Mango-Hemp Dressing (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)

I’m loving big lunch salads now. It’s been especially hot through June and July in BC, excepting the last couple of days. Far more heat and sun than usual this time of year. So, I’m digging lots of fresh salads, along with more fresh fruit (in and out of salads)!

I’m guessing many of you are in the same dietary mode, as I get a lot of feedback on my salad dressings. Especially my oil-free sauces and dressings. I’ve learned a few tricks over the last few years for making tasty, healthy salad dressings – and with many flavor variations.

I still plan to bring you that salad dressings ebook. For sure! Things have been busy with book promotion that I’m not quite organized enough to pull together the ebook – just yet. So, I wanted to share a recipe that some of you already have. It was one of the 15 recipes that was a gift for preorders of PPF. I do plan to honor that “gift” and not blog all of the recipes – but this one is particularly special and seasonal. Hopefully those of you that did preorder won’t be upset that I share some salad luv right now.

Couple of notes: Do not overdo the shallots or green onions. Just a hint of flavor is best. Also, I use frozen mango, which can be tricky to measure. Don’t sweat an *exact* measure. You can always adjust to taste after. Finally… enjoy!

x Dreena

Mango-Hemp Dressing by Dreena Burton #vegan #wholefoods #plantbased #glutenfree #oilfree #dairyfree

Mango-Hemp Dressing

link to print/share

I keep frozen mango on hand for morning smoothies. One day I wanted a fruity, fresh dressing so pulled out the frozen mango. This dressing came to life and will bring new life to your daily salads! Makes about 1 cup.

3/4 cup mango chunks (ok to measure roughly, I use frozen)
2 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water (+ 2–3 tsp or more if desired to thin out)
1/2 tbsp chopped shallots or 1 tbsp of the whitish portion of green onions
1–2 tbsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar (or more to taste, as needed)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender, puree all ingredients (starting with 1/4 cup water and 1 tbsp maple syrup) until very smooth. Taste, and add additional water to thin as desired, and extra maple syrup to sweeten if needed.

Note: I like the flavor of this dressing just as it is. But, if you’d like to pair this with some spicy foods or add a punch of flavor, try adding in 1–2 tbsp chopped cilantro or basil while pureeing.

Kid note: Our girls enjoy this dressing. You can opt to omit the green onions/shallots, but it’s such a small amount that kiddos usually are okay with it.

photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

Maple-Chipotle Chickpea Salad Dressing (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)

For the past year or two I’ve been coming up with a slew of new salad dressings. All whole-foods based, all delicious! Things have been so busy with my new book (promise, details soon!), mothering, and other projects that I haven’t had a chance to properly organize or even post one of these recipes. Until today!

Maple-Chipotle Chickpea Dressing by Dreena Burton #vegan #oilfree #dairyfree

This Maple-Chipotle Chickpea Dressing is made with a base of chickpeas and a touch of tahini. It is naturally (easily) oil-free, and is also gluten-free and (obviously) dairy-free. I love this dressing. I created it one day with some leftover chickpeas, and was immediately hooked! I especially love it over steamed kale (steam the kale leaves just like the collards), along with hot quinoa and a mix of seasonal veggies.

Maple-Chipotle Chickpea Dressing by Dreena Burton #vegan #oilfree #dairyfree

For the photo we used sweet potatoes and avocado with the kale and quinoa, and I’ll tell you this combination with the dressing makes a pretty wicked lunch bowl! It’s so nourishing and wholesome, and every bite hits a little different flavor note that’s just so scrumptious! Also, it’s a substantial dressing with a fairly thick texture, which ‘clings’ nicely to salad ingredients.

There are many ways to make salad dressings and sauces without oil, using nuts, seeds, avocado, and even applesauce! I’m thinking of putting together a simple, inexpensive ebook with maybe 10 recipes. Would you guys be interested in this idea? Please chime in if you are. I think it’s a fun idea, but need to know if it’s worthwhile. So, let me know what you think!

And, of course… also let me know how you like this recipe. Enjoy, guys!

Maple-Chipotle Chickpea Dressing by Dreena Burton #vegan #dairyfree #oilfree

Maple-Chipotle Chickpea Dressing

link to print/share recipe

A creamy, flavorful dressing made with a base of chickpeas and flavored with maple syrup and the smoky essence of chipotle!

1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 – 1 tbsp tahini (adjust to taste, 1 tbsp will give a richer, fuller flavor)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
2  1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1  1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp chipotle hot sauce (I use Tabasco brand; can use more if desired!)
1/4 cup water, or more to thin as desired
optional: 2-3 tbsp cilantro, chopped

In a blender (I use the Blendtec twister jar), add all ingredients except the cilantro. Puree until very smooth (this will take less than a minute in a high speed blender, may take several minutes in a standard blender). Taste, and adjust with additional lime juice, sweetener, or salt as desired. If using the cilantro, stir through. For a thinner dressing, add a touch more water and stir through. Serve! Makes about 3/4 – 1 cup dressing.

Another shout-out to Emma for assisting with these beautiful photos!

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! 

Blendtec Giveaway + Recipe Feature: Wonder Spread

Blendtec Giveaway, Plant-Powered Kitchen


UPDATE: Giveaway now complete.

When I first starting using a Blendtec several years ago, I didn’t realize how much my cooking and food preparation would evolve with just one appliance. Immediately I had a new love for green smoothies. While I had made them in a standard blender for a year or two beforehand, those potent green elixirs reached a new level of smooth with the Blendtec. I was giddy to pulverize collards, cucumber, frozen fruits, and chia seeds in my new rambo blender! Yet, I had no idea that I would use this appliance in so many of my daily recipe and meal preparations (more on that soon)! I use my Blendtec every day, and love it.

So, I am thrilled that Blendtec has partnered with me to give away one of their blenders, plus their signature Twister blending jar!

What better way to ring in 2014 than with this appliance that can help you prepare some of the healthiest, delicious, and most nutrient-dense foods?! 

Blendtec Designer Series Giveaway, via Plant-Powered Kitchen

One of you will win a Blendtec Designer Series Wildside (black), as well as the Twister jar! Total retail value over $570!*

Blendtec Twister Jar - giveaway via Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

The more I’ve evolved working with whole foods in cooking and baking, the more I use my Blendtec. Their Wildside Jar is absolutely the best for green smoothies and large purees. I have come quite attached to the Twister Jar as well, and so I’m delighted that both these jars are part of this prize package.

Here are some of the ways I use my Blendtec daily:

Green Smoothies

Apple-A-Day Green Smoothie

I don’t go a day without them. I pack in the greens, including kale and parsley, and also cucumber. Usually I add a peeled lemon and some frozen mango, and add a scoop of Vega tropical smoothie infusion. After whizzing up my intense-green smoothie, I reserve a little and then add extra fruit for the girls – frozen (or room temp) ripe banana, frozen pineapple, and/or peeled orange. They would not drink it as green as I make it for myself and hubby! Some days I switch it up, but this is my fave combo. For more green smoothie tips, check out my tutorial here.

Pureed Pasta Sauces

Mac-nificent and Mac-Oh Geez!

I make the base sauce for my mac-oh-geez (above right) in my Blendtec Wildside, and also the sauce for my new fave pasta casserole, Mac-nificent (above left – yes, I now love it more than mac-oh-geez, if that’s possible). I make these sauces so often I don’t even measure anymore, just eyeball and VROOOM!

Salad Dressings, Sauces, and Dips


The Twister Jar has transformed how I make salad dressings. I used to make dressings in a large jar using an immersion blender. That works well, but once I started blitzing dressings in the Twister Jar, I haven’t gone back. Not only quick, it emulsifies dressing ingredients extremely well, and can pulverize nuts and also chia seeds for creamy nut-based sauces and oil-free dressings. Here are some examples of salad dressings/sauces that work famously using the Twister Jar. Since I make so many purees with my blender, I’m often asked “do you still use a food processor”? Quick answer: Yes! There are some dips, like hummus, that I still prefer to make in my food processor. I can make larger batches with those and have more control over the consistency with keeping some texture. But for very smooth sauces and dips, and nut-based blends, my Blendtec gets the job.

Pureed Soups

Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill

You can make soups literally in an instant in the Blendtec. Take some of your favorite ingredients and puree until smooth. You can then enjoy raw or just lightly warmed, or transfer to a saucepan to simmer and let the flavors infuse. I often pre-roast veggies and then puree into soups (or pasta sauces!) adding water, veg stock, or non-dairy milk (depending on the ingredient mix).

My Blendtec is also put to great use for ice cream mixes (see ice cream chapter in LTEV), healthy puddings and especially chia puddings, and other types of purees, smoothies, sauces, and mixes that I might make every week or two, just not every day. But my machine is in use every-single-day!

In addition to that Macnificent sauce I make weekly, another PP15 recipe I make frequently is my Wonder Spread. For that recipe I use the Twister Jar. It whips up small batches of thick purees exceptionally well. My family loves this spread – on crusty breads with soup, to top baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, spread on sandwiches and wraps and more! Even though I make it often, I still hear “this is reaaallly good” when the girls dig in!

To get you ready to whirl with the Blendtec blender and that Twister Jar, I am sharing the recipe for that PP15 Wonder Spread! It has incredible umami flavor, so you may want to double the batch and freeze a little for later (yes, it freezes well).

This dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free spread truly is a wonder! Full of umami flavor, you'll want to use it on just about everything!

Wonder Spread gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free option

Recipe from Plant-Powered 15ReciPage link to print/share recipe

This recipe has such simple ingredients, that you might think it doesn’t taste particularly special. But it does! Be forewarned, this spread (or dip, sauce, mayo!) is addictive!

1 cup soaked cashews (soak in advance, see note)

1 1/2 tbsp chickpea miso (see note)

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (adjust to taste)

1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 – 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup

1/3 – 1/2 cup water (see note)

Salt and pepper if desired, to taste

In a blender, puree all ingredients on high speed until very smooth. Season to taste with additional salt if desired. Spread on breads, use for sandwiches, wraps, baked potatoes, veggie burgers, or to mix into grains or vegetable dishes. Many serving options with this recipe, it is delicious! Transfer to airtight containers to refrigerate. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Cashew Note: Raw cashews take about 3-4 hours to soak, so I find it helpful to soak in batches and then freeze in portions until ready to use. To soak, place nuts in a bowl of water and cover for several hours. The nuts will become larger after soaking, as they swell from absorbing some of the water. Drain the soaking water, and rinse the nuts. Then store in the fridge for a couple of days until ready to use, or in the freezer for a few months.

Miso Note: Chickpea miso is something I discovered this past year. It has such a mild, mellow flavor and a very fermented, umami essence. If you cannot find it, use a very mild miso like a brown rice – and start with just 1 tbsp as it tastes stronger than chickpea miso.

Water Note: Using just 1/3 cup of water will give you a thicker spread. However, if you don’t have a high-speed blender, you may find it difficult to get a smooth puree. If so, use the full 1/2 cup of water. The mixture will thicken slightly with refrigeration.

If you are vegan, plant-strong, or experimenting with more whole-foods plant-based eating, you will truly love using a Blendtec. In fact, you might wonder how you ever managed without one!

Enter through Rafflecopter below. Tell me what foods and recipes you’d make in 2014 with the Blendtec! Good luck and Happy New Year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Contest open to U.S. residents. Prize of a Black Designer Series Blendtec (factory recertified) plus Twister Jar will be shipped together directly to winner in the U.S. See rafflectopter for additional contest details and rules.

5 Healthy Salad Dressings and Sauces You Will LOVE (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)

Dressings and sauces are staples for me. They add personality to staple foods like rice, greens, and beans and can take a salad or otherwise routine meal from drab to fab!

I love creating saucy stuff (if you have LTEV you already know this)! And, I especially love using a variety of dressings and sauces through the summer. When it’s too hot to cook, you can transform leftovers with a quick-prep sauce, or make the most of those lush summer greens with a punchy salad dressing.

Dressings and sauces have a reputation for being very heavy, calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. But, se plant-powered ingredients instead of dairy and highly processed foods – different story! Dressings and sauces CAN be made flavorful and rich with wholesome, nutritious ingredients – and without any processed vegan substitutes like mayonnaise – as you will see today!

These 5 dressings and sauces that will take you through summer, to get the most enjoyment of your garden-fresh greens and tomatoes and cukes and zukes! You will love them any time of year though. They can complement so many dishes and round out the flavors and pleasure-factor of meals from raw salads to steamed greens to topping baked spuds or cooked quinoa, to using as a dip with crudite or breads. Let’s go!

1. Moroccan Carrot Dip

Moroccan Carrot Dip from Let Them Eat Vegan

PRINT  (photo credit: Nicole Axworthy)

This is more of a dip than a dressing, but can be thinned out slightly for a dressing, or used thicker for a dip or sauce. The Moroccan seasonings give a sprightly, spicy twist.

1 cup raw carrot, cut in discs or small chunks (roughly 4 – 4 1/2 oz.)

1/3 cup raw cashews

2 – 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar

1 small clove garlic (or ½ medium clove)

½ – 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/8 tsp cinnamon (little scant)

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground fennel

¼ tsp (rounded) sea salt (plus more to taste if needed)

Freshly ground black pepper (use conservatively)

½ cup water (or more to thin as needed, see note)

1 tbsp olive oil (completely optional, omit for oil-free)

Using a standing blender (high-powered blender like a Blendtec works best to smooth), puree all the ingredients (starting with 2 teaspoons of the vinegar) until very smooth. Taste and add extra vinegar if you wish, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. For a thinner dip, add more water (plus another 2 to 3 tablespoons more, if desired, to thin out a little more for use as a salad dressing). Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Serving Suggestions: Surprise your guests with this uniquely flavored and colored dip—try serving as a centerpiece dip for crudités or with raw dipping breads. Also try tossing it into a salad, for a more substantial lunch salad.

2. Raw-nch Dressing!

Raw-nch Dressing from Let Them Eat Vegan

PRINT (photo credit: foodfitnesslifelove)

Creamy and rich, my raw version of Ranch Dressing from Let Them Eat Vegan takes any green salad from ordinary to extraordinary!  Also try massaging it into hardy greens like kale. (To make it entirely raw, omit the Dijon mustard and replace the red wine vinegar with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.)

½ cup raw cashews

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar (gives more flavor, but can use more lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for a raw version)

1 tbsp raw tahini

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

2 tsp fresh chives, chopped (optional, and can use more onion powder)

1/8 tsp garlic powder (see note)

1/8 tsp onion powder (see note)

¼ tsp Dijon mustard (omit for raw version)

1/2 tsp (scant) sea salt

1/8 tsp freshly black pepper to taste

1 tsp raw agave nectar (adjust to taste)

1/2 cup water or non-dairy milk (or more to thin as desired)

Using a blender (I use Blendtec) or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients until very smooth (it will take a couple of minutes). If you want to thin the dressing more, add water to your preferred consistency. This dressing will thicken some after refrigeration. You can thin it out by stirring in a few teaspoons of water, or keep it thick and use it as a dip for raw veggies.  Makes about 1 ¼ cups.

Ingredients 411: I prefer a faint seasoning of garlic and onion in this dressing. I use just 1⁄8 teaspoon of the onion and garlic powders to lend a hint of flavor but not overwhelm the dressing. If you like more seasoning, feel free to use more onion powder (or extra chives), and more garlic powder (or even a tiny clove of garlic). Alternatively, you can omit both powders, if you prefer.

Savvy Subs and Adds: Try 2 tablespoons of fresh dill to replace some or all of the parsley.

3. Citrus Tahini Dressing

Citrus Tahini Dressing from Let Them Eat Vegan

 PRINT (photo credit: Nicole Axworthy)

This healthy homemade dressing is slightly thick, thanks to the inclusion of tahini. The oil is optional, and the dressing tastes full bodied and flavorful with or without! The flavors are kid friendly, and so it makes eating salad a little more interesting for the little ones. Another one from my “Saucy and Dippy” chapter in LTEV!

3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar

2 – 2 ½ tbsp agave nectar or pure maple syrup (adjust based on tartness of orange juice

1 1/2 – 2 tsp dijon mustard

½ – 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

1 very small clove garlic (optional)

½ sea salt

1 tbsp hemp, walnut, or olive oil (completely optional, omit for oil-free)

Freshly ground black pepper

Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 2 tablespoons of the agave nectar/maple syrup, until fully smooth and creamy. Add additional sweetener to taste, if desired. Makes a little over 1/2 cup.

Kid-Friendly: When I omit the garlic and use the lesser amount of ginger, my kids really like this dressing.

Serving Suggestions: Try this on finely julienned greens. It is especially great with kale, as it helps mellow the flavor of the leaves. Chop your kale, then toss the dressing onto the leaves. Let sit for 10 or more minutes to allow the dressing to soften the greens. Add other salad fixings you might like, such as cherry tomatoes, grated carrot, chopped apple, or dried cranberries.

4. Curried-Almond Dressing

This one has been clinging to that Kale-Slaw and making it a bit of a recipe celeb, but it’s looking for some new greens partners! Like romaine, spinach, and escarole! Fans of WHOLE, you can see contributor Howard Jacobson demo this dressing.

Kale-Slaw with Creamy Curried Almond Dressing by Dreena Burton - #vegan #soyfree #glutenfree

PRINT (photo credit: TahiniToo)

This plant-powered dressing will definitely cling to your greens, and can easily be used as a dip as well. It is one of my favorites, with a very subtle curry flavor in a creamy, slightly sweet base. This is also the dressing for Kale-slaw with Curried Almond Dressing, a modern makeover of traditional coleslaw.

1⁄2 cup raw almonds

2 1/2 tbsps apple cider vinegar

2 tbsps agave nectar or pure maple syrup

2/3 cup water (or more to thin as needed; see note)

1 very small clove garlic

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1⁄2 tsp Dijon mustard

1⁄2 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1⁄8 tsp curry powder, or more to taste (see note)


Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water) until very smooth. (A high-powered blender such as a Blendtec works best to smooth out the dressing; using an immersion blender or regular blender will leave a little more texture and take a little longer.) Add additional curry to taste, and additional water to thin as desired (see note).  Makes about 1 generous cup.

Notes: Adult-Minded: I like using about 1⁄8 rounded teaspoon of curry powder in this dressing, for a very muted flavor. But if you love curry, feel free to use more than this, adjusting to your own taste.

Serving Suggestions: If using as a dip, use just 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup of water to puree and then refrigerate it, adding extra water later, if desired, to thin (it will thicken considerably after chilling). If using as a salad dressing, you can keep it thick, or thin it more as you prefer.

5. “Magical” Oil-Free Vinaigrette

Magical Oil-Free Vinaigrette


This oil-free dressing uses applesauce to emulsify the ingredients and produce a surprisingly thick vinaigrette that is virtually fat-free!  Try it as is first, and then play with some of the seasonings to your own preferences.

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)

3/4 – 1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or more to sweeten to taste if desired)

1/4 tsp (rounded) sea salt (or more to taste)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using an immersion blender and deep cup (if using a blender, you may need to double the batch for enough blending volume), combine all ingredients, whizzing through until very smooth.  Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter add another teaspoon or so of maple syrup.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as well.  If you’d like a thinner dressing, simply add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend through again.

Bonus plant-powered eye candy: Creamy House Dressing

Creamy House Dressing - from the Plant-Powered 15 by Dreena Burton

photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

I’m not counting this in the five, because the recipe isn’t posted. The recipe is part of my Plant-Powered 15 ebook, however. If you have the book, give this dressing a whirl! It’s been getting crazy-yummy reviews. Literally, that’s what I’ve heard: “it’s crazy yummy, I’m licking the blender“. There is also a Green Goddess Dressing in there worthy of some blending action! (All of the recipes in the PP15 ebook are whole-foods and oil-free.)

Quick P.S.: I am scaling back online work the next couple of weeks to take a break. I won’t be blogging for another few weeks, and I’ll be much quieter on FB and twitter. Should be returning to my regular activity in August. Enjoy these dressings! 

Have you tried any/many of these dressings? What are your favorites? How do YOU enjoy them? 

Mexican Bean Soup with Chipotle Avocado Cream and Guacamole Tip (vegan and gluten-free)

When you open a cookbook, a recipe may “jump out” because of its title, its reputation (we know how blogging can hype a recipe long before a cookbook reaches bookshelves), or of course because of its photos.  With the volume of recipes in LTEV, I almost wish I had written two separate cookbooks so that I could have offered you all MORE photographs. Ideally, I’d love to have photographs of every single dish, because I think that’s what really ‘sells’ a recipe.

At least I got this recipe photographed for LTEV. Still, I think it may have flown under the radar somewhat because it resembles a chili. For me, this soup is quite different than chili. You know how chili can feel ‘heavy’ after eating it? It’s not just the beans, it’s the thickness of the stew itself, and the ingredients in combination.

As I mention in the description of this Mexican Bean Stew, it is rather different than chili. First, it has no chili spice. Second, it has a lighter broth, and a very distinct earthy, smoky flavor from the cumin seeds. The cumin seeds, in combination with the oregano and cinnamon, give a full, pleasing, intoxicating flavor – without the heaviness of chili.


Mexican Bean Soup with Chipotle Avocado Cream (foreground)

I really love this photo. I think Hannah beautifully captured the colors and simplicity of this soup.

Wait. Do not stop at the soup!

Definitely make the Chipotle Avocado Cream. It adds a lusciousness to this soup, add a dollop and take a spoonful and you’ll understand why you must pair the two together! This cream is equally good as a substitute for guacamole. You can skip the cashews (see recipe note), and also omit the chipotle sauce for a more neutral flavor that kids really love. You will find yourself going to this sauce for ALL sorts of dishes. With such a rich and velvety texture, it is one of the best vegan sauces to accompany grains, salads, noodles – even to drizzle on hot pizza!

Oh yeah, you can tell I make this avocado cream often. The girls ADORE guacamole, and I find I can stretch those avocs just a little further in a sauce – and that’s important when your kids can easily eat 5-6 avocs in one guacamole hit! (And, I don’t hesitate to let them have that much, they are growing and need these healthy whole food fats. I used to make it with my immersion blender, but now I often just pop the ingredients in my Twister Jar, and then we spoon it straight from that jar.

But, how do you prepare guacamole or an avocado sauce a few hours ahead of time without it turning brown? Or, how do you store leftover guacamole without it oxidizing so badly that you don’t want to eat it. Now, it is rare … rare I say … that we have leftover avocado sauce or guacamole in this house. Usually my kids are I’m scraping out the bowl or jar with tortilla chips.

However, we have had the odd occasion, I think 3 times in the last 5 years, when I have in fact made too much guacamole or avocado sauce – more than our family can eat. And, I have also wanted to prep guacamole in advance. So, what works best to preserve its color?

I have tried a few different techniques, including the “pit in the centre of the dip” trick. That may be slightly effective, but if the dip or sauce is in the bowl, there is still much oxidization. I have found this technique works the best…


Put your leftover sauce or guac in a cup or other vessel that is tall/narrow rather than shallow and wide like a bowl. There will be less surface area to oxidize, so less will turn brown. For the guac, pack it down as much as you can in the cup. Then squeeze lemon juice over top, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can also smooth the plastic wrap directly on to the surface of the guac/sauce if you want, it will also help reduce the browning – but that’s if you are okay with the plastic wrap sitting on the surface of your food.

So, get your plant-powered behind out shopping for a dozen or so avocs (ok, you only need a couple for this recipe, that’s just how many I buy at a time)… and get ready to spoon into some deliciousness!

Mexican Bean Soup with Chipotle Avocado Cream gluten-free, oil-free, soy free
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This soup has bold, vibrant flavors without being heavy, as a chili can be. Be sure to pair with Chipotle Avocado Cream. And avoid substituting cumin powder for cumin seeds—the whole seeds really add a distinctive flavor element.

Serves 4-5.

1 tbsp water

1 1/2 cups   red onions, finely chopped

6-7 medium – large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/4 tsp cumin seed (don’t substitute ground cumin!)

2 ½ tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 – 2 tbsp jalapeno pepper, chopped (adjust to taste, optional, can also sub crushed red pepper, see note)

1 28-oz can (796-ml) diced tomatoes

1 14 or 15-oz can  black beans, rinsed and drained

1 14 or 15-oz can  kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or pinto beans or black beans)

1  cup frozen corn kernels

1 vegetable bouillon cube (ex: I use Harvest Sun brand) (not stock, just the cube)

2 ½ – 3 cups water

1 tsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar (optional)

1 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

chopped fresh cilantro for serving

lime wedges for serving

In a large pot over medium heat, combine the oil or water, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin seed, dried oregano, cinnamon, and jalapeño (if using). Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally; lower the heat if the onion is sticking. Starting with 21⁄2 cups of the water, add the remaining ingredients, except the lime juice, cilantro, lime wedges, and Chipotle Avocado Cream. Stir, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and add the remaining water to thin, if desired. Serve in individual portions with cilantro and lime wedges and a dollop of Chipotle Avocado Cream (recipe below).

Kid-Friendly: If making this soup for a family with young children, you may want to omit the jalapeño so the soup does not have spicy heat. It will still be flavorful, just not spicy hot for the little ones. Also, if you don’t have a fresh jalapeño on hand, feel free to add a few pinches of crushed red chili flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste.

Chipotle Avocado Cream

This sauce adds lusciousness to any Mexican-inspired meal, and is a must for Mexican Bean Soup.

1 cup (fairly packed) ripe avocado, cut in chunks (about 1 ½ medium-large avocados)

1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked beforehand is preferable, but not essential – see note for nut-free)

1 ½ – 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

½ – 2/3 cup water

1/2 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar (optional, to taste)

¼ tsp chipotle hot sauce (ex: Tabasco brand) (or more to taste, or omit, see note)

Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water). Start on a slow speed to incorporate the cashews, then increase speed to high until very smooth and creamy. Add additional water to thin, as desired, and salt, agave, and chipotle sauce to taste. Dollop on soup, or use as a dip with tortilla chips.

Adult-Minded: I like this sauce with a modest amount of chipotle hot sauce to give a hint of flavor but no added heat. If you like the heat, though, add more hot sauce to taste!

Cashew-Note: You can omit the cashews if you have a nut-allergy. Simply puree the avocado with the water and other ingredients, but you will need less water. Start with about 1/4 cup, then adjust to thin as needed. Also use a lesser amount of salt and adjust to taste.

Kid-Friendly: Omit the chipotle hot sauce altogether, add another 1⁄4 teaspoon of agave nectar, and use this sauce to top your kiddos’ burritos, tacos, or even pasta or simple beans and rice.

Serving Suggestions: This sauce has star power beyond pairings with Mexican-inspired dishes. By merely omitting the chipotle seasoning, this sauce transforms into a creamy, sumptuous topping for just about anything, such as baked beans, rice and grain dishes, pasta casseroles, pizza, baked potatoes, salads, and stews.

Have any handy-dandy food storage/leftover tips to share – for avocados or otherwise?

Hope you love the soup! I’d love to hear from you when you try it. :) Enjoy my plant-powered pals!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie & Festive Chickpea Tart with Cranberry Sauce

I have another pumpkin recipe for you today – plus a couple of festive recipes perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all your holiday celebrations!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie by Dreena Burton #vegan

Let’s start with dessert.  Why not, it’s the chapter of cookbooks we flip to first, right?  This Chocolate Pumpkin Pie is one of my favorite recipes.  (Do I keep saying that?)  But, it’s true!  And, I know my readers have loved it over the years.  Why?  Partly because it is SO darn easy to make, and also because it doesn’t use things like vegan sour cream and vegan cream cheese (a lot of pumpkin pie recipes tend to).  This is a very rich pie, so as I say, a little slice will do ya’!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie soy-free

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This pie is rich and decadent, so a little slice will do!

1 1/4 cups non-dairy chocolate chips
1 can (14-oz/415-ml) organic pumpkin pie mix (I use Farmer’s Market Organic brand)
2 tbsp unrefined sugar
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1/8 tsp (rounded) sea salt
1 prepared pie crust of choice (optional – this pie is so rich, you can really make it without any crust)
2 tbsp non-dairy chocolate chips, optional (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 425°F (220ºC). Fit a metal or glass bowl over a saucepan on medium-low heat and filled with several inches of water (or use a double-boiler). Add 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips to bowl and stir occasionally as water simmers (not boils), letting chocolate melt. While chocolate is melting, in a food processor, add pumpkin pie mix (scraping out everything from can), sugar, arrowroot powder, and salt. Purée until very smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Once chocolate is melted, add to food processor and purée with pumpkin mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Pour mixture into pie crust (scraping out all filling) and tip pie back and forth gently to evenly distribute filling (if not using a crust, wipe/spray your pie plate with a smidgen of oil). Sprinkle on 2 tbsp chocolate chips.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350ºF (180ºC) and bake for another 35 minutes, until pie is set (the center may be soft, but it will set further as it cools). Carefully remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing, refrigerating if desired.

Note: You can use any pie crust of choice, including a wheat-free or gluten-free crust (see Let Them Eat Vegan for both wheat-free and gluten-free pie crusts).

Next, for your Thanksgiving dinner, the main course!  I have received rave reviews about this savory tart from Let Them Eat Vegan.  It is pretty easy to make, and you can even bake it without a crust if you prefer.  Definitely the centrepiece for your holiday dinners.

photo credit:

Festive Chickpea Tart gluten-free option, oil-free option

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Move over faux turkeys! This savory tart takes center plate with its combination of chickpeas, crunchy walnuts, spinach, and seasonings nestled together. This dish is elegant enough to serve for holiday gatherings, but also easy enough to make for a family dinner any time of the year.

1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil (or water for oil-free)
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
4-5 medium-large garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
Few pinches freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chickpeas, reserve 1/3 cup
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup rolled oats (optional, see note)
1 – 10 oz pckg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess water (about 1 cup after squeezing)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme added to puree)

1 prepared whole-wheat pastry pie crust, thawed (see note)
1/2 tbsp olive oil (optional, omit for oil-free)
1 tsp tamari
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped (for topping, no need to toast beforehand)

Add oil, onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 9-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and turning golden. In a food processor, add chickpeas (except reserved 1/3 cup), lemon juice, tamari, sage, salt, and sautéed mixture, and partially puree (not fully like hummus, but leaving some chunkier consistency). Add toasted walnuts and oats, and briefly pulse to lightly break up nuts. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in spinach, cranberries, parsley, thyme, and reserved chickpeas. Transfer mixture to pie shell (or lightly oiled pie plate, see note), smoothing to evenly distribute. Combine oil and tamari, and brush over top. Sprinkle on walnuts. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until tart is golden on edges and top. Cool 5-10 minutes, then serve with cranberry sauce, a spoon drizzling of oil/balsamic vinegar slurry, or other sauce of choice.  Serves 4-5.

Note: The rolled oats, while lending some structure to the tart, can easily be omitted.

Note: This tart can be made without the pastry crust, if needed. Do not over bake as tart will tend to dry out without a crust.

And, I think you need cranberry sauce on the side.  This recipe is also a reader favorite, from eat, drink and be vegan.

Festive Chickpea Tart by Dreena Burton #vegan

Traditional Cranberry Sauce gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free

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You’ll never buy another store-brand cranberry sauce after you’ve tasted this one – and, it’s a breeze to make!

1½ cups fresh cranberries, rinsed (see note)
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

In a pot on medium-high heat, combine ingredients and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have broken down. (Reduce heat is sauce is sticking or is simmering too rapidly.) Once sauce has thickened, taste test, and add balsamic vinegar for a touch of sourness if desired. Serve warm or chilled. Makes about 1 cup.

Note: Frozen cranberries can also be used; just continue simmering until cranberries break down into entire mixture thickens and becomes deeper in color.

Have you planned your holiday menu?… what are you making?

Summer’s Last Hurrah: Raw Yellow Tomato Sauce

Today is the last day of summer (officially), and I am resisting it with all my might.  While I love the introduction of fall produce like apples and winter squash, I am a summer girl at heart and will dearly miss the warmth of summer, the abundance of fresh local produce, and just how vibrant my body feels through those sunny warm months.

I hesitated posting this recipe from LTEV today, thinking “who will want a fresh, raw tomato recipe at this time of year?“…

But, maybe you with me, kicking and screaming like a sullen toddler to let go of summer.  And, maybe you still have some beautiful mellow yellow tomatoes at your markets – or in your garden (wink, wink: Heather).  If so, this one’s for you!

For these photos, I used this spectacular new pasta that I picked up at one of our local shops, Antony & SonsKing Soba Organic Black Rice Noodles.  Let’s ignore the dang rice and arsenic issue for now, because aren’t these noodles funky-cool?  They do lose a little of their color through boiling, becoming more of a purplish-grey rather than stark black.  But, still unique and a fun switch-up!

In these photos I did add the sun-dried tomato option (see savvy subs note in the recipe).  It adds great texture and flavor.  Also note that this sauce converts beautifully into a fresh salsa – again, see my recipe notes below!

And, like most sauces, I can pretty much eat this off a spoon (or tortilla chips)! :)

Raw Yellow Tomato Sauce gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free option LINK to print/share

Recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan

This sauce is fresh and vibrant, and can be served tossed into your pasta of choice, or topped on a whole grain, or kept virtuous in its raw capacity to accompany raw noodles or toss into a raw salad. Yellow tomatoes are usually less acidic and a little sweeter than red, and as they are such a glorious color, make the ideal ingredient for this sauce. Plus, with the addition of extra garlic and some jalapeño peppers, this sauce quickly transforms into a salsa (see note)!

2 1/2 cups chopped yellow tomatoes (see note & directions)

1-2 medium/large cloves garlic, cut in half or quarters

1/2 cup green onions, sliced (green portion mostly)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (optional, omit for oil-free version)

3/4 – 1 tsp sea salt (see note)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves (tightly or loosely packed)

½ cup red bell pepper, diced (and reserved; see note for sun-dried tomato option)

In a bowl, gently squeeze the chopped tomatoes to remove most of their excess juice. It will help keep the sauce from being too thin and runny (remove as much as you can, but no need to fret or excessively squeeze to remove it all; some tomatoes are naturally juicier than others). Then transfer the tomatoes along with the remaining ingredients, starting with 3⁄4 teaspoon of salt, excluding the bell peppers and optional olive oil, to a food processor or blender, and pulse to partially break up the sauce. Add the peppers and pulse again, maintaining chunkier bits of peppers rather than pureeing. Add additional salt and pepper to taste . . . then serve as you wish, in pasta, on rice, drizzled on a wrap sandwich, and so on.  (By the way, Brazil Nut Parm pretty darn good to top it off!)  Serves 3-4.

Adult-Minded: To switch this into a salsa, add another clove of garlic (if you like), along with 1⁄2 to 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced, and 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice. Substitute cilantro for the parsley or basil, and you can add more green onions, if you like. When processing, keep much chunkier than you would for a sauce.

If This Apron Could Talk:

I like one average clove of garlic in this sauce. You can add more if you like, but keep in mind that too much garlic can overpower the other subtle flavors unless converting sauce to a salsa.

You may want less or more salt depending on how you use the sauce. If tossing with cooked pasta, you may need extra; however, if drizzling over rice or grains, it will taste stronger and so you may opt for less.

If serving this on cooked pasta, it helps to bring the sauce to room temperature (if previously refrigerated) just so you aren’t tossing a very cold sauce into the pasta. Also, you can gently warm it by transferring the sauce to a covered container and letting sit in a few inches of hot water until it is has become warmed through.

Ingredients 411: At our local farmers’ market in the summer, there is a stall with beautiful organic bell peppers, eggplant, and a variety of tomatoes. I tried a variety of yellow tomatoes one week, and it became a favorite. The Hugh’s Beefsteak variety in particular is amazing in this sauce (and all on its own!), and the Lemon Boy variety is also quite lovely.

Savvy Subs and Adds: If you keep dehydrated/sundried tomatoes on hand (regular red tomato variety), try substituting about 1⁄3 cup, chopped, for the red bell pepper.  It adds some umami flavor and ‘meatiness’ to the sauce.

How about you?  Having a hard time letting go of summer, or do you absolutely love fall?  Do you still have fresh tomatoes handy to make this sauce?

p.s. New Plant-Powered Kids Series post coming next week!  Subscribe for updates!  Thanks to Ricki Heller for including this recipe in her Wellness Weekend!

2 Vegan Parmesan Substitutes: Brazil Nut Parmezan and Cheesy Sprinkle

In my recent plant-powered kids post about picky eaters, I mentioned two toppings that our girls love: “Cheesy Sprinkle” and “Brazil Nut Parm“.  Well, it’s not just our girls that love these sprinkly toppings – the adults in this household do too!

Ok, I love both.  Hubby is not the biggest nooch (ie nutritional yeast) fan, so he doesn’t “get” the Cheesy Sprinkle – but he LOVES the Brazil Nut Parm.  Both recipes are in Let Them Eat Vegan.  And, I decided I would share both recipes with you today.

First, the Cheesy Sprinkle.  This is somewhat like Parma, if you’ve ever tried that product.  I used to order Parma from Vegan Essentials.  But, it became pricey, and also I found the walnut base made my mouth a little sore (walnuts are the only nut that I cannot eat ‘freely’).  I started making it at home, and found that I preferred using a different nut base – being a combo of almonds and cashews.  Not only could I eat it ‘freely’… I enjoy the taste better.  For me, the blend of cashews and almonds is just right – cashews being a little softer/creamier and almonds harder/drier.  This is my favorite blend, but of course if you prefer to use the full amount of either cashews or almonds you certainly can.  Plus, I have a nut-free version for you so this can be used in school lunches (the nut-free version is NOT in my book, I just tested it out and giving it here).  While this type of nutritional yeast-based topping is often touted as a ‘vegan parmesan’, I don’t think it tastes anything like parmesan.  It tastes like a nutty, cheesy, savory sprinkly topping – hence the name “Cheesy Sprinkle”.

Cheesy Sprinkle (from LTEV)

Cheesy Sprinkle gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free  LINK to share/print

This topping, affectionately called Cheesy Sprinkle in our house, will be a favorite for kids big and small. Try it on salads, tossed into pasta, sprinkled on rice and beans, worked into sandwich mixtures, as a pizza topping, or eaten off a spoon (yeah, I’ve done it before)!

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup raw almonds (see note)

1/4 cup raw cashews (or more raw almonds)

1/2 tsp (scant) sea salt (about ¼ + 1/8 tsp)

1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Put all the ingredients into a standing blender and pulse until very fine and crumbly. Don’t overprocess, just pulse several times. That’s it! Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Makes about 1 scant cup

Adult-Minded: Try adding 1⁄8 teaspoon of onion or garlic powder.

Kid-Friendly: I make this often for our kiddos, and make it quick and simple using just the nooch, nuts, and salt. You may enjoy added flavor depth from the zest, but it’s not essential.

Savvy Subs and Adds: To make this mixtre nut free, substitute the almonds and cashews with: 3 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp chia seeds (preferably white chia), and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or sesame or sunflower).  Voila!

Alright, let’s talk about parmesan for a moment!  When I became vegan, parmesan was the last and hardest cheese for me to stop eating.  I even bought rice parmesan for a period of time (which was misleading because it contained casein).  And you know what?  I was hooked on that rice parmesan.  I remember searching town for it once when I ran out.  It wasn’t until later that I realized the casein was the culprit.  As my dynamic and talented friend Julieanna Hever explains in this clip, casein is VERY addictive.  And, as Dr. Colin Campbell outlines in The China Study, casein is particularly bad for the body, and promotes the development of cancer.  Dairy is bad news.  Once I finally kicked the casein – dairy was no longer an issue.  I didn’t crave it, didn’t want it.  No longer did I “need” that parmesan on my pasta or salads.

Still, most of us do like toppings, things that add flavor and texture to a dish.  So, in my quest to deliver a dairy-free parmesan to you, my readers, I came up with my next recipe – Brazil Nut Parmezan.  For me, this is the closest thing to a parmesan topping.  No, it doesn’t taste exactly like parmesan, but it gives you the same pleasurable notes as a parmesan… it is salty, tangy, and a richness from the natural whole-foods fats in the nuts.  Unlike the Cheesy Sprinkle, this delivers a parmesan mouth taste and feel.  And, it’s all from the technique.  It’s the slow, low-heat baking of the sprinkle that allows the tart lemon flavor to infuse into the processed brazil nuts, along with just a hint of cheesy flavor from the nooch that makes magic happen.  I explain more in this video. (Excuse the not-great hair… and the toddler screech at the end! Also this is pre-tripod, vertigo-inclined beware) 😉

And, since I didn’t give you a glimpse of the final product in that clip, here’s the money shot!

Brazil Nut Parmesan (from LTEV)

Brazil Nut Parmezan gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free Link to share/print

There are many versions of vegan Parmesans available, and in fairness, none of them are really like dairy Parmesan. But, we don’t need them to be! What we want is a tangy, salty, rich-tasting sprinkle that we can use for topping salads, pastas, pizza, and more. This topping delivers!

1½ cups brazil nuts (see notes)

½ tsp (little scant) sea salt

1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 275°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Process the brazil nuts in a food processor or blender until fine and crumbly. Don’t overprocess, or they will begin to heat and become pasty. Just pulse until finely crumbled.  Spread on the prepared pan. Toss in the salt, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Use your fingers to work these ingredients through the crumbled nuts.  Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, being sure to toss three or four times through the baking process (and check during last minutes of baking; the mixture should become dry and maybe a touch golden around the edges, but should not brown). Remove from the oven, let cool, and transfer to a container to refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups.

If This Apron Could Talk: If you cannot eat brazil nuts, I would substitute 1 1/2 cups raw almonds.  You could also try about 1 1/4 cup of almonds along with 1/4 cup of pine nuts.  After trying this for the first time, you might want to double your batch the next time round. It can disappear quickly! It’s one of my husband’s favorites; in fact, he keeps saying, “You should bottle this up and sell it”!

Kid-Friendly: Your little ones might love this just the way it is, but you can try bumping up the nooch another tablespoon to make it a little more cheesy. Also see Cheesy Sprinkle (recipe follows) for a cheesier-tasting topping.

Serving Suggestions: Any tomato-based pasta sauce will welcome this seasoning, as will a very modestly dressed pasta, such as one with olive oil and lemon juice. This topping works wonders on salads, and adds crunch and depth to cooked rice and other grains, as well as simple bean preparations.

Tomato Artichoke Pasta with Brazil Nut Parm (both from LTEV) photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

We LOVE this parmezan, and think you will too!  Please try both of these recipes, and feel free to share, tweet, etc.  You can find this and other healthy recipes in Ricki Heller’s Weekend Wellness!

I’d love to hear how you like these toppings!  Have you felt addicted to parmesan? What’s your favorite cheesy topping?

p.s. I have heard from so many of you that are loving LTEV.  If you haven’t shared a review on amazon, I would greatly appreciate if you could add a few words about what you love – even a sentence or two.  (And, upload any food images if you like!)  Thanks. 

“Magical” Oil-Free Vegan Salad Dressing! (gluten-free)

Cooking and baking is sometimes described as science… but I like to think of it more like magic.  Because sometimes an idea unfolds and is realized in food form with a way that is almost mysterious, yet very exciting!

This week this magic happened with an idea for vinaigrette.  I actually had this concept in my head many years ago, when I was writing Vive le Vegan.  I toyed with it, but left it behind at the time.  As recipe developers, we sometimes do this.  Either the notion becomes further developed down the road as our cooking evolves, or it never materialized.

The idea that was with me for years and manifested this week is… wait for it… using applesauce in a fat-free (or low-fat) vinaigrette.  Sounds a little strange at first, right?  But, think about the qualities of applesauce.  It has viscosity and moisture (the very things that help replace fat in baking) so why not aid a vinaigrette as well?  Initially the combination didn’t quite come together for me in terms of flavor balance.  After a few rounds of testing this week – ta-dah!  The magic happened.  The applesauce blends and helps emulsify the other ingredients so that you have a thicker, more rich and full-bodied textured dressing.

Magical Oil-Free Vinaigrette by Dreena Burton

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that if I don’t omit oil in a recipe (some I do), usually I keep it at a minimum in most of my recipes.  I do the same for sweeteners.  For me, cooking and baking is about heightening nutrition without compromising flavor.  In LTEV, there are a number of healthy whole-foods and oil-free salad dressings and sauces, but some of them have nuts and seeds (or nut/seed butters).  Still, some of you have been e-mailing for more low-fat and oil-free sauces and dressings, and options without any seeds or nuts.  So, this one’s for you (and there are more in store, stay tuned)!

Here, I’ve used a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons.  Those are not chopped tomatoes sprinkled over the zucchini, but strawberries.  Strawberries and balsamic are a beautiful flavor combination.  A few lightly salted pistachios round out the plate.

“Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette gluten-free, oil-free  LINK to PRINT/SHARE

This dressing uses applesauce to emulsify the ingredients and produce a surprisingly thick vinaigrette that is virtually fat-free!  Try it as is first, and then play with some of the seasonings to your own preferences.

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)

3/4 – 1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or more to sweeten to taste if desired)

1/4 tsp (rounded) sea salt (or more to taste)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using an immersion blender and deep cup (if using a blender, you may need to double the batch for enough blending volume), combine all ingredients, whizzing through until very smooth.  Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter add another teaspoon or so of maple syrup.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as well.  If you’d like a thinner dressing, simply add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend through again.

What are you favorite vinaigrette and salad dressing ingredients?