Recipes

Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Risotto (Oil-free + Instant Pot Friendly)

I’ve used the same 7-dish Thanksgiving menu for the last two years (because it has gone over SO WELL with vegans and omnivores alike), but this year I decided I wanted to come up with something new and unique to add.

Enter this healthy pumpkin risotto: it’s savory, it’s slightly sweet, it’s simple to make, it’s creamy. It’s a nice healthy contrast to some of the more oil-laden Thanksgiving classics, but still goes over well with more classic palates. And as a bonus, it’s easy to have it cooking in the background while you make the more complicated dishes, since it doesn’t need more than ~15 mins of really active prep time.

And as a bonus bonus, it’s Instant Pot friendly too. (That’ll help free up my limited supply of pots.)

If you want to make it completely whole-food-plant-based friendly, you can also try subbing brown rice in for the arborio. You will want to add more water and cook longer to achieve a risotto-y texture, though. You can also easily sub in other types of squash instead of pumpkin!

Serves 4 as a full meal; serves 8 as a side

Ingredients:

Blender:

  • 3 – 15oz cans pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 apples, quartered
  • 2 tsp yellow or white miso paste
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp dried sage
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

Saute:

  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups arborio rice*
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

  1. Put all the “Blender” section ingredients into a blender or food processer, and blend until pureed. Set aside until step 5-6.
  2. Add the chopped onions to a pot over medium heat–or your IP’s saute function–adding splashes of broth (from your 3.5c of broth) as needed to saute them until translucent.
  3. Add the rice, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add the white wine, and saute another 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the remaining broth, and push all the onion and rice grains down the sides of the pot so they are submerged.
  5. If using a pressure cooker: cook on low pressure for 6 mins, and release pressure immediately after. Add the blended pumpkin mixture, and turn on the saute setting. Saute, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy but not runny.
  6. If using a pot on the stove: cover pot and bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15 mins. Add the blended pumpkin mixture, then simmer uncovered, stirring regularly, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy but not runny.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with more sage or fried sage leaves and cashew cream, if desired.

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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!

 

Recipes

Easter Treat Vegan Recipe Roundup

It’s time for another showcase of recent recipes from fellow WordPress bloggers! I don’t know about you, but to me the most Easter-themed food out there is desserts.

So the theme of this showcase is recipes for vegan treats, especially ones that work well for Easter. But, because I know many of us have limited ingredients right now, I’m including a variety of treats!

This Easter is an especially tough one for most of us having to stay at home, but a silver lining is that leaves us with more time to go all-out on cooking.

Lemon blueberry madeleines by Pies & Tacos

Vegan Blueberry Lemon Madeleines

Flapjack M&M cookies by Nourishing Amy

Lemon cheesecake bars by Vegan Miche

(I don’t usually include my own recipes in these features but I love making Easter dessert recipes 😀 )

Canned peach cake by Hungry and Frozen

P1190846

Naturally sweetened chocolate tart by Healthy Goodies by Lucia

Vegan Chocolate tart with blueberries | Healthy Goodies by Lucia Marecak

Rhubarb almond cake by Freistyle

veganer Rhabarber Mandel Kuchen

Healthy chocolate chip cookies by Healthienut

the best healthier chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate shortbread by Megan Louise Home

Carrot cake bliss balls by Vegan Miche

2-ingredient orange chocolate mousse by Clayton’s Cookbook

Lemon chia coconut loaf by Healthienut

lemon coconut chia loaf

Sea salt and caramelized almond brownies by Tassybakes

Matcha cookie dough cups by Healthy Little Vittles

easy vegan dessert recipes

Chocolate coffee donuts by Sugared & Stirred

Decadent chocolate braid by Lucy’s Friendly Foods

No-bake mini chocolate cheesecakes by Upbeet Kitchen

This photo shows one individual vegan chocolate cheesecake on a plate with a bite taken out of it. It's topped with a cherry compote for a punch of tart flavour and colour.

Small batch banana muffins by E2 Bakes Brooklyn

Small Batch Banana Muffins

Do you know of any vegan recipe bloggers who deserve a feature? Comment with a link to them below and I’ll check them out for the next recipe showcase! (You can nominate yourself too!)

I hope you have a very happy, healthy Easter filled with delicious vegan food.

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Recipes

Vegan Cornbread Muffin Recipe [Oil free]


I’ve been quarantining for two weeks now, and I have been eating a *lot* of beans. (Like this chili recipe from a little while back.) For both lunch and dinner. Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful to have had a supply of beans since the stores have been out, but it’s nice to add some variety sometimes.

Luckily Goode Foods sent me some of their canned corn awhile back, and I already had corn flour on hand, so I made this cornbread to bring some excitement to my daily beans 😛 When I was a kid my favorite cornbread had whole corn in it—it adds such a delicious crunch to it. So to this day I always make it with whole corn kernels! 

The best part about these is they’re super versatile. Not only do I have them alongside chili, but I have them for breakfast with vegan butter + maple syrup, or jam!

Featuring my protein-packed chili recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups corn flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seed & 1 1/2 tbsp water)
  • 1 1/2 cups nondairy milk (I used soymilk)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 can whole kernel sweet corn, drained

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the flax to the water to make the flax egg, and let it sit.
  2. Mix the milk and the vinegar in a separate, medium-sized bowl and let it sit–it will curdle and turn into a buttermilk substitute!
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, corn flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast, and salt.
  4. Add the flax egg to the buttermilk bowl, along with the maple syrup.
  5. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients bowl along with the can of corn, and stir just until combined.
  6. Spoon mixture evenly into a greased 12-cup muffin tin, and bake for 12-13 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 15+ mins before trying to remove them from the tin.
  8. Eat plain, serve with chili, or top them with vegan butter, maple syrup, and/or jam!

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Study: How to Stop Binging Between Diets + 4 Tips to Stop

Hey friends! Today I have advice & a study for you on how to stop overeating between (especially before) diets. Sometimes, the overeating gets so bad that it completely counteracts the diet–at least that used to be how it was for me!

Subscribe to my Youtube channel to keep up with my videos! ❤

Check out the video for:

  • The types of habits that lead to overeating between diets
  • 4 practical tips to stop it

 

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Recipes

Easy Granola Recipe (with oat-free option)

For today’s recipe, I have a super easy but addictive granola that’s heavy on nutritients, but light on time & effort.

It can either be made the normal way (aka with oats), or with an oat replacement. Why would anyone want an oat replacement, you may ask?

I’ve alluded to this vaguely on my instagram, but something tragic has happened: after years of having oats for breakfast most days, I finally figured out that me and oats don’t get along. Specifically, whenever I have them for breakfast, I get CRAZY bloated after lunch for the rest of the day. (And my stomach is pretty impervious to the typical bloating triggers, like lentils and beans and onions… nothing else does this to me besides oats!) It took me years of experimenting, but I’ve finally accepted it. After researching it, it looks like the protein avenin in oats is known to cause some people problems.

I thought I’d just have to accept no longer having oatmeal, or granola, or oat pancakes/pastries. But at my local food co-op, I found something that looked amazingly oat-like… rye flakes!

And lo and behold, they taste and cook JUST like oats, but without the horrible bloating! I first tried out ryemeal (aka rye oatmeal), and came up with the recipe on the fly to try them in granola for the first time. And it is AMAZING!

Of course, if you don’t have a problem with oats, you should probably just use those because they’re easier to find at stores and whatnot. 😛

Ingredients:

  • 1/2c rolled oats or rye flakes
  • 1/4c pecans
  • 1/4c walnuts
  • 1/4c almonds
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)

Directions:

  1. Coarsely chop all the nuts, preferably using a nut chopper (I have this one).
  2. Combine all the ingredients, and spread them out evenly on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, then stir. Bake for 3 more minutes or until evenly golden brown. If it begins to get browner around the edges than the middle, stir every few minutes until it’s all golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for 10 minutes.
  5. And enjoy! I suggest trying it sprinkled it on smoothie bowls, oatmeal, or yogurt, using it as cereal, or even having it on its own as a snack!

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Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

Study: Dieting = MORE Holiday Weight Gain?

If you’re like me, you’ve been baking up a storm of holiday treats. For many of us, those holiday treats come along with the dreaded holiday weight gain.

I posted 5 general tips back in November for how to avoid gaining weight over the holidays, but today I’m covering a scientific study on how dieting affects holiday weight gain–and what it means for you.

Peppermint bark is always a classic in my house!

The Study

In this study, the researchers looked at how much weight was gained over the holidays by dieters versus normal controls (nondieters). And, more importantly, what kinds of dieting habits these groups had.

The dieters were people who had successfully lost weight in the past and kept it off for years–so they really knew how to diet. Before the holiday, many of them reported having “extremely strict” holiday diet and exercise plans in place: they had solid plans to control their portions, cut out treats, and exercise like crazy. Many of them also lost weight before the holidays to have a safety net in the event of holiday weight gain.

Sounds like a lot of people around November, right?

Not a single one of the 100 nondieters, on the other hand, reported having strict diet or exercise plans. None of them reported losing any weight to prepare for the holidays, either.

So the dieters were completely focused on weight loss, had strict plans in place to do that, and even preemptively lost weight to have a holiday safety net. And the nondieters didn’t care about weight or dieting much at all.

Guess who gained more weight?

The dieters.

During the holiday, the dieters reported exercising much more, and successfully sticking to their strict diet plans. They followed self-imposed rules, like only eating at home and not allowing snacking after dinner. They intentionally stopped eating before they were full, focused on their portions, and weighed themselves more often.

And yet, they gained weight: almost half of them gained more than 2lbs. Only 15% of the nondieters, on the other hand, gained weight.

The kicker is that even a month later, in February, three times as many dieters were still holding onto that holiday weight than nondieters.

But why did this happen?

The researchers found that paying less attention to their weight and dieting over the holidays predicted more weight gain in the dieters. And yet, the dieters were still paying more attention to their weight and diet overall than the nondieters, so that can’t explain why they gained more.

This seemingly paradoxical result really shows how dieting affects you: if you’re used to dieting, then the second you take a break from completely obsessing over your weight and diet plans, you start to gain weight.

My favorite Christmas treat: toffee!

So, what does this mean for you?

The only way dieting really works in the long term is if you maintain complete control 100% of the time, with no binges or overeating or slip ups. And that isn’t realistic. It’s usually more like a cycle of doing well for a little while, then overeating, then trying to make up for it by dieting more strictly, which leads to binging… rinse and repeat.

Dieting just doesn’t work in the long term.

So what can you do?

Be like the nondieters: try intuitive eating (here’s my post on how to do that). Don’t focus on your weight. Don’t make strict diet plans. Don’t impose eating or exercise rules on yourself. Instead, just learn to tune into your body’s signals so you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full–that’s it!

It takes some time to escape from a diet mentality and the cycle of strict dieting and slip-ups, but it is so worth it.

And if you want to lose weight, just focus on eating whole, plant-based foods. (No need to cut out treats though!) There’s a ton of research that shows that eating this way, without any dieting, leads to effortless weight loss.

The holidays should be a time that you can spend focusing on loved ones, relaxation, and self-care. Not a time that you have to spend all your mental energy on keeping up your diet.

 

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Happy Holidays,

Recipes

Easy Vegan Sushi Recipe

Today I’m sharing a staple in my kitchen: veggie sushi. Summer or winter, rain or shine, sushi is always a hit with me! And, bae requests it non-stop… even before he was vegan 🙂

A key part of our sushi addiction is dipping it in teriyaki–it just takes it to the next level. It’s also really flexible in what you can add for fillings, as long as you have avocado and carrot on hand as a base. It’s both light and filling somehow, and packs in those veggies in a way that tastes totally addictive!

Makes 2 large rolls (serves 1-2)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1.2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (or use 1 tbsp rice vinegar + 2 tsp sugar + 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 2 nori sheets
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber (optional)
  • Teriyaki sauce for dipping
  • Add-in ideas: tofu, mushrooms, sweet potato

Directions

  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. Stir in seasoned rice vinegar, and set aside to cool while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. Cut avocado in half, and slice each half lengthwise into ~6-7 slices.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot into ribbons. Or, if preferred, cut into matchsticks.
  4. Slice cucumber or other ingredients into a similar size.
  5. Get a small bowl with 2-4 tbsp of water in it, and set near your sushi-rolling area.
  6. Place a nori sheet onto a sushi mat or clean tea towel. Spread half of the rice evenly across the nori, leaving the top 1″ free. Lay half the veggies on top of the rice about 2″ from the bottom, layering them in a stack. Dip your finger in the small bowl of water and wet the top rice-free 1″ of the nori; this will make it stick to itself!
  7. Lift the bottom of the nori + rice sheet and roll it over the vegetables, and keep rolling it over itself all the way to the top. Add more water to the outside of the seam if necessary. Squeeze the roll a little bit to keep everything together. (Check out a nice sushi rolling guide here.)
  8. Repeat steps 6 & 7, but using the remaining half of the rice and veggies.
  9. Slice into 1″ rolls, or keep them as sushi burritos (my preferred way to eat them!)
  10. Dip in teriyaki, soy sauce, or spicy vegan mayo, and enjoy!

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Recipes

Easy Pumpkin Drop Biscuits [Whole Wheat, Fat Free]

I’m in denial about fall.

I’m a spring and summer person through and through. I’ve been loving doing my PhD research in my hammock, outside in 90 degree weather, sipping on cold-pressed juice I just made. (Cucumber watermelon has been my go-to lately.)

One acceptable part of fall for me, though, is the pumpkin. And the baking. (Yellow leaves and hot chocolate are nice too, I guess. 😉 )

The other day I got the idea out of the blue to make these biscuits (I guess fall is creeping into my subconscious, despite being in denial), and I’m amazed at how well they turned out given how easy and healthy they are. So in honor of this being the first week of fall, I wanted to share them with you!

They’re fluffy but not dry, and oh so versatile. You can make them sweet by adding more maple syrup or sugar, or pair them a savory dish by leaving the syrup out. My current favorite way of eating them is for breakfast with a chocolate date spread, and I’m excited to try pairing these with black bean chili.

Thankfully, it’s still 85 degrees out so I can pretend it’s summer for a few more weeks. (While sitting in my hammock, eating these biscuits. 😛 )

Makes 8 biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk (I used soy)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, or add more for sweet biscuits)
  • Dash pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt.
  3. Add in the nondairy milk, pumpkin puree, and add-ins. Stir just until combined.
  4. Use a spoon to drop the batter into 8 even piles on a baking sheet–no need to form them into shapes.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Best eaten immediately, but they also keep well!

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Study: How to Stop Emotional Eating and Bingeing

Hey friends! Today I have advice & a super cool study for you on how to stop negative emotions from making you overeat or binge eat. This study also has useful advice for how to feel fewer negative emotions generally!

For the highlights, check out the video:

And now, the details & how to use the strategy into your own life:

Emotions are a MAJOR cause of overeating–in fact many scientists think it’s THE cause of binge eating disorder (BED).

So in this study, they tested whether a simple psychological trick could prevent people from overeating when feeling sad.

They had two groups: a group of 39 overweight women with BED, and a control group of 42 overweight women (weight-matched) without binge eating. Their average BMI in both groups was 34. The BED group was bingeing 4x a week on average, for at least the last 6 months.

They had the participants watch a really sad movie, had them use one of two emotional regulation strategies, then looked at how much they ate afterwards from bowls of biscuits and chocolate M&Ms.

They split the BED and control groups into two strategy groups: suppression and reappraisal. For the people in the suppression group, they told them to suppress their emotions:

Try to hide your feelings. Try to behave in a way that someone watching you would think that you don’t feel anything at all. Try to hold a neutral expression so no one can read your feelings from your face. You can feel whatever you feel, but try your best not to show it.

For the people in the reappraisal group, they told them to try to change how they felt about the movie by focusing on different aspects:

Try to distance yourself from the movie and see it objectively. Whenever you sense a change in your feelings while watching, try to internally step back. For example, think of how the photographer and actors succeeded in presenting the scene.”

(Instructions in studies tend to be REALLY repetitive to make sure participants get it, so I paraphrased 😉 )

Suppression means doing nothing to actually help you stop feeling the feelings, but just hiding or ignoring them. Reappraisal means trying to be less involved in the negative emotion–focusing on other aspects of the situation, distancing yourself from the situation, or looking at it as sort of a scientist. Reappraisal is actually a big reason why some people cope better with negative emotions than others: they naturally do more reappraising. (More specific advice on this below!)

So the participants watched a movie scene about the loss of a loved one, and other studies have shown that the movie scene makes people really sad. After the movie, both groups of participants rated themselves as feeling more sad than before the movie. But, the group that had done reappraisal during the movie felt less sad. 

Then, they gave each participant a bowl of biscuits and a bowl of M&Ms, and told them they were doing a taste test to see how the movie affected their ratings of how good the food tasted. They had 15 minutes to eat & fill out questionnaires about how good the food tasted. They had all been told to eat a regular meal 2 hours earlier, so they weren’t coming in hungry.

The Results

Participants in the suppression group ate 40% more than the reappraisal group. And this applied to both people who binge ate, and those who didn’t. Over 15 minutes this amounted to 30 extra calories, but imagine…

If you would usually have eaten 1100 calories in a binge, this strategy could make that an 800 calorie binge instead.

And, more importantly, learning reappraisal can help you deal with negative emotions better over time (tons of other research has shown this) and break the bingeing cycle completely.

BED = binge eating disorder group; CG = control group

Interestingly, the group with BED tended to use suppression in daily life much more than the control group, and used reappraisal a lot less. So that may explain how binge eating arises in the first place.

So, how can YOU start reappraising?

Reappraisal means changing the way you think about a situation. Most of the time, we only feel negative emotions because we decide that a situation is bad: for example, for one person starting a new job might be exciting; for another, it might be terrifying. Same situation, different perspectives.

So how do you reappraise a situation?

Let’s say your significant other breaks up with you. A natural reaction may be to feel worthless, self-loathing, etc. A reappraisal strategy here would be to focus on how maybe the situation isn’t the worst thing ever. Focus on the ways in which it might be a good thing: maybe he wasn’t a great match for you anyway, maybe he prevented you from seeing friends or pursuing your hobbies, and there’s definitely someone better out there for you.

Suppression, on the other hand, would be to “put on your brave face” and make it seem like the breakup didn’t affect you.

With reappraisal, challenges become opportunities for growth.

Try asking yourself questions like these:

What did you learn from the situation?

Can you find something positive that might come out of it?

Are you grateful for any part of it?

Are you better off in any way than when you started?

Could it have helped you grow or develop as a person?

So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions, try reappraisal. It may help you feel better instead of leading to a binge.

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