Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cashew "Cheese" Dip

Move over Velveeta we've gotta a healthier version of your cheese dip; just in time for Super Bowl. This dip is so addicting, you might need to double the recipe if you're having company. 

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cashew Cheese Dip is my new favorite appetizer. Not only is it inexpensive and easy to make, it also tastes like cheese dip. No saturated animal fats or fake ingredients. Its smokey roasted flavors make it unique and delicious. 

roasted red pepper cheese dip | dairy-free vegan | #purekitchen #puremamas
roasted red bell pepper cashew "cheese" dip | you'll never know there's not cheese! #purektichen #purekitchenblog

This roasted red bell pepper cheese sauce is not only good as a dip it can also be used as a cheese in lasagna or as a cream sauce for spaghetti. The recipe calls for only a few ingredients. At my house this is a staple sauce but I play around with the flavors to mix things up a bit. 

Smokey Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cashew Cheese Dip. Wow that's a mouthful! Nobody will every know it's dairy-free | vegan gf | #puremamas #purekitchen

Have you ever made a cashew cheese sauce before? If not then start here - all it takes is a few healthy ingredients and a quick blend in the blender and voila...you're all set. Impress (or trick, rather) your friends at your next Superbowl party! 

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cashew Cheese Dip | vegan gf dairy-free | #puremamas #purekitchen

Roasted Red Bell Pepper "Cheese" Dip

yields 10 ounces

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper 
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 squirt hot sauce like sriracha or dried chili peppers
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke 

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a high speed blender add all of the ingredients. Blend until super duper creamy. 
  2. If you don't not have a high speed blender like a Vitamix, you will have to soak the cashews for at least an hour before making the cheese dip. 
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cashew Cheese Dip | dairy free vegan | #puremamas

My Vegan Pantry & Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

It's been quite some time since I put together a pantry basics blog post. Grocery store shelves have changed over the years - for the better - so I thought I would post an updated list of some items that I keep on hand at all times. 

plant-based pantry basics & must-haves

Having these items on hand will bring you a ton of healthy meal combinations. These are just basics to add flavor and boosts to your other fruits and veggies. Obviously you need more than what is here - like tons more produce - for a balanced diet. But I have done pantry basic posts in the past that include things like avocados, lemons, sea salt, frozen bananas, and protein powders. 

As most of you know I follow a plant-based diet. I'm also vegan. I do think of those two things as not completely synonymous. Vegans care about animal rights/cruelty and the planet/environment. Vegans live a lifestyle that supports their cause and the changes they would like to see in the world. But you can have unhealthy vegans just like you can have healthy meat eaters. Veganism for me isn't as much of a diet as say eating plant-based. A plant-based diet to me is super clean, low in bad fats, high in fiber and fresh foods; it focuses more on the plants not as much on the foods that "contain no animal products" (i.e. oreos for example are vegan believe it or not but they aren't part of a whole foods plant based diet) if that makes sense.

Of course cheat foods are fine. I eat vegan donuts from time to time. But animal products like high fat meat and dairy contribute to disease - point blank - they also contribute to the destruction of our environment (enter veganism).

There are so many stories of disease reversal (and people going off their meds completely) by switching to this type of plant-heavy eating. I know countless people that made the switch for heart reasons, cancer purposes and diabetes. So for me, it's an ethical lifestyle and also a heart healthy healing way to eat and live. 

When first making the transition it can be challenging to continually make delicious meals that fill you up and taste amazing. I have tried almost every vegan food and condiment and here is a list of what I currently love to have on hand. Hope this helps. 

1. The Lotus ramen noodles, for example, are so versatile and kids love them as well as adults. You can make ramen soup (great for cold winter days) or you can cook them in a pan for a hearty, garlicy chewy noodle dish. Add veggies to them or even tofu for a complete meal. Eat with a salad for an boost of minerals, antioxidants and fiber. 

2. The red leaf lettuce and kale you see create my favorite salad combo. I like to combine these two greens (one is dense and one is leafy and airy) and eat them at almost every meal. Add it to pasta, on toast, with your ramen noodles, eat it alone as a salad with added garbanzo beans, etc. They are both always in my fridge. 

3. Garbanzo beans are my go-to for added boosts of protein in salads or in pasta or eaten alone. Keep them on hand. I like to buy the cold ones - store them in the fridge - ready to grab and go. No can openers needed. Speaking of garbanzo beans, have you seen all the cereals now made from beans? And of course the pastas too! We love love the Love Grown brand. There are lots of different flavors

4. Almonds are on here because they should always be in the pantry. They last a long time. So stock up and keep them on hand. You can make your own almond milk on demand. My kids ran out of their favorite store-bought almond milk the other day and so I just whipped up some of my homemade stuff so they could eat their favorite cereal. No need to rush to the store when you're out of milk. You can also make almond flour or almond butter at home in a pinch. Trader Joes sells raw nuts for at great price. 

5. Spike seasoning is another favorite. It's so old school but still so current - the herbs combination makes any vegetable taste delicious. You don't even have to add salt because the flavors are so great. 

6. Keep vanilla extra or vanilla bean paste on hand. You don't have to sweeten your almond milk, your chia pudding or even muffins and cookies as much if you add vanilla bean. It's a calorie-free, sugar-free, fat-free flavor enhancer. 

7. I try to cook without oil as much as possible. Ideally I would like a low-fat diet, but when I bake my vegetables or cook my noodles and tofu, I just love a good healthy fat to do that. Miyokos plant-based butter has seriously changed my life. It's basically cultured coconut oil (so it's obviously not low in saturated) and tastes amazing. Trader Joes sells it. 

8. Speaking of fat, Ripple has also changed the half & half game. Their half & half is unbelievably good. I use it in all kids of recipes. Check out my roasted red pepper pasta sauce that I featured on Instagram, it's creamy because of the Miyokos butter and this half & half. You don't get a weird after taste from it nor is it sweet like many plant-based creamers/creams tend to be. Try it in your coffee as well; you'll thank me. Target sells it!!!

9. Gluten-free oats are really crucial to a plant-based diet. They make a perfect breakfast (heat them up with some plant-based milk, add some of that vegan butter, vanilla bean and a touch of sweeter and berries). Or have you ever made overnight oats? Or you can add some dates and coconut to make a raw granola/muesli  - eat it with bananas and almond milk or with the Kite Hill yogurt. My Raw Vegan ebook contains breakfast recipes using gluten-free oats. Kite Hill and Forager make great yogurt alternatives. Try the plain flavors, you'll be shocked at how great they are and you can use them in any recipe that calls for plain yogurt! I'm definitely obsessed because yogurt isn't one of the things I love to make everyday. 

10. Turmeric is a spice that I love to keep around so I can whip up golden lattes. It's also an immunity booster and anti-inflammatory. Use it on vegetables when baking or in slow cooker dishes like curries or Indian style dishes. 

11. Nutritional yeast is something I use almost everyday (maybe 4-5 times a week). It's a great source of b12 (fortified) and adds a cheesy and nutty flavor to my sauces. You can even add toasted cashews and nutritional yeast to a blender and make a parmesan cheese type of seasoning. Have you tried my simple raw vegan tomato sauce? It uses nutritional yeast. So does my Queso Cheese dip. 

12. Has anybody heard of Brami bean snacks? Lupine beans (which is what Brami is) are high in plant-based protein, low in fat and fiber. For every 100 calories you get 13.4 grams of protein. Can you believe it? That's more than lentils and soy beans. At first they seem slimy and maybe unappetizing, but trust me, they are actually extremely addicting. Great emergency snack to keep in the car (you don't have to refrigerate them until you open them). 

13. Chia seeds don't go bad either. Keep them on hand for your overnight oats recipe and or make a good chia pudding (my go-to recipe below). Chia pudding, when made right, is to-die-for! Not only that but it's really satisfying and healthy for you. Chia seed jam is a game changer as well, have you tried that recipe yet?

14. Last but not least I use veganaise, tamari and sriracha type chili seasonings all the time. I pan fry mushrooms, tofu and tempeh in tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and I make great dipping sauces with it. Vegan mayo isn't just for sandwiches, you can add it to cold potato, garbanzo and tofu salads or make creamy ranch or caesar dressings. Put it in your grilled cheese or savory wraps. Just a squirt or small spoonful of sriracha chili sauce adds a wonderful heat and spice to any sauce. Too much also makes dishes super spicy - which some people love. If you don't love overly spicy food just add a small amount for flavor. 

15. Manna Bread - this is a game changer! You'll love this sprouted low temperature cooked bread. It is so healthy, tastes nothing like processed bread. It almost feels like its healing the body as you eat it. Try it for lunch or breakfast. I have a bunch of recipes in my raw vegan ebook using manna bread. Grains should be apart of everybody's healthy diet if you ask me and this bread offers the perfect most easily digestible form of grains. 

16. Beyond Meat Chicken Strips. I'm sure you've all heard about Beyond Meat. They are making major waves in the food industry. I'm super impressed and always keep a bag of the frozen grilled chicken (vegan of course) strips on hand. They heat up really quickly in a pan and go well with any dish that needs some extra protein. I put it on salads, with rice or even in pasta. You can find it at almost any market - including Vons - these days. Amazon has them as well and the price is right! 

Chia Seed Pudding | Delicious, simple & vegan | #puremamas #purekitchenblog
Chia Seed Pudding Recipe | Delicious & Simple | Vegan & Gluten-free | #puremamas #purekitchenblog

Delicious Vegan Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Chia seed pudding | delicious and vegan! #purekitchenblog #puremamas
  • 2 cups fresh almond milk 
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean or extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or coconut sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine everything in a tupperware or airtight jar with a lid. 
  2. Store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving. Preferably overnight. 
  3. Serve cold with fruit or other healthy toppings. 

Homemade Macadamia Nut Cheese {Ricotta Style}

Homemade fermented cheese? That sounds really labor intensive and super complicated, right? Well not exactly. Think of it as an art and the result is well worth the time spent making it. 

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You can use any nut you prefer. I personally love this recipe made with macadamia nuts. It's a perfect basic recipe that can be played around with. Try adding herbs or spices or garlic. You can use this homemade vegan cheese for pizza nights or in lasagna (like I did). You can stuff raviolis or use it in my baked butternut squash pasta recipe. with it or even eat it as a dip with crackers or veggies. Did you see my crumbled tempeh salad a few weeks ago? To die for! 

ricottacheeserecipe.jpg

As far as equipment goes - all you need is a high speed blender, a strainer and cheese cloth plus a little bit of patience and love

If you signed up for my newsletter in the past 3 months you would have gotten this recipe in your inbox. It went out early to those that signed up. 

If you did in fact make it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it and all your variations. 

How to make Vegan Ricotta Cheese at home! #plantbasedcheese #purekitchenblog
Homemade Macadamia Nut Ricotta style Cheese. #plantbasednutrition #purekitchenblog

This Ricotta Style Vegan cheese is both fluffy and creamy at the same time. Rich in nutrients and flavor, it's a must try recipe. Adding the probiotics helps the cheese to ferment and also makes the cheese rich in good bacteria - like the other store-bought yogurt or cheese. 

I prefer this recipe to any of the cheeses I can buy on the shelves. No strange additives or binding agents or rennet (enzymes added to cheese) or casein. 

Herbed Macadamia Nut Ricotta Cheese #plantbasedcheese #purekitchenblog

Macadamia Nut Ricotta Cheese Recipe

yields approx 2 cups cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts (soaked overnight & drained)
  • 3/4 cup fresh water
  • 1 Tbsp (half a lemon) lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 capsules probiotic powder supplement

Directions

  1. In a high speed blender, blend just the nuts and the water.
  2. Blend until super creamy with no chunks. 
  3. Transfer mixture from blender to a strainer lined with cheese cloth over a bowl. (see photos)
  4. Add the probiotics, salt salt and lemon. Fold the mixture a few times to combine. 
  5. Place the bowl with strainer and nut mixture someplace in the house at room temperature away from kids and dust and open windows. The mixture will sort of ferment or culture during this time. 
  6. You will want it to sit for at least 8 hours or overnight. 
  7. Refrigerate mixture when it's done fermenting.  
  8. Use this cheese as you wish. 
How To Make Homemade Ricotta Style Vegan Cheese #plantbased #purekitchenblog

Don't forget to share your thoughts or question in the comments below. Feel free to share on Instagram if you do in fact make a recipe. Please hashtag #purekitchenblog or tag @purekitchenblog and follow me for so many recipes and photos that I don't share on my blog - for whatever reason.  

Butternut Squash {vegan} Baked Pasta Dish

I have made this 3 times this week. Ha. Once for work and then again because it was so tasty and easy to make. 

The first dish I started with was a butternut squash lasagna and then ended up as just a simple baked pasta. I'm definitely tired of the same old tomato sauce pasta that I make almost every week. It's really really good but I wanted something more festive for the Fall. 

Butternut Squash (vegan) Baked Pasta Recipe | gluten-free | plant-based

The sauce is creamy and naturally sweet. Best of all it's so easy to make. The most difficult part of this recipe is the homemade cheese and even that is a) not hard to make and b) you don't even need it. Instead you can buy some vegan ricotta or you can use real ricotta if you're not vegan. 

Butternut Squash (vegan) Baked Pasta Recipe | gluten-free | plant-based

The amount of vegetables in this dish makes it really healthy. It's not just a bowl of cheese and noodles. You can play around with the veggies in the dish as well. I subbed the zucchini one time for frozen cauliflower. And it turned out awesome. 

Onion

Butternut squash 

Zucchini

Spinach

Corn 

Brown rice 

Cashews

That's a lot of produce and plants right there. 

I'm excited to share with you this video I created - demonstrating how to make this dish from start to finish. If you like it, subscribe to my channel and stay tuned for more of these tutorials. I am going to do a few a month.  

Butternut Squash Baked Pasta Recipe

Serves 4 main dishes or 6 side dishes

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SAUCE INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups butternut squashed (skinned, seeded and cut into cubes)
  • 2 cups yellow onion (skin removed and cut into large chunks)
  • 2 Tbls vegan butter
  • 1/2-3/4 cup (8 oz) vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream 
  • 2 cloves raw garlic

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut open the butternut squash, cut off the thick skin and remove all the seeds. Cut remaining squash into large cubes. 
  3. Cut the onion in half. Remove the thin skin. Cut up into large chunks. 
  4. On a cookie sheet spread the butter around evenly. Place the raw chopped veggies on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt. 
  5. Cook for 25 minutes. Check on the veggies from time to time because the onion can burn if you slice it to thin. Remember to keep the chunks large. 
  6. Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to a high speed blender. Add then add the cooked veggies. 
  7. Blend on high until completely smooth and looks like a thick creamy sauce. You might need to add a tad more liquid (veg broth) depending on the desired thickness of the sauce. Remove and set aside.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BAKED PASTA INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 bag (8oz) of your favorite gluten-free pasta. I used Tinkyada shells
  • 1 cup frozen corn or fresh 
  • 1 zucchini thinly sliced or cut with a mandolin or peeler
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Butternut squash pasta sauce (recipe above)
  • 2 cups Vegan Queso sauce or fresh vegan ricotta (or even real ricotta cheese if you're not vegan)
  • fresh sage or thyme
  • pinch of sea salt and pepper for 
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if you just made the butternut squash sauce, keep the oven on after you bake the squash and onion).
  2. In a baking dish of choice, layer about 3/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Add pasta shells. 
  3. Top the shells with veggies. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. 
  4. Add your cheese or cheese sauce on top of that. And add more of your veggies. Keep repeating steps 2-4 until you're out of noodles and out of sauce.
  5. Pour 1/2 cup water or veggie broth on the top of the baking dish before you cook it. 
  6. The only important rule here is that you cover the noodles completely in sauce. Don't leave dry noodles exposed.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. The sides of the dish will start to brown when it is done baking. Test to be sure noodles are fully cooked before you let it cool and serve.  
Butternut Squash (vegan) Baked Pasta Recipe | gluten-free | plant-based

Pregnancy + fresh lettuce tacos + mac and cheese

Check out my post about pregnancy cravings and foods where I also share my fresh lettuce cup taco lunch recipe

Click on over to PUREmamas section of the blog to get the recipe and the story. 

Also, if you didn't get a chance yet to see my vegan creamy shells + cheese recipe, it's not too late...read more about it over at the Honest Company blog. This recipe is creamy, "cheesy" and really hits the spot when it comes to mac-and-cheese cravings. However, this unique recipe is dairy-free. Yep, that's right, dairy free mac and cheese recipe. Mmmmmmmm.