A world without Nutella is a very sad one. At least for me anyway. As I moved to plant-based eating, I decided I needed to find a recipe for vegan Nutella. It is a creamy smooth chocolate hazelnut spread you can put on bread or pancakes or dip fruit into it usually has milk and processed sugar. A main part of plant-based eating is removing processed foods including sugar and grains.
Vegan Hazelnut Spread
After some searching, I found a recipe for vegan hazelnut spread. While it is only five ingredients, there is some work to take place. You’ll need raw unsalted hazelnuts, vanilla extract, sea salt, dairy-free dark chocolate or a cacao powder, and pure maple syrup. And a good blender or food processor to blend it all together.
There are some keys to making this yummy spread. One is to roast the hazelnuts. Even if you purchase roasted hazelnuts, re-roasting will warm the natural oils and loosen the skins. And a sturdy towel to remove as much of the skins as possible. That will make a creamy spread. Chocolate is another important element. Chose quality chocolate or cacao powder to make your spread. There will be a sticker shock when you purchase quality cacao powder. I use Trader Joe’s 72% Dark Chocolate bar.
In making this vegan Nutella, you can customize it to your taste. It is all natural without stabilizers so stirring is a must. It is perfect to put on homemade bread.
- - 3 cups raw unsalted hazelnuts
- - 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
- - 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- - 2/3 cup dairy-free dark chocolate
- - 1 or 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350F or 176C.
- 2. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. For raw, roast for 12-15 minutes. If already roasted then roast for 8-10 minutes.
- 3. Remove tray from oven and cool slightly.
- 4. Transfer hazelnuts to towel and roll the nuts around getting as much skins off as possible.
- 5. Put the skinless hazelnuts in the food processor blending until a butter forms after 8-10 minutes.
- 6. While the butter is blending, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments.
- 7. When the butter is creamy and smooth then add the vanilla and salt blending well.
- 8. Based on taste, you can adjust the seasoning and add 1 or 2 tablespoon maple syrup.
- 9. Transfer to a clean jar and store at room temperature. It will keep for 2-3 weeks.
The slow cooker has saved the day many times over the past three months. Slow Cooker Chickpea Butternut Squash Curry has been to the rescue a couple times one. I kept buying butternut squash saying I’m going to make x or y, but then it just sits there in the fridge with the great potential to end up in the compost bin. It is a simple and quick recipe to throw in the slow cooker then forget about it until you need to make the rice or heat the naan.
Now back to my slow cooker saving the day. This year has flown by and I have been on it by the seat of my pants. Between managing a busy family, working at the lighthouse foundation, servicing my public relations clients, attending graduate school, and launching a new business, let’s just say cooking hasn’t been top of my action list. We are attempting to eat well while adding plant-based meals without resorting to pizza or Chinese delivery. And we have done that more than we would like to admit since September. The slow cooker provided us with hot wholesome meals after long days.
This recipe is made with simple ingredients, but packs a lot of flavor. It isn’t spicy nor sweet. Just a nice balance of flavors. Add rice or naan to round it out. I buy the pre-cut butternut squash. I have no patience to peel then cut one up so I do the pre-cut.
If you are looking to add more plant-based meals to your diet then this is a good one to start with since it is so flavorful.
Slow Cooker Chickpea Butternut Squash Curry
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
- 2 T curry powder
- 1 T minced garlic
- 2T grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 14.5 oz can chickpeas, drained
- 1 small butternut squash (about 2.5-3 lb), peeled and diced or sweet potato
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine all ingredients except for cilantro in the slow cooker
- Cover and set to LOW
- Cook 8 hours
- Add chopped fresh cilantro
- Serve over rice
Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad
For the past two weeks, it has been hot here in Newport. Our house doesn’t have air conditioning – units or central – it can get pretty toasty. Not a pleasurable environment to cook anything, but we still have to eat. This is a super simple tasty summer meal. Or nice side to chicken or fish.
I have a Phillips Air Flyer. It makes french fries, baked potatoes, chicken, and donuts. Today, I decided to see if I could roast veg in it. I didn’t want to turn the oven onto 400 and roast for 30-40 minutes. The kitchen was already 86 degrees so adding to the heat doesn’t seem ideal. I chopped up peeled sweet potatoes, carrots, and red onion then combined them with some oil olive and a pinch of chili flakes. Preheat the Air Fryer at 360 or 375 depending on your Air Flyer running it for 10 minutes. Add the veg into the basket. Cook for 10min, shake, then another 5-10min. An air flyer is a worthy investment. Fried foods without the fat and mess.
Let’s talk about lentils. My pantry is stocked with a few different types of lentils such as brown, yellow, and French. This recipe calls for French lentils which can be hard to find. Some grocery stores s stock them, but your best bet is a health food store where they have self-serve bins of beans and lentils. That’s where I found the French lentils was at my local A Mart which is a regional well-stocked natural food store in Newport.
To cook lentils, weight what you need out, rinse, then put in a saucepan. Add the lentils, a bay leaf, salt, and water making sure it covers the lentils. Put on the stove with the lid on high for about 20-30 minutes. Test it along the way. I’m bad at setting timers so I have guess and test.
The question of cheese arises. You can use goat or cow’s milk feta for a vegetarian meal. To make it vegan, you can omit the feta or use a vegan feta cheese. Any way you serve it, it will be tasty.
Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad is super easy to make and is a quick, healthy summer dinner. Want more plant-based recipes? Go here.
Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad
- - 2 large carrots, cut into cubes or sliced baby carrots
- - 1 red onion, finely sliced
- - 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled cut into cubes
- - 3 tbsp olive oil
- - Pinch dried chilli flakes
- - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- - Pinch of salt
- - 250g cooked French lentils
- - 1 Bay Leaf
- - Feta, crumbled
- - 2-4 hand full of greens
- - Preheat the oven to 400F or 300C. See post for Air Fryer instructions.
- - Put the carrot, onion and sweet potato in a large shallow baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and the chili flakes.
- - Roast for 30 mins, turning occasionally, or until tender and turning golden.
- - Make the lentils according to the pack instructions adding salt and bay leaf.
- - Serve lentil on a bed of greens.
- - Top with the roasted vegetables and crumbled feta.
- - Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas Breaks the Cabbage Image
Cabbage. This vegetable has an image problem. Cabbage, like many vegetables, has a bad reputation. It has been cooked to death without much thought to flavor. It is known as dreary, boring veg that is served in gulags. It was a poor person’s food. Easily available and cheap. Plenty of butter and salt makes it ok to eat. Back in the day, spices were a luxury, but it is 2019 and spices are abundant. So let’s move away from cabbage boiled to mush. There are other ways to prepare cabbage where you will want to eat it. Without being threatened that there will be no dessert until you finish it.
Sometimes I just buy veg at Aldi on a whim and cabbage was my most recent purchase. I do like a challenge. I had an idea to use a recipe out of the Thug Kitchen for roasted cabbage, but I decided to go South Asian with a curry base. Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas breaks the cycle of bland and boiled. While it is soft, it is bursting with flavor and color. If you are trying to cut down on rice, then this is a good substitute in texture if you chop it finely enough. I used my food processor. It was efficient getting the pieces to a perfect size for quick cooking.
While I love kitchen gadgets, none of my kitchens have been big as well as moving a lot, I have had to be very selective with my gadgets. My Kitchen Aid food processor is twenty or so odd years old and I am glad I have it. It is a workhorse making hummus, sauces, and shredding veg. Gadgets have to have a purpose and used weekly for me to keep them in the kitchen or at all. Guess I am the Marie Kondo of kitchen stuff. My list of must-have for the kitchen is electric tea kettle, slow cooker, toaster oven, stand mixer, air fryer, and food processor. I do not own a hand mixer, an electric can opener nor juicer.
Fried Cabbage and Peas
Back to the Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas. This recipe was quick and simple. Cabbage, cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, fresh ginger, and green peas. All should be pantry items. I use fresh ginger in a bottle. It is just great to have on hand ready to go into a recipe. Same with bottle minced garlic. All the flavor without the fuss.
While Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas can be the main dish if you add another veg dish such as Okra Tomato Curry. Instead of rice, I served this with Coconut Cilantro Curry Grilled Chicken.
Indian Fried Cabbage and Peas
- 1 Cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive or veg oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin Seeds
- 1 inch ginger, grated or a tablespoon of squeezable ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 cup frozen or fresh Green Peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a pan over med-high heat and add cumin seeds and ginger sautéing for a minute
- Add cabbage, paprika, coriander powder and salt mixing well
- Add 1/4 cup water.
- Cover the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes till the cabbage is tender.
- Add in the green peas and cook for another minute or too.
Homemade Hummus Made Fresh
Hummus is a quick and delicious snack or meal. It is easy to stop at the grocery store picking up a tub. While store-bought is good, hummus made fresh is the best. When you make it yourself, it just tastes so much better and you can adjust it to your tastes. Everyone has their own recipe for hummus.
Reader’s Digest Hummus
My hummus recipe came from an old Reader’s Digest magazine. The page is crumbled and covered in stains of olive oil and tahini it has been used so much. You’d think I’d have it memorized after all of those years, but I still need it. The hummus recipe was to be used for a healthy fried chicken recipe so it wasn’t as creamy. While I have that fried chicken recipe, I’ve never made it. I just use the hummus recipe. Maybe sometime soon I’ll make that chicken recipe since it does look rather tasty. I may try it in the Air Fryer.
The recipe wasn’t creamy, but more stick to the chicken kind and that’s what it is designed to do. It was tasty but creamy and smooth hummus is so nice. I had to modify it. Not a fan of the overpowering flavor of garlic, I keep the garlic under control only using one small clove since I’m pretty sure Newport does not have a vampire problem. I add spices like cumin into the mix. I’m generous with all the other ingredients. What I have found the key to the smooth hummus is ice cubes. You blend them in one at a time until you get the texture you want. Now there is a huge debate with the Middle East as to who invented it and who makes it the best.
Not Just for Pretzels
While it is a dip, it makes a delicious spread as the filling of a fresh simple roasted Vegetable Hummus Tart. Serviced with a salad, it makes for a simple yet stunning dinner. It can also be a side such as with Imam Bayildi or Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole, pita, and a salad. At BJ’s, the stock really pitas. There are big, soft, and chewy which brings the whole meal together. Simple, fresh, healthy foods.
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoon Tahini
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Teaspoon cumin
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- 3-5 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth adding an ice cube for desired creaminess.