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Lemon Vanilla French Toast with Strawberries

April 18, 2018
Healthy, dairy free french toast perfect for spring with lemon, vanilla, and strawberries. Try this for mother's day, or anytime you want to have a fancy (but still easy) breakfast!

Okay so I've been absent for a little while! Here's the deal. Graham and I got married on Friday, for real, so I took a couple days off to plan and celebrate. Then on Monday I had some problems with a rapid drop in blood pressure which resulted in me not leaving the couch for two days, and I'm still not quite back to normal. And Graham just finished up his master's application documents which I've been helping with for the past week or so during all of this, along with packing up to move out of our apartment this coming weekend. It's all a bit crazy! I'm not sure how much I'll post before Monday but fingers crossed I can get one or two more new recipes in before then, and from then on things should be just about back to normal. 

In other news, the weather has been amazing and all the leaves have suddenly popped out over the past few days - I'm going to miss our amazing view over the canal now that everything's green again! I don't feel crazy attached to this house but it has been our home for the past year and a half, and I'll definitely miss living in this awesome neighbourhood. If anyone's reading this from Groningen, shoot me a message, because we'll be moving there soon! I doubt anyone is, hah. 

One more thing just before I get to the recipe. If you're a blogger or food photographer reading this, Heidi of The Simple Green and I recently started a group to support other veggie-based bloggers/photographers/etc. and here's the link if you'd like to join. The goal is to provide a very open space to talk about photography, working as a plant-forward blogger, tips and tricks, and so on. Everything out in the open because sometimes it's so hard to find helpful information and support in this field of work!

So, french toast! Healthier, dairy-free french toast, that is. I made this with leftover vegan lemon vanilla challah that I made a million times before Easter (and yet under baked the one I actually brought to Easter brunch, ridiculous). Of course I've made this with that particular bread in mind, but you do add lemon zest and vanilla to the egg mixture to make sure those flavours come through, so you could easily use another challah or brioche instead. If you want a vegan french toast, try using this as the base recipe and add the lemon and vanilla. I haven't personally tried it but I trust Love and Lemons - I'll post a vegan french toast recipe at some point! My digestion gets along pretty well with eggs but we often don't have them in the house, so an egg-free version would be handy.

To keep this mostly breakfast-friendly, I topped my stack with coconut yogurt instead of whipped cream and lots of strawberries, plus a tiny sprinkle coconut and of dark chocolate (why not). French toast is the best, especially at this time of year, and even though it takes hardly any time to make it's always special. I think I like it even more than waffles and pancakes

Let's connect! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you're making, and stay in touch via Facebook, pinterest, and Bloglovin, or subscribe to receive weekly updates.

Lemon Vanilla French Toast with Strawberries
Serves 4-6

1 loaf vegan lemon vanilla challah or another challah/brioche, cut into 3cm/1in slices
375ml / 1 1/2 cups nondairy milk (I use oat)
4 eggs*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of a lemon
Coconut oil, for cooking

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest. Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture, letting them soak for a minute each side.

Heat a large pan over medium heat with about a teaspoon of coconut oil. Once the pan is hot, cook 2-3 slices of french toast at a time, until golden, about 3 minutes each side. Repeat until all of the bread has been used. Serve immediately with coconut yogurt, strawberries, and maple syrup.

* The eggs I use are closer to medium in size compared to North American eggs, but large will be fine.

Vegan Pesto Broccoli Pizza

April 11, 2018
Vegan pesto pizza with broccoli, rucola, and cherry tomatoes - lots of fresh flavours, piles of greens, & no weird fake cheese!

Since ditching cheese, I've tried to think of creative ways to enjoy pizza without that main element. Hummus pizza is a favourite to emulate the cheesy flavour but at this time of year, and throughout the spring and summer, vegan pesto jumps to the top of my list. I used the wild garlic pesto I posted yesterday for this pizza and it's awesome. Regular basil-based pesto will be just as good and if you're a little skeptical of broccoli on pizza, it's embracing the hippie plant-based direction this recipe is heading in, hah. I would never have even considered eating this a few years ago - so if you think a super green pizza is going too far, you never know! My go-to used to be triple cheese pineapple, seriously.

I used a basic sourdough spelt pizza dough here, but you can use any base you like - naan is a favourite around here (and would make this into a 15 minute meal), or try a gluten-free cauliflower or broccoli crust. This recipe isn't so much about the base as about the toppings, so although I have included a dough recipe, it's something that can easily be switched around to suit your preferences. Apart from the crust, you're looking at four main ingredients - pesto, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and rucola or another baby green. Super simple and awesome. 

For this recipe I like to keep the crust a bit thicker, more like an American style pizza and less crunchy flat bread, so it just makes one pizza. I usually have one piece (they're huge, though) and that's it though so I'm thinking this'll feed four not-starving people but who knows, really. I have no idea how much you eat.

Let's connect! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you're making, and stay in touch via Facebook, pinterest, and Bloglovin, or subscribe to receive weekly updates.

Vegan Pesto Broccoli Pizza
Serves 2-4 / makes one large pizza

Spelt Sourdough Crust (from my winter vegetable pizza)

330 grams / 2 1/2 cups spelt flour, separated
250 ml / 1 cup water
80 grams / 1/4 cup starter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
250 grams / 1 cup wild garlic pesto or another pesto, a few spoonfuls reserved
100 grams / 1 cup broccoli florets
8 cherry tomatoes, halved, plus extra for topping
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large handful rucola
Sunflower seeds
Hemp hearts
In a large bowl, mix 130 grams / 1 cup of the flour with the water, starter, oil, salt, and sugar. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough becomes too difficult to stir with a wooden spoon. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, for about five minutes or until a smooth dough forms. 
Place the dough into a clean, greased bowl and cover with a plate or board. Let it sit at room temperature for 18-24 hours to rise. Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 200C / 400F, grease two baking sheets, and sprinkle some cornmeal or flour onto them.
Place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and use your hands to press and stretch it into a rough oval, a couple of centimetres thick. Let it rest for about half an hour, covered, then spread with the pesto, and top with broccoli, tomatoes, and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Top with additional cherry tomatoes, rucola, a few dollops of pesto and seeds. Serve hot.

Wild Garlic Hemp and Sunflower Seed Pesto

April 10, 2018
Vegan and nut free wild garlic (ramson or bärlauch) pesto made with hemp & sunflower seeds. No cheese, no nutritional yeast, no problem.

Wild garlic or ramsons (bärlauch, literally bear leek in German) are everywhere at this time of year. It's the first edible thing, really, to pop up in the spring and people are obsessed for the first little while before everyone gets sick of it closer to the end of the season. This vegan pesto is a great way to use the abundance of wild garlic, even if you don't get tired of it. It's on the thicker side, so it can be used as a sandwich spread as well as in pasta, pizza, and wherever else you'd usually use pesto. The paler green colour is because it has a pile of seeds in it - which also makes it surprisingly high in protein - and the flavour of the wild garlic comes through without being overwhelming. There are piles of sunflower seed based sandwich breads available here and this is a bit like that, but not quite as thick.

I haven't shared very many recipes with wild garlic, but this spring greens salad with an avocado wild garlic sauce is a favourite from last year. Keep your eyes open for a pesto pizza coming up tomorrow, though, and maybe some more wild garlic recipes before the season is over! I haven't been able to find any in the woods but a friend transplanted some in her garden several years ago and they've gone wild, so she has more than she can use. Lucky me, hey? I'll definitely have a patch in my future dream garden, whenever (if ever) that happens, hah.

If you live in the US or Canada, you might be more familiar with ramps, not ramsons. Ramps are wild leeks but the flavour is very similar and they can be used interchangeably in this recipe. They can be found pretty readily at farmer's markets around this time of year, maybe a little later depending on where you live, and have risen in popularity in the last few years. They're more common further east than in western areas, so if you see some, snatch them up and make some pesto!

Let's connect! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you're making, and stay in touch via Facebook, pinterest, and Bloglovin, or subscribe to receive weekly updates.

Wild Garlic Hemp and Sunflower Seed Pesto
Makes about one cup

70 grams / 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
40 grams / 1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
30 grams / 1 cup wild garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of coconut sugar
2 lemons, juice (~1/3 cup)
60 ml / 1/4 cup olive oil

Add the seeds, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, and lemon juice to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend on high until mostly smooth, and then add the olive oil in a slow drizzle while blending until combined. Continue to mix until as smooth as possible.

Serve mixed with pasta, on bread, pizza, or crackers, or mix into salad dressing. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

• My food processor isn't particularly strong, so my pesto isn't completely smooth. It's still good but a high powered processor will likely result in a smoother texture.

Healthy Carrot Bread with Dates and Olive Oil

April 09, 2018
Fruit-sweetened whole grain carrot bread flavoured with dates, banana, and ginger makes for a healthy, delicious breakfast or snack. Vegan and sugar-free.

Mondays need snacks, right? Grab and go breakfasts, too, because everyone runs a little behind at the start of the week. Even though I work from home and don't usually end up taking weekends off, I feel like I'm a little slower on a Monday too. Usually I try to make some easy snack/breakfast foods to have around for that pre-lunch slump and this carrot bread is a treat. Even though it's totally whole grain, made with spelt flour, and sugar free, it feels a bit like carrot cake. Especially with the coconut yogurt glaze on top (with just three ingredients) although it's best served right away if you do glaze it.

This is adapted from my morning glory carrot muffins, but a little more cake-like even though the ingredients are wholesome. Leaving the seeds out and tossing a banana in for sweetness adds a little bit of a dessert feeling. Most of all, I can't get over how amazing the texture of this bread is. I don't know why I still expect gumminess when I do fruit sweetened recipes, since I've been experimenting with it so much lately with awesome results. 

The original plan here was to go with very classic carrot cake flavours, cinnamon and maybe a little nutmeg. Ginger and carrots are best buds, though, and adding a little fresh ginger gives it a bit of spice and makes everything more exciting in the carrot bread department. Stick with fresh unless you absolutely have to use dried - it really makes a difference. I'm a big fan of olive oil in quick breads like this, because I think the flavour combines well with the other fruits/veggies, but I have made it with other oils if you're worried it'll be bitter. Olive oil was by far my favourite so it's what's listed in the instructions.

The first iteration of this carrot loaf was terrible. Soggy, dense, and all-around awful. I think we only got through half of it and ended up composting the rest, which hardly ever happens. A few tweaks and tests later, it's well worth trying and right up there with banana bread in my books - tied with my sunflower seed banana bread. If you're looking for something a little different but still well within the comfort-food snack zone, this recipe has you covered. 

Let's connect! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you're making, and stay in touch via Facebook, pinterest, and Bloglovin, or subscribe to receive weekly updates.

Healthy Carrot Bread with Dates and Olive Oil
Makes one loaf

280 grams / 2 cups whole grain spelt flour*
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium overripe banana
120 grams / 1/2 cup soft dates*
60 ml / 1/4 cup olive oil
250 ml / 1 cup nondairy milk (oat, almond)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
200 grams / 1 cup packed shredded carrots

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and grease a standard loaf tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a food processor, blend the banana, dates, and olive oil until smooth. Add the milk and ginger, then pulse to combine. Alternatively, you can blend them all in a high-powered blender together if you have one. Stir in the shredded carrots.

Add the date mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Place the batter into the prepared baking tin, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing the bread from the tin and cooling completely on a rack. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for 3-5 days.

Coconut Yogurt Glaze

60 ml / 1/4 cup thick coconut yogurt
Juice of a lemon (~3 tablespoons)
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (to taste)

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk with a fork until combined. Drizzle over the cooled loaf and serve immediately. The glaze will soak in after about an hour, so if you're going to save it for later, just add it to individual slices straight from the refrigerator.

• Coconut oil is a good option for greasing tins, and I think using a little oil makes it taste better in the end, but you can also line your tin with parchment paper.

1. It's great with whole grain flour, and the spelt lends a nice nutty flavour. I have tried this with light spelt flour with good results and I'm sure other types of flour would work as well (I beg you, don't try subbing in coconut flour. Ever). 

Sunday Favourites

April 08, 2018

Hi and I hope you're having a great weekend! Welcome to a new Sunday favourites. It was above 30C today (crazy!) and it's officially spring now - everything popped right up this weekend after a bit of a cold start to the season. This past week I shared a few new recipes, a couple that are in this week's dinner roundup below, lemon cardamom pancakes, and a chocolate quinoa bar you guys are loving so far.

Coming up this week I'll have a bunch of springtime recipes, with at least a couple featuring one of my favourite ingredients from this time of year, wild garlic! A wild garlic pesto and a pizza for sure, plus an awesome carrot loaf that we finished within a day, once I got the recipe right. I'm starting to see some absolutely beautiful seasonal recipes coming from other bloggers and I'm sharing my favourites from this past week with you, so I hope you love them too. 

On a more personal note, Graham and I know now that we'll be moving to Holland this autumn for sure now, which is a big weight off my chest! It makes everything much easier to plan now that there's a set place.

Link love:

Nettle Infusions for Energy, Vitality, and Allergy Relief • nettle is the best, and often overlooked as an irritating weed. This is one of many ways to use it for overall health, and it's so easy.

Vegan Rhubarb Almond Tart • braiding rhubarb might be a big thing this spring thanks to Eva, and it's gorgeous. This jumped right to the top of my to-make list once I can get some rhubarb.

Creamy Butterbean Hummus Two Ways • why not try butterbeans for hummus? This recipe roasts up some seasonal veg and serves the hummus with pesto, and makes a pesto hummus pizza. Both great.

Banana Pecan Oat Waffles • gluten free blender waffles made with rolled oats and pecans - this should be a kitchen staple, really.

Sprouted Mung Bean Curry • this is from a New Zealand blog so it's meant for autumn, but I'd be happy to have it in the spring as well. It's a great base recipe to have around and combine with seasonal veggies. 

For dinner this week:

Monday: Cucumber and Lentil Salad Topped Socca

Tuesday: Luxe Butternut Squash Hummus Mac and Cheese

Wednesday: Colourful Late Spring Salad

Thursday: Moroccan Quinoa, Carrot, and Chickpea Salad

Friday: Creamy Hummus and Greens Pasta

Thanks for reading! If you make any of the recipes, please tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you're making, or stay in touch via Facebook, pinterest, and Bloglovin