For me, one of the best things about eating a plant based diet is getting all the vitamins and minerals I need through whole foods. Except for Vitamin B-12. B-12 is not found in plants or innately in animals. It is found in microbes in the ground.
These bacteria grow in the guts of animals, which is why their bodies and products can be a source of this vitamin. Our herbivore primate cousins get all they need ingesting bugs, dirt, and feces, and we may once have gotten all we needed by drinking out of mountain streams or well water. But now we chlorinate our water supply to kill off any bugs. - Dr. Michael Greger, NutritionFacts.org
So by eating meat we then get our needed B-12. However, by not eating meat now, I do have to supplement this vitamin with a daily pill. But why? Why is this one vitamin so important?
B-12 helps our metabolism function, and maintains and protects our central nervous system. Not getting B-12 in our diets can cause tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia. It can also affect our balance and increase our feelings of depression and confusion.
I've been taking a daily B-12 supplement for almost a year now and recently stopped for about a month only because I forgot to buy more supplements. During that month I noticed a drastic mood change feeling more irritable and even depressed at times. Once I realized I had stopped taking B-12 I started again and felt better almost immediately. I had no idea this vitamin affected me as much as it did until I stopped having it in my body.
I'm not one to recommend supplements when we can get all of our required vitamins and minerals through food, except again, for B-12. So taking one pill a day to keep our metabolism and central nervous system up and running isn't that big of a deal. The only thing to look out for is the specific ingredients in your B-12 supplement. I bought some from Trader Joe's and while they were readily available and affordable, the pills contained lactose in their ingredients. Taking a B-12 supplement with lactose while eating a plant based diet is a little counterintuitive, so just be sure to read the labels. I found Walgreens brand, CVS brand, and Nature Made brand all vegan and available at your pharmacy or online at Amazon.
Also, some nutritional yeasts do come fortified with B-12, like Bob's Red Mill's Large Flake Nutritional Yeast.
And here are some recipes of mine that include nutritional yeast with fortified B-12:
Nutritional yeast recipes
I love this roasted vegetable bowl because you can create a bunch of different versions. Just swap out some of the vegetables for other ones and top over quinoa instead of rice. This bowl is a great reboot if you've been struggling with eating healthy. Not only is it delicious it also makes you feel amazing!
I love ratatouille. Originally a French peasant’s dish, this is a super easy yet super delicious recipe you can make in under and hour. Normally I would roast the veggies in my oven, but there’s something summery about grilling the veggies and smelling their aromas while you patiently wait in the outdoors. I made this with two different sauces, tomato and pesto, so pick which one you would like best, or if you can’t decide, make them both like I did. (Don't worry if you don't have a grill - you can easily make this recipe by roasting the vegetables in your oven.)
Its Friday - you're tired from a long week, who wants to think about making dinner? If you think you can't eat healthy fast food I'm here to change your mind! Fast Food Friday recipes can be ready in under 30 minutes and they're super delicious and filling!
These enchiladas are super tasty and perfect for a weekend breakfast! Save yourself some time and assemble them the night before, saving the baking for the morning while the coffee is brewing!
Want a lasagne, but don't have an hour to make it? Make this soup! It tastes just like lasagne, but in the deliciousness of being a soup!
Before going vegan, one of my favorite casseroles was Chicken Divan. I've been craving it lately and I've finally come up with a vegan version that I swear tastes almost exactly like the original! Creamy sauce, salty vegan cheese, delicious broccoli and cauliflower, this is my ultimate comfort food! My picture doesn't do it justice, trust me - this is amazing!
Mmmm, comfort food. Craving some cheese pasta dish, but want it vegan? Look no further! Shells, cashew cheese, broccoli and mmmm, so good! You'll be glad you passed on the boxed powered package for this fresh, whole food recipe!
Did you love the Baked Eggplant with Basil Walnut Sauce? Want to even love it more by putting on a SANDWICH? Here you go! Get your tastebuds and napkins ready for this flavor explosion!
This is one of my favorite super powered breakfasts! Sweet potatoes, tofu, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions to power you up and get your day started with a load of antioxidants, calcium, potassium, and fiber!
Sautéed mushrooms, peppers, and onions on a bed of spinach and cashew cheese spread?! Just like a traditional philly this sammy is MESSY, but oh so delicious!
Marci had a version of this AMAZING breakfast scramble when we were in Tahoe a few weeks ago. We stopped at the Fire Sign Cafe in Tahoe City for breakfast after an incredible weekend in Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, and South Lake Tahoe and I was inspired by this special they had on their menu and decided to make my own version. I love this restaurant and they always have a few vegan options. If you're ever in the area make sure you stop by and have some of their delicious food! Until then, you can make this super delicious scramble!
I wanted to called this recipe eggplant parmesan, but obviously there is no parmesan cheese in it - its like a traditional eggplant parm, but with a twist. Much healthier and just as delicious!
Simple soups may be one of my most favorite things and this soup can't get any easier. Carrots, onions, ginger, curry powder and vegetable broth. Easy peasy with a touch of cashew cream. Dinner will be ready in under 30 minutes!
This is a super easy recipe to throw together on a weeknight - orzo pasta, roasted squash and garlic, and a yummy parsley pesto. Dinner will be ready in about 30 minutes!
I love this breakfast! Its super quick and easy to put together and will put any scrambled egg to shame! Plus it has 0mg of cholesterol compared to eggs that have 169mgs per egg which comes out to 53% of your daily value! Give this healthier breakfast scramble a go and I promise you won't be disappointed!
Breakfast might not get any better than this casserole. You can make it ahead of time and keep it in your refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. This is definitely a crowd pleaser!
March is all about Meatless Mondays! Ok, ok, everything I post is meatless, but what about those great meaty meals you think you have to give up when going vegan? March Meatless Mondays will take typically meat heavy meals and transform them before your very eyes!
Hold on to your hats, cowboys, this chili will even make a vegan-skeptical meat eater full and happy! The Tofurky Chorizo adds a ton of flavor to this rustic dish and the combination of pinto and black beans will fill you up in no time!
Its Friday - you're tired from a long week, who wants to think about making dinner? If you think you can't eat healthy fast food I'm here to change your mind! All these recipes can be ready in under 30 minutes and they're super delicious and filling! Today's recipe - Pesto Cavatappi!
January Taco Tuesdays continue! Its hard to find something better than a Breakfast Burrito, but these Breakfast Tacos give them a run for their deliciousness! Save some time and purchase pre-made pico de gallo and salsa verde and you’ll have these ready in no time!
You’ll never, ever buy microwave popcorn again. 1) This is way tastier, 2) Its way cheaper to make, 3) Its without all the weird stuff microwave popcorn has in it! 3 ingredients and you’re set for movie night!
January Taco Tuesdays are beginning! Each Tuesday in January I'll post a new taco recipe, and I'm starting off the month with my Mexi Tacos. Hold on to your hats, these tacos are going to blow your MIND! They are SO easy and quick to make. Roast some sweet potatoes, heat up some black beans and onions, make the cashew cheese, and top with more deliciousness!
I'm discovering that quinoa is my super food for running. Every time I eat quinoa the night before I run I feel AMAZING. Since I still have a lot of long runs to finish before the marathon I need to mix up my Quinoa Burrito Bowl for something else. In comes my new Broccoli Quinoa Bake. It has all the carbohydrates, iron and protein I need to stock up on before my double digit runs!
Get ready! Here's a new risotto recipe! Soon I'll have one for all the seasons! This risotto is ALSO creamy, fresh, and full of flavor. It mixes the best of summer with basil, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms.
This lasagne uses both pesto sauce and marinara and is full of mushrooms, spinach, and shredded zucchini. A delicious twist on classic lasagne and super easy to make!
Here's a super simple soup to make on a chilly weeknight. Creamy and chunky, warm and comforting, make it one night and eat it all week!
Ready for some roasted potato goodness? These Irish Nachos are a great take on traditional nachos using potatoes, lentils, quinoa, onions, salsa, cilantro, and a homemade cashew cheese! Don't fear the cashew cheese - its super easy and super delicious!
Alright, this seems like a lot of ingredients, but its actually super quick to put together. And trust me, the extra effort is totally worth it! Tofu, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach and more deliciousness!
I actually think this is easier to make than lasagne. Its easy to figure out how much to make, and you have tons of options as to how to fill the rolls. I chose green chard, eggplant, mushrooms, and cashew cheese for this filling.
Super quick - you can make this recipe in about 15 minutes. A new take on pesto using the abundance of arugula on hand this season!
A great side or main dish - this recipes includes all things summer: green beans, tomatoes, and fresh basil. A great grilled summer dish!
Here is my basic basil pesto recipe. You can toss it with pasta, use it in lasagnes, mix it with Vegenaise for a pesto mayo, or toss it in salads and quinoa. This pesto recipe has been updated to use no oil - its much healthier now and I doubt you could taste the difference!
Don't fear the cashew cream. It is AWESOME. The flavor is like a cheese sauce, but a little nutty, a little garlicky, and super delicious. My goal with this recipe was to make enchiladas, but I tend to go overboard with the filling and topping so it ends up more like a casserole. I almost like it better as a casserole because its easier to serve up. AND it makes great leftovers.
Cashew Cheese is great adding to so many dishes. Its great in lasagnes, topped on potatoes, spread on sandwiches and burritos, added to nachos - you can use it anywhere you'd use a cheese sauce. Its incredibly nutritious using raw unsalted cashews and nutritional yeast as its base. You can also add in other ingredients to make Basil Cashew Cheese, or Sriracha Cashew Cheese, or even Lemon Parsley Cashew Cheese.