south-of-the-border party dip (vegan, oil free, added sugar free)

 

I could happily eat Mexican-style foods most days of the week. It’s one of the few cuisines that easily adapts to a plant-based diet without extraordinary effort or feeling like something is missing. Meat- and cheese-lovers might disagree, but as a former meat- and cheese-lover, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

While this dip is made for the party scene, I also love it as a main, side or lunch any day of the week. It’s best when eaten within the first day, but can hold up in the fridge for a couple of days, although the avocado isn’t too happy about that.

This south-of-the-border party dip was inspired by one shared at a friend’s, but I “beefed” the recipe up with the addition of chickpeas plus a couple south-of-the-border ingredients: jalapenos and jicama.

 

 

 

If you’ve never tried jicama (pronounced hee-cama), it’s a root vegetable that has a pleasant crunchy texture and the flavor reminds me of apples, although not as sweet or pungent. To prepare it, all you do is peel it and slice as desired – for this recipe, I diced it. See the “Shop the Recipe” guide under the recipe for where you can find it.

This is a recipe where you can play with the ratios of ingredients and choose what to include and what to leave out, but of course, I recommend trying the whole kit and caboodle first as suggested in the recipe below. Since most of my family like foods on the mild side, I kept the jalapeno peppers to a minimum – really just enough to hint at some heat, but if you like things spicy, you’ll want to toss in more.

 

South-of-the-Border Party Dip
Prep Time
15 mins
 

A hearty, refreshing dip that is easy to pull together especially for large gatherings or when you want to whip up a quick meal.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 12-14 green onions, diced
  • 1-1.5 cups corn kernals
  • 1-1.5 cups diced cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup, packed cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced fine (optional)
  • 3/4-1 cup jicama, diced (optional)
Dressing Ingredients
  • 2-3 T veggie stock
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. With the exception of the avocado, add all the dip ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Add the avocado just before serving, coating it with extra lime juice to slow the browning.

  2. Combine the dressing ingredients, pour over the dip and stir to coat.

Serve with organic tortilla chips or combine it with lettuce for a hearty salad.

 

 

 

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  • I used Eden Organics black beans and chickpeas for this recipe. I love that they are unsalted! If you can’t find them in your local store, you can get them here.
  • I always buy my corn organically because of GMOs in conventional corn. I get mine in bulk at BJs (a wholesale club), but Trader Joe’s also carries it. You also could look for the Woodstock brand in your local grocery store if they cater to an organic market. If you aren’t a member of BJs and want to check it out, use this link to sign up for a BJs membership and we’ll both get $25!
  • I bought my jicama at Whole Foods, but you could also look for it at Mexican grocery stores or larger grocery stores with an expanded selection of fruits and veggies may carry it.

buffalo cauliflower wings (vegan, gluten free, dairy free)

I cannot tell you how excited I am by how these buffalo cauliflower wings turned out! I’ve made them before, but experimented with a slightly different technique and voila! Beautiful plant-based buffalo wings just in time for the “Big Game” coming up in a couple of weeks.

While I’m not exactly a football fan, I do excited for the Super Bowl because it’s an excuse to make fun party foods to snack on. Kind of like how people look forward to Cinco de Mayo even though they aren’t Mexican. LOL

Anyway…these wings and the sauce are incredibly easy to make and are kept low in fat and gluten free by baking instead of frying and using rice flour over wheat. The inspiration came from the Lean Clean Eating Machine. I’ll even make these occasionally as my “main” dish with sides of veggies. Interestingly, my daughter, who typically loathes cauliflower, will actually eat these because of the spice, but my husband and sons won’t because of it. Go figure, right?!

You may be tempted to skip making the sauce and buying it instead but don’t!! It’s extremely easy to make and spares the icky preservatives and strange ingredients typically found in most hot wing sauces.

I prefer to pull the cauliflower florets apart to form the “wings” in roughly bite-sized bites and then chop up any stalk that’s left over.

To help your buffalo cauliflower wings crisp up faster, you’ll want to move them around on the parchment paper each time you go to turn them…that way they don’t stay in the same soggy spot. While I like them best fresh, they hold up quite well overnight so you can make them ahead of time…just crisp them up in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes before eating.

 

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Easy to make, these buffalo cauliflower wings are low in fat and gluten free since they are baked, not fried and use rice flour instead of wheat.

Course: Appetizer
Ingredients
For the sauce
  • 1 cup red pepper sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 T vegan butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp tapicoa starch or 1/4 tsp xantham gum
For the cauliflower wings
  • 1 head medium cauliflower
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tspsalt garlic powder
Instructions
For the sauce
  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk constantly over high heat until it thickens up. Turn off heat. Extra can be frozen.

For the wings
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Rinse the cauliflower and then pull of the florets in bite-sized pieces. Chop up the stalk into bite-sized pieces.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients for the coating until thoroughly combined. Add the cauliflower florets and mix by hand until the cauliflower is coated with the brown rice mixture.

  3. Place cauliflower on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle any remaining rice mixture over the larger cauli pieces. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and rotate the florets, then return for another 10 minutes or until the coating on the wings is dried and crispy. It's best to slightly shift the wings on the parchment to a drier spot to help with the crisping.

  4. Pour some wing sauce in a clean bowl and begin dipping the baked cauliflower florets in it one by one, coating thoroughly and returning the coated cauli wings to the baking sheet. Repeat with all the cauli wings added more sauce as needed. Reserve any spare sauce for extra spicy dipping.

  5. When all the wings are coated in the sauce, return the baking sheet to the oven and cook 10 minutes. Remove from oven, turn the wings as before and bake another 10 minutes or until the wings start to crisp up.

  6. Serve immediately or let cool on the baking sheet before storing in the fridge so they don't sog up. Extra sauce can be frozen.

 

 

warming indian mulligatawny soup (vegan, dairy free, oil free, no added sugar, gluten free)

As someone who prefers to use medication as an absolute last resort, I’m always on the lookout for food and recipes that give the body a fighting chance against infection before medication is needed.

And this warming Indian mulligatawny soup is just what the homeopathic doctor ordered.

Chock full of spices, vegetables and a kick of plant-based protein from red lentils, this soup comes together easily even if the ingredient list looks intimidating. Actually, it’s exactly because of all these ingredients (which are mostly spices) that makes this soup an excellent meal especially during cold and flu season.

For example:

  • Ginger strengthens the immune system, helps with digestion and helps with respiratory health
  • Turmeric and cinnamon are antioxidants and anti inflammatory
  • Cardamon helps with digestion problems
  • Thyme soothes sore throats and coughs and also helps with digestion

 

 

One of the reasons I also love this soup is that it’s one of the few soup recipes my husband also enjoys.  Without meats and cheese, he jokingly refers to most soups as “tea with vegetables” i.e. they don’t feel filling enough. The kids, on the other hand give it a mixed review. LOL

This warming Indian mulligatawny soup is a plant-based and oil-free version of a recipe from The Wanderlust Kitchen and I’m grateful for the friend who passed it along. While the rice isn’t strictly necessary, it rounds out the recipe as a hearty meal. Quinoa would also work well as substitute.

 

warming indian mulligatawny soup
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 
Course: Entree, Soup
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small apples, diced
  • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1.5 T curry powder
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, uncooked
  • 1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilatro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Add a little water to cover the bottom of a large soup or stock pot and saute the onions, garlic and carrots over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except the fresh cilantro and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are cooked thoroughly.

  2. Add fresh cilantro and serve over rice or quinoa if desired.

 

my favorite hot drinks for cold weather + fighting viruses naturally

 

Cold weather and “cold” weather call for hot drinks, don’t they?

So far, we’ve managed to avoid the worst of the flu bug that’s going around and I’m praying it stays that way – or at least doesn’t happen around the time I’m supposed to head to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip with two of my children.

Today I’m sharing three of my favorite hot drinks that are frequently in rotation plus at the end of the post, two of my favorite ways of fighting cold and flu viruses naturally.

 

 

Hot Lemon Ginger Cleansing Tea

For upset stomach or to help with detox, this lemon ginger cleansing tea is refreshing and soothing. I shared the recipe here in this post. Lemon boosts immunity, reduces indigestion and heartburn and soothes nerves. Ginger is inflammatory, encourages circulation and relaxes the intestinal tract which is why it helps with nausea.

 

 

 

Irish or English Breakfast Tea with Cinnamon

I’m a huge tea drinker, thanks to my English roots, and love flavored as well as black teas. But it wasn’t until I visited one of our local bakery and coffee shops that I was reminded that cinnamon with black tea is a rockstar combination. Cinnamon is inflammatory and contains antioxidants and also helps fight diseases and viruses.

There are two ways to make this: If you have loose leaf black tea, add a stick of cinnamon bark with the tea leaves while it is steeping. Or, if you’re using a tea bag, add a few dashes of cinnamon to your mug after removing the tea and stir thoroughly.

 

 

 

Green Matcha Tea

If you’ve never had matcha, it tastes like green tea (which it is!). But I like drinking it for its antioxidant, calming properties, yet it also improve energy and concentration. Occasionally, I’ll add in a splash of lime or lemon juice, but usually drink it straight up.

You can find matcha at Whole Foods or natural foods stores or you can get it here.

 

Besides these hot drinks, my favorite go to products for boosting my immunity and fighting virus are:

  • apple cider vinegar (ACV) Though I’ll occasionally sip a drink of diluted apple cider vinegar, I typically use it for sore throats by gargling with it. It’s most effective when used at the first sign of infection. If you’ve never tried apple cider vinegar before, it’s best to buy organic, raw ACV (Bragg’s is one of the brands I recommend). Cheaper, processed versions don’t have the same healing properties (and I think taste even worse LOL).

 

  • elderberry capsules Similar to ACV, elderberry capsules are best taken at the first sign of illness and are a natural way of boosting the immune system. I get mine through vitacost.com. If you want to see my other favorite products I buy at vitacost, click here to have it sent to your inbox.

 

  • essential oils My number one favorite is Thieves oil by Young Living which I get through a friend and my second favorite is Purification. I use both of these in our diffuser or apply to our skin. Another favorite for congestion is Olbas oil which usually can be found in natural foods stores. It contains a blend of oils including eucalyptus and I put it on our feet to suppress coughing, especially at night.

 

 

blueberry banana bread bars (vegan, no added sugar)

 

I love hard-working recipes – especially ones that can work as breakfast, dessert or a snack! And these blueberry banana bread bars are perfect for all three.

I have a particular soft spot for these since it’s one of the first recipes I tried (thanks to the inspiration of Angela’s muffin tops recipe at Oh She Glows) that didn’t require any added sugar. And didn’t end up a yucky gummy mess which can happen when you remove the dairy and the added sugar.

These blueberry banana bread bars are just one of the recipes featured in my 7-day plant-based refresh which you can sign up to receive for free here.

Not only do these offer a delicious way to use overripe bananas, but they are easy to make and can be made gluten free by using certified gluten free oats. Since they’re crowd pleasers, I’ve often brought them to potlucks and brunches.

Blueberry Banana Bread Bars
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

A versatile recipe that can be eaten as breakfast, dessert or a snack and is crowd-pleaser. Free of added sugar and can be made gluten free with the use of gluten-free oats.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1/2 c. date paste
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 2 c. rolled oats gluten free if needed
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

  2. Add bananas, date paste and coconut oil to a food processor and blend well.
  3. Add the oats, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and baking powder and blend well.
  4. Press mixture into a greased 8×8 glass baking dish, then top with blueberries, gently pressing the berries into the batter.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and the middle is firm, but yields slightly to the touch.

  6. Cool then cut.
Recipe Notes

If doubling the recipe, you will probably need to break up the steps further. Here’s what I do: First, coarsely blend all the oats and set aside in a large bowl. Then blend other ingredients per instructions above (without the oats). Next, stir the blended ingredients together with the oats in a large bowl. Continue with steps 4-6. I think this recipe works best with ripe to slightly overripe bananas.      *     If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using. 

 

 

 

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  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut: If you have a Whole Foods or natural foods store near by, check the bulk section! Or get it here.

new year’s Q&A

 

Since it’s the new year and I’ve had many new readers join me here, I thought it would be fun to share more about me and why I started eating a plant-based diet plus I’ll answer a few of the questions I get asked most often.

Before we dive into that, if you missed it last week and are looking to refresh your diet this year, you won’t want to miss what I shared in this post.

 

All right, now for the Q&A…

How long have you been eating a plant-based diet? Since May 2012

What caused you to make the switch? My dad was diagnosed with extensive heart disease. We were all shocked, although we shouldn’t have been given his family history. He was hoping to avoid surgery by going to an extremely low fat, plant-based diet and I wanted to support him. Also, my own cholesterol numbers weren’t the greatest – a fact I’d chosen to ignore since my 20’s. Although my dad ultimately needed surgery because of the severity of his blockages, I found that I loved eating this way and never looked back!

Why do you love it? I feel so much healthier – less fatigued, lighter (I literally lost weight), natural color came back to my skin and I find I appreciate the taste of food more now that I don’t have animal fats coating my taste buds.

Does your family eat this way? Sort of. They definitely eat a larger percentage of plant-based foods and meals, but also have meat and dairy several times a week. As much as I’d love them to go “all in,” I’ve learned that I can’t force it and try to do my best to make plant-based recipes they enjoy.

Does that mean you’re cooking two meals for every meal? Not at all! That would be exhausting. LOL I may do this occasionally, but most of the time I can cook meals that are easily customized to our tastes (like pizza) or I just “beef up” on the veggies while they have meat.

Why the term plant-based? This can be tricky. While “vegan” is the simpler and more common term, it often implies a lifestyle, not just a diet choice. I made this choice for my health and not as an animal rights activist, although I feel strongly that our food system is incredibly broken, especially in how it treats animals designated for food.

So do you only eat plants 100% of the time? No. I’d be lying if I said 100%. It’s more like 98-99%. Occasionally, I will have a bit of meat, especially if I’m on a mission trip, or can’t resist the goldfish crackers my children love. LOL Since I do this for my health, I’m not opposed to the rare bite of non-vegan foods.

 

What’s the hardest thing about sticking to a plant-based diet? Social situations. I believe eating is as much a social thing as it is about staying alive, so for anyone who switches to a diet that is largely different than what others are eating, it can feel awkward and frustrating. Thankfully, there are several ways to navigate these social situations (e.g. restaurants, potlucks, friend/family dinners etc.) and it’s even opened up opportunities to share about the benefits of plant-based eating with others.

What’s your number one tip for going plant-based? Stick with it. Making a change in diet is tough and it can take awhile for your taste buds to adjust and to find recipes you genuinely love to eat. For the first three months of going plant-based, I had to re-learn how to cook and was brought to tears many times out of frustration. But I found that because I felt so much better, I was motivated to keep going and finally got my groove back in the kitchen.