Chopped Kale Salad w/ Vegan Béchamel Sauce

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This salad is so decadent, I could seriously eat it every day. It’s hard to believe it’s totally vegan & gluten free. It’s almost like the salad equivalent to mac and cheese….that good.

Add to salad bowl:
-2 cups raw chopped kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red & green cabbage (Trader Joe’s “Cruciferous Crunch” salad blend is awesome!)
-1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Make the vegan béchamel sauce using the following ingredients:

-1 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine or olive oil
-1 tbsp ground cashews or cashew meal
-1 tbsp nutritional yeast
-1/2 cup vegetable broth
-Pinch of sea salt & cracked pepper

Add the above sauce ingredients to a saucepan, whisking constantly over low to medium heat. Make sure that it doesn’t boil, but rather melts and reduces. The sauce will become smooth, creamy, and thick.

Remove from heat, immediately pouring piping hot sauce over bed of greens, allowing them to wilt a bit.

Enjoy!

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Coconut Lime Bars

Yield: 16 bars Gluten- free, Grain-free, Vegan, Dairy-free, Egg free I am excited to share with you guys one of my all time favorite baked goods! It’s really hard to beat the combination of limes and toasted coconut in this tangy, sweet, delicious bar that is surprisingly creamy for something that it doesn’t have any eggs, […]

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies

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I’ve been experimenting with finding a delicious, healthy, and gluten free brownie recipe and I think I finally have succeeded! This recipe is glutenfree, grain free, high fiber, and doesn’t have ANY flour or white sugar. It can also easily be made vegan by replacing the eggs with flax or chia seed eggs (which I will cover in another post).

So…it freaked me out a lot at first….but it turns out black beans are the perfect replacement for flour. I know what you must be thinking; “there is no freaking way that is going to taste good…you can’t put beans in brownies!” I thought the same thing, but I was happily mistaken when these came out ofthe oven. The black beans serve to cut out the unnecessary white flour and replace it with something less processed, low in fat, high in fiber and protein, and full of vitamins. It effectively takes out the empty nutrition from the beloved baked good and replaces it with pure, healthy goodness.

These brownies are totally gooey, and chocolately; everything that a brownie should be. What I was most pleased with (and the main reason these are my go-to brownies) is that for being gluten free, they didn’t have the same texture that most gluten free boxed mixes have. Many gluten free brownies I’ve had in the past have been made from processed tapioca or corn flour mixes and end up with a very dense texture and almost sandy mouth feel. These had no such issue, and don’t actually taste like they’re missing anything (which is pretty incredible considering how much healthier these variety are).

Ingredients (makes about 10 brownies)
1 1/2 cup black beans (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
3 eggs (replace with flax egg for vegan baking)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree or apple sauce
¼ cup agave or honey (or whatever your sweetener of choice may be)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Cooking spray (or additional oil)
Shredded coconut (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Rub or spray a baking sheet with oil (so your brownies don’t stick) and set the dish aside. I used an 8″square baking pan.
  • Take your rinsed and drained black beans and process them in a food processor until smooth.
  • Add eggs, oil, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla, agave and pumpkin, and process until completely blended. (Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides a couple times during this step, if needed).
  • Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips and pulse a few times.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chips. Top with shredded coconut, if desired.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Put on a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

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I like to sprinkle shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips on top, it gives it a little “Samoa girl scout cookie” taste. 🙂

Here are the nutrition facts, in case you guys were wondering:

brownie nut facts

Vegan Banana “Cheesecake”

Yield: 20 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Freezer time: 3-5 hours

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Highlights:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • High in fiber
  • Packed with protein
  • Totally raw & doesn’t require baking
  • Made almost entirely from various fruits & nuts and is very adaptable

Ingredients

For the crust:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
¾ cup medjool dates
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup raw, dried coconut (optional)

For the “cheesecake” layer:
3 cups cashews
1 cup macadamia nuts
¾ cup lemon juice
½ cup coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup agave

For the banana layer:
6 bananas, peeled and frozen
1/3 cup dates

Directions:
Soak cashews & macadamia nuts for 2-4 hours (or overnight), then drain.

Soak dates for 5-10 minutes and remove pits from center.

Add walnuts, almonds, dates, and salt to food processor and pulse until well combined. Nut pieces should be well chopped and still crumbly, but easily able to form a malleable ball.

Prepare the bottom of a springform pan (or cake pan, or glass dish, it doesn’t really matter) by sprinkling coconut on the bottom or greasing with coconut oil. Press nut and date mixture into prepared pan to form the “crust” layer.

Next, add drained cashews and all other “cheesecake” layer ingredients into the food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy

Pour creamy “cheesecake” layer into the pan evenly over the crust and smooth. Place the pan into the freezer for ~30-60 minutes to allow the layers to firm up.

Prepare banana layer by adding all ingredients into the blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth. Add banana layer on top of the firmed and frozen cheesecake layer. (Note: Any frozen fruit could be used instead of bananas, you’ll need around 2 cups of fruit regardless)

Decorate the top as you please with fresh fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, whipped coconut cream, etc…whatever you want, really.

Place in the freezer for 2-5 hours, and remove 10-20 minutes before ready to serve (or don’t wait and eat it frozen, it’s really good too). Leftovers can easily be stored in the freezer and make for an awesome snack.

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All-Veggie-Everythang Kale “Tacos”

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I am not a huge fan of heavy lunches when it’s the middle of the hundred plus degree summers, so this is one of my favorite light meals on super hot days here in AZ.

I’m going to call this recipe kale “tacos”. Okay, so they’re basically salad boats made of vegetables and filled with vegetables…but I promise you they’re addictive. And who doesn’t like food that serves as an edible container?

Serve whole, washed Lacinato kale leaves (this is also sometimes called dinosaur kale) topped with chopped broccoli, green, yellow, and red bell peppers, cucumber, strawberries, & cilantro.

Drizzle with tahini lime dressing (1/2 tbsp of tahini/sesame paste mixed with juice of 1/2 lime & a little water).

Homemade Granola

In my opinion, there is absolutely no better breakfast than homemade granola sprinkled on top of some coconut yogurt and topped with berries. It’s easy, satisfying, and (best of all in the morning)….quick.

As it turns out, granola is pretty easy to make for yourself, and the secret isn’t what you put in it as much as it is the process. Making you own breakfast cereal can be a much healthier (and cost friendly) alternative to store-bought cereals and granolas that are packed with additional sugar and food additives.

Who needs that junk anyway?

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So here’s my basic, go-to recipe and process for making the perfect homemade granola.

Dry Ingredients:
5 cups whole oats (check for gluten free if necessary)
1 cups chopped almonds
1 cup pepitas (I use Trader Joe’s roasted and salted)
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp cinnamon

Mix all above ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 350. Cover 2 cookie sheets in parchment paper or spray them down with oil and set aside

Mix these ingredients together in a saucepan until they’re warm:
1/2 cup honey (use agave syrup for vegan)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup coconut oil

Once the liquids are warm, toss them together with the dry ingredients & mix well.

After mixing, divide the granola in even layers between the two sheets. Put it in the oven.

You’re going to want to set a timer for 10 minutes. At this point, take both trays out of the oven and stir the granola around, mixing completely before putting it back in and setting another 10 minute timer.

You’ll repeat this process roughly 3-5 times (totally dependent on your oven) for a cooking time of roughly 30-45 minutes or until nicely browned.

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After removing the granola from the oven, toss in 1 cup of dried fruit (I like to use dried orange-infused cranberries, but anything goes here)

Allow the granola to cool and place into a container to store in the fridge where it’ll keep for several months.

Pro tip #1: even when it’s done, it won’t actually be crispy until it cools down. It can be really easy to overcook or burn by feel, because it stays pretty soft the entire time. A good indication is the color; when it looks golden and toasty.

Pro tip #2: It’s soo easy to burn the crap out of soo quickly (as I discovered), so the secret is constantly watching it, especially on the 3rd or 4th round in the oven. It can be a bit persnickety, but it gets significantly better each time you make it.

Pro tip #3: You can control the size of the granola clusters by stirring more or less when you take it out of the oven. For larger clusters, be mindful not to stir as vigorously and let the granola rest until cooled after removing from the oven when finished.

This recipe can be diversified by adding whatever nuts, spices, or dried fruits you prefer.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Serves: 2-4

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Highlights:

  • Gluten free
  • Low carb.
  • High in fiber
  • Super Easy!
  • Could easily be made vegan with the substitution of Daiya (or other brand) vegan cheese and replacing the egg with a flax or chia egg.

Pizza is definitely an all time favorite comfort food, but the kind you have delivered to your door has a reputation for being notoriously greasy, and full of carbs and fat. This cauliflower pizza crust is a fantastic way to replace the greasy bread with a mellow flavored, nutrient-packed vegetable instead.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is naturally low in fat and carbohydrates and an excellent source of vitamin C,  fiber, and folate. It is also a good source of choline, vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, vitamin B5, protein and iron. It possesses a high nutrient density, meaning that it contains a very high number of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and a very low amount of energy (calories and fat).  Nutrient dense foods, such a fruits and veggies, pack the highest levels of nutrients for the least amount of calories, making them the opposite of “empty calorie” or energy-dense foods, such as processed or sugary snacks, which carry relatively low amounts of nutrients with an excessive amount of calories or fat.

I’ve spent some time perfecting this recipe before posting, as I initially was having some trouble with my cauliflower crust sticking to the pan. The secret I discovered through trial and error: the lightly coated parchment paper is a must! The crust stuck horribly to a coated pizza pan, stone, or tin foil, but slid effortlessly off the parchment paper. The result was a pizza crust that was crispy and golden brown on the outside, soft on the inside, and easy to slice, pick up, and eat with your hands.

Oh, and an added bonus…it’s naturally gluten free!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup homemade or store bought tomato sauce
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

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Directions:
1) Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and line a pizza pan or baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment paper in olive oil.  (I highly recommend the use of parchment paper; I had a lot of trouble with the crust sticking to the pizza pan or aluminum foil the first couple of times I made this.)

2) Either grate the cauliflower using an old-fashioned cheese grater or place in the food processor until it’s a fine, grated consistency; A rice-like consistency will work just fine, but I’ve found that the finer the cauliflower is, the closer the texture in your mouth feels to real pizza crust.

3) Optional: Place the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3-5 minutes, until softened. Remove from the microwave and let cool for a few minutes. (For an even crispier crust, skip this microwaving step entirely and move on to Step #4.)

4) Add eggs (or flax egg), Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and minced garlic to the warm cauliflower and mix well. Form into a 12-inch circle on the prepared pizza pan. Lightly brush olive oil over the surface of the crust and bake for 12-18 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.

5) Remove pizza crust from oven and top pizza with sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Add sundried tomatoes, onion and crushed red pepper flakes, or choose whatever toppings you prefer. Place the pizza back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing up; the pizza should easily slide off the parchment paper and onto a serving plate.

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