June 2019 Cooking Class – Taco Salad, Ranch Dressing and Oatmeal Cookies

June 23, 2019

June’s cooking class was all about summer fun. Cooking up something simple, nutritious and delicious in no time at all.  Inspired by Dr. Greger’s video Antioxidants in a Pinch : Dried Herbs and Spices, we focused on adding herbs and spices to our food as a nutritional booster. And as usual, the menu included beans, greens, and berries.

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An exciting addition to this class was the presence of three young folk – 2 who were fifteen years old and a 10 year old, who love to cook. Hopefully they were inspired to think about the nutritional value of foods as well as deliciousness. With the kids in mind, instead of a salad we had raw veggies with a creamy ranch dressing/dip. Our main entree was a build your own taco bar. Dessert was fresh organic strawberries and oatmeal cookies. All whole food plant based, and gluten free. And as a bonus, we whipped up a fantastic Pesto with fresh basil from my greenhouse.

We started our class with a Tropical Green Smoothie. I will have to admit, this one was inspired by a McDonald’s commercial for their Banana, Pineapple and Mango Smoothie. But with added oats, greens, flax and spices, this one packs a big nutritional punch.

Tropical Green Smoothie with Oat Milk

For those new to green smoothies, start with less greens and build up. Some for the ginger and turmeric. Both Ginger and Turmeric are great spices with lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

This smoothie is made with plant milk. For a change, we used oat milk. Oats are locally grown and oat milk is easy to make from ordinary rolled oats. For the class, we used spinach, freshly picked from my garden, in the smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pitted date
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1 orange
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger (or ¼ to ½ tsp dry)
  • ½ inch piece fresh turmeric (or 1/8 to ¼ tsp dry)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 to 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks

Directions


Place water, date and rolled oats in a blender. Blend until smooth. (If you were making oat milk for use in another recipe, you would strain this milk through a nutbag or similar cloth to remove the pulp. For the smoothie, we left the pulp in) Note: you can substitute the oat milk with any plant milk of your choice, or with water.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender with the oat milk and process until smooth.

Creamy Ranch Dressing

This Creamy Ranch Dressing also works perfect as a dip. Made with a combination of cashews and tofu it is smooth and creamy and lower in fat. The recipe is a slightly modified version of Kim Campbell’s in The PlantPure Kitchen. The dressing/dip adds the herbs parsley and dill to your diet.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup packed firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh)

Directions


(If not using a high speed blender, soak cashews for 2 hours. Drain.) Place all ingredients in a blender except for parsley and dill, starting with ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth, added more water if needed. Once creamy, taste and adjust seasonings. Then add parsley and dill and pulse to blend in.

Taco Bar

Tacos make a great weekday meal. Prepare your “taco meat” and sour cream ahead of time (both freeze well) for a fast, delicious, nutritious meal sure to please everyone. Serve it in a taco shell, lettuce wrap, in a burrito shell or as a salad. The taco filling is chock full of herbs and spices for flavor and nutrition.

This recipe was inspired by Angela Liddon’s Ultimate Green Taco Wraps in the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook, the Amazing Cauliflower Tacos from brandnewvegan.com and the Taco Salad at Circle Kitchen, a plantbased restaurant in Winnipeg.

Ingredients

  • Taco Meat:
    • 1 cup cooked green or brown lentils
    • 1 cup walnut pieces
    • ½ small head of cauliflower
    • 1 ½ cup beans, 1 can rinsed and drained (black, pinto, chili, etc)
    • 1 cup cooked brown rice, or more as desired
    • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce (optional, gluten free if necessary))
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari (gluten free if necessary)
    • 2 tbsp chili powder
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder or granules
    • 1 tsp onion powder or granules
    • 2 tsp oregano
    • ¼ tsp black pepper
    • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

In a food processor, place walnuts and lentils and pulse until coarsely chopped (about the consistency of rice). Remove and place in a bowl. Place cauliflower florets in the food processor and pulse until about the consistency of rice. Remove and place about 2 cups of cauliflower rice in the bowl with the lentils and walnuts. Add tamari and Worcestershire, if using, and toss to coat. Mix spices in a small bowl and then add to taco meat bowl. Toss well to coat. Place mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Or place in a nonstick frying pan and heat on medium heat until cauliflower is cooked through. Add the beans and rice to the mixture.

Ingredients

  • Veggies:
    • 2 peppers, any color
    • 1 red onion
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Slice peppers and onions in long thin strips. Dry saute in a non-stick pan until onions are translucent. Add water or broth, 1 tbsp at a time if necessary to keep from sticking. Season with salt and pepper.

Ingredients

  • Cashew Sour Cream:
    • 1 cup raw cashews
    • ½ cup cooked white beans
    • ½ to ¾ cup water
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 to 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
    • ½ tsp onion powder (optional)
    • ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)

Directions

Soak cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain. Place all ingredients in a blender, beginning with ½ cup water. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary to keep moving.

Ingredients

  • Toppings:
    • Lettuce or greens
    • Tomatoes, diced
    • Avocado, diced
    • Green onions, sliced
    • Cilantro, chopped
    • Sriracha
    • Salsa
    • Lime wedges

Directions

For a Taco Salad – in a pasta bowl, place a bed of chopped lettuce or greens. Add a layer of the peppers and onions. Sprinkle with the taco meat. Top with tomatoes, avocados, green onion, and cilantro ,as you desire. Add Sour Cream and Sriracha (if desired) and squeeze some lime juice over it all.

The taco meat can also be served in a lettuce cup, taco shell or burrito wrap.

Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie recipe is inspired by Rip’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies in the Engine 2 Cookbook and a date sweetened oatmeal cookie from straightupfood.com  By blending your oats into oat flour in your food processor and then adding the dates, you  can finely chop the dates easily.

The dough should be sticky enough to form into balls.

The first time I made this recipe I used homemade almond butter which was on the dry side. I found I needed a touch of milk to get it to hold together. During the class, we made the cookies using purchased peanut butter and no milk was necessary.

Adding cinnamon to your cookies is a great way to enhance the nutritional value.

Ingredients

  • 12 Medjool Dates, pitted
  • 2 cups rolled oats, divided
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, raisons, cranberries or walnut pieces

Directions

Pitt the Medjool Dates. In a food processor, place 1 ½ cups of the rolled oats and process until the oats are ground to a fine flour. Add the flax, baking powder and cinnamon and process until incorporated. Add dates one at a time and processes until finely chopped and incorporated into the flour mixture. Add almond butter and process until fully incorporated. Remove from food processor and place in a bowl. Add vanilla and maple syrup. Mix well. (Note: if your nut butter was very dry, you may find the mixture too dry to form a ball. If so, add a tablespoon or tow of plant based milk, one tablespoon at a time, adding just enough to allow the mixture to hold together.)

Add chocolate chips, dried fruit of chopped nuts. Mix well. Form into 1 to 2 inch balls and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet 5 to 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Pesto

When packing up for the cooking class, I found the basil in my greenhouse ready for a good haircut. I took the basil with me and made up a batch of my favorite pesto from foodrevolution.org. Served with Mary’s seed crackers. This recipe freezes really well and is a great way to put away an abundance of fresh summer basil to enjoy of the winter months.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups basil
  • ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper
  • About 4 tbsp water ( to thin)

Directions

Place all ingredients, except water, in food processor or blender. Blend, adding water as necessary to thin out.

Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.

Don’t forget, summer is a great time to enjoy nature’s bounty of fresh fruit and veggies. Strawberry season is upon us, and nothing beats the taste of fresh organic strawberries.  They make a great dessert, and so easy you don’t need a recipe to prepare them. Eat your berries, every day!

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