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

Brunch with my tribe

Spending a few hours and a meal with a room full of plant based eaters doesn’t happen very often for me. Yes, I did spend a three day weekend in August at Plant Stock and that was amazing! But, here, in my everyday life in beautiful Florida, I am seldom surrounded by my plant based tribe.

Today, my husband and I attended a Vegan and Oil-Free Buffet with friends who happen to be vegan also. (Disclaimer, my husband is a flexitarian who also enjoys many plant based meals).  The event was hosted by The Food Pharmacy. I didn’t know much about the Food Pharmacy until very recently when a friend had mentioned it to me. In a nutshell, the Food Pharmacy is just that. Their mission is show people that eating and preparing plant based foods is a better option than medications to treat disease. I was lucky enough to speak to one of the Food Pharmacy’s owners, Evelisse Capo. She and her partner, Elisa Burgos, addressed the group at the restaurant today and explained the importance of a plant based lifestyle.

By a show of hands, perhaps more than half of the attendees were fully plant based or vegan, some new to this way of eating, and some partially vegan. Evelisse explained “why” oil free is so important. Vegetable oils are stripped of all nutrients. It is a processed food that has no place in a whole food, plant based diet. For years, we’ve always been told that olive oil is a healthy fat. It simply is not true. Look at the following picture below that shows the calorie density of 500 calories.

Image 10-7-18 at 3.55 PM

Brunch today was held at The Curry Station restaurant in Sarasota. The chef/owner, Chef Narendra, prepared an entire Indian Buffet cooked without any oil. Everything was plant based, whole food and the most delicious Indian food I have every had. The buffet had chickpea curry, whole wheat roti, several rice options, and an eggplant dish, just to name a few.  He explained to us that he always has oil free options on his menu and emphasized that this was not just a special meal for our group today. I was so thrilled to hear that and I know that we will definitely frequent his restaurant.

This was a very well attended event. It was so exciting to be in a restaurant full of people who eat like you do and to hear why many of them eat this way. Evelisse told us that she is a Doctor of Pharmacy, but she left the practice of pharmacy to start the Food Pharmacy and that her entire family is plant based. I also heard a few other people comment that they eat this way because they want to prevent or reverse a chronic disease, like heart disease or diabetes. I also got into a discussion with two people at the buffet about how the meat industry is destroying our environment.  We all spent a few minutes sharing our thoughts on our favorite documentaries: Forks Over Knives, What the Health, Eating you Alive. (I loved all of them-I couldn’t say which was my favorite) Whatever the reason, this event brought so many like minded people together, but it’s just a start.

We need more restaurants to get on board and offer something more than a salad for its customers who do not eat animal products. Chef Narendra showed us all how delicious and healthy this way of eating is. I am ready to spread the word in my community. How about you?

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