My Favorite Vegan Mac and Cheese

my favorite mac and cheeseI know I have, like, a bagillion mac and cheese recipes or variations of mac and cheese on this site. Actually, I only have 3 others. But in the food blogging world, that sort of seems to me like a bagillion.

At any rate, despite the fact that I don’t need to post yet another mac and cheese recipe here, it would feel disingenuous to go on with life knowing that there’s a go-to mac and cheese that I pretty much make exclusively these days that I haven’t shared here. It’s quickly become one of my favorite meals, and one that I make at least once every few weeks — especially during this cold winter, when I’ve been craving warm comfort food and carbs.

I know the internet, as well, has no shortage of vegan mac and cheese recipes using cashews as a base. That’s fine. What I like about this particular recipe is that there are very few ingredients, it’s very creamy, and the miso and smoked paprika are secret ingredients that sort of make this a perfect blend of delicious, umami, smoky and decadent goodness — without any oil or processed fat. I am willing to go out on a limb and say that, despite its lack of processed ingredients, this recipe will wow even the most ardent omnivore or self-proclaimed “cheese addict” you may be feeding.

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Fat-Free Potato Salad

vegan, fat-free potato saladTo say I’m a carb-aholic does not entirely describe my problem. It’s potatoes that are my carb of choice. And I don’t care how you give them to me. Mashed, fried, boiled, baked, roasted or au gratin — I don’t discriminate and love ‘em all (as long as they’re all vegan versions, of course).

But as benign as the potato may seem on the scale of addictions, the danger in my affinity for spuds usually comes in their preparation, as it’s long been a tradition for the potato to be prepared with fat. Oil for frying and roasting. Buttery spreads for mashing and melting over baked. And boiled potatoes, if not soon to be mashed, are often on their way to becoming part of a salad filled with oily and fattening mayo or mayo replacements. I love it, don’t get me wrong. But does it love me back? Doctors Esselstyn and McDougall say “no”.

When I searched the internet for “fat-free potato salad”, I found little in the way of a solution. Many such recipes called for processed “fat-free” mayo blends, which use artificial ingredients and flavors, along with several preservatives. That was simply not an option for me.

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Easy, Fat-Free Green Bean Salad

fat free green bean saladSo, I realized that this past Thanksgiving was my 4th — 4th! — annual vegan Thanksgiving. And for the first time ever, as I mentioned, the entirety of my extended family joined along in the spirit of the vegan Thanksgiving and there was no turkey to be found.

At one time, I would have thought that a turkey-less, entirely vegan Thanksgiving would mean I’d feel lighter and not stuffed to my breaking point after eating. I was wrong. And I’m here to set the record straight. It is entirely possible to way overeat  and induce a food-coma even if all of the food you’re putting into your body came from plants.

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Pineapple-Cashew Quinoa Salad

quinoa-cashew-pineapple saladI recently became obsessed with preparing a modified version of a Veganomicon recipe for pineapple-cashew quinoa stir fry. It’s basically a quinoa fried rice with a hot and sweet flavor and distinct crunch from the addition of cashews. If any of you are familiar with the Veganomicon cookbook, you might imagine that while the ingredient list is long and the directions somewhat time-consuming, the end result is this amazingly flavorful and impressive stir-fry.

While I certainly love the hot version of this dish, I also (on more than one occasion) have craved its flavors, but not wanted to mess up a bunch of cooking dishes to make one meal. I also typically like to pack dinner leftovers into lunch the next day, and prefer not to use a microwave to heat food at work (or ever, if I can help it!). That’s when I started thinking about how I could re-imagine this dish as a salad. Why not? After all, fresh pineapple is as good as cooked — and quinoa works great in salad preparations. After playing around with some additional ingredients and modifications, suddenly, a lunchtime (picnic, summer dinner, etc.) version of one of my favorite Veganomicon dishes was born.

pineapple quinoa cashew salad

I think this is the kind of recipe that could definitely be a crowd-pleaser at your next vegan or non-vegan gathering. Since it’s designed as a salad, it stores and travels well. It also tastes great at room temperature, or even slightly on the warm side if you’re adding freshly-cooked quinoa. I like to use red quinoa, as it tends to not clump together like its white counterpart, and has a distinctly nutty flavor that is great in salad preparations. You can buy all of the ingredients for this recipe at Trader Joe’s (except, perhaps, the Tamari — though they do sell a regular, wheat-based soy sauce there), which makes it a one-stop shopping kind of meal. I love when gluten-free, vegan fare doesn’t require trips to every health food store and Whole Foods in town.

Pineapple-Cashew Quinoa Salad:

Serves: 4


1 cup uncooked red quinoa, well rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped ripe tomato

1 cup diced pineapple

4 scallions, chopped

3/4 cup cashews, lightly toasted

1/2 cup minced cilantro

1/3 cup  fresh squeezed orange juice

2 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


1. Rinse and drain quinoa well. Add quinoa to a small to medium pot with 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer over medium heat until water is mostly absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and fluff with a fork. Leave covered until ready to use.

2. If toasting cashews, add to a dry skillet and heat over medium-high heat until cashews are aromatic and turning golden brown. Remove from heat.

3. While preparing quinoa, add chopped carrot, tomato, scallions and pineapple to a large salad bowl. Once quinoa has cooked, add to bowl. Mix well. Add in cashews, chopped cilantro, orange juice, tamari and sesame oil and toss well. Serve immediately or let cool and chill in refrigerator until ready to use. You may top with additional toasted cashews, if desired.



Raw Broccoli Salad

cleansing raw broccoli salad

Cleansing. It’s a word that you hear a lot these days. Depending on who you’re talking to, cleanses are a beneficial — even necessary — component of health maintenance, needed for removing toxins and restoring our inner health. Others might say that cleanses are unnecessary at best, and at times even dangerous.

I don’t necessarily subscribe to either way of thinking. On the one hand, I believe that we put a lot of crap (for lack of a better word) into our bodies — especially when eating the Standard American Diet of meat, cheese and processed foods. Add the environmental toxins that are in some ways unavoidable these days, and we’re not really doing our inner systems any favors. Then again, I don’t necessarily feel that the only answer is an extreme cleanse. To be fair, I know that juice cleanses and even the master cleanse have had mental and physical benefits for many people. And as much as I’ve been tempted at times to experiment myself, it’s just not realistic when I consider that a typical day for me requires meeting with clients, arguing cases in front of judges, responding to phone calls and emails, and then coming home to walk Woodley and tend to a variety of household chores that, unfortunately, can’t always wait.  From what I understand, the process of cleansing and detoxing necessitates a certain level of removal from daily life before the benefits begin to kick in (similar to a drug or alcohol detox). This is simply not a viable option for many people.

Instead, I try to take a more pragmatic approach to the idea of cleansing. I view it as an ongoing process that I try to fit into my daily life, without risking starvation, social alienation or physical and mental anguish. Here are some of the ways I try to incorporate aspects of cleansing into my daily routine:

  • Every morning, I start of my day with either a large class of water with raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, or a mug of hot water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar boast numerous health benefits, and have long been revered for their cleansing properties. Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, CN, writes in her book The Beauty Detox Foods that raw apple cider vinegar is a strong digestive aid that also has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also known to alkalize the body — keeping ones body pH from becoming too acidic, which is important for maintaining optimum health. Lemon juice, on the other hand, is also a strong detox aid and has been said to have amazing benefits for the skin. It is also great as a liver detox aid and blood purifier. Like raw apple cider vinegar, lemon is also alkaline-forming in the body. Cayenne pepper is also said to help speed up the metabolism and aid in cleansing.
  • I also drink a green smoothie almost every morning. I often add lemon juice to my smoothie for additional cleansing properties, and use raw leafy greens and fresh fruits which are alkaline-forming and easy to digest. Often, I throw in cilantro or parsley for additional cleansing properties. When I first told my doctor about suffering from Lyme detox symptoms (what happens when you start antibiotic treatment and Lyme spirochetes begin to “die off” in the body, releasing lots of toxins), she suggested that I add cilantro to my green smoothies, as cilantro is an excellent detox aid. It is also great for heavy metal detox — something to consider if you use aluminum deodorant or eat lots of fish.
  • I try to eat several raw salads a day, including my favorite kale salad. I also top my salads with raw fermented sauerkraut or kimchi. Sometimes I make my own sauerkraut according to the method from The Beauty Detox Foods, but often, I just buy a locally-produced brand called The Brinery which is sold throughout the metro Detroit area. Raw fermented sauerkraut and kimchi contain many beneficial enzymes and probiotics which help to aid in cleansing and keep gut flora in check.
  • I have recently cut out processed foods from my everyday diet. Not that I was going crazy on processed foods before, but I would periodically have daiya cheese or organic tortilla chips and other more processed vegan foods. Now, I try to snack on whole foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables rather than processed options. I try not to be too extreme or rigid with this approach, but I do save processed foods and snacks for emergencies or very special occasions.
  • I have to admit that I do still drink coffee. It’s something that I gave up for awhile, but then added back in to my diet when I was becoming extremely tired and suffering from the “die-off” Lyme symptoms I described above. Now, though, I try to never go over 2 cups a day, and I try to take breaks periodically from coffee drinking to give my body some rest. I also ONLY drink organic coffee, as non-organic can contain many pesticides and toxins. Because coffee is acidic, I make sure to only drink it after I’ve had my apple cider vinegar or lemon water and my green smoothie — so that I am balancing the acidity with more alkaline foods.
  • Finally, I try to add other cleansing regimens into my routine as much as possible. Massages and chiropractic treatments can help removed trapped toxins (which is why you’re always told to drink lots of water after a massage). I have also done Far Infrared Saunas, which help you sweat out a lot of toxins. I also recently discovered Zeoforce from Healthforce Nutritionals, which is a brand I really like. This product is a great cleansing aid, as it binds to toxins and heavy metals and removes them from the system. I will admit, the taste is a little like you’re drinking clay — but to me it’s a better alternative than not eating for a week!

This raw broccoli salad is one example of the raw salads I try to enjoy daily as part of my ongoing “cleansing” process. This is actually based on a recipe my mom has been making for a few years, so I have to give her the credit here. I made a few changes — including adding raw red cabbage for further nutritional benefits. My mom likes to use organic dried, unsweetened cherries instead of raisins, which is also very good. Broccoli is an amazing food that contains so many health and cleansing benefits. Yet often, we’re eating it in its cooked form and removing some beneficial properties. When it is raw, I’ve usually seen it in some sort of salad laden with mayonnaise or oil, or in a veggie tray with a fatty ranch dip. This salad is a healthy alternative to those raw broccoli options. Raw cabbage, celery, almonds, cider vinegar and lemon juice add to the numerous health properties of this salad.

Raw Broccoli Salad:

Serves: 3-4 as a side


3 cups broccoli florets

1 cup chopped red cabbage

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/3 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup chopped raw almonds

1/4 cup raisins

2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos*

2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

* Note: for a completely raw salad, raw coconut aminos may be used in place of the liquid aminos. Coconut aminos are also soy free. A pinch of sea salt may be added for taste, as the coconut aminos are less salty than liquid aminos.  


1. Toss all ingredients in a medium-large glass salad bowl until well combined.

2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss again before serving to distribute dressing. Salad can be chilled in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.


Oil-Free Protein-Packed Kale Salad

oil free protein kale salad

As you are all probably aware from my previous post, I had a blast at the Vegetarian Summerfest this year. And I learned SO MUCH about health and nutrition, even though I was already eating what I considered to be a very health vegan diet. One thing that really struck me on my trip was how many of the speakers we heard advised against using oil. Not only does oil have no nutritional value — making it completely empty in calories — but many presenters discussed its artery-clogging effects, links to cancer when cooked due to oxidation, and associations with vascular insufficiency and blood-clotting. But the thing that really made sense to me is that, when you think about it, oil is a pretty unnecessary food. It really provides no health benefits that can’t be obtained through whole, plant-based sources. This is why it’s best to get fats from nuts, seeds and avocados rather than from oil, which is a processed, stripped down version of real food.

When I came home, I wanted to start incorporating more oil-free meals into my life and in this blog (I am always a student and learning new and amazing things about nutrition — this blog is certainly a reflection of that). Unfortunately, I realized that many of my dishes in the past have contained oil — probably even in cases where it may not be entirely necessary. I will certainly try to limit its use in dishes where it is not needed from now on. I did create a tag for my oil free recipes, and I hope those will increase in volume as time goes on.

It’s pretty clear by now that I am quite the fan of kale. That certainly did not change on my trip. This dish was created to provide a nutritionally-dense, high-protein salad. Gratuitous oil use is perhaps most common in salad dishes — especially in those that soak up a lot of liquids like quinoa. I tried to find other ways to add intrigue to the salad and dressing — and flavor throughout. This salad makes a great, intriguing side dish, or can be eaten in larger portions for a one-bowl lunch or dinner. I find that the flavors work best when warm, but it can certainly be served as a cold salad as well.

The following are a few of my favorite books providing additional information as to why processed oils should be avoided or eliminated from one’s diet:

oil-free protein-packed kale salad

Oil-Free Protein-Packed Kale Salad:

Serves: 4-6


4 cups finely chopped curly kale (about 1/2 bunch)

1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 white)

2 cups sweet potato, peeled, diced and steamed or boiled until soft (about 10 minutes)

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), roughly chopped (more may be added to taste)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 can organic chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

sea salt to taste


1. Add quinoa to a small pot with 1 cup of the vegetable broth and 1 cup water. Cook according to package directions, or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.

2. Meanwhile, cook or steam sweet potatoes if you haven’t already.

3. Whisk together dressing ingredients: remaining vegetable broth, cider vinegar, cumin and coriander.

4. Add kale, sun-dried tomato, sweet potato and chickpeas to a large salad bowl. Once quinoa is cooked, add warm quinoa and dressing to bowl and toss. Add salt to taste. Serve warm, room-temperature or chilled.


Adzuki-Millet Cakes

Like many great things in life, this recipe happened by accident. Well, at least the final product was an accident, as I had originally intended these to be a homemade answer to my Hilary’s Adzuki Bean Burger obsession (am I alone here?). While I wanted to mimic the original burger as much as possible, I also wanted to make this recipe easy and accessible. So, I decided to use only one of the two grains used in the Hilary’s burger. I decided on millet for its consistency when cooked. I also did not want to create anything that necessitated the use of a food processor — a great culinary tool, in my opinion, but one that can also incur unnecessary cleanup in many instances.

These tweaks probably led to a somewhat “looser” consistency than the original burger, one that was reminiscent of a savory cake rather than a burger. Not that I complained. As I shoved down two of these babies, I started wondering why I was ever looking for a veggie burger recipe in the first place, when there was a perfectly delicious version available in the frozen section of my local Whole Foods (ok, there were several reason I was doing so — money, trying to avoid processed foods, trying to cut down on the fat content of the original recipe — but those were soon forgotten). I also remembered that I had unsuccessfully gone through a string of attempts at a homemade bean cake recipe a while back. It seems I found the answer to whatever was plaguing my previous bean cake attempts — even if I had ended up forgetting the question.

I’m filing these cakes under “appetizer”, “side” or “main course” recipes, as I can see them as all three. Slightly cooled, they could top a dinner salad. Still warm, I imagine them over a heaping bed of steamed or sauteed greens — maybe kale or spinach — and  maybe drizzled with some oil and vinegar. I also served them to Gennaro inside of a warm pita with greens, chipotle Vegenaise spread and hot sauce (unfortunately, the pita was not gluten-free, or I certainly would have tried this version). And while we’re labeling these, I have to admit they also make a great snack. I like them cold, right out of the refrigerator, for a protein-packed and healthy, non-processed snack.

Adzuki-Millet Cakes:

Please note: You will likely have remaining millet left over. You can use it in salads or try it anywhere else you would use quinoa or — if you eat it — couscous. I also give it to my dog, Woodley, for a fun change-up to his usual nighttime snack, which was vet-recommended for gastrointestinal issues he was having — see, he is like his mom!

Yield: 6-8 cakes


3/4 cup uncooked dry millet

1 1/2 cups well cooked adzuki beans (I used my pressure cooker to cook 1 cup dried beans according to the instructions found here. I had some leftover, which I ate over some cooked quinoa with spinach. Canned adzuki beans, drained, would also work)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for cooking cakes

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 scallion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander


1. Add millet to a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook on medium heat until the water is just absorbed (watch carefully after about 10 minutes of boiling to see where it’s at). You can try stirring it to check on water content/consistency before removing from heat — the final consistency should be somewhat lumpy and not as “fork-fluffable” as quinoa is when cooked. You want this consistency for the cakes.

2. As millet cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a separate skillet. Add red pepper and scallion and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside.

3. Once millet has cooked (i.e. once the water is absorbed), add 1 1/2 cups of the warm millet, adzuki beans, chia, spices, salt and water together in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well, while mashing everything together with the back of your spoon. Add red peppers, scallion and garlic and mix well.

4. You can use the same saute pan as used for the red peppers (no need to wash). Heat additional teaspoon of coconut oil (if needed) in the pan. Meanwhile, measure out 1/3 cup amounts of adzuki-millet mixture and roll in the palm of your hands before pressing into patties. Add patties to hot saute pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side, or until crispy and lightly browned on the outside. Repeat this step to cook the remaining patties.


Indian-Spiced Potatoes

Recently I noticed that Indian recipes are curiously absent from this sight. I say “curiously” because, as my husband will attest, we are big Indian food fans around here. When I met Gennaro, he didn’t think he liked Indian food. The few times we brought him out to try it, we paraded the naan breads and simple tandoori dishes in front of him, hoping to lure him into more adventurous fare eventually. I’m not sure when, exactly, it happened, but there came a point when my husband starting opting for Indian take-out on his own accord, without being dragged by his wife or members of her immediate family. If there were ever any doubts that he was the one, they all subsided when I learned that I had snagged a guy who could hold his own in the Indian department.

My mom just bought me a copy of The Vegan Indian Kitchen, and let me just say: this cookbook is awesome. We’ve sampled a handful of recipes from the book, from Indian okra to the spicy, stewed aduki beans, and every recipe is truly amazing. There has not been a shortage of Indian fare in our kitchen lately. Thankfully, my husband came around to liking Indian food when he did, or he would have been in biiig trouble now that I’m armed with my very own vegan Indian recipe book.

The other day, I was looking to cook up something quick, and didn’t feel like pulling out any cookbooks or following any recipes. I chopped up some potato, onion and pepper and threw in some spices, inspired by by newfound Indian cooking knowledge. As it turned out, I had come up with a pretty darn good Indian-style dish of my own. It reminds me of the Hugarian paprika potatoes my grandma used to make, with an Indian twist.

Serves: 5-6 as a side

Indian-Spiced Potatoes:
Inspired by: The Vegan Indian Kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 small russet potatoes, washed and chopped (about 2 large potatoes)

1 large onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups water, divided

Spice Mix:

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and add potatoes, onion, bell pepper and salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until juices begin to release. Add 1 cup water, cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until water reduces by half. Uncover and let simmer until water is almost all evaporated.

2. Meanwhile, mix spices in a small bowl and add to potatoes after step 1 is complete. Add remaining water and continue to simmer, uncovered, until liquid is gone and potatoes are soft. Add salt to taste and serve.


Portobellos and Gravy

When I began transitioning to a vegan diet — almost a year ago now — I knew there would be moments of concession. I was always one of those people who said things like “I could easily go vegan if I had to…except for…” and that’s where I decided it didn’t matter, because no one’s putting a gun to my head and making me go vegan. But then I learned a few things about where my, say, chicken was coming from, and someone might as well have put a gun to my head. Because that was it. Suddenly, after all of those hypotheticals, I had found myself in as close as I would ever come to a “had to” moment. As in, I felt I had no choice.

While I’m no longer pining for things like sushi and roasted chicken like I used to, I am finding that there are moments where concessions still are made. At times — a small fraction of the time, really — I find myself having to make a choice to stay on course, even when it’s not entirely easy. Usually, it is.

But now — and is it just me? — it seems like the whole low-carb/no-carb phase has gotten it’s second wind, and I can’t help but feel annoyed by the whole thing. Like, “didn’t we go over this already?” Bacon and eggs for breakfast might make you skinny, but it isn’t going to win you any brownie points with your cardiologist.

It seems we’re often prone to conflating the notion of “dieting” with healthy eating, when the two are often incompatible at best.  So when I saw an article in Reader’s Digestthis weekend that reinforced the notion that carbs are our enemy and thrice-daily servings of meat, dairy and eggs will solve all of one’s problems with weight, I was simultanously annoyed yet eager to one-up the consulting Reader’s Digest Dr. with my own, healthier version of a low-carb meal plan.

Ok, confession time. There have been a few times in my life when I’ve succommed to the whole no-carb thing, which has always lasted for maybe a day. That is, once I remember that not having at least some sort of grain or starch during the day makes me feel rather nauseated, which is not a feeling I particularly enjoy. To be fair, though, I am equally affected by carb overload, which usually has the effect of making me extremely tired and unusually hungry during the day, no matter how much I eat.

I admit to having a tendency toward the latter when I’m going on instinct. I prefer tortilla chips to nuts as a snack, and cereal to a protein shake for breakfast. Adding the vegan element only further challenges me to think a little harder about how to get enough protein and vegetables into my diet without overdoing it on the carb front. I know, I know. I’m reading The China Study as we speak. Our requisite protein intake is, indeed, often overstated. But I nevertheless feel more energized and healthy when I’m swapping out at least some starch for protein-packed foods. I’ve decided, then, that this is not one of those areas where I’m going to make a concession just because animal protein isn’t on my grocery list.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to challenge myself to come up with as many low-carb, vegan dishes as I can think of. I find that when I have a good amount of recipes and ideas in my arsenal (and on this site) I’m never at a loss when it comes to my meals.

I started with a simple, mushroom-based dish, atop a bed of mashed cauliflower (a low-carb classic). You can serve this as a side dish, or as a hearty main course along with some green beans and almonds, or with some soy tempeh for protein. There’s something very nostalgic to me about anything in gravy, which is why I imagine this is a great dish for anyone longing for a “classic” American dinner, veganized (and low-carbized), of course!

Protobellos in Gravy:

6 portobello caps (stems removed), dirt removed with a damp cloth, sliced

2 tablespoons soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread, divided

2 tablespoons brown rice flour

2 cups vegetable stock

parsley for serving


1. Heat 1 tablespoon buttery spread in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and saute for 1 minute, until they just begin to moisten and soften. Remove from pan.

2. Melt remaining butter and add flour to the pan. Stir with butter until a crumbly paste forms, then add the broth. Whisk or stir constantly to prevent clumps until the broth begins to thicken and boil.

3. Add back mushrooms and heat for another minute, or until mushrooms are softened. Remove from heat and serve over mashed cauliflower or potatoes or with wide noodles for a Stroganoff knock-off.


Chili Sweet Potato Fries

When my friend Krystal told me she was excited to eat sweet potatoes over the holiday because they’re “not something (she) eats normally,” I knew I had to remedy this situation. Don’t normally eat sweet potatoes? I couldn’t think of a shopping trip where I hadn’t brought at least a pound of them home from the market, mostly to make my favorite dish: baked sweet potato fries (though I think the type she was looking forward to over the holidays was more of the sweet, buttery, marshmallowly variety). I told Krystal how I made these healthy alternatives to fries at home all the time — baked in the oven, making them not only healthy but also oh-so-easy. Then when I considered how often I made them, actually, it struck me as odd that I’d never posted the recipe here. In all honesty, it might have something to do with my pervasive fear that such a simple recipe will at best not impress and at worst insult my readers’ culinary abilities. Then again, I know many people (cough ***my husband*** cough) who need consultation on even the most basic kitchen tasks, and who could use a little gentle coaxing into some easy recipes in the kithen (cough*** my husband*** cough). On top of that, I’ve made it a New Years resolution to showcase more naturally gluten-free, low-maintenance recipes here. Even I, the self-proclaimed cooking enthusiast, could use a break at times from any complication in the kitchen. And to make things less comlicated for all of you, I present to you this recipe — one of my all-time faves — in picture.

Baked Chili Sweet Potato Fries:

1. Start by washing and drying 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes. Then slice them one at a time like this:

2. Make sure to tuck your fingers in like this when slicing, so as not to cut yourself if your knife slips:

3. Then cut your slices into fries by stacking your potato slices (you may want to remove the rounded bottom and slice that separately for better support) and cutting them into sticks like this:

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with remaining sweet potatoes. When you’re done slicing, toss your sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt until evenly coated. Lay flat on a baking sheet.

5. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Toss and lay flat again, then bake for another 15 minutes. If a really crispy fry is desired, you can turn your oven to a high broil for the last five minutes and broil, with your oven door slightly ajar, until sweet potatoes are crispy on top. Watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn.