Saturday, February 23, 2019

coconut ranch dressing

Ranch dressing reminds me of my childhood, dipping veggies, french fries, and even pizza. It was one of those condiments that almost every American family had with almost every meal. Are you still a ranch addict? Although a dairy based dressing accounting for 150 kcals per serving doesnʻt find it's way into my diet anymore,  I can't say I don't crave a creamy plant based substitute for this salad classic.

Instead of buttermilk and mayonnaise I used coconut cream. Different from coconut milk that comes in a can, this is more condensed and much thicker. If you can't find this in your health food store, use a can of full fat coconut milk but omit the water from the recipe.

Keep in mind that even though this recipe doesn't use any animal products, it is still full of fat! Use sparingly if you are watching your calorie or dietary fat intake.

coconut ranch
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 spring onions or an equal amount of chives
  • 1/2 cup of fresh herbs: basil, parsley, and dill
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients into a blender (I have a NutriBullet and I use it for everything) and whiz it up. It's really that easy! If you want your dressing to look more like the classic version, white with green chunks of herbs, finely chop the greens and stir them into the dressing instead of blending them. Me, I like my dressings green. Get creative with the varieties of herbs and add more if you like, you can't have too many fresh herbs.

This dressing will thicken to perfection after refrigeration, that is the nature of coconut products, so make it ahead with some time for it to set. For a thicker ranch dip use less water. Try substituting the coconut cream and water with one can of full fat coconut milk. Happy salad eating! 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

mocha chia pudding + coconut yogurt

Need something to look forward to in the morning? Something that makes you want to jump out of bed? How about a breakfast that is healthy, hearty, chocolatey, and caffeinated? I had you at caffeinated, didn't I? This mocha chia pudding is just what you need then. Use chilled espresso shots or cold brew coffee to jazz up this new take on an old recipe (chocolate mint chia snack pack).

mocha chia pudding
  • 1/2 cup cold brew coffee or espresso
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or sweeten to taste)

Whisk together all ingredients until completely combined and starting to thicken. Transfer into containers or jars, cover and place in the fridge for at least two hours, preferably overnight.  For a complete breaky top with fresh fruit, granola, or coconut yogurt.

Want to make your own coconut yogurt? I did! Find the recipe on Minimalist Baker and read through her suggestions for coconut milks and probiotics. I have been using any full fat coconut milk and Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic 50 billion (look for it in the refrigerated probiotics section of your health food store). Two capsules for one can of coconut milk and 48 hours later, you are ready to enjoy. A little goes a long way with this co-yo because it is super rich and full fat so use sparingly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

lentil meatballs + coconut curry sauce

Coconut curried lentils is one of my all time favorite meals. Along the same theme, with a different method and texture, another variation was born. Which is good because there are only so many nights you can eat a lentil stew with brown rice. Don't get me wrong, I could literally live on lentils. But finding new and fun ways to eat these little nutrient power houses is a serious obsession.

I have made vegan meatballs before using white beans and bread crumbs with a classic marinara sauce and zucchini noodles, drooling yet? You can check out that recipe here. These lentil meatballs are next level. They are perfect for meal prep, you can cook them all and throw them in the fridge to put on salads, in wraps, or in this case smothered in coconut curry sauce and served with greens and brown rice for a complete dinner. Another option is to roll the balls but keep them raw and throw them in the freezer for a quick but rather impressive midweek dinner later on. Get creative with the sauces and serving suggestions and let me know how yours turn out!

lentil meatballs
  • 3 cups cooked lentils (I cook my own french green lentils with water and salt)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil for cooking ~ 1 Tbsp

For this recipe I cooked my own lentils but it would work fine with canned lentils too. The consistency may vary so be prepared to add either a bit of water (1 or 2 Tbsp) if its too dry, or some sort of flour if its too wet. Coconut flour and garbanzo bean flour are both excellent choices given that a small amount will absorb a lot of moisture. But any kind of flour, almond meal, more flax meal, or even breadcrumbs would do the trick.

In a food processor add the garlic and walnuts, process to chop, this will ensure you aren't left with any big chunks of either. Add the lentils, cumin, salt and pepper. Process until almost completely smooth, scraping down the sides when needed. At this point only a few full lentil should be detectable. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the flax meal, nutritional yeast, and finely chopped celery and parsley. This is when you may notice if your mixture is too wet, or too dry. Adjust accordingly as you fold to combine.

The consistency you are looking for should be sticky enough to hold together in a ball, but not too wet that it doesn't hold it's shape.

Roll into balls, about gold ball size or smaller. In a pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the lentil balls and lightly fry on a few sides, using tongs or a fork to rotate throughout the process. Set the balls aside to make the sauce, if using the same pan for the sauce, place them on a separate plate.

coconut curry sauce
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh turmeric
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1/2 cup water
This curry sauce is irresistible! Every curry powder will have a slightly different combination of spices, but with added ginger, garlic, and turmeric, you can't really go wrong. 
Heat the olive oil and add the onions and minced garlic to sauté. After a couple minutes add the grated ginger and turmeric and the curry powder. Spices are always better after being toasted so rolling the curry powder around with the onions and garlic will really deepen the flavor. 

Add the can of coconut milk and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring the sauce back to a simmer. If the thickness is to your liking, its time to add the balls back in. If not, simmer until desired consistency. Heat the meatballs in the sauce for a few minutes, garnish with fresh herbs, either more fresh parsley or as pictured here, fresh cilantro, and serve.

Pictured here is a half batch of the lentil meatballs + a whole batch of the coconut curry sauce. There is plenty of sauce for all of the meatballs but it is fun to split it up into two meals, maybe with a different sauce? We had this for dinner one night with greens and brown rice, then cooked up another batch of the sauce to bring the rest of the balls to a dinner party to enjoy tapas style. Have fun with this one and I'd love to hear your feedback!