Vegan pesto with walnuts and vegan parmesan in the food processor.

Vegan Pesto Recipe with Walnuts and Basil

Nothing says spring like pesto — the burst of fresh basil awakens the mind and stimulates the senses. This vegan pesto recipe uses walnuts instead of pine nuts. There are a couple of reasons for this. 1. Walnuts are what I happened to have in my cabinet. 2. Pine nuts are mad expensive and this was not for a special occasion 3. Walnuts have tons of nutrients the body needs (omegas, b6, vitamin e, etc). and 4. You don’t always have to play by the rules! Cooking is often about tradition, but it’s also very much about spontaneity and convenience.

Jump to Recipe

Why is pesto not vegan?

Pesto is traditionally not vegan because it has parmigiano reggiano cheese mixed into it. For this reason, it’s very hard to find vegan at the supermarket or out at a restaurant. Luckily, if you have a food processor it’s super easy to make pesto at home, and more delicious too. Plus, there are no cows tortured to make your vegan pesto sauce, which is a huge bonus in my book.

Vegan pesto without nutritional yeast

Another variation is that this vegan pesto recipe does not have nutritional yeast. I love it with nutritional yeast but, in the name of convenience, I only had vegan parmesan on hand so that’s what I used this time. This worked out wonderfully because the original nonvegan pesto uses parmigiano reggiano. I realize some people try to avoid nutritional yeast so this recipe is a great option for you.

HOWEVER, to be honest I think it’s even better with nutritional yeast than vegan parmesan. It lends more of a cheesy flavor and marries perfectly with whatever nut you are using. For this reason, I will be putting a note about switching parmesan for nutritional yeast.

Pesto Without a Food Processor

I assume every person on the planet has a food processor because it’s my favorite kitchen appliance in existence. However, I’m shocked by how many people don’t. Many times I plan to make this at a family member’s home or AirBNB or close friend’s house and realize they don’t have a food processor! So there have been countless times I’ve had to make pesto without a food processor.

Actually, not using a food processor is the way that the old Italian grandmas used to make it once upon a time. Food processors didn’t always exist, so sometimes I really enjoy making pesto with a good sharp knife and mad chiffonade skills. It connects me to the ancestor spirits.

To make pesto without a food processor, all you need is time, patience and a super sharp knife. Here’s the method:

  1. Get a good, large, very sharp knife like a mezzaluna knife or similar.
  2. Chop very fine the garlic and a portion of the basil leaves. As you chop, continue to add the basil leaves until all are finely chopped. about 5 minutes.
  3. Next, add half of your walnuts and chop. Then add the rest of the walnuts and chop until all it incorporated and tiny. The whole chopping process will take about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Now, transfer the basil, garlic and walnuts to a bowl, add parmesan and olive oil, and mix to incorporate.

Vegan Pesto Recipe with Walnuts and Basil

Ingredients
  • 4oz (114 g) Basil, rinsed and removed from stalk
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (I used raw but roasted is fine)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp vegan parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Method
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor
  2. Process until smooth and combined. Do not over process or it can bruise the basil and create a bitter flavor.
Serving

There are countless ways to use pesto, here are some ideas:

  • Use as sauce for 10 oz of your favorite pasta with veggies. For this, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and mix in when adding the pesto to your cooked pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve as appetizer dipping sauce for veggie meatballs with toothpicks
  • Use on toasted Italian bread to make a pesto bruschetta topped with some chopped tomato
  • Spread on any of your favorite sandwiches
  • Use as a drizzle on vegan white pizza

Notes

  • Subbing nutritional yeast. You can sub nutritional yeast by putting 4 tbsp of nutritional yeast rather than vegan parmesan.
  • Adding water. To make it more smooth, light and creamy, add 3 tbsp of water

Calories in Vegan Pesto

This vegan pesto recipe contains 786 calories in total. It can serve 6-8 people, making each serving 98-131 calories per serving. Most of the calories come from olive oil, so if you are looking to cut calories, feel free to cut the amount of olive oil in half and sub with water.

Can you Freeze Vegan Pesto?

Yes, you can freeze vegan pesto. To freeze, place in an air-tight container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil before covering. This will minimize the browning of the pesto. It can be stored for up to 6 months. This is actually a great idea, especially if you have an herb garden with tons of basil that would otherwise go to waste.

To thaw and use pesto after freezing, simply defrost in the fridge overnight and mix with fork to smooth. Or you can use defrost setting on your microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until ready. After thawing, be sure to use within 5 days (do not re-freeze).

What’s your favorite way to use vegan pesto? Share your thoughts and enjoy this spring favorite!

Vegan easter candy, like chocolate bunny and peanut butter eggs on table with blue background.

Best Vegan Easter Candy (2021)

Easter is just around the corner, which means 2 things: bunnies and chocolate (oh, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ). I’ve been lucky enough to try lots of vegan Easter candy, so I wanted to share the list of my very favorite chocolates for this colorful occasion. I recently bought a ton of Sjaak’s Easter chocolate this year at ION Natural Market in Connecticut when visiting my sister. It’s sooo good! Thanks for stocking up, ION!

Spring goes hand-in-hand with chocolate eggs, peanut butter eggs, hollow and solid bunnies, and more vegan Easter candy wonders. Here are the best cruelty-free, non-dairy chocolates for Easter for you and your loved ones (kid-approved):

Sjaak’s

Sjaak’s has been making high-quality organic, vegan chocolate since 2004. They have chocolates for all occasions, including their extensive easter chocolate selections. For Easter, Sjaak’s sells:

  • Melk® Chocolate Bunny Filled with Gummy Bears
  • “Paleo Bunny” Coconut Milk Chocolate Bunny
  • Chunky Peanut Butter Filled Dark Chocolate Eggs
  • Caramel Filled Melk® Chocolate Eggs 
  • Vegan Egg PB Filled with Bunny Bites
  • Peanut Butter Crunch Egg
  • White Chocolate “Bunny Pop” on Coconut Milk Chocolate Egg
  • Coconut Lime with Coconut Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny Bite
  • Cinnamon Churro with White Chocolate Easter Bunny Bite
  • Cherry with Dark Chocolate Easter Bunny Bite
  • Mini Almond Butter Bunny in Melk® Chocolate

Buy Sjaak’s vegan Easter candy here

No Whey

No Whey’s vegan easter confections are soo indulgent, and all their products are 100 percent milk-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free and soy-free. Here are their Easter candy options:

  • Milkless Easter Bunny
  • Milkless White Bunny
  • Hollow White and Milk Chocolate Bunny
  • Mini Cream Eggs
  • Milkless Surprise Eggs
  • White Chocolate Bunny Pops
  • “Milk” Chocolate Bunny Pops
  • Easter Truffles

Buy No Whey vegan Easter chocolate here

Lagusta’s Luscious

Lagusta’s Luscious is based in New York so I would visit them in New Paltz whenever I was heading upstate and their shop is a-ma-zing. This fine vegan chocolatier has a unique and impressive selection of absolutely scrumptious vegan Easter chocolate:

  • English Cream Eggs
  • Peanut Butter Eggs
  • Milk Chocolate Marble Eggs
  • Strawberry Marble Eggs
  • Peanut Butter Bunny
  • Solid Chocolate Bunny
  • Chocolate Nougat Bunny
  • Strawberry White Chocolate Bunny
  • Woodstock White Chocolate Bunny

Buy Lagusta’s Luscious vegan Easter chocolate here

Rose City Chocolatier

Rose City Chocolatier sells vegan, belgian artisan chocolates. They have lots of wonderful Easter options from bunnies to eggs to truffle sets. Here’s their fine chocolate delights:

  • Chocolate Easter Shape Minis
  • Vegan Petite Eggs
  • Easter Chocolate Bunny Box
  • Vegan Easter Gift Sets

Buy Rose City Chocolatier Easter candy here

Lake Champlain

Though not a fully vegan company, Lake Champlain has a nice selection of vegan chocolate for easter. This Vermont-based chocolate shop sells the follow for Easter (all organic and kosher):

  • 5-inch Classic Dark Organic Bunny
  • Dark Chocolate Carrot
  • Semi-Solid Dark Chocolate Baby Bunny
  • Hoppy Easter Dark Chocolate Bar

Buy Lake Champlain Easter chocolate here

Moo Free

Moo Free hails from across the pond in England, and offer up a yummy selection of dairy-free chocolates for all occasions, including Easter. Here’s what they’ve got:

  • Organic Mint Chocolate Easter Egg
  • Vegan Milk chocolate Egg with Sour Cherry
  • Milk Chocolate Mini Eggs
  • White Chocolate Mini Eggs
  • Bunny Bar

Buy Moo Free vegan Easter candy here

Get your vegan Easter candy fix by browsing the options at these chocolate company’s websites or if you’re lucky you’ll find some in stock at your local natural market. Be sure to order soon to get them in time for Easter, and order in advance each year so you get your favorites before they sell out.

What’s your favorite vegan Easter chocolate? Be sure to share in the comments and Happy Easter to all!

Women with brown hair and tan shirt holding bunches of spinach and herbs in front of her face.

Why I Turned Veggan After 16 Years of Being Vegan

Why in the world did I become veggan — a vegan who eats eggs — after 16 years of being vegan? First, I turned vegan for ethical reasons in 2004, when I was just 14 years old. I couldn’t bear the thought of contributing to animal suffering, and so I gave up all animal products. For 16 wonderful years, I indulged fully in the vegan diet trying all the vegan ice creams, cheeses, mock meats, chocolates and baked goods in existence. There wasn’t a vegan restaurant in New York that I hadn’t tried (Peacefood Cafe is my fav, btw). However, dealing with various health issues that affected my quality of life, I made the difficult decision to become veggan in 2020.

Why veggan?

The reason I became veggan was due to health reasons. First off, I want to say I believe it is absolutely possible to be 100 percent healthy on a vegan diet, and I am so happy for those who are. However, every body is different! We need to recognize this. For me, being 100 percent vegan meant that the whites of my eyes weren’t white, my hair was losing volume and I was chronically fatigued. I couldn’t make it through a day without feeling absolutely exhausted.

And I was not a “junk-food vegan” — I always ate tons of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, quinoa, beans, legumes, seeds, whole proteins like seitan and tofu, healthy oils like olive and coconut, and superfood powders like spirulina, maca, hemp and more. That’s not to say I didn’t gobble up vegan donuts and fried chik’n every now and again, but my every day diet was clean, healthy, colorful and balanced.

Supplements

Vegans might be thinking, well what about supplements? Trust me, I tried! 16 years is a very significant amount of time to experiment with supplements. I got my blood tests and saw my nutrient levels, and was low in iron, D and B vitamins. I tried many different brands of B12, D3, chia and flax oil, iron, biotin, zinc, and multis at the recommended doses in the recommended ratios for years at a time to no avail. It helped but it certainly was not eliminating my issues. I will say Garden of Life has my favorite B12 and D3 (which I still take). But, it was very frustrating to try and spend all this time and money with minimal results. I was getting very upset and, though I didn’t want to believe it, I knew I needed to take another step.

How I took the leap to veggan

It wasn’t until 2016, 12 years of veganism, that I started to debate adding eggs to my diet. When I did research about foods for hair health and energy, eggs kept coming at the top. It made sense, since what I lacked (biotin, protein, B12, D and more) eggs contained in significant quantities in a super bioavailable form. However, I was stubborn and absolutely hated the thoughts of adding eggs to my diet.

For 4 years, I kept going back and forth in my mind about whether or not to add eggs. Sometimes I’d think to myself, “Gina, just STFU and deal with it and continue being vegan.” And other times I’d think “but you’re physical and emotional wellness, G! Eat eggs!” I thought I was being superficial and petty by adding eggs just because of feeling tired and not looking the way I wanted. But, it was starting to affect my mood and quality of life.

Ultimately, I decided my health and happiness matters and in 2020 found a brand of local, humane, pasture-raised eggs, hard boiled them, said a prayer of acknowledgment and gratitude and ate two. Though I cried hysterically the first several times eating eggs, I knew I was making the right decision. And now I can say I’m rarely tired, the whites of my eyes are white as can be, and my hair has regained its strength and volume.

How I maintain ethical standards as a veggan

Choosing eggs. The number one thing I make sure of when choosing eggs is that they are humanely-sourced. I eat only pasture-raised eggs (108 sq feet of pasture per bird) that have either a Certified Humane of American Humane Certified label. Plus, I prefer organic and non-GMO where possible as well. I also trust the Certified Humane label more than the American Humane Certified so I opt for those wherever possible. There are many pasture-raised egg brands I trust, and I always opt for ones that are local when possible. I also contact/call the farm when in doubt. I avoid caged (conventional), cage-free and free range as they do not meet my ethical criteria. That being said, I do know there are some trustworthy free range brands out there but be sure to do your research.

Consuming eggs. When it comes to consuming eggs, I make them only at home (so I know that they are humane eggs), and only in whole form. I primarily eat them hard-boiled tho occasionally consume in other ways (like veggan omelets and scrambles). Because I eat eggs for health reasons only, I do not use eggs in any baked goods or for binding. It is extremely easy to bake vegan so in my opinion there is no excuse to use eggs for baking — I consider that to fall under overconsumption and unnecessary consumption. I eat only the amount I need for health reasons, which is 1-2 every day or every other day.

Takeaway

As I mentioned, everyone is different. Some people can be totally healthy as a vegan and others can’t. However, this is not an excuse to mindlessly eat animal products. Eat only what you need at the frequency and in the portions appropriate for your body. Overconsumption is the real tragedy of this society, so we want to steer clear of that in all areas of our diet and life.

It was a very difficult and emotional decision for me to add eggs. But I had to honor my body. I still sometimes hate myself and feel like a bad person for eating eggs, but I know I do so as mindfully and humanely possible. And my body so needs and appreciates every last pasture-raised, humane-certified egg I consume. You need to ask yourself, what is the very least amount of harm I can do to the animals and the planet, while providing the most health benefit to myself?

Being an ethical veggan was an amazing solution for my health challenges with veganism. For you, the solution may be different. But I thought it was important to share my story. Be mindful, know your body, and eat as humanely as possible considering both your health and the wellbeing of all sentient beings.

A plate full of vegan chocolate chip cookies, tollhouse style on a distressed white wooden table/

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe: Tollhouse-Style

I’ve adapted this vegan chocolate chip cookies recipe from a regular tollhouse cookie recipe that makes the most delicious vegan cookies you can imagine. A little soft, a little chewy and bursts of chocolate with every bite. You can even get that crunchy finish if you leave them in the oven a bit longer. I personally like them a bit undercooked and gooey 🙂

Nothing is more satisfying than a good cookie, and infinitely better if no animals were harmed in the making. You know the best part? Vegan chocolate chip cookie dough is eatable! No eggs means no salmonella. Yayyy! And seriously, you don’t need the animal products, these cookies are legit identical to regular choco chip cookies. Vegans and non-vegans alike should make cookies without animal products.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

These vegan chocolate chip cookies are every bit as delicious as regular chocolate chip cookies. They are actually exactly like tollhouse cookies and perfect to make as a treat for your loved ones or bring as dessert to special occasions. These egg-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookies are winners everywhere I’ve brought them.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Servings: 20 large cookies

Materials Needed

  • 1 medium and 1 large mixing bowl
  • 2 cookie sheets

Ingredients

I always recommend non-GMO, organic ingredients wherever possible. Bonus points for locally-sourced <3

  • 2 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) vegan butter softened (I use Earth Balance sticks)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of original apple sauce
  • 2 cups (12-ounces) vegan chocolate chips

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the softened vegan butter, both sugars, vanilla, and apple sauce. Stir for a minute or two to really combine and bring the flavors together
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet sugar mixture until a nice dough is created. I usually start with a spoon and switch to my hands when the dough starts coming together
  5. Add in the chocolate chips and mix to distribute evenly into the dough
  6. Grab chunks of the cookie dough and make them into balls with your palms to make 20 cookies. You can also make 50 cookies from this same recipe by using a rounded tablespoons. But, I prefer larger cookies.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes. For soft, gooey cookies take out at 8 minutes, for crispy cookies take out at 12 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve with your favorite non-dairy milk!

I paired my cookies with a tall cup of Oatly oatmilk. Oatmilk is seriously my favorite now. I hope you enjoyed these delectable vegan chocolate chip cookies. Be sure to share your experiences baking these circles of wonder in the comments!

Peet's vegan breakfast sandwich after two bites with vegan cheese, beyond sausage, and just egg.

Peet’s Vegan Breakfast Sandwich Review

I was so excited that Peet’s launched a fully plant-based breakfast sandwich. Peet’s vegan breakfast sandwich consists of an everything bagel thin, a slice of vegan cheddar cheese, Beyond sausage and Just Egg. I drove over to the Peet’s Coffee location in Solana Beach, California on a cloudy day to try this vegan delight.

Peet’s Vegan Breakfast Sandwich from Peet’s Coffee in Solana Beach, California

To start, the Peet’s plant-based breakfast sandwich was even better than I thought. Of course it’s not like a big ooey gooey egg, cheese and sausage from your corner deli, but as far an on-the-go breakfast sandwiches it’s right in line with other fast food breakfast sandwiches as far as I can remember (Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, etc). I haven’t had a convenient breakfast sandwich in over 16 years so I’m super grateful to Peet’s for stepping up to the [vegan] plate when all the other places have not.

Peet’s Vegan Breakfast Sandwich Review

The overall sandwich was more flavorful and juicy than I expected. Let me break it down by ingredient:

The bread. To start, the sandwich bread is a flavorsome, lightly toasted everything bagel thin with sesame and poppy seeds. A lot of times bagel thins can be quite bland but this one was not — it lent itself perfectly to the sandwich.

The vegan cheese. The non-dairy cheddar worked perfectly in this sandwich. It is just one slice but when melted one slice goes a long way. The cheese was melted beautifully over the sausage and pulled the sandwich together making it ooey gooey (and combatting any potential dryness). We all know cheese takes anything to the next level, and this sandwich is no exception.

The Beyond sausage. Their preparation of Beyond breakfast sausage was great. They don’t dry it out at all, they retain its juiciness so it gives a very scrumptious, satiating feeling to the whole sandwich. And of course, the flavors in the Beyond sausage are on point — there is such an explosion of savory flavor.

The Just Egg. Just Egg is very impressive. This plant-based egg, made with mung beans, is not too flavorful, but gives a nice fluffy eggy consistency to compliment the flavorful sausage and cheese. It brings all the right textures that you would expect in a breakfast sandwich.

In conclusion, each element of Peet’s vegan breakfast sandwich works perfectly together to provide a satisfying on-the-go option for vegans and anyone looking to reduce their impact on the planet. It is currently priced at $5.95 and I paired mine with a creamy oat milk vanilla latte. Thank you Peet’s for adding this option to your menu!

Find a Peet’s Coffee location near you. Have you tried Peet’s vegan breakfast sandwich? Be sure to share your thoughts in the reviews.

Vegan white pizza with tofu ricotta, spinach and sun-dried tomato on a cutting board.

Vegan White Pizza Recipe: With Tofu Ricotta (No Cashews)

This vegan white pizza recipe is really, really, really good. I have been making pizza with my mom, dad and sister since I was 3 years old. I remember getting that round of dough from the corner pizzeria on Long Island, NY and loading it with globs of ricotta then topping it with fresh mozzarella from Uncle Giuseppe’s and our favorite toppings.

When I became vegan in 2004, did I have to give up white pizza? Of course not. I’m New York Italian — no way I’m giving up pizza. I just made it vegan! With the best, easiest and cheapest tofu ricotta, the finest dough of the land, vegan mozzarella of your choice and toppingzzz! In this case, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach FTW.

This recipe is very easy and definitely a crowd-pleaser. The trickiest part for me is working with the dough. Luckily my boo has a couple years of assistant pizza chef under his belt so he is a dough master. Thanks to him, my pizzas now look like circles and not like “guess the country” shapes. But if you don’t have these skills, luckily the mystery shapes still taste just as good as the circles, so shine on, you crazy diamond!

What is vegan white pizza sauce?

Vegan white pizza is essentially pizza that uses a vegan ricotta instead of tomato sauce. So vegan white pizza sauce is actually just a vegan ricotta. On top of the non-dairy ricotta, you simply put some vegan mozzarella and your favorite toppings. My vegan ricotta is made from simple, affordable ingredients like tofu, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper and optional fresh basil.

Actually, my tofu ricotta is kinda famous in my house and my (non-vegan) family comes lurking with spoons when they know I’m making it. I have to shoo them away or else there will be none left for the pizza! I also use the ricotta for my baked ziti, lasagna, eggplant rollatini, manicotti and more.

Facciamo la pizza!

(Let’s make pizza!)

Vegan White Pizza Recipe: With Tofu Ricotta (No Cashews)

White pizza is my favorite!! Though I love tomato sauce, there is something so indulgent and comforting about a white pizza loaded with homemade vegan ricotta and my fave toppings. This is the perfect recipe for a Friday pizza night. But whatever day of the week, vegan white pizza rules.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15-17 minutes
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

I always recommend non-GMO, organic ingredients wherever possible. Bonus points for locally-sourced <3

Materials needed:

  • Perforated circular pizza pan (non-perforated also works fine).
  • Food processor. This is pretty essential for the ricotta. I have processed it with my hands in an emergency situation before but it’s not nearly as creamy. Food processor is an excellent investment for vegan ricotta, hummus, pesto — so many things!

For the dough:

  • A “round of dough” from your local pizzeria. You can also find fresh-made whole wheat and regular dough at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • Flour, for your work surface and working with the dough
  • Olive oil, for greasing your pizza pan.

For the ricotta:

  • 1 pack (1 lb) firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)
  • .5 teaspoon black pepper
  • .5 teaspoon garlic powder
  • handful fresh basil (optional, but recommended for basil lovers)

For the toppings:

  • Your favorite vegan mozzarella. My favorite used to be Daiya, but for pizza now I gravitate more toward Follow your Heart shreds or Miyoko’s Fresh Mozzarella.
  • Your favorite toppings. I used jarred sundried tomatoes, and frozen spinach that I sautéed a bit with olive oil before putting on top of pizza. You can put fresh pineapple, sautéed broccoli, vegan pepperoni, artichoke hearts—the options are endless.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Rub the surface of your pan with a little olive oil and set aside
  3. Prepare the vegan ricotta
    • Place tofu and olive oil in your food processor, process until mostly smooth
    • Add nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and basil (if using) and process until smooth
    • Taste test to see if there is anything missing. This step is KEY! Add more of whatever it is lacking
    • Process until complete smooth and creamy and set aside
  4. Prepare the dough
    • Sprinkle a clean, dry surface with a generous dusting of flour (I used my countertop)
    • Work the dough into a medium circle so the dough is about a half-inch thick
    • Place the dough onto your lightly greased pizza pan
  5. Assemble your pizza
    • Dollop your ricotta on your dough and spread evenly. There should be a generous layer of ricotta
    • Top the ricotta with your choice of vegan mozzarella. I used almost a whole pack of Follow your Heart mozzarella shreds
    • Put your favorite toppings over the vegan mozzarella. I put chopped, sautéed spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and some additional dollops of tofu ricotta
  6. Bake your pizza
    • Place pizza on center rack in your preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and desired level of crispy. I like to take a spatula and peak at the bottom of the crust to see the color
  7. Serve.
    • Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into 8 slices. Serve, top with vegan parmesan, oregano, crushed red pepper or any other finishing touches.
    • Enjoy!
  • Vegan white pizza with tofu ricotta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes unsliced on a cutting board.
  • Vegan white pizza slice with tofu ricotta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes topped with parmesan and paired with Pellegrino.
  • Vegan white pizza with tofu ricotta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes sliced on a cutting board.

I hope you found this vegan white pizza recipe useful! Please be sure to share your results or any questions in the comments 🙂

Soft-boiled egg with seasoning on a white and black marble table.

Soft-Boiled Eggs: How Many Minutes?

Soft-boiled eggs have soft yet firm whites and jelly-like yolks. For so long, I tried time and time again but always ended up overcooking them so the yolk is a hard, chalky consistency. Or other times undercooking them so it’s a liquid mess (including the whites — gross!). If you want to avoid those 2 scenarios, it’s essential to know the perfect timing and how many minutes are ideal to make a soft-boiled egg.

So how many minutes to make a soft-boiled egg? After much trial and error, I’ve found that the perfect duration to cook a soft-boiled egg is 6 minutes and 30 seconds on a low boil. Make sure to not overcrowd the pot — each egg should have a place on the bottom. Also, be sure to use humane-certified, pasture-raised eggs to ensure there wasn’t animal suffering involved in your soft-boiled eggs.

How to Make a Soft-Boiled Eggs

  1. Bring water and half teaspoon salt to a low boil. It is very important that it is a light boil with small bubbles and not a roaring boil. We’re makin’ eggs here not pasta. Also, salt makes the eggs easier to peel.
  2. Carefully add your eggs in the water with tongs. Don’t overcrowd the pot, eggs should be fully submerged. Be sure to use tongs, otherwise you’ll either burn yourself on the water, or drop them from too high up and they’ll crack.
  3. Set a timer to 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Trust me, a timer is the only way you’ll really remember to take them out at the right time. Your powers of estimation may be good, but not soft-boiled egg good.
  4. Remove the eggs from heat. Once the timer goes off, remove them immediately from the water with tongs. If eating right away, be sure to rinse them in cold water so you don’t burn your fingers.
  5. Enjoy your soft-boiled eggs on their own or dash with some salt and pepper!
My soft-boiled egg. Look at that beautiful orange yolk! These are Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs, which I found at Trader Joe’s.
Menemen, a Turkish dessert, is made with eggs, sweet pepper and tomatoes.

Menemen Recipe: Turkish Eggs with Tomato and Pepper

I love this menemen recipe!! Menemen is a Turkish egg dish that combines sweet frying peppers, tomatoes and, of course, eggs. My fiance Mehmet is Turkish and menemen is actually the first thing he ever made for me. This recipe is pretty simple and straightforward in terms of ingredients, so it is important to find quality ingredients like organic, pasture-raised, humane-certified eggs; ripe, juicy organic tomatoes; and organic, sweet frying peppers.

The peppers

The exact Turkish sweet peppers (çarliston pepper) can be tricky to find in the US, so we used Italian sweet peppers (Cubanelle), which he said are practically the same. When we can’t find those (often the case), we use bell peppers or poblano peppers, which he said are an okay substitute. Bell pepper tastes fine to me but I definitely notice a better texture and flavor when we use the Italian sweet peppers.

The onion debate

Mehmet said that some families use onions in this dish and others don’t. It’s actually a hotly debated topic, which sparked a Twitter poll where thousands of voters were practically 50/50 about whether or not to use onion in menemen. Mehmet prefers without onion — he says it gives it a fresh, light finish that is more suitable for breakfast. So, this menemen recipe leaves onion out. However, it’s totally acceptable to sauté an onion into this dish at same time as the peppers for a more savory finish.

Menemen Recipe: Turkish Eggs with Tomato and Sweet Pepper

Menemen

Menemen is a breakfast that will give you the energy and strength you need to start your day. The pasture-raised eggs, tomatoes and sweet peppers work in perfect harmony in this simple, one-pan meal.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 Italian sweet peppers (Cubanelle), diced; or you can substitute green bell pepper or poblano here as well
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups diced tomatoes with juices, we used 3 beefsteak tomatoes1
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter (we use Earth Balance)2
  • 6 pasture-raised eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Chopped green onion to garnish (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat a medium pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Add diced pepper (without oil at first for a slightly roasted taste). Roast for 5 minutes.
  3. Add olive oil and continue sautéing for 5 more minutes until tender.
  4. Add the butter, salt, pepper, and tomato with their juices and saute until soft and hot, about 10 minutes.3
  5. Now, crack eggs over the tomato and let them simmer for about 2 minutes.
  6. Then, use a spoon to break the yolks and very lightly scramble them. You do not want to fully incorporate them as you normally would when you scramble eggs, only swirl them around a bit.
  7. Cook until just barely set, about 4 minutes. You can move the egg whites around a bit to help them cook. If you prefer yolks more set, you can move those around too and even extend cooking time.4
  8. Garnish with green onion if you wish and serve in the pan5

Notes

  • 1You can used canned chopped tomatoes as well.
  • 2Since we are veggan (vegan + eggs), we do NOT use dairy products of any kind. For this reason, we do not use real butter (contains milk). Earth balance is very easy to find in just about any major grocery store in the US.
  • 3You can cut these times by half if you’re in a crunch, but often with cooking patience pays off in having deeper flavor and juicier consistency.
  • 4An old trick for eggs in any dish is “if the eggs look done in the pan they are overcooked.” This always stayed with me, and it’s so true.
  • 5Traditionally this dish is eaten directly out of the pan or spooned onto each plate directly from the pan at the table. It’s a sort of communal dish, perfect with Turkish bagels to sop up some of the extra juices.
Menemen, a Turkish dessert, is made with eggs, sweet pepper and tomatoes.
Brown hen wandering freely on green grass with yellow flowers in the background, conditions for pasture-raised eggs.

What are Pasture Raised Eggs? Benefits and Standards

If you are trying to live a more conscious and ethical lifestyle, you’ve probably wondered to yourself, what are pasture raised eggs? Is there a real difference? Am I wasting my money? First off, no, you are not wasting your money. You can’t put a price tag on animal suffering, and anyone who cares about animal welfare would agree that a couple dollars more for eggs that are humanely produced is worth every penny. And, actually, many brands can be found quite affordably – you just need to know where to look. 

Also, yes, there is a major difference between pasture, conventional, cage-free and free-range eggs. So before you make your next omelet, learn about what sets the pasture raised above the rest. 

What are pasture raised eggs? 

Pasture raised eggs come from hens who are free to roam pastures, grasslands and forests, pecking for insects, seeds and grasses (their natural food) during the day. At night, they retreat to their hen houses to roost, nest and lay eggs (this also protects them against predators). While pasture-raised is not a specific certification in and of itself, it does imply that the eggs come from small family farms with large pastures for egg-laying hens.

Certified Humane and American Humane Certified, on the other hand, are official certifications that comes with a list of requirements for the production of pasture-raised eggs. To receive the Certified Humane or American Humane Certified label, the hens must be kept on a pasture 12 months of the year and there must be 2.5 acres per 1000 birds, or 108 sq. feet per bird. At night, as outlined above, the hens are kept inside. Pasture raised are the most humane of all the egg types.

Many brands have the Certified Humane or American Certified Humane label. If they don’t, it may be a smaller, local family farm that has not yet applied for this certification. If ever in doubt about the conditions of the hens at the farm you get your pasture-raised eggs from, you can always call them and ask directly for more information about the conditions for their hens. Usually, they will be thrilled to provide this information and maybe even invite you for a visit.

Pasture-raised eggs in hay with one of them cracked open to expose orange yolk.

Are pasture-raised eggs healthier? 

Yes, according to research, pasture-raised eggs are healthier than conventional eggs. In fact, a study by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has shown that pasture-raised eggs contain double the vitamin E and omega-3s. Folic acid and B12 is 70 percent more, and vitamin A is over 30 percent more in pasture raised. Plus, chickens who have had exposure to sunlight lay eggs that contain three-to-four times more vitamin D.

All these nutrients provide much-needed nourishment to the body. Omega 3’s lower blood pressure, preserve hair and skin health, improve mobility of the muscles and joints and support healthy brain function. Vitamin D strengthens the bones and muscles, boosts immunity, and helps prevent diabetes and hypertension. Vitamin B12 is essential for anemia prevention, higher energy levels and healthy hair. So, as you can see, they provide way more nutrients than conventional, which preserves whole body wellness and beauty.

Soft boiled pasture-raised eggs on toast with avocado and pomegranate.

Free range vs. pasture-raised eggs

Pasture raised 

Pasture raised eggs come from hens that are free to roam on grassy pastures year-round eating their natural diet of bugs, grasses and seeds. The hens retreat to hen houses at night for warmth and protection from predators. According to Certified Humane and American Humane Certified standards for pasture raised, hens must have 108 square feet of pasture per bird.

Free-range

Free range eggs come from hens that have approximately 2 square feet of outdoor space each for around 6 hours per day. The space usually contains a large flock of birds in an open air warehouse. The ground does not need to be comprised of living vegetation and is often dirt or concrete.

Cage-free

Cage-free eggs come from hens with no access to the outdoors. Cage free simply means, as it sounds, that they are not in cages. They are in a crowded room, building or enclosed area, with approximately 1.25 square feet of space per bird.

Caged

Caged eggs come from hens who live the entirety of their lives inside large, enclosed warehouses in battery cages that measure no more than a sheet of paper. They are unable to move or flap their wings, and there are usually multiple hens stuffed into each cage, which can cause extreme anxiety, pain and frustration.

Where to buy them

Know where to look for affordable pasture-raised eggs. You may notice if you go to your local supermarket, pasture-raised eggs are actually more expensive than in major health food stores. Conventional supermarkets price gauge a bit because there is no house brand and not much competition between pasture-raised egg brands. If you go to a place like Whole Foods, Trader Joes or even Costco, you can find a variety of brands (or at least a house-brand) and for that reason, more reasonable pricing. Here are some common stores where you can find pasture-raised eggs: 

  • Costco. Costco carries Kirkland Pasture-Raised Eggs (their house-brand) 24 for just $8.99*
  • Whole Foods. Whole Foods has their house brand 365 eggs at $4.99 a dozen. They also sell other brands like Vital Farms for $5.99 a dozen*
  • Trader Joes. Trader Joes sells them for $3.99 a dozen. My local Trader Joe’s was selling Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs.
  • Sprouts. Sprouts sells house-brand pasture raised eggs for $4.99 a dozen*
  • Local Farmer’s Market. Head to your local weekly Farmer’s Market where farmers of the region come to sell their eggs. Prices vary but it’s great to be able to purchase right from the farmer. You can even visit a local farm.

*Prices and pasture-raised egg supplier may vary according to region and time of year. Pricing as of Winter 2021.

Hen in the hen house on hay laying pasture-raised eggs.

Conclusion

Pasture-raised eggs are most definitely the most humane and healthy egg option at the market. However, since this is not an official certification in and of itself, you are going to want to do your research to ensure the farm is meeting your ethical standards. The easy way to identify this is via the Certified Humane and American Humane Certified labels. However, you can always go a step further and contact the farm directly if you have additional questions about their practices.

Best Vegan Cheesecake: Creamiest Non-Dairy NY Cheesecake

My dad’s and fiancé’s favorite dessert is NY-style cheesecake. So it was my special mission to make the best vegan cheesecake for the 2 most important guys in my life. I am from New York (Long Island) and somehow never had cheesecake growing up before I was vegan. I didn’t like it — give me ice cream or brownies or cannoli plz. I think cheesecake is something you like as you get older? Do kids ever like it?

Over 16 years of being vegan, I tried different vegan cheesecakes from plant-based restaurants (huge shout out to Darbster’s in South Florida for their insanely delicious non-dairy cheesecake). And learned what makes a cheesecake so delicious — a buttery graham cracker crust, a creamy, light and perfectly sweetened cake and a fresh topping to finish it off. So this Valentine’s Day I decided to go ahead and make an awesome cheesecake. And my fiancé said it was the best cheesecake he has ever had!!

Finding Ingredients

  • Vegan Cream Cheese. The key ingredient in cheesecake? Cream cheese! And luckily, vegan cream cheese is available everywhere (in the US) now. If you don’t typically make vegan desserts or purchase vegan products, don’t be intimidated, trust me you can find it. If you go to Trader Joe’s, there is a green and blue packaging for their store-brand vegan cream cheese. At Whole Foods or your local supermarket, you can find Tofutti or Kite Hill brand. I used the Trader Joe’s cream cheese and had incredible success. I would suggest one of these 3 brands for best results: 1. Trader Joe’s 2. Tofutti 3. Kite Hill (Original). I can’t vouch for other brands.
  • Coconut Cream. Be sure to ideally get a can of coconut cream, or if you really can’t find it you can get a can of full-fat coconut milk. Just please be sure to avoid light coconut milk. Again, Trader Joe’s is an easy spot to find this. They have a great canned coconut cream. You can also find coconut cream at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers and most any other natural-leaning grocery store. You may be able to find it in a typical supermarket, though it may be trickier (it’s not available in my local Von’s, for example).
  • Vegan Graham Crackers. Most graham crackers contain honey (including the ones at Trader Joe’s). If you’re vegan, this is an issue! However, Nabisco Original Graham Crackers do not contain honey. Luckily, these are pretty easy to find at any standard grocery store. If you prefer a chocolatey finish, you can use Oreos. If you want to make it gluten-free, use your favorite gluten free graham cracker or ginger cookie. I used the Nabisco Graham Crackers.
  • Vegan Butter. Again, available literally everywhere. I used Earth Balance for this and this is probably the one you’ll find too because this is the most common vegan butter brand out today. If you can find it, that would be my pick. Alternatively, you can use coconut oil if you prefer.

The rest of the ingredients are super standard that you probably already have in your home, so no need to offer tips on how to find them.

Best Vegan Cheesecake Recipe

This NY-style cheesecake is so good you would never know it’s vegan. It’s every bit as good as dairy cheesecake, but without the cholesterol or animal products. You are 1 step away from making the best vegan cheesecake for your loved ones (or just yourself, no judgment here). Best prepared the day before so it can chill overnight.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Chill time: 6 hours to overnight
  • Servings: 8 slices

Ingredients

Materials needed:

  • Hand mixer or fork/whisk
  • 9-inch spring-form pan
  • Mixing bowl

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons melted vegan butter (or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (for the crust, I used coconut sugar to bring down the glycemic index a bit)

Cake Ingredients

  • (4) 8-ounce containers of vegan cream cheese (48 ounces). Trader Joe’s brand works great, but you may use Tofutti or Kite Hill as well.
  • (1) 13.5 ounce can of coconut cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

  1. Prep.
    • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
    • Lightly grease the bottoms and sides of your 9-inch springform with vegan butter, coconut oil or baking spray.
    • Wrap the outside (outside bottom and outside sides) of the springform snugly with tin foil to prevent leakage.
  2. Crust.
    • Crumble your graham crackers until you have 1 2/3 cup. I did this by hand for that homemade touch, but you can use a food processor if you prefer.
    • Stir in melted butter and sugar until incorporated.
    • Press your mixture onto the bottom and a bit up the sides of your prepared, greased 9-inch springform pan.
    • The crust will be pretty crumbly and not overly moist. That is fine, don’t worry, it will hold together in the end.
  3. Filling.
    • Whisk all cream cheese in mixing bowl until smooth. I started with a fork then switched to handheld whisk. It took a bit of strength so yay for exercise. If you have an electric mixer with whisk or hand beaters you can use those.
    • Mix until uniform and creamy.
    • Add remaining ingredients (coconut cream, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and lemon juice)
    • Continue whisking until uniform, fluffy and totally smooth. Don’t overmix.
  4. Pour.
    • Pour your cheesecake filling evenly over the crust in the springform.
    • Make sure it is level.
  5. Bake.
    • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes. Do not open the oven during this time.
    • When ready, it should be slightly golden on top.
    • When finished baking, turn off oven heat and let sit in the hot oven for 10 more minutes.
    • Carefully remove from oven. It will be slightly jiggly on top, that is normal. It will continue to set in the fridge.
  6. Chill.
    • First leave the cheesecake out on the counter to cool for 20 minutes, then transfer to fridge for at least 6 hours.
    • I recommend whipping this dessert up the day before and letting it chill overnight in the fridge. I placed a clean dish towel over the top while it was chilling
  7. Serve.
    • The most fun part is taking off the springform and slicing into this beautiful cheesecake.
    • Slice a generous portion, top with your favorite topping and serve.
    • It can stay out on the counter for up to an hour, after which you should put it back in the fridge to chill.

Optional Toppings

Fresh Strawberry Topping

Slice a half-cup of fresh strawberries and set aside. Place another 2 cups strawberries, quarter lemon of fresh squeeze lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or sugar) in a food processor and process until smooth. Mix fresh strawberry slices in to the puree and let chill in fridge an hour or 2 before serving.

Chocolate Drizzle Topping

Mix 1 cup canned coconut milk, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup agave nectar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer in pot over medium heat. Remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup of (vegan) semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted and smooth.

Fresh Blueberry Topping

Set aside half cup of fresh blueberries. Place another 2 cups of blueberries, quarter lemon of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or sugar) in a food processor and process until smooth. Mix fresh blueberries into the puree and let chill in fridge an hour or 2 before serving.

It’s also nice to just have these toppings on the side in cute bowls with cute lil spoons and let your guests choose which they want to put on top.

Slice of plain vegan cheesecake golden on top, graham cracker crust with rose and strawberry in background.

And that’s it! It takes a little bit of time but nothing says special occasion like an absolutely delicious homemade cheesecake. I’m so excited to make this for my next family event. I hope you enjoy the best vegan cheesecake, and please be sure to share your experience!