Warm Breakfast Bowls

Good morning!  I took some time on Friday (when I was planning to post on my blog) to rest and handle the emotional consequences of selling my home of 16 years.  It’s funny.  I didn’t think it would hit me that hard, but I was pretty emotional and will admit to tears here and there this past week.

I talked about it in my YouTube Video here ====> Give Yourself a Break Sometimes

Today, like Friday, I wanted something warm and comforting for breakfast.  One of our go-to breakfasts is hot oatmeal or cream of wheat.  Both Bruce and I enjoy either or, so we make it often.  Today, he was sleeping in, so I cooked, but he will often let the dogs outside, bring iced coffee to my bedside, then make breakfast for the two of us.  When he cooks, all I have to do is add whatever ingredients I want to make mine extra special.  (He always likes his plain with sugar and milk.) When I cook, I tend to spice things up WHILE I am cooking.  More on that in a minute…

I like Quaker Oats, but Bob’s Red Mill Oats are great, too.  I also like Steel Cut or Irish Oats on occasion.  Of course, you can also make Farina (Cream of Wheat) in just a few minutes if you prefer a silkier hot breakfast bowl.  Neither of us had tried Cream of Wheat in years, since we were kids really, but we decided to see if we both still enjoyed it and sure enough it’s a huge hit for both of us in the morning.  I add the same types of ingredients to spice it up as I do for oatmeal.

For either oatmeal or cream of wheat, there are a few things you can do to make it special while cooking.  You can substitute half or all of the water with a nut milk.  If you do, watch it closely so it doesn’t burn, and also add a bit more milk than you would water.  I also always put a pinch of salt in.  If I am making Farina, I occasionally add a TBSP of sugar for two servings, when my sweet tooth is talking to me.  I also love to add a bit of vanilla extract to the mix.  I think it gives a lovely, homey feeling to the pot.  I would add cinnamon while I make it, but Bruce hates it, so I add it afterwards.  If your family would enjoy it, add it while cooking.  I think it blends better that way.  Look at this pot of yummy goodness cooking up:

These are the type of ingredients I keep in my pantry as toppings for oatmeal, cream of wheat, ice cream, yogurt, and fruit salad.

So, let’s talk about how to make oatmeal and cream of wheat extra special, rather than just a bowl of sugary blandness.  I usually do not add sugar to my oatmeal, with a few exceptions here or there of course.  For the most part, I add flavor, texture, and sweetness with berries, nuts, seeds, and sometimes chocolate syrup.  Oh, yeah, baby!  Here are a few of my favorite breakfast bowls from the last few months:

I called this one “Banana Split”.  On top of my oatmeal, I added freshly sliced strawberries and bananas, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds.  Over that I added a drizzle of vegan chocolate syrup and a dollop of coco-whip.  It was amazing.  I also used these toppings over soy yogurt and almond ice cream that week.  🙂

This “Chunky Monkey” bowl combined bananas and peanut butter (a favorite combo of mine).  Then I added pistachios and chia seeds and topped it off with dried cranberries.  Om nom nom.

My “Spiced Apple” bowl has a combination of diced apples, raisins, peanut butter, cinnamon, and Vanilla Silk creamer over the top.  I can’t recommend this one highly enough.  It was amazing.

If I am every worried that I won’t use my berries in time, I throw them in the freezer.  That way I can add them to oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes or muffins later and they won’t go to waste. This bowl of farina helped me use up some of my frozen blueberries.  I added pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds.  I love the blue and green colors together.

I like the process of making my breakfast bowls look pretty.  This morning, I decided a “Berry Mandala” was what I needed.  I added nuts and seeds and some cacao nibs.  It looked beautiful both before and after I stirred it up.  I also added a little Vanilla Silk creamer to this one, because I wanted extra gooeyness (that’s a word, right?).

Last but not least, let’s admit that some mornings, you just want a quick hot bowl and don’t have time to stand over a pot for 5 minutes.  It’s perfectly okay to make instant oatmeal sometimes.  It may not be pretty, but it is still tasty and comforting. We’ll call this one the “Ugly Duckling”.

Do you have any favorite toppings for your hot breakfast bowls? I love trying new things!

 

 


Tofu Breakfast Hash

I grew up in a Mennonite household, so we ate dishes that some other families didn’t eat.  Those foods in particular are the ones I remember most from my childhood.  A lot of my mom’s recipes were from her mother or my father’s mother, and because both my parents grew up in Amish households many of the recipes leaned toward German style cooking.  I can certainly say it was a “meat and potatoes” menu for the large part.  Of course, because we lived in farm country, we always had access to fresh milk and eggs, so we consumed large amounts of those as well.  Luckily, my parents had huge gardens most summers, so we also ate a lot of fresh and home-canned fruits and veggies.  While I don’t miss consuming animal products, I used to miss the comfort that eating the food I grew up on provided.  When I first went vegan, I had no idea how to veganize recipes; but over the last five years, I have learned a lot.  So now, when I think of a dish from my childhood and feel that nostalgia, I sit down and figure out how to make it vegan.  Today’s breakfast was one of those dishes.

Interestingly, I can remember my dad making this dish more than my mom.  It was one of his special recipes.  He would chop up onions and garlic, and fry them in a pan full of shredded potatoes.  Once they were nice and brown, he would break a few eggs over the top of the whole mixture and fry until the eggs were cooked through.  He or my mom would cook the potatoes the night before and shred them by hand just before frying.  I am more of a semi-homemade kind of cook, so I typically just by pre-shredded potatoes at the store.  Kudos to all you cooks who enjoy the cook-from-scratch concept, I just don’t have make the time for that.

This recipe is very quick and easy if you use some shortcuts.  It took me about 15 minutes this morning.  The first thing I did was pour myself some coffee.  I have a new favorite combination: Stok Chocolate Iced Coffee paired with Coffee Mate natural bliss Almond Milk Caramel Creamer.  I was away for a few days at a Marketing Event, so I didn’t have time to home-brew a batch.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I found chocolate coffee.  This coffee is so good, I could drink it black.  If you must have creamer, the key is not to put too much creamer in, or it will cover the wonderful chocolate flavor.

After a few sips of coffee, I was ready to tackle breakfast.  I always have onions and garlic on hand.  Who lives without fresh onions and garlic?  If you do, stop everything you are doing and go get some right now.  Life is so much tastier with fresh onions and garlic in it.  If you don’t like chopping and mincing, you can by onions pre-chopped and Gourmet Garden garlic paste in a tube.  I will not buy pre-minced garlic in a jar.  It just freaks me out.  But I love this garlic paste and use it all the time.  I happen to like chopping onions, so I don’t buy pre-chopped onions.

For this recipe, I used Earth Balance butter.  My folks always used butter for this dish, and I wanted to get as close as possible to the “real deal”.  I melted the butter in the pan on medium-low heat, then added the onion and let it saute for a few minutes before adding the garlic.  I am a huge garlic fan, so I wasn’t shy with it.  You can adjust your garlic to your own taste preference.  The garlic only needs about a minute before you add the shredded potatoes.  Once the potatoes are in, add salt and pepper to taste and give them a chance to brown up.  I stir everything around a bit until it’s a light golden brown color.  After that it’s time to add your tofu.

I seasoned my tofu for this recipe just like I do for my sunny side up tofu sandwich, with a little turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper.  I am really enjoying the flavor combination right now, and I don’t have all of my usual spices anyway, since I am at Skylar’s house.  First press (with a paper towel) to remove excess moisture, then crumble the tofu.  After that sprinkle it with your spices and mix with your fingers.  Make some space in your pan and add the tofu in with the rest of your ingredients.  I gave it another three minutes, stirring as necessary until it was heated through and golden brown.  Then it was time to eat! I didn’t have any fresh parsley or cilantro to throw on top this morning, (I really need to go grocery shopping), but I have broccoli in the fridge, so I cut off the very end of a floret and sprinkled it over the top.  Delicious and pretty!

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic (or equivalent paste)
  • 3/4 cup shredded potato
  • 2-3 ounces extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
  • Dash of Paprika
  • 1/8 TSP Turmeric
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Heat butter on medium-low.  Add onion, saute for 3 minutes.  Add garlic, saute for a minute.  Add shredded potatoes, salt and pepper, fry until light golden brown (3-5 mins). Add pressed, crumbled, and seasoned tofu, fry another 3 minutes or until all ingredients are heated through and golden brown.  Plate with fresh tomato and herbs (or broccoli).

I hope you enjoy this veganized version of one of my childhood favorites.  The turmeric gives it a slightly Indian vibe, which I love.  Turmeric also happens to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant.  It is best absorbed into the body when paired with black pepper and a bit of fat. Happily, this dish has both for premium absorption.  You also have protein and potassium in this meal.  Enjoy your comforting and healthy breakfast!