Cashew Bechemel–White Sauce

Big thanks to KSDK “Show Me St. Louis’ for having me back! This recipe is one of my favorite dishes in the whole world! So easy to make and so hard to believe that there is NO cheese, NO cream, No Butter, No Oil! Some may think that is equivalent to no flavor. I say to them…Make IT!


Hearty Veggie Lasagna—Test Kitchen Style!

Hearty Veggie Lasagna—Test Kitchen Style!
Before Kevin and I became vegan we loved consulting America’s Test Kitchen for recipes.    Their recipes are full-proof and delicious—always the result of hours and hours of testing various methods and ingredients.  ATK recipes are truly the best examples of culinary science!   Each recipe has a “What Makes This Work” abstract that walks you through various ingredients and attempted methodologies before they give you their final version of perfection.   That is very appealing to my “But, I need to know why” personality.  So all of that aside…THIS. LASAGNA.

Now, I’ve made vegan lasagna before.  Many times, in fact.  But never, ever, like this.  I had always used tofu ricotta, and while the flavor was good, the texture was lacking and it was always too dry.  This recipe skips the tofu and uses cauliflower and cashews that are cooked and blended together.  SO simple, and it gave my lasagna a moist creaminess that it had been missing!  No joke, this is the BEST lasagna I’ve ever had.  I didn’t have any eggplant (we used the last of it for an amazing Baba Ganoush) so I used broccoli (about 12 0z) instead.  It was perfect.  I added the broccoli during the last 15 minutes of roasting the veggies, and it was scrumptious!   So, without further ado…I present this amazing America’s Test Kitchen “Vegan for Everybody” recipe.

You’re welcome.

  • For the Tomato Sauce:
    • 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
    • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

    For the Filling:

    • 8 ounces cauliflower florets, cut into ½-inch pieces (21/4 cups)
    • 11/2 cups raw cashews, chopped
    • Salt and peppers
    • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

    For the Vegetables:

    • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
    • 1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
    • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • salt
    • 1 pound zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces

    For the Lasagna:

    • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
    • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
INSTRUCTIONS
    1. For the tomato sauce: Process tomatoes, basil, oil, garlic, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Transfer sauce to a bowl and set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
    1. For the filling: Bring 3 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Add cauliflower florets, cashews, and 2 teaspoons salt and cook until cauliflower is very soft and falls apart easily when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain cauliflower mixture in a colander and let cool slightly about 5 minutes.
    1. Process cauliflower mixture, 3 Tablespoons oil, and ¼ cup water in clean, dry food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 2 minutes (mixture will be slightly grainy). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer ¼ cup mixture to bowl and stir in remaining 1 Tablespoon oil and basil; set aside for topping. (Mixtures can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
    1. For the vegetables: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss eggplant and mushrooms with 2 Tablespoons oil, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl, then spread on rimmed baking sheet. Toss zucchini with remaining 1 Tablespoon oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt in the empty bowl. Roast eggplant-mushroom mixture until beginning to wilt, about 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, stir zucchini into vegetables, and continue to roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned, eggplant and zucchini are tender, and most of the juices have evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside. (Cooked vegetables can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
    1. For the lasagne: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Spread 11/3 cups tomato sauce over the bottom of the of the dish. Arrange 4 noodles on top. Spread half the cauliflower filling over noodles, followed by half of the vegetables. Spread 11/3 cups tomato sauce over vegetables. Repeat layering with 4 noodles, remaining cauliflower filling, and remaining vegetables. Arrange remaining 4 noodles on top, and cover completely with remaining tomato sauce.
  1. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake until edges are bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking. Dollop lasagne evenly with 8 to 10 spoonfuls of reserves cauliflower topping, and let cool for 25 minutes. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon basil and serve.
NOTES
Feel free to substitute a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Keep in mind, if you do, you will use a full jar plus 1/3 of another.

Photograph via: Pamela Salzman

It’s Easy Being Cheesy!

What an awesome day on Show Me St. Louis.   Dana and Anthony were fantastic!  Here is the Chili Cashew Queso recipe that I made on today’s show.  The recipe is a variation of a Dana Schultz recipe from “The Minimalist Baker.”    Love her and love her recipes!

Just because you give up dairy doesn’t mean you have to give up cheese!   Many things can make milk!  You just need milk with higher fat content to make good rich cheese.  Hence, cashews!  We use this particular cheese as a sauce for macaroni and cheese, in bean dip, a Rotel dip, and in a 7 layer dip!  But one of my favorite things to use it for is the base for a broccoli potato soup!  To heat or reheat microwave, covered, in 30-second bursts, whisking at each interval and thinning with water as needed.  Or re-warm on the stovetop, whisking occasionally and thinning with water as needed.

Easy Chili Cashew Queso

1 ½ C. raw cashews

1 cup hot water

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Pinch chili powder (optional)

1 chipotle in adobo with a little sauce

Instructions:

  • To make the Queso, add all ingredients to a high -speed blender and blend until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides at least once.
  • Feel free to substitute salsa, roasted jalapenos, or your favorite hot sauce in place of the chipotle pepper.   The sauce is also really delicious with no heat!

Cashew Béchamel | Basic White Sauce

This is one of the best béchamel sauces in the whole entire world. Who says you need dairy to make a good sauce?   Not me!  Besides, this is way better than ANY dairy-based sauces I’ve had.  It’s easy and delicious, and makes enough to have leftovers to freeze! Yep, you can freeze this bad boy! What’s better than satisfying a craving for a Creamy Mushroom Alfredo (it’s a “thing” for me) and knowing that all you have to do is sauté some mushrooms while waiting for your pasta to boil! Grocery store Alfredo sauces be damned!

This versatile little sauce can be used in a variety of ways! I use it as a base for corn chowder, in my eggplant lasagna, in a delicious Pasta Con Broccoli, as a drizzle over roasted veggies, and I use it to make a hearty delicious vegetable pot pie! This, my friends, is the real deal.

Basic_B_chamel_3_HD1280.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Rouxbe School of Cooking

Step 1: Preparing the Cashews

• 2 cups raw cashews

• 4 to 6 cups warm water

In a medium bowl, soak the cashews in water for 3 to 4 hours to soften. Strain, reserving the cashews and discarding the liquid.

Step 2: Preparing the Sauce

• 1 cup onion, diced
• 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
• 1/2 cup dry white wine (or substitute stock, if not using wine)
• 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 tbsp onion granules
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (literally, just a pinch… Too much can alter the flavor)
• Pinch of white pepper (Can use black pepper in a pinch) 😉
• 2 tbsp olive oil (optional if you choose to use oil in this dish)
• 1 tsp sea salt (optional, but I recommend)

Method

First, gather and prepare your mise en place.

If choosing to use oil:

Heat the pan to low to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and sweat for at least 5-8 minutes to bring out the flavor until translucent. Then continue by adding the garlic and sweat for an additional couple minutes.   Add white wine and reduce until all liquid has evaporated.  (Skip the reduction if not using wine)

*For no oil sauté:
(It is easier to sauté, rather than sweat with no oil. So this process may give the onions a bit of color.)

Heat the pan to medium to high heat. Be sure the pan is heated properly (water test). Add the onions to the dry pan and continue to stir well until the onions begin to turn translucent and stick. Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little stock or water if needed. You can add the garlic to the onions or add directly into the blender. Remove from heat.

Transfer the cooked onions and garlic into the blender.

To finish the sauce, add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt (if using). Blend on high speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency.

***Recipe: Courtesy of Rouxbe Cooking School

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Tahini Free Roasted Garlic Hummus

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Adapted from The Wholesome Dish

I love hummus, and my husband has crowned himself the king of hummus.  He makes it all the time.   And his hummus is forever changing.  It’s usually a product of his current culinary whims. Sometimes he adds fresh dill from our garden. Sometimes he adds a nice smoked paprika that we found at our local Indian Grocer. But he is always upping the ante.  For me, I like a simple traditional hummus.  Its simplicity is what makes it good, and I feel like why mess with a good thing? But there are times when you HAVE to change it up.  Like the time I was out of tahini.  Or like the two months I decided to give up all cooking oils.

This recipe does it all.  It is sesame free and oil free.  The creaminess of this recipe comes from the aquafaba.  What is aquafaba you ask?  It is the water that you normally drain from the can of beans, and it’s amazing!  We vegans use it all the time as a sub for eggs in vegan baking. The starchy liquid is a great binder directly from the can, but what really makes it magical is that it whips and creates foam. Aquafaba is therefore able to trap air; giving items structure at the same time it delivers a fluffy crumb and lift.  You can even make meringues!  In hummus, it adds a flavor and a creaminess that can’t be beat!  It’s the perfect sub for both the oil and the tahini!

Feel free to add whatever spices, or beans you want!  That’s the beauty of hummus, it can be as simple as whatever you have on hand, or as complex as you want it to be!   You can use it as a dip for veggies, or thin it out with a little bit of water and use as a dressing.  We love it on top of our Buddha bowls!

This is a keeper.


“Tahini Free Roasted Garlic Hummus”

  • 2 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans, drained but save aquafaba)
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic (buy it pre-roasted at Fresh Thyme)
  • ¼ cup aquafaba from chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley (dried)
  • 1 ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp pepper (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. Add more aquafaba if you find that it’s too dry. Season to taste. Chill for a few hours, taste again, and adjust seasonings if necessary.  You can use olive oil in place of the aquafaba, but it won’t be as creamy, and you’ll save yourself about 240 calories!

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Best Ever Vegan Ranch Dressing

When I began my plant-based journey, one of the first things I needed to find was a good Ranch Dressing.  I know, I know… But I’d be lying if I denied my love for Hidden Valley!  However, consuming pus laden cow’s milk is gross. And artificial ingredients like Calcium Disodium EDTA, and other nasty fake things like maltodextrin, and monosodium glutamate are not even an option.   I had tried many recipes, but was never fully satisfied. So I finally decided to create my own.  This Ranch is delicious and has impressed even my most diehard dairy loving peeps!

RANCH

  • 1 cup vegan mayo (I like Just Mayo)
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the mother-shaken well)
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Dill
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Onion Powder
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder

Mix all ingredients together and use enough water to thin to desired consistency.  Let sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can develop.  Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

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Chocolate Cream Pie (Vegan, GF)

I have a love/hate relationship with the word vegan.  On one hand, it encompasses many fundamental aspects of who I am.  Legitimate scientific concerns about my health and the systematic destruction of our planet, topped with my love and compassion for ALL of God’s creatures, far outweigh any desire I might have for a Delmonico Ribeye.  But, on the other hand the word vegan strikes fear into the hearts of most people. And its presumed connotations immediately separate me from the flock. For many, vegans are seen as extremists. Fanatics, who are either angry animal right suffragists, or gaunt, pale hippies who live on scant amounts of lettuce and tofu.  Just Google the phrase, “Vegans are…” and see what comes next. Adjectives like crazy, stupid, weird, and extreme, popped up in my search bar.  But ya know what?  I’m kinda getting over it.

When an “Omni'” eats a meal I’ve prepared, they are intrigued. Almost beguiled by my ability to make not only a palatable, but delectable meal without using any part of an animal.   It’s as if they’ve suddenly realized eating meat and cheese isn’t the only way to be truly satiated.   And one of my favorite ways to showcase my vegan culinary prowess is with this Chocolate Cream Pie.

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CRUST:

• 2 cups raw pecans
• 1/4 cup date sugar or maple sugar (I used coconut sugar and 1 tbsp maple syrup)
• 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional, but highly recommended)

FILLING:

• 2 1/2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips (add half semi-sweet vegan to make pie sweeter)
• 2 packs of organic firm silken tofu  (I like Mori-Nu Organic firm)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F

To prepare the crust, combine the pecans and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Add the coconut oil, salt and optional chipotle powder and pulse to combine well.
Transfer the mixture to an 8- or 9-inch pie pan (I use an 8″ springform pan). Press and shape the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan to make a pie shell.

Place the chocolate chips in a baking tray or shallow pan, Transfer to the preheated oven and heat for 3 to 4 minutes or just until melted. Watch carefully as the chocolate can burn quickly. Remove from the oven.

While the chocolate is melting, combine the tofu, vanilla and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the melted chocolate and blend until very smooth.

*Note: For the tofu, if you cannot find firm silken tofu, “soft” tofu can be used instead. In this case, use 600 grams total.

Pour the mixture into the reserved pie shell, smooth the top with an offset spatula and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until firm. When firm, slice and serve.

*Modified from Original Recipe via Rouxbe Cooking School.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (Vegan, GF)


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This is an absolute favorite in our house.  The problem is we can’t keep them in our house.  When I take them hot out of the oven they’re gone before they’ve even cooled.  They’re that good!  I’ve modified the original recipe to make it gluten free.  Gluten free cooking often requires slight modifications, including cooking time.   I have also made a few substitutions that I felt made this recipe perfect for me!   I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! 

What You Need: (Makes 16 regular or 8-9 large muffins)

  • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (makes them moist and less dense)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 4 super ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dairy free vegan chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your muffin tins or use muffin liners.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and the oil.  Add the mashed banana to the sugar mixture, then add chocolate chips, and vanilla.

Finally, add the flour, and mix everything well.

Evenly pour the batter into the muffin tins. Place in the oven for about 18-20 minutes if using GF flour.  If using regular all-purpose flour, test at 20 minutes.  Add more time (three minutes at a time) as needed.

***Cool for at least 5 minutes before you remove from the pan!

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Mixed Berry Acai Bowl

I love Smoothies.  Every day my husband and I have a fruit and a veggie bomb for breakfast.  But sometimes a girl wants some substance.  Enter the Acai Bowl.

The Acai berry is one of the most powerfully healthy berries on the plant. It stimulates the immune system, trace minerals, boosts energy levels, has anti-aging benefits, and improves mood, skin, and hair. This Acai bowl is loaded with antioxidants (help fight off free radical damage), it’s filled with Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, B2, and B3. Protein, Omega 3’s, fiber, Iron, Vitamin A, Zinc, all 8 Essential Amino Acids, Copper, Biotin, Electrolytes, Anthocyanin’s and polyphenols, (anti-inflammatory).

Acai Bowl

(Makes 4 cups) Freeze then thaw, or refrigerate extra.

1 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 frozen peeled banana

1 package of frozen unsweetened Acai packet (I used Sambazon)

1-cup plant-based milk of choice

1 Tbsp Cacao powder (Wal-Mart carries in Gluten free section)

2 Tbsp Orgain Organic Vanilla Bean powder (Costco or Amazon)

Blend well. Should be smooth and creamy.

**Top with raw unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs, walnuts, blueberries, goji berries or any other yummy treats you have on hand.

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7 Day No Dairy Challenge

 

 

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7 Day No-Dairy Challenge

 Welcome!  This is your quick survival guide for the week!  Thank you participating and please text me or contact me via Facebook if you need ANYTHING!

A few things to know:

  1. You will NEVER find a vegan cheese at the grocery store that tastes exactly like cheese. So please keep an open mind.  When I began my dairy free life, it was out of necessity.  My first purchase of Daiya brand cheeze shreds (not a fan of any of their products) was not only disappointing, it was down right disgusting.  Since then, I’ve had some amazing artisan nut cheeses at local veggie restaurants that inspired me to buy a book and begin making my own!

Here is the best sliced soy cheese I’ve found.  The kids really like it and my two little ones don’t like much!  You can buy it at Wal-mart and it melts well over medium heat.  Give it a little longer than regular cheese to melt.

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  1. For me, cheese was definitely the hardest thing about being dairy-free. It was actually the rich creaminess that I missed, not necessarily the taste.  So…some of the recipes that I have included, use things like creamy cashew sauces, rich avocado garlic sauces, and I’ve even included a Vegan Alfredo (my favorite)!
  1. A word about Carrageenan: Carrageenan is commonly used to thicken and emulsify non-dairy based products.  If you suffer from any digestive/intestinal issues please avoid all products with Carrageenan in them.  There is a very strong link in the literature about the ingredient and gastrointestinal disease in lab animals, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer.  So please avoid it.

Here is a link for products that DO NOT contain Carrageenan.  Also, most “So Delicious” creamers are now Carrageenan free.

http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/files/so-delicious-carrageenan-free.pdf

  1. You may feel kinda crappy. It is not uncommon to have withdrawal and detoxification symptoms when you remove any kind of food from your diet.  Dairy is particularly nasty because the casein protein binds to the same “opiod” receptor sites in the brain as heroin and other narcotics.  So when people say they are addicted to “ice cream, cheese, etc.,” they probably are.   You may have headaches, fatigue, mood swings, or what I commonly refer to as “The Bitch is Back”.   It will pass, hopefully leaving you more energetic and clear thinking! That is why I want you drinking water.  A LOT of water.
  1. We will start every morning with a glass of “ROOM TEMP” water with ½ of a squeezed lemon, and a pinch of fine ground sea salt. Water helps move things through your system.  When you detoxify, water is your friend.   So please stay hydrated throughout the day.  This is very important.

 

FUN FACT:  When your body loses just 2% of it’s hydration you begin to feel tired.   In the morning I drink 20oz of water, I have a smoothie for breakfast, and then a cup of coffee.  I am super hydrated in the morning.  But…by the afternoon I’ve slowed my water consumption, and I begin feeling tired.  So, I drink about 8-12 oz of water, and then BOOM, I’m fine!

  1. One final note. I would encourage you to write down how you feel.  What do you notice on day one?  Is it any different on day five?  Measure yourself, weigh yourself, so you have some kind of baseline.  My hope is that some of you will want to continue, making it a 14-day, or even a 21-day challenge!

GOOD LUCK!  Remember you are NOT denying yourself anything.  You are GAINING health benefits, learning some new things, and hopefully changing the way you think about food and health!