Coconut Cherry Muesli

Coconut Cherry Muesli

Coconut cherry muesli is super easy and budget friendly to make! Made with oats tossed with dried cherries, shredded coconut, almonds, and cashews with oats. Enjoy it by itself with milk, or mixed with yogurt and topped with berries and honey for easy overnight oats. Packed with fiber for a filling breakfast!

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Turmeric Mango Smoothie

Turmeric Mango Smoothie

This turmeric mango smoothie is SO refreshing! Made with a blend of mango, orange juice and carrot with coconut water, it’s the perfect little hydrating smoothie for summer. I added ginger and tumeric for a spicy kick, and a boost of antioxidants. Enjoy this for breakfast or a snack!

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Dairy Free Macaroni and Cheese

Dairy Free Macaroni and Cheese

This dairy free macaroni and cheese recipe is made with the most incredible pumpkin-sage sauce that gets it's yummy creaminess from the soaked cashews that get blended it. A lay of herb infused panko breadcrumbs over the top add crunch! The perfect pasta casserole for fall! 

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Savory Curry Coconut Granola with Chile Spiced Mango

Switch up your granola game with this savory curry coconut granola with chile spiced dried mango!

Happy Friday! As you're reading this, Scott and I are either in Atlanta or in transit for the wedding of two of our dearest friends. The bride is one of my best friends from college and the groom is one of Scott's best friends from middle school. They actually first met at our housewarming party and then more officially at our wedding. I'd share the full story, but it's much too embarrassing (for my brother, of all people, not them). Also I've told it about 3,347 times in real life because I've realized I'm one of those people who tells the same story over and over again, the result of an autosomal dominant gene on my paternal side.

Being on a road trip, you know we'll have plenty of travel snacks. I'm probably driving with fellow dietitian and one of my other best friends from college, Barb (of homemade yogurt fame). We've had many a road trip in our almost 15 years of friendship, but gone are the days of stopping at McDonalds. Now we do things like pack baggies of sprouted lentils, go to the drive thru for hot tea and lattes, and drive 30 minutes out of the way for artisan chocolate drinks. 

We are so old.

Granola is another one of my favorite travel snacks. It's filling, portable and tasty! But for snacks, I tend to prefer savory over sweet. I've had this idea for savory granola ever since last years trip with California Almonds. One of our activities was a snack contest featuring almonds and my group came up with a savory curry and chili spiced granola bar. While I think our bar tasted the best (purely speculative as I did not taste any of the other entries), it lost on based on the fact that we couldn't get it to stick together in bar form. Sigh...unrecognized genius.

Feel free to use any mix of nuts and grains you like. I really like using uncooked quinoa in granola for extra crunch. I had half a bag of puffed millet on hand leftover from making these marshmallow free crispy treats, but you could also use puffed brown rice or quinoa flakes. Or just keep it simple with all oats.

Don't make the same mistake I always make and add the dried fruit before baking. It makes it chewy and gives it a little bit of a burnt flavor. Stir it in after baking and cooling. You can find chili spiced mango, which is an addictive blend of sweet and spicy, at Trader Joes, or order it online. If you can find it, swap plain dried mango, dried pineapple or apricots and maybe add a teaspoon of chili powder with the curry.

Savory Curry Coconut Granola with Chile Mango

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup puffed millet
  • 1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chili spiced dried mango, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, puffed millet, nuts and seeds, and coconut. In another bowl, whisk together honey, coconut oil, curry powder and salt. Pour wet mixture over granola and stir to combine.
  3. Pour granola mixture onto baking sheet and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake 40 minutes, stirring lightly halfway. Remove from oven, set aside to cool then store covered at room temperature.

More snack mixes for road trips:

Easy Asian Snack Mix
Easy Asian Snack Mix
Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
PB&J Granola
PB&J Granola

Oats with Lemon Zest and Gingery Blueberry Sauce

Oats with lemon zest and gingery blueberry sauce makes an easy, nourishing breakfast with a unique flavor combination to start your day. 

Happy Monday! Hope you’re enjoying the start to a fabulous week! I’m really looking forward to settling in after all our recent travels. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you know we’ve spent the past week and a half in Hawaii. My sister-in-law got Maui’ed on Maui (sorry…), so Scott and I used it as an excuse to go island hopping. Scott had never been and although I had visited a few islands in high school with family, I was itching to go back. If you know us, then you know there was very little relaxing on the beach - drives me nuts! Instead, we spent our time hiking, exploring and, of course, eating! I’ll be sharing a recap of our time on the island and a look at all the delicious things we ate, but until then, just know I am seriously considering changing my blog to “An Ahi Poke A Day!”

As much as I love to travel, lately I’ve kinda worn myself thin with it. Of course, as I’m typing this, my husband is next to me trying to convince me that we need to go to Miami for New Years to watch our Clemson Tigers in the playoffs. Ha! Still, I'm looking forward to spending the next few months mostly at home.

The flexibility of owning a business and being able to take off whenever you want is nice, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The past few months, I feel like I’ve constantly been working late to either work ahead for vacations or catch up from vacation. I can't complain...but I'm gonna go ahead and complain. I'm tired and need to drop some things off my plate.

One of the ways I'm simplifying is in the kitchen. I love food and I love to cook, so it's easy to get wrapped up in making something delicious, and then get stressed halfway through cooking because I'm hungry and I still have a million things to do. While I still want to share things that are exciting and fun on the blog, there will definitely be a theme of simplicity. And lots of batch cooking friendly dishes!

This recipe for oats definitely fits in that category. I know it's pretty similar to my recipe for coconut oats with blueberry chia jam, but it's just different up to earn a post of it's own. I think you're going to love the unique flavor combination of lemon zest, blueberries and ginger. You can batch cook oatmeal, keep it in the fridge and just add a little extra milk to thin it before reheating. The blueberry ginger sauce is also batch cooking friendly, and incredibly easy to make. I use a bag of frozen wild blueberries, bring it to a quick simmer then add ginger and chia seeds to thicken. You might want to make twice as much as you'll need - extras are so yummy over plain yogurt and I bet you could even turn it into a savory glaze for roasted chicken!

Oats with Lemon Zest and Gingery Blueberry Sauce

Serves:4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • For serving: toasted cashews, plain greek yogurt and blueberry ginger sauce

Blueberry Ginger Sauce: 

  • 12 ounce bag frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2-3 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions

  1. First, make blueberry sauce. Combine frozen berries, honey, and ginger in a small pot on medium heat. Cook until liquid has released and blueberries are no longer frozen, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in chia seeds and set aside until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Next, make the oatmeal. Bring water and almond milk to a boil in a medium pot. Pour in oats and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer until oats are tender, 5-10 minutes.
  3. Serve oats topped with blueberry sauce, cashews, and yogurt.

More oatmeal recipes:

Coconut Steel Cut Oats with Almonds and Dark Chocolate
Coconut Steel Cut Oats with Almonds and Dark Chocolate
Chai Oatmeal with Sauteed Pears
Chai Oatmeal with Sauteed Pears
Healthy Fruit and Cream Oatmeal
Healthy Fruit and Cream Oatmeal

Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Vegan Vietnamese brown rice noodle salad is packed with bright, fresh flavors from crunchy raw vegetables, fresh herbs, spicy sesame tempeh and a tangy sesame vinaigrette.

Happy Monday! Sending this post out from the airport on my way to Lodi, California, where I'm spending the next three days traveling with California Almonds. Very excited for this amazing experience, and to learn about my favorite nut along with some incredible RD bloggers. Follow me on instagram for updates!

This trip is the start to a season packed to the brim with travel. Next week I'm headed to Chicago, where I'll be spending a few days exploring the city with my mom before my cousins wedding. The week after that, we're headed up to Philadelphia a dear friends wedding. Then I'll have a few weeks at home before I head to Nashville for FNCE, the national conference for dietitians. From there (and I mean literally from there, like, the day after FNCE ends) I'm headed off for the two week trip of a lifetime with my hubs to....

VIETNAM!!

Hence this Vietnamese rice noodle salad, which I'm sure after eating authentic Vietnamese rice noodle salads I will look back on and cringe.

I won't lie, looking at my calendar, rapidly filling appointment slots and wondering when I will have time to keep up with this little blog of mine, it's a bit exhausting. But I mean, getting a free trip to California, having mother-daughter time in an awesome city, seeing lifelong friends and making new ones, going to freaking Vietnam...I really can't complain!

Right after my husband, travel is the love of my life. Nothing makes me feel more alive than exploring a new place and soaking up every last drop. Even if it's in our own state, it brings a joy to my life that I can't quite describe.

There's a saying attributed to the Dalai Lama to "once a year, go someplace you've never been before." I love this advice. Traveling, more than taking a vacation, expands your life in so many ways. It builds confidence, makes you a more compassionate person, opens your mind, makes you less materialistic, and (I think) sexier.

Travel can make you healthier. Looking back at my life, I truly believe traveling as a child was the single greatest factor in me becoming a dietitian and making my wellness a priority. Really. If you think travel is all about indulgent restaurants and skipping workouts, well, you're right, but there are other ways travel can make you a healthier person.

It's helps you see past the insanity of fad diets. When you travel around the world, you see a wide range of traditional diets. You also see how the people eating these different diets are generally pretty healthy, much healthier than we are here in the States. For example, in Peru, potatoes were a major part of every meal. At the farmers market, there was an entire potato section which consisted of two 30-foot long tables overflowing with dozens of different types of potatoes. I also saw native Peruvians absolutely whooping fit Americans on the Incan trail. Our guide said Peruvian guides hiked to Machu Picchu and back in one day. It takes other travelers three days, one way. It's kind of hard to give in to the low carb propoganda after seeing that.

Travel expands your taste buds. Picky eaters...not exactly the healthiest. Travel exposes you to new foods and flavors. When you're a more adventurous eater, eating healthy food is less about dieting and more about trying new and delicious foods.

Travel makes you appreciate what you have. In many countries, poverty is much more visible than we're used to. Seeing how people not only live, but in many ways thrive, with much less material possessions than we're used to, makes you truly appreciate what you have. When  you truly feel grateful for the food in front of you, it seems wasteful not to enjoy and savor it mindfully.

Travel motives me to be healthy later in life. Scott and I are planning our lives to ensure we're able to travel as much as possible, as late into life as possible. I am fully prepared to be that little old lady, cane in one hand, Scott's hand in the other, navigating the streets of some small European town.

You don't even have to travel to exotic places to get these benefits. Exploring new places in your own backyard can be just as beneficial, and fun! Some of my favorite trips have been less than a couple hours drive - camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking with friends in the upstate, and exploring historic sites in South Carolina. You can even learn a lot from exploring your own town with fresh eyes!

Do you love to travel? If so, how has it enriched your life and made you a healthier person? 

Vegan Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Serves 6

Adapted from Thug Kitchen

Ingredients

Ginger-Sesame Tempeh:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil

Salad:

  • 8 ounce package thin brown rice noodles
  • 1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Toasted Sesame Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. First, make the tempeh. Cut the tempeh into 16 slices width-wise. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the tempeh ingredients. Pour over the tempeh in a shallot bowl, flip to coat evenly with marinade. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. When ready to cook, warm 1-2 teaspoons in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add tempeh slices and cook 3-4 minutes, flip, then cook 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. To make the salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook according to package directions. When they are done, drain, rinse under cold water until cool, then set aside.
  4. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  5. Divide the salad greens between four plates or large bowls. Top with a scoop of rice noodles in the center. Place the carrot, cucumber, herbs and green onion in piles around the noodles. Drizzle with dressing, top with cashews and serve.

More recipes inspired by my travels:

Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens

Vegan Tempeh Taco Salad with Cashew Sour Cream

A vegan take on taco salad made with tempeh and cashew sour cream. The whole family will love this plant based meal! 

Just a quickie post for you today, sharing a tasty little vegan salad I whipped up a few months ago. My kitchen creativity has been waning the past couple weeks, so I had to dig through the archives for an awesome recipe with pictures to match.

Even though I passed over this recipe the first time around doesn’t make it any less worthy of being shared. However, because I did have a full weekend of work, plans to celebrate one of my best friends 30th birthdays Sunday night, and an early morning class I'm teaching on Monday, it isn’t worthy of me chatting about it more than this! 

Enjoy!

Vegan Tempeh Taco Salad with Cashew Sour Cream

Serves 4

Ingredients

Tempeh Taco Meat: 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt free taco seasoning

Salad: 

  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • 2 ounces tortilla chips, roughly broken
  • Salsa

Cashew Sour Cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water at least 2 hours
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5-7 minutes until tender. Add tempeh, taco seasoning, and saute 5 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. While tempeh is sauteing, blend soaked cashews, water, apple cider vinegar and salt in a food processor until smooth, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. In a large salad bowl, toss together lettuce, radishes, black olives and tortilla chips. Top with tempeh meat, cashew sour cream, and salsa and serve.

Strawberry Crepes with Honeyed Cashew Cream

I've been on a crepe kick for the past couple weeks, and this was one of the sweet creations I came up with. Perfectly ripe, in-season strawberries are so delicious, I didn’t want to cover their flavor up by doing too much to them. A little honey and creamy pureed cashews is enough to enhance their tart flavor. I prefer stuffing the sliced strawberries into the crepes, where they mingle with the honeyed cashew cream, but they look picture perfect sprinkled over the top.

To make these gluten free, try buckwheat flour or oat flour. Fresh crepes always taste best, but for me, convenience wins and I just cook all the crepes at once and refrigerate. You could always keep the batter in the fridge a couple of days, stored in the blender. Before making the crepes, give it a quick whir to blend. Since out of season strawberries are pretty awful, I suggest making these when strawberries are in season, or using frozen strawberries and chia to make a quick chia jam by blending frozen strawberries with a little sugar and a tablespoon or two of chia seeds, then letting it sit to gel for 10 minutes.

Easy strawberry crepes with honeyed cashew cream! #vegan #vegetarian #crepes #strawberry #spring #dessert #dairyfree

Strawberry Crepes with Honeyed Cashew Cream

Makes 14-16

Ingredients

  • Crepes:

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (the kind in a carton)

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour

  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Pinch of salt

  • Honeyed Cashew Cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours

  • 1/4 cup unsweetned coconut milk

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Pinch of salt

  • To assemble:

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

Directions

  1. Place the ingredients for the crepes (eggs, coconut milk, flour, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt) in a blender. Blend until combined. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the bubbles subside (this keeps the crepes from breaking).

  2. While the batter is chilling, make the cream. Drain cashews and place in a food processor with coconut milk, honey, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend, scraping down sides, until creamy, about five minutes total. Remove to a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

  3. When ready to make the crepes, heat a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Using a quarter cup measure, pour a scant quarter cup into the hot skillet. Lift the skillet off the heat and quickly swirl the batter, helping it spread thin. Place back on the stovetop and cook about 30 seconds - you should see little bubbles forming. Carefully flip and cook another 10 seconds. Remove with a spatula and set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, stacking the crepes on top of each other.

  4. When ready to eat, spread a little cashew cream down the center of each crepe (about 2 tablespoons), top with strawberries and fold the sides over.


More strawberry recipes:

Breakfast Strawberry Shortcake

Breakfast Strawberry Shortcake

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Yogurt Cups

Balsamic Macerated Strawberry Yogurt Cups

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crumble


Easy strawberry crepes with honeyed cashew cream! #vegan #vegetarian #crepes #strawberry #spring #dessert #dairyfree

Cashew Coconut Recovery Milk

With the perfect ratio of carbs to protein, this cashew coconut recovery milk is the perfect way to refuel after a workout. 

Let me get this out of the way. I am no elite athlete.

As a child, I rode horses and took gymnastics, both of which I loved. There was also that one season I "played" soccer, but I mostly just ran in the general direction of the ball so it looked like I knew what was going on. In high school, I ran track and cross country, which I enjoyed, but after moving to a new school my junior year where they had one of the best cross country teams in the nation, I was basically intimidated off the team.

Since then, I've learned that I do best moving my body in ways that I enjoy rather than forcing myself onto the elliptical or treadmill. For the past three years, it's been lighter exercises, like yoga. But over the past few months, inspired by my more athletic clients and my active dietitian blogger friends, I've started to enjoy how it feels to push my body to it's max. Whether it's Pure Barre (which sounds wussy, but holy moly does it get your muscles to shake!) or running, it's always a happy surprise when I realize what my body can do.

As I've started to push myself athletically, and as I've started working with more active clients, I've had to think more about fueling for my workouts. Although it's clearly important for everyone to eat nutritious foods, when you're active, there's a lot of other little things to consider, like pre and post-workout snacks, ensuring adequate glycogen (fuel) stores and getting enough protein without going overboard.

There's probably no area of nutrition where there's worse, less reliable information online than sports nutrition. Start googling and you're likely to takeaway a long list of supplements and serious case of confusion.

That's why I was so excited when Whitney of Sweet Cayenne and Christina of The Fueled Athlete sent me a copy of their new ebook, The Fueled Athlete. Already a fan of their blogs, I knew it would be great, but after reading it, I was seriously blown away by how they were able to make such complex nutrition science so readable and to the point.

The range of topics covered by the book is impressive. You'll learn how to distribute macronutrients (fat, carbs, and protein) during easy, moderate and heavy training, and do it in a way so you're not actually counting fat, carbs and protein (yay for no counting!). It also tackles the important topics of pre and post-workout nutrition, hydration and science-backed supplements. Plus, there's 14 delicious, whole food recipes designed for athletes (or anyone who loves tasty food!). I can't wait to try the Mediterranean stuffed peppers and the Asian soba noodle salad!

All the information is really easy to understand, no matter your level of background knowledge. And it's written so it's useful for both athletes and people who are just active!

For $15, you can purchase it below. Full disclosure - it's an affiliate link, meaning I am paid a small portion of the profits if you decide to purchase, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting the work I do here on Avocado, and the products I love, like this book!

The Fueled Athlete

Now, on to this recipe. Have you heard that chocolate milk is the best way to refuel after a workout? Researchers (funded by the dairy industry, obviously), found out that chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of carbs to protein to replenish glycogen stores and build muscle after a workout. True, but do you really want to get your carbs from added sugar and protein from conventional dairy? I knew there had to be a better way.

So, I started playing around with recipes and I came up with this cashew-coconut milk, which has the exact same 4:1 ratio! Not only that, but coconut water, a rich source of electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium, helps rehydrate. If you want to squeeze in some extra protein, feel free to add a scoop of protein powder to the mix.

Cashew Coconut Recovery Milk

Serves 4

You could also use almonds or any other nut you like, but I love that you don't have to strain cashews. Just give it a good shake!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked at least 2 hours

  • 5 cups coconut water

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • 2 teaspoons honey

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until pureed and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. I store individual servings in mason jars and give it a good shake before serving.

You Might Also Like:

Homemade Nut Butter, Three Ways

Homemade Nut Butter, Three Ways

Strawberry Coconut Vegan Milkshake

Strawberry Coconut Vegan Milkshake

Carrot Citrus Juice

Carrot Citrus Juice

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Cilantro-Lime Cashew Dipping Sauce

A recipe for spicy baked sweet potato fries, drizzled with a vegan cilantro-lime cashew sauce. Plus, learn my trick for making ultra crispy sweet potato fries in the oven! 

It's sad to think back on all the mediocre food I regularly ate in college, simply because I thought it was healthy. Soggy turkey subs (with lite mayo of course) were low fat, therefore the panacea of health. My dinnertime standard of sugary jarred spaghetti sauce over a pile of white noodles was vegetarian, so, obviously nutritious.  I snacked on high fiber granola bars, fat free yogurt, and big bags of baked barbecue chips. And when I went out to dinner, it was always a turkey burger with sweet potato fries instead of regular.

For most people, I'm sure it's fairly obvious sweet potato fries are still fries. But at the time, with my lack of knowledge and disordered relationship with food, I put sweet potato fries in the same category as celery sticks and salad with fat free dressing because they were sooooo much healthier than regular fries. For the record, I absolutely do not categorize food anymore, and if I did, definitely wouldn't be eating anything from that category!

But yeah, I was chowing down on sweet potato fries in an attempt to get flat abs, and I didn't even enjoy them. Sigh.

I know sweet potato fries are one of those things most people geek out over, my husband included. It's the whole cinnamon-sugar topping thing that weirds me out. You want dessert after your burger, not next to it!

It wasn't until I tasted spicy sweet potato fries that I got what all the fuss is about. Sweet and spicy? Now that's a flavor combo I can get down with.

If I was forced to make a choice, classic deep-fried, hand cut French fries made from starchy Russets are my top pick. I just love the fry nubbins - the super crispy, mangled little bits of potato that everyone else leaves behind so I get to steal them. But these baked sweet potato fries definitely give them a run for the money, especially when slathered in a creamy, tangy cilantro-cashew cream.

The biggest problem with baked sweet potato fries is that they often turn into a soggy mess. Getting that crispy exterior and creamy interior is tricky, but after some trial and error and a couple batches of seriously charred fries, I finally found the trick - cornstarch! Toss the fries in a little bit of cornstarch before drizzling with olive oil and spices and they'll crisp right up in the oven.

These would be perfect served alongside my spicy tofu burger or beet and quinoa burger. You could also top it with black beans and avocado or vegan chili and serve it with a side salad for a main dish. Or hey, I hear there's this sporting event going on this weekend that you might need some healthy appetizers for ;)

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Cilantro-Lime Cashew Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

Fries:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes, cut into fries
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cilantro-Lime Cashew Dipping Sauce: 

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water 2 hours
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Garnish: 

  • Cilantro
  • Green onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degres.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with cornstarch to coat evenly. Drizzle in olive oil and toss evenly to combine.
  3. Mix spices together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over potatoes and toss together until evenly coated. Spread evenly over 2 large baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between fries. Overcrowding causes them to be soggy. Place in the oven and roast 12-15 minutes. Flip, and change positions of the potatoes in the oven, and continue roasting an additional 10 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are baking, add the sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until cashews are completely broken down and the sauce is creamy, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Serve sweet potato fries with dipping sauce. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.

More Spicy Vegan Recipes: 

Indian Spiced Baked Fries with Cashew Cheese

Indian Spiced Baked Fries with Cashew Cheese

Raw Walnut Meat Tacos with Cashew Cheese

Raw Walnut Meat Tacos with Cashew Cheese

Chipotle Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Chipotle Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple-Cashew Cream

Alas, my fall pumpkin contribution to the food blogging world. Light and fluffy coconut flour pancakes, packed with filling protein. Dollop with a creamy cashew cream lightly sweetened with maple syrup for a low sugar topping.

Now, before you ask, no, I have not gone paleo. What I have done though, is have a ton of fun learning to cook with coconut flour, the newest grain-free flour on the block. Made from dried, defatted coconut meat, this grain-free flour has become popular with paleo and low carb dieters.

My food philosophy focuses on food rather than nutrients. In the case of carbohydrates, I encourage my clients to focus on higher fiber carbohydrate foods. Still, there are some people, like some of my clients with difficult to control diabetes, who benefit from eating a lower (not no) carbohydrate diet. It's easy to makeover most dishes to have less carbs - in most cases I just up the veggies and swap in some filling, healthy fats. But where I really struggled was baked goods - even keeping the portion size small, swapping in whole grain flour and using a small amount of sweetener, it would still spike their blood sugar more than I'd like. I've got a few cookie recipes in my arsenal using almond meal, another a nutritious low carb flour, but nothing that could replicate light and fluffy consistencies.

Then I discovered coconut flour.

Now, please be warned, coconut flour is a bit difficult to work with. My first time cooking with it was an epic fail. Probably the greatest fail of my entire cooking career, beating out the time I substituted cayenne for chili powder and my sweet potato gnocchi that liquified in the pot. Yes, my coconut flour biscuits were worse than tongue-scorching tortilla soup and a pot full of orange sludge. Because coconut flour has a high ratio of fiber to carbohydrate, it needs lots of liquid. So, I probably should have known better than to substitute 1:1 coconut flour for whole wheat flour without any adjustments. The resulting biscuit was so dry and crumbly, just one bite literally sucked all the moisture out of my mouth. I literally had to stop and chug a glass of water!

I hope I didn't scare you away, because once you get it right, coconut flour is a wonderful, grain-free alternative! Actually, I think baked goods (made correctly!) with coconut flour taste the most like white flour. Since it doesn't have a strong flavor, like bean or nut flours, coconut flour blends seamlessly into the baked good without overwhelming.

These pancakes aren't just for paleo dieters or people watching their carbs. High in protein and fiber, these pancakes won't leave you with the midmorning slump like other pancakes high in sugar and refined flour. They're also gluten free, perfect for anyone with celiac, gluten sensitivities or following a low FODMAPS diet for IBS. Even if you aim for a plant-based diet like me, these really aren't all that animal heavy protein heavy, with the equivalent of one egg per serving. The rest of the ingredients are all vegan!

Now, I have to mention this maple-cashew cream. Because it's so delicious and I know you'll want to dip apples into it, spoon it over yogurt or just eat it by the spoonful, this recipe makes about double what you'll need. Or, and I just got this amazing idea, you could stack these pancakes into a "cake" and layer it with cashew cream instead of frosting. Ohh! Even better - alternate layers with blueberry chia seed jam for a little fruity flavor! Okay, I need to stop myself before a run to the kitchen and make a giant pancake cake!

I should note, since we're going with the lower sugar theme and all, I wouldn't add maple syrup. You really don't need it - the maple cashew cream is sweet enough. That last picture, the maple syrup was added for prettiness. Speaking of which, funny story about it. I tried to get that lovely shot action shot of maple syrup pouring over the pancakes. Apparently that requires more hand-eye coordination than I have, because I ended up just pouring maple syrup all over the table! Not even close!

Have you cooked with coconut flour before? 

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple-Cashew Cream

Makes 12, serves 6; with leftover cream

Serve leftover cream as a dipping sauce for fresh fruit or spooned into oatmeal.

Ingredients

Pancakes:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or other unrefined sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 eggs, preferably organic and free range
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple Cashew Cream:

  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours in water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus extra if needed
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, almond milk, oil and vanilla extract. Mix wet ingredients into the dry until well combined.
  2. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Spray with a little olive oil or coconut oil. When hot, add scant 1/4 cups of batter and cook until set on one side, about 3 minutes, then carefully flip and cook the other side about a minute until golden. Set aside on a plate or keep warm in a 200 degree oven while cooking the remaining pancakes.
  3. While the pancakes are cooking, place cashews, almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla in a food processor. Blend 3-4 minutes until creamy.
  4. Serve 2 pancakes dolloped with maple cashew cream.

You might also like: 

Sriracha Lime Tofu and Cauliflower Rice Bowl 

Sriracha Lime Tofu and Cauliflower Rice Bowl 

Multigrain Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Multigrain Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Multigrain Pancake Muffins 

Multigrain Pancake Muffins 

Raw Walnut Meat Tacos with Cashew Sour Cream

 Recreating a dish from one of my favorite local restaurants with these raw walnut meat tacos with cashew sour cream! 

Five years ago, when my now husband was offered a job outside Columbia, I wasn't exactly thrilled. Faced with the choice of spending more time in a long distance relationship or moving to a town commonly referred to as "the armpit of the south," it kinda felt like a lose-lose situation.

After living here five years, I have to say, Columbia isn't half bad - it's kind of grown on me! When we first moved here, there really wasn't much to do in the conservative capitol of SC other than go out for burgers or to a college bar. But over the only but over the past few years, Columbia has evolved tremendously, and we've discovered a few hidden gems - the best Thai restaurant outside of Thailand, a craft beer and growler store with all local brews, and we even got Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to join our Earth Fare and Fresh Market. Movin' on up!

I decided we officially made it when Good Life Cafe, a raw, vegan restaurant opened on Main Street. For realz. The city of burgers, pimento cheese and mediocre college football (couldn't help it!) now has a restaurant with items like cashew cheese, kelp noodles and eggplant bacon right smack dab in the middle of downtown. I did little happy dance when I first walked through the doors.

I've been there a few times, and everything has been amazing. But the raw vegan tacos are by far my favorite.

I know what you're thinking. Raw, vegan and taco are not three words you would expect to hear, or maybe want to hear in the same sentence. But hear me out. The filling, made from walnuts, is finely chopped into a ground beef texture and seasoned with all sorts of smoky spices. It's then drizzled in cashew nacho cheese, which y'all already know I'm a fan of. It's served with big scoops of guacamole and salsa on top of the crispiest raw tortilla shell, which I have no clue how to make so I used a regular tortilla (which isn't raw, but you know, I don't do raw food diets and/or labels).

I think you're going to fall in love with this nut meat (go ahead and giggle). The soy sauce, spices and sun-dried tomatoes give it a rich, smoky flavor and it really does taste surprisingly meaty!

Raw Tacos with Walnut Meat and Cashew Sour Cream

Serves 4

Ingredients

Sour Cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours in water, drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Walnut Meat:

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, soaked 2 hours in water, drained
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Dash cayenne
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Pico de Gallo:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 large yellow onion, finely minced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Tacos:

  • 8 small toasted corn tortillas or lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup prepared or homemade guacamole
  • Nut meat (see above)
  • Cashew sour cream (see above)
  • Pico de gallo (see above)

Instructions

  1. First, make the sour cream. In a food processor, blend the cashews with 1/4 cup water, apple cider vinegar and salt. If you like a thinner consistency, add another tablespoon or two of water. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Rinse out the food processor. Place the walnuts, soy sauce, sun dried tomatoes, spices, and minced garlic in the food processor and blend until it forms a crumbly, ground beef consistency. Be careful not to blend it too long or you'll get a very weird, savory nut butter! Season with salt and black pepper and set aside until ready to use.
  3. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the pico de gallo and season with salt to taste.
  4. Toast the tortillas over a low gas flame. Divide nut meat among the tortillas. Dollop with guacamole and cashew sour cream. Serve with pico on the side.

More meatless tacos:

Crispy Tofu Tacos

Crispy Tofu Tacos

Crispy Sriracha Lime Cauliflower Tacos 

Crispy Sriracha Lime Cauliflower Tacos 

Fried Avocado Tacos 

Fried Avocado Tacos 

Cashew Cheese Fries with Indian Spices

Indian spiced potato wedges or topped with a spicy cashew cheese for a vegan take on cheese fries! 

I know my vegetarian/vegan readers saw this title and got really excited, while everyone said to themselves "cashew cheese...what on Earth?!?"

If you've never heard of cashew cheese, let me assure you it's delicious. Afterall, this is a self appointed cheese connoisseur here. I wouldn't lie to you! No, it doesn't taste exactly like cheese, since it's made with cashews and all, but it lends the same rich, complex quality and creamy texture.

A basic recipe for cashew cheese calls for soaking cashews until soft, then blending them with a few other flavoring ingredients like nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic and spices. It's a much tastier and less processed option than soy cheese for anyone who doesn't eat dairy.

I saw a cashew plant for the first time when we went to Costa Rica. The nut grows from the bottom of a cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree. In the shell, it looks like a green kidney or some sort of weird appendage. Very odd looking I must say!

Here's a look at the health benefits of cashews:

Copper

With a days worth of copper in one ounce, cashews are one of the richest sources of this essential mineral. Copper is a component of many enzymes, including antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Inadequate copper intake has been associated with arthritis, colon cancer, osteoporosis, nerve damage and elevated LDL cholesterol.

Magnesium

Cashews are also a rich source of magnesium with 30% your daily needs in a quarter cup serving. Magnesium is often referred to as the relaxation mineral, a term I love. Most medical professionals are aware of this effect as it's used to relax an irregular heart beat or bowel muscles before a colonoscopy. Regular and adequate magnesium consumption has been linked to a lower risk of many diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and even insomnia.

It's easy to include cashews as a snack, tossed into an Asian slaw or mixed into a veggie stir fry with brown rice to round out the meal. But cashew cheese is now my favorite way to enjoy cashews. The rich, creamy blend can be incorporated into so many dishes! If you tried my dairy free macaroni and cheese you know how to incorporate them into a rich vegan sauce. 

Cashew Cheese Fries with Indian Spices

Serves 6

Cheese sauce adapted from Serious Eats, potatoes adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

Potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons mined fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons yellow or black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Scant teaspoon salt
  • 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch thick wedges or sticks

Cashew Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup water plus more to thin sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus 2-4 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. First preheat oven to 400 degrees F for the potatoes.
  2. In a small skillet, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic and jalapeno. Saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add mustard seeds and chilies and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tumeric, garam masala and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
  3. Place potatoes on a large baking sheet. Pour spice mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Place in the oven and bake until tender and browned, tossing every 10 minutes, for a total of about 40 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Heat coconut oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until tender, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin and tumeric, stir, and cook 1 minute. Add potato and cashews and stir to combine. Cook until cashews are lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add water and almond milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until potato is tender.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer cashew mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend until pureed. Add 2-4 tablespoons almond milk to thin to desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Serve potatoes topped with cashew cheese sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.