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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 air fryer. 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!
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,
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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!
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 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.
My next favorite is my 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,
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.
I went a little arugula crazy at the farmer’s market last Saturday. The market we visit almost every week has themost 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?
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!
If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately, I was immersed in a complete Gossip Girl binge-watching frenzy. What started out innocently when I scrolled through the Netflix menu turned into a months long obsession of Blair, Serena, Chuck, Nate, Dan and the rest of the gang. My every spare moment was taken with wondering who Gossip Girl was and when will (s)he be revealed. SPOILER ALERT: It was Dan Humphrey!!! I even downloaded 10 episodes to watch on my tablet while I was on a 5 day cruise.
I know I’m extremely late to the party where all manner of GG is concerned. The show began its run in 2007 and lasted for 6 seasons. Thank you, Netflix, for allowing me to peer into the lives of Manhattan’s Upper East Side and giving me more than a mere glimpse into their complicated and seriously dysfunctional lives. Between all of Blair’s schemes, underage drinking, dating crises and cynical plots were the waffles!
Waffles seemed to be the star of almost every episode. During season one, Rufus had waffles ready for Dan and Jenny as they made their daily trek to their exclusive private school from their humble Brooklyn loft. In subsequent seasons, after Rufus finally married Lily and he moved into her luxurious penthouse, waffles were always on the brunch table. It became a running joke, pretty much, that everyone involved in a Humphrey breakfast was consuming waffles.
I love a good breakfast waffle as much as the next gal, but today I’m giving you a much better option. And believe me, these are appropriate for breakfast too, if you want. I present to you…Oil Free Waffle Iron Fries
This is a pretty simple recipe. You will need Yukon Gold potatoes. I usually buy a 5 pound bag so I always have them on hand. You first need to wash the quantity of potatoes that you would like to have. I suggest baking a LOT of potatoes, because once you taste how delicious these are, you won’t want to share!
Bake the potatoes in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The cooking time depends on the size of the potatoes. When the potatoes are almost done, heat up your waffle iron.
Once the potatoes are done, you place a potato on each side of your waffle iron. My iron only has two plates, so I place one potato on each side. Next, close the lid and smash the potato so that the lid closes completely. Now you wait patiently. The key here is NO PEEKING. Let the potatoes cook for at least 8-10 minutes. Carefully lift the lid and remove your “fries”. Continue until you have used all your potatoes. If the potatoes are large, you can cut them in half before you press them into fries.
Enjoy with ketchup or your favorite condiment.
These waffle fries are Oil Free, Fate Free and absolutely delicious. They make a great side dish or you can make a whole meal out of them, as I typically do, adding some green vegetable and perhaps a side of beans.
Snap a pic of your waffle fries and tag me @heidicooksplants on Instagram. I know you’ll love these as much as I do!
XOXO, Heidi Cooks Plants
P.S., Dorota is still the best character on the show, just sayin’
I love chips and I’m not choosy. Give me a potato chip, tortilla chip, pretzel, or sweet potato chip. You name it and I’m there. But, since I’ve been following a WFPB way of eating, I really try to avoid the chips and crackers because we all know it’s just empty calories and no one can ever eat just one. So now you can make these today and enjoy this guilt-free snack while you watch the Super Bowl (or Netflix)!
Enter my beloved air fryer. I just knew there must be some way to make a fat free, oil free yet tasty chip to replace my greasy, calorie-laden kettle chips. While scrolling through the grocery store the other day I spotted a package of wonton wrappers and I quickly looked at the ingredient list and I decided this could be my new chip material. So, I hurried back to the “test kitchen” to see what I could come up with.
I began with some lofty ideas about making little dessert wontons stuffed with chopped apples and my chocolate hummus, but that didn’t exactly work out as planned. With a few more tries, I came up with 3 chip varieties that anyone can make. The seasoning I used could be adapted to any cuisine. I made some plain, some sweet and some savory. These take just minutes to prepare and are an easy and satisfying snack when you are craving that crunch.
Directions: Set your air fryer to 350 degrees. On a flat work surface, lay out 4 wonton wrappers and brush just the tops with the aquafaba. Sprinkle with seasoning and lay the 4 sheets on the air fryer rack. ** You use each seasoning separately to make the flavor you want*** Cook for about 6 minutes, shaking and looking once to make sure they don’t burn. Every machine is different––mine took about 6 minutes. They tend to stick together, but it’s easy to separate the chips once they are done. Continue with the quantity of chips that you desire, sparkling with your seasoning of choice. I made some plain (salt and pepper), some cinnamon sugar and some with the zatar seasoning.
Crispy and ready to crush
Plain and ready to much
These would also be delicious served with hummus or guac or even salsa. The next time I make these, I think I’ll use some smoky seasoning to serve with chili. Make them your own with the seasonings and flavors that you like and you will never have to reach for the Lay’s (or Cape Cod Kettle Chips).
I hope that you give these a try. Please tag me on Instagram @heidicooksplants and let me know how you like them. See you in the kitchen soon,
I love chocolate. Rich, dark, creamy decadent chocolate. Guilty as charged. As a whole foods, plant based eater, I still like (and eat) chocolate. I’m human––and I’m guessing you are too. I’ve found a great way to satisfy that chocolate craving with fewer calories as well as adding some nutrient dense goodness.
Have you seen Chocolate Hummus in the grocery store yet? Our Publix sells it for almost $4.00 for an itty-bitty container. I even spotted it this morning at Aldi for $3.49. I picked it up, put my readers on to see the ingredient list and quickly placed it back in the cooler. The ingredients included coconut oil and tahini and I knew those were definite no-no’s. As soon as I got home, I knew I could make my own and now I can share with all of you!
1/2 cup pitted dates that have been soaked to soften (reserve the water)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 T. pure maple syrup
Unsweetened, plain almond milk
Pinch of kosher salt
Directions: Add rinsed and drained chickpeas and the drained dates to the bowl of a food processor (reserve the soaking liquid from the dates) and blend until very smooth. You may have to stop and scrape the sides a few times. I added about 4 tablespoons of the date water to the mixture to get it to the right consistency. Next, add the cocoa powder, extract and salt and continue to blend. Add in the almond milk by the tablespoon if you need to. I added 2 tablespoons and then gave it a taste. I wanted mine a little sweeter, so I added just 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and blended again. Transfer to a serving bowl or a container and store in the refrigerator. Makes about a 2 cup serving.
Perfect as a dip for pretzels or fruit. I dipped some strawberries in mine and they were delicious.
Strawberries and chocolate are a favorite combination of mine. Back in my (non vegan) days, I was well known as the chocolate covered strawberry lady. I used to make them for parties or as a hostess gift. But, now, I’ll trade the high calorie chocolate for this!
You could spread on graham crackers or even apple slices. It’s a guilt free treat with no oil added and sweetened with just dates (and maple syrup if using). Healthy and nutrient rich and a lot less expensive than store bought.
Decide to make your own? Tag me in your Instagram picture @heidicooksplants and let me know how you like it.
Whenever I visit a Vietnamese restaurant, I have to order the Summer Rolls. Typically, they are white rice paper wrappers filled with shrimp and vegetables and usually some type of thin noodle. As a plant based eater, I have to special order mine (welcome to my world) so that they leave out the shrimp or other meat. Most restaurants also serve them with a yummy peanut dipping sauce.
I was asked to bring an appetizer to a friend’s party and thought this would be a real crowd pleaser. They’re a refreshing change from a crudite platter or a bowl of chips and salsa. My rice paper summer rolls are filled with fresh mint and basil, as well as cucumber and peppers for a snappy crunch.
The other healthy twist to the restaurant version is that I use brown rice paper wrappers. They can be found in the Asian section of many grocery stores, or you can also order them online. I chose the vegetables here based on my preference and taste, but you can certainly adapt the recipe to include what you like.
It may seem like a lot of steps and preparation –– and it is, but in the end, it’s all worth it. Your first two or three rolls may look a little wonky, but by the time you’re done rolling, you’ll be a pro.
The easiest way to do this is to set up an assembly line of small bowls filled with each individual ingredient. The order that you fill your roll isn’t that important, except for the first 3 ingredients. You want to put the mint and basil down first, top with the noodles and then add the avocado. I found that if you put the avocado here (in the middle), then it is less likely to ooze out the sides. (You really don’t want to lose any avocado.) Then just follow my instructions in the recipe box to complete the rolls.
1-2 colored peppers, sliced thinly (your choice of color)
1/2 large seedless cucumber, cut into long strips
Fresh mint leaves, approx. 16 leaves
Fresh basil, approx. 8 large leaves
Cook the rice ramen noodles according to package directions, drain and cut noodles with kitchen shears. Set aside in a bowl. Prepare all the other vegetables that you’re using. Set up an assembly line with each ingredient in its own bowl.
Take a round pie plate or other shallow bowl that will accommodate the rice wrappers. Fill the plate with warm water and gently dip one rice wrapper in the water. You have to work quickly and also not soak the wrapper too long or it will fall apart. Lay the wet wrapper on a flat work surface and start layering the fillings. I go in this order: mint and basil first, then a small layer of noodles, add the avocado slice next, and the rest of the vegetables. Try not to overfill, or it will be very difficult to roll.
Next, very gently pull the bottom edge up and over the filling (away from you). Then, fold in the sides (like a burrito) and continue to roll away from you until it is in a tight package. You should have a dish set aside with some parchment paper to lay each roll on. The outer skin gets very sticky, so try to have parchment around each roll to prevent them from sticking to each other. When you have finished all the rolls, you can store in the fridge until ready to serve. These can be made ahead of time, but should be served the same day.
You can buy already-prepared sauce for dipping, or try my peanut sauce from my recent Buddha Bowl post.
Dip the wrapper in water
Add the basil and mint
Layer on the noodles
Add all the remaining veggies
The wrappers are very sticky, so if you are not serving them immediately, I recommend wrapping each one in parchment paper and storing in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, they look really nice cut in halves and served on a platter with dipping sauce. Once the rolls sit out for a while, they lose their “stickiness” and are especially delicious.
Fold the bottom edge over the filling
Carefully fold in the edges
Continue to roll tightly
Your finished roll!
Leave me a comment and let me know if you made these. You can also snap a pic and tag #vegansummerrolls on Instagram. See you in the kitchen soon,