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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cauliflower Scramble (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Option)

Oh, breakfast, we meet again. I hope we always do. Because I love you. And you make me smile when I'm blue. Tell me if you disagree, but I think I missed my calling. Vegan poet? Maybe not in this lifetime, but I am a vegan who has an affinity for breakfast foods, as mentioned numerous times on this blog. 

I am also a vegan who does not fancy tofu in the slightest. I have tried it many times hoping each time I'd magically fall in love with it, but that has yet to happen. Its texture very much resembles jello and frankly, I cannot get past it. So, when I came across this genius recipe on a Vegan Yack Attack blog post, which featured a cauliflower scramble created by Veggie Fixation, my mind was blown. Cauliflower is the most versatile vegetable I have come across over the past year. It holds its own in creamy alfredo sauces, pizza crusts, mac & cheese, and now a scramble, which rivals traditional egg scrambles in a mighty impressive way.

I've changed up the original recipe a bit and added my own spin to it. If you're a savory food-loving person, I am confident that you will be adding this to your regular rotation of meals. The perfectly balanced spices and seasonings mixed with softened cauliflower bits will send you over the moon! I, unfortunately, did not have any avocados on hand the day I made this, but avocado is a must to add atop this masterpiece. Plus, it'll provide you with some protein and healthy fats and it'll bulk up the meal as well. 

You might also notice an item in the photograph above that looks like bacon. That is something we call tempeh bacon, my friends. And it is one of my new favorite vegan discoveries. Seriously, the vegan lifestyle is one of surprise and delight in every single way. Finding new and unexpected ways to live a healthy and compassionate life brings me joy like no other, and using plant-based foods to come up with insanely delectable meals plays a huge part in that. People have come up with the most creative animal-free dishes over the years and it just baffles me how innovative these lovely humans are!

Today's ingredient spotlight goes to...

Nutritional Yeast - I've been looking for any excuse to discuss nutritional yeast in all of its glory, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so seeing that this recipe calls for a substantial amount. As a vegan, it's especially important to become acquainted with nutritional yeast because it is highly nutritious and has a cheesy, nutty flavor that spruces up nearly any savory meal. It is one of those foods that is on my "can't-live-without" list. You may also hear it referred to as "nooch" because someone decided that the name "nutritional yeast" wasn't particularly appealing.

Nutritional yeast is not the same as baker's yeast, which is an active yeast and is used for leavening when baking bread and other baked goods. Instead, nutritional yeast is grown on cane and beet molasses and is then fermented, dried and heated in order to deactivate it, therefore it is an inactive yeast. It will not disturb the bacteria in the gut nor contribute to candida like baker's and brewer's yeast does. Nutritional yeast is packed with vitamin B12, protein (2 Tbs = 9g protein), folic acid, and fiber and is also gluten-free. 

This next part is really important for vegans and vegetarians to understand. Vitamin B12 is a bacteria that is produced in the digestive system of herbivorous mammals, such as cattle and sheep, and is then absorbed. This vitamin is vital for cell formation, cell division, mental health, proper digestion and nutrient absorption, and healthy immune & nervous system function. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to irreversible nerve damage, anemia, female fertility problems, heart disease and cancer, and neurological conditions. The kicker is that vitamin B12 is not found in significant amounts in plants, so it must be supplemented or consumed daily through fortified foods. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 2.4 micrograms. You can find the vitamin B12 supplement that I take here. Read more about vitamin B12 here.

I buy this Red Star brand of nutritional yeast on Amazon, which contains vitamin B12. I also purchase nutritional yeast in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods; my location has the Red Star Nutritional Yeast. Not all brands fortify their products with B12 and some may even contain animal byproducts, so look at the label carefully. Nutritional yeast is most often used in vegan cheese sauces, sprinkled on popcorn, in faux parmesan cheese, pasta sauces, scrambles, and dressings.

Cauliflower Scramble
YIELD: 2-3 servings
Adapted recipe from Veggie Fixation

• 1 small head cauliflower
• 2/3 cup red onion, diced (about 1/2 a red onion)
• 1/2 Tbs unrefined coconut oil
• 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
• 1 Tbs Bragg's liquid aminos (use Coconut Secret's coconut aminos if avoiding soy)
• 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tsp dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp oregano
• 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional but recommended)
• 1/4 tsp turmeric
• 1/4 tsp cumin
• A few dashes of black pepper
• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
• Optional (but highly recommended) toppings: cilantro & avocado

1. Chop off the cauliflower stem then cut into florets. Then, cut the florets into smaller, 1/4-inch size pieces.
2. In a large skillet or sauté-pan (I used a 3-quart pan), turn heat to medium and add coconut oil. Once heated, add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add in the bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes more.
3. Add the cauliflower to the skillet/pan in a single layer and cook on that side for 7 minutes, or until it begins to turn golden brown. Do not flip it.
4. Add in spices and seasonings, except for the nutritional yeast, and mix well. Cook for another 7-8 minutes, until soft, or until your desired texture is reached. Add a small splash of water to avoid burning the pan or slightly turn down the heat, if necessary. Lastly, add in the nutritional yeast and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. I tend to add more sea salt.
5. Serve alone, alongside tempeh bacon or sweet potato hash, stuffed in a burrito, or in between bread for a breakfast sandwich.

"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites, or women created for men." Alice Walker

Friday, July 18, 2014

Healthy Share with Claire Ep. 2: Hemp Seeds, Vegan Ice Cream & Ed Sheeran!

I have a new series on my YouTube channel called Healthy Share with Claire where I share my favorite vegan and non-toxic products with you once every 2 weeks. It'll include anything and everything from cookware to food to beauty products to home products to music, just anything I'm constantly using and enjoying!

Check out episode #2! :-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Nice Cream Sandwiches (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Grain-Free)

You know how they say after a break-up, when time has gone by and you're far along in the healing process, that you eventually gain clarity as to why that person wasn't right for you? Well, I have been able to relate to that for the past few weeks... except replace that with food. I didn't post a recipe last week because all of my ideas fell through. It's true, there are usually more setbacks than successes in my kitchen, especially being a self-taught home-cook. I was so aggravated and down at the time that nothing worked out and that I'd have nothing to post for y'all and that all of those ingredients (and money) had gone down the drain... wasted. I'd get attached, really wanting it to work out because the idea was so great. Then, to make matters worse, leftover was a mountain of dishes piled up waiting to be cleaned after the setback (not calling it a failure because nothing ever is if you learn from it) and it was just like another dagger, a "walk of shame", if you will. But after the dust settles and some time goes by, you pick yourself back up with the strength you gained from falling down and you create something else, maybe this time a little more cautiously; then, you realize why those others didn't work out... because there was something better waiting in the wings.

In truth, I was stuck. I had no idea what to make next. I was scared of wasting more $ingredients$ and time and being let down again (man, this really does correlate with "failed" relationships!). But I kept pushing on because I knew how it felt to find a winner and how worth it it was to get there. So, I browsed Pinterest for inspiration and came across these homemade ice cream sandwiches that I knew I could make gluten-free vegan style, so I set off to try again even though I knew there was a chance it may not work out, but was still open to the possibility.

Sometimes we can't control what happens in our lives but we can control how we feel about what happens and how we want to respond to it thereafter. We can decide to move forward, stay stuck or go backwards in any given moment. Trying to be perfect and successful every single time does not build character or resilience; oftentimes it makes a person more rigid. After overcoming a fair share obstacles, you begin to relax and just enjoy the ride and trust that no matter what happens, you can always pick yourself back up and continue to create.

So, with that said, I present to you, these divine chocolate chip cookie nice cream sandwiches. The crispy but soft-in-the-center, chocolaty cookie married with the soft, creamy vegan ice cream will steal your heart and your taste buds! If you're looking to impress your family and friends with a healthier vegan & gluten-free dessert, I can assure you they won't be able to tell the difference between these and the less-than-healthy traditional kind. Actually, I'd bet they'd think they taste better. I know they'd feel better afterwards, too.

One more thing... I launched an Amazon store where you can shop all of my essential kitchen tools & appliances, must-have food products, fitness products, beauty/bath products, vitamins & supplements, cookbooks and other life-changing books. You can find my store at the top of my blog; just click "Shop My Store." :-)

Above: Cookie dough.

Left: Cookie dough before baking. Right: Cookies after baking.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Nice Cream Sandwiches
YIELD: 12 cookies; 6 nice cream sandwiches
Inspired by Pure Ella's recipe
Cookies adapted from Elana's Pantry's recipe

• 2 cups almond flour*
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp fine sea salt*
• 1 flax egg (1 Tbs ground flaxseed + 3 Tbs warm water)
• 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted*
• 1/4 cup raw coconut nectar or pure maple syrup*
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or a dark chocolate bar cut into small chunks (I used the Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips because it was all I had but I'd recommend using this dark chocolate bar from Whole Foods because it doesn't have evaporated cane juice in it)
• Vegan ice cream (I used Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss Pineapple Coconut from Whole Foods - not crazy about the agave syrup but it's just an occasional treat).

* denotes products that you can find on my Amazon store, which you can access at the top of my blog; just click "Shop My Store."

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat* or grease with coconut oil.
2. Mix the flax egg ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda, sea salt).
4. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (coconut nectar, coconut oil, vanilla extract).
5. Add the wet ingredients, including the flax egg, to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Then, fold in the chocolate chips. I use my hands to incorporate the chocolate chips into the dough.
6. Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop 2 tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet to make 1 cookie. Form into a ball then push down with your fingers.
7. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
8. Scoop your choice of vegan ice cream onto a cooled cookie then put another cookie on top. Gently (because the cookies will be soft) push the sandwich together and repeat for the next 5. Place them in a container or on a plate then put in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to firm up. 
*Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.

...and yes, I had one for breakfast this morning. ;-)

"A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor." English Proverb

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Healthy Share with Claire Video: Chocolate, Coconut Milk & Josie Maran Argan Oil!

Hi friends! 

I'm starting a new series on my YouTube channel called Healthy Share with Claire where I share my favorite vegan and non-toxic products with you once every 2 weeks. It'll include anything and everything from cookware to food to beauty products to home products, just anything I'm constantly using and enjoying! Look out for a new video every other Friday.

Check out the video below and be sure to subscribe to my channel! I hope you all love my new series & find it helpful. ♡

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