Avocado Cream

If you are an avocado fan, check this out! This gives a little different texture and flavor than plain avocado or guacamole and instead of sour cream it uses low fat plain unsweetened yogurt, making sure there is no unnecessary added fat and most of the fat is all healthy and plant based.

You can use this as a dip, topping for tacos or fajitas, nachos, etc. So much yum! I’m working on an enchilada recipe that will have this avocado cream on top! Not sure when it will be ready, but stay tuned!

Avocado Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened low fat yogurt (or find a plant based plain unsweetened yogurt)
  • 2-3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • handful of cilantro, if desired

Directions

  1. Add avocado flesh (discard the avocado pit and skin), plain unsweetened low fat yogurt, lime juice, garlic clove, and if using, cilantro in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Store in an air tight container. Keep refrigerated for 2-3 days. The avocado may start to turn brown in some spots, but the flavor should remain and will still be healthy to eat.

Nutrition Information

1 serving

81 calories | 5.55 g total fat | 0.6 g polyunsaturated fat | 3.45 g monounsaturated fat | 1.1 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 2 mg cholesterol | 6.32 g carbohydrates | 2.3 g fiber | 3.19 g total sugar | 2.87 g protein

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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Low-Fat & Dairy Free)

Tomato basil soup is one of our favorites and is simple to make. When I became plant based it was one of those things that was hard to find a good recipe that wasn’t too acidic that James would eat. When we were first married I made a creamy tomato basil soup with canned tomatoes with Italian seasonings, and cream cheese… that was pretty much it. It was delicious. One of James’ favorites, but couldn’t say it was nutritiously balanced. Plus the fact that both James and I are (at the least) lactose-intolerant.

So finding a dairy-free creamy tomato soup was one of my challenges. I was able to make a few here and there that were “good” but I wanted something I could make over and over again, and it be just as easy as the other recipe. And through trial and error, I’ve come up with this one! But before we get to the recipe, let’s look at tomatoes for a minute.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes is one of the few fruits/vegetables that can be more nutritious after cooking it, than before. Heat changes the chemistry of the food and for tomatoes, it’s a good thing. However raw tomatoes will have more vitamin C. Why is it sometimes better to cook tomatoes?

Lycopene is the phytochemical that gives tomatoes their rich red color, although not all red fruits and vegetables have lycopene. It’s also an antioxidant which is what helps with the oxygenation of cells that naturally occurs with aging. Scientists found that the more tomatoes were cooked, although loosing the amount of vitamin C, increased in the amount of lycopene. So what does it specifically do for us?

Lycopene

  • Antioxidant
    • Fights toxins and pesticides
  • Eye Health
    • Ability to prevent or delay cataracts
  • Brain Health
    • Counteracts future cell damage and death
  • Heart Health
    • Helps lower blood pressure, helps and prevents coronary heart disease
  • Bone Health
    • Relieves oxidative stress in bones that cause them to be brittle and weak

The other good thing about cooking tomatoes, the longer they cook, the better the flavor. Spaghetti sauce, chili, tomato soup, etc. If you are able to let it simmer for a while, even a few hours, the flavor is richer and less acidic. And now you know it will have higher levels of a powerful antioxidant.

Ready for a dairy-free, low-fat, creamy tomato soup that is easy to make in 10 minutes?

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Low-Fat & Dairy Free)

  • Servings: 4 Servings
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Ingredients

  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano, undrained
  • 1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can butter beans (or cannellini beans if you can’t find butter beans)
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain plant-based yogurt (I use Kite Hill’s) Or you can use a plant based version that is creamy and adds fat, which is using coconut cream from the can.
  • 1 tsp brown sugar, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste, if desired

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender, other than brown sugar, and blend until smooth. Add to a medium pan and heat through at least for 10 minutes.
  2. If you can let it simmer for 30 minutes or more the flavors will be more combined and less acidic. If they are still acidic or you don’t want to wait for it to simmer, add in the 1 teaspoon of brown sugar to cut the acidity.

Nutritional Information

215 calories | 1.0 g total fat | 0.2 g saturated fat | 0.4 g polyunsaturated fat | 0.1 g monounsaturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 2.4 mg cholesterol | 1437 sodium (if not using low sodium canned goods) | 37 g carbohydrates | 8 g fiber | 15.5 g sugar | 14.4 g protein

Macro Sources

69% Carbohydrates | 4% Fat | 27% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.6 Meat Alternative
  • 0.3 Milk Alternative
  • 3.4 Vegetables

Black Bean & Yogurt Dip

The hummus craze is still going strong I know, but why not change it up and give other beans a chance to be a delicious dip too? I’ll be honest, I’m picky about my hummus. There are some that leave a weird aftertaste, and other that are loaded up excess oil. That’s when I started to “dip” into different beans that are healthy, delicious, and low fat that are a good change of pace. Here’s a dip featuring one of my favorite beans, black beans!

Black Beans

1 Cup Cooked Black Beans

  • 14.5 g Protein
  • 0.7 g Fat
  • 40 g Carbohydrates
  • 16.6 g Fiber | Weight Management & Intestinal Health + Healthy Cholesterol Levels
  • 28% Daily Value (DV) Iron | Healthier Blood
  • 27% DV Magnesium | Healthy Bones
  • 16% DV Potassium | Healthy Blood Pressure
  • 16% DV Zinc | Healthy Immune System
  • 36% DV Folate | Healthy Reproduction of Cells

Don’t you love it when you find out a favorite food can be considered a super food?!

The Dip

For this dip I decided to keep with a Mexican flavoring and to make it creamy, instead of adding oil or anything that is high in fat, I use unsweetened low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Any kind will do whether it’s made with animal milk or plant-based milks, as long as it’s low fat/fat free and unsweetened, it will work just fine!

Eat with your favorite raw veggies, chips, crackers, or use as a spread on a sandwich or wrap, or keep it as a taco filling. I’m sure you’ll find a way to finish off this bowl of dip. Now on to the recipe!

Black Bean & Yogurt Dip

  • Servings: 2 Servings
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Ingredients

  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained
  • OR 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened low fat or fat free yogurt, I use Kite Hill’s plain almond milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and Pepper, if desired

Directions

  1. In a blender add all ingredients and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve cold or warmed in a bowl with your favorite veggies, crackers, corn chips, pretzels, etc for dipping. Or save as a taco filling, inside quesadillas, spread for sandwiches or wraps.

Nutritional Information

113 calories | 0.5 g total fat | 0.1 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0.6 mg cholesterol | 430 mg sodium | 19.1 g carbohydrates | 7.4 g fiber | 0.6 g sugar | 8.1 g protein

Macro Sources

68% Carbohydrates | 3% Fat | 29% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.6 Meat Alternative
  • 1.1 Vegetables

Pumpkin Penne with Spinach & Ricotta

Since winter is just around the corner, it’s good to have filling and satisfying recipes at hand that give our immune system a nutrient boost. When most think of pumpkin it’s usually pumpkin pie or a sugary creamy latte they think of first. But pumpkin is good for many things. Since it doesn’t have a strong taste it’s good to add in baking recipes instead of oil to cut down on the fat and calories for instance. Or it’s good to use as a creamy sauce without it being heavy in dairy or fat. This recipe does just that. There are some great benefits to pumpkin as well.

Pureed Pumpkin
  • High in Fiber, 1 cup canned pumpkin has 28% of your daily value of fiber
  • High in Vitamin A, 1 cup canned pumpkin contains 762% Vitamin A, for your eye health
  • Good source of Iron, to oxygenate cells
  • Good Source of Magnesium for your brain, heart, and muscles
  • Good source of Vitamin E for skin, brain, and heart health
  • Low in Sodium / High in Potassium which makes it beneficial for blood pressure control
Cooked Spinach

When foods are cooked it changes the chemistry of them. With spinach there are some added benefits when it’s raw, and other benefits when it’s cooked.

  • Absorb higher levels of Vitamin A
  • Good Source of Vitamin E
  • Good Source of Protein
  • Good Source of Zinc for your immune health
  • Good Source of Calcium for bone health
  • Good Source of Iron for blood health

So this recipe will not only keep your weight down with the amount of fiber, but also help your immune system with the high amounts of vitamin A & E which has powerful antioxidants, and zinc. Great way to use pumpkin and get the health benefits without adding the fat and sugar!

Pumpkin Penne with Spinach & Ricotta

  • Servings: 6 Servings
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Ingredients

  • small amount of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, optional (use more broth if not using)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 large fresh sage leave, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 16 oz. bag whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked
  • 5 oz. bag of baby spinach
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 cup Almond Ricotta, or Regular Ricotta
  • dash of nutmeg, optional

Directions

  1. In a large skillet heat a small amount of oil at medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add in the white wine, vegetable broth, yogurt, pumpkin puree, sage, salt, and pepper, and stir to mix together. Bring to a boil. Add the penne pasta and stir to make sure the noodles don’t stick. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the penne is cooked. Stir every few minutes.
  3. Once pasta is cooked, take off heat, or put on very low. Add in the spinach one handful at a time and stir until wilted. Add the drained cannellini beans and the almond ricotta, or regular ricotta. Stir together and serve.
  4. Dust with a small amount of nutmeg and enjoy!

Nutritional Information

367 calories | 10.8 g total fat | 2.5 g polyunsaturated | 5.9 g monounsaturated | 1.3 g saturated | 0 g trans fats | 0-3 mg (depending on ricotta) | 1157 mg sodium | 52 g carbohydrates | 11 g fiber | 7 g total sugar | 17 g protein | 583% Vitamin A | 18% Vitamin C | 142% Vitamin K | 50% Magnesium | 30% Copper | 26% Iron

Creamy Green Chili Enchilada Stew

Nothing says fall better than a creamy stew. Some of our families favorite recipes are ones that use green chilies. This stew is basically a deconstructed version of my Hatch Green Chili Enchiladas that you can eat in a bowl with tortillas or not. Plus it’s easier to make with less time. So when I really want the enchiladas but I don’t want to put in the effort, or it’s no longer August and the chilies are not fresh but I still want a green chili something, this is what happens.

Green Chilis
  • Good Source of Vitamin A
  • Good Source of Vitamin C
  • Good Source of Vitamin K
  • Capsaicin
  • Helps to increase metabolism
Capsaicin

Capsaicin is found in all chili peppers including green chili peppers. It’s responsible for the spicy burning feeling. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin. Green chilies don’t have as much and are usually mild.

  • Found to decrease cluster headaches
  • Relieves pain (ironically) especially for joints
  • Improves blood sugar and insulin reactions

So although green chilies might be relatively low in capsaicin, it still has a lot benefits for us. If you can find raw green chilis, take 1 or 2 and after taking out the seeds, chop them and saute them with the onion. You’ll get a additional boost more than you will just from the canned chilies.

Creamy Green Chili Enchilada Stew

  • Servings: 6 Servings
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I usually 1/2 the first part of the recipe since my family uses both plant based and meat based versions. I do half hearts of palm and half chicken. The stew base stays the same. Adjust it how you need to for your family. I use hearts of palm so that it’s plant-based and soy-free, but if you want to add more plant-based protein use your favorite chicken alternative.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 can hearts of palm, drained and pulled into strips OR 4 large chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 “chicken” bouillon cube, broken up or 1 tbsp poultry seasoning (if using hearts of palm)
  • 2 tsp cumin, divided
  • Small amount of water or broth
  • STEW BASE
  • 1/2-1 c water or vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans or 3 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 2 (4 oz) cans hatch green chilies or 2 roasted hatch chilies, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 cup Greek Style Yogurt, or Plain Unsweetened Plant-Based Yogurt (I use Kite Hill)
  • 1 15 oz. can hatch green chili enchilada sauce
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • TO SERVE
  • Cilantro
  • Limes
  • Avocado
  • Whole Wheat Flour or Corn Tortillas

Directions

  1. If you are using chicken, make sure the chicken is boiled and shredded. If you are using the hearts of palm, make sure the hearts of palm is shredded as well. The easiest way is by using two forks like you would with shredded chicken.
  2. Add a small amount of oil to a medium skillet, heat on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add in chicken or hearts of palm. Cook for a few minutes. Add in the garlic powder, crumbled bouillon cube or poultry seasoning, cumin, and just enough water to fill the bottom of the pan. Stir together. Simmer on medium-low heat until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Make the stew base. In a medium to large sauce pan, add vegetable broth, pinto beans, green chilis, cumin, oregano, Greek-style yogurt, enchilada sauce and stir together. Simmer until warmed through. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. You can add the chicken or hearts of palm mixture to the base if desired. We keep it separate since we have 2 versions.
  4. To serve, add the stew base, top with chicken or hearts of palm if not already combined, chopped cilantro, lime juice, avocado, and toasted tortillas.

Nutritional Information:
With Chicken without Toppings

331 calories | 6.3 g total fat | 1.1 g saturated fat | 1.6 g polyunsaturated fat | 2.6 g monounsaturated fat | 0 g trans fats | 91 mg cholesterol | 1071 mg sodium (if not using low sodium canned goods) | 22.7 g carbohydrates | 4.8 g fiber | 3.6 g sugar | 46 g protein

Macro Sources

27% Carbohydrates | 17% Fat | 56% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 1.7 Meat
  • 0.4 Meat Alternative
  • 0.3 Milk Alternative
  • 1.0 Vegetables
Nutritional Information
With Hearts of Palm without Toppings

235 calories | 8.2 g total fat | 4.0 g saturated fat | 1.3 g polyunsaturated fat | 2.3 monounsaturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0 mg cholesterol | 1192 mg sodium (if not using low sodium canned goods) | 32 g carbohydrates | 10.2 g fiber | 2.3 g sugar | 8.0 g protein

Macro Sources

55% Carbohydrates | 31% Fat | 14% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.4 Meat Alternative
  • 2.5 Vegetables

Creamy Hidden Veggie Macaroni

I had finally broke down and tried it. A creamy sauce for pasta made from vegetables and seasoning. I can’t say it taste like macaroni and cheese, but it’s a great way to stay on track with your goals and still have a high-fiber, low-fat creamy pasta side dish that can be made dairy-free. I’ve tried a few different versions and then I needed to add my own flavor to it. I like my “cheese” to be tangy, so by adding the miso and yellow mustard it adds that tangy/fermented cheese flavor that I look for. Also the nutritional yeast. I’m sure I’ll have a post about it soon enough, but the benefits it adds when you use it as a topping or a seasoning are pretty impressive.

Check out the benefits!

I looked up a few different “Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipes” and put them into my nutrient calculator that I use. Here are some staggering numbers.

 

Classic Macaroni & Cheese (1 cup Serving): 

  • 350 to 750 calories
  • 23 g fat (35% DV) to 39 g fat (60% DV)

Hidden Veggie Macaroni & Cheese (1 cup Serving):

  • 297 calories
  • 3.9 g fat

 

Not that I don’t enjoy an occasional cheesy side dish, but I think this recipe is definitely something to be tried. I don’t think of this as “macaroni and cheese” but a “creamy macaroni side”. For me, it fills the craving for something that looks and feels like it should be a lot worse than it is. Let me say this too – low-fat is good for some things. There is a definite need for fat in your diet, but you don’t need 30-80% of your average daily intake to be in 1 cup of food on a regular basis. I like to take my fat and spread it around like butter throughout my day. So to keep things balanced, and to keep on track with my goals without going too overboard with creamy fattening cravings, I like using this version.

Creamy Hidden Veggie Macaroni

  • Servings: 12 servings or 1 casserole dish if baking, 1 cup per serving
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. whole wheat macaroni (or less *see leftover sauce freezing note)
  • OR use a gluten free variety
  • 2 cups yellow potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes, dry, not in oil
  • 1 1/2 cup water (from boiling vegetables)
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream *see note
  • OR 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt, optional
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp miso, optional *see note
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard

Directions

  1. Cook pasta to package directions and set aside.
  2. Put the potatoes, carrots, onion, and sun dried tomatoes in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover the vegetables. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Once they are done, take out 1 1/2 cups of the vegetable water and put into a blender. Add in the cooked vegetables and the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  4. Top your cooked pasta with the sauce, add salt if needed, and enjoy a creamy pasta without any guilt!

Coconut Cream | Use canned coconut milk, or now I’ve seen canned coconut cream. Do not shake. Open the can and the cream will have separated from the water. The cream will not be sweet or have much of a coconut taste. There should be about 1/2 or more coconut cream in one can.

Miso | Regular miso is made from fermented soy beans and is used in Japanese cooking. They are now making chickpea miso, which is what I use, as a soy-free alternative. It adds a tangy taste to the sauce like cheddar would do, so I recommend using it, but it is optional. Since miso is fermented, it’s very good for balancing gut bacteria and in effect, healthy for digestion.


Nutritional Information

297 calories | 3.9 g total fat | 0.2 g saturated fat | 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat | 0.4 g monounsaturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 0 mg cholesterol | 198 mg sodium | 53 g carbohydrates | 7.8 g fiber | 1.5 g sugar | 12.8 g protein

Macro Sources

71% Carbohydrates | 12% Fat | 17% Protein

Dietary Servings per Portion
  • 0.9 Grain
  • 0.2 Meat Alternative
  • 0.6 Vegetables
Freeze Leftover Sauce

I will freeze the rest of the sauce that I don’t use if I am not using 2 pounds of pasta at once. Freeze in a gallon bag and lay it flat. Freeze up to two weeks at the most. When ready to use, take it out the morning you will be using it and let it defrost in the fridge. You may need to add a little more flavoring with added nutritional yeast and salt, but it should be good to go!