I work on the DMU Academic Center’s fourth floor, which today is groaning under the weight of our noon-hour potluck/tailgate in celebration of tomorrow’s big rivalry in our state, the annual football face-off between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Football tailgate food, as I don’t need to point out, tends to cause health foodies to feel faint. After all, what self-respecting tailgate does not feature cheesy, boozy, high-fat fare?
Take heart, however, or protect your heart with game-day goodies that won’t derail a healthy diet. Salsas made of tomatoes, peppers, black beans, other chopped veggies, seasonings or all of the above taste great on lettuce or cabbage leaves and low-fat crackers. Splurge on shrimp rather than gorge on bratwurst. Spend some of your tailgate time tossing a football or Frisbee with friends.
You might also try this version of jalapeño poppers that Ashley Wallinger posted on her blog, “almostveggirlie.” She describes herself as: “Mostly vegan. Trying out raw. Weather nerd. AZ born and CO raised. Family is #1. Whole Foods is my second home. I will never be caught in sweats or yoga pants.”
A “raw” food diet, according to the website WebMD, focuses on uncooked and unprocessed plant foods. It forbids refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine and use of a traditional oven in preparing foods, on the premise that high heat kills important nutrients in foods.
The scientific jury is still out on the true health benefits of a raw food diet. It’s a lifestyle that, given the food preparation involved, takes a significant time commitment. However, Ashley’s jalapeño poppers are made doable for everyone: She offers an oven-baked version as well as those made with a dehydrator, a basic tool in the kitchen of most raw food fans. Either way, these poppers will please.
Vegan jalapeño poppers
- 4-5 large jalapeño peppers
- 1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours
- Raw apple cider vinegar, to taste (adds tangy, cream cheese-like flavor)
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1-2 tablespoons almond meal or flour
With gloved hands, rinse jalapeños and slice in half. You can reserve some of the seeds if you want the poppers to be hotter; if not, discard the seeds. Remove the ribs from the peppers. In a food processor, blend cashews, vinegar, salt and nutritional yeast. Add enough water to blend, keeping the mixture thick, like cream cheese. Spoon mixture into each jalapeño half and top with enough almond flour to cover.
Raw version: Place jalapeño halves right side up in a dehydrator and dehydrate for one to two hours or until warm.
Baked version: Heat oven to lowest setting, place jalapeño halves on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook until warmed and browned (keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn).