Raw Valentine’s Day: Raw Strawberry Tarts

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I love making cute heart shaped desserts for Valentine’s Day! And these little hearts are no exception! I made the crust with pecans and dates just like my raw pecan pie balls. And the filling is strawberries and cashews. I use coconut butter but if you want a more decadent tart, use coconut oil. Whatever you do, make them with love and eat them with your Valentine!

Makes 6 tarts

Crust
1/2 cup pecans
2 dates
1/2 tablespoon coconut butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Add the ingredients into the food processor and pulse until everything comes together and the mixture is crumbly. Test it and make sure it sticks together. If not, pulse a few more times.

Press a tablespoon of the mixture into each well of a heart shaped cupcake pan. If you don’t have one, use a regular one!

If there is extra crust, roll it into a ball and save for a snack.

Filling
1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons coconut nectar (or other liquid sweetener)
1 tablespoon coconut butter
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup filtered water

Add all of the ingredients to the Vitamix (or soak the cashews and use a blender). Blend until completely smooth.

Pour evenly into the molds. Place flat in the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Take them out and wait a few minutes. Use an offset spatula to gently lift the tarts out. Eat immediately.

Store any uneaten tarts in the freezer and eat them whenever you want. Enjoy!

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Book Report: Salud Vegan Mexican + TWO Bonus Recipes

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You guys! This is my favorite new cookbook! It is going to be a challenge the likes of which I have not seen since I started cooking vegan. Eddie Garza, a brilliant vegan chef, has put together Salud Vegan Mexican with 150 recipes – from tamales to churros. So much of this book is foreign to me and thus I have no idea what I will be making!

I started with an easy one – palm heart cauliflower ceviche which is not only fantastic but ridiculously easy. Just chop and drop. I’ve never eaten ceviche so I have nothing to compare it to but I served it to some omnivores who said it was the best ceviche they ever had!

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Now, did you catch that I said there is a recipe for churros?! I have not had churros in forever but recently my son came home from school asking for churros because the rest of the kids got them for a special treat and there was no vegan option. I was at a loss but then this book arrived and voila! So I made them and they are easy and fantastic.

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As for the rest of this book? Well, I have a lot of work to do but I am totally inspired. There are so many recipes I want to make – garbanzorizo, tofu huevos, sopes, mole, migas, chilaquiles – and on and on! Plus, I will have to check my versions of enchiladas, tortillas, chimichurri and whatever else to see if I am even close to the real thing!

Thank you Eddie Garza for making my vegan boy’s dreams come true and for the best new vegan cookbook I have seen in a long time!

Follow me on Instagram where I will be sharing photos of what I make. If you want the recipes, you will have to buy the book. But, lucky for you I got permission to reprint the ceviche and churros! Enjoy.

Palm Hearts and Cauliflower Ceviche

SERVES 6 • PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES, PLUS 1 HOUR TO CHILL

Ceviche, a dish known for its refreshing flavors and unique textures, now comes to you in an entirely plant-based form, thanks to hearts of palm and cauliflower. Various kinds of seafood have found their way into differ- ent ceviches over the years, but for this recipe, I go for multilayered hearts of palm. Hearts of palm can mimic both scallops and calamari rings when the center of the palm heart is separated from its outer ring. By chopping raw cauliflower into small pieces, we are able to pack a soft crunch into the dish, ensuring that this new ceviche delivers on both texture and freshness.

2 large Roma tomatoes, diced into cubes
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, diced into cubes
1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained, centers pushed out, cut into slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeños, cucumber, and cauliflower. Mix well.
2. Add the hearts of palm, olive oil, and lemon juice, and mix.
3. Add the avocado, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently.
4. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

This hearty ceviche recipe is served best on its own, or with saltine crackers.

Churros with Spiced Mexican Chocolate Sauce

MAKES ABOUT 20 CHURROS • PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES, PLUS 20 MINUTES CHILLING TIME • COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES

Churros are great for breakfast or any time. And they pair perfectly with a nice Café sin Leche (page 211). Often considered an early-morning to late-morning street food, it also makes sense to place churros into the same family as doughnuts and crullers. Whether churros were invented by the Spanish, Portuguese, or Chinese (all three claim it), we can all agree: They are delicious. Even so, let’s take things to another level here by dipping them in Mexican spiced chocolate sauce.

FOR THE CHURROS
2 cups water
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
4 cups vegetable oil, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon

FOR THE SAUCE
1 cup full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips 6 ounces Mexican chocolate, roughly
chopped or broken into small pieces
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste Pinch of salt

TO MAKE THE CHURROS:
1. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the water, 1 cup of sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Bring to a boil, then promptly remove from the heat.
2. Add the flour and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon, making sure all the flour is completely mixed in. Check to make sure there are no pockets of dry flour hiding in your dough.
3. Allow the dough to cool for a few minutes, then place it into a cloth piping bag with a large star tip on it. The large tip ensures you are not working too hard to squeeze the dough out.
4. Pipe out your churros, about 4 inches long, onto a nonstick or wax paper–lined baking sheet, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Cold churro dough is easy to handle and fries better.
5. In a large pot, bring the rest of the vegetable oil to 350°F, using a thermometer to keep an eye on the oil temperature. This is very important for getting a nicely fried churro. You may have to adjust the heat on your stovetop to keep the oil at a constant temperature during frying.
6. Slide a few churros into the oil. Make sure to leave enough room for them to float around in the pot. Fry the churros until they are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes each.
7. Remove the churros from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs. Let them drain on a rack over a baking sheet or on paper towels.
8. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss the churros around in the bowl, a few at a time, to coat.
9. Serve drizzled with Mexican Spiced Chocolate Sauce.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
1. Bring the coco- nut milk and almond milk to a boil over medium-high heat, then promptly remove from the heat.
2. Whisk the chocolate chips and pieces of Mexican chocolate a little at a time into the hot milks, until everything is melted and combined.
3. Stir in the cayenne and salt.
4. Keep warm on the stovetop next to the heat but not on a direct flame.

COOKING TIP: The churro dough will keep in the piping bag for a couple of days
in the refrigerator if you aren’t making them all at once.

Raw Pecan Pie Balls

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I am preparing for a raw challenge. My plan is to for 21 days but not sure I will last that long! I’ll write about my raw adventure soon. But in the meantime, I have already put away half of these little pecan pie balls – they are so good – for snacks! They are really the perfect combination of nutty and sweet, chewy and crunchy. The perfectly perfect healthy snack!

Makes about 20 balls

1 cup pecans
1 cup Medjool dates, about 12
1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla

Place all ingredients into the processor and process until crumbly. Stop the processor and test to see if the mixture holds together. If not, pulse a few times. But be careful and don’t go too far or you will have pecan butter!

Use a tablespoon ice cream scooper and scoop out the mixture and press it against the side of the processor bowl to make sure it is packed in. Roll it into a ball and set on a plate. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

Store in a container in the refrigerator or freezer and eat at will!

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Kale & Romaine Marouli Salad

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I know – this is a vegan blog and this is a salad. But salad makes for a great meal and starter and you need to make this one. So, this is my ode to a Greek salad called Marouli. It has lots of dill and scallions. I add kale because, well, I’m vegan and I have to eat kale by vegan law. Just kidding! But it is a great way to hide kale in a delicious salad!

This is not an exact recipe – make as much or as little as you want/need to feed your crowd. Traditionally, it is served with a toss of just lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. But I love to add my creamy white balsamic dressing here.

1 small head of Romaine
6 leaves of lacinato kale
3 scallions, white and green parts
Big handful of dill
Small handful of chives
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
Creamy white balsamic dressing, to taste (recipe below)

Shred the Romaine and kale. Add to a big bowl.

Thinly slice the scallions and chives. Chop the dill. Add to the lettuce and kale. Toss.

Add the lemon juice and some dressing. Toss to coat everything.

Taste and adjust. Add more scallions, dill, chives or dressing. Enjoy!

Creamy Cashew White Balsamic Dressing
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup filtered water + more for thinning to desired consistency
The juice of 1/2 lemon, approximately 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Place all ingredients in blender or Vitamix. Blend until creamy. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

Spaghetti Chef from Vegan 101 by Jenny Engel & Heather Bell of Spork Foods

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I love all of the new cookbooks I have been reading lately. I tend not to actually follow recipes and just look at the ingredients for inspiration. But this recipe, called Spaghetti Chef, from Vegan 101 by the girls behind Spork  Foods, in LA is a different story.

These gals are sisters and vegan gourmet chefs who wrote Vegan 101, a cute new cookbook that has some really great and easy recipes. It is definitely different than some of the other books I have – it has it’s own creative California vibe – and I love it. It is a book I will be cooking more from and one I will recommend to friends.

I love pasta and I thought I knew it all but this recipe blew me away. Who would have thought to add almonds to pasta with tomato sauce? Not me. But there is a story to this recipe which I have permission from the authors to reprint below. Check it out and make it for yourself. It is definitely going in my weekly rotation!

P.S. My dish is above with some nutty parm and fresh pepper sprinkled on top. I didn’t have any fresh thyme but I made it anyway. The professional picture is below. Just keeping it real!

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Spaghetti Chef

Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 12 minutes
Cook time: 37 minutes

Walking down a cobblestone street in Sicily, we came upon a tiny, jam-packed restaurant where the special of the day was “Spaghetti Chef.” With no further explanation, except the revelation that it was vegan, we patiently drank wine and waited until 11:30 p.m. for a table. And was it ever worth it! We adapted this dish as an ode to that memorable spot.

FOR THE PASTA
Pinch sea salt
1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti or bucatini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup raw almonds, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, stemmed and coarsely chopped

FOR THE GARLIC OIL
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

TO PREPARE THE PASTA
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add sea salt, and cook pasta as directed according to package. Drain pasta and coat with olive oil. Set aside.

TO PREPARE THE SAUCE
Heat a high-walled pan over medium-low heat. Add oil, onion, and garlic and cook about 8 minutes, or until caramelized. Add almonds, sea salt, and red pepper flakes and cook 4 more minutes, or until almonds are toasted.

Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in thyme.

TO PREPARE THE GARLIC OIL
In a small saucepan over low heat, cook oil and sliced garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until fragrant.

To serve, spoon garlic oil into base of pasta serving dish. Add desired amount of pasta over oil and scoop generous helping of thick sauce over pasta. Serve warm.

Tip: To further enhance the flavor of the sauce, cook it over a low flame for up to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tip: Bucatini, a thicker, hollow relative of spaghetti, works beautifully in this recipe, so if you can find it, give it a whirl.

BIO: Los Angeles based Spork Foods is a gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Bell. They offer live vegan organic cooking classes in Los Angeles at Spork Foods (www.sporkfoods.com). They are published authors of, Spork-Fed cookbook as well as Vegan 101, which are currently in stores and online, with a foreword by fellow fans Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Heather and Jenny are Chef Ambassadors for two major corporations, Follow Your Heart and Setton Farms. They teach all over the country and the world reaching over 10,000 people a year. More about us: http://www.sporkfoods.com/about.php.

Taco Tuesday: DIY 10-Ingredient Taco Seasoning + Lentil Tacos

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I make tacos every Tuesday! They are fun with whatever is in the refrigerator – literally anything can be a taco. The most important part is the seasoning and so, I put together my own mix to have on hand because it is way easier than measuring each spice every time.

It’s all the usual suspects and then two surprises: chipotle powder for smokiness and cinnamon for that x factor, sort of sweet and sort of “what is that?” I recommend using 1/8 teaspoon each in your next batch of tacos to see if you like the mix and then adjust your mix accordingly!

10-Ingredient Taco Seasoning

2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place into a small container or jar. Shake. Store and use at will. Enjoy!

For this particular Taco Tuesday, I topped these little corn tortillas with lentil taco meat, crispy shredded Brussels sprouts, shredded purple cabbage tossed with cashew cream and lime and a dollop of guacamole.

1 cup cooked lentils
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1/4 cup water + more, as needed

Sauté the onion in water or oil. When it is translucent, add the garlic. When that is fragrant, add the lentils, tomato paste and taco seasoning. Add the water and mix to combine. Cook on medium until the lentil meat looks like it is together and delicious. Add more water if it is too thick.

Top with crispy shredded Brussels sprouts, shredded purple cabbage tossed with cashew cream and lime and a dollop of guac. Enjoy!

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How to Make Ketchup

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OMG! I have finally found a ketchup recipe that we LOVE. I have tried a few and this one hits the mark. The secret? Simmering. The base is tomato paste and it really needs to be cooked to bring out the flavor and take the edge off of the raw intensity of it.

Now, we have homemade, organic, vegan ketchup that even a 7 1/2 year old can love! I make it a little sweeter than the original recipe from An Oregon Cottage and it is so good, all I want to do is eat it straight up but I just keep making things to dip into it!

So, I will not be buying store bought ketchup again. This takes all of 20 minutes and I know exactly what is in it. And if you stock your pantry well, you should have everything on hand that you need to make it.

6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup agave
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons + 2 more tablespoons filtered water, if too thick
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer into a glass jar and cover. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Enjoy!

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Book Report: The Plant Pure Kitchen + Bonus Recipe

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This is Kim Campbell’s new book: The Plant Pure Kitchen! I had a chance to preview it – it’s coming out next week, on January 24th, and if you are into oil free plant based cooking, this book is for you.

There are 130 recipes! They are creative, clean, and easy to make. This book has it’s own vibe, which is different than a lot of the other vegan cookbooks I have been reading lately. It is simple and I love it. I think you will too.

There are tons of breakfast ideas – the usual plant based suspects like chia seed pudding and plant milk. There is a whole list of quick breads but ones I have never even thought of  – rosemary garlic bread, beer bread, and oatmeal raisin muffins. You won’t believe how many salad dressings Kim has come up with and sauces for everything including enchilada and hoisin sauce. (Finally, homemade hoisin sauce!)

Of course, there are lots of soups, salads and appetizers. And then entrees from pasta, carrot loaf and pad thai to enchiladas, stuffed peppers, and quiche. And amazing sides like scalloped corn (love this!), polenta fries, and onion rings. And no book is complete without dessert. Think cobbler, cookies and pies.

This book is truly a joy to cook from. I have already made a few recipes including this Bourbon Mushroom dish. But when I made it, I used white wine! This will be a well worn cookbook before long. If you are looking for new and different ideas, this book is for you!

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BOURBON MUSHROOMS

Bourbon mushrooms are traditionally prepared with butter, cream, and beef broth and served with a side of steak. In this recipe, it’s the mushrooms that absorb the unique flavors of the savory sauce, while also adding a chewy texture. These mushrooms are especially delicious served over brown rice, mashed or baked potatoes, barley, or whole-grain pasta.

Yields: 4 servings   Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time:  20 minutes

Vegetables

1 pound button or other mushrooms or a combination, sliced
1 onion, halved then thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼  to ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth

Sauce
½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth, or more as needed
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons bourbon, dry white wine, or pineapple juice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in a little of the vegetable broth until the mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Add more vegetable broth as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well combined. Add the sauce to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until bubbly and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. If you like your sauce thinner, add more vegetable broth, 1/4 cup at a time. Serve warm over rice, potatoes, barley, or pasta.

Kim’s Hint: I like to use a mix of sliced portobello and shiitake mushrooms for an especially meaty texture. This makes a wonderful addition to a baked potato bar!

Little Raw Chocolate Bars

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My son and I have been trying to make homemade chocolate bars for a long time. We have not had any luck. Until now. I learned a formula in my Essential Vegan Desserts course and now we are love with these two-bite little treats. They don’t have the mouthfeel of a tempered chocolate bar but they do have everything you could possible want/need in a bite of chocolate.

I made these for my mini dessert party for my Essential Vegan Desserts and so for this batch, I used a silicone chocolate mold. But use any fun shaped mold you like!

A few notes. These are super easy to make and can be made by simply whisking the ingredients together. If you wish, you can use a blender but I don’t think it is necessary. Also, raw cacao comes in blocks and discs. I think the discs are easier to measure – they pour right into a measuring cup – since I measure them before melting. So, I use Sunfood discs. If you can’t find them, cut a chunk of a cacao block and melt it and try to get as close to 1/2 cup as you can.

Unlike melting chocolate chips or already made chocolate bars, you don’t need a double boiler here. Just drop the cacao butter into a small sauce pan over a low flame. It will melt slowly – you don’t even have to whisk it.

I add superfood powders to my chocolate because I love the flavors they impart. Try lucuma or mesquite!

Makes 9 chocolate bars

1/2 cup raw cacao butter
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons coconut palm syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
2 teaspoons superfood powder like lucuma or mesquite, optional

Melt the cacaco butter. Let cool for a few minutes.

Set your molds on a small baking tray and be sure it can sit flat in your freezer.

Whisk the ingredients together and pour into molds. Place the chocolate into the freezer to set.

Once set, pop the chocolate out of the molds and place them into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and eat at will. Enjoy!

Portobello Reuben Sandwich

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That little leaning tower of portobello sandwich is about to fall over! And it almost did but after I put my iPhone down, I caught it and devoured it.

Ok, so I love a Reuben. In fact, it has beens said that I make the best Reuben in town…but that was when I only thought tempeh was the main ingredient. But, who says a reuben has to be tempeh?  After seeing a few portobello recipe variations in a few of the new cookbooks I’ve been reading lately, I got hungry and decided to make this!

It’s not really even a recipe – it’s a marinated portobello, smothered in sauerkraut, topped with homemade Russian dressing in between two pieces of toasty bread.

Lunch is ready!

Makes 1 sandwich

1 portobello mushroom
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon tamari
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
2 pieces of bread
Sauerkraut
Russian dressing (homemade is best: mayo + ketchup + relish)

Take the stem off the portobello. Use a spoon to clean out the “gills”. Whisk the marinade together. Pour the marinade over the portobello and be sure to coat the whole thing. Marinate for 30 minutes (up to 24 hours!)

Bake the mushroom at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Use tongs to lift the mushroom out of the baking dish. Save whatever is left of the marinade for extra dipping – if you are a dipper like me.

Let it rest for a moment. Meanwhile, toast the bread and make the Russian dressing.

Build your sandwich. I sort of cheat here and cut the portobello in half and the two pieces of toast in half and build them one half at at time.

Place the bottom toasts on a plate. Lay the portobello halves on each one. Top with sauerkraut. Slather the top toasts with Russian dressing and close the sandwich.

Enjoy!