Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing

I finally got around to making this salad dressing and I’m happy that I did. I added to a Tex-Mex salad and…..YES! Yummy!

Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing on top of Tex-Mex Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews (soak 1 – 2 hours if you do not have a high-speed blender)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TBS)
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp snipped chives (or the top green part of green onions)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender for a very smooth dressing.

Note: This recipe contains 50-70 calories per TBS. (50 calories if you only use 1/2 cup cashews)

Buckwheat and Millet Pancakes

This is my go-to recipe for breakfast (in addition to a morning smoothie which I usually have while cooking pancakes). Notice there aren’t any sweeteners, gums or extra fillers in this gluten-free recipe. Just the basic ingredients and I enjoy them with unsulphured molasses, a touch of maple syrup and cold-pressed flax seed oil (an optional boost of Omega-3’s).

Ingredients:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup millet flour
2 TBS ground flax seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
2 cups nut milk (or water will work just as well)
2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. Heat a hot griddle or skillet over low to medium heat.
  2. Mix all ingredients together well, except for the baking powder
  3. Allow to sit about 2 – 3 minutes for the flax seeds to help bind the mixture. (The ground flax seeds is a plant-based substitution for eggs.)
  4. Add a bit more nut milk or water to attain the consistency needed to pour the pancake batter onto a griddle.
  5. Add baking powder and mix slightly. ( You can add another tablespoon of water to help the powder dissolve easily.)
  6. Add just a touch of oil if needed(I prefer coconut oil when needed) to your griddle or skillet.
  7. Cook the pancakes. (They should be easy to pour from the bowl and form round circles on the cooking surface. If not, you can use a spoon to spread a bit or add more liquid).

Note: I make my own buckwheat and millet flours using a Vitamix grain container that has a specific blade for grinding grains.

Guacamole – Quick and Easy

Add all of the following ingredients to a food processor and give it a whirl!

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 lemon or lime or both, juiced
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 1/2 – 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 of jalapeno (I usually remove most of the seeds for a milder version.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of “tightly packed” cilantro (I usually add a bit of parsley too)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of sea salt, optional
Before
After

Keeping Herbs Fresh in the Refrigerator

As many of you know I do have a couple of gardens growing, but I haven’t perfected my herb garden attempting to grow. So meanwhile, I will just continue to purchase them in the store.  Yet, I just hate it when I don’t get to use them all before they wilt and turn brown (and disgusting).  Perhaps I’m just not using enough in my recipes.  (NOTE TO SELF – and anyone else reading this blog:  “Try using handfuls of herbs instead of tablespoons to really add flavor to dishes.”)

As soon as I bring parsley and cilantro home I start the preservation process.  Here are the steps:

  1. Rinse them lightly and blotted dry with a paper towel and remove any brown wilted leaves
  2. Fill a glass jar with an inch of water (use glass so that you can easily see when it’s time to change the water)
  3. Place the herbs still bound by a tie or a rubber band into the jar
  4. Cover lightly with the plastic bag that you possibly brought them home in 
  5. Every couple of days when the water seems cloudy, change the water and remove any new brown wilted leaves

When ready to use, remove a few and clean with fresh water.  Some herbs will last well past two weeks.

Chili Fritos

I found this recipe at the Minimalist Baker’s blog. It is definitely a good alternative to those brand name chips. (Hey, I hear ya….I was addicted to those chili Fritos too, but….hear me out.) Here is my personal review:

I give these 3.5 out of 5 stars. Knowing that the reason they didn’t score higher is likely because this was the first time I tried making these. The seasoning was SPOT ON! (Confirmed by another family member.) Yet, the texture or crunch was not quite right. I intend to try various tortillas to get the desired outcome I’m looking for.

Ingredients:

  • 6 yellow corn tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s corn tortillas)
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive or avocado oil (I used a blend of these)
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder (I used taco seasoning instead, didn’t have any chili powder)
  • 1 tsp each cumin, onion powder, garlic powder*
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional, for a chili-cheese flavor)
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use convection setting if available.
  2. Add all seasonings to a large bowl and mix/whisk well. Set aside.
  3. Use a pizza cutter or kitchen scissors to cut the tortillas into Frito-sized strips. To accomplish this I cut the tortillas first into three parts using two horizontal cuts. Then I made the vertical cuts which resulted into the perfectly sized strips.
  4. Place corn strips onto a baking sheet. I covered the baking sheet with parchment paper. Add oil and toss the strips around to get them thoroughly coated in oil.
  5. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until crispy and be careful not to burn during the last couple of baking minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and immediately toss the tortilla strips into the bowl with seasonings.
Something to consider: I think the next time I make these I will toss in the seasonings before baking. I season my sweet potato bites prior to baking and I think these will turn out just fine too. This way, I believe the seasonings will stick to the chips much better (without the need to add any additional oil). I will report back to you on this in the near future.
If you try it, let me know what tortillas you used for this recipe. Happy crunching!

Apples and Dip Party Platter

I’ve had the opportunity to share this recipe at quite a few parties this Christmas season and it has received great reviews. Most are very surprised when they discover that the ‘caramel’ dip doesn’t contain any sugar or dairy. (Surprise…it’s made using dates!)
Ingredients:
  • 4 large Fuji or Gala Apples (I think I would even enjoy Granny Smith)

Date ‘caramel’ sauce:
  • 8 Medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond (recipe says that coconut milk is also an option)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (alcohol free vanilla extract is also an option)
  • dash of sea salt

Other toppings:
  • Walnuts and/or pecans
  • Raisins and/or dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp tahini or almond butter

Directions:
  1. Blend together all the ingredients for the caramel sauce until smooth. If not using a high-speed blender, it would be best to soak the dates in the water prior to blending
  2. Cut the apples into thin wedges, arrange on a platter, pour on sauce and add toppings.

Note: This was adapted from the  ‘Apple Nachos’ recipe from the Medical Medium’s website. 

Tex-Mex Casserole Without Cheese? (Vegan)

Do you think it would be impossible to make a casserole, a Tex-Mex Casserole without cheese? Well, let me show you how I did it for this recipe.

I chose corn tortillas to keep the recipe wheat-free (aka gluten-free).
And guess what? If you have someone that just loves cheese, they can top their serving with the cheese of their choice (…even vegan cheese 🙂

Alternative to cheese, but creamy?  Add avocado, guacamole or this cashew cilantro cream sauce.  

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 2 cups freshly diced)
  • 1 15 oz can of pinto beans (or 2 cups home-cooked), rinsed
  • 1 15 oz of black beans (or 2 cups of home-cooked), rinsed *
  • 1/4 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 small onion
  • 8 ounces of your favorite salsa
  • 1 15 oz can (2 cups) of enchilada sauce (or see homemade recipe below)
  • 6 corn tortillas (or flour)
Directions:
  1. Cook onions and bell pepper.  If using ground meat add at this step too.
  2. Add other ingredients except for the enchilada sauce and tortillas, mix together.
  3. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish. 
  4. Tear (or cut) the 2 tortillas into smaller sizes and place on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Layer 1/3 of the filling over the tortillas.
  6. Try to repeat steps 4 and 5 twice, but it doesn’t have to be that structured.
  7. Mix the enchilada sauce and thickener of choice together and pour over the casserole.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 20  – 30 minutes, until bubbly and sauce has thickened.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar (really almost any vinegar can be substituted here)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or 2 Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (or even Italian herb spices)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 – 2 TBS chili powder (or TACO Seasoning works well too)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 – 2 slices of jalapenos for added flavor
  • 1 TBS of thickener (tapioca, potato starch, gluten free flour or cornstarch -organic/Non-GMO please)
Directions: Place all ingredients into blender and blend well. You can  also add a tablespoon of thickener at this point for easy mix-in.

Served topped with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Coconut Milk Rice and Veggie Soup

I needed a quick meal and this is what I came up with. It’s a one-dish meal that’s easy to prepare. See notes below for optional add-ins and suggestions.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped and broken into small bits
  • 1/2 cup frozen collard greens
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 1/2 small green bellpepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (I used Basmati rice)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Suggested seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, dash of cumin, salt and pepper (to taste)
  • cashew cilantro cream sauce (optional)
Directions:
  1. Add cauliflower, onion, bell pepper and garlic to a pot.
  2. Saute using a bit of coconut oil or steam saute (using a bit of the coconut milk) until onions become translucent
  3. Add all of the coconut milk and continue to cook vegetables until they are well-cooked. (I cooked in my Instant Pot for 5 minutes, 4 would have been enough.)
  4. Add cooked rice, frozen peas, cashew cilantro cream sauce (if using) and other seasonings to your desired taste.
Notes:
  • I think next time I will add some mushrooms and perhaps a bit of wild rice too. Some celery might be a good addition too…and lentils/chickpeas (my favorites).
  • It’s a whole, plant-based dish that is easily adaptable to accommodate everyone in the family.  In my family, vegetable dishes are the main meal and meats are side items.

Cashew Cilantro Cream Sauce

I had just bought a new bunch of cilantro and I removed all the stalks and leaves that were loose because I didn’t want them to go “bad” at the bottom of the jar. (This is how I keep my herbs fresh in the fridge.) So I was left with a bunch that I wanted to use up in a hurry. I decided to make an alternative to the cheese topping for the variety of plant-based tacos that I eat very often – so I searched the internet looking for a cilantro sauce. This was the first to appear. I found it at The Baking Fairy’s website (see below), but here is my recipe. I think next time I will definitely try fresh garlic (1/2 to 1 clove) and fresh onions (1/8 inch slice), yet this recipe is still a good one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (or any unsweetened nut milk, I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup or more of cilantro (packed tightly)
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeno (I only had jalapeno juice from my homemade pickled jalapeno peppers)
  • 3/8 – 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/8 – 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3/8 – 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a little pepper is also a nice addition
Directions:
  1. Add all ingredients except for the nut milk to a blender and blend.
  2. Add nut milk as needed until you get to your desired consistency.
The original recipe for this sauce was found at https://www.thebakingfairy.net/2017/05/sofritas-tacos-cashew-cream/.

Blue Berry Muffins with Reduced Calories, Increased Fiber and More Nutrients

This recipe is for Blueberry Muffins using only whole, plant-based (WFPB) ingredients . I hope you will try this recipe. I’m also including the nutrient comparison for your reference (see below). Happy Baking!

Ingredients:
⅔ cup unsweetened plant-based milk

Whole Plant-Based Recipe

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup pure maple syrup
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh/frozen berries

For detailed baking instructions:  Go to Forks Over Knives Website

So, if you want to lower calories, increase fiber and add more nutrients to your diet – you could choose this muffin over the traditional way of making blueberry muffins.

Here is a traditional list of ingredients for making blueberry muffins using eggs, milk, butter:

Traditional Recipe

1/2 cup butter

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups fresh/frozen blueberries

Comparison Facts:

  • 1/3 of the calories of the traditional recipe
  • the carbohydrate load is also lower
  • fiber has been increased
  • sugars are 1/2 of the traditional recipe