Easy Vegan Dips ~ Shallot & Banana Pepper Relish

Hummus.

Salsa.

Pesto.

Spinach & artichoke.

Romesco.

Tapenade.

Vegan queso.

What do these yummy dishes all have in common? They are delicious vegan dips!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am always looking for different things to dip-ify. My favorite is salsa, followed up with hummus but I can totally get down with a nice tapenade if the olive selection is appealing enough. But any one of these vegan dips can get boring after a while and I find it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, so when my father-in-law brought A LOT of white plums back from a trip to the Romanian countryside, it was the perfect time to improvise.

White plums are not just for sweet vegan dishes

To be fair, white plums are not all that delicious on their own. The texture is very similar to the plums you can find in most supermarkets around the world, but the taste is so mild that it’s almost nonexistent. If you give them a day or two after they’re perfectly ripe, they are much sweeter and perfect for this vegan relish I created. Well…maybe someone else created and I just made it up in my head. Either way, this one is mine and I’m claiming it.

Quick & easy vegan dips don’t have to be complicated. Just add chips!

The ingredient list on this vegan dip is super simple. All you need is: banana pepper, shallot, white plums, fresh lemon juice and rice vinegar. The only seasoning I added was salt, black pepper & garlic granules.

Nothing else.

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Start with the shallots, because you want to give him a little bit of pickling so they don’t overpower the other ingredients. Dice the shallots and add them straight to a bowl, along with salt, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Give it a little stir and let it sit while you chop the banana peppers and plums.

I used jarred banana peppers because that’s what I had on hand, and truthfully I don’t think I’ve seen any fresh banana peppers since moving to Romania. Add the banana peppers to the bowl and give a good stir before moving on to the plums.

For the white plums, you can peel the skin off but I kept them on because, you know, fiber. Give them an even dice and add to the bowl. Give everything a quick stir and refrigerate. I let them sit in the fridge for a few days so the flavors could get together and have a little party, but you can dig right in if you want.

And now you have another easy vegan dip added to your repertoire.

And what’s even better? It is SUPER calorie/figure friendly!

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I know what you’re thinking. What the hell do I do with this weird vegan relish?

I’m glad you asked.

Shallot, banana pepper & white plum relish with tortilla chips

You can use this dip in a number of ways

*Mix it with your favorite brand of vegan tuna and make a sandwich

*Grab tortilla chips and nosh away

*Pita chips or pita bread, naan, rustic bread etc…

*Add a few tablespoons to your favorite vegan yogurt or sour cream and make a creamy dip

*Add it on top of your favorite vegan hot dog or sausage, Chicago style

If you’re feeling really hungry, grab a spoon and let go, but I recommend a healthy dose of carbs to go with it.

My Vegan Junk Food Haul

I’ve made no secret on this blog about my attempt to eat healthier. I started a vegan lifestyle in May 2017 and since then I’ve lost more than 45kg, I have increased my muscle mass and have almost no jiggly skin remaining. Yay me.

But I’m not telling you this just to brag or clap myself on the back, I’m telling you because I have worked really hard to maintain a healthy diet at all times without going overboard. But, a person with more than 45 kilograms to lose has a clear love and/or addiction to food, right?

Soooo right.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy a little bit of junk every once in a while. And whenever there are new vegan products that hit the market, I try them out to see if they’re worth breaking the calorie bank. Newsflash: They usually aren’t.

But let’s dig in and see, shall we?

Before I get into my vegan junk food haul, let me tell you a little bit about the healthy things I do to keep the weight off and stay healthy & fit.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies EVER!

Today’s post is kind of a brag-post or rather, a way for me to gush about a really great vegan cookie recipe I came across recently.

Baking is not my strong suit in the kitchen, not really. I can mix and match flavors with the best of’em, but I need a base recipe to work from because I am very good at following a recipe.

So today I’m doing a little thank you and a little brag to the blog Loving It Vegan for this easy chocolate chunk cookie recipe.

This is a quick and easy vegan cookie recipe and chances are good that you have all he ingredients you need in your pantry.

Find the recipe here.

I used chocolate chunks because I have yet to come across vegan chocolate chips here in Romania and I like having big chunks in some bites and tiny slivers in others.

I haven’t been this satisfied with a vegan cookie recipe since I veganized my favorite peanut butter cookie recipes, and that was one of the first dessert recipes I veganized back when I was a new vegan.

These cookies are crispy on the edges and super soft on the inside, reminding me of why I don’t make cookies all that often. They are, honestly, too good and I had to do a long, grueling workout today to make up for how many I tested out yesterday.

Thank you, PopSugar.

What’s your favorite cookie recipe? I don’t eat them often, but I make them a lot because my partner and my in-laws seem to love’em.

Squash & Spinach Vegan Queso Dip

I love a good dip. Maybe it’s because I love chips and vegan dips are the perfect way to enjoy them, or maybe it’s just because I love the act of dipping things into vats of creamy goodness.

Who knows?

Well I was really in the mood for a vegan spinach & artichoke dip but thanks to ‘world events’ a few weeks had gone by without any artichokes–fresh or jarred–so I was forced to improvise. And since I’ve been on a kick making vegan squash and vegan pumpkin recipes, you can imagine that I had quite a bit to use time and time again and I was like, “Well, squash can be made cheesy, right?”

The answer, folks, is yeah. It can.

As you can probably tell by the photo there is a lot of squash in this recipe, because it’s part of the dip as well as the queso, if that makes sense?

Ingredients:
Butternut Squash
Garlic
Spinach (frozen works well here)
Red bell pepper
Shallot
Nutritional yeast
Vegan cheese (for topping)
Tapioca starch
Olive oil
Almond milk (I used Alpro Almond, No Sugars)

Start with the shallots & bell peppers, giving them a quick saute, but do it in a pan big enough to hold the squash because this is a one pot vegan dip! When shallots & peppers are close to done, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two.

Then add the frozen spinach and break it up if you didn’t thaw it in cold water first. Now it’s time to add the…butternut squash! Use a wooden spoon to stir and make sure it’s all broken up, or pop it in the food processor or blender until smooth.

Season with desired herbs & spices and this is where you should also add the nutritional yeast for that pop of flavor.

Slowly add the milk until it’s a little loose and then add the tapioca starch, one teaspoon at a time until you notice that thick cheesy consistency start to form.

Garnish with your favorite vegan cheese and bake for 20 minutes on 180 Celsius. Eat with your favorite vegan dipper!

When this vegan queso dip comes out of the oven it’ll be golden brown and bubbly and HOT. Proceed with caution!

And if you’re like me and can’t get enough spice, add a few drops of Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce on top and dig right in!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Cupcakes

I know we all love to make fun of those who go a little crazy when pumpkin spice season rolls around, but the truth is these people are just taking advantage of an abundance of a spice blend that really should be available all year long. I mean, ask yourself, what is so wrong with any of these:

Cinnamon
GInger
Cloves
Allspice
Nutmeg

I can’t think of one reason to hate on these spices, especially when you have every type of squash and pumpkin at your disposal! It’s like being mad that your market has broccoli, cauliflower and romesco! Unfathomable, that’s what it is.

All I’m saying is, embrace the season and not just because we are all living in the Upside Down known as 2020, just enjoy because it’s tasty, easy to make and readily available.

All you have to do is take your favorite vegan pumpkin cupcake recipe, or a vegan cake recipe, or any other vegan autumn recipe and add the pumpkin spice blend to the dry ingredients. It really is just that simple.

And if you’re feeling really sauce, like I apparently was, add a pumpkin spice glaze by adding the same blend to powdered sugar along with almond milk, or any other nut milk, plus pinch of bourbon or brandy. For these vegan cupcakes, I used a splash of Apple Pie Moonshine because it has that extra hint of sweetness and booze that turn these vegan cupcakes into something truly amazing.

Want to make’em?

Here we go:

250g All Purpose Flour
225g Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 and 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (homemade or store bought)
335g Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I’m in love with this Madagascar vanilla from Dr. Oetker.
60ml Coconut Oil (or other oil, like EVOO)
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Vegan Egg (I like Arche or Megga Exx, both are German brands if you’re interested)

Mix the dry ingredients together and pour the wet into the dry, stirring until bend but be careful not to overmix or you’ll end up with tough, dense vegan pastries.

Bake at 180C for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Now you’re done and ready to gobble up your vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes!

If you plan to add a glaze, let the cupcakes cool for 15 to 20 minutes or you’ll end up with a big, gooey mess.

What do you like drink with your vegan cupcakes…beer? Cocktails? Almond milk?

Drop your answers in the comments!

Quick Vegan Snack ~ Coconut Date Bars

In my quest to find calorie friendly vegan snacks, I’ve been scouring blogs, YouTube and social media pages in search of inspiration of any kind. Unlike my partner, I don’t have a big sweet tooth so other than one little taste, cakes and cookies are mostly consumed by him. And my mother-in-law who comes with her own love of all things sugary.

Then I stumbled across this recipe from Honey It’s Plant Basedand I fell in love.

This recipe is easy, it’s fast and it’s totally vegan!

When I say this vegan snack recipe is easy, I mean it!

All you’ll need is a scale, a food processor and a casserole dish. Parchment paper optional.

Ingredients:

Cashews (I used raw & unsalted because the flavors are clean and toasted them a little)
Dates (pitted & chopped)
Coconut flakes
Lemon juice & zest
Vanilla

That’s it, pop the cashews into the food processor  (this is mine!) first and run until are fine-ish, almost like a meal.

Then add the dates because these suckers are sticky and you want them to break up enough to provide the binding for your vegan bars.

Finally, add the remaining ingredients until blended and then press into your casserole dish like the top photo.

Refrigerate until firm. If you’re too impatient to wait, they’ll crumble apart as soon as you cut into them. Cover and keep in the fridge until the container is empty, or freeze the leftovers.

The bars were not too sweet but very delicious. They would have been better but I didn’t have enough coconut as the recipe required, but I highly recommend anyway.

And the best thing about these bars is that I already have a few ideas to make different types of vegan snack bars to enjoy! In fact, my partner thinks these are pretty great pre-workout bars, though he only eats half when that’s the case.

If you make these, or any other of my vegan recipes, tag me on Facebook at The Spicy Spatula or on IG at indyjaxn!!