Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Plant Based Kickass Lasagna


This Easter, I went home to be with my family and my mom hosted Easter dinner. She decided to make a few giant lasagnas for our family, so I decided to make my own kickass vegan version! ;)

I've made a delicious plant based lasagna before from the Engine 2 Diet, but I wanted to make it even better, and add in more layers and change what I wasn't a big fan of. 

I took the Engine 2 recipe, and kicked it up a notch with the Best Damn Vegan lasagna recipe I found, AND I added my own elements to it ;) ENJOY!

Here's what you need--I know it seems like a lot....because it is! I purchased everything at Whole Foods, but you can definitely get cheaper options elsewhere. This recipe made a huge sheet and a half, so I recommend you have a vegan potluck or some type of party because it is a TON OF FOOD!



Ingredients (I'll divide them by layer):

For the Protein-Packed Marinara Sauce:
  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Package Beyond Beef Crumbles (Beefy)
  • 1 cup large sweet potato, diced 
  • ½ cup red lentils (cheaper if you get them in the bulk section)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups water

For the Vegan Spinach Ricotta:
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 Package Extra Firm Tofu (I made the mistake of letting it drain for a while, but it's important to have it watery so it blends easier)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon light miso white (refrigerator section of Whole Foods)
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (bulk section)

For the Cashew Cream:
  • 2 cups raw cashews (get all the cashews in bulk >> this adds up to 4 cups of raw cashews total)
  • 1 cup water (I'd potentially use more--you want the consistency to be more liquid than thick)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp white miso
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar 

For the Veggie layer:
  • 1 package white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • **Add whatever veggies you want to! I'd recommend some peas next time!
For the rest:
  • 1 box whole grain lasagna noodles (pasta aisle, whole foods)
  • 5 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raw cashews, ground in a nutribullet to top it with (included in the 4 cups total)

**This takes about an hour of prep and an hour of cook time*


Step 1:

This takes the longest, so turn on some amazing music or podcasts! Chop ALL the veggies for EVERYTHANG. The sauce and veggie layer take the longest. I'd also get out your nutri bullet or high powered blender because the cream and ricotta are simply blending the ingredients together.

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Step 2:

Stir fry the veggies together, add some garlic and cayenne if you want, and get all the ingredients out for the cashew cream and spinach ricotta. Put the veggies aside after they are cooked to your liking.



Step 3:

I simply blended all the ingredients together for the cashew spinach ricotta, but I should have followed the recipe more carefully because it was PACKED and I kept having to stir it to blend. So first, combine the cashews, miso, garlic, salt, and nutritional yeast in your blender and pulse. When it looks nice and crumbly, add the tofu (I chopped it into squares so it would blend easier), spinach, and basil. Store in the fridge while we work on the sauce and cashew cream!

Step 4: 

In the same pan you made your veggies (that you set aside), cook the beyond beef crumbles with a little olive oil. You should be able to tell when they're done--they only take about 5 minutes to cook. While those are sizzling, let's start the sauce because you are going to add the crumbles into it!



Step 5:

Saute the garlic and salt with some olive oil over medium heat. You'll want a pretty hefty sauce pan. Add the oregano. Then add in the lentils and sweet potatoes--saute for a few minutes before they start to burn.
Add the water, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. You want the lentils and sweet potatoes to be soft. Add in the crushed tomatoes, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. 
This is where I would recommend BLENDING the sauce. If you have a blender to do this with, it'll take some of the chunk out and make for easier layering. After you blend it, add in the beyond beef crumbles, stir to combine, and get ready to layer!

Step 6:

Make the lasagna noodles according to the package--they don't take long at all. Put salt in the boiling water, boil them accordingly, and then immediately run them under cold water so they do not overcook. I layered them on parchment paper so they wouldn't stick while I completed the other layers. 



Step 7:

Time to make the cashew cream! Simple take another nutri bullet cup and blend all the ingredients together! You might want to add more water so it's not super thick. Also, while you have it out, get the small nutribullet cup, and blend the last cup of cashews for the lasagna topping--set aside.

Step 8:

Preheat the oven to 350 (yay so close!) and get your pyrex or foil casserole dish ready to GO! Time to put all your layers on a giant table and get to work!


Step 9:

Once all your layers are ready to go, the layer process is super simple. First layer is SAUCE, then NOODLES, followed by the SPINACH RICOTTA. I added a layer of VEGETABLES next. As you can tell, the ricotta is a bit hard to spread, but it doesn't have to look beautiful to taste amazing!
Add more sauce, more pasta, then cashew cream. Honestly, it doesn't matter how you layer it. I'd just make sure each layer has sauce so it sort of pastes together, and drizzle the top with cashew cream.



Step 10: 

Next, top the lasagna with the thinly sliced roma tomatoes. Cover with foil, and bake for about 35-40 minutes. Make sure to check on it so it's not boiling over--it's pretty packed!

Step 11:

Remove the foil, and sprinkle on the blended cashews on the top. Keep the foil off, and return to the oven for about 15 minutes for the cashews to brown--it's going to smell AMAZING!! Remove the lasagna from the oven, and let it sit for at least 15 more minutes before diving in. 


This is how it should turn out! Slice, and enjoy! You can always freeze the sauce, make this even bigger with even more veggies, but it is super filling! 

If you enjoyed this recipe, I'd love to see a comment from you below! OR, if you added your own spin on it, let me know what you did!

If you are interested in even MORE delicious vegan recipes or want me to veganize a dish, send me an email! LaurenMcHughHealth@gmail.com



Thursday, April 13, 2017

One Size Does NOT Fit All


I remember bringing slimfast to school one day in high school.

I felt so proud of myself, taking it out of my paper bag at lunch and drinking it instead of getting my normal carb-filled lunch from the cafeteria.

However, after gagging it down, I immediately felt super sick, and threw it out.

Over the years, I've tried so many quick fixes, fad diets, over exercising, obsessively calorie counting, and every time ended up the same: me bingeing and being back to square one.

It didn't work--nothing did. I think from high school to my second college (I went to 3), the only time I consistently saw progress was when I was walking every single day and doing some pilates workouts in my room. I didn't change my diet--I just made sure to do these things every day. Even though I was working on myself, I never enjoyed the process, nor treated my body with respect and love.



What I eat (consistently) has always been my #1 STRUGGLE. I talk to women every single day who deal with this. 
I can workout perfectly according to my exercise plan, and I love the workouts I do from my living room...but then there's the "diet."

I truly don't think there's a one size fits all approach--never have. That's why I tried so many diets! Even now, I like changing it up and I'm doing intermittent fasting.

I'm also a vegan. I portion out all my meal prep. I also love wine. And pizza. And I have a love-hate relationship with salads.

I truly think everyone needs to find what works best for THEM, but I do know from experience, and from working with hundreds of women over the past 3 years, that accountability is everything. If I don't check in with my workouts and meals every day, I am not showing up for my community.



If I see that someone hasn't logged their superfoods or workouts in a few days, I know that I would want someone to ask me what's going on and give me some tough love. This is how I stay on track consistently!

Workouts, diets, they come and go. And even though this is said entirely too much on social media, it really is all about balance. 

Eat as many plants as you can, take care of the only body you'll ever have, move it, lift weights, do yoga, walk, whatever....but more than anything, be proud of yourself every single day. If you are working out or dieting because you don't like your reflection in the mirror, when you reach your goals, you are not going to be satisfied (again, speaking from experience). I remember running every single day, doing pilates in my room, and eating under 1200 calories per day. I was also binging off and on because this was obviously not sustainable. 

I remember hopping on the scale and seeing the lowest weight I've ever been. I got excited, cried, then thought to myself that it wasn't good enough, that I'M not good enough. I needed it to drop MORE....meaning I didn't feel satisfied and kept downward spiraling.

You gotta love the journey! (and please make sure you are EATING enough!). Embrace all the ups and downs. Because your health and fitness are just that--a JOURNEY, not a number on a scale, not a certain body fat percentage...this is your life girl.



 Diets will work short-term, most do. But your health is about consistency. Diets suck. 

Instead, meal prep delicious foods, but also have that glass of wine on the weekends and a vegan cookie ;) Do what feels right for YOU and YOUR body!

Life is too short to be angry eating salad every day. Take care of your body, but more importantly...take care of your mindset, your confidence, your self-love, and realize that you are absolutely beautiful inside and out. Now is your time to improve your life, in whatever area you want to.

ENJOY.THE.PROCESS.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

♡ Why I Went Vegan ♡


Finally!!! I am so excited to share my quick story on WHY I went Vegan, and how it was the BEST decision I've ever made :)

I've shared a lot of tips on my blog about why I decided to transition to vegan FOR REAL, but I'd love to know your feedback on my YouTube channel.

Would you like to see more videos? Recipes? Tips? What would help YOU if you are considering a vegan lifestyle? :)



I also just came out with my BRAND NEW Vegan Girl Guide, which is my first eBook on how to transition to vegan, my FAVE recipes, and lots of bonuses ;)


If you'd like to get a copy of that, feel free to shoot me an email and we can chat!

LaurenMcHughHealth@gmail.com

Enjoy! :)

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