Dessert Nachos – healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and awesomely yummy!

Dessert Nachos

Dessert NachosHappy Birthday to this blog! Today it is three years old!

Recently I was flipping through cookbooks and I spotted a recipe for “dessert nachos” — where you thinly slice up an apple as the chips, then add caramel as the sauce and sprinkle on toppings.

That got me to thinking about trying it with the healthy vegan caramel sauce from the recipe for Banana Claw ice cream.

I tried making some, and my daughter and I liked it so much that I have been making it again every morning lately. It is a little addictive.

The best part is that it is so healthy that you can eat it for breakfast.

YUM!

I thought about saving this recipe to post in the autumn, since apples are not in season right now. But it is too good to wait.

For recipes that are in season now, I long all year for Chocolate Chip Fresh Cherry Bread. There’s also Zucchini Brownies. Also, Fresh Fruit Pie With Chocolate Brownie Crust is in season now and totally awesome!!! Yum!!!!!

Dessert Nachos - healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and awesomely yummy!
 
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Great as a dessert -- and healthy enough to be breakfast! Thinly slice up an apple as the chips, then add healthy vegan caramel as the sauce and sprinkle on toppings. YUM!!!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert or Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 small servings or 2 medium ones
Ingredients
  • 1 apple
  • 5-6 dates (with no pits or hard bits of stem)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons almond butter (for a nut-free version, try sunflower seed butter or soybutter instead)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt (optional but really good!)
  • Toppings such as 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, coconut bits, pomegranate seeds, etc.
Instructions
  1. In the smallest jar of a reliable blender, using a nut-butter blade if you have one, put the dates, almond butter, oil, water, and salt. Blend until very smooth. If the mixture isn't getting smooth easily, add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend again.
  2. Slice the apple into many thin slices.
  3. Divide the apple among four plates (for small servings) or two plates (for bigger servings). Add the caramel sauce on top, then sprinkle on the toppings.

 

Tiramisu in 14 minutes – healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, and can be vegan

Tiramisu
cake slices

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread, cut into twelve “ladyfinger” sticks for this recipe.

Last August my kids and I visited Toronto.

Usually when we travel, I am fanatical about planning ahead so that we will always have gluten-free food available. But this one time my teens talked me into winging it. We had the impression that every street corner in Toronto had one of those restaurants where you order a bowl of plain rice and then pick three toppings from one column and four toppings from the next column, and many of this type of restaurant can make safe gluten-free food. So in the morning we went to the Royal Ontario

cake after dipping

Cake after dipping

Museum. In the afternoon we planned to go see Castle Loma. Our map made it look like these places were about three blocks apart, so we decided to walk from the museum to the castle, eating lunch at a bowl-type restaurant along the way. Alas, our map was not to scale. It was far more than three blocks from one place to the other. We walked for a really long time through an endless residential neighborhood that had no stores or restaurants of any kind. Finally we found a tiny grocery store. Hungry and tired, we bought mainstream GMO-filled potato chips and ate those for lunch sitting on the sidewalk outside the store, occasionally interrupted by people

Cake with cashew cream added

Cake with cashew cream added

who needed us to move out of the way so that they could get in or out of the building. Definitely not our best meal ever!

When we started walking again, we almost immediately found an organic gluten-free mostly-raw restaurant called Live Organic Food Bar. It looked intriguing, so my kids and I went in. Having just gorged on potato chips, we weren’t very hungry, but I really wanted to try the food there, so we ordered desserts. I ordered an expensive little tiramisu that was AMAZING!!!! It had been maybe fifteen years since I last ate tiramisu, and

Finished tiramisu

Finished tiramisu

getting to have it again was a real treat.

Weeks later, at home again, I kept thinking about that amazing tiramisu. It wouldn’t be easy to go back to Toronto for more, so I decided to create my own. I had a tiramisu recipe that I had loved many years ago, so I used that as a starting point.

To my surprise, the tiramisu that I invented is very fast to make, over-the-top healthy, and over-the-top delicious!!!

Tiramisu in refrigerator

Tiramisu in refrigerator – these glass containers are great for making tiramisu. You can pop on the lid and store it easily in the refrigerator.

Traditional tiramisu is made with ladyfingers — long, thin cakelike cookies that are shaped like very large fingers. In this recipe you can use a wide variety of baked desserts cut into finger shapes, as the ladyfingers. I think cookies would work well too. I suggest using something that is not all-chocolate — though actually that too might be interesting. I have done this with Corbin’s muffin bread, and with chocolate chip pumpkin bread, but you could also use storebought cookies or cake or banana bread. Also I have seen gluten-free ladyfingers available at the store, though they don’t look at all healthy. The finished tiramisu will taste like whatever baked good you choose, so you should choose a baked item that you think would taste good inside tiramisu.

TiramisuIn the pictures, I used the super-healthy version of chocolate chip pumpkin bread — the second recipe on that page. That version has no refined sugar, and I add a lot of veggies, so in the pictures you may notice that the cake part looks a little green. That’s kale. It made an awesomely healthy tiramisu that tasted fantastic to me, but if you or your eaters are at all skeptical about kale in tiramisu, you can totally make this with some other baked item. Not everybody is as crazy about kale as me, and I completely respect that. You can make a very excellent tiramisu with this recipe without any kale, if that’s what you prefer.

Anyway, I hope you will try this recipe.  It makes an amazing tiramisu!

Tiramisu in 14 minutes - healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, and can be vegan
 
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This tiramisu takes only 14 minutes to make. It is delicious, and can be healthy, vegan, and gluten-free. Yum!!! Warning: Addictive!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: gluten-free
Serves: 3 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of baked goods, such as cookies, banana bread, Corbin's muffin bread, or chocolate chip pumpkin bread, or about 3 cups of cookies
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5 dates, pits and any bits of stem removed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 mug of coffee or espresso (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or cognac (optional - I leave it out)
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Brew a mug of coffee. (I have an ancient one-cup-at-a-time coffeemaker that makes it easy to brew just the right amount.)
  2. In a good blender, mix the cashews, water, dates, vanilla extract, and optional brandy or cognac. Blend until creamy-smooth. When the coffee is ready, add 1/2 tablespoon of coffee and blend until mixed.
  3. If you are using baked goods from a loaf, cut each of the four slices crosswise into three sticks, so that you end up with twelve finger-shaped sticks of baked goods. If you are using cookies you can skip this step.
  4. Pour the coffee into a small bowl, such as a cereal bowl. Have a fork and a loaf pan handy.
  5. A few at a time, put half of the baked goods into the coffee (that would be six "ladyfingers" or half of the cookies), then immediately use the fork to scoop them out again and put them crosswise into the loaf pan.
  6. Evenly pour half of the cashew mixture on top.
  7. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of baking cocoa evenly everywhere on top.
  8. Make a second layer: Dip the other half of the baked goods in the coffee, put them into the loaf pan, spread on the rest of the cashew cream and sprinkle on the rest of the baking cocoa powder.
  9. In theory you should refrigerate this for a few hours at this point, but it is really hard not to just dive in and start eating. It firms up a bit in the refrigerator, but even when it is liquidy from being freshly made it is still good.

 

Zucchini Brownies “Zeebies” – gluten-free, dairy-free, and healthy!

Zucchini Brownies


tower of zucchini browniesHappy Zucchini Season!!!

I have been making this recipe for years: Brownies that are full of zucchini!!! My kids clamor for more! All four of us love them, zucchini and all!

I love zucchini. All three of my kids hate zucchini, but all three kids love these brownies!

If you use the version of the recipe that is sweetened with dates instead of refined sugar, then this is one healthy recipe. I even ate it for breakfast this morning. Yum!

The initials for Zucchini Brownies are ZB, so my family calls these “Zeebies.”

The original recipe that this is based on is Cassie’s Zucchini Brownies from allrecipes.com, though my version is fairly different. I big pan of zucchini browniesmade it gluten-free, added lots more zucchini, replaced the walnuts with chocolate chips, removed the salt, and added an option to sweeten it with dates instead of refined sugar.

Tip: These brownies look much better if you use a classic green-colored zucchini in them. Yellow summer squash tastes fine too, but looks a little alarming.

Here is the recipe!

Zucchini Brownies "Zeebies" - gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy, and can be vegan!
 
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My zucchini-hating kids adore these brownies. They are healthy and delicious, gluten-free, and can be vegan. YUM!!!
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24 brownies
Ingredients
  • EITHER 2 cups of all-purpose flour, or 2 cups of gluten-free flour mix (I use 1/2 cup each of: teff flour, quinoa flour, potato starch, and garbanzo bean flour -- but any flour mix should work)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • EITHER 1 cup of white sugar OR 1 cup of dates, pits removed
  • EITHER 2 eggs OR 2 flax eggs
  • 2 to 6 cups grated zucchini -- don't salt it or drain it or anything, just grate it. A food processor is perfect for speedy grating.
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If you are using flax eggs, mix those up first, and let them sit for a couple of minutes.
  3. Oil the bottom and the bottom inch of the sides of a 9x13 inch baking pan -- a "lasagna pan".
  4. If you are using dates as the sweetener, put them into a food processor together with the eggs or flax eggs. Blend for several minutes, until it looks like a creamy and smooth mixture with some bits of date-skin in it. Then add the oil and blend just until mixed.
  5. Now put all of the ingredients, including the dates (if you are using them) and eggs or flax eggs, into a large mixing bowl. Stir until everything is mixed thoroughly. Check for pockets of unmixed flour, and stir those in too.
  6. The wetness of the mixture should be someplace between a dough and a batter. If it seems too stiff, stir in some water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it has the wetness of a dough.
  7. Put the mixture in the greased pan. Smooth it out with a spatula, so that the surface is flat and the mixture evenly covers the whole bottom of the pan.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes.
  9. Let cool, or serve hot -- just beware that when it comes out of the oven it is really molten hot, so I suggest letting it cool for at least a few minutes to stay safe.
  10. Cut into squares or bars.
  11. Tastes great either warm or at refrigerator temperature.

 

Pasta, Beans and Greens – a lightning-fast, yummy, healthy, vegan dinner

Pasta, Beans, and Greens

My family is finishing two very busy weeks. My eighth grader, Kendra, was in a national Quiz Bowl tournament in Atlanta, and then she played the role of Audrey in the Shakespeare play “As You Like It” — so the last two weeks have had long, daily rehearsals, followed by a weekend of performances. But the final performance was this afternoon, and now Kendra is free! — Well, free except for assorted daily homework, two term papers, an amazing week-long field trip, and graduation — followed immediately by a week of gluten-free summer camp. Whew!!!

So, in celebration of our crazy-busy two weeks, I am posting a recipe for a dinner that takes about fifteen minutes to cook — depending on how fast your stove can boil a pot of water — and is nutritious and delicious: Pasta, Beans and Greens. This is my go-to recipe for anytime I need a healthy dinner to be on the table quickly.

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals — a family favorite cookbook of ours.

My kids range from “somewhat picky” to “world-class picky.” This recipe is unique because it is one of only two dinners that all of my kids will eat. (The other one is Potato Pancakes — yum!)

A variation: Consumer Reports found that there is arsenic in rice, so I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of rice-based pasta in our diet. My kids won’t eat this variation, but I have found that I can replace the pasta in this recipe with tofu cut into long thin rectangles that are about 1/4 inch wide, 1/4 inch tall, and 3/4 inch long. Prepared this way, it is an even faster and healthier version of this recipe.

Pasta, Beans and Greens - a lightning-fast yummy healthy vegan dinner
 
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This dinner recipe is quick, fast, yummy, gluten-free, and vegan! And, all of my kids will eat it!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
  • 1 pound short chunky pasta, such as elbows, tubes, or fusilli - gluten-free if you like
  • 2 15-ounce cans of cooked beans, such as kidney and pinto beans
  • either 1 bunch of fresh kale or other greens -- or 2-3 cups of frozen, chopped kale, defrosted
  • 1 lemon
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
  • salt and/or gluten-free soy sauce to taste
Instructions
  1. Start boiling water for the pasta. When the water boils, cook the pasta in it.
  2. Get out a big mixing bowl for serving the food in.
  3. While the pasta cooks, if you are using fresh greens, shred the greens into small pieces (a bread-slicing knife works well for this), then add them to the pot where the pasta is cooking for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Or, if you are using frozen greens, defrost them by microwaving them in the big mixing bowl. This takes 5 minutes in my microwave, but microwaves vary so be alert.
  4. Rinse the beans (I like to put them in a strainer and run cold water through), then add them to the big mixing bowl.
  5. Juice the lemon, and add the lemon juice to the bowl.
  6. Add the oil and basil to the bowl.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl.
  8. Stir everything together thoroughly.
  9. Serve, with salt and soy sauce available for each person to stir in to their food. If you are using soy sauce, about 2 teaspoons per serving is a good amount to start with.
  10. Yum! Warm and quick!

 

Salad Dressing – gluten-free, vegan, made from tofu, rather addictive!

Creamy White Salad Dressing

Creamy White Salad DressingThis recipe is very loosely based on the Moosewood Restaurant house salad dressing — though I have changed it so much that the people at Moosewood might not recognize it.

It is creamy and high in protein and all-around delicious!

The texture is very thick, more like a pudding than like a salad dressing — though it tastes like a salad dressing or like sour cream. It is not sweet like a pudding. I think that pudding-thick salad dressing works really well — it sticks well to salad, even if the leaves are damp. But if pudding-y salad dressing is not your thing, you can add water or oil to thin it to a consistency that works for you.

Creamy White Salad DressingI like this dressing on salad, as a topping on on Golden Crispy Tofu, as an ingredient in Southwestern Twice Baked Potato casserole, as a topping mixed with roasted winter veggies, tossed with roasted eggplant from Riz Bi Har, and as a much healthier replacer for sour cream in other recipes. I find it so addictive that every time I make a batch, once it is out of the blender, I find myself going after every last dab that I can get out of the blender to eat it straight. It is that good!

The high protein content of this dressing means that you can put some on some fresh leafy greens and have a complete meal in minutes, especially if you buy prewashed salad that doesn’t need any rinsing or washing. Or you can dress up a salad by adding any of the following: beans, cubed cooked Creamy White Salad Dressingeggplant, protein items, other veggies, artichoke hearts, nuts, seeds, dried cherries — or whatever else you have handy that could be tossed into a salad.

Yum!

Salad Dressing - gluten-free, vegan, made from tofu, rather addictive!
 
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A creamy, thick, white, vegan, protein-rich, highly addictive salad dressing that goes well with practically everything! Tossed with some leafy greens it makes an awesomely quick meal. Also great in recipes, or as a replacer for sour cream.
Author:
Recipe type: salad dressing
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 block (14.3 ounces) silken tofu (I like Mori-Nu organic)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
  • optional: a handful of fresh spinach or lettuce or other greens (makes dressing a gorgeous green!)
Instructions
  1. No need to measure ingredients -- guessing at quantities is fine. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. As written, the recipe makes a thick, creamy, pudding-like dressing. If you prefer a thinner dressing, add some water or oil and blend again.
  3. Serve over anything.
  4. Yum!


This recipe has been shared at Gluten-Free Fridays.

Chocolate Mousse – gluten-free, vegan, raw, awesomely healthy, quick, and my kids love it!

Chocolate Mousse

When I first tried this recipe, I wrote in the cookbook, “Drop-dead FABULOUS mousse!!!!!

Because it is!!!!!

It is also easy to make, healthy, vegan, and my kids and I love it. What more could you ask of a recipe? :)

The pictures show the mousse with fruit. I like to use the mousse as a topping for fruit. My kids like plain mousse without fruit added. That’s perfectly fine — the mousse itself is made of fruit, so it is healthy even if you don’t add more fruit to it.

In addition to fruit, my favorite way to serve it is with a pinch of cardamom on top. I love cardamom — it is a magical addition to this mousse.

The original version of this recipe came from the cookbook “Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People” by Jennifer Cornbleet. (I have linked to a newer edition of the book than the one that I have — an edition that I have never seen.) I changed the recipe by replacing maple syrup with more dates, and by increasing the quantities in the recipe so that it uses two avocados instead oChocolate Moussef one and a half.

A food processor works much better than a blender for this recipe. And you need a good sturdy food processor for this. I have a Braun Multiquick food processor that I really adore. I am convinced that Braun makes the best food processors, much better than any other brand, because theirs are sturdy and have a lot of attention to important details. Like for example, I used to have a KitchenAid food processor where the edges of the lid fit onto the outside of the bowl, which meant that splatters all ran down the outside of the bowl. The Braun has a lid that fits inside the bowl — which means that any splatters run down inside the bowl, which is where I want them. Best of all, the bowl on the Braun has no hole where the blade connects to it, so you can put easily twice as much food into the Braun compared to the KitchenAid. Anyway, I can go on and on about why I like Braun food processors, but I won’t ask you to wade through any more about it. The link from this blog to Amazon will send me a tiny percentage of the purchase price if you buy what I linked to, but other than that I have no relationship with Braun except as a satisfied customer. But so far my total income from Amazon for this blog has been exactly zero, so this is not exactly a get-rich-quick undertaking. :-P

This recipe uses dates. Dates vary a lot, from tougher dry ones to wetter soft ones, but any dates should work fine in this recipe. Make sure to remove the pits, if yours have pits, and check every date for bits of stem to remove, because sometimes a date will still have a collar of hard stem attached to it. Also, even pitted dates sometimes still have a pit, so it’s helpful to check for that, too.

Too much chocolate can keep me awake at night, so I often replace half of the cocoa powder in this recipe with carob.  I like Foods Alive organic carob powder. This recipe tastes almost exactly the same when it is made with half carob and half cocoa powder — and it is much less likely to keep me awake at night.

The most important ingredient in this mousse is perfectly ripe avocados. If you have never tried a recipe like this, using avocados in this way may sound very strange to you. But it works really well in this recipe. There is no green color or avocado-y flavor. The finished mousse tastes like a rich, chocolate dessert.

To check the ripeness of an avocado, do not poke it with your finger. That will leave black spots inside the avocado. Instead, hold it in your hand and see what the avocado’s skin feels like. If it feels hard, the avocado is not ripe. If it feels soft and smooth, like touching human skin, then the avocado is ripe. Also the skin of most avocados turns black when it is ripe, so that is another way to recognize one.

Avocados go quickly from ripe to overripe, so once you have ripe avocados it’s necessary to use them within about a day, or you will lose them to overripeness. You can put ripe avocados in the refrigerator to delay this process — they can last for up to a week there.

Variation: To make this recipe chocolate-free, I have replaced the cocoa powder with a little ground cardamom — maybe 1/4 or 3/8 teaspoon. This makes a bright green mousse that my kids won’t touch, because of the color. But I love it that way. And if the kids won’t touch it, there is more for me!  :)

Chocolate Mousse - gluten-free, vegan, raw, awesomely healthy, and my kids love it!
 
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A rich, fabulous chocolate mousse, made from entirely healthy, raw, vegan ingredients -- mostly fruit! And only four ingredients! Even my picky eater kids adore this recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: French
Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup dates, with pits removed -- also check each date for any hard stem pieces and remove them
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 perfectly ripe avocadoes -- remove pits, skin, and any black spots
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder -- or 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup carob powder
  • optional: fruit or berries, such as cherries, blueberries, or strawberries
  • optional: a pinch of ground cardamom for each serving
Instructions
  1. Put the dates and water into a sturdy food processor. Blend for several minutes, until they form a smooth syrup. You will still be able to see bits of the skins from the dates, but the syrup itself should be smooth. Depending on your food processor and your dates, you may need to add a little extra water to get this to blend. Tip: I start blending this at slow speed, then raise the speed to high, to cut down on splashing and noise inside the food processor. The most important step to getting the mousse to come out really smooth is to blend this mixture until it is really smooth, even if it takes several minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients to the food processor -- except for the optional ones.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve plain, or with fruit, and/or with a pinch of ground cardamom on top.

 

15-Minute Chili – quick, gluten-free, vegan, and really good!

chili

Once upon a time, dry soy curlsI was talking with a mom from my kids’ school, Sue Barker, who has an awesome talent for organizing big, fun school events, often where chili is served as a fundraiser. While we talked, someone asked Sue for her chili recipe. Sue said that it was “just a recipe from allrecipes.com” and that the important ingredient was salsa.

The idea of putting salsa in chili rang all sorts of happy bells in my mind. Salsa transforms chili into something really amazing. Salsa is like yummy “pourable nutrients” — it adds magic to this awesomely easy and quick chili recipe.

rinsing beansSince this is a vegetarian chili, it (optionally) uses Butler Soy Curls. Soy curls are dried pieces of soy that you can reconstitute by soaking for ten minutes in warm water. Then they look a bit like cooked chicken. As they soak, they absorb the flavor of whatever liquid you use to reconstitute them, so by soaking them in chili while it cooks, they become chili-flavored. I haven’t seen soy curls available in the local stores, but you can order them from Amazon or from Butler’s website.

Note that this recipe makes about three bowls of chili, so you will need to pot of chilimultiply it if you are feeding a crowd. (Most recipes on this website make enough food to serve dinner to four to six people.)

There is no need to measure the quantities for this recipe — it’s fine to estimate.

The photos for this recipe show: 1) A bowl of chili ready for eating, with beannaise on top. 2) Dry soy curls, broken into shorter pieces and ready for cooking. 3) Rinsing beans in a strainer at the sink. I love how my camera caught individual droplets of water coming from the faucet. 4) A pot of chili being cooked.

15-Minute Chili - gluten-free, vegan, quick, and really good!
 
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This quick, yummy, super-healthy chili makes a great homecooked weekday lunch in minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican-ish
Serves: 3 servings
Ingredients
  • optional: 1 cup (dry) Butler Soy Curls or other protein (such as seitan, if you are not gluten-free)
  • 1 1/4 cups spaghetti sauce (from a jar) (preferably a variety with veggies such as Muir Glen Garden Vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup salsa, or more (Amy's mild salsa is perfect here)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (check that it's gluten-free - most varieties are not!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans of beans in contrasting colors, such as cannellinis and pintos, or kidney beans
  • vegan sour cream or Beannaise to serve it with
Instructions
  1. Put the dry soy curls into a pot, if you are using them. If there are any pieces that are more than one inch long, break them into pieces that are less than an inch long. Add enough cold water to just barely cover the soy curls. Turn the heat to medium-high.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients except for the sour cream or Beannaise.
  3. Heat to boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Beannaise on top.