Semi Homemade Plant-Based Pizza

Well hi there! It's me, Lauren...your long lost zucchini loving friend. It's been a few months since I have popped in to share a recipe (and say hi). If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably a little more in the loop with what I have been up to. Which let's be honest...still includes lots of smoothies, avocados, and house plants. I have been traveling a lot more lately so my weekends haven't been as free to create recipes and work on the blog. This little blog hiatus has been both good and bad. 

Good because it has taken the pressure off of feeling like I need to have a post up at least once a week. Good because I have been focusing on work and hanging out with my hubs, friends, and family. Good because I haven't been glued to my kitchen and on my computer during the weekends since that is my only time to work on blog stuff. 

Bad because I feel pressure that I need to have a post up at least once a week. Bad because I haven't been glued to my kitchen on the weekends. Bad because my creative juices just haven't been flowing as freely lately. There have been many days where I have a slight panicky feeling like CRAP....I need to make something for the blog. Silly, I know. But it is what it is. 

I have actually had this recipe ready to go since January. But hey, at least I'm posting it now, amirite?! I hope you can understand my little hiatus and open your (vegan) pizza loving hearts to welcome me back :) 

But you came here to talk about pizza....SO LET'S TALK PIZZA! 

I've had a hard core crush on pizza lately. We live within walking distance to a really delicious pizza place and I just don't seem to get sick of it (Harvest Pizzeria...I love you so hard). I think I could seriously eat it every day. But let's be honest, that might not be the smartest thing for my wallet or my waistline. Let me also just point out that I am the most annoying person ever when I order pizza. "I'd like the chopped salad, no meat, no cheese...oh and can half the greens be kale (I saw you had it on the menu)....and I'll take the veggie pizza, no cheese, extra veggies, definitely extra mushrooms, add arugula". Ugh...like how annoying am I?! Don't answer that. 

Scott traveled A LOT in January and February for work so I spent a lot of with my girlfriends. One night we decided to do a pizza night! All of us are "planty" eaters so we made the pizzas vegan. Vegan (aka cheese-less) pizza might sound like THE worst thing ever to you. Isn't cheese the best part of pizza?! No...it's not. Hear me out. 

There are 3 things that make a pizza really good. Crust, sauce, and fresh veggie toppings. My favorite pizza places do all of those exceptionally well and I wanted to do it just as well at home. 

This semi-homemade pizza = game changer. 

The crust, the basil pesto, the veggies...I DIE (insert heart eye emoji). I initially had intentions of making my own crust but I ran out of time and perused the frozen isle for dough. I tried this (new to me) dough which is wheat, gluten, and dairy free. I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. I mean...wheat, dairy, and gluten free? I was taking a chance with this one. But guess what - it turned out delicious! I have bought it many times since for pizza night. The other really awesome (new to me) find was this fresh basil pesto that happens to be vegan! HOLY YUM. I found both of these products at Whole Foods, but feel free to use whatever crust and pesto you want. Having said that, I strongly advise not skipping pesto. If you are doing a cheese-less pizza, the pesto is everything. It gives the pizza a huge flavor punch. Pesto in general is just a huge win. Side note: If you are looking to make your own pesto, check out my recipe for Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto!  

I hope you enjoy this pizza as much as I do! 

Semi-Homemade Vegan Pizza

|Makes one 9" pizza|

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen pizza dough (here is the brand I used)
  • 2-3 Tbsp vegan pesto + more for topping and to taste (about 5 Tbsp total)
  • 1/2- 1 cup cup vegetable marinara sauce
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 (8oz) package white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno (if desired)
  • 1 cup fresh arugula + more as desired
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

Instructions

  1. Thaw crust then roll out into a ~9" circle (or follow package instructions). 
  2. Spoon 2-3 Tbsp pesto into the crust. Then spread marinara sauce on top, blending together with the back of a spoon. 
  3. Chop veggies and arrange on top of pizza. 
  4. Top with additional pesto (optional but highly recommended!). I put multiple dollops all over. 
  5. Bake pizza according to package instructions (mine took about 15 minutes) or until golden brown. Top with fresh arugula and nutritional yeast. 
  6. Enjoy!

Notes

*Feel free to use whatever toppings you like. The more veggies, the better!

 

xoxo,

Lauren

 

 

 

Lemon Potato Leek Soup with Toasted Hazelnuts

Well folks, it is officially soup season (but honestly, when isn't it?!).  I don't know about you, but here in Columbus we have had some frigid temps this week (wind chills below zero...umm no thanks). These temps make me want to live in slippers and flannel with a blanket wrapped around me at all times. Preferably on my couch. With cookies baking in the oven. And hot chocolate. Lots of hot chocolate. 

The cold weather also makes me crave soup! My love affair with soup is so strong right now. I just want to cozy up to a big bowl of hot, nourishing, warming soup. And that's exactly what I have been doing.  

I made this soup last weekend and have been eating it every day since. It is incredibly comforting (hiiiiiii potatoes!) but also light and refreshing. This was my first time adding lemon zest to a soup and I'll be honest with you....it is life changing.

One of my brothers got me the cookbook Near & Far by Heidi Swanson for Christmas and it has quickly become one of my new favorite cookbooks. The recipe for this soup is very closely based off of her "Leek Soup" recipe. I only made a few small tweaks to mine. When I was browsing through her cookbook, the leek soup stood out largely because of the lemon zest. It really intrigued me. And for good reason. MAN, is it good! 

The broth is really the star of the show here. I love the combo of coconut milk and vegetable broth as the base and have used that combo often in other recipes. BUT THE LEMON ZEST. The zest takes it up like 3,487 notches. It provides just the right amount of brightness to this soup. 

The other show-stopper in this soup is the toasted hazelnuts. Do not skip the toasted hazelnuts. I repeat, DO NOT skip the toasted hazelnuts. Want to make your home smell like absolute heaven? Toast some hazelnuts. Adding the nuts to this soup is the icing on the cake. It is the perfect balance for such a light and bright soup. I'm thinking I should probably stop buying candles for our house and just make toasted nuts all the time. Just saying. 

OK - now go warm yourself up with a big bowl of this soup...what are you waiting for?!

 

Lemon Potato Leek Soup with Toasted Hazelnuts

Inspired and closely based off the "Leek Soup" recipe from the cookbook "Near & Far" by Heidi Swanson

|Serves 6-8|

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, chopped
  • Zest of 2 large lemons
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans
  • 3 small - medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 small-medium cauliflower head)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • Chives, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to a large soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in the leeks and saute until the leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the lemon zest, wait another 2 minutes, then add the vegetable broth and water. Bring to a simmer. 
  3. Stir in the coconut milk, rice, beans, potatoes, and cauliflower. Bring back up to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked. 
  4. Meanwhile, place chopped hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 300 (F) for about 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown and toasty. 
  5. Serve soup topped with toasted hazelnuts, chives, and additional lemon zest (if desired) and enjoy!

Notes*

  • This soup makes a LOT. I have been packing it in my lunches everyday this week and have more than enough, but feel free to half the recipe for a smaller batch :)

xoxo,

Lauren

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo (Vegan)

RECIPE MAKEOVERS. They are my fav. I get a weird satisfaction out of making something that is traditionally "unhealthy" into something that's a fraction of the calories and (the not-so-good-for-you) fat while also loaded with plant-based nutrition. And still delicious. That's a MUST. 

I am not someone who counts my own calories at all - I care more about nutrient density...however, I am a Dietitian. And most of my clients come to me because they want to lose weight. And they want this weight loss to be a lifestyle change. And in order for it to be a lifestyle change, food needs to be enjoyable. So my job is to help them find realistic, healthy changes that (hopefully) become enjoyable habits. One of my favorite ways to do this is to take a client's favorite "unhealthy" foods and find a much healthier alternative. If you love fettuccine Alfredo, I want you to eat fettuccine Alfredo. But maybe we can make it better?? Maybe we can make a better version that doesn't leave you feeling like a bomb just went off in your belly. Maybe we can make a version that actually makes you feel good and gives you MORE energy?

Enter this Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce. You guys, this sauce is like liquid gold. When I first made it, I started eating it with a spoon...like a soup. Straight from my Vitamix. No Shame. I've talked about the magical wonders of cauliflower before, but folks, cauliflower reeeaallllyyy outdid itself this time. 

ALL the gold stars for you, cauliflower. 

I did a segment on our local morning show Good Day Columbus on Tuesday morning for their week long series "Recipe Rescue". The premise was to take a traditionally unhealthy entree from a chain restaurant and make a healthy but still delicious alternative. I chose to make a healthy version of Olive Garden's Fettuccine Alfredo. I have a client who loves Alfredo sauce so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try for a much healthier and more nutrient dense option. 

I must say, this recipe is a winner in my book. The sauce is literally packed with nutrition: cauliflower, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, almond milk, veggie broth, and simple spices. These are also ingredients that I tend to always have on hand. Aka...I will be making this sauce All. The. Time. #notmadaboutit.

You can use any pasta noodles you want for this dish. The first time I made it, I used whole grain spelt linguine and the second time I used whole wheat fussili noodles - both were delicious! Another important element to this dish is the sauteed veggies. I went with mushrooms, asparagus, and peas which were absolutely delicious, but feel free to use whatever veggies you want. The more the better! Adding vegetables to a pasta dish is a great way to eat more volume and consume less calories. One serving of this dish only has about 230 calories and 6 grams of fat (OH and 8 grams of fiber heyyoooooo!). A traditional creamy pasta dish from a restaurant can have upwards of 1,200 calories and 75 grams of fat. WHOA. If you want to take it up another "planty" notch, feel free to add some spiralized zucchini noodles.

In summary, this dish really checks off all the boxes: creamy, delicious, nourishing, and super veggified. Just the way I like it. 

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo (Vegan)

|Serves 4-6|

Ingredients

  • 5-6 heaping cups cauliflower florets (1 medium cauliflower)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
  • 1 package of whole grain fettuccine pasta or pasta of choice
  • 1 (8 oz) package of white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped (woody ends discarded)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

For Serving (optional)

  • Fresh minced parsley
  • Red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Add Cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil. Once boiling, cook for another 3-5 minutes until fork tender, then drain. 
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil into a skillet and saute the minced garlic over low hear for ~5 minutes until softened and fragrant, but not browned. 
  3. In a high speed blender, add the cauliflower, sauteed garlic, almond milk, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until very smooth. *May need to let it blend for a minute or so to get a very smooth consistency. 
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain and cover to prevent drying. 
  5. In the same skillet you used for the garlic, add a touch of olive oil over medium high heat and add mushrooms. Saute mushrooms for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the asparagus and peas. Cover and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until asparagus is tender. 
  6. Add cauliflower sauce and sauteed vegetables into the pot with the cooked noodles. 
  7. Serve with fresh minced parsley and red pepper flakes. 
  8. Enjoy!

xoxo,

Lauren

Carrot Cake Oatmeal (Vegan)

'Tis the season for a hot steamy bowl of oats! The weather is getting colder which makes me crave all things warm and cozy. Although...I'm not even going to lie and pretend like I still haven't been making smoothies every morning. I #literally can't stop. BUT ON WEEKENDS it's a whole new story. On days when I can tackle the morning at a slower pace, I take full advantage. 

This is a really fun time in our lives. We are in that time between the "college/go out often/sleep too little" life and the "OMG we are parents" life. It's a time where many of our friends are starting to have kids and while we want to be there eventually, we are really enjoying our life together, just the two of us. Speaking of kids - I get asked about this a lot. We have been married for almost 2 and a half years which is about the time where people really start to ask about our plans for a family and I hear the comment "you're next!" all the time. I hear other married couples without kids talk about how annoyed they get by these questions and comments, but I actually don't mind them. Scott and I both want children in the future, and it's fun to talk about it every once in a while. To be honest, I have such conflicting emotions about it all. When I hear friends or family announce they are expecting a little one, I am SO incredibly happy and excited for them! I would be lying if I said there wasn't a little twinge in me that wants that now, too. Then other times I absolutely love that we have the freedom to do what we want, when we want. Scott is currently traveling a lot with his job and the thought if starting a family right now seems impossible. I find myself, instead, excited about the thoughts and possibilities of what our next adventure together will be. Long story short, until we are ready for kids,  we are taking full advantage of sleeping in on the weekends and having date nights with no responsibility as often as possible. We both have some personal goals (mostly things we want to experience and do together) that we hope to accomplish in this weird "in-between time" we are living in. I guess the best thing to do is focus on truly living in the moment - something I constantly have to be mindful of. 

Anyway, I digress. What I originally meant to say is that this oatmeal has been my go-to breakfast on slow weekend mornings. HAHA I got off on a little tangent there. I wasn't planning on writing anything about this topic AT ALL today. It's funny how sitting down and writing a silly little post about oatmeal can lead into other (somewhat deep?) topics. 

OATMEAL IS POWERFUL, GUYS. Blame it on the carrots. 

Speaking of powerful, this oatmeal is no joke. It's packed with nourishing ingredients while remaining super creamy, hearty, and perfectly sweet (from real ingredients). It is a wonderful way to start any morning, but especially a slow, chilly morning. As much as I complain about winter every year (although this winter has been amazing so far...knock on wood), I really, really enjoy wrapping up in an over-sized blanket, sliding into fuzzy slippers, and wrapping my fingers around a hot mug of coffee. That seems to be my weekend morning uniform lately. And a hot bowl of carrot cake oatmeal on the side is the perfect accessory.

I'm going for that weekend glam, obviously. 

Caramelizing the carrots is the key to this oatmeal. It brings out the carrot's natural sugars (and ahhh-mazing flavor) which means you don't need to add as much additional sugar.  WIN. WIN. Feel free to sub raisins for the dates, although I think the dates are a fun little twist. Let's be honest, dates are everything. Duh.

Well....the point of this post was to tell you how awesome this oatmeal is. Just trust me. It is. No matter what stage of life you are in :)

Carrot Cake Oatmeal (V + GF)

|Serves 2|

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots (from about 1-2 large carrots)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup, plus more to serve if desired
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Warm the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the grated carrots, maple syrup, spices, and salt. Saute until the carrots begin to caramelize - about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the coconut, dates, and oats and stir. Next, add the almond milk and vanilla. 
  3. Raise the heat and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer, stirring often,  until all the liquid has been absorbed and the oats are nice and creamy - about 10 minutes. 
  4. Serve topped with additional coconut, dates, and a drizzle of almond milk and/or maple syrup if desired. 
  5. Enjoy!

xoxo,

Lauren

 

 

 

Creamy Butternut Squash Chickpea Bisque

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had the best Thanksgiving! Scott and I had a wonderful long weekend. It was the perfect mix of family, friends, and relaxation....with LOTS of yummy food. We always do Thanksgiving at home in Columbus. It's one of my favorite days of the year. We go to my aunt and uncles home and enjoy a huge Thanksgiving feast. My immediate family has a long standing tradition of going to see a movie on Thanksgiving night which is something I always look forward to. This year there were only a few of us since my two brothers were not able to come home for the holiday (missed you, Kevin and Ryan!). All in all we had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I don't do the cooking for Thanksgiving dinner but I do try and bring a few things...especially since going plant-based. This year I brought this AMAZEBALLS lentil loaf with maple sweetened glaze from  Eating Bird Food and my shredded kale and Brussels sprout slaw with pine nut parm...because it is my absolute favorite and I make it for everything (duh). 

Having said that....RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU ARE READY FOR A DETOX. Actually, I don't even really like the word "detox". I much prefer "reset". Ok....so raise your hand if you are ready for a post-Thanksgiving RESET. Not to sound like that annoying person who is like "OMG I'm craving kale!"...but I'm really craving some healthy foods. That is actually one reason (and there is only one reason) I like Mondays. It gives me a chance to get back on track and in my regular routine. 

So if you are looking for a good recipe to get back into a healthy routine, I've got a good one for you. I recently teamed up with Q by Equinox to put together a three week meatless dinner series. For the third week, they shared my Butternut Squash Chickpea Bisque and it is DEEELISH! 

I luurrrrrvveeee soups. Especially at this time of year. A big bowl of hot soup...MMMM! Like, does it even get any better? This soup is especially wonderful because it is full of uncomplicated, nutrient-dense ingredients and has a hefty dose of plant-protein thanks to the chickpeas that are blended in. OH! And cashew cream. Cashew cream is everything. Enjoy with a side of hearty seed crackers for an extra dose of yum. 

Find the recipe for my Butternut Squash Chickpea Bisque HERE!

FullSizeRender (11).jpg