Sunflower Seed Cheez Whiz

I like to call this recipe Cheez Whiz, ’cause it’s like, “Gee Whiz! That was easy!” Thankfully, my cheesy spread has got a much better texture. And won’t kill you softly (and miserably).

Below is the full list of ingredients in Kraft’s Cheez Whiz. Bonus points if you can pronounce all of them. (And don’t even ask about Cheez Whiz “Light.” The only thing it’ll lighten up is the number of times you’ll get to blow out your birthday candles.)

WHEY, CANOLA OIL, MILK, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MALTODEXTRIN , SODIUM PHOSPHATE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM ALGINATE, MUSTARD FLOUR, WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE (VINEGAR, MOLASSES, CORN SYRUP, WATER, SALT, CARAMEL COLOR, GARLIC POWDER, SUGAR, SPICES, TAMARIND, NATURAL FLAVOR), SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, MILKFAT, CHEESE CULTURE, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), NATURAL FLAVOR, ENZYMES.

Doesn’t that just scream “yum!” to you? Denatured, highly processed milk ingredients? I’m sure my childhood obsession with Cheez Whiz slothered on white bagels has nothing to do with this little lactose sensitivity I’ve developed over the years… nothing at all.

So for my own epicly awesome and healthlicious cheesy flavoured spread, I looked to my little friend nutritional yeast (a.k.a. “nooch”). Nutritional yeast is a super, super food lending a cheese-like flavour and texture where it would otherwise be amiss in vegan dishes. It’s chock-full of the B vitamins often elusive to those who follow a plant-based lifestyle, and is a complete protein, meaning that it provides all of the essential amino acids required by your body for proper functioning. I like nutritional yeast on popcorn, as a salad topper, pulsed in a food processor with equal parts pine nuts to create a vegan parmesan, or as below, to give my favorite seed-based spread a new lease on flavour. No unwanted, lactose-induced side effects (read: gas) included.

Sunflower Seed Cheez Whiz (raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

Ingredients:

2 cups sunflower seeds, soaked at least 2 hrs, drained, and rinsed (why soak? read up here)

1/2- to 3/4 cup nutritional yeast (depending on how dangerously cheesy you’d like it to be)

3 tbsp tamari (in a pinch you can use soy sauce – just note it contains gluten)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp miso paste (I used red brown rice 5 year aged miso)

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 tsp sea salt

extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), as needed for desired texture

Directions:

Process all ingredients together until no visible chunks or clumps remain. If you want a smoother texture you can run some EVOO through the mouth of the food processor as it is running. Spread on pizza or crackers, as a paste in nori rolls or to amp up some wraps, or ad by the spoonful to give a salad staying power. Keeps about 5 days in the fridge.

Sunflower Seed “I’m Sorry” Nori Rolls

So I didn’t post for a week.

Sigh… it’s summer. Forgive me.

I was busy watching the boy get convocated, hopping town on my bike to catch as much NXNE as one borrowed press pass can allow, plus plain ol’ workin and schoolworkin’.

I used to think cookies were the best way to say “I’m sorry.”

Today, however, I think these will do just fine.

Remember last week, when I spent Saturday mauing (sp?) down on Raw Nori Rolls at the Raw Vegan Fest?

I knew they’d be perfect for a recreation in my kitch. Nut and seed pâtés are a stupidly easy way to add some protein, heartiness, and flavour to any dish, and since sunflower seeds often go otherwise overlooked, I figured this would be a great chance for them to get out of their shells (note to self: stop writing after 1 a.m.)..

You might ask why I advise soaking nuts and seeds. (You might, if you don’t just do everything I say with reckless abandon.) Well, if that’s what you’re asking, here’s the semi-scientific rationale:

Soaking releases the enzyme inhibitors in nuts and seeds that basically make them challenge your body’s digestion and absorption. Thus, if you want maximum nutrient efficiency and happy tummy times (and who doesn’t?!), always soak your nuts and seeds, then rinse them well!

Here’s a handy dandy guide to ideal soaking times:

And once you’ve done the soaking, you’re just a few minutes a way from eating these!

Sunflower Seed Pâté Raw Rolls (raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

For the pâté:

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked and rinsed

1/4 cup almonds, soaked and rinsed

1 carrot, chopped roughly

2 tbsp chopped onion

2 tbsp tamari, nama shoyu, or bragg’s liquid aminos (or plain ol’ soy sauce)

handful of parsley

juice of half a lemon

sea salt, to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and combine to desired consistency. If you can make ahead, do—the flavours come together once they’ve sat around together for awhile. You know—camraderie.

For the rolls:

Sheets of Nori (Sushi wrappers)

Sprouts (Pea or sunflower sprouts would be nice)

Sesame seeds

Chia, optional

Spread 3 tbsp of the pâté on the non-shiny side of the nori, about 1/3 of the way up. Pile with sprouts. Roll up like sushi, using water to seal the edge of the nori. Chop into rolls (note: it helps to wet your knife!), and sprinkle sides with sesame seeds and whole black chia seeds for garnish. Serve sushi-style with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos.

A Salad My Own Size

My usual problem with salads?

Well… they’re salads.

What my grandpa refers to as bird food, and what are usually just not enough for my Hungry-Man appetite. The kind of appetite traditionally considered large enough only for a male. I’m 6 foot 2, and usually active, so that’s kinda my excuse.

That’s why I need a super-powered salad, packed with superfoods, plenty of protein, and lots of fibre to keep the stomach growlies away.

Now I can pick at something my own size: The All-Star Salad.

(although clearly what I need to be picking is the weeds on my patio. I’m sorry.)

I love Fresh (maybe a little too much)—I frequently try and redirect hangouts to one of their three Toronto locations, where green smoothies are acceptable appetizers, kale is abundant, and the cupcakes and cookies are irresistible. (Seriously. Everytime I walk away without one, it jumps into my mouth before I’m even out the door. It’s not my fault). I’ll admit I wish they didn’t use canola oil for frying, and I don’t believe they use organics, which is kind of a downer considering how much good stuff they’ve got going on—that said, of healthy on-the-go spots, this one’s still near the top.

Last summer, when the All-Star Salad was a special, I spent half my time dragging friends to go eat it with me, and the other half trying to recreate it at home.

(an early incarnation)

I’ll admit, it’s quite a lot of work for a salad… but that’s what makes it SO good.

So when Angela posted her version on Tuesday, and Fresh’s Newsletter mailed out the honest-to-goodness authentic recipe on Thursday, I knew all of the forces of god and goodness were coming together to tell me one thing: MAKE THIS SALAD. (It’s an important message for the gods to deliver methinks.)

And so I did.

Salads, you win. This time.

The All-Star Salad (vegan, gluten-free, high in protein)

(adapted from Fresh Restaurants newsletter, re-inspired by Oh She Glows)

Ingredients:

(I omitted the Tofu because a) I don’t love soy and b) this bad boy is already packed with protein)

Salad Mix: (you can store these leftovers together in a Ziploc with a paper towel to absorb moisture, just leave the goji berries out)

4 cups               Kale, washed, deveined, and shredded

½ cup               Parsley, chopped

½ cup               Cilantro, chopped

3 cups               Sunflower Sprouts (or other sprouts!)

4 tsp                  Goji Berries (raisins or currants will do in a pinch)

Quinoa Tabouleh:

2 ½  cups cooked quinoa

1/2 can adzuki beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup shelled edamame

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1 green onion, diced (the Fresh recipe calls for red onion)

3 tbsp olive oil

4 ½ tsp tamari

Toss everything together.

Grilled Sweet Potato:

Brush both sides of each slice of sweet potato with extra-virgin olive oil (or better, coconut oil) and cook in panini grill until tender. If you don’t have a panini grill, cook in 350 degree oven on a cookie sheet, turning once, until tender.

Toasted Nuts & Seeds:

Cashews

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Place in 350 degree oven for a few minutes until toasted.  Toss once or twice.

Directions:

For one salad, layer: a generous heap of salad mix, 1 scoop of quinoa tabouleh, a few slices of sweet potato, and a tbsp of toasted nuts and seeds. Top with dressing of your choice (I used Angela’s red-wine vinagrette)

Oh. And though it might not look it, this recipe was given the go-ahead by the original Hungry Man. Certified Luke-Approved.

Dude-approved.