Recipes, Veganism

Beer Macaroni and Cheese

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Okay 2 months. But we’ve been busy! Kyle and I are all moved into our very first home! It’s coming along so nicely.

While I’ve been on hiatus, I stumbled upon a fantastic macaroni and cheese recipe on Pinterest (see the link in the recipe below). I️ loved that it included cashews AND potatoes and carrots. Cashews are a fabulous base for creamy sauces and potatoes and carrots make for the best cheesy sauces. I️ knew when I️ saw all three ingredients that I️ would enjoy this dish.

So,I️ tried it out and wow was I impressed (along with everyone who tried it; dairy-lovers included).

I’ve put my own little spin on that recipe which I think has taken vegan Macaroni and cheese to a whole new level.

Please tag me on instagram if you try this recipe! I’d love to see your version!

@confessionsofaveganmeathead

Beer Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A creamy, cheesy, Macaroni and cheese recipe that also happens to be vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) raw, unsalted cashews soaked and drained
  • 1 cup (150 grams) red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 16oz. Box of pasta (elbows or cavatappi work beautifully in this dish)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t ground mustard powder
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 T tapioca starch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 (6 oz.) of a lager (such as Yuengling)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T vegan butter
  • Optional: breadcrumbs and spray oil

Directions

  1. Soak cashews for 4 hours or more in water.*
  2. Peel and chop the potato and carrot. Add to boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.* Drain.
  3. While the carrots and potatoes are boiling, add cashews, broth, cashew milk, seasonings, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, and lemon juice to a blender.
  4. Boil water to cook pasta of choice according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse pasta.
  5. Add cooked potatoes and carrots to the blender. Blend all ingredients extremely well.
  6. Sauté onion in vegan butter for 3-4 minutes over medium heat in a large pan. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add cheese sauce from blender and beer to the large pan with onions and garlic and whisk constantly over low heat until sauce becomes thick and creamy. It takes a few minutes, but it will thicken.
  8. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and mix well.
  9. Optional: put Macaroni and cheese in a baking dish and coat with breadcrumbs. Spray lightly with spray oil and broil on high for 2-4 minutes, until golden brown.


*
en’t soaked the cashews, you can boil them for 10-15 minutes but that won’t produce as smooth and creamy of a sauce as cashews that have been soaked for 4 or more hours.

*It is critical to not overcook the potatoes. If you do, the sauce will have a more gritty texture. I’ve found adding the chopped potato and carrot to boiling water for 10 minutes to work best.

*This recipe is based on the recipe from VeganHuggs : https://veganhuggs.com/vegan-mac-n-cheese/ .

Recipes, Transitions, Veganism

Small changes

This week I decided it’s time to make a few more small changes. Since my show, I’ve been steadily gaining weight which is a good thing. The leanness achieved for the stage is not maintainable. As much as I love the cuts and being able to see the vascularity, I don’t feel healthy and nourished being that lean. 

I’ve gotten to a point in my ‘reverse diet’ where I know I’m at a healthy, maintainable weight. I feel physically strong, especially during my training. Now knowing that, I’m making small changes to be able to keep this weight. 

While thinking about my own small changes, I’ve been talking with family and friends about them making small changes. I’ve kind of had to take a step back. I’m promoting this plant based lifestyle because I know the benefits but I’ve been a bit impatient, especially with my own family.  I’ve forgotten how long it took Kyle and I to get to the point we are at with our diets. I realize that making this change for most people is not quick or simple. 

Making small, consistent changes will leave a lasting impact. 

I want to encourage anyone who is open to it to make small changes toward a plant based diet. But where to start?? Below are my top tips for making small changes toward transitioning to a plant based diet. 

  1. Try one new, completely plant-based recipe each week. As you try new recipes, you’ll find meals that you love (and don’t love) that will push out some of the meat based meals. 
  2. Try replacing milk or coffee creamer with plant based options. I love unsweetened cashew milk and So Delicious French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. 
  3. Stop looking at the nutritional label and start looking at the ingredient list. If  you are going to buy a packaged product, make sure you know what the ingredients actually are. If there is anything you can’t pronounce, you probably shouldn’t eat it. 
  4. Meal prep. Take one day each week to plan what meals you’ll be cooking and prepare anything you can ahead of time on that day. I typically do this on Sunday. I plan out a menu for the week, write a list, grocery shop, wash all of my produce, and prep anything I can to make week night cooking easier. 
  5. Try to use less oil. If you are sautéing vegetables, try sautéing them in water or vegetable broth. It’s not quite the same as using oil, but it gets the job done and you won’t be adding hundreds of extra calories from fat to your diet. 
  6. Try snacking on raw fruits and veggies. If you’ve become accustomed to eating more processed snacks like chips and Little Debbie snacks, it will take some time for your taste buds to adjust. Raw veggies will taste bland because they’re not doused in oil and salt and fruit won’t taste sweet since it’s got natural sugar instead of refined sugar. I promise though, your taste buds will adjust and you’ll come to love unprocessed snacks and you won’t be able to tolerate the chips and Little Debbie’s. 
  7. Drink water, tea, and coffee. But, mostly water. Add a lemon or other fruit to your water if you’re not into the plain taste of water. 

These are just a few of many tips. Like any new habit, transitioning to a plant based diet won’t be easy at first and it will take time. But, making small, consistent changes will leave a lasting impact. 

Recipes, Veganism

Fun Food Friday in First Grade

I teach first grade in a Title 1 school. I absolutely love my job. Teaching littles to read, write and become mathematicians is incredible. 

Our class has a ‘late’ lunch (by first grade standards) at 11:00 and many of my littles like to have a snack in the morning. During the first few weeks of school, I have tried to stress the importance of eating healthy snacks to my kiddos and their families. So when kids were bringing in cookies and baked Doritos, saying they were healthy, I knew it was my responsibility to do SOMETHING. 

Another teacher had shared with me a photo of  NFL defensive lineman, David Carter in a Baltimore school teaching kids about vegan foods (post linked below). I realized that was it! I could bring in truly healthy snacks for my students to try. And so, Fun Food Fridays was born! 

For the kickoff, I thought we’d try medjool dates with peanut butter. The natural kind with only roasted peanuts. Date bombs are one of my favorite snacks and with how sweet dates are I though they’d be a hit with the kids. 

As it turns out half of them LOVED the date bombs and came back for second helpings. The other half took teeny tiny bites and declared they would never eat them again. Oh well! At least they tried, right?!

The best part was taking photos of the kids reactions (sorry, won’t be posting any here) and sending them to their parents, many of whom were surprised their child would even try the dates. 

For the next Fun Food Friday, I think we’ll try purple and white carrots. Maybe some hummus, too. 

If you have any ideas for whole food, plant based, kid friendly snacks, please let me know!! There are a lot of Fridays left in this school year. 😉

Recipes

Tempeh Bacon

I love tempeh. It is so versatile and takes the flavor of the marinade or seasoning it is cooked in. It's got a great texture. And it's fermented! It sounds strange, fermented soy beans, but eating fermented foods is great for you digestive system. Digestive health is key to good overall health.

I was inspired a few weeks ago to make a vegan BLT when I watched one of my favorite Youtubers make a tempeh BLT in her 'What I Eat in a Day' video (linked here: Sarah's Vegan Kitchen). I began furiously searching the web for a tempeh bacon recipe and was surprised to find so many! I tried this recipe from Simple Vegan Blog first and with the help of my fabulous, taste-testing mom, have tweaked the recipe to suit our taste buds.

The key to his recipe is pure maple syrup. We just happened to have this syrup that came directly from Canada which is amazing. I also tested the recipe with the Publix brand pure maple syrup and it turns out delicious as well.

The other marinade ingredients were less sodium soy sauce (I honestly just prefer the flavor of this to the regular sodium), liquid smoke, and Chipotle Tabasco sauce. The Chipotle Tabasco doesn't add too much heat, but really adds to the smokiness of the tempeh bacon.

To make the marinade, just combine 1/4 cup of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon on pure maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, and 1 teaspoon of Chipotle Tabasco. Mix this well and add the thinly sliced tempeh. Let the tempeh marinate for at least 15 minutes, but longer is always better.

Once the tempeh has marinated for at least 15 minutes, lay it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.

After the tempeh has baked for 12 minutes, turn the broiler on high for 2 minutes. Do it. I promise, it's worth it (notice the three missing pieces). And that's it. You've got vegan bacon. Perfect for a tempeh BLT or served alongside some banana pancakes.

"Tempeh

  • Servings: "2-4"
  • Difficulty: "easy"
  • Print

Ingredients


8 oz. Tempeh, sliced thinly
1/4 cup Less sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix the soy sauce, pure maple syrup, liquid smoke, and Chipotle Tabasco in a small container with a lid
  3. Thinly slice tempeh and add to marinade. Cover and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Place slices of tempeh on a parchment-lined baking sheet
  5. Bake for 12 minutes
  6. Turn broiler on high and broil for 2 minutes

Serve in a BLT or alongside a stack of banana pancakes.