How to Make Vegan Avocado Pesto

Vegan Avocado Pesto

Pesto adds flavor and texture to nearly any meal, from scrambled eggs, soups, salad dressings, pizza, and of course, pasta. While traditionally made with cheese, it is simple to make a dairy-free pesto. Simply replace the cheese with a perfectly ripe avocado. By doing so, you replace saturated fat with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The result is a very silky, fiber-rich and low-glycemic index sauce which is arguably just as tastey as the traditional cheese version. Continue reading “How to Make Vegan Avocado Pesto” »

Paleo Cauliflower Pizza Crust with Sweet Potato

Grain-Free Cauliflower Sweet Potato CrustThis grain-free pizza crust recipe is cauliflower-based with some sweet potato, which lends a slight sweetness and softness to each bite. Almond meal replaces grain flour and flax-seed gel serves as a binder. The result is a delicious grain-free pizza with slices you can pick up without it falling into pieces…unlike several of the recipes I tried.

A crust without flour is simple, but requires a little more attention to detail. First, it is necessary to squeeze the excess water out of the steamed cauliflower to avoid a dreaded soggy crust. Cutting or breaking the florets into the smaller, bite-size pieces will ease this process. Only the cauliflower needs wringing, but if you find it easier to drop everything into the towel, including the sweet potato, that will work as well. Don’t worry about getting the last drop, but put a little muscle into it!

Next, if you want to eat the pizza by the slice -with your hands, instead of scraping it off the pan with a fork (this has happened) you will need to flip the pizza half-way through the cooking process. I thought this seemed like a bigger hassle than it really is. Simply make sure you have your second sheet of parchment paper and a cutting board (at least the size of the baking pan) ready to go. Pull the pan out of the oven, place the second piece of parchment over the crust, place the cutting board on the top, then flip it, slide the parchment and crust back to the pan and place it back in the oven. You’re good to go.

Finally, if you want your crust to be a perfect circle fitting perfectly on your baking sheet, one pound (before steaming) of combined vegetables seems to be about the right quantity. And, to eliminate the guess-work about crust size, I recommend placing your first piece of parchment paper into your baking sheet, then making crease marks at the edges to use as a guide when spreading the ‘dough’.

GRAIN-FREE CAULIFLOWER SWEET POTATO PIZZA CRUST

Inspired by Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CD
Yield: One 10-inch pizza (2-4 servings)

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • Food processor or high-speed blender
  • Sauce pan and steamer basket
  • Baking sheet
  • Cutting board
  • 2 pieces of parchment paper, size of the baking sheet

Grain Free Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Crust

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 medium head cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets (up to 4 cups).
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, unpeeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons whole flax seeds, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon dried italian herbs or oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided (some for the crust and some for the vegetables)
  • 3 tablespoon coconut or olive oil for greasing the baking sheet and sautéing vegetables
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake (or cremini) mushrooms, 4-6
  • 1/3-1/2 pesto (regular or dairy-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)

CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATO CRUST DIRECTIONS:

Flax Egg Mixture

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  2. Place your baking sheet in the oven.
  3. Combine the water and ground flax-seed. Stir intermittently until it forms a gel, about the time it takes to steam the vegetables.
  4. Place a steamer basket inside of a saucepan or stock pot with a few inches of water.
  5. Place chopped sweet potato and cauliflower florets into the steamer.
  6. Steam vegetables until both are easily pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes.
  7. Wrap the cauliflower into a tea towel, twist it and press firmly to wring out as much of the excess water as you can.
  8. Transfer the steamed vegetables to a food processor or high-speed blender.
  9. Add the flax gel, almond meal, Italian herbs, 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Blend until smooth. The ‘dough’ will not be like regular pizza dough. It will be fairly wet.
  10. Lightly grease one piece of parchment paper. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the center of the paper. Using a rubber spatula, spread the dough out from the center until it is evenly about 1/8th inch thick, but no less.
  11. Remove the baking pan from the oven.
  12. Transfer the crust and parchment paper to the baking pan.
  13. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  14. While the crust bakes, sauté vegetables toppings (see Vegetable Directions below)
  15. After 20 minutes. remove the pan from the oven. Place the other piece of parchment paper on top of the crust. Placing a cutting board on top, flip the crust, then slide the crust back to the baking sheet.
  16. Bake for another 20 minutes, until the top appears dry and slightly toasted.
  17. Remove the pan from the oven. If possible, slide the crust and parchment paper to a cooling rack. Let the crust rest for at least 5 minutes to release steam.
  18. Assemble the pizza per below, or as desired.

Pizza Vegetables

VEGETABLE DIRECTIONS AND PIZZA ASSEMBLY:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sprinkle lightly with some of the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Saute until softened, between 2-4 minutes.
  4. Remove the onions from pan and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining oil to the pan and allow it to heat up.
  6. Add mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle lightly with some of the remaining salt and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until soft and slightly browned.
  7. Spread the pesto evenly over the pizza crust.
  8. Spread the sautéed onions, then the mushrooms and red chili peppers (optional) over the pizza crust.
  9. If topping the pizza with cheese, turn on the broiler and place the crust under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Otherwise, place back into the 400º to rewarm for 5 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve!

Grain-Free Cauliflower Sweet Potato Slices

 

 

NUTRITION NOTE – GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR CAULIFLOWER:

To get the full nutritional benefits of cauliflower, chop it up at least 40 minutes before cooking. This is enough time for the chemical reaction to take place which produces sulforophane, the compound most responsible for cauliflower’s health benefits. This reaction won’t happen if the cauliflower is heated immediately after being broken apart by hand or cut by knife.

More: How Get the Benefits of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables – When Cooked!

Have you tried cauliflower pizza crusts? Willing to try this one? Please leave a comment below!

Summer Recipe Make-Over Time!

Summer Recipe MakeoverIt’s not quite summer yet, but the Farmer’s Markets are once again lively. A round of applause, please! I’m looking forward to making my favorite summer recipes. But, I want to know which seasonal foods do you want to learn more about? Do you have a summer recipe for which you would like to give a health make-over? Lighter, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, add nutrients -all of the above? Let me help!

If you would like your recipe to be considered for a make-over, provide the following in the comments:

  • Name of the recipe or a description of the kind of healthy recipe you want.
  • The actual recipe (if you have a specific one you want to give a health make-over). A website link or attachment in an email is fine.
  • What you like about the recipe? If there is a reason it is special to you, I’d love to hear the story!
  • What would you like to change to make it healthier or suit your dietary restrictions?

That’s it! I hope to hear from you whether it is a recipe make-over request or questions about the nutritional aspects of or how to prepare any specific seasonal produce.

Cheers,

Maribeth

Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad

Quinoa Black Bean SaladIt’s not easy to love a minimum wage job at a mall. But, I loved my part-time job at Pasta & Co. In the 80’s, fresh pasta was a retail novelty. While Pasta & Co was one of Seattle’s first retailers to offer fresh pasta, it was their specialty sauces and prepared foods which captured my imagination. The owner, Marcella Rosene put a creative twist on everything in that store, from selecting unique and defining recipe ingredients, such as black sesame oil to her beautifully hand scripted product labels. In her stores, something as simple as croutons were memorable. Pasta & Co. The Cookbook, the first cookbook I ever bought myself, is still with me today, dog-eared and splattered. The book is now out of print. But, I noticed a few new copies available on Amazon for $215! Continue reading “Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad” »

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

Cauliflower-Yam Pizza Crust

Pectin makes cauliflower quite the chameleon, disguising itself as ‘mashed potatoes’, ‘rice’ or even ‘steaks’. But, when I kept reading about cauliflower pizza crust, my reaction was ‘I don’t think so’. That is, until I read friend and colleague, Michelle Babb’s version in Anti-Inflammatory Eating Made Easy’. Trying this recipe set me on a quest to find the ultimate cauliflower crust. If you are curious, skeptical or intrigued about cauliflower pizza crusts, let me save you a lot of time. This is the best one I’ve tried yet. But, stay tuned as I’m on a mission to find a cauliflower pizza crust recipe for a variety of dietary preferences. Let it be said. Let it be done.  Continue reading “Cauliflower Sweet Potato Pizza Crust” »

Mom: Cook, Nourish, Repeat.

Today we honor mothers and all they do. As a food blogger and dietitian, I’m grateful that my mother passed on her passion for nutrition and cooking to me. Starting at a very early age, simple food-related tasks, such as going to the grocery store with her, were treasured outings. She taught me how to select certain produce… what to look for and what to avoid. She would then give me my mission, “Now go pick out 6 nice onions.” Most likely, the time coaching me in the selection process took more time than it would have to pick out the produce herself. But, I loved being her assistant -especially when it came to making pies. I would ‘help’ her role out the dough with my 6-inch child’s rolling-pin. Continue reading “Mom: Cook, Nourish, Repeat.” »

Daiya Cheese: It Melts!

Daiya Vegan CheeseIf you’ve tried dairy-free cheeses, you know delicious options exist, but few which actually melt. This can be a deal-beaker. Can you imagine nachos without melted cheese dripping, stretching and oozing across the layers? Let’s not go there. Instead, check out Daiya! Continue reading “Daiya Cheese: It Melts!” »

Jalapeño Infused Tequila

Jalapeno Infused Tequila After Two Weeks

Infuse your booze! Infusions are an inexpensive, simple way to create your own  “signature” cocktails at home. But, when a festive cocktail is in order, I think jalapeño peppers and tequila. When selecting jalapeños, look for those which are small or medium in size. The younger peppers will have much more heat than the larger, older ones, which may show signs of shrivelling. Consider starting with only 2 or 3 peppers the first time if you do not want a strong infusion.

Continue reading “Jalapeño Infused Tequila” »

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

I’ve been slow to warm up to the ‘vegetable pasta’ trend. Of course, spiralized or shredded vegetables are a very healthy dietary choice. But, let’s just call them shredded or spiralized vegetables. Calling them ‘pasta’ seems a bit of a stretch, prompting disappointment by all but the most hard-core veggie eaters. But, I have learned a few tricks which are endearing me to the vegetable ‘noodle’ concept, spaghetti squash in particular.

Continue reading “How to Cook Spaghetti Squash” »

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Quinoa Breakfast BarsHave a love-hate relationship with breakfast? The earlier the alarm sounds and the greater the rush, the more tempting it is to skip it. But, research shows the importance of “breaking the fast” for better energy, cardiovascular health, weight control and healthier food choices throughout the day [1][2]. Quinoa Breakfast Bars to the rescue. These gluten-free, protein-packed and only slightly sweetened bars are a healthy, grab-and-go breakfast or snack item. This recipe is not only easy, but endlessly customizable, or what I call a “kitchen sink” recipe. Dried, fresh or frozen fruit, coconut, seeds, nuts… throw them all into the mix! You can’t go to wrong, as long as you don’t add so many extras that the mixture is as dense as wet concrete. These bars can be made ahead and last for days in the refrigerator. Try the Vegan Quinoa Bars as well! Continue reading “Quinoa Breakfast Bars” »