Mac & Cheese | low-fat & oil free

mac & cheese

This Mac & Cheese is 100% healthier, 100% kinder, but equally as delicious,  than your regular store bought  Mac & Cheese.  All you need is special combination of produce, spices & condiments that you probably already have at home. There are lots of ways to make vegan cheese sauce;  you can use cashews, butternut squash, melted vegan cheese, etc. But my favorite is this creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese that is practically made out of vegetables, making it low-fat & oil-free. It may not  be made with “real” cheese, but it sure tastes like it; while providing Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium & the right amount of carbs.

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For this Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe, I used potatoes to get the creamy texture & for the cheddar cheese color… I tried something a little bit different, something that I saw on YouTube a while back; I used…wait for it… CARROTS! Yes, carrots. Weird right? But it turned out great.

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Ingredients

12oz elbow pasta, boiled, al dente

2 medium potatoes (or a bunch of small ones like I did), peeled & chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 white or yellow medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

2 cups water

Spices to taste: salt, black pepper, paprika & parsley

green onions (optional)

Instructions

Boil together the potatoes, carrots & onion, until everything is soft and can be pierced with a fork. Remove from heat.

Transfer all of the boiled vegetables to a blender. Add in the water in small amounts; you may need more or less.

When everything is smooth & your preferred amount of thickness, add in the garlic & spices to taste. Taste test & add in extra spices if desired, if desired.

In a bowl or boiling pot, pour the cheese sauce over the pasta. Mix in the chopped green onions, until well combined.

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Serve & top with paprika & alfalfa sprouts.

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Enjoy Black Logo

 

Travel Diary: Caribbean Cruise

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On June 10th, my family & I went on a Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean International. We visited four beautiful Islands in one week. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

First stop: St. Thomas. Being this our fifth time here, we decided to go straight to the closest beach. We ended up un Esmeralda beach which was less than 10 minutes away from the port.

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After an entire day of cruising, on day four we stopped at Curaçao.

We went to the Curaçao Liqueur Factory & found out that my favorite liqueur is vegan. YES the original Blue Curaçao is vegan!

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Otrabanda gave out some Netherlands vibes…

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…but somehow it still felt like I was on the Caribbean

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On the fifth day of the cruise we went to Aruba. This Island is so beautiful & the people were incredible; this was my favorite of all of the stops

This is the bus that took us around

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We visited the Ayo Rock Formation…

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… & the dreamy California Lighthouse that looks like it came out of a Wes Anderson movie.

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We also stopped by a white sand beach; Eagle Beach

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& the Marketplace that’s right next to the port.

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Lastly, we stopped by St. Kitts 12ktts

We went around in a taxi that took us to this view…

ps. find the volcano

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& to Carambola Beach on the south side of the island

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To find out more of our trip, visit my last post about the Plant-Based meals Royal Caribbean has for us non-meat eaters.

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Plant-Based While Cruising

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Food is the first thing that comes to mind when traveling; especially when cruising. There’s so much (SOOOOO MUCH)  food that’s already included in the price, making it hard to resist all of the goodness that are processed carbs, fats & sugars. But don’t’ worry, eating healthy & maintaining your lifestyle while cruising, isn’t impossible. For me, cruises are the least stressful form of travel when it comes to food; but that is if you plan ahead. Most Cruise Ship Agencies will be happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions, this is more likely on international cruise lines; they receive people from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds & eating habits.

What i did

Here’s  what I did & how I did it, on Royal Caribbean International:

  • Alert the cruise line as early as possible. I did this two weeks in advance & also made sure that I was listed as one of the plant-based travelers at check-in.
  • Bring some pre-packed snacks on board. Snack bars, pre-packed soups, chips, ect.
  • The buffet is your best friend for lunch (& sometimes breakfast). Huge salad bar, roasted potatoes, sautéed vegetables, sandwich station, veggie burgers & huge assortments of fresh fruits.
  • Bring water with you on the first day & avoid paying $2 a bottle on board.
  • If you can’t live without coffee, soy milk is available upon request in the buffet.
  • Don’t get scared with the dining room’s main menu. On the first day ask for their special menu; they made me: tofu, fried rice, baked potatoes, sweet & sour soy chicken, different styles of pasta, mushroom soup, veggie onion soup, vegan pancakes(at breakfast, & bowls of strawberries too. I didn’t eat the same thing twice.
  • Alcohol. You may want to skip the cocktails with bright colors, since they tend to be very sugary. Good news is, most beer is vegan!
  • Not food related: If you’re into exercising, take advantage of the free gym & jogging track; especially on those “at sea” days.
  • The sucky part is the lack of plant-based desserts; they only have a platter of fruits & fruit sorbet.

 


Here are some bad quality pictures (the lighting was terrible, sorry in advance) of my favorite meals on cruise:

Favorite cruise meals

 

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buffet: Salad, mushrooms, chickpeas, almonds, raspberry dressing | steamed carrots & broccoli | toasts & roasted potatoes

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dining room: pasta with pomodoro

FullSizeRender-1 buffet: veggie burger (upon request) with everything from the burger section | ketchup, mustard & sriracha

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dining room: vegetable & tofu fried rice

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dining room (breakfast): eggless pancakes with peanut butter, banana & berries

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johnny rockets: veggie burger with sauteed onions & mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes & mustard | fries & onion rings

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dining room: veggie minestrone soup | pitta bread & hummus

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dining room: baked potato with butter | sauteed mushrooms | soy meatballs with tortilla chips

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dining room: chocolate covered strawberries


 

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Enjoy Black Logo

Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

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If you think vegan sandwiches are boring just because they don’t have meat, think again. Sandwiches filled with veggies are not only nutritious , but they can also be very delicious. Often I get asked what I pack for lunch for a busy day at uni. Usually, I’m in a hurry, so  I take what I have leftover from the night before. But if I have a little more time in my hands, I assemble my favorite sandwich.

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Ingredients:

2 slices whole grain bread

2 spoonful hummus

2 slices veggie salami (optional)

1/4 cup spinach

1 sliced tomato

shredded carrots

salt & pepper, to taste

drizzle olive oil (optional)

Instructions

Assemble sandwich, however you like 🙂

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Pair the sandwich with some oven baked fries or chips, & I paired my with a dragon fruit smoothie.

VHS1.pngVHS.pngEnjoy Black Logo

How to Start a Plant-Based Lifestyle

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Some of the questions that I often get are classics “Where do you get your protein?” & “What about your B-12?”, proceeded by making fun of the way that I eat because they run out of arguments. But, sometimes there are people who want to learn more & are genuinely interested; so they ask “How do I start?”. Maybe that’s one of your many questions as well, so here’s my attempt to help at your starting point.

Here are some tips on how to start a Plant-Based Lifestyle:

Meatless Mondays: Maybe eating completely Plant-Based is a bit complicated right now, but adopting a “Meatless Monday” policy is more attainable. Not consuming meat just for one day a week can be really beneficial for your health & the planet; it reduces the risk of chronic illnesses, diabetes & obesity, while reducing our carbon footprint.

Small Progressive Changes: Making drastic changes in your eating habits can be sometimes counterproductive; it all depends on the person. Some people can become vegan overnight (yes, really). But some of you are exactly like your girl here, who can’t do that. After I quit red meats, it took me almost 3 years, to stop consuming meat altogether & almost 3 years after that, I’m still trying to cut out dairy. What worked for me the best, without fallbacks, was making small changes progressively. For example: change white refined sugar for  brown sugar, then eventually stevia or coconut sugar (the best!). You can also swap your regular snacks, for fruits or other vegan options.

Water: All day, every day. Literally water with everything & as soon as you wake up in the morning. This practice helps you keep fuller longer, it cleans your skin & it’s good for digestion.

Smoothie System: When I stopped eating meat, I substituted one of my meals with a raw fruit smoothie. Usually that meal would be breakfast, & it still works for me today. Smoothies on a busy morning are fulfilling, cheap & quick. Just make sure that you consume enough, anywhere from 16oz to 32oz.

I hope this helps you start your journey (or at least think about it more)!

Enjoy Black Logo

 

 

 

How to get Iron on a Plant-Based Lifestyle

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The consumption of dairy, eggs & meat is not only damaging for your health, but also for the environment, as animal farming is the one of the leading causes of climate change. The change to a plant-based lifestyle can get confusing & overwhelming at times for some people, making it easier to miss out on some vital nutrients; like iron. This essential mineral, is critical for many functions of the body; it’s needed to make hemoglobin, a protein present in red blood cells, responsible of carrying oxygen from our lungs to our tissues & cells for energy production.  For more information about this read this article.

It’s been proven scientifically, that meat & dairy eaters are the ones most prone to iron deficiency since their foods include little to none of the daily recommendation of it’s consumption. Us vegetarians & vegans have an advantage in this, most of what we eat is rich in iron; the problem is that we often don’t eat enough.  My recommendation for anyone who’s worried about their iron consumption, is to incorporate more of the food listed below into their daily lives.

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7 Plant-Based Foods packed with iron:

Legumes: Lentils, is one of the most basic legumes. They’re cheap & packed with iron. You can add them to tacos,  vegan chili, soups or enjoy them with rice.

Cacao: Dark chocolate (70%-85%) contains way more iron, ounce for ounce, than beef. Try cacao in it’s purest form, as powder or nibs, to make smoothies, brownies or hot chocolate.

Nuts: Cashews contain the most iron per cup, followed by almonds, macadamias & pistachios. Use nuts to make cashew cheese or replace the flour in cookies with almond meal.

Tofu: The soy in tofu makes it rich in iron & proteins; the advantage of tofu is that it’s so versatile & cheap. Enjoy tofu with potatoes, rice & beans, miso soup or in scrambled form.

Leafy Greens: Spinach & kale, are full with iron & other nutrients. Add them to your salads or smoothies.

Seeds: Pumpkin, sesame & squash seeds are packed with iron. You can top your smoothie bowl with pumpkin seeds & add sesame seeds to your tofu stir-fry.

Spirulina: I’ve mention spirulina before, in my Top 10 Superfoods post; besides containing a bunch of iron, it has protein, a significant amount of B12, as well as calcium & magnesium. Try adding it to your green smoothie.

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Dragon Fruit & Mango Smoothie

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I don’t know where you live, but where I live It’s currently around 90F & that means that it’s perfect smoothie weather. It’s mango season here in Puerto Rico, so naturally my grandmother went out, bought a bunch & gave some to me. I also had some frozen red dragon fruit, which meant it was time to experiment a bit. To be honest, I had no idea this recipe was going to work out. I thought it was such an odd combination of flavors, for some reason, & it actually turned out really good.

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen mangoes

1 cup frozen red dragon fruit

1/2 cup coconut water

Optional: you can add some berries if you want

Instructions:

Place all the ingredients in your blender in the order listed & blend until smooth.  Enjoy immediately.

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Enjoy Black Logo