Homemade Ketchup (No Refined Sugar)

I found this recipe at detoxinista.com. I didn’t change much, but I didn’t follow the boiling water technique for soaking the dates since my dates were already very soft and I used a Vitamix to blend the ingredients.

Here are the changes I made to the recipe because I didn’t want it as sweet or salty.

  1. I only used half as many dates
  2. I used apple cider vinegar
  3. I used diced tomatoes in place of water

Yet, here is the recipe as I prepared it. As always, feel free to make adjustments – start with a little change such as less garlic powder or salt and add more if desired.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup of boiling water (or broth, or diced tomatoes with the juice, or tomato sauce)
  • 5 TBS white vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt (I used only 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard (or 1/2 tsp ground mustard)
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • any additional spices such as chili powder or hot sauce  – if you like it spicy!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. If your dates are not already soft or if you do not have a high-speed blender, soak dates in boiling water for a few minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients to the blender. You can use the soaking water or substitute diced tomatoes with the juice or tomato sauce. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup of additional liquid.
  3. Blend until smooth. You may have to stop the blender and scrape the sides to get it all mixed.
  4. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings. (The original recipe says that the cloves and the acidity of the vinegar will mellow when it chills.)
  5. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. It should last at least 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze for up to 6 months. (I freeze tomato products often.)

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip

Spinach artichoke dip is expected to be cheesy, right? That’s right, so just because this is a vegan dish made using only plants, doesn’t mean it cannot trick their tastebuds. This dish will convince others, despite there not being any cheese and no trace of nutritional yeast inside of this dish. (Nutritional yeast is the usual ingredient for plant-based recipes that provide the “cheezy” flavors.) Yet, the plant-based yogurt adds tartness and the cashews and potato add the creamy texture.

My husband loves artichokes, so he was my inspiration for trying out this dish. This recipe caught my eye as I was scrolling through some of Nisha’s YouTube (RainbowPlantLife) Videos. Nisha’s recipes have all been wonderful. I’m not a huge fan of artichokes, but this was very tasty and I look forward to making it again.

Also, be sure to check out the nutrition comparison facts below for the REAL details about how this plant-based recipe is low in calories, low in fat and is cholesterol FREE!

More Inspiration:

There are so many more ways you can use this recipe to create new dishes. See the video at the bottom of this post to see the steps and two additional ways I used this dip.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  • 12 to 14 ounces of artichokes (can or jar), marinated (or not)
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened dairy-free yogurt (unsweetened coconut yogurt will make for the creamiest, but I used HEB almond yogurt the first time I made this and it was good.)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP cooking wine (Or even rice vinegar. I used a bit of both. The original recipe used distilled vinegar.)
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews (soak in warm water if not using a high-speed blender)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (may require less if using marinated artichokes)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 packed cup cooked, peeled gold potato
  • OPTIONAL: red pepper flakes, for garnish, pita chips or veggies for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and 5 TBSP (]water to a small pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. The original recipe says to add the spinach to the pan in small batches, stirring and tossing the spinach until it is well cooked and wilted before adding the next batch. Repeat until all the spinach is cooked well. This will take about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off. But, since I chopped the spinach using the pulse function of the food processor, I added all to the pan at once and stirred only a few minutes to allow it to wilt. Then I turned off the heat.
  4. The original recipe says to roughly chop the artichokes into quarters. But my artichokes were already quartered and I put them into the food processor to chop even more. This will release lots of liquid, so drain the excess. Squeeze out the excess liquid so it doesn’t end up watery. I used a fine strainer and pressed the artichokes into the strainer using the back of a spoon. Add the artichokes to the cooked spinach mixture, and set aside.
  5. Add the yogurt, vinegar/wine, cashews (soaked if necessary), salt, and pepper to a high-powered blender or food processor. Starting slowly, blend the ingredients. Add the potato also to the blender, blend on high until completely. smooth. Scrape the sides if needed, and blend once more. Pour over the spinach and artichoke mixture and stir to combine well.
  6. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, pie dish, or an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until the top looks firm and set and is bubbly. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. For a kick, add some red pepper flakes on top before serving with pita chips or veggies.

NOTES/TIPS

  • A food processor will make this an easy and quick recipe. I used one to chop and mince onions before cooking. I also used it to chop the artichokes and to chop the spinach (each chopped separately).
  • Look for organic potatoes to avoid pesticides.
  • As always, don’t forget to taste your dish prior to calling it “done” (of course, before baking it)
  • I based this recipe on the one I found at https://youtu.be/_w4YMgSROd4?t=366 (Nisha is one of my favorite vegan/plant-based YouTubers)

NUTRITION COMPARISON FACTS:

Vegan Cheese Sauce – Upgraded!

CheezeVitaMix

Have you ever heard of “cheese” sauce that is made with “oats”? Here are three reasons why this is a winner in my book:

1 – Much cheaper than cashews (which was the nut of choice for making “cheeze” sauce).

2 – Extremely low-fat. About 1.5 grams for the entire 6 cups!  By today’s standards, that’s really “no-fat”, but we know that all food groups contain some amount of fat, even fruits.

3. It’s delicious!

This is definitely my new “goto”, UPGRADED “cheese” sauce. I am updating this recipe to reflect the additions that I made to the original recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules (or 1 roasted garlic clove – my addition)
  •  2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (my addition)
  • 1 12-oz. jar Roasted Red Bell Peppers in water for the lowest fat possible
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pecan or Apple liquid smoke (optional, I didn’t use this)
  • 4 cups warm water

Note: Make sure to cook the cheese sauce until it’s steamy to create the thickest sauce.

Tip to make this more TEX-MEX: The first time I made this I substituted salsa for some of the roasted red bell peppers. Or you can simply add to the “cheese” sauce once done.

Directions:

  1. Dump all the ingredients into a high-speed blender (that can cook contents).
  2. Blend until steam forms and the machine will sound like it has completed the job. (The sound changes from blending to like it’s just spinning its wheels). This takes about 5 minutes depending on how warm/hot the water is that you start with.
  3. Voila! You are done. Pour into a bowl or jar that you can easily scoop out of. It will thicken even more as it cools.

I used this “cheese” sauce in a Tex-Mex casserole. (See the recipe.)

CheezeyCasserole

I’m not sure how I came across “Jill’s 5-minute Game Changer [Vegan] Cheese Sauce “! I had my doubts for sure, but in her video, she was so confident that I had to give it a try and boy am I glad I did. My video shows TEX-MEX varieties. Adding salsa truly makes this a game-changer cheese sauce.

Chickpea Salad Spread (Vegan Chicken and Tuna)

Chickpea Salad Dip Spread

…for Sandwiches, Wraps and Crackers

This chickpea salad spread has two options.  It can be prepared as “chicken” salad or “tuna” salad substitutes.  See “tuna” flavor salad add-in options below under the ingredients section.

Ingredients: Of course substitutions can be made for many of these ingredients, but this list serves as a general guideline.

  • One 15 ounce can of chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cup home cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 green onion (or 2 TBS red/white/yellow onion or 1 scallion), finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 TBS tahini (or homemade vegan mayo or any dressing of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard of choice
  • 1/4 cup of nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc)
  • 1 – 2 TBS dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Chickpea salad dip and spreaddash of paprika
  • salt and pepper, to your liking

Add-ins for the “tuna” flavor: One or the other will do just fine

  • 1 sheet of nori seaweed, crumbled
  • 4 mini sheets of any nori seaweed snacks
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of kelp powder

Directions:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor then mix/chop.  Or mash the chickpeas with a fork and then add remaining ingredients.

SUCCESS!

I offered the chickpea “chicken” version salad to someone who had never tried anything similar to this before. I was informed that he was not a fan of hummus. I put the spread into a tortilla wrap with avocado and jalapenos. After the first bite, the response was, “Not bad.” But when the plate was empty, he asked for the recipe.

More chickpea recipes:

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 (of course, you can roast a red pepper over an open flame or broil in the oven)
  • 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

Optional Add-ins: Taco seasoning, salsa, jalapenos, etc.

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 substituting cashew flour in place of cashews – in both instances, 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.

I also invite you to try this “cheeze” sauce which uses oats instead of cashews.

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

Black Bean Corn Tortilla Tacos (Plant-Based, Vegan)

I usually cook a large batch of beans and freeze whatever I don’t use immediately. So, for this recipe, the only ingredient that I had to make was the “Not-So” Cheese Sauce that I found in the Vitamix recipe book. If you have the opportunity to purchase a Vitamix you should definitely do so. You won’t regret it. I think I’ve owned mine for about 7 years and the only part I have replaced is the rubber top recently because it wasn’t fitting as snugly as it did when I first purchased it (6 years ago).
I pulled these tacos together rather quickly. The corn tortillas are “Tortilla Land” brand that I found in the local grocery store. They are uncooked and I prepare them on the griddle that I keep on the left side of my stove-top mostly for this purpose (and cooking pancakes just as often).
Ingredients:
  • Tortilla Land corn tortillas (or make your own using masa flour, or chickpea flour or cassava flour) Update: Here is a chickpea flour tortilla recipe. I truly enjoy making my own tortillas these days.
  • black beans (red beans or pinto beans would also be good, canned is fine – just rinse them)
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • green onions
  • brown rice (or quinoa)
  • avocado (or guacamole – see recipe below)
  • Not-So Cheese Sauce (this recipe uses potato starch to create a thicker version) or Forks Over Knives No Cheese Sauce   (a bit simpler, much less cashews). My latest favorite is “Cheeze” Sauce Upgraded (really easy).

Vegan Cheese Sauce Comparisons:

Cheese Sauces Compared

Other possible toppings: salsa, cilantro, pico de gallo, your favorite vegetables, etc
Directions:
  1. Cook tortillas according to package directions
  2. Warm the beans on the stovetop – using a bit of water to prevent them from burning
  3. Add your toppings

Guacamole Recipe

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

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 lemon or lime, juiced
  • 1 green onion stalk (Low FODMAP and I like them because they are milder.)
  • 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

Texas Caviar

This is a new one for me. I have never heard anyone call “salsa” by any other name. I have lived in Texas for 45 years! Texas Caviar – never heard of it.
So I did my best. The only think different about this salsa is that I didn’t chop/puree the tomatoes in my food processor. Actually, I feel that this version is more like a salad. 
Here are the ingredients I used. Feel free to use the proportions that you like best.
Ingredients:
  • Red Onion
  • Green Onions
  • Bell Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Corn (roasted on stove top, a nice addition)
  • Cilantro
  • Black Beans (cooked, leave out for a total raw meal)
  • Lime Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (just a splash will do)
  • Jalapeno (or Cayenne Pepper)
  • Salt/Pepper to Taste
Directions:
  1. Chop fresh vegetables and toss together with remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Allow to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes for flavors to combine.
  3. Eat with tortilla chips or use to top a fresh “Tex-Mex” salad.

Garden Pâté

My daughter asked me the definition of pâté so I decided to look it up:
1 – a meat or fish pie or patty
2 – a spread of finely chopped or pureed seasoned meat <chicken liver pâté>

Well in this case, the title of this dish might be a bit misleading…unless I tell you that this recipe comes from a raw food recipe book, so there is NO meat in it.  I guess one might say that nuts take the place of meat for raw Foodists.   I was looking for something a little different for lunch today.   It’s really amazing how creative you can get with salads.   Yes, you never have to eat the same salad twice.
Here is the recipe for Garden Pate which makes 4 servings.  I cut this recipe in half today and I ate both servings within a few hours of one another.  Recipe comes from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo.
  • 1 cup almonds, dry
  • 1 TBS grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 TBS
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 – 2 TBS water to thin, if necessary
  1. Process almonds into a powder.  Empty into large bowl and set aside.
  2. Add all veggies and salt to food processor and pulse into small pieces.
  3. Add to almonds in bowl along with remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Scoop on a bed of greens or place into a lettuce leaf (or collard green leaf) to make a wrap.
I added 1/2 avocado.  This was so tasty that I didn’t add any additional dressing.
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