THE WASHINGTON POST – Charity Morgan wants to meet people where they are. That’s why the plant-based chef for athletes and celebrities fills her first cookbook with recipes for vegan versions of comfort-food favourites. She doesn’t want anyone who wants to avoid animal products – for a night, a month or a lifetime – to give up over an obstacle like, say, French toast.
The wife of a former Tennessee Titans linebacker, Morgan made her name as the vegan chef who cooked for Titans in the popular documentary The Game Changers, which seeks to debunk two ideas: that athletes need to eat meat, and that all vegans are scrawny.
In her book, Unbelievably Vegan, Morgan writes about how her personal-chef business grew out of sending her husband, Derrick, to practice with her specially prepared vegan meals. “Then a funny thing happened,” she writes. “His teammates, who just a few weeks before had teased him about his ‘plants’, watched him eat these delicious homemade meals and started saying, ‘What! That doesn’t look like salad! That looks so good,’ or ‘What is that? Can you ask your wife if she can send me a meal, too?’”
Within a month, she was cooking for 12 players – and in 2017, coincidentally or not, the Titans went to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
I’m certainly no athlete, but I can identify with Morgan’s descriptions of the increased energy that comes from eating a plant-based diet. And while I gravitate toward foods that emphasise a variety of vegetables, legumes and grains, I’m not above comfort-food indulgences.
Her Eggless French Toast is just the thing for breakfast or brunch – or breakfast-for-dinner, one of my favourite categories of time-strapped cooking.
How do you make French toast without eggs and dairy? It’s pretty simple: You make a smooth, creamy custard from coconut milk, chickpea flour, banana and a flax “egg”. The latter is a tried-and-true replacement that employs ground flax and water, which together become sticky enough to help act as a binder in baked goods.
Besides that, everything else in this recipe comes together just as a traditional one does: You whisk the batter, soak the bread, and griddle the slices until they’re browned on the outside but still moist and spongy inside.
The only decision left is how to serve it: with berries? Maple syrup? Whipped coconut cream? Confectioner’s sugar?
Some nights, you might want just one or two of the above; other times, you’ll want to pile it on.
Perhaps best of all, while this French toast is excellent when freshly made, don’t despair if you have leftovers.
I used some of mine to make sandwiches for my husband and teenage foster son, and got raves from both.
EGGLESS FRENCH TOAST
Five servings (makes 10 pieces)
This vegan French toast recipe results in a lovely browned exterior with a moist and spongy interior. The secret is a custard made with coconut milk, chickpea flour, banana and a flax “egg”. Feel free to use a standard sliced loaf or upgrade with a thick-sliced sourdough or brioche (read the label to make sure it’s vegan, if desired). Serve with warm maple syrup, and/or with fruit and Whipped Coconut Cream.
Make Ahead: The custard can be made and refrigerated for up to three days before soaking the bread and making the toast. Re-whisk before using.
Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to three days; rewarm in the oven before serving.
One tablespoon flaxseed meal
Three tablespoons boiling water
One quarter cups unsweetened coconut milk
Half cup (60g) chickpea flour
One large ripe banana, peeled
Two tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for serving
Two teaspoons vanilla powder or vanilla extract
Two teaspoons ground cinnamon
Quarter teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Half teaspoon fine salt
Neutral oil, such as vegetable, for greasing the pan
10 thick slices bread
Optional toppings: Fresh fruit, maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar
To make the flax “egg”, in a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed meal with the boiling water until combined. Let sit until thickened, about two minutes.
In a blender, combine the coconut milk, chickpea flour, banana, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and puree until smooth. Pour into a shallow bowl, and whisk in the flax “egg”.
Position a rack in the centre of the oven, place a large baking sheet on the rack and preheat to 200 degrees.
Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Brush with oil.
Dip a slice of bread into the batter and let it soak for 20 to 30 seconds, turning to coat both sides. Let excess batter drip off into the bowl, and add to the griddle.
Cook until deeply browned on both sides, four to five minutes total. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining bread slices and batter.
Serve warm with the toppings, if using.