Vegan Almond Cheese Spread

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I’ll just start with sharing that this recipe is adapted from this Vegetarian Times Almond Feta and basically has the same ingredients.  I had made the Almond Feta recipe once and it was just too time consuming.  I had to go to different stores to find cheesecloth, then I had soak almonds for a day?? Come one.  Do the blending and then drain for hours which I had trouble getting the cheesecloth layered and tied right.  And THEN I had to bake it.  No no no, not for this girl. I discovered I could get just as good of flavors but slightly different texture by skipping a lot of that nonsense.  This is more of a spread, a delicious one. The big difference is by not draining it there is still more water in it, so I bake it at bit higher temperature and find that more of the water evaporates and leaves you with a nice dip or spread.And would make a good base for adding in other flavors so stayed tuned…I expect more versions of this.

Oh and I made this with Trader Joe’s ingredients too!

More photos below!

 

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Ingredients

1 cup raw slivered almonds

Juice of one lemon (about 3-4 Tbsp)

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled

Salt & pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, optional

Method

Add almonds to a dish or container with 1 cup hot water and let soak 2-4 hours (if you don’t have a high powered blender like a Vita Mix, then soak for 8 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Transfer almonds and water to blender with everything except the parsley – you don’t want it to be green unless it’s St. Patty’s Day ;). Puree until smooth.  Adding a little extra water if needed.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in parsley (you can reserve some for a garnish). Transfer to a lightly oiled small baking dish.

Baked for 30-40 minutes. Drizzle with olive and serve. I think this is best served warm right out of the oven.

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Eggplant Zucchini Dip

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This is a super easy, healthy and tasty dip made with few ingredients.   It kicks off my series on vegan recipes made with ingredients from Trader Joes!  Using some frozen and already prepared items they have, makes this a breeze and quick to whip up.  Just note the tahini sauce is not your basic tahini paste, their’s is in the refrigerated section by the hummus and is made with the paste but already has the other ingredients in it. See photo below.  You’ll also use the frozen Misto alla Griglia (aka grilled eggplant and zucchini)

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Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

1 package frozen Trader Joes Misto all Griglia eggplant & zucchini

1/4 cup Trader Joes Tahini Sauce

Juice of half a lemon

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 fresh parsley leaves

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Defrost eggplant and zucchini according to package directions.

Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse or puree to desired consistency.  That’s it.

Serve with pita chips, crostini, as a spread on sandwiches…

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Photo credit: Trader Joes

Potato & White Bean Soup with Kale

white bean potato soup

This is a hearty soup complete with a protein and starch, and it is also really comforting on a cold day.  Mushrooms add a little extra savory flavor, as does the nutritional yeast if you choose to use it.  It also adds nutritional benefits such as vitamin B12 (learn more).

Serves 4

Ingredients

Olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

1 heaping cup of chopped mushrooms (i like shiitakes)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes

6 cups good vegetable broth (recommended – Not Chick’n Broth bullion cubes)

1 can navy or great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 sprig rosemary

3 large kale leaves, thick stem removed and chopped (i prefer lacinato kale over the curly kale)

Method

Add enough olive oil to cover bottom of a stock pot and heat over medium low heat for a couple minutes.  Then add onion and mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute 5 minutes or until softened.

Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.

Stir in nutritional yeast to thoroughly mix.  Then add wine stirring and scraping bottom to get any bits on the pan (that’s all the good flavor).  Simmer about 5 minutes until reduced by half.

Add potatoes, broth, beans, and rosemary.  Increase to high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

Remove rosemary sprig.  Transfer 1-2 cups of bean and potato mixture with a little of the broth to a blender.  Puree then add back to pot.

Stir in kale and simmer 5 minutes longer.  Transfer to bowls and serve with a yummy crusty baguette!

 

 

Mango Coconut Rice

Yummy, creamy coconuty rice studded with chunks of sweet mango makes an easy tropical treat for breakfast or even dessert.  I prefer champagne mangoes but you can use regular ones as well and frozen mango is also an option.   Opt for unsweetened shredded coconut but if you can’t find it, just omit or lessen the agave.  Another possible add-on for this, garnish chopped macadamia nuts and enjoy this tropical island vacation in a bowl!

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Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/3 cup light coconut milk

Pinch of salt

1-2 tsp agave nectar

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 champagne mango, diced (just shy of a cup)

Method

Place rice and coconut milk in a small pot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, begin stirring and it will thicken quickly.  Once desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and stir in agave, coconut, and mango.  Spoon into a bowl and serve.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

This is my way of duplicating my favorite Lara Bar.  I figured they’re so simple with just a couple ingredients that I could just make my own.  There’s no sugar in these either, well except for the chocolate chips.  I like to keep them in the freezer and eat them cold.   Warning: these are addictive!

Makes about 20 squares or tablespoon size ball

Ingredients

20 dried dates, soaked in hot water 15-20 minutes

1/2 cup natural peanut butter, divided (no other ingredients except peanuts and salt!)

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Method

After soaking your dates they should be soft and pliable.  Add them to a food processor with half the peanut butter, and the cocoa.  Process until it’s all combined and smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining peanut butter, chopped peanuts, and chocolate chips.

You can either scoop tablespoon size amount of the mixture and roll into balls or take the mixture and press into a 1/4 inch thick disc on parchment paper.  Lay another piece of parchment and press on top so it is flat. Try a large cast iron skillet or just use your hands.  Chill in the freezer an hour or so.

Remove from freezer, with a knife trim edges so they’re straight (optional) and then cut into squares.  With the extra you’ve trimmed, you can roll into balls or just eat right then!

Store in the freezer.

Crispy Tofu Tacos

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so it couldn’t be a better time for perfecting some of those Mexican inspired recipes, of course done vegan and healthy.  When I teach cooking classes people always ask me for tips on cooking tofu.  I think getting the right texture is the biggest challenge when cooking with tofu.  In this recipe I’ve used one of my secret weapons, the vacuum packed tofu that’s already been pressed.  Not the kind in water that you have to drain and press yourself.  This way you cut out a step and the tofu already has that firm texture.  You definitely wouldn’t a watery, mushy mesh of tofu in your tacos. Yuck.

 I love the House Foods Vacuum Packed Tofu, and the Cutlet is great too because it also has a “skin” on it, as well as great texture. And bonus – they’re CERTIFIED ORGANIC and NON-GMO CERTIFIED. So, so important when buying soy products. You can read more about GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) on the Non-GMO Project site.

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Makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (optional)

2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)

1 8oz. package vacuum packed tofu such as House Foods (not the kind in water)

1/4 cup diced onion (or add 1/2 tsp onion powder to spices)

4 crispy taco shells, warmed in the oven

Fixins: Avocado (mashed with a pinch of salt), pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, hot sauce

Method

Mix spices in a bowl, then add soy sauce.  Crumble tofu into the bowl and mix with a fork to further break up tofu and thoroughly coat with spices.

Heat a skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil.  Add tofu and onion.  Cook over medium-heat, stirring a few times, for about 5-8 minutes.  Spoon into tacos shells and pile on the fixins!

Vegan Frijoles Charros

One day I’ll get around to soaking dried beans overnight and cooking them for hours, but that’s not today.  There’s never enough time.  So I figured out a way to cheat use canned pinto beans while still developing a sauce for them to bathe in.  Very flavorful and so easy!  

Bonus: you can puree them or mash with a fork and you’ve got healthier refried beans or add a little extra broth or some salsa, puree and you’ve got yourself a dip.  I just love taking one recipe and morphing it into several different dishes.

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Makes about 2 – 1 cup servings


Ingredients

Cooking spray or oil

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup green pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp chopped jalapeno (optional)

1/2 cup diced tomato

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder (spicy) or smoked paprika (mild)

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Method

Heat a lightly oiled, high-sided skillet over low-medium then add onion, pepper, garlic, and jalapeno with dash of salt.  Cook 5 minutes being careful not to let the garlic get brown.  Stir in tomato, cumin, chipotle or paprika, vinegar and let it cook for a minute, then stir in broth.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture from the pan to a blender or food processor and puree.  Add back to the pan, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the beans.  Let them cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then serve.