Transitions, Veganism

Top 5 Tips to Slowly Transition to Veganism

As I’ve shared more of my story, I’m approached by people who are interested in trying some new recipes and experimenting with a more plant-based diet. When I share recommendations based on my own research and experiences, the same thing always comes up: There’s no way I can be fully vegan.

Truth is, you can, but you don’t have to eat a 100% plant based diet. It’s okay to make slow changes towards eating more whole, plant foods. I personally believe that when you take the pressure off by removing the vegan label, it’s actually easier to eat more like a vegan. When you intentionally make plant-based choices and you take your time, you’re more likely to create maintainable habits.

There are some instances where an immediate transition to a plant-based diet is necessary. Your doctor may have recommended a dramatic change of your diet to help improve your health. Or maybe you’ve witnessed the realities of factory farming and slaughtering and are unable to eat animal products again.

But honestly, the rate at which you transition to a whole food plant based diet really depends on what you want and what you’re willing to do to change your habits.

That being said, if you choose to transition slowly, here are my top 5 recommendations:

  1. Focus on the things that you are adding to your diet, not the things you’re giving up. Try new foods. You may be surprised at how your tastebuds now enjoy foods you once thought you didn’t like.
  2. Try one new plant-based recipe per week. A quick Google search of your favorite recipe plus the word vegan will likely yield thousands of results. For example, search ‘vegan shepherd’s pie’ and you’ll find dozens of tasty recipes like this one and this one.
  3. Explore your local produce stand. I recently discovered that I love going to the little produce market next to my gym. They have the most beautiful produce, some of which isn’t carried in my grocery store. The prices are often much cheaper and there are likely to be more local choices. They also sell pantry staples, like oatmeal, flour, quinoa, beans, etc. It’s a great little one stop shop.
  4. Read and watch documentaries about veganism. The more you know, the easier the choice to eat more plant food becomes. If you’re transitioning because of health, read books like How Not to Die or The China Study. If you’re interested in the environmental side, try watching Cowspiracy. If you’re interested in the ethical side, watch Earthlings. There’s also a ridiculous amount of resources available on YouTube. Again, a quick search will yield more results than you can imagine.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re craving a burger, eat the damn burger and jump back on the plant-train tomorrow (and tomorrow you can look up my black bean and sweet potato burger recipe for the next time you’re craving that burger). Making this change requires a huge shift in your thinking about food and it’s okay to not be 100% on point. Make the changes at a rate that’s sustainable for your life. Slowly crowd out the animal products with plant food and eventually you’ll get there.

Bonus tip:

  • Include satiating foods in your diet. Don’t think that you’ll be able to survive on just salads and apples. While eating your dark green leafy veggies and fruits are important if that’s all you eat, you will feel hungry! Try whole grains like, oats, whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc. Legumes are another important addition to your diet. Some of my favorites include black beans, lentils, and cannellini beans. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are also extremely satiating.

So that’s it. My top 5 (plus a bonus) tips for slowly adopting more of a plant based diet. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments for others to read. 💚


Baked Oatmeal Varieties

A few weeks back I posted this recipe for Baked Berry Oatmeal. I am mildly obsessed with this baked oatmeal and have made it every Sunday for the last four weeks. No joke. It’s that good. This oatmeal is the perfect make-ahead breakfast. I bake one batch on Sunday and that’s enough to get me through the week. It tastes great, is filling, and each serving earns 4 checks on Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen. Winning!

While the original recipe is certainly delicious, I was starting to get bored with it. I love oatmeal and berries, but struggle to eat the exact same meal every day for weeks on end. So this weekend, I got creative with some of my favorite flavor combinations to jazz up the Baked Oatmeal recipe. These three variations won’t leave you bored or disappointed.

Starting from left to right, we have Blueberry Lemon, Banana Bread, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.

The beauty in this recipe is it’s versatility. We now have four different versions of baked oatmeal with only minor changes to the ingredients. That being said, if you prefer more of a lemony taste when making the Baked Lemon and Blueberry Oatmeal, then by all means, add more lemon juice! You can even taste the batter before baking since there are no eggs in this recipe.

If you make any of these varieties, please take a photo and tag me on Instagram @confessionsofaveganmeathead .

Baked Blueberry Lemon Oatmeal

A tangy twist on my healthy baked berry oatmeal.

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup plant milk
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup or 1-2 T sugar for sweetness


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish or into lightly greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes (8×8 baking dish) or 25-30 minutes (muffin tins).
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup plant milk
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 very ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 ounce chopped walnuts
  • Because the bananas are so sweet, this version of baked oatmeal truly doesn’t need any additional sweetener.


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish or into lightly greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes (8×8 baking dish) or 25-30 minutes (muffin tins).
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.

Baked Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

The most decadent of baked oatmeal recipes.

Author: Brianna Wright


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 cup plant milk
  • 3 T PB Fit or other powdered peanut butter
  • 1-2 T Enjoy Life Brand Chocolate Chips
  • Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup or 1-2 T sugar for sweetness


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish or into lightly greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes (8×8 baking dish) or 25-30 minutes (muffin tins).
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.
Fitness, Transitions


Confidence is a fleeting feeling. Sometimes you get on a roll and confidence is limitless. Other times, confidence wavers.

In the last few years, my confidence has been pretty consistent. How did I build that? How do I regularly feel confident?

It’s because I keep the promises I make to myself.

If it sounds simple, it’s because it is simple.

Recently I was reading through all of the notes stored on my iPhone and found the goals I had written for 2017. The two big goals I made were to compete in 2 NPC shows and to buy a home on a nice lot and an open kitchen. I even had strategies for reaching those goal written down, which I did.

I accomplished both of those things in 2017. I busted my ass to keep those promises I made to myself.

It scared me to death to get back on that stage twice last year, but it was a goal I knew I wanted to accomplish, so I put in the work day in and day out and I did compete twice. Shoot, I even won an overall title.

It scared me to death to sign those mortgage documents, but it was a goal I knew was right for my husband and me. So we saved like crazy, moved in with my parents for a few months, and made our dream a reality.

The confidence I’ve built is a result of the promises I’ve made to myself and I’ve kept regardless of any excuses I could come up with.

Does the confidence sometimes still waver? Of course it does. But I know the choices I need to make to feel that limitless confidence and am self-aware enough to know when I haven’t been making them.

Do you want that kind of confidence? Make some promises to yourself and do the little and big things it takes every day to keep those promises.

Recipes, Veganism

Meal Preparation- Setting Yourself up for success

It’s no secret that I love to cook. There’s just something about taking ingredients and combining them in ways that make delicious meals that soothes my soul. It’s therapeutic for me and it’s also the way I show those that I cook for that I care.

What can I say? I’m Italian. Feeding people is in my blood.

As much as I love to cook every day, I do prepare meals ahead of time for convenience. I typically just prepare meals and snacks for the next day while I’m cooking dinner. I put all of my little Pyrex containers on a shelf in the fridge and then pack my lunchbox just before I go to the gym in the morning.

This week I tried something a little different though and I think I kind of love it. This week, I made a baked oatmeal on Sunday (while the pasta was cooking) and split the finished product into 6 bars for breakfast for the week.

Having those meals already prepped made packing my lunch each night that much easier. If you struggle with packing meals to take to work or school, give this recipe a try. It only takes a few minutes to throw all of the ingredients together. While it bakes for 40 minutes, you can prep other meals or catch up on laundry, etc.

This recipe is really tasty and convenient. It’s also packed full of nutrition. This recipe is also versatile. So, I’ll share the basic recipe that I used and as I try other variations, I’ll add the recipes for those to the site.

If you try this or any other of my recipes, please take a photo and tag me on Instagram @confessionsofaveganmeathead . I would love to see your creation!

Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A basic recipe for baked oatmeal that can be added to or changed to fit your taste.

Credit: @engine2diet


2 cups old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 t vanilla extract

1 T cinnamon

1 1/2 T ground flaxseed

3/4 cup plant milk* or water

1-1/2 cups frozen berries

Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup for sweetness


  1. Preheat oven to 400*.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 6 bars.
  6. Serve room temperature or microwave for 15 seconds to enjoy warm.
  7. Store in the refrigerator.
  8. *In the photos, I show the Bolthouse Farms plant protein milk. I’ve also tested this recipe with plain, unsweetened cashew milk and there’s really not much of a difference. Use what you have or prefer to use.

Nutritional information

Per 1/6 of baked oatmeal recipe above:

Calories: 172

Fat: 3.2 grams

Carbs: 31.8 grams

Protein: 5.3 grams

*using Bolthouse Farms plant protein milk

Fitness, Recipes, Transitions, Veganism

Cold weather meals ~ Vegan Jambalaya

I live in Florida. I love living in Florida. Especially when it’s literally freezing everywhere else and it’s in the 70s here. I do not love cold weather. I do not love the layers and the constant battle against the frozen nose and toes. I do however, enjoy stews, chili, and jambalaya which this ridiculously cold Florida weather (lows in the 30s) is perfect for.

Because of our recent cold-snap, I’ve decided to share my veganized twist on jambalaya. I initially made this recipe based on this one that is from The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook and was shared on . This meal has become a staple in our house for rainy or chilly days. Enjoy!

The key to any great jambalaya is the base ~The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking~ equal parts of onion, bell peppers, and celery. Roughly chop these three veggies and steam sauté in your favorite veggie broth. This time, I also had some bell peppers from my parents’ garden, so I was able to use those tasty little peppers. If you’re a garlic lover, you can add a clove or two of minced garlic 3-5 minutes into sautéing.

Once the onions become translucent, you can add in a large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste, liquid smoke, frozen okra, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Allow those to simmer over low heat, while stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes, but an hour or more is best. Really let those flavors come together.

While the jambalaya is simmering, cook up a pot of rice. I usually serve jambalaya with regular old brown rice, but lately I’ve been loving the Royal Blend from Rice Select. It’s got white, brown, wild, and red rice in it. Again, this part is totally up to you!

After the jambalaya has simmered long enough, add in whatever meaty substitute you desire. For the healthiest version, add in cubed tempeh – as much or as little as you like. Some people recommend pre-cooking the tempeh to get rid of the bitter taste, but I’ve never done that and have had no problems. I’ve also used the Field Roast sausage links in this recipe before. While it’s not the healthiest option, it certainly is tasty. You can also add beans at this point if you like. Although, when you add beans, does that technically make this a chili or a gumbo?

Once you’ve added in your meaty alternative, allow the jambalaya to continue simmering until everything is heated through.

Serve up your veganized jambalaya with the cooked rice on the side or you can choose to mix the rice you’ve already cooked right into the jambalaya.

I wasn’t totally sure what the difference between jambalaya, gumbo, and chili is so, I got on the ole Google machine to find out. I was curious, so I know someone reading this is probably curious too!

Jambalaya is more of a rice based dish typically with andouille sausage and shrimp or other shellfish. Gumbo is a roux-thickened stew with poultry, sausage, and/or shellfish that is typically served over rice. Chili is made from tomatoes, meat, and a source of heat (ie. chili powder). Funny, no beans mentioned in the jambalaya or gumbo, but the jury is still out regarding beans in chili. So it’s tough to say that this recipe is truly a jambalaya or a gumbo or a chili. All I know is that it is delicious and warms me right up on a chilly Florida night.

Vegan Jambalaya

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A hearty veganized version of jambalaya sure to warm you up on a chili night.


  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 T. tomato paste
  • 1 t. Liquid smoke
  • 1/2 c. Frozen okra (optional)
  • 1 T. Dried parsley
  • 1 t. Dried Thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Your choice of rice, cooked according to package directions.
  • Your choice of meat substitutes such as, tempeh, Field Roast Vegan Sausage Links, etc.


  1. Roughly chop the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Mince the garlic and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot, bring vegetable broth to a simmer and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Steam sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  3. When onion is translucent, add in minced garlic and sauté form2-4 minutes longer.
  4. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, liquid smoke, okra (if using), parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. While jambalaya is simmer, prepare rice in a separate pot or a rice cooker.
  6. Just before serving, add in meat substitute and allow to simmer long enough to heat through.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with prepared rice.

Fitness, Transitions, Veganism

Why does going vegan seem so hard?

I was recently approached by a gym friend about the fact that I’m vegan. He had no idea that I was until he saw my Instagram page (which makes sense since we usually just have the cordial, ‘Hey! How’s it going?’ chat). As we were talking, he kept mentioning how hard it must be to be vegan and I kept reassuring him that it eventually became my new normal and it’s really not that difficult. But the conversation got me thinking, why does it seem so hard to be vegan?

Like most changes we make, it may seem daunting when you first consider going vegan. If you’re like me, then you grew up eating meat, dairy, and eggs. What the hell are you going to eat if you aren’t going to eat those things? It took me an entire year of being flexible with my diet and indulging in meat and dairy (mostly dairy) before I felt confident enough to eliminate animal products completely. The key for me was actually not placing that ‘vegan’ label on myself until I felt completely ready. And even still, I don’t feel guilty about a tiny bit of dairy creeping into my meal if Kyle and I choose to eat dinner anywhere but at home.

Another thing that helped to make the change easier was having a purpose beyond just losing weight. Yes, the weight loss was an amazing bonus, but I was truly focused on regaining my health. I mean, at 24 years old my doctor was talking to me about having high blood pressure. She even reassured me that it was to be expected since I have a family history of high blood pressure. That’s not normal for any healthy 24 year old. My blood pressure is now 108/73 in case you’re wondering. But I digress. If you’re truly interested in eating a plant based diet, you need to have a purpose that is meaningful to you for making such a dramatic shift.

For me it was my health. I witnessed my Papa suffer for the last few years of his life with poor health. I also saw how that impacted our entire family and how it still does to this day, 10 years after his passing. I just do not want to ever have to endure the doctors visits, treatments, and surgeries that he went through.

The three most common reasons people begin a plant based journey are: health, environment and ethics. There are numerous documentaries widely available that address all three of these reasons for switching to a plant based diet. Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Earthlings are just a few I would recommend.

So back to my original question, why does it seem so difficult to go vegan? I honestly think that it’s the fact that you are going to do something so different from what you grew up doing and likely so different from what your friends and family are currently doing that it feels impossible. But I promise, it’s not.

Have the courage to be different, give yourself some room for trial and error, and be open minded about how eating a plant based diet can improve the quality of your life. 🌱

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!


Beer Macaroni and Cheese

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

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


  • 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


  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.

ou haven’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 : .

Fitness, Transitions

How fitness has changed my life… for the better

We all know that exercise is a good thing for us. But how can getting up for that walk our doctors recommend really, truly, and practically impact our lives?

Before I get started, I want you to realize that I’m speaking here from first hand experience. In my short life, I’ve gained and lost over 50 pounds. 

No really. Over 50 pounds. 

Getting into a fitness routine is hard.  When you haven’t been active in a while, the thought of getting up and exerting yourself physically is not appealing. You might feel embarrassed to get out and go for that walk or dare I say it, step foot into the gym. 

Seriously though, don’t be embarrassed. When I see someone in the gym who isn’t in great shape, but they are there and working, all I can think is, ‘Hell yeah! You got this!’

So back to how fitness has changed my life. Below are the top 5 ways my life has changed for the better because of fitness. (Being a very concrete-sequential thinker, I figured the easiest way to outline the changes would be a brief, bulleted list. You’re welcome.)

  1. Strength – I know physically I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I will continue to develop that. Mentally, I know that I can push myself in all areas of life. When you can go into the gym and push yourself to do a few more reps when your arms feel like falling off, you know that you can literally do anything in any area of your life. 
  2. Confidence – this goes along with strength, but I really do feel more confident than I ever have. Knowing I have this physical and mental  strength makes me confident in my abilities in all other areas of life. 
  3. Energy – I have so much energy! I wake up feeling like a I can conquer the world (most days). 
  4. Sleep – along with having a lot of energy, my sleep has improved immensely. I sleep soundly through the night and on the rare occasion I do wake up in the middle of the night, I’m able to get back to sleep. 
  5. Relationships – I take care of myself first which allows me to care for the people in my life. 

I could go on and on about how exercise has changed my life for the better, but I feel like these areas have been the most profoundly impacted by my exercise routine. 

So go tie up those laces. Go for that walk. Use that gym membership you’ve been paying for. Get some of these benefits in your own life.