Winner, Winner, It’s (not) Chicken Dinner

Now that Chili season is finally here, it’s time to transform a family favorite into a Plant Based version. This Buffalo “Chik’n” Chili recipe was inspired by a recipe from Rachael Ray that I have made countless times. It is hearty and spicy and so delicious, and I knew there had to be a way to make it just as good with my vegan modifications.

Butler Soy Curls are the perfect chicken substitute for this dish. I started cooking with soy curls this year and they’ve become a great addition to many of my dishes. The only ingredient is Whole Non-GMO Soy Beans. They are 100% natural, gluten free and vegan.  Soy gets a bad rap, but the whole soybean product that is used here is unprocessed. It does not contain soy protein isolate, which is the “bad” type of soy that you hear about. The curls are easy to use and so versatile. I’ve coated them in panko and cooked them in my air fryer as well as sauteed them in barbeque sauce for a “pulled” chik’n type sandwich.

For the Buffalo Chili, it’s important to season the strips very well. I use a combination of  seasonings that gives them a poultry flavor and lots of added spice and “kick” for the buffalo-style.

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Package of Butler Soy Curls
  • 1 T. dried rosemary
  • 2 t. 21 Salute Seasoning
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 2 1/4 C. low sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 3 carrots, medium dice
  • 3 ribs celery, medium dice
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. smoked paprika
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes (I used Fire-roasted) but any variety is ok
  • Hot sauce to taste (I used several dashes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place dried soy curls in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit for about 10-15 minutes until the curls have rehydrated.
  2. Drain the soy curls in a strainer.
  3. Heat about 1/4 cup of vegetable broth in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.
  4. Add the soy curls to the pot and add the seasonings (rosemary through coriander only)
  5. Stir to blend the all the seasonings and curls and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf and smoked paprika and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  7. Add the remaining vegetable broth (2 cups), both cans of tomato and the hot sauce and bring to a bubble.
  8. Simmer for a half hour or more (uncovered) until flavors come together.
  9. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

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I love to serve these with my own homemade air fryer tortilla chips because I know those are cooked without oil. If you are short on time, store bought is fine! You can also add some shredded vegan cheese as a topping.

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Spicy, comforting and so delicious. I know you’ll want to make this again and again! Have you cooked with soy curls before? Let me know in the comments and enjoy!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

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My go-to Cookbooks

I say you can never have too many cookbooks. My fascination with cookbooks began many years ago when I discovered Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. I have to credit Ina  for helping me pretty much learn how to cook. It all started with her very first cookbook,   The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. From that point on, I was hooked. I continued to collect her cookbooks: Barefoot Contessa at home, Barefoot Contessa Family Style and Barefoot Contessa Parties. She has many more books, but these are my favorites. Even as a whole food, plant based cook, I am still able to reference many of her recipes and “veganize” them with my own modifications. And Ina, if you’re reading this, I’d love to collaborate so we can say “The Barefoot Contessa goes Plant Based.”  How easy is that?

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As my plant based journey evolved, I knew that I had to expand my cookbook collection to include books that reflected what I eat on a daily basis. There are hundreds of cookbooks that I could fill my shelves with, but I have narrowed down my all time faves to just 5 books. I think that’s a pretty fair number. I’m listing these in order of acqusition.

 

  1. The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone. This was my very first book years before I ever went plant based. Silverstone is a strong advocate for a vegan lifestyle and this book has lovely photos and recipes for all levels of cooks.
  2. Oh She Glows, by Angela Liddon. A fantastic started vegan cookbook. Liddon began as a food blogger and I have used this book again and again. You will not be disappointed with her recipes!
  3. The Engine 2 Diet Cookbook, by Rip Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn. Rip is the founder of the Engine 2 Diet. He’s a former firefighter and endurance athlete who has made Plant Based his mission. This book is essential for anyone who is embarking on a whole foods, plants based lifestyle.
  4. How Not To Die Cookbook, by Dr. Michael Greger. Dr. Greger maintains the popular website, nutritionfacts.org He is the energizer bunny of plant based living. This cookbook is a companion to his popular book, How Not To Die. He is the real deal, with profits from his books supporting his website which receives no funding from any advertising. He runs everything on donations and profit from book sales.
  5. The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, by Jane and Ann Esselstyn. Fantastic resource with easy to follow recipes from this amazing mother-daughter duo. You’ll love their easy to follow recipes that are low fat, oil free and completely plant based.

Of course, there are so many more great books out there, but if you’re just starting out, these are the ones I would choose.

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll clue you in on how I get my kitchen set up with my favorite gadgets. Having the right equipment sets you up for success and can make all the difference when you are changing the way you eat.

Let me know what your favorite cookbooks are. I’ve always got space on my shelf foor one more!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

I participate in the Amazon Associates program. If you order from the included links, I receive a small commission from Amazon, which is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Avocado Air Fryer Spring Rolls Oil Free and Vegan

Have you tried those yummy yet very greasy avocado egg rolls at your favorite happy hour lately? We often order the Avocado Egg Rolls at Kona Grill and I absolutely love them. But, they’re fried and probably not plant based. My version is crispy and crunchy and made without any oil!

I’ve had a lot of success making other versions of air fryer spring rolls, as you will find in one of my previous posts.   I thought it was time to play around in my kitchen and make a copycat version. Here’s my healthy take on this restaurant snack without the added oil. These are also completely plant based and vegan.

Avocado Air Fryer Spring Rolls

  • Servings: Makes 12
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Ingredients:

Directions:

In a medium skillet, heat about 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and then add the broccoli slaw and saute until softened. Add salt and pepper to taste and then set the slaw aside. On a flat work surface ( I like to use these), lay out one egg roll wrapper with the point facing towards you. Start with a slice of avocado, and then add a little bit of each ingredient to the center of the wrapper. Try not to overstuff—it takes a little trial and error! Take the bottom corner and fold over to cover the filling. With a small pastry brush, moisten the reamining edges with a little water and then fold in the sides and gently roll away from you. Once all of your spring rolls are finished, you are ready to air fry!

Set your air fryer to 370 degrees. I placed 4 rolls in the basket at a time and cooked for 4 minutes and then turned and continued for 4-6 minutes. Everyone’s air fryer works differently, so I recommend checking every couple minutes. You want a nice browned and crispy shell for that awesome crunch!

Serve with the sweet chili garlic sauce or whatever sauce you like!

I am often asked what brand of air fryer I use. I have a Krups air fryer that I purchased last year. It has served me well this past year, but I think I’m ready for an upgrade. I’ve been researching some of the newer versions and I am interested in the new Ninja  Foodie Air Fryer . So, perhaps i can snag a new one on Black Friday this year!

This recipe makes 12 spring rolls and they can easily be reheated the next day in your air fryer or in the oven.  They make a fantastic appetizer or even a side dish. It’s a great way to get a serving of veggies (broccoli slaw) as well as a healthy dose of fat with the avocado. When you serve these to your friends and family, be prepared for rave reviews. They are always a hit at my house, and I want you to give them a try.

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Tag me in your photo on Instagram or send me a comment after you make these. I know you’re going to be a fan!

See you in the kitchen soon!

Heidi

This blog participates in the Amazon Affiliates program. When you purchase a product from the included Amazon links, I am paid a nominal fee. (really nominal!)

 

 

Cool Summer Salad

I don’t know about you, but here in Florida it is HOT HOT HOT! Tonight is definitely a no-cook dinner night. And I think there is nothing more refreshing this time of the summer than a watermelon salad. This easy and delicious salad has just a few ingredients, and I’m betting you have most of them already in your house.

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I had a similar version to this Watermelon–Jicama–Cucumber salad on my recent cruise on Celebrity Cruises last month. It was certainly a challenge for me to stay true to my plant based way of eating while we cruised around the Baltic countries, but our waiter, Aldo, did a fantastic job making sure I had healthy choices every night. This salad was one of his favorites, and it quickly became mine as well.

Watermelon, Jicama and Cucumber Salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

2 cups English cucumber, cut into large dice

2 cups peeled Jicama, cut into large dice

3-4 cups of cubed seedless watermelon

Juice of one lime

3 T chopped fresh basil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Directions:  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir together gently. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.  Enjoy!

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The crunch of the cucumber and jicama is so delightful paired with the sweet juiciness of the watermelon. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t find this a delicious addition to the table, especially on a hot summer night. You could even make a whole buffet of salads and make it a true “no cook” night. Why not throw together some spinach, beets and balsamic glaze topped with some toasted walnuts? Sounds good to me!

Give this refreshing salad a try and let me know how much you love it!

See you in the kitchen soon!

Heidi

 

Healthy Pitaya Bowl

Am I the only person who didn’t know that dragon fruit was also known as pitaya?? I was strolling through the frozen aisle at Publix last week and saw this bag of frozen Pitaya chunks. I have bought fresh dragon fruit in the past and quite honestly, it tastes like nothing. It’s very pretty when you slice it open, but it doesn’t really have a flavor.

Dragon fruit has so many beneficial nutrients, though, so we should try to add it into our diets when we can. It’s rich in antioxidants and it’s full of fiber, which helps keep you full. This gorgeous pink fruit is also high in vitamins B3, which I learned can help your skin recover from a sunburn faster. Dragon fruit is also considered a powerful anti-inflammatory, which is great for anyone who suffers from arthritis.

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For lunch today I decided to make a Pitaya Bowl. I always have a supply of frozen bananas and other frozen fruits in my freezer, so this came together quickly. And lucky for me, I still had some granola that I made over the weekend. I highly recommend adding granola to your bowl. Fresh fruit is also a must––gotta have those antioxidants in your diet!

Healthy Pitaya Bowl

  • Servings: one
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Ingredients:

  • one banana, frozen in slices
  • 1/2 cup frozen pitaya chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, or fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (you may need to add a little more, if too thick)
  • granola and fresh fruit to garnish

Directions: In a high speed blender, combine banana through almond milk.  When you are using all frozen fruit, it will be thicker and you may need to add a litle more almond milk. Pour into a bowl when done and garnish with granola and fruit. Enjoy!!!

 

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This is a filling and healthy treat that you could easily serve for breakfast, lunch or even as a dessert.  Let me know how much you like yours by leaving a comment. What fruit did you use? I’d love to know.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Plant Based Cheezy Portobello Sandwiches

Can you believe I used to NOT like mushrooms? True. Until about 2 years ago I just never really cared for them. But since I’ve been following a whole food, plant based way of eating, I am in love with mushrooms. But, they have to be cooked––still not a fan of raw mushrooms.

So, when I discovered this amazing vegan restaurant in Brooklyn, NY last week, I knew the only choice on the menu was the Portobello Sliders. You can read all about my meal in my last post. I was so inspired by that meal, that I decided to try my hand at my version of the same sandwich. I think it came pretty close and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse. They are high in antioxidants, like selenium and glutathione, which is believed to “reduce inflammation, protect cells from damage and reduce chronic disease”, according to a nutrition column in the New York Times.

The mushroom base starts with portobello mushroom caps that I chopped and sauteed along with some sweet white onion. The tasty “cheeze” sauce is such a great vegan hack that you must try it. The original sauce I had in Brooklyn was a little spicier and next time I think I’ll try upping the heat level, but this recipe has a little smokiness from the added smoked paprika.

The original sliders were served on a pretzel roll. I had a hard time finding a vegan pretzel roll at my supermarket, so I opted for a whole grain seeded ciabatta-type roll. I loaded mine with arugula for a spicy twist.

 

Plant Based Cheezy Portobello Sandwiches

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients: (for the mushroom mixture)

  • 2 Portobello Mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 t. dried french thyme
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • Whole grain buns or bread of choice
  • Fresh arugula

Directions:  In a medium nonstick skillet, water saute the onions for about 5-7 minutes until softened. Add in the chopped mushrooms and seasonings and cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. Keep on low heat until ready to assemble the sandwiches.

Ingredients:(for the Cheezy sauce)

  • 1/2 C. old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 C. nutritional yeast
  • 2 T.  corn starch
  • 1/4 C. white onion
  • 1/4 C. jarred roasted red pepper
  • 2 C. water
  • 1/2 smoked paprika
  • 1 t. kosher salt

Directions: Blend all the above ingedients in a high speed blender. I use a Nutri Ninja which works very well. Pour the liquid in a saucepan and heat over medium until the sauce thickens. Keep a close watch and use a whisk to stir as it will thicken rather suddenly and quickly.

When ready, assemble your sandwiches. Add the mushroom mixture, top with the cheeze sauce and add a heaping pile of arugula. Enjoy!

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I really hope you give these a try. They were a big hit for Sunday dinner and are now officially added to my regular kitchen menu!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

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Bittersweet in Brooklyn

Hey––just returned from a whirlwind trip to Brooklyn, New York where I was helping my recent college grad daughter get settled in her new apartment before she starts her new job. I titled this “Bitterweet” as it seemed nothing went as planned but if it had we would have never discovered a new place!

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Of course, my mind was on the food. Before we left, I researched all the fabulous Vegan restaurants that we’d have to try. I was so excited that I’d get to see all the wonderful places the I had coveted on Instagram. We had a list of some favorites––Modern Love Brooklyn, The Butcher’s Daughter and Wild Ginger. I was only staying two nights, but we thought we had a plan?!!

Thursday night turned out to be a monsoon rainstorm. It was raining so hard that we couldn’t leave our hotel. Seamless food delivery came to the rescue to bring us some Thai food from a nearby place. It was just so-so. OK, moving forward, there was still Friday, right?

Friday brought a new set of problems involving plumbing and furniture delivery issues. Lunch had to be delivered. Luckily we found a great place to order falafel and hummus. After a whole day of problems, we were determined to make my last night a good one. One in which we could actually have a sit down dinner.

We didn’t want to venture too far from the area and we preferred a short subway ride, if possible. We found a place online that looked rather intriguing. It was called Greedi Vegan. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the website looked really nice and I liked the owner/chef’s story.  So, on the subway we went.

Wow. That’s all I can really say. We walked up to a modest storefront located on a quiet residential street located inwhat I think bordered Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy.  (Excuse me if you have to correct my geography). We walked into a cozy little place where three people busily workded behind the counter. We were greeted with a friendly hello as we seated ourselves at two of the four sets at the counter. Latisha, chef and owner of Greedi Vegan, was busy cooking and chatting with a few diners. As she wrapped up some dessert to go for a customer, she asked if we had been here before.  I told her we were here to move my daugher and I mentioned that I was a plant based blogger. We explained that everything had gone wrong and this was our first sit down meal since we arrived the day before.

After taking a look at the menu, we had a tough time deciding because everything looked THAT good! Latisha told us there are a few things not on the menu that she could also make for us. We decided on the “beef” nachos to start, followed by the Portobello Sliders (me) and the Loaded Grilled Cheeze (not on the menu-Darcy).

As Latisha cooked, we chatted about her place and how she got there. She told us she was raised as a vegan (at a time when it wasn’t really a thing). She had gotten away from eating that way, but slowly came back to it and opened Greedi Vegan only a year ago, And from what I could see in my short time there, it is quite a success. Regulars were streaming in and out with take out orders and a few others joined us at the counter to order as well. Even in the tight space, no one felt rushed to give up their place. It was like eating at the kitchen counter in your own home. If your own home served the most delicious vegan food EVER!

Latisha’s attitude and delicious food really inspired me when I returned home to Florida. Last night for dinner I made some quinoa “taco meat” and some air fryer corn tortillas to try to replicate the nachos. I was short on time and wasn’t able to make a “cheesy” sauce, but next time I’m craving those scrumptious nachos, I will be ALL IN! Watch my blog for some new recipes inspired by Greedi Vegan. And please stop in and say hello and get yourself some fantastic vegan eats next time you’re in Brooklyn.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Air Fryer Veggie Spring Rolls

I am always on a quest to find a healthier version of my all time favorite foods. I love asian food. All of it. Spring rolls, Pad Thai, cashew anything, peanut sauce, rice paper rolls––I love them all!

A few months ago I posted a recipe for air fryer wonton chips.  I found a brand of wonton wrappers and egg roll wrappers that are egg free and oil free. These were a game changer in my house. It’s the trifecta of taste––crunch, salt and fat/oil free! Win-win for everyone. I even came up with a version using Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning. Talk about game changer!!

I had such great success with the wonton wrappers so I knew that an air fryer spring roll would be just as crispy and crunchy and here’s how I did it.

 

 

Air Fryer Veggie Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 10
  • Print

Ingredients:

Directions:

Saute broccoli slaw in about a half cup of vegetable broth. If it starts to stick to the pan, add small amount of broth. Season with the garlic and the pepper to taste. I used about 2 teaspoons of the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. You can season to your taste. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until softened.  Once the slaw is softened, removed to a bowl. On a clean, flat work surface (a cutting board works well), place one egg roll wrapper with a corner facing you. Place some slaw mix in the middle of the wrapper. Next, take a pastry brush and moisten each edge with water. Fold the bottom corner over the filling and then fold in the sides and gently roll away from you. The water should seal up the roll. Continue in this manner until you have used all the filling. There is probably more slaw mix to fill more than ten rolls, but I stopped at 10.

Place each roll in the  Depending on the size of your fryer, you may need to cook these in batches. I set mine to 350 degrees and cooked them for about 16 minutes. You’ll want to check them and turn them every few minutes until they are browned on all sides.

These are delicious served with sriracha or a peanut dressing. Enjoy!

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It definitely takes a little practice to get the roll just right. I was very happy with the results. You will have crispy, crunchy spring rolls without any fat or oil. They are completely fat free and vegan. I served them with  the same peanut dressing that I use for my buddha bowls. Feel free to add whatever dip you like, especially sriracha.

I know you’ll enjoy these as much as I do. If you make them, tag me @heidicookplants and let me know how much you love them!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

This blog participates in the Amazon Affiliates program. When you purchase a product from the included Amazon links, I am paid a nominal fee. (really nominal!)

 

 

A few of my favorite things

Whiskers on kittens? Brown paper packages tied up with string? Um, yeah, those may be a few of Fraulein Maria’s favorite things in The Sound of Music, but I’ve got something better.

I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen and while I have what many think are a lot of gadgets, I have tried to reign in my most useful and helpful. Here are my top 5 must have kitchen gadgets!

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When we downsized a few years ago, I had some pretty tough decisions to make regarding what to save and what to toss. This was a before Marie Kondo came onto the scene with her house cleansing philosophy.

In my pursuit of healthier eating and clean cooking these past two years, I thought I’d share some of my must haves and go-to kitchen products. These are the things that I can honestly say I could not function without.

The first would have to be my ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Nutri Ninja personal blender. I use this every day. It’s small enough to not overwhelm and it’s powerful too. It’s affordable too. I can whip up salad dressings, smoothies and dips. The motor is strong enough to grind nuts, which is great when you don’t want to use a large food processor.

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Delicious smoothies are a snap with a Ninja!

My next favorite is my ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>immersion blender. I actually have had this for nearly 30 years.  It was wedding shower gift, and quite honestly, I knew so little about cooking then, that I used to never use it! This is a very underrated device. If you like to make soups, this is a great tool to blend a thick soup into a puree without ever having to remove the soup from the pot. If you like gazpacho or thick tomato soup, you need an immersion blender.  I have a fabulous recipe for creamy creamless tomato soup and I could not make that soup without my immersion blender.

Have you ever heard of Saladmaster? It’s a very high-end line of cookware, It is only sold at home parties when a Saladmaster rep comes to your home and makes a lovely dinner for you. Then they give you a very high pressured sales pitch with lots of crazy facts and figures and scare you into thinking that whatever cookware you are currently using is dangerous! Yeah, we hosted one of those dinners, and no, we didn’t buy anything. But, I did find an amazing set that is a fraction of the price. It works wonderfully and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Another indispensable gadget is my citrus juicer. I have no room for a large electric juicer. I know Ina Garten has a beautiful countertop juicer and it is the envy of many cooks. I simply can’t spare the space, so I have found this juicer to be just as easy to use and it fits right into my gadget drawer!

 My kitchen would not be complete with my 11-cup Cuisinart food processor. This is actually my second one in about 22 years. I had my first one for about 16 years, but the motor finally gave up after many, many good years of use.  My cuisinart is great for making pestos, grinding nuts and making granola. It’s great for slicing veggies and just makes food prep so much easier.

I hope that you find these kitchen tools as helpful as I do. What are some of your favorites? Leave me a comment––I’d love to know!

For my local reader, if you’re interested in seeing many of these tools in action, I encourage you to sign up for my Build A Bowl Meal Workshop on April 2. 

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Disclaimer: The links above are affiliate links to Amazon. If you choose to order any products, I receive a very small amount of money in return. I appreciate all of my readers and I hope that I can continue to bring you quality posts.

 

Oil-Free Vegan Arugula Pesto

I went a little arugula crazy at the farmer’s market last Saturday. The market we visit almost every week has the most amazing organic produce vendor, Worden Farms. The bag of fresh, organic arugula is a steal at $4.00, but sometimes I have trouble finishing the bag before it’s past its peak!

So…here I am experimenting with some recipes and I thought, how about a creamy pesto, similar to the white bean and basil pesto that I make? I wonder how it would taste if I subbed the arugula for the pesto, Well…let’s find out, shall we?

 

Oil Free Arugula Pesto

  • Servings: Makes One Cup of Pesto
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Ingredients:

  • One 15 1/2 ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • One lemon juiced. (Zest is optional if you want extra lemony flavor)
  • 1 cup of arugula (very tightly packed)-I may have used closer to a cup and a half
  • 4 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 3-4 T. of nutritional yeast
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. Aleppo pepper
  • 1 T. water

Directions: Add all of the above ingredients to a food processor and blend well. Stop and scrape down as needed. Depending on your processor, you may need to adjust the water if you want your thicker or thinner. Mine was just right with one tablespoon of water. Chill your pesto and serve with veggies or serve as a sauce with pasta. Enjoy!

 

This is a great alternative to a creamy vegetable dip. It’s completely guilt free because you aren’t adding any oil. The cannellini beans add a creamy, smooth texture and the nutritional yeast gives it just enough cheesy flavor without overpowering it.

Arugula ranks among the top 20 foods on the ANDI scale (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index). It is considered a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. It is also high in nitrates which has shown to be helpful in lowering blood pressure and with only 10 calories in 2 cups, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck!

Let me know how you like this by leaving me a comment. If you make it yourself, please tag me @heidicooksplants on Instagram!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi