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/.

Mid-day Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 packed cup of Kale

1/2 slice of 1 inch thick pineapple

1/2 of peeled pickling cucumber

1/2 small nectarine or peach*

1 knob ginger (you can juice using garlic press)

2 coconut milk* ice cubes

1 1/2 cups water


*High FODMAP food – remove from ingredients to achieve a Low FODMAP recipe.


Directions:
Put all ingredients into a high-speed blender such as the Vitamix and process until you reach your desired consistency.

Makes about 12 ounces.

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.)

My “Go To” Get Going Green Smoothie

Lately, this has been my “go to” morning smoothie to “get going”.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1/2 avocado
1 stalk celery
2 TBS nut butter
2 Medjool dates
1 TBS hemp protein
1/2 frozen banana (or add a couple of ice cubes)
1 scoop green “super food” powder

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a high speed blender. I use a Vitamix – it’s my favorite.

Options:
1. Use fresh vegetable/fruit juice or coconut water in place of water
2. I’ve been using organic cashew butter, but I also like almond butter. Almonds are the only alkaline nut and, by the way, cashews aren’t actually nuts.
3. Use different fruits such as blueberries, mangos, pineapple in place of a banana
4. Add even more “green power” by adding fresh leafy greens (spinach, kale, salad mixes)  – you might want to add a a little more liquid if you do.

Below are the results from a calorie counting program.

Calories: The calculations show 574 Calories. I need all the “healthy” calories I can get. But, if you want less calories, start my removing the nut butter before any avocado.

Orange You Happy Smoothie

This morning it took me a while to get around to preparing my first meal around 11 am. I had already had 32 ounces of water (mixed with barley green powder and 1/2 of a lemon which has now become my regular morning routine.) But at this hour of the morning,  I felt like I wanted more than just juice. So I mixed together this quick smoothie.

You can use frozen pineapple, mango* and/or blueberries which are easy to find in the frozen food section of the grocery store these days. Actually, I purchase most of my blueberries frozen because that’s almost the only way I find organic berries. But I prefer fresh pineapple and fresh mango, especially the Ataulfo mangos that are plentiful in the beginning of summer time.

This recipe will make 28 – 32 ounces and can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:
3 oranges
1 – 2 cups of pineapple (slices or chunks, and any of its juices)
1 mango*
5 mint leaves
1 cup blueberries

*High FODMAP food – remove from ingredients to achieve a Low FODMAP recipe.

Directions:

  1. Juice oranges (I used a manual juice press)
  2. Peel and remove seed from mango
  3. Toss all ingredients into a high speed blender (I use my all-time favorite, the Vitamix)
Optional Add-ins:
I added a handful of greens (kale & spinach are my favorite).

Real Food Rocky Road Ice Cream

I wasn’t planning on posting this tonight, but it’s the weekend and it’s nice to have something cool and sweet to eat while chillin’, right?


Well this is my own version of rocky road ice cream. I don’t think I was ever a fan of rocky road ice cream beore, but this dessert just ‘happened’ today. And after taking the photo and deciding to post it I thought it looked like rocky road and… I needed to give it a name.

This is made of fresh real food ingredients. Banana ice cream (made only of frozen bananas and cinnamon) topped with dates, dried mulberries and homemade chocolate (raw cacao, coconut oil and raw unfiltered honey). I will definitely be making this again and since I forgot to add nuts, next time I will be adding pecans or some other nuts to the mix for sure.

Ingredients:

Ice Cream
    2 frozen bananas
    1/8 tsp cinnamon

Raw Chocolate
    1/8 cup raw cacao*
    1/2 to 1 TBS raw, unfiltered honey*
    1 TBS coconut oil

Additional Toppings
    dried mulberries*
    dates*
    nuts*

*High FODMAP food – remove from ingredients to achieve a Low FODMAP recipe.

Directions:

  1. Before making the ice cream. mix together the raw cacao (or cocoa powder of choice), honey and coconut oil with a spoon. Add more coconut oil or honey if still too dry. Spread onto wax paper and put into freezer for about an hour.
  2. Place frozen bananas and cinnamon into a high speed blender and process until you create a smooth, ice cream consistency. This is where a Vitamix is very useful.
  3. Put ice cream into a bowl, break chocolate into pieces over the top and add other toppings as desired.

Alternatives/Add-ins:

  • Add vanilla extract or vanilla bean to the bananas in addition to or in place of the cinnamon
  • Use ready-made chocolate chips if you are short of time, but I hope you would try to make your own dark raw chocolate because it’s simple and made of simple real food ingredients
  • Add avocado and mint to flavor the ice cream so you can create mint chocolate chip ice cream (It’s likely that I will try that one this week too.)
  • Swirl in some nut butter or full fat coconut milk (or both)

Avocado Drink with Basil and Mint

I was browsing my computer this morning and I came across a Vitamix recipe that used milk and sugar in the mix , so I decided to mix it up a bit in a different way for some Real Food goodness and I added a little special touch with the basil and mint addition. This tasted like a milk shake to me…I actually made two servings because the first was so good.

Feel free to adjust to your liking. See more possibilities below.

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
2 TBS nut butter of choice
1 – 2 bananas (depending on how sweet you want it)
½ avocado*, pitted and peeled
1 Date*
3 leaves each of basil and mint
1 cup ice

Optional: Add Stevia (without inulin* or other additives) as an additional sweetener.

*High FODMAP food – remove these ingredients to achieve a Low FODMAP recipe. Peanut butter is considered a low FODMAP food. Since almonds should only be consumed in the amount of 10 or less, almond butter would likely be a High FODMAP food. Also, you might be able to tolerate 1/8 of an avocado and I suggest using maple syrup in place of the date.

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into Vitamix in order listed
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend until desired consistency is reached.
Other add-ins or switch-outs:
  • cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin spices in place of basil and mint
  • peaches or mangos in place of bananas (or along with them)
  • nut butter choices: cashew, almond, peanut, sunflower
  • add coconut milk or use in place of water and nut butter
  • chocolate (raw cacao)
  • leave out banana and add Stevia or an additional date as sweetener, plus flax seeds