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.

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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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The Ties that Bind

“My friend and I were passing some elephants, when my friend suddenly stopped. She was confused as to how these massive creatures were held only by a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds, but for some reason, they did not. She saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller, we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds, but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.” –The Elephant and the Rope

As a health coach I often find many of my clients are “held back” by self-limiting beliefs. They either cling to beliefs that no longer serve them, or they still adhere to falsehoods they learned in childhood.   For example, while exploring why a severely obese client of mine over eats, he revealed that as a child, he was expected to eat everything on his plate even after he was full.  As he got older, and serving sizes got larger he continued to eat until his plate was empty.   By the way, did you know the average restaurant meal is now more than four times larger than it was in 1950’s?

So, are you like the elephant?  Were you told to keep eating even after you were full?  Have you tried every diet in the world and still can’t lose weight? Maybe it’s time to dig deeper and find out what’s really holding you back.  What ways do you feel bound and powerless?  The great thing about our belief system is that we can change it. And change it immediately.  Like the mighty elephant, you hold the power, even if you don’t realize it. It’s time to break the rope and finally be free.

 

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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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