Remembering the First Vegan Recipe I Tried on Purpose
Do you remember the first time you felt truly inspired to make a vegan dish? I mean, on purpose. Everybody (even vegan naysayers) eats vegan food on accident. I’m talking about the first time you saw a vegan video online and thought, hey — that person seems normal, and that food they’re making looks delicious. Maybe all vegan food and vegan people aren’t totally weird?!
Or maybe you encountered a vegan recipe in the wild. I remember the first time I learned about nutritional yeast (nooch, to the initiated) during college — I was at a potluck at a new friend’s house, and one of the girls brought over vegan mac’n’cheese with broccoli. I remember tasting it and thinking “How in the world do you make this taste cheesy without the cheese?” Revolutionary.
But back on the World Wide Web, where I admittedly spent more of my time in college than I’m proud of, I remember discovering Laura Miller of Raw, Vegan, Not Gross. At the time, she was still operating under the company Sidesaddle Kitchen and was transitioning out of selling desserts at farmers’ markets and into making content online. I hadn’t come across very many vegans at this point in my life, just a few people I didn’t know very well like the mac’n’cheese girl — being from a small town in Texas shelters you from a lot of different lifestyles. But here was Laura, this witty, beautiful woman passionate about making vegan food. She wasn’t like the typical food bloggers I’d seen. She messed up on camera sometimes, laughed at herself, wasn’t totally scripted or perfect and her deep voice and laid back cadence aren’t the style we usually hear from women on camera. She wasn’t a crusty hippie, in the way I imagined all real vegans must be. In short, she seemed like a normal person I could relate to, and that inspired the hell out of me.
The first recipe of hers I tried was a vegan chocolate pudding made with avocado. Again, this “weird ingredient” vegan thing seemed totally revolutionary to me: Avocado? In a dessert? No way. But it turns out that the creaminess of avocado makes it a really versatile food. I eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner now — not to mention dessert. Below is my simplified version of Laura’s original recipe. The nama shoyu + balsamic add a certain depth of flavor. But if you’re like me and don’t have the time (read: are extremely lazy) the recipe is still great without them. Oh, and hot tip if you make Laura’s recipe: Do not substitute soy sauce for the nama shoyu. I know they might seem like the same thing, but they are not the same thing. Trust me — I learned this the hard way.
Brianna's Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Makes 1 serving. Recipe easily doubles for two!
1 large avocados
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil (It’s ok to eyeball it; we’re not baking here.)
generous pinch sea salt
This might be the best part because it’s the easiest thing in the world: Blend all ingredients in a food processor. And enjoy! Top with some mint leaves if you think you’re fancy (I’m not).
Nowadays, Laura’s main focus is on breaking the stigma around mental health and discussing depression at face value. This is a noble endeavor for sure and you should check out her podcast here. I’ll miss her recipe videos, but I’m hoping her cookbook will tide me over until she gets back into it. And if she doesn’t return to it, I’ll respect her for that, too. That’s part of sticking with your online heroes for so long — you watch them grow and change into the person they are, and if you feel you know someone (as much as you can know someone you’ve never spoken to over the Internet) their thrive will always inspire you. Besides, I’ll always have Laura to thank for inspiring the first vegan recipe I ever made on purpose.