Trendy, Healthy + Cheap AF : Cauliflower

Keto, Paleo, Gluten- Free, Grain-Free, Vegan… no matter how you market it cauliflower has become the “IT ingredient” in the health world. Its versatility for sweet / savory meals and ability to transform into just about anything has landed this cruciferous veggie on the top of everyones grocery list. You could say it the chameleon of all things healthy.

Transformation is not this veggies’ only superpower:

  1. Improves natural detoxification, it contains antioxidants and sulfur-containing nutrients that improve detoxifying enzymes.

  2. Contains choline, the B vitamin responsible for brain function that may help prevent memory loss and protect your brain form toxins!

  3. Improves gut health by protecting the intestinal lining from bacteria overgrowth due to it’s production of sulforaphane.

  4. Sulforaphane has also been found to improve blood pressure and kidney function.

  5. Cauliflower is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and Folate.

From pizza to buffalo wings, cauliflower has infiltrated the most famous food groups. But before you go and grab the pre-made options I thought it was important to address some cheap AF recipes that pack a punch.

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Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower

  • Olive Oil

  • Salt

  • Food Processor (you can also use a cheese grater or blender)

Instructions

  1. Cut cauliflower down into smaller pieces. Place in food processor and pulse until broken down into rice-sized pieces.

  2. In a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil add riced cauliflower and salt. Saute until cauliflower is cooked through.

  3. Leave it simple or add in additional herbs, spices to elevate your rice to the next level. I love adding curry powder, coconut milk and chickpeas for a 5 minute curry fix.

Ready to break it down?! Making your own cauliflower rice yields 18oz of cauliflower rice and only costs $2.69.

Store bought will run you $2.10 for 10oz of cauliflower rice. So on the ounce you are saving $0.06 which gives you a little more rice for your buck.


Cauliflower Bagels

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Now these bagels are far from the New York style classics but a great alternative and tasty in their own right. Not to mention 1 mini bagel is only 30 calories and 2g of protein!

Ingredients

Yields 10 mini bagels

  • 3 cups cauliflower rice, about 1/2 head

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 3 Tbsp brown rice flour

  • 2 Tbsp coconut Flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning (or mix poppy seed, sesame seed, minced garlic, onion powder)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Cut cauliflower down into smaller pieces. Place in food processor and pulse until broken down into rice- sized pieces.

  3. Measure 3 cups of cauliflower rice and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add in flours, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine.

  4. In a small bowl crack and beat eggs. Add to cauliflower mixture, mix until well incorporated.

  5. On a parchment lined sheet tray or mini doughnut pan, scoop about 3 tbsp cauliflower mix on to cooking surface. If making free formed bagels, form the cauliflower mix into a ball then make an indent in the center pulling it out slightly to make a classic bagel hole.

  6. Sprinkle the bagels with the Everything Seasoning, lightly pat into the bagel to ensure that it sticks.

  7. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the bagels are golden brown around the edges.

  8. Allow to cool, top with your favorite bagel toppings like cream cheese, lox or avocado!

Our bagels without toppings costs us : $2.74 for 10 bagels which only $0.27 per mini bagel!!!!

  • 1/2 head Cauliflower $1.34

  • Eggs $0.60

  • Brown Rice Flour $0.15

  • Coconut Flour $0.30

  • Everything Seasoning $0.50 ($7.69 for the whole bottle)

Adapted from Clean & Delicious 


Cauliflower Oatmeal

I am not going to sugar coat it, this does not taste like oatmeal BUT if you are looking for a lower calories, grain-free, low carb alternative in the mornings this is a great option. The cauliflower is able to take on whatever flavors you put into it so load it up with your favorite protein powder and toppings to make it extra delicious. Trust me, I was skeptical before I tried it but I was pleasantly surprised in the end.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup cauliflower rice, about 1/4 head

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla almond milk, but coconut milk would give it a luxurious texture)

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp coconut oil

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (depending on preference)

  • 1 scoop protein powder (optional, I used a vanilla protein powder for extra flavor)

  • Toppings : coconut flakes, fruit, nut butter, hemp seeds… get creative!

Instructions

  1. Cut cauliflower down into smaller pieces. Place in food processor and pulse until broken down into rice-sized pieces.

  2. In a small sauce pan heat coconut oil and add cauliflower rice. Saute for 1- 2 minutes to soften.

  3. Add in non-dairy milk of choice. On medium heat let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until the raw flavor of the cauliflower is cooked out. (If you have larger pieces of cauliflower rice this may take a few more minutes.)

  4. Add in desired flavorings, maple syrup, cinnamon, protein powder and chia seeds. Stir to combine.

  5. Allow to cook on low for 1 more minute. Mixture should be thick resembling grits or polenta.

  6. Pour into a bowl and add all of the toppings!

This cauliflower oatmeal base will run you $1.37!

  • 1/4 head cauliflower $0.67

  • 1 cup Almond milk $0.45

  • 1 tbsp Chia seeds $0.20

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon $0.05

  • The key to this breakfast is toppings… and who doesn’t like toppings?! The ‘oatmeal’ base is only 60 calories (w/ chia seeds) which in my opinion means you can go a little crazy with the goods ;)


Cauliflower Alfredo

Velvety, rich and luxurious Alfredo sauce lightened up without losing all of the creamy goodness. I am telling you… this is a real guilt-free swap. This sauce is also a great vegan béchamel base for any dish like lasagna, spinach dip or white pizza.

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Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 head of cauliflower, steamed

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in boiling water for at least 20 minutes

  • 1/2 yellow onion

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk

  • 1 1/2 tbsp tamari

  • 1/2 tbsp miso

  • 2- 3 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)

  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • Roasted Vegetables ( Trying to bring in spring vibes, I roasted scallions, asparagus and peas to top my pasta )

  • Gluten-free Pasta ( I went with Banza Shells )

Instructions

  1. Cut cauliflower down into smaller pieces. Place large sauce pan with 2 inches of water. Cover, bring to a boil and allow to steam until fork tender.

  2. Meanwhile, dice onion and garlic. Saute with olive oil until onions are translucent.

  3. Add mustard seed, nutmeg, nutritional yeast and miso. Stir and cook until spices are fragrant.

  4. Add in non-dairy milk and tamari over low heat. Allow to come to a simmer and remove from heat.

  5. In a blender or food processor, combine steamed cauliflower, soaked cashews and onion mixture. Blend until smooth, season with salt and lemon juice.

  6. Boil the pasta, and roast veggies of your choice.

  7. In a saute pan add pasta, veggies and sauce, toss to coat and serve it up!

Your new favorite vegan sauce will only cost you $6.75 which is only $1.68 per serving!

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  • 1 head cauliflower $2.67

  • 1/2 cup cashews $0.99

  • 1/2 yellow onion $0.40

  • 3 cloves garlic $0.30

  • 1 tbsp olive oil $0.15

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk $0.22

  • 1 1/2 tbsp tamari $0.22

  • 1/2 tbsp miso $0.40

  • 2- 3 tbsp lemon juice (to taste) $0.60

  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed $0.10

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg $0.10

  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast $0.60

Adapted from Oh She Glows


Although I am a fan of the homemade staples, I have to be honest … there are some companies out there who are making great options when it comes to the prepared goods. But I must warn you, if you follow particular dietary restriction please READ THE INGREDIENTS, many cauliflower products contain dairy, eggs or lard as a binding agent so keep an eye out if these are things you try to avoid.

  • Cauliflower Gnocchi - I am sure there is no shock here but if you haven’t tried Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi it is cheap, simple to make and always delicious. You could even throw my Cauliflower Alfredo on top ;)

  • Cauliflower Pizza Crust - Cauliflower lends itself to be a great pizza crust. It is sturdy enough to hold up to toppings without sacrificing flavor. When you need a quick fix reach for this option by CauliPower.

  • Cauliflower Rice - Versatility is king when it comes to cauliflower rice, due to its mild flavor it pairs well with just about everything. I like to use it as a base for robust flavors like curry or tabbouleh. Kitchen & Love is creating delicious cauliflower ready-to-eat bowls with unique flavor combinations that are great on the go.


Trendy, Healthy + Cheap AF : Kitchari

Ready for the next must try trend that you can make easily and cheaply at home?! Well, Kitchari [kich-uh-ree] one of those dishes that you can never quite pronounce, but always ready for more. Kitchari is an ancient ayurvedic recipe that has gained popularity with the trends of detoxing, gut health and anti-inflammatory diets.

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Some have sworn this dish has reversed gut health, digestive problems and removing toxins from the body. Let’s see how these simple ingredients can really make these changes.

The Ayurvedic Diet - it is an ancient diet that is centered around food as medicine. The practice is designed around three ‘body types’ (or doshas), which each have their own set of food guidelines to follow. There is Vata, Pitta and Kapha. [ Find your own Dosha and learn more with this quiz ]. In theory each of the doshas require a different set of nutrients to perform at the optimal level and achieve balance. However, Kitchari is said to be ‘tri-doshic” which means it is a whole and balancing food for every person!

The winning combination of rice and lentils creates a complete protein when eaten together. Providing all of the amino acids your body needs to perform optimally aiding in stabilizing blood sugar, energy and mental clarity. Kitchari is known to improve your ‘agni’, which is known as your digestive fire. Your agni determines how you digest and absorb nutrients. An imbalanced agni can result in an accumulation of toxins and malnourishment. Adding Kitchari to your diet can help restore the balance in your gut and improve absorption.

Once proper absorption is achieved, toxins are unable to penetrate the blood stream and can be easily removed and eliminated by the body. And lucky you, this dish packs 15g of fiber per serving, so those toxins will be eliminated in no time!

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Kitchari can be used as a detox, similar to a juice fast, consuming kitchari for each meal throughout the day. Following this detox for up to a week allows your gut to fully reset and turn into a nutrient absorption machine. Or simply add kitchari into a healthy routine and add a serving or two to your week, for a mid week balance.

Ok ok you get it, its good for you, its protein and fiber packed and delicious. So without further ado here is another trendy, healthy and cheap AF recipe to add to your recipe book.


Kitchari

What you need:

  • Sauce pot

  • 1 c Yellow Lentils or Red Lentils

  • 1/2 c Brown Rice or White Basmati Rice

  • 4 c Vegetable Stock or Water

  • 2 tsp Cumin *

  • 2 1/2 tsp Turmeric

  • 1 tsp Fennel seed *

  • 1 tsp Coriander *

  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

  • 1 tsp mustard seed *

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

* These spices can be whole or ground, if you are trying to stay on the cheap side reach for ground I won’t tell!

Instructions:

In the sauce pot add 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat, add all spices and allow to cook until fragrant.

  1. Add in rice, lentils and stock.

  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, until all of the water has been absorbed and lentils are cooked through.

  3. Serve immediately or cool and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Pro tip: Serve it up with wilted greens or steamed vegetables to give you an extra boost of nutrients

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Our homemade kitchari cost: $4.70 for 4 servings!

  • Yellow Lentils or Red Lentils $1.00

  • Brown Rice or White Basmati Rice $0.50

  • Vegetable Stock or Water $2.00

  • Cumin $0.15

  • Turmeric $0.15

  • Fennel seed $0.10

  • Coriander $0.10

  • Fresh Ginger $0.20

  • Mustard seed $0.10

  • Olive Oil $0.30

Ok, I’ll let you go to the grocery and get started on this detoxifying recipe.

Squashing Chili Standards

Wow, how is it October over already?!

With the turn of a new month that means the experimentation for the best vegan chili must come to an end. This challenge has not only cleared my sinuses but helped me understand the heart of a good chili.

Before I took on this challenge, chili was just an excuse to empty my pantry with a sprinkle of chili powder. Now, I understand the difference between bases, stocks and found a method to accomplish that ideal umami flavor every bowl. Sure it takes a little more effort, but homemade stocks and chili pastes are worth the effort.

I began this challenge on the premise of 5 rules for an ideal chili. After my testing, it is time to rewrite the rules so that you can create the best fail-proof vegan chili every time.

4 Rules for the Best Vegan Chili

  1. Stock is boss. Homemade vegetable stock will add umami that is usually missing in a store bought veg stock. Check out the two stock recipes I stand by here and here. In a rush? Fortify your store bought stock with dried shitake mushrooms, miso and toasted walnuts. Allow to boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes. strain and use.

  2. Chile paste or bust. Making your own chile paste allows for your to control the heat and flavor profiles of your chili. Chili paste allows for depth of flavor in your chili, as the various chilis hit your tastebuds you will get heat, smoke and char that can mimic the “meaty“ profiles of traditional chili.

  3. Beans, beans the magical fruit. Beans add body, creaminess and texture to your chili. This enhances the heartiness of the dish without interfering with flavor. Make sure your beans are sturdy and never overcooked. *If using canned beans make sure to add them in last so that they do not break down.

  4. Minimal tomato. Tomatoes add a slight sweetness to your chili base, enhancing the flavors of the chilies. However, I suggest stick to the paste, canned diced tomatoes can add too much water to your base interfering with the umami of your stock.


Without further ado below is the fourth and final vegan chili of this October Chili Challenge. I have combined my favorite components of the previous chilis - like rich chocolate, thick chile forward base and meaty jackfruit - into a full bodied and hearty chili.

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Butternut Squash and Jackfruit Chili

Yields 6-8 servings

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  • 6 ancho chilies, rehydrated

  • 2 monita chilies, rehydrated

  • 2 jalapenos

  • 6 oz tomato paste

  • 1 large yellow onion, small dice

  • 1 cup carrots, small dice

  • 1 cup celery, small dice

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cup butternut squash, about 1 large squash, ½ inch dice

  • 1 green bell pepper, ½ inch dice

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • ½ tsp ground ginger

  • 1 can jackfruit

  • 2 cans beans, I used black beans and red kidney beans

  • 3 oz dark chocolate

  • 5 cups Brown Stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Place jalapenos on a sheet tray and roast for 15 minutes, until tender and starting to slit out of the skin.

2. Soak dried chilies in boiling water, for 30 minutes, until rehydrated and pliable.

3. Drain and rinse jackfruit, place into a small bowl and shred into bite size pieces. Toss in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika and salt. Place onto a sheet tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.

4. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil and add diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic and salt. Sauté until vegetables are tender and onions are translucent.

5. Add cumin, oregano, paprika and ginger. Allow to toast for about 2 minutes until fragrant.

6. Add diced butternut squash and bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium, to avoid burning,  allow to sauté for 10 minutes.

7. In a medium bowl or blender add tomato paste, jalepenos, chiles and ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed.

8. Add the chile mixture to the soup pot stirring to combine.

9. Add 4-5 cups of brown stock. Allow mix to cook on low until butternut squash is cooked through 10- 15 minutes.

10. Add in roasted jackfruit, drained beans and dark chocolate. Stir to combine.

11. Simmer for at least 10- 20 minutes for flavors to melt together.

12. Serve it up! Top it with diced avocado, red onion and cilantro.  





Natural Products Expo West 2018

This past month I was lucky enough to visit the Natural Products Expo in California, aka my heaven on earth. For those of you who do not know, the Natural Products Expo is the largest annual trade show (both on the east and west coast) in the natural, organic and health product industry. The exhibitor list has a wide range of companies, offering natural, organic or alternative diet supportive products in the food, beverage, supplement and beauty industry. 

For the past four years I have gone to the Natural Expo to explore the upcoming trends and new product launches from both new and familiar brands. After walking, and snacking, down the aisles of the expo I have consolidated my findings in a small trend report. The report highlights the major flavor, ingredient and allergy trends that will impact consumers in 2018. Take a look at the slideshow below to explore the trends thats that will be hitting your shelves this year.


 

Decoding Sunchokes

It is time to change up your go-to potato side dish and welcome this nutrient dense tuber to your plate. Decadent, earthy and nutty sunchokes will elevate your taste buds while providing necessary micronutrients that you may be missing.

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Sunchokes are a tuber, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, from the sunflower family. It is made up of fiber, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Sunchokes contain high amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, including inulin. Inulin is a soluble fiber that doubles as a prebiotic, improving overall gut health, immune function and regulating cholesterol.

These delicious tubers contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin E acting as free-radical fighting antioxidants. The B Vitamins Thiamine and Niacin are also found in sunchokes. Thaimine aids the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach improving protein digestion, while niacin improves the appearance and health for your eyes, hair and skin.  

In addition to a high vitamin content, sunchokes contain electrolytes and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, iron and copper. Sunchokes provide 9% of your daily value (DV) of potassium, which improves blood pressure by reversing the effects of sodium. As well as, copper (11% DV) and iron (28% DV) which promotes red blood cell formation improving oxygen distribution throughout the body.

Not only are sunchokes nutrient superstars they are versatile in the kitchen. Whether you roast, steam, mash or enjoy raw this unique tuber is sure to impress.

Try out this easy Roasted Sunchoke and Macadamia Nut Gremolata, with the help of Mauna Loa’s Roasted Macadamia Nuts. The buttery, decadent flavor from the nuts are a perfect pairing for this veggie dish.


Roasted Sunchokes with Macadamia Nut Gremolata

Serves 4

 

Gremolata

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  • ½ cup Mauna Loa Roasted Chopped Macadamia Nuts
  • 2 lemons, zested and chopped
  • 2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Vegetables

  • 1 lb sun chokes
  • 1/8 tsp ground thyme
  • Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut sun chokes into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces. In a medium bowl, toss with olive oil, ground thyme and salt.
  3. Place on a lined sheet tray and roast in the oven for 30- 40 minutes. Until tender and slightly caramelized.
  4. While the sun chokes are roasting, in a medium bowl combine the chopped macadamia nuts, parsley, zest and garlic in a bowl. Stream in olive oil and finish with salt to taste. Set aside.
  5. Once sun chokes are cooked, place in a serving dish or plate and top with the gremolata. 

Recreating the Classics with Pipcorn

You know the saying, “The original is always better,” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well Pipcorn heard those cliché sayings and tossed them out the window. They have taken something we all know and love, popcorn, and recreated it to provide us with a unique snacking experience.

In the spirit of Pipcorn, I decided to overhaul a few classics myself. So what am I talking about?! Think Peanut Butter and Jelly… the perfect combination of sweet, salty goodness that oozes from the crust as you take a bite. It’s one of those quick and easy combinations that you know will get you through your lunch break and feeling like a kid on the playground. Although this classic for both grown-ups and kids alike isn’t going out of style anytime soon, I thought we could turn it up a notch. My PB+J Popcorn highlights the creamy peanut butter taste with bursts of fruit from dried berries. Its simple, easy and oh so addicting.   

Sweet tooth, ✔️.

Now, let’s move into something more savory. You know the two ingredients sandwich that you ate as a kid, after playing in the snow with a steamy bowl of tomato soup? Nothing says a you’re loved, like a crispy, buttery, cheesy, gooey grilled cheese sandwich. With the gourmet grilled cheeseries out there stepping up their game on the classic, I thought, why not?! Truffle Pipcorn was the inspiration I needed for my Truffled Grilled Cheese… combined with caramelized onions and melted provolone this grilled cheese will be your ticket to the clean plate club.

I know, I know I’m messing with the greats but its time to hone your inner kid and break the rules just a little. Go ahead, test them out and let me know what you think!


PB+J Popcorn

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine Sea Salt Pipcorn and dried berries
  2. In a small sauce pan combine sugar and agave. Over medium heat bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Quickly add peanut butter and stir until fully combined.
  4. Pour over the popcorn mix and toss until fully covered. (Careful its hot! Use tongs and spoons to mix it up.)
  5. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet to cool
  6. Warning these may not last more than 2 minutes ;)

recipe adapted from The Kitchen


Truffled Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of your favorite sprouted wheat bread
  • 2 pieces Daiya provolone or cheese of your choice
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Truffle Pipcorn
  • 1 tbs coconut oil or butter of your choice

Directions

  1. Heat a sauce pan, add oil and sliced onions over medium heat.
  2. Cook slowly until golden brown and caramelized, set aside.
  3. On one half of bread place one piece of provolone, top with caramelized onions and Pipcorn
  4. Top with second slice of cheese and bread.
  5. Smear a butter on the top piece of bread. Place on heated skillet, cook for 1 minute until golden brown and flip.
  6. Cook until cheese is just melted and serve immediately. 

Chickpea is the New Black

Classic, transformable and the perfect choice for any occasion, chickpeas are the little black dress of the legumes. Just as New Yorkers have deemed black the fashion staple that slims your figure, while providing just enough edge to be worn day and night. Chickpeas have mastered the same sex appeal. Now don’t get ahead of yourselves, I am not saying lets all go rogue and cover ourselves in chickpeas BUT I think it is about time we fully appreciated the versatility of the protein and fiber packed bean. 

A chickpea is so much more than a substance to be blended into a creamy, delicious hummus. The chickpea has a unique consistency that makes it the perfect ingredient to roast, fry, mash, bake and even turn into meringue! 

The Skinny

Like all beans and legumes chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are packed with protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates are the perfect addition to your diet. In fact only 1 cup of chickpeas provides half of your daily recommended fiber and 15 grams of cholesterol- free plant based protein. 

The boost of protein and fiber will have your GI tract groovin’. The fiber found in chickpeas is primarily insoluble fiber, which means it is not broken down during digestion helping your gut move the excess waste more easily and quickly. The remaining soluble fiber found in chickpeas is broken down by the bacteria in the colon to be digested into extra energy stores for the surrounding cells, improving colon health and decreasing the risk of colon cancer.

The high concentration of fiber and protein in chickpeas guarantees that you’ll be satisfied and nourished for whatever you day has in store.

Dress it Down

Chickpeas don’t require any accessories to make it delicious. you can simply eat them straight out of the can or boil them at home with an assortment of your favorite aromatics to reach full flavor potential. Simply toss them into a salad, side dish or alone. I am loving this Buddha Bowl by Minimalist Baker, its the perfect way to pump up your protein routine. 

Looking for a little more crunch? Toss your the chicks with a touch of oil and your favorite spices and roast them at 350 degrees until light golden brown and start munching. 

 

 

Dress it Up

Just like a good hair day, sometimes you need to cook up a little something special to add some va va voom to your plate. And chickpeas can do just the trick. Transform your beans into veggie burgers packed with your favorite spices and vegetables, bake them into falafel or a delicious creamy chickpea salad. Test out a few of my favorites like chickpea gyros, smashed chickpea salad and falafel!

 

The Show Stopper

So we have covered the obvious ways to add chickpeas to your daily routine without losing their identity. But we all have those days when we need to pull out the LBD that will slay like Beyonce. Luckily the chickpea holds the power to make Sasha Fierce weak at the knees.

Aquafaba is the newest vegan trend that is revolutionizing vegan baking. Aquafaba, refers to the soaking liquid from the chickpeas, either homemade or canned. The starches and proteins left in the liquid after soaking provide enough structure that it can be WHIPPED like egg whites! The whipped aquafaba is perfect for meringue, macarons, cakes or even mayonnaise! I have to admit I was a skeptic. Thinking, “even if this does work, it is going to taste like beans.”  But boy was I wrong! When I tested the classic meringue they came out light, fluffy and delicious. I did notice aquafaba is slightly more temperamental to work with than egg whites, but an awesome dairy free substitution. Check out these berry pavlovas!

But the transformation does not stop there, chickpeas can be ground into a delicious gluten free flour that can be added to quick breads, cookies, cakes, pancakes, waffles, you name it! The flour has a sturdy texture and nutty flavor that adds body to gluten free baking. However, using 100% chickpea flour can make your sweets taste chalky, so make sure to cut the chickpea flour with another flour such as rice or oat flour. For a savory twist check out these Farinatas or go classic with this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. 

Don’t take my word for it. Take the #FreshChallenge and explore the versatility of chickpeas without losing your unique sense of style. Share your recipes photos and thoughts on social @TheFreshSlice. 

Pip Pip Hooray!

Walking through any grocery store you can tell the popcorn scene is well... poppin. But I am not talking about the microwavable double movie theater butter popcorn or the sugar ridden caramel corn, the new kids on the block are popping corn with a little less guilt and a whole lot of flavor. 

With so many options on the shelves it is hard to distinguish which colorful bag is going to satisfy your late night cravings, that is until I discovered PipCorn. The crunchy, salty, and slightly sweet stuff has got me hooked for a delicious anytime snack. From beautiful packaging to miniature popcorn kernels, they are bringing a new twist to the popcorn craze. 

ALTHOUGH I have been known to take down a whole bag of PipCorn on my own, I love how easy it is to incorporate in to various recipes. The smaller kernels make the popcorn easier to work with in both sweet and savory recipes. Below are a few ideas to keep your snack drawer full and your taste buds happy. 

 

Truffle Rosemary Trail Mix

Yield about 3 cups

  • 1 cup raw almonds 
  • 1 cup raw walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup Raw Peeled Tigernuts 
  • 1-2 cups Truffle Pipcorn
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp truffle salt or truffle oil 
  • zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  1. In a small sauce pan melt the coconut oil
  2. Add rosemary and cumin to oil, cook until fragrant
  3. Remove from heat stir in raw nuts, tiger nuts and salt (if using truffle oil add at this point.)
  4. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes until nuts are lightly toasted
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool. while nuts are still warm, sprinkle with lemon zest and truffle salt 
  6. Toss with Truffle Pipcorn 
  7. Garnish with rosemary leaves and enjoy! 
 

Vegan Popped Cherry Cookies

Yeild 18 large cookies

  • 1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water ) 
  • 1/2 cup earth balance butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, place in 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup water for at least 10 minutes and drain
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup Pipcorn Kettle Corn (or Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. In a small bowl combine flax + water, set aside for at least 10 minutes
  2. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream earth balance and sugars together until well incorporated and light in color
  3. Add vanilla, flax egg and to butter mixture. Beat until smooth
  4. In a small bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture
  5. Fold the cherries, chocolate chips and Popcorn Kettle Corn into the batter
  6. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes
  7. Once chilled, scoop the cookies using an ice cream scoop or heaping tbsp measure 
  8. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12- 15 minutes
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, to ensure the cookie is set and dig in

 

 

 

Monthly Myth Buster

Vegan Misconceptions

#6 “A Vegan Diet is a Weight Loss Diet”

With so many diet fads on the market promising weight loss and improved body function, it is easy to see how veganism gets wrapped up in the trendy, marketing miscommunications. With its ties to many ethical, political, environmental beliefs, allergies and nutritional opinions, being vegan is a ‘lifestyle plan’ not a ‘weight loss plan’.

It’s true that following a diet that is low in processed foods and high in plant-based, unprocessed and fresh foods may result in weight loss as your body reaches a state of nutritional balance. But lets get our facts straight. Simply swapping out your pantry items for products labeled ‘vegan’ will inevitably lead to eating faux meats and other processed - but vegan - foods, which could actually cause weight gain!

As with anything else in life, making changes to your diet isn’t necessarily easy. Beginning a more natural diet can be time consuming and inconvenient, especially for those who would rather use their oven as extra closet space ( you know who you are) . Food manufacturers know that the average person perceives eating whole, unprocessed foods as “inconvenient”, which is exactly where they saw an opportunity to create products that mimic flavors, textures that you can’t necessarily find in whole foods. With the help of a little marketing and social trends the ‘vegan’ label was quickly deemed healthy, trendy and natural. (I know what your thinking and you’re right, this same miscommunication is happening across the board from fat-free to paleo and gluten-free, but we’ll leave that conversation for another day.) In fact, did you know that Oreos, Lay’s potato chips, Bacon Bites and Fritos are all technically ‘vegan’? However, I’d be shocked if you included any of those products as part of a weight loss plan.

Thanks to the array of processed vegan foods on grocery store shelves, consumers are more focused on eating “guilt-free” with vegan mac & “cheese” or vegan doughnuts because they think it is a healthier option. But the reality is imitation cheese, egg-less pasta and dairy-free fried dough will still add calories, sugar and simple carbohydrates to your diet, all of which will sabotage your weight-loss goals.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many companies out there who are dedicated to providing delicious products made from few and quality ingredients. As consumers we must pay attention to the ingredients that are in the processed foods we buy and keep in mind our reason for purchasing the product. If you are looking to improve your diet or lose weight don’t ‘go vegan’ because marketing and labels deem it a healthier option. Instead, focus on a diet based on unprocessed, whole foods.

Here are just a few brands to look out for next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to buy natural, whole plant-based foods that are still seemingly convenient.

Mint- Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Busy schedules, late night cravings and chocoholic-ism has lead to stuffing my face with foods that make me feel sluggish and... well gross the past few weeks. 

Working in a profession kitchen leads to awkward hours, late nights and little time to make sure you are eating full nutritious meals every day. Instead you are left mindlessly munching on this or that throughout the night, never sitting down to enjoy what you are eating and most likely missing key nutrients. I quickly felt myself getting exhausted, grumpy and sick. 

In my searches on ways to supplement the vital nutrients I have been missing, I stumbled upon HUM Nutrition. From the bright packaging to wholesome, natural and vegan ingredients I decided to give it a try. I started with the basics like probiotics, vitamin D and B12 plus fun combinations for hair + nail health and a weight-loss booster and you could say I am more than satisfied. Since starting my HUM regimen I have started to get control of my crazy schedule and fuel my body. 

My newest HUM obsession is their new Raw Beauty superfood powder. Its an all in one boost of superfoods like spirulina, ginger, chlorella, wheat grass, flax, goji berry, matcha (and SO much more) all wrapped together with the delicious flavors of mint-chocolate. The powder is delicious to add to smoothies, 'nice' cream or just shaken with almond milk. BUT I decided to give into my sweet and indulgent side and turn it into a luscious vegan chocolate sauce. The sauce is perfect for dipping, pouring or spooning ;) 

MINT- CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

yield : 1/2 cup sauce

1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk 

6 dates, pitted 

2 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla extract 

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty powder

  1. In a blender, combine almond milk, chia seeds and dates until smooth. 
  2. Strain mixture into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until thickened (about 5- 10 minutes). 
  3. Whisk in cocoa powder, HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty and vanilla until well incorporated. 
  4. Remove from heat and dip, pour or smear. 

The Fresh Challenge : Hemp

For this month's Fresh Challenge sit back, grab a spot on the couch and pack a bowl... of HEMP seeds! 

Hemp is a all around plant- based power house of nutrients that can be added to smoothies, salads, baked goods and well... just about anything! 

Protein Hit - Hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving. The protein found in hemp is a complete protein and easily digestible! 

Fiber Fire - Add more fire to your belly. These little seeds are full of fiber to aid your gut health and digestion. The standard diet is lacking in this nutrient as we chips in snacks instead of fruits and vegetables, but hemp can help swing the pendulum in a better direction. 

Omega-3 Good-Good - Protect your heart and improve your brain function with a daily dose of Omega- 3 fatty acids. Adding omega- 3's to your day helps reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. 

The best part about this challenge? Hemp is easy to find anywhere these days from raw hemp hearts to milks you can take the challenge out of this Fresh Challenge. Just in case you need more direction when the munchies kick in, here are a few of my blazin picks. 

 

 

 

The Fresh Challenge : Maca

It’s that time of month again… to add something new to your diet and rev-up your healthy 2016. Just in time for Valentine’s Day we are showcasing Maca for its vitamin-packed, libido enhancing and energy boosting qualities.

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Maca is a root native to Peru, also known as “Peruvian Ginseng”. Maca is most commonly found as a powder in grocery stores and health food stores, making it an easy addition to your daily routine. It is important to buy organic maca powder to avoid fillers or imposters - my go-to brands are Sunfood, Navitas and Vega.

Now let’s talk about the benefits of Maca…

  1. It’s potent in vitamin B, C and E, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. All of which are essential minerals if you follow a plant-based diet.

  2. A natural love potion, maca has been found to increase libido and endurance, especially in men. While maintaining an even hormone balance and improving fertility in women.

  3. This superfood can improve energy and stamina levels throughout the day.

  4. It improves mental clarity and focus as it reduces mood imbalances such as depression, anxiety or mood swings.

  5. So long to PMS! Maca can reduce irritability, cramps and hot flashes caused by menstruation and menopause.

Added Bonus: The hormone balancing properties found in maca have shown a positive effect on reducing hormonal acne and improving skin tone! How about that for positive vibes?!

Need some ideas about how to incorporate maca into your day? From energy bars to smoothies to ice cream - there’s no shortage of ways to fit this into your daily diet. 

In the spirit of Valentine's Day I have an easy recipe that is perfect as a dessert to share or to show yourself a little love.

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Maca Dark Chocolate Bark:

12 oz dark chocolate       1/3 cup dried cherries

1 tbsp coconut oil            1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

1 tbsp maca powder        1/4 cups cocoa nibs

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped    

1 tsp sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt 8 oz of the chocolate. < If using a microwave melt in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted >

  2. Once melted, add in remaining chocolate, coconut oil and maca powder. Stir until fully melted and smooth. 

  3. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat

  4. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared surface and spread into an even layer using a spatula. You want your bark about 1/4 inch thick. 

  5. Top with the dried cherries, almonds, coconut, cocoa nibs and salt to evenly cover the surface. Let on the counter to harden but if you just can't wait to take a bite, pop it in the fridge for 15- 20 minutes. 

  6. Once the chocolate has set, break it apart and enjoy! 

NOTE: Too much maca can add a slightly chalky taste to your food so take it easy. A little goes a long way with this superfood, only one tablespoon a day is recommended. IN FACT, it is important to build up your tolerance of Maca due to its potency. If you are new to the product start with ½  a teaspoon and work your way up to a full tablespoon over time.

 

Monthly Myth Buster

Welcome to The Fresh Slice’s Monthly Myth Buster series where each month we will highlight a food related myth that has been plaguing our plates and cook up an understandable solution to the problem. This is a place for you to finally get the truth about what you are eating.

What food questions do you want answered once and for all? Share with me in the comments below or submit your question HERE. Soon enough, you’ll see your question answered in a future Myth Bust post!

VEGAN MISCONCEPTIONS: Part 1

vegan label

I’ve heard it all… “I could never be vegan.” “How do you live without cheese?!” “NO animal protein, NO WAY!”

Trust me I get it, removing two large food groups from your diet is no easy feat. BUT it’s also not as painful, famishing, cult-like or tasteless as many assume. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, which is why I am here to expose the biggest vegan misconceptions.

 

#1. “All vegans are apart of an EXCLUSIVE environmental, animal- loving, hippie cult.”

Vegans get a bad rap for being environmental extremists who judge everyone who consumes meat. Although it is true we love the environment and animals (let’s be honest… who doesn’t?), there is not a vegan pledge of allegiance that forces us to shun and shame those who choose a different diet. People decide to become vegan for various reasons such as, health, allergies, intolerances, toxic imbalances or environmental concerns.

Let’s turn the table… have you ever been out to eat with family, friends or strangers and been questioned for an hour about your decision to order a turkey club sandwich or 20 oz steak? Well, ordering a salad without cheese or veggie burger will have your guests asking questions like; “where is your protein?,  aren’t you hungry?,  you know, not eating meat won’t stop the industry.” To be vegan should not be a political check box or a stereotype created to shame people for reading a nutrition label before purchasing a product. The vegan community is about creating and sharing delicious, health-supportive food that will benefit you as well as the environmental community around you.  

So drop your forks and eliminate the stereotype that all vegans are drinking the same (unrefined sugar-free) kool-aid. No judgment, just food and awareness.  


#2. “So you only eat salad?”

Bowls full of fresh greens, veggies and nut cheeses? I don’t see the problem but for those of you who can’t stand the thought of eating salads daily don’t worry, following a vegan diet doesn’t mean you need to trade in your slice of pizza and Chinese take out.

Stop focusing on what you CAN’T eat and focus on the what you CAN eat. Luckily, there are still four more food groups you can enjoy including grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables. Due to the endless ways to cook and enjoy these basic food groups I am going to start from the beginning and offer suggestions for a typical day + my grocery picks when I need to get out of the kitchen.

Breakfast Options

Lunch Options

  • Vegetable Chili
  • Hummus and grilled vegetable sandwich
  • Vegetable sushi (Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s always have great options)
  • Bean burrito with guacamole (vegan burritos or burrito bowls at Chipotle are always delicious)

Dinner Options

  • Vegetable and tofu stir-fry
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce ( Get more out of your pasta with Tolerant Foods bean based vegan, gluten free noodles)
  • Veggie burger with all the fixings (My go to patty choices? Hot Dang, Dr. Praegers) 

Dessert Options

Snack Options

 

Not drooling? Check out my Pinterest feed for more inspiration and try something new, you may surprise yourself.

Look out for next month’s Myth Buster, I’ll be diving into the misconception of protein in our diets and more. 

Why Culinary School?

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Before I break into the nitty gritty, it is important to understand the driving force that led me to culinary school and The Natural Gourmet Institute. Food has been a source of energy, inspiration and love throughout my life. I grew up in a large Mid-western family whose idea of holiday traditions and celebrations was nothing shy of an all-you-can-eat buffet. I quickly learned my way around the kitchen by watching and spending time with my mom and aunts and learned how to handle a grill by watching my dad. These family and food-filled gatherings were a place of laughter, love and happiness. Understanding at a young age that food brought people together, inspired me.

My desire to test my creativity in the kitchen escalated as I entered high school. It all began when I decided to bake cupcakes, cakes and cookies to surprise my friends on their birthdays but very quickly grew into something more. I found myself straying away from cookbooks and coming up with my own recipes – ones I would sneak into the kitchen late at night to test out – instead of sitting in my room studying.

By the end of my senior year, I was torn between applying to college or pastry school. After countless hours of research and debates – internally and with my family, I decided to put my passion on the back burner and head to San Diego for college. While in school, I further defined and redefined my passion for cooking, baking and the food industry. I sought out internship opportunities at small to medium sized companies within the industry. Over the course of my college career, I interned for DairyChem, Chuao Chocolatier, Beach Bum Foods, Yelp!, a food-marketing agency Sterling Rice Group, and The Patachou Foundation. Each experience was amazing and taught me more about food, health and food culture than I knew possible.

Beyond my internships, my relationship with food continued to change as I struggled with my weight and began experiencing digestive health problems. I started researching nutrition and alternative cooking methods in order to improve my health. I tried everything from juice cleanses to gluten free, vegan and raw diets. All of which would make me feel great for a few days, until the weekend came and I’d binge on cocktails and late night grub with my friends. After beating myself up week in and week out, disappointed with my semi-conscious decisions and the way it made me feel, I decided to make a lifestyle change that would enhance my life. I came to peace with the idea that health is a balancing act of eating to fuel your body and your soul. For me, that means following a primarily vegan diet full of vitamins, proteins and healthy fats, while maintaining an open mind to alternative diets, new foods and various ways to think about nutrition. As a result, I have cleared my mind, loosened my waistline and amplified my drive to step into the food industry.

Before I knew it college graduation was around the corner… missing the kitchen and hungry to learn more about the foundation of the culinary world I decided to apply to a culinary school. However, I needed a school that shared my passion and outlook on food as a source of nutrition and healing. The Natural Gourmet Institute is a primarily plant based school (in NYC), focused on teaching the fundamentals of culinary technique, nutrition and sustainability to enrich the culinary landscape and change the way we think about food.

I created The Fresh Slice as a way to share my experiences, knowledge and recipes with others. So follow along on Instagram at @TheFreshSlice and check back here for even more insight and inspiration. But most importantly, I’d love to hear from you – so feel free to ask me questions and share your experiences in the comments below or on my Contact page, but most of all bon appetite!