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The Full Helping

The Full Helping
Thu, 29 Sep 2022 13:58:06 +0000

Vegan Meal Prep Breakfast Ideas

The vegan meal prep ideas in this post will ensure that you start your day with good nutrition—even when life gets busy! Whether you eat breakfast on-the-go or work from home, you'll find options that are nutritious, satisfying, and convenient.

A few vegan meal prep breakfast ideas are laid out on a white marble surface, including tofu scramble, zucchini bread, yogurt, and more.

I've spent nearly three years working on a book about vegan meal prep.

Now that I'm nearing the publication stage of that process, I can tell you that meal prep is the only reason that I eat home cooked meals consistently.

I love cooking so much that I've devoted a big part of my professional life to it. But I'm no longer at a place where cooking feels pleasurable at the end of a long day.

On busy weeknights, cooking feels like a burden. On top of this, I'm no good at making food decisions when I'm hungry and tired, which is often the case by 7 or 8pm, when I wrap up with my nutrition clients.

Under those conditions, I'm likely to have a hard time deciding what I want to eat. I'll get easily frustrated if a recipe doesn't go smoothly. Or I'll reach for a frozen meal.

For the record, I love store-bought, frozen vegan meals and meal components. And I often encourage clients to rely on them when things are busy, stressful, or both.

But I also love hearty, varied, home-cooked vegan food—even if I don't love to cook it à la minute. Meal prep is the habit that allows me to eat it, day in and day out, no matter busy I am.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Buy The Vegan Week

I've wanted to share more about my meal prep routine here on the blog for a long time. Now that I'm not busy with The Vegan Week, I can actually devote some time and attention to some posts that share more about this process, which is such an important part of my self-care.

I didn't expect to start with meal prep breakfast ideas. But in many ways, breakfast feels like the perfect place to start.

A large, round serving dish holds a savory vegan breakfast. The value of a balanced breakfast

I've always been a breakfast person.

Yet I know from working with clients that many people are not breakfast people. They're not hungry in the morning or they're too rushed with early day obligations to prioritize eating.

I understand that feeling. I have the ability to eat breakfast at home nowadays. When I was completing my clinical internship, however, it was much more difficult to prioritize a morning meal.

Even now, when I have early day meetings or client sessions, I sometimes struggle to eat something nutritious as the day begins.

For all of the practical challenges that surround breakfast, there is plenty of evidence in support of a nutrient-dense morning meal.

Kids and teens to eat breakfast, rather than skipping it, seem to be more alert and perform more strongly in school.

Breakfast consumption has been linked in observational studies to improved cardiac health [1, 2], blood pressure control [3], and insulin sensitivity/prevention of Type 2 Diabetes [4, 5].

It's not entirely clear from these studies whether it's breakfast itself that makes the difference, or another pattern or habit that people who eat breakfast also tend to adhere to.

To me, it makes good, intuitive sense that a morning meal would contribute to a healthy metabolic rate and more balanced eating through the day. Most folks tend to have a harder time with balanced eating when they go long periods of time without food, forcing their bodies into pronounced hunger.

More importantly, a skipped breakfast is a missed opportunity for good nutrition.

Many breakfast foods are rich in fiber (think: oats, whole grain cereals, whole grain bread), protein (think: tofu scramble, peanut butter, vegan breakfast meats), and phytonutrients (think: fruits and vegetables).

Prioritizing protein

My clients tend to be very nutrition-savvy. Yet many of them report inadequate protein intake when we go over their diets together for the first time.

I'm a big believer in a protein-rich breakfast for energy, blood sugar control, and satiety. I routinely encourage clients to get a 20 gram bolus of protein at breakfast when possible, or a minimum of 10-15 grams when it's not.

Eating a protein-packed breakfast will help you to meet overall protein needs for the day. Adequate protein and energy intake in is associated with strong immunity [6], maintenance of muscle mass over time [7], wound healing and recovery after injuries or surgeries [8], and enhanced satiety after meals [9, 10].

In short, protein is important! In pulling together the meal prep breakfast ideas below, I've tried to prioritize this critical nutrient.

Meal prep breakfast essentials

So, what else do I prioritize when I'm coming up with meal prep breakfast ideas? Here's a short list.


I eat what I like in the morning. This means that not every single one of my favorite breakfasts is a nutrition powerhouse. Heck, I've been known to eat leftover vegan cake with my morning coffee.

Even so, I care about getting good nutrition early in the day when I can. The nutrients that I try to emphasize are:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Complex carbohydrates/starches
  • Healthful fats
  • Phytonutrients (for example, antioxidants)

All of my most common go-to breakfasts are power plates, which is to say that they feature protein, fat, and carbs.

I always include some fruit or vegetable for phytonutrient density. Phytonutrients are responsible for the beautiful colors that fruits and vegetables display. They're individually and collectively associated with lower rates of chronic disease.

A bowl of ginger pear muesli is garnished with thin pear slices.

As for calcium—a big nutrient of concern for me, given my anorexia history—I prioritize fortified plant milks. I also try to sneak leafy greens and legumes into savory breakfast when I can.


Much as I love a hearty breakfast, I don't love having to fuss too much over food on a busy weekday. My favorite meal prep breakfast ideas include options that are simple to prepare.

They often feature my favorite store-bought vegan products, like cereal or yogurt. These foods make it easier for me to nourish myself well on a regular basis.


I love both sweet and savory breakfast foods. So, I try to get a variety of both as I plan my breakfasts for the week.

This doesn't mean that I don't have defaults. Toast and bagels (savory or sweet) are the two most common among those, followed by breakfast tacos and tofu scramble.

I also eat a lot of oatmeal and cereal.

Yet I try, even when I'm busy and on autopilot, to not eat the exact same breakfast each day. More variety means a wider array of nutrients.

When I meal prep for the week, I plan on making (or having ingredients for) at least two breakfast options.


I find that my most successful vegan meal prep ideas are portable. While I often eat breakfast at home, it's good to know that I could grab these and take them to a meeting if I needed to.

Sometimes, I bring them to a coffee shop, so that I can work with others around me for a change.

Even if I do WFH every morning for a week, it helps me to pack my breakfasts up as if I were going to take them somewhere. They end up prepared, portioned, and ready to eat when I reach for them. This is a nice convenience if I have to eat in a rush, before my first client of the day.

Meal prep breakfast storage containers

On the topic of preparing, portioning, and storing meal prep breakfasts, it's essential to have some food containers that make this possible.

That becomes even more true if you need to transport your breakfasts from home to work, school, childcare, or another setting.

There are many food container options nowadays, from bento boxes to silicone bags. Here are some of the containers that I rely on most:

Most of the above are microwave friendly for reheating.

Vegan meal prep breakfast ideas

These 15 vegan meal prep breakfast ideas are by no means the beginning or end of what's possible for a portable morning meal. They represent a sampling of what I've come to rely on myself when I need breakfast to be a make-ahead meal.

Many of the options can be modified by changing some of the accompaniments that I've suggested.

For example, there's a lot of possibility when it comes to having baked goods for breakfast.

Vegan muffins and quick breads (such as my classic banana bread, zucchini bread, or pumpkin bread) are a favorite on-the-go option for me. However, a muffin or slice of bread rarely fills me up as is.

For this reason, I tend to enjoy either with "something else," like nut butter or vegan butter, vegan yogurt, fruit, or a combination of those. You can vary your accompaniments based on hunger and preference.

The same principle goes for cereal, oats, tofu scramble, or really any of the options on this list. These breakfasts become more satisfying and nutritious when you find the right ways to serve them.

I hope you'll find an option that you enjoy here!

Overnight oats or vegan muesli

Overnight oats and soaked muesli are incredibly easy to prepare, and they're packed with soluble fiber. Add your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or fresh fruit to make these portable breakfasts more filling and fun.

Some of my favorites:

A great vegan meal prep breakfast idea: tofu scramble and toast to go. They're pictured in portable containers. Tofu scramble with bread + fruit

I can't think of a plant-based breakfast that packs more nutritional bang-for-your-buck than tofu scramble.

Tofu scrambles are full of protein, fiber if you add veggies, and they usually have some calcium, too (this depends on the tofu brand that you use).

I like to pack up my scrambles with fresh fruit and some bread on the side.

If I put fruit and scramble in the same container, then I usually serve the tofu leftovers cold, which I like! If I want to heat the scramble up, then I simply pack it in an individual, microwave-safe container.

Other potential, portable tofu scramble accompaniments include:

  • Blueberry corn muffins
  • A container of cooked whole grain (like rice or quinoa)
  • Toasted English muffin (if you have a toaster at work or school)
  • Whole grain crackers (I like Triscuits)

Here's a list of 7 of my favorite tofu scramble recipes—the one I make most often is my classic tofu scramble!

A vegan breakfast treat, made with rolled oats and raisins, is broken in half and resting on a small, white plate. Oat cakes

I first made oat cakes when I was in grad school. I was always on the lookout for portable breakfasts that could double as snacks.

An attempt to make baked oatmeal in a muffin tin turned into these dense, nutritious little cakes. They're not like Scottish oatcakes, which are crispy and cookie-like.

Instead, they're hearty and surprisingly filling. A couple of them can be breakfast-on-the-go with serious staying power.

PB&J (+ whatever)

One of my grad school professors used to say that peanut butter and jelly is about as nutritionally perfect a food as there is, and I agree.

PB&J also happens to be my go-to lunch that's portable or extra convenient. And there's no reason for it to only be a lunch.

PB&J will provide protein, complex carbs, some sugars to get you moving, and satisfying healthful fats in the morning. Enjoy it with a piece of fruit, a soy milk latte (more protein!), and/or whatever else you like.

Two slices of zucchini bread, some apple slices, and raw almonds are packed in containers and resting on a white surface. Quick bread (+ something else)

There aren't too many sweet breakfasts that I enjoy more than a thick slice of vegan zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, or banana bread.

For breakfast, I pair these treats with something else. Here are a few of my favorite "something else" options:

  • Vegan yogurt
  • Fruit + almonds
  • Nut butter
  • A regular latte or turmeric chai latte
  • A cup of warm soy milk (this is mainly for protein and calcium, though it's also comforting and nice in the colder months, especially with a little vanilla!)
A white, rimmed plate holds two vegan enchiladas that have been filled with tofu scramble and black beans. Savory leftovers

The leftovers of any favorite savory breakfast lend themselves well to meal prep. Portion them, store them, and enjoy them as the week goes by.

If you have a fridge at work, these are also great options for transporting and reheating!

Here are some of my favorite savory breakfasts that are also conducive to meal prep:

A close up shot of a vegan banana snack muffin, topped with some chunky peanut butter. Muffins (+ something else)

Muffins, like banana bread or zucchini bread, are a wonderful on-the-go breakfast.

And same as with other quick breads, I've learned that I need to have them with something extra in order to feel satisfied.

That "something else" component can be peanut butter, yogurt, a beverage, and so on. Sometimes, two muffins are a perfect breakfast for me.

Some of my favorite, nutrient-dense muffins to meal prep:

A bowl of cereal rests next to a banana and a cup of milk on a white marble surface. Cereal, milk, and a banana

It's not hard to enjoy cereal at a desk or on a campus, if you like.

Simply pack up your favorite cereal in one container, then non-dairy milk in another (something with a twist cap, like a mason jar or this, is best).

Enjoy with fresh fruit of some kind. I like a banana (also portable).

Meal prep smoothies

I'm not a big smoothie-for-breakfast person, but if you are, meal prep smoothies are always a fun idea.

Freeze individual portions of your favorite fruit, protein source, and mix-ins. (Here are some fun ideas.)

In the morning, add nondairy milk at home, blend, and add to a container for transportation.

Or, if you have an individual blender and coworkers who don't mind a little noise, you can blend smoothies in the kitchen area of an office.

A snack bar (+ something)

I eat a heck of a lot of snack bars for snacks. I don't love them as meal replacements.

Even so, life is life sometimes. Once in a while, a bar needs to stand in for a breakfast if I'm on-the-go or traveling.

If a bar is going to be breakfast, it's better to choose something that's more substantial. Some of my favorite, higher calorie bars with vegan flavors are Bobo's Oat Bars and Pro Bars.

Clif bars aren't meal-sized, but they definitely can hold me over till mid-morning.

You can also pair a less calorie-dense bar with other stuff. A snack bar + yogurt + fruit is a very good breakfast on-the-go. Now that it's not hard to find non-dairy yogurt at airports, I've relied on this combo often while traveling.

A portion of baked oatmeal has been served in a small container. There's a container of yogurt nearby. Baked oatmeal (+ yogurt, if you like)

Speaking of stuff that's good to serve with yogurt, I recently made my blueberry banana walnut oat bake and served it with yogurt on top.

I loved this combo. In the past, I've had slices of that bake with nut butters or a drizzle of maple syrup.

This was different. I liked the tangy, cool yogurt on warm slices of baked oatmeal.

Baked oatmeal was actually my favorite meal prep breakfast when I was doing my clinical internship. Sometimes I could microwave it, sometimes I ate it cold, sort of like a bar.

Here are the oat bake flavors that I make most often:

Single-serve oatmeal

If you don't feel like making overnight oats or baked oatmeal, you can also let the pros handle your oat needs.

A lot of brands make great, portable, ready-to-eat oatmeal that comes in a cup. All you do is add hot water and let it sit, or you add cold water and microwave it.

I've relied on this option while traveling, and it was another mainstay during my clinical internship year. Here are my favorite options that I've tried, but there are many others:

These oats may not be quite filling enough on their own. But it's very easy to make them more substantial, even on-the-go, with a portable nut butter packet or single serve portion of nuts and dried fruit.

Fresh fruit, if you have it, is also always a great addition.

Vegan "McMuffin"

If you have time in the morning to make one of these, then eat it in the car or at your desk someplace, great!

I use:

It's not exactly a make-ahead breakfast, but it comes together quickly in a toaster. It's filling, high-protein, and really tasty.

Once you toast your muffin and the egg, just assemble, wrap in foil, and transport to where you need to go.

Serve it with some fresh fruit, if you like. I almost always do.

A frozen vegan breakfast

If your meal prep plan fails to go according to plan—or fails to happen at all—it's always great to have some nutritious, frozen vegan options to grab and reheat.

Fortunately, there are a lot of wonderful, frozen, store-bought vegan breakfast meals. My favorites:

An overhead photograph of baked, stuffed apples, which are still resting on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Baked, stuffed apples

These baked, stuffed apples have some of the goodness of whole grain oats, plus the goodness of fruit.

They're already pre-portioned and easy to pack, and two of them makes for a very lovely morning meal.

A container of yogurt has been packed to go. It's accompanied by a silicone bag of granola and some berries. Fruit + yogurt + granola

Fruit, yogurt and granola is a classic breakfast combo, and it can easily be made portable.

When I have this option on the go, I pack up:

  • A 5.3-ounce yogurt (the Forager brand cashewgurt in plain or vanilla is my favorite)
  • A container that will be big enough to hold my yogurt, granola, and fruit (I like this one)
  • A Stasher snack bag with granola
  • A cup of berries, a whole banana, some chopped apple, or another fruit
  • My W&P Porter Utensil Set spoon

You'll need to find someplace to sit and assemble this breakfast, but once you do, you'll have something fresh, colorful, and textured to enjoy.

Meal prep breakfast storage

Once you pick out one or two vegan meal prep breakfast ideas for the week ahead, you'll need to store them.

The specifics of storage time vary quite a bit from food to food. But here's a general sense of how long various breakfast items keep:

  • Vegan yogurt: 1-2 weeks before opening, 3-7 days after opening
  • Dry cereals: 6-12 months before opening, 1-3 months after opening
  • Fruit: varies, here is a good general storage guide
  • Bread: 5-7 days at room temperature, 1-2 weeks in the fridge, up to 3 months in the freezer
  • Tofu scramble: up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge
  • Overnight oats (prepared): up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge
  • Baked oatmeal: up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge
  • Quick breads (such as muffins, scones, or banana bread): 4 days at room temperature, 5-7 days in the fridge, 2-3 months in the freezer
Prep now, be thankful later

I always say that meal prep is a gift that my current self gives to my future self.

The subtitle of The Vegan Week is "meal prep recipes to feed your future self," and I mean it sincerely.

I try to be honest about the realities of meal prep. It can be time consuming and laborious, depending on how much you do.

For me, however, the benefits of having homemade food that's ready to heat and eat (or transport and eat) as the week begins is priceless.

I've never once been sorry to have meal prepped, even if all I could manage was a sauce or a batch of muffins.

It's easy to focus on meal prep lunch or dinner at the expense of breakfast. But I've found that breakfast is one of the nicest meals to prep ahead of time precisely because it's so tempting to run out the door in the morning without something balanced to eat.

When I do have a solid, nourishing, and nutritionally adequate morning meal, the landscape of my day changes. I'm more energized, I feel more grounded, and I'm not starving when lunchtime rolls around.

I hope that these vegan meal prep breakfast ideas will help you to access all of those sensations, too, week in and week out.

Next up: lunch!


  1. Chen H, Zhang B, Ge Y, Shi H, Song S, Xue W, Li J, Fu K, Chen X, Teng W, Tian L. Association between skipping breakfast and risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality: A meta-analysis. Clin Nutr. 2020 Oct;39(10):2982-2988. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.02.004. Epub 2020 Feb 17. PMID: 32085933.
  2. Li ZH, Xu L, Dai R, Li LJ, Wang HJ. Effects of regular breakfast habits on metabolic and cardiovascular diseases: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Nov 5;100(44):e27629. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000027629. PMID: 34871228; PMCID: PMC8568444.
  3. Monzani A, Ricotti R, Caputo M, Solito A, Archero F, Bellone S, Prodam F. A Systematic Review of the Association of Skipping Breakfast with Weight and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Children and Adolescents. What Should We Better Investigate in the Future? Nutrients. 2019 Feb 13;11(2):387. doi: 10.3390/nu11020387. PMID: 30781797; PMCID: PMC6412508.
  4. Ballon A, Neuenschwander M, Schlesinger S. Breakfast Skipping Is Associated with Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes among Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. J Nutr. 2019 Jan 1;149(1):106-113. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy194. PMID: 30418612.
  5. Bi H, Gan Y, Yang C, Chen Y, Tong X, Lu Z. Breakfast skipping and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Nov;18(16):3013-9. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015000257. Epub 2015 Feb 17. PMID: 25686619.
  6. Chandra RK. Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Aug;66(2):460S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.2.460S. PMID: 9250133.
  7. Deer RR, Volpi E. Protein intake and muscle function in older adults. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 May;18(3):248-53. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000162. PMID: 25807346; PMCID: PMC4394186.
  8. Wild T, Rahbarnia A, Kellner M, Sobotka L, Eberlein T. Basics in nutrition and wound healing. Nutrition. 2010 Sep;26(9):862-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.05.008. PMID: 20692599.
  9. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S105-12. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002589. PMID: 23107521.
  10. Paddon-Jones D, Westman E, Mattes RD, Wolfe RR, Astrup A, Westerterp-Plantenga M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1558S-1561S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1558S. PMID: 18469287.

The post Vegan Meal Prep Breakfast Ideas appeared first on The Full Helping.

The Full Helping
Thu, 15 Sep 2022 20:24:47 +0000

Caraway Cookware Set Review

I've been using Caraway cookware for the past six weeks, and this is my honest, glowing, review! I'm sharing everything I've learned about cooking and baking with Caraway. Plus, I have answers to your top questions about cleaning, storage, oil-free cooking for WFPB diets, and more.

All items in the Caraway Cookware set are resting on a white, marbled surface.

I'm so excited about the review that I'm sharing today!

The very first new item to arrive at my studio—before furniture, storage, or even groceries—were two boxes from Caraway home.

One contained the Caraway non-toxic ceramic nonstick cookware set. The other contained the Caraway baking set.

I've had my eye on Caraway for a long time now. Within the last few years, I've started to use nonstick cookware almost exclusively. I love the easy cleanup and the fact that I don't have to stir constantly to prevent things from sticking.

I also love the fact that I don't have to use a ton of oil with nonstick cookware. I'm not an oil-free eater myself, but I don't tend to use a lot of it when I sauté.

Really great, nonstick sauté pans make cooking with moderate or even no oil easy. I've been keeping my WFPB readers in mind as I wrote this review.

A gray frying pan rests on a white, marbled surface. What is Caraway cookware?

Caraway is a line of non-toxic, ceramic-coated, aluminum cookware.

The signature Caraway cookware set includes the following:

  • 10.5-inch fry pan
  • 3-quart sauce pan
  • 4.5-quart sauté pan
  • 6.5-quart Dutch oven

The sauce pan, sauté pan, and Dutch oven all come with fitted lids that allow a small amount of steam to escape during cooking.

The pots and pans can be purchased individually or as part of that set.

The set, which is what I have, arrives with storage solutions for both the cookware and the lids. This has been one of the features I most appreciate as an urban, small-space dweller.

There's also a Caraway bakeware set, which is a newer offering from the company. It can be ordered as a half set or a complete set.

The bakeware includes:

  • 18×13″ baking sheet
  • 10×15″ baking sheet
  • 12 cup muffin pan
  • 9×13″ rectangular baking pan
  • 18×13″ cooling rack
  • 9″ square pan
  • 1lb loaf pan
  • 2 9″ circular pans

I have the 5-piece, half bakeware set, which includes both sized baking sheets, the muffin pan, and the rectangular baking pan. I like the bakeware so much that I ended up purchasing the loaf pan separately.

Both Caraway cookware and Caraway bakeware come with heat pads. You can rest your pots, pans, and baking sheets on these if you've been using your ceramic nonstick cookware in the oven.

In addition, Caraway now makes a tea kettle, pot holders, and dish towels. I haven't tried any of those yet (though the dish towels are really cute).

A non-toxic, nonstick option

It's been my experience that folks have a lot of questions about the safety of nonstick cookware.

There's concern, especially in the case of older nonstick cookware, about harmful chemicals leaching into food at high temperatures or if the cookware becomes scratched.

Caraway cookware is both safe and non-toxic—and the brand offers a lot of information around this feature.

Caraway pans, pots, and bakeware are free of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylenes, such as Teflon®), lead, and cadmium.

Caraway products also release less CO2 into the earth's atmosphere during manufacturing than other leading nonstick pans, and they're packaged sustainably.

Why Caraway feels like a fit for me

When I moved into this space, I knew that it was time for new cookware. I'd been using a hodgepodge of pots and pans that I'd picked up at various points between college and now.

The nonstick frying pan that I was using was both old and cheap. I had another ceramic non-stick pot that I liked, along with some stainless steel cookware that I kept around, but rarely used because I like cooking with nonstick more.

The plan was to give my mom the nonstick pot (she's been wanting a new one) and research new cookware for my studio.

Because I don't have much storage space, I hoped to find a single set that would take care of all, or at least most, of my cooking needs.

I'd heard great things about Caraway and loved the pans' design and aesthetic. I also knew that the sets came with storage solutions, which felt important.

I connected with Caraway as I was packing up in my old space. We started to discuss the possibility of my becoming a Caraway affiliate.

Of course, I wanted to have at least a month to test the cookware at home, so that I could write an honest review and decide whether it would feel authentic to share about the cookware and bakeware on my blog.

It does. I'm loving my new Caraway sets, and I'd gladly invest in them even if I hadn't been lucky enough to receive the cookware in exchange for sharing my thoughts with you.

Here are some of the features that I've most benefited from in the weeks that I've been using the Caraway set.

A gray storage drawer in a small, urban space is filled with storage for the Caraway Cookware set and baking set. Storage

That's a scene from one of my main kitchen storage cabinet!

As you can see, the entire Caraway cookware set fits in neatly. This is thanks to Caraway's Magnetic Pan Racks. They can hold together or be used separately.

The bakeware has its own storage rack, which is visible in the top left.

These racks are magnetic and can be stacked however you'd like to stack them. I keep my cookware toward the back of my cabinet.

Things are tidier in the photo than they are in real life. On any given day, my colander, salad spinner (which is also a grater and spiralizer) and sieves live right in front of the cookware.

But as you can see, I'm able to store all of my cookware—the four pieces that allow me to make everything—tidily and in one place. That's new for me, and it suits my new surroundings.

Caraway also arrives with a lid storage option for cabinet doors. Mine fits perfectly on the door of the same cabinet that's home to my cookware.

Lids for the Caraway Home cookware set are stored on the back of a pantry door. Nonstick surface

I've used many nonstick pans and pots that were just a tiny bit sticky.

Most of the time, these did the trick. But occasionally there would be a moment when tofu scramble didn't scramble easily, or pancakes were more difficult to flip than I wanted them to be.

The Caraway pan has proven to be the most truly nonstick cookware I've used. Sautéing just about anything is a breeze.

When I hear people talk about the true test of nonstick cookware, they often mention eggs.

Using Caraway at home has actually encouraged me to create a homemade vegan egg equivalent that I'm really excited about.

I'll share the recipe very soon, but in the meantime, you can see how perfect Caraway is for making omelets (and scrambles).

A gray, nonstick frying pan is being used to cook an omelet.

The Caraway cooking set has also worked beautifully for all of my other, customary cooking.

This includes cooking whole grains, soups, stir fries, grain and bean skillets, pasta, and more. So far, no sticking or staining at all.

A gray colored sauce pot holds freshly made pasta. Caraway cookware cleaning

One of my favorite things about the Caraway cookware is how easy it is to clean.

The Caraway site will tell you everything that you need to know about the cleaning process. The takeaways, though, are simple.

First, don't transfer hot pans to cold running water—this will "shock" the pans. Second, use soapy, warm water and a non-abrasive sponge, scrubber or cloth.

So far, I have yet to need a non-abrasive scrubber. A regular, soft sponge with warm, soapy water has removed every bit of food from the cookware easily. They're the quickest-to-clean pots and pans I've had.

A gray, ceramic pot with stainless steel handles rests on a marble countertop. Design

Yes, Caraway cookware is functional, safe, easy-to-store, easy-to-clean, and truly nonstick.

But another reason that people, including me, love the brand is its design. The cookware comes currently in 8 lovely colors.

The gray is what worked for my kitchen, but I spent a lot of time gawking at the Perracotta (pink) and Sage (green) sets.

The cookware is also sleek and modern looking. It's nice for me to look at the complete set after years of so many mismatched pieces of cookware.

While I would never recommend that someone invest in Caraway because of aesthetics, they're part of the brand's appeal. The visual beauty of the set isn't meaningless—especially since the cookware also delivers on performance.

So, is Caraway cookware worth it?

When I asked readers what they wanted to know about Caraway, the most common response I received was, "is it [the cookware set] worth the money?"

My answer is an unequivocal yes. For me, the combination of function, form, storage and cleanup makes the Caraway cookware set 100% worthwhile.

A Caraway cookware set is priced at $545. For context, this is comparable to, or less than, many stainless steel and nonstick sets from competitors.

You can get $150 off the whole set and free shipping here. The cost of the 7-piece set will be $395.

Caraway offers a 30-day trial period. If you're not totally happy with your cookware or bakeware, the free return and refund policy makes it simple to get your money back.

The brand also offers a limited one-year warranty. It covers major damage to the body, handles, lids or anything else that functionally impairs the cookware.

Back to the question—does the Caraway set live up to the hype?

I think it does. If I weren't collaborating with Caraway as an affiliate and had purchased the set myself, I'd absolutely keep it based on my experience in the last month.

Can I imagine that there are some consumers who wouldn't love Caraway? Sure. Folks who do a lot of high heat cooking, such as heavy duty pan-searing, may find that the suggested low to medium temperature range is limited.

If you already have a lot of cookware that you love, then it may not make sense to invest in the Caraway cookware set. A single cookware piece would be a better option.

Given my cooking needs, I'm super happy to have the whole set.

My most frequently asked Caraway cookware questions

When I received my cookware set, I popped into my Instagram stories and asked my readers to share their burning questions about Caraway with me.

Below, I'm offering some answers to the questions that came up.

Is Caraway cookware dishwasher safe?

No, dishwashers aren't recommended for cleaning the cookware. This page has extensive information on how best to clean and care for your cookware or bakeware.

How does Caraway perform with different levels of heat?

According to the brand, it's best to use Caraway over low or medium heat. Ceramic holds heat more efficiently than traditional pans, so a high flame isn't necessary.

I've kept my flame to medium at most. I also tend to peek at the burner when I turn it on to be sure that the flame only extends over the silver, steel base on the bottom of the pans and pots.

For what it's worth, I've done some stir fries and crispy tofu or tempeh in my Caraway pan, and so far, so good. It hasn't been a problem for me to do these over medium heat. I have yet to think of a high heat application that I'm missing out on.

Caraway cookware can be transferred to the oven, as well. If you do this, note that the cookware can be placed in oven temperatures up to 550°F, but never to the broiler.

How does the cookware hold up?

This is a question that I plan to come back and answer periodically in this post as I continue to use my cookware!

So far, I don't have any stains, warping, or signs of heat damage at all.

I will share that one reader and friend has the cream colored Caraway set. She loves it, but she reported to me that the cream colored surface has become discolored in a few places since she purchased it.

I don't know whether that's common for the cookware set's lightest color or not. The gray set is quite a light gray, so I have fingers crossed mine will continue to be as durable as it has been so far.

Caraway does note that the nonstick surface will ultimately wear down a bit. So far as I understand, this is true of all nonstick cookware; it was true of the last pan and pot that I owned.

But the brand also states that, if the pots and pans are cleaned as instructed, they'll last years. Again, I'll be happy to update this post through the years to let my readers know how my cookware set is holding up.

Another reader asked me whether the pans and pots are fragile.

The answer is that they don't feel fragile to me at all.

Caraway cookware seems incredibly well constructed. The pots and pans feel to me as sturdy or more sturdy than other nonstick cookware I've used. This includes my old Le Creuset ceramic nonstick pot, which seemed to have similar quality construction, but was a bit heavier than my Caraway pot.

Can you use Caraway on induction oven tops?

Many readers asked me this question, and the answer is yes! Caraway cookware is induction friendly.

I don't have induction burners, but according to the brand:

Yes, our cookware is induction compatible, as long as the burners on your cooktop support our base sizes. The bases of our pans' diameters are 5.5″ for the Sauce Pan, 6″ Fry Pan, 6.5″ Dutch Oven and 8″ for the Sauté Pan. Some induction cooktops may not support smaller base sizes. Is the Caraway nonstick coating also safe/nontoxic?

Yes indeed.

Caraway's inorganic natural ingredients are FDA-approved and safe to use in contact with all foods.

The cookware is also free of PTFE, PFOA, PFAS, Lead, and Cadmium. There's no potential risk of these metals leaching into food over high temperatures or if the cookware is damaged.

What's the upkeep like?

Easy! You don't need to season the Caraway cookware set when it arrives. It's pre-seasoned and requires only a wash before use.

For cleaning, you need only use warm, soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. In my experience so far, the nonstick surface is so efficient that cleaning is ridiculously quick.

How are the pans different from stainless steel?

I think they're much, much easier to clean. They're also truly nonstick.

Do the baking pans warp in the oven?

So far, mine haven't. In fairness, though, I haven't used them much yet. According to Caraway:

It is normal for bakeware to slightly "warp" and make a popping sound in the oven due to the heat. Don't worry—our bakeware's reinforced rim will ensure it will flatten once cooled.

I'll report back on this if it happens!

Can you use metal tools when stirring or sautéing?

It isn't a good idea, because metal can scratch Caraway's nonstick surface. You can use flippers, spatulas, or spoons that are silicone or wood.

I love the Material soft edge turner and usually use it when I'm cooking with my Caraway pans.

A silicone spatula rests on a white marble surface. Caraway cookware for no oil cooking

The second most frequent question that I received about my cookware set was whether it's nonstick enough to work for no oil cooking.

This is no surprise to me, since I have a great many no oil/WFPB readers. While I eat and cook with oils, I'm always mindful that a part of my community doesn't, and I like to speak to their priorities.

So, I'm happy to tell my oil-free readers that Caraway cookware is perfect for whole foods, plant based diets—and for vegan cooking in general.

In anticipation of writing this post, I tested water and broth sautéing in my pans. Both options worked perfectly.

In fact, Caraway is designed to necessitate less oil (or butter) than most cookware. The brand itself notes that "a small amount will go a long way."

So far, I've mostly used small amounts of oil or vegan butter for my cooking in the Caraway set.

Most of the time, however, I need only a teaspoon or two. A tablespoon at most has been adequate for everything that I've tried so far.

Note that the brand recommends against oil spray for both the cookware and bakeware; instead, it recommends using a measured, small amount.

When I used the loaf pan to make my vegan zucchini bread, I added a teaspoon of avocado oil and used a paper towel to spread it around. I had no issues getting my bread out of the pan.

A gray, rectangular loaf pan rests on a white marbled surface. It holds freshly baked bread.

So yes, the Caraway set is a great choice for vegans who cook without oil.

And for vegans who cook with oil, too 🙂

The bottom line

In short, I'm really happy and fortunate to have a Caraway set in my new place.

And I enthusiastically recommend the set to any reader who likes nonstick cookware and is comfortable with the heat level that Caraway is designed for.

I know that Caraway is an investment. There are some deals offered by the brand that help to make the investment a little easier.

  • You can save $150 on a bakeware set when you click here.
  • You can also save $50 on the 5-piece, half bakeware set here.
  • And you can get free shipping with any purchase over $90—including single pieces of Caraway cookware—here.

If you have questions about Caraway, email me! Seriously. This isn't a sponsored post, but the above links are affiliate links. I'm delighted to share them, and I'm also happy to speak to respond to any questions that I'm able to answer.

I let go of many things when I moved this summer. Caraway is one new thing that I feel very happy to have welcomed into my life.

I can't wait to continue sharing the recipes I create with the cookware and bakeware sets. If you give Caraway a try, I hope that you'll be really happy, too.


The post Caraway Cookware Set Review appeared first on The Full Helping.

The Full Helping
Wed, 14 Sep 2022 13:47:29 +0000

Vegan Pasta Bake with Ricotta

This delicious vegan pasta bake uses vegan ricotta cheese to create layers of creamy, comforting goodness. It's a cozy, baked pasta dish that you can make with homemade staples, and it's the epitome of wholesome comfort food!

A white, rectangular baking dish holds a vegan pasta bake with ricotta and roasted summer vegetables.

This vegan pasta bake is proof of how helpful it is to have homemade staples in the fridge and freezer.

The pasta bake came about when I was testing out that 20-minute marinara sauce that I shared on Saturday.

I had tested a few batches, as I usually try to do in order to make sure that a recipe really works. I was planning to freeze some of what I had.

But since I needed a dinner plan for the week anyway, I wondered if there was a new recipe that I could try with the sauce.

We're now in that wonderful moment between summer and fall. Vegetable-forward dishes that are bursting with color are still very fitting for the season.

Yet temperatures are dropping, and there's a hint of fall now in the air. I, for one, am now thinking about cozy comfort foods for cooler days and nights.

Baked pasta is just about the most comforting comfort dish that I know of. And this is one of my favorites that I've tried.

An overhead image of a small, white pinch bowl filled with vegan ricotta cheese. Vegan ricotta for the best baked pasta

What truly makes this pasta bake work is not the sauce, but the vegan ricotta cheese.

I use my 10-minute vegan ricotta, which is now something that I routinely keep in the fridge or freezer.

The cheese uses a combination of raw cashews and firm tofu. I think that this creates the perfect ricotta texture: not too rich or dense, not too crumbly.

The ricotta has become the only vegan cheese that I use for stuffed shells, my vegan spinach lasagna rolls or regular lasagna, manicotti, and more. It's also great for sweet or savory toast.

A slice of toast has been drizzled with syrup and topped with a whipped, white spread. It rests on a round, white plate.

In this pasta bake, the vegan ricotta creates layers of rich, creamy goodness. It does this without the need for any store-bought dairy alternative.

The beauty of homemade vegan cheese

I really enjoy commercial vegan cheeses. This is especially true when it comes to cheese slices for sandwiches.

Good Planet American slices with thick slabs of local tomato on multigrain bread were just about my favorite lunch this past August.

Yet I've learned that homemade vegan cheese can be every bit as useful and tasty as store-bought equivalents. Sometimes, I enjoy their flavor and texture much more.

My pasta bake with ricotta is actually very illustrative of this.

A vegan pasta bake has been portioned onto a round, white plate. A silver fork rests on the plate.

I used to be on a never-ending quest to find the perfect, melty vegan cheese for lasagna and other baked pasta dishes.

But here, the vegan ricotta does everything that store-bought cheese shreds would do, and more. It unifies the dish and permeates it with richness.

Best of all, it does so without the greasy quality that some commercial vegan cheeses lend to food.

This summer, when I was experimenting with baked vegan feta pasta, I had no luck at all with store-bought feta. I enjoy that feta on salads, but when I put it into the oven, it melted into a puddle of oil.

My tofu vegan feta cheese, on the other hand, resulted in a tangy, textured, and very delicious meal.

So it is with this recipe, too. Whereas melty cheese shreds might be too oily, and commercial vegan ricotta (like the Kite Hill almond ricotta) might be too thick, the cashew + tofu ricotta is just right.

The vegan pasta bake is perfectly creamy without being heavy or gooey.

As an added bonus, the cashews add healthful, poly- and monounsaturated fat to the meal, while firm tofu adds a good amount of plant protein. This is a big win from a nutrition perspective!

How to make the best vegan pasta bake

With some homemade staples, some vegetables, and a box of pasta on hand, this pasta bake becomes an easy reality.

There are steps involved, but each one is manageable. Here's how it all comes together.

A sauce pot has been filled with roma tomatoes and garlic. Step 1: Prepare your homemade vegan staples

In other words, you'll want to have your 20-minute marinara sauce and 10-minute vegan ricotta ready to go before you proceed with the pasta bake recipe.

You can prepare these directly before you make the pasta bake, or you can meal prep them in advance. Both the ricotta and the marinara can be frozen, so you could make them up to six weeks ahead of time.

When you're ready for the pasta bake, just defrost the sauce and cheese and move on to the next step.

A roasting tray has been layered with summer vegetables. Step 2: roast your veggies

Yes, this is a pasta bake, but it's a lot better (and more nutrient-dense) because sweet, roasted summer vegetables are involved.

These summer vegetables are my personal favorites: tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. With that said, this is a pasta dish that can be carried into other seasons.

Here are some other vegetables that you could roast and include in place of the ones specified in the recipe:

  • Broccoli florets
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Winter squash
  • Bell pepper
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Rutabaga
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Corn

Those are in no particular order, but you get the idea: you can use the vegetables that you have and love.

A close up image of roasted grape tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant on a baking tray.

Assuming you use the zucchini, eggplant, and grape tomatoes called for, you'll roast them with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes, or until they're tender and juicy.

This step, too, can be done ahead of time. Store the roasted vegetables for a couple days in the fridge before using in the pasta bake.

A stainless steel sauce pot is filled with cooked rigatoni. It rests on a white surface. Step 3: Cook your pasta

While your vegetables roast, bring a big, salted pot of water to a boil. Cook your pasta as directed.

For this pasta bake, I recommend a medium pasta shape. That could be:

  • Penne
  • Fusilli
  • Rotini
  • Rigatoni
  • Larger-cut shells (like these)
  • Cavatappi
  • Casarecce
  • Ziti
Step 4: Assemble

At this point, you'll simply layer your cooked pasta, ricotta, and marinara sauce in a lightly oiled, 9×13″ rectangle pan.

A small, white, rectangular baker has been filled with layers of roasted vegetables and pasta.

The layering process doesn't need to be at all neat. I just spoon the ricotta into my layers in big dollops.

When you reach your final layer, you can swirl and smooth the ricotta and the marinara sauce on top of the pasta.

A small plate has been covered with a savory vegan cashew parmesan cheese. Step 5: Cashew parmesan

Sometimes I top a lasagna or other baked pasta dish with vegan cheese shreds. But as I mentioned above, I think that the real beauty of this recipe is that homemade vegan cheeses work so well for it.

I like to dust the top of the vegan pasta bake with a light layer of my cashew parmesan cheese. It's a perfect finish and adds just the right extra savoriness to the recipe.

In place of the cashew parmesan, you could use:

  • Store bought vegan parmesan cheese
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Nutritional yeast
Step 6: Bake

Now it's time to bake the pasta!

You'll bake it covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for another 15-25. You'll know the pasta bake is ready when it's bubbling at the edges and crisping on the top.

Cut into portions and dig in—or store the pasta bake for the week.

Meal prep and storage

Speaking of that, the vegan pasta bake is a great option for weekly meal prep. Portions will keep in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

They can be frozen for up to 8 weeks.

Can the pasta bake be made gluten-free?

Of course! Use any favorite gluten-free pasta in place of traditional pasta for the recipe.

If you'd like to give the meal a little more plant protein, you can use a legume-based pasta.

My favorite of those these days is Tolerant lentil pasta or Barilla Protein+, which includes whole grains and chickpea flour.

Can I substitute the 10-minute vegan ricotta cheese?

Yes, you can absolutely substitute the vegan ricotta in the recipe.

Here are some options:

How to serve vegan pasta bake

You can truly serve this vegan pasta bake with any side dishes that you like.

I really enjoy it with a big, summery green salad and some of my Greek vinaigrette.

It's also lovely with:

  • Roasted asparagus or baby broccoli
  • Garlicky, sautéed kale or broccoli rabe
  • Kale salad
  • Sliced, fresh summer tomatoes with olive oil and a drizzle of syrupy balsamic
  • Grilled zucchini
  • Sautéed spinach

No matter how you serve it, the dish will be oh-so filling and flavorful.

Here's the recipe.

A fork is being used for a baked vegan past, vegetable, and cashew ricotta cheese dish. The plate rests on a white surface. A white, rectangular baking dish holds a vegan pasta bake with ricotta and roasted summer vegetables. Print Vegan Pasta Bake with Ricotta This delicious vegan pasta bake uses vegan ricotta cheese to create layers of creamy, comforting goodness. It's a cozy, baked pasta dish that you can make with homemade staples, and it's the epitome of wholesome comfort food! Course main, Main CourseCuisine American, Italian, MediterraneanDiet Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, VegetarianKeyword casserole, comfort food, main course, make ahead, meal prep, pasta Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 1 hour 15 minutesTotal Time 1 hour 30 minutes Servings 8 Author Gena Hamshaw Equipment Ingredients
  • 1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small eggplant, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (340g)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for oiling your baking dish)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces medium sized pasta shape
  • 1 batch 20-minute marinara sauce (or 4 1/2 cups/1070ml store-bought marinara sauce of choice)
  • 1 batch 10-minute vegan ricotta cheese (2 cups/225g store-bought vegan ricotta cheese )
  • 1/4 cup cashew parmesan cheese (or a store-bought vegan parmesan cheese)
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. Arrange the zucchini, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, or until all are tender and the eggplant is browning. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. 
  • While the vegetables roast, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package instructions. 
  • Lightly oil a 9 by 13- inch/24 by 36cm rectangle pan. Spread a half cup (120ml) of the marinara sauce lightly across the bottom. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta. Spread one third of the pasta in the baking dish, followed by a third of the vegetables. Dollop 2/3 cup of the vegan ricotta over the pasta and vegetables, followed by 1 1/3 cups marinara sauce. Repeat this twice. Use the back of a spatula or spoon to lightly spread and swirl around the marinara and vegan ricotta along the top when you finish layering. Then, sprinkle this layer with the vegan parmesan cheese.
  • Cover the pasta with foil and bake it for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-25 minutes, or until bubbling at the edges and crisping on the top. Cut into slices and serve or store.

There's nothing quite like the feeling of having leftovers of a hearty casserole in the fridge. These dishes make generous portions, and they're a wonderful, grounding thing to reach for when life feels especially hectic.

I know that September tends to be a whirlwind for many, and I'm feeling it right now myself. Hope this pasta bake will help to keep you happily fed through all of it.


The post Vegan Pasta Bake with Ricotta appeared first on The Full Helping.

The Full Helping
Sat, 10 Sep 2022 15:58:45 +0000

20-Minute Marinara Sauce

This homemade vegan marinara sauce comes together in only 20 minutes, but it's bursting with flavor. It will become your go-to for pasta suppers, lasagna, pasta bakes, stuffed shells, and more. Plus, it's freezer friendly, so you can always have some on hand!

A Weck mason jar holds a red pasta sauce, which is studded with garlic.

I ought to think twice before ever making big, bold statements about my food habits or preferences.

I like big opinions about food and have many of my own. I'm becoming more particular with age, so I can almost always understand a strong food preference, even if I don't happen to share it.

But there's a laundry list of once strongly held opinions that I've had to revise: the food I claimed I'd always love and don't anymore; the ingredient or flavor that I once hated, which has grown on me; the all-time favorite dish that has been replaced by a new favorite.

My claim that marinara sauce is one of those ingredients that I'll always choose to purchase, rather than make from scratch, is one of them.

To DIY or not to DIY?

Like most home cooks, I have some things that I like to make from scratch, and other things that I'd rather buy.

There's no airtight logic behind these categorizations. They're shaped by a reasoning that takes into account how much things cost, how good my homemade version tastes vs. the store-bought one, and how much I actually enjoy making the thing.

I love making my own sauces and dressings, as well as homemade vegan cheese. I save a little money when I prepare these staples at home. Since I really enjoy the process of creating them, I almost always make them from scratch.

Yeasted breads are fun to make, but even so, I'm not always in the mood. There are many store-bought sandwich breads that I like. So I'd say homemade vs. store-bought bread is a 50/50 split in my home.

Then there are sourdough and kombucha. I enjoyed making the former for a while, but in this season, I get very little pleasure from the process. And I've never made homemade kombucha that's actually tastier than what I could purchase.

I leave both to the experts.

A sauce pot has been filled with roma tomatoes and garlic.

And what about marinara sauce?

Until pretty recently, marinara was a staple that I preferred to buy.

Most marinara sauces are vegan as is. Many brands are affordable. Some, including Rao's, which is my favorite, taste better than any version I've ever made from scratch.

The problem is that I don't always remember to pick up marinara sauce. Then comes a night when I'd like to prepare an easy pasta, and I don't have sauce on hand.

My new apartment, which has limited pantry space, is making my grocery hauls smaller. Moving has also made me more conscientious about my budget.

This means that I now think twice about purchasing things that I could very easily whip up with what I already have at home.

For all of these reasons, I've been trying to make my own marinara sauce with canned tomatoes more often. And that effort is starting to pay off.

Just as I was starting to make more of my own marinara sauce, a few readers DM'ed me on Instagram asking if I had a recipe of my own. It was even more motivation to settle on a formula that I like.

This 20-minute marinara sauce is it.

Is the sauce as good as Rao's? Honestly, I don't think so. Is it as deeply flavorful as an old family recipe that has been simmering in a pot on the stovetop all day? No. Is it even authentic marinara? Probably not.

But the 20-minute marinara is very tasty. More importantly, it's fast and convenient. You can whip it up with pantry staples in about the same amount of time it'll take you to boil water for and cook pasta.

In my book, that makes it a winner.

What is marinara sauce, anyway?

If you're confused about what constitutes marinara, then that makes two of us. I've always wondered about the differences between marinara, red sauce, pomodoro, gravy, and so on.

This post was very instructive: apparently, marinara sauce is red sauce. And it's chunkier than pomodoro, which is traditionally made with fresh tomatoes.

The post says that marinara sauce can be simmered from anywhere from 30 minutes to hours, which makes me worry less about the liberties that I'm taking with a 20-minute version!

(For what it's worth, "gravy" is apparently similar to ragu, and the term originated in America.)

How to make 20-minute marinara sauce

My 20-minute marinara recipe is adapted minimally from one of Colu Henry's "Mama's Marinara" in her great cookbook, Back Pocket Pasta.

My version has a little more garlic, some tomato paste, which I think deepens the sauce's flavor, and a little bit of optional sugar.

Why sugar? Because just one tablespoon manages to offset some of the acidity of the tomatoes in the recipe.

If you're strict about sugar avoidance, it's fine to omit. My own grandmother and mom always sweetened their tomato sauce a little, and I've come to prefer it that way.

To begin, you'll sauté some onion in olive oil. When the onion is clear and translucent, add thinly sliced garlic and tomato paste.

Garlic, onions, and tomato paste are being simmered in a silver, stainless steel sauce pot.

Heat them for about a minute, then add whole, peeled, canned San Marzano tomatoes. I usually use the Cento or San Marzano brands.

If I find canned, San Marzano tomatoes with basil, then I often reach for them. I love the flavor of basil in this sauce.

Once your tomatoes are in the pot, you'll need to break them down. I crush them gently with a handheld potato masher, but you can easily use the back of a spoon to do this.

The tomatoes may spatter as you crush them, so be sure to wear an apron when you make the sauce!

Add your salt, sugar if using, and some water to the mixture. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer your sauce for 10 minutes.

A stainless steel pot is being used to simmer a 20 minute, homemade marinara sauce.

The sauce should be uncovered while you simmer it. After 10 minutes, it will be thickened, fragrant, and ready to use.

You can add cooked pasta directly to the marinara sauce and call it dinner, or you can store the sauce for any future meal.

Meal prep

The 20-minute marinara sauce is a such a smart addition to any meal prep routine.

Once made, the marinara can be used for quick, easy pasta suppers. It can also be frozen, so that you don't have to spend money on store-bought sauce (unless you'd prefer to).

Any time you prepare to make a pasta dish that calls for marinara sauce—and so many do—you can pull your homemade sauce out of the freezer. It's every bit as easy to do this as it is to open a store-bought jar that lives in the pantry.


I store my marinara in 32 ounce mason jars. The sauce will keep for about a week in the fridge, and it's good in the freezer for up to 8 weeks.

If you freeze the sauce, be sure to leave about an inch of head space at the mouth of the jar. Liquid expands as it freezes, and this will help to prevent accidental freezer shattering!

How to use 20-minute marinara sauce

If all that I ever did with a jar of homemade marinara sauce was to put it on freshly cooked pasta and top it with cashew parmesan, I'd be very, very happy.

Yet there are so many other things that you can do with this humble, homemade sauce. Here are some of my favorite pasta recipes, which I'll use the sauce for sooner or later:

Maybe you have your own list of beloved "red sauce" meals that you'll want a quick, low-stress, homemade sauce for.

I'm hoping you'll like this one.

A white plate has been covered in pasta and a red sauce, along with green sliced basil. A Weck mason jar holds a red pasta sauce, which is studded with garlic. Print 20-Minute Marinara Sauce This homemade vegan marinara sauce comes together in only 20 minutes, but it's bursting with flavor. It will become your go-to for pasta suppers, lasagna, pasta bakes, stuffed shells, and more. Plus, it's freezer friendly, so you can always have some on hand! Course sauceCuisine American, Italian, MediterraneanDiet Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, VegetarianKeyword DIY, homemade, pasta, sauce, staples Prep Time 5 minutesCook Time 20 minutesTotal Time 25 minutes Servings 4.5 cups Author Gena Hamshaw Equipment
  • potato masher
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 ounces whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes (1 28-oz/800g can)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 3/4-1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • 1 tablespoon brown or cane sugar (optional, to offset the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup water (120ml)
  • Big handful fresh, finely chopped basil or parsley (optional)
  • Heat the oil in a medium large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion. Cook the onion for about 4 minutes, stirring often, or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another full minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pot. Use a handheld potato masher or the back of a spoon to crush them (they'll spatter, so wear an apron!). Add the salt, sugar if using, and water. Allow the mixture to come to a vigorous simmer, then turn the heat to low. Throw in a handful of fresh herbs, if desired. Simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. 
  • At this point, you can add cooked pasta directly to the pot (you'll need about 12oz/340g pasta) for a pasta supper, or you can transfer the sauce to an airtight storage container. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 weeks.

Speaking of meal prep, it's a Saturday! I don't usually post on Saturdays.

But this is the day on which I do my own vegan meal prep, and sauces are especially valuable parts of that routine. One good sauce can be the backbone of a week's worth of food.

Homemade marinara was on my mind. And this coming week, I'll share a recipe that I recently used it in (and loved it in).

Till then,


The post 20-Minute Marinara Sauce appeared first on The Full Helping.

The Full Helping
Tue, 06 Sep 2022 16:36:38 +0000

Vegan BLT Sandwich with Homemade Mayo

This vegan BLT has it all: crispy tempeh bacon strips, juicy summer tomatoes, and the best, homemade vegan mayo. It's a plant based spin on the classic sandwich that you'll want to make again and again!

Two halves of a vegan BLT sandwich are stacked on top of each other. The rest on a round, white plate.

Now that I've shared the homemade vegan mayo that I can't stop making, it's time to share the BLT sandwich that I've been hooked on this summer.

BLTs were one of my favorite sandwiches growing up. I've tried many approaches to veganizing them.

I've made vegan BLTs with seitan bacon, tempeh bacon, eggplant bacon, and coconut bacon. I've used homemade versions of these "bacons" as well as store-bought.

I've made BLTs with several brands of store-bought mayo. On occasion, I've taken gone rogue and replaced mayo with avocado, hummus, or homemade cashew cheese.

This is my favorite version so far. Part of this is just the satisfaction of using homemade ingredients.

I'm always happy to purchase what I don't have time to make, but it sure does feel rewarding to prepare the tempeh bacon and mayo from scratch. I love both recipes, and neither require a lot of work. Win, win.

Beyond this, the vegan BLT is good for all the same reasons that make BLTs such a favorite: a mixture of salty bacon, sweet tomatoes, and tangy mayo. Toasted bread, creamy spread, juicy burst of tomato, and crispy lettuce.

Texture, flavor, and lots of nostalgia. Plus simplicity. My favorite sandwiches usually have just a few ingredients, which add up to something wonderful. This one is a shining example.

Fixings for a sandwich have been arranged on small, round white plates. How to make a vegan BLT

The trick to making a vegan BLT is to find tasty, authentic plant-based ingredients that replace traditional bacon and mayo.

In late July, when I moved, I had a vegan BLT at a nearby restaurant that had oven-dried tomatoes, dressed arugula, and avocado in addition to mayo.

It was really good, and it set me on a path of experimenting with a few different, untraditional vegan BLT recipes.

I didn't create a single sandwich that I didn't want to eat. But the honest truth is that I kept coming back to the recipe that I'm sharing today.

Part of this was convenience. What I love so much about sandwiches for lunch is that they're genuinely quick and easy for me to make.

Occasionally I come up with something unusual and labor-intensive. For example, I roast kabocha squash for this yummy, wintery creation.

But most of the time, I think that less is more for a sandwich. PB&J, for example, has only three ingredients, but there's a reason it's as beloved as it is. One of my grad school professors described it as a "nutritionally perfect food," and he's pretty much right.

So too with BLTs—less is more. I've stuck with a classic formula for this one: bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, bread. Occasionally I add some Dijon mustard along with mayo, and you'll see that option in the recipe card.

Otherwise, making this sandwich is as simple as layering the ingredients, slicing, and serving.

A slice of toast has been topped with a single, round slice of tomato and mayonnaise. It's served on a small white plate. A nutritious, high-protein plant "bacon"

There's no vegan "bacon" that I love as much as my baked, crispy tempeh bacon.

I mean no offense to eggplant bacon, which is also a favorite. But vegetable-based vegan bacons just don't deliver on protein, whereas seitan and tempeh bacon do.

Seitan bacon is usually something that I buy. But tempeh bacon is so easy to make from scratch. A little marinating and hands-off oven time is all that's required.

Even better, tempeh bacon is rich in protein and flavor, but it has negligible saturated fat. Instead, it has healthful fatty acids, as all soybean-based foods do. And it offers some dietary fiber as well.

All things considered, it's a more wholesome alternative to conventional bacon that still delivers on smoky, salty, crispy goodness.

Baked strips of a plant-based protein rest on a lined baking sheet. My favorite homemade vegan mayo

"Favorite" is a big word, I know, since I just posted this recipe a few days ago. But now that I have a vegan mayo option that's homemade, easy, and wholesome, it'll be hard to justify vegan mayo that's $6-$9 in stores.

My cashew-based mayo is tangy, creamy, and absolutely delightful. The fact that it happens to be oil-free and wholesome is an added bonus for plant-based eaters.

You certainly can, and it's no problem to, prepare this recipe with store-bought vegan mayo. But 1 cup of soaked, un-roasted cashews will yield wonderful things if you have a blender or a food processor.

A mason jar has been filled with a vegan mayo, made from cashews. It rests on a white surface.

Not a fan of BLTs? No problem at all. Use the mayo for:

Meal prep & storage

Good news for this recipe is that it's very meal prep friendly.

The tempeh bacon will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days. It can be frozen for 4-6 weeks.

The cashew mayo can be kept in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Freeze it—leaving an inch of headspace at the mouth of your storage jar—for up to 6 weeks.

If you want to, you can prep the tempeh bacon and the cashew mayo ahead of time and freeze them. When you're in the mood for a homemade BLT, you can defrost them and layer them with fresh lettuce and tomato.


In the winter, try substituting that thick slice of fresh, summer tomato with store-bought, roasted red bell pepper. It's not quite the same, but it's a seasonal twist that's nice at any time of year.

What kind of bread should I use for my vegan BLT?

I tend to associate a BLT with white bread. My favorite option is my vegan white bread, which is really ideal for sandwiches of all kinds.

Yet multigrain and whole grain breads are also great for this vegan BLT, or any BLT. I have some homemade recipes that I love when I have the time for them.

One is my easy vegan multigrain bread, which uses a multigrain blend for texture and nutritional richness.

Another is my maple oatmeal bread, which is a little sweet and a little savory—really great for toast (and French toast), but also good for sandwiches.

And if you don't have the time or the bandwidth to make bread, which I rarely do these days myself, then you can use a favorite store-bought option.

My favorite vegan store-bought breads

I'm asked often via Instagram about my favorite store-bought breads. My favorite is probably any variety of Dave's Killer Bread.

Sprouted breads (and burger buns, and hot dog buns) from Angelic Bakehouse are a close second.

Other brands that I love and buy from include Silver Hills Bakery and some of the whole grain + vegan options from Arnold (Oatnut is a favorite).

If you have a local bakery that makes great sandwich bread or great sourdough, which also a nice option for this recipe, great!

Can the vegan BLT be made gluten-free?

Absolutely. You can use any favorite vegan and gluten-free bread, homemade or store-bought, to make the BLT sandwich.

Two halves of a vegan BLT sandwich are stacked on top of each other. The rest on a round, white plate. More favorite lunch sandwiches

Here we are, inexplicably entering September and back-to-school season. If you love sandwiches as much as I do, here are some of my favorites to take you into the year ahead:

Two halves of a vegan BLT sandwich are stacked on top of each other. The rest on a round, white plate. Print Vegan BLT Sandwich with Homemade Mayo This vegan BLT has it all: crispy, smoky tempeh bacon strips, juicy summer tomatoes, and the best, homemade vegan mayo. It's a plant based spin on the classic sandwich that you'll want to make again and again! Course lunch, main, sideCuisine AmericanDiet Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, VegetarianKeyword cashews, dairy free, lunch, sandwich, tempeh, vegan Prep Time 5 minutesCook Time 5 minutesTotal Time 10 minutes Servings 4 servings Author Gena Hamshaw Ingredients
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread (or a sandwich bread of choice)
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo (or a store-bought vegan mayo of choice)
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 1 batch crispy tempeh bacon (or 8oz store-bought vegan bacon of choice)
  • 1 large or 2 medium/small beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • Butterhead or oak lettuce leaves
  • Toast the bread slices. To assemble one sandwich, spread 1 tablespoon of vegan mayo on each of two slices of toast. Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard if you like that option. Place a tomato slice on one slice of the bread, followed by a quarter of the thin tempeh bacon slices (enough to cover the tomato slice). Place one or two lettuce leaves on top of the tempeh bacon, then top them with the other layer of toast and mayo. Slice your sandwich in half and enjoy.
A close up image of a vegan BLT sandwich, prepared with tempeh bacon.

Sometimes, only a sandwich for lunch will do. And sometimes it has to be a sandwich that's nostalgic, a classic.

As I sat in my new space this summer, staring at the fortress of boxes that I knew I'd be unpacking little by little and my window onto a new world, I took comfort in the familiarity of many vegan BLT lunches.

It's my most sincere hope that this little sandwich will bring that kind of comfort to your life, too. Enjoy the recipe!


The post Vegan BLT Sandwich with Homemade Mayo appeared first on The Full Helping.

The Full Helping
Thu, 01 Sep 2022 23:07:00 +0000

How to Make Vegan Mayo with Cashews

This is a simple approach to making homemade vegan mayo with only five ingredients. Cashews are the main ingredient in the recipe. This vegan mayo is oil free and ready in minutes. Use it on all of your favorite plant-based sandwiches!

A mason jar has been filled with a vegan mayo, made from cashews. It rests on a white surface.

I've always been very happy to purchase vegan mayo. In fact, Vegenaise is one of the first plant-based condiments that I bought regularly.

In spite of the fact that I like to make many homemade staples, mayo has never been a priority.

Until this summer, that is.

Summer 2022 has been my summer of sandwiches. With the upheaval of moving, unpacking, and especially long work days, sandwiches have been the easiest lunch for me to throw together.

At a certain point, after my tenth or so consecutive Tofurky sandwich, I started to wonder about homemade vegan mayo.

I've attempted a vegan mayo once before, with aquafaba. I liked it. This time, however, I wanted to try a version with cashews.

My kitchen VIP

There's probably no single ingredient that contributes more to the success of my vegan cooking than cashew nuts.

My love affair with cashews began when I was a new vegan. At the time, there was no cheese equivalent of Vegenaise—that is, a store-bought version of a traditional dairy food that I liked as much as the real thing.

I taste tested the commercial cheeses that were available then, and none seemed especially worthwhile. I decided to try making a soft vegan cheese at home.

That became my go-to cashew cheese, a simple recipe that I've relied on for more than a decade.

I've branched out beyond this cashew cheese since then. I now use cashews to make melty vegan cashew mozzarella, cashew queso, yellow cheese sauce (so good on a baked spud), cashew parmesan cheese, 4-ingredient vegan sour cream, and an easy, 10-minute vegan ricotta.

The creamy texture of cashews, combined with their mild flavor, makes them a perfect base for dairy substitutes.

When I'm not turning cashews into homemade vegan cheese, I use them for creamy sauces and dressings. Here too, their creamy texture comes in handy.

Some of my favorite cashew-based dressings include carrot cashew dressing, creamy cashew Dijon dressing, and cashew cilantro sauce.

And how could I forget about cashew cream? There is always at least one jar of cashew cream in my freezer or fridge, waiting for use in creamy pasta dishes, muesli, desserts, and more.

A bowl of raw cashews is resting on a white surface. Health benefits of cashews Nut consumption for heart health

As a registered dietitian, I spend a lot of time encouraging my clients to include nuts and seeds in their diets. The main reason I give this nudge is that a substantial body of evidence links nuts with heart health.

One longitudinal study with over 210,000 subjects compared consumption of a 1oz serving of nuts five or more times weekly with minimal nut intake.

Consumption of peanuts and tree nuts 2 or more times per week and walnuts 1 or more times per week was associated with a 13% to 19% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease and 15% to 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease during the study period, which was 32 years in total.

A 2019 meta-analysis (in other words, a study of other studies!) of 19 studies that examined nut consumption and cardiac health concluded that nuts had a beneficial role in reducing the incidence of, and mortality from, different cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Cashew nutrition

Each variety of nut has its own nutrition benefits to offer. Cashews are rich in magnesium, zinc, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B6.

In addition, the fats in cashews are of the heart-healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated variety. And those healthful fats make cashews satiating.

The versatility of nuts in plant-based recipes

Honest confession? I'm not a big nut eater. In other words, I don't often grab and eat them by the handful.

I think that nuts are a great snack from a nutrition perspective. But I don't love them on their own from a flavor texture perspective—and I love to love my food.

What I do love are things made with nuts. And fortunately, nuts are a versatile ingredient. They can be ground up, blended, chopped, sliced, and slivered.

They can then find their way into so many types of recipes: energy balls and snack bars, dressings and sauces, dips, vegan cheeses, baked oats, muffins, and desserts.

So, with the exception of an odd trail mix craving here or there, I usually cover my nut intake by enjoying them in recipes.

This homemade vegan mayo will become a new standby.

The bowl of a food processor has been filled with mayonnaise. Making vegan cashew mayo

Normally for a recipe "how-to," I'd offer a step-by-step. For this vegan mayo, it's pretty simple!

Step one: soak

Cashews blend up most easily when they've been soaked in water. You can soak them in room temperature water for a minimum of two hours, or up to overnight.

If you soak the cashews for more than two hours, transfer them to the fridge while they soak.

You can also soak cashews in hot water for 30 minutes if you're in a rush and forgot to start soaking them earlier.

Either way, be sure to drain the cashews of soak water before you use them in this recipe, or any other.

Step two: blend!

Yep—that's it. The only remaining thing to do with the cashews after you soak them is to blend them up with lemon juice and white wine vinegar, salt, Dijon mustard, and water.

You can use either a food processor or a high-speed blender for the blending. If you use a food processor, be sure to stop the machine a few times, scrape down the bowl, re-cover, and then continue processing. This will ensure a smooth mayo.

A mason jar with a metal lid is resting on a white surface. The jar contains a white sauce. Tips for texture

Whether you use a processor or a blender, I recommend starting with 5 tablespoons of water and increasing by 3 more, to 8 tablespoons total, if you need to.

The amount of water needed will depend on how much water your cashews absorbed during soaking, and that depends on their age and texture.

When the mayo is first blended, it will be a bit "looser" than traditional mayo is. It will thicken up in the fridge, though, as you store it.

What type of cashews should I use?

I recommend using cashews that are labeled as "raw" or "unroasted" and unsalted. Roasted, salted cashews have too strong a flavor to work for the mayonnaise recipe.

Can I substitute the cashews?

If you have a cashew allergy, then macadamia nuts or pine nuts will be the best substitute in this recipe.

I know that neither of these substitutes is inexpensive, unfortunately, but they will each do the best job of creating the same texture, flavor, and results as the cashew nuts do.

If you have an allergy to all tree nuts, then aquafaba mayo is a fun alternative to explore.

Meal prep and storage

The cashew mayo would be a great homemade staple to add to your meal prep routine. It will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can I freeze vegan mayonnaise?

Yes, you can! The vegan mayo, just like cashew cream, can easily be frozen.

Transfer it into storage containers, leave a little head space at the top of the container (liquids expand as they freeze), and freeze the mayo for up to six weeks.

What to do with vegan mayo

Once the vegan mayo is ready, you can use it in any recipe that regularly calls for mayonnaise.

Here are some of the recipes that I plan to try using it in:

This week, I've been doing a lot of tomato cheese sandwiches: a couple slices of vegan cheese, slices of perfect summer tomatoes, lettuce, the homemade vegan mayo, and some Dijon mustard.

It's especially good on my classic white sandwich bread.

A tomato, lettuce, and cheese sandwich is sitting on a small, round white plate.

No matter what you do with it, I hope you'll come to love this simple—and relatively nutritious—homemade mayo.

A mason jar has been filled with a vegan mayo, made from cashews. It rests on a white surface. Print Vegan Mayo with Cashews This homemade vegan mayo has only five ingredients, including cashews. It's oil free and ready in minutes! Course condiment, sauceCuisine American, FrenchDiet Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, VegetarianKeyword cashews, dairy free, DIY, nuts, staples Prep Time 5 minutesSoaking time 2 hours Servings 1 cup Author Gena Hamshaw Equipment Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained (140g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5-8 tablespoons water
  • Start with five tablespoons of water. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender or process in a food processor, stopping periodically to scrape the sides down, until the vegan mayo is creamy and completely smooth. Add up to three more tablespoons of water as needed, to facilitate blending without sacrificing a rich, spreadable texture. Store the vegan mayo in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Speaking of long, busy days, this week has flown by already! I'll be back soon, for the weekend check-in.


The post How to Make Vegan Mayo with Cashews appeared first on The Full Helping.

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