Stress Eating & Saffron Cheese Sauce

December 14, 2012

Hi there and happy Friday! Well, we made it through another week. This was a tough one, I gotta say. I’m not sure if it’s end-of-the-semester stress, holiday blues or simply hormones, but I struggled emotionally this week. I don’t always have the best coping strategies for stress, either, and overeating is certainly one of my go-to tools. I think my habit to use food for comfort goes back to early childhood and those types of things are definitely hard to replace, though not impossible.

This was the stack of flashcards for my Medical Terminology course. Ironically, the card on top contains the suffix for the word "pain" which totally describes my experience with this course! This was the stack of flashcards for my Medical Terminology final. The card on top contains the suffix for the word “pain.” Hmmmm, irony?

There are a couple of reasons why I feel like this tendency to overeat is getting better, however slowly. First of all, the scope and intensity has diminished significantly over the years. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had an episode of binge eating, although that feeling of being out of control still exists. Also, the types of foods that I might overeat on now are much, much different than they used to be. Still, even overeating on relatively healthy foods is not a good feeling or health-promoting.

The second reason why I feel more positive about the situation because I do have a lot more healthy stress-relieving tools at my disposal including working with a professional therapist on my overall emotional health, exercising regularly and connecting socially. For these reasons, I feel that the situation is getting better for me.

I’m sharing this with you is because I know many of us struggle with overeating and this time of year can be really hard for many reasons. It can be so frustrating to know rationally that eating a whole food, plant-based diet is ideal for our health, but to feel unsatisfied emotionally by those foods, especially since so many of us tie our comfort to food. I suppose the bottom line is to recognize and learn to deal with the fact that food is not the source of our emotional comfort and to replace that feeling with a healthier understanding.

Well, okay, thanks for indulging my need to express my thoughts on that. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that eating for emotional comfort is something I struggle with. Some of the previous posts where I’ve addressed the topic are here. Also, I feel compelled to remind you that if you are struggling with your emotional health, then please do seek professional help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and you can start by looking on this website called which is sponsored by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

I’m so excited to share a new dish with you today that is so easy and delicious! I was inspired to try a cheese sauce made from nutritional yeast after getting my recent purchase in the mail. I can honestly say now that there is a difference in flavor between varieties of nutritional yeast and it pays to find one that you really like. My sauce only has five ingredients, yet I thought it tasted totally gourmet and elegant. Here’s what it looks like in the Vitamix before I blended it:

Saffron Cheese Sauce in the Vitamix.

It took less than a minute to get this sauce:

Saffron Cream Sauce.

I decided to make some steamed cauliflower and kale to go with the sauce. I was really lazy so I just piled the veggies in the steamer, cauliflower on the bottom, kale on top:

Cauliflower and Kale in the steamer.

Eight minutes of steaming and the veggies were good to go. Here’s my bowl with the cheese sauce on top:

Veggies with Saffron Cream Sauce.

I have never used saffron before and it added that gourmet flavor; I loved it!

Do you have any healthy vegan recipes to share? If so, please add them to the Healthy Vegan Fridays blog link-up party below. The three most popular recipes from last week were these:

1. homemade vegan pizza from chasity @ my healthy chef

2. red lentil and spinach curry (vegan tikka masala) from janet @ the taste space


3. bite-sized turtle candy bars from rachel@ almonds & avocados:


I am sending all of you warm thoughts for a healthy, happy weekend. I’ll see you back here on Monday where I’ll be blogging from my temporary residence for the next two months near Palm Springs, CA, where I’ll be enjoying palm trees, desert trails and sunshine!

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Renate December 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

the lentil spinach dish looks great. but i see this

1/2 tsp Aleppo red pepper flakes
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
2 tsp garam masala

in the ingredient list. where do you get those things?


Carrie December 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Hi Renate, good questions. I assume you can use just regular red pepper flakes and paprika found at any grocery store. The garam masala is an Indian spice but I have found it at natural food stores. If you can’t find it, you can leave it out or substitute a blend of cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. Does this answer your questions?


Ceil Hook December 14, 2012 at 8:15 am

That cheese sauce sounds so good. I want to say that I enjoy your blog very much. I enjoy your recipes, and I relate to many of your food-related struggles. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope with us.


Carrie December 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Thanks, Ceil, I appreciate the note. :)


Jan-Marie December 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

Carrie ~
Another great looking recipe from you! I have saffron in my cupboard and I remember Dr. F. suggesting we use more of it. Of course, it is very expensive, but I will give these “cheese” sauce a try. I love your recipes so I’m sure this one will be a hit too!

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the sunshine in your home away from home. :-)


Carrie December 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Thanks, Jan-Marie! BTW, you are more than welcome to come visit us in PS, I believe there are direct flights from your area! :)


Kim December 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Wow… thank you for sharing that.
I felt like I had a very good handle on my emotional eating habits and have been in very healthy habits since having gone vegan 3 years ago. But something happened recently that has me back on a bad track. I know it’s only temporary, but sometimes I beat myself up over more than I should and it’s nice to see a post like this as a reminder to be gentle with myself.

And your cheese sauce looks delicious!


Esen December 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Great post. And that sauce looks delicious! I’ll have to try it:)



Debbie December 15, 2012 at 7:42 am

I too am struggling during this holiday season. It has been hard for me not to slip into old indulgences. Thanks for sharing!!!


Carrie December 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I’m glad this post helped you, Debbie! It’s hard to stay committed to healthy eating and I just wanted everyone to know that it’s something I struggle with, too.


Jeanne December 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

Hi Carrie!
I too am struggling with this holiday temptations. Thanksgiving was easy , nothing tempted me but for some reason everything looks good for xmas.
I was waiting for my saffron to arrive and UPS came to rescue and delivered it before lunch time. It was such an easy recipe that I made it and served it on broccoli, it is great! Both my husband and I enjoyed it. My question is, when you have a recipe that contains nuts to make a sauce, do you eliminate your nut serving for the day?
take care,


Carrie December 18, 2012 at 7:24 am

Hi Jeanne! So glad you liked the saffron sauce, I love the idea of serving it on broccoli…yum. To answer your question about monitoring the consumption of nuts/seeds in a sauce, the answer is that I do try to estimate how much I eat and then add that to my daily tally. My general rule of thumb is to get some nuts and seeds with each meal, not too much and not too little. If I am using a sauce that contains either, then I won’t add anymore to the dish.


Kath January 17, 2013 at 3:12 am

Carrie, I just wanted to say I made up a batch of this sauce at the beginning of the week and I love it. It’s so creamy and decadent! I’m had it with tempeh scramble, water sauteed veggies and the last few days I’ve been using up the last bit by thinning it will a little water for a really lovely salad dressing.

Thanks so much for this and so many other recipes. I would have been lost on my plant based journey without your site and you are a total inspiration!


Carrie January 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

Wow, thank you Kath!!! Your comment makes me feel so good. I’m so glad you like the Cheese Sauce, I thought it was pretty darned yummy myself. I love your idea to thin it out for a salad dressing. xoxo. :)


debbie January 31, 2013 at 8:48 am

I love your dressings.
Can’t wait to try this one.
Thank you-


Carrie February 1, 2013 at 7:13 am

Awww, thanks Debbie! :)


bettylion February 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Where did you get that steamer? I do not own one, but cooked vegetables in 8 minutes sounds great. I like that yours has a window!


Carrie February 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi Betty! My stainless steel steamer basket came with my pressure cooker from B/R/K…I purchased it online here:


Nancy Nurse March 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Carrie, what is your favorite nutritional yeast and why?



Carrie March 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hi Nancy! I’m away from my computer at the moment, but my fave nooch is listed under my resources page. Let me know if you can’t find it. :)


Manda April 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Would it still taste good without the saffron?


Carrie April 22, 2013 at 7:00 am



Norma April 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

I would live to try your sause but I can’t have the yeast know of anything else I could use ( I’m allergic) :/


Carrie April 23, 2013 at 5:48 am

Hi Norma! The sauce is great even without the nutritional yeast. You might want to substitute some other flavorings, though, like dried herbs or even some fresh dill or something like that. Give it a try and let me know!


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