BBQ Black Bean and Sweet Potato Patties [vegan, gluten-free, oil-free]

PepitaAvocadoSauce1This recipe came to me while I was working out, as many recipes do (I should be thinking about the workout and not food, I know!). I wanted to throw something together for an easy lunch and this is what I came up with.  They are easy to make but taste like they were a lot of work. They’re moist but hold together well.  Really yummy.  I like serving them with avocado and Sour Un-Cream, or my Toasted Pepita Avocado Sauce as pictured.

Low-Fat Cheesy Sauce [vegan + gf + no nuts + no oil]

cheesesauceI think I’ve finally done it and I’m really excited.

I have made a LOT of cheesy sauces over the years.  I mean, it’s crazy how many; recipes I’ve found and tweaked, recipes I’ve created, etc.  After all, mac-n-cheese was my favorite food before I went vegan 10+ years ago.  While I don’t crave the real thing, I still really love comforting foods like noodles with a creamy, cheese-like sauce.  Anyway, all the recipes I tried were similar to each other, all yummy, but all left me feeling like I wasn’t there yet;  that my quest for the perfect sauce wasn’t complete.  Getting the perfect combination of texture, mouth-feel, flavor and nutrient profile was beginning to seem impossible.

Sure, there are rich and amazingly delicious sauces out there but many of them call for a ton of nuts or a bunch of oil.  Any vegan food can taste delectable when adding a bunch of fat – there’s no creativity or skill in that.  The real challenge and test lies in making something that’s healthy, rich and delicious without exceeding your daily fat quota in one meal.

Yep.  I think I’ve finally done it.

Creamy Cinnamon-Spiced Pumpkin Dressing

Pumpkin Dressing. Vegan. Oil-free. Low-fat. Gluten-free.

As I’ve said before, I’m in love with all things pumpkin.  This savory dressing is no exception.  Other than my Pumpkin Soup, I’d never made a non-sweet pumpkin dish before.  I was very happy with the results.  Start small with the cinnamon and work your way up, tasting as you go.  And, depending upon how much tang you like, start with 1 TBS lemon juice and go from there.  I made this for a salad in which I put pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds – delicious!  It would also be tasty on greens like kale, or steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

Zesty Potato-Corn Chowder

Fresh corn would have made this thick, chunky chowder even better but I was unable to find organic.  Corn is one of those items I always buy organic due to the possibility of GMO’s.  A very small portion of domestic sweet corn in the produce section is actually GMO, but since it’s not the law for it to be labeled (lame), it’s better to err on the side of caution.  Most of the GMO corn is used in processed foods (aka JUNK) and animal feed – just another reason to stay away from that crap and eat WHOLE plant foods!

Anyway, I digress.  This soup is delicious….and even better the next day.  For more intense and “zesty” flavor, add more cumin and chili powder, and use medium or hot green chiles – I used mild.  Jalapeños would be good here too, but as I’ve said before, I’m a spice wimp.  I used 2 teaspoons of chili powder and found it to be a bit too spicy, though the fam disagreed (told ya…wimp).  One of the two teaspoons was chipotle chili powder since I love that smoky flavor.  In one of the pictures below you will see something green in the chowder.  I stirred in some steamed kale and it was super yummy.

Update 9/26/13: I made this without the cashews (accidentally) and it was every bit as creamy and delicious.  So, I’ve changed the ingredient above to OPTIONAL.  

Tofu Scramble and Potato Quesadilla (vegan, oil-free, can be gluten-free)

I got the idea for this recipe last weekend when we got food from the Seabirds truck, a vegan food truck in OC.  Very tasty!  We had it for dinner but it would be great for any meal.

Traditional quesdillas call for ooey, gooey sticky cheese but this one does not.  You can use some Daiya vegan cheese if you like (it would be delicious, not gonna lie), but just keep in mind its a processed food with a lot of fat.  Maybe you can use a tiny bit.  🙂  In this recipe I used a cashew cheese concoction made with cashews and green chiles.  I didn’t use much since cashews are very high in fat as well.  I took my “Cheesy Sauce” recipe (see in Recipes), and tweaked it a little bit to make a thicker, spreadable mixture.  See below for details. You can use all sorts of different veggies in this dish; I used what I had on hand which happened to be mushrooms and spinach, along with the potatoes.

You can use brown rice tortillas to make these babies gluten free.

Cheesy Sprinkle (vegan, gluten-free)

This sprinkle is a great way to add a cheesy/salty flavor to any food.  The main ingredient is nutritional yeast which is a deactivated yeast, unlike the type used in breads.  It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium, and is free of sugar,dairy, and gluten.

I sprinkle this delicious mixture on steamed greens, broccoli, salads, baked white and sweet potatoes, popcorn…basically everything savory.

Balsamic & Herb Roasted Butternut Squash

I was at Costco and I saw this 2 lb container of cut up butternut squash.  I had to have it.  It’s not impossible certainly, but cutting that stuff yourself is sort of a pain.  So, I put it in my cart along with my 8 bags of frozen mixed berries for smoothies, and immediately envisioned dinner:  roasted butternut squash with herbs and balsamic vinegar, steamed broccolini and garlicky cannellini beans. Healthy, easy and super tasty, just the way I like it! 🙂

PAQUITOS! Potato and Bean Taquitos – Baked not Fried! (Vegan, low-fat, gluten-free)

I’m not proud of this,  but when I was in junior high, I ate taquitos from the cafeteria nearly every day.  I don’t even want to think about what they were filled with, but I just loved them; mostly for the crunchy corn tortilla and the green dipping sauce with which they were served.  We won’t even talk about the Hostess mini crumb donuts I ate too.  Geez.  Gotta love the offerings in school cafeterias.  Sad to say it’s no better 30 years later.  Did I just say that?  30 YEARS?  “sigh”.

Anyway, I digress…sorry.   As we all know, traditional taquitos are deep fried.  We also know deep fried foods = bad news.  I set out to create a plant-based taquito that I could bake, but would still be crunchy.  I don’t cook with oil as a rule, but for form and function, a small amount was required for this to work.  I tried it without.  Fail.  However, I was amazed how such a small amount could make a difference.  1 tablespoon of olive oil or less for the entire batch of 12 taquitos.  Not bad.  Since these taquitos are filled with potatoes, I’m calling them paquitos.  🙂