Spinach Dip

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I used to make spinach dip all the time. It’s quite simple and always a crowd pleaser, so it was a no brainer. Then, I stopped eating dairy, and my spinach dip days were over…until now! Granted, I have to thank Lipton for the taste, since all I did was mix everything else together. Nonetheless, here is a dairy-free dip you can make in under five minutes flat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 packet of Lipton’s Vegetable Soup and Dip Mix
  • 2/3 cup Vegenaise (or any vegan mayo, but this is the one I like best)
  • 1 frozen package of chopped spinach, thawed

Steps:

  1. Mash everything together and serve with bread, vegetables, or chips. Enjoy!
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Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Cups

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I had way too much fun photographing these guys because they’re just too cute! Perhaps they could have a more polished appearance, but I think that rugged, ‘rustic-ness’ is what gives them their charm. Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself…

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There are three layers, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to add to each layer, so I kinda just played around with them. I wanted to add a fruity, jelly layer, but considering I was trying out a new chocolate recipe, I decided to hold off on trying to be too creative ;). Maybe I’ll play around with another recipe tomorrow since Mayor de Blasio just closed all of New York City’s public schools!!!

I made a similar crust when I created my raw cheesecake recipe, so I knew that this would work well, too. Likewise, the filling closely resembles the aforementioned recipe, in that they both include cashews, maple syrup, and coconut oil; however, there are a few (major) alterations that give this dessert a totally different flavor. I added two cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut, but it was the addition of the almond extract that gave it that extra zing!

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I tried making a chocolate frosting once to add to one of my pancake stacks, but I must’ve added too much of something, and not enough of something else, because the texture was off and so was the taste. This time around, however, the cacao and coconut oil gods were on my side, and it came out perfectly, and I couldn’t stop eating it. Even if you never make this recipe, seriously consider at least making the chocolate icing, because it takes about one minute, tastes better than any icing I’ve ever had, and is kind to your body. Oh, and by the way – if you minus the extracts, these miniature sized pieces of heaven are completely raw, too.

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Ingredients: (Makes about 18 dessert cups)

Filling

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil *
  • 5 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional: pinch of salt
  • optional: 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut

Crust

  • 10 Medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts

Icing

  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

*I always use extra virgin coconut oil, especially when the recipe calls for it to remain in its raw state.

Soaked Cashews
Soaked Cashews
Filling
Filling
Cashew Filling with Coconut
Cashew Filling with Coconut
Date, Almond, and Walnut Mixture
Date, Almond, and Walnut Mixture
About 2 teaspoons of mixture pressed into each cup
About 2 teaspoons of mixture pressed into each cup

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Then add the cashew filling
Then add the cashew filling
Smooth, Creamy Icing
Smooth, Creamy Icing

Steps:

  1. Soak cashews for at least three hours. Like last time, my cashews were soaking for about 30 hours because I never got around to it when I thought I would. All the same.
  2. In a blender or food processor, mix all of the ingredients for the filling, except the coconut, together. The texture should be smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the coconut. Set aside and prepare your crust.
  4. Blend the dates, almonds, and walnuts in a blender/food processor.
  5. Use wax paper to line your baking dish for easy removal. I used cupcake tins, but a pie dish would work as well.
  6. Press about 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of the crust mixture into each cupcake holder. If using a pie dish, pour in the entire concoction. Press down using your fingers or a spoon.
  7. Pour in equal amounts of the filling. I used about 2 teaspoons of filling per cupcake holder. Press down using your fingers or a spoon.
  8. To prepare the icing, simply add all three ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk together. After about 30 seconds, the mixture thickens. Apply about 1 teaspoon onto each dessert cup and smooth out with a spoon.
  9. Place in freezer for at least one hour. I felt very accomplished after peeling back the wax paper and setting my eyes on those beauties! Enjoy ❤

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Tempeh Meatballs

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First off, I’d like to announce that balanced bella is now on Facebook! It’s not that I didn’t thiiink of creating a Facebook page awhile back, I just didn’t think it was necessary since I was linking my recipe posts to my personal Facebook page. What I’m realizing now, is that it’d be an easier place for us to share our thoughts on recipes that have been tried and questions regarding other recipes. I still love the Facebook messages and texts, so feel free to continue that, but I think (and hope) you’ll receive a greater response if your question/comment is read by many of us with similar thoughts, ideas, and interests. For example, perhaps you’ve tried a recipe but added your own special twist to it – I’d be very interested in reading that! My hopes are that you’ll “like” my balanced bella Facebook page and that it’ll be warmly accepted and enhance communication further. Now onto the meatballs!

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I use tempeh quite often in my rice/quinoa bowls by lightly sautéing it in peanut oil; however, blending tempeh and creating meatballs was something I’ve never done and a complete game changer. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but is often mixed with other grains like rice and barley. Unlike tofu, tempeh is a non-processed, fermented food which makes digestion a whole lot easier on the body. Tofu is still more popular and mainstream, but tempeh is making its way up the ranks. Tempeh packs twice as much protein per ounce than tofu and has a nuttier, more flavorful taste, in my opinion.

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Maybe it’s because I’m used to eating tempeh, or because I haven’t eaten conventional meatballs in years, but I made these the other night and I couldn’t stop patting myself on the back! I just think they were super delicious – the taste, the texture… I actually liked them better without the sauce, which I thought was an accomplishment in itself, because I thought if they were just okay then at least the sauce would mask some of the tempeh flavor. But no, they were dope! With this recipe, I think I’ve found a new appetizer to make for a future party. I’m thinking much smaller balls with a tangy dipping sauce like an aioli or a sweet and sour. One block of tempeh produced 6 medium sized meatballs, so if you’re making these for more than two people, I’d multiply the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 block of tempeh (8 oz)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 chia egg*
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • brown rice flour (or flour of your choice) for dusting

* chia egg = 1 Tbsp chia seeds + 1/4 cup of water. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes.

Steps:

  1. Boil a few cups of water. Once boiling, add tempeh and let simmer for 10 minutes (I broke mine up into a few pieces.) This process makes the tempeh softer and easier to work with.
  2. Add the tempeh and garlic to a food processor/blender and mix. I used a blender, so I chopped the garlic before adding it to make sure there were no large chunks remaining after blended.
  3. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the chia egg, parsley, basil, oregano, and salt. You could just add these ingredients into the food processor/blender, but I found the tempeh mixture to be quite dense that I didn’t think the spices would blend properly.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on a medium/high heat.
  6. Pour the flour into a small bowl and roll each ball around, coating completely.
  7. Add the meatballs to the hot oil and turn them every few minutes, getting them lightly browned all around. Continue this for about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the meatballs and place on paper towels for two minutes to remove excess oil. (I like using a cardboard box underneath, too.)
  9. Place on a baking sheet and bake for an additional 20 minutes to get a beautifully crispy outside, and a soft, chewy inside!

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Buffalo Cauliflower and Creamy Dip

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These cauliflower nuggets have been on my recipe-to-do list for a year now, but many cauliflower heads have come and gone, none of them making the coveted buffalo cauliflower recipe. Even when I’d had all the ingredients, I’d still let the produce sit in the refrigerator until a) it became moldy, or b) I chopped it up halfheartedly and threw it in another recipe. I made it once last week just to get the recipe right, and it’s all I’ve been wanting to eat ever since – it’s awesome, and perfect for a healthy Superbowl snack. This cruciferous vegetable is jam packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It helps aid in digestion and detoxification. I’ll try to post other recipes like cauliflower crust and cauliflower mash soon enough!

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It’s been a whirlwind of a winter so far. First off, Justin and I got married! We’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years living together, and within that time my heart has been filled with happiness and fulfillment, so we made it official on December 24, 2014 ❤  On another note, the BB lunches are doing very well! I’m making a little over 30 lunches each week, so Wednesdays are quite hectic, yet very enjoyable. I really love making these lunches, and I definitely want to do them more than one day a week; however, being a fourth grade teacher and doing a drama club program after school for the junior high students, I simply don’t have extra time right now (but I’ll figure that out down the line).

Justin and me on our wedding day. Running in the rain in between courthouses. This selfie was the only picture we took <3
Justin and me on our wedding day. Running in the rain in between courthouses. This selfie was the only picture we took, and I couldn’t be more elated with it.

Ingredients:

Creamy Dip

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp vegenaise (or another thick, non-dairy substitute like vegan cream cheese or olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • generous pinch of salt

Buffalo Cauliflower

  • 1 cup brown rice flour (or any flour of your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 head of cauliflower (I didn’t use all of mine)
  • 2 Tbsp butter of your choice (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2/3 cup hot sauce

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Steps:

  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least 3 hours.  I wound up soaking mine for about 24 hours, unintentionally. Use enough water to, at least, cover the cashews; I used about 2 cups.
  2. In a food processor/high speed blender, blend all of the dip ingredients together.  I chopped the parsley before putting it in the blender to ensure a smooth overall texture. Set aside while preparing the cauliflower portion.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, add brown rice flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Mix.
  5. Next, add in water and stir well. This batter will be very dense.
  6. Rinse, dry, and cut cauliflower into bite size bits. Place each piece in the batter, coating evenly. Then place each piece on a baking sheet.
  7. Place the cauliflower in the oven for 15 minutes. During this time, prepare your buffalo sauce.
  8. In a small bowl, heat up the butter so it’s in liquid form.
  9. Then, add the hot sauce and mix well.
  10. When the cauliflower is ready, remove from the oven and dip each piece in the buffalo sauce (or use a brush to paint each piece with sauce).
  11. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with chives and celery or carrots and enjoy!

*This serves 1-2 people. If you’re planning on making this for a party, multiply the recipe as needed.

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