Vegan Zucchini Energy Bites

bites1As I was perusing Pinterest for ways to use up the abundance of zucchini we got with our CSA share this summer, I saw this recipe “No-Bake Zucchini Bread Granola Bites” by Dara of the blog Cookin’ Canuck (http://www.cookincanuck.com/2013/08/no-bake-zucchini-bread-granola-bites-recipe-gluten-free-vegan/). I didn’t have all of the ingredients listed, but I made do with what I had around the house & BOY did these turn out FAN-FREAKING-TASTICALLY. They’re small, but they sure fill you up & give you some great energy for a low carb count. Not to mention it makes a large batch that will last in your fridge for over a week! I like to have 2 or 3 with a piece of fruit for breakfast & I’m set for the day.

I used Skippy Super Chunk peanut butter, hemp seeds, and a mix of yellow and green zucchini for my version, but use whatever you’ve got on hand, as usual 😉 If you don’t want to waste the zucchini liquid, you could drain them over a jar/Tupperware & save it to use in a soup, smoothie, etc.

Vegan Zucchini Energy BitesSnip20151027_10

Yield: 25 bites, about 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup of oats
  • 1/3 cup sunflower kernels
  • 1 Tbsp hemp or chai seeds
  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup (packed) grated zucchini

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together oats, kernels, & seeds.
  2. Stir in the peanut butter, syrup, & cinnamon until well combined. I found that using my hands was the easiest way to combine everything evenly.
  3. Squeeze handfuls of grated zucchini over the sink to drain out the excess liquid.
  4. Add zucchini into the oat mixture until well combined.
  5. Using 1 – 1.5 Tbsp. of the mixture for each, form bite-sized balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. TIP- if you spray your hands with cooking oil first, the batter won’t stick to you as much!
  6. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
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Magnificent Mango Salsa

mangosals1I’ve always had trouble with fruit. The textures in fruit just don’t sit right with me & I’m always concerned on the hit or miss with flavor. Will it be sweet? Will it be sour? Why did this berry taste WAY different from the last one I pulled out of the same container? Needless to say, the only fruits I’ve consumed in the last almost 20 years were always bananas, apples, and grapes. For me these were the most consistent fruits in both taste and, especially, texture. I would sometimes eat other fruits in smoothies or pies where I could obliterate their texture or drown them in sugar, but for the most part my fruit intake was very limited.

Thanks to a wonderful vegan friend from college, this summer I realized that there are others out there like me who avoid certain foods for a variety of reasons (see Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder). It’s usually associated with children & most people seem to grow out of it as they age, but I did not.

Rather than avoiding fruit like the plague for the rest of my life, this summer I finally decided that I need to step out of my comfort zone and play around with fruit more. In the last few months, I’ve fallen (hard) for mangoes. I found mango to be very sweet & somewhat slimy, but my immediate thought was: I need to make mango salsa!

So, without further adieu, here is my very simple mango salsa recipe! I used Tapatio for the hot sauce & pre-made lime juice, but use whatever you have on hand. Yields 4 servings with 75% of your daily vitamin C each. Obviously fresh, organic, and local ingredients are the absolute best.

Ingredients:Snip20151027_7

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, give it a few stirs to combine.
  2. Enjoy!

Baked Yams & Onions

Another recipe from Ten Talents cookbook (buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Talents-Cookbook-NL_yamonionRosalie-Hurd/dp/0615255973/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428510969&sr=8-1&keywords=Ten+Talents). I used canned candied yams instead of fresh yams/sweet potatoes because I had some on hand. If you’re using fresh yams/sweet potatoes be sure to cook them first, then move on when they’re cool enough to handle.

This recipe yields about 4 servings.

Baked Yams & OnionsIMG_0965

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of candied yams (or 1-2 yams/sweet potatoes, cooked)
  • 1 Cup sautéed onions
  • Salt to taste
  • Parsley and/or chives for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Chop cooked/canned yams & combine with onions in a non-stick baking dish
  3. Season with a pinch of salt & bake for 30 mins or until lightly browned
  4. Garnish with parsley or chives (I used both)

Lemon Pepper Green Beans

NL_lempeppgreenOh, Pinterest, how I love thee so… Yet another Pinterest snag from: http://serendipityandspice.com/sautee-green-beans/#_a5y_p=1106900. I used frozen green beans for this one because I had an abundance, but the recipe would work fine with fresh ones, too. I also subbed in seasoning salt for Mrs. Dash. Again, easy & delicious; that’s how we do it around here! This recipe yields 6 servings.

Lemon Pepper Green Beans

IMG_1040

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of frozen green beans (or fresh take about 10 minutes longer)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. lemon pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning salt

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet
  2. Add green beans, sprinkle with spices.
  3. Cook for about 10 minutes or until green beans get to desired softness.

5-Star Sautéed Carrots

IMG_0888To quote my best friend, “This is probably the best dish you make.” I’m taking that as a compliment that these are super good, rather than saying my other dishes are sub-par. In all seriousness though, these are probably the most delicious & easy way to prepare carrots that I’ve found. I make them at least weekly & my best friend requests that I make them every time we have dinner together. Not to mention I brought them to Easter & they were all gobbled up there too!

The seasoning that I usually use for them is Kirkland’s Signature “Rustic Tuscan Seasoning.” It’s a blend of roasted garlic, bell peppers, rosemary, basil, oregano, sea salt, black pepper, green onion & lemon. You could probably get similar results from adding those ingredients in one by one, but the pre-made spice mix is just so much simpler. Plus they sell it in large quantities, so it’ll last you forever! I have a 13.5 oz container that I’ve had almost 3 years & it’s finally on the last fourth. It’s a good spice to use on any vegetable, but I especially like it in mashed potatoes & on these carrots.

Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Kirkland-Signature-Seasoning-13-5-oz-plastic/dp/B00649KLRS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428507500&sr=8-1&keywords=rustic+tuscan+seasoning

If you aren’t able to get ahold of that seasoning, try using some of the spices you have on hand! I’ve used random combinations of seasoning salt, lemon pepper, dried oregano, rosemary, & garlic salt in the past & they’ve all turned out great as well. This recipe yields about four 1/2 cup servings.

5-Star Sautéed CarrotsNL_5star

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. Kirkland Signature Tuscan Seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan butter (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of water as needed

Directions:

  1. Heat a skillet to medium heat, melting butter in pan if using it
  2. Add chopped carrots, 1/4 cup of water & seasoning
  3. Cook carrots about 10 minutes or until they’ve reached desired tenderness, stirring occasionally & adding remaining water as needed to prevent sticking

Easy Vegan Pasta Salad

Sorry for the poor quality photo; we ate most of the salad before I remembered to snap a picture!
Sorry for the poor quality photo; we ate most of the salad before I remembered to snap a picture!

This recipe is so simple & delicious; definitely a must-have for BBQs & potlucks this summer! Another great find out of my Ten Talents cookbook (my #1 recommendation for plant-based recipes). The original recipe is called “Bow Tie Garden Pasta Salad,” but why limit yourself to one type of pasta? This recipe is verstile & I chose to use a tricolor rotini wheat-pasta, but use whatever pasta you have on hand! I do think that smaller pastas would probably work better than long ones – i.e. use rings, macaroni, bowties, penne over spaghetti, vermicelli, lasagna, etc. Also feel free to play around with the type of salad dressing & veggies you use.

I also added 1 cup of canned beans to the recipe to get some added protein in there for us plant-based eaters! Feel free to use any type that you like, I used organic salad beans which have a mixture of kidney, garbanzo &  pinto.

Easy Vegan Pasta SaladNL_easypastasalad

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. favorite pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cup of favorite canned beans
  • 1 cup bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, minced
  • Vegan Italian salad dressing to taste (I used Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing)

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions & drain
  2. Rinse with cold water & drain again
  3. In a large bowl combine pasta with remaining ingredients & toss gently to coat
  4. Cover & chill at least 2 hours

Yes, it’s really that simple!

Vegan Deviled “Eggs”

Finished & ready to serve Deviled "Eggs"!
Finished & ready to serve Deviled “Eggs”!

I have to admit it was QUITE the stressful journey to get these to work this past Easter Sunday. Of course, I waited until the morning before I needed them to make them so the fact that they weren’t working right away just added to the stress of my time crunch! Luckily, I figured it all out & now I’m delighted to share the recipe with you all!

I can’t vouch for how closely these resemble real deviled eggs in taste – because I’ve never actually had real deviled eggs – but I thought they were pretty darn good! I got a few of my relatives to try them out & they said they “weren’t bad,” but my family is not the most open minded when it comes to vegan food… My uncle, for instance, let me budge him in our buffet line so I could get my “rabbit food” out of the way.

Nonetheless, I think the texture turned out SPOT ON which was probably the most miraculous part of this recipe. The key to getting it perfect is the agar agar powder. If you’ve never used it before – like me – you’re in for a treat! Essentially, agar agar is made from algae & helps to make food more gelatinous (without using any animal products!). I was able to find some in the bulk section of my local health food co-op, but it’s also available on Amazon – though it’ll take forever to get it shipped to you in the US because most of it is sold from overseas.

I originally saw this recipe on Pinterest & knew it was something I wanted to try out at our family’s Easter gathering. I started by using this recipe: http://www.organicauthority.com/vegan-deviled-eggs-they-do-exist/ , but quickly ran into problems. I had blended the ingredients for the “egg whites” & they had been in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. I went to go pull them out so I could make the filling & put it in when lo and behold – they had not hardened at all! I quickly scanned through the comment section on the recipe page & found one lonely comment of a woman who’d made them & said that hers hadn’t hardened either… but she’d had hers in the fridge overnight! Whoever posted the recipe hadn’t even bothered to respond back. UGH!!!!

Needless to say, I needed to find another recipe! So I hopped back onto Pinterest and found this recipe: NL_devilegghttp://www.baked-in.com/2013/03/25/vegan-deviled-eggs/ . Essentially the differences in the recipe for the “egg whites” included adding more agar agar & boiling the mixture before pouring it into the molds. 30 minutes later, my “eggs” were firmed up in the fridge & ready for filling. OOFTA!

Once I got the right recipe, it was very simple to make. I did simplify it a little, however, by substituting in some kitchen staples for the fancier items it called for. I swapped table salt for kosher/sea salt & kala namak (black salt). I also swapped regular mustard for dijon & plain white vinegar for white wine vinegar.

This batch should make about 15 eggs at only 48 calories each for you to devour.

Let me know how this recipe works out for you.

Peace, love, & delicious appetizers!

-Chef Jamie Love

Vegan Deviled “Eggs”

Ingredients:

  • “Whites”
    • 2 cups unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
    • 2 tsp. agar agar powder
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    “Yolks”
    • ½ lb extra firm tofu
    • 2 Tbsp. vegan mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 2 tsp. mustard
    • 1 tsp. vinegar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • ½ tsp. turmeric
    • Freshly ground pepper to taste
    • Paprika, for garnish

Directions:

Hardened "whites" - spooned out & ready for filling.
Hardened “whites” – spooned out & ready for filling.
  1. Combine almond milk, agar agar, and salt in a small saucepan and whisk to combine.
  2. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat & pour into egg molds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow to set.
  3. Combine tofu, vegan mayo, oil, mustard, vinegar, salt, turmeric, and pepper in a blender. Blend 30 seconds or until smooth.
  4. Use a half-teaspoon or melon baller to scoop out a small circle from the inside of each egg half.
  5. Use a piping bag or spoon to fill each egg with yolk.
  6. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.