Game Changer: Fat-Free Onion Cream

One of the most difficult parts of transitioning to a low-fat whole-food plant-based diet is trying to figure out sauces and dressings that don’t involve oil. Tahini and hummus take on a much bigger role in salads than ever before. When I found this onion cream at Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, I fell in love and  had to share it.

This recipe uses only three ingredients: onions, lemon juice and a little salt. I used plain old yellow onions, but I suppose it would work with other kinds. The process is simple too – all you need is an oven and a blender.  The end result is a savoury and bright cream sauce that you can use in countless ways: mix into soups or stews, stir into a risotto or pasta sauce, use as a base for oil-free salad dressings and dips, or use instead of hummus or mayo in wraps and sandwiches. I even top my baked potato with it. I could eat it from the jar with a spoon, I love it so much!

2 tablespoons contain approximately 22 calories.

The recipe makes enough to almost fill a 500 ml mason jar, which will keep in the fridge for at least a week. It won’t last that long. 

Recipe for Fat-Free Onion Cream may be found at Susan Voisin’s Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen. 

Crispy oil-free potato chips in 3-5 minutes

What do some of us miss when switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet with no processed food and no oil?

Potato Chips.

I was gob-smacked to discover that you can make crispy chips in the microwave in about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how powerful the oven is and…it is the easiest thing ever.

THE POTATOES

I have been experimenting with Russets, Yukon Gold and red potatoes. While some people say Russets are the way to go, I found the Yukon Gold crunched up a lot better. I think your mileage may vary on this one depending on your oven and it’s probably best (and fun!) to test all varieties. I plan to try sweet potatoes next.

TECHNIQUE

The scrubbed potatoes do not need to be peeled, but they do need to be sliced very thinly. I use a mandolin (very carefully – these things are SHARP – use the safety holder). If you don’t have a mandolin, just use a sharp knife to slice your potatoes as thinly as possible. 

Place the cut slices in a bowl of cold water to rinse off the starch. 

Meanwhile put a sheet of parchment paper on a microwavable dinner plate 

Take out enough of the potato slices from the water to put on the plate.  Dry them  first between tea towels or paper towels.

Lay the potato slices on the parchment on the plate not touching one another. I did it this way, but found the slice in the very middle of the plate burns, so you may wish to leave that empty.

Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes, watching closely. Stop the microwave when they are lightly browned. It’s quick.  You have to pay attention – don’t walk away!

FLAVOURS

It’s best to toss the raw potato slices with spices after you dry them, but before you lay them on the plate. You can use the following or experiment with any flavour profile you like:

 

  • salt
  • paprika and garlic
  • chili powder
  • barbecue spices

Crunch and enjoy!

 

 

Tofu Scramble – Easiest way to mimic scrambled eggs in the plant-based diet

I was never a huge fan of tofu. Now that I’ve been preparing it in different and more varied recipes, I’ve come to respect its versatility and how it can transform itself from soup to stir-fry to dessert. 1 cup of firm tofu has only 94 calories, a whopping 10 g of protein, 227 mg of calcium, 1.82 mg of iron and only 5 g of fat.

Tofu has the starring role in this dish, the plant-based version of scrambled eggs.  It’s quick. It’s simple. The trick here is to use black Himalayan salt. Kala namak is a kiln-fired rock salt used in South Asia and its sulphurous, pungent-smell stands in quite nicely for eggs.  It’s available on Amazon if you don’t have an international grocer nearby. This is a simple “base” recipe, which may be modified by adding different flavour profiles as outlined below.

Basic Tofu Scramble

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Breakfast
Servings 4
Calories 210 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegan butter For oil-free version, sauté in water
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp black Himalayan salt (Kala Namak Salt)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 scallions, diced

Instructions
 

  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high
  • Add olive oil or butter to pan (or water by the tablespoon if omitting oil)
  • Start by sautéing onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Don't let the garlic get too brown or it will taste bitter.
  • Crumble the block of tofu into the skillet
  • Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt and paprika
  • Gently mix the spices into the tofu using a wooden spoon until everything is blended and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes or so
  • Fold in the diced scallions in the last minute of cooking

Variations on a Theme – just add the following ingredients to the basic scramble for a whole new breakfast experience. Experiment! Have fun!

Italian scramble

Add 1 tsp oregano, 10 halved cherry tomatoes, diced small green pepper, 4 sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with freshly chopped basil

Tex-Mex scramble

Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 cup black beans, 1 diced red or green pepper, 2 large mushrooms, sliced, 1 finely diced jalapeño pepper. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro –  Serve with a little hot salsa. You can even wrap this into a tortilla for a breakfast burrito

Spanish scramble

Add 1 large cooked potato, diced to skillet with onions and garlic. Add 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, diced red pepper, 4 sliced mushrooms and a handful of baby spinach leaves. Sprinkle with parsley.

Caribbean scramble

Add 1 cooked sweet potato, diced, 1 cup very thinly-sliced collard greens (matchstick size) to skillet with onions and garlic. Add 1/4 tsp  allspice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon,  dash of hot sauce.

 

In honour of Veganuary, Collard Veggie Wraps

For those trying out plant-based eating for Veganuary, here’s a quick and easy whole-food plant-based lunch – no tortilla required! Loaded with fibre and phytonutrients to help prevent disease and promote good health.

The trick for healthy eating is to stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables. When the urge strikes, you open your fridge and feel virtuous and inspired and have enough ingredients to make colourful and healthy meals and snacks.

1) Wash two large collard green leaves, dry and cut off the thickest part of the stem beneath the leafy part. Lay these flat.
2) Smooth about 1 tbsp hummus on the light green portion of each leaf as the base
3) Next layer a little arugula (or spring mix or chopped lettuce) on each leaf
4) Top with your favourite sliced vegetables. Here I’ve used red cabbage, red and orange grape tomatoes, green onion and sliced cucumber. Other options might be bell pepper strips, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts or slices of avocado.
5) If you enjoy them, sprinkle some fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or cilantro on top
6) Fold short edges, and roll up the leaves into a wrap. Then cut each roll in half and enjoy!

Note, if you overstuff your collard leaves and can’t roll them, just fold as best you can and eat taco-style…over a plate…with a few napkins handy. They can be messy, but delicious!