Life Hack: Vegan Nacho Cheez

Vegan Nacho Cheez Sauce | Orthodox and Vegan
Have I told you how much I LOVE tahini sauce?! It is simple to make, includes few ingredients, and is quite versatile. The variation I use for vegan nachos is my favorite. I pay about $7 for a 32oz jar of tahini, enough to make approximately 25 large plates of nachos! It doesn’t really taste like cheese*, but it does taste pretty wonderful.

*UPDATE* So a friend of mine made his own little variation based on my recipe and had some friends totally believing they were eating a very non-vegan cheese sauce! SO THERE.

Lenten Tahini Nacho Sauce
And the rest of the ingredients for the nachos are just as simple: finely chopped veggies – I prefer bell pepper, onion, and tomato, and sometimes fresh garlic. Black beans and corn would also be great. Simply drizzle the tahini sauce over the chips, add toppings…

Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce
and bake!

Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce
The sauce thickens and keeps the toppings from falling off.

Lenten Recipes: Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce
When the sauce begins to brown you know it’s done.

Lenten Recipes: Vegan Tahini Nacho Sauce | Orthodox and Vegan
Tahini Nacho Cheez Sauce
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
Lemon juice, salt and garlic to taste.
1/2 tsp turmeric, for color
20-30 shakes of Frank’s Redhot Sauce (depending on how hot you want it)

Whisk all ingredients together. Add water a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Other optional seasonings:
black pepper
smoked paprika
chili powder

Now, you can use this sauce as a dip (or eat it with a spoon, I won’t judge!), but for vegan nachos:

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl, stir together tahini, water, and lemon juice. Season to taste with spices and hot sauce, adding turmeric for color if desired. Finely chop toppings of choice.
On a baking tray or large oven proof plate, arrange tortilla chips in a single layer. Drizzle with tahini sauce. Sprinkle with toppings.

Bake 10 – 15 minutes, until tahini sauce thickens and begins to brown.

Oh, and this sauce is also perfect for chili cheez fries! What’s your favorite way to spice up tahini sauce???

Vegan Potato Nachos with Tahini Sauce

Vegan Potato Nachos with Tahini Sauce
I love these vegan nachos because they’re beautifully colorful and very simple to throw together. Sometimes when I buy potatoes, I bake a bunch of them all at once and throw them in the fridge to use as needed. For these nachos, you can use whatever kind of potato you want, big or small (sweet potatoes might be a little odd, but you could work with them!). I used purple potatoes, and the results are stunning 🙂

Vegan Potato Nachos
baked potatoes, sliced
tahini nacho cheez sauce
favorite toppings

Preheat oven to 425.
Place potatoes on a small baking tray in a single layer. Drizzle with about half the tahini sauce, and sprinkle on your favorite toppings. Drizzle remaining tahini sauce over the toppings. Bake at 425 until tahini sauce has thickened and is lightly browned (around 10 – 15 minutes).
Alternatively, you can make the nachos on a microwave safe plate and nuke for a minute or two, until the sauce has thickened.

Serves 1 to 2

These are great with a side of bean dip and guacamole, and you can make it a meal for 4 by adding a big ol’ bowl of Spanish rice.

These nachos are oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Gluten Free Cracker Nachos with Coconut Flour

I’m so excited! I was asked to come up with a recipe using coconut flour – it’s actually an ingredient I’ve been meaning to try for a long time since there are plenty of occasions when I need to whip up a gluten free or grain free food option (and at, you can get Organic Coconut Flour for just a tad more than I paid locally for non-organic – wish I would’ve seen that sooner!) I like that it’s high in iron and protein, especially now that I’m getting back to the gym.

I used the flour in two recipes so I could get a feel for it, and I’ll be posting a nice breakfast recipe tomorrow. But for the first one, I just modified my recipe for Gluten Free Crackers. So instead of

1 1/4 C brown rice flour
1 1/4 C almond flour/meal
1/2 C teff flour,

I did
1 1/4 C almond meal
1 1/4 C teff flour
1/2 coconut flour

I also added 1/2 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.
(Full recipe for crackers & nacho sauce below)

You don’t have to go this far, but I like playing with my food. Feel free to make the crackers any shape you want.

Bake as usual.

I thought I had a unique idea, but did you know cracker nachos are already a thing? However I have yet to see any with my almost-famous Tahini Nacho Cheez sauce! Add all your favorite veggies, maybe some beans – whatever you want. Drizzle with The Sauce. Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes,

or until the sauce thickens and just begins to brown.

Now I’m just showing off the cool plate I found at Salvation Army yesterday 🙂

In these crackers, you cannot taste the coconut flour at all and there was no difference in the texture. Coconut flour is a bit drier than others, so just add a little extra water if the dough seems dry.
If you sub coconut flour for more than 1/2 C of the other flours, you may also notice a slightly sweet taste.

How have you used coconut flour?

Gluten Free Crackers with Coconut Flour
1 1/4 C brown rice flour
1 1/4 C almond flour/meal
1/2 C teff flour
6 Tbsp ground flax
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp sesame seeds
3/4 C water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, mix well with a spoon, then knead with your hands until the ingredients come together. Divide the dough into manageable balls and roll it out to 1/8″ thick on parchment. Cut dough into cracker shape of choice.
With the dough still on the parchment paper, carefully lift the paper and place in on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 18 to 20 minutes, or until crackers are slightly golden. Let crackers cool before using. But leave the oven on for the nachos!

Tahini Nacho Cheez Sauce
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
Lemon juice, salt and garlic to taste.
Add water until desired consistency is reached.

Add to taste:
Frank’s Redhot Sauce
black pepper
smoked paprika
chili powder
Optional: turmeric for color

In a small bowl, stir together tahini, water, and lemon juice. Season to taste with spices and hot sauce, adding turmeric for color if desired. Finely chop toppings of choice.
On a baking tray or large oven proof plate, arrange gluten free crackers in a single layer. Add toppings and drizzle with nacho sauce.

Bake 10 – 15 minutes, until tahini sauce thickens and begins to brown.

Steamed Veggies with Avocado Sauce

I still have three avocados left! Last night we had steamed veggies and baked potatoes for dinner. Normally I would soak everything in olive oil, or at least put a ton of margarine on my potatoes, but during Lent I usually use a tahini sauce. Then in one of the facebook groups I’m in, I was reminded of an avocado tahini dressing I made for a salad a couple Lents ago.

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce
This time around I used one heaping tablespoon tahini, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice to taste. Thin it down with water,

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce2
add one coarsely chopped avocado,

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce3
and mash it with a fork, stirring it into the tahini sauce, until smooth. You can add more water to thin it down, reseason as needed.

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce4
I like to make a veggie bowl with the baked potatoes on the bottom. I cut them open and mash them, add salt, pepper, garlic, and nutritional yeast, and then put the veggies on top.

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce5
Add the tahini avocado sauce.

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce6
And stir it all up.

2015-3-4 Avocado Tahini Sauce7
I love the creamy dressing with the potatoes, and if you get a big chunk of broccoli on your fork, too, it’s kind of like cream of broccoli soup. Thanks to the tahini and avocado, one bowl will fill you up (but you should have enough sauce for two servings).

And since it’s oil free, it’s perfect for a strict fasting day.

Vegan Super Bowl Recipes!

It’s that time of year again, and Super Bowl XLIX is just a couple days away. If you or a loved one are a vegan in need of snacks for a Super Bowl party (even if it’s a party of one, we’ve all been there), you are in the right place. I present you with:

2012102 fried pickles12
Fried Pickles with Ranch – Baked & Veganized!

20140306 buffalo tofu3 banner
Buffalo Tofu, also great with the tahini ranch from the fried pickles recipe!

2013317 final pizzas4
Favorite Crust & Sauce Recipes
Eggplant Pizza, Spinach Pizza
Mexican Pizza
Neapolitan Pizza

20140125 deluxe cheesy fries7
Cheezy Nachos

20121129 nachos4
Vegan Nachos with Tahini Cheez Sauce
(Or you can cheat and use Daiya Shreds)

201333 popcorn9
Popcorn with Buttery Frank’s Redhot Sauce

2014 Lenten Potluck #4: vegan nachos

I’m so behind in posting about the Lenten potlucks! This is from last week. I basically used a bunch of leftover ingredients from Tuesday Taco Night to make vegan nachos since last Wednesday was a feast day (the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel) on which oil is permitted.

You’ve probably seen my nachos before, but if you haven’t, check THIS out. These nachos are topped with tomatoes, onion, bell pepper & cactus, and I added a little olive oil to the mix. Covered in my tahini nacho cheez sauce.

Lots of Lenten desserts last week.

When you can have oil on a Wednesday in Great Lent, you might as well go all out and just put out a bowl of it!

Of course I didn’t have room on my plate for everything, but along with my nachos I had baba ganouj, quinoa with mushrooms and asparagus, some sort of yummy blueberry-filled dessert thing with a nice, crispy top,

and a bowl of lentils & potatoes. You can’t see it, but underneath there’s also a scoop of rice with chickpeas. Everything was excellent. Tonight will be bittersweet…looking forward to seeing what everyone will bring, but it’s the last Lenten potluck of the year 🙁

Gluten Free Vegan Paleo Halawe (Halva) Brownies

Another day using someone else’s recipe. When I saw Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies from pop up in my feed, I had to try it. Who doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter together?!?!! Well, people who are allergic to peanuts, for one. And people on a paleo diet, for another. Luckily I’m not either of those, but for the sake of others I decided to experiment. Preheat your oven to 325.

If you’ve been around this blog very long, you know how much I love tahini – I have a whole page dedicated to tahini in my recipe index.

So I substituted 2 C tahini for the peanut butter.

Sweeten with 3/4 C honey, agave or maple syrup (or to taste). Mix thoroughly.

I also replaced the chocolate with 1/2 C raisins, roughly chopped.

To bind the brownies, the original recipe says you can use 2 tbsp. ground chia or flax + 6 Tbsp water. I went with the chia seeds. Make sure you let it set at least 10 minutes.

Then add it to your tahini along with 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. I think I ended up adding closer to 1 or 2 tsp because I just really like vanilla. Hm, I hope vanilla extract is paleo…

Mix it up. With the chia seed “jelly” mixed in, the batter seems somewhat gelatinous. Well I guess that makes sense.

Spread the batter out in a 9×13 pan that’s either been greased or lined with parchment. I’m actually not sure it’s necessary when using tahini because of the natural oils, but I did it anyway just to be safe. Next time I’ll be more daring and see what happens.

Bake at 325 for 25 minutes, or until the brownies brown around the edges.

I was so nervous about these little guys. I made them for a Lenten bake sale at church yesterday, and I was afraid people would bite into them expecting a regular ol’ chocolate brownie. I decided to call them halva brownies because most people in my parish would understand this means there’s a sesame flavor. I’m so glad at least the few people I got feedback from seemed to really like them! One day I’ll try them with peanut butter for myself (and even add some chocolate chips), but I’m glad I had a reason to try these with tahini.

Do you have a favorite vegan brownie recipe? Feel free to share!

By the way, these are oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Buffalo Tofu Bites

Okay, I’m back! Last night we had our first Presanctified Liturgy of Lent, followed by our first Lenten potluck of the year. I made Buffalo Tofu Bites (oil free, perfect for a strict fasting day), a snack that is much beloved by my friends at any time of the year – but especially during Lent, or on Super Bowl Sunday! Recipe below.

20140306 buffalo tofu
I use water-packed tofu that is frozen and then thawed, giving it a meatier texture.

Last night I had to pop it in the commercial convection oven at church before I went to Liturgy. It bakes way faster, so I never know what temp to use or for how long. I ended up covering it with foil and baking it at 300 for about an hour, then ran to check on it and turn it after Communion, and popped it back in without the foil at 375 for the last 15 minutes I was in the chapel.

I was really nervous when Father decided to give a sermon at the end, but luckily the timing was perfect. It was nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. There have been a couple times when I came back to the kitchen to find my food shrunk down to almost nothing, or was totally blackened!

There she is. It made a little more than I could fit in the bowl, so…I ate the extras.

We also had homemade black bean burgers with avocado, all kinds of veggies, and a tahini spread. There were 3 or 4 soups, some sort of casserole with cornbread on top and kidney beans on the bottom, chips & salsa, rolls, a giant bucket of rice!

And ful mudammas with pita bread. I think that’s everything… Next time I’ll try to sneak in earlier and get more pictures!

Buffalo Tofu
2 14oz packages water-packed tofu*

*You’ll need to prep the tofu at least two days ahead. Leaving the tofu in its sealed package, freeze for one day to ensure it’s completely frozen solid. Then thaw either by leaving in the fridge (can take a couple days) or by placing tofu STILL IN SEALED PACKAGE in a sink filled with very warm water. It can still take a couple hours to thaw in the water, and you will have to add hot water a few times during the process.
Once thawed, press tofu between two plates to get excess liquid out. Tear tofu into bite-size chunks.

Tahini Buffalo Sauce
1/2 C tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, to taste
1 tsp turmeric for color
optional: 2 tsp nutritional yeast

Combine all sauce ingredients, then thin it down with water until it’s soupy, stirring the water in a little at a time.

Add tofu to sauce and toss to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours to two days.

Preheat oven to 400.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Spread tofu over tray in single layer and bake 45 minutes, or until tofu is nicely browned. Gently turn the tofu halfway through.

We often eat these Buffalo Tofu Bites on their own, but you can also serve them with celery sticks and your favorite vegan ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

Eggplant Pizza, and Spinach Pizza from Mars (or something)


I got behind posting my pizzas, but believe me, I haven’t gotten behind on Pizza Week. Thursday night I attempted to recreate another one of the pizzas I had in Italy.

Well, it’s kind of like a melding of two. At one restaurant I had an ultra thin crust pizza with nothing on it but sauce and thinly sliced garlic. At another place they sold the pizza in thick rectangular pieces topped with thinly sliced eggplant.

I baked it at 500 like the others, but it took a bit longer with the thicker crust (10 – 15 minutes).

This is one of my favorite kinds of pizza. The one thing I think is different,

I think I need more oil and salt in the crust to give it an authentic flavor. At least that’s how I remember it, it was a really long time ago.

Then last night I did a spinach pizza with the last of my crust & sauce. And also…

lots of garlic. I love garlic. I spread plenty of olive oil on the crust and then added about 3 cloves worth of thin slices of garlic.


and spinach. You could tear the leaves, or use baby spinach, but I wanted to make a statement pizza. Wouldn’t hurt to cover the leaves with more sauce, too, but I just like how this looks.

For my cheese, a tahini sauce with a heaping tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp vegan cream cheese, salt, onion powder, a little nutritional yeast, then thin it down with water enough to spoon it on the pizza. Drizzle everything with a little olive oil.

It looks like a pizza from outerspace.

The “cheese” firmed up and browned beautifully.

How many thin crust pizzas does it take to feed a vegan?

Just one 14″ is fine. I ate the whole thing, but you can do that with a minimalist pizza. Then I found a nice way to use up my leftover tahini sauce and spinach and ate that, too. I’ll post it later.

I’ll try to squeeze in the rest of my pizzas before Pizza Week is up. Today my sister and her family are coming to town and we’re taking our mom out for lunch. FOR PIZZA. I’m hoping we can try a new place, but we’ll see. For Sunday dinner we’ll all be making our own pizzas. Should be fun!

Oil Free Salad in a Jar

20131115 jar salad tahini2

Just a quick one this morning, a variation on the jar salad I posted last week.

20131115 jar salad tahini
Again, pretty much whatever veggies you want. Mine has bell pepper, smoked baby wheat, onions, romaine, tomatoes, olives, and frozen peas. I filled the jar all the way to the top this time because…

20131115 jar salad tahini3
it was an oil free day, and my tahini dressing is too thick to just shake it up in the jar. That meant I got a bigger salad 🙂

20131115 jar salad tahini4
So I did have to bring an extra container to work, no big deal. This is just a basic tahini sauce with spirulina added.

Perfect for a strict fasting day like today, and many more days to come during the Nativity Fast which begins today. A very blessed 40 days to everyone!