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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


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