Tag: vegetarian

The Ultimate “Noocho” Cheese Sauce!

It'll be worth the read to get to this dairy-free noocho cheese recipe at the end!

It’ll be worth the read to get to this dairy-free noocho cheese recipe at the end!

One of the reasons a lot of us don’t take the time to cook or try out new recipes is because we are afraid of failing, fearful that we will “mess it up” and that it will have been a waste of money on food.

We’ve all been there, right?

I often¬†experiment with recipes I’ve never made before and ingredients I’ve never used. I learn what I like through trial and error and take the “will this really taste good?” guesswork out of it for you ūüôā

As I continue to focus on a dairy-free lifestyle because of how much better I feel eating this way, I’m sometimes challenged to find¬†comparable alternatives to dairy-based favorites.

In my last post, I shared one of the key ingredients I now use in my cooking to impart some “cheesy” flavor. I promised that one of the recipes I would share with you would be a dairy-free nacho cheese sauce¬†(AKA “noocho” cheese, since nutritional yeast¬†or “nooch” is what gives it its “cheesy” taste).

Most of the time when I prepare new recipes, they¬†turn out great and taste delicious, and I can’t wait to share them with friends and family.

Other times…they don’t.¬†That’s what happened with noocho cheese attempt #1.

Not-so-nacho cheese...first recipe attempted - won't be making this one again!

Not-so-nacho cheese…first recipe attempted – won’t be making this one again!

It lacked flavor, and no matter what I added or even if I heated it up on the stove, I couldn’t get it to taste right…and it definitely¬†didn’t resemble nacho cheese.

Fortunately, using a recipe from this cookbook, noocho cheese attempt #2 was a HIT!

Bill and I made it on Friday night and brought it to a friend’s house as an appetizer, and they liked it, too. Check out the recipe below. You will not regret making this stuff! ūüôā

The Ultimate “Noocho” Cheese Sauce

Yum Yum Cheesy Goodness!

Yum Yum Cheesy Goodness!

Ingredients*

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and then rinsed (Trader Joe’s has the cheapest)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 roasted red pepper (rinsed from a jar or prepared from fresh)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tamari (tamari is gluten-free soy sauce and is in the Asian food aisle…or low-sodium soy sauce)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup water

Click here for the full recipe!

We served it with our favorite healthier chips, which I will share more about in my next post! I enjoyed some leftover sauce the next day with baby carrots.  You have to try this!

*There’s a good chance that a couple of things in this recipe aren’t¬†already in your pantry…don’t let that stop you! Ordering online at Amazon or Vitacost is super easy, or you can pick them up the next time you’re at the store.

If you don’t know where to find something, ask.¬†I’ve found that people are happy to help!

  • Tahini (find in the international section¬†of most grocery stores, in any natural food store, or online.)
  • Roasted red peppers (sold in glass jars in the non-refrigerated section of the grocery store)
  • Nutritional yeast (you can buy this¬†online at Amazon, Vitacost or other retailers, or at any natural food store, Wegmans, Whole Foods, MOMs, or Roots)

Lemon Tahini Kale Salad Recipe {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Paleo}

I love kale. 

Prior to about 4 years ago, I had never eaten kale, and, to be honest, I didn’t even know what it was.¬†I had no idea that the leafy green garnishes I had seen at buffets or the “leaves” on Edible Arrangements were none other than…kale!

Saw this sign on a walk and DC and had to take a picture. It's so true!

Saw this sign on a walk and DC and had to take a picture. It’s so true!

Kale is an absolute¬†nutritional powerhouse.¬†It scores a whopping 1,000 points on the¬†ANDI scale, which stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index,” a scoring system that rates foods on a scale from 1 to 1,000 based on nutrient content. To give some context, blueberries (another super healthy food) receive a score of 132. Kale is¬†cancer fighting, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and loaded with bone-building and brain-boosting nutrients. This leafy green is definitely a standout!

We use kale in everything from smoothies and salads to soups, stir-fries and sautees. It is super versatile and a great way to pack a nutritional punch at any meal. It’s also one of the “Dirty Dozen” veggies that is most likely to be contaminated with harmful pesticides, so it’s important to buy it organic.

A Christmas gift from my dad - 50 Shade of Kale cookbook!

A Christmas gift from my dad – 50 Shade of Kale cookbook!

A few years ago, I befriended two holistic health coaches, who were trained by the health coaching program I recently completed and were a big part of the reason I pursued it. They introduced me to their delicious¬†5-flavor kale salad…one that has now become my absolute favorite and a staple in our house!

I bring this salad to potlucks and parties and enjoy it probably once a week for dinner. It’s the way that I introduce friends, family and clients to kale when they’ve never had it before. I haven’t had anyone turn it down yet, and it’s now my dad’s favorite, go-to salad, too. He raves about it!

5-Flavor Kale Salad

Dressing ingredients & a head of dino kale for the 5-flavor kale salad

Dressing ingredients & a head of dino kale for the 5-flavor kale salad

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. raw tahini (sesame paste)
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (add more to taste)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (we use Grade B)
1 Tbsp. tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) OR coconut aminos
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves crushed raw or roasted garlic
dash of sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Salad:
1 large bunch curly kale or dino kale (stems removed), washed and chopped (dino kale is also called Tuscan Kale or Lacinato Kale and holds up best in this recipe)
2/3 cup Dressing
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded carrots

Click here for the full recipe!

5-Flavor Kale Salad served with garlic ginger shrimp & quinoa and roasted zucchini

5-Flavor Kale Salad served with garlic ginger shrimp & quinoa and roasted zucchini

The Secrets to Cooking Perfect Quinoa…Revealed!

Quinoa is everywhere these days.

Popping up in funny¬†Miller Lite commercials¬†in the form of “queen-o” burgers.

Receiving props worldwide with 2013 being deemed “The International Year of Quinoa.” (Seriously, there is such a thing!)

And showing up on grocery store shelves in everything from cereals to snack foods.

All the while driving people crazy with its less than phonetic spelling!

Here are some fun facts about this hearty little seed:

  • It’s pronounced “KEEN-wah.”
  • It’s technically a seed¬†or pseudocereal and is¬†harvested from a plant related to beets and spinach.
  • It comes in a variety of colors (red, white, black, orange, brown, pink, pale yellow).
  • It’s a complete protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids) and is¬†packed with nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
  • There is a naturally occurring, bitter outer coating on quinoa called saponin that needs to be rinsed off prior to eating, otherwise it will be bitter.
  • It doesn’t contain gluten, the sticky protein found in barley, rye, wheat, and a few other grains, so it is safe for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerances.
  • Swap it out to replace rice or couscous to change up your recipes.

IMG_3428

Where do you buy quinoa?

I buy a big 4 pound bag for $10-$15 at BJs Wholesale Club, and it lasts for months. You can find it cheap at Trader Joe’s¬†and in the bulk section of grocery stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods¬†as well as in natural food stores like MOMs and Roots Market. All major grocery stores sell it these days, but it’s cheaper to buy it in bulk at the stores above or wholesale clubs than in a box at Safeway.

Want to know the secrets to cooking perfect quinoa every time? Follow these steps!

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or low sodium vegetable stock (some people find using a little less liquid – 1.75 cups – works well, too, but I’ve always used two!)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Optional ingredient: Instead of sea salt, use a thumb-size piece of kombu (you find this seaweed online or at any of the stores listed above). When you add kombu to grains (and beans) while cooking them, it infuses them with minerals, makes the grain more digestible, and reduces acidity and gas!

  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. This gets rid of the bitter coating, so it is an important step!
  2. Put the rinsed quinoa, water and salt (or kombu, if using) in a pot.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. DO NOT STIR THE QUINOA WHILE IT IS COOKING.¬†It will not cook properly if you do.¬†If you want to check on it, just remove the lid and tilt the pot a little – if the water hasn’t been absorbed, keep simmering.
  5. When all the water is absorbed and the curly white tail¬†“pops” off the quinoa, you know it’s done!
  6. Remove the pot from the heat, and discard the kombu (if using).
  7. Fluff quinoa with a fork. Let it cool slightly (10-15 minutes) before serving.

For the more visual learners, check out this one-minute video that shows you how to cook quinoa!

Unfortunately, many people’s first experience with this nutrient-packed seed is eating it plain, and they are often so scarred by that experience that they never to try it again.

I love quinoa, but¬†I don’t like plain quinoa it’s boring and bland!

In my next post, I’ll be sharing my favorite way to prepare this super seed along with a few other delicious recipes, so stay tuned! Hooray for no more boring quinoa! ūüôā

Walnut Tacos with Dairy-Free Sour Cream

I originally wrote this post in February 2014, but since then I have made some tweaks to the recipes to make them my own and improve them. I served these at a workshop I did today, and my coworkers LOVED them. One person even said she likes them better than regular tacos ūüôā

——————————————————————————————————-

My husband Bill and I saw The Lego Movie last week, which inspired me to bring a raw taco recipe to work this week for our Real Food Challenge and to celebrate Taco Tuesday!LEGO Taco Tuesday Guy Set 71004-12

When I think of tacos, I think of the crunchy, salty Old El Paso shells filled with seasoned ground beef and variety of other toppings, like cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Some of those toppings are healthy, but others aren’t. Instead of giving up tacos, why not put a new, healthier spin on them?!

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is reinventing our favorite comfort foods, so they are healthier but just as (if not more!) delicious and flavorful.

I prepared the “meat” and “cream” for today’s Taco Tuesday lunch for my coworkers, and it was a HUGE hit! Skeptics and believers alike raved about these tacos and dairy-free sour cream, so I’m going to share with you the recipes for how to make them!

The secret ingredient in the “meat”? Walnuts!

raw walnut tacos taco meat closeup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1¬†tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) – You can find this in the Asian section of most grocery stores or online. Use coconut aminos to make this dish paleo.
  • 1 head of baby Romaine lettuce (use one leaf as the taco “shell”)

Add your own toppings, including but not limited to the following:

  • Dairy-free sour cream (below!)
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Brown rice
  • Diced onions
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Diced avocados
  • Diced tomatoes

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles the size and texture of ground meat!

Now, on to the sour cream! ūüôā

whole taco

Since I stopped consuming milk products a few years ago for health reasons, I’ve had to find alternatives to the creamy goodness of dairy, and I’ve been happy with the recipes and options I’ve tried.¬†I will be devoting several blog posts in the future to some of my favorite deliciously dairy-free recipes, but for today, we’re going to spotlight a recipe for sour cream…without the cream.

The secret ingredient? Cashews!

Cashews can be used as a base for creamy, dairy-free sauces, dips, spreads, and even cheesecakes (Zia’s makes the best!). When you soak cashews overnight in water, they get really soft and can be blended together with savory ingredients to create a delicious, dairy-free alternative to sour cream.

words sourcream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and then rinsed and drained
  • 3¬†tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon¬†raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. I had to use the tamper for my Vitamix to push it down.

**If you don’t have a high speed blender, you will likely need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides and might need to add a bit more water to thin it out.

The taco “meat” should be able to last a few days in the fridge, since there are no cooked ingredients in it, and the sour cream will likely be good for up to a week.

Enjoy!

It’s Taco Tuesday! Walnut Tacos & Dairy-Free Sour Cream {Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free}

I originally wrote this post in February 2014, but since then I have made some tweaks to the recipes to make them my own and improve them. I served these at a workshop I did today, and my coworkers LOVED them. One person even said she likes them better than regular tacos ūüôā

——————————————————————————————————-

My husband Bill and I saw The Lego Movie last week, which inspired me to bring a raw taco recipe to work this week for our Real Food Challenge and to celebrate Taco Tuesday!LEGO Taco Tuesday Guy Set 71004-12

When I think of tacos, I think of the crunchy, salty Old El Paso shells filled with seasoned ground beef and variety of other toppings, like cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Some of those toppings are healthy, but others aren’t. Instead of giving up tacos, why not put a new, healthier spin on them?!

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is reinventing our favorite comfort foods, so they are healthier but just as (if not more!) delicious and flavorful.

I prepared the “meat” and “cream” for today’s Taco Tuesday lunch for my coworkers, and it was a HUGE hit! Skeptics and believers alike raved about these tacos and dairy-free sour cream, so I’m going to share with you the recipes for how to make them!

The secret ingredient in the “meat”? Walnuts!

raw walnut tacos taco meat closeup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1¬†tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) – You can find this in the Asian section of most grocery stores or online. Use coconut aminos to make this dish paleo.
  • 1 head of baby Romaine lettuce (use one leaf as the taco “shell”)

Add your own toppings, including but not limited to the following:

  • Dairy-free sour cream (below!)
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Brown rice
  • Diced onions
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Diced avocados
  • Diced tomatoes

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles the size and texture of ground meat!

Now, on to the sour cream! ūüôā

whole taco

Since I stopped consuming milk products a few years ago for health reasons, I’ve had to find alternatives to the creamy goodness of dairy, and I’ve been happy with the recipes and options I’ve tried.¬†I will be devoting several blog posts in the future to some of my favorite deliciously dairy-free recipes, but for today, we’re going to spotlight a recipe for sour cream…without the cream.

The secret ingredient? Cashews!

Cashews can be used as a base for creamy, dairy-free sauces, dips, spreads, and even cheesecakes (Zia’s makes the best!). When you soak cashews overnight in water, they get really soft and can be blended together with savory ingredients to create a delicious, dairy-free alternative to sour cream.

words sourcream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and then rinsed and drained
  • 2-3¬†tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (start with 2 T then taste and add a third¬†if needed. I prefer just under 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water (or more for desired consistency)

Directions

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. I had to use the tamper for my Vitamix to push it down.

**If you don’t have a high speed blender, you will likely need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides and might need to add a bit more water to thin it out.

The taco “meat” should be able to last a few days in the fridge, since there are no cooked ingredients in it, and the sour cream will likely be good for up to a week.

Enjoy!

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