Archive for the ‘Dips and Spreads’ Category

Lentil Dip 2

Somewhere on the internet, I read the secret to creating ultra-creamy hummus is blending the liquids with tahini before adding the beans.

I wish I could remember whose blog it was that enlightened me, so I could give her due credit. Because this tip changed. my. life.

Yes. Changed my life. Other people are transformed by their first love or giving birth to children, while my world is rocked by new and innovative kitchen tips.

This isn’t the most attractive looking dish, with its ghastly gray-ish hues. But I know your taste buds will love the luxurious and creamy texture, while your insides will adore the protein, fibre and minerals.

Do you have any unusual kitchen tips to tell me about?

Creamy Lentil Dip
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, five ingredients or less

2 cups cooked green lentils (this is about 1/2 cup dried)
1/2 cup water, or more as needed
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 small cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt, or to taste

In a food processor or blender, combine the tahini, water and lemon juice. Blend until the mixture is smooth.

Add the cooked lentils, garlic and salt, then process again until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.


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Tahini Sauce 1

As I wrote in this post about granola, tahini is typically a side-note flavour, rather than the main attraction.

And to tell you the truth, I prefer it that way most of the time. Tahini has a lovely nuttiness, but it can also be a little bitter, too.

During my recent trip to Israel, where they use tahini in almost everything, I began to develop a love for tahini on its own. That’s why I created this delectable tahini sauce – it’s a gentle, smoky blend of sweet roasted garlic and earthy sesame-ness.

I’ve been using this sauce on everything. It’s wonderful spread thickly on toast or dolloped on veggies, and if you add additional water it’s a fantastic salad dressing.

Sesame seeds are an outstanding plant-based source of calcium, too, and they have a range of other beneficial minerals like iron, magnesium and copper. That means dairy can suck it. Right?

Roasted Garlic Tahini Sauce
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, five ingredients or less

1 bulb of roasted garlic
1/2 cup sesame tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
hot water to blend, as needed

To roast your garlic, cut off the top of the bulb, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes (time will vary based on the size of your bulb).

Squeeze the innards out of the garlic bulb, and mix with the tahini, lemon juice and salt. Whisk well until everything is incorporated.

If the mixture is too thick, add hot water a tablespoon at a time to dilute it. I used about six tablespoons to get the consistency I liked.

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Red Pepper Dip 1

I adore hummus as much as the next person, but chickpeas (as well as other beans and legumes) can be difficult to digest because of their high content of protein and complex carbohydrates.

While there are numerous ways to eat more beans and toot less, I wanted to create a creamy, hummus-like dip without the chickpeas.

This roasted red pepper and carrot dip is full of robust, fruity flavour, and is a freaking powerhouse of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Might as well call this anti-cancer dip, my friends.

What is your favourite bean-less dip or spread?

Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Dip
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, five ingredients or less

3 bell peppers (I used a mix of red and orange), roasted
2 1/2 cups carrots, steamed
1/2 tsp cumin
4 tsp lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut your bell peppers in half and lay them cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the skins are shrivelled and slightly blackened. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins.

Meanwhile, steam your carrots until soft.

In a food processor, blend the peppers, carrots, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve warm or cold. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Dukkah 2

A few weeks ago, I went to a new vegetarian restaurant here in Vancouver called The Parker, where I ordered a dish called Hazelnut Dukkah.

I had no clue what dukkah was. I didn’t know if it was a spice, a vegetable, or the name of a cooking style.

All I knew was that it tasted amazing.

Thanks to Google, I’ve learned that dukkah is a crumbly Egyptian spice mix prepared from nuts and seeds. It’s traditionally served with fare like bread and vegetables, or it can be used as a spice rub.

My version is likely an abomination to the real dukkah-makers, but I thought it was delicious. Warm, nutty and savory with a hint of spicy heat. I’m typically far too lazy to toast spices, but I really thought that toasting them made this dish sing – which is why I’m recommending it to you, too.

I made my dukkah a little less crumbly and more like a paté, since that’s how it was served at The Parker and I really liked the consistency. Feel free to experiment with what you like.

Have you ever heard of dukkah? What’s your favourite way to use it?

Hazelnut Dukkah
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, egg-free, five ingredients or less

1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
pinch of cayenne
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt

In a small pan, dry roast the hazelnuts over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, until they are lightly browned and starting to crackle.

Pour the hazelnuts into a bowl to cool, then add the cumin and coriander seeds to the pan. Dry roast them briefly – you shouldn’t need more than 30 seconds to a minute for them to get browned and start crackling.

Add the hazelnuts, seeds, cayenne, olive oil, water and salt to a food processor and blend until the mixture begins to stick together. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Lentil Pecan Pate 1

When I was little, my Bubbie used to serve the occasional liver paté. I always thought it looked incredibly grey and gross. My parents somehow convinced me to try it once (I was a very picky eater) and as you might imagine, I was not won over.

And it’s not like my tastes were sophisticated. I mean, I ate hot dogs. Hot dogs. The worst bits of the pig rolled into one.

Isn’t it bizarre how we give some animal parts the label of ‘gross’, while other parts are deemed delicious?

As a nutritionist, it baffles me that we do the same thing as grown-ups, with both animal and plant foods. Brussels sprouts are vile, while French fries are mouth-watering. Chicken breasts are prized, yet calf brains are grotesque.

In fact, from a nutritional standpoint, organ meats are far more nutrient-dense than the limbs. If you’re into eating meat, shouldn’t one part of the animal be as edible as another?

But I’m getting sidetracked here.

This plant-based paté is going to knock your socks off. Promise. It’s easy to prepare, has loads of flavour and plenty of nutrients, too. Lentils are little powerhouses filled with protein, cholesterol-lowering fibre and essential minerals like magnesium and iron, while pecans are full of the antioxidant vitamin E.

Serve this with crackers, flatbread or veggies, or spread it on toast. I’ll admit it looks a little grey in the photo, but it’s anything but gross.

In your face, organ meats.

(Looking for healthy dessert recipes, or tips for how to eat deliciously on a budget? Then check out my e-books here.)

Lentil Pecan Paté
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, five ingredients or less

1/2 cup green lentils, soaked for a couple of hours (this improves digestibility)
1/2 cup pecans
half of a large onion (about 3/4 cup), chopped small
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp dried
salt to taste

In a small pot, sauté the onions in a little bit of water until softened, about five minutes. Scrape them the out of the pot and set aside.

Add the lentils to the pot, along with 1 cup of water, and cook until they are tender, about half an hour. If there is extra water that hasn’t been absorbed, pass the lentils through a strainer to drain it.

Put the lentils, onions, pecans, mustard, rosemary and salt into a food processor. Blend everything together. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help the mixture along.

Press the paté into a bowl and chill for an hour.

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Spinach Dip 2

Most spinach dip recipes are loaded with cheese and sour cream. Don’t get me wrong, I was all over spreads like that in my dairy-eating days, but now the fleeting ‘moment on the lips’ is certainly not worth the repercussions.

This vegan spinach and artichoke dip is a fantastic alternative. It’s got plenty of flavour, saltiness and bite, and works beautifully when cold or hot.

I paired this with veggies and spread it on toast, but you could also serve it with crackers or tortilla chips, or even fashion yourself a baked gluten-free bread bowl. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Ooooh, I need to figure out how to do that…

(Looking for healthy dessert recipes, or tips for how to eat deliciously on a budget? Then check out my e-books here.)

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, egg-free

1/2 cup cashews, soaked for a couple of hours
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 14-oz can of artichoke hearts
3 small garlic cloves, minced
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
salt to taste

In a blender, blend the cashews, vinegar, lemon juice and water until smooth. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the artichoke hearts with the garlic cloves a couple of times until the artichokes begin to break down. Add the cashew mixture and salt, and blend until the dip is mostly smooth, but still has texture.

Heat a few tablespoons of water in a saucepan. When it’s hot, add the spinach and let it wilt. This won’t take more than 30 seconds or so.

Spoon the spinach into the food processor, and blend until the spinach is incorporated. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

You can eat this dip as is, or bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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It took me awhile to realize that butternut squash is not the only variety of squash out there. Delicata squash has become one of my favourites because it has a sweet, creamy flavour that’s similar to butternut, except it’s far easier to peel and cut.

And we like stuff in the kitchen to be easy, right?

You can recognize delicatas by their golden colour and dark green stripes. While they are not as high in beta-carotene, they do have an abundance of fibre, as well as potassium, vitamin C and magnesium.

Delicata squashes are wonderful in soups, stews and chilis. Or you can use them in hummus.

Because you can never have too many hummus recipes. Ever.

(Looking for ways to eat healthy without spending a ton of cash? Check out my latest e-book about healthy eating on a budget.)

Delicata Squash Hummus
gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, egg-free, soy-free, five ingredients or less

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 small delicata squash (mine was about 1 pound)
1 large clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over squash
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
water as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel the squash and scoop out the seeds. Cut it into chunks, then place on a baking sheet and toss with a bit of olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until squash can be easily pierced with a fork.

After the squash has cooled, put it in a food processor along with the chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Blend until smooth. Add some water as needed to reach the consistency you love.

Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

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