Oil Free Chocolate Hummus

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!

 

Oil Free Chocolate Hummus

  • Servings: varies
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Ingredients:

  • 1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 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.

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Decide to make your own? Tag me in your Instagram picture @heidicooksplants and let me know how you like it.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

 

Vegan Summer Rolls

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.

Vegan Summer Rolls

  • Servings: 8 as an appetizer
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Ingredients:

  • 8 sheets of brown rice paper wrappers
  • 2 packages of brown rice ramen noodles, cooked (do not use seasoning packet
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 C. broccoli slaw
  • 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

Directions:

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.

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.

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,

Heidi

Buddha Bowl Basics

Countless variations on the Buddha Bowl can be found on any Pinterest or Google search these days. I’m throwing my recipe in the ring because I think it’s an easy way to get your greens and other essential nutrients into one big bowl of deliciousness.

Some of you may be asking what exactly is a Buddha Bowl? Typically  it’s a big bowl (duh), filled with a variety of greens, grains and beans and topped with a tasty sauce. Almost every vegan cookbook, website and blog has some variation of a bowl.  According to collinsdictionary.com “a buddha bowl is a meal-sized bowl filled with vegetarian food.” That certainly leaves a lot of room for interpretation, wouldn’t you say?  Delish.com says the bowls were named as such because they resemble the belly of a giant buddha.  I find it ironic that it’s named for the buddha’s belly, because eating this bowl shouldn’t make YOUR tummy look anything like a buddha’s! Regardless of its origins, I find that my Buddha bowl makes for a healthy, delicious and nutritious meal.

I’ve been on the “bowl” bandwagon pretty much from the beginning of my plant based journey. Making up bowls is one of the easiest ways to combine all the healthy ingredients that you love into one fabulous dish. And it goes back to my mantra of batch cooking as well. When you have grains and vegetables already prepped in your fridge, then throwing together a bowl is a simple and fast way to get lunch or dinner on the table. It’s also completely customizable –– so you can have an ingredient buffet set up for all of your family and everyone can make their own bowl.

The bowl I’m featuring today came about because I had half  a red cabbage in the fridge and I wasn’t quite sure what else to do with it. I also had some zucchini and squash to use up, so that was going in the bowl too. My recipe can be tweaked with what you like –– but the basic formula is: a grain (could be quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat pasta), several veggies, both raw and cooked, some beans and a sauce. I tend to favor asian flavors, so this peanut sauce is my go-to. If you like Mexican flavors, you could use salsa or hot sauce and add in some avocado and maybe some homemade baked tortilla chips. You could also make a falafel bowl with mediterranean toppings like tahini, sesame seeds and cucumber and tomato. I have never made a bowl that wasn’t great!

Heidi's Buddha Bowl

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 each, yellow squash and zucchini, cut into zoodle shape or julienned
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 cups of chopped, cooked broccoli
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa, cooked
  • 1 batch of peanut dressing (see below)

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions and set aside. Take the raw zoodles and microwave for about 2-3 minutes until tender, and then drain them. Combine all the ingredients in individual bowls and drizzle with the peanut dressing. Note: The serving size will vary with the bowl size used.

Peanut Dressing:

Note: Dressing adapted from The Engine 2 Diet Cookbook

  • 1/4 cup of fresh ground peanut butter
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 T. sriracha (to your spice level)
  • 2 t. jarred, minced ginger
  • 1/4- 1/2 C. water (depends on how thick or thin you like your dressing)
  • Juice of one lime

Directions:

Blend all the dressing ingredients in a high speed blender. Refrigerate any unused dressing. It will last for about a week.

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I hope you give this recipe a try or maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own. Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Air Fryer Vegan Arancini

Yes! I took the plunge and jumped on the air fryer bandwagon. I had been seeing so many posts and photos showing fabulous culinary creations using this device so I just couldn’t pass up a great Black Friday deal last week.

Krups XL air fryer

I got this Krups XL air fryer . I had to try it out the minute it was delivered, so I quickly cut up some potatoes to make French fries and they were absolutely delicious. If you haven’t seen or heard about the air fryer-it’s a magical machine that “fries” food without the use of any oil. For those of us in the plant based world who avoid adding any oil to foods-this is simply wonderful!

Today in the kitchen I am making arancini-which are Italian rice balls. The first time I had ever had Arancini was at Giada DeLaurentis’ restaurant in Las Vegas years ago (before I was vegan-and I ate cheese!!) I can still remember the delicious appetizer we all shared at our table-creamy risotto-like rice and cheese and Italian seasonings all breaded and lightly fried. I decided, hmmm..I can duplicate that, right?

I used my old standby-Aquafaba- to mimic the egg that you would normally use to coat the balls in the breadcrumbs. I also used a coating mixture of cornmeal and ground flaxseed meal which is a super easy way to get those Omega 3s into your plant based diet.

Here is my plant based version of Italian Arancini:

  • 2 C. cooked short grain brown rice-can be made ahead and room temperature
  • 1/2 C. frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 C. finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped raw kale or spinach (I used kale)
  • 2 T. walnut parmesan (recipe below)
  • 2-3 T. marinara sauce–plus additional marinara for dipping
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. dried oregano

For the coating:

  • The aquafaba from one can of chickpeas
  • 1/3 C. ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/3 c. finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 T. walnut parmesan
  • 1 t. kosher salt

For the Walnut parmesan–you take 1/2 cup of raw walnuts, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pulse in a high speed blender or food processor so that it resembles parmesan cheese.

First, I added all the ingredients (rice through oregano) in a large mixing bowl and stirred to combine everything. I used my hands to mix it really well and then formed balls and placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  In a small bowl combine the flaxseed, cornmeal, parmesan and salt. In a separate bowl, pour in the aquafaba.  Next, take one ball at a time and dip in the aquafaba and then roll in the breading and place back on the parchment until all the balls are coated.  Set your air fryer to 350 degrees and place the balls on the rack in the basket and set the timer for 18 minutes. I turned the balls over at 9 minutes so that they would brown evenly. I ended up with 12 balls and cooked them in two batches of 6 so that the basket wasn’t overcrowded.

Vegan Arancin

These are absolutely delicious served with some marinara on the side. You can certainly tweak the seasonings to your taste. I think the next time, I’ll add some red pepper flakes and maybe a touch more salt, but aside from that, I thought they were a very close replication of the cheesy and fried version I remembered.

Air fryer Arancini
Delicious with a side of Marinara!

 

And now I have these chickpeas leftover from the can I opened to use the aquafaba. Next up in the air fryer…fried chickpeas! Stay tuned for the next post and I’ll show you how I made a crispy, crunchy snack with those leftover chickpeas.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve got an air fryer and what fabulous foods you’ve made with yours. See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

 

Oil Free, Crispy BBQ Tofu Sticks

You’ve probably heard the phrase FOMO (fear of missing out), but there’s a lesser known acronym out there-FOT (fear of tofu).  Tofu can be a little bit intimidating if you don’t usually cook with it. There are many varieties: soft, silken, firm, extra firm, and it can be packaged in water and refrigerated or it may be in a shelf stable aseptic package. For this recipe, I am using the tofu that is found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It comes in a plastic box and the tofu is packed in water. For those of you who have been uncomfortable cooking with or using tofu, this is the recipe for you.

I’m calling this an “entry-level” tofu recipe. You do not need to be an experienced chef to pull this off! This would be great to bring as an appetizer to any holiday gathering you might have.  It’s a healthy alternative to buffalo wings or mozzarella sticks so commonly found on the party table.

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This recipe came together literally in minutes. Six ingredients–(actually five, if you don’t count the seasoning) that’s all! You may even have most of these ingredients in your pantry already. I used a salt free seasoning, but you can certainly change the seasoning to your preference.

You could make your own bbq sauce from scratch-but this Stubbs brand that I use is low in sugar and is perfectly fine in this recipe. I would have liked to have used whole wheat panko-but they are really hard to find, so I amped up the nutrients by adding in some ground flaxseed meal.

Here’s how these little crispy fingers are done:

 

 

Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. On a large plate, mix your panko, yeast, flaxseed and seasonings. Pour the bbq sauce in a small to medium bowl. Open the tofu in the sink so that you can drain the water from the package and pat the block dry with some paper towels. The Earth Fare brand that I used was extra firm and that variety seemed to work really well. Slice your tofu in half so you have two slabs and then slice into even slices. I ended up with 12 finger-like pieces. Next, dip each piece in the bbq sauce and then roll in the panic mixture to coat each side. Repeat until you have them all coated. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes-turning each piece at the half way mark.

 

 

 

So, while your tofu is baking away in the oven, here’s the nutrition run down. Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorous. In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. A 3 1/2 ounce serving is only 70 calories, which makes it a highly nutrient-dense food. And remember, we are making these crunchy snacks without any added oil.

Wow! These just came out of the oven and I wish you could taste them right now. Crispy and crunchy and that 21 Salute Seasoning has a little bit of a kick! And you know when you cook with tofu-it’s all about making sure the tofu is well seasoned. This spice did not disappoint. I could also see using a smoked paprika and some chili flakes instead of the blend I used. I’m going to serve mine with some extra bbq sauce on the side.

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So, don’t fear the tofu. Give these a try and bring them to your next party.  Let’s see how long they last on the buffet. I think they’d also make a great dinner with some steamed broccoli and some brown rice or noodles on the side. Leave a comment and let me know how you liked them.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I’ll see you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

“Everything But The Bagel” Breadsticks

I found the most amazing new product last week while I was scrolling through one of my Plant Based LinkedIn groups. There was a post from Feel Good Dough and a beautiful food photo that caught my eye. I contacted the company to ask if this product was available in Florida, and the owner, Terry Thomsen, replied that it was not, but she would send me a dry mix dough to try out. I was super excited to receive my Feel Good Dough Oil Free, Whole Grain dough mix in the mail today.

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I had never heard of Feel Good Dough. A trip to their website shows all of the products that they offer and also has many recipes using their varieties of dough. In the dry mix, you can choose from three all organic mixes: Classic Original, Oil free-100% Whole Grain, and Chocolate. There is also a Grain Free Garbanzo mix. All of these are available to order on their website. The frozen doughs are sold in Ohio area stores, which they list on their website. The six frozen doughs are : Classic, Italian Herb, Roasted Garlic, Oil Free 100% Whole Grain and Chocolate–all “Clean” as well as a Cauliflower dough.

As a plant based eater who avoids using oil in my cooking and food, I was so intrigued by this product. And all of you lucky readers will now know about this fabulous product and you’ll have a new recipe too!

The dry mix recipe is really simple to make. It’s really my kind of cooking-one bowl is all you need. The instructions are very straight forward. There’s a small packet of yeast when you open the bag, and all you need to do is mix the entire bag (less one tablespoon that you’ll need for dusting your work surface) with the yeast, add 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix until you can form into a ball. Then you can knead the dough until its in a smooth ball and divide the dough in half. You’ll then need to roll out the dough.  ** Sentimental note regarding my rolling pin. **The giant wooden rolling pin that I use was given to me by my mother, who says it was her Grandmother Hannah’s, which she brought with her to America from Hungary. I was named after my great grandmother, so that rolling pin is kind of special!

Today, I decided to use half the recipe to make breadsticks, and I will likely use the other half to make a pizza tonight for dinner. The instructions on the dry mix state that any dough not used right away can be store in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen.

Everything but the Bagel Seasoning is an exclusive Trader Joe’s product and we use it in our house almost everything. It’s delicious on avocado toast or on top of (non dairy) cream cheese or sprinkled on cucumber slices-there are no wrong answers here. So when I thought about a recipe today, I immediately reached for my go-to spice. It was a great choice.

After I rolled out the dough to about a 12 inch form, that (as you can see from my picture), was not quite a circle. I used a pizza cutter to make strips. I transferred the strips to a round pizza stone and brushed each strip with aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) and then liberally sprinkled with the seasoning.  I used the aquafaba as an egg wash replacement. If you aren’t plant based, then you can use an egg mixed with some water to brush on top of the dough to give it some color. It also gives the seasoning something to “stick” to.  I baked them for 12 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven until they looked golden and toasted. You can see how crispy and delicious they look, right??!

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They are really crunchy and tasted great on their own, but we also thought they’d taste even better dipped in some marinara sauce or some oil free basil pesto that we had in the fridge. Both are great options that won’t add a lot of calories and are great oil free options.

I hope that you give Feel Good Dough a try. I know I’ll be ordering some very soon. Hmmm, just thinking about what I can make with that Chocolate dough….Mmmmm!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Best Crunchy Oil Free Granola You Will Ever Eat—-Vegan

Crunchy. Oil Free. Dairy Free. Sweetened with just maple syrup—no other sugars.  You just found the best granola recipe ever with no added calories from oil.  The secret (magic) ingredient is aquafaba, which is the liquid that’s in a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Yep, you read that right-chickpea juice.

I’ve seen a few recipes online that use aquafaba in baking. I made a vegan challah last year by whipping the aquafaba to replace the eggs and I also tried another oil free granola recipe that replaced the coconut oil with aquafaba. It really does work as a great substitute for oil or eggs, depending on how it’s used.

 

 

Last week, I came across a recipe from The Lazy Cat Kitchen and I tried her method, which seemed to be the easiest one I have come across. Today, I tweaked her recipe to make an oil free and nut free version of granola. So many people these days have nut allergies, so I wanted to try a nut-free version of this typically nut laden snack.

Trail Mix Granola is the best of all worlds, in my opinion. You have the sweet and salty and crunchy too. I blended old fashioned oats and buckwheat groats and mixed in raw peanuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and a heavy dose of cinnamon. After the granola cooled I stirred in some raisins and some dairy free chocolate chips. Unbelievably good!

Crunchy Oil Free Granola

  • Servings: 6
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Heres the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 325 and cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine oats thru salt and mix well. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, peanut butter, aquafaba and extract. Whisk to mix well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and make sure it is well coated. Spread the mix onto the sheet pan and flatten into a single layer. Bake for a total of 30-35 minutes–but at 15 minutes, turn the pan around in the oven so that it cooks evenly. It’s done when it looks brown all over. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool-without stirring so that the granola clumps up. When the granola is cool, mix in the raisins and chocolate chips and try not to eat the whole pan at once!

 

 

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This will be your new favorite too!

I think this is my new favorite granola!  It’s got the crunch-it’s got the sweet and salty. The only thing that’s missing is the oil and calories, and who needs that? Hope you give it a try and love it as much as I do! Leave me a comment and let me know.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Easy roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes

Time to clean out the fridge! I found some less than desirable looking brussels sprouts lurking in the veg drawer, so it was time to bring them to life. I decided to pair them with a couple of not so pretty sweet potatoes that were also nearly past their prime. Today I am going to show you how to easily roast vegetables without using any oil. This technique works with ANY vegetable. I use this method with broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, squash-you name it!

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Veggies all cut up and ready for seasoning

I sliced the brussels in half and chopped the sweet potato into small chunks in order to cook evenly. I then spread all the veggies on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzled them with some vegetable broth and covered them with Zatar seasoning. You can use any seasoning that you like. The Zatar spice blend is a middle-eastern blend that contains sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt. Next, I placed the pan in a preheated 400 degree oven. After 20 minutes, I stirred everything and continued cooking for about 15 more minutes. When they were finished, I removed the pan to cool and before serving, I drizzled them with some balsamic glaze.

When you cook without oil, your vegetables still get that crispy texture and you avoid all the added and unnecessary calories from the oil. You can see from the picture that “no oil roasting” in the oven still produces a crispy vegetable. Many of us were led to believe that oil was needed and was a”healthy” fat. It’s just not true. Oil is a processed food that provides no nutrients, only calories, which consist of 100% fat. In other words, eat the olive-not the olive oil!

I hope you give this technique a try. Brussels are a terrific green to add to your diet. They are considered a dark leafy green and they are rich in Vitamin C. Just one serving of brussels sprouts provides you with half of the daily recommended allowance for Vitamin C. And lets not forget the healthy benefits of sweet potatoes.  That beautiful orange vegetable is full of Vitamin A (beta carotene), and just delicious, too!

Leave me a comment and let me know what vegetable you decided to roast!

I have a new Facebook page. Please visit and “like” my page for more tips and cooking hints.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Keeping it Simple

Maybe that’s easier said than done, but today I’d like to talk about a few simple ways to add more whole foods into your daily food rotation.

Obviously, I am going to start with breakfast. I like to eat in the morning. There, I said it…I like to eat. And I do eat.  A lot. I stay away from processed, refined foods and stick with whole grains, like oats and lots of colorful fruits and veggies. The message hasn’t changed-breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is your fuel. Have a banana. Have a piece of whole grain toast with some nut butter. Just eat! If you are used to starting your day with just coffee, just try some fruit or some oatmeal and see how that makes you feel. Jump on the avocado toast bandwagon-you will thank me later!

Let’s move on to lunch. Are you having a salad? Does the salad have some nice leafy greens or is it just iceberg or romaine lettuce? Try adding some dark, leafy greens to your salad. Chop up some kale very finely or throw in a few handfuls of broccoli slaw to amp up the nutrients. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts) will fill you up and provide much needed fiber in your diet.

Maybe you’ve decided to have a sandwich or a wrap for lunch. Try swapping the white bread or wrap for a 100% whole wheat bread, pita or wrap. There are so many great breads in the stores. I love Dave’s Killer Bread (the green wrapper is my favorite). Trader Joe’s also sells a delicious 100% whole wheat pita. Again, that whole grain will fill you up and provide some fiber too.

And don’t be afraid of potatoes. Potatoes get such a bad reputation as being too carby or unhealthy. Believe me, potatoes are magic food. It’s not the potato, it’s the unhealthy toppings that most people put on top that make them a poor choice. I absolutely love Yukon Gold potatoes. They have a super creamy taste. Try topping them with your favorite salsa-you will love them!

What’s for dinner tonight? Whether you are eating in or dining out, it is possible to make some easy swaps for healthier options. If you’re cooking pasta at home, try whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. If you’re making a stir fry, use brown rice instead of white. Cauliflower rice is also a great option to replace traditional rice. It’s becoming much easier to find in the grocery store. Swapping cauliflower rice is a great option and is a great way to amp up your daily vegetable intake. Spiralizing your veggies is also a great option as a pasta replacer. You can buy spiralized veggies in the grocery store or make them yourself. A quick saute of zucchini spirals with some pasta sauce is a healthy and filling dinner.

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Spiralized zucchini with sauce, beans and mushrooms

When you’re dining out, “just say no” to the bread basket. It’s usually highly processed white bread.  I would only break this rule if the restaurant is known for its homemade, scrumptious bread. If it looks like dinner rolls from the freezer, skip it!  Scan through the menu and look for key words like “steamed” or “braised”. Try to avoid “pan-fried” or “crispy” anything. Ask a lot of questions if you want to know how foods are prepared. Oftentimes, substitutions can be made, it’s just a matter of asking for what you need.

You may have read this and thought to yourself, oh, Heidi, this is all common sense, I’ve heard all of this before. You’re right, it is. But I’m asking you to try one thing at a time. Maybe tomorrow you will just make a change to your breakfast. Try that for a week. Next week, add some new veggies to your lunch and do that all week. And finally, start incorporating some whole grains to dinner. Before you know it, you will start to crave and need those whole foods. Believe me, your body is going to thank you. Feed your body what it needs. It’s as simple as that.

Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve done to add whole foods into your diet. What would like to see next on my blog?

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

I scream, you scream,

we all scream for “NICE CREAM”! I am back in the kitchen today with, yet again, another banana recipe. This time, I am featuring the frozen bananas that keep accumulating in my freezer. I keep a supply ready to make smoothies, but I haven’t been making them very often. In trying to clean out my freezer a little, I discovered a great frozen dessert option involving said frozen bananas.If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss, this is a great way to enjoy a frozen dessert and have it truly be a guilt free treat.

A few weeks ago, I watched one of my favorite You tube videos featuring Ann and Jane Esselstyn. They did a segment on the Yonana machine and demonstrated how easy it was to make “nice cream” with frozen bananas and other frozen fruits. It looked fabulous and I quickly went to the Yonanas website to look at the machine. It’s BIG! And I don’t know about you, but I absolutely have no room whatsoever for another kitchen gadget. Especially one that has pretty much only one function. In the past, I have watched other  videos showing nice cream recipes. Most of those involved using a standard food processor. I  did try using my food processor, but I was never really happy with the results. So, I tested out a few batches with my Nutri Ninja. My Nutri Ninja is really the workhorse of my kitchen. I use mine almost daily for blending dressing and sauces and now it is my go-to for making delicious, creamy, amazing nice cream.

Nice cream

  • Servings: 1
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Ingredients:

  • One banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/3 C. unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1-2 T. fresh ground peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1 t. vanilla, almond or mint extract

Here’s how I made this decadent looking banana, chocolate and peanut butter nice cream. I placed one frozen banana in the ninja cup. (Make sure you slice the bananas before you freeze them). Next, I added 1/3 cup of unsweetened plain almond milk, 1 tablespoon each of unsweetened cocoa powder, maple syrup and fresh ground peanut butter. (I may have snuck in an extra tablespoon of peanut butter).  A personal note about peanut butter. I honestly feel that the fresh ground peanut butter you can get at the grocery store tastes the best. It is the only kind I buy now. Set the ninja up and hit start and you will have a creamy, rich, chocolatey dessert in about a minute. If you don’t want to enjoy your dessert right away, you can place the nice cream in a container in the freezer and have it anytime.

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Creamy, chocolatey deliciousness

You can use other fruits along with the banana to make other flavors. Try adding some frozen strawberries for a more fruity treat or mango for a tropical dessert. You can find a lot of recipes for nice cream on Pinerest or other recipe sites. You’re only limited by your imagination (and frozen fruit supply!)

Leave me a comment and let me know how your nice cream turned out. See you in the kitchen again soon,

Heidi