Guest blog by Bianca Osbourne
What the first word that comes to mind when the word gratin comes up? I’d bet my house that it isn’t the word vegan, and with good reason. Anything “Au Gratin” is traditionally made with heaps of cream, a ton of cheese and starchy, high glycemic potatoes; nothing against the potato- it has lots of merits- but in the name of health they aren’t my favorite.
On the other hand, as starchy vegetables go sweet potatoes are my absolute favorite; all the satiety of regular potatoes minus the glycemic load. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber (half of which is soluble), rich in carotenoids, especially beta carotene, and loaded with vitamin A and heart healthy potassium with a dollop of calcium mixed in for good measure. Eat your heart out spuds!
As a natural foods chef, I believe that no dish should be off limits, only modified to accommodate everyone! This is the philosophy that bore this recipe.
Raw cashews have the power to mimic cream like nothing else in a natural food pantry; and when they are soaked they become activated, meaning their enzyme activity skyrockets and is then able to nourish our bodies from the inside. By blending the cashews with nutritional yeast, we are able to create a 100% vegan “cheese” sauce that is also a complete protein.
A complete protein you ask? Why yes! Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids that the body needs and cannot produce on its own; and it tasted EXACTLY like cheese- I promise!
Now, this recipe is one that you should make ahead and eat all week long; because as with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Sweet Potato Gratin only gets better with age!
Vegan Sweet Potato Gratin
2 sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
1 lrg sweet onion, sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup baby kale
In a pot heated to medium heat, cook the onions and garlic in the coconut oil for 8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and very fragrant. Stir in baby kale, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and remove from heat. Set aside.
Ingredients for non-dairy cream:
¼ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
In a food processor, blend the cashews, nutritional yeast, and ½ cup coconut milk and blend until smooth; about 3 minutes. You want it to very loose and creamy.
Method to Assemble:
1) Layer the ingredients in an oven safe dish in the following order.
· Sweet potato
· Onion Kale mixture
· Cashew Cream
· ½ tsp salt
2) And repeat until the gratin has been assembled.
Ingredients for Topping:
1 ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
1 rosemary sprig
1) Pour the coconut milk over the entire dish and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and rosemary leaves.
2) Bake in a 4000F oven for 30 minutes and broil on low for 5 minutes.
Bianca Osbourne is an Edmonton based natural foods chef, with a passion for educating; she believes in empowering people to harness the power of real food for ultimate health and vitality! She teaches private, hands on and demonstration style cooking classes all over Alberta; and she shares her recipes on her website Vitality Guide for Women.
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