Chef Chloe Coscarelli has been leading the way in vegan cooking for years—she founded by Chloe, became the first vegan chef to win a network cooking competition and has authored four cookbooks. Throughout all of her game-changing career moves, she’s also found time to create a wellness routine for herself, which, as we all know, can be the most daunting challenge. As she prepared to head to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival last month, she took time out of her busy schedule to talk with Chowhound about her favorite at-home meals, and all the ways she makes it easy to stick to a vegan diet—even when she’s eating at a restaurant.
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Eating Food That Tastes Good Is Important
Coscarelli had just managed to make it to a barre workout class when we spoke with her and she was proud. That said, working out isn’t her top priority. “Working out? That’s like the hardest thing ever—I hate it,” laughs Coscarelli. “Especially just being around food—I’d much rather eat than work out.”
Wouldn’t we all, really? Over the years, she’s found that it’s easier for her to focus on her diet, which is strictly vegan, than to bust it to the gym every day of the week.
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“Because I follow a strict vegan diet, I forgot when it was, but at some point in my life I just kind of relaxed in terms of what I eat—as long as it’s vegan, I feel good about it,” says Coscarelli. “And I think there’s something to be said about eating food that tastes good and that that’s a practice of wellness in itself.”
From there, Coscarelli tries hard to only eat when she’s actually hungry, “which is super hard because I love eating when I’m not hungry, too,” she quipped. That said, when she’s not testing recipes for her upcoming cooking demos, projects, and television appearances she’s pretty good about making delicious, simple meals at home.
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“Lately, this year with the winter weather and the flu going around, I’ve been making soups for myself and it’s been really fun to make soups and not follow a recipe,” says Coscarelli. “I have a huge tub of miso always in my refrigerator which is super immune-boosting—so I do a huge tablespoon of that into water, which makes like a nice creamy, healthy broth and then I’ll add noodles, or I did black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck for the New Year. I [also] do tons of greens, whether it’s spinach or kale or parsley—anything green I’ll throw in.”
She loves making these kinds of soups because not only is it easy to use what she has on hand in her kitchen, it’s also easy to save for later. In general though, her favorite broth base for soups consists of three ingredients: water, miso, and garlic. A whole lot of garlic.
“The base for my broth that’s my go-to is water, a ton of garlic cloves, like maybe 20 [garlic cloves],” says Coscarelli. “I boil it for five minutes to soften the garlic, and then blend that in the blender with a big dollop of miso and you get like a creamy, garlicky miso broth.”
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This, of course, is just her answer to at-home meals that she knows and loves. But if you’re worried about maintaining a vegan diet when you’re out and about—she has a solution for that, too.
How to Stay Vegan When You’re Out and About
Coscarelli emphasizes that there are options no matter what type of restaurant you’re at. “I could go to a steakhouse and have a fine vegan meal,” she says.
“Order like a baked potato and add veggies in it,” says Coscarelli. “Some places have a vegan chili, or pasta’s always vegan as long as it’s not like fresh-made egg pasta. So I’m always ordering something weird.”
That said, she suggests eyeing the dishes on the menu that aren’t exclusively vegan as well. “Sometimes I’ll look at the dishes that aren’t vegan and I’ll see elements of them and ask to add those in,” explains Coscarelli. “For example, sometimes meat comes with a side of a vegetable or a bean dish and I ask them to put something together without the meat. And then, depending on where you live, even just having salads and adding double avocado.”
Embrace the Versatility of Vegan Smoothies
Her final tip for those looking to integrate vegan meals into their lives is to opt for smoothies for breakfast. Anything in her freezer is fair game.
“You can buy amazing different kinds of add-ins, whether it’s matcha in the morning for a little energy or spirulina, which is like a seaweed type of boost,” says Coscarelli. “I like to just throw whatever I have in the freezer—frozen bananas, almond butter, or dates for a little sweetness. Sometimes I’ll add cinnamon or vanilla extract to make it taste extra good, but I just throw [in] whatever I have in the freezer.”
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Mostly, Coscarelli wants people to know that any effort to integrate vegan meals into their diets is a great first start—and one that can add profound benefits to their overall health.
Header image courtesy of Christina Holmes