Purple Cauliflower Dip

Every now and then the wellness program at my office highlights a challenge. The one starting this next week is to eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit in the colors of the rainbow for a whole month.  Doing so (and logging my progress) earns me points towards a better health care plan rate, but I also see it as a great reminder to vary my fresh food.  We sometimes get in a rut, such as always grabbing an apple or carrot sticks for lunch.

When you stop and think about it though, how much blue or purple food do you eat? Probably not much, which I had demonstrated with my Does Color Effect Taste Experiment, but there are other options besides blueberries.

purple cauliflower

Take, for instance – purple cauliflower. Like many other blue/purple veggies and fruit it gets its color from anthocyanin which is thought to help reduce chances of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It is also the chemical behind the acid-base indicator made from cabbage. You may notice the cauliflower gets a pinkish hue when you add the lemon juice in this recipe as a result of the lower pH in that area.

purple cauliflower dip

Chemistry aside, I used the purple cauliflower to make a unique, light take on hummus. Mixing in the cauliflower not only gave the dip color, it also adds a sweetness to the snack. I enjoyed this with carrots and crackers, so be creative (or sneak in another color). I’m sure you will see some other challenge inspired dishes over the next month.

purple cauliflower dip

Purple Cauliflower Dip

1 lb purple cauliflower florets
One 15.5 can garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek


Add the cauliflower and garbanzo beans to a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the lemon juice and the olive oil and continue to process until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.  Once smooth, stir in the salt, garlic powder, basil, and fenugreek. Serve with crackers, chips, or carrot sticks.



With January 1st comes a re-commitment to New Year’s resolutions, resolutions such as:

(1) Eating healthier
(2) Trying something new

You can accomplish both with the babaganoush I made this week. Babaganoush is a an eggplant based dip with a variety of other spices depending on the origin of the recipe you use. I have used Ellie Krieger’s recipe with a few tweaks on quantity ( I increased the garlic and I added lemon zest and red pepper flakes) since I love her simplistic approach to the dish which borrows from the Israeli (the use of tahini) and other Levantine cultures (parsley, garlic, and lemon). Since the majority of the dip is eggplant, this really is a guilt free snack!

After roasting the eggplant I blended all the ingredients except for the parsley in a food processor until smooth. I then stirred in the parsley and served it with pita wedges for a tasty appetizer. It also served as a good excuse for a gyro lunch (OK, maybe that part wasn’t so healthy).


I hope we are all successful this year in keeping our resolutions, including the ones mentioned above!


1 large eggplant (~ 1 pound)
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
¼  teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼  cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fresh pita bread or pita chips


Preheat oven to 450 °F.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool, then cut the eggplant in half and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Add the garlic, salt, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes to the food processor and process the ingredients until a smooth dip is formed. Transfer to a medium sized bowl, stir in the parsley, and serve with pita wedges or pita chips.


Chile con Queso with Fresh Roasted Chilies and Cashew Cheese

I have been waiting all summer for fresh roasted chilies from my local farmers market. While I could roast peppers myself, you just can’t beat the chilies roasted over coals in a hopper. Last week I was informed that there was only one more week of waiting, so I put my name down for two bags of their medium Anaheim roasted chilies, assuming it was the quart sized bags they had last year.

What I hadn’t been told was that the list wasn’t for small bags of chilies, it was for bushels. BUSHELS. I had ordered TWO bushels of roasted chilies. I ended up leaving the market with one bushel, with the assurance that the other would go fast (which I have no doubt, seeing as how many people ask for them).

In case you are wondering, this is what a bushel of roasted chilies looks like . . . Getting through the entire fifteen pound bag may take a while, and will be why chilies may be a frequent ingredient in future postings.


The first thing I wanted to make with my chilies was Chili con Queso, surprisingly with a cheese substitute – Cashew Cheese. Cheese makes up a generous portion of my diet, which is why eliminating dairy from my diet temporarily to rule out a food sensitivity was difficult, and the few dairy-free cheeses I tried didn’t satisfy my craving. Thankfully, my cheese famine was short lived, though I’m always on the lookout for a good alternative, since some of my good friends have had to maintain a longer dairy hiatus.

Imagine my surprise when at a food event this April I stumbled upon cashew cheese.The unique aspect about the Beyond Better® product I picked up is that it is the only dried version on the market, making it a simple option to pack with you that requires only water for reconstitution. It is a diary-free, gluten-free, organic cheese substitute that actually tastes like cheese!


To make my Chili con queso, I cooked ½ pound of ground beef , then added the cashew queso dip and water,



then I added a bit of the diced freshly roasted chilies and some diced cherry tomatoes . . .



for a hearty, kid & husband approved, lunch of queso and blue corn chips.


Now I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining 14 ½ pounds of chilies. . . .


Chili con Queso with Fresh Roasted Chilies and Cashew Cheese

½ lb ground beef
4 oz package of Beyond Better® Spicy Queso Dip
1 ½ cups water
½ cup freshly roasted chilies, diced
½ cup diced cherry tomatoes

Cook beef in a skillet over medium heat until fully cooked and browned, breaking it into small pieces. Add the queso dip and water and stir until no clumps remain. Heat for 1-2 minutes longer, until thick and bubbly. Stir in the chilies and tomatoes, and then remove from the heat. Serve with corn chips.