Same old song-and-dance: where have I been?

I thought I was on a role with the blog. I was creating good stuff and getting good engagement. Then I started my dance course in the summer, then I decided to take some time off. Then dance started again. And, well… here we are.

There’s two main reasons I’ve stepped away from UG this time, neither of which are really rocket science, but I thought I’d explain anyway:

  1. I’m busy! I got a promotion at work (woo hoo!) and am generally taking on a lot more and don’t have a lot of time for mental breaks during the day. Our whole team is working hard and supporting each other, but frankly, whereas I used to get some blog writing done on my lunch breaks, my lunch breaks have turned into “catch-up-on-emails-and-get-some-story-assignments-out-of-the-way” hour. Is that ideal for anyone? Nope. But it’s reality. And when I’m not doing that, well, I just don’t want to write anymore! In fact, when I get home now, I’m even more driven to be physically active. I am much happier at the gym right now than I am sitting at a computer at night. I already sit at a computer all day!
  2. I haven’t been cooking that creatively lately. I want to avoid using terms like “rut” and “uninspired” because we are indeed having a lot of fun in the kitchen. It’s simply that I’m not cooking much that I’ve never cooked/shared with you guys before. I’m either making something I’ve previously made for UG (my tofu bites are probably made most often) or making something from another great blogger’s site/cookbook. I’ve always said, I have no desire to tell you how to make avocado toast (or something similarly simple). I want to share things that are actually original and innovative, while fitting in with my lifestyle.

There’s a third sort-of reason: it’s grown admittedly difficult to feel motivated to take extra time to write for a blog that I’m literally not allowed to monetize. It’s not like I was getting crazy traffic and generating crazy ad revenue, but not even having the option open to me is somewhat demoralizing.

We all have hobbies and most people don’t need our hobbies to make us money, but when something is not your job, it’s easier for you to say, “no, I don’t feel like doing this today.” And so, I’ve had a big, long stream of not wanting to write for my blog, not wanting to come up with new foods, not wanting to stick to a schedule, not wanting to learn to get better at photography (it’s just so hard, guys…).

So what’s different this time? Well, not much, and as always, I can’t guarantee that at some point I might not just decide to make off into the night again.

But I’ve been living what is possibly my most healthy lifestyle ever. I’ve gotten hugely into lifting and fitness and have successfully built up more muscle than I’ve ever had in my life (I’m still lean, because that’s how my body is, but I look and feel strong now, which is crazy to me). I wanted to start sharing some of the recipes that have helped along the way.

Of course, I also want to share some of the more fun, fat-filled, calorific treats we’ve come up with together. I’ve spent the last few months trying to veganize some of my Mom’s classics (with mixed results) and can’t wait to share those with you as well. But for today, we’ll keep it to my very athletic creations!

This is an updated spin on my garden veggie chickpea omelette, but it’s even higher in protein and less complicated. Woo hoo!

The secret here is a little vital wheat gluten, which gives a nice boost in calories, protein and texture while still not conflicting with the tender, eggy taste of a chickpea omelette.

I always thought I didn’t have time to make pancakes in the morning, but this comes together lickety-split. You can also do a make-ahead batch to make it even easier!

The ultimate savoury protein pancake

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 9-11 minutes
Serves: 1
Nutritional info: Nut-free, soy-free option, gluten-free option

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black salt (optional)
  • ½ cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
  • A small handful of green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tbsp-¼ cup water, as needed

Notes:

  • To make this a gluten-free, omit the wheat gluten and replace with more chickpea flour. This will lower the protein content (and calories) of the pancake and will make it denser, altering the amount of time you need to flip it.
  • To make this recipe soy-free, replace the soy milk with another unsweetened non-dairy milk or more water. However, unless you are adding hemp milk or pea milk, you will decrease the protein content.
  • The veggies here are merely suggestions, go with your faves – red peppers, spinach or kale, or shredded carrots are a great option for me!
  • Black salt, or kala namak, can be difficult to find in stores, even bulk stores. I recommend searching Indian grocers (in Toronto, you can find them at BJ Supermarket in the East end, and Carlo’s House of Spice in Kensington). Some people buy it online. It’s just a fine, pinkish-grey salt that gives that sulfur-like taste and smell reminiscent of eggs.

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Heat a small amount of oil or vegan butter in the pan (I use a quick spray of avocado oil)
  2. Add in your veggies, starting with the thickest/crunchiest, and sautée for about five minutes or until glossy and fragrant. Always add greens in last and sautee for one to two minutes max.
  3. While the veggies are sautéeing, add the dry ingredients together and whisk to combine. Add in the milk, whisking thoroughly, then finally add in the water 1 tbsp at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  4. When the veggies are cooked to your liking, remove them from the pan and add to your mixture. Pour the pancake mixture back into the pan.
  5. Cook for about three minutes each side. If you have used the vital wheat gluten, there will be bubbles that break through to the top. Use a combination of lots of bubbles and visibly firming edges to know when it’s time to flip. If you chose to omit the gluten, you’ll have to go mostly by the edges and ease of lift.
  6. Serve immediately. Enjoy with hot sauce, fresh herbs, or vegan cheese if you’re nasty!

If you’re trying to bulk, I’d highly recommend serving with vegan cheese or some avocado, or vegan yogurt on the side, and if you’re heading to the gym, you’ll want to have alongside a fruit salad or whole grain toast for some healthy carbs!

To cut down even more on the morning kitchen time, here’s a batch of four that I’ll usually make on Sunday nights:

Make-ahead batch:

  • 1 ⅓ cup chickpea flour
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black salt (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste