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.

 

 

easy black bean dip (vegan, dairy free, gluten free)

 

I have a gift for you today…an incredibly easy recipe for you to make and I bet you have all of the ingredients in your pantry. It’s been one of my favorites for years and is inspired by a recipe I found on the Whole Foods recipe site before I even made the transition to a plant-based diet: Black bean dip.

Although the “dip” word would make you think this is appetizer-only, I love making it for our main meal with a side of raw veggies and hummus! All of the “meaty” plant-based protein coming from the beans makes it hearty enough for that.

Because this black bean dip is quick and simple to pull together, I love saving it for Sundays (my low key cooking or no-cooking day) and for times when I’m up to my ears in life and/or have been cooking up a storm. You know, kind of like what will happen this weekend.

 

 

This black bean dip is made of only six ingredients and can be served with the traditional tortilla chips or you could try it with my sweet potato rounds if you have a little more time. Guacamole is an excellent side kick. You can get my basic guac recipe here or my new favorite spicy version here.

Because this recipe is so easy going, I rarely measure the ingredients when I’m whipping it up, but I’ve included suggested measurements for you here. It’s a recipe that works well for experimenting to adapt to your tastes, but if you do so, start with my suggestions and go slowly from there.

Bonus: You can make it a day ahead of time which also gives the flavors time to develop, though you might want to add a little extra salsa on the re-heating.

 

Easy Black Bean Dip
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This six-ingredient is simple to whip up and works well as an appetizer or main dish.

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cup black beans, cooked
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • torrilla chips for serving
  • guacamole on the side (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add garlic and onion to a medium saucepan with a little bit of water and saute over high heat until the onion is translucent, adding more water if needed to prevent burning.

  2. Reduce to medium-high heat and add in remaining ingredients. Mash beans slightly for a chunkier dip and more thoroughly for a smoother dip. Cook until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and heated through.

  3. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve with tortilla chips and/or sweet potato rounds and a side of guacamole, if desired.

 

 

 

 

loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito (vegan, dairy free, soy free, gluten free)

 

It always amazes me how hard it is to find a recipe that my entire family likes. I often get close with a 5 out of 6 thumbs up, but hitting a perfect score of 6 for 6 is maddeningly elusive. So imagine my surprise when this loaded sweet potato with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito was a clear winner.

Even with my daughter who doesn’t usually like bean dishes. Or my boys who prefer mild to spicy. Let’s pause while I celebrate with a hearty “ole.”

 

 

I love the contrasting flavors, textures and color of this dish…the sweetness with the spicy, the creaminess punctuated with a light crunchiness, the deep orange flesh of the sweet potato with the brilliant green of the avocado.

This recipe is extremely easy to pull together and is simply packed plant-powdered nutrition. Let me break it down:

  • The sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamins like A, B6 and C and carry a low glycemic index. And did you know you can eat their skins? You can! Just scrub them well before baking. I thought it would be weird to eat sweet potato skin at first, but I really like it!
  • The black bean sofrito boosts the protein along with the fiber in this dish. I learned the secret of yummy black bean sofrito when I was on a mission trip to Panama earlier this year…at each lunch and dinner while we were in the mountains, beans would be served (along with rice and some meat). I couldn’t get over how good the beans tasted and had to know what made them so flavorful. When I tried it after I got back home, I was extremely pleased with the results.
  • For the spicy gucamole, I wanted to do more than simply give it some heat – I wanted to sneak in some extra nutrients too which I accomplished by adding spinach. Were my kids any wiser? Nope!

 

 

If you want to make this for a weeknight but anticipate being tight on time, bake your sweet potatoes ahead of time. Although the sofrito cooks up quickly, to make things speedier, you also could make it ahead of time. You’ll want to make the spicy guacamole fresh, though, but it will take less than 10 minutes. While you’re making the guac, you can be re-heating the potatoes and sofrito.

 

loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guac and black bean sofrito
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 

A nutrient-dense meal that's easy to pull together and a beautiful contrast in flavors, texture and color.

Course: Appetizer, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 per person sweet potato, scrubbed
For the black bean sofrito
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dashes pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
For the spicy guacamole
  • 3 avocadoes, peeled and pitted
  • 4.5-6 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp, scant salt
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/3-1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, minced
  • dashes freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dashes dried chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a knife then in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.

For the black bean sofrito:
  1. Add the onion, garlic and tomato to a pot with a little water and cook over high heat until the onion is translucent. Add more water if needed to prevent the vegetables from sticking.

  2. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water is absorbed, using a potato masher to break up the beans slightly. For a creamier sofrito, add a little more water and adjust seasonings to taste.

For the spicy guac:
  1. Cut the avocado into a bowl and mash. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Make sure you save the avocado pit which can be added to any leftovers to prevent browning.

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • My daughter and I have a mild obsession with Jeff’s Natural’s jalapeno peppers which you can find here. Jeff uses purer ingredients than the canned kind and I love them in this spicy guacamole.

 

tuscan roasted tomatoes with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, nut free, gluten free)

As much as I love sharing the fun, creative recipes (like these matcha coconut lime energy bites or these weeknight tacos), I also love giving equal play to recipes that are meant for the every day or moments when you’re not sure what to throw together. Like these tuscan roasted tomatoes.

I came up with these lovelies one Sunday evening when we were going to have a mishmash of leftovers and family coming over at the last minute. Throwing together a medley of vegetables prepared in a number of ways is still one of my favorite things to do…it speaks of abundance and simplicity and letting my pickier (ahem) eaters load up on the veggies they prefer over the ones they don’t.

This is a great way to use up an abundance of tomatoes from your hardworking garden and takes only minutes to prep before sliding in the oven. With a hearty slice of toasted bread, you also could serve these as an appetizer and leftovers could easily be cooked down into a pasta sauce. The extra sesame parmesan can be saved for pasta or even soup recipes, like this one.

 

Tuscan Roasted Tomatoes with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Pulling together simple, fresh flavors with the transition of summer to fall in mind, these Tuscan Roasted Tomatoes come together easily as a casual side dish or hearty appetizer.

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • fresh tomatoes
  • roasted red pepper hummus
  • fresh basil, diced
  • salt & pepper
  • sesame seed parmesan
  • whole grain, hearty bread (optional)
For the sesame seed parmesan
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Rinse tomatoes and slice into rounds that are between 1/4" and 1/2" thick. Generally, plan around 1 tomato per person. Place tomato rounds onto a baking sheet. Add a generous spoonful of hummus to each tomato slice and spread. Place in a 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, add all sesame Parmesan ingredients to a food process or high speed blender and blend until the sesame seeds are crumbly and resemble Parmesan cheese.

  3. When the tomatoes are done, remove from oven and top with basil and a few sprinkles of sesame parmesan. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

  • If serving as an appetizer, cut bread into thick slices (about 1" thick), place on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the same oven as the tomatoes. Keep an eye on it though so it doesn't burn! Remove from oven when toasted and then top with a roasted tomato, the basil, sesame parmesan and salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  My go-to brand of hummus (both original and roasted red pepper) is Sabra.
  • Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

snack to school week :: more spinach trees! (nut free, sugar free, vegan)

As I was dreaming up this week of recipes for you, I had several goals in mind: the recipes had to be quick and easy to prepare, offered healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives to typical kid-geared snacks and had an element of fun to entice tiny palettes.

When it comes to fruits and sweeter veggies like carrots, this isn’t so hard. But greens like spinach are another matter.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! I’m mildly obsessed with it and cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s ridiculously easy, free of nuts, can also be make seed-free and takes an already healthy condiment to a new level.

Meet the “More Spinach Trees” snack.

You have two options for mixing up the spinach hummus dip. Either you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus for a leafy look.

Or place the hummus and spinach in a food processor and give it a whirl until the spinach is thoroughly incorporated and turns the hummus a light green color. While I love homemade hummus (you can find my favorite recipe here), I usually buy mine because it’s a time saver for me.

To assemble as the More Spinach Trees, slice some cucumber, spread on the spinach hummus dip and add a pretzel rod trunk. If you’re sending this to school, you can package each element separately and let your child assemble on their own. While it’s healthiest to leave the pretzel rods out all together, keep them in if it encourages your child to try the spinach hummus dip.

While I find it hard to notice a difference in taste or even texture when I’ve added the spinach, suspicious children may still balk at trying this (one of mine did). If that’s the case, start out with smaller amount and gradually increase it over time as they adjust to the new color.

If you try this, I would love to hear your feedback! Did your children like it? Or not?

 

More Spinach Trees!

A fun and easy way to boost the nutrients in an already healthy snack and sneak some extra greens into your child's diet...and your own too!

Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup regular hummus of your choice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed spinach
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • pretzel rods
Instructions
  1. For the "leafy" spinach hummus dip, finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus. For the blended green hummus, add the hummus and spinach to a food processor and blend the spinach breaks down and turns the hummus to a light green color.

  2. To assemble the "trees," spread the hummus on each slice of cucumber and place on a tray. Add a pretzel rod "trunk."

Recipe Notes

For pickier eaters, you may need to start off with smaller quantity of spinach and gradually work your way up. The spinach doesn't noticeably affect the taste or texture of the hummus, but the different appearance can cause little ones to be suspicious. 😉

One of the best tips for helping children accept vegetables and new flavors is one I encountered in a vegetarian cookbook several years ago: chop the veggies into smaller child bite-sited pieces. I’ve found I like doing this for myself too! For this dip, finely chop the spinach if you’re going to stir it in vs. blending it.

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I bought my pretzel rods at Trader Joe’s, but here’s a brand I like even better!
  • My go-to brand of hummus is made by Sabra which many grocery stores carry.