When Food Takes Some Time, But it’s Healthy and Delicious So It’s Worth It

It’s a little like the 1800s in my kitchen these days. If the 1800s had steam ovens and mixers and blenders and food processors. So, mostly similar.

Last year, we stopped eating animal products to help reduce our carbon footprint (a global transition to a low meat diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%). Once we did that, we figured we should research the most healthful way to eat and ended up moving to a whole food, plant-based diet. As much as possible, we’re not eating processed food (which includes refined white flours, oil, sugar, and vegan hot dogs).

One day, I’ll write more (maybe even fill an entire separate site) about how we got here and how we’re doing it, but to answer the most common question we get: “What do you eat??!!”, the answer is that we’ve been amazed, actually, at the much wider variety of foods that we’re eating than ever before and how delicious it is. I don’t think we’ve ever enjoyed eating more.

However.

It all takes a lot of time.

For sure there are ways to be efficient about it and tricks for eating out and bringing your lunch to work but until I have that hypothetical future site, here’s just a short list of things we make. It’s actually pretty zen. I mostly just put on a Michael Ian Black podcast and channel my inner 1800s. Although if you hear of a kickstarter for a robot like a Roomba but for cleaning your kitchen, let me know. This kind of cooking requires a lot of dishes.

One key for us is to have everything be organized and accessible. We use so many different kinds of flours and nuts and powders (flax, goji berries, hemp seeds, and the like) that hunting around all the time would not be zen at all.

Sauces and Condiments

I really like sauce. And since vegan mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, ranch dressing and the like are pretty processed (and mostly just oil in many cases), we just make our own (mostly from cashews and lemon juice, really) and they are DELICIOUS. For cashew or other nut-based sauces and milks, the instructions often specify the nuts should be soaked overnight. But you can also let them soak for about an hour in hot water.

We keep big jars of nuts right on the counter:

I find that the blender (we have a Vitamix) works better than the food processor for sauces as the final result is smoother.

Here’s a few of our go to sauces:

  • Sour cream – takes 5 minutes (combine nuts, lemon juice, and a few other things in the blender; nutritional yeast optional, but it takes great and adds lots of nutrients).
  • Cream cheese – this is a great butter replacement when making mashed potatoes! And is a great base for frosting, as you’ll see when I start talking about desserts. With the recipe I’ve linked to, I use a lot more lemon juice. You can also do one with yogurt (I use Nancy’s unsweetened soy yogurt, as it’s basically unprocessed and has no sugar).
  • The ranch dressing from this pizza recipe (see more on the pizza bel0w). When we make the pizza, we make lots of extra sauce.
  • Ricotta – this is from the lasagna recipe in the cookbook Vegan for Everybody (which is great). You basically just boil cauliflower and cashews until the cauliflower is tender and then blend it in a food processor with a little salt, pepper, and basil (we omit the oil).

You can find a ton more sauces, gravy, “cheese” sauces, and the like on my Pinterest ingredients board.

Breads

There’s all kinds of bread you can make. Most breads you can buy have sugar and oil and dairy or aren’t really whole grain and it can take as much time to read the labels as to just make your own damn bread.

Here are just a few. Some of these call for all-purpose flour, but I generally do a mix of whole wheat flour and some other kind of flour (like chickpea, quinoa, or brown rice) and then add a little gluten. We also sub the oil with apple sauce and generally omit the sugar entirely (or use a little date sugar).

  • pita bread
  • rolls
  • tortillas – super fast and delicious!
  • french bread – we always make a double batch and sometimes make these into hamburger buns
  • pizza dough – super quick and delicious; I quadrupled the last batch and froze some.

Desserts

Look, I made these donuts the other day (although I didn’t have a donut pan so I just made cookie-style lumps covered in frosting; also I made them with cacao powder). I thought they were delicious. Maybe anything tastes good since I haven’t had a “real” donut in so long, I don’t know. But I was basically eating sweet potatoes, dates, and apples and seriously, I might make these again today and just have them for lunch.

Speaking of sweet potato frosting, here’s a chocolate cake recipe that is mostly beets, dates, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, and raspberries. (I swapped the maple syrup for whole dates, used cashew cream — see above — for the coconut cream, and skipped the psyllium.)

Regular Food

Here’s what we’ve been making lately:

Here’s dinner we had the other day with sloppy joe’s, mashed potatoes, and an avocado spinach salad:

I’ve got tons more on my Recipes Pinterest board.

Bonus tip: we eat avocados with basically everything. If you’re from California or someplace else where you might have known someone with an avocado tree in their yard, then you know how much better fresh avocados are from store bought ones. We order avocados every week from a farm in California. The two we use are Morro Creek Ranch and Fairview Orchards. (Fairview Orchards also has lemons and other citrus). You can often get dates from Local Harvest.

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One Comment

  1. Natala Menezes June 29, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    This is an amazing resource Vanessa!!! Thank you for posting. I love that you get avo’s delivered to your home weekly. Will have to find a time to cook together sometime soon. I’m going to try swapping in cashew’s instead of cheese in my zucchini enchilada’s next time 🙂
    xoxo

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