Strawberry Salsa

 

When I was developing this year’s Super Bowl Menu for my small household, I wanted to create something fun, unique and simple. Then I remembered that strawberry season was upon us. Because I live in Plant City, Florida- the Winter Strawberry capital of the world, I had to support my local strawberry growers. Hence, I purchased some lovely organic berries from Eco Farm.
 
Back to my recipe dilemma: So here I am starching my head trying to figure out what snacks to make that would somehow incorporate strawberries…then BAM! Like a lightning bolt, an idea came: Strawberry Salsa!
 
Yes folks, I said it: Strawberry Salsa!! You’ve GOT to trust me on this one! When you use fresh strawberries with lime and cilantro, the flavors marry beautifully. Similarly to using tomatoes, the incorporation of strawberries provides a nice tart bite with just the right amount of an acidic touch-an element that is essential to making fresh salsa. This recipe is not only simple to make, but dangerously delicious. So tasty that you MIGHT wind up eating the whole bowl in one sitting. Be warned…
 
 

Here’s the recipe:



Strawberry Salsa
Ingredients
 
  • 16 ounces of fresh strawberries
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 juice of one lime
  • 1/3 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Four green onions, coarsely chopped
  • A pinch of salt (1/4 tsp)

Directions:

 
  1. Coarsely chop the strawberries until they are roughly diced to about ½ inch-sized cubes. Set aside
  2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse about ten times with five seconds for each pulse. This will take about a minute or so. You will have a slightly chunky salsa consistency,
  3. Serve up with some tortilla chips, and enjoy! 🙂

4 servings

 
Nutrition information (per serving for salsa, only) 45g calories/ 1g protein/0.44g fat/11g carbs/ 2.7g fiber/ 0 WW Smart Points (Green, Purple and Blue pans)
 
 

 


Gooey Vegan Mozz Sauce

So if you know me, know that I am not a huge fan of most of the store-bought vegan cheeses available. Honestly, I think most of them taste like cardboard. My frustration and dissatisfaction with the current variety of store-bought vegan cheeses has driven me on a quest to perfect the art of making delicious & irresistibly homemade plant-based cheese! 


The desire brought me to this gooey cheese sauce recipe. I wanted to find something easy, quick and had the classic, cheesy mozzarella ‘pull’. This search led me to Sam Turnbull’s It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken recipe. The key behind her cheesy concoction was a generous portion of tapioca flour. Yes. Tapioca flour. Stick with me!! The starches and natural chemical composition provides properties that give things a sort -of elastic effect. If you want your plant-based cheese to have a classic cheese & melty ‘pull’, incorporating this magical flour will allow you to achieve this effect. 

Did I tell you that I absolutely love this recipe!?!?!? 

Now, now, now. I will say that while I was heavily inspired by Sam’s delicious recipe, I did make a couple tweaks of this dish, in order to make it my own. Here’s my adaptation of this crack-like sauce:

Gooey Vegan Mozz Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup soaked cashews (raw cashews are preferable, but I honestly think that soaked roasted cashews worked just as well)
  • 1 ⅓ cup of water (from the soaked cashews)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 3 roasted or boiled softened & unpeeled garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3.5 tbsp tapioca flour/ tapioca starch

Directions: 

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender, and blend for about 1-2 minutes until everything is well-blended and turns into a very liquid consistency. (optional) in leiu of having the cashews soak overnight, you can have them boiled on medium-high for 15 minutes, until they become easily softened. 

Transfer the liquid mixture into a small saucepan, and begin cooking this on medium high & stir frequently for about 5 minutes. You will gradually notice that the mixture begins to clump up and turn chunky. Continue mixing vigorously for about 1-2 minutes until the sauce begins to solidify and sauce begins to have a very stretchy, melty consistency. 

Turn stove off and remove sauce mixture from heat & allow to cool off for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy as a dip or on your favorite recipe involving gooey cheese! 🙂 

Makes approx. 8 servings

Nutrition Information:

70 calories/ 2.24 g protein/3.9 g fat/0.5g fiber


Vegan Piggies-in-a-Blanket


I recently hosted a vegan comfort-food potluck for my friends, and was trying to figure out what type of dishes to make. Then one recipe hit me: hot dogs! Yes! I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs at all, so you HAVE to stick with me here. Rather than just making hotdogs, I wanted to get a little more creative, and make pigs in a blanket, wrapped in really tasty croissants. I also wanted these ‘piggies’ to be cute, bit-sized portions.


Did I tell you that the hotdogs were actually carrots?!?! Yes, carrots. Bunny food. As I said, STICK WITH ME!! Carrots are a super versatile root, and when prepared right, can lend itself to a meaty texture and flavor. The seasoning mix and marinating technique are what gives the carrots its flavor and hot dog-like bite. They tasted incredible! So much so that my carrot-hating fiancé devoured these little bites. These tasted so close to the real deal that my vegetarian friend freaked out because she thought that she was actually eating meat.

But seriously, these little carrot piggies are absolutely delicious and will make the PERFECT finger food appetizer for your next birthday party. Kids will love eating these, as well! It’s a great way to incorporate more veggies into their diets.

Okay, okay. Enough talk, let’s get on to the recipe!
—–
Vegan piggies-in-a-blanket

Ingredients:
·         1 16 oz package of cut & peeled baby carrots
·         Two 8oz cans of crescent rolls

For the hot dog marinade:
·         ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
·         ¼ cup water
·         ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
·         1 tbs of yellow mustard or 1 tsp mustard powder
·         3 tbs of maple syrup
·         ½ tsp garlic powder
·         ½ tsp onion powder
·         1 tbs chili sauce
1     1 tsp liquid smoke
·         2 tbs cooking oil

Directions:

1.  Heat a pot of water on medium high to begin boiling. Place all the baby carrots in the pot and allow the boil for 10-15 minutes, until they are fork tender. Drain immediately and let sit in cold water to stop the cooking process.

2. To make marinade, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix until well-combined. Transfer marinade into a large enough air-tight container to fit in both the marinade and boiled carrots. Let sit in the fridge overnight or up to two days (the longer it sits in the fridge, the more flavor the carrots will have).

3. Take a large skillet and place on medium-high and let oil heat for about a minute. Once the carrot hotdogs are finished marinating, place the hotdog and marinade mixture together into skillet and let the carrots cook down for about 20-25 minutes, or until all the marinade evaporates. I let the carrots finish pan sautéing for about 3-5 minutes until they began to have a golden brown.

4. While the hotdogs and marinade mixture are cooking down, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, open the cans of croissants, and begin to separate each of the croissant slices. Cut each slice into thirds, enough for each carrot piggy. Lay ach of the mini croissant triangles onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I had so many that I used two baking sheets).

5. Take your cooked carrot hotdogs and gently roll them inside of each croissant triangle. Place them in the oven and allow them to cook for 15-20 minutes until the croissants begin to turn golden brown. Serve them with ketchup, mustard or your favorite condiments, and enjoy!

Okay. So the moment takes 16 servings (serving size: 3 piggies in a blanket)

Nutritional information:

116 calories/ 3.5g protein/3g fat/19g carbs/ 1.7g fiber
Have you made this? Did you alter this recipe in any way? Comment below!


Creamy + Tangy Cashew Ricotta Cheese



Since adopting a plant-based diet, I made the personal decision to eliminate dairy products. I’ve never been a fan of milk*, but cheese has been my life’s fuel.

However, as I have been trying to reverse my pre-diabetes, I knew that cutting dairy was one step I had to take to become a healthier human being. I also became detested by the horrorsof the Dairy Industry. With all that being said, I acknowledged that eliminating animal-based cheeses was something that I personally had to do.

But to be honest, as I have transitioned towards eating in a predominatly plant-based manner, I have not really been satisfied with any of the store-brought vegan cheese alternatives-most of them either taste like cardboard, are super processed, or are just too expansive. Hence, I became increasingly frustrated.

That combined frustration has driven me to begin the gradual process of making my own cheeses from scratch! Not only does that result in cutting out the processed junk, but is cheaper too! Creating homemade cheeses also gives me a greater appreciation and connection to the foods I’m consuming.

Let’s jump into the recipe!
Creamy + Tangy Cashew Ricotta Cheese

       Ingredients
·         1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
·         2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
·         1/8 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
·         2 cups raw cashews, soaked
·         1/3 cup reserved water from soaked cashews
·         3 tablespoons of lemon juice
·         2 garlic cloves, or ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder (depending on how garlicky you like your ricotta)
·         Dash of salt and black pepper
Directions:
1. Soaking the cashews: You can either let the cashews soak in cold water ahead of time, for at least an hour, by doing it overnight. IF YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT, you can always soak the cashews for about 15 minutes in boiling water. If this is the step you decide on, make sure to immediately drain the cashews (and reserve ½ cup of the water).

2. In a food processor, combine all of the listed ingredients, and let it pulse, blend for about 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture has the thick consistency and texture of ricotta cheese. You will want to check on the mixture periodically and scrape the sides of the processor a few times.

3. Serve and enjoy! Feel free to add this to whatever savory dish you like!

4. WARNING: This recipe is SO delicious, that you MIGHT just wind up eating this straight from the processor. You have been told.

Note: If you’d rather have a more neutral-flavored ricotta, feel free to do away with the garlic and onion, and black pepper. This way, you can add it to your favorite sweet dishes. You can also sub the olive oil for either a lighter oil, like light olive, grape seed, or avocado oil.

* When I mention milk in this post, I am referring to Dairy animal-based milk from cows, sheep, or goats.

10 servings

Nutritional information per serving:
201g calories/ 7g protein/15g fat/11.5g carbs/ 1.4g fiber
Have you made this? Did you alter this recipe in any way? Comment below!