Vegan Cheezy Taco Pasta

I’ve done it. I’ve evolved into my final form: mad scientist vegan chef, lvl 96. This is what I’m going to call…#vegan Hamburger Helper, cheezy taco version. Aka nacho taco pasta bake? I’m not entirely sure but you get it. And like…I know hamburger helper is the crappiest crap to ever exist. BUT IT’S SO GOOD. AND THIS IS SO GOOD. AND BASICALLY life is amazing. I’m just sitting here in awe wondering how it’s totally vegan and dairy free.

Life has been calming down a bit now and it feels good. :) Getting into a rhythm at the new house and finding the new normal. Now that things are settling, I’m shifting all my focus towards training for my century bike ride in a few months. I’m struggling since I don’t have a “go-to” group of cycling friends anymore…and it’s a little frustrating that my training depends on other people’s free time. But Nick has been a champ and picking up riding AND riding the same distances as me right away. Things can’t always be as high volume as I’d like…but that’s fine. This weekend, I had zeroooo long ride….which is kind of a bummer. But I think my brain needed it for mental health to just chill for a weekend.

Has anyone ever done a century? I heard that this one is relatively flat, so I’m trying not to worry too much. But I know 1 of 2 things is going to do me in. 1) any hills or 2) forgetting to EAT ENOUGH. I keep getting advice to remember to eat during the ride even when you don’t feel hungry. I alwayssss forget that. I’m also mildly worried that I won’t have anyone to draft off of…but I’m hoping I can just leech off someone random hahaha..ahah….ha….forreal.

So, FOOD!! I made this vegan cheezy taco pasta after a long ride with Nick for us to chow down on. We went innnnnn. It was just right – protein, carbs, comfort fooooodd… Try it out and let me know what you think! Nick said it’s sure to fool any meat eater that they’re eating beef pasta, even though it’s vegan. I love this so much. Enjoy!

vegan taco pasta

Vegan Cheezy Taco Pasta

Serves: 6

First, cook the pasta according to directions on the package. In a large skillet, add the onion, mushrooms, vegan butter, and beefless crumbles. Cook on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the veggies are softened, then add the taco seasoning, salsa, enchilada sauce, vegan nacho cheese, nutritional yeast, and the cooked pasta. Mix to incorporate.

Essentially you’re donezo but you can top with a little shredded vegan cheese if you’d like, then put in the oven at 375F an extra 5-10 mins to melt the cheese on top. Enjoy!!

Learn healthy, plant-based eating in 6 weeks from me.

I tried a Barre Class!

I’ve gone to a lot of group fitness classes before…but it’s been a long time. And I’ve certainly never tried a Barre class!!! I had such a great experience this weekend trying out Barre for the first time!

When I first got into healthy living and trying to lose weight, I found it easiest and most efficient for me to attend group classes. I used to attend classes at my school gym or I’d go to classes at LA Fitness. But currently, I am not a member of a gym. After I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I’ve stuck to riding my bike since it’s low impact. I have light weights at home; I tell myself I’ll do home workouts for strength but….I never do. I just can’t get the motivation to do strength stuff at home. But I neeeeeed to. Working on full-body fitness is so important.

I found this website called CourseHorse where you can search for and book classes local to your city. This is anything from professional courses, gardening courses, acting classes, and more. The wide array is amazing! They are currently still in beta mode for Atlanta and are adding more classes often, but I was still able to hunt down a ton of fitness classes in Atlanta.

I knew if I was going to sign up for a class, I wanted to try something new and out of my comfort zone. I saw things like spin classes and boot camps, but I’m used to things like that and really wanted to branch out. One class that caught my eye was Cardio Barre at the Body Bar Group Fitness Studio. I have neeeever tried barre. I honestly had no idea what to expect! When I search online, I see everything from ladies in ballet uniforms to people in shorts doing planks. I figured I’d take the leap and just find out in person.

The class was SO much fun! If you haven’t tried a barre class, you should!! When I showed up, I quickly realized shorts were a bad idea. Everyone else had on yoga pants (not ballet clothes at least ahah)…since a lot of what we did was a mix of core moves, yoga, and barre. My shorts could be revealing at times, but whatever. Now I know, ha. The instructor as well as the other people in the class were so nice and welcoming. We did circuits of moves like squats, pulse lunges, planks, and muscle-tightening moves like tricep kickback pulses. When you think of the phrase “sculpt and tone”…this is what those moves cater to. The bar part of the class was the hardest! It had me soo sore the next day and I’m honestly surprised I was challenged so much. We like….Stood on our tip toes, squatted down, and clenched a soft ball in between our thighs. Then pulsed. TALK ABOUT BURN. I never think my legs can get tired since I cycle so much, but this hit all the tiny muscles that don’t get used. I will be returning!

CourseHorse has so many unique classes for low drop-in prices that I want to try out. Pilates would be fun to try, and I am super interested in a glass blowing class I found on the site.

Have you ever done barre?! I will definitely be returning and hopefully getting back that strength I lost from my worst peak of fibromyalgia over a year ago! :D So happy I found it.

Learn healthy, plant-based eating in 6 weeks from me.

Vegan Green Chile Cornbread (gf)

Ain’t nothin’ quite like some southern comfort food. This vegan green chile cornbread fills you with happiness and warmth. Perfect for an event or get together, this recipe is dairy free, simple to make, and can be made gluten free!

vegan green chile cornbread

Memorial Day weekend just happened! We don’t do anything huge and celebratory in my family, but we do get together, grill, and just hangout. It’s relaxed fun in the sun. This year was a bit different though than the usual going to my mom’s house and laying by the pool. Last week, I moved in with Nick :) so our mommies came over to hangout while we grilled. I showed off the place to my mom because it looks drastically different from when she helped me move in the week before. Nick and I hustled (I put him through hell, whoops, love you) to unpack all the boxes and organize everything because I just cannot function with boxes and clutter. But now I’m all settled and feeling good!

We had wayyyyy too much food for memorial day. I made this AMAZING vegan cornbread (really just an excuse for me to eat half of it myself) and Nick grilled up a bunch of veggies for me. He did burgers & wings for everyone else and a vegan patty for me. We also had vegan creamy onion dip my mom makes (it’s heaven), guac, veggies, chips, baked beans, roasted potatoes….So much goodness. My favorite was definitely this cornbread though. I baked it in the skillet that Nick had, but it can be made in a regular baking dish as well!

This was absolutely simple to make, and so surprisingly delicious. It’s got a moist butter-y center, it’s light and fluffy, and it’s just so comforting. I love the bits of green chiles sprinkled throughout to give it a subtle kick. You could choose to use jalepenos instead, but I have a personal vendetta with jalepenos and much prefer the green chiles.

Try this out and let me know what you think. :) It’d be great for a group event; it’s a sure crowd-pleaser!

Vegan Green Chile Cornbread

Makes: 16 pieces

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2.25 cups fine ground cornmeal
  • 1.25 cups all-purpose flour (use gluten free, if needed)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1, 4 oz can of diced green chiles (drained and patted dry)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the almond milk and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Set to the side.
  3. In a second medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt) and stir until well combined.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Pour into the almond milk mixture and whisk vigorously for 2-3 minutes.
  5. While stirring, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl. Mix until well combined. Fold in the diced green chiles.
  6. Pour the batter into a well-greased 12 inch skillet or a 9×13 baking dish.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 28-33 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and top with a couple dabs of vegan butter (optional). Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve!

Learn healthy, plant-based eating in 6 weeks from me.

Vegan Triple Chocolate Skillet Cookie

Help I can’t stop stress baking. But this triple chocolate skillet cookie is so good that I can’t even complain. This recipe is fully vegan and can be made gluten free as well. It’s luscious, satisfying, and sure to please!

chocolate skillet cookie

Something about a cast iron just makes the end result of baked goods so much more great. The crisp edges with a perfectly soft center…that’s truly goals. Of course, this recipe could be made without a cast iron; it could be made in a 9×9 baking dish. But if you have a cast iron skillet, WHIP IT OUT! Put it to good use!

This recipe is designed for the true chocolate lover. You’ll die for the chocolate swirl on top! It’s almost a 50:50 cookie/brownie mutant dessert, and I LOVE it.

chocolate skillet cookie

At this point, I’m not sure if I’m stress baking, or just baking from inspiration. Who knows. Don’t care. I bake you eats.

Well…I can’t physically hand these to you. Sooo.. Get to bakin’! It’ll brighten up your mood, always. :)
chocolate skillet cookie

Vegan Triple Chocolate Skillet Cookie

Makes: 16 servings

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 10″ cast iron skillet with vegan butter spread.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, egg replacer, baking powder, and baking soda. Set to the side.
  3. In a large bowl, use a hand blender to cream together the vegan butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until whipped and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend on medium speed until evenly combined. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
  5. Spoon the batter into the cast iron skillet and flatten it out evenly to every edge with the back of the spoon. Swirl the Cocoa Bar in a Jar on top of the cookie batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 33-35 minutes until lightly crisped on top. For a crunchy, browned top, set the oven to broil for another 1-2 minutes at the end.
  7. Let cool for 15 minutes, slice, and serve!!

Learn healthy, plant-based eating in 6 weeks from me.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Want to know a secret about healthy eating? It’s not all about healthy eating. Exhibit A: Vegan chocolate chip skillet cookie. It’s taken me a while to find a healthy balance of loving my healthy food while enjoying in indulgent treats without feeling guilt or totally swinging one way or the other, but I can confidently say that I have reached a great place. I used to feel like if I eat healthy, that’s what I have to be known for. But nah. You can have both. It’s best to have both :) So 1-2 times a week I consistently go out to eat with Nick or friends and once a week I cook or bake something less about “whole foods” and more about having fun and enjoying new things. The other meals? Fruit, veg, tofu, soy, almond butter, and the usual health food staples that I love so much.

vegan chocolate chip skillet cookie

I hope that everyone can reach this place at some point. I know it’s so so hard. Overthinking overanalyzing making things more complicated than they need to be. I also hope that I can maintain this healthy mindset and not revert back to the all or nothing ways. It feels so great and free right now and I never want it to go away.

Needless to say, this recipe is not “healthy” “sugar free” “gluten free” etc etc (although it probably could be gluten free if you use gluten free flour). It’s just a fun, DELICIOUS treat that I wanted to try. I had my slice (or two :p) and shared with Nick (he gets first dibs, forever) and coworkers.

Normally when I bring treats into work, they last until around noon. This was gone by 9 am! I was surprised and very happy. People absolutely loved this and I will be making more for sure. Especially since not everyone saw it out before it was gone! And those that tried it didn’t realize it was vegan until they knew it was me that brought it (cue evil genius music).

Nick has three different cast iron skillets and I feel like that really made this recipe great. I have never used a cast iron, but now I am sold on them. I’m so excited to cook meals upon meals upon meals and force feed people. Muahaha. I don’t know why I’ve always loved the cooking part more than the enjoying? My life is a constant struggle of not having enough mouths to feed. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

Vegan Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Anyways, try this vegan chocolate chip skillet cookie recipe out if you want to make friends. You’ll be drowning in love in minutes. Promise.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Makes: 16 slices

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 10″ cast iron skillet with vegan butter spread.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, egg replacer, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set to the side.
  3. In a large bowl, use a hand blender to cream together the vegan butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until whipped and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend on medium speed until evenly combined. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
  5. Spoon the batter into the cast iron skillet and flatten it out evenly to every edge with the back of the spoon.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-32 minutes until lightly browned on top. For a crisped, browned top, set the oven to broil for another 1-2 minutes at the end.
  7. Let cool for 15 minutes, slice, and serve!!

Learn healthy, plant-based eating in 6 weeks from me.

Healthy 4-Ingredient Sweet Cinnamon Mugcake (v, gf)

A healthy, 4 -ingredient sweet cinnamon mugcake to wind down the day. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, sugar free and only takes 1 minute to cook! It’s a quick, healthy treat that takes little prep or effort.

sweet cinnamon mugcake

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, huh?! Yeah. About that. I’d like to say it’s been an unconscious, slip-of-the-mind result, but the hiatus has been more or less intentional. If you follow my Youtube, you may have seen hints and sprinkles of why I’ve been less active on social media.

To sum it up briefly, I don’t love it anymore. Do I still love cooking and food and everything delicious? Heck yeah! But social media has worn me down…so much. In particular, Instagram has gotten to me. It’s so difficult to have something be a task/effort/checkmark in your day, every day, for over 5 years. Something that started as a fun “personal journal” turned into a game of numbers, comparison, and a lot of…placing expectations on myself that I THINK people have of me.

I’ve gotten to a place of not feeling like I can be myself. I have to delicately word things. I can’t offend anyone. I have to post what people want to see or expect to see. I have to post something unique every day that the internet hasn’t seen… And it’s just impossible. I know half (probably more than half…) of these expectations are totally self-imposed and nobody has outright said it. But that’s how I feel and it’s justified. I know so many people relate. So why would I want to keep doing something that I don’t enjoy?

For the longest time I wasn’t sure what kept me on social media. So I just kept doing it without question. But after a long….emotional…talk with Nick, I finally realized why. I didn’t want to disappoint people. I didn’t want to be seen as a failure. I didn’t want to let down companies. I have a huge fear of missing out if there are further opportunities in my future that I’d never experience otherwise. But Nick made a good point that… everything I’ve accomplished doesn’t go away. It still remains. I’ve still worked with Vitamin Shoppe and other companies as a recipe developer, I’ve still been featured in Food Network Magazine, I’ve still been featured in Consumer Reports, I’ve still published a cookbook, etc etcetc. It’s still there. So leaving doesn’t change anything. And realizing that….brought this huge sense of peace to me.

I’ve felt so much better this week with the approach of ignoring Instagram, but posting what I feel compelled to and proud of. Just saying whatever I want. It’s so much more relaxed. No expectations. So I think my decision is to lay low/put to the side my Instagram and Youtube for the time being to “re-group” my mind. Assess what makes me happy. And with the blog, I will continue to stay active here. I really do enjoy playing in the kitchen. I love food. You know this hahaha. So I’m thinking weekly or bi-weekly recipes will be posted. I can have my fun, but not be expected to create DAILY. I just can’t be upheld to that standard. This really feels like the end of a 5-year relationship. I have to re-learn myself, find ways to spend my time, find what truly makes me happy. Because the relationship is toxic and I HAVE to let go.

WITH THAT BEING SAID. Hiii. Thanks for always reading. You have no idea how much I appreciate my friendships and relationships I’ve made through social media. I hope you continue reading. I made this quick, 4-ingredient sweet cinnamon mugcake this week because I wanted to try out the new Apple Pie Legendary Foods nut butter on top, and I knew it would pair perfectly!! It sure did.

This recipe is sweet, simple, and healthy! I turn to this when I’m pressed for time or just feeling extra particularly lazy (like after my 33 mile bike ride last weekend! – That reminds me of another update I have for a later post :D). Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Healthy 4-Ingredient Sweet Cinnamon Mugcake

Serves: 1

  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or water)
  • 1 packet stevia (Optional)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Once even, microwave for 60 seconds! That’s it!

Learn healthy, plant-based eating in 6 weeks from me.