Sexy Cheezy Sauce

This is a rich, velvety cheez sauce that is simple to create and uses whole food ingredients. No science experiments here, just straightforward steps in an easy to follow recipe.

I picked up a copy of “The Sexy Vegan” and I am impressed with this first recipe I tried. I like the tone of the book–tongue in cheek, with funny recipe titles like

“The Girlfriend’s Favorite Salad That She Constantly Asks Me to Make and Won’t Shut the Hell up About”. Although the vibe is lighthearted, these are solid, real world vegan recipes for the health conscious and the hedonist alike.

There are lots of recipe makeovers for classic American favorites such as New England Clam Chowder, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Buffalo Wings, Jalapeno Poppers and Macaroni and Cheese, just to name a few.

There are also several upscale “dinner party” style dishes like Oyster Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Seitan Caponata with Lemon Pilaf, and Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Fennel.

Brian L. Patton, an L.A.-based professional chef, clearly knows what he is doing. He had me at Hello and I can’t wait to dig in!

“Not Yo Mama’s Cheeze Sauce”

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw cashews

1 12 oz. package soft, silken tofu

1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric

1/2 teaspoon yellow miso

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch ground chipotle powder

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons canned diced mild green chiles

Method:

In small pot, cover cashews with water and boil about 8 minutes to soften them up. Drain and let cool. In food processor or blender, process until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until very smooth.

Heat gently over low heat and apply liberally anywhere you want to cheez it up!

Spicy Thai Noodles

When it comes to noodles, it’s all about the sauce. This one is full of flavor, without any added oil. The blend of sesame paste, tamarind and tamari along with the sweetness of dates, creates a sauce with complexity. The added kick of sriracha brings in just the right amount of heat.

Spicy Thai Noodles

1 Tbsp tamarind paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp tamari or nama shoyu
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 tsp thai curry paste or sriracha
2 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for about 20 minutes
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup water (or more if you want a thinner consistency)

Blend all ingredients together and toss with noodles and vegetables to coat. May be served cold or hot.

–recipe adapted from choosingraw.com

Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

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What is a weekend without pancakes? This recipe takes me back to Mom’s kitchen. Almost indistinguishable from conventional cakes, they get their excellent texture from the addition of flax meal and a bit of xanthan gum.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour
1 tbsp. Baking powder
¼ tsp. Salt, optional
1 tbsp. Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Flax meal
¼ tsp. Xanthan gum
1 cup Almond milk, or any non-dairy milk
2 tbsp. Olive oil, or oconut oil, melted

1.Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2.Measure non-dairy milk and oil then add to dry ingredients, mixing just until well-blended.

3.Cook using standard pancake method.

Note: These are best on a seasoned cast-iron skillet, but any flat cooking surface will work. Yield: 4-6 cakes.

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Vegan Marsala Mushroom Gravy (Oil-Free)

Monday is typically my take it easy night in the kitchen. Back to work after the weekend, and I stayed up later than usual last night. Mashers are my go-to comfort food on days like this. Back in the day these would have been full of butter and milk. And gravy? I could whisk up a roux like nobody’s business.

It may seem too good to be true, but today’s dish contains only a tiny amount of fat (from the soy milk) and absolutely no animal products. And it is even more flavorful and satisfying than the traditional preparation. Continue reading

Blueberry Cheezecake

I’ve been reflecting today on where this all began.  I started this blog way back in the Fall of 2012, all fired up as a new vegan, ready to shout from the mountaintop all the new information I was discovering about nutrition and wellness.

This journey is a winding road, but I always come back to my inner compass. Eventually. I’ve decided to revisit and re-post one of my very first recipes from my early days as a newbie blogger. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


 

One of the foods many vegans reluctantly let go of is cream cheese–most eventually finding consolation for the morning bagel in the form of hummus or any one of a dozen different kinds of nut butters available on the market.

One food that’s seemingly impossible to duplicate, however, or find a suitable whole food replacement for,  is cheesecake. It makes me realize how truly decadent that dessert is.

Now, I know there is this substance called “Better than Cream Cheese”. However, it is off the deal, due to it’s high fat content and it is full of additives. I prefer to stick with more natural ingredients. Enter the Golden Cheesecake from fellow blogger, Playful and Hungry

I added a graham cracker walnut crust and a sweet, organic blueberry topping and voila! Of course it tastes nothing like traditional cheesecake, but in my opinion plant-strong recipes always end up tasting better all around. And I get the bonus of knowing that I just ate real food that will fuel my body.

Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

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I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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Korean Gochujang Barbecue Bowl

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You may have noticed a condiment called gochujang popping up in your neighborhood grocery recently. It’s basically a spicy Korean ketchup that has made its way into the mainstream and it’s delicious! But why buy it when you can make it so easily?? Try your local Asian market for Korean chili powder, or buy it here through Amazon.com. The rest of the ingredients are already in your pantry!

 

KOREAN BARBECUE BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

1 CUP TOFU, EXTRA FIRM, PRESSED, CUT INTO SMALL TRIANGLES 1/4 INCH THICK
2 CUPS CREMINI MUSHROOMS, HALVED
1 CUP ONION, YELLOW, SLICED

MARINADE:
¼ CUP LOW SODIUM TAMARI
¼ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
2 TBSP SESAME OIL
1 TBSP WHITE WINE
2 TSP MINCED GARLIC
4 CHOPPED SCALLIONS
1 TBSP KOREAN CHILI POWDER

GRAIN:
1 CUP JASMINE RICE, UNCOOKED
2 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, WHITE, TOASTED
1 SCALLIONS, JULIENNED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE MARINADE: MIX ALL MARINADE INGREDIENTS AND POUR OVER TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. MARINATE UNTIL COOK TIME.:
2.PREPARE RICE: COOK USING DESIRED METHOD, THEN FINISH WITH TOASTED SESAME SEEDS, RESERVING A PINCH FOR GARNISH.:
3.TO COOK: HEAT A SMALL AMOUNT OF OIL IN SAUTE PAN OVER MEDIUM-HIGH FLAME AND ADD DESIRED PORTION OF TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. :
4.SAUTE UNTIL BROWNED AND SAUCE IS THICKENED. SERVE OVER RICE, WITH GOCHUJANG CHILI SAUCE (RECIPE BELOW).

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

KOREAN CHILI SAUCE (GOCHUJANG)

2 TSP SESAME OIL
¾ TSP GRANULATED GARLIC
⅓ CUP KETCHUP
¼ CUP MAPLE SYRUP
¼ CUP KOREAN CHILI POWDER
2 TSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
1 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, TOASTED
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS IN SAUCEPAN AND SIMMER OVER LOW HEAT ABOUT 7 MINUTES UNTIL FLAVORS ARE WELL BLENDED.
Servings/Yield: 8 servings

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

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The best part about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Many gluten-free recipes read like a science project, but this one has only a couple ingredients you may not already have in the pantry:  brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour (besan).

I could hardly wait for the muffins to cool. The aroma was heavenly, like spicy gingerbread. The flavor and texture did not disappoint, either. Sweet and flavorful, these muffins make a perfect snack or a light breakfast.

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins

recipe courtesy Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 ºF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease a non-stick pan lightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed.

Drop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin and place onto middle rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Homestyle Oat Bars

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I really like those tasty, chewy individually packaged oat bars I find at Whole Foods Market. But I don’t like paying $2.00 per bar!

So, I cracked open the pantry  and came up with my own quick, no-bake version that as it turns out, I like a whole lot better!

This recipe is simple. One you can throw together with whatever nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits you just happen to have hanging around. You don’t have to toast the rolled oats or the nuts, but I like that roasty-brown taste. These bars are soft and sweet, without being overly so, with a deep caramel-like flavor from the brown rice syrup.

Homestyle Oat Bars

adapted from the recipe found at fannetasticfood.com

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

Any combination of the following, measuring 1 cup:

Nuts, any kind, roughly chopped (almond slices, pecans, walnuts, cashews)

Seeds, any kind (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, sesame)

Dried fruit, any kind (raisins, diced apples, chopped figs)

Shredded coconut (raw or toasted)

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Himalayan pink sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. If you like your oats and nuts toasted, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. If not, skip ahead to step 2. Place oats on a dry baking sheet. Place nuts on a separate sheet. When the oven is ready, place the oats and nuts in the oven. Toast the nuts carefully watching the time. This should take 2-4 minutes. They burn easily. Pull them out and allow to cool. Stir the oats every 5 minutes and toast until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare a small-sized shallow, rimmed baking pan by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Measure brown rice syrup, peanut butter and flavoring into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, then stir until combined.

IMG_6010.jpg4. Stir the rice cereal, nuts, fruit and other dry ingredients into the bowl with the oats and then pour the wet mixture over, mixing all together with a spatula into a sticky, crunchy mass.

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IMG_6011.jpg5. Immediately press mixture into prepared pan and flatten with your hands. Lightly dust surface of bars with sea salt, if using. Allow to set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).

6. Cut into squares and wrap individually to prevent sticking together. For best results, store in the refrigerator.

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Working Lunch

The summer months are a time to rest and re-energize my mind as well as my body. A time to reflect, renew, refill my well of ideas.

I have always found inspiration through others. Even after running my chef business for almost seven years now, I always stay open to change and to inspiration. Not just in my work life, but also personally.

Working with food is personal. It’s hard to think of an area more personal than something we do every day, several times per day. We eat. For nourishment and for pleasure. This is a balance I find a constant challenge and interest. Even more so over time.

This brings me to the inspiration for today’s lunch.

Caitlin Shoemaker

I can’t say enough good things about Caitlin Shoemaker, fellow recipe developer, photographer, and chef in her own right. Her earthy, straightforward approach to vegan food and lifestyle along with maintaining a perfect balance between good food and good-for-you food is a constant source of inspiration. In short, she’s nailing it.

Have you ever just eaten a sweet potato? Just straight up bake it for an hour then cut it open and scoop it out? Sometimes this is my lunch. And sometimes I eat the peel too.

Here I have reheated a sweet potato from yesterday, drizzled it with Caitlin’s

4 Ingredient Sesame Miso Dressing  

and ground fresh pepper on top. Filling, satisfying and tasty.

 

 

 

Vegan Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

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A party favorite, these samosas are fun and easy to make and bake. They also freeze well, so when you’re in the mood, prep a big batch and store for whenever.

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Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

Ingredients:

Dough:

3 cups Flour, all purpose
1 tbsp. Curry powder
¾ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Water, cold
2 ounces Earth Balance, cut into small pieces
¼ cup Shortening

Filling:
2 pounds Potatoes, russet, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 med Onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh grated
½ each Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Coriander, ground
¾ tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. Cumin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp. Water
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 cup Peas, frozen, thawed
3 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped

Sweet Tamarind Glaze:
¼ cup Apricot jam
½ tsp. Tamarind paste
1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

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Method:

1. Mix dough using biscuit method (15 min.) Wrap and chill (1 hour).
2. While dough is chilling, make filling (35 minutes). Boil potatoes until just tender. Drain immediately. Toast cumin seeds then saute onions in olive oil unti lightly browned. Add seasonings, jalapeno and ginger. Saute about 1 minute then add the water and stir until most of water is absorbed. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Finish with peas, lemon juice and cilantro. Taste for seasonings, then immediately transfer to container or sheet tray and quick-chill in freezer.
4. Form and Fill (30 minutes). Roll out dough one half at a time on lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, large enough to fold lengthwise into thirds, then cut on the folds. From the three strips, cut squares, about 2 x 2 each. Spoon about 1/2 to 1 tbsp filling into the center and fold over diagonally. Press edges with a fork to seal.
5. Make dipping sauce (5 minutes). Mix together first two ingredients on the stove to warm together. Run through a sieve or puree in bullet then add cilantro. Taste for salt.
6. Bake on parchment sheet tray for 20 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes before serving.

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Recipe takes 1 1/2 hours to complete. Add additional 30 minutes (roll, form and fill) for doubling and another 30 minutes for every multiple after that.

Mint Chutney

recipe courtesy foodviva.com

Throw all this stuff in your magic bullet. You won’t regret it!!

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 cloves garlic

2 green chili peppers,  seeded and chopped ( I used 1/2 of a serrano pepper)

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. sugar (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp water

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Peanut Dragon Sauce

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It’s been a super busy week! When I crave a quick comforting meal, soba noodles are often my go-to food. Here’s an easy sauce to pour over your noodles, steamed veggies or to dip your spring roll into.

Peanut Dragon Dressing

from “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 cup Peanut butter, creamy
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/3 cup Water
3 tablespoons Rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon Sesame oil, toasted
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Blend ingredients together in food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Serve

Soup is a comforting food. It warms and soothes me, no matter the weather. Soup and a sandwich, soup and salad, soup and crackers, croutons or bread. It can be a healthy, filling and economical addition to any menu. This is a delicious, simple to make recipe that uses just a handful of ingredients.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

adapted from a recipe by Allison Rivers Samson

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vegan margarine

1 cup chopped onions

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth

28 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute.2

Saute the onion in a 4 quart pot in the oil and margarine until translucent (about 7 minutes).

Simmer.2

Add tomatoes, broth and maple syrup. Bring to a low boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Grind

In a dry food processor, grind cashews to a fine powder, then blend with water and vinegar. Add the mixture to the pot and blend well with an immersion blender or (carefully) in a high speed tabletop blender, in batches. Simmer another five minutes or so, stirring until heated through.

Chiffonade

Taste for salt. Depending on the tomatoes and vegetable broth you use, you may not need to add any salt. Sprinkle with black pepper and basil chiffonade just before serving.

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Key Lime Icebox Pie with Mango-Ginger Coulis

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Here’s a little something different for you, dear readers. A delicious creamy, no-bake dessert that is sweet, but not overly so–with the tangy influence of key lime juice and a hint of ginger.

Key Lime Icebox Pie 

3 ½ cups cashews, raw, soaked
¾ cups key lime juice
¾ cups agave nectar
1 cup coconut oil
½ cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 recipe gingersnap cookie crust

Method:

Blend all together and freeze overnight. Move to fridge for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Gingersnap Cookie Crust

2 cups ginger snap cookies, finely crushed
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. vegan margarine, melted

Method:

Blend all together and press into 9-inch pan

Mango-Ginger Coulis

8 ounces mango puree
1 tsp. ginger, fresh, grated
1 ounce sugar, powdered, sifted
1 tbsp. non-dairy creamer, vanilla

Method:

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate 1 day ahead.

 

 

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

This is one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s vegan’ recipes! Looking for ways to apply my new discovery, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, I stumbled  upon this recipe: click heresalted  vegan chocolate chip cookies on Food52.com.

Turns out, these are the tastiest vegan chocolate chip cookies I have ever baked! I believe the secret is in chilling the dough overnight. Also, I decided to bump up the flavor with a teaspoon of vanilla and reduce the water by one teaspoon.

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Here’s the other thing: Unlike many, many vegan cookie recipes, this one uses no egg substitutes, no flax, or mashed banana or xanthan gum, or arrowroot powder or any  exotic ingredient that would send you digging through the shelves at the health food store.

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Just simple ingredients. The cookies taste just the real thing, because they are!! Procedurally, this recipe is fantastically simple, too. A real gift. Wet into dry. That’s it.

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The only real challenge? The wait. But I handled that. I let the dough chill for about four hours then scooped out and baked just four cookies. I had to know if they would suffer for the shorter time in the fridge.

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Turns out, they were delicious. A bit puffy, but still very, very good. Kind of like Chip’s Ahoy.

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The next day, however, I baked four more cookies from the fully chilled dough, pressing each scoop with my fingers to flatten a bit before baking. This batch turned out more like homemade Toll House cookies. The flavor was deeper, the cookie more crisp and brown-sugary. So delicious. So, was it worth the wait? Definitely.

I formed the remaining cookies and froze them on a sheet tray. Afterward I stored them in a covered container in the freezer. Now anytime I want a cookie or two I can just pop them in the oven. This recipe’s base seems to lend itself to variations as well. I look forward to creating more flavors in the future.

I hope you give this one a try.

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Tofu Pad Thai

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This is a quick and easy recipe for a Thai restaurant favorite. I like to make this dish at home, because I can choose the ingredients. I think it tastes even better than traditionally prepared. Most Thai restaurants season with fish sauce– a real bummer for vegans.

I also like to press and freeze my tofu, then thaw it completely before using in dishes where I want more texture. This method also helps tofu absorb marinade more readily. I just wrap it airtight, freeze overnight, then when thawed, I squeeze it out one more time, and use as desired.

prep

Tofu Pad Thai

from “Big Vegan” by Robin Asnell

  • ¼ cup Vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. Lime Juice (or more, to taste)
  • ¼ cup Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. Canola oil
  • 12 ounces Firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, minced, peeled
  • 2 cloves Minced garlic
  • 8 ounces Rice noodles, banh pho
  • 4 Scallions, Cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 ounces Bean sprouts
  • ½ cup Roasted peanuts, chopped
  • ½ cup Cilantro

Method:

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a cup, mix together the stock, lime juice, tamari, sugar and cornstarch.
2.Heat the oil over high heat, and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the pepper flakes and fry until the tofu is browned, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute.
3.Meanwhile, cook the noodles in the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain them. Stir and add the stock mixture to the pan with tofu. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice if desired. If too strong, add more stock or a bit a of water. If too sour add a bit more sweetener. Balance the flavors to your taste.
cook
4.Stir and quickly add the noodles, scallions and sprouts. Stir-fry gently until the liquids are thickened and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

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Garlic-Sesame Soba with Wild Mushrooms and Edamame

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I love noodles, especially soba. Here’s a quick and easy dish that works for a weeknight meal, but translates just as well to an elegant dinner party with a hot cup of miso soup as a first course.

Ingredients:

5 ounces SOBA NOODLES

2 tbsp. ounces AGAVE NECTAR
3 tbsp.  RICE WINE VINEGAR
3 tbsp. REDUCED SODIUM TAMARI SAUCE
1 teaspoon CHILI-GARLIC SAUCE (SAMBAL OELEK)
1 tbsp.  OLIVE OIL
4 ounces MUSHROOMS, MIXED
3 cloves GARLIC, MINCED
3 SCALLIONS, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. SESAME OIL, TOASTED
1 tsp.  SESAME SEEDS, BLACK

1/2 cup EDAMAME, FROZEN, SHELLED, thawed

Method:

1. Cook soba noodles, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Whisk agave, tamari, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and set aside.

3. Saute mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and scallions and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add sauce and let cook for 1 more minute until heated through.

4. In a large bowl, toss soba noodles with sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Eat chilled or hot.

 

Creamy Pasta Salad

Here’s a delicious reworking of traditional macaroni salad. Prepared with whole-grain pasta and  lots of crunchy fresh veggies, this one is  so nutritious, it can stand alone as a main dish! A refreshing change from the same old salad routine.

This dressing is creamy and mildly sweet, flavored with a blend of garlic, mustard and lemon. I will quote my husband on his first bite of this salad: “Damn, that’s good!”

Creamy Pasta Salad

2 cups dried whole grain pasta, cooked, drained and chilled

3 ribs celery, sliced

2 carrots, grated

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional)

Dressing:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup raw cashews

2 dates, pitted and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Combine cashews, dates and water and set aside while you prepare the vegetables. Place cashew mixture in high-powered blender with remaining dressing ingredients and process until smooth. Toss with vegetables and pasta to coat.

Recipe courtesy of Cathy Fisher:  http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/

Ultimate Cheezy Sauce

 

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As many will tell you, one the hardest animal-based foods to give up in the beginning is cheese. I have read that cheese actually contains addictive opiate substances, so that might explain its magnetic appeal.

As for me, I have learned to live without cheese and appreciate the flavors of the food underneath–where cheese would have been. At the same time, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect cheesy sauce for macaroni, nachos, broccoli, and general dipping of crusty bread.

I have posted cheezy sauce recipes before–but this one is the mother of all cheezy sauces. It’s a hybrid of a modern recipe with classical method. I am in love with the umami flavor and the smooth velvety “pour” of this sauce. I think you will agree that it is both delicious and easy to make with ingredients found in most plant-based pantries.

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Cheezy Sauce III

by Melanie daPonte

1 1/2 tbsp. non-dairy margarine or olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1 cup Soy milk ( can use any non-dairy milk, but I prefer the higher fat content in soy for creamier sauce)

¼ cup Nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Paprika

Method:

Melt the margarine in a  saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in flour to make a roux (classical sauce thickening combo).

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Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined and smooth. Stir until mixture begins to thicken and lightly bubble. Reduce heat to low and check for consistency and seasoning.

At this point you may wish to add more paprika depending on the level of orange-ness you like your cheezy sauce to have. You may also want to play with the consistency a bit depending on how you plan to use the sauce. Just add a little more milk if you like more pour-ability. Add salt if desired, or more tamari or lemon juice as desired. It’s YOUR sauce now, so enjoy it!

 

 

Raw Chocolate Brownies

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If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you may have noticed that when I do chocolate it’s never in a small way. I like it rich and dark and decadent. These brownies are all that–plus they are psychologically satisfying in that they are almost good for you, albeit highly caloric.

I discovered Laura-Jane, The Rawtarian, quite by accident, but I can’t say enough good things about her website and her recipes. Her site offers free how-tos, videos and recipes–she will even email you a beginner’s guide to raw food in pdf format. Cool lady, cool content–I dove right in and I’m still exploring her recipes, looking forward to my next raw foods culinary caper.

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Serve these brownies in small pieces, because they are very rich. One thing I have learned since going vegan–dishes made from whole foods tend to fill you up quickly as they are identified by our bodies as nutritious fuel. Although these are meant to be a treat, they are filled with organic raw pecans, dates and coconut–plenty of real, whole foods; no  grains or starches. Enjoy!

Raw Brownies

from  www.therawtarian.com

Easy Enchilada Sauce

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In my experience, you can stuff a burrito with just about anything. But the sauce…now, the sauce can make it or break it for me.

Here’s one of my essential recipes. It’s quick and easy and tasty. I pour this rich, tomato-garlic-cumin sauce  over enchiladas, burritos, tacos–even drizzle it over nachos.  I hope you give it a try!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( all-purpose flour works fine, too)
¼ cup Canola oil
3 tbsp. Chili powder
3 tsp. Cumin, ground
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Hot water
14.5 ounces Tomato sauce

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

Brown flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent over-browning.  Carefully add spices and oil, stirring to avoid lumps. Slowly add water and tomato sauce. Stir until smooth. Simmer to desired consistency. Check for salt and add a bit of ground cayenne pepper if you want to make it spicy.

Yield: A whole lotta sauce, about 4 cups, so unless you’re making a big ole mess of enchiladas, you may wish to cut the ingredients in half.

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Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Here’s a super-simple yet super- impressive side dish that practically cooks itself–leaving the stovetop free for the rest of your culinary exploits. I always get raves on anything sweet potato and I’ll bet you do too.

Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Recipe courtesy Chloe Coscarelli

(4 servings)

16 ounces Sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Rosemary, fresh, chopped
1 tsp. Sea salt
Black pepper

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes in oil to coat.
2.Add rosemary and salt and toss again.. Season with pepper
3.Spread on large-rimmed baking sheet. Roast 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender, stirring frequently to promote even browning. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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Recipe Test: Quinoa Pancakes

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

Here’s the thing about pancakes…I love the way they taste, but not so much how I feel afterward. All that doughy, sweet carbohydrate goodness seems such a decadent indulgence.

I’m always alert for a loophole–a healthier way to enjoy that sticky maple-buttery experience without feeling like I just consumed a loaf of bread in one sitting. When I came across this RECIPE (courtesy feastingonfruit.com) the immediate thought came to my mind: Quinoa=Protein. High-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat always feels good in my tummy. This recipe is also oil-free.

But, then, I thought…how will they taste without any gluten? Will they hold together yet not be dry and weird? Since I have quinoa flakes in my pantry anyway, I decided to see for myself.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The recipe suggests using a blender, so I thought, since I am cutting the recipe in half I’ll just use my Magic Bullet. BAD IDEA.

I would mix this recipe in a bowl, like any other pancake batter. Otherwise, you will leave behind a lot of it, due to its thick, paste-like consistency. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because it was easier and cheaper.

I transferred the whole mess into a bowl and added more milk and a bit more maple syrup to achieve a smoother, spreadable batter. I also added a pinch of salt, because the recipe didn’t call for any. Salt adds a pleasing flavor contrast to the maple syrup.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The cooking was good. A nice, even browning without sticking to the griddle, which I  sprayed with a light coating of oil between each cake.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The result? A very good, gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat pancake. After tasting, I decided I would have added more salt, though–beyond a pinch. Otherwise there is no flavor at all.

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I added a little extra Earth Balance spread and this fixed the issue. The texture is good, too. Not dry or grainy or weird. Just light and absorbent. The half-recipe made three medium-sized cakes. I ate two of them and still felt good, not bloated.

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My final assessment:

An excellent representation of a ‘healthier’ way to pancake, but quinoa is exorbitantly expensive. If money is of no importance, and you want to impress your friends and family at brunch, go for it.

But…there are lot of other gluten-free pancake options and much, much cheaper. I dare say, even tastier. Here’s one in particular I like, made in a blender with bananas and oats.

GLUTEN-FREE BANANA-OAT PANCAKES

What’s your favorite way to pancake??

 

I Made Tahini (And You Can, Too!)

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I’m free! Free from the tyranny of the ten dollar jar of organic tahini when all I need is a spoonful or two at a time! What took me so long?

This quick, easy recipe produces fresh, tasty, toasty sesame tahini for a fraction of the cost!

Easy Tahini

Ingredients:

1 cup raw sesame seeds

2 tbsp. mild flavored oil (I used sesame oil)

Method:

Toast sesame seeds lightly in a dry skillet, over medium heat, stirring slowly and constantly, just until slightly brown. Immediately transfer to a small food processor or blender.

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Grind until seeds resemble small crumbs. Add a tablespoon of oil and keep grinding, scraping down the sides as needed. Add another tablespoon of oil, if needed to create a creamy consistency. Keep grinding until smooth. That’s it!!

Makes about 1/2 cup of tahini. Store covered, in the fridge.

 

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Carrot-Coconut Soup with Fresh Ginger Root

 

Summer is coming down fast and I find myself seeking light, refreshing meals. Here’s a quick soup that is both nourishing and super easy to put together!

Carrot-Coconut Soup with Fresh Ginger Root

(recipe courtesy Kerry Ogden, MA, LPC)

Ingredients

4 medium carrots, peeled
1½-inch piece of ginger, peeled
1½ cups almond milk
1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
squeeze of lime

Avocado (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Method:

1) Chop the carrots and ginger.
2) Using a high-speed blender, combine ingredients until smooth.
3) Squeeze lime, adjusting flavors to taste.

Garnish with chopped avocado and cilantro ( I used fresh mint).

 

Lentil-Walnut Loaf with Sweet Tomato Glaze

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This is a client favorite and a recipe I swear by, having grown up eating traditional meatloaf. This version has a firm slice without being dry or being soggy. It bakes up perfect, time after time. The glaze really makes it taste just like my mom made back in the day.

Lentil-Walnut Loaf 

adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber (eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green or brown
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
1 parchment paper

1.Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.

2.Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.

3.Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.

4.Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.

5.Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

 

 

 

Golden Indian Dal Soup

 

Dal is my go-to comfort food. A warm, savory, nourishing meal, filled with creamy, protein-rich lentils and healing turmeric–tempered with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic.

GOLDEN DAL SOUP

 

INGREDIENTS:

½ CUP RED LENTILS
3 CUPS WATER
1 TSP SALT
½ TSP TURMERIC
⅛ TSP CAYENNE PEPPER
2 TBSP CANOLA OIL
½ TSP CUMIN SEEDS
1 TBSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP GINGER, GRATED
½ CUP ONION, YELLOW, FINE DICE
½ CUP TOMATOES, CANNED, FINE DICE

METHOD:

  1. RINSE AND DRAIN LENTILS. COMBINE WITH WATER IN SAUCEPAN.:

2. STIR IN SALT, TURMERIC AND CAYENNE AND BRING TO ROLLING BOIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT. SKIM OFF AND DISCARD THE CLOUDY WHITE FOAM THAT APPEARS ON THE SURFACE. :

3. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW AND SIMMER, UNCOVERED, FOR 20 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.:

4. MEANWHILE, HEAT OIL IN FRYING PAN OVER HIGH HEAT FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS. ADD CUMIN SEEDS AND COOK FOR 1 MINUTE, UNTIL SEEDS BEGIN TO SIZZLE AND POP.:

5. ADD GARLIC, GINGER, ONION AND TOMATO AND TOSS GENTLY FOR 1 MINUTE. REDUCE HEAT TO MEDIUM AND COOK 5 MINUTES, TOSSING OCCASIONALLY. SET ASIDE.:

6. ADD ONION MIXTURE TO LENTILS AND CONTINUE COOKING 5-10 MINUTES, OR UNTIL LENTILS ARE COOKED. STIR WELL AND REMOVE FROM HEAT. TASTE FOR SALT AND SERVE IMMEDIATELY OR HOLD WARM.

NOTE: IF YOU PREFER A SMOOTHER TEXTURE, PULSE WITH AN IMMERSION BLENDER OR POUR INTO A COUNTERTOP BLENDER AND PUREE. I OFTEN PUREE HALF TO PRESERVE SOME TEXTURE, OR PUREE THE LENTILS BEFORE ADDING THE AROMATICS.

Vegan French Toast

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As a lifelong  pancake girl, I never thought I’d get around to writing this post. But my husband’s a French toast guy, and last weekend I wanted to make him a special brunch treat, so here we have it.

I’ve tried vegan French toast recipes before and they just seemed too soggy or blah in the flavor department. But this recipe gets the dipping mixture right, with the addition of a bit of starch and garbanzo bean flour (besan) for a thicker consistency. The trick is a quick run through the blender to well incorporate the ingredients. Also, making sure the baguette is at least a day old helps ensure a crisp result.

Vegan French Toast

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

Loaf of Italian or French bread, baguette shaped, preferably stale
1/2 cup soy creamer (soy or coconut milk would make a good substitute)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup chickpea flour (this is key)

Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Several tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for frying)

Powered sugar for finishing (optional)

Method:

Slice the baguette into rounds about 1-inch thick and set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients (except oil and powdered sugar) in a blender and mix for a few seconds until fully incorporated. Pour into a shallow dish ( I use a pie plate).

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Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high with a thin layer of oil. Dip rounds of bread (don’t soak, you just want the mixture to cling to the outside) and place immediately in hot skillet and brown on both sides. Serve hot with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, vegan butter and maple syrup.

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Muesli!!

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For some reason I’ve always believed Muesli was this mysteriously complicated cereal made in Europe using some super-secret old-world technique, unapproachable by the average person. Like maybe they hand-rolled the oats or something. Why else would the little box offered by that one brand perch so stoically high on the grocery shelf all by itself with its exorbitant price tag?

Turns out, Muesli is nothing but naked and un-toasted granola! This, in my mind, makes it an easier and healthier choice than granola. Why? And don’t get me wrong–I am a true granola lover from way back before it was cool–but, you know and I know even homemade granola can be full of sugar and sometimes full of fat. And sometimes, even full of sodium.

But this. This is not that. It is a bowl full of whole foods, in their natural state, completely unadorned. No sugar, no added fat or salt. Just clean, pure energy.

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Cooking a serving of oatmeal in the microwave takes 2-3 minutes. Putting together this cereal takes about the same amount of time and you have breakfast for the week!

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That’s it! No soaking, no cooking, no need to heat up the oven. This recipe is completely adjustable to your tastes, with an endless variety of nut, seed, fruit and cereal combinations.

Yield:  10 cups (that’s 10 1-cup servings or 13 3/4 cup servings). Store refrigerated.

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I topped my first bowl of homemade muesli with fresh chopped strawberries and non-dairy milk.

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There is so much going on in this bowl!! So many textures and flavors. It’s crunchy and chewy, sweet and tangy from the fruit and then the little edge of cacao nib influence is a pleasant surprise against the fresh berries.

A healthy and delicious breakfast to take you through the morning feeling satisfied and energized!

 

 

 

 

 

Original Ginger (O.G) Refresher

I am inspired once again by True Food Kitchen. This gingery, bubbly, slightly sweet and sour elixir  has become my very favorite brunch (or any time of day) “mock-tail”. It’s so easy to make!

Ginger-infused water is a game-changer. I keep a jar of it in the fridge and add it to my smoothies, tonics and even to dressings and sauces that need a little kick of  fresh ginger’s distinctive heat and flavor!

Ginger-Infused Water

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh ginger root, roughly chopped (organic, if available)

4 cups filtered drinking water

Method:

Combine in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve or nut milk bag (that’s what I use). Keep in airtight container, refrigerated.

Note: This makes a lot of ginger water and a little goes a long way flavor-wise. If you don’t plan to use it up within a week, half the recipe.


Original Ginger (O.G.) Refresher (inspired by True Food Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Ginger-infused water

1-2 tablespoons liquid sweetener, to taste (agave, maple or simple syrup works best)

1/4 fresh lime for squeezing

6 ounces bubbly water of your choice (I use tonic water)

Method:

Pour the ginger water into a 16 ounce glass and with a spoon, stir in the sweetener until dissolved. Taste for sweetness and add more if you like. Squeeze in the lime juice and throw away the peel part if it is not organic, otherwise you could just let it float around and look pretty.

Add ice and stir, then finish with the bubbly water to fill the glass. One more gentle stir, then enjoy!

Note: This is not the exact recipe from TFK, but I think it tastes pretty close. I also think it would be good with fresh mint.

Cheers!!

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June Client Menu!

 

 

Bowls

NEW! Three-Cheese Lasagna Bowl

Organic Lasagnetti Pasta, Herb-Roasted Mushrooms, Creamy Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozz, Rich Tomato Gravy

NEW! Grain-Free Sunset Bowl

Miso-Roasted Yams and Sweet Corn, Cumin-Simmered Black Beans, Charred Peppers, Pico di Gallo

Burgers

Beefy Beyond Meat Burger with Lettuce, Tomato and Onions and Special Sauce

Beet Burgers with Horseradish Mayo

Dinner Favorites

NEW! Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Penne with White Beans and Spinach

NEW! Yellow Lemongrass Coconut Curry (mild) with Tofu and Vegetables

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with White Truffle Oil

NEW! Smoky Barbecue Sloppy Joes with Purple Slaw and Baked Beans

Portobello Stroganoff with Noodles

NEW! Sesame Tofu and Broccoli with Soba Noodles

Pasta Primavera with Whole Grain Linguine

NEW! Scaloppini Florentine with White Wine Sunflower Cream Sauce

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Roasted Mushrooms

Chinese Stir-Fried Vegetables with Brown Rice

NEW! White Bean Etouffee with Homemade Andouille

Classic Franks and Beans

Chana Masala with Indian Spinach

Gardein Cutlet Marsala with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Thai Red (Spicy) or Green (Mild) Coconut Curry with Vegetables

Baked Ziti with Whole Grain Pasta and Fire-Roasted Tomato Gravy

Vegetable Flatbread Pizzas

Vegetable Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

Clean, Lean, Protein: Beans!!

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Ah, the humble bean. Is it slowly falling out of the modern vernacular? Have we forgotten what a basic, essential, cheap nutritional powerhouse they are??

If you think you don’t like beans, I would like to put forth the possibility that you haven’t found the right bean for you 🙂 Believe it or not, each type is distinctly different in texture and flavor!

Over the years, I can say I have formed a relationship with beans. Really gotten to know them better. I used to think black beans and chickpeas were my favorites. I mean, chickpeas are responsible for hummus, after all! And black bean soup, well, I always loved it way before I went vegan.

My current favorite is actually the red kidney bean.  The chili superstar. But this substantially chewy on the outside, creamy on the inside bean plays a major role in the classic three bean and other cold salads as well.  It’s versatile and it’s filling.  Did I mention cheap?? Especially if you buy them dried and cook ’em up yourself.

It’s easy!

Basic Dried Beans 101

  1. Start with 1 cup of dried beans. Soak them in water overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator. Add enough water to cover, with an extra inch or two to allow for expansion.

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2. Drain beans and add to a saucepan with enough cold water to cover plus another 2 inches or so. The beans will swell a bit as they cook.

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3. Bring beans to a slow rolling boil and then reduce to a simmer. See the tiny video clip below for what a proper simmer looks like. Try to moderate the settings to keep this level of heat. Boiling too hard results in tough beans all busted open and ugly. We don’t want that. Be gentle.

 4. At this point you want to skim off any foam that rises to the surface. This will rid the cooking liquid of impurities. This is the stage to add seasonings if desired: onion, garlic, cumin, etc. but don’t add any salt yet.

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5. Simmer like this with the lid halfway, allowing steam to escape, for about 45 minutes. Give a little stir now and then, making sure all the beans are still fully underwater. If not, add more.  Check for doneness by removing a bean and cutting it in half. Chew the bean and see if it is soft enough to eat. If not, check again in 10 minutes. They should be nice and firm, yet tender and soft on the inside, not broken and falling apart.

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6. This is where you add the salt to taste. Rule of thumb: stir in enough so the water tastes salty, like a good veggie stock. But don’t overdo it! If you have time, allow the beans to cool in the cooking liquid. This step makes all the difference. The beans will absorb the salt and any seasonings and the flavor will be much improved over simply draining and applying seasoning to the outside.

Now your beans are ready to go anywhere you want to take them. I like to store them in their own liquid, either in the fridge or freezer. You can also drain and freeze them in meal-sized portions, pressing them flat in a ziplock bag. They store really well this way when space is limited.

This method works for most dried beans.

How To Make Lentils Taste Good

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If you hate lentils, chances are you have eaten them from a can. The first time I tried them was long before becoming vegan. The lentils were floating in a dirty, brown broth labeled by the Progresso company as soup. I was unimpressed, to say the least.

Since then, however, I have come to appreciate home cooked lentils for the clean, lean, whole food protein powerhouses they are, boasting 18 grams per cup. Not too shabby!

Through experience, I have learned the tastiest lentils are always cooked fresh.  By controlling the cooking and flavoring process can you truly have the best lentil experience.

Here is a simple, flavorful recipe  for  lentils you can dish over a steaming bowl of rice and announce that dinner is done.

 Lentils For Dinner

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup Carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh–grated or finely chopped

1 cup Lentils, brown–rinsed, removing any stones or foreign matter

1 Bay leaf
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Heat large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat and sauté onion, carrots and celery in olive oil with a pinch of salt until onion is translucent and carrots are crisp-tender (about 7 minutes).

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Add ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

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Pour 2 cups of water into the vegetable mixture along with the rinsed lentils, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until lentils are tender, but not mushy *(about 20-25 minutes), with most or all of the water absorbed. You want them to simmer–bubbling nicely,  not to boil like crazy. This will make them break apart and get mushy.

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Taste for salt and add more if needed, along with a generous grind of fresh, black pepper.

*Note: Cooking time can vary slightly from brand to brand, so it’s a good idea to check in periodically and see how the lentils are coming along, giving them a little stir. Pull one out and bite into it at about the 20 minute mark. The last thing you want is to overcook them. Al dente (firm to the bite) is my goal, so I can toss any leftovers into a cold salad the next day.

 

Top Ten Everyday Plant-Based Recipes

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I have certain recipes in my home kitchen’s steady rotation week after week, month after month. These are my go-to staples because we enjoy them so much:

  1. Tofu Scramble
  2. Cheezy Sauce
  3. Marinara Sauce
  4. Buffalo Sauce
  5. Peanut Sauce
  6. Tofu Ricotta
  7. Italian Dressing
  8. Taco “Beef”
  9. Thai Coconut Curry Sauce (red or green)
  10. Hummus

 

 

 

The Plant-Based Meal Builder

Whether for my clients or for my family, I hear the same question almost every day: “What’s for dinner?”

A plant-based diet offers so many choices and  possible combinations, answering this query can leave my head spinning. So, I’ve come up with a method for putting together delicious,  creative, nutritionally balanced vegan meals with enough variety to please everyone!

I think of the meal as a construction project and I visualize it from the ground up. Consulting my menu builder blueprint, I start with the foundation.

  1. The base. I like to include grains, pasta, potatoes, steamed greens, raw or roasted veggies in this group.
  1. The protein. I choose a hearty bean or pulse, a soy product such as edamame, tofu or tempeh; seitan (a product made from wheat gluten) or a pea protein-based meat analog such as Gardein.

Grilled Sesame Tofu with Forbidden Rice and Grilled Baby Bok Choy https://veganflavorista.org/2016/09/22/meaty-grilled-tofu/

  1. The sauce. This category can make the difference between a boring meal and an amazing one. This component should not be overlooked. Here is where the real creativity happens. I decide whether  I want a light or hearty sauce, whether I am looking for spicy, sweet, savory and/or zesty flavors. The variety is endless.

Broccoli Stuffed Potato with Cheesy Sauce and Greek Chopped Salad https://veganflavorista.org/2014/05/22/ultimate-cheezy-sauce/

 

4.  The veggies. This category speaks for itself and basically I choose those that go best with the sauce and flavors I am introducing (example: for an Italian-inspired dish I would choose mushrooms, onion, peppers, tomatoes).

Pasta Primavera

https://veganflavorista.org/2012/09/20/pasta-primavera/

This structure serves as a guideline-a jumping off point for inspiration to create recipe variations as limitless as the imagination!

In upcoming posts, I will share my tried and true components and techniques for creating the meals  I serve to my clients and my family throughout the week.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Cauliflower-Kale Soup

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A tasty way to get your greens! This  creamy, satisfying soup is a client favorite and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare!

Cauliflower- Kale Soup

Source: Prevention Magazine
(4 servings)

2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 Onion, diced
2 clove Garlic
8 cups Vegetable bouillon
4 cups Cauliflower, florets
4 cups Kale, shredded
½ teaspoon Crushed red pepper (optional)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add broth and cauli, cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kale and cook until wilted about 4 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth. Season with crushed red pepper if desired.

Maple-Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

 

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If you think you don’t like brussels sprouts, then you probably never tasted them roasted with maple syrup and a touch of dijon mustard–crispy caramelized edges and sweet, tender mild almost broccoli-like flavor.

This is a simple, no-fuss recipe that provides excellent results every time. Give it a try!

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

from Big Vegan by Robin Asbell

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, Trimmed and halved
2 small Shallots, Quartered
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sprouts and shallots lightly with olive oil, maple syrup and mustard. Roast on parchment-lined sheet pan for 20 minutes. Stir and roast another 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately. Yield: 3 servings

Vegan Gumbo with Homemade Andouille, A Passion Project

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Every once in awhile I find myself overwhelmed by the urge to make something I know will be complicated. And I make it. Because it’s worth the extra time and effort.

And because I know there’s nowhere else I can get it but in my own little kitchen.

So, here it is. If you have a bit of extra time on your hands I highly recommend this savory, warming, stick-to-your-ribs recipe for gumbo that tastes every bit as good as what they make down on the bayou.

Just two notes right up front: There is no okra in my gumbo. Because I don’t like it. Feel free to add as liberally as you like, though. The other thing…although I chose to make my own sausage, there are packaged versions of andouille or similar sausage you may want to pick up instead.

Vegan Gumbo

Recipe courtesy eatfigsnotpigs.com (with slight modifications)

(Servings: 4)

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Canola oil
½  Not Beef stock cube (or veggie, if you can’t find it in your store)
¾ cup Yellow Onion, chopped
½ cup Green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup Celery, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance
2 cups Not Beef Stock (or veggie)
1 cup Stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Hot sauce
2 each Vegan andouille, sliced

1 cup white or red kidney beans
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Emeril’s Essence)
1 tsp. Gumbo File powder (ground sassafras leaves), optional
2  Scallions, sliced
3 cups Rice, Basmati, cooked

Method:

Start with your roux. Heat the oil and 1/2 bouillon cube over medium-low heat, preferably in a cast-iron dutch oven or deep skillet. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture changes color from light to medium brown.  Be careful not to burn it!

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From this color…

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To this color!

Remove the roux from the pan into a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

Saute the veggies. Melting the margarine in the skillet, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion, celery and green peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until veggies are softened, about 8 minutes or so. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Now the easy part. Add the stock and tomatoes. With a rubber spatula, scrape all that lovely roux back into the pan. Over medium heat, cook and stir until well incorporated and thickened. If it gets too thick, add a bit more water or stock until the consistency is right.

Now the seasonings. Add the thyme, bay leaf, hot sauce and cajun spice and let simmer for a good 10 minutes on low. Give it a taste. Add a bit more spice or salt if you like.

Finish. Take your andouille slices and brown them off in a little oil in a separate skillet. This is an optional step, but I like the crisp outside that keeps the sausage from getting soggy too fast and the browned edges add color to the dish.

Drop the slices into your gumbo along with the kidney beans and allow to heat through while you chop up your garnishes–scallions and parsley. Add these right before serving and they will retain their color and fresh flavor.

The gumbo file powder is added after cooking, just a sprinkle for flavor. Serve over hot, cooked rice with a few more scallion slices.

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Notes From The Vegan Underground

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I’m still here, dear readers. Just focusing on work and other personal projects besides food.

Here are a few of my latest personal inspirations:

Caitlin Shoemaker, Food and Healthy Lifestyle Blogger

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This young lady has single-handedly re-inspired my cooking. That’s a big deal. She’s super-sweet and utterly obsessed with healthy lifestyle and healthful, tasty, whole food, low oil/no oil cooking.

In particular she has inspired my latest breakfast craze, the best granola recipe I’ve found so far and I’ve been eating and making granola for thirty years! There are so many more of her recipes in my queue just waiting to happen! Check her out on YouTube and her website, frommybowl.com  is pretty awesome as well!

Oat Milk

My latest discovery and I am so happy for it. I heard Michelle and Matt talking about oat milk on a recent Thug Kitchen podcast, Forked Up and I thought I would give it a try. Even the best store brand had added sugar so I decided to make my own.

A gamechanger! I first tried it with cheesecloth and then graduated to a nut milk bag which is phenomenal!

HOW TO MAKE OAT MILK from simpleveganblog.com.

Super-simple to make, just oats and water. The flavor is so pure and just works perfectly in recipes, too.

Till next time, friends!

Eat well and be well 🙂

Melanie

 

 

Dinner in 15 Minutes Flat

Here’s a re-post from way back in 2012 when I first started this blog:

 

Ever wonder after a tiring day at work, what’s for dinner? Once in awhile I find myself wandering through my depleted larder without a plan. Today I found a large russet potato, waiting patiently in the dark cabinet.

All I needed to create a hot meal were a few veggies and a couple pantry staples. I created this sauce base to work with any stray veggies I have hanging around in the fridge. Tonight I had diced onions, mushrooms and frozen peas. I popped the potato in the microwave and while it cooked:

I sauteed the onions in a bit of water in a non-stick pan, then added the mushrooms and sauteed a few minutes to soften. I added a tablespoon of tomato paste from a tube (so handy to have around) then deglazed the pan with a cup of veggie stock. I added 2 tablespoons of tamari sauce and a bit of dried thyme, then thickened the whole deal with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water. I got a nice smooth, shiny sauce.

By the time my potato was ready for mashing, so was my sauce. I stirred in my frozen peas last, so they didn’t get all wrinkly. I mashed up the potato with soy milk, salt and pepper. Quick, easy, real food. In 15 minutes flat.

 

Cornmeal-Molasses Waffles

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I was in the mood for waffles today. But not the usual sweet, refined version most of us are used to. I wanted something more substantial. A waffle with a deep, earthy flavor and  a chewy texture. A crunchy whole-grain chew beneath the sweet, buttery maple surface.

First, I was delighted to find a solid vegan waffle recipe online. And even more pleased to find I had all the ingredients on hand. This, in my opinion, is the mark of a fine recipe. Don’t make me run out to the store for that one “special” ingredient!

I took this wonderful basic recipe here from The One Ingredient Chef   and made modifications to suit my vision.

What I hearken to here is the original breakfast fare of the early American settlers, like I imagine Ma Ingalls used to make for Laura, Mary, Carrie and little baby Grace in the “Little House on The Prairie” books. The food of my heritage.

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I substituted molasses for the maple syrup and olive oil for the coconut. The flavor is darker and edgier, kind of like a full-bodied dark coffee.

Serve these crispy with Earth Balance Buttery Spread and warm (real) maple syrup. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Note: Don’t worry if your vegan waffles don’t get as crispy as you like no matter how long you leave them on the iron. You can always crisp them up in the toaster or in a 375 degree oven, laid directly on the rack for a few minutes.

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Sloppy Joe Sliders

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Here’s a new enlightened version of an old classic that is just perfect served in the traditional buns or over a bed of fresh-cooked grains.

Sloppy Joe Sliders

1 cup Cooked Lentils
1 cup Tempeh, crumbled
¼ Onion, large, chopped
½ med Green pepper, chopped
14 ounces Tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon Garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon Salt
1/16 teaspoon Black pepper
6 Slider Buns

Method:

1.Saute peppers and onions until soft. Add tomato sauce and seasonings to blend well. Add tempeh and cooked lentils and simmer until flavors are well incorporated, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or sugar.
2.Portion 1-2 tablespoons per slider and serve with sweet gherkin pickles as a garnish, if desired.

White Chili

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This alternative to traditional chili is a thick and hearty stew of white beans, yellow squash, onions and yellow bell peppers mingled with cumin, garlic and chili powder. You can spice it up or keep it mild.

White Chili

½ Sweet onion, diced
½ Yellow squash, diced
½ Jalapeno pepper, diced, with seeds
½ Yellow bell pepper, diced
Pinch Rosemary, dried
Pinch Oregano, dried
2 cloves Garlic , minced
1.2 tablespoons Olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon Cumin
½ teaspoon Chili powder
2 cups Veg stock
2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon Lime Juice
1.5 tablespoons Cornstarch, Mix w/ 6 T cold water
2 Corn tortillas, Julienned
1 tablespoon Cilantro, chopped

1. In large stockpot, saute vegetables in 2 T oil over medium-high heat 13 minutes.

2. Stir in cumin, chili powder and salt

3. Once veggies are soft, add 2 cups broth and bring to a simmer over low heat.

4. Puree 1 can of  beans in a food processor until smooth. Stir into soup until well incorporated. Stir in remaining beans, lime juice and cornstarch mixture. Cook for additional 10 minutes over medium-high heat until thickened, stirring occasionally.

5.Garnish with crisp-fried tortilla strips and cilantro.

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Deli-Style Potato Salad

 

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Here’s a plant-based side dish to bring to your Fourth of July get-together.  An enlightened egg-free version of a classic.

I promise no one will even suspect it’s egg-free!

Deli-Style Potato Salad

(from the official P.E.T.A. Website)

Ingredients:

6 medium potatoes, russet (if you use waxy potatoes, such as Redskin or Yukon, decrease cooking time to about 10 minutes)
½ cup vegan mayonnaise ( I prefer Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo)
¼ cup mustard, yellow
2 tbsp. vinegar (white or apple cider)
½ cup onion, white, chopped fine
½ cup celery, chopped fine
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Paprika for finishing (optional)

Method:
Cut potatoes into cubes and cook in boiling water 15-20 minutes. Drain and let cool completely. In a large bowl, combine with remaining ingredients. Sprinkle top with paprika.

 

 

The Best Plant-Based Cookbook is Waiting For You, And It’s Free!

 

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“Do you cook a lot?” asks the librarian behind the counter.

It’s after work, I’m in my chef jacket, stuffing a reusable shopping bag full of plant-based cookbooks I placed on hold a week or so ago.  A regular ritual for me.

“Um, yeah…I sure do. I’m a personal chef and I do a lot of recipe research here at the library!” I smile broadly as he helps me place yet one more gorgeously photographed hardback on my pile.

At home with my stack, I sit down in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and flip through one book at a time.

But I am not just looking at pretty pictures. I am on a mission. Seeking inspiration and also solid, no-nonsense recipes that I can modify or add to my regular repertoire.

What makes a good recipe, in my opinion?

  1. Reasonable number of ingredients. Reading a long list of stuff I need to buy/prep makes me exhausted before I even get started, so less is definitely better.
  2. Accessibility of ingredients. Can I find the items at my local grocery on a regular basis or are they seasonal or hard-to-find?
  3. Ease of preparation. Are there so many complicated recipe components that one dish takes two hours to cook? Unless it’s Christmas or I have committed my day to bread-baking or ravioli-making, that’s a deal-breaker for me.
  4. Recognition. Yes, familiarity. I have found for my clients, and for my family, we like to return to dishes and flavors again and again that are familiar to our experience. What says comfort to you?
  5. Cost. Some ingredients are just ridiculously expensive. Here is where you have to use your instinctual higher judgement. Some cookbook authors assume that money is no object on the quest for the perfect plant-based meal. Next.

Here are a couple highlights from this week’s haul:

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The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston (2016)

Why? This cookbook offers simple, economical no-nonsense recipes and lots of great everyday advice on making the transition to a vegan, plant-based lifestyle. I especially appreciate the relaxed language and easy-to-read page layouts with colorful images and text boxes throughout. A great starter book.

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Natural Feasts by Ella Mills (2017)

Why? First, a disclaimer. When you open it up you know you are stepping into a world. It’s easy to lose your way amidst the lush, natural light, the soft-focus images of radiantly healthy women and men beaming lovingly at one another over rustically styled food and furnishings and hand-picked botanicals. You get the sense that everyone loves Ella. And by the end, you realize you want to be Ella.

But behind all the window-dressing, Ella puts out quality recipes. I enjoyed her previous and more basic “Simply Ella” cookbook because she really focuses on creative combinations of whole foods in her recipes. Most of her dishes are low in sugar and oil and include simple, easy to find and afford ingredients, like butterbeans. Yes, butterbeans!

I highly recommend exploring your local library’s inventory of cookbooks to discover the right one(s) for you. Key words really matter when researching the database. Try vegan, plant-based, whole food, vegetarian, healthy, meatless, for example. And don’t give up entirely on conventional cookbooks and magazines for recipe inspiration. There are many recipes that are incidentally plant-based (like salad dressings, barbecue and other condiments).

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The book business being what it is, publishers are looking to appeal to the widest audience, so don’t get hung up on labels. I have found many excellent vegan recipes hiding between the pages of lacto-ovo vegetarian cookbooks.

I have read that folks are cooking less nowadays, opting instead for grab n’ go meals, food delivery services, personal chefs (yay), restaurant dining and takeout  more often than not.

Nevertheless, for those of us who read them (and need them) as well as those of us who just like the pretty pictures, the plant-based cookbooks keep flying off the presses. And thank goodness for that!

 

 

 

 

Thai Curry in a Hurry

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I just love when a dinner idea sparks my imagination and I happen to have everything on hand to create exactly what I envision. Inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant, I set out to make a sweet, spicy, creamy curry filled with fresh, delicious veggies.

This dish is quick and easy to prepare and works great with green or red curry pastes.  And it only takes a few minutes if you cook the rice ahead to warm at service time.

Thai Coconut Curry with Vegetables

¼ cup Thai green or red curry paste
4 ounces Mushrooms
4 ounces Carrot, sliced thinly
8 ounces Broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 Red bell pepper, cut into chunks

1/2 cup frozen peas

Note:  Substitute any vegetables for those listed.

13 ounces Coconut milk
1 tbsp. sweetener (optional, but tasty)
¾ cup Vegetable broth
2 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce

Squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)
¼ cup Cilantro, for garnish
2 cups brown rice, cooked

Method:

Take your hard vegetables, like carrots, celery, onions, peppers, broccoli and gently simmer them in the broth until crisp-tender. Now add all the other sauce ingredients and the soft veggies like mushrooms and peas. Bring it up to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more soy sauce for salty-ness if desired, a squeeze of lime for a mild sour influence or more sweetener, if desired. Balance the flavors. Finish with chopped cilantro.

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Note: If you have an Asian grocery in your town, check out their curry pastes. The one on the left costs $1.49 and tasted better than the one on the right from my local Whole Foods Market at $4.00! A little spicier, but hey, I like it that way!

John Legend’s Chili, Plant-Based Version

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I came across this recipe for chili in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings”. I decided to follow the recipe exactly (with a slight variation) just to find out what ole John is up to in the kitchen when he’s not at the piano working on another chart-topping single.

It’s super-simple if you’ve ever cooked a pot of soup. The recipe follows what I call standard procedure: saute the aromatics and vegetables, add seasonings and liquid, simmer and adjust seasonings. In this case I always save the beans for last, which I have pre-cooked, so they don’t fall apart.

I substituted Gardein meatless crumbles for the ground beef in John’s recipe and I would suggest taking it easy on the seasoning salt, depending on how much salt is in your tomato sauce. I also cut the original recipe’s measurement of 1 teaspoon ground red pepper down to 1/4 teaspoon, but you do you 🙂

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John Legend’s Chili

1 1/2 – 2 cups Gardein Meatless Crumbles
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. seasoning salt (preferably Lawry’s)
3 tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 tbsp. garlic,minced
2 cans tomato sauce, 14.5 ounces each

2 cups water
2 cans Kidney beans, 14.5 ounces each
2 tbsp. brown sugar, light

Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in a bit of oil or water.

Add seasonings, crumbles, tomato sauce and water. Bring to simmer until thickened.

Add beans and taste, adding more salt or spice as desired.

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Dixie Dharma Vegan Restaurant, Bakery and Bar, Orlando

 

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Breakfast at Dixie Dharma              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

When traveling, we are always on the hunt for vegan eateries and this past weekend was no exception. iPhone technology has been a real game-changer in this regard and driving through the Orlando area we were able to nimbly avoid the Disney-bound traffic and score a real winner in Dixie Dharma vegan restaurant!

Market on South, which houses Dixie Dharma, is a vendor collective, located on the first floor of a small, gray two-story just off the interstate and abutting a picturesque and visibly gentrifying suburb of Orlando. The building itself seems oddly placed alongside an old barber shop with a gravel parking lot alongside, but don’t be put off by the funky surroundings. This place is not to be missed.

A small, but clean and cozy interior offers comfy, mismatched tables and chairs, a few booths and a short row of barstools at the counter, overlooking the open kitchen.

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Dixie Dharma interior, order counter/bakery          Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

We arrived early, around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The restaurant was quiet, but the bakery cases were fully stocked with goods from Valhalla  and Valkyrie vegan bakeries.

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Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery case                Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

 

The cashier was friendly, attentive and fast! We ordered the dirty scramble and the biscuits and gravy along with two hot cups of coffee. While waiting for our food, we perused the various offerings for sale from local artists and artisans displayed on the shelves surrounding the dining room.

Meanwhile, the back of the kitchen bustled with energy as the row of cooling racks filled with fresh-baked cakes and cookies. Every now and then a baker would emerge, producing a huge iced and decorated layer cake to place in the cold display case with a price tag marked $50.

A line of eager patrons started to form as our food was delivered. Young, fit couples, some with baby strollers, many in athletic wear, an occasional smiling grandma in tow, ordered vegan doughnuts and coffee, seating themselves in a happy, relaxed smattering about the place.

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Dixie Dharma Dirty Scramble

 

The food was flavorful with generous portions! The dirty scramble in particular, I think, could have fed two or even three people for breakfast! The coffee tasted smooth and fresh. All in all,  one of the best vegan breakfasts I have ever eaten on the road.

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Dixie Dharma Biscuits and Gravy with Maple Bourbon Sausage           Photo: Melanie daPonte

 

The vibe was so low-key and comfortable I was sure we would return for a late lunch and a few choice baked goods before we headed for home.

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Dixie Dharma outdoor seating in front of building         Photo credit: Melanie daPonte


 

At lunch, the place was really at peak business with a long line waiting up front, but the staff was breezy and professional as they went about taking orders and delivering food to both seated diners and takeout customers.  We shared the chili dogs with ‘tater salad at one of the large picnic tables in the back yard.

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Dixie Dharma Chili Dawgs             Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

I can see why Dixie Dharma is famous for their vegan hot dog truck! The dogs were the best vegan franks I’ve ever tasted. I swear you couldn’t tell they were meatless. And the Indian-spiced chili was hearty and wholesome–filled with beans and lentils. A truly substantial meal before our drive back to Palm Beach County.

Saving the best for last, our visit couldn’t be complete without a sampling of the beautiful bakery offerings. There were just too many choices and I had to be reasonable, breaking it down logically. I have to be careful not to lose my head in the face of such a decadent display of sweet vegan goodness!

Although there were so many treats I wanted to sample,  I only had this one shot, so here is my selection:

Bourbon Chocolate Chunk

Thick, sweet bourbon vanilla buttercream chocolate chunk cookie sandwich.

Cake Slice

I fine wedge of chocolate layer cake expertly filled and iced with vanilla buttercream

(like birthday cake)

Lemon Bar

Lemon curd on a shortbread crust with crumb topping

Chocolate Brownie

Dark chocolate brownie, dipped in more melted chocolate

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Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery selection              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

It was a tough choice. Of course we had to try the cookies, and the cake and the buttercream and the brownies. The lemon bar was a wild card and I ordered it simply because I don’t like squeezing lemons and no vegan bakery in my town makes them!

What we didn’t order (this time):  Vegan cheesecake,  fruit cobbler, cupcakes, mini-cream pies, a chocolate-coated ‘Naimo(?)’ bar–which looked amazing, vegan doughnuts, a ‘brookie’ which is chocolate chip cookie dough baked on top of a brownie!! There’s more I am forgetting to be sure.

We we got home we sampled each item and they were delicious! Over time we have learned to manage these multiple item bakery sprees by cutting each item into small portions, say, the cookie sandwich into four quarters, and freezing them on a sheet tray, then transferring to an airtight container. Weeks later (or days) later we can enjoy them again.

Dixie Dharma was a delight. Wholesome, plant-based meals, a uniquely creative menu and presentations, outrageous, professionally-baked desserts, friendly, competent staff. They open at 8:00 a.m. and close at midnight!

We plan to make this outstanding vegan restaurant, bakery and artisan marketplace a regular destination every time we are in the Orlando vicinity!

DIXIE DHARMA WEBSITE

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