Oil-Free Vegan Arugula or Basil 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/Basil 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 OR Basil (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

Wouldn’t you love to save some time?

If you spend a few hours in the kitchen today, I promise it will be worth it  later in the week. It’s batch cooking time! (Insert very energetic emoji here)  I have referred to my “batch cooking Sundays” in previous posts and I felt like it was time to finally get around to showing you, dear readers, how I accomplish all this work. It really is fairly easy and worth a couple hours of effort. Follow my easy steps and you will be thanking me on Wednesday when you are tired and can’t think of anything to prepare for lunch or dinner.

The first thing I do is roughly decide what types of things I’ll want to eat in the coming week. Breakfast is the simplest do-ahead meal. I eat steel cut oats pretty much each weekday morning. If you make them from scratch in the morning, they take over 30 minutes. No one has time for that, but you can make a pot of oats on Sunday and refrigerate them. Every morning, just scoop out what you’d like and pop them in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Some mornings, I mash in a banana and blueberries. If you like savory oats, you can add some chopped tomato, chopped mushrooms or any other veggies you have on hand. Presto–sweet or savory breakfast oats.

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A breakfast staple

For lunches and dinners, I like to have a grain prepared ahead of time. Some weeks, I’ll cook short grain brown rice or maybe some brown basmati rice. Other weeks, I’ll bake 6 potatoes. These grains become the “base” of a meal. Once you have a grain, you can build on it with steamed vegetables, or a stir fry or beans for a Mexican-style meal. This week I decided to make farro. If you haven’t tried farro, you need to. It is a very hearty grain, similar to barley. The one I use is from Trader Joe’s and it cooks in only 10 minutes.

Next on the menu is butternut squash. For dinner tonight, we are having a new salad recipe that I found in the latest issue of the Forks over Knives magazine. It calls for butternut squash, so I decided to keep the extra cubed squash for meals later this week. Once you cube the squash, place on parchment paper and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. You don’t need to add any oil. If the squash seems a little dry, just brush with some water. I seasoned mine with smoked paprika, but you can try cinnamon or curry. The squash will be delicious later this week mixed with the farro and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar.

To round out my afternoon of cooking, I steamed a big pot of broccoli and I made a batch of dragon dressing. The dragon dressing is a staple in my kitchen. I make a batch almost every week. You can find this peanut-ty, absolutely delicious dressing in the Engine 2 Cookbook. 

Once you have all of your prep work done, just put everything in containers for easy access all week in your fridge. If you like asian flavors, make a bowl with farro, broccoli and dragon dressing. You can add in some water chestnuts and snap peas. If you’re in the mood for tex-mex, try heating up some black beans and salsa to mix with the farro and throw in some chopped spinach and some avocado and corn.

I hope that you give batch cooking a try. If you feel overwhelmed, just start with one thing. Cook your oats today and see how that works for your morning routine. Next week, try some grains or potatoes. This method of food prep really helps me stay on track during the week. Leave me a comment and let me know how your meal prepped worked out.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Fall in Florida??

I’m a midwestern girl…(that must be the start of a song lyric somewhere) and probably one of the hardest adjustments is not having a change of seasons.  Honestly, I’m truly not that sad about it. I typically have no complaints about our weather, but when the temperature is steadily in the 90s, it really is a little difficult to get into the “pumpkin spice and baking” mode.

Today I was out and about running some errands and found my way into TJ Maxx, cuz why not? I only needed one thing, which I found pretty quickly but then I couldn’t leave without a trip into the cookware aisle. I found this pretty, bright red silicone muffin pan. It was only $3.99 and had the original Bed Bath and Beyond price tag of $12.99, so that was pretty much a no-brainer!

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I had to put this beautiful pan to the test and today’s fall inspired recipe is an Oil-free, Dairy-free, Pumpkin Apple Cinnamon Muffin. Here’s how I made them:

  • 1 C. oat flour
  • 1 C. whole wheat flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 T. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 T. Vietnamese Cinnamon (any cinnamon is fine, I just prefer these because they have a lot more “spice”
  • 1 C. unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 C. canned pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 C. pure maple syrup
  • Equivalent of 2 eggs (I used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer)
  • 2 peeled, chopped apples (I used Fuji-but any crunchy apple should be fine)
  • 2 T. oat flour mixed with 1 T. coconut sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare your muffin pan. If you’re not using a silicone pan, line the pan with muffin liners and set aside.   Peel and chop your apples and toss with the oat flour and coconut sugar to coat the apple pieces and set that aside for the batter. Prepare your egg replacer and set aside. Combine all the dry ingredients (flours through spices) in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place all the wet ingredients (almond milk through maple syrup) in a large bowl. I used an immersion blender to mix the wet ingredients. You don’t need to, but it seemed easier than mixing by hand. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine to make the batter. When it is well mixed, stir in the apple pieces and if you’d like, save a few pieces to add to the tops.

I used an ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup, and I filled them to the top. Place some apple pieces on top and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon and sugar (optional). Place in the oven and bake for 34 minutes. Every oven is different, so you may want to start checking at 28 minutes. These seemed to take longer than I thought because the batter was wetter than many muffin recipes.

Let them cool (I know that’s the hardest part). Pop them out of the pan and enjoy! They are moist and not too sweet and perfect for a fall morning with a cup of coffee!

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Enjoy and let me know in the comments how you liked them!

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Spreading the Plant Based Wisdom sure isn’t easy…but I’m trying!

After an inspiring weekend spent immersed in the Plant Based culture at Plant Stock 2018 (see previous post here), I thought I was prepped and ready to face the outside world of SAD (Standard American Diet) eaters. At practically every corner, there are doubters and skeptics that think this isn’t a feasible way to eat and live or its just too much trouble to change. True, as one of our speakers said last weekend, “you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable”.

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Homemade granola breakfast bowl

I am back in my hometown of suburban Cleveland, Ohio this week taking care of family issues. I am pretty much alone when it comes to my eating habits, although my family is used to my special requests and they are supportive and understanding when I decline the meals they have prepared. For me it is just second nature to prep my own food and decipher a restaurant menu to find just the right thing I will eat.

I guess my wish and hope is that more restaurants can come on board with the whole plant based idea. I had lunch on Saturday with my cousins at a “make your own salad” kind of place, called Hello Bistro. This was pretty close to being a perfect option for anyone following this way of eating. (Outside of a strictly vegan only restaurant) They have some ready to order salads and sandwiches, but they also have a huge assembly line salad bar where they fill your bowl with whatever you want, add in a dressing and toppings and then chop it to your liking. It was really delicious.

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Sarasota Farmer’s Market-perfect plant food choices every Saturday!

I’ll be returning home to Florida tomorrow. Back to my own kitchen and all my ingredients and familiarities. And my next steps in my whole food world? I am going to enroll in an online wellness/nutrition course and learn as much as I can about the healing power and health benefits of plants. I’m so excited to begin a program so that I am better equipped to answer questions and hopefully guide others if they are curious and ready to “join the tribe”

beige wooden rectangular chopping board
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ll will definitely keep you all posted on my progress, and there will be more recipes and tips follow in the near future.

See you soon in my kitchen,

Heidi