DDD Ep. #13 – Healthy and Cheesy Vegan Green Enchilada & Spicy Chili Pepper Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – kiddies! DDD #13 is UP!

Like boobs? Like mac & cheese? Who doesn’t? I am really proud of this episode (and my cans – it seems) as it makes the best of a disaster & really showcases (boobs) how mac & cheese can be delightfully vegan (boobs). But – if (boobs) mac & cheese is not your bag – my rack is very prominently on display here & really tries hard to distract viewers from the recipe in progress so – feel free to just focus on that. Watch my blunders, my fun bags or learn a great recipe – I don’t care. Just watch! I even have a post-credits blooper! Oh – and I think I say “fuck” about 20x in this. So – enjoy!!! Please share & please SUBSCRIBE!! Did I mention boobs? BOOBS!

Click the link for my Green Enchilada & Spicy Chili Pepper Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower recipe & please subscribe!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFiPBGYVT0s

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So – I wanted to make a healthier mac & cheese – less cheese (even less vegan cheese) and less pasta.  I looked in the fridge & my pantry & found these potential ingredients.

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As it turned out – I used all but the vegan cream cheese & the Daiya cheddar shreds.    So – the only actual cheese (vegan cheese) in this recipe is the Field Roast Chao Tomato-Cayenne slices.  If you can’t find these or do not like them (I think the 3 Chao cheeses are the best grocery store vegan cheeses on the market so far) – then use Daiya or any other kind of vegan cheese – or even real cheese (if you are not vegan).

This is a very easy dish to make – though it does have a few steps.  The only special tool you need is a blender (or a food processor).  No need to soak cashews overnight.  And – most importantly – it is VERY convincing!  None of the over-powering flavor of nutritional yeast yet all the wet, creaminess of real mac & cheese.  I swear – non-vegans will not identify this as vegan.  It has the additional benefit of using two full heads of cauliflower – but they blend in and become virtually undetectable – so your veggie hating kiddies will likely eat this with little argument (though you might want to reduce the spiciness for tender palates).

My primary excitement about this recipe is the green enchilada roux.  Traditional roux is made with butter, flour & milk.  I definitely wanted to use the green enchilada sauce but I did not want the dish to be swimming in liquid – as I feared it might be if I made a roux with milk and also added the enchilada sauce.  Happy news!  The enchilada sauce blended & thickened with the butter & flour as easily as milk would have but added SO much more flavor.

Again – while there are a few steps (mainly, boiling & draining to heads of cauliflower & the pasta) – none are difficult & the resulting dish is supremely gratifying!   I hope you try it!

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Healthy and Cheesy Vegan Green Enchilada & Spicy Chili Pepper Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

Serves at least 6

INGREDIENTS

2 heads cauliflower (I used one white & one yellow)

for the roux

4 TBS vegan butter

4 TBS flour

16 oz green enchilada sauce

7 oz vegan cheddar (sliced up or grated)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (SUPER optional – I just had a little left over that I wanted to use up)

for the mac & cheese

1-2 jalapenos – one seeded & diced and one seeded & sliced (optional – depending on your taste for spice)

1 4oz can diced green chilies (I used hot but you could use mild)

2 ears corn – kernels cut from the cob (or about one 14 oz can of corn or 1 cup frozen corn)

1 lb pasta (shape of your choice)

1-2 cups breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Cooking spray

GARNISH: cilantro, avocado, diced tomato, hot sauces, additional fresh jalapeno or canned chilies

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Treat a 9×13 casserole pan with cooking spray.

Cook the pasta according to directions (maybe 1 minute less than suggested) – drain & set aside.

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If you are using 2 different colors of cauliflower – you might want to cut each into florets & then boil & drain them each separately.  Or not.  It doesn’t matter much but the yellow cauliflower purees & looks like a cheesier sauce than white cauliflower will.  Still – some cheddar cheeses are white – so – don’t sweat it, whatever you decide.  If you are just using 2 heads of the same color – boil until just tender (5-7 minutes) – drain & set aside.

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If you used one head of yellow cauliflower – put it (with about 1 cup of hot water) into a blender & puree until very smooth.  Only add just as much water as you need to accomplish this – which could be more or less than a cup of water – depending on the size of the head you used.

If you used to heads of the same color – just puree one head worth as described above.  Set aside.

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Melt the butter in a sauce pan & whisk in the flour.  It should thicken & brown a bit very quickly – maybe a minute.  Add the enchilada sauce incrementally – letting it thicken before adding more – until it is all incorporated & rater thick.

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Add the cheese & stir until it melts.

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Add the pureed cauliflower & nutritional yeast (if using), salt & pepper to taste, and then one diced jalapeno, canned chilies & the corn.

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Combine & adjust S&P – if necessary.

Put the sauce in a large bowl & then add the pasta and the remaining cauliflower florets.  Combine.

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Pour the mac & cheese into the casserole dish & top with breadcrumbs & maybe some sliced jalapeno.  Spray with cooking spray – as this helps the breadcrumbs brown (because vegan cheese does not have the animal fat of real cheese – which is what browns in traditional mac & cheese).

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Bake at 400 for about 30-45 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are browned a bit & the cheese sauce is bubbly.

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Let rest for about ten minutes & then serve.  Garnish with avocado, cilantro, diced tomatoes and/or anything else you like.

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Easy Vegan Thai Sweet Basil & Coconut Lentils

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Lentils are cheap, versatile, comforting & good for you.   These can be made thick & served over a grain (like Basmati rice) or made a bit thinner & served as a soup.  They freeze well, too, so why not make a fuckton – like I did – and freeze a bunch for lazy days in the future?

I used sweet basil from Bangluck Thai market in Hollywood but hot basil or regular basil will do.  Were I to make this again – I would double the basil quantity.  I used a small amount of coconut milk in this so keep it lighter & less fattening but more coconut milk would make this creamier & yummier.  I also used a combination of lentils & dal & mung beans – seen below.  You can use all one kind or any combo you have handy.

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Easy Vegan Thai Sweet Basil & Coconut Lentils

Makes a large pot full

INGREDIENTS

Coconut oil

5 cups lentils (or dal or mung beans)

1 onion – diced

2 jalapenos – chopped (optional)

1-8 garlic cloves (to taste) – minced

1-2 TBS minced ginger

5 ounces (or more) coconut milk (a 15 oz can would not be too much – I just kept it light)

2 TBS rice vinegar

6 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)

8 or more cups vegetable stock

1-2 cups fresh basil

GARNISH – cooked rice & more basil

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DIRECTIONS

Melt 1 or more TBS of coconut oil (or other cooking oil) in a large stock pot.  Add the onions & jalapenos & saute until soft.  Stir in the garlic & ginger for a minute & then add everything else – (except the fresh basil) – starting with only about 6 cups of the stock.  Bring to a boil & reduced heat to low.  Cover & simmer for 30-60 minutes or until your lentils are soft.  I used & immersion blender & mashed about 25% of the lentils.  Not necessary.  Add more stock for a thinner dish or a soup.  Heat it down if it is too thin.

Stir in the fresh basil & serve with additional basil as garnish.  Serve as it is or over cooked rice.

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Clean Cooking & a 21-day Arbonne Healthy Eating Detox – Vegan or Vegetarian Style

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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A bunch of my friends are doing the 28-day Arbonne detox.   Click that link to go to their site & get a pretty thorough overview of the program.  My friends all bought the whole program & committed to a 28 day cleanse.  I was out of town for the first week, working, so – I started a week late.  They all bought the products that assist in the detox – I did not (though I caved & bought the 7-day Cleanse).  Other products they include are a protein shake & detox tea & some other things.  Frankly, the price tag was a little out of my reach plus – I do not buy into the level of protein people in fitness & nutrition seem to be fixated on.  Plus – the diet plan was not going to be especially restrictive for me as I eat pretty clean already.  Here are the things you CANNOT eat on this cleanse (and it is a cleanse – NOT a diet):

  •  Dairy
  •  Gluten
  •  Soy
  •  Peanuts & Peanut Butter
  •  Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup
  •  Artificial Sweeteners
  •  Coffee
  •  Alcohol
  •  All Fruit EXCEPT limes, lemons green apples & berries
  •  Pork
  •  Farm-raised fish
  •  Non Cage-Free Eggs
  •  Non Free-Range Chicken
  •  All Beef, other than grass fed
  •  White Potatoes
  •  Corn
  •  Nitrates
  •  MSG
  •  Vinegar

And here is the list of things you CAN eat:

  •  Almond, Coconut & Flax Milk
  •  Brown Rice
  •  Raw Almonds
  •  Almond Butter
  •  Coconut Sugar
  •  Stevia, Xylitol
  •  Green & Herb Teas
  •  Non Starchy Vegetables
  •  Organic green apples & berries
  •  Cage-Free Eggs
  •  Wild-caught Cold Water Fish (limit to 1x per week)
  •  Free-Range Chicken and Turkey
  •  Grass fed Beef (limit to 1x per week)
  •  Sweet Potatoes, Yams,
  • Turnips
  •  Legumes
  •  Avocado
  •  Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Flaxseed Oil

So – I do not eat beef, chicken or fish & I really try to avoid eggs and I almost never eat sweets.  But, a quick look at the menus & shopping lists found HERE left me confident that I could tweak things easily enough to stay satisfied.  For me – the big challenge is not drinking a bottle of wine every night.  Yes, every night.  Also – my faux chicken of choice, Beyond Meat, has soy in it – so – I was going to try to minimize using it – but for the purposes of this cleanse ONLY!  I will definitely return to it – likely before the end of my first week.  Beyond Meat is just too good & the Quorn (I just realized) has both eggs & sugar in it.  I bought this Quorn stuff to try, instead, though.  It is NOWHERE NEAR as convincing as Beyond Meat but I will be using what I bought – and return to Beyond Meat.  And it worked well in the chicken soup I am posting here.

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Initially, I had no intention to blog about this experience but I did not want to go a month without posting things so – I am dragging you along on my journey.   Because I did not intend to blog about it – I did not take very nice photos of the first dishes I tried – so please forgive the photography.

Oh – because I have a bunch of random vitamins & supplments around – I decided to add them (until they each run out) to my daily regimen.  There is fish oil here because I bought some ages ago to aid my thin hair.  Then I gave up fish – but – fuck it.  I bought them, I have them, my hair needs help – so – I am taking them.  Here is the random collection I amassed:

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The plan suggests having one of their protein shakes for breakfast & maybe lunch, too.  I never eat breakfast & do not believe I need a daily protein infusion so I am blowing off the shakes.     So – I took the week 1 shopping list and spent $200 on everything on it that I did not already have.  Five big bags, stuffed to the brim.  For just me.  For one week?  But – know that the recipes I have made – made an ENORMOUS amount – enough for two – easily.  In addition – they are easy & really very good, so far!  So – if you and your partner want to do this plan – I would not double the recipes.  So – $200 to feed two adults every meal & snack of the day for 7 days seems pretty economical, to me!

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So far – I made their snack suggestion:

Beet Hummus

Serve chilled with carrots, sliced cucumber, snap peas or other favorite veggies or brown rice chips.

INGREDIENTS

2 large beets, peeled and steamed

1 can garbanzo beans, mostly drained

2 lemons, juiced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. white pepper

2 garlic cloves

2 heaping Tbsp. tahini

¼ cup avocado oil (olive oil works well too)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender and whirl till they have a smooth consistency!
  2. Chill and enjoy all week with veggies of your choice or brown rice chips

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I could not find brown rice chips so – I used those above.

Then I made their

MONDAY

Lunch:

Beet and Avocado Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 beets pre-cooked (or steamed)

1 avocado

1 cup spinach

handful pistachios

Sweet and Spicy Dressing:

1/8 cup agave (I cut this in half)

1/2 Tbsp. siracha (I doubled this)

1/2 Tbsp. EVOO

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cube beets and avocado.
  2. Layer spinach, beets, avocado, and pistachios.
  3. In a blender combine agave, siracha, EVOO and S+P.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad, Enjoy!

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This salad is a revelation!!!!  I adore everything in it & the dressing was AMAZING!   Plus, it made enough for two – so I ate some more with my dinner.  AND I had it for lunch the next day!

Dinner was their:

Dinner:

Twice Baked Potatoes

*Veg: sub mushrooms instead of ground turkey

2 large sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp. ghee

1 package ground turkey (I used Quorn meatless grounds – which I just discovered are merely vegetarian!)

taco seasoning (see recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com)

1 cup spinach

S+P to taste

fresh salsa (see recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com) – I used store bought

½ avocado

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook potatoes in oven 30-45 min. (or until easily pierced in the center with fork)
  3. Brown ground turkey with taco seasoning and a few tsp. of water.
  4. Cut potatoes in half and scrape inside into a med size bowl saving the skins.
  5. Mix in ghee, turkey, spinach and S+P to taste.
  6. Fill skins with the mixed potato.
  7. Place in shallow baking dish (covered in foil for easy cleanup) and broil for 5 min until top is browned.
  8. Add a scoop of your favorite fresh salsa and avocado.

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TWO large sweet potatoes PLUS a 12 oz of protein?  In my world, that is enough for two.  I did not bother to stuff & cook the potato a second time.  I ate it as above.  I had another entire potato & more than half of the faux meat/spinach mix left over.  I saved the second potato & fed it to my dogs over the course of two days, with their dinner.

The extra meat/spinach I added to the next recipe I made:

Dinner:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

*Veg: substitute veg broth and omit chicken

INGREDIENTS

2 cups shredded chicken

4 Tbsp. olive oil

½ onion diced

1 large carrot; diced

1 zucchini; diced

1-quart chicken broth

2 cups water

1 lime + 1 more lime for topping

S+P to taste

4 Tbsp. cilantro + more for topping

1 can black beans

2 cups your favorite red salsa (fresh recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com)

I added about 1-2 cups of leftover faux meat crumbles & spinach from the previous day – which was GOOD!

Toppings:

tortilla strips (brown rice tortillas cut in half and then cut into 1/4-inch strips and fried in coconut oil/ or EVOO)

diced tomatoes

chopped green onions

cilantro

½ avocado

lime wedge

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add EVOO to large pot over med heat.
  2. Once oil is warmed, add chopped onions stirring often so as not to burn. Cook approx. 3-5 min until onions are tender.
  3. Add shredded chicken, chicken broth, water, juice of 1 lime, carrots, diced zucchini, carrots, cilantro, black beans, salsa and S+P to taste.
  4. Simmer for 1 hour or longer.
  5. Pour into individual bowls and add preferred toppings toppings

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The only toppings I used were avocado & cilantro.  Frying tortilla strips (and I could not eve FIND brown rice tortillas, anyway) seemed like unnecessary calories.

This soup is delicious!  Especially with the addition of the vegetarian meat crumbles from the previous night’s leftovers.  I had it for dinner, lunch today and I still have more than enough for lunch tomorrow.

So – so far – this plan is great!  I am not a snacker so – I have not indulged in any food outside of the two meals a day except – late night when I get hungry (because I have been way too energized to fall asleep before midnight – UNHEARD OF for me) – a handful of berries & maybe 8 raw almonds.  I have not missed the wine, either, which is nothing short of a miracle!  I will admit, I have become OBSESSED with My 600 Lb. Life!  Mostly, I am amazed by the different shapes various people’s bodies take in an effort to store 600+ pounds.  I would include some images but it feels like body-shaming – despite the fact that the show exists precisely to shock them into their own reality & then try to help them but MY LORD!  The human body is an amazing thing.

So – I will keep you posted on my progress with this thing.  So far – I am giving it an enthusiastic thumbs up.  It might even be better if I could have sprung for all the fun products they offer but I will have to live with this budget version.  If you CAN afford it – and I THINK it is about $300 – and you do it – let me know your results.

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Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This soup is very easy & guiltless & comforting & delicious.  I roasted the turnips because I was roasting other veggies & just included them.  Once they were done, I though – why not add them to this soup.  You could roast all the veggies n this soup first, if you wanted to, but that is not necessary.  There is enough flavor going on without that extra step.  The vegetables I used were random & included simply because I had them around.  You can add or delete ingredients according to your taste or what you have handy.

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Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas

Makes about 8 cups

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS vegan butter

1 large fennel bulb – chopped (reserve some fronds for garnish)

1 large leek – sliced

1 zucchini – sliced

2 celery stalks – chopped (reserve a few celery leaves for garnish

3 large potatoes – peeled & cubed

3 small turnips – chopped

4 carrots – sliced

4 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS fresh oregano (plus maybe a bit extra for garnish)

2 TBS fresh thyme (plus maybe a bit extra for garnish)

Vegan milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) – maybe a cup or so

S&P

Pepitas as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

I like a few chunks in my pureed soups so – if you do, too – take one carrot & one potato (both cubed) & boil until soft.  Drain & set aside.

If you want the soup completely pureed – skip that step.

Heat the butter in a large stock pot.  Add the chopped, raw veggies & saute until soft.  Add the stock & herbs (no need to chop the herbs) & bring to a boil.

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Very carefully, in batches, blend the soup smooth.  I added just enough almond milk to each batch so that it blended very smoothly.  Reheat.  Add the boiled carrots & potatoes.  Ladle into bowls & garnish with celery leaves or fennel fronds & some pepitas.  Add some cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

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Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut-Ginger Cream, Pistachios & Pomegranate Seeds

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This might – honestly – be the most delicious soup I have ever made and it is as easy as can be.  If you have a blender, food processor or immersion blender – you can wow the fuck out of your friends with this glorious, autumnal, light & healthy, rich & creamy soup!  I used all the random veggies that I had wilting in my vegetable bins.  You can add or subtract ingredients but I gotta say – this baby is kinda perfect!  Very little added oil & chock full of veggie nutrients.  The Coconut- ginger cream is certainly optional but it adds a nice level.  The pistachios & pomegranate were for texture & color – but they can go with little impact on this soup.  If you are not vegan – stirring in a little goat cheese might be a nice touch.

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Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut-Ginger Cream, Pistachios & Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

3 medium sweet potatoes – sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

3 bell peppers – halved & seeded

1/2 onion (or a leek or some shallots) – peeled & cut in half

10 small carrots – ends trimmed

1 jalapeno (optional)

1 TBS fresh lemon juice (optional)

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp red (or other) curry powder (or curry paste)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne

Several fresh thyme sprigs (or 1/2 tsp dry thyme)

4 cups vegetable stock

olive oil (or coconut or other oil)

S&P

Garnish – pistachios and pomegranate seeds (optional)

for the coconut-ginger cream

5.5 ounces coconut milk

1-3 TBS minced ginger (I used a squeezable kind) – or to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the vegetables in a bit of olive oil & spread in a single layer on cooking sheets (covered with either foil sprayed with cooking spray or parchment paper).  Salt & pepper liberally.  Cook for about 30+ minutes or until the veggies are soft.  Some might need to come out earlier than others.  I cooked an extra sweet potato to put in my dogs’ food tonight.  They LOVE sweet potatoes.  The bell peppers should blacken a little bit.  When the peppers are done – either put them in a tightly-closed container or wrap them in foil to cool a bit.  This will make them sweat & the skins should peel off nicely under running water.  Do not worry if all the skin does not come off.

Meanwhile – combine the coconut milk & ginger – adding ginger in increments – until it tastes good to you.  Set aside.

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Once you can handle the veggies (not the sweet potatoes) – chop them a little bit.  Seed the jalapeno to make it less spicy.  I used the seeds.

Heat a little olive oil in a large stock pot & add the chopped veggies & sweet potato and garlic.  Stir to combine & then add stock & spices.  Squeeze in about a TBS lemon juice.  Bring to a boil & turn off heat.

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Puree the soup in batches or with an immersion blender.  I added about 1-2 cups of water to thin it enough to puree in the blender.  Season with S&P.

Serve garnished with coconut-ginger cream, pistachios & pomegranate seeds.

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Vegan Creamy & Healthy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This one is easy & healthier than you might guess – because both the pasta & the sauce are chock full of cauliflower.  No cream is used & you can control the ratio of pasta to cauliflower to suit your tastes & needs but the cauliflower in the sauce is a great way to get extra veggies into your kids.

I used fresh roasted red bell peppers but you can used jarred.  It is not difficult to roast them.

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Fresh Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Ingredients

Red bell peppers

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DIRECTIONS

Roast on a grill or on the burners of your stove (or in the over at 500 degrees for 30-40 minutes) – turning often until completely black on all sides.  Wrap in foil & allow to sweat a few minutes.  Under cold running water – slide the skin off the peppers & remove the stem & seeds.  Done!

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Vegan Creamy & Healthy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Cauliflower

Feeds 4

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

1 large head cauliflower – cut into florets

3-5 red bell peppers (The more you use the stronger the flavor & brighter the color.  I used 3 in this.) – roasted & peeled as described above OR an equivalent jarred roasted peppers.

1 large leek – sliced & washed (or onion or shallots) – pat them dry to avoid splattering the oil

1-6 cloves garlic (to taste) – chopped

1 – 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh basil (plus extra for garnish)

Crushed red pepper to taste

S&P

1-2 TBS nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan

12 oz pasta

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta, drain & set aside.

Meanwhile, boil the cauliflower 5-7 minutes – until soft.  Drain & set aside.

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In a very large saute pan, heat about 1 TBS olive oil & saute the leeks until soft.  Add crushed red pepper & garlic and saute another minute.

Put the leeks, about 1/2 the cauliflower florets, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, vegan Parmesan, fresh basil and s&p (to taste) into a blender or food processor.  Puree adding as much milk as you need to get the sauce to a consistency you like.

Return the sauce to the pan & add pasta & remaining cauliflower.  Heat through & season to taste.  Serve with basil as garnish.

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Healthy and Cheesy Vegan Green Enchilada & Spicy Chili Pepper Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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So – I wanted to make a healthier mac & cheese – less cheese (even less vegan cheese) and less pasta.  I looked in the fridge & my pantry & found these potential ingredients.

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As it turned out – I used all but the vegan cream cheese & the Daiya cheddar shreds.    So – the only actual cheese (vegan cheese) in this recipe is the Field Roast Chao Tomato-Cayenne slices.  If you can’t find these or do not like them (I think the 3 Chao cheeses are the best grocery store vegan cheeses on the market so far) – then use Daiya or any other kind of vegan cheese – or even real cheese (if you are not vegan).

This is a very easy dish to make – though it does have a few steps.  The only special tool you need is a blender (or a food processor).  No need to soak cashews overnight.  And – most importantly – it is VERY convincing!  None of the over-powering flavor of nutritional yeast yet all the wet, creaminess of real mac & cheese.  I swear – non-vegans will not identify this as vegan.  It has the additional benefit of using two full heads of cauliflower – but they blend in and become virtually undetectable – so your veggie hating kiddies will likely eat this with little argument (though you might want to reduce the spiciness for tender palates).

My primary excitement about this recipe is the green enchilada roux.  Traditional roux is made with butter, flour & milk.  I definitely wanted to use the green enchilada sauce but I did not want the dish to be swimming in liquid – as I feared it might be if I made a roux with milk and also added the enchilada sauce.  Happy news!  The enchilada sauce blended & thickened with the butter & flour as easily as milk would have but added SO much more flavor.

Again – while there are a few steps (mainly, boiling & draining to heads of cauliflower & the pasta) – none are difficult & the resulting dish is supremely gratifying!   I hope you try it!

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Healthy and Cheesy Vegan Green Enchilada & Spicy Chili Pepper Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower

Serves at least 6

INGREDIENTS

2 heads cauliflower (I used one white & one yellow)

for the roux

4 TBS vegan butter

4 TBS flour

16 oz green enchilada sauce

7 oz vegan cheddar (sliced up or grated)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (SUPER optional – I just had a little left over that I wanted to use up)

for the mac & cheese

1-2 jalapenos – one seeded & diced and one seeded & sliced (optional – depending on your taste for spice)

1 4oz can diced green chilies (I used hot but you could use mild)

2 ears corn – kernels cut from the cob (or about one 14 oz can of corn or 1 cup frozen corn)

1 lb pasta (shape of your choice)

1-2 cups breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Cooking spray

GARNISH: cilantro, avocado, diced tomato, hot sauces, additional fresh jalapeno or canned chilies

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Treat a 9×13 casserole pan with cooking spray.

Cook the pasta according to directions (maybe 1 minute less than suggested) – drain & set aside.

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If you are using 2 different colors of cauliflower – you might want to cut each into florets & then boil & drain them each separately.  Or not.  It doesn’t matter much but the yellow cauliflower purees & looks like a cheesier sauce than white cauliflower will.  Still – some cheddar cheeses are white – so – don’t sweat it, whatever you decide.  If you are just using 2 heads of the same color – boil until just tender (5-7 minutes) – drain & set aside.

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If you used one head of yellow cauliflower – put it (with about 1 cup of hot water) into a blender & puree until very smooth.  Only add just as much water as you need to accomplish this – which could be more or less than a cup of water – depending on the size of the head you used.

If you used to heads of the same color – just puree one head worth as described above.  Set aside.

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Melt the butter in a sauce pan & whisk in the flour.  It should thicken & brown a bit very quickly – maybe a minute.  Add the enchilada sauce incrementally – letting it thicken before adding more – until it is all incorporated & rater thick.

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Add the cheese & stir until it melts.

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Add the pureed cauliflower & nutritional yeast (if using), salt & pepper to taste, and then one diced jalapeno, canned chilies & the corn.

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Combine & adjust S&P – if necessary.

Put the sauce in a large bowl & then add the pasta and the remaining cauliflower florets.  Combine.

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Pour the mac & cheese into the casserole dish & top with breadcrumbs & maybe some sliced jalapeno.  Spray with cooking spray – as this helps the breadcrumbs brown (because vegan cheese does not have the animal fat of real cheese – which is what browns in traditional mac & cheese).

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Bake at 400 for about 30-45 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are browned a bit & the cheese sauce is bubbly.

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Let rest for about ten minutes & then serve.  Garnish with avocado, cilantro, diced tomatoes and/or anything else you like.

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