Cauliflower Leek Soup

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This is my famously creamy and very delicious cauliflower leek soup. I make it without oil, but feel free to sauté in oil if you prefer. Also, I like using water in this recipe as opposed to vegetable stock because I think it keeps the flavors simple and crisp.

Remember, cooking is an art not a science. Cauliflower heads differ in size. And so do leeks for that matter. Don’t worry about being exact, it will be delicious no matter what!

1 medium head of cauliflower
1 smallish onion
1 regular size leek
1 big clove of garlic
1 cup cashew milk, homemade is best
2 cups filtered water
Salt, a pinch
Croutons and chives, for garnish

Prep the vegetables. Coarsely chop the onion, clean and chop the leek and chop up the cauliflower.

Add the onions to a soup pot. Dry sauté until the onions start softening. Add a few tablespoons of water and then add the leeks. When they start to soften add the cauliflower, cashew milk, and water. Season with salt.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a high simmer and cook until the cauliflower is soft.

Take the soup off the heat and carefully pour it into the blender or Vitamix. Be sure to be super careful because it will be hot! I like to put a dishtowel over the top and hold it while I start the Vitamix on low. Turn it up and blend until smooth. Don’t go too long, you don’t want baby food. (I have done that. It’s not good!)

Serve immediately or save until later. Refrigerate or freeze and reheat when ready. Garnish with croutons and chives. Enjoy!

Taco Tuesday: Tofu Tacos!

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It’s taco Tuesday! These tofu tacos are super easy to put together and pack a big flavor punch. What else can I say, really. Tofu. Tacos!

The only thing you really have to make is the tofu and it takes just a few minutes. And the corn can either fresh off the cob if it is in season or frozen or my favorite, from a can!

Makes 6 tacos

Tofu
1/2 block of tofu
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 cup of corn, fresh, frozen and defrosted, or canned
3 scallions
2 teaspoons sunflower oil, or more to cook the tofu
6 corn tortillas

Taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Toppings
Guacamole (1 avocado, the juice of 1/2 lemon or lime and a pinch of salt)
Lettuce, shredded
Kite Hill ricotta

Press the tofu for as long as you have time for. Cut it into cubes.

Coat the tofu with the chickpea flour.

Heat the oil in a nonstick pan and add the tofu. Combine the taco seasonings and then sprinkle over the tofu (or shortcut and just sprinkle right over the tofu in the pan and toss around.)

As the tofu starts to turn golden, slice the scallions and add to the pan. Add the corn. Toss around to coat with the seasonings.

Heat the tortillas over the open flame until charred.

Add the filling to the tortillas and top with guacamole, shredded lettuce and a sprinkle of ricotta. Enjoy!

Heart Healthy Raw Macadamia Cashew Snack Balls

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This recipe is inspired by a recipe in Allyson Kramer’s book, Naturally Lean. These raw little snack balls are like “buttah” and they are a great heart healthy to-go snack for a long car trip or a snack right after school!

All of the ingredients are heart healthy because everything contains magnesium which is super important for heart health and is often depleted in many people. In addition, cashews are full of copper, magnesium and zinc and Vitamins E and K. Macadamia nuts are full of Vitamin A, iron, protein and selenium. Almonds are full of fiber, protein, magnesium and Vitamin E. Dates are full of calcium, fiber, Vitamins A and K.

This recipe makes about 26 snack balls using a 1 tablespoon ice cream scooper.

1 cup cashews
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almond flour
12 medjool dates, pitted

Place all of the ingredients into the food processor and let it go until everything comes together and the mixture balls up like dough. It should look like this. Don’t go too long or you will have nut butter!

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Squeeze the mixture together with your fingers and if it sticks you are ready to make the balls!

Use the small ice cream scooper and form the snack balls. They might be a little oily but that is the natural oil in the nuts so don’t worry about it!

Place on a plate and then into the refrigerator. In about an hour, they will be cold and sturdy. Store in an air tight container and enjoy at will.

Note: when traveling with these snack balls, they will get a little softer than when eaten right out of the refrigerator. They are great either way!

Ricotta Pasta with Zucchini, Corn & Toasted Pine Nuts

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I have gushed in many posts about how in LOVE I am with Kite Hill’s ricotta cheese which is really hard to find. And so when I do, I buy 2 or 2 tubs! I could pretty much eat it right out of the package 🙂 but I mostly cook with it. Think lasagna!

But one of my favorite ways to eat it is tossed with pasta. It could be anything really but in this dish, I combine shallots, zucchini, corn, and toasted pine nuts for a delicious, filling and decadent dish.

This is a no recipe recipe. But I have listed the ingredients in measurements that would be good for 2 servings. If you make it, make enough for the number people you are cooking for.

2 big shallot
1 clove garlic
1 zucchini
1 ear of corn, or 1 cup of frozen (thawed) or canned corn
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Kite Hill ricotta cheese, or more
Nutty parm, for garnish
Rigatoni, 1/2 lb. or more

Get the pasta going.

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet on the stove top on low heat. They burn quickly so keep an eye on them.

Slice the shallots. Heat a pan with sides and sauté in water or oil. As they soften, press the garlic over the shallots and mix around.

Dice the zucchini and add to the pan. Cut the kernels off the cob and add to the pan.

When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the vegetables. Toss around. Add the ricotta and pine nuts and continue to mix until all combined.

Turn out into pasta bowls and sprinkle with nutty parm. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Gratin

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Cauliflower is the new kale! Everything cauliflower is happening all over the vegan world and this is my new go-to cauli dish. It was accidental but it is fantastic and so maybe it will become your go-to too.

I was trying to make cauliflower wings but it didn’t work out. The hot sauce we used was too spicy and so I ended up diluting it with cashew cream. And this recipe was born. So, I’m still working on my own wings recipe but until then…

1 small head of cauliflower
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup filtered water
A few shakes each of onion powder and garlic powder
1 cup cashew milk *
A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
Paprika, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.

Whisk the chickpea flour, water and onion and garlic powders together until there are no lumps.

Cut the head of cauliflower into bite size pieces, sort of big but not too big. Drop them into the flour mixture and use a big slotted spoon to stir and cover the pieces well.

Pick each piece of cauliflower and shake off the excess flour mixture and gently place them onto the baking sheet. Bake until they brown, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Mix a few dashes of hot sauce into the cashew milk and pour it over the cauliflower. Sprinkle paprika over the top and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes to make sure the cashew milk is heated through.

Enjoy as a side dish with tofu, tempeh or whatever else you are making!

Sautéed Wax beans with Scallions & Jalapeños

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My husband loves spicy food and I have to admit that I don’t make it for him very often which is why there is always a lot of hot sauce on his plate. But I whenever I do happen to have a jalapeno, which is usually every summer when we harvest my friend’s garden, I make this dish, which is a variation on my green beans and red pepper recipe.

Big bunch of wax beans
1/2 jalapeno
2 scallions
1 teaspoon of sunflower oil

This is the amount of beans I usually make for two of us.

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For this amount of beans, I use half of a jalapeno. That is the little guy on the right. I love taking pictures of food. And I thought this was cute. I am going to paint their portrait in my art class in the fall!

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Set up an ice bath by filling a bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut off the ends of the beans.

Cook the beans in the boiling water for 3 minutes (exactly 3, set a timer) and drain immediately. Drop into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Lay the green beans onto a kitchen towel to dry.

Cut the jalapeno pepper into a small dice and thinly slice the scallions.

In a pan with sides, heat the oil. Add the jalapeno and scallions and sauté until bright and fragrant. Add the beans and toss well. Enjoy!

Book Report: Healing the Vegan Way + Bonus Recipe

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It is becoming more and more obvious that a vegan, plant-based diet is optimal for our health. And of course, for the animals and the planet. In this new book, Healing the Vegan Way: Plant-Based Eating for Optimal Health and Wellness by Mark Reinfeld, we learn why.

In collaboration with some of my heroes, like Dr. Michael Greger, this book lays out exactly what we need to know about how a plant-based diet can prevent and heal diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers in addition to obesity and emotional and mental issues.

From Mark’s “Precepts of a Healthy Life” – following a healthy plant-based diet, exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, getting adequate rest and practicing meditation, doing periodic cleansing, and engaging in the world – to meal plans, template recipes and tips and tricks to make things quick and easy, Mark has written a must read book for anyone who is considering, transitioning to or already living a plant-based lifestyle.

To shore up his argument, Mark reviews several popular diets that people follow in the world including the Standard American Diet (SAD), the Zone, the South Beach Diet, and SOS (No Salt, Oil Sugar) and offers inspirational healing stories from everyday people whose lives have been forever changed by this lifestyle.

To educate us, Mark dives deeply into what foods we should be eating and why they are the most nutrient dense – from vegetables to fruits, to nuts and grains, legumes and grains, herbs, spices and superfoods.

As for the recipes, Mark is true to his concept of Fusion cuisine – celebrating culinary traditions from all over the world. With information on the key nutrients in each dish as well as nutritional information and suggestions for variations, this style of cooking is accessible to everyone.

Probably my favorite thing about the book is the concept of the “template” – a way of viewing a recipe not just exactly as written but breaking it down into it’s component parts – the base, the main, the creamy component, the herbs and other vegetables. It is Mark’s way of saying that one recipe can equal thousands. This approach has very much inspired me to continue to flesh out my idea for my own cookbook which is based on this very idea.

I have been following Mark for years now and I will say that this is one of his best works. If you have questions about the health aspects of a plant based diet then this book is for you!

I received permission to reprint this recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho. It’s easy, summery and a real show stopper served in a watermelon bowl!

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Watermelon Gazpacho

Yield: 5 cups gazpacho
Prep time: 15 minutes, Total time: 15 minutes,
Serving size: 1 cup | Number of servings: 5

Watermelon soup? Why not? It may sound unusual, but watermelon is a wonderful addition to this traditional chilled soup of Mexico. A delicious and very refreshing idea for the hottest of summer days, as watermelon is so incredibly hydrating. Enter jalapeno, jicama, cilantro, and Mexican spices, offsetting watermelon’s sweetness somewhat, and you have a unique twist on tomato-based gazpacho. Serve immediately, so it doesn’t separate, and enjoy with other Mexican favorites, such as fajitas and horchata.

Ingredients:
6 cups chopped watermelon (1-inch cubes)
½ cup water or coconut water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder or Mexican spice
Mix (page 106)
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Pinch of sea salt
¾ cup seeded and diced cucumber
¾ cup peeled and diced jicama
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1. Place the watermelon, water or coconut water, lime juice, jalapeño, chili powder, chipotle chile powder, and salt in a blender and blend well.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well before serving.

Variation: replace the cilantro with fresh mint, and replace the cucumber and jicama with blueberries and chopped strawberries.

Excerpted from Healing the Vegan Way: plant-based eating for optimal health and wellness by Mark Reinfeld. Copyright © 2016. Available from Da Capo Press | Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Book Report: The Easy Vegan Cookbook + Bonus Recipe

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I recently found this fun cookbook – The Easy Vegan Cookbook: Make Healthy Home Cooking Practically Effortless by Kathy Hester. Food blogger at healthyslowcooking.com, Kathy is famous for recipes made in a slow cooker. But since I don’t have a slow cooker, I found this book to be more up my alley.

This book is a winner just on simplicity. That doesn’t mean simple – it means it is appealing and accessible. The photos are not overly staged, they are all on white backgrounds focusing on the dish itself, and the recipes are easy to follow and prepare.

Another thing I love Kathy for is spending time talking about how amazing the freezer is – she says use your freezer for the power of good, like an extension of the pantry! We are on the same page with that. She even offers a pantry freezer list which includes chopped vegetables, precooked beans and bread and pizza dough. It is like she had an x-ray into my freezer.

From make ahead staples like gravy and granola, to soups, stews, pasta, main dishes, sides sandwiches and desserts, this book lives up to its title! So, if you are looking for a low key, fun, and creative easy cookbook, check this one out!

And if that doesn’t get you to buy one, check out the recipe for Surprise Walnut Brownies.

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I have added these brownies to my regular baking rotation because we really like the texture. Here is a picture of mine!

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Surprise Walnut Brownies (Soy & Oil Free)
Makes 12 Brownies

2 tablespoons (14 g) ground flaxseed mixed with 4 tablespoons (56 ml) warm water
2 medium avocados
1 cup (145 g) coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (150 g) whole-wheat pastry flour (or use gluten-free baking mix)
1/2 cup (43 g) baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (117 g) walnuts (or nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Prepare an 8″ x 8″ (20 x 20 cm) square baking pan by covering with parchment paper. It’s okay if it bunches up in the corners. If it comes up a bit over the top of the pan, it’ll help you remove the brownies.

Add the flaxseed mixture, avocado, sugar, vanilla and salt to your food processor and process until silky smooth.

Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Stir in the avocado mixture until you have a thick batter. Add the walnuts, mix, then scrape into the prepared pan.

Spread the batter as evenly as you can in the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. You want to slightly underbake these to keep the fudgelike texture, so pull them out before a fork comes out of the middle completely dry.

Per brownie: Calories 212.6, protein 5.0 g, total fat 11.7 g, carbohydrates 31.9 g, sodium 26.1 mg, fiber 4.7 g

TIP: Allergic to nuts? Swap them for chocolate chips for extra-chocolaty brownies.

Recipe reprinted with permission.

Recipe Redux: Avocado Chocolate Pudding

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I make this almost every week since I always have everything in the house. It is perfect for the just overripe avocado. I have started adding mesquite powder because I think it adds depth of flavor, but it is optional, as this pudding is just as good without it!

1 perfectly ripe avocado
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup, to taste
1 tablespoon mesquite powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
1/2 to 3/4 cup cashew milk (or other plant milk)

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix and let it rip until the pudding is smooth. Add more plant milk to get a pudding-like consistency.

If you don’t have a Vitamix, a processor will do but can’t guarantee the perfect smoothness the Vitamix makes.

Enjoy with berries and cacao nibs!

Homemade Chedda Chz Sauce

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I like to call this Chedda Chz – funny, huh? After a few years of tinkering, this is the version I have come to love the most. I started with a much more complicated version for my nachos recipe but this is simpler. And better too. Keep it thick for nachos or tacos or thin it out for mac ‘n chz.

1/2 cup cashews *
1 roasted red pepper
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and mustard powder, or more to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup filtered water + more for thinning
Salt, a few pinches
White pepper, a pinch **

*Soak if you don’t have a Vitamix. (But get one!)
**I like using white pepper because it is stronger and the peppercorns won’t impact the color of the chz. This is good for picky kids.

Place everything into the Vitamix and let it rip until everything is combined. Add 1/4 cup water to get it going and then a bit at a time to get the consistency you want. If it gets to thin, add more cashews! Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Pour over nachos, tacos, pasta or whenever you feel like eating cheddary goodness. Enjoy!

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