Superfood Apples

Many thanks to KosmicKoala, of Instagram, for inspiring me to take her wonderful recipe and expanding it to make to these: ‘superfood apples’.

There have been a few moments throughout my vegan journey, that I’ve lamented the sugary and processed munchies of the autumn season. While the list of food items is short, they still have had a substantial grip on my seasonal palate. I was able to make great modifications and updates to my favorite traditionally unhealthy treats and dishes, but I just couldn’t dig deep enough to find the creative energy to address my hunkering for a caramel apple. As I recall eating a regular caramel apple, it always ended with my tongue struggling to get the sugary artificial toffee-like paste off the roof of your month. Ahhhh, the memories.  I know you are thinking, why would I want to recreate that experience? But it was never the texture I was enthralled with; it was the sharp contrasting taste of a tart apple, sweet buttery toffee, and the flavor of the nutty combo of peanuts and almonds.

I stayed pretty close to Sara's original recipe, but adjusted some ingredients for an added flare. I used roasted macadamia nut butter instead of almond butter; I also substituted out the almond milk for pecan milk, and lastly I decided to add a spiced chai dimension, by using my favorite DoTerra essential oil chai blend. [stay tuned for that oil recipe blend] Some things to note ahead of time, this recipe creates a softer ‘caramel’. So it’s best to refrigerate the coated apples for at least 30 minutes prior to adding the toppings. To keep my sweet tooth in check, I also decided to use the smaller organic fuji apples. But you can definitely use any size and any type of apple of your choice.

If you make this recipe or one similar, please leave a comment below.

Happy Apple Candying!

Ingredients:

-       1 ½ cup of soaked dates

-       ¾ cup pecan milk (or whatever nut/seed milk on hand)

-       ¼ cup roasted macadamia nut butter (again, whatever nut better you have on hand)

-       2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

-       1 tbsp lemon juice

-       1 tsp vanilla extract (1/2 vanilla bean scrapped)

-       2 tsp cinnamon

-       1 tsp ginger

-       ½ tsp nutmeg

-       ¼ tsp cardamom

-       pinch of ground cloves

-       pinch of sea salt

toppings:

-       ¼ cup goji berries

-       ¼ cup shredded coconut

-       3 tbsp of hemp seeds

-       ¼ cup pecan pieces

-       sprinkle of cinnamon and vanilla bean flakes

Directions:

Clean and dry apples well and set aside. Process the dates down first using a food process. Get it as smooth as possible before adding any other ingredients. Next add milk, nut better, and lemon juice. Continue to process down until it’s nice and smooth, and possibly a bit too thick. Add all remaining ingredients, except coconut oil. Once the mixture is smooth and there aren’t large noticeable pieces of dates, then add the coconut oil to a running food processor.

Place skewers or sticks through apples before covering with caramel sauce. Coat well and refrigerate for at least 30minutes.

For the toppings, use the pulse button 5 to 6 times to break down the individual toppings into small pieces, mainly the nuts and goji berries.  Don’t mix toppings before they are processed down. The goji berries can ‘gum’ up the processor and make a mess of the other ingredients. Spread out your toppings on a sheet of parchment paper. Gently roll coated apples through toppings; or scoop spoonful of toppings and sprinkle heavily around apples. When completely covered, place the covered apples back into the refrigerator. 

Mini Jack Fruit Tacos

The first time I ever saw a jackfruit, I thought I’d stumbled upon some kind of pre-historic dinosaur cage, or perhaps they were elephant eggs. I was already in a very foreign place to begin with, an Asian Grocery Market. I decide to venture out on my own to visit this magnificent space, as I was told that they had all kinds of exotic vegetables and fruits that were great for plant-based eaters like myself. Boldly going to a place, unguided, I felt immediately intimidated walking through the door, as every sense I have was bombarded with uncommon newness. Sounds of the shoppers speaking in various Asian tongues; Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, all picking and selecting interestingly colored and shaped fruits and vegetables; and the smells, pungent, strong, earthly. I didn’t know I could have such an experience in middle-America. This was one of those defining moments that let you know how much you really don’t know.

Perusing through the aisles I came across these huge oddly shaped and most unforgiving smelling fruit (side note: still at this point I had not seen or smelt a Durian; so to my ignorance the jackfruit was the king of weird smells and sight, that changed immediately after my Durian experience, more about that later.) I became deeply disturbed by their size and smell, and for the next few visits to the Asian Market, I purposely avoided that section of the produce aisle. Talk about ignorance!

About one whole year later, I finally tasted jackfruit. A favorite Indian restaurant of my husband’s had an offering of curried jackfruit on the hot bar. I was amazed as its taste and texture. I ran home to research more about it. It was then that the ‘Vegan-Gods’ smiled upon me and granted me the access of unlimited greatness, known as Jackfruit. For years plant-based eaters around the world consume this fruit in many different ways. Best savory applications occur when the jackfruit is young and brined, similar to olives. The brining process helps remove all the sweetness and distinct jackfruit flavor. Fresh jackfruit is extremely sweet with a strong fruity flavor. My taste buds experience a tangy pineapple and cherry combination when I have it fresh. The popular 1980’s chewing gum ‘Juicy Fruit’ is artificially flavored after the jackfruit. So you have probably tasted it and didn’t even know it J You can get a can of young jackfruit at most Asian grocers. The possibilities are needless when using it. Most common vegan American dishes that use jackfruit typically are ‘BBQ pull-pork style’ sandwiches, ‘Chicken-bits’ for pizza toppings, and tacos.

Like most Texans, I like my food to have bold flavor, especially my tacos. My recipe for the jackfruit tacos while dangerously delicious is on the spicier side of life. So please adjust the heat by decreasing, or eliminating, the jalapeno and crushed red pepper flakes. If you like more moisture in your taco fillings, try adding a chopped tomato. Cook the tomato along with the marinated jackfruit. I typically like topping my tacos with a purple slaw and some slices of fresh avocado, but you can try of Daiya shredded cheddar or just some finely shredded romaine lettuce. But be creative and fearless with this recipe. This recipe will yield about 5 mini size tacos. So it’s great to share or save for another meal.

 

Mini Jackfruit Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 16oz can of young green jackfruit (not fresh)
  • 2 - 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of diced red bell pepper
  • 3 tbsp of diced white onion
  • ¼ to 1/3 of diced jalapeno (or a Serrano for more heat J)
  • 1 ½ tbsp of chipotle chili powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • ½ tsp of garlic powder
  • ½ tsp of onion powder
  • ¼ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp of dried oregano
  • ½ tsp of hot smoked paprika
  • 4 – 6 tbsp of avocado oil or grapeseed oil

Instructions

Drain jackfruit from can and rinse well. Remove any large seed pods from the ‘meaty’ chunks. Cut jackfruit chunks down into smaller pieces. Take a fork and separate the small chunks into ‘bits’, resembling something like pulled-pork. In a medium-sized bowl combine the prepped jackfruit and all the spices. Toss well and set aside for a quick marinade. This can be done ahead of time, and allowed to marinate for a longer time, the longer the better. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-heat. Sautee onions and peppers for 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Don’t let the garlic brown too much, this will make it taste bitter. Now add your jackfruit and stir well. Make sure it does not stick. Reduce heat and cover with lid. Continue to simmer on low for an addition 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh cilantro. Serve with fresh diced tomatoes and warmed mini organic corn tortillas.  

Enjoy! 

Hatch Chile Chickpea Burgers

It's Hatch Chile season here in the great state of Houston City (wink!). So this recipe was more than fitting for this occasion. Hatch Chiles weren't always a part of my life (weep), honestly, I never had, nor heard, of a Hatch Chile pepper prior to my move in 2008. It was it's amazing aroma that caught my initial attention. All the major grocers in Houston fire up their grills, and for a limited time, offer fresh flame roasted chiles by the batch. I was hooked and the chile had won my tastebuds over. Whether mild or hot, they make a wonderful flavor statement to almost any dish. Similar in size and shape as an Anaheim pepper, Hatch Chiles are harvested in the New Mexico Valley region and transported all over the world for brief 2 month period (July through August). I describe it's unique flavor as a slightly spicy and peppery tomatillo. Just great. The recipe below is a simple level 1 on the vegan cooking scale. 


Hatch Chile Burger Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of prepared chickpeas (slightly warmed)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp + 3 tbsp of water)
  • 1/4 cup of veggie broth (or 2 tbsp of avocado oil) 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of hatch chile pepper (diced)
  • 1/4 of small yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup + more of whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Avocado oil (or other oil of choice) for light coating to fry  

Instructions

First, make your 'flax seed' and set it aside. Double this just in case your patties aren't sticking well together, you can always use a little or as much as you want. To get best flavor from the hatch chiles, you will want to sauté first before adding them to the chickpea 'mash'. To keep the oil content low, I like to use a 'water sauté' method than constantly bathing everything in oil. This works well and can have a very similar effect on the veggies. Simply add veggie broth to a pan and heat on medium-heat. Add the onions, chiles, and garlic and cook until brown; not burnt. If it gets too dry or starts to stick, simply just add a splash or two more of the veggie broth. Once done, remove and set aside. 

Now the fun! It always easy to make any bean-style burger or patties when the beans are warm or just under hot. They just work together easier. So if using canned beans heat them quickly in a pan, or forbid thrown them in the microwave for a 1 minute. Don't let them dry out, just warm them up a bit. You can also use some veggie broth for some added flavor during this process. 

Using a potato masher, mash down the chickpeas well. Making sure to get about 90% to 95% mashed. I like to have a few whole beans in the patties for added texture. If you are short on time, you can also, just throw about half into a food processor and pulse it a few times to break them up and crumble them down; not make hummus. Once beans are nice and mashed add your sauté veggies and mix them in well. Salt and pepper to your taste; even throw in a dash of paprika or cayenne, whatever you want. Lastly, fold in your flax egg. Making sure it's well incorporated. If the mixture doesn't seem like its 'holding' together well, just add a bit more flax egg, and perhaps a 'tad-bit' of veggie broth. I portioned out about 1/3 of cup and made nice round patty balls and placed in the frig for about 30minutes to 1 hour. Just long enough to sit and stay well intact. 

Now shape your patties and press them gently into a bed of breadcrumbs. Press on both sides and roll them along their sides, making sure they are well coated (see pic below). 

Heat a large frying pan over medium-heat with a good high heat oil like Avocado or Coconut Oil. Fry patties for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove and place of a sheet of paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve on whole wheat buns or as a main entree.