Welcome to my blog. I’m a Buffalonian. Three years ago I decided to start a plant-based diet. For the most part, it’s been exciting and fun to try new foods, but sometimes it’s a challenge.
When you’re from Buffalo, New York (home of the chicken wing), and there’s a get together, it means two things: pizza and wings. These two crowd-pleasing delicacies are at most birthday, game-day, and school parties. Buffalo is the pizzeria capitol of the world. Seriously, there’s a pizza shop on every corner…and, of course, a Tim Horton’s.
It’s becoming easier to find plant-based options these days. Navigating the food isles at the grocery store can be tricky, but I’m here to help. Let’s dig in!
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more.
Summer…I miss it already. If you’re longing for summer, this recipe might be worth trying. It’s Nick Stellino’s chilled cantaloupe soup, but with a vegan twist. I absolutely love Nick’s cooking show on PBS—huge fan. Everything he makes looks so delicious, but it’s not always vegan friendly. When I saw him make this, I knew I needed to try it. This is also a great make-ahead recipe.
I took the original recipe and followed the directions for the soup itself, which is super easy.
The ingredients for the soup are:
4 C seeded, peeled and diced cantaloupe
2 T white balsamic vinegar
3 T chopped fresh basil
½ C finely diced white onion
¾ C water
2 t Nick’s magic rub (I subbed in maple syrup for the brown sugar and used ¼ teaspoon of all the ingredients – onion powder, maple syrup, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika)
½ C extra virgin olive oil
Nick says to place all of the ingredients listed above into a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Great – and now for the twist.
While your soup is chilling, prepare vegan versions of Nick’s toppings – coconut bacon and a basic cashew cream sauce.
Cashew cream sauce:
½ C raw cashews
½ C almond milk
2 T nutritional yeast
Place all three ingredients in your high-speed blender and process until smooth. If you don’t have a high-speed blender (i.e., Vitamix or Blentec) you’ll need to soak your cashews first.
You can prepare this sauce ahead of time, or make it right before you serve. If you chill this mixture, it will not remain soupy. You can put it back into your blender and add a little more almond milk to make it the consistency you want.
Coconut bacon “Fakon”:
2 C unsweetened coconut – large flakes
1 T olive oil
1 T maple syrup
2 t coconut aminos
1 t smoked paprika
½ t liquid smoke
¼ t salt
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Combine all ingredients listed in a mixing bowl, making sure all of the coconut is covered. Spread the mixture onto your cookie sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes take it out and stir the mixture. Put it back in the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes until your fakon is golden brown. Watch it closely, so it doesn’t burn. After you take it out of the oven, let it cool. When it has cooled place it in a glass jar.
Now you’re ready to put it all together. Pour your soup into four bowls, drizzle your cashew cream over the soup and sprinkle with fakon. Serve immediately!
Did you know that national chili day is February 27? I’m a little late with this news, but I like chili, not just on chilly days, but all year long. Chili’s origins are obscure. Sometimes called the “soup of the devil” or “bowl of red,” chili was a favorite meal of American cowboys on the western frontier in the late 1800s. Now chili is ubiquitous and almost as American as apple pie. It’s so easy to make and I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like chili.
There are three things you should know about making chili:
Everyone thinks their recipe is the absolute best.
There’s no exact way to make it.
Each recipe claims to have a secret ingredient (e.g., beer, cinnamon, chocolate, cornmeal, wine, pinch of love).
Fun fact: In 1977, the state of Texas declared chili as the state dish.
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion
2 C frozen corn
4 medium sweet potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 roasted red pepper, about 1/2 C chopped
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 t cacao powder
1/2 t salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can water
2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained
1 T bullion
1 lime (optional)
Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot. Over medium heat, add onions and corn and saute for about 5 minutes or until they’re browned a little. Add sweet potatoes and saute for another 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, cacao (this is my secret ingredient), and roasted red peppers. Stir until the spices are evenly distributed. Add the tomatoes, then fill the tomato can with water and add to the pot along with a tablespoon of bullion and beans. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft. Dish it up and squeeze some lime over each bowl. This is great with some dairy-free yogurt and/or guacamole.
Some of the ingredients I used for this recipe are featured below.
A super sweet friend of mine came to visit one day and brought me a little bag of granola. My dear friend is from California and very health conscious, so I was curious about the ingredients. There were only five ingredients listed on the bag, one of which was butter. Oats, honey, salt, and cashews were also listed. Here’s my vegan version:
4 C old-fashioned oats
2 C chopped pecans
1/2 C Nutiva butter flavor coconut oil, melted
1/2 C maple syrup
1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a mixing bowl combine oats, pecans, and oil. Stir until the oil covers all of the oats and pecans. Add the maple syrup and salt and stir. Dump the mixture on to the cookie sheet and spread it evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the oats are golden brown. This granola smells so great while it’s baking.
It can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so. Try the granola on some cashew yogurt or with some almond milk. It’s also great to eat by the handful! Sometimes I can’t stop eating it…
The buttery coconut oil isn’t always at the store, so use this link below to get yours!