It’s Meatless Monday!!! And today, we have my new favorite side dish: Spicy Vegan Slaw. Now, don’t get your knickers in a twist over that middle word in the title. It’s just five little letters. Try it out: say “vegan.” Say it slowly. See? You lived!
There was a time when I wrinkled my nose at those letters too. And sort of grimaced. But then there was the time about a week and a half ago when I heard my friend, Lynette, say the word, and heard it in the same sentence with, “My vegan diet took me off my blood pressure medicine.” That’s all I had to hear.
My blood pressure has been creeping up all year. I started seeing it in the 150s over 90s several months ago. While with some friends in a pharmacy in New Jersey last month, I checked it at one of those self-checking blood-pressure machines, and it was 156/92. Both my friends told me that was “unacceptable.” So when I got home, I checked it again at another pharmacy while out running errands with Dave, and it was 176/94. I’m pretty sure that’s unacceptable, too.
A lot of friends gave me advice. “You need to be on blood pressure medicine” was the advice I heard the most. But “going on blood pressure medicine” is way, way, way down on my list of “things I want to do before I die,” so when Lynette told me that just a vegan diet alone had dropped her blood pressure far enough to get her off blood pressure medicine, I was all ears. And after she explained that she was following Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” diet, and told me what that entailed, I decided to jump in. And you know what? After just four days on this new, vegan-way-of-life, I had a doctor’s appointment. And after just those four days of no-salt, no-sugar, no-meat and no-dairy, my blood pressure was …. wait for it … 112/74.
Not only that, but I’m down 11 lbs since January 1st (7 since the 17th). I’ll take it!
So that’s my long prelude to this recipe, which came about while I was experimenting with some dressing ingredients. I tried looking up a cashew-based dressing recipe online, but our internet at home is noTORiously slowwwwww, so I gave up waiting for the first page to load and just started throwing things in the blender. And, in a beautifully serendipitous way, it worked out better than I expected. So here you go.
Spicy Vegan Slaw
- 11 cups cabbage, any kind, any combo (I used Nappa, Savoy and Red)
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup red onion, cut in thin strips
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 tsp white miso
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 TBSP chili paste (I used Sambal Oelek)*
- 2 TBSP
Ume plum vinegar(O.M.W. Used this once, then switched to cider vinegar when I saw the sodium in Ume)
- 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- enough water to make it spreadable
*NOTE: As with all my “spicy” recipes, this is SPICY. You may want to try 1 TBSP of chili paste to start … taste … and add more as you like.
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Now, about those weird ingredients: I promise you, they’re weird only until you use them once, and then they’re friends :). I hunted them down in and out of stores all over Western Washington until I finally found them at Whole Foods. I should have gone there first, but I’m always looking for a deal. I’m slowly building up my “weird cupboard” ingredients, a little at a time, paycheck-by-paycheck. But I’ll tell you this: it’s worth the doing. Some of these flavors are unlike anything you’ve had before, if your typical diet is typically American. And in all my wandering and searching, I’ve discovered a really wonderful hole-in-the-wall Indian spice shop about forty minutes away. Stay tuned for some vegan Indian dishes.
Back to this one … start by shredding the cabbage very, very thinly. I was in a big hot hurry to eat this, so I got sloppy, but in an ideal world, you’ll slice it thin enough that you can read the newspaper behind each slice. That’s assuming you have no other responsibilities or hobbies. Because it’s going to take awhile. Or, you could just do your best like I did and eat it fast so no one can see that it’s not paper-thin.
Once the cabbage is sliced thinly and sitting in a bowl, along with the carrots and red onion, get going on the dressing. Now, I have to say, this dressing is DELICIOUS. And it has become the star of several other dishes, not the least of which is my pita-Annie’s Sonoma Burger-avocado-sprouts-tomato-cashew deliciousness sandwich, which I could eat every day for the rest of my life. I just slather a bit of this dressing on both sides of a warmed and cut mini pita, add the rest of the ingredients, and close my eyes in a fit of bliss. Try it.
In a VitaMix (preferably) or a hardy blender, add the cashews, white miso, garlic clove, chili paste, vinegar, and about a half a cup of water and blend like crazy. You’re going to need more water than that, so add a TBSP at a time until you get it to the consistency you like.
Once you have the dressing the way you like it, just add the whole thing to the giant bowl of slaw ingredients, stir, and serve. And now, since your blender/VitaMix is already dirty, I suggest you make a second batch of dressing to keep in the fridge for sandwich emergencies. Because they’re coming.