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vegan

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Healthy Chocolate-Tofu Pudding (gluten-free and vegan)

May 2, 2013

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Friends, I have great news for you. You can enjoy a huge chocolate pudding parfait for a little more than 100 calories per serving. Sound like a dream? I had to do a double take myself when I finally discovered a dessert that was vegan, gluten-free and had no added sugar.

For those of you who don’t like tofu, or hate the idea of eating tofu in sweet form, I can promise you that you won’t know the tofu is in this dish. The key to getting creamy pudding-like texture without the tofu taste is to find silken firm tofu, which is different than regular firm tofu. The silken variety has a milder taste and blends more seamlessly into this dish. I made the mistake of using regular firm tofu the first time around and just barely managed to swallow each bite.

I have found silken firm tofu in the non refrigerated section of my local Trader Joe’s, but have seen it in other stores as well.

So, while this might not take the place of a cookie when you are truly craving something decadent, it will totally hit the spot on a regular weeknight when you are looking for a dessert that is tasty but totally healthy. And packed with protein, too!

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Chocolate-Tofu Pudding Parfaits with Raspberries
Makes 2 servings
1 block silken firm tofu
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 to 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (can use cow’s milk if desired)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 packets stevia (can use sugar if desired)
Frozen thawed raspberries or fresh raspberries

Directions
Combine all the ingredients except the raspberries in a food processor. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the edges as necessary. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to eat. To serve, layer the pudding with the raspberries.

Happy cooking!
Madison

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Spaghetti with Lentil Vegetable Marinara (gluten-free and vegan)

April 28, 2013

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Lately I’ve felt incredibly distant from Espresso and Cream. I can honestly say that in the 3 1/2 years that I have been blogging, I have never felt my passion and excitement for blogging trail off in the least bit. Until recently. That’s not to say that I’m going to stop blogging, it’s just something I’ve been thinking and feeling for the last couple weeks. More than anything, it seems that my life is so full of food that at the end of the day I feel creatively tapped out. My job, which I love, has me in the kitchen constantly, creating new recipes and developing new ideas. And to top things off, Joe and I embarked on a cleanse that has made every day eating and cooking more of a creative challenge than I had anticipated.

I’ve loved our cleanse and enjoyed being forced out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. Reading labels is a new (not so favorite) pastime and I have a new found appreciation for anyone who has to live with a food allergy, especially a gluten or dairy allergy since it is in everything.

That said, I’ve also had a lot of my creative juices zapped since planning for and preparing three cleanse-friendly meals a day takes a lot of time, effort and energy. Already I can see how things are starting to get easier and I’m sure that if Joe and I were to stick to this diet longer term it would become second nature to me, but for now it is uncharted territory.

All of that is really just me saying thank you for understanding if I’ve seemed a bit distant and removed from E&C over the past couple weeks. We are now on our last week of the cleanse and feeling great, but I’m also looking forward to adding some foods back into the regular rotation, mainly eggs since they are so useful in the kitchen.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you this dish I made for lunch on Sunday. It’s incredibly simple to pull together and also super tasty. I should also note that it is husband-approved, meaning it feels hearty and satisfying, without weighing you down after. The “meat sauce” is made with a mixture of lentils, mushrooms, onions and sweet peppers. The combination is flavorful and packed with protein and vitamins. And if, like me, you are seeking ultimate convenience, there is no shame in purchasing pre-cooked lentils to cut down on time in the kitchen.

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Spaghetti with Lentil-Vegetable Marinara
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients
*4 servings of gluten-free brown rice spaghetti
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 medium orange or red sweet pepper, chopped
*1 cup chopped mushrooms
*1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils (to make things quicker/easier this week, we bought lentils pre-cooked at Trader Joe’s)
*1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 jar (25 to 28 oz) gluten-free marinara sauce of choice (I used a roasted garlic variety)

Directions
*Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. While pasta cooks, you can throw together the rest of this dish.
*Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened and opaque. Add in the garlic, sweet pepper and mushrooms and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until pepper and mushrooms are cooked through and tender. Add in the lentils, salt and black pepper. Stir until well combined.
*Pour sauce into skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more or until sauce is warmed through and flavors are mixed together.
*Serve mixture atop cooked pasta.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Roasted Potatoes, Asparagus and Onions with Rosemary

April 22, 2013

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Well friends, Joe and I officially made it through an entire week of our yoga cleanse! I know I created an entire blog for the sole purpose of not talking at length about the cleanse on Espresso and Cream, but that’s becoming more difficult than I had expected. Since our new way of eating (no gluten, animal products, processed sugar, alcohol or caffeine) is permeating everything we do and all the food I make, the recipes that I share on Espresso and Cream over the next two weeks will most likely reflect the meals that Joe and I have been enjoying on the cleanse.

At this point, I can’t imagine baking up treats that we can’t enjoy. I’m afraid the temptation would be a little too much to handle at this point. Although I don’t miss gluten or animal products much at all, I would kill for a piece of dark chocolate right about now. And maybe a cup of coffee, too!

This roasted potato and asparagus dish Joe and I ate for dinner last week was one of my favorite meals of the week! Probably because it was incredibly easy, but also because it was filling and satisfying, too. In order to make it a little more balanced, I added in some cubed seasoned and marinated tofu before serving. And although Joe is still not a huge fan of tofu, he still ate it when it was mixed with all these other flavorful roasted veggies.

My mom has been in town this weekend and we haven’t stopped going all weekend! I think that may be why it’s 8 pm and I’m already about to crash and head to bed. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are ready for a great week to come!

Roasted Potatoes, Asparagus and Onion with Rosemary 
Makes 2 to 3 servings
Ingredients
2 pounds Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes (you could also use fingerling potatoes)
1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; cut asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Place potatoes, asparagus and onion in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Roast for 15 to 25 minutes or until potatoes and onions are golden brown and asparagus are tender. Serve immediately. (Also: highly recommended to serve this dish with a little salsa on the side.)

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Sweet Vegan Cashew Cream

April 18, 2013

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Since I can’t enjoy my nightly dark chocolate fix while we are doing our yoga cleanse, I have been looking for creative ways to satisfy my sweet tooth after dinner. Not an easy task considering that the “sweets” can’t contain any sweetener other than agave or stevia and they also can’t contain dairy, gluten or eggs. Basically, my options are seriously limited.

I’ve seen recipes for cashew cream, both sweet and savory, on blogs and websites quite a bit, but I had yet to make any myself until this week. I think I’m going to have to restrain myself from making another batch because I had no control with this stuff. It’s crazy good. Something about the nutty taste of the cashews whirled into a creamy pudding-like dessert satisfied my sweet tooth perfectly.

Fair warning: this is not a low calorie dessert. Although the ingredients are wholesome, the cashews are also pretty calorie dense. Hence, I’m not going to allow myself to make another batch for at least a week since the first batch lasted me about six days. Yikes!

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Sweet Vegan Cashew Cream
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
*3 cups unsalted cashews
*2 cups water
*1/4 cup agave
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Additional stevia to taste

Directions
*Place cashews in a bowl and completely submerge in water. Soak for 3 hours to soften cashews completely.
*Drain cashews. Combine cashews, 2 cups water, agave, cinnamon and stevia to taste in a blender and blend until smooth. If you do not have a high-powered blender (personally, I don’t) I suggest that you run the mixture through a food processor first to get it as smooth as you can and then run through a blender to make it truly creamy and delicious.
*Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve with fruit, nuts or other desired topping.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Cooking with Farro: Breakfast Edition

February 4, 2013

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Good morning, friends, and happy Monday. I’m entering the home stretch of my break between jobs. This week is my final week at home before I start the new gig next week. And while I was pretty nervous about being bored or restless during my time off, I have been loving my down time, staying busy with errands, blogging and things that needed to be done prior to our house closing this Friday.

One of the biggest perks about my mini stay-cation has been the fact that I’ve had more time to play around in the kitchen and make breakfasts that take more than five minutes to prepare. Last week while I was browsing Trader Joe’s I noticed they had three different small bags with quick-cooking grains: farro, barley and bulgur. The packaging was so darn cute I couldn’t resist picking up a couple bags.

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I’ve only had farro a couple times and both of the times that I had farro it was prepared in a savory manner From what I remembered about the grain, I thought it would make a fantastic substitute for oatmeal when making a bowl of hot breakfast cereal.

For those who haven’t made or eaten farro before, it’s a fantastically versatile grain with a chewy, hearty texture that falls somewhere between brown rice and pasta. It’s more calorie dense than rolled oats, clocking in at around 290 calories per 1/2 cup dry farro, but I find that it keeps me incredibly full, especially when topped with peanut butter and bananas. As a vegetarian, I was also pleased to see that a serving of farro contains 10 grams of protein. Pretty great, huh?

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These days I rarely drink cow’s milk, choosing substitutes like almond milk and soy milk instead. So I decided to make this recipe vegan, simmering the farro in unsweetened almond milk instead of cow’s milk or water. Doing so gives the farro a creamy texture with only 30 extra calories per serving. However, if you are going to use milk or almond milk in place of water, keep an eye on the farro while it is cooking. The almond milk I used had a tendency to bubble over if I didn’t give it a stir every now and again. A small price to pay for an incredibly tasty breakfast.

Vegan Breakfast Farro
Makes 1 Serving
Ingredients
*1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
*1/2 cup Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro
*Pinch of salt
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*2 packets stevia no-calorie sweetener (sch as Truvia) or 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Instructions
*In a small saucepan with a lid, bring almond milk to a boil. Add farro to the almond milk and reduce heat to low so mixture is at a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful to keep an eye on the mixture because the almond milk tends to bubble over.
*Once farro is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, ground cinnamon and stevia or brown sugar. Transfer to a bowl and serve with desired toppings, such as chopped nuts, nut butter and/or bananas.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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