Oatmeal cakes with berries

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It’s Victoria Day here in Canada so I thought I’d make something special for breakfast. My kids would be disappointed if I made anything but pancakes but I wanted something different. These pancakes are made with oats.

They are as hearty as you’d expect from a bowl of oatmeal and more nutritious than your average pancake. Topped with berries, they were delicious and the kids were so happy to see I had made pancakes for breakfast!

 

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The recipe comes from Thug Kitchen. It’s quite simple: let the oats soak up almond milk for a few minutes before adding the rest of the dry ingredients and fry them up like pancakes. Next time, I’ll make a double batch – they disappeared too quickly with a family of four.

The berry sauce is simply simmered berries in a bit of sugar, fresh lemon juice, splash of water and vanilla extract. Thug Kitchen calls for blueberries but I had this frozen berry mix with cherries, blackberries and blueberries that the kids love. They’re full of antioxidants and flavour.

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For those of you who are here in Canada, have a great long weekend! We’ll be heading out for a nice, long bike ride as a family with peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch along the way. I hope you’re making memories too!

Tofu Florentine with home fries

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We don’t have a lot of Easter traditions because we don’t eat eggs (or decorate with them) and we’re not religious. Rather, we use this weekend to celebrate the coming of Spring. It’s not always here on Easter weekend but early signs are everywhere. The snow is gone and the robins are back with their trilling birdsongs. When the sun comes out, it’s really nice to be outside. I even put my super warm winter coat away – though our light winter coats are still needed.

This morning, the kids played together nicely enough for me to sleep in. And when I got up, I craved this breakfast that I used to make often before the kids were born. It’s one or two steps too many for most weekend breakfasts (and the kids are often begging for pancakes or oatmeal) but with the extra sleep I got last night, I thought I’d make one of my favourite breakfasts.

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If you start the potatoes first, it isn’t time-consuming to make. Start by boiling the potatoes. While the tofu is broiling, fry an onion until golden, add the potatoes and whatever spices you like. Steam the spinach and make the hollandaise sauce. There are a lot of really nice vegan hollandaise sauces but this one is so simple that it’s always been my go to. Sometimes, simplicity just wins.

Hollandaise sauce

  • 2/3 cup vegan mayo
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  •  pinch cayenne
  • pinch turmeric
  • salt

Combine the ingredients. Done.

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Because I was generous with the cayenne, I topped my daughter’s breakfast with plain mayo (which I know she likes) and a sprinkling of paprika. My son won’t eat spinach or mayo so his english muffin is buttered and topped with tofu with the potatoes on the side. He’ll eat his veggies at another meal.

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Some day he’ll look at our meals and realize he’s missing out when he skips the veggies and sauce but we’re not there yet. That’s okay – we’ve got time. The truth is, we’re making progress and every month he becomes less strict about the foods he eats. Last month, he happily ate parsley and halved cherry tomatoes for the first time instead of just whole cherry tomatoes. I think this summer, we’ll win him over to regular-sized tomatoes. Fingers-crossed!

Happy Easter everyone! How do you celebrate?

Sweet potato biscuits and breakfast sandwiches

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Before I had kids, I used to make biscuits every weekend. They’re easy to make and only take 15 minutes to bake in a hot oven. Even half asleep, I can whip these up quickly and have my butter melting on a fluffy, crumbly biscuit to have with my morning coffee.

I don’t make them nearly as often now because as soon as I walk into the kitchen on weekend mornings, my kids are asking for pancakes. But I made a double batch of pancakes yesterday so when I walked into the kitchen this morning, my daughter was pouring maple syrup on leftover pancakes and quite happy with her breakfast.

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We had some leftover sweet potatoes so I worked them into the biscuits for a special treat. They were delicious!

Sweet potato biscuits

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Preheat the oven to 425. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a medium-sized bowl, mash the sweet potato and mix with the butter. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until the butter and sweet potato mix is evenly distributed throughout. There should be small clumps – this will make the biscuits fluffy when the butter melts. Add the milk and mix until the dough is evenly moistened.

Form the dough into 8 large biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes.

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For the breakfast sandwiches, I had marinated some tofu before I started the biscuits. I sliced the tofu into four thin slices and then in half to make 8 squares. I marinated them in soy sauce, turmeric and dijon mustard with a bit of water. Once the biscuits were finished, I fried the tofu.

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My son’s breakfast was a deconstructed breakfast sandwich (a buttered biscuit with tofu on the side). My daughter’s sandwich is above – it has a slice of tofu, a slice of vegan lunchmeat and a slice of Daiya cheese. My husband and I had ours with an herbed cheese made with coconut milk. Served with coffee, of course!

 

Pumpkin and apple spiced pancakes

vegan pancakes
Pumpkin apple spiced pancakes are as good as they look.

Yesterday, my husband made a really nice tofu scramble with onions and peppers, and put the whole thing in under the broiler to melt some gooey vegan cheese on top. When he brought it to the table with a bit of pomp and ceremony, my son said, “When can we ever have pancakes again?!”

So for breakfast this morning, I made a huge stack of pancakes. And because I had some canned pumpkin left in the freezer after making the peanut butter balls, I thought I’d use it up in my pancakes. What’s better than pumpkin pancakes? Pancakes with the flavours of my two favourite pies: pumpkin and apple.

The combination works. Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a dash of cloves combine to make a heavenly treat smothered in maple syrup. This recipe was inspired by the pumpkin pancake recipe in Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For–From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes. It’s a great book to have on your bookshelf. I highly recommend it!

vegan pancakes

Pumpkin and apple spiced pancakes

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cup vegan milk (I used soy so I could send leftovers to school)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, if you have it, or ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves

Preheat a griddle so it’s nice and hot when the pancake mix is ready. I like it really hot and grease it lightly with oil before cooking the pancakes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. add the dry ingredients and stir to combine – try to eliminate the clumps but don’t stir too much or the pancakes won’t have a nice texture.

I like to make lots of small pancakes – I can cook the batch more quickly and I know they’ll be cooked nicely in the middle. Spread about 1/3 cup of batter on the griddle and push it around so it’s not too thick. The batter will stick to the griddle until it’s cooked so don’t mess with it until you see that the sides are looking cooked and it’s bubbling in the middle. Flip and cook the other side.

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If you’re thinking this stack looks too big for a family of four, it’s hard to predict how much the kids will eat. Sometimes they just eat and eat. But I make the huge stack because I save the extras for snacks and breakfasts during the week.

They can be frozen and popped in the toaster for an easy weekday breakfast. They can be stored in the fridge for the kids to help themselves to (you’d be amazed how quickly they get eaten when the kids know there’s a stack of pancakes in the fridge).

And they can be packed and sent to school as a snack. My kids will eat them at school without maple syrup – these pumpkin apple pancakes don’t need the added sweetness. You can send a little container of syrup if you trust your kids won’t get it everywhere!  My kids eat in their classrooms so I don’t dare take that chance.

Easy, nutritious breakfast to go

Quick vegan breakfast
Here’s a selection of breakfasts that can be taken to go.

I’ll be starting a new job soon, which means we’ll all have a new routine when school starts again. And no matter what that means, mine never has room for breakfast. Even if I did schedule myself some extra time to sit down, I’d rather drink my coffee and get going than sit down and eat breakfast. So I’ve come up with a breakfast that I can take with me and enjoy at my leisure (or destination).

We all know that breakfast is an important meal to eat if we want to be healthy. If you’re trying to watch your weight or eat more whole foods, these breakfast ideas will help kick start your day. They’re make-ahead, the ingredients are inexpensive and you can tweak them to your preferences.

The kids were thrilled when they saw my mason jars out – it has been a while since I’ve made this for them. I’ve included three options: hot oatmeal to go, overnight oats and chia seed pudding.

Hot oatmeal to go

This one takes no planning at all and on a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing better. All you require is a mason jar and oatmeal and you can adapt this recipe to suit the contents of your cupboards. (I’ve been known to take an extra 30 seconds on my way out the door to throw this breakfast together for myself.)

Use the 250 ml mason jar for an adult-sized breakfast. If you’re making some for the kids, use the tiny jars. The recipe below is for the adult-sized portion.

Hot oatmeal to go
Don’t overpay at the coffee shop, taking oatmeal to go is easy and you can guarantee the nuts aren’t stale!

Fill the jar just less than halfway with oatmeal – you can use instant, medium or large cut oats. I use the large ones because I prefer that texture but if you want the Starbucks’ style, use the instant oats. Add the ingredients below to your mason jar:

  • 2 tsp sweetener of choice (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp dried fruit
  • 1 Tbsp nuts or seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, matcha tea, etc.

Put the lid on and give it a good shake. When you want to eat, fill the mason jar with boiling water, put the lid back on and shake it around a bit. Set it down for a few minutes with the lid on to allow the hot water to cook the oatmeal. Mmmm! It goes well with that cup of coffee you finally get to sit down and drink!

Overnight oats

If you haven’t tried overnight oats, you’re really missing out! This is such an easy and creamy breakfast and you can change it up every day so you never get tired of it. Once again, everything can be changed according to your preferences. I prefer to use small frozen berries in my overnight oats. The small pieces means more fruit in every bite and doesn’t take up as much space in my mason jar. Jam works well too!

Overnight oats
Dress up your oatmeal however you’d like it. Just don’t forget to pack your spoon!
  • 1 Tbsp vegan yogurt (coconut is our favourite kind)
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp frozen fruit or jam (pomegranate seeds, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup oats (instant, medium or large cut oats all work well)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon or other spice
  • 3/4 cup of soy milk or other vegan milk
  • sweetener (optional)

Combine the ingredients in the jar, put the lid on and shake it well. Make sure the chia seeds are mixed in – use a spoon to stir if you have to. Check if you need to add some sweetener – it will depend on whether your milk and yogurt is sweetened or not. Leave them in the fridge overnight.

Chia seed pudding

Have you ever gone to pack your kids’ lunches when you realize you are out of snacks? Don’t panic. Chia seed pudding is almost as easy to pack as store-bought and the kids will love it! It also works well for a super creamy breakfast. I made these in the tiny jars for the kids.

Vegan pudding
Chia seed pudding is delicious and full of protein to power you through the morning.
  • 1 small jar that won’t spill
  • 1 Tbsp vegan yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fruit or jam (frozen berries work well)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk or other vegan milk
  • sweetener (if you’ve used unsweetened milk, yogurt and fruit)

Put all the ingredients in the jar and stir it well or shake it until well combined. Put it in the fridge and it will be thick and delicious by morning.

If you take a few minutes to shake up some breakfast before bed, it’s really easy to eat on the cheap even on the go. Since I make my own jam, I like to use a spoonful of jam in my oatmeal and chia seed puddings but you can use anything you have on hand such as banana, apple sauce, fresh fruit chopped into small pieces or anything you like. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jam French Toast

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Sandwiches ready to dredge according to the recipe.

I got a new cookbook over the holidays. I don’t know how the recipes will go over with the kids but it’s always nice to have a new book to draw inspiration from.

I did find a recipe that was failsafe. The kids start most days with peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  This recipe takes that sandwich to another level.

I spend summers making various kinds of jam to keep local, healthy preserves stocked in the pantry to last the winter. Right now, we have orange marmalade and red currant jelly on the go with rhubarb strawberry, pear, apple jam and many others on reserve. I used the red currant jelly for this French Toast.

When I called the kids to breakfast, I realized that my kids had never had French Toast. I had made various vegan versions of it before we had kids and wasn’t much of a fan of the soggy toast. We make pancakes all the time but not French Toast. When my daughter saw these, she remarked that they looked like bread pancakes. I didn’t realize they were living such sheltered lives!

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Frying the French toast.

This recipe is from The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore-Approved Vegan Recipes. Simply make the pb&j sandwiches, drudge them in the milky liquid and fry them until browned.

The end results were delicious and quite filling. As usual, I’m not adding the recipe because it’s not mine to share. But you could use any vegan French Toast recipe to make your own version of this breakfast treat. Like this one from Minimalist Baker.

My kids go to a French Immersion school. My daughter told us that one of her teachers has a t-shirt that says “I speak French Toast.” (It must have been on pyjama day.) Apparently someone in her class stuck her with a post-it note saying “I speak English muffin.” So thanks to this mornings’ breakfast, she finally gets the joke!

Enjoy!

French toast
Ready for the maple syrup.

 

Breakfast burritos with broccoli, red pepper, carrots and avocado

Broccoli, red pepper, onion and yellow carrots
Broccoli, red pepper, onion and yellow carrots

You might call this a power breakfast – burritos packed with veggies, tofu and plenty of nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a great flavour booster – we sprinkle it on popcorn and add it to sauces – and as the name suggests, it’s a nutritional powerhouse. If you haven’t tried it, look for it in the health food aisle of your local grocery store.

As you’ll see, there’s big chunks of onion in the veggie mix – that’s because my kids hate onions so whenever I cook with onions, I chop them in big chunks so they can easily be removed. It means the grown-ups tend to get extra onions but we’re okay with that. It saves a lot of whining and complaining – and that’s worth an extra helping of onions.

Getting a good mix of vitamins every day isn’t a problem for vegan kids since they eat a good variety of vegetables – more servings than most North Americans. As long as they’re drinking fortified milk, they’re getting the vitamin B12 they need (I take a supplement because I don’t drink soy milk regularly). My kids drink soy milk every day because it’s also a good source of protein.

They get protein from a variety of sources: beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, etc. are eaten at most meals. But the vegan diet tends to be low in fat. So I make sure they get a fair share by feeding them avocado, nuts and seeds along with the various oils I use when I cook.

breakfast burrito with vegetables and tofu
The burritos are filled with the vegetable mix (minus the onions), seasoned tofu and avocado.

It’s going to be a busy day for us – a quick lunch on the run since the kids have an art class at noon – so a power breakfast is a must. They’ll get their snacks too (a handful of nuts is my snack of choice for them when they complain of hunger when we’re running late for something).

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Little breakfast burrito for the little guy.

We also tried the PC Blue Menu’s Bacon Maple flavour Tempeh. My son doesn’t like tempeh but we make him try it whenever we cook it. He likes familiar tastes so I’ve found if I cook something he doesn’t like but he tastes it many times, he’ll eventually come to like it. We’re not there yet with this one. The rest of us enjoyed it.

vegan burrito with tempeh bacon
Breakfast burrito with tempeh

And we’re off to art class! What did you have for breakfast?