I have a confession to make: Sometimes I’m very behind the times when it comes to food trends. I miss the excitement as everyone begins to get on board with something new, and then I’m incapable of catching up in a fashionably late kind of way. So, I thought maybe I just wasn’t hip enough for smoothie bowls or chia puddings. And, then I read a review copy of the new book Good Clean Food: Super Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day by Lily Kunin and decided hip enough or not, I wanted to try these things. The book is very cheery and colorful with beautifully-styled dishes in the many photos, and it was a pleasure to read. I’ve been craving more lean and nutritious foods lately, albeit with an occasional decadent treat here or there, and this book is a nice guide to very current ideas for eating well. The author started down the path of mindful eating and avoiding gluten as a way of heading off migraines, but this book isn’t about following a specific diet plan. Instead, the mostly plant-based dishes are offered for the reader to enjoy as they are or to revise in any number of ways. There are building-block recipes and instructions for cooking beans, grains, and vegetables and prepping dressings, sauces, and toppings that give you a head-start for several of the dishes. And, in addition to food, there are recipes for homemade face masks, hair treatments, and bath salts too. My first stop in the book was at the Walnut Orange Globes page. These energy balls are quickly made in a food processor with raw walnuts, raw almonds, orange zest, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt. The balls are rolled in hemp hearts, and they are a delicious snack. I’ll be making those repeatedly now that I’ve tried them. I also made chia pudding with unsweetened coconut and almond milk and topped it with raisins and walnuts, and it instantly became my new favorite breakfast. Some other recipes I’ve marked include Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad, Salted Caramel Bonbons made with dates and no refined sugar, the Cherry-Coco Ice Cream Sandwich with Double Chocolate Chews cookies, and the Taco Salad with a walnut-lentil crumble. Two other things I tried and want to tell you more about were the Mint-Chip Shake and Sweet Potato Fries with Cashew Ranch Dip.
A shake and fries sounds the opposite of nutrition-focused eating, doesn’t it? But, not with these versions. The shake is made with unsweetened nut milk, some avocado, fresh spinach, super greens powder, mint leaves, vanilla extract, peppermint oil, and cacao nibs. There was supposed to be some honey for sweetening, but I used some frozen banana instead and skipped the ice cubes as well because of that frozen fruit. The ingredients were pureed in the blender and then topped with more cacao nibs. This was my first use of super greens powder, and it combines well with the ingredients here. The one I chose is an “Amazing Grass” blend with wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, spinach, spirulina, chlorella, and broccoli. I’ve been adding it to other types of smoothies too for a boost of nutrients. The sweet potato fries were baked with a little coconut oil. The ranch dip was made with raw cashews that had been soaked in water overnight and drained, a little water, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, and parsley. I opted for fresh garlic rather than garlic powder. The ingredients were pureed in the blender.
After reading this book and trying a few things, I could be a food trend convert. I’ve been buying more raw cashews and soaking them for purees. I made the ranch dip a second time and added a chipotle chile, and quite enjoy it as a dairy-free dip or dressing. The Mint-Choco shake tasted far richer and more decadent than it should have. The chocolate flavor from the cacao nibs and the fresh mint were delicious together, and all those nutritious ingredients were a bonus. I’m glad to have this book with me in the kitchen now and look forward to trying more.
Recipes reprinted with publisher’s permission from Good Clean Food: Super Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day.
chocolate chip ice cream was my all-time favorite as a kid, largely
because of the neon green color. My preferences have shifted since then,
but I’m still all for a beautiful, bright green shade if it’s made from
spirulina, chlorella, or spinach! In this smoothie, the peppermint
mimics the classic ice cream flavor. Combined with creamy avocado,
crunchy cacao nibs, and some natural sweetness from the raw honey, this
makes an out-of-this- world midday energy bump. Use stevia in place of
the raw honey, if you prefer.
1 cup (240 ml) cashew or brazil nut milk, or any plant-based milk
1/2 small avocado
2 handfuls of spinach
1 teaspoon super greens powder
1/4 cup (13 g) fresh mint leaves, packed
2 to 3 teaspoons raw honey, or a few drops of stevia
Dash of pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt or pink salt
Few cubes of ice
Organic peppermint oil or peppermint extract
1 tablespoon cacao nibs, plus more for topping
makes 2 servings
In a blender, combine the nut milk, avocado, spinach, green powder, mint leaves,
2 teaspoons of the honey, the vanilla, salt, and ice. Add a few drops of peppermint oil—if you’re using the extract, you’ll need more than that. Puree until the mixture is well combined. Taste and adjust the honey as needed.
Blend again, then add the cacao nibs and pulse briefly to combine.
Serve the shake topped with additional cacao nibs, if desired.
Sweet Potato Fries
with Cashew Ranch Dip
recipe might be my hands-down favorite snack ever. Sweet, crispy on the
outside, and slightly spicy, these fries disappear once they hit the
plate. Unlike regular French fries, sweet potato fries are much more
nutrient-dense, and won’t slow you down. The key to getting them to
crisp up is giving them enough room to breathe on the pan—they shouldn’t
touch each other!—so they don’t end up steaming. Serve with creamy
cashew ranch dip.
serves 2 to 4
cashew ranch dip:
1 cup (120 g) raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup (120 ml) water or unsweetened almond milk
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of cayenne
Dash of paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or pink salt
1/4 cup (8 g) minced mixed chives, dill, and parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
sweet potato fries:
2 small to medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) matchsticks
2 teaspoons melted coconut oil or oil of choice
2 teaspoons mixed spices such as chili powder, garlic powder, and ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne
Sea salt or pink salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the fries: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Lightly coat the sweet potatoes with the oil and toss them with the spices and a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Lay the potatoes out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure they don’t touch, as this will help them crisp up. Bake them for 35 to 40 minutes, turning them halfway through. They are done when they are golden on both sides and cooked through. Let them cool slightly before serving.
For the dip: In a food processor or blender, combine the cashews, water, juice of one
of the lemons, garlic and onion powders, cayenne, paprika, and salt. Puree until the mixture is creamy. If needed, add more water to reach your desired consistency. Transfer the dip to a small bowl, stir in the herbs, and season with additional lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld.
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