Welcome Jackie Sobon to my Plant Chat! I have the pleasure of picking the brain of the brilliant food blogger of Vegan Yack Attack, who has been a true force in promoting sustainability with her work featured on websites, such as KTLA News, Good Morning America, VegNews, Kris Carr, PureWow, Babble, and BuzzFeed. Not only does she blog, but she has also built her business as a food photographer and a vegan menu and recipe developer. She has collaborated with other plant-based authors, including Jason Wrobel and Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore; this gal does it all! Her recent cookbook release, Vegan Yack Attack On the Go! focuses on eating well while maintaining a plant-based lifestyle with easy recipes with accessible ingredients. When she is not contemplating her next creation or obsessing over vegan mac ‘n’ cheese (which is rare), she enjoys traveling, crafting, eating with friends, and spending time in the outdoors. Read on to learn more about Jackie’s journey into plant-based eating.
Tell us about your personal journey in the food world. How did you get started and what inspired you?
It all started when I was working full-time as a product designer. I wanted to cook more for myself to save money on the awful freezer meals I was buying for lunch. After a few months of learning to cook via All Recipes, and researching food and home products, I felt that going vegan would be the best way to be kinder to myself and the planet. A few months after that is when animal welfare came into the picture.
How has the power of food and nutrition impacted your life?
Quite literally, going vegan changed my entire trajectory. I became passionate about food, dove in, and went from a product designer to a cookbook author. Not only does my body feel better than before, but my lifestyle has changed for the better.
What is your personal eating philosophy?
My baseline is veganism, and from there I act in the line of “do your best”. Meaning, not everyone is perfect all of the time; I’m not going to beat myself up about it. But, I also try to eat wholesome, plant-based food as much as possible.
What do you think are the barriers for eating a healthy, plant-based diet?
Approachability and accessibility. When you make plant-based versions of meals that people know and love, they’re usually more apt to try it out. As for the other, making sure that the recipes I develop are accessible for people is very important to me. When I hire recipe testers, I make sure to pick people with various cooking levels and all over, to see how hard certain ingredients may be to find.
What inspired you to create your most recent book, Vegan Yack Attack On the Go!?
This book concept came from thinking back to what my life was like as a new vegan, working full-time. My significant other’s mother has just recently gone mostly vegan, so I used her point of view to see how I could make people’s lives simpler, but also even more delicious than when I started out.
Give us a peek inside your refrigerator/cupboard. What are your must-haves?
Non-dairy milk, nut butters, bulk grains, nuts, cans of beans, and an assortment of oils and vinegars, plus a bevy of spices! With all of that, you can do nearly anything.
What are 5 plant foods you can’t live without?
Onions, avocado, broccoli, banana, and tomatoes.
How have your family, friends, or lifestyle helped to shape who you are?
I was raised on convenience foods, because both of my parents worked more than full-time. Because of this, I didn’t know much about cooking. I want everyone out there to know that it’s not too late to try something new, and learn new things. It may be easier than you imagined! Also, that having supportive friends and family are key. If your family doesn’t support your lifestyle changes, find some friends that do, as this can help you get through tough challenges in life!
Some of my favorite meals to make are sheet pan meals! Chop, toss, roast, and voilà, you have a complete meal with very little active time and even less dishes. These tacos have a wonderful variety of textures and flavors, plus they are perfect for a weeknight dinner.
2 cups (270 g) diced and peeled butternut squash
2 cups (160 g) chopped baby bella mushrooms
1 can (15 ounces, or 425 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (160 g) chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sunflower oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups (295 g) chopped tomatillos, with husks removed
8 corn tortillas
1 cup (55 g) shredded cabbage
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
8 small lime wedges
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Place the butternut squash, mushrooms, black beans, and yellow onions in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat, then add the chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and toss again. Spread the mixture out on the baking sheet, leaving some space for the tomatillos.
Place the tomatillos on the remainder of the baking sheet, then place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Sprinkle with more salt to taste, if desired.
Warm the tortillas in either the microwave or on a hot pan until soft and pliable. Fill each one with some butternut– black bean mixture, then top with tomatillos, shredded cabbage, and jalapeño slices. Serve warm, accompanied by lime wedges.
Be sure that the squash is diced–not chopped. It is essential to making this recipe quick. The larger the dice on the squash, the longer it will take to roast!