Monday, March 19, 2018

Plant Based Fajitas

Fajitas! They are back - I wasn't sure how they would turn out without meat, but these were a hit! With this recipe, we discovered a happy use for soy curls. We weren't quite sure how we would like them as a meat substitute, but they provide a nice mouth feel - similar to meat, but without the animal. This recipe can also be adapted to omit the soy curls if desired. 
They come together in approximately 15-20 minutes.  

Thanks once again to my friend Whitney from Plant Pure Nation who introduced us to soy curls. Although I had read about them, I was dubious and skeptical. However, we've been pleasantly surprised with the many different meals we have been able to produce with this ingredient.  

tumbling jerky

Tonight, we were craving fajitas, and loved how quickly these came together. 

2 cups soy curls
3 cups water
1 cup thinly sliced bell peppers
1 medium onion - thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon coconut milk cream (the solid cream at the top of a coconut milk can)
1 Tablespoon 100% maple syrup
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (divided)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke, or smoked paprika (divided)
3 Tablespoons taco seasoning  (divided)
2 Tablespoons Chile powder (divided)
2 Tablespoons Cumin powder (divided)
2 teaspoons salt (divided)
Corn Tortillas

Place soy curls in a bowl and cover with water, plus 1 inch. 
Add half of the taco seasoning, soy sauce, chile powder, cumin, salt, and liquid smoke to the water. Mix and allow to rehydrate for 15 minutes. 

While the soy curls re-hydrate, slice and prepare the vegetables. 

Heat a wok or frying pan on high, then add vinegar followed by the vegetables and the coconut creat. Toss and heat vegetables. 
Working quickly, squeeze water from soy curls and add to the vegetables. 
Add remaining spices, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and syrup. Season to taste (spice measurements are approximations - adjust to taste). 
Stir and heat just until soy curls are heated through. 

Serve in warm corn tortillas, topped with avocados or guacamole. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Plant Based Tamales - Oil and Lard Free

We experimented making tamales this weekend. We were thrilled to find that we could make them quickly with an Instapot. 
As with most whole food, plant based recipes, this recipe is time intensive and requires a couple of steps.  For best results, proceed in this order: 

Prepare Husks
Submerge corn husks in water - place a pot or plate on top of them to keep them submerged. Allow to soak for several hours while preparing the other steps. 

Red sauce 
10-15 Hot New Mexico Chile Pods with stems and seeds removed (they are dried and in bags) 
3 c. water +/-
3 whole tomatoes
1 whole onion (3/4 chopped)
1 tsp oregano
1 -2 cloves garlic
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt

Boil chilies, and tomatoes until soft, and then blend together along with a 1/4 of an onion and 1 tsp oregano and a clove or two of garlic, and salt. Strain with a sieve. Mix in tomato paste.  Set aside. 

1 medium sized sweet potato (cooked, or microwaved for 6-10 minutes, then peeled)
1 can black beans (drained - juices reserved)
1 small can whole green chiles, drained and diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can jackfruit in brine, drained and chopped
1.5 Tablespoons 100% maple syrup
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 cups Red Sauce (see above recipe)

Saute onion and green chiles to soften. Add garlic, black beans and sweet potato. Use a bean or potato masher to combine mixture. 

Add red sauce, one cup at a time, adjusting for consistency. Add syrup, cocoa powder, and salt to taste - mix well. 
Mix in jackfruit. Set aside until ready to assemble tamales. 

6 cups maseca flour
6 cups vegetable broth (more as needed, or water)
1/2 cup reserved black bean juice
1-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons chile powder

Mix dry ingredients together. Then add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly - the consistency should be like peanut butter. 

Additional Tamale Fillings:
Roasted red peppers, pitted prunes, green olives, black olives, raisins, etc. 

To Assemble Tamales: 
Tear several corn husks into strips to tie tamales with. 
Place steam basket into instapot, and add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the instapot. 

Place corn husk onto a flat surface with the widest, flat edge at the bottom.
Place a dollop of masa one inch above bottom of the corn husk. 
Spread out to 1-2 inches (depending on size of husks). 
Add filling to the middle, and additional desired fillings. Additional red sauce may be added if desired. 

Lightly press edges of the masa together then fold and wrap husk, overlapping sides. 
Fold bottom section up. Secure with strip and tie, leaving flat edge open. 

Place into a steam basket in the instapot, standing with open side up. 

Once instapot is filled, close lid, close the vent, and steam on low for 20 minutes. Allow to release steam naturally for at least 10 minutes. 

Remove tamales, and allow to cool. 
They will continue to firm up as they cool. 

Store in airtight container and refrigerate. 

*Guatemalan tamales traditionally have a prune/plum and a green olive which provide both a sweet and sour flavor. 

Rich Plant based Brownie Bites (Gluten, Dairy, Oil & Sugar free - and delicious!)

A friend introduced me to these and I couldn't believe how rich they are - and how much they taste just like baked brownies. I love that they are plant based, super quick and only require a few ingredients.

1.5 cup walnuts
1 cup dates (soft, or soaked in hot water for 15 minutes to soften and drained)
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder (or cocoa nibs - blended to powder in a vitamix)
1/2 - 1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
A dash (or two) cinnamon
A dash (or two) cayenne pepper 
(this brings out the flavor and adds depth and richness)

Blend ingredients together in blender (such as a vitamix) until it forms a mass. 
Add water by the teaspoon if needed to slightly moisten. 

Scoop out of blender.

Shape into brownie sized bites

2 (Or 3) ingredient plant based yogurt

Oh my! I honestly thought that I would never eat yogurt again when I adopted the WFPB lifestyle. While there are a couple of commercially made vegan yogurts, I haven't been able to find any that don't have sugar, oils, natural or artificial flavors in them. 
And 1 year and 6 months without yogurt can be hard on a girl who loves yogurt.

My friend Whitney from Plant Pure Nation told me that they had a recipe for plant based yogurt, and she introduced me to a local shop where I could find the soy milk, and she helped me find the right acidophilus capsules.  
I love that this recipe is either two simple ingredients, or three - if you want it sweetened. 
We tweaked the recipe (oh so slightly), and hope that you love it too! 

I love that this recipe takes a mere 5 minutes to put together, and then cooks overnight and is ready in the morning! Super easy!

**********************************UPDATED RECIPE*******************************
1 carton Westsoy unsweetened plain soymilk,
2/3 cup raw cashews
4 acidophilus capsules

Blend cashews and 1 cup of soymilk in a high powered blender (such as a Vitamix - if you don't have one, soak the cashews in water for 4 hours, then drain and proceed as directed)
Add contents from acidophilus capsules to the blender.
Add remaining soymilk to the blender.
Mix on low, just until everything has been blended together.
Pour into glass jars and place in Instapot, using the yogurt setting.

The cashews in this recipe provide a creamier yogurt, which can also double for a sour cream if not sweetened.

Besides an instapot electric pressure cooker, here are the three ingredients you'll need

***Note, for this recipe, you do need an instapot electric pressure cooker (it has a yogurt setting)

Acidophilus tablets 

I found these at

We find this jam at Trader Joe's - it is sweetened with fruit juice rather than processed sugars

This is the soy milk that you need - the ingredients are...wait for it....
Water, and soy beans.
Yep, that's it. 

Pour all of the soy milk into a mixing bowl.
Empty the contents of 4 acidophilus capsules into the soy milk.
Mix thoroughly

Place a spoonful (or two) of jam at the bottom of 5-6 half pint jars

Pour soy milk mixture into jars, and place into the bottom of the instapot

Cover with the lid, leave the vent open and set the yogurt setting for 10 hours. 
This is great to make overnight.

Whey (liquid) may form - this can be discarded or mixed back in. 

Serve with maple syrup, fruit, granola, etc. 
If made without the jam, this is also a great sour cream substitute in cooking.

Granola, maple syrup and yogurt bowl

**Special thanks to Plant Pure Nation and Recipes for help with this recipe
**Special note - make sure that your instapot rubber seal, and the lid are free of any odors. We learned (the hard way) that the yogurt will absorb any flavors or odors from the pot. Curry flavored yogurt was not a hit in our home! 

Plantains a la "Gloria"

I probably shouldn't talk about how my husband and I ate the entire pan of these - inhaled! The other inhabitants of our home were only slightly "put out". 

When I lived in Guatemala, I fell in LOVE with plantains, or platanos as we called them. It didn't matter how they were cooked...we would be walking down the street and we would catch wafts of air, full of sweet platains. Then, we would have plantains on the mind. Mmmmmm
Baked, fried, boiled, microwaved, black & moldy (which makes them super sweet), green or in between - it doesn't matter how you cook them, plantains are super versatile and delicious! 

This plantain recipe is a knock off of a treat Guatemalan friends made for me while I lived there - with a couple of my own twists. 

For this recipe, you will want ripe plantains. If you can't find ripe ones, you'll have to be patient. You can put them in a brown paper bag and in a cupboard for several days (or weeks) so that they can ripen. 
To test for ripeness, they should be soft to touch, almost to the extent of a banana that you would throw out for being too soft - almost. 
They may also be black and a little moldy on the outside - this is okay, softness is the key indicator (just depending on how they have ripened, they may get black, and they may not). 

4-6 medium to large plantains
1/2 cup coconut milk
1-2 Tablespoons coconut sugar, or 100% maple syrup
Ground Cardamon

Trim both ends of the plantains, then run a knife along the length of one side. Use this slice, to open and peel plantain. 
Slice into slight diagonals just shy of 1/2" slices. 
Place in the bottom of a baking dish.
Sprinkle with salt - think of salted caramel, the salt makes the sweet "pop".
Sprinkle with cinnamon, and ground cardamon.
Pour coconut milk over, then sprinkle with coconut sugar. 
Cover with foil, and bake at 350* for 30 minutes. 
Remove foil and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes. 

*Fresh pear slices can also be added to this treat