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?

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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Links mentioned in the video:

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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:

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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

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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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: Why the Raw Til 4 Diet Causes Weight Gain (aka High Carb Low Fat + Raw Vegan)

Scientific studies show that high carb low fat diets are generally really good for weight loss–but for some reason, the Raw til 4 diet, which was popular among vegans several years ago, caused a LOT of people to gain weight. In today’s video I go over studies to explain why the Raw til 4 diet so often causes weight gain.

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

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Study links & links mentioned in the video:

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: Eating with a straw vs spoon changes how much you eat | Study on liquids vs solids and weight loss

Today I’m going over a study looking at how eating with a spoon versus a straw actually affects how much you eat–of the same food–in a meal! I also talk about how eating liquids vs solids cause overeating, and whether you should be concerned about liquid calories.

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

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Study links & links mentioned in the video:

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Video: Smoothies vs Juice vs Whole Fruit for Weight Loss: Scientific Studies | WFPB diet

If you like to eat unprocessed foods (like I do!), then you might be wondering (like I did :P) whether blending/juicing “counts” as processing in how it affects your weight loss and satiety. In today’s video, I go over 2 studies looking at whether having whole fruit, smoothies, or juice is better for satiety and weight loss.

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:

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