Truffle beet hummus

I recently hosted my first plant-based potluck of 2019, an event I’m hoping to do once a month with friends and family, and this truffle beet hummus was a hit.   The surprising trick to this hummus is the beet flavor is actually from organic beet powder (vs. roasted beets) so you can make this really quickly.  I’ve been pairing it with Simple Mills crackers – both w/ the Everything flavor and w/ the classic almond flour crackers.  For some added nutrition and flavor, I top it off with some micro-greens for a healthy and somewhat sophisticated snack.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  1. One can of organic garbanzo beans
  2. One garlic clove
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil
  4. 1/4 cup organic beetroot powder
  5. 2 tbpsn tahini
  6. A few squeezes of lemon
  7. 1 tbspn of truffle oil
  8. Himalayan sea salt

Directions:  

  1. Drain garbanzo beans and place in food processor.  Add ingredients 2-7 and pulse until you get to creamy consistency.  If it’s thicker than you like it, try adding 1/4 cup of water to get to desired creamy thickness.
  2. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and sea salt.  Optional: top with some micro-greens for a pop of extra color and flavor.

Creamy Basil Cashew Dip / Sauce

My husband has been growing some fresh basil in whisky barrel planters he made, and the abundant basil that was ready to use inspired this recipe.  I have made raw vegan cashew dips before, but almost always made either a classic garlic or red pepper version and this was my first time experimenting with an herb forward flavor profile.  The creamy cashew base + fresh & herbaceous basil complement each other beautifully.  This dip / sauce is very easy to make and can be used in so many ways — as a dip for veggies/ chips / crackers, as a pasta sauce on classic pasta or zoodles or even just eaten by the spoonful.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup of raw cashews
  2. 1 cup of fresh basil
  3. 1-2 garlic cloves (1 if large, 2 if smaller or if you like more garlic flavor in general)
  4. 1/4 cup olive oil
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (I used Foods Alive version since it is totally soy free)
  7. Himalayan Sea Salt – adjust amount to your liking.  I add about 5 generous sprinkles to start and then adjust as I taste.

Directions: 

  1. Soak the cashews in a bowl of water for at least 2 hours
  2. Once the cashews are soaked, drain the water and add the cashews to the food processor followed by all the ingredients.  Process until smooth and creamy.  Play around until you get the flavor to your desired liking: If you’d like it to be even more creamy, slowly add a bit more oil and / or water.  If you’d like it to be even more ‘cheesy’ add some more nutritional yeast.
  3. Suggested optional toppings:
    • Sprinkle some hemp seeds
    • Add a swirl of olive oil
    • Add some other chopped fresh herbs on top including basil, cilantro, etc.
      Basil in our garden

      On Zoodles with some sauteed veggies

High Protein Chickpea Pasta & Vegan Pesto

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and the inspiration for this particular simple dish came from a delicious sample I tried yesterday at Costco.  This was my first time trying Banza pasta, and I really liked both the taste and the fact that each serving has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber!  As a brand marketer, I also applaud their bright, simple and clean packaging.  For this dish, I made the pasta w/ a classic vegan pesto w/ some fresh summer basil from our local farmer’s market.  It’s a great easy and healthy summer dish and can also be jazzed up w/ some veggies if you like.

Ingredients:
Pasta:
1. 1 packet of Banza pasta (makes 4 servings)


Pesto:
1. 1 bunch of basil (I used Tomatero Farm’s organic basil)
2. 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3. 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
4. 3/4 cup of walnuts
5. 1 large garlic glove
6.  Squeeze of lemon juice
7. Himalayan sea salt – generous sprinkles, and taste and add more to your liking

Directions:
1. For pasta, just follow the instructions on pack (boil water + add pasta for 7-9 minutes and then strain).
2. For pesto, put all ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute.  Taste it and adjust to your liking (if it’s thicker than you like, add more olive oil, if it’s not salty enough, add a few more sprinkles).  Note that when you store the pesto in the fridge it can thicken and I like to add a little more olive oil and mix after storing.
3.  For each serving of pasta, add  a couple heaping spoons of pesto and mix well.  

Bliss Balls with a Ginger Twist

While I was recently traveling in Portugal with my husband, our dear friends, Sugar and Shwa were house sitting for us and caring of our garden, and not only did they take amazing care of our home, but upon returning I was gifted a massive bag of homemade crystallized ginger.  Sugar, also known as Ilana, has been a dear friend of mine since we were 14, and she and I have both been big ginger lovers for as long as I can remember so she knew I would love this.  Inspired by this generous heap of delicious ginger candy, I made classic bliss balls but with a ginger twist, and these are now my favorite bliss balls that I’ve made.  These can be a sweet energizing treat for you, or given it’s mother’s day, it’s an easy gift to make for your mama too!  I like to store these in the fridge and have them before work outs.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
Bliss Balls:
1. 1 cups of dates (I used honey dates, other date varietals work well too) soaked for 1-2 hours in water to soften
2. 3/4 cup of walnuts
3. 1/4 cup of crystallized ginger
3. 1 tbspn unrefined coconut oil (preferably raw & virgin too)
4. 1 capful of vanilla extract
5. A few sprinkles of cinnamon 
Coating:  You can really get creative w/ the coating – they key is to have ingredients that are dry and ideally not to sweet so they can cut the sweetness of the date balls.  Great coatings include chopped/ processed nuts, seeds (e.g. hemp, chia, etc.), unsweetened diced coconut chips, and raw cacao nibs.  I also like to take all of the above and mix it up, which is what I did here:
1. 1 cup of walnuts, almonds or pecans – processed in food processor until in very small chunks (not all the way to powder)
2. 1/4 cup of hemp seeds
3. 1/4 cup of raw cacao
4. 1/4 cup of raw unsweetened coconut chips
Directions:
1. Take all the bliss balls ingredients and process in food processor until all ingredients form one large ball of dough-like consistency.   Transfer from food processor to a large plate.
2.  Process the nuts for the coating.  For the coating you can then choose to mix the nuts with the other ingredients like I did in a bowl or choose to keep separate and make bliss balls w/ unique topping.  
3.  On a large plate, take small chunks of the date dough and form into about a quarter sized ball, and then roll the date ball into the dry coating of your choice.  Continue this process and you should get about 15 date ginger bliss balls 🙂
And a shoutout to the lovely Sugar, my fellow ginger lover and a dear friend for life, who inspired this recipe.  

Scoping out the Veggie scene in Encinitas

This past weekend my hubby and I went on a quick jaunt to Encinitas for the inaugural half marathon and in gearing up for the race, we fueled up with so much delicious vegan food. For those who will be in the Encinitas area looking for vegan meals and treats, here are a few of my favorites:

  • EVE (#1 favorite)!:  Eve is a beautiful, peaceful all vegan spot with comfy couches, goddess artwork, a gorgeous vertical succulent garden, and it even has a large and beautiful yoga studio in the back.  They do lots of healthy options and from reading Yelp reviews it sounded like the Buddha bowls were the way to go, and boy was that an amazing choice. We had the ‘Legendary Hero’, which seems so simple to make w/ rice, brussels sprouts, kale, carrots, and beets but the magic was in the tahini sauce!  The tahini sauce and the way the veggies were perfectly cooked made this bowl incredibly tasty, and next time I’m in Encinitas I definitely plan to return.   They also have an ample library and it is a cozy spot to read, write, or do some work.
  •  PeacePies:  This raw vegan spot (believe the only fully raw vegan spot in Encinitas) has a nice outdoor patio w/ a vibrant mural backdrop.  I’ve been there twice now for desserts and the first time I got doughnuts, which weren’t that great, but this time I returned for the Cosmic Coconut pie, which was creamy coconut deliciousness.  Raw vegan is not for everyone, but if you tend to like raw vegan like me, would recommend you try it.  They also have lots of savory options like nori wrap, ‘farawfel’ and more.
  •  SucculentCafé (Carlsbad): This is a café – not a vegan joint – but it is oh so beautiful and inspiring with creative succulent creations everywhere and the entire large space is surrounded by succulents.  It’s got great little nooks and benches to hang out in the sun and the soy chai latte is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet.  This spot is a gem, especially for succulent lovers!
  • UnionKitchen & Tap: This is more of a classic very lively brewery, and by no means specifically vegan (in fact believe they are known for burgers), but the sweet potato fries are amazing.
  • LePapagayo: Didn’t get to try this one yet but the menu looked great and there was very lively music on Sat. night.  The line was too long w/out a reservation so next time we’re in town we’ll be sure to make a ressie and try out this romantic, hopping spot.
Feel so blessed that this was our third time in the Encinitas are in the past six months and it always feels like such a refreshing, sunny, laid back, coastal vacation.  Look forward to returning soon!

Sriracha Hemp Seed Pesto

Just got back after two amazing, jam-packed days at Expo West, and starting to play around with all the 50+ samples I brought back. As a first timer, I admittedly might have gone a bit overboard and brought back half a bulging suitcase of yummy samples & swag.

Will be trying them out over the coming weeks, and one that I tried at the show that I absolutely loved was Manitoba Harvest’s Sriracha Hemp Seeds.  I first tried these classically hempy, nutty, slightly spicy and salty seeds on avocado toast (amazing), and I just tried infusing them in vegan pesto, which also turned out very tasty and with a nutty twist on a traditional vegan pesto w/ a kick of heat. 

Ingredients:
1. 2 cups of fresh basil leaves – de-stemmed
2. 1 garlic clove
3. 1/2 cup walnuts
4. 3/4 cup olive oil (if you prefer less oily, thicker dip consistency, use 1/2 cup)
5. 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
6. 3 tbspn Sriracha hemp seeds
7. Sprinkles of sea salt to you liking

Directions:  Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and dippable / spreadable.

Serving suggestions: Spread on whole wheat toast, mix into Zoodles for vegan pasta, use as a dip w/ veggies or wherever your creativity leads you.

Enjoying this w/ my hubby in our sunny garden now as he is planting our spring flowers in the pretty turquoise planters he made from reclaimed pallets.   The show was chalk full of amazing new companies, entrepreneurs, so many people I knew from all walks of life, but like all trade shows, came back physically exhausted, and happy to be relaxing in our sunny casita and garden.  More Expo inspired recipe to come soon :).

Recharging post Expo in our zen garden

Coco Oil Fried Maitake Mushroom topped Hummus

I recently was reading a book on health benefits of mushrooms, and upon reading about Maitakes, I loved learning that these are considered ‘dancing mushrooms’ due to ancient lore that monks stumbled upon maitakes in a forest and were so overjoyed by these beauties that they starting dancing with abandon.   I get it.  Maitakes can make you dance.  They are these gorgeous, delicate mushrooms that crisp easily when fried and can make so many dishes elegant and more ‘dancy’.  For those local to the Bay Area, Far West Fungi, which has a home in the Ferry Building and is at so many farmer’s markets (w/ steep discounts at the Friday Chinatown Oakland farmer’s market) offers excellent Maitakes.  This time I fried them in coconut oil with a dash of Bragg’s amino acids and topped them on a classic Hummus recipe.  We ate it both as a dip and on toasted whole wheat walnut bread.  Enjoy + happy dancing!

Ingredients for hummus:
1. 1 can (organic) garbanzo beans, drained
2. 1 garlic clove
3. Tahini – 1/4 cup
4. Olive oil – 1/4 cup
5. Sea salt to your liking
6. Optional – dash of cumin

Ingredients – Fried Maitakes:
1. 1/2 cup of Maitake
2. 1 tbspn of coconut oil
3. Dash of Bragg’s amino acid

Directions:
 1.  For the Hummus, place all  hummus ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth (tip: I have tried to make this in my Vitamix too but food processor is much easier).
2. For the fried maitake toppers, heat a skillet with coconut oil and once hot add a dash of Bragg’s amino acids (if you don’t have this, you can replace with a few sprinkles of salt).  Once hot, add the maitakes and fry  on medium heat until crisped (about a few minutes).
3. Top the hummus with the maitakes and enjoy! Serve with crackers, toast, veggies, etc.

 

Love Stack – Sweet potato, rice, avo & crunchy plantain chips

Lately I’ve been playing around with stacking food in cookie cutter molds (will do some heart shaped stuff soon for V day), and today I made a sweet potato, brown & red rice, avocado, hot chili oil and sweet plantain stack that was looks fancy but is really easy to make.  It’s also vegan

Ingredients (for 1 serving – adjust proportionally for more):
1. One medium sweet potato
2. Brown & Red Rice – I used this quick Seeds of Change mix
3. 1/4 avocado mashed
4. Plantain chips

Directions:
1. Roast sweet potato until tender (350 for 40 minutes).  Once sweet potato is cooked, remove from oven and let cool.
2. Rice – If you use Seeds of Change, microwave for 90 seconds.  If you use other rice, cook according to instructions
3. Mash avocado and add sea salt
4. In cookie cutter, mash the entire small/ medium peeled sweet potato, top with 1/4 cup of rice layer, mashed avocado, drizzle with hot chili oil or sriracha and top w/ plantain chips. 
 

SF Winter Fancy Food Show -Favorite Honeys

While I know honey is controversial among hard core vegans,
as someone who ascribes to more of a mostly vegan diet and believes in the
healing power of honey, I am all for it.  My love affair with honey started when I was 21 studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, and living with a dear Chilean friend, Silvana, who is an inspiring creative soul, an early adopter of Ayurveda and really influenced my healthy eating.  Most of her family lived in the campo, the Chilean countryside where they mostly ate off the land.  In the campo, one of her cousins was a beekeeper, and lucky for us he would deliver massive jars with kilos of his deliciously grainy, straight-from-the-hive honey that we would eat by the spoonfuls as we sipped yerba mate.  10+ years later I continue to be a honey lover, and at day 2 of the fancy food fair (which admittedly was more like 30 minutes given that whole day job thing), two uniquely flavored honeys really stood out to me:

  •  Mike’s hot honey:  I’ve tried a lot of honey varietals and
    flavors, but have never tried spicy honey and it was a real treat and did pack a punch of heat (in fact for those who only like mild heat, this may be a bit too hot for you).  They had recipes to try it on Brussels sprouts which sounds amazing, and for non-vegans would probably be
    really good with cheese as well
Thanks to both of these really nice honey entrepreneurs for
sharing some of your sweet creations, and I look forward to trying both of these in upcoming recipes!

Lemony Coconut Fried Brussels Sprouts

Before joining the SF Women’s march yesterday and taking part in a historic outpouring of support in the name of equal rights, inclusivity, kindness, decency, healthcare access and more, I made some vegan comfort food to nourish body & soul both given the somber political environment as well as the continued cold, wet, rainy SF weather.  Specifically, I tried frying brussels sprouts in coconut oil (vs. my usual method of baking in olive oil), and I also made some twice baked sweet potatoes topped w/ Dang coconut chips and walnuts (that recipe coming soon!).  Here I share both the quick & easy recipe for Lemony Coconut Brussels Sprouts, inspired from this NYT recipe that I adapted, and some photos from yesterday’s inspiring and important Women’s march.

Ingredients:
1. Brussels sprouts, sliced in half – 1 cup
2. Organic coconut oil – 1/4 cup
3. Lemon, 1 slice
4. Sea salt

Directions:
1. In a medium to large skillet, heat coconut oil on medium to high heat for a couple of minutes.  Once piping hot, place the brussels sprouts face down on medium heat and allow them to get brown.
2. Skirt lemon slice directly into the skillet if you’d like to impart a lemony flavor (otherwise okay to keep simple with just coco oil and salt). 
3. Once browned and starting to get tender (~4-5 min), flip over and allow to cook through on other side.  Sprinkle w/ sea salt.
4. Taste one and see if it’s got that melt-in-your-mouth tender, deliciously coconut oily texture.  If still too hard, cook longer on lower heat setting to tenderize.

So let’s continue to be extra aware of the need for self care right now and care for others.  Love, tolerance, decency, and fundamental kindness is the answer. And I’ll leave with you one of my favorite Rumi quotes, which I rediscovered this weekend, and prompts us to think about in our individual and collective ‘tailor shops’ what are we sewing / building towards?  

“Spend the spark of iron on the stone. Sit at the head of the table; dip your spoon in the bowl. Seat yourself next to your joy and have your awakened soul pour wine…You’re the tailor, settled among his shop goods, quietly sewing.”- Rumi