This Valentine’s Day I’m revisiting our favorite chocolate recipes! Resist the temptation to buy processed chocolate treats and try making some of these homemade chocolatey delights. What a fun way to say, “I love you!”
Many of us will begin the New Year with a few new resolutions. However, good intentions often get lost if we don’t know how to implement them. Eating healthier definitely requires a level of commitment and knowledge in the kitchen. If you have the right understanding and strategies, you will know exactly what goes into your food, and if you’re the head cook in your house, you can impact the health of others. Below are some tips and strategies, and if you need some extra help, check out my cookbooks (PlantPure Nation and PlantPure Kitchen) 1. Clean your refrigerator weekly Make sure to do this before you do your weekly grocery shopping. This is also the perfect time to discard outdated food, organize your space, and make room for new groceries. It also allows you to see what produce you already have that needs to be used within the next several days. 2. Make a meal plan Take 10-15 minutes to plan your meals each week. Factor in busy days when you know you’ll need an easy dish. Plan to use the food already in your refrigerator so nothing is wasted. If you have children, be sure to include them in this step. This helps them feel more involved and encourages them to try new foods. 3. Choose a few recipes that you can cook in larger quantities Casseroles, soups, and veggie burgers can be doubled easily. This will leave leftovers for lunches. Most recipes also freeze well and can be used later, when you don’t have time to cook. 4. Head to the grocery store with a list After you’ve created your menu for the week, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget the small items like soy sauce or lemon juice. Try not to shop when you’re hungry or you may end up with items you didn’t intend to buy! 5. Wash and pre-cut produce Although this isn’t necessary, washing and pre-cutting produce can make a big difference during a busy week. Some fresh produce doesn’t hold up well when it’s washed and cut ahead of time, but most do: sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, onions, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, green beans, leeks, and zucchini. 6. Have plenty of storage containers This lets you store and freeze as needed. Don’t forget to date and label your frozen items. 7. Prep before cooking Before starting a recipe, get out every ingredient and cooking tool you will need. This way, you don’t need to take multiple trips to the refrigerator and pantry while cooking. Have a large bowl available to discard produce waste during preparation: this saves multiple trips to the trash can. 8. Make a meal kit On days when you have little time to prepare a meal, it’s wonderful to know that you have ingredients and spices waiting for you, ready to be cooked and enjoyed. You can do this by putting all the ingredients for a recipe in a gallon-size zip-top bag or large storage container, with the spices in smaller bags or containers inside the larger on. Label the outside of each bag or container according to the recipe. Then, when you walk through the door on busy days, the most consuming part of meal prep will already be done. 9. Keep a running list Keep a whiteboard handy or an app on your smartphone to note ingredients you’ve run out of. Snap a picture with your phone for an easy list that never gets lost at the store. 10. Enjoy the experience Listen to music or podcasts, watch a cooking show, or chat with family while preparing meals. Snack on veggies and dip while you prep. Relax and have fun!
This chowder has the flavor of traditional creamy clam chowder. I use sushi nori sheets to get that sea flavor and mushrooms in place of clams. It's creamy and full of flavor, and the texture is perfect. Serves: 6-8 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Ingredients: 2 quarts and 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock, divided 1 onion, diced 3 leeks, washed well and white and green parts cut small 3 celery stalks, diced 1 carrot, diced 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 large yukon gold potatoes, medium diced 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 2 cups Cashew Cream 10 ounces button mushrooms, chopped (I have also used dried shitake mushrooms here too) 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 sushi nori sheets, torn into small pieces (kitchen shears work great) 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons vegan bacon bits, for garnish (optional) Directions: In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock and sauté the onion, leeks, celery, and carrot until tender. Add the red pepper flakes and cook briefly. Add the remaining 2 quarts vegetable stock and the potatoes, bringing them to a boil. Turn down the heat to a medium and cook the potatoes until tender. In a separate bowl, combine the water and flour and whisk until smooth. Add to the soup mixture. Add the Cashew Cream, mushrooms, lemon juice, nori pieces, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the flavors are well blended and the consistency is creamy. stirring frequently. Garnish with vegan bacon bits or smoked paprika. Cashew Cream This recipe is for a creamy, cashew-based milk than can be used in various dishes as a thickener and overall flavor enhancer. When traditional recipes call for heavy cream or a soy creamer, I like to use cashew cream. Use this cream sparingly, though, as it is a high-fat plant food. Ingredients: 1 cup raw cashews 2 cup water Directions: Place into a high-powered blender and blend until very smooth and creamy.
Thumbprint cookies are Santa’s favorite cookie in our house! We love to make these moist and nutty cookies with our favorite fillings: jam, chocolate chips, or peanut butter. Use your “thumb” and creativity and build fun and simple cookies that are sure to be a hit! Yields: 18-20 cookies Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes Ingredients: 2/3 cup fine almond flour 1 ¾ cup oat flour 2 tablespoons tapioca starch 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon sea salt ½ cup coconut sugar ¼ cup all-natural nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew) ½ cup unsweetened applesauce ½ cup finely ground walnuts (set aside for cookie coating) Filling: 1 cup of fruit or jam filling (you can also use vegan chocolate chips or all-natural peanut butter for the filling) Directions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat and set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the almond flour, oat flour, tapioca starch, baking powder and sea salt until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut sugar, nut butter, and applesauce until smooth and creamy. Add the wet mixture to the dry flour mixture and combine until well incorporated. Roll the dough into small golf ball sized balls. Roll each ball into the finely ground walnuts making sure to coat the entire cookie. Place the coated cookie balls onto a prepared cookie sheet. With your finger (or the handle of a large wooden spoon), poke deep indentations into each cookie. Fill each cookie with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until walnut coating begins to brown slightly. Remove the cookies from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.
This vibrant and colorful cranberry dressing is perfect for dressing up holiday salads. It's a simple and fun recipe that uses many of the plant-based staples, with the addition of colorful zesty cranberries. Throw it all in a blender and let the magic begin! Yields: 1 cup Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes Ingredients: 1 cup fresh cranberries 1/4 cup extra-firm tofu (about 2 ounces) 1 garlic clove 1 tablespoon white miso paste 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/4 cup water (add more if you prefer a thinner consistency) salt to taste Directions: Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This sweet quick bread is the perfect combination of sweet and zesty oranges with tart cranberries which makes it ideal for for the holidays! We love making mini loaves for special holiday gifts! Yields: 6-8 servings Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Ingredients: 1 tablespoon flax meal or chia seeds 3 tablespoons water 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 3/4 cup orange juice 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/4 cup pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries 1/2 cup chopped walnuts Directions: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the flax meal and water. Set aside for 8 to 10 minutes to thicken. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. In a separate bowl, combine the orange juice, applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, and thickened flax mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the cranberries and walnuts. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and place it on a cooking rack. Let it cool for 14-20 minutes before slicing. Hints: You can also make muffins using this recipe. Simply divide the batter evenly between 12 muffin cups and bake for 15-18 minutes or until they are completely golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Learning how to “veganize” a favorite traditional recipe is easy and fun once you know how to swap out the meat and dairy. Sometimes replacements can't be made, but most of the time, I am pleasantly surprised because there are so many options. I've learned a few tricks over the years and received advice from the pros, so here's a few to get you started. Replacing Oil and Butter: We don't use refined oils or vegan butters in our recipes because they are stripped of their nutrients and not considered by nutrition experts as health promoting. Plant fats in the form of a whole food, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives are nutrient dense and a good source of vitamins and minerals. You can get all the fats your body needs through eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. Here are some substitutions for oils/butter in your recipes: Vegetable broth: Choose a low sodium vegetable broth to sauté vegetables in place of oil. You can also use water if vegetable broth is not available. Nut butters: 100% all natural nut butters in cookies are a great fat replacer. Avocados: An avocado can be a butter replacement that will add natural fat and creaminess to just about anything. Bananas: Bananas are a perfect replacement in cookies or quick breads, but it will make your recipe taste like bananas! Prune puree: Try pitted prunes and a little bit of water in a food processor to create a thick puree. This is a great substitute for butter when baking. Applesauce: Unlike bananas, applesauce is a good replacement in cookies and quick bread because it doesn’t add a strong flavor. You can also try various baby food fruits as a replacement for butter as well. Replacing Meat: I recommend you stay away from “fake meat” products since they are highly processed, loaded with oils, and hard to digest. Here are some healthier meat substitutes. Tofu or Tempeh: These are nice additions, but you'll need to cook them in order to create a chewier texture. Marinate tofu or tempeh in your favorite sauce and bake them at 400°F until golden brown and dry to the touch. Butler Soy Curls®: Butler Soy Curls are made with only 100% non-GMO organic soybeans. They are sold dehydrated and require soaking before use. They're a chewy and fun addition to any dish. You can buy them directly from Butlerfoods.com or Amazon. Beans: Lentils and beans come in many sizes, and you can buy them both dried and canned. You can add them to a dish whole or slightly mashed. They definitely add a thicker, heartier consistency. Make sure you buy beans with no salt added. Mushrooms: There are many kinds of mushrooms that absorb flavor and add chewy texture to a dish. Shiitake Mushrooms are especially good as a meat substitute. Green Jackfruit: Green jackfruit can be bought in a can or fresh (great to use for vegan "Pulled Pork BBQ" recipes). Some stores sell it pre-marinated and prepared, which you may find it in the vegan specialty food section. It can also be found at most Asian grocery stores. Replacing Eggs: There are plenty of simple egg replacements that work beautifully when baking from traditional recipes such as cookies, cakes, and muffins. Here are a few of my favorite ones! The more plant-based recipes you build, the more creative you will become. I love to watch celebrity chefs create traditional recipes and then “veganize” their creations in my own kitchen. You will be amazed at how easy it is when you begin to use a few simple plant-based substitutions. Bon appetite!
It’s that time of year when traditions begin and people gather to cook, eat, and play together. Thanksgiving is a personal favorite of mine because I love comfort food and time with family! If you are just beginning your plant-based journey, you might feel overwhelmed with changing or altering your holiday menu. Remember, Thanksgiving doesn’t mean giving up the traditional favorites such as stuffing, winter squash, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes/gravy, corn, cranberry relish and more. Turkey need not be the center of this traditional meal; there is so much more to enjoy! Think outside that “turkey box” and try your favorite nut, bean, or lentil loaf. You can even stuff some portobello mushrooms or throw some shish kebabs on the grill! Our taste preferences and memories tend to link turkey to the holiday, but don’t be afraid to redefine that taste for traditional dishes into healthier options that everyone will enjoy. If you are looking to fill the “turkey” void you might consider a Tofurky or Tofu Rolls. You can usually find these options at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and/or a local health food market. While these foods aren’t exactly free of oils and processed foods, they are often a great option for people who are transitioning away from meats and animal-based foods during the holidays. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holiday: If you are preparing the Thanksgiving meal, there are many traditional recipes that you can prepare from our list below. You also can try veganizing your favorite traditional recipes. Replace the milk with a plant-based milk, try cashew cream instead of heavy creams, use flax meal and water as an egg replacer, and skip the oil and butter by sautéing and roasting using veggie broths, water, wine, or juice. Choose whole grain breads and flours, and rely on herbs, spices, and condiments for that added burst of flavor. If you are going to another home where they are not plant-based, you can bring a couple of hearty dishes of your own and eat around the turkey. There are usually plenty of healthier side options. Don’t gobble up your guests! When in mixed company, avoid getting into big discussions about your new dietary lifestyle. While a few people might find it interesting, most people are turned off and will simply avoid or confront you. Most of our friends and family want to enjoy their food and holiday without someone judging them. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, enjoy family and friends, and relax. A holiday is just one day or meal so if you fall off the plant-based wagon with unhealthy food choices, remember that our bodies do a pretty good job of self-correcting. Get back to your whole food plant-based lifestyle with the very next meal. Many of us throw in the towel when we feel failure, but it’s just one meal so jump right back in and give your body the fuel it needs for healing. Holiday Recipes: PUMPKIN APPLE PIE PARFAITS SWEET POTATO CHOCOLATE PUDDING PIE MARBLED PUMPKIN PIE BRUSSEL SPROUT SALAD NO BAKE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN PIE MUSHROOM GRAVY MARINATED CARROTS THANKSGIVING GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE HOLIDAY STUFFING CRANBERRY DATE RELISH HOLIDAY NUT LOAF CRANBERRY ORANGE ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS DATE NUT BREAD ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND KALE CAESAR SALAD
Everyone loves a traditional all-American cheesecake. This cake is delicate, beautiful, and delicious! The base is made with cashews but the structure comes from agar which is a unique plant-based gelatin derived from seaweed. We love to create this dessert during blueberry season, but feel free to try it any season of the year with frozen blueberries or any of your favorite berries! Yields: 8-10 servings Prep Time: 35-40 minutes Cook Time: 5-8 minutes Berry Jam: 1 ½ cups berries, fresh or frozen 2 tablespoons chia seeds 1 tablespoons maple syrup 1 tablespoon lemon juice Crust: 1 cup walnuts 1 cup oats ½ cup pitted dates ½ cup coconut flakes Pie Filling: 1 ½ cups raw cashews 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Pinch sea salt 2 teaspoons cornstarch 2 teaspoon agar powder (not flakes) 1 ½ cup coconut milk Juice and zest of ½ lemon 2 cups frozen berries Directions In a small sauce pan, add the berry jam ingredients and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until mixture becomes bubbly and berries begin to break down (you can use a fork or potato masher to break down the berries). Place the jam mixture into a small bowl and allow the mixture to cool and thicken. Set aside. In a food processor, combine the crust ingredients and process until you have a sticky consistency that holds together. Place the crust mixture into an 8-inch spring form pan lined with parchment paper. Press the mixture evenly around the bottom of the pan so it covers the entire pan. Set aside. In a high-speed blender, add the filling ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the filling mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously, for 3 more minutes. The mixture will become thick and bubbly. Make sure the mixture continues cooking for at least 2-3 minutes in order to fully cook the agar. Pour the filling mixture over the top of the prepared pie crust. Place the pie into the refrigerator for 1- 2 hours or until the pie has set. Remove the pie from the springform pan, slice, and garnish with a spoonful of berry jam.
Arepas are a staple in Latin America, and are especially popular in Colombia and Venezuela. They are a gluten-free corn griddle cake made from Masarepa which is a pre-cooked corn flour. They’re crispy on the outside and tender and slightly doughy on the inside. You can top these fun little cakes with beans, guacamole, or even salsa. You can also slice and stuff them with scrambled tofu, jackfruit, veggie taco fillings, or your favorite plant-based stuffing. Yields: 8-10 arepas Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 12-15 minutes Ingredients: 2 cups warm water ½ teaspoon sea salt (optional) 2 cups Masarepa flour (I use Harina PAN or Goya Masarepa. Do not confuse this with cornmeal or masa harina) Directions: To a large mixing bowl, add the water and sea salt. Stir to dissolve the salt. A little at a time, add the Masarepa flour and stir with a whisk or your hands. Work your way up to the two cups because you may not need to use the entire 2 cups. Your final dough will not stick to your hands and is moldable and moist (much like play dough). Once you have that consistency, allow it to rest for 8-10 minutes. Using your hands, scoop out fist-size portions of dough and roll into a ball. You can make these as big or small as you prefer. Carefully press each ball between the palms of your hands to form ½ inch thick discs. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Then add arepas and cook for 2-3 minutes or until a deep golden brown is achieved. Flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until browned. Transfer them to a pre-heated 375°F oven and bake for 15 minutes or until they are slightly more browned in color. Allow them to cool slightly and serve warm. Hints: Many mainstream grocery stores carry Masarepa flour (Harina PAN or Goya brand). It's important to note that Masarepa flour is different than masa harina which is used to make corn tortillas. Make sure you have the correct flour for arepas because it will make a significant difference in the final outcome of your arepas.
Arepas are a staple in Latin America, and are especially popular in Colombia and Venezuela. They are a gluten-free corn griddle cake made from Masarepa which is a pre-cooked corn flour. They’re crispy on the outside and tender and slightly doughy on the inside.
The special ingredient in this recipe is the sweet and tangy pomegranate molasses.