Not-So Cheese Sauce

I have been sharing this cheese sauce for about 6 years now. I always make it when we are having Tex-Mex food or having a pot-luck type dinner with friends. Everyone is always amazed at how great it tastes. Pairs wonderfully with crunchy tortilla chips. I don’t miss cheese at all. (Side note: I quit cheese about 8 years ago and haven’t had a cold, the flu or even seasonal allergies ever since then. Loving it!)

The original recipe (and also, the name I believe) comes from Vitamix, but I’ve made a few adjustments. I have tried recipes that use steamed potatoes (in place of potato starch) and carrots and even onions, but this one is my favorite. Here is my go-to recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ½ TBS lemon juice
  • ¼ cup pimentos , canned or jar OR use 1 roasted red pepper, peeled
  • ½ cup raw cashews (or almonds)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 TBS potato starch (or tapioca starch) mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

Notes prior to getting started:

1 – I suggest soaking the cashews and definitely the almonds if you do not think that your blender can thoroughly blend the nuts without leaving crunchy bits in the mixture. I always remove the brown hull/skin when using almonds, or I buy them already removed (blanched almonds).

2 – As an alternative to raw cashews and raw almonds, you could try raw nut nutters. ( I haven’t personally tried this option, just a suggestion.

3 – I have been successful with substituting almond flour in place of using almonds and I was satisfied with the outcome.

4 – I sometimes substitute green chiles for pimentos. This allows the cheese sauce to appear more creamy white instead of being tinted red by the pimentos.

Vitamix Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients except for the boiling water and potato starch mixture into the Vitamix.
  2. Set machine to 1, turn on quickly increasing speed to 10, and then to High.
  3. Blend for 3 – 7 minutes until steam forms and you can see it coming from the lid’s vent.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water on the stove-top
  5. Reduce speed to 7, remove plastic plug from the lid and add boiling water and potato starch mixture.
  6. Continue to blend until thickened, usually no longer than 1 minute.

Blender Plus Stove-top Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients except for the boiling water and potato starch mixture into the blender.
  2. Meanwhile, boil water on the stove-top in a saucepan
  3. Once you have a well-blended “cheese” mixture, add it to the saucepan along with the boiling water, bring back to almost boiling temperature.
  4. Reduce the heat under the saucepan and slowly pour in the potato starch mixture while continuing to stir until thickened.

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)

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/.

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Marinara Sauce

This was really yummy. The texture of the eggplant mixed with diced tomatoes was right on target in this marinara sauce. I made the sauce in my InstantPot (love that appliance).

I cut the eggplant into cubes and just added it to the pot along with tomatoes and other seasonings and voila! I was done…

…except for the cooking of the pasta. Sometimes I cook the pasta in the Instant Pot too, but lately I seem to have trouble with getting perfect pasta …and my guess is that it’s probably because I was cooking gluten-free pasta. I think the better outcome has been with wheat pasta. (If anyone has any helpful hints on cooking gluten-free pasta in the InstantPot, please let me know. Thanks in advance.)

Back to the sauce..I cooked the eggplant until it was mushy. I liked it best this way because it was easy to combine with the tomatoes. The mixture of these two vegetables are superb. Yet, I call this a marinara because it’s very light vs. being more dense and doesn’t have any tomato paste which would make the sauce thicker.

This recipe makes about 2 – 3 servings. You can easily double it.

Ingredients:
1 small eggplant
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1/8 cup of chopped bell peppers (your choice)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp or so of dried herbs (basil, oregano, Italian herb mix,

spinach to stir into pot after cooking or directly onto the plate (I prefer fresh)

Instant Pot Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into the inner pot.
  2. Press manual, then adjust settings to 6 minutes.
  3. Allow natural release (if you have enough time to wait)
  4. Adjust seasonings
  5. Stir in spinach (optional)
Stove-Top Directions:
  1. Cook onion and garlic on low heat until soft. I prefer using water to steam the vegetables, so that I don’t have to add oils to cook with.
  2. Add eggplant and a little salt to help soften, then cook about 5 minutes while stirring frequently.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and remaining seasonings. Cook, covered over low heat until everything is very soft and (I prefer) mushy. Make sure your pan isn’t too high and use a small burner so the sauce doesn’t burn. This step may take about 10 more minutes. 
  4. Adjust seasonings
  5. Stir in spinach (optional).
Note: That is a corn-based pasta in the photo. Gluten free pastas that contain corn seem to cook the best.

Homemade Catalina Dressing – Oil-Free

I had a mango and a red bell pepper and recall making a dressing out of the two a while back. But this time, I added a few more ingredients. Then end result is a dressing that reminded me of Catalina Dressing, but this one is Oil-Free.

Catalina was my salad dressing of choice when I was a child and likely when I was also a teen. Of course it was from a bottle and one that is a very popular salad dressing brand. (OKAY, I feel a bit uncomfortable sharing that, but there are really more healthy options…such as the one I’m about to give you below.)

Granted, my salad as a child only consisted of cucumbers, tomato and iceberg lettuce. Yeah I guess, it’s a good start for anyone, but I finally learned that I love all vegetables and now I rarely eat a salad made of only 3 vegetables. Okay…enough of reminiscing about my childhood, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:
1 small mango (Ataulfo mangos are the perfect size)
1/4 of a small to medium red bell pepper
1 TBS apple cider vinegar (use lemon juice instead for Sadkhin Diet)
1 clove garlic, small
1 – 2 inch piece of zucchini or cucumber (if more liquid is desired)
salt to taste (approx 1/8 tsp, optional)

Other possible add-ins:These are optional add-ins that are similar to most recipes that you will find online for Catalina Dressing.

  1. Honey (if you need it sweeter, but Ataulfo mangos are usually very sweet)
  2. If you want/need the extra “good” fat, add some extra virgin olive oil
  3. Tomato slice or 1 tsp tomato paste
  4. Onion slice or onion powder
  5. Dash of paprika
Directions: Blend all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix.  Use as desired.
I just poured it all on top of my salad and dug in. YUMMY!

Sadkhin Cabbage Salad – Three Ways

Recently I prepared three cabbage salads for the Grand Opening Event of Sadkhin Houston.  Sadkhin is a weight loss program that doesn’t require any special foods, just mainly fresh fruits and vegetables.
 
One highly recommended vegetable for the Sadkhin Diet is raw cabbage. Also, since the diet suggests having no more than three vegetables/fruit combinations in each dish, we created the following cabbage salads for client sampling. (Note: Herbs, most spices, onions and garlic may be used freely. Also allowed are lemon juice and honey.)
 
Mexican Slaw
1 large head of green cabbage
1/2 – 1 pound of carrots
1 – 2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 – 1/2 bunch of cilantro (about 1/2 cup, packed)
For dressing, whisk together juice of 1 1/2 lemons (about 1/4 cup) and 1 lime, 1/2 of small jalapeno (seeds removed), 1/2 tsp cumin, salt (about 1/2 – 1 tsp) and a dash of granulated garlic, cayenne and honey to taste Optional: Add a fruit – mango would be good in this one also.
 

 

Mexican Slaw
 
Apple Slaw
1 large head of green cabbage
3 -4 kale leaves, thinly sliced
2 medium Granny Smith apples
For the dressing, whisk together juice of 1 1/2 lemons (about 1/4 cup), 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground mustard, 1/2 tsp dried dill,  salt (about 1/2 – 1 tsp) and honey to taste
Apple Slaw

 

 
Asian Slaw
1 small head of green cabbage
1 small head of purple cabbage
1 – 2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 – 2 Ataulfo mangos, diced small
1/2 tsp fresh ginger juice (or 1/2 tsp dried ginger spice)
10 leaves of fresh mint
For the dressing, whisk together juice of 1 1/2 limes (about 1/4 cup – also can add lime zest if you like) about 1/2 – 1 tsp salt and honey to taste
Asian Slaw
 

I also put together an Italian oil-free salad dressing. (Simply omit the apple-cider vinegar and possibly use more lemon juice to make this oil-free dressing Sadkhin Diet compliant.)

No Oil Italian Salad Dressing

Hi everyone. I promised that I would post this recipe and I am fulfilling my promise on the same day! (Amazing!) I had to leave home and get a cubicle at the library in order to focus on doing this, but I really feel that it’s so important for me to share the recipe.

So, why would anyone want a no oil salad dressing?

  • Reduce calories – just 1 TBS of oil contains at least 100 calories.
  • Savings – if you use oils in your salads, you want to use the best possible oils so that you get the best nutritional benefit. Never use hydrogenated oils in your salads because they overload your digestive system. Click here for more information about choosing healthy oils. A healthy, cold-pressed oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, cost more than hydrogenated oils.
  • Difficulty digesting fats. Perhaps you don’t produce enough bile, need to give your gall bladder a rest, or had your gall bladder removed.
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (raw apple cider vinegar is my top choice)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 cup filtered or spring water
  • 1 large clove garlic*
  • 2 – 3 fresh sprigs of parsley
  • 1 tsp raw honey (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 – 2 TBS color bell peppers (or 1/2 – 1 TBS dried)
  • 1 – 2 TBS chia seeds (this will thicken the dressing)
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (use an Italian blend or mix single herbs of oregano, rosemary, dill, etc)
  • up to 3/4 tsp salt (I wouldn’t use anymore than that)
  • dash to 1/8 tsp pepper
      optional: I would only use the following when using a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix
  • 1/4 of a small apple*, peeled
  • 2 inches of cucumber, peeled
*High FODMAP food – remove from ingredients to achieve a Low FODMAP recipe.
Directions: Blend all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix.  Use as desired.

Warm Quinoa Asian Salad/Wraps

I used to blog about every meal/creation that I would prepare, but I have been failing to do so. I always take photos thinking that I will “get to it later”. Well, that hasn’t worked. I just finished eating this mini meal (a meal in between my lunch and dinner), so I figured I better get to it right away.

I apologize, but just about every measurement listed below is an approximate. But, hey, that’s what cooking is all about right? – making adjustments to suit your own taste buds (well, if you are comfortable with cooking anyway).

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FINALLY, I have added this one “grain” back to my diet. It’s
quinoa  (pronounced keen-wah) and Wikipedia describes it as an edible seed that’s not a member of a true grass “cereal” family. All I know is that, so far, it’s not causing any symptoms of brain fog and my digestive system is handling it just fine. It’s not a sticky grain like rice. It’s gluten free. It stays separated when cooked. It’s also a nice grain that can be soaked, sprouted and eaten raw.

Today I wanted to eat quinoa and I wanted to make some wraps. Because, just a few days ago, I ate lettuce wraps at Ruggles Green in River Oaks and they were so yummy and filling that I decided that I would make a recipe of my own. I didn’t try to make the exact recipe…although I will definitely do so in the future. My taste buds had a mind of their own today.

Ingredients:
  • SaladDressing/Sauce (1 to 2 servings):
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 thin slice of onion (about 1/8 cup)
  • 1/2 inch knob fresh ginger
  • 1 to 1/2 tsp fresh garlic
  • green onion tops from 1 green onion
  • 2 TBS fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup cashews, soaked and rinsed is best
  • juice of 1 lime wedge and/or 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • Salad/Wraps
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • lettuce for salad or wraps
  • Other possible Add-ins:•nori seaweed, dulse, kelp
  • daikon root, Reishi (mushroom), cucumber, cabbage, bell peppers – ALL candida friendly
  • carrots, other mushrooms, chestnuts – NOT Candida friendly
  • Kim-chi (naturally fermented of course)

Instructions

  1. Add vegetable broth, onion, ginger and garlic to a small saucepan – bring to a boil, then simmer 2 – 3 minutes.
  2. Add broth mixture and remaining dressing/sauce ingredients to a blender or Vitamix. (To prevent it from becoming a green sauce, add the green veggies last and don’t mix fully.)
  3. Assemble salad and place quinoa on top or scoop quinoa plus other ingredients into a large lettuce leaf and cover with the warm sauce.

Notes:

This recipe is totally safe for anyone on the Candida “Free” Diet. But, if not following the diet you might use rice vinegar instead and/or add “wheat” free Tamari sauce to your recipe. There are so many possibilities to increase the “Asian” flair of this recipe.

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Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti Sauce

I cannot seem to get enough of zucchini noodles. Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti Sauce for lunch and a Taco Salad for dinner.

But today I had Zucchini Noodles and sauce.

Here is the recipe:  I made the sauce in the Vitamix.  I made just a few changes from the “Fresh Tomato Sauce” recipe in the Vitamix Whole Food Recipes Book. This recipe is for one serving.

Step 1.  Place the following ingredients into the Vitamix:

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 small red onion
  • 1/2 small carrot
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp RAW honey
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of smoked paprika (to spice it up a bit, optional)
Step 2.  Process on high speed for about 3 minutes.
Step 3.  Pour into saucepan ans simmer for 30 – 40 minutes.
Step 4. When sauce is just about done, use Spiralizer to make noodles using 2 small to medium size zucchinis.
Step 5.  Pour sauce over noodles and add fresh basil, parsley and Parmesean cheese.

It was a good serving size.  It looked like a lot, but it tasted so good that I finished the plate and found the serving size to be just right.

www.realfoodanddrinks.com

Mango Salsa

This salsa is the same recipe using the same ingredients for any salsa you might make. The only difference is the proportions.  Specifically because I wanted to call this “Mango Salsa” there is more mango in this salsa than tomatoes.  So, chop the following ingredients and add them in whatever proportions you like best.
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Red onion
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Lime Juice
  • Lemon Juice (1/2 of amount of lime juice used)
  • Jalapeno
I served this on top of a bed of lettuce.  The other part of the meal was black beans and rice (for family members not on the SCD diet).
www.realfoodanddrinks.com