Jerked Veggie Wraps

A delectable veggie wrap that’s jam-packed with a burst of spicy, delicious Caribbean-inspired flavor!

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to facilitate a cooking demonstration for the Second Annual Taste of Laura Street event, in Plant City, Florida. A Taste of Laura Street was hosted by The Improvement League of Plant City, CDC. As stated on Visit Tampa Bay “A Taste of Laura Street – Plant City is a reality food experience where participants can taste and judge samples of local cuisine while they enjoy the historical ambiance of the former Laura Street African American Business District adjacent to midtown. Awards will be presented for Best Entrée, Best Side, and Best Dessert Dish. There will also be a traveling art gallery exhibit, and live bands featuring jazz, and contemporary music. A Taste of Laura Street highlights the story of how economic development ignited and launch self-empowerment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood during the era spanning 1920 thru 1969.

Plant City Laura Street business district once thrived with restaurants, rooming houses (hotels), movie theaters, funeral homes, ice cream parlors and barbershops. The Bing Rooming House and Ms. Bing’s Seminole Restaurant anchored Laura Street aka “The Bottom” at the corner of South Allen and Laura Street. This is an opportunity to showcase one of Plant City’s most historic neighborhoods where residents can live, work, play and enjoy authentic heritage and character.”
Photo courtesy of the Plant City Observer
Let me take this moment to tell y’all that yesterday was poppin’. The food was incredible, the live music was beautiful, and the visual art on display was spectacular. The vibes were perfect: a welcoming, yet laid-back atmosphere.
The meal that I prepared during the cooking demo was a very delicious jerked veggie wrap.  One of the perks of this recipe is that there is ZERO added sugar, aside from the fruits listed in the ingredients. The main star of the dish is the cauliflower, as that veggie is flavor-neutral, and can absorb any seasoning. It’s also pretty low in carbs, as well! For those who have aversions to cauliflower, feel free to opt out of this ingredient, or replace with an alternative, such as mushroom, chicken, or anything else! For those with sensitivity to spicy flavors, feel free to do away with the pepper!  No worries.
Want to learn how to create this magic dish? Keep on reading!
Jerk Veggie Wraps!
Ingredients
·         Jerk Marinade:
o    1 lime
o    1 small onion, or ½ medium onion
o    6 cloves garlic
o    2 tsp. fresh thyme
o    1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (optional)
o    1.5 tbsp. fresh ginger
o    Juice of 1 large, ripened orange-or juice of 2 tangerines
o    1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
o    1 tsp. kosher salt
o    1 tsp. black pepper
o    1 tsp. allspice
o    ½ tsp. cinnamon & ½ tsp. nutmeg
o    3 tbsp. coconut oil
o    1/3 cup water
·         1 head of finely diced cauliflower
·         1/3 cup water
·         1 bell pepper
·         1 ripened plantain (optional)
·         1 Florida avocado (or hass), mashed
·         1 cup of fresh pineapple
·         1 cup Fresh spinach
·         Five 10”-wide whole wheat flour tortillas
·         3 tbsp. cooking oil (i.e. coconut)
Jerk Marinade Directions:
1.       Take all of the ingredients for the marinade, and place in a food processor. Let the mixture puree for about 1-2 minutes, or until the marinade has liquefied. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, and use within three days.

Jerk Vegetable wrap directions:
1.       Preheat skillet to medium-high for a few seconds. Gradually add 1/3 cup of water and diced cauliflower and bell pepper.

2.       Gradually add in the marinade, and raise the heat to medium-high, and continue to let the veggie mixture cook down for another 4-5 minutes until the excess liquid evaporates, and the cauliflower becomes fork-tender and lightly caramelized.

3.       (Optional) While cauliflower mixture is cooking, slice ripened plantain into ½” slices and then place in a preheated skillet set to medium with 3 tbsp. melted oil. Gently add plantain slices in heated oil, then turn the heat down to medium, and allow each side to cook for 1-2 minutes, and then turn over. Repeat process about 2 more times, but slightly lower heat and continue to cook until each slice is golden brown on each side. Keep an eye on the slices, or they will burn! Once slices are finished cooking, turn off skillet, and immediately remove them from heat, patting down with napkin.

4.       Once cauliflower and plantains are finished cooking, begin assembling wraps in the following recommended order: 1 tablespoon mashed avocado, 1/5 cup fresh spinach, 1 large spoonful of jerk veggie mixture, 2-3 plantain slices, then 1 tablespoon of pineapple slices. Close the wrap tightly. Optional step: Press on griddled skillet or Panini press for about 2 minutes on each side, until grill marks appear. Enjoy!

5 servings | Per serving: 464 calories/ 8.14g protein/27g fat/53.7g carbs/ 11.5g fiber per serving

Tangy Curried ‘Chick-un’ Salad Sandwich


Today is the epitome of a lazy Sunday. I honestly haven’t even felt like cooking. However, I did not feel like eating out, either (I’ve got a wedding to save for and bills to pay!!).

So what did I do? Look through my pantry to see what was readily available, and I found the following items staring at me: My loaf of bread, frozen spinach, and a can of hearts of palm. After trying to figure out how I could mesh these elements together, the A-HA moment hit me:

Folks…I present to you my version of a VERY tasty curried chick-un salad sandwich.

This was my first time making and EATING hearts of palm, and I was NOT disappointed. It has a mellow, yet slightly tangy flavor-which I absolutely love. The texture of the brined hearts of palm is meat-like, so it makes the perfect natural plant-based substitute for any recipe requiring white poultry (or even seafood) meat. The flavor of the plant is light mellow enough that it can really absorb whatever seasonings and spices you’d like. You can even rinse out the brine for a few minutes in cold water, if you want to make the flavor as neutral as possible. One of my favorite things about these hearts? They’re actually quite affordable and pretty easy to locate at most grocery stores.

This is also low in carbs!

Anyways, enough jibber-jabber. Let’s get on with the recipe!
Ingredients:
·         One 14oz can or jar of hearts of palm, drained & rinsed (and coarsely chopped)
·         1 tablespoon of yellow mustard topping
·         ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
·         2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
·         ½ teaspoon of paprika
·         ½ cup of fresh spinach leafs
·         1 tablespoon veganaise
·         1 teaspoon of curry seasoning
·         2 dates (chopped into fine pieces)
·         Vessels for your ‘chick-un’ salad.
Directions:
1. Take a skillet and preheat and add the olive oil to the skillet.

2. Once the skillet is warm enough, add all of the ingredients (except veganaise) together, and sauté on medium-high heat for about 7-10 minutes, until the hearts of palm (chick-un) mixture has some golden brown charring.

3. Once the chick-un mixture has finished sautéing, turn off skillet & remove from heat. After cooling off for about 2 minutes, add in the veganaise, and mix well. Serve over your favorite type of bread (or wrap/ or leafy green wrap!) and enjoy!!

Makes two hearty servings

Nutritional information per serving (without bread):
140g calories/ 7.6g protein/6.3g fat/18g carbs/ 7.6g fiber


Moroccan-Inspired Chili

 

 
The weather has been pretty cold for Florida’s standards. Because of that, I have been craving a nice & herty bowl of Chili to enjoy. Looking around my kithen and pantry, I found that I had enough ingredients and spices to give my chili a beautiful Moroccan flare! The marriage between the spices & the chickpeas intermingling with everything else creates a spicy and heavenly dance in the mouth.
 
The best way to describe Moroccan spices & flavors are that they have a diverse combination of sweet, spicy, earthy, & floral. Cinnamon is a common ingredient, but don’t let that scare you from adding it into your savory dishes! You will see how the combination of flavors and ingredients melts beautifully together.
 
This was also a surprisingly easy dish to prepare, and can actually be cooked in low in a crock pot ahead of time!
 
Ingredients:
 
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 small or medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 cup of diced broccoli (optional)
1 16 oz can of chickpeas, with liquid
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 package of  portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tbsp cooking oil & 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Once oven is preheated, massage sweet potato cubes with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, and then place on a singular layer in a baking sheet. Bake these in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until are lightly golden brown on the edges. Set aside.
 
2. While the sweet potato is baking, heat up a skillet on medium high and add the two tbsp. cooking oil. Once its hot enough, add the portabella mushroom pieces, bell peppers and onions, and let them cook for about 15 minutes, or until the onion turns translucent, and the mushrooms begin to have a light golden brown. Cook the portabella mixture covered for the first 4 minutes, then remove over to finish cooking.  
 
3. Add the portabella/onion mixture and the rest of the ingredients (except sweet potatoes) into a large pot, and mix everything until well combined. Cover and let this mixture simmer on medium for at least 25 minutes, until the veggies are tender, and the chili looks thickened.
4. Serve with the roasted sweet potatoes, and enjoy!!
 
Note: As previously mentioned, for fuller chili flavor, you can throw everything together (including sweet potatoes), and cook on low in a crock pot for about 3-4 hours. Either method you use is fine!
 
Servings: 4
 
Nutritional information per serving:
 
284g calories/ 14g protein/4g fat/53g carbs/ 13g fiber / 9 WW smart points (green plan)


Moroccan-Inspired Spice Blend


I love Moroccan cuisine. The flavors are really like none I’ve had elsewhere. The rich and nutty combination of cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and other spices will make you question why people ever settle to just add salt into their dishes. If you have never had Moroccan Cuisine, then I urge you to  explore some recipes!
I will be posting a recipe for my Moroccan-Inspired Chili dish, soon.

This Moroccan Spice blend is known as Ras El-Hanout. Mine DOES deviate from the traditional recipe blend, because I add garlic and did not have any cloves at-hand (Please don’t kill me, fellow Moroccan friends!!).

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Cumin
¼ tsp Ground Cayenne red pepper powder
1 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Black Pepper
Directions:
1. Blend all ingredients until well-combined. Store in an air-tight container in a dry area. Add spice mix to your dishes, and enjoy!