The Perfect Avocado Toast

You heard me. Perfect.

Now, I will admit, the word is subjective, so if you like your toast soft, toast the bread for less time. This is my version of ‘perfect’, and I bet that if you try it this way first, then decide what your version of the word is, then, well, that’s even more perfect!2016-07-16 10.52.55

There are a lot of jokes out there about avocados. My favorite one is that, by the time you’re ready to use one, it’s gone bad already. Can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to us, although it’s been rare since we became vegan since we eat everything before it even has the chance to get too old to eat. We buy so much of our organic produce from Costco because of that, and usually we’re waiting for an avo to ripen and, once it does, it’s in our bellies immediately.

Hint: To keep your avocados from ripening too soon, keep them in the fridge and check on them daily to eat them at their peak!

Believe it or not, you can add the best toppings in the world to your avocado toast, but if your bread is sub-par, your toast will be, too. Invest in a nice artisan sourdough or french, and go crazy.2016-07-16 10.50.17

I like my bread crispy on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside, having a nice contrast with the smooth avocado and crispy toppings (not pictured).

Seriously, avocado toast is a God-send. No matter how hungry you are or what time of day it is, it’s always a good idea, is delicious, and super healthy for you! 2016-07-16 10.56.45

Toast your bread after drizzling on some olive oil, or just toast it if avoiding oil.

Mash your avocado, leaving some chunks in tact if desired. Mix your avocado with a pinch of the following:

garlic powder
onion powder
cayenne pepper
21 seasoning salute (Trader Joe’s – get this.)
sea salt
black pepper
optional:
lime juice
shallot
garlic cloves

Top toast with avocado mash. Add sliced tomatoes, red onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of pink himalayan salt.2016-07-16 11.05.24

That’s it! Pair with some Roasted Rosemary Sea Salt Potatoes (recipe coming soon!) or a big, leafy salad. This one’s a great add to a brunch menu, too 😉

Do you have a unique way to make your avocado toast? Let’s hear it! We’re always ready to try something new when it comes to our favorites.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Citrus Sugar

I’ve been on a baking streak this week (wait until you hear about what I’ve discovered as the literal, no-joke, not even kidding slightly, best walnut chocolate chip cookies everrrr. But first…) and loving every darn second of it! I used to bake in college almost every week – cookies, cakes, cupcakes – but I’d spend so much time in the kitchen that I didn’t even want to eat all of what I made. Luckily now I work somewhere where everyone loves food and is always willing to eat whatever I make.

Note: the cookies I’ve mentioned will have to be made again to supply my office with goodies… we ate the entire batch, just me and my fiancé, within 3 days.

So anyway, these muffins…2016-07-10 10.33.07

I recently purchased Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour, curious of how it’d hold up in baking, and I was quite pleased with the results. I’m by no means gluten-free, and we don’t suffer from celiac disease thankfully, but in my experience, gluten-free baked goods have always disappointed me. They were always dense, bland and boring. I’m glad I purchased this flour, because it surprised me how fluffy, moist and delicious it made these muffins. I adapted my recipe from the Scrumptious Blueberry Muffins recipe on the back of the flour bag, and veganized the heck out of it with flax eggs, Earth Balance butter & coconut milk.2016-07-10 09.15.50

I’ve become so used to having to substitute plant-based ingredients for standard animal-based ingredients that I’ve stopped searching solely for vegan recipes. It’s quite simple, really, once you realize that most baking calls for eggs, butter and milk, which can all be fabulously substituted with flax or chia eggs, applesauce, vegan butter and nut milks. Ah, plant-based living at its finest! For this recipe, we had just enough fresh blueberries in the fridge, and the rest were frozen – it most likely wouldn’t have made a big difference, but fresh is always better (even though our frozen ones were fresh, at one point)!2016-07-10 09.08.12

Have I mentioned how much I love flax eggs…?? They are so cool to me. [nerd]

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Plus, I know I’m eating such a healthy miracle plant, instead of death and cholesterol!

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These are actually labeled as ‘buttermilk’ blueberry muffins, as the original recipe calls for it, so I put a few teaspoons of lemon juice in the coconut milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes while I greased the pans.

I also had the bright idea (seriously, it was a great one if I do say so myself!) to mix some cane sugar with lemon rind for the topping, hence the ‘Citrus Sugar’ in the recipe title. I had ‘Sugar… Aw, Honey, Honey’ in my head the entire time I was making these.

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Finally, the finished product:

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Just look at how fluffy they are, and the warm, sweet and tart blueberries combined with the equally sweet and extra tart sunshine of the lemon sugar… too bad we ate all of them, I’m craving one right now!


 

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins with Citrus Sugar

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Difficulty: some baking experience will help
  • Print

Fluffy, moist, delicious blueberry muffins perfect for a brunch, a quick munch, or just because. Lemon rind adds a bright, tart contrast to the sweet berries.

Ingredients

Citrus Sugar Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest

Directions

  1. Grease a muffin or cupcake pan with plant-based butter spread or your favorite baking spray. Preheat your oven to 425° F [I say to do this after only because my oven doesn’t take 20 minutes to pre-heat and I try to save as much energy as I can! If you’d like to wait to pre-heat the oven until you make the ‘buttermilk’, you have enough time at this point.]
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. To make the ‘buttermilk’, pour the 1/2 cup nut milk into a small bowl or measuring cup, then add the 3 tsp of lemon juice to the nut milk. Let this sit for 5 minutes.
  4. To make the Citrus Sugar, zest 1/2-1 lemon, depending on desired amount of sugar required for topping. Finely chop the zest and add to cane sugar, pressing the zest into the sugar forcefully with the back of a spoon until fragrant.
  5. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until well incorporated and fluffy. Add half of the flax egg mixture, or one ‘egg’, at a time, beating after each. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture, beating until blended. Add the ‘buttermilk’ mixture, beat, then finally add remaining dry ingredients. Beat until blended.
  6. Add the fresh blueberries to the muffin batter and fold in, careful to not disturb the delicate skin of the berries.** Pour batter into muffin or cupcake pan and place in the oven, reducing the heat to 375° F. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, making sure no part of the muffins brown other than the edges. Add citrus sugar and cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to cooling rack and cool completely.
  7. Makes 12 muffins or 24 cupcakes.

Notes:

*I used coconut milk for a richer flavor, but if you don’t have coconut milk, I recommend cashew milk. It’s the creamiest of the other nut milks (almond, soy, hemp), and will help keep the moisture of these muffins at it’s best.

**For an added citrus burst of flavor, add 2 tsp of lemon juice and 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped lemon zest to the muffin batter.


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Garden Raw Cashew Cheese

Ah, good ol’ cashew cheese. It truly has become a phenomena, and I don’t think any of us are complaining… well, maybe the dairy industry, but they have a long list of debts to pay, so I’m not too concerned about their welfare!

Now, let’s get down to cashew cheese.2016-07-06 16.22.41

I first tried cashew cheese a few years ago from a local food store in town when it was first coming on the health food scene (as far as I knew, at least). I honestly couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I’m not even a huge cashew fan.

GASP.

I know. You’ll get over it. I have.

Since I was still eating dairy cheese at the time, I really had no reason to purchase cashew cheese, aside from the fact that it was leagues healthier for me, but at that time in my life I didn’t think I was unhealthy. First step toward making a change is realizing there’s the need for one, of which I did not have. Ah, if only I’d been open to learning a bit more about the poison I was putting into my body… But that’s no fun, now is it?!…………

Fast-forward to veganism and last fall, when the absence of dairy cheese was as gaping as an empty stomach, and to re-discovering cashew cheese. It was a savior compared to what had become a disappointment in dairy cheese and the terrors behind it. Not only was cashew cheese superior when it came to health, having nothing that wasn’t excellent for you in it (if you’re thinking, ‘but they are the fattiest nut!’, get over it. All nuts are fatty, but it’s a totally different, healthier fat than the inherently deadly fats present in animal protein), but it was surprisingly delicious. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was, with fresh herbs and spices folded in, and just the right amount of ‘cheesiness’ which came from what I’d soon find out as being the nutritional yeast, or ‘nooch’ as it’s called in the vegan community. I was in heaven, and the next step after falling in love with this creamy goodness was, of course, trying my hand at making it myself.

After scouring recipe after recipe on Pinterest, testing and re-testing, I finally found the perfect base recipe on which to add my eclectic flare and make it my own (as usual). I do hope you try it, love it and share it with family and friends. Just please remember to credit me so I can gain a footing in the vegan food blog world. I love this recipe and actually sold a few packages of it earlier this year, so I’d really appreciate the love ❤ Thanks, y’all! ~L.

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Here’s the version wrapped in cheesecloth to drain the moisture. I prefer it as a creamier cheese without the cheesecloth, but you can suspend it over a large bowl and stick in the fridge overnight to make it more dense, like a cheese ball. Wait, who you callin’ cheese ball?!


Garden Raw Cashew Cheese

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 24 hrs, 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy peasy lemon squeezy
  • Print

A creamy, scrumptiously satisfying spread for toast points, crackers or anything else you can put this stuff on <em>or</em> in! My favorite cashew cheese recipe, now shared with you 😉

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic raw cashews (we buy Hoodie’s from Costco)
  • water (for soaking cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves**
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 4 large sun-dried tomatoes, diced fine***
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh shallot
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or scallions/green onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Presentation (choose some, all or none):

  • sliced chives or scallions/green onion
  • fresh basil
  • cracked pepper
  • lemon zest
  • paprika

Directions

  1. Soak raw cashews overnight in enough water to cover them 1 inch (I know some recipes say you can soak them for a few hours, but if you’re making this recipe, trust me. The longer you soak, the better. I actually soaked them for two nights once and it was the creamiest I’d ever made, so if you have 48 hours, get to soaking!) Drain and put in high-speed blender or food processor.
  2. Add lemon juice, nutritional yeast, 2 Tbsp water, vinegar, lemon zest, garlic, salt & pepper. Process until smooth and creamy, about 3-4 minutes. If you’re using a high-power blender, it may take less time (my Vitamix only takes about 2 minutes to make this super creamy, while I’m using the blending tool to help).
  3. Scoop the cashew cream mixture into a large bowl, adding the sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, chives, basil & chili flakes. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, if desired. Garnish with paprika, basil & lemon zest, or any of the presentation items above, and dig in.
  4. ~Just a heads up: this stuff disappears much faster than you’d imagine, and guys absolutely love it. Hopefully you’ll memorize the recipe soon enough like I did! Bon Appetit – xox

  • You can also use rice wine or white wine vinegar which are a bit more mild, but I like the tang of the apple cider vinegar.
  • ** I love garlic, so if you don’t, maybe stick to 1 clove. My fiancé just assumes I have garlic breath sometimes. Luckily, chances are, so does he 😉

  • These are optional, as they add a bit of sweetness to the spread. Some people aren’t huge fans of sun-dried tomatoes, and they can be an acquired taste. Totally your dish, only use what you want!


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Fruit-tastic Mornings

I’ve been starting every morning with a very large helping of fruit.

It helps that Costco is starting to carry organic, sweet, ripe and ready to eat variations, including strawberries and watermelon. We were very close to stopping our purchases of watermelons since the recent ones we’ve bought were basically tasteless, barely red at peak ripeness, and not juicy in the least bit.

Here we have a bowl of organic strawberries, raspberries and the BEST watermelon we’ve had in AGES, all from Costco. [not an endorsement…]

Having fruit for your first meal, or before any meal, allows your digestive system to refresh itself by processing the fruit sugar quickly and efficiently into fiber, without fermenting (what happens if you have fruit AFTER a meal) or causing gas and bloating. It provides sustained energy until your next meal (normally about an hour or two after eating it for me) with no spike in blood sugar.

It’s a win-win for everyone!


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Avodita Crunch Tacos

Recently we’ve adopted Taco Tuesday, and added a little Tequila in the mix to spice up the week. The day-to-day grind can get quite monotonous, so having a weeknight to look forward to (other than Friday!) can be refreshing.

Not as refreshing as the margaritas my fiancé made with this dish…

See, what we do is switch roles each week when deciding what the meal and the drink will be. This week, it was my turn to come up with the meal and his turn to make the drinks. I wish every week he’d make the drinks, because I downed this one. I barely drink on a regular basis, so thankfully he made it light for me, otherwise I’d have been on the floor.2016-06-23 18.50.55


I’ll get to the best margarita I’ve ever had – no joke – in another post. Right now, let’s start with the tacos.

Although I didn’t come up with the method of what makes these so unique, I like to think not many people have done this, so therefore I consider myself part of the trendsetting! I dubbed these monsters ‘Avodita Crunch Tacos’ because the hard taco shells are wrapped in avocado-basted flour tortillas (yes, white enriched flour tortillas – if you want to take the fibrous route, grab the whole wheat ones… just know they are not the same!), and once the heat and moisture of the beefless crumbles and the nacho ‘cheese’ get through the crunchy shells, they form this amazing wrap that holds everything together in the most scrumptious way possible.

I mean, look at this…

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I wish I had more of that ridiculous ‘cheese’ to dunk this bite in…

I had to get a closeup mid-bite. I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t.

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Avodita Crunch Tacos

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Mexican-inspired dish that'll leave you satisfied and feeling like you just celebrated Cinco De Mayo.

Credit: tastemade.com on SnapChat for the idea to put avocado on the tortilla and wrap it. Genious! …and Miyoko’s Kitchen for bringing cheese back into my life, only a much better cheese: the cruelty-free kind.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag Beyond Meat beefless crumbles
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own)
  • 1/2 Tbsp oil (I used olive – you can omit if you choose and just use water)
  • 1-2 ripe avocados
  • 1-2 tsp lime juice (half of a small lime)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes or 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes
  • 8 oz dairy-free nacho ‘cheese’ (I used Miyoko’s Kitchen Heat-and-Serve Sharp Cheddar sauce – it’s the best.)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 bag 6″ flour tortillas
  • 1 box corn taco shells

Optional:

  • 8 oz chili beans (or beans of your choice)
  • 4 oz vegan sour cream
  • shredded lettuce

Directions

    1. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/2 Tbsp oil or water over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and add beefless crumbles. Continue to stir until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Reduce to low and add 1/4 cup water and taco seasoning. Stir until incorporated, reduce heat to simmer and cover. If you’re adding beans, here’s where I’d throw them in with the beefless crumbles so they can get up to temperature and add flavor.
  1. Remove hard taco shells from the box and set aside. Slice both avocados length-wise, removing the seed and scooping the inside into a small bowl. Add lime juice, garlic powder and chili flakes/cayenne pepper and mash until well incorporated. After mixing, you can now heat your hard taco shells and be careful not to let them burn. Next, spread avocado mixture on flour tortillas starting in the center and moving outward, about 1 spoonful per tortilla. Remember that, as you squeeze the tortilla onto the taco shell, the mixture will spread outward, so try not to put too much on unless you want avocado all over your hands – there are worse things in life.
  2. After carefully removing heated hard taco shells, wrap the avocado-covered tortillas over the taco shells, pressing lightly and ensuring not to break the shells (although the good thing is that, if you do, it should still hold together – avocado is like duct tape… Fixes everything). Heat your nacho ‘cheese’ over medium-low heat until thick and boiling, continuing to stir. Slice tomatoes and other toppings and set aside. Assemble tacos with beefless crumbles, nacho ‘cheese’, toppings and any leftover avocado mixture, pour some drinks (see recipe below for Strawberry Fields Margarita) and don your sombrero for the party!

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@elleveggie – the Insta files

Welcome to my first blog post! I’ve been wanting to blog for years, but never had the determination or time to stick with it (flashback to 5 years ago with a Blogger account, a camera, and no direction…). Now that my future hubby and I are simplifying our lives in small but significant ways, I’ve decided to spend my free time tending to making this blog something I can be proud of, and that you can enjoy.

I mentioned in my info section that I had an Instagram for years dedicated to food, and most recently (within a year come September) toward becoming vegan and cooking/eating vegan food. Below are the images I hand-picked from my Instagram that I want to show you. They are all 100% vegan, containing no dairy, meat (this includes fish) or eggs, are easy to make and maybe too easy to eat! But again, they’re vegan, so eat up and keep feeling spectacular  😉

If you’d like recipes to any of these dishes and it’s not listed under the picture on my Instagram page, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at elleveggie@gmail.com. Enjoy your eye ‘candy’!

Find my Instagram here: @elleveggie