French toast

Saturday morning was always French toast for me (before I went vegan). I have tried various recipes from Youtube since, but most of them were for sweet french toast with syrup, and I prefer mine savoury.

Fast forward to last Saturday, and I happened to have a pack of silken tofu in the fridge which needed to be eaten, and half a loaf of sourdough bread from Peregrine farm stall which was a couple of days old. So I decided to experiment. And it was a total win!

Ingredients

Day-old bread (I used sourdough, but you can use whatever bread you like). I recommend using quite thick slices, and to me, french toast requires white bread, but you do you.

Block of silken tofu (to be honest, this made enough for two people, but I was hungry and so I ate it all). I used the brand sold at my local Spar, but the el-cheapo soft tofu from Chinatown will also work (the ones that they sell in water for R3.50 a block).

Black Salt is essential for eggy flavour. I bought mine in a grinder from Wellness Warehouse for about R35 and I expect it to last forever. I used a couple of grinds.

2 tablespoons of chickpea flour. I have tried making this before with only chickpea flour and water in a batter and I felt it was a bit lacking, but I like the flavour and texture that chickpea flour adds.

1 tsp of flax meal to thicken the batter slightly. I buy flax seeds from Montagu, grind them in my blender and store in the fridge.

2 tablespoons of water (this will depend on your blender). You just need enough to get it to blend nicely.

Pinch of turmeric (for colour)

White pepper to taste

You could also add other flavourings here, e.g. paprika or Italian herbs. I didn’t because I am a plain jane with french toast, but again, you do you!


Method

Add all the ingredients to a blender until the batter is smooth. It should be slightly thicker than the egg batter you remember if you have ever made french toast before.

French toast batter

Let it sit for a few minutes so that the flax meal can do its thing. Do not taste the batter, raw chickpea flour tastes gross.

Meanwhile, cut your bread into thickish slices and warm your pan.

I fried this bread in Flora vegan. You can choose to use whatever oil you used to make French toast in, or if you have a super nonstick pan, you don’t need anything. But let’s face it, french toast is not health food, so you might as well do it properly.

Dip your bread slices in the batter and then add to your pan. The key thing here is that this batter takes longer to cook than an egg batter. I find that tofu, in general, takes a while to get crispy. Resist the urge to flip them early. Let them sit longer than you think they should. If you try and flip them too soon, the batter will separate from the toast and everything will disintegrate.

French toast sizzling in the pan

Flip them and cook the other side till it is as brown/crispy as you like it. I think this would be awesome with some vegan sausage, tofu bacon and a drizzle of syrup, or you could go healthy and have a salad (who eats salad for breakfast?). I was starving and lazy so I just ate the whole plate you see pictured.

This recipe makes enough batter for two people though – I had some batter at the end that I made into a little pancake and ate with syrup.

Variation

I have previously made a similar batter (using only chickpea flour and water). I then made a sandwich with vegan cheese, dipped the whole sandwich in batter and fried it as above. Yummers!

Toasted cheese – french toast style

And that was a weekend breakfast done right 🙂


If you have any comments or questions, please get in touch!

If you live in Cape Town, feel free to join my meetup group – we meet for dinner about once a month.

Yours in veggies

Deidre

Potato Falafel

Sooo… last week I felt like making a savoury type thing, useful for my lunch box but also good for random snack attacks. I happened to have some chickpeas which were batch-cooked over the weekend, some parsley, and some potatoes that needed to be eaten. And i thought hmmm… potato falafel?

I googled a few recipes to see if this was a thing (there are many different ways to make falafel).

this is what I eventually came up with:

Ingredients

Cooked potatoes (I used one big one and a handful of baby potatoes because that is what i had lying around) – I would say about 700g total, but this is a very forgiving recipe so no need to be too exact. I steamed mine but you could also use leftover roast potatoes (if you can manage to not eat them all) or leftover mashed potato.

Cooked chickpeas (1.5 cups or 1 tin drained and rinsed). Reserve some of the liquid in case you need it later (see the Method section).

One small onion, chopped

A big bunch of fresh parsley, chopped (I think other fresh herbs would also work here if you like the taste)

Sunflower seeds (about half a cup). I have seen other recipes use breadcrumbs, but I didn’t have any on hand.

Lemon juice (about half a lemon or a couple of tablespoons)

Spices: I used salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, but you can obviously use what you prefer. I think any flavourings you usually use with potatoes will work here.

Rice flour, for dusting. I like using rice flour to dust any veg “meatball” type thing because I think it gives a better crispy coating, but you can probably use normal flour or chickpea flour as well. If you do, please comment below and let me know how it goes.

Method

I used a food processor to mix everything together till it was the right texture (well combined, sort of like a dough but with a few chunks still visible). The texture needs to be such that it will form a ball and stick together.

  • If it’s too dry, try adding a little soy sauce, olive oil, aquafaba (the water you cooked your chickpeas in), or plain water.
  • If it’s too wet, add some breadcrumbs or chickpea flour.

If you are as lazy as I am, try processing the parsley, onion, and nuts first till everything is like a paste, and then add the potatoes and chickpeas. It will save on chopping things too finely and makes the texture more uniform.

Do not process the potatoes first, they turn out like glue.

Important: taste the mixture before you start cooking and adjust the seasonings to your own taste.

Once you have the mixture right, scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth and form into a ball with your hands. It helps if your hands are a bit damp. the final ball size should be like a table-tennis ball. Dust this in rice flour (I hold it in my hand and shake the excess off between my fingers). Repeat with the entire mixture.

You could also make patties, or croquette shapes if you prefer.

I tried shallow-frying a few. They were OK but I didn’t like using so much oil and they were taking too long in my wok. So I transferred the rest to a baking tray and baked them at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes (I sprayed them lightly with some oil first though). I would imagine that an air fryer would also work well here, but I don’t have one so I can’t say.

ANd they were DELICIOUS! I made the bowl you see pictured by adding some baby spinach, carrots, crispy tofu, and a version of Caitlin SHoemaker’s Asian slaw recipe, which I had lying in the fridge (I used ready-made slaw mix from the Spar and her dressing).

Next time, I might try using spring onion, or maybe some gherkins. I always have potatoes and chickpeas on hand, so I foresee making this quite often in future 🙂

I hope you like this – let me know if you try it out, and what variations you use.

Yours in veggies

Deidre

5 TIPS FOR NEWBIE VEGANS


I went vegan in April 2018. My sister suggested we do it and I laughed at her (me? give up cheese? Never!)

Then I started researching vegan food on Youtube, watched a documentary, and two weeks later I went vegan overnight. And I haven’t looked back.

Not everyone does the overnight thing, and that’s totally OK. But it seems I am an all-or-nothing type of person, so this worked for me.

Its been about 18 months now (at time of writing) and I honestly feel that the quality and variety of my diet has improved so much. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, so I thought I would write down a few tips for newbie vegans as you start this new awesome lifestyle.

Veganise your current lifestyle first

By this I mean, try to veganise whatever food you like to eat now before you get overwhelmed with all the exotic recipes and ingredients that are out there. You need a stable base for comfort eating before you start exploring.

Personally, I ate peanut butter sandwiches and fruit for a few days while I researched recipes. This is probably the easiest thing to veganise, because peanut butter is vegan already, most commercial bread is vegan (e.g. Albany) and Flora makes vegan margarine now.

Other easy to veganise basics:

Pizza

If you like pizza, swap your normal pizza for vegetarian. I like topping mine with avocado slices instead of vegan cheese, but Panarottis does offer a vegan cheese option. I will probably write a blog post about vegan pizza before too long, seeing as pizza is a food group for me 😊

Breakfast

Many breakfast cereals are vegan already, so you just need to swap cow juice for a plant-based milk you like (I like Good Hope unsweetened soy). Or you can join the overnight oats brigade if you like that. There are also plenty of toast options if that is your thing. Avocado, hummous, Marmite, jam, syrup, chickpea “chicken mayo”, tofu “egg salad”, faux deli meats (Woolworths or Fry’s polony), tofu scramble, pancakes, smoothies… There are really tons of very accessible options.

Side note: If you like milk in your coffee, it’s critical that you find the right substitute pronto. You can make your own nut milk, rice milk or oat milk, but honestly, I am too lazy to do this. They also tend to be a bit sweeter, and I don’t take sugar in coffee, so unsweetened soy it is

Main meals

If you like Indian food, then make different kinds of vegetable curry, e.g. red lentil dahl, butter bean curry, potato and pea curry,

If you like Asian food, then veg fried rice, vegetable sushi or stir-fried veg noodles are all options (one of my favourite easy meals, in the beginning, was to stir fry whatever veg I had and add in a packet of two-minute noodles. Super quick, frugal and filling)

If you like traditional South African food, then the Boere Vegan Facebook group has a LOT of recipes for things like bobotie, pumpkin fritters, pancakes, etc.

Other vegan basics you can immediately grab on to include baked potatoes with baked beans, chip rolls, salads, and so on (think about combining all the “sides” onto one plate).

Stay away from substitutes in the beginning

When you first start eating vegan, your palate expects lots of salt, fat and the texture of meat and dairy. It will take a while to adjust. I find some meat substitutes delicious (now), but I don’t like all of them, and I am very iffy about vegan cheese. In the beginning, I hated substitutes, but I found that over time my palate adjusted and I started liking them. If you try something and don’t like it, but everyone else loves it, don’t be too disappointed. Just give it a few months and try again, you may be pleasantly surprised. They are not the healthiest or the cheapest options, but they are super convenient and useful to take to things like a braai

There are different approaches to a vegan diet

I am not talking about these posers who say “I am vegan except I eat fish”. If you eat animal products, you are not a vegan. You may be pescatarian, vegetarian, omnivore, flexitarian, whatever, I don’t care. You aren’t a bad person, but you’re not vegan. End of story

However, within the vegan community, there are many different approaches to eating. You can be HCLF (high carb low fat), HFLC (high fat low carb)/keto, or WFPB (whole food plant-based) or nutritarian, or junk-food vegan, or raw, or somewhere in between

It doesn’t really matter (although some approaches are more healthy than others). And I don’t think you need to choose. I am just pointing this out so that you know there is more than one way to be a vegan, and they’re all OK by the animals 😊

Some vegans are pretty passionate about their approach and will claim that their way is the only way. Just smile and wave at them. Live the lifestyle you want.

Join groups but watch out for moaners

If you decide to go vegan, it’s likely that you will be the first among your family or friend group to do so. This can be isolating. So you need to find some vegan friends as well (not to replace your friends obviously, just to expand your circle).

Facebook has some great South African vegan groups, e.g. Boere Vegans, Vegans of SA. I have listed links on my resources page. There will probably also be local ones near you, e.g. Vegans of Cape Town. These groups have lots of useful resources, but please check the pinned posts and group files before you ask a question unless you feel like having 100 people make snotty comments on your post.

Never forget that the collective noun for vegans is “a moan of vegans”, so don’t take it personally if you get flak. Also, remember that Facebook as a useful mute/unfollow feature. If someone consistently irritates you on Facebook, don’t leave the group, just unfollow that person. Your life will be easier and you’ll still get the benefit

Youtube has some great vegan channels (see my Resources page). But there are also vegan blogs, meetup groups, markets and channels on other social media. Choose your favourite one and get involved. Find your tribe!

Don’t try and be the perfect vegan all at once

The perfect vegan doesn’t exist, and there will always be someone who can out-vegan you. You have made the decision to stop using animal products and that’s great! Well done on making the right choice. But we don’t live in a vegan world, so once you change your diet, you will constantly find other things you need to change. Cosmetics, toiletries, clothes, shoes, cleaning products, etc. The list goes on. I would suggest that you use what you have right now till it’s finished (I am not about waste) and then when you need to replace something, make a conscious choice about what you buy. It’s not all going to happen overnight, but over time you’ll be surprised how many changes you will have made and how easy it was.


That’s it for now. I hope found this post helpful and entertaining 🙂

If you are an experienced vegan and have more tips to share, or you are a new vegan with questions, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

Yours in veggies

Deidre

Adventures with hummous

Hummous (Hummus?) is a chickpea puree with middle-eastern roots. But I think it’s safe to say that it has been co-opted by vegans as a basic staple lol.

When I first started eating this way, I quickly realized that buying hummus was going to make life a bit pricey (in the quantity that I like to eat), so I started making my own. I also started experimenting with different flavours, to keep life interesting.

Here’s what I do:

Base recipe

My own base recipe for hummus looks like this:

Chickpeas

You can use one tin, or about 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (I normally cook my own because I prefer the texture, I don’t like the taste of brine and it works out much cheaper).

Salt

I start with about ÂĽ teaspoon, but taste it at the end and decide.

Tahini

I buy a huge tub from the Spar for about R70. It lasts me at least 6 months. I have seen a recipe that uses fresh sesame seeds and not tahini. I haven’t tried it yet but I intend to. Will update this post when I do.

Garlic

Honestly, my laziness battles it out here with my inner Martha Stewart. If you have the time and inclination, mince one fresh garlic clove. Otherwise, add in ½ teaspoon of crushed garlic. Add more if you like more. It’s your hummous. I have also recently started experimenting with roasting / steaming garlic, which gives the hummous a more subtle flavour. Try it and see if you like it.

Lemon juice

Again, if you have the time and a fresh lemon, juice it in. Otherwise, a couple of squeezes from ye olde lemon juice bottle in the fridge does the same thing.

Liquid

Some people use olive oil. I tend to use less and less oil nowadays, so I use about 1/3 cup reserved chickpea water (because I pressure-cook in batches). Technically this is called aquafaba. I don’t really use the tins much, but you could use the water from the tin too. Aquafaba can be whipped up into something like a meringue (I have eaten it in restaurants but never tried it myself). So, I think that adding it to my hummous makes it lighter and fluffier. You can also use ice water here if you threw the cooking water away by mistake.

Method

I chuck everything in the food processor and let it go while I pack everything away and wipe the counter. Then I scrape down the side, maybe add in more liquid, etc and let it go again until I am happy with the texture. If you have a fancy food processor, this shouldn’t take long. Mine was obviously bought for a frugal price so I just let it go a bit longer – maybe 5-7 minutes total. The trick is to let it blend longer than you think you need to, then it gets lighter and fluffier the more you go on.


Variations

I have tried many different add-ins, because I make it about once a week. Here are my results so far (I’ll be updating this over time):

Plain

Use the base recipe and add the spices you like. I usually add some paprika and a tiny amount of cumin. To me, cumin goes a LONG way, so I only add maybe a ÂĽ teaspoon.

Avocado

Adding avo makes hummous extra creamy and delicious, plus it’s a nice way to use up avos that ripen all once. I add about one large, or two small avos to the base recipe. I might then also add some other flavouring, e.g Italian herbs or the Ina Paarman garlic and herb sprinkle.

Spinach

I have tried it and I didn’t love it. It was meh. But as I type this I realise that I used raw spinach, and that hasn’t always worked out well in the past. I might try this again with cooked spinach and let you know.

I think this was a spinach/pea hummous

Carrot

Ditto – tried adding raw grated carrot, didn’t like it. But I have seen a recipe using roasted carrot and cumin, so I’ll update this post once I have tried that.

Peas

I defrost Âľ cup frozen peas in boiling water for a few minutes (I hate tinned peas) and chuck it in. This is possibly my favourite add-in. I can’t even explain how tasty this is, and its gotten thumbs-up from everyone I have forced to try it.

Pickled onion

Weird right? But so good. When I do this, I first chop the pickled onion in the food processor before adding in the base ingredients.

Beetroot

Same thing as the carrot. I tried adding raw grated beetroot, It was very meh.

Hummous made with raw grated beetroot

But then I tried adding steamed beetroot and it was amazing. Much better colour and flavour.

Hummous made with steamed beetroot

Chilli

I have seen Jalapeno hummous in the shops, and it’s delicious. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I imagine it would be amazing.

Cucumber

Again, a solid favourite. This gives the hummous a real tzatziki flavour, which I love. However, cucumbers are super watery, so I recommend leaving out the middle seedy section and regulating the amount of water you add (I cut the cucumber into strips and then remove the middle bit before chopping the rest). If you want, you could grate the cucumber and sprinkle with salt and leave it for a bit before you add it in, but honestly, that’s a lot of effort for me.

Butternut

Another weird addition, I know. But super tasty especially if you use the leftovers later with pasta.

Buddha bowl with butternut hummous

Toppings

Hummous is great on its own, but there is no reason not to garnish right? Here are a few things I have tried:

Za’atar

Yes, I know. What is this even? Food Lovers market sells it in their bulk spice section and I wanted to give it a try because I saw it in a Youtube video. Basically, it’s a spice blend involving sesame seeds, salt, sumac, and other things. It also has middle-eastern roots. Its really delicious sprinkled onto plain hummous (side note, I would also sprinkle it onto avocado toast, baked potatoes or anything else that could use some pizzazz).

Vegan biltong

This is also something I usually add to avocado toast, but why not on top of hummous toast? I use the Oh Poppyseed! Chilli biltong. One packet goes a long way if you use it as a topping.

Sambal

Chopped tomato/onion/dhania salad, like the salad you get with curry.

Caramelised onion

I have seen this in the shops, so I know it’s a thing. I wouldn’t specifically go and caramelise an onion for this, but if I had some lying around, I would try it. I have bought the fried crispy onion from my local Indian spice shop and used that, and it’s great. I also pickled some red onions, which are another great topping option for avocado toast as well.


Things you can do with hummous

To be honest, I usually eat it on toast or savory crackers, or rice cakes. But you can obviously use it as a dip for carrot sticks and other crudite. I have also thinned some out with lemon juice and mustard and used it as a salad dressing. And I have seen the Youtubers add it to pasta as a sauce. I haven’t tried this yet because I never have enough leftover hummous, but I will update this post when I do.


And that’s it for now! If you have any variations or suggestions, please let me know and I will try them out and update the post

Yours in veggies

Deidre