Sometimes you just want comfort food. And one of the great things about intuitive eating is that you can have it whenever you want, without guilt!
Before I was vegan, I loved the Irish boxtys they’d serve at a pub in San Diego–essentially a potato-filled calzone with cheese and meat. (I’ve since learned that’s not what a boxty technically is, but that’s not the point!)
So on a dark and stormy night, I decided to come up with my own vegan version… which ended up surprisingly healthy for the comfort food goal. And then at my fiancé’s request, I made it again the next night, and the next week. We’re addicted. It’s definitely found its way into our comfort food rotation that used to primarily consist of homemade burgers and pizza.
It’s hearty and very savory thanks to the beef, and the potatoes are super satiating. Plus, the cheese sauce is secretly based on whole foods!
Makes 1 large calzone, serves 2
3 medium peeled gold potatoes, about 450g total
3 tablespoons unsweetened nondairy milk (I used soy)
2/3 the cheese sauce recipe below, save the rest for dipping!
Preheat oven to 440 degrees F. Put potatoes in a pot, fill with enough water to cover them by a few inches, and put it over high heat. If you want them to boil faster, chop the potatoes before putting them in the pot. Boil potatoes until they are fork-tender and able to be mashed.
Meanwhile, sauté the beef and onions together according to the directions on your vegan beef package. For the Beyond ground, break it up into chunks as you sauté it so it turns into crumbles (or whatever sized chunks you’d like in your calzone). Remove from heat once the beef is cooked and onions are translucent. Be careful not to overcook, since they’ll get cooked more in the oven.
Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. Mash the potatoes, adding the dash of garlic and milk as you do until they are a creamy texture. Add more milk as necessary, or you could add vegan butter if you want them to be richer.
Roll out the pizza crust into a circle, as you would for a normal pizza. I use parchment paper on top of a baking sheet, but you can use whatever pizza baking method you prefer. First layer on the mashed potatoes, then layer the beef and onions on top, then add the cheese sauce. Be sure to leave at least an inch around the edges free of any toppings. Then, fold the crust in half so that the edges line up, and pinch it together. (If any filling comes out the sides at this step, don’t worry about it–I just eat it 😉 )
Bake for 12-14 minutes at 440 degrees, or until the crust begins to get firm when tapped and is golden brown.
Remove from oven, cut it in half, and serve! You can hold it in your hand like a pizza pocket if you’re in an especially comfort-food-y mode (that’s what we do!). We also sometimes dip it in the extra cheese sauce, or drizzle it on top.
1 cup roughly chopped gold potatoes
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion until tender. (You can do this along with the potatoes for the calzone–just be sure you separate them to get the right amounts in each!)
Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more salt and lemon to taste.
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. 😛
1/2c rolled oats or rye flakes
1/4c maple syrup
2 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
Coarsely chop all the nuts, preferably using a nut chopper (I have this one).
Combine all the ingredients, and spread them out evenly on a baking sheet.
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.
Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for 10 minutes.
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!
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?
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.
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.
Last weekend I got to attend the loveliest holiday cookie party with an awesome group of vegan girls. We had vegan eggnog and peppermint mochas, a cookie contest, a white elephant gift exchange, some of the cutest Christmas decor I’ve ever seen, games, and most importantly, a ton of amazing cookies and holiday treats.
I decided to bring my ol’ faithful cookie recipe: classic chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been making these for years and everywhere I’ve brought them, someone has asked for the recipe–without fail.
So I thought it was finally time I posted it here for you all!
I know a lot of blogs call every recipe “the best ___”, and I haven’t done it before, but I really have heard from a lot of vegans AND omnivores that these are the best chocolate chip cookies they’ve had. 🙂
2 & 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup vegan butter, melted (I use miyoko’s)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup non-dairy milk* (I used soy)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
*If using vegan margarine instead of miyoko’s, use 1/4c milk instead.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add the flour, salt, and baking soda to a large bowl and stir until combined.
After melting the vegan butter in a medium bowl, add the brown and white sugar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture, and stir until it begins to come together. Add the chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet–I usually get about 20 cookies per batch.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms and edges turn golden brown.
Today I’m teaming up with Goode Foods to bring you a recipe that’ll help keep you warm in the cold weather: chili!
I’ve been eating Thanksgiving leftovers for almost every. single. meal. since we celebrated it last weekend. I guess that’s what happens when you make 7 dishes for 4 people. 😉 And after all that heavy comfort food, all I wanted this weekend was something veggie packed and oil free—but still comforting. And this chili fit the bill perfectly!
I also made tofu sofritas to put a fun spin on it and up the protein factor. It’s so chewy and delicious, and a perfect contrast for the melt-in-your-mouth beans and veggies!
So, thank you Goode foods for inspiring me to make this! I’m a big fan not only because their canned beans & veggies are delicious and grown by local farmers, but they support veganism—all their products are vegan, and they team up with vegan bloggers (like me!) to get more healthy vegan recipes out there.
Large yellow onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic
3/4c chopped bell pepper
1 large carrot, chopped
4 large celery stalks, chopped
3 – 15oz cans of pinto and black beans (I used Goode Foods: 2 cans black, 1 can pinto–any combo works!)
The holiday season is a mostly wonderful time… but between the fun of getting together with loved ones, having more free time, and being surrounded by holiday decor, there lurks the fear of seemingly inevitable weight gain.
I spent years and years being so afraid of weight gain, and so desperately planning my post-holiday diet, that it was hard to enjoy the holidays at all. Especially Thanksgiving, because the whole day is so focused on food. But now that I’ve learned how to escape that cycle, I want to share some tips to help you stop worrying about your weight this holiday season too, so you can focus on what’s important instead 🙂
1. Eat more (of some things).
Sounds counterintuitive, I know.
But the science is clear: some foods are more satiating than others. Studies have found that if you eat 250 calories of potatoes, for example, you’ll feel more than twiceas full as you would from eating 250 calories of cheese1. And as a result, you also eat much less after eating potatoes than after eating cheese.
And you can take advantage of this fact to help you pace yourself during your holiday meals.
If you’re mindful about having a good helping of those satiating foods (think starches & veggies), it’ll balance out the high calorie density, low satiety foods (think meat, cheese, & desserts), and help prevent you from overeating.
So what exactly does that look like? Try having a dish as close as possible to a plant based whole food–maybe mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a veggie side, or even stuffing–that you eat first or that you serve yourself extra of, to give you that baseline of satiation before going for seconds (or thirds) on everything else.
Another strategy is to have some snacks or appetizers before the big meal. This can help by making sure you don’t go into dinner feeling ravenous and overstuffing yourself before your brain can catch up.
2. Don’t plan to diet beforehand or afterwards.
This is a big one. Almost everyone who has ever dieted plans to diet before and/or after the holidays. But it’s exactly that mindset that leads to overeating and weight gain in the first place.
In fact, studies show that people who are most successful at losing weight in general are the ones who gain the most weight during the holidays2.
Sounds crazy, right?
A few years ago I would have thought so too, but now it makes perfect sense.
First, we know that dieting leads to yo-yo weight gain and loss in the long term. So dieting before the holidays is the perfect way to set yourself up to go into binge mode during the holidays and gain all that weight back… and then some3.
Second, when you go into the holiday season expecting to gain weight, that’s exactly what happens. It’s a very easy self-fulfilling prophecy, because the expectations are all in your mind, and it’s your mind that causes you to overeat. (Your body never asks for that!) When you start eating, you probably have negative emotions about how much weight you’re going to gain. And we know that for people who diet, negative emotions lead to more overeating.
It’s a vicious cycle that leaves you miserable during the holidays, and heavier (and still miserable) afterwards.
So what should you do instead? Ditch the diets, and start eating intuitively instead. (Check out my guide for how to get started.) Your mind and waistline (and probably your loved ones too) will thank you.
3. Plan to make yourself more holiday foods afterwards.
Part of what makes us overeat at holiday meals is that the food is scarce. Maybe it’s even “forbidden” the rest of the year.
If you don’t eat that pecan pie today, you might not get to eat it again until next year.
But the reality is that the only reason holiday food is scarce or forbidden is if YOU decide that you aren’t allowed to have it at other times. And that makes it so much more alluring. After all, there’s a reason they say that the forbidden fruit is sweetest.
And, science shows that people who avoid eating certain foods for dieting purposes end up overeating them later3.
If you don’t allow yourself to have certain foods most of the year, you end up overeating them even more during the holiday season because you know you’ll be deprived of those foods again soon.
This is not your last chance for pecan pie, so you don’t need to eat it like it’s your last time having pecan pie.
So this tip is an easy one: just allow yourself to have your favorite foods. (This is a good anti-weight-gain tip in general, not just for the holidays!) Either make some of your holiday favorites before the season starts to test out some recipes, or schedule a day after the holidays to make or buy those holiday foods you always crave. (And, of course, save leftovers from the holiday meal itself!)
Or best of all, go all out with intuitive eating and just eat what you want when you want it. No scheduling necessary. That’s how I’ve lost weight and maintained it–it just works.
With this tip, you’ll go into your holiday meals knowing that the pecan pie really isn’t that rare–and if you know there’s more where that came from, you’ll feel much less of an urge to overeat it.
(Can you guess that I really love pecan pie? 😉 )
4. Treat it like any other meal.
Try changing your expectations going into your holiday meals. If you don’t treat them like a big daunting event where you’re expected to overeat, you’ll be less likely to overeat.
Like the last tip, this is also about reducing the scarcity of the food: the goal is to get rid of that feeling that the Thanksgiving food (or other holiday food) is a limited resource. Don’t treat the food like it’s the special part of the day. That’s not what makes a holiday a holiday.
It’s the loved ones, the focus on what you’re thankful for, or even just a day off from work that makes it a holiday.
If you want to create something special and rewarding in your day, in place of focusing on the meal, you could also try treating yourself to some self care: is there a book you’ve been wanting to read, a videogame you’ve been dying to play, or some bubble bath you’ve been wanting to try? Treat yourself or set aside some time for yourself during the day to make it feel special.
5. Shift your focus.
Changing your mindset is so powerful. Mindset makes us overeat in the first place, and mindset can be the reason we stop.
This holiday season, try shifting your focus. Instead of thinking about how food will affect you and your body, focus on who you’re sharing that food with. Focus on why you’re there eating a holiday meal in the first place.
And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, try replacing guilt, shame, and fear with gratitude. Gratitude that you have food to eat, loved ones to eat it with, and a body that allows you to enjoy the holidays. Maybe your body doesn’t look exactly how you want it to (yet), but try to appreciate it for what it allows you to do.
After all, practicing gratitude has been shown again and again to make people happier4, and even to improve their body image5.
And with that, I wish you all a very happy holiday season. I hope that these tips can help you enjoy it even more. ❤
Last year, I had my first fully vegan Thanksgiving. Of course, I’ve eaten vegan at every Thanksgiving since I went vegan 5 years ago, but I’m used to having at most 1-3 things to eat at potluck friendsgivings… but this time, ALL of the food around me was vegan!
I had so much fun getting to make this giant feast for my fiancé and I, and it turned out amazingly. And I’ll be doing it again this year for him and my lovely (nonvegan) soon-to-be in-laws! So, I’m sharing the dishes I made, and plan to make again this year, to give you some Thanksgiving inspiration!
1. Cheesy scalloped potatoes
Everything was amazing, but these were the star of the show. Here’s the thing with most vegan scalloped potato recipes: they’re wonderfully healthy, full of nooch and cashews and whatnot, and take a bit of time to prep. Usually I’m all about that. But for this, we wanted something 1) easy and 2) super decadent and stuffed with storebought vegan cheese… because, y’know, Thanksgiving. So here’s a sneak preview of my recipe before I do a whole post on it:
2pounds Yukon gold potatoes
¼cup vegan butter (we use Miyoko’s)
2cupsvegan half & half
Salt & pepper
2 1/2cups vegan cheese shreds, we used a mix with cheddar & white cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degree F
Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they’re starting to get tender, about 15 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and a dash of paprika for color.
Bake in the 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.
This was a nice healthy counterpart to the rest of the feast. It was 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!
I ended up making my own version of this and will be posting my recipe before long–but you can’t go wrong with any recipe involving sweet potatoes topped with toasted, buttery pecans! You can make the sweet potatoes and topping the day before, then wait to combine them til the day of: just add the topping and pop it in the oven once you’re nearing dinner time!
You could make your own roast, but for the time to taste trade off, I would recommend going store bought for this. Our favorites are the Trader Joe’s vegan roast, and the Field Roast line of roasts. (Tip: we’ve tried all the roasts we’ve seen in stores, and really did not like Tofurkey’s roast unfortunately)
5. Brussels sprouts with bacon
This one’s an optional side–any of your favorite veggie sides would work. You could also roast these in the oven if you have space, but a major plus of this version is you can leave the oven free for the roast, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, & sweet potatoes!
6 strips vegan bacon (I recommend Upton’s naturals for this recipe)
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 large onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the bacon in a pan until it’s your desired level of crispiness/chewiness.
Remove the bacon, and chop it once cool.
Melt the butter in the pan, then add the onions and brussels sprouts, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts turn golden brown.
Add the bacon back into the pan with the sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
In addition to being a fun but easy fall-themed dessert, these were great for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, too! (I made them the day before because they keep great.)
7. Bonus dessert: Pecan pie bars
If you’re a big pecan lover like me, you might prefer this simplified version of a more classic dessert: pecan pie! I know there are already pecans on the sweet potato casserole, but I believe there’s no such thing as too many pecans on Thanksgiving. 😉 I didn’t make them last year but I’m planning to this year–they’re always a big hit at potlucks.
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
Preheat oven to 350, and line a 9″ pan with parchment paper.
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.
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.
Pour the filling onto the crust and spread it evenly.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and set (no longer runny), 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.
I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love ❤