Oh hens, hens just wanna have fun: Vegan soy-free faux “chicken salad”

Those poor girls, always part of a joke having to explain why they cross the road. Why can’t we just let the chickens be? We can. I have been eating a lot of eggs for protein lately but have been questioning whether it is appropriate for me or not. The industrialized farming process in this country is inhumane and it is not always easy to access eggs raised on small ethical farms.  I want to limit my egg consumption to those eggs I get from farmers we trust at the farmers market and friends that raise chickens. When I was asked to be vegan for a month for the animals, I jumped on it – it would challenge me to create new recipes and devote my focus on reducing my egg consumption. On Whole30, I was making egg salads with my avocado mayo. I was craving a replacement – something simple, filling, versatile and tasty. When I was young, I was obsessed with chicken salad. Such a simple food that gave you protein, fat and some veggies with a crunch. Using almonds as the base, with some celery, carrot, cabbage and an avocado based mayo enhanced with kelp this is my plant based chicken salad. No soy, no dairy. Tasty goodness.

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We were on our way to the east coast for the holidays and I was excited because I was going home and was going to be stuffed with Indian food. Los Angeles has a growing culinary scene with amazing options, but finding decent Indian food, especially north Indian, is nearly impossible.  One of the things I forgot about this cuisine, especially when eating in my family home, is that the food consists of white bread in various forms, white rice in various forms, potato in various forms, paneer (an Indian cheese), yogurt and butter. While there are some veggies, they are rarely found.  My tongue was very pleased but my stomach hurt the diet is hard on my body.

I was moody, my asthma and allergies were annoying me, I was wheezing and could not sleep. I forgot the effect of these foods on me when eaten day in and day out – after years of eating clean, I just can’t handle it any more. On our way back, when leaving the airport in Los Angeles, the sight of lettuce excited me and I bought a almond based faux-tuna salad on a bed of greens from an airport vendor. I was doubtful because I really do not like the fishy smell of sea products, but it was not fishy at all. It was so tasty and I thought “I could make this.” But rather than stick to almonds alone (to mimic the flesh of a fish) why not make it more veggieful, like a chicken salad and make my own plant based mayo.

To make a faux tuna salad, I would use a seaweed of some sort to give it the sea flavor. Even though this was going to be a “chicken salad” I wanted to use kelp granules, which give the benefits of sea vegetables without a strong sea or fishy flavor.

We are now eating many forms of salt – like Himalayan salt and sea salt that don’t have iodine which is important for the thyroid gland and metabolism. Kelp is an excellent source of iodine, and is very rich in other nutrients derived from the sea.  Kelp is also is great way to add flavor to reduce salt in your diet, should you need a low sodium diet. It enhances the flavor of dishes with glutamic acid that also helps to tenderize food. Glutamic acid is believed to help achieve that balance of flavors – “umami” – in food. The naturally occuring glutamic acid (L-glutamic acid) is found in many plants and made by our bodies as well. This is different from MSG (D-glutamic acid) which is synthesized. Kelp does not have MSG.  Kelp can be tough, so when you buy kelp granules, it is easier to eat. I find it in most natural food stores and Amazon/Whole Foods.

Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Organic Kelp Granules Salt Alternative 1.5 ounce

Start by making the avocado mayo. It is essential the avocado is ripe. If you have an unripened avocado, stick it in a paper bag with a banana and close the bag and leave it overnight to two days and check on it. It will ripen faster. If you don’t have a banana, just place the avocados in a bag and close. These fruits release ethylene gas which is what ripens them. Here is a fun fact – did you know that an avocado does not ripen on a tree? It must be picked to ripen. So go ahead, buy hard avocados and ripen them at home.

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Simply mix all the ingredients together – avocado, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper – and blend until smooth. I used a hand blender. If on Whole30, read the ingredients of the Dijon carefully – some include white wine or sugar that are not allowed, but there are some brands out there like Annie’s which make complaint mustard.

Set aside.

Soak the almonds for 3 hours to overnight and drain the water. Drain the almonds. In a food processor, chop the almonds, skin on, until coarsely ground.

Next, peel as appropriate and finely dice the celery, carrot, cabbage, garlic and shallot. Place it in a large bowl and mix together. Add the avocado mayo, fresh lemon juice, kelp, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and mix.

Add ground almonds into the veggie mix and combine. Taste for salt and pepper.

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That’s it.

 

Serve on a bed of lettuce.

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Add micro greens if you want a garnish with a little something extra.

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Eat it in half an avocado.

Serve on cucumber slices…or a cracker, or in a wrap, or in lettuce cups or….the possibilities are endless.

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The mayo can be stored in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days – just place a saran wrap on top of it so it is free from oxygen (and won’t brown).

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The salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The longer it sits, the more complex and intertwined the flavor becomes. It is crunchiest fresh.

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Happy Eating!

Soy Free, Dairy Avocado Mayo

  • 2 ripe, fresh avocados, pits and skin removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients into a bowl or a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in a container with a saran wrap directly on top of for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Vegan Chicken Salad

  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small shallot bulb, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons avocado mayo, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp kelp granules (some kelp has salt, reduce salt content if kelp is made with salt)
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Soak almonds in a bowl of water for at least 3 hours to overnight. Drain and rinse. Place into a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Set aside.

Add the carrot, celery, cabbage, shallot and garlic into a bowl and mix together. Add in avocado mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and kelp and mix. Add in the ground almond and combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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