Cheesy Vegan Nachos


Septembers in Chicago are an ideal time to visit – the fall foliage is stunning and the weather is just perfect. It also marks the return of football season. Whether you’re into college football or the NFL, it’s an exciting time! If you’re a sports fan like me, vegan game day snacks are hard to come by. Whether I’m at a bar for Sunday Fun Day or at a friend’s place, I typically have few vegan options. Loaded nachos are my weakness and cheese fries are always on my mind – but the vegan versions are only available at a few spots in the Windy City. I usually end up ordering take out from my favorite vegan comfort food spot – Upton’s Breakroom. I’m not sure exactly what’s in their cheese sauce but my goal was to recreate something similar at home. The cheese sauce in this recipe is great because it’s relatively low in calorie and dairy free. It’s also cashew free, so say goodbye to soaking cashews overnight for this one. Of course vegan cheese sauce doesn’t taste exactly like traditional cheese sauce, but it has a delicious cheesy flavor and texture that won’t make you miss the dairy. It’s creamy, spicy, and thick enough to use as a stand alone dip. I always try to use fresh ingredients in all of my recipes. Many recipes for nacho cheese sauce call for onion powder and garlic powder but fresh onion and garlic make this sauce over-the-top good! You’ll need a high powered blender or food processor to get the smooth texture. Feel free to add more jalapenos if you like it extra spicy! You can also use seitan chorizo or refried beans instead of black beans. I didn’t top my nachos with avocado because they’re already very rich tasting but you really can’t go wrong by adding some diced avocado. This sauce is also great on broccoli, cauliflower, and baked potatoes. I also use the base of this sauce in my vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. I hope you make some vegan nachos this football season! If you do make them, be sure to tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or Pin the recipe on Pinterest! And, of course, UMich Go Blue!



Cheesy Vegan Nachos

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 large bag of organic tortilla chips
  • For the cheese sauce:
  • 1 small carrot, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small white potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (about 3 tbs)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs almond flour
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 tbs vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • For the Pico de Gallo:
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (about 3 tbs)
  • 2-3 tbs lime juice (juice of half a lime)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Toppings:
  • 1, 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Vegan sour cream ( find the recipe here or use store bought such as Tofutti brand)


First, make the Pico de Gallo. Combine diced tomatoes, onion, minced jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl and chill. Boil potato and carrot in a small saucepan until they are soft all the way through, drain water and set aside. In a small saute pan, sauté shallot in vegan butter for about 2 to 3 minutes. Next add garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add jalapeno, cumin, paprika, and chili powder and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add almond milk, almond flour, nutritional yeast, and salt and whisk until smooth. Heat mixture until just boiling. Remove from heat and carefully transfer to a food processor or blender. Add boiled carrot and potato and blend mixture in food processor until smooth. Makes about 1 1/4 cups of cheese sauce. Assemble nachos in a large bowl: top tortilla chips with vegan cheese sauce, black beans, pico de gallo, and vegan sour cream. Serve immediately. May store vegan cheese sauce in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/4 cup cheese sauce: 103 cal



Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars



I am a little obsessed with cookie dough, I have to admit… Growing up, I used to make cookies just to eat the raw dough. Nothing has changed! I made this recipe using just 7 raw ingredients. You don’t need any special equipment such as a food processor or blender to make this recipe. These cookie dough bars are high in protein and gluten free. I love that they are minimally processed. I used my favorite protein powder in them from LivWell nutrition. It’s raw and contains 17g of plant based protein per scoop. These bars contain the right amount of fat to keep you going for hours. They’re great as a dessert, snack, breakfast, or pre-workout fuel. They taste like peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough and melt in your mouth. They almost remind me of fudge. Almond flour is great because it still tastes good even when it’s not baked. I used Bob’s Red Mill natural almond flour which is made from whole almonds with the skin on. That’s what gives these bars their speckled color. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my all time favorite combinations but you could substitute almond butter or your favorite nut butter instead. I lined my pan with parchment so that I could easily lift the bars out. If you don’t have a loaf pan handy, you can easily shape the dough into energy balls of any size before freezing. These were so good that I had to give most of them away! They are truly crave-worthy and so easy to make. This is a recipe I will keep making time and time again. If you decide to try it make sure you Pin It on Pinterest or tag me when you share on Instagram or Facebook @thefriendlyepicurean.

I lined my pan with parchment to easily lift them bars out after cutting.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3/4 cup almond flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill natural almond flour brand)
  • 3 tbs coconut oil (solid)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw vanilla protein powder (such as LivWell Nutrition brand)
  • 3 tbs creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand)


In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with a spatula or your hands until well combined. Press into a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan and freeze for 10-15 minutes. Cut into 10 squares to serve. Keep refrigerated. May store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per bar: 240 cal
  • Approximate protein per bar: 6 grams


Mocha Superfood Popsicles


We had our first day of warmer weather and sunshine this weekend. I love that first day of spring-like weather after a long winter. It’s finally time to put the patio furniture out, clean the grill, and open the windows to let the fresh air in. The warm weather inspired me to make these popsicles. The hardest part was waiting for them to freeze! I also had a hard time narrowing down the ingredients. The choices are endless for homemade popsicles but I wanted to keep it simple and healthy. I’m a coffee and espresso lover and have two coffee makers at home (one for espresso and one for drip coffee), so making a mocha pop was a no-brainer! I actually used decaf espresso for these so that I could have them at night and not stay up. The decaf version also makes them kid friendly. These popsicles are creamy, chocolate-y, and taste similar to a mocha drink you would order in a coffee shop. They will satisfy your craving for a mocha drink with about a third of the calories. These pops aren’t too sweet and contain no refined sugar. They also contain flax seed and chia seeds which add some fiber and antioxidants. This is just the beginning of my spring/summer popsicle making and I’m still learning how to photograph them without having them melt before my eyes! If you are looking for a tasty, easy, healthy treat then these are perfect. I used Polar Pops brand popsicle molds but also like the Zoku brand (both can be found on Tag us on Instagram or Facebook @thefriendlyepicurean with pictures!


Mocha Superfood Popsicles

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup espresso (or coffee)
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 6 pitted dates
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp flax powder


Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (such as Vitamix) and blend on medium speed until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate Calories per Popsicle: 71 cal


Polar Pops Popsicle Molds Set (Traditional Paddle Style) – Homemade Ice Treat Maker for Toddlers, Kids and Adults – BPA Free, Stainless Steel – Dishwasher Safe

Zoku Classic Pop Molds