Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan + gluten free)

by letthegoodin on July 28, 2014

vegan cauliflower buffalo bites

I don’t know many people who don’t love the tangy heat – varying degrees of heat, that is – of a good buffalo sauce. And of course, buffalo sauce is synonymous with chicken wings. But if you’re like me and you choose to very infrequently eat any meat if at all (and for me personally, if I’m going to have some, it never includes poultry – even though that used to be the meat I ate the most of!) – then alternative vehicles for buffalo sauce are needed.

Enter cauliflower.

Cauliflower is an under-appreciated but very versatile and extremely nutritious vegetable. Roasted to a char it’s almost addictive, steamed and pureed it transforms into a mashed potato-like dish (or can be woven into a soup), and it’s light enough in flavor that it happens to be a great vegetable to enjoy with any number of dips – hummus, salsa, different dressings, etc. Including buffalo sauce!

I had grand plans to make these cauliflower buffalo bites alongside another dish for dinner, but we wound up eating this whole plate and were extremely full – cruciferous veggies can do that!

There are many iterations of similar recipes for this out there, but I found this one to turn out the best so far. This particular recipe is gluten free and vegan. I opted for brown rice flour because of its mild flavor and the gooey texture created when mixed with water (unlike some other non-wheat flours). Whole wheat pastry flour should also work fairly well here, though you may need to adjust the flour to liquid ratio so it doesn’t get too doughy.

As for what constitutes buffalo sauce, this is a hotly debated topic amongst those who consider themselves connoisseurs. Many purists rely on Frank’s Red Hot (tasty), with the possible addition of some butter for mellowing. For a treat nostalgic to my husband’s Buffalo roots, I ordered a bottle of the “hotter” sauce from the famed Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY – an institution known for it’s wings/sauce. While this sauce contains small amounts of some ingredients I generally and across the board recommend avoiding, given that it has the “real deal” flavor, I thought it would be worth it for at least my own taste test and a throwback for Peter – so I can now work on concocting my own cleaner but just as delicious recipe for the sauce itself. That’ll be a future Part II to this recipe!

Serve these alone, or with the traditional carrot and celery sticks. And, of course, don’t forget bleu cheese or ranch dressing for dipping… easier than ever for those avoiding dairy/ vegan and when you don’t want to whisk together something homemade, thanks to Follow Your Heart’s amazing bottled vegan dressings. I think everyone (even those who don’t stay away from dairy) should try these. I never thought that blue cheese in particular could be replicated without cheese/milk – but they proved me wrong in a big way.

I think this is a great recipe for both meat eaters and those who avoid animal protein – you get a delicious (and Buffalonian-approved) dose of spicy buffalo sauce, with a non-fried, nutritious base of cauliflower. So much healthier than fried meat!

Recipe: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan + gluten-free)

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Salad Inspiration

by letthegoodin on July 24, 2014

vegan salad burger bowlWho says salads are bland or boring?

They can literally be anything you want. And whenever you’re struggling with what to make for a meal, let this be your fall-back. Can’t go wrong!

Stick with these building blocks: Use greens (can switch out what kind) as a base and change up whatever else you add on top, depending on how hungry you are, what you have in your fridge/pantry or what’s in season. Vegetable possibilities are endless, as are fruits, seeds, nuts, croutons, grains, beans and other proteins. And a different dressing can make all the difference in the world – completely transforming and elevating what’s already in your bowl.

(Stay tuned for a more specific quantity building block breakdown of ingredients you can mix and match into a one-dish meal!)

Last night, dinnertime keywords were simple, quick, nutritious and delicious. And so, into a bowl went mixed greens, sunflower sprouts, bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomato, kalamata olives, raw broccoli, black beans – and an oven-crisped vegan veggie burger, chopped into pieces. Topped with a sprinkling of himalayan sea salt and lot of black pepper, and a vinaigrette drizzle (whisk together some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard and hot sauce).

Keep your body and taste buds happy by making at least a few of your meals each week a hearty salad like this, using whatever specific ingredients you prefer.

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Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

by letthegoodin on July 23, 2014

We’re in the middle of summer, which for most of us means we’re in the thick of heat, be it dry or humid. I wast just in CT and NY and felt that old familiar humidity there, only to fly back to AZ and be hit with 112 degree temps in Phoenix (dry heat aside, that is HOT) – so it’s an opportune time to remember how important it is to stay hydrated.

Water keeps all of our organs – including our brain – functioning properly. Dehydration can do a number on your body, including increasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels and moodiness, and negatively impacting most body organs and systems. It can also make you feel sluggish, tired and/or light-headed. Not good! If you’ve experienced the difference between being dehydrated vs. hydrated, chances are you can recognize on a more conscious level too that it feels different in a bad way when your body is water-deprived.

We’ve heard it all before, but it’s too important to not reiterate. Here are five key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. At that point, you are already dehydrated! And know your personal needs, which can vary based on your particular health, activity level, local climate, age, etc.
  2. Water in, water out! I give my husband credit for that saying, which he repeats to students at all of his classes. If you’re drinking enough, you should be filling – and emptying – your bladder with regularity, and your urine should appear more dilute.
  3. Keep a reusable water bottle with you. I’m partial to HydroFlask - it keeps cold liquid cold and hot liquid hot for hours and hours, and comes in several sizes with different lid options. I rarely leave the house without one, and find I drink more water when I have a bottle within arm’s reach – especially a bigger one. It’s great when traveling on airplanes – simply send it through security unfilled, and then fill up at a water fountain or one of the new water bottle filling stations in airports (and it saves money). In a similar vein, if you’re an outdoor walker, runner or hiker – invest in a backpack or lumbar pack Camelbak. The convenience of having such an easily accessible larger quantity of water is priceless!
  4. Invest in a water filter. Be it one on your freezer door, a pitcher you keep filled in your fridge or something affixed to your faucet – make sure you’re drinking the good, clean stuff! Some areas are fortunate enough to have great tap water, but be aware either way.
  5. Do whatever it takes to learn to love it. Well, almost. While I can’t get behind products that add artificial dyes and flavors to water, I’ve heard enough people say something along the lines of “but I just don’t like the taste of water” as a reason for not drinking enough that I can see the value in adding certain things to make it more palatable. My recommendation to that end starts and finishes with fruit and/or herbs. A few squeezes or dropped in slices of citrus, strawberries (sliced or muddled), cucumber slices, melon or fresh herbs like mint or basil can infuse your water with a refreshing delicate flavor. Get really creative with it, add some sparkling water and you have yourself a beautiful and healthy “mocktail”!

I try and limit my occasional bottled water purchases to two main types: carbonated or specialty – though in a pinch, I’ll grab just about anything if I’m otherwise without. I particularly love Pellegrino, Perrier and Trader Joes’ fizzy water. And I was recently introduced to Balance water, a company founded in Australia that infuses different flower essences into their various waters, elevating plain bottled water to produce a functional wellness beverage that is non-flavored. I love the idea that this water is infused with natural, health-supportive extracts (but tastes like plain water) and feel great drinking it as part of my overall water intake. It’s actually the first still bottled water other than simple spring water that I’ve really enjoyed, so I do recommend checking them out!

What it comes down to is doing whatever works for you to make sure you’re staying appropriately hydrated. Let the good in - with water!

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Berry-Mango-Banana Granola Smoothie Bowl

by letthegoodin on May 22, 2014

Berry Mango Banana Granola Smoothie Bowl

In a smoothie rut? Change things up by making a smoothie bowl! It’s an amazing breakfast – or dessert, for that matter. Really the only difference between this and a “regular” smoothie is that it’s a little bit thicker, to make for easier spoon consumption. The added bit of granola into the blended mix adds a nice touch of texture, as do the toppings.

It’s a delicious dose of superfoods – and I think you’ll be addicted from your first spoonful!

Recipe: Berry-Mango-Banana Granola Smoothie Bowl

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Collard Greens Veggie Rice WrapsWith warmer weather comes, often, the desire to eat lighter foods. It’s like our bodies are in tune with the seasons, which is no coincidence if you ask me, and this symmetry works out perfectly as new crops of spring and summer produce become available.

Collard greens, like other sturdy leafy greens, are a great replacement for a tortilla or other grain-based wrap – and can be used in just about any dish you’d typically use a “regular” wrap. A very quick steam adds just a touch of give and a boost of brightness (in flavor and color!) to the leaf, making it easier to work with and eat. And by throwing in an array of fresh, beautiful, crisp produce – you’re not just eating healthy, you’re eating your colors!

Eating a variety of naturally colorful foods – aka fruits and vegetables – helps ensure you’re getting the array of nutrients you need, from vitamins and minerals to antioxidants – all of the good and important stuff.

OXO Julienne PeelerFor assembling the wraps, I find that julienne or finely-slivered vegetables are best. Dicing would work too. If you want to julienne some like I did – highly recommend for carrots and cucumbers in particular – I can’t recommend highly enough purchasing a julienne peeler, like the “OXO Good Grips Julianne Peeler” (available on Zappos with free shipping and through many other retailers too). Works like a charm – so easy and quick! Also making this recipe even easier is a bamboo steamer (we have this one from Sur la Table – it’s a pretty inexpensive and worthwhile investment!).

These collard veggie wraps are good enough to become a household staple. Doctor them up as you see fit – change what you put inside, use different herbs and dipping sauces or seasonings, etc. If you want a side, some roasted sweet potatoes (cut into large chunks, toss with fresh minced garlic and a little coconut oil, and roast at 425 till browning on the outside and soft inside) are a great match. Experiment and enjoy!

Recipe: Collard Green Veggie Wraps with Garlic-Coconut Brown Rice

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Southwest Chopped Salad Platter

March 27, 2014

Salads full of bright, fresh vegetables don’t need much help in the beauty department – but there’s something about laying out all of the components on a platter that adds a bit of elegance to the presentation. This Southwest Chopped Salad Platter – kind of like an elevated taco salad – is nutrient-packed and very [...]

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The Daily Good – Dried Green Juice by Aloha

March 11, 2014

Fresh juice is a beautiful thing – refreshing, delicious and extremely nutritious. Green juice varieties in particular can be extremely revitalizing, detoxifying, nourishing, energizing and hydrating. However, buying enough produce (especially organic) to make desirable quantities of green juice on a very frequent basis can get expensive – as can buying it made-to-order from Whole [...]

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Peach Berry Cherry Super Smoothie

February 26, 2014

When I concoct a smoothie I love, it tends to become my default somewhat indefinitely – like this berry-blend I wrote about not too long ago. But this morning I was forced to deviate, having unexpectedly run out of the mixed berries we usually have stocked in the freezer. Luckily, we happened to have unopened [...]

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5-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse Pudding

February 26, 2014

The “secret” ingredient? Avocado! No excuse to let any avocados go bad again – the riper, the better for this recipe. Kind of like how bananas are to banana bread, so are avocados to this mousse pudding. And there’s no cooking involved – just blending – couldn’t be easier. Deeply chocolate, rich and silky – [...]

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Whipped Raspberry Buttercream

February 23, 2014

Cupcakes that taste like brownies masquerading as cake, topped with a fluffy raspberry buttercream and a dark chocolate drizzle. Eggs and dairy will never be missed. I’m not usually a huge buttercream fan, but this one – maybe because of the splash of fresh raspberry – has me thinking twice. Time to get messy in [...]

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