The Best Vegan Plant Based Mac n' Cheese

This has got to be the best Vegan/Plant-Based Mac n' Cheese.

I’m always trying to re-create a dairy-free mac n' cheese and I feel like I finally nailed down a solid good recipe. I'm particularly excited to use basil and Oregon White Spring Truffles from my Portland Farmer's Market haul today. Fun Fact: I'm obsessed with truffles. And, not the chocolate kind. One of my dreams is to go truffle hunting in Alba, Italy.

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What You'll Need

1 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup oat milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp yellow mustard seed powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp Pink Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups quinoa elbow noodles (I used this band)

Optional: Oregon White Spring Truffles Shavings or White Truffle Sea Salt for a mind-blowing boost of flavor and depth. 🤯

What You'll Need To Know

Cook quinoa noodles as directed.

While the water is boiling the noodles are cooking, add to a high-speed blender all ingredients, except basil and blend for 30-60 seconds.

After the noodles have cooked, drain and pour "cheese" all over and mixed together.

Serve and enjoy!


Meal Prepping Like A Boss / Part 1

meal prep like a boss

You've probably heard that preparing your own meals instead of eating out is a great way to save calories when you're trying to lose weight or simply eat a healthy, balanced meals.

Food prepping can and will change your life! It saves time, and calories like you wouldn't believe. 

However, a home cooked meal isn't necessarily a good choice in all cases. You can prepare meals that are very high in calories without even realizing it. 

Over the weekend, I meal planned, prepped and cooked and found that, although it was time-consuming, it was actually pretty simple! 

Not knowing how to meal prep shouldn't stop you from planning and prepping your meals for the week. That's why I have some pro tips to help you on your food-prep journey!


Plan, Plan, Plan

My best tip is to have a plan for each meal. Decide what you're going to make ahead of time and make sure you have the ingredients on hand. That way you have the tools you need to prepare a low-calorie meal at home anytime you get hungry.

When I meal plan and prep, I typically make big batches of 3-4 meals for myself and my husband. These meals consist of: protein, healthy fats, veggies, and carbs. 

Protein: 4-6oz
Healthy Fats: 1/4 - 1/2 avocado, 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
Vegetables: 1-2 cups
Carbs: 1/2 cup (these are starchy items like sweet potatoes or yams)

My suggestion is to mix and match from these categories and start planning:

Protein: Chicken breast, lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, flank steak, nitrate-free lean lunch meat (turkey breast, ham, or roast beef)

Carbohydrates: Oats, quinoa, couscous, brown rice, wild rice, almond flour tortillas (I love Siete brand), sweet potatoes, yams

Healthy fats: Avocado, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil and coconut oil

To be clear, you don't have to count macros to make this work. You can also use the "fist method" Counting macros or not, having detailed guidelines ahead of time will help the shopping and prep. You can even take it to the next level and label containers by day and meal.

This week I decided to plate them individually--thoroughly weighed and portioned out in individual containers. So, having a kitchen scale was paramount to this.

Purple Cauliflower Rice with roasted sweet potatoes and grilled chicken.

Purple Cauliflower Rice with roasted sweet potatoes and grilled chicken.


Eat Vegetables At Every Meal

Vegetables are a great source of fiber, which helps prevent hunger between meals. Make sure you have a vegetable at every meal.  

For my meal preps, I typically add 1-2 cups of vegetables.

I love roasted or steamed vegetables, which make great add-ins and sides. Because they are packed with fiber, your body will be satiated for very few calories. 

Once a week, roast a big pan of mixed vegetables and use them in salads and soups or as a healthy side dish all week long. Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and bell peppers are all delicious choices. I typically toss mine in coconut oil, sea salt, and oregano and roast them at 350F for 20-30 minutes, depending on what I'm roasting up.

Easy, right?

 

Zoodles with ground turkey and sweet potatoes.

Zoodles with ground turkey and sweet potatoes.

Keep It Simple

Seriously, keep it simple! You don't need to prepare 21 specific meals on your food-prep day, or you'll be in the kitchen forever!

Preparing generic, versatile foods can be even more efficient.

Cook up some veggies you love and lightly seasoned salmon, chicken breasts or ground turkey that you can throw into any recipe later on during the week.

I make 3-4 different meals for some variety throughout the week. 

The week's meals for lunch & dinner:

Me:
Zoodles with seasoned ground turkey and sweet potatoes
Grilled chicken with broccoli, mushrooms and sweet potatoes
Grilled chicken with sweet potatoes and cauliflower rice

Gregg:
Ground turkey, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
Grilled chicken with broccoli, mushrooms and sweet potatoes (or potatoes)
Grilled chicken with broccoli, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts
Grilled chicken with roasted carrots and cauliflower rice

For  healthy fat, we top our meals with 1/2 avocado

These were the bases:
Roasted Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, mushrooms

Fresh Vegetables: Zucchini zoodles, brocolli (steamed before eating each meal)

Cooked Vegetables: Purple cauliflower rice cooked in coconut oil, hemp seeds, and coconut shreds, and seasoned with lemon and sea salt

Protein: Grilled Chicken marinated in lemon juice and sea salt; Ground Turkey cooked in coconut oil and seasoned with smoked paprika, sea salt and 

What about breakfast? For breakfast, I usually have a Coconut-Avocado smoothie or chia pudding. Gregg practices intermittent fasting (IF), so his first meal is usually around 10:30/11am.

Don't Starve Yourself!

If you're trying to lose weight, you might feel inclined to cut back on calories by preparing much less food than you're used to eating. Nine times out of ten that will backfire. You'll be so hungry that you'll end up buying unhealthy snacks in between meals, spending more money, and ultimately gaining weight. You know your appetite, so meal-prep accordingly so that you don't accidentally starve your body!

Food-prepping is a lifestyle change that you should enjoy and not dread.

Prepare healthy foods you'll enjoy; if you hate Brussels sprouts and fish, don't eat only those just because they're healthy. Switch to broccoli and chicken if that's what you prefer.

Being happy is just as important as being healthy. 

Now that you know these tips, you’re ready to get started! Don’t say next week or next month; you can start the next time you go to the grocery store. When you do, make sure you share any new tips you’ve learned here.

Do any pro food-preppers have some advice to share? I want to hear it here!

Here's How to Build the Perfect Smoothie Bowl + Recipe

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Mornings have never tasted so good! A smoothie bowl is just what it sounds like. You make a smoothie, but then you place it in a bowl and top it with whole ingredients. The result? A super delicious and really healthy morning or midday meal. One caution, though – you can’t go crazy with ingredients or you could wind up making it less healthy and more junk foody. A smoothie bowl is just what it sounds like. You make a smoothie, but then you place it in a bowl and top it with whole ingredients. The result? A super delicious and really healthy morning or midday meal. One caution, though – you can’t go crazy with ingredients or you could wind up making it less healthy and more junk foody.

To be honest... If I'm not making a smoothie bowl at home, I tend to be very picky about the places that I order them from. Why? Well... at most smoothie bowl spots, they tend to make these seemingly "good-for-you" bowls heavy in fruit, sweet yogurts, sugar filled nut milks, granola, etc. packing in a ton of sugar and not enough protein. And, while fruit is good for you, these bowls are ‪‎sugar bombs‬, and it's not really a well-balanced pick. But, it doesn't have to be that way! 

I love health hacking recipes. Naturally, I wanted to hack this health trend.

Here's How to Build the Perfect Smoothie Bowl
Here's How to Build the Perfect Smoothie Bowl

So, how can you get the benefits smoothies can provide without overloading on sugar? My suggestion is getting rid of as much sugar as possible:

  • Swapping flavored yogurt for plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt. (Higher protein count!) Cashew yogurt is also another great alternative.
  • Don't use sugar, honey or agave nectar to sweeten it up. Opt for Stevia, Monk Fruit or get your sweetness from fresh fruit in season.
  • Try to incorporate more veggies and a bit less fruit. Instead of a whole banana try half and half an avocado for uber creamy consistency.

As for toppings, I get it. They are all the craze and what make them look so pretty. But don't go overboard with them. Be smart about them. Reach for the almonds, cashews, chia seeds, pumpkin or hemp seeds to boost the protein content of your smoothie bowl, and add healthy fats to your bowl. Coconut and goji berries are also a good pick.

Add a scoop of a plant-based protein or collagen peptides to up the protein content for a more balanced bowl.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for your love of smoothie bowls. I just want to make sure you're doing 'em right. Here's a smoothie bowl recipe I'm currently loving:

Here's How to Build the Perfect Smoothie Bowl
Here's How to Build the Perfect Smoothie Bowl

What You'll Need

Smoothie Base:
1 zucchini (frozen)
1 handful baby spinach
1/4 avocado (frozen)
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
1 scoop collagen peptides
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened)
3/4 cup cashew milk, unsweetened
a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
1 tsp cacao nibs
3 drops stevia

Toppings:
1 tbsp Solstice Canyon cardamom clove almond butter
1 tsp coconut shavings
1 tsp raw pumpkin seeds

What You'll Need To Know

1. In a high-speed blender add 1 zucchini (frozen), 1/4 avocado (frozen), 1 handful baby spinach, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, 2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds, 1 scoop collagen peptides, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened), 3/4 cup cashew milk unsweetened, a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt, 1 tsp cacao nibs, 3 drops stevia, and blend for about 30-60 seconds until everything is smooooooth.

2. Pour in a weck jar or tall glass and drizzle with Solstice Canyon cardamom clove almond butter and sprinkle coconut shavings and more pumpkin seeds.