develop!
Looking for serving suggestions? You can use it as a spread or a dip, as a pizza “sauce” and topping (why not?), in your quesadillas (let’s be adventurous!), for your baked potatoes, or for any other dish where you feel the need to add rich, yet smooth flavors. Enjoy!
Nut-free Mushroom Pâté, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
What you’ll need:
8 oz white button mushrooms (or cremini mushrooms if you like stronger mushroom flavor), sliced
1/2 large, white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1 15 oz (425 g) can white beans
Salt to taste
What you’ll do:
Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Heat up than add the oil and onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic. Let garlic start to release its aroma – this usually takes a minute.
Add the mushrooms and , increase the heat to high, mix well and sauté until mushrooms are browned. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
While the mushrooms are cooking, drain and rinse the can of beans. Shake access water off and place into a food processor or a large mixing bowl if you rather use a stick blender (this is an incredibly useful kitchen gadget and it’s what I used here).
Pour the sautéed mushrooms over the beans and blend until smooth and combined. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serve cold as a spread for sandwiches or as a dip for chips or crackers. This pâté is excellent addition to your menu and it offers a healthy and humane alternative.
If you are looking to add some sunshine to your plate, look no further! The waffles are here, and they are egg-free and dairy-free, and they can very easily be made gluten-free and nut-free as well. So, these waffles are allergy friendly, yet satisfying – they will please absolutely everyone because they use only simple ingredients and don’t require fussing with egg replacements or similar.
The key to these waffles (as well as any other type of waffles) is a really good waffle iron, that you want to keep at medium high heat. And: you also want to keep it well oiled to help the waffles crisp up and reach that beautiful golden-brown stage without sticking!
Another crucial ingredient here is lemon juice – since you are not using eggs, lemon juice is essential to get the baking soda working. Remember that baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment you did in elementary school? Yes, the principle here is the same – you need some acid to give baking soda a bit of a nudge and release all that gas (carbon-dioxide) that will make your waffles puff up. I you don’t have lemons handy, a bit of apple cider vinegar or plain vinegar will also do the trick.
One tricky step here is adding the right amount of liquid. The amount will vary depending how you measure your flour and what type of four you use. Not all gluten-free flours are the same – the ingredients vary and how those ingredients mix with liquids vary. And gluten-free flours will behave differently from plain all-purpose wheat flour – so, I’m afraid, this is not one-size-fits-all type of recipe and you will need to pay attention!
After you’ve mixed (or whisked) the first cup of liquid in (milk or water), make sure all the liquid is incorporated well before adding more. And, add the rest in 1/4 cup increments, making sure all is incorporated before adding more. You want the waffle batter to be pourable but dense – so just slightly thicker than a pancake batter, a a shade thiner than cake batter. If you have not given up by now – and I hope you haven’t – once you’ve mixed the batter to the right consistency let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using.
These waffles freeze well, and can be reheated in the microwave, or a toaster oven. My favorite thick here is to get them defrosted in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and then transfer to the toaster oven to crisp up!
Happy breakfast time!!!
Basic Vegan Waffles, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Basic Vegan Waffles (with gluten-free and nut-free options)
Serves 4 (2-3 waffles depending on the size of your waffle iron)
What you’ll need:
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, I like King Arthur Flour (or all-purpose white flour)
¼ cup raw sugar (vegan)
¼ cup vegetable (or canola) oil
1 tablespoon peanut butter powder (skip if concerned about allergies)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or dial down the amount if you prefer less vanilla)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or oat milk, soy milk, or water for nut-free version), divided
Cooking spray or some extra vegetable oil for brushing the waffle iron
What you’ll do:
Place all the ingredients except milk into a large mixing bowl, in the order they were mentioned in. Mix well.
Add 1 ½ cup of milk and mix, check for consistency than add ¼ cup of milk more, mix, check the consistency and add more milk if needed. The best waffle batter should pour out without resistance, but still be dense. Let the batter stand while you prepare the waffle iron.
Heat the waffle iron, spray with the cooking spray if needed (my waffle iron is old and sticky so cooking spray helps a lot), then pour ¾ of a cup of the batter in (please note that this amount will depend on the size of the waffle iron you are using). The waffles should be done in 2-3 minutes – my waffle iron comes with a handy light that turns green when a waffle is done!
Serve your waffles hot with butter, maple syrup, chopped nuts, strawberries, blueberries, and/or whipped cream, or if you are looking for something new: chopped pineapple and coconut for a piña colada waffles!
“Where do you get your protein from?” is probably the most detested question that those enjoying plant-based (vegan) diet get asked all the time. Of course, we know that this is an easy question to answer because plants are full of protein.
But just in case you feel that you need an extra protein boost, especially when it comes to breakfast, I have a perfect solution for you. How about some protein packed English muffins? Actually, these are not oven-baked; rather they are done within a few minutes using a microwave.
Perhaps you’ve seen recipes for mug cakes? Or you may have seen new “mug cake” product lines in your local supermarket? The idea is that you whip up your ingredients in a mug, mix them together and after 3-5 minutes in a microwave you have your single-serve cake or a muffin ready to enjoy.
I use the same basic idea here except that instead of eggs and flour I use pea protein powder, peanut butter powder (which is really peanut protein powder), some flax meal, baking soda, a dash of vinegar (or lemon juice) and water or plant milk of choice. Believe it or not, after 3 minutes in the microwave on high power you get a nice little muffin. I recommend slicing the muffin across horizontally, then toasting it for some extra crunch. Yummy!
So, how does this work? I don’t know for sure but I do have a working theory that the carbon-dioxide released when baking soda meets a splash of vinegar or lemon juice is enough to lift the “dough”, and once up the protein molecules have sufficient strength to support the structure.
The main trick here is not to make the mix too wet. When you mix your ingredients together, you will have something that looks more like a paste than a muffin batter. Don’t worry, this is as it should be. The best dish to microwave the muffin in is a 3-4 inch (8-10 cm) ramekin, and I recommend that you grease it with either a bit of butter or some cooking spray. A little will go a long way to help your muffin slide out.
Lastly: a note about microwaves. They are all different and have moods of their own. I recommend you start on high power, and check how things are doing after about 2 minutes. You should look for a dry looking top and sides that are coming away from the ramekin. At the end, the muffin should slide out of the ramekin without much resistance, usually after you run a butter knife around the edges to release the muffin.
Gluten-free and Vegan Protein-Packed No-Bake English Muffins
What you’ll need:
2 tablespoons pea protein powder
2 tablespoons peanut protein powder
1 tablespoon ground flax meal (golden is preferred)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon almond milk or water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Vegan butter (optional)
What you’ll do:
Place all the ingredients into a small bowl, and mix to combine. I recommend adding a splash of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) last. The batter will be dense and sticky, just FYI.
Pour the batter into a microwave safe ramekin or a mug that’s about 3-4 in (8-10 cm) in diameter and that has been greased with butter or sprayed gently with some cooking spray.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes or so. The top should be dry and look baked, and the sides should be coming of. If all is well, the muffin will slide out of the ramekin without much resistance after you run a knife around the edges. If not, it means that the bottom is still moist, and the mix needs to go back for another 30-60 seconds.
Enjoy the muffin as is, or toast if you prefer things a bit crunchier. You can top the muffin with butter, jam, hummus, avocado, fruit, or anything else you like. The muffin itself is neither sweet nor salty so lends itself to utmost customization!
It’s OK to indulge and be decadent from time to time, and in my book the best way to feel indulgent and decadent is to go for some chocolate. Vegan chocolate is not hard to find. Almost any dark chocolate with high cocoa content is likely to be acceptable, so there are no reasons to stay away from chocolate treats. Having said that, if you are trying to drop a few pounds, the recipe below is not for you and most of chocolate treats is probably off limits.
The amazing thing about my chocolate mousse pie recipe below is that it uses roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted sweet potatoes are my favorite snack, often even breakfast , and definitely one of my favorite ways to reduce the amount of sugar that I use in my recipes. Roasting helps the natural sweetness of the potatoes come through, and what you end up with is super sweet and super soft root vegetable ready for puréeing and use in things like pancakes and even ice cream! If you are looking for instructions on how to roast sweet potatoes, you may want to check my post on Sweet Potato Butter for details.
My Chocolate Mousse Pie is as easy as a pie – really! There is no baking involved and all you really need to do is melt lots of chocolate and not shy away from using some butter to help things along. My favorite brand of vegan butter sticks is Melt – the price may be higher than other butters out there, and especially the margarine which is plant-based but just not that good for you because of all those hydrogenated trans fat acids, but I recommend you use it only on special occasions and in small quantities. This means that the pound (half a kilo) of butter will last you a long time!
Final note is that you should feel to customize the frosting to feature your favorite nut butter, or to include cocoa powder for example. I personally love almond butter and also think that almond butter mousse frosting works really well to bring the pie together, by connecting the crust flavors with the frosting. In this way, every single mouthful has harmonized flavors, from the beginning to the end.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie
What you’ll need:
FOR THE CRUST
4-6 large madjool dates
1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted
1 cup raw almonds (unsalted)
FOR THE FILLING
10 oz silken tofu
2 roasted sweet potatoes
2 cups melted chocolate
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoon unsweetened, plain rice milk (or any other plant-based milk)
FOR THE FROSTING
1 stick vegan butter
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons agave syrup
What you’ll do:
To prepare the crust, melt the butter in a microwave (1-2 minutes in 30 second increments until fully melted), then added it to a food processor with dates and almonds. Pulse for 8-10 times, until everything is finely chopped and combined. When the crust is smooth and sticks together well, transfer it into a springform pan, the pan you would normally use to make cheesecake. Using your fingers, press the crust into the bottom, until firmly packed. Place the pan into a refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow the crust to firm up.
While the crust is firming up add the drained tofu and chopped roasted sweet potatoes into a large food processor and process for 30-45 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and process for another minute. To melt your chocolate, you can use a double boiler method or a microwave method. At the end, add the spices and plant-based milk and processes until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the filling into the springform pan and even out the surface. Sometimes banging the pan on the kitchen counter helps the filling set, and prevents random empty space areas from forming. Leave the chocolate mousse pie in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up. I recommend leaving the pie in the fridge overnight and finishing the frosting the next day.
To mix the frosting, combine the almond butter, butter and agave syrup (or another sweetener like maple syrup) into a bowl and mix until smooth and combined using a hand held mixer. You can also do this using a standing mixer. Apply the frosting any way you prefer. I usually place the frosting into a zip lock bag, and then snip of a corner with scissors to make a hole of a desired size. Holding the top of the bag firmly in my left hand (I am right handed), I then use my right hand to guide the piping bag and create frosting patterns I like. In this case, I went for a flower in the middle, but you can really do anything you like.
After you frosted the pie, pop it back into the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This should be enough time for the frosting to firm, and once that’s done you are ready to pull the pie out. I recommend leaving the pie at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving, and then dig in!
Autumn and winter are both better with some cinnamon. This spice, which is actually a tree bark, fills our homes and kitchens with calm and coziness comes colder weather and can often be found in all the delicious food that surrounds our harvest and winter holidays. For example, cinnamon was the key spice that I used for my Spice Infused Apple Butter, and has made a significant appearance in Pumpkin Truffles, Buttercup Squash Pie, and Pecan Apple Baklava!
But, I don’t want to leave you with an impression that cinnamon is only good for sweets and treats. Actually, this rich spice can add a lot to Sweet Potato Burgers and Meatless Keema Matar, both lovely main dishes with complex flavor structure.
Having said that, these “snickerdoodled” pancakes are probably the recipe with the most cinnamon powder I ever used! If 1/4 cup of cinnamon seems like a lot you could start with less, but for the full snickerdoodle flavor on your breakfast plate I recommend going full blast ahead into the cinnamon bliss.
Because these pancakes are so rich in flavor you really don’t need to fuss too much about condiments and toppings. These are great with a splash of maple or agave syrup, or a dollop of a plant-based vanilla yogurt, or a simple Vanilla Sauce. I hope you give these a try – your kitchen will smell fantastic and your tummy will be happy!
If you prefer regular flour, this recipe can be made following same steps below using 1 cup white wheat flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, omitting corn starch, and going from there. In this case, please go easy with adding water, and start with 1 1/2 cups – that might be enough.
Snickerdoodled Gluten-free Pancakes
What you’ll need:
1 cup fine corn flour
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup corn starch
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup cinnamon powder
1/4 cup sugar (vegan)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
What you’ll do:
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, then add oil, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cup water. Whisk the pancake batter together, making it smooth and lump-free. The batter should be dense yet flowing, and you can add up to an additional 1/2 cup of water if needed. Please do add this last bit of liquid gradually to avoid adding too much. The mixing can be done in a blender, in which case you will need to add liquid ingredients first (1 1/2 cup water + oil + lemon juice) and then dry ingredients. Mix everything well before deciding whether any additional water is needed.
Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes.
Heat a non-stick pan (or a non-stick griddle) until very hot. I usually crank the heat on my burner to the maximum for 1-2 minutes than lower down to medium-high before pouring in the batter. Please note that if you are using a cooking surface that is far from non-stick you will need to brush on some oil to prevent the pancakes from sticking.
Ladle 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Let them cook on one side until bubbles stop to form (2-4 minutes), then flip the pancake over and cook on the second side for an additional 2 minutes.
Serve hot with maple syrup or a simple Vanilla Sauce.
When life gives you barley, you should probably make some burgers! This is especially true when life simultaneously gives you some mushrooms so that your burley burgers can take full inspiration from that old-time favorite, the Mushroom and Barley Soup. The soup is a traditional menu item in delis and other lunch places, and it work because it combines robustness and heartiness of barley with plenty of umami savoriness that comes from mushrooms.
These burgers are built on the same principles. Cooked barley is mixed with plenty of ground mushrooms, and a handful of flavoring agents to make these gently spicy and smokey baked burgers. The patties are sturdy enough to hold up to the outdoor grilling, so you don’t need to limit yourself to an oven.
The key flavor agents in this case are sliced black olives and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You need to be careful with the chipotle peppers because they are hot! I usually use either only the sauce or just one pepper as more than that can make a dish, including these burgers, quite uncomfortable. The adobo sauce itself is an excellent source of smokey flavor, so if your taste buds are sensitive you can skip the pepper, or replace the adobo sauce with some smoked paprika.
Mushroom and Barley Burgers
What you’ll need:
2 cups barley
4 cups water
1 cup black olives, sliced
10 oz mushrooms
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 7 oz. (200 g) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup flat leaf parsley, fresh
What you’ll do:
Cook 2 cups of barley in 4 cups of water. I recommend using a pressure cooker (30 min bean cycle on the electric pressure cooker I have gave great results), or cook on the stove top using the instructions on the bag. Let cooked barley cool before using further.
Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C), or prepare your outdoor grill as you normally do. For the outdoor grilling I recommend getting the grill grates hot, burning off any bits that may have been stuck on them, then scrubbing them, and oiling them before use.
Place the olives and the rest of the ingredients all the way to the cooking spray, into a food processor and process until finely chopped, then add into the cooked barley. Mix well, and using your hands form the patties.
If you are using an oven, place the patties onto a baking sheet lined with some parchment paper. Spray them with cooking spray, then flip over and spray again. Bake on one side for 10-15 minutes then flip them over and bake for 10 min more. For outdoor grilling, 8-10 minutes per side should be enough to get the perfect grill marks and develop that lovely grilled flavor.
Serve the burgers with all your favorite trimmings. They are hearty and just slightly spicy, and pair well with neutral flavors like avocado, lettuce and tomato.
Let me make one thing clear – if you are looking for a veggie burger recipe that looks and tastes like meat, you really should look elsewhere since this ain’t it! But, if you are looking for a different type of burger, that is unusual yet appealing, and that is amazingly nutritious then you have come to the right place.
This is my Sweet Potato Burger which is made of roasted sweet potatoes, oats, flax meal “egg”, and a dash of very spicy adobo sauce. The patties are held together by the joined action of oats and the flax meal egg, and do just fine on the outdoor grill. The flavor is nicely sweet, perfect for combining with some mustard, pickles and lettuce. In my view, tomatoes, mayo and cheese do not work well on this burger, but caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, or sliced avocado would add to it. Feel free to experiment and see how it goes!
Sweet Potato Burgers
What you’ll need:
2 cups roasted sweet potatoes, mashed
1 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons flax meal
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon maple flavor
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
What you’ll do:
Roast sweet potatoes as you would normally. I usually roast them at 425 F (220 C) without peeling for 45 minutes or so, then let them cool completely before handling. My usual batch is about 8 large potatoes and I store them roasted in the refrigerator and use them through the week.
Start soaking flax meal in hot water 15-20 minutes prior to use. You can find detailed instructions on making the flax egg here.
Peel two potatoes and mash them with a fork or a potatoe masher. This should yield 2 cups of sweet potatoes. Measure it out and adjust by adding and removing the mashed sweet potato. The final amount does not need to be absolutely precise but do keep it close to the recipe.
Place the mashed sweet potatoe into a large mixing bowl, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, and use the immersion (stick) blender to get the consistency nice and smooth, and the oats broken up. If you don’t have the stick blender you can always use your food processor. Let the mix stand for 20 minutes or so to allow the oats to begin soaking up the excess moisture and swell.
Form the burger patties, and place them on a wax paper lined platter. Place the patties in a refrigerator for up to an hour to firm up.
Prepare and preheat your outdoor or indoor grill, or your grill pan in a usual way. I recommend oiling the grill grates well and grilling the burgers at medium heat. You can also use a grill pan or a regular pan – the burger will come out as delicious albeit without the lovely, charred grill marks. Sweet Potato Burgers need about 4-5 minutes per side, and they are ready to enjoy!
Crêpes are great – and if you ever hear anyone say otherwise you can safely assume that they don’t know what they are talking about or perhaps did not have an opportunity to try some. Perhaps they don’t know that plant-based, 100% vegan crêpes are easy to make, or perhaps they don’t or can’t consume gluten and are unaware that gluten-free crêpes are within their reach. Or, and this is the final myth that I will dispel, they think that only highly skilled and trained chefs can embark on crêpe making, which is far from reality.
If you own a flat frying pan, and have a whisk that you are willing to use (or a blender!), you can make crêpes. These light, thin, flat pancakes are versatile and can be made into a savory dish, like these Scallion Crêpes, or topped with a range of sweet toppings for a quick and easy breakfast or dessert.
But, there is more to crêpes than that and I recently discovered that you can use them to make multilayered cakes! It usually takes 10-12 crêpes, nice, relatively firm filing, and topping of choice and you’ll have an impressive looking no-bake cake on your hands.
I wanted to make my crêpe cake gluten-free as well, so I followed a crêpe recipe that uses chickpea flour since that was the the type of flour I had on hand (I found the recipe in The Chickpea Flour Cookbook by Camilla Saulsbury and I recommend you check this cookbook out because it does offer lots of gluten-free recipes with helpful comments on how to make each recipe vegan!). The recipe below is a slight modification from the original as I added more almond milk and some vanilla extract, and you should feel free to customize the flavors further or replace some of the flour with cocoa powder if you want your cake to be all chocolate all the way. Additionally, if you prefer to omit oil you can do that as well – here is another excellent and very simple recipe.
The cake is easy to assemble and looks fantastic! If you are not sure you like chickpea flour you can use any gluten-free pancake mix and make a batter that is less dense than your standard pancakes. One way to test whether your batter is the way it’s supposed to be is to pour 1/2 cup in the middle of the pan and then swirl it around until the entire bottom is well covered. If your batter can do this you are all set, if not perhaps you need to add just a bit more water. Go slowly and test frequently, because you don’t want to end up with unusable slurry either.
If you would like to add some sweetness to the crêpes, feel free to add a bit of maple syrup, agave nectar, or other sweetener you like. The chocolate filling and the ganache are quite sweet so you may not need this extra sugar.
Making the chocolate filling is also simple – if you ever made pudding you will know what to do. The filling requires some simmering almond milk, starch and agar, as well we some dark cocoa and maple syrup, and needs to cook over low heat until dense. What kicks the filling up a notch is orange zest which adds citrus tones to the entire cake.
You will need to let your crêpes cool then put the cake together by layering a crêpe then covering it with a tablespoon or two of the chocolate filling, then placing another crêpe on top, the the filling and so on and so forth until all the filling is used up.
The last touch is chocolate ganache which you can make in the microwave, and pour all over the cake to completely cover the layers. You can decorate the cake with freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, toasted almonds, or some whip cream. Use your imagination to make it unique and incredible!
Gluten-free chocolate crêpe cake, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
1 cup almond milk, unsweetened, preferably vanilla flavor
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (add more if using plain almond milk)
Zest of one orange
FOR DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
2 cups dark semi-sweet chocolate chips (vegan, like Enjoy Life)
4 tablespoons vegan cream or half’n’half (I used ripple; you can also use any plant-based milk as well, but decrease the amount to 2-3 tablespoons)
4-5 large strawberries, sliced – for decoration (optional)
What you’ll do:
Prepare egg replacer according to instructions. If using flax meal based egg replacer or similar the preparations may require soaking the flax meal in hot water for 5-10 minutes usually by mixing the dry ingredients with water in 1:2 ration (in this case 6 tablespoons egg replacer and 12 tablespoons water).
Mix all the crêpe ingredients (except oil for the pan) using a blender, a mixer or a whisk. The batter should be smooth and clump free.
Place a large frying pan over high heat. Use a brush to brush the oil across the hot surface of the frying pan, then pour in 1/3-1/2 cup of batter and twirl the pan around until all the bottom if covered with a uniform layer of the batter.
Leave the pan over medium-high heat until the surface is completely dry, then flip the crêpe over and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes on the other side. Continue until all the batter is used up, and leave the crêpes to cool.
For the filling start from cold ingredients and bring the almond milk to a gentle boil. Mix tapioca starch and agar powder into the hot milk and continue cooking over low hear until the mix firms up. Leave the mix to cool, which make take some time. You could make both the crêpes and the filling a day ahead and assemble the cake couple of hours before serving.
To assemble this cake, please use a large plate or a cake stand and start by placing a crêpe on the bottom, then the filling (1-2 tablespoons), then another crêpe and more cake filling until no filling is left!
To prepare a ganache, place the chocolate chips and milk, cream or half’n’ half into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Mix and microwave again, check and repeat until chocolate is about 60% melted. Take the bowl out and start mixing to help finish the melting process.
Pour the melted chocolate ganache over the top and spread as evenly as possible over the top and around the sides. Decorate with fresh strawberries, set aside for 2-3 hours then dive in!
Just how free and beautiful are these brownies? On the “free” side they are vegan, so dairy-free and egg-free, they are also gluten-free and nut-free, plus they are no-added sugar! So, what on Earth do they have? They have plenty of chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs, which gives them their chocolate richness.
They are also full of ingredients that you will not find in your regular brownies, like a banana I use here for sweetness and a egg replacement, and oats and chickpeas, which I use as the key flour-like components. Chickpeas and the chickpea water – the miraculous aquafaba – are essential here. They add the protein needed to help give the brownies a bit of structure and texture. They combine well with oats so that the result is not chocolate oatmeal but a real double chocolate brownie with a bite and a chew.
For this and other baking projects, like my meatloaf and my marshmallow topping, I suggest you try making your own chickpeas. They do need some work – you soak them overnight in lots of water, then you rinse them and boil them in double the amount of water to get soft chickpeas and very useful aquafaba. I cook them in an electric pressure cooker on the “beans” setting. To help aquafaba along, I recommend letting the liquid that chickpeas were cooked in sit in the refrigerator for a day or so before using.
Other than cooking the chickpeas that’s a bit elaborate, everything else is smooth sailing. You will need a large food processor, pile everything in, and pulse to mix and combine. The baking is a standard deal, using a 350 F (175 C) oven and taking somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. Let your brownies rest for at least 15 minutes before serving, then cut and plate. They’d be great with some vanilla nicecream, if you’d like to make them fancy. They are also great as is or with some orange zest on top.
Flourless Double Chocolate Brownies with Chickpeas and Oats
What you’ll need:
2 cups oats, gluten-free
2 cups chickpeas, cooked
3/4 cup aquafaba
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks, vegan
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
What you’ll do:
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
Place cooked chickpeas, oats, roughly chopped banana, and all the rest of the ingredients except chocolate chips and cocoa nibs into a food processor, and process until you form a dough.
Add the cocoa nibs and chocolate chips and mix everything together.
Pour the mix into a square, 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking dish and put your brownies to bake for 20 minutes.
Take the brownies out and let them rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy with some vegan ice cream or as is!