Amazing Spinach Artichoke Dip

Amazing Spinach Artichoke Dip

Amazing Spinach Artichoke Dip

I wanted to make a vegan Spinach and Artichoke dip because it’s definitely a favorite of Matt’s (if it’s on the menu at a restaurant, he’ll order it. Well, pre-vegan Matt, anyway) and I love it, too. I took a look at some recipes online but none of them seemed as easy and sure-fire delicious to me as I wanted. So, I just made something up. And it was ridiculously amazing. Though I purposely made “a lot” of it, apparently it wasn’t that much because Matt had some for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and soon it was all gone.

Another bonus? Super easy, and not expensive like it usually is at restaurants! I wish I’d gotten a better picture of it, but we just ate it too darn fast. It’s too tasty to last for photographs. It doesn’t take skill or much time, either! I think it probably took me 10 or 15 minutes total, and Matt was stealing bits of it before I’d even finished 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

-1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for using in the pan)
-16 oz. bag of frozen spinach
-8 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 cans of artichoke hearts, pureed in a food processor
-4 TBSP nutritional yeast (adds a saltiness &Vitamin B12!)
-4 TBSP veganaise* (don’t buy the cheaper brands, they just aren’t very good… )
-4 TBSP vegan* cream cheese

(*if you aren’t vegan, use your favorite regular kinds)

-Fry the minced garlic in the olive oil over medium heat as you add the pureed artichoke and frozen bag of spinach. Stir on occasion until everything is well mixed and the spinach is no longer frozen.
-Add the nutritional yeast, veganaise, and vegan cream cheese. Stir well.
-Return the entire mixture to a food processor or blender and pureed to your liking. Serve warm, and watch it disappear!

Continue reading


Pumpkin Raisin Bread

I’ve been trying to do more and more reading about veganism: nutritionally and otherwise; so that I can hopefully only grow more committed and excited about what we’re eating (and doing) – but also so that we can be sure to raise Eden healthfully as her needs change as she grows and to be able to adjust to this new way of life. One of the books I read recently is called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids. They cover a lot of ground quickly in the book, and include some recipes. Since we go grocery shopping on Fridays and have completely run out of breakfast options (we usually have a fruit-spinach smoothie or oatmeal with nuts and raisins), I decided to try a recipe I had noticed in it that sounded quite good to me and like it required ingredients that we already had. I am often put off by the use of lots of sugar, oil, and white flour in a lot of vegan recipes, so I once again adapted it to suit my preference for a healthier item.

Super delicious. Definitely a yummy bread!

After mixing all the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have a 9×5 bread pan (WOOPS!), so I used two small loaf pans. Not really that great for bread, especially since it forces major muffin top -but  it turned out so well that I thought of our friends who had a baby earlier this week and whom I’ve been meaning to bring some food over for… So Matt and Eden tasted our loaf first, and both enjoyed it; Matt said it does pass the wow-your-friends test rather than making a non-vegan consume it and think “gosh, why would anyone be vegan!?” so we figured we’d drop it off for them. However, upon returning home, I realized that we only had about 1/8th of our little loaf left because Eden adored it so much. Ha! I have a feeling we’ll be making this again…

Ahh the gift of bread.

Hawley’s Adaptation of Pumpkin Raisin Bread


  • Egg replacer for 2 eggs (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/3 cup rice or soy milk
  • 1/4 cup canola or other light vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • walnuts for putting on top, if you like


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or coat a 9×5″ metal bread loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine all but one cup of the flour and the raisins, stirring as you go. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat for 2 minutes or until well blended.
  • Add remaining cup of flour and raisins, stir briefly. Pour batter into pan, trying to avoid batter dripping.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.

Quickly Disappearing...

Vegan Chocolate Chip….

I'd bet no one would taste this and have any other thought than "Ohhhh yeeeah"

Muffins? Mmmm pretty sure I’d say they’re basically cupcakes. Or just really delicious and delightful muffins, that seem to surpass the amount of enjoyment one is supposed to have from consuming it. Whatever you call them, they’re freaking good. And easy! I think the only challenge in our house is keeping them around and not having my toddler throw mini tantrums wanting more. She clearly is a big fan, to put it one way.

Anywho, I figured I’d share my adaptation of Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins, adapted with a combination of this vegan remake by Sarah and it’s non-vegan original, by Nigella Lawson. Essentially, I wanted it to be vegan but still really moist, a little bit healthier, still sweet, and still low on oil.

That bird got close for it's bird's eye view

Here’s what I did – I’m sure I’ll be doing it again, because it came out deliciously fluffy and yummy, with a crisp outside. Absolutely perfect.

MMMMmmmmmm yum.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffin-Cupcakes (?!?)


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + 3/4 cup all purpose flour OR 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup maple syrup (you might also substitute agave nectar or just use less refined sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 TBSP egg replacer + 3 TBSP oil (or any egg replacement equivalent to 1 egg)


  • Mix dry ingredients first, then add wet ingredients.
  • Stir until well combined.
  • Pour into 12 muffin cups. (I used silicone reusable wrappers and had no problem)

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool, and try not to eat them all at once.

Portobello Fajitas

Close up as I was finishing sautéing the fajita "meat"

I don’t think of myself as a chef, and didn’t expect to share any recipes with you that I made up myself… but I did make something yesterday that resulted in yesterday’s lunch. Then dinner. And lunch again, today. And I enjoyed it every single time. So, I figure hey. Maybe the little guys out there like me might like this, as well, despite my lack of culinary expertise or prowess. I do have a good ability to eat, and I like tasty foods. So, hopefully that lends itself fairly well to simple recipes? And hey. If I can make it and enjoy it without much worry, mess, or time then surely YOU can make an easy and delicious dinner out of it, too! 🙂

Anywho, I wanted to make a vegan portobello fajita that would be fast, easy, delicious, and nutritious! So here’s what I did.

Couldn't wait to eat it before I shot a pic. So, I unraveled it to show you the insides 🙂

Takes about 20-30 minutes. Serves about 6. (Confession: If you aren’t vegan, well… I have to admit that shredded mexican cheese would probably taste pretty fantastic with this, but I’m not going to talk about that! haha)


  • 6 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • Olive oil to your preference for sautéing
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (or to your preference for heat)
  • 6 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • salsa for topping
  • fresh lime, for squeezing overtop (I didn’t have this on hand but I think that would be DIVINE!)


  • Prepare the vegetables first: Wash and slice the portobello mushrooms into long strips. Slice the onion into moon shapes (rather than chopping or dicing). Wash and slice the red pepper, either into long, thin strips or chopped pieces. Chop cilantro and mince the jalapeno & garlic, setting them aside in separate containers.
  • Place the mushrooms and onions in a large frying pan or skillet with some oil and let cook until the mushrooms approach tenderness. Add the garlic, chili pepper and paprika and let cook some more.
  • Once the mushrooms and onions are sautéed to your liking, add the cilantro and jalapeno, and mix.
  • Warm your tortillas. I did this by microwaving them for 15 minutes on a plate, individually.
  • Serve some of your vegetable mixture onto each tortilla and add salsa, lime and extra cilantro if you like; Enjoy!

It’s absurdly easy and also tastes great when you warm up leftovers!

Marinated Kale Salad

I’ve already shared this with some friends because it’s so good that it’d be selfish not to share it. One morning I just felt kind of weak (due to pregnancy, no doubt, but more precisely why? I’m not sure) and had breakfast… and suddenly felt like I NEEDED to eat this kale salad. So, I did. At 9:30 am, I already had onion breath. But it was kind of incredible how quickly it made me feel better. I think this salad is like a miracle salad! It’s absurdly easy to make (the hardest part is washing the kale and de-stalking it if you didn’t buy it bagged) and has made me feel better whenever I’ve eaten it. If I wasn’t feeling sort of “off” or badly when I ate it, I just felt great afterwards.

Eat More Kale is a phrase hailing from Vermont. To read more about it, visit:

It’s packed with nutrients since it’s raw, and kale is a definite “super food” (I don’t want to blabber on and on about nutrients since there are a lot I could mention, but look it up if you’re curious!) so it’s always great to be able to get more kale in your diet! In fact, I read in a book about veganism about how misled most people are about nutrition, thinking of specific and singular items as good sources of vitamins/minerals… Like saying “To get your calcium, drink milk! To get protein, eat meat!” as if they are the only sources of those nutrients. The author said something to the effect that no one really says “To get your calcium, eat Kale!” but they very well could. In my not-so-serious dreams, I’d like to make a t-shirt that says something like “Fighting cancer? Kale tastes better than chemo!” but that probably wouldn’t be very well-received, despite kale’s “potent anti-cancer properties.”

But can I say again how easy it is to make? And like the best of recipes, there is room to fudge: you can definitely add to or adapt this recipe as you see fit. However, I’ve liked it so much that I figure why mess with a good thing? And despite having made it multiple times, I have yet to really change it. I’d estimate that this recipe (including prep time and marinating time) takes about 15 to 20 minutes, but it can sit for a few days in the fridge to be at the ready for devouring 🙂

I would like to present to you the Marinated Kale Salad compliments of VegNews.

The only key thing to remember about this recipe is that you want to allow 10 minutes for the marinade to work it’s magic – allowing the flavors to blend, and the kale to be tenderized. You’ll notice that the very fluffy, rough kale will become more manageable once this has occurred. The amounts of veggies in particular is quite flexible, and you can definitely add or subtract. I think I used a good bit more mushrooms… but I do not suggest upping the kale because when it’s raw, it has a lot of volume – but in our family, anyway, more avocado would be gladly received.

One of the MANY times I have made & enjoyed this salad.

Marinated Kale Salad


  • 1 bunch fresh kale, de-stemmed (unless you use pre-bagged/pre-chopped kale – I’ve found it’s fine)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (shiitake or brown)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup flax-seed oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Tamari (to taste) – or soy sauce, shoyu, anything along those lines


  1. Tear kale into small, bite-size pieces and toss with all of the vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. Pour liquids over veggies and mix. Wait 10 minutes before consuming to allow the kale to tenderize and flavors to be soaked up.

Awesome Vegan Pizza

Guilt-Free Super Easy Vegan Pizza!

I’ve already made this recipe at least four times in probably the period of a month or less, and begun adapting it to use different toppings… I want to get more creative with “themes” for the pizzas (like mediterranean or spicy or maybe fake meat – who knows?!) and would love to hear if some of you end up making this recipe, especially if you adapt it to suit your tastes! I think the best thing about it is that is SO so easy, not expensive, and quick. Especially if you prepare the toppings in advance. WHAM! It’s on the table in no time, and that’s always a wonderful attribute to a tasty recipe!

Avocados are great toppings to add after baking.

And really, even vegans love pizza. Right?

Baking two personal pizzas.

Here’s a link to the original recipe, from Marcus Samuelsson, and below the basics of the recipe with adaptations from me. As always, adapt it further to suit your own preferences/needs as you see fit:

Easy, Vegan Tortilla Pizzas

Prepare your toppings & cheesy sauce, bake & start eating within 15 minutes! Great for singles as well as families who want to let their kids pick out their own toppings. Such a versatile recipe & great way to enjoy leftover veggies!


4 whole-wheat tortillas
2 sweet red pepper chopped into large chunks
1/2 onion finely sliced
approx. 8-10 sliced mushrooms
small handful spinach leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste/puree
1 tbsp chopped jalapeno peppers

(other ideas for toppings: cilantro, arugala, pine nuts, tomatoes, basil/pesto, capers, garlic, or avocado added after it is cooked… anything you like really. Don’t be shy!)

for the ‘cheese’

1/2 cup hummus
1 tbsp tahini
juice 1/2 lemon
black pepper (to taste) & water as you desire (I prefer a more drizzled cheese substitute than a thick, clumpy one)


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

Turn over a baking sheet and leave it in the oven to heat while you go about assembling your toppings and preparing the cheese substitute in a separate bowl. Once they are ready, remove the baking sheet and place two tortillas side by side on it. (The original chef recommends using two, one on top of the other, per pizza – but I actually prefer just the one. It’s a bit crispier and allows for more pizzas! If you want to make it more filling, use two per pizza.) If you’re using a non-stick baking sheet, this works well – but if not, you may want to use flour or foil to keep the tortillas from sticking or burning.

Spread the tomato puree onto each tortilla with the back of spoon leaving a gap around the edge of the pizza. I recommend putting down the greens (whether that’s spinach, cilantro or otherwise) first, then the pepper chunks and mushrooms, then the onions, and lastly the cheese and any small toppings like added nuts or spices. I’ve found that the ingredients stay on the pizza better that way and look prettier, too!

I bake them for 6 minutes, but depending on your oven and personal preferences, you may want to bake  them for 8 to 10 minutes or more. Cut into quarters and enjoy!

A bit messy to eat, but totally delicious! (photo taken before baking)

Pan-Fried Tofu & Greens with Almond Ginger Drizzle (aka “Bathing Rama”)

This recipe comes from a wonderful cookbook intended for the whole family, which is a great resource for healthful meals (with meat and dairy included in some of the recipes, mind you – it’s not a vegan cookbook but does have a good number of vegan recipes) for parents of young toddlers and children. It’s called “Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents

Page One: Ingredients & Some Directions (Sorry it's a bit fuzzy)

Page Two: Final Instructions

This delicious recipe from Feeding the Whole Family was so much easier than I anticipated (and tasty, to boot) that I made it twice in one week. Despite much of that week being spent in the hospital caring for my toddler. It was that good, and as long as you prepare the marinated tofu in advance, that fast and easy!

Round One: Big Fried Tofu Pieces on Collard Greens with Soba

Round Two! This time I used spinach instead of collard greens, and sliced the tofu into smaller and more identical triangles.

I hope you’ll try it and love it as much as I did. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even make it twice in one week! 🙂

Keys to a Good Recipe

Recently, I’ve come to a few conclusions about what makes a good recipe in my (figurative) book. I thought I’d share with you some of these basics, so that you might be encouraged to share some with me that you think fit a good number of the criterion and so that you know why I’m sharing them here. Occasionally I revamp a recipe based on what I want to use or what I have on hand so that I don’t have to go to the store or buy a singular ingredient that I’m unlikely to use again in the near future, but most of the time, I assume I’ll be sharing recipes from other sources. I don’t think I’m a chef. I’m just someone who wants to live healthily for a long time with as few medical issues as possible, while enjoying delicious meals and not having to work all that hard to achieve these delectable delights. I’m not trying to be someone or present myself as the creator of these recipes. I just want to share goodness!

My keys to a good recipe: 

1) It doesn’t use animal products. (Or I can adapt it to be animal-product free, like substituting Butler’s Soy Curls for chicken, for example.)

2) Ideally, it doesn’t take longer than about 30 minutes. I will never cook anything that takes longer than an hour (unless that’s just accounting for a marinade or you’re using a crock pot).

3) It tastes delicious and would be worthy of serving to guests. Generally, I judge this based on whether or not my husband goes back for seconds. Or better yet, thirds and fourths. If leftovers are fought over, I take that as a good sign.

4) It does a body good. It should use whole grains, natural ingredients, and ideally avoid refined sugar or at least only use minimal amounts of it. However, I’ve got a mouth full of sweet-tooths, so… sugar is somewhat negotiable. I do not use white flour – the closest I’ll go is “white-whole-wheat flour“.

5) I feel good when I eat it, and I want to make it again.

Of course, I’m not big on rules but these are the guidelines I try to follow and will try my best to keep on this blog. Since I’ve been so obsessed with food lately, my Instagram account has been replete with images of food I have enjoyed at home lately. I feel silly being so obsessed with food, but IT’S SO GOOD. I kind of can’t help it. As a result, friends have been asking me for the recipes and I figured this would be an easy forum to share them. I started out making note of recipes to rewrite and store in my family recipe binder so that we’ll make them over and over again. Now, I’ll be using this blog similarly – and you can share with me in enjoying these great recipes. May we enjoy good health and may our taste buds rejoice.

From Vegetarians to Meat Eaters to Vegans!

This is the tale of how our eating has evolved, and why. It’s about the permutations of thought, the pursuit of good health, and best of all, the adoration of delicious meals. What I share with you below is a sort of testimony as to why my husband and I now aspire to be vegan and how we got here. 

[DISCLAIMER: This should be the longest post on the blog, explaining the back story.  I will surely write about things other than recipes from time to time, but hopefully they will be much more brief.]

My husband and I met over 11 years ago, in France. It’s a romantic story, but not the one I want to tell here. When we met, we were both vegetarians. I loved vegetables and had never really eaten much meat since I became a vegetarian when I was only 10 years old after seeing a movie about animal cruelty and crying my eyes out. My doctors were fine with it, and I was perfectly healthy… When we started dating seven years later, we were both eating meat. We had grown tired of not being able to eat whatever was offered to us, of having to place special orders, and what can I say? My husband LOVES bacon. I did, too. He makes amazing bacon-grease fried tacos. Can’t lie.

We were happily wed, and blissfully eating whatever we pleased. We ate out frequently, I ate a lot of pizza as a youth minister, and we generally didn’t think much about our food. Sure, we debated over menus and drooled whenever we smelled the mexican food cooking from our favorite restaurant (inconveniently located just a block away from our tiny shoebox of an apartment in downtown DC)… but our thoughts were primarily based upon what would taste best.

I thought of myself as a healthy person. I had been vegetarian for 10 years, and I loved veggies. I thought milk was good because it gave me calcium, and always tried to get my mother to drink more of it. Not the usual kid, I guess. My parents were interested in nutrition, but as much as my dad would talk about the benefits of vitamins and whatnot… the random bags from McDonald’s or a candy wrapper I’d find in his car seemed to take away from his presentation of seeking good health. I don’t blame him for that. I definitely take after him, and Matt reminds me that randomly having terrible foods for you is still terrible. Even if it’s less frequent than the average joe’s consumption.

While I was pregnant with our first child, we took a fantastic natural birth class which did wonderfully to prepare us for labor (it’s called the Bradley Method). To their credit, they also include teachings on nutrition during pregnancy. However, I think the information they share is sadly outdated and mistaken. Despite following many of their recommendations, I did have to laugh out loud when we discussed ways to make sure we got our necessary daily requirement of butter. I couldn’t believe they weren’t joking.

After giving birth to our daughter, we were elated to have successfully had an all natural, vaginal birth in a hospital. But I felt huge, and my body felt like a giant blob that was somewhat out of control. We went to the wedding of two of our friends only four weeks later, and I felt like I couldn’t dance; as if I were a squid trying to stand on my legs. As the months passed, I grew more and more tired of this peculiar feeling of not fitting into my body. I wanted to lose the baby weight. I didn’t want it to take years, and I didn’t want to do it by eating LESS bad food. I wanted to learn about proper nutrition and lose weight healthily.

Thanks to google, I purchased the book Eat to Live, by Dr. Fuhrman. My husband made fun of me as I ate some raw cookie dough while reading about nutrition… but it hadn’t yet sunk in yet, and perhaps some of me knew that this was going to change the way I consumed food. And part of me didn’t want to change. I love cookie dough! But this book enchanted me. It was factual, compelling, and not ashamed. It didn’t just blindly tell me what was “bad” for me (which really translates to “when you eat this, feel guilty”) and what was “good” for me (what you OUGHT to be eating, and ought is never a fun word to hear)… He was pretty in-your-face, and at one time even compared eating these poisonous substances allowed in food (like hydrogenated oils) to going into an alleyway to shoot up with some heroine. He said that it’s your choice, but don’t be delusional and think it’s anything better than that. You’re essentially doing drugs.

This shocked me. In a way that I very much believe I needed, even wanted, to be shocked. I didn’t want to just pour on the guilt or irrationally limit myself to “fist sized portions”. I have small hands. Does that mean I get to eat less? And why the size of a fist? How is a fist of ice cream about as good as a fist of broccoli? I wanted a fist in my FACE, from the frustration of years of meaningless formulas and judgement. My mother wanted me to lose weight to be prettier, for her sake as well as my own; my dad wanted us to be healthy, but would gladly indulge in anything delicious and bad for you if it was readily available. I love them both, and owe them much credit to having started me on a healthy path… but none of us are perfect, and I think I got confusing messages from them about what it meant to be healthy. This book wasn’t confusing. It opened my eyes.

And I quickly, healthily, lost weight and began to feel fantastic. I did Dr. Fuhrman’s intensive six-week weight loss plan (while breastfeeding!), which was almost more of a challenge than a diet. Eat as many vegetables and fruits as you possibly can, in part by eliminating unhealthy things you would otherwise use to fill up your stomach. I lost about 30 pounds thanks to eating well, and realized that I was pursuing optimum nutrition. My husband did it with me after reading the book, and also lost some weight – though not as much. I blame it on the amount of raw cashews he enjoyed daily 😉 But really, I’m sure it was because he was much closer to a healthy weight than I had been. I now weighed less than I had before I got pregnant. It was a pleasant surprise to me.

But I was admittedly really happy when those six weeks were over. I hadn’t been creative about how to make what I could eat delicious. I’d make nice salads, but I didn’t have dressing because you can’t have oil on the diet. There are ways to make fantastic dressings without any oil, but I didn’t make them. So I happily enjoyed meat from time to time after that, enjoying cheese and flexibility.

As friends began to read this book too, the ripple of my pursuit of health and contented-ness in my own body seemed to influence others. It was exciting. One friend, Brin, who also read and was moved by Eat to Live, highly suggested that I follow it up by reading Eating Animals by Jonathan SafranFoer. She went from being a big meat and cheese person to eating a vegan diet and encouraging her family to do the same. (She now writes about “matters of food and faith“) Though I liked eating meat, I decided I ought to at least give it a try.

I was happily surprised by how creatively written and personable the book revealed itself to be, and appreciated the evolution of factual information paired with personal testimonies from people with varying views. It wasn’t as one-sided as I had expected, but it was definitely a bit traumatizing to learn about factory farming in-depth. I found that I couldn’t read it before bed anymore… but I still really wanted to read it, and felt like I needed to. My husband, Matt, read it also. I think the most powerful conclusion I took from reading this book (after Eat to Live), was that the only reason remaining for me to eat meat/dairy/fish was for taste or sheer laziness. After all I’d learned about the disastrous effects of trolling the ocean for fish and killing such a tremendous magnitude of sea creatures to produce a comparatively minuscule “catch”, I couldn’t really justify my love of sushi. Is a momentary bite of decadence worth brutally damaging our biodiversity? Essentially, his ethical and environmental reasons behind not consuming animal products compelled me deeply.

It has been just over a year since Matt and I did our intensive six diet. This New Year, instead of trying out a temporary diet, we decided to try to make a permanent life change and see how it goes. We decided to see what it would be like to be vegan. Could we really do it? We know we fail, and we have learned all too easily that animal products are used in almost everything. It tends to cost more to buy the few options that don’t have casein, butter, eggs, or milk in them… But we were compelled more by our convictions than our pathetic bank accounts.

I used to think that vegans were silly, in a way. Surely, they were misguided for thinking it was a healthier lifestyle. It seemed so unnecessarily complicated to me. So uninviting, so limiting, so narrow. I thought vegans were just trying to be counter-cultural. To stick it to the man, as it were, with food. In fact, I even told a co-worker when I was a barista and drank all the free milk and fancy lattes I wanted, that I knew God didn’t want me to be vegan because I loved cheese too much, milk was so good and my body responded so well to it!

But I had never lived without milk. How did I know? I was shocked when I stopped consuming milk and noticed that I could sing more easily. My voice would soar over high notes when just a few weeks prior, I would have had a hard time reaching it. I had never experienced life without dairy. In the same way that I thought it was silly when people told me they could “never live without meat” while I was vegetarian and knew they surely could if they wanted to try, I began to realize that maybe I had been just as closed-minded about being vegan. I was judging something I’d never tried before.

As the information piled up, Matt and I were more and more moved towards veganism. The big kicker for us was watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” After seeing that, we knew we had gone too far and couldn’t go back. We were in a new land, and we were surprised to find that we were rather happy about it.

We feel fantastic, and in the past year, I have noticed my ability and interest in cooking as well as baking skyrocket. Learning to cook vegan meals and trying to use less oil, salt, and refined sugars has been a bit like learning a new language. But I’ve found that our food is actually tasting better: both because taste buds have grown more sensitive now that we aren’t relying on excess salt, fat and sugar to appease them as well as because we’re making great recipes. I don’t see things as “off limits”, instead finding vegan variations or adapting recipes to be healthier (like using whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour). For example, I want to try making vegan homemade Bailey’s, and have already made vegan mac n’ cheese and vegan pizzas.  I never thought of myself as a cook, but now I find that I actually kind of miss it when Matt cooks for us. It’s an exciting new adventure, and being able to eat meals and desserts without any guilt or portion limitation while feeling fantastic, looking better than I have in years, and not having to worry about a scale has been exhilarating.

We refer to ourselves as “aspiring vegans” now, because although we do want to be vegan, I think it’s a striving process: a continuing evolution that shouldn’t be more about my identity than it is about eating for optimum nutrition and enjoyment. We aspire to be vegan because we know that unfortunately, we will fail sometimes. And maybe, just to be polite or out of ignorance, we’ll allow a little animal product to enter our bodies. We anticipate some failure, but strive to attain our goal. And so far, it’s been a delicious one.

I decided to start this blog because my interest in food has become an obsession of sorts. (Yes, I am currently pregnant, and that certainly adds to this fascination) As I share more about what I learn about food, health, and awesome recipes, I find that using my family centric blog probably isn’t as logical.

So my goal for this blog isn’t to be preachy, overly informative, or wordy. I mostly want to share my enthusiasm and adoration of food with you, as well as having an easy format for sharing my favorite recipes. If it’s too complicated or takes too long, I don’t find it very enjoyable. I prefer simple, nutrient-dense, delicious recipes and these are the sorts of things I will share here from many different sources and I hope you (and your families!) will enjoy them, too. I won’t share anything I haven’t made (and adored!) myself, and I’ll try to always include a picture of how it turned out.