While I’m not a vegan, I do agree eating more plant-based foods is beneficial. I recently discovered hot for food on YouTube and have been binge watching since Friday. That channel, along with the host’s personal YouTube, are so entertaining and informative. I appreciate that Lauren Toyota is passionate about her vegan diet and lifestyle, but respects others’ decision to be vegan or not. She educates people, like me, about veganism and has sparked my interest to explore it more. To be honest, she makes it look so easy to eat a plant-based diet that is not boring. Even in her “What I Ate in a Day” videos, which honestly show her eating sporadically, has me intrigued. Admittedly, I’ve rewatched nearly all the episodes at least twice now. I should really click the thumbs up on every video, but forget because it plays in the background as recipe testing occurs during the workweek. I’m also the person watching on the treadmill and exercise mat. Often times, I see people’s reflection in the windows as they look at my phone, puzzled as to why I would choose to watch food being prepared or eaten while working out. Now that I think about it, my choice of gym entertainment is quite strange, but don’t judge me (or do).
Since watching the show, I’ve made a few vegan dishes that were inspired by hot for food. I share a lot of it in my Instagram stories, so make sure to follow. Typically a clean and healthy eater, I don’t struggle much to consume lots of veggies and fruits. It helps to have friends who own a bountiful garden, and I’m often sent home with far too much produce from photo shoots. For this reason, I have no excuse not to incorporate meatless and dairy-free meals into my routine. Fortunately, hot for food loves to share indulgent recipes, so I’ve got my sweet tooth covered. And let’s be honest, any kind of vegan dessert is likely to be more healthy than ones we make full of unhealthy fats and heavily processed ingredients.
Among the first recipes I officially tried from the channel was vegan nacho cheese. It reminds me of movie theater jalapeño cheese, which in my opinion is so fun to eat. This version contains a bit of brine that makes it tangy too. Then I saw a video about roasted poblano and jackfruit tacos. I only ate jackfruit sweet growing up, but since Lauren insisted the texture was like shredded meat, I had to try. And try I did as I combined the jackfruit recipe from her tacos with the nacho cheese to stuff hot peppers I picked up from my friends’ garden. A variation on hot for food’s cilantro cream dressing, which is made primarily with soaked cashews, topped the vegan stuffed peppers. I added avocados to create an avocado cilantro cream drizzle. A dollop of homemade chipotle salsa and sprinkle of locally grown green onions set me up for the best meal. Come to think of it, the way I approached this meal was much like hot for food’s “Recipe?!” series. Rather than tell you what it’s about, you’ll have to watch.
So how do I feel about eating plant-based foods and the concept of veganism? I actually enjoy eating veggies and fruits because it’s convenient, plus you get to have so much more of it without killing your waistline. In terms of veganism, I get it. While I may never fully live that lifestyle, I understand why people do, whether their passion is driven by saving animals, preserving the earth or respecting their bodies. From that perspective, I can certainly make an effort to eat less meat and dairy. It won’t be so tough now that I know jackfruit is a good replacement for shredded meat. Make sure to click through the links for all the recipes on hot for food’s blog. If stuffing hot peppers (you can also do sweet peppers), bake it filled and topped with nacho cheese in the oven at 400 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes. Finish with salsa, avocado cilantro cream and chopped green onions.