Archive for Appetizers

Pinterest Inspired Spooky Smokey Spider Dip

Spooky Smokey Spider Dip

Pinterest Inspired Spooky Smokey Spider Dip. Ha! That’s a tongue twister.

If you are need a fun appetizer for your Halloween festivities this weekend, you really have to try this 5 minute dip! It’s about 5 minutes after you fumble around filling your cake decorator pouch with the vegan sour cream… You can always use a parchment paper cone! It’s also only 5 minutes if you have pre-made your guacamole or are using store bought. It’s up to you!

I love how the flavors came together on this one. So, do exactly as I say. Lol… ok, I just wanted to say that. Do whatever you want. Use your favorite salsa and vegan cheese but if you can trust me and my suggestions… you will like this! It’s just different enough that it’s not another regular old 5 layer dip.. blah blah blah. The salsa that I like gives this that spookiness… I mean smokiness.

First, make the vegan sour cream

Ingredients

  • A Half Block of Firm Tofu, Undrained
  • White Wine Vinegar, 1 to 2 tsp. Start with one.
  • Lemon Juice, about 1/2 Lemon Squeezed
  • Sea Salt *Optional
  • Agave *Optional

Directions

Add the undrained tofu to a high power blender, add the other ingredients minus the salt and agave. Blend, taste and adjust seasonings. I like to add a pinch of salt and a drop or two of agave just to round things out. See what you need. This should have a nice tang, like traditional sour cream.

Add your sour cream to the cake decorating bag with a small writing tip or use a parchment paper cone. See above.

Next, put together the dip

Ingredients

  • 1 Can of Refried Black Beans ( I used Whole Foods brand)
  • 1/2 Cup (guestimate) of Salsa. (I recommend Salpica Brand Rustic Tomato with Roasted Garlic. This is the key ingredient that makes the dish)
  • 3/4 Cup of the new Go Veggie Vegan Mexican Style Shreds
  • 1 Cup of fresh made Guacamole  (homemade or store bought.)
  • Tofu Sour Cream (Homemade – see above, or Tofutti brand)
  • Spices of Cumin, Chili Powder, Sea Salt or…. Pre-made Taco Seasoning
  • Scary spiders for the top
  • Fun Platter for Serving
  • Chips! You”ll need Tortilla Chips. We love Organic Blue Corn. But, what tasted great with this was Frontera brand with Lime and Sea Salt… it gave it an extra boost

Directions

Spread a full can of refried black beans into a nice flatish circle on the platter. Next, sprinkle some cumin, chili powder and sea salt… I just guessed it. You can also mix the beans with the spices first and taste and adjust before spreading, but I was feeling too lazy for this.

Next, spoon the salsa over the beans and spread it out being sure to still see the beans around the edge.

Then, over the salsa sprinkle the shredded vegan cheese, being sure to still see a salsa edge.

Spoon the guacamole in the center and spread out, being sure to see the cheese layer (I’m sure by now you get that each layer is smaller).

Last, take your cake decorator tube and draw your lovely spider web. Start in the center and draw your spider web. Top with the spiders, serve with chips and have a spooktacular time!

My Notes: I found this dip on Pinterest, here is the recipe but it doesn’t look like the original. It seems the original was lost in translation. That’s a shame. If you know it, let me know so I can give proper credit. Of course I veganized this and made it my own, which is always fun to do!

The new Mexican style shreds are great for this dip but don’t try in a quesadilla :( we were sorely disappointed with the drippy mess. We prefer Daiya for those.

I made this for Taco Tuesday this week and I should of heated the beans first, because it was for our family that planned to eat it right away. For the party, I didn’t bother heating it up, because dips sit around a while anyway.

This is a guess regarding how much of each ingredient. Make it to your liking and most of all, have fun with it.

Whip up a huge batch of my favorite Guacomole, carve a small pumpkin, and serve this along with it ~

puking pumpkin with guacamole

This idea seemed a bit over done to me, but I did it anyway, and I’m glad. It was a hit at our pumpkin carving party this year!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!!

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

 

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – Oil Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

I just want to try to convince you here, to make your own Hummus. It’s fresher, lighter and you control what goes in it. Not to mention you get more of it, for the money. There’s no “natural flavors”, whatever those could be, and it’s not dripping with oil, because we really don’t neeeeed those empty fat calories.

I am addicted to Hummus! The problem is, trying to find a store bought hummus that is not filled with those things I mentioned above. This recipe won’t be that exciting for many of you and I totally understand, but for my friends who might not have stopped to think about how easy it is to whip up your own fat free hummus, this one is for you!

There are so many possibilities and all different kinds of flavors. Just leave out the roasted peppers and play with it. And depending on what you are going to dip… chips, veggies, pita bread, gluten free pretzels (which we love, along with sliced cucumber) or crackers, you can adjust the seasoning to compliment it best. For instance, you probably don’t want to over salt the Hummus if you are going to eat it with something salted. But you might want to add some extra spice and sea salt if you are going to eat it with plain veggies.

Without the oil, there is a lighter feel to the Hummus, you may have to spice it more to compensate until you get used to it. But did you see my post about the dangers of oils? We certainly don’t need the extra oil. I am now making my own Hummus and it tastes so good! It might take some getting used to if you are only familiar with store brands. Our taste buds can get so manipulated that we have to stop and reset them back to “natural”. It takes a little time.

Although everyone who tries my Hummus, likes it a lot. I am a picky person, a tough critic of my own creations.  I was right up until the other day, looking for that unique ingredient that will really push this dip above and beyond.  I was thinking that it may be I want to try adding another roasted pepper to really go bold? Or add some of my dad’s canned peppers from the garden? But what I stumbled upon was the addition of Vinegar. Yep. Vinegar. It gives it that zesty zing that makes this dip awesome.

When you make your own Hummus, just know that the flavors really come out as it sets, chills and thickens up (in case you added too much liquid) in the fridge. Just have fun and adjust the seasonings to suit you. Try adding different herbs and spices. Add lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Just don’t be afraid to make your own… your way! It’s so much healthier, especially when you soak and cook your own chickpeas. I haven’t gone that far yet. But I imagine I will one of these days. The canned chickpeas I found at my local Meijer store, are organic and contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. Not great, but certainly better than most canned beans out there. These just make the cut off being 110 calories per serving. It is wise to make sure that any packaged products in a healthy diet contain no more sodium than it’s calories. Tough to do! So being in a hurry most days with our schedule, canned chickpeas it ends up to be.

I like the idea of adding roasted red pepper because red peppers have such a good dose of Vitamin C. Higher than an orange… 3 times more, actually. I understand that by lightly roasting the pepper, some Vitamin C may get destroyed. It’s still good. And I’m still gonna roast ’em!!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper
  • 2  15 oz cans Chickpeas, one drained and one with liquid reserved
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 or 2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1/4 or Cup or more Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2  Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon Zest
  • Optional*  Herbs of your choice

Directions

Note* The ingredients above can be adjusted to your liking.  First clean the pepper and remove seeds. Cut in half and place on a baking sheet and roast lightly. Do not brush the pepper with oil. I like to put mine in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes while I do a quick workout in my living room. Why not?

Next place all the ingredients except the spices and about half of the liquid from one can of the chickpeas into your Vitamix blender or high speed blender. If you don’t have a Vitamix, but you think your blender can handle it, go for it. I am pretty sure that this can be made in a food processor as well. Save the other half of the liquid from the chickpeas and use it to thin out the Hummus as you blend only if needed. Blend for 1 minute and use the tamper (with a Vitamix) to press the ingredients into the blades. Blend until creamy consistency.

Season the Hummus with the spices and lemon zest and plenty of sea salt. Place the dip into the refrigerator to chill and set for at least an hour.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

“Thoughts of lack manifest as limitation. Thoughts of abundance manifest as success and happiness. Failure and success are but two ends of the same stick.”

~Ernest Holmes

Happy Friday everyone! No, this quote doesn’t have much to do with chickpeas unless you think about all the creative ways in which chickpeas can be used in a plant-based diet. Plant-based eaters tend to think abundantly! After all, we have so many wonderful foods to choose from, it’s hard not to. I also believe the standard American diet tends to lend a hand in people not thinking about their food at all. Not caring where their food comes from and certainly taking it all for granted. At least this used to be me and it’s what I observe in others. Now I savor everything and appreciate the hell out of it! I appreciate colors, flavors, textures and good ethics that go along with creating it.

So have you ever heard of roasted chickpeas? I recently discovered this idea online and so I made these a few weeks back for the Forks Over Knives movie review and discussion I hosted. I didn’t exactly make them correctly, yet one of the guests couldn’t stop eating them! She even took them to go! So even if you screw them up a bit, like I did. They will still taste good. Practice makes perfect, but I think if you follow the directions you won’t screw up. I was in a bit of a hurry.

The key is to roast them until crispy on the outside. I didn’t quite get them that crispy on the first try because I was afraid of burning them. You just have to keep tossing them while baking. I used my toaster oven the second time around which seemed to help. I could see them a little better. Less distance. Maybe I need more Vitamin A for my eyesight?!

Chickpeas are a staple food in a plant-based diet. Think hummus. I do have a wonderful homemade fat-free roasted red pepper hummus that I will be posting soon. YUM! We go through hummus like water around here!

I like that we can switch things up regarding chickpeas. I actually used a chickpea oil blend in place of eggs for gluten free brownie recipe and it was amazing! They were like brownie protein bars! But in regards to this recipe, think about all the different spice combos to be tried. Many fun possibilities.

Roasted chickpeas, especially the spicy, salty ones, remind me of bar nuts, minus the musty bar smell, neon Miller sign and beer goggles.

Not only fun to eat, here is what you can expect from a cup of chickpeas: 14 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 45 grams of good carbs. Of course lots of vitamins and minerals… not going to get into details because it’s Friday. Just trust me. It’s all good.

Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained, (patted dry with a paper towel) and laid out to dry on a towel for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 Tablespoon of melted Coconut Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Sugar. I used Coconut Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly mist with oil.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and dash of sea salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Coat the beans in melted coconut butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Spread the beans out evenly onto your baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every five or ten minutes, all while checking that they are not burning , just getting nice and crispy on the outside.

Let cool and enjoy. Have a great weekend!

~The Karmatarian

Ps. I certainly want to hear your comments, especially if you make these!

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Vegan Deviled Eggs

Vegan Deviled Eggs! Or as I like to call them… Angel’ed Eggs

Why would I want to make “eggs”, you ask? Well we certainly didn’t go vegan because we hated the taste of the old diet! What my husband always tells people who can’t believe he eats vegan, is that it isn’t the meat, dairy, etc… that people are worried about missing, it’s the flavors. But if they would just realize that there are so many similar flavors plus so many newly discovered ones to be enjoyed when you finally go vegan, that you do not miss much, if anything at all. Of course there are a few exceptions, such as deviled eggs, but cry no more! Vegans have mastered the deviled egg and there is now even another new  product out there taking the place of egg yolks too called “The Vegg”, for your French toast of course!

About a week ago, my good friend Jinny posted this blog find on how to make vegan deviled eggs. I couldn’t believe it! I had to try this right away. Being too late in the game to gather all of the necessities, recreate it, and share my results before Easter so that you can do it too, I am letting you know now that these were dynamite! We still can’t get over how close to the real thing they are. Pretty darn eggsciting! I want to share my results with you because there are many more holidays and picnics ahead that will give you the opportunity to prepare this old family tradition… the vegan way!

So if the idea of eggs, and all that you have learned about them since being vegan hasn’t grossed you out of your mind and you can still enjoy the flavor of eggs, then it’s your lucky day! As far as deviled eggs go, I can live without the whites. It’s the filling that’s da bomb! This filling recipe alone is so good, that putting it on top of a water cracker or even crostini would be just as wonderful without having to turn your kitchen into a science lab. However, I am totally exaggerating here because the whites of these deviled “eggs” are ridiculously simple to make. You should really try it!

Since I happen to love a project and a challenge, I jumped right onto Amazon and ordered my egg molds and black salt. I didn’t order the Agar Powder because I was in a hurry to get everything. With my Prime membership, I could get everything before the holiday except for the most important ingredient, Agar Powder, only because they wanted some ridiculous 50 bucks for Prime (they have cheaper versions, but it comes snail mail) and I thought OH HELL NO. So instead I searched a few Asian markets nearby and the local Whole foods all to no avail. I ended up breaking the recipe’s rule, and tried the Agar flakes, which I found at Whole Foods Market. It did work, but only with my newly concocted measurements and the fact that I used the coffee grinder to grind down the flakes smaller and denser. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, and now I realize that I really need one! Anyway, my results had the whites turn out with a bit more texture than I preferred, but I continued on, and the final product was still amazing!

The other thing I need to tell you about is the egg mold. When it arrived I was so MAD. I was wrong about the math and these were FAR bigger than I wanted… What was I going to do? Luck has it, I married someone of Danish descent who suggested that I use our Aebleskiver pan. Brilliant!!!! I didn’t let the molds that I bought go to waste, we made gluten free vegan Easter egg cakes, converted from a cupcake recipe from my favorite cupcake book, “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”. Those were AWESOME!

So, lightly oiling the Aebleskiver pan, I poured in the mixture and set it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. When it was done, I just whipped up a second batch and did it again. If you want an entire platter of “eggs”, you may want to make these ahead of time so you can make batches, unless you have better luck finding a small half egg pan that makes a lot at once. Please let me know if you do! Turns out, our Aebelskiver pan that was collecting dust, was the the perfect size for these “eggs”. After these set, I used a butter knife to loosen and remove them and I used a tiny metal scoop to scoop out some of the white before filling them. I made sure to scoop a little off center, this helped the end result to look more egg like!

For the whites, I used:

  • 1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
  • 1 T Ground Agar Flakes
  • ¼ tsp Black Salt

I followed the recipe exactly for the “yolk” filling and let me tell you, you could eat this in it’s entirety by the spoonful!

Click here for the recipe, Maresa’s Vegan Deviled Eggs

You just have to try these if you were once a deviled egg fan! They are so much fun and would make a fun addition in texture and shape for a vegan party spread!

Having the black salt on hand in your pantry will be wonderful to use as an addition to tofu scrambles, “egg” salad sandwiches or even raw, coconut meat scrambled “eggs”. This gives a true egg flavor, (sulfur) but without the horrible smelling gas that you get from eating real eggs, not to mention ruining everyone’s otherwise pleasant atmosphere! Lol, just imagine all the people right now after Easter with this lovely egg farting problem! Well not I :) …I am also happy to report that I didn’t overdose on Peeps either. I feel so lucky that I don’t find those wretched things appealing!

So when I attempt these vegan deviled eggs again, I will be sure to follow the directions exactly, and use Agar Powder. I can only imagine how perfect they will turn out when I don’t break the rules! I will be sure to update my post with a new pic.

Good luck on your vegan adventure, have fun with your projects and take it on as a challenge. Remember, it’s about having fun with flavors!

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

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Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins

Gluten Free Vegan Sweet Corn MuffinsGluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins

You know what? Not bad for a gluten free vegan corn muffin! I made these yesterday with my Fast, Friendly & Vegan Big Game Chili. A little early, yes, but that’s what I had a taste for. I’m not sure what we are doing for the Super Bowl this Sunday. I am actually in the midst of a big move to a new house and as exciting as that is, it’s nuts over here and I’m overwhelmed! I should really pack. I guess Madonna is the half time show so I definitely want to at least catch that. To be 11 years old again with black jelly bracelets up to my elbows and a rag bow tied in my ever stiff, aqua net sprayed hair.

Nope. Glad those days are over.

My recipe was inspired by a Forks Over Knives recipe. Check out the other Super Bowl food ideas they offer. These muffins became gluten free when that was the only corn meal mix I could find around here. But so many people are looking for gluten free so I figured I’d share this recipe… and because it turned out! Gluten free is not always easy. My four year old gobbled these down and told me before he fell asleep last night that I was the best mommy ever for making him yummy muffins. Gotta love that!

Well, if it is chili you decide to make for this weekend, I sure hope it’s vegan! If it’s my recipe you make, you can omit the vegan ground meat and add extra beans or veggies to make it an entire gluten free meal along with these GF corn bread muffins. 

Unless you have another favorite chili recipe to share? I would love to hear it… although I really do like my fast prep chili recipe. Have you tried it yet?

Happy Super Bowl everyone! I hope your Sunday is fantastic.

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 Tbs Ground Flax Seed
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup, Grade B
  • 2 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup Frozen Organic Sweet Corn Kernels

Directions

Heat oven to 375

In a bowl, combine the ground flax seed and almond milk and set aside.

In another bowl, blend the maple syrup with the applesauce and add it to the ground flax seed mixture.

In a larger bowl sift together the gluten free cornbread mix, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt (or do what I do and put these ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift”…. Idk? It works for me).

Add the wet ingredients slowly to the dry while mixing to incorporate well but do not over mix!

Fold in the frozen corn kernels.

Spoon into a lined muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes until they turn a light golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

*Note: I tend to like my cornbread a little sweet. I think these could use added agave because they are not as sweet as the title makes them sound. If you really like sweet, try adding a sweetener of your choice.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Lemon Maple Ginger Kale Chips

Raw Lemon Maple Ginger Kale Chips

“The stuff we should be eating has become the decorations on the plate”

~Doug Lisle, Ph.D

So I hear that Kale is the new beef. I believe there is a lot of truth to this… and here are 7 reasons why. But let’s be honest. Beef and kale are not comparable! Kale is packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals that fight off cancer and disease. Beef = Zip! Beef actually promotes cancer and disease. Hmmm, so which one should I eat? YES, KALE… It’s what’s for dinner!

I recently purchased a new dehydrator and I’ve only been able to play with it about a dozen times so far. I made a couple batches of kale chips which were so easy. No dehydrator? You can even try making them in the oven, cracking open the door and keeping the temp at 120 or below if your oven will allow. I haven’t tried this. If you have, please let me know what worked for you in the comments below. It may take a while longer to use the oven and it seems a little dangerous keeping the oven door open so may I suggest for your healthiest (and safest ) you, add a dehydrator to your wish list. It’s inspiring to have one around!

You may think kale chips? Really? I thought the same thing at first. There is something addictive about Kale chips… They are soooo so good. A must try!

Kale is easy for me to consume in a green smoothie, such as my favorite kale and Bosc pear combo, but I haven’t wrapped myself around the kale salad craze. I have had some, not-so-tasty ones over at Whole Foods. I haven’t yet tried to make one myself (I am hoping I can do a little better, but who knows?). If you massage the kale with lemon, olive oil and sea salt, this helps break the kale down to a more pleasant texture and takes some of the bitterness out for a salad. Sauteing kale is another great way to get this superfood into the mix.

So far, kale chips are my favorite way to eat kale. Different flavors are fun to experiment with and so far I have made chocolate, apple raisin cinnamon and these lemon maple ginger chips which are inspired by one of my favorite organic teas I am obsessed with! It’s just a lemon ginger tea that I find at the local grocery chain (I’m shocked they even carry some organic. But I’m thankful).

My lemon maple ginger kale chips have a fun zippy kind of flavor. They have far less calories than potato chips and do a hell of a lot more good for your body. Try them and let me know what you think! I have only used the curly kale for my chips but I’m thinking that for a heartier chip I will try the Lacinato kale aka dinosaur kale next round. It’s important to tear the kale pieces larger than you think as they shrink with dehydration.

Lemon Maple Ginger Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • Large head of Kale torn into bigger than bite size pieces away from the stalks (you can then juice your stalks or discard)
  • 2 Tbs Lemon Juice. I use Santa Cruz brand organic pure lemon juice
  • 4 Tbs Maple Syrup, Grade B
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger Root
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt

Directions

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except for the kale pieces. Blend well with a whisk and then incorporate the kale, mixing and tossing to coat evenly using your hands. Spread out on the dehydrator sheets lined with Paraflexx and dehydrate until crisp, about 12 hours. If it needs more time, place onto the mesh sheet and dehydrate another 4 hours.


What are some of your favorite kale chip flavors? Favorite kale salad recipes? Favorite ways to prepare kale? Please let me hear it!

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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Nut Cheese and Chive Black Beluga Lentil Crostini’s

Most likely you are running around with last minute details for that fabulous costume. Well that’s what I’ve been up to. Halloween is my favorite! I’ve been quite low key for the last few years though. Maybe because I’m letting my little one be the shining star, that and I don’t want to scare him with my spooky ideas. I’m all about SCARY. Isn’t that what Halloween is supposed to be? When did it all change? What’s up with sexy this and sexy that? I feel forced into the concept. Try costume shopping… Oh, you know. I’d like to think I’m sexy 365 days a year, but maybe that’s just me trying to take the power back for us women. Can’t I be spooky and scary and theatrical just one night? If I choose to be spooky, why is it that I feel I don’t fit in? Hmmm. What oh what has our world come to?

Anyway…

This year, I get to dress up twice. Princess Leia (a classy costume to go along with my little Jawa with light up eyes!) and I also finally get to be a Witch! Although, I do a terrific job playing the part once a month without costume. Ha ha. Just kidding… or am I? I do have an idea in mind for a festive witch hat and I would love to win a prize (for best hat) at one of my events. I was running around gathering the props and then was forced to take a break due to a sick kid. Gotta love Preschool.

So what better to do than experiment in the kitchen…

So, let me tell you about my nut cheese and chive black beluga lentil crostini’s. They are gooooood! I know this because I ate every one of them! Thankfully I only made a few… I made these just as an experiment, looking for a gourmet Halloween appetizer. But I have to recommend these for any holiday or any time. They sure look the festive Halloween part though. The lentils here remind me of caviar, dahhling. But caviar is not so appealing these days. Not sure it ever was. These look different and fancy which is my point here.

These can be assembled the day before the big event and the left over’s hold well and can be reheated. Serve warm or room temp. If you start ’em out warm and they turn cold waiting for your guests to arrive… no worries. They will still taste great!

I experimented adding an orange lentil layer. Very pretty. But the texture was not as good served cold. Even warmed, it toned down the other flavors too much. I also experimented adding vegan bacon bits…VERY GOOD. But the smoked flavor does over power the more delicate flavor of the ‘cheese’ and chives. I say leave the orange lentils out of it, they just looked good for my photos. This was a hard call but I would leave the Bac’Uns out of it too, unless bacon flavor is what you prefer. 

This recipe was inspired and adapted from a Trader Joe’s recipe. It is a mix of vegan-raw. You can also make it gluten free by using a gluten free bread or cracker, preferably garlic flavored or just rub raw cut garlic on each before assembling.

What You’ll Need

For the Base~

1 Loaf of your favorite Baguette, sliced into thin rounds

1 cup olive oil

1-2 large Garlic Cloves

For the Nut Cheese~

2 Cups of Raw Macadamia Nuts

2 T Lemon Juice

2 Garlic Cloves

1 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt

2 Bunches of Chives, chopped (saving some for the garnish if desired)

About 1/2 C Plain Almond milk

For the Top~

8 oz cooked Black Beluga Lentils

(I used TJ’s fully cooked pre-packaged version of black beluga lentils because I had it on hand. It does bother me that the canola oil in this package could be GMO, so next time I will make my own lentils. Here is a bag of organic Black Beluga Lentils I found on Amazon.  If you try them let me know how they are.

What to do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rounds in a single layer on baking sheet. Brush each with olive oil. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until slightly golden. Remove and cool. Peel and slice the end off a garlic clove. Holding the clove in your fingers, rub the top of each crostini.

To make the nut cheese~

In a food processor place the macadamia nuts, lemon juice, garlic cloves and salt and process until a fluffy consistency. It will be thick. Transfer cheese mixture to a bowl and add just a splash of almond milk at a time, (you may not need a full 1/2 Cup here) while mixing to create a more spreadable texture. Add the chives to taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

To Assemble Crostini’s

Take the crostini and spread each with the chive nut cheese, top with spoonful of beluga lentils. Serve room temperature or heat in the oven on a low setting. Garnish with chives if desired. 

Note* If using Bac’Uns, just sprinkle sparingly atop the ‘cheese’ before adding the beluga lentils. Or for a prettier end result you may consider mixing some Bac’Uns right into the nut cheese mixture so you don’t really see them and the lentils stand out.

Happy Halloween!

The Karmatarian~

Ps. Let me know what you think… did you add the bacon flavor bits or stick with just the chives? 

Here is a recipe I found for a black beluga lentil salad with goat cheese you may also enjoy… and you bet I would substitute with nut cheese! It’s an easy sub now that I know how to make nut cheese and consider myself addicted! 

Pss. I will most likely post some costume pics on my Facebook page… Join me there at www.Facebook.com/karmatarian

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Maureen’s Mango Avocado Salad

So the story of Maureen’s mango avocado salad is three-fold… 

First, I just threw my son a birthday party. He turned 4! I can’t even believe how time flies. I really wanted it to be a party for me though. A celebration that mommy made it this far with my sanity still in tact! Had I remembered how much work a party is, I may have just packed us up and went on a fun trip (for the price) instead! Mommy didn’t  get to do much celebrating, she was hard at work in the kitchen! Do you know how hard it is to find a healthy gourmet caterer in the burbs of Chicago let alone anyone prepping vegan dishes? There’s a niche there just waiting to be discovered. I don’t think it’s for me though.

I wanted my guests to enjoy great food that is healthy and kind all at the same time.  So if you want anything done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. I made it happen! Everyone loved the food. Kids included. They also had a blast with the batman theme and bounce house. When the party wound down, who do you think was in that bounce house getting her money’s worth and bounce on? That’s right. Mommy. That was a fun stress relief that I highly recommend. I am thinking some fitness classes need to be catered to grown-ups while in a bounce house. That could be fun!?!

I would love to show you more pics of the party and food. Visit me at my Karmatarian Facebook page. Please “like” me and check out a few photos! You can bet that this mango avocado salad was on the kitchen island along with some other yummy apps. When I was in search of another dish to serve, I thought of my amazing client and friend Maureen!

Fun story of how I met Maureen. Back when I worked at Emmett Rode Salon in Lincoln park, I was new there and trying to build my clientele. I plastered flyers all over that town. I hated doing it too. I went far and wide and put some on the back board at Karyn’s raw cafe. That’s how I met Maureen. She was interested in the organic hair color line that I use and took her chances and called me up. Any marketing person knows the feedback you get from a flyer. It’s like 1% or something ridiculous.  I don’t know why I bothered? No, I take that back. I got an amazing friend out of it! Who would have know that Maureen and I would hit it off so well and have tons of fun at our hair sessions every few weeks since!? Every time I see Maureen she hooks me up with the most amazing raw food! She makes wonderful green smoothies for us and our conversations are so much fun and in depth. I appreciate you Maureen! You are the best!

Maureen has been raving about this salad since I met her. She makes it for so many parties and occasions that she deserves the title. She didn’t make this one up though. I will get to that in a sec. Anyway, she swears people just devour this. I often wondered about it and it was on my “list” to try and then she served it to me a few weeks ago! OMG. She was not kidding! Something about this salad. It’s a refreshing change and very flavorful. A must try!

Maureen has a great hook-up herself. This is my third part to the story. Maureen has a really great friend named Linda who is a fabulous Raw food Chef! Hence, where all of Maureen’s raw food comes from that she in turn shares with me when I visit. Can you say… Lucky! Although I don’t know Linda personally, I feel like I do. She sounds like such a cool person. Linda owns Green Spirit – healthy living Please check out her great website! Linda offers home delivered raw food packages that are very reasonable. She has classes where you can learn how to create raw food for yourself and there are a lot of recipes on her website too. If she only wasn’t so far away from where I live, I would be there bugging her all the time! I do plan on taking a few of her classes in the near future and giving you a much more in depth review of Green Spirit! I love that places like this exist! Thank you Linda! Your food is amazing!!! This I know, because I have tried so many of your different dishes. Each one full of flavor and presented beautifully! So. A long story short. This recipe for Mango Avocado salad is originally from the famous Linda!  Please try it out for yourself and please check out Green Spirit if you are in or near the  North Chicago area! You will love the food!!!

Well here it is… The Famous Mango Avocado Salad!

You’ll Need

3 Mangoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

3 Avocados, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 bunch Cilantro, Chopped

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil

3 Tbs Lime Juice

1 1/2 TBS White Sesame Seeds

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

2 Serrano Chiles, minced (remove the seeds which are the hottest part)

Directions

Combine all ingredients and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Note* I have also tasted this recipe with just a small amount of diced (very tiny) red bell pepper. Maybe a tablespoon, possibly more. It’s great for added color. I had enough red colors running through my party theme as far as food goes, so I chose to leave out the red pepper!

Enjoy,

The Karmatarian~

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Simple Mango Chutney Dip

My summer was very busy, sprinkled with a little bit of fun and unfortunately a little bit of stress. I was hoping things would slow down so I could find time to blog. No such luck on the slowing down thing. What I was really waiting and hoping for was a little inspiration which came in time for Labor day. Funny, I realize my last article was written for Memorial day. I don’t plan these things,  but I guess I did however unintentionally take the summer off from blogging. I’m back and hoping your summer was a great one!

It was time for my son’s 3rd birthday party mid August which kind of  feels like the end of summer for us. I had a blast planning his Thomas the train birthday bash and I was very inspired by this super EASY appetizer dip I made. I can’t take total credit as my girlfriend Carrie gave me the original recipe a few years ago and I’m not sure where she got it. I never thought I would enjoy this one again, but I Veganized it my friends!!! I’m happy to report it was a total hit, the first dip devoured, and if you make it, be prepared for everyone to ask you what’s in it. I almost didn’t want to tell anyone, especially those omnivores who just don’t get it yet, but I did anyway, for the shock value of course! This dip is really delicious and the flavors were just meant to be combined together!

Side note: I am not a huge fan of processed foods, especially soy products which are not organic. However, making a dip for a party doesn’t happen everyday and moderation is key. This dip sure beats the alternative… cruelty to animals, planet and your arteries!

Simple Mango Chutney Dip

What you’ll need

1  8 0z tub of Tofutti brand  Better than Cream Cheese

1 jar  of  Trader Joe’s brand Mango Ginger Chutney (or similar brand)

1 Cup or more of  Vegan Bacon Bits (I love the one Whole Foods sells in bulk)

The green section of a few Green onions (or Chives if you choose)

Wheat Thin Crackers. These are the original recipe cracker of choice but now I like Trader Joe’s version which has simpler ingredients and similar flavor.

How to prepare it

I used a 9″ round glass pie dish. First, spread the “cream cheese” on the bottom of the dish. Next, spread all the delicious Mango Ginger Chutney on top of the cream cheese to cover it (it has a spicy kick but don’t worry, the cream cheese tones it down when eaten all together, it’s perfectly balanced flavor!). Then sprinkle on the bacon bits which add a ton of flavor and a bit of needed crunch (I left no Mango Chutney uncovered). Last, cut the green section of a few green onions in about 1/4 inch pieces or smaller and sprinkle them on top for flavor and color and as much as desired (I sprinkled a much lesser amount than the Bacon bits). It’s that simple! Your dip is prepared…

 

Enjoy!

The Karmatarian~

 

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Secret Cilantro Guacamole

So I’m thinking you need my secret guacamole recipe! Being the holiday weekend, you might be looking for a great dairy free appetizer. Most appetizers revolve around cheese… This is always my staple vegan, vegetarian and raw  (besides the chips) appetizer which is fun and festive! Friends ask me for this recipe all the time!.It reminds me of fresh table side guacamole at a very high end Mexican restaurant. I don’t prefer garlic or jalapeno’s in my guac but suit yourself. Add it after you try it my way!

Secret Cilantro Guacamole

Ingredients

2 large ripe avocados (preferably)  or 3 small

1/4 cup red onion

1/2 cup tomato

1/2 bunch of cilantro for 1 Tablespoon of specially prepared cilantro *see below

1 slice of lemon

1 slice of lime

1/2 tsp sea salt

Organic corn chips (I prefer blue corn)


The Secret is the Cilantro

Ok there’s nothing really secret about adding cilantro to guacamole folks. It’s how you add it! I have been trying to perfect my guacamole recipe for years and I finally have it down to a  science (for my taste… and it seems for everyone’s I serve it to) It started with these basic ingredients but included chopped cilantro. But when you dip your chip, you may or may not get a taste of chopped cilantro and in my opinion, the cilantro makes it! I got lazy one day and instead of chopping cilantro, I found these frozen cubes of cilantro from Trader Joe’s, thawed one or two  and added it! It was so amazing because the cilantro flavor was blended throughout the dip which means every bite tastes the same, delicious! However, I wanted to figure out how to make it organic, raw and as fresh as possible without those additives Trader Joe’s put in those frozen cubies… Here is what I came up with using my blender, which tastes even better (I have not tried the food processor).

Specially Prepared Cilantro

About 1 cup cilantro (the green leafy parts. You can cut and toss the stems) … give or take

About 1/2 cup water … give or take.

Put both ingredients in the blender and blend or pulse (you don’t need to do much)  it will be soupy, but should remain thick enough to be caught in a metal mesh strainer.  Strain and scoop a Tablespoon of the cilantro mixture to be added to the guac. If there is left over, don’t toss it just yet. You may desire to add more. I have not tried to freeze my own cubes of this mixture but it’s on my list. Let me know if you try it!


Putting it all together

Cut your avocados in half lengthwise around the seed and then remove. Squeeze out your avocados into a bowl.

Move on to chopping the red onion and tomato. I’m a sucker for infomercials! I love using the Vidalia Chop Wizard for this because the ingredients will be the same shape and size. Add this to the avocados in the bowl.

Cut the end off the lemon and lime. Cut one slice (about 1/4 inch) of each and remove the seeds. Squeeze the juice of each slice into the avocado mixture. One slice of each has worked for me, but thin slices! You can always add more.

Add 1 Tablespoon of the specially prepared cilantro mixture. Add 1/2 tsp of Sea salt and mash. Start with a potato masher and then switch to a spoon as to leave it a chunky texture. Taste with your chip. Depending on how salted or unsalted your chips may be, you may need to adjust the salt. Adjust if necessary, the lemon, lime and cilantro according to taste and then try not to eat the whole bowl!

I would love to hear your thoughts and reviews!


Enjoy!

The Karmatarian~

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Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salad Over Red Quinoa with Cilantro Dressing

I made this new dish tonight that was very inspiring! You can enjoy this as an appetizer or main dish. Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, and this dish would be perfect for a party.

This dish was adapted and altered from the back of a Trader Joe’s Organic Red Quinoa box. Thank you Joe! The dressing recipe was altered from a Betty Crocker recipe I found. Thank you Betty! This could be served as a salad or as a main dish like I enjoyed it tonight. The warm red quinoa was amazing. This dish is beautiful, different and deliciously vegan!

Updated on 6/24/13 – to make life easier. I just made this dish again over the weekend and tweaked the measurements and rewrote the directions to make it simpler to follow. I am happy to report, this dish was a hit as usual!

Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salad Over Red Quinoa with Cilantro Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Red Quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth (above)
  • 1, 15 oz Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Cups Frozen Sweet Corn Kernels, thawed
  • 1 Avocado, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, finely diced
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1/3 Cup Cilantro, chopped
  • Cilantro Dressing (recipe below)
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish – optional

Directions

Cook quinoa with broth according to package directions.

While quinoa is cooking, combine beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion, lime zest and cilantro. Add the Cilantro dressing (recipe below) and toss gently. Taste, and add sea salt as needed to bring out the flavors. It may not need much more. I added a little over 1 tsp more.

When quinoa is cooked, drizzle with olive oil, mix and spread evenly onto a large platter and top with the bean salad. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. 

Cilantro Dressing

  • 1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs Finely Chopped Cilantro
  • 3 Tbs White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 – 3 tsp Agave Nectar

Place all the above ingredients into a container with tight fitting lid and shake. Taste and adjust.

Let the quinoa cool before topping it if serving as a salad, or top it and eat it warm right away! Mmmmm. Mmm


 

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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