Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cookbook Review: Chloe's Kitchen

As a vegetarian who tries to eat mostly vegan at home, I rely heavily on cookbooks by creative vegan chefs. However, there is nothing more frustrating than purchasing one and realizing most of the recipes are long and complicated or require an endless list of 'use-once' ingredients. Chloe Coscarelli's new cookbook, Chloe's Kitchen, is not like this. In fact, after only a week I can confidently say it's going to go into regular rotation in my home. 

There are a few rockstars of the vegan cooking world. Isa Chandra Moskowitz, known for the vegan cooking bible 'Veganomicon', and her many delightful baking books ('Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World', 'Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar', etc.), Erin McKenna of Babycakes fame ('Babycakes', 'Babycakes Covers the Classics') and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau ('The Vegan Table', 'Joy of Vegan Baking') are just a few. Though still young and having only just published her first vegan cookbook, I know Chloe will make a perfect addition to this list. 

Why am I so confident? Well in just under a week I have already cooked 4 recipes from Chloe's book, all of which were fantastic. Plus, in case you didn't know, Chloe is the first winner of The Food Network's Cupcake Wars, and she competed against non-vegan bakers, proving once and for all that no one needs eggs to make a perfect cupcake. 

So far I have made her Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus and Tahini Sauce along with her Sea Salt Toffee Bars for three of my omni (veggie slang for omnivore;)) friends, and they loved both recipes. I also made her Fettucine Alfredo (with my favorite Shirataki noodles subbed in for the fettuccine) for myself one night, and the delicious Cheesy Broccoli Soup. I made slight modifications to each recipe, which I think means I can share them on here...

Recipe will be posted soon!

For now, all you need to know is that Chloe's cookbook is a wonderful contribution to any chef's bookshelf and great for omnis and vegans alike. One of the best parts? Almost every recipe has a gorgeous photo, which is something I value in a good cookbook. If I don't know what the final product looks like, why bother, right? 

If you are looking for some inspiration to eat more plant-based, this cookbook is just what you need to get you there. Kudos to Chloe! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vegan Cupcakes with Cinnamon Glaze

I've started getting back into more vegan baking and cooking in the last few weeks. I definitely go back and forth. There are times when I feel like an egg is simply necessary for my baking endeavors and as has happened recently, times when I feel like there is really no need since so many amazing vegan baking recipes exist. I'd like to not make a habit out of always cooking the traditional way. I like to mix things up and see what works and what doesn't. For me, the kitchen is always a place of experimentation. 

A few weeks ago I baked up a batch of Jess' Vegan French Toast Cupcakes. Jess is a vegan blogger who I've sort of become friends with online. She's very creative and always makes the most delicious (but easy!) looking recipes. She is one of those vegans that creates such impressive dishes that it makes you wonder why we need animal products at all. I urge you to check out her blog, Cupcakes and Kale, here

I followed the recipe to a T and they were really delicious. Moist and light, just the way I like them. I didn't want to layer on the frosting, so I made half the amount in Jess' recipe and used it as a light glaze instead. Because I didn't have maple extract, I used a few tablespoons of maple syrup, tasting as I went, until the frosting was the desired sweetness. 

These turned out really brilliant and I recommend you give 'em a whirl the next time you decide to make cupcakes. And if you have yet to try out a vegan cupcake recipe, please believe me when I say, what are you waiting for!? They are just as tasty and lower in cholesterol because of the absence of eggs. Plus cruelty free. 

Oh and on a non-cooking blog related note: 
look what came in the mail! Excited! 

Ps: Does anyone know where I can watch Food Network shows online? I don't have cable and they aren't available for purchase on iTunes. It really bums me out. I miss the Barefoot Contessa. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Healthy Tip: Make Your Breakfast The Night Before

Of all the weight loss excuses, I think the most common one would have to be, 'I don't have time'. I don't have time to workout. I don't have time to eat healthy. I don't have time to grocery shop/cook/walk etc. And before I started grad school, I didn't really understand how you couldn't take 10 minutes a day to prep some veggies or prepare a simple meal for yourself. But now, I get it. It's not about not having the time, it's that you'd rather spend that time relaxing/watching your favorite show/being with your family etc./playing with your cat/drinking etc. 

I feel like 80% of losing weight and staying in shape is about making it a priority. Do you really not have ten minutes to chop some veggies to snack on later? Or is it that you'd rather spend those 10 minutes reading a magazine? If it's the latter, be honest with yourself and accept that fact. It's ok. But at least then you will realize that you chose to read that magazine instead of going for a brisk walk around the block- catch my drift?

I have early morning classes three times a week and I am not a morning person by any means. I have had trouble sleeping for the past few months and without my coffee (yes, I am addicted) I simply cannot focus that early in the morning. I usually end up rushing to class, sweaty and hungry. Not my style. I like to plan and being that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, starting it off with an energy bar is no fun. 

This makes enough for two breakfasts, or if I'm starving...

One thing that works wonderfully for me is to prepare my breakfast the night before. I was just laying in bed watching 'The Biggest Loser' (I'm obsessed, and cry every episode) when I thought to this morning and how I ate this disgusting energy bar (it was called 'Think Thin'- never again) before class because I was rushed. I imagined it happening again tomorrow morning and forced myself out of bed to prepare breakfast. It might sound ridiculous but. it. works.

When you prepare your breakfast the night before whether it be hard-boiling a few eggs, preparing some oatmeal with blueberries, brown sugar and chopped walnuts or sauteeing some tofu, mushrooms and red peppers for a tofu scramble (what I just did), you know it's taken care of and you can have something to look forward to in the morning. I also think starting the day with a home-cooked meal, even if it's rushed, is a great way to start the day. Especially if you've made it for yourself. Why? Because you are showing yourself that you care about you! That your health is a priority and that you are making smart choices for yourself. That might sound cheesy but it works for me. 

Honestly, it took ten minutes and doesn't that look amazing? Plus, a tofu scramble is about half the calories of any energy bar out there and probably not even a third of the fat. I'll add the nutritional info later, but for now, it's back to my 'Biggest Loser'. 

My awesome followers!