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A Fresh Approach to a Vegan Diet

 

Chloe Coscarelli, winner of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” is putting a fresh face on vegan cooking.

She follows a strict vegan diet, which means no animal products - including meat, fish, dairy and eggs.

"A lot of people think that vegan cooking is really restrictive, but I think it's actually a much more inclusive diet,” she said. “Because all of a sudden, you're opening your eyes to all these new foods and vegetables; fruits like legumes, beans, different places that you can get protein and taste that you probably wouldn't know about before if you were just eating meat."

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, recently caught up with Coscarelli at the Culinary Loft in New York City, where she made one of her signature dishes - black bean patties for Mexicali sliders. The meal is featured in her cookbook.

“What I'm going to do is, add some black beans – this is the protein and the body of the slider – some cornmeal, some breadcrumbs, some chopped fresh cilantro for that nice herb flavor, some carrots for the sweetness of the patty, and some caramelized onions," Coscarelli said.

The onions are the secret to keeping the sliders moist, according to Coscarelli.

She also adds chipotle and sea salt. After making the bite-sized patties, she pan fries them in a little bit of olive oil for two to three minutes.

"To assemble the sliders, I'm just going to drizzle the bun with my spicy mango sauce,” she said. “And add a black bean patty to each slider and see how the shape of our patties are the perfect size for our little buns...and then I like to add a dollop of guacamole, which helps give it the Mexican flavor.

"Doing the prep work ahead of time helps reduce the time it makes to cook the meal, Coscarelli said.

If you are interested in going vegan, Coscarelli suggested slowly incorporating meatless meals into your diet.

Click here to visit Coscarelli's website for more of her vegan recipes. 

Recipe for Mexicali Sliders:

Serves 4 to 6

What you need:
* 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced or shredded (about ½ cup)
* ½ cup cornmeal
* ½ cup breadcrumbs
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
* ¼ cup water

Spicy Mango Sauce
* 1 mango, peeled and cut
* ½ cup sun dried tomatoes, whole or sliced
* 1 garlic clove
* 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
* 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Guacamole 
* 3 avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
* 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
* ¼ cup salsa fresca
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 12 to 15 mini buns or dinner rolls

Directions:
To make the Black Bean Patties: In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onions and let cook until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a large bowl. Reserve skillet for later use.

Add beans, carrots, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, chili powder, salt, cilantro, and water to the bowl of onions. Use a large spoon or your hands to mash it all together. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.

Using your hands, form the bean mixture into patties, to match the size of your slider buns. In the reserved nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat, and pan-fry patties about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and crisp. Add more oil to the skillet as needed. Drain patties on paper towels.

To make the spicy mango sauce: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

To make the guacamole: In a large bowl, mash together avocado and lime juice, then fold in salsa fresca.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the sliders: Slice each bun in half and layer a couple teaspoons of Spicy Mango Sauce, one Black Bean Patty, and about a tablespoon of guacamole. If you have extra spicy mango sauce, you can use it as a dip for your fries.