Nutty Tahini Fudge

This is a delicious candy alternative and so easy to stir together. It takes a little time to set up in the freezer, but well worth the wait.  This is a treat that is gluten and dairy free. If nuts are something you avoid, add in chopped pumpkin or sunflower seeds for texture in place of the almonds.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cacao butter or coconut oil
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 dried cranberries or cherries (optional)

Melt the cacao butter or coconut oil in a mixing bowl over a pot of steaming water.  When melted, add the tahini, cacao powder, maple syrup and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine into until smooth. Then add in the chopped nuts and dried fruit, if using.

Line a small rimmed dish with parchment paper and pour in the mixture, smoothing out the top.

Chill in the freezer for two hours, cut and serve. Keep refrigerated. Fudge will last for two weeks in refrigerator, longer in the freezer.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Molasses Ginger Cookies

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, soft
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink or grey salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a blender to mix the coconut oil, coconut sugar, pumpkin and molasses together until smooth. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Then add the pumpkin mixture and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, just until the flour is completely incorporated. The dough is a little thin, so use a 2 tablespoon scoop to spoon the dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle a little coconut or cane sugar over each mound of dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cookies start to crisp around the edges. Let cool and enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Fig Relish

  • 8 dried figs, softened and chopped
  • One 8 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (about 2 cups)
  • 1 navel orange (rind removed using a sharp vegetable peeler and chopped, peel and cut into chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar, powdered
  • 2 tablespoons or more, coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

 

Coarsely chop the figs in a food processor. Add cranberries, orange pieces and rind and pulse to chop and combine with figs. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.  Pour into container and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

If the sauce is overly liquid, add a tablespoon ground chia seeds, stir well to mix evenly and let sit to thicken.

Can be made one week ahead. Keeps well in fridge and/or freezer. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy this relish with herbed hemp spread, as a tart filling with sliced fruit, as a canape topping or spooned over roasted squash! Or really any way you wish.

Herbed Hemp-Pine Nut Spread

  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup pine nuts (may substitute macadamia or cashews)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of white miso (can be omitted – add ½ t salt)
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • water
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary

Combine everything, except the herbs, in a food processor or  blender and process until a thick paste forms. Start slowly with the water by adding 3 tablespoons initially and adding more if needed. When the consistency is reached, add the herbs and pulse to combine.

Serve this as a spread or dip. This can be layered with pesto, olive tapenade or cranberry orange fig relish to make a festive presentation.

Should You Eat the Impossible Burger?

Eating more plants is one of the best things you can do for your health. Fruits and vegetables are the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet and were created to be the perfect foods for us (at least that’s my perspective). From nutritional research I’ve learned that plant foods are key players when it comes to supplying the nutrients necessary for the body to recover, prevent and reverse disease. Clinical studies show a positive impact in all body systems from gum health to immune regulation to heart disease and more when plant foods are increased.

There’s been a lot of interest and marketing hype about the plant burgers on the market now especially with the introduction of the Impossible burger. Although the Beyond burger has improved it’s original formulation and is “meatier’ and has been available for a couple years now, the Impossible burger is new and has been reviewed as tasting so close to beef, that it’s hard to tell the difference, it even bleeds like beef. (For those who are grossed out by meat, these burgers would not be appealing.)

So should the Beyond burger and Impossible burger be thought of as healthy and a beneficial plant based option for those seeking to increase their plant consumption? Many people think that because they are plant-based, they must be good for you. However, to determine that, the ingredients should be considered even when the nutritional label looks good, as I recommend with any food product.  Both burgers have highly processed ingredients. There is not one whole plant food in either one. Take a look at the labels…

Beyond Burger ingredients: water, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, contains 2% or less of the following: cellulose from bamboo, methylcellulose, potato starch, natural flavor, maltodextrin, yeast extract, salt, sunflower oil, vegetable glycerin, dried yeast, gum Arabic, citrus extract (to protect quality), ascorbic acid (to maintain color), beet juice extract (for color), acetic acid, succinic acid, modified food starch, annatto (for color).

Impossible Burger ingredients: Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12

Both burgers are formulated to be similar in protein content, fat and taste to beef. Although neither burger claims to be whole food based, the “plant-derived” and “plant-based” marketing message makes them seem healthy and appealing to those consumers who are interested in increasing their plant consumption or for those concerned about reducing the environmental effects of the meat industry.  They may certainly be better for animals and the environment, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy for us to eat?  They should be considered  a processed food, and should make up only a very small portion of the diet, if any. To maintain or improve health, whole plant foods should make up the majority of food that’s consumed.

Is one burger healthier than the other?  I believe the Beyond burger is the better choice, mainly because it does not contain GMO leghemoglobin-yeast and soy, which are present in the Impossible burger. There are studies that show the detrimental affects of consuming different GMO foods (See Institute of Responsible Technology and Genetic Roulette).  For that reason alone, I will not eat the Impossible burger. There have not been any long term human studies evaluating the consumption of that particular kind of GMO food. It is something our bodies have never been exposed to before. So no one really knows what will result. The Center For Food Safety, which is a watchdog group that opposes genetically engineered food, has asked the FDA to recall the Impossible burger because of safety concerns about the genetically engineered soy and heme.

The fact that these burgers are created in a laboratory and they are not something I can replicate in my kitchen also influences my choice not to consume them. The whole foods created for us by the Creator provide better health results. Those foods are whole plant based foods including: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If animal products are included, keeping the quantity low and quality high (studies show that it should be 2-3 oz. 2 X week or less and grass fed, organic and wild caught) has shown positive results in maintaining health.

But please keep in mind, that with increases in animal based foods, health risks also increase. The imitation burgers can possibly meet a need for those transitioning to a more pant focused diet. But whole foods need to be the focus with the occasional processed or animal based food.

For a plant-based burger recipe that does not mimic beef, check out my recipe HERE

Golden Pumpkin Spice Honey

This recipe is so nice to have on hand for making quick warm spiced drinks to enjoy in place of your morning cup of coffee or as a relaxing evening cup of comfort.

  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon utmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon clove powder
  • 1/4 cup honey

Mix everything together in a small container and jar.

When ready to use, spoon 1 teaspoon into warm plant milk or hot water, stir and allow the spices to disperse andsteep for 5 minutes Enjoy!

this honey mixture can also be stirred into coffee, hot cocoa or drizzled over plant yogurt or baked apple dessert, or blended into a smoothie.

Chickpea Oat Burgers

  • 1 T flax or chia meal plus 3T water
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup mixed chopped veggies (carrots, celery, cauliflower, turnips, peppers, onion)
  • 1 can white beans or chickpeas, mashed

Combine flax meal and water in a small bowl, stir and set aside to thicken.

Combine spices, oats and flour in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the water and mix well.

Add the flax mixture. Stir well.

In a food processor or with a knife, finely chop the vegetables and add to the oat mixture.The vegetables can be anything you have on hand or need to use up.

Use a fork to mash the beans in a bowl and add the beans to the oat mixture.

Mix well pressing everything together to form a firm dough.

Use a half cup measure to scoop and make into patties.

*Flavor profiles:

For Buffalo burgers, substitute buffalo sauce for a portion of the water. For Mexican burgers, add 3 T of salsa and 1 t of cumin. For Smokey Mushroom, add 1 cup mushrooms sauteed until dry and add 1 tsp smoked paprika.

To cook:

Place skillet over medium heat, spray with a little oil if necessary, place burgers into pan and cover, cook for 5 minutes on each side.

Burgers should be light brown on each side, cook longer if needed.

To bake a larger amount, place burgers on a lightly oiled sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes, flipping half way through cooking time. This recipe can be made in larger quantities and patties frozen for quick and easy dinners.

Nutty Stuffed Delicata Squash

This recipe comes together quickly, but will take about 40 minutes to bake depending on the size of your squash. The one I used in this recipe was pretty large for a Delicata. But this recipe works with any size squash.  Delicata is easy to work with because there’s no need to peel this squash, the skin is tender enough to eat and doesn’t really have much flavor.  Just be sure to wash the squash before using.

The filling is a combination of sauteed onions, garlic and nuts. I used almonds and walnuts, but pecans and pine nuts could be thrown into the mix as well. To bind these together we’ll mix equal parts chickpea flour and water, add some nutritional yeast and plant milk and any herbs you’d like to bump up the flavor. Mix this with the onions and nuts and spoon into the squash. Place in the oven and bake until tender.

Here’s the quantities I used:

  • 1 large Delicata squash
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup almonds, shopped or slivered (pecans, hazelnuts)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (pine nuts or seeds)
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T plant milk
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast ( to your liking)
  • fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme or go sweeter with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove)

Wash your squash, halve it and scoop out the seeds. in a bowl, combine the chickpea flour, water, plant milk and nutritional yeast. In a skillet over medium high heat, saute onion and garlic until soft and golden. Add the nuts, herbs, a couple pinches of salt and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and pour in flour mixture. Stir to evenly mix. Spoon this into the squash halves. Depending on the size of your squash, you may have extra filling. If you do, cook the filling in muffin tins, it will make a mock mini quiche.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced.

 

Cauliflower Happiness + 3 Recipes

I’m sure the cauliflower farmers are happy with all the new cauliflower products out there (pizza, buffalo tenders, tortillas) and the push to substitute this bland low carbohydrate vegetable for potatoes and rice. But we can be happy as well, because it is easy to prepare and is a nutritional powerhouse boasting high amounts of vitamin C and B6, calcium, magnesium phosphorus and potassium, antioxidants and fiber. All this leads to improving memory, inflammatory response, blood pressure, cardiovascular risk and cancer reduction.

I love it and use it as a base for cream sauces, frozen and added to smoothies, and as the star of a crunchy turmeric salad. If you try these recipes, please leave a comment.

Creamy White Sauce / Gravy 

  • 4 cups cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 cup yellow onion
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (how you like it)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup broth or plant milk
  • 1 T white miso
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or thyme, oregano, marjoram)
  • pinch cayenne or black pepper to taste
  • For Gravy: 1 lb mushrooms, sliced

Add the cauliflower, onion, garlic and water to a pot, bring to a boil and turn heat down to low, cover for 10 minutes until cauliflower is very tender. When done cooking, add the mixture to a blender along with the cashews, broth/milk, miso, and seasonings. Let cool a bit so the heat doesn’t blow the top off the blender. 🙂  Blend for a full minute, scrape down the sides of container and blend for another 30 seconds. It should be thick and creamy.  Use this as a white sauce for noodles, over root vegetables to make a scalloped casserole, in a squash lasagna or to make creamed greens.  For a gravy, slice and saute mushrooms and another cup of chopped onions, and pour this sauce into the pan once the mushrooms have cooked and lost most of their moisture. Use the gravy over grains, cooked with lentils, on top of veggie burgers or as a Rague with kale, chard and collard greens.

Cauliflower Berry Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup nut or oat milk
  • add in to your taste, some cinnamon & ginger, or maca & cacao

Blend everything until thick and smooth. Drink Up!

Turmeric Cauliflower Salad 

  • 4-5 cups cauliflower florets in bite size pieces
  • 2 T red onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (optional)
  • 1/2 cup veganaise
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric,(more to taste)
  • 1 T rice or cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Break up the florets and add to a mixing bowl along with the onion, celery and chickpeas. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the veganaise, turmeric, vinegar, mustard and pepper. Taste this and see if you’d like more turmeric. Stir this into the cauliflower mixture, tossing to coat everything with the dressing. chill and serve. Keeps for 5 days.

Berry Oat Mylk

Making your own oat mylk is so easy and economical. Adding berries takes it to a new level of enjoyment and can be frozen into popsicles.

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups berries, your choice or use cherries, mango, kiwi or pineapple
  • softened dates, depending on the sweetness of fruit. I usually add 5 and adjust more after tasting if needed.
  • Adding spices/herbs that you like add a nice flavor variation (cinnamon, chili, cardamom, nutmeg, mint, basil, etc.)

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You can drink it like this, but I prefer to strain out the remaining oat fiber and berry seeds, so I pour the mixture through a nut milk bag or fine strainer/sieve. Refrigerate and enjoy by the glassful, poured over granola or chopped fruit, or freeze in popsicle molds or ice cubes trays for frozen treat..