Veggie Enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of my favorite dishes to make – they’re beyond easy, nearly impossible to mess up, and packed with flavor. Growing up, I loved a cheesy enchilada topped with a heaping mount of sour cream. Now that I am vegan (and more aware of my food choices), I wanted to take a different approach to enchiladas and make them a lighter, veggie-filled dinner option that vegans and non-vegans alike would enjoy. The recipe below is packed with fresh flavors, and you can make it in less than an hour! Next taco Tuesday, skip the tacos and make these instead – they are a certified crowd pleaser.


Category: Dinner | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Allergens: none

Ingredients:

  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 bottle of enchilada sauce (I also got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tbsp oil (I prefer avocado oil)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used yellow and red)
  • 1 handful of broccoli
  • 1 handful of crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro to taste
  • 1/4 cup cashew yogurt, plain and unsweetened
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Next, dice your onion and add it to an pan with your oil of choice. Heat over medium for approx. 4 minutes.
  3. While the onions cook down, dice your garlic cloves, chop your bell peppers and mushrooms, and slice your broccoli into small pieces. Add them to the pan with the onions and cover.
  4. After about 8 minutes, remove the cover, add your spices and spinach, and cover again for 2 minutes.
  5. Once the vegetables are cooked and seasoned, open your can of black beans, drain them, and add them to the pan. Add in 2 tbsp of enchilada sauce as well. Stir until combined.
  6. Next, get out a glass 9 x 13 baking dish. Add about 3 tbsp of enchilada sauce to the pan, making sure the bottom and sides have a thin coating.
  7. After the dish is coated, heat up your tortillas (I put them in the microwave for 15 seconds)
  8. With your heated tortillas, add your vegetable & black bean filling to the tortilla, tuck in the edges, and roll. Add to the baking dish and repeat.
  9. Once your dish is filled up, top the enchiladas with the rest of the enchilada sauce. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. While the enchiladas are in the oven, chop your cherry tomatoes and prep your cilantro. Set aside.
  11. Finally, remove the enchiladas from the oven (let them rest for 5 minutes), and top with yogurt, tomatoes, cilantro and enjoy!

Nothing beats fresh cilantro!

Notes:

  • If you did want to add cheese to this recipe, stir in 1/4 a cup with the veggie & black bean mix, and add the rest to the top of the enchiladas. Broil for 3 minutes after the 20 minutes of bake time to get a perfectly melted cheesy topping
  • To make this more filling, mix in half a block of tofu to the veggie & black bean mix
  • Diced avocado is the perfect substitute for the yogurt topping

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Let’s Talk About Oil.

When it comes to cooking with oil, there are many options to choose from: sunflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, etc. Growing up, I thought all oils were the same in terms of health benefits, cooking temperatures, etc. Once I got into my teenage years, I remember hearing people talk about “low fat” diets, recipes without oils, and how oils will give you cancer. Up until recently, I didn’t fully understand the world of oil; Is it good? Is it bad? Are all oils the same? Are some oils actually cancerous?! If you’re in the same boat, read ahead. I dive head first into the oil industry with the hopes to educate consumers to reach for the best oil.

person pouring liquid on green noodles in ceramic bowl
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

Oil: An Overview

Oils can be extracted from various forms of seeds, kernels, grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The process of extracting oil began thousands of years ago when people noticed oily plants and seeds gave off an extractable oil when heated. Various forms of oils, and oil producing methods, soon came about worldwide. In Mexico and North America, farmers would roast and beat peanuts, boil them, and collect the oil that rose to the surface. In Africa, they would grate and beat palm kernels, boil, and extract the oils. With time, of course, this process got to where it is today: manufactured by machines and mass produced.

close up shot of a plate
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

The manufacturing process is different for each oil source. However, here is a general process for creating refined oils. The seeds, kernels, etc. are harvested and brought into the manufacturing facility. Here, the oil inputs are run over magnets to remove any trace metals, and then crushed into smaller pieces, which we call meal. This meal is then heated, pressed, and the oils extracted are collected. The oil then gets boiled with water, and the evaporated oil is again collected and sent to be refined. Refining, which is essentially neutralizing the fatty acids, is done through bleaching and deodorizing, stripping the oil of micronutrients. Once refined, the oils are ready to be consumed.

Cold pressed oils on the other hand are made in a similar fashion, but they are not heated above 120 degrees fahrenheit. This is not easily done with most seeds and kernels, but olives in particular take well to this form of processing. Cold-press oils are not put through the refining process, so they hold onto more micronutrients, making them a healthier option.


So far, it seems like cold-pressed oil seems to be a healthier option compared to refined oils. However, there are so many oils on the market, so let’s talk about common oils to further narrow down the healthy oils from the unhealthy ones.


Vegetable Oil

Amazon.com: Crisco Vegetable Oil, 48 Fluid Ounces

Vegetable oil is a mild flavored oil derived from a various number of sources, including nuts, kernels, seeds, and soybeans (most vegetable oil is derived from soybeans.) It has a high cooking point (above 400 degrees F), so it is great for frying. During manufacturing, vegetable oil is treated with phosphoric acid, bleached, and deodorized, making it one of the most highly processed oils on the market. Vegetable oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats which contribute to cell mutation and clogged arteries when over consumed. Vegetable oil is also rich in omega 6, which in itself is not bad, but if too many omega 6’s are consumed in relation to omega 3’s consumed, health problems, such as heart disease and cancer, can arise. Overall, I would give vegetable oil a 2/10 in terms of health value.


Olive Oil

4 olive oil benefits for your face

Olive oil is one of the only oils I use in my day-to-day cooking. As mentioned above, olives are one of the few oil inputs that take well to cold-pressing, which decreases refining and increase micronutrients. However, not all olive oils are created the same, so let’s talk about each type.

  • Pure Olive Oil. The name is actually quite misleading here. “Pure” olive oil is typically made up of 25% virgin olive oil, and 75% refined olive oil. Because of this, there is a lack of micronutrients in this oil. It has a smoke point of around 470 degrees F though, so it’s great for sauteing, baking, frying, and more.
  • Light Olive Oil. “Light” does not refer to caloric content, rather it refers to the aroma and neutral flavor in the oil. Light olive oil only contains about 10% virgin olive oil and 90% refined oil, making it the least health-friendly of the olive oil family. It also has a smoke point of 470 degrees F, so it will not break down during the cooking process.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is the gold standard of oils. Extra virgin refers to the manufacturing process: the oils are never subjected to high heat or chemicals. The oil is packed with antioxidants, micronutrients, and heart healthy fats, making it one of the best oils on the market. It has a slightly lower smoke points of around 370 degrees F, so it’s best used in low-heat cooking, salad dressings, etc.

Overall, olive oil (especially cold-pressed extra virgin) is the most health-conscious oil. However, it’s important to note that olive oil is more light sensitive, so you should never buy olive oil in a translucent container – it should always be tinted! My health rating for olive oil is an 8/10.


Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil for High Heat Cooking | Olive Oil Substitute | Primal Kitchen

Avocado oil seems to be a rising cult favorite when it comes to oil. Manufactured similar to olive oil (by pressing the fruit), avocado oil also has the ability to be cold pressed or refined. The flavor in avocado oil is more earthy, grassy, and almost sweet, so it’s not as versatile as olive oil when it comes to cooking. However, it has a smoke point of over 500 degrees F, so it’s great for cooking at high heats.

As we know, avocado is rich in heart-healthy fats, so avocado oil (when virgin) has the same nutritional qualities. When cold-pressed, avocado oil is similar in chemical make up to olive oil. The only thing to be cautious of when buying avocado oil is to ensure you’re buying extra virgin; anything below this standard is often mixed with soybean oil, cutting back on the nutritional benefits. Overall, I give avocado oil an 8/10 on the health scale.


Coconut Oil

Is coconut oil good for you? | CNN

Coconut oil, to my surprise, can also be cold pressed. When cold pressed, the oil is manufactured using fresh coconut meat. When refined, the coconut oil is made using dried coconut meat. The oil itself contains few vitamins or minerals no matter how it’s processed, but extra virgin is still the best way to go due to the chemical makeup. Coconut oil is made up of 90% saturated fat, but don’t panic – it’s good fat! The fat in coconut oil is packed with medium chain fatty acids, so it’s a good source of healthy cholesterol. When cooking with coconut oil, it’s important to note it’s smoke point is only 350 degrees F, so it’s best used in low temperature cooking. Overall, I give coconut oil a 5/10 on the health scale due to a lack of micronutrients.


So, there you have it. The oil industry is a lot more complex than meets the eye! If there is one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that type of oil matters, and they are not created equally. Also, please do not be scared of using oils in cooking – the fats in oils actually help to bond with healthy carotenoids in vegetables making them digestible in the human body. So next time your aunt Karen tells you to use fat-free salad dressing for less calories, run! Fat-free does not = healthy.

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Is Alcohol Vegan?

My Favorite Wine Of All Time – Yum!

I recently turned 21, and I have been enjoying going out to fancy bars and trying unique cocktails. However, I realized I have no idea what is actually in these drinks. I have heard that some beers and wines aren’t vegan, but how is the general population supposed to know what is in their drinks when the manufacturer is not required to list ingredients on the label? As someone who works in the food industry, this concept baffles me – consumers deserve to know what they are putting in their body.


When I first went vegan, I was so hyper focused on checking ingredient labels on food products. I would check for honey, “natural” flavors, gelatin, beeswax, etc. as if it were my day job. However, I never had a second thought about alcohol due to the lack of labeling. It’s time I shed some light on the subject so consumers aren’t left in the dark. Grab your favorite beer, wine, or cocktail and let’s dive in!

Common Non-Vegan Additives

This Drink was $16 Dollars….. Yikes!
  • Dairy Ingredients. Obviously drinks like Irish Cream and cream stouts contain dairy, but did you know many wines have dairy byproducts as well? Casein, a protein found in milk products, often sneaks it’s way into alcoholic beverages. For wine, casein is used in the fining process. It is removed, usually, but there may still be remnants of dairy in your favorite glass of wine.
  • Honey. Fermented honey water, also known as mead, is an alcoholic drink gaining popularity in recent years,but it has been around forever. Often referred to as honey wine, mead can be made in a variety of ways (mixed with maple syrup, combined with berries, etc.) Mead (or just honey in general) is often mixed into cocktails for added sweetness, so it’s something to be aware of if you’re trying to avoid honey.
  • Eggs. Although it sounds kind of gross, egg whites are a common additive to fancy cocktails to get that added foam on the top. Often found on top of whiskey sours, gin fizzes, etc., egg whites add a richness to alcohol, making it a popular additive. If you’re looking to replicate one of these cocktails at home in a plant-based fashion, use aquafaba in place of the egg whites.
  • Gelatin. The concept of gelatin in any form makes my skin crawl, but drinking it just sounds disgusting. In the most obvious form, gelatin can be found in jello shots. In a more sneaky form, gelatin can be used as a fining and/or clarifying agent in many beers and wines.

How Alcohol is Made

I guess I enjoy drinks with dried orange slices!

Wine. Starting with the grape harvest, grapes are then transferred into a machine to remove the stems and prep them to be smashed. It differs for each type of wine, but for white wine, the entire grapes are crushed in a press, skin and all. The grapes will then get put into large tanks with yeast (to convert the sugars into ethanol.) This is also the phase when sweeteners and preservatives can be added. Once fermented, the wine must mature (time varies for different wines.) Once matured, the fining process begins. This process seeks to remove unwanted particles in the wine, and this is where the wine often takes a non-vegan turn. With the use of milk, casein, egg whites, gelatin, and even fish guts (ew), the wine begins the finning process and removes cloudiness from the wine. A lot of the time, as I mentioned above, these additives get filtered out. However, if you have allergies to any of the added fining ingredients, you have to do your research ahead of time due to the trace amounts left behind.

Beer. After grains have been harvested, they get put through a gristmill to crack the kernels. These kernels then get transported into a mash tun and mixed with super hot water. This liquid, also known as wort, then gets brought up to a boil. Hops are added at different intervals in this stage to achieve different smells, levels of bitterness, and flavors. Once boiled and all of the ingredients are added, the mixture then gets fermented in tanks and yeast gets added to convert the sugars into alcohol. After the fermentation is done, the beer gets filtered to remove any particles left behind. And, similar to wine, this is where beer can take a non-vegan turn. A lot of filters contain gelatin or isinglass, which is dried fish bladders (again, ew.) Once filtered, the beer is ready to drink!

Spirits. Spirits begin their journey as agricultural products, such as grains, agave, etc. For anything with sugar (agave, cane, fruit), the process starts by converting the starch into fermentable material, often done by cooking with hot water and a mix of enzymes. For wheat and grains, the process of creating wort is the first step. Just like wine and beer, the juice (or wort) needs to be fermented with yeast. Unique to spirit production, distilling is the next step. This process heats the liquid to a boil, captures the vapors, and then condenses it back into liquid (cool, huh?) The vapor is the key to creating the proper alcohol content. Next, most spirits are transferred to oak barrels, or mental tanks, and set to age. Once ready, the alcohol concentrate is often combined with water, filtered, and ready to bottle. Unlike wine and beer, most of the filtering used in spirit production are vegan. Woo hoo!


Vegan Alcohol List

Fun Fact: This was the drink I had to celebrate my 21st birthday!

Although a lot of the processes I mentioned above are not vegan-friendly, there are alcohol companies who strive to make their processes vegan. Below is a list of brands that do not harm animals in the making.


Beer

I am not a beer girl, so I will admit that I am not the most educated on this subject. Here are some popular beer brands I was able to confirm are vegan. Check out this huge list of vegan beers from PETA for more!

  • Coors
  • Coors light
  • Miller Lite
  • Bud Light
  • Bush
  • Bush Light
  • Michelob
  • Natural Light
  • Miller High Life
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Kona Castaway IPA
  • Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
  • Coney Island Overpass IPA
  • Lagunitas IPA

Wine

Now wine, on the other hand, is something I am very passionate about. Here is a list of delicious vegan wines on the market.

  • Kris Pinot Grigio
  • Decoy Wines
  • Les Jamelles Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
  • Newman’s Own Chardonnay
  • Layer Cake
  • Our Daily Chard
  • Fat Cat Cellars
  • Seven Daughters Moscato
  • Rose all Day
  • Natura Rose
  • Piper Sonoma

Spirits

Not a huge fan of hard liquor, but I have definitely taken some shots back in my college days. Here is a list of commonly found vegan spirits.

  • 1800 Tequila
  • 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey
  • 2bar SPirits Vodka
  • Absolut Vodka
  • Amaretto
  • Aperol
  • Aviation Gin
  • Don Julio
  • Patron
  • Tanqueray

Now you can be equipped with knowledge when it comes to ordering vegan drinks at the bar. With all of that being said, drink responsibly!

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Tortellini Soup w/ Vegan Sausage (and homemade croutons!)

To kick off 2022, the weather gods decided to give Colorado a huge snow storm. This made going out to celebrate the new year less enticing, and it made staying in and cooking a comfort meal that much more exciting. As someone who loves soup, I figured a hot bowl of tortellini soup would hit the spot while I watched the snow fall. However, I have never had a vegan version of tortellini soup, so I figured I would write my own recipe and hope for the best!

Thankfully, I had beginners luck with this recipe. Not only was I able to find my favorite brand(s) of vegan sausage and tortellini at Whole Foods, this recipe also knocked my socks off (and my boyfriends, too!) Plus, we were able to make it in one pot in less than half an hour, so it was quick, simple, and still super comforting. If you need a new heart-warming soup recipe to add to your repertoire, this can be your new go to.



Category: Dinner, Soup | Servings: 3 – 5 | Cook time: 25 minutes | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Allergens: Soy, Coconut

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, chopped
  • 1 – 2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 – 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Field Roast Smoked Sausages, sliced (found at Whole Foods)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 300 ml canned tomatoes
  • 4 – 5 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1/2 a can coconut cream
  • 1 package Kit Hill Tortellini (I used the cheese stuffed ones)
  • 3 pieces of thyme
Optional (croutons):
  • 4 pieces of sourdough bread (or 1/4 of a loaf)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Start by preparing the onion, garlic, and sausages. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over low heat
  2. Once the olive oil is heated, add in the chopped ingredients. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add in the spices while you cook, stirring often
  3. Next, add in the flour and stir until the ingredients are coated
  4. After the flour has been added, add in the tomatoes, veggie broth, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook for 10 – 12 minutes, adding the spinach half way through
  5. Lastly, add in the tortelinni and coconut cream and cook for an additional 4 – 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Optional: Croutons Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Chop the sourdough into small cubes and add to a baking sheet
  3. Coat the pieces evenly with olive oil and top with seasoning
  4. Bake for 5 – 8 minutes, flipping halfway through
  5. Serve and enjoy!

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Holiday Baking Ideas

I love the concept of holiday baking. I binge watch The Great British Baking Show, Holiday Edition, all December long, but I am also conflicted because I hate peppermint flavored things (and that’s what most holiday baking includes.) So, this year, I took a different approach and combined my favorite flavors while still sticking to the holiday theme. If you need easy, crowd pleasing desserts this holiday season, these are guaranteed to impress your friends and family.


If I’m being honest, sugar cookies are boring to me. Frosting them can be fun, but the flavor has never excited me. However, I could eat sugar cookie dough all day, so why not make a recipe with emphasis on the dough? These bars are doughy, flavorful, and simple to make. If you need an easy holiday treat for your friends and family, this can be your new go to.

Sugar Cookies Bars Covered in "Into The Forest" Sprinkles
Topped with “Into The Forest” Sprinkles from Whole Foods

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3-4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 6 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • Sprinkles and/or food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line a pan (I used an 8 inch cake pan) with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar) and whisk until blended
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cups of the butter (melted*,) 4 tbsp non-dairy milk (room temperature*,) and 3 tsp vanilla extract
  4. Form a hole in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole; combine ingredients using an electric mixer (add 1 tsp of milk as needed if the dough is too dry)
  5. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 15 – 20 minutes (the texture will be wet when removed from the oven, do not bake until dried out)
  6. For the icing, combine 2 tbsp butter (cold), powdered sugar, and 1 – 2 tsp vanilla extract (add in food coloring if desired) and mix with a hand mixer (add in 1 tbsp milk if frosting is too thick)
  7. Once the bars are semi-cooled, frost the bars and top with sprinkles
  8. Store in the fridge, or at room temperature, for at least 2 hours before serving to let the bars solidify
  9. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • *Make sure you use room temperature milk and melted butter. If the milk and/or butter are too cold, the batter will curdle
  • I remade this batter many times, and each time, it came out somewhat lumpy. This is normal, and when topped with frosting, is not noticeable. If your batter looks lumpy, do not stress!
  • I prefer these bars refrigerated, and they keep for up to one week in the fridge

Chocolate Orange Layer Cake with Cranberry Jam

When I was making this, I told my roommate “this has the potential to be the best thing I have ever baked.” Although the presentation got a little sloppy, the flavors are immaculate; I wish it looked as good as it tasted! If you need a holiday dessert to impress, this is your newest crowd pleaser.

Chocolate Orange Layer Cake with Cranberry Jam Topped with Cranberries and Powdered Sugar
Not my best presentation, but the flavors are spot on!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (this cake is very rich, I would recommend using a little less if that’s of concern to you)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil (I used canola oil. Could probably use melted butter as well)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups orange juice (for fresh squeezed, use approx 4 large oranges)
  • 5 tbsp orange zest

For the jam filling:

  • 1 package Ocean Spray cranberries
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

For the icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • Extra powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients and whisk together
  3. In a small bowl, combine your wet ingredients and shave in your orange zest
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and combine with an electric mixer. Pour into the cake tins and bake for 35 – 40 minutes
  5. While the cakes are cooking, combine the ingredients for the jam in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil for approx 10 minutes and mash the cranberries. Add to a bowl and refrigerate until it’s time to assemble the cake
  6. For the frosting, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer. Add plant-based milk if needed to thin out the frosting
  7. Once the cakes are cooked (and cooled), put jam in between and layer the cakes. Coat with frosting and top with powdered sugar, extra cranberries, or whatever your heart desires!
  8. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • This can be messy (obviously my decorating process went a little rouge), so please make sure the cakes are cooled and the jam is cold before decorating
  • Use less cocoa powder if you prefer a less rich dessert

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Trader Joe’s: Meal Prep Ideas

If you love Trader Joe’s and meal prep, this is for you! As a fellow TJ lover myself, I figured it would be a fun idea to create a Trader Joe’s Meal Prep Series. I’m going to share my favorite meal prep recipes every week that I create using ingredients found at Trader Joe’s (for the most part.) Let’s get prepping!

What is meal prep? In short, meal prep is a life saver. As someone who works a 9-5, goes to the gym, and also likes to have a social life, cooking is not always easy to squeeze into my schedule. To ensure I am eating healthy, well balanced meals every day, meal prep is my go to. Every sunday I prep some form of protein, carb, and vegetable, and this is how I prioritize my dietary health. I prefer to meal prep the same meal(s) for 3 – 5 days of the week, but you can also make something different if that’s boring to you. If you’re new to a plant-based lifestyle, meal prepping will be a life saver for you!

Do I have to use Trader Joe’s products? Of course not! I, however, love the affordability of TJ products, so I wanted to base my series off of their products to provide a cheap meal prep options for my readers. You can find 99% of these ingredients in most grocery stores, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have a trader Joe’s near you.


Recipe #1: Falafel Wraps + Homemade Salsa

Category: Meal Prep, Lunch, Dinner | Prep time: 40 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Allergens: none | Servings: 4 – 6


If you’ve ever been to the Minnesota state fair and had the falafel wraps, you have experienced a slice of heaven. If you haven’t, let me explain it to you: a warm, pillowy pita stuffed with crispy, fried falafel and topped with onions, crisp cucumbers, and the most creamy tzatziki sauce. I am not sure why, but I have been dreaming about these lately, so I used it for my inspiration for my weekly meal prep

Although I would love to eat deep fried falafel on pita bread every day, it’s probably not the healthiest option. Therefore, I put a lighter spin on the classic falafel wrap by baking the falafel + using a whole wheat tortilla instead of pita bread. This is one of the easiest meal preps I have done, and I have yet to get sick of it (and I’m on day 4!)

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, no worries. Most of these ingredients can be found at any grocery store. I’m just a Trader Joe’s groupie, so I prefer to shop there.


Ingredients:

  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas (or wrap of choice)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 package falafel mix (or frozen falafel)
  • 1 container of vegan tzatziki
  • 1 lime
  • cilantro to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: green olives

Salsa Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bell peppers
  • 1 handful baby tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro to taste

Instructions:

A charcuterie board for falafel wraps? Yes please!
  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and greasing a baking sheet
  2. If using falafel mix, follow directions on package and set aside for 40 minutes. If using frozen falafel, heat after the veggies are done.
  3. While the falafel sets, slice your bell peppers and onion into long slices. Slice the cucumber as well and set aside for later
  4. Once the falafel mix is set and ready to bake, place the peppers, onions, and falafel (follow instructions on box on how to create the proper shapes) on a baking sheet. Season the vegetables with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes
  5. While the ingredients are in the oven, prep the salsa. Start by chopping the onion, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Set in a small bowl
  6. Next, heat the corn to room temperature and add to the bowl
  7. Lastly, add in the garlic powder, S&P, juice of 2 limes, and olive oil. Mix well, then top with cilantro. Refrigerate for at least an hour prior to serving
  8. Once the falafel, peppers, and onions are done, place the ingredients in separate tupperware and refrigerate. When you’re ready to assemble, heat your tortillas, add in your ingredients (falafel, pepper, onion, cucumber, tzatziki) and top with salsa and cilantro for a delicious prepped meal!

Notes:

  • These ingredients, when covered and refrigerated, can be stored for up to 7 days
  • I recommend adding hot sauce to the inside of the wrap for an extra kick!
  • If you cannot find vegan tzatziki, you can use vegan sour cream & add in chopped chives and garlic salt for a similar flavor. You could also substitute hummus

Recipe #2: Veggie Bowls with Coconut Rice + Tahini Dressing

Prep Time: 35 minutes | Cook Time: 60 minutes | Category: Dinner, Lunch, Meal prep | Allergens: Soy, coconut | Servings: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups broccoli (I used frozen)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 block tofu (extra firm preferred)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 cup white rice
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 – 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp plant-based butter (optional)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • arugula (or green of choice)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • splash of white vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 – 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 – 2 tbsp water (if needed)

Instructions:

  1. Begin the recipe by pressing your tofu for 20 – 25 minutes. Once pressed, cube the tofu and add soy sauce, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 tbsp sriracha to a tupperware (or bag.) Add the tofu, mix, and marinate for one hour minimum
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil
  3. Chop the sweet potatoes and onion and add to sheet pan. Add the broccoli as well and coat the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, mixing the vegetables around half way through
  4. Once the tofu is ready, either bake (or air fry) the tofu at 375 degrees for 15 – 25 minutes (if air frying, cook for 15 – 20 minutes. If baking, cook for 20 – 25 minutes)
  5. For the rice, I used a rice cooker (but this can be done on the stove as well.) Add the coconut milk, water, and coconut oil to a saucepan (or rice cooker) and cook your rice in the mixture. Add salt and/or butter to taste once finished and fluff the rice
  6. While the rice, tofu, and vegetables cook, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl (or blender) and combine. Adjust spicy and acidic flavors to your liking
  7. When everything is cooked, it’s ready to eat! I recommend serving it on a bed of arugula. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • You can keep this stored in the fridge for 7 – 10 days
  • I recommend storing all ingredients separately (i.e. the vegetables, rice, arugula, and sauce)
  • Do not dress the dish in advance; dress it when you are ready to eat to avoid soggy components
  • If you want more flavor from the tofu, marinate it overnight

Recipe #3: Chickpea Curry

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Category: Meal Prep, Dinner | Allergens: Coconut | Servings: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes
  • 4 -5 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3/4 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 package red curry sauce (could substitute curry paste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups rice of choice

Instructions:

  1. Start by preparing your rice (on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, etc.)
  2. Next, chop the bell peppers, onion, and garlic and add them to a large saucepan; saute with olive oil for 8 – 10 minutes. Add in the spinach for the remaining two minutes and cover
  3. Once the spinach becomes vibrant in color, add in the tomatoes (chopped), the curry sauce, chickpeas, cumin, pepper, red pepper flakes, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer
  4. After the curry reaches a simmer, lower the heat, cover, and let cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Pour the curry over rice & enjoy!

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Vegan Thanksgiving Necessities (easy!!)

Thanksgiving can be rough for vegans/plant-based consumers. Most of the foods served during the holiday season revolve around meat (turkey) and dairy (green bean casserole, pie with whipped cream, mashed potatoes with milk and butter etc.) This year, I had the luxury of having three Thanksgiving dinners, so I decided it was time I perfected some veganized Thanksgiving classics. In this post, I’m showing you how to veganize stuffing, mashed potatoes, and apple crisp without sacrificing any flavor.

Since I made these recipes three days in a row for vegans and non-vegans alike, I can guarantee they are crowd pleasers. Next Thanksgiving, I dare you to serve these recipes to any vegan skeptics – they won’t even be able to tell the difference.


Vegan Stuffing

This recipe got the highest rating out of all of them. Packed with flavor from the sourdough, nutrients from the veggies, and the comfort of a warm homemade dish, this side is the perfect complement to any Thanksgiving dinner.


Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of sourdough (or bread of choice)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp dried sage
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • butter to taste (I used 3 tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut your loaf of bread into small cubes and place on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  3. In a medium sized pan, combine 1 tbsp of butter, the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent.
  4. Once the bread is ready and the vegetables are cooked, place them in a medium sized baking pan. Add the seasonings, mix, and then slowly pour in the veggie stock 1/2 cup at a time.
  5. Once prepared, place back in the oven for 30-40 minutes, mixing as needed to avoid the top layer of bread from burning.
  6. Enjoy!

Vegan Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes

For a girl who grew up eating microwavable sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, this was quite the level up. Hand mashed, skin on, and extra creamy, these are a new staple for me.


Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 russet potatoes
  • 4 – 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 3/4 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup chives, chopped
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, add enough water to cover your potatoes and bring to a boil. Add 2 tsp of salt to the water.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, chop your potatoes into 1 inch cubes (If you prefer no skin in your potatoes, peel before chopping)
  3. Add the chopped potatoes into the boiling water, cooking until tender (you should be able to stick a fork through them with ease)
  4. Once tender, drain the potatoes and add back to the pot. Let the potatoes cook for 2 – 3 minutes on the stove top to get rid of excess water.
  5. Next, using a potato masher (or large fork) begin to mash the potatoes. Mix in the melted butter and milk slowly, while mashing, for optimal flavor.
  6. Once the potatoes are creamy, fold in the spices, sour cream, and any extra milk or butter desired.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Apple Crisp

I have always loved apple pie, but the thought of making an apple pie indimitades me. So, instead of going through all of the hassle of making pie crust, I decided an apple crisp was the next best solution. Not to brag, but when this dessert was served next to non vegan options, it got demolished! Plus, it’s almost impossible to screw up.


Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 3 – 4 apples (I used honeycrisp)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 – 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • cinammon to taste
  • 1 – 2 tsp non-dairy milk (only add if needed)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Peel the apples and slice thinly, adding to a small baking dish
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the filling and add to the apples
  4. In another bowl, combine the topping. Mixing with your hands will be easiest
  5. Bake for 45 minutes (and broil at the end if you prefer it crispier)
  6. Enjoy!

I hope these recipes will help take the stress out of your next Thanksgiving and give you a way to impress your friends and family.

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Sesame + Sunflower Seed Coated Tofu (hormone friendly!!)


This page may contain affiliate links or feature products I was sent. Please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I’ll be the first to admit, cooking tofu can be boring. Tofu has a bad reputation in the protein world, especially among meat eaters. It gets labeled as “flavorless” and “spongy”, two words I used to describe it as as well. However, as I progressed into my vegan lifestyle, I knew tofu would become a staple in my diet (you can’t beat the price!) so I started experimenting.

At first, I was not super impressed. I made the common mistake of not pressing it for long enough, coating it in too much cornstarch before baking, or not using enough seasoning. With time, I learned the ropes and was able to make tofu something I genuinely enjoy (I eat it almost everyday now!)

This recipe is a new one for me, but it was one of the first tofu recipes I made that turned out amazingly on the first try. The secret? Replenished Roots Seed Cycling Blend (Luteal Phase Blend.) This ground mixture of sesame and sunflower seeds is meant to be incorporated daily for the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle to support hormone health, so adding them to my tofu coating was an easy way to get those into my diet. If you want to know more about seed cycling, check out my instagram post with details.

If you’re looking to impress a tofu skeptic, this is a great place to start. Otherwise, check out my fan favorite “honey” sriracha tofu recipe here.


Ingredients:

  • 1 block tofu (extra firm)
  • 4 tbsp Replenished Roots Seed Cycling Blend (or grind up sesame and sunflower seeds in a food processor)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tbsp soy sauce (I used coconut aminos)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Category: Protein, Dinner | Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 15-25 minutes | Allergens: Soy | Servings: 1 -2

Instructions:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit (if using an airfryer, skip this step)
  2. Next, press the tofu for at least 20 minutes (I find it easiest to use a towel and heavy objects like cutting boards)
  3. While pressing the tofu, combine the olive oil and soy sauce in a bowl. Set aside
  4. On a plate, combine the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, half of the seed blend, and S & P. Mix together and set aside
  5. Once the tofu is pressed, cut the tofu into small slabs. Coat the tofu in the oil + soy sauce mixture and then transfer the slabs onto the plate with the coating. Cover with the coating and set on baking sheet (or in air fryer)
  6. Cook the tofu for 25 minutes (flipping halfway) in the oven, or 12 – 15 minutes in the air fryer
  7. When cooked, remove the tofu slabs and coat with the remaining seed cycling blend.
  8. Complement it with your favorite sides & enjoy!

Notes:

  • To optimize hormone health, eating the seed blend raw is the most beneficial. This is why it’s vital to top the tofu with seeds when finished cooking.
  • If you’re looking for crispy tofu, or tofu nuggets, add 1 – 2 tbsp of cornstarch to the coating before baking.

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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

As someone who could (and sometimes does) eat breakfast food for all meals of the day, this is a perfect mash up of breakfast and dinner. This meal is the ideal mix of sweet, spicy, and savory, making it a perfect meal for someone who can’t choose between sweet and savory.

When I got the idea for this meal, I had no idea how it would taste. I was in the middle of whole foods buying a random mix of ingredients just praying it would come together. And guess what? It did! Not only is it delicious, but it’s full of plant-based protein, healthy fats, starch, colorful veggies, and more.

Although I didn’t make my own guacamole for this dish (the avocados at the store were not even close to ripe,) the salsa is homemade and easier than ever. If you’re not in the mood to make the salsa yourself (slicing and dicing can get tiring,) feel free to sub it with your favorite store bought pico de gallo. This dish can be as homemade or as store bought as you would like, so it’s great for those nights you feel like being a chef and also the nights you feel like cooking as lazily as possible.


Category: Dinner | Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour | Allergens: Soy | Servings: 2


Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 block of tofu (extra firm)
  • 2 bell peppers (I used yellow and red)
  • 3/4 cup of baby tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a red onion
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime (just the juice)
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro
  • 3 tbsp guacamole (I used the Whole Foods spicy brand)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Place your sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Use a fork to create holes in the sweet potatoes for a more even bake. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes
  3. While the potatoes are baking, press the tofu for at least 20 minutes (I find the best way to do this is to wrap the tofu in a towel and place it underneath cutting boards, heavy books, or anything with weight)
  4. In the meantime, prepare the salsa. Start by dicing the onion, cutting the peppers, and slicing the baby tomatoes. Add to a small bowl.
  5. Next, add your corn, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix, cover, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
  6. Once the tofu has been pressed, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the tofu and begin to scramble it.
  7. After most of the moisture appears to be gone from the tofu (or approx 8 minutes), add in your garlic powder, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and salt and pepper if desired.
  8. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven, let cool, and slice down the middle. Add your tofu scramble, salsa, and top with guacamole.
  9. Enjoy!


Notes:

  • If you don’t enjoy sweet potatoes, this would work with butternut squash as well
  • Additional toppings: plant-based sour cream (or plain yogurt,) melted plant-based cheese, hot sauce, or whatever you prefer!
  • If you have large sweet potatoes that are taking forever to cook, you can bake them for 30 minutes, cut them in half, and bake them for another 30.

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Single-Serve Apple Crisp

Category: Dessert | Allergens: None | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes

Apple crisp is a staple in my fall diet. Not only is it delicious, it’s basically fool-proof. You can put nuts, seeds, berries, etc., in it, and no matter what, it always comes out delicious. For me, I am a purist: I like a simple apple base, a standard crumble, and occasionally some vanilla ice cream for an extra topping. However, for this apple crisp, I mixed it up: I added Replenished Roots Seed Cycling blend to the topping for an added health benefit.

For those unfamiliar, seed cycling is a way to balance women’s hormones by eating specific seeds at certain points in the menstrual cycle. As someone who has struggled with hormonal related issues, including acne and bloating (read more about my personal issues here), seed cycling has been an amazing addition to my plant-based diet.

The seed blend I used in this crumble is a combination of ground pumpkin and flax seeds, aka the follicular phase blend. This mixture in particular aims to assist the body in supporting estrogen production by binding legnans to estrogen. Pumpkin and flax seeds are both packed with zinc and omega 3’s, helping to support blood flow, limit cramps, and more!

So, not only is this apple crisp simply delectable, but it has some added hormone support! Check out Replenished Roots here.


Replenished Roots Seed Cycling Blend

Ingredients

  • 1 apple (I used a gala apple)
  • 2 – 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp plant-based butter (cold)
  • 2.5 tbsp oats
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • optional: 2 tbsp Replenished Roots Seed Cycling Mix (pumpkin + flax seed blend)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit
  2. In a small bowl, combine the apple (chopped), apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and the vanilla extract. Stir until the apple is coated in the mixture.
  3. In an oven safe bowl, bake the apples for 10 minutes.
  4. While the apples are baking, combine the oats, butter, white sugar, the rest of the cinnamon (to taste), and the seed cycling mix in a small bowl. Combine using your hands for best results.
  5. Remove the apples from the oven, top with the crumble, and bake for another 20 – 25 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!


Notes:

  • If you’re similar to me and prefer a crispier crumble, broil the apple crisp for 1 – 3 minutes after it’s done baking.
  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, use a different acid. Lemon juice, white vinegar, etc.
  • Maple syrup is a great topping (or add in) if you are low on sugar.

*This page may contain affiliate links that I gain commision on if purchases are made through them. I hope they help you as much as they helped me! You can view my full disclosure here.