Red Quinoa Fruit Salad

i.e. how this fruit lover is celebrating Cinco de Mayo 

Full disclosure: this was meant to be a bizarre sweet twist on a taco recipe. However, I didn’t have the traditional small corn tortillas on hand. I tried to make it work with some gargantuan, floppy, chemical-tasting, low-carb (ugh) wheat tortillas from TJ’s. The outcome did not exceed—or even meet—expectations. So I pivoted!

Let me present to you instead a thoroughly tortilla-less mess of good flavors on a plate. 

Prep time: 30 minutes | Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups red quinoa, cooked  
  • 2 cups mango, cubed
  • 2 cups blackberries  
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced or smashed
  • Pickled red cabbage to garnish (optional) 
  • Slivered almonds to garnish (NOT optional) 
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fluff and let cool. 
  2. Combine quinoa, mango, blackberries, and chopped cilantro in a medium sized bowl. 
  3. Juice limes and mix lime juice with a pinch of salt. Dress the quinoa and fruit mixture. 
  4. Garnish with avocado, slivered almonds, and pickled red cabbage and serve. 

Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 cup serving or 1/6 recipe | Calories: 192 | Total Fat: 7g | Carbohydrate: 29g | Sugar: 10g | Dietary Fiber: 7g | Protein: 5g | Vitamin A: 15% | Vitamin C: 57% | Calcium: 4% | Iron: 8%

Let Us Wax Poetic About Quinoa

  • It has heart-healthy monounsaturated fats including omega-3 fatty acids (which are key to decreasing inflammation and protecting against many lifestyle related diseases).
  • Its high phytonutrient content also contributes to this anti-inflammatory effect. Phenolic acids, some forms of vitamin E, and cell wall polysaccharides make the shortlist of quinoa’s inflammation-fighting nutrients!
  • It is a high fiber food! Ninety-seven percent of Americans don’t get adequate fiber in their diet. That’s crazy! Be different. Three quarters of a cup of quinoa (185 grams) has 21 percent of your daily value of fiber. How awesome is that? 

Continue your study in quinoa here. 

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto

Mac and Cheese Gets a Makeover

I kid you not: This tastes like childhood + thyme. 

Taking my first bite of this pumpkin risotto was like stepping back in time. The warm, creamy, savory forkful of perfectly seasoned rice transported me to my pre-vegan days of enthusiastic macaroni consumption. Although more elegant and far healthier, this dish scratched a velveeta shells and cheese itch that I didn't even know I had. You'll forgive me the mixed metaphor when you try it for yourself. 

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)*
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 16 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp sea salt*
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste) 

*I am aware that it is slightly ridiculous to call for low sodium veggie broth and then ask you to add sea salt six ingredients later. But trust me, it's better this way. 

Preparation

  1. Combine vegetable broth and 1/2 C water in a medium pot, and bring to a simmer on the stove top. Continue to simmer while preparing the rest of the recipe. 
  2. In a large pot (or in a deep and meaningful skillet), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes).  
  3. Stir in the rice until it is well coated in oil, lightly toasted (1-2 minutes), and heated through. Be careful not to burn it please. Thank you. 
  4. Slowly add the white wine (it should sizzle when it hits the pan) and cook until the wine has evaporated. 
  5. Add 1/2 C simmering vegetable broth to the rice, and stir until the moisture has cooked off. Add another 1/2 C simmering vegetable broth to the rice and repeat this process until kingdom come, stirring frequently. 
  6. Once all of the vegetable broth has been added and the rice is almost fully cooked, add in the canned pumpkin, ginger, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.  
  7. Stir stir stir until everything is heated all the way through and the rice is happily cooked. 
  8. Garnish with thyme. Spoon into bowls. Serve with love. 

Elements of a Brilliant Risotto

The Right Rice 

Arborio rice, the short grain Italian rice traditionally used for risotto, has the ideal starch composition for creating a creamy dish with just the right amount of chew. (For my fellow nerds out there, arborio rice has a higher percentage of amylopectin, which is the kind of starch that gelatinizes when heatedhence the classic creaminess.) In my humble but strong opinion, arborio rice is the heart and soul of a good risotto. Don't skimp. Don't sub. 

Generous Stirring 

Risotto requires constant love, so be sure you're in the mood to hang out by your stove for a while. Give it whirl with your wooden spoon at least every 30 seconds to a minute. Continuous stirring helps release the starches, which is key for acquiring maximum creaminess. This dish demands commitment and requires attention, but it's SO worth the investment of time and elbow motion. 

Patience & Heat

Keep the veggie broth simmering on the stove alongside your risotto-to-be. This will enable you to eschew rapidly cooling down the rice each time you add another 1/2 C dose of broth. Add your broth only a little (1/2 C) at a timethis too helps the starches release to create that requisite risotto cream factor.

Vegan Chocolate Sorbet

Chocolate. Cocoa. Sugar. Salt.

This recipe was originally published in Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream by Laura O'Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen, and Pete Van Leeuwen with Olga Massov.

It's so good! It's so simple. (And it's effortlessly vegan.) As Ben Van Leeuwen will tell you, this sorbet is all about the ingredients: If you put exquisite chocolate in, you will get exquisite sorbet out. 

A Bit of History

Nashville

At the start of the summer of 1997, I wrote the the ice cream man a letter. I requested that he pleas driv down our stret mor offin this sumer. Thank You!! Lov MARY

Clearly, the ice cream man received my epistle, because he did drive down Byron Avenue more often. In fact, he came every single day: It was a glorious season of Chocolate Eclair Bars, Flintstones Push Pops, and Fudgsicles. 

Adoration of ice cream has always been a family affair. Summers kicked off with a flurry of flavor inventing. The rhythmic churning of our ice cream cranker on the back patio punctuated witheringly hot Nashville afternoons as we readied spoons to sample the latest iteration of "Mocha Brownie Avalanche" or "Mango Madness."

Each summer we entered our newest flavor into the annual Ice Cream Crankin' flavor competition, and we came away with our fair share of blue ribbons over the years. Winning the city-wide Crankin' meant the regional dairy company would produce your flavor commercially. 

This was a rite of passage in our household. Seeing pints of my own Graham Ole Opry and Nutt'ee Relations in the grocery stores was more of a landmark for me than high school and college graduation put together. In the Allen family, we settled debates with ice cream. We settled debts. We settled stomachs. 

Brooklyn

At the start of the summer of 2015, I gently broke it to my parents that I was choosing to eat, henceforth, only plant-based food. Their first concern—their only valid concern—was that I would no longer be able to share in this central family tradition. 

But they hadn't been to Brooklyn yet. And I hadn't taken them to Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream yet.  

Ben Van Leeuwen is a new kind of ice cream man. After a summer of steering a Good Humor ice cream truck around the neighborhoods of his hometown in Connecticut and selling conventional ice cream with dubiously long ingredient lists, he figured folks might appreciate ice cream that wasn't full of artificial flavors, preservatives, dyes, and stabilizers. It turns out he was on to something.

In 2008, before gourmet ice cream was trending, before food trucks were tweeting, Ben and his co-founders, Pete Van Leeuwen and Laura O'Neill, established an artisan ice cream company with a pair of retrofitted postal trucks. 

Eight years later, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream boasts a fleet of yellow ice cream trucks, as well as eight retail shops around New York and L.A. Not to mention that you can find Van Leeuwen pints in grocery stores across both cities

In 2014, they added their first vegan flavors to the menu. Having sampled all—and I do mean all—the vegan ice cream brands on the shelves of Brooklyn's too-bougie health food stores, I can tell you: No one is making vegan ice cream like the Van Leeuwen team.

You can read more about that HERE. And once you have, try your hand at this simple but divine chocolate sorbet recipe from their cookbook, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (274 grams) sugar 
  • 4 1/2 ounces (127 grams) unsweetened chocolate (99% cacao), preferably Michel Cluizel
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt

Preparation

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 cups water and stir over low heat until the sugar is fully coated. Stir in the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Cook, stirring until the liquid is uniform, the chocolate has melted, and the sugar and cocoa powder have dissolved completely. Transfer the sorbet base to a quart-sized container, cover, and refrigerate until fully cold, about 3 hours. 

2. Pour chilled sorbet base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Place the container in which you refrigerated the sorbet base in the freezer so you can use it to store the finished sorbet. Churn the sorbet until it resembles Italian ice. Transfer the sorbet to the chilled storage container and freeze until hardened to your desired consistency. The sorbet will keep, frozen, for up to 7 days. 

(makes about 1 quart)

Chocolate: Eight Things Worth Knowing

  1. Chocolate is a fermented food. (Like wine! Like kimchi! Like kombucha!) The process of fermentation is what unlocks all the magic flavor from what would otherwise be a bitter seed.1
  2. Cocoa has 800 flavor compounds, which is more than any other food!2 (It is more complex than wine. More delicious too? Mayhaps.)
  3. Good chocolate has a high-gloss finish and a solid snap but will melt in your hand in less than a minute.3
  4. Cacao pods are filled with a sweet & sometimes tart ivory colored pulp called baba that surrounds the seeds. Baba tastes more like a gummy bear or lemonade than like chocolate.
  5. On a commercial plantation, only three out of every thousand cultivated cacao flowers are successfully pollinated. In the forest, they have a much better shot: five in a hundred are sucessfully pollinated and are thus able to produce cocoa pods. 4
  6. Cacao trees can only grow within 20 degrees north or south of the equator. 5
  7. It's estimated that the demand for chocolate will increase by two-fold by the year 2050.6
  8. If we want amazing chocolate to still exist in 2050, we need to be willing to pay for the true cost of cacao.

"I don't eat expensive chocolate to be fancy or waste money; I eat it because I want to support the chocolate makers dedicated to sustaining diverse and delicious chocolate." —Preeti Simran Sethi, author of Bread, Wine, and Chocolate

In their quest to find the most unbelievably delectable chocolate for their ice cream, Ben, Laura, and Pete have happened upon two of the most admirable and socially responsible chocolate making operations in the market: Michel Cluizel and Askinosie.

Both Michel Cluizel and Askinosie source their cocoa beans from farms with ecologically responsible farming practices free of chemicals and pesticides. They maintain direct trade relationships with their farms and pay their farmers significantly more than even "Fair Trade" market price; Askinosie even has a profit share system in place with its farms.

An ethically and sustainably produced crop is not only the healthiest crop for the land, farmers, consumers, it's also the most delicious. Paying a fair price for chocolate enables farmers to plant the regional varieties of cacao that make delicious, complex chocolate (e.g. Nacional, Curary, Criollo, Guiana) rather than opting for the more reliably productive clone CCN-51, a variety which produces flavor generally likened to "acidic dirt." This is what a Hershey's, Mars, and Nestlé  are buying. Paying a fair price also enables farmers to harvest and ferment their beans properly, protecting the quality of their cocoa.

A $10 chocolate bar may feel like a decadent purchase, but it's chocolate! It should be decadent. It should be a splurge. How much would you spend on fine wine or a craft beer? When you spend $10 on artisanal Askinosie or Michel Cluizel chocolate, not only are you now the proud (if momentary) owner of a remarkable chocolate bar, but you are casting your consumer ballot for a fair market; for sustainable, responsible farming practices; for a better life for the people who labored to bring that chocolate to you; and for the continued existence of incredible cacao. 

References

1 Josh Cohen, "Fermentation for Dummies," Tasting Table, April 21, 2015.

2 Sethi, Simran. Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2016. Loc 1507. Electronic.

3 Weinzweig, Ari. "Chocolate." Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating: How to Choose the Best Bread, Cheeses, Olive Oil, Pasta, Chocolate, and Much More. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. 404-405. Print.

4 United States. National Park Service. "Pollinators." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

5 "Growing Cocoa Beans," World Agroforestry Centre, accessed October 2, 2016.

6 Bisseleua, D.H.B., Missoup, A.D., Vidal, S. (2009). Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Functioning, and Economic Incentives under Cocoa Agroforestry Intensification. Conservation Biology, 23(5), 1176-1184.

Caribbean Curry Tacos

Coconut Chickpea Curry. Crispy Tofu. Shiitake Bacon. 

 Recipe courtesy of Chef Naliaka Wakhisi

“I feel like people don’t believe me when I say I eat tacos every day...but I do.” This is one of the first things I learned about vegan chef and founder of NYC Vegans of Color Naliaka Wakhisi, as we stood together before a pile of corn tortillas, curry spices, and kale in a sunlit Brooklyn kitchen. The Miami-born taco aficionado knows no limits when it comes to reinventing or glorifying this traditional Mexican dish. After working as a server in several small, family-owned Jamaican restaurants for many years, Naliaka has blended her passion for the bright, savory flavors of Caribbean cuisine with her everlasting love of the taco in this dish. Delicious, simple, and expertly crafted, this recipe is one to put in your files.

Serves a crowd. Eat with your favorite people. 

Ingredients

Coconut Curry Taco Filling

  • 1 pkg firm organic tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 can organic chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped with stems removed 
  • 2-3 Tbs coconut oil + 1/2 cup for frying
  • 10 small corn tortillas 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
  • crushed black pepper (optional)

Shiitake Bacon

  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1-2 Tbs coconut oil
  • salt, as you like it

Garnishes

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 limes
  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Drain and press tofu. Leave tofu under pressure for at least 15 minutes.

  3. Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and let simmer for about 1 minute (do not brown). Sprinkle roughly 1 tsp salt and then add coconut milk and curry powder. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to medium low. Add chickpeas and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.  Add more salt to taste. After 20 - 30 minutes, toss in kale and simmer for an additional 3 - 5 minutes. (Do not overcook kale!)

  4. Toss sliced shiitakes in 1 - 2 Tbs of coconut oil, add salt to taste, and roast in oven until shiitakes are altogether crispy and delicious (approximately 15-20 minutes).

  5. Cut pressed tofu into into 1/2 inch cubes and pan-fry in 1/2 cup coconut oil until crispy. Place crispy tofu on paper towel and immediately drizzle sea salt while still hot. Save excess oil for crisping tortillas! Set aside.

  6. For garnish, wash and chop cilantro, slice avocado, and half the limes.

  7. Crisp tacos by adding a drizzle of leftover coconut oil to a pan over medium to high heat. Place 2 - 3 tortillas (depending on size of pan) in a single layer, and cook until crispy then flip. (Alternatively, drizzle coconut oil over the tortillas and heat in the oven at  425 until desired crispiness is achieved)

  8. Assemble the tacos: tortilla + coconut curry filling + crispy tofu + cilantro & avocado + shiitake bacon + squeeze of lime.

  9. Assemble the masses (and feast)!

Naliaka-Wakhisi

Reasons to Love

The impressive fiber content of chickpeas and kale makes these tacos a home run in my book. Insoluble fiber is metabolized by bacteria in the gut to produce short chain fatty acids, which in turn feed the cells lining the intestinal wall. The more fiber you eat, the more you nourish that barrier between you and the toxins in your gut! A healthier gut lining makes for a stronger and healthier you! High dietary fiber intake from whole foods is associated with: 

  • better blood sugar regulation
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • improved weight management
  • lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • healthy digestion 

More than enough reason to step up your fiber game--especially since only 3% of Americans meet the recommended minimum adequate intake of fiber. (Dr. Michael Greger has the fiber facts.) In conclusion, have a second taco. 

Naliaka Chickpeas.jpg

Viola Spring Salad

Edible Flowers. Microgreens. Peaches. Cashews.

Edible-Flowers-Vegan-Spring-Salad

Eating flowers. It is pretty unforgivably bougie. I agree. However, it's worth the splurge every now and again, because many flowers are secretly delicious and amazingly nutritious! As a general rule of thumb when it comes to eating plants, the more vibrant the colors are, the more phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals will be packed inside. Flowers do big, bold color exceptionally well, so don't feel guilty tossing a few petals on your plate. Be smart about it thoughnot all flowers are in the mood to be eaten; don't just raid the garden (or, in my case, the landlord's planters and hanging baskets) willy-nilly. RN and author of Herbs for Life, Linda Mix, provides a great list of edible flowers here. 

This simple spring salad recipe is a nutritional powerhouse, featuring sweet peaches on a bed of spicy radish microgreens topped with violas, pansies, and raw cashews. The violas, pansies, and microgreens came to me by way of rooftop farm Brooklyn Grange. If you are what you eat, then you might as well eat flowers. 

Or be a peach. 

Or do both.

Edible-Flowers-Vegan-Spring-Salad

Serves two. Eat with a friend.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 cups radish microgreens
  • 1 handful violas and pansies, picked fresh 
  • 1 peach, cubed
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, chopped

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt

Preparation

  1. Assemble: Toss microgreens, peaches, and cashews in a bowl. Dress with olive oil, vinegar, and sea salt.
  2. Celebrate: Garnish with violas and pansies. 

Reasons to Love

  1. Microgreens: Both flavorful and adorable, these tiny leaves are generally harvested just one or two weeks after germination. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that the vitamin and carotenoid content of microgreens tends to be up to five times greater than their mature leaf counterparts. A little bit of leaf. A whole lot of power.  
  2. Edible Flowers: Petals are not just a decadent way to beautify your plate--although it certainly makes quick work of that. Where color is vibrant, micronutrients are almost certainly in abundance. Find a comprehensive list of edible flowers here.  
  3. Peaches: As fruit so often is, peaches are up on their fiber game! Vitamin A (good for your vision), potassium (good for your heart), and flavonoids (good for reducing free radical damage to your cells) also come bundled in this fuzzy orange package! If you were able to purchase an organic peach, leave the skin on to increase the antioxidant content of this dish.
  4. Cashews: These kidney-shaped 'nuts' are actually seeds! They contain not only heart-protective monounsaturated fat but also a wild amount of copper--1/4 C cashews is 98% of your daily value of copper, which is a potent antioxidant and a key nutrient for iron-utilization as well as bone and connective tissue development. 
Edible Flowers Higher res-6.jpg

Grapefruit Balsamic

Red Grapefruit. Balsamic Reduction. Gogi Berries. Slivered Almonds.

Grapefruit-balsamic-gogi-berries-almonds

Grapefruit is magic. 

Just one packs roughly 118% your daily value of vitamin C, along with a host of phytonutrients and antioxidants shown to help lower cholesterol, protect against cancers, and prevent kidney stones. Topping this wondercitrus with balsamic reduction, gogi berries, and almonds makes for a tangy departure from the usual morning routine. It's no wonder the Latin name for grapefruit is Citrus paradisi. 

Ingredients

  • 1 red grapefruit
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds
  • 1/8 C gogi berries
  • 2 Tbs balsamic reduction

Preparation

  • Divide: Cut the grapefruit in half. Section both halves of the fruit by cutting each pulp triangle away from the pithy, white inner rind on all three sides.
  • Conquer: Top each half with balsamic reduction, gogi berries, and almonds to taste. Consume with a runcible spoon
grapefruit-gogi-berries-balsamic

Reasons to Love

  1. Grapefruit is a marvelous source of copper, vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. Research indicates that grapefruit consumption is associated with reduced risk of colon cancer and prostate cancer, prevention of kidney stones, and lower LDL cholesterol. 
  2. Almonds are one of the best sources of biotin (sometimes called vitamin B7 and/or vitamin H). This B-complex vitamin is vital for blood sugar balance and for healthy skin. 
  3. Almonds also provide ample vitamin E, manganese, and copper; like grapefruits, almonds have been shown help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. 
  4. Grapefruits and almonds together make for a fiber-filled, heart-healthy morning. 
Grapefruit-gogi-berries-almonds-balsamic

5 Ingredient Granola

Oats. Almonds. Quinoa. Molasses. Sea Salt.

5 Ingredient Vegan Granola Blackstrap Molasses

This granola recipe is delicious, heart-healthy, vegan, and SO easy to make. It's also secretly full of vitamins and minerals: the key ingredient here is blackstrap molasses! Molasses is the nutritionally-dense by-product of refined white sugar. The iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium that get left behind when sugar cane is turned into boring white sugar all end up in this sweet earthy syrup. I am all about molasses these days. Read more about it here, and get on the bandwagon with me. And then make this easy 5 ingredient granola! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups rolled oats (I deeply dig Bob's Redmill)

  • 1 cup raw sliced almonds

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa

  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses 

  • sea salt to taste (optional) 

  • dried fruit to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper. 

  • Combine: Add rolled oats, almonds, quinoa, and molasses in a large mixing bowl, and mix. 

  • Taste: Check the quality of the above mixture using thumb, forefinger, and mouth. Add salt if you're the salting type. 

  • Toast: Spread oat-molasses mixture on parchment paper, and bake for 30 minutes. Give the ingredients a stir at the 15 minute mark. 

  • Embellish: If you're feeling fancy, sprinkle dried fruit on top of granola as it cools. To achieve maximally chunky granola, let it cool completely before digging in. 

 

Classic Avocado Toast

Lemon. Sea Salt. Crusty Bread. 

Avocado toast has become a staple on brunch menus around Brooklyn. Although it's painful to spend $8.00 + tax + tip for something so simple, I never manage to resist this healthy, antioxidant rich, vegan option. Never say no to a beautiful avocado. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small avocado
  • 4 slices of crusty bread
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • Pinch of sea salt

PREPARATION

  • Pit and peel: Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Cut the halves in half again, and peel back the avocado skins. Transfer avocado pulp to a mixing bowl. *The dark  pulp closest to the skin is the most phytonutrient rich. Peeling the avocado in this way, rather than cutting the pulp out with a knife, allows you to retain the maximum amount of this nutrient dense pulp!*
  • Smash
  • Keep it green: Add lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Toast:  Place crusty bread slices in toaster, and toast accordingly.
  • Slather: Spread the avocado smash + lemon juice on freshly toasted bread.
  • Salt: Sprinkle finishing salt atop.

REASONS TO LOVE

In addition to being a stellar source of fiber, avocados contain a magical combination of carotenoids and unsaturated fat. Humans and animals can’t produce carotenoids endogenously, so we have to get them from vegetables and fruits (like avocado)! Carrots, kale, and summer squash are all great sources of carotenoids, but the fat content in avocados facilitates better carotenoid absorption! Why is this great news? 

  • Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants with cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Carotenoids support eye health and a strong immune system.
  • Avocados taste delicious.

Vegan Walnut Pesto

EVOO. Garlic. Lemon. Sea Salt. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts (with skins!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • lemon juice to taste (about ½ - 1 lemon)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

PREPARATION

  • Blenderize: Combine basil, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor until coarsely ground. Use the S blade and pulse setting for best results.
  • Mix: With the food processor's motor turning, slowly add the olive oil, followed by sea salt, juice from 1/2 or 1 whole lemon, and nutritional yeast.
  • Adore: Check the quality via spoon. Add more salt, perhaps.  

REASONS TO LOVE

While classic pesto stars pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and pecorino sardo, we swap in walnuts, nutritional yeast, and lemon for a heart healthy, planet friendly spin on the traditional Genoese spread. The subtle sweetness of the basil balances the tannins of the walnut skin and punch of the lemon, while enhancing the umami tones from the nooch. This vegan variation packs a nutritional punch as well. Research indicates that eating 1-3 oz of walnuts regularly...

  • Provides hard to find omega-3 fatty acids, many anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and minerals important for blood pressure regulation (e.g. potassium, calcium, and magnesium).
  • Has been shown to support heart health by lowering cholesterol (both LDL and total), helping to regulate blood pressure, and improving blood vessel functioning.
  • Can reduce the risk of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

For further literature on the almighty wonders of walnuts, take a look at what the George Mateljan Foundation has to say about them! Though the perfect base for pizza or sweet potato pesto toast, in my opinion, this plant-based pesto requires only a spoon.