Date Paste

Dates are known as nature’s candy.  That is because they are naturally sweet.  Whenever I am craving something sweet, I eat a date.  They are especially good stuffed with a little peanut butter!  Since I have been eating SOS free lately, meaning no sugar, oil, or salt, I have been using date paste as a natural sweetener whenever I bake.  Since dates are a whole food, they are a much healthier alternative to processed sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pitted dates
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Soak dates in liquid overnight or for several hours until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  2. In a food processor, process dates and liquid until completely smooth.

I store the date paste in a mason jar in the freezer where it will last longer and since it doesn’t freeze solid, I can just take it out and use it as soon as I need it.

This recipe yields 2 cups.

I usually make date paste to add in baked goods, but sometimes I’ll spread some date paste on top of an apple.  It tastes like a caramel covered apple! Delicious!

Pad Thai Sauce

Being the peanut butter lover I am I knew I would love this sauce.  Add it to noodles and veggies and this was a dinner I could never get tired of.

I do not remember where I saw the original recipe.  I actually took bits and pieces of a few pad thai sauces I saw online to create my own to suit my own taste.  Here’s how I made my Pad Thai Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1.5 tbsp natural peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co.)
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl and mix with a fork until well combined.  (You may need to melt the peanut butter in the microwave for a few seconds first to help it mix with the other ingredients better.)
  2. Pour the sauce over rice or pasta, beans, and veggies.

I used this sauce over thin noodles with carrots, broccoli, and chickpeas.  This is such a great meal.  It has healthy fats, carbs, and veggies!

This entire sauce recipe yields approximately 140 calories and 4.5g protein.

Spirulina Avocado Sauce

I have been absolutely loving avocado!  I love the green color, I love the creaminess, I love the healthy fats, I love that it can be made in sweet and savory meals.

Today I have a recipe for a savory meal.  I had a 1/2 an avocado left and knew I wanted to use it as a sauce for pasta.  This morning I came across this recipe and it was perfect timing.  The recipe was a dressing that used avocado.  However, the recipe was for a salad dressing, but I was curious if I could turn it into a pasta sauce.  With a few changes to the original recipe, I think this sauce came out tasting fantastic and so good that I will definitely be making it again.

The only thing to know about this recipe is that it calls for Spirulina.  In case your not sure what spirulina is here’s a great resource of information.  Basically the website says that sprirulina is an algae that has been used since the 1970’s as a dietary supplement.  It contains vegetable proteins, all 22 essential amino acids, multi-vitamins, and minerals.  There are tons of health benefits that come with taking spirulina, which include:

  • Boosts the immune system
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Builds endurance
  • Cleanses the body
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Controls appetite
  • Helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular function
  • Supports the liver and kidneys
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Benefits people who suffer from allergies

Spirulina comes in powder form or tablet form.  I like the powder form because I usually add it to smoothies.  I love adding it to smoothies in the morning, because it really does give you a great burst of energy!

So getting back to the recipe, using spirulina may bring up two issues with this recipe:

  1. Spirulina is not a common household ingredient and it is expensive.  If you do not have spirulina and do not want to spend the money on it, you can leave it out of the recipe, but your sauce will not be as green or filled with as many nutrients.  However, if you want extra green color and some added nutrients, I’m sure you could add about 1/2-1 cup of spinach or kale.  If you are interested in trying spirulina, I order it online from iherb.  If you want to order some, or any other bulk ingredients, if you enter the code LWZ362 at checkout you can receive $10 off your first order if you spend more than $40 or you can receive $5 off your first order if you spend less than $40. 
  2. Spirulina is packed with nutrients and is best consumed in raw form, which means it is best in cold things like smoothies.  This means that if you like a hot pasta, this meal may not be best for you.  Trust me, you don’t want to heat spirulina, it turns brown and doesn’t even taste good after being heated.  If you want though, you can try to heat your pasta so the pasta itself is extremely hot, then stir in the cold sauce and you’ll end up with a warm/cool pasta.  If you love hot pasta, but are willing to try warm/cool instead of completely cold, this may be a good option for you.
So now that you have some options about using spirulina (or not) here is how I made my Spirulina Avocado Sauce which has been adapted from Choosing Raw.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 tsp spirulina
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Once your sauce is made you can add it to pasta, brown rice, spaghetti squash, etc and then add any other toppings you want.  I added chickpeas to my pasta dish!  I was in the mood for a really saucy dish so the noodles are basically hidden under the sauce.  I used the entire recipe for my noodles, but the sauce really serves 2-3 people.


This picture does not do the bright, green color of the sauce any justice.
It was a brilliant green color in person.

Based on using a small avocado, medium zucchini, and original Silk PureAlmond milk this entire recipe yields approximately 261 calories and 10g protein.

Cookie Dough Dip

Back when I used to eat dairy products and eggs, I was definitely guilty of eating cookie dough straight from the container.  The risk of salmonella?  Totally worth it in my eyes (I was young haha).  And when I got older and knew it was not a risk worth taking, well just a tiny bit of dough wouldn’t hurt, right?  Like maybe just a spoonful?  Or two?  Okay, maybe three, but that is definitely all.

Well, now that I no longer eat animal products, I do not have to worry about the risk of salmonella at all.  And the best part is I can still enjoy cookie dough!  While this recipe doesn’t taste exactly like cookie dough, it definitely resembles it and is much healthier than regular cookie dough.

This recipe was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co. Mighty Maple)
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp almond milk (or more)
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (or more)
Directions:
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except almond milk and chocolate chips and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust sugar to desired sweetness.
  3. Add 2 tbsp almond milk and reblend until smooth.  Add more almond milk, if needed, to reach desired consistency. (I found 2 tbsp to be the perfect amount.)
  4. With a spoon, stir in chocolate chips. 

I recommend using more coconut sugar if you want a sweeter cookie dough and maybe even increase the vanilla extract to 2 tsp.  You can also use brown sugar in place of the coconut sugar.

This cookie dough is great for dipping fruits.  It can also be used to spread on graham crackers, toast, or eaten right off the spoon! Keep this cookie dough stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

This recipe makes about 1.5 cups of Cookie Dough.
Based on using Goya Chickpeas, Peanut Butter & Co. Mighty Maple Peanut Butter, Coconut Sugar, original PureAlmond milk, and Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips: 2 tbsp yields approximately 90 calories and 4g protein.

Sage Gravy

Now that I have posted the recipes for my Homemade Tofurkey and Quinoa Sage Stuffing, all that is missing is the gravy.  Since the stuffing I used had sage in it, I thought this Sage Gravy would nicely complement the main dish of my Thanksgiving meal.

This recipe was adapted from Happy Herbivore.  I doubled the original recipe and used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Flour to keep the gravy gluten free, but whole wheat flour works as well.
Here’s how I made my gravy:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp rubbed sage
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • dash of paprika
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot and whisk together over high heat until the mixture is just about to boil.
  2. Remove pot from the hot burner and give it one last stir adjusting seasonings to your desired taste.

This gravy is so creamy and the nutritional yeast gives it an almost “cheesy” taste.  It is even a great gravy to use on top of vegetables.  I love how easy this gravy is to make and you only have to clean one pot after.  Since this recipe is so simple, I just might have to make this recipe more often and use it as a sauce over rice and vegetable bowls instead of using my typical marinara sauce or tamari to change it up a bit.

My other Thanksgiving 2012 Dishes:

Based on using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brown Rice Flour and original Silk PureAlmond Milk:
About 1/4 cup serving yields approximately 35 calories and 2.5g protein.

Cashew Tomato Sauce

This sauce is very fresh tasting and tastes great over regular cooked pasta or veggie noodles (spiralized veggies).  I used a julienne peeler to make my veggie noodles out of squash, zucchini and carrots.

The recipe for the sauce was adapted from here:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 30 minutes and drained)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1/2 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • ground black pepper, to taste
Directions:
  1. Combine the tomatoes, cashews, garlic, date, and wine vinegar in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Taste the sauce once it is smooth and add pepper and adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Serve over hot pasta or cold veggie noodles.
Veggie noodles before adding sauce.
Veggie noodles with sauce before stirring.
This sauce is best the day it is made.  I love how this sauce is extremely simple to make and only the blender needs to be cleaned afterwards.

Chile Lime Hummus

I had a lime that needed to get used and I thought it would make a great addition to a hummus dip.  I was unsure of what other flavorings to add so I decided to do a quick Google search and came across a recipe that sounded interesting.  It is a Chipotle Lime Hummus, but I didn’t have any chipotle seasonings so I adapted the recipe a bit and turned this hummus into Chile Lime Hummus.

This recipe is adapted from here:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5 drops Tabasco sauce
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp dried chile powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, Tabasco sauce, lime juice, chile powder, and water.
  2. Blend to form a puree, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. When a paste has formed, add the tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Blend until smooth and creamy and adjust seasonings if necessary.

So far I have enjoyed dipping veggies in this hummus and spreading the hummus on a corn tortilla with black beans and salsa to make a wrap.  Both ways were delicious.  This hummus would also be great to replace sauce for pizza, to top salads, or pretty much any other way you enjoy hummus!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I love the idea of Meatless Mondays.  Even though I never eat meat, it’s a great way for other people interested in decreasing the amount of meat they eat to have a devoted day of the week not to eat any meat.  As I was reading some blogs, I came across this cool Meatless Monday challenge

Better With Veggies

Since I never eat meat, I thought this might be a cool challenge to experiment with different foods.  Today began the challenge so of course the letter was A and A is for Artichokes.  Perfect! I love artichokes.  I decided to make this Spinach Artichoke dip I have been wanting to try out.

This recipe is adapted from Happy Herbivore:

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz fresh spinach (measure after cooking)
  • 1 can artichokes (in water)
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour (or whole wheat flour if you don’t need this to be gluten free)
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Fill a pan with a small amount of water and cook spinach until the leaves turn dark green (about 5 minutes).
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

I love how simple this recipe is.  I tried the dip with some chips and it was good.  Then I tried it with some carrots and I liked it even more.  I think this dip may also make a great filling in a corn tortilla with some chickpeas. Enjoy!

Next time I make this I’m going to add cannellini beans for more creaminess.  I’ll let you know how that goes as soon as I try it out!

Strawberry Chia Jam

I’ve been creating a lot of my own nut butters lately and even though I’m not as big of a jelly or jam fan, I knew I would love to try out a recipe anyway.  The thought of being able to use fresh fruit instead of canned (possibly with tons of added sugar) was inspiration enough.  I came across a recipe that sounded amazing and exactly what I was looking for (plus I had some strawberries that needed to be used up) so I made some jam and definitely will be making this again.

This recipe was adapted from here:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Blend strawberries in a food processor for about 10 seconds (just to roughly chop them unless you want more of a jelly consistency, then blend longer).
  2. Add chia seeds and mix with a spoon.
  3. Pour the mixture into a mason jar and put in the fridge to set for at least an hour before using.

You can even try making this jam with other fruits like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, or maybe even a mixture of fruits for a mixed berry jam!

This jam is good just on bread for breakfast, for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, on crackers, or any other way you would use store bought jam or jelly.

Nutella

I know I say this a lot, but Nutella is another food I really missed when I began a vegan diet.  I really don’t know why I never think of these things myself but when I came across homemade Nutella online, I added it to my list of must make foods and finally got around to making this amazing dip!

This recipe was adapted from here. I did make quite a few changes to my recipe below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons agave
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Roast hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes.
  2. After the hazelnuts are done roasting, gently rub off the skins from the hazelnuts with a towel. (They should come off easily.  It is okay if they do not all come off though.)
  3. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine until smooth and creamy.
  4. Store in a jar in the fridge.

This Nutella is amazing eaten on anything! Spread on bread, fruits, crackers, or just eaten right out of the jar off a spoon!