Southwest Corn Chowder with Chorizo-Spiced Cauliflower

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m sharing with you an incredible vegan recipe that just might convince even the staunchest carnivore to incorporate a few more plants into their day. I dreamed up this southwestern-inspired dish after a family barbecue that ended up with waaaay too much leftover corn. I didn’t get to use that  corn (sad face) but in the future, I know what I’ll be doing with it!

The real game-changer in this recipe is the chorizo-spiced cauliflower. Like I’ve said before, I’m ceaselessly amazed by cauliflower’s magical ability to become anything you tell it to—even sausage crumbles! I was so happy with the results of this little kitchen experiment that I think I actually screamed a little. I then topped some nachos with the chorizo cauli, and let me tell you, it was a GAME. CHANGER. Let’s get a hot and sexy close-up, y’all.

I mean. Look at those crumbles. They’re just begging to be thrown on top of tacos or rolled into enchiladas or… strewn stop a piping hot bowl of Southwest corn chowder? Yep. That sounds about right.

I think you’re going to love this soup. It’s got all the flavors of summer and all the richness of a creamy soup without all the gut-busting dairy. And best of all, it comes together in no time flat, meaning you can spend more time enjoying it, margarita in hand, on a patio where you belong. Cheers to summer—I’m so happy you’re finally here. 💚 What’s your favorite summer recipe?

Southwest Corn Chowder with Chorizo-Spiced Cauliflower

Prep Time: 15 mins   |   Cook Time: 30 mins   |   Serves: 4–6

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely diced
  • 4 small redskin potatoes, diced
  • 3–4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • optional: 1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika

For the chorizo-spiced cauliflower:

  • 1/2 large head cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and carrot, and sauté for 5–7 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and onions are translucent.
  2. Add potatoes and 3/4 of the poblano pepper (reserve the rest for garnish), and sauté for another 3–4 minutes. Add garlic and corn, as well as salt and pepper to taste, and sauté for 30 seconds.
  3. Add vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer for 10–15 minutes, or until potatoes have softened.
  4. While soup is simmering, prepare the chorizo-spiced cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into very small pieces (about the size of sausage crumbles). In a small bowl, mix together the chorizo spices.
  5. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and cook for 6–7 minutes, or until cauliflower has softened and browned slightly. Add spices and stir to coat. Add apple cider vinegar, stir, and remove from heat.
  6. Place about 3 cups of the soup into a blender with the almond milk, cayenne, and chipotle chili powder. Blend until smooth and creamy, then add back into pot with a splash of apple cider vinegar and stir together.
  7. Serve in bowls and top with chorizo-spiced cauliflower and diced poblano.

Classic Cheesecake with Strawberries & Oreo Crust + Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Food

I know what you’re thinking. Cheesecake? On a Wellness Wednesday? Girl, you crazy. But I promise I’m going somewhere with this. As far as I’m concerned, cheesecake fits right into a healthy, balanced lifestyle, and here’s why.

When I started this blog, I decided that I wanted my personal brand to be focused on enhancing all forms of wellness. I think that, often times, people associate the term “wellness” with a green-smoothie-drinking, yoga-on-the-beach-doing, no-coffee-no-alcohol-no-fun lifestyle, but that’s definitely not what wellness means to me.

Now, buckle up, because I’m about to whisk(!) you away down story lane once again.

When I finally lost all the weight that I had gained two years ago, I felt physically better, but mentally, I felt stuck. My relationship with food had been flipped upside down, and I began viewing food as a thing to fear. I never starved myself. I never developed a DSM-IV eating disorder. But I did restrict myself, and that led to several months of heightened anxiety and unhappiness.

I counted calories religiously (a practice that I now consider an enormous waste of time and energy, but don’t necessarily regret—more thoughts on that later) and beat myself up when I went over my minuscule 1,200-calorie limit. I couldn’t even look at a cheeseburger or a doughnut without feeling drawn to it, and then feeling a jarring pang of guilt immediately afterward.

I developed a fear—a certain disdain, even—of all the foods that I blamed for my weight gain and unsteady body image. It stems from my long, rocky history with health anxiety. Because I have such an overwhelming fear of chronic illness or disease, it can be difficult for me to grapple with foods I view as “unhealthy,” for fear that they might adversely impact my health later in life. It feels as though I’ll immediately lose 2 years of progress if I eat a single french fry.

This is still a problem that I struggle with occasionally, especially when I find myself at restaurants. It’s notoriously difficult to find healthy, sustainable options at most American restaurants, so I usually end up taking one of two routes:

  1.  I order the single “healthier” option that they have, which usually just means an iceberg salad with no fried things on it. Sometimes they even throw in quinoa, if they’re feeling generous. It almost always leaves me feeling unfulfilled.
  2. I decide that today is a day to ~treat yo’self~ and go big, ordering something wildly unhealthy. It’s usually fried and covered in ranch. It always—always—leaves me feeling unfulfilled and with a vague, lingering sense of self-loathing for days afterward.

This is a struggle that has followed me for years, and at times, it can make having a “normal” life seem impossible. And because we live in a society that bombards us with health claims, conflicting food-related headlines, and sugar-salt-fat bombs masquerading as healthier options, it’s a problem that a lot of my peers have, too. Health and nutrition are confusing topics, which is why I’ve made it my goal to help you find your balance and cultivate a healthy, fearless relationship with food.

Recipes like this one are my way of challenging myself and making peace with hearty, sweet, satisfying, not-that-healthy soul food. Because life is for celebrating, not for living in fear or punching calorie counts into an app. Even though I eat mostly whole, plant-based foods on a day-to-day basis, I still love baking, and that’s just a part of who I am. And yes, I do eat everything that I bake, but I usually eat one portion and the pass the rest on for family and friends to enjoy. So, let’s talk cheesecake, shall we?

This is my great-aunt Dorothy’s recipe, passed down to my grandma, my mom, and now to me. I’ve modified it a bit; Auntie’s recipe called for a simple graham cracker crust and no strawberry topping. I love her recipe, though, because of the sour cream topping. Anyone can make a cheesecake, but that zingy topping is what makes this cheesecake hers. It reminds me of my childhood every time I eat it, which is, I think, why I love it so much.

I hope you fall in love with this cheesecake too. It’s decadent, fresh, and perfect for summer celebrations. You could even try it with a regular graham cracker crust, too, but I highly recommend the Oreo crust. It was a challenge for me, but I’m happy to report that I tested a slice (for quality assurance, duh) and thoroughly enjoyed it. No negative self-talk, no regrets, no binging kale immediately afterward. I’m still learning how to live freely, but I’m getting there, and I hope that my stories can help you all get there, too. Have any of you struggled with your relationship with food? Let’s talk about it.


Classic Cheesecake with Oreo Crust & Strawberries

Prep Time: 20 minutes + >4 hours inactive   |   Cook Time: 40 minutes    |   Yield: one 8- or 9-inch cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Oreo crumbs, from 20–25 cookies
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, divided
  • 8 ounces sour cream

For the topping:

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp corn starch, dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with foil, grease lightly, and set aside.
  2. Stir together Oreo crumbs and melted butter, then pack into prepared cake pan, pushing some up around the edges. Set aside and prepare the filling.
  3. In a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together eggs and cream cheese until smooth. Add in 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and beat well. The mixture should be creamy, with no lumps of cream cheese.
  4. Pour filling evenly over crust and bake for 25–30 minutes, or until top is set and just beginning to darken.
  5. While cheesecake is baking, prepare the sour cream topping. In a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together sour cream, 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract until smooth.
  6. Remove cheesecake from oven, spread sour cream topping evenly over top, and return to oven for 8 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool in pan for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Once cheesecake is refrigerated, prepare the strawberry topping. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and corn starch slurry. Cook over medium-low heat, mashing with the end of a wooden spoon or a potato masher, until strawberries have dissolved and the mixture is a thick, chunky liquid.
  8. Place strawberry mixture in a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl, and push through with a rubber spatula until all of the liquid has been extracted. Discard solids and allow strawberry sauce to cool to room temperature.
  9. Once strawberry sauce is cooled, pour over the fresh strawberry layer, slice cheesecake, and serve!

Notes

  • I use a food processor for my Oreo crumbs, but if you don’t have one, you can put the cookies in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and smash them with something heavy, like a rolling pin or a cast-iron pan. This is also a good option if you have some anger you want to get out 🙂
  • You may need to add more or less sugar to the strawberry sauce, depending on how sweet your strawberries are. Start out with 2 Tbsp, taste, and add more only if needed. I like mine to be a little less sweet to contrast with the in-your-face sweetness of the cheesecake.

Beer Battered Cauliflower Tacos with Vegan Chipotle Cream

I got a request last week for a way to make vegetables taste good. In my experience, the best way to make anything taste good is by frying it. It certainly won’t be nutritious, but we don’t count calories here at FW. (More on that topic on Wednesday!) So here’s my answer to the tasty vegetable question: beer battered cauli tacos with a killer poblano slaw and some hella chipotle cream that contains no dairy!

Continue reading “Beer Battered Cauliflower Tacos with Vegan Chipotle Cream”

Blueberry, Apricot & Almond Overnight Oats + The Art of Balance

You know those moments when you just have to take a step back and breathe so you don’t absolutely lose your MARBLES because you have so many things to worry about? That’s where I’m at right now. Growing up, I was always the type of person who thrived in chaos. My senior year of high school, I was taking 3 AP courses along with 2 other difficult courses (my only “blow-off” was choir—but I didn’t even treat that like a blow-off), playing two lead roles in musicals an hour away from each other, getting ready for college, and totally, 100% killin’ it.

Continue reading “Blueberry, Apricot & Almond Overnight Oats + The Art of Balance”

Vegetarian Fried Quinoa

My main goal when starting this food blog was to encourage myself and others to make healthier choices. I don’t believe in elimination diets or even “dieting” in general. I’ll never be the type of person who can eat a bowl of leaves and feel satiated and happy. (But if you are one of those people, I’m glad you’ve discovered a relationship with food that makes you feel fulfilled.) I need carbs. I need food that feels like home and comfort and warmth. I need pastries bursting with berries and laden with half-melted cream. And sometimes, ya girl just really, really needs a slice of cheesecake. (Side note: stay tuned for my grandma’s legendary cheesecake with a special Feelin’ Whisky twist. It’ll change your life. Coming to the blog soon.)

Continue reading “Vegetarian Fried Quinoa”

Roasted Salsa Verde

It’s officially (almost) summer time, y’all! Nothing says “summer” to me like recipes that celebrate all the fresh, gorgeous produce the season gives us. (Mediterranean Kale & Bulgur Salad, anyone?) This salsa exemplifies quick, delicious, and seasonal, and it’s so easy anyone could do it! It takes just a few simple ingredients and a couple simple steps. Just think… 30 minutes from now, you could be face-to-face with a bowl of what my mom called “the best salsa I’ve ever eaten in my life.” True story.

Continue reading “Roasted Salsa Verde”

Mediterranean Kale & Bulgur Salad + Wellness Wednesdays

Hi everyone! First things first, I’ve decided to switch up my posting strategy a bit. I’ll be posting three times a week—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, you get three posts this week! Lucky you! I think holding myself accountable for posting three times a week will keep me relevant, keep y’all interested, and force me to be extra creative. All good things!

Continue reading “Mediterranean Kale & Bulgur Salad + Wellness Wednesdays”

Pink Greek Dressing

There’s a Coney Island restaurant in my hometown that has the best Greek dressing ever. I mean, I dream about this stuff. It’s this beautiful shade of light pink that I’ve never seen anywhere else, and it has these delicious umami notes that you just don’t get in other Greek dressings. When I found out what they used to make it pink, I was shocked. Beet juice!

Continue reading “Pink Greek Dressing”

Vegan & Gluten Free Banana Oat Pancakes + Morning Gratitude

I’m writing this post the day after I released my blog to the public. When I woke up this morning, I felt so overwhelmed in the best possible way. I never expected people to notice my writing like they did! I assumed people would come for the recipes, but I did not know so many friends and supporters would flock in droves to tell me how proud they were of me. I feel so many things—joy, excitement, and humility, to name a few—but more than anything, I feel so incredibly grateful.

Continue reading “Vegan & Gluten Free Banana Oat Pancakes + Morning Gratitude”

Curried Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with Glazed Grapes

Dreaming up this recipe definitely helped me restore some of the positive energy that had been lacking in my life. (Need context? See this post→Anything Frittata + A New Manifesto.) It was inspired by the absolutely LIT curried chicken salad at Whole Foods Market. Seriously, I daydream about eating whole tubs of that stuff on the daily.

Continue reading “Curried Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with Glazed Grapes”