The Secret Guacamole Ingredient Everyone Must Try

True life: I’m a guacamole addict. But there are worse things to be addicted to? Right? Right.

Lately, my I’ve gravitated towards a less is more cooking policy, and the easy guacamole pictured here only requires a handful of ingredients: Really ripe avocados, tomatoes, garlic, red onion and lime juice. (Oh and extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper but I’m hoping if you’re reading this, that’s a pantry staple for you). And behold, my back-pocket weapon: Grapes! They add a perfect fruity twist, without being overly sweet and if you squeeze a bit of the juice into the guac, it proves a nice complement for the tangy lime juice, blah blah blah…

guac  guacamole 3

Here’s How You Make 5-Ingredient Guacamole That Isn’t Boring

So many reasons to love this perfect, chunky spread that happens to be naturally vegan. We all know it’s so blah blah blah healthy your gut microbiota does a happy dance, but it also happens to be the most delicious thing to meet sliced bread on a hot summer’s day that I can think of.

Recently, I’ve been recipe testing up a guacamole storm (In fact, I’ve got so much in my fridge, I’ve started using it on pasta in lieu of tomato sauce. Pretty tasty, who knew?) for Camp Sunshine, where I’ll be volunteering later this summer. I’m looking forward to cranking out a classic rendition of it in August with the kids, but a household lime-and-red-tomato shortage (the horror!) led me to stumble upon this fun riff on the classic.

Couldn’t be easier. Here goes:

Kumato-Basil Lemon Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato* tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
We are not counting salt and pepper as ingredients because that will ruin the 5-ingredient wonder, but you can add these

*Pictured below, Kumato tomatoes are mildly sweet, crisp and juicy brown-red-green-purpley tomatoes that are worth checking out.FullSizeRender (7)

1. Scoop out avocados into bowl and combine with tomato, basil, olive oil and lemon juice. Mash with fork to desired consistency Add sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. A flip of cayenne pepper for heat. Serve immediately or store in fridge and squeeze lemon over it every few hours to keep from oxidizing. Or if you forget to do that, squeeze with lemon before serving and hope it de-browns.

 

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Meanwhile, like in life, one good thing leads to another (or an occasional bad decision) and four avocados later, I arrived at another hit.

 

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Behold:  Spicy Caper-Spiked Kumato-Basil Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
Cayenne and paprika, to taste (I used a dash of each)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Splash Balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Follow the same directions as above but with this set of ingredients. I’m pretty sure you know how to make guacamole. This rendition works particularly well spread on toast or, if you’re note feeling vegan, spread out as a bed for a plan of grilled salmon.

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This is What a Snack Looks Like When You’re in Culinary School

 

vegan spring snack
vegan spring snack

…Because it’s impossible to not feel guilty if you just want a goddamn handful of pretzels. Oh well, the red chile  pepper flake-studded focaccia with avocado, snow peas, pickled radishes, asparagus, frisee, cherry tomatoes and various other leftovers salvaged from Friday Night Dinner at school (ditto for the pretty tulips) only took me twenty-five minutes to put together. And yes, I may have just eaten that entire pecan-crusted berry tart. But hey, agar is a sea vegetable so it’s good for you…am I right? 😉

vegan spring snack
vegan spring snack

8 Instagram Feeds That Dish Up Fit Food

Your Instagram account may be a secret weapon in hitting your healthy eating ball out of the park in 2015. With stunning photos and inspiring words, crush cravings for junk and learn simple nutrition tips and cooking secrets to help you in the kitchen. That banana-chia-almond-butter-cacao-nibs shake never looked so good…

Hummusapien

This blogger and registered dietician spotlights nutrient-rich meals from festive winter salads to decadent desserts that you can feel good about indulging in. Gingerbread made with chickpeas, anyone?

Vegan When Sober

Exactly what it sounds like.  Oh and, yes this is me. Clean, healthy eats 90% of the time, along with healthy eating advice, and the occasional guilt-free splurge. Because, hey, you’ve got an 8:00am spin class tomorrow that will crush any remnants of that peanut butter chocolate bourbon caramel monkey bread pie.

Natural Gourmet Institute

Live vicariously through the life of a culinary school student that reminds you that eating healthy is anything but bland and boring. This unique health-supportive cooking school is all about whole foods, unrefined ingredients and taking charge of your health through what you eat and gives you no shortage of tantalizing dishes to heart. Now, if you’ll excuse us, that carrot, parsnip and ginger soup with flax crackers is beckoning.

The Healthy Apple

What do cranberry-quinoa burgers and white bean and chai coconut salads have in common? Two meals you never dreamed you wanted until you see them on this account and make a mad dash to the supermarket. Her ever-sunny PMA (that’s army speak for Positive Mental Attitude, will brighten your day, while her swoon-worthy food photos will keep you hungry for more.

Miss Naturally Ashley

Calling all smoothie aficionados! Drool over fresh, simple smoothie and juices with empowering and motivating affirmations sprinkled throughout. P.S. Date-orade. Who knew?!

Raw Vegan Blonde

Fruits, vegetables and raw vegan delights never looked so appetizing. The vibrant arrangements of nature’s bounty will have you craving a colorful coleslaw or raw vegan “spaghetti bolognese like never before.”

Craving Thirty

What time is it? You guessed right. From veggie stir fries to butternut squash soup, you’ll be lusting over plant-based delights with the occasional inspiring mantra or meditative scene sprinkled in throughout.

Almonds and Avocados

Two awesome superfoods make for one awesome healthy eating destination on this curated selection of healthy eats. Broaden your culinary horizons –millet, nutritional yeast and panang curry, oh my!–and give yourself a laugh break with her humorous quotes like “I just want to make enough money to never have to think twice about adding guacamole.” So true.

Swirl This Surprising Ingredient Into Butternut Squash

Apparently, I’m on a mashed non-potatoes kick.

When I found some organic butternut squash in my freezer, I went to work. And by work, I mean, boiled water, dumped the squash in, put a lid on it, waited five minutes, and then strained out the water and added the squash to a bowl and mashed it with my fork.

So what’s this magical go-to? Mild yellow miso paste. Just a dollop, but this umami-rich paste complements the natural sweetness of the squash. while lending a palate-popping savoriness. With a sprinkle of smoked paprika, this three ingredient lunch is as simple as it is gobble-worthy. I’m totally not on my third bowl. Totally.

3-Ingredient Potato-less Mashed Potatoes

Crusty French bread. Pasta. Mashed potatoes. When it comes to vices, mine aren’t shoes or nightly Sex and the City marathons (okay, maybe the latter…) but carbs. Oh man. Sign me up! For me, there’s no such thing as plate loaded too high with flaky, bready, potato-y, pasta-y goodness. Unfortunately, my snug jeans beg to differ. Luckily, these silky, creamy, rich “mashed no-potatoes”(or “potato-less mashed potatoes” as my body building boyfriend cleverly quipped) replicate that comfort food fix you crave, sans calories and the unhealthy fat you load in from butter, milk and cream.

So what’s the secret swap for those formidable balls-o-carbs? Zucchini! Just boil the heck out of it, take your fork and mash, mash, mash away. It’s texturally-perfect, nutrionally-abundant and shockingly addictive.

3-Ingredient Potato-less Mashed Potatoes
Serves 1 (adjust proportions as needed based on how much you’re making)
1 zucchini
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt, to taste
Optional: freshly ground black pepper, red chile pepper flakes

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a few spirals from the zucchini. Meanwhile, heat a pot of water to boil.
2. Place the rest of the zucchini in the boiling in water. Boil until impossibly soft (You can check by piercing it with a fork or knife).
3.  Using a fork (or potato masher if you are feeling fancy), mash the zucchini and add the olive oil. Season to taste and top with the raw zucchini shreds. Rejoice in a guilt-free spoonful of comfort.

(flowers also courtesy of aforementioned body building boyfriend)

9 Genius Tricks for Ordering Chinese Take-out

You know those nights when you don’t want to cook? Yeah, I don’t really either. But on those rare nights where nothing will hit the spot quite like greasy Chinese food, here are some simple but brilliant tips for keeping it vegan.

1. Scallion pancakes. Enough said.

2. Ask what’s in their brown sauce or garlic sauce. Both can have oyster sauce or other animal products.

3. If the other sauces aren’t vegan friendly, here’s a simple swap: Ask for the “clear sauce” instead. This simple corn-starch based sauce (sometimes studded with scallions) is vegan.

4. A great entree option (that’s super healthy too) is mixed steamed veggies with brown rice and clear sauce (on the side, if you like). Extra hungry? Have tofu added (some menus already have this included) for some filling protein.

5. Sharing with multiple folks? If they’re getting tasty vegan options like baby eggplant, veggie trios, stir-fried crispy tofu with chile and cumin, braised assorted fresh mushrooms, mixed veggies and tofu, etc. (hungry yet?) ask for the sauce on the side, you can avoid those that aren’t vegan. And things like cold sesame peanut noodles, veggie dumplings, etc. you don’t have to worry about asking the sauce issue because it either comes on the side or is vegan.

6. Ask if they have any vegan soups. (or vegetarian, I’ve never heard of a Chinese restaurant that adds dairy to soups, or uses any kind of dairy for that matter. When was the last time you heard of chicken Teriyaki with melted cheese?)

7. Ask if they can omit egg from your veggie fried rice.

8. Don’t stress too much. If you accidentally ingest an ounce of brown sauce with animal products in it or inadvertently have a bite of something glazed with fish sauce, don’t sweat it. You want to show people how simple and delicious it is to be vegan, so don’t get too caught up in “rules” and worrying if your tofu was grilled on the same hot top as salmon was. You’ll drive yourself crazy, and your missing the bigger picture of kind and conscious eating.

9. Get your takeout out of those sad looking containers and into pretty bowls. Not only does this make for a happier looking meal, but it’ll help with portion control (ever notice how massive those Tupperwares are filled?) Nothing spells sad and pathetic pig out fest list eating your way through 2/3rds of your main course and that dinky white paper rice box and then figuring “Screw it, I’m almost done, I might as well finish it all.” And then your significant other being mad at you because they find you passed out in the bed five minutes later.