Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce

I love barbecue. I realize that seems awkward, coming from a mostly vegan. What use could I possibly have for BBQ sauce if I’m not slathering it on ribs or chicken? While I think that BBQ sauce has many applications, it is one of my favorite pizza sauces. Back in my meat-eating days, BBQ chicken pizza was one of my favs. Now, I sub tofu for chicken and forgo the cheese and am still completely satisfied…

…especially now that I’ve developed my own sauce! Store-bought BBQ sauces certainly promise flavor, but they are overloaded with sugar and salt. My version includes very little added sweetener and is so robust, doesn’t even need much salt.

The key to creating a sauce that outdoes the premade versions is using fresh ingredients. My BBQ sauce comes together with whole plump tomatoes and sweet golden pineapple. That’s right: pineapple is my not-so-secret-anymore ingredient. I’ve seen it used for natural sweetness in teriyaki, so I thought I’d give it a try in another sauce. Depending on how sweet, tangy, and/or spicy you like your BBQ sauce, you may not even need any added sweetener after the addition of the pineapple. Taste as you go!

(SIDE NOTE: If you don’t have one of these handy kitchen scales, I would highly recommend buying one.)

So, I realize that some of you are, in fact, going to use this deliciousness to coat an animal carcass. I’m happy to get you one step closer to living a healthier life by forgoing that bottle in the grocery store. No matter what, do, absolutely, use this sauce to make my pizza some time. 🙂 Enjoy!

DSC_2686

FORMULA BASE: BARBECUE SAUCE

  • 1 pound tomatoes –> I’m using romas.
  • ½ pound ripe pineapple
  • ½ of a small onion –> I’m using yellow.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic –> I’m using 2.
  • ¼ cup acid (citrus juice, vinegar, mustard, etc.) –> I’m using whole grain mustard.
  • ¼ cup + 1/8 cup sweetener –> I’m using ¼ cup unsulfured molasses and 1/8 cup agave syrup.
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste –> I’m using 4 grounds of fresh black pepper and a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt.
  • Cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste (optional) –> Definitely not for this wimp. 🙂

Coarsely chop your tomatoes, pineapple, and onion into large chunks. Place in a blender with your garlic cloves (peeled and whole). Puree until smooth.

DSC_2677

Pour into a sauce pan and add all other ingredients. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until sauce has reached desired consistency. Use immediately or store in the fridge.

DSC_2683

Advertisements

If You Like Piña Coladas…

This post and the next will feature creative uses for leftovers. Truthfully, we don’t often have leftovers of anything in our house—plant eaters consume a lot—but there are occasionally quantities remaining of something we used for a specific, measured application. Today, I’m using leftover coconut whipped cream from my pistachio nice cream sundaes.

If you know me—or at least if you read about my curry formula—you know that I don’t like coconut. Not the flavor, not the texture, not the scent. Well, pregnancy does weird things to a girl and right now, I can say that I have a small affinity for this tropical fruit. I’m not running out to the store to gobble up all things coconut, but I have enjoyed a few coconut macaroons and couldn’t believe that I voluntarily topped my pistachio nice cream with coconut whipped cream the other day and enjoyed it! (I made it for my husband and son and just thought I would give it a try. Unexpected yumminess!)

Because I don’t typically like coconut, I would never order a piña colada. Pineapple, coconut, and rum are the primary flavors in this classic cocktail; two out of three are okay by me, but I find that when you don’t like something, it’s all you can taste. Given my newfound—albeit, possibly temporary—appreciation for coconut, I all of a sudden knew what I wanted to make with my leftover coconut whipped cream: piña colada dessert smoothies (virgin, of course)!

Despite being high in saturated fat (consume sparingly), coconut cream has many health benefits that might help you to justify the occasional splurge. This decadent plant-based treat is high in fiber, vitamins B, C, and E, and many essential minerals. You can add it to your favorite recipe right from the can or beat it and store in the fridge for several weeks. Days after whipping up a batch, I was amazed to see my coconut cream even fluffier than it was on the first day!

Fluffiness, of course, isn’t really important when it will be blended up in a smoothie, but I still found it pleasantly surprising. Another pleasant flavor component in the traditional piña colada is a garnish of ground nutmeg, which I am also using to top today’s smoothie. Nutmeg is high in fiber, copper, and manganese and has a truly unique flavor. I once heard Rachael Ray describe this wonder seed as that ingredient that makes your taste buds go “Hmmmmm.” It is even tastier freshly ground.

DSC_2317While I’m definitely missing the rum (and the wine and the beer and…), I’m happy to cool off with a piña colada that my whole family can enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: DESSERT SMOOTHIE

Serves 2-3

  • 2 frozen bananas (or fresh bananas and ice)
  • ½-1 cup specialty ingredients –> I’m using ½ cup diced pineapple and ½ cup coconut whipped* cream.
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
  • ¼-½ tsp extract of choice (optional, and amount depends on flavor intensity) –> I’m using ¼ tsp almond.
  • Pitted medjool dates as needed for sweetness –> I’m not using any as my whipped cream is already sweetened. I probably would if it weren’t.
  • Juice or plant milk until desired consistency (start with 2 oz) –> I’m using almond.
  • SPECIAL ADDITIONAL: Nutmeg for topping

*You could just use coconut cream that has not yet been prepared as whipped cream. Remember, I’m trying to use leftovers.  🙂

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Top with more whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.

DSC_2318 DSC_2321

My Simplest Formula Yet: Salt-Free Salsa

DSC_2028Salsa is an excellent way to eat a mix of great-for-you raw fruits and vegetables. With the combinations being endless, it’s no wonder that so many people love to dip in in front of the TV or at a party or restaurant.

Salsa should be one of those snacks that you don’t feel guilty about. However, if you buy it premade, there’s a chance that it will be loaded with salt. My salsa formula is so simply flavorful that I don’t add any salt at all…not even a pinch.

Why? Chances are, you are eating your salsa with tortilla chips. Most chips are salted to some degree, some more heavily than others. Because consuming minimal salt is a major premise of my plant-based lifestyle, my palate has become very sensitive to foods that are overly salty. Thus, the salt from the chips is enough for me in boosting the flavor of my already delicious salsa.

I really like these chips, from Target’s organic product line. The ingredients are listed as follows: Organic blue corn, organic sunflower oil, organic flax seed, sea salt, lime. (NOTE: If you didn’t already know this, when reading a food’s ingredients on a nutrition label, they are written from greatest to least presence in the product.) True to its name, Simply Balanced, I haven’t found a better premade chip. They are heartier than your average tortilla chip and not too salty, which is perfect for me.

DSC_2029Moving along, today’s formula rendition includes a few fresh ingredients that offer a ton of health benefits. Let’s take a look:

CILNATRO: This common salsa staple is high in antioxidants and prevents oxidation, allowing foods that it is mixed with to stay fresh longer.

DSC_2017GARLIC: There’s a reason that you can buy garlic supplements in the vitamin aisle. Raw garlic, in particular, has anti-inflammatory effects and can lower cholesterol. Those of you who have read up on my health history know how important this is to me!

DSC_2021PINEAPPLE: Pineapple is nutrient-dense rather than energy-dense, meaning that it contains an abundance of nutrients for very few calories (I don’t count, but this may be important to you if you’re trying to lose weight). In one cup of pineapple, for instance, you can consume 40% of the recommended daily Vitamin C intake.

DSC_2023Since we’re on the subject, how do you cut a pineapple? Buying it precut or diced in a can is more expensive. Believe me, breaking it down yourself is easier than you’d expect. I have to give credit to Rachael Ray for my method, which I use for all melon-like fruits and also gourds. Follow these steps to cut a pineapple with ease in minutes:

  1. Lay the pineapple on its side.  Slice off the very bottom and the very top so that you are left with a cylinder that can easily stand flat on the cutting board in its upright position.
  2. While standing upright, take your knife around the perimeter of the pineapple and slice the skin off, top to bottom.  You’re essentially cutting it off in vertical strips until you’ve made it all the way around.
  3. Once the pineapple is peeled, remove the flesh surrounding the core.  While the pineapple is standing upright, put your knife close to the edge of the core and slice downward, effectively removing nearly half of the pineapple.  Repeat this process all around the core until you’ve done it a total of four times (the pieces will be uneven in size).  Your core should appear as a long, thin rectangle when all of the flesh is removed.
  4. Chop your pineapple according to its projected usage and discard the core.  If you happen to own a powerful juicer, you can juice it instead.

On to my simple salsa! Don’t like onions? Don’t use them and compensate with extra fruit and/or vegetables. Play around with different combinations, using your herb of choice as your guide. I’m envisioning a delicious cucumber mint with pita chips or strawberry basil atop crostini…Yum…

Serve as an appetizer or snack, or use it in a dish like my layered burrito bowl. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: SALSA

  • 4 cups diced raw fruit and/or vegetables –>  I’m using 2 ½ cups vine ripe tomatoes and 1 ½ cups pineapple.
  • ½ of a medium onion –>  I’m using yellow.
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs –>  I’m using cilantro.
  • ¼ cup acid (vinegar or citrus juice*) –>  I’m using the juice of two small limes.
  • Seasoning to taste –>  I’m using a dusting of chili powder, paprika, and cumin.

*Whenever possible, juice whole citrus fruits yourself. 🙂

DSC_2018

Chop your onion and garlic and get them soaking in your acid, just as you did in preparing my bean salad formula. The acidity will help to break them down so that their flavors are less abrasive and don’t monopolize the salsa.

Dice/chop all remaining ingredients, season, and stir. When it comes to salsa, I don’t typically measure seasonings. Once I have all of my produce in the bowl, I lightly sprinkle it with each of my preferred seasonings (if any) from one end of the bowl to another and that seems to work out nicely.

DSC_2024

Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.

DSC_2026