Salads.

I know. Sounds boring, right? The second I mention I’m vegan, that’s all I hear. ‘Oh, so you eat, like, salads?’

Well, yeah. But I also eats LOADS of other stuff.

I just happen to like salads. And so should you! Leafy greens have the highest nutrient density per calorie. We should be eating a large salad every day. Not as a side, but as a meal. That’s the only way to pack in a majority of the micronutrients we need.

In this post I am sharing my two favorites salads, plus another one I just recently tried that adds a nice spin on traditional salads.

First up, this salad is what I like to call the Health My Lifestyle Classic Salad. Or HML Classic Salad for short. It’s my go-to, and I never get tied of it!

HML Classic Salad

HML Classic Salad

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1-2 cups romaine hearts, chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
½ cup red cabbage, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup walnuts
Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing

Directions
Toss everything in a large bowl.

HML Classic Salad

Next up is a spin off the classic but with a Mexican twist.

Mexican Salad

Mexican Salad

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1-2 cups romaine hearts, chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
½ cup red cabbage, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup spiced black beans
generous dash of garlic powder
generous dash of onion powder
generous dash of cumin
dash of salt
Salsa

Directions
Rinse the black beans and place in a microwavable bowl. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt to the beans; stir well. Microwave for 1-2 minutes to warm up the beans. Toss beans and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add as much salsa as you want, just make sure there is no- or low-added sugars.

Mexican Salad

This next salad was inspired by the Detoxinista’s 2-Ingredient Detox “Spaghetti”

“Pasta” Salad

Ingredients
Half a head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup of pasta sauce
1 cup of mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen
A dash of oregano
A dash of garlic powder
A dash of onion powder

Directions
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cabbage, pasta sauce, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder, stirring continuously until the cabbage softens; 8-10 minutes. If cooking the mixed vegetables from frozen, place the vegetables in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are steamed through, stirring halfway through for even cooking. If cooking from fresh, steam the vegetables until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Add the steamed vegetables to the saucepan. Stir and serve.

"Pasta" Salad

It doesn’t replace pasta for sure, but it’s nice to have another option!

These salads are supplemental to my FREE meal plan, which is almost ready! It’s full of healthy, delicious recipes, that are affordable! If you’d like to be the first to receive it be sure to sign up for my mailing list below.


xoxo Rachel

Breakfast Hash

Do you love hash browns but can’t seem to enjoy it without a good douse of ketchup? I can’t stand plain hash browns but I also don’t want to fill up on ketchup that’s full of sugar and sodium either. And don’t get me started on all of the oil that the hash browns have added to them. That’s why we created this breakfast hash that doesn’t need anything added. And it’s sooo good!

It’s a fairly simple recipe but filling and full of flavor for the perfect start to your morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. Because let’s be honest–breakfast is good any time of day.

I’m excited to share this recipe with you because it is one of the many awesome ones I’m developing for my FREE meal plan (coming soon). I want to show you how easy it is to live plant-based, how affordable it is, and how undeniably delicious it can be! If you’d like to be the first to receive it, be sure to sign up for my mailing list below!


breakfast hash

Breakfast Hash

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Water as needed
  • 3 large red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-sodium black beans
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, add water and potatoes, continuously adding 1-2 tbsp of water as needed to ensure potatoes do not stick to the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until potatoes start to soften. Add everything else except the black beans. Stir frequently and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. Add black beans and cook for another 4-5 minutes until heated through.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving 251
Carbs 51.86 g
Fat 0.81 g
Protein 9.94 g
Fiber 11.09 g

High in Folate, B1 (Thiamine), B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium

Breakfast Hash

This started out as a more tradition hash but we added beans to up it’s nutritional content. Even though it doesn’t look like hash browns, it’s even more delicious!

Hope you enjoy it!

xoxo Rachel

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Soft. Chewy. Chocolate chip melty. Just to name a few ways I would describe these tasty morsels.

I wanted to share a simple, delicious recipe that is easy to make and satisfies the sweet tooth. As mentioned previously, I have the biggest sweet tooth and yes, sometimes I do have cravings for it still, even on a plant-based diet–but my cravings are less frequent and less intense. When they do strike, I want to something that satisfies, but also something that won’t make me feel guilty about eating later.  And something to note, you’ll notice after eating a whole food, plant-based diet for a while that your palate has changed and you start to appreciate the natural, wholesome foods more and find the processed items to be sensory overload. Before this lifestyle change, that never happened to me. “Too sweet?” is that even a thing? I get it now, guys. I get it.

But even on a plant-based diet, I still have an appreciation for sweets on the occasion. And although this recipe is not super decadent, it still satisfies the cravings without the excessive calories and fat typically found in sweets.

Without further ado–

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Vegan chocolate chip banana oatmeal cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup of oats (I use quick oats)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • a handful of dairy-free chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life brand)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash the banana smooth until only small chunks remain. Then, add in the oats, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and mix well. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips. You can add in a small amount of water if the mixture is to dry or add more oats if it is too wet.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon to scoop the mixture out and place on the cookie sheet. You can roll them up more or flatten them out. I chose to just drop them on the sheet, hence the odd forms. This recipe makes 6 but feel free to double for extra cookie delight.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. If you double the recipe you may want to increase the bake time to 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before eating. I used a drying rack for speedier cool time (because, in the words of the Cookie Monster, “Me want cookie!”).

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

So good!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I love how easy and tasty these cookies are. And you can satisfy that craving in less than 30 minutes, start-to-finish! Watch out Rachael Ray!

xoxo

 

Three-Bean Chili

This chili is the best chili I have ever had, and I’m not lying. Ground up shredded animal bits deserve no place in the amazingly, flavorful dish. We’re talking REAL FOOD here–> e.g. beans, tomatoes, carrots, and jalapeños for you spicy folks. We make this dish all the time and the plant-based doctors praise us for such good eating (okay, they don’t know me, but if they did–they’d be commending me for this dish!).

Three Bean Vegan Chili

Three-Bean Vegan Chili

You can make this on the stovetop or in a crockpot. Today I’ll explain the crockpot steps. This recipe fills a 6-quart crockpot and makes enough meals to last for the week. Feel free to cut this recipe in half or freeze the extra for later if needed.

Ingredients

1 large onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded (if desired), diced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 6oz can (6 Tbsp) tomato paste
5 cans of beans, drained and rinsed–our preference is:

2 cans (15 oz) Red Kidney beans
1 can (15 oz) Pinto Beans
2 cans (15 oz) Black Beans

1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Turmeric
1/2 Tbsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Chili Powder
1/2 Tsp Cardamon (optional)
1 Tsp Garam Masala (optional)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions

Turn your crockpot on to high heat. Place onions and garlic in the crockpot with a Tbsp or two of water to keep them from sticking. Stir until soft and translucent for few minutes. Add the jalapeños, celery, bell pepper, and carrots and stir for another few minutes, adding water as necessary to reduce sticking. Add the tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste and stir well. Next, add the beans, cumin, turmeric, oregano, chili powder, garam masala and cardamon (for an added sweetness), salt, and pepper. Stir everything together, cover, and leave on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-8 hours or until heated through and the liquid has reduced.

What is great about this recipe is that it is so versatile. You can really add whatever vegetables or beans you prefer, add more or less spice depending on your preference, and even the cooking time is variable to your needs–Going to be at work all day? Put it on low in the morning and leave it until you get home. Need to run a few errands before dinner? Leave it on high for 1-2 hours.

Serving Suggestions

In a bread bowl!

Vegan Soup in Bread Bowl

We like splurging on a bread bowl or two to serve our chili in.

Add sweet potatoes, corn, or even lentils! Get creative with your fave ingredients!

Three Bean Vegan Chili

Or add some delicious vegan cheese on top like this guy–>

vegan cheese model

Be like him. He knows what’s up.

Or maybe you’re a sour cream kind of pal.

Dairy free sour cream

Vegans have your covered.

So don’t fret that you can’t enjoy your chili the way you like it! Hope you give this recipe a try! xoxo

Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

As promised, the recipe for Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts that I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Menu post. This has been adapted a bit from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.

I grew up HATING Brussels sprouts as I did most vegetables. I am one of the pickiest eaters you will ever come across. And yet, somehow, these babies are soooo good, even I can’t pass them up. Now, I really did want this up before Thanksgiving so you all could share this treat with your families (my bad), but they are amazing any time of the year!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
1/4 finely minced shallots
1/4 coup maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos or tamari
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Cut the stems of the Brussels sprouts and discard, then cut the sprouts in half. Cook the sprouts in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a nonstick saucepan, sauté the shallots in a small amount of water or vegetable broth for 2-3 minutes. Add the boiled sprouts and sauté for 4 more minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and cornstarch together. Pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Garnish with nuts as desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The first step of cooking the Brussels sprouts can be done in advance. That is what we did the day before Thanksgiving to cut down on some work the day of. You can also mix the sauce together ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight but we actually ran out of time Wednesday due to the arrival of family that day. But the sprouts came out AMAZING! We made a little extra sauce for some extra flavor. The only thing I’d do differently next time is quarter the sprouts instead of halve them, especially for the bigger sprouts.

Apologies for not having a better photo of this amazing dish. It was too delicious to not dig into right away! This is an old photo that really doesn’t do it justice.

maple glazed brussels sprouts

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Stayed tuned for some exciting news I am sharing next week! xoxo

What’s On My Thanksgiving Menu

With just over a week away from Thanksgiving, it is time to start planning the menu for the big day. This is my first Thanksgiving on a whole foods plant-based diet. It’s about to get interesting. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is centered around processed meats, lots of fat and butter, and sugar-laden desserts. Any vegetable on the table is typically baked into a casserole with cheese or butter. The only semi-healthy item is the salad (which wasn’t a common option on Thanksgiving in my family for what I can remember) but any health aspect was negated by the cheese and fatty dressing poured on top.

And then the stomach ache and drowsiness would set in.

Ever wonder why you get so tired after a big meal? On Thanksgiving, many blame the turkey because it contains tryptophan. However, this myth was dispelled over a decade ago by a study done at MIT. Turkey only contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid, in small quantities. What happens is that tryptophan has to compete with other amino acids for transport across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. Since it is found in animal proteins in a smaller ratio, it is typically last in line for transport. So if anything, consuming turkey actually lowers tryptophan levels. When tryptophan is consumed as part of an animal protein meal, serum tryptophan levels rise while brain tryptophan levels decline.

Lower tryptophan levels are associated with depression so being able to have it cross the blood-brain barrier is key. On Thanksgiving day, what’s more likely happening is the refined carbohydrates and fat are increasing the release of insulin, which causes the muscles to take up the non-tryptophan amino acids as fuel and allows the tryptophan to be first in line for brain access. Once in the brain, this leads to an increased production of serotonin–the “happy hormone” and some of it gets converted to melatonin, a chemical associated with helping sleep.

The reason you feel so much sleepier than usual on Thanksgiving is because of the sheer amount of calories you’re consuming–>not only does that surge of serotonin production lead to melatonin, but your body has to use so much energy just to digest all of that food. Also, being dehydrated can exacerbate your lethargy, so make sure to drink plenty of water!

An alternative is to eat a plant-based meal that will not cause the sugar high and subsequent crash. Whole plant foods are nutrient dense and fill you up sooner with less calories. It is REALLY HARD to over eat on a whole foods plant-based diet. And those complex carbs break down slower which means a more gradual release of insulin rather than a spike.

calories

And when consuming foods with a high tryptophan-to-total protein ratio such as pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or roasted soy beans, tryptophan levels in the brain increase. This may be why studies show that those eating plant-based diets have superior mood states. You heard that right–I’m happier than you omnivores!

veganbaking

This is what they meant by better mood, right?

This year Daniel and I are hosting my family for Thanksgiving so I have been getting pumped up to plan the menu. There will be a total of 6 people. Although I am trying to stay as close to whole foods as possible, it is a holiday which calls for some rules to be broken. Don’t worry, I’m not eating animal products. But I’m okay with adding some processed foods to mix against what I just blabbed on about. You’re welcome. (Dr. Michael Gregor said what you eat on holidays and special occasions won’t affect your long term health sooo…..)

pumpkin_pie2

The Menu:

And here’s a teaser photo of those sprouts:

maple glazed brussels sprouts

You haven’t lived until you’ve had maple glazed Brussels sprouts. Even a picky eater would gobble these up.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration for your own Thanksgiving meal from my menu. The turkeys will thank you! xoxo

turkeys

Baked Zucchini Chips

These are so good, I could munch on them for days. Weeks. Months. Years. Mmmmmmm. I’ve made them three times in the past week. Yeah, you heard me! Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself! =)

Baked Zucchini Chips

I was inspired to make them from the Krunchers Kosher Dill Chips. If you don’t have all of the dry ingredients, don’t worry about it. Pretty much any of these seasonings will taste good on the chips!

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast or 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese for non-vegans
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Zucchini cut into thin slices (1/8-inch thick)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix first eight ingredients in a medium bowl. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the zucchini slices into the milk, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating each side. Place coated slices on a baking sheet covered in foil or non-stick spray (foil makes clean up quick and easy). Bake for 30 minutes, flipping slices over halfway, until they’re golden and crispy. Enjoy!

bake zucchini chips

baked zucchini chips

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie

It tastes as good as it sounds.

chocolate peanut butter banana protein smoothie

First things first: I’m not sure if all protein powders are vegan, so check before you use it, but I use Shakeology in the chocolate vegan flavor. If you don’t want the added protein or don’t have protein powder, cocoa powder should do.

Ingredients:
1 banana
1 scoop of Chocolate Shakeology or 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 Tbsp peanut butter or almond butter
1 cup almond or soy milk
3-4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

chocolate peanut butter banana protein smoothie

Kale with Tomato Risotto

This is not my original recipe but I have altered it for the Vegan Challenge. It comes from the Superfoods cookbook by Dolores Riccio that I picked up in Portland, OR. It’s super easy and can be made mostly in the microwave!

Healthy Vegan Kale with Tomato Risotto

Ingredients:
1/2 pound Kale
One 13-ounce can of vegetable broth
1/2 cup Diced canned tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp Arboria rice or 1 cup white rice
1-2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)

Directions:
Wash kale and cut stems off of the leaves. Fill a large pot halfway with water, bring to boil and blanch the kale for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender. Drain and chop the kale.

Combine the broth and tomatoes in a large skillet and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer until needed.

In a 3-quart casserole dish, microwave the onion and garlic in the oil on high for 3 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the rice and stir well to coat it with the flavored oil. Add the hot broth mixture, cover, and microwave on high for 6 to 7 minutes, until boiling. Change the setting to medium and continue to cook for 10 minutes, until rice is just tender and the liquid has absorbed. Blend ii the Nutritional Yeast if desired and stir in the kale, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

kale with tomato risotto

I used white rice so mine is not as creamy, but you should be able to obtain the creamy consistency that risotto is known for if you use Arboria rice. The starch content in it is what causes the creaminess in the dish. I did not add any Nutritional Yeast to mine because I liked it as is, but if you’d like a little cheesy flavor, go right ahead. And for non-vegans, add 2 Tbsp of grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

kale with tomato risotto

Easy Stir Fry

It’s such a simple dish, yet can have so much variety that you’ll never get bored! I make stir fry pretty frequently and enjoy adding whatever veggies I have on hand at the time.

easy stir fry

What you’ll need:

1 package of firm tofu
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 carrots chopped
1 head of Broccoli, chopped
1/2 green or red pepper, chopped
4-5 cups spinach (loosely packed)
2 cups cooked rice or quinoa
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Drain the tofu and pat dry. Cut tofu into cubes and place on greased baking pan and bake for 45 minutes. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, cook the oil, carrots, broccoli, and pepper until soft. Then add the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Cook for few minutes until heated through. Enjoy!

easy stir fry