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Namely Marly

Author Releases Vegan Meal Prep Cookbook to Make Mealtime a Snap

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Article by Natalie Fieleke

Photography by Shawn Beelman

Originally published in Lee's Summit Lifestyle

Marly McMillen is an unlikely vegan food blogger and cookbook author. In her 20s, spending time in the kitchen felt overly domestic. Giving up M&Ms and mozzarella was a struggle. And she wasn’t trying to make a moral statement with her diet.

But lifelong stomach problems led her to eliminate dairy. Then in 2006 when she met her husband, Shawn Beelman, also a vegan, she was even more motivated to explore and fully adopt veganism as a lifestyle.

“Everyone just needs to eat in a way that respects their body,” McMillen says, who describes herself as a ‘secular vegan’–not someone who is in your face about all the reasons she thinks you should become one too. “I enjoy feeling like I’m being easier on the environment and being healthy–for me it’s been a very good decision.”

McMillen’s book, The Everything Vegan Meal Prep Cookbook published by Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster, comes out this month, with all content written by her and photographed by her husband, Shawn. It includes everything from super-indulgent treats to whole-food recipes written to make it easy to get dinner on the table.

McMillen describes her method of meal prep as ‘batch cooking,’ meaning she always makes a recipe in quantity to repurpose for another meal or to freeze some for later. Lately, her fridge and freezer have been packed with delicious vegan food that she’s prepared in advance–Mexican lasagna, pasta primavera, a mixture to throw together her crispy black bean burritos–and now she’s working to revamp her cinnamon roll recipe.

Her goal is to take comfort foods that readers may have grown up with, such as mac and cheese, nachos, or potato salad, and make delicious plant-based versions of them. As a vegan, McMillen personally doesn’t like to feel deprived of all her old favorites, and she doesn’t want her readers to feel this way either.

“My culinary perspective falls between whole-food plant-based and indulgent, and I really like having a mixture. I make chia seed pudding, and I also make Texas sheet cake. Balance is important.”

While the cookbook’s print release is an important landmark, it stems from McMillen’s years of work developing recipe content online. McMillen always wanted to be a writer, but her MBA degree led her to a career path as an executive director of a physicians’ organization and then as a COO for a startup. She began her blog, Namely Marly, in 2009, as a side project to express her passion for writing. In 2011, she transitioned her blog content to be food and recipe-focused. In 2015, she began to consider that her writing hobby could become her livelihood.

She took an online course in plant-based recipe creation to identify recipes that would be simple for her online audience to follow. That year, she also launched Chopped Academy, a website and podcast where she shares blogging tips with fellow food bloggers and experts as a resource to other writers and bloggers.

Today, standing in the kitchen, touching and smelling, using both sides of her brain, and writing nourishing, delicious recipes feels simply natural to Marly.

“Blogging is the best combination of my writing skills, my creativity, my desire to be entrepreneurial, all of those things fall together,” she says.

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plant-based milk (vanilla or plain)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 cups flour (1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup vegan sour cream (we use Tofutti sour cream)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For the chocolate ganache frosting:

  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ¼ cup soy milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Instructions

For the cake:

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray half-sized sheet cake pan (12x16x3 inches) with cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine milk and apple cider vinegar. Stir. Set aside.

Combine butter, peanut butter, water, and cocoa powder in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Place in the microwave and heat until butters melt.

In a separate bowl, add sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to the vegan butter mixture and stir to combine.

To the bowl with the milk, add the applesauce, vegan sour cream, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add this to the batter and stir.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–25 minutes. 

For the chocolate ganache frosting:

Combine vegan butter, cocoa powder, and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second increments until the mixture begins to boil. 

Add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Once cake is done, remove from the oven. Spread frosting over cake while still hot. Place a half pecan piece in the center of where each slice will be.

Sweet Corn Salsa

Ingredients

  • 3 ears fresh corn, still in the husk or 1½ cup frozen
  • ​​​​​​​2 tsps. fresh jalapeños, rinsed to remove seeds, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from one lime
  • ½ tsp. sea salt

Instructions

Place the 3 ears of corn, still in the husk, in the microwave and cook for 12 minutes. Place the hot ears of corn on a cutting board. Chop off the bottom of the corn, and then use your gloved hands to press the corn out of the husk from the other end. 

Allow the ears of corn some time to cool and then use a serrated knife to shave off the corn. 

Place the corn in a dish and add the finely chopped jalapeños, red onion, and chopped cilantro. Squeeze juice from one lime, add the salt and stir until well-combined.

 

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Ingredients

Blueberry Filling

  • 3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • ​​​​​​​½ cup water
  • 1 T. agar flakes
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup agave nectar (or maple syrup/honey)

Oatmeal Crumble

  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 T. ground flax meal
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ⅓ cup agave nectar (or maple syrup/honey)
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup plant-based milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare square baking dish with vegetable cooking spray.

Place blueberries in saucepan. Add water and agar flakes to blueberry mixture and stir. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Pour the lemon juice and agave in the blueberries. Stir to combine. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. 

Combine the oats, almond meal, flax meal, baking powder, and sea salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Scoot the ingredients to one side of the bowl. In the other half of the bowl combine the applesauce, agave nectar, almond butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together. Add a tablespoon or two of water, if necessary.

Take 3/4 of oats mixture and press evenly across the bottom of your prepared pan. Set the rest of the batter aside.

Place the crust in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove crust from the oven. Spread blueberry filling over the baked crust.

Place dollops of the remaining crust batter distributed equally over the blueberry filling. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until crust turns golden brown. 

Remove from oven and set aside to cool before refrigerating to allow the filling to set completely.

 

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ​​​​​​​2 T. baking powder
  • 3 T. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup dairy-free margarine, chopped
  • 1¼ cup vanilla flavored plant-based milk
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups strawberries
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • Coconut whipped cream

Instructions

Heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor pulse together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the chopped margarine and pulse until course crumbs form.

In a small bowl or measuring cup combine the milk and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine, then pour over the flour mixture. Pulse until just combined and a sticky dough is formed.

Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake 15–20 minutes until golden brown.

Slice strawberries into a bowl and add coconut sugar. Use a fork to mash the strawberries a little to help release their juices. Set aside.

Slice biscuits in half and top with sliced strawberries and coconut whipped topping.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Ingredients

  • 3 T. peanut butter powder
  • 1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt
  • ​​​​​​​1 cup unsweetened almond milk, vanilla flavored
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. Truvia (stevia) sweetener
  • 1 T. dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 T. peanut butter (for topping)

Instructions

In a bowl combine the peanut butter powder, vegan yogurt, and almond milk. Stir until smooth. Scoot ingredients to one side of the bowl.

In the other half of the bowl, add the oats, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Stir to combine. Gradually incorporate yogurt mixture into oat mixture.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to overnight.

To serve, transfer to individual serving containers. Top each serving with chocolate chips and a drizzle of peanut butter.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 large banana, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tsps. cocoa powder unsweetened
  • ¾ cup plant-based milk (soy, almond, etc.)
  • 2 T. plant-based chocolate protein powder
  • 1 T. peanut butter, optional but recommended
  • 1 cup ice

Instructions

Combine banana, cocoa powder, plant-based milk, and protein powder in a blender. Pulse until smooth.

Add peanut butter and pulse again until smooth.

Add ice and pulse until crushed and incorporated into the smoothie.

Enjoy!

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