Welcome!

Hey there!

I’m Miche, and I’m a recovering dieter.

After years of yo-yo dieting & weight gain, I figured out how to stop the cycle, lose the fat, and gain muscle!

So I’m here to share advice on how to eat without rules or restriction and reach your goal body, using scientific research from nutrition & psychology.

…and share recipes, too!

 

Weight loss isn’t about eating less.

It’s about eating differently.

Losing weight, and especially maintaining it, is about what you eat, and how you go about eating it.

I know, this completely runs against conventional wisdom. But hear me out.

Conventional wisdom doesn’t consider the actual scientific research on how weight loss works.

I do: I’m a PhD student!

I run studies on nutrition & memory, and apply science to my daily life!

There is a lot of great research out there on how to lose weight, and be happier & healthier… but most people don’t know about it, because it’s hard to access & understand.

So I break it down by writing posts & filming videos so you can apply scientific findings to your life!

 

Videos

Study: Vegan Omega 3 is BETTER Than Fish-Based? Plant-based ALA vs EPA/DHA

Mainstream nutrition media loves to talk about how the type of omega 3 that comes from fish is way better than vegan sources of omega 3… but the actual science seems to say otherwise. I found a study that looked at blood levels of omega 3 in 5,000 vegans, vegetarians, fish eaters, and meat eaters, and go over it in my latest video!

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel to stay updated on future videos 🙂

Links mentioned in the video:

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: How Chocolate Can Make You LOSE Weight

Diet culture likes to demonize chocolate, but what if I told you that eating more chocolate can actually make you lose weight? There are a surprisingly large number of scientific studies on this (at least 35), finding that just adding chocolate to people’s diets made them lose weight–but it does depend on how long they ate the chocolate for, and the type and dose of chocolate.

I go over all the details in the video on how you can use chocolate to lose weight!

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel to stay updated on future videos 🙂

Links mentioned in the video:

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Recipes

Baked Bean Mac n Cheese Bowls (Vegan)

I’m working on building a repertoire of recipes that my more junk-food-vegan leaning husband loves and that fit in with my unprocessed preferences. They tend to take a little more effort, but are as delicious as junk food while also being healthy.

This recipe is our favorite hybrid so far. (In case you can’t tell, I generally only share my favorite recipes with y’all!)

It’s a southern-inspired feast that has 3 parts, and they go SO well together. It takes me about two hours to make, which isn’t bad given it results in 5 nights’ worth of dinner for two–and given it tastes as good as our favorite restaurant food and is packed full of veggies & beans. It also happens to be low fat, with the only overt fat being some cashews in the sauce.

Want to make it fat-free, and skip the macaroni? Try the baked beans + kale over a baked potato. That was actually the original version of this recipe for us!

(This recipe is for a bulk amount because feeding my 6’6″ bodybuilding husband with low-calorie-density food requires a LOT of food.)

Serves 8-12

Baked beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 4 cans navy beans, rinsed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add onion to a pot over medium-high heat, and saute for a few minutes until they start to get translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat, and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into a 13×9″ pan, cover with tinfoil, and bake for 45 minutes.

Cheese sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Dash of cayenne (optional)

Directions:

  1. Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion until tender.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more salt and lemon to taste.

Pasta & Kale

Ingredients:

  • 24oz dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions
  • 32oz frozen kale (or use raw kale that is about 32oz when cooked)
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the kale and garlic to a pot over medium heat. Saute, stirring regularly, until the kale is tender. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
  2. Make the final bowl: put the macaroni in a bowl, top with cheese sauce, then baked beans, then kale, and enjoy! (And, possibly, become as addicted to it as we are)

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Recipes

Vegan Black Bean Plantain Burger Recipe (WFPB)

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of veggie burgers. Especially grain or bean-based burgers.

When I first went vegetarian 15 years ago, vegetarian burgers weren’t anything like they are today. Having to eat them at every school function or barbecue got a bit tiring, and I never found a very satisfying recipe for veggie burgers. Then the Beyond and Impossible burgers came on the scene, and since then I’ve pretty much just eaten those whenever I have a burger craving.

But, I love to eat whole food plant based (aka unprocessed food) most of the time. So I decided to try coming up with my own recipe that would be good and unique enough that it could have its own role at the table, besides just trying to replace a burger.

I went with a Caribbean vibe, and was inspired by empanadas since black bean & plantain are a match made in heaven when used in empanadas… so why not burgers? I also made an avocado lime spread for it, and the combo is so good that I actually enjoy just having the patty + spread at times, without a bun or anything.

Makes 4-6 patties

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 ripe plantain, sliced
  • 6 tbsp corn grits (or cornmeal)
  • 6 heaping tbsp whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Directions:

  1. Sauté plantain and red onion together over medium-low heat until plantain turns golden brown and onion begins to turn translucent.
  2. In a food processor, add all the ingredients and process until the mixture still has some small pieces remaining, but holds together well. If it is too dry to stick together easily (if you’re using more absorbent cornmeal, for instance), add a tbsp of water at a time until it sticks together.
  3. Form mixture into 4-6 patties about 1” thick. Sauté over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes per side, until they are lightly browned. Alternatively, you can put them in the oven at 375 degrees: bake 10 mins, then flip, then bake another 10 minutes, or until both sides are crispy.
  4. Top with avocado lime spread and your favorite burger toppings, and enjoy!

Avocado lime spread:

  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp dried chipotle powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Mash together all the ingredients until it has a guacamole-like texture.

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Recipes

Vegan BBQ Chickpea Salad with Avocado Ranch Recipe (WFPB)

Something about planting seeds for my vegetable garden (which I’m starting this week!) puts me in a salad mood. Just imagining all the organic greens and veggies I’ll be harvesting in a few months makes me start craving fresh veggies right away!

My favorite salad ever is still my addictive Mexican-style salad, but this BBQ ranch one is a very close second. It’s easy, super healthy, totally versatile with any extra veggies you might want to include, and goes well with every type of green I’ve tried so far! (Especially mixed greens or romaine.)

Serves 2-3 as a full meal

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6-8 cups mixed greens (or romaine, or spinach)
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2c finely diced red onion 
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1/2c barbecue sauce 
  • 1/2c halved cherry tomatoes (optional)

Avocado Ranch:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened non dairy milk (cashew milk preferable)
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toss chickpeas with salt and paprika. Optional: air fry chickpeas for 10-15 mins at 350 degrees until crunchy, or bake in a single layer in the oven for 20-30 mins at 350 until crunchy, shaking occasionally. 
  2. Make the avocado ranch: mash the avocado together with all the other ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add more liquid as desired if you’d like a thinner texture.
  3. Rinse and drain greens, and add them to your salad bowl. Top with celery, red onion, corn, chickpeas, and any other veggies you’re using. 
  4. Then top with the barbecue sauce and avocado ranch, toss, and enjoy!

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Nutrition

Which Nut/Seed Butter is the Healthiest? (for Vegan Diets)

There are a LOT of different types of nut & seed butters out there. Peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, walnut, sunflower seed, tahini… all with their unique uses.

I got a question on my Instagram asking:

Which nut butter is the healthiest?

First, although there’s no definitive answer to this because of how many factors are involved, I’m answering this based on a few nutrients that are particularly important for vegans (and vegetarians).

Vegan diets, for example, tend to naturally have quite a lot of B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, fiber, etc., so although articles aimed at omnivores might focus on “healthiest” in terms of those types of nutrients, I’ll be looking at nutrients that 1) are most likely to make a difference on a vegan diet, and 2) vary significantly between different nut butters:

  1. Zinc: One of the few nutrients that vegan diets typically provide substantially less of. It’s important for immune functioning, skin health & acne prevention, and digestion, to name just a few things.
  2. Iron: The other main nutrient that vegan diets often get less of. It’s especially important for women to get enough, to avoid anemia.
  3. Magnesium: 50% of the US population is actually magnesium deficient1. Having low magnesium can cause anxiety, poor sleep, muscle twitches, and more. 
  4. Calcium: Although not as pressing of an issue as the media and milk industry would have you believe, low calcium intakes have been linked to osteoporosis.
  5. Vitamin E: Especially important for your brain and nerves! Studies show that people who eat more vitamin E have less damaged white matter in their brain as they age2.

I also included omega 3, fiber, and protein in the table below in case you’re curious!

I’ve bolded the nut/seed butter that wins in each nutrient category, and below I’ll go over which I think are the overall winners.

All of these values assume that each butter is made JUST out of the nut/seed, without any added oils or anything. The amounts below are per 300 calories.

Nut/seed butterZinc (mg)Iron (mg)Calcium (mg)Magnesium (mg)Omega 3 (g)Vitamin E (mg)Protein (g)Fiber (g)
Cashew33.52015900.5102
Hazelnut1.22.2557807.274.5
Sunflower2.62.740167018114.5
Tahini2.34.5215480.208.54.7
Walnut1.51.345734.20.373
Almond1.61.7170136012105
Peanut1.40.8309102.512.54.3
Per 300 calories; values are from the Cronometer.com database

Based on being consistently high across multiple of these nutrients, the winners are…

Tahini and Sunflower Seed Butter

And the runner ups are cashew butter (also high in a lot of things) and walnut butter (for the omega 3).

For a breakdown of how each one stacks up versus the others:

  • Cashew butter: High in zinc, iron, magnesium, and protein
  • Hazelnut: High in vitamin E and fiber
  • Sunflower seed: Very high in vitamin E, high in zinc, iron, magnesium, protein, and fiber
  • Tahini: Very high in iron and calcium, high in zinc and fiber
  • Walnut: Very high in omega 3; in fact it’s the only one that has a substantial amount
  • Almond: High in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, protein and fiber
  • Peanut: High in magnesium and protein

If you already know you’re missing a certain nutrient (like iron for example) based on blood tests or diet tracking, then the healthiest nut butter for you is the one that fills in that need the most! And of course, the best nut butter is the one you enjoy the most, since they’re ALL a healthy part of any diet.

Are there any other nut/seed butters you’re curious about?

Recipes

Beefy Vegan Gravy Recipe (for Biscuits)

Over the summer, I moved to the South after living in California all my life. To celebrate in the months before moving, I had fun experimenting with vegan Southern food–and my husband’s and my favorite dish that came out of that was this gravy with biscuits.

This gravy was a labor of love, but we sacrificed and ate about 4 test batches of it over the months as I developed the recipe. 😉 Through experimentation I’ve found that it should work with any type of vegan beef, but our favorite version is with Impossible, or a mix of Beyond and Impossible meat.

I use Minimalist Baker’s vegan biscuit recipe to serve this with, and they went perfectly!

Makes enough to generously cover ~15 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp vegan butter
  • 7 tbsp flour
  • 3/4lb vegan beef (= 3 Beyond burger patties, or 1 Impossible pack)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp vegan chick’n bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon’s)
  • 4 cups unsweetened cashew milk or other neutral non-dairy milk*
  • 3 tsp mushroom umami seasoning**
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • Salt & pepper to taste
*This definitely tastes best with cashew milk, but soy or almond would likely work as well. I don’t recommend coconut milk.
**OR powdered mushroom OR 1/2c finely chopped or puréed mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Make a roux: add the butter and flour to a pan over medium heat, and stir together as the butter melts. When the mixture starts to turn golden brown, add the milk and whisk well.
  2. Simmer 10-15 minutes over low-medium heat, whisking occasionally, until milk has thickened substantially.
  3. While the milk mixture is simmering, sauté the vegan beef and onions (and diced mushrooms, if using) together until the beef is about 70% of the way cooked–it will be slightly pink still.
  4. Add the beef and onions to the pot with the milk. Add seasonings, and simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.
  5. Serve over your favorite biscuit recipe, mashed potatoes, or even noodles for a stroganoff feel. It keeps great in the fridge too!

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: 10 Ways to Lose Weight WITHOUT Diets, Calorie Restriction, or Rules | Psychological Strategies

In my last video, I used scientific studies to explain why going on a diet or having a strict exercise routine usually backfires and causes binge eating + weight gain. In today’s follow-up video, I give 10 cognitive strategies to reach your weight loss and fitness goals in a way that works WITH your body and psychology, not against them.

Weight loss and fitness CAN be enjoyable and pretty effortless, rather than a chore you have to force yourself to do or a set of rules you have to stick to. You just need the right mindset and strategies.

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: Why Diets and Exercise Routines Don’t Work: Weight gain + Binge eating

Most weight loss and fitness bloggers/influencers–and the media–will tell you that THE way to lose weight is to stick to an eating and exercise plan.

But contrary to popular opinion, science suggests that diet and exercise routines not only aren’t very helpful for weight loss, but actually often cause weight gain and binge eating in the long term.

In today’s video, I use studies to show you WHY trying to have strict food and exercise rules so often backfires.

Here’s a link to the video page, or you can watch it below:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel to stay updated on future videos 🙂

Study links & links mentioned in the video:

  • Study links: Why negative feelings cause overeating/not exercising 1 2 3
  • Study links: Dieting causes binge eating: 4 5 6
  • Rest of the study links: 7 8 9
  • Patreon

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Recipes

My 2020 Vegan Thanksgiving Feast Menu: 8 Dishes Omnivores will Love too

My big vegan Thanksgiving feast last year was SUCH a hit with my vegan and omnivore family members alike, that I just have to share the dishes I made with you all! I posted my menu from 2 years ago here, but I’ve updated and swapped out some recipes to make it even better.

Usually my goal with my Thanksgiving cooking is to impress omnivores, so I make decadent, food-coma-inducing dishes rather than healthy ones.. which has worked, at least based on the fact that omnivores were fighting over the leftovers!

But this year it’ll just be my vegan husband and I, so I might do healthier versions of some dishes (but I’m including the classic recipes below)! So for this post I’m also including healthy swap options for some of the more decadent dishes.

1. Sweet Potato Casserole

This is my first time sharing this recipe–I’ve made a lot of different vegan sweet potato casseroles, and this one is the most authentic tasting. This recipe was actually passed down from my husband’s mom, and I just had to veganize it because it’s his favorite Thanksgiving dish ever.

For a healthy version, reduce the sugar or take it out of the casserole part altogether (just putting it in the topping). I actually find this recipe to be sweeter than I’d prefer it, but people who eat sugar more often than I do thought it was perfect!

Casserole ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups mashed sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 vegan eggs (we’ve had success with Follow your heart’s and Just egg)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Pecan topping ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2-2/3 cup vegan butter (less for healthier, more for impressing omnivores)
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the casserole ingredients and put in a casserole dish. Stir together pecan topping and sprinkle evenly on top of the casserole. Bake for 30 mins, until the topping is golden brown and beginning to crisp up.

2. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I have my two potato recipes first, because, well, everyone knows potatoes are the best! (And I’m Irish 😉 ) These cheesy scalloped potatoes have, for three years in a row, been the most universally coveted dish on the table. It’s truly a sad day in the house when the leftovers run out.

For a healthy swap, try using my favorite cashew-potato cheese sauce on the potatoes instead of the vegan cheese and cream sauce.

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • ¼ cup vegan butter (we use Miyoko’s)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegan half & half
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups vegan cheese shreds, we used a mix with cheddar & white cheese
  • Paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F
  2. Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they’re starting to get tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Now make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the flour, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the flour turns golden brown. Stir in half & half and cook until thickened, stirring often, for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch rounds–I recommend using a mandolin to get the slices even. Place 1/3 of the potatoes overlapping in a single layer in the baking dish, seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/3 of the cheese sauce on top of the potatoes.
  5. Repeat for two more layers. Pour all of the remaining cheese sauce over the top layer of potatoes. Spread to ensure all of the potatoes are covered.
  6. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and a dash of paprika for color.
  7. Bake in the 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.

My plate of leftovers!

3. Roast

And now for a quick intermission from recipes: we usually go with a store-bought roast (rather than lentil loaf, etc) for a meatier vibe, and so I can focus on the other dishes. In past years we’ve loved Trader Joe’s vegan roasts, but since we moved to northwest Arkansas, we no longer have a TJs near us! This year we’re planning on going with the new Whole Foods roast I’ve been hearing rave reviews about (if we can get it). Otherwise, we’re thinking of doing Gardein turkey cutlets for a more classic feel.

We also like the Field Roast roasts–I especially like the hazelnut cranberry. We do NOT like Tofurkey’s roast unfortunately.

Whole Foods Launches its Own Vegan Holiday Roast

4. Stuffing

Simple vegan stuffing recipe by the Minimalist Baker

This is always a nice healthy counterpart to the rest of my feast. It’s refreshing to load up on lentils, veggies and starches in between digging into the rich scalloped potatoes and roast. You can also do prep for this the day before by chopping up all the veggies. Or, you could even make the whole thing the day before–it was great leftover!

5. Balsamic Roasted Veggies

In the past we’ve done bacon brussels sprouts, but this year I’m doing an old classic side I love: winter veggies tossed in balsamic vinegar and roasted. It’s healthy and so simple to make, and like the stuffing, it’s nice to have something light in between the other dishes. I don’t ever measure amounts, but here’s what I go off of:

  • Equal parts carrots, red onion or pearl onions, and brussels sprouts
  • Splash of balsamic
  • Olive oil, if desired

Chop your veggies, add them to a bowl, and toss with a big splash of balsamic (and oil if desired) until they’re all lightly coated. Roast in a 400 degree oven until they’re fork tender, 20-30 mins.

6. Healthy Pumpkin Soup with Pepita Cream

This is actually a new one I’m adding in this year–I plan to make it on Tuesday or Wednesday and have it around to tide us over if we start getting hungry before the feast is ready. (Anyone else struggle to juggle getting a bunch of dishes out right on time?) It’s hearty and high protein because it’s actually sneakily based on chickpeas, so if you’re trying to avoid overeating this Thanksgiving, it’s a great dish to start with because it’s very satiating.

Get the recipe in my full post on it here.

7. Dutch Apple Pie

Move over, pumpkin desserts. This ridiculously addictive dutch apple pie is our new dessert centerpiece. I have a full post devoted to the recipe, so check that out to see how to make it.

Warning: if you don’t make enough, it could cause drama over who gets the last slice. It’s that good.

8. Pecan Pie Bars

If you want a decoy dessert to prevent apple-pie-induced family feuds, these pecan pie bars are a nice classic option. These were my go-to dish to bring to nonvegan Friendsgiving potlucks in the past, and they ALWAYS disappear really quickly.

For the crust:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

For the filling:

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk for a lighter version)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line a 9″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the crust ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, and coconut oil) and stir until they combine into a dough. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is slightly firm to the touch.
  3. Now for the filling: stir the coconut oil, maple syrup, and sugar in a sauce pan until combined, then boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add in the coconut cream and the pecans.
  4. Pour the filling onto the crust and spread it evenly.
  5. Bake until the filling is bubbling and set (no longer runny), 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

9. Bonus: Healthy Pumpkin Risotto

I’m calling this a bonus recipe because I don’t think I’ll actually make it this year–we had it for the last few days and LOVE it, but now we’re up for some variety. But if you’re looking for something a little different to include in your Thanksgiving spread that’s healthy, oil-free, and yet decadent-tasting, this is a great option. See the full post on it for the recipe.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, either virtually or safely spent with the ones you love. ❤