Cheezy Kale Chips

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Kale chips make a great, nutrient-dense snack. Even picky little eaters will gobble them up.  You can use just about any dressing to flavor the chips.  For super simple kale chips, sprinkle on a little avocado oil (1 Tbsp/15 ml), tamari (1 Tbsp/15 ml) and lemon juice, lime juice or balsamic vinegar (2-3 Tbsp/30-45 ml).  Toss with a mixed herb seasoning.  The recipe below uses the cashew red pepper “cheese sauce” as a dressing, so if you are making the sauce and have a little left over, there are few better ways to use it up!

About 12 cups (3 l) of kale (or about 2 heads)
1 cup cashew red pepper “cheese”
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh squeezed lemon juice, or white balsamic or other vinegar
2-3 tsp (10-15 ml) tamari
1-2 tsp (5-10 ml) herbs or spices
1/4 cup (60 ml) nutritional yeast

1. Wash kale and move stems.
2. Tear into good sized pieces (not too small) and put into a very large bowl.
3. Toss with cashew red pepper “cheese” sauce, lemon juice, tamari, herbs and/or spices, if desired. 
4. Dehydrate at about 115 degrees for 4-6 hours.  (Can also be done at a higher temperature 130-140 degrees for about half the time.  If you do not have a dehydrator, you can bake these chips in your oven at about 250 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until crispy).




Seedy Vegetable Crackers

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These crackers are absolutely delicious, and nutritious.  They bear little resemblance to boxed commercial crackers.  I find that many of the healthier crackers on the market are difficult to digest – perhaps long cooking times cause this. These crackers are made from vegetables and seeds with herbs for seasoning – no flour, no oil, no preservatives.  I keep them in a tin or in the freezer to retain crispness. If you do not have a dehydrator, you could try cooking them on the lowest temperature of your oven. I have not tried this, so you would be experimenting. Of course, they would be ready much more quickly.  Serve with nut cheese, sliced avocado and tomato, or your favorite spread.

2 cups (500 ml) sunflower seeds

1 cup (250 ml) pumpkin seeds

6 cups (1.5 L) water

1 cup (500 ml) flaxseeds

2 cups (1 L) water

1/2 cup (125 ml) ground flaxseeds

6 cups (1.5 L) coarsely chopped vegetables (e.g. butternut squash, carrots, zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.)

1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh parsley, basil, dill or other fresh herbs (optional)

2 Tbsp (30 ml) ginger, grated or 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

2 Tbsp (30 ml) tamari or 1 tsp (5 ml) salt (optional)

 

  1. Soak sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in 6 cups (1.5 L) water for at least 2-4 hours.
  2. Soak whole and ground flaxseeds in 2 cups (50 ml) water for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a food processor fitted with an s-blade, process vegetables until chopped into very small pieces. Add herbs, ginger or garlic and pulse until thoroughly blended with other vegetables (should be soupy). Place vegetables in a large bowl.
  4. Drain sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and add to vegetables. They can be chopped in the food processor first if you prefer, although they are great whole. Stir in whole and ground flaxseeds, red pepper flakes, salt or tamari (if using), and stir well.
  5. Divide mixture onto 3 nonstick sheets on dehydrator trays. Spread evenly using a metal spatula or flat rubber spatula.
  6. Dehydrate for about 8 hours at 110 degrees, then turn scored crackers, and turn crackers over onto a mesh dehydrator try and dehydrate for another 12 hours or until dry and crispy.
  7. Store in an airtight tin in a cool, dry place or in a freezer.

 

Variations: replace ½ cup of sunflower seeds with chia seeds, sesame seeds or other seeds. Reserve some of the salt for the top of the crackers instead of adding to the batter.




Nutty Cream Cheese

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Yield: 2 cups (6 to 8 servings)

Cheese is the Achilles heel of many plant-based eaters.  Commercial plant options looked like cheese, but that is where the similarity ended. The depth of flavor found in dairy-based cheese just couldn’t be matched by non-dairy alternatives, until recently.  Now fabulous plant-cheeses are making an appearance – many of these based on nuts. The downside is they are not yet widely available, and they are expensive.  However, making your own is not nearly as challenging as you might imagine.  Miyoko Shinner is a vegan cheese genius, and her book, Vegan Artisan Cheese is a masterpiece.  This recipe is adapted from this book.

 

2 cups (500 ml) broken, raw cashews* , rinsed and soaked for about 8 hour

1/2 cup (125 ml) rejuvelac* or water

1/2 tsp (2 ml) probiotic powder

pinch of salt

 

Puree the nuts with 1 cup (250 ml) rejuvelac or water, probiotic powder and salt in a high-powered blender. Add a little water to facilitate blending, if necessary. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm area for 12 to 36 hours.  My preference is to put on the lowest temperature of the dehydrator and let dehydrate for about 12-18 hours.  This makes the cheese firmer and sharper. 

If using rejuvelac, there is no need for probiotic powder, although I usually use it anyway to ensure a healthy culture of bacteria.

Variations:

1. Use other nuts such as soaked almonds (skins removed) and macadamia nuts can be used in place of cashews.

2. Herbed cheese – add about a tablespoon (15 ml) of mixed herbs such as chives, dill and parsley and cracked black pepper or a pinch of cayenne to the cheese. Salt to taste.

3. Sundried tomato/basil cheese – add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of finely chopped sundried tomatoes,  1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil, finely chopped and 1-2 cloves garlic. Salt to taste.

4. Olive and oregano cheese – add 1/4 cup chopped olives and about a 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried Italian herbs (e.g. oregano, basil and rosemary)

5. Use your imagination. Almost anything goes.  Make a cheese ball by rolling a the cheese in nuts, dried red and green peppers (as pictured above) or herbs. 




Super Seedy Energy Bars

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Energy bars make a healthy snack for active people or can supplement a light lunch.  Commercial bars often higher in sugar than you might imagine.  These provide protein from seeds and contain no added sugars (unless dark chocolate is used as a topping!)

 

 

Bars

 

3 cups (750 ml) dried fruit (well packed) (half dates then your choice – figs, prunes, pears, etc.)

3/4 cup (185 ml) sunflower seeds, soaked and dehydrated*

3/4 cup (185 ml) pumpkin seeds, soaked and dehydrated*  

3/4 cup (185 ml) hemp seeds

3/4 cup (185 ml) chia seeds

1 cup (250 ml) walnuts or other nuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (125 ml) cocoa

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

¼ tsp (1 ml) your favorite salt (optional)

 

Topping (optional)

 

85-100 g dark chocolate bar

1/3 cup (85 ml) almond or peanut butter

 

  • Pulse walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds in food processor until coarsely ground. Set aside in a bowl.
  • If dried fruit is soft, process in food processor with cocoa powder, vanilla and salt (if using) until they are well blended. (If fruit is not soft, steam about 10 mins in a steamer basket before processing.)
  • Add hempseeds, chia seeds and nut/seed mixture to the dried fruit and pulse until just combined. You may need to divide the dough if your processor is not big enough.
  • Pat dough on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Roll with rolling pin till mixture is evenly distributed in pan. Add chocolate topping, if using.  You can sprinkle hempseeds, walnuts or coconut on top for decoration.
  • Freeze a few hours then cut into bars. Package individually if you wish and return to the freezer.  I purchase small bags for this and use stickers to seal. You can also use wax paper or plastic wrap. 

 

 

*  Soak seeds in 2 cups (500 ml) of water 2-4 hrs then dehydrate till dry. This is optional – raw or roasted seeds can also be used.

 

Variations:

 

  1. Use any combination of nuts (e.g. pecans or almonds instead of walnuts)
  2. Use 3/4 cup (185 ml) of coconut in place of one of the seeds, or reduce seeds to 1/2 cup (125 ml) each and add 1 cup coconut. 

 




Walnut Cookies


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I absolutely love these cookies. They contain no oil, no sugar and are gluten-free.  They are also delicious and are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids! 

Makes 3 dozen small cookies.

 

2 cups (500 ml) pitted dates (loosely packed)

3/4 cup (185 ml) water

1/4 cup tahini or almond butter

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

2 cups walnuts, finely chopped (or coarsley ground in blender

1 cup rolled oats, ground into flour

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt (optional)

 

  1. Cook dates in water. Mash.
  2. Put dates in a large bowl and stir in vanilla, ground flaxseed, tahini and salt.
  3. Add nuts and ground oats.
  4. Stir until mixed.
  5. Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheets (line with silicon cookie sheets or lightly oil pans) and press down with fork. (use water to keep fork from sticking to cookies). Top with a pecan half if you like or decorate as desired.
  6. Bake at 300 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until browned.

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Mighty Carrot Raisin Muffins (gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free)

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Commercial muffins are like little cakes with lots of fat, sugar and white flour.  They are typically super-sized containing 400-500 calories.  These muffins do not qualify as a healthy breakfast choice.  They don’t even qualify as a decent dessert.  However, if you enjoy a muffin from time to time, bake a batch and freeze any you aren’t using within two days.  You might want to slice them, add some almond butter and wrap them individually so you can easily take pack them for lunch or a snack.  Enjoy a muffin for breakfast with fruit, non-dairy yogurt and some nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.  Add a muffin to a salad lunch to make your meal more filling. 

These muffins are very dense and hearty so if you are expecting cake, you might be disappointed. They are whole food muffins – we use dried and fresh fruit for sweetness and nut or seed butter instead of oil. although any flour can be used, we use oat flour, so they can be gluten-free if you prefer.  

Using a blender makes these muffins fast and easy! They are best right out of the oven, but they are also great cold with a little nut or seed butter and sliced bananas.

 

Makes 12 muffins.

 

2 cups (500 ml) rolled oats

1/4 cup (60 ml) ground flaxseed

2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder

1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda

2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2 ml) ginger

1/4 tsp (1 ml) cloves

1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt  (optional)

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) non-dairy milk

1/3 cup (85 ml) tahini or almond butter

1 large, 2 medium or 3 small carrots, coarsely chopped (about a cup/ 250 ml)

1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup dates (185 ml) (soften with boiling water or steam if very hard)

1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

3/4 cup (185 ml) raisins

1 cup (250 ml) coarsely chopped walnuts

 

Blend Dry Ingredients

In a blender, combine oats, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.  Pour into a large bowl.

 

Blend Liquid Ingredients

Place non-dairy milk, nut or seed butter, dates, applesauce, carrots, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and vanilla in blender and process on low speed, gradually increasing speed until smooth. 

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until mixed. Fold in raisins and walnuts. Spray muffin tin and divide dough into muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from pan, and place on cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.

 




Stuffed Dates

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Makes about 46 stuffed dates

 

These are beautiful treats. They freeze well and are delicious just slightly thawed. You can get creative with the decorations, but nuts work especially well.

 

Dates

2 pounds (908 g) or about 46 large, soft, Medjool dates

 

 

Chocolate/Nut-butter Filling

 

2 cups (500 ml) dates, packed

1/2 cup (125 ml) boiling water

1/2 cup (125 ml) nut butter (organic peanut butter, hazelnut, cashew, almond or other nut butter)

1/4 cup (60 ml) cocoa or carob powder

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

1/4-1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Nuts for decoration (3 hazelnuts or almonds, 1 cashew, or 1 pecan or walnut half per date)

 

  1. Place dates in a glass bowl or measuring cup. Pour boiling water over the dates and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put dates and water into a food processor. Add nut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt (if using). Process until very smooth.
  3. Put filling in a bowl, cover and place in the freezer for a few hours or until firm and easy to work with (can also be put in the refrigerator overnight).
  4. Slice Medjool dates lengthwise and remove pit, so that each date fans open and can be fille
  5. Stuff dates with filling (2-3 teaspoons per date). Press nuts on the top of filling to decorate
  6. Refrigerate or freeze until serving. If freezing, remove the dates a few minutes before serving to soften slightly.