Eating plant-based foods has made almost every top food trend list for 2016. Even fast food restaurants like Taco Bell are adding vegan options to accommodate the demand for plant-based meals.
The market for non-dairy products is skyrocketing; meat alternatives sales are expected to reach $5 billion by 2020, and more than 1/3 of consumers are open to plant-based products according to the 2016 Global Food and Drink Trends report from Mintel.
This is great for health conscious eaters as well as for vegans. Vegetables are vying for stardom while meat appears to be taking more of a backseat. This change is creating a demand for more plant-based recipes for the home cook, which Chef Yvonne Ardestani understands.
I recently heard Chef Yvonne speak about her vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free recipes from her My Eclectic Kitchen App.
My Eclectic Kitchen is a recipe App with 158 plant-based and gluten-free recipes. The app is easy to navigate and the beautiful photos inspire you to create them. This App is not just for vegans and gluten-free dieters, but also for those who want to eat plant-based without compromising flavor.
App available in App Store and Google Play.
I tasted a sampling of Chef Yvonne’s exciting food at a Melissa’s Produce media luncheon.
We sampled her “Meat”loaf with a traditional glaze, Simple Massaged Kale Salad, Cranberry Dill “Goat Cheese” with Snacker Crackers, Quinoa “Meat”balls & Garlicky Cauliflower Puree.
I personally think any hard-core carnivore would not have missed meat with this wonderful plant-based selection.
The “Meat”loaf looks like real meat with the combination of quinoa, walnuts, mushrooms replicating the hearty flavor and texture of your mom’s best meatloaf.
For dessert, we indulged ourselves with this creamy Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with a berry compote topping. Nobody would guess it is dairy-free, gluten-free & raw.
I am really enjoying exploring Chef Yvonne’s app as I am learning more about vegan cooking.
This vegan version of goat cheese is a perfect for entertaining.
Because this looks so much like real cheese please check with your guests first to make sure no one has nut allergies. It takes a couple of days to complete the cheese, so start in advance.
Cranberry-Dill Vegan “Goat Cheese”
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
4 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini, optional
2 tablespoons filtered water
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
1. Place cashews in a large bowl and cover with 3 inches of filtered water to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Drain liquid, rinse under cold water and drain again.
3. In the blender or food processor, combine and pulverize the cashews, oil, lemon juice, sea salt and 2 tablespoons filtered water. Blend until creamy, taking breaks to scrape the sides of the blender with a silicone spatula to ensure everything gets creamed.
4. Place a strainer over a bowl and line it with 3 layers of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into the center of cheesecloth, fold sides of the cloth over the cheese and form into a 6-inch spherical loaf. Twist the ends of the cloth and secure with rubber bands or twist ties. Set in the strainer over a bowl and let it stand for 12 hours at room temperature.
5. Discard excess water and chill for at least 3 hours.
6. Chop cranberries and dill.
7. Unwrap the cheese and place into a bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of dill into the bowl and mix to combine.
8. On a 12′X12″ piece of parchment or wax paper, place the cheese horizontally in the center to form a log. Use the paper to roll the log neatly into about a 6-inch log.
9. Combine cranberry and remaining dill in a bowl. Sprinkle onto the cheese log, using the paper to roll the log, ensuring the cranberry and dill adhere to the cheese.
10. Chill the cheese log, or enjoy right away with a cracker
The Snacker Crackers almost didn’t get served to my guests as I ate most of them right out of the oven. Yvonne says the crackers keep for one week. Personally, I wouldn’t know as they were all gone in 24 hours.
1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup filtered water
⅓ cup unhulled sesame seeds and/or black sesame seeds
1 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or tamari)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1½ tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
½ teaspoon parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1. Cook quinoa. In a small sauce pot, add ¾ cup quinoa and 1½ cups filtered water. Cover the pot and place it over medium heat. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then turn down the heat to low, and simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Once the quinoa is cooked, remove it from heat and allow it to cool. While it cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Place flax seeds in a bowl and cover with ¼ cup of filtered water. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to soak. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
4. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds (if not already toasted) until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Measure one cup of the cooked and cooled quinoa. In a food processor, blend together 1 cup of the quinoa, almond flour, coconut aminos, coconut sugar, coconut oil, soaked flax seeds, chives, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and sea salt. Process until a dough is formed. It should form into a ball. If it does not come together, add more filtered water, one tablespoon at a time. Add sesame seeds and pulse to incorporate. The dough should be very sticky at this point. Place in a medium-large bowl.
6. Add pumpkin seeds and walnuts. With clean hands, mix to incorporate. Season to taste.
7. Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough evenly with a rolling pin to achieve a very thin, even slab. Remove the top layer of the parchment. Using a knife, score the dough into desired shapes.
8. Slide the parchment paper onto a half sheet pan and place it in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees so as to not overly brown the crackers. Bake for 10-15 more minutes or until crisp and golden.
9. When the crackers are done, remove them from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes.
10. Break the crackers along score lines, and let them cool completely. Store them in an airtight container.
Note: If crackers bake unevenly, meaning some crackers are crispy and others are not, place the uncooked ones back on the half sheet pan and in the oven until entirely dry.
11. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Makes 40-45 crackers.
This was the perfect appetizer to take to the Hollywood Bowl. My guests appreciated a healthy option at our picnic.
Whether you are vegan or want to incorporate plant-based foods into your diet, My Eclectic Kitchen app is a very useful tool. The recipes are lively and colorful, and for those carnivores out there who are leaning more towards plants, this app has lots for you too.
…and then, she paused for thought.