easy weeknight meal: sweet potatoes with cheesy pistachio dust (vegan, gluten free)

 

As a food blogger, it can be tempting for me to post oodles of complicated, fancy recipes that have a big wow factor. Because those are the things that get a lot of splash and attention.

But, that’s not reality.

As a mom of four and business owner two times over, I don’t have time most days for complicated and fancy. I’m guessing you don’t either.

Which is why I’m sharing more of a meal idea than a “recipe” with you today. It’s an easy weeknight meal that is uncomplicated, but tasty. Simple, but satisfying. Light on ingredients but packed with the nutrients your body needs to fuel itself for all the things you do.

That’s the beauty of an easy weeknight meal, isn’t it?

First we start with a sweet potato. Packed with vitamins, fiber, potassium, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods. I like to prepare them either by baking them whole or cutting them in half and placing cut side down on a baking sheet to get a be-you-ti-ful carmelization, like you see with the sweet potatoes in the picture above.

Next comes a side of salad. Here’s where you can find the dressing and basic to a chop salad that frequently makes an appearance on our table. It’s one the kids like, especially since I let them customize their toppings. Just ignore the picture…clearly, I’ve been working on my photography skills.

To amp up the protein and keep this meal from being ho-hum, I whipped up and added some cheesy pistachio dust (dairy free, of course) to both the potato and the salad. You’ll find the recipe for that below.

 

 

If you’re pressed for time during the week, you can prep much of this meal ahead of time over the weekend by pre-baking the sweet potatoes and mixing up the pistachio dust and salad dressing. I don’t recommend prepping the veggies ahead (unless you’re having them the next day) since they start to lose some of their nutrients after being cut. Instead, chop them up while you’re warming the sweet potatoes (I always do this in the oven, as I ixnayed the microwave for food years ago).

So there you have it! An easy weeknight meal that can be partially prepped ahead of time or simple enough to come together even in a pinch.

 

vegan nut Parmesan

A trio of nut Parmesans to get your cheese fix even without the dairy.

Course: Topping
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Pecan Parmesan
  • 1 c. pecans, toasted
  • 4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 3 tsp. avocado or olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
Cashew Parmesan
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 8 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp avocado or olive oil
Pistachio Parmesan
  • 1 c shelled pistachios
  • 9 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp avocado or olive oil
Instructions
  1. For each Parmesan (separately)...add the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse or mix until the nuts are finely chopped. Do not over mix or the nuts will begin to release their oils and stick together.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

 

 

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  • Click here for my favorite food processor for the cheesy pistachio dust

new year’s Q&A

 

Since it’s the new year and I’ve had many new readers join me here, I thought it would be fun to share more about me and why I started eating a plant-based diet plus I’ll answer a few of the questions I get asked most often.

Before we dive into that, if you missed it last week and are looking to refresh your diet this year, you won’t want to miss what I shared in this post.

 

All right, now for the Q&A…

How long have you been eating a plant-based diet? Since May 2012

What caused you to make the switch? My dad was diagnosed with extensive heart disease. We were all shocked, although we shouldn’t have been given his family history. He was hoping to avoid surgery by going to an extremely low fat, plant-based diet and I wanted to support him. Also, my own cholesterol numbers weren’t the greatest – a fact I’d chosen to ignore since my 20’s. Although my dad ultimately needed surgery because of the severity of his blockages, I found that I loved eating this way and never looked back!

Why do you love it? I feel so much healthier – less fatigued, lighter (I literally lost weight), natural color came back to my skin and I find I appreciate the taste of food more now that I don’t have animal fats coating my taste buds.

Does your family eat this way? Sort of. They definitely eat a larger percentage of plant-based foods and meals, but also have meat and dairy several times a week. As much as I’d love them to go “all in,” I’ve learned that I can’t force it and try to do my best to make plant-based recipes they enjoy.

Does that mean you’re cooking two meals for every meal? Not at all! That would be exhausting. LOL I may do this occasionally, but most of the time I can cook meals that are easily customized to our tastes (like pizza) or I just “beef up” on the veggies while they have meat.

Why the term plant-based? This can be tricky. While “vegan” is the simpler and more common term, it often implies a lifestyle, not just a diet choice. I made this choice for my health and not as an animal rights activist, although I feel strongly that our food system is incredibly broken, especially in how it treats animals designated for food.

So do you only eat plants 100% of the time? No. I’d be lying if I said 100%. It’s more like 98-99%. Occasionally, I will have a bit of meat, especially if I’m on a mission trip, or can’t resist the goldfish crackers my children love. LOL Since I do this for my health, I’m not opposed to the rare bite of non-vegan foods.

 

What’s the hardest thing about sticking to a plant-based diet? Social situations. I believe eating is as much a social thing as it is about staying alive, so for anyone who switches to a diet that is largely different than what others are eating, it can feel awkward and frustrating. Thankfully, there are several ways to navigate these social situations (e.g. restaurants, potlucks, friend/family dinners etc.) and it’s even opened up opportunities to share about the benefits of plant-based eating with others.

What’s your number one tip for going plant-based? Stick with it. Making a change in diet is tough and it can take awhile for your taste buds to adjust and to find recipes you genuinely love to eat. For the first three months of going plant-based, I had to re-learn how to cook and was brought to tears many times out of frustration. But I found that because I felt so much better, I was motivated to keep going and finally got my groove back in the kitchen.

 

 

ready for a refresh? you’ll want this 7-day plant-based meal plan!

 

Can you believe it’s almost the new year?!!

It’s funny, but I almost wish this time between Christmas and New Year’s was a little bit longer. I love reflecting on the past year and thinking about the one ahead. Do you?

If kicking off 2018 with a renewed commitment to eat healthier is something that’s been in your mind (or if you just want your meals planned out for an entire week #wink), then I have just the thing for you…a seven day plant-based meal plan!

I’ve gathered some of my favorite recipes into a downloadable recipe book that will give you breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for seven days. The apple cabbage slaw is one of the recipes featured in the recipe book and is from my Perk Up Your Pantry – Fall edition recipe ebook. I’ve also included a suggested meal plan chart so you can see how I recommend pulling these together along with several of my meal planning and prepping tips.

You can start this seven day refresh on any day of the week, but, personally, I recommend starting on a Monday.

Why?

  • As the start of the typical work week we’re already in the “fresh start” mindset, similar to what happens at the beginning of every new year and we can harness that anticipation to fuel our motivation.
  • Having a set routine (which our work weeks are better at providing than our weekends), is helpful when starting something new. That way you’re not having to use up as much mental energy to figure out how a new(ish) eating plan will fit with your day.
  • It gives you an entire week to build up success before the weekend hits where there may be more temptations to go off-plan.
  • You have the weekend before you start to do your prepping which is essential to staying on track, especially if you work.

Ready to start? Click this link to sign up to receive your free seven day plant-based meal plan and recipe book delivered straight to your inbox.