Chickpea “NotTuna” Salad

Do you ever have those days where you reeeeeally don’t feel like cooking? I’ve had a lot of those this summer.



Maybe it’s because I’m living in a new city and I’m more interested in spending time exploring, hiking, and trying new restaurants – OR – maybe I’m just so hot and lethargic that I’m not in the mood to take my time in the kitchen.


Whatever the reason may be, I’ve been making this delicious, protein packed, and RIDICULOUSLY EASY recipe A L O T  lately. Busting out the food processor, instant pot, and all my other kitchen gadgets isn’t so fun for me lately, but this quickly mashed chickpea NOT Tuna salad is fun to make, super fresh, and AMAZINGLY tasty.

Disclaimer: You should know, this recipe is based on what I had in my fridge & pantry. You can make a million substitutions, and seasonings, etc. however you’d like to. I actually recommend trying the avocado vs. vegan mayonnaise substitute! Both versions are amazing in their own way. Also, change up the spices, try it out with celery, and try it with something besides a sandwich.


Have fun! This shouldn’t take long – and it’s well worth the little bit of work you have to put in to get it.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

Chickpea “NotTuna Salad”

Serving: 2 cups (enough for 2 big sandwiches or 4 rice cakes)
Time: 5 minutes


  • 1/2 can chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
  • 1 tbsp (vegan) mayonaise
    • OR 1/2 an avocado (mashed)
  • 1 pickle (diced)
  • 1/4 cup red onion (diced)
  • 1 green onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 lemon’s juice
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste (I used a pinch of each)


  1. In a bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork – pressing down firmly to smash. Smash 4-5 at a time until all chickpeas and mashed and it is a dry “tuna” like texture.
  2. Mix in vegan mayonnaise (or avocado).
  3. Add all other ingredients and mix – pickle, onions, lemon juice, chili flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper
  4. Enjoy served with crackers, rice cake, as a side, or on a sandwich with your favorite toppings & condiments.
    • Mine is pictured on super toasty wheat bread with dijon mustard, kale, red onion, and tomato slices.

Did you try this recipe out? Are you planning on it? Let me know!

How did you prepare it? What did you change about the recipe? And what did you enjoy it with?

Don’t forget to Pin for later, Post to Facebook, Share on instagram, or Wweet out the good news! The links are below!

Want to get my FREE 5-day Meal Plan? It’s packed with a grocery list, a calendar, and some great tips for trying out plant-based eating for the weekdays.


What’s My Why?

Many of you are friends and family, but most of you are people I have never met before. Some of the things I’m going to write about are deeply personal, but I know that if I at least reach one person with my story, I am doing something good.

View More:

When did I start cooking?

When I was a pre-teen, my younger sister and I used to experiment with easy-pre made foods. I would turn top ramen noodles into chicken-flavored pasta and add butter (seriously). We put ranch seasoning into mashed potatoes. Pizza bagels, and sometimes pizza toast, were an after-school essential (still so good, but now I use a tortilla).

In high school, however, I actually started cooking. I loved making omelettes with tomatoes and basil and feta cheese. I loved going to restaurants and trying new foods. I loved trying to recreate that interesting food at home, too.

I really think that college is where it all changed. Although I was living at my parents’ house for the majority of the time, I was cooking most things on my own. I also began cooking food for my friends and family. I loved looking up vegetarian recipes online and recreating them. The city I grew up in didn’t have much to do, so when my friends and I hung out, we were always making dinner together. It was something we all really bonded over and we all loved the challenge of making food we had never tried before.


After moving out of my parents’ house, my love and desire to cook and experiment in the kitchen really took off. And after leaving, California and coming to the Midwest (where there is almost nothing vegetarian), Todd & I cooked everything we ate. In the winter, cooking became a fun activity we did together. We would make spicy & tangy summer-y foods and dishes in the middle of a blizzard. We’d make warm and comforting soup, chili, and stew. We would sit down on Sunday afternoons and brainstorm our meals and recipe ideas for the week and then go shopping for ingredients.

View More:

So why do I do this? Why do I love creating recipes?

Reason 1:

It helps me battle something I’ve been dealing with for as long as I can remember. I have had a somewhat mild eating disorder since I was 12. As soon as I went through puberty, my perception of myself changed. My body was different, I wasn’t as “small” as everybody else at school (or maybe I was but I just couldn’t see it).


I told myself that it was all happening because of what I ate. At 12, who is watching what they eat? I certainly wasn’t, but I was telling myself mean things and making myself feel bad and question what I “had done” afte the fact. It is so weird for me to admit that to myself. I even just told myself, “No, you don’t have an eating disorder.” Honestly though, I do. I’ve always felt like eating and my body image were directly related.

So what does this have to do with The Cultivated Theorems? Well, creating recipes gives me confidence in what I eat. Cooking gives me confidence in my body image – as weird as it sounds. I know exactly what I am making and I can make it as indulgent or as healthy (or a perfect blend of both) as I like.

I am also incredibly proud of the food I eat – which my 16 year old self would have never eversaid. She would have said “why did you eat nachos at the football game”, even though everyone else did too. Or “why did you go with your dad to that fast food restaurant and eat that”, instead of realizing I just wanted to spend time with my dad. Or realizing I was overweight when I was in college and blaming it on all of those times I shouldn’t have done things like go out to eat with people I loved. I regretted getting excited about church potlucks and drinking vanilla diet coke. But you know what? Those things made me SO happy. My sisters and I would get DOWN at church potlucks and we loved every minute of it, including the moments to this day were we look back and laugh at how much we all love food. You can read more about my self-love discovery and story here


Now, my whole family & all of my friends ask me to cook for and with them. Cooking and making food is such a huge part of my life now and it has helped me deal with my self-image in more ways that I can probably fathom at this point.

Reason 2:

Cooking is a happy medium. What do I mean by that? Well, creativity and logic thrive in my kitchen.

I grew up in an extremely creative household. All of my family is artistic and musically inclined. They are really funny, too (which is definitely a sign of creativity). I took piano lessons, I loved making paper dolls by hand, I was always drawing at school, and I was in band.


If you haven’t read much of my blog, you might not know that I have a Bachelor’s in Mathematics. I chose this because I was simply in love with it. I got so excited when I was learning Calculus in high school. It wasn’t always natural for me, but it always felt like where I needed to be and what I always needed to be doing.

Cooking is the perfect blend of methodical problem solving, critical thinking, art, and general creativity.


When I’m in the kitchen, I thread my artistic abilities and tendencies through rules, ideas, theories, and mediums that are used in logical proofs. Cooking feels like a big mathematical proof that is limitless and can be approached in so many different ways. And sometimes, the vegan spin on it makes it seem like one of those math problems at the end of the assignment that are more challenging than the rest.


All of that being said, cooking is something I don’t think I could ever stray away from. Yes, I take breaks sometimes, and yes, I eat out sometimes. Yes, I buy frozen pre-made foods, too. But intentionally creating and making food feels like something that helps me utilize the best parts of me. I get to create, problem solve, and take care of myself – all at the same time.


P.S. many of these photos are my own,  but the really pretty ones are all from AB Photography, who extremely talented photographers in SE Minnesota.

Tell Me:

Why do you love cooking?
Does it have a sentimental value for you?
Let me know in the comments below.
And please let me know if you have any questions or want to chat about all of this!
You can comment or send me a private email at

Nopales & Mushroom Empenadas


Empenadas are Spanish food that are flaky, buttery, pastries and traditionally stuffed with beef. My take on it, however, uses some fresh produce and some spicy ingredients to bring you a tangy, citrus



So what are morales? Nopales are cactus paddles, but don’t worry – you don’t have to eat the spikes on the sides. In fact, you can usually buy them with them already removed.


Nopales are rich in fiber, manganese, protein, and vitamin C, too! If you cook them on their own, they have a tangy & juicy flavor, plus their texture is one-of-a-kind.



The wonderful thing about this empanada filling is that is the flavors blend and mesh so well together – not to mention the texture of all of these slow-cooked vegetables is so savory. The first time I made it to test it out, I told my husband that this was the best thing I’d ever tasted in my life – YEAH, it’s that good.



Not going to lie, though, this recipe is A L O T of work, it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, and you’ll be working the whole time. Want to make it easier? Find a buddy! This is a great recipe to make with friends & I can guarantee you’ve never tried anything like it.


So read it through, figure out what you need to grab from the store, and phone a friend! This will surely impress, too!

By the way, you can pick up nopales at mexican grocery stores & markets. I recommend calling around, first.


Nopales & Mushroom Empenadas

Serving: 14
Time: 1 hr 15 min

The Dough

dough recipe is adapted from the New York Times Beef Empenada recipe


  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 oz vegan buter
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. In a large bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over salt & butter. Mix until it has all melted together.
  2. In smal batches, add flour and mix continuously with a wooden spoon until it is no longer sticky & a warm dough has formed.
  3. Knead a few times on a floured surface (with floured hands!) and form into a ball. Wrap or cover and refrigerate for 1 hour

The Filling


  • 1 peeled potato, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (seeded if you can’t handle the heat)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 3 oz mushroom (oyster variety is best)
  • 2 nopales (cactus paddles) with spikes removed, diced
  • 1 tsp each:
    • chili powder
    • tajin (chili lime seasoning)
    • cumin
  • 1 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced


  1. Heat about 1 tbsp of water in a large pot at medium heat. Once heated, add potato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, & bell pepper.
  2. Saute for about 5 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add 1 cup water & bouillon cube – cover & simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked.
  4. In a frying pan, heat at medium-low with a tbsp of water or a bit of oil. Once heated, add mushroom & cactus.
  5. Saute for about 10 minutes – until the cactus is no longer crunchy – stirring frequently.
  6. After 10 minutes are up, add cactus & mushroom to the other pot of vegetables. Add chili, tajin, and cumin, as well.
  7. Cover until the 20 minute mark is up (you want potatoes cooked well).
  8. Once the potatoes are easily washable, remove lid and crank up the heat to medium. Mix up a bit and begin to smash the potatoes with a fork (roughly, doesn’t have to be perfect).
  9. Leave at medium heat without the lid for 15-20 minutes (until all liquid is gone). You want the filling to be thick, moist, but not watery.
  10. Remove from heat and add cilantro and the lime juice.
  11. While that is finishing up, the dough should be ready.

Putting it all Together

Have these items on hand:

  • a cup with some water in it
  • a small bowl with a bit of flour


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Separate the dough into golf ball sized sections (should make about 12-14).
  3. On a floured surface, roll a ball into a 6 inch wide circle.
  4. Add about 1 tbsp of filling to the center.
  5. Dip finger in water & run along edges of empanada dough (like a glue to seal it shut). Fold dough over into semi-circle.
  6. Seal by pressing down edges with a fork (see image above).
  7. Continue filling & folding with the remainder of dough and filling.
  8. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
  9. Brush a bit of oil on the top of each empenada and broil for 1 minute on top rack, or until they are golden brown.
  10. Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, or try out my easy no-soak cashew sour cream!

Tell Me:

Have you ever had an empenada before? What was in it?

Did you try the recipe? How did it work out? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget to like, share, and pin the recipe for later!


cactus & mushroom




Tofu Ricotta Calzone

I know, I know, everyone loves pizza. Its a heaven-sent food and blah blah blah – yeah, PIZZA IS GOOD. You get it. You know whats better?





Pizza folded in half. Have you ever had a calzone before? If not, just imagine the pizza you know and love so dearly with more saucy dough on top.





It’s an adult hot pocket. Its a fancy jumbo sized pizza roll. Its a hot sandwich. Its a miraculous pizza sandwich!



Amazing, right? All that being said, I have been dreaming up a recipe for a vegan-ized version of a calzone, but I needed the perfect cheese substitute.





To be honest, I have never been a big fan of store-bought cheese alternatives. The artificial flavor in it just turns me off and I can’t seem to ignore the peculiar after taste.





So it hit me – use tofu! So I decided to whip up & create a tofu ricotta cheese which, dare I say, is WAY better than regular ricotta cheese. Trust me. And, to top it off, too is such a healthier alternative to regular ricotta cheese – plus its packed with protein.





This tofu ricotta is wonderful in calzones, on pizza, as a dip, on sandwiches and toast, with chips, etc. Try it out!



One last thing, I was able to make these calzones easily because of my handy-dandy calzone press. They are fairly cheap and make the whole process of folding the calzone a lot easier! Check out for more nifty pizza making products!




Tofu Ricotta

Serves: 3 cups
Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup basil, cut in thin ribbons


  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for basil. Blend for a few pulses, just until it reaches a ricotta-type texture, but still a little grainy. Taste test and add more salt and/or nutritional yeast as preferred.
  2. In a small bowl, transfer tofu ricotta & mix in basil.

Vegan Calzone

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 10-20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce (I use the organic sauce from Costco)
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 2 16-oz packages of pre-made pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s – in refrigerated section)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Using a calzone press or rim of a bowl, press down to shape into a circle of dough. Flour on both sides.
  4. There should be 6 calzone doughs.
    FYI: they should not be super thin! You don’t want the calzone to burst in the oven.
  5. If you have a calzone press, place the dough into the press and fill. If you don’t, you can just do this on the floured surface and do it by hand.
  6. In the center of the dough, place a small spoonful of marinara and spread it evenly.
  7. Then add a small spoonful of the tofu ricotta, a 5-7 diced bell pepper pieces, and a bit of arugula. Keep in mind, you don’t want to overfill or the calzones will burst while baking.
  8. Once it is filled, use a bit of water and rub around the edges of the dough.
  9. Using the press, fold over (see pictures) and push firmly to “glue” the sides together.
  10. No press? Very gently fold over dough and push down on edges – use a fork to firmly press to seal edges
  11. Place on a greased baking sheet and/or pizza stone. Brush olive oil on top of each of the calzones and then cut thin slices (see pictures) so that they can steam while baking (and not burst!).
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Interested in the Calzone Press? They are super cheap and made by Pizza Craft!

This recipe is sponsored by Pizza Craft, but all recipes and ideas are completely original.

Tell Me:

What ingredient would you put in your calzones? Have you tried tofu ricotta before?

Did you try the recipe? How did it work out? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget to like, share, and pin the recipe for later!


Tofu Ricotta Calzones

Spring Rolls + Easy Peanut Sauce

Spring has sprung officially (but actually, unofficially here in Minnesota)!
Today is really nice, though, so I can’t complain!

I’m excited for colorful foods back at the farmers market, eating outside, going on more walks, and wearing less layers!


Warmer weather also makes me want to cook less. Anyone else feel this way? I just want to eat a bunch of fruit & veggies and spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.

So today I decided to whip up some spring rolls and actually write down how I make my tangy peanut dipping sauce.



These are fun to make with friends or with the family! They are a great snack or even an appetizer for bigger meals.


Disclaimer: you don’t have to use all of these ingredients in your spring rolls, and you can add other things too, of course – just make it your own and have fun with it! Don’t forget the fresh herbs, though – they make the flavor pop!


Spring Rolls + Easy Peanut Sauce

The peanut sauce can easily be used as a salad dressing, sauce for noodles, or anything else you prefer to use it for.

Serves: 6
Time: 10-20 minutes total

Easy Peanut Sauce


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 lime juiced


  1. Mix it all together in a small bowl until it has a smooth texture. Refrigerate if you prefer, but its great either way.

Spring Rolls


  • (6) spring roll rice paper
  • (1/4) red cabbage
  • (1/2) red onion
  • (1) tomato
  • (1) radish (I used black radish)
  • (1 cup) fresh cilantro
  • (1 cup) fresh basil
  • (1 cup) shredded carrot
  • (1/2) cucumber
  • (1/2) avocado
  • (1) bell pepper


  1. Cut up all ingredients (see photo for example) so that they are small enough to fit in a roll.
  2. Fill a large shallow dish (or large plate) with warm water.
  3. Place a rice paper in the dish and submerge it in the water for 10 seconds.
  4. Remove and place on dry plate.
  5. Fill and layer with the remainder of the ingredients in a relatively straight line.
  6. Grab one side of the rice paper and fold it over the filling and tuck under, slightly.
  7. Then, fold the left and right side of the paper over the filling, too, and roll until there is no more excess rice paper.
    This is confusing, I know, so here’s a nifty youtube tutorial 🙂
  8. Set aside on another dry plate until they are all done.

Tell Me:

What ingredient would you add to your spring roll? Have you tried it with tofu before?

Did you try the recipe? How was the peanut sauce? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget to like, share, and pin the recipe for later!





No-Soak Cashew Sour Cream

When I first went vegan, it always felt like there was something missing from my mex inspired dishes. I used to put plain greek yogurt on EVERYTHING.


Since going plant-based, I have tested and tried different methods to make a creamy and sour-ish spread to add to my food.

What have I tried?
Anything from “veganaise” mixed with spices – which I think is really tasty but I try to avoid processed products like that – all the way to soaking nuts overnight – which I hated because I will never responsible enough to remember to do that.


I use this cashew sour cream for tacos, tostadas, burrito bowls, salad dressing, etc!

That being said, I have created a no-soak fool-proof cashew sour cream that only requires 4 ingredients + some water! This sour cream is…



No-Soak Cashew Sour Cream


  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • water for “cooking” cashews


  1. In a small sauce pan, add cashews and enough water to cover them. Bring to boil, turn to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. While the nuts are on the stove, prep & add all other ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Once the cashews’ time is up, strain it and run it under cold water for 1-2 minutes – you want to decrease the temperature so that it blends well with the other ingredients.
  4. In the food processor – with all ingredients (including cashews and 3/4 cup water), blend for 4-5 minutes.
  5. You want the consistency to be extremely creamy with almost 0 grainy texture. Add more water if you want a thinner texture. Add more lemon and/or salt for more flavor.

Wanna turn it into a salad dressing? Add 1 tbsp of oil & 1 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar! It tastes great with kale, spinach, bell peppers, & onions!

Tell Me:

Have you tried out the recipe? How did it go? Are you wanting to save this and make it later?

Share it on social media! Buttons are below!

Want to see more goods from The Cultivated Theorems?
Follow me on social media: InstagramFacebookPinterestTwitter!






Tofuevos Rancheros

Tofuevos = vegan eggs or a tofu scramble. I know you were wondering!

Huevos Rancheros = the best food on the planet. For starters, it’s Mexican breakfast and we all know there is close to nothing better than that. Huevos Rancheros are corn tortillas smothered with beans and layered with eggs and tasteful toppings.



I had to veganize – it! So here are my Tofuevos Rancheros!

They are tasty, filling, easy, healthy, and take less than 30 minutes to throw together!


Tofuevos Rancheros

Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes (or less)


  • 4 corn tostada shells
  • 2/3 package tofu, diced as small as you can get it
  • 1 veggie burger patty (whichever brand you prefer – I use Dr. Praeger’s)
  • 1 1/2 cup beans, already cooked.
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup red cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • hot sauce and/or salsa of choice


  1. Heat 1 tbsp of water in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add diced tofu. Let cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat a small pan over medium heat with the veggie patty.
  4. In the meantime, you can prep / cut up your cabbage, onion, tomato, spinach.
  5. Once the tofu has started to brown up a bit, add another tbsp of water and start smashing w/ a fork. The consistency should be similar to scrambled eggs.
  6. Once they look scrambled, add turmeric, paprika, chili powder, soy sauce, and a bit more water. Let cook for 5 – 10 minutes. Taste test to make sure flavor has been absorbed by the tofu. Turn heat to low and let sit on the stove until ready to serve.
  7. While tofu is continuing to cook, use a fork to break apart the veggie patty so that it is in small chunks. Add herbs de Provence. Turn heat to medium-low to let cook.
  8. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat beans w/ 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for about 1 minute.
  9. Then, add salt & smash the beans with a fork (or immersion blender if you have it). Return to microwave for 1 minute.
  10. Once everything is ready, you can layer it up!
  11. Order of operation?
    1. Shell
    2. Beans
    3. tofuevos
    4. “sausage”
    5. spinach
    6. cabbage
    7. onion
    8. tomato
    9. avocado
    10. salsa / hot sauce

Tell Me:

Are you interested in trying them out?
Does this seem like an easy recipe for you?
Have you even tried scrambled tofu before?

Did you try out the recipe?

Share it and tag:
@thecultivatedtheorems on Instagram
@cultivatedthms on Twitter
or post yours on my Facebook Page!

Also, pin on Pinterest to save for later!


Tofuevos Rancheros