Lentil Chili Nachos or Salad

This is so good it has to go on my favorites list. It's another winner from  Hot For Food
This recipe does take sometime to make, but it’s so worth it. Changes I made… increased the chili mixture, increased the nacho cheese sauce too. Add more taco seasoning because I found the lentil chill mixture a little on the bland side. Add more nutritional yeast based on someone’s suggestion in the comment section. I reduced jalapenos and the pickled jalapeno juice dramatically in cheese sauce. Use cooked lentils please don’t use canned lentils they are always so mushy and lacking in flavor. Besides they only take about 20 minutes to cook, they can be cooking while you're preparing other things. I also decide to add a low salt and calorie option by making this recipe into a salad.

Package taco seasoning has a lot of salt in it, as does vegetable stock and tortilla chips. I’ve listen low salt options after them.

Nacho Cheese Sauce:

1 1/2 cup peeled, cubed & cooked potato, then cooled 
3/4 cup peeled, cubed & cooked carrots
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or any other light tasting oil)
1/3 cup water
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp jalapeno pickling liquid
1 Tbsp pickled jalapeno peppers, or more to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp sea salt

Put ingredients into food processor. Then pour into a small pot and heat. Pour over nachos when ready to use. You may need to add some water to thin out the sauce.

Lentil Chili:

2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or other light tasting oil)
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp celery seed powder
2 tsp garlic, grated 
1 package spicy taco seasoning + 2 Tbsp or 3 Tbsp no salt, homemade taco seasoning*
3 cups cooked green or brown lentils
1 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes, or no salt added tomatoes, drained & blended
1/3 cup vegetable stock or low sodium vegetable broth or water 
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper  
1/2 tsp cayenne (if you want it spicy)

Other Ingredients:

tortilla chips (or crushed tortilla chips on a salad (posted below)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup green onions

In a large frying pan or wide pan heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions, red pepper and celery for 3 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add taco seasoning and garlic and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Then add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer for a couple of minutes, then reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep chill warm until ready to serve. Arrange platter with a layer of tortilla chips, layer with chili then add other ingredients then drizzle with nacho cheese sauce. Instead of a platter you can do individual bowls. Serves 8

                                      Lentil Chili Salad

I have to say I saw a disappointed look on my husband’s face when I said we were going to have lentil chili as a salad instead of over nachos. Once he tasted it he said it was good. He still got to have some tortilla chips, just in a much smaller amount, crushed on top of his salad.

head lettuce, chopped
spinach, chopped
lentil chili, lightly heated
nacho cheese sauce, lightly heated
chopped green onions
tortilla chips, crushed

Going in the order above, spread out each ingredient, layering till done

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix (no salt) 

1/3 cup chili powder 
3 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chili flakes (or more to taste, optional)

Mix ingredients together.  Store the taco seasoning in an air-tight container in a cool dark place until ready to use.

No Soy, No Salt - Soy Sauce

My husband recently has been having problems with high blood pressure. Also, he was having heart arrhythmia symptoms several times a week. After doing some research I realized it was time to reduce the sodium in his diet. Although, I don't feel that diet alone is the only change he needed since we both eat most of the same foods. A regular exercise routine was also needed, which I do. He lead such a sentry lifestyle that I use to think of him as a sloth. Thankfully that has changed and he has started using a treadmill on a regular basis. I'm hoping he will start lifting weights too. Since its so good for bone health. Its estimated that 1 in 6 men get osteoporosis.

I tried 3 other no salt, soy sauce recipes on line before I found this one. It's not as strong tasting as soy sauce but the flavor is pretty darn close.  This gem of a recipe comes from Hacking Salt. I don't like to promote a website that is not vegan but he does have important information on living on a low sodium diet. I also have to give him credit for coming up with such a great recipe!

I have made some changes to his original recipe. I double the recipe. Only use 1/2 the amount of liquid smoke because I felt using more would be too over powering. Added just a little less of the ginger. Of course I did not add the beef stock. You could use vegetable stock if you want to make this a low sodium soy sauce instead of just a no salt one. I left it out because this way I would be able to use as much as I needed without worrying about the salt amount creeping up.

Tbsp toasted sesame
clove garlic, minced
2 large cap Portobello mushroom
or 6 baby bellos, stems and ribs removed, finely chopped

cup water
Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
1 Tbsp liquid smoke (Wright's brand that is sodium free)
tsp molasses
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan or skillet, heat sesame oil. Saute garlic and mushrooms over medium to high heat for 6 minutes, watch to make sure you don't burn the garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer for 8 minutes then reduce heat to low. With a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and garlic, and place them into a strainer or cheesecloth, where you can press or squeeze as much juice as possible from the mushrooms and garlic back into the sauce. Increase the heat to medium and allow the sauce to reduce by 1/4 (about another 6 minutes). 

When substituting this soy sauce with the normal one I usually use double the amount the recipe calls for.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this post I don't find its as strong tasting as normal soy sauce. I also try to accommodate the extra liquid by reducing the amount of water or other liquids used in a recipe.

Store in small containers in the freezer. I use 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoon measurements.

Kale Caesar

Tried this salad a few months ago and I have been eating it almost everyday since. The dressing is just so addictive! It came from my favorite food blog...Hot For Food. They use it on their Vegan Chop Salad. Only changes I made was removing the parsley and dill then adding some coriander powder. I renamed it Caesar dressing because my friends said that's what it tastes like. I don't actually have this salad with vegan bacon bits or croutons. I just added them to the ingredient list for those wanting to make a more tradition Caesar Salad. I keep it simple - just kale, chopped cucumbers and green onions.

I know Hot for Food has 2 Caesar dressings on their blog. One that's made with tofu and the other with cashews. That's why I like this dressing its not made with either. Its great for people with a sensitively to soy and don't get me started on how expensive cashews are. I don't even look at recipes now that call for them. 

red kale, chopped into ribbons or shreds
juice from 1/2 a small lemon or lime juice 
pinch of sea salt

romaine lettuce, chopped or mixed greens
cucumber, chopped
green onions, chopped
tofu or coconut bacon bits
croutons, gluten free
Caesar dressing (recipe below)

In a large bowl add kale. Sprinkle lemon juice and salt over kale. Massage them into the kale. Let sit for 15 minutes until the kale has softened and wilted (this process removes the bitterness from the kale).

In the meantime you can make the dressing. Add rest of the salad ingredients to the large bowl with the kale, add some dressing and mix well. You will have left over dressing, store in fridge up to 7 days.

Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil (or any light tasting oil not extra virgin olive oil)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
1/4 cup hemp hearts*
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

Combine all the dressing ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.


*You can buy hemp hearts and nutritional yeast at most supermarkets or
at health food stores. I keep both of them in the freezer. 

I buy the PC brand hemp hearts, 800g for $15.00 at Fontinos supermarket. Saw Manitoba brand hemp hearts, 454g for $13.99 at a health food store. So don't over pay for them, shop around because health food stores might not be your best option. You can also buy Bob's Red Mill brand nutritional yeast at Fontinos supermarket. 

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