The Veginner’s Cookbook

standard February 23, 2018 Leave a response

Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of The Veginner’s Cookbook in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links may result in a small commission used to support  Thank you for supporting businesses that support Neat & Nutritious!


Spoiler alert: I absolutely LOVE this book! I was graciously given a copy to review back in January, and it’s already showing the lovely wear of living on the kitchen counter by the stove.

Bianca Haun and Sascha Naderer are the pair behind Elephantastic Vegan, a food blog that hosts a wealth of easy and delicious plant-based recipes. Their book, The Veginner’s Cookbook: The Ultimate Starter Guide for New Vegans and the Veg-Curious is truly a one-stop resource for those looking to transition to a plant-based diet but are not sure where to start. Recipes are familiar and approachable. There are not a bunch of fancy cooking tools or ingredients needed. It’s just everyday, good, and good for you food.

Why do I love this book so much?

  • The recipes are simple, yet flavorful.  My grocery list wasn’t outrageously long or filled with ingredients I did not usually purchase or have on hand.  With some recipes, I wondered how they would come out with so few ingredients, but every single thing I made was delicious. Some of my favorites were the fluffy blueberry pancakes, creamy avocado pasta, and cheesy tex mex wraps (honestly anything that used their basic vegan cheese sauce was divine).
  • It is family friendly. My husband and my 11 month old ate everything I made. Yup, these recipes are even baby led weaning approved! The only change I made to recipes was omitting any salt that a recipe might have called for. And honestly, most recipes don’t use that much to begin with. My daughter’s favorites were  the strawberry chia jam, healthy breakfast muffins, and african peanut stew.
  • It’s not just for “Veginners.” I’ve followed a plant-based diet for over 8 years now, and these recipes were all appealing to me. Yes, I have made variations of some of them in the past and am familiar with the cooking methods and preparations. But I did not find these recipes to be overly simplistic or basic or boring. I happily made everything on the extensive list I compiled as soon as I opened up the book. They also dive into homemade bread making, which I have to say, generally terrifies me, even though I have made my own bread before (a phase that was delicious and time-consuming!)

The Veginner’s Cookbook includes:

  • 75+ veginner-friendly and well-tested recipes (80% are exclusive, never-seen-before recipes) from all categories, such as basics, breakfast foods, soups, main meals, breads, snacks and party foods, sauces and dressings and of course: desserts.
  • Bianca’s Kitchen Hacks helps you find out some tricks and shortcuts for the vegan cook. Cooking is not your strong suit? That’s okay, articles such as ‘How to spot the perfectly ripe avocado’ and ‘How not to explode soup all over your kitchen when mixing hot liquids in a blender’ are here to help!
  • A list of essential pantry, freezer and fridge staples for new vegans
  • Helpful articles for Veginners, such as ‘How to avoid disputing your dietary preferences.’

Since I love this book so much, I have decided to give one away to a lucky reader! You can also snag a copy for yourself or a friend over on Amazon.

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter:

  1. Join the Celebration Nutrition email community.
  2. Leave me a comment on this post and tell me what your biggest struggle with plant-based nutrition is currently?

I’ll randomly choose 1 winner on March 9th. The giveaway is open to residents of the US. The winners will be notified by email.

Best of luck and have a delicious weekend!

Recipe images Copyright 2018 by Bianca Haun and Sascha Naderer.

Weekly Menu: Plant-Based Staples

standard February 19, 2018 Leave a response

As much as I love making a variety of recipes each week, featuring fresh produce and expanding my cooking skills and flavor combinations, sometimes you also need some staple recipes. The ones you make when you’re about to leave for vacation and cleaning out the fridge. Or you’ve just come BACK from a trip and haven’t made it to the store yet. Or maybe you just don’t feel like shopping today or someone is sick and you just need to get creative with what you have.

Enter pantry staples.

Yes, it is possible to make nutritious, satisfying, and balanced meals from what you have in your pantry. Bonus if you have some fresh or frozen produce leftover to toss in, but not required! We’re on a clean out the fridge kick this week, so my meal plan reflects a large percentage of pantry staples. Here are some ideas for easy quick meals you can make from your pantry:

  • Oatmeal or overnight oats // rolled oats + chia seeds + peanut butter + cinnamon + frozen berries + water (or plant-based milk).
  • Beans and rice // brown rice + kidney beans + diced tomatoes + cumin + turmeric + paprika
  • Spanish chickpeas & quinoa // chickpeas + quinoa + diced tomatoes + vegetable stock + paprika + chili powder + oregano
  • Veggie stir fry // frozen broccoli + edamame + brown rice + soy sauce (mix with some peanut butter to make a peanut sauce variation!)
  • Berries & greens smoothie // water (or plant-based milk) + frozen banana + frozen berries + frozen spinach + nut butter + hemp seeds
  • Mexican beans & quinoa // quinoa + black beans + salsa + cumin + chili powder

The main thing to consider when staring into your pantry wondering how to make a meal is choosing a protein (beans, quinoa, edamame, peanut butter, hemp seeds) + a carbohydrate (rice, oats, quinoa, fruit). Add a fat for satiety (nuts, seeds, olive oil) and spices for flavor. Any chance you can toss in a vegetable, go for it. The great thing about frozen veggies is they heat up quickly and can be tossed into almost anything.

I happen to have a ton of quinoa, arborio rice (because, risotto addiction), frozen greens and asparagus, beans, pasta, and canned tomatoes to use up. So with only a handful of fresh produce to grab, we’ve got a week of fast, pantry based meals to enjoy this week.

Meal Plan 2/19/18

Making meals in a pinch does not have to be complicated or fancy. Grab a few staples out of your pantry and see what inspiration comes your way!

Interested in how I stock my pantry to make sure I can always make quick, nutritious meals at any moment? Grab my free plant-based pantry list here and always be prepared on those busy weeknights!

Plant-Based Basics: A Primer for the Curious

standard February 16, 2018 Leave a response

I get asked all the time, “How did you become a vegan?”

“How do you get your protein?”

“How do you get enough nutrition, especially for running and breastfeeding?”

I also frequently get, “How do I get started on a plant-based diet?”

“How can I follow a plant-based diet and train for a marathon/have a healthy pregnancy/get enough nutrition/etc?”

“I could never do that.”

“I don’t know where to start.”

In today’s society, with its focus on protein is king, and carbs are bad, it can seem really daunting to figure out how to get enough nutrition, regardless of any other parameters. This month, I’ve decided to focus on the basics of plant-based nutrition, sharing the benefits, busting the myths, and outlining how it does not have to be complicated to eat well.

Plant based nutrition blueberry smoothie

The term “plant-based” itself can be confusing. How is it different from vegan or vegetarian? What are the benefits of plant-based vs. the standard American diet? Before embarking on any new health journey, it is first important to understand what it means, why it’s valuable, and how to practically implement it into your daily life.

What does a plant-based diet mean?

First, and foremost, a plant-based diet does not mean animal foods are off-limits. It does not mean you must omit, restrict, or count any particular food or nutrient. And it is not a diet in the sense that it is something you are “on” or “off.” A plant-based approach to nutrition is simply the way you choose to eat, based on your personal and cultural preferences. If you decide to give up meat and dairy, and then choose to eat a slice of pizza one night, you have not “failed.” You have simply made a choice based on what your body wants to eat at that moment.

A plant-based approach to nutrition focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains It does not mean no animal products. You may be ready for a plant-only diet, you may have a dairy allergy, or maybe you just want to feel healthier in your every day life. A plant-based approach can work for you!

Plant-based means focusing on plants FIRST. Instead of thinking of the protein first as the main element of your plate, focus on the plant foods. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, with protein and starches on the side.

Plant Based Nutrition: A Primer for the Curious

Why plant-based?

A plant-based diet promotes optimal health and wellness. Whole plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other bioactive compounds. A plant-rich diet has numerous health benefits including lower blood cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure, and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Plants are high in dietary fiber, low in saturated fat, and contain no cholesterol.

Plant foods support healthy brain function by reducing chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts and flax seeds may also play a role in reversing cognitive defects and decreasing risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

A topic of much interest today, plants also play a role in supporting a healthy gut and digestive system.  By eating a diet rich in fiber, we can cultivate and maintain healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. This in turn supports the immune system as a whole and can aid in preventing disease.

Creating a balanced plant-based plate

There is no need to make sure you have a “center of the plate” main dish with two sides like we grew up eating. Think of the meal as a whole, with an emphasis on color, variety, and flavors. Mix things up. toss them together. What items do you have in the fridge that you can get creative with? What vegetables are in season? Start there and build your plate around fresh, whole plant foods.

Plant Based Nutrition Basics: A Primer for the Curious

Foods are composed of 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I tell all my nutrition coaching clients to make sure to eat 2 of the 3 at every meal (and snack!) Carbohydrates will give you energy, while protein will slow the absorption of the sugar, and give you steady, lasting fuel, instead of a spike and then crash. A sprinkling of fat will also aid in satiety and brain power.

Plant-based carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits. Legumes (lentils and beans), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and soy foods are all rich in protein. Healthy fats are found in avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds. By incorporating a variety of whole, plant foods into each meal, you will be able to get a balance of macronutrients with ease.

Ready to stock your pantry with plant-based staple foods, so you can always have quick meals on hand in a pinch? My Plant-Based Pantry list is full of the staples I keep on hand at all times. Grab your copy here and always have the ingredients on hand to make fast, satisfying meals anytime!

Plant Based Nutrition Basics: Love Your Body, Honor Your Health

Nutrition implications

What about calcium? Leafy greens, broccoli, tofu, beans, and blackstrap molasses are all calcium-rich foods. The calcium content varies by food, but by incorporating a variety of foods into each meal and each day, most people can easily meet their calcium needs through plants and calcium-fortified foods.

At the end of the day, plant-based nutrition is a way of eating that promotes a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy world. Whether you are looking to lose weight, overhaul your dietary habits, or protect the environment, a diet based on whole plant foods provides optimal nutrition to fuel your everyday activities. Remember, no foods are off-limits. No foods are “good” or “bad.” By incorporating more plant foods into your daily meals, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of rewards.

Plant Based Basics: A Nutrition Primer for the Curious