Lessons From A Vegan Newbie in the Kitchen

March 7, 2011 by Keri

As I sort through photos and clean up the 3-year-old-birthday-party aftermath, I’m thrilled to have a guest post by the fabulous JL from JL Goes Vegan to share with you. Thank you so much, JL! Enjoy JL’s delicious post, everyone!

Lessons From A Vegan Newbie in the Kitchen

I started eating vegan a year ago. It was natural progression after an eight-year “pescatarian” to vegetarian to vegan journey. I came to the realization one day after completing a two week season cleanse. The only animal product I consumed for two weeks was two hard boiled eggs. I was an egg away from being vegan. So I went vegan.

This major life change shoved me into the kitchen. I have gone through cooking phases over the years but even when I was “into it” I wasn’t terribly imaginative. The number one lesson I’ve learned cooking vegan? Creativity is essential. I want to eat healthy, nutrient dense foods. I want those foods to be delicious. I don’t want to spend my life in the kitchen. This requires creativity.

Here are my two main ways to eat healthy, nutritious, quick and delicious food.


Why: These are my staples for a balanced, nutritious vegan diet.
What I use: Rice Cooker and Pressure Cooker
What I have made:

New Year Beans, Greens & Grains

Refried Beans (in the pressure cooker!) Nachos

JL’s Black-Eyed Peas in the Rice Cooker
Serves 2-3


* 1 c dried black-eyed peas
* 4 c of water
* 1 clove garlic
* 2 T dulse flakes
* 1 T earth balance
* 1 T Sriracha
* ¼ t black pepper

Rinse the black-eyed peas and place them, along with all of the other ingredients, in the rice cooker in the morning. Set the rice cooker timer to begin shortly before you plan to arrive home (for me 6pm which allowed for 10 hours of “soaking”) on the ‘regular’ cycle. Cooking time is 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.


Why: As part of my nutrition journey I have found that eating a higher raw diet is for me. It’s helped me tackle some digestive and skin issues and leaves me feeling highly energetic – to the point that I’m requiring less sleep!

What I use: Food processor, Blender and Dehydrator

What I have made:
Candy-Coated Buckwheat Granola (Raw)

Asian-Azuki Bean Humus (Mostly Raw)

JL’s Tangy Tomato Dressing (Raw)
Makes 2 cups


*1/2 cup cashews, soaked 1 hour
*1 medium tomato, diced
*1/2 a jalapeno, diced
*1/4 medium red onion, diced
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 lemon, peeled and quartered
*1 t coconut aminos (a raw alternative to soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
*1/4 cup filtered water (to desired consistency)
*Salt, to taste


Place all ingredients in blender and blend to desired consistency.

So, as you see, nothing fancy! I have just found a few ways to make things fun, delicious and nutritious in the kitchen.

Thank you, Keri, for inviting me to be a part of your great community!

Post-40 JL became a marathoner and triathlete, changed careers and transitioned from vegetarian to vegan. She now writes about vegan cooking (and wine!) and fitness. JL is a community college administrator and teaches nonprofit management at a local university. She holds a B.A. and M.S. and is currently enrolled in an advanced graduate program on Adult Learning. JL lives in metro New York City with her husband and two cats. You can find JL at JL goes Vegan: Food & Fitness with a side of Kale and on Twitter and Facebook.

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I Eat Trees is a blog featuring my adventures in all things vegan. My favorite recipes, snack food finds, and restaurant trials are all on the menu so enjoy!


  1. Megan says:

    Love the kale shirt!!

  2. Jess - The Domestic Vegan says:

    JL is so great! Awesome guest post.

  3. JodyLynn says:

    Ditto! to all of the above comments! Yummy new recipes to try out, yay! The raw for me, the vegan for me hubby. 🙂

  4. Great post JL! I’ve never used a rice cooker.. I love that you use it to cook beans!

    • I bought the rice cooker to make beans and grains! I had it for about two months before I realized I never made rice in it! LOL (you can make oatmeal, quinoa, millet and beans in it … amazing!)

  5. bitt says:

    Hi JL! Lovely eats. I have my eye on that adzuki bean hummus.