As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, baked oatmeal was my breakfast mainstay for the first four weeks of my current rotation. I have a few weekdays with long commutes, which means that a pre-cooked,
ready-to-eat breakfast was a lifesaver. Plus, it was often freezing in NYC, and something warm and sweet hit the spot.
I foresee plenty of baked oatmeals (or baked oatmeal cups) in my future before the winter is over, but I’m officially getting tired of the repetition. And I’m missing savory breakfast, which is, as most of you know, one of my favorite things.
A new tofu scramble to the rescue. It’s not actually new, because I was making it a lot this past fall. But it’s been a hot minute since I whipped up a new batch. There are countless tofu scramble recipes that I love and rely upon, but this one has moved pretty quickly to the top of the list. It’s super fast, super easy, and, because it features black beans and kale as well as tofu, it’s especially high in protein (around 20 grams per serving).
A protein-rich breakfast, as I’m continually telling (or hearing my preceptors tell) patients these days, can help to keep one fuller longer. Not something I have to give too much thought to when I’m working from home and can easily reach for a snack whenever I get nibbly. But it’s a serious consideration for me this year, with a schedule that includes long commutes, packed mornings of patient appointments, and not always being able to eat when I planned on eating.
The other special feature of the scramble, aside from the beans, are the scallions. They replace onions, which I usually add to my scrambles, and they’re perfect for my busy weekends of batch cooking because they cook through faster than onions do.
You’ll see that I also add a bit of tahini to the scramble; it sounds a little odd, but it’s a trick I learned from this scramble recipe years ago. It makes the scramble ever-so-slightly creamy (imagine soft scrambled eggs, vs. drier ones). And the healthful fat makes the scramble extra satiating, too. Here’s the recipe.
|Tofu Scallion Black Bean Scramble||
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Serves: 4 servings
- 2 teaspoons neutral flavored vegetable oil (such as grapeseed or
- refined avocado)*
- 1 small bunch (about 6-8) scallions/green onions, tops and white parts, chopped
- 1 15-ounce block extra firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon tahini (or cashew butter)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt (more as needed)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1½ cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups raw kale (or another leafy green of choice), chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large, roomy skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the white parts of the scallions are tender.
- Whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, turmeric, and salt. Crumble the tofu into the skillet, breaking it into bite-sized pieces or smaller (this can be up to you: some folks like a chunkier scramble, others don’t—I’m in the latter camp!). Add the tahini mixture to the skillet, followed by the nutritional yeast, and mix well to incorporate. The tofu will turn a nice, golden color.
- Fold the black beans and kale into the scramble. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, or until the kale is tender. Season the scramble to taste with extra salt and freshly ground pepper as needed. Enjoy!
This scramble is pretty simple, in so far as seasoning goes, but feel free to add garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, or other spices to your liking. The black beans can be exchanged for chickpeas, pinto beans,
kidney beans, or another legume, and if you’re running short on leafy greens, another chopped green vegetable will work well. I often use whatever frozen, chopped vegetables I’ve got at home in a breakfast
Sure, baked oatmeal is a fabulous make-ahead breakfast, but so is this: I usually make it on Sunday and enjoy it for the first three weekdays of a new work week. To serve, you can pair it with whole grain toast, an English muffin, corn tortillas, a whole grain, sweet potatoes or regular potatoes—plenty of serving options. If you’ve got some extra veggies to add, even better.
Wishing you a new week full of nourished mornings. I’ve got two weeks left at my current rotation; change is really the only constant this year! Thank goodness for grounding breakfasts.
Easy Vegan Strawberry French Toast Casserole
This vegan berry French toast casserole is a perfect illustration of the timeless cooking rule that simpler is better.
I learn this again and again and again in my life as a home cook. Sure, there are those moments when an extra step or two, a longer process, a specialty ingredient, or an added seasoning really do make a meal measurably better. But those instances are fewer and farther between than the times when simple combinations of everyday food, thoughtfully put together, add up to something that’s just right. And all the better for being straightforward.
There are many ways to replace egg in vegan baking, which means roughly an equal number of ways to make vegan French toast. When I first tested this recipe, last weekend, I used a mixture of cornstarch and chickpea flour that’s based on what I used for the vegan French toast in Power Plates.
Funnily enough, what worked for that recipe—which, in fairness, isn’t a casserole—didn’t really work this time. My casserole ended up gummy, with that slightly gelatinous texture that can happen with cornstarch. So then I tried a version with arrowroot and with nutritional yeast, which is sometimes used in vegan French toast for eggy taste. It’s a good idea, and it works in tofu scramble, but it gave my casserole too much savory flavor, even with a small amount.
Finally, I decided to use a mixture that felt intuitive to me, but almost suspiciously simple: non-dairy milk, flax egg for binding, cashew butter for richness. And, lo and behold, it worked beautifully.
So beautifully, in fact, that this is now going to be one of my go-to, make-ahead breakfasts. Baked oatmeal is lovely, and I’m still making plenty of that (now with summery fruits!), but sometimes a girl craves change.
In spite of the DI craziness, I’ve still been baking bread every weekend, and I often have a half loaf of sourdough or country bread lying around. This is a perfect way to use it up once it’s gotten a bit dry, to employ the whole loaf over the course of a week rather than freezing half, and to mix up my morning meals.
As far as type of bread goes, I’d recommend a Pullman white, a French country style loaf, a peasant bread (like Alexandra’s loaves), or a round sourdough boule. A white whole wheat or wheat boule will work, too, but I think the best texture for this recipe is a bread that’s more white than wheat, or a more a delicate wheat bread. Save the super seedy, dense, and sprouted loaves for toast 🙂 If you’ve got a gluten free bread that’s similar to sourdough that you love, by all means, use it.
Bread aside, this recipe can be modified to fit what you have. I recommend almond or cashew butter, but if you have sunflower seed or pumpkin seed butter, those would both work. Or feel free to throw a heaping 1//3 cup cashews into the blender instead. Any non-dairy milk is fine, and I’ve tested the recipe with both maple syrup and whole, pitted medjool dates. They both work, though I preferred the version with dates for that magical, caramel-like flavor.
And finally, you can use blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries in place of strawberries, if that’s what’s local or your preference. I’ll likely try the casserole with both peaches and apples at some point.
Without further ado, the recipe.
Easy Vegan Strawberry French Toast Casserole
Servings: 6 servings
- 1 small (14-16 ounces) boule French style country bread, pullman white, sourdough, or vegan challah, cut into large cubes (or half of a 2-lb loaf)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries, or another berry/fruit of choice
- 2 1/4 cups non-dairy milk of choice
- 1/4 cup cashew or almond butter (substitute another nut/seed butter or a heaping 1/3 cups raw cashews if you have a powerful blender)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or 6 pitted, medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place your cubed bread and chopped strawberries into the baking dish.
Blend the non-dairy milk, cashew butter, salt, cinnamon, syrup or dates, and flax meal in a blender till smooth. Pour the this mixture over the bread and berries. Allow the bread to soak up the liquid for at least 30 minutes. You can also prep the casserole the night before breakfast, cover it, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Bake the casserole for 45-55 minutes, or until the top is golden and the bread cubes are getting a little brown and crispy at the edges. (Check the casserole at 35 minutes, and if it’s browning too quickly, you can cover it with foil and continue baking for 15 more minutes or so.) Allow the casserole to cool for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.
The casserole can be frozen for up to 6 weeks. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
A little drizzle of maple syrup doesn’t hurt, if you’re hankering for something especially sweet.
And that’s the lovely thing about this breakfast. Just like the lasagna and enchilada casserole that I made recently, it feels special, like a treat. It’s not overtly eggy, but it has a creaminess that feels custardy for sure. It turns my portable, on-the-go, rushed weekday breakfasts into a Sunday-brunch-worthy special occasion. The sweetness here goes beyond maple syrup or dates; it’s been a sweet and comforting surprise to find the leftovers in my fridge every morning during an otherwise rocky week or two. I hope you’ll feel the same way about the dish, whether things are rocky or smooth sailing.
Speaking of that, thank you for kind responses to this rough patch. They mean so much. I’ll see you back here soon.
Vegan Chick’n Enchilada Breakfast Casserole
A few weeks ago, in sharing a lasagna recipe, I mentioned that big, casserole-like dishes have been a meal prep time-saver for me lately. They’re more involved than other recipes, but once they’ve been prepared, they give me at least 4-6 extra portions of food. And they’re a nice way to break up my routine of soups and stews and bowls, which—though trusty allies throughout my whole internship year—are getting a little repetitive at this point.
I often get requests for make-ahead breakfasts in general, and savory make-ahead breakfasts in particular. I can relate well to the demand for this kind of recipe, since I’m always on the hunt for new ideas myself. I’m a big breakfast eater, and my early hours this year have made it difficult to eat breakfasts that are as satisfying as what I’m used to making at home, but also easy to transport to work.
This breakfast enchilada casserole doesn’t have to be eaten for breakfast, of course; it’s great for dinner, too, and I’ve enjoyed it at both mealtimes. But I’m a big believer in getting a nice bolus of protein at breakfast (bolus! Always a funny-sounding word when I put it into writing), and the soy curls in the recipe make that an easy task here.
Soy curls are one of my favorite plant-based proteins. They’re inexpensive, a whole food (whole, non-GMO soy beans are the only ingredient), versatile, and they make a vegan “chick’n” that’s about as good as any store-bought vegan meat you can find, only cheaper. They’re also low in fat and packed with protein, so perfect when a protein-rich morning meal is the goal.
It was my original plan to use layers of shredded vegan cheese in the recipe—pepperjack or cheddar—but I ended up forgetting to pick up any the week I made the casserole. I had plenty of cashew cream in my freezer, as I usually do, so I decided to use layers of homemade cashew cream instead.
It worked out just fine. The cashew cream definitely tastes less “cheesy” than a store-bought vegan cheese would, but it sort of melts into the vegan chick’n and greens while the casserole bakes, giving the whole dish a creamy texture. It’s an easy option if you make cashew cream regularly and have some at the ready, or if you’ve got a powerful blender at home.
If you’d prefer to use a vegan cheese, that’s fine, too, and you can just sprinkle some onto each layer instead of drizzling the cream. (Lately my favorite is the Violife brand.)
Aside from that, don’t let the name of “casserole” fool you. This couldn’t be easier to put together. If you like to make your own enchilada sauce and want to use it, go for it; I used the store-bought stuff for convenience, and the whole dish was assembled in about 20-25 minutes, including the time it took to make the soy curls. It’d be even quicker if you prepared them in advance. Here’s how to do it!
Vegan Chick’n Enchilada Breakfast Casserole
Servings: 6 servings
- 1 8-ounce bag Butler foods soy curls (purchase online or through Amazon)
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 vegan bouillon cube (chicken flavored works best, but herb/vegetable is also fine)
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 5 ounces baby spinach (substitute chopped leafy greens of choice, or frozen and chopped leafy greens of choice)
- 12-15 6-inch corn or flour tortillas (12 fit my casserole dish perfectly; you may wish to have a few extra on hand)
- 2 15-ounce cans or jars of red enchilada sauce (substitute 3 heaping cups of homemade enchilada sauce)
- 1 heaping cup cashew cream
- chopped fresh avocado and cilantro leaves/stems, for topping
First, prepare the chick’n style soy curls. Place the bouillon in a large, heatproof bowl. Bring the water to a boil. Pour it over the bouillon cube, then add the tamari, smoked paprika, and onion powder. Stir everything well, then add the soy curls. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain the hydrated soy curls in a colander, pressing them gently to help remove as much moisture as you can. You can prepare these in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
Preheat your oven to 375F and lightly oil the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Pour one can (1 1/2 cups) of enchilada sauce into a large, deep skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Add the prepared chick’n style soy curls and the baby spinach. Heat and stir until the spinach has wilted.
Pour 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce (from your remaining can) onto the bottom of the casserole dish and spread it around into a thin layer. Layer 4 tortillas over it (for my dish, I could layer three in a row and then cut an additional fourth in half and used it to cover space at the sides). Layer 1/2 of the chick’n/spinach mixture over the tortillas. Top with 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and drizzle with 1/2 cup cashew cream. Cover this layer with another 4 tortillas, the remaining chick’n/spinach mixture, another 1/2 cup sauce, and 1/2 cup cashew cream. Top with 4 more tortillas, then pour about 3/4 cup sauce on top of these, spreading the sauce evenly to cover the casserole. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is darkening and the sauce is bubbling.
When the casserole has cooled for about 10 minutes, you can top it with chopped avocado and fresh chopped cilantro. Cut into 6 pieces and serve!
This recipe was inspired by a non-vegan version from my friend Ali. If you check out her post, you’ll get instructions on making homemade enchilada sauce, if you’d like to. I’d put this recipe into the “semi-homemade” category as it is, but preparing sauce from scratch will definitely give it a more wholly homemade feel.
Greens, protein, some starch from the tortillas: this is a breakfast formula that satisfies me and keeps me going happily till my morning snack. I haven’t always had breakfasts like this as an internship student; I’ve had more squares of baked oatmeal than I can count, sometimes a double dose of the whole meal muffins from Power Plates, sometimes toast if I can eat at home. Lately, it’s been microwaved oatmeal at work. But when I have the option of something savory and hearty and protein-dense, like this, I’ll always take it.
Enjoy, friends, and see you later this week.
Simple Ginger Cinnamon Baked Apples
It is still very much winter here in New York, which means that warm and cozy breakfasts are the name of the game. At the moment, cooked fruit is very appealing to me (baked bananas, warm blueberry sauce…you get the idea). These simple, baked gingery apples are my new favorite topping for oatmeal and toast, and they’re versatile enough to serve as a healthful dessert, too.
You can use any type of apples to make this recipe, but I was lucky enough to try Ambrosia apples for the first time. Ambrosias are quickly becoming prized for their sweetness, crispness, and beautiful bi-color exterior. They’ve got a honey-like flavor and aren’t very tart, which makes them especially nice for sweet recipes and treats.
Even though the Ambrosia apples are sweet, crisp and great to eat fresh out of hand, they’re also perfect for this baked apple recipe, which isn’t so different from making baked applesauce. I’d imagine it’s easy to make the recipe more or less complex: you could add a ton of different spices, add a little cornstarch to thicken it up, make it more or less sweet.
I’ve been using a ridiculously simple formula of 1 1/2 lbs peeled and chopped apples (you could leave the skin on if you wanted more fiber from the dish), a tablespoon of coconut sugar, a pinch of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, and two teaspoons of freshly grated ginger root. The ginger is adjustable: more or less would be just fine.
When I first made the apples, I used cornstarch, but I’ve found that the texture is just right without any thickener; I start by baking them with foil, so that they get nice and juicy, and then I bake them uncovered for 10-15 minutes so that they thicken up. In the end, they have a perfect texture: thicker than applesauce, softer and more spoonable than a whole baked apple would be. Here’s the recipe.
Simple Ginger Cinnamon Baked Apples
These simple, ginger cinnamon baked apples are so easy to make and so versatile. They’re perfect on oatmeal or with a scoop of dairy free ice cream for dessert!
Servings: 4 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds Ambrosia apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or cane sugar)
- 2-3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil a medium sized square or rectangular baking dish (mine was 7 x 13 inches; 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 square is fine, too).
In a large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together. Transfer the apples to your baking dish. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Give the apples a stir, then remove the foil. Bake for another 15 or so minutes, or until the apples are tender, golden, and the juices have thickened up a bit.
The apples are just perfect with warm oatmeal; that’s how I’ve been eating them the most often. But they also make for a nice, wholesome dessert, especially if you have a hankering for baked fruit but don’t particularly feel like making pie, crisp, or crumble. I like to serve them with a nice big scoop of vanilla vegan ice cream–yum!
If baked fruit isn’t your thing, or isn’t what you’re craving, the nice thing about the Ambrosia apples is that they naturally take longer to oxidize, so the freshness can be maintained for a while after the apples are cut or sliced. They’re great for fruit salad, or for serving to kids, who can be sensitive to the color of foods. You can learn more about the apples and how to enjoy them here!
I’m happy to have an easy, healthful way to sweeten and jazz up my breakfasts, desserts, and snacks. Speaking of which, a new week of my DI is in full swing, and I’d best get back to it. Till later this week!
This post has been generously sponsored by Ambrosia Apples from BC Tree Fruits, home of the original. The opinions and language are my own and in no way do they reflect BC Tree Fruits. Thanks for your support!
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