Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Salsa

Here’s a simple recipe that can be put together super fast for one of those days when you  have no idea what to have for dinner! This salsa is light and fresh with a spicy note from the cayenne pepper! For a dinner idea, enjoy it with whole wheat or gluten-free pasta with a drizzle of olive oil or mixed with cooked beans and topped with sauteed greens for a hearty dinner meal..or it’s perfect as a dip with crunchy crackers or tortilla’s.

  • 1 small jar canned artichokes, rinsed & drained (6.5 oz)
  • 1 jar roasted red bell peppers, rinsed & drained  (~12 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired texture is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If I hand cilantro on hand, it would be a great addition. If you prefer a milder salsa, decrease the amount of cayenne pepper or omit it all together.

Fermented Cashew Cheese

This dip/cheese is a perfect afternoon snack when you are looking for something flavorful and tasty! Cashews also supply a good amount of iron – a 1-ounce serving of raw cashews supplies 10% of the Daily Value for iron and the fermentation increases the bio-availability of several minerals (calcium, iron, zinc). This can also be made with almonds instead of cashews, which are just as high in minerals, as well as Vitamin E.

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 probiotic capsule (I used 50 billion)

In a vitamix, blender, or food processor, combine the soaked and drained cashews and probiotic capsule and mix together. Pour into a bowl, cover with a towel, and let it ferment overnight.
When the mixture is fermented, add seasonings and spices to your liking! I added the juice of one lemon, onion powder, garlic powder, a pinch of cumin and smoked paprika, and sea salt to taste. Enjoy! It goes delicious on gluten free crackers.

Fermented Bean Dip

  • 2 cups dried beans
  • 1 kombu strip
  • 2 ½ to 3 cups cooking liquid
  • ¼ of a red onion
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ cup fermenting liquid (see note below)

Soak 2 cups of dried beans in a large bowl covered with fresh water overnight. (I used cranberry beans but any bean would work.) In the morning, drain the beans. Put the beans in a large bowl or dish in which they have enough room. Allow the beans to sprout for 2 to 3 days. Each day, rinse and drain the beans.

When the beans are sprouted, cook them over low heat in pot of water with a kombu strip added until cooked through (they should be soft and tender).

When the beans are cooked, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid and kombu strip.  Add the beans and kombu strip to a high-powered blender along with 2 ½ cups of the cooking liquid. Puree until soft and beans are well blended (add more or less liquid as necessary). Then add in ¼ of a red onion, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Blend again until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the pureed mixture into a large bowl. Wait until the pureed beans cool and then add your fermented liquid. I used sauerkraut juice from Bubbies Sauerkraut. Allow the mixture to sit out for 2 to 4 days. The end result should have a tangy taste, it’s hard to describe. Taste it each day so you can tell the difference as it becomes fermented.

The dip is great with fresh veggies (use it as you would hummus) or mixed with a grain of your choice. You can also spread some on top of a tortilla topped with veggies and roll it up for a healthy vegetarian sandwich.

Fermenting liquid: Any liquid that is fermented will work. I happened to have sauerkraut juice in my fridge that I used. Whey strained from yogurt or even just yogurt would work as well or a probiotic capsule should work. If you have any question, let me know.

Benefits of Fermenting

Cauliflower

Lately, cauliflower has been my favorite vegetable. It’s extremely versatile, as I enjoy it raw dipped in hummus, freshly steamed, roasted with Indian spices, or pureed into numerous soups to provide thickness and a creamy, velvety texture!

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that provides plenty of vitamin C, in addition to vitamin K, B vitamins, and fiber, while also beneficial in detox support. With its numerous vitamins and minerals providing anti-inflammtory benefits, it’s a wonderful addition to your diet.

Raw Cauliflower & Green Pea Dip

I didn’t measure these ingredients but here is a rough estimate and feel free to experiment with the ingredients and seasonings to suit your needs!

1 cup green peas, thawed
1 clove garlic
Onion (about a 1/4 cup chopped)
3-4 medium size pieces of raw cauliflower
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Dill to taste
Water (about a 1/4 cup or so)

Combine the ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender and puree until desired thickness. Enjoy!

Spring is in the Air

Spring is my favorite time of year; fresh flowers emerging from the soil, more people are out walking around, and fresh veggies at the store. I wait all year for asparagus to hit the grocery stores. That’s when I know spring is coming…that and I love seeing daffodils and crocuses pop up from the soil. These little flowers are the sunshine on a cloudy, overcast, or rainy day. What do you love most about spring? or What are some of your favorite spring fruits/veggies?

I picked up some fresh basil from the store and created a simple green pea dip. It has a bit of sweetness from the peas with a hint of the basil. I enjoyed it warm but I’m sure it would taste just as good chilled.

Basil Green Pea Dip

Basil is high in flavonoids and is a good source of calcium and iron, vitamin C and potassium. In addition, the essential oils from basil are anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory benefiting those with inflammatory conditions. Green peas provide protein and fiber, along with vitamins A, K, C, various B vitamins, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Interestingly, I was reading that 1 cup of green peas provides roughly 30 mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fatty acid that helps to reduce inflammation and is beneficial for the heart.

  • 2 cups green peas, frozen
  • ½ cup water
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • Salt, pepper to taste

In a small pan, heat green peas with the 1/2 cup water over low heat for a few minutes to defrost peas. When peas are soft, add to blender along with remaining ingredients, except miso. Blend until all ingredients are all mixed together.

If dip is not too hot, add in the miso and re-blend (the beneficial cultures in miso will be destroyed if the dip is too hot…if you burn your tongue, the dip is too hot). I had to let my mixture cool a bit before I added the miso because I let my peas come to a boil but you can blend ingredients right after the peas become soft or defrost your peas first and skip heating them). Taste and add salt and pepper as you desire.

Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy!

Sweet & Creamy Cashew Dip

Pumpkin seeds, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds…there are so many different kinds of nuts and/or seeds to enjoy daily. They make a great snack during the mid-afternoon when you’re looking for something crunchy or salty. Overall, they are a good source of protein, many minerals (magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc), and healthy fats.

I have been particularly enjoying cashews lately. Added on top of salads, mixed in with a pilaf, they seem to fit in with either salty or sweet dishes. They can be roasted in the oven with various spices (cumin, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt) or blended into a creamy dip for a sweeter flavor. Below is a recipe I created for these versatile nuts that tastes great paired with fresh fruit or can be used as a light frosting.

Sweet & Creamy Cashew Dip

Cashews are one of the highest nuts containing iron, along with providing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. The mildly sweet flavor of the cashews combined with the sweetness of dried figs creates a tasty dip to pair with fresh fruit such as apples or pears or as a topping for muffins or scones.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 dried Turkish figs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt

Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and puree until all ingredients are combined and the texture is smooth and creamy.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 1 ½ cups

Copyright 2011, J. Usdavin, Original recipe.

Cheesy Bean Dip

Here is a nutrient dense recipe with plenty of protein to keep you satisfied all day. Pinto beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber to keep your blood sugar stable, while nutritional yeast adds additional protein, fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals, especially the B-vitamins. Many people enjoy it over popcorn, as it imparts a salty and cheesy taste and use it as a replacement for cheese in recipes. Try a sprinkle over your favorite pasta, lightly steamed vegetables, or on top of your favorite homemade pizza.

Cheesy Bean Dip

  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons chickpea miso dissolved in ¾ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a Vita Mix blender or another high powered blender. Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Serve with crudités, spread on your favorite crackers, or as a dressing for your salad.