Last-minute healthy dishes

Do you have a crowd coming over and need some fresh new dishes to serve?  Or do you have an event to attend and need to bring an easy, healthy dish?  Here are a few of my faithful standbys that are both delicious and nutritious.  These are year-round favorites, but especially great this time of year when so many dishes are laden with bad fats, processed non-foods, chemically enhanced products and nasty white sugar.  Do what you can to boost your immune system with the fuel you put in your body!

I love this easy chicken salad.  After boiling and chopping about two pounds of chicken, I add a cup of green onions, a cup of celery, a half-teaspoon of cumin, with ground pepper and sea salt to taste.  I like to use grapeseed oil Veganaise instead of mayonnaise because of the better fats.   Walnuts or pecans are a great addition as well as seedless grapes, if you can find a good brand.  I make a regular style mayo at home, but you also can find homemade vegan recipes using staples in your kitchen.

Serve the chicken salad with homemade pita chips.  Heat the oven to 425 first.  Take regular pita bread and slather it with extra virgin olive oil and your favorite herbs.  Then use a pizza slicer to cut the bread into eight triangular slices.  Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and let them heat for 4 minutes.  Then flip the chips and allow another two to three minutes of baking.  These will harden as they cool, but super saturated pita pieces may need additional baking time.

For a creamy low-dairy salad that won’t overload you with mucus, try this!  I use Israeli (aka pearl) couscous and whatever fresh crunchy veggies I have on had.  In August I used celery, sweet bell peppers, broccolini and Napa cabbage along with a blend of Veganaise, a few sprigs of fresh dill or a drop of Young Living dill essential oil.  Mix well and chill for an hour.  (You don’t have to serve this chilled, but like a good potato salad, it seems to increase in flavor with time!)

Another of my creations is called Red Love Salad.  For this I make whatever quantity of red quinoa that I need for the crowd I’m serving.  I wash and chop red kale into small pieces.  Additionally, I mince sun-dried tomatoes.  Usually I purchase these in a jar packed in oil.  You can use some of the oil to make a basic vinaigrette* and combine this into all of the ingredients for a fantastic and beautiful side dish!

*I use a 1/2 cup of oil to 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar.  Once combined, I add about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, a little lemon rind and a minced clove of garlic.  I like to make this well in advance so the garlic can mellow substantially.

So what about the sweet tooth?  Ideally, you would serve Einkorn nuggets or Ecuadorian dark chocolate.   In a pinch, I have a crowd-pleasing recipe even when the crowd isn’t concerned about whether or not their eating healthy ingredients!  Freezer fudge.  It’s so simple and so delicious you’ll want to experiment with your own ingredients.  I use 1/2 cup each of coconut oil (in liquid state) and my favorite nut butter or whatever we have on hand.  I mix those until they’re emulsified and add 1/4 cup organic cocoa or carob powder and then a 1/3 cup of grade B maple syrup, a teaspoon of vanilla and sea salt to taste.  My sister-in-love, Sera Johnson, used melted down Ecuadorian dark chocolate, and it worked beautifully!  For speed the mixture can be poured into a 9×9 dish and frozen for a couple of hours.  You can line the dish with parchment paper first if you’re not using a non-stick pan.  Once frozen, cut the pieces into desired serving sizes.

UPDATE: We have experimented with adding a couple of drops of Peppermint Vitality oil and a tablespoon of Chia Seeds to this recipe. If you do this, use almond butter rather than peanut butter to lesson the nutty flavor. 

Please note that these will melt, hence the name freezer fudge, so be mindful of when you serve them.  For additional portion control, I also like to pour the mixture into mini muffin tins for faux peanut butter cups.  They are divine!  For those wondering about the coconut oil, if you add less oil take note that the fudge will be stickier.  My husband, who doesn’t care for coconut flavor, loves these little things!

Here is what they look like in the mini paper cups … better than the name-brand version and it doesn’t take that much extra time!

Freezer fudge in paper cups

Or just pour the entire mixture into a pan to freeze it!

Freezer fudge plate freezer fudge bite

Enjoy these quick and easy dishes are sure to please any crowd and not require you to be in the kitchen all day!

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