Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Wrap [Vegan BLT]

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This tempeh "bacon" veggie wrap has been one of my favorite quick lunch recipes all week. Ever since getting the hang of preparing tempeh, I've been all about adding it to wraps, sandwiches, salads, and stir-frys. 

They trick with cooking tempeh is either steaming it or water-frying for about 8-10 minutes before marinating it. This removes any bitter fermented flavors from the tempeh and allows it to easily take on the flavors of the marinade. 

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There are so many different ways to marinate and prepare tempeh, but for tempeh in a wrap I like to stick with a simple marinade consisting of coconut aminos (or tamari) maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I also use just a bit of liquid smoke for a different flavor, but it's not entirely necessary and can be omitted. 

The longer you allow the tempeh to marinate (up to 24 hours), the better the flavor will be, but I'm one of those people who never remembers to plan ahead and I usually decide to cook something on a whim, which means often I manage to only marinate the tempeh for anywhere between 15-30 minutes, and it still takes on plenty of flavor in that amount of time.

Once the tempeh has marinated, you can either bake it in the oven or fry it in a pan on the stovetop for a few minutes on each side. I usually go with the baking option so I can cook all of the pieces at the same time. 

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The firm and crispy texture of the tempeh makes it fantastic as a bacon substitute in this BLT style wrap. The marinade is just the right balance of salty, tangy and sweet and makes the tempeh taste savory and delicious. 

I used a spring mix lettuce blend, fresh tomatoes, green onions, avocado with lime juice, and I added shredded carrots for some extra crunch, though finely chopped purple cabbage would well work in place of the carrots too. 

I find that when making a wrap it's important to use a spread of some sort because it helps to hold the wrap together when you're rolling it all up. There are a few different options for the spread to use in this wrap.

This week I've been going back and forth between using this homemade green olive hummus and this homemade pumpkin seed pesto sauce. They are both easy to whip up in the blender in about 5 minutes, but for more classic BLT and less preparation, use a vegan mayo spread.

Let me know if you try this out, I'd love to hear what you think of the recipe!


5-Ingredient Matcha Coconut Crispy Bars [Refined Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan]

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These crispy matcha coconut bars are a simple and easy dessert that practically melts in your mouth. 

They only require FIVE ingredients, and the best part- you don't even have to cook anything! The only part of the recipe that comes close to cooking is softening the coconut butter, which can be done on the stovetop but it will also soften up in just 20-30 seconds in the microwave. 

Next you simply mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and then press the mixture into a dish. Let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour, then slice and serve. It doesn't get any easier than this!

Here are the 5 ingredients you'll need:

  • coconut butter
  • maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • matcha powder (optional)
  • brown crisped rice cereal, preferably sugar free

While I wouldn't consider coconut butter to be a health food and it's definitely more of a special occasion sort of treat, I still consider it to be a healthier alternative to coconut oil. 

One tablespoon of coconut butter provides 2 grams of fiber as well as small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and iron. Meanwhile, coconut oil has had everything good removed including all of the fiber and micronutrients so you're left with 100% pure saturated fat.

While coconut butter contains quite a lot of saturated fat, it's much closer to being in its whole food form and still provides some nutrients, so I feel comfortable using it on rare occasions. Once you taste these bars you'll understand why. 

I have a video coming for this recipe very soon so look out for that, but until then enjoy the recipe written down below!

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Flax Crackers & Green Olive Hummus [Oil-Free, Vegan]

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Sometimes you just need a good salty, crunchy snack, but store bought crackers often contain questionable ingredients and preservatives. For the longest time, I put off making my own healthy crackers because I thought it would be impossible to make crackers without oil and flour, two ingredients which I avoid using often in my home cooking.

One day, I finally stopped doubting myself and experimented with making a flax and almond based cracker and to my surprise it turned out crunchy and delicious.

I haven't had to buy crackers from the store ever since!

My favorite way to enjoy these crackers lately is to dip them in hummus and lately my favorite hummus flavor has been roasted garlic and green olive.

The hummus is super simple to make and it blends up very easily. I get kind of frustrated when I make a hummus recipe which requires a lot of scraping down the sides of the blender and is so thick that the blades get stuck.

The trick for a good fluffy hummus, is to save some of the brine from the can of chickpeas and use that in the mixture to achieve a whipped texture. This also makes the blending process much easier and faster. 

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This recipe makes roughly 16 oz. of hummus which fits perfectly in a mason jar! The hummus will last for up to a week when stored in a sealed container in the fridge.


Life in the Airstream Update & Lots of Cute Wild Animals Are Visiting!

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For the past year, I've been living fulltime in a 30 ft. Airstream travel trailer in Washington with my partner, Anthony, and our dwarf rabbit, Violet. When we made the decision to leave our apartment in New York City and move across the country to Washington, we decided that the best way for all of us to get there would be in an RV and that we would continue to live in the RV while we look for land and eventually build a house. 

Over the summer, we found and purchased 7 acres of beautiful forested land and are now currently in the final stages of designing the house and getting ready to start the long process of applying for building permits. Since it's been quite cold here these past few months, we haven't been spending as much time out at the property, so we've mostly been inside the trailer working on making some of the big decisions that come along with building a house. 

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After a full year of living in our trailer, we are so happy with the decision we made. While the space is pretty small, the amount of windows and skylights makes it feel much more open. There's definitely not enough room in here to have everything we want, but it's been a good lesson in living more minimally and being careful to not accumulate stuff that we don't absolutely need. 

That being said, there have been certain non-essential items that we have been accumulating recently which have brought us a lot of joy and entertainment- mainly our bird feeders, of which we now have four or maybe even five... I've lost count. 

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Most of them are the kind that suction right to the window so we can creep on the birds as they feast on their seeds. We have one on the kitchen window so I can watch the birds as I do the dishes and cook, but we also have a lot of them around our bedroom as well and it's the best thing to wake up to see beautiful birds at the window every morning.

It's been so much fun to see the variety of birds that come by and to try to identify them. After a few months of feeding them, they've started growing their families and because of this we've also been getting more visits from big predatory birds like owls and eagles, but we don't have any pictures of those big guys unfortunately. 

Over the past few weeks we've been taking lots of pictures and videos, and we've especially been enjoying the short animated gifs that are made automatically on our phones, so i thought I'd share a few here!

This pretty bird is called a Northern Flicker:

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He's a type of woodpecker and one of the loudest visitors to our feeder because he likes to use his long beak to peck at the seeds and send them flying everywhere. 

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Another bird who's been visiting lately is the vibrant blue Stellar's Jay. They usually come in pairs or small groups and have such a pretty bird song.

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All too often though, our most common visitors have been the squirrels. No matter where we set up the feeder, they find their way in and eat nearly all of the seeds before the birds can get any. I only have slightly more patience with them than Anthony does because they're still so cute. 

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Then we have the deer, who we believe may be the reason our broccoli plants have some big bites taken out of them. The other day they came right up behind our trailer and we watched them graze and play in the meadow.

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Okay, that's probably enough wildlife photos for this update!

One more thing, for now I've deactivated my instagram page @wholesomelyelle. I haven't been enjoying using it since they changed it from chronological order to an algorithm-based feed, and also since I haven't been on Facebook for the past 4 years, it felt strange to still participate in a Facebook-owned platform when that's not what I had signed up for originally. I may still reactivate it in the future, but I just wanted to take a break for a while to focus on other things. 

For now that means you'll be hearing a lot more from me right here on my blog and hopefully more on Youtube as well! I'll continue to post updates on life in the Airstream and more healthy recipes will be coming your way this week so check back in for more soon!

Chickpea "Tuna" Wrap with Oil-Free Pepita Pesto [Vegan]

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These chickpea "tuna" salad wraps with pesto sauce are the perfect meal-prep lunch recipe to keep you feeling healthy and satisfied during the work week. The best part: NO cooking is required to make either the pesto sauce or the chickpea salad! All you need is a blender for the pesto sauce and a mixing bowl and masher for the chickpeas. 

To be completely honest, I don't quite remember what tuna tastes like. I haven't had a tuna sandwich since I was a little kid, so I couldn't tell you if this actually tastes like tuna fish or just a delicious chickpea salad.

I would've just called it a chickpea salad wrap, but with the addition of some finely chopped seaweed in the mix, I feel pretty confident that these smashed chickpeas have a touch of oceanic flavor and a texture that gives off some tuna vibes. 🐟

While it might not be just like tuna, there are many reasons to try chickpeas instead and avoid eating tuna and other sea life-

  1. Mercury and other toxic heavy metals bioaccumulate up the food chain, so large fish that eat smaller fish, like tuna, often contain extremely high levels of these heavy metals as well as industrial pollutants. Even small amounts of mercury can negatively impact our digestive and nervous systems. This risk greatly outweighs any benefits we would receive from the omega 3 fatty acids in fish, so it's much safer to get your EPA/DHA lower down on the food chain, in the form of a micro algae supplement.
  2. Overfishing is destroying the oceans and the way in which tuna are captured is actually really disturbing. They are caught by net which means they have a slow and painful death and are often crushed by the weight of other tuna and sea life as they are dragged to the surface. 
  3. The CDC says that 75% of all food poisoning comes from seafood. I have experienced this for myself when I once ordered vegan avocado sushi rolls from a sushi restaurant that serves fish and got the worst food poisoning of my life due to cross contamination from the fish they were preparing on the same surface. 
  4. Tuna fishing kills more than just tuna. Dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other sea life are also often killed when they're accidentally caught in fishing nets. 
  5. Farmed fish are not any better off. They often live in cramped conditions to increase profits, which puts them at a high risk for disease and parasitic infections. To keep the fish alive, fish farmers often give the fish powerful medications and antibiotics which we then ingest. These aquafarms are not even a more environmentally friendly choice. A 2-acre salmon farm produces as much waste as a town of 10,000 people.
  6. Fish DO feel pain and in many ways, such as their memory and cognitive abilities, they are just as smart as certain vertebrates and even primates. They are playful, social, and some fish even use tools. Why choose to eat them when there are other options?

This pesto sauce made with pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) is my new go-to pesto recipe to spread on everything. It only requires a handful of ingredients and as always I made it completely oil-free. Most of the recipes I have found use up to half a cup of oil, which is really damaging for the health of our arteries.

Even so-called "healthy" oils like extra virgin olive oil cause more damage than if we just didn't eat the oil at all. The natural oils found in the pepitas, which still retain their fiber and micronutrients, are a much healthier way to enjoy a delicious fresh pesto, full of necessary unrefined whole plant fats. 

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This pesto is easy to make quickly in the blender. I find that it blends very easily in my high-speed blender, no scraping down the sides required, but a food processor should do a great job of it as well.

It's so tasty I could eat it by the spoonful!

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The chickpea "tuna" salad is also super simple to make. Just throw all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl, then give it a good mash and stir until it's still a little chunky, but evenly mixed. 

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Make the wrap by starting with a layer of pesto sauce, then add a handful of fresh greens, cabbage, and carrots (I forgot the carrots!), and a nice thick line of the chickpea salad. Fold in the sides of the wrap then roll it up. For extra wrap-security, roll it up again in some parchment paper and tie it with a string.

It's a great recipe to take on the go as a packed lunch for work or school. The leftover chickpea salad and pesto sauce can be stored separately in sealed containers in the fridge for 4-5 days. The leftover pesto sauce is acutally fantastic on pasta as well!

I hope you love this wrap as much as I do! Recipe down below ↓

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Vegan Pizza Soup with Bell Pepper & Mushrooms

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This hearty soup has everything you love about pizza all in one bowl. The only thing missing is the crust, but if you want the full experience just serve this soup up with some fresh bread! 

When I first started making this variations of this recipe I didn't intend to call it pizza soup, but every time I'd make it my partner would tell me it tastes like pizza. I've since come to fully embrace idea of pizza flavors being in a soup and so I've tried to make it a bit more pizza-like each time which resulted in this thoroughly pizza inspired soup creation.

I chose to use classic pizza topping veggies like mushrooms and bell peppers and I also added in barley and white beans to make the soup extra filling and give it a bit more texture and substance. If you're not into barley feel free to leave it out, but it you like an extra thick soup it definitely lends itself to that consistency. 

The fresh herbs give this soup an authentic pizza flavor.  While I used dried oregano for convenience, I opted to use fresh basil and thyme as well which if you can find them fresh they really add such a good flavor. 

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While this soup is still delicious without the parmesan topping, I find that pairs nicely with the tomato sauce and gives it such a realistic pizza flavor. Check out my Vegan Parmesan recipe for a super quick and easy way to make your own at home and enjoy the extras on all sorts of food, it's seriously so good on almost anything savory. 

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This recipe requires a little bit of chopping, but it cooks up on the stovetop in just 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight recipe! It's also oil-free and full of whole grains, healthy plant protein, and fiber to keep you feeling healthy and vibrant.

If you love pizza, give this soup a try and let me know what you think of it! 

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How to Make Vegan Parmesan with Only 2 Ingredients

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This vegan parmesan recipe is one of the most simple recipes ever. It only requires two ingredients: raw cashews and nutritional yeast. 

When I first started experimenting with creating my own vegan parmesan at home, I followed a few slightly more complex recipes with more ingredients, and while the end result was delicious, I found that the parmesan wasn't as versatile as I would like it to be. 

I would cook a meal that was already salted and flavored the way I wanted it, then I'd add in my salty garlic-y homemade parm and it would totally overpower the taste. So I stopped adding salt, onion powder, garlic, etc. and before I knew it everytime I made it I was making it the same exact way with only cashews and nutritional yeast and this recipe has worked for me time and time again. 

While the flavor is subtle and not super salty like actual parmesan, you get a lot more control over how much salt you choose to add so you can get away with using more of this parmesan without things getting too salty or overpowering. 

I have tried using nutritional yeast on it's own as vegan parmesan substitute, and while this will work in a pinch, nutritional yeast has a slightly sweet flavor so it's not quite ideal on it's own. When it's balanced with the raw cashews, it lends a nice cheesy flavor without becoming overly sweet. 

I put this stuff on everything; pizza, pasta, potato patties, sauces, breading, soups, etc. so since I use it all the time I like to always have some in a jar in my fridge where it will stay nice and fresh for several weeks. 


White Bean, Cherry Tomato & Heart of Palm Salad with Refreshing Lemon Basil Dressing

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If you love refreshing and zesty salads and are looking for a healthy alternative to fresh mozzarella, you'll love this salad recipe!

I have been loving heart of palm as a mozzarella replacement in salads lately. The texture and mild flavor is similar to fresh mozzarella and with the right dressing it can taste very similar. For convenience, I like to use canned heart of palm which is readily available and easy to drain, slice, and serve. 

I added in white beans for extra protein and fiber along with fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and sliced green onion.

The dressing is what makes this salad so delicious and zesty. It's super easy to throw together quickly in the blender. First, add to the blender the lemon juice, water, vegan cashew parmesan (or nutritional yeast), garlic, and mustard and blend until combined. Then, add in the basil leaves and pulse a few times until shredded into small pieces. 

It's amazing how flavorful this dressing is with no oil needed! The lemon juice and fresh basil in combination with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and heart of palm makes for a deliciously healthy fresh salad that's actually so filling and satisfying. 


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How I Downsized My Wardrobe Before Moving into an RV- Regrets, Dealing with Non-Vegan Items, & Alternatives to Fast-Fashion

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Almost exactly one year ago, my partner and I moved out of our 200 square ft. studio apartment in NYC and into a 150 square ft. Airstream travel trailer. Losing out on 50 square feet of space may not seem like all that much, and honestly it wasn't much of a big change at all, but the large amount of clothes and shoes I had managed to cram into our tiny apartment closet was more than I felt like I needed.

I knew that I had to sell or donate lots of clothing and shoes which I had accumulated over the years of working in retail and also from accepting sponsored clothing as a fashion blogger. I had piles and piles of clothes, crazy high heels, leather boots, all of which were no longer in alignment with who I felt like I was anymore or what I wanted to support or promote. 

Most of my clothes were way more bold and attention-grabbing than I felt comfortable with anymore. I'm not even exaggerating, a significant portion of my wardrobe was actually rainbow tie-dye or holographic.

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I don’t know if this is just a side-effect of getting older, as I’m 26 years old now and most of those clothing items I had gathered in my late teens and early 20s, but I knew I had to make some changes to my wardrobe if I was going to be leaving NYC and moving into a smaller space outside of a big city. I also knew that I no longer wanted to support fast fashion brands or buy any new clothes or shoes made from animal products.

How I got rid of most of my clothes:

Some of my clothes were worn very lightly or even still had tags on them so I knew I wanted to try to sell them to get some money back, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. Then I heard about an app called Poshmark. I created an account on there and began the process of photographing and listing my freshest, best quality, name-brand items. I priced everything to sell quickly as I didn’t have a ton of time, and to my surprise and relief everything sold very quickly.

I’ve also heard of people having success on a similar app called Depop, but since Poshmark worked so well for me I stuck with that one. Poshmark is a US only site though so consider Depop if you live anywhere else in the world.

There were also some well-worn items of clothing that I loved so much, specifically tons of vintage dresses I had accumulated over the years. At one point in my life I worked at five different vintage clothing stores all at the same time. That meant working at a different location of each vintage clothing store every day of the week all over different parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Needless to say I accumulated a lot of vintage items.

I decided to save three of my favorite vintage dresses, even though I don’t get to wear them often these days, and the rest of my well-loved clothing items I gave to friends who didn’t mind the rips and imperfections. It felt really good to give away some of the clothes that I had sentimental attachments to to my friends because I knew they would love them as much as I did.

The rest of my clothes which I couldn’t sell or friends didn’t want, were all donated to a local Goodwill. This was about two giant duffle bags worth of clothing and shoes.

Regrets & what I wish I had kept:

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While I don’t need a lot of fancy clothes anymore as I don’t go to parties or events, there’s one item I definitely regret donating and think about often and that’s this vintage ruffled lace top.

I gave it away because it had always been too big on me, but I didn’t realize how unique of an item it was and how difficult it would be to find a replacement for. I could have gotten it tailored to fit me or worn it with a top underneath, but in the rush of clearing out my closet, it got donated and I definitely miss it a lot.

Is it a practical item to have in my wardrobe? No. But sometimes when we find something that’s special to us and as unique as vintage clothing items can be, it’s good to think over the decision to part with them a little more carefully as they will be nearly impossible to replace.

Things I kept that I probably shouldn't have but did anyway:

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My most cherished clothing item which I still have in the closet of our tiny RV, is my white frilly late-1970s gunne sax dress. There’s definitely a theme going on with all of my most loved clothing items and it has something to do with white lace, high victorian collars and ruffles.

I haven't even worn it since moving into the RV, so clearly it doesn’t make any rational sense to keep it around, but having just one special vintage dress there that I could wear should the occasion ever present itself makes me feel happy, and since we have the closet space in our RV I’ll be keeping it for now.

I don’t think minimalism and downsizing should be as all-or-nothing as some make it out to be. A lot of people have said if you haven’t worn something in a year or even six months, that it’s time to get rid of it. Generally, that’s sound advice, and for most items in our wardrobe this makes sense, but I think this mindset of having less just for the sake of having less and getting rid of your most favorite impractical item could leave you with regrets in the future, so maybe don't apply it to every single item.

 

Things I still have from before I went vegan (Leather, Wool, Fast-Fashion):

When I went vegan in 2015, I knew that changing my diet would be the easy part. However, I had a closet full of animal-based clothing. All of my shoes were leather and so was my favorite bag which I took with me everywhere.

At first, I didn’t stress about it and decided I’d continue to wear the leather shoes and bags and replace stuff as I go. Then, about three weeks after going vegan, I got a job working at a vegan shoe store and suddenly I had replaced many of my shoes and bags way faster than I had ever expected to be possible.

When this happened, I began to either donate or give to friends all of my leather stuff. Some of the stuff I hadn’t even found replacements for yet, but at this point I was beginning to see leather for what it was, cow’s skin, and it genuinely gave me the creeps. Parting with my leather stuff became much easier once I fully allowed myself to understand the cruelty in it.

Wool, however, is almost just as cruel. Even though you don’t have to kill a sheep to take their wool, and sheep must be shorn because they are bred to produce so much wool, the practice of breeding these human-dependent, product-producing, sweet gentle creatures into existence and treating them like commodities is just wrong. In a profit-driven system, sheep are shorn as fast as possible to save money and time, which often results in injuries or death to the sheep, and once their wool production drops as they age, they are sent to the slaughterhouse.

I don’t even like wool as a fabric, sure it’s warm, but it’s also so itchy. Still though, I have a few items in my tiny RV closet that contain wool that I have yet to replace. Being that wool is not skin, it doesn’t gross me out quite as much as leather so I can almost tolerate it being in my wardrobe, although I’m still not proud of it and I don’t promote it to others. I definitely don’t plan on buying anything with wool in the future, but for now my two wool sweaters and one light purple wool jacket are some of the warmest winter clothes I currently have and they’ll be with me until I can afford to replace them.

While I would love to have a closet full of entirely sweatshop free clothing, the truth is that some of the clothing items I have are from back in the day when I’d shop at companies that use sweatshop labor like Zara and H&M. Fortunately, these clothing items are few and far between because most of my clothing is thrifted, but there are still some items that I bought before I was shopping more consciously.

I still wear those items occasionally, but since I don't want to promote them, when people ask where I got them from I either say I forgot or I straight up tell them it’s from a fast fashion brand so it’s likely long gone from production and also not from a place I actively support anymore.

What I’ve learned through downsizing my wardrobe and trying to have a more ethical closet:

The journey towards a smaller and more ethical wardrobe is going to be a long process that looks a little different for everyone. You shouldn’t take an all-or-nothing approach and get rid of every impractical or unethical item all at once, because it’s usually not that easy to replace so many items quickly.

When you first start to connect to the truth of what you are purchasing, especially with going vegan, you might feel like you want to get rid of everything but then you realize how expensive it can be to buy new clothes that aren’t made in sweatshops. Sure there are always thrift stores, but this isn’t practical for many busy people who don’t have the time to sort through everything. This is why I never want to push my views on other people and fully get why everyone can’t 100% stop buying fast fashion and go completely eco-friendly or vegan.

The process is going to depend peoples unique circumstances and ability to make these big changes. The fact that so many people are beginning to think about these things and care about what they are supporting with their dollar is a huge step in the right direction. Even if they’re not at the point yet where what they are purchasing reflects their values for whatever reasons.

It’s important to not get wrapped up in having to be completely perfect or make the most ethical choice every single time, but just to bring more awareness to each purchase and consider where it’s coming from and the effect that’s having on the world. Not to feel guilty when we make a “bad” purchase or go the other way and adopt a virtuous identity as a consumer who makes more conscious ethical choices, but just to simply connect with the reality of what we are doing regardless, so that we don’t blindly consume and end up with a bunch of junk that we don’t need or that falls apart after one wash cycle.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Are you trying to buy less and/or buy things that are vegan and sweatshop-free?

I plan to write more about this topic going forward and eventually do a tiny closet tour to show some of my favorite ethically-made vegan clothing and shoes, so check back in for that if this is a topic you're interested in!


Sticky Sweet & Sour Sesame Baked Tofu [Oil-Free]

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This tofu recipe is as simple as it is delicious. The tofu is tossed in starch and then baked while the sticky sweet & sour sauce takes just a few minutes to whip up on the stovetop. 

It tastes amazing served over rice with a side of pan-seared broccoli. If you've been missing savory restaurant-style food, this dish will definitely take care of that craving. 

I've adapted this recipe from the Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu recipe by Hot For Food, following her instructions to make this completely oil-free by baking instead of frying the tofu and I also added a bit more ginger and garlic to suit my own tastes. 

I hope you enjoy this delicious oil-free tofu recipe!


Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce [Low-Fat, Vegan, Oil-Free, Nut-Free]

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This alfredo sauce is so flavorful and creamy with no oil, dairy, or nuts needed! It's made from cauliflower, which when cooked for a bit and blended with the right ingredients, it transforms into the most perfect alfredo sauce texture. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good heavy cashew-based sauce, but over the years I've found that too many nuts can make me feel not so great. So instead of nuts, this recipe uses hemp seeds which are super healthy and contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids that support long-term brain health and cognitive function. 

Hemp seeds help to make the sauce creamy and thick without throwing your omega 3-6 ratios off-balance and they have a delicious nutty flavor that works perfectly with the other flavors in this sauce. 

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Behold, a creamy sauce you can feel good about pouring over your pasta. No dairy, nuts, or oil needed! 

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Does it taste like cauliflower though?

Well, a little bit, but not in the way you might expect.

Because the cauliflower is cooked for about 15 minutes it really softens up and loses that strong fresh vegetable taste. It does taste very subtly of cauliflower, but in a soft delicate way that won't make you feel like you're eating straight up pureed veggies. 

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I used whole wheat pasta and added in some peas and my favorite mushroom bacon, which I highly recommend, but feel free to add whichever veggies you have on hand or enjoy the sauce on it's own over the pasta, it's delicious either way!

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Almond Butter Tempeh Salad With Miso Ginger Dressing [Oil-Free, Vegan]

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This salad with marinated almond butter tempeh and creamy miso ginger dressing has been my go-to salad recipe for the past few weeks. It's filling and savory from the marinated tempeh but also refreshing and spicy from the creamy dressing made with fresh ginger and fermented miso paste. 

I used to think I hated tempeh, no matter what I did it always tasted bitter. Eventually I learned that tempeh really needs to be steamed first to remove the bitter flavors, but even then I didn't know what to do with it. Then I found this recipe for marinated peanut butter tempeh by Minimalist Baker and that changed everything for me. I adjusted the recipe to be oil free and also slightly lower in sodium, but still maintain that delicious flavor, and now I can't get enough of it. I love adding it to fresh salads, but it's also wonderful in warm grain bowls with rice and steamed greens, as shown below. 

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I like the tempeh cut into little triangles. Cut the tempeh in half the long way first and then cut the thin pieces into triangles. 

Making the marinade for the tempeh is really easy. Just mix together the marinade ingredients in a bowl and gently stir or toss the tempeh until it's fully coated. 

If I have time I try to let it sit in the marinade for as long as possible (2-24 hours), but usually I only have about 15 minutes. Even in that small amount of time the tempeh still picks up a lot of flavor. 

Lay out the marinated tempeh pieces on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees until golden brown. 

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If you like ginger, you're going to LOVE this salad dressing recipe. As always it's oil-free, vegan, and made with healthy whole food ingredients. It's got quite a kick to it and goes so well with the almond butter tempeh in this salad bowl. All you need is a high speed blender or food processor. Add all of the ingredients and blend until it's super creamy and no chunks remain. Store the dressing in a sealed container in the fridge and it will keep for 4-5 days for use in salads all week. 

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I hope you enjoy this flavorful salad recipe! 



Smoky White Bean & Caramelized Onion Quesadillas [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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Quesadillas hold a very special place in my heart. Since becoming a vegetarian as a young kid, quesadillas were just always the easiest thing to throw together at a friend's house or order out at restaurants. I always wanted them as plain as possible with just a ton of cheese and nothing else except maybe sour cream. Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of the idea of filling them with anything else besides cheese, but since becoming vegan and realizing how important fiber is I have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of healthier filling alternatives. 

These quesadillas are filled with smoky smashed cannellini beans and sweet caramelized onions. They are crispy, savory, and definitely have a tangy cheesy flavor that is so crucial to any quesadilla experience. They get their cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast, tahini, and lemon juice.

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What really takes these quesadillas to the next level is a layer of caramelized onions. They require a bit of time and patience, but add such a good flavor that it's worth it. If you don't have time, the quesadillas will still be delicious though, and by not adding them you can cut the cooking time down from 50 minutes to 10 minutes, so I fully understand if you choose to pass on them. 

If you do decide to take the longer route of adding in the caramelized onions, you'll be so happy you did once you taste how delicious the sweet onions are with the smoky white beans.

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I recently read a post on Sweet Simple Vegan about how to caramelize onions without oil and realized how impatient I had been being when caramelizing onions in the past. I'd always try to get away with saving time by making turning up the heat, but the key is to keep the heat on medium low the whole entire time. This allows them to brown slowly and not dry out, making them extra sweet and juicy. Another key point is to use water while frying, but wait for the pan to completely dry out before adding more water. I found all of these tips super helpful!

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I hope you enjoy this delicious & healthy quesadilla recipe!


Mushroom and Leek Farro "Risotto" [Oil-Free, Vegan]

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This risotto is made with farro rather than white arborio rice, but believe it or not, it's actually way easier to cook than traditional risotto. While I love a good creamy risotto made with the traditional arborio rice, it's a pretty labor intensive meal which requires that you stand at the stove stirring for about 20 minutes, and can't leave it alone for a second without it burning or sticking. With this recipe, you let the rice cooker do most of the work for you to cook the farro, then all you have to do is saute some mushrooms and leeks and assemble it all together with some vegan parmesan in the pan. 

Farro is an ancient grain which has been consumed for thousands of years. It has twice as much protein as arborio rice and contains even more fiber, which aids in digestion and cardiovascular health. While the texture is a bit chewier than white rice and it's definitely not as creamy, I find that the firm texture of this whole grain suits the dish perfectly. 

Mushrooms and leeks are a classic risotto paring and with the addition of fresh herbs their flavors really shine. First we cook the mushrooms on their own until golden brown, then set them aside while we cook the leeks. Cooking these ingredients separately ensures that they get the attention and exact amounts of time that they need to cook perfectly. Even though you have to spend a little time at the stove top browning the mushrooms and leeks, it'll still end up being way less time than risotto normally takes thanks to having the grains pre-cooked. 

What makes this recipe so delicious is the fresh thyme, white wine vinegar, and vegan parmesan. I always have some vegan parmesan in the fridge, I seriously put it on everything and it's so simple to make. Just blend 1 cup of raw cashews with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. You can add salt to the parmesan if you'd like, but I usually keep mine salt-free so it doesn't get things too salty on top of meals that already contain salt. 

I hope you enjoy this healthy whole grain "risotto" recipe! If you try it out, tag me in a photo on instagram or leave a comment below :)


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Crispy Chickpea Salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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This colorful salad with roasted chickpeas and creamy caesar dressing is the perfect way to start off the new year feeling nourished and glowing from the inside out. 

The chickpeas are seasoned with a cheesy onion flavor that makes them taste like croutons. The spice paste, which makes the flavors fully coat the chickpeas, is made with the liquid from the can of chickpeas rather than oil. This makes for a much healthier option which still packs a ton of flavor. I've adapted this brilliant chickpea roasting method from this recipe by A Virtual Vegan. These chickpea croutons are perfect in a salad but they also make a great snack to enjoy on their own!

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The dressing is super simple and requires no blending! It takes only 5 minutes to prepare and tastes so creamy and delicious. It's similar to a creamy caesar dressing; tangy, thick, and salty, but made almost entirely with unrefined whole food ingredients. 

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Store bought dressings are made to sit on a shelf for months so they are often filled with questionable preservatives and processed oils. To pour one of these dressings over an otherwise nutrient-packed healthy bowl of fresh vegetables would undo a lot of the health benefits of eating a salad in the first place. Now that I've learned how to make my own dressings, I can't imagine ever going back to store-bought, especially when they are this easy to make!

Feel free to choose any of your favorite crunchy veggies for this salad. My go-to salad ingredients lately tend to be romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, carrots, radish, and green onions or scallions. I love adding avocado to this salad bowl, but if you don't have any it's perfectly delicious without it too. 

This is a great recipe to meal prep for a week of healthy salads. Double the batch of crispy chickpeas and allow them to sit inside the oven while it cools to make them stay extra crispy for longer. Then store them in a glass jar and add them to salads and whole grain bowls all week. Make sure to make an extra large batch of the creamy dressing too! 

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Beet Hummus Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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Roasted portobello mushroom caps make a deliciously healthy alternative to the classic hummus and avocado on toast. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with having hummus on some sliced whole grain bread, but it's a good idea to change things up every so often. Since I make a batch of hummus almost every week, after a few days of having it on toast, I find myself looking for other ways to enjoy it. This time I decided to try stuffing it in a roasted portobello mushroom and it was so tasty! 

My favorite hummus lately has been this vibrant pink beet hummus. The key to making the beets have sweet flavor rather than an earthy bitter flavor is to make sure to use well-cooked beets. Any way you choose to cook them is fine, as long as they are very soft and cooked all the way through. This hummus is so fluffy and easy to blend because we use some of the liquid from the can of chickpeas (aka aquafaba) which becomes really airy when blended making the hummus have a softer whipped texture. I also use a bit more tahini to balance out the flavor of the beets and make the hummus extra savory. 

This recipe takes only slightly more effort then having hummus on toast. The portobello mushrooms are wiped clean, coated in a simple marinade, and then roasted for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and stuff with hummus, then roast for another 10 minutes, remove from the oven and garnish with whichever toppings you like. 

I hope you enjoy the recipe! 


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I used boiled beets so the color of the hummus before it was baked was a light pink color which darkened to hot pink in the oven. If you use roasted beets, the color will be even more vibrant, and will turn dark red when roasted. 

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Mashed Potato & Sauerkraut Casserole [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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This mashed potato & sauerkraut casserole is one of my favorite vegan comfort food recipes. With a juicy layer of quality sauerkraut on the bottom, a layer of fluffy vegan-cheezy garlic mashed potatoes in the middle, and crispy herbed breadcrumbs on top, this sauerkraut packs in all of the best flavors and textures into one package. 

When I think of casseroles, I expect something that's going to require a lot of preparation, but this casserole is so simple! Especially if you don't enjoy chopping lots of different ingredients, because all you have to chop in this recipe is potatoes- and that's it! Mashed potatoes are actually really easy to make from scratch. I recommend russet potatoes because they are the best for mashing, once they're peeled, chopped and steamed, I mash them with a creamy garlic sauce that I whip up in the blender while the potatoes are boiling. Then I place a layer of sauerkraut in the bottom of a baking dish, top it with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle herbed breadcrumbs over the top. 

I've had this idea for a potato and sauerkraut casserole for a few months now, ever since I made a potato and sauerkraut soup recipe and became completely obsessed with the combination. In the process of creating this recipe I've learned a lot about the nature of potatoes. My original version was a scalloped potato casserole, creamy au gratin style, with layers of tangy sauerkraut interlaced between thinly sliced potatoes. When I took it out of the oven, it looked beautiful, but unfortunately when I tried it the potatoes were rock hard and uncooked. I put it back in the oven and cooked it a while longer... and then even longer... but the potatoes refused to cook. I ended up looking online for why this might be happening and as it turns out, potatoes won't cook in acidic substances, such as the tangy sauerkraut that I love so much.

I felt a little defeated and decided to let the idea sit on the backburner for awhile. Eventually, while eating my favorite cheesy potato quesadilla recipe, inspiration struck again and I realized I can use a similar creamy mashed potato filling so that it's already cooked so it can't be disturbed by a layer of sauerkraut. So I tried it out with mashed potatoes and this time it actually worked! The recipe that I had been dreaming about for months was finally a hit and I've been making it over and over again ever since. 

Be sure to use a high quality sauerkraut such as my all time favorite brand, Bubbies. You can find the best sauerkrauts in the refrigerated section at your grocery store. Generally, the sauerkrauts that don't need to be refrigerated aren't as good as the ones that do require refrigeration.

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time or even in a larger portion because it keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days, though mine always tends to disappear very quickly. I hope you enjoy this recipe and that it becomes one of your favorites as well! 


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I ended up using three medium-sized russet potatoes for this recipe, which made about 4 cups, but since potatoes sizes vary I'd recommend measuring out 4 cups of cubed peeled potatoes.

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Place the potatoes in a pot and cover them with cold water until they're just submerged under the water. Place the pot over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. As soon as the potatoes start to come to a rolling boil, set a timer for 7 minutes and turn the heat down to medium. After the time has passed check to make sure the potato chunks are fork tender and then drain the water out of the pot and then return the potatoes to the same pot. 

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Make the creamy garlic sauce in the blender either while the potatoes are boiling or right after by combining all of the sauce ingredients in the blender until smooth. 

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Add the creamy garlic sauce to your steamed potatoes in the pot along with some chopped chives and then mash until well combined. 

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Assemble the casserole in your dish by starting with an even layer of sauerkraut, followed by a layer of mashed potatoes, and then quickly mix together your breadcrumbs and herbs and sprinkle them over the top. I've never had any issues with the sauerkraut sticking to the bottom of the baking pan, so I don't bother greasing the pan first. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes, and then serve. 

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Tofu Benedict with Pumpkin Biscuits, Broccolini & Hollandaise Sauce [Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan]

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The first time I ever had a vegan tofu benedict was at Champs Diner in Brooklyn a few months after first going vegan. This was a time when I knew nothing about cooking and had no idea how amazing vegan food could potentially be. When I tried their tofu benedict I was amazed by how much it tasted just like the eggy vegetarian versions I remembered having before going vegan. It was the ultimate filling, comforting brunch food. Back then, I remember thinking that gourmet restaurant-style vegan food was something I'd only ever be able to enjoy at restaurants because it would be way too complicated to make from scratch. Over the years I've since learned just how easy it can be to recreate some of my old favorites and began experimenting with my own version of this classic brunch recipe. 

Traditional eggs benedict includes ham and this was also true of the vegan version at Champs, but I've always found faux meats unappealing and also not very healthy, so I chose to leave that out of the equation. I also decided to go with a less traditional almond flour and pumpkin biscuit instead of using regular white flour, which adds a nice autumnal twist and makes these biscuits much healthier- and they're also gluten-free! On top of the biscuits, I stacked smoky baked tofu, followed by a creamy, buttery cashew hollandaise sauce.

This recipe is a little nut-heavy with the almond biscuits and the cashew sauce, so it's not going to be the healthiest everyday kind of meal, but it's perfect for serving brunch guests or having a fancy sunday breakfast. While it is higher in fat than most of my recipes, it's still oil-free and contains plenty of fiber to keep your gut flora happy and thriving. 

My favorite topping for this recipe is usually pan-seared broccolini and fresh chives. The broccolini adds a great crunch and texture to the dish, but I have also had some success with using sauteed spinach and layering it underneath the tofu rather than on top. I'd still recommend trying this with broccolini if you can find it though! Regular broccoli won't work for this recipe as it's too thick, so if you can't find broccolini (the long skinny version of broccoli), spinach is the way to go. 

This is my favorite recipe to serve guests, not only because it looks so beautiful, it's also shows how delicious and filling vegan food can be. While there are many parts to the recipe, it's a lot easier to make than it seems at first. Make the biscuits, bake the tofu, blend the sauce, sear the broccolini, and then assemble & serve. I promise the time spent is well worth the effort! 


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Pumpkin Hot Cocoa [Sugar-Free, Low-Fat, Vegan]

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There's nothing better on a cold day than a thick and creamy cup of hot chocolate. As a kid, I specifically remember having two different types. There was the powdered one that came in a pouch with tiny dehydrated mini marshmallows that always came out watery and lumpy no matter how much you stirred, and then there was the traditional kind of hot chocolate that was so heavy and thick that I could hardly ever finish a whole cup. I set out to replicate the more traditional thicker one, but in a way that makes it healthy enough to drink every day.

For me, this means no sugar and no heavy coconut cream. To make this beverage sweet without sugar, I used soft dates which add the perfect amount of sweet caramel flavor in an unrefined whole food package.

The magical thickening ingredient in this recipe is canned pumpkin puree. Not only does pumpkin make this beverage extra creamy, but it also has loads of fiber and nutrients. This makes for a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture without having to use as many heavy, high-fat ingredients. 

To make this hot chocolate extra rich I sometimes add just a teaspoon of nut butter. It isn't really necessary at all, though I do find it helps to cover up the earthy flavor of the ashwagandha root powder which I've been adding in lately, but you totally can skip that ingredient if you don't have it/don't want it. 

I've never been one to buy into the hype around "superfoods" or ayurvedic herbs and supplements, but I decided to try ashwagandha when I heard about its ability to balance hormones. There's just not enough research to say for sure that it actually does anything, but as someone who has been on and off hormonal contraceptives many times throughout my early 20s, I decided to give it a try and see for myself if I notice any differences. I'll report back if I do! 

This hot chocolate becomes so frothy from the blending process that it almost reminds me of a latte, but with much less effort than actually frothing and steaming the milk. It's as easy as throwing everything in a blender and pressing a button. I usually heat it up in a mug in the microwave to save dishes, but if you prefer to use the stovetop to heat it up that's definitely another good option. 

For an extra-decadent dessert version, I like to top it off with some vegan whipped cream (the kind I use is made from rice milk) and an extra pinch of cinnamon. Even without the whip, it's still such a delicious cozy drink on its own. It's a deliciously healthy and nutrient-rich way to warm up and relax on a cold wintery day. 

Recipe video & written recipe below!




Mediterranean Minestrone Soup with Sweet Potato and Fresh Herbs

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Minestrone has got to be one of the most well-known comforting soups out there. For me it's always been one of those throw all the vegetables you have in a pot and see what works kind of a recipe, but after many attempts I've learned what my favorite qualities are in a minestrone soup and what needs to stay consistent for the best results. 

I've found that the best vegetables to use in a minestrone are mediterranean veggies like bell pepper, zucchini, potatoes, and chickpeas. They pair so well with a tomato broth and fresh herbs like thyme and sage. 

When I think of mediterranean ingredients, for some reason I think of kalamata olives. I am a big fan of olives in places you wouldn't expect to find olives, but I know many others probably don't share the same enthusiasm for olives in everything. If olives are not your thing, go ahead and omit them from the recipe, but if you love olives as much as I do then I hope the idea of olives in a soup is a bit more appealing. I think they add such a lovely salty flavor, especially when chopped very small. 

The sweet potato makes this recipe so much more filling and healthy, but yukon gold potatoes will also work well. I would advise against russets though, as they are a bit too floury and will break down too much in the soup. I'd also advise against carrots and cauliflower, which I've used in this soup in the past and felt like they just didn't quite belong. If you don't have chickpeas, you can definitely substitute any white beans you have, and it's even possible that other types of beans like kidney and black could work in this too, but I've only tried using white beans and chickpeas so far with great results. 

This recipe is perfect for a chilly late-fall night when you're looking for something that is easy to cook all in one pot fairly quickly. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! 

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I've been working on bringing more of my recipes to life through videos, and lately my favorite way to do this has been through stop motion. I've loved making stop motion videos in college as a photography major, but it's been about seven years since the last stop motion video I've made, so I've got some practicing to do to remember how it all works (not getting my own shadow and kitchen utensils in the frame for example >.<)  Although it's a bit tedious, there's something so fun about the process of setting it up and watching it all come together for the end result. I'll definitely be making more of these for future recipes!