Monthly Archives: December 2011

An appetizer that’s practically a side dish

Beans are a staple in my diet; they provide me with the protein I need as well as delicious flavor and texture in my dishes. However, as the holiday season winds to a close I have to say I am still obsessed with pumpkin; from September through January I can’t get enough of pumpkin, its light, earthy flavor and pliability from savory to sweet gets me every year. So to blow out the Christmas season my second appetizer was a cauliflower puree and pumpkin hummus dip, courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

This dip goes well with whole wheat or multi-grain crostini

I made a few alterations to the recipe to suit my own tastes, for instance, maple and pumpkin are a great combination but I wanted the pumpkin to have just an undertone of sweetness so that it tied with the savory cauliflower. I also wanted the cauliflower puree to have a creamier texture so I increased the amount of alternative milk.

Cauliflower Puree and Pumpkin Hummus Dip

The most obscure ingredient in this recipe is apple cider vinegar; it’s worth the buy, trust me. Apple cider vinegar can be used in vegan baking, added to water to help curb your appetite as well as taken as a shot for a sore throat.

Serves 10-12


Pumpkin Hummus:

3/4 cup canned organic pumpkin, unsweetened

1 cup garbanzo beans, drained

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)

dash of cinnamon

salt to taste


Cauliflower Puree:

1 head cauliflower, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of salt and fine black pepper

8 tablespoons alternative milk (I used boxed coconut milk)



Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Wash and roughly chop cauliflower (should be about 8 cups). Chop onion and place both the cauliflower and onion onto 2 baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Shake the baking sheets to distribute the oil and salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until slightly caramelized, then let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 250F degrees.

In the meantime, blend all of the pumpkin hummus ingredients and set aside.

Blend the cauliflower and onion with the remaining oil from the baking sheets and gradually add the alternative milk (for a prettier presentation set aside a couple pieces of onion and cauliflower as a garnish). I did this in two batches since I didn’t want to overload my blender. Blend until smooth then place in a medium baking dish.

Place the pumpkin hummus on top of the cauliflower puree and push the center down with a knife and make large circles to make a swirl pattern. Top with the garnish and drizzle with an additional teaspoon of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top begins to dry and crack like a crust.

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Party, indulge, skip the bellyache

I always contribute something to a party, not only because I love cooking and sharing food but also because I can control the healthfulness of the food I bring. In the case of Christmas dinner, I brought some appetizers, veggie dishes and even cookies and dessert, meaning I could eat and party with my family without a second thought as to how much fat/calories/carbs I was eating. It’s an absolutely wonderful feeling, especially when my carnivorous relatives even take a shine to my dishes, everybody wins.

The first on the veganize chart is spinach-artichoke dip. I’ve never been much for dips because I never know what is in them; I always assume either mayonnaise or sour cream, both of which are on my list of foods to avoid. The idea for this recipe was tailored to my family; most of them are not big fans of health foods so my usual fare of quinoa, kale or raw veggies were out. I wanted to brings foods that matched traditional party fare and while my version of this dip isn’t gooey and cheesy it has one special ingredient that opens up the flavors quite nicely. I guess two ingredients: tofu provides the necessary creaminess and texture that binds the dip together, a role usually filled by cheese. However, the main star of this dish is garlic aioli, it’s vegan and most importantly it has a certain zest and acidity that gives this dip its own depth and heartiness.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Serves 8



8 ounces fresh spinach, washed

1 10 oz. package frozen artichoke hearts, cooked and drained

1 4 oz. can diced mild green chiles, drained

2 tablespoons (or 1 small bunch) scallions, minced

1 cup firm tofu, well drained (I use organic sprouted tofu)

3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons garlic aioli (I used Majestic Garlic spread)

2 teaspoons olive oil



In a pot of boiling water, steam the spinach until wilted, about 2 minutes (I steamed mine over the artichokes while they were boiling). Transfer to colander and press any excess liquid from the spinach.

In a food processor, chop the artichokes. Then add the chiles, scallions, tofu, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic aioli and process until well blended. Then add the spinach and process until the spinach is lightly blended into the mixture.

Transfer to a small baking dish, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Approximately 30 minutes before serving take the dip out of the fridge and preheat oven to 250F degrees. Pop the dip in the oven, uncovered for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with crudités and/or corn tortilla chips.

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Regaining control of your resolutions

It’s almost January, time to welcome 2012! I keep reading everywhere that people’s top New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight. Despite the wide exposure and frenzy it’s a pretty routine song and dance because it happens every year; there’s always an extra 5 pounds that everyone thinks they could do without. However, this year my perspective has shifted. I continued my ongoing campaign for general health throughout December, engaging in a raw detox week after Thanksgiving and then sticking to my normal health foods throughout the month – I made Christmas dinner for my family so I threw in some vegetarian and vegan dishes just for me (I’ll post my recipes and party guide soon). I also kept up my gym routine. All in all I am pretty happy with myself at the end of the year.