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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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
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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

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Gossip Girl Waffle (Fries)…and an ode to Rufus Humphrey

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.

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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!

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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.original-22033-1425680648-47

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

Oil Free Waffle Iron Fries

  • Servings: 4-6
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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.

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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’

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Make it a Revolution, not a Resolution

The New Year is right around the corner and who hasn’t already thought about those dreaded “resolutions”?  You know, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds” “I’m never eating fried foods” “I’m going to the gym every day” and on and on they go.

Two years ago, what started as a resolution for me became a revolution. A close friend suggested that we sign up for Veganuary.  According to their website, “Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.” I signed up and at the same time, I also joined a new group on Facebook called the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue, which is a plant based lifestyle program. So, between the two groups, I was committing myself to some pretty significant changes.

I had thought I was a pretty healthy eater until I began following these programs. At first, I felt that I was giving up so many of the foods that I enjoyed-and I did struggle initially. They say your tastebuds will change when you give up all the processed foods, and it’s true. Simple, unprocessed foods really do taste better. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains are delicious when they are prepared without oil and extra salt. I’ve learned to cook in a completely new way. I have found friends online and in real life who eat and cook this way and it is exciting to have people to share this with.

So, I’m going to throw a little challenge your way. How about starting with some small changes. And here’s the twist-start now! Don’t wait for January 1-you CAN do this now. When you’re done reading this, go for a walk. If you’re up north where the weather is frigid, walk in place while you’re watching tv. Start with 10 minutes, if you’re not used to exercising. The goal is to just get moving.

Next, I want you to stop using oil. Yes, even olive oil, which is not the health food that it claims to be. The olive itself is healthy, but the oil is stripped of all the nutrients and is a processed food. Did you know that you can sauté pretty much anything with just water or vegetable broth? I am not kidding-give it a try and you will be as surprised as I was the first time. Vegetables like onions just need a tablespoon, and mushrooms give off their own juice, so water isn’t even necessary. Use balsamic vinegar glaze as a salad dressing or just a few squeezes of fresh lemon on your greens. Thin out some hummus with a little water-it makes a great salad dressing too.

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Roasted Brussels sprouts and Sweet Potatoes-NO OIL

Start your week with “Meatless Monday.” Take a look at Pinterest or scroll through my blog to get some ideas. My son is a total carnivore, but I showed him how to make an easy rice and beans dish and now he cooks that on a regular basis. Once you repeat these small changes, they’ll become a habit and you’ll be on your way to better health.

Find foods and flavors that you love and look for recipes that are easy. If it’s simple, you’ll go back to it over and over. I love basil and I found a fabulous oil free basil pesto recipe from Oh She Glows. I make it at least once a week and use it as a vegetable dip, a spread on pita or even thinned out a little to serve over pasta.

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Oil Free Basil Pesto

The Engine 2 group that I mentioned earlier started on Facebook as a support for the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue book. When I joined the closed facebook group two years ago, I think there were a few hundred members. Today, there are over 31,000 members! Clearly, people are joining this revolution!

If you’re interested in individual help and guidance, I am available for one-on-one consultations. I want this to be YOUR year of revolution, not just a resolution.

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

 

 

“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 date paste—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 date paste, 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!

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See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi