Healthy “Fried” Cauliflower W/ Dipping Sauce

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air friend cauliflower in oven
Air Fried or Oven Fried, No oil needed for a delicious result
cauliflower air fried
Whole Rye, oil-white flour-sugar free breading that is held to the cauliflower by a light coating of salsa. Dipping sauce in the top left corner uses garbanzo beans, salsa, garlic and salsa with crushed red pepper.
Air Fried Cauliflower zoodles with lentils and mushrooms berries
Jazz up any meal . Dipping Sauce used with Air Fried cauliflower for a delicious Au Gratin style dish minus the cheese! Served with left over zoodles with mushrooms, black lentils and oil free sugar free marinara sauce.

People who still include animal products in their diet have this pre-conceived notion that either all Vegans are “fat vegans” meaning they eat unhealthy…or that my eating whole food plant based (WFPB) must leave me starving or eating salad all the time.

Well what if I told you that the photos you saw above are examples of a way of cooking and eat that have helped me eat healthy. Do you see any salads? I never go hungry. My husband and son both help with meal prep which is great. But it’s simple for even one person to pull off. I am disabled so sometimes I do need assistance by them doing the cooking for me.

First of all, Everything about how I eat is satiating because of all of the fiber in the food. My meals are never sparse, they are filled with delicious, colorful and enjoyable options.

Not all vegan food especially in restaurants is healthy though, so I prefer our family make our food at home. It’s not difficult to make our favorites in a way that is healthy without losing the textures and tastes we love.

Recently for our anniversary we ate at a vegan restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cauliflower sounded delicious but it was coated with white flour and not at all crisp. It was soggy from both the oil it was cooked in and the oil based buffalo sauce it was doused in. I did not enjoy it. The endothelial cells of my lymphatic and cardiac system didn’t need all that fat and overly processed grain.

So we came up with this way of making the dish so that it is low glycemic index,  oil free, low sodium, low fat Whole Food Plant Based.  All it takes it takes is typical, homemade or store bought oil-free salsa is used to coat the cauliflower . Then coat it with 100% whole grain crumbs. Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet or use an air fryer.

Because I try to keep it low glycemic index, I prefer using authentic, European style whole rye bread or crisps. I use a hard dark version and a light softer version. I keep it no oils or sugars white flours in the ingredients, lower sodium. Whole rye breads down in our system slower, giving a slow steady stream of energy without spiking blood sugars.

Dipping sauce is easy and can also  be used as a sauce for macaroni and un cheese or as a hummus like dip.

Healthy “Fried” Cauliflower

cauliflower air fried

1 smallish head of cauliflower or  12 oz bag of fresh cauliflower florets

1/2 cup salsa or hot sauce of your choice

2/3 cup whole rye/pumpernickel bread or crackers/crips crumbs(oil free, sugar free, no white flour)

optional to taste :garlic powder, onion powder, low sodium curry powder, turmeric, dried crushed red pepper

Directions:

Step 1: If using traditional or toaster oven, preheat at 425 degrees.

Step 2: Divide the clean cauliflower into reasonably small pieces. (make sure pieces are not wet)

Step 3: With your clean hands, toss together the cauliflower and salsa until thoroughly but lightly coated.

Step 4: Sprinkle crumbs over the coated cauliflower, and toss with your hands until thoroughly but lightly coated.

IF BAKING:  Place cauliflower pieces on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, bake for 15-20, turn each piece over and rotate pan at the 10 minute mark.  Each oven varies, keep an eye on it the first time so you don’t over bake.

IF USING Air Fryer: We have owned two different air fryers. My first one was a basket style air fryer and the one we use now is like a small toaster oven but it is an air fryer as well (Black N Decker).

-Air Fryer that looks like oven style 10-15 minutes, no flipping needed. One single layer, the pieces can be close together.

-Basket style air fryer may be better to keep it one layer, but experiment.
air friend cauliflower in oven

Dipping Sauce:

Play with this. You can create whatever suits you.

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup unsweetened plant based milk

2/3 cup salsa or 4Tbl or more or less hot sauce (depending on your preference)

1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (I like B-12 Fortified and Trader Joes is very tasty)

Garlic Powder to taste plus others you may like to add (suggestions would be same as the cauliflower coating)

optional: add 1/8th cup ground cashews with a splash of lemon (cashew cheese base for added creaminess)

Also a splash of apple cider can make it tangy.

We use a high power blender (Vitamix) to blend all ingredients until smooth. Feel free to add enough liquids to make it blend smoother.

The Dipping sauce can be added directly to the cauliflower or used on the side just for dipping. Great on pasta or for dipping fresh veggies, or used in burritos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Black Bean Burgers Recipe

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What has kept me sane in the last year. Black Bean Burgers.  I get requests for the recipe every week so I thought I would post this. Easy to make, season to taste, Use as a healthy substitute for animal product burgers, on top of riced vegetables or on top of greens. Use t as part of a buddha bowl.  Top it with fresh tomatoes and some pickles, hummus, cashew cheese sauce,  onions, salaa, a couple sliced olives, mushrooms or a pile of greens

Stick them in the freezer for fast meals.

Ingredients:

Your choice of a bag of dried black beans (usually a pound size) cooked per directions, or 3-4  cans of drained and rinsed black beans. Organic and salt free is best, but rinsing the normal kind helps quite a bit.

A variety of salsa or oil free huumus that you enjoy. (We really enjoy low sodium black bean salsa. It blends in well and keeps it moist) I use 1/4 or more.

Ground Flax Seed and water or Bob’s Red Mill Vegan Egg substitute or a combination of the two. (For binding). You want it to be the equivalency of 1 or 2 eggs.

Use any of the following to help binding:
-oats (whole or ground into flour)
-garbanzo bean flour (Bob’s Red Mill is easiest to find)
-compliant bread ground into crumbs
The amounts vary from a half cup to a cup or so. Enough to make a meatloaf kind of consistency.

Any finely chopped vegetables you enjoy (optional). The key word here is finely chopped because big chunks may make it easier for the burger to fall apart. Ideas include beats, onions, peppers, carrots, cauliflower,zucchini, chopped baby kale, a little mashed sweet potato with skin left on.

Suggested possible seasoning (Pick your favorites)

-Curry Seasoning
-Turmeric
-Garlic Powder
-Onion Powder
-Dried Crushed Red Pepper
-Black Pepper (I’m allergic so I don’t use it)
-Oregano
-Basil
-lime juice
-lemon juice
-chopped fresh cilantro (really great with the lime juice)

-to get the B-12 as you would from meat in each burger, use a fortified nutritional yeast and sprinkle into each burger you form.

Other alternatives: Use different kinds of beans, lentils and peas in with the black beans.

Directions:

Using a fork, mash the beans. It will be lumpy and it’s fine for them to not be completely mashed.

Combine ingredients with the beans and with clean hands or a fork combine the ingredients.

You can vary the amount of binding ingredients to make sure that it is a meatloaf like consistency. You can also refrigerate the mixture to get it to firm up. I have also found that just letting the mixture set for a few minutes on the counter helps this too. It will firm up in the oven if you bake it.

TASTE IT AS YOU MAKE IT TO ADUST SEASONING AND INGREDIENTS.THERE IS NOTHING IN IT THAT SHOULD MAKE YOU SICK.

Patty making:

We find it helpful to make the patties two different sizes. A fourth cup size and a half cup size. That way you can combine one or the other with different low glycemic meal items and keep the low glycemic carb load within reason.

Also we make some thinner but larger in diameter and some a little thicker. No matter what, make sure they are firmly put together and not so big that they are more likely to fall apart.

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Cooking Instructions:

On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, place reasonably spaced out patties. You can sprinkle additional seasoning options.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 -30 minutes. Use a non slotted spatula for all flipping and removal of burgers.

You remove it from the oven at the half way point, allow it to cool down just enough to let it firm up, and then flip the burgers. Reapply any seasonings if you want. Place back in oven for additional time.

When done, allow the burgers to “set” for 10-15 minutes. They should have the firmness of any typical burger.

Good news is that if they crumble ( only once has this happened to me and that was in the beginning), just set them aside in your freezer and use the crumbles for tacos, burritos or in other dishes.

Storage:

Once cooled down completely, I use your favorite freezer safe container. Use layers wax paper between each layer of burgers. I put in a combination of sizes in each layer so I don’t have to dig through the layers to find the size that works. Store in Freezer for weeks.

Typically we make 12-24 black bean burgers at a time and freeze them. It is so worth it. Whether my husband is cooking or I can manage to reheat them myself, it’s great for throwing together a no fuss meal with some greens and fresh fruit and veggies on the side. Keeps me compliant.

Chronic Illness makes it important not only to stick with eating healthy, but to make it doable. For those with crippling illness, It is fine to make this and set it aside in the fridge for a day before making the patties and baking them. No need to be on your feet too long. Or sit at your table and work on it. A little effort on making these means that you will have many easy meals in your future.

Keep bags of fresh dark greens, fresh fruit, and vegetables you can eat raw or easily prepare in your fridge. Keep frozen vegetables, berries and fruit  in your freezer. 

 

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The cheese like topping is a combination of Trader Joes Cashew Cheese Fiesta Dip, additional fortified nutritional yeast to make it cheesier, garlic powder and a touch of crushed red pepper.

Pasta With Naturally Low Fat Light Vegan “Cheese Sauce”

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Cannelli Bean Pasta Sauce Mac On Greens

Lunch today. It was a “make it work” moment. I had to use what I had for the non dairy cheese sauce. It turned out great.

Fresh spinach with 1/2 cup of whole grain pasta with a whole food plant based sauce, peas and tomato. Fresh veggies including chopped broccoli. Garnished with a a fresh mandarin orange.

A healthy dose of B12, ample protein, iron, calcium, vitamin k, vitamin C, protein, Folic Acid, vitamin A, potassium, lipocine, phytosterols which lower cholesterol, B complex, copper, zinc and manganese.

Also contains lutein, kaempferol which is linked to decreased risk of chronic disease and cancer.

And lots of nitrates which promote heart health. Also quercetin which fights inflammation and heart disease reducing pain, and fighting stress.

But isn’t what is shown in the photo above and  at the end of the article considered to be high carb?

how to do low glycemic index

See the two side photos? Looks to some I bet like a giant pile of high carb. But in honesty, it is a half cup total of half whole grain pasta and half peas. Then that little half cup you see in the photo on the left is put on top of a cup of greens and a cup of riced vegetables. Ta-Da!

Any food less than 55 on the low glycemic scale is considered to be low glycemic index. It means that it will release the natural carbohydrates into your system slowly and evenly.

Some of us are diabetic and some of us are not. For the sake of our endothelial cells which we need to keep our cardiac and lymphatic blood vessel walls strong, having a lack of blood sugar spikes is important.

Our bodies also need the nutrition of foods including fruit, grains, vegetables, greens, legumes. So a careful balance throughout the day of these foods are mostly naturally low glycemic index,

I have never counted a carb or calories in what I eat on this way of eating, but I have to be focused in keeping in mind how many servings of what foods I have during the day as well as serving size of the foods that I know for me will spike blood sugars if I eat too much of them. (because of my diabetes, others who are diabetic don’t even have to measure it out, it doesn’t bother them).

So for instance, I measured out 1/2 cup of the 100% whole wheat organic pasta combined with peas. The Glycemic index is an 20 for a half cup. Combine that with a cup of raw greens and that (3 glycemic index) And a cup of chopped cauliflower with carrots ( 3 glycemic index) And a half of a tangerine (20)

That comes to a grand total of 46. Couldn’t find the Glycemic index of a small sprinkle of sundried tomatoes but there is room for them.

Nutritional Yeast has the glycemic index of 0

Calories on this plate 400

Makes 4-6 servings

For cheese sauce,
In high speed blender blend until smooth:

-1 cup unsweetened plant milk (I went for one that has calcium, B-12, 8 grams of protein).
-6Tbl B-12 fortified Nutritional Yeast
-1/2 tsp each of garlic powder and onion powder
-Two shakes of dried red crushed red pepper
-dehydrated tomatoes

Optional:
-1/4 cup cannellini beans (optional, it just added thickness)
-additional fortified Nutritional yeast and seasonings to taste.
– 1/2 tsp or to taste of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl of oil free hummus such as Engine 2 brand (it’s fine without it too).

With drained organic whole wheat or lentil pasta, in a 2 quart pan and on low to medium heat, pour the sauce over the pasta and stir frequently as the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. Sprinkle additional seasoning on it if desired and stir in peas and whatever else you like.

Served on top of fresh greens.

 

Cannelli Bean Pasta Sauce Mac On Greens 2