Dairy Free Cheese Recipes – What to Look For

Whether you are needing to be dairy free because of an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, you are not alone. More and more people are finding that dairy products in their every day diet is causing their inflammation symptoms to worsen and realize they function better on a day-to-day basis if it’s not in their diet all the time.

But that brings in a whole other issue. Cheese is good! No wonder there’s been a boom in dairy free cheese substitutes! Now, before I go any further, I have to say one thing:

Dairy Alternative cheeses are it's own genre of cheese. 

It can be used for different purposes, and just like there are thousands of different cheeses to be used in specific and different ways, there are many dairy alternatives to try and to use in different ways.

While there are some cheeses out on the shelf, many choose to try to make their own at home for many reasons. It could be because of random allergies or other intolerances, trying to keep the recipe as whole as possible without fillers, reducing or not having any added sugars, or that it’s less of a hit on the wallet.

Whatever the case, if you are looking for a good recipe for a dairy free alternative to cheese, I do have a few tips and things to look for in recipes to make sure you are making “a good one”. Or if you are looking for it to be more firm or look for it to stretch, I have some ingredients to look for with that specific texture. If anything this might help you when picking out a dairy free cheese alternative at your store.

Getting the Bite or Tang of Aged Cheese

The best way to get that tang that aged cheese has is to have your mixture age. But that can get a little tricky since you probably don’t want to worry about mold, or have your kitchen smell like stinky cheese for weeks.

The best tang I’ve been able to get with a simple recipes at home is about as much as you would expect from softer cheeses like cream cheese or feta cheese.

Ingredients to look for:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (more bite) or White Vinegar (mild bite)
  • Fermented Products:
    • Miso Paste
    • Probiotic capsules
    • Unsweetened plain plant based yogurt
    • Sauerkraut Juice
    • Rejuvelac: Water from sprouting grains
      • If you sprout your own grains, the leftover semi cloudy water has probiotics in it, it’s said to have a mild kombucha flavor, and is healthy to drink. You can always save this for your cheese alternative recipes.
      • If you don’t sprout grains and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can look up the benefits and see if it’s something you would want to add to your routine, but if not, you can find other items to add to your recipe and not sprout grains just to make dairy-alternative cheeses.
  • Mustard or Mustard Powder

Texture: Cuttable and/or Sliceable

If you are looking for a cheese to put on sandwiches or want something on your cheese plate with a harder texture, you’ll need something to solidify your mixture.

Ingredients to Look for:

  • Refined Coconut Oil – solid at room temperature, easy to blend, easy to mold into a shape, and the refined version does not have a taste. It’s also saturated fat, which is part of the reason why we love cheese so much. Good for cheese balls.
  • Agar Agar powder/flakes – usually will call for powder. It’s from seaweed, but it’s a plant-based alternative to gelatin, which once it’s set with your other ingredients will make it more sliceable.
  • Gelatin

Texture: Stretchable/Meltable

If you are wanting something to stretch like mozzarella on your dairy free pizza or over a casserole, you’ll need some specific starches. Some starches are good to thicken a mixture, while others add elasticity. When using starches, read the instructions and make sure to follow them, otherwise you might not get the right reaction and it won’t stretch or thicken properly. With some starches, you need the right temperature, and to not overheat the mixture after adding it.

Lastly, when finding the ingredients, some starches will just say “powder”. You might be able to find arrowroot powder, but not arrowroot “starch”. It’s the same thing.

Ingredients to Look For:

  • Arrowroot Powder or Starch – comparable to corn starch to thicken, but adds a little stretch as well.
  • Tapioca Powder or Starch – this seems to be the most stretchy and when it’s at colder temps, it’s rubbery, of the two. I’ve used this to make a cashew mozzarella balls before.

Add Some Fat

Let’s face it, the reason we love cheese, is because it’s basically saturated fat other than some mozzarellas and feta varieties. Dairy-free cheese alternatives should be used like cheese, in that it should be more of an every once and a while item, and not with every meal. So if you are worried about where your fat intake comes from, do yourself a favor and when you make a dairy-free cheese recipe, add the fat.

The only one I’ve made that I like that doesn’t have a lot if any fat, is my white bean queso dip. But that’s pretty much it. All others I love and other people love, have coconut oil or is full of nuts, so, if you want it hit the same buttons as cheese or close to it, add the fat.

Conculsion

Plant Based/Dairy Free Cheese are it’s own product. They are trying to make the alternatives available to act like and semi-taste like cheese, but you and your body knows it’s not. You just have to know it’s a different type cheese you’re working with.

There are plenty of delicious cheeses out there to try, but trust me, don’t cheap out if you are going to buy it on the shelf and it’s your first time trying dairy free cheese. And the softer nut cheeses are usually a guaranteed hit.

As always, keep finding you beet and I will catch up with you all soon!

White Bean Cheese Sauce / Queso Dip

There are a variety of ways to make a dairy free cheese sauce, but I wanted to make one that was simple, but not too simple so there are some levels of flavor in there as well.

If you are new to dairy free cheeses, it’s important to understand that dairy cheese has a fermenting and aging process, and making a simple home recipe that you can use ingredients from your pantry to make a dairy-free cheese, it’s not going to have the same aged flavor. It’s not a one-for-one substitute especially with flavor, but it can carry the same idea and be used as an alternative.

Why White Beans?

This recipe uses white beans for a few reasons.

  1. This recipe is dairy and nut free
  2. White beans are easy to blend
  3. White bean are a good source of plant-based calcium

When I first made this recipe I wanted to make a queso dip, but I wanted to also have a plain version if someone wanted a cheese sauce for veggies. I have tried the cheese sauce on top of pasta, and it’s okay, but after a while it does turn a little sweet. I think the best way to use this is as queso bean dip. But you be the judge.

A Few Uncommon Ingredients

I wanted to make this with common ingredients as much as possible, but if you are not familiar with dairy-free cheese recipes there might be some a couple odd ingredients you might not be familiar with.

  • Nutritional Yeast
    • Nutritional yeast is produced by culturing a yeast. When the yeast is ready, it is deactivated (no longer ferment). This means this will not cause any yeast imbalances in your body.
    • It has a cheesy/nutty flavor. Usually comes in flakes or power. Most common is flakes. Something you can sprinkle on salads, pasta, etc. as a seasoning.
    • Nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins A lot of brands will fortify it with B12. And it’s high in protein (8-10g) for the 2 tablespoons you use as a serving.
  • Miso Paste
    • Miso is fermented bean paste, usually from soy beans. If you are allergic to soy, there is a chickpea variety that I use.
    • It adds a fermented, salty, umami flavor
    • Great to use in broths to add another layer of flavor.

Seasonings

There are a few seasonings, and when making the queso about 1/2 the ingredients listed is seasonings. If you do not have a lot of these, I’d suggest going to a grocery store that has seasonings in bulk. They are usually less expensive and you can just get a few tablespoons instead of a whole jar.

The Extra Steps

There are a few things I think are necessary for this recipe. One is for either the cheese sauce or the queso, the other is just for the queso.

  1. Browned Mushrooms
    • Taking the time to sautee’ the mushrooms and brown them slightly is worth it! This was something I added after a few other no-go tries. This helps bring in more of that umami taste and helps with thicken the sauce without the use of grains.
  2. Roasted Jalapenos
    • For the queso, there is nothing like fresh roasted jalapenos. In the queso recipe there is a can of chopped green chilies which I love too, but having that fresh roasted pepper in there, just bumps the queso up a notch.

I will tell ya’ll that the first time I made the queso without the mushrooms or fresh roasted jalapeno, it was okay. Then I took the extra steps and I thought it tasted pretty good. Then I went back to clean up and kept dipping in the second recipe bowl the rest of the afternoon.

These extra steps are worth it!

Recipe Time!

Okay okay! Enough about the components of the recipe, let’s get to the recipes. The first being the white bean “cheese” sauce and the next will be the recipe for the queso, adding seasonings and the roasted jalapeno.

White Bean Cheese Sauce

  • Servings: makes about 2 cups
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 small white mushrooms
  • 1 15oz can white beans, drained (I use butter beans)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste (I use chickpea miso)
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Clean and slice the mushrooms and sautee in medium pan on medium heat. If you have non-stick, no need for oil. Mushrooms give off their liquid so there should not be an issue. Space them so they are not crowded in the pan and don’t move them until they shrink or start to brown. Flip to brown the other side. This should take a total of about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Put all ingredients in a blender, including the browned mushrooms. Blend until smooth. About 5 minutes.
  3. Heat in a pan if needed. Pour over veggies, noodles, top of casserole, etc.

White Bean Queso Dip

  • Servings: makes about 2 cups
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 small white mushrooms
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 15oz can white beans, drained (I use butter beans)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste (I use chickpea miso)
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 oz can green chilies
  • Mexican Hot Sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the fresh jalapeno in half and if desired, remove the seeds. The seeds hold the majority of the heat. Put on a small baking sheet with the inside down, skin side up. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Clean and slice the mushrooms and sautee in medium pan on medium heat. If you have non-stick, no need for oil. Mushrooms give off their liquid so there should not be an issue. Space them so they are not crowded in the pan and don’t move them until they shrink or start to brown. Flip to brown the other side. This should take a total of about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Put all ingredients from white beans to salt in a blender, include the browned mushrooms. Blend until smooth and well incorporated. About 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove jalapeno from the oven, the skin should be black in some spots. Trying to remove the skin as best as you can. I will put the pepper pieces in a ziplock bag and seal it to allow it to steam for a few minutes, and then peel the outside skin off. Chop the remaining roasted pepper.
  5. Pour cheese mixture into a small sauce pan. Add the canned green chilies and the chopped roasted jalapeno and heat through on medium low heat.
  6. Top with Mexican hot sauce, cilantro, and sliced avocado.

Dairy Free: Foods to Meet Calcium Needs

When you think of calcium, you think of dairy. When you think of dairy you think of calcium… or some delicious creamy sauce or cheese. But what if you are needing to be dairy free?

There are a lot of reasons why people have to be dairy free and why people choose to be dairy free from food allergies to intolerances, to the love of animals. But since dairy has been marketed to be the go-to for calcium, can you meet calcium needs without having dairy as part of your everyday diet?

Let’s take a look at why we need calcium, what dairy-free foods contain high amounts of calcium, and then let’s look at the recommended amount of calcium intake to see what that would look like throughout the day.

Why Do We Need Calcium?

BONE HEALTH: No doubt one of the most important reasons to regularly intake calcium is for our bone health. Calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. Interestingly, that storage takes place before your are about 30 years old. After that, what calcium you’ve been able to put in the “savings account” of your bones, is all you’ll be able to save. After 30 it’s maintaining what you have and trying not to deplete your savings. Regularly intaking calcium is essential.

HEART FUNCTION: Calcium is a key contributor to your heart contracting to pump blood. It’s one of the key minerals for blood pressure control.

NERVE FUNCTION: Like with the heart, being a muscle, calcium helps fire cell signals to contract muscles to get you moving.

Dairy Free Sources of Calcium

With any nutrient, being able to get calcium through the food we eat is the best way, unless prescribed by your doctor for one reason or another. So how can we meet calcium needs if we are dairy free?

  • CANNED SARDINES OR SALMON
    • with bones
  • CALCIUM-FORTIFIED DAIRY FREE SUBSTITUTES
    • If it is fortified with calcium, it should say it on the front, but you can always check the nutrition label to see the calcium content.
  • FORTIFIED ORANGE JUICE
    • Not all orange juice will include calcium, but like with the other fortified products, it usually will say something on the front of the carton, or you can always check the nutrition label on the back.
  • FIRM TOFU
    • made with calcium sulfate. Again, you can always check the nutrition label and ingredients.
  • GREENS
    • kale, turnip greens, collard greens
  • BROCCOLI OR CABBAGE
  • FIGS
  • FORTIFIED CEREALS AND ENGLISH MUFFINS
    • you can always check the back, but look at cereals like Total, Raisin Bran, Cherrios, etc. A lot of cereals now will have on average at least 10% or 130mg of calcium per serving.
  • BEANS
    • Garbanzo beans, white beans, kidney beans, navy beans, etc.
  • SEEDS
    • Seeds are known to be little nutrient powerhouses. Some that are high in calcium would be poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds.

You can see without even the fortified foods listed, there is a wide variety of foods, no matter your “beet”, that you can find and add to meals to provide you with your calcium needs. But what does it look like throughout the day?

Calcium Needs and What It Looks Like Throughout the Day

Below is the chart of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium. RDA means that this is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%+) healthy individuals.

So numbers is great and all, but how does that translate into food? Let’s look at the higher end of the RDA, 1300mg of calcium, (which would be the needs of a growing teen) and what that would look like throughout the day for a dairy free person with a few options:

Photo by Deena Englard on Unsplash

BREAKFAST:

380mg: Fortified Cereal with Fortified Plant Based Milk

  • 1 Serving Fortified Cereal, average 130mg
    • Calcium Fortified cereals can range from 10% to 100% RDA, for this we will take the lower since most will have about 130mg or 10%. It’s better to get your calcium throughout the day than all at once since your body can only absorb so much at a time.
  • 1 Cup Calcium Fortified Plant Based Milk, average 250mg

320mg: Scrambled eggs, sauteed broccoli, and a toasted English Muffin

  • 2 Eggs, 50 mg
  • 1 Cup Cooked Broccoli, 180mg
  • English Muffin enriched with Calcium Propionate, 102mg

335mg: Tofu scramble with Black Beans and Satueed Broccoli on the side

  • Tofu, 1 cup, 130mg
  • Cooked Black Beans, 1/2 cup, 25mg
  • 1 cup cooked Broccoli, 180mg

310mg: High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt topped with Fruit and Chia Seeds

  • High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt, average 130mg
    • Depends on the brand. Plant Based yogurts can range from 1% (13mg) calcium to 20% (260mg) calcium depending on the brand. Always read your labels.
    • Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp, 180mg
Photo by Deryn Macey on Unsplash

LUNCH

449mg: Large Kale and Spinach Salad with your choice of protein and dressing

  • Kale, 1 cup, 177mg
  • Spinach, 2 cups, 272mg
  • **If using something like 1 cup garbanzo beans (86mg) 3/4 cup extra firm tofu (380mg) as protein, calcium intake will increase.

446mg: Sandwich of choice including 1 cup spinach, side of high calcium plant based yogurt with fruit and chia seeds

  • Spinach, 1 cup, 136mg
  • High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt, average 130mg
    • Depends on the brand. Plant Based yogurts can range from 1% (13mg) calcium to 20% (260mg) calcium depending on the brand. Always read your labels.
    • Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp, 180mg

358-434mg: Canned Salmon Salad, like tuna salad, (or smashed garbanzo bean salad, different info below) on top of, or in a wrap with with fresh spinach. Include crackers as a side, carrot sticks, etc.

  • Canned Salmon, 1/2 alone, 162mg
  • Garbanzo Beans, 1 cup, 86mg
  • Spinach, 2 cups, 272mg
Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

SNACKS

  • 155mg: Edamame, 1 cup
  • 75mg: Raw Almonds, 1oz or 20-25 almonds
  • 102mg: English Muffin, Enriched with Calcium Propionate, Toasted with Jam
  • 234mg: Chia Seed Pudding using 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 130mg: High Calcium Plant Based Yogurt ***Read Your Labels!
Photo by Michele Krozser from Burst

DINNER

426mg: Veggie Stir Fry including Broccoli & Bok Choy with choice of protein, topped with sesame seeds with/without brown rice

  • Broccoli, 2 cups, 180mg
  • Bok Choy, 1 cup cooked, 158mg
  • Sesame Seeds, 1 tbsp, 88mg
  • Adding Brown Rice, 1 cup, +20mg
  • **If using something like 1 cup garbanzo beans (86mg) 3/4 cup extra firm tofu (380mg) as protein, calcium intake will increase.

484mg: Salmon Burger with any sides, bun, toppings you want.

  • 1 Burger Patty using canned salmon, 484mg
  • Adding coleslaw or using spinach with the burger will add more.

431mg: White Bean and Kale Chili, depends on recipe, but usually will contain ground turkey. Vegetarian version, add more beans, with veggies, crackers, etc.

  • White Beans Cooked, 2 cups, 252mg
    • *Possibly more with the serving if using more beans for vegetarian version.
  • Kale Cooked, 1 cup, 179mg

BOTTOM LINE

A calcium rich diet that is dairy free is possible! To do it you do need to do a few things:

  • Educate yourself on the foods naturally rich in, fortified, or enriched with calcium.
  • ALWAYS read your labels, especially with plant based yogurts and know the brands you like and give you what you need. Still check the labels since they can change the formula and the nutrient aspect can change.
  • Spread out your calcium intake throughout the day if you can. Your body only absorbs so much at a time, so eating calcium rich foods throughout the day is best.

Keep finding you beet and I’ll see you tomorrow with a dairy-free cheese sauce and soon to come queso recipe.

SPOILER: The cheese sauce uses calcium-rich white beans. If you want to see both recipes in action, the YouTube video will be up tomorrow that will show both the cheese sauce and the queso! The queso recipe will be coming later this week to the blog.

Avocado Key Lime Popsicles

So a little history about this recipe… The original-original inspiration was a recipe from a blog called The Salty Tomato. It was a Avocado Key Lime pie with the traditional graham cracker crust. Dairy free and delicious! I had made it years ago.

Since then I had made my own rendition of it as single serving size “pies” with a pecan and date crust. Dairy free, gluten free, and delicious! This different take on the recipe was my Frozen Avocado Key Lime Pies. Aren’t they cute?!

This year I have been loving my popsicle molds I bought and have been making popsicles at least once a month. Here are my other popsicles I’ve made so far in 2020…

So now my next popsicle that I’m making will be the next rendition of the Avocado Key Lime recipe. Now – I’ve made this recipe with key lime juice, and also straight lime juice when I couldn’t find key lime juice. The key lime juice will have a milder and sweeter taste. However, regular lime juice will work, but know it will be more tart.

Additionally, I decided to try out a coating of toasted coconut shreds and crushed graham crackers. Depending on your diet and your likes and dislikes, this does not make or break this recipe. Use the coating or not, this recipe is still delicious! Have fun with it! Hope you are all having a great summer!

Avocado Key Lime Popsicles with Toasted Coconut and Graham Crackers

  • Servings: 8 small popsicles, or 4 large
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice (you can use lime juice but it will be more tart/sour)
  • 1/4 cup dark agave
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 cup coconut shreds
  • 1 sheet graham crackers

Directions

  1. In a blender, toss the avocado flesh of 2 avocados, key lime juice, dark agave, and coconut oil. Blend until smooth. Pour into bowl.
  2. Stir in the lime zest so there are flakes of the zest throughout the mixture.
  3. Pour into popsicles molds and freeze for at least 4 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, you can get the coating ready. Put one graham cracker in a ziplock bag and pound of roll over with a rolling pin until it is crumbs. In a small skillet, heat over medium heat and add the coconut shreds. Continuously toss. When the shreds start to brown it will not take long. Keep tossing until all shreds are golden. Turn off heat, add to small bowl. Mix in graham cracker crumbs.
  5. When the popsicles are frozen, take out of the freezer and let defrost 1-2 minutes. Take out of molds and coat with the coconut/crumb mixture. Put on or in container and put back in the freezer for a few minutes to refreeze before serving.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Pineapple Salad

I love sweet and savory! And there are times of the year I crave pineapple. Spinach and pineapple smoothies, grilled pineapple, cold pineapple chunks to snack on, pineapple chicken salad (or chickpea salad for me), etc. This recipe brings pineapple into my lunch or dinner and I love it! I’m sure using grilled pineapple and grilled sweet potatoes would add another layer of flavor that would be amazing! But here are some reasons why I love this salad from a nutrition stand point.

Black Beans
  • Excellent Source of Fiber
  • High in Antioxidants – neutralizing cell damage
  • High in Iron – helps to bring oxygen to the cells
  • High in Calcium – bone health
  • High In Potassium – maintains healthy blood pressure and heart rate
Sweet Potatoes
  • Excellent Source of Fiber and Starch – which breaks down easily and is soothing to the stomach, even helping stomach ulcers.
  • High in Vitamin C and Zinc for Immune Health
  • High in Beta-Carotene – lowers inflammation inside and out
  • Helps to Regulate Blood Sugar
Pineapple
  • High in Vitamin C for Immune Health
  • High in Manganese for Bone Health and Connective Tissue
  • Contains the Digestive Enzyme Bromelain which Aids the Liver, and Breaks down Mucus in Sinuses and Lungs
  • Anti-Inflammatory

And then you add in the vitamins and minerals in the lime juice, the healthy fats in the avocado, and the metal detoxing benefits of cilantro – holy cow! I love this salad! Feel free to indulge! We also have roasted corn on the side to add for those who don’t have an adverse effect like me.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Pineapple Salad

  • Servings: 4 servings as a meal | about 2 cups each | 16 ounces
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh diced pineapple
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, about 2 limes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped avocado as topping, optional
  • roasted corn as topping, optional

Adding chicken breast or shrimp to this would be a great way to make it a meal for those that are not plant-based.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the olive oil, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Toss the sweet potato chunks with the olive oil mixture in a gallon size bag to distribute spices. Spread on baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, toss about 1/2 way through. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the rest of the salad. In a large bowl, mix together the black beans, diced pineapple, diced red onion, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and garlic.
  3. Once the sweet potatoes are cooled, add to the black bean mixture and toss. If desired, add salt and pepper, and top with avocado and/or roasted corn.

Nutritional Information

*This is not including any added salt, the avocado, or roasted corn as a topping if you choose to add it.

273 calories | 8 g total fat | 1.3 g polyunsaturated fat | 5 g monounsaturated fat | 1.2 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fats | 0 mg cholesterol | 455 mg sodium | 44 g carbohydrates | 18 g fiber | 6 g sugar | 12 g protein | 285% vitamin A | 49% vitamin C | 583% vitamin K | 55% magnesium | 25% iron

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

Barbecue Chopped Salad

Nothing says summer quite like barbecue. And in Texas, we love our barbecue and barbecue sauces. I try to get in the smokey flavors any way that I can.

This salad is one you can take as a side to a picnic, or top it with barbecue chicken, sliced sausages, or chickpeas (like I have below) and have it as a meal. It’s an easy summer dinner that doesn’t heat up your house. Then adding the Yogurt Ranch recipe I have to it helps to give you not only the smokey barbecue flavor, but the creaminess without it being heavy and you can make it dairy free.

Barbecue Chopped Salad

  • Servings: Makes 12 cups or more, 6-8 side servings, or 4-6 main servings with BBQ chicken, sausage, or chickpeas
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and then quartered
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • Toppings and Sauces
  • Avocado, optional on side
  • BBQ Sauce (I use Stubbs Original since it’s lower in sugar than most)
  • Yogurt Ranch
  • BBQ Chicken, Sausage, or Chickpeas

Directions

  1. Wash all vegetables, chop, and mix together.
  2. Top with any toppings and sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

If you are taking it somewhere, make sure to keep sauces and toppings separate so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy.

Nutritional Information
2-3 cups of Salad with 1 Roasted Chicken Breast, 2 tbsp Average BBQ Sauce, & 4 tbsp Yogurt Ranch

407 calories | 6.9 g fat | 1.5 g polyunsaturated | 2.2 g monounsaturated | 1.8 g saturated | 0 g trans fats | 149 mg cholesterol | 550 mg sodium | 32 g 23.5 g carbohydrates | 3 g fiber | 15.5 g sugar | 60 g protein | 113% Vitamin A | 95% Vitamin C | 78% Vitamin K

Nutritional Information
2-3 cups of Salad with 3/4 cup drained canned Chickpeas, 2 tbsp Average BBQ Sauce, & 4 tbsp Yogurt Ranch

426 calories | 4 g fat | 1.3 g polyunsaturated | 0.7 g monounsaturated | 0.4 g saturated | 0 g trans fats | 0 mg cholesterol | 734 mg sodium | 52 g carbohydrates | 10 g fiber | 20 g sugar | 16 g protein | 113% Vitamin A | 95% Vitamin C | 82% Vitamin K

Yogurt Ranch

You’re trying to watch your fat, but you just really want to dip those carrot sticks you have as a snack into a huge creamy bowl of ranch. Does this sound like you? Sounds like me! Here is an alternative to when you just can’t take it anymore and need to have that creamy tangy dipping sauce or salad dressing. I had originally made a plant-based version using a plant-based mayo, but it was still using a whole lot of oils and was fattening. This can still be made plant-based and is low in fat, or if you don’t have a problem with dairy, using low-fat yogurt and skim milk will do the trick just the same.  Feel free to use this to indulge in something that isn’t really that bad.

The Comparison:

Regular Ranch Dressing:

1 tbsp serving | 73 calories | 7.7 g fat | 1.0 g carbs | 0.4 g sugar | 0.2 g protein

Yogurt Ranch Dressing:

1 tbsp serving | 10 calories | 0.1 g fat | 1.5 g carbs | 1.1 g sugar | 0.9 g protein

Yogurt Ranch

  • Servings: 1 tbsp serving, about 20 servings, makes 1 1/3 cup
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened low fat plain Greek Style yogurt (I used Kite Hill’s unsweetened plain almond milk yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup low fat milk or unsweetened plant based milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Directions

  1. Mix together the yogurt and milk until creamy.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk together.
  3. Ready to serve. Store in an air tight container for 1 week.

Nutritional Information:

10 calories | 0.1 g fat unsaturated | 1 mg cholesterol (0 mg if using plant-based ingredients) | 73 mg sodium | 1.5 g carbohydrates | 1.1 g sugar | 0.9 g protein

*Note that Greek Style dairy based yogurt will have less fat than the almond milk version. However, most of the fat from the almond milk version is from almonds, which is your healthy omega fatty acids, so it’s the healthy unsaturated fat instead of saturated.

Mexican Purple Coleslaw

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of soggy creamy coleslaw. I’m picky about my cabbage since I’m not personally a huge fan. A light crisp coleslaw, especially with cilantro, yum! And of course, I have to make it pretty. If I can buy the purple cabbage and use that instead of the everyday green cabbage, it just makes it that much more appealing and fun! To me it seems to be a little more richer and earthier in flavor than your regular green head of cabbage.

Some of the numbers between the two are pretty interesting

  • Red cabbage has 85% of the daily vitamin C, while green cabbage only has 47%.
  • Red cabbage contains 10% more vitamin A than green.
  • Red cabbage has double the amount of iron than green cabbage.
  • And with any fruit or vegetable – the deeper the color, the more antioxidants. Red cabbage is higher in antioxidants than green!

Green cabbage is still a healthy choice, but red definitely has it’s benefits too! I say go for the deeper flavor and color anytime you can.

Red Cabbage
  • High in Vitamin C
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • High in Vitamin K for Bone Health
  • High in Antioxidants

I’ve used this recipe as a side dish or as a topping on shrimp tacos. For my tacos I marinated chopped hearts of palm in spices and toasted them on the skillet instead of the shrimp. Whatever you want to use this with, it’s light and adds a crunch! No sogginess here.

Mexican Purple Coleslaw

  • Servings: 6 servings
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tbsp agave or honey
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp or more chipotle chili powder, optional for spice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix together the shredded cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and garlic in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the orange juice, lime juice, agave or honey, cumin, and olive oil to make the dressing.
  3. Combine the vegetables and the dressing. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately. Or put in fridge for a few hours to get cold before serving.

Nutritional Information

59 calories | 2.5 g fat | < 0.5 g polyunsaturated | 1.7 g monounsaturated | < 0.5 g saturated | 0 g trans | 0 mg cholesterol | 27 mg sodium | 9.4 g carbohydrates | 1.7 g fiber | 5.3 g sugar | 1 g protein | 159% Vitamin A | 47% Vitamin C | 30% Vitamin K

Frozen Avocado Key Lime Pie

I’ve always enjoyed key lime pie, but with the sweetened condensed milk and the eggs and so on, it was hard to make it dairy free and plant based. I posted about trying to use the coconut sweetened condensed milk by Nature’s Charm and trying to find the right science to make it firm. It wasn’t the coconut sweetened condense milk, it was me. Here’s the post if you want to see my Key Lime Pie Fail.

At the end I do post my recipe that finally worked! So if you still want a good fattening creamy key lime pie that is dairy and egg free, it’s on that link. And it was delicious.

Dairy Free and Egg Free Key Lime Pie

HOWEVER – I wanted to share a healthier recipe that I’ve made. The original recipe is from The Salty Tomato. Lauren has some great flexitarian recipes! When it gets hot outside, I start thinking of this pie and it’s so simple. I also decided to make cupcake size portions for it so you can just get out one serving from the freezer. It’s basically avocados, key lime juice, agave, and a little bit of coconut oil to help keep it firm. The crust is originally graham cracker crust – which is my favorite – but this is a nutrition blog, so less of the graham crackers and butter, and more of the dates and pecans/walnuts.

Keep in mind – this is pretty much all fat. Healthy fats. But still fat. That’s why I like making the cupcake-size portions so that I don’t go overboard and I can stay “on track” with my goals.

  • Healthy fats
  • No processed sugar
  • Delicious
  • Easily Gluten-Free

 

Good Fats

Let’s talk about healthy fats for a minute while we’re on the subject. Good fats usually come from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. They are unsaturated fats. There are two types of unsaturated fats – polyunsaturated (think omega 3 & 6) and monounsaturated (think olive oil). So when you see those on the bottom of my recipes, those are good fats.

  • Easily digested and used for energy
  • Build cell membranes
  • Creates the covering over our nerves
  • Needed for muscle movement
  • Breaks down inflammation
  • Helps with blot clotting
  • Reduces harmful cholesterol and triglycerides

On top of that, the good thing about this recipe – you are getting those fats along with keeping the original fruit or nut that it came from so the fiber and other nutrients are there as well. Just remember although it’s healthy for you, it doesn’t mean you can indulge and eat the whole recipe. Trust me I’ve tried. I don’t think it’s even possible with how rich these things are. Then if you add my Dairy Free Whipped Cream on top… you’re done!

Raw Avocado Key Lime Pie

  • Servings: 12 small cupcake size servings
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Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 1/4 cup agave or honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Prepare a medium size muffin tin, either lining it with parchment paper or taking a small amount of coconut oil and rubbing the insides.
  2. Take the pecans or walnuts, dates, vanilla, and small amount of salt. Blend in a food processor until slightly chunky but combined and you can press together. ***If you are like me and don’t want to drag another piece of equipment out: Take a gallon size bag and with a heavy rolling pin (I have a marble one) crush the nuts as finely as you can. Take the dates and chop into the smallest pieces you can. Add those to the bag with the vanilla and salt. Smash and roll the rolling pin over it until all is combined. It should look crumbly, but will stick together if you mold it.
  3. Take about a large tablespoon of the nut and date mixture and add to the bottoms of the cupcake molds. Press down hard. Spread evenly until all of the mixture is used.
  4. In a blender, blend the avocados, key lime juice, agave or honey, coconut oil and lime zest until smooth.
  5. Take about 1 1/2-2 large spoonfuls of the avocado mixture and place on top of the nut mixture in the cupcake tin. Freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before eating.

Nutritional Information

Per 1 Cupcake Size Serving

182 calories | 15 g total fat | 3 g polyunsaturated fat | 8 g monounsaturated fat | 2.5 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fats| 0 mg cholesterol | 3 mg sodium | 2 g protein | 13 g carbohydrates | 4 g fiber | 8 g sugar