Sunday, December 11, 2016

Veggie Enchiladas

I'm not sure if anyone loves TexMex food as much as I do...tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas...I love them all, assuming they're free of animal products of course!  These veggie enchiladas are a favorite in my house, the filling is hearty and delicious and the sauce is SO creamy you will not be able to believe it is dairy free, but best of all this recipe is EASY!


For the enchiladas 
12 Organic Corn Tortillas
2 cups (approximately) Cooked Quinoa
1 head Kale (4-5 cups)
1 cup Organic Corn
1 can Black Beans
Seasoning to taste

For the sauce
1 Avocado
1 can Green Salsa


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Saute Kale leaves and mix in Quinoa, Corn and Black Beans
-Prepare sauce-- In a blender place avocado and 2 cups of Green Salsa or Green Enchilada Sauce

-Add seasoning to mixture to taste...I used Sea Salt, Pepper and Garlic
-Wrap tortillas in a towel and microwave (about 1 minute) to prevent cracking during rolling
-Stuff each tortilla with a heaping spoonful of mixture, roll up and place in baking dish
-Cover Enchiladas with sauce and top with your favorite Vegan Cheese
-Bake for 10-15 mins or until cheese is starting to melt

I hope you love these Veggie Enchiladas as much as my husband and I do!  Please let me know if you try out this recipe, I always love to hear from you! @allthingsmelissaann

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vegan / Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie


This is an incredibly easy and delicious pumpkin pie recipe to make for Thanksgiving!  I promise your omnivore friends / family will not miss the eggs or condensed milk from most traditional pumpkin pie recipes and will probably be surprised that this recipe is free of animal products.  I never loved the traditional Pumpkin Pie recipe but this recipe is so good that I could not resist licking the spoon and scooping any leftover batter from the bowl to eat! 

Note- This recipe is best if it refrigerates overnight so plan to make it the day before Thanksgiving!


2 15oz cans pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar 
1/4 Cup pure Maple Syrup 
1/3 Cup Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch 
2 Teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice 
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla 
dash of Sea Salt 


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Combine all ingredients: pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, almond milk, coconut oil, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt, in a bowl and mix well (it is really that easy!)  
  • Pour batter into a 9 inch pie crust, because I was focusing mainly on perfecting the pie filling I used store bought gluten free crusts (do not pre bake the crust), but I linked a few great pie crust recipes below.
  • Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent them from burning
  • Bake for approximately 60 minutes 
  • DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!! You will want to dig in immediately once your pie is cooled, I get smells heavenly and looks so creamy and delicious, BUT it has to set or the consistency will be more like custard than pie.  Once it's cool refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours or better yet overnight.

 Perfect Vegan Pie Crust

I did not use whipped cream for this recipe (nor did my taste testers miss it) but I have to admit that a little dollop of this vegan whipped cream probably would have been an AMAZING addition on top of a slice of this pie.

Dairy Free Whipped Coconut Cream- Light and fluffy vegan whipped cream. Mix. done.easy.

What dishes are you planning to make for Thanksgiving? I am making this pie and a veganized version of Green Been Casserole (will post recipe soon) Please let me know if you try out this Pumpkin Pie recipe, I always love to hear from you! @allthingsmelissaann

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Enjoying Thanksgiving as a Vegan at a Nonvegan Table

Let’s be honest feeling left out is never fun- sitting at a table full of food with a nearly empty plate because everything is laden with animal products is more stressful than enjoyable. For me personally, the past few Thanksgiving holidays have been a struggle.  Thanksgiving 2013 was my first year as a vegan and my husband and I visited friends in San Diego.  I didn’t want to inconvenience the cook so I chose not to mention my dietary preferences, she felt awful after realizing that she had only one menu item I could eat. The only thing on the menu free of animal products was brussel sprouts (which luckily I love, but I highly discourage eating a huge plate of them...the gas was unreal!!), but I could tell that she wanted nothing more than all of her guests to enjoy their meal with a plate full of food.  Needless to say it made us both feel uncomfortable, and I now know that she would have been happy to accommodate me by using vegan alternatives in the sides.  Thanksgiving 2014 my Mom visited my husband and I in Los Angeles, and I got into an awful fight with her in Whole Foods over having turkey…my Mom and I NEVER fight, she is my best friend, she was my maid of honor.  I lost the debate probably because I failed to properly explain to her why I was so appalled at the thought of her purchasing a Turkey.  I let my emotions take over instead of remaining calm and stating facts and calmly expressing my feelings. Last year, was the first Thanksgiving I felt like I enjoyed in a while, it seems like my family has realized that my veganism is not a phase, I’m obviously not dying of a protein or vitamin deficiency, they can see that I am feeling great so most of the nutrition questions have stopped.  I think one of the main reasons we all enjoyed each others company was because food was not the focus, we focused on each other instead. We enjoyed that we were all in the same city, under the same roof, sitting around the same table.  Regardless if this is your first or fifth Thanksgiving as a vegan you know that this day can be tough but I've vowed to make this year as good as the last, and I want to help you do the same.  
Tell the host!  If you are dining in a home other than yours I highly recommend letting them know what you do and do not eat.  You can offer to help them cook the day of or even offer to bring a few dishes.  Whichever you choose you should at least give them an opportunity to accommodate your needs, and show your enthusiasm at whatever adjustments they make for you. 

Love! If you choose to join your family for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, try to focus on the love at the table not the food.  This might be the first time in months that these people have all been in the same room together, enjoy that, relish in their company. Loving your family while they do something that you now feel strongly against does not mean that you support their food choices.

Don’t Protest! (Remember this advice is for enjoying your day, and you will not enjoy it if you are fighting with everyone) Unfortunately, Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by family and friends, is the wrong time and place to protest consuming animal products. Trust me, I’ve tried…it doesn’t work out well!  It is similar to discussing politics (which to be honest you should probably avoid this year as well!) Unless you’ve been vegan your entire life you once sat and enjoyed all of the food they are eating, so don’t talk about the horrors of factory farming or the environmental effects of eating meat.  This will not make others see your point of view, in fact your doing so will probably turn them away from veganism.  If you feel that you can't avoid protesting then I suggest skipping the meal portion with your family or having a Thanksgiving with your vegan friends.  

Be Informed / Prepared! When I first went vegan I was bombarded with many questions that I did not know the answer to- how do you get calcium, protein, B12, Iron? God gave us animals to eat, why don’t you eat them? When put on the spot, I couldn't even express why I went vegan except that I now knew that consuming animals was wrong. If someone asks why you’ve chosen to be vegan during the meal, by all means tell him or her! (You WILL get asked this...start preparing your response now!) Assuming they are genuinely intrigued, try to answer kindly and not make them feel guilty or uncomfortable; for example, you could simply say it’s the healthiest lifestyle for the animals, the planet and me. You could even attempt at humor; perhaps saying, my Mom always told me to eat more veggies! The point is keep it short during dinner, if someone expresses genuine curiosity let him or her know that you’d be happy to discuss after they are done eating.

Don’t apologize! Be confident in your choice to give up animal products, apologizing for that incredibly admirable and important choice sends the message that there is something wrong with it.  There is nothing to apologize for!

I hope this advice helps you to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving with your family and friends, I hope that you have the courage and compassion to be the vegan you would have wanted to meet before you started this lifestyle, and more than anything I hope your words and actions influence your family and that they will leave Turkey off of the table next year.

 How are you planning to survive Thanksgiving? I always love hearing you! @allthingsmelissaann

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Cruelty Free Winter Boots

Winter boots are definitely not needed very frequently for LA weather, but in the next few months we will be taking a few trips to cold weather locations and I'll need something to keep my feet warm and dry.  When I started my search for vegan winter boots I wasn't entirely sure what I expected to find, but let me tell you, I was so pleasantly surprised by all of the different options!! Now I just need to figure out how to choose just one pair!!

Cruelty free UGG look a likes!

 Could these be any cuter?!?! I love, love, love the versatility of these boots!  Outfit ideas are endless with these gems! 

These rain booties would look adorable with some cozy socks!

The mixed fabric on these are great!

I've always loved the wedge bootie from Toms but now you can have the same look with out the cruelty of leather / suede!

 If you missed out on the Soriah Over the Knee boot from this post Stepping into Fall these are very very similar!

I love that these boots are over the knee and have a very low heel, perfect for a cold winter day!

Can you go wrong with a classic cognac boot?!

 I've been searching for a pair of low heel booties for quite a few months...these might be a winner!  The buckle is adorable and I love the edgy tomboy look of this boot!

Winter Style Inspiration

 Image Source Unknown

Don't be afraid to mix patterns!

 Because I aim to live in a way that creates the least amount of harm I choose to reflect those beliefs in my purchases, and I hope that you will also send the message to companies that you are opting for more compassionate materials.  Animals have skin and fur for a reason, to keep them warm and protected, their skin and fur belongs to them not us.  With so many beautiful cruelty free options to choose from, why would anyone need to wear leather, suede or fur?

Which of the above are your favorite? I always love to hear from you! @allthingsmelissaann

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pie for Dinner?


Of course you can have pie for dinner, Shepherds Pie that is!  I am in love with this easy meal, it is perfect for a chilly fall evening!  It is, without a doubt, a "sweatpants" meal, not because it is fattening but because you will more than likely have multiple servings and your tummy will need some room!  My version of Shepherds Pie is healthy, warm, comforting, savory, filling and will definitely be a repeat in my house!


Mashed Potatoes
3 Medium to large Potatoes (I used Russet)
Olive Oil
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Salt and Pepper

1/2 onion 
2 c (I used fresh) broccoli florets 
1 c frozen organic peas / carrots 
2 c frozen organic corn 
2 c Beyond Meat Crumbles (or cooked Lentils)
Vegan mushroom Gravy 
1 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder (or two cloves minced)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Since it was a weeknight and I was short on time I used a store bought vegan gravy by was amazing and I am planning to keep a few cartons on stock for quick / easy meals.


Lets start with the mashed potatoes (my favorite part)
  • Cut the potatoes into cubes and cook in a large pot with boiling, salted water. When the potatoes are cooked and tender (about 15 minutes) drain them and return them to the hot pot over low heat.  Add in a little olive oil, garlic, and unsweetened plant milk (I used almond) and MASH them like crazy.
  • Preheat oven to 400
For the filling Easy peasy! You just need one pan for this part!
  • Saute the diced onion over medium heat for a few minutes, add in broccoli, peas and carrots, corn, and Beyond Meat crumbles or cooked lentils (both are delicious in this recipe), and saute until all veggies are tender. 
  •  Pour in vegan Mushroom Gravy and stir making sure to coat all of your veggies with its yumminess!
  • Add Thyme, Garlic Powder (or fresh) and salt and pepper to taste - Add in any of your favorite herbs and seasonings
  • Once you are satisfied with the taste of your filling, pour it into your baking dish
  • Top the filling with heaping spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and smooth out the potatoes so they cover the filling entirely 
  • Bake at 400 for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly browned
  • Cool before devouring!

I hope you love this easy recipe as much as my husband and I did!  If you try it please let me know if and how you modified the recipe and how you and your family like it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Broken Hearts, Getting Lost, and Finding Myself...

How do you rebuild a heart that is so shattered and broken?  For me I took my time, and piece by tiny piece I slowly put it back together in new ways that suited my soul. You might surprise yourself that in doing so, you will rebuild your heart and your life in a way that is so far from what you imagined but so perfect that you can no longer imagine living how you once did.

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a Mom, the entirety of my childhood I lived to care for my baby dolls and I played with them and loved them far beyond the years that it was acceptable. I fed them, changed them, used my allowance to buy them new clothes, cuddled them, and took them with me everywhere.  Growing up, a "Mom" was what I always thought I would be, I didn't really have any another plan or desire.

Flash forward to a few years after I got married and you see the grown up version of that little girl with the same plans for her future.  I wanted to spend my days loving my husband, and raising our children.  I even planned my studies and career around the idea that I would fill my house with children.  I chose to study education and to become a teacher not only because I love children but because I would have ample time off during school holidays and summer break to be with my future littles.  Seems perfect, right? Except sometimes things don't go as you planned and hoped for, after twelve long months of negative pregnancy tests and endless amounts of tears I realized something was wrong.  We sought fertility help for two years with no success, and no baby to show for our efforts.  The devastating process and constant struggle left me a broken shell of who I once was, and my marriage in shambles. To say I was exhausted and depressed would be an understatement... I was furious at any woman with a pregnancy announcement, a growing belly, or pushing a newborn in the market, I was miserable to be around...a grown woman throwing a constant temper tantrum for not being able to get her way. 

And then my husband saved me, he scooped me up and drove me (in a far away from everything I've ever known and everyone I loved, and we started a new life...and I began to heal.  I started to love myself again, despite all of the self hatred that consumed me from years of my bodies constant betrayal at not being able to do the ONE thing a woman's body is created to do.
The years of heartbreak and disappointment were necessary for me to become who I am today and who I will become in the future, my happiness is no longer reliant on starting a family with children because my life is complete just the way it is.

 We are all on a journey of discovery, don't spend your life waiting for tomorrow: for a significant other, for a better job, more money, more time or less stress.  Live in the moment, appreciate the good days and the bad, grow from them, and you will find all of the joy your heart desires.


quote:    I am not lost. To be lost, you have to know where it is you're supposed to be, and I don't even know that.:   I was finally happy after all this time I was finally happy and now my world has been turned upside-down.:   I stopped telling myself that I'm lost. I'm not. I'm on a road with no destination, I'm just driving with hope that I'll find a place that I like and I'll stay there. I'm not lost, I'm on my way.:

Monday, October 24, 2016

When I first adopted a vegan diet nearly four years ago I remember feeling incredibly alone, misunderstood, and disconnected from my closest family and friends.  How were the people that I loved, good people, knowingly contributing to such suffering and violence?  I struggled to not let these feelings affect my daily interactions and relationships.  I didn't know any one else who shared my new beliefs about what should and should not be considered food, it was not a good feeling.  

I was without a doubt certain that I no longer wanted to consume animal products, but I had no clue if I was getting proper nutrients, what to order at restaurants and how to make healthy vegan meals at home.  If I remember correctly, for the first six months or so being vegan I ate nothing but smoothies, salads and bean and avocado tacos!

The good news is BEING VEGAN IS EASY!  I promise! Here are some things I wish someone would have shared with me in my first few months.


- Don't make vegan difficult-  Focus on all of the foods you can eat instead of the food you no longer want to eat.  Your favorite foods pre veganism can still be your favorite foods as a vegan! I still eat pizza, nachos, macaroni and cheese, pancakes etc.  There has never been an easier time to be vegan!  Take advantage of all the amazing substitutes, and don't be afraid to play around in your kitchen "veganizing" recipes!

- Eat fresh fruits and veggies!  Most people assume that a vegan diet (not a fan of this word) is healthy, the reality is I could eat Lays potato chips, Sour Patch Kids and pasta everyday and still be vegan, but I would feel like shit!  I eat a massive amount of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, an easy way to do that is to carry them with you to snack on during the day.  My favorites are apples, carrots, red pepper, sugar snap peas and Persian cucumbers.   

-Eat protein rich foods.  Any modification to your diet is difficult, especially if you are feeling hungry or unsatisfied.  Foods like quinoa, broccoli, nuts and nut butters, spinach, green beans, chickpeas, beans, lentils, oatmeal, pumpkin and chia seeds are filling / protein rich foods.  Almond butter, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and oatmeal are great additions to your morning smoothies for added calories, fat and protein.  Adding chickpeas and quinoa to your salad will keep you fuller longer than veggies alone.  Keep quinoa, canned beans and frozen veggies on hand, if you're in need of a quick easy meal these ingredients topped with avocado make a delicious, satisfying bowl.

-Meet like minded individuals. The first year of my journey, I did not know another soul that was vegan.  Through searching for recipes, cruelty free products, etc I discovered a huge community of compassionate people via social media.  Join Facebook Vegan groups, or search hashtags; #vegan, #vegancommunity #vegan(yourcity) on Instagram to find vegans to connect with virtually or use if you're looking to connect with people face-to-face.  It is incredibly beneficial to have a conversation (in person or through social media) with someone who gets you and your passion.  I also think it is equally important to not withdraw from the nonvegans in your life.  When I realized the disgusting truth about meat and dairy, I expected that once I told friends and family they would make the change with me; however, that might not be the case.  Understand, that we all digest information at different rates, and all you can do is continue to educate them and hope that they will begin to share your feelings.

-Be informed. When I first went vegan, I didn't really have a clear answer of why I did so, I just knew that eating animals and their products felt wrong.  When people expressed interested or asked questions about my new lifestyle I always felt stumped and didn't know how to answer their questions. Having casual conversations with those around us can open their eyes to the horrors of factory farming, the effects meat eating has on our environment and our health.  Here are a few of the informative books and documentaries I read / watched when I was starting out :


Food Inc.
Forks over Knives

-Bring your own food to gatherings.  If you are unsure if there will be vegan options for you at a party or gathering, bring your own dish or two.  Being hungry while surrounded by food you no longer want to eat is not fun.  Bringing your own dish is also a great way to show people how delicious vegan food is. Pinterest is my favorite resource for recipes.

-Be proud of yourself! You have made an amazing decision to live in a way that creates the least amount of harm, be proud! Your choices are making a positive impact for your health, the animals, and our planets health.

I hope these tips help you as are starting out on your vegan journey.  Let me know ( if you've faced any obstacles since going vegan, I'd love to help you make the transition easier!