Biomarkers Inspiration Nutrition Recipes

5 MINUTES WITH AN EVERYDAY VEGAN: – Melissa from Hoboken, NJ

My name is Melissa, I’m a teacher in Brooklyn and just became a vegan as of February 2016. I live in Hoboken, NJ and love where I am and where my life is at. After becoming vegan, I decided I wanted to share some of my recipes and photos with others so I made my Instagram account @happybalancedvegan and am currently working on my blog. I also created a recipe e-book with some of my favorite go-to oil-free recipes to share with my followers.


How did you become vegan?


A little over a year ago, I became a vegetarian. I was having a lot of stomach issues and pinned it down to meat-particularly red meat. Every time I ate it, I felt awful after. I cut all the meat out and basically only eggs and cheese was stopping me from becoming vegan. I watched Forks Over Knives and the next day I decided to go vegan. I had watched it a while back, but this time was different for me and I’m so glad I made the change. Eating this way feels right to me.


What is the most common question you have to answer about your diet and how do you answer it?


Protein! Everyone always asks about my protein. I usually show them charts or images describing how plants have just as much, or sometimes more protein than certain animal products. I’ve learned from my research that we really don’t need an abundance of protein to survive, so I’m never worried about protein and try to make other people see that as well.

What is your favourite quick to fix vegan snack?

A quick snack for me is usually just some kind of fruit and nut bar. However if I have a little bit of time, I love to make a cucumber salad or have a rice cake with natural peanut or almond butter.


What is the perfect breakfast or first meal of the day?


I always start my day off with a liter of water. Sometimes it’s plain, other times I add lemon, cucumber or mint. I love potatoes for breakfast. I follow The Starch Solutionpretty closely so I enjoy getting my carbs in. If I don’t do potatoes, I will usually make a green smoothie or oatmeal.


What is your favourite vegan place?


I absolutely love By Chloe in Manhattan. She also opened up one in LA recently which is fantastic! The food is so good and fresh and it’s a great place to take non-vegans to, because they will love it no matter what. The burgers are insanely good and she makes these air baked fries that are amazing with a beet ketchup. I would eat there everyday if I could, however it’s even better when it’s a special treat.


What is your favourite vegan product?


Since I don’t really do too many vegan products and mainly eat whole foods I’m not too sure how to answer this one. For a treat I love Lucy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. I don’t eat them often since they do have oil in them, but they are a fantastic vegan cookie and when I don’t feel like baking but am in the need of a cookie, it’s my go-to.


Please share your favourite tips on vegan cooking?


I have always had a passion for cooking. I actually wanted to go to culinary school but decided to go down the path of teaching instead. I have grown up with The Food Network as my favorite channel and love food. It has been difficult for me to switch from standard American cooking to vegan cooking mainly also as I follow The Starch Solution and don’t cook with oils too. I keep a little spray bottle of water on hand for cooking which I use often and always use parchment paper or my silicone baking sheets to help prevent cooking. The best thing about being vegan though is that if you are craving something, just Google a vegan recipe for it and I guarantee you will find a vegan version you can create or put your own spin on.


Do you track your blood results? If yes please specify.


I am actually getting my blood tested this Friday-Aug 19 which will be 6 months of me being vegan. I got my blood test done right when I started so I am anxious to see what the blood results will be now.


Do you take supplements if yes please explain?


The only supplement I take at the moment is Vitamin D because from my previous blood test results, I found I was very deficient in Vitamin D. I know I’ll have to take B-12soon and if my blood tests aren’t as good as I’m hoping they are, I may need to start taking others as well if I can’t get them from food. But I am a naturalist and hate taking medicine, including supplements so it’s always hard for me to do that!


Falafel Recipe:


3 ½ cans chickpeas- rinsed and drained

½ cup plain panko bread crumbs

5 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 small onion

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt & pepper to taste

2 teaspoons baking soda


Non-stick pan for “frying” Preparation:

  1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and put them in a food processor with all the other ingredients except the baking soda. Pulse until you get a rough moist texture. Add a little water if needed.
  2. Move the mixture into a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and put aside, covered, for 30-60 minutes in the fridge for the flavors to develop.
  3. Take the mixture out of the fridge and add in the baking soda and knead a little.
  4. Wet your hands and shape little balls or patties (I like to make patties so they cook evenly on each side and don’t roll in the pan).
  5. Heat the nonstick pan add in a few patties at a time to “fry” until golden brown and cooked through. If they start to stick or not brown, add a little bit of water to the pan to get a good sizzle. Serve hot! Makes about 20 falafel ball or patties.

Get in touch with Melissa

Follow her on Instagram @happybalancedvegan

Get inspired by her food recipies in this recipe ebook

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