Tag Archives: vegan

The Delicious Dish


It’s recipe time! I’ve picked out some of my favorite recipes from the last few weeks of veganism.
You’ll notice that I use almost no “fake meat” products, which is by design.  My diet consisted of mostly unprocessed foods prior to my vegan adventure, so I didn’t want to introduce many of those in to my diet.  I’ve tried a few meatless products before, and for the most part, I don’t like them.  They don’t really mimic the texture of meat very well, and a lot of them are high in sodium.
Check out this article if you’d like some tips from the pros on incorporating more vegan products/recipes into your cooking repertoire.

Disclaimer: There are a few “recipes” that I have developed on my own.  I apologize in advance because I don’t measure anything when I’m not following a recipe (actually I don’t measure much even when I do follow a recipe).  So if you try something that you think you would normally like and find it repulsive, it could be because my estimations of ingredient amounts are off.  Or it could mean that you don’t know what good food tastes like.  Hard to say.


Citrus Poppy Seed Salad – I thought about using a substitute for the coconut oil because I didn’t have any, but decided to bite the bullet and purchase some.  Totally worth it.  The flavor of the coconut oil is so surprising when combined with the citrus, and it’s delicious.  I used ruby red grapefruit, blood oranges, and navel oranges in my salad.

Barbecued Blackeyed Peas– Ok, so these take a lot of time to make, but it’s mostly hands off time, so you can do plenty of other things while these are soaking/boiling/baking.  I also added a little brown sugar at the end, and it resulted in a sweet, spicy side dish.

Fruit Salad w/honey lime dressing– This is one of my favorite ways to add some flavor to a boring fruit salad.
2 cups of chopped fruits (You can really use anything, but I used mango, blueberries, and strawberries)
2 T canola oil
2 T honey
2 T lime juice
1 T roughly chopped basil/mint

Whisk together all of the liquid ingredients in a small bowl and mix in the basil/mint.  Pour over the fruit, and enjoy!


Smokey Spicy Pumpkin Almond Soup– I know this link says butternut squash, but I didn’t feel like roasting and pureeing all that squash, so I used canned pumpkin instead.  I couldn’t find dried chipotle peppers, so I used canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  Oh my spicy! I substituted coconut milk for heavy whipping cream, and because the soup was so spicy, I just poured in a whole 14 oz can (instead of 1 cup) to calm it down some.  I also added a little honey to sweeten it up.  I ate this first with some cranberry walnut bread (from Sprouts) and then ate leftovers with a black bean and quinoa stuffed bell pepper.

Aztec Soup – My friend Jenn gave me this recipe, and I can’t get over how easy it was to make (only took about 30 minutes) and how tasty it was. The toasted nuts, avocado, and tortilla chips add so much flavor and texture. I also added in a can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed) to get some more protein, and a couple teaspoons each of cumin, coriander, and oregano.
½ c pine nuts
½ c walnuts
2 TBS butter (or oil or vegan butter)
1 small onion-chopped
1 minced garlic clove
6 cups vegetable broth (I use a couple veggie buillon cubes)
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 package of frozen corn (10 oz.) or 1 can
1 avocado, cubed
½ c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Blue corn tortilla chips

Saute the pine nuts and walnuts in 1 TBS of the butter until golden, then set aside in a bowl

Saute the onion and garlic in the other TBS butter, then add the broth, squash and corn and boil until the squash is soft

Serve in bowl and add in avocado, nuts, pepitas, and crushed tortilla chips



Kale Avocado Wraps w/Spicy Miso Dipped Tempeh – There may be some words in there that you don’t recognize.  Miso is soy fermented with a fungus to make a paste that is common in Japanese cuisine.  It’s tangy and tasty.  Tempeh is similar in that it is the product of fermentation of soybeans, but it isn’t tangy, and it makes a great, all natural meat substitute.  All in all, this dish provides lots of probiotics from the fermented foods, which I’m all about, since I’m not getting my daily dose of probiotics from yogurt.  I ate this yummy wrap with the fruit salad mentioned above and sweet potato fries.

Beany, Avocado, Cilantro Salad Surprise – This is one of my creations, which you could probably guess based on the stupid name I gave it. This salad could be eaten as a side or as a main dish, depending on how hungry you are.  The recipe below yields about 4 cups of protein-packed salad.

½ can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
½ can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 avocado, cubed
½ cucumber, diced in large chunks
½ red bell pepper, diced in large chunks
~1 cup spinach, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
-Mix all that stuff together

½ cup packed cilantro
2 T lime juice
2 T orange juice
3 T olive oil
1 tsp agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste
-Blend all the dressing ingredients together (I used a Magic Bullet). Pour over salad and mix. Eat up!


Indonesian Cabbage Salad (another recipe from Jenn) – Holy crap. I can’t get over how amazing this salad is.  It might be one of the best salads I’ve ever had. I love it. I love it so much.  Plus, it’s very aesthetically pleasing.  However, like the fool that I am, I forgot to buy bok choi, so I just added more carrots and bell pepper.  Jicama might also be a nice addition. As you can see, I also ate this with vegetarian pot stickers (from Sprouts).
Mix together the following:  1/2 head of purple cabbage shredded or cut thin, 4 stalks of bok choi (sliced thin), 1 carrot cut thin, 1 red bell pepper cut in thin strips, ½ c. fine chop cilantro, ½ c. raw sunflower seeds.
Add this curry sauce:
½ c. almond or peanut butter
½ c. water
¼ c. rice vinegar
2 TBS miso
1 TBS cilantro
2 TBS maple syrup or honey
1-2 tsp red or green curry paste
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp ground ginger
-Blend all of the above well and pour over veggies.


Red Quinoa Broccoli Salad w/Almond Honey Vinaigrette This wasn’t a within-the-last-month discovery for me, but it is my favorite tofu dish, so it’s worth sharing. If you don’t have red quinoa, don’t fret! You can use normal quinoa (or rice)- it just won’t be as pretty. I also add dried cranberries/cherries to give it a little more flavor, texture, and color.

Vegan Alfredo – I know what you’re thinking. Alfredo is pretty much the antithesis of veganism. You are correct.  And while this doesn’t taste exactly like alfredo, it is surprisingly close, which was shocking given the ingredients from which it is comprised.  As an aside, the picture in this link has to be a lie.  All of the ingredients are brown (cashews, soy sauce, mustard, nutritional yeast flakes, etc).  I’m no artist, but from what I know, you can’t mix a bunch of brown colored things and get an off-white result.  So no, it doesn’t look like alfredo, but damn it, it tastes good.  I ate mine over whole wheat fusilli pasta with steamed broccoli. Delish.

Alright, you only get one treat because I’m tired of writing this post.

Honey-Almond Popcorn– I made my popcorn using actual popping corn, and not from microwaveable popcorn.  It’s cheap (buy it in the bulk section), and it tastes better and is healthier than microwaveable popcorn. But if you only have the in-the-bag stuff, go ahead and pop it, skip the first portion of the recipe, and join back in for Part 2.

Part 1:
In a heavy bottom pot (I use my pasta pot), heat 3 T of canola oil (or any other oil with a high smoking point, NOT olive oil) over medium-high heat.  If you want your popcorn salted, this is the time to add in the salt, as it will coat all of the popcorn as it pops.
Add in a couple of kernels of popping corn, cover the pot, and wait for the kernels to pop.  This is how you know the oil is hot enough.
Remove the pot from heat and add in 1/3 cup of corn kernels (this will yield ~8 cups of popcorn) and count to 30.  This step ensures that all the kernels and oil are at the same temperature.
Put the pot back on the heat, cover, leaving lid slightly ajar (this allows moisture to escape and keeps your popcorn crunchy instead of soggy). Let the popping commence.  Once you’ve got a popping frenzy going, shake the pot occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns.
When popping is reduced to ~3 seconds between pops, remove from heat.

Part 2:
Heat 1/3 cup of honey over medium heat until it boils. Remove from heat.
Add a heaping spoonful of almond/peanut butter to the honey and stir until well mixed.
Pour over your popcorn, mix thoroughly, and dive in!

Hope this gives you some ideas for vegan-friendly dishes! I also hope that this shows that eating vegan isn’t boring or restrictive.  My diet is incredibly varied, and I’m never ever bored. Please leave a comment if anything isn’t clear or if you have questions!


Weight Loss of the Unintended, Vegan-Induced Variety



Over the last few years of studying obesity and chronic disease development/prevention, I’ve learned so many ways to lose/maintain a healthy weight.  Many of these tools include portion control.  By that, I mean limiting the size of the portions of foods that are calorically dense and high in fats and sugars (but not eliminating them as deprivation is the shortest route to binging).  I also eat larger portions of nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, non/lowfat yogurt and cheese, etc.  It may sound neurotic or obsessive, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even think about it anymore – it’s just how I eat.  Over the last 3.5 years of graduate school, I’ve incorporated all these habits into my life and slowly lost about 10 pounds.

When I started this experiment, I was at my lowest adult body weight, and I was happy with that weight.  But I made the mistake of simply taking the way I was eating and swapping out animal products with more legumes, fruits, and vegetables.  In doing so, I probably reduced my daily intake by at least 300-400 kcals, if not more.

The first few days, I wasn’t able to stay full for long.  I found that I was eating a larger volume of food than I ever have. I was eating so many fruits, veggies, and beans, and I was essentially eating all day.  I got on the scale on Thursday, and I had lost 3 pounds since I weighed myself two weeks prior (I may have lost some weight in those few days between weighing myself and starting veganism, but there’s no way of knowing).  What I do know is that I freaked out because my intention is not to lose weight, and I realized my approach has been off.  I talked to my friend Tracy, a registered dietitian, and she gave me some pointers on how to get in more calories. Some tips from the RD herself:

  • Starch it up.  Eat more pasta, rice (whole grains, of course), potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, fruit juice, dried fruits, etc.  I need to max out my glycogen stores so that I can start depositing fat.
    Physiology lesson: glycogen is your body’s storage form of glucose.  Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles, and when your body needs energy, it will break down glycogen into glucose to use for energy.  Your body can only store a finite amount of glycogen though, and when that volume is reached, it will start converting glucose into fat.
  • Go nuts.  I was eating more nut butters, but I got bored with that pretty quickly since I already eat them about once a day.  I’ve started eating more dried fruit and nut mixes.  I eat about a cup a day (normal serving size is ¼ cup), which gives me lots of calories from fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and also supplies healthy phytonutrients.  This has helped me stay full way longer.
  • A vegan milkshake a day helps keep the skinnies away.  Tracy also recommended that I drink a shake at night to help me sock in calories.  There are some soy ice creams out there.  Some people like them — I think they taste like play-doh. I do like coconut “ice cream,” though, so I’ve been making a shake with chocolate coconut ice cream (I get mine from Trader Joe’s), some almond milk, peanut butter, and banana slices. It is awfully tasty.
    Metabolism Lesson: Nutritional scientists used to think that eating late at night wouldn’t promote weight gain as long as calorie intake matched calorie output over the long term, and anything that said otherwise was a myth.  There is now emerging evidence suggesting that activity of hormones and enzymes involved in metabolism and the deposition of fat changes with circadian rhythms.  So, in fact, eating calorically dense foods late at night may cause your body to store said calories as fat.  The verdict is still out as most of the published studies have only been in animal models, but there are studies currently being conducted in humans, so we’ll have to see what those results say.  Given the information out there now, though, my recommendation would be to cool it on the Ben & Jerry’s late at night if you are trying to lose weight.

If it’s not obvious, I don’t incorporate EVERY one of Tracy’s tips every day, because that could lead to too much weight gain.  I choose a few a day, and that helps to keep my diet varied and interesting.  Hopefully I’ll get my intake figured out in the next few days.  Of course, I could put on weight in really unhealthy ways by eating chips, fries, candy, and soda, but that’s not my approach to life.  There are healthy ways to gain weight, much like there are (un)healthy ways to lose weight.

If you are trying to lose weight and get healthier, try small changes like making all of your snacks vegan.  Eat fresh fruits, veggies and hummus, or ¼ cup serving of mixed nuts. Get creative with your options, and you’ll likely feel healthier for introducing so many nutrient-dense foods into your diet.

So far, being a vegan has been surprisingly fun.  I only really miss animal products with regard to the flavor they provide.  A couple of times I’ve cooked a meal and thought to myself, “A little bit of bacon/feta/parmesan would go really well with this.”  I’m trying to use more unique spices and herbs to enhance the flavor profile of my foods so that animal products are just a distant memory.  I’m also learning about cooking with new (to me) products like tempeh, nutritional yeast, and how to make “cream” sauces out of cashews. I’ll post some good recipes here soon, and you can give veganism a whirl as well!