The Beet’s 21-Day Plant-Based Challenge is somehow reading my mind and feeling all my cravings!

First, on Day 11, a Chickpea “Tuna” Salad recipe landed in my inbox, which I used to re-imagine the Tuna Melt Deluxe of my diner-going Jersey shore adolescence.  Then, on Day 16, The Beet sent me JD Raymundo’s recipe for sweet potato gnocchi, which sounded intimidating but actually read easy enough to inspire my vegan culinary confidence, so I gave it a shot. Bonus: It happened to be Friday, which is our standing  “let’s-just-stay-in-tonight, babe” date night with my fiancée So I thought: What better than a warm, cozy dish of homemade gnocchi to ignite that new vegan, err… let’s just call it chemistry… we were feeling while both on The Beet’s 21-Day Challenge.

The Ingredients

I had everything on hand, including a monstrous sweet potato that was so ugly and imperfect I’m positive only its mother loved it.  I also had nutritional yeast and smoked paprika.   I baked the sweet potato for the prescribed 50 minutes on 400 degrees, then let it cool before cutting it open and scooping out its soft, mashy goodness. I used gluten-free white flour instead of regular.

The Method & Modifications

It was so easy and fun to make—I felt like an old Italian nonna while I kneaded my sweet potato dough and rolled into ropes.   I had to use a lot more flour than the recipe called for, probably because my sweet potato was from another planet, and eventually had four long dough ropes laid out on my counter.   JD’s right, it was really tough to make the gnocchi look pretty and get those perfect forked ridges to come outright, but I gave it my best effort.

For me, sweet potatoes cry for butter, garlic, and onion rather than a typical red pasta sauce, so once the gnocchi was floating atop my pot of boiling water, I melted Miyokos vegan butter in a frying pan with a healthy pour of olive oil, added minced garlic, shallots, and salt and pepper.   Once the flavors combined into a buttery sauce, I gently transferred my gnocchi from the boiling pot into the sizzling pan using a slotted spoon.

Instead of JD’s suggested “quick fry,” my gnocchi needed at least 10 minutes to get the golden crispy shell I desired—protecting what ended up being a perfectly light and fluffy inside.   I finished it off with a pinch of Maldon sea salt and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese, which I learned from other recipes is a simple food-processor-pulsing of cashews, garlic salt, and nutritional yeast.

The Result

Delizioso!  While my gnocchi definitely wasn’t the prettiest (must’ve been that sweet potato’s fault), under romantic dim lighting and a big glass of cabernet, it was very tasty and comforting.   My fiancée was super impressed and loved every bite, which also made for a very happy date night for me (wink).  This one earns a permanent spot in my recipe box!

Bottom Line

I have lost 5 pounds in a little over two weeks and while I started this journey to be healthier, and because my father was recently diagnosed with dementia, it's been a pleasure to feel amazing, clear-headed, unbound energy, much less inflammation, and overall healthier! The one time I did have dairy, my nose ran like crazy, so no more of that for me. I am sold.