Vegan Whole Wheat-Flax/Chia Seed Crackers

Yield: about 4 servings, but it depends on how large you cut the crackers and I like irregular shapes and sizes

If you are not a vegan baker, keep reading…this is the perfect “gateway” recipe to have you fall in love with pastry.  This dough handles beautifully–promise!  And the resulting crackers are worth a tiny bit of effort.

The inspiration for these crackers starts in a church and is, perhaps, a little unseemly.   No, they did not begin as the body of Christ; rather as ingredients eschewed by those who frequent the church’s food pantry.  Seems that the healthier, higher-end foods–chia seeds, organic cocoa powder, kale chips, etc.–are not what these folks in need seek.

So, my friend who attends the church that sponsors the food pantry will occasionally bring me those items that aren’t moving off the shelves.  You can’t imagine how large my canister of flax and chia seed meal has grown.  Needing a recipe to use up some of it and being the creatively resteless soul that I am, I decided to whip up some crackers.  Bread would have also worked, but I am far more likely to serve crackers than bread.  I love the crunch.

I did what I usually do: perused recipes endlessly online and then jettisoned all recipes and went for it, having learned some lessons along the way for which I am grateful.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the end results: how quickly this dough came together, how easilyit handled, and how tasty and perfectly textured the crackers are.  Speaking of texture, these are the ideal tender-crisp combination.  I tried both “docking,” or pricking. the surface and not, and found that the docked crackers were a bit more crispy, which I preferred.

Easy, quick, an inexpensive, these crackers would make a lovely gift from the kitchen.  Each Christmas, I gift all of the editors for whom I write with a little treat, and I think I know what next year’s will be.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat, all purpose, or a combination; I had the pastry flour on hand)

3 tablespoons flax seed meal, chia seed meal, or a combination (I used a combo)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (or the spice of your choice)

3 tablespoons coconut oil

Up to 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place all ingredients in the bowl of food processor, including about half of the water or 1/4 cup.  Pulse until the dough comes together into a tidy ball, adding remaining half of water if necessary.  On a floured surface, like a pastry board or counter, roll dough to just slightly more than 1/8-inch thick.  Using a sharp knife, cut into small or large uniform or irregular crackers, transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat (silicone mat), and prick the tops with a fork.  Bake for about 13 minutes or until lightly browned.  Place baking sheet on a wire rack and cool crackers to room temperature.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze for a later date.

Vegan Thai Green Bean Stir Fry

Yield: 4 servings

A gift of green beans freshly picked by good friends from their organic home garden inspired this simple recipe.

I love Sichuan green beans in Chinese restauants, but I was craving peanut butter, so I nudged these in a Thai direction using ingredients I had on hand. So quick and easy. Oh, and addicting.

You will love the way the sauce bathes the beans, marrying the two textures to become one luscious concoction.  I like to eat them with chopsticks out of a simple white bowl.

4 cups raw green beans, trimmed and, if desired, halved

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Juice of 1 medium lime

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon coconut or any granulated sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Thai Style Red Chili Powder [I love this spice, but if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, a Thai chili powder ground in a spice grinder or little more sriracha (see below) would do just fine]

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 drops sriracha

Optional (but I like): 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

Garnish: finely chopped peanuts or cashews

Steam green beans for 8 minutes for al dente and 10 if you prefer them a little softer. Meanwhile whisk together remaining ingredients, except garnish, in a small bowl. Transfer the beans immediately into a skillet or wok set over medium to medium-high heat. As you gently stir fry them, drizzle them with the sauce. Continue cooking and stirring for about 2 minutes or until sauce is well distributed and beans are desired degree of doneness. Adjust temperature if necessary. Serve topped with finely chopped peanuts or cashews.

Best Vegan (Practically) Raw Brownies
with Fudgy Ganache Frosting

Yield: 16 browniesBe prepared to have your world rocked.  While there’s not a thing in the world wrong with a baked brownie in my partially-raw world, I have enjoyed experimenting with raw foods this summer, and enjoy not having the oven and stove on. Plus it’s just an exciting new culinary world to explore.  I think you’ll agree.

To date, I had mastered a (practically) raw carrot and a coconut cake–yowza!–and these brownies are definitely on a par.  And they slice beautifully with little effort save some pressure on a serrated knife.  Next up are donut holes, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, I am delighted to share this recipe.  These are fantastic cold and amazing heated for about 20 seconds in the microwave and served with your favorite softened non-dairy ice cream.

Note: Since I am not a raw vegan, I am not concerned about whether all ingredients in my recipes are raw for myself, BUT I am concerned with accurate representation for those who are strict rawtarians, as I respect that choice.  So, the only non-raw ingredients in the brownies are the extracts and the Allemande. Simply substitute water for completely raw brownies.   However, the frosting is not raw, period. I am not a nut butter frosting fan, but if you want a raw frosting, that is probably your best bet.  

1 cup raw slivered almonds

1 cup raw cashew pieces

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 1/2 cups mixed dates, dried apricots, and dried figs, but at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups dates (use only pump and moist dried fruit)

2 tablespoons Bailey’s Allemande or water

1 teaspoon almond extract or water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or water

Vegan Fudgy Ganache Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: 16 walnut halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick baking spray and line with parchment paper.  (So as not to have crinckled corners, I like to line the pan with two scant 8-inch wide pieces of parchment, lying them vertically and horizontally and spraying both on the bottom and in between.)

In a food processor, process together nuts, cocoa powder, and salt,  Temporarily transfer mixture to a small bowl.  In same bowl of food processor, process dried fruit, Allemande, and extracts (or water).  Temporarily transfer this mixture to a small bowl.  Return nut mixture to processor and, with motor running, drop walnut-size pinches of fruit mixture through the chute until mixture is homogenous and a dough like consistency when pinched together.  Press evenly into pan, cover, and refrigerate while you make the frosting.

Spread frosting evenly over brownies and place walnut halves in 4 even rows, 4 to a row.  Cover and refrigerate several hours.  When ready to serve, lift out of pan, and slice with a serrated knife.  Serve immediately or package for gift giving.  I like to place each square in a parchment cupcake or muffin paper and stack them 2-deep in a square covered food storage container stored in the fridge.

Vegan Fudgy Ganache Frosting

3 tablespoons unsweetened soymilk (or the nondairy milk of your choice; a little sweetener won’t hurt a thing)

2 tablespoons Allemande (or substitute the liqueur of your choice or even more soymilk)

1 cup vegan chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegan butter (or coconut oil + 1/8 teaspoon salt)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, heat soymilk and Allemande in microwave.  Add chocolate chips and vegan butter, and let sit for a couple of minutes. Whisk until melted and smooth.  Whisk in extracts and powdered sugar until very smooth and creamy.  If too thick, add a bit more soymilk or Allemande; if too thin, adjust with more powdered sugar.

 

 

Betsy’s Best Bloomin’ Vegan Tuna Salad
I Reveal My Secret Ingredient

Yield: approximately 4 cups

Growing up, I ate LOTS of canned tuna salad.  After I became a vegetarian and then vegan, chickpea tuna salad seemed to be the standard substitution.  But I didn’t quite get it.  Something was missing; something from the sea.  So I started adding Nori.  (But you can add kelp, dulse, or whatever seaweed-derived product you prefer and can easily acquire.)  Still, that wasn’t quite it.  But then I tried the Hearts of Palm “crabcakes” from Vedge, the eoponymous cookbook from the storied vegan restaurant in Philly.

Brilliant.  For some reason Hearts of Palm–my father’s favorite vegetable (we would put cans of them in his stocking at Christmas)–have a taste and texture close to seafood.  (But not too close for that “ick” factor.)  This recipe is what resulted this week when I tried combining Hearts of Palm with chickpeas, Nori, and other typical tuna salad ingredients.

The walnuts are my nod to the the Omega 3s found in very few foods, including fish and, yes, walnuts.  And, oddly enough, they taste delicious and very appropriate on top.

Please enjoy this super-simple and cooling recipe, perfect for summer.

Note: if you prefer the ingredients to be more homogenized, pulse in a food processor.

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-15.5 ounce can Hearts of Palm, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped [THE SECRET INGREDIENT]

3 celery hearts, diced

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

1 tablespoon Nori powder (or 1 sheet Nori torn into pieces and ground to a powder in an electric spice or coffee grinder)

2 teaspoons pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Garnish: walnut halves or pieces

Place chickpeas in a medium-large bowl and coarsely mash.  Add diced Hearts of Palm and celery hearts.l.  In a small-medium bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients, except walnut halves or pieces.  Pour over chickpea mixture, and toss to coat.  Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.  Serve on toasted whole grain bread with baby greens, a little more mayo, and walnut halves or pieces; on crackers; or old school-style, stuffed in a tomato with an “X” cut into the top and gently separated into 4 sections to make an edible “bowl”.

White Bean, Sweet Potato, and Black Olive Burgers

I confess that this post is more of a general idea and place to start than a bona fide recipe.

These White Bean, Sweet Potato, and Black Olive patties were delicious and I wish I could share the recipe.  I just don’t know what amounts of ingredients were used because of the permutations this dish went through.

Still, the combination and end result was too satisfying not to share, even without specific proportions.  And I discovered a brilliant ingredient to help veggie patties hold together without egg.  So, I encourage you to start with these ingredients, have some fun, and create your own patties.  And please write down your amounts so that YOU can share with US.

These particular patties began their lives as a scrumptious salad that a friend brought to a potluck I hosted.  She is a vegetarian foodie who specializes in flavorful vegan salads; this particular one called for:

Cannellini beans (canned), rinsed and drained

Salt-cured black olives

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Fresh sage leaves

Sea salt and pepper to taste

She tossed it all together and it was lovely, but there was some left over, so she put a carton of it in my fridge.  I enjoyed a bit of it that way.  But,then, another day, wanting to use some raw spiralized sweet potato I had on hand (a sensational new ingredient in local grocery stores), I folded in a healthy amount of that.  A favorite Thanksgiving recipe from the past calls for sweet potato and cannellini beans, so I knew I liked that combination.  I then added a bit more lemon, sage, and a bare hint of maple syrup to balance the lemon.  My riff on Trish’s salad did not disappoint.

But now I had even more salad.  I love leftovers as much as the next gal but I was beginning to tire of it.  So, really tasty though it was, I decided that I wanted a new iteration to enjoy.  It occurred to me that the mixture might make delicious patties, but it would need to stick together a bit better.

Having used both old fashioned oats and nuts of various types in my Blooming Platter Burgers, I added some oats and raw cashew pieces.  And having used coconut flour in another recipe, I knew that it was especially good for absorbing moisture, so I added a bit of that.  What a great addition both for texture and taste:  the natural earthy hint of sweetness complemented all of the rest of the ingredients.

If I had to guess, I would say that I added about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of oats, cashews, and coconut flour to about 1 ½ cups of the bean-olive-sweet potato mixture, formed it into four patties, about 1-inch thick, and pan fried both sides over medium to medium-high heat for a couple of minutes in a skillet liberally coated with non-stick spray.  As you can see in the photo, I dressed it simply with baby greens, a dollop of vegan mayo, and a decorative squirt of sriracha.

So, start with these or similar ingredients, don’t forget the coconut flour, strive for a consistency similar to firm cookie dough, and make some bean burger magic of your own.

Vegan Savory Summer Tart
with “No Fail” Spicy Peanut Press-In Crust

Note vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores: if you have a peanut allergy, substitute the nut of your choice OR an additional half-cup of flour.  And if spicy isn’t your jam, feel free to use plain nuts or more mildly seasoned ones.  Have fun exploring and matching different nuts with different vegetables in the filling.Wraps are all the “wrage” and have been for at least a couple of years.  Me?  Not a wrap girl.  Not much of a sandwich gal either, and I prefer my (vegan) burgers as a lettuce wrap.  I’m not carbphobic, but I am just not much of a bread eater…that is, unless someone places some top shelf foccacia and olive oil in front of me.  Generally I prefer to consume my calories in other forms.

So a savory tart perhaps?  Now we’re talking.  Yes, it requires a fork, but that’s a small sacrifice to make from my perspective.  And my “no fail” press-in tart crust may make a convert out of you.  Especially with its 2-layer filling–vegetables on the bottom, creamy custard over the top–that goes together in a snap.  Using half water and half oil in the crust does not adversely affect the finished product and dramatically reduces calories.

For the filling, use whatever vegetables you prefer, but be sure to include some kind of onion, green onion, or shallot, if not the leek that I favor (probably a nostalgic nod to my late mother’s leek quiche).

Vegan “No Fail” Press-In Spicy Peanut Pie Crust:

1 cup flour (white, whole wheat, or white whole wheat)

1/2 cup spicy peanuts (I purchase at Whole Foods, but substitute another nut, another flavored nut, or an additional half-cup flour)

2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soymilk)

4 to 6 tablespoons water

4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a food processor, pulse flour and nuts together to make a course meal.  Add non-dairy milk, and pulse a few times.  Then, add 4 tablespoons each water and olive oil and pulse to form a moist dough that clumps nicely, but is nowhere near a batter.  If needed, add up to two more tablespoons of both water and oil.  Turn out intoan  8-inch tart pan with removable bottom and press evenly onto sides and bottom. Place tart pan on a baking sheet to avoid drips and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set and lightly browned.  Remove crust from oven and leave oven on.

Filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small leek, washed and thinly sliced (white bulb and about half of the green part, removing and discarding coarser ends

2 cups spiralized or sliced/diced vegetable(s) of choice (I like zucchini or yellow squash especially well, but experiement)

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

14 ounces firm or extra firm tofu, drained

1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk

Zest of 1/2 a large lemon

1 tablespoon vegetable base or 1 vegan/vegetable bouillon cube

1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Garnish: baby or micro greens, halved tri-color cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, maple syrup, or balsamic reduction, flaky finishing salt like Maldon or just more sea salt

In a large skillet over medium to medium high, heat olive oil.  Add leeks and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add spiralized vegetables and a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue sauteeing for a couple of minutes or until tender.  Transfer into bottom of crust and distribute evenly.

Place all remaining ingredients except garnish in the bowl of food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  With a rubber spatula, distribute mixture over the vegetables in the crust and gently smooth the top.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until set.  Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.  Carefully remove sides of pan and serve slices warm or room temperature garnished with a few baby or microgreens and tomatoes; a scant drizzle of oilive oil, maple syrup, or white balsamic reduction; and a sprinkling of flaky salt.

Vegan Coconut Cream-Mandarin Orange Cheesecake Extraordinaire with Spicy Peanut-Gingersnap Crust
+ a Plain Cheesecake Option

Are you ready?  Ready for the best cheesecake that will ever pass your lips (if I do say so)?  If so, then keep reading.  And if you could care less about the back story and want to get straight to the heart of the matter, by all means, scroll down to the recipe below.

True confession: my first attempt at veganizing my dear friend and inspired culinarian, Yvette Hetrick’s, cheesecake was an eipic fail.  According to prevailing wisdom, one should never make a dish for the first time for company.  But I did.  And while it was beautiful and edible and our friends were very gracious, it was in no way up to my high standards.

There were so many issues. For starters, the chili-infused gingersnap crust was delicious but overcooked.  In addition the top cracked, though not resulting in terrible craters; the mandarin orange compote/jam swirled into the batter never set (I’m not sure how it would even in a dairy version) and the cheescecake around it was underdone; and Y’s beautiful concentric circles of mandarin orange sections deocrating the top made it difficult to cut.  However, the worst infraction was it’s dark color and strangely “off” taste.

Disappointed but driven, I did what I always do: I researched, I ruminated, I re-imagined, and I cherry-picked the best aspects of a number of cheesecakes, both vegan and not, and tried it again, this time with stellar, can’t-top-this results.  And I served it again to the same friends who raved.

To solve the overcooked crust issue, I made it exactly the same, only I froze it rather than baked it before filling.  To prevent the top from cracking, I baked the cheesecake at a lower temperature–325 instead of 350 degrees–and, as before, I let it cool completely in the oven with the door partially open.  And to make sure it cooked through, instead of swirling a purchased–and bitter–orange jam into the batter, I made my own compote and used it to top the cheesecake which solved the underdone issue as well as the difficult-to-slice issue of decoration.

Regarding the dark color and “off” taste, I decided that, though I love coconut sugar and demerera sugar as much as the next gal–in fact, it’s all I bake with–a beautiful white, delicate, clean-tasting cheesecake calls for white granulated sugar. Sorry.  But that’s just the long and short of it.  The rich color and deep flavor of other less processed “brown” sugars simply results in a vastly inferior product.

So, now, with  no fruther ado, I present to you my little slice of paradaise.
Note:  to make the best plain cheesecake you’ve ever eaten, simply prepare a traditional graham cracker crust, substitute plain soy or almond milk for coconut milk, and omit orange liqueur, orange zest and optional coconut extract.  Never fear, this cheesecake is delicious with no topping at all, but feel free to top with any flavor compote or other concoction you choose.

Crust:

4 cups whole gingersnap cookies (the crispy/crunchy kind)

1 cup spicy peanuts (or your favorite spicy nut)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegan butter, melted

Pulse cookies in a food processor until coarse crumbs are formed.  Add nuts and sugar and continue pulsing until finer crumbs are formed.  Drizzle in butter and pulse just until moist clumbs are formed.  Distriubte mixture into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of the pan.  Freeze while you prepare filling.

Filling:

14 ounces firm tofu, drained

16 ounces vegan cream cheese (I use Tofutti brand)

1 cup granulated organic white sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup thick coconut milk (I use So Delicious Culinary Coconut Cream purchased at Whole Foods)

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

Zest of 1/2 large orange

1/4 cup orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier or Triple Sec)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Optional: 1 teaspoon coconut extract (for a more pronounced coconut flavor)

Topping–Mandarin Orange Compote:

2-10.5 ounce cans mandarin oranges

1/4 cup orange liqueur

Zest of 1/2 of large orange

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Garnish:

Shaved coconut, fresh mint sprigs, and optional whipped coconut cream or Coco-Whip

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Rinse and wipe out bowl of food processor.  Process tofu and cream cheese until smooth.  Add all remaining filling ingredients and continue processing until creamy and silky smooth.  Pour into frozen crust and gently smooth top.  Place cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes or until set, very lightly browned around edges, and slightly jiggly only in the very center.  Turn off oven, open oven door halfway, and allow to cool completely in the oven which will take several hours.  Cover and chill for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile make Mandarin Orange Compote.  Drain 1 can of oranges, reserving juice in a small bowl, and place the orange sections in a medium saucepan with remaining can of oranges in juice.  Add orange liqueur and orange zest and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Whisk cornstarch into reserved orange juice and slowly pour into simmering mixture, stirring continually.  Simmer a couple more minutes, remove from heat, transfer to a heat-proof bowl, and refrigerate until very cold.

Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake, remove it from the pan and place it on serving platter.  Spread half of compote evenly over the top of the cheesecake, mound shaved coconut in the center, and add a sprig of mint or two.  Serve in slices with an additional mint sprig if you choose, and pass remaining compote.  If you really want to gild the lily, also pass a bowl of whipped coconut cream or a prepared product like Coco-Whip.

Vegan Cajun Red Bean, Spiralized Squash, & Spicy Peanut Slaw
A July 4 Explosion of Flavor

Lately, I will spiralize most anything that isn’t quicker than me.

Actually, that’s not true.  A friend did give me a Spiralizer that I have yet to break out of the box.  But, so far, I have purchased a variety of colorful vegetables already cut into those long, luscious threads.

I’m not a “raw vegan,” but I do find that these thin, spiraling threads do not need cooked, not even the sweet potato, though you could certainly blanch them if you prefer.  I favor the flavor, texture, and color “as is.”

This slaw was inspired by my beloved NOLA.  It combines super heart-healthy dark red kidney beans with spicy peanuts, cajun seasoning, and a few other key ingredients with a blend of spiralized zucchini and yellow squash for a refreshing, luscious, and lovely–especially when served in a martini glass–heck of a zippy slaw.

Rice would be the more natural choice, i.e. red-beans-and-rice, but I just can’t find much to recommend calorie dense, carb rich, and nutrionally lacking white rice.  Hence the light colored spiralized squash which is such fun to eat.

It appears that Bob and I are going to a restaurant for July 4 with his family, as the family matriarch is recovering from a back injury and prefers not to entertain; but if we weren’t, I would certainly be taking this dish as my potluck contribution.

Note: the number of cups listed on the back of spiralized vegetable packages is usually less than my measurements as I very loosely pack it, while it appears that they must compress it a bit more.  This is, I always end up with significantly more than the package indicates.

3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (or to taste)

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1 tablespoon cajun seasoning (I used one with lots of spices, but none of them with a lot of heat)

2 cups spiralized zucchini (loosely packed)

2 cups spiralized yellow squash (loosely packed)

1 cup diced celery (about 4 celery hearts, sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced crosswise)

2 green onions, thinly sliced, both the white and green parts (about 1/2 cup)

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsied and drained

1 cup spicy peanuts

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: thin lemon slices with a cut from outer edge to center

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice, and cajun seasoning.  Add remaining ingredients and gently toss to evenly distribute dressing.  Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve in glasses with a slice of lemon “hung” on the rim.

Vegan Flexy Sexy Asian Slaw
(with popcorn, my fave new slaw ingredient)

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

My brand new vegan slaw is “flexy” because you can use your favorite vegetables and mix it up differently every time; and “sexy” because it is so light and healthy that it looks good on everyone.  Plus, you’ll have to admit, the martini glass presentation is James Bond meets West Elm sexy.

Simply keep the proportions as provided and then have your way with this slaw which is perfect for a light lunch.  Serve it however you choose, but a clear stemmed glass and chopsticks make it so pretty and fun to nibble.

1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 medium lime or lemon

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 1 /2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1 /2 teaspoons granulated sugar (I like coconut sugar)

Optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Sriracha)

2 cups sliced, diced, spiralized or julienne colorful, crunchy vegetables (I used a broccoli slaw mix that included purple cabbage and carrots)

2 cups prepared “skinny” popcorn (air popped and very lightly salted or seasoned)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I like tri-color cherry tomatoes)

1/4 cup raw cashews

1 teaspoon fresh minced basil (an Asian variety like Thai or Vietnamese is especially nice

1 teaspoon fresh minced or torn mint leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish: fresh basil or mint sprigs, a few cashew halves

In a small bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients to make dressing.  In a medium-large bowl, gently toss together remaining ingredients except garnish.  Drizzle dressing over, toss again, Divide into serving dishes and garnish as desired.  Serve immediately.

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