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Cheezey Kale & Broccoli Casserole

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As the holidays approach, we begin to revisit some of our old time favorites! Right? I love looking back at recipes from my childhood and revisiting them. I always enjoy making some of my old favorites part of my new favorites list by switching a few ingredients to make it vegan and gluten free. I have always been a huge cheese and creaminess person. It was seriously the worst part of my transition, in my mind at least. Finding what my other options would be was so helpful. I really recommend taking some of your favorite recipes and creating them with new swaps you find.

Daiya came out with an awesome array of boxed macaroni cheese to make cooking and the transition even easier at home. I thought that it would be fun to create macaroni and cheese casserole with one of the boxes and it came out fantastic. I always love asking my non vegan friends to taste test so I can get a good read on it as well as share with them how good eating vegan can be. One of my friends who eats dairy free most of the time, due to allergy, took a bite and said it wad good but that he really could only have a few bites because he then reminded me he was dairy intolerant. I had to laugh, because that mean he thought what I had made was full of dairy and gluten. So I did really well this time, wahooo!!

I always have to find a way to get some greens in, so you bet that I was able to do it here. I thought that kale and broccoli would go great with the four cheese flavor. I also wanted to add a little protein and flavor so I grabbed some Beyond Meat chicken strips and cubed those up and threw them into the mix. It was really simple and took no time to prepare the mac and cheese and then add the other ingredients together and pop it into the oven to add some crispiness. You can use some Gluten Free bread crumbs or some crumbled up chips, for some extra crunch. It is always important to add texture to a dish. For example, when I am eating something soft and creamy like yogurt, a crunchy granola adds a nice touch to the experience. Here, you have a warm and gooey cheesy dish that would go great with a little crunch.

One recommendation, because the chicken comes in a frozen package. When you use the chicken strips, let them thaw for about 15-20 minutes so that you can chopped them a little easier, or you can run them under warm water really quickly. Get excited to create something really yummy and flavorful that everyone will love. You can’t make a mistake here, there is so much flavor and texture, you just have to take the time to make and try this recipe out. Also, adding your other favorite veggies would be absolutely fine as well. Have fun and be assured that bringing this to any party will work wonders on everyones tastebuds.

 

 

Cheesy Kale & Broccoli Casserole

Casserole Ingredients:

•1 box Macaroni cheese

•1/4 Large Onion finely chopped

•1 Tablespoon coconut oil

•1/2 bag Beyond Chicken strips (defrost out of the freezer for 20 minutes OR run under warm water quickly to defrost and chop into smaller cubes)

•5 Dino Kale stalks – de stemmed and chopped.

•1/2 Head large broccoli cut into small pieces.

•Salt and pepper to taste

•1 Cup Daiya mozzarella

Method:

-Pre heat oven to 400.

-Boil water and Make macaroni and cheese according to package.

-Steam kale and broccoli for 7 to 10 minutes, to soften.

-Cut onion into small pieces and sauté for 3-5 minutes with coconut oil then add chicken cubes to warm for another 5 minutes.

-Then add greens and sauté for another five minutes. (Salt & pepper to taste).

-Add 1/2 Cup mozzarella shreds. Let the cheese melt and then add the Daiya Mac and Cheese to mix thoroughly.

-Add remaining mozzarella on top and bake at 400 for 8 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes after adding bread crumbs or crumbled chips for the last 3 minutes.

-Let cool for 10 minutes and then serve immediately or let sit overnight and the warm up. The flavor gets even more yummy and cheesy!

 

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dessert

Pistachio Ice Cream

EAA295F1-F697-42DE-BA53-C13BE70C9E57I love ice cream!! Don’t hate, appreciate. I am sure you can even relate!!I was never really a sweets or ice cream person, but I have always had a love for ice cream. It was either strawberry or peanut butter flavors, that I would get st the shop. Actually, side story, this local place in my hometown would rotate flavors and I’d call each week to ask if strawberry was in the mix, of so, I’d be there! True story! I have always loved fresh fruit and the sugar from fruit. I grew up in a household where we didn’t really get a lot of sugary or artificially sweetened foods. I am so thankful now that I was taught at an early age to stay away from artificial ingredients. Though I’m sure you can imagine, I wasn’t too stoked back then about not having all the sugary sweets.

After graduating college I traveled to Europe on a solo backpacking trip. Yep, SOLO! I’m crazy…. or cool, however you wanna look at it, and as you get to know me I’m sure you’ll understand. On this Euro trip, I had vegan gelato at some small cafe and it was pistachio flavor. My world was changed forever! FOREVERRRR. I now had a want and need for pistachio gelato in my life, though as some of you may know, gelato is definitely not vegan. After that if I ever got the chance to find a vegan pistachio gelato or ice cream, you bet your buns I got it!

Fast forward to now, well, I have been craving pistachio ice cream for a while now and have been meaning to make it. I finally had time and this is what I came up with. I have been making “nice cream,” as a healthy and non guilty treat, with bananas for a while now. It’s great! But this time, especially because I wanted the ice cream to be as green looking as possible, I decided to use avocado. Avocado has healthy fats, potassium, and other really great nutrients, so why not try it in an ice cream? It worked! It was fantastic and I can’t wait to make it again! I used setton farms pistachios and then chopped up one of their really yummy chewy bites and topped the ice cream with that for a little added sweetness and flavor.

I hope you enjoy the ice cream as much as I did. It’s pretty easy to make. The hardest part about this dang recipe is that you potentially have to wait over night for it. I know, so sad… OOOORR if you’re like me, you place it in the freezer for four hours and hope it’s mostly frozen and then dig in, haha. It’s your creation, you get to do whatever you want!

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Yummy Pistachio Ice Cream

2 1/2 Cups Oat milk (or any other non dairy milk)

1 large Avocado (or 2 small Avocados)

1 Cup pistachios – I used Setton Farms pistachios (get ready to peel them, or you can go find shelled ones too…)

1 Cup soft medjool dates

Optional for color and added nutrients: 1/4 teaspoon spirulina (highly recommended for color), and or a handful of spinach. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon matcha powder from navitas for more color and added nutrients.

*** As a sweet and yummy topping, I used Setton Farms Pistachio bites, which I chopped up and threw on top. Ok, Yum.

Method:

-First grind the pistachios into a powder, then set aside in a bowl.

-Then pour the milk into a blender and if your add any of the powders or spinach blend that together first. Then add the pitted dates and blend until they are all the way blended. It should be a very thick milky mixture now.

-Then blend in the avocado and once it’s become smooth, add in the pistachio powder.

-Pour the mixture in a container to place in the freezer for st least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

-Take the ice cream out of the fridge and let it thaw for about 15-20 minutes. Then use and ice cream scoop to make perfect scoops. It will be slightly icy and may not scoop in all in one piece. That’s ok, I had to scratch the ice with my scoop a good few times and then pack it into the scoop to really get a nice ball formed, then repeat with as many scoops as you’d like. This makes enough for 3-4 people to have two scoops.

enjoy my loves!!

XoXo, Stephie

entrees

Creamy Alfredo Sauce

39A6CA8F-130B-4AEB-BFB6-52975BA9AD27I am a sucker for anything creamy! Cheese, dips, sauces, anything. Unfortunately so many options today have dairy in them. I love Italian food and when I first started eating plant based, the easiest things for me to create and cook were things I was use to eating and making . I suggest any of you looking for healthier plant based options, to just find a few dishes you really love and then veganize them! Stick to what you know and are somewhat comfortable with! I think my first few recipes I learned how to make over and over again we’re Caesar salad, pasta recipes, taco salad, and tacos! There are so many possibilities.

Nuts are really the star in cheesy and creamy recipes. Cashews and macadamia nuts are the creamiest, but almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, etc., work just as well. As you dive into using different nuts to make different meals, you’ll start to get use to which ones work best for you and the many recipes you’ll be making. You’ll notice which ones have certain consistencies that end up working better for different recipes as well…. In this recipe, cashews take the win. If you or a loved one have a nut allergy, you can try raw and soaked sunflower seeds in place of cashews!

As much as I tell you about what brands have great dairy free options, I like to try eating as close to the source and as homemade, if possible. Even though plants are healthier, by over processing we sort of miss the point as well. So eventually, after you find your swaps and get comfortable with what you can use instead of actual dairy, I urge you to try getting even closer to Whole Foods like using nuts for creaminess and using beans or lentils instead of fake meats. But that is for another time, for now let’s just make some really yummy Alfredo sauce!

So as I said, there are so many options that you can exactly swap for another, especially in the dairy department. For example, to make a traditional Alfredo sauce that uses butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese as the main ingredients, you can find the vegan versions of those and be fine. I took it a step further to make it from unprocessed and whole food ingredients to bring you an even healthier version. Let’s get cooking towards some yummy and creamy goodness, shall we????

Creamy Alfredo Pasta

-1 package of Store bought Zoodles or spiralize 2 large zucchini. (You can spiralize other squash 94 sweet potato too)

-1/2 medium onion (chopped)

-1 Garlic Clove (minced, I put mine through a garlic press)

– 12-14oz package of Brussels sprouts or 1 head of broccoli, or really any veggie you would like to add (chopped)

Creamy Decadent Alfredo Sauce

-1/2 C Cashews (soaked for 2-4 hours)

-1-2 Cloves Garlic (I used my garlic press)

-1/2 C Water

-1/3 C nutritional yeast

-1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt

-1 teaspoon lemon juice

-1/4 teaspoon pepper

Method:

– Place chopped onions in a pan and heat on medium for about 3 minutes with a pinch of salt. Then add the minced garlic and stir for 2 minutes.

-Add your veggies and sautée them until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the zoodles and let them warm with the veggies for about 4 minutes.

-While stirring and sautéing the veggies, you can make the Alfredo sauce by placing all the ingredients in a high speed blender or if you don’t have a good blender, a food processor should work just as well. The consistency should be somewhat thick. If you like your Alfredo a little more runny, add a little more water.

-Then add the Alfredo sauce and coat all the zoodles and veggies and let it warm together for about 3-5 minutes and Viola!!! Now please don’t burn your mouth as you hurriedly scoop the pasta onto your plate and devour!!

***Optional: You can use gluten-free pasta noodles or any other zoodle pasta instead of zucchini, such as sweet potato or carrots, etc…too. And you can use any variation of veggies or no veggies at all if you want to keep to just a simple Alfredo pasta.

***Remember, my recipes are just a guideline to the magic you can create in the kitchen. 😍😍😍😍