Air Fryer Wonton Chips-4 ways

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.

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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.

Air Fryer Wonton Chips

  • Servings: varies
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Ingredients:

  • One package of wonton wrappers
  • Aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • Zatar seasoning
  • 1 T. sugar mixed with 1 t. china cinnamon
  • Everything but the Bagel Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

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- 8 sheets on the air fryer rack. (This really depends on the size of your air fryer racks). My most successful chips have come out when I slightly overlap each wonton on the rack. When you kind of form a “ring”, they will cook as one piece. When they cool off, you can break them apart. ** 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, sprinkling with your seasoning of choice. I made some plain (salt and pepper), some cinnamon sugar, some with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning and some with the zatar seasoning.

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,

Heidi

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

 

 

Why should you go plant based?

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to a group of men and women at a local senior center. It was my first time speaking to a group such as this and I wasn’t sure what to expect or even how I would be received. The organizer from the Meals on Wheels program told me that they like to have a snack, preferably sweets, and suggested I bring something for them to sample and incorporate that into my talk.

I had about a month’s notice to prepare for the talk which was going to be with “The Lunch Club” at the center. I had my keynote (Power Point) all set up and rehearsed and my speech notes were all ready to go. I wasn’t nervous, well, maybe just a little. Why would they want to listen to a talk about plant based eating?

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Yukon Gold “waffles”-side of chickpeas and roasted asparagus drizzled with balsamic glaze

I started talking, and a few latecomers walked in, and one woman said that I should start over. I had only gone through one slide, so she said..”oh, go ahead and start again”. I though to myself…Hmmm, they’re actually listening––and they’re interested!! In all honestly, I did offer the chocolate chip banana cake FIRST!

My talk progressed, and I had a few questions along the way. And everyone took an interest in what I had to say. We had a really great discussion afterwards. Only one or two people left when I finished talking, but the rest sat around and had another piece or two of cake. These men and women had at least 20 years on me. A few ladies had just come from the chair yoga class. One woman proudly announced that she is in her 70s and she does not take one single pill. She said she only eats organic (but she is not vegan). We had a great discussion on my why.

I am asked almost daily “why” I eat this way––vegan, plant-based, whole food––whatever you want to call it. My simple answer is that my body feels better when I eat this way. After more than 2 years of eating this way it has become my lifestyle. Although my motivation to begin this was purely for my health, I am definitely more conscious of the toll that animal farming is taking on the environment. After watching documentaries such as Food, Inc , Eating You Alive and Forks Over Knives, I believe many of you would think very differently about what you put on your plate.

Just yesterday, the Canadian government issued their 2019 health guidelines. And what do you know….their new food guidelines eliminates dairy as a food group and features fruits and vegetables on half your plate! Water is also encouraged as the beverage of choice and protein includes plant protein choices. I wonder how long until the US catches up??

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“Clean out the fridge” salad–tons of colors and flavor!

In our country, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are all preventable lifestyle diseases that can be reversed and prevented through a plant based, whole foods diet. The scientific evidence is out there. It’s as simple as changing what’s on the end of your fork. I know that I will continue to choose plants over pills, how about you?

Do you like my food photos? Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll show you how I made those waffle fries and how I cook with no oil.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

“This post is part of the wellpreneur blog challenge.”

http://learn.wellpreneuronline.com/blog-challenge/

 

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
  • Print

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

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

Viva Las Vegan!

I just returned from a quick trip to Vegas and I thought I’d give you my culinary diary while I was there. From a vegan diet perspective, the choices were better than I expected. From a plant-based diet view, the choices were not exactly on plan and I’ll explain why and what the differences were.

We arrived on Sunday evening, and with a three hour time change, we were starving! Let me backtrack by saying that I did a lot of research before our trip and found the Vegans,baby  website extremely helpful in deciding which restaurants to choose.  We used a Groupon for dinner on Sunday night at SEA, The Thai Experience. SEA is located in the Bally’s Casino. We had eaten there on a previous trip, so we were familiar with the food and knew it would be a good choice. Our Groupon was for 2 appetizers and 2 entrees. For my appetizer, I chose the coconut spring roll, and I ordered the Malay Massaman Curry with Tofu for my entree. The spring rolls were fried, so probably not the healthiest choice-but it’s vacay, right? My curry dish was very good, although I did have to send it back because the spice level was too high when I had ordered it “mild”. The staff was very attentive and took care of it right away.

Day 2 of my culinary adventure brought me to Cañonita at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. Cañonita is situated on the Canal and we had a beautiful table next to the water and throughout lunch, we were serenaded by the Gondeliers. It was lunch and a show! The menu didn’t offer too many vegan options, and I chose the Herbed Mushroom Tacos and made sure there was no dairy added. It’s very typical of Mexican restaurants to add “crema” on their dishes-so I always ask. The soft corn tortilla tacos were served with cilantro rice and black beans. If we hadn’t started our meal with the basket of chips, then this would’ve been my healthiest meal of the trip.

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After some serious steps walking The Strip (25,000+) on my step counter, it was time for dinner. Again, after consulting Vegans, Baby, I made a reservation at Stack, located in the Mirage Hotel.  Before our trip, I scanned the menu carefully and saw that there were multiple vegan offerings. When we were seated and I opened the menu, my heart sank because I didn’t see any of those menu items. Could they have changed their menu that suddenly? This is a steakhouse-clearly not what I had in mind. I quickly flagged down the waiter and asked where the vegan menu was and he brought me the separate menu (whew!). My dinner choice here was the “Chicken” Piccata and a side order of Roasted Wild Mushrooms. The “chicken” was Gardein “chicken” transformed into the most flavorful dish I’ve ever had. The chicken was served on top of peewee potatoes and cauliflower florets, all garnished with a creamy, lemony piccata sauce and lots of capers. It was delicious. My side order of roasted wild mushrooms was a very generous bowl, enough to share with my carnivorous dinner companion/husband!

And just like that, it’s our last day in Vegas. I spent most of the afternoon at the Fashion Show Mall, mostly browsing the hundreds of shops and again, accumulating thousands of steps on my step counter app. Lunch today was a little disappointing. I had high hopes of finding a really innovative and plant based restaurant at the mall, but all I found were chain restaurants that don’t exactly cater to vegan or plant based diners. I settled for a hummus and falafel wrap in the Food Court, where I had to have them re-make my salad without cheese (story of my life). The falafel was very tasty and although it was fried, it wasn’t greasy. After being refueled, I was ready to make the long trek back to my hotel and rest my feet.

Dinner on our last night was at Jardin, located in the Encore Hotel. This was my favorite meal of the trip-because of the food and the atmosphere. The decor is just beautiful.  The mid-century modern decor was what I’d call upscale Brady Bunch. The tables are white lacquer with a gold veining running through and the chairs were chunky and covered in white leather. The tables and chairs made a fabulous contrast against the bright floral mosaic tiled floor. The while ceiling and rotunda were certainly designed to bring in the light and make you feel as though you are in your own private garden.

The food was just as spectacular as the furnishings. I chose the Mushroom Tartine as my starter and the Kale and Spinach Ravioli for my entree. Our server told me that the Mushroom Tartine, was one of the most popular menu items (even though it’s vegan!). I was served with three large pieces of sourdough bread which was topped with an artisan asmod milk cheese, a marsala glaze and mushrooms with a truffle vinaigrette-it was so delicious.  My ravioli entree was a gorgeous green pasta filled with a vegan almond ricotta-topped with roasted mushrooms and pine nuts and served over a red pepper puree.  A magnificent way to end our getaway to Vegas.

As I mentioned earlier, my meals were Vegan, but not necessarily Plant-Based. I certainly met the criteria for avoiding any animal products, but most everything I ate was cooked with oil-which goes against the plant-based philosophy. I do adhere to the plant based way of eating at home, but for a vacation, I allow myself to indulge. As soon as I’m home, I go right back to my plant based plan. And I’m okay with that–it’s all about balance and enjoying your life.

I hope this helps you if there’s a Vegan trip in your future. What restaurants have you found that serve spectacular vegan food? Leave me a comment!  And I’ll see you soon in the kitchen!

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

Living in a (non)plant based world

Ahhh…imagine walking into any restaurant and seeing so many choices that you couldn’t possibly make up your mind. The appetizer section has whole wheat crostini topped with a dairy free pesto and brown rice paper spring rolls filled with just veggies. For the entrees there’s bbq tempeh and seitan piccata, or your choice of stir fry with tofu. The dessert list has sorbet and fresh fruit and not a single buttercream topped cupcake or death by chocolate brownie sundae. Have you seen this place? Yeah, neither have I. This is the restaurant in my dreams! But, the tide is turning.

Last week, I was a guest at the Empty Bowls at Lakewood Ranch- a fundraising event to benefit Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee County. It was billed as the “longest lunch table” It’s mission is to unite one table to envision hunger relief together in Manatee County.  When attendees arrived  at the event (for a $30 ticket), they were given an envelope with several tickets and 3 small tasting cups. The first ticket was to pick out their bowl. Beneath a massive tent were hundreds of hand painted ceramic bowls that volunteers and board members created for the event. After choosing the bowl, you then moved on to a long table filled with soup pots from more than a dozen local restaurants. You were able to sample 3 soups with your mini cup and when you decided on your “bowl”, you turned in your ticket for your soup. In addition, there were bread slices and water to compliment the soup as well as some dessert options. Once you had your soup, it was time to join a large community table and enjoy!

This was my first time attending an event like this and I was very impressed. Initially, I was worried that there wouldn’t be any soup for me. ( I could hear the soup Nazi in my head saying “No Soup for YOU”). But, I was pleasantly surprised that I had 3 really great options in that pool of restaurants. I spoke to the man from Spacco Italian Grill who was serving Pasta Faglioli-which he promised me had no meat and no dairy and was cooked in vegetable broth. It was delicious and he also assured me that when I come to his restaurant, there are vegan options on his menu. There were two other vendors who provided plant based soup choice. There was a roasted garlic bisque from Ortygia and a healing vegetable soup from Jubilee Organics. The Pasta Faglioli was definitely my favorite!

And all of this gives me a positive feeling that restaurants are starting to take notice and offering healthier options for their guests. There is definitely a need for more fully plant based restaurants.  Let’s hope that this trend continues. If you’ve had a positive experience at a restaurant, let them know they are doing a great job. When I have a great meal and the staff is accommodating to my needs, I tell them. Let’s keep this going and hopefully someday we will see plant based foods as mainstream menu items.

See you in the kitchen (or restaurant) 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