Vegan Banana Bread

Well hey there. It’s been a hot second.

What’s new? Well, a lot and very little at the same time. To be honest, my weekdays aren’t particularly exciting (at least to an outside observer). I bike to lab in the morning, do ~engineering~ all day, and spend the rest of it cooking with my new mini instant pot (It’s incredible!!), or just hanging out with my boyfriend (who I’m officially living with, and loves his instant pot equally! Oh yeah, I have not one, but two instant pots now).

Right- the boy! That’s new, and not only is living with him pretty great, he brought his car down when he moved and now the whole of New England is at our finger tips. Last weekend we drove down to New Hampshire to check out the beach, and our plan for next weekend is to pick strawberries. Back when I lived in California, we’d go strawberry picking every summer, so I’m pretty excited to resume and maybe even make another strawberry pie (this time plant based for sure).

Luke and I have both been eating predominantly plant based (plus or minus a couple accidents) all year, and our banana has increased dramatically since. I’ve been trying out different banana bread recipes to use up excess bananas, and by now I have a couple to share. Pictured is a really interesting recipe from America’s Test Kitchen: Vegan for Everybody. Instead of using spotted, overripe bananas, the recipe calls for perfectly- if not a touch under ripe bananas, and claims the starch helps give the bread body.

I can see what they mean. This banana bread was lightly sweet, and less dessert-like than regular banana bread. It held up well and made a super tasty almond butter sandwich.

On the other hand, I also enjoy more dessert-like banana breads made with super ripe and caramelized bananas. Since it’s hard to chose which is superior, I’ll post this one now, and post another recipe I like later. My suggestion is to smother this bread with peanut butter and a healthy drizzle of maple syrup, but I bet it would be amazing with ice cream also.

Bonus pic of me walking across state lines into Kittery, Maine. I don’t think I had ever walked across state lines before! New England is pretty great (well, at least when it’s warm out).

Vegan Banana Bread

Adapted from Vegan for Everybody, a book I highly recommend for anyone looking to do more vegan cooking!

  1. In a good processor, pulse the bananas with the oil, almond milk yogurt, lemon juice, and vanilla until the bananas are in pea-sized pieces.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts, if using.
  3. Pour the pulsed wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and fold together just until no flour streaks remain.
  4. Transfer to a greased 8×4 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees until deep golden brown, approximately 1 hour. I recommend doing the toothpick test at 40 minutes, and then in 5 minute increments after that. In the past, I’ve found that banana bread cook times depends heavily on the oven you’re using, and while banana bread is a fairly forgiving recipe, it’s best to err on the side of caution! If the banana bread looks pretty brown at 40 minute but is not fully cooked inside, cover with aluminum foil for the remaining cooking time.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Cashew Crema [v. gf.]

When I’m not eating chocolate chip cookies or chocolate microwave brownies for dinner, you can usually find me devouring a falafel sandwich from my latest favorite restaurant, Clover, or eating whatever food I happened to whip up the weekend before. When it comes to cooking in graduate school, I tend to lean on the side of easy and unpretentious recipes. These enchiladas, though they require a bit more work than the average stir fry, fall in this category.

These enchiladas are the perfect busy student food for a few reasons:

  1. They’re healthy, all plant-based, and packed with protein and good-for-you nutrients. Since the other half of my diet is chocolate chip cookies (only half kidding here), it’s important that what food I do make will power me through the day without putting me in a food coma.
  2. These enchiladas are super easy to make– if you can sauté black beans and roll a tortilla, you can make these enchiladas. The final outcome looks impressive but the actual recipe is really easy.
  3. They’re easy to store. There’s no way I’m not gonna finish this batch of enchiladas before they go bad (about a week), but if I were to start to worry, I could just throw them in the freezer and microwave them for a quick meal a week–or month–later. As much as I love my tabbouleh couscous salad, this isn’t something I could do with it.
  4. And most importantly, they taste amazing. The combination of chewy corn tortillas and savory beans with a bit of sweetness from the corn and sweet potatoes is a perfect combination in my book. Plus, lime cashew crema add the perfect amount of creaminess to the enchiladas and balances out any spiciness in the enchilada sauce. Paired with a glass of fruit juice (I don’t know- it just works) and a side salad, this is my definition of a perfect meal.

On a completely different tangent, earlier this morning I went to my very first post on Chomps of Life. I was 15 years old! A mere baby! I’m 22 years now, which means Chomps of Life has been around for almost 7 years! Granted, I only post every few months (wanting to change that!), but that’s nearly a third of my life! Super crazy.

Anyhow, without further ado, here’s the recipe for my black bean quinoa sweet potato enchiladas with lime cashew crema.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Cashew Crema

Black Bean Enchiladas

Cashew Crema

Cashew Crema

  1. Cover the cashew in room temperature water and set aside for at least 2 hours. Or, cover with hot water for at least 1 hour.
  2. In a high power blender, blend the soaked cashews (drained) with the water, lime juice, nutritional yeast, cilantro, and salt to taste. Once smooth, refrigerate the crema for later.

Black Bean Enchiladas

  1. Peel and cut the sweet potato into cubes. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with 1 inch of water, and microwave for 4-8 minutes, or until tender, but not soft. Alternatively, toss in 1 tbs oil and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, flipping the cube halfway.
  2. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan, and add the onions, sautéing until translucent.
  3. Add the sweet potato, and continue cooking over medium high heat until the edges of the sweet potato begin to brown and caramelize.
  4. Add the can of black beans (including the liquid from the can), spices, the quinoa, and 1/2 cup of water.
  5. Bring the mixture to a simmer at medium low heat, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender. The mixture should be thick and the beans very tender (beginning to fall apart).
  6. Fold in the cilantro, corn, and salt to taste. If the filling tastes too sweet (will depend on the sweetness of the corn and sweet potatoes), add 2 tbs salsa or enchilada sauce.
  7. Fill each of the corn tortillas with 1/12 of the black bean filling, rolling up the filled enchiladas and placing them in a greased baking dish.
  8. Pour 1 to 2 cups of enchilada sauce over enchiladas, and drizzle 1/4 cup of the cashew crema on top. Smooth with a spoon.
  9. Bake the enchiladas at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  10. Top with extra enchilada sauce (warm) and cold cashew crema. Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

Lately, I’ve become a bit obsessed with vegan chocolate chip cookies. This isn’t a new thing– last year I posted a recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies that I still dream about, but my desire to make a) the best vegan chocolate chip cookies and b) the best healthy vegan chocolate chip cookies (a very different goal indeed) has become an unbearable itch lately. Also, my diet has shifted from 30% vegan chocolate microwave cake to 30% vegan chocolate chip cookies, which is fine.

Last summer, my friend Jackie texted me about the “BEST chocolate chip cookie ever” that her housemate’s boyfriend made. “Oh, and it’s vegan,” she added, and I knew I needed to find this recipe for myself. The recipe turned out to be these vegan chocolate chip cookies from America’s Test Kitchen. The recipe intrigued me for several reasons: first, they didn’t contain aquafaba which is practically unheard of in the latest generation of vegan chocolate chip cookies, and second, they contained almond butter to add a “toffee-like richness”. I was sold.

A few weeks ago I had finished my first semester as a graduate student and was lounging around at home with nothing to do for the first time in months. I decided that then was as good a time as ever to finally test out the recipe that Jackie raved so much about. Verdict: They are really freakin good, especially warm with a scoop of almond milk ice cream. The almond butter adds a really nice subtle flavor, and I’m even tempted to go back to my own vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe and revise it to contain a bit of almond butter. Without aquafaba, the cookies lose a touch of their soft chewiness when they cool down, so I do recommend eating these cookies asap, which really shouldn’t be a problem. Finally, in the future I would use chocolate disks or a chopped dark chocolate bar, because I’ve always found thinner chocolate pieces to really enhance cookies.

Since coming back to Cambridge and beginning my next semester, I’ve started working on another goal: the best healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’ve made a couple recipes so far, which I will share soon! Will they contain garbanzo beans? Oat flour? Dates? Check in later to find out!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a new bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, coconut oil, water, almond butter, and vanilla extract.
  3. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 – 4 hours. After this time, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, or frozen for a few months.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and portion out the dough to 16 pieces (about 3 tbs each) on 2 parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, switching top and bottom sheet after 6 minutes. The cookies should just beginning to lightly brown on the edges, but appear underbaked otherwise. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on the sheets [this is when they will finish baking].
  7. Once cool, serve with almond milk or non dairy ice cream! (P.S. While the recipe calls for waiting them to fully cool, there was no way I was missing out on warm cookies. They were still slightly underbaked in the middle and tasted amazing!)

Two Minute Healthy Microwave Brownie [vegan. gf]

I’m the kind of person who could eat cake for breakfast. It’s most definitely not what my body wants — I feel best after a couple hard boiled eggs or a bowl of oatmeal with almond butter — but my mind and sweet tooth say otherwise.

The day after thanksgiving and the day after my birthday are two of my favorite days, the former because I get to eat leftover pumpkin pie first thing in the morning and the latter because of breakfast birthday cake. It’s all about balance, right?

While balance dictates that for 95% of the year, I should most definitely not have sugary cake or pie for breakfast, this recipe is for when I wanna eat something sweet for breakfast (or dessert) and nourish my body at the same time.

It’s a soft and gooey chocolate brownie filled with oats, cocoa powder, almond flour, coconut flour, and just a touch of maple syrup. Since oats and coconut flour already have a natural sweetness to them, sometimes I leave out the maple syrup. It makes finding a pocket of melty chocolate chip all the better.

I’ve cooked this recipe for friends, and have heard nothing but rave reviews (plus astonishment that from start to finish it only takes 2 minutes to cook). Try it out, and let me know what you think!

Microwave Mug Brownie

I also like to call it “Tablespoons Brownie” because you literally just need a tablespoon to measure out the ingredients. Super convenient!

  • 2 tbsp oat flour
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch baking powder About 1/8 tsp
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup Often I’ll halve or omit the maple syrup if I’m making this for breakfast)
  • 6 tbsp almond milk Depending on how absorbent your coconut flour, you’ll want about 5-8 tablespoons of almond milk. The batter should be thick but not dry.
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips Usually I use 1 tsp of chocolate chips for breakfast and 1 tbsp for dessert. Your call!

1. Stir together the oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.

2. Add the maple syrup and almond milk and stir until smooth. If you’re feeling adventurous, press a few more chocolate chips on top.

3. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute 15 seconds, depending on the strength of your microwave (I always do exactly 60 seconds). The outsides of the brownie should look fully cooked, but the inside should still be slightly shiny.

4. Serve with a nice scoop of almond milk (or regular milk) ice cream and a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Lebanese Inspired Pea Stew

Let’s talk about spicy food. No-  let’s listen to me talk about how much I just don’t get it. Does it feel good to have your mouth on fire? Does it really enhance the flavor of food? And I know what you’re thinking, “yes, Mia, it tastes good and enhances the flavor of food and you just have weak taste buds” and well, maybe that’s true. Regardless, I’ll continue to question the sanity of people like my boyfriend who eagerly consume ghost pepper sauce, I recognize that we live in a spicy world and I’m the minority when it comes to spice-opinions. Dishes like this, which can be spiced or unspiced to your heart’s desire, is my compromise.

This Lebanese inspired pea stew is a cross between a curry and a vegetable stew. It’s spiced but not spicy (a couple thai chilis can change that if you so desire), it’s a melodious combination of savory broth with sweet vegetables, and it’s super cheap, healthy, and easy to make to boot. I made it for the first time over the summer, and have been craving it since. It’s definitely going to be a winter staple of mine.

This stew uses TVP as its source of protein. Bob’s red mill sells it at most stores near their “alternative flours”, but if you can’t find it, any veggie crumbles should work just as well. This stew also freezes wonderfully. I like to portion it out on parchment paper into blobs which I freeze and then store in a large ziplock bag. When I’m feeling lazy, which seems to be most of the time nowadays, I can just microwave a blob of the stew with rice for a super easy meal. At the minimum it stops me from eating cereal and granola bars for dinner (which has already happened a few times this past month…oops). Try out this recipe and let me know what you think!

Lebanese Inspired Pea Stew

  1. In a bowl, combine the TVP with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Cover and set aside.
  2. Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Peel the potatoes and carrot and cut into small cubes.
  3. Add the oil and butter substitute to a large pan (I used a medium-sized pot) at medium high heat.
  4. Once the butter is beginning to sizzle, add the onion and garlic and continue sauteing until the onion is glassy and beginning to brown at the edges.
  5. Stir in the vegetable bouillon, black pepper, pumpkin pie spice, cumin, and coriander, and TVP.
  6. Once the TVP starts browning, add the potatoes and carrots and cook for a few minutes more.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes and continue cooking until the sauce is reduced.
  8. Add enough water to the pan that the vegetables are just barely submerged.
  9. Continue cooking the stew for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender but not soft, and the sauce is thick.
  10. Add the fresh or frozen peas, and salt to taste.
  11. Serve with rice, naan, or romaine lettuce. Ideally a mixture of the three. Enjoy!

Tabbouleh Couscous Salad

As a graduate student, any food that I can eat straight out of the fridge is a win in my book. So far, classes and research haven’t ramped up to full intensity so I still have time to cook, but more and more often I’ve found myself turning to quick meals that I can make large batches of and enjoy all week long.

Enter: this tabbouleh couscous salad. With parsley, couscous, and cucumber, it has the perfect mix of contrasting soft and crunchy textures. It’s also filled with greens, lightly spiced, and slightly tangy from a generous dash of lemon juice. Aka, it’s almost impossible to get sick of, which is really my main criteria for food prepping.

It’s also an incredibly forgiving recipe, and can withstand a missing ingredient or two. If you’re looking for a delicious side for lunch or dinner, give this tabbouleh couscous salad a try and do let me know what you think!

Tabbouleh Couscous Salad

  1. Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a mesh strainer over a bowl to collect the juices. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and allow to sit and drain for 30 minutes. To save time, skip this step and seed the tomatoes instead.
  2. Combine the tomato juice with the dried couscous and vegetable boullion.
  3. Pour the boiling water on the tomato couscous mixture and cover with a plate. After 5 minutes, use a fork to fluff up the couscous.
  4. To chop the parsley and mint, you have 2 options: 1) if you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the herbs until rice-sized 2) or, add the parsley and mint to a food processor and pulse until rice-sized.
  5. Transfer the chopped herbs to a bowl and add the diced tomatoes, olive oil, coriander, and cinnamon.
  6. Seed and finely dice 1/2 of an english cucumber. Fold into the herb mixture.
  7. Lastly, add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. I normally add 1 tbs of lemon juice, a pinch of pepper, and 1/2 tsp of salt.
  8. Cover the bowl and let the tabbouleh rest in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. While technically an optional step, I find it really helps the flavors meld and that the tabbouleh tastes even better the second day.
  9. Enjoy and eat leftovers within a week (though I doubt that will be a problem!).

Chocolate Chip Bread [v.]

It’s wild to think that just less than a year ago I was sitting in my college dorm room, sipping on a pistachio smoothie and dwelling on the uncertainty I felt towards the future. Here I am, eleven months later, sitting in my Boston apartment and one day away from beginning an EE PhD program. Just, wow.

Every half a year I come online and promise that this time I’ll start posting consistently, so I won’t do that now, but I will say that I spent most of yesterday transferring chompsoflife.wordpress.com to chompsoflife.com, and I will be cooking for myself from now on. As a PhD student with limited time, this will probably mean mainly meal prepping, but I’m going to do my best to record and take pictures of the recipes I make.

This bread is one of the first things I made in my new apartment. My boyfriend is currently braving Houston’s worst storm in recorded history, and though he’s lucky to still have electricity and internet, the storm has devastated the city I called home for 4 years. This weekend, we both took a break from watching the news to video chat and make bread together, his plain and mine studded with tons of chocolate chips.

Since this was his first time making bread, we went with this basic recipe from king arthur flour, and whoa, I was amazed with how well it turned out. Since I seldom eat plain bread, I halved the recipe, added chocolate chips, increased the sugar to 2 tablespoons (coconut sugar for a nice caramel flavor), and added ground ginger and cinnamon for a bit of extra pizazz. It was delicious fresh out of the oven, and just as good the next day toasted and spread with almond butter.

Also, a tip for anyone who can’t eat an entire loaf of bread before it goes bad, I suggest letting the bread cool to room temperature, slicing it, wrapping the sliced loaf in plastic wrap, and freezing it. Whenever you’re feeling a piece of bread, simply toast for a few minutes or let defrost at room temperature and eat as it. I’m a huge proponent of freezing bread, because it means I can have a slice of chocolate chip bread whenever I want. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Bread

  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (I used approximately 7/8th of it)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Stir together the yeast, sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and flour.
  2. Very slowly, add the lukewarm water, a few tablespoons at a time. Once the dough is shaggy, transfer to a clean surface and knead for 15-20 minutes. The objective is to create a dough that is tacky, but not sticky. If the dough feels very dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time while continuously kneading. Or, if the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the ball is tacky.
  3. Continue kneading until the ball of dough is smooth. Add the chocolate chips, and continue kneading until fully incorporated.
  4. Place the dough inside a large greased bowl, and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm area and double in size. This should take approximately 1-2 hours.
  5. (Optional: If you’re not planning to bake the dough the same day, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. It should still rise and you can provide with the next step when you’re ready. I think this also adds nice flavor to the final loaf, but feel free to skip if you’re running low on time.)
  6. Deflate the dough and form it into a long, wide loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside to rise for another hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake the bread for 25-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it. If you have a cooking thermometer, the interior of the bread should register 190 degrees F.
  8. To retain a crispy crust, turn the oven off and prop open the oven door but keep the bread inside to cool. Once cool, slice and serve fresh, or toast and serve with nut spreads or jam. Enjoy!

Maple Cream Carrot Bread [v.]

carrot-cake

Despite my confidence that restocking my college pantry would inspire me to bake, assignments and exams swept me up and the only things I managed to make last semester were muffins and a terrible batch of spicy oatmeal cookies. The muffins were acceptable, but not post-worthy, and I don’t want to talk about the cookies. Let’s just say, don’t add spicy granola to oatmeal cookies…or at least do a better job of meshing the flavors than I did.

I’m finally back home for winter vacation, and besides practicing the art of doing nothing (also, I should really start training for the 15k I have in a couple of weeks), I’m finally with a kitchen of my own. The first thing I did when I got home was make this carrot bread. It’s a hearty and lightly sweet bread that is filled with the most delicious cashew cream filling and studded with caramelized walnuts. It’s loaded with fiber and free of refined sugar or flour, so try it out if you’re looking for a quick and filling breakfast or snack.

Cream Filled Carrot Bread

To make maple cream filling:

In a high powered blender combine:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum

Blend until smooth and set aside. (On a side note, I bet 1/8 tsp almond extract would be perfect in this.)

To make carrot bread batter:

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (2/3 cup if you prefer sweeter breads)

Add:

  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp molasses [optional, but good flavor]

Stir together, and fold in:

  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup caramelized walnuts*

To make the bread:

Spread half the carrot bread batter into a bread pan. Pour the cream filling on top and swirl into the batter with a butter knife (gently). Spread the rest of the batter on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before serving. If you have extra time, store overnight to let the flavors and textures better mesh.

* To make caramelized walnuts, add 1/2 cup walnuts + 1 tbs coconut sugar in a nonstick pan. Cook until the sugar is melted and coats the walnuts, careful not to let the sugar burn. Let cool completely before using.

 

 

College Cooking: My pantry essentials

essen.pngBack in high school I would spend entire weekends making desserts. It must have been a bit bewildering for my parents to wake up to three frosted cakes in the kitchen, but they supported my passions nevertheless.

When I went off to college, I had to significantly downsize my pantry and learn how to bake in smaller batches. My pantry is constantly morphing, but over the years I’ve settled on some baking staples that I want to share. Also be on the lookout for new recipes! I restocked my pantry this morning. 🙂

Without further ado, here are some tips I’ve picked up about pseudo-minimalist cooking, as well as a list of my baking essentials.

Continue reading

Pistachio Smoothie [v.]

smoothie.png

The weeks are flying by at a terrifying pace. As a senior in college, right now is when I’m supposed to be figuring out my future by applying to graduate school or finding a job. Lately, every conversation I have seems to comes back around to, “so what are you planning to do after graduation?”

Meanwhile, I’m trying to remain calm, and continue on with my schoolwork and extracurriculars. Calmness is vibrant pistachio smoothies and warm bowls of oatmeal with blueberries and granola. It’s listening to my Discover Weekly playlist in the morning as I sip hot coffee. I hope that you try out this recipe, and it brings you the boost it brings me.

pistachio3The latest non-dairy milk I’ve been enjoying is pistachio milk. Oddly, rather than tasting like pistachios, it’s super almond-y, way more than any almond milk I’ve tried. For this reason, I’m willing to bet any nut milk plus a tiny dash of almond extract would produce the same overall taste.

This smoothie is perfectly sweet and creamy, has an extra nutritional punch thanks to leafy greens, and can be made in literally any blender (I use a 14 dollar blender from amazon). Feel free to add a little extra nut milk if the smoothie seems too thick, and if you’re a granola fiend like me, definitely sprinkle some on top and eat with a spoon.

Pistachio Smoothie

  • 1 cup pistachio milk or any nut milk + 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup packed spinach leaves (be generous, you won’t taste spinach I promise)
  • 1 sliced and frozen banana
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • optional: 2 tbs soy protein powder or 2 tbs cashew butter

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Enjoy! Oolala.

smoothie.png