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Vegan Walnut Pesto

I’ve always loved pesto. Pesto on my pasta, pesto spread on toasty bread, pesto on a sandwich or wrap, etc. After going from vegetarian to vegan, I learned that a lot of pesto’s usually have parmesan cheese in them. I also learned that making vegan pesto is crazy easy and whatever that parmesan cheese added to the flavor, nuts could add an even cleaner taste to it-while maintaining the “cheezy” notes. For the last few years, however, I’ve not really fooled around with pesto. Then we started an herb garden and I found what I’d been missing out on-fresh basil. I’d searched the web, collected and saved recipes and when my basil was ready-I was more than ready. My mouth watered just looking at the basil leaves! So here’s what I did. I used NeverHomeMaker’s Pesto recipe as my base, slightly altered it, and added a little nutritional yeast. (Check out her blog if you have not already-I have a crush on her food pictures!)

Once we made this and served it over pasta, we literally looked at each other constantly saying “Oh my god, now this is delicious!”, “Oh my god, I can’t even believe how good this is!”, “Wow.” haha!

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Walnut Basil Pesto

(slightly altered from NeverHomeMaker’s version)

Makes about 8-12 oz of sauce

  • 3/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts-but I used walnuts because they’re cheaper)
  • 2.5 cups fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped up a bit
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes

How-To

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a rimmed baking sheet, spread your walnuts and then roast for 5 minutes. Stir. Roast another couple minutes, until you can smell them. Set aside to cool completely. I put mine in the freezer while I did the other steps to speed up the cooling process.
  2. Boil a cup and a half of water and then “shock” the basil (helps keep the green color longer) by placing it in water for 10 seconds. Then immediately pour into colander and rinse with cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. You’ll be shocked at how much the leaves shrivel down to nothing!
  3. In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Then pulse until well combined.
  4. Store in an air-tight container for 2-4 days in the refrigerator for use or freeze in ice cube tray for the future.

Thank you NeverHomeMaker!!

photo(9)Reaping my harvest! Ha!

photo(11)We cooked some quinoa pasta and steamed and sauteed veggies, then topped it with the pesto!

This made for such an incredible meal!

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Do you have any pesto tips or recipes? I’d love to hear them!

 

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The Mac-n-Vegan-Cheesiest!

Everyone loves comfort food. Including us! Who doesn’t appreciate food that’s tastes like home? We grew up in New Orleans and pretty much all of the cuisine here makes people feel happy when they eat it. They may not feel so good afterwards-but it’s worth it to them. Not so much to us. However, we love that warming, comfortable feeling of tasting a slice of home-which brings me to this post! What we consider comfort food. Mac –Cheese! But not just any old mac n cheese- Spaghetti Squash Mac-n-Cashew “Cheese”! There are many recipes that you can find online for different nut and cashew cheese sauces, but I wanted to show you guys exactly what I did with what I had in my pantry because I believe it’s a simpler recipe than a lot that I found online. I chose spaghetti squash for the “noodles” because I have noticed, over time, that I’ve tended to “crowd out” pastas with whole grains and other “whole foods”. The last few times I have eaten pasta (even whole wheat or multi-grain) I feel heavier than I like to afterwards. I think my body is just used to lighter fair these days. And by “lighter” I certainly do not mean only salads-just food that takes less processing by my body. I still love pasta though and of course I still eat it occasionally. It’s just a small change I’ve experienced gradually over this past year and a half. Also, I like to eat a lot-so if I eat pasta-I can’t eat as much and that’s just no fun for me!
So here’s what I did!

cashews

Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash, or 2 small spaghetti squashes

You can bake your spaghetti squash whole or in 2 halves (cut lengthwise) in the oven.

If you choose to bake it whole, pierce the skin with a sharp knife several times around the squash. Bake it for an hour if it’s a medium-large size at 375 degrees. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees if it’s a small one. You’ll need to be careful that the skin doesn’t burn.  Check it occasionally and reposition it if you notice it beginning to brown in one spot. Once it is finished (you should be able to pierce the skin with a knife without much resistance) , remove from the oven, cut in half, and carefully scrape out the seeds and pulp in the center, then scrape the inside “meat” of the squash out with a fork and you’ll notice it comes out in “noodles” just like spaghetti!

If you choose to bake it in half, cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center and place it in the oven on a baking pan rind side up for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees. Again, once it is finished, scrape the inside of the squash out with a fork.

Cashew Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups of non-dairy milk (I used soy milk, but almond milk would work fine as well. Avoid coconut milk for this)
  • 1 heaping tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Put cashews in your blender or processor. Blend until they’re crumbly but be sure not to blend to a paste. Add the nutritional yeast flakes along with the garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. Pulse the blender 3 or 4 more times to mix it up. On the stove, heat the nondairy milk, olive oil, and the cornstarch. Heat and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Turn your blender/processor back on and slowly add the hot milkiness and blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Mix it into your spaghetti squash noodles! Add steamed/sautéed veggies into it or on the side. I have added in fresh spinach (picture below) and also steamed broccoli and carrots! Viola! Guilt-free comfort food!

Little Tip! Use this cashew “cheese” sauce to pour over your veggies or rice! Slather it on a sandwich! Dip chips or veggies into it!

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What do you consider comfort food ?

Please let us know in the comments below!


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Easy Homemade Peanut Butter!

Ok y’all, I love peanut butter. Like, love it. I dip my apples in it, I make pb banana sandwiches, I add it to my smoothies, the list goes on. I used to buy JIF peanut butter until I noticed the ingredients having lots of oil and other things in there that I didn’t find necessary. The same goes for other brands-most have added oils. So for the last year or so I have been buying Whole Foods 365 brand-which is great. Ingredients read: Peanuts, Salt. That’s it and I’m cool with that. But then I saw a link on Pinterest (haha that’s how most girl’s conversations go these days, right?!) about making your own peanut butter and how easy it is. I know that you can make your own at Whole Foods and other groceries but the DIY-er in me had to try this on my own at home because it just seemed too easy.  And it is! This is my first go at it so I literally only used peanuts-which is all you need.  I took a bag of roasted peanuts that I had in my pantry and shelled some until I had enough of that (this is the only work that’s really involved here), threw them in the mini processor, blended until it was the right consistency-done! It’s crazy how at first it starts to look like sand-but you have to keep blending because eventually it breaks down the natural oils and becomes a buttery consistency.

I can’t wait to get experimental with this and add things like cocoa powder or coconut flakes or chocolate chips! I wonder if pumpkin would work in there? I’ll have to try my own almond butter as well-and cashew butter/cream. Now I’ll be dreaming about nut butters the rest of the day! Ooh these could make great Christmas gifts too!

Ok cough it up-do you have a great home-made nut-butter recipe that we should know about? Please share!


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Grapefruit Juicing Nutso Over Here!

Do you guys like grapefruit? I LOVE it! So when my husband’s friend at work mentioned that he had a tree that was overflowing with grapefruit-I nearly died and went to heaven! He’s delivered us 2 boxes in the last few weeks and it’s been grape-er-great! I remember in college I would buy grapefruit juice from the grocery and always have some in the fridge! That was before I knew anything about pasteurization and how I was basically buying dead sugary juice…but, nevertheless, I still loved grapefruit and it’s juice!

So, since I now all of the sudden had all of these voluptuous balls of joy, I had to make use of them before they went bad. In other words, just eating them wasn’t doing the trick. Then I remembered the way cool industrial looking citrus press that a relative of mine gave me a while back!  Perfect! To juice them it was! Looking back, I feel it was fate that brought that press to me years ago. Because, while I use lemons and limes in my drinking water and cooking all the time, never once did I use the press for them. But for this, it was meant to be.  And, let me tell you, fresh grapefruit juice is just incredibly invigorating and tasty! I bet there are really refreshing cocktails I could make with this-so if you know of any-let us know!

There are tons of benefits, by the way, to eating and juicing grapefruit! For one, while grapefruit, (and lemons and limes) are  themselves, acidic, once consumed they actually have a very alkalizing affect on the body. This is a huge deal as the diet of our culture is extremely acidic, wreaking havoc on our bodies and causing disease. It doesn’t take much to see this.

Grapefruit is high in Vitamin C, making your immune system stronger and helping your body to absorb iron. It is a good source of Potassium and Copper as well. Potassium helps your heart to function properly and also your muscles to contract-including your digestive ones-which is crucial to a healthy digestive system. The Copper aids in the production of the protein, collagen, which makes up connective tissue and ligaments and tendons. It also gives you healthy, supple skin! So eat and drink up!

Do you guys like grapefruit juice? Have you ever had it fresh before?

Let us know if you know of any grapefruit juice cocktails we could try!

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Eating Out New Orleans: Santa Fe Tapas Vegan Brunch

This past Saturday, we spent the entire day out and about with our mom. For lunch, we decided to be adventurous and try out a restaurant that we had heard about through the New Orleans vegan community grapevine.

Every Saturday, Santa Fe Tapas on St. Charles has a vegan brunch. Everything was absolutely delicious! Probably one of the best meals any of us have ever eaten! As soon as they brought us our meals, all 3 of us immediately whipped out our iPhone’s to take pictures! Everything was so pretty and looked incredible and we had to document this! The tamales were our favorite, though, hands down. And the bananas foster – oh my goodness! To die for!

Here’s what we ordered:

Roasted Vegetables Vegan Tamales, Poblano Mole, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole

Crisp marinated Tofu, Piquillo Roasted Corn Spinach Shallot Orzo (Risotto)

Panneed “Scallopini” Parsnip Potato Latke, Asparagus Amandine

Bananas Foster (with house made vegan ice cream!)

If anyone has a delicious vegan tamale recipe, please share it with us! We’ve been dreaming about it ever since!