I used to be one of those naive people that couldn’t wrap their head around stress-eating. What could possess someone to eat 6 cookies in a row out of external pressure? Isn’t there a more productive way to deal with such negative forces? In the last month or so, I feel like I’ve come around on that stance of disbelief.
As I’ve said before, I don’t really work at the restaurant much anymore, but I still take a couple shifts a week. I love the crew there, I love the field of hospitality in general, I love the obligatory after-work beers (or whiskey depending on what kind of night it was), but an unfortunate management-type situation has been festering away for a couple months now. I can be thick-skinned in the moment and I deal with the work just fine. A sense of dread still creeps up on me all day when I know I’m going in for dinner service. This anxiousness usually manifests itself in the form of what I’ll call “anticipatory snacking.” I get really caught up in making healthy snacks and very complete meals prior to my shift, mostly to avoid hangry-ness in a situation that I know will already have me in an iffy mood.
And I mean, the snacks and wholesome meals are helpful in terms of keeping my energy up and my focus sharp. But they aren’t totally necessary because we get more than enough to eat at work. I know I’m just occupying my time, trying to stay in control, and essentially avoiding any thoughts of disappointing new developments waiting for me when I punch in. It’s just a bit of a bummer in an otherwise very happy existence. Fussing over things to eat has been the stress-aggravated outlet for that small bummer. Never in a million years did I think cooking and anxiousness could seriously co-mingle in my life, but there it is.
There’s been a couple strategies to work on this conundrum, but the easiest one is just remembering and really latching onto the good graces that keep my life and state of being separate from the 12 teeny hours I spend at the restaurant in any given week. I give my puppy a few extra kisses, I’ll take an extra lazy hour on the couch watching this show with Mark, I’ll call my mom, I’ll make one of my fave superfood lattes, you get the idea. Refocus on the good and the good life will follow right along.
Simple, but slower-going recipes have been helpful too. Just an easy little meal that keeps my hands busy in a lightly focused way seems to put me in a good place these days. Enchiladas are something I make with frequency because they’re one of my man’s favourite foods. My versions are decidedly more American in their expression/ingredients, but we enjoy them all the same. They take a few pre-meditative steps, but it’s never anything too complex. Same goes for the ingredients–the list looks long, but it’s all everyday stuff for the most part.
Other than my main girl Ina G., the only other TV chef I watch with any frequency is Rick Bayless (this book is one of my all-time faves), so I sourced one of his recipes from Food & Wine for the sauce here. I went all starch and black beans for the filling because it’s winter and fortifying with carbs just feels extra right these days. The cheesy pumpkin seed crumble gets dusted on top and has a bit of a dukkah/healthy doritos vibe that I can’t get enough of. The lime cream follows my basic cashew sour cream method and just kind of lifts everything up. I put a lot of emphasis on the garnishes here because, let’s face it, enchiladas are almost always a hot mess/train wreck as soon as they hit the plate. Pretty it up if you’re feelin’ it :)
Just want to add that I also have some delicious sesame snap granola bars on BAKED this week and I did my first ever podcast interview with Pure Green Magazine too! You can listen to it here (I mostly talk about pizza). Big hugs for refocusing on what’s good this week. xoxo
cozy vegan enchiladas w/ lime cream recipe
sauce recipe adapted from Rick Bayless for Food & Wine
print the recipe here!
notes: There’s no shame in buying enchilada sauce to streamline this meal a bit. I like the Frontera ones (Rick Bayless again, whoop!) and Trader Joe’s makes a decent version too. I use a high speed blender for the lime cream–I’m not sure how smooth a regular blender can get the cashews for this. A little more water might be necessary if that’s the case.
1 medium sweet potato, 1/2 inch dice
2 medium potatoes, 1/2 inch dice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin, chili powder, coriander etc.
salt + pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
1 jalapeño, stem removed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small white onion, diced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is bomb here)
1 cup vegetable stock
salt + pepper
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours or more
juice and zest of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup juice)
splash of white wine vinegar
fat pinch of sea salt
1-2 tbsp filtered water
cheesy pumpkin seed crumble:
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nutritional yeast
salt + pepper
12 small corn tortillas, warmed
diced ripe avocado
sliced green onions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment. Place the diced sweet potatoes and potatoes onto the sheet and toss with the olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper to coat. Slide the tray into the oven and roast until pieces are soft and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove the tray and lower the heat to 350 degrees F.
While vegetables are cooking, start the enchilada sauce. Char the whole jalapeño in a large dry pot over medium heat (preferably cast iron or something equally heavy-bottomed). Remove the jalapeño and set aside.
Add the oil to the pot, then the onions and garlic cloves. Stir and sauté until the onions are very soft. Scrape the onions and garlic into an upright blender. Add the charred jalapeño and diced tomatoes. Blend on high until totally smooth. Pour tomato mixture back into the pot. Add the vegetable stock and simmer sauce until the texture is slightly looser than tomato paste. The colour will have deepened as well. Remove sauce from the heat.
Make the lime cream: Rinse the blender pitcher and drain the cashews. Place the drained cashews in the bender along with the lime juice, lime zest, white wine vinegar, salt, and water. Blend on high until you have a creamy and smooth mixture. Scrape the lime cream into a container, cover and chill until you’re ready to serve it.
For the cheesy pumpkin crumble, combine the pumpkin seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, nutritional yeast and salt in a spice/coffee grinder/mini food processor/mortar and pestle. Grind until you have a lightly textured dust. Set aside.
Place the roasted vegetables in a bowl and re-use the parchment paper from the baking sheet for the enchiladas. An 8×11 inch pan that’s about 2 inches deep is good here. Ladle about a cup of sauce into the bottom of the pan.
Set up an assembly line from left to right: warm tortillas wrapped in a dish towel, a large dinner plate, the bowl of roasted vegetables, the black beans, the pumpkin seed mixture, and the parchment lined pan with sauce in the bottom.
Place a warm tortilla on the dinner plate, spoon about 1/4 cup of vegetables on top down the center of the tortilla. Add a spoonful of black beans and a fat pinch of pumpkin seed crumble on top. Carefully roll it up and place, seam side down, in the enchilada pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling ingredients.
Pour most of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas in the pan, spread it out, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake until enchiladas are piping hot all the way through, about 25 minutes. Serve the cozy vegan enchiladas hot with extra pumpkin seed crumble, lime cream, diced avocado, green onions, and cilantro.