roasted stuffed sweet potato

Vegan Oil-Free Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Recipes
roasted stuffed sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite ingredients. They are versatile, easy to cook and inexpensive, making them a great option for any meal. This particular meal is great because you can eat it any time of day depending on what ingredients you use. I used this recipe for lunch for the last couple of days and it is so filling and delicious! The other great part is that this recipe does not use any oil making it an especially healthy plant-based dish.

Like I said before, this recipe is incredibly versatile. You can sub out whatever ingredients and spices you like and use them to stuff your sweet potato. These particular ingredients were what I had on hand which made it super easy to make for a somewhat quick and healthy lunch. I’ve seen breakfast variations as well that include almond butter and bananas and maple syrup and definitely think I will have to try that next.

Vegan Oil-Free Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

2 medium to large sweet potatoes, washed

1/2 red onion, diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can corn, drained

1 cup quinoa, cooked

1 large tomato, diced

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

Juice of 1 lime

Salt & pepper

Toppings: guacamole, Fritos, cilantro, vegan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork and roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until soft when stabbed with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, cook onion in a pan over medium-high heat until soft.
  3. Once cooked add beans, corn, spices, lime juice and quinoa and mix until well combined.
  4. Cook ingredients until warmed through.
  5. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and once cool enough, cut them in half.
  6. Place one half in a bowl and top with quinoa mixture.
  7. I topped mine with homemade guac, some fritos and some vegan cheddar cheese. Top with whatever you like or have available! Enjoy!

You Don’t Have To Be a Vegan

Ramble On

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I guess haven’t had the time or focus to word vomit my thoughts onto the internet. It’s a topic that is close to my heart and has grown increasingly more important to me over the last year or so. I believe that diet is so important to having a healthy lifestyle and in being so a direct correlation to happiness and mental health as well. All of the information posted here is of my own opinion and from my own experience. I am in no way a health professional or a nutrition expert so please take this post with a grain of salt and do not look to me for life-altering changes. This is simply my take on my diet and how I choose to eat. Your life is your responsibly. With that said, let’s get into what has been brewing in my head and in my heart for so long.

I decided to stop eating most meats around 2014. I say most meats because I continued (and still occasionally) eat fish. The technical term for this type of diet is pescatarian. The choice to move to this type of diet I believe was mainly due to exposure to people in my life who were completely vegan. I saw how they ate and had many conversations with them about why they chose the diet they did. It got my wheels turning. I never really enjoyed eating meat. Sure, a steak now and then was okay, but it wasn’t something I craved, and I think cooking chicken was more of a habitual convenience than a diet choice. I was raised having and slaughtering livestock for food. The graphic images of this have stuck with me for life and was also another huge reason I stopped eating meat paired with my love for animals. Lastly, and I think the main reason I stopped, was due to all of the new information coming out about the meat industry. People were researching where our food was coming from and finding that it wasn’t as clean or maybe even as safe as we thought it was. All of this put together just clicked for me. I didn’t want to be a part of something that hurt animals, but I also didn’t want to jeopardize my own health by ingesting food that could be tainted with chemicals or bad juju.

Jumping forward to today, I guess I would still be considered pescatarian, as I occasionally eat fish. I say occasionally because most of the time now when I eat it is when there is no other solid protein source available (such as going out to eat or being invited to a friend’s house for dinner), or if we catch the fish ourselves while camping and eat it while on vacation. I have cut out most of the dairy in my diet, again, only eating occasionally or when there’s no other option. Alternatively, I purchase almond milk for cooking and consuming at home, as well as the wide variety of non-dairy cheeses available at pretty much any grocery store these days. I also still eat eggs, however I only purchase cage-free organic eggs and hope to have my own chickens soon to source eggs from (I plan on doing a more educational post on why I still eat eggs in the future). So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel like in order to get into the conversation I want to start, it’s better to know where I’m coming from. I don’t want to seem like I come from a place of judgement. And, I suppose, that’s really my reason for this entire post.

Let’s stop judging each other for what we eat, and let’s start encouraging each other to do better.

No, I am not vegan, but I do eat like a vegan as often as possible. Do I call myself a vegan? No. Do I call myself a vegetarian? No. Why do I need to call myself anything? I think the biggest problem with the whole vegan label is the idea that we have to limit ourselves right away (and limit everyone else) to actually make a difference. You have to start somewhere, and that’s okay. This is why I include my journey in the beginning of this post. I think it’s so important to show people that it can be a transition. And it doesn’t even have to be this extreme! I mean, it’s not really extreme at all, but it can be simplified even more. And I think this is important because people are naturally afraid of change. Change can be scary, so sometimes it’s easier to process when we start small. I think that putting these big over-arching labels on things makes the plant-based community feel hard to reach. And we need to make it more inclusive if we want to see real change. Let’s get into easy ways that you can creep into being more plant-based and start making changes that are easy to accept but also easy to grow from.

Meatless Mondays

The first and probably one of the most popular ways to become more plant-based is starting with Meatless Mondays. This is where you take one day out of the week to eat completely meat-free (and hopefully dairy-free too!). I think this is a great option for people who have never really considered eating vegetarian or vegan diets before. It’s a small step into a big world and makes for a great opportunity to research recipes, ingredients and different ways of cooking without throwing your whole life into a whirlwind. Still too much change? Start with plant-based dinners on Mondays. This way it’s only one meal once a week while still giving you a great opportunity to try new things and hopefully spark bigger changes.

Small Ingredient Swaps

Another great way to make small changes in your diet is to pick one specific item or ingredient that you could start living without. For example, instead of drinking or using cow milk you switch to almond milk. This is a small change that could grow into something larger in time but still make a small difference. It’s also a great opportunity to try new plant-based ingredients and give yourself a way to figure out what you like in case you decide to take a bigger plunge. Don’t care for almond milk? That’s fine. There’s also soy milk, cashew milk and oat milk to name a few. Another great and easy ingredient swap? Switching ground beef for plant-based crumbles. There are many different brands now that offer such a substitute and I find that most taste just as good, if not better than ground beef.

Plant-Based Meal Swaps

I think this is probably one of the most fun ways to try plant-based changes and a great way to get friends and family involved too. Take turns hosting dinner nights (or just swapping meals or recipes) and sharing your favorite plant-based recipes. I know that this has been huge in my circle with showing people that plant-based meals don’t have to be boring or only filled with vegetables (although those are my favorite *wink*). Have friends that already eat plant-based? Ask them about helping you find options and making changes! I’m sure they’d be happy to help you along or invite you to dinner to see what great and healthy meals you might be missing.

These are just a couple of the ways you can start making a difference. If you’re interested in hearing more, let me know in the comments below.

We don’t all have to be vegan right now. If we can all commit to starting somewhere and making small changes we can all start to make a difference.

MelissaRose

Vegan Sweet Potato and Portabello Fajitas

Recipes

Fajitas are easily in my list of top five easy dinners. They are quick, they are cheap and they are absolutely delectable. These particular fajitas are also great because the ingredients are so versatile. Don’t like mushrooms? Add more sweet potatoes. Not a sweet potato fan? Add more mushrooms! Or heck, go get some Beyond Meat chicken strip thingies and leave both out if you prefer, but I hope you won’t! Because the sweet potatoes and Portabello mushrooms are absolutely divine in this recipe. Especially when mixed with some fresh smashed guacamole. Mmm, mm, mmmmmm. Okay, honestly, everything is delish with guacamole – am I right?

When I made this recipe, I cooked the mushrooms separately from the rest of the veggies because hubs doesn’t like them, but you can totally cook all veggies in the same pan to save time. Another tip is to always wrap your sheet pans with foil before roasting veggies. This makes for super easy clean up at the end – you’ll thank me later. Another tip that’s helpful if you’re not super familiar with Portabellos (like me), is to scrape the gill looking portion of the portabello caps out before slicing and cooking. The gills area very dark brown and can turn whatever else is in the pan with them dark brown as well making it look less than appetizing. They are easy to scoop, just use a small spoon and carefully scrape the bottoms of the mushroom caps. You can then rinse if you’d like or go to straight to slicing. They are super delicious cooked up and in these fajitas! You won’t be sorry! (Also, sorry for the poor image quality – I took videos and forgot to take photos so these are crappy screenshots)

Vegan Sweet Potato & Portabello Fajitas

3 Portabello mushroom caps, scraped and sliced into about 1/2″ wide pieces

2 Sweet potatoes (or garnet yams), cut into wedges

1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow bell peppers, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

Salt and Pepper

Olive oil

Guacamole or salsa for topping

Tortillas

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place sweet potato wedges on a prepared sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and half the cumin plus salt and pepper. Once preheated, bake sweet potato wedges for about 25 minutes or until cooked to desired consistency.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a pan and add veggies (or you can cook them separately for picky eaters).
  3. Season with cumin, garlic powder and salt and pepper.
  4. Once potatoes and veggies are cooked, you can add them all to the same pan for easy serving.
  5. Add a scoop of veggies and potatoes to a tortilla, top with guacamole or salsa if desired and enjoy!

Vegan Black Beans and Greens Meal Prep

Recipes

Sunday is meal prep day! And today I made delicious protein and fiber-packed bowls that I can’t wait to eat throughout the week. This recipe is also super simple to make, inexpensive, and extra filling. The ingredients are also available pretty much year round making this the perfect meal prep for any season.

Black beans and rice are a protein-packed combination. Add the broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms to that and you’re adding even more fiber as well as a calcium boost. I love heating this dish in the winter time or eating it cold in the summer months – both ways are delicious! My favorite part is definitely the dollop of hummus added at the end. Simply mix the entire bowl together to create a delicious comfort food feeling meal. Let’s show you how to make it.

Vegan Black Beans and Greens Meal Prep

2 zucchinis, sliced

3 small crowns of broccoli, chopped

1 box of baby Bella mushrooms, sliced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup of brown rice (cook to package directions)

Garlic powder (if desired)

8 Tbsp Hummus

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

  1. Cook 1 cup of brown rice according to package directions. My bag says that 1 cup of dry rice makes 5 3/4 cup servings. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. While rice is cooking, prepare a baking sheet (I like to use foil for easy clean up), place all vegetables and beans on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic powder and salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Once everything is cooked, place even portions into 4 food containers (or more if you want smaller portions).
  4. Top each filled container with 2 Tbsp of hummus.
  5. Place lid on container for eating throughout the current week. Enjoy!

Vegan Lasagna

Recipes

Lasagna is one of my favorite foods of all time. Who am I kidding, pretty much any type of pasta is my favorite food. Carbs, basically, just all the carbs. This lasagna is awesome because it’s completely vegan while still packed full of nutrients and yumminess. It combines a homemade ricotta, spinach and artichoke hearts with the classic red sauce that you can either make at home or buy premade. I did use gluten-free oven-ready lasagna noodles for this particular recipe which I didn’t care for – I didn’t care for the oven-ready part, the gluten-free part was fine. I would recommend using normal or gluten-free noodles you’ll have to boil first, but trust me it will be worth it.

This is also posted on my Instagram account (@melissaroserambles) under my Food highlights if you’d like to see this recipe in action!

Vegan Lasagna

Cooked lasagna noodles, at least 8

5 oz of fresh baby spinach, chopped

1 7.5 oz jar of artichoke hearts, chopped

1 8 oz bag of vegan mozzarella shreds

1 4 oz container of vegan parmesan

1 24 oz jar pasta or marinara sauce

1 batch of vegan homemade ricotta (recipe below)

Vegan Ricotta

Place all items in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F and grab a 13″ x 9″ glass baking pan.
  2. Mix vegan ricotta mixture with chopped spinach and artichoke hearts. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour a layer of sauce in the bottom of your pan and layer two noodles. After the noodle layer, add a ricotta mixture layer, a mozzarella and parmesan layer, and then repeat each layer until you run out of noodles and other mixtures.
  4. Top entire lasagna with remaining vegan cheeses and cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
  6. Once finished baking, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup

Ramble On

Soup is seriously one of my favorite foods! There are so many different kinds and variations that I could go crazy trying to make them all every night for dinner. This particular recipe I realize now probably isn’t so vegan since I used egg noodles – DUH, new vegan eater over here. BUT you could totally replace with vegan egg noodles if you have an issue with it. I’m not as weird about eggs as most people who eat vegan because I buy cage free organic and cruelty free eggs. I actually prefer eggs from backyard chickens and am even considering getting my own chickens in the spring so that will make it even less of an issue. ANYWAY – this soup is bomb no matter what noodles you use, heck you could even use rice! It’s super duper fricking easy and only requires 5 ingredients plus a TON of spices.

I fully suggest letting the broth simmer for a while before adding your noodles – the smell is DIVINE. It also makes for great leftovers. Isn’t leftover soup at work the best? It’s like being transported home for a little bit with all the yummy comforting warmth. Did I mention I love soup?

Easy Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup

4 carrots, sliced

4 celery stalked, sliced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 15oz can chickpeas, drained

7 cups vegetable broth

1 cup water

2 small bay leaves

1 tsp thyme (or herb de Provence is super yummy too!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cup egg noodles, vegan if desired (or any pasta)

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery to a large pot over medium heat and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add spices, broth and water and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  3. 5-10 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the noodles and chickpeas and remove the bay leaves. Let noodles simmer for 5-10 minutes or until they reach desired firmness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

Easy Sugar-Free Applesauce

Recipes

I love apples and I love quick and easy recipes so this sugar-free apple sauce is one of my favorite things to make after apple-picking. Lucky for me, my mom has an apple tree so I have almost unlimited access to apples all autumn long. This allows me to play around with recipes to my hearts content. This recipe is by far one of the easiest and probably healthiest dessert recipes around – at least I eat it for dessert. There is no sugar added, just cinnamon, because the apples are sweet enough. You can make this on the stove or in a crockpot, but I really do prefer the stove method because it is faster and makes the house smell so yummy. Happy Fall Ya’ll!!

Easy Sugar-Free Applesauce

4 medium sized apples, peeled and cut into chunks

A few Tbsp of water

1/4 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste

  1. Add your apple chunks to a medium sauce pan and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan but not cover the apples.
  2. Place on the stove over medium-low heat and let simmer until the apples are soft
  3. Using the back of your spoon or a potato masher, squish those apple chunks to your desired consistency. If you like super smooth apple sauce you could always use an immersion blender here to really whip it up.
  4. Add cinnamon and mix completely.
  5. Pair with a scoop of your favorite non-dairy vanilla ice cream or enjoy by itself!

Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

Recipes

Do you ever wake up in the morning knowing exactly what you want for breakfast? And not just knowing, but absolutely craving one particular thing? That was me this weekend. I lay in bed drooling over the idea of a big plate of biscuits and gravy. I scoured my phone for vegan breakfast joints to no avail. I couldn’t even find a place that offered a vegetarian version. I was crushed. But then, I realized that I actually had the exact ingredients I needed to get my butt out of bed and make my own. Seriously, though, Sacramento, you need a vegan breakfast place, or at least a vegetarian one, or maybe even just a place with more than just one veggie option for us plant-eating peoples. Anyway, I jumped out of bed and got to the kitchen, hubs got the coffee going and I got ready to make some biscuits.

Now you may think of making biscuits on a Saturday morning as a chore, but I say nay! Especially not with the super easy and delicious vegan biscuit recipe from one of my favorite cooking sites – Minimalist Baker. Their Best Damn Vegan Biscuit recipe is super easy to follow, quick to make and perfect for a Saturday morning. They paired deliciously with the rest of this dish and were even amazing the next day with some vegan butter and strawberry jam. Since I got this biscuit recipe from their site, I won’t repost it here. Simply visit the link above to make your biscuits before heading into my recipe for vegan sausage and gravy.

Not all vegan sausage is created equal – at least in my mind. For this recipe, I recommend something that crumbles up nicely like a ground sausage typically would. I used the Gimme Lean Sausage from Lightlife and love how it turned out. This sausage is also a great option for breakfast because not only can you crumble it, but if you want to use the rest for later you can cut it into patties too! Anywho, you’ll only use about half of the 14oz pack for this recipe, but obviously if you like more or less sausage than me you can adjust that how you’d like. I also used almond milk for this recipe, but I imagine you could use whichever dairy-free substitute you prefer. Let’s just go ahead and get into it, all this typing is making me hungry!

Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

**Make biscuits using the Best Damn Vegan Biscuit recipe here.**

1 package of Lightlife Gimme Lean veggie sausage

4 heaping Tbsp flour

1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk

Oil of choice for cooking sausage

  1. Cook the sausage according to the package directions using oil of choice.
  2. Once sausage is cooked, dust over the top with the flour and stir to combine.
  3. Add the almond milk slowly, while stirring to the sausage-flour mixture. The milk will not thicken all at once, so simmer for a while and continue to stir frequently until you reach your desired consistency. If it becomes too thick, add more milk and if too thin add more flour.
  4. Pour gravy sausage mixture over your homemade biscuits and enjoy!

Vegan Caramel Corn

Recipes

Caramel corn is a necessity in our house around the holidays. Every year my husband’s mom makes loads of it and gives us each a giant bag at Christmas time. This year, I thought it would be fun to make some a little early for a Halloween treat exchange at my work, and I thought it’d be even more fun to try and make it vegan. Although, I’m not really sure what my MIL’s recipe is, maybe hers is vegan too, but I digress. This recipe is super easy to make, and even easier if you can list an extra pair of hands (thanks, honey!). You see, caramel corn is a delicate process. Caramel can burn quite quickly if you’re not careful, so having someone else helping in the kitchen can make the whole process a little less stressful.

The first batch that I made of this I used regular white sugar. Now, the first batch didn’t turn out bad so if that’s all you have on hand it’ll totally work. Just keep in mind that the white sugar will make it a bit more like kettle corn than caramel corn. On my second batch, I decided to go with brown sugar instead and this was where I hit the sweet spot. The brown sugar caramelized perfectly and became even more delectable after baking it in the oven for a bit. It came out perfectly crunch with just the right amount of sweet and chewy. Nobody wants to be digging caramel out of their teeth for hours. This recipe would make a great Christmas gift for family and friends or stuff it into little baggies for kid’s school functions or holiday parties. Now I won’t be making it for that purpose since my MIL makes it every year, but best believe as soon as I run out, I’ll be heading into the kitchen to make some more!

Vegan Caramel Corn

Approx. 10 cups of plain popped popcorn (for me, this was right around 2 batches in the air popper)

2 heaping Tbsp of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 tsp table salt

2 Tbsp plain unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)

1/4 cup organic 100% maple syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F and prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone baking mats (I used one of each and both came out the same).
  2. Add all ingredients except baking soda to a pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Stirring constantly, add the baking soda and reduce heat to low. Stir for about a minute or until you see the mixture change to a dark caramel-y color.
  4. Dump your popcorn into paper bags and evenly pour your caramel mixture into the popcorn.
  5. Shake the popcorn vigorously until well coated (this is where the extra set of hands comes in!!)
  6. Spread the coated popcorn evenly out onto your baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the popcorn reaches a nice golden brown color.
  7. Remove from the oven and lay out on a either a new piece of parchment paper, a clean baking sheet or I used a couple of clean cutting boards. This cooling process will allow the popcorn to become crispy and delectable.
  8. Store in large ziploc bags or sealed containers until you’re ready for some seriously delicious snacking!

Vegan Baked Peaches

Recipes

Today’s post is taking me back to colder days at the middle of September. Weather has been weird here in northern California, and we’re actually back to days in the high 80s late into October. I’m not loving that summer doesn’t seem to want to end. It makes me miss warm and cozy recipes like these easy baked vegan peaches. These are seriously so simple, I think the most difficult part was cutting the peaches in half.

These use a vegan butter substitute and some basic sugars. If you’re a super hardcore vegan you could also sub for coconut sugar or whatever you prefer. I also used yellow peaches, which in my experience with baking peaches, work best for this type of recipe. The white peaches are too tough and don’t soften correctly in the oven. Without further ado, let’s throw back into cooler temps and yummy desserts.

Easy Vegan Baked Peaches

2 large ripe yellow peaches, cut in halves and pitted

2 Tbsp vegan butter

4 Tbsp brown sugar

Cinnamon for sprinkling, if desired

  1. Place peach halves in a baking dish and preheat the oven to 375°F
  2. Add 1/2 Tbsp of vegan butter to the center of each peach, followed by 1 Tbsp of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the peaches are soft.
  4. Top with your favorite dairy free ice cream and enjoy the lovely smells and the warm feelings from these incredibly easy and delicious peaches!