Vegan Mother’s Day Recipes: Cinnamon French Toast & Potato Shallot Frittata

 

How do we do it, moms? Day in, day out, we are master jugglers, keeping things running (relatively) smoothly. Can you imagine if we took a few days off? I mean completely off? Result: sheer mayhem.

We can at least take time off for Mother’s. I sure plan to do so. Other years, I’ve continued to carry on with most of the things I need to do in a day. This past year I’ve learned to treat myself better. Some self-care. Whether that means spending a little money on myself, or spending a little time with myself. It also includes being aware when I jump in to fix or take care of something, or checking in when I’m feeling unnecessary guilt.  I’m not entirely zen with, but I’ve definitely grown.

So, this Sunday, I may do a little shopping and then just hang out with the family. We have our wee girl’s  birthday party on Saturday, followed by her actual birthday on Monday (I labored all Monther’s Day with her 6 years ago!), and then my book officially launches on Wednesday! Indeed, I shall enjoy some me time on Sunday.

I don’t expect the kiddos and hubby to make a breakfast or brunch for me. Actually, I’d prefer if they didn’t. Not sure I want to look at the mess or how long it takes them to tidy it up. 😉 But, if you have cooks in your family, here’s hoping they cook up something special for you this Mother’s Day! Or, perhaps you might like to plan a brunch for your own mum. If so, I have two incredibly delicious vegan recipes for you!

For those that enjoy a sweeter breakfast, I’m sharing my Cinnamon French Toast recipe from Plant-Powered Families. If you prefer a savory breakfast, you’ll enjoy this Potato Shallot Frittata from Let Them Eat Vegan.

If you like a bit of sweet and savory… get your order into the kitchen. I say you deserve both.

Cinnamon French Toast by Dreena Burton www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #soyfree #vegan with #nutfree option

Cinnamon French Toast (recipe from Plant-Powered Families)

recipage link to print/share

I remember French toast fondly from childhood. It was the “treat” breakfast we had as kids, probably far easier for our parents to make than pancakes, and a great way to use up odds and ends of bread. This version is much healthier than what I ate as a kid, and I tell you our girls love it just the same.

1 cup plus 1–2 tablespoons plain or vanilla unsweetened nondairy milk

1 tablespoon white chia seeds 1/3 cup soaked and drained cashews (see note for nut-free option)

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4–1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Sliced bread of choice (see note)

In a blender or using a handheld blender, puree the milk (starting with 1 cup; see note), chia, cashews, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and sea salt until very smooth and thick (it will get thicker as it sits a little while and the chia swells). Prepare a nonstick skillet by wiping over with a touch of oil (you need a nonstick skillet, or this will be a sticky event!). Turn heat to high for a few minutes to heat up the pan, then reduce to medium/medium-high. Dip a slice of bread into the batter. Turn over and let it sit in the chia mixture for a few moments to soak, then remove and place in the skillet. Repeat with other slices, frying 2–3 pieces or more at a time, depending on the size of your skillet. Fry for 3–5 minutes on each side, until light brown. Keep the heat high enough to get a good sear/crust on the bread, but reduce if it’s scorching. Note that the slices will be sticky until they are ready to be flipped, so be patient. Repeat until all bread is used. Serve with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.

Serving Idea: Another fun serving idea is to make sandwiches out of the French toast, slathering some nut butter between two slices, then serving with maple syrup. Serves 3-4.

Nut-Free Option: Replace 1/3 cup of cashews with 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds.

Bread Note: You may use 6–10 slices of bread, depending on the size of the slices.

Milk Note: After the batter sits for a few minutes it can become quite thick. You can stir through another 1–2 tablespoons of milk if it has gotten too thick with standing (if you have less than half the batter left, use just 1 tablespoon).

Potato Shallot Frittata by Dreena Burton www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #vegan

Potato, Shallot, and Pepper Frittata (recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan)

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This might better be named ‘Frit-not-ta’, since this quiche-like dish contains no eggs, yet has a great texture from the cashews and tofu. The oat bran topping lends a slight crunchy texture.

For sauté:

1-2 tbsp water

¾ cup shallots, chopped

2 cups red or Yukon gold potato, cut in small cubes (peeling optional)

¼ tsp sea salt Pinch black pepper

1 – 1 ¼ cups combination of red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, chopped

Base mix:

½ cup raw cashews ¾ cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond or soy preferred) (+ another 1-2 tbsp to reserve)

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 large clove garlic 2 tsp brown rice miso (or other light miso)

½ tsp ground mustard 1/2 tsp (touch scant) sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pkg (12 oz/350g) extra-firm tofu

1/4 tsp dill seeds

½ tsp agar powder

2 tsp fresh thyme or oregano, chopped

Topping:

¼ cup oat bran (use gf certified for gluten-free option, or substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Couple pinches sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. In a skillet over medium heat, add the water shallots, potatoes, sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked through and golden, about 15-20 minutes (add a teaspoon or two of water if potatoes are sticking, to deglaze the pan). Add the bell pepper and cook through for another couple of minutes. Meanwhile, in a blender (see note), add the cashews, milk, lemon juice, garlic, miso, ground mustard, salt and pepper, tofu, dill seeds, and agar. Blend until smooth and creamy. Once vegetables are cooked, transfer to a bowl and stir in the tofu mixture (scrape out as much of the tofu batter as possible, and use another 1-2 tbsp of milk if needed to help loosen the mixture), as well as the fresh thyme/oregano. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled glass pie plate (or other baking dish), and smooth out.  In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over top of fritatta.  Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, then set oven to broil and cook for another couple of minutes to crisp up the topping slightly. Remove from oven and let cool about 10-15 minutes, then cut in wedges or scoop portions to serve. Serves 4-6. Note: I use a Blendtec for the pureeing, and so it easily and quickly smooths out the tofu along with the cashews and other ingredients. If you don’t have a Blendtec, you will need to first blend the cashews with the milk and lemon juice until smooth, using an immersion blender or standard blender. Then, add the tofu and remaining ingredients to the blender (or food processor, if having trouble smoothing with the blender) and blend until very smooth.

Do you have a favorite Mother’s Day recipe or food tradition? Please share!

p.s. I have a VERY special Mother’s Day giveaway coming up next week. Hint: Both these recipes use a blender! A new fancy appliance for mom’s day would be awesome, huh? 

If you need ideas for mom’s day gifts, maybe consider a little plant-powered love, or cookbook.

Happy Mother’s Day!

x Dreena

photo credit thanks to: Nicole Axworthy

Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Stew

Often times, you guys remind me of my own recipes. When I get an email or tweet from you about a recipe you are loving, I’m reminded to share more about those dishes, right here.

And I appreciate those notes, especially right now! Between preparing for my book launch in May, reviewing final book edits, preparing for Christmas, and managing endless momma to-do’s… my mind is scattered. Terribly scattered. (Moms, please reassure me that you are feeling the same out there with holiday prep!)

When I feel scattered like that, there is something grounding about posting a “tried and true” recipe.

Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Stew #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree by Dreena Burton

Last week I heard from a few of you about this Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Stew recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan. It’s a great one-pot plant-based dish that is very nourishing. Though the ingredient list is long, it doesn’t mean the recipe is difficult. Once you assemble the spices, the rest of the prep is rather easy.

Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Stew by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree

This stew is also the kind of dish that hits the spot when we are eating more processed foods and sweets during the holidays. The warm, earthy spices and nutrient-dense ingredients help us feel more balanced when our diet doesn’t feel so balanced. Healthy comfort food, I guess! Adult comfort food, for sure. (I should mention that this is not one of my kids’ favourite recipes, they aren’t very fond of the notes of fennel and curry. Just a heads up if you have little ones – you might need to top with guac.) :)

This is good straight up, hot out of the pot with a sprinkle of chopped pistachios (shown), or chopped almonds or some pine nuts. It’s also delicious with a little drizzle of Maple-Balsamic Sauce…. just a touch, a little goes a long way.

Enjoy the recipe, guys… and hang in there with the holiday prep. I’ll try to. 😉

x Dreena

Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Stew by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree

Warmly Spiced Quinoa Chickpea Stew

(vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) link to print/share

This dish is a cross between a casserole and a stew. It is cooked stove-top, much like a stew, but is much more like a casserole in texture. The quinoa and chickpeas are simmered with warm, earthy spices, and balanced with the sweetness of dried figs and sautéed fennel. Serves 4-5 or more depending on accompaniments.

1-2 tbsp water
1 cup onion, chopped
¾ – 1 cup red pepper, chopped (see note)
1- 1 ½ cups fennel bulb, chopped (first remove core and stalks from bulb) (see note)
3 large cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fennel seed
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed (see note)
2 cups chickpeas (rinsed and drained if using canned)
2 – 2 ¼ cups water (+ another 2-4 tbsp if needed, see directions)
1 dried or fresh bay leaf
1/3 cup dried black mission figs, chopped (or dried apricots, chopped or can use raisins, whole)
½ cup pine nuts or pistachios (optional)

In a large pot over medium heat, add the water, onion, red pepper, fennel, garlic, salt, pepper, curry powder, fennel seed, paprika, dried basil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir through, cover, and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine, bring to a boil and let boil for a couple of minutes. Then add quinoa, chickpeas, water (start with 2 cups) and bay leaf and stir through. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium-low, cover and let cook for 18-22 minutes. Once quinoa is cooked, and most of the liquid is absorbed, stir in dried figs, remove from heat and let sit for 3-4 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed but quinoa isn’t tender, add the extra ¼ cup of water and cook another few minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve, with a sprinkling of nuts if desired.

Red Pepper Note: If you don’t have red pepper, you can substitute chopped carrot or winter squash like butternut, though the red pepper adds a nice color contrast with the other ingredients.

Quinoa/Water Note: If the liquid is absorbed but quinoa isn’t tender, add the extra ¼ cup of water and cook another few minutes.

Cooking Tip: After this dish is cooked, keep it covered before and after serving portions. It will get a little dry if left uncovered. Also, as it stands, the heat from the pot will continue to cook the quinoa and so it will absorb more water and get drier. If needed, have some water boiled in your kettle, so you can stir a couple of tablespoons before getting a second helping!

Photo credit: Gratitude to my buddy Emma for these beautiful food photos.

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato

This week I realized it’s the middle of August. I haven’t posted an ice cream recipe. #gasp!

If you know my work, you know ice cream is my favorite treat. Favorite. If there is another dessert to be had – cake, pie, cookies – it better be paired with ice cream!

In my early cooking days I watched a lot of Bobby Flay cooking episodes (I learned a lot about flavor combinations from his and a few other key cooking shows). I’ve heard him express a similar sentiment about ice cream, that he would choose ice cream anytime over any other dessert. Yes. Exactly.

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

I do buy a lot of vegan ice creams. Coconut Bliss is one of my favorite brands (hello salted caramel chocolate), but I’m also very fond of Amy’s, So Delicious, and Nada Moo. There’s something special about making your own ice cream, though. It tastes – well – homemade. You can customize to your sweetness and ingredient preferences, and you can taste the love!

Tricky thing is most homemade ice cream recipes require an ice cream maker, and many of us don’t have this appliance (or we may not want to pull it out any given day)! I have a full ice cream chapter in LTEV, but most use the ice cream maker. This Chocolate Gelato needs no ice cream maker. It benefits from a high-speed blender, but more of us in the vegan and plant-based world have a rambo blender!

This is also one of those gem recipes that just “came together”. I tested it one day as a pudding, throwing a few ingredients together, and using dates as the sweetener (with my chocolate chia pudding in mind). It literally took 5 minutes to make. I decided to freeze it, just to see how it would turn out. To my delight it froze beautifully.  With 5 simple ingredients, and 5 minutes of prep (excepting freezing time), I was happy to retest. And retest. And retest. 😉

I think I’ve said enough. Time to make the ice cream! Happy scooping…

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato - by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen. #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Chocolate Gelato

ReciPage to print/share

This is by far the easiest frozen dessert I’ve ever made. It doesn’t require an ice cream maker, and it’s still scoop-able after freezing! It tastes so good after blending, you can opt to enjoy as a chocolate mousse or pudding straight away – or freeze to a soft-set for gelato.

1 cup refrigerated coconut cream (from can of regular coconut milk, see note)
1 cup (packed) pitted dates (see note)
1 cup frozen banana pieces
3 TB cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder or seeds from one vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (see note)

In a high-speed blender (I use Blendtec and the twister jar), combine all ingredients (see note if using a standard blender). Puree until very smooth. Transfer to a container to freeze (see note for mousse/pudding ideas). It will take 4-5 hours to freeze to a firm set, but will soft-set like a gelato in less time (about 2-3 hours). Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Coconut Milk Note: Use regular coconut milk (rather than light) from a can in this recipe. Before using refrigerate it overnight, or for a few days. The thick cream will rise to the top and be easy to scoop and measure. Use only the thick cream.

Date Note: Dates must be soft to easily puree. Some pitted dates can be old and dry. If your dates aren’t soft, try presoaking them in non-dairy milk for a half-hour or so until they soften.

Vanilla Note: I prefer the flavor of vanilla seeds or pure ground vanilla bean, but you can also use vanilla extract if you want to add that touch of flavor.

Blender Note: A standard blender may have difficulty churning the dates and frozen bananas into a smooth mix. You might want to first process the bananas and dates in a food processor, adding a small amount of the milk and then transferring to a blender to achieve a smoother puree.

Idea: As a mousse, try serving topped with fresh fruit or layered in a parfait glass with Vanilla Cashew Yogurt!

Share your feedback anytime about this recipe, love to hear from you!

And thanks to Emma for assisting with food photos!

Vanilla Cashew Yogurt – vegan, soy-free, gluten-free

Hi kids!

It feels like forever since I last posted. If you could see a glimpse of my life, well, I’m not going to pretend I’m keeping it all together in fine fashion. With the girls having summer break, puppy training, doing the photo shoot for the cover of “Plant-Powered Families” (and twice!), a couple of family health incidents (everything’s ok now), and editing my book… it’s been crazytown!

And the editing, oh the editing. So. Sloooooow.

Vanilla Cashew Yogurt - from Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen - #vegan #soyfree #glutenfree #dairyfree

But I won’t drone on about all that. Wait. I have. 😉 Well then! I’ll now stop and get too the yummy goods. Because I’ve had these pretty photos and recipe ready to share for far too long.

We’ve been in a breakfast rut lately interchanging whole-grain waffles with oatmeal, always paired with green smoothies. I haven’t been testing a lot of breakfast recipes, and we are in this summer haze of changing schedules and seemingly endless disorganization. But, when I do break out of the waffle/oatmeal breakfast rut, the girls are especially giddy.

Vanilla Cashew Yogurt - from Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen - #vegan #dairyfree #soyfree #glutenfree

These Vanilla Cashew Yogurt parfaits are an especially easy and fast breakfast treat. They look so elegant but really quite simple to make. You can prepare the yogurt the day before, and then layer your favorite fruits into parfaits the next morning. Put them in special cups or parfait glasses and the kiddos think it’s very fancy. (My wee girl said “this is the best day ever“!) :)

The parfaits start with Vanilla Cashew Yogurt. When I wrote LTEV I used storebought vegan yogurts in several of the recipes – the Creamed Cheese Brownies, the Gluten-Free Chocolate Yogurt Cake, and the Banana Butter Pie (I have GOT to get that recipe and photos up for you)! I went a little overboard offering allergy-friendly and storebought substitutions with LTEV, so I decided to include a homemade yogurt recipe.

This Vanilla Yogurt is not exactly like storebought brands. It’s not cultured with probiotics. What it does offer is the characteristic tang and texture of a plain or vanilla non-dairy yogurt. While it doesn’t include the priobiotics, you can easily add your own probiotics when eating. (I add probiotics to storebought vegan yogurts all the time!). Just open a capsule of whatever probiotic you are using, and stir it into the yogurt.

Enjoy this yogurt straight up or as a topping for granola, baked goods, or to layer in breakfast parfaits. Here, they are layered with fresh kiwi, nectarines, and blueberries. Many other fruits could be used, and in the fall an apple/pear/orange combination would be tremendous! You could also layer in homemade granola for an even heartier breakfast (or snack).

The recipe follows. If you’ve already tried it, please share you how you’ve enjoy it.

Vanilla Cashew Yogurt - from Dreena Burton, plant-poweredkitchen -#vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #soyfree

Vanilla Cashew Yogurt from Let Them Eat Vegan

ReciPage to link/print recipe

This cashew-based yogurt is an excellent substitute for commercially prepared soy, coconut, and other non-dairy yogurts in recipes.  Plus, it’s tasty straight off a spoon!

1 cup presoaked raw cashews

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (preferably organic)

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp lemon juice (see note)

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1/3 cup non-dairy milk (or more to thin if desired; but keep to 1/3 cup for use in recipes)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract OR 1/4 – 1 /2 tsp vanilla bean powder

pinch salt

In a high-powered blender, puree all ingredients until very smooth.  If using a standard blender, this may take a few minutes, and scraping down the sides a few times throughout.  Serve, or store in an airtight container.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Kid-Friendly Notes:

  • I created this yogurt primarily as a substitute for premade yogurts in my recipes (ex: BF Blueberry Muffins,  Fresh Orange Cake). As such, it isn’t overly sweet. Feel free to make it a little more fun for your little ones, by stirring in extra maple syrup, or try a few spoonfuls of a berry, peach, or other fruit jam.
  • Also note that this yogurt is nutritious for little ones that might not otherwise eat nuts or nut butters because of textural issues – nuts being too hard, and nut butters too sticky. This recipe brings cashews into a pudding-like form that can you can customize with extra flavor and sweetness!

If This Apron Could Talk:

  • Use 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice for use in recipes, and if you’d like it tangier for eating straight, add the extra lemon juice to taste.
  • Probiotics Note: Feel free to add probiotics (by breaking open acapsule), and stir into this yogurt.

Shout-out again to Emma Potts for these exceptionally delicious photographs! I’ll be back soon (fingers crossed) with a Summer Chickpea Salad!

xx’s

Dreena

Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers topped with “Almonnaise”

Fourth of July and Canada Day (July 1st) seem to launch summer – the food, the picnics, BBQs, and kids breaking from school. For us, summer essentially started two weeks ago. Our teachers went on strike, so the kids abruptly left school two weeks early. Our girls will be going into grades 8, 5, and kindergarten in September. Our eldest had her grade 7 graduation this year, and our youngest her preschool graduation. Milestones. There’s been a lot going on to wrap up our school year, and I’ve enjoyed some simpler with the girls these past couple of weeks. (Not completely simple as we just got a pup, more on that in another post!) :)

With the kids home unexpectedly early, training a new pup, and also getting ready for the cover shoot for my next book (this Sunday, more on that in another post too), I’ve really enlisted their help with more work around the house, including some of the food prep. The older girls mostly, as it’s far more productive, and they are really curious about ingredients and the process. For instance, one of their favorite lunches is a quinoa bowl. I usually speedily prepare it, but lately I’ve had them take turns. As busy as it can be in the kitchen (we don’t have a ton of counterspace), it’s really enjoyable. Feeling in the moment with them, enjoying the simplicity of preparing easy, tasty, healthy food. That’s been lovely. Mind you, there’s a little competition going on regarding whose quinoa tastes best! Geez! Well, better than squabbling over toys.

We also tried a new burger recipe, discussing what ingredients and flavors might work together well. Eldest girl is quite artistic so she was drawing characters on our recipe plan. That recipe still needs some development. 😉 But this burger recipe does not! These Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers are tucked away in the burgers chapter in LTEV. I wanted to show people in that chapter just how fantastically delicious whole foods vegan burgers can be! Our family loves these, and I think the kids quite enjoy the small bites of sweet apple inside the otherwise very savory burger (as do I). Don’t skip the apple, I promise it works!

Lentil Walnut Burgers with Fresh Apple

Along with the burgers, I’m sharing my recipe “Almonnaise”. It’s a fresh take on mayonnaise, made by blending presoaked almonds with a few essential seasonings. No, it doesn’t taste quite like mayonnaise. Nor like vegennaise. It tastes different, but I think that different is better. With a creamy, rich texture and more-ish flavor that you expect from mayonnaise – just fresher and healthier. Scrumptious on veggie burgers and sandwiches, but also wonderful in green wraps, baked spuds, and wherever you’d like a dollop of creamy/salty/rich sauce. I love it, but then those of you that have LTEV know that I am a little saucy.

These burgers will be a hit year-round, and especially for your Fourth of July and Canada Day BBQs and celebrations. Enjoy! (p.s. If you’re looking for a festive dessert, this pie was a hit for many folks last year.)

Lentil Walnut Burgers with "Almonnaise"

Lentil Walnut Burgers (link to print/share)

These savory burgers will surprise you with little bites of sweetness, courtesy of fresh apple.  Plus, they hold together quite well, without being too starchy or heavy. Makes 9-11 patties.

1 tbsp olive oil or water (for saute, see note for skipping saute and cooking onions/garlic with lentils)

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

3 medium-large cloves garlic

1/8 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper (generous is good)

2 cups cooked green lentils (will need about ¾ cup dry lentils, see note)

1/2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (omit for wheat/gluten-free version or use a gluten-free vegan worcestershire)

1 ½ tbsp mild miso (I use Genmai brown rice Miso)

1 tsp dried thyme (or 2-3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves)

3/4 tsp dried sage

½ tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp sea salt

¾ – 1 cup ground steel cut oats (or ¾ – 1 cup rolled or quick oats; see note for firmer burgers) (use gf-certified oats for gluten-free option)

3/4 cup raw walnuts (or can toast to enhance the flavor)

1 cup apple (firm, crisp apple like Gala, Fuji, or Yellow Delicious), peeled and diced (in small cubes) – *toss with a squeeze of lemon juice (see note)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the water/oil. Add the add onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and let cook 7-8 minutes until onions have softened.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the cooked lentils, worcestershire sauce, miso, thyme, sage, basil and salt, and blend through.  When onion mixture is ready, add this to the food processor and puree through again, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the oats and walnuts, and pulse through a few times to break up the walnut (but not fully pulverize, leave in a rough chop).  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Add apple and mix through until well combined.  At this point, you can refrigerate mixture until ready to fry in patties (refrigerating for at least 1⁄2 hour will make it firmer and easier to form). Take scoops of the mixture and form into patties with your hands. In a non-skillet over medium-high heat (use a wipe of oil unless you have a very good non-stick pan), add the patties, flatten gently on the pan, and fry for 6-9 minutes on each side, until golden and a crust has developed; flip them over only once or twice (the second side will cook quicker than the first).

Serving Suggestions:  Instead of whole-wheat burger buns, try serving in pitas, or a folded whole-grain tortilla with your favorite fixings!  Try a dollop of “Raw-nch Dressing”, p<>, or a large romaine salad tossed with “Classic Caesar Dressing”, p.<>.

Saute Note: Some days you might want to skip the step of sautéing the onions and garlic.  If you’re having one of those days, simply toss the onion and garlic in with the dry lentils and water (see lentil cooking note below), and cook through while the lentils simmer.  You can omit the oil and salt, and simply add a titch more salt with the puree (lightly round the ¼ tsp salt in the pureed mix).

Leftovers? Use leftover patties in sandwiches, much like a pate, or crumble and add to other fixings in a pita or wrap sandwich.

Oats Note: For ground steel cut oats, simply add steel cut oats to a food processor or blender and process until very fine, like a coarse flour.  If you don’t have steel cut oats, you can substitute quick oats for the ground steel cut oats.  These burgers form patties that will hold together, but are still fairly soft.  For firmer burgers, add another ¼ – 1/3 cup of oats.

Lentils Note: If cooking lentils yourself, use about 3/4 cup dry lentils to about 1 ¾  – 2 cups water.  Add a bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer covered for about 35 minutes or longer, until lentils are tender and the water is mostly absorbed.  If the lentils are tender but there is extra water, either drain off the water, or remove cover and simmer until water has evaporated).  Of course, feel free to use canned or packaged cooked lentils in a pinch!

Apple Note: You can also grate the apple for the mixture if you prefer.  Use a large-holed grater, and then toss the grated apple with the lemon juice as per directions. Also, if refrigerating the mix for more than ½ – 1 hour, reserve the apples.  This mixture can be refrigerated up to a day or two in advance, however, the apples will lose their texture and taste if they sit in the mixture that long.  So,  if preparing burgers in advance, you can prepare the entire mixture and refrigerate, and then stir in the chopped apple later, before getting ready to pan-fry the patties.

‘Almonnaise’ (link to print/share)

This thick, rich sauce can easily take the place of mayo for your favorite burgers or in sandwiches.  You might just find yourself topping it on just about everything, from baked spuds to pasta, beans and rice, or just a big ol’ dollop on a raw salad.  Make a double-batch (see note); it is that good! Makes about 1 cup, single-batch.

¾ cup soaked (and drained) raw almonds (see notes)

1 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice

¼ tsp dill seed (or ¼ scant celery seed), or omit either, see note

¼ tsp ground mustard (optional, see note)

¼ + 1/8 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup + 1-3 tbsp water

optional: 1-2 tbsp neutral flavor oil (ex: organic almond, avocado oil – omit for oil-free,  add another splash of water if needed)

Using a blender or immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all ingredients (starting with 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of water) until very, very smooth, scraping down sides as needed.  (A high-powered blender works best to achieve a smooth consistency, but a standard blender or immersion blender can step in, just takes a little longer to smooth.)  If texture is very thick, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water (or more, if needed).  I like this mixture fairly thick, so if you want to thin it out more, go ahead and add more water until you have your desired consistency.

Almonds Note:  Soaking almonds makes them softer for pureeing, and will give a little creamier consistency (plus make the blending easier). If you don’t have time to soak the almonds, go ahead and still use ¾ cup of raw almonds – and just add more water.  You will need to start with ½ cup, and then add another tablespoon or two if needed to get the mixture blended and thinned out a little. I use raw almonds that have the skins intact, so this ‘naise has some flecks of color from the almond skins.  If you don’t want this color, feel free to use blanched almonds, or remove the almond skins after soaking (it’s easy, they slip off)!

Double-Batch Note: The blender has an easier time working through this mixture if you double the batch.  It’s not essential, but if you think you will use it up within 4-5 days, consider a double whammy!

Kid-Friendly:  I love this ‘naise best with the dill seed and also the dried mustard, but our kids like it without the dill (or celery seed) and dried mustard.  Also, our children like the addition of just 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast to this mix – give it a try!

Another shout-out to Emma Potts for these mouthwatering photos!

Do you have any inventive burger toppings? Share your fave toppings and inspire others too! 

Artichoke and White Bean Dip

 

Ever taste something, love it, and later discover that it contained an ingredient that you were pretty darn sure you didn’t like?

If you’re a parent, you may have intentionally done this to ‘sneak’ in a particular food with your kiddos. But, ever have the experience where it happens naturally? Just serving the food and forgetting… if even for a rare but blissful moment… that one of your kiddos might reject it because it contains ____ or ____ or (go ahead, fill in the blanks)!

Artichoke and White Bean Dip, from Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton

Yes, us mommas are well acquainted with picky eaters food preferences. With our own three girls, there are dozens of foods that one likes and the other does not. Our list includes berries (my long-time readers already know this one!), olives, asparagus, mangoes, red peppers, and mushrooms for starters. Sometimes the food preferences shift one year to the next. Unfortunately, artichokes have been on this list for some time.

I love artichokes. So does hubby, and our eldest daughter. Our youngest is in a particularly picky stage (oh joy) and our 9 year old has never taken a liking to artichokes. I don’t use them as often as I’d like in weekly meals for this reason, and yet every time I do use them I think “why am I not using artichokes more often, I love them?“! But I know why, I don’t want to pick them out of servings or see them go to waste.

Well, when I created this Artichoke and White Bean Dip for LTEV, a food miracle occurred. I first simply called it “hummus”, and put it on the table. It’s busy enough with recipe testing and keeping up with this family’s appetite, that the details of food aren’t always important. Just need to get – it – on – the – table. And fast! This was one of those days. As we were eating, our middle girl soon announced how much she looooved this new hummus. Once I realized she was eating artichokes (!!!), I decided not to say anything immediately, but just make the dip again another day.

So I did. So she ate it again, and asked for it again. In fact, the whole family asked for it again, devouring it in a sitting (sigh, must remember to double-batch). Afterwards I casually mentioned to her “oh, I forgot to tell you, that hummus had some artichokes in it… hey, you liked it anyway!” She shrugged her shoulders and said “I guess so”. That was that. No fuss, just a brief puzzled look on her face (and probably some suspicions that mommy pulled a fast one). But, all was fine – and she continues to eat the dip!

She still won’t eat artichokes whole or in noticeable pieces, but I guess the moral of this post is sometimes we just need to serve the food. Not have expectations for what they might like or not like. Not try to explain that they might like it because… or they will like it if we add this to it… or take that out… etc etc. If it tastes great, it tastes great! They may not even notice the artichokes, olives, or berries. Scratch berries. One girl I know will always notice those! :)

I often say the same about vegan food in general. If it tastes fabulous and is satisfying, do we really care about what’s not in there? No, it just tastes wonderful! So enjoy the good food for what it is… deeeelicious!

Now, if you do love artichokes, you’ll really, really love this dip. Somewhat like hummus but with quite a twist. Plus, some of you that asked about a nut-free alternative to my Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip –  this White Bean Artichoke Dip is a great one to try. It’s not baked, but you could bake it, in fact I enjoy it a little warm. Maybe even top it off with a few olives for the fam! I kid.

Artichoke and White Bean Dip, from Let Them Eat Vegan, by Dreena Burton


Artichoke and White Bean Dip

ReciPage to print/share recipe

Artichoke dip is always one of those more-ish kinds of dips, and I’ve made several recipes over the years. This one borrows creaminess from white beans, and a cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast. It is especially delicious gently warmed, and then slathered on pitas or other breads. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

2 cups artichoke hearts (I use frozen, blanched in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, then drained, see note)

1 can (14 oz) white beans (navy or cannellini), rinsed and drained (about 1 ¾ cups)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 small-medium clove garlic

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil  (optional, OMIT for oil-free option and use 1-2 tbsp of water to thin if desired; OR can also sub 1/2 – 1 tbsp tahini and 1 tbsp water — but don’t overdo tahini, flavor will be too pronounced in this dip)

2 tbsp freshly flat-leaf parsley, chopped

½ tsp fresh rosemary, minced (try not to omit, it adds a lovely subtle flavor)

¾ tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

After blanching/draining artichokes, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste, and season to taste with extra lemon juice/salt, etc, as desired. Serve straight away, or transfer to an oven-proof dish and heat until just warm and a little golden on top!

Ingredients 411: Frozen artichokes have a much better flavor than canned, so opt for frozen if possible. Don’t use the artichokes that are jarred and marinated in an oil/vinegar liquid – their flavor is too strong, even if rinsed.

Serving Suggestions: Try using this dip as a layer in lasagna, or to stuff pasta shells.

Shout-out to Emma Potts of coconutandberries for assisting with the beautiful dip photos!

Have you had a food experience like this yourself, or with your kiddos? Have you tried this dip? Share your stories! 

Enjoy, and I’ll be back soon!

plant-powered xx’s… Dreena

Returning to Blogging: Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew

Hello friends. I’m officially back to blogging! I was very touched by your heartfelt comments on my last post. I read them all, quite a few times. Your kindness reached me during a rough time. Thank you.

I’ve had some personal insights in the last couple of months. My journey has just begun. I have more to learn and absorb, yet I am feeling far more optimistic, supported, and peaceful. I realize this sounds very vague. What I’ve discovered and am discovering is not easily put into words for a blog post. At least not right now. What I can say is that this process is helping me live with more awareness. Some days are easier than others, as it’s a process. Still, it’s allowing me to appreciate and respect who I am, and learn to make choices that are in alignment with this new understanding.

As obscure as this might seem, one thing that is very clear: my work is very much a part of me. So, I am most certainly continuing, with some changes. These changes may not even be obvious for you all, and will hopefully help me work with more balance.

Finally, in returning to blogging my intention is to share delicious plant-based recipes for you to enjoy, without judgement. Most of us judge ourselves harshly in one or more areas of our lives. I’m not immune to this judgement, these past months have helped me recognize that. I hope to present my recipes and ideas to you in a place that feels welcoming and encouraging so I can continue to share nourishing foods that will satisfy and delight!

With that, my return to blogging begins with this Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew from Let Them Eat Vegan. It is full-flavored and will infuse a little exotic into your weekday meals. Many of you have reached out to tell me how much you love this dish, so I wanted to share it while the weather (for most of us) is still a little cool. Enjoy… :)

Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew by Dreena Burton, plantpoweredkithcen.com

Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew

ReciPage link to print/share

This beautifully flavored stew is brimming with vegetables and tofu in a creamy peanut-coconut sauce that is not too rich or heavy. Sure to become a favorite!

1 tbsp water
2 cups onion, diced
5 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
2 – 2 ½ cups yams, peeled and chopped in bite-size chunks (see note)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/4 – ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like the ‘heat’!)
1 stalk lemongrass
1 ½ – 2 cups zucchini, halved or quartered lengthwise (depending on thickness of zucchini) and sliced about ¼” thick
1 cup red, orange, or yellow pepper, chopped in chunks
2 cups vegetable stock
3/4 – 1 cup water
1 can (400 ml) light coconut milk
1/2 cup + 1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter (can substitute almond or cashew butter)
1 tbsp tamari
1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ – 1 350-g pkg (12-oz) firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes, about ¾” (see notes for use and substitution)
6-8 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, loosely packed (can substitute Swiss Chard leaves)
2 ½ -3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
fresh cilantro for serving (optional)
few lime wedges for serving

In a soup pot over medium heat, add the water, onion, garlic, yams, salt, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes. Cover and let cook for 5-7 minutes. While cooking, prepare the lemongrass. Cut off the lower yellow bulbous portion (about halfway), and remove the outer tough leaves (discard outer leaves along with upper portion of stalk). Using your chef’s knife ‘bruise’ this bulbous portion. Cut a few shallow slits in the stalk and then use pressure on your knife to open and bruise the stalk, to help release its flavors (do not chop the stalk, keep in one piece). Add the lemongrass, zucchini, bell pepper, stock, water, coconut milk, peanut butter (start with ½ cup + 1 tbsp), tamari, and fresh ginger. Stir through and increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low/medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. After this time, add the tofu (see note) and gently stir through. Simmer covered for another 3-5 minutes, or longer until yams have completely softened and can be easily squished. Add the fresh spinach and lime juice (start with 2½ tbsp, and add more if desired), stir through and serve immediately (so spinach stays a vibrant green color). Taste, and if you’d like a full peanut flavor, add the remaining 1 tbsp of peanut butter, or more if desired. Remove piece of lemongrass before serving. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro if desired, and with a lime wedge to squeeze juices on individual portions. Serves 4-5.

Ingredients 411:

1) You can use the orange-flesh tubers that are most commonly known as yams in Canada (but as sweet potatoes in the US), or you can use the yellow flesh tubers most often labeled as sweet potatoes in Canada.

2) You can choose to use either the full package of tofu, or a lesser amount to your preference. If you’d like a very substantial stew, use the full package (or most of it). If you’d like a lighter stew with fewer pieces of tofu, use roughly ½ of the package, and refrigerate the remaining tofu (tightly wrapped in plastic).

Savvy Subs and Adds:
If you don’t care for tofu, add a can of black beans (rinsed/drained first; roughly 1 3/4 – 2 cups). The beans will give similar hearty substance as the tofu.

It This Apron Could Talk: Do not add the spinach until just ready to serve. If making this soup ahead of time, omit the spinach and then reheat soup, adding the spinach for last minute and then serve!

Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew from "Let Them Eat Vegan" by Dreena Burton

Have you made this stew yet? If so, please share how you enjoy it!

It’s good to be back, thanks for all of your support. And, shout-out to Emma Potts for the glorious food photos!

x Dreena

Orange Chocolate Pudding (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, raw, oil-free, nut-free)

Hello friends! My blogging has been minimal these past two months, sorry I’ve been a little absent. I have missed communicating with you all! My absence has been for good reason, though.

I’m finishing the manuscript for my next cookbook, due March 1st! It’s been tricky finding productive chunks of work time, because my day is fragmented with preschool and school drop-offs and pick-ups, and then the after-school chaos of homework and activities. So, I’ve really had to scale down my blogging in order to work on this book. I’ll share more about the book in March, but for now I want to get to a recipe!

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and beyond cupid and hearts and flowers and romantic stuff, there’s chocolate! So, I’m sharing a chocolate recipe with you to share with your luvvies!

Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

Here’s the thing with Valentine’s Day recipes: sometimes the treats take a lot of time to make, and they are often very rich and high in sugar. Many of us are just coming down from the holiday-sugar-high, and also don’t have time for making specialty desserts and confections. So, I have a recipe that will delight your chocolate cravings, can be made in minutes, and is healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast. You’ll also feel good about giving this one to your kiddos!

This Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding is from LTEV. I’ve tried taking photos of it before, but darn it’s hard to take a good photo of chocolate pudding. Emma to the rescue! Thank you Emma for helping me share this recipe with everyone today. :)

Bit of background on this pudding… When I first experimented with avocado in chocolate puddings, I could taste the avocado. Have you had that experience? Yes, the avocado made it incredibly creamy and thick, and yes, it was healthy. But the avocado flavor was too prominent for me, even in the chocolate base. So, I played with this recipe and realized that the addition of fresh orange juice improved the flavor profile immensely. Orange and chocolate pair beautifully together anyway. Here, the orange flavor comes forward with the cocoa muting the avocado flavor for a delicious, chocolatey, creamy, dreamy, thick vegan chocolate pudding – that’s also good for you!

Raw Chocolate Orange Pudding from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

photo credit: coconutandberries.com

Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding

ReciPage link to print/share

This chocolate mousse (or pudding, depending on your opinion), is incredibly healthful, with a foundation of avocado and dates to create a smooth, sweet consistency. Kids will love it, and will have no idea how good it is for them!

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract)

1 cup peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped ripe avocado (about 1 large or 1 1/2 medium avocado)

1 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup raw or regular cocoa powder

1 tsp orange zest (zest orange first and then juice)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/8 tsp sea salt (don’t omit, balances flavors)

In a food processor (or using the Blendtec twister jar, if you have it), puree all ingredients. Puree until very, very smooth, stopping processor to scrape down several times throughout processing. This pudding is very thick. If you’d like to thin it, you can do so with more orange juice, or a splash of nut milk or water. Serve or store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

For some other decadent (and healthy!) Valentine’s Day treats, check out this post from last year – some great ideas for the kiddos too!

What are you planning for Valentine’s Day, anything special? Share your food and fun!

Walnut-Pecan Balls – and Reminiscing

My very first recipe for a vegan meatball was in The Everyday Vegan. That recipe isn’t a traditional meatball, more of an asian-fusion with flavors of hoisin, miso, cilantro and paired with a sweet and sour sauce. It’s actually one of my favorite recipes from TEV, though I rarely make them now (new recipe development has its drawbacks)!

Walnut-Pecan Balls from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen

I started writing that book 15 years ago, and I still remember grappling with what to call a vegan ‘meatball’. The recipes in that book didn’t replicate many traditional omnivorous dishes. But, still, when you have a meatball that’s not meat, what do you call it? Many vegan recipes rhyme or use wordplays on the original name. I settled on Sweet and Sour Neatballs, and still like that name. It hints to a different flavor profile, and – hey, it’s easy to say!

Now when I create recipes that take similar forms as many meat-based dishes (ex: meatballs, burgers) I tend to refer to the main ingredients or flavor profiles of the recipes (Mediterranean Bean Burgers, Umami Almond Quinoa Burgers, etc) rather than use wordplays.

So, when I developed this recipe for Let Them Eat Vegan, the recipe naming was simple and obvious – Walnut-Pecan Balls. The walnuts and pecans are just the beginning, however. There are other flavorful and savory elements in these balls that they probably deserve a more glorified name! At the end of the meal, the name is not what counts – it’s all about how it tastes and how it makes you feel. This recipe delivers both great flavor and good nutrition. Pair them traditionally with pasta and tomato sauce – or try some of the other serving suggestions in the recipe (below).

Walnut-Pecan Balls - from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, plant-poweredkitchen.com

walnut-pecan balls, all photos by: coconutandberries.com

These Walnut-Pecan Balls are also one of my husband’s favorite meals. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary just last week. We were wed in San Diego, California on January 16, 1994. We enjoyed a simple ceremony – sincered and intimate, unfussy and relaxing. We flew out of Los Angeles that evening, just before the 1994 earthquake. I remember hearing the news as we were toasting each other in-flight. We have many lovely memories of our wedding – and have created many more since, especially with our three girls.

paulanddreenawedding

I was feeling particularly emotional about our anniversary. Twenty years is a long time, and we were together several years before we were married. We were just kids, really. Yet, we knew our connection and commitment was real, true, and strong. I took some time to create a playlist of our songs that hubby could listen to commuting to work that day. Songs from when we first met, our long-distance relationship, through marriage, having children, and other milestones. As I listened to these songs over a couple of days, it really hit home how much we’ve been through as individuals, as a couple, and as parents.

Some songs made me feel a little sad. Not just because they reminded me of some of our harder times, but also because it brought me back to those early days, when it was just us. We both work so hard, and are so busy as parents. It’s easy to get caught up in our roles and routines, not taking time to remember that connection… why we first fell in love. After the sadness passed, I felt filled with gratitude and love.

paulanddreenaweddingwalking

When I woke on our anniversary, I had an email waiting from hubby. He had written a letter, reflecting on our years together. It recalled sweet and joyful memories, as well as how we’ve endured more challenging times. He also reminisced about my journey as a cookbook author, saying:

I am so proud of everything you have achieved. That includes your accomplishments in business and your amazing publishing career.  I vividly remember all of your effort into those early proposals and the rejections coming back one by one. Then when you accomplished your goal, what a time that was, just seeing the first book in print, the Toronto tour and Canada AM.

Our eldest daughter was just six months old when we took that trip for the book tour and Canada AM appearance. I recall nursing her in the hotel, toting baby food (she had just started solids), and trying to pull it all together to be on national television!

I also clearly remember writing and mailing those proposals with return envelopes. Knowing that I needed just one “yes”! I believed it would happen, and it did. Now, our eldest is now almost 13, with two younger sisters, I have published 3 more books, one ebook, and working on my 5th cookbook.

Much like how our relationship has grown, changed, and evolved over 20+ year – so has my food knowledge, recipe development, and recipe naming. (Mostly for the better, I think!)

With that story I hope you enjoy this recipe. Maybe it’s one you will love for 20+ years too. 😉 Yeah… some things never change. You can always count on me to throw in a good dose of corny.

My thanks again to Emma of Coconut and Berries for these delectable photos! Visit her blog, she shares some incredible recipes and ideas on her site!

Walnut-Pecan Balls from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

Walnut-Pecan Balls gluten-free option, oil-free option

ReciPage link to print/share

These savory balls have a buttery taste from a combination of walnuts, pecans, and sautéed vegetables.  They are delicious topped on pasta with a good quality pasta sauce, but can also be used as finger foods to dip in a warmed marinara sauce, or formed into patties and eaten as plant-strong veggie burgers! Makes about 17- 20 balls.

1 tbsp water or olive oil (to saute – use water for oil-free version)

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1¼ tsp dried oregano leaves

½ tsp dried thyme leaves

1/4 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup pecans

3/4 cup walnut

1 cup + 2 tbsp rolled oats (use certified gluten-free for a gf option)

2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (use gluten-free for wheat/gluten free option)

1 tbsp tamari (can use coconut aminos)

½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp blackstrap molasses

1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil (or less/more as needed for frying), optional (see note for oil-free option)

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the water/oil, onion, celery, dried oregano, thyme, sea salt, and pepper. Cook for 10-14 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery are nicely softened and golden brown (add extra water if needed to prevent sticking). Once onions and celery have softened some, add them to a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except last 1 tbsp of olive oil for frying), and process until the mixture becomes crumbly, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Process again to incorporate any larger pieces, and just as mixture becomes sticky and/or forms a ball, stop processor.  Refrigerate for at least 1⁄2 hour (chilling will make it firmer and easier to form). Take small spoonfuls of the mixture, about 1 tbsp (using a small cookie scoop is helpful, but otherwise form with your hands, rinsing hands when needed to keep mixture from sticking to your palms).  If cooking in a non-stick skillet (see note for oven-baking), heat the oil over medium-high.  Add the balls and fry for 5-7 minutes (reduce heat if burning), shifting the pan to turn sides of balls every minute or two to form a golden crust fairly evenly around the balls.  Remove, and serve.

Serving Suggestions:  Most obvious, serve these warm with tomato sauce and pasta.  But, also try as an hor d’oeurve with a warmed sauce (ex: a marinara or other sauce such as my Raw Tomato Sauce, or Living Caesar Dressing for dipping. Also try adding them to a salad to transform a light salad into a full meal.

Oven-Baking Note:  If you prefer baking these in the oven, place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, turning once or twice during baking, until golden brown.

Idea: These mixture can also be formed into patties and pan-fried as a burger patty.   Or, it can be placed in a loaf dish and baked.

Leftovers? Refrigerate them and use another day as a sandwich filling, simply mashing and stirring in a sauce or condiment of choice, and chopped veggies if you like.

Please feel free to share your feedback about this recipe, how you liked them and/or how you served them! Thanks for indulging my personal ramblings as well, maybe some of you relate from a relationship or parenting perspective. Have a delicious plant-powered week! xx Dreena

Clean Eating: Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Out goes December with its indulgent dinners and desserts… and in comes January with cleanses, detox plans, and unfortunately – quick-fix diets. Silly diet programs aside, do you do cleanses or detox plans this time of year? I have never done a cleanse or detox. I could very well benefit from one, I”m not sure! I just haven’t ever done so!

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad - from "Let Them Eat Vegan", by Dreena Burton of Plant-Powered Kitchen

Generally though, I do feel one of the perks of eating a whole-foods plant-based diet is that the majority of our foods are already… clean… real… minimally processed… detoxifying! We can enjoy a cleansing, detoxifying diet daily. Not that we (ahem, I) always do. Most of us enjoy some sort of treat or more indulgent foods from day to day. (Tell me I’m not alone!) But it’s very attainable to eat a clean diet most of the day – or the majority of meals in a week.

I think the more we move towards healthier eating, the more we feel like heck when we don’t stick to it! I sure do! I’m no food saint. I enjoy my chocolate and ice creams, and have come to really appreciate red wine in recent years. (What’s that all about? Is it a 40s thing?) And, we are all under stress and exposed to environmental toxins daily. While I feel healthier than I did in my 20s, I do notice that it takes less to nudge me out of balance than years ago. I’m not sure if that’s related to the stress of being a busy mom, being in my 40s, or maybe because healthy eating is a bit of a one-way street. Once you move in a healthier direction, your body does not appreciate going back.

Balance in life has always been important to me (I’m a Libra). So, I guess I’ve always tried to keep these food and health stress imbalances more in-check with cleaner eats throughout the day. Starting the day with nutrient-dense green smoothies and having nutrient-dense salad bowls or wraps at lunch are two such ways. These are routine foods for me, but there are always ways to mix them up – especially the lunch bowls.

smokysweetpotatosaladfulldish

This Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad from LTEV is a perfect example of delicious, clean, plant-powered food that can be enjoyed regularly. I love the blend of ingredients and flavors in this recipe. The smoky, spicy, bright dressing plays off the sweet, comforting spuds and hearty black beans. It’s tasty, nutritious, and very satisfying!

This salad is also a perfect example of how one dish can be served in different ways to be enjoyed for a lighter lunch, a more substantial lunch, or for an even more substantial dinner…

  • Serve on its own, in a bowl as-is!
  • Or, serve how I usually enjoy it – in a ‘lunch bowl’ with steamed kale, raw spinach or lettuce.
  • Spoon and roll in green wraps, or simply spoon into smaller, crispy romaine leaves for “salad boats”!
  • Do I need to mention it’s even more fabulous topped with avocado or avocado cream? Yeah, that’s pretty much a #dreenareciperuleofthumb – avoc, please! 😉
  • Try layering with that guacamole in a serving dish to serve at parties. Pair with tortilla chips (see recipe note, below).
  • Transform into a heartier dinner meal: serve over quinoa or brown rice (again with avocado), or over baked potatoes drizzled with a savory cashew cream, use as a taco filling, or tuck into whole-grain tortillas and bake for warm burritos to serve with salad and guac on the side!

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad from "Let Them Eat Vegan" by Dreena Burton

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad ReciPage to print/share

gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, oil-free 

The sweet potatoes in this salad partially break down and help hold the other ingredients together. They offer sweetness and along with the beans a soft toothsome texture, which is balanced by the crunchy, fresh red pepper and cucumber and the smoky essence in the spices added.

2 cups cooked sweet potato, cut in cubes (see note for baking tips)

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

¾ cup red or yellow bell pepper, diced

½ cup cucumber, diced (seeds removed) (or jicama, peel trimmed and diced)

2 tbsp chives, roughly chopped, or green portion of green onions, sliced

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced (cilantro can also be used)

1 – 1 ½ tsp fresh oregano, minced

4 – 5 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (will need about 2-3 limes)

1 tsp sea salt (little scant)

Freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp chipotle hot sauce (I use Tabasco brand; can use another ½ tsp if you like it smokier/hotter)

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp allspice

1/8 – 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (start with 1/8, then adjust to taste)

¼ – 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar

To bake potatoes, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Bake at 400 for 40-60 minutes (baking time will depend on whether you are using smaller or larger sweet potatoes). Check the potatoes a few times in the last 10-15 minutes of baking.  They can be baked until quite soft, which will give potatoes that meld into the salad (losing most of their structure). While baking and cooling sweet potatoes (see note), prepare other ingredients. Once sweet potatoes cool to just warm or cool, cut in cubes and add to a large bowl with remaining ingredients (starting with 4 – 4 ½ tbsp lime juice, I like to use close to the 5 tbsp myself). Toss through to combine well. Taste, and add additional lime juice if desired, and season to taste with additional salt, pepper, or chipotle hot sauce if desired. Salad is delicious at room temperature, but can be chilled for a picnic or to keep for lunches during the week.

Make It More-ish!:  This would be delicious as a layered dip with guacamole.  Distribute salad over the bottom of a shallow casserole dish. Make a simple guacamole, and dollop or smooth over top to distribute as evenly as possible. Scoop out portions to serve with tortilla or pita chips, or to wrap in lettuce leaves.

If This Apron Could Talk: If you want more of firm texture to the sweet potatoes, bake for less time, until just ‘al dente’ (cooked through, but with a slight give when pierced), which will help them hold more structure in the salad.  I like the sweet potatoes cooked until mostly soft since I like how they meld into the salad and help it ‘hold’ when serving/eating… but, it’s up to you for your salad!

photo credit: Emma Potts

Do you ever do cleanses or detox programs? Think I should consider one? Do you have any regular clean-eating routines? Please share your tips/ideas!