What would cashews have to do with jalapeno nacho cheese dip? Let’s consult my handy dandy 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden… it says “A lot.” Cashews are in fact the base of this dip and before you dismiss this as hippie quackery I urge you to give it a try.
Cashews and nuts in general have been scientifically shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and attacks. It does this through its monounsaturated content which raises good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers the bad (LDL). Cashews are rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese and selenium. Add to that 5 g of protein and 1 g of fiber per ounce. Have I mentioned that it’s delicious? Just ask my meat-eating-Sarah’s-a-crazy-hippie friend who said “Frito Lay Jalapeno Dip? Yeah I love that stuff! Oh but this is waaaay better.”
Jalapeño Cheese Dip (adapted from Amy Healy)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (fresh or roasted)
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for a few hours then drained – optional step)
- 1 medium slice of fresh onion, diced (or 2 tsp onion powder)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp pink salt
- 2-3 T nutritional yeast (try it!)
- 4 T water +/-
- 2 T fresh lemon juice (~1/2 lemon)
- 1/2-3 jalapeño pepper with seeds
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Blend all ingredients in a VitaMix, blender or food processor until smooth. Refrigerate.
Put it on some of these recipes or try it on any of your own:
For a comparison to Frito Lay Jalapeno Cheddar Dip let’s look at the obvious. The Frito Lay Jalapeno Cheddar dip lists MSG twice in the ingredients; once as monosodium glutamate and the other as autolyzed yeast extract (yep, that’s MSG!).
I have always had a slight curiosity about making jam. Jam holds a special place in the lives of some people, and because of that those people know what the difference is between jam and jelly.
Since I didn’t know what the difference was, I thought I would enlighten myself, lucky you!
- Jam is a squishy, somewhat homogenous spread where the original fruit is included and remains at least partially intact.
- Jelly is a cooked fruit juice that has set, with no actual pieces of fruit in it.
- Marmalade is a balanced combination of clear jelly with pieces of fruit suspended in it.
- Preserves has fruit that comes in the form of chunks in a syrup or a jam.
Although this special interest in jam-making existed, I also know that a revolt was brewing in America before jam was provided to the mainstream. When cooking something elicits the term “equipment” I forget any and all interest. But when the last issue of Vegetarian Times came, there was a spread on food preserving. One woman makes preserves in her crock pot/slow cooker! I can do that! However I wanted a thicker consistency than preserves so Jon could have his PB&J. Without wanting to buy pectin or gelatin and go into unknown territory, I decided that agar powder would probably do. I know it’s a vegan thickener and I’ve used it in pumpkin pie with success. But finding another person who had enacted the same idea but using blueberries and a cane sugar alternative was a loss. Blueberries are different from say, grapes or apples, since they naturally contain pectin. Keep that in mind when using this recipe; the agar powder may not be necessary if your fruit is naturally high in pectin already.
Blueberry Peach Jam (makes 1 quart)
- 2 lbs 4 oz fresh blueberries
- 1 lb fresh peaches (2 good-sized ones), pitted-peeling is optional
- 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
- 3 tsp +/- agar agar powder (omit if making preserves)
- Place fruit and syrup in the crock pot and place on High-fastest cook time (mine was 4 hours).
- Halfway through cooking, gently stir.
- After cooking for 3 hours, add the agar powder and stir it in. If you want yours thicker than mine, use more. (Agar flakes are not the same as agar powder).
- When the fruit is done, remove the inner dish and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes.
- I used a stick blender to puree the fruit. You can also use a potato masher if you don’t mind chunky fruit.
- Refrigerate and use within 1 week or freeze and use within 3 months.
I think this spread would also be amazing on goat cheese, frozen yogurt or yogurt. If it were a bit more syrupy, it would be great on pancakes or mixed with the crumble crust from the blueberry cobbler.
My grandma had passed on to me her famous banana bread recipe (aren’t all Grandmas’ recipes famous?), and I have not made it in such a long time. I don’t use any cooking flours so finding this flour-free cookie was great! I went home with the intent of making the original coconut banana cookie and realized I was out of coconut. Remembering a former substitute of coconut and oats I figured it was fail-proof. Totally.
Kids (and my husband) LOVE these cookies. They are absolutely delicious and they travel so well! 4 ingredients never tasted so good!
Banana Bread Cookies (adapted from here)
- 8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- water to cover dates
- 1 medium banana
- 1 cup oats, ground 1-2 seconds (not too fine!)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Optional: maple sugar granules and nutmeg
- Place the chopped dates in a bowl and fill with enough water to cover the dates. Soak for 25 minutes.
- In a bowl mix banana, oats and cinnamon.
- Drain the dates, then process dates and banana mixture in a blender or food processor. Small date chunks are delicious! In fact, if you can try to mince your dates, mixing with a fork would absolutely work.
- Drop 1 tablespoon of ‘dough’ onto teflex or parchment sheets on your dehydrator trays. You should get 24 cookies.
- Dehydrate until soft and chewy. I dehydrated at 140° (default setting) for 3 hours. I also sprinkled a bit of maple sugar on them. The added sweetness was totally unnecessary but it adds a buttery flavor that’s a nice treat.
Each cookie contains 40 calories, 11 carbs and 6 grams of sugar. Pretty great considering what a slice of traditional banana bread consists of. Sure it’s not a fairly exact comparison, but I really enjoy the portable, healthy, mess-free version. Plus it takes me about 15 minutes of prep. These will become a staple in my house now. What could be a more perfect distance bike ride snack? Great sugars with the dates and banana, some potassium and carbs, and not too much fiber. Sprinkle some salt in the dough and I think we’ve got a winner!