Sprout New Roots


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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!

spaghetti-squash-1

What do you consider comfort food ?

Please let us know in the comments below!


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Carrots and Broccoli, Oh My!

Hey guys and gals! I’m going to share with you a yummy, affordable, and super healthy dish, k? K, cool! Before my sister and I went vegan around 8 months ago, we always loved our aunt’s carrot/broccoli parmesan pasta that she would make for most family events. It was one of our go-to vegetarian dishes that we’d load up onto our plates. My husband loves this simple dish as well. So, while at the grocery store earlier Jason threw the idea out to make it for dinner-only vegan, obviously. So we did and I even added in a fun surprise: chopped up almonds! Next time, I may even leave out the pasta entirely since I found myself eating mainly the broccoli and carrots because they were so good! Seriously, that would make a wonderful dish on it’s own, or a great side dish!

Anywho, my aunt’s dish kinda goes like this: white pasta, steamed carrots, steamed broccoli, minced garlic, olive oil, and parmesan, all tossed together.

My dish kinda goes like this:

Carrot & Broccoli Almond Pasta

1 lb. bag of whole wheat pasta, cooked – in our case, tonight, we used a spinach flavored one (I personally didn’t taste anything spinachy so next time if I even use pasta, I’ll just stick with regular whole wheat)

2 heads broccoli chopped up, steamed

10-15 carrots chopped up, steamed

4 garlic cloves, minced/chopped, then very lightly sauteed for 5 or so minutes on the stove in just a splash of water

a big handful of almonds, soaked/sprouted, then dried out (google how to do this bc it takes hours-here’s one basic link http://www.almondessence.com/Transforming.cfm); but it’s easy and increases your absorbancy of the nutrient power of almonds, and makes their outer shell digest-able). Once they were finished being sprouted, I laid them onto my toaster oven pan and baked them at 150 degrees for an hour or 2 until they seemed mostly dry. Then I chopped up (I used my mini prep processor). This is a good idea to do regularly to have sprouted almonds on-hand so you can easily add them to dishes-like I did!

Olive oil

Combine everything and mix up! Drizzle a little olive oil to your liking into the mix (try not to over-do this as olive oil is super fatty!).

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