Alissa’s Story of Support and Success… plus Savory Recipes!


Since we closed out our “Excuse-itarian” series last month with an article about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and a great recipe for a creamy pasta, I thought it would be fun to focus on the different “flavors of success” in 2018! I have so many students with different stories about how they have found support and success on their journeys to becoming better versions of themselves, along with the delectable recipes they’ve created along the way! With Super Bowl celebrations upon us, I thought this would be ideal timing for you to learn about Alissa and the crazy delicious sandwich she will be serving during the game on Sunday.

Alissa Frey is a long time Lodian who is earning a culinary degree at Cosumnes River College and enrolled in my general nutrition class (NUTRI 300) and my hands-on cooking class last semester (NUTRI 331). While she hadn’t anticipated making any significant changes to what she put on her own plate, it didn’t take long for the challenge to spark her interest, and even inspired her to earn a second degree in nutrition! Enjoy a behind the scene view of where she found support and success, in her own words…

Family can be the biggest contributors to one’s success, and this is certainly the case for me. I started my plant-based journey towards the end of September 2017, however, it was not the first time I was introduced to the idea. I have a cousin who was the first in our family to “make the switch.” Family occasions were always fun, and with my cousin’s food preferences in mind, I found it more of a challenge than a burden, to find alternatives we could all enjoy. We started tweaking what we served during the holidays, and one by one, each of our family dinners began to include some tasty plant-based alternatives to our “old standbys.” While I actually enjoyed the variety, at that point, I was not ready to give up animal products in my own diet. Up until this past fall semester at college, I was convinced that what I was eating was good for me, even though the scale and multiple doctor’s visits told a different story. I decided during an extra credit assignment in my nutrition class, that I would embark on this plant-based journey and see for myself if the good things that I had been hearing were real or just hype! Spoiler alert… That was more than 4 months ago, and I am still going strong!

Each day presents new experiences, and I couldn’t have asked for a better support system than that one I found in my family! My cousin has been a hugely positive influence and supporter of my switch! Once I accepted the challenge, it was easy to for me to get excited about it, I was ready to try new dishes from day one! Whenever I had a free moment, I would search the internet for recipes of plant-based alternatives to my old favorites. My cousin and I would chat for hours, sometimes passing recipes back and forth, considering the best options to try. Where she currently lives, it is difficult for her to prepare a lot of food for herself, so I enjoy preparing dishes at home that I can freeze, so she can pick them up when she visits. We have quite a great system going, since she gives me ideas and recipes, then I get busy having fun in the kitchen and she can enjoy them at home. I really get excited doing this, because I really love connecting with her and seeing the joy I bring to her when she picks up food to bring home.

Another important figured in my life who supports me daily, is my aunt. At least a few times a week, when I’ve found a plant-based recipe that I can’t pass up, I call her and let her know that she’s to expect a helping or two. While she is not entirely plant-based, she loves trying new things that I cook for her. I know I can trust her opinion and she’s very forth coming of constructive criticism. It is so helpful because she gives me great suggestions and we get to talk about changes we’d make to improve the recipes for when I make them again.

Having love and support from my family is really important to me, because I would definitely feel a bit lost without them. It can be much easier to give up on your goals if you don’t have anyone to push you to be the best you can be. These two women in my life have, and always will, make a positive impact on my life. I am just so lucky to have them. I look forward to times the three of us get to be together, which includes Super Bowl Sunday! I have been working on my own recipe for one of my favorite sandwiches, and I can’t wait to share it! If you are unfamiliar with jackfruit, this is the perfect recipe to try! Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that can weigh 80 pounds or more and when cut open in its unripe form, can be used in savory dishes to replicate “pulled pork” or “pulled chicken.” Thankfully, you won’t need to pull out a machete, since jackfruit canned in water is showing up on supermarket shelves. Not only did I make BBQ jackfruit sandwiches with a coleslaw on top, but I decided to go all out and make my own BBQ sauce and creamy dressing for the coleslaw, from scratch!

BBQ “pulled” Jackfruit Sandwiches
It took quite a few adjustments, but once I perfected this recipe, I shared with my
aunt and neighbors, and everyone gave me a thumbs up! – Alissa Frey

“Frey-style” BBQ Sauce (makes 20 fl oz of sauce)
This homemade BBQ sauce is free of refined sugar. Adjust the seasonings to fit your taste preferences, even adding hot sauce if you like your BBQ sauce spicy!

14 oz can stewed tomatoes, with garlic and onions
½ cup of water
1 tsp date syrup* (or maple syrup)
¾- 1 tsp molasses
½ tsp smoked* paprika
¼ tsp Liquid Smoke
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp ground mustard
1 ½ TBSP balsamic vinegar
Salt/pepper to taste

In a blender, combine stewed tomatoes with the reminder of ingredients until the consistency of the sauce is very smooth.

“Pulled” Jackfruit

While Alissa prefers to use her pressure cooker, she also included instructions for preparing the dish on the stove top.

20 oz can of unripe “young” Jackfruit canned in water (available at Trader Joe’s)
1 cup of “Frey-style” BBQ Sauce (or your favorite brand/recipe), or more to taste

Place jackfruit in pressure cooker with 1 cup of water and set it to pressure cook for 30 mins. If you do not have a pressure cooker, simmer jackfruit in a saucepan until tender and easy to shred with a fork. Mix 1 cup of BBQ sauce into the shredded jackfruit, adding more BBQ to taste.

Alissa’s Creamy Cole Slaw Dressing (makes 6 fl oz of dressing)

This coleslaw was a HUGE hit during our NUTRI 331 lab final!

½ cup of vegan mayonnaise (Professor Hagenburger has a great oil-free recipe in her book!)
¼ cup of unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp of onion powder
2 tsp of date syrup (or maple syrup)
½ TBSP of lemon juice
1 TBSP of apple cider vinegar
12-16 oz package slaw mix (shredded red and green cabbage with carrots)
½ cup of green onions (sliced)
¼ cup of sesame seeds, white or black


Combine dressing ingredients (except for green onions and sesame seeds) and pour over shredded cabbage, being careful not to but over dress the slaw. Top with green onions and sesame seeds.

Assembly Instructions for sandwich
On the bottom half of a whole grain bun (Dave’s Killer whole grain buns shown in picture), place a generous amount of BBQ jackfruit, a couple of scoops of coleslaw and a sprinkle of green onions and sesame seeds. Add the top bun and grab a few napkins, as this sandwich just might get a little messy!

The Nutrition Professor’s Cook Smart, Shop Smart, Eat Smart Tips
*Find oil-free vegan mayonnaise recipe online (or in The Foodie Bar Way!)
*Be sure to use smoked paprika, as the flavor is dramatically different than “regular” paprika.
*Date syrup can be purchased or prepared at home (recipe here and in The Foodie Bar Way)
*This sandwich filling and coleslaw combination is quite versatile, as it can be enjoyed in a whole grain tortilla or steamed collard green as a wrap, on top of a baked sweet potato, over a bed of quinoa and steamed kale, or… let your imagination run wild!

Timaree Hagenburger, a registered dietitian, certified exercise physiologist with a master’s degree in public health, and is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College. She had such a blast during the first semester of the new Plant-Based Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture certificate program, with students like Alissa in her hands-on cooking class! Timaree also conducts local events, corporate wellness work, has a regular segment on California Bountiful TV and published her first cookbook – The Foodie Bar Way: One meal. Lots of options. Everyone’s happy. available at – where you will also find details about Timaree’s upcoming events (cooking demos, book signings and talks about the incredible power you yield with your fork!).

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