Skip the Gravy: Simple Oil-Free Sauces for a Delicious Plant-Based Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-sauce

According to my husband, Sam, no meal is complete without a sauce. And from what I’ve gotten to know about Matt, Doug, and the rest of the NMA team over the past few years, they’re into sauces too.

So when Matt and I started planning the new No Meat Athlete Cookbook, for which I wrote many of the recipes, we made a point to include several sauce recipes.

A good sauce can turn an ordinary dish into something extraordinary. It can elevate each bite into a flavor-packed delight.

And on Thanksgiving, that’s especially true. Most of the dishes on our extended family’s dinner table are easily modified to be plant-based, but without the gravy, the meal can seem incomplete, and even a little dry.

I usually whip up a standard vegan gravy, but this year I’ve decided to lighten things up a bit and created two new plant-based sauces for our big feast.

They’re both oil-free, nut-free and gluten-free, and they’re less salty than vegan gravy. And don’t tell your kids, but as a bonus I even decided to sneak in a serving of vegetables for flavor and added nutrition.

These two sauces are super simple to make (and are both reheatable), so even if you’re planning a long ride or run before Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll love this quick addition to the meal.

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45 Tasty, Healthy Vegan Snacks

Roasted spicy chickpeas

Note from Doug: A lot has changed at No Meat Athlete since Susan Lacke wrote the original version of this post. Our content has shifted to be 100% vegan, and the team (along with our appetites) has more than doubled.

So we decided it was time to give our list of healthy vegan snacks an update. We’re tapping into the ideas from our growing team and nearly doubling the number of options.

If you’re already familiar with the original list, you can always skip down to the new section here:

But first, part 1, written by Susan Lacke:

When I was a kid, I always swore that when I grew up my days would be filled with snack time and recess.

Twenty years later, though I still won’t admit to being a grown-up, I will say I’ve managed to make my childhood dream come true: life as a triathlete provides me with plenty of time playing in the water, riding my bike, or running around.

And the best part? The active lifestyle is one which definitely favors lots of snacking.

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The Sauce System: 5 Staple Vegan Sauces for Endless Meal Options

Traditional thai spicy red curry

When I first started to care about what I ate, my cooking repertoire consisted of Kraft Mac & Cheese and pasta sauce à la jar.

If I added a vegetable into either dish, it was my attempt to impress a lady (smooth, I know).

So when I finally felt the need to learn how to cook, I did what most people do … I bought a cookbook.

I chose one writen by a famous TV chef, went to the kitchen, and made a shopping list. But it didn’t take long to realize that following detailed recipes is both time consuming and annoying, and I was quickly back to heating up jars of red sauce.

That’s the hangup for a lot of new vegans, vegetarians, or people who simply want to eat more whole foods. Planning for and cooking unfamiliar meals is just too darn hard to maintain.

Which is exactly why I love cooking formulas — like the Chipotle Method — that break cooking and planning into an adaptable process to save time, use what’s already in your fridge, and eliminate the hassle of following a recipe.

This summer, my wife Katie and I developed our own system for meal planning. Only instead of a traditional formula, we use sauces. And it has completely changed the way we cook.

The Sauce System for Simple Meal Planning

Matt is a big fan of single ingredient meal planning, where instead of starting with a cookbook, you plan your meal based on an ingredient you already have. That process narrows down your meal options, and eliminates much of the frustration that comes from trying to decide what to cook.

Katie and I have taken that same philosophy, only instead of a single ingredient, we start with the sauce.

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Meet Switchel, the Original Sports Drink — and Our Favorite Homemade, Natural Running Fuel

switchel

Note from Matt: It’s official! Our new book, The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: 150 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts and the Rest of Your Life, is now available for pre-order, at just about every major bookstore.

Over the next few months I’ll be sharing a lot more details about the book, and today I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Stepfanie Romine, the plant-based chef, health coach, runner, and yoga instructor who co-authored this book with me. Stepfanie shares my affinity for streamlining healthy recipes and concepts to their simplest, most practical core (while taking care not to oversimplify), which made her a perfect fit for this book.

Stepfanie has loads of experience making workout-friendly food for herself and her husband, a competitive cyclist, and I absolutely LOVE the homemade, natural sports drink recipe (which tastes shockingly like grape Gatorade!) that she’s sharing with you in today’s post.

So without further ado … meet Stepf!

If you’re a regular No Meat Athlete blog reader, you’ll know that Matt is not prone to hyperbole. When he says something is “mind-blowing,” you take notice.

Just after we announced our new cookbook, Matt asked if I could share a few of the recipes with the NMA community. Excited, I flipped through my notes, went back and forth between a few workout fuel recipes, and emailed Matt for input.

He responded quickly, insisting I share this recipe for switchel.

“Seriously, the grape one was mind-blowing,” he said (again).

And I agree.

This sports drink recipe is a game changer. Having used switchel for going on two years now, I can say I’ll never go back to store-bought drinks again. Judging from his reaction, Matt likely won’t either.

My Search for the Perfect Homemade Sports Drink

I know what you’re thinking. Why make my own sports drink when it’s so easy to buy?

For me, it was the same reason I started eating dates on runs instead of gels and gummies. I’m a clean eater in real life, and my body was begging me to clean up my running fuel, too. Most common sports drinks, like Gatorade, contain processed sugars and artificial flavors, ingredients I want to avoid when putting my body through intense exercise.

As a distance runner, I knew I needed carbs to give me the energy to log all those miles, but my digestive system never liked what I put in. I had to reach a detente with my GI tract if I wanted to PR.

So I started experimenting. I made a few different homemade sports drinks that didn’t upset my stomach … but also weren’t too appealing.

Then I stumbled upon switchel. I can’t remember when exactly I first heard about it, but here in the organic farming and outdoor enthusiast epicenter that is Asheville, such things have a way of being common conversation. It sounded retro and cool, and the ingredient list was clean — with staples I already had in my pantry, like fruit juice, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar.

I couldn’t find an exact recipe, so I used the ratio of carbs to electrolytes in a typical sports drink as my guide. After a few attempts, I had fine-tuned the recipe. It was perfect.

I spilled the beans about switchel to Matt who gave it a try during his next long run, and it was love at first sip.

The Original Sports Drink

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18 Recipes for the Ultimate Vegan-Friendly 4th of July Cookout

BBQ Grill and glowing coals. You can see more BBQ, grilled food, fire

The 4th of July weekend is upon us, and you know what that means …

Cookouts, cheap beer, fireworks, and American flag undies.

Let’s ignore the underwear for now and focus on my favorite part of the independence holiday, the cookout.

It’s no secret that options at a non-vegan cookout are often limited. The host may throw a freezer-burned Boca burger leftover from the last cookout you attended on the grill — and that’s if you’re lucky.

But I don’t let that stop me. Cookouts are one of my absolute favorite summertime activities, so if I’m not hosting my own, I’ll offer to bring a few dishes to share when invited out.

In preparation for this year’s holiday weekend, I reached out to my fellow No Meat Athlete team members, Matt, Susan, and Esther, for menu suggestions.

Cookout food is all about keeping things simple, fresh, and easy to share, and together we’ve developed an absurdly delicious menu with options you can prep ahead or throw on the grill at the last minute.

Here’s what we’re grilling up this holiday:

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The Chipotle Method: A Simple Formula for Making Healthy, 5-Minute Vegan Meals

salad bar with vegetables in the restaurant

This post is written by Matt Jager from Don’t Lose the Cow.

Ever feel totally overwhelmed by the busyness of modern life?

If you’re anything like me, you know what it’s like to go for weeks at a time with hardly a break, from the time you slap the alarm in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night.

Between the responsibilities of work, kids, running errands, shopping, chopping, cleaning, cooking, and commuting, there just isn’t any time left over.

I’d need at least a 72-hour day to get it all done, have time to cook a healthy meal from scratch, and settle in for the recommended eight hours of sleep each night.

A little dramatic for effect yes, but the truth is that modern life can be downright exhausting. And when life is exhausting, what tends to go out the window first?

That’s right. You. Taking care of yourself. And along with that, taking the time to prepare those healthy foods that you know you should be eating.

But how are we supposed to eat healthy when we are so insanely busy?

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Meals on the Run: Pasta with Avocado Sauce and High-Protein Chocolate Pudding

Today I’m excited to share two delicious vegan recipes from a new Runner’s World cookbook, both for dishes I had the pleasure of eating when I visited RW headquarters last month for their half marathon and race festival.

But first, an announcement …

That’s right: the Kindle version of my book, No Meat Athlete, was selected as a Kindle Holiday Deal for November, which means all month long, instead of the usual 10 bucks, it’s just $2.99!

This also means — aside from Oprah surely blowing up my slide-out keyboard LG phone soon — that you or someone you love can read it now and go into the holidays with a full head of healthy-eating-and-habit-change steam. And even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still read via the Kindle app on any smartphone or tablet. You can’t read it on a slide-out keyboard LG phone, sadly.

To get the deal, check it out in the Kindle store, where you can get more details, see ratings, and read reviews. (Right now it’s #1 in both the Running & Jogging and Vegetarian categories!)

Most people who read my blog already own the book, I know, but if there’s a friend you can recommend it to while it’s so cheap, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

Meals on the Run

rw-pasta (1)

Want another idea for a gift you can feel good about giving? Runner’s World Meals on the Run, edited by Joanna Sayago Golub, is the “30 minutes or less” followup to The Runner’s World Cookbook (which coincidentally was released on the same day as my book, back in 2013), and I’ve got two recipes to share from it today.

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12 Cheap, Healthy Meals that Taste Way Better Than They Should

It’s frustrating to think about how much cheaper it is to eat junk food than it is to eat healthily, but don’t lower your standards for how you eat just yet.

Earlier this week I published a post about the best value health foods you can buy, a ranking of the nutrient-dense foods that give you the most nutritional bang for your buck.

Continuing on that theme, today we’re talking about cheap, healthy meals.

For those times when I’m in a hurry, I keep a list of meals that are fast and healthy, so that I can run into a store on the way home, grab something, and have a meal on the table in just a few minutes.

But when I was looking at that list recently, I noticed that most of these meals were also cheap. Cheap, healthy, and quick … not a bad list of qualities for a meal.

The twelve meals in this post aren’t exactly that list — a few of them take too long to be on my “in a pinch” list. But one thing they all are is cheap, coming in at just a few dollars per serving.

So here goes. My favorite cheap, healthy meals … and I hope you’ll use this list to start compiling your own, so that you’re never again tempted to go to the dark side just to save a few bucks.

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