Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Archive for August, 2010


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 31, 2010

Kale is barely visible in the American diet and often appears merely as background garnish on salad bars. Yet, kale is right at the top of the A-list of foods with the highest nutrient density. Packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, and the antioxidants beta carotene and lutein & zeazanthin, this leafy green ought to be highly praised and given an honored place in the diet several times a week. Hopefully, this tasty recipe will lure you into the kale den.

You might even fall in love with kale after eating this salad because this kale has a partner to charm your taste buds and offer a pleasant crunch. Peanuts, also highly nutritious, are a great source of monounsaturated fat that helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Often grouped with nuts, peanuts are actually in the legume family and are a rich source of the antioxidant resveratrol that helps to induce good blood flow to the heart and brain.

The antioxidants in peanuts measure up to those fruits with the highest antioxidant levels: pomegranates, blackberries, and strawberries. You may be surprised to discover peanuts contain more antioxidants than apples, carrots, and beets.

Kale makes a gorgeous display on the dinner table and certainly packs a hearty nutritional punch. Dotted with bright red radishes, crisp cucumbers, and crunchy bits of roasted peanuts, this earthy forest green salad is bathed in a rich and creamy dressing that instantly satisfies the savory palate. The secret to softening the kale and making it so much easier to eat is giving it a loving massage, a technique that infuses it with deeper flavor as well. This salad is a great keeper. If you don’t finish it in one sitting, you can tuck it into a covered container and keep it refrigerated for up to 3 or 4 days.


Yield: 6 servings

1 large bunch kale, stems discarded, torn into small bite-size pieces
1 cup Cashew Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nutmill
1 bunch red radishes, sliced
2 Persian cucumbers, chopped
4 green onions, sliced

1/2 ripe avocado, chopped

1. Place the kale into a large mixing bowl and pour the Cashew Caesar Salad Dressing over. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale, mixing and massaging for one full minute to soften the kale and infuse it with flavor.
2. Add the peanuts, radishes, cucumbers, and green onions and toss well
3. Transfer the salad to an attractive serving bowl or platter and sprinkle the chopped avocado over the top.

If you cannot locate Persian cucumbers, use 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped

Cashew Caesar Dressing
Caesar salad remains a long-standing favorite. The original dressing was made with a generous measure of Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and a raw egg in a base of olive oil. I’ve taken grand liberties with this oil-free, cashew-based dressing. Far from the standard Caesar, this tasty version has a rich character all its own.

Yield: 2 3/4 cups

2 cups water, divided
1 cup cashews
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons dark miso
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon vegan Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum

1. Place 1 cup of the water, cashews, and garlic into the blender and process until the cashews are broken down. If using a high-powered blender, you can place all the ingredients into the blender at once.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and process until thoroughly incorporated and the dressing is smooth and creamy. Use a funnel to transfer the dressing into a narrow-neck bottle for easier pouring.
3. Use immediately or chill until ready to use. Shake well before using. Refrigerated, the dressing will keep for up to 10 days.

Substitute macadamias or pine nuts for the cashews

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, cashews, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, peanuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 3, 2010

What a kick it was to receive a Google Alert leading me to a delightful blog authored by Ashley, a zesty blogger. The alert came to my inbox because Ashley received a copy of my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet, from the publisher, Book Publishing Company, and made one of my unique nut-based recipes—BEAN BUTTER.

She loved it and shared her bubbly response on her blog. She even posted a photo of the book cover and took photos of the recipe in progress as it whirled in the food processor, traveled to a bowl, and finally ended up in her dish cuddled up next to a yummy banana.

When I read her upbeat comments on the book and the recipe, I was thrilled, naturally. We live in a world where so many people choose to find fault and criticize others’ accomplishments mercilessly that it was refreshing to read the good stuff—really positive, feel-good words. I can’t deny that it stroked by ego—honestly, it did—those sweet words made me smile a good long time and gave me double the happy outlook I normally have.

Since I created The Nut Gourmet, I’ve become so much more empathetic with other cookbook authors. Now that I’ve experienced the trials, successes, flops, and frustrations that go into developing an average of 150 recipes for a cookbook, I am ever so grateful for the sweet kudos that come my way.

Thank you Ashley, from the bottom of my heart. Now it’s my turn to share. Here’s Ashley’s blog Food, Fotos, and Fun!
Drop in for a visit and browse.

Now, for some more sharing. You, too, can enjoy the ever-so-nutty Bean Butter that features pecans–the favorite nut of Southern U.S.A. Combining unlikely ingredients often turns up pleasing results. Blending beans, dates, and pecans provides the base for a delectable spread that goes especially well with earthy breads like rye, whole wheat, or multigrain. For an ideal snack to serve the kids, spread Bean Butter on two slices of bread, then slip sliced bananas or thinly sliced apples in between to make a tasty, quick-fix sandwich.


1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
15 pitted dates
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, as needed

Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and process until thick and smooth. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl and redistribute the ingredients. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, for a creamier, softer consistency. For a sweeter spread, add more dates.

Posted in Bean Recipes, Nut Recipes, pecans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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