Vegan Chocolate Pudding

I have a robust sweet tooth. For years I’ve been purchasing my sweets. My go-tos were frozen yogurt bars and bittersweet chocolate, with the occasional pint of lactose free ice cream thrown in. But recently, I listened to a Science Vs. podcast episode on processed foods. The episode featured a scientist describing ultra-processed foods as Clorox for your gut, taking all the good bacteria with them as they went through. That image really stuck with me. I have a lot of issues with my gut. So I decided to start making my own desserts.

This recipe for “vegan chocolate pudding” was my first attempt. The recipe calls for Mexican spices, but since I had fruit in the chococate I was using, I left those spices out. I used 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the 3/4 cup called for and found that to be enough. But I like super dark bittersweet chocolate. The recipe is ridiculously simple, essentially just chocolate, sugar, and silken tofu. But oh my goodness the result. It wasn’t really a pudding, but rather an ultra thick, rich, chocolate mousse. The kind that you only need a bit of to feel satisfied. I think in order to make it more like a pudding, you’d need to add an extra 4 oz of silken tofu.

I honestly cannot believe how good this was. I particularly enjoyed dipping strawberries in it. And amazingly, it was so rich that I found I had fewer sweets cravings throughout the day when I ate a bit of this at night. So far my homemade desserts experiment is looking like a success.

Next time I’m going to use baking chocolate so that I can better control the sweetness level. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Vegetarian Pho

I fell in love with pho while living in D.C. A restaurant called Pho 14 in Columbia Heights serves a delicious vegetarian pho made with a broth made from fuji apples. After I moved to North Carolina I found myself craving that pho and unable to find anything like it. Most pho restaurants that attempt a vegetarian pho broth use something that tastes like mock chicken broth to me. Not at all what I was missing. I decided to try to make it myself. I started by googling “fuji apple pho recipe”. This took me to this blog https://southofparadise.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/vegetarian-pho-with-homemade-fuji-apple-broth/. The person writing it was in the same position as me. Trying to recreate a beloved restaurant meal without any recipe. Using this recipe as a starting place, I’ve been tinkering with the recipe for the last five years, adding in some elements from this recipe when it was published a few years ago https://food52.com/blog/19080-how-pho-genius-andrea-nguyen-makes-a-richer-vegan-broth.

Here is the result.

Broth:

7 Fuji Apples (cut in half)

2 Carrots

1 Onion

3 celery stocks

10 peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds

3 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

2 cloves

  1. Put all the ingredients into an instant pot or a 6 quart slow cooker.
  2. Fill it up with water, leaving 1-2 inches of space at the top
  3. Cook on high (if your slow cooker has settings) for 10 hours

The idea behind this broth recipe is to make a concentrated broth so that it can be stores easily or combined with boiling water for a hot bowl of pho without having to microwave the broth. I put the broth in jars in the freezer and enjoy pho all season without having to constantly make more broth. I find that the right combination of water to broth is 1/3 broth 2/3 water.

Once you have the broth made, there’s only one more thing you need to make ahead of time before you’re ready for an almost instant delicious weeknight dinner: the tofu. I played around with various options for recreating the delicious deep fried tofu found in pho restaurants. I’ve actually decided that the best no deep-fry option is to bake the tofu. The tofu comes out crispy and tough. It’s not the same as restaurant tofu but it gives me the same textural satisfaction in the bowl. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit
  2. Cut a block of medium tofu into 2/3 inch squares
  3. Put 1 tsp of canola oil on a cookie sheet and spread it around.
  4. Put the tofu on the cookie sheet and spread it around flipping it on all sides to make sure all sides get coated in oil
  5. Cook the tofu, flipping it halfway through, until all sides are golden.

Now you’re ready for almost instant weeknight pho. Here’s how I do it. The proportions are for 1 large bowl of pho.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup of pho broth, left out to room temperature

1 cup Broccoli, in bite size pieces

1/2 Carrot, cut into 1/4 inch slices

4 Dried mushroom, in bite size pieces

1/2 cup Vermicelli rice noodles

1/5 block cooked tofu

Basil

Bean sprouts

Siracha

Hoison Sauce

Lime or lemon juice

  1. Boil 3 cups of water (I do this in a kettle)
  2. Put rice noodles into a heat-proof large bowl or pot, breaking them up so that each piece is 2 inches long
  3. Add the veggies to the bowl
  4. Add 2 tsp of soy sauce to the bowl
  5. Once the water is boiling, pour it into the bowl with the noodles and veggies
  6. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until everything is soft
  7. While ingredients are soaking, boil another 1 1/3 cup water
  8. Put the soft veggies and noodles, along with the tofu, into the bowl with the broth
  9. Pour in the boiling water
  10. Add lemon juice, hoison, siracha, basil, and bean sprouts as desired

Black Bean Tostadas with Cherry Tomato Salsa

This recipe is from page 162 of Fresh Food Fast. I don’t actually make this recipe as intended, as tostadas. But the black bean seitan mixture is an all time favorite for me. About as meaty, fulfilling, and indulgent as vegetarian recipes get. I skip the tostada shells and just make the filling with cherry tomato salsa on the side. I make it with homemade seitan and dried black beans. You’re welcome. You’ll be eating this all week.

Lemon Walnut Hummus

I’ve made hummus at home tons of time. It’s always good, never great. Then I ventured into this walnut hummus recipe from page 35 of Fresh Food Fast and…oh I couldn’t get enough. No more hummus leftovers growing mold in the back of my fridge. I think the secret of the amazing flavor is in toasting the walnuts before adding them to the hummus. It creates a surprising warmth of flavor that I don’t get in standard sesame hummus. I try to avoid using the oven in summer. I used the toaster oven to toast the walnuts and was happy with the results. I’ll definitely be making this again.