Cheeze Sauce Heaven

I’ve found the one. The elusive faux cheese sauce that can go on anything: macaroni, rice, potatoes, veggies, as a dip for chips… I’ve tried three other recipes so far in search for the one that does it for us. They all have similar components and contain varying amounts of potatoes, onion, carrot, cashews or plant milk, spices, and nutritional yeast. Now for recipes that all the include quite similar ingredients it’s actually amazing their differences in tastes, textures, and colors. Yesterday I made a sweet potato based version that I thought I was going to love but ended up HATING it! I was ready to give up. As fate would have it though I logged into the McDougall Facebook group today and saw someone posted a cheeze sauce that they raved about. I decided to give it another try on this new day and I’m so glad I did because, “it’s the one!” We both enjoyed the heck out of it as part of Mac and cheese topped with a sprinkle of panko. 

The color isn’t as orangey as some of the other sauces but the taste wins out!

And later we enjoyed it again as a dip for oven baked potato rounds and as a topping for mashed potatoes (didn’t get a picture of that one, it was eaten too fast).

Speaking of faux cheeses we also tried moxarella last weekend. The texture was definitely goey and warm and very reminiscent of mozzarella. It was perhaps too thick though as our chips kept snapping and breaking off as we tried to dip them in (first world problems am-I-right!?). The flavor was a paradox, both good yet bland. I wasn’t sure if it would be something I’d make again but then today those McDougallers were on fire by talking about how they use it to make quesadillas and for pizza cheese! The quesadilla version sounds great with some mushrooms and peppers! I will try it as soon as I can find some compliant flour tortillas, 

Plants…It’s What’s For Dinner

McDougall compliancy is still a challenge but we are also not aiming for perfection just yet. We are on a limited oil plan still so that we can stay compliant on everything else. The oil part will come when the time is right, probably around the June time frame.  Let’s talk about all the good things that have been happening with our bodies even though we aren’t totally compliant yet! I didn’t hold back in either of our descriptions below so if you don’t want to hear about bathroom habits or period details I’d suggest skipping the next two graphic paragraphs. I wrote down all the intimate details so that anyone who is struggling with similar issues as us can see exactly what’s different now.

M has had a reduction in overall pain. He has been feeling more well rested despite the fact that he hasn’t been wearing his CPAP mask at night. He has been off blood pressure medicine for about a week and so far his blood pressure has remained normal! He has also been off of Prilosec for two weeks and his heartburn/hernia issues have become manageable with food choices.  This is a huge accomplishment as it is his big goal to get off most or all of his medications. Here’s to hoping everything continues to stay normal! His bowel movements have remained normal and he no longer runs to the bathroom in the middle or at the end of each meal like before. He can eat bananas again! He had always loved the fruit but until recently hasn’t been able to eat them without being blocked up for days. He now happily chows down on at least four bananas a week. And to cap it all off he’s lost about 10 pounds.

For me I just realized yesterday that I haven’t had any plantar fasciitis pain in weeks, not even in the morning when I first get up which is when pain was at its worst! I know I read that inflammation conditions would decrease or go away but I’m truly surprised at how quickly it really did go away. I had a period last week that was the most normal one I can ever remember having! It starting one morning with no “pre-period” as I had called it, (I used to wipe red tinted colored discharge for about a week before a real flow would start. The first day was heavy, the second day it was medium, and the rest of the other three days were all very light. I had little to none of the clots that I had been having (I was never quite sure if they were either in the normal clots or uterine fibroids range). Also the last day of my period in the afternoon I had one brown wipe and then that was it. I didn’t have any of the “post-period” blood or messiness that I’d been having for up to 5 days post-period. This period started and stopped quickly, was a normal flow and color, and it made me so happy! I’m not sure what all this means long term and for possible conception but it feels good to have a win under my belt in this battle. I mean the reason I’ve been doing all of this from day one was to create a healthy body and reproductive system in order to start a family. I’ve shed many tears of frustration, anger, and sadness over the years that I was stuck with this stupid body that didn’t do what it was supposed to do and to have a victory (albeit small) still feels really good and reaffirms everything I’ve learned about this Dr. McDougall lifestyle. I’ve also lost 12 pounds since starting the WFPB way of eating. I got to “shop” back in my too-small-for-me bins and wear clothes I haven’t worn in two or more years.

Here’s some pictures as to what we’ve been eating the past couple of weeks. Also, full honestly this past week we’ve had some cravings for SAD food. M has been wanting fast food burgers or chicken. He says mostly for the convience factor of having something quick and delicious without having to think about it. I have been missing scrambled eggs and fried egg sandwiches I think for the creaminess texture. But we haven’t caved into those cravings yet and don’t plan to do so if we can help it. So yes, somedays we go out to eat and have French fries, or other oil tossed grilled/fried veggies and food but we aren’t beating ourselves up over it for now. Sometimes you gotta crawl before you can walk.


These don’t look all that amazing but they had a really nice crunch that I appreciated.


Fire roasted corn on the cob with no butter or oil just some salt and pepper and it was still delicious!
Black bean wild rice burgers with sprouts, avocado, oil-free vegan mayo, and an oil-free compliant hamburger bun.

Mushroom and spinach spaghetti sauce penne with vegan Parmesan and an oil-free fresh baked ciabatta bread chunk!
Quinoa and lentil tacos
Breakfast is still hard for me to figure out, especially something that is quick and easy for on the go mornings. I stick to toast and/or fruit.
This meal was so so good. The chips and taco shells were not compliant but everything else was.
Spaghetti and wheatballs…omg so good!!

Old Science Is Not Bad Science

I believe if the general public fully understood the health implications of their food choices they’d be willing to make the change. This includes doctors who have very little nutritional training and follow the same general health guidelines the mainstream media puts out. In this day and age a healthy diet (according to the mainstream) is one low in carbs, high in animal protein, moderately high in low-fat dairy,  and with a good dose of what they deem to be healthy fats. Where sugar is evil and fats are good. New science comes out everyday but it is all basically the same info that I just listed repeated in a new and exciting way. I’ve tried many of these diets…Weight Watchers, Atkins, The Wild Diet, 21 Day Fix, Lean Cuisine diet, “everything in moderation” diet, etc. And during all of these I struggled in one way or another, most not lasting longer than a month or two. But all along I continued to read and research trying to find the answers to my questions. And I can say now with more confidence than I ever had before that this whole foods plant based no oil way of eating is the real deal. And I can totally understand why friends and family aren’t on board with this way of eating. I’m sure they think it’s just another one of my new fad diets. one that I’l try to get them to try but then by the time I get them around to my new way of thinking/eating I’ve moved on to something newer and better.

But how do I know that this is the real deal? Because this isn’t new science. Evidence about this way of eating has been around for hundreds of years. In the last 50 years or so the scientific evidence has now been thoroughly researched as to why this way of eating is the best for humans. I’ve compiled a list of books, websites, and movies that do a MUCH better job of explaining why fats aren’t good for your body and actually become the fat we “wear”, why carbs/starches are amazing and healthy not to mention slimming, why sugar isn’t quite the evil we thought it was and is not the cause of type II diabetes, why animal proteins are very bad for your long term healthy, and how any dairy product is the last thing we should put into our bodies and how the calcium in milk is actually one of the worst things we can do for our bones. I know this information can be things we don’t want to hear about. I truly get it and we’ve been there (and not long ago either I might add). But ignorance is not bliss in this case. This is information we may not think is relevant now but the American healthcare system has the terrible statistics that say it’s incredibly relevant. I encourage you to not take my word for it but to find the answers for yourself. Below you will find a list of books, movies, and websites that provide you with the facts you need to really understand how the food we eat can affect everything about you.


  • The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell
    • The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss, and long-term health
  • The Starch Solution by John A. McDougall and Mary Mcdougall
    • “John McDougall, MD, is a medical maverick who challenges medical and pharmaceutical businesses when they prioritize profits over patients. For the past 30 years he has countered mainstream misinformation with the fad-free truth and nutrition and your health.” biography
  • The Cheese Trap by Neal Barnard
    • “The Cheese Trap busts open the myths of cheese as a health food and provides an eye opening, mouth shutting view of the way cheese is produced and does damage.” -Joel Kahn M.D.

Movies/video clips: 

  • Forks Over Knifes 
    • “This movie combines the scientific and medical work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD Professor Emeritus in Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstlyn, Jr., MD, surgeon at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, and the incredibly INSPIRING story of two FORMER heart disease patients and two FORMER diabetes patients.” -Micaela Cook
  • What the Health 
    • “The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time. With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.”
    • A CNN video with chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta featuring former President Bill Clinton.


    • Dr. Michael Greger does all the research for you! He reads all the complicated scientific journals and spits them back into plain English. His website is a non-profit website. “If I or anyone else says anything as life and death important as diet your immediate response should be show me the science!” -Dr. Greger
    • Dr. McDougall ate the typical standard american diet but suffered severe consequences from that decision including a massive stroke at the age of 18. That event started him on a journey to find answers and led him to a career in the medical field. All of the information on his website is provided free of charge.


So please don’t take my word for it. I don’t want to you to do something because I told you to. I want you to do something because you learned about it yourself and decided it was the best decision for you or your family. And maybe you are at the point where you aren’t ready to change anything and that’s ok! The point is to at least take in the information. That’s a big enough step in and of itself. It took me 8 months to give it a try. It may take you longer, you have to be ready. But thank you for giving the science a chance to marinate by reading or watching anything from this list I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Mary’s Mini-Mini

The hubby and I are attempting our first 5 day Mary’s Mini. Dr. McDougall’s wife Mary McDougall created a short term (10 day) starch diet called Mary’s Mini. Since we are only trying for 5 days this first go around I’ve nick-named it Mary’s Mini-Mini. It is a short term diet that is designed to be kind of boring yet totally healthy. First you pick your starch. We chose potatoes because we know how to cook them in a variety of ways. You eat potatoes cooked using no oils or fats what-so-ever (as per the regular McDougall diet) with a small side of greens like a salad or green beans etc. You may also include up to two fruits a day. They say it is also a mental game to go through the whole 10 days and I don’t feel that we are ready for that yet but I do think we can attempt a 5 day version. On this diet (and in this case she does mean diet as a lose weight quick example and not the long term diet of what you eat daily) you should see some quick weight loss results. As we have been animal product free for a month now (yay us!) we have not been oil free consistently. Therefore we’d like to see how we feel and how much we lose by attempting the Mary’s Mini.

Today I had a breakfast of diced hasbrown potatoes with some herbs and a dash of salt and pepper. This is the first time I’ve cooked hashbrowns with out what seems like gallons of oil to cook and crisp them up. I used a ceramic pan to cook them (actually it was my dad’s ceramic pan since I’m staying at his house the next two days) and I’m pretty sure I ruined the pan for good. I’m hoping I can clean it before he comes home but from what I’ve looked up online today it might be a gonner. 😦 So keep that in mind if you plan to cook without oil! The potatoes were pretty decent, obviously not as crunchy as I’d prefer but perfectly edible. You are allowed a small dab of a condiment and I chose to have a little bit of organic ketchup with mine. For a mid morning snack I had a banana.

For lunch I microwaved “baked” three potatoes with a side of cooked frozen broccoli florets. I flavored both with just salt and pepper. Again boring and uneventful but perfectly edible.

For dinner I had potato wedge fries and some mixed steamed veggies. I have to admit this is a bit of a challenge and it’s only been one day! I’m looking forward to some sweet potatoes to add in tomorrow. Also I had plans to buy a personal watermelon yesterday but at the checkout I realized it was $7 and I decided to skip it. A fruit would be nice to snack on this evening but all I have with me are bananas. And I’m saving them for my morning snack. 

Ah well it’s almost time to shower and get ready for the next day. The weather took a beautiful turn for the better this afternoon. I tried to capture a picture that had the essence of the warm sun even though the ground is brown and cold still. 

Learning To Love New Foods

We’ve been cooking new recipes finding what we love and what we like. Some dishes are good enough and satisfying enough while others delight the senses and make us want to rave about it to anyone willing to listen. We are constantly teased by friends and family about how vegans never shut up about being vegan.  We try our very best to not bring it up unless someone specifically asks us about it. Maybe they are just being polite and hoping that we will give them a simple, “it’s going fine/good/bad/great” answer. Unfortunately we don’t give them the simple answer. We actually tell them all the exciting things we’ve been up to food wise and how it makes us feel. We are both excited  to share with our loved ones something that is a huge part our life right now. We’ve also been asked the question, “How long are you going to be vegan??” And the underlying message I feel that is implied is really, “how much longer do we have to hear about this.” My answer is, “I don’t know.” And usually the other person (if they know some of the reasons why) say, “once you are knocked up right?” But honestly it is my hope that I stay whole foods plant based no oil as long as possible (read the rest of my life) and most especially when I’m pregnant, breastfeeding, and raising my child(ren). And during the times that we have slip ups and mistakes as well as this new beginning learning curve we are in, then we would eat a vegan oil diet.

We are officially one month into this way of eating. I do feel like my taste buds are slowing changing.  I used to dress up everything with a sprinkling or ten of cheese. And just about anything I cooked at home had some kind of oil in it. I find my self starting to be completely satisfied with salt and pepper as a seasoning/topping and using water to saute and cook my foods actually allows me to appreciate each vegetable and starch for their own unique flavor in and of itself. I don’t miss cheese, eggs, or meat the way that I thought I would. I thought I’d long for them and dream about them constantly. It hasn’t been like that (perhaps in part because we have been quite naughty off and on with the oil?). I went out to eat last night with my sister at a Mexican restaurant. I never cared much for salsa and would always order a cup of cheese sauce to dip my chips as an appetizer. And my typical order of a chimichanga would include a heavy dose of melted cheese sauce on top along with beans and rice covered in shredded cheese. The meal she ordered last night was the typical American Mexican restaurant food you would expect. One that had oodles and oodles of cheese everywhere. Meanwhile I had enjoyed the chips and salsa (I even added some Tabasco which is totally unheard of for me if you’ve ever met me I’m a heat wimp), and a veggie fajita that had peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and cactus as the filling. With a side of rice and beans with no cheese and a small guacamole salad topping. My food was awesome! I had no complaints it was delicious, very filling, and satisfying. And when I looked across the table at my sisters meal I acknowledged the fact that yeah it would be nice to eat some cheese dip it wasn’t a battle of “ignore! You can do this! Restrict yourself!” It was more like a passing thought of your first love. “We had some amazing times. It would be nice to relive a moment or two of our time. But truthfully I’m happy with my new love, my real love and we didn’t last for good reasons.”

Another thing I have learned is that suddenly I’m so much more willing to experiment with new foods. I’ve never been a very picky eater. I’d eat anything that someone else cooked for me. If a member of my dining party wanted to eat somewhere “exotic” I’d be more than willing to give it a try. But while at that exotic new restaurant I would always find the one thing on the menu that I was most familiar with. Lately, I’ve been excited to try new foods that I never would have been willing to try before. For example last weekend we went to a Nepali/Indian cuisine restaurant called Himalayan Yak. Everything we ordered was something I had never tried before and actually it was things I had never even heard before. All of it was outstanding! I know we only live in Fargo, ND but the restaurants and food we have in town could rival if not surpass any big city.

The amazing food we had at Himalaya Yak: veggie samosa, veggie pakora, chapatti bread, vegetable jalfrezi, and gobi manchurian (the favorite of both of ours) served over white rice.

Whole wheat linguine with creamy garlic “alfredo” sauce and mushrooms, spinach, and peppers.
I think I have perfect my oil free no beef and broccoli recipe! Easy go to for supper.
Meal planning
I love Brussels sprouts so freaking much! I paired them with marinated mushrooms over quinoa.
Date night at the movie theater about to watch Beauty and the Beast. Also, did you know most movie theater popcorn is vegan?! Yes, even the “butter” topping. Healthy (not at all that’s a LOT of oil) but good to know it’s a vegan option if I’m craving it hardcore.

Soul Food

I wish being vegan automatically meant you were healthy. I know I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again but veganism is realatively easy. I kind of wish I could just be a “fat vegan” for a few months first. Did you know that Oreos are vegan? As are French fries and tortilla chips. I can hang with the vegan crowd. And that’s what we did tonight on our date night. That vegan restaurant downtown has some kind of buffet each month. We decided to go on our way to a laser show at the local campus planetarium. The food was amazing! This months buffet was dubbed the soul food buffet. With foods like fried chik’n, BBQ chik’n, baked beans, collard greens; corn bread, Mac and cheeze, gumbo, mashed potatoes, and homemade pickles it certainly reminded me of our recent trip out to Virginia. Shamefully I must admit that we each took three trips to the buffet. 😳 Seriously the food was delicious but it brought back some familiar uncomfortability. We were STUFFED by the time we were finished. Like just after Thanskgiving meal stuffed. The don’t touch my stomach bring me to the nearest bed so I can sleep it off stuffed. It’s not a pleasant feeling. And it’s something we haven’t experienced in 21 days. I think it has been a motivator in trying to remain compliant in a WFPBNO eating plan. You just don’t find yourself in that situation when you are eating compliant foods. Not only that but I had heartburn later on and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. We will probably skip the buffet next time. 

Plate one…the next trip I took more collard greens because I actually enjoyed them. I also took more pickles because they were exactly like my grandmas!

Tomorrow I will cook at home the whole day and stay compliant to McDougall. Happy Monday!

The Adventurous Type

I have had the best eats this week! School is on spring break so I am down in the cities visiting people. Yesterday I spent the day with Michele and her dogs. We took them on a nice walk around downtown Minneapolis and continued to set up her new apartment. I made left over quinoa and lentil tacos for lunch and yes they were still amazing the second day. Then we walked to the nearest brewery and had a great time talking and laughing and exploring their craft beers. After that we walked to Pizza Luce for supper. We ordered vegan cheesy garlic bread which was decent. I won’t lie “regular” would have been better but still it was nice they had an option. We ordered a half and half pizza. One side was called The Rustler and the other Athena. I know I wouldn’t be adventurous enough to try The Rustler on my own because it was described as a mock duck topping with tofu. Duck anything doesn’t sound appealing to me and I’ve never eaten tofu before. I guess it just never sounded or looked appealing. Luckily I was with a friend who is willing to help push me out of comfort zones and I have to say I’m so glad she did. The pizza was crazy ridiculous good. If I were to go back (which I certainly plane to do!) as a meat eater I’d still order the vegan pizzas. I think the big difference is the flavor profile. Yes melted cheese is awesome hello that’s why we all love pizza in the first place. But if you really think about it the typical pepperoni pizza is a lot of fat (and I agree the fat tastes great) but there’s not a lot of other flavors to go off of. All day today I’ve already been day dreaming about going back to Pizza Luce. I’m a big fan.

Athena pizza
The Rustler pizza both were made with their “rinotta” sauce NOT Daiya
Rinotta garlic toast