Avocado Air Fryer Spring Rolls Oil Free and Vegan

Have you tried those yummy yet very greasy avocado egg rolls at your favorite happy hour lately? We often order the Avocado Egg Rolls at Kona Grill and I absolutely love them. But, they’re fried and probably not plant based. My version is crispy and crunchy and made without any oil!

I’ve had a lot of success making other versions of air fryer spring rolls, as you will find in one of my previous posts.   I thought it was time to play around in my kitchen and make a copycat version. Here’s my healthy take on this restaurant snack without the added oil. These are also completely plant based and vegan.

Avocado Air Fryer Spring Rolls

  • Servings: Makes 12
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Ingredients:

Directions:

In a medium skillet, heat about 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and then add the broccoli slaw and saute until softened. Add salt and pepper to taste and then set the slaw aside. On a flat work surface ( I like to use these), lay out one egg roll wrapper with the point facing towards you. Start with a slice of avocado, and then add a little bit of each ingredient to the center of the wrapper. Try not to overstuff—it takes a little trial and error! Take the bottom corner and fold over to cover the filling. With a small pastry brush, moisten the reamining edges with a little water and then fold in the sides and gently roll away from you. Once all of your spring rolls are finished, you are ready to air fry!

Set your air fryer to 370 degrees. I placed 4 rolls in the basket at a time and cooked for 4 minutes and then turned and continued for 4-6 minutes. Everyone’s air fryer works differently, so I recommend checking every couple minutes. You want a nice browned and crispy shell for that awesome crunch!

Serve with the sweet chili garlic sauce or whatever sauce you like!

I am often asked what brand of air fryer I use. I have a Krups air fryer that I purchased last year. It has served me well this past year, but I think I’m ready for an upgrade. I’ve been researching some of the newer versions and I am interested in the new Ninja  Foodie Air Fryer . So, perhaps i can snag a new one on Black Friday this year!

This recipe makes 12 spring rolls and they can easily be reheated the next day in your air fryer or in the oven.  They make a fantastic appetizer or even a side dish. It’s a great way to get a serving of veggies (broccoli slaw) as well as a healthy dose of fat with the avocado. When you serve these to your friends and family, be prepared for rave reviews. They are always a hit at my house, and I want you to give them a try.

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Tag me in your photo on Instagram or send me a comment after you make these. I know you’re going to be a fan!

See you in the kitchen soon!

Heidi

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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

“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

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

 

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

Chocolate Chip Banana Snack Bars

Why do I always end up with a bunch of (ripe at the same time) bananas? Seriously, I pretty much eat a banana every morning, but it never fails that no matter how many I buy, there are always the last few in the bunch that are too ripe to eat by the end of the week! Which brings me to today’s kitchen project.

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I know that my last couple of blog posts have been sweets, and I really wanted to try something else, but these ripening (as we speak) bananas on my counter were just calling out to be turned into something delicious.

I opened up the pantry and looked at what I had to work with and here’s what’s cooking today:  Chocolate Chip Banana Snack Bars. I made them oil free, dairy free, and gluten free (if you choose to use gluten free oats).

But first, a quick word about the chocolate chips. I have always bought the Enjoy Life Brand of dairy free chocolate chips. They are very good, but also on the pricey side; typically $5.99 for a bag.  I found these at Walmart in the Jewish food aisle and they’re only $2.74 for the same size. They are dairy free, vegan and kosher. That’s definitely a win-win for me!dscn0213-e1537392448848.jpg

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 C. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 C. almond butter, softened
  • 1 C. oat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 C. rolled oats (gluten free if preferred)
  • 2/3 C.  dairy free chocolate chips

I combined the bananas, applesauce, maple syrup and almond butter in a small bowl and stirred to combine well.  In a large bowl, I whisked the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry and stirred well to combine. Next, I mixed in the whole oats and the chocolate chips.  Once well mixed, I poured the batter into a parchment paper-lined 8 inch square pan. I placed the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. They should have a nice golden brown color.

 

 

I’m hoping that these freeze well. I think my daughter will enjoy these when we visit her next month at school.

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If you’ve got some spotty bananas on your kitchen counter, give these a try. You will not be disappointed. They are chewy, chocolatey and healthy, too. And we all know that’s a really good thing!

See you next time in the kitchen!

Heidi

An Homage to Apple Cookie Cake

NEW AND IMPROVED-UPDATED RECIPE FOR 2020

I decided to update this classic recipe to reflect my commitment to eating a whole foods, plant based diet and eliminating processed and refined sugars. In order to do that, I changed the sugar ingredient to date paste.

Date paste is quite simple to make. I typically make a batch about once a week. All you need to do is combine one cup of pitted medjool dates with one cup of warm water and blend in a high speed blender. If your dates are on the firmer side, it’s always a good idea to soak them first. You can use the date paste one for one in measurement for any sweetener like sugar or maple syrup. Blended date paste will last in the fridge in a sealed jar for about a week.

Next Sunday night marks the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah holiday. In my family, aside from worrying about what everyone will be wearing to Temple, it is all about the food. Growing up in my house, no Jewish New Year was complete without my mom’s Apple Cookie Cake. I’m not certain it was her original recipe, but she gave me a handwritten copy of it many years ago and I have used it so often that it has food stains from dripping batter and eggs. My favorite part of the recipe is “You can make a streusel topping as it looks nice” Honestly, I don’t even know how to do that!

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My mom’s handwritten recipe complete with food stains!

This year, as I continue with my plant based lifestyle, I am challenged to re-create the famous apple cake and hope that it becomes a new tradition in my home.  Instead of the cup of oil and 4 eggs, I used egg replacer and unsweetened applesauce. My mom is a fabulous cook, and she taught me many of my skills. I still cannot compete with her Thanksgiving stuffing or master the famous cranberry Jello mold!

Here’s my recipe:

Apple Cookie Cake

  • Servings: Makes one 9-inch square cake
  • Print

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/2  t. cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 C. date paste
  • 3 T. unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • equivalent of 1 egg  (I used Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer: 1T mixed with 2T water)

Other: 3 C. chopped, peeled apples (I used honey crisp)

I first mixed the egg replacer and set it aside to thicken. I then used an electric hand mixer to blend the applesauce and date paste. The applesauce replaces the oil in the original recipe. I then added all the other wet ingredients and mixed well. Next, add in all the dry ingredients and combine. Lastly, stir in the chopped apples. Pour into a 9 inch square baking pan.

Your oven should be preheated to 350. I used the convection bake setting on my oven and it was done (golden brown) in 30 minutes.

The verdict? My husband and I patiently waited for the cake to cool enough to taste and we both agreed that it is just as delicious as the original. Apple Cookie Cake Redux for the plant based holiday table!

Give it a try and let me know what you think. 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”

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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